Friday, November 30, 2007

Leaves/ Brand New Ideas and Answers

OK, I gotta write this. I've been reading blogs and commenting for an hour and that won't get me anywhere as far as posting goes...

My arms, are extremely sore because I just spent two days blowing and vacuuming leaves and I'm still not done. Not even 1/8 of the way done vacuuming (I've blown all the leaves into piles at this point). And guess what? There's going to be sleet/rain on Sunday (insert dismayed and distressed facial expression]!!! And I won't work on it tomorrow. And... "the price" I paid for this incomplete work? The boys watched HOURS of television and/or DVDs because K was busy with his applications (he came back home only 7:30 pm last night) and I couldn't let them come outside (mostly Linton who spends all day at home with me) because of the high level of noise (I was wearing earplugs) and the cold. I felt really guilty and wondered all the while if it wouldn't really have been best to pay someone to do it since K was traveling so much in the past month. We also had to wait for all the leaves to fall, which they did shortly before and during the Thanksgiving break. The other solution would have been not going to Maryland for Thanksgiving and staying to take care of the leaves, but I wouldn't have done that for anything!!

Oh well... I really enjoy doing it, though, in spite of the horribly high "price" of electronic baby-sitting. Plus, today while I was working with the leaves I had several bright ideas!! There's nothing like physical work to get one's mind thinking away and coming up with great things!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
First, though, I have an "answer" of sorts (since it's not really a "helpful answer") for one of the questions I have been raising in this blog lately: "Where do we want to go? What would I like to do with my life?"

One quick question K sent me over gmail chat today provided the answer. He asked: "Would you like to live in 'Swiss city'?" I returned to the leaves outside and though... wow, I have an answer, something I'd known all along, but had forgotten.

If I could choose where to live, something that won't get to happen, I'd really want to be able to have the opportunity to live in Europe. Not in one particular place, but preferably in various countries/ cities. Which ones? France/French Switzerland, Italy, Spain. Oh, and I think England too.

Since that's not going to happen, this answer is moot. But it's a nice "dream" isn't it? Maybe K will apply for the post in Europe, but the likelihood of him getting it is slim. I know we could also do what my BIL and SIL are doing -- work at American schools around the world, BUT, we don't think we want to teach rich high school kids for the rest of our lives. No. Probably not even for a year. So... that possibility is out. It does feel good to at least to have an answer to the question of where I'd like to live if I could choose ;).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The "bright idea" is related to yesterday's post (thanks for all the responses, folks! Keep 'em coming!). I stayed up really really late last night reading a novel by one of the writers I'm analyzing in my dissertation. What a great book!! I hope I can blog more about it later, it made me think about my country's history, about torture and other issues. This is not what I want to share now, though.

While I was blowing leaves today I started to reflect (thinking also of an interview with Ray Bradbury that I read last night and his great book Fahrenheit 451) that books just need to be read! And I thought of my friend Cloudscome's blog and other blogs with great book reviews and dedicated to books and it dawned on my that I should start a website. The internet is making the world such a small place, putting information right at people's fingertips and I think it's pathetic that we academic researchers, particularly in literature, are not doing enough to promote the things we love and work with. This site wouldn't be a blog, though I could begin with as one, I envision a site about Brazilian books in English and, subsequently, in many other languages. Later (after a book deal was secured in Brazil at least) I'd publish in it all the data that I collected in my dissertation, all the statistics and lists, so it could be a resource for anyone in the world interested in Brazilian literature. It would be geared towards both the general public and academics and provide a comprehensive list of the books available in English (in print or not -- those can be easily obtainable in libraries) and other languages.

OK, I'll admit that this idea is not new. My advisor told me years ago that I should transform the information from my research into a website, but I had never really considered this. At the time I thought "Oh, but this is my work and why should I share it freely with people?" Well, now I know why, because books need to be read and in today's "small world" only the popular, best selling books are being read. Why not use the internet to try and disseminate little known books? I feel like getting the domain name right now, but I know I need to finish the dissertation first. Darn.

What do you think?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Well, this is the end of "NaBloPoMo," but not the end of posting more often. I don't promise to do it everyday, but I did enjoy posting daily and I want to continue doing it as much as I can.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Lost: Translation" into English -- A Question For You, Please Respond!!

Last night I was doing my weekly (sometimes bimonthly) check to my university email account (there were 30 pages of spam to clean up) and I found a link to a great article from The Guardian in the U.K. in one of my academic listservs. It is titled "Lost: Translation" and discusses the fact that less and less translations into English are published while the opposite happens around the world: countless books written in English are translated to every single language. One of the scariest statistics cited in the article was: "Ninety-six per cent of the world's languages are spoken by just four per cent of the world's population." It was also the first time I heard the expression "eco-linguist," referring to David Crystal (whose work is really fascinating). Another thing that surprised me was the fact that many writers from other countries are actually moving to anglophone countries and learning English so they can write in this language and have more readers. Wow!

Anyway, this issue is actually one of the subjects of my dissertation (I really want to blog more about it, but I'll wait a bit more until after the defense, etc) and I decided to do an informal survey with my blog readers since I know most of you are voracious readers (I'm looking particularly at you chicagomama :).

QUESTION: In the past year or couple of years, how many books which were originally published in another language and later translated into English have you read, if any?

Thanks, I'll be delighted if you chime in. Do mention the name of the book if you can, and more or less how many books have you read in the period as opposed to translated books (like e.g. "I read around 100 books and only 1 was translated into English")

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A White Tall House in PHL

(photo substituted by another without visible license plate)

I think Linton has "caught" some of our discontent and this makes me really sad.

Last week I was coming out of a store with him (I'd been shopping for things for K to bring to Brazil) when I had a sudden thought that there was a slim possibility that we might be moving back there, so I asked Linton:

"Would you like to go back to Brazil?"

"No," he replied, and then came the big surprise, "I'd like to go back Philadelphia."


"Yes, I want to go to that white*house in Philadelphia."

"Hmmm, really? We don't live there anymore, we have a new house here."

"But I want to go back to that house."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This morning we dropped off Kelvin and as I pulled into our driveway he said:

"This is not our house. I want to go to that white tall house in Philadelphia."
(Essa não é a nossa casa. Eu quero ir praquela casa branca alta na Philadelphia.)

"But this is our new house, Linton"

"No, this is an old house."
(I guess he's heard me repeating to people, like the guests last night that the house is old and complaining about the work that needs to be done. Interestingly enough, K's aunt's first words to me were "You guys live in a mansion" and for Brazilian standards it's almost like that, yes)

His desire to go back to our previous house just breaks my heart. How can a three year old be saying things like these? How can he remember the house so clearly? It's no really white, but it is " tall" in the sense that it's a two story twin, taller than our multi-level, spread out home. It's not in Philadelphia proper either, but only a few miles from the city.

He makes me feel guilty for uprooting him from the only house he's known since he was born (he was two months old when we moved in). It seems that Kelvin is much more resilient and welcomes change more easily, but I guess his reaction must be just a side effect of the events that have taken place lately and our own feelings about the place. When we talk about moving Kelvin gets really excited ("Yes, let's go live in an apartment, that would be so fun!") and I didn't think Linton had any "thoughts" or feelings about this. When we moved I kept emphasizing how nice the new house was, etc, but now he feels like it's not his house. Oh well. I kind of feel the same in the end. It's almost worse than that week in which we were truly "homeless." We have it, but we don't. "It's temporary," I said to K's aunt last night, "we don't really live in a 'mansion'!"

P.S. The boys are thrilled with daddy's return and so am I. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Guests Are Here, Gotta Be Quick

K is going to arrive tomorrow and find a spotless house (except for our bedroom and the study's big desk, that is :). I'll tell him that he should ask his mom to always come visit the day before his arrival if he wants this to happen again! :)

Even the garage and the basement are almost decent! The only thing I wasn't (and wouldn't have been) able to accomplish was cleaning the yard since .75 acre of leaves are lots of trouble. Tomorrow I'm going to buy a blower/vac to help me get the job done (today I went to the store just to realize I'd forgotten my wallet home...).

It was the shortest visit ever, though -- they got here at 5 pm and leave at 2:30 am for JFK airport. I have to put the boys to bed, they keep asking their grandpa to play with them even though they're pretty tired. Linton spent the whole day pestering me with the question: "Are the guests (as visitas) here yet?" I should let you know, though, that one of the main reasons they came spend this half night here (other than JFK being an hour or so closer from here than from their home in Southeastern MA) is this store. My MIL is crazy about it and there's a brand new one a few miles from our home. ;)

See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Recapturing "The Post That Wasn't"

Phew! I've been back online since 2 p.m. and eagerly reading blogs. It's good to be back ;) Now, on to the post...

As I was driving home on Saturday night (we left MD at 2:30 back to Philly where I dropped off K at the airport and then proceeded to a baby shower from which I left almost at 10 p.m.) and getting near our new region and neighborhood (which we love, BTW, but I don't think I'll get to blog about that, it'll be too painful) I started to feel unbearably sad. I was fine when we left, but being away for a few days and then driving back is like rubbing the wound and making it raw again. I also realized that the fact that I was by myself with the boys was part of the reason for feeling that way.

We got the "Very Bad News" on Oct. 31st and the next day I flew to Brazil. I returned on Sunday and that afternoon K flew to London. I got to spend the first ten days of grieving here, in this house, by myself with the boys. When he returned things got easier. We didn't talk too much about our feelings, we were dealing with practical things. I was sending out applications, he was figuring out new job possibilities. We were just "surviving," concentrating on the boys. I wasn't well, though. After I sent out the applications I just fell into a kind of stupor. I think I was/am mildly depressed. I am usually not very good (OK, make that pretty bad) at housekeeping, I'm a messy person and don't usually like to organize the house and although I'm a good cook, I'm usually lazy and don't prepare a full meal everyday. These past weeks I was terrible, though. I had no energy, no motivation to do anything. I just wanted to sleep in every morning (poor Linton, he gets so irritated at me, he keeps telling me "it's already day, it's not night anymore!!") and then be online a lot. I didn't even do any grocery shopping (that in itself is a subject for another discussion). K was quite upset at me and talked sternly to me about it.

Interestingly enough, I have been doing quite a bit now that I'm alone. Things that K didn't get to do (like starting to clean up the garage and unpack the toys in the basement and raking the leaves). Of course I have an extra motivation: I need to clean the house because my mother- & father-in-law are coming tomorrow with her sister & husband (they were supposed to be here tonight, but didn't make it), but still, I feel energized.

I know, it's strange -- at the same time that I feel that rawness returning I find all this energy that just wasn't here last week. I think I also did pretty OK in the 10 days while K was in England. Well... I wanted to continue in the "reflective" vein, but I just can't keep on going. I feel quite empty, and sad. Ups and downs, I know it's supposed to be that way.

You know what the hardest part of this whole "story" is?

We really don't know what we want to do with our lives.

We don't know where we want to live, whether we'd like to go back to Brazil (probably not, but at the same time we miss it), or where we'd like to live in the U.S. Sometimes we think about the different places where we're applying for jobs and I'm OK with several of them, but if I was asked to pick a place I really wouldn't know where to go.

I think we just don't want to have to decide. We want to be taken by the circumstances -- that's how it's been until now in our lives. (Of course there's a whole dimension of faith in our trajectory that I won't go into). Things have worked out really well. It's been a balance between circumstances and decisions and up until now we felt that everything had been working for the best. And I know that even this will be OK in the long run. It's just hard to be excited about the prospects since there are so many issues, so many questions involved. Yeah, I know you'd just run for shelter and quit reading if I were to explore every aspect of it, particularly the nuances of living as an expatriate, not quite knowing whether you should stay or go. Knowing full well that now you don't really fit in anywhere now. Yeah, like my friend Alice (no longer blogging, sniff, sniff :( ) used to say -- welcome to the "third culture kid" kind of life/mindset. It's hard to "become" (is there such a thing? there should be a new term for me) a TCK between ages 25-35, that I can tell! OK, enough for today.

P.S. the boys are sleeping in a tent in the living room. We set up three tents this afternoon for them to play. Fun. Maybe I'll post photos later. Kelvin's coughing, though :) Oh, after not really eating any proper food all day long (eating well -- another problem for skinny me in this juncture) I cooked some yummy soup tonight. Tomorrow will be a better day (make that a mantra).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I'm glad you enjoyed the Thanksgiving photos, but I wanted to let you know that I didn't decorate the table and counter -- my sister-in-law did. She does a wonderful job decorating tables, decorating for children's parties, etc. I've already posted about this before (kid's parties here - seven post with many photos -- some of which are my own decorations ;).

I did make the cranberry bread, though, and the crust-less squash maple 'pie,' cranberry sauce from scratch, helped prepared the other dishes and did put all the food on the table. :)

But I don't want to take credit for the "beautiful and bountiful" decorations. O, mine would be just cluttered too, believe me! ;)

NaBloPoMo Forcibly Disrupted -- No Internet Connection

I arrived home at 11 pm last night, with the post already planned in my mind. I was going to leave the boys sleeping in the car (in the garage which is right next to our study) for a bit so I could post and there was so much I wanted to say... but it never happened since the internet (and the TV cable) was down. :(

The worse part was the realization that I wouldn't be able to know whether K arrived safely in Brazil and talk to my mother since I hadn't called her since Wednesday. The thing is, we have VOIP for our telephone line (with a plan in which we can place unlimited calls to Brazil and 25 other countries), so when there's no internet, there's no regular phone. Thankfully I at least have the cell phone, but no phone card I could call Brazil and I wasn't going to call anyone at 11:30 p.m. just to ask them to email my mom and tell her I was incommunicable.

Since the boys were still in the car a wild thought came to my mind so I wouldn't miss my NaBloPoMo post -- drive around with the laptop until I could find a wireless connection, but I thought that was just too much. I'm a blogging addict, true, but I really wouldn't do that in such a cold night!

Today was a more productive day without email and blogs, but I felt strange and disconnected from the world all day long. Too bad I have to be quick now because the boys have to sleep and I'm at a friend's house half an hour away from home and I still need to check email.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In case you're wondering, K arrived safely in Brazil. I called my brother-in-law first thing in the morning (like 8:40 -- good thing they have my young nephews and were up) so he could email my mom and our friends in Brazil to let them know I was off-line and phone-less (my mom did call and left an anxious message, poor thing). They called back a few minutes later to relay that my mom had heard from K and that he was already on his way to our friends' house.

Then, thanks to Skype and speaker phones, I was able to talk to K for a few minutes. He called his brother on Skype and he in turn called me on his cell phone and put it on the speaker phone so we could talk and it worked. Phew! (a "public" conversation, but better than nothing).

Anyway... some good news! One of my committee members read my first three chapters over the weekend and she LIKED them! YAY! I'm getting closer to finishing this dissertation, what a relief.

OK, gotta go, the "cable guy" is coming tomorrow, so I hope to be online in the afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Now I'm off to send email. If I think of anything else to say I'll write another post to make up for yesterday's.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Photos

We had a lovely holiday with lots of delicious food, so I decided to share some photos of the table and the decorations that my sister-in-law prepared.

This is a close up of my triple cranberry bread
(this one is actually "double" since I forgot to bring the craisins)

I don't know what time I'll be able to post tomorrow, it'll be a really hectic day, but I'll find a way. Enjoy the rest of the holiday!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Remembering Thanksgivings Past

Several people are blogging about how much they love Thanksgiving and I agree with them that it's a great holiday, particularly because it has no religious and consumerist undertones (well, except for Black Friday -- yuck! I can't wait for the day when I won't need to go buy stuff because I need to get them for cheap). You may have noticed that we don't do Haloween and Easter and I know we shouldn't really do Christmas either if we were to be completely coherent, but I love exchanging presents (more on that some other time). Thanksgiving, however, the quintessential American holiday, was a celebration that we had to be taught about and grow into. It was not until we had the privilege of spending the day with a "typical" American family (New Englanders) for several generations, in 1999 that we finally "got it."

In 1996 when we had been here only a few months, K's uncle came with his family to share the Thanksgiving dinner with us, but I really had no idea what the holiday was about and how it's traditionally celebrated. The community college where K was an ESL (English as a Second Language) student organized a nice dinner for the students with Turkey (which we as vegetarians didn't eat) and all the "fixins," but we didn't like the food much.

In 1997 we went to a Brazilian friend's house and in 1998 we were home alone, just the two of us (I think that was when the sad story that I shared last year took place) . Then, in 1999 we were invited to go to our friend's house and celebrate with her, her husband and two sons, and her extended family: her parents, sisters and their children. We were delighted that their opened their home to us and the food was positively delicious -- I've been making the yams with pecan praline that she prepared every year since (recipe here!). At some point during the day they started watching old videos of old Thanksgiving celebrations that took place in the New Jersey home in which my friend grew up and which had parents had sold years earlier. The children present were babies/toddlers then and it was fun to watch them so much younger. It was just lovely! We not only learned from them how a proper Thanksgiving meal should be, but also caught the whole "spirit" of being together with family that is at the center of this holiday. We were supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving with them again in 2000, but she had to cancel at the last minute and we went to one of K's professor's house instead -- that's why we became homeowners in 2001, but that's another story.

In 2002 we started a "trend" that would last for three years -- driving all the way from Massachusetts to Michigan (with a baby in tow and later two) to spend Thanksgiving with my brother- and sister-in-law. It was a grueling trip, 14-16 hours long each way, but it was lovely to spend time with them in frigid Michigan, besides by then we knew that this is what the holiday was all about, being with your loved ones. The worst of the three trips was in 2003 when Kelvin was a 20 month old toddler who wanted to walk all the time. In 2004 we had the two of them (Linton was 6 months old) and we did half of the trip during night hours so they could sleep -- exhausting! We cherished those times of family togetherness, though and the last year, 2004, was the must fun because we got to meet my 2 month old nephew for the first time and enjoy our two babies (Linton and his cousin are only 4 months apart).

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house in the past two years since BIL and his family moved here to Maryland, only 2h30m away. In 2005 it was a "mega-celebration." My parents were living with us, my mother-in-law was visiting from Brazil, one of K's cousins drove from D.C. with his dad (also visiting from Brazil) and a longtime friend, and we invited my MIL's brother to come down from New Jersey with his family (three daughters and a boyfriend). It was great! Everyone loved the food, particularly a galon of apple cider that I didn't realize was spoiled until later (it was fermented -- the funniest thing is that nobody in the group drinks alcohol and we were joking with those who enjoyed the "hard" cider the most) and the triple cranberry bread that I made (I baked one last night). We also took several lovely photos of my MIL with her three grandsons, but the highlight of the day was poring over all the adds for Black Friday. There was so much competition that each man bought his own newspaper to have his own ads.
It was hilarious to see the gang (all the guys, including my dad plus my mother-in-law) getting ready to spend the horribly cold night "camping out" outside electronics store (that they don't do anymore :) -- they only made it because they were in a large group and were talking all night long while trying not to freeze. Their return home for breakfast was also very interesing, all those bleary eyes and tousled "hat hairs" comparing the bargains and drinking hot chocolate -- I laughed a lot.

Last year it was just us, my in-laws (who moved to the U.S. on May 06) and my brother-in-law and his family -- with the addition of my new nephew, 4 months old. There was still some (disappointing) shopping on Friday (BIL didn't participate because they drove back home on Thursday) and then we drove to Massachusetts to visit my in-laws for a few days while K went to Brazil in one of his several excursions back in Oct/Nov last year.

This year we have downsized even more, it's just the two brothers and their families. The boys are enjoying their time together and my SIL and I are busy and happy in the kitchen since we love to cook and we do it identical ways so we get along extremely well. OK, gotta go help her and finish my cooking projects for the day (these two recipes) while the boys are in the playrgrounds with their dads.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you enjoyed 'hearing' my stories. If you want to hear the funniest turkey blooper story ever, head over to Susan's place. :)

P.S. I'll come back later to include photos in this post since I'm using my SIL's computer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The The Daring Book for Girls - Mother Talk Blog Book Tour

As I've posted in this blog before, I was really looking forward to this book since I read and reviewed the "original" The Dangerous Book for Boys months ago. Interestingly enough, in spite of the emphasis on gender of much of The Daring Book for Girls, I felt, like I did about its predecessor, that both boys and girls can enjoy most everything in these books.

Now, the part that really caught my attention the most was the lemon powered radio. Wow! I want to try to do that now (of course today it'll be hard since it's the day before the biggest holiday in this country, but I did tease my husband, who is a scientist that he should have known about this and done it before!). I really want to know if it works, not that I doubt it will, but it just sounds so amazing. I bet the boys will be crazy about it.

Let's see what else... I thought the comprehensive lists and historical parts about women in World and American history were great and I was fascinated by the songs, be them for fireside, hopscotch, hand games. I just felt sad that I won't be able to sing most of them unless I find a music part somewhere because I come from a different culture (that's why I was enthralled by those in the first place) and didn't grow up with any of this stuff. (I know this is not a music book, so it couldn't have the melody and chords there, but... I still wish it did).

Now, I think my blog readers don't know this, but in Brazil you can do specialized courses in high school (it's changed to resemble more American high schools, but it used to be that you could do Teaching [for elementary grades only], accounting, nursing, and some other tracks), and I chose, believe it or not, science -- a course with a heavy concentration in chemistry, physics, biology, plus all the other subjects (history, geography, language, literature -- we have each one of the subjects I mentioned all year long for three years). Therefore, I thought it was great that the writers chose to expose girls to the Table of Elements and some basic chemistry and physics -- with mention of various women scientists. I often wonder what can be done to bring more women into scientific study and maybe we have to start early and dispel the myth that these are "boy" areas.

I'm sure there's much more that I could say, but I want to conclude with the remark that I loved the illustrations, Alexis Seabrook did such a beautiful job. Do check out her website to see her portfolio, she's just a great artist.

Oh yeah, and last, but not least, I have to say that this book is WAY more beautiful than the other one -- I don't really like red, but I adore turquoise/aqua. :) At another time I want to write about the translation of the "boy book" into Portuguese and I can't wait to see this book translated and adapted as well!

P.S. This reviews is part of a MotherTalk blog book tour and I received a free copy of the book to review it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Remembering the Picnic

As the days get colder and colder, in addition to rainy, cloudy and wet, I keep on thinking of an afternoon not too long ago (Oct. 21) in which we had a picnic in the backyard. The same one whose pictures brought tears to my eyes when I wrote this post. Since then I've made a collage using Picasa (photo management downloadable software that is connected to G00gle) to share with you some highlights of that day.Then I did another collage, this time for my mom (I already printed it in photo paper and it came out beautiful, K is going to Brazil this weekend and he'll bring it to her with some other photos). I wish I had prepared it in time to post it on her birthday, Oct. 28, but these are her favorite flowers:
I'm always looking for things (greeting cards, stationery, magnets, shopping lists, etc.) with pansies (or violas) in them so I can buy them for my mom. I love giving her these small gifts.

Tomorrow I'll be back with my Mother Talk sponsored review of this book. In case you've heard about Mother Talk, I'd like to link to two posts (and the lengthy discussion that ensued in the comment section) by Jody about the subject. Food for thought, whether one agrees with her or not: 1) on the Dangerous Boys and Daring Girls books & MT; 2) More about MT (the comments in this one are very interesting). So, I'll be back tomorrow with that review and, if time permits, some more stuff. (or, alternately, I'll be back tonight with more stuff, we'll see).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Three Meaningful Years

I missed posting on my "blogging anniversary"(or blogiversary as some folks say) again this year. On November 14, 2004 I posted a picture of myself and my youngest son and started this blog. I guess the picture can be seen as "symbolic" because the son and the blog came to existence in the same year only five and a half months apart.

I'll try to think a bit about these past three years, but in case I come up short, I want to offer you this post which sums up what blogging has come to mean in my life.

In the past year since I wrote that I met five other bloggers in person (Laura, Lauren, Jeannette, Anjali, and OK, one of them, O, hadn't started blogging yet, but I did get to meet her right before that :)

OK, how my life changed in the past three years.

1) I have become hopelessly addicted to blogging and blog reading. I do limit my reading as much as possible and I have to admit (and apologize to those involved) that I haven't even been able to keep up with the blogs in my blogroll (which needs some updating as well). The problem with me and blog reading is that I need to interact with people, so I have to comment almost every post I read and that takes time, so sometimes I'm not able to read.

2) As the post I linked to in the second paragraph above attests, I have become a happier person since I started blogging. (here's a happy photo for you -- I'd love to put it in my profile [I used it for facebook -- let me know if you're there so we can be friends'], but I still don't have the courage to do it. I don't mind posting photos, though).

3) I think I may have improved my writing a bit, but not much. As you've probably noticed, NaBloPoMo is a breeze for me because I'm a blabbermouth, I have so much to say! And I've been so "boringly" chronicling my days that I even forgot to celebrate my "blog anniversary."

4) Most of all, meeting all of you has enriched my life beyond measure.

Thanks for being there for me and thanks for sharing your lives too, since they have touched mine!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Obviously... I Had Misplaced It/ About Showers

Well, it was a waste of energy to have felt even slightly stressed out about it, but I had absentmindedly misplaced my wallet and left it inside one of the children's bags at church (these are canvas bags in which we've placed books, crayons, a coloring book and other small items to keep the kids entertained). Those are kept inside a locked closet (I had put them away, actually), so the wallet was safe, but most certainly "lost" until we found it this evening during the baby shower.

Everyone had fun at that event, BTW. I apologize for the lack of modesty, but I can organize "killer" showers (wedding showers too). I like them co-ed (can't stand all women things, never ever have*), with a few silly games (not too many) and preferably some nice heart-to-heart type of advice and questions. My mom was the "master" of such showers and I attended several growing up and really enjoyed them. Those were "brainy" ones too, with techniques my mom "borrowed" from her classroom (she was a GREAT teacher) to make everyone participate and interact with the parents-to-be or bride and groom and not only learn more about each other and the event that was going to take place, but also have fun in the process.

Of course it's very hard to have the kind of interactions I enjoy with a bunch of loud Brazilians and their kids, so we had a bit more of the "silly games" that I would have liked. The men had fun, though, so that already qualifies it as a success I guess. There was plenty of food and a yummy (Brazilian, very tasty and moist) cake. Oh, I didn't really like the baby-food tasting game from my own shower, but I organized one with THIRTEEN different foods (distributed into fifteen large paper plates) and a printed list for them to fill out.
As usual it was fun to see the faces people made when tasting the food. It was also hilarious to see the three guys who were dressed in "diapers" made of toilet paper (I don't think I'll post a photo of that, though :).

*I should try to think about this some time, but I guess I was all for "all girls" until I graduated high school (during which time I didn't have a boyfriend and hung out with my best three girl-friends all the time until senior year when two of them started dating) and it all changed after I met K and we started dating. During all those years we were always hanging out with a "co-ed" group and I figured out I wasn't interested in the girls-only conversations. I never much cared for fashion, shopping and other typical subjects and preferred instead to participate in geeky and philosophical conversations. OK, more on that some other time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Checkout Lane is The Worst Place to Find Out...

... that you have lost your wallet/pocketbook.*

Yeah... worse yet if you're buying train toys for yous sons, trains they've been requesting for a few days (as a self-requested reward for improved potty behavior, more on that another time) and which they weren't able to buy with Daddy last night since they couldn't find it at another store. Toy trains and diapers (OK, we're not out of diapers yet, but still ;).

So, this scenario happened to me tonight and I still don't know where the wallet is (it was supposed to be in my bag, oh, and K had forgotten his at home -- perfect, huh?). I lost it in church this morning (we rent the building), but didn't find out until many hours later (at around 8:30 p.m.) in that checkout lane. :( Hopefully it'll be found tomorrow (we have already called the people in charge of the building).

On other news, Linton is well, but now Kelvin is getting really croupy too. Poor thing. He was even running a temperature this evening. I hope he doesn't get much worse until Monday because I don't want to have to go to the emergency room if his breathing gets really bad and he needs steroids like his brother. Yeah, fun times. And tomorrow we have a baby-shower to attend and I'm in charge of the games. K is not very amused, of course (he can't stand baby-showers). Oh well. I apologize for another boring old "unfortunate events" post...

*what's the difference between these two? I never know which one to use for the imitation leather thing where I carry money, cards, etc.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Love Them Because of Monet

... and of course because they're beautiful
For some reason (perhaps my love of the color green) I was absolutely fascinated by this flower:
and its twin
and kept taking photos
All these photos were taken at Longwood Gardens last October. Their water-lily garden is usually closed at the end of September, but this year the weather was so warm that it remained open all of October, and (just one of the pools) into November.

P.S. Thanks for all your suggestions and support re. my application, etc. I feel terrible for complaining so much on this blog and turning NaBloPoMo into a series of "downer" posts. I'm hesitant now to launch into my "issues" post series since I'm afraid that imposing "cheap therapy" posts on my readers, posts in which I discuss certain things I'm not too happy about (when all of you know that I am generally a happy person) will just, I don't know, bore and/or bother you. Well, let me know if you'd want to hear my musings about body, hair, writing, and other things...

On the other hand I'll always have beautiful photos to share and I have old family photos as well as some curiosities to post too, so it might now be too bad. ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Degrees of (un)happiness

First, if you missed the previous post, there are some good news there, so check it out.

So K tells me that he feels much better now that he has a job and is no longer unemployed. He realized today that being jobless is one of the worse things that can happen a person and makes one feel ashamed and devalued. Even if it isn't the person's fault, it's hard not to think that there's something wrong with oneself. He's really excited about the projects he's going to be working on in the new temporary job and I'm happy for him.

As for myself, I wish I could be happier, but I'm just in a funk today, the high of working on the applications is gone and has been replaced by unease and anxiety. I want to apply to a few other posts, but I know my advisor is not happy to mail many recommendation letters. This is such a small detail, but you have no idea how crushed and discouraged I feel just because of this little thing (I wish I wasn't so sensitive, I wish I could be more assertive). Last year he told me I should set up a dossier with the graduate school for the applications, but I argued that I was only applying for a few positions and that my other two referees had no problem mailing the letters and, in the case of one of them, writing tailored letters for each position.

One of the first things I did when I learned on that surreal day that K had lost his job was emailing my committee members/referees. My advisor came forward with the same (insensitive) response -- set up a dossier. Doing so would make the whole process much slower and troublesome since I'd have to have to open a file with the career services, he (and the other referees if they chose to) would have to submit his/their letters and then I'd have to request the center in writing to send my dossier to the schools I'm applying to. If I were on campus, that wouldn't really be a big deal because I could just go there and fill a form, but the way it is now, it'd be quite hard. Besides, after 10 dossiers sent, I'd have to start paying for them to be sent. I almost sent him a nasty email, but in the end, after almost a week (in which I didn't go ahead and decided which schools to apply because I was so upset) I emailed him that setting up a dossier would just delay everything and that it wasn't my fault that I learned on October 31st that I'd need to apply, but that I'd be applying to very few places, most likely only three. He said OK, that a few letters would be OK.

So... now, I want to apply to some other places, even though the deadlines have passed, but I feel reluctant to ask him. Isn't it just AWFUL that he has to make me feel this way in such a bad moment of my life? And, heck, shouldn't I be applying to every single position under the sun just because we need to explore all the options? It makes me so angry that he just can't print out and sign a letter and put it in an envelope so the secretary will mail it for him? And why don't I just email him and say all this? The problem is that I did last year and his response was that I have to take them (the referees) into consideration. I could go find that email, but I won't, it will just make me more upset. What kind of an advisor is that? One that won't give the needed support to his/her student at the moment he/she needs it the most!!??

I mailed the remaining two applications today, but I feel discouraged to print and mail two more since I'd have to ask for recommendation letters again.

In addition to this situation and the fact that I need to finish the dissertation there are the many other things that make me sad & worried about this whole situation and the likelihood that we'll have to sell this house and move (probably at least twice -- yeah Anjali, I'll think of you!):

- The money we'll have to spend to renovate the house if we want to sell it and what we may lose in the process. (we may also make some, but I feel anxious about it)
- The hassle of renovation without enjoying the results.
- Probably not being able to join an organic CSA farm next spring :(
- Having to penny-pinch really really hard. I'm already used to living frugally, but I was thinking we'd slowly start to have a break.
- NOT KNOWING what will happen, where we'll go.

(I'm sure I'll add more to this list in the weeks/months to come -- I apologize for being so whiny.)

On the other hand, I've been feeling completely at peace with what happened, really. And with the fact that we're going to remain on our temporary vis@s and not apply for r&sidency just yet. It's just "more of the same" we've had for the past eleven years, I'm using to the temporariness of our situation.

"One step at a time" will have to be our new mantra.

Responding to the comments to the previous post:
Prisca, Linton is much better, thanks for asking. Today we gave him the last teaspoon of the steroid and his breathing has almost normalized and the coughing is OK. Kelvin has a runny nose, but that's fine because he's really easy and non-maintenance when sick. (He's hard to deal with in other aspects though, sigh).
And, Anjali, we haven't ever had childcare for any of the boys because we couldn't afford it, that's why my parents came to live with us for so many months at a time. I don't think we'll be able to afford it now, particularly because Kelvin is going to a private school. It may also be good for my parents to come visit earlier than expected so they can be distracted and distanced from their own woes.

Plan B is in Place...

... now on to the next steps, and plans C, D, E, F, etc.

K has secured a temporary job offer today for another postdoc at the same university as his previous one (which by now most of you must have figured out). It's not going to be easy for him or for us, particularly because of the long commute and the long hours he'll have to put in to produce results and such, since he'll be there only for around six months, but at least it's something to help ease the transition. Now we have to hope that one of us gets an academic job, or, maybe he gets another industry job (although he's not too keen on that now) so we can know where we're going to be by March or April.

The next urgent thing will be working on this house to prepare it for sale since we cannot possibly keep it unless K has another industry job nearby, which is not very likely. Any other job won't allow us to afford the mortgage payment (unless I also had a good paying job which at this point is very uncertain and unclear). Good thing K will have a month or so to work on the house before he starts (probably in February) since he's supposed to receive his notice in December. Now... how am I going to work on the dissertation with home renovations and K in a "new" job remains to be seen. Maybe we'll have to resort do my parents one last time... unless I become super woman and quit procrastinating and get right to work. um, yeah.

Well, step by step we'll get out of this rut! (and I have to get out of my personal rut -- the dissertation!)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

First One Down, At a Price

In case you're wondering (because or yesterday's post), we had a good night, considering the circumstances. Linton was falling asleep at the dinner table and went to bed before Kelvin did. He did wake up crying and with trouble to breathe at 5 a.m. We both got up, cranked up the vaporizer (it needed salt in the water) and I sat/laid in bed propped up by some pillows with him on my chest so he could fall asleep. Then, we both slept until 7:45 (he was already sleeping on a mattress on the the guest bedroom's floor).

~~~~ ~~~~
This afternoon, just as the post office was closing, I mailed my first application even though all three are due tomorrow.

It was a "costly" process. K stayed home in the morning to watch Linton, but had to leave for an unexpected "farewell" lunch with his soon to be former co-workers and didn't come back home until 6 pm, so working on the application materials cost:

- 2 1/2 hours of TV/DVD for Linton, who usually watches only 1h maximum everyday (remember he was also sick and more unwilling to play by himself)

One of the applications needed to be there tomorrow "to receive full consideration," so I mailed it express. Cost:

- over 16 dollars.

Problem is... it probably won't get there tomorrow!! It's guaranteed for noon in 2 days. Why do they even call it express? Why do I pay all that money? I felt like driving the 5+ hours round trip to capital city to drop it off by hand, but with gas prices this high it would be mush costlier :(
(I know I should have Fedexed it, but with two kids in tow, not knowing where the closest fedex place is -- oh, I think I know! too late, though -- I just mailed it).

~~~~~ ~~~~

After I announced that I'd be on the academic market again this year some of you, particularly Articulate Dad, expressed the concern that I might be doing it just out a sense of obligation to apply. He wrote:
The first question to ask (about these or any posts) is "would I want it?" If that answer is no, or not really, go no further. If yes, then you've got to answer whether you believe you've got what they need.
Yes, I think I'd want these posts and, for the most part, I've got what they need, that's why I decided to go ahead and apply. The postings were quite broad and I have some the qualifications they're looking for. I thought I'd give it a try, you know... The worse that could happen is getting a few rejection letters in the mail, but I've become used to those. A.D. also said:
But if your heart is not in it, just let go of it.
And I agree with him on this one too and although I cannot say that my heart is fully in it, I have to tell you that just working on the cover letters, updating my CV made me feel energized, like I was finally doing something useful! I felt good about my qualifications and it was gratifying to tailor each letter to match my qualifications to the job postings. All in all, I think that maybe I need a job to make my life more meaningful and purposeful (whether I feel this way after I do have the job, RocketMom, remains to be seen :). I think it would make a lot of sense to have an academic job, in spite of the fact that at times I feel so much angst about academia. Now... I don't feel that happy about the one liberal arts school in my list because I think my forte is research and not teaching, but I probably won't get far on that one (I don't have one key qualification, being able to teach Spanish, but decided to apply anyway).

All right, wish me luck. I'm excited I'm doing this, it wasn't painful to send out my stuff like it was last year. Maybe I'm slowly healing. Perhaps after I finish the dissertation I'll feel even more confident and fulfilled. That would be unbelievable for me, more than a dream come true, because I've felt so apprehensive that I'll feel annihilated when it's all said and done. Maybe there's hope. Oh, and working on the applications also makes me feel like working on the dissertation, isn't that grand? Too bad I'm here blogging instead ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Various Updates ( Including Brazilian Burglary Story) & Tiring Day

D= day
U= update

D: We all have been sick and coughing, but today Linton got worse. He started "wheezing" in the morning and had trouble breathing.

U: My parents' situation is slowly getting sorted out. The family of the deceased man is not suing and their attorney, who's a young man, the son of one of Gilberto's former clients, only wants to negotiate an indemnity to help the family.

D: I scheduled a sick visit at our new pediatrician's office. The 1 p.m. time meant that the day was ruined since I couldn't really accomplish much with a doctor's visit right in the middle of the day.

U: My parents are retired, but they have many benefits provided by their former employer (a religious organization), including health, car, home, and other insurances. They found out that this insurance will pay for the compensation that is negotiated between the attorneys. Isn't that great?

D: I ended up waiting for ONE HOUR at the doctor's office (20 minutes of the delay was caused by my inability to hand back the forms I was filling out right away) and Linton was hungry and having more and more trouble breathing -- how fun!

U: My aunt and uncle who are pictured here just suffered a spectacular burglary in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. One of their "adopted" granddaughters who lives here in the U.S. gave them a brand new fancy refrigerator and a plasma TV for their 50th wedding anniversary (see link above). They came back home from a weekend away and found the house had been broken into and not only the fridge and the plasma TV, but many other items had been stolen. The thieves came in through the back wall (very high, but with a ceiling from the attached laundry and barbecue rooms at the back) and probably brought in a truck (opening the two gates with the remote control found inside the house) to carry their loot. Unbelievable!

D: Linton did not have an asthma attack, his lungs are clear. The doctor said that from the sound of his cough it's probably croup and gave us a prescription for a steroid that is to be taken for three days. We finally left 1h30 after getting there and we were almost late for picking up Kelvin in school. Oh, I forgot to mention that I had to pick him up because K had gone to Philly to meet with the im*migration attorneys.

U: Because of the burglary my aunt and uncle, who are absolutely traumatized, don't ever want to leave their house unoccupied again, so my parents had to travel to Curitiba to house-sit for them. It's good distraction, but at the same time my dad probably needs psychological counseling or even anti-depressants to feel better about his personal tragedy.

D: While the boys watched their alloted two PBS shows Linton got worse and worse and started crying. I called the pharmacy, but since it's a new prescription and new pharmacy to us, we had to go there in person :( I had to spend some 20 minutes telling the boys that no, they couldn't have that gum, or those crackers, or those silly Christmas things... I gave Linton the steroid then and there (around 4:30 p.m.) knowing full well that we may be up all night with an Energizer Bunny boy... Oh well, if he can feel better, that's all that matters.

U: I'll write more posts about this later, but it looks like we're not going to apply for re*sidency just yet. We'll remain in "limbo-land" visa-wise for a while longer... who know for how long. Who knows if we'll remain in this country. Whatever. More on that later, promise.

D: Linton didn't feel better right away, kept on crying, complaining that he couldn't breathe, and asking for a nebulizer treatment, so I complied. He's better now and daddy's home, so I was finally able to come pay my dues to the GloBloPoMo authorities ;) While I held my complaining son I read the steroid's patient prescription information and it says one should take it BEFORE 9 a.m. so I guess we're in for a wild ride tonight. I told K we're taking turns. I remember full well one night with 12 months old Kelvin who was hospitalized for wheezing and took steroids around 5 p.m. -- I spent hours with him playing at the awesome hospital toy kitchen and pulling him around the hallways on one of the hospital's several wagons. At least tonight I'm home and there's the consolation of the internet, and... cover letters that need to be finished :(

P.S. Good think I had frozen food (mostly from Trader Joe's) for our "meals" today...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Little Brothers and Cousin Tumbling -- Video Blogging

NaBloPoMo (or GloBloPoMo, whatever you prefer -- I like the Global alternative since I'm not a "national" of this country ;) is a good opportunity for trying out alternative kinds of blogging, so I'm posting videos again (this was the first time), I don't know if the new blogger video thingy will work... maybe not.

I filmed these with my photo camera on Saturday night at the Fall Night at Kelvin's school. There was a gymnastics presentation by the students which was really cute, but I prefer to share the more spontaneous games of my sons and their cousin.

Tumbling cousins in action. At the end, Kelvin, all possessive of his school says that they (his brother and cousin) can't do it "Não pode, não pode" he says, and I respond, "Yes, they can" ("Pode sim") :

In the next one you can see the bossy brother in action before all three boys tumble several times (I say in the beginning "Let him go, let him go" and "Go, go, go" ("Deixa ele ir, deixa ele ir" "Vai, vai"):

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Parents Need to be Strong...

... at least in front of their children.

I was thinking this afternoon as I expectantly waited for a phone call from my husband saying that he had made his connecting flight from D.C. to Philly...

[he didn't and he may have to rent a car to get here tonight -- when he should have already landed here and with us at the airport or in the car heading home :( ]

... that one of the hard things for parents of small children is having to be strong in front of them and for them. I'm not only talking about the tough times when a child has a fall and starts bleeding and freaking out or has an accident and a parent needs to be cold-blooded enough to act quickly while trying to calm down the child when they are in fact freaking out inside too! I have often felt surprised at how strong I can be in such unexpected moments (not that anything really really bad has ever happened -- there's one story that I still need to tell you, BTW).

I was thinking more in terms of being strong or keeping face, in a sense, in a situation like the one we're going through right now. These thoughts came to me because K and I haven't had any quiet moments to talk it over, to grieve, to just hug each other and cry a little. Of course most of it is due to the fact that both of us traveled right after last Wednesday and we had to prepare for it, etc, but it's partly because we have to care for young children. I did tell my boys about what had happened and they know that daddy lost his job and that we may have to move next year. I firmly believe in always telling children the truth and what's going on, but in a way that makes them feel secure that everything will be all right.

They both know what happened to their grandfather in Brazil. In fact, while thinking of writing this post I asked them what had happened and was surprised to discover that it was Linton, who's only three, who answered my questions more promptly. "It was night. There was this man riding a bike" he said. Kelvin said that "Grandpa hit him with the car" and Linton completed: "And he fell and went to the hospital." Of course Linton doesn't really understand what death means, but Kelvin, whose first "encounter" with this concept occurred 2 1/2 years ago when he was only 3 and is described here [I just updated this post with photos o Kelvin, you should check them out] answered my questions about what happened by stating that "The man died." So, I think they need to know about certain sad things that happen when those are directly related to our lives (I don't talk to the boys about the war in Iraq or Global warming, for example, but the other day Kelvin was asking me about why we have to go through security at the airport and I briefly explained to him about 9/11 and terrorists).

I want to do my best, though, to shield the boys from anxiety about our lives and what will happen in the future. I know they may be sad to leave this house (see again Kelvin's last question in the post I linked to above), but at the same time we can make the whole ordeal a positive experience, and not only to them, but to us. I won't "fake" strength in front of them, but I don't want to be crying or expressing my anxiety to them because I think it's unnecessary. Now that Kelvin is almost 6, we have to be careful with the conversations and discussions that we have in front of him because he will certainly remember or at least keep some recollection of his feelings when he heard these things. Some of my earliest recollections negative have to do with when my dad was "fired," or, more precisely, transferred from one job to another when I was 6 years old. I remember the way my mom felt very strongly (and negatively) about several of my dad's "bosses." Like Kateri said (at least I think she did) in a relatively recent post [I checked back to May] that I cannot find (or maybe she deleted it, which is unlikely, or maybe I'm imagining things... I don't know) that we have to be careful about what we say to our 4-5 year-olds because from now own our lives and what we say to them become part of the their conscious lives and their earliest recollections.

I don't want the boys to remember this year as a negative one and if we have to move, I want it to be a positive experience. I still want to be able to have serious conversations about this with K, though, and to cry a little if I need to... I guess we'll have to stay up late a lot in the months to come, that's all, or... try to put them to bed earlier!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fall Pics

I was going to post these pictures last Wednesday (11/7) and this is how I had started the post:

"There's so much I want to blog about, but right now I have "mama brain," that is, I'm so exhausted of being on my own with two human beings under 6 years old that I can hardly think. Besides, I have to go to bed early so I can get up early to take Kelvin to school."

Forward two days to yesterday and my sister-in-law's arrival and now I can barely find time for blogging because I finally have an adult to talk to while we watch four little boys together.

So here's what I was planning to post, photos taken at Longwood Gardens three weeks ago. The boys posed nicely after a bribe of the promise of buying some popcorn later.
"Look at that camera!!"
(is he a bossy older brother or what?)
Now with flash, making faces:
Now in the sun
(at another pumpkin display that looks exactly the same):

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tomorrow I'll be back with more

Hi, I know I have to post everyday and it's one minute to midnight, so I guess I'm still good, but my sister-in-law is here and we're talking and I'll have to come back to write more tomorrow, OK?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Here I Go Again

I didn't think I was going to have the courage to go for it, but I'm applying for three academic posts. After I'm rejected, which I most certainly will be ;) ...

(I may get an interview, but I don't think it'll go further than that -- it'll be just a very inconvenient trip to Chicago [MLA] during the week between Xmas & New Years which I'm supposed to be spending with my family, GRRRR, that's all)

... I'll tell you in which universities/colleges they were, OK? (all three on the East Coast, is all I'll say for now).

Now, if I can only find the time to work on those application materials! It's all due on the 15th, but I can only work after hubby comes back -- good thing he's coming on Sunday, not on Wednesday. YAY! Tomorrow my sister-in-law is coming with her sons to spend the weekend with us. It'll be good to have another adult to talk to again... (sigh)


For Jody :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Metaphoric (If Clichéd) Look at the Latest Events

This will be a recurrent theme in the blog from now on... sorry about that, but I need a space to grieve and to figure out what we're going to do. Thanks for listening.
(tomorrow there'll be only photos to cheer us up, OK?)

K loosing his job and the likelihood of not living here, being forced to sell this house, and not knowing what to do next with our lives feels like, or is...

... a slap in the face, several ones, in fact

... a cold water bucket thrown over our heads (as we'd say in Brazil) -- only it's ice water, almost at freezing temperature

... a kick in the gut (or several)

... a rug suddenly being pulled from under our feet making us loose our balance and fall

... someone purposely made us trip and fall

... being unexpectedly stabbed in the back

... becoming the butt of a cruel, malevolent joke

I'm still a bit numb from the shock, the "cold water" and I still feel pain. I'm trying to figure out how to get up again and it's difficult to do so when you know "people" may be laughing at your expense.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Throughout the house hunting process I compared our "relationship" to the prospective houses to the courtship and getting married. I guess that the image now would be that we're being forced by external circumstances to a premature, unwanted divorce. There are some alleviating details such as the fact that we were still trying to adapt and warm up to the house, but it's sad to realize that even though we just started to "get to know it" we were already feeling very happy here. The saddest thing is letting go of what we had envisioned for the future -- gardening, inviting friends over for picnics and ball playing, etc.

Some things I'm feeling right now:

- Anger because I have to just pause and perhaps "rewind" any feelings I have/had about the house, any expectations about our future.

- Disappointment (very acute) because we thought we'd finally settle down.

- Discouragement, complete lack of energy to go on with renovations we won't be able to enjoy.

- Sadness that we'll have to move on and leave these almost fulfilled dreams behind.

However, I also feel hopeful and confident that everything will turn out fine, but it's hard to think positively.

For the third time only (remind me to tell about the other two times -- maybe in the comments later) I'm shedding some tears this evening, as I think through this post and look at photos we took in the past months. It's painful to look at those pictures and it makes me want to stop taking them altogether. I won't though. I want to record our brief moments in this house so we can look back at these few months and remember we had it... We were so close to realizing some dreams, but maybe they weren't meant to be, maybe there are better ones waiting around the corner. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, I look at this picture of the grass I took at a picnic we had in the backyard some weeks ago, and I let the tears run down my face. I know it won't be the last time I cry and that realization is not easy to accept.
I've been asking "Why?" a lot, but I know it'll take a long time to know the answer.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Funny Cell Phone Story

Yesterday I couldn't find my cell phone so I did what I often do, I "paged" it by calling it from my home phone. I couldn't hear it ringing anywhere in the house, though, and I became worried. I was calling for the third time and almost giving up when someone answered. It felt funny, as if I'd called a wrong number. The voice identified itself right away as "Kelvin's teacher," but I still proceeded to explain that I might have called the wrong number. I finally figured out what had happened when she said that the phone was in Kelvin's jacket pocket and that she decided to answer when she saw "Home" as the calling number. I thanked her for picking it up because I was getting worried about the phone's whereabouts and then I asked her to turn it off.

I still don't know how/why/when Kelvin put the phone in his jacket pocket, but it was pretty funny to have his teacher pick up the phone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As for school, I forgot to mention that his teacher who is pregnant (due in January) had to go on bed rest, so now there's a substitute teacher who comes three days a week (MWF) and on the other two days the younger kids are "schooled" in the same room with the older ones. It's one teacher for 12 kids and 8 grades, but she has lots of experience. Kelvin misses his old teacher, but he thinks it's fun to be in the "big kids' " room.

Today he woke up with an earache and didn't want to go to school. I'm taking him to the doctor (if I can get an appointment) later [we're going at 1 o'clock]. I had a bad night, coughing constantly... I should see a doctor too, but I think I'll eventually get better.

P.S. Yesterday's post has more updates on other fronts, if you haven't checked it out yet.

Monday, November 05, 2007

News & Notes (updated)

(I added a couple of items)
I'll take the bullet approach which was lately made popular by other bloggers out there.
  • The day after loosing his job K found out that our "alma mater" (we don't say that in Brazil), the largest university in Brazil, has an opening for a position in his area. It's a concurso, that is, a competition for becoming a fully tenured professor. He's going to "apply" (it's more like registering to participate and see if he can "win"). Everyone in Brazil is excited about that, obviously, and we think it's an interesting option.
  • I watched Sicko on the way to Brazil and I really liked it, it didn't make me feel really bad about the pharmaceutical industry as I thought it might, but it made a very strong point that the healthcare situation in this country is absolutely unacceptable.
  • I loved the two day trip to Brazil and I was quite surprised by that. My husband thoroughly enjoys there short trips (he took four of them in October/November last year), but I thought I wouldn't like it and only feel overwhelmed that I wanted to stay longer, but that was not the case.
  • Short trips are great for various reasons: two or three changes of clothes is all one needs and the hassles of packing/unpacking are eliminated; it's not enough time to miss the boys and home; it's enough for spending some time with friends and family and eating good food. The only downside is sleeping on the plane.
  • I saw Hairspray on the way back and thought it was OK. Very interesting idea to deal with both racial and body-image issues, if extremely idealized and naive, up to a certain point. In the "real world" I think things are much much harder for overweight people, not to mention that it's nearly impossible for them to maintain such a "sunny disposition." Flat characters, I know, I shouldn't expect any psychological depth in a mere musical, but still..
  • I'll write many posts about this, but I just wanted to say that it's been very hard to cope with the devastating news we received last week. Just looking around the house makes me sad, and I feel discouraged when I think about the future. It's just really really tough.
  • It won't be easy to care for the boys on my own for ten days... The most ironic thing is that just because it'll be very hard to work, I feel like working on the dissertation right now (also because I'm reading a great novel by one of the authors I'm analyzing). More on that later as well. Good thing my sister-in-law is coming with my nephews on Friday and will stay until Sunday or Monday.
  • The best news we had lately is that given the lengthy process he went through to get his current visa K can apply through the same law company for the "grass-colored" card (ok, residency sounds better) for us without the company as a sponsor. It'll cost a pretty penny (around 10K) for both of us, but it may be the solution to our visa woes. Too bad it won't "guarantee" work, but at least it frees us to look for work, right? DOWNSIDE: the concurso I mentioned in the first item might take place during the period while we're waiting for the documentation and K can't leave the country (or, if he left, wouldn't be able to come back). We're hoping it will be ready before then, though. (the examination will be scheduled between 30 to 120 days after the due-date for the applications -- which is January). Keep your fingers crossed for us.
  • I'm still pretty sick and I have a correction to make about that. I probably have laryngitis and not pharyngitis since my voice is gone. I don't feel pain, but I cough a lot and there's stuff coming out. Not fun. I found out this weekend that one of the worse things that can happen to someone who loves to talk is losing one's voice. It's quite hard for a mother too -- how can you call your children or tell them to stop running to the street for example? I've been trying to whisper while talking to the boys (which is funny because they whisper back), but it's tiresome. I hope I get better soon.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

International Tag-Team Parenting

Everything went well with my trip, including the drive up from D.C. I was getting really sleepy at the end of the car trip, but I talked on and off on the phone with K (hearing the boys squabbling over their breakfast and then games in the background). I got home and had lots of things to do right away since K is flying tonight to the U.K. (his trip wasn't canceled after all, perhaps it'll help him to network to find another job). I helped him pack and had to run to the office supply store for color printer cartridges so we could print his visa photos (yeah, we insist in taking and then printing our own document photos even though sometimes we have to go through a lot of trouble to do that... we're a very thrifty family :)

Of course I'm absolutely exhausted, but I haven't been able to take a nap all day, not even in the car on our way to the airport because I was coughing too much (I think the dry air in the flights hasn't help my throat and cough). There's a lot to tell, but I can't write too much today because I'm on my own with the boys. For ten days. I have to give them a bath and put them to bed right now and I hope that tomorrow I can write more about the trip and other things while Kelvin is in school.

Oh, last but not least, Linton didn't seem to be happy to see me, he didn't let me hug him. K thinks he was probably upset that I was away over the weekend. Then, he kept saying all day long that he wanted to go with daddy. They both fell asleep on our way to the airport, but later woke up in the parking garage and went to walk on the moving walkways pulling daddy's bags. We decided to say our goodbyes in the car because we knew Linton was going to make a scene. He cried for a bit and then kept saying all the way home "I want to go with daddy..." I feel sorry for him, but all I can do is reassure him that daddy is coming back soon and that mama will take care of him. OK, gotta go now. And I know I probably have tons of blog posts to catch up in my reading... I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was great! :)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

24 Hours in Brazil

I'm going to stay a bit more than 24 hours here, but the first 24 were great so far.

The only downside is that I basically lost my voice since I'm recovering from a sore throat (probably a pharyngitis) and all I want to do here is talking to people.

I had a great lunch with my friends in spite of the fact that my IBS (self-diagnosed so far) or stomach problems were acting up and I couldn't eat much because I was really bloated. It was wonderful to spend time with my friends and their children two babies, 4 and 7 months, and four other kids 3, 4, 5, and 6 years of age. I was glad my two boys weren't there or I wouldn't really have enjoyed it as much. I was amazed at the patience of the people in the restaurant, both the servers, cooks, etc, and the other customers. The pizza folks even gave every child a piece of pizza dough for them to play with (the kids were walking all around the crowded restaurant). I think in Brazil people and places are much more kid-friendly than the ?U.S. and there were other people around us with kids. I couldn't imagine that we would have been able to have the same looong lunch at a place like The Olive Garden, for example (and there's no comparison between food in the Brazilian chain and the American one, that's for sure!).

Later we went to a huge bookstore where some of the kids played at the children's section while the parents talked (some friends had already left) and after I said goodbye to the friend who had picked me up at the airport, another friend drove me to the bus station where I took a bus to my parents' town. I was lucky because yesterday was a holiday in Brazil so most of my friends were able to come. I'm going to try and meet up with the friends who didn't make it this afternoon before my parents take me to the airport. Talking about my parents, they're still very shaken, but slowly recovering with the help from friends.

I have so many things to write about, but I'll have to tackle those tomorrow or this week when I get back home. I have to finish packing my suitcase now so we can drive to Sao Paulo.

Just a preview:
- Guess what movie I saw in the airplane? (hint -- this post)
- I found some books I mention in my dissertation at the bookstore -- books from Japan, I was thrilled!
- I was able to examine the Brazilian translation of The Dangerous Book for Boys and became absolutely crazy to translated the Girl one! How could I get to do it? I'll write all about the translation at some other time.

Well, I'll be back tomorrow after I get home, wish me a safe trip back. (I know you will -- I felt so comforted when I was driving to the airport on Thursday by the thought that several of you out there were thinking about me and my trip at that moment -- blogging is a wondrous thing!).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Got Safely to Brazil

I just wanted to let you know that I arrived safely here and I'm off to have lunch with some of our closest friends at my favorite restaurant. This is my first time in Brazil without the boys and it actually feels great :). Too bad it's only two days, but I guess that's enough for a 'mommy-vacation.'

I'll write more later tonight when I arrive at my parents' home, OK?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Leaving on a Jet Plane"

I'm traveling to Brazil tonight and will be back on Sunday morning. The trip had already been planned before the latest events with my parents took place, but I guess it was good timing. It's right in between my parents' birthdays too, so I can give them hugs and gifts in person. Of course all I wanted right now was to stay home close to my husband and sons, but I have to go, and on Sunday night K leave for London (he's still traveling after all) so we'll be away from each other for two weeks :( right after these life-shaking events...

That's why I was and am in a hurry right now. I have to leave for D.C. (I fly from Dulles) in a few minutes, I'm just waiting for Kelvin to get back from school so I can hug him and say good-bye. Good thing he'll be entertained by Super Why (but that's another story -- I'll blog about PBS Kids programming soon ;).

I guess several people still may not have read the latest news from Casa in Translation, so please check it out -- it's unbelievable. And wish me a good trip. I'll blog tomorrow and Saturday as planned :) They just may be very short posts.


... the loss of a job and of many dreams for our lives in this house, maybe in this country.

Is there a more awful way to start a month of intense blogging?

But that's how it goes. This will probably be a very eventful month if not a happy one.

Thanks for your support expressed in the comments to the previous post. It moves me more than you can imagine to see that you're even asking if there's something you can do to help. Just having you as readers and friends helps a great deal, that's for sure.

I'm in a hurry for reasons that I'll disclose in the next post (yeah, I'm starting with two posts a day, hopefully I'll be able to keep up with at least one in the following ones), but I just want to make a quick list of things that we've been grieving for as the unthinkable news sink in:

- what am I going to do with all the bulbs that I purchased? Can I return them to the store? They'd just make me sad next Spring because I'd know I'd never see them again.

- what about my dream of having a garden, planting things, particularly perennials? I carried a few perennial potted plants from the previous house to this one and I guess I'll have no choice but plant them here.

- what a bout the dreams of the boys growing up in this house and enjoying the yard, the playhouse, the swingset?

- when are we going to settle down? K was saying that he now has a feeling it's never gonna happen.

- why? why did K get his job in the first place?

- where do we want to live? We don't want really, all we want is to stay here, with K in this job...

These questions and so many more percolate through our brains over and over again. And I guess they'll become more intense before they go away.

More later.