Friday, December 31, 2010

I Got My Only 2010 Wish!!

 364 days ago I made a wish:

I have one single wish for 2010:

a (good) job for K.

No resolutions (not that I ever make any, I can't stand resolutions), no other high dreams and plans, just this. It'll be more than enough if it happens.

It came true!!!!! I hope my wish for 2011 comes true as well. I'll write about it tomorrow.


And may all your wishes come true in 2011.

2010 in Review

I already summarized the most important events of 2010 in my previous post, but I guess there's more to say.

2010 was a splendid year. We needed it, after how awful 2009 was (it was not just the house woes that year, there were other issues at church and work that left me very depressed and about which I didn't blog much about).

K had three interviews in February -- none of which were easy to get to (for the first one he drove through thte worst blizzard in many years), then offers (for me too!). We sold the house and moved and at the same time we finished the really hard cyber-schooling year -- doing both was nearly impossible, but we survived somehow.

Then we had a very eventful summer, Atlanta, Canada (remember that I drove over 2 thousand miles on my own?), although I wasn't happy to spend so much time far from K.

It was a great relief to send the boys to school again and they really, really love their school!

There was the issue of the pending interview and offer that "marred" our first months here, but it wasn't that bad. We are getting settled and that feels wonderful!

What a relief!

10 Years and 10+ Life-Altering Events

2000: We decided to travel to Europe (nearly a month backpacking) and to begin trying to have a baby.

2001: We bought a house, got a kitten and finally, after one year trying, got pregnant!

2002: Our son Kelvin was born on March 9.

2003: Accidentally got pregnant again (we were very happy about it, though!).

2004: Our son Linton was born on May 30 (a week earlier I participated of my MA commencement). K finished his Ph.D. and we moved to the Philadelphia area. First nephew was born in September. I started blogging!

2005: Brother-in-law (+SIL & baby nephew) moved from Michigan to Maryland, less than 3 hours away. I spent two months with the boys in Brazil (away from K).

2006: Father- and mother-in-law came to live in the U.S. and my brother and sister-in-law moved to China from Brazil. What an international family! Second nephew was born in June.

2007: K got a "dream job" offer from Big Pharma. We sold our house, bought another, moved and two months later, he was laid off. Unforgettably awful. K was readmitted on the very day of our 13th wedding anniversary, December 18.

2008: We became permanent residents of the U.S. And finally, after "ten years and two sons," I finished my Ph.D. (dissertation defense: April 16). K decided to walk away from Big Pharma and go back to academia (starting his second "post-doc"). Crazy-intensive home renovations in the summer. Third nephew was born on my birthday!

2009: Worst year ever. In March we realized we couldn't keep on paying our mortgage and put the house on the market in April. In June the bank approved our request to renegotiate the mortgage and we were able to stay on the house. Phew! We began our "cyber-schooling" year (too hard).

2010: K had four job interviews (including his "Ivy-League Experience") and three job offers!! Too bad the last job offer was in October and messed up the first few months in our new location & K's new job as an assistant professor. We moved from PA to VA (our cat of nine years disappeared after we moved) and I went back to higher education as an adjunct. I saw my nephew N's birth in July and our niece -- the first girl in this family!! -- was born in August. A great year to close the decade!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Adult ADHD - I'm a Textbook Case

In the past few years I've suspected that I have ADHD, but I generally just joked about it, I had never really tried to read more about it. My mom was actually upset that I thought I've always had ADHD -- she vehemently denied seeing any evidence of it in me. However, a diagnosis can explain my lifelong troubles with being messy, disorganized, a procrastinator, always late, and other things.

When we went to Florida in the Thanksgiving Break I casually mentioned to a friend that I thought I had ADHD and she immediately told me that she had it too. We "exchanged notes" on our troubles (hers is primarily the inattentive kind while mine is mixed and has an hiperactivity component to it) and she explained that she went to a psychiatrist (or psychologist) and was "officially diagnosed." I thought it was an interesting conversation, but didn't do anything about it.

For whatever reason, tonight I decided to Google ADHD and since most links refer primarily to children, I added the word "adult" to the search. Well... when I began to read this site, I immediately started crying and had to come write this post. Quotes like these break my heart because I've spent so many years blaming myself for my poor, horrible lack of will power:
Myths and Facts about ADD / ADHD in Adults
MYTH: ADD/ADHD is just a lack of willpower. Persons with ADD/ADHD focus well on things that interest them; they could focus on any other tasks if they really wanted to.
FACT: ADD/ADHD looks very much like a willpower problem, but it isn’t. It’s essentially a chemical problem in the management systems of the brain.
MYTH: Everybody has the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, and anyone with adequate intelligence can overcome these difficulties.
FACT: ADD/ADHD affects persons of all levels of intelligence. And although everyone sometimes has symptoms of ADD/ADHD, only those with chronic impairments from these symptoms warrant an ADD/ADHD diagnosis.
It's so hard to have gone through life for nearly 40 years thinking that I was simply flawed when there are chemical problems in my brain that are to blame for the way I am! 
Going through the lists of symptoms in the site is like reading a description of myself, really! It's feels strange. E.g.: Hyperfocus: I have never been able to listen to what anyone is saying to me while I'm reading; disorganization and forgetfulness: totally me! Particularly the "constantly losing or misplacing things (keys, wallet, phone."
I've also experienced all of the emotional difficulties, but two of them are particularly true and things I struggle with constantly: doesn’t deal well with frustration & hypersensitivity to criticism. It is SO hard to be like this! I think I'm going to buy a few books about ADHD and what I really want is to be able to do some therapy at some point in my life so I can learn how to deal better with my condition. 
I know that because I had so much help from my parents, I've been able to succeed in lots of thing, most importantly of which was finishing and defending my Ph.D. dissertation and getting my degree. That's why I don't really feel so defeated. But I  know that if left to my own devices I would have never, ever finished. 
I have to go to bed now, but I will probably be blogging about this again. If you have any personal stories of advice to share about this, please do! I feel a bit stupid -- well, not stupid really, but mostly foolish -- for not having figured this out earlier... Better late (and I've been late too many times in my life!) than never! That has always been my motto. :)

The One I Wanted

OK, so here's another "fluff" post brought to you by three hours wasted watching Magnolia, a film that was highly recommended by a friend but which, in the end, K and I thought was a huge waste of our time. Sigh. It is slightly similar to Crash, but without the incredibly gripping racial and ethnic conflicts. It's mostly a very long film that explains how certain people got mixed up because of their parents' awful mistakes. Blah. We were just thinking that this whole "crazy" type plot thing might have been a typical feature of later 90s film (Magnolia is from 1999).

anyway... over a week ago I posted that we'd decided to buy a rug for our living room; however, the one I posted about wasn't the one I had originally chosen and wanted, but one I'd found online that very night. The next day, when we went to the store, K ended up agreeing with me that the one I wanted would probably match our color scheme better! YAY! He didn't want botanical motifs, only geometric or abstract ones, but in the end, he agreed and we brought it home. Isn't it just so pretty?

The coffee table was moved so the boys could play Wii with their cousins, so I took the opportunity to take the photo. I LOVE LOVE LOVE our new rug! Too bad it needs lots of vacuuming since it's so dark that any dirt shows easily. (K keeps saying "I told you so!" but at least he likes it too).

Monday, December 27, 2010


Lots of places in the Eastern Seaboard/ Northeastern U.S. had tons of snow yesterday and today while we had NONE! It even snowed in Atlanta!

Oh well... Maybe I should be thankful for that or something, but I do love snow, so I'm a bit disappointed. Maybe we'll get even at some later point this winter.

I am SO looking forward to temperatures in the 50s this coming weekend, though! It'll feel like summer, almost. ;-)

P.S. I just realized I only need four more posts to reach my posting goal for this year, but I have lots of them in the pipeline, some even written up already. So that means I'll be going ahead with the posting binge even though it's not technically necessary! ;-)

Trying to Catch Up

We had house guests for ten days -- dear friends & their kids who moved from Brazil to Michigan six months ago -- and in the last 24 hours there were twelve people in this tiny, less than 1200 ft house because brother-in-law and family came to visit.

Considering that six of us were kids 8 and under (two 8s, THREE 6s & one 4), we did great and damages were minimal: one bed sheet used for "tent" where four of the kids had slept under from Friday to Sat. before the other two boys came ended up with permanent marker writings in one corner. Oh, and the marble run (similar to this one) that I got my boys for Christmas and which Kel & B carefully assembled got smashed up and now needs to be reassembled.

The friends left yesterday morning and the in-laws stayed until 6 pm and last night K & I stayed up (till nearly 3 am) watching a movie we've had for 20 days from netflix. We liked it! But today we were really tired, so I slept in and I'm still sleepy and trying to recover from last week.

Now I have to catch up with blog writing. I have a few days to write lots of post to reach my goal of 241 posts this year. So, please bear with me as I go on a end-of-year blogging binge!

Friday, December 24, 2010

20 Years versus 20 Days

After wearing contact lenses for over 20 years, I had to wear glasses for over 20 days. It wasn't easy.

I know I'm privileged because poor eyesight is a really mild ailment, but it was annoying, almost depressing to be constantly reminded of my disability. It was hard to wear winter hats too, and I didn't enjoy not being able to see clearly in the shower.

So I'm really glad to be wearing contacts again, just in time for the holidays! (the doctor declared my eyes healthy yesterday). I've always been thankful for them, but never got to value them so much. I will be much more careful with my eyes and contacts from now on, that's for sure!

Well, I'll come back with one or two more posts later. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lovely PA/ Question about "crampy" stomach flu

We're in PA right now and I think I miss living here a little bit. Not a lot, mind you, but PA (Eastern PA at least, I really don't know the rest of the state) is very pretty. Our last three years in PA were very hard, and that made it easier to move away.

I miss Longwood Gardens a lot and I really liked Philadelphia. Well, we have dear friends here and we can always come to visit, that's some consolation. Our membership to Longwood will end in March, though. :(

We had a nice evening there yesterday, the only problem is that Kelvin had another really bad case of stomach cramps. He's been sick since Friday -- I think this is taking way too long to heal!! The poor boy has been eating next to nothing. Yesterday he only ate in the morning, several vegan banana muffins and then drank Gatorade while we had pizza for lunch. Then, after the show he started feeling pain again. He was unable to vomit this time. And the pain was so severe that I urged K (who stayed with him -- I went to Longwood with our friends) to give him some Tylenol which he did.

Question: has anyone out there had experience with a strange case of stomach flu that doesn't have constant vomiting (he only did it 3 times -- Friday and twice on Monday) and no diarrhea, but intermittent awfully strong stomach cramps/pain? How long did it last? (I think six days is a long time to be sick like this!). Did you give your children anything for pain such as Tylenol? K just gave K some Tylenol because he's feeling a  bit of pain.

We did go to the doctor on Monday afternoon. He examined Kelvin, who was feeling fine by then (why do they always feel fine by the time we take them to the doctor?!) and said he was pretty sure it was a virus and just to keep on giving him mild foods. I asked about Tylenol and he said not to give it and just do warm compresses. Do you think it's a problem to give it for pain? Oh, another thing that the doctor said is that a virus with the same symptoms presented by  Kelvin had been happening for the past month in the county where we live, so I think that's really it in the end.

Any thoughts on this will be appreciated. I hope he's well in the weekend and,  most importantly, that no one else catches this!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's the Most "Longerful" Night of The Year

Too bad I can't be more creative than that...  any other suggestions?

I just wanted to record here that it's really neat that there was a near total lunar eclipse coinciding with Winter Solstice. Are superstitious people interpreting this as a sign of something or a bad omen? Nah... silly things.

I'll go outside to look for the very last time now. K didn't want to get up because he was afraid of not being able to go back to sleep. In 2.5 hours we've got to wake up for the day.

The Eclipse is Cool...

... but less total than I thought it'd be. I don't know if the moon will get darker in the next few minutes, or what, but I don't think it looks completely covered.

It's still really cool! I'm glad I woke up. I slept the minute I hit the pillow and woke up instantly with the alarm. I'm sill sleepy & know I'll fall asleep again instantly -- the gifts of having had to wake up multiple times a night for years: one more of the mothering "adaptations."

Gotta go outside again. I can almost see it from the front door. I can just take a couple of steps & I see the moon. Oh, and the sky was a bit "hazy" earlier, but now it's as clear as can be! Too bad I cannot photograph it. (I know I could try with a tripod, but it's too much of a pain).

Edited to add: 3:59 am
It's just SO cool! The tiniest bright sliver is disappearing now!

I wish I had a telescope, but well... it still looks nice with the "naked eye" (K is jokingly against such "impudent expressions" ;-) Silly K!)

Nice images here.

The Lunar Eclipse

I'm wondering whether I should stay up for the eclipse or simply turn the alarm on. I should go to bed, obviously. As soon as the muffins I'm baking are ready.

Problem is... we have to wake up at 6:30 am so we can leave by 7 to go to Pennsylvania. We have tickets for a show at 1 pm, so we cannot risk being late.

I really want to see the eclipse though. I know... I should have gone to bed earlier, which would have made it easier to wake up at 3:30 am, but I'm obviously still up. Baking vegan banana nut muffins for tomorrow.

The weekend was pretty crazy. It all started with the guests arriving on Friday afternoon (and I was late cooking lunch). Then, Kelvin got sick (vomited a few times) and was pretty sick on Friday evening when we went to a concert and on Saturday morning. Thankfully he "revived" for his school's Christmas program and was fine on that evening. Yesterday he felt stomach pains in the morning, but was fine all day. (note: we invited friends over for dinner & the kids went to bed at midnight last night -- I went only at 3 am, I was grading).

Today was a totally different matter -- and it was the day I had to finalize posting my student's grades online. Kelvin woke up in really terrible stomach pain and as we got ready to take him to the doctor he began to moan loudly and to cry non-stop. We wondered if the had appendicitis or something like it. When we got to the doctor's office he began to feel better and soon felt pretty well. We scheduled the appointment for the afternoon.

Problem was -- he vomited again when we got home (after he was already feeling better). Then, he was fine for the doctor's appointment, but less than an hour after the doctor said he has a stomach bug that has been going around he was in terrible pain again. K brought him home and he vomited again. :(

I know we shouldn't be traveling, but the tickets we bought are nonrefundable, so we'll try to go. I hope he doesn't get sick on the road. Most important of all, I hope nobody catches this pesky virus -- that would ruin Christmas around here! :(

Muffins are baked and taste good. I'm off to bed now. But I'll set my cell phone's alarm on.

P.S. In case you're wondering we were not able to go out to celebrate our anniversary on Saturday night, but we did have a lovely time hanging out with our friends -- and they were in our wedding back in 1994, so that was nice!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

16 Years Ago

It's a little "early," but I'm afraid I won't remember to post tomorrow during the day or evening.* I had actually entirely forgotten which day tomorrow was until I read FireMom's tweets which led me to this post about her date with her husband tonight to celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary a day early.

Well, as it turns out, precisely ten years before her big day, mine took place! I posted photos last year, but this year I will just say that I agree with FireMom that it's possible to be more in love now than when we got married way back in the day. Every single day I'm delighted to think that I married K and that we're happy together. I'm even more delighted in the lovely offspring that we've produced!

In any case, in spite of the hectic day that tomorrow promises to be (see * below), there is a chance that we may be able to go out and celebrate for a bit because we have house guests!! Our friends arrived this afternoon from Michigan with their two children (same age as ours, but girl & boy) to spend the holidays with us and we're thinking that they can stay home with the boys so we can go out. :-D Lovely plan, right?

Obviously, I haven't mentioned this to them yet because I'd completely forgotten about our anniversary, but I'll do that first thing tomorrow!  Someday I'll have to find some time to scan old photos of us... from back when we were young. :( I know, it's not that terrible to be turning 40, but it's not easy either. 

P.S. Some more coincidences between FireMom's life & mine: I am 10 years older than her, we both have two sons and apparently we both love green! ;-) Happy anniversary for you two, Jenna! It looks like you had a fun date.

* We have an extremely busy day coming up due to the snow day last Thursday. Church in the morning & lunch there because the boys' school Christmas Program will be at 3 pm in the afternoon (it was originally scheduled for Thursday evening). Followed by a 7 pm high school band Christmas program.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Softened Water + HE Washer = NIGHTMARE!

In our previous house we had really hard water. Here, there's an "evil"  water softener and I've been having endless trouble to wash my clothes.

Of course I was dumb and had been adding a bit of softener to the loads -- silly me! But I was putting less than a tablespoon of detergent. We bought the Protection plan a couple of months ago (we were offered it & I got the 3 year one -- we can do it even though our washer is two years old!) so I called the Sears technicians today (it's a Kenmore, blah) and this nice lady complimented on my knowledge of my washer & the water situation (this has literally become a near-scientific experiment for me week in, week out). She said I could be a technician too... She instructed me that the machine is probably not spinning right and stopping in the middle of the rinsing cycle because the softener generates suds that clog the draining hose, etc.

So... yeah, boring stuff and I'm trying just running several cycles only with water to rinse the whole thing. She said it might take washing ALL of our clothes at least once before the softener residue can be eliminated. Oh well!

I'm not ruling out other problems with the washer, but I'll try to deal with the softened water situation a little better now that I've been given clear instructions on how to address the problem (or what we think is the problem). I have this nagging suspicion that we ruined the washer on the move by clamping it ourselves (the manual says technicians have to come to clamp it for us). I hope that if this is the problem they don't tell us that it's a "pre-existing condition" and that the plan doesn't apply. Wish me luck!

This post is brought to you as a courtesy of a "grading jail" break. I HAVE to finish my grading tonight, but obviously grading is so time-consuming and boring. If I'm done I'll blog again tonight as a (lame) reward.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"It's fun being a kid," Kelvin said as I snuggled with him one night last week when putting him to bed. I smiled and nodded, but I had no idea what was coming next, "at least, if there's a lot of new technology!"

I had to laugh out loud and assure him (in that boring parent kind of way) that it was still lots of fun being a kid when there was no technology to be had. Then I asked him why he thought technology made things fun and he said: "Mom, it's because there are lots of fun things to use and to play with." He's sure right about that one and lots of people think it's even funner to be an adult with all that technology multiplying every day. Let's go back to Kelvin, though...
Smart, handsome, fun(ny) and...
... definitely geeky (just like his parents, or worse).

My sister-in-law M (the one whose son I saw being born in Canada last July) jokes that he's the only person (not kid, person) she knows who reads owner's manuals for all kinds of stuff.

When we were packing the truck back in May on the week of the move, Kelvin's favorite way to spend time was watching Steve Job's various keynote addresses in the Apple website. Needless to say, my son is an Apple fanatic. He knows everything about Apple's new releases. He's fascinated by the iPad (we've promised him one when he turns 15 in only 6 years (but I have a feeling he'll find a way to earn money to get one sooner), but he knows it's not wise to buy one now and that one should wait until all features of the iPhone G4 are incorporated into the iPad.

Invariable in the middle of a day he'll randomly chime in with a comment about something Apple and he never fails to get K and I to laugh -- particularly if it's during dinner time.

I have probably forgotten half of the things I wanted to share about iKelvin, so let's change the post's title from iKelvin to iKelvin.1 so that way I can keep on posting about him once in a while. :)

P.S. Random piece of information, I started writing this exactly 10 days ago. Obviously I'm here blogging because I have ONLY 27 final exams to grade and final grades to prepare.

Always on My Mind

No, it's not Georgia.

Thankfully, I'm over Georgia. And one of the things that helped a great deal to get over it was looking at houses. So, yeah... it's that house that is always on my mind lately.

And last night K spent a lot of time furiously calculating how much we can afford to pay per month, how much the monthly payment would be with various interest rates and with various amounts of down payments. Debating whether to pay some points or not, or whether to close earlier (breaking the lease and having to pay rent for a few months -- perhaps asking the seller to help out) to get lower interest rates... you get the idea.

I want to go back and see the house again, to make sure that our "love" is indeed passionate and strong enough for such a huge commitment. I'll keep you posted!

P.S. I hope you don't mind shorter and more frequent posting as I try to reach my goal of 241 posts (at least) this year.

Ya Know, I Second Michael Moore

I just read this post by Michael Moore defending Julian Assange
long parenthetical remark:
(is he really going to be Time's Person of the Year? That was my guess last week and my husband totally dismissed it, but today he told me he saw somewhere that it is him -- better than this week's cover [link to cover story, couldn't get a link to an image of the cover itself], Sarah Palin, blah! -- oh, tomorrow we'll know! It's already tomorrow here in the East Coast, but I don't see anything in their site yet)

anyway... I really liked what Moore said and it's sobering to think that something like WikiLeaks could have help avoid the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq war. It's just too late. We live in a different world now, one in which "Big Brother" is getting more and more cruel and more controlling. Deep Sigh.

It's all very complicated. The political climate is pretty bad, they just created the NoLabels "label," it's hard to know where the world is going. One thing is certain. Those in power will do everything they can to keep this power and having dirty secrets is pretty essential to maintain the status quo. So I guess there's no way out.

I really like Moore's point about never trusting "the official version," which is what we're spoon fed by the media. Gotta go to bed now. Hopefully more tomorrow.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Productive Day/ Perfect Rug!

Today was a truly productive day, unfortunately it's past midnight and I still haven't written the final exam my students will be taking tomorrow at 10:30 am. So, yeah, not productive enough. Oh, well... I will get this done tonight somehow, I just want to write a quick post on the blog. All things considered, it's the smallest procrastination strategy I've used today! :)

In any case, today I did five loads of laundry, including the boys' sheets, put most of it away (the last load is drying) and I cleaned the boys' closet a little bit. We also did a most important holiday purchase which involved a frantic search in our over-crowded garage, but I'll blog about that tomorrow.

Here's the over-crowded garage and that, now I recall, was the second important reason why we need a bigger house (that's why I'd taken the photo! thinking of the post):

Last, but not least, I'm thrilled because tonight I went to show a rug to K online and I found the perfect rug for our living room! We'll buy tomorrow here. And now for a couple of (low resolution) photo of the rug (the link has better photos), before I can go prepare that pesky final exam. 
P.S. tomorrow I'm cooking dinner for my students. It should be fun!

Back in the Game

So... yeah. Sorry for that negative post (so badly written! I wrote "anyway" some 4-5 times in that post, yikes!). K started freaking out about buying a house and I think it's a bit of post-traumatic-stress disorder because of what happened with the previous house, so, yeah... some stress and heartbreak for nothing. Roller-coaster, remember?

Calculating, calculating... it's all K does now. And it's true that home ownership means giving tons of money away to some nameless investors who are doing nothing while we work hard to pay the mortgage. Not the most appealing idea in the world. Actually, it's downright depressing if you think long and hard about it. That doesn't mean we won't do it again. For the fourth time. We were OK before, so, hopefully, we'll be OK now too.

I talked to my parents this weekend -- they were with my brother in Brazil for a few days and I just uploaded photos of the house so they can see it. After all, my dad is helping us out with the down payment (we're trading our lot+house next to his house in Brazil for a single lot he has in another development and he's paying us back the difference). We still don't know whether it's going to work out, but we'll try. And we're going into it with eyes wide open -- not that we weren't for the first three houses. I'll keep you posted.

P.S. I will be posting more often in the days to come so I can fulfill my goal of at least 241 posts in 2010. 17 more posts to go. I better keep posting!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why We Need a Bigger House (among other reasons)

Look at our nice stairs, directly in front of our front door (we live in a Cape Cod townhome -- there are two bedrooms upstairs, facing the back of the house):

When you get to the top, however, where can you step? This is what's right ahead of you:

If you look to the right you see the boys' bedroom:

 And to the left is the "office/guest room:"

Another view from inside the boys' bedroom:

From the office towards the boys' room:
We lived like this for nearly two weeks before we took it all down three days ago. The worst part is that the boys only play with it for a few days and then, they get so attached to it (because every single track they design is unique and hard to assemble) that they don't want to get it dismantled. And we, in hopes they'll play and be entertained by it, let it stand. Until it's obvious that it's not being played with anymore for days, at which point we have them dismantle it.

Even if we had more room it would still work that way, but at least we wouldn't have to step over tracks multiple times a day! :)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Nah, it was a fluke

Forget what I said, OK? I won't delete the post 'cause it's just a record of what's going on in our lives (or, more precisely, my inner life). It was a charming moment while it lasted, but reality has to be faced in a grown up manner. 

Oh, and the next post I'll write will be meant as a joke. Some twisted humor. Anyway... I will write it just after this one in spite that it'll sound strangely funny. 

So, anyway, air goes out of the balloon just like that. We DO have to save for a couple of years to be able to afford a mortgage. We cannot just pay through the nose monthly just because whiny me doesn't want to live cramped up for another year and a half. That would be stupid. Yeah, I hate myself for being like this (wanting things I cannot have and hating money and being so whiny and insufferable). 

Anyway... leaving the "tantrumy" discussion aside ("why did we even have to start looking at houses? why? oh why?!!!") -- 'cause I'm done with that in "real life" -- we have to get rational and avoid past mistakes at all costs. Though that link and the fact that I had to read that posts and some more from 2007  last night sounds a bit cruel for me right now (since I feel pretty disappointed too). 

I had more to say, but now I feel so deflated that all I can do is to stop here and go ahead and write the (now uselessly silly) photo post I've been planing to write for days. Though my head hurts.

P.S.  WARNING: boooring description of my crazy day. Read at your own risk. Longer than the post itself, yikes!!

it has been a loooong day. I went to the university to meet a student who didn't show up (he hadn't checked his email), but then it was nice 'cause I made a handout for my evening class. I was going to have lunch with K, but I found out there was a departmental meeting with lunch provided so I stayed. But staying meant that I had less than 3 hours to cook the food I'd planned to bring for my students. I left in a hurry and forgot my purse in the meeting room [called dept. secretary, asked her to give purse to a colleague]. Rushed home and warned my students over email that I might be late and even got phone #s so I could text them for them to come help me unload the car. I baked for 3 hours (Brazilian carrot cake -- I thought I had posted a recipe here in the blog, but I haven't! I should do it!; a heart of palm casserole and Brazilian "cheese rolls" [pão de queijo] + cooked a pot of soup for K & the boys to take to a potluck party) and rushed to class over 20 minutes late. When I got there, the students told me the class was locked and I had forgotten my keys, so we headed to the department building and, thankfully, there was an unlocked classroom!! And the department chair came taste my food (do I score points or what? not that she can do anything for me other than give me the two classes I already have, but, maybe... someday in the future that will change). So... yeah. Drove home, etc. And now had stressful discussion with hubby & made him upset. Just like me. blah. Headache is better! Blogging is confirmed as therapeutic. 

It Looks Like We Might Be Entering into a Serious Relatioship

If you're a longtime reader, you'll remember my 2007 posts about finding a house, and how sad I was when we had to "break up" with the house we thought was "the one."

Ah... sometimes I don't even remember the crazy things we've been through in the past four years. Wow. Just reading that post feels weird.

2007-2008 were CRAZY years. In 07 we made three different offers and had two home inspections (what a waste of money that was, with that first house). After we bought the other house I drove past "the one" a few times, but I quickly forgot my very slight heartbreak.

Anyway... everything that has happened between then and now has made us much more cautious and careful. I don't think we made any mistakes with our previous house either (since it did sell). I'm still grieving for it a little bit -- it comes and goes and doesn't stay with me long enough that warrants blogging about it, but someday I do want to do it. But the house in the post I've linked to above? I had all but forgotten it, were it not for the fact that the current house we like reminds us of it a little bit (they're both "box-like").

So, yeah... we saw four houses today. We liked the main "alternative," but there neighborhood isn't good and there's no doubt that that charming property is the best one. We won't make an offer until January, and we're thinking about this very carefully and rationally. I'm not scared anymore either. I took tons of photos, but I can't wait to go back and take more (I missed taking pictures from some angles :(  ). Online albums will be made for family members and any friends who may want to see more.

I think this is cool. I hope it all works out. I know it will.

Edited to add: I re-read the 2007 post and now I know one thing I want to do for sure in the new house, whichever it may be: I want to plant a Bradford Pear tree or Kwanzan Cherry (see "carpet of flower" photos in that post), or whatever tree that one was (please email me if you know!)... Or maybe a weeping willow cherry tree, those are lovely. A carpet of pink flowers, that's all I want.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Mother's Greatest Fear

Reading Katie Allison Granju's blog this year has made me keenly aware of how devastating it is to lose a child. Her experience notwithstanding, my own greatest fear as a mother has always been dying when my sons were (are) still young.

Elizabeth Edwards' death made me think about that today. I can't imagine how hard it must have felt to have to say goodbye to her 10 and 12 year old children. It breaks my heart to think of that. We mothers want to be there for our children, to give our all so that they're happy, loved, well taken care of and the idea that we won't be able to provide that, to be there for them must be devastating.

I'm glad she had time to say goodbye to them and her other family members. Princess Diana's sudden death didn't give her the opportunity and I always felt very sad for princes William and Harry for losing their mother while they were fairly young.

I hope this doesn't happen to my boys, I really do (and it's not for my sake that I think that -- I don't really think that I'll be missing their milestones, etc. It's about them that I feel concern, I can only think of how much they'll miss me and how I won't be there for them. Is that selfish thinking?).

A Little Scared

Our realtor called back and we're going to see 3-4 houses tomorrow. I'm a little scared. I don't want to like the houses too much. We need to be very rational about this. We usually are, we've done OK in the past, but it's still hard because there's no room for error in real estate transactions since it's such a "huge (not big) ticket" item. And I think we also have a tiny bit of "post-traumatic stress disorder" given our past housing woes. I don't think K will lose his job again, though, so... we should be OK. ;-)

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Options Are A Very Good Thing

I spent the day in that half-dreaming state of a newly infatuated person. Thinking of the house every few minutes and smiling to myself, the newness of it still clinging to my thoughts in a very pleasant way.

This evening K began to work hard at avoiding the trap of only liking/wanting one house and he was successful! Before he was finished clearing the dinner table I was already convinced that one other house was worth our attention and as he washed dishes he happily sighed and said "I'm glad you like it, because liking only one house is very bad indeed." ;-)

We've just spent nearly an hour looking at multiple listings and we found another interesting option (though it's an old house that has been thoroughly renovated and we don't really want old homes), so that's good. The only thing is that our realtor is about to travel, so I think we're only going to start this whole house hunting game in January. We wonder whether we should wait for the Spring listings to come in before getting serious about an offer... well, because we do have options, this might be a course we're willing to follow.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the "perfect" house we'd seen a couple of months back and were thinking about and driving family members to see was sold! :( My disappointment lasted for about five minutes and then we found a few other lovely homes (one of which had just been listed and sold in a few days, but that one was almost 100K above our budget because it came with 10 acres, so that's fine!).

It's certainly exciting to be looking at houses and thinking about the future again. I think the post about the " negative side" of staying will never get written after all. And that's good too.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Capitalism: A Love Story & Wiki Leaks (or "Principled Leaking")

Note: minor edits done on 12/1/10.
Last weekend we (belatedly) watched Michael Moore's latest film & tonight I finally emerged from under this rock I was living ;) and learned more about Wiki Leaks. Wow... fascinating. And I guess that by the end of this post I will probably find a way to connect these two things.

First, a short history of my "anti-capitalist" upbringing. OK, it was NOT really anti-capitalism, but it was very definitely pro-socialism. My parents lived in Europe for three years (and there I was born, I hate that part, maybe I'll blog more about this some other time, but you can read a few items here) and there my mom had a brief experience with England's socialized medicine that left a deep impression in her. They were traveling in England around the time of my first birthday and my mom had a really unexpected case of hay fever (asthmatic symptoms). She went to the doctor, was given prescription medication and it didn't cost a thing (or she paid something and was fully reimbursed later). They also spent a few months in Sweden and were positively impressed with the system there too.

So when I was growing up, my mom always said that she thought that "social democracy" was the best model and that socialized medicine is great. Brazil does have a socialized medical system together with private insurance (I've owed Karen a post about that for years now!), but it's obviously greatly inferior than its European counterparts. Then I went to the University of São Paulo (USP) and there... ah... Marxism reigns supreme! ;-) So I was nicely indoctrinated. Not that I hadn't always leaned left already. The funny thing is that when I met K he had recently voted to a politician on the right for president whom I hated (Paulo Maluf). Thankfully, within less than a year of dating me (and he also went to USP) he was a leftist too (and years later we campaigned for the worker's party candidate for mayor -- shocking lots of our church friends). ;-)

Anyway... all of this to say that Michael Moore was "preaching to the choir" as far as I am concerned. There were still a few things to be learned in Capitalism: A Love Story, most of which I guess I already forgot because this is, IMHO, his weakest documentary. It's pretty boring at times. His invectives at Wall Street with the Crime Scene tape are pathetic! Please! In any case, in spite of the fact I think this is the weakest documentary entertainment-wise, is the least appellative one -- he really is exposing old, sad, evident truths. And I did watch Roger & Me years ago and that was really good and totally the basis for the newer film. It's all very depressing and outrageous, but not as much as the Abramov documentary.

So, yeah, in the end I don't have a lot to say about Capitalism. As for the Wiki Leaks, of course I've been listening about it for years, particularly on NPR, my major source of news these days (together with browsing Time magazine weekly) and last week most shows were mentioning it and analyzing the latest diplomatic leaks.

Thankfully, Laura twitted a link to this excellent New Yorker article about Assange and the Wiki Leaks that really enlightened me greatly about the whole thing.

And I guess that the weirdest thing that happened was that... I feel strangely sympathetic to this guy and his grandiose scheme. I mean... I really don't subscribe to conspiracy theories, but the truth is that governments and big corporations are obviously not to be trusted and do lots of harm too. And the second dismaying fact is that the media is awfully twisted and almost corrupt too! They're clearly not doing their job well and when you read Wiki Leaks' "About" page their arguments about "principled leaking" make perfect sense!

Now of course it can make harm, destroy diplomatic relations, etc, etc... but... I don't know. Do I really care? I think that in the end I'm pretty rebellious and non-conformist and this guy's personal story is fascinating to me. And all the support he has worldwide is a testimony that lots and lots of people are anti-government and highly suspicious of politicians, the media, etc.

So... yeah... I don't know what I really think about this. And the feeling I get after seeing a documentary like Moore's as well as the Abramov one we saw the other week is one of hopelessness. Assange is doing something, isn't he? Something pretty crazy, that's for sure! I couldn't bring myself to watch the Iraq video ("Colateral Murder"), but reading about the whole process of its "production" and release in the New Yorker article was fascinating. I'm wondering now if they'll "catch" this guy and shut him up. I think that Wiki Leaks may continue without him, no?  And the other thing is, if they do "shut him up" won't that just prove his point that they're trying to hide stuff and silence dissenters?

Oh well... I have to also disclose that I taught several times (four) a class in dystopian fiction (such as 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 etc.) and reading about Assange totally made me think of those works of fiction -- so much of what those authors imagined is getting closer and closer to reality nowadays. It's scary. Big brother's watching! My blog will be under surveillance from now on! (just kidding, but, really, who knows?)

Edited to add: There are other very good articles appearing in the media. I haven't read time to finish reading, but the Atlantic published: David Samuels's The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange in which a point I forgot to mention above is hammered down: the most frustrating thing about the Wiki Leaks is how journalists (and I think that also researchers, historians and other scholars) have failed big time in doing serious analysis of the documents that Wiki Leaks has made public. It's pretty clear that the media (and the scholars) seem to be biased in favor of governments and authority figures. Here's an impassioned quote from Samuels's article:
Wikileaks is a powerful new way for reporters and human rights advocates to leverage global information technology systems to break the heavy veil of government and corporate secrecy that is slowly suffocating the American press.
P.S. I have a hard time thinking about politics in this country. I think the split is absurd, what's going on now in Congress is infuriating to me. I don't want to think of how the next two years are going to be. Sometimes I don't really feel like becoming a citizen two years from now. But that's another story. And I probably will. Blah.

I Wish We Weren't So Helplessly Smitten :(

We're breaking all the rules of smart real estate transactions (or any transactions that involve money, for that matter). We are in madly in love with a house when we shouldn't be. Emotions should never be involved in these kinds of things, but... well, we just can't help ourselves.

In addition, it's too early, we shouldn't have been looking at houses in the first place (we can only close in May, that's when our lease ends). Too bad that's not that big of a concern with this house because the builder must be desperate to sell and might wait to close 'till then.

K found more photos online this morning and that isn't helping one bit. Particularly because the description in this other site says that the house has an upstairs laundry! (that, for me, makes this house virtually perfect. And the laundry room is tiled!). Oh, and coincidentally, the tiles in the bathrooms are exactly the same ones we put in the tiny master bath in our previous house (they're porcelain tiles from Brazil, BTW).

If only we hadn't been inside it too... Sigh. I can't stop thinking and dreaming about it. And K has been doing the Math (we can afford it). I hope our realtor gets back to us soon!

P.S. email me if you're curious to see more of the house.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Really Random (& Superfluous?) Thursday Tidbits

My lunch today consisted of food samples at Costco (I have to confess I tried a few things twice, I was so hungry! ;-)

I had a really strange dream with the Zuckerberg guy (facebook founder), too weird to share, but not as weird as yesterday's dream in which I had parked my car in an indoor parking lot to go somewhere and when I came back everything in the car had been stolen, there was only the carcass! And it was not only my car, but others there too. I felt helplessly stunned.

The class was good -- it had everything to be bad, but then I managed to turn it around by getting the students "into" one of the activities we did. Inch by inch, I'm getting a better about this teaching language thing. Which is a great relief.

Note to self: blog about my son and Apple.

I went to this store and was able to buy one needed thing for each member of the family (each around $20 -- K's was the cheapest, mine the most expensive): jeans for K, brown boots for me, a pair of sneakers for each boy -- coincidentally the very same pair was available in both their sizes!

I'm so sad!! (drama queen much?) ;-) I went to this other store because I had to spend this 10 dollar voucher. I bought a pair of pants and was on my way to the car when I went back to go to the bathroom. That was when I saw it! And unfortunately, sadly, fell head over heels for this delicate & feminine wool coat (photo on the left and below). It's a little bit too "fru-fru" with all the rosettes around the neck, but it's black! You can't go wrong with black, even frilly like that. Sigh.
I hate it, really hate it when I fall in love with something superfluous like this pretty coat. Most, if not all of my clothes come off clearance racks (luckily I can still find things I like there) and I'm not very picky. I do have a very specific taste, though, and I'm not easily swayed by fashions and trends. If I don't like something (e.g. peep-toe shoes of any kind, I find them horrid, always have, ever since I was a kid) I won't buy it, no matter how fashionable it is (today I could have bought "Ugg" style boots, but I think they're ugly -- in spite of being warm and comfy -- so, no, I didn't buy them). So, yeah, I like this coat and I wanted to write a whole post about it, but couldn't bring myself to do it either.

Hmmm.... difficult subject. House hunting. Hard subject because the right thing to do would be to continue renting for two years to save money for a down payment. I don't want to do that, though! I really want us to have our own house again, though, for reasons I will explore in a future post. :( Anyhow, poor K needs to prepare classes, but I pulled him into house hunting tonight (we like to use Trulia) and the poor guy is still doing it -- no class prepared.  I took a break to write this post, but right now I'm making a really strong effort not to be completely smitten (again!) by this gorgeous, brand new house that we happened to see last Spring (we walked into an open house with our realtor). It's above our price range, but It's Brand New! And Fancy! Granite! Ceramic Tile! Crown Moulding! Chair rail! oh well... All superfluous things again -- ha! I'm adding that word to the title.

Anyway... yeah. Good thing K seems to be smitten too. That's why he's not working right now. Sigh. oh, and he allowed me to email our realtor about it too. I'll keep you posted.