Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm Going to be an Auntie Again!! Maybe Today.

Hey, I knew there was mommy stuff coming up, see? (apart from my sleep troubles post that has been brewing for weeks now)

We'll be on our way to Maryland shortly, since my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are at the hospital right now. Just yesterday my SIL and I were instant-messaging each other and she was very miserable because she felt the baby would never come... I know the feeling since that's how it was with Linton 2 years 29 days ago...

And it's deja vu for us too - Linton was born when his paternal grandparents were in an airport, inside a plane, 40 minutes away. My mother-in-law is scheduled to fly to Boston tonight at 9, and we're afraid the baby will come exactly around this time, like his cousin did (both their names end in "ton," so maybe that's part of the problem :). That's why we're going there, so we can take my MIL to the airport if necessary. My SIL's parents arrive from Brazil tomorrow morning, and we were all hoping the baby wouldn't be born exactly in the 12-18 hours there'll be no grandparents around to help out. No such luck, I guess.

Her water broke at 4:46 this morning, but dilation is taking a while. The hospital is very busy with other birthing moms too, so they haven't been able to start her on pitocin yet (yikes - she likes epidurals, though, so... it'll probably be fine).

I'd love nothing better in this world than being able to see my nephew being born, but I'm not counting on it... I wanted to be there to take pictures (I am a photography fanatic, you already know that), 'cause I don't think my BIL will be able to do that and support his wife at the same time. Well, we'll see. I'll try to post as soon as I can. And I'll ask permission to share one newborn photo with you, OK?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More on the World Cup - Why don't Americans Care for Soccer?

Note: Regularly scheduled "mommy" blog posts will follow and, pretty soon, some dissertation-related stuff. I think I'm just too eclectic in this blog and I hope this doesn't scare away my few readers! :)
I still want to comment about other things that I didn't have time to get into in the previous post. A few weeks ago, my husband emailed me an article from the Boston Globe that, in his words, would make "great blogging material." He was perfectly right and I don't want to let the chance to blog about it slip away.

Most everywhere in the world or at least "in all countries in Europe and most of Latin America," as the article states, footbal (known as soccer only in the U.S.) is the sport of choice. It certainly is a "democratic" sport in that it's pretty "cheap" to play, requiring only a ball, any kind of structure for a goal (kids in Brazil play with any objects they can stick on the ground for goals), some open flat space and a flexible number of players, though the official game requires 11 on each side, including the goal keeper. I have always wondered why is it that soccer has no following in the U.S. even after 1994's World Cup that was here and after the relative success of its national team in the 2002 World Cup. Interestingly enough, U.S. women's soccer is one of the best of the world, something that doesn't happen in other countries in which the game is extremely popular and is most commonly played by men.

So when I saw the Boston Globe article, I eagerly read it, and it answered most of my questions regarding soccer and sports in the U.S. The article, written by Andrei Markovits, is titled, "Soccer remains foreign concept to most Americans" definitely a great title. The first reason for the sport's lack of popularity in the U.S. laid out by Markovits sounds pretty strange to me, since England was the country where footbal/soccer was invented and the game is still pretty
popular there:
[In] many countries under former British political rule . . . the two games played by members of the British ruling military and bureaucracy in the late 19th century -- cricket and rugby -- furnished their hegemonic sports cultures and do so to this day. Just think of India, Pakistan, the West Indies in the Caribbean, indeed all of the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. None of these became soccer countries then and they still are not to this day.
This statement follows
Soccer surely is the globe's most widely played and also most widely followed game and sport. But it does not mean that it has succeeded in covering the entire globe in an equal manner. It has remained from the beginning of the 20th century predominantly the prerogative of Europe and Latin America, with the rest of the world always playing the game but never following and experiencing it as culture.
When footbal/soccer was created in England in the 1830s, the U.S. was already an independent country which was creating its own sports, first and foremost, baseball, which quickly became popular. I was intrigued to learn what's probably obvious to people who have grown up in this country: that football, or American football as we call it in Brazil, became popular and hegemonic because it was adopted as the game of choice of the main universities. The article states that "Whereas baseball flourished in America's working-class culture and was played during the summer, American football became the cultural domain of its growing middle class and was played during the fall on college campuses."

Then basketball and volleyball (which he doesn't mention in the article) were invented [I lived only a few miles from Springfield and Holyoke in Massachusetts, where each or these sports was invented] for indoor play during the winter months. I didn't know this fascinating fact about basketball, which is "the only modern team sport that had absolutely no predecessors in ancient Egypt, Renaissance Italy, the Inca empires, or rural Britain but was literally created de novo by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield in 1891."

The article continues explaining that soccer was played in the U.S. and still is practiced today by around 18 million people, "But playing and following are two different things. Millions of people bowl, fish, jog, bicycle, or play billiards, yet this does not mean they follow the sport." This is a key fact regarding the average American's obliviousness when it comes to soccer and the World Cup. Soccer became, because of the educational reforms from the 1940s on claiming equal access to team sports to women, the sport of choice for women in this country, while men "had concentrated all their energies on the hegemonic sports cultures of the Big Four." (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, I suppose). In spite of the success of the women soccer players of the U.S. (two time world champions and Olympic gold medalists), "soccer has become feminized in America to an extent totally unimaginable anywhere in the world, where it remains a proudly guarded and strutted male preserve and masculine domain."

The article continues stating that because of the Olympics and the World Cup in the U.S. in 1994, every four years, some Americans will follow soccer for a few weeks, but that's about it. "But the American public -- beyond the small community of real soccer fans -- will not be upset, hurt, or angry if and when its team loses. Nor will it be overjoyed and ecstatic should its team prove unexpectedly successful. The World Cup will play second fiddle to the NBA Finals."

This is something that is hard for the rest of the world to understand. The articulist begins and ends his article saying that he pities the American team that, with the probable exception of the Australians, is the team with less support from their country's people and that's why he will cheer for them passionately. Interestingly enough, Americans are passionate about the NBA finals, "the World Series" (what a silly name that is to us foreigners - world? - the U.S. and one or two Canadian teams? It's truly laughable), but, anyway, I was intrigued to learn that "American sports identity does not know the term 'national team'."

Markovits ends his essay writing that
The absence of this integral discourse to the soccer world is precisely why I am such a massive supporter of our American team at the World Cup beyond my being a citizen of the United States. Because unlike our basketball or ice hockey players, who can return home to their superstar existence and take immediate and comforting refuge from their international debacle, our soccer players have the worst of both worlds -- disrespected and vilified by the international soccer world and virtually unknown at home. Such is the burden the historical development of American sport culture has placed on them.

Before I end this post I just wanted to make a quick comment about something I read in the New York Times' World Cup Blog (yes, there is such a thing - with tons of comments!). I only quickly read one post about the first game Brazil played and browsed through its comments. One commenter said that he'd been to a bar in lower Manhatan where many Brazilians had assembled to watch the game and he commented that it's a pleasure just to watch us Brazilians watching a soccer game. He said that one has to learn with us how to watch a game. He described the audience's involvement in the game and how each move in the field elicited close reactions from the crowd. I had never thought about that, I mean, for me any big sports fan watches a sport passionately, but perhaps we Brazilians are even more passionate and I am definitely like that!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The World Cup and I (updated with logos and bonus curious facts)

Note: I got the logos of every world cup I'm discussing in Google and I want to include them in the post, but I'll come back for that later, OK?

Update: I have now included the logos below and Brazil won 3 X 0 against Ghana. Now I wonder who we'll be playing against on Saturday, Spain or France? Spain is playing really well, but with France I get really nervous because of 1986 and 1998, so I don't know. Last paragraph was updated too and there's a bonus curiosity at the end.

I've been trying to write this posts for two weeks now. In less than an hour Brazil will play Ghana and if they don't win we'll be out of the World Cup, so it's now or never - if I don't post now, I may end up not doing it at all :)

As a soccer loving Brazilian, I measure my life by soccer World Cups, so every four years I wonder what I'll be doing in four years and look back to years past and past world cups. Right now I can't believe this is the third World Cup since I came to the U.S.!

The first World Cup that I really remember is the 1982 one in Spain, when I was 11 years old. I don't think my dad watched the 1978 one - I'd have to ask him [he says he probably did, but he can't really remember much], or maybe I was just too young to enjoy watching soccer games. In 1982 I wrote down the name of the players in Brazilian team, which we call “Seleção Brasileira” (Brazilian "selection"), trying to immitate the signatures of the goal-scoring players that the Globo TV network in Brazil displayed on the screen after each goal. I think the drawings on the right page were inserted years later, probably around 1985-6.
I remember clearly the day Brazil lost. I watched the game at a friend's house and we were extremely nervous throughout and devasted at the end. My brother, who watched it at home, told me later that he cried a lot after Brazil lost (I didn't cry). We hated Italy and Paolo Rossi, one of their best players and the scorer of Italy's three goals. It seemed a very cruel and unjust loss because that team, with the famous players Zico (Japan's coach this year!), Falcão, Sócrates, and others, was well known for its "beautiful game."

Four years later, in 1986 in Mexico we lost to Michel Platini's France on the penalty kicks after we remained tied in the extra 30 minutes. That game was on a Saturday, and I'm really afraid that Brazil may have to play against France again next Saturday - 20 years later. Of course it would be only a "superstitious" fear, but still, these eerie coincidences are not fun at all. This time (I was 15) when I wrote down in my journal the players, I classified them from the one I thought was more handsome down to the others as you can see in the picture - the second one was not really handsome, but as he scored 5 goals, he deserved to be in the top of the list :)

In the 1990 World Cup in Italy we lost to Argentina, one of our fiercest rivals, and I was so nervous that I could hardly watch the game even though I had the support of my new (and first) boyfriend (current husband) at my side. I kept going downstairs to the kitchen so I could be distracted and less anxious.

Then came 1994. I was going to put a picture of me and my friends taken in the "interval" between the two halves of the final game against Italy (again), but I look so silly that I just decided not to :) What a nerve wrecking final! Me and my friend (who was our hostess at her house) distracted ourselves making popcorn for everyone. I concede that winning a world cup in a 0 X 0 match is not fun and not beautiful at all. Winning in the penalty kicks is almost a "random," method that relies more on luck than ability, but... our goal-keeper was lucky to defend once and Italy (I can't remember who, sorry) was unlucky to lose a goal and... we won!! The first time since 1970, the year before I was born. 24 years waiting to win again, and now we were "Tetra Champions," having won the world cup four times, a feat no other country in the world had yet achieved. For our battered Brazilian souls, this was heaven! At least our country was good in something even if in the grand scheme of things soccer is not very meaningful.

Two years later I moved to the U.S. (1996) and the first World Cup here in 1998 we were so hopeful that we'd now be "Penta" (five-time) champions and even more unreachable in our status as the best soccer players int he world. I had nothing else to do, so I watched almost every single game of the cup, really enjoying them. I even wrote the results and goal scorers in a date-book. We went to a friend's house, which was packed of passionate Brazilians and some Portuguese Americans, to watch the final game and we were utterly devastated by the outcome. At least - that was my consolation - it was not Argentina, Italy, or Germany that won because then none of them tied us with four world championships (each still has three). Another consolation was the fact that I was not born in France, but in Switzerland (as I wrote in my 100 things post #13). I had never been thankful for that, on the contrary, because I wanted to have a foreign citizenship, but that July afternoon in 1998, I was utterly relieved I was not French!!

Then, in 2002 I was amazed to think that I now had a son, and kept thinking that in the next world cup he'd be four years old (as he is now, little did I know he'd also have a little brother :). His grandparents sent him various Brazilian team t-shirts from Brazil, and we dressed him up every game, even though the shirts were way too big for his tiny 3 month old self. This photo was taken after the final game against Germany. The only down side of having a 3 month old was that I almost couldn't watch the final game! We went to watch it with a bunch of Brazilians from our university and when they screamed in nervousness, he cried. Fortunately, there was another room with a TV in the house and I got to watch the game on my own, nursing him, and after it was over I came to the living room to celebrate with everyone. It was AWESOME! Penta-champions, as we say in Portuguese. Now it would be harder for our rivals to reach the same number of World Cup victories.

There were other things to write about, such as the fact that there are many gender stereotypes about women not enjoying soccer, etc, but I have to go watch the game, it starts in 10 minutes and I haven't even put on my Brazil jersey yet!! I'll be back later to update the post. Update: OK, Brazil won. Just a few more words. Before the World Cup started, I got an email that was circulating in Brazil that I got really mad at. It was a wife's guide for how to treat her husband during the world cup (no use talking to him, etc)... Very stereotypical stuff. Of course many women fit that description of not being interested in soccer and very annoyed at their husbands watching the game. I, on the other hand, have always been interested in the game, I know the rules, I like to discuss about the performance of the teams, etc. I really ENJOY soccer (or footbal, "futebol" in Portuguese). So I was very annoyed by this email.

Bonus: Curious prediction for this year's winner (very biased, of course, but pretty intriguing) - I got this in an email from a Brazilian friend and translated into English (I haven't googled it to see where this originated):

"Look how interesting!!!
Brazil won the World Cup in 1994, before that, its last title was in 1970. If you add 1970 + 1994 = 3964
Argentina won its last World Cup in 1986, before then, only in 1978. Adding up 1978 + 1986 = 3964
Germany, on the other hand, won its last World Cup in 1990. Before then it was in 1974. Add up 1990 + 1974 = 3964
Following this logic, one could have guessed the winner of 2002's World cup, because it would have to be the winner of 1962's World Cup! Just checking: 3964 - 2002 = 1962
And the winner of the Cup in 1962 was Brazil !
And who would win the World Cup in 2006 ?
Answer: 3964 - 2006 = 1958
And who won in 1958 ?..........
Yes, exactly!!! You can prepare the party/ celebration!!! Because the winner [in 1958] was Brasil!!! There's no mistake here, "O HEXA É NOSSO" THE HEXA IS OURS!!!"

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Playground Weary

Note: I started this post (only with the title) on Monday the 19th, wrote the first two paragraphs and uploaded photos on Thursday (22nd), but only got to finish it today.

I've been trying to write three blog posts in the past week or so, this, one about the World Cup, another about sleep (or its lack). For some reason, instead of just blogging away whatever's on my mind as is generally the norm in blogging, for some reason I have been driven to include many pictures and write a coherent and well shaped texts, all of which take time and make posting more difficult to do. So, I'm trying to write this one as I go, though I wasn't able to let go on the pictures :)

I'm really, really tired of playgrounds right now. Of course this statement should have been issued last weekend, when I last went to one with the boys, but like I said, I haven't been able to post earlier. OK, why would I be tired of playgrounds? Well, first off, since my parents got here back in February, I haven't taken the boys to the playground several times a week as I used to, my parents do that; second, I spent a LOT of time in playgrounds last week, for several reasons.

Before we went to Massachusetts, my brother drove us to New York city where I dropped him off at his hotel at 2 p.m. I had to wait for my husband, who was at CUNY at a meeting until 5 p.m. What to do? I randomly parked by the central park (I was at the upper west side, around the 97th street), put my youngest in the stroller and started walking. Soon we saw a playground, where the boys played for over an hour:

I had to go back to the car because they needed diapers and when we left the car I decided to walk on the opposite direction where I found ANOTHER playground even closer than the first one. This one was a great playground (Rudin), with three climbing, slides, and bridge structures, one for really small toddlers, two fenced swing areas (with baby swings and tire swings) and a beautiful sprinkler in front of a nice shaded canopy. It was heaven for them and they played for almost 2 hours there, until daddy called us saying he was ready to be picked up.

The good thing was, they had been in the car from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and then had to remain in the car until we got to Massachusetts, so these hours playing and running around were just perfect!

Then, during the week my parents were away (they went to Tennessee to visit my dad's sister's family and meet their 1 year old grand-daughter), I took the boys to the Smith memorial playground and playhouse (thanks to Marta's blog post!) on Thursday (6/15). We were there for almost 4 hours, almost 1 full hour at the giant wooden slide (which I also enjoyed! :) and the rest of the time at the playhouse. I'm SO glad I didn't take the camera with me, or else I'd never finish writing this post, since I'd want to illustrate it all with pictures...

The last one was on Saturday afternoon, when after spending over an hour at the opening day of the Morris Arboretum's Garden Railway, we went to another playground in Whitemarsh. We've been enjoying the Garden Railway for three years now, and since last year we've had a family membership, which allows the boys to see they beloved trains many times each summer. The railway deserves its own post since I have tons of pictures of it and the boys there, but - lucky you! - I will refrain from posting any today because (1) the site above has several beautiful ones and (2) I do want to finish this post today :) The brand new Cinderella Castle is really beautiful (I do plan to post my own pictures sometime, it is worth seeing in close up).

Anyway... this last playground visit wasn't as fun because Kelvin (who's almost fully potty trained - subject for another post) had an accident and his overalls were wet and dirty from the slides, but in the end I let him play for a while anyway. Meanwhile, Linton learned on his own to dangle from the slide's railing. It was the cutest thing. He held onto them, then let go of his feet, then he stopped, looked at me and exclaimed: "How neat!" ("Que legal!"). I naturally had to take tons of pics.

I just can't take playgrounds anymore and I'm glad that I won't have to go to one in a while, as I work "full time" one last month before my parents leave.

All right, only two more things. Last Sunday we drove 5 hours (2 1/2 each way) to watch Brazil's world cup game at my brother- and sister-in-law's house in Maryland (she's about to have a baby any minute now...). It was fun, though we were extremely tired and sleepy during the drive back. Then on Wednesday we went to the beach (Island Beach State Park) in New Jersey. The water was way too cold (much better in September, remember last year?), but it was fun. I guess we just keep ourselves really busy over here, don't we?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gender and Clothes - Amazing Post

I have been trying to post for many days now... I even have two posts half-written and a third started, but I just haven't been able to finish any of them... (Sigh)

I was going to bed half an hour ago when I stopped to just "check some blogs," you know, and I found an AMAZING post by Jody, over at Raising WEG. Just to give you a taste...

Have you ever wondered why girl clothes are generally flimsy and made of thin, lacy fabrics? Jody writes:
No little girl can grow to adulthood in American without learning the cardinal rules of shopping. Of course everything about girls' clothing signals the importance of buying new clothes as often as possible. The US economy might crash to a standstill, if ever girls started expecting to buy the thick cotton t-shirts over in the boys' and mens' departments. Imagine what might happen, if my daughters' Target t-shirts had held up to more than a season's worth of washings. Their drawers might be filled with two-year old t-shirts, as their brother's are -- and we certainly can't have that.
Why can't there be sensible, rugged sandals for little pre-school girls to run and play with and only flip-flops are available instead?

As I commented on her blog: "I've been having vague feelings and thoughts about these issues as I've walked through stores lately, but since I only have boys (4 and 2), I would have never really noticed about the absence of sensible sandals and the flimsiness and shortness of the [girl] clothes. You have clearly and brilliantly articulated all the key points surrounding this issue."


"As I walk through stores (without buying much because I really can't afford it), I can feel the 'siren call' of those flimsy and cute clothes, and I'm glad I resist most of the time." I also feel sure that if we had a girl, I would only afford to dress her because all her aunts and uncles and the grandparents would cover her with cute clothes (as some of you may recall, my in-laws have FOUR sons and the fourth grandson is about to be born any day now).

Anyway, some of the things Jody links to are also excellent.

All right, I'm off to bed now, though I do feel like blogging more.

P.S. I posted twice in a day this week, so I don't know if anyone saw my post about the table and chairs :)

Oh, I only saw your comment now, Alice, sorry I didn't respond (for some reason I didn't fully read the email when you posted it). I was afraid because my dining area (it's not a separate room) is very small, but I guess you're right, things are much smaller in Europe - and Brazil too - than the U.S.). The natural color crocheted table "cloth" is called a table runner in English, if I'm not mistaken. I got it in Brazil years ago and I've been literally waiting for years to use it with a decent table!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ten Years Anniversary

Ten years ago today we arrived in this country, at the JFK airport in New York, with seven pieces of luggage (thanks to the fact that we were travelling with our choir, who was coming for a month-long tour in which we participated - but that's another story) and no idea of how long we were going to stay here.

10 years, 2 master's degrees, 2 sons, 1 Ph.D. and 1 ABD (all but dissertation) later, here we are. The most unsettling part? I am still on a student visa and my hubby only has a temporary work permit visa. We have been paying taxes as residents or citizen for 4 years now. Foreigners can only pay taxes as foreigners or temporary residents for up to 6 years, then, you pay them as if you were a resident or citizen, though you do not receive most of the benefits other tax payers receive - INCLUDING TAX breaks!! We pay FULL taxes, but because we're foreigners, we don't get the tax breaks (only the one for each of the children, I think). Moreove, if that "amnesty" law for illegal immigrants passes (those who've been here for 5 years and have been paying taxes may be able to apply for residency) they'll be ahead of us who've been here for 10 years legally but cannot become residents unless one of us finds a permanent job (being a postdoc is just a temporary gig). Unnerving, huh?

Last year I didn't remember to post on the day of the anniversary, but I wrote a long post on my feelings about being an expatriate for such a long time (back then, Alice, you were still "Sophie" :) I still don't view myself as an immigrant, though right now I don't really feel much like going back to Brazil like I did last June. I guess part of the reason is the fact that my husband tried but didn't pass in the concurso to became a faculty member of an university in Brazil. While he was there and the possibility that he might pass and we might have to move struck me in full force I balked at the idea of going back. Right now I don't know what I want to happen... The feelings about my children and friendships (and my own friendships) remain the same, though I think I'm becoming more flexible and open about that too.

There's going to be no celebration here today... There's not much to celebrate, you see, we continue to live in a limbo. For how long, I wonder?

Table and Chairs

Remember that I wanted finally, after 11 and a half years of marriage, to buy a dinner table and chairs? I said that when I posted about the new floors. After we got married and lived in Brazil for 1 1/2 years we used an old dinner table and chairs from my mom, then, when we came to the U.S. back in 1996, we were given a table when we arrived and bought four folding chairs and those were what we had until now.

Well, I forgot to tell you that on May 26th, my husband's 35th birthday (mine is coming soon! :) we went to IKEA and bought the NYGÅRD table and four ARON chairs (we'll buy two more next month). After Alice's comment, I was quite disappointed in my choice and afraid to buy the Nygard table, but it did fit OK - it is pretty small after all. The only problem is that I wanted the chairs with dark blue upholstery, but those were the darker wood ones, and I really wanted the lighter wood color, so I had to settle for cream colored upholstery (I even thought of dyeing them dark blue, but I guess I won't :) . Here are a couple of pictures for you.

Promised posts and regularly scheduled programming are coming soon, please be patient with me :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lilian's Strawberry Bottom No-Bake Cheesecake

This is one of my husband's favorite desserts and it's pretty simple to prepare. I "developed" this recipe when a student at our old church asked me to prepare this dessert. I love to cook and I used to ask all the students who came to church what was their favorite dish so I could prepare them for the weekly potluck. That way I got to learn to how to cook several American dishes that I would never have cooked otherwise! I created my own version of no-bake cheesecake based on various recipes I found in the pre-made graham cracker pie crust labels. You can make your own pie-crust and use larger pans, since the pre-made ones are pretty small -- that's why I have two recipes, a small and a large one. If you don't have strawberries, you can still make it plain, like I explain at the end. I hope you enjoy the pictures too, though I did take too many of them :)

Small recipe (for a 9’’ graham cracker crust or large crust strawberry bottom)
- 8 ounces (226 g) cream cheese (can be low fat)
- ½ can sweetened condensed milk
- 8 ounces (226 g) whipped topping
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- juice of one or 2 lemons and/or limes (I like lots of juice in mine)
- (if desired, you can add sour cream and some sugar - it's one of the variations of the recipes I found in the labels)

Large (for large crust or 2 small - with no strawberry bottom, 3 small with strawberry)
- 8 oz. regular and 8 oz. low fat (if you want) [16 0z or 452 g]
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 12-16 ounces whipped topping [340-453 g] - the amount varies to adapt the size of the recipe to the crust(s) you have.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- more lemon/lime juice

Beat the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy, add the condensed milk and beat until blended -- or you can beat both together like I did this time:
(my husband held the mixer while I took the pictures :)
Add the lemon juice, and the vanilla (which I forgot on the day I was taking these pictures), beat some more, and after they’re blended, add the whipped topping and beat in low speed.
Read below if you want to do the strawberry bottom option, if not:
spread the cheesecake "batter" on the graham cracker crust and refrigerate overnight (or for at least a few hours - it's fine to prepare it in the morning for a special lunch or dinner).

Strawberry bottom:
1 qt strawberries (or less), sliced
1 container of strawberry pie glaze.
Spread pie glaze in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, line with the sliced strawberries (don't use too much or else there won't be room for the "cake" mix - in this sense it would be ideal to make your own graham cracker crust, but I'm just too lazy)
and cover with more pie glaze. Spread the cheese cake mix on top and refrigerate (I made three cakes this day). Decorate with strawberries before serving.

It is delicious even without the strawberry bottom, you can eat it with canned pie-filling cherries or thawed frozen strawberries sliced and sweetened. What I like about it most is the lemony (or limey - use whichever juice you prefer, or both) taste, since I love lemon and tangy stuff.

Would you like a slice?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

This One Was a No Brainer :)

All right, finally a quiz that worked. (I usually don't like these quizzes at all). In case you don't know yet: I am a brainy girl - aha! I saw this at ABD Mom.

You are a Brainy Girl!

Whether you're an official student or a casual learner, you enjoy hitting the books.
You know a little bit about everything, and you're always dying to know more.
For a guy to win your heart, he's got to share some of your intellectual interests.
A awesome book collection of his own doesn't hurt either!
What Kind of Girl Are You?

Coming up: No bake cheesecake recipe (I'll get to the pasta later, OK Alice?) and... the World Cup post - yay!! I'm finally getting into it now.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Breast-Feeding in the News Again! (edited)

Edited to link to a critical commentary from a blogger I respect a lot (Selkie) - at the very end.

Look at this!! Wow, just Wow!

"Breast-Feed or Else" is the title of the article published today in the New York Times. [Is it OK, BTW to use the illustration from the article? I hope so :)] It begins:
Warning: Public health officials have determined that not breast-feeding may be hazardous to your baby's health.
The writer (Roni Rabin) uses that statement to illustrate that there is no warning label like that in cans of formula of formula advertisement, but that such warnings have been proposed by at least one Senator. In Brazil these warning labels do exist and formula, bottles and pacifiers (which also have a warning label) cannot be advertised in magazines geared towards parents, if I'm not mistaken. The labels, also found in cans of powdered milk read something like this: "The Ministry of Health recommends that babies be breast-fed for the first two years of life." This doesn't mean that breastfeeding rates are high in Brazil, which they're not (I've written about it a bit here - 4th paragraph), they're actually quite low, but at least the government is doing all it can to promote breast-feeding (I just found out that there are actual medical journal articles about Brazil and breastfeeding, too bad they can't be read online).

I was delighted to see that the NYT article presents in a succint manner many of the scientific study results that indicate that breast-feeding is undoubtedly the best way to feed babies. I could go on and on about this subject, since it's one I'm absolutely passionate about, as you may recall from this post. On the other hand, I've been extremely frustrated that in the 4 years since I had my boys and became a fervent lactivist, most of my friends in/from Brazil who had babies were not able to breastfeed. I should not give up, though, since one friend tells everyone that she would have never breastfed her son for 4 months if it weren't for me. Moreover, my sister-in-law often says that I helped her a lot and now I'm delighted to see her trying to convince her own friends to stick to breastfeeding. At least the experience of my friends and relatives will probably come in handy as I continue to try to support other mothers to breastfeed.

Oh, and this reminds me that I haven't written part 2 of my breastfeeding "saga" yet. Maybe I should start a "to blog" list :)

Selkie wrote a quick post about the article - she is very right in criticizing the way they portray breastfeeding - with one example of a woman who in many years spent only one night away from her daughters (not too different from my own experience, though :). It's definitely a one-sided view of b-feeding and I'm sure it won't get people excited about it, since it's portrayed as really troublesome, but I'm still happy to have breastfeeding discussed. I guess I really only commented above at more length about the label issue and them made some comments about my personal experience with people breastfeeding. Maybe I should have been more thorough, but it was really late last night (and it is 1 am again tonight - sigh - so I'll have to stop here).

Monday, June 12, 2006

So many things, so little time

Sometimes I wonder why life is like that, why there are so many things we want to do and we are never able to acomplish all of them. In my case, I feel that I don't do even a fraction of what I want to do. Of course this is even more true of people with small children and certainly with people disorganized and "all over the place" like me. Sometimes I thing I have ADD (attention deficit disorder). Really. Of course I probably don't, since I can concentrate on many things, but when it comes to maintaining the house organized or other daily tasks then it totally looks like I have it. I can't concentrate on any given task and I never get anything done. I also am a terrible procrastinator - all of this is not good at all for writing a dissertation. Needless to say I haven't worked on it since I had the meeting with my advisor. Of course I had good excuses - first, we were all terribly sick for two weeks, then, my brother came to visit. The title statement also refers to the fact that I want to blog about so many things and never find the time to do it...

The week with my brother and sister-in-law here was nice, though it was pretty tiring for them. On Monday they walked around Philly on their own then on Tuesday we all (except my husband) went to Longwood Gardens. On Wednesday they went with my parents to Washington D.C. where they walked around until their legs hurt. On Thursday we all stayed at home and on Friday I went with them to New York City where I dropped them off at their hotel and I waited for my husband (who was at a day conference there) hanging out with the boys at two nice playgrounds in central park West. They loved it and it was a good way to get them tired to sleep all the way to southeastern Massachusetts where my in-laws now live. We had a good weekend with them, but it was raining on Saturday again. On Sunday the weather was nice and we had a good time at our friends' wedding (that's why we went to MA). We drove back after the wedding and got here at 1 am - I'm still extremely tired from that.

My parents are taking a little week-long "vacation," especially for my mom to be able to take her mind from the fact that her son is travelling to China today. They rented a car and spent the weekend with my uncle in Washington D.C. and drove to Nashville, TN yesterday. They'll be back next Monday. Meanwhile I get to spend the week with my boys while we get into World Cup watching mode. I will post about soccer/footbal and the World Cup pretty soon, OK? Now I just wanted write a short post because I haven't posted for a whole week. I'm also planning to start posting recipes and to write about my garden (I harvested the first grape tomatoes today - Kelvin ate all three of them).

P.S. My BIL decided to accept the job in Lebanon. They're only going in the end of the year, though, because of the baby that is about to be born any minute now.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Festive Weekend and Family Internationalization (Updated!)

Updated with photos

My brother and his wife arrived on Friday to visit us for a week before they head to China, where he's going to work for at least two years as a forest engineer for a Sweedish paper company. It's great to have them around and it's the first time they visit us here in the U.S. together (my brother spent 3 months with us in Massachusetts back in 1996-97, but he never visited again).

On Friday we also received some "bombastic" news, to use my brother-in-law's own expression - my BIL, the one who lives in Maryland and whose wife is expecting their second son in two or three weeks - received a phone call inviting him to go work in Lebanon!! He hasn't decided yet whether they're going or not. The decision is a really difficult one for them because he’s been working here in the U.S. for only one year (he was previously a student) and he was hoping to go abroad only in four years or so.

The multiple-birthdays party we had on Sunday was very fertile ground for all conversations about life abroad. My mother- and father-in-law just moved to the U.S. from Brazil, my brother and his wife are moving to China, my husband's maternal uncle who came by as well is moving to South Africa in a couple of months with his wife and youngest daughter, and now my BIL has a decision to make about moving to Lebanon or not. Wow. At the end of the day my mother also shared her (and my dad's) own experiences of their three years abroad in France, back when I was born (you can read some more about this in my 100 things post - part II).

I guess the most "boring" people at the party were my husband and I and my younger brother- and sister-in-law who live in Texas. We were just talking about business and (me and my SIL) about graduate school in literature -- which were nice conversations, but much less exciting than talking about going to live in China, Africa, or the Middle East!

The party itself was a lunch or "luncheon," and I cooked three kinds of pasta and me and my mom made two different vegetable dishes with zucchini and spinach. We also had fresh veggies, salad, strawberry lemonade, and guaraná Antarctica (this is the best brand of the Brazilian soft drink guaraná). I had bought a canopy or "tent" to put outside (see picture above) and we ate in the backyard since the weather was perfect, pretty cool and with no sun (only later in the afternoon). Later we came inside to sing Happy Birthday to my son Linton, my father-in-law, my husband, and my older sister-in-law and we had cake, no-bake lemony cheesecake (I'll post the recipe some time) plus tortilla chips and home made salsa (people usually love my homemade salsa :) My sister-in-law took care of the decoration again one more time, and she was brilliant as usual as you can seein the photo below.
It was a fun day. The kids (Kelvin, 4, Linton, 2, and my nephew who is 20 months) played outside a lot and had a lot of fun with Linton's presents afterwards and all adults enjoyed being together, realizing this was a very rare family reunion, given that we have no idea when all of us will be spending time together again since we're spread out all over the globe!