Friday, April 30, 2010

Great New Site/Online Community for Special Needs Families!

I just wanted to share a link (which will also be on my sidebar permanently from now on) to this wonderful and brand new website and online community/support group for families with special needs children.

The site was co-founded by one of my favorite mama writer bloggers Dawn and Julia (or "The other Julia Roberts") who blogs at Kidneys and Eyes. I'd recommend that you read Julia's posts at the new site, they're beautiful. Oh, and the girl in the banner below is her daughter Quinnlinn when she was little.

So, without further ado, please check out Support for Special Needs and register. There's a giveaway starting tomorrow, the launch date (the banner is not linkable just yet - sorry Dawn, I tried! ;-):

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kicked out of bed by the doorbell

At 8:30 am sharp the doorbell rang.

And immediately we knew that our realtor had given us the wrong date for the inspection. Three adults and three children to get ready and out the door. I didn't even get to drink water. Thankfully our friend was able to prepare a bottle of warm milk for her 2 year old.
And the night had been tough. I didn't go to bed that late (around 12:40 am, early for me), but around 6 am both boys came to our bed. And then Linton started coughing non-stop and K couldn't sleep, so I carried him back to his bed lied down with him. It took him a while to stop coughing and falling asleep, I think it was around 7 am and I fell asleep too. Needless to say, it wasn't easy for any of us to wake up and get ready to leave.

K drove away quickly, forgetting his lunch in the process. The boys, our friend and daughter piled into the car while I got the chance to meet the new owners. I mentioned that I could leave some of the curtains (we excluded window treatments) and they had a funny request -- they said we have to leave the baby-proof type door stopper that we have on the basement door so the cat can get down as he pleases. Interesting. I get they're cat people too. I hope they're happy here.

I guess I should be more tired, but somehow I'm not. I should go to bed soon though, so I'll stop now. At least we can sleep in tomorrow, if nothing else like that happens.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unsettled/ Quick Update

The housing search continues. Several leads, but no decisions just yet. :-( (sigh)

The inspection on this house is coming up on Thursday (at 8:30 am, of all times!). I hope they don't ask us to do anything. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

I cannot believe that we have only a bit over 4 weeks in this house. I wish we'd already put an offer on another house so we could start planning our next steps.

We've had guests from Brazil for a week now, they'll be here until Saturday. It's not easy to juggle hosting friends and cyber schooling, but I'm trying. Next week my in-laws will be here. FIL's first visit in one year. Actually, his first time back in the country since last May. My mom thinks I should ask him to help us pack for the move (after I said that I wished that she and dad were here to help). I don't know about that, maybe he could help, but they'll be here only for a few days. Cyberschooling will be a challenge next week too. As if it weren't a challenge each and every day.

I finally finished a book I'd been wanting to read forever, a post about this coming up shortly.

What else?

Yeah, I wish you could go to Longwood Gardens right now:
I'll try to post more photos to the abandoned photo blog. I'm sad we're not going to live close to this place anymore. This will be our last year of being a passholder. When the year is through on March 31, we'll have been going there for 6.5 years straight, three months less than Linton's age then. I have to try to look at the bright side and I really am looking forward to moving.

All right, enough for now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Flowers for Earth Day

I thought I'd finally post some pretty flower photos for Earth Day (better late than never, both the flowers and the posting near midnight). I won't miss the flowers because I can always plant new ones.

This (S)Old House

Before we move I want to post more photos of the home renovation projects that were done to this house (in addition to these) , but tonight I just want to record the things I will and won't miss in this house, before I forget them. It looks like we might be moving into a brand new home (more on that later), so lots of things will be radically different.

Let's begin with the negative things. I won't miss:

- The really low ceilings, particularly in the bedrooms.
- The hideous ceiling fan in my bedroom (each of the five ceiling fans in the house is different).
- The tiny size of the master bedroom bathroom.
- The small built-in wall oven.

I will greatly miss:

- The gorgeous hardwood floors.
- Windows in all bathrooms (upcoming post on this one).
- The yard, garden and trees outside.
- All the storage space.
- The two car garage.
- The long driveway and quiet street for the boys to ride their bikes.

I guess I'll stop here because I don't want the second list to be too big. :-(

If I remember more things, I'll edit the post later.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blown Away (Again)

I wish I could be less tired to think of a clever title and all, but this one will have to do.

Our realtor (Roberta) didn't call us yesterday to talk about the offer so I started getting antsy and thinking that maybe things had not worked out as we thought they would. So today, as we were driving towards "New Place" to begin our house hunting, Roberta called.

The first thing she said was that the she had just gotten the offer and that the other people who were considering making an offer had walked away and wished us "Good luck" (remember I said that some people are scared away by other people's offers? I was all like "I knew it!"). And then she said that the offer asked for 13K in seller's assist and I was all, "Oh no, what a bummer!"

"Don't you want to know how much the offer is for, though?" Roberta asked.

"Sure," I replied, but already feeling a bit discouraged.

"Well, it's $$$!"
$$$ = precisely 13K more than the asking price.

"NO WAY!" I almost screamed into the phone, and immediately started to tear up and gave the phone to K so she could give him more details.

So, yeah. In this market, we've been offered asking price for our house.

There's only one caveat: the bank's appraisal has to agree that the house is worth that much money. I don't think it should be a problem, but it's still a worry. If worse comes to worse, we'll have to discuss lowering the seller's assist.

More details: the only contingency is the inspection, since it looks like they're fist time homebuyers. Isn't that great?

The closing doesn't give us much wiggle room to pack up and move out (June 3), but we're OK with that. Good thing we're already house hunting, right?

We saw seven houses and we're very interested in two of them. I'll try to blog about that as soon as we get home. I'm trying to add a "gratuitous flower photo," but I can't get to move it to the bottom of the post. I may just give up. Yep, I gave up (sorry!).

P.S. The again from the title refers to two main things -- the fact that when Roberta sold our last house it was an even more unbelievable offer (full price down in cash on escrow) and that so many amazing things have been happening to us this year.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Second Time and Upcoming Offer

There's a showing tonight for some people who are coming to see the house a second time. I thought they were the ones who saw it on Monday and loved it, but they're not, these are other people. The people from Monday said they're making an offer on Saturday! It would be AWESOME if we had two offers, no? (although a possible offer sometimes scares away potential offer makers).

We decided to go to "New Place" (gotta talk to K and decide whether to try to continue blogging from an undisclosed location or share it with you) this weekend on Sunday and Monday. We'll be bringing documents that are necessary for employment and I've been invited by the head of the department where I'll be teaching to go to lunch with her on Monday. Great! I can't believe I'm really going back to teaching.

We're gearing up to two CRAZEE weeks, when we return from visiting "New Place" we have friends from Brazil arriving for a visit. Then on Friday I might be heading up to NYC to chair a panel at a conference in my area. Then we'll have our friend and her daughter here during the following week -- which will coincide with the boys' deadline for turning in work for the first half of the fourth "marking period."

In any case, I have to stop blogging to go get the house ready for the upcoming showing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Exposed and "Are they going to be _the ones_?"

Is how I feel when for some reason we haven't left when people come to the house for a showing or if we come back before they've left and then have to keep driving around and around the block waiting for them to leave. All of a sudden I have this uncomfortable feeling that they've just opened my closets and looked into every room of the house. Such a lack of privacy, right? A necessary evil of selling a house.

Most of the time I just feel annoyed at having to keep the house looking "perfect" all the time. I feel trapped in my own house, since cooking will make messes, just "existing" and not doing much makes messes already. The boys are great because they've never been messy to begin with -- except when they get carried over with their trains and tracks. This weekend they decided to play trains again and we just decided to let them, so there's a huge track down in the basement and I'm OK with it. We live here, after all, don't we? I'm trying to cook a little more, but last week we did almost "go hungry" a few times (e.g. on Tuesday last week there were three showings back to back, from 4:30 to 8:30 pm, then on Thursday from 12:30-1:30 pm and then they were late and came only at 2 pm).

Then, every time I get into the house after the showing and see the realtor's card on the table, I think, "Are they the ones?" The ones who will finally make an offer and buy this house? It's not an agreeable state of living to be on. Constantly suspenseful.

Well... If I'd written this post an hour ago like I was planning to, it wouldn't have the same ending. ;-)

It turns out that the people who just saw the house this evening from 6-7 pm (we had to wait until around 7:10 to be able to pull into the driveway because the realtor stayed for a long time after the two cars of the prospective buyers drove away, that's what actually prompted the post) are delighted with it and are planning to make an offer! As our realtor said, though, we can only believe it when we see it. So, everyone, keep your fingers crossed and/or say your prayers for us! The guy is traveling for three days, so we probably won't hear back until the end of the week (I don't like that, but there's nothing we can do, except hope they really liked it). That and hope that it's a "decent" offer.

I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And after reading Geeky Mom's latest post I even went ahead and tried to check internet providers in "new place." Next step, checking out real estate listing. Woo hoo!

Friday, April 09, 2010

A Lovely Date!

I almost ruined everything, yeah, pesky old me, but in the end it all turned out OK (phew!).

We were supposed to go here, but I didn't realize that the light blinking on the car's dashboard meant that it needed an urgent oil change, so instead of driving there we headed back home to drop off the car at the oil changing place. And then we went to eat here and walk around this place.

K cannot stand malls, stores or shopping, but we had an enjoyable goal for him -- stroll leisurely all the way to the Apple Store to check out the iPad. It was fun! We stopped at a Yankee Candle store (we once lived less than 2 miles from the factory in MA and visited often) and checked out the latest fragrances (we love the "Fresh" ones, particularly those with seaside names).

As for tie iPad, K thought that their book application is awesome! I liked it too, probably better than the Kindle (I got to check out my SIL's one on New Year's in Brazil). Does the kindle have a dictionary function? We thought that this (selecting any word with one's finger and then tapping on it to get a "bubble" with the dictionary definition) was one of coolest things! K was floored by the real feel of page turning and I liked the nice bookshelf interface. Oh, yeah! And books in color! I previewed Winnie the Poooh. For a fan of picture books this is really cool. I still think that nothing replaces holding a book, though. Apart from the book reading, we were not impressed with the rest (the keyboard is tough to use and we don't care for gaming).

When we first started walking to the other side of the mall to go see the iPad I saw a gorgeous H&M dress that was "totally me" on a huge ad in our path and on our way back I had to check it out. I love it that H&M is a cool European store (yeah, I'm one of those people who "digs" the "Old World," maybe it's in my blood or the fact that I was born there [see this post, #1-14], but I did buy some nice maternity clothes at H&M years ago and one awesome soccer ball sweater for Kelvin that still looks new to this day (we're passing it along to the cousins). I don't know why I never went back (perhaps because I never, ever, under any circumstances -- only exceptionally like yesterday -- walk into a mall?).

So, yeah, with K's blessing, I bought this dress, which is "me" to the very fibers of the recycled polyester (cool, huh?): colorful flowery "Monet-like" print, lots of frills, flowy fabric and, most importantly, with a cut that goes well with my flat chest:

You can see it also in this YouTube video (the first one):

It was a lovely date. We hardly ever have any, but 20 years together is a milestone worth of celebrating, no?

Summer in April Over (for now)

This summery weather was lovely (and gorgeous) while it lasted (over a week!), but I hope temperatures can remain seasonable and lower from now on, for the sake of the flowers, particularly the tulips. Those in my garden and at Longwood*.

You see, tulips are my favorite flowers, but we have them for such a short period each year! Whenever it gets too hot I start panicking that they'll all die. In 2008 they lasted so long that I took photos of some of my last tulips on the day I uploaded my dissertation to be able to go to commencement (April 30th). Last year we had a hot spell too and I thought of writing a post titled "Help! The Sun is Killing the Flowers!" or something. :-)

I took these photos yesterday:

I'll post more later, I hope (I need to find the time to do it).

* I refer to Longwood, one of my favorite places in the whole world, so often and have posted countless photos of it that they should pay me a commission or something for advertising. ;-)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

20 Years Ago

K and I became a couple.

And I just want to say that our day was not very different than my blogger friend Pithy Dithy on her recent tenth wedding anniversary (her post is cunningly titled "Love Life"). I guess the main difference is that, for the most part, the boys sleep on their beds (last night Linton did come into our bed towards the end of the night, it happens at least once a week), but other than that, in spite of the age difference (our sons are five and four years older than theirs), we're pretty much involved with the boys the whole time.

And the anniversary of our being together this year coincided with the end of the boys' cyberschool's 3rd "marking period" (or quarter) and Kelvin still had a lot of word to do before the day ended. I'm exhausted right now. But I didn't want to let this day pass by without a post. After all, as K said this morning when I reminded him of what day it was while Kelvin jumped on my lap as I sat down, they are "the result" of these 20 years together, these boys are... Yeah, not romantic in the least, but very true. These two beautiful human beings carved out of our love. They just exist to show that love is hard work, really hard work.

20 years ago I couldn't fathom we'd be here now. I always wanted a family, children, but I never dreamed how much they become part of you, these children of ours... Now, if I could only know where we'll be in 20 years! Still together, that, I'm sure. Unless death intervenes.

I have an offer!

No, it's not an offer on the house just yet, folks...

But I have an offer!!!

... to teach!!!!

... a class in the Fall!!!

At the university where K is going to work (he mailed the contract, BTW).

Isn't that just great???

I might still look for more classes to teach at other universities, colleges, and CCs in the area, but having at least one class is great! This came about because K's department head emailed my CV to various other departments and colleges too. I've never taught the class in question, but I am most definitely qualified to do it, so, even better -- gaining experience in a new area!

I haven't even told my husband (who's attending a seminar right now) or any family members, so you're the first ones to know!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Delicious Smell of Freshly Baked Homemade Bread...

(apologies for the many edits!)
... that's what permeated our first house in 2004 on the day it went on the market and we had the first showings scheduled. This turned out to be the day we sold it too -- we had two offers that very evening!

The three big loaves of whole wheat bread had been baked by my mother and mother-in-law, who were at our home at the time, awaiting my son Linton's imminent birth (poor MIL and FIL missed the birth just because Linton decided to arrive on the very day they were to fly to Texas to my BIL's wedding). When we got back home that evening, after accepting the first offer, we took a photo of the two mothers, triumphantly holding the loaves of bread. Of course it was not the smell of bread that "sold" the house to the potential buyers,* but my mom was just so happy that they had made the effort of bake that batch of bread (we'd read somewhere that this would help to sell the house) that she had to celebrate. (I looked for the photo, but it was taken on my dad's "real film" camera, so I'd have to scan it. maybe later).
Nothing of the sort happened with our second house in 07. I was even away in Brazil when it was sold. It was still an incredible sale, a newly millionaire daughter buying the house for her dad and paying in cash (with the full price on escrow). Something like that "never" happens, but it did.

Well, this time around, I'm trying to "help out" a bit, so whenever I can, I bake something just before we have a showing. Last week it was only biscuits and then croissants, from refrigerated cans. Today, though, I made pizza dough from scratch. The smell was delicious for the first showing at 4 pm, but I guess it got weaker for the 6 and the 7:30 pm showings. Let's see if this little trick helps at all ;-).

I hope the house sells. It wasn't meant to sell last year because we really needed to live on it one more year. Now, I just hope there are no showings tomorrow since the temperature will spike into the 90s! We have no central air conditioning and haven't yet installed the window units. The bedrooms upstairs, with the low ceilings, are a veritable oven in the summer. But hush! Don't tell the prospective buyers!

P.S. Oh, and just a note regarding those nasty comments from a month ago. We'll pay every single penny we owe on this here house. The renegotiation was not finalized (and most certainly won't be since these things just go so slow and now the bank knows we're selling), so no tax payer money will come into our rescue. I just hope we break even or, better case scenario, can take at least enough to pay for the new roof, which we still haven't finished paying for.

* BTW, the lady who bought our first house was so captivated by our home decor (living room, I think) that she took pictures of everything intending to be inspired by it in her future decoration. Wow. I just felt like Dooce for a moment there ;-).

Monday, April 05, 2010

Reading, or, Like Mother, Like Sons

I learned to read by myself even before I went to school. I was six, but at that time, most children in Brazil went to first grade when they were seven, that's when they learned to read. At six years old some children went to what they called "pre-school" and which consisted mostly of playing and school readiness activities. Two years ago the educational system changed in Brazil and now children go to the new first grade when they turn six years old (or, in private schools on the year they turn six).

My mom bought me a reading "primer" which I read before going to bed, but family legend has it that I really "learned" to read at the breakfast table, which was where/when reading really "clicked" for me. I began by spelling "oats" in Portuguese (a-v-e-i-a) and then putting it all together, aveia. From then on, I read, and read, and read some more. I was a lonely child (I was trying to find a link to the post I wrote about this, I'll include it later if I find it), so I read a lot. Even after we moved from the countryside to the huge city of São Paulo when I was 13 and I made many friends, I still read constantly -- about a book a day on 7th and 8th grades. Less in high school when I was studying all day long and very little for pleasure in college. Then, I read next to nothing of my own choice in graduate school :-(. Let's just say that there's an endless backlog of books that I've wanted to read for years, but haven't had time yet.

So... if there was one thing I wanted more than anything for my sons was that they liked to read and enjoyed books as much as I do and did. I surrounded them with books from infancy (something not hard for a passionate scholar and collector of children's books) and read to them. I couldn't wait for them to start reading. Kelvin learned to read easily back in kindergarten, and although he was good I never pushed him to start reading too much on his own. He's always been a great reader, and can read out loud with fluency and great expression. Now that he's eight and in second grade, all of a sudden I realized that he was often reading, so I began to give him longer books and he just devoured them! He read Roald Dahl's Matilda in one afternoon and one morning. 200+ pages! Then I bought The Chronicles of Narnia for us, which I never read growing up, and he's already read three books. I'm just thrilled!!

Last, but not least, I'm delighted to inform you that Linton -- who has been an enthusiastic book lover from babyhood, always sitting quietly with books for a long time -- just began to read on his own too! He's a good reader, already reading with expression, although I have to help him with his intonation at the end of sentences. Of course he hasn't even finished kindergarten, so he reads quite slowly, stopping to sound out each letter (that's so cute!) when it's not a word he's already familiar with. I'm sure he'll be reading independently soon.

And here's a question for those of you who are fan of the Narnia books -- how did you like the films? I'm going to get the first one from Netflix in the next few days and I can't wait to watch it! I had never read the books and I'm enjoying them very much and it's great to talk about them with Kelvin!