Saturday, February 27, 2010


The beach house in Itapema!

Itapema was my favorite part of our trip. Why you ask? Well, this is where we spent a whole week on the beach! The beach house is in a gated community with one hotel. Although the house was very big, our host was worried we wouldn't have enough room, so we stayed in a suite at the hotel. Really, it was like a little duplex. So, every morning we would get up and head to the breakfast buffet and my girls would have cake for breakfast.

This is the view from our front door!

Next, we would head down to the semi-private beach to indulge in the beautiful water, jump waves, find sand crabs, and build sand castles.

If we became a little tired or hungry, we would just head to the private cabana reserved for our group and ask the waiter for Sorveche (ice cream) or aqua, or guarana (Kirk's favorite Brazilian soda) or salgue na espiga de milho (corn on the cob) or whatever else they might have available to eat or drink.

After the beach, we would all head back to our rooms to get cleaned up. Once we were all showered and de-sanded, we would head up to the house for lunch. Elsa's cook is amazing and we always had yummy things to eat! Oh and the desserts....fantastic!

After lunch, I would usually take Olivia back for a nap, and the other kids would play or go exploring.

After nap time we would head back out either to the pool, back to the house for some more playing, or maybe over to the hotel gift shop for some souvenirs. In the evening we would go back to the hotel for the dinner buffet. One night they even had a live band and dancing. Again, plenty of cake for the children to eat!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Christmas in Brazil

We had a wonderful Christmas party at the Fazenda with the whole family. It was wonderful to see everyone again after 10 years, and I had fun introducing them to my beautiful girls. Everyone is so kind and luckily many of them speak English. The best part for me was seeing my girls' faces as the cook set out the roast pig. The whole roast pig complete with an apple in the mouth. They turned to me and said "I'm not eating that!" The feast was fantastic and the cooks pulled out all the stops with all kinds of different dishes and desserts to try.

After dinner, Papai Noel came to give out presents. The children were called over and over. I did not expect them to receive so much. They each received a new dress, hair things, jewelry, toys and purses. I even received a beautiful new necklace. It was a wonderful evening, and the girls had an amazing time.

Our beautiful, kind, amazing hostess....Elsa

Olivia wasn't afraid at all...except...
she couldn't understand a word he was saying!

Bella was super excited to be getting Brazilian gifts

Monique is always ready to pose for a picture!

This dogs' name is Meanie....
she earns her name!

I think someone is getting tired

Kirk's dad getting a gift.

Not my favorite picture of me, but it proves I was there!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Love Your Little Ones

This is the story of one of my roommates from way back when, and her little boy. I've been following her blog, and thinking of her so often. I decided to post their video of his recovery because it has affected me so much during the last few weeks. It has reminded me to take time for the little things, and put my small frustrations aside. To give my children a few more hugs and tell them I love them more often. To leave the dishes in the sink and sit down to play dolls, games, or read a book. To stop and really listen to what they have to say. Time goes by so quickly and I need to remember to savor every moment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fazenda (Ranch)

Our first destination in Brazil was the Fazenda. I was really grateful for this wonderful, peaceful place to relax and recuperate after a long journey. All the adults kept sending me to bed to finish getting over my illness. It was amazingly beautiful, and the children had plenty of space to run around and play. The weather was great, and we were even able to sit on the porch and experience a summer rain storm. It was the perfect start to an amazing adventure!

Climbing a fallen tree

Kirk and his Kirky picture pose!

This was taken about an hour after we arrived.
Yup, they look like tired kids, but glad to have some freedom!

Tired but happy!

One of the highlights for the kids was the horseback riding. Izabella was in heaven, and Monique couldn't wait to go. Unfortunately, Olivia fell asleep right before everyone was ready to go, so I stayed behind with her while everyone else went to see the horses. I think she must have been really tired because she asked if she could go to bed. That was a first!

Thanks to my sister-in-law for taking these pictures,
otherwise I wouldn't have any of the riding.

We're off to a fantastic start!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


After our "Christmas" day (December 19th) it was time to get all packed and ready for Brazil. The suitcases had been in my room for days just waiting to be filled, but with all the Christmas activities, I had not filled them yet. Sunday, December 20th was crunch time. I had to be ready to walk out the door Tuesday, December 22nd at 7:00 a.m. Too bad I was deathly ill, and spent all day Sunday in bed! It was awful. I could not stay awake. I fell asleep in the bathtub, people! I had no energy and could not focus. I thought for sure I would feel better Monday morning. I was wrong. Kirk stayed home from work to help out, and we managed to get packed. I went to the doctor just to make sure I didn't have strep throat or anything and fell asleep while she was talking to me. It was the very worst feeling. By Monday night, we were not sure if I could even get on the plane Tuesday morning. We called Kirk's dad and explained the situation and came up with a back-up plan. If I couldn't get on the plane, then we would fly out Christmas Eve. Not ideal, but at least we had the plan in place.

After we were all packed, had discussed all of our options, and we were ready for bed, Kirk and our good friend gave all of us a blessing.

Tuesday morning the alarm went off very early. As I rolled out of bed I realized I was feeling much better. In fact, so much better that I was ready to go! Everyone was so excited and I was really relieved. I am so grateful for the Priesthood because I know that without that blessing we would have needed to postpone our flights. Everyone was ready quickly and we were out the door.


Our first flight was from Denver to Atlanta. We met Kirk's dad, and sister and her family there. The cousins were so happy to see each other.

Olivia was still getting over her bought with the flu as well, and was still having trouble with her asthma, so she had to do a treatment while waiting for our flight in Atlanta.

After 4 hours in the Atlanta airport, we stepped on the plane for the 9 hour flight to Sao Paulo. I was very worried about Monique because she doesn't like airplane bathrooms and it's a long flight. I had nothing to worry about. She fell asleep 1/2 hour after we took flight and didn't wake up until an hour before we landed. Izabella slept most the time as well, and Olivia....well, she slept...on me. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much with a toddler asleep on my lap and spent a lot of time looking at the little "Indiana Jones Map" telling us where in the world we were. Luckily, we each had our own TV screen and I watched a few movies.

Once we landed in Sao Paulo (December 23rd, around 8:00 a.m. local time) we had another layover of about 3 hours. We grabbed a bite to eat and felt gross and tired. At this point, our patience was waning.

Oh, and let's not forget the fact that most Brazilian airports do not have air conditioning. Yup, we were sticky too! The only good thing about Brazilian airports is that if you have a small child, they will either move you to the front of the line, or open a new line for you. This did move us through the process a little faster. After they changed gates a few times without telling anyone, we finally boarded the bus that would take us to our plane.

After a short bus ride, we boarded our last flight to Curitiba. This was a pretty short flight and I dosed off for a little bit. Once we landed at the Curitiba airport we headed in to get our bags. I should have taken a picture of the huge amount of bags we had to pick up at each airport. Keep in mind...we were a group of 10, with 11 suitcases plus our carry-ons! It was quite the mound of luggage. On the other hand, we left the Curitiba airport with only 10 suitcases because they had lost one of mine! Luckily, it was mainly our toiletries and such, but still...ALL THE SIPPY CUPS WERE IN THERE!!! If you have a toddler, you know why those cups are so important. I was really, really hoping they would find it.

When we walked out of the airport we saw John the wonderful driver and headed to our bus. Yes, they hired a bus for us to ride in because we have so many people. It's about a 45 minute drive from the airport to the Fazenda (Ranch) where we would be spending Christmas with the family.

Whew! We made it through Phase One...everyone is safe and accounted for and we're only missing one bag. Not too shabby really!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This year, we wrote a letter to Santa asking him if he could come a little early since we would be in Brazil for Christmas. The children didn't want him to have to try and find them, and the parents didn't want to have to find a way to bring all the stuff home! So, December 18th was our Christmas Eve. I tried really hard to make it feel like Christmas and made a nice turkey dinner with all the fixins' and we did all our regular Christmas Eve traditions. It was actually really nice. After giving Olivia her "Ariel" pajamas, she kept walking around rubbing them saying, "Thank you mommy, thank you for the Ariels." I'm so glad she liked them so much.

Monique and Olivia had been sick all week, and by "Christmas" morning, it was my turn. I was really dragging, but the kids were up bright and early and ready to open presents. They ran downstairs to see what Santa had brought. They each received an art easel with a special message from Santa, and rolling backpacks for the long trip to Brazil. They were all very excited and ready to be artistic.

It was a wonderful morning and when it was all done,
Izabella turned and said,
"this was the best Christmas ever!"
I'm so glad.

Olivia LOVES Ariel, and was super excited to receive an Ariel doll from Mommy and Daddy

A new outfit for Sally. (complete with purse!)

Twix for breakfast? (Only on Christmas!)

When all the presents were open and nothing left under the tree, Olivia was really upset. She just wanted to open more presents. She didn't care who they were for...she just wanted more. I made her even madder by snapping this picture. And, as you can see, Kirk was filming. We are such mean parents!

What is the best part about an early Christmas? When the day was turning to evening, and all the playing was winding down and we had cleaned up 30 times Kirk looked at me and said....

"I don't want to mess up the kitchen again. Let's go to Burger King!"