Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

OK, so I'm not really new to Menu Planning. I've been doing it for awhile, but just not "officially". I thought if I'd put my plan online it would help me stay accountable a little bit better. Also, I love to look at other people's blogs for ideas on menus, so I thought I could join the party. You can check out more menu ideas at

Since I live in Brazil you'll notice a few things. First, I'm only going to plan for lunches. The main meal here is lunch, not dinner in the evenings. It's also worked out nicely with our schedule to have me cooking the big meal in the morning, so it works great for us, especially since Renato is also working from home. Also, Brazilians eat and cook fresh rice and beans daily. I am not a Brazilian. I CANNOT eat rice and beans every day. I just can't. But I've compromised and I do cook them usually 2 times a week. And actually it's kinda nice because you don't have to come up with a "new" idea for every day.

Like I said, I'm not going to post my breakfasts or dinners. Breakfasts are rotating fresh bread from the corner bakery with cheese and meat, or homemade granola with fresh fruit and corn flakes (the only non-sugar cereal here in Brazil). Dinners we just sort of come up with at the time....leftovers, sandwiches, anything.

So, here goes.

Monday--Rice, beans, baked honey-mustard chicken, fresh salad with tomatoes

Tuesday--Baked potatoes with cheese and hambuger BBQ for toppings, fresh salad with grated beets and carrots

Wednesday-- Meat Tortellini Carbonara, and left-over ratatouille (frozen from last week)

Thursday--Rice, beans, grilled steak, eggplant with tomato sauce, fresh salad with tomatoes

Friday--Spaghetti made with home-made tomato sauce we made last week, fresh salad

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Busy Days

I know that all of us have busy days. Especially those mommies who have more than 1 child to take care of, but I just want to know, where do the days go? They are going by so fast! I know I only have one little blessing right now (with one more on the way of course), but it amazes me how the days and weeks seem to be just flying by. And of course those certain days when Camden is really crabby and needy seem to go by super slow...of course. But in the grande scheme of things, even those "bad" days go by fast.

Today was a good day. We all woke up fairly happy to start a new day, because we all know, we don't all wake up like that every day. (Especially if Camden decides to wake up super early and start "singing" or talking when it's 4am.....) But today started off well. I got up with a list of things to get started on. Laundry, baking, preparing lunch, etc. So I was off and running as soon as my feet hit the floor. I ended up spending the whole morning in the kitchen baking and cooking. When I finally sat down to eat lunch, I sort of collapsed in the chair and ohhhh, did it feel good to finally sit down after a long morning of standing on VERY HARD tile floors.

I was exhausted by 1pm, but I felt so accomplished when I looked at all I got done. I got 2 loads of laundry done, baked 2 delicious pans of banana, zuchinni, chocolate chip bread (which I'll share the recipe for soon), made a double batch of granola, and cooked up a HUGE pot full of Kneophla soup (a North Dakota favorite soup made out of little dumplings).

I love days like this! It feels so good to be able to take care of my family in practical ways and feel so blessed that we have more than enough provision for our little family. I'm counting my blessings today that I'm healthy, blessed with a wonderful family, and loved by an amazing God who leads me with a gentle hand along the path He has for me. On days when discouragement and discontentment stir in my heart, I need to remember wonderful busy days like today and count my blessings.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brazilian Weddings

I've been to 2 different weddings the past 2 weekends here in Brazil. I thought they were pretty interesting, so I wanted to give you a "peek" into some Brazilian culture.

The 1st wedding was for Renato's cousin. It was fairly big and traditional. The ceremony was held in a Catholic church. The only main difference I saw was that they have a different way of having attendants. They pick married couples generally to stand up for them and as many as they want. At this wedding there were probably 10 couples. The couples stand together and actually face the congregation and the couple, up towards the front. And they don't have matching dresses or suits. They just wear any style/color formal dress they want, as well as with the suits. So it's quite colorful.

The reception was in a big hall across town. They served bite sized cheeses and meats, sandwiches, along with grilling some yummy beef and chicken. It was nice and all were having a good time. Renato's family is very large so I even got to meet a few aunts and cousins I hadn't met yet. Camden had fun chasing other cousins around and getting lost in the big crowd. (there was a guard at the door so I knew he couldn't get out of the building, so we just let him run free!)

The second wedding was much different. It was for Renato's friend. He lived with Renato a while in Denver many years ago. The wedding was in downtown Sao Paulo, the 3rd biggest city in the world, that is about 1 and 1/2 hours from us. This time Camden stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. The wedding was late in the evening and weddings always start late here in Brazil, so I knew there was no way Camden would make it. (We didn't make it home until 1:30 am!)

I also had a hunch that this wedding would be on the fancy side and thought we needed to dress up a bit more for this one. Boy am I glad we did! When we walked into the hotel where it was at and saw the people and how they were dressed, I still felt a little under dressed. The price of a room at this hotel was $20,000 (reis not dollars) a night. Yikes! This was a small wedding of about 70 people or so. Renato had some friends there, so it was nice to catch up with them too.

This was the 1st wedding I had ever been to that had nothing at all to do with any religion whatsoever. It was just done by a justice of the peace. They still had the couples stand up for them, maybe 6 couples this time. But it was sad because there was nothing touching about the wedding at all. They just all signed the certificate (all the attendants too) and then they exchanged the rings. No vows, no music, just totally dry. It only took about 15 minutes total....and that's stretching it.

Then it was hor d'ourves and open bar time, which lasted about an hour. But the exciting part was, it was all very fancy with waiters walking around with the "snacks" and drinks. And I got to try caviar(sp?) for the very first time. It was good, just tasted salty. After about an hour they escorted us into the formal dinner, which was very yummy. They had music and dancing. They also had complimentary cigars for your enjoyment. (Thank goodness we left just as some were starting to "enjoy" them.) This was definitely the fanciest wedding I had ever been to.

So two weekends, two very different weddings. It was fun to see a little bit of how culture can differ here in Brazil. And I'm totally bummed I didn't bring my camera to either wedding!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11-Where were you?

Another September 11th is upon us and once again we all go back to that scary day 7 years ago and remember.........

I was single and teaching 5th grade at the time. Our school started at 8am and I always got to school very early to prepare for the day. So I had no idea what was going on. The kids came in as usual and another teacher came into my room and asked if I'd heard what was happening. I can't remember who it even was or what really happened next. She told me that something was happening in New York, and that's all I knew.

My schedule was that my students had "specials" (music, art, pe, etc.) at 8:15, and for about an hour. As soon as I dropped the kids off, I went straight for the office. Everything was buzzing. The phone was ringing off the hook, everyone looked frightened. The principal said she had a TV on in the library with news coverage, so the other teachers that had some "free" time and I all went to the library to watch. At that time the first tower had only been hit. While I was standing there with unbelief and confusion at what was happening, I watched the second plane hit. I couldn't contain my emotions any longer. I just was praying and thinking about all those people.

Well, after "specials" were over, I had to go right back to teaching and put on my best face. Of course the kids knew right away that there was something wrong. They saw the shock on my face and tears in my eyes. I told them generally that something very bad was happening. (I have no idea what I actually said, but it was something along the lines of terrorists attacking the US in New York and Washington, D.C.) Then of course that opened up all sorts of questions. What are terrorists? Why would they want to kill Americans? And so forth. All that I can say is that I did my best job answering the questions. Then of course, being a teacher, we just had to move on with the rest of the day.

A lot of our kids in that school had parents in the military, so those kids were especially nervous. Then we had all kinds of parents coming in and pulling their kids out of school for the day. I have no idea how I even managed to get through that day.

I do remember driving home in some sort of trance. All the while looking around me at others in their cars and wondering how they were taking the news. Did they know anyone killed? What were they thinking? Usually driving home I'd just zip right past everyone and not really care about the people in the other cars or really think about them or their lives at all. But not that day. We were all Americans. We were all in shock. We were all affected in some way. It didn't matter if we were democrats or republicans, christians or jews, young or old. We were all Americans, and that's what united us together.

We remember. Where were you?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Girl's Day Out

Yesterday I had a lovely day with some of my students, which have become my friends. Both of the girls had the week off and invited me to have a girl's day out with them. I, of course, jumped at the idea of actually getting out of the house, and being able to spend some time with some girls.....which I don't have much opportunity for. Since we've been here in Brazil, if I've gone anywhere, it's always been with Renato. There are many reasons behind this. 1. We only have 1 car and I need practice driving a stick anyway, so I'm kinda scared of driving here. 2. Language...meaning, I don't speak it very well. 3. I'm just not "independent" here, like in the U.S. I can't conduct any type of conversation well enough to really be out on my own. (although I do try!)

SO, yesterday was the perfect opportunity to get some much needed "girl time" and to practice my Portuguese. And practice I did! I spoke more Portuguese yesterday then I have in months! (I guess that just proves I need to get out more without my "translator", AKA Renato.)

We had a great time exploring a city about 20km away. We went to the mall, then to a riverwalk sort of place. It was lovely to be out by the river. It was a little hot yesterday, so being by the river cooled us off. Here are some pics of Barbara, Viviane, and me by the river.

I also got to try something new yesterday called, Caldo de Cana. Which is juice made out of sugar cane. It was really interesting. They guy just ran the sugar cane through this machine that squeezed the juice out, then also squeezed in either some pineapple or lime. The pineapple was good, but a little too sweet. I mixed it with some lime and it was yummy! It's so fun, because they just do this in a little cart stand along side of the roads here. Renato doesn't like it, so I never had tried it before. I definitely exceeded my "sugar intake" for the day with just one cup of that stuff!

Here's the sugar cane ready to be squeezed.

Here's the juice guy running the sugar cane through the machine to squeeze it.

Here we are enjoying our yummy juice!

What a blessing this girl's day out was! I look forward to more!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Meme

So this is a different sort of "Labor" day that some bloggers are celebrating in blogland. It's fun, so I thought I'd join in. You can check out the other "Labors" at Rocks in my Dryer.

How Long Was Your Labor? 15 hours

How Did You Know You Were In Labor?
Well, since Camden was 7 days late, and my Dr. was leaving town on vacation, and there was room for me in the hospital, they started my labor with pitocin. I didn't originally want to have pitocin, but when you're a week overdue, you're just ready for that baby to come out!

Where did you deliver?
At Penrose Community Hospital.

Yes. I also didn't want an epidural, but after 7 hours of pitocin enduced contractions, and still only dilated to about 4, I gave up. I was already getting tired. I'm so thankful I did because I still had a long way to go. And with Camden having such a HUGE head, I needed to push for almost 2 hours. If I wouldn't have had the epidural, there's no way I would have had the energy to push his big head out!

Epidural story? (OK, I made that one up.)
My 1st epidural didn't work. I thought it did because it took away a lot of the pain. But after about 15 minutes I was having a lot of pain again. Well, the Dr. who does them was now in surgery, then he had an emergency c-section. So I had to wait another 1 1/2 hours for him to come back to do another one. comes the good part (or not so good part, if you were me), he couldn't get them to work. Yes, I said "THEM". He poked me and "tried" 8 times before he finally got it to work. I heard him at one time say, "OK, I'll try one more time." That's when I wanted to turn around, grab him by the shirt collar, and scream in his face, "You better get it right then, Mr.!" But thankfully, I held my composure, and just continued to pray with all my heart that it worked. And praise God, it did. (Thankfully I didn't know till the next day how many times he tried. I looked in the mirror and saw all the "holes" then asked Renato how many times he tried to get it to work. My back was just a little bit sore for a few days.)

No. Praise God.

Who Delivered?
Dr. O'Connell. He was my Dr. and was on-call that weekend before he went on vacation. He also is a member of our church, so that made me feel very good about him from the beginning. Although he did have to wait a while for me to push Camden out. The nurse got him really early because I was pushing so well.....not well enough for the big head though. :)

Pregnancy in Brazil-Part 2

Yay, second trimester here I am! Thank goodness I have noticed a small increase in energy, which is nice. I had my ultrasound a few weeks ago. Everything looks good. It's always such a blessing to see the baby and hear the heartbeat. It's so exciting! And I was pretty relieved to only see 1 baby. I don't know why, but this happened with Camden too. A few days before the ultrasound I start thinking about, "What if there are 2!?!?!?!" and it always kinda freaks me out a bit. I would love twins if I had them, but the thought is always just a little overwhelming.

The ultrasound was pretty normal and a lot like the U.S. The pictures we got were very bad though. Just copied on paper. We were able to get a DVD of it though, which was nice.

Today I had another appointment. From now on we'll only take early morning appointments because otherwise, we've waited in the waiting room over an hour each time. Today, we only waited about a 1/2 hour. Much better. The only thing I really don't like, is that I have to take off all my clothes and put on the lovely gown, just to hear the heartbeat. Yeah, nice. AND she couldn't find it. This machine she was using, I'm sure was VERY old. I'd never seen anything like it before. She tried for about 5 minutes and said she heard it for a second, but then lost it. She was pressing so hard it was even a little painful. But, she didn't seem worried about it, so I'm trusting God that everything is OK and praying that next time, the heartbeat is strong and easy to find!

One exciting point was actually getting my weight taken. I was pretty scared because, well, I've been "expanding" more quickly this pregnancy then last. So I had a feeling I'd gained a lot of weight. Well, what a surprise! Only about 400grams, which is roughly 1 lb. Which I was very happy about. :) (Yes, you know you're pregnant when you're excited about gaining a lb.)

Here's a little craziness from Brazil. My 1st appointment, my Dr. stated that I can't get my hair colored/highlighted until at least after the 1st trimester and then only with "special" coloring that my hairstylist will know about and use. I've heard a while ago, the U.S. did the same thing, but I highlighted my hair the whole way through last time. So, I humored my Dr. and didn't get any highlights until now....but you better believe, this week I plan on using my "box kit" that I brought from the U.S.