Thursday, March 29, 2012

News: CDC Reporting 78% Increase in Autism Among U.S. Children Over Past Decade

This is a pretty incredible jump, 78 percent increase in just 10 years! See article here and report here. It's hard not to think that there must be some introduced element that has caused this intense upswing.

A positive note, I was remarking to Mares over dinner, is the fact that autism spectrum disorders are not biological, i.e. they lack biological markers. As such, there is no danger of selective abortions to children with autism. I truly believe that children with autism and other "disorders" are an incredible gift to humanity. In and of themselves, people with autism are beautiful people who share in the dignity of the human race, worthy of our respect in every way. In addition, people with autism can help us to live outside our comfort zone, think of someone other than ourselves, and most importantly recognize the importance of truth over social mores.

Sisters enjoying sunshine

Today is another gorgeous day, still the rainy season but almost taking on characteristics of the soon-to-arrive wet season when there will be no cloud in the sky. With perfect sunshine above and lots of shadows cast below, I couldn't help but snap a shot of the sisters who were enjoying Madge's outside art creations: dipping her hands in water, making hand prints on the hot patio and tracing them with chalk. Fun art work... before Madge's making dog paw prints around the patio and making up her own "Blues Clues"!

Sister time and discoveries

Today the girls enjoyed their second Portuguese lesson, while Mr. Caleb and I enjoyed a little "date time" in the kitchen making some "Purple Slaw." The best part of it all, in addition to time spent with my sweet little son, was that I was making a dish that he and I love!
Yep, Little Cal and I are the two lovers of this slaw. Madge loves cabbage by itself, but not as slaw.

Little Caleb, however, cried yesterday after taking the last bite of slaw, with no more to replenish his bowl. After a healthy dose of veggies and fruits from our grocery run last night, we are stocked for two, good, loads of Purple Slaw. Delish! And, as sweet as the slaw, is the boy I shared my date with today...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Apt Quote on Life in Brazil

In a recent article, a Canadian expat who has been teaching English in Brazil for the last decade provided an apt quote about life in the country:

"Living here is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Brazil is one of the most bureaucratic nations I have ever heard of and many of the rules and regulations simply don't make any sense whatsoever. One just has to accept the Brazilian way of doing things and exercise lots of patience."
Brazil is a big and beautiful country with many positive characteristics. The bureaucracy and regulations, however, can be intense and stifling. We've found acceptance and patience, as counseled by the above-cited expat, to be the best forward. We would add trust in God and his plan as an essential ingredient to sane living here as well. The final component that I have found helpful is "pessimistic persistence," a new term I just coined. Pessimistic persistence© is the art of insisting and not giving up in the attempt to resolve a conflict or accomplish something, all the while holding absolutely no expectations the persistence will pay off. Believe it or not, it's a form of optimism, as I have found myself happily surprised by the number of times there has been a pay off, in spite of the bureaucratic rules and regulations!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roman Numerals and Microwaves

So many fun stories from the morning. Yet another from 6am this morning.

I was making coffee and Madge was helping out. She was heating up the cream for the coffee in the microwave. She asked me what buttons she need to push to turn the microwave on. I gave her the directions. She was thinking a moment, and then she stated matter-of-factually: [the microwave] "should have Roman numerals instead of these ones [conventional numbers]. That way I can learn right here when I use the microwave." This brought a smile to my face as I tried to imagine a microwave with Roman numerals...a little retro, nowtro action. (A quip from Mighty Wind.)

Madge has been learning all the Roman numerals in school--she has learned all the Stations of the Cross during Lent, and the accompanying Roman numerals. It's been really wonderful to observe. Throughout Lent, we have been doing the Stations of the Cross as a family. Madge gets so excited to do them, "Mom and Dad, I love doing the Stations of the Cross." Mares has done an incredible job of integrating many subjects into a Stations of the Cross learning module. For handwriting and spelling, Madge has written out each of the stations. (My personal favorite is when she reads from her handwriting book, "Jesus meets his afflicted mother." When she reads the word afflicted it's like she knows it's a big and sophisticated word.) She covers religion as they discuss the events in each of the stations. On top of it all, she has learned her Roman numerals! Now if only they made microwaves with Roman numerals...

Thursday, March 22, 2012


This morning the girls began their "official" Portuguese class at home with their instructor. It is so great to listen to their learning and participation with the instructor. One thing that I am so happy the girls brought to class (something you can't just read or learn about from a board-book...) is... their HAPPINESS! It is so beautiful to listen to the giggles, animated voices, and happy responses. There is nothing like happiness. Nothing. It is contagious. May we all pass a little around today, with just a smile, a laugh, a sweet treat brought to a person all alone, or complimenting another. Soon, everyone will be smiling and be seeing Jesus everywhere we go.

Let the children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.". (Mt. 19:14)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Watching. Appreciating. Being Grateful.

This morning I came into the livingroom to sit and just look on to our threesome who were doing what they do every day: play together, pretend, be a family, create a picnic or a party, just be. together.

I cannot count the ways during the day that I am just grateful. Grateful to be teaching our children at home. Grateful to soak up the moments of their being the ages the are: the ages they will never get back to pretend and play side by side again. Grateful to have them learn how to socialize, look people in the eyes when they speak to others and be genuinely concerned for the good of another person. Grateful to love them all day long and to know I can feed them, hug them when they get bumped, their feelings are hurt, or direct them in gently settling an argument. I am grateful. We are all imperfect. We all have our faults, temptations, frustrations, bummer moments. I watch the girls and Little Caleb care for each other, and for Mommy and Daddy, and I am grateful, because they learn, and they are so capable of so much. If only I would step out of the way more to allow God's life to flow and move me in the movements He desires. Hard work is what it is. But, it is all worth it. God's grace is incomprehensible, because it is such a gift. How grateful I am to be able to help our little ones, alongside my husband, to guide and channel these moments in life for an ultimate goal that we can live out here on earth: heaven.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Circuito das Estações: Adidas 10k Fall Run

On Sunday, we ran the Circuito das Estações Adidas 10k Fall Run. It was a fun run, with great organization, and a neat path around all the government buildings of Brasilia. The best part was running next to the most beautiful person in the world (see photo on right). There were over 5,000 runners. As we were running with the running strollers, it took us a good 3k to get past the crowds so that we could actually find our rhythm. That's the way it goes. But it was a great time nonetheless. Runners would comment as I passed, "oh, two kids." Then Mares would pass, and they would recognize, "oh, three kids!"

At one point (around kilometer 7), we were to run downhill under a tunnel. Madge and Pita (whom I was pushing in the double-running stroller) shouted out, "Dad, go really fast!" So I had to oblige them. They raised their arms in the air, and howled as we zipped down the hill at a full-sprint.

Mares and I finished hand-in-hand. The commentator greeted us again at the end. "And here is the family. They've been running all the races in Brasilia recently, with their children."

We had a fun time. The girls love the races, and little Caleb seems to enjoy the people and the music. Hopefully there will be more to come!

Food and Heaven

All our kids are good, little healthy eaters. They eat almost everything put before them, including the sometimes-different Brazilian fruits and vegetables.

Our little Guadalupe, Pita, however, is our food-lover; sometimes it seems like she has a bottomless pit for a stomach as she snacks at all hours of the day. (Fortunately, Mares does a stellar job of keeping a steady supply of health snacks at their little finger tips all day long.)

It was 6:03am this morning, I was brewing coffee and heating some water for tea, as Madge and Pita joined me in the kitchen. They had frazzled bed-heads and sleepy eyes but their minds were racing, as they always are. Pita remarked (I'm not sure why) that she didn't want to die. I told her that death is okay since that is how we get to be with Jesus in heaven. And that's why we don't have to be afraid of death. She elaborated that she didn't want to die because Madge had told her that there would be no food in heaven. Madge chimed in, "Isn't that right, Dad, because we'll just be souls and we won't eat food?" I nodded my head. Then Pita moaned, "But I love food. So I don't want to die and go to heaven where I won't have food." While I am not sure of the specifics in the afterlife (and metaphysical argumentation can only get you so far), I consoled her that heaven will have everything that makes her the most happy. She smiled, "I love food." And that she does.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nosso Amor

LinkToday is Daddy's birthday! Happy birthday, to my best friend and our children's devoted Dad.

We love you so much and cannot begin to express how grateful we are for your life, the joy you bring to us (the many laughs and so much more!), and the stability of strength.

(We give you this song just to show you how grateful we are for your life.) Our souls are calmed when you are near.

Through all things, we can weather it, because we know that the Father is with us and Our Lady is constantly guarding and mothering us, protecting us, as St. Joseph goes ahead and paves the way of quiet strength and protection.

(Thanks to Maddy for these three pictures of our sweet Daddy!)

Thank you for all of your love, your goodness. We treasure you. We give God thanks for your life and give God thanks for our parents, for without them, and God's amazing gift and infusion of life, we would not be here. Gracas a Deus por vida. Vida e boa!