Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year of Transformations

2012 was AWESOME!

In fact, I'm thrilled to go back to my life's regular pattern -- with the exception of 2008-2009, every year of my life has been better than the year before. Seriously. I know that it probably won't be like that forever, but that's OK.

The transformations I'm talking about in the title are two: getting a "real" job that I love, love, love! (my first full time job EVER, at 41!) and getting rid of eyeglasses after my eye-surgery. Both life-changing events.

And the highlight of the year was the trips: South Africa for 10 days, another life-changing experience, and Brazil in July-August.

We're ending the year with this current trip, first to Nashville to visit my aunt and now in Texas, visiting  dear friends and family (brother-in-law, SIL, nephew, niece; K's cousin and her boyfriend; and K's second cousin and his family).

We stayed at the house of two dear friends who moved away from our town last summer and it was lovely to just talk and talk to them. We also visited a long-time friend we hadn't seen in two years (my brother's classmate from 5th-8th grade) and her family, including her parents and her sister whom I hadn't seen in maybe 18 years.

We came to K's 2nd cousin's house this afternoon and we had a great meal at this awesome Tex-Mex place, Papasito's Cantina. Being a vegetarian paid off BIG time, since our meal was way cheaper than our cousins'! ;)

Two days of traveling lay ahead and we're tired just thinking about it, but hopefully it won't be a bad trip back. I will probably be blogging form the road, so you should hear from me again soon.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I forgot I had already posted enough to pass last year's number of posts!

In spite of that I'll try to write a couple more posts before the end the year.

I don't mind that there's no Internet & wifi at the house we're staying because this trip was primarily to see & spend time with family & friends and we're doing just that!

This trip was the best present I could have received!! I can't thank my husband enough for all the driving he's done and will do. Both of us hate driving and he always does most of the driving when we travel (like now)... He says we're never driving back here -- only if maybe I drive... Sigh...

Friday, December 28, 2012


I had been planning to write a series of end-of-the year posts, but our friends here in TX don't have Internet or wireless (not their fault! It's he street they live in), so my plans went completely awry. :-(

As it is I will have a hard time to surpass last year's number of posts as well. It's ok to blog from my phone, but not the same as blogging from the computer... Sigh. And I haven't read other people's posts here either since he browser isn't that great.

Well... We we are having a lovely -- if SUPER short -- vacation! More later...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Texas Trip Fiasco

Edited to add: We are going to arrive after 10 pm when we could have been here for two hours already! Thankfully after Little Rock things went smoothly. I can't believe that a reader of his blog was driving in the opposite direction! Small world!

We left Nashville, TN at 9 am today and we hoped to arrive in Texas (greater Dallas area) around 8 pm at the latest and we were on track to do that until Arkansas got on our way! :-(

There is a long stretch of road on I-40 in Eastern AK in which we were stuck for 2+ hours as traffic inexplicably came to a stand still and hen crawled for miles and miles until the road narrowed to one lane (with very poor signage, I must say).

I Googled feverishly, but it wasn't an accident, it's just the (seasonally abandoned) construction zone. On he way back we'll need to take a detour and we've already checked which exits. What may have made it worst today was hat it had been snowing and there was quite a bit of snow on he ground (not on he interstate). We took an exit for my son to go to the bathroom all gas stations were closed due to weather! (He had to go on the parking lot in the back).

After the road went back to its regular 2 lanes we thought thinks would go smoothly from then on, but no! There are a few more pockets of slow moving traffic. We're just hoping that after Little Rock things will get better, of else we may have to sleep on he road. :-(

We're dreading the trip back and second guessing our decision to make this super long road trip... Sigh. Gazer delay now? Oh and in less than an hour it'll be dark!

Wish us luck, I'll update this post later. Here's. photo from the road:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

I'm delighted that I got my Christmas wish this year, though we haven't yet fulfilled it (we will in a few days): we are driving to Texas to see family and friends!

We are in Nashville right now, at my aunt and uncle's house and I'm also thrilled that I can spend Christmas with them, the last time was back in 1985, the year before they moved to the U.S. with their three small children. Bere is my youngest aunt, my dad's baby sister, youngest of 8 siblings. She is beautiful inside and out, her bright dark blue eyes brimming with joy at having us here.

After they moved to the U.S. we saw each other sparingly across the years, but since 2003 we have been able to get together every two or three years. Her only granddaughter (her daughter's only child) considers my sons her cousins (she has only one grown up cousin in her dad's side) and she remembers all her past meetings with them even though she's only 7.

It also was nice to meet my youngest cousin's wife and her daughters (my cousin's step-daughters). They are more or less same age as my sons and they are very much like them too! I hope that we get to see each other again more often.

I hope you all have a wonderful day with friends and family!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

USELESS! Netflix Streaming and Amazon Instant Video (Prime)

Well, I haven't had time to blog this (hopefully I'll share some photos at some point), but we finally "broke down" and decided to update our TV to a 21st century model -- in spite of the fact that we most definitely do NOT watch TV!

Occasionally, however, I enjoy watching some live broadcast stuff, so we bought a leaf antenna and I'm excited that I finally can watch SNL, the Oscars and other stuff like that. Last year was the first in many years in which I was unable to watch the Academy Awards & I felt frustrated and out of he loop 'cause I couldn't watch online! I also think that it's useful to be able to watch he local news as well, on e in a while.

We don't watch TV (with a few exceptions), but we do enjoy watching films once in a while, so I went back to Netflix, hoping that maybe its streaming service would be better and also signed up for Amazon Prime, for the shipping and hoping they'd have some good stuff streaming for free.

Boy was I wrong!!!! Both services are virtually useless!!! My Netflix queue that had hundreds of titles was now reduced to a pitiful selection of films I didn't want to see and Amazon offers are equally paltry.

So... We bought a great quality TV, but unless I we buy he Blu-ray Disc or wait for days until a disc arrives in the mail from Netflix (costing 8 bucks a month EXTRA now) or pay from 4-6 dollars one more per feature to stream it through Amazon, we can't watch anything we want to watch!! And I'm really mad about that!!! Hollywood is evil, they want to make as much money as possible. :-(. [insert big pout here!]

All I wanted last week was to see Love Actually again!! :-(

What do I do??? I miss video rental stores!! They had an awesome one in Amherst that had a 5 DVDs/5 days/5 dollars deal that was awesome! I can't believe that I bought a new TV a month ago and I haven't seen one single film in it because of his "situation."

21st century my foot!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Revisited

I'm planning to write a series of posts here about this past year which was quite remarkable... watch this space!

Nothing yet... (or the elephant in the room)

... I didn't want to write about this, so I will write this post quickly and let it be buried by several others.

I have heard nothing yet regarding the equivalent to an MLA interview (since I won't be there). Do those of you in my field think I still might hear from them or can I count myself out?

In my last few weeks teaching I felt that for those that are in the know about my application (I don't know who the search committee members are, but I suspect), this has become an "elephant in the room" which makes our interactions a bit awkward.

OK, let me move on. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

18 Years Ago Tonight...

...I was waiting at the airport with my brand-new husband to board a flight to go on our honeymoon.

We were married earlier that day, around noon-1pm (some images here) and what not many people know (only our [only mine? can't remember now] parents who drove us to the airport) is that the honeymoon trip had a bumpy start!

We got to the airport early and noticed that our flight was delayed, so we didn't hurry to do our check in. However... because we didn't check in, we "missed" the flight even though we were there with plenty of time to fly! I was flabbergasted. It all worked out for the best, though, because the later flight we were re-scheduled to take meant that we arrived at our really old hotel in Recife early in the morning instead of in the middle of the night (which would have been slightly disagreeable).

A friend of the family had booked the hotel which was very cheap and had a wonderful view, but which was in such disrepair that the taxi driver who took us told up flatly that we wouldn't be staying there long! (That was pretty ominous, but it was OK, we were there for a week and we were fine. In fact, we took public transportation [crowded buses] in several occasions during the honeymoon! That's what budget honeymooners like us do -- and also buying food at the supermarket not to go out to eat for every meal).

In any case, 18 years later here we are, happier than on day one, actually! We continue our stringent budget lifestyle (which today meant going out for lunch while kids were in school instead of hiring a baby-sitter, which we don't really have anyway).

As some of you have seen already, today I decided to post about our anniversary on facebook and it was nice to receive a bunch of congratulatory comments! The blog post comes a little late (it's after midnight, but I'll change the date so it's posted on the 18th), but better late than never, right?

I can let you know more about our month-long honeymoon which involved a week or so of travel with my husband's family -- something that horrifies some of our friends! I had a wonderful time getting to know Brazil's Northeast (which is the part of the country my husband's family hails from) and several places where K spent his childhood, including the town where he was born. We went back to some of these places last summer, but that decrepit hotel has been gone for years and replaced by fancy high-rises in front of the beautiful Boa Viagem beach.

Ha! Boa Viagem means a "good trip"-- in spite of the bumpy beginning, our honeymoon was a good trip indeed!

P.S. I was going to include some photos of Boa Viagem I took last August, but my browser is horribly slow, so maybe I'll do that in a separate post so I can go to bed! (it's 1:41 am, this morning after K took the kids to school we went back to sleep and woke up at 11 am, it was awesome!)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Because Getting "Almost There" is Not Enough!! Apple Allows Google Maps Back

Last night my iPhone 5 took us ALMOST to the hotel we were going to spend the night in. "Almost there" at 10:30 pm when you're exhausted is pretty aggravating! Thankfully we had seen photos of the hotel online and we were able to recognize it on the other side of the road after we drove around a bit.

Interestingly enough, when K opened his laptop inside the room, the first piece of news he saw was that Apple had relented and allowed its devices to have Google Maps again! I was elated to hear that and surprised at the timing of our trip & the news.

The very first time I used my brand new iPhone's map feature, it almost took me to Whole Foods as well. I already knew it was a defective feature, so I didn't think anything of it, especially since I could plainly see the error and the store in front of me on my left and not 300 ft. ahead on the right as my phone was telling me.

The next two short trips were uneventful and precise -- and when K first saw the Maps in action he was delighted with the interface. Last night's frustration, though, made it clear to us that it's unacceptable to have this feature make so many mistakes. I will be downloading the Google Maps app soon!

More on the FedEx Arrow...

... or, thanks Kate and Jo(e), you made my day!

You cannot imagine how many times (hundreds!) I wrote this post on my head while on the road. But I could never do it because: 1) I was driving; 2) I didn't have a smart phone. It was only now that I have an iPhone and on a rare day in which my husband was driving and not me (we're hardly ever together in the car during the semester) that I was finally able to pull it off!

To answer Kate's question, nobody ever pointed out the arrow to me (as I did to you today), I was just in traffic, behind a FedEx truck and all of a sudden I saw it! It was sometime between 2004-2007 when I lived close to the Philadelphia airport that I first saw it and then became a bit obsessed with it.

When thinking of writing my blog post, I imagined that there must have been someone reading the blog who had never noticed it and in fact, there were! Here's another photo that I took from my living room one day when the neighbors across the street had a delivery:
Last, but not least, my dear friend J emailed me this very interesting link titled "Clever Logos - Can You Guess?" It has some other fascinating logos that have some "hidden" images too. Thanks to you too, J!

Anyone else hadn't seen the FedEx arrow before? I'm just sooooo curious to find out!

FedEx's Arrow

There was a time when I didn't know that the FedEx logo had an arrow. Have you always seen the arrow?

Once you see it for the first time, you'll always see it afterwards (I know... Pretty obvious... In spite of that I still wanted to blog this). Here's a photo I just took on the road between universities 2 & 3:
If you need some help, look between the E and the X! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 12:12 pm

Fun, "historic" date! I couldn't miss posting today, could I? Since there are only twelve months, it's the last possible month/day/year "matching" date until next century, right?

I blogged on 11/11/11 last year, at 11:11 pm, but I missed 10/10/10. This one I'm scheduling, though (it's 9:24 am right now), because I will probably be at my sons' school at 12 pm today -- the principal printed out many posters saying "Today is 12/12/12" and spread them through the whole school, I thought that was cute!

Remembering of Matching Days Past
I should take photos of all the silly stuff I wrote on 8/8/88, I was really excited about that day! And 7/7/77 was my 6th (not 7th) birthday... interesting, huh? (my mom took several photos with the date on this green "blackboard" I had received as a gift). Oh, I posted on 07/07/07, my 36th b-day! My last "matching date" post (apart from last year's 11/11/11 one) was on 09/09/09 and I wrote about reading Little Women. My sister-in-law thought it was a "thoughtful and refreshing post," thanks, A! Yeah, that's it for matching dates and me & the blog.

Today I don't have much to say, apart on reflecting on matching dates past. It's a cloudy and cold day in December. I'm thankful that both my sons are in school (the oldest stayed home for two days with the flu) and that my husband will be able to drive me to university #3 this afternoon (we're staying overnight, they are footing the bill) so I can give my second final exam tomorrow morning (two more to go at university #2 on Saturday night and next Monday).

So, all is good! (more later!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Day Off: Home with Sick Child

Today it felt a little sad that on our first day after classes are over we had to take care of a sick child!
I cannot imagine how hard it would have been if the boys had fallen sick while I was still commuting daily. K says he'd just have to take the sick boy(s) to his office, teach his classes for a few hours and come back home with them.

Last year I had to drag a very feverish older son into my office where he stayed for 1h15 min while I taught and then we drove back home... not ideal, but since we don't teach that many hours and can work a lot from home otherwise, it's pretty feasible.

I can only imagine how hard it must be for those who don't have any flexible hours, which is most people in the workforce. Sick children must be an incredible difficulty for them!

Luckily for us, today K & I were able to take turns caring for our older son -- K in the morning while I volunteered at the boys' school and me in the afternoon. We'll do the same tomorrow, except that I need to take younger son to vision therapy and I may have to drag older son along if he's not well to go to school. :(

Worst of all, though, is the possibility that I'll have to drive by myself to my 3rd university on Wednesday (I'm going to give the final exam for this class) if our son is not well enough to stay at a friend's house overnight. :( K had offered to go with me and I was so happy that we'd finally get to spend some time away together -- even if it's just for work!

Well, keep your fingers crossed for me/us!

Sunday, December 09, 2012


So I decided to have my initial "L" as my name on the blog for now. I'm still deciding on whether to delete old photos or not. I'll leave them for now...

Thanks to the eight people who voted! :)

Friday, December 07, 2012

The "Tele-Teaching" Poster Child or...

... according to my husband's department chair, "everything that is wrong with [that] university."

Apparently, I've become the "poster-child" for tele-teaching at my former institution. My husband heard that from a colleague and then from his department chair, who stopped by his office to share this story a few weeks ago.

Higher-up administrators such as provosts and others had a meeting and K's department chair and colleague attended. The provost was talking about how the project is going extremely well at the university and then cheerfully mentioned that there was this language class that was a great success.

K's department chair immediately commented (probably not to the speaker, but to those around him): "I know who teaches that class, and she's not even ours. She can be a successful instructor for this program, but the university can't even hire her!" and after sharing this with K, he added "This is an example of everything that is wrong with this university."

Well, I couldn't agree more!!!

Yesterday was my very last "extreme tele-teaching" class and I'm relieved that that this is over as well. At the end of our last class I got some feedback from the students and it was all positive, surprisingly to me, since I didn't think it was that great. It did go pretty well, though, my only complaint was that I felt they didn't talk to me much (they recognized that as true). Maybe the administrators are right, it was a good class. Next semester it'll be a regular tele-teaching gig, I'll be in the room with the students and a group from the other university will join us. I'm very relieved I'm done for now (except for two separate finals -- I insisted in driving to the other university to finally meet the students in person and they'll pay for my trip and lodging!).

OK, two posts back to back, that's a little too much for me, so I'll go now!

The Last One!!/ Back "Home"

I'm so thrilled that today is the last day I have to drive 152 miles to work and back every single day of the week!

I have a lull in grading until I give my finals next week (four separate finals, mind you, in three different universities too -- I HAVE to blog about that "teleteaching" gig thingy... I know, I should treat this experiment I was subjected to with more respect, but I just don't. Period.), and then.... I'll be "free" for a few weeks (except that I have a BRAND NEW class to prepare for, but I'm not too stressed out about it, I think it'll be fine).

It will be my very first literature class in 8 long years!! YAY!!! I'm coming back home, baby!

Not to stay, though. If I continue as a lecturer, "home" will continue to be taught by someone else. :(

Yeah, maybe I'm not meant to be a real, grown up, professor. Maybe I'll be in this "in-between" position my whole life. But I know that if that happens it's "meant to be" and it'll be fine!

OK, now I'm ready to write another post about being "in-between" but I need to go shopping for my nephew first!

P.S. Xmas cards are ordered. Picking up the first batch from evil super-store this afternoon and second batch from wholesale store tomorrow. Last batch (first cardstock cards ever, double sided! thanks to cheap super-store options) being mailed sometimes next week. I feel sooooo accomplished! Even though I stayed up until 3 am to 1) design and order the cards; 2) grade. See how the grading came last? yeah, that's why I'm always happy. Duty comes always last. All right, that's not good, I know, but I don't regret it (and that's why I don't care if I don't get the TT job because if I do, that'll have to change and I'm afraid to adapt & put duty first).

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Right Now I Really Wish I Were a "Bigger" Blogger -- Because of the WiiU

I used to get stuff (mostly books and other things like cleaning supplies and food/drink items) to review on this blog, but that's ended a long, long time ago...

My sons, OK, my older son, desperately wants a Wii U and he has asked me to tell everyone in the family to give him and his brother money for the holidays, not toys (his younger brother is not too keen on not getting ANY presents or toys, I must say) so they can save enough to buy one.

Almost four years ago I actually threw a birthday party for my then seven year old and got the guts to say on the invitation that he wanted nothing but money so he could get a Wii. About 70 guests and 250 dollars later, which our friends generously gave him, he was the proud owner of the game. And happily he's played it surprisingly little in the past almost four years (good!).

And now he wants the new version of the game. Too bad I'm not a celebrity blogger (like Heather or Rebecca) or Nintendo would send me a game so I could host a game party and a give-away on the blog. :(

I'm positively jealous (and I hate to feel that way) and I don't even want to participate on their give-aways because I don't think I'll be the lucky one (that's the pessimistic realist in me talking). Blah...

The worst part of all this is that I'm not thrilled that my son wants the game, given that I can't stand anything Nintendo (I let him buy the console thinking naively that he could stay with the sports games and that we'd steer away from the Mario themed junk. Alas, it was not to be. And now I know that the new console is ALL about the Nitendo characters even more than the old one). even more BLAH!

P.S. I do think that Wii Fit is pretty good, though. It taught me yoga! (I know it has a 'weight problem,' however. We're mostly underweight in our family and the Wii thinks we're doing great. It even said once that my perfectly healthy oldest nephew is overweight -- RIDICULOUS!).

All right, rant over!

Monday, December 03, 2012

So, so sad...

This and that (identical posts from Heather & Jon).

I feel so bad for them that I almost want to stop reading her blog (I have felt that way for a while now, unfortunately).

The saddest part for me was reading Heather's book sometime last year. I read it much too late, after they had already separated, which made reading the book all the more heartbreaking. I feel sorry for anyone picking up that book now and later finding out that their relationship ended.

The book, which I thoroughly enjoyed in terms of content because I hadn't been reading her blog when Leta was born, is as much the story of having baby and becoming a mother as it is Heather and Jon's love story and the child that came from that relationship. It's hard to imagine all of that being simply gone and over.

I'm glad that she's not going to be a second Elizabeth Gilbert, making lots of money from sharing all the details of her divorce (I really hated that about Eat, Pray & Love and other things too... I think certain people just know how to write to make money, Heather is not like that exactly...). She did write a lot about the family and their relationship and when I read her blog now I just feel like there's this HUGE empty space where Jon should be. The girls have so much of him in them and now that is just not talked about anymore. I don't like that. It's not the way things should be in my point of view... perhaps because of my upbringing and because of my family history: there are very few divorces in mine and K's family.*

It's sad to think that Heather suffered so much because of her parents' divorce and now she's going through it too. And that this is Jon's second divorce. And that there are two girls who will have to live separate lives with each parent. Oh well, what can we readers do, nothing, obviously. I just feel a bit bad that I cannot feel very sympathetic. I don't know what they're going through and I hope I never will, so I don't want to know. I know too that they will be OK, but I still feel sorry for them and... yeah, for us, the readers.

OK, enough of this rambling. Back to regularly scheduled business...

*My dad has seven siblings and there are ten grandchildren on that side (including me), all married. There were only two divorces: my dad oldest brother (back in the early 70s) and one of my cousins. In my mom's side there are five siblings and eleven grandchildren. There had been no divorces at all until last month when my cousin, after 25 years of marriage, decided to split from his wife. In K's family -- both his dad's and his mom's side have no divorces, only among my mother-in-law's cousins.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Online Shopping Spree

Last Sunday I should have spent the whole day grading, but I didn't.

This is what I did instead...

... I spent a really long time deciding which Metropolitan Vera Bradley bag on sale to order (this particular bag was recommended by a friend because it fits a laptop, is roomy and I think that it looks a bit more professional than my colorful backpack. Besides they are not going to be made anymore). I picked the "Rhythm & Blues" one:
Then, the site began to display their "Cyber Monday" discounts (on Sunday afternoon) and went ahead and got this matching clutch to carry my iphone (I also needed one more item to be able to use a coupon for 20 dollars off -- I know, it's an old trick to get you to spend more):

For some really random reason, while browsing, I remembered Painted Birds shoes and clicked on the site. These lovely hand-crocheted shoes (made by women in India that I hope are paid a fair wage for their work) cost a lot, but they were having a 50% sale, so I couldn't resist and ordered this:

... but only after I'd spend a long time (again) deciding between this and another green, blue and yellow pair. I even tried to figure out if the colors matched those of the bag above (and they kind of do! ;)

Then on Monday I remembered this gorgeous dress that I'd seen on Target (feMOMhist got me started on Target dresses with this post -- my comment proves it -- and this other one!) and it was also on sale for 18 bucks, so I went ahead and ordered it.
The worst (?!) part it that I don't feel ANY guilt whatsoever, quite the opposite. I had wanted or needed these things for a long time and now I decided to get them. I know that this whole "discount" thing is relative because it's impossible to know the "real value" of anything. And I think I deserve some pretty things, don't I?

What do you think of my purchases?

P.S. I'm staying at other-university town tonight and while on the phone with my husband I learned that the shoes and the bags arrived. He thought that the shoes were too pricey. :(  (I hope there's no receipt with the bags!! [I don't think there is]

P.S.2 I'll be a good girl and grade now. I feel only a tiny bit bad for having gotten my "reward" before doing the work I should have been doing. ;)

2.65% Fixed-Rate 15 Year Loan!!

You may remember that our house did not appraise at the value that we needed it to for the refinancing (we'd have to come up with 19 thousand dollars).

However, there are several more options and some of them involve a promotional fixed rate of 2.65% for a 15 year loan!!! I think we cannot let this opportunity pass, even though it means we'll have to borrow 9K from somewhere (if we pay everything with credit card in the next month we'll be very close to that amount by saving all our earnings and then we can borrow a bit more on one of our ccs).

I hate to be in debt, but this type of debt is "good debt" that will save us over 100,000 in interest!!

I am just so happy this will work out in the end! Too bad this will mean that we can't afford to travel over the holidays anymore so we can save as much as possible. :(

We need to close by Dec. 26, so the refinance will be our "Christmas present." ;)

Monday, November 26, 2012

First Birthday!!

Today is my youngest nephew's first birthday! Isn't he the most adorable thing ever? I just wish I knew how old he'll be when I will finally get to meet him. :(
I have four other nephews and one niece, but they belong to my husband's side of the family, so this is the only nephew to whom I'm related by blood (and there's also a sibling for him on the way, that's so wonderful!). I just wish I could afford to travel to Brazil where they are now (or to New Zealand where they live) to meet him and spend time to my brother and his wife. My dream for this December is not coming true, unfortunately. :( It's all good, though, I'm glad my parents are enjoying this special time with their grandson (my brother & his wife are staying in Brazil for several months, but they go back to NZ in January).

I've got a poll for you!!! -->

Dear blog readers, I put a poll up on my side bar which will be there for a week (until 12/03).

Could you let me know if you think I should only use only "L" as my blog name/pseudonym or "LitMama"?

I just had this idea that maybe I'll feel better about using only my initial as some of my anonymous blogging friends do even though "LitMama" also describes me pretty well.

I think I'm just getting tired of the "Mama" part of me now that I'm working full time for the very first time in my life!!!

So I'm leaning towards L, but I'd love to hear your opinion, which is just a click (or two, if you have to open the blog from a reader) away.

Thanks! Obrigada!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What's in a Name...

I couldn't think of not blogging with first my name, but I decided to change that now.

And since my blog's name is way too long, I'm going with LitMama. I feel a little sad, but I think it's going to make me feel a bit better about sharing so much about my life here in this space. I'm glad that those who have been reading for a while know my name, I just ask you not to use it anymore.

I also realize that my blog is still connected to my first name in comments I've left in the past all over the blogosphere and I'm OK with that. If you have a link to my blog at your own blog (blogroll, for example) and by any chance you've used my first name, you can change that if you have a minute.

This is probably useless since I don't have a big readership, but I just wanted to add a bit more privacy to this really open blog. I am not deleting photos that have my face in them yet, but maybe I'll do it at some point. I hope it's not necessary. I will probably change the blog description as well so the subject I teach becomes more obscure.

This feels really weird and I don't know exactly why I'm doing it, I guess I just thought it was about time. I hope you don't mind!! :)


Edited to add: I'm editing the blog mast description as well (and will change the profile soon), so I just wanted to register here ("buried" in a post) what the description looked like in the past year: "2 sons, 2 languages, 2 countries (Brazil and the U.S.), 2 "worlds" (academic/ home-front), 2 PhDs (mine & my husband's). Where translation and & "in-between-ness" have become a way of life. Now with 2 cats!"

Friday, November 23, 2012

I'm Most Thankful...

... that all my "black Friday" shopping was done by 12:20 pm tonight!!

I even had K (who hates stores and shopping) accompany me to the stores that were opening at 8 and 9 pm (WM & Target). My ten year old really wanted to go as well, so he went with us and experience his very first "Black Friday" on Thursday night, before his bedtime!! And then I went quickly to a store that opened at midnight, but I got out of there in less than 20 minutes!

We bought almost everything in our list (things we actually needed):
  • memory foam mattress toppers for the boys;
  • Fire-pit for our brick patio;
  • pajama for K & robe for my uncle;
  • big plush throws for our living room (we already have two, but our guests truly love them, so I got two more);
  • Cuddl'Duds (great brand!)fleece underwear top (I wanted another pair of their fleece leggings, but the store didn't have them).
And I few things we didn't exactly need, but which were cheap and will also be useful:
  • memory foam bathroom mats;  
We couldn't get the table tennis (I prefer) ping-pong table we wanted because the store must have had only one, but that's OK.

The food today was AMAZING! (as always). And I'm glad we have tons of leftover for tomorrow. I hope to blog more about that later!

I feel a bit sorry for my in-laws because they decided to go to a store that opened at midnight and they are still out, but I'm delighted that I'm going to bed now!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eight Years!!! (a week ago)

I missed my blog-anniversary again this year (like in years 4, 5, and 6, I think, according to last year's post)! :(

The blogiversary, as some people like to call it, was precisely a week ago, so I suppose it's OK to blog about it today.

No more photos of of me as in previous years, though... I don't think I'm going to delete the ones I've posted in the past, but I am seriously considering removing my first name from the blog so I can feel safer as I continue to navigate almost having an academic life! ;) I don't know if you noticed, but I made my location less specific as well.

Eight years... so much happened!! And this past year, as I'll say again in again in end-of-the-year posts to come, was the best of all so far, which has always been the norm in mine and K's life, with the exception of 2008-09.

I still enjoy blogging way more than all the other "social media" out there. Twitter is fine, though I don't tweet, just follow people; and facebook is ok for following, but not posting, at least for me. With nearly 700 friends spanning my whole lifetime and the globe, basically, I feel really exposed there. Is that strange?

I mean... here I am, opening my heart and our lives to anonymous, random people in the internets, but I don't feel exposed, quite the contrary! Whereas on facebook I feel afraid of saying something that I don't want people who only know me from way back or as an acquaintance to know.

Besides, I just have so much to say that 140 characters or short status updates can't simply convey! I guess I'm just prolix by nature and I need room to write lots!

Well, continue to be a very happy blogger and I hope this medium doesn't ever die! :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lovely Longwood

Family day at our favorite place since 2004 when my youngest boy was only 3 months old.
(Photos taken by my 10 year old).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lancaster County,PA is Overrated!

And horribly, unbearably crowded!

But we want to see the Jonah musical on sight & sound before it's gone at the end of the year. So we're paying through the nose and braving the crowds (15+people line at panera) to do it...

Friday, November 16, 2012

why I hate fashion

quick rant and just ONE of many reasons why fashion bothers me
(and... don't get me wrong, I really love clothes and shoes [unfortunately], so it's not about the stuff necessarily)

my question/rant:
when something is ugly. really, really, ugly, like huge black rimmed eyeglasses (my current fashion pet peeve), why, oh, why, is it that people wear it just because it's in fashion?

I just hate hate hate that!
(when ugly or weird stuff is "in" and people wear it "just because")

Why is this type of "peer pressure" so pervasive?

(And sometimes it's happened that I don't have the courage to wear something because I know it's totally "out" of fashion. That makes me mad too.)

Are humans hard wired to simply want to look like each other and brainlessly imitate those who are prestigious and famous?

Why? This disgusts me (and always has).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

the final push...

... to finish writing and submitting my application is NOW!

I had two colleagues proof-read my letter and give suggestions this afternoon. One or them is a former T-T professor at an Ivy-League school* who participated of several search committees in the past; the other is a recent Ph.D. recipient who is on the job market and who has been teaching in our current dept. for three years. S/he knows about last year's failed search and had invaluable "insider information" suggestions for my letter!  
*and who was denied tenure two years ago in a highly dysfunctional department.

I can't wait to finish and submit! And then... the anxious waiting will begin. :(

I need to prepare myself for not getting this position and continuing as a lecturer. I think I should be OK. Less work, more time with my family. Less money, more peace of mind.

The usual trade-offs one encounters in life... sigh...

The bottom line? I didn't go looking for this job or my current job, for that matter. These jobs "found" me and I'm happy they did.

It Didn't Appraise... :(

Well, well... our house didn't appraise high enough to make the 2.875% interest (15 year fixed) desired refinance possible.


Last year's appraisal (before we bought it for a bit less than that): 236K, this year's: 207K.
K thinks sounds horribly unreasonable -- did our house really depreciate 12 in only one year%? That feels awful, though I know it's nothing, really, compared to all the people totally "underwater" in their loans and people having to foreclose. We are very lucky, I know that!

The appraiser is not from our immediate area (differently from the guy who appraised it last year) and the three comps he chose weren't favorable, obviously. The problem is that houses are not selling at all in our small town and the one that sold across the street sold for less.

Our realtor just sent us a bunch of comparisons that are much better (however, they have more acreage and are in different zones). We can still write a letter to the underwriter and submit these other comps, but I don't know if that would help.

Oh well... at least we tried!

(I hope that's not a bad omen or beginning of a string of undesired bad news. It doesn't make me feel very good about submitting my job application tonight. Sigh...)

And welcome back to the speedy roller-coaster ride that is our (my) life!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hitting the Exhaustion Wall: 3 naps in 4 days

I'm hitting the exhaustion wall.

My days are intense:

Before 3:30 pm today I had already driven 152 miles, taught three classes, had lunch with department colleagues, picked up my kids and a neighbor in school and come back home.

But then, I had to take a nap because the last four days (late Thursday last week to today) were CRAZEEE!!

It's not the driving and teaching (and all the grading that I am NOT doing because of all the other stuff), it's the other commitments in our lives

... such as having the house appraised -- it went well, BTW, the appraiser stayed for about half an hour, K had the chance to brag as much as he could about the location of the house, etc and the things we did to it, such as replace the water heater and the roof of the shed. The appraiser even asked what the bank needed it to appraise for. I don't know if he can help us with that or not, though!
... and helping organize a bridal and (co-ed) wedding shower.
... and taking the kids to a 4 hour long Fall festival and going to an hours long practice of the church outdoor Christmas play.

Well, shall I itemize the naps?
- I don't know if the first one counts, but I took a nearly 2 hour nap in the middle of the night from Thursday to Friday (roughly from midnight to 2 am) so I could continue helping K to clean the house and, alternately, try to do some work on the job application or teaching.

- I should have napped on Saturday, but I was unable to because we were planning the activity of that night -- an all-girl spa night for the bride-to-be. I was skeptical (I tend to prefer co-ed activities), but it wasn't bad! We still decorated the wedding shower venue and I came home at 1 am. Well... when I finally went to bed at 2 am, K woke up and we talked until 4:30 am (and got up at 8 the next morning)!! It was a great an exciting conversation (some politics too) that ruined the rest of K's night and that required that I take a nap on Sunday afternoon before trying to write some application materials. I napped while K took the boys to the Fall Festival -- I was really sad to miss it, but I had to so I could go to the rehearsal later.

- And today I needed to nap because I couldn't do anything, really, I had to fight sleepiness on my drive to work AND back... sigh. Obviously part of my nap was spent trying to hear if my sons were doing the right songs on the piano and screaming for them to do their homework and even correcting math problems, but then they settled down with the ipad and I slept in peace for a while.

Wish me luck finishing the application materials. And my students are going to have to be very patient because I'm SUPER behind on the grading!

Friday, November 09, 2012


Not the application, not yet! (I'm hoping to do that by Sunday night even though you have no idea how busy my schedule is this weekend with wedding showers, Fall festival in the boys' school, rehearsals, the works!)

But I sent out the request for recommendation letters from my referees! It feels good to get that out of the way.

Now I just have to go through the day (and drive 150 miles) after going to bed at 5 am last night. The house looks great, though! Decluttered and clean. It's not perfect or anything, but it just looks clean and inviting and that should help a bit for the appraisal, we're hoping.

Don't miss my previous post, much more positive that that one! :) (understatement)

Just What I Needed!

On Wednesday afternoon K picked up his work external hard drive from the person who takes care of computers for his department. It contained all the files and documents from the HD that had died two weeks ago.

I was staying overnight at new job town, but I emailed him to send me the most recent MS Word document of my CV (I only had it in PDF and cutting and pasting from a pdf messes up the WHOLE formatting) and the article I had translated in May.

I took care of the article first, last night (it's the middle of the night, but it's still Thursday for me). I saved it into a PDF and finished the email draft that I had been writing back when the computer had died, when I had started to work on my job application. It was a long email explaining how I had communicated with the author of the works I analyzed and how she liked my article and thought it could be published in Brazil, etc.

This morning (Th) I woke up and... lo and behold! There was a succinct email from the editor in question saying that my article was very good, that they are very proud of the author I wrote about and that they were going to publish it!!! Woo-hooo!!! Just like that! A few hours of wait only.

Some minutes later, he copied me in an email to another person at the journal with my article as an attachment and the number of the journal where it's going to be published. I wrote back thanking him effusively.

Guys, this is a prestigious publication in Brazil because it represents, quite literally, the literary establishment. That means that with a bit more effort and continued publications about this author, I am (or will be) "someone" in Brazil!! I could potentially very easily publish books about her there. It's just a matter of getting the work done, which isn't hard because she's such a great writer and it's a great pleasure to write about her.  (the article I'm publishing was one of those rare pieces of writing that literally "wrote itself")

This small thing totally renewed my confidence in my ability to be a scholar. In fact, I AM a scholar already, yes I am!!

Revising my CV had the same positive effect. 19 conference presentations or participation in 11 years is not negligible by any means! Several of these were huge national conferences, and two international ones. Only a handful of local (one university) conferences.

I know I can totally do this and I have what it takes. I am aware that it will require LOTS of work and effort and, maybe, it's not meant to be. But I'm ready to "fight!" I will go forward with all my might and write a killer cover letter.

I was so confident that I actually sent out a short query for another possible publication, 'cause, you see, I had NOT been actually submitting anything or even looking, for that matter, if there were calls for papers that fit my work and interests. I was just sitting on my behind doing nothing! I know if I just get to work that I can get a lot done in a short period of time.

Of course there's still the writing to be done and that takes time and much effort. And I'm sure that writing a book or two will be a Herculean task for adhd me, but... it's not totally beyond me!

OK, gabfest officially over now! I can't get over how thrilled I was and am about this publication. It's incredible indeed! And I obviously knew it all along because for six years I've had that "Forthcoming" line in my CV and not it's no longer wishful thinking, it's a reality!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I <3 my iphone!

Waiting for a doctor's appointment is soooo much easier with Internet access!

Some other great things are the camera, siri, and the maps (in spite of the problems reported).

Speaking of doctor's appointment, I just wasted 1h & 40 bucks from our family health savings' account. But it's my fault, I should have cancelled the appointment after I got better (from my elbow pain).

Stupid me, I keep forgetting that medicine in this country exists to treat symptoms only, dispense drugs (dr. Mentioned cortisone, but NEVER physical therapy, for example), and not, NO way, to look at the whole person.

That's why I HATE going to the doctor in this country... Sigh.

Well, at least I love my phone, right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

It was worth it!

It was totally worth it staying up half the night to see Obama's speech last night...

He was fired up and K (who was sleeping but woke up as the speech progressed) thought that his speech was actually better than 2008's. In 2008 it was a pretty amazing historic moment, but this year might now have felt that "magical," but it was historic too.

I'm super tired now, not too much energy left to blog... I should actually do some grading instead of being here. Let's see if I can do at least a little bit before collapsing on top of the work I'm grading...

I Watched the Concession Speech, but I Should Sleep Now!


I really wanted to see President Obama's speech, but I need to sleep! :(


Well, we'll see. Do I close the laptop or not? (K & I are in bed now after I had been "napping" in front of the computer in the office).

A historic day, but nothing compared to 2008. That night was electrifying!

P.S. and it's all Romney's fault!! Why did he take sooooo long to concede? :(

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Can this still turn nightmarish like 2000?

So... what happens if Romney decides not to concede? Will he? (because of Ohio?).

I can't believe the VA is turning blue. Wow!!

I agree with this woman's tweet: 
I'm not going to bed until Romney concedes. I made that mistake in 2000 and woke up on another planet.

I hope we won't wake up in another planet again.

MM: "I'd say there's a binder full of women going to the U.S. Senate."

I love Michael Moore! :)

His tweets are always great.

Monday, November 05, 2012

I Voted at Seven Eleven Yesterday

This is the only vote I was/am able to cast in this election! :( 
7/11 is saying that they'll count every cup/vote, I'll check later.
So I voted with my hot chocolate and now I'm curious to know who will in the "7-election." It was pretty obvious (by the difference in the piles of cup) who won at the location where I bought it (not the one I voted for, of course).
The "funny" part is that I took this stance in front of all the other parents in my son's soccer team (all from the same religious private school). Only two of them really noticed it, and my friend Andy seemed slightly "shocked" about it, but he laughed a lot when I said this was my only opportunity to vote. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I Don't Have What it Takes or... quiet despair

yesterday i had a few acquaintances/friends who are perceptive and nice people who care about me ask if things were all right with me and I said they were, that I was just tired (true, but not exactly the problem). Outwardly things are OK, but when I'm just quiet, left to my own devices, even when in public, what's inside shows on my face. I'm one of those "open book" overly authentic people.

(I value that in me, though, and I strive to always be true to my feelings, which makes for a very rude person sometimes. Outward politeness and being an [often "fake"], cheerful, nice, agreeable person [like most people!] are just not my forte -- I'm extremely cheerful when I feel cheerful and also when I'm with people I care about [e.g. yesterday I spent time talking with friends & I wasn't grumpy, it was a good distraction from what I'd been thinking]. The thing is, if I feel something, it shows right away on my face and I have to force myself to be a friendly and slightly happy person because people in general always like to see smiles in other people's faces. Ha ha. Smirk.)

the hard cold truth is, I don't have what it takes* and I know it. I've been struggling with this for the past month and a half, ever since I saw the job ad for the position I need  to apply for because if I don't I'll know regret it for the rest of my life and it's just plain STUPID not to apply I just HAVE to do it, but time is running out and my husband is really really angry with me that I'm not working on it [I didn't even tell him that I was writing a blog post right now because I desperately need to process these things].

but in order to submit a good application (and I know that I can look good on paper and write strong cover letters from some of the feedback I've gotten in the past with some applications I sent) I need to be confident and FULLY convey that I DO HAVE WHAT IT TAKES. And that, to me, is really, really had. It's like having to smile and be cheerful when I don't have it in me.

There are moments I believe in myself and my brilliance and my great potential as a scholar, but those have been few and far between lately.

When I went to the conference two weeks ago I was just SOOOO pumped up! I had several ideas for academic papers, but I didn't even sit dow & slowed down (I'm ADHD, remember?) to write them down.

(oh, yeah, and that whole ADHD thing, I haven't yet found a mental health care professional to see and get a diagnosis and help. I keep procrastinating that, obviously, ha ha, how incredibly ironic and sad. No, just ironic, sarcastic, really. I mean, hahaha... :( )

In any case. I'm writing this (on top of that! Just what I need right now as I have to write a convincing account about myself! Negative and truthful evaluations, how lovely!) to see if I can just get this out of the way onto virtually printed words, so I can move on and write the damn letter and revise my cv already. So I can send them to my referees so they can write and mail their letters.

Have I told you -- another ridiculous twist of destiny and "Murphy's Law" -- that the laptop in which I had a recently translated article I was submitting for publication, all my recent CVs and cover letters DIED on us and I cannot access those files?

I have this ridiculous needs to access recent documents before I can move on and write fresh new ones and I feel "blocked" to continue if I can't do so. I know... just more excuses.

Valid excuse? I'm OVERWHELMED and in despair too because we need to get our house appraised in the next few days so the refinancing can go forward. BUT the house needs to be perfectly clean and sparkling. My poor husband K has been working alone like a crazy man to get this done. Mostly because he knows that I CANNOT organize and clean things without getting distracted, but also because he WANTS me to produce these application materials already.

He has every right to be upset at me, and I, lame person full of tons of negative baggage and angst, simply can't go on and do what I need to do. But I MUST. So I'm writing here. as a last resort to see if I can get my creative juices flowing, some of my inexistent confidence back.

I could just sit and cry, but tears won't come. Mine is a quiet, hopeless despair.

and now I will try to despair my way into a good, winning cover letter. Wish me luck. Write me a quick comment if you can. I need to be cheered on. yeah, I'm that lame. please help. I promise to be good. for my sake, my poor hard working husband and for yours too. Thanks for listening.

* to successfully apply for a T-T job. And, maybe to keep one [I think that if I were, as a freak event of destiny, offered this job, maybe I could do OK, but I'm not so sure].

I have a bomb in my backpack...

I know it's mostly my attitude, I know I need therapy for this and other issues, but as far as I'm concerned right not, a pile of mid-semester evaluations (which know I administered way too late in the semester to be able to implement very significant changes) is a bomb with great potential to destroy my self-esteem for a good while and to send me into the depths of despair for a while.

I hastily wrote and printed them out over 10 days ago, but then there were only 6 of the 11 students in class, and I put it off for another day. Then I got really cold feet about it and had given up on doing it, but then K encouraged me to do it. He's supposed to read them all and report back to me... to soften the blow.

These are evaluations for the class I'm extremely unhappy with. I already know that my teaching isn't good at all and that the textbook I selected is partly lame. I've never taught this level before and there aren't many, if any materials (i.e. textbooks and such) out there.

In fact, there is a DIRE need of textbooks for this particular course -- which one faculty member (the coordinator of the Spanish classes of the same level whom I met with in order to re-structure the course) suggested is a great opportunity for me, to write a textbook! (maybe it is, but why would I do that as I continue to be a poorly paid adjunct?).

In any case, I changed the course a couple of times after I finally met with the aforementioned professor (younger than me! Pretty bright and nice guy), but I basically haven't spent much, if any, time preparing materials to teach, given that there is A LOT of grading (each student is going to write 26 short compositions total and 3 longer, fully graded compositions).

I think about this course a lot, but I don't really act much. I struggled a lot at the beginning with how heterogeneous the class was (some students basically fluent, others not so much) and with how many basic mistakes they were making in their writing (some still are). And just thinking of how my own beginner/intermediate students will be so much better prepared next year just to have someone else "reap the fruit" of my hard labor makes me angry.

So there's a lot of angst involved with teaching this particular class -- on top of my sheer lack of experience and the GLARING lacks of the textbook that I'm doing next to nothing to compensate for because I don't want to kill myself working. I know I'm lazy, but I also know that I do a lot already, commute long hours, etc. I am a hard-headed person at times, set in not working more than I should, just doing the basics because I know I'm just "working in the margins" (yes, I do use that as an excuse).

OK, so this is only a "small" thing in the grand scheme of things, just the tip of the iceberg... my "quiet despair" runs very deep right now, and I'm going to write another post to discuss the bulk of it.

I'm sorry for the Blah posts, but I need to process these things before I can move on and try to act and DO what I need to do. :(

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I Blew NaBloPoMo on the Second Day!

And I don't even feel bad about it, which is an excellent thing, really. I will keep on going, but I won't fiddle with the time of the post to "pretend" I posted yesterday... and I'm sure I'll write way more than 30 times in November in spite of this big "fail." ;)

This only goes to show that I'm much more relaxed about the blog and blogging, which is great. It's still a really important part of my life, but less than it it's been in the past. It means I have a few more friends in real life and more things going on in my family life. (Last night, for example, we had a Senior Recognition event for K's cousin who is a senior at our local boarding academy and we went to the reception afterwards with him & we all got into bed immediately when we came back home).

Another thing that's becoming more important than blogging for me right now is sleep!! And that's only to be expected with all the driving that I do daily and the amount of work I put in. So, I'm happy to be healthier that way! (I'll blog at some other time how much healthier and more organized my life is with this new job). Woo-hoo! Let's hope it'll continue this way next year.

So... maybe I'll come back for another post later today, maybe not! Either way, I'm chill with whatever happens. :)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaBloPoMo 2012

I  couldn't be less motivated to post everyday if I tried.

As usual, I have TONS to say, but I'm getting sleepy earlier every day and I have tons and tons of things to do.

I haven't yet prepared application materials and the deadline is looming and I feel awful and helpless and hopeless.

In any case, I'll do it again, for the sixth year in a row... just because it's become a tradition.... this silly

National Blog Posting Month -- a ripoff of the national novel writing month.

So, yeah, here we go!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On October 31st, 2007

K lost the "dream job"at big pharma that he had started only a month earlier, the day after he'd mailed the first mortgage payment on our new old (and fairly expensive) house. I called it "The American Dream, Interrupted" in my blog post.

He got re-hired back temporarily and then later left big pharma to go back to academia. However, this was an event whose greatest consequences were felt only a year and a half later. It was only in March 2009 that despair overcame us when we could no longer afford the mortgage payment.

We managed to renegotiate with the lender and thankfully sold the house really well in 2010 (after investing nearly 30K dollars on it, though, on top of the 30K in down payment. We came out with 10K, precisely what we started it back in 2000 when we bought our first house... sigh...).

Living and learning. This was the hardest experience of our lives so far and we learned a lot from it. It made us stronger, wiser and much less innocent. :(

Five years have passed and I barely remember this ever happened. That's good and how it's supposed to be. I think I'm ready to face other challenges that the future may bring.

post inspired by A's comment on fb.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"We're a Culture, Not a Costume" Campaign

Last year I linked to this campaign from students at Ohio State, so I want to do the same this year (scroll down for last year's posters).

I don't like or celebrate Halloween, but I agree wholeheartedly with their campaign. I am also aware, however, that it's very hard to tell where to "draw the line" because if one thinks about costumes critically there are many other ones that could be accused of racism, "classism," perhaps ageism, etc.

It would be easier if this holiday's celebrations were mostly restricted to children dressing up as more "innocent" things (such as cartoon characters, animals, monsters) and didn't also involve young adults, who are the ones who end up promoting the culturally offensive "costumes."

Just a thought...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Sandy...

Until now we've just felt it's been useless to be stuck at home since we've only had very light rain, but it looks like things are going to start picking up.

I thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in and lazily lounging in bed. We haven't made many preparations. We filled a huge water jug with filtered water and I'm considering filling the tub with water in case we need it to flush & clean.

I'm hoping we won't lose power, though. We have a gas stove, so I guess we can still cook without electricity...

I feel weird not teaching with such a mild weather outside and of course days off completely mess up the schedule. :( And it looks like they might give us the day off tomorrow too depending on how bad it is overnight.

At least it's not snow like last year, so I don't think we'll lose the rest of our tree. (Later I found that Bradford pears are really bad trees to have... well, ours came with the house...).

And so we wait...

Friday, October 26, 2012

iPhone Blogging

This is the first post from my phone & I'm already annoyed that I couldn't get the keyboard to switch to landscape, not the most promising beginning, quite the contrary... Sigh... I will try dictating the next post, which should be interesting!

I'm including a photo of this pretty flower :) I hope you like it!

Tomorrow I'll have to pull-over to nap at the Rest Area


About every other week I need to pull over at one of the three rest-areas* on my 76 mile commute to take a power nap so I can reach home safely.

But I'm OK with that.

I'm just hoping that I won't feel like taking a nap on my way to work tomorrow morning!! (last Tuesday I was really sleepy on the way).

In fact, I'm glad that I've been able to pull this long commute off caffeine-free (I really don't want to deal with being dependent on it). I do carry a bottle of ice cold water  to drink and that helps a lot! (I keep it in a cooler with an ice-pack in the car during the day)

Right now the most annoying thing in my life is that I lost or misplaced my iphone's charging/syncing cord as well as the new apple ear buds that came with it (29 bucks!!). I HATE earbuds, but these are AMAZING, they actually fit my ears perfectly. So I'm miserable without them and maintaining two phones with one cable is nearly impossible (I almost ran our of juice today as I stayed overnight at new-job-town and couldn't charge my phone. I did shut it down overnight and during teaching times and that helped).

OK, now I have to go finish some grading and class prep for tomorrow before I can hit the sack. sigh...

* I don't actually drive in front of the rest area just a few miles from my house, but I see it very closely from the parallel road I take to reach my house faster.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Thanks for your support regarding the last night's post.

I have good news for you! The hard drive may be "done," but after I wrote my post last night I remembered that I won't actually lose anything because that laptop has two hard drives, C, where the operational system is installed and D where all my files are. D is not affected by failure of drive C.


Now, I have no idea when I'll be able to access the files that I need right now. :(

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Possibility of Hard Drive Failure -- First Time EVER

And if I weren't emotional enough right now, we are facing something that never, ever happened before to us since we bought our first computer (a Gateway desktop), back in 1998.

My old Dell laptop's operating system is failing and it is warning us to "Immediately back up your data and replace your hard drive because a failure is imminent."

As you know, I have a new laptop, but I have not had time to back up all the stuff in my old one (only my teaching files). There is not a whole lot of stuff there that I don't have backed up, but there is enough to make me really sad and pretty stressed out.

There are lots of photos from the trip to Brazil that were not downloaded anywhere else but on that computer. On the last day in Brazil I put some in my mom's computer, but not all. And I think I don't have all the photos from last year and this year backed up in the external hard drive.

I know, DUMB me!!

For practical purposes, though, (since photos only have emotional value) there are other things that I need right not and that are only in that computer and nowhere else -- the recent versions of my CV, some recent academic work and, a pretty annoying loss if it materializes, my translation into Portuguese of one of my published essays that I was going to submit tonight for publication in Brazil in an email that is mostly written and that just needed the attachments.

That's now I found out that there was something horribly wrong with the laptop. I had used it yesterday to show my friends some photos (from the external hard drive) and also all night from Thursday to Friday when I was preparing a conference presentation (it was an amazing conference last Friday, BTW).

Last night my youngest son was playing on it and he starting getting upset that it was crashing. This morning the same thing, and there was much screaming and complaining about the computer, but I was busy cleaning the kitchen, getting laundry out of the washer and hanging it outside, so I didn't go check what was wrong.

Then, when I needed to send the email to the journal editor in Brazil I finally picked up my red laptop and, lo and behold, there was this warning screen on it. What is it that people call it? The black screen of death or something?

I just needed to blog this. I know I've already written too many posts today, but I need to get this out there.

Have you lost a hard drive? What did you lose? How was it?

And I'm still in disbelief that this is finally happening to us. :(  We've had nearly crashing computers several times before, but before they crashed K backed them up and reinstalled the operating system, so we never had a problem. I know, very very lucky, 14 years without problems. There was bound to be a first time, no?

Sorry for the annoying post(s)!

The Precariousness of the Margins

I'm glad I wrote that post earlier today, because now that I'm back to being full of angst about work & applying, etc. (more on that in a minute), I don't think I could have written it now/from now on.

The hard cold truth is that I'm still very much at the margins and my current job feels like a dream that is too good to be true and that I will wake up from at some point.

Last Thursday I finally signed up for benefits and for life insurance (just a few days before the deadline as always [sigh]).

Life insurance.

I felt like crying the whole drive back home after that.

For the first time in my life I have benefits and... should I die, my husband and kids will get a little bit of money from my employer.

It's a little thing, but it makes me feel like I have some value, I'm worth something (money-wise).

You know, it's only now that I have a relatively decent paying job that I realize how demoralizing it is and it feels to be "working in the margins." I think that's one of the major reasons why I feel so incredibly happy now. And that's why I felt full of angst at my previous adjunct position.

The truth, however, is that as good as it sounds compared to what I had, my position is still precarious. As part of my thought process of deciding or not to apply (I think I will), I contacted the dept. chair to try to figure out if they are planing to hire me again next year and she said that this will be decided sometime next Spring by the dean.

It's tough having your life and your future, the livelihood of your children and part of the mortgage payment money, decided on a year by year basis.

That's one of the things I was so afraid of when I decided to accept the position. My previous (and half-current) job provided 100% stability. I knew I would be reliably exploited for the next several years should I choose to simply continue.

Yeah, I know what you're going to say next. Trade-offs... yeah, that was a trade-off that I knew about but chose to gently ignore for a while. Not anymore, now that the honeymoon's over. ;)

I have lots more to say about that (and about applying/not applying), but I will stop for now. I don't want to think about these things too much because I don't want to start crying. I'll go grade some and make sure I know what I'll be doing in my classes tomorrow.

The Honeymoon's Over, but I'm Still in Love

I was walking on air those first days and weeks, I really was.

I returned to earth slowly, but surely.... but all I can say is that I'm still very much in love with my new job.

I couldn't be happier and I don't mind the drive at all! So, I hope to keep on working there for the foreseeable future. I have decided to apply for the job, but I'm hoping to continue working there even if I don't get in. I'm trying to prepare psychologically for that.

I'm also thinking that if I do get the job, by any chance, I will no longer be using my first name in the blog. I know that my first name name will still be associated with this blog in comments left all over the blogosphere, but I'm hoping that if I delete all photos in which I appear and no longer use my first name in the blog itself I'll feel a bit "safer" for having a "true" academic position and being a long time semi-academic blogger who's written a lot about her academic experiences. What do you think?

There's another "honeymoon" that is over. This one lasted for nearly two years and it's our relationship with our church. I think we can also say that we still love it, but now things are changing a bit, e.g. they no longer have a second, more contemporary service, and we need to get to church at 9:30 am, an hour earlier than in the past two years.

K has also been nominated as a leader and now he is learning all  about the "behind the scenes" stuff and church politics and those aren't always agreeable things (though nothing can compare to the negative experiences we had for several years in Philadelphia). We're here to stay, though, so I think it was about time we got more involved in leadership. It was good to take an almost two year break from that, after doing way too much in church for the past 14 years, that's for sure!

These two things, our work and our church family, are really important to us, so feels good to truly enjoy both (K is doing extremely well in his work, I need to blog about that separately at some point). I hope it continues this way!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Is Marlo My Cousin?" Or About Being the Child of a Blogger

A few years ago my youngest son approached me as I was reading Heather Armstrong's blog (Dooce) and a photo of Marlo was on the screen.

"Mama, is she my cousin?" He asked.

I know, it may sound like a strange, out of the blue question, but it does make perfect sense to me. I check the blogs I read daily and I consider many, if not most of the people whose blogs I read  as my friends, whether or not we've met these in person. (of course I'm not referring to "celebrity bloggers" like Heather here, with her it's a one way "relationship" unlike the one I have with my other blogging friends).

When we lived in Philly, the boys got used to meeting my blogger friends and their children (more notably Kateri's, Andi/Cloudscome's & Jeanette's) in person and then seeing photos of them online when I was reading their blogs. I'm sure this is what prompted my son to ask that question about little Marlo who was a beautiful baby at the time and, by the way, my sons didn't have a girl cousin then yet, so maybe he was "wishing" she was his cousin.

I actually thought that his question was awesome! He understands that these people are real and we have a "relationship" with them even though it's only through a computer screen and I like that.

As I've mentioned before, I've grown very attached to Rebecca Wolf's blog (Girl's Gone Child) and her gorgeous family in the past year and a couple of days ago my youngest son was looking at this post with me and he was really interested in the children. I told him their names and we browsed through the photos. I told him that I thought he and Archer would probably get along and I wished, as I often do when reading blogs, that we could meet their family in person.

Are your children aware of your blog writing and reading? Do you talk about blogging and blogs with them? Do they have opinions (like my youngest son)* on whether you can or cannot blog about them?

(I wish Katie would answer these, I don't comment often enough in her blog to say we have a "relationship,"  but I know she would probably be open to meeting, were I to go to TN. I love Katie! :)

* I know L wouldn't want me to share the story at the beginning of the post, but I think I'm addressing this subject very delicately and I'm not exposing him. In fact, I know that he doesn't even remember that episode, it must have been back in 2009, (I don't remember when Marlo was born). In any case, I am consciously avoiding blogging about him though I'd love to. Oh, and I've been writing this post in my head for years now, literally, so here it goes!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oi Mãe! (Hi Mom! :)

My mom checked out my blog today and she thought I'd lost my job after reading the previous post :) (she asked me on the phone this evening about it).

Before today I hadn't even noticed that the words "hired" and "fired" looked/were so similar and now "fired" makes more sense to me [it always sounded so weird/wrong to have fire as a noun and as a verb mean such different things]. Hey, do you know where I learned the word fired? In Back to the Future 2! ;) K (and his brothers) & I looove the trilogy.

No, mami, I didn't lose my job because of my bad spelling (ortografia) and thanks for checking the blog! I'll have a surprise for you in 9 days. :)

Speechless! (at my glaring error)

I cannot believe it.

They hired me in spite of the fact that I had a GLARING typo in the first paragraph of my cover letter. "Interest"  instead of  " interested"  (as in "I am interested").


And yet they hired me.

Guys, I'm considering applying. I think I'm crazy. Actually it would be crazy NOT to apply. I promise to write more about this soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How did "Going Smart" Change your Life?

I've had a smart phone for two weeks and I'm enjoying it, but I'm holding back and not doing too much on the phone yet and I'm very curious to know:

Do you have a smart phone? How did it change your life, or not?

Secondary questions:
What do you most do on your phone? Any app recommendations??

Thanks a lot for sharing/helping me out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What a relief!

Very uncomfortable to watch at times, but... PHEW!! This was a very satisfying debate in the end.

I LOVE what Michael Moore tweeted just now: "Wow. Everyone up early tomorrow and let's get to work. Every day counts."

I haven't been reading MM's tweets (or anyone's) for the past 3 months, so it's a relief to see him energized to get Obama re-elected. Relieved again...

And there were many  hilarious things like the women in binders & marriage, two parents (a man and a woman!) being the best prevention against assault weapon killings!

Sigh... just relieved. I can grade in peace now. :)

Madonna Quiz ;)

Prompted by Dooce's post from today, I had to find out which Madonna era I was and I wasn't one bit disappointed! I'm "Mid-80s Madonna," so precise!

Because "Crazy for You" was the soundtrack of my 14th year of life and I loved "True Blue" and "Live to Tell." Oh and I thought I didn't know "Borderline" (posted by Heather), but it just turns out I didn't know the title of the song, since I don't think it was top 40 in Brazil like it was here. I really don't know much of anything about the 90s on Madonna, I'm stuck back in the 80s!

I hadn't pasted one of these cheesy quizzes in my blog for ages, but here you go!

Your results:
You are Mid-80's Madonna
Mid-80's Madonna
Political Madonna
80's Madonna
Rocker Madonna
Disco Madonna
Blonde Ambition Madonna
Movie-Star Madonna
Veronica Electronica
Cause-Celeb Madonna
Cowgirl Madonna
You are willing to Open your Heart and Live to Tell what's on your mind. Although you are maturing your Papa still Preaches to you. You are responsible, you have made up your mind and you are Keepin your baby. You love to vacation. . . in La Isla Bonita!
Click here to take the "Which Madonna Era are you?" quiz...

Up in the middle of the night to write emails...

... I decided to fall asleep with the boys last night & then moved to my bed & continued sleeping (with the bedside table lamp on -- poor K who had to endure the light).

So I got up now to send a few needed emails that I should have sent last night and just to make sure I know what I'm teaching tomorrow... sigh...

I've been extra tired lately.

So, yeah, I still need to send the other email to my students before I head back to bed, so I better stop blogging now. ;)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The New Normal (disrupted)

Our lives have fallen into a routine and the "new normal" (which involves me driving 152 miles to & from work four days a week and still picking up the boys at school three days a week) feels normal indeed.

That's why last week felt so chaotic when some things were different or had to be done differently.

1) I had Fall Break from my commuting job on Mon-Tue and... thankfully it coincided with a break for my sons, whose teachers had a convention to attend on those days. Things would have gone fairly smoothly, were it not for...

2) The car I use (and which I've been wanting to blog about forever, not yet today) needed to have an oil change and we opted to have that done on Tuesday. However, oil change morphed into a brake pad change which got delayed and made us a one-car family until Friday morning! So...

3) I dropped K off at his university on Wednesday & Thursday, which made it necessary for us to drop off the boys at 7:30 am on Th. at our friends'  house so they could drop them off at school. And having to get off the highway to drop K made me slightly late both days...  (oh, the good thing was that we got to talk a little bit more than we generally do. I think we should "car pool" at least twice a week).

By Friday, things were "normal" again, but by then we were just exhausted with the "different" week, so we planned to "lay low" on the weekend and rest. If only we hadn't wanted + desperately needed to talk and catch up... (which led us to very late nights talking & talking both Fri & Sat).

Other things that were "different" last week:

On Monday I woke up determined to make the days off useful & I called our family's optometrists to see if they had openings for the boys. Lo & behold, they did! So both boys had eye exams on Monday afternoon & Linton took all of two minutes to pick his new eyeglasses (I will HAVE to show them to you, soooo stylish!). I showed the results of Linton's vision therapy evaluation to the optometrist and he took extra long to examine his eyes, confirming that there's suppression going on. He thought that Linton has very good depth perception given his limitations in vision. He thinks that therapy (which will cost over 5K) will help the eyes to work together & help with suppression, but won't improve his visual acuity in his left eye. :(

I went to a yoga class on Monday, but because of dropping off the boys, I got there late & then I had some back-ache afterwards. :(

My sick arm (correctly self-diagnosed "tennis elbow") started hurting more & now I'm back wearing a brace (this one) 100% of the time, so pain is better.

What else? Oh, I decided to take "pão de queijo" (Brazilian cheese rolls) to my class on Tuesday morning -- it was the only day I was actually present in my "tele-teaching" class. So I was late and it was pretty stressful. Being there didn't make the class much better. :(  Let's see how next semester will go.

I've got TONS of other things to blog about, but I will try to do it more later. At least I'm more or less caught up now. And last, but not least... I'm not looking forward to the upcoming week at all. :( But I should! I will have a conference at the end of it. If only I didn't have to WRITE my paper! :(  I see long nights in my future this week. And I should be grading compositions now!! :(

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I took a nap today!!

A glorious, peaceful, restful nap!!

I can hardly believe it. I can't remember how long it's been since I've last taken a nap. Even when I was in Brazil I didn't take any naps.

Of course I'm still awake because of the nap, but I needed it and I'm glad I could take a "night off" tonight after my restful late afternoon nap -- ALL my classes have exams tomorrow, so I don't have to prepare or grade (I returned all previous tests and quizzes today).

OK, I have to go take a shower and go to bed now. :)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Just because I have only forty exams to grade... :)

Of course I've been putting that off for a whole week, I'm ashamed to admit. :(

And  now that I NEED to be done by tomorrow, and it's getting close to midnight, I am just finding another way to postpone the work a little more.

This was a crazy-busy week, but I feel more energized than in all past weeks. Maybe it's the yoga (more on another post) and the beautiful, warm weather we had today.

So much going on and I don't even know where to start. About the debate/election, I hope that Laura is right and really relieved that we were eating out with friends and missed the whole thing. The closing remarks back at home were enough to make my skin crawl, as one of my contacts wrote on twitter.
~  ~   ~
I was writing on Thursday evening and it's already Friday morning. I ended up sleeping in the sofa around midnight and then I woke up (the lights were on in the dining room where I was grading) 2:50, got up ate a piece of bread with hummus and graded 22 exams, but I couldn't keep going and went to bed at 3:40. Sigh...

I had a slight headache when I got up, but now it's gone. I need to try to grade the rest of the tests before I leave. Sigh again...

Oh, and our nephews are coming to spend the weekend (we'll have them for a couple of days while brother & sister-in-law are busy with retreats and such). K's cousin (the high school senior who came from Brazil to study in the boarding academy nearby) is coming to help babysit, so we'll have a full house.

OK, gotta go!! Hopefully I'll be back later with photos...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

locked in

it looks like we've just been locked in a 2.875% 15 year fixed-rate to refinance our place.

Is this awesome or what? we're going to be saving quite a bit of money, thankfully. YAY!!

edited to add, wow. and quite a bit of money it is, according to a mortgage calculator, we'll save124K in interest!!

My New Toy or... Why iKelvin is on iCloud 9

I bought the "toy"on 8/21 (the day we got back from Brazil), I started writing the post on 9/01 and only today I'm getting to finish it. Sigh... busy much? :)
Here are the photos: 

As you may (or may not) know, my son is an "Apple fanatic." In fact, he's been one for three years or more, since he was six or even. We did not have any apple computers in the house, though (only some older ipods, ipod touches and the boy's cracked ipad). So this was a momentous purchase for my eldest son. Of course he doesn't get to use it much because I take it to work, but he's still happy.

I joke that I'm not yet truly "converted," but I think it's going to be a process, not a one time "transformational event." ;)  There are plenty of things I still haven't gotten used to and maybe I never will. Meanwhile, I'll be happy to be "bi-lingual" in my computer usage too.

What pushed me into finally deciding to get a MacBookPro (not the newer retina display, still too expensive) is that we'd decided to get iphones (mine arrived in the mail yesterday, we're still waiting for K's). We'll see how things will go.

Have you switched from a PC to a Mac? How was the transition? Please let me know!