"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Friday, December 24, 2010

Six Reasons

There are lots of reasons why I love Christmas time with my family. Here are 6 (not in any certain order of importance and no real reason for 6 other than it's my favorite number):

1) Family Christmas movie night. We watch as many as possible before Christmas. Some on the list are Elf, The Polar Express, Fred Claus, Miracle on 34th Street (1994 version), The Santa Clause, A Christmas Story and The Nativity Story.
Elf is a family favorite. If you haven't seen it then, we think, you are missing out. Here's the trailer.

2) The artsy people in our house making hand made ornaments.....

 ......as well as getting ready for Santa's visit by making him (and the family) some cookies and sweets.

3) Shopping with the kids. They are so different (some take FOREVER and are indecisive while others know what they want, go right to it and are done in an hour or two) but we always have fun and it's always fun to see what they get.

4) Tracking Santa at the NORAD website (thanks Ed Hansberry for sharing this with us a few years ago). If you have kids that love Santa then you need to check out the site. It's pretty cool. Just click here.

5)  This family tradition that I love.

I know it's a little hard to see but it's all the kids sleeping together in one room last year. This tradition started a few years ago. The kids pick one room, turn on the air conditioning and all pile in to sleep in that room on Christmas Eve.

6) The excitement of the smaller kids in our house as Santa gets near. Anderson is a happy riser. By that I mean he has never woken up in a bad mood. Never. It's amazing. He always wakes up happy and ready to go. Around Christmas time the happiness is magnified by 10. Yesterday he woke up and came into the room where Benay and I were. He smiled and said, "It's Christmas Eve Eve." Today he woke up came into the room where I was, smiled and said, "Merry Christmas Eve!!"

I love Christmas with my family.

And we are officially ready for Santa's visit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Graduation-Part 2

Last night Ansley graduated from high school.

The preparation process for a high school graduation girl is a little different than it was for the 8th grade boy the night before but Benay, Bronwyn and Leni helped her get ready. The result? One beautiful young woman.

High school graduations here are a big deal. Much bigger than when Benay and I graduated high school. A professional video and photography group are paid to document every moment. The whole night is more like a celebration show. It's so much more than "hear your name get up and get your diploma".

Last night started at 7:30 and ended at 9:15 and Ansley had a small graduating class of 30 kids.

The graduates come in as a group to a song chosen by the group. The video doesn't do the noise level justice as our seats were, literally, shaking from the vibrations.

Then it was Ansley's turn to receive her diploma. You will love hearing her name in Portuguese.

Each student gets to chose the music playing when their receive their diploma and hugs and kisses from some of their teachers. You take a picture with the person before and after you in the receive diploma line.

After graduation she got to be with some of her buddies from the school she used to go to.

We then took her out to eat.

The after graduation party started at midnight. I picked her up at 6:30 this morning. She's tired but had a great time.

It's kind of amazing to think that Ansley was in the 3rd grade when we moved to Brasil. It went by so fast.

Ansley has an attracting personality. People just naturally want to be around her and we are thankful she has been blessed by so many good friends (she LOVES her class) and good teachers. The kids in her class are good kids and Ansley has really loved her high school experience.

I don't want to brag......okay, yes I do.....but she is also one of, if not THE, smartest kids in her class.

It was a great night and we could not be more proud of our daughter. She is a real blessing to our family, to her friends and to lots of people both here and in the states.

ParabĂ©ns Ans!!!  We love you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Graduation-Part 1

Last night our son, Garrett, graduated from the 8th grade.

Brazilian schools are different from schools in the US.  There are only 11 grades, instead of 12.  Usually they have a graduation ceremony from the 8th grade before they enter their three years of high school.  (Lest you think that the schools are easier because there are only 11 grades - that's not the case.  They cram all the typical high school learning, and more, into those 11 years.  It is very difficult.)

In his school there were 4 different "turmas" or groups from the 8th grade that graduated. Last night each group walked in with their main teacher (they have lots of different teachers as they have a college type schedule). I guess you would describe her as their home room teacher.

I loved how they walked in as a group, holding hands.

One of the things we also love about Brasilian schools is the affection they show to their students. You'll see, in the video below, various teachers hugging and giving a kiss to Garrett as he received his diploma.

This was his first year at this school. It's a great school. We love it and we are so happy he's made lots of good friends.

Here are some pics and a video of our graduate's night.
 This is Garrett with his best friend Elias and his family.
Of course we had to get some family pics with the graduate.
With a family our size it's not possible to ever get a decent picture on the first try. Funny thing is it's not always the little ones that mess up getting a decent picture. Sometimes they have help.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It was a fun day for everyone......

.....and everyone is happy that Bonni is back home for Christmas.

Special thanks to this photographer (upside down camera self picture yesterday)....

.......who selflessly took pictures instead of getting the first hugs. Thanks Ans.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two quotes to make you think

"We must become the change we desire to see in the world."

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."


Sunday, December 12, 2010

One More Day


Hard to believe that you get on the plane today to head home. (Anyone else reading this we would appreciate your prayers for her safety.)

To "matar saudades" we've given you some videos today that are just for you. They are from the final game of the Libertadores.

They'll bring back memories of our game together in 2006 as well as get you ready for our game together on Tuesday and then, hopefully, the final on Saturday.

Everyone is very excited that you will be home tomorrow. Your friends have been coming by the house and talking with Ansley on Orkut to find out for sure when you will be home.

Enjoy your videos:

This is the Chivas fans doing the wave with their sombrero's.

Giuliano scoring our third goal.

Final whistle.

And our favorite "We are the champions" trying to be sung in English by everyone in the stadium. How did it sound? Garrett's reaction says it all.

And you can't end a Libertadores championship without Sobis and his flag as well as fireworks.

We are excited that you will be with us tomorrow and will be with us watching the game on Tuesday.

We are praying for safe travels.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finals Week-Part 5....the Final Day (Cows)


Congrats on making it to your final day of your first college final exam's week. How should we celebrate? Cows. That's right, cows.

We recently had the CowParade in Porto Alegre. (For you other Portuguese speakers you can click here to read more about it.)

It was actually pretty cool.

Various artists painted 81 different cows and they were placed throughout the city.

Me, mom, Carys, Anderson and Giovanni set out to see as many as possible. I think we made it to 20. We used a couple of school holidays to go to Zona Sul, Centro and as close to our house as possible. Ansley and Garrett stayed at home because they thought it would be boring. Looking at painted cows throughout the city - boring? No chance.

We had a great time.

After about a month on the streets they moved every cow to Bourbon Country where they were all on display for a few days. They then had an auction. The night before the auction mom and I were at the mall and it was amazing to see how many people were there just to look at the cows and take pictures. It was like a movie premiere. The auction raised over a million reais. It's the most money raised in the 6 CowParades that have been done throughout Brasil. Most of that money will be donated to 9 different charitable organizations in the city.

Some pics from our travels (you get 10 points for each cow if you can guess where they were placed):

Of course this one was our favorite one. He's even wearing chuteiras. He was called Cowlorada and gremio's was tricowlor.

Mom had a conversation with the lady who was in charge of the whole thing. She was at this cow waiting to do an interview.

 An Avatar cow.

 We even got Natalie in on the fun when she was here.

 We had a great time together.