Monday, March 31, 2008

A Lovely Morning at the Zoo

This past Saturday, we took Camden on his 1st trip to the zoo. I wasn't sure what to expect of the zoo here in Americana, Brazil but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!

Here's the best reason why the zoo here is so's FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it???? A lot of people actually go walking/running around the zoo for their exercise. Which, if we lived closer, would be an excellent option for us.

The zoo wasn't as fancy as some zoo's in the U.S., obviously because they don't have any income from guests. But it was very clean with a lot of South American and native animals, of course they had lions and tigers and giraffes.....even a few penguins which I felt really sorry for!

Camden was loving it because it had hundreds of different kinds of birds, and birds are his favorite! "Bird" was one of his first words here in Brazil. He even does the sign for bird too!

And I was loving it because they had a lot of monkeys and monkeys are my favorite! Another really great perk about the zoo is that there are tons of trees and plants......and the trees give you shade almost throughout the whole zoo. The weather here has been perfect lately, in the low 80's, and the trees were a nice benefit to have walking around.......or both Camden and I would have turned a very nice shade of pink!

Here is a great pic of Camden walking with Daddy and Grandma, with him pointing out something that must have been really important!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cheap Pampering in Brazil

Here I am getting a manicure and pedicure at home.

Yes, you can say it, I'm getting spoiled in Brazil. It's funny to see what costs more or less then in the U.S. Most everything here in Brazil is more expensive then the U.S. But I have found something that is a lot less expensive, and has to do with some pampering for me.

I'm talking about manicures and pedicures. Let me just tell you how great they are here. First, I don't have to go anywhere. The lady who does it, comes here to the house and does both my mother-in-law's and my nails. Second, she even does the "fancy" painting flowers on your nails. Third, and this is the big one, it only costs R$12. In Dollars, thats about $7!!!!!! For BOTH a manicure AND pedicure with all the fancy "extras". So are you jealous yet????

In the U.S., a pedicure was only a rare treat for me, because I could find a lot more things I could buy with the $24 I would spend on a pedicure. But it was a fun girls day to call up my friend Sarah, and go relax in massage chairs, read magazines, chat, and have someone else do the job of filing off the nastiness of my heels. And I NEVER got a pedicure AND a manicure (except for my wedding), because there was no way I was going to spend so much money on that. Another thing I never did was get the fancy "extras" like flowers painted on my nails because they were an extra $5. (I did get flowers the day before I came to Brazil though, because I needed MAJOR help with my feet from going from winter in CO to summer in Brazil....and flip-flops. I couldn't hide my feet in Brazil, so I wanted them extra pretty and splurged on some pretty flowers.)

Here in Brazil, the women get their nails done once a month. So, I figure that I may as well adapt to the culture a bit and treat myself to the monthly mani-pedi, with the fancy "extras"...........for only $7!!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Muito Muito Mosquitos

Or in English, that would be: Many Many Mosquitos.

Last week we were in Belem, which is at the mouth of the Amazon, and spent 2 weeks visiting a church there. We stayed on a big plot of land that the church owns and each of the pastors live in their own house there. They even have a guest house, which we were blessed to stay in. (Even though most of the time we only had cold water to shower with.)

Here is a pic of a soccer game in progress and a couple of the houses on the land.

It is very hot and humid in Belem, which is the perfect breading ground for mosquitos and various other bugs that like to bite. By 5 PM we had to shut all doors and windows to keep the bugs out, then turned on the air conditioning. The 1st week I was there, I didn't have any bites at all. Camden was getting some, so I made sure to rub as much bug repellent on him as possible.

Towards the end of the 2nd week, some bites started showing up. I'm from the land of big mosquitos in North Dakota, so I'm used to bites. And usually you feel when they bite. But the mosquitos that were biting me were of the VERY tiny kind, that you can't even see. Well, by the time we left I had so many bites all over me, it was crazy! I counted on ONE leg, knee down, more then 50 BITES! Just on ONE LEG, KNEE DOWN!!!!!!!!!! Whenever someone sees my arms and legs they just do I! (It takes about 10 minutes just to find them all and put anti-itch cream on them.)

After about a week, they are beginning to fade, but still occasionally itch. This pic isn't very good, but hopefully you can see all of the bites. The ones on my feet were the worst!

So, for future reference, if you travel to Belem, or the northern part of Brazil, NEVER GO WITHOUT MOSQUITO SPRAY!!!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Brazilian/American Easter

Happy Easter! And as our church in CS would say, "Happy Resurrection Sunday!". Here in Brazil they do things a little differently, so we made our Easter a little bit Brazilian and a little bit American (with some of my family traditions).

In Brazil they don't dye eggs. I know, it's hard to believe. They don't have any PAAS egg dying kits to buy, but I wanted to dye eggs anyway, so we did them with food coloring. And to tell you the truth, I wouldn't go back to the PAAS kits after using the food coloring. The eggs were super bright compared to the kits. I invited over our nephew Gabriel, and Renato's cousin Isabella to help us. I instructed them in the basics and then let the creativity begin. It's always fun to see how everyone decorates their eggs.

Here we are having fun decorating.

Even my mother-in-law joined in the fun!

Instead of chocolate bunnies, they have these hallow chocolate eggs filled with your candy of choice. In the stores they hang them above the isles and you just look around until you find your favorite kind and pull it down. This is what they look like both opened and with the packaging:

A few things that I loved about Easter as a kid, besides dying eggs, was making a bunny cake with my mom, and my grandma's raisin buns. So I decided to incorporate these into our Easter this year. I've made the bunny cake a few times before and always have fun decorating it. I had to get a little creative this year because the candy I'd normally use, they don't have here. I'm talking about JELLY BEANS people! You heard me correctly.......they don't have jelly beans here! I know, very sad. So I had to find new sorts of candy, but it worked well.

Here's another close-up of the bunny cake because I know you're amazed at my mad bunny-cake-makin'-skillz. :)

The new thing I tried this year was trying to make grandma's raisin buns (A.K.A. Hot-Cross Buns). As a kid, my cousins and I would take hand-fulls of these buns and just eat them all day long. I found a recipe on the internet that looked close and gave it a try. They turned out pretty well, but of course they're still not like grandma's. (I even had to use an oven that is gas that has no temp. control that is about 20 yrs old.....YIKES!)

SO, it was a great Easter. I'm reminded again that I'm in Brazil because we're relaxing in front of the TV, watching a soccer game. :) Now that's a Brazilian Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Surprise Package

The day we got home from Belem, there was a surprise package waiting for us from my good friend back home. The box was full of all kinds of thoughtful things. When I say thoughtful, I mean REALLY thoughtful! Here is a picture to reference what was inside.

There were a bunch of diapers in ziploc baggies. I had mentioned once to Rachel that the diapers here were really bad, so I'm so excited to have some really super absorbant ones. Even though Rachel doesn't know this, the ziploc baggies she put them in are a huge treat too, because here they are super expensive and only sold in packages of about 8 at a time. So, I'm re-using all the ones I have from when we moved, now I have a few new ones! Yay!

There were some packages of gum, which is always a fun treat!

There was a birthday present for Camden, new shirts and shorts, which he'll look very handsome in!

There was a huge bottle of Wrinkle Release spray, which I laughed my behind off when seeing it! An earlier post was about how I need to iron EVERYTHING here in Brazil, so Rachel was thoughtful enough to send some "magic" spray with. I can't wait to use it!! (My mother-in-law thought I was crazy when I showed it to her......she's from the old school----her way of ironing is always better! She even irons the underwear and socks!!!!)

Then I saved the best for last. The one that made me cry and cry and cry. Rachel knows my love-language is words of affirmation. So she wrote out a huge stack of encouraging notes for me. On the front of each is the date I'm supposed to open it and read it. This was totally inspired by God. I got to open the 1st two because the weeks were already past, and each one had a scripture and encouragement that went right along what I was going through those weeks. Needless to say, I cried my eyes out because I felt so loved and blessed. Renato just hugged me....I don't think he knew what to do with me crying over notes and wrinkle releaser! :)

Anyway, I was just so blessed by all of these thoughtful gifts, and will continue to be blessed each week as I read the notes. What a special friend Rachel is...........thank you my friend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Belem, Brazil

After my parents left to go back to the U.S., 3 days later we traveled to the northern part of Brazil. Belem is a city that is close to the mouth of the Amazon river. Renato had traveled there a few times and has become close to a church family there. I was excited to go and meet everyone from the church, especially since there are some women there about my age, with small children, and they speak English. (I don't know any women here in Americana my age except my sister-in-law.)

We stayed for 2 weeks. Renato traveled into the Amazon for a week to visit some churches and learn more about a healthy food they have there and that is becoming more popular, called Acai.

I had lots of time to spend with the people there, with Renato being gone for a week. What's really interesting is that all the pastors and worship leaders from the church live together on a big piece of land. Each family has their own house, but they live very close to one another. They have a soccer field, a volly ball sand pit and all sorts of other buildings there as well.

We had a good time there in fellowship with the church. Renato was able to minister to the church and preach at 3 services during the weekend. I had some bad experiences with mosquitos (I'll write about that in another post), but it was really nice visiting with all the people there. Camden got to play with some other kids his age, so that was fun for him. He also had a lot of room to run around and lots of people to carry him around, so he loved it!

Here is Camden with some of the girls that loved to play with him and carry him around.

Saying good-bye to Daddy on the boat he traveled on into the Amazon.

Camden with his new friend Andrea and his little buddy Caleb.