Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Girl(s) Room

This room makes me ooze happiness because it is finally real and it is finally filled with giggles and noises and cooing of the little girl I've dreamt about it for so long. I began to put this design board together as soon as the ultrasound tech shouted out the news, a flashback from my interior design days/futures to help Paul see why I needed to spend so much money visualize the space. 

We didn't give Clem her own room, our lives change so quickly in the State Department that one years room is the next years family's office. At this point a certain space labeled "my own" doesn't really matter, it is more about the things that are in it, the people.

This lifestyle also presents its own design challenges. Without being able to run out to the store and purchase just exactly the things you want for distance or cost or quality, you must improvise. Thankfully I was schooled in the art of interior design and let us not think that a whole ID degree go wasted on a photography career I use it on a daily basis.

We received the option of a "Layette" shipment to Brazil to the tune of 250lbs. We were able to purchase a few items and gathered them together at Paul's mom's house in Florida, where movers came to pack them up. With a strict list of approved items provided from the "GOV" and online shopping from afar we scaled it down to the bare minimum, a crib and a crib mattress. All the other things were recycled from our home, created or purchased online and shipped from the States.

After three months of sleeping in our room, in a bassinet, Paul evicted Clementine. I would have kept her in that bassinet until she was 16, no matter how awkward sleepovers might have been. 

I eventually gave in and let her move out. I helped her pack her pacifier and her blankie and waved and cried as she disappeared into the horizon as she moved ten feet away into the next room. I do still have the bassinet in our room, though, I don't quite know how to let it go just yet. A time will come soon enough, accompanied by a band of movers and they will force me to let go. I'm guessing they will be big and strong and I won't fight them. One can never tell, though.

I carved out a spot in my office, arguably one of my favorite rooms in our Brazilian home. It is my space for creating and dreaming, it has wonderful light that floods it in the afternoons and creates ripples on the ceiling from the reflections that bounce into it from our pool just outside. The sounds of early morning parrots chattering outside and late evening chittering of tiny monkeys flow throughout it and they all now mix beautifully with a tiny little girl cooing and singing as she falls asleep and when she wakes up.

If I could bottle the hormones and nesting instincts that come along with the eighth month of pregnancy, I would be like the next Sewing With Nancy. I boycott all baby bedding and have never found, in three kids, a set that I've adored. The boys only ever had a simple white bumper and white sheets, but when I knew I was having Clem, I knew she called for something couture.

I took a leap of faith: I purchased this book and the fabrics online and I set to work. Beneath the doubtful stares of Paul, I channeled my Grandmama and I sewed like I was on Project Runway and in just about four days worth of nap-times I'd completed the bumper and the crib skirt. I have never been more proud (of my sewing accomplishments) since the crazed laundry basket I sewed when I was eight months pregnant with Sam. I happen to think it is all perfect, no more so than when sweet Clementine is filling it all up.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chef Clem

No sugar necessary. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dia Do Folclores

Yesterday I picked Sam up from school and asked the usual questions: 

M: "How was your day at school today?" 

S: "I can't remember."

M: "What did you do today?"

S: "Where is Peter?"

M: "What was your favorite part about school today?"

S: "What did you and Pete play with today?"

M: "Well that must have been fun."

S: "It was."

But, occasionally he'll offer something up randomly on our two minute drive home that is not at all an answer to my question just a snippet that slips free of the oath of secrecy that I'm now sure that schoolchildren take upon entering preschool:

"Tomorrow is going to be super fun at school, we're going to learn about fire spitting snakes and things that live in the woods like men with fire for hair!"

Having just seen this photo taken at school of Sam holding the Brazilian flag, saluting it and perhaps even singing the Brazilian national anthem...which he knows...from singing it at school, I thought for sure that tomorrow would be the final day of his transformation into a full Brazilian. The Shaman would be traveling to Brasilia from deep within the Amazon and teaching Sam the final and most important notes of being Brazilian just before they slipped him some wild mushrooms and he took a vision quest within the parquinho at school. Then I remembered it was Dia do Folclores:

He still seems pretty American to me, but only time will tell. This is his best fire-spitting cobra face.

Weekend Review

 Ok, so maybe this was Thursday, but it's always the weekend with kids, right? No? Sleep deprivation? Well, it's always the weekend at Yogoberry then!

Thanks to people that still offer to take our photos here like we are tourists, I have this photo of all of us. It still strikes me as funny that people offer to take our picture in front of places like Yogoberry because we live here, but not really when I think about it because no matter how hard we try to fit in and become Brazilian we are so obviously not. Even though we want to be. We had Yogoberry and parquinho time where Peter adopted a Brazilian family at the park, joining the mom on her bench, playing frisbee with their family and begging for snacks. He is quite the charmer.

Also, they're sharing! They're really sharing! ...and they like it! I didn't even have to yell at them. Something about frozen yogurt with gummi bears, mini m & m's and marshmallows brings siblings together like free money.

Friday Clementine decided that laying down is for babies (which it so is):

She also decided that rice cereal is awesome. Way awesome, "Give me more or I'll eat your hand" awesome. This is pretty much what I look like when I'm really hungry, so she comes by it rightly, just ask Paul:

Our maid/nanny, Sheyla aka my "Weekday lady-husband" was here to witness and partake in Clem's first cereal feeding and it was awesome. Watching her little mouth discover  a new texture and her eyes light up...and then turn crazed with desperation for more like a little rice cereal vampire.

Also laying down in the bathtub is for babies.

We headed to McDonalds for dinner on Friday night, because when in Brasilia...We downed some of their new "real potato fries," which are so real and potato-y that they aren't really McDonalds anymore, but what can you do. We support the image change.

Peter, budding engineer that he is, proved to you McDonalds, that your cone-shaped cone is not going to get in the way of his ice cream break and thus crafted this "nugget cone holder" (Which for the record is still not real chicken).

Seeing Double? Yes that is Petey the boy with Petey the giraffe sandwiched between double blankies. "Back-up blankie" and "real blankie."

Saturday morning I headed out for a run and afterwards met up at Peter's salon for the haircut he requested and one for Paul, too. Peter has decided he loves having his hair cut as much as I do and wouldn't you if you could sit in that cool car, watch cartoons, play with toys and video games and eat lollipops. These kid-loving Brazilians are genius. 

This is Peter's guy, who he is always sure to confirm "Is my guy here?" before entering. His guy also happens to be named "Pedro," and Pedro and Pedrinho have bonded over hair and Brazilian songs about dogs making "xixi" (pee pee).

He even scored a little gel this time and style session making him look exactly, WAY TOO OLD and nearly confectionary.

Double Brazilian thumbs up. That's how Brazilian we are now...when we eat at Subway...the day after we ate at McDonalds. Food nostalgia dies hard.

Then we waited for Paul at his barber. Where I stay in case I need to drive him home from severe blood loss after his usually "nickish" beard shave.

I whiled away the minutes nursing the baby shopping for hot Brazilian work out wear. While the boys entertained ten Brazilian men in waiting just inside the shop.

Cheekentine Hanna:

Saturday at naptime, I made a fort for Peter in the form of a quilt over his crib. Sam was so jealous of it that we later found him snoring beneath Clementine's crib. He had dragged his pillow and blanket and her sheepskin rug beneath it and zonked out. We thought a bear had snuck into her room until we finally discovered him sawing logs.

Saturday night, Date night: We may be overindulging a bit in our Saturday night date nights recently, but we've found at this point in our marriage, that is it vital to our success and our ability to reconnect away from the chaos that is three children under the age of five. So, while we have Sheyla, we will continue to throw down date nights like we used to throw down margaritas. (FYI: Now we throw down a single adult beverage, some good food and yawn our way home to a 10pm bedtime) We are so hardcore. 

We are also storing up date nights like chipmunks store nuts for winter, so that when the time arrives too quickly that we move back to DC and we can't find, let alone afford, someone who loves our children and wants to change their diapers and kiss their dirty faces we can pull out a nut of a memory of exotic Brazilian date nights and power through Saturday nights at Chuck-e-Cheese until we get to India.

This weekend we headed to a highly recommended joint in Asa Norte, Fulo do Sertao, which was, if I must be honest, the most wonderful restaurant that has ever happened to us....since Kee Grill. (For those of you late comers, that is where we met and fell hopelessly in love over trays of surf and turf and bottles of wine and whining complaints of snowbirds. Memories!

We ate food from the northeast of Brazil: acaraje and escondidinho, sipped a giant bottle of ice cold Antartica from tiny glass cups and listened to the most soul soothing music played by a band of collected men and women who sat around a table and jammed on drums and tiny tambourines. No one could stay still and most danced in between the tables and in the entryways. Grown men hugged and shed tears at the next table over. I could barely make it through dinner without shedding tears myself, of happiness for the time not so far from now when we will have to leave this beautiful place. I can't bear to go there now, not while the Antartica still flows and the Forro still plays and my friends are just a few conjuntos away.

On Sunday we awoke at 6:30 am, a gift from the Gods of Toddlers and Newborns. The sun was already up, which seemed to happen quite magically while we were asleep, usually it happens quite methodically in front of our begging, sleepy eyes. I took to the kitchen for my usual weekend baking and something like 4 hours, 12 sticks of butter and 5 hungry mouths later created this: Monkey Bread. Which I had to explain to a horrified Sheyla this morning, does not actually contain monkeys. This would only beckon explanation in a country where our backyard is infested with the little scavenging hooligans.

It wasn't all baked goods and date night dreams though, to keep it real I must admit at one point I did enlist the services of the always terrifying Shell Silverstein to frighten the children into good behavior. Thanks Shell! Works every time.

Until next weekend.....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Words With Pete: 2.5 Years

Garbage = "Bargage"
Coconuts = "Cococunts" 
Chapstick = "Stop-stick"
Watermelon = "Watercia" (Watermelon + Melancia)
Backwards = "Backworks"
Armpits = "Arms-pits"
Portuguese = "Porkacheese"
English = "Engrish"
Rhinocerous = "Naaaahhhhsus"
Stack or Pile = "Stack-a-pile"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Team USAwesome

It might be hard to believe when I say I couldn't have done this race without my three children, but it's true, even though I ran alone. 

Before I had babies, distance running was a chore, I always did it, but I never really enjoyed it. I even ran a few 5k's here and there. I was much better suited for soccer or short sprints, something that didn't leave me alone with my thoughts, I already had plenty of time for that. When I was somewhere close to eight months pregnant with Sam and had curtailed my Crossfit workouts because I could no longer do cleans out and over my belly, I promised myself and Paul that I'd never complain about running again after he was born and for the most part, I haven't. 

Pregnancy is a gift (for a million tiny and one big obvious reason) but is also a big, fat and (usually) temporary glimpse of why we should be thankful for our health and our mobility. It also proves to an unappreciative (of my body) naturally slim, childless woman-child that this body is not just a vessel for navigating life, it is a tool and if used correctly it is capable of absolutely amazing things. For me it took a supportive and infallibly encouraging husband, a few children and a handful of awesome friends to recognize this.  

Among the many reasons I decided to give birth to Clementine at home, naturally, was to use my body to its utmost potential, to prove to myself that I could do it the way it was meant to be done, because it is (in all normal healthy pregnancy circumstances). When it comes to my body, I always hold back a little, afraid to push the limits, to do "too much." But, I've learned that you have to push a little past your comfort zone and when you do you often open up a whole other chamber of your potential that you would have never known possible. 

I struggled with my body image after the births of each of the boys (plus a little anxiety and a gripping bout of postpartum depression with another), I don't know who doesn't, but mine often takes on an unhealthy form of self hatred executed with extremely negative self talk. In an attempt to sideswipe this on the third go around, during and after Clem's birth, I set up a good plan for myself: I would keep working out in some capacity, running--->walking---->crawling until the bitter end. I would have an easier recovery (as I had previously learned was possible after having had Peter in the hospital, naturally, accidentally, after having a really tough recovery after Sam's birth with an epidural in the hospital) and I would be able to get back on the road earlier.

After three healthy pregnancies, three healthy babies and a completely natural home-birth, I had finally realized the respect that I should have had for my body all along and I finally began to make peace with it and trust it...and I won't lie, it is still a process. Of course it doesn't hurt that this time around we are living in Brazil, where bodies are celebrated no matter their size, healthy and "robust" is better than "crazy-skinny" like we value in the United States.

Just three weeks postpartum I went for my first run. It was slow and it was not very pretty, but it felt good:

Body: 1, Self Hatred: 0

Just three months postpartum, I ran my first a Brazilian, spandex, floral unitard with a keyhole cutout at the back to feature all my hard earned pregnancy back fat. Yes, I did:

Body 2, Self Hatred 0
 (Ok I didn't exactly love my postpartum body in that unitard, but I rocked it anyway)

This past Sunday I finished (I had run one previously, but bailed at mile four due to a crippling side stitch) my first 10k ever, part of a four person marathon relay team, USAwesome....and we were. Four moms, a collective eleven children and let me tell you if there is any more thankful runner than a running mom,  I just don't know who it might be.  

I find myself out on the road now so thankful for the peace and quiet, just my feet pounding the pavement. I don't run with music, but I do talk to myself and I tell myself, "You gave birth to a baby! In a bathtub! You can keep running. So do it." And I did. 

Body: 3, Self Hatred: Still at bay.

In addition to the motivation from my friends and Paul and my kids, I'm also reading this. Which is beyond awesome.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012