Monday, June 23, 2008

Pool Fun!!

We love the pool! We have been three times in the last week, and I broke down and bought season passes on Saturday, so we plan to go a whole lot more. Last year Jaxon was so scared of the water, and Emory couldn't get enough of it. Now Jaxon won't get out and Em is a little more apprehensive. Lucky for them they have parents who watch them like hawks at the pool.

On Friday I met with a bunch of friends at the Brigham pool. Chelsea, Lindsay, Channa, Jenn, Alisha and Laci were there, to name a few. Such a fun day, and it's so fun to see my kids playing with my friend's kids. I have high hopes for Emma and Emory to be best friends, since Linds and I were so close when we were little.

Here's little Emma Jensen. Emory is her clone. What? Who had the camera on the wrong setting? That was me, but it was too bright to even notice it until I got home. My bad.

Of course we had seventeen fruit snack breaks.

Daddy even came for most of the day. These are the days when we love daddy's job. He teaches one class in the summer, so he's gone for about five hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Other than that he is home most of the summer. It's so much fun.

My cute kids with one of Chelsea's cute kids in the background. I can't tell which one it is because I can't see her chubby cheeks or her bracelet!

Cute little Gavin Barber. I'm hoping he and Jax get lots of play time this summer. Hint hint Alisha. And that's little Nathan in the background and his hot momma Channa.

Jaxon, Gavin & Teagan. Could Teagan look any more like Jeremy and Gavin look any more like Alisha?

Cute little chubby belly. She loved that ball. In fact, she screamed her little brat head off when we couldn't find it. Isn't her swimsuit the hussiest little thing you've ever seen? And yes, hussiest is an adjective.

I love summer! Despite the headaches I get from the heat and the sun, I love just hanging out at the pool, I love the longer days, I love having Travis home more often, I love having my kids in shorts and tank tops and flip flops, I love not having to wear coats, I love the pool, I love barbecues (and barbecue food), I love vacations, and I love having a reason to see my friends more often. I hope this summer stays this much fun. We have been crazy busy so far with our trip and some other things, but from here on out I'm hoping we just get to hang out a lot.

This week Melanie and her kids are coming for two weeks, and Shelby will overlap with her for a week and stay for a week after, so I can't wait. I love my in-laws, they are so much fun. And Friday is the annual Thiokol Lagoon Day - can't miss that!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Trip - The Condensed Version

Well, here goes. Here is the travelogue of our trip. If any of you are bored enough to read this, I hope you enjoy:).

Day One (Wednesday): We left Salt Lake on a freaking helicopter. Here's Ryan, who is six foot seven, on this tiny little plane for two and a half hours. Poor guy.
Here we are in Houston for a few hours while we wait for our overnight flight to Sao Paulo.
Day Two (Thursday): We landed in Sao Paulo at about nine AM and after getting our car and all that fun stuff, we headed out. Here we are DRIVING to Curitiba from Sao Paulo. In reality, five hours shouldn't be too bad. No one told us it was that long on a winding road with potholes all over. But it was a beautiful drive.
After driving for a million hours and getting lost for three looking for our hotel, we finally checked in Thursday night and went next door to Pizza Hut for dinner. Then we went home and passed out.

Day Three (Friday): Apparently the time difference got to us, since we slept until 1:30 PM on Friday. That and all the travelling with no sleep just about killed us. So Friday we woke up and just walked the area around our hotel and met the guy in the Speedo (refer to earlier post).

Here's me at a typical dentist's office in Brazil. Not quite like what we have here.
Here we are at Trav's mission reunion Friday night. I got a little bored because I didn't understand a word of the program or the socializing.
Here we are with two of Trav's companions. They are both Brazilian.

After the reunion we drove around lost for two hours to give a member a ride home (I was in the back of the station wagon, in the cargo area) and then we drove around for another hour trying to get back to our hotel. We finally ended up at McDonald's for dinner. So after my firs 48 hours in Brazil, I had eaten at two of the most American restaurants ever.

Day Four (Saturday): Today was the day we went to see the temple and get our tickets for the dedication. This is also the day we happened to see President Monson on the temple grounds after returning for the second time because half our group forgot their recommends. It was very cool.

The temple is absolutely beautiful.
Here's President Monson arriving at the temple to do his final walk through. I love knowing that this man is truly a prophet of God.Love this tree.
Sort of like this boy.After visiting the temple we went to a churrascaria (similar to Rodizio in Salt Lake, they have them all over Brazil) for dinner. Here's some random graffiti. It is ALL OVER the streets.
After dinner we went to the cultural celebration. It was put on by a huge group of the members in the area for the general authorities that were here for the dedication. It was absolutely amazing, and absolutely cold. They involved all the primary children, the young men and young women, and quite a few of the other members. It was an incredibly spiritual thing to watch, and it was just in some random soccer arena right down the street from our hotel.
The rain held off long enough for the celebration, but started immediately after. We had to walk home in it, but Trav didn't feel too bad for me. Apparently he got rained on a lot on his mission.

Day Five (Sunday): We woke up early thinking we would head to church in the area that Ryan and Travis served in together, but when we got there we realized that church was cancelled for the dedication, so we did some sight-seeing and hit some of the parks.

Dorks both brought their tags.
Here we are at the Parque Sao Lorenzo. Beautiful parks. Don't try to pronounce the names. Trust me, it sounds nothing like you expect it to sound. Portugese is a strange language.
Here's Ryan by a bunch of dogs. There are dogs EVERYWHERE in Brazil, and it's funny because Ryan once was chased down and bit by a German Shepard on his mission. So so funny. Poor kid had a bot worm in his head, got bit by a brown recluse and chased down by a dog.

Opera de Arame. Again, don't try to pronounce. A really pretty opera house. Bridge across the river was a little scary, but it was so pretty. And cold. Really, really cold.
Don't worry Lex. We took your soul to Brazil.
Parque Tangua. Again, our people are living in poverty, but don't worry, our parks are really well kept. My outfit rocks.

Sunday night we just took it easy after going to a freaking expensive and nasty pizza place, and hung out at our hotel. Then we went to a little burger joint (and by burger joint, I mean in the Brazilian sense) and had ice cream. It was like one pound for thirty dollars. Wasn't stuff supposed to be cheap here???

Day Six (Monday): We hit another park, Jardim Botanico on our way to hitting some of the boy's areas.

Do you think this is against the rules? Do you think the groundskeepers were right behind him?
This park is a beautiful indoor botanical garden. It was terribly entertaining to watch the boys chase each other around inside. I don't think we're really all that into plants.
After the park we hit one of Ryan's areas, called Barrio Alto. Here is the "barbecue" inside the house of one of the members in Ryan's old ward. Kind of crazy.
My favorite is where they put their trash. They leave it out here, and the garbage man drives by, and a bunch of garbage men jump out and pick it up. Do you think they get it all? Nope. Do you think it's strewn all over the streets? Yep.
These are the stairs leading up to Trav's house in one of his areas, Pilarzhino.This is Alscione. Travis lived above her in his first area. She was the sweetest woman. She gave me a doll she made. She also was putting together a samba activity for the ward on Tuesday night that we were going to attend. But since everyone walks in Brazil, and it was pouring rain, they cancelled it. Bummer.
After Alscione's we went to some other members house for dinner in the area where Trav and Ryan were together, Ahu. They bought us pizza and we spent quite a bit of time there. They are a wonderful family. Nelson, the father, bore testimony of how important Travis was to his family. It was amazing, and so much fun. Every woman should get to go back to her husband's mission to hear how much people love them. I know Trav's an amazing person, but it's nice to know he was even back then.

Here I am eating dinner with Gabriel and Lucas. They are such sweet boys, even though I understood little of what they were saying. Lucas is learning English, and he taught me some Portugese. Do I look tired here? I was.
Here's Travis and I with Nelson, Annemery, Lucas and Gabriel. We will forever be friends with these people.

Day Seven (Tuesday): And I'm definitely starting to wind down, ready for a change of scenery. Have only talked to my kids once in a week, but they're doing just fine. In fact, our feelings were a little hurt that they didn't really miss us.

On Tuesday we split up, and the Wosleys took the bus to some of Ryan's old areas, and Trav and I drove to a place called Ponta Grossa, Trav's last area. We hoped to hit a cool national park on our way down, but don't worry, it's closed on Tuesdays. Not our most successful day. And we didn't find any of the people Travis wanted to find. But we did eat some really good crepes with chocolate in them at the mall. And by mall I mean the flea market.

This was Travis' church in Ponta Grossa.
We found his old house, and the missionaries still live there, so we peeked in the windows and took pictures.
One reason I could never live here - no dryers. All laundry is hung out to dry. Yucky. In that area right in front of the door is where Travis once tried to kill a chicken. The woman who owned their house was teaching them how to cook a chicken from the very beginning (beginning meaning alive) and she had them try to break their necks. Well, Trav just succeeded in breaking its neck and the chicken ran around throwing up all over the sidewalk until the woman killed it. Then Travis and his companion would shoot blow guns at the chickens, and every time the woman would cook one she would find red welts all over and get mad at them. Did I mention he still hasn't grown up all that much?
Kind of a cool picture. While we were leaving the missionaries a note, they showed up for lunch. One of them happened to be Vance Orgill's (from Box Elder) cousin. Anyone remember him?Tuesday night we were hoping to hit the samba activity, so we went to yet another churrascaria and then headed out to find a few more members before we went.

Here's Travis and Ryan trying to break into Trav's first house. The girls were in the car. Trav came walking out with blood gushing out of his hand and a big old slice on his finger from where he pulled the door handle off. Good old breaking and entering. Serves him right.
This is Miriam and Carlos. We spent the evening at their house. Travis blessed one of their daughters. She was a sweetheart and he was a creepy old man. And also mostly drunk. Not my favorite thing ever.
Everyone wants to feed us. And the food is sick. And we had just eaten a huge meal. And we wanted to get away from that old guy. But don't worry, we sat down and ate more junk.

Day Eight (Wednesday): Wednesday we flew from Curitiba to Iguassu to see the falls. We also met up with Matt and Cheryl Stuart down there. We flew in, checked into our hotel and then headed down to the falls. I have already posted pictures from that, so I just grabbed a few more.

Here's the six of us. It was so cool.

Wednesday night we went to a show and churrascaria for dinner. It was really expensive and really good, and there were mostly naked chicks dancing around. The show sucked and we pretty much laughed the whole time, but it was fun.

Day Nine (Thursday): The Stuarts were leaving today, so we just did a few touristy things.

Here we are eating breakfast at our hotel. Both of our hotels had huge breakfast buffets.

Then we went to the Tres Fronteiras Park. This is the spot where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet. We were in Brazil, Paraguay is on the right, and Argentina is on the left.Here's my husband pretending to eat poisonous berries.
After the park we went to the grocery store to get some stuff we wanted to take home. Trav says this is why the kids nurse until they're ten. The baby food is so freaking expensive.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
After the grocery store, we took the Stuarts to the airport and then tried to go to the Argentina side of the waterfalls. First time we went we forgot our passports. Second time, we didn't realize the currency changed and we would need pesos. So we said screw it and decided we would try the next day. So we went into Paraguay instead. Not exactly the funnest place to be. We were told to not be there past about six. Supposedly electronics are really cheap there, but we didn't stick around long enough to find out.

Here we are walking across the bridge into Paraguay.
This is how I feel about being in Paraguay.
Again, not so much.

Day Ten (Friday): We finally got our act together to head into Argentina, so we spent most of the day at the falls. I think I had just about had enough of this little vacation. I mostly just wanted to sit for five seconds, so I wasn't very nice today.

This seems to be a recurring theme.
This is how I feel about possibly seeing snakes. I think my fear comes from watching my boyfriend in high school kill one with a shovel. I am terrified of snakes.The falls on the Argentina side are a little different because you come at them from the top. I thought the Brazil side was better, but that might be because I was tired and in a bad mood.The butterflies were rather friendly. And they were all over.
Here we are eating at yet another hole in the wall place in the park. In the MIDDLE of our seven thousand mile hike. Why, oh why is it necessary to have a sign to warn people not to jump over the side of a waterfall? Are people really that stupid???
I'm so bitter at this point. And Trav's happy attitude was not helping.
We got to ride out to a little island at the bottom of the falls on a boat. Trust me, it wasn't that cool. Definitely not worth the hike.Here's the four of us on the island. Don't ask about Ryan's one shoe and don't ask about Miriam's hat. They're strange people.

After we got back from Argentina, and all I wanted to do was sleep, our overachieving travel guides decided to hit the wild bird park. It was actually really cool. They had all kinds of birds native to South America and we walked right through their cages. There's one spot where they all swoop over your heads and you just walk and pray you don't get clawed. And they had some creepy anacondas in cages slithering all over each other. Sick.

Why do flamingoes sleep like this? Is it really comfortable?

After all that, we went to yet another churrascaria, bought some $1 pirated CDs, and went back to the hotel and played ping pong. I'm awesome at ping pong.

Day Eleven (Saturday): In the morning before our flight we went to the Itaipu Dam, which is the one place I've seen this country take their natural resources and actually do something right with them. Six percent of the energy from this dam supplies the entire country of Paraguay with energy and the other 94% supplies a quarter of Brazil with energy. Pretty cool.

Sweet robot.
After we got done a the dam we returned our rental car and caught our flight to Sao Paulo, sat in the airport for four hours, flew ten hours to Houston, sat in another airport for five hours, and then flew home to Salt Lake. Our kids were excited to see us, but got over it real fast. It was so nice to be home for five minutes before I started my relicensure course on Monday and was gone all week. I'm so glad life is back to normal now.

So there you have it. Holy freaking post! And it's not done yet. There are some things I don't want to forget, and I'm going to include them here. This is mostly for me, so don't feel like you have to read it.

- I love that instead of ringing a doorbell or knocking on a door, you stand at the gate and clap when you go to visit someone.
- Traffic is terrible, and the streets are absolutely impossible to navigate. We spent probably fifteen hours lost in the car, so I got to nap a lot. That's what happens when you build your city before you build your roads. Never been so grateful for the grid system.
- There are dogs everywhere. Stray dogs. It's so sad. I had a hard time with that. They were also usually injured. I had to stop looking after about day two.
- I would be walking through a grocery store where I didn't recognize anything and couldn't read anything, and all of a sudden realize I was singing along to Sarah McLachlan. All the music in the stores was American. It was a little surreal.
- Nothing is salty. Everything is sweet. It was a real trial for me.
- The church is Trav's first area was brand new because they had so many members. Awesome.
- All the churches have futbol courts and instead of church basketball, they have church futbol.
- The Vargha family decided to make their home a "mini-MTC" for their boys. What a cool idea.
- When you go to McDonald's, if it's raining, there is a man who meets you at your car with an umbrella and walks you in. At McDonald's of all places.
- Brazil's favorite American songs that were played on the radio ALL THE TIME: Rihanna's Please Don't Stop the Music and Flo Rida's Low. Kill me. Kill me now.
- I wore heels to the Iguassu waterfalls. What an idiot. So I ended up going barefoot. Good thing I'm not a germ freak. Genius.
- I don't ever want to visit Paraguay again. It took me two days to wash the stench off.
- They have things called pizza rodizios, which is where they bring around all different kinds of pizza and you can pick which one you want. It was awesome. I ate lots of pizza and meat. And would have killed for chips and salsa.
- Everyone wears skinny heels with jeans. I did not see one pair of flared jeans other than my own.
- Pizza Hut rocks there. Or maybe I just wanted some normal food!!!
- We bought a bunch of $1 CDs and cruised around in the rental car listening to them. I'm sure they were totally illegal. Oh well. Enhanced the experience.
- We never ate lunch. Restaurants (if you can even call them that) are open from 12-2 and then close again until six because no one eats during the day. So by the time we decided we were hungry and found a place to eat, it was always closed. So we were always starving by dinner.

Things I will never forget to be grateful for again:

Being born in America.
My washer and dryer.
My salt shaker.
Fountain drinks. Ice with my drink.
Mexican food. Being able to drive down the street and pick which kind of food I want, whenever I want it.
Being able to drive down the street.
My opportunity for education.
Garbage men.
A government who has a clue how to run a country. I realize many people may not feel this way about the US, but try going to Brazil and then tell me we're all that backward. We have it so nice and easy here.
Did I mention normal food?
How easy it is to live the gospel here.
How many temples we have close here. Think I need to work on that one.

I'm sureI'll think of more, but for now that's all I got. It was an amazing experience, but definitely once in a lifetime. Not exactly what you would call a vacation, but a very cool experience. And even though we'll probably be paying it off for the next one hundred years, I'm so glad Trav and I had the experience together. That's one of the only ways I could justify leaving my kids that long, was knowing that it was bringing me and their dad that much closer.

Now, I'm too tired to go back and proof read this. Hope it worked.