Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking Forward to 2016 - 19/19

This is the last post -- Happy New Year!

Now everyone is packing and making sure they have all their cables and charges and games. So sad! :-(

In 2016 we will be all together for at least a week, when we celebrate K's grandmother's 90th birthday in July. It will probably be the last and a very rare time when the whole family of K's maternal grandma will be together.

I'm glad that this birthday is the reason why we're going to Brazil next year, after 2.5 years away. I wish I could go every year, but we can't afford that (and we also travel to other places, that's part of the reason why we can't afford it).

I have no idea where we'll be spending the holidays in 2016. If we can afford it, maybe we'll go to Egypt to visit K2 and family. If that doesn't work out, we may be getting together with the "Canadians."

We'll see!

I wish I were more excited about my "new" old job with the three year contract, but I'm not, really. And I'm sad that the grant rejection took some luster away from K's receipt of tenure. In any case, 2016 is a new year and it has the potential of being better than 2015. For most years of our lives together, K and I always feel that the most recent year is always the best one (with the exception of 2009).

"Visiting" 1993 while waiting for 2016 to arrive - 18/19

We are showing K's uncle and wife a video of our visit to them in Massachusetts back in 1993 during their first year in the U.S. and they are mystified because they don't have any video of this time in their lives.

It was our first epic family trip, the one that literally defined our lives today -- my parents-in-law brought their four sons to tour the U.S. and I, the serious girlfriend of their eldest son, came along because I was already fluent in English and wanted to visit the U.S. too (we got engaged six months late, my mom was a bit upset that we traveled before our engagement).

Three years after that trip, K & I moved to the U.S. His two youngest brothers followed to study a few years later, one stayed and married an American girl, the second brother joined the brothers in TX in 2001 and only the youngest went back to Brazil (and now lives in Canada). It's because of that trip that we are here today.

These moments are rare, when we are together with family members and can watch old home videos together. I'm glad it happened!

2015 in One Word - 17/19


That's the word I used to describe this year when someone asked on facebook.

2015 was in intense year, particularly as far as teaching is concerned. The boys were also very busy, we hardly had any time for anything that wasn't work or school. I'm glad it's over and I hope next year won't be as intense and stressful.

No more NSF grant writing, no more tenure package preparation, no more job applications. I'm sure there will be other deadlines, but hopefully not that tough.

The Yummy Brazilian Dessert I Shouldn't be Eating - 16/19

Five Posts to Go! - 15/19

Counting this one, only four, actually. ;-)

If everyone continues talking, I don't know how I'll be able to concentrate and write the posts. I ate a bit of dessert (strawberries covered with chocolate and with cream at the bottom) and I think that this is going to make me feel worse... Sigh... So I will try not to finish my bowl...

Everyone the women got up and they're cleaning the kitchen right now... We may play some games, but maybe not because those who want to leave early to go back North tomorrow want to go to bed early. A little bit anti-climatic this New Year's Eve, that's for sure! Maybe we should be going back as well, but I don't want to leave my in-laws by themselves in this big house for three more days, so we're planning to leave on Sunday morning.

Past Midnight in Brazil - 14/19

Written an hour and a half ago, but posted later. (original title "Almost Midnight...")

Christmas, with its "Northern" traditions,  feels strange in the Brazilian Summer, but New Year's eve always feels wrong to me here in the U.S. and I only enjoy it fully when I am in Brazil. Being in Florida helps, but it's still not the same. :-(

Of course New Year's is more fun in Brazil when you are at the beach, but no matter where you are there are always lots of fire-crackers at midnight (because most people cannot afford fireworks, but they still enjoy the noise). It's a tradition, really loud fire-crackers everywhere for soccer games and for New Year's Eve, or "Reveillon" as they sometimes call it there, using the French term.

We haven't eaten yet and the kids are hungry, but I don't know about the adults because we ate A LOT at the restaurant.  --> that was at 8:50 pm.

Now we already ate and kids are watching videos on their ipads as the adults talk... (and I blog).

A Bit Sick on New Year's Eve - 13/19

I've been sick for the past three-four days. Today I'm feeling slightly worse and I'm actually afraid to go to the hot tub and pool which were fixed and are nice and warm now. My throat is not hurting anymore, but I am coughing a bit and my chest feels tight. My nose is running slightly and while my head isn't aching right now, it hurt a bit earlier. I'm also sleepy, even though I had a good night of sleep.

I feel bad, but I didn't help cook the meal for tonight, I'm just sitting here with my laptop while they are putting the finishing touches on the dishes. Of course I have the excuse that I "need" to be blogging right now. ;-)

I'm also sad that early tomorrow morning two families are leaving to go to Maryland on their way to their final destinations (Montreal and Cairo) and K's uncle is leaving for Miami to go on a cruise.

Right now there's a small crisis going on, my SIL's iPhone is missing. We're calling it, and trying to find it, with little success, they can't leave tomorrow without it! I hope we'll find it before midnight. ;-)

It was found! Less than a minute after I published the post. In the middle of a bunch of folded clothes.

Matchy Clothes Selfies -12/19

Another photo post, I'll try to do some nicer ones with Europe photos, let's see if I'l have time (I need to get my husband's computer to do that). I took some of these selfies to share with friends I thought would like my matchy outfits or to save it for later reference. The next two, for example, I twitted to Jenna:
This one was to show how I bought the polish to match the outfit, but then returned the overalls because they were too tight:
Nail polish & clothes matching: 

Looking Back to 2015 - 11/19

I just read the Looking Forward to 2016 post and everything went as planned, down to the last paragraph (that I enjoyed the trips and all, but that I'm really looking forward to going back to Brazil next year).

Everything went OK with K's tenure process and with my three year position (in spite of the delay), too bad the grant didn't come through for K. :-(

6th and 8th grades were busy and the family is here in Florida, having taken the family photo. Now I have to think about next year, but I don't feel like doing that at all!

The one unforeseen negative event was the return of my BIL's cancer and subsequent trip to the U.S. and surgery. The good side was that we got to see them, my in-laws and the cousins spent a good amount of time together, but the bad side is that now we will all be worried about it coming back again. :-( Let's hope it won't happen. My BIL is leading an extremely healthy lifestyle, particularly in diet and exercise, so we're confident that his prognostic is good.

Frivolous "Firsts" of 2015 - 10/19

This year was the first time that I did two things:
1) used dark/colorful nail polish in my fingernails (the most I'd done in the best was French manicures);
2) dyed my whole hair dark blonde (NEVER doing this again!).

I loved the nail polish and I want to keep doing it, although I didn't do it at all this semester because I didn't have time :-(

Very first time, March 2, one of my "favoritest" colors, brown:
Same color and (cheap) polish, a few days later:
 Next color, aqua green, the same one I'd first used on my toenails in 2014:
 A darker aqua, this time from a better brand:
Second Essie polish I bought, Cartel Style:
"Butler, Please" from Essie, matches my colorful dress:
Bonus Photo, Ombré toenails, since I own too many aqua hues of polish:
It was a colorful year!

Most Spectacular "Firsts" of 2015 - 9/19

The most special "first" of this year was taking my sons to Europe for the first time! We landed and spent about 7 hours in Frankfurt, but only my youngest came to the center of the city with me (Kelvin was too tired from watching movies in the flight from the U.S. and wanted to sleep, so K stayed with him). This was our first glimpse of the Old Continent.

Then, after our (amazing) trip to Egypt, Jordan & Israel, we flew to Zurich and then visited Switzerland, Chamonix/Mont Blanc in France, Geneva (where I was born), and Germany (Frankfurt, Rhine region, Hamburg and Berlin). We spent the last few days at our "aunt's" (MIL's cousin) house in Basel, doing some day trips. It was awesome! I hope I can take the boys again, but, frankly, I told them that I'd prefer that they go on their own when they're grown up because right now they don't like to go to museums, ao I don't feel like going with them anymore.

Another "first" is not as much a first as a unique event in life, my sons' baptism in the Jordan River by their grandparents (and my nephew by his dad, K's brother K2). It was so moving and special! In fact, had never had much interest in visiting Israel (and I do have very mixed feelings because of the situation Palestinians), so I was incredibly surprised at how moved I was when we arrived in Jerusalem.

After the baptism:

A Good Lottery - 8/19

My husband didn't get his grant, but a few weeks ago he received an exciting email from the university, saying that he had been selected as a winner in the faculty senate's technology lottery! It was not very hard for him how to decide to use his 500 dollars -- he put some more money (400+ that will be paid via paycheck deduction with no interest) and got an iPad Pro. And he used some grant money to buy the keyboard and the pen (100!!).

He doesn't use Apple computers, but a few years ago he used the university grant money to buy an iPad which is how he reads and annotates academic papers. He now upgraded to the Pro. He already wanted it, but then his colleague showed him his and he was sold. He didn't show it to the family and we put it with the other presents, then he opened it saying that it was a gift from the university to him. ;-)

Our son Kelvin already has an iPad mini, but he is smitten and won't stop using it. It has an amazing display and four speakers all around, so the sound is great too. I am supposed to "inherit" his 128 Giga iPad because we gave an iPad mini to our youngest son for Christmas (using some of his leftover birthday money).

Waiting for the 7 - 7/19

OK, this is a throwaway post... I was wasting a lot of time trying to find some photos for one of the "First" blog posts about 2015 and I got derailed.

So, since this is the 7th post I'll share that I am waiting for the iPhone 7 since 7 is my favorite number (I was born on 7/7!!).

We're waiting for the baby to wake up to go to a restaurant to eat together  -- Sweet Tomatoes, another family favorite, a bit healthier than Olive Garden where we ate last Sunday after the family photo session.

I forgot to mention that I'm a little sick, I caught a virus that settled on my throat (probably my larynx) and I had sore throat for a few days. Now I have nasty stuff coming up when I cough. No real fever, but I feel a little chilly with a bit of a headache.

Last random comment, the pool pump and heating weren't working in the last day and a half and they were fixed this morning, so more hot water to enjoy until we leave on Sunday! YAY!

Some of the Roller-Coasters (Photos) - 6/19

An International Family, 2015 changes - 5/19

Back in 2006 I wrote about our Family's Further "Internationalization" when my brother moved to China and K's uncle moved to South Africa. At that time my mother- and father-in-law were living in Massachusetts and K2 and K3 lived in the U.S. (only K4 and his wife were in Brazil).

In 2007, K3 and his wife moved to Turkey to teach at the International School, in 2009 my in-laws went back to Brazil and soon after K3 went to Brazil as well, while K4 and his wife immigrated to Canada! At some point (don't remember the year), my brother moved from China to New Zealand and K's uncle moved from South Africa to Mozambique. My brother returned to Brazil in 2012 and the uncle came back to the U.S. (to TX).

In 2014, after living 10 years close to us K2 moved to Egypt with his family and this year, K3 and family moved to Qatar to teach at the international school there and K's uncle moved to Tunisia!

It sounds funny, but right now, out of my in-laws' 4 sons, we are the closest to them, even though we are 9,000 miles away! K4 & family are in Montreal, K2 in Cairo & K3 in Qatar!

More about these days in Florida - 4/19

Last year on Dec. 31st I had to write 11 blog posts, to reach 214. Today, I am supposed to be writing 17 (not counting the one I wrote late last night), which I think will be a new kind of (meaningless) record for this blog (ha ha...).

So, more about these days in FL:

- W had another family photo session last Sunday (the last one was back in 2011), but the photos were not that great, which we already expected. Next time we should certainly hire a photographer and not just go to one of those photo stores.

- We had two "Secret Santas" -- one for the kids, another for the adults and that was fun. My husband got me and gave me the Blu-ray set of the two Star Wars trilogies which is what I've wanted for the longest time. (Oh, and we had no tree because the living room in this house was tiny and there was no room, kind of sad! -- K & I bought some lights at IKEA and colored balls at the dollar store and put them on a fake plant)

- The house has a pool and this year the heating really worked, so all of us had a great time using it day and night!

- It has been so much fun to have "the baby" (18 months) around because he's such a charmer, an extrovert and a cutie. He's supposed to be the very last grandchild and we are all "babying" him as much as possible.

- It's not easy to cook and clean for 18 people, but I think we did OK. The house has 7 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, so we were pretty comfortable.

Disheartening (Grants are Lotteries) - 3/19

K read the reviews this morning and he's very disheartened.

Last time, two years ago, he was a finalist with a much weaker proposal. He had five reviewers, got 3 excellent reviews, one very good, and one good/fair.

This time there were only four reviewers and three reviews were very good and one good. This feels like such a random process, not really fair, not really consistent.

I feel so terrible for him, but there's nothing I can do. The only positive side for him is that he feels that it would be tough to manage a postdoc, so maybe it's for the best.


It is still sad and disheartening, though.

P.S. And K won't say anything to his parents because they don't really know what a grant is and what it means to him. (It's funny that he barely mentioned to them that he got tenure).

No NSF Grant for K :-( 2/19

This was K's last chance for what they call a "career grant." Two years ago he was a finalist and they didn't tell him he'd gotten the grant very late in the Spring, so he missed applying in the Summer of 2014. This past summer he worked like crazy to submit the proposal

(because if you don't know already, writing a grant proposal takes hundreds of hours of hard work, not considering all the other hours of the work that is actually described there -- e.g. publications, research, etc.)

K is understandably very disappointed. What an anti-climatic way to end the year, no?

And this news means NO SUMMER SALARIES are guaranteed for the next 5 years (part of the grant money is assigned for 7K of summer salary for him) and K has to scramble once more to apply to small internal grants at the university to make at least 3K in the summer.

I'm NOT PAID all summer long, so it's pretty tough for us every summer (because it's hard to plan and save during the other 9 months when I do have a salary).

You know, that's why I feel so ABSURDLY ANGRY when politicians get it WRONG and say that the cost of tuition at universities is due to the faculty salaries.

GAH!!!! Academics make very little money, seriously.

All right, it's very late and we have to sleep. And K's family won't even really know what this means to him.

Sigh... it's not fun to start a new year like that, right? :-(

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things (Roller Coasters! Hot Water!) - 1/19

In the first day here last week I enjoyed two of my favorite things (which, incidentally, one can't enjoy while pregnant and which I missed a lot during my first pregnancy -- particularly because we had purchased a Six Flags pass the summer I got pregnant): roller-coasters and soaking in a hot spa!

Our house has a pool and spa and we paid extra to have the water heated and that was perfect (except that the pump probably broke yesterday so today the water was cool)! And we went to a park that has a few good roller-coasters on our very first day here (Tuesday 12/22) and another with even more this past Monday. I will add a few photos below (from my phone) in a later post.

9 days with 18 people (K's family)

Last Monday night we arrived at the seven-bedroom house that my in-laws rented in the Orlando, FL area to spend over a week with K's whole family -- his parents, his three brothers, and our nephews and niece.

We are having a lovely time, but today the first family left, K's brother K3 who lives in Qatar. We were sad to see them go, but tonight, my MIL's youngest brother arrived with his wife and daughter. He has often joined us for a brief time between Christmas and New Year's in the past 15 years and precisely a year ago we stopped for a couple of hours in Daytona Beach to see him and his family.

I'll write another post about the international adventures of our family, which I first mentioned on this blog back in 2006.

I don't know yet if I'll try to write 19 more posts in the next two days to reach 215. Nobody will ever read these posts, but I will, so I may decide to do it. ;-)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Done Submitting Grades!! Now to Finish that Pesky Translation!!

Six pages of legalese stand between me and freedom right now.

I started this never ending translation project in July 2014 -- during the World Cup, isn't that crazy? However, my absurdly packed scheduled prevented me from finishing it. These last six pages have been "hanging" since September, but I couldn't find head space and a block of time to do it before.

Now that we had to postpone our driving down to FL to be with family by a day so we both could finish our grading I will also go ahead and finish this translation! I will also go through the laborious process of Word Counts and coming up with an invoice that I will email them late tonight.

I don't feel relieved or accomplished, I just feel burnt out and NOT ready to drive 12 hours to Florida, but well... that's what will have to be done. Xmas won't be that great because there won't be a tree (no room in the rental house, I'm told) and there's only a lame "secret santa" to look forward to. Sigh...

OK, Let's see how long it will take me to finish the legalese translation!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

21 Years!

Our anniversary was yesterday, but we went out for dinner on Tuesday night because yesterday was a crazy-busy day.

In that dinner K gave me the gift that he brought all the way from Israel, a Swarovki crystal rainbow flower ring from Michal Negrin -- a designer I fell in love with during the trip. The next day I gave him his gift, a rainbow-colored shirt I bought at Stein Mart (later insert designer here). 

Perfectly matching gifts for a perfectly matched couple! ;-)
We tried some quick photos in the sunlight, this afternoon, but they didn't come out that great:

P.S. I don't really wear (or used to wear) jewelry, so this is actually the very first gift of this kind that K has given me. I suspect that purchased the ring unbeknownst to me after I took him into the Michal Negrin store at the Tel Aviv airport to show him how much I'd loved it, since I'm crazy for rainbow colors. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Offer Signed!!! & Musings about the Future

Finally, this morning, the offer arrived via email. Better late than never, I guess, but I will have to wait until the end of the holidays to talk to folks at U#1 about me quitting my part-time, poorly compensated, work there.

I signed it and already filled out the background check online paperwork that was sent my way.

The best part? This contract says that I am eligible for an expectation of "Continuing Employment" following my second review, to take place in 2021 -- by then my son might be going to school at the same university if he is accepted! My husband is already talking about moving there. Not so soon, though! Until our youngest graduates from high-school at the nearby boarding academy (where both out boys will be "village kids"), we'll live here.

The plan is to buy an apartment within walking distance of campus if Kelvin gets accepted there in 2020. He has been raised "the Brazilian way" and doesn't mind living with us during college. Of course I know he will feel pressure to go where his friends are going, but he is convinced that an in-state education will be more affordable and better quality than going to a private church-affiliated university.

We'll see! It's great to be able to feel that a more professionally stable future is in sight for me! Now we lecturers at U#2 need to keep up the good fight to have more rights, namely, assert our desire to also do research (in spite of not being TT faculty) and ask for support to go to conferences and to develop professionally. "The New Faculty Majority" needs to mobilize and achieve more rights!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Last Exams!!

I administered the last two exams this afternoon! Now I need to finish the grading and be done!! 

I'm slowly beginning to feel in the mood to pack the car and travel down to Florida for he holidays with K's whole family.

This is good because I've been so exhausted that last night I felt like I wanted and needed to be home for several days before I could be ready to travel. I didn't feel like my "normal self" last night, but I guess all I needed was a light at the end of the tunnel to restore my level of energy!

Let's see how it goes because our to do list is bottomless!!

New Haircut and Curly Hair Resources!

I had a haircut and new highlights and color done to my hair yesterday by this lovely hairdresser that was recommended by my colleagues at the university! The photo is not that great, but it gives a good idea:
And I bought this book and these products to see if they will help. 
I already love the book, which was written by the woman who launched the DevaCurl line of products. I'll report back after I start using the products! I'm excited! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I feel "done," but I'm only partly done

My students just finished the second exam of the day. It's almost all over but the grading... Oh, the grading! The online assignments are the most annoying, but I need to get to then ASAP! And to the emailed papers (shudder!). And e-portfolios! (Yikes!)

And I will, but I need to kick my son out of the computer and of editing his minecraft videos (sigh...). That is no easy task and my productivity this semester has been seriously affected by this new obsession of his. 

Well, good luck with grading to all of us!

A sad first

Today was the first time in my last 5.5 years teaching language that a student had the courage to bring his workbook for me to check and he had "fake" answered nearly all of the activities, mostly in English or unintelligible gibberish. For three whole chapters (out of four).

So sad! :-(  [Big sigh...]

Choosing not to do the work is one thing, buy attempting to pretend you did it just feels so awful to me! I couldn't yak to him in private, so I just quickly mentioned that he had not done the work and reminded him that it was 20% of the grade. He looked a bit upset and even slightly surprised/annoyed that he was caught. I also told him that I'll be on campus on Thursday if he decides to do the work.

I think I will send him an email. What do I say, though? I truly love these kids and want them to learn, but that was very upsetting. Did he think I would t notice? I also said to him the the activities are important and necessary and that's how one learns. And mentioned that his grade will probably reflect the lack of practice. 

Sigh... Sometimes it's hard to be a teacher! Especially at this university. I had the exact opposite experience at the other school. This young man simply disappeared halfway through the semester, but he came back two days before the final and took the missing tests and did great. He obviously did all the work. He is getting a zero for attendance (10% of the grade), but he'll pass with a good grade and a clear conscience.

I wish the semester had ended without this bitter experience!

The Last Day of Exams (not!)

Today was supposed to be my last day at U#1, but two students begged to take the exam on Thursday, so I'm not done! ARGH!! 

At least they are demonstrating they care about the class and want to do well, unlike their classmate. Sigh...

Monday, December 14, 2015

29 to go, maybe?

I will try to complete 215 posts this year, but I don't know if I'll be able to. The only reason I managed to do so last year was that we were home for both Christmas and New Year's and I just blogged a lot in the last two days of 2014.

This year will be more challenging because we will be in Florida with my husband's whole family, 18 people, 10 adults and 8 kids. This coming week will probably be insane because I have LOTS of grading to do and catching up on other things (the translation, hopefully?!), so let's see how this is going to work.

I'll try, but prepare myself not to be overly frustrated if it doesn't work.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This warm weather feels SO WRONG!

I am sweating right now in my cotton sweater, and tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70s -- this is crazy! 

I'm also upset because we bought ski passes and I'm hoping we won't have wasted our money! And of course it's scary that climate change is creeping into  our daily lives more and more. 

P.S. If you know me you'll know that I LOOOOVE warm weather, but not when it feels so wrong like this. 

Extrovert + Extremely Shy + ADD = Bad Party Goer


I hate parties in confined spaces with people I barely know. The noise is overwhelming to ADD me, then, because I'm shy I simply won't talk to strangers & I HATE small talk which is unbearably boring for people with ADD. The worst part is that since I'm an extrovert I actually really want to talk to people I know and I enjoy that, but my few friends are "normal" and, therefore, socializing with everyone else they know.


Yeah, that's why I HATE work parties. 

P.S. Another big problem is being contingent labor & feeling like I cannot even talk to same level with the TT faculty . (I'm tired of having too many chips on my shoulders... Sigh)

Monday, December 07, 2015

Last Day #1

I still have meetings and parties to attend, final exams to administer (at inconvenient times), but today is my first "last day" of the semester. My last day of classes at U#2.

In addition having to deal with another university, there is series of "last days" that comprise the end of a semester: last day of exams, last day to turn in grades. We live from deadline to deadline when working in an academic setting.

Today is my last day with a group of students I had for three semesters, though, and that's sad.
. . .

I taught the class in the morning and they clapped at the end. One of the students gave me cookies & a beautiful card! I don't feel sad anymore, it's simply over. I hope I was able to help them develop their Portuguese.

Now I need to drive back home... Sigh...

Three more times of mega-commute until next year. And I won't even feel relieved on Saturday night when I drive home after the last exam because I'll have tons of grading ahead. Oh well!

Sunday, December 06, 2015


Most boring post title ever, and post too...

Sorry, but I've got nothing better. I really am tired because I have been volunteering on a church-wide project for the past four nights for over four hours...

Sigh... it's fun, but very involved. Good thing that at least tonight the boys stayed home and took a break. Tomorrow is the last night and they'll be there with us.

Last day of class for me at U#2 tomorrow, we keep going until Thursday at U#1. Then finals for several days...

very tiresome.