Thursday, August 27, 2009

Circle Struggles

My mom told me once, if I remember correctly, that I failed Kindergarten.

This must be why......

I have issues with circles.

Please, overlook my crooked circle if you can, and help me.

I'm probably the only person in the world making a flower garden at the end of summer. I've never been one to follows rules very well. Who said flowers were supposed to be planted in the spring?!

All the bulbs I've bought say to plant in the spring just before the last frost. First of all, who knows when the last frost is going to be and why can't they sell bulbs for "Late Bloomers" like me. Guess that's why they were on sale.....

Back to my crooked garden....I need some flower recommendations. Something I could plant that could survive neglect, lack of water, hot, hot sun and an occasional Labrador or kid run through it. And if you know the Portuguese name for these flowers that would save me some time.

Oh..and I need to be able to plant them the end of summer.
Not before the last frost...whenever that is.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Fun

I'm getting old.

My interests have changed. I actually like flowers now. Must come with being "middle aged"?

Last week, I hoed up a little spot of ground in preparation for my first ever flower garden. It was just a small area, but my back would disagree with that. The next day I went into the shed in search of some heavy black plastic to lay down over the tilled up ground.

I drug it out, opened it up and memories started flooding my soul......

To those days long ago..... on the Slip~n~Slide.

I thought about how cool it would have been if the Slip~n~Slide plastic runner would have come as big as the sheet of plastic I was looking at. I made a quick mental note of the sun, the heat and my bored kids.

I put away all the garden supplies, and pulled out the water hose. I told my most daring daughter to go across to the other side of the yard, run and then slide.

She looked at me with huge eyes....she'd never heard of such a thing?! "Really, Mom?"

I convinced her I was serious and that it would be these days...they're so sheltered.

And finally, away she went.....laughing the whole time!

The others joined in and for 2 solid hours they laughed, ran and slid.

I won the coolest Mom award that day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

We Call Her "Frank"

What do you get when you mix the head of our 'spaziest' kid with the hatch back door on our van???......


But....she likes 'Frank' for short.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Potty Training Surprises

Potty training brings all sorts of surprises.

Some of these surprises are left in the kids play tent, some are left in the backside of droopy underwear, some are left lying on the floor and on a few happy occasions, some are actually left in the potty.

Seriously, who am I trying to fool? After potty training 4, I've seen it all...and smelt it all, and cleaned it all. Aren't you proud of me? Wonder if I could use that in my resume should I decide to one day re-enter the work force?

Today while cleaning the kitchen after lunch, I put my very 'regular' son on his training potty. He's so regular that I can predict that as soon as he's finished eating his peanut butter & honey sandwich, he will slink out of his chair and quietly hide under the kitchen table to make his deposit, and we're not talking about into my checking account.

So while I was cleaning, listening to music and talking to myself, (which is no biggy around here mom always talks to herself, and no one had better interrupt an adult when they're talking).....he scooted his potty chair from the bathroom, through the dining room, out the kitchen door, through the "school" room, and out onto the patio, in plain view of my neighbors!

Scooted it. Get the picture. Like a dog would scoot on their hiney.

One of my daughters who was enjoying her sandwich outside came running in yelling, "Mom, Justice is outside sitting on his potty!"

What? Huh?

Did he just scoot his potty seat right past me and out onto the patio? It makes a horrible high pitched squeal as it slides across the ceramic tile. How'd I miss that? I must have been having a really interesting conversation with myself.

I hate potty training.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Birthday's, Peppered Cantaloupe & Road Flares

Tuesday evening we had the privilege of attending a birthday party for Brooklyn's best friend, Inês. It was quite an opportunity for me because I took all of the kids by myself. Michael was at an evangelistic meeting for soccer players, so I got to go to the birthday party without my "language helper". Almost as soon as we arrived, all of my kids disappeared and I was left in a room full of strangers. One very nice girl decided to be my friend and we chatted most of the night about all sorts of topics, but mainly about health care in Portugal verses heath care in America. The party started at 8:30 and we arrived home at almost midnight....on a weeknight! I still can't get used to how late everything happens over here.

They all got a kick out of the goofy American lady who made faces while eating their "Peppered Cantaloupe". Seriously, this cantaloupe tasted like fire! (and No I've never actually tasted fire...before Tuesday, anyway. This day will forever go down in history as the 'Day I Ate Fire'.)---Why would someone do that to a cantaloupe?!

Out of the 25 people there, we were the only ones not related. Which is a pretty big deal.

The girls enjoyed playing with Inês' toys and reading her books.

The birthday cake

Now...THAT'S a candle! Or is it a road flare?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pizza Makers

As I've said before, I sure miss the convenience of pizza delivery. Or when we lived in LaGrange, we could pick up D*mino's Pizza's less than a mile from the house. And the deals we used to get at D*mino'! I could feed all 6 of us (at the time) for less than 10$.

Here, the nearest American style pizza (Pizza H*t)is about 30 minutes from our house, and to feed our whole family would cost about 50$. It's outrageous!

So, I made my first homemade pizza after moving to Portugal. Since that first pizza, there have been many more that have followed.....

some neighborhood kids have helped make...

some my own kids have helped make.....

What is it with kids? Anything that involves dough is so much fun for them, and when it involves real, true to life pepperoni that was given to us by Mimi.....well, that's icing on the cake!!

Here are the girls watching the crust bake before adding their toppings.

Here's Liberty spreading on the homemade pizza sauce.

Brooklyn prefers to sit and read and just eat the pizza when it's done.

Ahhh..the end result is a delicious pepperoni pizza. The kids think it's even better when they've worked so hard to prepare it.

I'm going to miss them when school starts back.

Pizza Dough

1 pkg Yeast
2 T Sugar
1 C Warm Water

Mix together. Let sit till yeast has reacted and has spread over the surface. Then add:

2 T Olive Oil
1 t Salt
3 C All Purpose Flour

Mix, forming a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead. Divide dough into half and then roll each half into desired shape. Makes two pizza crusts.

Bake at 350 until dough is done for your taste. Shorter for softer crust, longer for crunchy crust.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Info That You Really Don't Want

Jennifer over God's Been Good awarded me this special award.

I'm not sure how Kreativ I am, but I'll accept it gratefully!! tell you 7 things you may or may not know about me....

If you're a regular follower, you already know more about me that my kids I'm not sure what else there is to say, but I'll try....

  1. I NEVER follow the rules when it comes to meme/awards.
  2. I finally found a home for my last kitten yesterday! Woo Hoo!! Not an easy thing to do in a country where they are regularly drowned.
  3. I really dislike unsolicited advice. Or phrases that start with..."You know, you could...." Especially when I receive them in my kitchen. I'll emphasize....MY kitchen.
  4. I have a weird fascination with potted plants/flowers that I never had while in the States.
  5. We had a young couple eat with us last night. Girl is Brazilian, Boy is Portuguese, and I actually fed them pulled Pork BBQ. ---What was I thinking? Oh..and I tried a new dessert that everyone hated.
  6. My little brother was born 12 days after my 12th birthday...and...he was born at 10:08 and he weighed 10 lbs 8 oz. (my poor Mom!) Weird how I remember things like this.
  7. I still remember my telephone number from when I was a kid.

So there you have it!

Wonderfully boring facts about me.

Have a great weekend ya'll!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

European Living - The Espresso

Wikipedia defines espresso:

Caffè espresso
, [1] is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee.

Coffee is a VERY large part of the Portuguese culture. However, not the type of coffee you may be thinking of.

Traditionally, Americans like to drink coffee brewed by drip machines and we're often seen running out the door in the mornings carrying one of these in our hands...

The difference is that "American Style" coffee is extremely watered down compared to coffee commonly found in Europe. It lacks both the flavor and 'caffeine high' one receives from drinking an 'espresso'.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial on "How to make an espresso". Which is simply called café in Portuguese. (Pronounced the same as in English, only with emphasis on the 'e')

This is my espresso maker. The wand on the left side steams milk to make cappuccinos.

I put the coffee grounds into the filter located at the end of the 'handle'. I use about as much grounds as an average American would use to make 3 or 4 cups of coffee.

Attach the 'handle' by screwing it onto the maker and forming a good seal. Push the brew button....

And brews directly into a small espresso cup. This machine has the ability to make two espressos at once. Notice the two streams of coffee.

And the finished result is a fresh, flavor packed cup of steaming hot caffeine!!

Café shops are found on every street corner and oftentimes 3 or 4 in between. One has the ability to stop for a café after entering a grocery store, hardware store, mall, well.... just about any public place you'll be able to buy a café for about 80 cents. It just takes a minute to brew one, and even less time to drink one. Two or three sips and it's gone....but the flavor remains in your mouth for quite a while. When dining out, oftentimes your meal will come with a free café that you enjoy as dessert.

I've decide that's why everyone is so skinny over here. They don't have Krispy Kreme's and fast food restaurants on every corner, but rather "caffeine shops" where thy find the energy to talk 80 mph and drive even faster! (Portuguese drivers are considered the worst in all of Europe.)

I fit right in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Need Your Help

Blogger deleted all the blogs that I follow.

I now have no record of anyone's blogs, other than those listed in my side I need your help.

Please leave me a comment so I can rebuild my list.


Update...never mind....they're back!! Thank you Blogger!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Are You One Of Those?

You know...those women who threaten their husbands to not dare give them any kind of household item for their birthday, anniversary or Christmas? If a blender were to be wrapped and placed under the tree with your name on it, would daggers shoot from your eyes when you unwrapped the gift?

Well, I'm certainly not one of those ladies.

I appreciate anything I'm given for any occasion. Even if it is a new kitchen faucet for my birthday. (Which I asked for by the way.)

This was my faucet before:

And after:

Much more practical. Especially with the amount of dirty dishes that comes across my sink. I'm thrilled with it! And my sweet husband even installed it without fuss.

And just for fun....I received this beautiful Orchid.

We'll see how long I keep it alive....poor things doesn't really have a chance. But isn't it pretty?

Hope you all have a great Sunday!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Does It Ever Get Any Easier? - Guest Blogger

Yesterday, after a ten day jaunt across the Atlantic, my mother-in-law flew back to the land of town-halls and home of health care debates. It was her third visit to Portugal, and we (present company, son-in-law included) had a wonderful time.

We packed an entire year into almost no time at all. We took a vacation – three days near a quiet northern beach. With decorations, we celebrated everyone's birthday except maybe mine and the president's. We had Christmas, although without decorations. For the sake of maintaining the appearance of sanity with the neighbors, I drew the line at a glowing fake Fraser Fir resonating from the window in early August. We played. We worshipped. We loved. And, of course the night before it all came to an end we cried. Especially the kids.

They bawled and moaned. They yelped and blubbered. They groaned and sobbed, and finally when all of that was finished, they sniveled and whimpered and wept a little more.

The thought of Mimi leaving and not coming back until spring made them almost hysterical. No, it did make them so.

To a pre-schooler, eight months might as well be eight long years. It's like a prison sentence only without an early out for good behavior or any chance for parole.

Skype is great, but it just isn't the same as a warm hug or the fullness of a belly laugh.

So ever since she left, I've been wondering if it gets any easier? Don't get me wrong, with God's magnificent grace and abundant provision even in the worst worldwide financial crisis in almost a century, I don't have any real blues to sing. We have a nice home, rice and beans on the table, comfortable beds, and plenty of love one to another. We have many friends who love us dearly here.

Yet, with such great uncertainties regarding both time and possibilities of future family visits, will it ever become less difficult to say goodbye to Nanny and Pawpaw? To Gramps or Uncle Danny?

I don't think so, but neither do I want it any other way. I want to teach my kids that life is never fair and some sacrifices are well worth with it.

I believe that children should be sheltered from wickedness but not necessarily from heartache. Yearning, without instant satisfaction produces much in the way of gratefulness upon fulfillment. Pain is a valuable and important emotion that brings with it maturity, strength, and an appreciation for joy when what is hoped for finally arrives.

Daily, my family lives a fish-bowl existence. At school, the kids are those of a “married priest” from a “strange religion.” They get peppered with questions and constantly battle stereotypes. It will just get worse and worse as they grow. That's what makes these excursions so important to us. We have a little piece of Americana for a few days. Personal attention from Mimi makes everything better. Little Debbie's, kool-aid, and Laffy Taffy serve as a wonderful balm. Then she leaves, and the lessons begin. It doesn't ever get easier, but we learn a lot along the way.

Written by Michael Andrzejewski

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me.....

Today is my birthday, but we celebrated yesterday so that Mimi could be with us. I took my mom to the airport this morning. We loved having her here and I think I enjoyed this visit more than any of the others. (But I think I say that after each one.) I already miss her...

I've already received emails and birthday sure has helped put a smile on my face . Thank You.

Justice helped me blow out my candle. My cake was a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie. Yum!! Mimi brought two boxes of them and two boxes of zebra cakes for my husband. He loves those things! He shared one of his cream pies with me...wasn't he sweet?

Pillow Brooklyn made for me. (Mae is Portuguese for Mom)

Check out this apron! I think it's adorable!

All of us with our party hats.

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

We've crammed so much into the last week. Time has flown by and in three days my mom will be leaving. It's hard to believe she's been here one week.

We've celebrated Christmas....yes, Christmas in August....

And we had one big birthday party for everyone....

We climbed a mountain....(in a car) and took more pictures....

We searched for treasures...

and we posed for pictures....

And stopped long enough to take a few pictures before church this morning...