Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Insert long pause...

Hello, internet! So, um...yeah. Life got busy and I stopped blogging and have been regretting it ever since, so when I got a comment from a reader this morning (Hi, Elena B.!), I decided no time for guilt anymore and I'm going to start blogging again. Now, bear with wasn't very often before, but I'm SURE I can manage more than 1 post every, oh, what was it? 7-8 months ago?!

So, "o bebe" (need to think of a better nickname, but for now...) is sleeping, Bond is at our friend's house and I have the place to myself and should be going to bed, but I promised myself I'd at least post SOME.THING, so here's a quick summary of the past 7-8 months:

We moved in; lived in the house with only 2 plastic, lounge chairs; 2 plastic tables for the pool; a borrowed TV; and a queen size bed for a month and a half before we left for the US (!); flew home 7.5 months pregnant, visited all of our friends and family for the first (of many, I'm sure) "unvacations"; came back to Brasil 8 months pregnant and literally followed our sea container into our neighborhood, unpacked our house and turned it into our home, got used to having the Divine Miss M (our empregada extraordinaire!) around and doing everything for us that I, myself, would never do (ie. IRON our sheets! It's like living in a hotel!); learned Portuguese well enough that 5 months later I would be able to sort everything out at the (second) police station after getting in a car accident. That was my fault. With "o bebe" in the car. More on that later, but we are obviously fine and that's what car insurance is for, (right, Bond?!!); and, oh HAD "O BEBE" (what joy, what bliss...the baby, of course! not necessarily the experience!); and have been adjust to life with a newborn (now baby!) at 4.5 months (!) and enjoying being a SAHM.

So, yeah, lots of blanks to fill in, but for now, I can check the box and close one of many windows that are open in my brain. More, um, soonish!

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're in!

We got all of the keys yesterday and have officially moved in...with 7 suitcases, a double bed, 4 lounge chairs for the pool, 2 small, plastic tables (also for the pool), a stove, a mini-fridge, and a microwave! We are camping out until our sea shipment arrives (hopefully sooner than the 2nd week of July that they are quoting us since that's when we're scheduled to return to the US for 2 weeks!), but our air shipment arrives tomorrow morning! Not that there's a ton of our stuff in it, but it will be so nice to see familiar things and to use our own towels and sheets again! 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Casa doce casa!

(Home sweet home!)

After almost 3 months of negotiating our the contract for our house, we finally got the keys to our house this weekend! We are homeless no more and after 4 weeks of hotel living, we hope next week will be the end of it! We met the owners on Saturday who were surprisingly sweet and lovely after 3 months of sometimes not so nice negotiation discussions -- between lawyers, of course! We have a list of things that still need to be done before we can move out of the hotel and start camping out for the next month before our sea shipment arrives...hopefully at the end of June! Our air shipment arrives on Wednesday and instead of dealing with the 15 days it would take to clear customs, we are just paying the taxes so we can get it (hopefully!) in about 5 business days. Much more economical than paying for (or living through!!) another 15 days in the hotel! 

I will definitely miss having breakfast and our bed made everyday, but I am just itching to get into the kitchen and make dinner! I normally eat really well ("everything in moderation" is my motto!) and especially now since I'm supporting another human life and all, but it has been really difficult since we eat out all the time. I do take my prenatal vitamins everyday and calcium supplements when needed, but the mini-fridge in our hotel room only holds so much fruits and vegetables! The baby is growing ahead of schedule (more on that below!) so I guess I'm doing something right! Oh the mommy guilt! Starting already! :) 

I'm also really looking forward to getting into the house and our new neighborhood ( condominio fechado) and getting into a routine (which is arguably the LAST thing we should do, per our security briefing today at Bond's office...another post on this to come!) and getting to know our new neighbors better. Being an only child, I'm definitely not lonely as a good book has always been more than enough company, "but no man is an island" and I miss having my  girlfriends around. Combine that with the fact that I'm going to be in a house all day with nothing to do but take care of a newborn (thanks to hiring a maid 3x/week...again, another post coming soon!) and email and Skype can only help so much! 

Luckily, I've met a bunch of great women down here so I know they won't let me go crazy, but this weekend I met another gal who I just knew we'd be instant friends when she showed me the scars from her c-section and shared some pretty personal info within an hour of meeting me! Also a midwesterner, it was great to be able to relate to her AND to have her (and her experience!) close by in those early months when the baby's here, I know will be a Godsend! 

So, basically, we are getting closer everyday to getting settled and finding our ground here...and I have a lot more to post about than I thought ::sound of whip cracking::!

As for the baby, she is growing like a weed in there! I am 25 weeks pregnant today, but as of our last ultrasound on Friday, she is measuring where she should be at around 26 weeks! Bond is 6'4" and I'm 5'(almost, so close!)7", so I don't think she'll be a gymnast one day, but I'm already regretting not buying more 3-6 month clothes since I was thinking I could get more when we're home for the holidays in December! Oh well, more shopping when we return in July, I guess! 

I think I mentioned that our ultrasounds (yes, in we will have 3 more that are already scheduled before our bebe arrives!) are performed by an MD and not a tech! Healthcare here is another thing that is great...if you have private insurance, I should say (again, very grateful!) The MD was lovely and spoke English enough to point out that our baby is developing perfectly, but I had a little breakdown on the table, which she thankfully thought were just tears of joy! There was a lot that she was saying in Portuguese, of course, and Bond was talking to her and responding to her questions, but he wasn't telling me every word, (much less every comma!) of what she was saying, he was just summarizing it and I got really upset, even though nothing was wrong with the baby and that much I knew. (Just another reason to get back to my flashcards and study, study, study!!)

At any rate, I quickly recovered when she switched over to the 3D/4D images on her ultrasound machine! The last time we saw her this way, you could only make out her appendages clearly and if you squinted, you could see her eyes, nose, mouth, etc. But this time, we can tell that she has Bond's nose (thankfully!) and I think my cheeks (poor girl! I still get them pinched every now and again!) and possibly my lips, but they look a little fuller, so she's a lucky girl! :) We can't wait to meet her and I think our sea shipment should arrive just about the time my "nesting" instinct is supposed to kick in, so we have much to look forward to! 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eu entendo...mais ou menos!

So, it's been 2 weeks since I've started Portuguese lessons and I am slowly but surely gaining more confidence in speaking with the locals. One of the guys at the Front Desk at the hotel (going on week 4 here!) speaks perfect English and he is kind enough not to interrupt me in English once he pieces together what I'm asking for and lets me finish stumbling around before he corrects me. Very sweet guy. (Though he did think that Bond and I were brother and sister (after staying in the same room for 2 weeks...?) and gave us 2 separate rooms when we came back from a weekend at the beach. I literally burst out laughing when he realized we were, in fact, married. He was so embarrassed and I felt even worse not being able to control my outburst, so maybe that's why he's so patient with me now?)


At any rate, I've told Bond that I need to be able to be function better out on my own, so at dinner last night, I told him, "não Inglês!" just to test myself. Well, in hindsight, maybe I should have added a disclaimer such as, "não Inglês...unless I am about to embarrass myself!"


It all started innocently enough. We found an amazing Thai restaurant on Saturday night and it was one of the best meals I've had in Brasil and a close second to the Thai restaurant we found in South Africa on our honeymoon. So, last night, we decided to go back again. Well, since it was only 8PM, the place was totally empty and when we walked in, the waiter that had helped us on Saturday night welcomed us back like old friends and told us to pick any table. When we went on Saturday night, the place was packed and we were given a table up in the front, so I hadn't had a chance to check out the back of the restaurant and Bond and I picked a table near the bar. Close to our table, there was a big green space that looked like a little Amazon forest with a ton of vegetation and exotic flowers. The floor looked like clear, shiny marble and was all lit up. It was really pretty and around the corner, I could tell there was a private dining area back there that I wanted to get a closer look at because all I could see was a bunch of big lounge chairs and comfy looking couches with pillows. "Perhaps a fun place to have a small party someday...when I can enjoy caiprinhas again, that is!" I thought. 


Well, as I got closer and was standing next to the bar peeking around the corner, I heard the bartender say something really loud in Portuguese, but I didn't think he was speaking to me. And so, after I stepped in 6 inches of water surrounding the gorgeous Amazon-like vegetation, instead of the clear, shiny marble I thought I saw from afar, I understood perfectly what he was desperately trying to tell me. "Hey! You crazy, American woman! Don't step there! It's a fountain!" 


I think I'm making great progress, don't you?


(We had gotten there so early, that they had yet to turn on the waterfall fountain that only added to the "Amazoness" of it all when they turned it on...5 minutes later. I noticed then that there was another walkway leading to the cool, lounge area in the back, which yes, they do rent out for parties!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

And ANOTHER menina!

I'm gone from my blog roll for a few weeks, and was so excited to see that the DRL's had their baby, too! Again, another GREAT blog about life in Brasil and that odd feeling of friendship with someone that you don't even know! 

Congratulations, DRL's!! 

100% Expats

Now that the remaining 66.33% of our family is together again, we are officially expats! The bebe and I arrived last Wednesday morning and I thought I'd be twiddling my thumbs this week, but that has not been the case! When I got here, Bond and I met with his company's lawyer at the Policia Federal to register as estrangeiros and then onto the bank to apply for a CPF number for me. The lines at both places were LONG, but not for us! Our little bump is like one of those "line jumper" passes you can get at an amusement park down here! By law, anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, elderly or handicapped doesn't have to wait in line! It's amazing and we are definitely are obeying the law down here! :)

We headed to the mall that night to attempt to get a cell phone for me, but without the actual CPF dice. We were starving and begrudgingly went to Applebee's! There are so many great restaurants here, so to go there for my first night here was a bit anticlimactic, but it was kind of nice to have some comfort food! The next morning we had to go to "another place to wait" as Bond calls it, but really it was another government building to deal with the CPF, and of course, no wait for us! We sorted out language lesssons for me and I started yesterday for 2 hours a day, 3 times a week.

On Friday, we had our first consult with an OBGYN that was recommended to us. Bond and I both knew that it wasn't going to work out in about 5 minutes when, after greeting us in English, I started explaining why we were there and when I asked her a question...she looked at us like a deer in headlights! No Bond spoke to her in Portuguese and we attempted to get out of there as soon as possible. Why she was referred to us, by a Portuguese teacher that speaks perfect English, no less, I will never know, but...have no fear! We found our new OBGYN the next day...on a Saturday morning!

That night, we went out with Bond's colleague and his wife for dinner and to see "Angels & Demons" (in English, with Portuguese subtitles), so it was nice to catch up with them and have a real date night! It had been ages!

On Saturday morning, we met with our new OBGYN and she is wonderful and put us at ease right away...and not just because she speaks English! She was very warm and understanding and after chatting for a few minutes, she wanted to examine me and I started to protest, thinking we were there for just a consult and I didn't want to waste her time, but she assured me she would answer all of our questions...and really, I wasn't going to pass an offer to hear our baby's heartbeat again (!), so up on the table I jumped...after getting on the scale (up 6 pounds, but I can't wait to get our scale in our sea shipment to have a better sense of accuracy!) and she measured me and then a full minute or so of that lovely heartbeat at 144 bpm! Afterwards, she did indeed answer all of our questions and gave us our "pre-natal card" that will record all of the baby's and my measurements. Nothing was entered into a computer, soI was told to keep this with me and bring it back for every visit. She also went over a list of information for us and Bond and I laughed to see that the first thing on the list was recommendations for stretch mark cream! She also directed me to another MD for an ultrasound. Not a tech, but an actual MD that only does OB ultrasounds! We were quite surprised, but then after leaving an HOUR and A HALF later and only paying US$100, we figured this type of healthcare was something we could definitely get used to! 

On Saturday, the American School here had their International Day and I signed Bond and I up for the American Booth to flip burgers and hot dogs and take orders! Apparently, International Day happens all across SP or Brasil (not sure) and features food and entertainment by the students from all over the world. I quickly learned how to ask if our customers wanted "tomato, onion, and lettuce" on their burgers and I'm proud to say, I don't think I messed up any orders...but everyone is too polite to complain, so I guess I'll never know, but we had a lot of fun. It was also really neat to see the students perform capoiera, dance to all types of music and hear several "garage bands!" It was really cute and we were very impressed with the school and kind of sad our kids won't have the opportunity to go there. 

We also saw some "old friends" and met some new ones, so it was a great way to spend a lovely Fall 75 degrees! We were supposed to go to a "clean out our pantry" party at a couple's home we met that afternoon, but by the time we ran errands and Bond got a haircut, we both laid down and fell, I had to call and cancel, which I hated doing, but after being "on" all day meeting new people, trying to speak Portuguese, Spanish and French (!), oh, and being pregnant and on my feet all day ;), I'm glad we stayed in and ordered pizza from our favorite (so far!) local pizza place and watched a movie on TV and called it a night!

On Sunday, we went to a nearby town that is a Dutch settlement called Holumbra. They had sponsored the Holland booth the day before at the American School and Bond was ecstatic that they had "appel flappen," so it was fun to drive out there for some "pretty close to the real thing" Dutch food! They also have several tulip farms there that are sent all over the world, so it will be fun to go back with Bond's family at some point. I'm sure they'll get a kick out of it, too!

(Man...are you still with me?! Almost done!)

Yesterday, we had our house inspection and got to meet one of the owners to get all of our questions answered, so that was a big relief. Hopefully, we can sign the contract by next week and have our air shipment sent and start to move in and begin our month long "camp-out" until our sea shipment arrives! It should be at the port in Santos on June 1st and then we've heard it takes 2-3 weeks for it to clear customs and get here, so we'll see...! That afternoon I had my first language lesson and it went really well! I am being taught by the mom and daughter that own the school and they are both just wonderful. I know the alphabet know and did you know that the Brasilians just added back in "k" and "w" this past year?! Apparently, they are not widely used so they disappeared, but now they are back! So funny! I can pronounce all the vowel sounds (Some better than others! Those accents can be tricky on the e's and o's!) and learned basic introductions, so all in all, off to a great start! 

We are adjusting okay, I think, and each day feeling more at home here...even in a hotel! We have much to be thankful for and though we have tickets booked already for 2 weeks home in July, we have much to look forward to here, as well! 

All for now...and hopefully not so "dear diary" next time! ;)

Monday, May 4, 2009

T-Minus 8 days!

WHEW...! We made it. 

These last few weeks have been a bit of a blur, but outside of a few errands and repacking my suitcases, I think we checked everything off of our lists and are as prepared as we're ever going to be (and, yes, I did just knock on wood!) :) 

Looking back, it wasn't SO bad since Bond has "been there, done that" more times that he'd like to count, but the hardest part was trying to figure out what we'd need for our baby girl, research everything and then hurry up and buy everything so it could be delivered on-time for our sea shipment. It was so overwhelming at first, but then we realized we'd be home at Christmas time and we really just needed to think about what we needed to keep her alive for the first 3 months...everything else we'd deal with when we came home! :) Much easier to handle!

We are officially homeless as all of our stuff is packed up and on it's way "down South!" I am at my mom's for the week and Bond took his one-way trip to Brazil yesterday (!) and thought he'd have to work "remotely" from his hotel for a few days since he's coming from an infected area due to the swine flu, but alas, he's back at the office and preparing for a big meeting next week. I'll be joining him next Tuesday after one last trip to see my mom's family in the mid-west over Mother's Day! 

I'm off to run those last-minute errands and then promise to update more on the house, exciting news, the bebe (of course!) and our appointments last week, but not to worry, she's perfectly healthy as far as we can tell at 21 weeks (!) and growing right on track!