Monday, December 31, 2018

Unbelievably Crazy Pre-Christmas & Houseguests' Arrival Disaster

It's hard to believe it happened, but it did. In fact, there aren't even adequate labels for this post! :-O

On December 16, Sunday night, when my parents were already here, taking care of my young niece and nephew (5 and 7 years old) and my sister-in-law was returning the next morning from a weekend in NYC and bringing her mom and dad from the airport, our water softener BURST!! Spilling water and flooding the stairwell, hallway, laundry space, bathroom, (carpeted) family room, and almost the guest bedroom on our house's first floor.

It was 10:20 pm and my oldest son, my parents and the kids were already sleeping. Our youngest son went to brush his teeth and there was no water, so he told us, and when my husband opened the stairwell door, water came rushing out. It was the stuff nightmares are made of, except in real life! :-( My husband had to literally shake my poor dad awake -- he was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the family room and his covers and mattress were getting wet. there were a couple of inches of water on the floor when my husband turned off the water main.

I sent a frantic text to a group of 10 friends and in about 20 minutes, the one who lives closest, had brought us a huge shop vac so we could finally begin to remove the water that until then was being "mopped" by all the towels in the house (some of which my husband and dad were trying to wring by hand to try to stop the water which actually seeped through the stairwell wall into the adjacent bathroom).

We were up vacuuming and cleaning up until close to 1 am. My parents' luggage and Christmas gifts were inside the stairwell -- the most damaged gifts were mine and my husband's, which were at the bottom of the bag. The suitcases weren't damaged because my husband was very quick to remove them. We were without water overnight, which wasn't fun. My husband went to a 24h Walmart at 2 am to buy some galons of water.

Next morning we had the plumber come first thing in the morning and as soon as the water was restored, my sister-in-law arrived from the airport with her parents! It was pretty chaotic because the plans were to have all of them (my parents, my sister-in-law and her kids, and her parents) stay with us, but with the family room and guest bedrooms out of commission, that would be hard! We called the insurance company, and then a local home restoration service, but they only came after 7 pm to get started on their work. They ripped off some of the vinyl flooring in the hallway and stairwell, cut off some drywall, and brought in a huge dehumidifier and four large fans. Those were on from Monday night through Thursday morning and were very noisy!

On that first evening my sister-in-law stayed at our youngest son's bedroom, her parents in the oldest, the boys slept in our bedroom and my parents slept in front of the Xmas tree in the living room (in spite of the noise coming from the first floor). The subsequent nights, a neighbor offered two spare bedrooms in her house for my parents and my SIL's parents to sleep and that was incredibly helpful!

We did go to Pennsylvania for a couple of days and when we came back my brother arrived from Indonesia where they live.

I will continue later because I need to go to sleep now. But it's been CRAZY here in the past two weeks!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November is almost over and I didn't blog once (till now)! :-(

I blame it all on being forced to use a laptop, something that I don't like much at all, since my oldest takes over the desktop computer for hours for Minecraft or gaming during his free time -- which coincide with the hours I would be working at home in the evening. I am thoroughly enjoying the one brave friend who is still blogging daily in November and making me a tiny bit wistful for the good old days of NaBloPoMo. Oh dear... I have FIVE labels for that in my sidebar, from 2007-2011, I didn't know I had quit it in 2011, how depressing! But I did it a few more times all 30 days from 2013-15, I stopped in 2016. HA! That coincides with the time when we moved the desktop from the office upstairs (which became Kelvin's bedroom) to the family room on the first floor.

Anyway... yeah. These days I journal on two separate journals, but I haven't yet given BuJo a try. I'm considering. I had no idea the author had created it to help him manage his ADHD -- this is precisely what I need! Help managing mine. Sigh...

I went to check BuJo and some articles about it and got distracted from writing this post! ;-P And of course my son will soon come to use the computer (I was writing this earlier, late morning, by now I've done three loads of laundry, most of which I am attempting to line dry since the weather is nice, nearly 60 degrees.

What else has been going on? We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law's family coming and spending two days and a half with us. We spent 10 Thanksgivings with them from 2002-2013 before they moved to Egypt in 2014. They moved back to the U.S. last year and since then my BIL had to have his leg amputated to get rid of an extremely rare recurring cancer. He is doing incredibly well and we hope and pray that his cancer will be permanently gone now.

I'm not looking forward to the last two weeks of the semester, this break is always a little unsettling... but I will soldier on, and grade a lot and everything will end well as it always does.

Hopefully I'll blog again a few more times before the year is out.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sad for Brasil :-(

Brazil elected a new president today and it was a really difficult choice, people were between "a rock and a hard place" with the two most hated candidates running against each another in the second round, but in min, and a lot of other people's opinion, one of the options was way worse than the other.

The former president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached two years ago and the former two term president Lula (Luís Inácio "Lula" da Silva) is currently in jail. Their party, PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores (the Worker's Party) has been caught in a serious corruption scheme and a brave judge in my home state of Paraná, Sérgio Moro, has been prosecuting, charging, and putting the guilty ones in jail. If you want to understand the background of the investigation, you can watch the Netflix series The Mechanism. It's so depressing I haven't been able to watch it all, just the first episode. The runner up to today's second round of the election was Fernando Haddad who was appointed the candidate for PT after Lula was unable to run and he lost mostly because of the people's hatred for the party.

The winner, sigh... I don't like to say his name, the same way I avoid saying #NotMyPresident's name like the plague, so I'll just link to him. This man  (#AlsoNotMyPresident) is a former Army Captain and he was a congressman for 27 years and did basically NOTHING. He is pretty outspoken like the U.S. president and has made many outrageous statement which were racist, homophobic, misogynistic, really bad stuff. He's also in favor of allowing people to have guns (guns aren't freely allowed in Brazil), torture, the death penalty, the police having free agency to kill criminals (which it kind of already does in Brasil), and many other controversial things. He says he is a Christian and has the support of most evangelicals. Poor people and minorities, particularly Black and gay Brazilians are really upset by all the hatred unleashed by his candidacy. Some of his statements show fascist tendencies too. Hatred was running so high that he was actually stabbed with a knife when campaigning back in September.

He won partly because of the rampant fake news campaigns in social media. Brazilians are apparently the most gullible people in the planet, who most believe in fake news. I cannot find any articles about this in English, but there were a few in Portuguese. The main reason he won, though, is everyone's desire to get rid of the worker's party. Many people didn't like him, but voted against the other party. Others actually literally say that he's "a myth" and that he's going to save Brazil from PT and make it succeed.

This election destroyed lifelong friendships and pitted family members against each other.This whole thing is just too sad and upsetting. I just pray that the situation gets better in Brazil. :-(

Sunday, October 07, 2018

It's not funny anymore! :-(

Over ten years ago I wrote a post about a parody of the classic children's book Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown) that made fun of George W. Bush and when I clicked on the link to the publisher on that post, I discovered that there will be a new book from the same authors about our current president whose name I don't want to even say. It will be released soon, and it has lines such as:
In the very classy room
There was a golden mirror
And a silver spoon
And a broadcast of --

A half-baked story from a fake newsroom.

This kind of parody was funny to me in 2008, but ten years later and with that man as president. It's not anymore. :-(

The past two weeks have been hard, and made harder by the presidential election in Brazil (the front runner is as bad as the U.S. president, if not worse). It's all so very upsetting. How the country and the political climate has changed in the past ten years. Who knew the backlash for 8 years of a Democratic African American president would be so fierce and devastating?

White Americans feel threatened and are doing all they can to stem the threat of a future with a majority of (brown) immigrants and their descendants in this country. This has been a central goal of everything that this government has done since January 2017. It's way too depressing...

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Wasted" Seeds?

OK, since I broke the "blogger's block," and wrote about "sowing seeds" let me write some more on a related topic.

So today I received an email related to a "seed" that actually was thrown my way, but maybe I'm just wasting it. I was supposed to write (to have written by now) a paper for a book, a "handbook" in the subject area of my dissertation. It was an "invited" publication and I was excited about it, BUT... there were many stumbling blocks:
  • I my email communications with the editors suffered numerous delays (I didn't hear back from them, then I dind't write back);
  • I never received a contract from them as they said they would send, and 
  • I had the hardest time retrieving my dissertation data from an old and inaccessible computer (only late July my husband broke through) -- I couldn't write the paper without that data;
  • an academic friend who is tenured and trying to mentor me mentioned that "Handbook" papers aren't worth very much in the grand scheme of things, which took the rest of my already embattled/non-existent enthusiasm for the project.
And today I get this email. Strange timing. I actually got an earlier email on August 3 and I was surprised by it. These are the "last call" emails I had received from other people before.

But I actually don't know if it would be worth it trying to write this thing. It wouldn't be extremely hard, but it wouldn't be easy either. Sigh...

What do I do? I think I will reply to the email saying I need more time, but also that, I don't know... I never got any kind of contract, so is it really going to be published? Sigh... and I also feel kind of ashamed that I didn't follow up to several of the emails. I do have the excuse of not having the data, which is true, but still.

I feel such a failure! Sigh... I have this feeling I bring these things upon myself. Partly because of my poorly handled ADHD, partly because of...? well, I'll blame on the ADHD. It makes me feel slightly better. And it's not totally a lie.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sowing Some Seeds...

... I cannot write that without thinking of the song "A Bit of Earth" from the Broadway musical version of one of my favorite books, Secret Garden, it's not my favorite song (see below), but it's about sowing seeds:

My favorite is "The Girl I Mean to Be":

In any case, this is not about gardening, but about submitting a paper abstract for a conference that will be nearby. I continue not to have any funding for conferences that aren't related to teaching, but a friend who went to graduate school with me has offered to let me stay in her hotel room!

This is the first paper I submit in a few years (nearly three!), and it has been very intellectually stimulating to do so.

I guess that this post also means that I'm "sowing some seeds" in the blog as well, right? I still plan blog posts in my head (old habits die hard, I started blogging nearly 14 years ago!!). I have so much to say, but I will publish this and hope that I'll come back here soon.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Summer Road Trip of a Lifetime (and maybe... How Social Media is Ruining my Life and... the World? ;-)

I suspect that my smart phone (I was a late adopter and only got a smart phone in 2012, 6 years ago) and social media (Facebook and now Instagram -- the new "micro-blogging" and photo sharing site) have ruined my life. Sigh... I spend too much time scrolling through its bait-y feeds and though I follow very few people on Instagram, it's still distracting because of the stupid stories. I REFUSE to look at stories on FB. I still miss blogging and reading blogs immensely and I haven't completely lost the habit of "writing blog posts in my head" -- [relatively] old habits die hard! -- but I feel like I am slowly losing my ability to concentrate on longer texts and tasks. It doesn't help that I have ADHD. I am also being influenced by the images I see and people share (more on that later).

OK, I promise that this annoying introduction will connect to my main topic, our AMAZING, Dream-Come-True trip of this summer...

We DROVE from the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. where we live all the way to the Canadian Rockies and even a bit of the Pacific Northwest and it was GLORIOUS!!

Yes, it was an insanely long drive of 4 days there and 4 days back, but we took our time and it worked well. It was also slightly stressful to sleep almost every night at a new hotel and plan, shop for, and prepare ALL OUR MEALS (except for breakfast at all but 4 mornings of the trip) on the go. We ate out exactly ONCE during the whole trip -- on the last day driving back. I took my wonderful pressure cooker (Power XL if you don't want to click) and a small hot pot and we had three ice-packs and a small cooler. ALL hotels had fridges, some of them full-sized ones.

A quick summary of the trip if you're curious, I added links to the official National Park sites:

Day 1 - 7/30 (Mon): 8h+ drive to Michigan. We slept at a friend's house and my parents at a hotel (mistakenly reserved by my son)
Day 2 - 7/31 (Tue): 8h+ Drive to Minneapolis (accidentally did a bathroom stop at Wisconsin Dells!) where we had an amazing Home2Suites across the street from a natural grocery store. We went to check out the Mall of America in the evening.
Day 3 - 8/1 (Wed): 7h+ from Minneapolis to Winnipeg, Canada. We saw the city a bit, purchased our National Park Pass, and rain ponchos at a Dollarama store before heading to the hotel. We didn't like downtown Winnipeg very much.
Day 4 - 8/2 (Thu): 10h+ drive from Winnipeg to Medicine Hat (Alberta). We hurried along because the hotel had indoor water slides and we enjoyed that (I cooked soup).
Day 5 - 8/3 (Fri): 4+ hour drive to Banff, AB, passing through the North of Calgary and seeing it in the distance. We stopped in Banff and were delighted by the turquoise water of the river and the gorgeous Cascades of Time Garden. It began to rain (hence the ponchos) and, because of the rain, which emptied the parking lots, we managed to quickly see Lake Louise (definitely "the Mona Lisa of Lakes" -- SUPER CROWDED, it's almost disappointing ;-), Moraine Lake (an AMAZING blue even in the rain), and, after some annoying traffic and the end of rain, Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park (British Columbia). We were staying in Golden, BC.
Day 6 - 8/4 (Sat): Rain was in the forecast for the Banff area, so we drove through the Canadian Glacier National Park and visited Revelstoke National Park, where we saw the beautiful Columbia river from above and enjoyed beautiful alpine wildflowers! It was partly cloudy at times, but not cold! The only thing we didn't like was the vicious mosquitoes at the parking lot at the summit where we had our lunch. (stayed in Golden, BC a second night)
Day 7 - 8/5 (Sun): Today was sunny with some clouds and we drove through Yoho & Banff National Parks all the way to Jasper National Park and beyond, about 6h driving, with many stops. Amazing day of "adventures" & incredible views: canoeing at Emerald Lake (cheapest spot, gorgeous lake), seeing Takakkaw Falls (both in Yoho NP), seeing a freight train go through both of the spiral tunnels!! Hiking up to see the incredible Peyto Lake. Marveling at the mountains and glaciers along the Icefields Parkway North and seeing a black bear next to the road! Stopping to see the Columbia Icefields and its great visitor center. And then... driving all the way to McBride, British Columbia (seeing two majestic elk eating calmly by the roadside) where we spent two nights in an apartment at the North Lodge Motel. The farthest Northwest we went on the trip!

Day 8 - 8/6 (Mon): Lots of driving because McBride is TWO HOURS from Jasper. We did the round trip and hiked the beautiful Maligne Canyon, drove to see Medicine lake (and unfortunately didn't drive down to Maligne Lake, so we didn't have a chance to see moose -- they are around Medicine and Maligne lakes). We had lunch next to the Maligne River and were going to go up on the AirTram in Jasper, but they closed due to the weather -- very disappointing! It was a beautiful and sunny day, but it was probably windy. So we went to downtown Jasper instead, where we had ice-cream, and went grocery shopping. On the drive back we stopped to see the majestic Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. This was the last sunny and crisp day of the trip.

Day 9 - 8/7 (Tue): Long drive back South (nearly 300 miles), and it was sunny, but unfortunately very hazy. South on the Icefield Parkway we stopped at Athabasca Falls and enjoyed walking through it's canyon and going down to the river, we saw Sunwapta Falls and had lunch there, then, we stopped at the Athabasca Glacier (Columbia Icefields), walked all the way to the glacier (even though  it's forbidden, everyone does it), and walked a little bit on top of it -- but we didn't go very far like lots of other people. Then we stopped at Peyto lake (a bit hazy and it was 6:30 pm) to see it again at a different time of day and we enjoyed taking tons of photos of the gorgeous blue Bow Lake with lots of sunshine. We arrived at the most luxurious (and expensive!) accommodation of the whole trip at the Mystic Springs Chalets and Hot Pools in Canmore. We went to the pool and also had to go grocery shopping. It was very very smoky in Banff and Canmore due to the Wardle fire in Kootenay National park. :-(

Day 10 - 8/8 (Wed): Today we went back to the lakes in the Banff area, but we couldn't get an early start and the parking lots were closed, so we had to park at the overflow area and pay for a shuttle to Moraine Lake. It was SO WORTH IT!!! The bluest lake, incredible photos, can't even describe it. Then we had lunch at the parking area (all picnic tables are in the sun, so we used a large rock for table and tree trunk stumps to sit on). After lunch, we were able to find parking to visit the über-crowded Lake Louise. There were two brides taking photos there! Last, but not least, we hiked the Johnston Canyon where I was wretchedly disappointed that the "hidden cave" and huge boulder and waterfall (link to image search), the "most photographed spot in Alberta" is now off limits. See, social media ruining my life. I REALLY wanted to see and photograph that place!! The ostensive reason is protecting birds, and I do believe the birds were probably bothered by the foot traffic in that hilly wooded area, but the canyon is SO MASSIVELY VISITED that I believe unless they closed it completely, it wouldn't help the birds much. But who am I to say/judge? My husband tried to console me saying that I care for the environment, but I was devastated. 

Day 11 - 8/9 (Thu): Last visit to Banff National Park area: we visited the lovely Cave and Basin National Historical Site which is where the very first Canadian National Park originated to protect the hot springs from prospective bidders. Then we drove to Calgary where we stayed at the excellently located Homewood Suites downtown and went to have dinner with friends at Blaze Pizza (we hardly ate because we had eaten at the hotel!).
Day 12 - 8/10 (Fri): Today we drove from Calgary to Glacier National Park in the U.S. and we met up with friends again! We met them at Logan Pass and then hiked with them for about an hour in the scary Highline trail. We headed to our hotel in Kalispell where we went grocery shopping (at Costco!) and then I cooked dinner for our friends, since we were staying at Homewood Suites again. 
Day 13 - 8/11 (Sat): Today we visited Glacier National Park again with our friends before they had to leave to go back to Missoula. In the morning our youngest son took the challenge and jumped off a cliff into the frigid waters of this swimming hole! Then, after a picnic, lunch we hiked to the Hidden Lake in Logan Pass and saw many mountain goats (and snow)! Then we drove four hours to our hotel in Helena where we arrived pretty late (10 pm).
Day 14 - 8/12 (Sun): Today we drove for 8h+ from Helena, MT to Mount Rushmore and we stayed for the evening presentation and lighting, it was nice! We stayed in a Best Western in Hill City that looked very "Western" indeed! ;-)
Day 15 - 8/13 (Mon): Today we drove through Badlands National Park on our way to Omaha, NE. There was a moment we were 90 mph on I-90 and it was 99F! I really liked Badlands, I wish we'd spent more time there, but we needed to get to Nebraska.

Day 16 - 8/14 (Tue): Took a detour to visit a denominational College in Lincoln, NE and quickly visited Saint Louis, MI in the late afternoon/ evening. It was lots of fun to take the tram to the top of the Gateway Arch. We literally forgot our hunger and tiredness in the brand new museum under the arch, FANTASTIC! 
Day 17 - 8/15 (Wed): Drove back home, longest day, over 13 hours, but we had a good lunch at Olive Garden. ;-)

This was long and took me a lot of time to write, but it was fun to remember it all!

Back to the social media issue. I believe that people have more money and that's why they travel more, but I also think that the ability to see photos of your friends in beautiful places, such as the Canadian Rockies lakes and vistas, makes people want to go there too, so I think that the huge crowds we saw -- everyone trying to take the most perfect pictures, even risking limb to do so (there was this girl who fell in the water in Moraine lake trying to reach the rocks and several people were trying to balance on logs and rocks to take photos). Of course we were busy taking photos too and I spent A LOT of time selecting the perfect 10 photos of each day and writing a short descriptive text to post on Instagram. I posted way more photos to Facebook (later), but used the same texts.

Yeah... is this all very bad? Not all of it, I'm sure. I have to go now, I have to practice a song with a group of women to sing tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


When I have gone this long without posting, for some reason I cannot write a descriptive title.


Like... "To the beach in Florida and back and Hamilton!" for example.

or the darker "When your worst nightmares come true!!" :-O  or "Family Reunion Turns into Nightmare" ;-P

All are kind of true... (sigh)

We did go to to Destin, FL with my husband's whole family plus his departed dad's twin brother and his wife. However, THERE WERE BEDBUGS! And they bit almost every single part of my body. Not the feet because I wear socks to bed and not my torso/lower back/bums and front. Everything else was bitten.

Did I mention this has always been my worst nightmare? And that after something like that happens it's another nightmare to wash all one's clothes or dry on high the clean ones to make sure you won't bring those things back home.

OK, I have more things to say, but I need to post this so my mom can use the computer. I'll be back and edit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Employed until 2022 & I VOTED!!!!!

I signed my new contract this weekend.

With the new 3 year contract we are reviewed half-way through (in the beginning of this semester) and then the contract is renewed for 3 more years, so I have work guaranteed until May 2022 unless the program is closed or enrollment is too low or something bad like that.

Right now enrollment for the Fall is the lowest it's been in the past 6 years, but it's just because I have to wait to let the seniors in the class. I should have two full sections. Sigh...

My title was also changed, and I now have a "fake" real academic title, but it ends with two words that tell the tale that I'm not in the tenure track.

I will have an intense week of work next week designing a new course and redesigning another one. What makes it bad is the nearly 3h commute (round trip). I know I'll live and it will be fun, but there'll be lots of driving.

In typical out of sync fashion my husband is doing his course design thing this week at U#1 and I do mine next week. I think it's good for our 14 year old son, since it would be awful for him if both of us were doing it this week. The 16 year old is working in Florida helping to run a day-camp. He'll be back next week and he'll be traveling with my mother-in-law and a tour group for two weeks, lucky him!

Last, but not least, I voted yesterday! I was so happy and so excited! Much more excited than on the day I got the citizenship. I have a voice now!! And I finally feel like a citizen. I think it will really sink in when our passports arrive (we applied last week) and I go out of the country as an American. :-O

Monday, May 14, 2018


Things have calmed down somewhat, but there is still plenty of CRAZY to come!!

If you're wondering about my brother-in-law, he had a successful surgery and got out of the hospital in only 5 days after the amputation. The initial recovery was excellent and he's still recovering well, but the "phantom feelings" and nerve sensations in the leg that he doesn't have are really bothering him a lot right now. If you pray, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Sigh... we saw him yesterday.

I will try to blog again soon, but the past few weeks were simply insane. My parents arrived on the day I taught my last classes, but they didn't come to our house. We picked them up at the airport (late at night) and drove them my aunt's house so they could help care for my disabled uncle for a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I printed my final exams and gave them to two graduate students who administered them for me, because I had to travel to Florida for five days with my son's robotics team and their teacher. We drove in two cars, 12 hours the first day (Thursday) to St. Augustine, visited Kennedy Space Center the next day, then took it easy on Saturday. On Sunday was their competition (they finished 8/23, similar to last year in California), then we still drove 4 hours from Orlando to Savannah, GA. On Monday we drove back.

It was harder than the California trip last year because of all the driving, and also, more kids. We had 6 kids last year and were in one mini-van, this year there were 8 kids... and they kind of trashed my new (to us) mini-van. :-(

After I came back I had to go pick up the final exams and grade them, then I drove to get my parents, then helped cook lunch at the elementary school, and volunteered taking photos of an event in the evening. This Saturday were the day-long concerts for my son's high school (morning, afternoon and night!) that I didn't want my parents to miss, then yesterday we drove two hours to spend Mother's day with my mother-in-law and K's two brothers (K4 had driven down from Canada with his family to see K2 after the surgery).

Now I have to gear up to go on my son's 8th grade class trip, then comes the graduation, my husband's birthday, my son's birthday, trips with my parents, etc...

Sigh... and there's more, but I'll write about that later!

P.S. Last Thursday my husband became a U.S. citizen too! I think he's happier than I am about it. He even made a speech! It was kind of cute. ;-)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Bad News (extended family)

I need to sleep, but I also needed to share this before the event.

I haven't blogged much about this over the years, especially because I suspect that the person in question has read my blog in the past (I don't think now or any time recently), but I probably mentioned in passing that in 2011 my brother-in-law had cancer (liposarcoma) on his thigh and two surgeries followed by radiation therapy. The cancer returned in 2015, then again in 2017 followed by two surgeries, but in spite of those, the tumors came back in the same spot.

So early tomorrow morning, my BIL is having his left leg amputated not too far from his hip. This is absolutely devastating and we hope he can recover well, have an implant, and a prosthetic leg in the future. But mostly we hope the cancer won't return elsewhere (so far it has not).

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. I'll try to provide updates.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The TEN YEAR Anniversary of my PhD Dissertation Defense!!!

Ten years ago today I defended my dissertation. It was Wonderful! ;-)

Later, in the following weeks, it would get quite stressful, but the day, the moment itself, was great.

I can hardly believe I still have this blog. It's useless, though, since the many friends I made through blogging have all "disbanded" from blogland (with a few rare exceptions).

I actually went through every single one of my 1,028 Facebook friends to cull the 30+ people I met through my blog so I could write a FB post about this anniversary and share the blog post from that day there.


I have been thinking about this anniversary quite a bit lately. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will never have a "real" academic career and that this is OK!!! There is a project I'm just beginning to work on that is, in my mind, the only actual way I can celebrate this 10 year anniversary in a worthwhile way. I don't know if this project/dream will actually come true, but I hope it does.

I will share more about it in time. If it does work out, it will enable me to pursue some of the academic interests that matter most to me and it will most certainly bring me satisfaction and also peace. I want to stop feeling troubled, angsty, and upset about academia. I want to have a more positive perspective.

There is a post I wrote around the time of the dissertation defense (and which I'll come back to edit to add the link) that is pretty "prescient" -- it demonstrates that I probably really am not "tenure track"  material because I enjoy life more than I enjoy spending ALL my time researching and writing.

I think I'll be ok. Sigh... And let me post this before midnight!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Did she finally come around?

Last week my mom surprised me. When I left Brazil 22 years ago next June, my mom desperately sobbed and cried at the airport. Over the years, she has never hid her pain and sadness that we moved so far away. Thankfully she and my dad were able to spend lots of time with us and the grandsons because they both retired one year after my oldest son was born and if it weren't for their help, I would have never finished my PhD.

My brother left Brazil in 2006 to live in China and then in New Zealand, but he went back to Brazil for nearly four years (2014-January 2018). He is now in Indonesia and he doesn't plan to come back. His move was hard on my parents because my brother has two young children, 5 (the boy) and 3 (almost 4), the girl.

Brazil is in turmoil now. The president was impeached to years ago and her party, the Worker's party, which had been in power for ten years is being charged with corruption. Violence has gotten worse in Rio de Janeiro, prompting the president to send the armed forces to take care of security. The presidential election has become a circus and the country's recent past has literally become a Netflix series, The Mechanism (with all names changed).

So last week, my mom sent us a voice message over WhatsApp that really surprised me! She said that she thinks my brother is right in leaving Brazil and that it's good that I don't live there either! She also said that she and my dad won't live much longer, so it doesn't matter that things are bad, but she seems happy that we're out of there.

WOW, just wow! I'm not happy that my home country is falling apart, but I sure feel better that my mom seems to be much more reconciled to us having left the country. I hope her feeling holds, and also that things don't get too bad so she and dad can be OK there.

In any case, also good timing with my citizenship thing as well, right?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Safely Back!

Both of my "babies" made it back safely!

My washer and drier were very full last night, but my heart was fuller! ;-)

P.S. the day after my oldest had left for Peru (3/16), I became a citizen of this country. Right now I don't have a post in my about that, but I feel bad holding back that information from you. Incredibly, there seems to be a "silver lining" to this, and I will blog about that soon, promise!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Childless for Four Days...

... after having an only son for a week.

In about 18 hours I won't be childless anymore and in about 20-21 hours our family will be complete again! It hasn't been bad, really. There were some moments things felt strange, but not having to worry about what to feed them and just doing our own thing, my husband and I, it was pretty ok. ;-)

The boys texted and called with regularity. The oldest was in Cusco, Peru, for a mission trip. He had bought an international data package, so he could text and call as much as he wanted or needed. One day (possibly Wednesday), there was a 40 minute phone call because he enjoys just being on the phone while he and I are doing various things, and I actually had to basically hang up because I was tired of being put on hold for a few moments at a time. This morning he woke us up at 8:40 (we had taken naps yesterday afternoon, then stayed up really late watching a movie) and we talked for over 30 minutes while he was at the airport, at times frantically searching his backpack for his allergy medication. Their flight had been delayed several hours, so he felt like calling me and just talking for a while. It was good to catch up on what he'd been up to since Thursday. Then, when they finally got to Lima and he had Wi-Fi at the hotel he called me to seemingly ask me what drink he should by at the soda machine (K and I were on our way to eat out and I had to say goodbye and hang up again because we had arrived at the restaurant). Later, he called quickly just to request that I make sure I have tons of ramen noodle so he can make it for himself as soon as he gets home! :-D From what he's been telling me, they all had a wonderful time, in spite of the horrible food and some people getting sick (possibly food poisoning) at the end of the trip (yesterday and today). I know I will have to spend hours seeing all his photos and videos!

Our youngest went to Tennessee for a robotics competition and his texts and calls were a bit more anxious (he forgot a towel, he was unhappy with the food and how different "American" food is), but he did great for most of the time. This morning he texted me after their first two competitions, then in the early afternoon he said that they hadn't done very well in their robot's run. A few hours later, though, he texted me SUPER excited saying that they were the champions! Now they are headed to Florida in early May and I will be a chaperone again, except that this time I'll have to drive all the way to Orlando and back. :-( Not as fun as flying to San Francisco and getting to visit Yosemite and do other fun things... ;-P

Today my husband decided to start the Spring cleaning. As a matter of fact, he decided he will spend more time doing projects around the house and I'm thankful about that. It is a double-edged sword, though... Sigh... I will have to endure lots and LOTS of pestering on how many shoes or scarves or winter hats I have accumulated over the years... Not very fun. I did manage to separate several of each for donation today and we have a HUGE donation pile with many of items we haven't used in years. There is a long way to go in cleaning the house and de-cluttering, but hopefully we can do a better job this year than we've done before.

OK, I will now end this scattered post to go to bed & be prepared for their arrival tomorrow.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

16 Years a Mother/ Trip Update

On Friday my oldest turned 16 and I enjoyed spending about half an hour with him right next to me in our bed (with my husband putting away his clothes near us) as the time of his birth, 4:14 pm, came and went. I had the scrapbook of his birth photos in my hands and he didn't want to look at them, but I'm thankful that he was content enough to hang out with us at that special time. He even let me take photos (even though he was making a scowling face) at 4:14 and I only shared those with my parents and brother. We talked about our recent trip, since I had just picked up is dad from the airport bus (we have one now!!).

Kelvin's birthday celebration stretched for a week and a half because his birthday present was a trip to Los Angeles with my husband and I. He ADORES traveling (he is truly our son and our parents' grandson -- the oldest!) and he's just about to travel again this coming Thursday on a mission trip to Peru. This year, exceptionally, my husband's professional association conference coincided with our Spring Break, so he was planning to take me with him to LA, but then our son asked to join us.

Both boys missed 3 days of school. Friday 3/2 and Monday and Tuesday. Our youngest stayed with his cousins and my sister-in-law (my BIL was traveling) and we flew from the airport closest to their house to make it convenient to drop L off and pick him up. LA was awesome and I posted some photos to Instagram & Facebook. It rained all day Friday (our first day there), but we enjoyed our visits to the Getty Villa and the Getty Center in spite of the rain and the lack of views

(I'll try to insert a photo later)

On Friday night we headed to Banning (towards the Desert/Palm Springs) where our friends live and it was awesome to see them again! Their daughter was my student (from 2nd-4th grades, once a week English class, she doesn't even remember) and she was one of the flower girls in our wedding. They left Brazil two years after we did and since then we've seen them in 2003, 2016 and now (my husband also saw them back in 2005 when his conference was there too). We talked for hours, and visited Joshua Tree National Park on Saturday.

On Sunday we headed back to LA and visited the Griffith Observatory and had dinner with a dear friend after checking into our fancy apartment in downtown LA. On Monday, our last day there, Kelvin and I took the metro and walked around downtown (City Hall, Disney Hall) then met up with my husband at the SkySpace which has awesome views. We ended the day seeing the sunset and meeting up with another group of friends (husband, wife, two daughters) we hadn't seen since 2015. He was my "accountability partner" when I was writing my PhD dissertation and he was finishing his thesis for his D. Min. Now he's pursuing a Ph.D. at Fuller University and we're very happy for him. While we talked, Kelvin did a time-lapse of the sunset.

The trip was intense, but the perfect blend of sight-seeing and catching up with friends and I think Kelvin liked to meet our friends. He certainly got to listen to A LOT of Portuguese which is good for him. He wishes we could go to Brazil more often, he loves going there and it's pretty much the only time he speaks Portuguese. Sigh... All day Tuesday was wasted with our trip back and it was tough on him having to wake up early again to go to school in spite of the jet lag. Now he's gotta get ready not only to travel again, but to spend a week at extremely high altitudes in Cuzco Peru. I hope he'll be ok!

Oh, yeah, to finish off the narration of the birthday. The day didn't start great because Kelvin had a nose-bleed and both boys were late for school on account of that, but I made up for the upset by taking him to get a Subway sandwich for lunch, making the traditional "vanilla ice-cream-cool whip Oreo crust" ice-cream cake. Then on Saturday he invited his two best friends and I cooked his favorite food (Brazilian-style stroganoff with veggie chicken and rice) for lunch as well as the dessert he asked me to make (a trifle dessert with cake, berries, and two kids of cream (one condensed milk based).
(maybe insert photo here)
I think it was a good birthday overall! I also posted 60+ photos of him from birth until now to Facebook and I enjoyed reading the comments!

Friday, February 09, 2018

Glimpse of my Food Vocab Presentation

Edited to add another image that I hope will work.
This is the first page of the presentation that pulled an all nighter to prepare. It looks kinda nice, no? I used MS Word, so I inserted text boxes the size I wanted and pasted an image copied from the internet inside each text box. An insane amount of work. Adding text would have taken almost double the time because in order to place text exactly where I wanted I would have to add smaller text boxes within the bigger ones. I LOVE what I can do with their boxes on Word!

Só, since the students had a handout with all the words in their hands, theycoile follow along. Now, if I make a recording pronouncing the words with quick comments, they can take advantage of his resource on their own. How could I “make” them do it?

GAH... I do not like teaching language, it’s so boring! :-( Its not what signed up for to do for life. I started doing that back when I was 19-23 (I taught English as a foreign language), but didn’t even get a PhD in a language/literature and didn’t teach language in graduate school. I’m stuck with it because it’s he only thing available for me... I don’t really “stand out” in other crowded field such as teaching world lit which is what I was trained to do.


My apologies for whining. I am thankful I have a job (not just a lame job, but a full time one), I promise I am. I mostly enjoy it. But I definitely long for more. A year ago I cried before teaching one of my literature classes. I can’t think about it too much.

Ok, enough of this disheartening discussion. I just thought I’d let you take a peek at the results of my all-nighter! ;-)

Thursday, February 08, 2018


Finally, after nearly two months, I made it to yoga this morning!! I was really sad that it didn't work out for me to go during the whole month of January. The teacher I love only teaches two days, Mondays and Thursdays and after classes started I can only go on Thursday.

I have a hard time, actually, it's impossible for me to work out by myself. After I purchase this ADHD course I've been implementing little things here and there to make me a more productive person, so I have been doing stretching exercises (basically yoga poses) to strengthen my lower back practically every night before bed, which is great. I know I can also work out and be more active in a consistent manner, but I'm not there yet, I'm trying little by little. In the meantime, I will continue to try to go to at least one yoga class a week.

My yoga teacher is AMAZING! There isn't one class in which she doesn't have us do at least one pose of a modification of a pose that is 100% new to me. I have been going to her classes for five years now, and even though I don't go as often as I'd like (I really cannot afford it, I wish I could!), I know for sure that she's always learning and adding more poses to her own practice and she plans her classes very carefully. It's truly a gift to do yoga under her guidance.

In any case, I enjoyed every minute of it and I'm going to try my best not to be so sedentary. I'm truly in horrible shape! (I'll try to share more about that later).

P.S. Thanks for your supportive comment to my previous post, What Now? I don't think it's a school thing at all, my colleague was just being "hirself." Sigh... I should have known better and not done the presentation. It's ok, and I defended myself from the very beginning of our talk, since this particular class is NOT representative of how most of my classes go, so I'm not really in the wrong. It was just annoying to have to sit there and be preached to by this person who is younger and more inexperienced than I am and who actually doesn't do anything for the program except chime in once in a while to say what I should do -- which I actually appreciate, even though it's much more work for me. In Spanish, everything, syllabi, exams, everything but individual classes/lessons is planned by "higher ups" so the graduate students and lecturers can teach uniformly. Thankfully, s/he says s/he's not required to share the evaluation with anyone, it's just between hir and me -- it's not part of the dossier they send to the dean for my renewal. That is good!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

An All Nighter

I pulled an all nighter.

And all I got to show for it was a few NI ("needs improvement") categories in my class observation evaluation that my colleague did today.


Eight years ago when I started to teach language, when I reached the Food chapter I had the idea to create a vocabulary handout for food words that I titled "The Food ABCs." It has these categories: Fruit, Vegetables & Legumes, Typical Brazilian Dishes & Savory Appetizers, Fish, Spices & Herbs, and Desserts/Sweets followed by lists of words in alphabetical order. Not particularly brilliant, but I thought it was a fun way to organize the really extensive and fascinating (at least to me) food related vocabulary.

I fine tuned the handout over these past years, and I have always wanted to find a way to include pictures of the foods by making a slide show or even a video (I don't really edit videos, though).  Since I had to teach this particular lesson when being evaluated, I had the "brilliant" stupid idea to make it for today's class. It was the perfect excuse! (People with ADHD are always searching for good "excuses" or firm deadlines as motivator to get things done).

After fiddling with power point and prezi, I decided I would stick to Good Old Word, a program* I've been using since 1994 when my parents got their first computer. Word kept crashing repeatedly, but I kept working and saving the document as a PDF until I was done at 5 am. The Word document is now blank (?!?!) :-( but I have a PDF!!
    *now programs are called "apps" on PCs why??!! :-( #hugePetPeeveofmine

So, after all this effort, I took 10+ minutes of class to present the document and, as a result, I got a few NIs and some "sermonizing" about the proper way to introduce vocabulary, get students talking, and teach a language class.

Such a waste of time and effort! I need to write this down so I remember to teach a class exactly as prescribed when he evaluates me again in 2 years.

I desperately need to get myself to bed now, but I wanted to write this post.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

(Long Overdue) Update

I'm sure I have one or more posts with this exact same* title, but I don't mind.
   *this is possibly one of those "wrong," redundant expressons, oh well! ;-P

After resurrecting a post deep from the drafts folder two days ago, it's time for a real update.


It's not "writer's block" exactly, but its part and parcel of living with ADHD. Certain things just feel so overwhelming! Blogging is generally therapeutic for me, it helps me process what I'm going through and also to record life's events (a really important facet of blogging in my view), but it's one of the things that I also "avoid" for fear of getting sucked in and not doing what I need to be doing. This doesn't really work because I find many other avenues of procrastinating and avoiding work that are way less interesting and productive than blogging, but well... that's what I do.

So, if you're wondering, everything went super well with the citizenship interview a week and a half ago. I was afraid it would take very long and even though our appointments were at 1:05 and 1:45 pm I made arrangements for both of our sons to go home from school (they leave at 5 pm!). My husband only waited 15 minutes for his appointment and I less than 10. In addition, the very upbeat African American lady who did my interview called my husband to come too, so we could "celebrate this moment" together.

There is nothing really "celebratory" about the perfunctory interview. (1)You swear to say the truth,  then (2) they do an "English exam" (answering one super ultra simple question and writing one short sentence that they dictate to you -- in my case it was "What money do you pay to the government?" "Taxes!" and then she says "Write here: 'We pay taxes.'"), then (3) there are the six history questions from the 100 questions we study; and finally (4) they go over the application, including checking phone numbers, trips out of the country (she declined to write down my super short trips to Argentina and Canada last Fall because she said it didn't matter, while my husband's interviewer wrote it all down), and asking all the sensitive questions at the end, about crime, and terrorism, and communism, etc. They also make sure that we understand we will have to pledge allegiance, and serve the country, bear arms, or other non-combatant alternatives (I guess in the case of females?) and it's done. It takes less than 20 minutes -- for straightforward, "clean" cases such as ours. I'm sure they keep anyone who says yes to anything much longer.

Yeah, that was it. There will be no celebration whatsoever the day we do the swearing in. We will get our passports ASAP and I will immediately register to vote.

Side note: my husband wants to register as an independent and doesn't want to donate money or work on any campaigns, ever, I don't know if I will try to convince him otherwise. He just watched a bunch of documentaries about Waco & he's mad at both parties. He agrees with everything the left stands for, but he doesn't feel comfortable being involved in politics, I guess I don't blame him, but I'm desperate to do something, anything!

What else...

Yeah, I'm undergoing my review for the renewal of my three year contract (which doesn't expire until next Spring, but that's how they do it, they renew a year and a half before the end of it). I have to prepare a mini-dossier and I was supposed to be writing my teaching statement now, not a blog post.

In six and a half years I had never read my course evaluations. That's now I bury my head in the sand, ostrich like, but just yesterday I learned from this article that most ADHD folks have "rejection sensitivity disphoria" -- I TOTALLY HAVE THAT!! This in addition to other things that I already knew I experienced, but didn't have the right terms to express: we have an "interest-based nervous system" which doesn't respond to regular incentives (importance, priority-based) and "emotional hyperarousal" -- oh, yes! The feelings of frustration when something goes wrong are HORRIBLE and physically overwhelming and just don't go away! Pretty much ever! (I mean... after a long while they get better). 

In any case. I had to read them and for a few moments there I nearly died (and began writing a desperate blog post which I didn't finish), but then I continued reading the next day and I got over the few negative comments. Most are great and very kind! YAY!!!

So, yeah... that's what's been going on. There are other things I need to blog about -- upcoming trip to LA, I'm singing in a choir again!, my parents coming in the summer, my brother abroad... and more that I can't remember now. I hope to be back soon!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Blogging and Motherhood - or When Heather Armstrong Made Me Cry (back in 2008)

WOW... This post took nearly TEN YEARS to see the light of day, how crazy is that?!? I thought of it in May of 2008, began to write it in February of 2009, went back to it in 2015 and will finally publish it now in 2018. I'm doing it now because Heather quoted her words to Leta on Instagram this past week when Leta turned 14 (my younger son L will also be 14 in May!).

Written on May 7, 2015: Heather Armstrong announced two weeks ago that she's "moving on" to other projects after blogging for so many years at Dooce and that prompted me to unearth this post that had been sitting in my drafts folder since February 24, 2009! Six years and two months later, the world is different and the post is probably slightly outdated, but I stand by my words and my feelings and I'm going to finally publish it.

I've wanted to write a post about this since last May [May 2008] when Dooce wrote a post that made me cry. She wrote to her daughter (Newsletter months 50 & 51), justifying the fact that she had not posted the her usual monthly newsletter in April:
But I guess there are some people who are very uncomfortable with the fact that I and many other women are writing about our children on our websites. How dare we violate your privacy like this, how dare we endanger you like this [. . .]. And I have been asked countless times if I am at all worried that you will totally resent me for the details I have shared here. Of course you will you resent me. I have no doubt that you will spend years of your life resenting me and being embarrassed that we have the same last name, despite the fact that I have and will spend years of my life writing love letters to you on the Internet. Despite the fact that I have declared to millions of people that you are the most amazing thing that has ever happened to my life.
This is part and parcel of being a parent, right?
(and she goes on to detail some of the ways in which her daughter will resent her)
Will you resent me for this website? Absolutely. And I have spent hours and days and months of my life considering this, weighing your resentment against the good that can come from being open and honest about what it's like to be your mother, the good for you, the good for me, and the good for other women who read what I write here and walk away feeling less alone.
And what she wrote next had me crying really hard when I read it:
And I have every reason to believe that one day you will look at the thousands of pages I have written about my love for you, the thousands of pages other women have written about their own children, and you're going to be so proud that we were brave enough to do this. We are an army of educated mothers who have finally stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard, frustrating work and we're not going to sit around on our hands waiting for permission to do so. We have declared that our voices matter. [emphasis mine]
And I have tears in my eyes again when I read the end of the last paragraph (I cry every time I read the lines above and the next ones):
Leta, some people will one day try to convince you that what I've done here is some sort of sickening betrayal of your childhood, and what those people fail to recognize is that I am doing the exact opposite. This is the glorification of your childhood, and even more than that this is a community of women coming together to make each other feel less alone. You are a part of this movement, you and all of the other kids whose mothers are sitting at home right now writing tirelessly about their experiences as mothers, the love and frustration and madness of it all. And I think one day you will look at all of this and pump your fist in the air.
YEAH!! I said, YEAH! Amen sister!

I hope Kelvin and L can virtually join Leta one day in celebrating the fact that their mothers were proud to share their voices with the world. No matter how insignificant the audience (mine) or how huge (Heather's and several other famous mommy bloggers out there).
 ~   ~       ~  ~      ~   ~
And that's where my post written on September 2008 & February 2009 ends.

Since then, Heather went on to publish her newsletters to Leta in book form, which Leta later read. I simply loved her reaction, assuming that the letters would continue to be written. I'm sure she loved it, but of course, she couldn't react as enthusiastically as the post above foresees (a pump fist in the air would be more fitting for Marlo). (I'm too tired now to go look to for the post about Leta readint the book and link to it, maybe later).

Over my ten years blogging, in spite of my very "mommy blog" name, I have blogged way less than Heather about my sons. In fact, my 13 year old sometimes complains that I'm not blogging about him enough -- he enjoys reading my posts about him. On the other hand, his 10 year old brother does NOT want to be blogged about so I try my best not to do it (but have done it a few times this year, sometimes I just can't resist!).

I love blogging, though, and the friends I've made through blogging, that's why...  (? maybe why I still blog?)
 ~   ~       ~  ~      ~   ~
That's where I stopped back in 2015. I'm still blogging, even though most of the friends I've made through blogging have moved on and now I spend lots of time on (stupid) facebook so I can keep up with my old blogging friends. 

In any case, I am DELIGHTED that Heather is blogging again, and on Instagram & Facebook. Her voice is really important and has inspired so many of us over the years. I am glad that she has continued to blog in spite of the horrible people who have harassed her endlessly online. I hope she reads this post! (and while you're at it you can read about when my son asked whether Marlo was his cousin).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The worst or the best moment to become a citizen?

So, yeah...

Our citizenship interview is scheduled for Thursday. I didn't really blog about this, I only mentioned it in passing in one of the 2018 posts. We got the letters for the appointments when we came back on  12/31.

Sigh... my brothers-in-law are joking that now we're going to have that man's signature on our citizenship certificate. :-( Serves us well for waiting for so long, right? Maybe it is the best moment to become a citizen, though. I can't wait to vote!! 

I'll let you know how it goes. After they interview they have to schedule our swearing in ceremony. I won't be celebrating this event, it's just one more rite of passage in our lives as accidental immigrants (whoa, when I wrote that post in 2009, we had been here only 13 years. Now it's been 21.5!).

My apologies for not being in a good mood today, but I hardly ever am when I talk about this whole process, particularly the fact we have to promise to bear arms. I guess I'm ok with the pledging allegiance part, somewhat.

In any case, wish us luck. I'm hoping it won't take too long. My friend from Belize said she had to wait FOUR HOURS to be called for her interview. That would be awful! I'll report back.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

From Summer to Winter — Bedding edition ;-)

This is one of the things I did on January first. It was/is so cold this year that even though I adore our two year old Spring & Summer bedding (and didn't do the switch last year because of that very reason), I decided to change it to our heavier winter one and I also swapped the thin comforter we had under the duvet by a down one. I also have winter curtains, so I changed those too.

Pardon my messy bedroom (later that week I cleaned the clutter next to the window. I'm still working on the stuff on the other side (my side of the bed):
The Spring/Summer bed:
When I bought this duvet cover (which I found "accidentally" browsing something on Kohl's website, but then bought it elsewhere because it was cheaper) I already had those decals* on the wall, but don't they match perfectly? I LOVE botanicals and I truly adore this duvet cover. *most of which I got at Target, some from IKEA and online.
The Winter version:
This bedding is the one I purchased (at JC Penney! On clearance!) because the comforter/bedspread we had at the other house (photo here, third photo from the end) didn't match the sage green of the walls -- it is now used inside the "summer" duvet cover!

And... I made a quick time-lapse of the whole thing. The music is the introduction to Ivan Lins' "Formigueiro" (ant-house). I had a lot of fun adding the music. I will start playing more with videos, now that I have a phone that takes great photos and video.
from summer to winter from Mama(e) in Translation on Vimeo.

Last Day/ First Day

"Yesterday"  (meaning Tuesday, 1/16, I'm still awake, so it's still Wednesday for me) was my last day of the winter break, so I spent extra time in bed after dropping off my son at school at 8:50 am, which led to a spectacular parenting "fail."

I never thought I'd sleep until the home phone* rang at 11:55 am with my son asking me whether I was going to bring him lunch. I had not only silenced my cell phone, but also turned off vibrate when I started getting too many texts from a group of friends in the early morning, but I thought I'd wake up at 11:30... I never put the alarm (which surprised him).

My 15 year old was very understanding. He patiently listened to me getting up, heading to the kitchen and frantically telling him the options for food (frozen Indian or lasagna? No. A sandwich? "You? No!" [apparently only daddy makes good sandwiches], until I said, "Well, what about veggie dogs?"  "If you have hot dog buns, then yes, why didn't you mention that earlier?" Luckily I DID have the buns and I didn't mention that earlier because I hadn't thought of it yet, DUH! I kept asking what else he wanted and he was very nice about it, "Just put mayo on the bread, mom. How long is it going to take?" Said he with a quiet voice that implied a bit of impatience. "Ten minutes, max!" I barely had enough mayo for the three hot dogs, but I thawed some home made tomato sauce to season it (in Brazil we cook the hot dogs on a type of marinara sauce, for big parties they are actually thinly sliced, when cooking for the whole family I just slice them lengthwise so they'll go farther, but I put three whole ones for Kelv).

When I said to him what a big failure I'd been he only chuckled and thanked me for the food. I love that kid! I went back home, put a load of clothes in the wash (laundry has been pretty intense this early January -- too much stuff piled up from December and I'm not done with all the bed linens yet), then later I drove to town -- my first trip pretty much since before Christmas (I did take my son to buy a backpack the day before school, but that was it!) and I was only able to stay for an hour and a half (went to Costco & Target) because I needed to pick up the boys at 5.

I didn't work on my syllabus until late in the evening, but I wasn't worried, since I only needed to make some small changes.

The other "fail" for this first day was the snow that never came, so there was no snow day as my son so wanted and secretly me too! ;-) I had to drive on very light snow during my last 20 minutes of the drive and I thought I'd missed the bus, but I hadn't, the app was just weird.

It was a roller coaster of a day... I won't go into details, but I was upset and stressed that 16 of the 45 students I had last semester didn't register for this semester's sequel class. Then, I had an unexpected and unexpectedly good meeting with my colleague and spent hours writing some emails and trying to leave. I didn't leave until past 5 pm. I stopped at a bunch of stores along the way and only got home close to 9 pm! I still cooked some pasta for the boys and got them to go to bed because K had to stay late at the university.

Yeah... this sounds like a typical "first day" to me! Working is wholesome. Yeah... I don't know what else to say about that now. Hopefully it will get better someday... I hope it'll be a good semester. In spite of the lower number of students. I have a feeling it will be!

*yes, we still have a "home phone" line -- it's a VOIP & we pay 6 dollars a month for the line. I can no longer call 60+ countries (we paid 39 for that for years), but I'm using Google voice to call my parents. I still like to have a phone line, and for 6 a month, I don't think it's bad.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Goodbye Spring-Summer Look, Hello Fall-Winter! (Living-Room edition)

I wrote most of this post on 10/2, but only managed to upload the photos on 11/23/17 & 1/15/18!
This post is almost two months overdue!
I changed some of the pillows in my couches back on October 2nd (here's a post from 2012 showing in detail how I came to finally settle on my "summer" pillows). It is a subtle change for the sofa (the solid ones stay). Maybe I'll buy more pillows to change looks 3 or 4 times a year... we'll see! My oldest son hates the cold season pillows because they are filled with pesky feathers... sigh. What could I do? It would be horribly time consuming to open the seams to remove the inner pillows and replace them. (Cheesy humor ahead: see, this is literally a "fluffy" post) ;-P
 Good-bye Spring-Summer look:
Hello Fall-Winter:

A lot of the decorations in my house involve several shades of my most favorite color: aqua green, teal, or turquoise. And also brown because I love brown, and lots of different shades of green because green is my favorite. I need to post more photos of the house sometime! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Family Internationalization - 2018 Update

Eleven and a half years ago in 2006, I documented our family's "internationalization" on the blog when my brother moved to China and K's uncle to South Africa. I think that a more catchy title would have been "Our Family Goes Global!"

A year later, in May 2017, I added part 2, about Klebert's second brother K3 (third out of four) moving from TX to Turkey to teach in an International School. In Feb. 2008, while we and K2 were in the process to get our residency, we found out K4, the youngest brother would be emigrating to Canada and a month later it was confirmed that my brother was moving from China to New Zealand! (we never got to visit either place, but in three years my brother may be back in NZ for good).

I only blogged this briefly and in retrospect, but in 2009, the year K4 moved from Brazil to Canada, my in-laws were forced by circumstances to move back from the U.S. to Brazil (long frustrating story). Fortunately, in the same year K3 moved from Turkey to Brazil to teach in an international school and there he remained until 2014 --  it was very nice for my in-laws to have a son and his family, particularly the young grandchildren, close by. (I don't know the exact years, but K's uncle moved from South Africa to Mozambique for a few years, then came back to the U.S.).

In August 2013, to the great joy of my parents, my brother moved back from NZ to Brazil with my 1.5 year old nephew and 3 month old newborn daughter. Then, in March 2014, K2 and his family moved to Egypt (they moved back to the U.S. last year in August, not because they wanted to, but because of my BIL's reoccurring cancer) and not too long after their uncle moved to Tunisia.

In 2015 I wrote a quick post to report about the uncle and say that my brother had gone back to Brazil, but I think I never mentioned in the blog that in August of that year, K3 and his family moved from Brazil to Qatar to continue teaching at an international school. (I did say that back in October '17 when I blogged about our thwarted travel plans  and the events that didn't allow us to spend Christmas with them in the Middle East this year).

All this to share two very exciting pieces of news:
  • My brother (it's his 44th birthday today!!) and his family JUST MOVED to Indonesia! They left Brazil a week ago today and have been in their new house for two days only. He is going to work for a large paper company named April
  • This summer, K's brother K3 and family will relocate from Qatar to South Korea and they are very excited to work at an amazing school there.  
My parents are understandably broken-hearted, particularly because my nephew and niece are only 5 and 3 years old and they lived in Brazil for the past 4.5 years. I am quite worried about my parents, but that's the subject for another post. Maybe we'll visit my brother in Indonesia and we are really excited about the prospect of visiting South Korea! Maybe I should create a tag/label for all these posts and call it Global Family or something. ;-)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Retroactive Blogging or 17/71

Written last week on 1/4:
It's not about the 77 posts, it's more about getting posts from last year out of the drafts folder and still in the last year, and also other New Year's Eve related posts that don't belong here in January.

So I will do some retroactive blogging in the next day or two, without any guilt because it's my blog, my life, etc.

I also want to write some more New Year minded posts before it's too late.
OK, so in the end I only wrote three posts (on 1/9) and because 71 is 17 backwards I think those to posts are enough!

The first is a list of things that were kind of new/unique in 2017 -- my apologies if the post is a tad negative. Sigh...

The second was also a list (yeah, I know, I'm way too much into lists and looking at the past and figuring out what happened every year) of the family reunion holidays since I started blogging THIRTEEN YEARS ago! :-)

And the third is a list (with brief commentary) of all the films I watched this summer -- most were Marvel!

Yeah, so there you go, I hope you enjoy my "retroactive" posts. ;-P

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

In 2018...

... I hope no one in our family dies (first thing I wrote back in Dec. 2016). Thankfully nobody did in 2017, unlike 2016. I think this will be a standard wish every year now. And I know that people will die at some point. :-(

... I hope any health challenges family members experience won't be too overwhelming and life-threatening.

... I will get politically involved to help elect Democrats locally. I hope the Dems take the house in November.

... we may become citizens. And maybe I will be able to vote!!!

... my youngest will graduate 8th grade and start high school. I hope he won't suffer much from anxiety in this transition.

... my parents will come for an extended visit. I hope they are healthy. We may travel with them to either Canada or maybe to Asia (more on that later).

... I hope my brother's family will have an OK transition in their big move (which deserves its own post).

... I have to undergo a review in my job. I hope and pray it goes well and my contract is renewed.

... we will see all of K's family again in July. I hope all goes well. My brother is supposed to come for Christmas and I am looking forward to that long overdue visit.

... I hope against hope that things won't get worse with that man in the White House, but I dare not hope too much, because I know it can get worse very fast. :-(

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!

Yeah... I never got to post and reach my goal of 77 posts in 2017. So lame!


We left the rental house past 11 am, and since we had to stop by the airport to pick up our other car that K's brother "K3" had left there as they went back home to Qatar, we decided to stop for lunch on the way at our new favorite fast food place: Blaze Pizza. We actually invited K2 and his family to join us, so we had a few more moments together with them.

Then we picked up the other car, stopped at Trader Joe's and Aldi to do some grocery shopping and didn't get home until past 7 pm. I did my best to cook a relatively ok New Year's Eve meal and then... we decided to end the year watching a movie with our oldest son -- Batman Begins. It ended shortly before midnight and we saw the stupid ball drop.

It was then I realized I hadn't blogged. oh well!

The truth is that I don't really like my work laptop. I didn't want a Mac, so I went for a PC (Dell) and it turns out that I cannot install or update ANYTHING because I don't have administrator privileges! SO USELESS! My brother said it was the same thing with him, so I don't feel that awful anymore, but if I knew this, even though I have come to dislike Mac laptops (I am still 100% in love with the iMac I have on my desk at work and which will be removed at some point, since I have the laptop).

Anyway... I don't like laptops and wish I could use our home's desktop instead, but our son, the gamer, is always on it.

I will try to post the pending 2017 posts tomorrow. Perhaps "cheating" on the date (as I am with this one, publishing one hour earlier than the actual time).

Happy New Year!