Sunday, November 13, 2011

I am the Face

On September 11, 2011 Bryan and I found out that we were pregnant! It was a flood of emotions, but we were very excited and started reading up on being pregnant (b/c we didn't even know where to begin).

We were so excited to tell our parents and other family and friends! The first weekend in October we went up to share the exciting news with  Bryan's family and then called both my mom and dad over the phone. We had gotten a cookie cake that said "Baby Bow Arriving May 2012". Bryan's family thought that I had gotten a cookie cake for his b-day (but Bryan actually knew about the cake). When they opened it up, it took a minute, but then it clicked! Everyone was thrilled! We took a picture of the cake and emailed it to my parents, called them on the phone, and told them to check their email. Both my mom and dad were just as excited and VERY surprised! We had been to the doctor once, but he wanted to wait on do a sonogram, but did confirm we were pregnant.

The Tuesday after we shared the news that a little one was on the way I went in for a sonogram only to hear the worst news ever. There were no heartbeats. When the sonographer didn't show me anything, I knew something was wrong. I was having a really hard time so the nurse went to get the doc who confirmed the bad news. He then also told me that it wasn't just one but two. We were going to have twins.....I  was heartbroken and as you can imagine so was Bryan and the rest of the family.

The doc wanted me to wait a week before we did anything so that they were 100% sure (a very hard week). The following week he confirmed at which point we had to set up a procedure for Friday.

I share the story not so that people feel sorry for us, it was a life experience, but to let others know that it is common (something I was not aware of). It's hard to understand what it feels like until you go through it and for a period of time you feel like your world has come crashing down. But the more I opened up and shared with people what we had gone through, the more others came out and shared their story.

My friend, Brittany Taunton sent me a website called "I am the Face" which is a campaign to raise awareness about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. Going through this experience opened my eyes to how many couples go through this. 1 out of 4 women experience miscarriage. 100% of miscarriages could not have been prevented and majority are due to chromosomal abnormalities. My biggest concern after my procedure was, "Will I be able to have kids in the future?" This website answers some of those questions and brings together people across the world who have gone through similar experiences. While I'm not going to post all about "I am the Face" on Facebook, I thought I would share about it on my blog for those who know someone or have faced something similar.

Bryan and I have grown so much over the last month and are excited to have God bless us with another little miracle in the future!

Cancun 2011

It's been a little while since I've blogged! A lot has happened! In August Bryan and I took an AWESOME trip to Cancun! I had never been and Bryan insisted I needed to go and see the best water ever! "Nothing compares!" He was right. It was great and best of all EXTREMELY relaxing! We decided that for this trip, we were going to do nothing except get up and go down to either the pool or ocean all day. We stuck to the plan and did just that! Vacation too often seems exhausting, but not this time. In August, the turtles come up on the beach and lay their eggs at night. We sat on our balcony and watch two HUGE mama turtles come up. It was so neat! We also met some great couples and definitely want to go back sooner than later!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What I know makes me happy

I knew that going to Brazil was going to change me as a person, but what I didn't realize is how much. It's hard to describe in words (especially because this chic is NOT a writer) the experience I had and how I view things back at home. The best way I know how to do this is to share what I thought made me happy before going and now that I am back, what I know makes me happy.
Things that I thought made me happy:
nice clothes
fancy Restaurants
granite counter tops/nice, big house
big screen tv
nice car
(You get the picture)  Before leaving I thought THINGS made me happy, as most of do!
What I NOW know makes me happy:
My husband
Family and Friends
Warm shower
Popcorn and Coke Sundays with Bryan
My health (and access to medicine)
A good book
Being back home, I know that THINGS are not actually what make me happy. Things are a temporary high that dies off after a week or two. Think about it, you go buy an ipod. Two-three weeks later you are used to it and it no longer fills that void.
But being able to: talk to my husband regularly and share my day, have my dogs every day be so excited to see me when I get home, play mexican train, pictionary, and cranium with family during holidays, have good friends that stop what they are doing and show up and laugh with you when your car breaks down in the rain, sit around and laugh about memories until my stomach hurts with our friends "the Morrows", all these things are what really fills my cup!
Being in Brazil, it broke my heart to see that the kids I worked with didn't have books in their classroom, toys to play with or a fan to keep them cool. I felt frustrated while I was there because with the language barrier and the lack of resources at my disposal, I felt as though I wasn't contributing anything. Yet in the end the true resource while I was there was ME. I was giving these kids the attention and patience. I was drinking imaginary tea and eating imaginary food. We took turns pointing to almost every item in the room and saying what color they were. We sang head, shoulders, knees and toes in Portuguese every day. These are the things that made the kids happy and helped them learn; that's what filled their cup.
What fills your cup?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Yesterday afternoon we went deeper into the favelas. Favelas are the slums of Salvador. Bruno, our 'tour guide', works with CCS and is there is answer any questions we have.

Questions I asked yesterday about the favelas and the answers I got (Remember this is from one reference):

  • What percentage of the population live in the favelas?
    • 60%
  • What percentage of the population is middle class? Upper class? 
    • 35%; 5%
  • Does the government give support to those in the favelas? 
    • Each home get 214 Reias per month per child. The children must go to school in order to receive the support
  • What do people who live in the favelas do for income? 
    • Men typically work in construction of somesort or have a store front, women do housework and childcare
  • Does Salvador have any plans for the the money it is going to make from the World Cup in 2014? 
    • The poor areas wont see it. 
  • How does Salvador choose their leaders?
    •  Everyone is required to vote, but the politicians are extremely corrupt;
  • Why don't they work a little more on some of roads? (Typically improved infrastructure contributes to a better economy?) They do, they have been working on one motorway for 12 years...

    • Favelas
      Above is a picture of the favelas that we went through. Up close the streets are some of the most poverty stricken streets you've ever seen. I wasn't able to take pictures because it just wasn't safe enough.  When we drive out of Graca (where we are staying which is considered a middle class area) all you see if favelas for miles. You will see these homes stacked with multiple layers. When someone in the family gets married and has their own family, they build on top of the house. There is no building codes, so they aren't very safe. 

      We stopped to see a local artist. Prencie! He does art on tiles, a lot of the stuff is so pretty! Of course I bought a tile. It has a quote on it. You will be able to find it hanging at our house.

      We stopped at the most famous ice cream shop in Salvador! There are ice cream shops everywhere so, that it is a big title to have! I was thinking how much Bryan would love this ice cream stop! =-) 

      One of our last stops was at the Bonfim (Good End) church. This was built in the 1700s by a Portugese travler who hit bad weather when he was coming over to Brazil. He was carrying a large statue of Jesus and began praying and told God if he gave him a 'Good End' to his travels and allow him to live, he would build a house of worship in Brazil.  He survived and built this beautiful church. Religions come together at this church. 

      Inside the church

      In one portion of the church there is a room filled with pictures of people and body parts (wax) hanging from the ceiling. These came from people who prayed for a 'Good End'. Most of them were suffering from some sort of illness and God answered their prayers. These symbolize their 'Thanks.' It is very interesting to see.

      When we visited the church it answered one of the first questions I had when I came here. What the heck are these ribbons for? Here in Salvador you will see ribbons everywhere that say 'Bonfim.' People tie them on their wrist with three knots; for each knot they get a wish. The ribbon must fall off your wrist on its own. If it doesn't then you will have bad luck. 

      There is so much history everywhere we go! I'm learning a lot! 

      Tomorrow is my last day at placement, this week has flown by. It's been an eye opening experience!

      Tchau for now!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Remember the simple pleasures....

I brought a bag of  Dove dark chocolates from home. One of my favorite sweets! I opened one last night and the pharse inside said `Remember the simple pleasures in life.` How fitting!

I can't believe I only have two full days left here in Brazil before I head back! Its been a good time and after this past weekend it is going especially quick! Today at Santa Thersea I brought the kids a picture of a Rockin Lobster from a Finding Nemo coloring book! Yesterday the teachers were all giving me a hard time about my sundburn and our Capoera teacher called me a lobster yesterday. Plus the less detailed pictures I bring the better. They only get one color to use so a Rockin Lobster was the perfect one (They only needed red)!  We had a full class today of 19! If the entire class was present there would be 22 kids. I have NO IDEA how Mari handles it all!!

 I was able to bring my camera today; the kids went CRAZY and were acting like total hams in front of it! They all wanted their picture taken and then more importantly wanted to see their picture on the camera. Victor, a future futbol star, was the biggest ham of them all! He would follow me around and CHEESE as big as he could! Its amazing how no matter where we come from, how much money we have and where we go at the end of the day it inevitable that we are all happier when we get to do something new, different and exciting. That is what seeing a camera is like for these kids.

Many of these kids don't even have a small TV in their home with 1-2 channels, let a long see a digital camera!
Victor Hugo!
NATALIA aka Nache. Such a doll. 
She is shy and always seems to sit off in a corner by herself. I always try to make her laugh and get her involved. I got her to laugh for this picture!
This is the main door at the school

Maria Luiz showing us her Rockin Lobster

Me with some of the kids. From left to right Victor Hugo, Joanna, Nache, Enzo, Maria, Alicia

That is Cecilia. She is holding on to the door of the classroom.  
Clearly most of the glass is broken out. I spend a lot of time just trying to keep the escape artist in the room! There is no air conditioning or fan. To the right of the door there is one window. In order to get some cool air and stop sweating we have to get out of the room!
Victor, Nache and Andre

These three  have stole my heart! SWEETHEARTS! Andre, on the right, is always smiling and laughing. 

Feeding Alicia
There are a couple kids who don't eat fast enough or wont eat at all. I typically feed Alicia while Mari feeds Victor on the end (in the yellow). He is lactose intolerant so he has to get special food. Today they actually got a little bit of some sort of fish with their rice and beans. And of course their farota on top!

Lunch room
Nap time
After lunch day the little ones take a nap. It is honestly pure chaos for a good 10 mins until they calm down. They have mats with sheets on top. This is only half of them in there. Once they have all laid down, the mats are  completely full.

They always say pictures speak louder than words....So as you look at these pictures, `Remember the simple pleasures in life.`

Tchau for now,

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Day at Santa Teresa De Lisieux

Most of you know that there are 7 other Lilly employees here with me. Scott Monk lives in Indiana at corporate. He is a research scientist and we have been placed at the same education center to volunteer. He did such an awesome job of describing our placement, so I asked him if I could post it on my blog. Writing is definitly not my talent, but I wanted you all to get a more vivid picture of what I have been doing and where I have been the last two weeks. Scott and I are in rooms right next to each other. He has three year olds, I have two year olds.

"My placement for 2 weeks here in  Salvador is assisting at Santa Teresa De Lisieux, which is a child care  and education facility in one of the favelas (shanty towns).  They  provide child care and education for some of the poorest families in the  area.  My placement is assisting in a class with 3 year olds.  As in  any class in the US, 18 three-year olds with only 1 teacher is  overwhelming.  However, layered on top of that is the fact that most of  the children are living in severe poverty and do not receive sufficient  nutrition or attention at home.  It is now late fall in Salvador, which  is the rainy season.  (It is still quite hot and humid.)  When it rains,  it creates many problems in the favelas - the streets become difficult  to navigate, the steep sidewalks become slippery enough to be very  dangerous, and in many areas sewage may wash down the street.  Therefore, the teachers never know how many kids will actually make it  to the center on days that it rains.  Many remain at home, with or  without supervision.
Our assignments are for 3-4 hours every morning.  My job is to help the teacher in any way I can to keep order in the room while at the same time trying to incorporate some educational time.  No one at the center speaks English, which makes the whole endevor much more challanging, to say the least. 

I have managed to muddle my way through a few games in which I didn't understand a word that was said, but the kids seem quite entertained just to have another adult in the room that will give them any attention.  The kids call the volunteers tia or tio, for aunt or uncle.  The minute I tell one child the picture they are coloring is "bom" or"lindo", the cries of "Tio! Tio! Tio!!!!" fill the room with all the pictures waving in the air.  "Lindo?!!! Lindo?!!!". In our interactions with the kids, it is clear they many are starved for attention, and only get it when they are at the center.
In addition to playing and some type of education time (practicing letters,usually), the kids also get a shower and meal; for some of them, the center is the only place they will receive either that day.  All the kids get rice, and the rest of the lunch is doled out sparingly.  Black beans everyday, but some days some of the kids end up with not much more than the juice because there is not enough to go around.  There is also some type of meat everyday, but it gets distributed like small pieces of gold by one of the teachers.  It does not appear that every child gets meat, but I'm not sure if this is determined based on what the teachers think the child may get to eat at home or if they try to spread it out so that each child gets some meat a couple of times a week.  They also receive fortified milk as a "snack" during the day.  The problems with nutrition and hygiene that these kids face is very evident, as several of them already have very severe tooth decay, and they are only 3 years old.  
I'm not sure I will ever be able to sufficiently describe how amazing this experience has been from day one.  It is very intense, exhausting, terrifying, and HOT.  It is extremely frustrating at times trying to manage my way through everyday but knowing little Portuguese.  But it is also absolutely incredible and I am having the time of my life."

Scott and I have very different teachers. His is very calm and if he asks for something she says the words slowly in Portuguese. I feel as though my teacher (I also have one and 18 two year olds) seems to get somewhat overwhelmed, yet she still tries her best and shows them love as much as possible. Each day I try to bring in something a little different for the kids to do. The one constant is that I bring a different picture to color. Today was a turtle! I also brought in stickers; once the kids went through the rainbow and where able to identify the colors, they got a sticker! (Of course no-one walked away empty handed!) They loved it! Each day I walk in and they are so excited that I returned, they shout "Tia Tia!" I think  seeing someone come back and remember who they are makes them feel so loved. At the end of the day that's all that anybody really wants.

Tchau for now!


P.S. I asked Mari (my teacher) if I could bring my camera tomorrow. So hopefully I will be able to post some pics of kiddos soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Morro (pronounced Moho)

Well over the weekend we get to do what we want. So myself and a group of 4 other girls went to Morro (pronounced Moho). It was an adventure to say the least!

We left right after we got done at placement (where we volunteer) on Friday. We bought a ticket for 75 Reias which is about $50. It is supposed to be a direct 2 1/2 hour boat ride over there. When we sat down, someone who spoke a little English told us that the boat wasn~t going to Morro like they said it was. I started freaking out a little bit as the boat started backing up. He was talking to the guy that sold us the ticket to try to help us understand what was happening. After about 10 mins of back and forth we finally understood that the water was too rough to take the boat over. So we had to take a 40 min ride to one island, get in a van for 2 hours and then take another boat ride for about 30 mins to finally make it Morro.
This is the are the bus dropped us off at....I wouldn~t have kept going if we didn~t have a guy who spoke English and Portugese with us....

 The second boat we took is behind me
A pretty picture I took from the second boat
Once we finally got there, it was worth it. The boat docked and there were guys waiting with wheelbarrows that said TAXI on the side to carry our luggage. I didnt use one bc I just brought a back pack for the weekend. When I saw this though, it was weird. There are no cars on the island.
Taxi on Morro
We saw a lot of donkeys pulling things around
A picture of the beach

 The weather was really nice and sunny around 80 degrees. I applied sunscreen all over twice and somehow still got burnt to a now Im miserable.

Overall, it was nice to get away for the weekend. Back to placement tomorrow and then Friday I start my treck home. I will be ready to get back and see Bryan and the doggies!

Tchau for now,