Friday, January 20, 2017

. . .

I don't know how to title this.

i don't feel like capitalizing anything... as if small letters could convey better how scared and sad i feel inside. more like disconsolate. expecting the worse.

why are there lots of people who keep reassuring everyone that this is no big deal?

this is not normal, it hasn't happened before. such an unprepared, sick man who picked questionable people to help him dismantle everything...

i've never really checked the news, but now i do even less. i may have to stop listening to npr. is npr even going to survive? or any other humanities and arts initiatives that depend on government funding?


government in this country is about to change forever. i saw a headline saying that there will be permanent changes in civil rights laws...

the rich will get even richer and polute even more

those who most need help with their health and their kids' education won't have it

. . .

In the meantime, our small network of "house churches" has just signed up to sponsor a THIRD family of refugees from Syria who arrive in 4 days. The first two arrived before the holidays and we were so busy with grading that we couldn't help at all :-( though we donated furniture, money, raised money and donations from my husband's department.

The families, both from Aleppo, if I'm not mistaken: a young couple (she in early 20s, him 30) with three small children (3, 2 and not even 1). A middle aged couple with four kids, twin boy and girl aged 14, autistic boy aged 12 and 9 year old boy -- they had been in Turkey for two, three years and the children had never been allowed to go to school.

The new family is an older couple (50s-60s) and a son in his 20s.

Refugees are being hurriedly brought into the country by agencies before it's too late, before the door closes. I will concentrate in helping the refugees (I haven't met them yet, actually), I will refuse to let this bring me down.

Resist, we need to resist.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Meal of the Day:

5 pm.


It was a wonderful day of teaching!

P.S. Blogging on my phone again. [Trying to!] One. Word. At. A. Time. Literatlly
(Except this note I cut & pasted)

ETA -- and cutting and pasting from Notes on the iPhone doesn't work (different color text, see below):

P.S. Blogging on my phone again. One. Word. At. A. Time. Literally. 
(Except this note I cut & pasted)

First day and...

... of course I forgot to take my medication!

I guess I'll have some coffee instead!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last Day

Tomorrow I go back to work, so I'm spending a few extra minutes in my cozy bed this morning, even though I already had to drop off my youngest son at school. 

It's raining out there and I wish that maybe I could sleep a bit more, but I already took my medication (hoping I can sleep earlier tonight -- it still makes me more alert at night than I'd like (and I'm already a night owl -- that's my biggest worry if my son were to take medication, he'd never sleep!). I will just read in bed to prepare for my classes, I'm really excited for the opportunity to teach literature once more -- I'm making a HUGE effort to try to look at a "glass half-full" here instead of being my regular negative self. I promise you I am. Sigh...

Ok, more later, before I relapse!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Gorgeous Baby Brother's Birthday!

WOW, I can't believe it's been seven years since I last blogged about my "baby brother's" birthday (he's only 2.5 years younger than me, I don't think I should call him baby brother, but, oh well... I will!). This is actually the third time in 12 years I blog about this, the first time was nine years ago.

So, let's do the math, I guess he turned 43 today... we're both getting old (duh! as my oldest son would say). I congratulated him on Facebook (where he doesn't list is b-day BTW) and thanked him for giving me the gift of the most gorgeous nephew and niece in the world. Totally true! (especially the niece)
I don't know if I should be sharing this last photo (that my husband took back in 1995), but my bro will never see this, so I guess it's ok! ;-)

Firsts in 2016

First graduation (our boys never had kindergarten graduation).

First son in high school and working (though his wages go straight to pay the school).

First death of a close family member.

First time we took the boys to Rio de Janeiro (and Iguazu Falls/Cataratas do Iguaçu).

My first three year contract (sigh...) and raise (not associated with teaching more classes).

K got tenure (I think that's not a first because I'm pretty sure there will never be a second. Sigh...)

First suit purchased for Kelvin (plus a tuxedo for music groups & a few formal jackets -- lots of money spent on this boy last year!).

Oh, first time each boy has his own bedroom (more expenses ;-P)! 

We got L (younger son) his first phone for his 12th birthday (like we did with Kelvin), but he never uses it or carries it around, so it was kind of a useless thing to do. We did get to use the phone in Brazil (did we? can't remember, at least we could have if we needed it) and I'm sure he'll use it on his first trip along this coming April.

If I remember more firsts for 2016, I'll edit the post and list them. Gotta share this before the year is too "old"! (in this process I'm editing a few other "Firsts" label posts, you'll see those if you get a feed that also gets recently edited posts, I suppose).

All of the clothes

Today I'm washing and line-drying all of the clothes. Seriously. Sheets from the beds (that will go right back on) and even all stinky snow sports clothes. The clothesline is full right now, but many clothes are nearly dry so I can swap them out by wet ones when the next wash is done.

Obviously I'm just so happy!!

I wrote this at 10:30 am when I had already hung three loads and the fourth was washing. A lot has already dried now and I have put back the sheets in my bed and my older son's as well as put all his clothes in his room.

And now, since it's still fairly early and these "microplush" sheets dry fast, I'm washing a fifth load (or is it sixth? I can't keep track today!) with a king set of sheets and some other things. I'll add some photos in a few minutes. :-)

Here they are (3:14):

Friday, January 06, 2017

Books Read in 2016

I want to blog more about books and reading in 2017, so why not start and try to remember the books I read in 2016? This post will have to be a work in progress because I cannot remember most books I read.

The last week of the year was a great time for reading, since we were mostly hanging out in my youngest brother-in-law's house and it was very cold outside (it's Montreal after all!), so I read three books there, first I finished Feed by M. T. Anderson which I had bought together with the The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing books I and II for my son (I am yet to read those).

Feed is crazy and gave me a bit of a headache. It's all too real even though it was written BEFORE we were completely glued to our cell phones 24/7 and to our facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. I picked it up after a friend and children's lit scholar (and former blogger) mentioned in passing that the president-elect (a creature whose name shall never be mentioned in this space except by titles) sounded like the few quotes from the president in Feed.

Then I read a Brazilian book, Desde que o Samba é Samba by Paulo Lins, the author of the now famous novel then movie Cidade de Deus/ City of God. It's a supposedly historical fiction book about the history of samba music and it's pretty interesting, but way too full of sex and red-light district skirmishes to my liking. Sigh... and it was pretty repetitive in its structure, not well edited at all. It was interesting to learn more about how "Umbanda" -- one of the Brazilian African inspired religions -- originated. Lins had a few well-placed (if coming out of nowhere) cameos of famous people such as Carmen Miranda and the Brazilian poets Manuel Bandeira and Mario de Andrade (not very flattering portrayal of the sexual life of those two, probably the reality, though).

And I began, but not finished until Monday Jan. 2, another Brazilian novel, Azul Corvo this one available in English translation (Crow Blue) which I imagine must be good -- I'd recommend this book if you're interested in the experience of immigration/migration and knowing a little bit about the guerrilla movements in Brazil during the late 60s early 70s. Adriana Lisboa is an extremely talented novelist, I need to read all her books (I have read and taught another one, Symphony in White -- pretty heartbreaking tale of two sisters, trigger warning: sexual abuse & incest. It's masterfully written, though, and oh, so poetic!).

That was it for the last week (I've read two more books since Sunday)

Other books I read in 2016:

Between the World and Me. Wow, this book is a must read for those who want to know what it feels like to grow up Black in America. A tour de force.

Books I re-read: Sense & Sensibility back in February.

Then, before I watched the movie version of Lois Lowry's The Giver (precisely this beautifully illustrated edition), I re-read the book (which I'd read for the first time last year and never got to blog about! ;-(

And around the time of the election, I re-read the three sequels, Gathering Blue, Messenger -- very relevant for today, especially the whole thing of building a wall and shunning immigrants and refugees, and Son (which I didn't love when I first read it, but now think it's pretty good). I heartily recommend this quartet if you haven't read them!

I'll edit the post when I remember other books I read -- they weren't that many, unfortunately!

Monday, January 02, 2017

11 Days Away

And nearly 12 hours to get back, but we're home now!! 

May 2017 be a tolerable year! Sigh...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy 2017!

(with my nephew N!)

Pending things from 2016 to talk about:

- I still need to write more about my unhappiness with work.

- I'm planning to blog about curly hair products & style.

- My obsession with the color green/aqua.

- Add photos to that post

Will add to this list if I remember more items.

In 2017...

... I hope nobody else dies in our family or of our friends. ;-(

I'm looking forward to perhaps spending some time in July and in December with K's whole family (I think December is more uncertain than July).

I'm sad that I most probably won't see my parents and brother's family. :-( I wish I had more money and could do that.

I hope I feel better about work in 2017, 2016 has been really bad (and I didn't even blog about it, there were so many other things to think/write about).

Yeah... I don't know what else to say about next year. I'll try again tomorrow.

2016 Maker: Tie-Dye Edition

I made about 20 tied-dyed t-shirts in Brazil for me, my mom, my sons, nephews (6) and friends' kids. Some of the children helped and made their own, but I made most of them myself -- and of course I rinsed each one (which takes FOREVER!) and put them in the dishwasher (all together) before line-drying. The photo has 13, but I made at least six more later, and dyed a white towel with the rest of the dye.

I bought a few t-shirts in the U.S. and then bought three more in Brazil (for little kids, pretty pricey) and my mom got two old shirts, including one that had belonged to my late grandma. We dyed a heart on that one:
Take a look at the others, I had to make a rainbow one for myself (and another, drip-dyed like one of my t-shirts, for my mom):

The boys were so happy with their t-shirts that they put them on still wet! (soon after I took this photo)

2016: Three Weddings & A Funeral... plus one graduation & a 90th birthday party

Same events as the previous post, different title, just to be cute, and because it's really true :-( and also because I need to write all these posts tonight.

Three weddings: May 29 in Massachusetts (we drove with the whole family); June 19, close to home; October 10 in California (only K and I went, it was a lovely getaway).

There wasn't actually a funeral (my FIL was cremated and my MIL still had his ashes) only a memorial service and I wasn't there.

Kelvin graduated from 8th grade and here are some photos of that day and the reception:
photos will be inserted later

K's grandma's 90th birthday party was a beautiful celebration:
photos will be inserted later

Crazy 2016: Joyous Celebration + Unspeakable Loss & Sadness + Devastating Political/Historical Turn

Note: the next post will have pretty much the same content, but the title will be different. Sigh...
This was a crazy year. The first half was "sunny" and joyous with our oldest son's 8th grade graduation and two weddings, then we had a trip to Brazil with multiple amazing sight-seeing trips and my husband's grandmother 90th birthday celebration and whole family reunion (42 people who live all over the world!).

Then there was unspeakable loss -- made worse because it was so unexpected -- when my father-in-law had a devastating stroke and died six days later. :-(

And to cap it off, we had devastating unprecedented political/historical changes with the election of a horrible man for president. Sigh... the least said about that the best.

This will be a year to remember, for many positive things, and lots of negative ones too. Some of these things were expected, others not so much (although back in May I was already getting ready to freak out about Hillary not winning -- I totally knew it could happen), and an unexpected death. Precisely the kind of thing that one is always afraid thinking about a new year. :-(

2016 Maker: Wedding Edition

My dear friend J got married in June and I helped by making tons of very "Pinterest-y"things I'd never made before to decorate her wedding shower and her wedding reception. It was lots of work, but lots of fun too, and oh, so pretty, I couldn't stop photographing! I made 30+ pinwheels (gluing paper to have two pretty sides), 12 folded paper rosettes (that my dad helped me with), and 10+ double or triple colored tissue paper pompoms (too bad I don't have good photos of those here, you can see them mostly in the background).

2016: The Sightseeing Year

It cannot compare to 2015 (pyramids?, Petra? or Zermatt, Mont-Blanc, Junfrau; not to mention Berlin & other places), but it was pretty good!

All from cell phones (more convenient)

Friday, December 30, 2016

How to Look Forward to 2017? or How Death Changes Everything

When I started this post back in August, my father-in-law's death had been only 24 days earlier. The pain is duller now, especially since he is not my own father and though I knew him for over 26 years and we were pretty close, I didn't see him very often. I still think what I wrote then and will write now is very true.

The death of a close family member changes everything. After it happens so suddenly and unexpectedly (and I'm sure even if you're expecting it) one looks at life very differently, it's hard to explain. I have lost all four of my grandparents* and two uncles (husbands of my mom's sisters), but we were much closer to my father-in-law than we were with any of our grandparents and uncles (my husband had also lost both of his paternal grandparents). And the feeling of loss and the grief from losing a parent are much stronger than for a grandparent or uncle.
     * paternal grandpa when I was 8,  maternal grandpa when I was 16, maternal grandma at 25, and paternal grandma when I was 37.

One of the things that happens is that nothing is taken for granted anymore, we begin to say, "Yes, we'll go together on that trip next year, if all goes well" or "If all goes as planned and we're all still here." (end of 8/28's post) We begin to incorporate the thought that someone may no longer be with us in the future to every plan because now the awareness of the possibility of death is more real and closer. That's why looking forward to what will or may come is forever changed with such a life shattering event. We begin to think of the new year and wonder whether anyone in the family will die then.

Another thing that happened to me is that I no longer assume that K and I will get to grow old together and that thought is so sad! I look at my husband fully aware of the fragility of life now, he "feels" more fragile to me because his dad died so suddenly, I sometimes ask out loud "You're not going to die young like your dad, will you?" (He was 71) And of course that's a question with no answer. I assumed that we would live for a long time because of the longevity of his paternal grandparents (90+) and now his maternal grandmother (who just turned 90) as well as that of my maternal grandmothers (94 and 96). I was really looking forward to that, growing really old together, but now I cannot simply assume that.

Back in August I actually felt angry when I saw older men and thought that my father-in-law would never get to live to that age. And now I'm thankful every day that my father will be 80 years old in a year and that he's still healthy, that my mom is 76 and she's doing well, that my 87 year old aunt who has been hospitalized for nearly two weeks is getting better (I am so so thankful for that!). Not to mention my mom's other siblings who are still doing good at 90+, 88, and 84.

The truth is that life is fragile and can end at any moment, but we choose to be generally oblivious to that -- it would be too difficult to live otherwise. So when death comes so suddenly and reminds us this, life changes drastically and we need to learn to live with this new awareness. I think we're learning. I suppose it's good to be more prepared when the next time comes. Can one ever be prepared to face death, though? Hopefully yes.

The sad day I ruined my brand new favorite pants :-(

I ruined my favorite pair of pants yesterday. It's a pretty new pair, Pilcro brand that I bought on sale at Anthropologie last October and that I had washed only once. I'm so sad!!

On Wednesday we went to eat fried dough Brazilian pastéis (like an empanada, but fried and made with a thinner, crustier dough) and I had some leftover pieces which I brought into our super-crowded mini-van -- I was sharing the back seat with my youngest son and older nephew. When my SIL and I went out quickly to shop at a Portuguese grocery store in a place where there was no street parking I accidentally sat on the napkins holding the leftover fried dough and also wiped my greasy hands on the pants, which caused several greasy streak stains. So yesterday afternoon I decided I was going to wash the pants, and since there were oil stains I used dish detergent (Method brand) -- big mistake! The pants  discolored immediately! :-( In four different places.

What can I do now? I could possibly discolor patches everywhere, artistically, but would that look even mildly OK? Such a bad way to end this already bad year. :-(
So sad!!! :-( I just want to wear them like this, they're such a pretty color (lighter when dry -- I'll post more photos once it's dry).

P.S. I'm obsessed with this color and lighter ones. I'll try to write a post with photographic evidence.

2016's Final Blogging Stretch

Last year I had to write 19 posts on Dec. 31st to reach my goal of 215 posts in 2015. The goal is considerably lower this year (116 posts), so I have to write only 10 more after this post, and I've got two days to do it! And the good thing is that I have a lot to say, so it should be easy. I'll start with a look back at the past week.

Quick holiday trip update:
After we arrived here in Montreal last Friday, I spent nearly three days cooking for three families (13 people). The meals were relatively simple ones, but I was the main person cooking. K's uncle's wife helped to clean lot as did my husband and my sister-in-law, who was also in charge of setting the table and decorating on Christmas Eve.

We decided to do our Secret Santa and open presents on Christmas Eve because on Sunday K and his brother took their uncle's family on a driving tour to show them Montreal. It was really cold and most everything was closed, so it didn't take them too long.

They left on Monday and I spent many hours at the outlet helping my sister-in-law with her Boxing Day (more or less equivalent to Black Friday in the U.S.) shopping excursion (she took advantage of the holiday promotional prices to buy things for her mom to take to Brazil).

Since then we've been mostly staying up late and sleeping in, then playing board games and going out to eat, first to an all-you-can-eat sushi place and then in a Brazilian bakery. We also had to go to stores to return Christmas gifts and K ended up buying a bargain priced snow-board, bindings, and boots for himself!

I am still recovering from a pretty bad sinus infection and my husband also had a nasty cold, but we're much better. The guys (K, his brother and our two sons) were going skiing tomorrow, but the forecast is pretty bad weather for the place where the ski station is located, so I guess they will go on Sunday -- even though we were planning to start driving back then. It looks like we'll have to drive straight back home on Monday (our younger son goes back to school on Tuesday).

Other things we did: I read two books and have started a third one! We watched one movie (the new one about Pelé, the Brazilian soccer player, more on this later) and played lots of games!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Leaving at 2 am... (and Christmas not at home)

I should be sleeping right now, I really should. We had to wait for a packaged to be delivered by UPS to leave for Montreal, so we're leaving between 2-3 am (package arrived at 5:30 pm). I'm not sleeping partly because I took my medication at 12 pm because I needed to pack, clean the house, etc. But I think that if I went to bed I would fall asleep easily, it's not really too much of a problem. I'm naturally a night person and the medication just makes me a bit perkier at night.

BTW, since I mentioned this, I should go back and make some more comments about it. After I read What Now?'s comment I was thinking... why should I think of this "chemical help" for ADHD as optional? If someone has depression or other conditions I am 100% in favor of them taking medication, so why shouldn't I?

After I wrote that post and actually went ahead and finished my grading I realized that this was the smoothest grading EVER. True, I procrastinated and didn't start grading my tiny class (six students) until the last minute, but once I did, it went fast. I also never graded 8 page long final exams so quickly. Yeah, I think it TOTALLY works. ;-) ;-P

So, yeah... we hardly ever spend the holidays at home which is kind of sad, particularly Christmas, so we hardly ever get a tree. We had part of K's family come once (his mom, dad, K2 and his family and one of K's paternal cousins and his wife from Brazil who happened to be visiting the U.S.), I think, in 2008, but not only I did not say one word on the blog about it, but it was pretty rushed because everyone was gone on the 25th, including us -- we went to Florida to enjoy some warm weather. (That period of my life was awful, though, I was teaching online for Axia College/University of Phoenix and that was disastrous and horrible).

We were also home in 2010 (with friends and K2 and family only for about 24h -- the rental house was tiny) and then ALONE, just the four of us, in 2014 -- I blogged some cool Xmas tree photos (ha! I wrote a blog post about "home alone" Christmases back then and now I'm truly curious about 2024), but generally we either spend Christmas with K's whole family (every other year, on odd years) or with part of his family. We can't really do my family on even years because my parents can't afford to come (and we can't afford or have time to go) and they also don't like to come here in winter.

So... where was I going with this? Initially K4's wife had "offered" to come here for Christmas, but when K's uncle said he wanted to go to Montreal, we decided to go there too, so that's what we're going tomorrow! I'm sorry for the long digressions! I had fun revisiting Decembers past!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

This makes me SOOOO happy:

Another one taken just now with more vivid colors:
This suitcase is just so "me"!!! I bought it the night before we traveled to Michigan for Thanksgiving. I almost bought a less pretty one (still colorful, with orange foxes and squirrels), but I was leaving the store when I saw this perfect one and had to come back and exchange it!! Just what I wanted and needed, although it was a bit pricier than my sons' plain IKEA ones:
I love color!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

From Sunday (our 22nd anniversary): Done Grading! And going…

... to a one-night getaway for our anniversary! It's great that the boys are old enough to stay by themselves!

I never got around to posting this from my phone Sunday night. ;-) we were done grading and submitting grades only by 5pm and left later than we wanted. I calculated we only "wasted" 30 dollars for arriving at our lovely cabin two hours late.  ;-P

Now we're getting ready to travel to Montreal for Xmas with K's youngest brother's family (K4) and their uncle "D4"* and family.
*Mother-in-law is D1, all her siblings' names begin with D!

I'm recovering from a cold that got a second wind after our quick getaway. Hopefully I won't get sick again in Canada! 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

On deciding to get chemical help

I decided to go with the blunt title. There is no other way around it. And I just realized I had also been blunt in a post title from two years and exactly ten days ago (when I answered a question from What Now?)!

When I brought up trying ADHD medication in my last check up with my family doctor (in late September? October?), I was completely taken aback by his reaction. Seriously. I have been going to this doctor for a few years, after my husband found him and liked him, and he's nice (he's got a Brazilian wife, he's gotta be nice, haha!). He's your average allopathic doctor, though,* happy to take good (traditional) care of his patients and prescribe something for their ailments. I was taken aback because he seemed "too happy," almost giddy! He took note of the fact that it took me YEARS to reach this decision (over two years after my official diagnosis) and he praised me for considering it. He shared a personal story about his pre-med classmate with ADHD who didn't believe in medication and who ended up never going to medical school even though he was very bright. The doctor's argument is that medication can to wonders for certain people, really change their lives completely. So he prescribed the lowest dose (10 mg) of the most common med for me to try and I went back in two weeks.
          * whereas I was brought up as a big believer in a wholistic approach to health involving diet, natural treatments, teas, hydrotherapy -- even though my mom took me from doctor to doctor, I need to write about my childhood doctor visits sometime! And about growing up with debilitating asthma.

It turns out that the lowest dose kept me awake late into the night and I felt that it didn't help that much. When I went to the doctor again, he prescribed a different, more expensive medication that is supposed to be better. I took that for a few weeks and didn't experience the same troubles sleeping, only felt a dry mouth, so on my third doctor's visit he upped the dose a bit (to 30 mg). That seemed to be helpful and have no side effects (other than dry mouth) for almost a month, but in the past week or so I felt that I was staying up at night again and I also felt EXTRA sleepy if I didn't take it. So yesterday I got a refill with a smaller dose (20 mg).

I'm still conflicted about taking medication. I feel that it helps me focus more, be less distracted, but I'm not being more productive (in terms of grading and other work-related things)! Perhaps I'm even worse than I've ever been -- having a horrible time working at home and only feeling motivated to do any work when I'm at the university. I do feel less overwhelmed, though. Both in crazy, loud social situations (such as a having to help and deal with a gym full of children, grandparents, and parents such as when we had the Thanksgiving banquet). My husband feels I'm calmer too, I'm not driving him and the boys crazy with my outbursts and nervousness.

As a matter of fact, it may have been a coincidence, but one one fateful day, a Friday, when I forgot to take the medication (I remembered too late in the day and if I'd taken it I wouldn't sleep) it was UTTER CHAOS. I even burned a dish in the stove, something I hadn't done in forever!! I thought it was hilarious -- kind of a reprise or a "conspiracy" of the drug companies to keep me hooked.

There, I've said it. I feel bad for becoming "chemically dependent" on this medication even though I know that the chemistry in my brain is messed up to begin with, so maybe it's a good thing to give my brain and myself (and people around me!) a break. When I first started taking the pills, I left them in the kitchen table and my youngest son saw it and recognized the name of the chemicals from events against drugs they've had in school every year. He was clearly not comfortable that I was taking "drugs" and voiced it to me, with disapproval in his eyes. I have since kept the medication in my bathroom and I think my son got used to the idea of it.

I still haven't made up my mind on whether I'll take it on a regular basis. I think it's important that I decided to give it a try. I definitely need it before trips or stressful events in which my ADHD throws me completely out of whack. Sigh... but as far as grading and preparing classes is concerned... well, I still need to find out how to become more disciplined so I can give a chance to my better focus to do any good! It doesn't help that we had this crazy election season and even crazier presidential transition -- life isn't normal life anymore and I feel that very strongly.

In any case, it feels good to finally blog about this issue and get it "off my chest." I wish Spanish Prof. could still be around so we could talk about the effects of medication. Any thoughts, friends?

(and now on to a few "fluff-filled" posts perhaps? Nah, I love fluff, but I'm generally not very light-hearted in this blog -- I wish I had a fashion/style blog to go along this more somber & serious one). ;-P