Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The One Advantage of Teaching Every Day of the Week...

... is that I get to wear a different outfit each day for several weeks. At least for as long as it's still relatively warm out there...*

Because I have WAY too many clothes.

Really.

I want to start a clothes blog (can't bring myself to call it a "fashion" blog!), but the whole still-wanting-to-remain-(semi)-anonymous thing prevents me. Because I'd have to take headless photos of me or crop the head or face from the photos! I've seen that in other blogs out there, but I don't know how I'd feel about that. I think it'd be OK... (my friend Heidi suggested in a comment below that I can just take a photo of the clothes, but that wouldn't look the same as wearing them ;-)

In any case, yeah... having different outfits everyday is fun and makes me (wrongly) think that having all these clothes is a "good" thing after all.

I'm dying to write lots about my clothes (and shoes! I love shoes!), but while I don't decide whether I will or not I'll leave you with this piece of information: I do buy clothes, but a lot of my clothes were gifts from family members and friends too, so I'm not 100% to blame for this having-way-too-many-clothes "situation!"

* (my summery, warm(er) weather clothes outnumber the chilly weather ones by a lot!)

Two Phone Calls: Good News from Friends & Worrisome Medical News

While we were watching the movie this evening (we loved it! so funny!) I received two phone calls one with good news and the other with some worrisome ones.

Let's tackle the bad first. Asthma runs in my family, particularly in my dad's family because his dad had really bad asthma all his life. And then I had it too, starting at age three and continuing until I was basically "cured" when I went vegan for 10+ years (I'm not anymore, but try to at home the best as I can). My boys were also diagnosed, although their asthma is pretty mild compared to what mine was like as a child.

Well... and now, at 76 years old my dad started having pretty bad asthma attacks when he's exposed to lots of dust (or even a little of dust!). This past Sunday night my mom ended up in the hospital with him  but I didn't find out until today. I had called mom on Saturday, but not since then. He didn't have to be admitted or anything, but they gave him some intravenous medication and breathing treatments. And now I'm worried about him. I wish he could go on daily asthma prevention medications such as Flovent or Advair (both made by my husband's former "big pharma" employer that turned our lives into such a turmoil back in 2007-2009... sigh...) -- but I don't know if these are available in Brazil!

My mom plans to take him to an allergist so he can get tested and then they can figure out how to prevent his asthma from flaring up (I mean, he never had asthma, so these could be just "reactive airway disorder" and not a chronic condition -- hopefully!!).

Oh, yeah... and my mom had forgotten to tell me that when she had her recent colonoscopy they found and removed some polyps. Scary! Could have become life threatening in a few years. And I found out that my mom's paternal grandmother died of colon cancer, as did two of my dad's uncles & dad's dad died after a botched colonoscopy. Sigh.... I've already had one done to diagnose IBS and I know I have to get this test done periodically with this kind of a family history... sigh...

But then my dear friend Heidi called me! (it was actually before I talked to mom, but I wanted the "bad news" first) And she had wonderful news that her husband got a job!! And they're moving to TX (I can remove location, H, just let me know). Not only that, but they will be working with a very very dear friend of us, a wonderful musician, trumpet player and band director who moved to the U.S. from Brazil a year or two after we did so we never saw him & his family again.

What a small world! How happy I was that my friends now have work and a new place to live. I hope we get to see them when they come to retrieve their possessions that are in storage here in the area.

Well, I guess that I can keep praying about my parents' health and hoping it will be good. At least they are very diligent about doing check-ups and getting treatment.

And I guess we'll be going to TX again at some point to visit more friends (and we have family there too, particularly K's uncle who moved there from Africa last year)!

ok, gotta go to bed now!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Need a NAAAAAP!

And yet, I won't take one. (and I did get home kinda late to take a nap... past 5:30 pm)

Sigh...

And I'm OK with it. It's not even my hyperactivity that's keeping me from napping today (it's hard for me to relax enough to take a nap most days, so I don't do it unless I have a lot of free time).

It's just that... I don't know, I'm not truly exhausted (yet), but my Tuesdays & Thursdays will be insane days and I'm not looking forward to them at all.

I can't be talking about this too much at U#2 because they might tell me I can't do it, but I'm teaching 2 classes at U#1 on top of my three classes at my full-time lecturer gig at U2.

And... wait for it (I may have blogged this already, but maybe not)... On Tu/Th I teach ALL 5 classes. 3 of which are 75 minutes long.

The worst of all is the 1h drive in between in the hottest part of the day.

(have I told you that the car I've been using since last year, our "new to us" car does NOT have air conditioning?)

yeah... you can pity me all right.

In any case, I toil non-stop from 9:30am-5:15pm, not including the commute in the morning if I don't stay overnight at U2's town. (I did last night).

In spite of all that, I think it'll be a good semester, I love my "old" students (have had them for a whole year or at least a semester) and the new students seem to be a great bunch. We'll see.

I've got mixed feelings about the "tele-teaching" which is now in a regular teleconference enabled classroom. Sigh... still better than last Fall with the 100% distance teaching!

Since things are still kinda slow around Casa in Translation I think we'll have a movie night & see Despicable Me which we haven't seen yet (I know, we hardly ever watch movies).

P.S. boys seem to be doing well back in school. I missed being home with them last night as they returned from their first day. Face-timing was not enough. :(  I think I'll come back home every night this semester. It'll cost lots more in gas, but I love to see my boys every night! Sigh...

P.S.II I teach every single day 76 miles away from home. yeah... I win, feMOMhist (you've got 2 more miles, but you don't need to go every day). ;-)  I mean, I clearly loose!!! if you know what I mean...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back Home & Back to Work

Sigh...

The back to work part is not so fun, mostly because of the incidentals (preparation, tons of emails to answer), but I'm glad to go back to the classroom, meet new students (always so young, which makes me feel, oh, so keenly, how I'm getting older and older! Sigh...), etc!

And coming back home was fun. The house was reasonably in shape (we didn't leave it a huge mess this time before traveling, YAY!) and it was so cute to see my oldest boy exclaiming how lovely it was to come back home, how he loved our home, etc.

I hope to be back to yoga too during the semester, so I have to finish this post and drive to the university for a yoga class. YAY! A great way to start the semester!

Have a great school year, everyone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It's All Coming Back to Me Now

I don't miss Massachusetts, in spite of the fact that I lived here for 8 years. I don't miss Pennsylvania at all (six years). In fact, I don't miss my house/home though we've been away for over 2 weeks.

And... I don't miss Brazil either, though I lived 24 years of my life there.

I just don't get attached to places, I guess. Living somewhere is not a big deal... human beings are extremely adaptable. I lived for 27 days in Europe with 4 changes of clothes, a tent & thin air pads. And I didn't miss anything that fills my house to the brim.

Sometimes I think that we should live as simply as possible all the time...

But... that's not supposed to be the topic of this post!!

I just wanted to come here and register how interesting (and so devoid of any feelings -- OK, nearly devoid, not 100% so) it felt to be driving around the place where we lived for 7 years.

Slowly, it all started coming back to me: the shortcuts from the university to the road that used to lead home, the shortcut to come to our friends' house where we're staying...

I do feel tiny slivers of regret because I didn't enjoy this location to the fullest, but then I didn't know better and also couldn't afford it (things like wonderful organic CSA & delicious local restaurants).

I was saying to my sons that I didn't do so much, that I was a different person then and my oldest replied, "Yes, of course, you were so much younger!" Very true.

Oh, I also found out about the demise of the student "church" group we started on campus which lasted for solid 10 years (we led it for 3). I was so mad, but this subject has nothing to do with the blog. Sigh...

Yeah... mostly I feel nothing. I'm glad I had the opportunity to study here and get my PhD, I think I did the most of my time at the university. I managed to make good friends (I visited two of them last Sunday!) and we had a tough time with church until we started our own group on campus.

It was wonderful to talk to our graduate student colleague (and church fellow) from Jamaica who was offered a tenure-track position even before completing his degree (back in 2003!), now tenured and showing me his wonderful new office in lab in a state-of-the-art facility.

I just wish K was here so we could see all this together. I guess we'll have to come back here together.

and now... on to bed!

P.S. I won't dedicate a post to this, only a footnote. Last night/this morning were a NIGHTMARE because I discovered that I had assumed that the new hire would order textbooks for my class (technically I know that s/he is/was supposed to! but I'm not going to confront hir, sigh...), and s/he had NOT! So, six days before the beginning of classes I ordered the books and spent quite a while emailing the students to let them know how to get the book and going over their options. I'm at peace now, and I'm hoping for the best, but it was TOUGH! whatever, everything will be fine, I know it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The First Day that Wasn't

Today my sons were supposed to be back in school, but they were here in New England with me instead. We have decided to go back home two days earlier (tomorrow night & Friday morning instead of Sunday morning), but their first day will still be on Monday.

It's interesting to see other bloggers or folks on twitter commenting on their children's first days of school and how emotional they are for some people. Not for me. Sure, I did document Kelvin's first day of kindergarten* and 1st grade and I still try to take photos every year, but, other than that, it's not a big deal to me. Neither is it a great "relief" as it seems to be popular in TV commercials ("The most wonderful time of the year?" What? The best thing for you is to be away from your kids? Not to me!!).

I still can't believe they will be going to 6th & 4th grades. Time flies!

*WOW, I had completely forgotten that I was actually planning to cyber-school him (and we SHOULD have! & did two years later) but that I didn't do it because I needed to finish the dissertation. wow! Good thing I did finish!! ;-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Boston Children's Museum: Maybe Our Last Time?

I have a feeling that this will be our last visit to the Boston Children's Museum. :-(. (Good thing it's our 5th or 6th since 2008!)
I say that because the 11.5 year old has been slightly bored most of outlr time here... Sigh... 
He still climbed on the 3 floor high climbing structure comfortably, but he'll be too tall for it in no time.

He's changing every day, my boy. Both physically and psychologically. His childhood is ending, a day, a week at a time. He's starting 6th gras"de on Monday (school starts tomorrow, but the boys are missing the first 3 days of school).
In a few years he won't be a kid anymore. :-( I have to enjoy my boys while I still have them...

It's a beautiful day in Boston. Maybe when we're done here in an hour well visit the Boston Tea Party tourist trap. We can pretend it's a social studies class! Maybe it'll be more age appropriate for my "tween!" 
P.S. I'm visiting the museum with my friend L (my namesake) & her kids. It's such a treat to do this with another mom & kids!

P.S. 2 This museum was the location of an awesome (but too short) blogger meet up with "Articulate Dad" & "Rocket Mom" & their boys back in 2009... Last time we were here too, I think.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mosaicultures Internationales(R): Flower & Plant Mosaics at the Botanical Gardens of Montreal

This is what we did & saw all afternoon & early evening on Monday here,  it's part of an international festival of flower mosaics that hadn't been hosted by Montreal in 10 years. Each plant "sculpture" is made/sponsored by a country and or city. Gorgeous, right? I don't remember the information for each sculpture below, but I'll try to share what I can remember.

 This piano is from Japan (you can see Mount Fuji on the inside):


 This sculpture from Shanghai, China is based on the true story of a young woman who was passionate about saving cranes and who died in a swamp while rescuing an injured crane:

 The man who planted trees:
 this is from the city of Montreal:

 The bird tree (Canada):
 They chose to portray about 8 birds, all of which are almost extinct, which is heartbreaking. Three of the eight are from Brazil. :-( I almost cried just reading about the birds.

 This one is from a city in China too. The Chinese sculputures are some of the biggest (this is HUGE) and most beautiful. (I'm not sharing the American one right now, it's pretty lame, with some farmers & produce)
 This is from Canada too (the majority is) and it portrays "mother earth:"

 Tree Man:
 I'll try to share more pictures of the Botanical Gardens later! Tonight, if all goes well, we'll see hot air balloons!! (I hope to share too).

Yummy Montreal Attraction: Point G Macarons!

I don't hand much time or Internet access to write much, so I'll try some photos. I hope it works! (Posting from phone). My plan is to add some more photos later (from the Nikon camera).

Last Monday we spent a most remarkable day at the botanical Gardens, but he highlight of my day was reaching this store before it closed!!
More pretty macaron photos later, ok?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Finally, on Vacation

As you probably already surmised from the previous posts we're finally on vacation, in spite of the fact that we start working in 2.5 weeks! The boys will actually miss 3 days of school (and they're not very happy about that!).

My husband's youngest brother lives in Montreal, so we've been to Canada several times, but this is the first time the boys will visit Ottawa (today) and Quebec City (next week). Kelvin was 4 months old when K & I visited Ottawa, but obviously he doesn't remember.

What I loved the most in Canada's capital was the lake to channel locks that are like a stairway for the boats to go from the bottom to the top and I was delighted to watch the boats going up on them for a long time back in 2002. I hope the boys will enjoy it too! I'll let you know how it went.

I LOOOVE to take the boys to new places, they have our "travel genes" ;-) and have also been traveling a lot since babyhood, so they thoroughly enjoy it. YAY for family vacations!!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Lame Fears of Smart Phone Withdrawal

This is my first trip out of the country (to Canada) since I became a smart phone user and even though I know it's simply ridiculous, I'm dreading spending 10 without going online on the phone anytime I feel like it... Sigh... 

(Of course I'll still be able to use wi-fi and I can text at will and even make urgent phone calls if needed for a low rate per minute. But not data. I think that the biggest inconvenience will be not being able to use the GPS on the phone -- we've become pretty dependent on it.)

I know I should be looking to this trip as a good chance to spend quality time with my family, but no, I keep feeling concerned about the phone :-

I have to sleep now, but hopefully before we cross the border I can try to blog once more!

Really Cool Museum

This is our third visit, all thanks to a blog post by my friend Aliki from years ago!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Brazilian Prison Inmates Knit & Crochet for Fashion Designer

A friend just posted a link in facebook to this surprising article from the Daily Mail that features the initiative of the high-end fashion designer Raquell Guimarães to teach inmates in a high security prison to knit (which in Portuguese is called by the French "tricot") and to crochet.

For each period three days working, one day is deducted from their sentence! The brand is called Doiselles (which means "two Ls," spelled with ll, of course) and the initiative Flor de Lótus (Lotus Flower). The inmates are also paid for their work and part of their earnings are deposited in an account to be withdrawn when they are released.

According to Raquell, the reason why she turned to prison inmates is that nowadays it's hard to find people who still know how to knit (especially in Brazil, I suppose). If she didn't find people to learn the art and work for her, she would have been unable to have her fashion label.

Pretty fascinating. I LOVE crocheted & knit clothes and Doisélles's clothing is amazing, but even if I could afford them (I most certainly can't), I don't know how I'd feel about the way it was produced. I think it's a good thing, quite daring and unusual, though. What do you think?


Here's a video about the Lotus Flower Project:


Lotus Flower Project from doisélles on Vimeo.

Oh, OK, and there's more!! For this year's winter collection she used materials that are industrial refuse, thus making clothes in a sustainable manner (basically recycling materials), see here:


Winter Collection 2013 - Doisélles from doisélles on Vimeo.

Fascinating, huh?

Friday, August 02, 2013

Afraid to sleep

My poison-ivy rashes are mostly healed, I just have dark splotches in various places of my arm and back of the legs. Two days ago, however, my legs started itching and then my belly and, for half a day I thought it was the mosquitoes that had bitten me when I watered the plants in the backyard, but then yesterday (Wednesday) I realized it was not.

Last night I woke up at 3:50 am with both of my legs, the whole legs, itching like crazy! I took a Zyrtec, I took a shower, applied a cortisone cream and an anti-hystamine cream, but I couldn't go back to sleep. I spent sometime online (discovering, thanks to an Amazon reviewer, that I don't have to spend from 24-40 dollars to buy Zanfel to get rid of urushiol, but can buy this stuff called "Mean Green," and, also the Zanfel founder controversy).

I was able to go back to sleep around 7 am and then slept until 11 am when I was groggily woken up by the boys. So... I'm afraid to go to bed now just to be awakened by itching! :-(

It's late, so I guess I'll go.

P.S. I should be using this time to finish my syllabi. I'm playing online instead.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Long , Stressful Journey; Hopefully, Safe Arrival

My brother, his wife, their 20 month old son and 3 month old baby daughter and his mother- and father-in-law boarded a flight yesterday in Auckland, New Zealand to São Paulo, Brazil (via Santiago, Chile). After a total of seven years abroad they are returning to Brazil (for who knows how long!).

My mom already talked to their Brazilian nanny and his sister-in-law who stayed back in New Zealand, so we know that their departure was extremely stressful. They were renting a beautiful 5-bedroom house from a Chinese man who, at the last minute, when they were leaving and giving him the keys to the house, was extremely rude and told them that the house was dusty (when it had just been thoroughly cleaned by someone they hired, so it was not!).

He also claimed that there was a stain in the carpet (which had previously been there) and he made them pay 150 NZ dollars because my brother had already deleted the photos he'd taken of the house prior to the move!! :-(  My sister-in-law was so mad that started cursing him in Mandarin (they lived 2 years in China, you may remember). Sigh...

Then at the airport they were all so nervous that nobody cried, only their nephew (who's the same age as my youngest son, 9) -- he and his mom are going to be in NZ for 1.5 year longer (they arrived back in January).

The biggest worry about the trip, however, was how my niece was going to handle it. She has really bad acid reflux which wasn't really treated in NZ (in Brazil they start medications when newborns are only 2 weeks old, for up to a year), so she barely nurses (and barely gains weight) and cries from pain and hunger A LOT. We'll find out how the flights went when they arrive this afternoon (I will only call my mom later when they're already home).

They're supposed to board their flight from Santiago to São Paulo right now, so I hope it worked out (their previous flight arrived only 40 minutes before the second flight's departure). My mom called their cell phones, but they didn't answer (I called before writing this post, obviously).

We're all anxiously waiting! Hopefully it won't have been that bad. Sigh...

Edited to add:
They arrived safely and my niece cried only 20 minutes on each of the flights. They were unable to bring all of their belongings from NZ back to Brazil (when they had moved from China to NZ they had stuff -- including furniture! -- shipped to NZ, but all had to say there). So they're starting mostly from scratch again where keeping & furnishing a house is concerned. I will be able to give them the many dishes (mostly plates, cups, saucers, dessert plates) and some other kitchen things and towels & bedding that my mom was still keeping for us from when we left Brazil 17 years ago!! I hope she can make good use of my wedding gifts that remained in Brazil!