Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sixteen Years Ago Today

It feels like even longer, but it's been "only" sixteen years...

I was almost 19 then (my birthday is in July), I had just started college at the largest university in Brazil, Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and for the first time in my life I was going to school comparatively far from home and on my own. I took an overcrowded public bus every morning and it took me almost two hours to get there, the trip back was shorter and less crowded.

One early afternoon (my classes were only in the morning) I was at the bus stop waiting for the bus to go home, and while I waited I was people-watching as usual. After taking the bus for one month at the same stop roughly at the same time each day I was already familiar with most people who were there. Someone new showed up that day though, and he was cute. Wearing glasses and clutching a blue duffel bag one one hand and a booklet on the other, he was busy studying while waiting for the bus. Hmmm, I thought, he must go to the same university I go to. I also thought he was very serious and that I loved guys with glasses.

My bus came and I was the first one to get in, so I was rewarded with the only empty seat available. I was surprised to see him getting on the same bus, and I stared at him from my seat in the back as he continued to read his booklet while standing up on the bus. He blushed a few times. Before my stop, when the bus was already half empty and he was seated, I got up and walked towards the front. It was then that I realized that my friend had also boarded the same bus and I started talking to her - this made me less shy and as he got up I asked whether he went to college at USP (which he did, as a physics major) and we introduced ourselves. As it turned out we were getting off at the same stop because he had just started teaching in the same school where my parents worked. We saw each other later that same day and had a great conversation. I knew it then, he was the one I was looking for.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

They're Coming!

My father- and mother-in-law had no trouble getting their work visa this morning in the American Consulate in Brazil. We haven't talked to them yet (they should be flying back home now), but one of my husband's aunts got in touch with us via internet to tell us the good news. I'm really happy for them because this opportunity was exactly what they were hoping for, but never even dared to dream about. We should see them in May when we go to Massachusetts, we'll be with both our mothers for Mother's Day, something that happened only once before, in 1996.

My husband will be with them tomorrow, since he's flying to Brazil tonight. It's been crazy around here with the preparations for his trip, and he hasn't packed his suitcase yet, in spite of the fact that his flight is in a couple of hours. I deeply loathe the days that precede a trip, we can never plan ahead, there are always last minute things to take care of.

He's going to do the concurso or competition to get a teaching job at a public university in Brazil, and, as some of you may recall, if he passes, we've decided to go back. That's so scary!! I mean, it's been 10 years in this country and I guess no matter how ofter we have been back it'll still be a great shock to go back there to live. I try focus of the positive aspects of such a return: the great friends we and our sons have there, the possibility or building our own house in the future (this won't be possible right away because we're kind of broke right now, and it saddens us to go back in this situation), living close to my parents, and many other things. My in-laws will be here in the U.S., though, my husbands parents and two of his brothers. My two nephews (one to be born in June) - the only ones I have, my sons' only cousins...

Oh well, it's no use thinking about it this way before it happens. I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, it's getting warmer and I'm delighted that Spring's finally here. I may post some more pictures soon. We may even go to D.C. this weekend to see the Cherry Blossoms, since the peak is supposed to be tomorrow and they'd still be beautiful on the weekend. I'll let you know.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cool New Enterprising Brazilian Mama

I had the BEST time at the conference this weekend, and I need to blog about it; but I want to write a nice, well thought-out post, so I'll leave it for later. For now, let me link to something, and maybe I can even "win" this competition and get the new template or look for my blog that I want so much .

Image Hosted by
So, last week I found some Brazilian (mama) bloggers (they blog in Portuguese, so I won't link to their blogs right now); BUT, one of them, Zee, just started her own business, both a store called Maria Joaninha (Joaninha means ladybug in Portuguese) that sells beautiful and unique hand-crafted objects, and a web-design place called Zee's Designs. Check them out, and maybe I'll get the "blogspot extreme makeover" as a result! :)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Ten Commandments of Academic Writing According to My Advisor

I. Thou shall not use parenthetical remarks (“say it or leave it out”).

II. Thou shall not use exclamation marks!

III. Thou shan’t use contractions.

IV. Thou shall not overuse: colons by any means.

V. “Thou shall not quote too much – thy own voice needs to be heard.”

VI. Thou shall use commas properly (before last item in a list, after introductory and non-restrictive clauses)

VII. Thou shall use semi-colons properly (in compound sentences with no conjunction).

VIII. Thou shall not use passive voice (in English everything has to be very active : )

IX. Thou shall spell numbers 10 or less.

X. Thou shall not commit any grammatical errors, particularly not consistent, repetitive ones because thy writing is expected to be perfect, even if it is a first draft.

Some of these things are done differently when we write in Portuguese (particularly punctuation). So, even though many people have told me up to this point (10 years in the U.S.) that my English was excellent, I have to think again, it’s not. I’m just another foreigner who cannot write proper English. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

A girl's got to vent sometimes. Particularly if she's a graduate student. Even more if she's an ABD.

P.S. This post has been in the works since I received my first annotated chapter in the mail last year. I just felt that if I took all this stuff too seriously I just wouldn't be able to continue, so I tried to look at it from a slightly humorous point of view... (deep sigh)

MLA, Here I Come!

Nothing like a day after the other, today I received great news that my paper (the second abstract I submitted this year) was accepted for a panel at the MLA (Modern Language Association), the super competitive major conference in literature and languages in this country. I am thrilled.

Tomorrow morning I get to present at another major conference, but I'm a bit frazzled about this one, especially because I need to drive for over an hour to get there and back. For three days in a row. I'll be able to get together with three other students from my department, which will probably be fun. Tomorrow night I'll try to post to tell you how my presentation went.

In other news, I finally got two chapters back from my advisor in the mail, and I was not too happy with the comments. His feedback (from today and past chapters) prompted me to write another blog post, because I really needed to vent for a bit.

Oh, and before I forget, my brother accepted the job offer from China!! My parents are quite worried, but I am excited for him and my sister-in-law. I think it'll be a great experience for them. Now I have to post the other one...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Suspenseful News

My brother, who is a forest engineer, has been looking for a new job since he defended his master's thesis last November just talked to me online (through Skype) and told me he has two job offers. One we already knew about - it's in the state of Espirito Santo (above Rio de Janeiro) in Brazil and the other...
is in China!! I'm dumbfounded. I haven't told my parents yet, they're blissfully ignorant downstairs, but as soon as I post this, I'll let them know. My mom will be totally shocked, I'm sure.

He has to respond to the first job offer (in Brazil) until 5 pm tomorrow (which is 3 pm here), that's why he got in touch with the people in China who will also officially offer him a job until then. My SIL is coming from the city of Sao Paulo where she's been working lately (they live 2 hours from the capital) so they can talk it over tonight, and they want to discuss with us as well which would be the best decision. I think they're considering going to China!!!

But wait, there's more! I was waiting to share this here (I don't know exactly why), but now is a good moment: my father and mother-in-law have been invited to come and work here in the U.S. (in the Boston area) -- this is still quite unbelievable to the whole family. Only one of my husband's brothers is in Brazil right now, the other two live here in the U.S. already, one in Texas and the other in Maryland, so this is ideal for the family. We're waiting for their visa interview, which will be next week on the 29th, I guess that's why I hadn't written about this before, I was waiting for it to be a certainty.

Now... this makes it much harder for us to decide to go back to Brasil doesn't it? More on all this later, OK?

Edited to Add: My mom started crying immediately. She can't even bear to think of the idea of having the two of children far away. Right now my brother lives ony 1 1/2 hours from her.

P.S. I have already uploaded 7 flower pictures, but I want to include 2 more before I publish the "Spring" post. (this was at 4 pm)
Editted to add: I uploaded the flower post at 7:30, but kept it with the 2 pm time so it would be below this one. Check it out!)

Happy Spring!

Either today or yesterday is/was the beginning of Spring in the Northern hemisphere. Therefore, I want to greet Spring by posting pictures of my own garden's crocuses and some flowering trees I photographed this weekend in Maryland. I also was inspired to post pictures of my crocus bulb flowers (which I planted in 2004) because of the 850 bulbs that Jody from Raising WEG planted last year and which have started to bloom as the pictures she posted in her blog show.

The yellow ones came up first. The first picture was taken on 3/1.

The other ones started blossoming soon (the second and third pictures are from 3/11).

On 3/16, after some hot days, the flowers were in full bloom, but starting to wilt, as you can see on the last crocus picture as well.

These two pictures show the crocuses on 3/11 and 3/16:

I took the pictures below this past weekend in Maryland.

We're planning to go to D.C. to see the Cherry Blossom, we've only gone once and it's beautiful, but I didn't have a digital camera yet. My uncle lives there, and we may also meet up with my brother and sister-in-law. If we go I'll certainly post pretty pictures here :)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lovely Weekend

We had a lovely "long weekend." My husband spent last week in Baltimore at a conference and the boys and I were able to join him on Thursday night because his lab partner/roomate left early. My parents decided to stay home (even though they would be without a car) because of the cold weather and also because they could also take a break from helping us with the house and caring for the boys.

The hotel had a beautiful view of the Inner Harbor (even though our room overlooked the other side, the Northern part of the city - I forgot to take pictures of that side). The pictures here were taken from the window by the elevators in the 25th floor (the one we were staying).

We took the boys to the hotel pool on Thursday night and Friday morning, Kelvin even went into the sauna with me for a bit! Then we went out for lunch and drove to my brother and sister-in-law's house in the afternoon.
We hadn't had the opportunity to hang out since our 10 days at the beach over the holidays in Brazil, so we had a lot to talk about. It was great fun -- the boys had a blast with their cousin's toys (my nephew, who's 17 months old is only 4 months younger than Linton) and their cousin was delighted to be with his adored older cousins.

Of course the lovely weekend meant a break in dissertation work, which is not good. I haven't been working well, I get distracted very easily (even with work, but more often than not with non-dissertation related stuff, obviously) and I have just been lazy and not writing much, which makes me feel terrible. I don't have set daily goals, just weekly deadlines of things to send to the advisor every Friday, and I have been late with those for two weeks at this point. To make matters worse, he is super busy right now, and hasn't sent me back his revisions for the 2nd draft of chapter 2 which he received last month and the early draft of chapter I sent this month - this does not help at all! Well, let me stop complaining and try to get back to work. I'll be back some other time with spring flower pictures for you, OK?

Thursday, March 16, 2006


I almost forgot to blog about this, but the rejection letter from that "accidental application" arrived two weeks ago. I didn't mind it at all, never even gave it a second thought. It just wasn't meant to be. My husband (who applied to a position in the same "smallish state university") hasn't heard anything yet, but we think it's also a "no."

I had another rejection this week, for a conference paper, this one disappointed me a little, even though I wasn't too hopeful. I did send another abstract to a different panel at the same conference and I'm hoping the second one won't be rejected, even though I know there are great chances it will -- it's just too competitive to get a presenting spot at the MLA, for those of you who know what I mean. My first MLA rejection was the saddest for me, even though I knew I had no chance at all...

Sometimes I do feel bitter (particularly about the very rarefied "niche" of Luso-Brazilian studies), and think that certain events, certain publications are just like a "private club" thing (that stem from all the requirements for tenure). I am extremely bitter about several things in academia, but lately I've been so enamored of "pure research," so excited about the writers I'm analyzing for the dissertation that I have this great feeling of "yes! this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." And I totatlly mean it. I love to do scholarship for its own sake, and I plan to always research, go to conferences, publish papers, it is what I love to do, and that's why perhaps academic life is the life for me. On the other hand... I have to be realistic and not even hope too much getting a job, and I'm serious. The tenure-track job my husband applied to last year? The rejection letter said there had been 250 applicants. And it was not even a top research school or anything! The prospects are just too... words fail me now, dim? daunting? slim?

Anyway, we're also applying for a small school in California that we have a personal interest in. That might happen, which would mean lots of changes in our lives and very soon (this summer/ fall). At this point, we're just looking at every single opportunity. As you may know, my husband is "competing" (yes, it's a competition, with a written test and everything) for two jobs in Brazilian universities. The first one is in April, so he'll have to go to Brazil for a week then (and we get to pay the expenses, [sigh!]).

So many things, so many possibilities, and who know what'll happen. One thing I know, though. For "acceptance" to take place there has to be rejection first. That's why I know we're on the right track, we're trying, taking the first steps, and they won't be in vain.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My First Online Publication! - Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network

As if I weren't busy enough, I decided to accept a lovely invitation from Corey Heller to write a column for the Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network's monthly newsletter. Of course it is a wonderful opportunity to sharpen my writing skills and I am in great company, since two of the five "contributing editors" are fellow bloggers: Alice from Jabberlingual and Clo from Multi Tongue Kids.

My column is titled One Family One Language, and this month I share my own story of biligualism (well, OK, multilingualism). I hope you enjoy it! And let me know what you think in the comments...

Check out also Alice's "Multicultural Melange and Clo's Eurapsody.

PS. I'm wondering if anyone read the last post... I'm going to have to ask some fellow bloggers the template questions directlly, because I really need to know about that :)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"New Mamas on the Blog"

This must be one of the weeks I posted most often in the short and rather uneventful "life" of this blog, and I'm still not done! I guess that between the dissertation chapters, the paper abstracts, the conference and publication papers, and the blog posts, I'm really getting into the habit of writing, and that's good. I think this month will be one of the months I will write more in my life... and I want it to continue this way. I've always wanted to write, ever since I was 13 years old, but I digress...

I've been doing all kinds of things to the blog lately (besides posting tons of pictures of cakes and parties :) , I don't know if you noticed...

First, I added a Flickr badge (there on the right, above my blogroll), something I had wanted to do for a while* . Then, a Goals and To-do list (below archives, above flikr badge), and today I updated the blogroll and added the "New Mamas on the Blog" category, even though I'm planning to branch out and have more non-parent folks in my blogroll :) I will eventually move these blogs to other categories, since they already belong to one or more, but I want to add new blogs now and then, so a new blog category comes in handy. (oh yeah, some things are going wrong too, like the first post of my "Previous posts" which just looks weird - I have no idea how to fix that!)

Next, I think I may change the blog template. I love green, but I think there's a bit too much of it in this one. A template like Scrivener's (with green on the side, but the writing on white) would probably be easier to read. What do you think? For those more web savy than me out there (or those who have already changed templates) I have an important question: If I change the template, what will be lost? I haven't customized this template that much, if at all, I just added the links in the blogroll, Flickr badge, goals list, and tried to put my 100 things posts in the profile box (it didn't quite work as you can see). Anyway, is it OK to just switch templates in blogger?

After I do that then I want to have a new "masthead" (I guess that's what the part where the blog name and description go, right?) - inspired by Scrivenings again. I'll use my own pictures and present the different options to my readers to give their opinions like he did - that should be fun! One day... I hope to purchase a blog design (though I'm such a control freak that I don't know if I'll like it if I can't give a lot of input into the process - I truly wish I could do it myself!).

OK, I guess I'm really in a writing groove this week, I just don't want to stop writing. But stop I must, or nobody will ever read this :)

P.S. As for the Birth story post - it's not completely "done." I mean, there are still many things to tell, particularly about the incredibly hard first weeks, and I want to get to those sometime, but not now. It'll be a breasfeeding related post, so you know.

* Most photos are of flowers and plants, many from Brazil, 'cause I need to think through what kind of pics of me and my kids I'm willing to connect to the blog - there are several there though, if you want to take a peek.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Happy Birthday My Son!

Four years ago today, at 4:14 pm our first son was born. It was with great clarity that I received him into this world and that, directed by the doctor, I pulled him up to my chest by his armpits once I had pushed him out. I was immediately surprised by my husband’s convulsive weeping, and a bit sad that I myself did not feel like crying at all like one of those mothers crying and smiling in births shown on TV. I felt only utterly relieved that now there was no more pain (delivering the placenta was completely painless) and even though I was delighted to meet my son, I was too drained to feel any “glowing” emotions.

The Pregnancy

I always wanted to have a baby, I was the kind of little girl and teenager who would play with babies for hours on end, I just loved babies. After I met my future husband, we waited until after we finished college to get married and we knew we’d have to wait to have children, because we wanted to live abroad for a while first. After we went abroad (here to the U.S., read more here) came graduate school, then, we wanted to travel to Europe, so wait we did, for seven years. One day, 3 years into graduate school (2 for me), back in early 2000 I was taking a shower when I had a great idea – “Honey”, I screamed “since we aren’t going to the West Coast with your parents this summer, how about going to Europe? And then we can have a baby next year!!” We booked our tickets that March and went late in May for a month. It was an awesome trip, and I went off birth control pills even before we left. I knew I would likely have problems to conceive because I never had regular periods and had been diagnosed with mild PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) when I was 15 (I had yearly ultrasounds from then on, which I hated because of the full bladder requirement). Because of the aforementioned irregular periods/ cycles, I did many home pregnancy tests, but none were ever positive. In April 2001 I went for my yearly gynecological exam and mentioned my PCOS to the doctor who was very nice and gave me a referral me to the OB-GYN even though technically it hadn’t been a full year since we had started trying. I saw the other doctor in July (by then it had been1 year) who was ready to prescribe Clomid, I would just have to wait for my period to come. In August we traveled to Brazil for my brother’s wedding, and I even bought Clomid at our friend’s pharmacy. We didn’t come back to the U.S. until the first week in September and it was then that I decided to pee on a stick again (I hadn’t done so in Brazil because I was always with my parents or in-laws, and if I went into a pharmacy to get one, because they’d see it). So on Sept. 7, 2001, a Friday night, I did so, and there was a really, really bright second pink line. I first panicked then was overwhelmed with joy.

Getting seen by a doctor was another story. I had no idea of how far along I was, and that made me frantic – the first time around is usually fraught with questions and worries, and it was no different for me. First I had do an “official” urine pregnancy test at the university clinic, but I needed to schedule a doctor’s visit for that, since I needed to see a doctor for 2 minutes to be given a piece of paper with “positive” written on it, and for a referral to the OB-GYN. The appointment was for a week later, and the OB’s? Four weeks later. I was incensed! I told the OB’s secretary that I had been seen the year before for infertility – why would I need a referral? She responded that it was a different diagnosis. As if infertility and pregnancy had nothing to do with each other… On October 4 I was finally seen by a midwife (I was puzzled by that, I wanted a “doctor,” it would be years before I realized that if I had known better, and given the choice I would rather have chosen the care of a midwife throughout my pregnancies and birth – that was not to be the case because in my 3rd visit with her I was informed that the university clinic would no longer have midwives). She listened to my worries about not being able to date the pregnancy and was able to get me to do an ultrasound that very same day! I cried when we listened to the heartbeat in the Doppler and was fascinated by the ultrasound, which showed that I was already 15 weeks along! I had been pregnant for over two months and been blissfully unaware, since I didn’t have any symptoms. We ended up having 4 ultrasounds, because my son (we found out it was a boy in the second sonogram) had enlarged kidneys – but this turned out not to be a problem.

The pregnancy was great and in the seventh month we even went to London for a week, because I had a conference to attend in Belgium, that way we got to know most of Europe before we had a baby, which was one of our goals! We took the childbirth classes that the hospital offered, I took the breastfeeding class, and even though I don’t like hospitals too much we were lucky because our small hospital (in “NoHo”, MA) had a great birthing center, and the childbirth educator was a lovely woman, who said that the hospital, unlike other hospitals supported her philosophies (for more natural births). I wanted to go completely natural, but I never did a formal birth plan, mainly because I didn’t want to be frustrated if it went wrong we just scribbled some notes on the back of an envelope on our way to the hospital.

The Birth

On the night of March 8 when I was 37 weeks pregnant (my due date was March 27) I wrote in my diary at 1 a.m.:
I’d like to say that I’m fully prepared, but there’s no way to be prepared for this – birth, motherhood – responsibility for a son. . . . I need to be calm and above all to have physical and psychological strength for this birth to go well (in what little depends on me – since there are so many things that are beyond my control!). That’s why I’m not even thinking of my “birthing plan,” or “wish list” regarding what I would like to happen. I don’t want to stubbornly insist in something that may not be realized in practice (like not having an epidural [or cesarean]).

Only four hours later, at 5 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I came back to bed my water broke! I had no bag packed to go to the hospital, we had no crib or nursery set up,and my mom had just arrived three days earlier from Brazil with the baby’s whole layette in one of her bags, but I managed to still have a whole session of photos before getting ready to go to the hospital :) (we took bi-weekly pictures of my belly since we found out about the pregnancy). The doctor even called to know whether we were on our way to the hospital or what! We got there around 9 a.m.

In spite of all my worries, I was lucky, very lucky… After I was monitored for the requisite 20-30 minutes (I was 2-3 cm dilated) I was able to go into the bathtub, where I labored in the water for several hours, with the jets on and all. Around noon I had to get out for the doctor to check me – and I did not want to get out of the water at all! I was 5 cm and I went back to the tub, where I remained until 3 p.m. with stronger and stronger contractions. It was painful to get out of there again, but when I got on the bed, I was fully dilated, yay! I pushed for 1h15, watching everything through a mirror. The funny thing was that onceI started pushing, I felt the pain practically stopped, because now it was being “useful” and I said, “Oh, this is easier than I thought it would be, it doesn’t really hurt!” Of course after a while I started getting tired of pushing, and didn’t think it was easy anymore, but the doctor joked that I shouldn’t say this to other women, they might “kill” me for thinking it is/was easy :) I was getting tired and hot, so my husband put a washcloth dipped in ice-water on my forehead (you can see it in the photo above), but eventually the baby descended and crowned, and the doctor asked me to touch his head, which felt a bit strange! As I was pushing him out, the doctor asked me to pull him up to me, and I thought that was great! My mom took pictures of everything (we were not allowed to film it), even though it’s not very “pretty.” I tore a bit, but not too much, but I didn’t feel the stitching, I was busy looking at my baby, holding him after they wrapped him. He was tiny, he weighed 5lb 13oz. (2.236 kg), but he was fine, and technically full term (after 37 weeks).

It was wonderful to give birth. Ater it was done, I felt physically very weak, but I was empowered by the fact that I did it without drugs, that I let my body do what it needed to do (with help from the hot water – I can’t say enough good things about laboring in a hot tub – I only regret not having been able to give birth in the water… among other things, but that’s another story). I think the pain made me more alert, more ready to take in that wonderful moment when I finally met him, the son I had been carrying inside me for almost 9 months, and I welcomed him with open arms, close into my heart.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Link to Wonderful Article on Open Adoption

I've been a huge fan of Dawn at This Woman's Work for almost two years now. Back when I started reading blogs, I stumbled upon her blog one Saturday night and almost stayed up all night reading the whole story of her daughter's adoption (she had just adopted her). I learned so much from her story and felt she was/is incredibly strong to be able to adopt and be so open about it.

I really admire Dawn for her openess, candor, insightfulness, elegance, and altruism among other things. I enjoy not only reading her blog, but also her comments on other's people's blogs (I often read several blogs that she reads), and I highly respect her opinion. I have been able to find several wonderful blogs through her links, and I always stand in awe of how civilized and open some of the heated and very difficult discussions in her blog have been (it's like that in Manuela's Thin Pink Line as well).

Anyway, Dawn just published an article at titled "Open adoption, broken heart" that is beautiful and moving, to say the least. You should go read it right now!

Party Design? Ask My S-I-L!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the cake pictures post, so I decided to follow up with pictures of our party decorations. Tomorrow (oh, probably even later today, I need to link to an awesome article!) there'll be more serious reading here, OK?

If you, like Clo in her lovely comment, thought that I'm good in party decoration and design, think again. My sister-in-law is the really bright one in that department and she helped me decorate for Sunday's party as well as Linton's first birthday party last year. I'm also showing her stunning work for her son's first birthday mega-party last year below.

OK, the train party decoration was the joint late-night (OK, all night :) work of me and my hubby, who arranged the train balloons on the wall.

I made and decorated the cake (last picture in the previous post), but my SIL did the rest. She used an extra table cover (they were from Kelvin's 1st birthday) and cut "ones" on it (for hanging from the ceiling) and from it (for the wall). I thought it was a brilliant idea. The magnetic/white board in the back has the party favors - a magnetic small photo of Linton with his birthdate on it (OK, it was my idea to put it there).

Now, my nephew's party:
My SIL cut and hanged paper streamers on the wall, and the pictures of the bears and other animals on the wall (taken from her son's nursery decoration) she made and colored herself.

She also made the party favor bags herself and this yummy and cute bear cake.

The white cake with the crooked an uncentered name was my responsibility, as well as the cupcakes (those were pretty, though :)

I thought of writing a separate entry about Sunday's party, but if I don't have time, here's a picture of the cake (which I decorated with some help from a friend with the red frosting) and my SIL's great decoration ideas again.

Not only is the name not centered and the letters too thin, but the picture is not centered either (OK, I fully admit it, I am a perfectionist :)

I thought the idea of hanging the two character baloons from the ceiling was just brilliant! I would have tacked them to the wall, which wouldn't make for the great effect achieved by the "depth" of the decoration scheme. I had cut out green letters for his name, but my SIL had the idea of decorating them with red crepe paper with a great effect!

(The party theme was Veggie Tales - I don't think you have those in Europe, do you? - and since I only bought the baloons for the two main characters, Larry, the cucumber, and Bob, the tomato, the colors were red and green, very "Christmas-like.")
Note: The red and green cake "skirts" come from Brazil.

Monday, March 06, 2006

(Kids) Birthday Cakes Revisited

Last week when I was planning for my son's 4th birthday party that took place yesterday I thought it would be fun to post pictures of past birthday cakes of my sons, most of which I decorated myself (!). (Reminder: you can always click on the pictures to see them bigger)

For Kelvin's first birthday, I made the cake, but it was decorated by my friend, who has a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in, I don't know, "cooking" or "domestic arts" (from back in the 70s, it's something they don't have anymore)

My mom was here for his 2nd birthday and she made the cake and decorated it just like every birthday cake I ever had - covered with coconut. I made and decorated the cupcakes. The little "candy balls" in the front are typical Brazilian party sweets.

My son loves trains, so last year I took my first foray into frosting cakes, and I went all out, making this train cake I saw in a cake decorating booklet. My husband and I stayed up until 4 am frosting rectangular shaped pieces of cake - which we then threw out after the party because we didn't want anyone to eat the unhealthy food coloring. It was fun, and I think it looked great - it was definitely worth the effort, so check it out from manyy angles!

When Linton turned one I decided to use the same stuff I had saved from Kelvin's first birthday (I LOVE this "acqua" green, and it's also the color we painted Kelvin's nursery when he was born). It doesn't look bad, does it?

I'll let you know more about yesterday's party in another post. It turned out great, everyone came and we had a crowd (17 kids and 15 adults), but everyone enjoyed themselves, particularly the kids.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Of Snow and Snowmen (and Exercise : )

This post is over three weeks too late, since the snowstorm was three Sundays ago (2/12)... but, better late than never, I guess! I am long overdue posting some pictures, so I'll do that here as well. (note: I started writing this post on 2/22 so you can see how long I take to finally get to post things - my desire to post multiple pictures doesn't help much : )

I love snow, it's just so beautiful! For me snow makes all the cold of winter "worth it" in a visible manner, since we don't have it often (not even in Massachusetts we had snow very often during the winter). The first time I saw snow was in October 1996, when I was 24 years old. It was actually only some "flurries," as they call just a slight dusting of snow here, but we took tons of pictures! Then, in time I learned to dread driving in the snow, cleaning our car, walking on slushy, brown and dirty looking streets and sidewalks, and I thought snow was troublesome some times.

Every year, however, I couldn't wait for the first snow to fall. I marked my calendars, wrote down the dates in my diaries, took pictures and filmed sometimes: October 20 1996; early December 1997; December 30 1998; October 13 2000; January 11 2002; OK, I can't remember anything from them on, because becoming a mommy ruins your memory completely!

So, I was very happy when there was a forecast for a big storm, and right on the weekend too, Saturday night and Sunday, when the whole family could be cozy at home! With my husband recovering from surgery, I had to be the one to shovel, so I went outside, already a bit late in the afternoon, as you can see from the pictures, which are a bit dark. I thought it was funny how the snow piled in a gravity defying way in the back of our minivan (the strong winds did that). My son soon joined me and started playing with the shoveled snow.

I really enjoy shoveling snow! Now I have to confess that I am a very sedentary person, I don't exercise at all and feel very ashamed about it because I know my body needs to be active, etc... Thing is, I can't do it on my own, I need to belong to a gym (something I never did in my life) or sign up for classes at the YMCA (we plan to join this summer). The only times I had some kind of regular exercise were the 2 semesters in college I took a gymnastics class, and the two semesters in grad school I signed up for figure skating class (I'm no good at either, but I love these sports). Oh, yeah, I do like hiking, rollerblading, and riding a bike and we'd do those things once in a while in Massachusetts, but never regularly. When I am outdoors doing something useful, however, gardening, shoveling snow, or even mowing the lawn, I just love it!
Too bad those things don't provide enough exercise for me... Can you see how happy I am shoveling my driveway?

One last thing, can you believe I had never made a snowman in my almost 10 years living in the U.S.? First, we lived in rental apartments for 5 of those years and then, we owned a townhouse with only a small cemented patio, and I didn't think it was fun to make a snow man in the lawn at the back of the house. This is the first time we have a front lawn and backyard, so I decided to make a snowman (motivated my the neighbor two doors down who was making one with her daughter). But one was not enough, and I went ahead and made two! My son helped a little bit, but not too much - he really wanted to go and smash the snowmen to the ground because that's what he did all summer with any sandcastles I tried to build, but I told him he COULD NOT do that to my very first snowmen, that they'd melt and he wouldn't need to smash them.

Here we are with the finished snow men, the sun was almost setting then, and it was getting pretty cold!

Two Three more pictures, OK? I have really gone on a picture-posting-binge today (and there'll be more later, probably tomorrow, so watch out!).

Here they are basking melting in the sun of the next day.

This is the view from our front door, on the day of the storm and the next day (I'm just mesmerized... every. single. time. by the beauty of snow and blue skies...)

Did you notice that earlier this week I added a Flickr badge to the blog's sidebar? I'd wanted to do that in ages. I was also able to put a "goals" and "to-do" list there as well...