Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Month of Disconnected Travels

Today my youngest son arrives from his six day trip with the bell choir.

Tomorrow night (more like Tuesday early morning), our oldest leaves to go to Costa Rica with the music groups (orchestra and choir) of his high school.

He comes back Monday next week and the next morning my youngest son and I leave for a six day trip to California where our elementary school's robotics team will take part of a national competition (for our denominational schools). The competition is only on 5/7, but we go earlier to visit San Francisco, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and other places in the Sacramento area (where the competition takes place). We are so excited and delighted to be going!

Travel is one of our favorite things!

In addition to our "disconnected travels" this month, we are hosting one of my husband's youngest cousin who lived here from 2012-13 and graduated from high-school from the same academy our son is attending. He is currently spending a year volunteering in Tunisia and he took a short break. It's good to have him visit!

I know the next two weeks will be CRAZEEE, but I also know all of us will enjoy every minute of it all -- well, except for my husband, poor thing, he's staying put through all or our comings and goings, poor thing!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Youngest Son's First Trip Solo

This morning I sent off my youngest son in his first bell-choir trip. Three years ago I blogged about the first of such trips for our family and how Kelvin had such a great time. Kel was in 6th grade at the time, but L only joined the bell choir this year in 7th grade. I imagine that Kel is probably happy about this so he didn't have had to put up with his "little brother" during last year's trip. ;-)

As in most previous years there are 4 boys and 9 girls in the group and two of the boys happen to be my son's good friends (although the friendship is changing with the oldest of the two since he's going through puberty ahead of L and getting moody and cranky, which strains the relationship). I hope he'll have a good time, though I know he won't be as enthusiastic about the trip as his brother was three years ago -- they are so different from each other!

Edited to add: He just called me (9:40 pm) and all is well, but he did forget to pack pajamas! He'll be able to use a pair of comfortable shorts and a t-shirt. I told him to try to select one of the t-shirts or at least wear a new one every night (and then keep it during the day).

I miss him, of course!

P.S. this is the third Tuesday in a row I miss going to the Farmer's market because of an outside obligation (in this case, going to the airport, unfortunately Reagan, to pick up some students. I'm being paid $200 for my trouble, but it's still kind of annoying, sigh...).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

I should be working on my garden, right now, and getting some sun on my shoulders to get lots of vitamin D... and I will, in a few minutes. I want to get some pesky thoughts out of my head first, though. I think it'll be therapeutic.

Having ADHD sucks, it really does. I love, love, love the hyperactive, creative, boundless energy (until it's gone) side of it. I like how my brain is all over the place and all the thoughts and unexpected connections I make. I feel very alive and full of interests, it's exciting! I hate the bad side of it, the fact that even on medication I can't start on things I hate to do, I can't do what I NEED to do.

I hate too many things about it and I don't want to focus on those here, although I already used the title of the post against myself -- my brain is an EXPERT, in finding excuses. As Heather would say (love, love, love her! I'm THRILLED she's back with a redesigned blog, it makes me happy and energized to blog more), my brain is the valedictorian of excuse-making.


So, yeah... I have recently remembered some excuses that are very valid, though. I'm having this horrible depressing professional crisis which is NOT the subject of this post, and I realized the other day that now the I'm taking medication (on and off), I have to make good on my promise to try to write academic papers (sigh...).   (I'd love to do it, as a matter of fact).

Back to gardening, though... all through last year I didn't weed one particular flower bed (one that I build with my own arms and hands years ago and that cost me a ridiculous 200+ dollars -- I should TOTALLY have just bought a ready-made raised bed at a store. [links/photos coming later]) and there were various excuses, but I think that this action stunted and basically killed a bunch of beautiful tulips. I'm very sad and upset.

OK, so now that I wrote this quick post I will go and take some photos to capture the "before" state of another flower bed and work on it for a while.

Then later... I'll get a haircut and highlights, how's that for a nice Spring day? (I may get a mani-pedi too, we'll see). ;-)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Crazy week of little sleep

Quick update because I need to go to bed.

Last week was pretty crazy! It started with a super intensely packed & exhausting weekend because last Sunday was the day when I cooked dinner for all my students (around 30 people). Everything went well, with the help of my husband (who started coming with me last semester for the first time in five years!), but it was stressful and tiresome.

Then, Monday night (with no sleep!) and Tuesday came along and the week got crazier. One great thing about last week is that we ended up having two "game nights" with friends who used to live here, but who were living further South for the past three years and are getting ready to move to Tulsa, OK over the summer. We got together on Monday and Wednesday and it was great.

Thursday was an ok day (yoga, some shopping, and a dinner date with my husband to celebrate our 27 years together), then, I had to pack for over 36 hours away. I left on Friday morning and had to leave straight from work to drive for several hours to meet up with my son who was attending a music festival with his school.

We stayed overnight with a good friend who moved from Brazil to the U.S. three years ago, but who we rarely see. They live in the house where my brother-in-law and his family used to live and it was the first time we stayed there for the night after they moved to Egypt three years ago. It was fine, much better than the first time we visited back in 2014, that felt really weird and sad.

Since I see my friend so rarely, we stayed up until 1 am talking about our sons, our families, etc... we literally had years to catch up on. On Saturday my son had a concert in the morning with his band and the bell choirs (10 of them!) and then I got to spend a couple more hours with my friend before visiting my aunt and uncle. That visit was fun because my cousin's son, who is almost three years old and the cutest boy ever, was there and L, my 12 year old, enjoyed playing with him.

We stopped at a couple of grocery stores on the way and didn't get home until 11 pm! Then, K & I had so much to catch up on (especially with all of my conversations with friends and family over the weekend) that we were talking until nearly 4 am. And today I did three loads of laundry and had to spend a lot of time in the soccer field with my son (last Sunday he had to go with his coach).

Needless to say, we're exhausted! I took a short nap earlier this evening, that's why I'm still up, but I'm headed to bed now! 

P.S. I'm really mad that I didn't realize there was a new SNL last night, so I missed it. It's ok, though, because I was talking to my husband. TV is not as important as family!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

You'll never guess...

... how I spent this day, the "happiest Tuesday of the year" ;-)  It's easy to guess that I did NOT, in fact go to the Farmer's market as I was looking forward to.

I also could NOT sleep in for a few hours to catch up on sleep I decided to lose to see the new Brontë film. I turns out I had to go to the Brazilian consulate to notarize a copy of my Brazilian ID card so we can send it express to Brazil so that the process of figuring out my father-in-law's estate can proceed! :-(

It was just an extremely long day. Instead of driving for my regular maximum of 3h, I drove for 5+ (total), but I did get to go to IKEA!! And to a Brazilian store and also got to run some other errands.

I didn't get back home until 8:30 pm, though, so I'm trying to work some before I go to bed. I'm ready to crash, but I can't yet! :-(

To Walk Invisible

This was beautiful! I'm buying the blu-ray. You can see it for free for five more days in the PBS Masterpiece website. So sad as well, but so beautifully done. Their lives must have been even harder. Somehow the way it ends so unexpectedly made me cry more than I thought I would! I just had to stay up until past 4 am to see it. So gorgeous and moving. I need to go to Haworth now to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Bucket list item!

The Absolutely Happiest Tuesday of the Year!!!!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year because the Tuesday Farmer's Market it back!!

Our local market is open year-round on Saturdays, but I don't shop or work on that day, so I look forward to April to November when I can enjoy the Market on Tuesdays!

Well, I hope I can get there tomorrow today before it ends, because I'm still up, watching the new Masterpiece about my beloved Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Brontë (I even named my youngest son after a Wuthering Heights character. ;-) I'll blog about it later.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Blame it all (blog hiatus mostly) ;-P on the birthday boy

My son turned 15 two and a half weeks ago and I didn't even blog about it! Or about anything else, for that matter.

The main reason is that with him constantly gaming and editing videos, I have hardly ANY access to our only desktop! :-(  And I don't like to use my macbook pro that needs urgent file purging to work ok. (and a secondary reason is that I have NOT installed any other blogging apps on my phone, so I continue not to be able to blog from the phone! :-( :-( :-(

So... what have you missed? TONS ;-P

If we're friends on Facebook, you'll know that on International Women's Day my husband and I went to DC to get our Brazilian passports and we ended up participating of a Women's March protest in front of the White House. That was awesome because minutes before the march started pouring in, we were there looking at that place and feeling horribly dismal and upset.

Too bad we came back home to find out that our youngest son needed a new passport too! What a failure!! Sigh...

I wanted to blog more about my "Volunteering" Spring Break, so I'll leave it at that for now (many many hours of volunteering, but, thankfully, also three fitness classes [two yoga], YAY! Conversely, I haven't been to one in two weeks [since then!! oh no!!]).

I still cannot believe that the craziness had taken various hits and that we have a temporary break and some respite from the constant anguish and despair. I'm indescribably relieved that the second banned was blocked even before it went into effect and there are no words to describe my relief about the health care replace failure. I literally want to cry for joy.

The hard part is that we still don't know what is going to happen in the rest of this presidency, there's no predicting it. :-(  Have you been reading/following Dan Rather's Facebook updates? It's the BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED since the election. Reading what that man writes keeps me sane (yesterday's post is most excellent, and a great "sample"). I like him better than Michael Moore who can be a little incendiary and who's been very very quiet lately... don't know why. I hope his health is OK.

Ok, what else? Well, there's some more, but maybe it's worth saving the juiciest bits for stand-alone posts.

Dirty confession (that also deserves its own post, but is too silly not to mention): I have become a  LuLaRoe legging semi-addict, but I'm working on quitting, slowly, but surely. Sigh...

I'll end here, this is a jumbled and long enough post to break the hiatus, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A rare day

Edited on 4/4/17 3:17 am
Today is a rare day, [because] I get to teach about my dissertation subject. One of the three authors [I wrote about]. Who knows when I'm going to do that again?

That's why it's bittersweet. Nice, and at the same time heartbreaking.

Today I thought I want to write a book about this author, and I don't care whether I'm not supposed to, but I will try.

I don't want to be silenced by a system that prevents me from being a true scholar. {later rephrasing of same sentence}: I want to do it [write a book] to defy a system that prevents me from being a true scholar and sees me as less. I want to make mine the slogan nevertheless, against all odds, she persisted.

Note: I spoke this to my phone, sentence by sentence (that's why the first line of the fourth paragraph was accidentally the first line when I "published" this) on the first 10 minutes of my drive to work (before I got on the highway. I never do this on the highway).

Then I cried for about five minutes and I was really depressed for a few days afterwards. O 3/6, I started writing a post titled "Blame it on the STUPID USELESS PAIN INFLICTING PhD (again, and again, and again)" which began "I hate hate hate my life right now." And right then I did, for a few anguished moments. I even had a sad [to me] conversation with my husband about all this, and then, after a few days, the negative, dark feelings dissipated... for now at least. It's hard, but only unbearably painful for a few fleeting moments. I have lots of other things in my life. More later.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ethnic Cleansing, or "Make America *White* Again"

The days following the election, I was extremely upset and spent every waking minute interacting with equally stressed out friends on social media and reading a select few news stories and analyses (while avoiding most media contact, even listening to NPR, like the plague).

It didn't help my mood that my generally calm and collected "geeky scientist" husband was beside himself. I think I've never seen him so distressed and angry in our 26 years together! And the worst part is that as election week went on he became progressively more distraught (he couldn't even get much sleep). I was relieved that after a couple of weeks, the negativity wore off slowly (while I continued to be distressed). Now, over three months later he -- the optimist who most criticizes my "realistic pessimist" outlook on life -- is very pessimistic.

What K was most upset about soon after the election is something that still worries him exceedingly: It is the fact that this so-called-president (henceforth I'll call "it" #45) had and still has the support of millions of people and because of that, there is no way to stop #45. Unless an overwhelming majority turns against #45 it will be hard for anything to be done to remove "it" from power (at least that's what my husband thinks).

The second thing that K kept saying is that #45 and his cronies figured out a way to prevent the seemingly inevitable "statistical takeover" that was going to take place because Hispanics and other current "minority" groups were slowly turning into a majority. K said to me on the Thursday after the election that if #45 really did remove millions of Hispanics and other brown skinned immigrants from the country he would succeed in making it "whiter" and, possibly, make the conservative movement stronger.

In the "lull" that followed the election, K stopped talking about this anti-immigrant/ anti-brown people stance that bothered him, but now that we've seen that #45 is really serious about his pursuit of what can be described as a new kind of "ethnic cleansing" we are upset again. If he succeeds in this and many other changes he wants to put in place, the country will change dramatically.

And now there's talk of spending tons of money on defense and cutting many other programs -- including the tiny budget for various art and humanities initiatives, I'm sure. I mentioned war in my post from a week ago (it seems that Tuesday is the day I blog now) ;-P and war is so terrible and deadly -- but very lucrative to a few people.

I don't know how we're going to survive #45. He is poised to cause so much harm (and already has). I can hardly think of anything else -- I wish I could blog about more light-hearted topics... but I'm having a hard time to do that right now.

OK, I'll just say that I watched most of the Victoria Masterpiece Theater marathon this past Sunday and now I'm hooked and have a new winter "pleasure" to replace Downtown Abbey. I stayed up well past midnight last night just reading about Victoria and Albert and other related things. So fascinating!! And historic! I want to be motivated to read more history so I can enjoy more my future visits to Europe. Especially to Germany and it's castles. I LOOOOOOOOOVE Germany! (well, maybe it's a DNA thing, I'm pretty much 50% German).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The (Relative) Calm Before the Storm is Practically Over/ people like us

I'm bracing myself, I really am. Just waiting for the next horror to unfold and make me anxious and upset.

I meant to post this yesterday, when the new policies on immigration weren't out yet and I could have written that the calm was almost, but not yet, over. Sigh... this new  "regime" of #45 is relentlessly upsetting (I was going to create a new and unfortunate #45 label for the blog, but I already have "Unprecedented times," so I'll keep that instead). 

The worst part about all of this is the utter despair that it's not a far fetched possibility that there will be EIGHT LONG YEARS of this nightmare. And by then it may be too late to reverse the damage done to the country (whose democracy and prominent position in the world may be very well be destroyed), to the environment, to the lives of countless people who will be hurt by the immigration laws and the healthcare act's demise. People will die. And, there may be war, an even worse prospect.



Why would anyone want to go to war? This horrible man Bannon, which SNL displays as death personified, wants to do just that. Some people profit from wars, other people actually enjoy inflicting suffering on others they disagree with. (Shudder)

How will this country be in four or eight years? How will the world be?

By the way it's going, it seems that in this country truth and facts won't matter, racial and gender tensions will become worse and horrible, the rich will be richer still and the poor more destitute. What else?

The past two weeks have given me some small, but much needed respite, but I wish I could have hope! :-( There is no hope. Even my optimist husband is gloomy, upset and discouraged. He refuses to watch SNL because he doesn't think it's funny. He watches Steven Colbert, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyers instead.

I read those new memes on facebook, the one about the "I will not work with him" to do this and that and this long list of horrible setbacks which you're supposed to cut and paste and add your name to the end; or the one about the country "being great again" because everyone is mobilized, getting informed, calling their representatives, etc. and I just feel worse and worse.

There are news and calls to protest events and countless appeals for signing this or that petition show up, and I am truly thankful that nearly everyone I'm friends with on FB feels that same way. And then these horrible articles are published about how we're isolating ourselves and only interacting with like-minded people and not trying to understand the other side.

How can we understand the other side, though? HOW?? I'm truly afraid to talk to most people in my church for fear that we have next to nothing in common except for our religious denomination/faith. I cringe to think that one of my son's teachers (soon to be homeroom teacher for 8th grade in September, my older son's teacher in both 7th and 8th grade) went to the inauguration. I don't want to talk to him about any of these things. How can I? It's too personal for me, being an immigrant and all... I don't feel like I can talk to anyone without breaking down into sobs and making them really uncomfortable. But maybe I should? I probably wouldn't cry, I would just sound so angry and upset I'd be incoherent and unable to formulate good arguments. I just can't bring myself to talk about politics with anyone. Sigh...

people like you and me

Last, but not least, a few quick words about the three families from Aleppo we are sponsoring. I have met one of them, the young man in his early 20s who came with his parents and whose apartment we helped rent. He came to church twice and sat with our family. The day I met him, it was hard, very hard, not to cry. I quietly followed him and my husband to our seat, almost biting my lip, crying inwardly. Just thinking about the other two family and their 7 children makes me want to sit down and cry and cry at the outrageous thought of not helping such families, such people.

Such a handsome young man. Dark hair, black rimmed glasses, shy and quiet, doesn't speak much English. His family is Yazidi, BTW, that's why he came to visit our church, the other families are Muslim.

I got some snippets of news from our friend who lives in their same town and has visited often the two families and taken them to the doctor/hospital, etc. (the 2 year old girl of the youngest couple was having lots of trouble with her legs, I don't know if there was a diagnosis yet). The older couple who has four children, twin boy and girl (14), two boys (11 or 12 and 9) probably had their application for refugee status granted because the middle boy has autism. After they'd left Aleppo to Turkey 4 years ago the children had never been able to go to school. The autistic boy had actually never been to school. After all their paperwork and immunizations got straightened out, they went to school and the boy with autism loved it. So much so that the next day he got up and got dressed on his own and was next to the door waiting for the bus.

If that doesn't make you want to cry, I don't know what will.

Then, two weeks ago my friend posted that one of the twins and the boy with autism had gotten hearing aids and had been able to hear their mother's voice clearly for the first time. The fathers are working and our pastor helped them buy a car so they can drive to work. The 20+ year old young man doesn't like it here because it's very rural and there's nothing going on -- social life is intense in Middle Eastern countries. I hope that after they get work and apply for their residency they can move to a place that will suit them better.

One of the things I hated the first day that young man came to church, about 12 days after their arrival and 7 days after the travel ban was issued was how several people kept telling him: "You came just in time! You're so lucky!" Why did they need to point that out? Sigh...

Maybe I'll get to meet the other families this coming weekend. I'll let you know more about it when I can. And soon the next storm will start, that will impact the lives of many more people like them -- like us. :-(

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thanks to my kid I know more Grammy music!

Of course I like Adele or Beyonce on my own, but thanks to him I also know and have listened to music from Lukas Graham, John Legend, and Sia regularly when he plays it in the car or around the house. And since last year I started checking out the Grammy music & watching the show (I'd never really done it before). I think it's fun to be more in tune to the music that has been popular in the past year and it's much easier to do that when you have a teenager in the house. ;-P

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Blogging in 2017...

... is lonely and discouraging.

But blogging is one of "my favorite things!!!" :-(

BTW the label/song-nod, is wrong because I have A LOT of favorite things, really, not a few by any stretch of the imaginations... shall I list?
... traveling!! (planning trips, being out and about)
... my sons & my family
... colors! (greens and aqua and rainbow colors, rainbow things, rainbow anything!)
... clothes and shoes and cute things
... music
... cooking for people! (my "drug of choice," remember?)

yeah... and much more.

Back to blogging in 2017, though... sigh... it's frustrating to say the least. I made so many friends through blogging! It literally changed my life (I'd like to a post from 2006 -- ELEVEN years ago! -- but why? I know how to find it, nobody will read)

And now... all that I can do to keep up with these dear and thoughtful friends I made is to hang out in STUPID Facebook! :-( And since I hardly ever post there, those friends, who no longer read my blogs or any blogs (I'd like to hope, 'cause it's very sad to think they still read other people's but just got tired of mine or something, it hurts my feelings, not to mention my self-esteem which is already pretty bad!) don't know what's going on with me much.

I blog for myself though, the same way that I still keep journals -- a daily one, writing a few lines about each day (generally once a week on Saturdays) and sometimes on another one I can write more. I re-read my journals regularly and I also re-read old blog posts quite often. It is a wonderful way to keep track of one's life -- and also the lives of my sons to a lesser degree (given that I've never blogged much about them, as I wrote on this lovely post from 2013).

So, yeah... I'm glad Jamie is still around (and sent me this most beautiful, absolutely GORGEOUS shawl I have yet to blog about) as well as What Now? Thank you SO MUCH to both of you for still reading and commenting!

I love to blog and I'll keep on doing. I just don't know if I can trust Google not to delete Blogger. I need to back up this blog somewhere safe and I hope Google will let us know ahead of time if it decides to shut this free service (for which I am very thankful) down.

I want to give an update on the refugees, since What Now? asked, but it will have to be another post. I should be grading now, but I'm blogging, obviously. Classic procrastination tool!