Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ubatuba, Brazil

Since my parents are here visiting, we thought it would be a great time to head to the beach. When Renato and I were here 2 years ago, we went to a beach-front town called Ubatuba, and loved it, so we thought we'd take my parents there. It's about a 4 hour drive, but so worth it. It's a nice little town that is totally family oriented. In the little hotel where we stayed, there were 4 other babies there too. So Camden made some friends.

I love the beach and the water, and Renato is practically part fish, so we were hoping Camden would love it as well. He liked to walk in the water and sand, and liked to play with his beach/sand toys, but didn't really like to touch the sand, which is a problem if you're at the beach.

My parents loved it! My dad became a beach bum while we were there, and being a hard-working, 365 days a year farmer, it was nice to see him relax. His goal was to get a nice tan to show off in North Dakota. :)

We had a great time there......well, most of us did. Poor little Camden got his first ear infection while we were there and had to go to the emergency clinic and was pretty sick. But with his little fun personality, it didn't slow him down too much while we were there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Camden's 1st Birthday!!

I cannot believe it, but my little boy is now 1. He turned 1 on Feb. 17th. Since we just recently moved to Brazil, I had my mother-in-law and sister-in-law be in charge of it, because I had no idea what a birthday in Brazil was like. Well, I soon found out. Birthday's are a BIG deal here. I felt like I was preparing for a wedding instead of a birthday at one point. :) There were lots of decorations (100 balloons to be exact), and lots of sweets, and lots of people.

Lets start with the food. My mother-in-law made the cake, which was awesome. But in the U.S., cake and ice cream is about it for most simple birthday parties. Well, not only did we have a HUGE cake, but candy on every table, then we wrapped these coconut candies all SEPERATELY (yes, people, one-by-one!), there were about 75 of those. We wrapped them in this thin fancy paper...........just to make them look nice. (Brazilians are all about the details and how things look----unlike my personality, I really don't think about details all that much.) OK, then we had to make these little balls of frosting type stuff. There were 2 kinds, chocolate and coconut. The chocolate ones were rolled in sprinkles, and the coconut ones were rolled in coconut. Then placed in individual little cups (like miniture cupcake cups). There were about 325 of those little things. Then we had to buy other cookies and then my mother-in-law made sweet rolls. YIKES!!!! Yes, we all had sugar highs and overloads after the party!!!!!!

Now lets move on to the people. Renato comes from a large family, so we had to invite everyone in the family. Thank goodness that my mother-in-law was busy and wasn't able to call everyone until a day before the party, so many already had plans. So thankfully only about 35 people showed up............yes, I said ONLY. It could have been a whole lot more!!!

And of course Camden was oblivious to it all and just was happy to clap along when everyone was singing to him 2 different birthday songs with different languages. He did get to dig into his little cake, but he doesn't like stuff on his hands, so he really didn't like it. He did enjoy licking his hands though.

It was a great birthday that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law did a great job with. I'm just thankful I wasn't in charge, because I had NO IDEA that it was going to be this big of a deal. And it was super special because my parents are visiting from North Dakota, so Camden was able to celebrate with both sets of grandparents, and that's what was most important.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Life Lessons

Living in the U.S., as an adult I never had to iron clothes much. We have dryers that can take out pretty much all of the wrinkles if you take your clothes out of the dryer as soon as they are done. Well, here in Brazil, dryers are hard to come by. They are too expensive to buy and much to expensive to run because they take a lot of energy, and electricity is expensive here. So not too many people have dryers. Since it is a land of warm weather, everyone hangs their clothes out to dry. ALL of their clothes. Underwear included! I had to get over the modesty in this while seeing my underwear flapping in the wind for all to see, but noone seemed to notice (but me).

In the 4 weeks since we've been here, I've gotten over and moved past underwear hanging up for the world to see. But, I'm still trying to swallow ironing the clothes. As a young girl, my mom had me "practice" and learn to iron by ironing my dad's hankerchiefs. I absolutely HATED this job. I hated ironing. I would complain the whole time, "Why am I ironing something thats going to get full of snot and buggers? YUCK!!!" After I mastered the hanky's, mom moved me on to more complex clothes. Which I still hated! This hatred for ironing went with me through college and into my married life. I only ironed things that REALLY needed it. And most of the time, I'd just throw it into the dryer with a damp washcloth for a few minutes.....and presto! The wrinkles were gone.

Back to Brazil and present time.......there is no dryer to throw my wrinkled clothes into. This means, I have to iron them. While ironing this morning, the memories of me ironing my dad's hanky's came to mind. And this was my life lesson that God reminded me of today. "Never hate lessons/skills learned in your youth. You never know when you'll need to use them."

Never in a million years would I have thought, at age 12, that I'd be living in a foreign country without the basic element of a dryer, needing to iron all of my clothes. Thank goodness mom made me practice on all of those hanky's!! What a life lesson learned!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A little slice of "English" heaven

My hubby took me out on a date last night, and I must say, it was a little slice of heaven. :) We went to the Mall here in Americana, which is a big hang-out place for lots of people. It's THE place to go in the evenings. (I think it's because it's air conditioned.) I love going there, not to shop, but people watch. And let me tell you, brazilian people watching is highly entertaining! I love watching the women walking around in their high heel/strappy sandals and dresses. (Yes, women REALLY dress-up to go out here...........even to shop.) I'm just impressed they can walk for long periods of time in those shoes! Very impressive!

Anyway, there is a movie theater in the mall. When we visited Brazil when we were first married I remember Renato telling me that the movies here are in English, then Portuguese is in sub-titles. I thought this was kind of odd for them, but GREAT for me! So last night felt a little like being back in the good ol' U. S. of A. We got popcorn (here they don't smother the popcorn in butter, so that was good), Peanut M & M's (I couldn't believe they had REAL M&M's because I hadn't seen any US candy here yet, so I was VERY excited), and Fanta to drink. I'm not sure why, but when I'm in foreign countries, I love drinking Fanta. It's my beverage of choice, although they have my Diet Coke here too, I'd just rather drink Fanta. So the seats were big and cushy, just like the newer theaters in C/S, and as I was praying during the previews (that the movie really was in English), when the movie started I held my breath, waiting for the sound of English...........and there it was!!!!! I took a deep breath of relief and sat back and enjoyed the movie, popcorn, M&M's, and Fanta, all the while feeling like I was back in the U.S.

It really was a little slice of "English" heaven. Unless you've been in a foreign country for a long period of time, you have no idea how tired your brain gets from trying to figure out what everyone is saying. So last night, my brain got a break and I was able to enjoy a wonderful evening with my husband.

I was Tagged

OK. I'm not too sure how this tagging thing works, but I'm trying to figure it out. I'm just glad I got the rules to copy and paste! So here it goes.....

(1) You must post the rules on your post before you answer the questions.
(2) You need to list one fact about yourself using each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name use your maiden name instead.
(3) When you are finished with your answers, you tag on person for each letter of your name.

D--"Desperation" I love this band from my home church of New Life Church in C/S CO. I got to attend a few of the conferences while I was living there as well and they were awesome. The CD's are some of my all-time favorite worship music.

A--"Am learning Portuguese" OK, I'm pulling at words, but it works. I'm currently using Rosetta Stone to help me learn and of course I'm completely surrounded by it, so that helps as well.

W--"Water" I love water, swimming in it, playing in it, hearing the ocean, hearing running water, watching water-falls. Water is so soothing and calming for me.

N--"Noodles" OK, I really mean Pasta, but Noodles works too. Pasta (Noodles) is one of my favorite foods.

I'm sure glad I have a short middle name! :) I have no idea how to "tag" anyone, so I'll skip that part, but I'm impressed I got this far.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Brazilian Health Insurance

Coming from the U.S., I wasn't sure what to expect with health insurance in a different country. In the U.S., private health insurance is pretty expensive, with not a lot of coverage.

The other day, Renato and I went to check into health insurance here in Brazil. I was shocked at how easy and cheap it is. Praise God! They have different plans, but they are all good, with great coverage. We got a plan that covers all of us and since I'll probably be having a baby here again sometime, we wanted good insurance. Well, the plan we got has a $9 co-pay whenever you go to the Dr. (I'm used to paying $40 for my group insurance from the school district.) and we got a private hospital room rate so that when I do have another baby, I'll have a private room. I really didn't think I needed this, but I figured that after giving birth in another country, I probably wanted as much privacy as possible. And the difference was only about $20 per month, so I figured I'd go to the hospital in style. :) So the grand total for all 3 of us is $125 per month. And the REALLY exciting thing is, when I do get pregnant and have a baby, EVERYTHING is covered. We don't have ANY out of pocket charges! Did you hear that????? NOTHING! Praise God!

So far, I'm very impressed with Brazilian insurance. Now I guess the other test is finding car insurance and seeing how much that is. First, we need to find a car though. I'm trying to swallow the prices of cars here. The cars are 1/2 the size and twice the price as the U.S. Anyway, Praise God for good health insurance prices!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Grandpa's Garden

Brazil has lots of fresh produce. It's amazing all the different types of fruits and vegetables they have here that I've never seen before. So it's been fun trying all the new produce. Some are extremely good, others are not so good at all. Like Guava. I love eating guava in different sorts of food in the U.S., or drinking it in juice, but picking a guava off of a tree and eating it is entirely different. I've tried them over and over again hoping that I'll like it this time, but no such luck. To me, they taste like a cross between a tomato and some kind of fruit. I just don't like them. Everyone else around here loves them though.

Renato's grandpa has 2 huge gardens that he takes care of. He's retired and 87 yrs old, but he has a full time job taking care of his gardens. In ND we have some pretty big gardens, but nothing like this. And he certainly has different sorts of produce in them compared to ours. It's fun to walk through his garden with him. He finds all sorts of things for you to try. He has everything from corn, to bananas, to lettuce, to pomegranite. I took a few pictures to show you. These pictures don't do justice to how large it is though. It's always a good day when you can visit grandpa's garden!