domingo, dezembro 28, 2008

For your amusement.
Am I on vacation? It sure seems like it. So far I have completed two sewing projects, made more than 6 dozen sugar cookies shaped like stars, made pizza twice, bread sticks, soups, created a ginger molasses chicken dish (to be eaten tomorrow, we'll see how that turns out), made Christmas ornaments for the tree with Ju, started beading some bead strings for the tree, gone to the beach, had a churrasco, gone to the mall on several occasions, gone sailing, lost my glasses in the ocean while sailing, got new glasses (Brand name is Detroit, who knew?), cleaned the floors several times, but have yet to do laundry. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I WILL do the laundry.

domingo, dezembro 14, 2008

Sorry for the long absence. My MA course took over my life and I only recently escaped.

So news in the life in Brasil department in brief:

Was briefly sued for racism by one of the student's mothers because I asked her to talk to her daughter at home about not trying to take home toys from school in her backpack after one of my assistants caught her in the act of putting some of them in her backpack. After three weeks of limbo, the mother went back to the police station and stated she would not pursue the charge (under the threat of the father who said he would stop paying for the kids' school if she did), but has not gone back to sign any papers to that effect so the case remains open. I have since had a long talk with this mother and become somewhat of an ally (or maybe that's my misconception, I don't know) to her and am trying to help her family open up the lines of communication. I don't know why I end up with these irrational acting people as parents of my students. Our population seems to be over run with them.

Bought new washing machine because ours was filling the kitchen with water every time we ran it. Two weeks later canceled the order with Ricardo Electro because they failed to deliver it in the time they said they would (in 48 hours), and then bought the machine instead with Laser Electrico who we always buy from and we should get it on Monday. Ricardo tried to give us a different one (better) for the same price as we had been in and out of the store several times to inquire about why it had not been delivered, but we canceled anyway because we would rather not they get any money. About time since we have had no way to wash clothes for more than two weeks and Ju just got over this vomiting fever thing.

Everyone at school and here at home has had this fever thing, sometimes with vomiting, and sore throat. Ju's class had only half attendance the week before he got it because it seems to be so contagious. I have it now, it's not fun, but I prefer to have fevers and let my body do my thing if I can stand it.

One of my best friends in Brasil has moved back to Salvador, but isn't sure she is going to stay here. I am glad to have her back in my life though and have spent a lot of time with her over the last several weeks.

One of my other best friends in Brasil has returned from her semi-hiatus when she was too busy with work and we have gotten together to chat and hang out and it has been awesome. It's only now that I realize how much I missed having really real friends who are my friends because we have similar spirits and love each other rather than that we were thrown together because of circumstance or because we fell like we "should" be friends. Maybe this is why people outside of their culture often turn to religion and become so involved with people from their church. Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass.

School is almost over, just one more week before we have a whole month off of vacation. I am looking forward to catching up on my art work, playing with my sewing machine, and then having my mom visit in January, when I will finally get to go to Chapada.

Ju's kittens are growing fast and continue to be tolerant and take nearly everything he can dish out at them. They have recently gotten into the habit of unplugging my alarm clock and I hope they don't make me miss my transport to work in the last week of class. They also defy gravity, hang from the window nets, and steal everything, even lipstick from my purse, and turn it into a toy. They are like dogs and eat everything too, eggs, bread, fruit, juice; your plate is not safe anymore.

I have yet to do any Xmas shopping at all.

And this concludes another news brief.

domingo, novembro 09, 2008

Today, after more than 4 years of living in Brasil and swimming in some not so clean ocean waters, I was stung by a jellyfish. It made my whole arm hurt and left a line of welts in both places that it touched me. I have always been anxious about jellyfish, I suppose from having read somewhere that there are some that the venom can kill you. Now that I've gotten that hurtle out of the way, I suppose I can move onto bigger and better things like venomous snakes or something.

domingo, novembro 02, 2008

While giving Ju a shower the other night, he began making some really strange sounds that reminded me of his language about a year ago when he would sound a bit like he was speaking Japanese. He would make all kinds of phonemes from both English and Portuguese, having long "conversations" with his toys while he was playing, never sounding like he was speaking either language. When he suddenly began making these sounds again, I asked him

"What language is that? It doesn't sound like English and it doesn't sound like Portuguese. What language are you speaking?"

"I'm speaking 'ingrés'!"


"Uh huh, ingrés."

I suspect this may be something along the lines of "English spoken by friends at school who say things in a different way and call it ingrés" but I can't be sure. Some sore of weird 3 year old interlanguage.
"What's this for doing?"

domingo, outubro 26, 2008

One of the consequences of where I work is that we get to know some rather influential (i.e. rich and connected) people here in Bahia. For the most part the relationships aren't life changing, but once in a while you meet some really nice people who you wouldn't have rubbed elbows with otherwise and you remember that the rich are people too.

We spent the afternoon with some of these people, discussed politics (well, my husband did, I just sat there and listened), ate crab, and swam in the pool. This particular couple are very special people and genuinely nice, even if they do vote with the right.

Today part of the discussion turned to the French champagne we were drinking. Apparently it is impossible to buy in Brasil anymore because they bought the whole stock and the importer has not been able to get anymore into the country. Specifically, some of the conversation went something like this:

(bottle comes out and is poured for us at the table by the pool and another guest remarks)

"Oh, wow, where did you get this? Have you been saving this for Bob?" (Bob is another guest)

"Oh, no, there are only about five bottles left. It's a crisis, really. They haven't gotten anymore."

"Yes, you don't find this in Brasil anymore. What will we do with this crisis? It really is terrible."

I wasn't really paying that much attention to this conversation until the woman said something about "this crisis" and then I sort of perked up, thinking maybe she was referring to the global economic situation and feeling I could finally contribute to the conversation. I admit that sometimes when I really miss things from the States they are often edible, but I'm not sure I'd call a lack of French champagne a crisis. It really is a different world when you have enough money to create a certain level of lifestyle. I'm just happy if I can get Granny Smiths of decent quality and some nice mint chocolate.

domingo, outubro 19, 2008

Our next module of the MA has been postponed. Apparently the professor's passport with the Brasilian visa stamped in it has gone missing in the mail. Some how this had to happen to someone somewhere along the way in this process. It's such a typical story in this kind of situation, one that I myself experienced during my preparations to move down here. Documents getting lost in the mail. Se la vi! This is why I liked that extra chore of driving to Chicago back in the day. My paranoia got the better of me. I'm feeling rather indifferent to the fact that I have an extra two weeks to accomplish the homework and finish reading the last chapter of the book. Life goes on. It's just adding to my procrastination habit.

domingo, outubro 12, 2008

Ju singing this morning: "Down by the station really in the morning, see the puffy little engines all in a go. You can see the puffy little engines there all in a go."

sábado, outubro 11, 2008

"Mommy, do the nose!"

(I squeeze his nose hidden under a cloth he has over his face)

"and the mouth."

(I comply)

"and the eye"

(I comply)

"and the testa"

"The forehead?" (I say as I comply)

"No, it's not a forehead."

"The testa is a forehead." (I touch his forehead again)

"No, it's not a forehead. There's no four there."

terça-feira, outubro 07, 2008

About 3 years ago, I made a large flower out of wire for no apparent reason. It consists of a large hollow ball shaped out of colored wire and large petals in 2D. It has floated all over our house and finally found a nice home attached to a random nail in the upper corner of the window box area outside Ju's room in January of last year.

Today I noticed there was a bird right on the net first thing in the morning. Ju and watched if for a while until it flew away. We noticed it was stealing the grass of an old nest in the pitanga tree outside the window.

Just now I went to open the window to refresh the room before Ju goes to bed and a bird seemed to be confused, trapped in the upper area, trying to escape this surprise. I glanced out the window and saw this:

Said bird has decided this is a great place for a nest. It would be too, as long as Lela doesn't figure out whats up there. I think I may have discouraged the poor thing from coming back though, by scaring it so much opening the window like that "BANG." Let's cross our fingers that it comes back. It's a really great use for this previously useless flower.

domingo, outubro 05, 2008

Some other interesting Ju words:

"In-dentro" - a mix of English "in" and Portuguese for the same word "adentro"

"Oh-ni-buhs" - a mix of English "bus" and Portuguese for the same word "Onibus" (last u pronounced as a long oooo)

sábado, outubro 04, 2008

Play with Ju today, we built a "cake" out of the pillows on our bed. Then we had the following conversation. (for those who don't speak Portuguese: molhado is "wet" and melando is "dirtying")

(I am laying across all the pillows)

"Okay, mommy is going to take a nap now. Want to nap with me?"

"No, it's a cake. You are mollando."

"I'm getting molhado from the cake?"

"No, the cake is mollando you!"

"Oh, the cake is melando me?"

"Yes, the cake is mallando you! Get off the cake!"

"I'm stuck. I can't get off"

"I'm going to shave you off the cake." (Ju then proceeds to make a buzzing noise with his lips and "shave" me with his fist. I think he got this idea from the "shave the sheep" circle game that he did during the Mary had a Little Lamb unit. Eventually I get up off the pillows and the game is over.)

terça-feira, setembro 30, 2008

Too many things to do.

terça-feira, setembro 23, 2008

Is this for real?

Nope, it's not.

domingo, setembro 21, 2008


(who left this cup on juice here to spill?, why are cars everywhere?)
"It didn was me!"

(it's time for bed, go sit down, put away that toy)
"No! I don't!"

Do all English speaking kids say these things, or is it a bilingual thing?

segunda-feira, setembro 15, 2008

Ona-key passed away in the early hours of this morning.

sábado, setembro 13, 2008

There is playdough of various types all over my house. Little bits and pieces that Ju has used for all kinds of things - stamping cars in it, making it into "food" on his play stove... Now he has discovered that the nice wooden letter and number stamps make very clear marks in it when he squishes it onto the floor in front of the T.V.

"Mommy, look, they're sliding."

"Oh Ju, everything is going to get massinha all over it."

"It's alright mommy, we can wash it."

He is also trying to figure out death, since we watched "Thomasina" and the main character, a cat, dies and then comes back to life. It's hard to grasp this concept, since kids this age have to experience things to understand them. He has been making comments like "My mouth is dead. It won't eat." or "The spider is dead" (his hand is frequently a spider that gets into mischief all over) as his hand lays palm up on the table, motionless, and then "It's alive again!" as it moves. Many times in the past, he used to say something didn't have a "pila" (battery) when it wasn't working ("my mouth don't have a pila!") and these associations are now linked with death - something not moving means it's dead. From the perspective of a three year old, I'm not sure it can get much clearer than that. Maybe he will get the idea, finally, when we have to take Ona-key to the vet later this week, although she hardly moves now.

sexta-feira, setembro 12, 2008

The Ona-key saga continues - she now has two open wounds on her left paw that have been open wounds for almost a month now, and today the other paw opened up. She now has a huge bandaged on each of her front feet. Today, while trying to wash her again (as she only sleeps in her own pee, it's become quite a frequent event), she bit me. It wasn't a malicious bite I am sure, just a reaction to being sprayed with the hose in the shower, which I am sure she doesn't like much. It's not very deep either and considering I was in the shower at the time and was able to wash it immediately, I doubt there is much risk of infection. When I came back down with my ring finger bandaged, I told Ju that Ona-key had bitten me, to which he replied "I'm angry with the Ona-key. She did a coisa fea!" and folded his arms to show his mood. I explained to him that she didn't mean to bite me, that it was because she feels sick and doesn't like to get wet, but he still insists he is angry with her. I'm surprised he didn't say she had to go into time out or something. I can't help but feel happy at his anger about an injustice done to mommy, despite the cat not deserving it. It is cute.

segunda-feira, setembro 01, 2008

Ho hum, four of my students have come down with chicken pox so far. Poor things. I may have caused an epidemic, at least in my class it seems. This means mountains of paper work for our poor nurse and my superintendent is freaking out, not to mention my principal.

My mother had told me over the weekend that she thought I had shingles. This just goes to show me I should always listen to my mother when it comes to stuff with my health. She's generally on the ball, even if she is 4,000 miles away.

domingo, agosto 31, 2008

My quarantine is over and I have been back at work. It's always fun to sit around at home and have me time, but it's horribly boring when you can't leave the house. During my stint as a couch resident I found I was often cold in the morning, so I took up drinking a lot of tea (also because I some how had it in my head that I would expel the virus from my system faster if I kept trying to fill myself with liquids). I went through most of our supply in a matter of a week and went to restock today while we went grocery shopping. I came across one called "Misto" that has apple, caju, something or another of rose and a few other things. It's quite good, slightly sweet, and strong. Sweet is important because I discovered somewhere in the last 4 years of living here, I have stopped liking my tea with sugar (except when it's Earl Grey with milk), lest I put a tad too much in and kill the flavor of the tea.

The DI season is about to start - will I handle it better than last year? I sure hope so - if the first week of school / traveling back from the states with 300 lbs of luggage hadn't given me a shingles attack, DI certainly would have.

terça-feira, agosto 19, 2008

Yes, indeed, I have shingles. Now I am stuck at home for 7 days taking antivirals, B vitamins, putting compresses on my back.... I hate not working. On the upside, I'll now have lots of time to do all that reading for my MA, which thank goodness I am not even behind in yet! However it remains to be seen if all the adults in my class have had chicken pox yet, and if they have not, then I will probably not be able to complete the course. Being out the money for the course, plus for medicine, plus not knowing what is going on in my classroom for a whole week - ug I hate this!

segunda-feira, agosto 18, 2008

I started itching last Wednesday. Just a typical itchy spot. Then it got redder. Then it got bigger. Then it got little blisters. Then it spread to other points on my back. Then some of the blisters turn red and scabby and really gross looking. It started to burn and pulse painfully. I spent most of Sunday trying to dry out the blisters with a salt paste and got salt all over the house as a consequence. Now tomorrow morning I am going to try to emergency squeeze myself in between some patients at the dermatologist to see if what ever this is is 1) contagious and 2) something that can be treated. I'm a little more concerned about #1 right now, since it looks distinctly like Chicken Pox. But I had chicken pox when I was like... 5 or something. I still have the scars. I remember it, sort of. I was already at work for 2 weeks, 3 days worth of it itching - I hope none of my kids get it.

In other news, I have just returned from my first MA course, to be completed in the next two weeks. I have to type discussion notes for two chapters and read an additional article by tomorrow. I'm glad I at least already read the chapters - that helps.

domingo, agosto 10, 2008

I'm alive, back in Brasil. School has begun again and next week I start my MA in Education. I promise someday I'll actually write a post about life, just not today.

quinta-feira, julho 17, 2008

Ju-speak has gotten pretty good since we have been here - he is even able to respond to questions about the past - what did you eat for dinner, what did you play with... He also is telling me things about the past without provocation - in reference to the bear on his toothpaste tube "I watch this with Neta in my home" and in reference to a robin in the tree "I have a this in my Brasil" (he has a bird stuffed animal that is NOT a robin, but it is mostly black and yellow, which I suppose looks like similar colors to what we are looking at here).

Today we were swimming in the pool and I was trying to get him to try to touch the bottom on his own. Usually I have to grab him and shove him under because he doesn't know how to dive and go DOWN, just under a bit. I was telling him to just jump off the steps and point his feet so he'd go down and bounce off the bottom and he said "No! I don't have a pilla! Forget it!" ("pilla" is Ju-speak for "pilha" - battery). We also witnessed a bird flying into the window and breaking it's neck, so we buried it and had a little bird funeral. Yes, this is how I spent my childhood too.

We have spent our days hanging out in our pajamas until we feel like going in the pool and then spending time in our bathing suits until we feel like having lunch and then maybe showering and maybe going out to visit people when they get out of work at 5 or 6. There really is something to be said for spending your days doing NOTHING.

terça-feira, julho 08, 2008

I wasn't really intending to post while in Michigan. I have hardly been online and haven't been keeping up with any other blogs or forums or anything I normally browse. Today Ju and I were to head up north. My mom has rented a cabin up there and we were going to spend the rest of the week up there, walking in the woods, going to nature centers and basking in the wilderness that is the U.P. We were supposed to leave yesterday, but some storms came in and I wasn't all that hot about driving in them, so I put it off a day. Everything was packed and ready to go. We started off and merged on to the highway and came upon a semi-truck in the right lane. I went into the left lane to pass it and in the split second I took my hair down and glance back at it, it had veered a bit into our lane. I swerved to not hit it and the truck started to fish tail. I have never fishtailed in this truck and I think I was over correcting for the center of gravity. I lost control and hit the brakes and turned the wheel. We started to turn around and I saw we were going to crash as it happened and yelled to Ju to hang on tight. We did a 180 in the median and tipped on our side, sliding about 50 feet, and came to rest on the incline towards the on coming traffic, which managed to tip us up right.

I saw the mirror come off as we slid backwards. I have no idea how I managed to keep my eyes open, but I watched the whole thing. We were lucky that we didn't roll over and over - going about 70 at the time we started fish tailing, that was what was most likely to happen apparently. I have to credit Christopher with the innate reaction to turn the wheel and hit the brakes to do a 180, which is what probably slowed the car and kept it out of oncoming traffic. We didn't even have any airbags deploy. I was still holding the wheel when we stopped and Ju still had his bagel in his hand. I turned around and asked if he was okay, and he said yes. I asked if he was scared and he said yes. "But are you okay?" "yes." Shortly after he finished eating his bagel while a nice man who stopped in the side of the highway called my dad on his cell phone and he told us to drive to a nearby supermarket to wait for him. The car still drove fine and I put it in 4 wheel drive to get out of the ditch, did a U-turn, and then a cop came so I stayed to talk to him before we both drove to the supermarket to wait for my dad.

The cop was very nice and talked to Ju and showed him the siren and the flashing lights. Ju was fine and very interested in the car and everything the cop said to him. After about 20 minutes, my dad showed up and we talked to the cop a while longer, he finished his report and told me that I would not have a ticket (thank goodness) and that if the car was driving, we might as well take it on home and deal with the insurance. It is now at a body shop in the village and I won't see it again before I leave. It needs 3 new panels, painting, some balancing and a new mirror. Still waiting on the estimate.

I still am amazed at how calm I am through this kind of thing. It was the same way when Ju got his stitches - my husband was freaking out and I was talking calmly to him, trying to make normal conversation. This was the same way; I as able to calmly explain what happened, tell details, remember reactions, and I think that cool reaction helped Ju to not seem to be freaked out at all. He didn't even cry, whine, or anything. He just kept eating like nothing had happened.

The thing that sticks out in this whole mess is the background feeling I had this whole time about something not being right with this trip. I was tense about the directions, where I should go, maps, GPS, the route, getting lost... If I hadn't been going up there to be with my mom, I would not have decided to make a drive like that on this trip, alone, with Ju. I have been really tense about it. The universe/God sends signs about this stuff, energies, feelings... If you don't follow them, you see what happens. This trip was apparently not meant to be for me this time around. I am supposed to stay close to home. So here I sit, no car, lots of food that I bought for up north, watching T.V. with Ju and walking around outside. There is something to be said for down time.

domingo, junho 22, 2008

Last night we went to a Bobby Mcfarrin concert. I have to admit, when my husband said "we're going" to this concert, the night before I leave to visit the USA for a month, I wasn't all that thrilled. Yes, it was a late night and I am going to be extremely tired on the plane, but WHAT a concert! It was awesome! If you've never been and have the opportunity, do so - well worth the money. Our seats were in the 3rd row and people were invited to the stage to participate and he had local musicians up to sort of jam with him... I would go again in a second.

Now, I am off to the airport, flying to the USA. Not sure how often I'll post in the month I am there, just because I will be busy visiting people, but really what would I post about visiting the States when this blog is about me being in Brasil? Not that you could tell much about Brasil from this blog anyway, since it lately has become more about Ju. In anycase, it won't be much worse than my average one post a month I'm doing at this point. Not really.

terça-feira, junho 10, 2008

Last night we went to the birthday party of one of my students. Kids birthdays here are often in "kid's buffets" where you can rent out the place for the evening for a certain price, have your choice of foods to munch on, pop, beer, etc. The places are decked out with big climbing toys, small time rides, ball pits, and video games (think Chuck-E-Cheeses but imagine you could rent the whole place and not have to help pay the bill at the end if you are a guest). It's usually a good time, the kids are reasonable safe (at least, usually one brings the nanny or the maid to keep an eye on them so you can socialize - I am not one of these people, however) and they get really really tired and totally crash at the end, which is nice.

So last night's birthday was at one of the venues near my house, so I could walk there with Ju without too much worry. I didn't take a purse or any valuables, as we would be coming back at 8 pm in the dark by ourselves. All I took was my key chain with the house keys. When we arrived, as it was a closed building, I parked my keys on a table out of the way of the main adult's area and followed Ju around as he played. About an hour later, I saw one of the guys who worked for the venue walking around swinging my keys, so I chased after him to claim them back. He told me he thought they belonged to the owner of the place. Whatever. I took them and left them on a bench near where Ju was playing. At the end of the night, they were still there and we got a quick ride home from a mom and that was that.

I didn't even think much about it until today when I got home and went to unlock my door again that I noticed the key chain was lighter. I used to have a small collection of key chains - a Korean mask given to me by an ESL student, a key chain I got as the end of year gift from The Impact (the radio station I worked for in college), a DI key chain I bought in Rio in March, a US Rowing rope, and a self defense tool that Ju thinks is a pen but is actually stolid steel that you can jab into the side of someone who tries to bother you (or where ever you want to jab it). After closer inspection of my key chain, I saw The Impact one was missing. My house keys had been on there. My house keys were now clipped into the belt loop clip of my DI key chain.

I am rather sad because it was a sentimental gift that was stolen, but still you can't help but appreciate the consideration of whoever stole it; they took the time to take BOTH my house keys off the and make sure they remained with the the rest by clipping them in. This is one of the nice things about Brasil - even the thieves are considerate like this much of the time. I hope who ever took it is happy with it, since it was a heavy duty thing and good quality. I took it as a sign that it was time to let go of all that clutter and I am now down to my DI key chain, the rope and the "pen." If I ever happen upon it out in the world, however unlikely, I might say something to the possessor, but I would not ask for it back.

quarta-feira, junho 04, 2008

I spend a small amount of time everyday thinking about how different Ju's childhood is from mine. And probably how completely different it is from my husband's as well. Culture is such a big deal, traditions... everything is all mixed up in this house. It's like a 3rd culture is being created right here. I wonder how much impact it will have on him later in life. Will he want to move to the States? Go to college there? Will he look fondly back on his childhood in Brasil and remember when he could swim naked in public or pee in the bushes and everyone would laugh, or will he lament that we didn't have the money or access to go to things like theme parks and libraries (well maybe that last one is my own personal lament based on my childhood memories)? Have I taught him to love books enough? Will he be polite? Will I ever get him to eat by himself instead of feeding him, as happens with most kids until age 5 or 6 here? Am I going against my own traditions and upbringing by adapting to these things that I so strongly disagreed with while I was pregnant and until I was working full time?

segunda-feira, junho 02, 2008

Just a side note - I have become obsessed with this style of shoes. We have named them "chinel-botas" - sandal boots - for lack of a better name or proper term. I'm sure there is one, but I just haven't caught it in the right context. I now have them in brown (pictured), black (identical to pictured), and silver (in the back ground of the picture). I have seen and drooled over them in purple, but can't bring myself to pay a chunk of money for shoes that will go with 2% of my clothes. Red might be practical, or green. But I love purple. I haven't seen the like of them yet on sites based in the USA, so I hope I won't look too out of place as I tote them all over MI this summer when I visit.

quinta-feira, maio 29, 2008

Warning to my conservative readers - there are naughty words in this post. Also, children should not be present for viewing of the video if English is their native language.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to my water bike class. It's at an academy near by our house and everyone goes there - my husband, Ju, and me - a various times during the week. We have a good relationship with all the teachers and the owner and it's been a great experience going there.

I need music to exercise - like most people. My usual water bike teacher downloads things online and brings mix CDs to play during our classes. She even went so far as to find cool down stretching music to play at the end. She has really been going all out.

Today was an exceptionally hard work out with bike, abs with leg weights on, and trampoline in cycles. In the middle of the class, right about the time I started my second abs set, a new song began to play that I had never heard before and I began to laugh so hard that I was unable to do very much. The main lyrics of this song consisted of something along the following:

I wanna lick your pussy
Put your pussy next to mine
my pussy likes a big hunk of meat in it

Then it changed:

You wanna suck my dick
I wanna lick your pussy
I wanna fuck your pussy

Mind you, as this is playing, blasting across the pool, there are numerous 7-14 year olds in various states of swimming or listening to teachers, parents, nannies, all sitting there listening to this song. I asked the teacher if she had any idea what was being sung in the song, which of course she didn't. I told her to ask my husband to translate it for her the next time he went to swim, because I just did not have sufficient slang Portuguese to do it justice.

This video about sums it up.

quinta-feira, maio 22, 2008

Ju independence story number one:

About a week ago, I was chatting with my mom at Ju's request on the webcam. He enjoys seeing himself on camera and likes to show "gamma" things in the general vicinity, like toy cars, beads and sippy cups. For some reason (which we can speculate was that he wanted my undivided attention) he decided to take a whole mouth full of water and spit it onto the laptop.

Having a friend who is now on laptop # 3 due to similar accidents (that she was at fault for, having no kids to blame it on, although she has cats), I was quite concerned that this might completely fry my laptop and put Ju in time out on the couch while I tried to dry between the keys with a paper towel. By some stroke of luck, I did not have it actually plugged into the wall at the time, so there seemed to be no immediate danger. Ju began to cry sitting on the couch because he knew I was upset with him. I was mean while trying to talk to my mom about how best to deal with the problem but I could not hear what she was say and was afraid to type on the wet keyboard, lest I force some of the water through into the circuitry. I told Ju if he was going to cry, he would have to do it in his room upstairs, and took him up there and set him on the bed to continue his time out.

Back downstairs, I found I could pry some of the keys off and started drying up the water that remained. Ju continued to cry for another 10 minutes or so. After he had calmed himself, he came to the top of the stairs and called down "Mommy, I'm not crying anymore. I'm all done" and came back down. Still feeling angry at him, I ignored him and continued cleaning the computer. After a while he started asking me to put on Bob the Builder and when I told him that he was still in time out until I was finished drying the computer, he started to cry again. I ignored his crying and next thing I knew, he had gone back up to his room to finish his crying again, and then reappeared when he was finished. I didn't have to tell him anything.

The laptop survived okay, it seems, at least (knock on wood) there was no damage.

Second Ju independence story:

Weekends are for the family, parent's quality time being after Ju goes to bed. Late one night, as we were discussing our plans for the evening with Ju playing quietly in the living room, my husband mentioned he wanted to watch "the penguin movie" in reference to "March of the Penguins" which he hadn't seen. Ju has his own "penguin movie" ("Happy Feet") which he enjoys watching from time to time.

Unobserved by us in the kitchen, Ju proceeded to get his DVD case out, take out his Happy Feet DVD and jam it into the VCR. I think when nothing happened, he realized his error and started trying to get it back out. This resulted in both the DVD and his finger getting stuck inside and by the time I was able to get both out, he was quite freaked out and the DVD had a long scratch that now prevents you from watching beyond the first 40 minutes of the movie.

I have had this conversation with my husband before - that I would prefer Ju to know how to use things like the DVD player and the stereo to that if he decides to try to do things himself, he won't hurt himself. This argument was lost when he broke the last DVD player we had and almost got two tapes stuck in the VCR at the same time, so when we got a new DVD player, I never bothered to show him how to use it, not wanting to be blamed if he broke it. Now, at least, I think I have proved my point that he should be taught how to do things like this, if for nothing else than to prevent fingers from getting stuck in places they should not be. After he got over his fear of being stuck and fear of being reprimanded for "breaking" his DVD, I showed him which buttons to push. As of today, he's still afraid to do it on his own, but he is happy watching March of the Penguins instead of Happy Feet. He says he likes the music.

quinta-feira, maio 15, 2008

"Papai, mamãe did a bagunça all over!" (Daddy, mommy did a mess all over)

"É, isso mesmo. Espero que você não seja igual mamãe." (Yes, that's right. I hope you don't turn out like mommy)

domingo, maio 11, 2008

Oh, and I forgot to add - Turkey, Cookies, and Chocolate sound like the same word in Ju speak. Had a hard time figuring out what he wanted to eat for breakfast this morning.
I'm sure I've said this somewhere along the way already, but living in Salvador is a little like living in a giant college town. People drink and drive all over the place, there is a constant party atmosphere, and even in the middle of a family residential area, there may be a party that lasts until the sunrise with no apparent regard for others sleeping or consideration for the general population outside the house where the party happens.

Last night, or rather, this morning, there was a small party (like of 6 or 8 people) at a house across the street here. Not only was it loud and took place mostly on the upper veranda area so the sound carried over the entire neighborhood, but at about 4 AM they decided to step it up a bit and turned up some Justin Timberlake full blast and scream at each other over it as one guy danced drunkly. This neighborhood is completely silent at night for the most part - we don't even have much traffic noise and the bars on the corner are not loud or rowdy, so this sudden burst of song was enough to get me out of bed and glaring at the partiers across the street. And I know they can see directly into my bedroom, as they can see everyone's in our condo. I'm almost positive that they woke up at least half of the residents this morning. It makes me want to light bottle rockets aimed at them to scare the crap out of them. Or get my stereo going full blast and point it at their veranda now, to blast them out of bed with their hang overs. But of course, I am more considerate than that. And I only want to annoy them, not my neighbors.

Happy Mother's Day!

quarta-feira, maio 07, 2008

Actual conversation this afternoon -

Ju - "Mommy, I wanna piranya." (referring to the hair clip)

Me - "Okay honey, you can play with one."

Ju - "Mommy, I wanna see a enwins."

Me - "The what?"

Ju - "I wanna see a enwins, in there." (pointing to the closet area)

Me - "You wanna see an engine? I don't think there is an engine in there."

Ju - "No, a enwins. There's enwints in there. I wanna see."

Me - "Ants? There are ants in there? I don't see any ants."

Ju - "No, a enwints. In there! The enwints. Enwings! I wanna see!"

Me - "Ju, I can't figure out what you are talking about. I don't see an engine and I don't see ants."

Ju - "Enwings! Enwingts! Da ... eawings. eawings!"

Me - "Oh! You want to see the earings in the box? Okay, now I understand..."

sábado, maio 03, 2008

Ju is now 3 years old. Time just flies by, doesn't it? We had our normal big hoorah on Thursday - a feiJUada. About 50 people came with kids of various ages. There was feijoada, salad, rice, kibe, pao delicia, brigadeiro, bonbons, etc. I spent some 3 hours putting up my home made train decorations (I spent an entire Sunday making engines and cars that had 3 and Ju all over them out of paper and colored puffy paint) all over the walls and by the pool, blowing up balloons and making the quebra-pot. Part of the simple beauty of the decorations included strips of crepe paper in purple and blue. They blew in the wind in a relaxing way and made the whole area look very festive. As an after thought, we added pieces of it to the backs of the chairs as well.

About an hour into the party, a sudden cloud passed over and it rained all over us for about 5 minutes. The kids were all playing train by crawling through several boxes taped together and they stayed inside the "tunnel" for protection for the duration. I didn't think much of it as it was happening, but as the minute passed, I noticed that the color from the crepe paper was running down freshly painted white walls all around us. At first I laughed until the possibility that the dye might STAY there was mentioned and then I promptly began worrying about the cost of having to repaint the entire outside walls of the condo. This basically dominated my thoughts for the remainder of the party as I followed Ju around, cleaning up trash as I found it and trying to keep Ju's toys from being lost in the condo as our living room was invaded by the party and the kids discovered them and consequently began wandering around outside with them. A kid I don't even know but who came with one of the kids we invited wandered around and had torn down almost all the decorations before I saw what was going on. No adults stepped in to stop him, of course. This made me incredibly sad.

At about sunset, I couldn't stand it any longer, found someone else to keep an eye on Ju and started looking for ways to remove the dye on the walls. I quickly discovered that there was no Veja or bleach or even Q-Boa in the house (how did that happen?), so I took out a bucket and dish soap and a dish scrubbing sponge and a bit of water and started scrubbing away. Surprisingly, the dye did actually begin to come off with a lot of effort, and I was quite relieved. Someone came by and said something to the effect of "good thing you're doing it now, if you left it longer it might not come off" - which unfortunately killed my plans to quit until the party was actually over, so I kept on scrubbing. I was soon joined by the nanny of one of Ju's friends and my nanny's sister and my friend the Lion who was nice enough to bring me a Guiness but I had not been able to stop and enjoy it with him. We continued to scrub our way across the wall for about 2 hours, and with the help of some borrowed Veja someone got from another household and some steal wool (which I think actually took a lot of the paint off the wall along with the dye), we managed to get most of the marks off the walls. At least it seemed that way in the dark, and I actually haven't had the heart to go out there and see if it's really gone in the daylight. After the walls were done, we had to do the chairs as well.

This entire process meant that I didn't socialize AT ALL, for the entire party. It seemed like every time I started talking to someone, Ju would wander off, or someone else would show up and need to be greeted, or someone else's kid would be trying to throw more of Ju's toys into the pool (where do these parents get off to when the kids are invading someone's house I wonder). At least Ju had a good time. The party only really got fun for me when most of the guests had left and the remaining few and their kids all crowded into our living room to watch Woody Woodpecker and play in a more controlled manner. Some of the people I love the most were those who stayed, so it was nice to have their company and relax at the end of the evening (the older kids even helped Ju finish opening his presents, which was fun for everyone).

Things I learned from this birthday -

NO crepe paper on the walls, no matter how pretty it looks - it has ALWAYS rained on Ju's birthday, every year.

Purple crepe paper dye is easier to scrub off than blue (which leaves behind a pinkish tinge) and black.

Do not leave the house open, as it is next to the pool, the party will inevitabley spill into it if I don't lock the door.

Hide all toys and objects that I don't want to wander around with kids.

Don't expect parents to keep an eye on their kids or ask them to not do things like tear down my sweat and tears hand made decorations. Or better yet, don't hang them low enough for kids to reach.

Since eventually the majority of the party goers were in or around the pool, concentrate things in that area next year to save time and clean up area.

Don't stress about not getting to talk to many people because I think I am just not meant to socialize until Ju is older. How much older, who knows.

The sad thing is, many of these things I should have learned last year. This year was supposed to be easier. About the only thing that was easier was the setting up the decorations.

segunda-feira, abril 28, 2008

Ju says "You don wanna eat a my bala!" Like a subliminal message - it's not that he doesn't want you to eat it, it's that YOU don't want to eat it. Not sure if it's a confusion based on English chunks or if he really means to say that.

Getting ready for the big number three here. I've been making trains out of poster board and puffy paint for the decorations, and have gotten small blisters on my fingers from stuffing balloons with candies and small toys for the balloon pop game. This year we opted to have a feijoada instead of a churrasco to save some money and feed more people, but since it's a four day weekend, a lot of them are traveling anyway and won't come. I am thinking for good karma, we will have to take some of the left overs and give them out on the street.

The big present this year comes from the grandparents - a real bed. Sure will beat sleeping on the crib mattress on the floor. At the moment, he wiggles around so much, he is usually on the floor by morning.

sexta-feira, abril 18, 2008

Back in January (like 2 days after the new year, when I was still on the island, not taking the ferry back because we didn't want to wait in a line all day) I broke one of my molars on some churrasco salt. It was kind of a freak accident and actually I think it had been broken for a while, since it was sensitive to hot and cold for a couple of years, or had had a hairline crack or something, and the salt probably did it in. It took me a while to figure out that it was really BROKEN, so it was only about a week later that we called the dentist to figure out what to do. My dentist was booked up until after Carnaval, so I made a quick visit to one of my husband's student's offices and she put some putty in the hole and took out the broken piece so I could at least drink liquids without pain. About a week later, she squeezed me in between some appointments and put in a temporary fill with some semi-hard putty, and took an x-ray of the tooth.

Two weeks after that, still having pain, there was an opening for my dentist and I went with all the info from the previous dentist to see if I could have it fixed for real. She took another x-ray and decided it would be best to do a root canal and then a crown. But she doesn't do root canals. So off I went to a friend of her's office who does to make an appointment to do the root canal. This friend didn't have room for another two weeks. So two weeks later, I did half the root canal, but she didn't have time to finish before the next patient, so I had to come back again two weeks after that. Now that it was done, I could finally go to my dentist and do the crown. I made the appointment and was able to get in about a month after the root canal was finished. She took the mold of my teeth to send to the lab to make the crown and prepped the tooth, but I had to make an appointment for two weeks later so that she could request that my dental plan liberate this procedure. This was on Wednesday of this week.

Then yesterday I got an "emergency" call when I got home from my dentist's assistant telling me that there was something wrong with the mold for the top teeth and could I please come in and do it again right now because my dentist was going to travel for the holiday and the whole thing would be delayed by a week if it didn't get done. So I left directly from my water bike class (still wet, having no towel), amazingly got a bus that took me to Itaigara (a mall near her office) and rushed up to do the mold again.

I was in a hurry to get home and liberate my nanny (who has already stayed later three days this week because of all this mess), so when I missed one bus (Campo Grande R1) and the second one wouldn't let me on and I saw the state of the complete gridlock traffic of rush hour, I just decided to walk home. It's not that far of a walk (about 25 minutes) and there were plenty of people out and about. On the way I passed a guy dressed in rags and his shopping cart full of cardboard listening to an MP3 player, eyes shut, bobbing his head to the music. On another street I encountered a pair of shoes, one partially broken, left sitting neatly together near a wall for anyone who might want them. And as I was almost home, I was nearly run over by none other than the bus (Campo Grande R1) that I had missed back at the mall. So all in all, I didn't loose any time by walking, and in fact saved myself R$2.

terça-feira, abril 15, 2008

So another tax day comes and goes. I didn't file... Again... Haven't actually done it since I moved here. I know I should. I know it's probably easy. But for some reason I just can't bring myself to do it. Even with the "economic stimulus package" attached to this year's return. If we ever move to the States, I'll have to file a lot of back returns. Not sure what the implications with that are.

Yesterday on the way home from school, we passed a large traffic jam going in the opposite direction. It had been caused by some kind of incident with a large truck full of plastic crates of 1 liter beer bottles, perhaps swerving to avoid a car or actually running into one, the result of which was at least 10 of the cases falling off the truck into the street and onto the cars behind it. The whole area was littered with broken brown glass and beer. Cars had windshields smashed in. The entire TWO lanes of traffic (on a major road that connects one end of the city to the other) was completely stopped as no one wanted to drive over all the broken glass. It seemed to have just happened when we were going by - the spilled beer was still foamy. I didn't bother to watch the news yesterday, so I have no idea how long the traffic jam lasted.

segunda-feira, abril 14, 2008

Part of Ju's prepping for school is working with his fine motor coordination. He has loved to paint and color since he was 1 and he has been beading with pony beads for the last 4 months. About a year ago, I got him some plastic (yes, even the blades) safety scissors to practice with, but after a few runs, they wouldn't cut anything anymore, so I started letting him use the pink handled kid's scissors that Sheila left here two years ago. Mostly, he would just cut little pieces off the edges of papers and that was interesting for him and I let him make little messes all over. Then they disappeared and he went over a month without cutting anything. This past weekend I bought a new pair of standard kid's school scissors for him and now it seems somewhere in this month of no-cutting-time he has matured to a "cut strait lines through a piece" stage and is now making many paper strips here at my feet.

terça-feira, abril 08, 2008

Now having been a victim of credit card cloning in Brasil, I had to take a day off work today to go use the notary at the American Consulate in Salvador to file my affidavit for Visa. For those of you unfamiliar with our consulate, it is only open from 8:30-11:30, Monday through Friday, which conflicts with most work schedules for those of us who work full time. So I set out at 8 AM to get my stuff taken care of, with the loose plan to head into work when I was done. Once I got there, filled out the form I discovered that the fee was R$54 and I had only brought R$52 with me. So I packed everything up and returned home to retrieve R$2, walked back, paid my fee, and was finished with the whole thing by about 11. Now, however, it was a bit late for me to go into work, so I just stayed here and took care of Ju because our nanny is sick. I also hoped to do some report cards, but again, I cannot seem to access the H drive at school and so here I sit....

sábado, abril 05, 2008

Today I wandered around a toy store, looking for new things for my classroom. Ju came. He was reasonably well behaved and left without a tantrum AND without getting anything. It was amazing. Now... could I risk taking him into Toys R Us next time we visit the States? hmmmmmm.......

sexta-feira, abril 04, 2008

A conversation with Ju at 10 pm last night (he napped from 1-about 7, so he went to bed very late):

"mommy, what's this?"

"It's a shell."

"A shell. It's a snail?"

"Well, there was a snail in it, but it's dead now. It left."

"It's a snail there. See the antena? It's not dead anymore."

"No, it's gone. That is the point on the shell, not an antena."

"It's a point on the shell. The snail is gone."

"Yes, it's gone. Put it to your ear. Do you hear the ocean?"

(he puts it up to his ear)

"I hear it. I hear the ocean in the shell. I hear a car."

"I think you heard the car pass by on the street. But do you hear the ocean?"

"Yes, I hear it. The ocean's in there."

"The ocean is in there?"

"Yes, the ocean is coming out. The ocean's coming out of the shell. It's in there."

Kids are so cute! This comment goes right along side the day he saw the window open and the rain was coming in on the floor and said "It's raining, mommy. It's raining in my house."

quarta-feira, abril 02, 2008

Do these headlines about "Tibeten suicide bombers" and the Chinese accusing Tibet of "terror tactics" sound ridiculous to you? Also, do they sound familiar? Tibet, the symbol of peace and democracy and meditation - why would they be terrorists? Hmmmmm, I wonder if the Chinese learned these terms somewhere and decided to use them to their advantage.... Where would that be?

terça-feira, abril 01, 2008

I know some people are waiting for a long report on the DI celebration this past weekend in Rio. I promise, I will try to write something long winded and explanatory, at some point, but right now I have to play catch up with my classroom, and try to reorganize my life so I can function. In short, the kids did great, I loved the experience, and despite all my belly aching and complaints, I WILL do it again next year and I WILL love it and it IS worth it. If you don't know what DI is, check out the program and get involved!

terça-feira, março 25, 2008

domingo, março 23, 2008

Once every few months I get in a weird mood and wack off some of my hair. Generally, it looks okay afterwards, so no big deal. I just did it now, when my hair as been up all day and is not clean, and I think I might have screwed it up.

This morning Ju and I dyed Easter eggs with natural dyes - onion skins for gold and red cabbage for blue. It was a fun experience and made the kitchen stink a bit. I used the onion skin to tie dye a white shirt with a stain on it - it came out quite nicely. Ju is excited to eat the blue eggs for breakfast tomorrow.

sexta-feira, março 21, 2008

Every time we ask for a pizza from Pizza Hut, they screw it up. Every time. Every time we wait and wait and wait for it to come just to send it back and ask for another one that is what we actually asked for. Anywhere in the States, this would spell death for the managers and whoever was screwing up phoned in orders, but not here. Here it means I am hungry and it's 10:30 and I still have no pizza.
One of the problems with living right next to the pool is that we get to partake in any and all parties NOISE until said party ends. Sometimes people just sit out there all day with the radio up loud on one end of the patio and sit and talk loudly over it at the other. The longer they are there, the more beer is consumed, the louder they get. One night there was a teenager party where so may people went in and out of the pool that it was a quarter emptied by the end of the night. Another time there was a party on a Thursday that decided to have karaoke start at 1 AM at top volume, which woke everyone up and was stopped immediately.

Today there is, I think, a family who has been out there since about lunch time. They have a radio, as usual, and it's blasting some god-awful station with lots of commercials, set up on the side of the pool facing our windows. They have put a table right beside the bathroom window and have been talking loud, as usual, and having rather lengthy verbal arguments about random things that proceed to get louder and louder until the grumpy looking 20 something man starts saying "porra" (fuck) every couple of words. The idea was put out that perhaps one of us should go into the bathroom and stage a very loud and stinky situation to get them to vacate the area, but the sporadic rain has kind of killed their party for us, thank goodness.

I feel safe in writing about this in the fact that I don't think any of them speaks English well enough for me to worry about them finding my blog and deciphering this post.

terça-feira, março 18, 2008

I try to put Ju to bed on time every night - on time being somewhere between 7 and 8 pm, clean, teeth brushed, etc. Some nights he gets in bed and stays there and goes to sleep after some in the dark play time. Other nights he gets all the books off the bookshelf, plays with trains in the dark, or otherwise makes messes and gets out to ask me something repeatedly. I have started to have to ignore these constant "MOMMY!.... MOOOOOMMMMY?!" calls, otherwise he just keeps thinking up things to ask for or about and never goes to sleep. Last night was another one of those nights.

"Mommy? Mooooooommmy!"


"Mommy, I wanna water."

(getting water) "Okay, here's your water. Now go to sleep."

- about 5 minutes later -

"Mommy! Moooooooomy!"

"Go to sleep Ju!"

"Mooooooomy! Mommy?"


"Mommy, I wanna another pano" (pano is a cloth diaper - he has slept with them since he was a baby)

"Then get one. It's time for sleeping. Get your pano and go to sleep."

- another 5 minutes or so passes and the garbage truck goes by, making lots of noise as it always does -

"Mommy! Moooooooomy! Moommyyyyyyyyy! I wanna see a garbage truck!"

"Ju, it's time for sleeping. Lay down and go to sleep! No garbage truck!"

"Mommy! Mommyyyyyyy!? Mommmmmy!" (at this point, I start ignoring his calls and don't answer any more)

He continues to call for the next 5 minutes or so, then he starts to sound kind of like he's going to cry.

"Mommy! Mooommmyyyyyyyy! Help me! Help me, Mommy! Mommmy!"

So I got upstairs and see he has some how climbed on top of the dresser and cannot figure out how to get back down.

"Ju, what are you doing up there? How did you get up there?"

"Mommy, I see a garbage truck an uh, it was woooooosh, crash, an in a mommy's room an já foi" (já foi means it's gone)

"Ah, you climbed up here to see the garbage truck and it was noisy and then it went past mommy's room and then it went away?"

"Uh-huh! Yes. I see a garbage truck up there, waaaaaay over there."

segunda-feira, março 17, 2008

You know how negativity spreads? Don't contribute to it!

There is a certain family (who's son is sweet and lovely and I have nothing against) who has done nothing but complain about our school the whole year; the school "breaks up friendships" because the classes have to be remixed each year, the toys are not new, the class room "is shit," when we send notes home around the children's necks it's "horrible," and the school is always asking for money or donations for some thing or another. I've about had it up to the moon with these people, trying to placate their constant complaints just so I won't have to listen to them anymore. You'd think I was a horrible teacher, that the school was the worst kind, and that no one knew how to treat children. You'd also think that if they hated American styled schooling so much, they wouldn't have put their child in am American school. Makes sense.... This is not a case of this-is-our-district-school-and-we-have-to-send-our-kid-there - it's a private school and they can take the kid out and send them somewhere else any time.

In contrast, I have some wonderful parents who constantly want to know what they can do with their child at home to help him follow what he's learning in school, say they agree 100% with time out for hitting or breaking rules, and seem to genuinely TRUST the school and teachers to TEACH their child. And to give them limits.

Now, unfortunately, it's true that teachers try very hard not to treat the student based on the feelings about the parents, but it can happen. And at the end of the day, which child would you rather spend time talking to and interacting with? The one who's parents trust you and think you're doing the right thing, or the one who's parents think you don't know how to properly treat their child? Which child are you going to to out of your way for to enhance a teachable moment? Which child are you going to spend more time explaining the right and wrong way to? It should be all equal, I know, but sometimes when you have a class full of crazy kids, you hate to waste your effort and love on a child who's parents think you are horrible and don't trust what you teach or say.

I'm not saying that you always have to agree with your child's teacher or the teacher will not treat the child fairly, but think about the negativity you spread with constant complaints, and then think about where the negativity will spread to next, and you may see how much damage it can do.

domingo, março 16, 2008

Ju woke up early one morning this last week and came down to have breakfast with me. I love these little moments we can have in the morning, except when I have to run out the door to the transport van and figure out what to do with him to keep him out of trouble until papai gets up or his nanny arrives. This particular morning, we were eating our bread with cheese and watching Lela who was watching some birds in the garage. Ju started telling a story:

"Ju is up there, waaaaaay up there and throw the rocks, wooooooo, waaaaaaaay over there. And ah, throw the rocks, wooooosh, wooosh, throw the rocks in the 'rua' (street in Portuguese), waaaaaay over there."

"Oh really, you threw the rocks into the street from up there? Well, we don't want to throw rocks into the street because you could hit someone in the head and it would hurt. We don't want to hit people in the head with rocks. People don't like it." I say

"No, I don throw the rocks in the head, no. I throw the rocks at the moon!"

domingo, março 09, 2008

A conversation between Ju and I this morning.

"Mommy, I wanna banana."

"Okay, do you want it squished?"

"Yes, I wanna squished banana with teetee" (tee tee is powdered milk)

"Okay, here you go - Ju-ju has to eat by himself because Ju is a big boy."

"Mommy help you?" (he never says "help me" only "help you" because it is a memorized chunk of language)

"Mommy will help you at the end. Ju has to eat by himself now."

"No, mommy help you at the end, no! Mommy help you ALL the time!"

Of course, this last phrase was too cute for me to take, and I did end up feeding him the banana.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 29, 2008

Thunder! Lightning! Floods! Stranded cars! (HEAD LINE)

Last night we had a huge "big boomer," as my Bryan-Dad would call it. It's a rare thing here, thunderstorms. Not sure if that's a common coast thing or not, having only lived in MI before coming here, I grew up with thunderstorms and tornados and thought them a normal part of summer.

Here it's a big event. People get scared. And for good reason - these kinds of storms bring big rain, and despite this rain being a fairly common kind of event on a monthly basis, there is yet to be a good drainage system in place for most of the city, so entire major roadways flood (those of you in MI area, imagine what would happen if suddenly I-94 completely flooded out and all that traffic had to find another route for about 5 hours), walls collapse, sewers over flow, and mudslides in favelas kill 10's of people. Not the mention the accidents caused by the water standing on the roads, cars that entered and got stuck, sitting abandoned, or floating away to run into someone or something.

My husband told me an interesting story of his drive home yesterday. There is a major vein road called ACM (Antonio Carlos Magalhaes)that connects the Orla (the road that runs along the coast) and the road that runs to the airport (called Parallela) that ALWAYS floods during rains like this, always in the direction of those headed for the coast. What usually happens is that the traffic some how finds it's way onto the opposing side driving the wrong way and after a few horn beeps, everything seems to work out. Apparently it was so bad last night that traffic couldn't even flow on the Parallela bound side and it was all forced onto a side street that runs parallel to this road. This road is a one-way, Parallela bound road as well. Now that you read all that and didn't understand it, you can check out this map, zoom in, and try to see what I'm talking about if you so desire. If not, read on.

View Larger Map

What apparently happened is that the traffic from ACM ocean bound quickly diverged itself onto this road going the wrong way, while traffic going the right way (ACM airport bound) did the same in the opposite direction, both with the intent of getting the freak out of the mess of flooding, undrivable road. So this basically amounts to 4 lanes of traffic in each direction (2X4 = 8 lanes total) packing itself onto a 4 lane street with almost no roads to turn off on to, and meeting in the middle, nose to nose, and nobody could do a damn thing about it. You couldn't very well drive over the cars in front of you, but you couldn't back up either because the cars just kept coming up behind you trying to escape the flooded road. So you had another complete blockage. Like someone cut off all routes between the Orla and Parallela, because basically that is what happened.

My husband, by some miracle witnessed this and didn't get stuck in it (no idea how he managed that), thought it might be a good idea to call the traffic police to come direct traffic and get it moving again. So he called and called and no one every picked up. So he called the local cops (Policia Militar) and had the following conversation:

(phone rings)
(someone picks up but says nothing. There is back ground noise and some people talking)
My Husband - "Hello? Hello...."
Random Dude - "Hello!"
My Husband - "Ummmm, is this the Military Police?"
Random Dude - "Uh, yes, yes, it is."
My Husband - "Well, see, there is a huge huge cluster fuck of a traffic jam here and I tried calling the Traffic Police, but they don't answer. I thought maybe you could radio them or something and let them know that someone needs to ...."
(Dude interrupts) "You need to call the Traffic Police."
My Husband - "Yeah, look, I did that and no one picks up, but something has to be done here..."
Random Dude - "Uh, yeah, thanks brother, thanks."

I seriously doubt that anyone was called or notified. I suppose eventually the mess worked itself out. They almost always do. But lots of people were hurt last night, from flooding, falling, stranding. One of my coworkers had to walk all the way home in hip deep water because she couldn't get a bus home from class, then she fell down a mud hill and hit her head. We read today that the ambulance service here had no power last night, so they received no calls and were unable to be dispatched to help anyone.

And this is modern?

If someone could just figure out how to make a drain work properly, we could avoid all this.

Be sure to check out THIS WEEK IN BAHIA later for videos of the river that was a street near my house, tidal waves by buses, and some nice shots of the street on a normal day for comparison.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 28, 2008

Ju has caught whatever I have - flu, it seems. Last night he got feverish and started crying in his sleep and coughing a lot. My husband spent most of the night sleeping on his floor trying to comfort him and giving him little sips of water. This morning after my shower, I saw he had returned to our bed and was trying to get some real sleep. I went down stairs to make coffee and force myself to eat something (having the flu kills my appetite) and then I started hearing Ju calling me upstairs. I went into his room to find him in a fit of fever nightmare, sweating and crying "Waaahhhhh, Mommy, I want another shoes! Waaaahhh, Mommy, MOMmmy! I want another shoes!" Some kind of nightmare where I wouldn't let him wear the shoes he wanted to wear I guess. I burst out laughing when I heard what he was saying in his sleep. He is now sleeping fitfully in our bed with my husband. Poor thing.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 27, 2008

Definitely the flu. Chills, fever in the afternoon and evenings, swollen glads, coughing. I just want to sleep. Flee. ug.

At the of Ju's Bob the Builder DVD there is a small commercial for DVDs of Fraggle Rock. I wonder if they makers know that those of us that LOVED that show as young kids are now having kids of our own and will buy them out of nostolgia, having nothing to do with whether or not we think our kids will enjoy it. I want that DVD. Ju says he wants Thomas.

Mommy, if you are reading, it would make a great birthday gift for your only child ;)

terça-feira, fevereiro 26, 2008

A few days ago, we took Ju out to play and ride his trike, and then to the mall to pick up a CD my husband had ordered. We dragged a long my friend the Lion, and eventually ended up at Le Bisquit; a rather Hobby Lobby like store for those who don't know it. This is a general "good behavior" tradition where Ju gets to pick out a new hotwheels car - besides, I LOVE this store: there are beads, stickers, school supplies, little toys, party favors, indoor fountains, yarn, etc - everything I could possibly want and be able to find in Brasil.

Ju waded through the general pile of cars and hadn't chosen one when I decided to go off and pick up a few things of my own, leaving him in the care of my husband. By the time I came back, I found he had chosen a small green car that looked a bit like a plane, a fighter jet looking thing, and .... a Polly Pocket car complete with Polly to ride in it.

Polly Pocket car has by far been the favorite new acquisition, getting time in the shower, going to bed with him, and going to swimming classes with him. He decided he wanted it to be a kitty car, so he had me draw a kitty face on the hood, and now he drives his small Siamese cat figure around in it (the Polly has gone missing in just 48 hours, I am not surprised and relatively confident he didn't eat it).

I try not to raise Ju inside of cultural gender roles, but I wonder what will happen to him when he starts school.

domingo, fevereiro 24, 2008

Last night we went to the "Praia 24 horas" event to see some bossa nova played on a stage in the middle of the ocean (while the audience all sat on the beach). It was great fun - lots of food and drink vendors walking around, we met up with some friends, parking wasn't too much trouble, and you could swim out to the stage and tread water watching the artists sing and play right in front of you. I stayed out for half of one guy's set - I had forgotten I could just tread water like that for that long. (I actually think I swam a lot more last night than I really have since I moved here - I have a terrible fear of ocean currents and waves and rip tides that I'm not sure when and where it came from.) The event was well organized and safe and pleasant for a free event in Bahia; I was quite impressed. We even went so far as to take the digital camera for some nice random shots.

After we dropped off Isis and Vito (family friends; Vito is Ju's age minus 3 months) at 11:30, we came home and Gustavo had the great idea to skinny dip in the condo's pool. I have not skinny dipped here since I first moved here, mostly for fear of seeing my neighbors, or worse their kids, who are often out later than late. The good thing is that our house is right next to the pool, so anyone looking out of their windows to see us incognito would have to be doing it from ours - no worries there. I was rather nervous about it at first, since it's much easier to see that a woman is naked in the pool than a man (although because of tan lines this late in the summer, it is quite obvious) and I actually let my hair get all chlorinated in hopes that it would shield my embarrassment should we suddenly have company. After some time playing with Ju, who has gotten over his fear of going under the water after two months of swimming classes, I forgot I was naked until Gustavo pointed out that I had done so, at which point I started hearing voices and decided to get out before someone saw me. About 15 minutes after we got out, a bunch of teenagers took over the pool area until well after 2 am. Good timing!

Ju thourally enjoyed the experience and promptly asked to go swim naked as soon as he got up this morning. I explained to him that mommy and daddy can't swim naked during the day but that because he is small still, he can swim naked if he wants to, at home. He seems pretty excited about the prospect of going back into the pool and trying to swim, naked. Hopefully it will work the same way if I make him wear his sunga again.

sábado, fevereiro 23, 2008

I notice I write more often about Ju than anything else. I suppose that shows quite a bit about how I spend my time when I have free time to write - and that is with Ju at my feet or near by, being the descarado that he is. For a change of pace, here are some other random thoughts.

Lela has always been a picture licker. Recently my mom sent down some photos of the wedding and now I always have a calico fuzzy body next to my laptop, trying to lick them. I have no idea what is so attractive that she likes them so much. I hope she isn't slowly killing herself with this weird habit.

I realized I had always assumed that people kissing on television and in movies were faking it. Well, they are, of course, but I mean with no tongues and such. Not sure why I always assumed this, but it just seemed natural to me that since these people, despite being actors etc, had girlfriends/boyfriends/wives/husbands that they wouldn't possibly be really using tongue in that shot. I mean, I know it looked like a tongue, but wouldn't their significant other be upset? I have no idea when I lost this assumption, but I think it was quite recent.

This entire year has been one big adjustment in responsibility for me. I started really teaching, really planning, and really "being in charge" of other people who work in my classroom. I never see myself as a boss. I am not comfortable telling others what to do. I suppose it takes some getting used to. I ended up doing the same thing with the DI program. I have been working with my team for over a year, but to really get the program started, I wanted to get others trained and have other teams and get school support, and some how in all that I ended up coordinating this program for the entire school. Not that I don't love the program and want to see it succeed, but I didn't mean to sign up for this - I'm not good at managing people, teams, not letting emotions show or get involved in what I'm doing. It's not anything I ever trained to do. Some days I wish I could just quit, but then what would happen to the program? Maybe someone else will volunteer for this position next year. It's unpaid and stressful, so I doubt it.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 22, 2008

I am sitting here waiting for Ju to finish eating. The extent of his conversation with the kitchen is so interesting, I thought I would type a play by play.

"Is a boo an a [r]ed. Is a boo an a [r]ed in der"

"Rice, come back rice, come back"

"I don like it. I don like a this chikin."

(singing) "Is a rice an a peas, is a rice an a peas."

"Is a pushing buttin. hmmm, ai ai, ai ai."

(I say, "Ju, sit down please. All the way.")

(singing) "All da way, all da way, going going going going going.... going going"

(he drops the spoon on the floor) "Mommy, I wanna spoon."

(I tell him to get down and get it)

"Go get it, go get it. Don fall down, don fall down, don fall down! thank you thank you, thank you mommy, thank you Juju. Whoa, whoa, whoa - haha, whoa - hahaha, whoa - hahaha"

And that concludes this most interesting post.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 20, 2008

At least it's healthy....

Ju has developed some rather strange eating habits. I chalk it up to my basic rule that snacking is okay as long as it's on healthy stuff. Don't all these health magazines keep telling us that grazing all day is more healthy than several full meals. A basic day of food might run like this:

7 am - yogurt with wheat germ
8:30 - banana squished up with powdered milk
10 am - two apples
11:30 - rice, beans, some frozen peas and maybe a can of sardines
3:30 - another apple and a yogurt drink
5:30 - 1 tomato, juice, a pear
7 pm - half a french bread roll, juice

Last week he would only agree to eat his veggie soup if I would let him dip his apple in it. He ate the entire bowl as a dip. On Monday we went out for sushi and he ate all the cucumber garnishes, the sea weed off several shrimp wraps, and the roe from the sushi rolls (large orange fish eggs that look like tapioca balls).

sexta-feira, fevereiro 15, 2008

"mommy is a napkin"

"mommy is a kleenex"

The other night, Ju ate his veggie purre soup by scooping it out with a granny smith apple and eating it as a new fangled dip.

I have to go into work again tomorrow, I have too much I still have to get done and prepped. Ug. It took me three tries to spell tomorrow right. My brain is fried.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 13, 2008

School is back in full swing. I have two new students in my class, both who are wonderful and sweet (and girls - as if I needed more girls!) and eager to learn. Days have gone pretty much normal, despite construction going on in the HS/MS, with the exception of an occasional power outage here and there.

UNTIL>>>>> today. Some of you might remember my rant about power outages and (ahem) not-so-intelligent-administration-decision-makers. Luckily when we lack power since then it has not been a long term status. It's been a bit shakey because of the construction equipment running all the time, moving and disconnecting things, and so on. Yesterday I kept trying to run around school to find some where to print the names of my new students and their photos for the "who's at school" wall, but the power went out for long enough that I had to give up. Today when it started to flicker on and off during the morning exploration centers, I didn't think much of it because it usually comes back. It finally kicked off during circle (9 AM) and never returned (which spurned a whole series of stories of ghosts in bed rooms by my students that all generally ended with a parent removing the ghost, kicking it out, or otherwise eliminating it from the premises).

Luckily, since some parents decided to have countless meetings with our director, a skylight had been installed in my room during the vacation and when we have no power we no longer are in a dark cave with no natural light. We did our group activities with this natural light, washed hands, had snack, and went out to the playground. At some point, the message was passed through that went the power came back, we were not to turn on anything that wasn't in use and only use ONE A/C, lest we knock out the circuit again (I later heard we had completely blown out the circuit on the street and there was no estimate when it would be fixed). We spent the rest of the day with out power, and eventually without water because the pumps won't work with out power, obviously. The no water thing is particularly difficult for those of us in the preschool, and worse for me who has no less than 6 students who go #2 at the same time every day (!!!).

Parents started showing up to get their kids around 11 and word was passed that we were to remind the parents to also take the older siblings home when the younger ones left, as there was no power to cook lunch or wash hands in sinks, or anything really. The classrooms were already sweltering (90+ and humid and many without opening windows), but after being on the playground for almost an hour, I had to take them back inside just to get them out of the sun. Eventually parents trickled in and got their children.

No power here also means no phones, so I later found out that calling all 459 parents had taken over 2 hours to complete with 6 cell phones across the administration office. Some parents were never reached or did not return phone calls or maybe just had no way to get their kids before they left work, and when I left at 2 PM there were still quite a few sitting around on the front steps, looking bored and hot, unfed, and I felt bad for them.

domingo, fevereiro 10, 2008

Today was my last day to do nothing, and sure enough I had a headache and in fact was up do doing nothing all day, so off went Gustavo and Ju to the weekend parties and social gatherings and I sat here and watched movies and lamented on my pounding head. It's nice that the boys can have their day together, although I miss them. Yesterday I spent most of mine at school trying to finish prepping my room for the start of the new semester, but I didn't really get it all done. Oh well.

My dad called this morning while the boys went to the supermarket (and did all the grocery shopping in one of those "car carts" which completely amazes me), and I spent about an hour and a half talking to him about everything from politics to family to weather. I noticed we end up talking about the dreams we have and what they mean. I can't recall having had as many conversations about dreams and meanings with anyone else in my life as I have with my dad, and this is only in the last 2 years or so. It seems we have the same dreams, or similar dreams, and seem to interpret them the same. Not sure what that means, except that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. It's funny how much closer we have gotten since I moved here - closer than we ever were since I was a kid. Well, not funny, nice actually. Makes me all the more encouraging for him to find a place down here to retire to 6 months of the year.

quinta-feira, fevereiro 07, 2008

Some interesting news on the first day back at school - Last September,they closed our gym because the roof was falling off and they were going to fix it. It remained closed through the end of the last semester, but with promises that the roof would be done by the time we came back in February. Well, sure enough, the roof is actually done (shock), but it seems that it spent so much time without a roof that the floor melted in the hot sun and summer heat. So now we have to wait another month or more before we can use the gym because they need to replace the floor. Sigh. Somehow, this is so typical, I just can't quite bring you all to understand what I feel right now.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 06, 2008

I just discovered my credit card has been cloned. Now I have no credit card. Not helpful.
I have lately been obsessed with saffron. (I know there is a song in here somewhere) I had never bothered to buy it, not having any experience with it, and my general spice shelf never went that far into the realm of exotic (read: garlic, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, oregano, etc), but starving late one night at a friends house where pizza had been ordered and everyone was happily eating (I am allergic to tomatoes, for those who don't know), I decided to eat an experimental concoction consisting of spaghetti, butter, black pepper, and saffron. Lo and behold, I have found a new unique flavor. I started putting it in everything I cook that is boring. The bad result of this is that it makes me want to eat more because it tastes good. I know you know this problem. I have a similar relationship to fresh garlic - if I can still taste it in my mouth or smell it in the air, I become an eating machine. I blame my vacation weight gain on this spice. .... Well, that and acarajé.

sexta-feira, fevereiro 01, 2008

Every boy needs a good scar. Right? Boys get banged up. Well, little kids in general get banged up (I know, I am a teacher).

Yesterday we spontaneously decided to walk around Carnaval. No, Carnaval is not the cause of the scar. We had gone to all the trouble of going to Porto da Barra to go to the beach, and since all the Trios were leaving from there shortly after we had decided to leave, we walked up to the Farol to see what was going on. It was early and not too crowded and we met some Aussies that were hanging out the front of a pousada. Ju liked the experience but wasn't fond of the noise and asked to go home, so we headed back to the car.

We decided to stop for Acarajé on the way home in Rio Vermelho. For anyone who knows Brasil, you will be familiar with the side walks made of pieces of rock to form patterns. While waiting for the Acarajé, Ju stood up on one of the benches and fell off head first onto the sidewalk, getting a big gash across his forehead and scaring the living shit out of everyone there. The beer guy gave us some ice and the Bahaina tried to give us advice, and Ju was screaming his lungs out with blood pouring out of his head.

We sped off looking for first aid station (there are several up because of Carnaval) but didn't find one that was open, so we went to the hospital by our house. Their emergency room was open, but they don't attend children, so off we went again (with a quick side trip to the house where we picked up my insurance card since we didn't have Ju's yet) and ended up at Aliança Hospital, which is easily the nicest one here. We went strait to the pediatric emergency door, where we were told that they didn't have any doctors on duty that night (why does this place exist and stay open???). We ran across the complex to the regular emergency area in a completely different building where there were doctors. By this time Ju had stopped crying and almost stopped bleeding and was kind of just passively wondering what all the fuss was about and asking for his Acarajé.

In the emergency room he got five stitches (by the father of one of my former students, although I only found this out at the end) and was very well behaved. Another mom from my school who's son is in group 2 came in to see what was going on and I chatted with her a bit too. (Not sure if this was good or bad for my career as a rich kids' teacher, but whatever) All said and done and Ju was fine and still asking for his Acarajé and Gustavo decided to go make a formal complaint to the "pediatric emergency room" that had no doctors, after which we went back out to the Acarajé place to get Ju what he wanted and to let them all know he was okay. There was a kid there about his age dancing to some kind of DVD performance of some artist of some kind who told Ju he should not dance because he had gone to the doctor and had a boo boo. It was pretty cute.

Today he is totally normal, except that we can't let him get his head wet for another day or so, so he still smells like blood and iodine. We told him he's going to have a Harry Potter scar now (he doesn't know what Harry Potter is really, except that mommy has books about him that have lots of pages he can turn and pretend to read), and he seems to think it's not such a big deal. In fact, on some level I'm sure he's enjoying it because of all the extra attention he's getting, having ice cream for dessert after lunch, and getting to watch Bob the Builder and play and make lots of messes. I still won't let him eat candy though.

quarta-feira, janeiro 30, 2008

It's that time again - live cams for Carnaval are almost active. You can watch the countdown and check out the circuit maps, get info on the location of the blocos, and fantasize about the biggest street party of its kind. You know you wish you were here.

segunda-feira, janeiro 28, 2008

Wireless internet working means I can go all over the house with the computer. But mostly I just sit on the couch, which is about 8 feet from where I used to sit at the computer prewireless... I tried in the hammock, but it was kind of hard on the knees. I also tried in Ju's room but he kept trying to sit on it because everything in there he generally has free rein over. I sat at the table for a while, but everyone walking by on the way to the pool could see what I was doing, which although I am doing my best to not look at porn or anything, there are some questionable images on some of the forums I visit that I care not to share with the neighbors. So here I sit on the couch.

sexta-feira, janeiro 25, 2008

I haven't used for flights in a long time since they didn't used to allow you to have your embarking airport outside of the US. Today, just for shits and giggles, I decided to compare the quotes between them and Expedia, who I usually use. To my utter disbelief, I was quoted $7189 to fly from Salvador to Michigan and was given only ONE option in flights, whilst Expedia quoted the exact same flight (with less stops) for $1500. I was so totally appalled at the price, I sent them a customer service inquiry, just to tell them they were ridiculous.
Another visit come and gone. This was only the second time my dad has been down here in almost 4 years (I go up there once a year, so it's not so bad). They say traveling is half the fun, which for me is still true on some level, even when dragging a two year old behind me (or more often, carrying him, his carry on, my carry on, and if I'm lucky, something to eat for each of us), but I cannot imagine is still so for my father who travels at least once a month by plane to some place or another. It's always very sad to see him go, or anyone who comes here to visit, for that matter.

Ju is very psyched to travel up there in July now. He is totally fascinated by all forms of transportation. When we took him up last June, he was sick and not happy and under rested. This resulted in a tantrum reaction to each instigation of "okay, now we have to go get on the next plane" (there were only 3 airplanes involved, thank goodness we flew into Chicago). I am hoping due to his better comprehension of time and language that he will be as excited about the trip as I will come the end of the school semester. Also, he will be three by then, and may be less likely to wander off in the airport (although only slightly), so traveling as a solitary parent won't be so overbearing. Maybe he will even carry his own suitcase.

I will have to get my head out of the future for a bit though, and enjoy the present. I always seem to do that - get all excited for the next trip to where ever. I wonder why...

segunda-feira, janeiro 21, 2008

I have not been kidnapped by the kidnapper doll ;)

My father is visiting here in Brasil for a couple of weeks, so I have been off having fun with him. So far we have taken him on a sunny city tour, shopping for a Brasilian speedo (because you can't wear swimming trunks without being marked as an American - another sure sign is to bring a towel to the beach), to drink beer in our favorite bars, to see the sunset, to a relatively out of the way neat beach area where a river runs parallel to the ocean front and you sit at your tables in the middle of it (Ju loved this because he could swim without any floating device and there were lots of kids to interact with), and to Itaparica island where we stayed at a friend's house that was so full of people that dad had to sleep in a hammock under the mango tree - which is surely something that he will tell as a great story at the office.

Today yet, as soon as we finish the translation for a sushi restaurant that was due last Friday, we are going to Coco Bahia restaurant where there is an open playground for kids, live ducks swimming around in the pond/water fall out front, and various live birds and their ecological bios posted around the all natural, dirt floor, plant and vine covered building. We also plan to (before Thursday when he leaves) go to our favorite North beach to spend a morning and have a little grill party in our garage area, but considering the amount of sun I got this weekend, I'm not sure I need any more beach time. I am now almost the color of the locals.

quinta-feira, janeiro 03, 2008

Calzones! I meant to try to post this before the new year. Didn't happen.

This is the mess. Ju helped to make it.

This is the dough. Who knew I could bake? Unfortunately, I had to squish it by hand because my rolling pin went missing. The Calzones were kind of on the thick side, but Ju liked to just eat the crust, so it still worked out well.

Here are the finished product. Lisa would be proud.

And here is the official crust tester, eating the edges off of his calzone before attacking mine and doing the same.