Thanksgiving. We created one more vegetarian.

It wasn’t easy.  Our new American friends offered to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  They would buy the turkey and cook it.  They offered us the sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie…the works.   I stuck to making the green vegetables and brownies.  We also hosted at our house.

The poor American lady had to move Heaven and Earth  to get a full turkey and the whole bird had to be less than 21 cms high or it wouldn’t fit in her oven.  The applicances here are microscopic.  My stove is slightly larger, but my freezer fits about 4 items…tops!  Anyway, she did it.  Awesome for the meat eaters in the family…which keep getting less.  Maggie, just two days before Thanksgiving, came home from school and declared that she was becoming a vegetarian.  I am a vegetarian and I have been one for almost 20 years.  Maggie was a vegetarian until we moved to Augusta, Georgia from Los Angeles.  You see in the South, Chick-fil-A is like a basic food group.  Everyone eats there and everyone eats chicken.

Like a sirens call, Maggie was driven by curiosity to want to eat at Chick-fil-A.  When she was about three and a half, she had her first chicken nugget and the rest is history.  She fell in love with chicken nuggets, chicken tenders and eventually turkey.  I tried to limit her intake of nuggets,  but it did become her go to favorite meal.  That was until about a week ago.  She came home from school and said it was over…she wasn’t eating meat again.  When I asked her why, she said that she was watching the kids eating gross food at school…octopus, lamb, pork…(this is Portugal, no pb&j sandwiches at lunch, except for my kid) and she felt like God told her to stop eating chicken and turkey.

What do you say when your kid claims that God told her to become a vegetarian?  I married a priest, who said he felt God told him to be a priest when he was 15 years old.  I can’t or maybe I won’t argue with her logic.  I would lose and I would seem like a creep.  I told her that was fine, but she would have to eat what I ate.  I wasn’t making another separate meal for her too.  So now comes, thanksgiving.

I had to explain to the people who brought over a gigantic turkey, that my daughter was now a vegetarian and only my priest and my little carnivore would be enjoying their turkey.  We had a nice holiday despite my crazy train daughter.  I was thankful for the meal and the day and that we were able to pull it together despite being in a country that doesn’t sell canned pumpkin or cranberry sauce.  We did it and we had fun in the process.


Rainbows Everywhere

It rains here.  Not a lot, so far, but enough big storms that produce dark skies and then immediately following…rainbows.  The kids run outside to track down the rainbows whenever we have a storm.  Spectacular.

I am told to try and capture the rainbows constantly…nothing can capture their beauty over the tile roofs with Lisbon or the Atlantic Ocean as the back drop.  Just make sure to get here to see them yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.



Thankful Tree

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I have my girls cut out leaves out of paper.  They write at least five leaves each of what they are thankful for.  They usually write that they are thankful for us and for family and for friends.  This year, they said they were also thankful for Portugal and God; a nice addition.

Maggie also felt thankful for rainbows this year.  It seemed like an odd choice, except that rainbows happen here all the time and they are spectacular.  Good call kid.

We put the leaves on branches that we collect and each person reads a leaf that someone else wrote.  One of my favorite traditions.  We couldn’t track down good branches this year. I had to break the branches  off of our neighbor’s olive tree.  The sticks wouldn’t hold the leaves, but the thought was there.


I am wearing shorts people, not a bikini.

I let to get dressed in work out clothes every morning.  It is a visible message to myself that I am going to excerise at some point during the day.

My husband, the priest, said that work out clothes are the standard apparel of every mom at every Episcopal private school he has ever served as the priest for…and it’s true.  I never felt out of place dropping off my daughters in my running shorts and t-shirt.  So, I was unaware that my ‘uniform’ was going to cause such a stir.

In the warmer months, like even up until late October, I saw people in shorts.  Most of them were tourists, but this area is also filled with surfers.  Cool dude Portuguese surfers.  Waves here are consistent and there are loads of different beaches that offer wave sizes for all levels.  I had no idea Cascais was a surfing destination.  Anyway, near the ocean wearing shorts might mean you are there getting ready to surf.  Wearing shorts going to Starbucks…not cool.

I went for a run, put on a sweatshirt and headed to the mall.  It is a 10 minute walk from my house and has everything to make me feel at home…Starbucks.  My first warning should have been when my neighbor pretended not to know me.  I waved as he walked past me, but no acknowledgement was shown on his side…odd, but he was walking with a friend, so okay, fine.  Then I get to the mall and people are openly gawking at me.  No shame in shaking their heads at my attire.  The barista at Starbucks doesn’t seem to take note, but she might be used to weird foreigners.

I felt naked.  I may as well have been walking around in a bikini.  I was given dirty look after dirty look from women, kids, old people…no one even tried to hide their disgust.  I started enjoying it.  It became more than amusing to me.  I was a symbol of crazy.  A freakish red headed, short wearing, freckled face lady out in the mall alone enjoying my frappucino. Joy.

Then next day, I was walking Piranha, our 15 year old Bichon Frise, in our hood.  I see our neighbor again, this time alone, and he acknowledges me.  He apologized for ignoring me the day before, but he tells me the Portuguese have strict dress code rules.  Shorts are not appropriate when the weather turns cold…point of fact, it was 72 degrees when I wore shorts to the mall.  He said my exercise shorts are very frowned upon.  Really?   I guess the Portuguese are going to have to get used to seeing me in my exercise shorts, because I have no plans on changing my wardrobe now.  I mean, honestly if I don’t put on my shorts, I may have to start dressing fancy.  Portugal is not ready for that…neither am I.

Thanksgiving woes.

As one of the only American families at my daughter’s school, I was asked to make treats for the whole school to celebrate Thanksgiving. It seemed simple enough.  I have made countless treats at home for class parties and just because we live in Portugal it didn’t seem like it would be that different.  I was wrong…so WRONG.

My search for treat ideas began on Pinterest.   I saw turkeys made with candy corn,  cupcakes, pretzels, chocolate turkeys…you name it.  All adorable and all doable if in America.   I am by no means a fancy baker, but I can assemble a  candy corn turkey like no other.

Well, we have no candy corn here, or Hershey’s kisses or canned pumpkin for that matter.  Rice Krispies…not easy to come by.  Regular marshmallows, forget about it.  I wandered around grocery store after grocery store in my search.  I got quite good at begging for what I needed in  Portuguese.  Then, Pippa spotted it.  Pumpkin jam.  A whole self of pumpkin jam.  Great! Now, what the hell was I going to do with it.

I came up with brownies with pumpkin icing.  I have never eaten this on Thanksgiving before, but no one needed to know that.  I rushed home and made the icing.  Cream cheese, confectioners sugar, butter and my pumpkin jam. It was actually crazy good.  Win!

Now for the brownies.  Crazy fail.  Every ingredient was different from home.  I think I got some sort of messed up butter.  The flour was off…I am looking for excuses here people.  They were the most dense brownies known to civilization.  I could never get 75 pieces from this batch…in fact I got 10 pieces.  Ahhhh…now what?

I decided another trip to the grocery store was needed.  Then I saw them.  A small section in the cookie aisle called, “American Cookies.”  AKA, chocolate chip cookies.  Perfect.  I purchased 8 packs.  Unlike real American chocolate chip cookie packs that probably have like 30 cookies in a bag, here they only have 12.  I bring them home and put my pumpkin icing on them.  I add a few sprinkles…and voila…an American Thanksgiving treat.  Not really…but it fooled the kids in the International school. They devoured those cookies like an international group of locusts.

I was thanked profusely and told by a Greek student that they were so tasty, I could sell them.  No thank you.  I need a two week rest from the stress of grocery shopping in Portugal and from lying to the world that store bought chocolate chip cookies covered in an odd icing with pumpkin jam in it, is a traditional American Thanksgiving treat.


I do not want to see penises!

We decided that Pippa needed to be around other kids…maybe learn Portuguese and maybe make a friend. We took her to this pretty posh private school that offered swimming lessons to the public. I suited her up and took her to the pool at the school. It seemed like a simple thing. We were greeted by the teacher who said we just drop her off. I asked if we could watch the lesson. The answer was a big no. I was crushed. They wanted to know where all of her clothes to change into were. My answer was apparently shocking. I only brought her a robe to wear home with underwear. I intended on putting her directly in the car and driving the few miles home. The teacher looked like her head might explode.

So after being banished from the class, I lurked in the hallway. I left her alone, in a pool, without knowing safety procedures, in a co-ed swim class….I was feeling high anxiety. I freely and proudly admit, I stalk my kids. I need to know they are safe. I need to know that the instructor doesn’t suck. Pippa is a good swimmer, but still!  One added bonus…recently, since she seems to want to eat everything in sight, I am now fairly certain she is like a seal. She has a nicely distributed layer of body fat, which I like to call juice, that keeps her happily afloat.

Anyway, 45 minutes later Pippa is delivered to me in the hallway. She is in her robe with her hair blown dry. I have NEVER dried her hair before. I never blow dry my own hair, it is way out of my comfort zone.
They were so freaked out by her robe, that they had to make sure she didn’t get cold in her brain. Is that a thing? Apparently, it is in Portugal.

So, Pippa gets in the car and I ask her about the lesson. She said the kids couldn’t really swim and the teacher said she had to swim double the laps because she knew how to swim. (I did confirm this with the teacher after class…otherwise I probably wouldn’t have believed my clever scammer.)
Anyway, then she said she had to get changed with all the other kids. There were no change rooms, they all just got nudie in front of each other. She said she had to see two nasty looking penises and a few decent looking vaginas. However, overall she was not impressed.  She did not enjoy seeing body parts.  Nasty is the word she repeated over and over again.  Too nasty to return to swim class.  We tried.

Hello world…Maggie here.

Hi, my name is Maggie and I am 11 years old.  I love adventure and dancing. Dolphins are my favorite animal and Holland and Hawaii are my dream places.  I like photography and horses. I am a vegetarian.  My mom is CRAZY and she also is AWESOME.  Once a week I am going to add photos that I take. I hope you enjoy my pictures stay tuned for more.