Thursday, January 31, 2008


edited to add note to the end.

What an unimaginative title!! What a boring post follows...

OK, this is supposed to be a quick one. I was going to write an "assorted stuff" post but decided to write several shorter ones instead and be scattered in an organized manner. Blah.

Sorry if my mood is not great, you'll understand at the end of the post.

So... yesterday was a tough day. The night wasn't very good to begin with. Linton had a cold since Sunday and had been sleeping with me in our bed (K slept on a mattress on the floor) since Monday night. Tuesday afternoon he started "wheezing" and we gave him a couple of nebulizer treatments in the evening. They didn't help much and he continued breathing shallowly and making a "wheezy" noise, but he kind of slept through it, very fitfully.

I decided to take him to the doctor, but his breathing was so bad (noisy, kind of shallow) that I gave him a nebulizer treatment at 7:40 and, after the visit was already scheduled for 10:45, another one at 9:30. His breathing got much better. When the nurse examined she found that his lungs were absolutely clear!! She advised me to continue with the nebulizer treatments and, as we were getting ready to leave, Linton started crying really hard (very unlike him who behaved perfectly throughout all the examination with lots of probing and three different tries of that machine that measures oxygen in the blood) and... surprise!! he vomited several times... on his clothes, on the floor. YUCK!! I started retching too, but was able to recover quickly, thankfully. Good think we always leave his pajama/ long underwear under his clothes and I had left his jacket in the car, so I just took his soiled clothes off and put on his jacket. I was so flustered when I left that I forgot the copayment and had to go back later for that (after I picked up Kelvin from school).

Linton took a nap in the car (K and I had to go to sign some papers at a doctor's office for our immigration health examination) and woke up much better. I think it was just a one time indisposition... whatever it was. I decided not to do any more nebulizer treatments since he was OK (playing, happy) even with the weird breathing and coughing. The nurse also suggested that he could be allergic to something... or, I don't know, his upper airways get swollen when he has a cold...

I'm glad he got better because...
.... and that's the punchline of this email....
... K left for Brazil in the middle of the night last night (he had an early flight this morning out of JFK), and I have four days ahead of me with the boys. Good thing the first day is almost done!

I know don't how she does/did it.

I'll try to be back with other posts soon.

Edited to add: I forgot to write that afterwards I was very relieved that he vomited in the doctor's office and not at home since we have carpeted floors everywhere here, except the kitchen and the boys' bedroom now. (well, and two of the three bathrooms). And, obviously, I was delighted it was a one time thing and that so far no one else felt bad, like it's happened with my friend Tracy and also with Professing Mama (hopefully not the vomiting, my friend).

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Complete Jane Austen - Mansfield Park

I think Mansfield Park is my favorite so far of the new adaptations (Pride and Prejudice will always be my favorite, I think). The fact that I have read the book only once, over ten years ago, helps, I guess, because I wasn't constantly comparing one to the other like I did last week, with the re-reading of Northanger Abbey still fresh in my mind.

I did miss certain parts of the book, namely, Fanny's visit home which makes her refusal of Mr. Crawford so much harder, and the development of certain characters -- e.g. Aunt Norris didn't seem that annoying here and Lady Bertram was much less boring and turned out to be a great observer (at least of Fanny). Like other bloggers have commented already, I cannot fathom why all the new adaptations (except for Sense and Sensibility that'll be broadcast in two parts) need to be only 1 hour 20 minutes long!! Wouldn't the viewers be able to "endure" at least 2 hours? Is it just so much cheaper? (I can hardly think so because production costs wouldn't be increased, I'd guess, for 40 minutes more of film) or do they think that today's viewer's attention span has just decreased so much?

I also couldn't help comparing this adaptation to the 1999 film by Patricia Rozema which was well done, if bit controversial, with its politicized insertion of more information about the British colonizers' behavior in the West Indies than what appears in the book. Here's an interview with Rozema that I found while writing this post. I got that film for Christmas two or three years ago, but I haven't watched it since, so I don't know if I like it best than the new adaptation. I really liked Mary and Henry Crawford in this new one, oh yeah [SPOILER for 1999 film ahead], and Maria and Henry's betrayal in Rozema's film is much more "in your face" with Fanny finding them out in bed Mansfield. All in all, the present adaptation is much more "faithful" to the novel than the movie.

I'd be very curious to find out what my friend Nelia thought of it. Mansfield Park is her favorite Austen novel, and Fanny, her favorite heroine. She hated the movie because she thought Fanny was too forward and misrepresented, so I have the impression that she'd like this new Fanny.

What did you think of it? I'm very curious about next week's Miss Austen Regrets.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Project 365+1 Posts!

We're heading to Maryland soon, but I wanted to let you know that I just added nine posts (eight with pictures*) to my Project 365+1 blog, check them out! I wasn't getting the comments from that blog in my email (silly me, forgot to set it up), but I will from now on, so I can respond or comment back...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

*Tracy, there are some pictures for you there in yesterday's post!

Fun Collaborative Games -- a Mom Central Review

I'm excited to share with you our experiences with a game and a puzzle that we received as samples from this new line of products for pre-schoolers by that well-known game/toy maker.

We received them before we traveled for out Christmas break so we had to wait until we came back to play. The boys were very interested in both packages and the contents delighted them even more.

This is the first one we opened:
The game is very cute, but sometimes it takes more than 10 minutes to get all the ingredients for a recipe (at least with only two players). One of the things I enjoyed the most about this game was that it's very collaborative and not really a competitive one. The "bonus" place on the board only means you get to choose a favorite ingredient to add to the recipe which can lead to intriguing concoctions such as tomatoes in chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate in an omelet! The game is quite easy for them to play although my 3.5 year old couldn't really concentrate long enough to play until the end.

This other one is not really a game, it's a puzzle with two books (easy and more advanced) of things that one needs to find in the Zoo puzzle (objects with a certain color, or that begin with a specific letter).
Once you find what you were looking for you circle it with the dry-erase marker that is included and the greatest difficulty I had was in having the boys share the maker!! It would be easier if it came with more markers, maybe different colored ones (it's a blue one) so the kids could keep track of who did what. In our case the two activity books are perfect because one can be used by my younger boy and the other by the older one. The zoo puzzle is a fully cooperative activity, too bad it turned out into a competition for the marker! I guess I should just go buy more of those ;)

I wanted to conclude with my son's opinion, so just asked my 5 year old which one he liked best and he said emphatically that he liked both, so there you go!

Disclosure: This is a solicited review and I'll receive a gift certificate to Amazon as compensation.
Like my friend Kateri would say "[I] Will blog for books"(and for fun free games too) :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Last Day of the Month

Kelvin snatched a small planner that we received in a Christmas "goodie bag" prepared by a friend and now he's marking his days there. It's the cutest thing, he writes a "P" (as in past) for the days that have passed, "N" (for now) for the day he's writing, and "A" (after) for the days in the future that, in his logic, will come "after" now (I suggested F for future...).

Today we were discussing that it would be best if we reduced the amount of TV they watch (generally two PBS shows a day and, occasionally, a 30 minute DVD in addition to that plus half an hour or much more online playing games [Kelvin]) so we could do a schedule, e.g. Curious George on Mondays, Super Why on Tuesdays, Ruff Ruffman (his new obsession, recommended by older schoolmates) on Wednesday, something like that. He immediately went to get his planner and then, found out which day it was and concluded that January is almost ending.

I agreed, and I told him that the month would end on January thirty-first.

"No," he screamed from across the kitchen, not missing a beat,
"January thirty-last!"

Yeah, that was smart!

P.S. and this one is not "in translation" as the label says, we spoke it in English.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Busy, VERY Busy

I'm just checking in to report the obvious!! That I've been really busy lately, working on our latest "enterprise." I don't know if I'll share exactly what it is, I'll think about it.

And... because of all this upheaval (K is also painting the boys' bedroom right now) I haven't been able to post in my 365+1 blog and here :(

On a happier note, last night, around midnight, I saw that a friend of mine was online and I said hi. It turns out that she's been trying to finish her thesis (for her doctorate in audiology) for almost two years and she needs some encouragement, so I offered to begin doing an "accountability" process with her, like I for 30 weeks until May 2007 with my friend Paulo, who finished his doctorate in divinity last year. She said I was a Godsend and I was glad I could help! Of course she'll help me too so we can both finish.

OK, gotta go to bed. I should actually cook, but I'm tired now. I guess K and Kelvin could eat sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, right? (they generally take food -- long story, Brazilian custom of lunch being the main meal still prevails in this house).

Hope to be back soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Live-Blogging Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

I read Northanger Abbey last week and I enjoyed it very much. The first page is very humorous [I'll cite it here later] and I'm curious about tonight's adaptation.

On Friday morning I heard a short interview with Andrew Davies, the screenwriter, on NPR's Morning Edition in which he talked a bit about his invented scenes in this novel. They have to do with the books Catherine Morland reads and the things she might have imagined. PBS also has an interview with him you can read and watch here. I haven't checked it out yet. After I do I may comment here (probably at another post) about it.

NOTE: Plenty of spoilers ahead. Do not proceed if you haven't seen it and want to see it. I do recommend this one, much better than last week's Persuasion!

Live Review:
The opening lines were used precisely as in the novel -- which scored high points with me.

Of course it's extremely quick paced, which is perhaps inevitable for a short TV adaptation.

The prompt encounter with Mr. Tilney and the dialogue that followed was not that badly adapted. It was weird to have Mr. Thorpe (we only learn it's him later, but we can already suspect) there staring at her as she dances.

In my opinion the two first imaginary scenes were kind of OK if far-fetched, but the
third, seemed way too exaggerated...

Much quicker introduction between them and Mrs. Thorpe and Mrs. Allen and Catherine -- she addresses Catherine first and only later acknowledges Mrs. Thorpe (who says they were classmates) which is very inaccurate. How could Mrs. Thorpe know who she was and already mention her brother coming? (she only finds out that he's coming when he appears with Mr. Thorpe later).

library scene - pump room in the book.

Thorpe speaking to the General (telling him that she'd inherit money) -- introducing himself for the first time -- quite strange. (in the book we learn this much later and indirectly, here it doesn't make any sense since Thorpe is interested in her -- why would he try to make Henry Tilney's father interested in her? In the book we learn that he made up stuff about her just because that was his way -- bragging about everything -- he doesn't brag once in the film, not that I remember! He's just rude, but his character is not developed in the same way).

Deceiving carriage scene, very well done in the beginning , BUT Mr. Thorpe saying bad things about the Tilney family, particularly the statement: "something very strange about the mother's death" is uncalled for! He doesn't know them at all at that point in the novel! They didn't get rained on either in the book, the rain took place earlier.

Isabella's statement regarding Mrs. Radcliffe's novel The Monk as "My brother's favorite novel" was very strange because Mr. Thorpe has said earlier (in the book too) doesn't read novels and he did say so earlier.

Catherine's walk with the Tilneys (no suspense leading to it here) is interrupted by Eleanor's "friend" (future husband, mentioned at the very end of the novel), this is very interesting because he's not a character and this encounter isn't mentioned in the book.

The elder Mr. Tilney (Captain Tilney's) introduction into the story was really well done!
Isabella's reaction to the consent was well done too.
9:46 - first posting.

I didn't like the fourth (or fifth?) imaginary scene that portrayed her running around and finding a woman being tortured.

"All houses have their secrets and Northanger is no exception" -- Did Mr. Tilney really say that?
I remember that he said some things about a chest and stuff, nothing related to the house.

Dinner scene, quite precise. Night scene of finding the papers on the bottom of the chest (it's not in the chest, it's actually in a cabinet drawer). OK.

The portrait doesn't hang in her private chamber, it hangs in Eleanor's room! There's no mention of Eleanor not seeing the body after she died, all we know is that Eleanor wasn't there.

"I'm surprised at you Eleanor" -- the father didn't say that when she was

Letter to Isabella -- she never wrote to Isabella (on the contrary, she waited anxiously for news from her which she didn't get until after her brother wrote to her -- and then she never wrote back), and never mentioned (or probably would have) a suspicion of a secret with the death of Mrs. Tilney.
9:59 posting.

Riding together to see Mr. Tilney's house and being rained on... I guess the screenwriter likes rain! -- I'd rather have "seen" the scene where General Tilney basically suggests that he will soon be furnishing the rooms for her. And that she'll be mistress of that house.
Ah... cleaning mud from her face.. that was the reason for the rain scene, I guess ;)

They walk outside and he brings this subject: "You said that the house held secrets...
I'd like to know what you meant" -- he doesn't want to reveal the secret. "Why not imagine the worse you can and write a novel -- Northanger Abbey was going to be a good title for a novel!"

"I can't help feeling that this house is not a happy one" she says and then he explains that his sister is not happy -- father refused to sanction the match, Eleanor must marry the heir -- He says he must marry fortune too... What if she should not have fortune? "A stern test of my character."

No such dialogs in the book!! First, it's strange that he wants to encourage her imaginings and the existence of a secret. And then, that he's reveal that he had to marry for money.

Visit to the room scene: Mr Tilney finds her there. (no suspense of him being away and coming back unexpectedly -- not much suspense really).

"Too many novels" dialog OK, as well as her pain afterwards.

And I don't thing she ever complains to Eleanor about Henry not liking her and the things she said... Does she really receive her brother's letter then? Precise dialog follows. Except for the suggestion that Isabella may have slept with Captain Tilney -- imaginary scene, but, maybe it could have happened... "He's accostumed to having his way" Eleanor says about Captain Tilney, (I guess she means he gets [to sleep with?] the women he wants).
10:12 posting

Does she really say to Eleanor that she deserves to be turned out (because of what she suspected)? I don't remember that. And she doesn't leave at night!! It's in the morning! I guess this is just to make her forced exit more "Gothic."

The coming home is OK, the scenes of her telling her siblings about the Abbey aren't really accurate as well as her sister asking if she did something very naughty to get turned out. Crying to mother that she loves him -- she does no such thing, only gets really upset and doesn't concentrate on her work

"It's a man on a white horse!" her brother and sister say when Tilney comes-- oh, what a cliché!! In the book she's at home with her mom when he calls, it's quite a "sedate" scene. :)

Now, the biggest change was when Henry begins to tell her that her instincts were true and that their mother had suffered greatly. He asks if he remember him mentioning vampires (only in the adaptation -- on their drive to the abbey) and says that his dad did "Drain the life out of her with her cruelty, coldness -- He married her for money! " and adds that "The worst crimes are the crimes of the heart" [hmmmm, oh well, why was there a need for a "crime" anyway?]-- There's no such admission of his father's cruelty in the book! Henry assured her in the book that his mother may have suffered because his dad had a difficult personality, but he had never been unkind to her.

Drawing room scene with all the little ones watching, very interesting :). (Little girl saying "you can see the house from the window!" instead of the mother was fun)

She's quite eager when he declares himself:
"A love so strong, I may be disowned because of it"
and she interrupts to say:
"please go on with what you were going to say"
which obviously is "will you marry me?" and an overeager (from her part) kiss follows.

Puzzling thing:
She has a baby by the last scene?!
The short narration comes straight from Austen's book...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I liked it. I think the actress did a good job, I also liked the woman who portrayed Isabella -- they both looked quite young, which is very accurate (Catherine is 17 and gets married by 18).

Some comments:
I don't think that Henry and Catherine's dialog at the end made it clear that his father objected to her because she was poor -- that's not really mentioned! The fact that it was Eleanor's own happy (and prosperous) wedding that allowed them to marry was not revealed either. I don't think it would have taken more than a minute to make those things clear! Why include all the previous machinations of Thorpe (telling the General that she was rich and stuff) not to pick up on this theme later on? And we never see the General again after he leaves for a few days (except for his hasty and angry return at the end).

Another small problem in my point of view is that Austen goes to great lengths in the book to reveal to the reader that Catherine is completely guileless, outrightly naive most of the time, and completely unaware of her blunders and of speaking her mind way too clearly and earnestly. Some hints are given about her being a bit "slow" to catch double meanings, but her character is not fully developed in areas that would contrast her more strongly with Isabella. The supposed letter that she writes to her friend (and which didn't happen in the book) detracts from her character quite a bit -- sharing her suppositions and stuff. She was misguided in her overactive imagination, but she was very proper and kept her silly machinations to herself.

OK... I guess this is enough, this must be the most boring review ever! I'm glad I saw it, and I may buy this one in the future... Now I'm curious to see the screenwriter's interview!
11:13 pm.

P.S. Andrew Davies didn't adapt Persuasion, so that's probably why I liked this one and didn't like the other. He also adapted the older Pride and Prejudice (which I think it's great) and
Emma and the more recent Sense and Sensibility. I'm relieved now that the next films were written by him and not the Persuasion screenwriter(s).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hi There... A More Personal Post

I realized that with the recent birth-days, death, potty, meta-blog, and Jane Austen* business, I have hardly written about myself and how we're doing these days. It is true that if you like photos, my daily posts at the 365+1 project blog will give you some inkling as to how my days are being spent, but I still want to write about them, not just leave you with the pictures.

Job and House
Things are settling down here now that K is back at his job and very motivated by his new projects. A recent (last Friday) meeting with one of the vice-presidents of the company assured him that by no means this is a secure job. His current group's survival in the company has been deemed an experiment and if they don't present satisfactory results, they'll be out the door at the end of the year again. We won't mind too much if that happens, provided we have our residency secured and other options to pursue. The house across the street to the right from ours that went up for sale less than two months ago already sold, so we know that if we do the requisite renovations to this house, it will most certainly sell it easily since it's located in such a great neighborhood.

We're slowly beginning to work on renovation projects (and I owe you photos of our study and bathroom renovations, I haven't forgotten), the first one will be the boys' bedroom, then the guest bedroom and ours. I will soon post a most overwhelming to-do list to the blog and you'll see how much still remains to be done. We've already moved the boys to the guest bedroom and we hoped to finish painting by next week, but I doubt that it'll happen because we haven't even started! We have to paint ceiling, the window, door frames, and baseboard heat/ baseboards as well as patch some spots of the wall, paint it and then, finally, change all electric outlets and the light switch (this has to be done in every single room). THEN... we will remove the old carpets of the three bedrooms and the hardwood floors underneath will probably have to be sanded and re-finished...

I was feeling very depressed about the house and also not allowing myself to think about the things that we enjoy in it and in this particular region, but now I'm excited again, and I'm enjoying the house and looking forward to Spring and Summer here.

Dissertation (Parents to the Rescue!)
I shouldn't really be thinking about renovations now (and I won't really be working much on it) because I have a dissertation to finish. Good thing that my parents are coming again for the fourth time, poor things, so I can get done once and for all... They've already scheduled their trip and shall arrive on February 12. I want to get started between now and then (and, most importantly, have a defense date scheduled, more on that in a minute), but we also want to have the guest bedroom ready for them, at least painted, if not with the floor ready.

About the defense, I have yet to hear from my fourth committee member, but it looks like my advisor and the other committee members are OK with scheduling it for the second week of April. As soon as I hear back from her (she was on sabbatical last semester), I'll try to get everyone to agree on a date. And then... only then, I'll begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel!! My former advisor and chief helper in terms of revising my drafts is on vacation until the 21st and from then on we'll begin emailing drafts back and forth.

Looking for Enterprises
In other fronts, we're trying to find alternative ways to earn $ so we can do the house renovations and finish paying our remaining debt. I need to get more piano students (at the moment I have only one certain, at my son's school since one former student lives in New Jersey and the others in the city, a bit far) and we're looking into other things. Hopefully some of them will work out. I'm not entrepreneurial in the LEAST and I'm also very cautions and stressed out about money (one of my "issues" that I've been planning to blog about), so it's quite novel learning to be more adventurous and also more assertive in that respect.

Well, I hope to write more often about how things are going, and, hopefully, I'll be able to discuss some of my "issues" here, something I've been putting off until I feel OK about doing it. I'll come back soon with more Austen stuff as well as a couple of reviews for fun kid games.

* I'll be going back to Austen-themed posts soon, at least weekly while the PBS series lasts, I may even create a Jane Austen post label :).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tribute to my Best and Most Inspiring Teacher

I've been in school for a really long time. 11 years of elementary and high school (which used to be, respectively, 8 and 3 years long in Brazil), 5 years in college, and now almost 10 years in graduate school -- that amounts to exactly 26 years of my 36 years of life (I began school at 7 and took a three year break between college and grad school).

In all these years the teacher that remains the most inspiring of all to me is "Tia" Vanda Candido (we used to call her "tia," auntie, as many children still call older women -- teachers, acquaintances, family friends -- in Brazil). She was my teacher in 3rd and 4th grades (she taught these two grades together) and then my Portuguese teacher in 6th grade.

Tia Vanda was a talented educator who not only taught us the school subjects, but allowed us to talk about many different things during school hours. I still remember that many afternoons we would have very long and entertaining conversations about life, school subjects, and whatever caught our attention at the time, while we prepared our lessons. Her handwriting was absolutely perfect, clear, round, even, enviable, really! I tried all my life to imitate it, with not much success. Then, after having a really poor Portuguese teacher in 5th grade she became my teacher in 6th grade and all of a sudden grammar, sentence ("syntactic") analysis, and writing, became easy, meaningful, and enjoyable! I still have my composition notebook from that year and, although I didn't write that well (at least not from today's standards), I got mostly As.

I have to admit that we didn't get along all the time since our temperaments clashed a bit and, because of that, she was fonder of my brother (also her student in 3rd and/or 4th grades) than of me -- she even traveled quite far to be at his wedding (she couldn't attend mine because it was on a graduation day at her school). That didn't diminish my admiration for her and she was the one who inspired me to go study language and literature (Letras) in college and then in graduate school.

Yesterday morning she passed away after a fulminating brain cancer that took her life in less than six months. I'm sorry for her husband and her three sons since she was quite young (60 something) and her illness was completely unexpected. Two weeks ago I wrote her son an email with a message to her expressing how I appreciated her, but I don't know if she was conscious enough for him to read it to her. I'm sad that I'll never be able to see her and talk to her again to let her know that her student from many years back is about to get her Ph.D. I'm sure she would be proud in knowing that she inspired me to take this path.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Introducing: Brand NEW 365 Project Blog!!!

I had been thinking about starting a 365 project blog (a "fotolog" or blog for posting a photo a day, at least) since the new year began, but it was not until today that I decided to take the plunge. Of course I just couldn't start without going back and posting entries for the 13 days that preceded today in spite of the fact that I had not taken photos every day. I resorted to a few tricks -- I began with a "traditional" new year's eve photo (soooo cute, you've got to check it out!) and then for a few of the days I didn't have pictures I either used a photo from exactly one year ago, or a photo from a few days later/ earlier.

So... I know I kinda cheated, but I don't really care since almost half (6 out of 14) of those posts had photos taken on the actual date. I'll have to do the same in the future if I know I'll be away for a day or two (post the photos later or earlier)... That's the only way one can manage to post a photo every single day without fail, I guess.

I hope you visit me there! Mama(e) in Translation's 365+1 (+1 because this is a leap year). Right now all the posts are in the first page, all you have to do is scroll to the bottom to look at them in order...

Finally!! Blogroll Updated

After putting it off for the longest time I finally took a couple of hours on Friday night to update my blogroll. I added many new blogs which I wasn't reading often enough because they weren't there and, most importantly, I updated old URLs which led to inactive blogs (well, I mostly added the new URL to the old one).

I still refuse to use a feed reader because I suspect that one would make me spend even more time reading blogs than I currently do, therefore my blogroll is vital, really important in my blog reading.

It feels good to take care of bloggy business sometimes! As if I already didn't spend enough time on blogs...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New Persuasion Adaptation -- My Verdict

The new Persuasion adaptation was well done. Good actors, photography, and soundtrack. Up until almost the end it conveyed the book's plot and atmosphere quite well in spite of the perhaps unnecessarily fast pace. It does have some serious problems in my point of view.

I was slightly startled when two key utterances by Anne Elliot:
All the privilege I claim for my own sex . . . is that of loving longest, when ... [all] hope is gone.
and my favorite quote of all Austen* which is cited by various feminist scholars (and which is paraphrased in the TV adaptation):
Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.
were misplaced and used much earlier in the plot than in the book, in a conversation between Anne and the grieving Captain Benwick at Lyme, instead of at the very end of the book. Captain Wentworth didn't even overhear her saying those things, so they became meaningless utterances instead of the key revelation which gave Wentworth hope that she might still love him. I noticed this change and began to wonder why the screenwriter did that, but it didn't affect the development of the plot, so I kept watching, wondering a bit how the "revelation" of her feelings would take place in the end.

This dislocation was probably used to preserve these famous quotes in the adaptation since the ending was slightly different from the book's. It was too fast paced, literally, with Anne running around in various directions while trying to entertain meaningful conversation and read the most important letter of her life -- very distracting, not to mention that talking and reading while running can hardly be done. Wentworth learned that she was not to marry Eliot (not such a strong suspicion of him in the book) when he came to convey a message of the Admiral that he could vacate the house to her and Elliot. She denies the engagement (the actor's face in this shot was very well done) and the series of interruptions that follow are quite effective in conveying how flustered Anne feels. Their encounter is pretty anti-climatic in the end and a little peeve of mine is that their kiss took too long to happen and ended up looking awkward. This was a little sad because their previous "close encounter" at the shop while raining was very well done.

The actual ending was bizarre to say the least! [SPOILER ALERT] How could he give her Kellynch Hall as a wedding gift when Mr. Elliot remained the rightful heir and would not take possession of it until after Sir Walter died? That was extremely puzzling! I previously thought that the Pride and Prejudice movie ending was a bit far fetched (if enchanting), but Elizabeth did go to live in that wonderful estate whereas all we know of Anne was that she became a Navy wife.** Go figure!

I stay with the previous movie even though the actor who portrayed Wentworth is infinitely more handsome in this TV adaptation, that's for sure! :-)

* I'm even using it as an epigraph in my dissertation.

** The previous Persuasion adaptation emphasizes that by having her in the ship with him at the end, a bit of a stretch, but much more accurate. I loved that movie, BTW, but I was mystified by the carnival parade in the streets of Bath after they finally acknowledge their love to each other and kiss. It was quite strange, but then... oh well, film-makers/ screenwriters who resort to book adaptations may want to insert some things from their own imaginations in the films, I guess!

"The Complete Jane Austen" Begins Tonight

I know that many of my fellow bloggers are Jane Austen fans like me, so I'm sure many of you already know about "The Complete Jane Austen" a series of new and "old" Jane Austen adaptations that is going to air on PBS starting tonight (in half an hour, so I'm quite late writing about this here).

The new BBC adaptations are Persuasion (airing tonight), Northanger Abbey (Jan. 20) , Mansfield Park (Jan. 27), and Sense and Sensibility (March 30 and April 6). Pride and Prejudice has already aired back in 1996 (a BBC and A&E joint production) and Emma (BBC) a few years later (I've seen both) -- both were AWESOME. They've also produced a film based on Austen life and her loves, Miss Austen Regrets and I'm curious about that. I haven't yet seen Becoming Jane yet, and I have to see it too (I found this great fansite of this movie which also talks about the upcoming adaptations).

I'm not that excited, but I'll follow along and I'll blog about it and hopefully get feedback from other viewers. Persuasion is my favorite Austen book and adaptation for the big screen, so I'm wary of tonight's TV adaptation already.

OK, gotta go put the boys to bed before I go watch it, talk to you later!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My "Little" Brother

My only brother was born 34 years ago today and obviously I don't remember anything about his birth since I was only 2.5 at the time, so he's always been part of my (conscious) life. I'm sorry he won't be able to read this post since (at least at home) he cannot access Blogger in China. I hope we can talk to him on the phone and wish him Happy Birthday.

Here he is with mom:He was a cute baby (and is now a very handsome, green-eyed, man*):
*I won't post a photo of him as an adult, I'd like to obtain his permission first.

Two more photos of brother and sister:
I love you bro, Happy Birthday!

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Family with the Poop Problem

Ah... potty training! :-(

Sometimes I wish I had heard of the pompously named "Elimination Communication" method before the boys (or at least Linton) were/was born. But then again it might have driven me nuts too, instead of helping. (I just read a great personal essay about EC in the latest issue of Brain, Child [online since I'm not a subscriber yet -- topic for yet another post]). I could also have used cloth diapers. Besides being better for the environment, people suggest that cloth helps them to be trained earlier because they can feel they're wet more acutely. The wet stuff is not the problem in this family, though... my boys never seemed to be bothered by soiled diapers. Poop is the problem here.

Long time readers of this blog may remember the "poop problem" we had with Kelvin back in 2005. He was partly potty trained in April 05 (at 3 years old) and by September of that year didn't need diapers at night anymore (3.5 -- same age as Linton now, but no progress on this front with Linton); however, he kept asking for a diaper to poop. We tried a number of things and then gave up and put up with it for a whole year (using Linton's discarded diapers, never new ones). Kelvin only started using the potty during our trip to Florida in Sept. 06, when he was already 4.5!

Well, more recently, you may recall that Linton has had many "poop problems..." He's been constipated* and went through a phase during which he withheld his stool for as long as possible. He literally kicked, screamed, and "danced" when having a bowel movement (BM). Thankfully, using MiraLax for a while helped with that and he doesn't suffer anymore to have BMs. You already know that back in June I potty trained him fairly quickly for pee, but potty training for poop has been, well... awful, erratic, unreliable, nearly impossible!

I guess it was such a relief when he stopped crying when having BMs -- a fact that made it impossible to even talk about going on the potty or toilet -- that we just let him do whatever in that department. So now, he doesn't suffer to have a BMs anymore (only occasionally when he didn't eat enough fiber he'll say it hurts), but they're still irregular. Oftentimes he has a BM only twice or three times a week, sometimes a couple of days in a row. He's getting very sneaky, though and we generally cannot tell when he needs to go. Once in a very long while he'll do his typical act of jumping up and down. Those are the only and rare occasions when we have the possibility of quickly grabbing him, taking him to the toilet so he can poop there.

His BMs are so unpredictable that we cannot keep up with him. I mean, I never wanted to go the pull-ups route since they're expensive and feel like such a waste when he only has a BM a few times a week. I may just have to let it go and have him wear them all the time since I'm tired of him pooping on his underwear, his pajamas (some mornings we remove his night diapers and he stays on his PJs for a while before we get him dressed), and... DISGUSTING! ... on his bath! (he did it this week when daddy was giving him a bath). What infuriates me though is that once in a while (that happened a few times some months ago) even the training we've already attained for pee goes out the window and he'll just pee on his clothes too!

Oh, yeah, I didn't tell you what happened on our last day at the hot springs town in Brazil, did I? We were all (my parents, uncle, the boys and I) enjoying this almost empty pool while it filled with very hot water (click on photo to enlarge). I had been successful in getting Linton to the bathroom to pee (and I guess he mostly pooped in the apartment) even as we spent our days in swim wear. This late afternoon, though, on the very day I had forgotten to put on his "speedo" swimsuit underneath his shorts (we buy those for the boys in Brazil since this used to be the common swimwear for men there in the past, but now they wear longer shorts like here -- the boys actually got several as baby gifts since the grandparents thought they would look cute on "speedos"), he wandered away a bit and when he started screaming for me I realized that he'd just had a BM at the pool!! Since he wasn't wearing his "speedo" it got out and floated by his side making him very distressed. Thankfully he had a small pail in his hand and there was nobody (but the family) around, so I quickly fished the small turd, took it to the bathroom to flush, and cleaned him up a bit (he wasn't really dirty, being in the water and all). Yikes! Yuck!

I'm getting tired of soiled clothes... tired of having to spend money on pricey pull-ups, and, most of all, I wish there was an effective way we could deal with this problem, but I know there isn't one really. We have scolded him (I guess that's why he got sneaky with the poop), pleaded, promised rewards,** begged, explained, threatened to punish, and nothing. Now the main indication that he's had a BM is the fact that he gets really quiet all of a sudden and either disappears somewhere or doesn't move from where he is for a long time. Incredibly, one of the most common positions in which he relieves himself these days is lying belly down on the floor (?! ) -- I don't know how he does it.*** At other times he comes up to me with this strange look on his face, or he comes, looks at me, and says apologetically: "I'm sorry, mama" and I know he has pooped. He never asks in any straightforward manner like his brother used to do -- "I pooped, come change me!" If he does ask he mumbles. Yeah... I guess it's become an issue for him and everyone involved.

Well, sorry for the loooong boring post on this subject that only parents may bear to read about (I bet that if you read this far is because you're one ;-). At this point I only wish that he could at least tell me when he needs to go so I could put a diaper on him like his brother used to do... that would save us many diapers. Am I asking too much? Oh well... Why does potty training have to be a such a nightmare for our family? With both boys? I guess I'll never know.

* His stools have been irregular and sometimes only a few, even one, per week since he was a baby only on breast milk. I don't have constipation, quite the contrary, and my diet was varied and rich in fiber, so I'm sure it wasn't my milk.

** One week when Kelvin demanded a reward because he finally started to wipe himself (YAY toddler wipes!) and poop at school we succeed in getting L to the potty one day and he demanded a present too -- that was the day of the forgotten wallet fiasco when I needed to buy them trains as their rewards for progress in the poop department -- L hasn't gone in the toilet since then -- late November.

*** The hilarious part is that the first time he did this (we found out by the smell and his strange immobility), his "work" was visible underneath his clothes. It was at the same time extremely funny and disgusting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Kindness of (Shopping) Strangers

Two comments before today's post:
First, I hope you haven't missed my tribute to my grandfather yesterday. When not many people comment, I get the impression that nobody read...
Second, I really want to blog more often, but sometimes I feel that nobody's reading and that if I post more often, people will read even less [or even less people will read, whatever]-- but I think the opposite is true, no? I know that I should blog for me and not for any prospective readership, but for some reason I have a hard time internalizing that. Consequently, I have missed blogging about several things (like recording here things the boys say, little events from daily life that make me smile, etc.). I'll try to change my perspective on that, and this post is a beginning.

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Today I finally stopped putting off the trip to our wholesale club of choice, the one with the cheapest and best store brand diapers (yeah... I'm sick and tired of diapers and I'm aware that cloth is better, but... those are subjects for other posts), softest [store brand] wipes, cheap huge tubs of organic spring salad mix (organic produce is becoming very easy to find and relatively cheap too!), and other necessary things. I was getting ready to check out and actually reading a tabloid [how embarrassing! ;)] while I waited for my turn when I saw that the lady in front of me left a store coupon by the self-check out lane. I asked whether it was hers and if she needed it and she said she hadn't used it. It was a 5 dollars coupon for replacement water filters which we sorely needed but didn't want to buy without a coupon (as it turns out, we forgot to change our address at the club so our coupons are still mailed to our old house). She told me that I could have it and that today was actually the last day it could be used!

I happily headed back to get the filters and then remembered that I'd better buy dishwasher detergent. I have tried two brands of green detergents, but they're not cutting it because our dishwasher is old and not very good and our water is really hard, so the dishes only get satisfactorily cleaned with the powerful, toxic stuff :(. I was pondering my choices when two ladies waked into that aisle. One of them said to the other: "This brand is better and I have a coupon for it!" I was looking at this other brand [warning, loud commercial on this website], but influenced by her, I picked up the other detergent to read the label. She looked at me and asked: "Do you have a coupon?" When I answered "No" she promptly responded that she had an extra one and went to her cart to get it. I was beside myself and, while thanking her, I shared that this was the second coupon I was scoring that day! I thanked her again and said, "I guess this is my lucky day!" Well, at least for shopping it was. I left the store smiling at the kindness of strangers who helped me save US$ 7.25! :)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Remembering Grandpa José

Passos, as we used to call my maternal grandfather José, would be 105 years old if he was alive today. He died in 1986, eight years after my paternal grandfather, so he is the grandfather that I remember best. My mom was his youngest daughter, so my brother and I were much younger than all our maternal cousins (it was the opposite in my dad's family, I was among the oldest) and as the youngest grandkids of a retired grandpa we received lots of attention from him and our grandma. When we lived in Curitiba from when I was four to eight years old we saw them every weekend -- they took my and my brother to the park -- or more often. After we moved away we would come visit and stay at their apartment several times a year(this apartment merits a post on its own and I also have photos of the building!). They visited our home yearly and all our vacations (generally a week or so at the beach) were spent with them. [The photo on the left is a document photo, that's why he's so serious].

The most memorable vacation ever was a road trip my parents, grandparents, brother, and I took to Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile in January 1979 when I was 7.5 years old. On grandpa's birthday we were driving close to the the Andes mountains on our way from Argentina to Chile when, at a turn of the road, we saw the Aconcagua, the highest peak of the Andes. We stopped to take a picture of Vô Passos and his snow white hair against the snow covered peak. I have to find this photo (maybe it's a slide) and scan it! We have footage of this whole trip on Super 8 film (not yet transfered to DVD). I watched it a few times during my childhood, but even without the film and the photos, I'll never forget this trip! (also worthy of its own post).

This is a photo of Vovô Passos and me from Christmas 1973 when I was two and a half years old. My mom was practically nine months pregnant with my brother at the time and her outfit was just like mine in this photo.
Grandpa was a fun guy to be around. He had these funny sayings and questions for us every time we met: "Are you yourself?" ("Você é você mesmo?") he'd ask, and we'd laugh. He put us on his knee or foot and played horse with us and also played some (untranslatable) word games. He was an energetic guy, funny, caring, and full of life. He feared death, though, and was obsessed with it, checking the obituary of the church magazine every month and saying that soon his name would be there too. It was pretty sad when he had a stroke not long after the big party celebrating his 80th birthday in 1983. He had forgotten to take some of his blood thinning medication and nobody noticed. He recovered almost unscathed, but his sense of time and his awareness of the world changed considerably. He still remembered all of us and even people from the past that he hadn't seen in years, but he couldn't really have meaningful conversations and didn't know what day of the week it was, for example. This ended up as a blessing because his obsession with death disappeared. It wasn't easy to care for him (his vitality actually increased in certain "areas" and my poor grandmother had to lock herself up in another bedroom every night -- you know what I mean, right?), but his death was fairly quick and peaceful when it came three years later.

My brother was born only three days after grandpa's birthday, so we always celebrated their birthdays together. Here grandpa is 76 and my brother is 4 or 5 (1978? The candle count must be wrong for either grandpa or my brother):

Look at my smile :)

I want to end with a photo of my grandfather when he was younger. I think he must have been 20-22 years old in the photo below since he and grandma got married in 1922 and my uncle Paulo (isn't he a cutie? He's still very handsome) was probably born a year or two later.
I miss Vô Passos, but I'm glad I have so many fond memories of him as well as many mementos like photos and movies that I can pass on to my sons.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Look What Happened Because of Two Unseasonably Warm Days!

I got all excited about the really warm weather yesterday and today (today's temperatures were almost record highs for this time of year, we had 66F [18 C]), and, prompted by the need to do laundry and my husband's suggestion, I decided to wash lots of clothes and take the rare opportunity to let them dry outside during winter. I washed two loads (light/mixed and dark colors) yesterday:
(photo before I hanged the dark colors)And two more (towels, sheets, tablecloths, and more clothes) today, but I also had to hang yesterday's clothes again since most were slightly damp. That was not wise.

Look what happened:
Yeah, I completely destroyed my clothesline. One of my favorite things about this house. I thought it could still be fixed, but K thinks it cannot. I can only hope a new one is not too expensive. I guess we could keep the pole and only get the top "umbrella like" top.

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Good thing I have a nice little helper who makes me smile. His older brother made me smile even more when he went outside to bring the trash receptacle and came back to the door empty-handed and saying that he'd let his little brother do it this time -- lovely (since most of the time he's provoking the little one):

Note that the receptacle is bigger than him.

And now I have to fold all those clothes and put them away, the worst part of doing laundry (a task I otherwise thoroughly enjoy). But before I get to that, I have to cut my husband's hair.

P.S. This weekend I cooked dinner for around 30 Brazilian friends at our home. It was a lot of work, but thankfully I had many helpers. Everyone enjoyed it and we also got to play the Brazilian brand of pictionary afterwards (I hadn't played it in a long time). I can't wait to have more events with lots of people -- they're one of the reasons why we bought this roomy single house.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Quickest Aging Ever :) -- An Update on My Grandma

(I know... three posts in a day is a bit too much. I actually wanted to write a fourth, but I'll keep that one for another time.)

I learned today from my mom that there's a possibility that my paternal grandmother may be older than her birth-certificate declares she is. The source is not entirely reliable merely for the fact that he's so much younger than her and was not around when she was born, but her younger brother (only a few of years older than my dad, his nephew) claims that grandma's father only got her birth certificate when she was already two years old. If this is true, she'll be almost 98 years old and not 96 on her birthday later this month.
Well, it doesn't really matter if she's 96 or 98, it's still a great feat to be alive at such an age. We're elated that she recovered remarkably well and what saved her life was the fact that she was at a private hospital, the best in the city, receiving top care. It's going to be quite hard for the family to pay all the hospital bills (thankfully six of her eight children are splitting the costs), but if it means she will suffer less and die more peacefully and comfortably, it's entirely worth it. Last week, after the results of her tomography were in, her doctors aspirated over a quart (one liter) of water from her lungs and she began to feel much better. She's been home for a few days now and the physical therapy and nebulizer treatments are keeping her breathing normal. I wonder now when the next problem will come and I just pray that she doesn't suffer. I wish the boys and I could see her again, but that may not happen. Well, who knows? She may live until she's 100!

P.S. Linton is sick again with a fever. We're not out of the woods yet. :(

Driving With a Purpose

I just wanted to record here that last night I drove almost 100 miles (96, to be precise) to NJ and back by myself to do three things:

1) Most important: pick up our cat Blues at a friend's house. I just don't feel fully at home if he's not here.2) Buy some Brazilian food items at a Portuguese grocery store (which happens to close at 9 p.m. every night, so I'm always rushing to get there and out).

3) Fill the tank with cheaper (by 20 cents) gas.

I really want to write a post about how in 2006 the need to drive a lot and very long distances changed my attitude towards driving and I also want to create an original meme about driving. Meanwhile, though, I wanted to let you know about this random incident.

Fun Art Movement Quiz

I saw this quiz at Scrivenings and just had to play. It's been a long time since I've done a quiz too.

The results were soooo predictable! :) And so entirely true because I've been in love with Impressionism (not only in painting, but also in music and the equivalent literary school, Symbolism) since I was a young girl. What art movement are you?

You Are Impressionism

You think the world is quite beautiful, especially if you look at it in new and interesting ways.

You tend to focus on color and movement in art.

For you, seeing the big picture is much more important than recording every little detail.

You can find inspiration anywhere... especially from nature.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sick Family & What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home - Sponsored Review

I forgot to tell you about this, but most everyone in the family got sick during our stay at my in-laws'. My MIL was recovering from a cold when we got there and my boys were coughing a bit. I guess the close proximity motivated the transmission of germs. The first one to get a little sick (runny nose) was Linton. Then Kelvin woke up one night with an earache and had a low-grade fever for a while. Next my mother-in-law started getting sick again quickly followed by my two nephews who had a terrible cough and some fever. When we left, MIL was miserable and yesterday my husband started getting sick (I also heard from MIL that BIL is sick too). K had to miss work today because he was feeling very sick, feverish, coughing, and weak -- classic flu symptoms. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't get sick too. I have only a cough and my chest was a bit congested some days ago which probably happened because I ate quite a bit of dairy food and my allergies always act up when I do so. Anyway, it's very tough to avoid catching colds and flu at this time of the year and I'm just bracing myself and hoping for the best.

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For a while now I've been receiving cool products from Mom Central Consulting to review in the blog, but the past six months have been so chaotic that I've been a bit delayed in posting any reviews, so, without further ado, here's the first one (more will follow), which has a lot to do with the scenario that I just described with our family (that's why it was scheduled for this time of the year).

Heidi Murkoff, the co-author of this best-seller and others in the series, was sponsored by this company to write the free brochure What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home. It is short, but pretty comprehensive. In the first part Murkoff addresses the main areas of the house and how to keep them clean. I particularly liked the boxes about toys and food which fall on the floor and the lists of objects that should and should not be shared. There's also a section about food safety, including bottles, breastmilk, and formula. The second part is about healthy habits in the home and "out and about," including a section on child care centers. I think this guide is quite useful, particularly to people/families who may not be familiar with all these concepts (I think this is the primary aim of Murkoff's non-profit foundation). The guide is has accessible, friendly language, but covers the most important aspects of the links between good hygiene and health.

The only thing I missed in this guide is that I think it would be useful to mention that anti-bacterial soaps aren't very helpful since they promote the development of strains of bacteria that become resistant to treatment. It's important (in my opinion) to emphasize that using plain soap and/or alcohol based hand cleaners (which are both mentioned in the guide) is better than using anti-bacterial soap.

The guide can be downloaded here or it can be mailed to you or your friends for free as well.
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Disclosure: This review was sponsored by Mom Central and I will receive an Amazon gift certificate as compensation.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year Resolutions? Nah, Not Me!

First, Happy New Year everyone!!!

I really wanted to have posted on the first day of the year, but we got home from Massachusetts at 10:30 p.m. and for once in my life I had the sense of going to bed instead of going online. :) The fact that the house thermostat had been on 50 for the past 10 days didn't help either, so the best place was in bed. Now that the house is comfortably warm again, which for us is 63 F since oil is expensive (it's been a mighty relief coming home after spending 10 days on a 75-79 stifling apartment, that's for sure ;) I can resume my computer habit, or should I say, addiction?

Now, on to talk about today's subject: "New Year Resolutions? Nah, Not Me!"
Well... that has been my attitude for many years now -- why make any resolutions if I know some of them cannot be kept? I've already said here that I'm a "habit adverse" person, so I know that certain resolutions that involve routine-related things such as "exercising every week" are just out for me. I still look ahead to the year before me and think of various things that I want to accomplish. In the past 3 years, for example, the recurring wish/desire/resolution has been "finishing the dissertation, defending it, and getting the Ph.D." This continues to be the main one this year (see how I haven't delivered it?). It's gotta be now or never, that's for sure.

Just for fun, though, I decided to list some "resolutions" here anyway. First, the highly superfluous ones that I CANNOT even dream of making because I'd certainly keep them at all costs and thus would do nothing useful in life:
1) Putting all or most of our (thousands of) printed photos into scrapbook type albums (without most of the scrapbooking "crap" just with lots of cropping and some nice papers and a few stickers sprinkled here and there -- that's how I like my albums, but that's another subject).
2) Blogging more often and more openly. Believe it or not, I'd like to write more about certain things that I just hold back for some reason. This one may happen, but slowly and not as often since I cannot feed this addiction too much.
3) Organizing all our books with a library style software or online. That's so highly superfluous, though, that I won't even think about it ;)

Serious ones that I'm likely not to keep or that aren't easy to accomplish, but that I'd still like to work on. I want to improve in these areas as much as possible so I want to record them here:
1) Cooking more often and even more healthily than I have been cooking. We're already "ovo-lacto vegetarians," but I'd like to eat more organic and unprocessed foods and more fruts and vegetables. (The CSA that we're joining this Spring may just get that one going during Summer and Fall). I'm sorry to say that I have been seriously lacking in this area. I have tons of cookbooks and I enjoy cooking and generally do it well, but in the past few months I've just been completely lacking energy to do it.
2) Helping more at home and "keeping house" better (I'm terrible at it) so we can keep it more organized and cleaner. That way my wonderful husband K is not overloaded since he does more than his share around the house while working full time and being a stupendous father to the boys. (Thanks hon!)
3) Joining aYMCA and exercising there with the whole family (we may accomplish this one).
4) Reading more (finishing the dissertation may help) and also writing more (academic or creative things) and try to get stuff published.
5) Making more friends and spending time with people even though our hectic lives often prevent us from doing so.
6) Going hiking and doing more outdoor activities with the boys, cycling in the bike trail and other things.

Well, I'm sure I could add more and more items to the list (like the things we really want and need to do in the house -- I'll do that later), but then, again, I don't like making resolutions, so that's more than enough! Have you made any resolutions this year?