Kevin Gets a Big Boy Bed!

Before we left on our five week vacation to the United States, Kev had begun to occasionally escape from his crib at home. We knew he was ready for a big boy bed, but since we also knew he’d be sleeping in a crib or pack n play during our trip, we held out and decided we’d switch out his crib at home once we got back from our trip. While in the States, Kev did a great job sleeping at my mom and dad’s house in his own dark, quiet room. He had a much harder time when we stayed at Brian’s parents’ house in Hilton Head, sharing a room with his brothers. After his constant escapes, we moved the pack n play to our room and rigged it so he couldn’t get out. Once he knew he couldn’t get out, he went back to taking long afternoon naps and going right to bed at night.

Once we were back in Paraguay, we kept Kev in a sleep sack backwards and inside out so he couldn’t remove it which kept him from being able to get out of his crib. So we waited a couple of weeks to switch him out of his crib.

We decided to give Danny’s bed (with side rails) to Kev, but first we had to give Danny an Embassy twin bed. He was excited for his new bed, though Patrick was mad that’s Danny’s new bed was now taller than Patrick’s bed.

That night was Kev’s last night in the crib and in the morning his brothers got in too. Each one of those boys had slept in that crib for about two years each.

Patrick looked at the spot when he, as a teething baby, had chewed on the crib. Danny and Kevin did not do that.

The boys helped Brian take down the crib.

We got the new bed all ready for Kev.

Kev got a new red duvet and new rocket ship themed sheets. Patrick admired the sheets and asked if he could have the new sheets and Kev could have Patrick and Danny’s old sheets. I said no.

We had a great afternoon playing at the Yacht Club pool and riding bikes, and Kev skipped his nap.

When it was finally bedtime, Kev was exhausted and very sad to get in his new bed all alone and he cried for Danny.

Danny came over and, while flossing his teeth, snuggled with Kev for a few minutes. Kev calmed right down.

Before Danny left the room, he asked me to cut a hole in the wall so he and Kev would be able to see each other if they woke up during the night. Even though I didn’t do that, Kev fell right asleep and stayed asleep for about 12 hours.

So far Kev is loving his big boy bed and is back to sleeping like a champ!

Giant Lily Pads

Every four years, in the town of Limpio, about 45 minutes from Asunción, giant lily pads grow in the river.

Some lily pads grow as large as six feet across. The locals call the lily pads “yacaré yrupé” in the indigenous language of Guarani, meaning crocodile beds in English. Last weekend, while Brian was out of town, Maria and the boys and I drove to Limpio and hired a local to take us out on his boat.

While the boats certainly weren’t new, they looked pretty sturdy, had covers to give us shade, and they even had life jackets for all of us.

The boys had fun on the boat, pretending to steer.

The lily pads were at their peak about a month ago, when we were in the US, but it was still worth a visit to check them out.

Although some of the lily pads were starting to deteriorate and we didn’t see any larger than four feet across, they were beautiful to see.

After paddling around the lily pads for a while, our guide took us to visit a castle built on a rock in the middle of the river.

We climbed to the top and the boys loved it.

The boys were especially interested in what was likely the bathroom with a sink on one wall and a hole in the ground. The boys peered through the hole to the river below.

We had a fun outing! (And don’t worry – Danny and Patrick got haircuts later that day. Their hair was getting out of control!)

Welcome, Mónica!

We have a new member of our household, a four month old kitten named Mónica.

Before Brian and the kids and I left Paraguay for five weeks in the United States, we decided to get rid of our five chickens. Since we were going to be gone for so long and since the chickens were getting older and not laying eggs as regularly, we decided to give Maria the chickens. Maria wanted to pay us, and when we insisted it wasn’t necessary, she decided to pay us with a cat kitten.

Brian and I are not exactly cat people (he’s allergic) and we certainly prefer dogs to cats, but we decided to try out the cat for a little while and see how it goes. We’ve told the boys the cat is not allowed in the house and must stay in the backyard.

So far, the boys love the cat and can’t get enough of playing with her.

Patrick has told us that he in the cat’s dad.

Danny has told us that he is the cat’s grandfather.

Kevin just calls the cat “meechee” which is the indigenous word for cat. Kev loves picking up the cat. We think he really likes not being the smallest anymore.

Kevin also enjoys doing little boy things with the cat, which unfortunately for the cat are not typical cat activities, things like riding a bike and riding on a truck.

The cat has been with us for about a week and at least three of those nights I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to a loud catfight. We assume it’s neighborhood cats (perhaps trying to steal our cats food?) since our kitten doesn’t really make loud sounds. But our cat has been so scared that she climbs up on the 10 foot fence surrounding our property (presumably by jumping from a tree), and then can’t get down. In the morning we have to go rescue her with a ladder. We started putting away the cat’s food at night, thinking that might keep larger cats away, but so far the cats continue to fight. If the nightly catfights continue, Mónica will be looking for a new home very soon.

Danny’s Fifth Birthday Interview

In honor of his fifth birthday, I asked Daniel a few questions about life.  Here are his answers.  Any explanations or translations are in parentheses.

What is your favorite cereal? Milk with cereal. Crunchy cereal. I don’t know it’s name. Oh I know – it’s Rice Crispy.

What is your favorite veggie?  Carrots

What is your favorite drink? When Maria and me drink orange juice together. That’s fun. She makes the juice with real oranges.

What is your favorite toy? a light saber (we don’t have one of these)

What is your favorite movie? Ninjas that have tornadoes. There are many types of ninjas. Like fire tornadoes or white tornadoes or lightning tornadoes. Four ninjas have tornadoes. The fifth ninja doesn’t have a tornado. (I have no idea what he’s talking about)

What is your favorite game? Tocaditas. (Tag) We play it at school. When I’m it, I try to tag Fran and Octavio.

What is your favorite book?  My favorite book is xfight. It’s where people fight. Can you buy me a transformers book?

What is your favorite dinner? Lo de Osvaldo (This is where we went for Danny’s birthday dinner celebration)

What is your favorite lunch? Chicken nuggets.

What is your favorite breakfast? Cereal. Also maybe water with pancakes.

What is your favorite holiday?Christmas

What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

What is your favorite stuffed animal?It’s this llama from Bolivia.

What is your favorite color?Turquoise. Not really though. My real favorites are, red, blue, and white. Because those colors are on the soccer stadium.

What is your favorite thing to do at school?  Play in the pool and play soccer.

What is your favorite sport? Hockey

What do you want for your birthday? A transformer that lights up and has a gun

Where do you want to go on vacation next year?To a place with a movie theater. Or maybe to China, and if they have museums there, we could visit the museums. When we get there, we’ll have to ask if China has museums.

What makes you happy?  Movies

What makes you sad? When Patrick hits me

How old is Mommy? I don’t know, 18?

How old is Daddy?  He’s older, like 100

How old is Patrick? He’s six. No – wait! He’s seven.

How old are you?  I’m five now.

How old is Kev?  He’s one.

What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do? She likes cooking stuff.

What is Daddy’s favorite thing to do?  Go to the Yacht Club I think.

What is Daddy’s job? Work at the Embassy, with a computer.

What is Mommy’s job? Go to work and do the same thing as Daddy.

What is Patrick’s favorite food? Tacos

What is your favorite food?  Sandia (watermelon)

What is Daddy’s favorite food? Salad

What is Mommy’s favorite food? Salad

What is Kevin’s favorite food? Pasta

What does our family like to do together?  Play in the pool

What do you like to do with Mommy?  Snuggle

What do you like to do with Daddy? Go down the slide at the Yacht Club

What do you like to do with Patrick? Watch movies with him, especially movies about transformers

What do you like to do with Kevin? Play where he runs away and I go after him and catch him. Kev laughs so much. When I trap him I give him little tickles and Kev likes that too.

Who are you going to marry?  Well, I don’t know yet. Maybe one of Patrick’s teachers, he talks about them a lot and likes them so much.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Fireman

What else do you want to talk about? How Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over the lamp and made a ginormous fire. And I want to go ice skating in Chicago.

To see Daniel’s answers from last year, click here!

Blancanieves y Los Siete Enanitos

For the end of year show at Danny and Kevin’s preschool, the students performed a darling play featuring “Blancanieves y Los Siete Enanitos” (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in English).

The teachers started to plan this theatrical masterpiece about three months before the show.  Kevin was assigned the role of “squirrel” and Danny was given the part of Prince Charming. The kids spent a lot of time practicing.  Danny practiced with such passion, that he fell over while dancing one day at school and got a bloody nose.


About two months before the show, we started to work on costumes for the boys. Danny was a very regal prince and took his role seriously.

Kevin was not very interested in his squirrel costume so Danny tried to inspire Kev to enjoy the role of squirrel.

Once he realized that gloves were part of the costume, Kev was very excited. He didn’t really like the tail at first but once we put it on him so he couldn’t remove it, he didn’t mind it so much. And he kept the hat on too!

From the library at his school, Patrick checked out the Spanish book “Blancanieves y Los Siete Enanitos” and all three boys listened happily as we read them the book over and over. Every time Prince Charming appeared in the story, Danny excitedly pointed to him and said, “Look! That’s me!” Danny also pointed out the squirrel and said, “There’s Kevin!”

Finally the big day had arrived! The preschool teachers combined the event with an end of school year art show.

Danny and Kevin had many creative projects on display.

Before the show, Kevin had a minor meltdown and refused to wear his hat and gloves. He couldn’t take off his tail and cried while crouched face down on the floor. Danny posed proudly on the stage.

Patrick threw up everywhere near the door to the school. He said he felt better though and wanted to watch the show, so he stayed, but didn’t look so good.

The preschool director told everyone to take their seats.

The show began with animals in the forest singing and dancing with Snow White. Kevin was not happy when he came on the stage. He was crying, somehow had a piece of bread in his hand, and ran off the stage.

He recovered enough to rejoin Snow White and the dancing forest creatures.

Jealous of Snow White’s beauty, the wicked queen ordered a hunter to kill Snow White, her stepdaughter. The hunter instead left Snow White in the forest where she met the seven dwarfs, including one very sad blue dwarf. She helped take care of the dwarfs and sang them a sweet lullaby at bedtime.

After learning Snow White wasn’t dead, the wicked queen disguised herself as an old lady and gave Snow White a poison apple which made her sleep after she ate a bite. The dwarves were all very sad, until Prince Charming arrived.

Danny kneeled next to Snow White and kissed her forehead. Snow White woke up and everyone celebrated by dancing.

Danny relished his role and was so happy dancing! Kev did a good job dancing too.

All of the little actors received party favors of (non-poisoned) apples.

Here are the Prince and Snow White, the happy couple.

It was a great show!

Happy Seventh Birthday, Patrick!

Patrick was very excited leading up to his birthday! He could hardly wait to be seven! On the big day, Brian and I visited Patrick’s class at snack time.

We brought cupcakes, popcorn, and juice for the class. Patrick liked when the kids sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

At Patrick’s request, we went dinner at TGI Friday’s with our nanny Maria and her family.

Back at home, Danny was excited to help carry the cake to Patrick who had asked for a Batman cake.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to Patrick, gave him a couple gifts, and spoke to a few relatives via FaceTime who had mailed gifts to Patrick.

Patrick received a books, games, and toys and couldn’t have been happier. It was a great day of celebration! Danny, on the other hand, was despondent by the end of the day and couldn’t stop crying. He kept saying, “Patrick got way more presents than me!” Danny was not consoled by the fact that his own birthday was three weeks away and he’d get more gifts then!

An Interview with Patrick on His Seventh Birthday

In honor of his seventh birthday, I asked Patrick a few questions about life.  Here are his answers.  Any explanations or translations are in parentheses.

What is your favorite cereal? Bird Cheerios (He means Fruit Loops which has a bird on the box)

What is your favorite veggie?  What are veggies? Carrots are veggies. Peas are my favorite.

What is your favorite drink? Apple juice

What is your favorite toy? Star Wars toys

What is your favorite movie? Ninja Turtles

What is your favorite game? Sorry

What is your favorite book?  Books by Geronimo Stilton

What is your favorite dinner? Chicken fingers

What is your favorite lunch? Milanesa

What is your favorite breakfast? Eggs. No – bacon! From America!

What is your favorite holiday? Easter. Because you get candy. Though Halloween is the same, but no eggs.

What is your favorite animal? Jaguars

What is your favorite stuffed animal? There’s two I really like. A teddy bear that says Patrick Thomas, and my blue elephant.

What is your favorite color? Turquoise

What is your favorite thing to do at school?  Play on the swings

What is your favorite sport? Golf

What do you want for your birthday? A hover board.

Where do you want to go on vacation this year? To Egypt. To see pyramids.

What makes you happy?  Christmas

What makes you sad?  When someone dies.

How old is Mommy? 39

How old is Daddy?  41

How old is Danny? 4

How old are you?  7!

How old is Kev?  1

What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do? Hug me. You like that, right?

What is Daddy’s favorite thing to do?  Go to TGI Fridays with me and sit at the bar. That’s the thing he most loves.

What is Daddy’s job? Work with the police

What is Mommy’s job? Work with police

What is Danny’s favorite food? Macaroni and cheese

What is your favorite food?  Oreos

What is Daddy’s favorite food? Tacos. No, it’s hamburgers. Because he tries to eat hamburgers all the time. But not all places have hamburgers.

What is Mommy’s favorite food? Is it bacon?

What is Kevin’s favorite food? Pouches of baby food.

What does our family like to do together?  Well it’s not “go to TGI Friday’s” because you don’t really like that place. I think we all like to go swimming.

What do you like to do with Mommy?  Snuggle

What do you like to do with Daddy? Go to TGI Friday’s

What do you like to do with Danny? Go swimming with him

What do you like to do with Kevin?  Chase him and he laughs. And I like to try to snuggle with him but sometimes he is noisy and doesn’t hold still.

Who are you going to marry?  I don’t know. But maybe Miss Peroni. (One of his first grade teachers)

What do you want to be when you grow up?I don’t know. A basketball player. And a golfer. And I want to be a police.

What else do you want to talk about? Um more things that I like? I like books. And you didn’t ask me my favorite country. It is California because I was born there. And really I can’t even sleep tonight because my birthday is tomorrow and I am so excited!

To see Patrick’s answers from last year, click here!

Daddy’s Birthday

Brian’s 41st birthday was on a Sunday this year. We went to church and then out to lunch to celebrate. At the restaurant Brian had a few double thumb wars with Danny and Patrick which they all seemed to enjoy.

When Kev saw Danny and Patrick making paper airplanes from the kids’ menus, he tried to do the same.

We had a nice lunch, though it was not so nice to find the forgotten leftovers in my car two days later at the end of a hot day!Later in the afternoon while Kevin and Brian napped, Patrick and Danny helped me decorate the birthday cake.

For dinner, Brian and the boys grilled brats and hot dogs. Danny and Patrick had werewolf and mummy cups, respectively, and pretended to be those creatures. Kev sucked the ketchup off his food and ate very little of his meal.

Everyone loved the three layer cake, which the boys dyed blue after Brian told them it was his favorite color.

Unfortunately, Brian’s gifts didn’t arrive on time, so we gave him pictures of the gifts. Danny and Patrick also drew pictures for Brian. After I took pictures of the boys and their drawings with Brian, Kev wanted a picture with Brian too, holding a picture of wood chips to go with a new electric smoker.

Happy birthday, Brian! We love you!

About two weeks after Brian’s birthday, the electric smoker I got for him finally arrived. We inaugurated it on a Sunday, with a nice pork tenderloin served with twice baked potatoes. Success!

Halloween 2017

Patrick and Danny were very excited for Halloween this year.  I ordered two big bags of candy online in early September, but due to a mixup in the diplomatic mail, the candy was somehow detoured to Abuja, Nigeria though thankfully still arrived on time.  Patrick marked the date on our kitchen calendar, spelling it “Halu in”.

I was excited to wear Halloween jewelry Brian’s mom had bought me last year when Brian was in Chicago for the holiday. Danny loved the bat ring, Patrick liked the witch earrings and the bloody eyeball bracelet, and I liked the charm bracelet with candy corn, spiders, and beads. I got a lot of use out of the jewelry this year!

Lately the boys have been a little obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and decided that was the costume they wanted.  Danny wanted to be Michelangelo and Patrick wanted to be Leonardo.  We decided Kevin would make a good Master Splinter, the martial arts instructor to the turtles.

Master Splinter was not very interested in wearing the rat nose or ears, but he did like the cozy robe.  He really liked the walking stick but we had to take it away when Splinter started hitting the windows with it.

Patrick tried to convince Kevin the rat ears and nose were fun, but Kevin was not persuaded.

Kevin did like wearing ninja turtles masks and stole them every chance he got.

Here’s Michelangelo (AKA Danny) with a sewer cover shield and a stuffed Donatello.

Here’s Leonardo (AKA Patrick) with his sword.

The boys loved their costumes, and their stuffed animals of Donatello and Rafael completed the group.

We had a few friends over the Saturday before Halloween for a costume party to carve “pumpkins” which were really any large produce we could find.

While it is generally not recommended to let a one-year-old play with knives, Kevin loves to do anything his big brothers do, so we let him have a small knife and two large peppers.  He had fun hacking them to pieces.

Patrick and Danny, with superior knife skills, carved large squash.

Here are the final products from the kids at the party.

Brian made a great Mike Ditka and I recycled his old Hamburglar costume.

On Halloween, the Embassy hosted a party for all the families, letting the kids trick-or-treat from office to office.  Master Splinter was not interested in being photographed with other kids whose parents work in Brian’s office.

I dressed up as April O’Neil, the news reporter who covered the ninja turtles. Brian and his coworkers all wore super hero T-shirts.

Here’s Master Splinter giving the young ninja turtles a quick martial arts lesson.

There were about 80 Embassy kids ready to trick or treat.

We visited a few fun and scary offices on the Embassy compound.

Danny was a little bit scared in this graveyard-themed office.

Kevin had fun playing with this sucker, though he never did figure out how to take off the wrapper.

Patrick’s school had planned to host a Halloween carnival the Friday before Halloween, but due to torrential downpours, rescheduled the event to the Thursday after Halloween.  The event began with a parade of the elementary school kids wearing their costumes and walking across the stage.  Some of my favorite costumes included a werewolf, a girl riding a dinosaur, a bucket of popcorn, the Statue of Liberty, and a skeleton with long bony fingers.

Patrick was excited to be first in line for his class, holding hands with his teacher who was dressed as a tourist.

After the parade, Patrick and Danny had fun playing a few carnival games and winning some fun prizes.

We had lots of fun Halloween celebrations!

Raton Pérez is back!

After waiting and waiting to lose his first tooth, Patrick was so excited to have a second loose tooth.

When the tooth finally fell out, Patrick was very happy. Since he slept through the visit of the Tooth Fairy last time, Patrick was determined to see her, if not trap her, this time. He tried his hardest to stay awake as long as he could. After he finally did fall asleep, he awoke with a start, jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to the kitchen and began look through the cabinets. Brian and I were out for dinner and the nanny Maria asked him what he was doing. “I missed the Tooth Fairy last time and I don’t want to miss her again,” he told Maria. “I’m looking for a jar so I can trap her!”

Maria thankfully convinced Patrick to go back to bed, and she let him take the jar with him to his room. Although Patrick was not able to capture the Tooth Fairy, he did wake up to 10,000 Paraguayan Guaranies (about $3.50) from Ratón Pérez and a one dollar coin from the Tooth Fairy under his pillow. He can’t wait for another loose tooth and another chance to catch the Tooth Fairy! Danny, who is eager to experience every milestone that Patrick achieves, told us he now has two loose teeth too. He begged me to feel all his teeth to see how much they’d wiggle. Though I couldn’t feel any teeth move, Danny assures me he’ll be losing his first tooth very soon!