Monday, June 30, 2008

A Change in Attitude

You already know that I am a big whiner. And our past troubles haven't helped much with that -- have they? Take typical posts like this one, for example, written only a week or so before K got his "big job offer" last year and thus making all those "impossible" things I was pining after seem very possible and real -- those were the things I worried about: the visa situation, wanting to settle down, be able to afford things.

When K lost his job back in October, it was a huge reality check, and I complained grieved a lot. Of course things turned around and we were able to put the whole situation into perspective. A great benefit came from the extension, even if temporary, of K's job -- the permanent residency. Now that we can stay here and work, we can breathe more easily, and the enormity of that benefit is only now dawning on us. During the trip to Brazil we thought about this long and hard, particularly because we had a very rare experience -- a window into the past, the eerie opportunity to confront what could have been and never was (I need to be cryptic here because we haven't discussed this issue with many people, in very general lines, K missed an opportunity that would probably meant that we would have gone back to Brazil a year or so ago and it was quite shocking to be faced with that possibility) -- this experience put our whole lives into perspective once more and we decided that a change in attitude was/is what we need/ed right now!!

We do not want to be pessimistic, whiny or fatalists anymore (one example was K's comment -- mirrored by my own negative attitude, after last year's troubles -- "we'll never settle down!"), we want to face the challenges presented by life with a positive attitude, looking after solutions to our problems, being proactive, creative, and -- yes -- happy, no matter what. It is with this in mind that I want to write next (later today, hopefully) about the new decisions that we have made and the challenges that face us as we move forward in life.

I can already imagine that my friends Articulate Dad and Rocket Mom will be very happy for us -- you two have been an inspiration, let me tell you!

Update on Fever Situation

Thank you so much for all of you who chimed in. After I wrote last night's post, K left the house for the grocery store at 1 am and bought ibuprofen. We gave it to the boys and their fevers went down fairly quickly. I thought of updating the blog since I had trouble falling asleep, but I considered it would be a bit too much to get up at 2 am to come and post! :-)

They both slept well and though the night (well, since 1:30 am) and seemed OK this morning. Between 10 and 11 they were feverish again, though, and I may have to use ibuprofen later if the acetaminophen I just gave them doesn't work. In any case, I'll call the nurse at the pediatrician's office.

I will write another post soon so you can read about other things going on in our lives, not only about our health problems :-).

More on Fever, Lyme Disease, and Other Issues

First, just a reminder about the "Lyme Disease Saga" -- it isn't over yet, in spite of the negative test result in Brazil. Kelvin started antibiotics on Thursday night and I feel better about this, although I'm a bit concerned about the possible side-effects (more on that in a minute).

An update on the fever situation, the boys' fevers have spiked again (this time up to 103) and the bad news is that they haven't gone down even after the correct dose of acetaminophen, only to 101-102. Both are still feverish three hours after taking it. I'm wondering if I should give them ibuprofen instead.

Now, I am very very thankful for one thing: the fact that both boys have a fever. If only Kelvin had it, I'd be most certainly freaking out. My mom's fever (most certainly caused by a virus) also helps me feel better about them being sick.

Another worry (typical parenting discussion now) -- both boys are constipated. Linton always is, but not Kelvin never, so I'm thinking it may be related to taking the antibiotic. Now, I am a bit too, so it may be related to our trip, to diet, whatever. If the boys don't have a bowel movement tomorrow, I'll be really worry, since it's been several days (I'm giving them both MiraLax).

OK, hopefully tomorrow (technically later today) I can have better news to report, but for now, this is the situation -- it's a sick house and I have to go back to my feverish boys. They're both sleeping, which is good, but in half an hour I'm going to give them acetaminophen again -- if the fevers don't go down, then I will keep on worrying. Can one give acetaminophen and ibuprofen? I really don't know the answer to that.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Feverish Sunday

Now it's a little cloudy and also still hot and muggy, but earlier the sun was shining and it was not as hot. In sum, it was a beautiful day, perfect for a Sunday. In spite of all that, we had an unpleasant surprise at 8 am when Linton came into our bedroom -- he was sneezing a lot and had a fever, almost 103. A delay of three hours brought on Kelvin's fever. I guess they both have the same virus that kept their grandma in bed all day Friday with a high fever (she was happy that she didn't get sick before we left -- too bad the virus had already been shared -- I think I had it too, I just didn't have a fever, only runny nose and lots of sinus pain and pressure. I'm much better now).

This scenario didn't keep us from enjoying the day, though, or at least part of it. Both boys had their doses of acetaminophen (we like to use this melt-in-your mouth version [the ages 2-6 one]) and although Linton was a bit whiny because of his runny nose and he looked tired, Kelvin was as chipper as ever and agreed to go for a bike ride at this trail. Linton went in the bike trailer and Kelvin, K, and I rode our bikes. We had a great time and rode about 3 miles or more. We had to get some things at the home improvement store and by the time we got there, Linton's fever had already returned. He fell asleep on K's arms and slept for a while, after the fever went down, he ate a little lunch and went to take another nap with daddy. Kelvin's fever spiked again and it took quite a bit to go down, so he just laid down on the couch and even took a nap there... we had a birthday party to go to, but we're obviously not going. Oh, yeah, and we miss the air conditioning in a day like this one when it's really hot inside and the boys' small bodies need cooling. Good thing we have ceiling fans, even though some are ugly.

This is a terribly boring post, but I really cannot work on it to make it better because I'm finishing it with a fussy boy in my lap and another sitting at a chair nearby.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Magic is Here

Fireflies are here and they make summer evenings outside like magic to me. Much better than any Disn3y fake "magic." I wish I had my own photos, but I've borrowed this from the internet...

It's really hot, my hands are even a bit swollen. There's no central air, and I have tons of weeds to pull as well as a need to landscape and plant more flowers. I need lots of energy to keep the boys happy and also work on the yard. Oh, yeah, and I need to write and send out some articles out for publication. I wish I could just sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer, since it's too short for my taste! Oh, yeah, and since its was still pretty cool when I left, summer is starting only today for the boys and I.

Well, sorry for three posts in a day. I could write several more, that's for sure.

Edited to add (at 9:57 pm): there's a firefly here in the room with me, next to the computer desk! I think I need to bring it outside, right? And I need to check the screen.
I'm thankful for the "visit," though, I really appreciated it!

Edited to add 2 (at 10:01):
Even more magic for me! I scooped the firefly up and brought it outside and then, for half a minute, it walked and blinked faintly all over my right hand before taking off. Wonderful!

Antibiotics, Here We Go

So, the nurse practitioner examined Kelvin and said that the procedure is the following -- if there is proof of a tick bite and a rash 3 cm or bigger, they don't even do the blood test and start the child on antibiotics right away. It's not going to be 21 days, though, but only 14 (4 ccs or mls, 3 times a day) and the best thing is that we got the brand name from big pharma where K works and the medicine was for free because of that! I'm glad we waited to get here to get him treated, even if we're saving only about 10-20 dollars of copay. Now we need to see about receiving the refund for the blood test.

I feel much better about this now. Any tips about long term antibiotics treatments? I think it's the second time ever that Kelvin is taking antibiotics in his life. I really don't like medications, but, like we say in Brazil, "preventing is better than treating" [Prevenir é melhor que remediar] (how does this go here? Oh, OK, I checked, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure").

Quick Coming Home Post & Some Lists

We're back home. The trip was good, the boys behaved well and although I made one serious mistake during the last part of the night (I didn't realize that Linton needed to pee and he got all wet because he was in such a deep sleep), it was OK because thankfully I had a change of clothes. Next time I'll have him in a diaper (the problem is that he was not sitting, but laying down horizontally when this happened, on our way to Brazil he was dry all night, but he slept only in a sitting position). K picked us up in New York (JFK) and while the boys slept a good part of the way home, I didn't, so I'm quite tired. In spite of that, here are some lists for you:

Random Things I Missed:

- First, and foremost, my cell phone. I know that some people don't agree, but I think that nothing can quite replace the convenience and usefulness of a cell phone. My parents need to replace their phone, so we didn't have access to one in Brazil.

- My favorite tissue paper (those from Brazil, even this brand, crumbled quickly when wet). I tend to have a runny nose quite frequently, so I'm very particular about the tissue paper I use and I was upset that this time I forgot to bring a box or two of "the best tissue paper ever" (in my humble, but experienced nose opinion).

- Driving, particularly an automatic car (I haven't renewed my Brazilian driver's license and I didn't know whether it would be OK for me to drive with my American one, so I barely drove -- not that I'd have cared to). Well... I guess I didn't really miss driving that much ;-).

- My keyboard, particularly the key locations (it's slightly different in Brazil, thankfully not as radically different as in France --yikes!! [I had to deal with that for 39 days back in 1999 when I went to France to study the language]). My mom's keyboard is really old and hard, horrible to type. I'm buying her a keyboard next time I'm there, that's for sure.

- Our VOIP phone line and being able to call anyone as much as I want, including in Brazil.

Things I Didn't Even Know I'd Missed:

- Widescreen monitor -- I'll have my mom buy one here next time :-)

Things I Thankfully Didn't Have to Miss:

- High speed internet!!! My mom had DSL last year too, but this year even my computer illiterate aunt has it too. That made my stay in Brazil much more agreeable, although everyone rolled their eyes at how addicted to the computer/internet I am. And I only spent half an hour each day online, at most, at my aunt's house.

I'm sure there are other things I could add to these lists, but that's it for now.

P.S. We're off to the pediatrician right now, I'll let you know how it went.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Bye Bye Brasil"

We're leaving for the airport within an hour or so, so I don't have much time to write. I'm glad to be going back home, twenty days was plenty of time to be in Brazil although this was the first time I stayed "only" that... I miss my house, my garden, my cat, and I know that I need to get back as soon as possible so we start working on the plans for the next phase of our lives. We've made some important decisions before K went back home and I will be blogging about those soon. Hopefully I can post the other pictures when I get home. Meanwhile, I'll share some random ones here.

I. Recycling is taken very seriously in many parts of Brazil. These bins can be found everywhere in Curitiba, for example.

II. Tree with flowers of two colors
III. Cool new bridge in the city of São Paulo

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yummy Brazilian Fruit - II

I have only two more days here in Brazil so I will try to blog (and photo blog) like crazy because I know that once I get home the motivation to share these stories and photos will quickly wane. I go back to the fruit, before I can (hopefully) move on to other subjects that may interest you.

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~

I was overjoyed when at a "sacolão" (literally, "big shopping bag" -- grocery store that sells fruits and vegetables, some by a flat rate by weight) in São Paulo I found this fruit from my childhood named cajamanga (a compound word that is the name of two other fruits, cajá and manga [mango]). It is common in Minas Gerais and not well known in other states, including São Paulo and Paraná where I grew up, but I spent five years of my childhood in a boarding academy located at a wonderful farm and this was one of the many fruits they had at their orchards.
I love it because it's tasty, sweet and also quite sour (I simply adore sour things). The seed in the middle is "thorny" as you can see below, so one has to be careful whey eating it.
The other fruit in this post are also available in other parts of the world, but the Brazilian varieties are very distinctive and delicious -- not that I know them in other countries (except for the figs in Turkey, via my sister-in-law), all I know is that where I've lived in the U.S. (MA and PA) one cannot really find the first two, only really expensive and ugly looking ones.

One of the things I eat with abandon in Brazil are figs: Juicy, plump, incredibly sweet figs. I am sure most of you have no idea what I'm talking about, so you won't even drool when you see this picture. I, on the other hand, am already drooling over this post, hungry although it's almost 1:30 am:

Persimmons (caquis in Brazil) are widely available here too and they are in season right now. There are two kinds:

These are hard/ crunchy (and you have to buy them at a stage when they can be eaten because they have a "bite" to them for a while before they're fully ripened). I just couldn't resist and bite into one of them before taking the picture: This variety is called caqui chocolate because of the brown "stripes" or spots in the pulp:

And these are soft and juicy, gooey at times:
Both incredibly sweet.
The avocados here are HUGE, these two that I photograph are actually "smallish," and, again, I just could not resist the milky and almost sweet flavor and spooned quite a bit of the pulp before taking the snapshot :-)

OK, tomorrow (today, actually, since it's 1:30 am by now, of the 24th, but I'll leave yesterday's date), I'll be back with more photos. Promise.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


That was the result of the blood test and I feel a bit, well... I don't know, sad because I spent so much money on that -- BUT, I am glad and relieved (for now at least), that apparently he does not have the bacteria. I know there can be false negatives, but the tick that was on him may not be one of the carriers after all -- I haven't had the time to go to Dr. Google to check...

We're enjoying our time here and I wish I had the time to post some pictures, but I have to get the boys to bed because it's almost 11 pm here. Hopefully I'll have more time tomorrow (I doubt it, but I can still hope, can't I? I took several pictures for the blog, I always do. The hard thing is getting around to posting them :-(.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


That's how much I paid (in reais, not dollars, it would be around US$ 332) for the test to identify if there are antibodies to the Lyme disease bacteria in Kelvin's blood. After the doctor saw his rash (the examination was for free because he's our friend) he thought that if the results could be available soon, it would be a good idea to do the test. We were very surprised to learn that one of Brazil's leading labs (if not the best in the country, period), could do the test for this bacteria -- one which doesn't really exist in humans in Brazil -- and that the results would be available on Saturday night. So now we wait. He has already given me a prescription for antibiotics, but I am only going to fill it if the results come out positive.

We're still on the road because on our way from São Paulo to Curitiba we ran into a huge traffic jam (caused by road work) and decided to sleep at our friends' house here. Tomorrow morning we continue our trip. I'll update again either tomorrow night or on Saturday, after we know the results.

P.S. I'm hoping that we can get a refund for the test from our insurance company, but I have no idea how these things work with medical care received in other countries. K had called the pediatrician, who recommended that we see a doctor here, so I guess our doctors back home would be OK with what's being done. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"On the Road Again"

We had a good time in Águas de Lindóia. The hotel was famous in the 1920s and it's pretty old now, but it's undergoing massive renovations. I was impressed by the roster of illustrious guests, including Marie Curie, who came to check out the radioactive water from the famous springs that the town is known for. I took many photos, but I won't be able to post them tonight (if ever :-( ) because tomorrow morning we'll be on our way to Curitiba, in the state of Paraná -- that's where most of my extended family lives here in Brazil, including my only remaining grandmother. We'll stop in São Paulo so the doctor can examine Kelvin (who doesn't have any further symptoms and whose rash seems to be going away).

The good news is that my aunt now has internet access at her home -- finally!! I can hardly believe that. So, I'll try to post, but we'll be very busy spending time with aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. from both my mom and my dad's side of the family. And now I have to go pack our bags because we need to leave early tomorrow. There's a soccer game on TV right now and a "classic" one too -- Brazil and Argentina -- who play as part of the next World Cup's classifying round, but I guess I'm going to bed before the game is over (45 more minutes to go). The boys are coughing a bit and have slightly runny noses -- I hope they don't get worse!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quick Update

First of all, thank you so much for all your support and words of encouragement after I wrote the last two posts. It's very comforting just to check my email and see your comments trickling in - that's one of the reasons I love blogging so much, it provides a very effective support system!

Thanks to Cloudscome and Delia for sharing their experiences in their respective comments.

So far the developments are not great, but significant. K hasn't arrived home yet (my father-in-law called me a couple of hours ago from the U.S. to let me know that he was on his way home), so he hasn't contacted the pediatrician yet. We called a doctor we know here, an infectologist, and Lyme disease is known in Brazil, although few cases have ocurred (it seems to be mosly a problem in animals -- cattle). This doctor assured us that if needed we can go to São Paulo and get the blood test done (testing for antibodies) and because the rash is so small he thinks it's unecessary to begin the treatment with antibiotics just yet. He argued that maybe the skin is just irritated because my son has no fever or other symptoms. I wish he could see the rash and examine Kelvin (he does too) and I wonder whether we shouldn't just go to São Paulo or another large city nearby (Campinas) to do it. One of the problems is that we depend on the kindness of doctors we know (thankfully we do know many) to help us since we don't have health insurance here -- not that this is a big problem.

If our pediatrician back in the U.S. decides to prescribe antibiotics right away, we can easily buy them here since drugs here are much cheaper than in the U.S. and it's OK if we cannot use our insurance. I began to worry more after I saw this at the American Lyme Disease Foundation's website here:
Early treatment of LD (within the first few weeks after initial infection) is
straightforward and almost always results in a full cure. Treatment begun after
the first three weeks will also likely provide a cure, but the cure rate
decreases the longer treatment is delayed.

So, the conservative approach of our infectologist friend concerns me right now. On the other hand, I worry if giving him antibiotics would make the diagosis more difficult, considering that the blood serum antibody test is not always accurate (according to several sites about the disease) -- if the test is only done after we go back to the U.S., for example.

I took pictures of the rash, but I had to do it with my mom's camera, which has lower resolution and not a very good lens -- for some strange reason, my camera (the one with the fancy lens) decided to die or "faint" (hopefully temporarily) this morning. I can post some tomorrow. Life goes on over here -- we were planning to travel for three hours for a hot water springs resort/water park in Olímpia, São Paulo state, but we've decided to spend only 24h at a fancy hotel in Águas de Lindóia, a mineral springs town, so the kids can enjoy the indoor heated pool and other facilities, including three wonderful meals.

OK, I have to go now. I'll probably post again tomorrow.

My Brave Boy

When the scary possibility that my firstborn son may be sick presented itself the first thing I thought about was that I was relieved that it was him and not his younger brother. My youngest's tolerance for any discomfort or illness is extremely low (e.g. he simply won't sleep if he has a stuffy nose or is coughing) and he'll fuss and cry whenever he's uncomfortable in the smallest degree (he's got some mild sensory issues even, he cannot stand bad smells, being wet or dirty, or feeling pain). My eldest son, however, has always been an extremely brave and tolerant little boy, ever since he was a baby.

He was badly jaundiced soon after his birth and his little heels were cut multiple times to draw blood (he still has tiny scars there) and in the last times he didn't even cry -- he actually slept through it once, propped up on my shoulder. Often, while he wouldn't even cry when given his immunizations. Then when he was one he was hospitalized for wheezing ("reactive airway disorder") and he was a good trooper most of the time. I'll never forget the first time he had blood drawn for an annual check up at a local lab. He was three and he was so brave and didn't cry at all that the phlebotomist was extremely impressed (very different from his brother who screamed bloody murder every time). The few times he's had the stomach flu he has been very patient, taking the electrolyte solution every ten minutes for a couple of hours and coooperating with any treatments or medications he has to be given.

So, if worse comes to worse and he not only has to endure taking antibiotics for several weeks, but he comes down with symptoms even after treatment, I am sure that he'll take it all in stride.
Right now, though, I'm just praying a nd hoping that the "kryptonite" won't have that much of an effect on my Super(little)Man.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Think My Son May Have Lyme Disease

Really, I do. And the worst part is that we are in Brazil right now and I know that the doctors here wouldn't know which antibiotics to prescribe for him and how to really diagnose the disease.

Scary, huh? And why, you may ask, do I think he has Lyme disease, of all things? The answer is very simple. Three weeks ago K found a tick on Kelvin's ear at bedtime and he told us that a friend at school had removed a tick from his neck earlier that day when they were playing outside. I was scared because there Pennsylvania is known for the abundance of deer everywhere and his school is located near a large meadow where deer are often seen. I worried a bit and even considered calling the pediatrician before we traveled, but there were so many things to do and think about that I didn't do it.

Last Wednesday, however, Kelvin complained of something at the back of his head, more precisely, close to his hairline and, lo, and behold, there was a huge tick there. I shivered, thinking that the crature had been living in (and off) my son for over two weeks! My dad removed it with tweezers and it is now in a small jar full of rubbing alcohol -- it is huge and it looks precisely like the deer ticks pictured online. I kept looking at the back of his head and a few days ago I saw a small rash, similar to the one you can see pictured here, only much much smaller. He doesn't have any other symptoms, but I think that is enough, don't you think?

K is flying back home tonight and he'll call the pediatrician as soon as he gets home. Hopefully he'll be able to prescribe the antibiotics even without seeing my son, and meantime I'll take photos of the rash and bring the tick with me when we travel back on the 25th. It's all I can do. I just want him to be able to get started on the antibiotic as soon as possible, that's all.

I'm not really scared or upset, but it is unsettling and makes me feel guilty for not having checked his whole body for ticks, including his scalp. My son is becoming very independent, and at 6, he likes to take showers by himself, even washing his own hair. Had I washed his hair once during these two weeks I might have found out earlier... oh well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yummy Brazilian Fruit - I

I think that one of the Brazilian fruit [can one say "fruits"?] I miss the most is this type of grapes. They are more or less like concord grapes, only another variety, which is called "pink grape" (uva rosada).

This fruit is called pinha or fruta-do-conde (fruit of the Count) and it's very sweet and delicious. Here you can see the pulp:

The photo below if of a citrus fruit that I'm pretty sure was engineered by Japanese agricultural folks in Brazil and is called ponkan My husband loves it. It's easy to peel (a bit like a Clementine, but much bigger and with thicker skin) and is easy to eat and very flavorful: More photos coming soon.


In case you're wondering what the results of my husband's "application" were, he didn't pass.

I'm quite relieved, in fact. The indications from the very first day were that they had an inside candidate who was expected to get in, and that happened. This leads us to believe that no "tenure track" job (it's not the same system as in the U.S.) position is opened here unless they already know who's getting in. This is a SHAME, but it's the way the country works, for the most part. In academia, particularly, in-breeding is what takes place, for the most part, i.e. people from the same institution are hired.

It was not the right time for us to return to Brazil, however, that's what I think, so I'm happy. Our situation is still very uncertain. K is seriously considering quitting big pharma before they kick him out again and going for a postdoc so he can be more competitive in applying in the next year or so. He's even thinking about doing a postdoc in the most prestigious university in the country located in a city named after another university on "the other side of the pond." Got it? Anyway, I think change is coming, we just don't know what it is.

Upcoming: fruit pictures.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick Update and Suspense

It's almost the middle of the night and I should be sleeping, but I'm checking blogs instead...

There are tons of pictures and stories to share, but I've been busy with family and... getting a new haircut and haircolor (I was going to get plain highlights, but got a nice "balayage" instead -- this is a fancy term for highlights of several colors, some sites say they're hand-painted, but that was not the case).

My brother and sister-in-law are flying to New Zealand tomorrow and we've been able to spend sometime with them, having long lunches together with both families (my parents and my brother's in-laws live only three houses down from each other and are retired) that feel like weekend meals in the middle of the week.

I don't know if I shared that or not (I'm extremely forgetful right now), but my husband is participating of that concurso (competition for a tenure track position) that he registered for (it's not really an application, it's more of a type of registration) back in November last year, when he had just lost his job. It looks like they already had someone in mind for the position before adversing the post because they keep telling him that he should keep trying, etc. -- very very strange, but quite common here. Today he experienced a very surreal moment that has to do with a previous concurso that he almost participated in. I don't know if I'll write about that now, though, maybe someday.

I should go to bed because I'm going to São Paulo tomorrow with my brother and SIL so I can be with K when he finds out the results of the concurso. I'll post about it as soon as I can. We don't really want him to get this position because we never, ever, not in a million years, wanted to live in São Paulo again, but... what if it's meant to be? I really wanted to be there with him tonight so I could hug him tight and we could talk it all over. We haven't really talked in weeks, and on Monday he's flying back home. Blah.

I hope I find the time and energy to share some photos with you. My favorite ones are the fruit photos! :-)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

In Brazil

I Just thought I'd let you know that I arrived safely in my home country.

This trip was different from all the other trips in the past six years because this was the very first time that K traveled with me and the boys. I've already flown to Brazil four times (first only with Kelvin, and three times with both boys), but K always came later the three times he did come (in February-March 05 we came without him).

In spite of the fact that we had tons of luggage to check and many carry on items, the trip itself was a breeze because he was there to help me with everything -- what a relief!
On Friday two of our friends came to pick us up at the airport and then a third friend came to pick us up at the mall (where we ate delicious Brazilian food at the mall's food court). The boys took it all in stride, particulary because the friends we were going to stay with had come to visit us back in April (when I was finishing the dissertation, remember? -- the two other friends who picked us up at the airport had also visited then) and Kelvin had declared that their son Eduardo was his best friend. We spent the day with them yesterday and met many other friends at the church/place where we got married and the school where we worked for many years.
Today we are at the first of two kid's birthday parties and we still have a dinner at my aunt's house -- a packed schedule. The best thing has been seeing my (only) brother and sister-in-law again. I was joking that we see them only every two years and only for two days (OK, usually 5 days or so)...
Now we have to head to the second birthday party, so I'm signing off, but I hope to blog soon.
This is going to be my shortest visit to Brazil with the boys (20 days -- I usually stay 30-50 days), but so far it's been the best. You know, the fact that I'm finally done outweights the uncertainties of our lives and makes me feel more alive, more peaceful, much more "in the moment" enjoying every minute. That feels great! Priceless, actually. Well, I hope to be back soon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Leaving Soon

So, I didn't sleep one wink, but got almost everything that needed to be done done... It was very, very hard to drive to the airport, I was so, so, so, sleepy. I kept talking to K on the phone and also opening the windows for cold air. Driving sleepy is as dangerous as driving drunk, did you know that?

OK, I'll write from Brazil tomorrow. Wish us a good trip.

I'll Soon See the Sunrise

I probably won't sleep at all tonight, and thankfully it's not because of dissertation formatting, but because of travel. I have worked hard -- I haven't even blogged or read blogs much -- but no matter how much one works, getting ready for a trip always involves an infinite number of tasks to be accomplished in a very limited amount of time.

I have managed to do most everything, but more things keep presenting themselves as needed. Of course some of these "needs" I have been "making up" as I go in order to avoid doing some of the really boring (albeit important) stuff, like making lists of all the things I've bought for friends and how much do they owe us. I still have to do that "tonight," after (or during) I finish packing our suitcases. That is a hard task indeed because it involves deciding which clothes to take and you know I have indecision problems, remember? Oh, and of course even after I decide which clothes to take, I still have to wait for the drier so I can pack some of those clothes I just washed.

Cleaning the house is important, of course, and I really enjoy certain types of "deep" Spring cleaning, but did I really need to clean like that on the days preceding a big trip? Probably not, but still, the plastic shower curtains look much better now after I soaked them in vinegar to get rid of the hard water deposits, and all the rugs are clean. In my defense, it didn't take long to do these things and the "distraction" with them helped me finish packing some of the suitcases.

I did accomplish several needed tasks that today. The most important was that I was able to mow the lawn (with dry grass) before it began to rain again (it had rained all night). And during the rain I planted the six tomato plants. That's how I looked in the end (I had so much fun working in the rain!)
Here's another shot by Kelvin, who's becoming an accomplished photographer:
I think I may have to take a nap, or else, my IBS will act up. I have to be at to the airport tomorrow at 9 to pick up my husband and we're renting a car and driving to NYC because we're flying from JFK to Brazil.

The worse part is that I'm not taking my laptop, so I won't have access to my older photos, and I won't be able to finish updating the photo blog :-(

I'll try to write about Brazil, however. This is the shortest trip ever with the boys -- only 20 days. I usually stay at least a month. I'm OK about coming back, though, I already miss my plants. I just wish I could know whether I'll be able to enjoy them for long... :-(

New Eyeglasses

I really don't wear glasses, only contacts, but after I lost my most recent (i.e. 7-8 years old) pair back in December, I had to purchase new ones. What do you think?(this was a self-portrait taken yesterday morning).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Updating Photo Blog

As usual, here's another announcement that I make once in a while -- I have just uploaded some photos to my Project 365+1 blog (including one photo of the defense -- I hope to post more here). I have tons of things to do, but I took a few minutes to put some pictures there.

A month and a half remains to be done, but hopefully I can manage to do it before we travel on Thursday.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Announcement: I Really Think I'm Done

I guess being done with the dissertation and the graduate student part of my life helped me realize that this debate I've been having with myself is probably coming to an end. My dear friend Alissa, I think I'm really joining the "Done" team this time.

It's painful to write that I am consciously and very rationally making the decision not to have any more children, but the truth is that at 37 (K already, me in July), our lives are still extremely unstable and uncertain and we won't really have time, economic resources, as well as psychological and physical strength to do it all over again. I miss my babies terribly, they grow more and more each day, but I don't think that having another baby is the right thing for our family, nor will it fill the eternal "void" for a baby because s/he'd grow too.

I'm writing this now because people were asking me about this in the past few days and I've taken some time to think seriously about it. It just wouldn't work. If K's work situation was not what it is now (absolute uncertainty, work could end and any minute and we'd be left scrambling in what to do to keep this expensive house, we might need to move soon, etc), maybe, just maybe, things would be different, but for some reason they're not.

We're delightfully happy with our two sons. I'm absolutely certain that it was the right thing for me to have boys and not a girl as I originally wanted. I won't go into that again. Too complicated. That post alone has already caused pain (to my mom, who read it by accident), so I think there would be complications were I to have a girl. Maybe my MIL didn't have girls for similar reasons, who knows.

Anyway... it was not because of my children's gender that I wanted another one, it was just that I love babies, I love children and I felt that I wasn't "done." But I guess I am. I can only look back, but not forward, that's the right thing to do for our family. Things are already very complicated as it is now. Good thing we have the option of planning this aspect of our lives (I know that many people don't agree with that, but I guess that maybe not the readers of this blog ;-).

OK, there are so many things to tell and share, but I felt like writing about this tonight. Maybe because I'm feeling lonely (K is in Boston) and stressed out about the upcoming trip and overly sensitive. I feel like crying for lots of things, but it's a general sadness about the boys growing up (I was writing a comment for this post by Jennie) and I looked at some photos of Linton at 11 months old, and I guess this triggered the whole thing), the uncertainty of our lives, and my worries about that and the trip. I think I need a flower photo right now. (although that might just make me cry even harder because I don't know for how long I'll have a garden -- in spite of that I just bought some tomato plants and more flowers this afternoon). I'll give you a picture of the boys instead. They are my joy.