Monday, June 28, 2010

Traditional Ending...or is it a Beginning?

Last week, due to a scheduling conflict, I alone took my youngest daughter Trinity and Justice to her 'end of the school year' festa.

And what an opportunity it was!

It was hosted by the "mother" school in our district and was THE event to attend this Saturday evening. Classes from each represented school had an opportunity to put on a "show" of their choice. Some of the other kindergarten classes dressed up in precious flower, bumble-bee or cloud costumes and pranced around the stage with bent petals and falling off stingers. They were cute, don't get me wrong, but the real treat came last. (I think they knew, and saved the best for last!)

For weeks Trinity would come home from school and complain about the practice they had to do in preparation for the party at the end of the year. She fussed about how long she had to stand there, and how her arms were so tired they were going to 'fall off' from waving her flag so much.

I had no idea what this party was all about, I just knew that there were seamstresses involved, many 'fittings' and there was going to be a hefty price tag attached to the 'beautiful green dress' she was getting to wear. The seamstress came to the school on several occasions, would pass me in the hall and tell me how beautiful Trinity was going to be. Everything seemed to be quite secretive actually.

Well, the night finally arrived. The party, as does everything else in this country, began at 9:00. (PM!!!!) We arrived with her hair in a ballerina ball as I was told and as usual, we waited on everyone else to show up.

Finally the time came when we were allowed to move into the dressing area and we finished off the costumes with bows, sashes, and flowers.

Right before the children took their places on stage in front of a crowd of about 1500 people, Trinity was handed a Portuguese flag.

The night was cool and there was a strong breeze coming in from the Atlantic. She took her place on stage, wrapped the flag around herself and then looked out at the crowd......

I just knew she was about to cry and take off running. But instead....the music began and the little girl up front began to lip sync a song in traditional Fado music....

....and then Trinity came alive!

She was so sweet....and I cried during the whole thing.

The music, although I understood very little, was beautiful. Many were singing along and crying as well as they understood the meaning behind the song. I wish I knew the name so I could better understand and translate some of the lyrics for you.

The gist was this.......This is Portugal. We are Portuguese. We are proud.

But not in a yelling, in-your-face type song....but a heart felt, longing.....traditional Fado music. (here is a link for a sample of this type of music)

And Trinity's little blond head was on that stage waving that flag the entire time. That was her sole purpose.... to wave the Portuguese flag for all to see.

Now...last week I cried while standing in the butcher's (I know..I'm weepy lately) when on the TV came the American National Anthem as the USA was about to play in the World Cup. Before I knew who was playing, I had no interest in anything except for the man in front of me to hurry up. But after I heard 'my anthem' played....well, I was glued to the screen and saw people dressed in costumes like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington...I couldn't help but to feel proud.

But on this Saturday night, I was experiencing the same type of feeling. It wasn't 'my anthem' playing, but it was the realization that I have fallen in love with this beautiful country. With it's people, with it's traditions, with it's rich history. My children will be more Portuguese than they are American. I'm okay with this. They're almost to that point already....I mean what American kid doesn't know what Reese's Pieces are?!

So here I am today...spilling my guts in a way too long blog post about my lovely 'adopted' country....and my precious blond headed 'Portuguese' daughter.

Portugal has it's problems, but so does America...and I still love her.

"Thank you Lord for putting us here. Please bless our efforts and open hearts so that we can share of your amazing love."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gerês National Park

.....sooooo......this is what arrived at our hotel room door just minutes after setting down our luggage.

And this was our view as we were driving there.

My husband took me on a two night romantic getaway in the National Park of Gerês, Northern Portugal. It's been so long since just the two of us went away for a vacation in many, many years. After 13 years of marriage and 5 children, the time finally came!

We stayed in a precious hotel surrounded by mountains and waterfalls.

Ate dinner by candlelight, had spa treatments and even drove into Spain one evening.

Just across the boarder Spain has natural warm springs....

and delicious food!

We had such an amazing time! I love my husband, and this time we had together was priceless. I'm so thankful for the opportunity we had and the precious folks that stayed with our children so we could go. I can't believe this beautiful place is only 1 hr and 20 minutes from my home! I hope it's not another 13 years before we go back!

What have you guys been up to this summer?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where Do I Start?!

Wow...I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted. Life has been so busy lately.

There has been celebration, after celebration lately....a lot of cooking and fellowshiping and church services to attend. But I praise the Lord for "work"....that means He is blessing!

Here are a few pictures from a Bar-B-Que we hosted last week with some friends and co-laborers.

Here I am putting the finishing touches on the black beans and mac & cheese.

Justice learning to play soccer with the men.

About to pray and eat!

Some of us ladies enjoying a little sun.

The "cook"!

The girls learning how to play 4 square.

Singing under the tent.

Playing Phase 10.

Stealing chips.

Choking the dog.

We are so blessed to have friends and co-laborers to fellowship with. We had a very nice day filled with American, Brazilian and German foods.

Yesterday we had all the girls teachers over for lunch. They weren't too sure about the pasta that I made, but the lemon pie was a hit! Friday is the last day of school so we wanted to have all the teachers here to say "thank you" for a fantastic school year. These ladies have helped our children so much over the last two years and we are very grateful for them. I pray they see the love of Christ in us.

Yesterday was my anniversary. 13 years! Michael and I are slipping away for two nights next week. Going to the mountains! I'll post pictures when we return.

See ya!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My eyes are playing tricks on you....

Cool, huh?! I'm easily impressed these days.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Waldorf Chicken Salad

I've seen so many recipes for this dish. Some complicated and others not so much.....but the main idea is this: Chicken, fruit and mayo.

This is a great meal for my family when its hot outside. We eat it on crackers, inside rolls, on a bed of lettuce, with little tostas, or just plain in a bowl. It's light, slightly sweet, and it's loaded with fruit which is always a hit with my kids.

I use:

Cooked, diced chicken breast
apples, several different kinds, diced with peel
grapes, de-seeded
almonds or walnuts
celery, cut into small pieces
light mayo

I cut up everything, throw it in a bowl, fling on some mayo and honey and mix it up until it looks and tastes right.

I'm such a sophisticated cook, aren't I?! Following recipes isn't really my thing. I like to make things as simple as possible. Good food doesn't have to be complicated.

It's easy and fairly quick if you have some kids willing to help dice up the fruit and de-seed the grapes! (But if your stateside, you can buy seedless grapes...sniff...sniff...)

This week is full of celebrations for us and occasions to cook. Yesterday we had one of the girls teachers over to eat with us. I served this chicken salad which was very different for her, but she seemed to like it.

I'm linking up with Fringegirl over at The Domestic Fringe. Stop by her place for more fantastic summer recipes. Or better yet, post one of your own!

Hope you guys have a great week!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dia das Criaças - Kids Day

I'm SO glad it's finally June!


The Chicken Pox has come and gone. Now that all five kids have had them, some worse than others, I can put that scary childhood virus behind us and move on!

Today in Portugal is Kid's Day. All the local businesses have some sort of offer for the kids. Maybe a free coloring book, free stickers, 1 Euro train tickets and a play day at school.

Last year I knew very little about this day, and allowed my children to stay home from school (they are still in school until the 18th of June. They don't start until mid September) to witness the miracle of birth. Our little Tigra had kittens and I thought it more educational than a day spent playing at school. But they were informed the next day at school that they had "really missed it"! They missed inflatable bouncy things and worst of all they missed ice cream! *gasp*

So now I understand the importance of allowing my kids to be...well...KIDS on Kid Day! After all, children are 'not machines' we were told after only a few months here in Portugal. (Apparently we were expecting too much out of ours!) But we as parents have higher expectations for our children. We've had to find a nice balance between responsibility and childhood pleasures.

Speaking of pleasures....look what's in season right now! We pop them and eat them like grapes...fabulous!

This was my gift to my little kiddos...for Kids Day.

Major hates the pool and all the splashing that he gets from it. He's disgusted with me for bringing it home.

Got to love a little blond headed kid with a "pool hair-do". It' so messy, it's cute.

And Tigra could care less as she is dreaming sweet dreams today and not in the pain of labor like she was last June 1st! we come!