Saturday, October 31, 2009

Soaking in the Fall

I've never seen a wettest fall... and a warmer one it's hard to come by as well. I'm not complaining -- I can take the rain, the constant drizzle and the wetness as long as it's comparably warm as it's been lately here in the Philadelphia area.
Last Tuesday we had a field trip with our cyber school to a local apple orchard. It was drizzling and muddy, but we still had a good time. It helped that they had covered hay(less) rides. And their apple cider... hmmm... I have to go back there again this week to buy some more! After stocking on cider and buying some more yummy cider donuts we headed for a wet afternoon of fun at one of our favorite places on earth, Longwood Gardens.*

Here are a bunch of photos for you...

At the orchard:
Puddles galore! (Linton's snow boots got soaked, he needs rain boots):Making a scarecrow (we got to bring it home):

"Making" apple cider (the orchard's is the best!):
At Longwood
The boys played for half an hour with these wheelbarrows and the pumpkins, they had a great (wet) time!This is the lovely display of gourds at the Heritage House:

We had a fun day, even if the boys got soaking wet!

* I was just thinking that I could have a photo blog titled Longwood through the seasons, or something. I have thousands and thousands of photos from that place since 2004. My boys literally grew up going there almost weekly (Linton was 2 months old when we went for the first time and got a season pass). I'll miss it intensely when we move! :-(

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Someday I'll Want a Kindle/ Questions for Users + Possible Academic/Teaching Use

I just found out that I really want a Kindle, or "will want" as I say in the title. I'll have to wait quite a while, though... because I just cannot afford to buy the books right now, but hopefully someday I will.

It was a fun discovery to know that I want one, though! :-) I have NOT adopted the ipod because I can't stand ear plugs and I don't like the teenage-like isolation of listening to music privately anyway (I did plenty of that in the "Walkman era" ages ago). I'm an "ambient music" kind of gal and I'm trying to infuse that on my sons as well (they already have access to ipods, though and use them once in a while, but generally they prefer music blaring from the stereo and I don't mind one bit!).* And I don't care for smart phones either, but I think I'd really enjoy having a kindle.

How I found out about this newly discovered wish? I had never checked it out, but I get periodic emails from Amazon and they just sent one telling us that now the Kindle can download books wirelessly all over the world. Isn't that exciting? So I went on to read more about it and was fascinated by all its capacities.

Some random questions for any readers that have one (I know Anjali does, I don't know about anyone else):
  • The Amazon description mentions that one can read blogs in the kindle -- how so? (I know they have a bare bones browser) I suppose it's only the most famous blogs... I wonder how one could make one's blog content available to Kindle.... Can one read any other sites? Is the content of newspapers and magazines paid? How so?
  • Doesn't it feel kind of "wasteful" having to purchase every single book you want to read instead of borrowing it from the library or a friend? I don't think this is a concern just yet because only a very small and privileged portion of the population is adopting Kindle anyway (or maybe I'm wrong about that). I make this comment because I enjoy buying used books, for example, and there can't be such a thing with Kindle. UNLESS one were allowed to share a book with someone. I bet that's not the case. Booo.
(I know it's the "cheapo," the crazily thrifty personality in me that's thinking these thoughts or perhaps the anti-consumerist in me -- I'd love Dawn's perspective on this, I'm sure she'd have thought provoking things to say!)

I think that what pisses me off the most about Kindle is that if I already have a book (and I do have lots of books), I'd have to purchase it again to have in Kindle, right? That alone would deter me from wanting it. Unless older books were to be slightly cheaper.
  • As an academic in a literary field who has to do close analysis of books and texts in general I can see endless possibilities in the use of Kindle -- I mean, you read the book and then if you can't remember a passage to read to your class you just search for it, it's fantastic!! Now, do they even give teacher's complimentary copies for professors who use Kindle? Probably not, although they should. Has anyone out there used Kindle for teaching?
  • I wonder how much translated literature (into English) they have available for Kindle (probably next to nothing, particularly from Brazil). Given that this was the topic of my dissertation, I'd be very interesting in investigating that!
  • Oh, and most importantly, do they have books for Kindle in other languages??
I'm sure I have tons of other questions, but these are enough for now. I guess I'm not totally into this gadget yet mostly because of my conflicting feelings about it. Gadgets are typical products of a wildly capitalistic society that wants to invent and market newer things all the time so that people spend, spend, spend, and a few lucky ones profit and profit. Blah. And one would think that literature was a "noble art" that had nothing to do with consuming, but that's not really the case. I guess it's the most consumer-oriented kind of art, literature and music too... But that's another story.

* K did give me a small portable loudspeaker/player for the ipod for my birthday, but it does not charge the player, which actually is attached inside the thing, so if you want to listen to something else you've got to get it out, oh, and it uses regular batteries. Needless to say I'm not using that either. :-) I need a real pluggable stereo with an ipod dock. I know we can't afford that either... blah. You know, I sound really really whiny (and I'm a terrible awful whiner) -- my sincere apologies for that -- but this not affording things IS getting on my nerves. I should be working, not staying home with the boys although I love it so much. BLAH!!!

The Cat, The Car, The... Can this please stop?

So our cat had been vomiting for three days and after worrying about him quite a bit, yesterday evening I just went and took him to the vet. Sigh. A thorough examination (including the removal of a huge tick on his neck -- yikes! -- it had only been there a day, I think, we had noticed it), IV fluids, penicilin (in the IV), antiacid shot, prescription antiacid to take home, and a hundred and twenty three dollars later, I brought him back home and he's been feeling much better since. When poor K saw the bill he said we have to give the cat away (I hope not!).

And the car (the old, but beloved and trusty Honda Odyssey minivan) needs four new tires plus some work in the rear brakes or something and it could be upwards of 500 dollars. We can't give the car away, though... we really need it :-(.

Needless to say, we don't have the money for any of these things but they still need(ed) to be taken care of. So, yeah, it's not just gloomy weather, but also gloomy thoughts of never being "financially healthy" again... And just this week K and I were talking again that if we put the house up for sale next year we will have to redo the remaining two bathrooms (sigh some more). Of course we still have credit card debt from the other renovations and we certainly cannot afford this, but it will have to be done somehow. We won't give the house back to the bank, that's for sure! And if we really need to sell it and move, hopefully we will!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flying Away Home

My parents are flying back to Brazil right now. It's a beautiful day to fly and hopefully they'll enjoy it, in spite of the fact that day flights are just long and boring... In 43 days we'll be flying too. The boys are excited, they can't wait.

We had a good couple of days together, I threw my parents a small surprise party on Friday night because it's my mom's birthday on Wednesday and I thought she needed some cheering up. It worked out beautifully -- she didn't suspect a thing! The weather was also very warm, which was nice for them. Now we have to work hard this next month of school so the boys and I can be ready for our trip coming up.

Hopefully in a month we'll be together with my father and mother-in-law for Thanksgiving -- it seems that the "soap opera" that is his employment situation is finally coming down to an end and they'll ship their belongings back to Brazil. :-( We'll be sad to see them go, but at least the uncertainty will end and they'll begin anew there.

OK, we're late for a birthday party, so more later.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Uncle + This Country's Health Care System = Despair & Outrage

This is a photo of my uncle, back in 2006, taken by Kelvin (who was four years old at the time). His brain tumor was probably already forming by then, right behind the hand that's touching his forehead. My handsome, good humored uncle, one of three of my dad's seven siblings that I'm close to and interact with regularly.

Uncle Oseas has been home from the rehabilitation facility since this past Monday. Not because he's all recovered from his July 23 major brain surgery, due to a benign meningioma, but because he was literally kicked out of the facility. A man who cannot yet stand on his own feet, walk, get into or out of bed, or use the bathroom, sent home. Because the health insurance company, Kaiser Permanente, deemed that it would no longer pay for his rehab. (My uncle is also on Medicare, but they also have a policy with Kaiser to help complement Medicare -- I have no idea how these things work).

Not only that, but they denied any at-home help, such as the 25h of nursing care a week and 3 sessions of physical theraphy they had "promised" when he was discharged from the facility. They said that he seems to be permanently disabled and that there's nothing that can be done for him (as if one could recover from brain surgery in 3 months -- it took Jill Bolte Taylor eight years!! I'm reading her awesome book Stroke of Insight right now).

Yeah, health care my foot!! There are no words to express the outrage and despair one feels in a situation like that. It's just so absurdly unfair and greedy that in this country of yours (yeah, I'm glad it's not mine*) the care of the sick and dying is a FOR PROFIT affair. It's Michael Moore's Sicko all over again, only this time it's in my family!! And what do we do?!?!

And to top it off, like a rotten cherry on top of a putrid cake, my parents have to go back to Brazil on Sunday. Not that they could do anything, poor them. Changing my uncle's soiled "diapers" several times a day, cooking for him, feeding him, trying to get him outside a bit, breaking their already fragile backs (dad is 74 and mom 69) to try to put him in the hospital bed. No, they really cannot put up with that, so it's good timing they have to go back (they already paid fines to postpone their tickets for a month). They're heartbroken, though.

Despair. My mom and my aunt finding one another awake in the silent and darkened house at four in the morning, sleepless, to weep, and weep, and weep together, some more, because what else is there to do?

Of course my aunt is appealing the insurance company's decision. We know that this decision was the result of one lousy and aggravated physical therapist's report. I understand it's a tough job, those of you who do any kind of therapy, but couldn't a therapist be more compassionate and try to learn about the specific brain surgery and its consequences before jumping to disastrous conclusions? The guy, frustrated that my uncle wouldn't learn the daily exercise routine (not that he wasn't improving a teeny tiny bit daily), wrote him off. Said that he was not recovering at the expected rate.

And you know what insurance companies do to keep their PROFITS, right?! (sorry, I have to "scream," it's just beyond outrageous). They take any negative reports and turn them against the helpless patient, denying care right and left. It's part of their BUSINESS. People's lives and well-being are a business, folks, a business!!!

OK, I should stop writing this incendiary post. I just don't know how else to make the pain a little bit more bearable. My parents are driving back from Maryland this evening and we'll know a bit more. I know they won't be the same people I dropped off two months ago, though. They will be forever marked by the despair and outrage of these past days (the "care" of some positively careless nurse's aides at the facility was also very bad, one young woman let my uncle fall from bed -- onto his healing broken arm -- a couple of times!!) .

I wish things could be different. I wish my uncle's doctors had detected this earlier. I wish my uncle's health wasn't so compromised (he also has diabetes and high blood pressure, on top of the brain problems), I wish there was a perfect facility for him to go to... I just wish.

All I know is that yesterday a lady (a nurse?) came to evaluate his situation and she said that he's in no condition to stay home -- yeah, that's really hard to conclude, no?). Today another person was coming, so, hopefully, something will be done. Uncle is taking 16 different medications and my mom said she trembled fearfully yesterday when she was trying to check if all the correct medications were in their little boxes to be administered in the course of the day. Besides, when he came home, three of the medications were missing and his blood pressure was sky high on Tuesday morning. They controlled it giving him my dad's blood pressure.

So, yeah... I'll update when I know more, but this is an unfinished story. Hopefully, it won't have a bitter ending, like the beginning.

* It's in situations like these that I start seriously thinking whether I really want to be a citizen of this place.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trains, Boys & Blogger Meet Up (Belated Post)

It's been almost a month now, but my motto regarding photo sharing is "better late than never!" so here you go. My apologies to Jeannette for the delay!

On warm, beautiful Thursday (Sept. 23) I sent a last minute invitation over gmail chat for Jeannette to come over with her boys and she did!! Ellis had a blast playing with the boys' largest train layout yet (it's still there a month later)......and the mamas had a good (if too brief) time chatting while running after Marlowe so he wouldn't fall down the stairs too many times or bite all the apples in the fruit stand... ;-)
Look at that cute boy's smile!

Happiest of all for me was the fact that I finally had my first blogger meet up since 2007... I can't believe I didn't get to meet any other blogger (not in my family) in person all of last year :-(. The first time I actually met Jeannette was back in 2007 at the Arboretum*. (I just remember that in 2008 I did go see Jo once).

Here's slideshow of the Picasa Album that I made with all photos of the trains and boys so I could share them with my guest and her family (and my readers):
Trains and Blogger Meet-up/ Visit!
*Reading the 2007 post reminds me that I have to try and get together again with another local dear blogger-friend and her sons -- Andi/Cloudscome.

P.S. I think Dawn won!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vote for Dawn!

One of my all time favorite bloggers Dawn, of this woman's work was nominated and became a finalist of the Best Adoption Blog category of the Mommy Blogs award over at the bump. If you want to know more about her, Dawn has (impressively, for me) synthesized her experience of over five years in her Our Adoption Story post. And, even if you don't know her blog, please vote (over and over again) over here!

I started reading her blog five years ago and I've learned just so much about adoption and also blogging. Dawn is so open and writes so well, I really want to be here when I grow up (just kidding, we're nearly the same age. What I really want is to meet her face to face one day!!!).

If you need a few more reasons to vote for her, check out Jenna's great post, brilliantly (if idealistically ;-) titled A Vote for Dawn is a Vote for Change (Jenna's the one who nominated Dawn for this award).

Gotta go now... I hope you saw my earlier post on Where the Wild Things Are.

Bilingual Dreamer

I don't want to forget this, so I have to blog it, "Baby Book" style, like Dawn...

On Wednesday morning when we were waking up and Linton was in our bed as usual (he often comes in the middle of the night or in early morning), I began to share some of the crazy dreams I'd had that night. That's when Linton said (in Portuguese):
I had two dreams in Portuguese and one in English.
I was very happy with his bilingual dreaming and I'm sure it's a direct consequence of the weekend spent in the company of our Brazilian friends in Massachusetts. English has become his main language and I was glad that he'd dreamed in Portuguese.

P.S. I also want to record a transfer that he did today (technically yesterday) when I was preparing a pizza for us to eat at lunchtime. I had stretched the dough and I was spreading sauce and cheese. When I sprinkled oregano, he said:
Agora está olhando como uma pizza.
Which is literally in English "Now it looks like a pizza," but which in Portuguese doesn't make any sense and goes something like "Now it is looking the same way as a pizza would." The correct sentence in Portuguese (and which Kelvin immediately said when he heard me telling the story to his dad this evening) would be "Agora está parecendo uma pizza." To look like = parecer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are (& other books) in the old Please Touch Museum

What saddened me the most about the closing of the old Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is that it had a whole section (approximately 1/8th of the small museum) whose theme was three of Maurice Sendak's books: Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There (which must be one of the creepiest children's book ever, particularly from a mother's point of view -- it has indirectly to do with depression [possibly PPD]). Here's a PTM blog post explaining a bit about the exhibit and its history. As a passionate children's book fan and scholar (I taught WtWTA a few times and wrote a paper about ItNK), this exhibit was one of my favorite parts of the museum.

I decided to write this "photo post" because of the imminent release (tomorrow!) of Spike Jonze's version of Where the Wild Things Are (check out a great post on the film over at Food for Thought, my friend Caroline's blog). I have tears in my eyes just from watching the trailer... I will most certainly buy the DVD so the boys will be able to watch the movie in a few years (they are very sensitive and don't watch longer films yet or go to the movies). HBO also premiered Spike Jonze's documentary on Maurice Sendak last night -- great article about it from the LA Times.

I don't have a "panoramic" photo of the exhibit, but it was in the right backside of the museum, adjacent to the famous SEPTA bus exhibit:
Max's bed (Aug. 06):
The bed had some Max and Wild Things dolls one could play with and I'm sure those sketches on the wall are Maurice Sendak's self portraits. Across from this bed there was a chest of drawers and a hanger with various sizes of Max's wolf costume for the kids to wear (you can see the hanger and suit(s) behind Kelvin in the bus photo above, which also portrays my dad). My boys never wanted to put them on (they're not into dress up games).

The boat (Sept. 07, Kelvin was 5.5):Two other boat angles (Aug. 06, Kelvin was 4)

One of the Wild Things (Sept. 07):
In the Night Kitchen area (Aug. 06):There was a climbing tunnel (a carton of milk) and a slide that the boys enjoyed. Here's an action shot:The tube filled with "milk" when we used a crank on the side of the giant bottle.

The only photo I have of the Outside Over There corner (Aug. 06), which had the gazebo from the book (to the left of the photo). It was a place with that wagon to sit on, benches to read and bookshelves nearby, including a big fixed folio of Sendak's books and some dolls to put to bed (creepy thing to do in the context of the book):
Oh, I just found out that my mom took another photo of this space in 2007:
The gazebo is actually to the right of the wagon. There's also a "fireplace"/bookshelf and a table and chairs (I'd forgotten). I think this is the space where Story Time used to be held.

There's a lot I could say about Sendak and his works, but I've already taken many hours to write this post. For the locals, you can visit the Rosenbach Museum which has a Maurice Sendak room and special Where the Wild Things Are related events this very weekend! (I'll try to go).

58, 57, 56... Shiver!

Conversion to Celsius degrees: 14, 13.8, 13 C

Those are the temperatures in the three levels of our house right now -- warmer in the ground level and colder upstairs in the bedrooms. We are about to turn the heat on (oil, baseboard) for the season -- K wanted to put it off until the 15th. We did turn it on briefly upstairs on Monday night when we came home from the city and it was 58 F. It's incredible to notice the difference 3-4 degrees make -- when it got to 61-2, I already felt much more comfortable.

K and I were discussing the setting up of the thermostats (luckily we have three, one for each level) and the maximum temperature we're planning for is 64. Shiver again. No wonder I don't like fall or winter at all (especially from a few years to now) -- we cannot afford to live comfortably in the cold weather (and we know we're also polluting the environment while heating the house... blah).

I can't wait for out trip to Brazil!!!

Flu-ish Boy

Kelvin woke up quite sick today. He didn't even get up properly, he climbed down from his top bunk, came downstairs for half a minute and went right back to (our) bed. He slept until 10, when I fed him some breakfast, then until 2, when he had a little bit of lunch. He seemed a bit feverish (our thermometer needs a new battery and I cannot leave the house with a sick child, can I?), so I gave him Tylenol at around 11:30 (time to give him more, I guess), but so far he has just been resting. And coughing a little, with a runny nose. He asked me to bring him downstairs so he could watch PBS's The Electric Company at 5 and now he's napping in the couch, poor boy.

I guess we shouldn't go anywhere in the next few days so we don't get anyone else sick, but then, again, with the never ending rain, who would want to do that? (too bad I need to buy some groceries, they'll have to wait until K gets back home). I hope he's all better by next week and that -- most important of all -- I don't fall sick since K will be gone from Sunday to Thursday for a conference! Can you imagine a sick mother alone with two boys? I hope I don't get to live through that...

I also wish I could know whether he has is the H1N1 flu or just the seasonal one... so I could make a decision about immunizations (they're supposed to get the shots because of their "asthma"). I think we won't get the shots this year... (only I did last year, for some reason, maybe the fear outlined above).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Really, Trader Joe's, Really!?!

Taking my cue from Seth & Amy and their Really!?! SNL segment, I want to express my incredulity regarding a product sold by one of my all-time-favorite stores, Trader Joe's. Maybe I shouldn't be writing this post because I do really like the store, but, I thought that this product was quite inadequate nutritionally.

The thing is, I haven't drank milk in years (only hot chocolate once in a while), and I've gotten the kids used to soy milk since they were around twelve months old, in hopes that they would like it (I clearly and unfortunately don't!). Because of that, I'm always trying to find a non-dairy milk-like beverage that I like. No luck so far. The only soy milk I ever liked was the refrigerated Vitasoy which disappeared from grocery stores years ago -- their site still indicates it's sold in some places, but I haven't found it. I also enjoy the new So Delicious coconut based milk-like beverage (this is the manufacturer, but the product site is down), but it's just so expensive I cannot afford to use it for my family. :-(

So a couple of weeks ago I was in Trader Joe's buying my sons' soy milk and I decided to try this new beverage, made of whole grains:I couldn't believe my eyes, though, when I went to open it some days later and saw this in the nutrition facts:Really!?! No protein? In a whole cup? Aren't proteins one of the main reasons (if not the main reason) people drink milk or milk substitute beverages? At least it's one of my main reasons, to add more protein to my diet, since I don't eat meat (and calcium when the product is. I looked at the list of ingredients (click to enlarge):
...and seeing that brown rice was the second one, I went to get some of the bags of brown rice that I had in my pantry. It turns out that 1/4 of a cup of brown rice has between 3-4g of protein. Here are the labels of brown jasmine rice (from Trader's too) and plain long grain brown rice (from WalMart) -- click to enlarge:

Then today I picked up my bag of quinoa, another of the ingredients (although probably in trace form because it's one of the last ones in the list -- still prominently placed on the front label, though, together with amaranth and millet, both very rich in protein), and quinoa has 6g of protein in 1/4 of a cup:
How much brown rice or any of these other cereals can be found in a cup of this beverage exactly? Almost nothing, I guess. It is a very thin drink and it tastes pleasantly enough, but... I was more than disappointed by its serious nutritional deficiency. Does Trader Joe's really expect me to go back and buy this zero protein milk substitute again? Really!?! 'Cause I just won't!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Pianist

So far so good... or, should I say excellent?

I'm thrilled to report that Kelvin is thoroughly enjoying learning the piano, probably much more than I did 31 years ago. He's also advancing quite fast and I really enjoy helping him practice. He plays with a CD and there's also a duet part for another pianist to accompany him, so yesterday I did and it felt so great playing piano with my son!

I told him right then that one of my dreams was playing some pieces for four hands with one of my sons someday and I went to get the CD with Brahms's Sixteen Waltzes for four hands (which I played with my teacher in my last recital) and played my favorites to him. I can tell he will be as excited as I am to play them with me someday! And then, perhaps he can play duets with his brother too...

Note on the photo: He's playing a "pseudo-Chinese" song on the black keys which requires him to use the damper pedals. He loves that, obviously!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Day that Wasn't

So, yesterday just wasn't the day I wanted it to be because when I wrote my post I didn't know that my friends had to return their rental car by 4 pm in Boston, which rendered the day basically useless... :-( That, and a botched trip to Newport, RI (I stopped on the way for them to go to Best Buy and what was supposed to be a quick purchase of a memory stick turned out into 1h15 min wait -- thankfully the four kids had a DVD to watch in the car), made the last moments with them a little... off. But it was still good to spend the weekend with them. The kids loved every minute they spent together. I think we're visiting them as soon as we get to Brazil in December (before they travel to New Zealand to visit my brother -- this friend happens to be my brother's brother-in-law).

After cleaning my in-laws' apartment (including laundering all bed linens and towels) we had a great and swift trip back home (less than 5 hours, from MA to PA). The boys slept like angels (exhausted little things that they were from sleeping very little all weekend) and K and I had napped in the afternoon before leaving (that's why we didn't leave until 7:30 pm), so we were awake and talked all the way. There's nothing like longish trips to talk and talk, I just love it. If we go a long time before one I feel sorely the need so we can spend some significant time together and reconnect.

I'm glad to be home, but not looking forward to the rest of the week. Today the boys had a holiday from the cyber school and we took advantage of that to go to Philadelphia and hit, even if very briefly, the Please Touch Museum (2h30) and the Franklin Institute (we were there for 1h10 min and mostly went to the Planetarium) while we still are members of both.

And now, after checking on everyone in my blogroll, I'm going to bed early. Ha! It took me 10 minutes flat to write this. Phew!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sleep Deprived in Massachusetts

That's how we were on Friday (when we left PA at 3 am to drive to MA), and yesterday (when, again, we went to bed at nearly 3 am on Friday night, having been almost 24h awake)... I've just had a great night of sleep, however, which is good, for this promises to be a long day...

You see, at least once a year we find a way to spend some "quality" time with two of our best friends and their children and we usually spend the better part of one or two nights talking, catching up on the year (or more) since we last saw each other. We see them more often when we go to Brazil and we spend a couple of nights at their home. They've visited us three times here in the U.S. in the past 5 years, but never with the children (well, on the very first visit we were both pregnant with our second sons, actually).

Our children (as is the case with several of our closest friends in Brazil) are the same age - Kelvin is one month and two days younger than B and Linton is one two months minus two days older than L. Back in 2006, I actually posted a photo of Kelvin and B (in one of my favorite posts ever) and I think I mentioned that he decided, back when he was 4 years old, that he's going to marry her someday (I think he's still holding on to that decision, that steadfast boy of mine)... so, our friends and I were very excited when they planned their very first trip to the U.S. with the kids.

They came from Brazil to Boston to meet my friend's twin sister's newborn daughter and in the end weren't able to change their ticket to include a weekend in Philadelphia at our house :-(. So, we obviously had to travel here to spend time with them, and the unfortunate situation with my parents-in-law allowed us to spend the weekend at their empty apartment together.

My sons have woken up and so have my friends, so I have to go, but I'll be back... I think this will be a lovely Sunday!

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Allergist

(this is one of the "tying loose ends" posts I mentioned previously)

First, I have to preamble this (hopefully) brief post by saying that I can't stand the way health care is in this country and I just dread going to the doctor here in the U.S. It's just so impersonal, so perfunctory, so... I don't know... negative somehow. 5 minute visits with the OB throughout two pregnancies (I didn't know I could have tried to have seen midwives in town and didn't have to use the university clinic, more here), also 5 minute-long well child visits every year (we did have a most wonderful pediatrician during our 2.5 years with Kelvin in Massachusetts). I like the family doctor I selected for myself last year and the gynecologist I went to twice already is not bad... but, I was pretty impressed with the allergist and, considering my previous experiences, this was quite surprising to me!

Leaving the allergy "torture session" aside, the questioning that the allergist did prior to thoroughly examining the boys was quite impressive. He insisted on talking about each boy separately (we moms tend to just talk about both, going back and forth) and asked everything about their births and first months of life and I -- knowing full well that allergists are a rare breed of medical professional that probably really knows about value of breastfeeding -- was able to brag most happily about our extended breastfeeding experiences! I was positively impressed at the length of the questioning. He did a physical examination of the boys and was able to talk and relate to them better than the "head" pediatrician in our practice does. Then he not only handed me the prescriptions perfunctorily as most doctors do, but he went over each boy's "action plan." We are supposed to see him again six weeks after the previous appointment (which reminds me that I have to call and schedule it, right?). The only problem was that the whole thing took us nearly two hours!!! And we missed Kelvin's very first piano lesson (that's another "tying loose ends" post coming up) because of that.

In any case, the allergist gets a thumbs up! Now if only he or I could take away whatever allergies the boys (and I) have, that's be great... :-(

Friday, October 02, 2009

Rio 2016 Olympics!!! Viva o Brasil!!!

I'd heard something on NPR last night about the disappointment of Chicago's candidacy as host city of the 2016 Summer Olympic games and how politicians and pundits had already been criticizing president Obama because of that, deeming his trip to Copenhagen to defend the candidacy a(nother) failure (this criticism is patently ridiculous in my point of view, but what can we do if now all people do in this country is find any excuse they have to criticize him...). In any case, I knew in the back of my mind that Rio de Janeiro was a candidate, but I had no idea that the decision was going to be made today.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out about Rio's victorious election when my parents arrived from Maryland this evening. They had watched part of the presentation and then the revelation of the winner city live in my aunt's house (they have a Brazilian channel in their satellite TV). I'm writing this post while listening/watching the presentation of the Brazilian candidacy done this morning in Copehagen (here). Non-Brazilians have no idea of what it means to Brazil to host not only the Olympics, but also the World Cup in 2014. It means that our country can finally have more visibility, more consideration from other countries of the world. Brazilians will feel part of something huge, worldwide, not only with a tiny delegation of participants but as proud, welcoming hosts. Moreover, Brazilian people are wonderful, warm, friendly, passionate people -- the slogan of the Rio 2016 campaign is Live your Passion! -- really, I don't say those things only because I'm Brazilian, just make some Brazilian friends or and you'll find out all about it. During the candidacy presentation earlier today they kept saying that there is a "new Brazil" and that the games will help prepare and celebrate this "new" country. Perhaps I should go back, shouldn't I? Well, more on that later.

Here's a beautiful video from the Brazilian Olympic committee about the city of Rio:

The official bid site has a nice video explaining the master plan of the games, but I'm also embbeding it here:

Well, I guess this is enough for now. Viva o Brasil!

ETA: How can I make the YouTube embedded videos the right size?

"A Girl Like Me" - Kiri Davis' Heartbreaking Documentary -- tying a loose end from way back :-)

Almost two years ago (Nov. 07) I posted about and also voted frantically in the Cosmo Girl film contest for Kiri Davis' short documentary A Girl Like Me (good quality viewing at the Media that Matters Film Festival website, lower quality YouTube). What I didn't know until today (talk about loose ends!) was that she actually won the contest (Cosmo Girl link, hopefully won't change -- there's no permalink available)!

I'm posting this today partly to jump in the bandwagon of the recent blog posts referring to the documentary that were motivated by Bitch PhD's recent post linking to a TV report that mentions Davis' film and interviews her (reacting posts include Anastasia's and Laura's at 11D).

One thing I wondered when I saw the posts, however (apart from thinking that I'd known about the film for a long time because of some people in my blogroll, most markedly Dawn), was why it took so long for the academic feminist blogosphere to come across Davis' short film. Race issues should concern us much more than they usually do, shouldn't they? Which reminds me that I should be reading and more and getting more involved with The Anti-Racist Parent blog/site. Well, that's it for now, or I'll never post this!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

First Steps in Writing

Since we're scanning most of the boys' work (to upload to the school website), it will be easy to share some of it here once in a while (as I've just done). This may not be that easy to see (click to enlarge), but the drawing is a green ball (the one that came in Linton's physical education kit). The star is a sticker that he wanted to include. This is the very first time he's attempting to write a "story."
The text is supposed to read:
I can play ball.
The ball is green.


My five-year-old just finished this art class assignment and he said,
"My masterpiece is finished."
I suppose I can see this as a good start to his artistic career!
Dried glue and crayon on black construction paper.