Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

(Drawing by Maddy, age 5)

Today we enjoyed "A Festa Beleza da Sagrada Família" with Holy Mass at the Cathedral in Brasilia, followed by a surprise from Daddy that he received a half-day of work (so, the rest of the day with us!), family grocery shopping, family swim, yummy pizza dinner, and cake decorating, with each of us having one small cake to enjoy.

Somos cinco!

We are so blessed to have the most beautiful and humble family to look at and celebrate and learn from day-by-day in the Holy Family. We give God thanks for our little family and our parents, grandparents and siblings who continue to inspire us to shoot for the heavens, where one day we hope to share an everlasting feast with the Holy Family. Saude!

(Drawing by Caleb and given to Mommy on Christmas day)

(Made by PaPa)

It was so enjoyable to wake up again this morning, sit with Caleb and say morning prayers with our girls nearby (and Little Caleb soon-to-awake) and know that we have the Holy Family's feast to celebrate. I look at the three of our little treasures and give God thanks, for I know that I did nothing to be blessed with such gifts, and that they are not ours but His to return. But, they are gifts. And, gifts are to be enjoyed, well-cared for always with a grateful spirit. I am grateful for family. We sat this morning and read reflected on Blessed John Paul II's strong and encouraging writing in the meditation of the Magnificat today (only in part below):

The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.

Willed by God in the very act of creation, (3) marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ (4) and have need of His graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin (5) and restored to their "beginning," (6) that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God's plan...

(from Familiaris Consortio)

Where would we be without the family? Madge told us today on our way home from Mass how excited she was to hear Daddy was staying home. She said, "During Mass I was getting distracted from looking at Jesus, because I just kept thinking 'Daddy has to go back to work." Caleb told me later that during Mass Madge had her head on Daddy. How loved each person is in the family. Thank you, Lord, for your gift of life. May it always be sanctified.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

So, Bring Us Some Cookie Pudding!

We have been singing Christmas songs around the house lately, trying to prepare ourselves for Christmas. 

Unfortunately--or fortunately--there are no radio stations here in Brazil with 24/7 Christmas songs. On the one hand, I miss some of the songs. On the other hand, there are lots of songs I've heard enough ("sir, I want to buy these shoes..."). Perhaps this dearth of radio songs has incentivized more singing ourselves. Madge has recently been enjoying the song, We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It's pretty cute: she has her own rendition that goes, so, bring us some cookie pudding, so bring us some cookie pudding... Mares and I think that it's so cute that we haven't wanted to correct her. I say let the world eat cookie pudding for Christ's birth. (Besides: I have heard some reviews that figgie pudding is overrated.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa Picture at Park Shopping Plaza

We walked through Park Shopping Plaza on Saturday. There was a nice Santa Claus (from Minas Gerais). Maddy was excited to sit on his lap. Pita was looking askance at Santa the whole time and wanted to sit on my lap. Baby Caleb was pretty clueless. All in all, a wonderful Christmas memory. We topped it off with frozen yogurt at the mall: for toppings, Madge chose colored marshmallows, Pita chose gummy bears.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Breakfast with my Loves

This morning we were all up, except for the Prince, Mr. Cal-see-don, as Pita calls him. :) Pita asked for crepes, which are a breakfast treat usually left for the Saturday morns. But, what a treat it is to be here daily with my three little loves. These moments are treasures I need not wait to celebrate on the weekend, but to live, and live now, in the moment. (If I could only remember and raise up this great gift every second of every day.) Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to serve you, through Your little ones.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Generosity in Marriage

The NYTimes article The Generous Marriage pointed to new research that more fully describes the importance of generosity within marriage.  While I doubt it comes as a surprise to anyone, I always think it's interesting when research backs up common sense and expands on it. This is one such case. According to the researchers, the top three predictors of a happy marriage are (1) sexual intimacy, (2) commitment, (3) generosity.

Furthermore, the article states:
Preliminary findings suggest that children with more-engaged parents are more likely to be generous toward others, which may bode well for their future relationships — and their parents’ too.
As I was reflecting on the article just now, I realized that if I were pressed to encapsulate my spouse in one word, this would be it: generosity.  Generosity is the best word to sum up Mary, my spouse, my best friend, my companion on this journey of life.  Anyone who has met Mary will immediately sense this incredible generosity that she has.  Her generosity flows out to me as her husband, to our kids, to anyone who enters our home, to anyone we come into contact with, really.  Such generosity is a true boon for our marriage and is incredibly hard to come. Mares, thanks for your example of generosity.  You help me to break out of the self-centered bubble I all-too-frequently occupy. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Big Show

Madge and Pita put on a big performance last night, showcasing some of what they have been learning in the first quarter of their school-year. I was so impressed. Mares did an incredible job preparing everything: poems, recitation, songs, psalms, plays and more! They were awesome. Here are some of their performances. The girls were able to keep all the performance a secret over the past two months, a real accomplishment especially for our 3-year old Pita. (Madge is already an expert secret-keeper.)

First Performance: Bom Dia, Tudo Bom?

Song: 7 Continents

Madge's Poem

Pita's Poem

Aesop's Fable: The Fox and the Grapes

Aesop's Fable: The Dog and the Sow

Maddy's 50 State Song

Pita's 50 State Song

Pita Psalm 23

Pita's Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Caleb Saying Cheese to the Camera

Our Homemade Water Slide

All of our things finally arrived from Virginia. It was the day before Thanksgiving. The girls promptly got out their bikes. They also wanted the slide set up. We jerry-rigged a waterslide for the girls in the backyard.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Appreciation. Simplicity. Love. Admiration. Hope. Joy. Tenderness. Realism. Fruitfulness. Abundance. Inspiration. Happiness...

I recognize all of these blessings when I am with you. I...WE love you! Thank you for being that channel of grace God desires you to be in our lives.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Caleb Dancing

(Sorry for the fuzziness. The camera wasn't in focus. He's still a cute dancer, either way!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


(Music: Wherever you Go, Pierce Sisters)


"The Lord nurtured and taught her; he guarded her as the apple of his eye. As the eagle spreads its wings to carry its young, he bore her on his shoulders. The Lord alone was her leader." (Dt. 32:10-12)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


...always taking place at home and is the foundation for a lifetime of close relationships.

The other day, Madge had her reading books out and was sitting with Little Caleb reading (he loves the dog, Pat, in Jane and Peter, and says, "Daw-daw! Daw-daw!" as he points to the doggie-- and any birds he ever encounters.) As soon as Madge left to come to the dining room table for a lesson, Caleb squwaked... as if to say, "Where do you think you're going, biggest sister?" Madge totally got the message and wanted to be finished with her lessons just to get back to her best lesson of the day: sharing reading time with her little "Jr." as she calls Calsee. We love you, our sweets. You teach us life's best lesson: love.

The Recipe for Sweet Imaginations:


The other day my sweet girls had a royal getaway in the school room as they built their king and queen chairs. I love the fact that there is minimal noise in the house-- except for the smooth sounds of soft music--because I get to hear all of the chit-chat, exotic trips the girls take through imaginary play, and the love messages they share. How blessed I am to have them in my life. Royal chairs or not, you two are my sweet royal ladies!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Never thankful enough

Each day is exciting. There is so much room to grow, in a number of ways. But, one thing that makes me so happy to practice our Faith is that there are constant ways and helps to grow. Each month we try and focus on a certain virtue, with this month of November being that of Gratitude. Although I am thankful for so many things: waking up, drinking a cup of hot coffee next to Caleb as we gather for morning prayers that pave the way of the day, kissing our three treasures and intently watching their sweet faces and studying their little mannerisms that are just so much fun to watch and soak up, pounding the pavement in a fast-pace-run with jogging stroller in one hand and precious cargo within it, listening to the sounds of beautiful birds sing hymns to the Creator outsidem meeting a good friend, having a good conversation that is full of nothing other than love and care for another; I could go on, but, something, someone I want to say "Thank you, Lord" for today is... my dear husband, my rock here on earth, my channel of grace, my helper, my inspiration, my balance, my goodness in so many ways.

I love you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Three Treasures words are necessary. You say it all with your sweet faces. I cannot help, but say three things:
I. Love. You.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pineapples and Perspectives

The other day as we were grocery shopping at Carrefour, our neighborhood supermarket, I noticed that there was a guy across the street with a wheelbarrow of pineapples. He was obviously a vendor, as he walked among the cars trying to sell his wares. He approached us as we were loading up all of our groceries into our two running strollers. Perhaps we seemed approachable because we weren't going anywhere fast or perhaps it was the novelty factor of seeing running strollers, or a family of blonds in Brazil. Either way, he came over.

He first asked where we are from. Finding out that we are Americans, he went on to say that he believes life is so expensive in the United States. (Mares and I have found the exact opposite to be true: living in Brazil (Brasilia, at the very least) is much more expensive than life in the U.S.) I told him how cars, electronics, groceries (seemingly everything) has been more expensive for us in Brazil. Not missing a beat, the pineapple vendor noted that pineapples are much more expensive in the U.S. than in Brazil. He did have a point. Pineapples here are like a half to a third the price of pineapples in the U.S. So, I suppose if selling pineapples is your livelihood, life in the U.S. is more expensive. It made me reflect on the reality that all too often we perceive and view the world from our unique prism, with our unique perspectives. The context can make all the difference. If selling pineapples is all you know, then life in the U.S. is expensive. It's all relative. Good thoughts that help me analyze my base assumptions and premises.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Brother Joe

I came across these photos of my little bro. They're five months old now, but I couldn't pass them up without making a video of them to tell my brother I love him.

Working in the field of international agriculture, I liked this photo

Friday, November 4, 2011

The New York Times' Profile of Brasilia

In case you're interested in learning more about where we live, yesterday the NYTimes' travel section published the article 36 Hours in Brasilia. We think it's a great place to live. We have already been to eat at one of the restaurants referenced in the article, Mangai. Of course we have made it to the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If You Give a Calsee a Pancake...

you better give him a stool to go with it!

Friday, October 28, 2011


...from the moment of our arrival here, we have been on a journey of discoveries: the beauty and goodness in self-giving from "strangers", now-called friends; the humility of our three little ones, only desirous of our love, stability in our home and union as a family that makes them so at-home in another house, another country, a whole new continent; the joy that comes in having less, so much less, and being reminded daily how awesome it is to come up with new, so new, recipes; realizing that we cannot always see what we think we can really see until we step foot inside that place and begin to discover and be. This whole idea of discoveries came to me about one month ago. Well, to me and our camera, as I stepped in to our "grove" of a backyard. We could not enter it until a week and a half after our arrival because of a padlock that had no key until the beloved workmen came and O.P.E.N.E.D it. (I do not know if it would have been a bit strange, but I think the girls and I wanted to give them all a big American hug to say OOOOOOOOOOOOOObrigada!)) We ran into our yard and delighted in the vastness of it. The beauty of having such space to run, play, swing, climb, and collect bunches of fruit in due time was overwhelming. Thank you, God. Truly, this yard is a gift, as it all is. (The night before the backy-yard's (as Pita calls it:) opening, while we were out for a family run, we thought one of the tires was a flat, but the blessing in it all was that the backyard was opened the next morning, and I have been running laps --real laps-- there. God has it all in control.) This backyard is a wonderland. We have, as Madge describes, 4-5 mango trees, 1 avocado tree (that is the girls' climbing tree!), 2-3 banana trees, 1 guava tree, and hibiscus bushes as well as palms.
Nao acho que poderia fazer justica ao quintal, por isso, eu mostrarei-lo essas fotos.

You and Me

Yesterday, Little Caleb woke up from his nap, and it was just he and I. I took advantage of just being...with...him, my sweet little love. He is always looking at me, or peering into my eyes when I am holding him on my hip as he pulls his face infront of mine and just stares.
These are precious moments, my son. I dearly love you.

Thank you for the sweet ways of love. You plop into my lap as you take a few steps to Mommy, or you pull yourself over and then dive head-first into my lap. Joy. I love to hear your little voice call, "Ma-maa! Ma-maa!" The other day I was in the laundry room getting clothes folded, while you and Daddy were (making ice cream) in the kitchen. I don't think you knew I was where I was, until I opened the ironing board. You then made a noise and came fast into the room. Nursing time was our date then, and we didn't leave each other's side for the next half-hour. I treasure these moments with you, my boy. Ma-maa will always love you. Thanks for these moments when it's just you and me. Here is a song for you. It came to mind as I looked at you and thought, "It's just you and me," and Ma-maa couldn't keep her eyes off you!

Pita's Photos

We bought Pita her first own digital camera for her birthday. Both Madge and Pita LOVE to take photos. Who doesn't, right? Anyway, they each received a camera in their own favorite colors: pink for Madge and blue for Pita. We finally downloaded the SD card from Pita's camera and are uploading the photographs. In her own way, this is a photograph narration of the past 4 months. I have left them unedited since, well, that's the way it should be.

Outdoor Dinners on the Patio are My Favorite

We have been able to take advantage of the beautiful weather to have meals outside on the backyard patio. It's a lot of fun to eat out there, by candlelight as a family. You can still hear the tropical birds in the background. The sway of the palm trees in the yard soothes the soul as the slight breeze cools your toes.

Sunday Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral

About a month ago now, we attended Sunday Mass at the Brasilia Metropolitan Cathedral. It has unique architecture and beautiful stain-glass windows throughout. One of my favorite elements is the entrance. There's a single entrance way. You enter from the front and basically end up going through an underground tunnel and then walk out right into the church. It's pretty cool.

(As we were walking home from the grocery store yesterday, with groceries in tow, Mares noted that we can see the Cathedral from our neighborhood, as our neighborhood is more elevated than the city and just across the lake. Hence, our neighborhood is known as Lago Sul (or Southern Lake).)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Priceless Expression

Where did they go? What was that?

Our Gauchas

Madge and Peach were showered and dressed the other night for Mass in their Brasilian "gaucha" garb. :) We weren't trying to get the gaucha-look, but due to the colder weather that hit this area of the country this past weekend, the girls got to wear their warm cow-girl boots, sweaters, and as always, their sweet faces. Madge came down the stairs to show Daddy her dressed-self, and said, "Sou uma gaucha!"