Friday, January 30, 2009

a list of life to-do's

This list was posted on the Life of a Southern Belle blog, so I decided to take the test to see what I still need to accomplish in my life. What I've done is highlighted and I've added some miscellaneous notes.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/World
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo - only in the shower and I don't think that counts
11. Bungee jumped - this will never happen.
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child - working on trying to accomplish this one.
16. Had food poisoning - knock on wood
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort - that would require living outside of my latitude parameters, so not likely to happen
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - does the gondola ride at the Venetian in Vegas count?
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (with some outside assistance)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - any time Jimmy and I come into a little bit of money, we can never think of what to do with it for a "splurge". So I think that must mean we're truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing - I climbed Huayna Picchu (next to Macchu Picchu in Peru - that was rock climbing in my dictionary)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke - that would be unfortunate for everybody involved
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance - does a fire engine count?
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater - one of my greatest regrets in life is not having been to a a drive-in.
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class - I once took a women's self-defense course at a martial arts school, so I'm counting this!
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies - I have eaten enough of them that I should get some credit for this one.
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving - never going to happen.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades - I've driven across the Everglades and that's enough for me to cross this one off my list!
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - I have never even been on a motorcycle, speeding or otherwise.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a new car
83. Walked in Jerusulem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury - we've always been overseas when I've got jury duty notice.
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

There is still much to be done!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Decadence on a Thursday morning...

This morning I was frantically working on the corn maze financial books (because I have put off doing this for months) and I made a lot of good progress... to the point where I can almost file the tax returns, so I'm talking GOOD progress. I was feeling so good about myself that I decided to check the movie listings to see if anything was playing that I could watch and get back from before Mac's bus came from school.

So I trotted myself right off to an 11:20am (did you know they show movies at 11:20AM?) showing of Australia. I really wanted to see this because I love anything Australia-related after my exchange student year there a long time ago. And I didn't think Jimmy would be interested because a) there are people riding horses in it; b) it's been called an "epic love story" and he doesn't do "epic love stories" (think Titanic - not his favorite); and c) it involves a lot of drama of lost love and death and orphaned children.

Of course I was running late because I couldn't figure out how to get on the Marginal going the other direction (I now know), but it was great because nobody is in the ticket line or the popcorn (aka lunch) line for an 11:20am movie. So I settled into my seat just as the first words introducing the film came across and didn't move for approximately the next 160 minutes, which is unthinkable and decadent and wonderful. I could laugh and cry and nobody within a 10-seat radius was bothered, namely because there was nobody within a 10-seat radius. And best of all - I was so thoroughly captivated that my mind didn't wander for even a second to income tax filings.

Now let me see what's playing tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

out of the mouths of babes

I was just laying down with Mac for a few minutes before he goes to sleep. I love this part of the night. He's quiet and he likes to whisper and his mind just must be somersaulting because he says some really extraordinary things. Tonight's conversation went like this:

Mac: "Mom, do people have meat in them?"

Me: "What?"

Mac: "Is there meat inside of people?"

Me: "Well, yes, sort of. It's flesh, but I guess that counts as meat."

Mac: "So if predators eat meat, then they can eat us."

You are hereby forewarned: watch out for predators!

Isn't this blog GORGEOUS????

I just can't stop looking at it. I love the colors, I love the design, I love the flowers, I love the bubbles. I love the whole thing. So if you want something beautiful for your blog, check out the Knuckleheaders link to the right. Megan is a genius.

Miscellaneous Items

1. Today marks one week and one day since I've drunk any soft drink. Big whoop, you might say. But let me tell you this has been hard, hard, hard. I love Coca-Cola, but I have forsaken all soft drinks for the moment. Even when I was pregnant with Mac, I allowed myself one can of Coke each day. But since the start and well past the death of the South Beach Diet, I have had nothing to drink but water, tomato juice, a little coffee and green tea. That is not to say that I won't be having a Coke in the near future, but we're talking about right now.

2. I have been to the gym twice this week, which is two times more than in the last four months, I believe.

3. I have a new look coming for the blog. This really talented lady named Megan (who designs one of my favorite blogs - cjane (click on it to the right) has great designs for really affordable prices. As I was beyond tired of the blogger templates and was having a hard time getting the cutest blog on the block or whatever it's called to work, I hired her! The problem now is that she's dealing with a moron and I can't quite figure out how to upload my new snazzy banner. But when it's uploaded and the new skinny (I know SO much blog lingo) is in place and I get the new colors right, prepare to be amazed!! This could take awhile, knowing my skills, so you have plenty of amazement preparation time. And you'll be able to click on Megan's website on the right as well if you want to investigate her services. Her company is called Knuckleheaders. How cool is that?

Friday, January 23, 2009

South Beach Diet, Day 4 (or really T-1 since I'm a cheater)

This will likely be my last South Beach Diet update as the game really seems to be over for me. Today I had Starbucks, part of the blueberry muffin Mac ordered but didn't eat (I'm not going to waste a blueberry muffin at those prices!), popcorn (but airpopped and no butter or salt, so practically a health food since popcorn is from corn, a vegetable, after all), and M&Ms. And tonight we're going to a barbecue where if I stick to the diet, all I can eat is salad (that'll have to be undressed) and meat because a Brazilian barbecue is going to have nothing else on the South Beach Diet.

Yesterday we had lunch at Outback where I ate a steak (meat is allowed), steamed vegetables (BO-ring) and a salad with Italian vinaigrette. I stole a couple fries off of Mac's plate, and I did eat the croutons on the salad, which Jimmy did not. He's so good at this. Neither of us touched that yummy warm bread they bring which is a good thing since Mac ate nearly the whole loaf.

And last night for supper, we followed the book to the T, even down to the "surprise" mashed potatoes. There was no surprise when you looked at the recipe: it was steamed and pureed cauliflower. We had to cheat a little because they don't sell fat-free half-and-half here, so we used real cream, but just a teeny little bit and no butter or margarine. And I will be the first to admit that it wasn't half-bad although it does sound disgusting.

Net Weight Loss: .8 pounds but there will probably be a weight gain tomorrow after the splurges today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

South Beach Diet, Day 3 (or what feels like Day 333)

I cheated yesterday. I should have left the house because I was tempted by everything I saw. I kept opening the snack cabinet and wanted to eat everything in it. Jimmy was at work, Mac was at a playdate, so there was no adult supervision. I resisted. I looked at the back of the Lifesaver package to check on carb count. Four Lifesavers is 11 carbs and I decided it wasn't worth it.

I should have eaten the 4 Lifesavers because I worked myself into such a feeding frenzy that I attacked a can of chocolate-covered peanuts like a maniac. They have been in this apartment since my mom arrived on December 19 and nobody's touched them because they were all melted together. Well yesterday I took a dinner knife and stabbed them until they came apart so I could eat half a can in one sitting.

And then because Jimmy would soon be home and would smell the chocolate on my breath when he kissed me hello, I brushed my teeth twice to cover up. How sad is that?

But I did confess and ate the required dinner last night with Jimmy (sans the ricotta creme "dessert").

So my weight GAIN since yesterday is .8 pounds, which is still a .2 pound net loss.

Jimmy, however, is melting pounds away because he's actually sticking to the diet. He's lost 8 pounds in 2 days! That seems unnaturally high and unhealthy to me, but he's on a roll.

So I'm going to stick to the diet in his presence in my continued show of solidarity but everything is fair game in his absence.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

South Beach Diet, Day 2

I know I'm prone to exaggeration, but I am not kidding when I tell you that I nearly fainted this morning when I got out of the bed and staggered to the scale to check my weight loss after one day. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I was so weak from hunger that I did get a little woozy. So I ate 2 hardboiled eggs this morning instead of just the one I had yesterday, and I managed to drink down my 6 oz of tomato juice. Jimmy loved the juice, but I could hardly stomach it. I was drinking it out of this plastic cup with little bubbles around it and I had to keep telling myself "just one more row of bubbles" until I was done.

By 10am, I called Jimmy and told him I didn't think I was going to be able to make it on this diet. He suggested that we just eat the dinners together and he'd stick to it on his own during the day. But I'm not a quitter, right? It's only been 1.5 days, for Pete's sake. But I'm thinking with just a few carbs during the day, I'd be in a much better frame of mind. Okay, I know I'm justifying but this is really, really hard. My friend who does Weight Watchers said that popcorn hardly counts on WW, so maybe I could just have a little in the afternoon and I'll even airpop it.

Alright, I'll try to get through the rest of the day without cheating.

Weight Loss: 1 pound

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

South Beach Diet, Day 1

Over the Christmas holidays, when Jimmy and I were eating anything that wasn't nailed down which included a lot of gifted and delicious chocolates and things of that evil nature, we gained a little weight. Jimmy borrowed the South Beach Diet book from a coworker and was thinking about doing the diet to drop the weight quickly. I jumped on the bandwagon (the cover says you can lose 8-13 pounds of belly fat in 2 weeks!) and said we'd both do it and we'd do it whole-hog. That meant no cheating, no substitutions, etc for the 2 weeks we agreed to stay on the diet.

So today is Day 1 and I am a carbohydrate junkie who has not had her fix today. This means I am very tired and very cranky. Yesterday I would've bet you a million dollars I wouldn't be tempted by anything I couldn't have today, but can I tell you that if I weren't so upstanding and honest, I would've cheated so big-time today on Jimmy with everything in our snack cabinet. Jimmy would've never known.

This diet is ruthless and doesn't allow for anything I love like Coca-Cola and peanut M&Ms. How can you survive without those things? You can only drink water and decaffeinated tea and coffee. One of the snacks today was a celery stalk with a piece of low-fat cheese stuck in it. Celery is only meant to be eaten with spicy chicken wings and blue cheese dressing. For dessert, we had vanilla ricotta creme. They add the "creme" part to make you think "creme brulee" but this is nothing but ricotta cheese mixed with vanilla flavoring with some fake sugar and it's as awful as it sounds. I thought ricotta cheese was only used in lasagna?!?! As hungry as I was, I had to give part of mine to Jimmy because I could not stomach another bite.

This diet is unnatural and I'm not sure I can last 2 weeks on it. We're now going to reevaluate after 1 week and see if we're happy with our progress. Maybe the scale will make me happy tomorrow. I'm going to bed now before the distant grumblings of my stomach become so loud that they keep me awake.

a weekend at the beach

Since Jimmy had Monday off for Martin Luther King Day and Mac returns to school next Monday, we decided to go to the beach for the weekend. The only glitch in this plan was that the entire Brazilian population is at the beach (vacation is ongoing since Christmas) and we could not find a reservation anywhere. Then Jimmy got an email from a coworker who had a reservation at a really nice pousada (Brazilian bed and breakfast-type place) but who couldn't go because a friend was unexpectedly coming into town.

We jumped on it because we really wanted to go to the beach and we were hopeful that the extra money we were paying (it was double what we normally pay at our usual beach place) was going to result in a fantastic place that exceeded our wildest imagination.

The pousada enjoys a million-dollar view over Toque Toque Grande Beach that is simply incredible. Exhibit A:

Unfortunately the pousada is located on a beach that is reminiscent of Lions Beach of my childhood. If you're not from Moncks Corner, this reference will mean nothing to you, so allow me to explain. There are some really nice folks on the beach, but you've got one choice of a food vendor and they don't even have really great food. The sand is really coarse and there are little no-see-ums out there that tear your feet and legs up. Exhibit B:

But aside from bug bites and no food, the main problem at this beach for us was that the waves weren't good for Mac. The beach was steep and the waves broke right on the sand, which resulted in Mac getting dumped repeatedly. Learning the power of the ocean was a great lesson (that came with a lot of sand in his hair).

On Sunday, we decided to spend the day at Maresias, a beach about 15 minutes from our pousada. Maresias has a reputation as a beach for young people with lots of nightclubs and noise and general commotion. But it also has food and good waves, so we braved the flesh-baring adolescents and had a fabulous day. Mac made friends with a 10 year-old Brazilian child named Patrick. Patrick proved to be a great playmate for Mac and when we were leaving, Patrick asked if Mac had Orkut (Brazilian Facebook) so they could keep in touch. Um, no. He's 6. He barely knows how to turn the computer on. Exhibit C of a nice day in Maresias:

On Monday, we went to our favorite beach on the Sao Paulo coast: Juquehy. The weather was so spectacular with blue skies, hot sun, and cool, clear water. We couldn't help but have a perfect day. Mac took his first surfing lesson and he seems to be a natural. With a low center of gravity, he maintained great balance and just totally rocked. He said he was an A+ student. Exhibit D and E:

It has been a secret dream of mine for 20 years to take surfing lessons. Jimmy is the only person who's been privy to this dream and he's encouraged me without fail to realize the dream. The problem for me is that a good book on the beach trumps physical activity like surfing any day. Well Mac had his lesson and it went so well that Jimmy asked the school if they had availability for later in the day for me. Shocker- they could take me right then. So I had no time to beg off, make excuses, throw up, etc. Before I knew it, I had the anti-rash shirt on that really screams "I am a student in no control of a very long surfboard that could kill you, me, your young innocent children playing in the shallow water and/or all of us".

So I went out with my instructor and realized that I was older than all of the ages combined of the other students. I also shrieked more than all of them combined. And I did make the embarrassing mistake of getting on the surfboard backwards one time. But that was an honest mistake because the instructor was rushing me to get on before I was ready and I didn't pay attention because we were getting ready to be pummeled by a wave. The good news is that with that flashy shirt on, everybody got out of my way and I didn't kill or injure anybody. AND I RODE WAVES IN. I know, it's shocking. I actually laid down on the board, jumped up when the instructor yelled at me to get up and rode waves in to the shore. So I am pleased to tell you that surfer chicks totally rock, but they can't move the next morning because they engage muscles that they never use. Exhibits F and G:

Brazilian proof of that universal truth: Two Wrongs Do NOT Make a Right (especially in a bikini)!


(But do notice the very safe and protective use of hats to block against the sun!)

why the Tooth Fairy is going to go broke...

Mac lost his 5th tooth on Saturday morning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

time to go back to school

Mac is watching a Tom and Jerry video right now and one of the cartoons shows a bunch of different famous locations. I am in the process of trying to save all the data on my hard drive which crashed last night so was only halfway listening to him name the locations as they showed them. I was starting to think he was the most geographically gifted 6 year-old in the world as he rattled off Mt. Everest, the Great Wall, the Eiffel Tower, Death Valley, etc. as they showed each location on Tom and Jerry's adventure. The thoughts of geographic giftedness ended when I heard him call the Leaning Tower of Pisa the Leaning Tower of Pizza and Spaghetti!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

and the hits keep coming...

After nearly a month of not hearing anything from the American agency we were hoping to adopt through, I decided to be a pest and contact them today. Turns out they sent us a note on December 31 but we haven't received it yet. Beyond the pleasantries, the letter says they regret to inform us that at this time they are not able to work with families living outside the United States.

Will we ever win for losing?

I am so disappointed and frustrated and I am now attempting to eat an entire can of Brazilian Pringle substitutes and drink 2 liters of Coca Cola. I hope I don't get any bad news next week after we start the South Beach Diet - there is no room for comfort food on that plan.

Will this school vacation ever end?

As you know, Mac attends an American school here in Sao Paulo. Although the Brazilian school system runs from February to December (to correlate to their southern hemispheric summer), Mac's school follows an American calendar, running from August to June.

Except for this interminable Christmas holiday. School ended for the Christmas holidays on December 12 and doesn't start back until January 26. In case you're counting, which we are and have been since December 15, that's 30 - yes 30 - weekdays (although in all fairness, three of those were holidays for Jimmy and so shouldn't count). We don't count weekends because the reinforcement, aka Jimmy, is home.

So we're down to 6 work days nows until school starts back (but one of those is the MLK holiday on Monday so it doesn't really count since Jimmy will be with us). There's a lot that has to happen in 6 days.

1. We're off to get a haircut today as Mac has not had one since the end of October and he's looking pretty furry. Jimmy offered to cut it (remember the beard trimming/clipping set?) and pay Mac what the professional haircut would cost because Jimmy wanted to test his skills, but Mac (remembering the beard trimming/clipping episode) said no.

2. Buy new school pants as Mac has grown and high-waters are still not in style.

3. Get back on the school schedule. For the first time in his life, Mac has been sleeping in! It used to be that no matter how late he went to bed, he was still up by 7am. This Christmas break has provided us with a wonderful and unexpected gift - when he stays up later than his normal bedtime, he sleeps in later than his normal wake-up time. Last night he went to bed about 9pm and slept until 8:45 this morning. It's such a marvelous thing and we didn't even have to wait until he's a teenager!!

We're off to work on that haircut now!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Buenos Aires: Good to the Last Drop!

Photos from Buenos Aires

Colorful Caminito

Painstaking repair of the tile work in the Cathedral...
...but so worth the effort

Fancy real estate in the Recoleta Cemetery

Gifts from Alan

Gigi practicing her tango moves...

...alongside the professionals.

Compare the professionals picture above with next picture of the Bridge of the Woman which is supposed to be a rendering of a couple doing the tango. I think the designers got it just right.

Three generations enjoying Recoleta Cemetery

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Buenos Aires, part 2

(Written on Thursday, January 8)

I am pleased to report that Alan came through and our transportation to the tango show showed up last night at the appointed time! We had a wonderful show at Esquina Carlos Gardel. It wasn't nearly as Las Vegas-flashy as the one we went to a few years ago but that was completely okay!

Today we went to the Buenos Aires Zoo which has beautiful grounds and some cool animals. Then to Palermo for an Argentine beef fix at La Dorita restaurant and then back to Santa Fe Avenue to window shop. The heat has been more bearable, but it must still be in the 90s.

Mac had ice cream at Volta today. Volta is another ice cream joint that was recommended to us, and even though we're die-hard Freddo's devotees, Volta was there when we needed it. So Mac had his usual chocolate and pronounced it tasted just like McDonald's ice cream. How could that be??? This is Argentine ice cream, for crying out loud. That must have been the initial first-bite response because later he said it was the best ice cream in the world and he wouldn't let me have even a little taste. So I have to take his word for it that Volta has trumped Freddo's.

We're now at the apartment, resting and packing, before we head out to dinner at a recommended neighborhood place.

We're all officially beat. It's hot here and we've walked a ton. I love that you can walk for days here without stopping a la New York, but it's amazing how tiring it is when you're out of practice. Tomorrow's an early start for our return home. I'll post photos as soon as I can!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

our jaunt to Buenos Aires, part 1

(Written on Wednesday, January 7)

Mom, Mac and I are in Buenos Aires for a few days. We had a quick flight down on Monday, January 5, got checked into the apartment we rented which is lovely and comfortable and located in my favorite neighborhood of Recoleta, and then we went to eat at a great Italian restaurant called Sotto Voce where we ate in June on the recommendation of friends who live here.

On Tuesday morning we were to meet our tour guide Melanie at 10:30 right outside the apartment. I went totally off the reservation to organize this tour and didn't use anybody's recommendation for a guide. Instead I found this company called Buenos Tours on the internet that got great reviews and so I decided to use them.

A nice-sounding British guy named Alan runs it and one of his reasons for founding the company is to allow people to take tours by expats who speak the same language and who might be able to offer cultural references that a local wouldn't necessarily get. It's a great concept.

I bought Alan's sales pitch hook, line and sinker. I even paid up front for the tour. I was that convinced we were doing the right thing by choosing Alan.

So imagine my surprise when Melanie, our assigned tour guide from northern California, never showed up at the appointed time or place! We waited patiently, but all the while I was thinking that Alan had already bought himself some nice furniture for his London flat using my credit card information. And still Melanie didn't show up. So after giving her a reasonable 10 minutes (it was only a 3-hour tour after all!), I called the cell phone number that Alan gave me, only to get voice mail. Do you know that feeling that sinks in when you're sure you've been hoodwinked? Yeah, okay I was past that feeling about that time.

I waited a few more minutes and tried the number again and Alan answered in his adorable British accent. Turns out one of Melanie's tours for the day was cancelled and Alan got a tiny bit confused and thought it was ours. So he told Melanie not to come to us. Well Alan was beside himself with upset over this mistake. He apologized profusely, offered to refund the deposit amount and agreed to send Melanie that afternoon.

So we used the morning to tour the Recoleta Cemetery (where Evita "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" Peron is buried among other notable Argentines) and Alvear
Avenue (the Rodeo Drive of BA), and to have lunch at Cafe Las Violetas before meeting Melanie at 2pm back at the apartment.

Melanie did a fantastic job in the 98 degree heat with a child who thought a 3-hour historical tour was about 2 hours and 55 minutes too long. We learned so much and it was made even nicer by her being a really interesting person to be around. After graduating from college in the US, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco where she met her boyfriend. After they finished with Peace Corps, they moved to Indonesia for a year to teach English before coming to Buenos Aires where her mother is from to work here and improve their Spanish.

After the tour ended, we went over to Puerto Madero to walk around and to see the famous Starck-designed Faena Hotel+Universe that is totally extravagant and spectacular. At this point all any of us really wanted to do was crash the pool at the Faena because it was so extraordinarily hot but that seemed tacky and a bit low-rent so we didn't. I haven't sweated like that in many a day in Sao Paulo. So we ate an early dinner at this cool and delicious restaurant called iFresh Market (the "i" is not a typo - there's an "i" or an "I" in front of Fresh Market - what does that mean?? I am so not in the know) and then came back to the apartment where we promptly received a phone call from the famous Alan who was still apologizing and asked if he might bring over a goodwill gesture to us within the hour. How do you say no to a charming Brit who wants to bring presents?

So Alan came and we were the lucky recipients of some flowers that he said were to remind us of the blue and yellow of the Argentine flag, a box of delicious Havanna Alfajores (these divine chocolate cookies with dulce de leche in the middle) and a bottle of his favorite Argentine Malbec wine. How nice was that??? And he still offered to refund our deposit. But how could I let that happen after we got all these nice gifts AND a fantastic tour?

So before I go further, if you come to Buenos Aires, I highly recommend using Alan's tour service. He's also booked our tango show for tonight and he assures me we'll be picked up on time!! Go to for full information on Alan's company. And I definitely recommend Melanie specifically as the tour guide if you can't get Alan himself.

Today we got up and went to El Caminito in the La Boca neighborhood of BA. It's a seedy neighborhood but it's totally packed with tourists by day so you don't feel the grit so much. We enjoyed some fun shopping and watching dancers perform the tango while we ate a light lunch.

After lunch we headed over to the huge pedestrian street, Calle Florida, for some shopping, people watching and Freddo's ice cream. Freddo's is Argentina's gift to the ice cream-loving world. I am a big fan of the dulce de leche ice cream there which is almost like eating frozen caramel. It's so decadent and probably makes your teeth fall out after extended use, but oh my, is it good. We are trying to enjoy it as often as possible (within reason) during out stay here.

Now we're resting a bit before grabbing supper. The tango show starts at 10:30 tonight which means a late night for those of us who normally are asleep by 9:30! More details to come as the trip progresses!

I'm having trouble downloading photos here, so those will be forthcoming!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth...

Okay, so we're a week late, but how cute is this kid?

We've been working on a loose tooth for about a month and finally, last night while eating bread at Outback, it came out! Mac's now sporting quite the gap with two front teeth missing!

Friday, January 2, 2009

"dumbling" in the football world

Jimmy dvr'ed the Outback Bowl yesterday and watched it last night after our company left. Mac kept running in and out of the room, watching a little football and playing some and reporting to me on what the Gamecocks were doing and how Daddy's mood was changing as the game evolved.

At one point Mac came into the kitchen to report that the Gamecocks had "dumbled". I asked him what that meant, knowing that he meant "fumbled" given the Gamecocks' propensity to do such things. While giving me a full commentary as to what was happening, he tucked his football under his arm, ran through the kitchen, fell down at the end of the kitchen after being imaginary-tackled and let the ball slip from his hands, thereby "dumbling" the ball.

I think "dumble" is a brilliant word and much more accurate than "fumble." But clearly we need to get that boy back to South Carolina so he learns more about American football.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

lesson learned the hard way...

While preparing for our New Year's Day lunch, I made the congealed jello salad that is ubiquitous at every self-respecting Southern holiday meal. I even made the fancy one that my friend Caroline gave me the recipe for. So this morning I got the salad out of the fridge to put the yummy cream cheese topping on and it was not congealed. How could this be? It's jello, for crying out loud.

So then my mom asked if I'd put real pineapples in it. The recipe calls for crushed pineapples but you can't get those in a can here and we are in Brazil, after all, where fresh pineapples are cheap and abundant and delicious. So why not use fresh if you can get it? I actually was quite proud of myself for making my own "crushed" pineapple.

Well let me tell you why you don't use fresh: the jello doesn't set with fresh pineapple. Who knew that except my mom and my friend Trisha who came to the lunch and who is the only person raised outside of the South that I know of who's a true congealed salad lover? Well now I know and you may rest assured I'll never put fresh anything in a congealed salad ever again.

I hope your new year is off to a marvelous start.