Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is it really December? Are We There Yet?

This seems like it has been the longest two weeks in my life.  We are headed home for Christmas on December 20th and I think time has stopped, or maybe it has just melted and died down here in Brazil.  Y'all it is so hot!  I think it seems way hotter for a multitude of reasons, but mainly because there isn't central air in our apartment. Let's just say I love me some fans.
The hot finger
For some odd reason I don't think I would be as hot if this was happening during "my summer" (June-August), but the whole warm in December thing is throwing me off, it doesn't feel like Christmas is gonna be happening anytime soon.  But alas, I guess the world doesn't revolve around me and our seasons will continue to change as we do this international gig with each post.  Please don't misunderstand this as complaining.  I would much rather be sitting in a hotbox than freezing my bum off in the cold weather from China.  It just feels a little weird to me.

Not only am I super ready to get home, this being Jess and my first "Married" Christmas together makes it even more stellar. It suddenly hit me that although this is our first married Christmas, the whole spending Christmas together thing isn't brand fact this is going to be our third Christmas together.  But this Christmas is our first one as a married couple and I cannot wait to spend it with him and my family (and then his wonderful family for a post-Christmas celebration in Denver).  It's going to be a crazy trip back to the States, but I'm learning that I love craziness.  I'm embracing it.  Watch out South Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado here the Kuemmerlins come!

We should be used to the heat since we spent the last two Christmases in warm weather.  Looking back at Christmases past makes me so thankful for being able to travel.  I love getting to see God's world and meet wonderful people along the way.  In 2010 we spent Christmas on the beaches of Vietnam with our friends Brandon and Michelle.  2011 was very special because we got to spend it with our Thai family, Baan Santisuk.  Christmas morning was even more meaningful as Jess got baptized in the ocean.  

Pardon the rambling...I think my brain is melting. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Truth 365: Raising Awareness of Childhood Cancer

While we don't have any kids yet, I couldn't help but ugly cry face cry through this video. I can't even imagine going through what these kids have been through or to be a family member and be so helpless. It literally broke my heart.  

This is the third time in a week I have read about some form of child cancer.  First Erin's blog, then Katie's blog, and now this.  I think it is a sign.  I know I don't have many followers on this little ole blog, but I couldn't sit back and do nothing.  So please pull up a seat and watch this moving video and then do something...pass it on, pledge, or get your reps to sign the petition.  We can't stand around and do nothing for the innocent.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

November Goals Update and Christmas Cards

Okay I legitimately feel like a real adult now.  Why?  
Living in a foreign country...nope.  
Ordered my first set of Christmas cards...YES SIR!  

I love them.  Now if they would just address themselves. :)  

November Goals Update...

1. 2. Order Christmas/Thank You Cards.   Check...see above.

2. 1. Take photo for Christmas/Thank You Cards. Check...of course I decided to use our wedding pictures, once in a lifetime right?

3. Make mom and dad's and Jess's parents Christmas presents.  Let's just say they will be wedding's not every year we can use this to our advantage!  Check

4. Do some DIY projects around the house...I've been collecting bottles since we got here.  I think any of these via Pinterest would be appropriate and doable.  Check

5. Pray for Jess each day.  Half-Check...I did, but didn't complete the book, The Power of a Praying Wife. Next month I want to finish it!

6. Exercise at least 4 times a week.  Nope...started, but not 4 times.

7. Plan a critical literacy/digital literacy unit for my students.  Might as well put these Master courses to work.    Check, they are loving it!

8. Do one random act of kindness a day and keep track of them.  Nope :(

9. Take more walks, with Jess.  Nope, but we spent a lot of good QT together.

10.  Drink more water and less Caipirinhas Check

11. Study Portuguese more and practice daily with students/locals.  Fail.

12. Take more pictures. Check.

13. Start Jess's Christmas present.  We are making each other something this year. Check and I ordered his too.  He's going to love it! 

14. Be a better Betty I didn't realize how hard this would be. least in my book I was.

15. Start a Bible study. Nope. I bought a new one to do and met a girl from America at a Thanksgiving dinner that I think will be a great connection. 

16. Wash my face every night...hey I'm just keeping it real. I think I only missed one or two. 

I feel like I was pretty successful with my goals.  Thanks Shalynn for the great idea.  Next up...December goals.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Retro Blogging: Xi'an Trip

Being that I am blogging about all our travel in Brazil, I figured it only right that I catch up with our time in China.  
Before our time in China was over we really wanted to make it to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors, so we decided to make it happen one of the last weekends there. Our weekends were filling up fast, but we knew we wanted to make this trip so we set a weekend aside and am I glad we did.  We originally went to see the Warriors, but found out Xi'an is a great city with great eats and lots to do.
Just hanging out
These guys hadn't been been fully restored yet and were waiting to join their friends

Pit 1 of the Warriors
Our lodging for the weekend, Warrior Apartments, was amazing.  It was a quirky, unique, and spacious apartment where we enjoyed our down time (not that we had much) in Xian. In our apartment there were over fifty terracotta warrior replicas.  Some were life size, others were small enough to miss if you weren't looking.  It was a great place and right next to the Muslim Quarter of Xian.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who visits Xian.

A couple of times the warriors scared the daylights out of me when I woke up or walked around a corner.  I guess they did their job of protecting the apartment.
The kitchen door was Chinese red, some of the the warriors in the wall, the shower even had the warriors in tiles.   

We arranged for Clarence, who owns the apartments with his darling wife, to take us out to see the Warriors. Part of the tour he gives includes visiting a couple's house that was built into the side of the mountain.  We talked with the sweet couple and they explained that they built this house over forty years ago with their own hands.  Being in the side of the mountain it naturally conserved energy and heat, it kept the house cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. They showed us around and then we were on our way.  I will always remember meeting this lovely couple and being welcomed into their home! 
Clockwise: Top Right-Us with the couple, silk worms for dinner, their kitchen, the entrance to their house
  Being our hotel was located almost in the Muslim District you know we had to check out the delicious food available.  Our favorites of the weekend were nan and mutton stew.  It was so flavorful and filling. We spent awhile looking for the perfect, non-touristy place to try the stew and we hit the jackpot on our pick.  It was a hole in the wall (aren't those always the best) with amazing servings and a fun staff. 

Chinglish never gets old
 Our last day in Xi'an we rented bikes and pedaled the 14 kilometers on the Wall that surrounds the city.
Entrance to the city wall
Door along the ride

Some of the wall and views from the wall
We finished!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Wednesday Surprise and Some Crafts

The wonderful hubby surprised me at school with a dozen of beautiful roses for no reason.  
I love that man. 

I split the roses up and put them around our house.  I love them in my pottery from Monte Sião.

One of my goals for November was to make DIY bottles. Little did I know what a task it would be to buy paint here.  I finally found some spray paint and went to buy it.  In order to purchase it I needed to give them my CPF number (kind of like your SSN in the States).  It's not on a card or anything and I haven't memorized it yet so we were at a stand still.  The people working were so nice.  I don't know how they ended up doing it, but somehow I was allowed to buy spray paint.  Geesh!  

I've been collecting different bottles and want to paint/decorate them in a variety of ways to arrange throughout the house.  So I painted a couple of them half white and arranged six on our "entertainment center" (that's being very generous in the name department, it's so puny).  I used some of the baby's breath from the flower arrangement and put it in the bottles.  I like how it turned out and am even more inspired to finish some more bottles.  What do you think?  


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quasi Honeymoon Part 2: The Beaches

After almost a week exploring Salvador we were ready to see another part of Bahia that is famous, the beaches!  We spent one afternoon at a local beach and boy was it an experience.  Lots of butts, quail eggs, cheese, and great people watching. I love Brazilians because they are all about having fun with their loved ones.  We "talked" with a young woman and her adorable little boy.  EVERYONE wanted to get dark, I've never seen that before. I remember going to Florida with my FUBball girls and all the white girls were tanning while the black girls were hiding under an umbrella. I kind of chuckled at the polar opposites of the cultures. 
Check out the sand sculpture on the left I think they needed a parental rating system. Also, I slyly got pics of the ladies' boom booms. Who knew fried cheese could be so yummy on a hot beach?
Everyone kept telling us we had to go to Praia de Forte, so we knew that was a must.  At the beginning of the week we felt daring and were willing to rent a car and drive the hour to the beach by ourselves, but as the week wore on we lost our confidence leaned towards hiring a driver to take us there so we could relax.  I am so glad we did!  We got a free Portuguese lesson for the day and he took us to parts of the beaches that were remote and peaceful. 

This man was catching heaps of fish...Jess so wanted to join in.  He was so nice and talked with us for awhile explaining how much he caught each day.

 What's a vacay without a jump picture? 
We had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The time went by way too fast, we cherished every meal, nap, sight, and all the time we had alone.  Now only 22 days until we are back in the States!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quasi Honeymoon to Salvador

Being that we were only back in the States for less than a month and in that time we got married we decided to delay our honeymoon to spend time with our family.  Well we finally got around to one! 

We decided to go up north to Salvador to explore our new country. Let me tell you it did not disappoint.  We stayed at the best boutique hotel ever in the middle of historic Salvador. It was quite an experience filled with food, music, and hotness.

For your sake I decided to divvy the post up into two, one about the city of Salvador and the other about the beaches we escaped to.  While I wasn't thinking I would like a "city" vacation we had a lot of fun exploring and taking in the sights.  So here it goes...

We arrived and were immediately greeted with a complimentary bottle of champange in our room.  The view was great and we crashed and took a three hour nap.  Starting it off right in my book.

Someone is happy, the balcony, and our room
 We decided to explore and walked the colorful streets of Salvador.  Each building was painted a bright colorful and we rarely saw two of the same shade.  The doors were all colorful too.  I loved the old ladies and men sitting or standing by their window and watching people go by.
 One day we went to Bom Fin church. The colorful ties are good luck and are tied everywhere in Bahia. I bought some and have a craft idea in mind.  I am my mother's daughter.
 The square was popping...there was always live music and other entertainers.  I almost bought an outfit like the one Jess's new friend is wearing.  Funny, I fit in better in Brazil than I ever did in China.
We also went to some famous fort there, I don't know if you ask me it was just hot and I needed a ice cold refreshment. 
 Good thing we found one...and got to watch a local soccer game while we enjoyed it. 

After the great recommendation of our hotel we headed to a local restaurant for some bobó de camarão. It was delicious, a mixture of spice and sweet, it reminded me a lot of Thai food.  Bahian food is very spicy, I didn't believe our server when he told me it was too hot for me and to be careful.  I ended up sucking on an ice cube and sugar to get rid of the fire in my mouth.  Lesson learned.
 As anywhere we saw some pretty funny artwork/statues and decided to play tourist and pose with them.  Classy I tell you, classy.
 Our nights were spent enjoying the sunset with caparhinas in hand.  Ahhhh...heavenly.  Not to mention we were together. Spending time with my best friend and hubby is the most precious thing in the world and I am so blessed to have him!

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Goals

Being it is almost halfway through November I decided I would start to keep myself accountable by making a list of goals to accomplish this month.  It's crazy because even though we live in a beautiful country I rarely get out to explore in my day to day life because I tell myself I'm too busy.  Well I don't want to make any excuses.  There are lots of things I want/need to get done this month before heading home for a month in December!!! Here it goes...

1. 2. Order Christmas/Thank You Cards.

2. 1. Take photo for Christmas/Thank You Cards. 

3. Make mom and dad's and Jess's parents Christmas presents.  Let's just say they will be wedding's not every year we can use this to our advantage!

4. Do some DIY projects around the house...I've been collecting bottles since we got here.  I think any of these via Pinterest would be appropriate and doable.

5. Pray for Jess each day.

6. Exercise at least 4 times a week.

7. Plan a critical literacy/digital literacy unit for my students.  Might as well put these Master courses to work.

8. Do one random act of kindness a day and keep track of them.

Source: via Beth on Pinterest

9. Take more walks, with Jess. 

10.  Drink more water and less Caipirinhas

11. Study Portuguese more and practice daily with students/locals.

12. Take more pictures.

13. Start Jess's Christmas present.  We are making each other something this year.

14. Be a better Betty I didn't realize how hard this would be.

15. Start a Bible study.

16. Wash my face every night...hey I'm just keeping it real. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Weekend: R and R in Campos do Jordão

Thanks to some unknown Brazilian holiday we had a three day weekend around these parts.  We took the opportunity to travel to Campos do Jordão, a charming little town about 3 hours away.  It was just what my soul needed-great views, relaxing atmosphere, quality time with my honey, amazing food, and just good old fun.  

We took the cable cars up a hill to get a view of the little town.  Y'all I was scared!  Jess had the other camera, but once I upload those pictures I will post an awful and embarrassing funny picture of my clinging to my little pole next to my seat. Once we got to the top it was worth it.  The weather was a little cloudy so the pictures don't do it justice. 

Jess walked around while I napped one day and took some great pictures.  It was so green and colorful and the buildings are similar to European towns. We had a great time walking and exploring--with lots of stops for chocolate and beer. 

We kept joking we were on Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.  

Jesus Saves!

 On Saturday I was craving fondue, we found this great little restaurant and were not disappointed. 

The day we left it was perfect weather.  We enjoyed a couple more glasses of our new favorite beer and ate one more doce de leite crepes before hitting the road home.  The drive home was filled with beautiful scenery and great company, which made it go even faster. 

Jess and I were talking about how blessed we are to be able and experience new places like Campos do Jordão with each other.  Next stop the beaches of Brasil!  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dinner with the Scotts

For my masters course we had to write a multi-genre portfolio about an overarching topic. My topic was family support...thought I would share one of my pieces.

Grammy and Matthew carrying on the tradition this summer (although I think he's more of a help than I ever was!)

Mom, often confused with Martha Stewart, always had a home cooked dinner on the table as my dad arrived home from a long day’s work. All of us kids would make the journey to the dinner table from our respective places around  our house. Every night, five kids and their parents, would enjoy dinner together.  Sitting down and sharing about our days together instilled in me the importance of a supportive family.  It’s a value I hold close to my heart as a newly married woman, hoping to instill the value in my future children as well. 

The rectangular table surrounded by a bench on one of the longer sides and chairs on the remaining three sides.  Dad’s spot at the head of the table with mom to his left, which allowed her easy access to the kitchen. Since us kids didn’t have assigned seats we changed positions as often as a teenager update their Facebook status. The rustic brown bench with with mom’s beautiful handwritten alphabet scribbled along the back support was my favorite place to sit.  It was on that bench I received encouragement to go after my dreams and face my fears, lectures on having good character even when it’s the tough thing to do, and confidence when I didn’t believe in myself.  Our family was a unit and we had each other’s back, no matter what.  

My family is very competitive, and dinner was not an exception.  A clay pig isn’t much to fight over for many people, but for my family it was the cause of tears and battles.  Each dinner my mom would place the pig in front of the diner with the worst table manners.  Throughout dinner the pig’s spot would move like a queen in an intense chess game, depending on who made a foul move. At the end of dinner if you ended up with the pig you were on dish duty.  Of course, me being the youngest of five, I inevitably would end up with the stupid pig.  My siblings would laugh at me and quickly leave the table to go back to whatever they were doing and I was left staring down the dinner swine.  After lots of tears, complaining, and pleading my mom would save me from dishes duty and help me complete the daunting task of cleaning the dishes of seven people.  

Looking back, I can’t recall a time when we didn’t pray before our dinner. Mom and dad have a strong faith, one of the few that are actually lived out.  They taught my siblings and I how to put our relationship with God first in our lives, in good times and in bad. Holding hands with the people you love most in the world and giving gratitude to God before sharing a meal strikes me to my core.  It put things into perspective after a bad day and humbles you after a great day.  

While I don’t remember all the dishes mom cooked, one thing I do remember is dinner always ended with dessert, sometimes even second desserts.  Mom has a mind blowing baking ability  and she never disappointed with her ooey gooey chocolate cake, apple pie, strawberry pretzel brownies, or homemade ice cream--just to name a few. You only got dessert if you finished your whole meal, which caused a few problems in my mind.  I learned quickly that if I wanted something bad enough going through a little struggle, in this case eating the green heap of vegetables on my plate, was worth it.  Many a dinners ended in tears and yammers of the world’s injustice because I couldn’t get dessert.  Through it all mom and dad never gave in.  They stood strong as a team and supported each other, even when I was being a bit of a brat. While I didn’t realize it at the time they were modeling what it meant to be a team and how to stand their ground.  I thought they were being stubborn and mean, but they were being parents in guiding me and protecting me from stomachaches (and bigger things further down the road). Even though I hated them because they stood in the way of the last piece of goodness I never doubted their infinite love for me and my best interests. 

A fly on the wall of the Scott household probably thought our family dinner rituals were pure chaos, but they weren’t.  They were a holy mess of love and family. The sum of all the dinners taught me the values of communication, faith, support, and fun within a family.  

Jess and I cooked dinner for my parents before we left for Brasil

Love my parents and the hunk on the right