Wednesday, December 28, 2011


 Rio De Janiero
In December, we were able to spend 11 beautiful days with Emily in Brasil.  We had such a wonderful trip with her and really enjoyed seeing a small part of this vast a beautiful country.  We loved being in her town of Matao and meeting her friends, visiting the school and spending time with her host family.  It was perfect! Goodbyes weren't easy but we are so proud of her and amazed at her ability to learn this beautiful language and do some really hard things for a 15 year old. She is remarkable!
The Girl from Ipanema!  There she was sitting on the beach of Ipanema and we were finally with her!! What a great reunion it was and fun meeting place!

 The brothers having a little fun ;)

 The humidity was not a friend of my hair...for the entire trip.  
I opted out of a lot of photos...
Wow - was it great to hug this girl!  
She has passed me up in a height...just by a bit ;)

 Each city has it's own design for sidewalk tile - this was in Rio.

Oh, the Favelas.  What an experience. To see such poverty and so much of it!  They have been trying to clean up this area in preparation of the World Cup and The Olympics.  They have built a big gondola over the many hills of the Favelas in Rio, in hopes that it will give the people an easy way down and out for work, etc.  We were amazed at vastness. Families will build a home and when they can afford it build on top of it - rent out the bottom and then repeat...   We are so very blessed.
  • Population of Rio de Janeiro: 6,211,000
  • About 1/3 of city’s population lives in favelas
  • About 700 favela communities within Rio de Janeiro
  • Growth rate of Rio is about 2.7% per year
  • Growth rate of favelas in Rio is about 7.5% per year
  • 75% of favela population is black or mulatto
 You can read more here.

 Water is a gift and a curse.  You can see the blue containers that sit on the top of the houses - that is their water supply.  With the high humidity it is so hard to get things dry and this causes all kinds of problems.
 Beautiful flowers and people...everywhere!

This is Patrick, is one of Camber's good friends from Logan High. He is doing a super senior year over there and is living and studying in Rio. We go to meet up with him and spend a night together.  He has fallen head over heels in love with Brasil and plans to come back and further his education there.

 As you can see from the weather - our time in Rio was very "black and white". We would have loved to have seen the sun on the beach and been able to ride up on top of Sugar Loaf...but it was sweet none the less.

 The beautiful rich and fertile soil of the farmlands near Ribeirao Preto. The color of the soil is beautiful and so are the endless veiws of the farmland!

 Ribeirão Preto: The 9th largest Municipaltiy in Brasil is about 2 hours or so from Emily's town. We flew there from Rio and the Spilla's picked us up and drove us to their home.

 The Spilla's took us the Mall - or The Shopping as they refer to it. McDonald's finds its way around, doesn't it? 

  They treated us to some really great ice cream - they know how to make amazing ice cream in Brasil!  We had our fair share, especially in Matao,  The fruity flavors are heavenly!

Oh the fresh juice!  Nothing like it!!!  Absolutely amazing.  Did you know the cashew nut has a fruit?  The nut is actually the stem of the fruit and Brasilians think we are silly that we eat the stem? Cazu juice - we thought it was one of the very few fruits we tasted that kinda had to grow on you.

 This is the trash pick up in front of nearly every home in Emily's town.

 Emily's mom (Mai as they say) was the sweetest host and an amazing cook! Her name is Mariza.

 I have already forgotten the name of this globe fruit - it is kind of like a gourd and it looks really neat to see them growing on trees!
 Meet the Calegher Family!  They have been a second family to Emily.  They are the sweetest people you will ever meet.

 We had lunch at Day By Day one afternoon.  It the establishment the Spilla's have lunch at nearly every single day ;)  It is a buffet type restaurant where you weigh your plate.  They have freshly BBQ meats similar to what you get at Rodizio's here.

 Downtown Matao. Note their tiled sidewalks. And people drive like crazy over there. Especially the motorcyles!  I will never forget the crazy guys that would speed down the middle of stalled traffic in Sao Paulo. Crazy!!
 The lake just a minutes walk from Emily's home.

 Meeting the girls that Emily goes to school with.  They are such beautiful girls. We so enjoyed our night with them!
 When they have the chance to dress up, they do!  They love it! And these girls also love their Brasilian shoes! Emily is becoming a collector.

 Sao Paulo Temple. Beautiful.  We attended Sacrament Meeting at the church right next door.  It was a sweet  meeting, you don't have understand the language to feel the spirit. And have I mentioned how sweet and beautiful the people of Brasil are?  :D

 Another lunch in the outside kitchen.

 Emily's Pai (dad) was diagnosed with cancer back in October. That kind of news is never fun to get. They had an impromptu Samba dance and it was really good to see him smiling and happy.

 This is Julio.  He is Emily's Samba instructor. Mark and I got take visit one of their classes and try it out. He is such a great instructor!  So great to meet him.

 Emily's church.  Everywhere you go so see fences and walls in front of homes and buildings.
Emily's Bishop.  He stopped by one day on his lunch break.  He apologized for not being shaved and in a tie.  Oh my.  He was a wonderful person! So laid-back, easy going and young!

SO many more photos and memories.  
It was a treat.  
Take care, sweet Emily.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day

Christmas morning was just as it should be...full of surprises and wonder in little children's eyes. We had our traditional Egg-McMuffin Breakfast and enjoyed watching the kids play with their toys. It is always extra special when Christmas falls on a Sunday.  Mark & I sang with the choir in our Christmas Program. Grandpa and Grandma Firth came up in the afternoon and Jake, Lindsey and Molly came too. We had a wonderful Christmas Dinner of Prime Rib.  We had a nice skype chat with Emily and savored the day and evening.

Christmas Morning 2011

Christmas Dinner
Lindsey snapped the photo...Liam and Molly are too busy playing to eat :)

The kids really played very cute together.  It was so fun to watch them.  
Trying to take a picture of the three of them was another story.  
Hey guys...lets all stand together by the Christmas tree for a picture!

This is what we got...
There might be one that worked out ok.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Blink and it Was Over!

One of these days our photos will be collected, sorted and neatly organized into posts that will document our last few weeks.  In the meantime....there are  business deadlines and life to deal with.
baby steps...

The first order of business was to pick out a Christmas tree and string some popcorn!
Liam picked out this nice plumb tree and we got straight to work stringing.

 Everyone had their own pattern with the cranberries and corn...and surprisingly no one poked them self with a needle.  We have been stringing popcorn for our tree for many many years.  We did the same in the family I grew up in.  A fun tradition!

 Liam worked hard until his string was as tall as he was!

Who doesn't love snuggling up in the light of the tree and 
sipping on hot chocolate and reading Christmas stories?



Dec 23rd was Lindsey's birthday! She has been on bed rest for the past few weeks hoping to give little brother a few more weeks to get healthy and strong.  We borrowed a wheelchair from Dad's clinic and checked in to a hotel downtown in Salt Lake City.  We had a great time seeing the lights on Temple Square, eating great food and celebrating!  It was bitter cold out but no one seemed to mind too much as we stayed bundled up and enjoyed each others company.

 Yes...we actually did prepare a scrumptious Lobster Dinner in our hotel room!  We had a full kitchen and it worked out pretty well :)  We brought a couple of soups from home (Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Mushroom) along with some Crumb Brother's Bread!  What a birthday feast!

We bundled up and headed to Temple Square.  We will forever remember the two little girls be-bopping down the blocks of Salt Lake City in their adorable little pink coats and winter beanies.

Magic in the air...lots of people to watch and the energy only found in cities. We listened to instrumental quartets playing on the streets and watched couples and young families go for horse and buggy rides.  We warmed up by the fireplace with Hot Fudge Brownies!  The perfect ending to sweet day. Happy Birthday, Lindsey - we LOVE you!

 Stories...songs and a soak in the tub.  We were ready to hit the hay! 
In the morning we enjoyed waffles downstairs and packed up for home.

Christmas Eve
A soak in the hot tub...watching for Santa's sleigh
Christmas Dinner is traditionally some kind of seafood.  This year Camber suggested Fish Tacos.
They were very tasty! For dessert we added a Brazilian flair in honor of Em...
Peanut Tart.  We brought some of the Brazilian cookies home and I did my best to 
re-produce Marisa's recipe. It turned out really nice.
 Lemon Mousse and Peanut Tart

The excitement is contagious!  We read The Night Before Christmas - by Robert Sabuda
a beautiful pop up books that captivates everyone.

Then on to the Nativity Story
Luke 2
Elsie was the sweetest little Mary with her baby Jesus doll.

Brady and Dani had the kids open PJ's and Christmas ornaments.
 We loved having Camber home!  We had a sweet night together.
(We were certainly missing everyone else in our family!)

Dani played a Christmas song for us on her violin and helped
Liam and Elsie set out a plate of cookies for Santa.

Now wait a minute...Liam promised Santa four
cookies since he had asked for four things!
Guess we will have to replace the one Papa couldn't resist!
(love the carrot snacks for the reindeer :)