Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hi

When I have gone this long without posting, for some reason I cannot write a descriptive title.

Sigh...

Like... "To the beach in Florida and back and Hamilton!" for example.

or the darker "When your worst nightmares come true!!" :-O  or "Family Reunion Turns into Nightmare" ;-P

All are kind of true... (sigh)

We did go to to Destin, FL with my husband's whole family plus his departed dad's twin brother and his wife. However, THERE WERE BEDBUGS! And they bit almost every single part of my body. Not the feet because I wear socks to bed and not my torso/lower back/bums and front. Everything else was bitten.

Did I mention this has always been my worst nightmare? And that after something like that happens it's another nightmare to wash all one's clothes or dry on high the clean ones to make sure you won't bring those things back home.

OK, I have more things to say, but I need to post this so my mom can use the computer. I'll be back and edit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Employed until 2022 & I VOTED!!!!!

I signed my new contract this weekend.

With the new 3 year contract we are reviewed half-way through (in the beginning of this semester) and then the contract is renewed for 3 more years, so I have work guaranteed until May 2022 unless the program is closed or enrollment is too low or something bad like that.

Right now enrollment for the Fall is the lowest it's been in the past 6 years, but it's just because I have to wait to let the seniors in the class. I should have two full sections. Sigh...

My title was also changed, and I now have a "fake" real academic title, but it ends with two words that tell the tale that I'm not in the tenure track.

I will have an intense week of work next week designing a new course and redesigning another one. What makes it bad is the nearly 3h commute (round trip). I know I'll live and it will be fun, but there'll be lots of driving.

In typical out of sync fashion my husband is doing his course design thing this week at U#1 and I do mine next week. I think it's good for our 14 year old son, since it would be awful for him if both of us were doing it this week. The 16 year old is working in Florida helping to run a day-camp. He'll be back next week and he'll be traveling with my mother-in-law and a tour group for two weeks, lucky him!

Last, but not least, I voted yesterday! I was so happy and so excited! Much more excited than on the day I got the citizenship. I have a voice now!! And I finally feel like a citizen. I think it will really sink in when our passports arrive (we applied last week) and I go out of the country as an American. :-O

Monday, May 14, 2018

My CRAZY Life

Things have calmed down somewhat, but there is still plenty of CRAZY to come!!

If you're wondering about my brother-in-law, he had a successful surgery and got out of the hospital in only 5 days after the amputation. The initial recovery was excellent and he's still recovering well, but the "phantom feelings" and nerve sensations in the leg that he doesn't have are really bothering him a lot right now. If you pray, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Sigh... we saw him yesterday.

I will try to blog again soon, but the past few weeks were simply insane. My parents arrived on the day I taught my last classes, but they didn't come to our house. We picked them up at the airport (late at night) and drove them my aunt's house so they could help care for my disabled uncle for a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I printed my final exams and gave them to two graduate students who administered them for me, because I had to travel to Florida for five days with my son's robotics team and their teacher. We drove in two cars, 12 hours the first day (Thursday) to St. Augustine, visited Kennedy Space Center the next day, then took it easy on Saturday. On Sunday was their competition (they finished 8/23, similar to last year in California), then we still drove 4 hours from Orlando to Savannah, GA. On Monday we drove back.

It was harder than the California trip last year because of all the driving, and also, more kids. We had 6 kids last year and were in one mini-van, this year there were 8 kids... and they kind of trashed my new (to us) mini-van. :-(

After I came back I had to go pick up the final exams and grade them, then I drove to get my parents, then helped cook lunch at the elementary school, and volunteered taking photos of an event in the evening. This Saturday were the day-long concerts for my son's high school (morning, afternoon and night!) that I didn't want my parents to miss, then yesterday we drove two hours to spend Mother's day with my mother-in-law and K's two brothers (K4 had driven down from Canada with his family to see K2 after the surgery).

Now I have to gear up to go on my son's 8th grade class trip, then comes the graduation, my husband's birthday, my son's birthday, trips with my parents, etc...

Sigh... and there's more, but I'll write about that later!

P.S. Last Thursday my husband became a U.S. citizen too! I think he's happier than I am about it. He even made a speech! It was kind of cute. ;-)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Bad News (extended family)

I need to sleep, but I also needed to share this before the event.

I haven't blogged much about this over the years, especially because I suspect that the person in question has read my blog in the past (I don't think now or any time recently), but I probably mentioned in passing that in 2011 my brother-in-law had cancer (liposarcoma) on his thigh and two surgeries followed by radiation therapy. The cancer returned in 2015, then again in 2017 followed by two surgeries, but in spite of those, the tumors came back in the same spot.

So early tomorrow morning, my BIL is having his left leg amputated not too far from his hip. This is absolutely devastating and we hope he can recover well, have an implant, and a prosthetic leg in the future. But mostly we hope the cancer won't return elsewhere (so far it has not).

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. I'll try to provide updates.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The TEN YEAR Anniversary of my PhD Dissertation Defense!!!

Ten years ago today I defended my dissertation. It was Wonderful! ;-)

Later, in the following weeks, it would get quite stressful, but the day, the moment itself, was great.

I can hardly believe I still have this blog. It's useless, though, since the many friends I made through blogging have all "disbanded" from blogland (with a few rare exceptions).

I actually went through every single one of my 1,028 Facebook friends to cull the 30+ people I met through my blog so I could write a FB post about this anniversary and share the blog post from that day there.

Sigh...

I have been thinking about this anniversary quite a bit lately. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will never have a "real" academic career and that this is OK!!! There is a project I'm just beginning to work on that is, in my mind, the only actual way I can celebrate this 10 year anniversary in a worthwhile way. I don't know if this project/dream will actually come true, but I hope it does.

I will share more about it in time. If it does work out, it will enable me to pursue some of the academic interests that matter most to me and it will most certainly bring me satisfaction and also peace. I want to stop feeling troubled, angsty, and upset about academia. I want to have a more positive perspective.

There is a post I wrote around the time of the dissertation defense (and which I'll come back to edit to add the link) that is pretty "prescient" -- it demonstrates that I probably really am not "tenure track"  material because I enjoy life more than I enjoy spending ALL my time researching and writing.

I think I'll be ok. Sigh... And let me post this before midnight!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Did she finally come around?

Last week my mom surprised me. When I left Brazil 22 years ago next June, my mom desperately sobbed and cried at the airport. Over the years, she has never hid her pain and sadness that we moved so far away. Thankfully she and my dad were able to spend lots of time with us and the grandsons because they both retired one year after my oldest son was born and if it weren't for their help, I would have never finished my PhD.

My brother left Brazil in 2006 to live in China and then in New Zealand, but he went back to Brazil for nearly four years (2014-January 2018). He is now in Indonesia and he doesn't plan to come back. His move was hard on my parents because my brother has two young children, 5 (the boy) and 3 (almost 4), the girl.

Brazil is in turmoil now. The president was impeached to years ago and her party, the Worker's party, which had been in power for ten years is being charged with corruption. Violence has gotten worse in Rio de Janeiro, prompting the president to send the armed forces to take care of security. The presidential election has become a circus and the country's recent past has literally become a Netflix series, The Mechanism (with all names changed).

So last week, my mom sent us a voice message over WhatsApp that really surprised me! She said that she thinks my brother is right in leaving Brazil and that it's good that I don't live there either! She also said that she and my dad won't live much longer, so it doesn't matter that things are bad, but she seems happy that we're out of there.

WOW, just wow! I'm not happy that my home country is falling apart, but I sure feel better that my mom seems to be much more reconciled to us having left the country. I hope her feeling holds, and also that things don't get too bad so she and dad can be OK there.

In any case, also good timing with my citizenship thing as well, right?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Safely Back!

Both of my "babies" made it back safely!

My washer and drier were very full last night, but my heart was fuller! ;-)

P.S. the day after my oldest had left for Peru (3/16), I became a citizen of this country. Right now I don't have a post in my about that, but I feel bad holding back that information from you. Incredibly, there seems to be a "silver lining" to this, and I will blog about that soon, promise!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Childless for Four Days...

... after having an only son for a week.

In about 18 hours I won't be childless anymore and in about 20-21 hours our family will be complete again! It hasn't been bad, really. There were some moments things felt strange, but not having to worry about what to feed them and just doing our own thing, my husband and I, it was pretty ok. ;-)

The boys texted and called with regularity. The oldest was in Cusco, Peru, for a mission trip. He had bought an international data package, so he could text and call as much as he wanted or needed. One day (possibly Wednesday), there was a 40 minute phone call because he enjoys just being on the phone while he and I are doing various things, and I actually had to basically hang up because I was tired of being put on hold for a few moments at a time. This morning he woke us up at 8:40 (we had taken naps yesterday afternoon, then stayed up really late watching a movie) and we talked for over 30 minutes while he was at the airport, at times frantically searching his backpack for his allergy medication. Their flight had been delayed several hours, so he felt like calling me and just talking for a while. It was good to catch up on what he'd been up to since Thursday. Then, when they finally got to Lima and he had Wi-Fi at the hotel he called me to seemingly ask me what drink he should by at the soda machine (K and I were on our way to eat out and I had to say goodbye and hang up again because we had arrived at the restaurant). Later, he called quickly just to request that I make sure I have tons of ramen noodle so he can make it for himself as soon as he gets home! :-D From what he's been telling me, they all had a wonderful time, in spite of the horrible food and some people getting sick (possibly food poisoning) at the end of the trip (yesterday and today). I know I will have to spend hours seeing all his photos and videos!

Our youngest went to Tennessee for a robotics competition and his texts and calls were a bit more anxious (he forgot a towel, he was unhappy with the food and how different "American" food is), but he did great for most of the time. This morning he texted me after their first two competitions, then in the early afternoon he said that they hadn't done very well in their robot's run. A few hours later, though, he texted me SUPER excited saying that they were the champions! Now they are headed to Florida in early May and I will be a chaperone again, except that this time I'll have to drive all the way to Orlando and back. :-( Not as fun as flying to San Francisco and getting to visit Yosemite and do other fun things... ;-P

Today my husband decided to start the Spring cleaning. As a matter of fact, he decided he will spend more time doing projects around the house and I'm thankful about that. It is a double-edged sword, though... Sigh... I will have to endure lots and LOTS of pestering on how many shoes or scarves or winter hats I have accumulated over the years... Not very fun. I did manage to separate several of each for donation today and we have a HUGE donation pile with many of items we haven't used in years. There is a long way to go in cleaning the house and de-cluttering, but hopefully we can do a better job this year than we've done before.

OK, I will now end this scattered post to go to bed & be prepared for their arrival tomorrow.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

16 Years a Mother/ Trip Update

On Friday my oldest turned 16 and I enjoyed spending about half an hour with him right next to me in our bed (with my husband putting away his clothes near us) as the time of his birth, 4:14 pm, came and went. I had the scrapbook of his birth photos in my hands and he didn't want to look at them, but I'm thankful that he was content enough to hang out with us at that special time. He even let me take photos (even though he was making a scowling face) at 4:14 and I only shared those with my parents and brother. We talked about our recent trip, since I had just picked up is dad from the airport bus (we have one now!!).

Kelvin's birthday celebration stretched for a week and a half because his birthday present was a trip to Los Angeles with my husband and I. He ADORES traveling (he is truly our son and our parents' grandson -- the oldest!) and he's just about to travel again this coming Thursday on a mission trip to Peru. This year, exceptionally, my husband's professional association conference coincided with our Spring Break, so he was planning to take me with him to LA, but then our son asked to join us.

Both boys missed 3 days of school. Friday 3/2 and Monday and Tuesday. Our youngest stayed with his cousins and my sister-in-law (my BIL was traveling) and we flew from the airport closest to their house to make it convenient to drop L off and pick him up. LA was awesome and I posted some photos to Instagram & Facebook. It rained all day Friday (our first day there), but we enjoyed our visits to the Getty Villa and the Getty Center in spite of the rain and the lack of views

(I'll try to insert a photo later)

On Friday night we headed to Banning (towards the Desert/Palm Springs) where our friends live and it was awesome to see them again! Their daughter was my student (from 2nd-4th grades, once a week English class, she doesn't even remember) and she was one of the flower girls in our wedding. They left Brazil two years after we did and since then we've seen them in 2003, 2016 and now (my husband also saw them back in 2005 when his conference was there too). We talked for hours, and visited Joshua Tree National Park on Saturday.

On Sunday we headed back to LA and visited the Griffith Observatory and had dinner with a dear friend after checking into our fancy apartment in downtown LA. On Monday, our last day there, Kelvin and I took the metro and walked around downtown (City Hall, Disney Hall) then met up with my husband at the SkySpace which has awesome views. We ended the day seeing the sunset and meeting up with another group of friends (husband, wife, two daughters) we hadn't seen since 2015. He was my "accountability partner" when I was writing my PhD dissertation and he was finishing his thesis for his D. Min. Now he's pursuing a Ph.D. at Fuller University and we're very happy for him. While we talked, Kelvin did a time-lapse of the sunset.

The trip was intense, but the perfect blend of sight-seeing and catching up with friends and I think Kelvin liked to meet our friends. He certainly got to listen to A LOT of Portuguese which is good for him. He wishes we could go to Brazil more often, he loves going there and it's pretty much the only time he speaks Portuguese. Sigh... All day Tuesday was wasted with our trip back and it was tough on him having to wake up early again to go to school in spite of the jet lag. Now he's gotta get ready not only to travel again, but to spend a week at extremely high altitudes in Cuzco Peru. I hope he'll be ok!

Oh, yeah, to finish off the narration of the birthday. The day didn't start great because Kelvin had a nose-bleed and both boys were late for school on account of that, but I made up for the upset by taking him to get a Subway sandwich for lunch, making the traditional "vanilla ice-cream-cool whip Oreo crust" ice-cream cake. Then on Saturday he invited his two best friends and I cooked his favorite food (Brazilian-style stroganoff with veggie chicken and rice) for lunch as well as the dessert he asked me to make (a trifle dessert with cake, berries, and two kids of cream (one condensed milk based).
(maybe insert photo here)
I think it was a good birthday overall! I also posted 60+ photos of him from birth until now to Facebook and I enjoyed reading the comments!

Friday, February 09, 2018

Glimpse of my Food Vocab Presentation

Edited to add another image that I hope will work.
This is the first page of the presentation that pulled an all nighter to prepare. It looks kinda nice, no? I used MS Word, so I inserted text boxes the size I wanted and pasted an image copied from the internet inside each text box. An insane amount of work. Adding text would have taken almost double the time because in order to place text exactly where I wanted I would have to add smaller text boxes within the bigger ones. I LOVE what I can do with their boxes on Word!

Só, since the students had a handout with all the words in their hands, theycoile follow along. Now, if I make a recording pronouncing the words with quick comments, they can take advantage of his resource on their own. How could I “make” them do it?

GAH... I do not like teaching language, it’s so boring! :-( Its not what signed up for to do for life. I started doing that back when I was 19-23 (I taught English as a foreign language), but didn’t even get a PhD in a language/literature and didn’t teach language in graduate school. I’m stuck with it because it’s he only thing available for me... I don’t really “stand out” in other crowded field such as teaching world lit which is what I was trained to do.

Sigh...

My apologies for whining. I am thankful I have a job (not just a lame job, but a full time one), I promise I am. I mostly enjoy it. But I definitely long for more. A year ago I cried before teaching one of my literature classes. I can’t think about it too much.

Ok, enough of this disheartening discussion. I just thought I’d let you take a peek at the results of my all-nighter! ;-)

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Yoga!!!

Finally, after nearly two months, I made it to yoga this morning!! I was really sad that it didn't work out for me to go during the whole month of January. The teacher I love only teaches two days, Mondays and Thursdays and after classes started I can only go on Thursday.

I have a hard time, actually, it's impossible for me to work out by myself. After I purchase this ADHD course I've been implementing little things here and there to make me a more productive person, so I have been doing stretching exercises (basically yoga poses) to strengthen my lower back practically every night before bed, which is great. I know I can also work out and be more active in a consistent manner, but I'm not there yet, I'm trying little by little. In the meantime, I will continue to try to go to at least one yoga class a week.

My yoga teacher is AMAZING! There isn't one class in which she doesn't have us do at least one pose of a modification of a pose that is 100% new to me. I have been going to her classes for five years now, and even though I don't go as often as I'd like (I really cannot afford it, I wish I could!), I know for sure that she's always learning and adding more poses to her own practice and she plans her classes very carefully. It's truly a gift to do yoga under her guidance.

In any case, I enjoyed every minute of it and I'm going to try my best not to be so sedentary. I'm truly in horrible shape! (I'll try to share more about that later).

P.S. Thanks for your supportive comment to my previous post, What Now? I don't think it's a school thing at all, my colleague was just being "hirself." Sigh... I should have known better and not done the presentation. It's ok, and I defended myself from the very beginning of our talk, since this particular class is NOT representative of how most of my classes go, so I'm not really in the wrong. It was just annoying to have to sit there and be preached to by this person who is younger and more inexperienced than I am and who actually doesn't do anything for the program except chime in once in a while to say what I should do -- which I actually appreciate, even though it's much more work for me. In Spanish, everything, syllabi, exams, everything but individual classes/lessons is planned by "higher ups" so the graduate students and lecturers can teach uniformly. Thankfully, s/he says s/he's not required to share the evaluation with anyone, it's just between hir and me -- it's not part of the dossier they send to the dean for my renewal. That is good!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

An All Nighter

I pulled an all nighter.

And all I got to show for it was a few NI ("needs improvement") categories in my class observation evaluation that my colleague did today.

Sigh...

Eight years ago when I started to teach language, when I reached the Food chapter I had the idea to create a vocabulary handout for food words that I titled "The Food ABCs." It has these categories: Fruit, Vegetables & Legumes, Typical Brazilian Dishes & Savory Appetizers, Fish, Spices & Herbs, and Desserts/Sweets followed by lists of words in alphabetical order. Not particularly brilliant, but I thought it was a fun way to organize the really extensive and fascinating (at least to me) food related vocabulary.

I fine tuned the handout over these past years, and I have always wanted to find a way to include pictures of the foods by making a slide show or even a video (I don't really edit videos, though).  Since I had to teach this particular lesson when being evaluated, I had the "brilliant" stupid idea to make it for today's class. It was the perfect excuse! (People with ADHD are always searching for good "excuses" or firm deadlines as motivator to get things done).

After fiddling with power point and prezi, I decided I would stick to Good Old Word, a program* I've been using since 1994 when my parents got their first computer. Word kept crashing repeatedly, but I kept working and saving the document as a PDF until I was done at 5 am. The Word document is now blank (?!?!) :-( but I have a PDF!!
    *now programs are called "apps" on PCs why??!! :-( #hugePetPeeveofmine

So, after all this effort, I took 10+ minutes of class to present the document and, as a result, I got a few NIs and some "sermonizing" about the proper way to introduce vocabulary, get students talking, and teach a language class.

Such a waste of time and effort! I need to write this down so I remember to teach a class exactly as prescribed when he evaluates me again in 2 years.

I desperately need to get myself to bed now, but I wanted to write this post.