Sunday, July 30, 2006

That's What Breasts Are For!!!

**Updated** I found 3 more photos!!

Last Friday my lovely husband emailed me the link to this CNN news story and I wish we didn't have to drive to Maryland in the afternoon so I could have blogged about it earlier. My friend Kateri, a fellow lactivist and also a La Leche League Leader wrote an awesome and timely post last Friday. She has updated it with links to other bloggers who went ahead and posted pictures of their breastfeeding babies (or, in AfrIndieMum's case, pumping milk). She ended her post with these words:
Want to make a statement? Leave this indecency where your children might see it. Want to be a real rebel? Post your own indiscreet nursing picture.
I am "a real rebel" so I am gleefully joining her and these other great mothers here by posting some pictures of my sons breast-feeding. I wish I had more, but I don't. In my case, however, "little" is usually quite a bit, so you get four (three are variations on the same pose)! :)

My dad took this photo back in 2002 (I had to scan it - hence the slightly strong colors) a few days after my older son had finally learned to latch on and effectively breastfeed at 1 month and 2 days - this statement is a summarized version of the outcome to our breastfeeding troubles that I have posted about in detail here. We were absolutely thrilled that I could stop pumping and using an SNS (supplemental nursing system) to feed him and my mom and dad marvelled at how perfect and beautiful his latch was and my dad couldn't resist taking a picture. I'm so glad he did!! I was wearing a very discreet nursing bra (from Brazil), but I hardly ever used that particular one again, since it was cumbersome.

When my second son was born in 2004, things were much easier. I nursed my older son throughout the pregnancy, so I hadn't fully stopped producing milk. As a result, my son passed his birth weight when he was only 5 days old. I took these pictures myself when my son was 1 month old and he seemed to enjoy them:

1) Looking at me 2) Looking at the camera!

Maybe the more prudish would prefer the one below because you see less of me (probably not, given the current uproar!). If I cropped the photo, it would actually look pretty similar to that in the magazine cover (except for the smaller boob and tiny bit of nipple :)
So here I register my protest against the negative reactions to the LOVELY photo in the cover of Baby Talk Magazine (which I received for over a year when I had my first baby).
**** more photos!!***
These were taken in December 03 when I was nursing my 21 month old son while pregnant. They are pretty dark because they were taken without a flash - my husband was experimenting. I like the first shot in the mirror - it's pretty creative!

The crib in the background, in case you're wondering, doesn't have one of the sides and was right against our bed (still is). Oh, and you can see that we have a very worn out copy of Dr. Sears' The Baby Book (we bought it new, but we really used it a lot)- it actually broke in two later...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Very Hungry Catterpillars

Two Sundays ago we had lunch at our friends' house in North Philadelphia because they wanted to say good-bye to my parents, who were supposed to leave last Tuesday (7/25) , a week earlier than anticipated (and now they'll probably leave a week or two later than anticipated).

The grilled salmon was awesome and later the kids had a great time in their back yard, which has a small pond with a fountain on it. We were observing their plants (they have several grape vines, a peach tree and many others) when our host found out three huge catterpilars that were devouring his beautiful tomato plants. I was delighted, because I had never seen these kinds of green catterpillars that looks like the one in our most beloved of Eric Carle's books. The catterpillars I have seen growing up in Brazil never looked anything like Carle's catterpillar...I called the kids to see the "very hungry catterpillars," which seemed to be very hungry indeed, given the devastation they had done in the tomato plant. And I went ahead and took tons of pictures, which I now have to share with you, of course!

The devastation:

The culprit:
In action:

Enjoying catterpillars at 6 months:

And 26 months:

More fun catterpillar photos for your enjoyment:
Catterpillars poop, like everyone else:
Do you know how catterpillar poop is shaped? I do:It's like a flower!
(you can click on this and any other photos to enlarge)

Well... enough of catterpillars for now. I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Busy Dissertatin'

I finally sent chapter 5's second draft to my advisor today. The original deadline (I come up with them) was last Friday, but the advisor emailed me that he was extremely busy, so I asked whether I could send it on Sunday or Monday and ended up sending it only today. I was able to add quite a bit, and edit other parts. Now I have to go back to chapters 4 and 6 to try and finish them up (and later 5), but I'm waiting for his feedback on them.

My parents were supposed to go back to Brazil today, but they have a "complimentary" open ticket that they got via someone who works in the airline and right now all flights are absolutely packed and there's no room for them - and probably there won't be in the next two weeks. The problem is that the Brazilian airline Varig went bankrupt (it was actually sold to a Varig subsidiary that transports cargo) and all the people from the Varig flights have to be put in other flights. So... they can't do what they originally planned and I get a few more days/ weeks to work (when I was kind of looking forward to slowing down).

Thankfully, I've been feeling better now and I'm hoping I won't get worse again, so that helps with the dissertation work. I really want to finish and I've got to do it while I have the momentum.

This is a boring, boring post... I know, it's just that I've just spent a whole day writing and reading dissertation related stuff. I have started a post with some cute pictures of the boys and I hope to finish and post it soon, OK?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Updates on Health, Sleep, Blogroll & Blogging

Well, I want to write more about being a mother since this is the most defining and central aspect of my life and one of the main reasons I started blogging. The responses I received in the previous mothering post were just so encouraging to me!! I hope more blogging moms can read it and let me know how they feel about it, though I know the readership of this blog is very small, so every single comment means so much to me, thank you for taking the time and commenting!! Being a mother is a very lonely job most of the time. Oh, and I loved loved loved this sign that I saw today at the Maternal Wellness Center when I went for the LLL meeting:
All mothers are working mothers.
Anyway, I also have a long post to write about how blogging has changed my life in very profound ways that I (and my dear husband) have slowly come to realize, but I won't talk about that now. I just want to do a quick update on how things are going here at "mama(e) in translation" household.

I have continued not to be very healthy and I am buying some books about gastro-intestinal health so I can be well informed when I go see a doctor (I can go straight to a specialist because my crappy health plan doesn't require referrals - I just pay a very high co-pay). I don't want to bore anyone with details, so I promise not to blog too much about my health.

Since I last wrote about this (only last Friday!), there haven't been any more bad nights. My son woke up once and I didn't nurse him, so after he fell back asleep he didn't want to nurse every hour or so and slept until morning. He's still waking up too early, but I know that's normal.

Blogroll & Blogging
You know, I've been always quite reluctant in "supporting" (i.e. reading every day) more famous blogs, and I know that part of it is just this very subtle envious feelings that a little unknown blogger harbors towards the big fish in the pond. Sure, I do read at least a couple more "famous" academic bloggers (Jo(e) and Scrivener - both of whom have close to or over 150,000 visits), though I don't often read the most famous of all, Bitch Phd (I do sometimes check her posts, she's just too brilliant for one not to read). Anyway, roughly once a month I'd go over to dooce and read at least her newsletter to her daughter. I was kind of shocked to learn that now she had become a professional blogger. On Tuesday night, however, I was checking her archives (birth story and first newsletters) and I thought - well, if she writes well and is funny and witty, she totally deserves that!!! And I should go ahead and support her, why not? So I decided to add her to my blogroll.

The very next day - look at what was on the news!! Another blogger fired because of her blog (La Petite Anglaise, who's now gone "off the air"! (Thanks honey for the link!!). I thought the timing was very interesting, though absolutely irrelevant "in the grand scheme of things" as I'm very fond of saying if you haven't yet noticed :) On one day I decide to go ahead and "support" dooce and the next day another relatively well known blogger is "dooced."

My husband is a little concerned, but I know I love blogging and I won't quit just because I am afraid or anything. And I don't even HAVE a job, I'm just going to apply for one and this blog can't be linked to my full name, it only has pictures of me (well, it was the same thing with La Petite Anglaise).

Well, I have to go work on the dissertation (latest deadline coming up tomorrow) and go add dooce to my blogroll! I hope my hits help your family, Mrs. Heather Armstrong! Your daughter's adorable and your writing fun...

As for myself, I'll keep on blogging, no matter what :)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Birth Order and Personality Quiz

Wow, Professing Mama did this quiz and thought it was scarily accurate except for the career paths. Well, in my case, even the career matches (research, at least)! And you may recall that I usually don't like these silly quizzes...

You Are Likely a First Born

At your darkest moments, you feel guilty.
At work and school, you do best when you're researching.
When you love someone, you tend to agree with them often.

In friendship, you are considerate and compromising.
Your ideal careers are: business, research, counseling, promotion, and speaking.
You will leave your mark on the world with discoveries, new information, and teaching people to dream.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Some Thoughts on Mothering (& Mommy wars)

I have been thinking about my feelings and thoughts about being a mother for a long time now.

My sister-in-law's comment to my last post made me think some more and get to write this post. For her, and anyone who's not yet a mother, I have to say that the sleep problems that I was "whining" about in the previous post is a direct consequence of our parenting choices (they were mine and my husband's, not mine alone). Sleeping, as almost any other parenting issue, is a extremely loaded subject. I don't know the exact reference, but one well-known "mommy blogger" was once violently attacked in the comments section because of her admission that she had let her son "cry it out." I think this is absurd, and I try not to be judgemental of other mother's choices although it's not easy, and I admit to having failed at it sometimes.

I think what I want to say here is the following: there are many ways to parent and to mother and I do not think that my own choices are the only ones that are valid or good.

Regarding sleep, for example, I sometimes wish I were able, or "brave" enough, to have "taught" both my sons learn to sleep on their own and alone in their cribs after they were 5 months (usually the age that most especialists agree that, if the baby is healthy, has enough weight, he or she doesn't need to breastfeed all night long anymore and is "technically" ready to sleep through the night). My other SIL did that and it was great for their family, since she couldn't sleep well with the baby on her side. However, I am the kind of mother who cannot bear to hear her babies crying, it just kills me. The only way I was able to bear my oldest son's cries it when I night-weaned him was because I was absolutely convinced that he didn't need to nurse at night anymore at 18 months and that I needed to have uninterrupted nights of sleep at because I was pregnant and already exhausted.

I have been following the "Mommy wars" here in the blogosphere and reading about the books that are published on the subject in the U.S. I haven't been able to read them yet and one of the first things I want to do after I finish the dissertation is to read books about mothering. I have written at least a couple of short posts on the subject and I was stunned by the responses to Chez Miscarriage's post on her brilliantly coined expression "mommy drive-bys" -- I can't link to it because she quit blogging and removed her archives. I really wish she (Getupgrrl) would go ahead and publish the gossiped about book, but I guess she won't. Oh, and did she creat that expression ("mommy drive-bys"), or did it exist before her post?
~ ~ ~ ~

What I wanted to share regarding motherhood is that I have always felt a deep confidence in myself as a mother. I know I have many faults. I am one of the worst procrastinators on earth, I am messy, disorganized, quite lazy at times. I spend too much time online and although I enjoy cooking sometimes I don't do it as often and timely as I should. I have very ambivalent feelings about myself as a scholar -- I am confident in my ability to do "raw" research but not so much in my teaching and my (in)abilities to read critically and have my own ideas and interpretations. I sometimes don't feel too happy about my body (I want to post about that one day). In sum, I am always looking at myself critically.


I am blissfully happy about being a mother and I have always been, from day one. I know I am very fortunate not to have faced post-partum depression and I only had a mild case of "post-partum blues" motivated by my breastfeeding problems. I have never felt any self-doubt regarding my abilities to mother, on the contrary, I have always felt confident that I was the mother my sons needed and if I were just myself (without trying to be a "better person"), that would be enough for them. I have obviously felt nervous and angry with them at times like any other mother, but generally these situations come and go fairly quickly. I felt, for instance, extremely mad at my youngest son when he was a newborn and would cry in the middle of the night or early morning for no apparent reason when all I wanted to do was sleep, and although I felt a bit guilty for having those feelings, I knew they were normal and would soon melt away when I was less tired and able to enjoy the baby more fully.

Apart from breastfeeding, which I feel very passionate about and something I wish every mother could [Edited to add: if possible] be able to provide their babies, there are no other mothering "values" or beliefs that I feel like I can ask of [Ed. to add: or, with a better phrasing, suggest to] other mothers. And I fully recognize that some mothers just aren't able to breastfeed for many different reasons, physical or otherwise (OK, Emily? :) . I still feel broken-hearted about some of my friends who weren't able to breast-feed, but I know that they tried and they just couldn't produce enough milk or had other problems that could not be overcome -- I tried to help many of them and I don't think they should made to feel guilty for not breastfeeding their children.

We have chosen "attachment parenting" as our philosophy, but I don't think parents who don't embrace it are "worse" parents! I don't work (only at home in the dissertation - or, for a while, I was a T.A. who worked a few hours out of the home), but I don't think that I am better than any working mothers out there! I most probably will work if I get a job after I finish the dissertation...

I think it's really depressing when mothers attack other mothers - it does nothing to further the cause of mothers, to bring about the necessary social and political changes that will help us be the mothers we want to be. Ideally, there should be support for all kinds of moms, SAHM, moms who work outside the home, single moms, teen moms, and other kinds of unconventional families.

Being a mother is not easy, but, at least for me, it's the best thing that ever happened in my life. I actually have a hard time looking at myself as anything else, particularly in these early years of my sons' lives. I remain a daughter, a wife, a scholar, and hopefully someday I'll be a professional, but a mother is what I most love to be, and the rest doesn't really matter that much. Nothing makes me feel more fulfilled, proud, and happy.

Dear fellow mama bloggers/ readers, how do you feel about being a mother?

P.S. And Juliet, yes, you're perfectly right. One of the reasons I stay up late, besides having always been a "night person" (ever since I was pretty young) is that it's my only "alone time." Even mothers need time for themselves, don't we? :)

Friday, July 14, 2006

To Dream, Perchance... to Sleep

After months and months of thinking about my (probably neither new nor creative) twist-on- Shakespeare-for-a-title I thought I'd never write this post. Shortly after I started writing it , more or less two months ago, I stopped because I thought that I could finally triumphantly say that my youngest son (who's 2) was sleeping through the night!! Little did I know that things would change and take a turn for the worse again. So here I am, after a night from hell -- precisely because today I needed to sleep well to work on and submit one more chapter to my advisor -- writing this post after all.

Please allow me start at the very beginning, and I'll do my very best to be brief, though it's not my forte, to put it very mildly :)

I nursed my oldest son to sleep every naptime and night for well over a year. He also slept with us most part of the night. When he was 18 months I got pregnant and right around that time we figured out that we could get him to sleep -- at night, in a darkened room -- by just talking to him about his day or telling him stories. He'd pay close attention, perhaps talk a bit, and then fall asleep. That was an amazing discovery and soon daddy was putting him to bed every night - what a relief! Night-weaning was not that easy, but after several nights (more like a few weeks) of crying and lots of hugging and rocking him on our chest, we suceeded! Naptime was harder, he only slept in the car or nursing, but since it was very tiring for me (now pregnant), he only took a nap if managed to get him to fall asleep in the car (sometimes he resisted over half an hour of slowly driving on country roads). But that was it for my older son. He's 4 now and sleeps quite well, although he wakes up and comes to our bed every. single. night.

All right, the youngest was born and although from the very beginning he slept on his crib with one side removed and placed right against my side of the bed and I could nurse him all night while I slept, we soon noticed that he didn't like to fall asleep very much. At around 1 month, we were compelled to give him a pacifier, because he was pretty fussy and I couldn't bear to be a human pacifier any longer. How did I get him to sleep? He'd hardly ever fall asleep at the breast, I had to give him the pacifier, hold him in my arms, against my body and bounce him - really hard. While he was little and not too heavy, I'd sit on the bed and I'd bounce him, or his daddy would walk up and down the stairs with him. When he got heavier and heavier, I devised a n easier way - I'd lie down on the bed with him draped on my chest and (with legs bent and feet against the bed) bounce until he fell asleep -- this is how I still do it! We used the pacifier strictly for nap and bed times and it worked well - I thought it worked even better than with my older son, because he fell asleep faster than his brother did at the breast.

My youngest was a compulsive nurser. Until 5-6 months, he nursed every 2 hours (on the dot) around the clock, 24/7. I was always exhausted. It got a little better, but at 12 months he was still nursing more or less every 3-4 hours during the night. I wanted to start night weaning him when he was 18 months like we did with his brother but I couldn't because now my parents were living with us (still are) and I didn't want to disturb their sleep with his cries for several days and weeks, so I just let it go. Around the time he turned two in May, he was basically sleeping through the night, waking up to nurse once in a while around midnight (before I went to bed on most nights), but sometimes simply giving him the pacifier would work and he'd sleep until morning. 3-4 months ago, my husband started putting both boys to bed. The youngest wasn't too happy, but soon got used to it, so I got a break every night -- that's when I was finally able to go to Mother Talk. I still put him down for his nap every single day, though -- he rarely goes to sleep with anyone else, since I'm home working on the dissertation anyway.

Now, why did his sleep patterns get so bad all of a sudden? As you may recall, my parents took a 10 day vacation last May and guess what my husband suggested? "Great," he said "let's wean him from the pacifier while they're away." And I went along. It was a tough week, but, you know, in the end it worked - but, on some nights, like last night, he decides he cannot sleep without nursing. Why? Because now, for naptime, he generally nurses in bed and -- if he's really tired -- falls asleep, so he's associating breastfeeding with sleep. Most nights in the past two weeks were OK, but last night was really bad, and to top it off, I had been working late on the dissertation and was very tired. I know I have to try to go to bed earlier, but I'm a night person...

Anyway, I'm glad we got rid of the pacifier, truly glad. In the beginning he asked for it, but now he completely forgot. I just hope he begins to sleep through the night again and doesn't insist on night nursing. Fortunately it's not happening every night, only once in a while.

One thing I long for, dream about, even, is the day when they'll let me sleep in, because right now, my youngest wakes up way too early, 6:30, 6:45, or 7 a.m. at the latest. But I need to confess that in this respect I've been spoiled rotten by my parents because they're usually up already and they take care of the boys in the early morning while I sleep a little more... that'll be over in 3 weeks. I need to convince myself that I have to go to bed earlier.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I did get to send the chapter to the advisor today, it was not as finished as I'd like it to be, but at least I made the deadline! Well, good night, it's almost midnight, I have to go!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vacation in Florida?

I can hardly believe it, but it looks like we're going to have a vacation after all! I'm excited, but also a bit scared, since we really cannot afford to spend much. The plane tickets for me and the boys are award travel from our miles and my husband had a voucher that he needed to use before September and which covered half the price of his airfare. That's why we are going in the first place.

We have many Brazilian friends who moved from Massachusetts to Florida in the past two years and we have been looking forward to visiting them for a long time. We wanted to go only for 10 days, but ended up having to book a ticket for two whole weeks because those were the only dates available for award travel. Since we just can't stay at our friends' house for two whole weeks, we're thinking of spending the first week in Orlando, a place that I thought we were going to visit only when the boys were much older to enjoy it fully and when we had more money to spend on vacations.

I have been there twice, first in June 1993 with my husband (then boyfriend, almost fiancee) and his family when we visited almost every theme park, and in June 1997 with my mom and dad (we only went to three parks). Every time I went I always had a very critical evaluation of those places, particularly the Di*sney ones (I don't really like Dis*ney). My sons only know who Mickey is because they have a pair of (Brazilian) flip-flops with his picture in them. Those were a gift, since I avoid buying clothes, shoes, and toys with any characters on them, though I have to concede that I made an exception for Elmo (one T-shirt), andThomas (a T-shirt and underwear - an attempt to suceed at potty training). We also own and some Sesame Street toys and Thomas trains.

I really enjoyed our visits to Sea Wo*rld but I feel really torn about those beautiful animals and their captivity. I don't think they can be "happy," no matter how large those tanks for the whales and dolphins may be. Because of the shows, I fell they are a bit like Circus animals, though perhaps better treated... I don't know. As for the other parks, I always see them as a huge stores pressing all kinds of useless stuff on the tourists with a few fun and even informational rides or pavillions here and there. Of course we never buy anything, but just paying the absurdly expensive admission price makes me feel guilty of wasting money.

Oh, well... we can always just enjoy our hotel and go sightseeing leisurely at other places as well as visit friends (we also have a few friends who live close to Orlando), we do deserve a vacation after all. There's a small catch, though - hubby says that I need to have mostly finished the first draft of the dissertation, so I have to stop blogging right now and go back to work!! :)

One last thing - I just hope there's no hurricane while we're there!!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thanks Everyone!

I was truly delighted by every single comment I received for last post, thank you so much everyone! There was even a new reader, "Dr. Hans" - I hope to "see" you again here. Cloudscome, you're right, you could definitely have come to the party :) I think we should do a gathering of local mommy bloggers some time, what about that?

It's also good to hear from other women who were mothers after 35. I'll post about this subject again later (the pros and cons of a 3rd child in our family).

Here are a few pictures of the party for you as promised. My sister-in-law, the party decoration especialist, wasn't here, so they look pretty "silly." I decorated with my favorite colors, pink and aqua green.
The cake wasn't very professional looking like some of these, but it was yummy. I love meringues, strawberry and kiwi. Well, I should admit that it was pretty, if a bit "crowded."
I also made this cute basket out of a watermelon and filled it with watermelon and honeydew melon scooped pulp.

We had a great time at the party. My friend Andrea, who hadn't been to our house yet and who inspired me to throw a party for myself since she threw one for her last year (all prettily decorated in yellow), came with her husband Ron and two new Brazilian friends, Lilian and Alexandre. Andrea took the picture on the right with her camera. Other friends came too, even though the one who brought her kids got lost and was here quite late, between 8:30-9, so the boys ended up going to bed only 11pm after everyone had left. I made pasta salad, with Barilla's flower shaped three color pasta and my home made salsa (with tortilla chips) - both were a great sucess - sorry, I forgot to take pictures! We also had a veggie tray with dip and my mom baked the "cheese rolls" (pão de queijo) even though there was way too much food already - you can see in the picture on the left (compared to the one on the right) that they did eat quite a bit, though.

Then, on Sunday we went to Maryland again for my mom to meet the cutest nephew on earth and we also watched the World Cup's Final match there. After lunch, my SIL had the nerve of sticking 35 candles in a Carvel cake, there was quite a bit of smoke when we managed to blow them out!I'll be back later, probably tomorrow, with more pictures of my gorgeous nephew for you, OK? Oh, and I think my brother-in-law and his family may not go to Lebanon after all because he needs his residency in the U.S. first or else he won't be able to return. We're happy we have at least one more year close to them, but from next September on, we don't know where we'll be!

Friday, July 07, 2006

35 -- Here am I

Once upon a time, more specifically, on July 7, 1971, a baby girl was born , much loved and wanted (you can read a bit more about how/where she was born here), and, as fate would have it, she would one day write a blog so you'd know quite a bit about her :)
This little girl grew up in Brazil, where she loved to eat biscoitos de polvilho (melt-in your mouth baked treats made of manioc starch, eggs, milk, and salt) , as well as spend time close to nature in the countryside. She still enjoys these things, although she can hardly ever eat her favorite snack now that she lives in the United States :)

When this baby girl grew up, she got married and decided to have babies too. She kind of wanted a girl, but her first baby was a beautiful boy:
And the second one too :)
She thinks that these two sons are the best present she could ever get in the world and that her life is perfect because of them.

She's never been bothered about telling people her age. At first, there was an earnest desire to grow older which motivated her to start saying her new age a few months before July. This didn't change after the 20s, or 30s, though, and she's cheerfully looking forward to her 40s, 50s, 60s...

Except for one little detail. Everyone says that after 35 it's not very good for women to have babies anymore, and she thinks this is not fair - she might want another one, but this decision depends on many factors (husband or herself or both finding a job, the family settling down somewhere and having a more foreseeable future) which will take a few years to resolve. That's the only reason why this particular birthday is not as happy as all others have been in her life.

One thing hasn't changed much, though – she has always enjoyed writing (even before she properly knew how to write).Now she generally doesn't use a pen and paper anymore, but a computer keyboad and an internet connection, so she can get other people like you to read some of her thoughts :)

Well, I'd invite you to my party, but I think most of you are too far away to be able to come. We won't have biscoitos de polvilho, but the next best thing, pão de queijo (cheese rolls, or bread, made from the same ingredients plus cheese), which is also one of my favorite things (you can even order a pre-made mix online here, at Chebe bread - though I haven't tried this brand yet).

I'll post pictures of the party later, OK?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Back Dissertatin' - Update #7

All right, I know it took me way to long to go back to work and to blog about the dissertation again. I can't believe my last update was in April, followed by two huge meldowns! I need to get my act back together, don't I?

Well, but then, many things happened since May when I last worked in earnest and had a meeting with my advisor and one committee member:

1) I was very unhappy with the meeting because the committee member's comments about the dissertation made even more real what I already knew -- that, in sum, the feedback my advisor gives me is useless. I mean, sure, it's useful for a clean text, with no punctuation errors and grammar mistakes (he's big on these things), but useless when it comes to pointing out repetitions, redundances, lack of clarity, organization, etc. I was very angry, particularly because I know the problem is with him and I think that just talking to him about it won't help change the way he reads my work (and other students, I'm sure). He confessed that "he can't see the forest for the trees" - but usually he makes it sound like it's my fault, because I make many mistakes, when now I'm sure it isn't - the problem is with him, if he can't read past the little errors sprinkled throughout the piece, then he's just a plain bad reader (in an advising sense). Am I wrong here?
I thought about writing angry emails, etc, but I did nothing of the sort. I just took my time and cooled off. Now I know that once his "cleared" versions of my chapters get to the other committee members I'll be in for some "very heavy" feedback, and I guess I'm OK with it for now. I just want to finish, that's all.

2) We all got sick with a terrible the flu and, in addition, I started having my digestive system (we guess liver and gall-bladder) problems more often (this week I'm better, but last week I felt sick during the morning for 3 days in a row).

3) My brother and SIL visited for a week before heading to China and my parents were away for 10 days on "vacation".

Now, my parents will return to Brazil in less than a month and I have basically 3 weeks to "finish" the dissertation - that is, the early drafts of all chapters. I already have completed drafts of chapters 1 and 2, and part of chapater 3. I have decided to work on chapters 4-6, which have my "corpus analysis," or the quantitative part of the dissertation where I need to collect and analyze all the data.

I'm happy to report that I turned in a full draft of chapter 6 to my advisor today! I have learned to make graphs and charts in Excell on my own and they look really nice. Now I have to change my sidebar to include the new deadlines and I can even cross the first one, YAY!

Exciting News:
Last, but not least, remember the conference I presented at in April? I have been nominated for a prize for the best graduate student paper presented. I hope I can win, it'll be a great boost to my confidence! Can nomination for prizes be included in CVs or only if the prize is actually won?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Brand New Nephew

These have been very intense days. On Thursday we drove to Maryland for 3 hours, on Friday night we came back home, then yesterday we drove again 2h30 each way to go to a wedding in Central Pennsylvania - it was lots of fun, though.

As for the cutest nephew on earth, I missed his birth for only 20 minutes! We encountered quite a bit of traffic on our way to D.C. and the trip took 30 minutes more than it usually does. When we got to my brother-in-law's house, he had just called my mother-in-law to say that the doctor had just arrived and my SIL was going to begin pushing. My MIL, my nephew and I got in the car immediately (hubby stayed behind with the boys, who would not be allowed in the hospital) and my MIL, who was present at my older nephew's birth (he's only 21 months old now) said - oh, we'll get there on time, but I thought that we wouldn't, since I pushed for 1h15m for my first, but only 3 pushes for the second - exactly what happened with my SIL. There was a lot of traffic on the way to the hospital as well, and when we called them to say we were stuck in traffic we could hear the baby crying in the background - he had just been born!!

He hadn't been swaddled yet when we got there, and we filmed and took pictures. It was exhilarating! We got to stay there only for an hour because my MIL had to go to the airport to fly back home (in the end, she got there only 1h10min before the flight, which she missed, and - poor thing - she had to spend the night in the airport to go to check-in at 4 am, since the lines are so incredbly long at Dulles). My BIL put his son to bed and left for the hospital, and we were very anxious hoping he wouldn't cry during the night - he did, though, and my husband had to sleep with him in my BIL's bed. The next morning my SIL's parents arrived and she got to come home from the hospital that evening.

We decided to come back home because we didn't want them to have a crowded house and also to overstay our welcome. In these 10 years here we have absorbed a few good traits from the Americans (we have Americanized in certain issues, if you will) and this is one of them -- learning to give family and friends more privacy and space, something Brazilians are generally not too good at. We were there to help while we were needed -- on Friday, for example, it was key that my nephew had his cousins to play with so he was content while his dad went out grocery shopping and his mom was still in the hospital -- but then we knew it wouldn't be useful at all to spend the day there on Saturday and we came back home.

All right, last but not least, some pictures for you! Oh, and I almost forgot, he was a big baby - 8lbs 12.3 oz or 3,990kg! (I don't know his length) Much much heavier than his 5lbs 13oz. oldest cousin, and the 6.4lbs of his brother and younger cousin. He also had a head full of black hair - I adore babies with hair (mine were bald for most of their first year). I can't wait to go there to see and hold him again.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

So, it's Over for Brazil

I'll post soon about my gorgeous newborn nephew, but I wanted to get to the bad news first... Oh, and if you are sick of me writing about the World Cup, don't worry, I promise I'll shut up after today.

Obviously I'm very sad that Brazil lost (1 X 0 to France). I kind of saw it coming, the bitter taste of 1986 and 1998 still in my mouth. Right now I can't even feel happy about the irony of that I could have been French thing (see 100 things part II #13)... it's always so depressing.

The brilliant Portuguese blogger Lioness (of Which Surprised Her) just wrote a very moving post that explains quite well why soccer is or becomes so important for countries such as Brazil and Portugal, even more for Portugal right now. I cried when I read her post, not only because I relate so completely to the subject because that's why we Brazilians get so devastated when Brazil looses (soccer is really important to our self-esteem as a struggling "developing country" - how I despise these sad labels!), but also because I was so happy for Portugal and at the same time sad about the things that she wrote about her country. Portugal won today, in the penalty kicks against England -- I'm really happy for them, and relieved that we won't be playing against them in the semi-finals . Their coach is the former coach of the Brazilian team, and I truly hope that they can send France home and even win the world cup. I support them 100%.

Two more things before I go: 1) Soccer and the U.S.; 2) Soccer and "conspiracy theories"

1) One thing that I forgot to add to my previous post about soccer and the U.S. I actually thought of one more reason for soccer's unpopularity with Americans. As we watched the games, sometimes we got mad at a goal that wasn't supposed to have been a valid goal because of a player who was off place, or a penalty that was given but that hadn't actually been a foul. Then I thought - oh... all right, soccer is a very "inexact" sport, or "art" if you will. There's no instant replay, the game can't be stopped for breaks (like basketball and football), and when an arbiter decides something, the decision is generally final. If it's a gross error, the arbiter may be suspended or punished, but results aren't actually changed. I don't think that Americans, who are generally keen on rules, regulations, exactness, etc, would enjoy a game like that. What do you think? It's just a thought... I haven't really reflected on this for long.

2) Juca Kfouri, a brilliant Brazilian soccer commentator, has a blog and two nights ago, at my brother-in-law's house, my husband told me flat that Brazil wouldn't win the world cup and asked me to read a post by Kfouri titled "Conspiracy Theories" (if you read Portuguese, click here and scroll down for the post from 26/6/06 titled "A 'teoria da conspiração' "). He argues that he thinks Brazil lost to France in 1998 not because there was a conspiracy theory for it to lose (there are many, several involving Nike and Ronaldo, etc), but because Brazil didn't play well. Regardless, he wrote, he had strong reasons to believe that Brazil wouldn't be sixth time world champion this, because, among other things, it's not in FIFA's interest (FIFA is the international soccer association). If Brazil won, there would be good chance it would win again in South Africa and the 2014 world cup, which may be in Brazil. They don't want to have 6, 7 or 8 time winners because that would make the world cup boring, and people wouldn't watch anymore, which I suppose it's true. Very interesting argument.

So now... in four more years, if I'm still blogging, you'll hear me talk about soccer again. For now, I'm done. I've gotta move on, throw all those yellow t-shirts in the washer and put them away after they dry. If Juca Kfouri is right, I don't think we'll win the world championship anytime soon, 'cause it's all about marketing ($ rules the world) and keeping the masses entertained. Whatever. I'm also glad we DIDN'T get cable to watch the world cup, as we usually do (with the Olympics too) - so we didn't waste one cent of our tight budget on this (we have an antenna and watched on Univision). All right, that's all folks.

Now back to regularly scheduled programming, with cute pictures to boot.