Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcome 2014!

I don't want to think about 2014. I just hope it'll be a good year.

Above all, I don't want to think about work because it's really complicated. :-(

I pray that everyone in our family will be healthy and safe and that there aren't any unexpected negative events.

I'm truly thankful for my life, my family, my friends, everything. And also for blogging and my virtual friends wherever they are -- you are really important to me!

I wish you and your families a great 2014!

New Year's Eve at the Beach in Brazil

The beach is the best place to spend New Year's in Brazil. People stay up until midnight, often dressed in white and there are fireworks -- the best show is in Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Practitioners of the Afro-Brazilian religions Umbanda and Candomblé have some ceremonies with candles and lots of people throw flowers and gifts in small boats for Iemanjá -- the sea goddess.

It's been many years since I've been at the beach for New Year's Eve and it feels just perfect! We're at a small town in the Northeast, but there is an all-inclusive resort just North of us, so it looks like we'll be able to see some fireworks after all!

Tomorrow we're going to have to wake up early to go see the natural pools formed in the barrier reef in the ocean. I hope it'll be a nice outing!

Praia de Antunes, Maragogi, Alagoas, Brasil

We are a short walk away from this beach!

3 More Posts!

I know other people will want to use the computer, but if I manage to write three more posts I will fulfill my goal and blog more than last year! ;-)

I hope it works.

I will try to post photos now, we'll see how that'll go!


In 2013...

... my niece (my brother's daughter) was born!!

... I saw my brother again after 3 years, his wife after 5 and met his son and daughter.

... I worked the most hours and drove the most miles I ever did in my life (thankfully I also made the most money ;-) -- though not enough to get us to save money just yet -- boo!).

... my father-in-law managed to bring all his sons & families to this wonderful beach in Brazil!

I'm sure more happened, but I can't check the blog for reminders and links (it will slow down the connection).

One thing I'm really glad about is that it feels like this year went by really fast and I hope next year will be as good!

It worked!

Yesterday I tried to blog, but it didn't work, but today it did! I want to try to post a photo, we'll see if it's possible.

It's awesome here! And even better now that I was able to blog a bit. :)

I can now write about 2013 and my "resolutions" (not!) for 2014. My apologies for the boring "meta-blogging" post! ;-)

Last post of 2013?

written yesterday afternoon
I won't blog more this year than last year as I usually aim to do, but it's for a good reason.

We're at a rental beach house with K's whole family, 17 of us, 10 adults, 7 kids from 11-3. I will try to post some photos in the next post.

My parents, my brother & his family are a short walk away in another gated community, so we get to spend some time with them and my baby niece and nephew.

I should be at the beach right now, but I haven't applied sunscreen yet and it was my turn to use my mother-in-law's laptop & hotspot.

All right, let's see if I can publish this,  if I do it won't be this year's last post! ;-)

Thursday, December 26, 2013


I don't sleepwalk, but right now I'm almost sleepblogging...

Intense days with family + travel motivated sleep deprivation = exhausted blogger.

I don't know how much access I'll have to wi-fi in the next ten days, so I waited until my husband did all the online banking he needed to do, sleeping on and off seated on the couch so I could blog a little bit now (it's 12:30 am here).

We woke up at 3:50 am this morning to catch a 7 am flight with K's whole family - 17 people (10 adults & 7 kids aged 11-3 years old) + his paternal great-grandmother. I slept on the second flight, but it wasn't enough.

In any case, in family vacations sleep is overrated 'cause we need to spend as much time with each other as possible, right?

A few highlights of the past week in Brazil:

- potluck lunch with two families of dear friends who drove 2h (each way) to see us;

- photo session with my family + parents, brother + family;

- three separate Xmas celebrations (my family, both families, K's family);

- some shopping on Xmas Eve's eve (crowded stores!) for a friend;

- two flights to arrive at in-laws' apartment in Maceió;

- grocery shopping and shopping for local artisan works this afternoon;

And we still have to drive nearly 2h to the rental beach house tomorrow. Then, finally, it's supposed to be only R&R for two days. My family arrived there yesterday, but I haven't talked to them to find out if their trip was ok, only tomorrow.

OK, gotta go to bed now! I hope there's WiFi at least at my mom's rental house there! If not, I won't blog as much as I wanted to this year, but I'm perfectly OK with that!

How were your family celebrations this week?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Busy in Brazil

Too busy to blog, obviously... Nah, not really, but it's hard to think of what to blog, there's just too much to be shared! And I wanted to post photos, but that's a hard thing to do (downloading, choosing which ones, etc).

The last few days were crazy busy, though, but hopefully once we're settled into the rental beach house in Maragogi next Friday things will be more relaxed!

OK, this post's function is to end my "blogger's block," so I'll come back with more soon!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In Brazil & Getting my Fix :-)

I arrived on time for my connecting flight, after having a good flight watching No & Jobs! (I hope to have more time to comment on the movies later)

And even though we left a little late we arrived just on time in Brazil. It's kind of sad to arrive at the gate with no one waiting for you (Love, Actually style), but it was ok. I found a place to sit with my cart & huge suitcases (it was hard to drag all that to the bathroom!) and I actually laid down on my packpack & neck pillow and napped for nearly 2 hours.

Then I came to eat something at a place right next to the exit gate for the international flights that has WiFi. I had to get my fix! After all, I won't be using my iPhone constantly for 3 weeks, but I will still want to try to get online pretty regularly on the laptop if I can.

OK, I have to go try to find my parents now! They should have arrived. And, if all went well, K & the boys' flight just landed!! YAY!!! (their flight was 1 hour late :(  )

I'll be back at night!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chilean Film "No"

I'm so glad that I'll be able to watch "No" on the plane! They don't have a wide selection, but I really wanted to watch that film, so I'm happy. I hope I'll stay awake for it. I have to sleep on the second flight, so I may as well watch now! ;-)

P.S. one of my students is on the same flight, it was so surreal to see her! She's so tired, poor thing! (Not because of my class! :-)

Flying Solo & Going Phonelss

I'm about to embark to Brazil. I'm flying on Copa airlines via Panama City on my own while K and the boys will fly United via Chicago.

Oh, and today is our 19th wedding anniversary and we'll be separated, oh well. The joys of award travel trips! (I'm not complaining, it's just how it works).

In the past year I started using an iPhone and I think I'll miss it during the trip. Well see! It was ok in Canada back in August (but I could still text). 

OK, I should get ready to board now! I forgot to ask for a window seat, I hope I'll get one! Nah... It's a B seat...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Day Before!

My dad has this funny saying that he loves to repeat, tongue in cheek (in Portuguese, obviously):
"The happiest day is always the day that precedes a vacation!" ;-)
And I couldn't disagree more with him! :-P For me, the day that precedes a trip (any trip, but even more so an international trip) is utterly chaotic and stressful.

Yesterday, amidst the chaos and confusion of having to switch gears from finishing the grading of one group of students to another and panicking that there was so much that I needed/wanted to do to get ready to the trip and pack, I emphatically said (OK, more like screamed) to K that I don't ever, EVER!!!! want  to go on an international trip at the end the year/Fall semester again!

And I mean it!

I'm always horribly stressed before flying to Brazil and I hadn't done it yet at the end of a semester after I went back to work in 2010 (last time was back in 2003). I already had good reasons against traveling to Brazil for winter break before (I think that the break is too short, the boys have to miss several days of school and we don't get to stay long enough for my taste), but now there's one more: the end of the semester stress does not mix well with the stress of getting ready for a long trip.


So, daddy, I'll happily enjoy each day of the actual vacation and I'll let you savor the anticipation of it all you want!

Grade Submission Fiasco

well, well, well...
      written last night
I was so absorbed in grading the exams and online materials of U#2's students in the last 48 hours [Sunday & Monday] (after all, this is the school that employs me full time) that I completely overlooked that the deadline for grade submission for U#1 was this afternoon [Monday] at 3 pm. I had never even remembered to check it -- foolish me!

When K got home after picking up the boys from school and asked me whether I had already submitted the grades that were due at 3 I totally flipped, panicked, started screaming at everyone, it was awful! I managed to calm down, and I even quickly finished grading my class that has only 5 students and submitted their grades online without a problem around 5 pm. So I was still pretty upset, but hopeful for the other class

However, there was a long, LONG way to go for the other class with 20 students! Checking homework online, grading PDF tests and exams in an iPad (loaned by the university, not mine) and, last by not least, finishing to grade the 6 page final. I emailed the students before I started to let them know that grade submission would be late and that they should check their grades in the online platform instead.

By the time I was done it was past 9:30 pm and, guess what?! I could no longer submit the grades online, so I (uselessly & annoyingly) panicked again. Sigh... Sometimes even I can't stand myself!

To make a long story short, I was supposed to fax the printed out grades this morning, but the signal was busy in the registrar's office, and I just walked over there and dropped it off. Mission (finally accomplished). Sigh...

well, gotta go now, packing for trip, doing tons of things, etc. Good thing grading is finally done!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

In Grading Jail...


After a week of driving around this part of the state and giving final exams, now it is time to brace down and grade like a maniac.

I hope I can finish by the end of the day tomorrow. That's my greatest hope. Then I can concentrate on packing and getting ready for the trip.

I just wish I weren't so tired! I hope I can stay awake to grade as much as I can (and also to watch SNL ;-)

A good activity that is helping me with the mind-numbingly boring task of grading 7 page long finals is scanning old Christmas photos from 1997-2001. My scanner is super slow and scans one photo at a time (even if I can put four on the "bed"), so I can effectively grade a couple of pages of exams while I scan.

I have brought reinforcements, though, chocolate and tea. These are tried and true grading "allies," according to my friend Jo(e). It's always good to know that I'm not alone, that many of my blogging friends are in the throes of grading as well.

Good luck to all of us!

Friday, December 13, 2013


Just a few days back I posted that I longed to drop everything I needed to do to go pack for my trip, but now that most orders have arrived and our friends' and family members' orders too (BIG TOYS! tennis shoes galore)... I'm just DREADING packing.

And I'm getting more and more nervous about the trip.


And I haven't mentioned how much I have to grade and how I haven't had ANY time to grade. :-(

OK, I will have to pack whether I feel like it or not. So this whole discussion is moot!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Consumed by Photobooks

I was going to title it "Death by... Photobooks (?!)," but I thought it was a little extreme, no? :)

In any case, K & I spend the last two days assembling two beautiful photo books, one for each of his grandmothers. I designed his paternal grandma's book in Shutterfly while K designed the book for his maternal grandma in iPhoto (he loved it and refuses to use Shutterfly).

I've been assembling photos of the grandmothers for weeks now, since I talked to my mother-in-law on Thanksgiving and found out that she had photographed a lot of old photos of her mother's and she really wanted to make a photo book.

We couldn't work on them last week, though, so we had to do it this week and in the end I had to pay 27 dollars for shipping for the Shutterfly one so we'll have them before we fly to Brazil next Wednesday.

I'm happy to report that most of my shopping is done. YAY!!! I actually did lots of things that were NOT in that "To-Do List" and I just realized that I didn't do others. So now the best thing to do is to add the things I did and cross them out. YAY!

In any case, I'm going to Universitiy #3 tonight to give the final exam in person and feed Brazilian food for my students. I'm long overdue in talking about this "problem" that I have, but more on that later!!

I'm still SUPER stressed out about the trip and overwhelmed by the amount of grading I need to do. In fact, I should be consumed by grading now, and I will. I have no choice!

Wish me luck! And good luck to all those who are grading and grading and grading right now! We will survive!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Packing for Summer & "Paradise"

I don't feel like finishing the job of shoveling the driveway that the boys almost completed (we had about an inch of snow & sleet)...

I don't feel like cooking rice to eat with the beans from two days ago...

I don't feel like writing addresses on Christmas cards (I know I could print labels, but there should be something handwritten on them!)...

I don't feel like doing anything but packing for our incoming trip!

ONLY 11 DAYS!! (Can you hear the panic & exhilaration in my voice?)

Particularly packing my many summer dresses, blouses and sandals. I had been stashing them in a plastic bag for months and last Tuesday I carried them downstairs close to the suitcases I put down on the floor. And I haven't even touched my bikini & swimwear drawer yet!

I was just telling K that I probably have selected way too many clothes for the trip, but I just can't help it! I LOVE hot weather clothes and here in the U.S. I don't wear them enough (and of course I'm always buying more pieces, dirt-cheap, in clearance racks).

OK, let me go cook the rice, we need to eat, but the truth is I can't wait for our trip to Brazil and, most importantly, to "Paradise!" (scroll to bottom of post)

The Torture is OVER!

My plan was to have written this earlier in the week or a couple of days ago, titling the post "The Last Week [or Day] of Torture," but now it's all over!

All over but the finals and grading, that is. ;-)  But I can administer and grade lots of finals without a problem if I don't have to drive 152 miles every single day of the week.

IT'S OVER!! And I'll never do it again!! (next Fall I'll go M-Th and I intend to stay overnight once a week.

Yeah, and this past week I didn't even drive every day because of K's procedure on Wednesday (he's doing well, BTW). It was still hard to do it on Thursday and Friday.

All right, I'm up in the middle of the night trying to do Christmas shopping... sigh, but I guess I'll go to bed now!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

On Being Permanently "Done"

Right now, all the way across the country, my dear (and slightly older) cousin is being induced into labor and preparing to give birth to her first child (a boy!). In spite of some well-documented "on and off" desire to have another baby, I didn't want to be in her place! I've given birth twice and it was the most amazing thing that happened to me, but this morning we went ahead and got permanently "done."

Well, it will take a few months for it to be permanent so that I can have this removed from my body, but after putting it off for so long, we finally went ahead and scheduled K's "procedure." I don't like anything medical, but I watched it and it was pretty interesting. I did feel a bit sad when each "vas deferens" was cut, but then I thought again about my age and how we really can't have another baby for all kinds of reasons and I was fine with our decision. Sigh...

I thought I had more to say about this, but I don't. I have been so busy that I don't have the head space or the time to "wax poetic" about anything. Sigh... K is doing fine so far. He took Valium and another relaxer, so he slept most of the day. I hope he'll have a swift recovery! (especially because we travel in two weeks)