Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Slowly, very slowly... I begin to really like our new house. Not that I didn't like it before, it's just that it is hard, nearly impossible, for me to imagine how it feels like to live in a place for many many years... and I am beginning to think that maybe we will live in this house for a long time (we will? really? the skeptic in me cannot reconcile to this idea).

You see, that never really happened in my life... I've never had a "hometown," I've never known what having a family home (where you spent your childhood) to go back to feels like. A good metaphor for how  "unsettled/unsettling" my life is and has been is my "birth country" trauma, caused by the fact that I was born in a country which doesn't allow me to have its nationality.* And then there are the many times I moved (either places or from one rental house to another. Five years was the most I ever lived in one house (I did live in the city of São Paulo for 12 years, but moved a few times during this period). For my husband's family it was worse. We calculated once that in 20 years K's family had moved, I don't know, 13-15 times (including a house or apartment a year in one city).**

A few months ago I was having a hard time thinking that we had finally "settled down" somewhere, but I didn't blog about it at the time because I didn't really know how to say this (not that today I'm going to be any better). In fact, the idea of settling down sounds nearly incomprehensible to me after so many years in my life -- actually, my whole life, all 40 years of it -- moving from place to place and not knowing where I would end up. Unconsciously I keep thinking that we'll sell this house again and move elsewhere and start from scratch once more... because this is just what "normal" is in my life.

The funny thing is that when I met K, my biggest desire in life was to be able to have what I never had -- a stable place, give my children a "childhood home" and roots. However, in these 21 years together, I seem to have changed and become just like K was/is: he has always said that after the first traumatizing move he remembers in his life -- when he was 6 years old and followed by many others -- he just can't stand living in the same place for too long, that he needs new adventures. I had a hard time adapting to that kind of thinking, but when we left Brazil and moved here, I think that changed.

So... as I contemplate many years living in this area, having the boys grow up here (OK, they're pretty grown up by now, poor things, having moved a lot too), I feel torn between that old desire I had of putting down roots somewhere, and the impulse to experience new things.

Ultimately, I don't know what will happen (and sometimes I fantasize about K getting an offer to go somewhere after he gets tenure, but that's sooooo unlikely!)... so the best I can do is to enjoy this house, this region and let those roots grow... after all, we should "bloom where we're planted," right?

* I probably blogged about this before (at least in my 50 things about me posts), but if you don't know the story, I was born in Geneva, Switzerland when my dad was studying in France (right on the border) and my mom was doing an specialization at the University of Geneva. There's only one small detail... Switzerland refused to give anyone born there their citizenship... they're just "too good." As a result, I spent my whole childhood being told "Oh, you're Swiss" and replying angrily -- no, I'm not!! I'm Brazilian!" Sigh...

** Of course I know that it's even worse for "army families" because then it's around the world...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I like teaching, but grading...

... is a pain.

edited to add -- I'm sorry, folks!! I'm totally, 100% repeating myself in this post! I already wrote most of this rant on 11/7. Please blame it on NaBoPloMo, OK? (I do have an "extra" here, the link to a previous post about my traumatizing experience of online teaching).

Seriously. Grading papers is SOOO subjective that it drives me nuts! I feel like all I do is "justify" the grade I give in my comments. I can't stand writing comments... I think I sound so hollow, so untrue!

Sometimes I wish I could simply give everyone As, but that wouldn't be honest, that's not part of my job. I need to help students get better at what they're doing.

But when I don't grade and give them back their assignments in a timely manner, I'm NOT helping them!! So... there you go. I'm officially the less helpful professor in the face of the earth (OK, maybe not, I returned one of 4 papers and most of the 2nd paper. A student [not mine] told me today that one of her professors didn't return/grade ANYTHING yet, and it was pretty tragic how hearing that made me feel less awful about myself).

Just for about 2 minutes, though.

The reality is that grading is hard, no matter what. And for me, using a rubric doesn't help much. In addition, electronic feedback -- which I think is ideal -- is a pain for me because of that horrible, no good, very bad experience of online "non" teaching. (I totally have some PTSD from that). (I re-read that post just last week and I was surprised at how strong my feelings were, so many months later... yeah, I was definitely traumatized).

The good thing is that I don't think there's anything traumatizing with teaching in a real classroom and dealing with live, flesh-and-blood "kids." I enjoy that, and I hope the students can sense that. And... maybe, forgive me for procrastinating so much the grading. :(

I'm so lame!! (and "faking" the date today, the first time in over a week, really, so I should be forgiven for that too).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Here he is!

Isn't he precious?! I will try to come back and write more later, but I need to finish a grant proposal and do some serious grading before tomorrow.

I am also worried about baby, mommy & daddy because they are exhausted, he cries a lot, she feels her milk hasn't come in and is very anxious about that (she seems to feel very insecure and anxious in general as new mothers often are, poor thing!). Keep her in your thoughts and prayers, OK? I wish it weren't so hard to have a new baby. :( 

(and, seriously, the second time around is WAY better, that's the truth!)

Locked Out

We've been inside our cozy house for less than an hour now, in spite of the fact that we arrived about 11:30 from Maryland.

Today was one of those (fortunately) rare unfortunate occasions in which the stuff nightmares are made of come true. On Wednesday when we left, I made a fatal mistake: I suggested we bring an extra set of keys for the car, one that didn't have the house key in it. K was using that key to drive and had left the other key in the car (between the two seats, on the floor). On Friday, however, when the car was full of my Black Friday shopping stuff, I decided to bring the other key inside the house -- after all, it's not very wise to leave your car keys inside the car, right? RIGHT?

Except that tonight K used the spare key to drive to church, left it in his pocket and reused it again in the evening -- so he never had to pick up the key from the key hooks at brother-in-law's house.

We realized we didn't have our house key until we'd driven half way home. I remembered that we had the garage opener in the glove compartment and didn't stress too much. And then, we often forget one of the back doors unlocked, so I thought that those could be an option.

Well... guess what? Everything that could go wrong went 100% wrong. The garage opener wouldn't work. The other garage opener (inside our other unlocked car, parked in the driveway) didn't work either. ALL doors were locked. There's a balcony off our bedroom and I thought that maybe that door would be unlocked. K climbed on the trash can and hoisted himself up (getting hurt in the process), but NO, the door was locked as well!

We went to the two convenience stores in our small town looking for batteries for the garage door opener, but they didn't have any. We even bought a Phillips screwdriver to try to open the opener, but it was too big and I finally opened it with a paper clip. It was one of those tiny 6V batteries. In the end, we drove all the way to a Wal Mart Supercenter (20 minutes away) so K could buy the batteries. I was napping in the car (while the kids, who woke up when we got home, talked) and when K came back, he asked, what if the neighbor (who was looking after the cats) locked the door from the garage to the house? Oh no! I truly hoped that wasn't true. I slept on the way home and jumped out of the car as soon as we got here. The opener worked and the door was unlocked, PHEW!!!

What a night! K was joking that at least it would be an unforgettable night for all of us and that this would probably never happen again.

Seriously, besides sticking extra house keys in each car, I want to install one of those keypads outside of the garage, it's how we got out of situations like this in our rental house and our last house in Pennsylvania.

Good thing I got to talk to my brother on skype, though! It helped that we were still up. I will write the post about their experience (pretty interesting, as a matter of fact, more cultural differences in maternal and newborn health care) tomorrow. And it might even include a photo of the baby!!

Well, good night (for me)... good morning for my readers!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Baby!

I wish I had a photo to go with this post, but my brother hasn't seen one yet. My nephew was born today at 10 pm (5 am here) in New Zealand and everything went well (except the need for an episiotomy). Dani weights 3.5 kg -- 7.7 lbs, or, in the stupid (sorry, I really think so)* system you use here, 7 lbs 11 oz and it looks like he's nursing well, has dark hair and is calm (for now!).

My mom is reporting back what she hears from my brother -- who called her as soon as the baby was born and then again at 9 am their time [on Sunday] (4 pm Saturday here), while his wife was resting -- but I hope I can talk to him in the next few days. My sister-in-law's mom and dad couldn't be at the birth (or... I don't know, maybe they didn't want to?) and by the time my brother called my mom the second time, they hadn't yet seen the baby. (I understand that some couples want that, but I have the impression that these were probably requirements of the hospital there and not my brother and SIL's choice). My brother also said that he won't give anyone the telephone number of their hospital room just yet because his wife is very tired and a bit stressed out.

After hearing their experience, my mom is simply delighted with how my births were here in the U.S. -- she was with us both times (in addition to a family friend when Kelvin was born), we were all nice and comfortable in the birthing room, listening to the music we brought from home, and friends and family (including my 2 year old) were able to come see me and the new baby very soon after he was born (I don't know how it is in New Zealand, but in Brazil children don't go into hospitals -- I don't know if they'd make an exception for a sibling). When Kelvin was born, K stayed with me overnight in the hospital, but when Linton was born, my mom stayed, because K was home with Kelvin who was still pretty young 2 years 3 months).

In any case... I'm really happy my nephew was born, but a little impatient because I don't know much about him and how it went. I can't wait to see his little face! After each of my births, we called my brother from the birthing room and I have photos and video of me talking to him and telling him about how it went. Oh well... he has his wife and son to worry about, I know how those first few moments and days are, so I shouldn't be frustrated, right? My apologies if I'm coming across that way.

* Seriously, I think the metric system is way better, I've learned to live with lbs, oz, miles, Fahrenheit (the worst!!), but I can barely stand it. As for babies, everyone I know who is Brazilian American gets their babies' pounds/oz wrong when reporting back to their anglophone friends because it's just so complicated -- the geek in me goes crazy when people assume that the .7 pounds equals 7 ounces because they don't. Now, as my husband says, you guys really know your fractions because of your system (and we know our decimals).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nephew Watch 2011 -- Contractions Started

All the way across the globe in New Zealand, my nephew is coming!! My brother emailed us about an hour ago to let us know that the contractions have started.

We're all praying that all goes well. My sister-in-law is really apprehensive, particularly about feeling pain. Her mom and dad are there with them and my mom wishes she could be too.

I'll keep you posted!

Crazy Tired from Shopping

I have to blog now because later I may be too tired to do it.

My sister-in-law and I went to the stores (Kohls & Target) at 1 am. Then we headed to JC Penney at 4 (I bought next to nothing there) and came back home close to 6 am. I got up at about 9 am and left again, this time for Costco and Trader Joe's. Then I went to the mall (crazy crowded) where I shopped at Gymboree, got lost walking around and came back home.

Now my sister-in-law and my husband (who stayed home and slept all night -- but according to him he woke up very often) are napping and I'm here trying to stay awake. Sigh. My brother-in-law (who had his own shopping spree this morning at Macy's -- beautiful and really affordable suits!) took the boys to the park and I'm really thankful for that!

What did I buy? At Kohls, a couple of big throws for our new living room (solid brown & caramel), a blazer for my husband, some gifts for the boys and a few other things... and going to Target was pretty much useless (I wanted a fire-pit, but an hour after opening, they were all gone. :P At least I bought a nice immersion blender -- which I thought was the one one sale, but which it wasn't. Booo... At JCP I bought a pair of red gloves & some funky tights and waited for my SIL to do her shopping.

I'm calling my aunt now, we want to go there and see her and my uncle (the one who had brain surgery two years ago).

I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving! Ours was great... I'm just awfully exhausted, but I think it was worth it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I LOOOOOVE Thanksgiving!!

After a rather unusual Thanksgiving last year (we went to the beach!), I'm delighted to be back to our Thanksgiving tradition of years back -- spending the holiday with K2 (Klebert's younger brother) and his family.

Exceptionally, this year we were ready with the food ahead of time! And we're just waiting for our guests, a Portuguese family celebrating their very first Thanksgiving in the U.S. They're bringing a codfish dish (bacalhoada) which we can't wait to taste!

Our four boys are downstairs playing the Wii and we are all very hungry, awaiting the best part of the day.

Well, the guests are here, and I will write another post later.


Only 42 posts more and I will reach my goal of posting more than last year! That sounds imminently feasible now, YAY!

Now... if only my nephew could decide to arrive into this world! This suspense is not very easy for my sister-in-law and brother to deal with.

The pies are baked for tomorrow already, and I made the sweet potato praline dish too! Gotta go to bed so we can be thankful for all the food tomorrow! ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Better

Lepton, the kitten that was still sick is getting better. He still vomited once more this morning, but has been fine after taking his medicine. My friend is coming to give him medication tomorrow and I'm absolutely elated that my neighbor across the street happily agreed to look after my "babies" until Saturday night when we return from my in-laws! What a blessing! Look at them, sooo cute!
I love Lepton's tongue in this pic:
And Quark's sharp "embrace" in this one:

" 'Cause it's his turn, but his brother won't let him try..."

wow... this sentence is half of my life as mother of two young boys.

but it was the beginning of the song that moved me (the part above it's very close to the end, which is also the same as the beginning):
it's like forgetting the words to your favorite song,
you can't believe it, you were always singing along
it was so easy, and the words so sweet...
you can't remember, you try to feel the beat
....eet.... eet.*
* sorry, I can't embed it.

The previous post sent me looking for cool stuff in Youtube since I'm woefully out of touch with contemporary pop music -- very loosely defined in this post as "music people are listening to now that is popular and/or good" -- with very few exceptions (e.g. Adele & Cold Play). Youtube is OK and all (lots of trash too), but I'm delighted that Spotify came along -- now I can listen to lots more great music without having to sift through bad resolution or cover videos.

In any case, I'd heard of Regina Spektor a while ago, probably through a post in my my sister-in-law's blog (she has great taste in music -- BTW, I'm glad you liked the brownies and other food [scroll down for photo] I cooked! As you know, I really enjoy cooking for company, not so much for only us ;) -- I'm looking forward to Florida already!). But I'd only heard one of her songs, I think, the great "Laughing With." So a couple of days ago I listened to a lot of her songs, both in Youtube & Spotify and though I don't really like many, some are awesome, e.g. "Samson":

I love the Narnia books and have been enjoying the movies (didn't like Dawn Treader too much, though :( ), but I didn't know that Regina Skpektor's "The Call" appeared at the end of Prince Caspian!

I still haven't bought any of her music, but I hope to be able to listen through Spotify and maybe someday I'll buy it too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Drip, drip, drip

It's raining here and today, because of the rain, I was reminded of how one of our "crumbling Hondas" -- the "younger" one, the Odyssey -- is leaking oil. Every spot I parked, even if just a few minutes, had a shiny "rainbow" colored stain mixed with the rain water coming from under it when I came back to the car.

It wasn't my imagination either. When I got home, I opened the garage and moved the car inside for a couple of feet so I could check the oil (we try to check often and constantly add more). I moved it out after less than 10 minutes so I could close the door and let the cats out of their carrier (I put them there so they wouldn't run our of the garage) and when I came inside and closed the door, there were a few drops of dark oil on the garage floor.

Part of our big financial worries right there. I keep hoping, against logical thinking and hope itself, that these cars can last until we can afford to get new ones. Maybe they can, maybe it'll all be fine in the end, who knows.

Meanwhile... I feel guilty every day for polluting the environment and filling our waterways with horrible oil. (it seems that the leak cannot be fixed, unfortunately) :(

P.S. Thanks for your lovely supportive comment, Aliki. It's precisely what I needed to hear. I am at peace with the expenses and 100% sure that my "babies" are worth every penny. It's just that I have horrible anxiety & issues with money and K & I always have the hardest time talking about it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Children of Deported Parents & Pepper Spray

nothing like checking the news to put things into perspective, right?

I had always asked myself what happened to these children and this organization gives the heartbreaking answer. (see video below if you want)

In addition, I hadn't checked my Twitter feed since Friday and hadn't listened to/ checked the news so I didn't know about the pepper spraying of students at UC Davis -- how awful! Here's the interview of a victim and a discussion of how strong pepper spray is.

Last, but not least, Jo(e) wrote a great post about social media and the OWS movement. It's good that the world is watching, what effect will this  exposure have?


I can't really blog today.

I mean, I'm a big over-sharer, but I need to stop it at times and this is one of them. I will just say a few things, but not discuss them.

My cat (I think it's only one now, but I can't know without spending significant time with them in the garage) is still vomiting, in spite of the fact that the vet thinks they're both fine and after I spent several hundred dollars there today (b/c I decided to go ahead and the the whole feline leukemia thing. worried mother preyed upon).

My mom is worried about my dad's health and I don't like that.

Spending money I don't have on the cats that I shouldn't have in the first place has caused me too much grief today (after I talked to K).


P.S. (I can curb the over sharing, but not the prolix tendencies) and I have to go to bed early b/c I woke up at 4 am worried about the cats and spent the rest of the night in the garage with them (I brought in a mattress & blanket, but there's a heater in there, so it's nice & warm)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sick Kitties

My cats (who just had surgery last Wednesday) are vomiting and I'm pretty stressed out. I'm glad they are still playful and acting normal, so it shouldn't be too serious, but still... it's a worry.

To make it worse, I found out (and I'm so upset at myself for not having paid more attention earlier -- I did feel a lump after the surgery on Wed, but didn't look closely) that there's a huge tick on Lepton's neck. :(

Thankfully, I called our friend and vet and she called me back and gave me advice -- their office is actually open tonight and I can take them in!

(too bad that we may miss a Nutcracker concert we were planning on going, but I will try to go anyway!)

So, yeah... it's not easy to "parent" pets. Easier than children, for sure, but still stressful at times.

P.S. In a sense it's OK that K left early this morning for a conference, because he's always quick to remind me of the consequences of my choice to have pets ("See? I told you it would be a problem!") in typical "guy" fashion. Not very supportive at times. :(  And I will tell him all that, BTW, I generally don't write anything in the blog that I wouldn't say to anyone's face (at least I not anymore!! ;).

Four Cousins and a Dream

Today (technically yesterday, since it's after midnight), my mother and father drove a 2 hours to the city of São Paulo's international airport to spend a few hours with my cousin Denise (by my side, above) and her husband, who were flying back home to Arizona after visiting Brazil -- Deni's first time in the 21 years since she'd come to the U.S.!!

My parents and I reconnected with Deni back in 2003 when 10 years had passed since we had last seen here -- it was so nice! I last saw her six years ago when she briefly visited us in PA, but I want to plan to see her again soon.

I really want to some day be able to write a sensitive, moving and, hopefully, beautiful account our childhood together, but I will try to quickly summarize the events that brought the lives of my cousins Deni & Joce and mine and my brother's together for the sake of this post.

D & J are the children of one of my dad's sister, the one that was always closest to my mom. D is a couple of years older than me, J is only four months younger than me and was my classmate from 7th-12th grades. Coincidentally D, J & I were all born on the seventh day of the month!

When J & I were six and D eight, their father died in a horribly tragic car crash and as a result of that, D & J spent nearly all their vacations with our family in the years that followed and then in 1985 we moved to São Paulo where we were, literally, their neighbors. They are like brother and sister to me and I love them dearly.

I have a dream... a dream of taking another photo like the one above. Of having the four of us together again. Just thinking about this makes me want to cry tons.

Well... today I found out that D is planning to go to Brazil for Christmas next year. My brother is going as well with his family and I'd been planning and dreaming of going so I could meet my nephew, but now, I have even more motivation to make an effort to go (in spite of the fact that we're going to Brazil in July/August next year and airfares are super expensive). I hope I can make this dream come true!!

Note: I wrote this post listening to Pat Metheny because back in 1996 Joce gave us their CD Still Life (Talking).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

51 - uma boa ideia :)

Since I have 51 posts to go 'till I reach my goal of surpassing last year's number of posts*-- not counting this post, obviously, so it is actually 50, I thought I'd write this post about Brazil's most famous brand of cachaça (pronounced kah-shah-ssah) or hard liquor, also derisively nicknamed as pinga.

I thought it was "a good idea" (this drink's famous slogan), in spite of the fact that I never tasted the stuff & never intend to. It's part of my country's culture, so I always tell my students about it. In addition, cachaça is used to make the famous Brazilian lime-based drink "Caipirinha" (if you want it with vodka, it's a caipiroska).

So, there you go... one more useless piece of information for you, courtesy of this humble Brazilian person's blog!

* by one, I can try to add a little more if I can.

South Africa, here we come...

 It is certain now, our family is going to South Africa for nine days during our Spring Break next year to accompany a small tour group led by my mother-in-law (who owns a small travel company in Brazil). She is sponsoring the trip for K & I because we will be translators/interpreters to the group on the tours we do there (last year K's brother "K2" and his wife did that too).

In spite of the fact that the boys' Spring Break doesn't coincide with ours (it's two weeks later!) we decided to bring them along since we think this is a unique opportunity for them to go to Africa -- especially because my parents will be going on the trip as well (on their way to New Zealand to meet my new nephew). In addition, Kelvin's 10th birthday will be right in the middle of the trip, on the day we'll be arriving at a lodge in Kruger Park. I think it'll be an unforgettable birthday for him!

Now we just need to work hard to getting used to the South African accent so we can be effective interpreters. Last night when I talked to my brother on Skype he and his wife recommended that we watch movies set in South Africa and I think it's a good idea. Any suggestions? My brother said he's email me some links, I'm thinking that we can start with an older film such as Cry Freedom and maybe Color of Freedom and Invictus -- although these last two have mostly American actors, I don't know if that would be helpful. My brother & SIL also recommended what they said was a weird "alien"/scifi movie, but in which the accent would be great for us (meaning, authentic ;): District 9.

I guess it will be nice to try to be prepared. And also talk to the boys about the painful history of that country before we go (maybe we should try to find children's books about South Africa). Sigh... it's easy to say all this, but doing it is harder. I guess I'll go edit my netflix queue right now!!

Note: The lack of the exclamation point at the end of the post's title is due to the fact that the boys' airfare that I just charged to my card yesterday will be added to our current debt and I'm not too thrilled about that (MIL is reimbursing us for ours this week), but like the commercials say... it'll be priceless (I just didn't pay with MC, but with V ;).

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Nephew is Coming!

I'm late posting today because we just spent a couple of hours talking to my brother and sister-in-law on Skype. When we said good-bye, my nephew was moving around in his mama's uterus and I talked to him a little big.

I hope he arrives soon! (due date's on Monday, 11/21) My sister-in-law is really afraid of the pain and of giving birth, so I'm praying that all will go well.

I need to sleep now, more tomorrow!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mildly to Outrageously Ridiculous 80s Music

OK, I'm beginning a (hopefully short) series of posts that will probably only interest readers my age (which I suppose are the majority of my tiny readership anyway): posts about music that I listened to when I was growing up (in the 80s, obviously).

I grew up in Brazil, but I'm pretty sure that the English language songs we listened to there were popular here (and maybe in the U.K.) too. I'd be really curious to know whether you ever listened to any of these songs. I'm beginning with the more ridiculous ones and I'll have another post (or posts) for those I consider "cooler" and still like and can listen to.

Today I was looking through an old stack of piano sheet music I have (most of which I was never good enough to play anyway) and in the middle of a pile of old/classic film scores ("New York, New York," "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago, "The Pink Panther," "Theme from Love Story," "Tara Theme" from Gone With the Wind, and some gems such as "As Time Goes By," "My Way," "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and even the awesome "California Dreaming") I found this (Italian) song called "I Like Chopin" by this guy ridiculously named Gazebo (I realize that the name probably doesn't sound bad in Italian). Here's the video clip. I don't recall having ever seen it, but my cousin Denise loved this song, so I liked it too and bough the sheet music.

George Michael is not as bad, is it? Tell me please if in 1984 or 85 you were not absolutely crazy for this song as I was:

I liked this one too and I was really disappointed when I learned some years later that he was gay ;)
(Edited to add: wow, I just found a news article from May this year in which he actually apologizes for "letting down" the gay community and then I found out that... he's only SEVEN years older than me? Is that for real? So he was really young back in the 80s. Wow, I'm feeling super old now!Sigh...):

Even back then I thought that this other Italian song, translated into Portuguese, was positively horrid so here you go... CRINGE, a thousand times cringe!!!
Here is it in Italian:

And in Portuguese -- and I just found out that this song had a ressurgence in Brazil in the past decade -- unbelievable! This performance is actually recent (here's the original recording in Portuguese):

I think Madonna should deserve her own post (were you also "Crazy for You" like I was?), but she's so ubiquitous that I probably won't get to do it. Lionel Ritchie too... "Say You, Say Me," anyone?!

What did you listen to in the 80s?

P.S. I loved Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors." I just wanted to say that in case I forgot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I wish cats would watch TV!!

Our kitties had surgery* today and the post-op instructions call for keeping them calm and avoiding physical exertion such as running, jumping, etc. They were supposed to be groggy from the anesthetic, but no! They were actually pretty crazy after I let them out of their carriers in the garage.

It had been a while since I'd seen them so excited about chasing each other (especially each other's tails) and also play-wrestling. Both probably not very safe after their surgery. If they were little boys, I could just plop them in front of the TV and... voilá, instant calm and quiet. Too bad they're merely irrational animals. ;)

* My students laughed a whole lot when I talked about it saying "off with their balls."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodnight, iPad!

I'm a big, HUGE fan of smart parodies, particularly of beloved books, such as Goodnight Moon (I thought that the Goodnight Bush parody was hilarious), so here's another one for me, this one really really relevant (good thing we don't do TV at our house. It's mostly the laptop, the iPad & iPod touch). I have a hard time letting go of the computer... and the boys spend more time than t hey should in their iPad, so I guess we need to watch and internalize!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seven!! I can't believe I've been blogging that long!

Seven is my "favoritest" number, after all, I was born on 7/7! So I thought that this year my blog anniversary should be more special, or "specially celebrated" in the blog.

First, I decided to try to reproduce (closer than last year) the very first post photo (I asked permission of my 7! year old to do that -- he's the one who is very private and doesn't like me to blog his life much):
 4 month old L & Mama:
7 years 5 months old L & Mama (taken today):

Then, I want to talk a little bit about the anniversary posts that preceded this one.

(I had most of the post done when I realized that last year I included previous year's post titles too... after having posted the photo above. boo!!... not original, but, now that the post is done, I'll leave it).

Year 1 (2005)  "Happy Anniversary, Blog!:"
My blog continues to be "a little nothing," but I've made so many more friends since then! And it still is "a happy space for me. It makes me feel more alive and connected to the world."

I am no longer "a mother of young children" and my life is not "very tough and isolating," anymore, but I am still "an expatriate mother, who just moved to a new city" (a hear ago). I do have friends, family 3 hours away and a bit of a support system of sorts, unlike 7 years ago. And the "looming dissertation" was finished three years ago!! This is still very true, though: "Blogging has been helpful, even therapeutic," so several things have changed, but not the essence. ;)

Year 2 (2006) "Two Years and Counting!:"
I like this that I wrote on year 2:
I can confidently say that I am a much more open, empathetic, accepting, and conciliatory person after all that I have experienced online. I have now a greater respect for other people's (particularly mothers') experiences and have become much less judgemental as a result.
I was still bothered by not finishing the dissertation and I wasn't particularly happy that day (I don't remember why).

Year 3 (2007) "Three Meaningful Years:"
In this post -- which I wrote 5 days too late -- I started the "new" tradition of posting a photo of myself to celebrate the blog anniversary. I outlined four points about how blogging changed my life and my favorite is the last: "Most of all, meeting all of you has enriched my life beyond measure." This is still absolutely true!!

Year 4 (2008) "Four Great Years":
Six days late this time, because of NaBloPoMo (again!). I really like the photo in this post. It is still my profile photo on my main email account. My regret in that post continues the same "I never changed the template like I wanted to have done long, very long ago." Sigh... good thing it's a minor issue!

Year 5 (2009) "Five Glorious Years!":
Ha ha ha!! These post titles are so awfully cheesy! ;) actually :( (no, not really, this one was totally tongue-in-cheek). The photo is not my favorite, but I think it reflects well my 2009 life. This here is still very true:
It's been wonderful, though, it truly has. I haven't really made a "mark" in the Blogosphere, or Blogland, or, should it be Blogville? I'm just a drop in an ocean, but blogging has made a huge difference in my life. The friendships I made are priceless and the things I learned cannot be measured. So, yeah, I'm glad to be celebrating this "milestone." :-p

Year 6 (2010) "Six years seems a long time, but it's not, really":
I think all I've got to say about last year's post is this: I hope, against hope, that blogging (the personal kind) will NOT become obsolete as I wondered about in that post.

I'm 21 minutes late... and I'm blogging while listening to K talk to K3 (fun stuff! I'm really looking forward to our 10 days in Florida with the whole family!).

And these... are my life

This too... (part 2)

... sums up my day (part 1 here):

Saturday, November 12, 2011

happy days, filled with people, and music and friends

So... I'm again pretending it's before midnight because it was lovely to go see a musical performance in which our dear friend was conducting and then, at the end, go out with him and his wife to eat... there was no way I could have posted earlier, see?

And tomorrow, even better, it's family members we haven't seen in a long time who will be here. YAY! So I better go to bed so I can wake up energized to make sushi and bake delicious pumpkin swirl brownies!! I love guests!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11, 11:11 (pm)

Another date like today's only in 100 years.

I really like to look at all those ones, perfectly lined up. I missed posting at 11:11 am, but I couldn't let 11:11pm slide by, could I? I don't guarantee the 11 seconds, though! ;)

And today is not only an interesting looking day, but it's "Veterans day"* or "Remembrance day" in Canada.
I actually like the original day better: "Armistice Day" -- the day of the end of the war or armed race, celebrating the end of bloody World War I back in 1918. I was going to write more about this... but the day went by (I started this post in the morning) and now I'm racing against the clock to post on time. So... another lame post. :(

This weekend we're really excited about the visit of K3 (Klebert's younger brother) and his family! I will see my only niece for the second time! OK, one minute to go, gotta get this published. It's exciting, though, to make it on time and on the right day!! Making history (ha ha ha...) in this insignificant blog.

"In a thousand years..." mom, said my son. Is it a thousand or 100? I'm so bad in math!! Go!

* No apostrophe, as per the U.S. Government decision, the Wikipedia entry explains it.

(For future reference) Cool video to show my sons

Yeah, so now I'm officially using my blog as a "bookmark" for interesting stuff that I might otherwise forget about. I hope you don't mind.

I have mentioned before how my sons like to make elaborate train tracks with their plastic Thomas train sets, but I'm afraid that after they see this, they will want to try to do the same. And I obviously will have to tell them that we'll have to content ourselves with watching the video. Over and over again if needed. That's why I'm posting it to the blog to begin with. ;) Isn't it cool, though? (and there many more where this came from ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The word that you never, ever want to hear

I should have written "the diagnosis" instead of "the word," but I didn't want the title to be that obvious.

I'm talking about this word. And I cannot stop thinking about this and the family member that had to hear the diagnosis and let us know about it. (sigh)

I won't say more for now because I want to preserve this person's privacy. If you're the praying kind, prayers will be appreciated (and you can email me if you want to know more).

Edited to Add:
(1) It is a very rare, but eminently treatable type (it's so rare the entry is tiny... in fact, a survivor writes that it appears in 1 in a 2 1/2 million people, probably even more for this specific kind). And here comes "blogging to the rescue" again -- I'm sure reading this guy's blog will be helpful (if not for my relative, at least for me!).

Well... while writing this post (and a few emails) I continued reading Novak's blog and now I am wondering whether what our relative has is "high" or "low" grade (Novak's was "high grade" or stage 3, which required chemo).  So far, relative's doctor talked only about radiation therapy (after a CT scan which Novak also had). So... maybe it's a low grade/stage one -- let's hope so! I will let you know later. So much to learn... wow.

(2) This is one more strong reason to go completely vegan.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Worth Wild

First paper graded today and I find this gem -- I was going to type "jam" (am I (un)learning from my students of something?):
"She thought that it was not worth wild to study..."
wow... worth wild. In all my years of paper grading I had never encountered that one! worth wild indeed!

Off with their balls!

I know, it's horrible to say that, but the neutering surgery for our kitties is scheduled for next Wednesday... I hope they have a quick recovery because we may be taking off on Friday or Saturday next week, since we have Thanksgiving week off!

In fact, I still need to find people to care for them while we're gone -- that's always one of the big stresses of having pets, isn't it? It was one of the big "Cons" in our list of pros & cons. I hope I can find someone!

A couple of pictures from October to make this post "less harsh." ;)

Through the kitchen window: waiting patiently on the deck to be let back inside:

 On the tree that had several branches fall off (not the one he's in, fortunately, since it's one of their favorite branches, but still, I think that climbing this tree won't be as fun for them anymore):


That's how many posts I still have to write until Dec. 31st to make my "noble goal" of posting more than last year... (not getting even close to my silly "new year's wish" of posting about 365 times this year -- ha, ha!)

In any case, I'll keep on trying. I have TONS of photos of food that I've been taking in the past few years with the intention of posting them to the blog. I am going to create a tab up top (let's see if it works with the current layout) titled "Food" or "Food Pics" or something and I will post selected photos, OK? Do you think it's a good plan?

OK, now I have to go grade papers. And I decided, after K's statement that he was out of white "undershirts" (t-shirts) while I was still laying in bed, that I'd do two loads of laundry. Not only that, but because today will be 68F (20F), I decided to hang the laundry outside... sigh... I know, just what I needed on a hyper busy day like today... have I mentioned that I'm organizing a Brazilian music event tonight at the university? and that K & I haven't been communicating enough, so he didn't even know that I'm the organizer of this and that what I mentioned to him last week about not scheduling anything for Wednesday night was for a good reason -- and now he'll be busy until a few minutes before the event (but I'll drop the boys off to him anyway!).

Wish me luck, especially with the grading (electronic feedback, Yikes!). ;)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Birthday Plans for Next Year (Note to Self)

I love to make plans. In the micro, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour (sometimes day to day) level, my ADHD makes me the most disorganized and scattered person in the universe. I also dread having a routine or planning my day ahead of time, but as far as planning things weeks, months or years ahead are concern, I take great joy in careful planning and in anticipation of the event I'm looking forward to.

So... I've mentioned this event in my dissertation and I've always wanted to attend.   The last time I went to a Book Fair (Bienal do Livro in São Paulo), I was in grade school (high school, maybe?) or... maybe in college already. An item in my "bucket list*" is to go to the Bologna Book Fair (the main one in the world for children's literature) and/or another prestigious one such as the Paris Book Fair. Of course, the most useful one for my research would be the Bienal do Livro of São Paulo -- Hey! I will actually BE in Brazil on the last weekend of this!! too bad we have to fly back... maybe we can push our flight back to Monday?!

FLIP (Paraty's International Literary "Feast") is the "coolest" literary event in Brazil (next year the most recent "darling" of U.S. literature is coming -- Jonathan Franzen), so it should be a nice event to go to. I don't know how much research and networking I could actually do there, but that doesn't really matter, does it? (And, after all, the possibilities are endless, no?).

So, should I try to find a friend (or friends) who could/would go with me while I celebrate my birthday attending FLIP? I'd love to leave the kids with my parents and go for a couple of days. Too bad that it must be pretty expensive to stay there in Paraty, not to mention the fact that I can't stand crowds -- but one can't have a fair without a crowd, right?

Food for thought. Now, as for the "biennial" in São Paulo? I will have to find a way to go to that, no matter what or how!

*I'm so "out of it" that I'd never heard of this term until my Brazilian-Canadian blogging friend G pointed it out to me in a comment in this blog.

Monday, November 07, 2011

What's making me supremely guilty & anxious right now...

OK, I'm exaggerating... I'm happy, I'm fine, but I have this lingering guilty feeling in the back of my mind, ant the cause is...
... all the grading I haven't done and have yet to do. Last week I graded one batch of papers (except for 3 -- poor students!), but there are TWO more (one that they just submitted yesterday), plus four journals. (for 25 students)

The worst part is that I have this horribly lame -- but true -- excuse. The students submitted their papers online and I want to save paper & correct electronically (using track changes & comments) and including a rubric & the grade.

Problem is... that's exactly what I had to do with all my grading at that horrible torture of an online teaching job (for an affiliate of the really bad, awful, no good University of Phoenix). The "non-job" that I had for 9 nightmarish weeks back in Dec. 08-Feb 09.

Seriously... I have some mild PTSD symptoms related to online grading. Back then, I had 24 hours to respond to postings and 7 days to grade their papers. And I had two groups of 20 or 30 students each, I don't remember now, nor do I want to remember. It took forever, and it consumed my days and made me miserable.

In order to avoid my stress and anxiety just at the mere thought of giving electronic feedback (and now, only NOW I can tell how tough it must have been for my committee members to give me all that feedback on my dissertation. They just had to force themselves to do it. Thing is... a dissertation is quite interesting compared to boring students papers about similar topics) I printed out ALL of the papers myself, stapled the rubrics to them and grade, no problem. But I really wanted to save paper for the next ones, let's see if I'll be able to do it.

This is my plan for next year: I will require students to submit papers online so I can check for plagiarism AND then they will be required to print them out (together with the rubric which I'll give them ahead of time) and submit the hard copy to me. That way I can check the content and grade hard copies, what do you think?

See... grading itself is not the problem (though my procrastination is). I'm VERY used to grading. There was a semester when I was a T.A. when I graded no less than SIX HUNDRED papers (6 journals plus 4 autobiographical papers per student, total of 60 students). I got 2 incompletes (out of 3 classes), but I got the job done! :) But I have a feeling I have to stick to paper and pen to do it, at least for now!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today was my dad's birthday, I wish we didn't live so far away and could have celebrated with him instead of only talking to him on the phone. Here's a photo from last April to show the best grandfather (and grandmother) in the world! They can't wait to have another grandson later this month!

Feliz Aniversário, Papi!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

On the Stairs by the Front Door...

Why is it that, at least for us and our personal interactions with good friends, the best is always last?

(or...   is it like that for most everything in life? and why am I so philosophical all of a sudden? Is this a side effect of having hours and hours of lovely, intellectually stimulating conversations with friends we  don't see often enough?)

This feels good, though... this talking for two hours sitting (or standing up, even, like tonight) on the stairs by the front door. "Pretending" that the friends will leave soon because, you know... they must, but talking and talking a bit more until it's not just minutes anymore, but hours.

Experiencing this reminds me of the wonderful, amazing late night conversations that we had during the 5 years we were in college and had this incredible group of friends that met nearly every weekend  -- that was back in São Paulo, Brazil, over 16 years ago and it still shapes our lives so strongly that sometimes I think it's just so sad that we're so far away from most of our friends from back then.

Why did we decide to move to another country again? And leave all those friendships behind?  I sometimes ask myself... (I mean, they 're still there, but kind of "frozen" in time). When we can interact with people again on the same level all these years later again (finally!), I feel at peace with that decision. We wouldn't have met these new people hadn't we moved...

You know, it's hard, though. These past 15 years have been tough, and if it weren't for blogging, I would have given up on having friends and being happy in that part of my life as an expatriate person.

So I'm eternally thankful for these moments on the stairs. They mean the world to me.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Relatively Productive Day

I cooked two kinds of soup (minestrone and Caldo Verde* -- without the sausage) for the friends who came over tonight and I did some cleaning around the house, most importantly... cleaning out the fridge and taking all the recycling to the recycling station in town.

The boys didn't have school today (teacher-parent conferences... ours were last night), so they stayed home and mostly played on their ipod touch & ipad and... spent all afternoon involved in their latest obsession: paper airplanes! I wish I'd taken photos of the backyard, littered with paper airplanes! It was so bad that we had them pick them up at the end of the day.

Tomorrow night we're going to have a small "Fall gathering," I hope it'll be fun!

And blogging by "obligation" is boring isn't it? I'm sorry about that! Tonight I enjoyed the company of our friends, so blogging was not a priority at all as it is most nights when we don't have people over. OK, gotta go to bed!

*This is a typical Portuguese soup with a weak potato broth and, traditionally, chouriço sausages, but I'm refusing to link to any recipes in English because they are CLEARLY mistaken about the main ingredient -- it is NOT kale, which I love and which is delicious, but which tastes differently from collard greens, which is the original ingredient -- chopped very finely.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


I should be posting photos on my other blog (the failed "project" to post photos once a day... sigh), but the only way I can post tonight is by sharing some photos. These were taken my husband on the day I photographed that waterfall.
I had selected and uploaded three more, but the browser, my crappy internet, whatever... failed, so more later, OK? Gotta go to bed...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Too Busy To Blog

I'm only 65 minutes late, but, really, I've got very good reasons! First, I stayed up grading until 2 am. Then, I prepared to teach and graded some more and went food shopping and picked the boys up and started dinner (5 of my students were coming over), but had to interrupt my cooking to take my youngest son to a make-up soccer game (because of the snow! in October!)...

Then it was a whirlwind of cooking and not being able to pick up my husband who walked a mile from a friend's house to ours.... and the students came (at 8:30 pm, they couldn't make it earlier), ate, and we talked until midnight. Then cleaned up until one.

Justified? Or not?

So... yeah. and I want to do more grading (still one more paper and 4 journal entries) because it's the greatest relief and the best sense of accomplishment ever. I wish that would be enough to make me a grading junkie. Whaaaa....? There's no such thing? Yeah, I don't think so... grading is always disagreeable, no matter what.

OK, gotta go to bed. And those poor students still need to do homework for my class tomorrow! At least they're well nourished!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

11/1/11 Another Palindrome Date... And So Begins my 5th NaBloPoMo...

... but since I've been blogging once a day and up to five times a day for several weeks now, trying to partially fulfill one of my new year's resolutions, this year's NaBloPoMo will be "lamer" than usual.

In fact, if I posted daily or more than once a day like Katie Allison Granju, for example (wait a minute! she didn't post today yet...edited to add -- 7 minutes before I posted this, she published her post for today!), I wouldn't even need this special month of blogging. Ha! I'd even forgotten that I'd created a label for this intense blogging period, "Blogging Marathon 2011," but I've forgotten to label the posts... Blah!

Well, I have to stop now because I have 24 papers to grade. And then, 24 more after those are done, and then... 25X4 student blog posts to mark.

I've been planning to reward myself with this when all this grading is done. Except that there's another paper due this coming Sunday, which guarantees that I'll never be caught up.

How crazy is it of me that I have decided to teach FORTY students next semester? (oh, is it because it turned forty? Nah... silly joke, you know it's because I need the money). :(

In any case, I'm excited about the palindrome date... 11/1/11, but the 11th will be even more exciting. I don't know exactly why, but I think these dates are really cool. I turned 6 on 7/7/77. And I wrote tons on 8/8/88. It's my inner geek, I guess.

Wish me luck in my grading. I need to go make some tea, and eat some chocolate, like Jo(e)!