Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Normal

A year ago today our family of 5 packed 15 bags. After saying ‘good’ byes that were much more hard than good, we got on a plane. And moved our life to Brazil. 365 days ago, but we still remember it like it was yesterday. We have felt alot of things this last year. But one thing we have never felt is alone. We have such dear people still journeying with us…despite the miles. I cannot even find words to express how much that means to us.
But this post isn’t about that.
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It’s about those little things that are for sure making their imprint on our thinking and our ways. And yet, sometimes when we stop to think about it, it all sounds a little crazy. Some students working on our house were talking about our boys. One of them lived awhile in the US and said “those kids look American, but that’s not how kids are in America.” Somehow things that used to be “so foreign” have become our “new normal.” I guess we are just aware that we certainly may be becoming “that” family 🙂

*After homeschool, our kids spend their days mining for rocks, searching for bugs, building Viking homes in our front yard from large crates, inventing traps for various critters [such as a teiú], and playing soccer, obviously.
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[the boys’ VIking house]
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[I forget what they were up to here. But, they were very determined to do it themselves.]
*I shake out my apron for spiders before putting it on.
*It still seems ironic to check my slippers for scorpions before slipping my feet into them.
*There are lizards living in every room of our house, which is really great because they eat the bugs. So we leave them.
*I even left a nasty large spider on our kitchen window for awhile because we were allies in the war against flies.
*Our boys have been known to catch a certain type of ants. My husband has been known to fry them up and serve them to guests. We have found that some people have lived here their whole life and never eaten ants. Can you even believe it? 🙂
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*My hairdryer is used to “fire up the grill”…which is a metal rack set on concrete blocks over charcoal.
*As a result…when I blowdry my hair, it smells like churrasco [brasilian barbecue].
*It’s very natural to hear “Mom, there’s a cow in our front yard.” It’s all fun and games until we realize it has eaten our landscaping.
*Oh, those beautiful rose bushes I was so excited to plant…only to find every rose. petal. leaf. stripped bare and hauled away by cutter ants. Overnight.
*I really do like how much more in tune we are with nature here.
*When the sun’s up, you’re up. Along with all the roosters crowing.
*When it’s hot outside, it’s hot inside. When it’s cold outside, it’s cold inside.
*We have a small wood-burner for when it gets too cold, like 50’s…which is freezing!
*We heat our house from the wood the boys gather in the cow pasture beside our house.
*Now and then, we take our kids out for coffee. We sit at a separate table and pretend like we’re on a date. While they make up games, like tic-tac-toe with stir sticks and straw wrappers.
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*Dr. appointments mean kids wait in the waiting room. The receptionists are totally happy to keep an eye on them. And I tell our kids to scream really loud if they feel in danger. And hope we’ll hear.
*It is completely normal for stores to give you candy if they don’t have exact change. I could hardly believe it the first time my husband returned from the store with a handful of candy. When I asked what it was, he said “change.” Now it just makes me smile 🙂
*Jack still wears his baseball cap to town now and then to hide his blonde hair.
*Because we are the only natural blondes in town.
*We’re called german a lot. The other day I was asked if I was german or the daughter of a german. When I said I’m american, he goes “American?! Why did you come here? We’re all trying to go there!”
*It seems more natural to sing Mighty to Save in portuguese now.
*Jude called his friend on his birthday, started singing to him, and after he sang “Happy birthday to you” he says “Ugh, I don’t remember how it goes,” then proceeds to sing the song in portuguese.2014-09-20 16.45.49

*Our kids switch all the time from English to Portuguese. They walk in the door after playing from friends and just keep speaking in Portuguese. The great thing is they don’t even notice.
*Showers end with needing to mop the bathroom floor. Because gone are the days when water flows toward the drain.
*Drinking coconut water means André gets the machete and opens up a green coconut for me.
*Oh yeah, and my husband went from Andy to André, because Andy is a foreign name here, so it’s just easier.
*People assume he’s Brazilian because of his Portuguese. But then they’re confused why he’s with us foreigners, until he tells them he married an American.
*He also mows our entire lawn with a weedwacker. Not a lawnmower in sight. He’s pretty much the man.
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*Our big meal is at lunch. That’s just what they do here, and we actually like it much better! For one, our kids aren’t hungry and snacking all afternoon because they only had a sandwich for lunch. Also, we eat dinner much later than we used to (anywhere from 7.30-8.30), so it’s easy to just have the kids make their own sandwich for dinner. If we’re being really fancy, we use the cheapest plastic plates you can imagine so I don’t have to do dishes.
*Because I now have 2 dishwashers…called my own hands.
*Boys eat with a fork and knife now and drink cafezinho after their meals. It’s pretty cute.
*We have no scheduling conflicts…I mean, what’s a schedule? There are no daytimers. But if someone drops by, invite them in and make coffee.
*Greetings and goodbyes are very important. When someone arrives, it is natural for them to go around the room and shake everyone’s hand. And when someone leaves, you walk them outside.
*After my first haircut at a salon here, André patted the guy’s belly and I kissed the attendant on the cheek. Because that’s what they did to us.
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*We go everywhere with our kids. No more of this “dropping them off at school.” This is still an adjustment. But, one that I believe one day we will miss.
*Kids bring me avocados they picked from the tree…and bananas and lemons and oranges and mangoes and guavas and starfruit….
*Fresh coffee means it was grown, picked, roasted, and brewed within 5 miles.
*FitBit means if our pants still fit, we’re fine.
*GPS is generally helpful, as in it points us in the general direction and sometimes looks like our car is off-roading.
*The only Krispy Kreme doughnut we eat are the ones we make…or Papa John’s pizza [aka Momma John’s].
*When I asked for the whole chicken, I really didn’t mean the whole chicken. But it was delicious!
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*Who knew I’d love the vegetable market so much. I still get so excited at all the fresh produce we get for under $20!
*Plus, the fact that one stand has these signs on their produce “
de 2.99 por 3.00,” which means “from 2.99 for 3.00,” which means it went up a penny ON SALE! The first time we saw this, we were laughing and said “That’s not a sale!” They just smiled and said “We know.” But it’s still there. This week, they even had “Black Friday” written above their “sales-which-are-not-sales.” They were yelling “Sexta Negra Promoção!” But still. Nothing was on sale! It’s a comedy show, truly.
*Home church means kids choose songs, husband leads worship, and Matt Chandler preaches (via internet).
*For André, work means study Bible, teach Bible, grade papers, play soccer, meet with students and staff, drink cafezinho, repeat.
*Also, we live on campus. Which means, students call (or stop by) anytime. In true college-student nature, 10 pm is the perfect time to ask questions about the next day’s homework.
*The volume by which anything is done here is something else. From playing Bingo to Dutch Blitz to White Elephant to soccer…Brazilians know how to make anything loud…and hilarious!
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*”We have worms” isn’t just what you say to go fishing, but also when you’re at the pharmacy getting a medication.
*We see more toucans flying on a trip to the zoo than we see at the zoo.
*The best place to buy pão de queijo dough is from a barber in town. He also sells hats and 3 jackets.
*Most stores don’t have air conditioning. So while I’m grocery shopping among Christmas trees and decorations, I’m also sweating and thinking what type of popsicle to get when we’re done.
*On one side of Santa is his sleigh. On the other side, his air conditioner.
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*The only ones we’ve seen sporting dreads are the gypsies who live down the road. I’m gonna guess it’s not for fashion.
*A “dryer” means we drape the still-damp clothes around the room and turn on the ceiling fan. Until…
*My dear husband bought me a dryer!! [After surviving 8 months without one:)] When he went to the hardware store in town and asked for a part for the dryer, they looked at him like he was crazy. “Wait,” the guy says, “you’re saying there’s a machine that dries clothes?!” All the guys in the hardware store had never heard of a dryer.
*Driving in Brazil has done wonders for my prayer life. “Jesus, take the wheel.” And that’s all I have to say about that. 🙂
*I made my first pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. The ladies asked me if I could find the type of pumpkin we use in the States, I said “not really, pumpkin there comes in a can.”
*Our Thanksgiving dinner this year was a picnic, featuring turkey (sandwiches) and potato (chips). And we couldn’t have been more thankful.

The list goes on…
But we’ve probably shared too much already. Maybe I should’ve stopped before the “eating ants” 🙂

When we arrived a year ago, I walked in the door of the guest house and burst into tears. The “new” was overwhelming. Well, much of that seems “normal” now. We still miss our family and friends as much as the day we left. Homesickness doesn’t get easier–only deeper. How we long for sweet reunions!
And yet. If we only focus on what we miss, we miss out on all there is here to love! Anyone ever planted succulents? My mother-in-law gave me some petals that had been torn from her succulent plants. She told me just to scatter them on the soil and they would grow. (Sorry Becky, but) I doubted they would ever turn into anything. Oh, me of little faith. Each of those petals has become a beautiful bloom, which continues to grow and multiply and spread and I just can’t look at them without marveling at how God uses the simple to remind us of the profound.
Just scatter them on the soil and they will grow. And multiply. And spread. And bloom!
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Bloom where you’re planted, baby. That is what we want…
Even if it all sounds a little crazy.