November 2015: Brazil Closeout

Back to playing catch-up. November was our family’s last month living in Brazil. When we flew to the states last November for Thanksgiving, Colt, Finn & I were leaving Brazil for good (Michael returned for work and was back and forth through the end of January). So, we spent our final weeks soaking up the city that had become our home over the previous 4 years. We hung out with friends, ate at all of our favorite restaurants, enjoyed our then, 2 year old and 3 month old, sold all of our furniture, tried to pack so that we could live out of suitcases for 3 months and generally lived in denial that the end of this chapter was truly at hand. Here are some random photos from our final weeks.


Colt was a little confused about how the whole nursing thing worked…


This is Colt “feeding Numnum”


Michael’s article published in Folha de São Paulo – the largest, most widely circulated paper in Brazil! Page 3, above the fold. So awesome!


Play date with Hudson girls!


Uncle Joe for a visit.


Just a few Harper boys.


Little Fincher.


Happy chubster.


Colt went through a cork phase where these were his favorite toys.


Mega blocks!


Finn testing out crib-life. (At this point Colt was still in a crib & Finn was stuck in a bassinet.)


Tummy time!


Better together.


That face!


Big brother of the year award!


Not even 3 months but looking strong!


And adorable.








Heading out with my boys!


Colt and Rosy checking out the Christmas displays at the mall.


Fincher’s 3 month pictures!


Happy little angel.


Final girls lunch with Paige & Michelle.


Steak frites!



See Colt’s identical blowout in his 3 month photo dump too!



Paige & Mailey playing with Colt while I tried to pack…


Final dinner – Espirito Santo with Hudson girls (Trent traveling).


These two… 



November 22 – Colt, Finn & I say our final goodbyes to Brazil. Excited but also heartbroken.


Praying in thankfulness for God’s kindness to us during our time in Brazil.


Airport Coltchie.


With the boys & the bags.


Stretching before a long flight.


Arizona, here we come!




There’s no way to really post about what our 4 years in Brazil meant to us or what it felt like to say goodbye, but here’s an abridged version.

When I first posted about us moving to Brazil, we really didn’t know what to expect or how long we would be there. The primary impetus for moving there was professional but at the same time it was also a big professional gamble. When Michael first asked about making the transfer, Jones Day hadn’t even opened their São Paulo office so there were a lot of unknowns. But professionally, our time there yielded so much more than he could have even hoped. He adored his coworkers, did such interesting work, and it brought us to where we are today.

Michael’s Portuguese language fluency is now perfect and I can actually get a thing or two done in Portuguese too!

And living down the street from Joe…we never could have appreciated how precious that would be, especially when we were all otherwise a continent away from family. Joe was Michael’s SECOND best friend. 😉 Every week they were running in the park, meeting up for suco or beer, and generally getting up to no good. Joe is who made phone calls to both Brazilian and American women for me when we first moved there, making sure I made friends and had something to do. When Michael would travel for work, Joe would always call to check up on me and after Colt was born, he would be sure to visit to play with Colt and make sure we were doing fine. When we went into labor with Finn, Joe got the 4am call to come stay with Colt. He was there to reassure Colt when he woke up and Mom & Dad were gone and Joe brought Colt to the hospital to meet his brother for the first time. Joe actually “moved” back to the states a couple months before we did (it’s in “” because he continued to return for work pretty regularly) and Michael and I literally sat and cried at the closing of that chapter.

And the friends. The friends! The FRIENDS!! Going into it, we never really considered friends as part of our Brazil experience and looking back, they are really what defines it. We certainly made great Brazilian friends, but our closest friends were fellow expats. The expat community was so tight knit – we truly became family to each other. We all moved there and met when we were married with no kids and now we’ve ALL had kids and most of us did it together, 3 of us did it together twice. And maybe because we all met without kids, in a city that is uber-social, maybe because even after we had kids we also had help, but we got together constantly. There was always something. Dinner out at a restaurant, wine-tasting or cook-off or costume party or game night at a friends’ place, traveling to some new beach for a long weekend… We just lived in community together. We took care of each other.

And for Michael and me, the Brazil experience was incredible. I really can’t put it into words. We cried together a little, laughed together a ton and made amazing memory after amazing memory together, including bringing two beautiful boys into this world. São Paulo is the city where I have lived the longest and it’s where Michael & I have spent the majority of our married life. What a treasure to have been able to do those 4 magical years with my best friend. Thank you, Lord.


That time I was blonde & in commercials

Back at the end of 2012, an expat friend of ours who worked in marketing got wind that there was a casting happening with a role for an American English speaker. A few of my girlfriends and I went to audition for the part and they called me back to do it! Unfortunately, I had just started my job with WINGS and I wasn’t going to be able to work it out with my work schedule so they found someone else and it never happened. Fast forward to August 2013 and they called me back to see if I would audition for another commercial. I had just had Colt in September so I was home and was able to go audition and this time it worked out!

The company shooting the commercial, Open English, offers online English classes so my role in their advertisements was to be “the English teacher” at the very end who would just give the tag line for Open English. Back in 2013 I was shooting for commercials that would play throughout Spanish speaking Latin America and Spain so I actually had to deliver the message in Spanish. However, it was funny because they really wanted me to keep the accent of an American, English speaker so as to emphasize that their teachers are native English speakers. So I had to sound super-gringa.

Furthermore, to make me even more ultra-American, they wanted me to dye my hair blonde. I really didn’t want to dye it but they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so…


Final look at the brown hair.


In the chair.




Dinner that night.

The next day I went in for the commercial shoot. Colt was just about 6 weeks old at the time so I was obviously still nursing every few hours but thankfully the shoot also coincided with the Harpers’ visit to come meet Colt! So, Sharon came with me to the shoot and babysat Colt while I was working which still allowed me to feed him when necessary. It was fun to have Sharon there for it and she did a great job keeping Colt entertained (and quiet!) while we were working.

For the commercial in 2013 they wanted me to dress “in character” with the different commercial spots so, although I was basically delivering the same message each time, I had to do different outfits and different phrasing depending on the commercials. (Commercials linked below.)


For example, here is the “Western” look.

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Clip from the commercial


Colt checking out the set.

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Clip from another commercial.

They also took some stills to use for their website.


Wearing my headset, being an “English teacher.”

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Here is an example of how they used the still-shots on their website.

It was (kind of) fun to be blonde for a couple days but after the shooting I immediately dyed my hair back to brown. However over time, the brown dye faded a bit and just all of the chemicals were so bad for my hair and eventually I just cut it shorter and tried to grow it out.

Fast forward to November 2015. I had just had Finn, had just grown out all of the chemicals and…I got a call to shoot with Open English again, and again, they wanted me to dye my hair. I tried to push back but they bought me out and at least we compromised on just highlights this time.


Back in the chair.

This time was a little bit more of a whirlwind and all happened in one day. After getting my hair done I rushed off to the shoot. We were able to leave Colt with our maid/nanny, Rosy, and Michael brought Finn with me so that I could feed him when needed since I was going to be away from the house for an indefinite amount of time. It was a rainy evening but we got it all done before the night was over. IMG_2931IMG_2937IMG_2940

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Screen shot from commercial this time!

This time, since the hair color wasn’t as drastic I opted not to do another dye job and instead to just try to grow the highlights out. Still working on that…

Anyway, just another random Brazilian adventure! 🙂

Some samples — 2013 Commercial Spots:






2015 Commercial 

Nov 2015 – Beco do Batman Photo Shoot!

In an attempt to get a Christmas card photo and take advantage of one of São Paulo’s coolest backdrops, we went to famous Beco do Batman (Batman Alley) with the Hudson family for a little photo shoot. While I think that both families walked away with some great family pictures, some of the sweetest moments were between Colt & Mailey. True best friends.


Stopping for a quick feed!DSC_0328DSC_0333DSC_0345DSC_0358

The beautiful Hudson family!!DSC_0366DSC_0402

omg these 2… breaks my heart a little that we have separated them… DSC_0411DSC_0412DSC_0416DSC_0422DSC_0424DSC_0428DSC_0431DSC_0432DSC_0433DSC_0429DSC_0434

Back at it. But the kids are clearly done.DSC_0451DSC_0454DSC_0467DSC_0485DSC_0545DSC_0553DSC_0563

The end!

October 2015 – Paraty Beach Week!

So… it’s been a while since I was in the habit of blogging regularly. Last October to be exact. That’s when we started shifting our focus towards surviving a transcontinental move with 2 kids, 2 & under. Now that things are finally settling down, I’m HOPING that I can get back in the swing of it. There are a lot of current happenings that I want to write about but I also feel the need to catch up on some of the events that I missed, so I’ll probably do a mix of both as I’m able. Hopefully more pictures, more posts, less detail.

But picking up where I left off, at the end of October (October 29 – November 2) we did a beach week with two other families – the Hudsons and the Parkers. We rented an amazing, full-service house, brought along Paige Hudson’s sister Hannah, 2 babas (nannies), and had one of the best trips EVER.

The house was right on the beach and was conveniently next door to a casual beachfront bar/restaurant. They would deliver food & drinks to our house and let us have a running tab throughout the week. The house rental included a full staff who kept the place in tip-top shape despite lots of little feet tracking sand all over the place. We decided to have the staff at the house prepare dinner for us 3 of the nights and the other night we went out into town for dinner while the babas watched the kiddos.

The weather was mostly beautiful. We got rain one day but it was still warm and the water felt great so we all just played in the rain!

Looking back through the photos is bittersweet. It’s a wonderful memory but a clear reminder to me just why my transition to life back in the states is taking some time. We were surrounded by incredible friends who have become our family. We partied together, had our kids together, had our 2nd kids together… We lived in such a gorgeous country and loved having adventures together. We had HELP! Amazing nannies & maids who we adored, who loved our kids and helped to fill the void that assistance from close family often provides. Anyway, I absolutely love these memories but when I look through the pictures of our kids playing in the sand together for hours, it tugs at my heart. But enough talk, more pictures!


Finn not exactly enjoying his first dip in the ocean. 2.5 months old!  

(Bonus if you remember seeing a VERY similar picture of Colt taking his first dip in 2013.)


Room with a view!


House fun.



Jamie Parker on bedtime story duty.



Michael & Colt out on the water with Trent & Jack.


Jack, Mailey & Colt. Besties from birth! All within 4 weeks of each other.



Mailey, Colt & Jack making a run for it!


Standup paddle-boarding with Paige!


Colt with Rosy – our “empra-baba” (maid/nanny). She was like family. We all loved her dearly and miss her tremendously!



Auntie Hans!



Michael & Finn, Michelle & Finley, Hannah & Coralie!


Paige taking Colt out on the water.


Beach beauty!


Kiddo dinner time!


These boys are just 2 weeks apart.




Finn + Rosy.


Breakfast spread.


Breakfast views.


Rosy has the kids covered.


Lounging in front of our house. House on the right, restaurant on the left. Pretty good setup.



The 1 photo I have from our night out. Great food & live music in the streets. 


Finn & Finley – 4 days apart!



This series is absolutely going in the wedding slide-show. #semiarrangedmarriage


Naked in the rain!






Dinner at the house.

The one minor hiccup of the trip was the drive home…
For reference, our drive TO the beach took us about 4 hours. However, we were driving home at the end of a holiday weekend so we knew that we would hit traffic there. We trusted Waze and unfortunately it steered us wrong this time and we ended up with an 11 HOUR DRIVE! 9:30 am – 8:30 pm. With a 2 year old and a 2 month old. It was like an overnight flight back to the states only far worse because a) it was during the day so we were all awake, b) we all needed to eat & go to the bathroom, c) you can’t go for walks or generally move much at all, d) we were crammed into our tiny little car, etc. etc. etc.  At this point I was nursing Finn 5x/day which is also difficult to do while on the road. Basically it was a total disaster. We hated having to stop for bathroom breaks so I hardly ate or drank anything all day and from this, 2 things resulted: 1) I only took 1 bathroom break the whole ride home and it was in a gross, wet bathroom with a toilet that had no seat and 2) It took me a full week for my milk supply to pick up again. After starving myself and feeding Finn all day I was so depleted. Also fun – Colt puked twice on the drive home – the second time when we were just about 10 minutes from home. The blessing is that we had a beach bucket easily accessible in the back and were able to catch/contain them both times. Anyway, it was truly a harrowing event but the boys were AMAZING. Colt literally never cried – even with the sickness – and we timed a grand total of 4 minutes of crying for Finn. Truly a miracle. Ultimately though, São Paulo & Brazil is known for horrendous traffic so we just count it all part of the experience. 😉


Snoozing with his crew.



(Unsuccessfully) Trying to walk off some car-sickness. Also, twinning. 


Finn having a little photo-shoot after a feed.


Such a champ!


Finn: Month 2 Photo-Dump

More photos from Finn’s second month!

Brotherly love.

Brotherly love.

Big boy breakfast date.

Big boy breakfast date.

That face!

That face!

Life with 2!

Life with 2!

Baking brownies with Mom! Had to really convince him to try the batter but of course he loved it.

Baking brownies with Mom! Had to really convince him to try the batter but of course he loved it. “BWOWNIES!!!”

Sweet snuggles.

Sweet snuggles.

Finn with his girlfriend Coralie Hudson. 8 weeks apart.

Finn with his girlfriend Coralie Hudson. 8 weeks apart.

Hard rocker.

Hard rocker.

Getting ready to visit Dad's office!

Getting ready to visit Dad’s office!

So much hope in those eyes.

So much hope in those eyes.

I've only done it once in front of him but clearly it made an impression... yikes.

I’ve only done it once in front of him but clearly it made an impression… yikes.

First real smiles from Finn!

First real smiles from Finn!

Melting my heart!

Melting my heart!

Heading out with my handsome date.

Heading out with my handsome date.

Sweet smiles.

Sweet smiles.

Pool date with the Hudson girls!

Pool date with the Hudson girls!

We have already planned the wedding.

We have already planned their wedding.

Theirs too. :)

Theirs too. 🙂

Love a sleeping baby.

Love a sleeping baby.

Morning playtime!

Morning playtime!

With play dough!

With play dough!

Everyone was pretty happy to have Michael home after a week of traveling!

Everyone was pretty happy to have Michael home after a week of traveling!

Passed out.

Passed out.

These two together are absolutely hysterical.

These two together are absolutely hysterical.

Finn getting some snuggles with his Godmother Paige.

Finn getting some snuggles with his Godmother Paige.

Harper BOYS!

Harper BOYS!


Bald little Finn!

Story time with my boys.

Story time with my boys.

“Hurt my knee. Need to go to doctor. Try to walk. Too hard! Need a bandaid! Need to go to doctor!”

Can't look.

Can’t look.

Michael and I meeting Graham Michael Saign! (Colt's godparents' son!)

Meeting Graham Michael Saign! (Colt’s godparents’ son!)

Angel eyes.

Angel eyes.

Family breakfast date!

Family breakfast date!

Sleepy date.

Mom & Finn.

Annual BC vs. Clemson photo. I think they knew who was going to win it...

Annual BC vs. Clemson photo. I think they knew who was going to win it…AGAIN. (Sorry Michael!)

Love this boy.

Love this boy.

And he loves his (sink) baths!

And he loves his (sink) baths!

Having two kids is already so much fun but what has made the blessing THAT much greater has been doing it alongside our best friends down here. Our first kids are all within 4 weeks of each other and our second round is all within 8 weeks. Hudsons with 2 girls (both the oldest), us with 2 boys (both the youngest) and the Parkers with 1 of each (both in the middle). What a BLESSING from the Lord!

Michelle with Finley & Jack. Me with Finn & Colt. Paige with Coralie & Mailey.

Michelle with Finley & Jack. Me with Finn & Colt. Paige with Coralie & Mailey.

And even more fun when Jana came back to visit and we got to meet sweet Callen! 

And even more fun when Jana came back to visit and we got to meet sweet Callen!

Coralie, Finn & Finley. Finn has serious game.

Coralie, Finn & Finley. Finn has serious game.

Sharon & Ollie meet Finn!

A week after my parents left and the day after Finn turned 1 month old, Sharon & Ollie visited us in Brazil to meet Finn, spend time with Colt and help Michael and me. They were only able to stay for about 10 days but true to form, we packed a lot in! It was a great mix of fun times with friends, down-time with family and then a great getaway to one of our favorite places – the Fasano hotel at the Fazenda Boa Vista.

Nana meeting Finn!

Nana meeting Finn!

"Welcome Back!" dinner at old fav, Sallvattore.

“Welcome Back!” dinner at old fav, Sallvattore.

Finn heading to church in his Sunday best.

Finn heading to church in his Sunday best.

Sunday afternoon, heading out to lunch.

Sunday afternoon, heading out to lunch.

Caipis and feijoada with friends at Museu da Casa Brasileira.

Caipis and feijoada with friends at Museu da Casa Brasileira.

Can't believe I didn't get a better picture of the table!

Can’t believe I didn’t get a better picture of the table!

3 on 1.

3 on 1.

Finn & Coralie.

Finn & Coralie.

During the week Sharon & Ollie developed a morning “tradition” with Colt. They would come over by 7:30am to be here when he woke up (so that Michael and I could get a little more sleep or Michael could go work out). They would do his whole milk, play, breakfast routine and then they would walk down the street with him to our grocery store. The grocery store is pretty nice and it has a great little cafe where they would sit and have coffee while Colt colored and snacked on pão de queijo. So sweet AND helpful to Mom and Dad! Then we would try to do something fun for lunches and dinners.

Colt wearing one of his dad's old hats that Nana & Papa brought down.

Colt wearing one of his dad’s old hats that Nana & Papa brought down.

Lunch by the pool.

Lunch by the pool.



Nana & Fincher.

Nana & Fincher.

Papa & Colt on the seesaw.

Papa & Colt on the seesaw.

Nana taking Colt for an afternoon swim. (Photo sneakily taken from our apartment - 26 floors up!)

Nana taking Colt for an afternoon swim. (Photo sneakily taken from our apartment – 26 floors up!)

The "Melting Pumpkin" was a little confusing to all the adults but was a big hit with Colt.

The “Melting Pumpkin” was a little confusing to all the adults but was a big hit with Colt.



With our favorite server.

With our favorite server.

Sharon - famous for how she handles the foie gras.

Sharon – famous for how she handles the foie gras.

After a fun week in SP we headed outside the city to the Fazenda Boa Vista for some R&R.

Hitting the pool upon arrival.

Hitting the pool upon arrival.

Finn & I love stripes.

Finn & I love stripes.

Colt & Dad.

Colt & Dad.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was actually battling a very painful arm infection through the Harpers’ entire visit but unfortunately it was the worst during our last weekend together at the Fazenda. On Saturday morning, Michael, Finn & I had to drive to the hospital for me to have a little “operation” on my arm and we were gone most of the day.

Coming out of surgery. Exhausted from nights of no sleep and lots of pain.

Coming out of surgery. Exhausted from nights of no sleep and lots of pain.

Thankfully, despite all I was going through, Colt was having the time of his life with Nana and Papa at the Fazenda!

Colt & Papa at the petting zoo.

Colt & Papa at the petting zoo.

Sizing each other up.

Sizing each other up.

"Colt hold NumNum. Nice soft NumNum."

“Colt hold NumNum. Nice soft NumNum.”

Trains with Nana.

Trains with Nana.

Petting Nanny the goat.

Sweet little goat.

More bunnies!

More bunnies!

And to top it all off, a ride around the property in the horse-drawn carriage!

And to top it all off, a ride around the property in the horse-drawn carriage!

We hated to say goodbye but it was a little easier knowing we’d be reunited soon over Thanksgiving!

Final sweet snuggle time.

Final sweet snuggle time.

Send-off caipirinhas!

Send-off caipirinhas!



We love you Nana & Papa! Thank you for a great visit and for all the ways you helped us out and loved on our boys! XO

Fincher’s 2nd Month!

On Sunday you turned 2 months my dear love, Finn!

Happy boy!

Finn Developments: Handsome boy, I absolutely love watching you grow and turn into your own little person!

Weight: Doctor’s appointment next week! You are definitely chunking up nicely but you’re not quite as roly-poly as your brother was at this stage. You have the lovely gift of showing it all in your sweet face first.
Height: Will find out soon!
Clothes: 3 months.
Diapers: Size 1.

Finn, you still have gorgeous blue eyes (hoping they stay blue!) and very little hair that’s kind of a light auburn color. Your acne has mostly cleared up (for now) but you are still a little dandruffy.

I am thankful that your personality continues to be pretty calm and laid back. Some of our friends joke that they never see you awake since you’re pretty reliable about sleeping in the stroller whenever we’re out and about.

Sometimes you can be fussier in the evening between your last two feeds. It’s easy enough to manage and to calm and soothe you IF there are two adults home, but since that’s also the time that your brother has dinner, has his bath and goes to bed, it’s a challenge to do solo. Your dad was traveling for 5 nights a couple weeks ago so 2 or 3 of our evenings were tough. One evening I tried to hold you in the carrier through it but that was kind of a mess too. However, I figure a little evening cry-sesh is a good lung workout and just gets you ready for a long night’s sleep, right? 😉

You’ve only given me a hard time in public once when we went downstairs to play one evening with your brother. At first you were hanging out in your stroller then slowly started fussing. I thought you would calm down but it just escalated more and more until you were absolutely wailing! It wouldn’t have been a big deal but of course your brother didn’t get it and wanted “one more slide! one more slide!” then he had to get on his scooter, put on his helmet, etc. before we could get out of there. It was kind of a scene and I had JUST told another mom down there that having 2 was great and “not too hard” so honestly it serves me right for having said that. 🙂

The most fun development of month 2 is that you started smiling, Finn! And boy, do you give some big ones. It melts my heart and brings so much joy to our life. Colt loves it too, “Finn happy! Finn smiling! Tiny little Finn!” {Heart explosion.}

Schedule: We are on a regular schedule with you and I am so grateful. It makes it easy for me to know what to expect and know how to plan, but it’s also easy to adjust when needed to fit into my daily plans. And I think it helped you start sleeping through the night so early which is just everything when there are multiple kids involved.

7:30 am First morning feed.
11:00 am Lunch feed.
2:30 pm Snack feed.
6:00 pm Dinner feed.
9:30 pm Last feed of the night.
11:00 pm Bedtime for Finn & Mom.

Eating: As seen above you are eating 5 times / day. You kept pushing your middle-of-the-night-feed later and later, from 3am to 4 to 5 to 6 and now to 7:30ish so we just “merged” that one with the first morning feed and you never seemed to miss it.  You normally spend 7-10 minutes per side. You’re a good eater and we’re still on 100% mama’s milk.

Sleep: What a good sleeper you are! Even easier than your brother!! As noted above, at night you’re giving us a 10 hour stretch between feeds and you’re sleeping for 8.5 of those hours. This started at about 7 weeks and was my saving grace while your dad was out of town.

Mom: I’ve kind of gone through the ringer this month. Just as I was clearing recovery from the delivery I got a random infection under my arm. I had always had a small cyst under my arm and one night it started to feel sensitive. It hurt more each day and after a couple of days it had grown pretty large and was quite painful. I went to the doctor to have it drained and it was one of the most painful 20 minutes of my life and unfortunately it just got worse from there. That appointment was on a Thursday and late Friday night I woke Michael up just crying. I was in so much pain and it was clear I was not improving. The infection had turned into a legitimate boil the size of a cherry. So gross. I couldn’t put my arm down but it hurt to lift it as well. I couldn’t sleep at night. In order to nurse Finn, other people had to hold him up to me and half the time I’d be in tears from the pain of it all. On Saturday we met my doctor at the hospital and she went ahead and put me under so that she could go in and remove as much of it as possible. When she was finished she left a straw in to maintain an opening so that it could continue to drain. Gross. After that I finally started to feel less pain but I went on a stronger antibiotic since the first one I was on did not work. This antibiotic was “OK” to nurse through but not ideal so while I did continue to nurse, we also emptied our freezer of all my frozen milk to minimize the amount of antibiotic that Finn received. And I just prayed for him through each feeding that he would not be negatively affected by it. Praise God that so far he has showed no indication of being affected. Anyway, the straw was in for about a week and then it was removed only to leave a hole in my arm. Then that started to heal strangely so I had to go back and have more stuff removed this past week. I think it is FINALLY healing properly so I thank God for that. Anyway, it was just such a strange, painful and stressful thing to go through while also trying to take care of a 2 year old and 1 month old and I am so thankful that it’s over.

OTHERwise, I am doing great and love being a mom of two sweet boys. It’s an adventure but so much joy each day.