Friday, April 27, 2012


 During our time in the U.S., Jonathan was finally able to meet his Vovo (Portuguese for grandma), Janilce. She was sweet enough to agree to come to Utah for the visit to save us from another six hours of flying. We picked her up at the airport in the middle of the night so Jonathan was pretty tired, but it was still a fun reunion for me and introduction for the two of them.

It worked out nicely that Fabio's brother, Fernando, graduated from LDS Business College the same weekend in Salt Lake City. When Fernando met J, he rubbed his head exactly like Fabio does. Brothers! Jonathan looked at him kind of confused, and then gave him a great big smile. Jonathan, Janilce and I went to the ceremony, but Jonathan was done after the fifth speaker and fourth musical number (let's be honest, so was I) so we watched Fernando walk and headed home for a nap. Even though we left early, we're so proud of Uncle Fernando!

The visit was too short, but it was certainly sweet. I'm so happy Janilce and Fernando were able to finally meet Jonathan. We love and miss you both!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Like to be in America

I'm visiting the United States for several weeks this month.

When Fabio and I decided to move to Singapore, I knew I would miss my family and friends a lot. I thought I would probably miss good Mexican food and maybe even an item or two I wouldn't be able to find outside the U.S. I had no idea I would miss Target, driving myself wherever I wanted, whole wheat bread, outlet malls, ordering things online, Costco, and affordable Cheerios.

It's hard to explain the emotions associated with returning to the United States after living away for awhile, so I won't try. I feel so patriotic, but not in the ways one would expect. I haven't found myself in awe and wonder over the Primary Elections, the free press, or the peaceful protests. It's the very little things that overwhelm me and make me so grateful to be from the Purple Mountain's Majesty; and then in a very subtle, secondary way, grateful for the system that protects those little things that make America different and special.

My first full-day back we stopped at Walmart to pick up some essentials. My jaw dropped as we walked in. I've been to Walmart plenty of times before, but this time it was different. I had something to compare it to. More than 20 kinds of mascara, an entire aisle for breakfast cereal, two kinds of sugar-free cranberry juice, baby formula for less than half what I pay in Singapore, cheese for pennies on the dollar, and the list goes on.

As I picked up an enormous box of Cheerios, I noticed the price: $3.50. I started to cry. I was so overwhelmed by the abundance that has come to be synonymous with the United States. It wasn't just that there was so much available--so much was affordable. There I stood in the cereal aisle in Walmart, holding a box of Cheerios, with tears streaming down my cheeks. I finally appreciated what I'd always had growing up. I felt so patriotic in the checkout line when a basket full of diapers, a high chair, a baby tub, formula, cereal, fresh produce (including berries), cookies, cheese, and who-knows-what-else came out to less than $150.

Sure, there are shootings, stifling pollution, bazaar political stale-mates, and other aspects of American life that are less-than-ideal. But the other day I drove to the grocery store on my way home from an outlet mall (where there were clothes I liked that fit right), found everything I wanted (and then some) in wide aisles, and paid less than $4 for a gallon of organic milk. There's a lot to be said for that.

God Bless the U.S.A.!