12 February 2011

Week 18: EAB Christmas Program

The school Christmas program was a done about a week before the school got out for the summer break. It was good to hear holiday music from various cultures being performed by all the different groups instead of generic songs. At one school district we attended in the states, the music teacher decided that in order to not offend anyone, the kids would perform a series of self-esteem themed pop songs. It was awful because the kids did not like the songs and they performed like they didn't like them.

Anyway, at EAB, I was impressed by the effort put in to develop a set and include various types of performances from the elementary school. Emma even got to sing a solo of "Silent Night", and she did very well.

One of the things that we have found very different here is that most of the school meetings, PTO meetings and performances are schedule during the school day, not in the evening after parents would be out of work. What has been impressive is how many parents are able to show up for these performances during the school day. In fact, day time events have better attendance than those in the evening. The embassy is also very good at allowing parents to take an hour or two out of the work day to let them go support their children and watch the show.

Week 17: Grease is the Word

The American School put on a highlights show of songs and dancing from Grease. They had hoped to put on the full show, but elected to do this smaller show largely due the lack of experience of the cast. The director is the new theater and digital media teacher at the school. She was presented with quite a few challenges when putting the production together, including an open-casting policy (everyone that tries out, gets in), field trips, limited rehearsal schedule and finding the support resources. They've decided to build on this experience and do the full show next semester.

Rebecca volunteered her talents and assisted the student director and designer to create the costumes. Rebecca also stitched the boys leather jackets and the jackets of the Pink Ladies. The largest challenge was finding the right fabrics, accessories and patterns. She was unable to find a men's jacket pattern, so the she adapted a women's pattern to use here. She also ordered the zippers, fabric and patterns from the states since she couldn't find what she needed here. Unfortunately, it took six weeks for all of the parts to arrive, and that left just 10 days to get all 9 jackets done, and each jacket took about 6-8 hours of work to sew.

Two of our kids were in the show in supporting roles and in the chorus. The director decided to use the Saturday matinee as an understudy show, which gave the younger kids the experience of performing in the lead roles. My kids really enjoyed the experience, and loved the director. I think the director did a really nice job pulling the show together. She was a good find to bring to EAB. 

Despite the challenges, the show was quite good. The kids put on three energetic and fun performances. The costumes looked nice, and even the simple set pieces were effective for this show. The kids had prepared well-enough that they were even able to perform well through technical problems with the microphones. As an audience member, I enjoyed the shows. I'm looking forward to seeing the full production.

Week 17: Breakfast with Santa


On the first Saturday of December, the CLO office hosted breakfast with Santa at the Embassy. It was a nice time to get together with the other embassy families, visit and eat some pretty good food. The kids were pretty excited to see doughnuts in the buffet because these are certainly a rare find in Brasilia. 

 Our Santa wore Birkenstocks. Sandals were fitting to wear for the beautiful early summer day. This was also a pretty good clue that he wasn't Brazilian because then he would have worn Hawaiianas flip-flops.

One of the things that I have noticed is that Brazilians love to decorate with balloons, and they create sculptures of various sizes and shapes. Our kids thought that the snowman was good enough to take home.

Pretty Pink Flower

Since the rainy season started, more and more of the trees have been flowering. I noticed this flower while driving, and there happen to be several of these trees on the embassy grounds. The hummingbirds like these flowers, too.

Week 16: Setting up the Christmas Tree

Last Christmas, we set up a fresh cut tree for the first time. We decided that it would probably be a long time before we would be able to use fresh cut trees. That tree was also nearly 8 feet tall, and fit quite well in the room with the lofted ceiling.  Also, since all of our traditional decorations were still in storage, we chose to create handmade crafts to decorate the tree, for example, garlands of cranberry and popcorn, toilet paper tube stars, corn husk dolls, and other things from felt and pipe cleaners. 
We purchased an artificial tree just before we moved in July, which turned out to be more difficult to find than we had expected. Fortunately, their was a couple who had just moved to a smaller apartment and need to sell three of their five trees, and I found their ad on Craig's List. 
Like last year, we still only had the handmade decorations from last year's tree. Our collection of ornaments were still sitting in a crate on some dock in Rio de Janeiro waiting for customs clearance and a truck to Brasilia with the rest of our household goods that we had pulled out of storage. This shipment had been missed on the shipping orders, and so sat in Maryland for an extra month.

Rebecca was pretty disappointed about having to use the same decorations as last year. She insisted that as soon as our other ornaments arrived, we would redecorate the tree. Also, I think the most surprising thing about this tree is how small it felt in the large front room of this house. Anyway, the kids enjoyed decorating and starting our Christmas celebration.

A big moth

This moth was sitting on the box fort, and then flew up to the rafters in our garage when I approached it. The wingspan was about 8 inches, or the span of my outstretched hand from pinkie to thumb. As a zoologist, I am completely intrigued by the insects here, and of course, I would like to know what they're called. In the common language, this and all other butterflies and moth-like creatures, would be called a borboleta.