Friday, 27 September 2013

Chicken Pox

It all started with what we thought were a few bug bites, until she came down with a high fever and spent the night in our bed waking up every once in a while moaning and crying. The next morning I debated about whether she should go to school or not; the fever was gone and she seemed ok - until she almost fell asleep sitting up on the sofa. So home she stayed, as I tried to think of what bugs she could have been exposed to that no one else in our family had. Bed bugs was my first thought, since her bed is her own personal space, and the "bites" seemed to match the descriptions I found online. Except for a few things - bites usually appear on exposed skin and in groups of 3 to 5. Hers were on her back and stomach. 

When I dropped Lucas off at school the teachers asked about Elena and as I tried to explain in Portuguese about the bites, they asked if it was maybe chicken pox. I didn't really think about it until later that afternoon. Elena hadn't been vaccinated against it, and after David called the school, they confirmed that a student had it last week. So we've spent the week relaxing at home and keeping Elena as comfortable as possible. 

She has been an absolute champ about the whole business. She had a fever for two nights, and a bit of a dry cough but has hardly scratched her pox at all! We're already on the way up and she's getting her energy back. 

Now you may be wondering about our other kids - Lucas caught chicken pox as a wee 6-month old when his daddy got shingles, soon after we arrived in Brazil.
He also had two days of fever, but that was about it for him. So now we are wondering when / if the twins will catch it from Elena. According to the stats, they almost definitely should, but we haven't seen any real signs of it on either of them. Lisa had a dot or two, but we can't say for sure they are chicken pox. Of course, the disease has quite a long incubation period, so next week might bring another bout of the pox for our home! 

I feel kind of bad about not having Elena vaccinated, but there's not much point worrying or agonizing over it now since it's too late. Hopefully her immune system will just be stronger for fighting off the disease naturally. If by some miracle the twins don't get it, we will get them vaccinated for it. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Four Months - Turning, Toys and Tummy Time

Yup, it's that time again; another month has flown by and my little girls are already a third of the way to being one! It's been a pretty normal month for us; older kids in school, easy days at home. The girls had a bunch of vaccinations and did really well. Now we only have to go back in November.

Their doctor is on holidays right now, so we didn't get to a four month check-up, but I'm going to say they've definitely been gaining weight. Some days I just can't believe how big they are getting already. We've had some of that normal four-month sleep regression which isn't so nice, but Leila seems to be settling back quickly and hopefully Lisa will follow. For now they both still fit in the same crib at night, but now they move so much that one sometimes wakes the other up.

Development wise, we've seen the usual suspects this month - babbling a lot, grinning and giggling, starting to grab at toys, beginning to roll over. Leila has managed to master the art of rolling from her back to her stomach but can't get back around. Lisa is still working on it. They love interacting with people and don't like being alone. I guess it's good they have each other!

Leila in mid-turn
Lisa holding on to one of her books. 
Enjoying Sunday afternoon with Great-grandma and Grandpa
We're still on the basic 3 hour feeding schedule, and I think we're about 70/30 in regards to breastmilk and formula. It's sure going to be interesting to start the two of them on solids in a few months.
Leila makes the best faces! 
Look at those baby blues! (Lisa)
I love watching my little ones grow and develop, but it's kind of a bitter sweet process as these two are our last. *sniff* - they grow up so fast! I am trying to cherish all the sweet moments of snuggling and rocking them to sleep.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Signs of Progress

Language is a part of life we often take for granted. We talk and write, read and comprehend, interact and communicate with others, without giving a thought to the processes involved. It is so natural and instinctive.

However, when we are talking about a second language, it often feels very unnatural; fumbling over nouns and verbs, tenses and word endings. Hoping to somehow communicate and not make a total fool of ourselves in the process. I often wonder how my words come across to a fluent Portuguese speaker. I wonder if it sounds the same as a toddler learning to speak?

I've written before about my progress in learning Portuguese - a journey I've been on for almost ten years already. Granted I really only began a marked effort when we moved here four years ago. It's hard to motivate yourself to learn a new language when you don't really need it yet.

And while I have a long long way to go before I reach fluency (if I ever do) it is nice to see some signs of progress...

Phone calls
I am not a phone person. I would much rather text, email or message someone than pick up the phone and call. And this is in English. So you can imagine that I like to delegate as much of the necessary phone calling to my hubby as I can get away with. I find it much easier to understand Portuguese when I can see the person; I'm no lip reader but it does help. These days, however, I've found I can manage quite a few basic calls; setting up doctors appointments, calling for water or cooking gas to be delivered, and of course, mastering the pizza delivery dialogue.

Yes, I do dream sometimes in Portuguese, and I take it as a good sign that the language is infiltrating subconscious parts of my brain!

Shopping Lists
Making meal plans and a shopping list is essential in keeping our family well fed. Unfortunately, I usually find myself on the morning of my proposed shopping run scribbling out my meal plan and groceries list. Whatever word is shorter usually ends up on the list. Cucumber - too long, pepino - much better.

Word Games
I've recently found myself sucked into two word games that I play online with my hubby and other friends. Letterpress and Words with Friends. Imagine my chagrin when my Portuguese words just don't work. It's nice to see my growing vocabulary though.

There are a lot of expressions that you hear everyday; those idiomatic phrases that just come naturally to express surprise, delight, anger, or just to fill in the pauses in conversation. As I began my language learning, I wondered if those colloquial sayings would ever enter naturally into my conversations. Now, I find that they do, most of the time, seem to flow seamlessly. Of course, I think it took me about two years before I uttered more than a few words in Portuguese.

I have a lot more Portuguese speaking friends on Facebook now, and it's becoming easier and easier to understand the status updates, and even read articles that are linked up there. I enjoy reading a few Portuguese blogs as well. (Thanks Aline and Ariane :))

Now my days are filled with a lot more of the local language, and with Lucas and Elena attending a Portuguese-only school, we are speaking it more frequently at home as well. I still have a long way to go, but I am encouraged to see some small signs of progress along the way.

Have you learned a second language as an adult? What did you find most challenging? 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Why I'm glad my kids misbehave in church

Like many an idealist, I have an image of a perfect Sunday morning. It includes the mother, who, rising early, has time to shower and dress in her Sunday best before setting the breakfast table for the family. The children appear, well rested from a full nights sleep and take their places at the table without complaining. In a relaxed manner, the children are dressed, hair brushed, faces clean, shoes on and in the car ahead of schedule. The drive to church is pleasant and fighting-free. Children are polite to family and friends at church, sitting through the service without making a peep.

Ok, who am I kidding? This would never happen. At least not in our house. Sunday mornings are a rush of hastily downed cereal, chasing down toddlers to get dressed, tending to crying babies and trying to get everyone decent looking and in the car by 9:15 to make an hour long drive to church. And if we're lucky, momma leaves the house with matching shoes and no spit-up on her clothes.

Getting through the service is another feat. Easily distracted children with a short attention span, attending a service in their second language. Not to mention twins who used up a good portion of their morning nap in the car and generally need to be fed and changed. And did I mention my hubby works at the church and usually has responsibilities during the service?

But I am glad my kids misbehave during church. Ok, maybe not glad, but it sure helps teach me a few much needed lessons.

For one, it keeps me humble. There's not a lot of pride when you're on your hands and knees, crawling under the chairs to retrieve the toy car that went rolling off your son's chair. At other times, it's necessary to retrieve the child from under the chairs, or keep them from running around the room. (This was particularly difficult when I was 6+ months pregnant with twins.)
Lucas and Elena on the right side, actually paying attention to the children's talk.
 Secondly, it guards me against judging other families. I know how hard it is to teach and train your kids in acceptable church behavior and I'm far too busy splitting up a fight over the crayons to notice how your kids are behaving.
Lucas and I in the bottom left, and my best-behaved child (Leila) on the right.
Finally, it reminds me of how much I need God's help to get through every day. I do a lot of praying throughout the service, asking God for strength and patience as I wrangle my kids away from the communion table. It reminds me that's it's not about me. And isn't that the point, really?

So, on the occasional Sunday when you do find me, nursing one baby, with the other sleeping and my two angels sitting contentedly side by side sharing the crayons, I hope it's an encouragement to bring your family to church - no matter how they behave.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Southern Living

and I mean waaay south, like South America...

It's a chilly spring morning, here in the southern hemisphere. It's been a long, chilly winter over the past few months and we're ready for summer! Does that sound funny to you? I follow a lot of blogs, most of them written by gals in North America; my blog feed was full of summer BBQ's, beach trips, and other "summery" events. It always feels a little incongruent with what I'm experiencing here on the other side of the world. Not that we can compare a Brazilian winter with a Canadian one - but it's definitely not shorts weather!

It has been just over four years since I moved to South America. I'm still coming to terms with the opposite seasons. Christmas in summer is just weird for me. Even growing up in Bangladesh and celebrating a "green" christmas; it was still the cold season and we enjoyed bundling up, drinking hot chocolate and lighting candles all over the house. There's not much point lighting candles during Christmas here - they'd get blown out by all the fans we have going on. (More Christmas reflections here)

Our state of São Paulo lies in the southern half of the country, and contains beaches and mountains. Our city sits at an average elevation of 780 meters, so while we definitely experience a humid sub-tropical climate, the altitude alleviates the heat a bit, and it gets quite cool during the "winter" season.

I love this climate. It's a nice moderate one, with enough cold days to appreciate a hot cup of tea and look forward to the hot season; and enough hot days to enjoy swimming, smoothies and ice cream before longing for it to cool down. Since we don't have central air, I enjoy snuggling up with a shawl on a cold day and hearing the fans whirr on a hot one. I light candles in July and wear shorts in January.

Here's a sign we pass every week as we head into São Paulo for church - we are crossing the Tropic of Capricorn.

Now many of the blogs I read are turning to autumn - falling leaves, pumpkin recipes, fall fashion, back to school and the impending winter. It's kind of nice to be looking forward to our summer now - trips to the beach with the twins, getting our baby pool out for the kids to splash in, smoothies, popsicles and ice cream too, of course.

I am definitely more of a hot weather person, so I love our hot, humid summers here and after experiencing a few Canadian winters, I'm glad that here they are more like a cool, rainy Canadian spring. I guess if I could really have my way I'd spend June to August in Canada (summer!) and December to February in Brazil (summer!)

What's the weather like where you live? 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

3 Months!

It's 10am, and I'm sitting in my little desk corner, having just nursed Lisa, a recently emptied tea mug on my desk. Leila is still napping away on the other side of the room. Lisa is tucked into my lap, anxious to get onto other things, but maybe she'll let me write for a little while...

Even though this post is, well, almost 3 weeks late, this photo was taken on the exact day of their "3 month-iversary"
Again, I can't quite believe how fast this month has flown by! The older kids are well into their school routine, and we celebrated Elena's third birthday a few weekends ago. I love having my mornings with just the twins, and they enjoy having some time to play safely (i.e., without the threat of the older siblings who are still learning how to love "gently" on their sisters.)

We are getting into a nice routine with these little ones. They are growing and changing so much each day and it's such a privilege to be a part of it. They are starting to interact and "talk" with us, smiling a lot and we even managed to catch Leila's first laugh on camera. It's really too bad that Lisa was wailing the whole time in the background. Lisa's been suffering through her first cold; stuffed up and coughing a lot but I think we're finally on the way up.

At their 3 month check up the doctor was really impressed with their weight gain. Lisa is now 5.4 kilos and 60.5 cm, passing Leila by 0.3 cm. Leila weighs 5.15 kilos and is 60.2 cm.

The biggest accomplishment this month? SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! Let the Hallelujah Chorus ring! Such a pity that it's only Leila who has managed this. It is a real gift though - she usually has a good 10 hour stretch at night. Lisa wakes up once usually around 3 or 4 to nurse, but goes right back to sleep, so I can't complain. Hopefully once this cold passes she'll follow her sister's example.
Since they are still sleeping in our room at night, they are sharing a crib. Pretty soon though we'll have to get them into their own cribs, they're getting so big!

They don't really like tummy time, but are getting stronger everyday. I am so looking forward to them sitting up and being able to play with each other. The other day I laid them down together on the floor and Lisa turned towards Leila and really smiled at her. It was the first time she had acknowledged her sister as another living person. Most of the time they are pretty unaware of the other.

Here's to another great month!

Monday, 2 September 2013

How to Bathe Twins

This was one of the things I thought about a lot before the twins were born. The logistics of how, exactly, was I going to bathe them both myself, and keep them together? (mostly a safety issue with the other kids around.)

Turns out it's not too difficult, as long as you have a decently sized bathroom, a big changing pad on the floor and a bouncy chair. And the bathtub, of course. 

Since our two are distinctly different looking, this doesn't happen in our house...

So once we get all set up - two sets of clothes, diapers, warm water, towels, soap, sponges, one baby on the changing pad (1st to be bathed) and one in the bouncy chair (next in line), it's just a matter of keeping them both happy while being washed, or waiting. 

Unless, of course, this happens...

And we all know you shouldn't wake a sleeping baby...
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