Sunday, December 31, 2017

Vacation/Family Reunion Blogging

Since I started blogging 13 years ago, our family spent several holidays (Christmas & New Year's or at least New Year's Eve) with my husband's whole family, generally in odd years:
  • 2005 (Brazil): all of us (minus the honeymooning couple -- we went to Brazil for their wedding) spent Christmas at my in-laws' apartment and a week & New Year's at a rental house at the beach. There were only 3 grandsons: aged 3 & 1.5 (two of them). 12 people (with my husband's paternal grandmother).
  • 2006 (U.S.): Christmas at my brother-in-law's house in Maryland (missing youngest BIL who joined us on a live-stream) & New Year's Eve with everyone at our house in Philly. 4 grandsons: aged 4, 2 (2) & 6 months old. 14 people.
(2007 & 2008 U.S. with the part of the family who lived at the U.S. at my in-law's apartment in MD & at hour house in PA)
  • 2009 (Brazil): --> missing "the pregnant Canadians:" New Year's Eve in Brazil with the news of new nephew/niece upcoming birth 9 months later. 5 grandsons: 7, 5 (2), 3 and 1. 13 people.
  • 2011: (U.S. - FL): "epic" Christmas & New Year's at big rental house in Orlando). 6 grandsons (9, 7 (2), 5, 3.5, 1.5) and 1 grand-daughter (1.5). 17 people.
  • 2013 (Brazil): historic "opening" of my father & mother-in-law's in Brazil, whole family plus two grandmothers, then wonderful days & New Year's at the beach in the Brazilian Northeast. 6 grandsons (+ last one on the way): aged 11, 9 (2), 7, 5, 3.5 and 1 grandaughter (3.5). 17 people. 
  • 2015 (U.S. - FL) a repeat of 2011 at an even larger house, now the family was complete, with all 8 grandchildren (13 to 1.5): seven boys and one girl, 18 people total.
  • 2017 (U.S. - PA) first winter get together up North (we could never do anything in cold places during winter with my father-in-law).  All 8 grandchildren (15 to 3.5), 17 people. :-(
I wrote most of this post in PA during the last days of the year.
Posting on 1/9/2018, having meant to have posted on 12/31/17.

In 2017...

... I had two amazing trips that were only 7-8 days long: to the West Coast with my son, his teacher, and the Robotics team (May 1-8) and to Patagonia (Argentina & Chile, Oct. 30 - Nov 7). The natural beauty I saw on these two trips was incredible, particularly on the one to Patagonia/ Tierra del Fuego.

... I planted morning glory (one of my favorite flowers) again for the first time since 2007! I cannot believe it had been TEN YEARS! :-( I seriously feel like sitting down and crying thinking of that.  (I did that with some help of a lovely friend who shared four seedlings with me to add to the seeds I'd put in the soil).

... After one year dragging my feed with indecision I got my own laptop at work and I'm not very happy with it. Because I decided to with a PC instead of a Mac (long story of grievances) I don't have administrator privileges and cannot install ANYTHING, not even software updates sometimes, without calling the IT tech at work. Talk about a nearly useless machine. Oh, and I'd always hated the way Macs dealt with photos. Guess what, stupid Windows 10 literally does it the same way (you cannot preview your photos and just go through them anymore on the PC. I hate Windows 10 -- which  is made for touch screens, it feels very "Mac like" with a passionate rage! :-( If I'd known about the admin issue I would definitely have gotten a Mac. Sigh...

... I watched LOTS of movies on DVD & Blu-ray and even some in the theater. I have a post about this coming.

... We FINALLY decided to become citizens of this country in the worst year ever to do so -- the horrible first year of that orange man's "regime."

... I intensely helped a family of refugees get settled (and now I feel guilty that I am too busy to continue to help them much).

... I actually got to teach a literature class that went extremely well which was a bittersweet experience to say the least. 

... for the very first time in my life I exercised 5 or almost 6 times a week with a group of friends & with a video for about 6 weeks in June -- but then NOT ever AGAIN more than once or twice a week (they just started doing it at 6 am yesterday, but I cannot handle 6 am, unfortunately, I did 7 am, and IN THE SUMMER NO LESS, but no, not 6 am, even less in the winter).

... We saw everyone in my husband's family twice (I also have a post about this).

... We did some long overdue work to the outside of the house (never got to post about this): trimming of bushes that hadn't been done in years, mulching of backyard, and we bought a power wash and power-washed the driveway, the front steps and the back patio. Still remains to be done: the siding. (and re-staining the deck).

... I taught a private class for 4 weeks in the summer whose compensation will probably make us pay EVEN MORE taxes, just like the 8K translation that took me a year and a half to complete just to cost us pretty much half in taxes. And it's infuriating to know that the new tax law won't help us at all, only the rich. :-(

... Oh, and for the first time ever I spent a week at a beach in this country and it was amazing! My father-in-law would have LOVED it. We are carrying on his legacy by doing the things he enjoyed together as a family.

Those are all the significant things I can think about right now. Lots of the same: soccer for younger son, swim team for both sons, K working a lot.

My apologies for the fact that most of these have an "oh, but..." side to them. That's life, I guess. Most things have a bad side. :-(

actually written on 1/9/2018, but intended to have been written on 12/31/2017

MARVELous Movie Marathon

First part written on 6/22/17, second part written on 1/9/18, but retroactively dated from 12/31/17. 

It used to be our tradition -- after the school year was over during graduate school or, when we were still in Brazil, mostly during the "winter break" in July, we would rent lots of VHS tapes of movies and watch them for several days in a row.

We still did that when we had our first baby, back when we lived in Massachusetts and there was this great video/DVD rental place that let you rent 5 DVDs or VHS tapes for 5 days for 5 dollars, that was so great!

After the second baby came, it became harder and harder and even though we had Netflix (one DVD at a time) we would only watch movies sporadically. There was one year in particular, 2007, I think, that we kept a Netflix DVD for THREE MONTHS and wouldn't stop and watch it. We could have BOUGHT two or three copies of that DVD, that's how much money we wasted.

So several years ago I stopped our Netflix subscription. I NEVER EVER liked their streaming services because there are very few good movies in it. Same thing with Amazon prime streaming, which we've used since it became available -- once in a while we find a film we like there and stream it. I'm not into TV shows or original series.

Here is a list of films I've seen in the past 3 weeks (before 6/22), the Marvel movies (which my son insist I see, in order, so I can go to see the new releases with him in the theater) have an M:

Anna Karenina (DVD from the library) by myself
Imitation Game (DVD from the library) -with hubby
Hidden Figures -- blu-ray with husband and youngest son
Bright Light (had already seen it, but saw it again, by myself, DVD from the library) - the special features are awesome
M - Iron Man (streaming from Amazon)
The BFG - blu-ray from Netflix - special features are excellent. I saw it with my youngest son.
M - Iron Man 2 - blu-ray from Netflix ( - watched part of it again (second half) with director comments -- it's great to hear their comments
M - Thor - got it from the library. Liked it OK, until now, my least favorite Marvel character.
       (until 6/22) Rest of the summer (all movies listed were blu-rays from ""):
M - Guardians of the Galaxy (I saw this one out of order, Kelvin watched it with me, then we saw #2 in the theater)
Moonlight - I liked it, my husband liked the other Oscar favorite more.
M - Captain America: The First Avenger (my son may have seen part of it with me) (He watched National Treasure and the sequel on DVD, I didn't)
M - The Avengers (I'd seen it in an airplane years ago and loved it, now, with the context, I liked it even more)
M - Iron Man 3
M - Thor: The Dark World (I liked it OK)
M - Captain American: The Winter Soldier (I liked this one)
M - Avengers: Age of Ultron - my son had said it was his least favorite, but I liked it. It's pretty dark and a good criticism of the emphasis on militarization in this country.
La-la-Land  - my husband LOVED it, I didn't care for it that much. I think my husband loves the very realistic fight scene & the ending. Sigh... I kind of hated the music. BLAH.
M - Ant Man (this was fun!)
Hacksaw Ridge - saw with my husband (the true guy belonged to our church and lived pretty close to where we live -- I was very impressed by this true story. In spite of Mel Gibson, sigh...)
M - Captain America: Civil War -- I think we saw this streaming from Netflix. I had seen it in the theater with my son last year and enjoyed it, but hadn't fully understood it, obviously. I liked it a lot.
M - Dr. Strange (I thought I wouldn't like it, but I did)
Loving - wow, what a nicely done film! I think I've never seen a movie with so little dialogue, seriously! Great film, and very close to "home" too. ;-)
Queen of Katwe - I saw this on my own and I really liked it. Special features are good.
The Theory of Everything - fascinating! My husband the physicist obviously watched it with me.

WOW, 24 films, 13 Marvel.

I then saw a couple of missing episodes of Masterpiece's Victoria and cancelled my plan.

I saw the other two Marvel movies in the theater with my son: Spider-Man: Homecoming (pretty great) & Thor: Ragnarock -- so much fun! We've decided to see Infinity Wars on IMAX. I already put it on my calendar!

Yeah, this was MY YEAR for becoming a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, wasn't it? It may be the year I've seen more films in my whole life. Definitely the summer!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

8 posts to go...

... to get to 77 (because one is already written).

I'll have to post them all in the next 24h, but that won't be hard. ;-)

Sometimes I wish I were blogging more, but I keep in touch with former bloggers (such as Leery Polyp, Professing Mama, Anastasia, Raising WEG, etc.) on Facebook. I like it that Jamie (Light & Momentary), What Now?, and Laura (11D) are still around in blogland, though.

OK, gotta post this and come back for more later. Today the family who lives in Qatar (K3+family) had to leave to fly back home. Tomorrow morning the rest of us will leave the Poconos, so tonight my husband, his youngest brother and four of the boys (my youngest, K3's two boys, and K4's oldest) decided to go snowboarding/skiing because it snowed lightly all day. I hope they'll have fun and that my son & hubby won't get sicker -- they had scratchy throats. I'll update later.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Really Cold Holidays in PA

I've been writing a post about all holidays spent with my husband's family for a few days now (I have this need to look back and to make lists) and I hope to post it soon.

In the meantime, I just wanted to say that we've been here in the Poconos mountains since Christmas Eve. We like the house we rented a lot! It has lots of entertainment for the kids and lots of bedrooms so we are comfortably installed. We brought clothes and equipment (only one snowboard, but 4 helmets -- one of which I just bought) packed tightly in our tiny Prius, but in the end it was so cold we decided not to go skiing, fearing that we'd spend a lot of money and then not be able to stay at the mountain for very long.

We also have a lot of young kids, two of which live in Qatar (and before that in Brazil), so they're not used to the cold and that was another reason not to go. Of course my nephews from Canada (7 and 3) were right at home in the cold!

We also love playing board games (Dominion, Seven Wonders, Ticket to Ride - Rails and Sails, Sushi Go, Blokus, just the 4 brothers: Galaxy Trucker, Patch, the little kids - Monopoly Super Mario) and spent a lot of time doing that. We didn't even play all the games we brought (Settlers of Catan, Hanabi & some others I don't know that my brother-in-law brought from Canada).

We did a little bit of shopping too and went out to eat at Olive Garden, one of K's family's traditions.
My "Candian"  sister-in-law had to fly back to Montreal on Wednesday and tomorrow the first family leaves (the ones who live in Qatar). We will see each other again in Florida in the first week of July.

Gotta go to bed now, but I hope to finish the other post tomorrow!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Greatest Fear Revised

Back in 2011 I blogged about my greatest fear (wow, I was already living in this house and it was also December!) and then revisited that idea/post in March 2015 when my husband's cousin's wife had a very scary brush with death.

Well... I guess my greatest fear has changed now that my sons are older and it has reverted back to what it was before I became a mother. If I die now, my sons will not only have lots of memories of me and our relationship, but they are older and while that would still be awful, they don't need me as much anymore (well, they do, but I don't feel so scared and helpless with the thought of leaving them behind).

My greatest fear has always been losing my mind, having a mental breakdown, going crazy. Whatever you wanna call it. My dad's family immediate has a history of mental-health issues. His youngest brother was schizophrenic (I pretty much told his life in my post about my "three uncles" a couple years ago) and his sisters are pretty troubled (bipolar, probably? and we don't know what the other one has).

The fact that I am not neuro-typical by having ADHD doesn't help my fear and there's something I've experienced since I was 16, which I never discussed with a mental health professional (not that I've seen one for long anyway and I was unhappy with him) -- I experience these "dream attacks" that I guess one could call "panic attacks," but not so serious (I haven't researched much about panic attacks either). I can write a post about that, exploring how and when it started (it's an interesting story) but the experience is just brief moments of feeling that I'm "living inside" my own previous dream and it's very unsettling. It's happened often enough in my life that I'm capable of weathering and brushing it off much more than I could do when I was 16.

Anyway, in days like today, when I'm extremely stressed out by all the things I desperately need to do and don't have enough time: FINISH GRADING,  it TAKES FOREVER!, The Xmas Cards have been printed and ready to go for THREE WEEKS and I haven't mailed them :-( , the house is filthy and needs cleaning, guests arrive on Sunday evening and the house needs cleaning and I need to plan food for guests while K and I go on our anniversary getaway for two nights. OH, and there's laundry to be done! (but I wish I could line dry it, but it's too cold!!) Sigh...

Yeah, not a recipe for a good place mental-health wise. Sigh...

Well, even though nobody is reading I needed the free therapy of blogging this morning to help me cope with the busy-ness. And I will constantly be praying that I won't ever lose my mind. That I will find good professionals to help me so it can be avoided. HOPEFULLY!!

P.S. it doesn't help that this presidency/regime is angering and stressing me out so much! I have a blog post in the drafts folder about the CHIP program, in addition to the net-neutrality worries.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

NOOOOO!!!! Net Neutrality was Killed!!

A small victory one day (Doug Jones wins) and large setbacks the next day. How are we going to survive this horrible administration?

They are beginning to interfere with our lives in very tangible ways!!

Sigh... I don't even know what else to say, except that I feel powerless and that how can we effectively RESIST if big corporations and their profits are given more and more power over our lives?

I'm so angry! This anger and stress and daily worries will take its toll on all of us, seriously!

I have to go find more things to read, but this commentary is good.

P.S. it's like Brad, Jo's friend said, after Doug Jones's Alabama victory on Tuesday, we had to get a bad thing happen before the end of the week. We couldn't get both. :-(

Monday, December 11, 2017


Last time I blogged I was upset because I couldn't find something I'd written and I found it the next day on my phone's notes.

I will post it, maybe later today, but I feel I need to write an update since I have been posting very sparsely, no? Sigh...

I'm at the orthodontist's office with my youngest son right now and this morning I had to drive to school to take an inhaler to my oldest (he hardly ever needs it, but I guess running during P.E. made him wheezy, I hope he'll keep the inhaler in his backpack and use it as needed).

The past two weekends were extremely busy, first we did our annual "mega-volunteering" for our church's Christmas community outreach event: a very involved "guided tour" of 1 AD Bethlehem. My husband and I are guides as is our 15 year old with a classmate. We help for over 4 hours 5 nights straight (plus a couple of hours two days before for the dress rehearsal).

This past weekend our high-schooler and his classmates had the Christmas concerts weekend: Candlelight concert Friday night with a repeat performance Saturday afternoon, performances at church in the morning and a Pop concert on Saturday night.

I'm tired! But I'm happy that yesterday I was able to put up a small Christmas tree. I hope to share photos soon!

Appointment is done and we're off!