Wednesday, March 29, 2017


My hearts

This time around is much different, in a good way. I feel much better about my moming.  I feel like it's my second chance to be a mom, to improve upon all the things I messed up and to savor the phases I wished away with Tae. I am calmer and enjoying the moments more. I am soaking up everything--the good, the bad, the ugly.  Mostly it's all good.  Things have gone so well, I am incredibly thankful for our support system that made going from one to two a smooth transition. Tae is just the best big brother, he loves Elea so much.  The way he says her name just melts my heart.  Elea is a tough little sister, she has put up with accidental kicks, open mouth kisses from Tae, and the constant noise that a 2 year old brings with him. 

Curious big brother 

She is a much calmer baby than Tae ever was, I think that is because we are more relaxed as parents.  I know this time around that she will cry for unknown reasons and that all I can do is comfort her. There's nothing I did/didn't do to make her cry, it's just what babies do.  Last time with Tae I would get stressed out and in turn I stressed him out, making him cry more and louder. Cue the cycle of crying on his end and my end.  This time we are all happier.  Although, funny when we first brought Elea home and she would cry Tae would start crying too.  He was sad she was crying, thank goodness that didn't last long!  

Free Hugs 

I'm still learning how to give each one the time they need.  Tae is so patient when I am with Elea, at first I felt bad, but then I realized this is life and he needs to learn to wait.  Also, having the amazing Keila helps too because she takes him and he gets lots of fun attention from her.  Elea also has to learn to be patient because there are times that Tae takes priority and she just has to wait or actually be put down and not held (God forbid!). I have to prioritize or multitask to give each the attention they need.  I've gotten pretty good at holding Elea and playing with Tae one handed.

A little nap in the MamaRoo 

Happy girl! 

Sleeping in her crib! 

I'm cherishing the one on one time with Tae so much.  He is such a fun kid.  We could sit and play all day and I wouldn't get tired of him.  Right now he is totally into cars, so we sit and "drive around" his little town and make all the car noises we can.  He also loves to paint/color, so we have given Casa de Tae multiple renovations and design makeovers with crayons.  We also like to sit outside and watch all the cars go by, this is a favorite of mine as the weather is cooling down and I can actually sit on a chair and not the floor (by the way when did I get so old!). I feel like maternity leave is a gift to bond with him, as well as Elea.  I didn't realize how much I missed him throughout the day until I got to spend all day with him.

Snuggles are the best 

Feeding his animals breakfast

Coloring with my little man 

Finally, another thing I'm learning to embrace as a mom of two is me time. I don't think I left Tae for the first 3 months of his life, but this time around I need it.  I need to unwind or relax, so that I can be a better mom.  It comes in all forms--quiet time, lettering, blogging,Netflix, massage, manicure, dates with Jess, dinner with friends, playdates--basically adult time. I love my kiddos, but I also love my sanity.  I used to fight it because I felt selfish, but now I embrace it because it does help me. I either get up earlier so I can squeeze some alone time in or stay up a little after I put Elea down, but I try to make sure it happens.  I actually write it in my planner and check it off, it makes me feel productive to look back on what I accomplished that week. On that note I am super thankful for Jess and his support of my me time. He is the one who encouraged me to get a massage or a manicure.  He's a keeper for sure!

Date night with the Josephs

A playdate with my friend Ju and her daughter Sabrina--win win

Getting my practice in 

A piece I finished during naptime 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Two weeks ago mom and dad came to visit us, let's be honest they came to meet the little princess Elea and get some hang time with Tae. We know they don't like to travel long distances, so we are super appreciative of their sacrifice to be here with us.  Their mom's trip didn't start out that great after having two glasses of wine spilled on her and sitting in wet pants the entire flight.  Then she almost got sick on the ride from the airport to apartment.  However, we were waiting for them on the street in front of our apartment and I hope our warm welcome made their journey worth it.

Both mom and dad were under the weather, dad with a hacking cough and mom with what we came to find out, vertigo. She also ended up catching dad's cough.  With their ailments and a newborn, we pretty much hung out at home the whole time.  We took a few walks and went to lunch a few days, but other than that we stayed at home.

Tae absolutely loved having his Poppy and Grammy here.  He was his usual happy self and was just glad to have a few more people in his audience. Elea charmed them with her cuteness and hair. This time is just so fun to watch two of the people we love most build a relationship with our two kiddos. Tae still asks about Poppy and Grammy, and has affectionately named two of his bath toys (a whale and a crab) after them.

We did manage to pull of a churrasco at our good friends' Pierre and Marina's house for Tae's 2nd birthday.  We invited a few people and Tae was in heaven. He loved being outside and couldn't decide on what thing to play with first.  Pierre's granddaughters ended up coming and Tae had a ball coloring under the lights and eating (his first!) cookie. We all gorged ourselves on all types of meat and of course, grilled cheese and garlic bread. 

Living so far from family is bittersweet, we love the life we have here but we miss our family and friends daily.  It was so great to have a piece of our hearts here.  We spent the days talking, laughing, beating dad in Quirkle, eating, going on walks, playing with the kids, and just enjoying being together.  Thanks mom and dad for your visit, we miss you already! Love you!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


My Sweet Boy, 

You are turning 2 on Sunday and my mind can't help but think back to the moment I first held you in my arms. You captivated my heart from the first second and my love has only grown since then. You've grown so much since your first birthday and each day is so fun to watch you learn and take on the world. You started walking, talking in both Portuguese and English, and your personality has blossomed. 

You truly are the happiest little boy, you bring a smile to everyone's face that you come into contact with. Your laugh is has changed throughout the year depending on your mood and the moment-- from a tee-hee-hee innocent laugh, a hearty belly laugh, to an almost evil cackle.  When you laugh you make yourself laugh even more.  Your smile lights up your eyes and you get high dimples on your cheeks that melt my heart.  I can't help but smile when you laugh at something because your laugh is contagious. You have a smile on from the moment you wake up until we lay you down to sleep.

You are a sensitive soul. When an animal or someone on the TV gets hurt you show empathy with a big, "Oh no!!" and your hands on your cheeks. Every time we walk by the dance store, you exclaim, "Oh no!" because the mannequins are missing their heads.  You aren't scared to make friends, you will hold anyone's hand and walk with them on our daily walks. I pray that you continue to have and show empathy for others. This world is full of people who are different than you, but we are all human and trying the best we can. Be kind, you never know what someone else is going through. 

Last year I learned so much from being a mama, and again I go back to what God is teaching me as your mamae. Our relationship has continued to mirror God's and our relationship.  No matter what you do or how mad I am at you, I love you and want the best for you. I can't help but forgive you , just like our heavenly father forgives us. I also am learning to be consistent when I discipline you. God disciplines us because of his love for us, and I discipline you for the same reason. Through being your mom I have come to appreciate God's love for us even more than before.

I want to thank you for helping me grow as a person. I stick to what I said last year, being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, yet the most amazing.  You have taught me how to be patient, be consistent, show my emotion and hold it back when appropriate, humility, and how to be selfless.  I'm still working on all these things, and promise I will always try to better myself for you and Elea.  You both have stretched my heart beyond what I thought capable. When you fall, my heart stops. When you succeed my heart swells with pride.  When you learn something new I am astounded at how your little brain absorbs everything.  

Now for some things that you have done/are doing that I want to share with you.  You still sleep in your crib, and boy do you love sleep.  You are content just sitting in there to wait for us to get you in the morning.  You love our friends, Jenn and Josh, you get so happy on Sunday Linners.  You are starting imaginary play--feeding your stuffed animals, playing with your cars, and cleaning the house (you call this Alice after the apartment's cleaning lady). You love Tico and Pete, the two men who bring our water, you scream, "Tae, Tae, Tae" when you see them because they do this too.  You love to be outside, so we go on family walks almost daily.  While we walk you LOVE to stop and explore.  You are the sweetest big brother, you search for Elea every time you wake up, enter the apartment, or move to another activity.  You help get her diapers and give her kisses.  You still love books, Bita is your current favorite. You point out all the details on each page, or you breeze through it not caring about the story or the details.  You love to dance, and you put your own little spin on it--either with a stomp of the foot or a Brazilian point.  You do so much more, but those are some of the things that stick out and I don't want to forget.

This next year has a lot of change on the horizon and I know you will handle it like a champ. You constantly amaze us with your aptitude to pick up new things. We love you to the moon and back.  Te Amo Amor!


Saturday, March 18, 2017


Dear son,

There was a quote from someone who said the days are long and the years are short. It is so true, as I think it was only yesterday I wrote an email to you for your first birthday. Alas, here we are and I hope I can put some thoughts together which will help you in one way or another.

Now, I want to try to add a little structure to these emails as I look forward to writing many of them in the future. My hope is you will be able to see your growth and progression easier from year to year by me adhering to some guidelines. 

I started with a question and asked "what would I want to know if my parents sent me an email?"It took me a while, but I came up with the central idea of highlights. Highlights of your life, our family, and the world. To cap it off, I plan on writing you some of the greatest lessons I have learned in my life, so you can take these and hopefully learn from them to improve yours. Well let's get into it!

There was so much growth for you this year, and I am not just talking about your physical growth. First, you learned how to crawl, walk, run and jump. Additionally, you began talking in both English and Portuguese. You are a quick read and have figured out how to manipulate the iPad almost by yourself. The only you can not do is log on, but I feel you will have mastered this by the next email I write to you.

In terms of our family, we also grew in many ways. First, your mom and I received jobs at our "dream School" in Shekou, China, and we will be moving to there this coming August. We are so excited to share all the experiences, but also to show you the world. Mom and I have grown so much living abroad, and want to give you this same opportunity. There is also the small matter of your baby sister, Elea, joining our family. She arrived on 12/02/2017 at 12:38 PM. You were not so sure of her at first, but have naturally taken the role of big brother already.

The world has also seen a lot of changes as well. Donald Tump was elected president of the US, which created much division in the country and the world. We are hoping things work themselves out, but he stands for a lot things your mother and I do not and want to teach you and your sister to see everyone eye to eye, and give everyone respect, even if they are different from you. This is a life lesson that we hope you learn, to share Christ even if you disagree with people.

Now for more life lessons. Before I do this, wanted to share a special moment we had this year. We really started to connect one day when you and your mom were painting. I remember going over and you putting your hand to mine and it was like we both saw into each others souls. Although the experience lasted seconds, it has been imprinted into my memory for eternity. Life is the accumulation of small moments, and I will cherish this one for all my days. 

Ok, now to the lesson. I want to share with you to EMBRACE life. Embrace means not to change or resist it. There are so many beautiful things God presents us on a daily basis, but often time we can not see them as we expect everything to turn out a specific way and try to control every aspect of our lives. I will discuss these matters when you are older and can comprehend them better, but know to EMBRACE what life presents you with. 

For example, I feel I expect too much of you, and at times find fault with what you are doing. However, this takes me away from being a better dad, and this is not what I want. What I do want is to suffer when you suffer, laugh when you laugh, and not hold you to the yardstick of the experiences of my life. 

Well, that is it for now, but happy 2nd birthday my dearest son!

Love you forever,
Dada aka Papai

Sunday, March 12, 2017


March 12, 2017 

Height: 57 centimeters (22.5 inches) 
Weight:  9.2 kilos (10 pounds 14 ounces)

  • Sleeping on anyone 
  • Baths 
  • Nursing 
  • Laying/kicking on the activity mat 
  • Grunting when she sleeps at night (we call her our little gremlin) 
  • Movement of any kind--just like Tae  
  • Naps 

  • Getting toys dropped on her by her big brother (oops!)
  • Pacifiers (just give her the boob!) 
  • Having shirts/dresses over her head 

The Jury's Out:
  • MamaRoo 
  • Swaddling 

  • Sleeps like a rockstar, especially in the day 
  • Loves to be held while she sleeps 
  • Falls asleep when I wear her 
  • Loves to grunt and make as much noise as possible when sleeping at night 
  • Pretty much sleeps through the night (9ish-9ish), only to wake up for feedings 

  • Nurses on demand--eats like a champ (every 1.5 hours in the day)  
  • Gets the milk coma after nursing 

Favorite Moments: 
  • Watching Tae "play" with her. Basically this includes him showing her all the toys, poking her (or "touch" as he calls it), and giving her open mouth kisses on her head 
  • When she sleeps on my chest or in my arms--I find myself watching her sleep and I just smile 
  • Our family of four, just hanging out and being together
  • Grammy and Poppy coming to visit, even with the sicknesses and feeling crappy it was great to have them here 
  • Dressing her up and picking out bows. I didn't think I would love being a girl mom, boy was I wrong. 

  • Smile--so brief mama barely caught it 
  • Rolled to her side, probably on accident but we're counting it 
  • Vaccine (TB)--she was so brave and cried less than mama 
  • Trip to the mall, play center, walks at the bosque, out of town visitors (Grammy and Poppy), party (Tae's 2nd birthday churrasco) 
  • Can hold her head up pretty well...likes to look around when being held upright 

Mommy Thoughts: 
I am much calmer and roll with the punches better as compared to Tae. She is a pretty chill baby, making the transition relatively smooth.  Tae loves her so much, he is constantly on the look out for Elea and shows her to anyone that will listen to him.  Seeing them together makes me so happy, and I envision their friendship and bond growing even deeper in the years to come.  She hasn't shown much of her personality yet, but I can't wait to watch it develop.  She has the craziest (and softest!) hair that makes me laugh every day. She definitely looks like Jess, everyone comments how she is a spitting image of him. 

This time around I am trying to soak up every moment.  With Tae I didn't realize how fast everything went and found myself wishing away stages that were challenging.  Now I know, as cliche as it is, that time is fleeting and I won't get back the snuggles, late nights, and her dependence solely on me so I am trying to focus my energy on that.