Thursday, June 23, 2005

two links: childhood memories, gardening and writing

Edited in Jan. 3rd 2007 to fix the link to Dawn's entry.
I couldn't help but link to this WONDERFUL post by Dawn (this woman's work) about childhood memories, letting children roam, also, about work, since play is children's work, which it the title of the post (Expatmama might like that, even though it's not totally related to her work discussion). It just helped me so much to think that children need unsupervised play, and it seems that I've been so involved with my children as a mother that I had forgotten how wonderful my own childhood was, with me and my brother playing freely everywhere (we lived in the countryside, our parents worked at a boarding academy, that was basically on a farm - we were soooo lucky!). Anyway, of course they are still young, but there will come a time that the best thing I can do for them is let them be on their own and figure things out...

The other post has to do with my recent gardening passion, and it was great to see someone writing about gardening and writing, it came in handy, I just don't know whether I'll have a "happy ending" to my story like Ericka! But I'll try to keep on writing and gardening (and certainly the second is much easier, I totally agree!)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Gardening 101 (edited )

I edited this in July adding pictures to the "body" of the post. I'll try to add some more later, then I can delete the other "picture-only" entries.

(I wrote the first part 11 days ago 6/7/05)

I have been spending quite some time taking care of my very first garden, and I'm so excited!!

In our first 4 years here in the U.S. we lived in rental apartments, then, we bought a condo (townhouse), but I could only "garden" in the patio, in containers, and I don't like container gardening too much. In that first house, even though we weren't supposed to, I planted tulip bulbs in the bare mulched space between our condo and the next (we had a corner unit), and a shasta daisy plant by the back patio wall. But I longed to plant vegetables, and more flowers, etc... I finally had the chance when we moved to the Philadelphia area last year and bought one side of a "twin" house, with a small front lawn, and a pretty big backyard.

The funny thing with me and gardening is that I'm TERRIBLE at taking care of house plants. My potted plants get neglected and end up dying, and, upon the birth of our first son, I figured he'd try to eat them anyway, so I gave up on them. Gardening outdoors, though, is a whole different story. I can easily water using a hose, I can enjoy being outside while I garden, I can be creative in using the space that I have, etc, etc...

I started small last year, planting a few perennial shrubs under our front bay window with the help of my mom and dad who were still here (see picture). Then, in (very) late fall, I planted tulip and crocus bulbs in front of the shrubs. They bloomed beautifully this spring, as you can see below.

(from now on I'm writing as I go)

Tulips are my favorite flowers, we don't have them in Brazil, it's too hot there for them, so you can imagine my excitement to see them bloom every year! I posted 2 pictures, even though I took a ton...

Well, just to explaing the last pictures. After the tulips wilted, it took me a while to work in the garden again, but I did, and I planted pretty petunias, and another flower I don't know the name of... So, I will be back here writing about gardening. I don't want to forget to mention that I also planted herbs by the kitchen back steps, and in the back of the yard, tomato plants and zuchinni. But I haven't photographed them yet!

P.S. I have to say that I am an avid photographer (mostly of my kids :) and it's surprising I hadn't tried to post pictures earlier here. I guess seeing the pictures in one of chicagomama's latest entries, got me going. (I'll try to add link later)

Tulips are my favorite flowers (4/28/04) Posted by Hello

Tulips between condos (4/28/04) Posted by Hello

Daisies (10/15/03) Posted by Hello

Getting started (9/3/05) Posted by Hello

Crocuses (with Linton) - 4/5/05 Posted by Hello

Tulips 1 (with Kelvin) - 4/21/05 Posted by Hello

Tulips 2 (4/19/05) Posted by Hello

"Before" (6/12/05) Posted by Hello

"After" (6/12/05) Posted by Hello

Me and my Boys

Me and my boys, on April 9, 2005. Posted by Hello

I hope you enjoy the photo! I just wanted to test blog photo adding with "hello" and it seems to work. Now I want to see how it looks when I edit the post and add text to it.
Next will come my very "picturesque" (my own meaning for this word today: full of pictures :) gardening post, OK?

Saturday's the night to post

OK, the main reason why I haven't posted earlier is because I want to figure out how to add photos so I can finally do the post about gardening I have started writing weeks ago. It's just that I think it'll be more interesting for the "readers", since gardening may be a subject not a lot of people identify with. I have posted 1 picture before (the very first post), using this program called Hello. I just have to try again - I wonder how will I incorporate pictures into a post, that's my main question. So, I may try to do a test pretty soon...

Lame excuse, I know... with the laptop downstairs on the table all week.

Reason #2 is better. My husband has come up with at suggestion to hopefully help to get me motivated to work on the dissertation. The deal is, I have to "buy" internet time by spending at least the same amount of time in the dissertation that I want to spend online. It's working more or less. I did get some writing and reading done for the dissertation this week, and I probably spent LESS time online, since I'd feel guilty doing it if I hadn't worked on any academic stuff.

Let's see if it works. It IS a good idea, though, I have to admit!

All righ, so, I know it's technically Sunday now, but - it's official!! - Saturday's the night to post (if I fail to do so any other night). Deal?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

We've gone wireless!/ "Well baby" visit

Yes, I know, we're sooooo late for this, but finally we have set up a wireless network in our home, and I'm posting from my laptop for the first time. I'm in the living room, and now I can post from more places in the house (not that our house is really big, you know, basically 2 rooms downstairs and 3 upstairs (not counting the 1 1/2 bathrooms).

Anyway, regardless, it's exciting! And I wanted to "celebrate" by making this post my very first wireless experience online - I haven't even checked my email yet!! (wow, and I do that very often, like 300 times a day) Or even checked other blogs...

Well, as for news, it's still VERY hot here, but my garden is happy (preview of next post). Today we turned the AC on for a change (we don't have it on all the time, we just can't afford it - the winter heating costs are already too much... : (

Oh, and Linton had his 1 year "well baby [doctor's] visit" on Thursday. He's doing great! In the "charting" he's in the 75% for height (30 3/4 inches, 76,2 cm ), 50% for weight (22 lb. 7 oz., 10,63 kg). He's much bigger than his brother (who was always around 25% at most - oh, but his head circumference was 95% - good brains : ) Oh, yes, this percentile thing is very American, I always have to explain it to my family in Brazil, but now they understand it and even ask about it... (Explanation for anyone not familiar with American pediatric "practices": being in the 75% [percentile], for example, means that on average, only 25% of the boys in the country are heavier/ taller than the boy in question - there are different charts for boys and girls, of course). I guess it adds up to that whole "perfect madness" thing, one more thing to worry about, one more thing parents can use to "compare" their kids to other peoples' and see if they "measure up". I don't really care. As long as they're healthy. Babies and kids come in all sizes, colors, complexions, etc... just like everyone else on earth!

Well, without further ado, let me post this. I have been interrupted a thousand times since I started writing - I guess that would have happened less if I were in the "study" upstairs (the tiny bedroom where we have our desktop computer and its paraphernalia, and 2 bookcases super full of books) - but it's still fun to go online in a different spot for a change. Here, at least, Linton won't be able to pull books off the shelves, and pull out cds, try to turn off the computer or play with the mouse and keyboard!! He can play with the toys already all over the floor. Bingo!! I think now I'll be online even more (just kidding, I already spend way too much time online). All right, I'm done with this post (I have to write this to stop myself from continuing to write : )

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Blogroll Updated!

I finally added a few more blogs to the list of "Blogs I read". I know, I shouldn't be reading many blogs, I shouldn't even BE online, but -- this is my last "obsession"... something that fills my time and thoughts, since I really don't have a lot of meaningful things going on in my life as an expatriate mother...

Oh, well...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Blame it on "Invisible Adjunct"

I went to respond to expatmama's comment to a previous post (May 18 - I'm too tired right now to bother to add a link, sorry)... and I finally realized what got me started with this whole blogging thing.

No, it had nothing to do with mothering, which now seems to be my main focus, as well as the topic of all blogs I read, either regularly or by chance (my blogroll needs some serious updating). The very first blog I ever read was Invisible Adjunct's, after it had already been "abandoned" by the writer. The funny thing was that even though I was genuinely interested in the academic things (will write more on that below), what I craved to read first and foremost were all the personal entries, most of which had to do with her son (the most poignant one involves her reaction to him almost being killed by a cab driver).

I now realize that this is a perfect metaphor for my life. I should be writing my dissertation, thinking about academia, but all I want is to concentrate on my personal life and interests, read about and interact with other moms (oh well, too bad I can only do it online... but that's another matter), and, oops, blog.

It's partly Invisible Adjunct's fault as well... the parts of the blog that I read (and the 2 articles in the Chronicle of Higher Ed she links to and cites) were her arguments AGAINST pursuing a Ph.D. I found out about the blog when a colleague forwarded the Chronicle's article about Invisible Adjunct to the listserv of my dept's graduate students. [oh, yes, I have come across, but not followed, entries in blogs about an adjunct professor, I guess, who was fired for comments on her blog - I guess the "technical term" would be "dooced", right, bloggers? Anyway, I don't think graduate students will ever "suffer" if they blog, will they?]
When I read parts of Invisible Adjunct's blog, I felt SOOOOO discouraged. I thought I fit perfectly in the category of people who shouldn't have bothered getting a Ph.D. Perhaps a little smart, very motivated, but not bright enough, with the guts to fight the competition and ever get a good job. Oh, yes, and to top it off, I'm a foreigner, I don't even know the educational system of this country -- I came here only for graduate school -- I don't fit at all in American academia, most probably!!!

I read this blog too late, though. I think it was last summer. I had just defended my prospectus, and given birth. I had already spent 6 years in graduate school (7 if you count my non-degree first year - WOW, that would mean I've been 8 years in this journey -- will I ever finish?)

And now I think my professional "destiny" (and this kind of ties in with the job discussion that has been going on at Expat Mama) will be to be an invisible adjunct myself. I don't see much more than that happening after I finish my Ph.D. and my babies grow up enough so I can go back to work.

I felt very out-of-place as a T.A. I had never had a T.A. as an instructor, I had no idea, and no way to find out, whether the "cold" and sometimes "careless" (in the sense of not caring) -- though never disrespectful -- way the students treated me as their teacher (when I was teaching classes entirely on my own) was the norm, or just if I was a not so good teacher. I really can't see myself as a "professor" here in the US. Perhaps only in one area: Brazilian literature and culture, maybe Portuguese language (I have to say, for the record, that I do not like teaching language, even though I taught English in Brazil). However, this is a TINY, really minuscule academic area. Very few universities offer Portuguese classes, let alone Brazilian lit courses... and I doubt any of them are hiring anyone anytime soon -- oh yes, and I forget -- we have no idea where my husband will find a job, and, chances are, the university that hires me won't have Portuguese classes, nor will any other institutions around it.

On the other hand, when I think of going back to Brazil, I can easily see myself as a respected professional/professor there, with a Ph.D. from an American University in hand, a broad knowledge of a foreign culture, etc... And then I feel that not going back would be professional or academic "suicide" for me. If I stay here I might just end up staying at home with my kids, even home-schooling (that sounds really weird coming out of somebody who always said she valued school, etc... but that's an entirely different subject I don't want to write about now) -- that, of course, if my husband finds a decent tenure-track job as a physicist at a research university (and even then I might have to try to find whatever work is available so we can have more income). I have often thought, and tried to convince myself of, that teaching at a Community College (nothing against them, on the contrary) would be a very noble job.

That's where I guess my rambling comments here tie in to Expat Mama's discussion about work: I think that in Brazil, similar to here, people also view work as something that you need to enjoy, as a kind of "calling", something you're vocationed to do. People are encouraged to study whatever they are passionate about, and try to find a fulfilling job after. That's what I've been led to believe all my life, and both my parents were always "fulfilled" professionals... I feel frustrated thinking that if we choose to remain here, I won't be able to feel this fulfillment, no matter what my qualifications are.

Those are not the best feelings in the world to work with when you have to find out strength to finish a Ph.D. dissertation...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

It had to get worse....

... before it could get better. After I last posted, Kelvin also developed a fever. Then, apparently, Linton was also teething (with no new tooth to show for all his suffering yet), and cried most of Wednesday night, mouth a faucet of saliva, and apparently having trouble swallowing (we also thought it could be a sore-throat). Anyway, we were exhausted. My back did get better slowly, even though it's not 100% yet.

The upside of having things get even worse is the relief afterwards, when you can look back and realize it IS over, phew!

Kelvin only had to take acetaminophen 3 times, and didn't have any other symptoms of a flu or anything, and Linton's fever was gone too -- only some clinginess left from his crying jags on
Wed. night, followed by nursing sessions (tired me...).

Anyway, there's this "serious" post that I have started, and want to try to finish.... let's see.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Birthday Boy has a fever

It seems a family tradition that right after their first birthday, just to "celebrate", or maybe "uncelebrate" the milestone, my sons get sick.

Five days after Kelvin's first birthday, we ended up in the emergency care because he was wheezing terribly. First time I was ever in an ambulance, because since it was a Friday night (right before Spring break in our university clinic too), they decided to send us to the hospital, and the fastest way to be admitted was to go in an ambulance. Besides, his oxygen levels had been low, so this seemed to warrant the need for the ambulance. Needless to say (thankfully), I don't think it was necessary to have gone to the hospital, just taking a nebulizer home would have been OK. The doctor wanted him to have a chest X-ray, though, and to this day I get mad at myself for having waited until after 4-5 at night to go to urgent care in our clinic, because by then radiology was closed, and, to be on the safe side, we ended up in the emergency room. The night was TERRIBLE, because high on steroids, the boy was worse, much worse than the Energizer bunny, and didn't sleep until 2 or 3 am. He LOVED playing in the playroom's kitchen and being pulled by an exhausted mama in the multiple wagons the hospital had. I'll never forget that night in March 2003.

Nothing so serious and tragic here today, but Linton does have a fever (not so bad right now 'cause he's on acetaminophen, but it was 102), and I, of course, still have a terrible backache to deal with... Of course, blogging about it will make it all better :)

I wish.