Year in Review 2014 (or “The Closest Thing to a Christmas Card You Are Going to Get”)

We have a lot to be thankful for this year! We had an exciting year filled with visits and visitors, friends and family, and many milestones. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Four Seasons Coffee 2014

Grandpa came to visit us over Spring Break. We had a great time playing tourists in and around San Antonio. The kids loved having Grandpa around. We took him to the Riverwalk, the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, the Enchanted Rock in Fredricksburg, Tower of the Americas, Big Lou’s, the Botanical Gardens, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. Phew! I wonder what we will do this year?

Spring Break with Grandpa 2014

We also had some other visitors. Uncle Shea came in October and hung out for a couple days. The kids enjoyed having someone new to play LEGOs with, and I enjoyed having someone to take out for coffee! We were also able to host G’s parents for a couple months, and his cousin will be with us for 6 months! We are so lucky to be able to host our family and friends. Let us know if you are heading to South Texas, we love visitors!

Visitors2014

Our big trip this year was a summer in Brazil. We did so many things that it is hard to summarize in a few photos, but I’ll try. The kids and I went over early since we are a little more flexible in the summer. We were lucky enough to be there during the World Cup, and although we didn’t attend any of the games at the stadiums we were glued to the TV during matches. It was a house divided for awhile there!

The main event of our visit was G’s sister’s wedding. The kids got to be in the wedding and they did a great job! I was lucky enough to snap a shot of G’s dad walking my daughter down the aisle in the same church where G and I were married. (Maybe someday we will be able to post a side-by-side shot?) N. also turned six while we were over there, so of course we had a birthday party of Brazilian proportions.

When G finally joined us, we were able to steal away for a few days to the amazing city of Brasilia. We both decided that if we were ever to move to Brazil, Brasilia would be the place. It was so beautiful and well-organized!

Trip to Brazil 2014

This sweet girl started 2nd grade this year, and just turned 8 years old. She hasn’t found a lego set that she can’t build, and she loves anything related to art. She always has a pencil and paper in her hands, and she can sit and draw for hours. Her creativity amazes me! She is really turning into an amazing young lady.

Isabel2014

This charming boy started 1st grade this year which he loves even though they “don’t start multiplication until 3rd grade”! He is 6 going on 16. A total ham as you can see in the pictures, but with a giant heart. He is my sensitive thinker. He is always trying to figure out a better way, and there isn’t a directive than isn’t followed up with a “but…”. We stay busy trying to keep one step ahead of him. He thinks outside the box, but I love it.

Noah2014

As for G and I, we are both embarking on new adventures. G just took a new position at a different hospital in San Antonio. He is learning new things everyday! My new adventure begins after the break. I will continue teaching, but am going back to working with students with Autism at a residential treatment center. I am more than excited to begin this challenge!

I hope that you enjoyed a peek at our year as much as I enjoyed looking back as I put it together. We wish all of our family and friends a very Happy Holiday and blessed year to come! Thank you for being a part of our lives.

NoahandIsabel2014

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Summer Vacation in Brazil: Part 1

Brazil 2014It’s taken me WAY too long to get out this first post about our trip to Brazil this summer, but there is always something going on here. There is never a shortage of people or activities, and it’s actually hard to find a few quiet moments to blog. But finally…

After a nearly 24-hour trip half-way around the world with two children, we arrived in Cuiaba. Thankfully all flights arrived on time, and there were no breathless sprints towards urgent last calls. The trip was fairly uneventful aside from one bumpy landing that resulted in the deployment of the proverbial “barf bag” nestled in the seat pocket in front of us. Unfortunately, it was a little too nestled, so most of it ended up on Noah’s pants, but being the prepared mom that I am (sometimes) I had pack extra clothes in each of the kid’s backpacks for just such an occasion. We cleaned up in the first WC we found upon landing, and went on our way to customs. It was just as well for avoiding the long line!

We are all having a blast aside from the crazy heat. I was under the false impression that Brazil had something of a winter. This may be true in other parts of Brazil, but it appears that we have landed in the Devil’s armpit because it never drops much below 80 degrees here, and the average high is 89 degrees. In winter. I told them that I am never visiting during the summer. That doesn’t stop the workers from beating the heat to try to make the final preparations for the World Cup. The city is not ready, and it is pretty clear that they will not be ready in time for the first game.

Getting ready for the cup

The kids are soaking up all of the attention and entertainment. Actually, I think their American sensibilities are a little overwhelmed with all of the hugging and kissing!  They extend a tentative hand for a greeting, and are pulled into a full bear hug before they know what hit them. The enthusiastic Brazilian greetings take a little getting used to, but I am starting to feel right at home here. Abraços, or hugs, are a standard greetings, as well as um beijo, or kiss, on the cheek.

grandma and grandpa

I don’t think the kids realize how lucky they are to be able to spend the summer, or winter depending on your perspective, in Brazil. They are surrounded by family and friends (who might as well be family for all I know…it seems as though everyone is a cousin!). There are plenty of other children around for the kids to play with here, and they are noticeably different then the children the kids are used to being around. Careful. Considerate. Kind. Although my mom instincts keep kicking in because Brazil is definitely not “kid-proof” , I am comforted by the abundance of mom’s and grandma’s here! I know that whoever they are with will treat them as if they were their own, and I am at ease. I feel blessed to be able to have such an experience.

Brazilian spirit

Of course, with some of the World Cup games being played in Cuiaba, the city is full of tourists, but the Brazilian influence is still strong. I don’t think the abundance of Brazilian flags and banners has a lot to do with the Cup. Brazilians always show love for their country. We drove past the Arena Pantanal and took a few pictures. It was hard to get a clear shot because there are houses all around the stadium.

Arena Patanal em Cuiaba

Arena Pantanal do Cuiaba

We enjoyed Brazil first game with a fun group of Brazilians. I thought that Husker fans and Spurs fans were animated, but they have nothing on Brazil! The first own goal was a little heart-breaking, but the three goals after that erupted in dancing, more hugging, cheering, singing, and of course, the musical stylings of the vuvuzela.

watching the gameafter the game

Until later! Ate mais!

 

A look back at the best (and not so best) of 2013

With just two days left in 2013, I thought I would take a minute to reflect back on the year. It was a whirlwind for me. This year brought lots of new and different into my life, but as promised it was all for the best.

We rang in the New Year with samba-style with our family in Brazil. It was the second time that we had been there, the first being our wedding. There is something magical about family, even family that you have only met a couple times. We ate too much, laughed a lot, and spent the kind of quality time together that families rarely get to spend these days. I would say it was the perfect new beginning.

New Years Eve Brazil

We had barely settled our feet firmly on American soil before we were off again. This time it was a more permanent move. With the help of many friends and family members, we loaded up the moving van and set out of for a 14-hour trip to place we know call home: San Antonio. Moving across country is scary, and I have learned to appreciate what it must be like for military families that get relocated every couple of years. It’s one of those things that require planning, patience, and above all…faith. Another thing that I acquired in 2013.

Driving through Nebraska

Moving to a new city, brought lots of new experiences. It took longer than I thought it would to find a new teaching position, but I made the most of the “time off” by starting this blog!, meeting up with other amazing bloggers and their amazing kiddos, and spending quality time with my family that was long overdue. I was lucky to be able to stay home with my youngest. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that opportunity again, and I cherished creativity I was able to bring to his learning. We raced through letters, did an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt, and spent time in the pool playing word games with beach balls.

2013 Kids Collage

We enjoyed visits from many friends and family this year (and look forward to all of the friends and family that have yet to visit!) This summer my friends Kate and Jeanne-Marie came up this summer and spent several days. We were able to hit all of the landmarks: the Alamo, the Riverwalk, Enchanted Rock. We also spent some quality time by the pool.

Alamo Riverwalk

We were fortunate have my husband’s parents and sister from Brazil. The kids are lucky to have such a loving family spread out of over the world! While they were here, we enjoyed some Pho that we accidentally discovered thanks to one of our neighbors.

2013 Pho

I also found a some time to sneak in a couple crafting projects and try out some new recipes. I made a couple cute teachers gifts, like coffee cozies and lanyards. (I’m busy making more lanyards for teachers over Christmas break!) My daughter has been wearing this adorable dress ever since I revamped it. I’m lucky to have a wonderfully, crafty mother in law that shows me all of the tricks of the trade when she comes to visit. We always end up with an array of handmade goodies!

2013 Crafts

I could say that I spent more time in the kitchen in 2013 than years past. I always have the goal of learning how to really cook. T’his year I think I came closer than I ever have in the past! I found some great recipe and even created a few of my own. Blogging does wonders for your follow through. So does Pinterest. You could say that 2013 was the Year of the Quinoa and the Greek Yogurt. Looking at all of this delicious food is making me hungry! Yum!

2013 Food

A year and a half after selling our old house, we finally landed in a new one! Apartment living has its perks, like less space to keep clean and somebody else to fix things when they break, but I’m so happy to finally have a place to really call “home” (and a backyard to send the kids when they need to get rid of energy!)

backyard

In the middle of it all, I took a trip back home to celebrate my brothers wedding. It was a whirlwind trip, but I was able to meet up with several friends that I hadn’t seen since the move and spend a morning enjoying coffee at my favorite coffee place, The Mill, and spend some quality time with my dad!

Phil and Laurens Wedding

The Mill

In spite of all of the positive things that happened over the past year, there were some milestones that I wasn’t so excited to have celebrated. It has been five years since I lost my mom to cancer. It was a tough mark to gauge on the wall of life, but I try to celebrate her everyday through my children, my work and my commitment to being a good person. Also, this happened….

Car accident…but life is all about how you handle the ups AND the downs. Life takes grit, perseverance, and creativity.

I know that 2014 will bring new challenges and new adventures. I can’t wait to take them on!

Here’s to hoping that everyone had an equally eventful year, and wishing everyone the best of adventures in 2014!

Kelly