Friday, December 23, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: 10 wedding inspirations

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Today we turn seven. My husband and I turn seven years of marriage today. (BTW the reason we got married 2 days before Christmas is material for another post!) Seven years of pure bliss! (this statement will score some points, maybe he will do all the dishes tonight!)

Eight years ago I wrote something similar to the text below, except in Portuguese. It was part of a book I was writing (that never got published, another project added to my bucket list!) It was a few months after I had met my other half, and I am sure that wedding dreams were all over my head. Today I decided to translate it to English, and here it is. A little gift to my soul mate (as this is the first time he will read it) and to all of you out there that are having wedding dreams!

"One step at a time I move forward, sure of the path I decided to follow. I can feel the veil touching my face as I move, my eyes and lips smiling. What in the world could feel better than just advancing forward? What other path could be more worthy of taking?

The music that reaches my ears, touches my soul. I can feel every tune inspiring drops of emotion in my blood. Its harmony levitates me above the carpet. My feelings chat with the orchestra as good old friends. My vocal cords, while resting, are vibrating as much as the melody.

On my hands, the most beautiful flower bouquet. Beautiful for its meaning in my life. Its petals softly touching my fingers, spreading their perfume on my skin. Even holding a small sample of Nature's vitality, I can feel its life renewing mine.

The path ahead is completely reserved for me. Free of obstacles, impediments or crowds. I am not following anyone, but I know which direction to go. I am following my heart. Protecting its beats, the white silky dress rests as a feather. No weight, no pressure, no tightness. Just like the decision I am making.

Yet nothing compares to the sparkling eyes that I sight a few feet ahead irradiating my path. My lighthouse in the midst of a multitude of tearful looks. My compass, my trophy, my treasure. My journey's goal ahead. The complement missing in my outfit. The complement missing in my life. The men I chose to spend the rest of my life with."

Happy Anniversary Dear!

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And after seven years, we have two little ones to celebrate our love with...


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Survival of the candiest





Last week when we went to NYC, Luke spotted this amazing candy store and started the "asking marathon" to try to get his wish. We were on our day off, so why not? However, harder than to keep them from entering the store was keeping their hands from grabbing all the colorful candy strategically placed within their reach, once inside the store.

An article I read yesterday said that kids are one of the most selfish people you will meet. They take whatever you give and always ask for more (sometimes without even saying thank you!). I believe that happens because before they learn any social skills, they are running on survival mode. Like lions on a jungle. They will cry for food, for shelter, for protection, for pleasure as loud as they can, because their sole goal is survival.

A candy store is a huge survival provider. All that glucose to run little brains... Who could contest that?

Lollipops in hand we left the store happy to have enough sugar running in our blood to survive the next hours in the New York City Jungle!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tutorial: toilet paper pincushion


I love handmaid treasures. Someone's love, thought and hard work transformed into a finished keeper. The unique things that you won't find in the store bin, multiplied by one thousand. The imperfect item, not made by a machine but diligent hands. Progress and modernization have their place, but the uniqueness of the handmade still holds its value.

However, when it comes to my handmade products, I get lazy. I think love and thought is good, but hard work? Who wants more handmade hard work when you are already hand cooking, hand cleaning, hand picking toys, hand folding clothes...?

So here is a craft, as easy as it gets to transform an ugly toilet paper roll into a pincushion. It will take 5 minutes and you will have a handmade treasure! Enjoy!

You will need a roll, a twine and a piece of fabric big enough to be folded inside the roll
Place the roll on top of the wrong side of the fabric
Tuck as deep as you can inside the toilet roll the corners of the fabric moving clockwise
Use the twine to keep everything in place. Place your scissor inside the central hole and your pins inside the toilet paper.

Disclaimer: in no circumstance try to use this roll in the bathroom before removing the pins!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: beyond Santa, famous people to take pictures with!

Santa. Soft lap. Warm hugs. Endless patience with kids as their parents try to snap the perfect Santa picture. Yesterday my kids did not sit in soft laps or got warm hugs, however they got to take pictures with some unique people, none from the North Pole, mind you.

I had to renew Mark's passport at the Brazilian Embassy so afterwards we stopped by Madame Tussauds Museum (a wax museum) and had fun walking around the famous. Some of them looked so real that I confused one lady (a wax person pretending to be a fan with a camera) for a real person as I waited her to finish taking her picture.

Another fun part was watching the 15 minutes Polar Express 4-D movie. It is included in the ticket and the boys loved to experience the chair shaking, cold water being sprayed in their face, the wind blowing and snow flakes falling from the ceiling. It is the only 4-D theater in New York, so if you can, it is worthy a visit. Mark did not get scared at all, he just kept repeating "Oohhhh", "Uhhhh" as the movie played on the screen.

She tried to stroll him away, but I rescued him just in time!
They did not mind him using the phone for a quick call to Daddy
The Statue of Liberty wishing kids would stop touching her nose
He was a little disappointed that there was no cheese on the moon
This is to make grampa proud
"Mark, we can do this!"
This is to make vovĂ´ proud
He was asking Steven if he could direct the next one

Thursday, December 15, 2011

From Brazil, with love


Seven years ago I bought an one way ticket to the USA to marry the man of my life. Behind I left many memories, people and favorite places. Yet, when it comes to the matters of the heart, there are no easy choices.

The country I left behind, Brazil, is still inside me. Like my husband says: you can take the girl out of Brazil, but you can't take Brazil out of the girl! So, when my radar detects the word Brazil, here in my daily life, I can't hide a certain pride: "They are talking about me!" Like when listening to the radio this week, the interviewed professor gives Brazil as an example of a growing economy.

Today I got a daily Etsy newsletter in my email box. (Etsy is the world's largest handmade online market) It was highlighting some products from Brazil, from all places. I thought I would share, as there is nothing more empowering than creative individuals being able to sell their work online. Happy shopping!

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   Here you can see a full list of all Etsy products from Brazil.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bigger, faster, stronger


In a world of bigger, faster and stronger, I feel small. Not big, fast or strong enough. Yet, more, more, more; brings less, less, less. And because the scale can't be up on both sides, there is always the down side. Except that the scale only goes down when it has more things on it, quite interesting...

Philosophical thoughts aside, our downsizing journey has been an adventure on itself. You see, we have lived in many places, some big, some small. Never this small for the four of us. After getting married we played "house" and filled our lives with all the must haves. And then slowly we had to downsize, one room at a time, going from using a garage and a basement as storage, to now only half of a closet.

Do I miss all the stuff? What stuff?? :-)

To live small takes more. More creativity, more patience, more juggling. But it also brings relief. The less you own, the less you worry. For that, I am thankful.

And yet, my small is big compared to so many people in the world. Like this amazing cook that delivers her treats from a tiny kitchen. And this mom that made a stylish bedroom for her boys out of a closet! Have you heard of the tiny house trend?

In a world of bigger, faster and stronger, we still long for the small, slow and weak. Our babies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The sugar that sticks you in!

Print sold here 
Gingerbread house. Sweet view. Sticky fingers. Rainbow of colors. A popular winter tradition that I wanted to share with the boys this year.

First step was to pretend I was going to make one from scratch. After reading many Martha Stuart tutorials, I gave up. It sounded like lots of work. So I went the easy way, I decided to buy a kit. I did not want to spend too much money and preferred something that was also healthy. At the end, I ended up giving up the healthy requirement in favor of a cheap one. I decided we were going to use it only as a craft, like play dough. No eating allowed. I was not in favor of my kids ingesting an entire selection of artificial colors that could mix up inside them producing some hipper active hue!

Next step was to transform the broken gingerbread tablets (duo to Luke constantly dropping the box in the store as he wanted to carry it) into a house. A little difficult, but doable. The hard part was to do that and answer two questions a minute. After some struggling, we got that part done and went to sleep.

Today it was the final and glorious day of decorating the house. That meant keeping the kids from eating all the candy before they landed in the house. I can see why Hansel and Gretel could not resist the candy house temptation. I just don't understand why the witch did not care for her own sugar treats, and wanted fat baked boys instead (what a terrible fairly tale! no publisher today would accept such an idea!)

Anyway, we all survived the gingerbread house tale and did not get lost in the forest. Maybe lost in dreams, as my two little boys now dip their heads in soft pillows and fairy tales.

"This finger is not chubby enough!"


Friday, December 9, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: How to make a writer

Luke and I were sitting down around our coffee table last night when suddenly he started to draw and tell me this story (I wrote the few lines you see in the paper, as he asked me):

Luke has the cookies. Mark watches.
Luke is thinking, Mark is eating the cookies
       

Luke finds out that the cookies are gone!
Luke follows the crumbles to Mark's door

Luke wakes up Mark in the crib
 and Mark poops the cookies!





















Poor Mark, sleeping in his crib wasn't even aware that he was part of a cookie mystery story! It was also interesting to see Mark being shown in his crawling stage, and yet he has been walking for a while now! Gotta give credit for his story telling skills, though. I can't wait for him to start writing and then we will have a longer and written version of the Mystery of the Disappearing Cookies part 2!

I like to think (as any bragging mom!) that some things that I do are helping him to develop his story telling skills:

  1. Waited for him to grow up: there is a certain age when kids start to be able to imagine a story, follow a story line... That is when they will have more fun making their own story.
  2. Read lots of books for them: I believe that it is not just about reading the book, but acting the story with emotions (all those theater skills required for Broadway) so that they start to want to be part of that fun, and learn to read for themselves too.
  3. Make up a story every night: at bedtime (when everything goes according to the plan!), we usually read 2 books together and then I make up a story. It is usually short, with some fairy tale parts and always has a happy ending. It is his favorite part.
  4. Make up a story and draw as you go: last week I had the idea of telling him a make up story and at the same time drawing the story inside little squares. My drawing skills are as good as his in the pictures above, so don't worry; they will understand what you are trying to say with a few crooked lines.
  5. Make up a story and write as you go: I started to make up very simple stories where I write the first line and help him to read it, then I write the next one and so on. It creates mystery and excitement. He want to read the line so he can get to the next part of the story. 
  6. Give a book making gift: my brother gave him a book making kit for his birthday. He can draw stories, write the lines and add stickers to make it more fun. 
  7. Write and erase board: I got one of these for him to have in the car (except that he lost it and now I have to get another one!). So while we travel he can write, draw, erase and repeat.
  8. Let them play with the alphabet: there are always letters spread across the floor in the boy's bedroom (besides the Legos) . Luke always loved to play with letters, alphabet puzzles and alphabet toys. You can get cheap letters at craft stores made of foam, wood or paper. 
  9. Preschool: I noticed that Luke started to increase his ability to sit still and carry on a play or an activity after starting school. He really loves to go there, so it is a win win situation.
  10. Add other languages to the mix: I usually speak in Portuguese with Luke and he always answers in English! But he understands everything I say and if I ask him to say a word in Portuguese he is usually able to do so. Yesterday he started to sing this Alphabet song that I had never heard before. It is using the same tune as the English one but with complete different lyrics. When I asked what was that, he explained that it was in Chinese! I don't know if he learned it in preschool or navigating YouTube!
Sometimes too much love can be suffocating!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

10 Sips for the Weekend: Reuse


I have made the Internet my personal shopper. I tell it what I want, handle my credit card and receive the goods at home. I hardly drive anywhere to shop after moving to Hoboken, as it is a work on itself just to get the kids in and out of the car: kids in the stroller, get the elevator, walk out of two doors, walk 2 blocks, open another 2 doors, get another elevator, out of the stroller, in the car. And on the way back everything repeats in reverse plus balancing the bags that hang from every corner of the stroller.

That is the easy way in and out. The hard one involves a child complaining because he forgot his toy, a child sleeping while the other cries, snacks containers, gloves and hats flying away from the stroller in every direction. So online shopping sounds very tempting. Take Luke to school, Mark for a nap, grab a piece of chocolate and head to the computer for a relaxing experience!

But with the online shopping comes the packaging that can take over your house if you are not fast enough in the recycling department. Boxes, plastic wraps, brown papers, bags. A lot of times I feel guilty that my green habit of not driving is not so green with so much garbage as a result. So I am trying to make good use of the extras, like these ideas:

  1. Wrapping paper: I just made the garland in the picture above with some wrinkled brown paper that came inside a box. Then I circled it with red ribbon, inserted file brass fasteners and tied some thyme springs. 
  2. Plastic bubble wrap: Let your kids spend some of their energy jumping on a bubble wrap hopscotch
  3. Corrugated cardboard: Make a fun job chart for the kids
  4. Cardboard tubes: This ball maze could keep Mark happy for hours, he loves balls! 
  5. Cardboard boxes: What about throwing an entire party of cardboard boxes!! Great for after moving!
  6. Newspaper: Create unique gift bags
  7. Egg cartons: Spend a snowy day making egg carton snowmen for your kids and a center piece for you
  8. Pizza boxes: From the table to the wall: pizza box art
  9. Plastic bottles: who said that mail should only go inside boxes and envelopes? Try to send inside a bottle!
  10. Styrofoam peanuts: Who knew you could use them for plants?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

To the audience, the spoils











This past Thanksgiving weekend we skipped the Pioneers' Ages and went straight back in time to the Medieval Ages. I guess it does not have anything to do with turkeys but the kids had fun anyway.

We attended the famous Medieval Times Show. If you have never been to one, according to my beloved Wikipedia (as I am sure their words would explain better than mine) "it is a family dinner theater featuring staged medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting performed by a cast of 75 actors and 20 horses".

You sit, eat with your hands, watch men running for their lives, horses performing their tricks, eat some more, and eat some more. Most of the time the place is dark with only the theater area illuminated, which means that I started to feel like a medieval person, grabbing food with my bare hands and dripping fat from my elbows. On the good side, every piece of chicken that Luke dropped on the floor disappeared in the darkness, and he did not want to leave the table at this dinner.

It was a fun activity to do with the kids. Even Mark could not keep his eyes out of the stage. My niece was lucky enough to grab the flower the knight threw to the audience after kissing it. Just like in the fairy tales.
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