Monday, May 30, 2011

7 Years Ago!

At 2:52 in the afternoon, seven years ago, my youngest son, my "baby," was born. It was a joyous day, in spite of the fact that my mother- and father-in-law missed being at the birth for a few hours because they had to fly to TX to be there for my BIL's wedding a week later -- as I left for the hospital, they left for the airport.

And six days later I would fly to TX too, this time with a newborn, surprising the whole family with our presence.  That part was fun! When my husband's grandma saw me inside the car, she exclaimed, "But with who did she leave the baby?" She could not imagine that one would actually travel with a newborn and that the baby was right there with me. :)

I think of that birth with fondness because I know I won't go through that ever again (longtime blog readers will know that I've always felt sad and conflicted about our decision not to have another baby).

His party was two weeks ago, but after going out to eat, we came back to a house full of visitors -- our Brazilian friends from Philly who had stopped by on their way back home after spending the weekend at a camp 1h30 from our house -- so he had friends to play with for a few hours and to sing happy birthday to him once more:
He was so happy! He is a happy boy who brings us lots of joy!

Oh, and last Friday, also the last day of school for my boys, I brought this to his class:
I guess our celebrations for his birthday are officially over now! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Six Weddings, a Funeral & a Baby Shower

So much crazy and appalling stuff going on in the world (a rapture & end of the world that didn't come, deadly tornadoes once more, this time not in Alabama, but in Missouri) and here I am, navel-gazing. It feels 100% inappropriate, but it's either this or not blogging for me because that's what I feel like blogging today.

A friend's facebook update from this weekend: "wedding, wedding, graduation, wedding, funeral, wedding, graduation, baby shower, wedding, wedding."

My gut reaction: "that only means you have lots and lots of friends and that's a wonderful thing! I missed literally hundreds of weddings in the 15 years I've been out of Brazil. I haven't gone to one in a long time. :(" --> for the record, of the events above, I participated of the funeral -- just the viewing, and the baby shower.

And I had to post another comment to clarify my previous one: "[I'm] sorry, but your update just reminded me of how hard it is to keep moving to new places every few years and the fact that I left 25 years of life behind by moving to another country. I'm usually reconciled to our decision to do that most of the time, but once in a while, it hurts a little bit."

Yes, it does. Sometimes it hurts a whole lot. I must be hormonal right now (I never know when stuff is going on in that dept. in my life, have never known, since I'm 100% "irregular"), but still... being an expatriate is hard and once in a while I need to have a good cry about it, so maybe today is the day. It also helps if I write on my journal and blogging will probably help too.

I'm thrilled with our new house, our neighborhood, the boys' school + church community (both adjacent to a boarding academy) and the prospect of living here for many years. However, as the school year comes to a close and we attend big (Spring Concert) and small (classroom "Author's tea" & Sports award night) events at the boys' school, it becomes clear that most people have lots of friends and have been part of this community for years and I'm still pretty much a newcomer who doesn't really belong. 

This is a feeling that I've long learned to live with and I need to say that we do have a few good friends already. It didn't help that in the past year we lived in a really small house and weren't able to entertain much, only our Brazilian friends, so we weren't able to interact with a lot of people that we wanted to come over. I'm sure that after we have more people visit us we can make more friends. 

The (maybe sad) truth is that since we left Brazil nearly 15 years ago, I only began to be truly happy after I felt part of a virtual community of like-minded friends through this blog. Only then I stopped talking about going back to Brazil. I wrote all about it in a post (still one of my favorites), titled How Blogging Changed my Life from November 2006.

It's been five years in this "virtual life" and although I continue to love blogging and blog reading, the truth is that I need "real life" friends too. It doesn't feel good at all not to have any really close and dear friends to invite to my 40th birthday party. I dreamed of having that in Brazil, of assembling all my dearest "old friends," but that's not gonna happen. We have a house instead (bitter irony, no? I HATE HATE money again. I envy rich people with a vengeance. whatever, useless, stupid rage). 

So, yeah. It doesn't make me feel any better to write this post. I understand that we moved here one year ago and that I need to work hard to make new friends. The hard part is that it's very hard to make "true friends," especially now that the standards have been raised dramatically by my "bloggy" interactions with brilliant, caring, wonderful people like you. I truly feel partly handicapped by my addiction to blogging (which otherwise I usually see as a good thing). 

Thanks for listening, those who were patient enough to read the whole thing. 

I don't really feel bad for missing hundreds of weddings in the past 15 years. I enjoy leading an adventurous expatriate life. So I have to lift my head high and rejoice that I have so many friends (and family) all over the world and in addition to them, I have lots more wonderful friends online. Thanks for being there for me!

And we remain kitty-less

just an update on the previous post. K overruled the boys and me in our wild and mostly irrational desire to have a kitty again. He thinks that it's not worth to have the boys' allergies and asthma get worse because of a furry friend. :( :(  :(

I'm still upset, but really numb about it all. I won't fight with my husband because of that. He's probably right. The problem is that this exact situation is what I feared and what hurt me the most after Blues disappeared -- I knew how "convenient" it was to have him gone and I knew that with the boys' allergy diagnoses, the chances of me having a cat again were slim.

Sorry, I can't write anymore, I'm crying. I don't want to talk/think about it anymore. I gotta go finish my other depressing post. What a sad night for blogging. Sorry!! :(

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Too Cute to Resist

It's too much of a temptation for a cat-starved family, isn't it? The offer of this cuteness:
A girl, about 7 months old, fixed. Well taken care of.

When the boys saw the photos (my friend who needs to give her away sent us more than one), they wanted her right away and they said: "She looks like Blue's sister." K thinks she's cute too, but he has one requirement -- that she has a think fluffy tail like Blues did. ;) I don't know if she does, but I sure like the white spot on her "chin."

Home Alone

I should have been cleaning the house (and I still intend to do it), but I'm enjoying my day home alone, the first in a few months (both in the past and future since school will be out for the summer next week on Friday).

I began re-reading Jane Eyre (I don't want to see the film without re-reading), I had some tea, I ate leftovers for lunch, I read blogs, etc...

Talking of blogging, I need to blog about the house, the garden, eye-troubles and other things... I hope I can do it soon. I really should go clean the house now, though, so this will be it for now.

We're going to my brother-in-law's house for my nephew's birthday and picking up my parents at my aunt & uncle's house -- next week will be my parents' last week here, then we take them to NY for a few days before they go back to Brazil on June 1st. I think next week will be a busy week and I don't know how much time for blogging I'll have, so I will try to blog again later today, let's see how it goes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Cake/ Treasure Hunt book recommendation

Not bad, huh? ;)

And here's the birthday boy with his birthday crown (he picked it on Friday at the dollar bin at target):
The party was awesome! Thanks to this great Klutz book that I cannot recommend enough:

The treasure hunts all are ready for you, all you have to do is to remove each clue (they're read to be torn off the book -- I don't know which word to use in English for pre-cut paper that you "tear" off) and then hide them according to the instructions.

The first time I saw this book was back in 2001 when we had K's 30th birthday party at a friend's house and she had a treasure hunt for him and our other friend's kids. I thought it was so much fun that bought the book the following week and saved it for my then future children. I've only used it two or three times before because most clues were too hard for my boys years ago (there are two that can be used with very young children -- a color one and another with pictures, the others are more complicated).

Today, I selected three of the hunts and hid the clues around the house. Then, I divided the 15 kids in three groups and had each group do one of the hunts. I didn't have any "treasure" (except at the end of the last hunt -- the box of favor bags) -- the hunts themselves were their reward. It worked really great and kept the kids entertained for about 30 minutes (because the last hunt took quite a while).Then, we had a simple craft (EVA sheets and adhesives, including letters for their names) and that by this time we were ready to eat.

The only drawback was the storm that we had about an hour before the party and which soaked a few chairs that we had already set up under the deck. My dad had put tarps and other large plastic sheets on the deck to try to keep the water from dripping below, but it didn't work at all! Thankfully, by the time we had to eat, the weather had cleared and we could do it under the deck.

I'm exhausted, but we're talking to K's best friend who is visiting from Brazil -- when you see a friend only once a year for a few days, there's no way not to be talking into the night. He was here when K read that fateful email from the Georgia school last year and which let us hanging until last October. I'm so thrilled that we stayed here, everyone LOVES out house (most friends who came to the party were seeing the house for the first time). I will try to post some house photos soon, OK?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Sad First: Store bought cake

We have a birthday party tomorrow and I can't believe I'm not totally-completely freaking out. Actually, this post's topic is one of the reasons... (sigh).

If you're a longtime reader, you'll know that I'm a "from scratch" baking and cooking person. By principle and also because of my family history and culture (most people cook/bake from scratch in Brazil). Anyway... That's not going to happen tomorrow because my younger son specifically told me that he does not like my cake(s) and told me that he wanted a store bought cake. (sigh again).

I know that for some of you this must be a silly thing to be sad about, but for me... well... it is sad. It's part of life as an expatriate, too. The request for the store-bought cake demonstrates that my son identifies more with his friends and the culture he's inserted in than with his family's values. This is natural, I totally get it. And it is also a matter of taste, since my son is not a big sweets person and not a cake eater.

My nine year old hypothesized that what in fact is going on is that his brother wants a cake that his friends are going to like, but I'm not sure this is the case.

the only bad thing about this story is that I didn't order the cake until Friday afternoon (when I took the birthday boy to town and he picked the cake he wanted), so I have to go there to pick it up tomorrow morning...

The truth is that I am immensely relieved that I don't have to deal with baking and frosting, particularly frosting (YUCK! My sons don't like frosting either, phew!).

There is another "first" about our party tomorrow, but I can't even remember what it is. Let's see if I do until tomorrow. ;)

Friday, May 13, 2011


The main reason why I haven't been posting is inertia. You can call it laziness too, but I prefer the physics word better (and not because of K ;). Getting an object to move requires quite a bit of force and then, if the surface isn't smooth enough, its roughness will make the object stop. Then it's hard to get it moving again. Conversely, a person can get hurt if a moving car suddenly breaks because one's body will keep on moving and be thrown forward...  (yeah, I guess I learned a little bit back in high-school...)

For me, the first scenario is true of blogging and the second on, of reading blogs and stuff online (I just keep going... blah).

I get frustrated with myself because I know I could be writing so much, about so much stuff and yet, I don't. And life goes on and I forget the little things that matter. I haven't been writing on my journal either.

I almost blogged on Tuesday... but I then I tweeted (twittered?) instead:

FINISHED!!! Grading and catching up on 6 days of twitter feeds. PHEW! (I hate grading. I wish they could all have worked hard and gotten As)
10 May via web 

I spent quite a bit of time grading last Monday (after not doing any work over the weekend -- we had a lovely sightseeing trip on mother's day -- another thing I could/should have blogged about), then I had to shop and plan for my son's birthday party on Sunday... not to mention continued looking for stuff for the house. 

Then yesterday was a crazy day with events at the university followed by the Spring concert at the boys' school. 

And tonight? Well, we were supposed to go pick up a friend at the local airport at about 11 pm. However, his flight is delayed (first it was 11:23, then 12:18 am, but now... , the airline's website is listing 1:23 am. It's going to be a looong night! K took the boys to bed and is sleeping for a bit, but I am keeping vigil. I was planning to go with K, but I think I'm going to go to bed instead. This poor friend has been visiting us at about this time of the year for the past three years and he's already had to spend at least one night at an airport when  he was scheduled to arrive at our house on Friday night (once he arrived at 3 pm on Saturday -- crazy, huh?). I hope he's taking a nap somewhere in the airport while he waits for his flight to depart (servicing of the aircraft is the excuse given by the airline). 

OK, let's see if I can post some photos and talk about the house too in future posts.

update: 1:13 now. If only it could get to 12:13... :(
until 12:23pm the airline said that at 1:23 it would arrive, but now, they changed it to 1:38 am. I think I'm waking up K and going to bed now. 

Friday, May 06, 2011

Is teaching a "calling"? Question for my friend Anastasia (for Aliki too)

(second post today. this came first)
This won't be long (I hope) because I don't really have an answer and I hardly even have an opinion to this, just a gut reaction -- which I think is pretty strange. (but maybe it will be long because I don't have answers, but I have a long personal history with the subject)

I started this post in my previous one: "Yesterday I was listening to NPR when this guy -- a police officer -- was talking about his job and he compared it to teaching -- which is not a regular job, but 'a calling.' Hmmm... I thought, that's exactly the idea that I've been having trouble with for a long time now and I had even forgotten the name for it."

So, this whole thing about "a calling" bothers me greatly. And brings me to some early memories. See, my mother was a teacher. She started teaching during her high school years and she continued for over 35 years (with a few breaks). Mom was also an academic, she got her master's degree in education when I was about 11 or 12 [I will try to blog more about that for mother's day]. And the thing is, my mother did NOT want me to become a teacher (or, for that matter, a professor). She actively advised me against it.

I think the first time was one day when I was reading on my swing (oh, I wish I had photos of those swings my dad put on a couple of tall trees in those magic five years when we lived in a rural area at a boarding academy)... we were talking and my mom told me she didn't want me to be a teacher. It's too much sacrifice, she said, too much work.

She retired with glee on the year Kelvin, her first grandson, was born (2002) and never looked back. And she was an awesome teacher and professor, one that countless students remember and talk about to this day.

So, yeah... I guess I tried to escape it, but it was useless. I've always LOVED to study and learn and what can a person who enjoys studying for years on end do but teach? So I've taught. I started with private tutoring and then teaching English to kids and teens when I was in college, and in graduate school I taught TONS as well.

Now that I'm back in the classroom and particularly in the past two weeks when I really began to be more involved with several of my students (including some of those who are really struggling in my class), I've been thinking about the whole "calling" issue. I'm obviously very familiar with this word with a religious sense because of my upbringing and background, and I wonder if its use to refer to education is precise or not.

What is this "calling" referring to? To the fact that if you teach you spend countless hours doing things that you cannot really be adequately compensated for?

I really like what Anastasia wrote on Tuesday here (and I've been so busy I only read today):
Teaching requires mad inner resources. 
And it does, it really does (and I'm so sorry you don't have the physical resources you need, Anastasia. I feel really really lucky that I do -- well, I shouldn't!! It should be the minimal right of anyone who teaches, right?)

What say you about this issue of calling and teaching?

P.S. I'm sure my friend Aliki could say insightful things about this subject too. Feel free to write a post of your own about it, Aliki!

I wish you could read my brain...

... 'cause I write so many great blog posts in my head!

And then I feel utterly frustrated because I don't get to write even a fraction of them. I wish "publishing" wasn't so hard. It's just that I cannot let myself throw out great ideas for posts writing them poorly (like this one, written on the fly).

Obviously it doesn't help that this was finals week and I was BUSY with that last week on Sunday, then on Monday from 8 am to noon, then Tuesday again for several hours, Wednesday for more hours that I thought I would and then yesterday for the better part of the day. My two finals were supposed to be on Monday and Thursday, but I'd made a mistake and listed Tuesday on the syllabus for the Thursday one and then my students bought tickets and made travel plans so I had to accommodate them. sigh.

[digression about teaching begins -- not that I have anything to digress from since this post doesn't exactly have a point or main idea... ;)]
Yesterday I was listening to NPR when this guy -- a police officer -- was talking about his job and he compared it to teaching -- which is not a regular job, but "a calling." Hmmm... I thought, that's exactly the idea that I've been having trouble with for a long time now and I had even forgotten the name for it.

Hey! I'll write this into a post, promise.  [so, unfinished digression -- isn't that crazee?] -- post is written exactly in 20 minutes! so I will try to finish this one now, and it will be even lamer!!

Oh, and the other thing I was busy this week was shopping for bedding - fun!! (returning bedding and finding better and cheaper stuff elsewhere: even more fun!); opening tons of boxes FULL of books, most of which I hadn't seen in nearly a year: what a thrill!

So... not enough energy and time to blog.

I want to finish this off by listing a few posts I really want(ed) to write:

- list flowers I want to plant;
- show how the house is coming along;
- share photos I took this morning for an hours (wild flowers!!);
- think in writing about the summer;
- etc...
I hope I can find the time to blog more. It was one of my few resolutions this year (and I have a post about that in the works for months. Sigh).