Monday, October 31, 2011


I just submitted a paper proposal for an academic conference next year and I'm really excited about it! I wish I could tell you more about my paper and the conference, but then I would make myself easily googleable as soon as the program appears online.

I'm considering going to two conferences next year (in April and June), I hope it's not too much! Now if only I could get at least a couple more of my dozens of conference paper presentations into published papers, that would be awesome! I wish I weren't so lazy. :(

Fallen Tree Branches, the day after

I was too tired to post these yesterday, but here it goes. I was also too depressed about my beloved tree (the one my cats loved to climb all over!) to go outside and take photos, so I asked K to take these.

Really, I'm pretty traumatized with snow right now, what I wrote paraphrasing one of my favorite songs ever is very true... now I know both sides of snow, the good and the bad. I imagine I would be even more traumatized if I'd had a car accident in the snow (shiver!).

So sad...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nephew Watch 2011 Begins

I am going to be a pile of emotions in this month of November as we wait for my nephew (my only brother's son) to arrive... on the opposite side of the world (NZ). I think the due-date is Nov. 22, but the emails exchanged among the family (them, my parents, SIL's parents and us) are already getting all involved with the expectation of Dani's birth. It was reading such an email from my mom to them that prompted me to come write this post.

In just a few days my sister-in-law's parents will travel to New Zealand and my parents will stay behind, longing so much to go, but waiting patiently until March that is when they're finally going. And I don't have the least idea of when I'm going to meet my dear nephew. My brother didn't get to meet Kelvin until he was 1 year 9 months old and Linton when he was 8 months old... that's how it is when we live so far apart. I wish I could find a way ($$$$) to go to Brazil next year for Xmas and New Year's, but it's the most expensive time of the year to travel, when travel is already horribly expensive year round.

Well... maybe there'll be a miracle. Maybe teaching 40 kids in my class will help me make enough to save for that. The problem is... going to Brazil twice in one year sounds awfully wasteful (if wonderful!). Let's see. Maybe I should make this one of my "new year's dreams" hahaha...

My nephew's coming, wasn't he my main new year's dream? Yes, he was!

P.S. Never mind that my last wish was to post more than 365 times. Ha ha! I've since downgraded that to 243+ and that seems attainable enough. "Lowered Expectations!"

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow: Both Sides Now (or NO!!! My Trees!!!!)

"I've looked at snow from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's snow illusions I recall.
I really don't know snow at all."

For 15 years, I've loved snow. Sure, it was annoying at times, lots of work to shovel, slushy and brown after several days and melting... but snow was magic! It was amazingly beautiful and turned a dreary winter landscape into a "winter wonderland." The dangerous and awful one was freezing rain, not snow. That is, until today.

I was a bit freaked out, but still excited about snow in October. All I could think of were beautiful photos of  red leaves covered with snow. I could not imagine this:

This was just yesterday:

And now today:
I'll write more later, OK?

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Mommy's Birthday!

I know this is my fourth (technically fifth) post today, but I just had to write about my dear mama's birthday! And I've decided to post a bunch of photos of the two of us to celebrate the day!

I love you mami!!

It's Snowing in October!!!!

Remember when I mentioned that yesterday was nice and warm?

Well... not for long and this time I knew because -- for once -- I'd checked the forecast, I just didn't think it would really happen like predicted!

So today "winter" came with a vengeance. There were really cold temperatures and... who knew? Snow in October! I think I experienced this only once or twice in my 15 years in the U.S. Both times in Massachusetts... (I don't remember exactly, but the earliest snow we experienced was Oct. 16 and it was way less than an inch -- it looks like we might get more).

I will most certainly take pictures in the morning and try to share them ASAP.

Today I winterized the house... put the glass up in three of our storm doors that have glass panels in front of the screen and changed our bedding into the "winter" one (photos later). I just didn't finish winterizing the backyard -- I need to cut back a lot of plants. I still have several flowering mums and several green tomatoes (I should have picked those, right?! stupid me!).

In any case, we had to drive to town for a meeting tonight and on the way back when it was already snowing, my seven-year-old exclaimed: "Look outside, it's snowing! We have to put up the Christmas lights!" Well... not so fast, sweetie! The boys are really excited about the holidays, especially because we're going to Florida for 10 days with all or K's family! The 7 grandkids: 6 boys, one girl.

171 Bulbs Planted!

Yesterday was a very warm day (considering it's mid-late autumn), with temperatures in the mid-60s. It was also windy and it looked like it might start raining at any minute in the afternoon, but I spent several hours (the strenuous work I referred to in my previous post) planting dozens of bulbs. I worked until it was dark, about 8 pm.

This is what I planted:
96 bulbs of mixed-color tulips (my favorite flowers, period, ok, together with wild red poppies);
50 bubs of Dutch iris (my favorite kind, of Monet's paintings' fame), and
25 crocuses (which I think are cute).

I would have planted more if I had bought more (I bought them over a month ago), but then I would have run out of time too since I knew today it would get cold and it did. Not only that, but... well, subject to the next post! I'm already planning to plant more next year, but now I'm relieved and happy that I got them planted before it was too late.

I had never planted bulbs in such an organized fashion -- I cleaned the plots from old mulch, distributed the bulbs where I wanted to plant them and them I dug each hole and planted each one. This was inspired by what I saw landscapers do one morning in front of (of all stores!) Walmart in town. I guess I'm a visual learner and I had to see it done to understand how these flower plots around town and shopping centers look just so good. I hope my garden looks good too! I'll share photos next April!

I Can See Clearly Now... the pain is gone!

Maybe I didn't even need to have spent the night on the sofa two nights ago, or maybe that helped! (it was a good night, no pain at all), but it was surely great to go back to my own bed and have a painless night of sleep! (perhaps all the work I did yesterday helped, more on that in the next post).

And for those who are not familiar with Jimmy Cliff's rendering of Johnny Nash's song (gotta give credit where credit's due, there are people in youtube who are crediting this song to Bob Marley!), here it is:

P.S. the song actually talks about pain, not in the first line/title of post (rain), but later "I think I can make it now the pain is gone/ All of the bad feelings have disappeared..."

I Heart Michael Moore

I just do. Look at his latest blog post "Life Among the 1%!" This guy has more integrity than I do since I sometimes grumble thinking of paying taxes.

what he says here? I think it hits the nerve of the problem: When people ask him...
"How can you claim to be for the poor when you are the opposite of poor?!" It's like asking: "You've never had sex with another man -- how can you be for gay marriage?!" I guess the same way that an all-male Congress voted to give women the vote, or scores of white people marched with Martin Luther Ling, Jr. (I can hear these righties yelling back through history: "Hey! You're not black! You're not being lynched! Why are you with the blacks?!"). It is precisely this disconnect that prevents Republicans from understanding why anyone would give of their time or money to help out those less fortunate. It is simply something their brain cannot process. "Kanye West makes millions! What's he doing at Occupy Wall Street?!" Exactly -- he's down there demanding that his taxes be raised. That, to a right-winger, is the definition of insanity. To everyone else, we are grateful that people like him stand up, even if and especially because it is against his own personal financial interest. It is specifically what that Bible those conservatives wave around demands of those who are well off.
Oh, and in the past weeks, reading his tweets in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement made me realize that the ending of Capitalism, A Love Story, which I thought was just sooooo lame (with MM cordoning off Wall St. with "Crime Scene" tape) and pathetic -- a small weird guy against this huge thing -- has actually become a movement. A strange, multi-faced movement, true, but a movement nonetheless. It's good to see how proud Michael Moore is of these people and their efforts to try and change something from the bottom up.

Yeah, his friend was 100% right!!
Back on that November day in 1989 when I sold my first film, a good friend of mine said this to me: "They have made a huge mistake giving someone like you a big check. This will make you a very dangerous man. And it proves that old saying right: 'The capitalist will sell you the rope to hang himself with if he thinks he can make a buck off it.'

P.S. and IMHO his brief definition of capitalism, is great! ("Capitalism is a system, a pyramid scheme of sorts, that exploits the vast majority so that the few at the top can enrich themselves more.")

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Anti-Racist Campaign for Halloween

Did you see these posters? I think they're great. I can imagine several with Brazilian stereotypes -- a samba dancer or a Brazilian indigenous person. (they were also featured on cnn)

When I was in graduate school there was this huge brouhaha when a Spanish student appeared at a Halloween party painted black (and accompanied by a "Conquistador"), so I've  been thinking about these issues since then. This campaign just made it relevant for other cultures & ethnicities.

Well... that's it for today, tomorrow I'll blog more.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I found a therapist I like!

I had never looked for a therapist* before, but tonight, I thought I'd google the local town plus "Adult ADHD" and I found a nice website (Psychology Today) that gave me a list of local providers, including their photos, bios (written by them), specialties, etc. Very comprehensive! I really like one of them, who seems to be perfect even in the detail that s/he also pastoral/spiritual care, which is important to me.

S/he offers a complimentary phone consultation and maybe I'll take advantage of that, in spite of the fact that I really dread talking on the phone with strangers (one more reason for therapy!!). You know... I think I'm seriously considering doing therapy. Maybe then my blog won't be clogged with overly long my "issues/cheap therapy" posts, right?

I'm excited/apprehensive. Let's see if I'll find the courage to contact hir. (I don't know exactly why I'm going all gender neutral on this therapist... whatever ;).

* why, oh why, do you call them "shrinks" here in this country? (or, maybe other Anglophone countries? What do I know?) I only learned that word while watching Before Sunrise.

My Very Own Waterfall Picture!

Next time I'll bring the tripod, but I think I held my breath long enough for this one last Saturday.
Didn't I say today's post would be cheerier? 
Just to be safe, though, I'm popping an ibuprofen and going to sleep sitting up on the sofa.

P.S. I think that maybe, just maybe, I'm OK with having bought the DSLR camera for my birthday (and K's too) -- problem is, it hasn't been paid yet, if you know what I mean. :(

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Still Can't Sleep Well

It's been a week since my lower back pain started and I am still longing for a painless night of sleep... (sigh).

I know that it will eventually come since I already feel soooo much better (virtually no pain during the day). I wonder if it would be a good idea to see a doctor, though. My right hip, which had already been bothering me before, but with localized (and brief) pain, is where it hurts the most when I'm laying down and the pain  kind of radiates to the rest of the lower back a bit.

Sorry to be bothering you with this again! It's just that I'm beginning to dread going to sleep and I feel it's not right to have to sleep with a heating pad and still feel some pain.

I will try to have cheerier subjects tomorrow, but now I have to go read the book I'm teaching in the morning and... try to go to sleep. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Doin' It!

(In fact, I've been "doin' it" for better or for worse (see below) for nearly seven years!

Earlier today (when I was busy cooking lunch for 25 undergratuates -- it went great, BTW, it looks like they enjoyed my food!) Laura (Apt. 11D) published the first post in her "All About Blogging" series: "Just Do It!"

Her post is really interesting and full of advice for people who are starting to blog or already blog. The first item made me cringe a bit when I realized that seven years later I'm still doing rookie mistakes in this silly little blog of mine (hello?! writing about family?! STUPID me!), but I think I've learned my lesson once and for all (I hope). And I obviously won't blog what happened, or probably even talk about it in real life, if you know what I mean. By the way, most of the time I blog about my sons I ask their permission: my oldest reads the posts about him before I publish. The little one is über embarrassed by anything and everything, right now, so I try to write about him very sparingly. My long-suffering husband understands "my bloggy ways" as Laura put it and never says anything about me blogging about our life -- I think he copes by simply not reading the blog. Bless his heart. And it is by his request that I remain semi-anonymous here in the blog and don't disclose our location and employer.

I'm glad that she said that the design of the blog doesn't much matter because I don't really have the time and energy to change mine right now.

And last, but not least... I didn't have a job for SIX of the last seven years, so that wasn't a problem. I blogged intensely about writing my dissertation and about my flaky advisor. My husband is still worried about that, but I really don't mind if he read what I wrote if he ever found my blog. He was very bad. Period. So... now that I kind of have a job (not a real  job, as you know, I'm only an adjunct), I don't ever write about it, obviously. I would have to be 100% pseudonymous to do that. I even created that blog, but I don't have the time for it and the issues involved in adjuncting are really depressing to blog about.

So... yeah, I've been doing it. Not hugely successfully, but OK. I'm happy with my blog because it makes me a saner person.


There are mice in my office right now and there were mice in the office across the hall from ours a few weeks ago. I actually saw where it lives -- inside the heater -- when a colleague (who has self-nominated herself our official exterminator) came and lifted up the cover. When the tiny little mouse moved, I screamed and the office mate that was there (there are seven of us, but only three at a time, usually) lifted up her feet.

I don't keep any food there, but I have a hotpot, disposable cups, napkins, tea and a box of hot chocolate pouches. I hid as many of those items as I could in a desk drawer and put the cups up high on a shelf. A trap has been set up, but I'm not excited at the prospect of sharing the office with these tiny, but undesirable office mates.

Remember the time when we watched Ratatouille and the next morning we saw a mouse in our kitchen? Sigh... I don't think it's fun to have to share living/working spaces with rodents! I hope they don't come into our house again. Maybe our farm cats will be good hunters (my heart breaks for the birds they may one day kill, though...).

I will always feel a little uncomfortable in my office from now on... :(

I like it when I can use outside as a refrigerator...

... but not so much when it can be used as a deep freezer. ;)

Seriously, though, it's very practical when I can just stick my huge pressure cooker outside on my deck and know that the beans I just cooked will be nice and cool in the morning. Of course once in a while in the winter when we have guests and I run out of room in the freezer, I sometimes stick frozen things out there too.

Tomorrow I'm bringing food for my Brazilian culture class (26 students) and I put not only the black beans outside, but also the dessert which I just took out of the oven (a chocolate "flan"-type dessert that we call Brigadeirão). I hope they like the food. I'm also making rice, "farofa" (a toasted manioc flour dish) and fish* "moqueca" (a kind of stew) as well as sautéed finely copped collard greens.

Maybe I'll take pictures... but I always take tons of photos of food I cook and I end up never putting them up on the blog. I probably should, right?

*I still eat fish, once in a long while, so I'm not 100% vegetarian.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Better, but not so much at night

I was feeling optimistic about my back pain last night, so I decided not to take medication and not to use the heating pad and while I was able to sleep with the help of K, my dear human heating pad, :) I still felt pain all night and tossed and turned (I sleep on my side).

At 5 am I got up to a very chilly house, went to the kitchen to drink water, and put the heating pad on my back when I got back to bed, but still felt pain (and had several weird dreams).

At 8 am, frustrated, in pain, and still sleepy I sat up in bed, wondering whether there was a way to sleep sitting up when I remembered a detail -- to put a pillow between my legs (in addition to the heating pad) and then I had a lovely, painless 1h hour of sleep, woo-hoo! I feel refreshed enough to get to work and try to catch up to all the house-work I didn't do all week because I was in so much pain. I hope it'll be a productive Sunday!

In Pain... (pretty unbearable pain too)

Note: I was only able to finish writing this after the pain was gone. Similar to the eye problem.

I thought I dealt well with pain... after all, I had two completely unmedicated births and I didn't even take the Motrin that the nurses brought for me after the boys were born.

yeah... ibuprofen, who knew I'd be so thankful for it today, 9 and 7 years later.

I've always been pretty "brave" regarding minor aches and pains (although I have taken acetaminophen for headaches in the past), but I had never experienced the kind of pain I experienced this week -- lower back pain.

I blame it all on carrying the laptop in addition to my heavy bookbag on Tuesday to the university. Then, sitting for two hours in a conference room in which the chairs were too high for me to reach the floor and type of the computer at the same time.

On Wednesday I felt back pain all day long (bad enough that breathing , but didn't take anything). Then, that evening I decided to do the stretches that I do when I have (mild) lower back pain before going to bed and that was a really bad idea! I woke up feeling really bad pain at 5:49 am on Thursday morning. I took children's ibuprofen, the only kind I had. It helped a lot, and I was able to go back to sleep for a little big more. The day wasn't that bad, especially because standing up and sitting felt way better than laying down.

On Thursday evening I was feeling a lot of pain again, so I took a long hot shower and the kids' ibuprofen (three pills, 300 mg -- more than the dose of the regular adult kind, which is weird, since it's the dosage for kids 11-14 years old or something).

Well... that didn't help much because at 1 am I woke up feeling horrible, unbearable pain. I could hardly bear to get out of bad and it was so scary! Mostly because K was gone to a conference and I was home alone with the boys. Thankfully, K was online and I chatted with him on skype and got the idea of using the heating pad (humid heat with water on that little sponge that can be inserted under the cover). Well... the heat helped immediately and I waited until 2 am (5 hours since my taking my last ibuprofen) to take more medication -- four 100mg kids' tablets. Sleeping on the office chair wasn't helping, so I went to bad, with the heating pad still attached to my back and in the high heat. The pad didn't leave my back for nearly 24h (with breaks to get the kids ready for school and taking them, and picking them up and, obviously! going to the store to buy "real" Advil) and that helped!

Thankfully I was feeling better in the evening and K came back. I used the hot pad (and took ibuprofen) last night and I still felt some pain on my hip. Today I decided not to take any medication and then we went for a hike in the afternoon. I was extra careful walking down to the waterfall and back, and really afraid that my back would get worse, but it actually feels OK and I will try to go to bed without taking Advil and without the heat pad. Wish me luck!

Now I totally understand why people with chronic pain or with acute pains and aches really really need to take pain medication! Being in pain is just horrible and feels inhumane. Really, we cannot feel normal and do normal activities while in pain. People who do so are heroes, in my mind at least (and I know there are millions of people who do).

I know my pain was NOTHING compared to what other people feel. I hope this experience can help me be more compassionate towards others in pain. And from now on I'll be EXTRA careful with my posture.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Benign Acute Myositis, Second time around

It's not as bad as it was back in 2009, since he can walk very slowly and even participated of his soccer practice this afternoon (but didn't run much), but I think Kelvin has "benign acute myositis" again! (here's a more recent medical journal article about it). My blog is actually the second result on Google when one searches for this condition. No wonder once in a while I get comments on that old post.

It's the second time in three years and thankfully I know what is bothering my son... who had (still kind of has) a virus and missed two days of school last week. He went back to school yesterday and today, but has been sleeping as soon as we get home until the next morning (more than 12 hours yesterday). I hope he gets better soon!

Meanwhile, it's a pity I can't help him walk or carry him because I'm struggle with lower back pain (more on that in the next post). We had a tough week, I'm ready for it to be over!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is just so beautiful... "Milímetro" by Daniela Araújo

This... absurdly talented young woman is married to K's "second" cousin (who is also absolutely and wonderfully talented). After I heard her single (released by Sony music Gospel in Brazil) I was desperately, anxiously waiting for her first, brand new CD (in the making for years and years) to arrive from Brazil, but today I found out that the songs are available on YouTube. Pure delight. And I've only listened to three of them.

She wrote the music & lyrics to this song that is the introduction of the CD (I learned from here --> in Portuguese). The strings were recorded in Prague. ETA: Detail: Daniela also does the arrangements [orchestrations] and overviews every single detail of the production. That's part of the reason it took so long for her album to be ready (and affording it too).

Milímetro                                          Millimeter

Pode ficar, se tiver que ficar           You can stay, if you have to stay
Pode ir, se tiver que partir              You can go, if you need to leave
Estou sem medo de reestruturar          I'm not afraid of re-structuring
Minha vida a partir do partir                My life based on the leaving
Tudo está a se repetir                         Everything is repeating
Nada é novo por aqui                         Nothing is new here
Como um milímetro de um segundo   Like a millimeter of a second
É a minha existência no mundo           Is my existence in the world
Tudo está a se repetir                         Everything is repeating
Tudo está a se repetir                         Everything is repeating
Nada é novo para Ti                           Nothing is new to You

Edited to add:
This one is even better:

Dragon Moms...

Have you heard about "Dragon Moms"? Earlier this year we heard lots about Tiger Moms and there are many of kinds of parents that the media talks about, helicopter parents/moms, free-range parents/moms...

But nothing can be more heartbreaking than to be a dragon mom/parent... to know for sure that you are going to lose your child. Rapp writes, "How do you parent without a net, without a future, knowing that you will lose your child, bit by torturous bit?"

It is depressing, devastating,
But not without wisdom, not without a profound understanding of the human experience or without hard-won lessons, forged through grief and helplessness and deeply committed love about how to be not just a mother or a father but how to be human.
and, Rapp reflects:
I will never be a tiger mom. The mothers and fathers of terminally ill children are something else entirely. Our goals are simple and terrible: to help our children live with minimal discomfort and maximum dignity. 
In the end, though... her deepest truth is the same for all parents: all we can do is to love our child(ren) today.

What this Generation X Person Has to Say

I liked the "Generation X Doesn't Want to Hear It" blog post. I don't identify 100% percent, but that's because I wasn't raised in this country, remember? I don't get all the cultural references, but I get most everything else.

I am most certainly a "GenXer" and now that I am teaching again (after 6 years away from university classrooms), I can feel my "obsolescence" very keenly. Last week the year 1989 came up for some reason and one of my students was saying "I wasn't even born!" I wanted to scream (but just said it calmly, if frustrated), "Really? I was a senior in high school in 1989." :(

Unfortunately, the main result is that I am getting terrified of getting older and older. I look at frail old ladies and I want to sit down on the ground and cry in despair. I know I will be them one day. I don't know why I'm so terrified of that idea, but I am. I imagine in my mind how that will feel like. Inside, you remember the little girl you were, she's still there, but outside you're this very old lady, all wrinkled and white haired. An old lady that nobody talks to. That's my greatest fear: utter and complete invisibility. (and I so wish I had a daughter. but maybe my sons will take care of me. The old lady across the street is moving in with her daughter. the moving truck came today and I went over to say goodbye).

OK, that's too depressing, let's move on, shall we? I do feel jaded like that article describes, though. I didn't grow up here, but growing up educated poor in Brazil wasn't easy. When I was growing up inflation was so high -- THOUSANDS of percents a year -- that it was insane. They cut three zeros out of the currency twice in a year. I remember a bit before that, though... when it was not as bad. And then, in the year I got married (1994), they were finally able to beat inflation. Phew! What a relief. By then I was an adult, though... so I grew up in a country in constant financial instability.

I am too attached to things and have a horrible, paranoid relationship with money because we never had any. I know I was privileged because my parents were educated (both had master's degrees), but they had low paying jobs as educators & church employees. When we moved to the big city from a rural area (boarding academy), we learned (my brother more keenly than me) that we needed to buy the right kind of sneakers and backpacks. I had rich friends who had experienced countless things that I could only dream of (most related to this country here -- they had traveled to the U.S. many times and even to Europe, etc) and that was hard.

I really wish, from the bottom of my heart, that I could figure out a way to feel more at peace about money, and not to want to have things. Sigh.

As for the crisis, for the recession... whatever. We're OK. We are resilient, but, yes, the article is right, we are also tired.

I am forty and I don't have a real job and K is just starting a real job. It just took us so long to get here.

Well... I don't know what the point of this post is, really. I feel bad whining about my childhood trauma with money. It's a big thing for me, though. And I need the "cheap therapy" -- though I'm seriously considering getting real therapy, particularly for my ADHD.

OK, gotta go. I want to post some more "musical" posts soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sickness, Sleeplessness, Tea...

If my son weren't sick, I wouldn't be awake now. You see? I had to bring him along to the university today and on our way back to pick up his brother, he was starving. When we stopped to buy him a slice of pizza at 3 pm, I decided to order iced tea. Big mistake! I hardly ever drink caffeinated drinks without a good reason (e.g. during moving times when I stay up all night every night for a week packing) and the result is that I'm still up and alert.

I stay up late every night, but I'm generally not as alert as I am now.

The worse part? I have tons of things to do (very boring things like revising a test for my students and grading, grading, grading) and I have done NONE of them in the several hours I've been sitting at the computer. And what about that resolution? :(

Well, I hope my son is better tomorrow and that I can do all I need to do during my day. Including that pesky grading. :(

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Great News! (for a family member)

I just wanted to share how thankful and relieved I am for a family member of ours who was extremely "under water" (owing more to the bank that the house is worth) -- over 100K under water. :(

This person's house sold on Friday as a "short-sale" (which means that the bank accepts the sale for less than the outstanding loan and "forgives" the difference) -- it was not just approved last Friday (there had been 3 approvals before, but two had fallen through because the buyers had to back out), but the closing was actually on Friday.  No more defaulting on the mortgage and being overwhelmed by debt. I'm so happy that this was possible and I wanted to register this here.

I hope none of my readers happen to be in trouble because of their houses/mortgages and that if you are, may it be solved well and as quickly as possible!

I need to sleep

Night after night... long after the boys have gone to sleep and, most nights, after K has also gone and I've said to him as he left the office (which is right across from our bedroom), "I'll be right there," but I don't go. I follow the siren songs of blogs or twitter or, at times, depressing facebook.

I need to stop that. I know it's worse for me because of the ADHD and, cyclically, I've heard that web surfing actually makes ADHD worse. :(

I still want to try and post more than 242 times this year, but I also want to get more sleep and, most importantly, get my work done efficiently (I have TONS to grade right now). So... I am writing this post as a kind of pledge. Because going to bed every single night at 1:30 am is not a good thing.

I know I'm a night person and I truly enjoy having sometime to myself late at night, but I have to spend more time with my dear husband, who's doing working so, so hard this semester and helping me out so much at home too.

So... dear internets, here's my pledge: I want to sleep more and spend less useless time online. Because writing a blog post is not useless, but reading stupid facebook updates is. Agreed?

Thanks for listening!!

Water or Milk?

One of these days I was changing clothes* and my youngest walked by and pointed to my breasts and laughingly said "Water! Water! that's where I used to drink!" and I think I responded saying something like, "Yeah... you like to remember the time when you used to nurse, don't you?!"

Well... it was not until the next day that I remembered this post from six years and nine days (!!) ago and I thought it was positively hilarious that six years later, my son is still referring to breastmilk as water!! (this time in English). I was telling K about it and saying... yeah, I didn't correct him this time like six years ago, saying it's milk, not water. I guess I've given up trying to convince him about that! (and I need to say, for the record, that I'm pretty sure that my son eventually talked about my milk as "milk" and not water at some point before he was weaned at age 3).

Sometimes I miss my babies a little bit and whine that I want another one, but when I think about it in more depth and detail, I realize that I probably couldn't handle having a baby now. I just wish I could be closer to my new nephew that's arriving next month all the way across the world so I could enjoy a brand new baby without actually having one. :( 

I just watched the beautiful and moving video that my sister-in-law's friends made for her baby shower... I cried so much! And talking about milk, I hope SIL is able to breastfeed my nephew. The worst part about this nephew is not knowing when I'm going to get to meet him. Payback time. My brother didn't meet my son until he was 21 months old. :( I will never forget that day... and I'm sure the day I get to meet Danny will be unforgettable too (I may not write nephew's name here again because I don't know what my brother thinks of that). 

Now, should I bring up the water/milk discussion with the 7 year old again? Nah... I think I'll let that one slide again... after all, he hasn't changed that much since he was 16 months old! ;)

* yes, I do change clothes in front of my children and, on occasion, walk around the house undressed. I know a lot of parents are uncomfortable, but that's now how it was with my own mom in our family.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Enid Blyton: Sharing my childhood readings with my children

I have a feeling that this day took too long to come since a lot of my favorite books as a child were written in Portuguese and my boys don't read Portuguese very well (though they can speak it mostly fine). And obviously, since I didn't grow up in the U.S. I didn't read most authors and books that people read growing up here and that my boys love, such as Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and others. I only read a few "classic" that were translated into Portuguese such as Laura I. Wilder's "Little House" books and Alcott's Little Women (I really want to try to get the boys interested in Wilder's books, but I haven't been successful so far).

One of the authors I enjoyed for a couple of years when I was growing up was Enid Blyton, particularly her Secret Seven books. I was thrilled when I found them at our city library about a month ago and I checked a few out. Kelvin started reading and he loved them, so I had to check out more and now Linton started reading them too (he's in the second book) while Kelvin is devouring two or more books a day (they had three days of break this week). Children their age love mysteries and Kelvin is already a big fan of the Box Car Children so I guess the Secret Seven books fit in well with his tastes.

This afternoon the boys and I went to the library to return the first Secret Seven book and get some more. After that, I took the boys to the children's museum and while we were there, I found out that I had read one of the books we'd checked out when I was a child. It was fun to read it again nearly three decades later -- too bad I already knew the end!

Maybe it's just me, but I am wondering... why do I take such comfort from the fact that my children are reading some of the same books I enjoyed when we were kids? Do you feel that way too? Which are some books you read growing up that your children love?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lost post & Random comments

I just lost a post I'd written about the woman who ran a marathon and then gave birth seven hours later. You surely must have heard about it already, so it's ok the post is gone, thanks to blogger and/or chrome.

I also wanted to say that I will keep on trying to fulfill my goal of posting more this year than last year, but I will stop numbering the posts... it's annoying me big time. I will do the November (NaBloPoMo) post numbering, but just because I do it every year.

Other random thoughts about life, the seasons, the weather, etc, etc...

Fall weather is really perfect, it's just not better than Spring because of the flowers and looking forward to summer. I feel bad thinking it'll end soon.

I feel I'm too busy and, worst of all, I'm not happy with my teaching of the new class. I wish it could be better. My expectations were just too high... I HATE when that happens (which is a lot for me). And the worst part is thinking that I've committed to teaching this same class to FORTY kids next semester. Because I really really need the money so we can finish paying our debt and can save to try and buy newer, more reliable cars.

2011-2012 will be the year in which I will make the most money in all my life (22K, maybe? I don't even know how much more I'll make by teaching the 40 kids -- STUPID 'cause I need to know if it's worth it, right? I'll email the secretary right now). The previous record was about 18K when I was in graduate school and teaching two classes each semester as well as winter and summer sessions. That was before 9/11 and the crackdown on student visa people (people on student visas can only work 20h/week = one class).

So... yeah. But I cannot talk about money because I hate money and not having it, etc. See? Don't get me started! I have to prepare to teach tomorrow and I'm grumpy that I cannot do my "yogalates" class because the boys don't have school, we don't have child care, and I have to bring them to K after his class is over.

My apologies for the bad mood. I should be better soon. Maybe it was the movie I saw last night.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Safely Back Home! -12/114

Thankfully, everything worked out great and we're safely back home.

Yesterday, shortly before the car broke down, we had been telling my aunt and uncle about our old cars and their mentioned their mechanic whom we contacted right away.

This morning, while I looked after my uncle (the one who had a benign brain tumor two years ago and who now is permanently disabled) for a couple of hours, K was able (after some difficulty) to find someone to tow the car to the mechanic's garage. Then, the mechanic he found and bought the used part that was needed (a distributor) and replaced it before 5 pm this afternoon! On a Sunday!

We were so happy! Now I don't know what time we'll be able to go to bed, since we got back home 8:30 pm and need to prepare our classes for tomorrow... but all's well that ends well, right?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Car-less in D.C. -- 11/114

K is looking at new car deals.

We cannot afford a car right now, but we're looking, just in case.

For the first time in our lives we had to abandon our car (340,000 miles Honda Civic) by the side of the road because it broke down. Luckily, we were just a few miles away from both my brother-in-law's house and my aunt's and BIL came to pick K and I up (our boys were with them).

Beside, we had just talked about auto mechanics with my aunt, whom we had just visited. We have already talked to the mechanic in question, who is going to come see the car tomorrow (maybe we could try to avoid towing if it's a belt or something).

Obviously, as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, we don't have AAA and our new insurance does NOT offer roadside assistance, :( ha ha ha! The good thing is that this mechanic is really good and my aunt has an extra car that she may be able to loan us, so we're not really stressed about going back home, etc.

We were hoping our "two crumbling Hondas" would last until next summer when we feel we may be in a better position financially to try and buy a new or newer car, but maybe we'll be forced to get a car earlier.

Sigh. Let's see what happens...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Apparently, Taking My Husband's Name Has Ruined my Career 10/114

When I read this and that (linked from first) I wondered: "Ah!!! That's why I'm not doing great professionally, then?! Because I took my husband's name?!" And the funny thing is that I think of that very often at the university, whenever I see myself referred to as "Dr. My Last Name" -- that should be K, not me, I think, since he's the tenure-track guy -- silly thought, I know. Moreover, once in a while I need to give my username to do something and I always have to say which "under my last name" person I am since both K & I appear there (at least our name is unique enough that there aren't any other people with that last name at the university).

It was not without some qualms that I made the decision to take K's name... in Brazil I could keep my other last names: two, my mom's family name & my dad's family name, no "middle name" for me (some people do have them, though, and their names are really long, four names to begin with, such as Ana Beatriz Lima Oliveira which then grow longer with the addition of the husband's upon marriage). So the fact that I could keep the names made me more at peace with the decision, and then I may have also thought that I wanted to share a name with my children (I've always wanted to have children) -- I suppose that's a common reason for changing one's name when marrying. Another thought of mine was that my last names were already patriarchal to begin with -- my dad's dad last name, my mom's dad... so adding my husband's dad name to the mix would just be more of the same. Sigh.

The day I changed my facebook account to include my full name I made a fuss about it and wrote a furious rant about this issue of people having to drop their names in this country -- mostly, I suppose, because of fitting names inside various bureaucratic forms. People responded with sympathy and curiosity. Yes, I really don't like the fact that here in the U.S. I can't really use my other last names and I have been reduced to First Name/ Husband's Last Name. I used my full name (three last names) in my dissertation, though... I just could NOT not do it. I'm always stumped when I have to provide a "middle initial" because I have two "middle" names (both "surnames" or family names).

So... according to these statistical findings, apparently my decision to take my husband's name may be related to something in me that makes me not be as successful professionally as I should. The truth of the matter is... I don't really care too much (except that I do wish I could make more money... but don't have what it takes to do it, perhaps). I am really happy with my husband, his family is wonderful and I don't mind having taken their name... However, sometimes I do wonder whether I should have left my maiden name intact. Too late to go back at this point.

P.S. The funny thing about names is that my oldest son claims ALL of our family names (my husband's two last names and my two) as his own, even though he only has my dad's and my father-in-laws names attached to his.

Little Drummer Boy (Armless & Homeless) Arrested Last Night in Wall Street Protest 9/114

Jesus Guadalupe (what a beautiful smile this young man has, no?) was arrested last night in Wall Street. Probably for playing his drums after the noise curfew.
Via Michael Moore's twitter feed.

It feels funny to be blogging this early and talking about news/current events, something I only blog belatedly, if at all. I think I like this daily blogging after all. And it doesn't take more time than more sporadic (and longer) posting will.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

On the other hand... (Or Bittersweet) 8/114

... the timing is really bittersweet because earlier this evening, my son and his little brother were absolutely elated because they found K's ipod touch which had been missing since we moved to this house in April...

Oh, and I told him right before he had to get into bed, so we didn't have time to talk about it. He didn't say anything, only nodding when I asked whether he was sad. We'll talk more later. My youngest wanted to know what happened and I mentioned cancer... but, differently from his Apple fanatic older brother, he doesn't really know/understand who Steve Jobs is.

My Son is Sad Today... 7/114

... because a person he much admired and hoped could be his "boss" someday (Steve Jobs) has died.

I feel sad too (not so much for his bio-dad BTW)... even though I'm not really an "apple person." I think he was a real innovator and he contributed a lot or technological creativity to the world. 


Edited to add: Someone else's son is devastated tonight and it looks like his sadness is way greater than my son's since Steve Jobs was his hero in a more personal and more emotional way. These posts really moved me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Can I do it? 6/114

Frankly, I don't know if I have the stamina needed to keep this blogging marathon going until the end... (sigh)

Now that things were getting more into a routine I got involved with one more thing at the university (a kind of faculty discussion group that will do some research together) and I will have to do some serious re-structuring of my new class (I don't HAVE to do it, but since it was recommended by the Gen Ed folks who reviewed -- and approved -- my syllabus & new class, I will do it).

I don't know how I'll cope with that. I'm just burying my head in the sand right now, even though I teach at 12:20 tomorrow morning and have a dentist visit 2h before that (should be quick) plus a fitness class that I don't want to give up 'cause it's my only fitness class every week at 9 am.

Well... I will keep trying and see where I'll get with this!

First Fall Virus 5/114

I went to bed early last night. After arriving back from town (I had to show a film to my students & had to leave the boys at a friend's house because K had a dinner to go to) I didn't even turn the computer on to check email, blog, etc. before going to bed. This never ever happens!

I'm not that sick, it's mostly laryngitis, so my throat is painful and it's hard to swallow. I'm feeling a bit better already, too bad I have a very busy day before me today... sigh. So, I have to go and get started. I'll blog more later...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - Brief Comment & Links 3/114

I don't watch TV, so I have no idea whether the media in this country is covering Occupy Wall Street and how it's doing it. I first heard about it from Michael Moore's twitter feed and recently I've read this very interesting article by David Graeber in UK's The Guardian, about it. It is titled "Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination" and the byline goes "The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future."

Laura @ 11D just wrote a post about it with two other links that you should check out. I wonder if anything will come from this movement. Yesterday I followed my twitter feed and the photos it directed me to with interest since they had occupied the Brooklyn Bridge and the police arrested hundreds of people, including a NYT reporter.

Whoa! Apparently 700 were arrested and that demonstrations will continue in spite of that. ("The more they fight it, the stronger it gets" is Michael Moore's website tagline for that last link above).

Let's see where these protests are going... After watching Inside Job and other documentaries about the financial crisis, I have lost all faith in any people "down below" having any influence on what goes on with the rich and powerful and with the corrupt politicians....

P.S. I forgot to link to this photo of airline pilots protesting.

My foe in the past year: Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (and a very bad health care experience) 2/114

Now that my eyes feel normal and healthy again, I can write about this without annoying y'all with a whiny tone!

It all started during orientation last year (in August). I couldn't put my contacts on, particularly on my right eye, without feeling that there were "grains of sand" or some other bothersome particles that made me blink non-stop. My eye also itched like crazy and some morning it was a bit swollen and sticky. Sometimes I also felt that my eyeball was moving on its own. My son had had regular conjunctivitis (commonly called "pink eye") a few months earlier, so I quit wearing contacts for a few days and used his drops (I know... one shouldn't do that). It didn't help too much...

Then, I started freaking out, thinking that maybe I had that problem (since I have this pesky virus on my lips) and I used some other eye drops that my mom had been prescribed for a sudden pain in her eye months before too. I know... very bad as well, but it was just for a few days.

I felt the discomfort on and off, but still managed to wear my contacts to yoga and to teach my classes, but only barely. One morning, while driving to yoga class my eye felt so bad that I had to take my right contacts off in the middle of the highway (while driving) because it was impossible to see otherwise! That was the last straw and I finally decided to see the doctor, but I made a mistake... I didn't go to an optometrist, I went to the eye doctor (ophthalmologist) practice where I'd taken my youngest son earlier (he has amblyopia, or lazy eye, because we didn't find out he had very poor eyesight in his left eye until May last year when he was 6).

The doctor examined me in late November, barely told me what I had (I wasn't able to memorize the diagnosis, it is a mouthful, after all) and prescribed eye drops for three weeks (and told me not to wear my contacts). He didn't tell me that the drops were a corticosteroid, which should not be used for more than a few weeks.

In my return visit with the doctor, I paid close attention to the name of the condition (GPC: Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis) and also, very concerned, I asked the doctor whether the condition had any relationship to the fact that I'd been wearing contact lenses for 20+ years and whether I was becoming intolerant of the contacts. He said that no, it had nothing to do with contacts (BIG! FAT! LIE!) and when I talked to him about my son having to wear a patch and whether there was any therapy that could help to recover the vision in his left eye he also said that patching was the only way, that therapies didn't work (according to other sources, another lie!).

When I came home I googled GPC and I immediately found out that this condition is often 100% percent related to contacts (OR, alternately, to hay fever & allergies). This is the first sentence on the NIH (National Institutes of Health) website of the American Ophthalmological Society that talks about GPC:
"Giant papillary conjunctivitis is a syndrome found frequently as a complication of contact lenses."
Isn't it outrageous that this doctor (an older man, white haired, probably one of the senior members of their practice) would simply "lie" to a patient so blatantly like that? The funny thing was that my mom mentioned the story to her new ophthalmologist in Brazil and he started to defend the doctor here in the U.S. saying that he hadn't lied, that GPC was an intolerance to the contact lenses' solutions, not the lens itself... whatever! In any case it IS totally related to contact lens us. The scariest part was what this doctor said next to my mom: that the only way to get rid of GPC -- but just maybe! -- would be not to wear contacts for three months and, if it didn't help, for a whole year -- but that there was no guarantee of it not coming back again, just a good chance that the eye would heal. I started freaking out! And thinking that I really, really needed eye-surgery (LASIK).

The truth is that it became unbearable to wear my contacts and I only tried to put them on to go to yoga class, but I couple of times I had to take them off and do yoga nearly blindly... :( I had to wear my (older) glasses constantly now and that made me cranky, unhappy and really upset! I really don't like wearing glasses (I suppose that this is an understatement) and I just didn't feel like myself in them. In spite of that, I knew that the condition was serious and so I wore glasses for months. It was only later in the summer that I began to try to wear my contacts again for a few hours each day. I wore them for a few days in a row before going to a (highly recommended by a friend) optometrist.

My eyes were declared healthy and she explained to me that GPC is definitely related to contact lens use and that she had actually even had it in the past (I wonder why she herself didn't get LASIK -- that is a little unsettling for me). In fact, after I began talking to friends and acquaintances about GPC I found out several other people who have had it and recovered. I think that my problem was aggravated by the fact that it took me so long to go to a doctor and because I kept wearing my contacts in spite of the discomfort.

I am glad that my eyes are fine, but terrified that they'll get GPC again! Let's see what will happen, I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile, I still need to decide whether to order the daily use contacts I sampled. They're awesome, but much more expensive than the biweekly/monthly ones... sigh...

New "Bloggy" Goal -- Beat Last Year's Number of posts: 1/114

The only way to write more posts this year than I did last year (one of my New Year's "resolutions") will be posting 114 more times. Too bad that there are only three more months to this year, so posting daily can only yield 92 posts. This means I will have to write every day and also post multiple times for a few of them. Sigh... These will be my private "National Blog Posting Months," then, October, November and December, 2011. 

I will try, even if it means posting a whole lot of photos! ;) 

Do you think I can do it? Or is this just the silliest goal ever? I usually have tons of things to write about & can't seem to shut up, but I think I'll need some help -- is there anything you'd like me to blog about in the upcoming 113 posts?