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

Pare

Walking around Brazil

 

In 2012, we spent Christmas and New Year’s in Poxoréu, Brazil. I was in love with the bright colors, especially being from the land of greens and browns. I also loved the lack of commercial organization. Any structure that existed was purely out of necessity. There was overall disregard for photogenic beauty which allowed the natural beauty of the environment to come to the surface.

Walking around Poxoreu Collage

The pace of the city was slow. There seemed to be plenty of time for people-watching. There was also this interesting sign painted on the street next to the river that said “VOTE LIMPO” which means “VOTE CLEAN”. My cousins explained that was an election taking place and this was part of the campaign. Seemed a little permanent for campaign propaganda!

Walking around Poxoreu Collage 2

This recycling center seems thoroughly out of place, especially it seems to cower behind the heap of bricks and discarded cardboard box in front of it. Skeletons of abandoned buildings and scenes of disrepair were around every corner, but so were perfectly manicured store-fronts and residences. They existed in perfect juxtaposition of each other.

Walking around Poxoreu Collage 3

So many fascinating spaces. I love the hot dog stand and the street artist. Motorcycles and scooters were more common than cars.

Walking around Poxoreu Collage 4

The best part of Brazil is, was and always will be the wonderful people who live there!

The best part of Brazil

Boy looking into the camera

Remembering Brazil

A year ago we were spending our Christmas/New Year’s Eve with our family in Brazil. It was a life-changing trip in more ways that one. I wanted to share some of the beautiful experiences that we had while we were there.

One of the most memorable experiences of the entire trip was handing out soccer balls and soccer shorts to kids around Poxoréu on Christmas Day. My husband’s grandfather used to pass out toys to the kids around town, many of them hand-crafted wooden toys that he had made himself. Most of the kids told us that our gift was the only present they had received. I’m not sure my own kids fully appreciated the experience, but it is a tradition that I hope we can continue as we are able.

Handing out gifts in Brazil

There was one boy that caught my attention as we were distributing gifts. He had amazing energy that clearly comes across in this photo that I took of him. I’m always curious about where people acquire their inner “spirit” and how they maintain it through difficult circumstances. I would like to know this boy in 10 years.

Boy looking into the camera

I was also taken by the spirit of these three boys who all told us that our gift was the only one that they had received this year. I learned what it means to be grateful, and what it feels like to do something really good for someone else.

Three amigos

I accomplished something more personal on our trip, also. There is a natural land form outside of Poxoréu known as “Morro de Mesa”. It was a personal accomplishment for me to make it to the top because the climb was steep and I’m not fond of heights. There were several points along the way that I wanted to quit, but my husband pushed me to keep going. It was important for both of us to make it to the top together.

Morro de Mesa Collage

Climbing Morro de Mesa

Click here to see the pictures I took while walking around the small town of Poxoréu in Brazil.