Monday, September 28, 2009

Quick like a bunny…

B’s Godmother Lúcia, a.k.a. Dinda, took a whirlwind tour of Heidelberg over the weekend with Paula, a friend and coworker. She’s a travel agent and was on a paid junket through hotels in Amsterdam, Belgium and France. Not bad work if you can get it. However, she could squeeze less than a day in Heidelberg into the schedule foisted upon her by the evil tour operator.IMG_4462 (675x1024)We made the best of it. On Saturday we had a delightful dinner at Zum Ritter in Schwetzingen. Their beer is still the best on the planet for my hard-earned Euros. On Sunday morning, we spent about 40 minutes (or less) wondering around the Altstadt, rushing her to the Crown Plaza to catch her 13:00 shuttle to the Frankfurt airport. Next stop, Amsterdam. I could hardly contain my jealousy. My parting advice? Be careful when ordering muffins.IMG_4497 (1024x681)IMG_4496 (1024x683)bridge and castle_4537 Panorama (1024x288)I can’t remember if we’ve ever taken pictures of the kids with the mutant monkey statue near the bridge. Now we have.IMG_4550 (683x1024)IMG_4549 (1024x683)We will miss both Dinda and Paula and look forward to a visit of a reasonable duration in the near future.

Finally, at the tender age of 8, Emily is learning some hard lessons in common consumerism. In the future, she will ask the accordion player if he knows any tunes from High School Musical before she makes a contribution.      IMG_4528 (683x1024)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Do you read me?

I’ve been teaching Sophia the sounds of letters lately and she’s already reading simple words! It is extremely cute to see how (justifiably) proud she is of herself. We couldn’t be prouder our own selves (as we say in Oklahoma).

Monday, September 14, 2009

And finally (em conclusão in Portuguese)…

We even saw some interesting stuff on the way to the carnival. The apple orchard was really orchard_4127 (1024x683)

IMG_4135 (1024x682)So was Emily holding one she swears she found on the ground.IMG_4132 bw (683x1024)I took an HDR shot to capture the sky. The weather was all over the place (cloudy, rainy then sunny).apple orchard uc_4139 (1024x683)Are these the type of grapes the festival is held in honor of?IMG_4068 (1024x683) For once, the kids were actually asking me to take their picture. IMG_4336 (637x1024) IMG_4337 (1024x683)Emily’s short stint on the runway seems to have left her with razor sharp modeling instincts. Actually, I think she was born with them.IMG_4358 (674x1024) The best shot of the day was the kids with Andrea under the welcome wagon.IMG_4354 (683x1024)

The Little Carnival…

The Portuguese festival in Malschenberg offers a small carnival where adults can eat and drink and kids can enjoy simple rides. While we drank beer (men) and wine (skirts), the kids ate several thousand calories worth of junk, rode the spinning carousel of death and threw balls at cans to win flowers (at 2 Euros each, they were pretty expensive flowers).feira 2_4191 Panorama (1024x407) IMG_4205 (683x1024)Our kids love cotton candy. It may seem irresponsible to feed them these empty calories, but I’ve taught them to save part of their monthly allowance for future insulin injections.  IMG_4288 (1024x683)IMG_4277 (682x1024)IMG_4275 (1024x683)Upon closer inspection, it’s not clear how much of the popcorn and cotton candy made it into Emily’s stomach and how much stayed affixed to her teeth and cheeks.IMG_4334Our time in Barcelona seems to have instilled in them a certain Spanish flair.IMG_4242 (1024x683) IMG_4244 (1024x683) This year, Emily wins the award for most creative pose with flowers.IMG_4332 (683x1024) IMG_4333 (1024x683) The coolest pictures at the carnival as far as I’m concerned were the ones I snapped of the girls on the ride with Andrea. Looks fun, no?IMG_4214 (1024x646) IMG_4218 (1024x683) IMG_4218 (2) (1024x686)IMG_4221 (1024x683)A few seconds in you can see the girls trying to hold hands. Very cute. The finally reach each other. Toward the end, you see Thomas, Andrea and Robert.

Hail to the Portuguese (grape)…

Every year the metropolis of Malschenberg holds a Portuguese Festival in September to commemorate this variety of grape. IMG_4145 (669x1024)Last year we went with Andrea and Thomas’s (not Wolverine’s) parents (Thomas was traveling). I guess it’s becoming a tradition as we went this year too. We arrived just in time to see the parade (accidentally). It had all the stuff a German parade should have: floats…IMG_4013 (1024x682) a marching band…IMG_4046 (1024x683)

horses…IMG_4039 (1024x683)And beautiful wine maidens.IMG_4026 (683x1024)IMG_4026 (1024x683) The folks on the carts that passed by were giving out small cups of wine. Reminded me of communion.IMG_4053 (1024x680) IMG_4057 (1024x683)After the parade, Andrea served us apple pie made with whole apples. It was even better than it looks.IMG_4082 (1024x683) IMG_4095 (1024x683) We then headed to the little carnival…

Tchau Brasil…

We had our despedida, or goodbye party, at Paludo Gormet in São Francisco, the neighborhood where B’s mom lives in Niterói. It was a small affair but the perfect sendoff after an unbelievable trip.IMG_3918 (1024x683)IMG_3916 (1024x683)   This restaurant has a counterintuitive pricing scheme that seems to be working wonderfully – the place is always packed. Like many restaurants in Brazil, they charge for food by the kilo (a kilo). But rather than just a buffet like most of these places, you can order whatever you want! They prepare the food and weigh it. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t matter if you order a plate of potatoes or shrimp, you pay the same price per kilo (around 15 Euros).

I loaded up on octopus and shrimp, both smothered in garlic. They were both excellent. Each cost about 3 Euros!

IMG_3935 (682x1024) (682x1024) Copy of IMG_3908 (681x1024)  

I tasted some of the fruit-filled caipirinhas the ladies were drinking. Fresh fruit juice in every restaurant is one of the million things I’ll miss about Brazil. Inadvertently, the ladies formed the flag of Lithuania with liquor. Cheers to Lithuania!

IMG_3914 (683x1024) IMG_3893 (680x1024) IMG_3892 (683x1024)

Here are a few of the shots of the folks that came to see us off. Robert decided to ride this one out at home. Luiza, Emily’s godmother, took clay for the kids to play with. Sophia made a beak.IMG_3924 (1024x683) See below Joana (Luiza’s siste), B, Emily, Luiza and her brother João.IMG_3949 (1024x683) Emily with Mathilde, by far her favorite designer.IMG_3964 (1024x683) Marina was there and looking beautiful with Sophia (who could hardly contain her excitement).IMG_3941 (1024x683) IMG_3967 (1024x683) IMG_3911 (683x1024) We will miss you Brazil and we’ll especially miss all “our” Brazilians who made the trip our best vacation ever!