Monday, May 31, 2010

Driving in Rio de Janeiro

Driving in Rio de Janeiro is an amazing thing.  It's like being in a pinball machine, you bounce from here to there and one wrong move means game over.

In all seriousness, I haven't had a problem. Then again, I have the utmost respect for driving in Rio.  You have to.  Things on the road change from one minute to the next. If it's not a random delivery guy on a bike, it's a sudden traffic jam, or a car cutting over from the outside lane to turn right.

It's madness.  You also have to take in for account the fact  that not all streets have signs, and some that do have the tiniest ones you've ever seen. And if you miss your turn you could end up stuck on a highway for 30 minutes before you can turn around. It happened to a friend of mine. A short-cut turned into a long-cut when she missed her turn and wound up over by the international airport.  2 hrs later she was home with a migraine.

Now don't get me wrong,  this is not to discourage you from driving here.  It's an adventure and a hell of a lot of fun. There are no rules. I don't even know why there are lanes.  Once they repaved a highway leaving Rio and hadn't painted the lanes on. Daniel and I were laughing hysterically because it almost worked better. No one pays attention to the lanes so be prepared.

Here is a great site about driving in Rio. It's in-depth info for those who need to know:

Here's a less tense version:

In all honestly, you don't need to drive here.  Take a bus. There are buses everywhere and they go everywhere.  And they are an adventure. Hold on, I have literally fallen out of my seat on one of these bad boys. The drivers drive like they are in the indy 500... in a bus full of people.

The subway also works. Doesn't go to as many places as buses but it's a good system.

There are 500 taxis for every 1 person in Rio. You will have no problem getting one unless it's raining.  Cariocas melt in the rain.  It's been proven. They are made of sugar.

Take a van.  You'll see them. The guys hanging out of the VW bus shouting while the car is driving. Yes, that is mass transit. I've taken them. I save them for special trips like zona sul to Barra.

Lastly, walk. Great way to see everything.

Water is life, let's save some

A friend's blog motivated me to write about our plight to save water:  woolgathering.

There are many ways to save some water.  One of my husband's favorite ways is by soaping all the dishes first and then rising all of them. That way the water doesn't stay on the entire time. He's also a big fan of turning off the facet while he's brushing his teeth. He's good like that.

My favorite way is with a gadget.  The day I can remodel my bathrooms I'm putting in a two flush toilet. Practical and fun for the whole family.  Not only do you get to comfortably evacuate your waste, you get to be green at the same time.  We all like a good poo and now, to celebrate the occasion even more, it has a special button.

Yes, your dreams have come true. A special button for that special turd. It uses more water to flush down that pesky little brown fish and less for our liquid gold.  The potty also claims to stay clean longer and give you no pesky tooshy splashes. Sounds like an all around winner.

Check it out yourself:

and for those who want to modify already existing thrones: 

It's fun and easy.  A friend of mine here in Rio already had one installed in their bathroom. Big hit for the entire family.

Also checkout   (thanks Jennifer)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The accidental boob grab

I'm horrible about paying attention. It's a wonder how I've never managed to leave a kid behind or walk out of my house without pants.

Today was no exception.  Daniel, the boys, and I had just made it back to our apartment building after an afternoon at the Fluminese club park.  We were waiting for the back service elevator. Small note on Brazilian apartment buildings, there are normally 2 elevators. One of them is the social elevator and one is the service elevator. Our double stroller only fits in the service elevator.

Anyway, I called the elevator and was laughing with the boys about something. I noticed it had arrived and turned to grab the door handle without looking. Well, I grabbed something but it wasn't the handle.

It was a whole lot of boob of a neighbor I had yet to meet. Nice to meet you neighbor, you may have your left breast back.

Another one falls victim to the accidental boob grab. 

If it happens again, I'm so going to make a little honk honk sound.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The times they are a changing

I was reading an article with my English student tonight about a 17 yr old who made mistakes with her student loans. She owes over $100,000 just to have a diploma from NYU. I guess no one told her about JCs and transferring.

It led me to think about the differences in ages. I'm 29.  Her mistakes are so obvious to me.

I remember one of my favorite classes at UCSD. It was law and psych. The class was a forum for arguing. That's all we did.  And we had a wonderful professor who wasn't afraid of saying bullshit or shut up if need be.

One of his questions was about charging a 16 yr old as an adult for adult crimes such as murder.  Of course we agreed. He should be charged as an adult.  So he asked, is there any difference between yourself as 16 and 18 year old. Of course. 16 and 20?  18 and 20?  Sadly, while you feel a 16 yr old should know the difference between right and wrong, murder and life, there is a difference in a person between 16 and 18, 18 and 20, 22 and 24, so on and so forth.

At a young age of 29, I might as well be a 100 yrs older than myself at 20.  I can't even fathom my ideas at that age. And you must take into account that our rational thought isn't even fully developed until after 25.

So what does that mean?  Are we free of responsibility before that point?  Should we be sheltered for longer or shelter for less time?

I'm in a 3rd world country, where daily activity reminds us who is fortunate and who isn't,  and I've seen many moments where early 20 somethings have had to be reminded that others are not in as good of a situation as they are.  I honestly felt my kids would automatically be raised with this sense that they should be thankful.  Hell, in the year 2010 they have a stay at home mother who has a blog as a hobby.  They aren't begging on the street.

I'm realizing that regardless of where you are and/or what you are taught, it takes a level of maturity to absorb the social information around you. 

At 26, when my oldest son was born, I didn't have half the sense I have now. I'm guessing that in 2 yrs, when my youngest is almost the age of my oldest now, I'll feel the same way. I finally understand when and how the distance between young adult children and their parents is created.  It's not that they are old and disconnected, it's that they are older, wiser, and connected, not just to the moment, but to all previously lived moments. 

Here are the lyrics to a song that reminds me of this and everything:

The Times They Are A-Changin' Lyrics by Tracy Chapman

Come gather round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth saving
Then you'd better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone
For the times, they are a changing

Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pens
And keep your eyes wide, the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no telling who that it's naming
FOR the loser will be later to win
For the times, they are a changing

Come senators, congressmen, please head the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragging will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times, they are a changing

Come mothers and fathers through out the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughter are beyond your command
Your old role is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a changing

The line, it is drawn, the curse, it is cast
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be the past
The order is rapidly fading
 And The first one now will later be last
For the times, they are a changing

Mmmmmm Caqui

I distinctly remember my first experience with the Caqui.  It was my first trip to Rio and I braved a solo trip to the feira (aka. local farmers market).  I did all my shopping and returned to the apartment triumphant.  We were visiting at the time and staying with Daniel's parents and brother.

I pulled out everything I managed to buy without speaking a word of Portuguese. I finally pulled out my last purchase. I was so very proud of this buy.  I told them, I got these tomatoes for practically nothing. Brazilian tomatoes are so much cheaper than American tomatoes at the feira.

Yeah, that would be because they weren't tomatoes.  I had bought a 6 pack of Caquis (or in English Kaki Persimmon).  To add insult to injury, no one in the apartment liked the fruit. 

So I'm trying the fruit out again. My youngest has GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and I am attempting to expand his available fruits.

It was a success. They are weird little gooey fruits but tasty none-the-less.  Not only am I happy they actually ate a new fruit, I'm stoked because it's really good for you.  Check it out:

Health benefits of persimmon fruit

  • The fruit is low in calories (provides 70 cal/100g) and fats but is rich source of dietary fiber.
  • Persimmons contain many health benefiting phyto-nutrients flavonoid poly-phenolic anti-oxidants like catechins and gallocatechins as well as important anti-tumor compound betulinic acid. Catechins are known to have anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic (prevents bleeding from small blood vessels) properties.
  • Fresh permissions contain anti-oxidant compounds like vitamin-A, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin. These compounds functions as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
  • zeaxanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions; thus, helps prevent "Age related macular disease"(ARMD) in the elderly.
  • The fruits are also very good source of vitamin-C, another powerful antioxidant (especially native Chinese and American persimmons; provide 80% of DRI). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • The fruit is good in many valuable B-complex vitamins such as folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), thiamin...etc. These vitamins acts as co-factors for numerous metabolic enzymatic functions in the body.
  • Fresh Persimmon fruits also contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of DRI), copper (12% of DRI) and phosphorus. Manganese is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells. 

    Info from

    You should also check out becoming brazilian for more Caqui related fun.

    Recipes (in Portuguese)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the wink just got creepier

So if you remember back to my first ever blog post, you'll remember the story of the wink.  Well, the wink has smoked some crack and gotten a little creepy.

Every time I run into this newspaper guy he gives me a smile that is a little too familiar.  That was ok.  I could blow it off as nothing but a slightly creepy guy.  Today he took it a step further.

Don't get your imagination going.  It's nothing huge.  I was walking by talking to my friend Sandi on my cell when I saw him an outdoor restaurant.  He was staring at me. He turned. And yes, he busted out the lean, smile, and wink.

Now I'm just offended. I'm a mother of two. I'm married.  What the hell is this guy thinking? There are two options: 1. she's available or 2. she's a whore.  Ok, maybe I'm making it a bit black and white.  I wear a ring but my husband is never cruising the streets with the boys and me during the day.

Regardless, I was trying to be nice. I never reacted to any of these things. I wasn't rude nor was I nice.  I think I may have to be rude. I'm going to channel my inner Carioca (brazilian born in Rio) woman and give that OMG how dare you, you bastard face. You all know it.

On the bright side, I still got it. Ok, for a creepy guy but still counts.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Brazilians are full of them.  My favorite one is that the host has to open the door for you or the guest won't return.  I've had people wait at my door until I get it.  Seriously, awkward minutes of conversation waiting until I open the door for them.

What are your favorites?

key to photo:

Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer - AOL News

Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer - AOL News

My boys and I use sunscreen almost daily. I'm a little more relaxed in the winter but in the summer, I'm hardcore about it.

Of course that's not all I do to protect my boys. They aren't allowed out between 11am and 2 pm during the summer. No sun. It's just too strong.

Take care of yourselves people!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

If I were the president...


1. Legalize gay marriage.  Come on people, church and state are separate, right?  Well, if your church doesn't like it then don't do it.  Fine, a gay couple can't be married in your church.  Who cares. They will be married in the eyes of the government.  Who the hell are we to say who can and can't be married. And on a total random side point, those who hang right are always complaining that the government is getting too involved and we should take care of ourselves yadda yadda yadda.  How much more involved can you get than saying who you can or can't marry?  We will have to limit it to the human race though. Sorry Iowa, no cattle, horses, or chickens.

2. Legalize Marijuana. No, I'm not saying this as a total stoner, not that I have anything against that.  Look at tobacco.  Hello cash crop! Goodbye debt!

3. Press the re-do button on the whole INS system. It's crap, it doesn't work, and I hate it.  I'm legally married to a foreigner and he has to be in the country every 6 months to be considered a resident.  Crap! In Brazil I have to visit the country once every 2 years. Totally reasonable.  People run the boarder and have fake marriages but my husband has to visit twice a year. What are they, his baby momma?  To make matters worse, no one talks to anyone. INS, FBI, CIA, CBS (for all you Mentalist watchers), no one has a clue what's going on. They are like competing frats.

4. More money to public schools, a portion of that goes to mandatory foreign language studies. Get on the same page US, not everyone speaks English.

5. That's all for now.  Hey, if I really were president, republic or democrat, it'd be time for me to take a little vaca to Camp David thank you very much.

Monday, May 24, 2010

There's a hex on this house

My toddler has diarrhea now.  Maybe I've been Candomblé-ed.  Most likely it's a virus.  So we have two little typhoid Marys running around here. 

While this too shall pass, I realize that my husband and I may be the next victims.  The saddest thing about our society is it's lack of understanding for adult diarrhea.  It's faux pas to even talk about it, much less go into your work bathroom and bust out a round. 

So what are parents of young children supposed to do? Do we suppress our body's need with a bottle of pepto or do we put our head up high and say "I have Diarrhea and I am proud!"?

In honor of Monday

One of my favorite childhood poems:
Homework Oh Homework

Homework! Oh, Homework!
I hate you! You stink!
I wish I could wash you away in the sink,
if only a bomb
would explode you to bits.
Homework! Oh, homework!
You're giving me fits.
I'd rather take baths
with a man-eating shark,
or wrestle a lion
alone in the dark,
eat spinach and liver,
pet ten porcupines,
than tackle the homework,
my teacher assigns.
Homework! Oh, homework!
you're last on my list,
I simple can't see
why you even exist,
if you just disappeared
it would tickle me pink.
Homework! Oh, homework!
I hate you! You stink! 

by Shel Silverstine

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Candomblé, an everyday reality in Rio

I am not an expert in the religion of Candomblé, far from it.  I know it from the warnings of Cariocas, Brazilians born in Rio.  My first experience with it was during my first trip downtown to go to the Federal Police to extend my tourist visa.  My husband and I were walking down a fairly busy downtown street when I almost ran into a ceramic bowl with chicken feet and candles around it.  Daniel saved me by firmly pulling me out of the way.

I was given a short and not sweet explanation of "That is a Candomblé offering.  You never touch them.  Don't look at them if you can manage.  It's powerful stuff."

Through the years I've gotten to understand what Cariocas think of these offerings that you can run into almost anywhere.  There's a lot of respect.  Everyone knows where the Candomblé people do their thing.  They know that you don't mess with people involved with Candomblé.  And if someone's life takes a random and horrible turn to the worst, many think it's a "curse" (for lack of better words) from Candomblé. 

I asked my Mother-in-law if I could go watch a ceremony sometime. She told me no because I'm too open energetically and can not control my flow of energy in and out. It would be a disaster. 

Now I don't necessarily believe in this kind of thing. I almost wanted to head out on my own to one just out of curiosity.  What stopped me was the respect. Even Cariocas who don't believe in Candomblé, or anything for that matter, respect it.  You don't mess around with it.  I even got a head shaking from my husband for just taking the picture. Weird fact, my camera ran out of batteries just as I went to take the picture. The battery was full. It came back to life and I was taking pictures of my son nearby so I quickly turned and snapped a picture. The camera died right after. 

Coincidence, probably.  But it's enough to make you wonder.

A student of mine once told me a crazy story. He's a professor at UFRJ in Rio and he and some colleagues went to Bahia for a conference.  Candomblé originated in Bahia.

He and a female colleague were buying some food from a street vendor.  When it was her turn the woman would not take her money and just gave her the food.  It happened with every person on the street that she attempted to purchase something from.  Finally someone informed her that she is the personification of one of their Gods.  Everyone knew on sight and no one could take money from her. On top of that, they had to give her anything she required. 

Here are a couple of links if you want to learn more about Candomblé:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One small step for Man, One giant step for Botafogo

Today is a big day for Botafogo fans in my family. My 3 year old, Luka, is not only going to his first game but has the honor of walking the team out onto the field.  It's a tradition here for kid fans, from babies to pre-teens, to walk the players out at the beginning of the game.  To say that his father is proud is like saying I like oxygen.

Luka is excited even if he doesn't quite understand what is going to happen. He knows he got a complete Botafogo uniform with the coolest socks he's ever seen. I've had to wash it 3 times this week because he wants to wear it every day.  He also knows that Daddy can't take him up to the field but that he, his cousin Frederico, and other kids get to walk alone with the real Botafogo players. 

So I cut the umbilical cord a little bit. I'm nervous. I've been to games and they are crazy. Brazilians breath soccer, especially when it's their local team, even more so than the national Brazilian team.  It's loud, there's screaming, people are cursing, basically madness.  At first I was afraid Luka would be scared, then I snapped out of it.  Screaming, yelling, madness, and chaos... that sounds like a 3 yr old's heaven.  And to top it off, there will be junk food.

He's growing up. It's only a matter of time until he asks to go to all the games Daddy goes to and ignores what I say while the game is on at home.  My little man is growing up and he's growing up a Botafoguense.

If you'd like more info about Botafogo check out

Believe it or not, the peeing kid is one of their mascots.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Madness at 6pm

It's 6pm.  My house is madness.  I tried my husband's cell to ask if he was going to be home anytime soon.  He didn't answer. Not a good sign. 

I was thinking what I would have said if he did.  There are 2 options:  1. Please come home right now! RIGHT NOW!  or 2.  SAVE YOURSELF! 

Doesn't matter.  I gave the kids cookies, poured myself a small glass of wine, and am running a bath.  Just waiting for the pizza...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stay at home Mom vs Go to work Dad

It all started with one comment made by my husband.  I do believe he realized it too, right after he said it. 

It wasn't his fault really.  We had a rough start to a busy day.  For starters, we have a 1 yr old with diarrhea. That means that I was up most of the night with him and my husband got up early with him so that I could get some sleep.  Mom up at night + Dad up super early = two exhausted adults. 

I was kind of complaining about everything I have to do and how exhausted I am today.  Daniel, being the helpful and caring husband he is, told me not to worry. He knows I'll figure everything out and get plenty of time to sit on the couch. 

Seems innocent enough, doesn't it.  Not at that moment. At that moment he was saying that all I do is sit on my ass.  Funniest part is that he totally got that right after he finished saying couch. But the damage was done.

We went back and forth and he declared the fight open with the oh so famous words "And you don't think my job is hard?!"

Gloves were on and we were in our corners. The contest had started. Who has it worse? 

Sitting here in my unbiased thinking chair, neither one of us.  The grass is always greener.  I do think I have a bit more manual labor going on at my job, which I so classily pointed out by saying he's not a miner or anything.  He sits at a desk!  I'd kill to sit at a desk all day some days!

He does have a lot more pressure at his job. If I slack and feed the kids chips for dinner, no one is going to say anything to me.  Not that I'd tell anyone!  He has deadlines, meetings, politically correct conversations, dress shoes, and a boss.  Hmmmmm

Point being. This is a winless argument where everyone just ends up going on with their day feeling like crap.  It's hard for him because he's at work all day and doesn't really get to relax when he first gets home.  It's hard for me because I don't leave the house without children and can't relax until late evening. 

Eh, it is was it is.  I'd hate to have to spend the entire day away from my kids.  I know Daniel hates that too... Damn it.  There's a slight chance that I could be wrong here.  Let's just keep this our little secret.  

The Baby and the Poop

Good Morning all!  So I planned on taking Thursday down but I'm going to forfeit now.  My littlest one is still a little poop factory. I'm bummed that I can no longer blame it on the whole mango juice debacle.  It's been over 24 hrs and we are still pooping (the royal we). 

And how does the little man feel about this?  He seems just fine. He's in a good mood. He's running around. And, most importantly, he ate breakfast!  I fed him eggs.  I read in a wonderful book called Toddler 411 that eggs are good for the poops.  Btw, the pediatrician said to do the BRAT diet but I don't believe it. Goes back to the whole stubborn thing.

I do avoid triggers but I don't limit.  Call it what you will. I don't feel it's right to give my little poop machine apples, bananas, toast, and rice only.  He can't even eat apples.

So what would you do in my situation? It's 730am and we're already at 2 in the poop count, not counting the poop at 2am.  Would you do the BRAT diet?  Would you feed them something special?

I am giving him coconut water and floratil (something for a healthy intestine)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mommy is done

Being a mother is great. I love it. But there are times I wish I had a flashing sign that said closed or even no vacancies.  I'm tired of worrying about what food is and is not eaten. How many veggies vs how many fruits consumed. Are they drinking too much milk?  Oh dear that poop was way too soft? Is 7 poops in a day normal?  Have they gotten cuddled enough?

I'm tired of figuring out how to explain to a 3 yr old what is inside of us. What is inside a tree. What is under the ground, and when you manage to answer that, what is under that.  I'm tired of figuring out when we should wean off the bottle and how. How to get a pacie away. Why should we even take it away?  Are they going to take it to college? If they do, doesn't it really become their problem and not mine? 

How do I know when and how they are supposed to sleep?  What wolverine figurine wants for dinner?  How to get them to actually sit at a table?  How am I supposed to do all this and keep my place from looking like a toxic waste dump? 

The crazy thing is I do know how.  And if I don't I figure it out.  And I do have a sign. It says Open 24 hours including Christmas. 

And you know what, I love it.  I LOVE it! But today I'm tired. And right now, at 7:01pm, I'm on break.  I'll be back at 7:02pm. Kids, please try not to kill anyone. 

10 reasons I love being married **

10.  I could be walking around in my granny panties and he'd still want to have sex with me.  Ok, I'm the only one he technically can have sex with but I'll take it.
9.  The appreciation of my keeping myself up instead of the expectation of it.
8.  Knowing that we're in it together. By it I mean everything
7.  That my knowing his daily schedule does not make me a stalker
6.  Enjoying each other without the stress of impressing each other
5.  Being able to fart
4.  Having a guaranteed date to your annoying friend's wedding.  Your husband/wife can't say no.  That would just be wrong.
3.  After years together, still being excited about the years to come.
2.  Guaranteed lay
1.  Getting to spend the rest of my life with my best friend and my best lover.  Yes, I know. I just threw up in my mouth too. 

**  By married I mean all relationships in which people are committed to being together for life.  Who is the government to decide who can and can't marry.  Politicians commenting on the sanctity of marriage?  That's ironic.

Mango does a body Poo?

So I'm trying to wean my youngest from his one night time bottle.  I've replaced it with juice and am watering it down slowly.  You should know my youngest has a very stubborn case of silent reflux that just isn't going away.  It's like the skavies of infant acid reflux, keeps showing up just when you thought you were cured.

Anyway, I had been using grape juice because he seemed to be able to handle it.  Well, he had a flare up a couple of days ago after over a month without.  I decided that it could be the grape juice. Makes sense, right?  So I switched to boxed mango juice. Keep in mind the juice selection for him is quite limited.

Not a good idea. Being the brilliant Mother that I am, I forgot that Mango is supposed to clean you out.  Regardless, I'm not one to believe those wives' tales told by woman who actually know what they are talking about.  I'm just a big old stubborn ass who likes to learn on her own. At least I can find the humor in my discoveries. Or my husband can because he was the lucky one with first shift this morning.

My little one woke up as a poop factory at 5am.  I know what you are thinking, fun way to start your day.

It was out of control.  I was on 2nd shift this morning because my baby required night duty attendance, and I heard my husband open lucky diaper number 2 (I only found out it was number 2 later).  I was dozing back off when I heard "Holy Crap! Holy Crap! Holy Crap!" I'm not going to describe in detail what he saw but it was enough for me to warn you about the cleaning power of mango juice.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rachel vs Portuguese - the never ending battle

Sadly, mastering the ão in pão does not make me a fluent Portuguese speaker.  When I arrived here 2 months pregnant with my first born, I gave myself the 4 years. 4 years to learn Portuguese fluently, reading, writing, and speaking.  I felt that was more than enough time, even for a slightly lazy and occasionally unmotivated person such as myself.

Well, 4 years has come and gone.  I have mastered the art of conversation, sometimes correctly and sometimes not. Hell, it counts if the person understands it.  I haven't been formally educated in the language (not counting the 3 week course I did when I first came).  And come on, 6 different verb tenses?!  Conjugation?  Irregular verbs?  They don't write like they speak, they don't speak like they write. It's not an easy language to acquire.

None the less, I'm slightly disappointed in my writing skills. I had to write a small note in my son's school notebook about what we did during they weekend. The teacher will read each one and ask each student to tell the class about it.

I'm just waiting for the teacher to pull me aside and inform me that I should be writing the note, not my 3 year old.

So what am I going to do about it?  I thought about buying Portuguese grammar tapes and playing them while I sleep.  Hey, it could work.

Seriously though, should cash start flowing a little easier in August, I may try to take some private classes.  Any foreigners living in Rio want to get a group together and hire a teacher?

Why August?  My littlest will finally be in school a couple of hours a day!  Cheer cheer and back flip! Yeah for free time (minus the time I will be working).

Btw, here's a link to a Portuguese Language blog. This post is about something I use incorrectly all the time. To take vs to Bring ie. levar vs trazer

Know of any other good pages and/or teachers?

10 favorite things about living in Rio

10. The weather. Sun, sun, and more sun.
9. There's always something somewhere to do
8. The parks: parque lage, Catete Palace, Aterro, etc.  Sure there may be some crazies but it's still a good place to visit.
7. Leme beach for kids
6. The scenery- Take a walk/run on Aterro or the beaches (Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana). It's beautiful
5. The people - very sweet, sometimes crazy, always supportive and social
4. The food - enough said
3. The love of life, the love of living, the art of enjoying the life you are living. They have that down here
2. You never know when you'll run into live music. It may be at 8am in the park, noon in a plaza, midnight in the street.
1. The love and acceptance of children. You can truly take them anywhere in this city.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The public hospital experience from the eyes of my Mother

don't speak Portuguese... I can say thank you, good morning and tell you all is good. I needed more than those phrases when I disappeared into the Maternidad to be with Rachel when Luka was born... a lot more...but it was all I had, along with a smile and optimism. Only women were allowed in and Rachel wanted me there... I was too pleased and excited to be concerned. Like many Americans I assumed everyone would be able to communicate with me in English. Silly me... why should they. I was allowed to stay during the birth as well as overnight because she was going to end up having a C-section. Her doctor cut through the red tape at the front desk so I could accompany her in to wait for surgery... after an interrogation, presenting my passport, the bag search at the front desk and the candy and pillow confiscation, by some of the most intimidating women I have ever run into before or since, Rachel and I stepped over the thresh hold  into the 1950's for Luka's birth. The hospital was spotless, the staff was pleasant, her doctors were wonderful, the beds had hand cranks, the IV poles had claw feet and the IV bags were bottles. I haven't seen IV bottles since nursing school... a long time ago.

They wouldn't let me go into the operating suite with Rachel... no room in the inn. I use the term suite loosely, it was a closet. I was ushered into the hall after watching Rachel waddle away into the unknown. One last photo... one last kiss... one last reassurance. I was devastated and hardly noticed the women laying in a row on gurneys, struggling through their various stages of labor, on the way out. There was one old stool with wheels at the end of the first gurney in the row and I had the impression that the doctor would slide from bed to bed on her stool ready to catch each baby as it popped out. Hopefully they would be born in order. It could have gotten confusing and messy. If I could have seen faces I might have recognized a few of the women that would eventually be in the five bed room with Rachel later... but the parts I saw all looked alike. I was afraid to leave the hospital and go out into the courtyard (I use the term courtyard loosely too... open space between buildings covered with a corrugated roof, with benches.)  waiting area with Daniel, his family and Rachel's dad. I was afraid I wouldn't be allowed back in. I sat alone in the hall, peeked into the open door of the delivery area and paced. When I heard a deep throated cry I knew it was Luka. His cry sounded like Rachel's when she was born. I was standing at the door when the anesthesiologist came out and gave me a thumbs up and held is hands out like he was was showing me the size of a big bass he had just caught. He rolled his eyes and emphasized it again... big fish. We had a big fish. I rushed down and stood on the thresh hold to the waiting area, next to the gestapo ladies at the front desk, yelling at everyone that he was here. The gestapo said something to me... I decided to interpret it as congratulations and headed back upstairs before I could be thrown out for breaking a rule I didn't know about.

Rachel was laying in the hall on a gurney, all by herself. She said she was glad I was there, like I wouldn't have fought to be, and asked where the baby was. Good question. I assumed the nursery had him. She told me to look between her legs and sure enough there was a baby in there all wrapped in sheets and stuffed between her deadened legs... worked. He was warm and she wasn't going anywhere. The orderly came out and we moved down the hall to her room. Rachel had me fish the baby clothes out of her bag, that had been stored under the gurney, and on the way past the nurses desk a nurses came out and took Luka and the clothing. It was late so the room she was rolled into was dark. She was given the bed by the door and I tried to help Rachel slide into it. The orderly held the gurney and a nurse held the IV bottle and I carried her dead legs. Rachel was responsible for the top half of her body. We settled in... alone. Several minutes later they rolled an ancient bassinet  in with Luka curled up inside and deposited it next to the bed. I noticed the little hat we had brought for him didn't fit but they had gotten it on as much of his head as they could anyway. He was a big fish with a large head. We had to bring our own diapers, sheets for the babies bed, blankets and clothing. One other patient had her mother staying with her and I watched her change her grandchild's diaper so I figured out that they provided cotton balls and a squirt bottle, that we filled at a sink in the room, to clean the babies bottom. Rachel was exhausted and laying flat, afraid to roll to her side to nurse the baby... she didn't have a pillow (they took ours at the door... should have fought for it) so we figured out how to latch him on with his little head in her armpit. I found a chair and pulled it up by the bed as quietly as I could and sat down for the night. When I leaned back the back of the chair fell off... I propped it against the wall and sat staring at Rachel, changed Luka's diapers, helped her nurse, jiggled him when he fussed and watched her IV run out... no one came in. I had the feeling that we had been locked in and left alone to fend for ourselves.

The IV was going dry and she hadn't had any pain medication. Her epidural hadn't worn off yet so I knew she was ok for now. I had been checking her for bleeding through the night and wondered who I would tell if I saw she was having a problem. The other ladies in the room or Luka... seemed my only choice. I wandered the halls looking for someone... anyone. What I would say when I found them I hadn't figured out yet. I headed up the stairs to another floor... no one. Finally I stood in the stairwell and cried... took a deep breath and headed back to Rachel. I went to the nurses station again to see if I could get someone in to check the IV and ran into an hysterical new mother holding her newborn. An older woman with her was telling me that the baby had choked... they handed him to me. Blonde, blue eyes and in flip flops but i guess I looked like authority. I patted the baby, he seemed fine, and pointed at the empty nurses desk. The older woman went into the depths and came out with a half sleeping nurse, her hair in bobbie pins and a hairnet. She took the baby from me and looked into it's face then handed it back to the mom and sent her back to her room. I was not going to let her escape. I grabbed her elbow and pulled her down the hall... telling her she needed to look at Rachel's IV. She fought, but I won. When I pointed out the empty bottle to her she shut the IV off, pulled the tubbing out wound it up and taped it to Rachel's arm... I could have done that... and stomped out. Rachel looked panicked. I told her it was all good, checked her dressings again, changed the baby, helped her nurse him and propped myself up in my broken chair for the remainder of the night. Towards morning the old air conditioning unit in the wall huffed, wheezed and quit. Perfect.

Adventure at the Brazilian Public Hospital continued...

I finally made it out of the OR and into the hallway.  Chillin' on my stretcher, I was waiting to finally hold my baby. Since I was still in the OR area, I was alone.  Students kept walking by on their way to the nursery.  I kept over hearing them say how they wanted to see the giant gringo baby.  My boy!

The nurse finally brought him out to me and put him on my breast. Easier said than done seeing that I was laying flat on my back. They wouldn't even let me have a pillow because of my C-section... and come to find out later, they were out of pillows.

I waited another 20 minutes but they weren't boring nor was I ever left alone.  Every 3 or so minutes someone passed by, stopped to see the baby, and then made it to second base.  All these helpful people stopped to coo over my little one (or giant as they saw it) and then "fix" his position on my breast. Everyone had a different opinion on positions and my breasts just weren't cooperating.

You've all seen breasts when a woman is lying down. They just want to flop to the side.  There's no way around it. Call it gravity or personal preference, they just like to lounge. 

Finally I was wheeled into the hallway and was prepared to be taken to my room. They took my boy out of my arms and then put him in between my legs. They put my feet next to each other, bent my knees a bit, and placed him in the small spot.  I really wanted to hold him but was told it was safer for him to be cradled in between my dead legs. Even safer just to have a third party hold him but, at this point, I was coming to understand that they didn't have all the personnel other hospitals have.

Mom met us on our way and I was placed in my bed. I was sharing a room with 4 other women and their babies.  While sharing a room with 4 other people sounds like hell at first, it really wasn't. Ok, it wasn't the easiest experience at times. One woman kept her cell on high and it rang at all hours.  One teenager (16) was having a hard time mastering breastfeeding and managing her baby. I felt for her.  So young!

This hospital does not allow bottles or formula. You are breastfeeding during your stay, like it or not.  They did, however, offer a lot of help in that area.  

The saddest moment sharing a room was when a woman was brought in late my second night.  They never brought in a baby.  All women share their space with their baby in this hospital.

The next morning she was taken for a check up and we found out the gossip. She had been pregnant with twins, almost full term, and lost them.  They don't have special rooms for that situation. She was forced to share a room with a bunch of new mothers and their babies. If that wasn't cruel enough, remember the woman from my first post about this experience?  The one who's boss punched my doctor? I said I didn't like her and you'd see why. Well, here's that moment.

We were all given little gift bags from a charity.  In the public hospital, most people are not as economically stable as others.  The bag had some diapers and clothes for the new babies. Well, the woman I didn't like yelled across the room to the woman who lost her babies. Keep in mind, the woman who lost her twins hadn't spoken since she was brought in.

Well, She yelled across the room to ask her if she could have her bag of stuff!  She then continued that maybe the 4 of us could split it among ourselves because she wasn't bringing a baby home!  I was horrified to say the least!  As was everyone else.  The woman who lost her twins rolled over towards the wall and stared to cry.  The other woman took that as a yes, walked across the room, and took her bag.  She started to try to divvy up the goods. No one took any nor said anything.  When she offered diapers to me my only reply was "don't you have any shame".

She took my answer as a no thank you and pocketed everything.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Things to never say to a Carioca taxi Driver

There are numerous things you should never say to a taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro. For starters, Flamengo sucks.  Not the birds, the soccer team.  Like 98 % of all taxi drivers are Flamingistas.  Hell, 98% of all Brazilians are Flamingistas.

I learned the second thing last night coming home from Cathy's birthday party in Lapa.  I got in the cab and said "Laranjeiras por favor, rapidinho".  That translates to "Laranjeiras please, quickly (actually little quickly but we don't say that in English).

Thank goodness for the new seat belt law in Rio that require taxis to have seat belts in the back!  I thought I was going to die. I tried to say a prayer and realized I forgot all of them.  All those church years down the drain.  I'll google them later.

I was sitting thing wondering if this guy was just a fast driver or if he actually took my quickly comment seriously.

We took tunnel Santa Barbara and once we got to the other side, my driver was oh so proud.  He looked at me via the rare view mirror and said "4 minutes! Not bad!  See, I got you hear quickly" It takes between 10 and 15 minutes normally, depending on traffic.

At least I now know how it feels to be in a race car on the streets of Monaco.

Rule 2: Never tell a Carioca taxi to go quickly... unless you really mean it!

How about you?  What rules do you have when it comes to taxi drivers?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adventure at the Brazilian Public Hospital continued...

As pictured, I returned to my room to wait.  Here I am all dolled up and ready to go.

I was visited by my doctor, the anesthesiologist, and the pediatrician.  We talked more about my impressions as an American at a public hospital than what was going to happen.  I raved about the wonderful care, and in all honesty, I did have amazing doctors.

My Mother, who had been waiting with me, was told she needed to wait outside.  The operating room wasn't big enough for her to be there. 

They told me to come with them. Just that, come on Rachel, it's time.  This I found strange.  Super pregnant lady walking. 

I got up and walked into the operating room. There was a tiny little table.  Now, you can't see my ass in this photo but I can tell you that it was not tiny. 

I looked at my doctor and told her I just would not fit.  Seriously.  She laughed said not to worry, I would fit.  So I used the little metal step stool and laid down. I did fit! Barely, but I did.  

At this point I was scared. All the doctors were preparing and I felt so alone.  They were not lying, the room was too small for me to have my Mom stay for the birth.  I think there was only a foot of space left over on either side of the room.

They prepped me for my spinal tap. Now I was terrified.  I was shaking. My no-nonsense Dr. Nancy came to one side of me and the anesthesiologist the other. They had me lay on my side facing Dr. Nancy and curl into as much of a ball as possible. When I got into position, Dr. Nancy then pushed my head further down and my legs further up.  I was almost crying. 

She then did the most surprising thing. She leaned as close to my face as possible, stroked my hair, and just started talking to me in a soothing Mom voice. This only confirmed what I already knew, I adored and trusted that woman with my life.

By the way, I'm shaking just typing this.

It was done before I knew it.  They rolled me back onto my back and proceeded to shove a 2 x4 thing up under my shoulders.  My arms were placed on it and they taped my hands, palms opened up to the ceiling, to the board. I was horrified. They used enough tape for the Hulk.  I could have used some warning but I guess it's how it goes. It would have been horrible if I freaked out during surgery and tried to run away. 

In all seriousness, they do have women that freak out and try to run away. They try to sit up, they scream, etc etc.

Next the anesthesiologist put on the oxygen and told me he was going to give me something to calm me down. I told him I didn't need it. I insisted that I didn't need it but he gave it to me anyway. I did not like that anesthesiologist. Hell, I still don't like that anesthesiologist.

I started to feel extremely weird because of whatever he gave me. I told him I was tripping out badly and asked if he could please do something about it. Thankfully, he managed to bring me back down.  While that would be enough to piss anyone off, he continued to irritate me during the entire surgery. 

My doctor and a student started my C-section.  That part was funny because you could tell that Dr. Nancy is a good teacher. She started psyching up the student.  "Are you ready?! Are you ready! You get to do this. You get to do this!" I found this humorous instead of scary. They have to learn somewhere, right.  It was also educational for me because she talked to the student about the C-section while doing it.  Very interesting stuff.

So that damn anesthesiologist.  They have this rule here that you can't speak during or after a C-section because you'll become full of gas. I had never heard of that but I hadn't ever had one so I was trying to follow their rule.

I was all quiet and the anesthesiologist would ask, are you ok. I'd tell him yes and then he'd yell at me to stop talking.  15 minutes later, again, are you ok? Yes. Stop talking!  About the 5th time I was pissed.  I responded to his "stop talking!" with a "then stop asking me questions.  I'll tell you if I'm not ok"  He stopped.  Hallelujah!

Finally my boy was born! He came out screaming like a 40 year old fat man with the voice of a tenor.  He was a big one for Brazil. 3.8 kilos/8lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long.  Big healthy beautiful (for a newborn) little boy.  They took him to the nursery to be checked.

My doctor let the student sew me up.  I had complaints about that but we'll discuss it in the next chapter.  Dr. Nancy told me that if my bikini is any lower than the scar that my husband would have a right to complain.  Surgery was done. Everyone gave everyone a pat on the back and headed out. 

Really, everyone. I was just sitting there on the table alone.  About 3 minutes passed and I was about to scream for help when some guy came in. Some guy. He walked in like he was a waiter coming into work and I was just someone sitting at a table.  He said nothing.  That made me a little nervous.  I told myself he must work for the hospital.

Once he got his stuff set up he finally spoke to me. It was a very awkward couple of minutes... for me.  He took off the sheet covering my nakedness and told me that he was going to clean me up. 

I was manhandled and not in the fun way. I couldn't feel anything and, from my position laying on the table, all I could see was him vigorously scrubbing my stomach and remaining areas with what seemed to be iodine.  He was pushing my legs over and letting them drop dead from side to side as he worked. A little TLC would have been appreciated even if I couldn't feel anything.  I kept my spirits up thinking of how it would make one hell of a story once I was out of there. 

Then my spirits dropped. He brought in a gurney, lined it up with the operating table, and told me I was going to help him.  I started laughing.  How in the hell was a woman who just had a C-section and was numb from the waist down going to help him get her onto a gurney? 

He pulled my top half so I was twisting at the waist.  He made me grab onto either side of the gurney. He told me to pull myself and he'd take care of the bottom half.  I started to cry.  I told him I couldn't do it.  I told him I was scared to death. He said that I could and that it was no big deal.

Don't get the wrong idea. He was not saying that supportively, he was annoyed.  Well, I managed, barely.  What did he say to that you ask.  He looked at me and told me that my doubt was a sign of a insecurities and a weak personality.

Wow!  Talk about kicking a girl when she's down.

I'll continue in my next installment with the story of the wait for my room, the room I shared with 4 other Moms and babies, and the infection I later developed.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Brazilian government notices an American who used the public health system!

I received a very cool email asking if I would be interested in sharing my experience doing all prenatal care and giving birth at a public hospital.  Noticed at last!

My first and most significant memory is from the day my son was born.  It was a dramatic day, not even counting finally meeting my first born.  We arrived at 7am like planned. I was approaching my 42nd week and my doctor wanted to try to induce me.  Unlike all other hospitals in Rio, this hospital is big on vaginal births, even VBACs.

I arrived cranky and hungry (after 8 hrs without eating) and was ready to go.  Things were running late but I was already accustomed at that point. Everything runs late in Brazil, especially at anything public.  That's when the drama started.

A middle aged woman, who I'll call Sassy, came running in with her maid. She was telling everyone it's time for her labor (of course the poor thing was working up to the end) and that they needed to take care of her C-section.  I guess the baby was breech or something.  Sad fact, she didn't do her prenatal care there, which is a strict rule, and wasn't in any immediate danger so they sent her away. She was told to go to another hospital. It happens quite often at public maternity hospitals.

To say Sassy was pissed would be the understatement of the year.  She flipped out and started making calls to people she "knew" and who were "important."

One of them happened to be the boss of my doctor, Nancy, who was acting as head doctor that morning.  Nancy got that man on the phone and told him off and he agreed with Nancy. He told Sassy to hurry up and take her to another hospital.  They would call the hospital and everyone would be waiting for them.

Sassy also called the police. She wasn't having any of it. Her maid was going to deliver at that hospital if it killed... well, her maid.  It was a big drama. In all the time Sassy spent bitching, her poor maid could have gone somewhere else and delivered without drama.

So long story short, Sassy punched Dr Nancy in the face.  Dr Nancy was pissed. Sassy was processed but her maid got in.  I felt bad for her maid though. She didn't get to have someone stay with her because of the whole drama.

On the other hand, Sassy's maid was in my room and I can tell you that she was an annoying sack.  I almost dragged my C-sectioned ass over and threw her cellphone, that was ringing all day and all night at max volume, out the window.  And that was the least annoying part of her.

My induction turned into a C-section and my 7am appointment turned into a 7pm appointment.

I was waiting for my surgery in a prep room and had to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was in the birthing room.  I went in and almost fell over.  Sensory overload! There were 5 birthing beds with curtains in between but no curtains on the side where the doctor sits... on the side where the door was.

There were 5 vaginas, all in different stages of labor, staring me in the face!  At that moment, I totally understood why men aren't allowed in the birthing room.  Waaayyyy too much going on in there.

Seriously though, they had to stop allowing husbands because there were fights between men, during labor, claiming other men were checking out their lady.  I'll be the first to let them know that no one was checking that out!  It's like a car accident. Beautiful, yes, in that figurative way that means it's not really beautiful at all.

That was the first and only moment I was so happy to be having a C-section.

I will continue the story of my birthing experience in my next post.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A wonderful pizza dough recipe and goodbye Dominos

I wanted to share with you a wonderful pizza dough recipe.,164,149163-224198,00.html

I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening and it seems that it also seeps into my baking. Nothing rises.  Nothing grows. I can only manage to make brick like flat bread.  It's sad. My bread, me, my family for feeling like they have to eat it anyway.  Sad.

Well, a small war was won tonight with the production of this wonder dough and pizza.  It comes out quite fluffy but is very tasty.

Take that Dominos pizza in Rio. I'll be keeping my money and you can take your R$40 large pizza and shove it in your hee haw.  Momma American over here will be producing her own processed goodies from now on.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's day or Grandmother's day or Great-Grandmother's day... who will win?

I had a very interesting day today.  For starters, I woke up thinking that I was actually queen of the world and not just someones wife and mother.  My poor husband and kids. It was all peaches and roses the first couple hours and then I threw my first fit.

The house was trashed. TRASHED. It looked like I had moved out and 3 men lived in it.  3 grown drunk men who like playing with toys and wore really small underwear. 

It pissed me off.  Should it have? Not really. Does it matter so much?  Not so much. Did it matter to me? Hell to the yeah it did.  It bothered me, big time.  I felt that my husband should have been on it knowing that it would bother me and it was my day.

So here's a side story. I'm married to a seriously amazing man.  He may not notice much when he's home, like a super large pile of dishes or a bunch of his socks or underwear on the floor, but he's a good man. Hell, he's in making a canoe for my oldest's class.  Long story short, we have parental homework sometimes.  Good school though so I'll let that slide.

So I throw my fit, we all calmed down, and we all cleaned up.  Next we had to go to my husband's Grandma's house for lunch. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to have to share my day. We all already know I was being a ginormous baby today and I didn't want to share.  We go.

Disaster. My youngest wouldn't nap. If he doesn't nap he doesn't sleep at night. I need him to sleep at night!  Everyone is yelling and talking super loud. The apartment is 2 feet by 2 feet for heaven's sake. We can hear the Grandma fart in the kitchen. There is no need to yell. But there is yelling because everyone is Brazilian and they can't, by genetic makeup, speak softly.

I give up on the nap and try to eat lunch. The kids were being impossible. Everyone was annoying me (remember, big baby syndrome) and fit two was had. 

In my defense, it was during my 2nd nap attempt and my husband and mother-in-law let my 3 yr old in to lay down.  It seems that I'm the only one who knows my 3 yr old.  He always does this.  He comes it to check it out, gets over it, and loudly states that he wants to leave. Wants to leave! WANTS TO LEAVE!

So I pulled my husband into the room, told him I was done and that we were leaving!  He is such a trooper and said ok.  You must know that this is very faux pas here in Brazil. You don't leave before the coffee. And once you say you are going to leave you actually stay another 40 minutes chatting.

We didn't.  Needless to say, not the favorite of the family right now.  This is what makes me miss my family in the US of A.  I could just say, look I'm a cranky sack today. My kids are being difficult. We're just ready to go.  And it wouldn't be a big deal.

Oh well.  Can't win them all. My littlest napped and was good and happy for round two at the other Grandma's house. We ate waffles.  Fun was had by all.  I don't think I'm going to win daughter-in-law of the year from my mother-in-law.  Then again, I could poop gold and I still wouldn't. Even if I shared.

Life changing since becoming a Mom

In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to write about one of the biggest changes I've experienced since becoming a Mother.  Oh I'm not going to get all corny on you...

I miss the sanctity of the bathroom.  You know, going in, sitting down, reading a good article, and basically getting business done. That's all gone down, well, the crapper since I've had kids. 

My last poo was spent in conversation with my preschooler. Of all the places to ask for my attention.   

It went kind of like this:

"Honey, go play.  Mommy is busy"

"But Mommy, I need to talk to you."

"Whaaaaaaaat do you neeeeed to talk to me aboouuut?"

"I don't know."

"What doooo you mean you don't know uggg?"

"What's for lunch?"

"gggggg, Mommy is in the middle of something"

"Let's go play"

Apparently Mommy isn't interesting unless she is on the phone, cooking dinner, or laying a... you get the idea.

I look forward to the days when I bust the bathroom door open and receive protests in my direction. Payback will be a bitch... Oh will it ever. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mommies out there! May you get your 5 minutes of peace and quiet to do with what you will.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spinach does a body good... you only have to eat it

So I'm a big fan of getting my kids to eat healthy stuff but I hate forcing things down their throat. I'm all about tasty food that goes down easy. 

Spinach is a hard one. For starters it's green. A 3 yr old digs anything and everything green except for food.  Hell, I can't even get him to eat oregano.

Point being, I've found another way. They're big on smoothies in Rio and so is my family. Our normal pick is a papaya and banana smoothie with milk and a bit of sugar to taste (not always necessary but makes it go down even easier).

Well guess what I'm doing now.  I'm adding a cup of spinach and chocolate milk.  One cup of spinach, a half of a papaya, a banana, and a cup of milk. Blend for a minute.  Pass it through a small strainer. 

That one is important. Nothing turns a kid off a smoothie like chunks.

My super picky eater 3 yr old sucked it down like a treat.  1 point for Mommy!  Ok, that's 1 to about 372 but I'm getting there.  I threw some, minus the chocolate, in a bottle for my one year old and the green goodness went down like ice cream.

Yummy, nutritional, and easy. I'm having one every morning now.  Also try beat, carrot, and apple juice.  Surprisingly good.

Keep in mind this comes from a cookie, white sauce, meatballs, pizza, and over all junk food lover. LOVER

Friday, May 7, 2010

What a difference an accent mark makes

Not only am I a full time Mommy but I'm also a part time Conversational English teacher.  During class last night we started talking about the importance of pronunciation and accent.  It makes a huge difference in being understood or completely misunderstood.  I say this out of experience as I have made an ass out of myself many times here in Rio.  I'm pretty sure it'll become a running theme in this blog. 

This story goes back to when I first came to Brazil.  I was a shiny little sheltered girl who spoke no Portuguese. I mean, zero.

One day I figured I had enough Portuguese to run an easy errand. I went down the street to the neighborhood bakery and picked up some bread.  The first time the guy was a little confused but then I pointed to the bread and he understood. He giggled a little bit, smiled, and sent me on my way.  Mission accomplished! I was a master of my own universe... or the bakery.

I was so excited that I could manage something on my own.  I was nervous every time but I got a huge smile and, what seemed to be, a lot of encouragement from the baker and cashier.

So that became my routine. I would pass by the bakery in the evening, receive lots of smiles, and buy some bread.  That was, until, I went with Cousin Letty.

We were heading to the neighborhood bar for some beers  and I saw that they were putting out little fresh loafs of bread.  I figured a snack wouldn't be a bad idea if I planned to keep up with her.

Long story short, I ordered my bread and Letty practically had a laughter induced seizure. She literally fell over laughing onto the bakery floor.  Imagine me standing there with my little brown paper bag of bread, once so proud and now so confused.

Let me just give you a little Portuguese lesson.  Accents mean a lot down here.  Pão is bread in Portuguese.  If you do not pronounce the accent it becomes Pao. Pao is a completely different word.  I'm going to give you a minute to figure out what it means.

You're right. It means Penis.  For about 5 months I had been ordering bags of penises.  It put the smiles into a whole new perspective. I was that American girl who kept coming in and ordering male genitalia.  Awesome!

After the day of Letty's stop drop and roll laughter, I never again entered into that shop.  I couldn't explain how the ão in Portuguese is a very difficult sound for native English speakers to make.  Not that they cared.  It's funny regardless. I mean, I was there ordering penises daily. There's no saving yourself from that. 

Needless to say, I am damn good at the ão sound now.  Letty still gets a little laugh if she comes into a bakery with me, even though I now order bread.

Ode to dishwashers

Your majestic presence is missed here
The rhythmatic humming of a machine
Clean and efficient as if you do care
I only wish you could be on my team
My hands are pruned, my dishes have spots
The counters are wet and starting to mold
Spending my day trying to stay on top
And I can’t get dried eggs off that damn pot
Wash so much my hands look 60 years old
At least standing keeps my ass looking hot

Thursday, May 6, 2010


My youngest son is still mastering the art of walking. He can really get going but holds his left arm up and out like the 90s arm movement that went along with the phrase whatever. If he were a girl he'd hold his purse in the crook of his elbow. It's not a big deal and his balance improves every day.

What is really great about the whole thing is the attention it gets here in Rio de Janeiro. When I take my little one year old on a walk through our neighborhood he normally gets the sterotypical 'he's so cute' or 'look at that blond hair'. It's really quite sweet how people love to stop and coo over him.

Then there's the older women. I'm talking about the ones between 70 and 90. They can't help themselves. It's their nature, culture, age, something... They have to get a little dig in there. It all starts with a 'oh what beautiful eyes' and then, once you smile all proudly, they reach over and touch your elbow oh so softly. That is the moment of doom. They drop it 'But he has a gimpy arm there. You've got to watch it'

Watch it what? Gimp? And the nerve! Who are you to say that about my son?! Ok, you are about 103 years old and survived bad inflation, numerous currency changes, a military dictatorship, a revolution, and children of your own just to name a few. It did throw me off though. How do you respond to that? Thank you?

The first time I tried to defend my child's arm. I told her 'no, it's only when he walks. He uses it normally otherwise.' to which I only received a slight shake of her head and eyes full of pitty. I actually questioned myself as my son continued towards the park walking like RuPaul.

I watched her walk away and realized that she had stopped only to mention my son's arm wasn't normal. Only in Rio would someone stop you to point out that your son is slightly retarded, or so they think. And you have to love the casual way in which they say it. She could just as well had said watch out there's a step coming up or your shoe is untied. But no, she was saying my kids arm was lame.

So as I said before, the first time threw me off. The second time was interesting and I hardly noticed the third. By the time my husband's grandmother said it I just looked at her and said 'Sure, yeah, I know'.

And that is the truly amazing thing about living in Rio de Janeiro. You honestly learn to let something go in one ear and out the other. My mother has been trying to teach me how to do this since I learned how to be offended. It took having a child in Brazil to make it sink in. It was immersion that did it.

Just bring your 3 month old to Rio and take him/her out for a walk without socks. You will be attacked by little old ladies. Try it. I dare you!

Sexy Momma

The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching three by three, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching three by three,
The little one stops to climb a tree
And they all go marching down around the town

That pretty much sums up my life as a whole. It's the three of us, me and my two sons, marching around town getting stuff done. There's not much variety to our day to day life unless you count going to a different park as shaking things up. All and all, I don't mind. I think it's the little things that make a difference, i.e. the odds and ends.

I had a little thing happen yesterday. It's a very little thing so don't go and get your hopes up for some exciting story. I was winked at on the street.

Oh I know, no big deal. But here's the thing. He was hot and he wasn't old. Yes, older men can be hot sometimes but not the case with this guy. He was hot, I'd say in his late 20s or early 30s, and kind of a bad boy type. Let's also keep in mind I was cruising the street with my bad ass double stroller and my two little men. Now one could debate that this guy must be a bit of a bastard to be winking at Mommies cruising around with their kids. Also not the case. I pass this guy once or twice a day. I've always noticed that he's pleasing to glance at but that was it... until now. He winked at me!

This really means nothing. Nothing will come of it except for my boosted self-esteem. Yes, just a wink. You see, I'm a Mom. I'm just a Mom running around with my two boys. I hardly have time to brush my hair, much less worrying about collecting even the smallest bit of attention from men. Not to mention, I'm married. Then there's the whole body image thing. I'm young but I have two kids.

So approaching 30 I'm starting to feel less than what I physically was before. My body just isn't the same and I am young. It makes me feel so unattractive. I should be tight and fit. Oh sure, go to the gym, eat right, take some time for yourself, blah blah blah. Let's be honest, after kids there are things the gym and a massage aren’t going to fix. For example, the boob issue. My poor beautiful little breasts. They are now like sad little balloons. You know the ones. The forgotten balloons still hanging from the wall days later. The shriveled and sad pink things that were once voluminous but are now depressing. Well, those are my breasts. Tiny little air sacks with playdoh like nipples. I'm not even getting into the nipples.

My point being, I don't feel sexy. I can't even fathom a man looking at me and thinking about sex. Hell, I can't imagine a man looking at me and thinking about me doing his laundry. That being said, I don't suffer from low self-esteem. I suffer from a realistic view point. I have no doubt that I attract my husband or that I'm of value. I'm just not the delusional 20 yr old I was once, prancing around in little skirts and tanks thinking I’m the shit.

Point being again, after all my yammering, it made my day. A wink. I had the heart flutter... Oh I was noticed! And he's someone that doesn't have to notice me! It's that simple. Needless to say, I felt a boost of sexiness, a natural sexiness that doesn't come from make up or clothes, and I propositioned my husband. I think I can say we're both happy I was winked at.