Monday, March 31, 2008

Alternate Sunday afternoon plans...

Pete returned from Brazil on Saturday. Later that day, the kids went to a roller skating party with Kendall's school. On Sunday, we had planned to go hear Barack Obama speak after church, but decided that it was going to be way too hard with the kids and the weather was a little cool. Could it be that two weeks away from the kids had caused my husband to "lose confidence"? Anyway. We decided to go home and go for a hike. It was a beautiful afternoon and the kids really enjoyed it. Oh, I enjoyed it, too, but that is immaterial, usually.

This part of Pennsylvania is the Ridge and Valley province. You can see we are on top of a ridge here.


On Day 3 in Brazil we went with Pete's Post-Doctoral Student to Pao de Acucar. Franci is from Rio but lives in State College, PA right now. I had been there with her two years ago. She picked us up early and we drove straight there. It was a beautiful day. The views from this place are spectacular. The English name for it is Sugar loaf Mountain.

Picured above is a plane coming in for a landing at the Domestic airport in Rio.
After seeing Sugar loaf, we went back to the hotel and walked around a bit. We then checked out and headed to the airport for our flight to Sao Paulo.

We arrived to Sao Paulo around 5 pm. It was supposed to be an hour flight, but the weather had been bad so the traffic was backed up. Oh joy. We finally landed. Phew. Once checked into our hotel, we met the big group at the Unique hotel for dinner. The restaurant was on top of this very unique hotel. But, here is a view from the top of our hotel, The Blue Tree Towers Faria Lima:

I'm really blown away by the number of skyscrapers--as far as the eye can see.

Anyway, dinner was nice. At this point in the trip, we met a lot of Tati's friends and family. There was a retired Brazilian Olympian Swimmer there, Fernando Scherer. And a lot of Matt's mom's friends were there.

After dinner, a bunch of us went to a dance club. Pete and I didn't stay very long. It was very crowded and LOUD. This is when I realize I am not as young as I once was. I couldn't wait to get out. And everytime they opened a champagne bottle, they would light a flair and stick it in the bottle. Oh my. I couldn't help but think if there was a fire, we would all be in trouble. Kill Joy, I know. So, we went back to the hotel and fell asleep!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Brazil -- Day 2

Let me first say, that in Brazil, days tend to run into each other. Day 1 finished with us walking across the street from the restaurant where we had dinner to a Samba place. We were in Lapa--the Bohemian part of Rio de Janeiro. I can't remember the name of the restaurant (remember, I had just arrived to Brazil that morning), but the Samba place was Carioca da Gema. The place was OK. But that night the music wasn't that great. While my husband was standing in line to pay to get out, a man grabbed me and whisked me to the dance floor. He kept grabbing my head and pushing it against his chest. He was about a foot taller than me and it was very awkward. Oh well, welcome to Rio! Finally, my husband paid and we escaped. Which brings us into day 2.

On Wednesday, Matt had set up a Favela tour with Anderson Sa. People do not go through favelas on their own.

The favelas have federal gaurds placed at the openings to keep the people of the favelas in and to keep others out. I was a little uneasy standing there. And why were we touring a favela? A few years ago (maybe 4), Matt made a movie called Favela Rising. It is about Anderson Sa (AfroReggae) and what he did after a horrible incident in his favela. So, with that, Matt wanted us to see a favela and what a group is doing to try to make positive changes within the favela. Some us left after the first favela while the rest of the group continued with the tour.

I was in the group that went back to Ipanema. I had lunch with Ben (Pete's old friend from high school) and his wife, Emmy (and their 4 month old baby). After that, I pottered around the streets of Ipanema and then donned my Brazilian bikini and went to the beach. Soon after I arrived, Pete showed up. It was close to 6 pm.

OK, it's obvious that I am a gringa with that white skin. Yikes. But, what the heck, we were having fun.

After the beach, Pete and I met his old high school friends for dinner and another couple went with us. By the time we sat down, it was 10:30 pm. Hello! I am usually asleep by that time. It was fun, though. And needless to say, we didn't get back to our hotel until Day 3. Ha.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brazil--Day 1

Our trip to Brazil was fantastic! We left on Monday and arrived on Tuesday morning to Rio de Janeiro. We were checked into our hotel, the Ipanema Inn, by 9:30 am. Alas, Pete hadn't brought any of the contact info with him so we didn't know where anybody from the big group was. We arrived two days after everyone else, so I was feeling a little down about not knowing where people were. We showered and changed and Pete decided that we should walk to the beach (Ipanema) to see if anyone was there. The hotel was in a great location--about a two minute walk from the beach. The weather was perfect. Hot and sunny. A nice break from the rainy weekend that we had heard about from our friends that had already arrived. And a nice break from the long winter of central Pennsylvania.

We walked toward the beach and turned a corner to see Matt. Pete called out, "Macho!" Matt turned toward us and gave us a big grin. What luck. The group was meeting at the front of the Caesar Park Hotel at 10 am to get on some buses and head to the port. Matt had chartered a boat and was taking the group to Niteroi for the day. Pete ran back to the hotel to get our swimsuits and towels. The group was going to have lunch on the beach and hang out for a while once we arrived by boat.

About half of the group took the little boat to shore while Pete and others dived in and swam to the beach. I took the little boat. Tati is pictured below in the little boat.

Matt giving the thumbs up! The lady in green is his Aunt Beth.

This is Pete diving in. He is a fish.

Once we all got to the shore, we had some typical Brazilian food of fish stew and beans and rice. And the restaurant made caipirinhas. I had talked about wanting to get a Brazilian bikini. There was a little shop there, and I bought one.

This lady was so patient. I think in all, she sold about 8 swimsuits. (One woman from our group had been given money to buy suits for people back home).

We got back to the hotel around 7 pm and then went out for dinner and dancing. It was a late night for us, especially since we had only arrived just that morning.

This is what we saw on our way back to Rio that evening. I was feeling pretty lucky to have walked toward the beach that morning. Thanks to Pete's intuition. What a day. And that was just the first one.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm back from Brazil...

exhausted. I will write about the trip later. For now, I am going to catch up on some much needed sleep. Ciao-ciao!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tornado hits Georgia Dome...

I was checking out SEC basketball on line and came across this story. How bizarre. Arkansas plays Tennessee tonight in a semi-final game. Oh, I hope they win!!! GO HOGS!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In the news

The other day, my husband heard this story on the radio. Needless to say, he is a little down about it. I have to admit, the thought of moving with two little kids doesn't excite me. And, I actually like it here in Central PA. I like most of it. I could use some more sunny days, but you get what you get. The point is, I'm not itching to move. I'm feeling settled. I guess that was my first mistake...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time(Ecclesiastes 1:9,10 NIV)."

The news that Eliot Spitzer paid a lot of money for sex was a shock because of his squeaky clean reputation. But the fact that people still partake in the oldest profession should not be a shock. Or that someone has cheated in their marriage. Unfortunately. I do feel bad for the family and the fact that he was a repeat customer is indicative of a deeper problem. Perhaps, a dead marriage or an arrogant man that forgot the law applied to him. Either way, it's a sad situation.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pesky Squirrel

Meet our squirrel, Pesky. He decided to come by for a little sunflower seed snack. After this picture, I ran him off. Be gone, you flea infested creature!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I did it! And thanks, Ronda!

One of my birthday gifts this year was a gift card for iTunes music store from my friend Ronda. She is very techy with the computer and all. Anyway, I downloaded iTunes and off I went enjoying the world of having music at my fingertips. I'm addicted! I like Pandora, but the idea of creating my own albums (CDs nowadays) is kinda fun. I am listening to my new album right now. To let you know what kind of music taste I have, I'll list the songs here:

I can't believe how clear the sound is. It is amazing. Now, I need to buy an iPod. I just didn't get what all the hype was about before. What fun!!! :) Gotta go, I'm off downloading some more music...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Masks, white pants, and feel-good food

Today, we ran some errands as a family and ended up at TJ Maxx. Pete found some masks from Ghana that had been marked down. We usually like to buy our masks when we are traveling, but we thought these would look great with the ones we already have. The two new masks are the one on the left and the middle one. The one on the right is from Africa, too.
We picked up this mask in Chichen itza in Mexico about 3 years ago.
Pete got this mask when he was doing research in Borneo.
And these masks are from Bali.
I guess the only mask I have been involved with picking out is the one from Mexico. I wonder if we will find any in Brazil?

I said we were running errands. We need a white outfit each (casual) for the dinner the night before the wedding. Does anyone know how difficult it is to find white pants for a man? We finally found some on Hooray for them.

For lunch, we ate at Baby's. It is a 1950s diner in State College. I don't know why we haven't been there before. It was so kid friendly and just an all-around-feel-good-place. We definitely will be going back. The milk shakes were to die for. They even have little juke boxes at your booth. I must remember to bring lots of quarters next time.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Is Envy always bad?

Thursday night I went out to eat with my play group moms. Halfway through the meal, Nicole spoke up and told us that she and her family were moving to England for a year with her husband's job. I immediately lit up and started blurting out all the wonderful things about England and how much of an Anglophile I am. I have been there three times and I think it is a lovely country. I started thinking how I wish Pete could find a job over there. I've always wanted to live abroad. And to live in England would be a dream. I am so excited for her. What a wonderful opportunity for her children.

Last summer 6 of us went to New York City for the weekend. It was a blast. I think it is time to start planning our trip to England! :)

Good question

The other day my kindergartner asked me, "why is it called Spring Break if it isn't spring yet?"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Most Embarrassing Moment

So, in keeping with American Idol's theme this week before each contestant sings, I will tell you about my most embarrassing moment. Uh, other than admitting that I watch AI, that is.

It was around 1997, and I was living in Wisconsin. There was a little ski mountain near by and we had just had a humongous snow storm. I had made reservations at the ski area for the weekend, so I was really excited about the timing of the huge snowfall. So, I'm standing in line for the ski lift. It's my turn. I scooch up to my spot and everyone is talking and having a good time while they wait for their turn. When I turn around to look behind me, I notice that I need to move over a tad. While trying to move over, I stepped on my left ski with my right ski and lost my balance just as the lift came up behind me. In a spit second I was up in the air and then down on my stomach--legs and arms sprawled out. I had snow on my chin and one of the skis popped off. The silence was deafening. You could hear a pin drop. The ski lift operator came over and helped me up and asked me if I wanted to go up. "Oh, you bet I do," I thought. There was no way I was going to turn around and face that crowd.

So, what is your most embarrassing moment?

March Madness

Is anyone else getting excited now that March has rolled in? In a couple of weeks, the best tournament ever will start. I really do hope the Razorbacks make it in, but it isn't looking great for them. They were on the bubble but after a loss to Ole Miss, I bet they won't make it. The last game is at home against Auburn. Go Hogs!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Just say "NO" to corn-based ethanol

There was a story on NPR this morning regarding ethanol. I found an interesting article on line about how ethanol from corn is a bad thing. And I am still reading the Omnivore's Dilemma about corn. After all that, and living with my husband who knows a thing or two about it, I must pass this opinion on.

It just doesn't make sense to use corn to make ethanol. It will drive the cost up for farmers, which in turn, will make food more expensive for us. It costs more to make ethanol from corn than it does to make gasoline from petroleum. Think about it. Maybe sugar cane should be the answer. Why is there such a push to use corn to make ethanol?

Garage Apartment

Our garage apartment is almost finished! It is about two days away from being complete. This thing was originally going to take 6 months--oh yeah. It's just 3 years later! I'll try to post some pictures later.

Nothing else to post. It's kind of boring around the house--which, come to think of it--isn't such a bad thing. I guess I should be cleaning or something.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Got Snow?

Today, after church, I went to lunch with my friend Ronda. I had a gift card to the Olive Garden and since we both just celebrated our birthdays, I thought we could go out to lunch and celebrate our birthdays one more time. I think I am officially done celebrating the big 4-0 now.

Pete took the kids home, fed them, and then took them outside to build a fort. Here are some pictures:

It was really good snow for building a snowman.

I think right after this picture, Clayton ate the marshmallows (buttons) off of our snowman. The chocolate chips kept falling off and Cody was eating those. I couldn't believe how balmy it felt. Man, I have been living in the north too long. :) You can see the rest of the photos here.