Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Update on American Tourists hurt in Rio

I just can't seem to wrap my mind around this.  I know things happen, and they happen a lot in Rio, but a manhole cover!  A sewage explosion of sorts?

If you come to Rio de Janeiro as a tourist, you can imagine a few potential unfortunate incidents.  You could get shot, robbed, hit by a car, or step into sewage run off from a leaking manhole.  I'd never imagine that I'd be walking down the street, minding my own business, only to be practically blow up! 

At the very least, the couple (it's not just an American woman but an American couple) should be receiving good care.  They're staying at Clinica São Vicente in Gavea. 

Sara Lawri and David Mclaugheim were cruising Copacabana, like a million other people, when the subterranean gallery blew up as they were crossing over the manhole cover. Sara has burns over 80% of her body, is in critical condition, but is lucid.  David has burns over 35 % of his body. 

It has not been determined if Light, the Brazilian electric company, is at fault or not.  CEG, the Brazilian gas company, has tested the area and didn't find the presence of gas.  This is the first time an accident of this proportion has been registered. 

I actually saw Light blowing something up under the street, via manholes, down the street from my house a couple of weeks ago.  They had the entire street blocked off. I can't imagine why they would need to do that, even if they have lines down there... Anyone know?

Their family is on this way to be with them at this time. 

Please send them your prayers, energy, protective spirits, or whatever it is you believe in! Sara and David, my thoughts are with you and your family!

Here is the original article. Keep in mind it's in Portuguese:  O Globo

American Woman Hurt in Rio

I was wondering if anyone had the full story. My husband saw a brief part of the story online and I haven't been able to find more information.

Apparently a female American tourist was walking down the street when a manhole exploded!  They have no idea why it did but the poor woman has burns on 80% of her body.

I imagine her family has come down to be with her.  I was hoping to be able to reach out and help if none of them speak Portuguese or if they need anything in general.

I'd appreciate any information!



This is too much information but, as I mentioned in a comment (I Dream of Waxing Vaginas), I have a funny antidote about a proctologist visit.  I didn't think I'd share but remembered that I have no shame!

At a follow up visit with my OB, a couple of months after my youngest was born, I was referred to a proctologist. I had a little friend hanging out the backdoor.  It's very normal in pregnancy and those little bastards can stick around for a while, especially when pissed. 

I warned you about TMI.

Anyway, he was angry and she said I really needed to get him checked out.

I walk into the proctologist office early one morning. It was huge, especially by Rio de Janeiro doctor office standards. It was also full. I was the youngest by an easy 40 years.  I sat, feeling more awkward than I have in ages, and waited.

Rachel.  My turn.  Ohhh man.  I sat at the desk and told him about my annoyed little friend and he showed me to his table. It was an innocent looking enough.  The tray of tools did not look innocent at all.

The check up went well. I was fine and everything would take care of itself.  I felt violated but not nearly as much as I expected. That was until we had our chat.

I was asked about my lifestyle. I should have known.

I told him I am a mother and had recently had a baby. He was 2 or 3 months at the time. I was then informed that it was unlikely my child caused my friend. Maybe he invited him but that's not why he stuck around.

I took the bait. Why then?

He said it could be my American eating habits. Instant potatoes, ketchup, steak sauce. I told him I rarely, if ever, eat that.  I live in Brazil. Can't even find the first and last, and I've never been a big ketchup person.

That's when I stumbled upon his point.

I was informed that I needed to stop the anal sex. Yes, that quickly. Ketchup to anal sex. If I could not stop, I had to at least stop until I was healed and after that I should only partake minimally.

For a girl with no shame, I was melting onto the floor with it.  I had nothing. For him, my lack of response only confirmed his diagnosis and he continued with his speech.

I heard all about how anal sex ruins the anus.  I also got to hear about the correct way to do it if I must.  Now, I can tell you my back door does not have a blinking open sign above it. I also do not judge. And although I did not appreciate the speech, if I was going to get one, I guess a proctologist would be the best person to give it.

Needless to say, I did not return for my follow up.  My impression, before said soapbox, was that he's an excellent doctor.  I just couldn't face it.  I've never been medically told off for sexual practices on such a practical level.  Not only did his accusation embarrass me but the medical way in which he approached it took me completely off guard. I just hope his daughter went to his mother for the sex talk!  If not, the girl is going to be asexual!

Not to mention, who can trust someone who doesn't like instant mashed potatoes!  It's processed goodness in 2 minutes that melts in your mouth and solidifies in your belly.  Shame on you Dr. Proctologist!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hipsters take over Rio de Janeiro

The hipster revolution is at full throttle.  I've been ignorant to the war on the fashion forward but my husband's lovely cousin has opened my eyes to the hipster movement.

I'm sure you've all seen them. They are the middle class, normally white, youth sporting Grandma's old handbags and earrings.  They bust out the skinny jeans in the form of second skin and have taken leggings to a whole new level.  They mix and match colors and patterns, generally creating a new "fashion".

It's a wonderful trend to have your teen follow, although a true hipster would cringe at being referred to as a trend.  Your teens will opt to spend mere dollars on a used t-shirt. They will stop asking for $13 or R$16 to go see the latest action flick.  Instead, this new breed of anti-mainstream (which is far from being new. Originals have been hipsters before even knowing their classification) will be attending cult film festivals and underground music shows.

That's where the Rio de Janeiro hipster revolution has a wonderful advantage over many cities.  This city is a hub of independent film festivals and theaters.  New groups are as abundant as new STDs.  One pops up every stinking minute.  They may have an issue finding a decent hoody but Rio de Janeiro doesn't really call for that kind of thing. They can hipsterize other type of attire.

So Cariocas, throw out your platforms and Nikes, and pick up some Vans or Converse (worn in of course).  Start memorizing random music trivia, the more random the better.  Read some obscure books.  Watch even more obscure movies.  Check out this guide on how to be a hipster:  How to be a Hipster

While I find the hipster population to be totally harmless and quite enjoyable, that's not always the case. Here's a article that feels quite differently: Hipster subculture.  I will say that I prefer the original hipsters.  I have a couple of friends that have been busting out the hipster flavor since before I even knew what it was.  But if you want to join the group, brush the dust of Grandpa's old polyester pants, find yourself a tight plaid shirt, and get some wide rimmed glasses.

And last but not least, a very entertaining hipster blog Hipster Runoff

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Dream of Waxing Vaginas.

I starting thinking about career waxers today.  I'm not talking about esthetician but Brazilian Vagina waxing laborers.

I know jobs are scarce here and you do what you have to do, but waxing?  In a practical sense, I can imagine a cousin of a girl works at Pello Menos and can get her a job.  Fair enough.  But passionate waxers? Does that exist?  I've never been waxed by a 13 year old boy so it's hard to imagine.  They are about the only people I could see finding joy in that line of work.  That would be because it's the closest they get to "that line of work".

I guess if you starting asking, you could question urologists and gynocologists too. For that matter, proctologists.  Alright, gynos get to deliver babies.  They are clear in my book. Urologists... I'm sure they do something.  Proctologists have no excuse.  By definition: a doctor specializing in diseases of the rectum and anus.  Hi, I'm Dr. So and So's wife. He gets his kicks sticking his fingers in old people's tooshies. Oh wait, I think I just explained that one.

I don't even want to think of my waxing getting any sort of kicks, although I swear it happened to me once.  No, I don't want to talk about it. Ok, I'll sum it up as some questionable finger placement. 

Moving on, when you are getting that intimate with a person, you're curious on how they started their career.  Hell, my husband had to know me for far longer than my waxer to get that deep of a look. And down here in Rio de Janeiro, they are so thorough that you'd think they are looking for a winning lotto number in there.  Needless to say, they do a damn good job.

One thing every woman who comes to Rio needs to do, is get a Brazilian wax. I'm not talking about the , "I don't take off my undies" basic wax.  You need to come and get the, "oh you haven't you passed through puberty, wait I think I found some hair!" wax. If you are going to do it, do it all the way!  It's Brazil baby.

On a serious note, go to a place that is well known and doesn't reuse the wax. I mention Pello Menos above but I read an article that named them as reusers.  The article said that boiling the wax does not kill everything and that includes HIV. I'm not a scientist and I can't say for sure.  Either way, it's really nasty to think of someone's hair covered hard wax being spread on my special parts, even if it's been boiled. Find a good place that throws that stuff out! There's one in Largo do Machado.

For a more complete explanation of Brazilian waxing, check out kajyoga

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Happy Birthday my wonderful husband!  34 years and counting! 

Enjoying sleeping in and getting your special breakfast and lunch!  Hell, you may even get a little something something after the kids are in bed. It may not be make up something something but birthday something something is almost just as good. 

It's your birthday and is a very special day! You can sleep, watch all the World Cup games you want to watch, determine when we leave for the family lunch in you honor and when we come home.  The world is at your command!  No dishes for you to wash, no laundry for you to fold.  Just keep one thing in mind, after all this fun, I'm taking tomorrow off!

Love you Mr!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Boy meets Girl

Imagine a grungy guy walks up to you in a foreign bar. His hair is overgrown and fro-like. His beard is so out there that the once fu manchu is just an accented puff around his mouth.

Now if you were me and this man walked up to you in a bar in Barcelona, you would marry him.  That is my story. It's a grubby, I-wasn't-planning-on-going-out-but-my-friends-dragged-me-here boy meets I-went-shopping-in-Spain-and-look-a-bit-like-Eurotrash-American girl.  In what quirky romantic comedy wouldn't that work out perfectly!

There weren't any tables that night at La Ovella Negra.  Both Shelby and I and Daniel and his friends were on the search for a place to set our tooshes.  My friend and I resigned ourselves to a bench next to the Foosball table.  Daniel had spotted us and started to make his way over.

We stood up and I got a good look at my suitor.  It was a feeling I'll never forget.  We locked eyes and I was shaken down to my core. Sorry for the cliche but the truth is the truth.  It was one of those moments when you get an almost too intimate look into a strangers eyes, the kind that makes you feel like you saw a glimpse of their soul.

I immediately turned to Shelby and desperately whispered in her ear. "He's going to change my life!" Pan to Shelby's major confusion and worrisome thoughts that her friend is crazy.

We played foosball for a while until a table opened up. We all sat down and at that point I felt that Daniel was losing steam and I was interested in him.  The evening was coming to an end and my aloofness was going to bite me in the ass.  I needed a plan of action and I needed one fast.

I stood up and annouced I wanted to play darts and was anyone with me?  Before anyone else could answer, not that they would have, I set my eyes on Daniel. He must have caught on because he went to get the darts from the cashier.

We were finally alone and chatting. He was playing horribly and I told him so.

Aren't I charming?

He insisted that I was distracting him because I was standing so close.  There was no room there and I got a little confused like maybe I was crowding him.  Duh, he wanted to be crowded. I moved closer and breathed on his neck.  That distracted him.  Then it was my turn. Payback is a bitch.

I was about to throw the dart and Daniel crept up and kissed a wonderful spot on my neck that I didn't even know existed.  In an accidental yet very entertaining move, I missed the dartboard completely and hit the middle of someone's table.  They were not nearly as amused as Daniel.

If he was going to be daring, I was too. He was still very close and I turned quickly. Our noses were practically touching.  He kissed me. I kissed him. Oh the slippery slope we slid down after that crazy, fabulous kiss!

By the way, he kissed me first! He feels that when I turned I was the one who made the move. I think I just set it up for him to make the move. Your thoughts? Who's right?

Anyway, we spent an amazing 10 'Before Sunrise' days walking around Barcelona.  We talked or didn't, met up with his friends, and ran errands all over the city. It was his last 10 days in Barcelona. He was returning to Rio de Janeiro and he had decided to spend them with me.

The signs were amazing.  On countless occasions we found ourselves running into weddings.  At one point we literally walked into one as they were leaving the church. On another we found ourselves walking on a sidewalk covered in roses, only to discover we were outside yet another church after yet another wedding.  It was as if the world was trying to tell us something.

The day he left, he left early in the morning. We said goodbye and he headed off.  I was only flying to Ireland that night so I decided to drag my sorry ass to a favorite plaza and have some breakfast.  Armed with my discman (oh the days of discmen) and journal, I was prepared to wallow in my coffee and misery.  Low and behold, to my surprise, the church across from the plaza opened up and out poured yet another wedding party. Seriously? Seriously! Give a girl a break!

Well, life had another plan.  We couldn't forget each other.  2 months after our summer love affair, Daniel wrote and told me to wait for him.

He was in San Diego 5 days before my 23rd birthday.  I had to keep touching him to believe it. We were married 2 months later.  We're going on 7 years now.

We finally made our official move to Brazil a little over 4 years ago.  I was 2 months pregnant with our first born and Daniel was offered a good job in Rio de Janeiro.  Baby meant it was time to settle down.

Our families were amazingly supportive of our short courtship, although I know there was some definite shit talk happening behind the scenes.  That's ok though, I am a common member of the family gossip party and smack talking on both sides. I fully expect it to be directed towards us sometimes. I would be offended if it wasn't.  It's a special way of caring.

The important part is that we are happy. We have learned from all highs and lows and our children have only stabilized and made our marriage happier. As a co-worker once told me when I found out I was pregnant with my first, a child will destroy a bad marriage and will make a good one better. Thankfully we're the latter!

Here's a quick way to stop annoying horns

There is an ass across the street from my apartment repeatedly honking a very loud horn.  It's 10:30am. He's been doing it since 10am.  A half hour of non-stop horn honking out of his window.  I looked out. He's very proud of himself.  He's so happy you'd think he was a 15 year old boy who just lost his virginity.

Here's the question, would it be wrong to run over there and shove it up his... toosh?  I'm all for spirit but come on!  I'd like the keep the small amount of sanity I have left.  Anyway, I'm sure he'd enjoy it.  It'd probably honk every time he sat down.  He could stop hanging out his window and just go bounce on a chair.  Personally, I think it's a win win situation for everyone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Apartment living and Neighbors

PORRA PAI!  It's not an uncommon thing to hear in my apartment. No, my 3 year old has not mastered advanced Brazilian cursing, but my neighbor has.  It literally means cum Dad.  Brazilians use is like we use fuck or shit.  Consider your vocabulary expanded.

Her voice ranges from dying cat to non-ADD banshee hopped up on Ritalin.  I don't know whether I should put her out of her misery or pop her a Valium.  Either way, it's not pretty! Wonder why she hasn't found herself a fellow...

And her poor Father.  Then again, there was one argument when we heard her cry out for help. I really doubt there are any victims in that family. Don't worry about her though, if I remember correctly the help was followed shortly there after by more cursing and yelling.

How nice would it be to be able to live in a place for a month before you bought or rented it!  On the other hand, I doubt anyone would actually make it into a building. Either the apartment would be a money pit or the neighbors crazy. Quite possibly, it'd be both.  Mine turned out to be a slight money pit but all was handled in a short amount of time. Fingers crossed. Now that I've said that, my kitchen is going to come tumbling down into the downstairs apartment.

We do have the one crazy, though I'm sure we're considered crazy enough on our own. Thankfully we don't have anyone living below us. They would think that we're breeding mini-hippos with the way our boys run around. And damn straight!  I bought this apartment for the long hallway and bathtub. The hallway is perfect for the boys to run in when we can't get outside. The bathtub is, well, a bathtub, a definite luxury here in Rio de Janeiro.

And I haven't even mentioned when Daniel and I argue.  Not that it's often and no, there's no light workout caused by throwing or running away.  When we argue it's in the morning.  We're tired and cranky and both of us get easily annoyed in the am. God's cruel joke to parents by making children early risers.  Can't imagine my neighbors enjoy our bickering at 7. At least they get a impromptu English lesson out of the whole thing.

All and all, close quarters apartment living in Rio de Janeiro always gives you a story or two to tell.  I'm just thankful I'm not the doorman.  The stories he has are not ones I would like to experience first hand!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A little glass of wine is a great way to de-stress.  I'm a big fan. The only issue is when you are a tired Mommy of two and you drink a glass of wiinnnnneeeee zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. What was I saying?

That is the issue.  I'm exhausted!  A glass of wine de-stresses and then my body remembers that it's not in fight-or-flight and goes into hibernation.  That's is not a desired state when the only quality time you have with your partner or alone is when the bambinos are sleeping.

I'm particularly tired because my little refluxer has been suffering from a flare up/cold, my toe is broken, and, as I just discovered, my oldest's weird owie on his ass just may be impetigo.  Oy Vey and I'm not even Jewish!

I have to say though, that I love this part of being a Mommy and wife/partner.  Anything goes any given day.  I know it sounds like a big pain in the ass for those who are not child friendly (not judging! It's a lifestyle like smoking or ninjas) but I love it.  I really feel like I live every moment of my day.  Given that moment may be spreading antibiotic ointment on the little blisters on my kid's ass but I'm living it baby!

Add to it that we're doing it in Rio de Janeiro! It's so normal for me now and at the same time so different.  I almost feel a freedom raising my kids outside of my culture. I'm not stuck in the routine that I knew and that I feel my kids need to know. I deal with new things every day, every moment.  There's a freedom in that. I may not be backpacking with a crew of 20 somethings but I'm in new terrain all my own.

All being said and done though, I would love to have a chance at being a Ninja.  I think I'd be very good. Very Jennifer Garner circa Alias.  But that brings about the argument of which is better, Ninja or Samurai? Which would you choose?

I'm sticking with Ninja!

Hey Gisele, shhhhhhhhh

I really try not to hate Gisele Bundchen. This struggle started when I was an insecure little thing starting college.  There she was, the epitome of woman, walking runways all over the world and staring life in the face. I was jealous.

I got over my hatred of the super duper model.  Took some time but as I grew into myself, I could appreciate someone elses beauty without comparing.

And then she had to go and have a baby.  Ok, the initial annoyance with her was of no fault of her own.  It was my bad, my issues.  And now you ask? It's so her fault!

I'm happy for her that she had such an easy labor.. But then to talk to the newspapers like, 'of course I did! It's only childbirth, you just hop into your tub and pop out a baby.'  I'm just waiting for her to say she really doesn't make much money modeling but shits gold.

We'll let that slide though.  It's a good thing that a famous woman is so open about natural birth. She is doing society a favor by pushing natural and/or vaginal births. I say natural and/or vaginal because it has been brought to my attention that they are different things... I'm going to choose to hold my tongue on that one for now.

So good for Gisele! She's beautiful, rich, and had an easy natural labor.  She must have led a good past life!  But she really pissed me off when she talked about pregnancy weight. Here's her quote:

I did kung fu up until two weeks before Benjamin was born, and yoga three days a week. I think a lot of people get pregnant and decide they can turn into garbage disposals. I was mindful about what I ate, and I gained only 30 pounds.

I think I just threw up in my mouth. This is where I have to say Shut Up.  Pregnancy is not always simple. The last thing women need to do is worry about their weight. I'm not saying you should go and put on 40, 50, 60lbs. And she did put a healthy amount of weight on but the way she phrased it sucks.  The, I'm holier than thou, is hitting me in the face.  I have seen many woman worry about how much weight they are gaining in pregnancy enough that it could potentially hurt the baby.  Of course I've also seen the other side.

The point being, pregnancy weight is not about how you will look afterward. It's about gaining and eating well for the development of your baby!  I know a Vegan woman who stuck to her diet and gave birth to an over 9lb baby!  I ate a little bit of everything possible, gained 39 lbs, and had a 8lb 4 oz baby.  It's important what you eat. You should try to eat healthy but not because of the weight but because of the baby.  It's a balance between too much and too little, kind of like life.  It worries me that some poor girls out there are going to read Gisele's comments and stick to diets that are not in the best interest of their unborn child. 

Let's not even get into the difference of means. She stopped working to enjoy the special pregnancy period, had private exercise classes, and has pimp genetics!  Not pimp like you are my ho but pimp meaning awesome. I should have just said awesome...
Anyway, stop the woman on woman hate!  That also goes for Mommy on Mommy hate!  We have it hard enough, do we really need a millionaire supermodel telling us how to do pregnancy?  If I want to turn into a cow and then complain about it, that's my prerogative.  I did do it too, my second pregnancy.  I don't recommend it.  Gaining 49lbs is a bit much.

PS. Gisele, coming from a friend, shhhhhh. Just sit and look pretty. You come off like a bitch when you talk.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

List of necessities for Ex-Pats of Brazil

I wrote a smallish post on what to bring/how to be prepared for your move to Brazil.  I received a lot of great advice and comments from other bloggers/readers.  Check out the original post here:  Moving to Brazil? Some things to know

Anyway, I wanted to make an updated version in list form. The list is short and basic now. I hope all of you out there will help out again!  Let's help the future ex-Pats of Brazil!

Things to bring:

for Kids:
car seat
gear in general

zip lock baggies
rechargeable batteries
Mattress and box springs
Kitchen appliances - ie. blenders, toaster, etc
electronics - choose carefully and make sure they will work here

Beware of Cars in Rio!

I saved a woman's life yesterday!  Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.  I saved a woman's knee from getting bruised and possibly swollen yesterday!  See why I exaggerated.  Sounded so much better the first time.

I was waiting at the cross walk when a parked car started backing up.  There was a middle aged woman waiting and the car practically hit her. I yelled to her, she hit the car, and the driver drove away.  He was a inch away from her leg at that point. The kicker, he had plenty of space in front of him to pull out.  He didn't need to keep backing up.

So here's my tip, as a pedestrian, be scared of cars in Rio. They will hit you.  They will hit you and they will think it was your fault.  I almost got hit by a car while on the sidewalk with my boys in the Hulk (our double stroller).  We were cruising along and some bastard decided to pull out, he was parked on the sidewalk, and almost hit us.  My bad for not paying attention but I really didn't think I had to look out for cars on the sidewalk!  And what is with the obsession of backing up as far as possible when you have plenty of space in front?

So visitors and ex-Pats, know what Cariocas already know. They will hit you!  Be careful when you J-walk. We all do it but, again, I can't stress it enough that they will hit you should you not move fast enough. 

The only time a Carioca is not all Zen is when they are driving.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Maternity leave, right or privledge?

I'm a stay at home Mom so I don't get paid regardless, but I'm horrified by the US government's lack of care when it comes to new mothers.  In Brazil, you get 4 months of paid leave after having a baby.  Unknown to many, you can get something like an additional 15 days if you are breastfeeding.

So is it the government's job to help out in this way?  Just because we decided to procreate, the Man is supposed to open his pockets and help a girl out?

I think he should!  The first couple of months is very important in a baby's life for many reasons.  If you are breastfeeding, 4 months home will make a big difference in establishing milk supply.  It's also important for parent/child bonding.

In regards to work, I really don't understand why a place of employment would be so eager to have a sleep deprived Momma hanging out in the office. Just the hormone change alone will make you a cranky bastard. Add in sleep deprivation, aching for our little one(s), and the stress of working two jobs and you have a not so pleasant situation for everyone involved.

Yes, being a working mother means you have two jobs... that is, of course, unless you have a nanny. In that case you have a job and a half.

I also believe that Dads should get maternity leave for at least 2 weeks if not a month.  Let the Daddy be involved!  He also needs to bond, help out Momma, get his baby land legs.  A new baby takes team work.
Check out the table at NPR: . It's amazing how the US is the only industrialized country with unpaid leave. Hell, most of Africa has some sort of maternity leave benefits!  What do you guys think of this? Are you happy with your country's plan? Do you have maternity leave benefits envy? I know I do.

American Butt meet Brazilian Bikini

I used to be that Southern California girl who only went to the grocery store in my pajama pants.  Let's be honest, I would wear those bad boys anywhere I could manage. 

My husband informed me upon landing in the wonderful world of Rio de Janeiro, that jammie pants would have to remain inside from now on.  What? I didn't sign up for that kind of craziness.  That's when I realized not being able to wear my beloved snowflake pants were the least of my worries. It was hotter than hell and we were going to be spending every morning at the beach.

I was down to switch out my American style bikini and try a Brazilian one. I didn't think there would be much difference since I had bought a Brazilian style American bikini.  hahah right.  Anyway,  I started my mission, if I would choose to accept it.  And the mission was to blend in.  It was a tough one seeing that I was very blond and white at the time. In addition, I'm fairly tall.  I'm practically 5'10" and the Brazilians are about 4'7".  Ok, that's a gross generalization.  About 75% are 4'7". 

Thankfully I was already a big fan of large dangle earrings and waxing. I had been frequenting a "groomer" for quite some time. That was surprisingly important. 6 years ago, they didn't have the large bottom option for bikinis. The large bottom meaning a good 3 inches of material.  I was thankful that I was a young 23 and didn't have any babies.  I was embarrassed and felt a little slutty wearing the suit in the dressing room at that store but, with the encouragement of the sales person, I bought it anyway.

To say encouragement would be an understatement.  I barely opened the curtain for my husband . He thought it was too small for his wife! The salesgirl didn't. She whipped open the curtain and exclaimed to everyone that I HAD to have this suit and I have perfect body for it!  She dragged 4 other people over to confirm and then informed my husband that he was being prude. 

I was so nervous. We finally arrived at the beach and I pulled off my dress.  No one stared at me!  They stared when I had come in my American super suit with saggy butt large enough that it seemed to be full of something foul.  In the itsy bitsy one, I blended in!  Oh, and the tan lines were hot!

I've been a fan of the Brazilian bikini ever since. It's more durable than American versions and looks better. It actually fits us!  I love it! I do sport a more conservative bikini these days. Thankfully they are making a fuller butt version.  I tried to go back to the original after my 1st son was born but couldn't. I was losing money all over the place (butt crack exposed).  The tiny bikini is not meant for Mommies that play with their kids.  Don't worry, you can get a slightly larger version that's still sexy but will stay in place. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Prisoner in my own home!

 Miss, please put your foot up

I'm a prisoner in my own home! I hate being stuck in the house.  I know I'm whining. I'm over here playing the world's smallest violin for myself. I hate whining but I can't help it.

It's a beautiful day in Rio de Janeiro and my foot hurts and I can't walk that far.  My husband and oldest will be going to pick up vovô and vovó up at the airport.  I would, ideally, take my youngest out to the park but chasing after a 17 month old sounds like a no no right now. 

I need to get a cane. I think it'll make this week a lot easier if I can use one around the house. I'm gimping around all wrong and making the side of my bad foot and my hip hurt.  Hip you ask? I have a bad hip from my running days. I'm an 80 year old in an almost 30 yr old's body. Actually, it'd be a 30 year old in an almost 80 year old body that has had some work done.

I'm just hoping this toe heals straight. I'd hate to be more uncomfortable in heels than I already am. Not that I get to wear heels very often.  2 kids and cobblestone streets do not make my days very heel friendly.  Plus I have the bunion situation.  The beautiful knobs on the site of my feet not only pinch in heels but make little circles of wear and tear right over the site of said bunions.  It's like a little target saying, Hi world I'm here.

Holy crap, look at what my cabin fever has brought me to do. I'm personifying my bunions. Wait a second, what am I saying?  I would do that normally.  Actually, normally I'd have come up with something cleverer.

If I start writing about hair ribbons and floor polish, someone please come and put me out of my misery!

On a good note, I have a friend's birthday party tonight so I'll literally get some wine with my whine! Something tells me I'll stop whining after some wine and, hopefully, not hurt myself further!

Saci Mommy?

My 3 year old is always full of wisdom. He surprised me this morning with the solution to my broken toe problem.

He had just strolled out of his room after waking up.  Maybe it came to him in a dream. Upon seeing me in the living room, Luka told me, plain and simple, that he knew how to fix my foot.  "Mommy, you need to just cut off that leg".  Well that sure is an interesting solution.  He continued, "You can hop around on one foot and be like Saci Perere".

Ok, I now I get where it came from!  Saci (pronounced Saucy) Perere is a very traditional character in Brazilian folklore. Every preschool in Rio de Janiero tells Saci Perere stories. My In-laws even have a Saci Perere magnet on their fridge.

Saci Perere is a little prankster. He has a magic cap and pipe and can disappear and reappear.  He doesn't do anything serious but will pull any sort of little annoying prank.  The little guy was born with one leg and hops around like a pro.  I think that is where Luka's 3 year old logic comes in.

I almost forgot, he has a magic cap and a pipe.  It's funny how in Brazil the story is about a one legged prankster, who wears a smelly cap, and smokes a pipe.  Maybe he's Paul Bunyan's 2nd cousin twice removed!

Here's the wikipedia info on Saci:

An incorrigible prankster, the Saci will not cause major harm, but there is no little harm that he won't do. He will hide children's toys, set farm animals loose, tease dogs, and curse chicken eggs preventing them from hatching. In the kitchen, the Saci would spill all salt, sour the milk, burn the bean stew, and drop flies into the soup. If a popcorn kernel fails to pop, it is because the Saci cursed it. Given half a chance, he will dull the seamstress's needles, hide her thimbles, and tangle her sewing threads. If he sees a nail lying on the ground, he will turn it with the point up. In short, anything that goes wrong — in the house, or outside it — may be confidently blamed on the Saci. For more check out: Wikipedia

No worries though, I informed Luka that I won't be cutting off my leg anytime soon. I'm kind of attached.  ohhhh, bad one Rachel

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Baby Toe Rebels

I woke up this morning and thought, what a beautiful day to go to the hospital.  Not so much, but I went anyway.   

I was rushing around in my normal crazy morning fashion, it's feira day in my neighborhood and I wanted to get there and back before my husband left for work.  It's easier to go without both kids.

I turned the corner into the hallway and stubbed the hell out of my baby toe! Crap!  It hurts like a bitch when you do that.  The baby toes is like an angry Catholic Grandmother, sweet and quiet until you cross her! 

So I do this all the time with my same toe and the same door frame. It's in a small hallway we have from our dinning room into one of the bedrooms.  The only purpose of the wall is to hold a built-in closet. The door frame is the one from the hallway into the room.  I was already at the point that I wanted to just rip out the frame and wall attached but if I did, I'd lose some of the little closet space I have in my apartment. Toe or closet?  Hmmm, going to have to go with closet. Yes, the storage situation in Brazilian apartments is that bad. 

Maybe my baby toe heard this mental discussion.  Are baby toes in tap with our brains? 

I had cursed so loudly that Daniel asked what happened.  Oh, I just stubbed my toe again, and then I look down in reference and saw it.  I didn't remember my toe being perpendicular to the other toes...

So off to the hospital.   

I got out the door and to the hospital. It went kind of like this. I went to the ER and they directed me to orthopedics.  It's down the hall on the other side of the hospital. Ok.  I got to orthopedics and was told I needed an x-ray but first some fun. I had to get the bone reset.

I'm no wuss when it comes to pain but let me tell you, I'd prefer to do another C-section than feel that again! It took 3 excruciating times to get it in place. I needed a glass of whiskey and a cigarette after that!  And I'm no whiskey drinker!

So got it in place and I'm off to x-ray. Just walk back down to the other side of the hospital and it's on the first floor. Thankfully they had an elevator.

Here's where my Portuguese failed me. The x-ray tech told me to go wait for the x-rays in orthopedics. That's what I understood anyway.  I walked all the way back to ortho just to be told to go back and pick up my x-ray.  At least I got to stop and pick up a coffee on the way. 

So I'm all taped up and ready to go. 1 month in tape and weekly visits to get it changed. I broke it clear in half. I don't do things half assed, do I.  Just a little reminder to readers out there, don't take the baby toe for granted. Give it the respect it deserves. If you don't, the little bastard just may give in when it hits something just to teach you a lesson. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's a beautiful day to Protest

I headed out to take my oldest to school this afternoon and was greeted by a herd of people. Nothing like a good march down a busy street in the middle of the day.  Add a truck with speakers, police escorts, and about 200 people and you have yourself a fairly common sight on Rua das Laranjeiras.

It's protest time!  Who is it today? The public students? The public sanitation workers?  The public secretaries?  The public teachers? The guess is yours but it's pretty safe to say it's in the public sector.

I'm just lucky to live near the governor's office,  Palacio da Guanabara, on Pinheiro Machado.  People love to organize protests about once every 4 to 6 months. They walk from Largo do Machado, up Rua das Laranjeiras, to Pinheiro Machado and sit infront chanting.  The whole thing takes about an hour. The very persistent groups will stay there for much longer, much to the distress of everyone sitting in their cars waiting.

What I've always wondered is why they choose to do it between noon and 1pm.  First off, it's hotter than hell in the summer. If they keep it up, someone will be getting skin cancer on their nose.  I bet the Governor isn't even there. I bet he's just like the majority of high level public workers and is on his 4 hour lunch.  They should head down to the boteco (small dive bar) down the street and meet him there.

And what are the public workers protesting about?  I can understand the Public student protesting. The government gives the schools little money and, especially in the Universities, the teachers/professors go on strike a lot.  I had a UFRJ professor as an English student at one point.  At the time, he had started to stand against the strikes. The university had closed enough times, due to professor strikes, that it was getting impossible for the students to finish the semester. They hadn't had enough class time to cover the material.

As for the others, I'm sure they have just cause. It's just hard to remember that when you think about the fact that they can't get fired. They can't get fired! That's just craziness!  Of course it's because of corruption and people firing people to hire friends and family members. I get where it came from.  But it's still crazy. I know a judge who took 2 years off to raise her child, was paid for the first year, and had her position held for her until she came back after an additional year off.

If you took the lump sum of what someone in Brazil pays in taxes, their entire salary from January through May would go to the government.  June through December is ours.  Where is that money going?  I'd just like to see things done a little more efficiently down here. Then again, if everything was efficient it wouldn't be Brazil. If it wasn't Brazil, I wouldn't live here.  Well, as it turns out, I don't know what the hell I want.  And I just discovered a reason to protest! 

Just found out it was the professors (educational professionals) protesting!  Schools out!  Globo

World Cup conspiracy theories

I'm American so I'm not as hooked into World Cup news as some other people. Imagine my surprise with the pediatrician's secretary started spouting out conspiracy theories. A little research later and I found this page. It was written the last WC but gives some food for thought:

Full post goes like this (verbatim):
Well, I think I told you before this is another very doubtful WC and unfortunately I was right
Before you start blaming Pareira, Ronaldinho and everyone else, just consider a few facts:
1986 was arguably the last real WC we saw; by “real” I mean not orchestrated by any means
then came 1990 and it was in Italy and of course, Italy should have won, they were hosts, etc, etc,, but there came the bad Argentines and stole the show; after that they got tough time – Maradona’s suspension, tough draw in last World Cups and so on
1994 the WC was in USA, far away from Europe and while almost everybody in Europe was sleeping and not watching, Brazil won
also in 1994 the big money came; just a reminder that after that the champions have been alternating between Nike and Adidas (this year it’s going to be Adidas)
1998 it was in France, the French build new nice stadiums and they won; what a surprise!?
2002 it was again far away from Europe, again few watched and quietly and peacefully Brazil won
now it’s 2006 and the French scenario is back – again we see a lot of new stadiums, a lot of money invested, even the ball is called “Teamspirit” (which is the only thing the current German squad can offer)…
what if Brazil had won – you know what happened in Formula 1 when Schumacher was winning a title after title; total lost of interest in the races followed; same would happen with the WC; it is often misthought that Brazil has the most supporters and FIFA is interested in them winning; it’s quite the opposite – no more than 10% of the fans worldwide support Brazil while the rest (and especially in Europe where most of FIFA’s revenues come from) hate them. Conclusion: the Hexa is bad for the WC and FIFA
There’s been a lot of talk that Nike dictates the starting 11 and this is the reason we see the veterans there; totally wrong – with all the Joga Bonito hype, Nike has no interest in Brazil playing ugly as they did in this WC. Nike is not stupid and I’m sure they know Robinho and Cicinho playing will result in Joga Bonito on the field. Moreover, most of the Joga Bonito ads had Robinho on them, not Ronaldo.
Pareira is also not stupid at all, he won in ‘94 and he benched Rai then so don’t thin he doesn’t know a squad with the younger players that played on Confederations Cup is better. The problem is that such a squad will just be uncontrollable and would thrash any opponent and the real goal was to keep the team on a leash and not allow it to play.
Which was confirmed by tommorow’s match. Did you see what Brazil did after France scored?? Any team would start to attack and hurry up. They were simply not really attacking. Cafu was substituted and he walked out of the field as it was 3:0 for Brazil…
They never sped it up.
It was the 89th minute and Roberto Carlos was walking with the ball in his own half instead of running in the French half and attacking.
After a match they lost players usually cry, I didn’t see that, some were even smiling (!!!)
I don’t believe all this was real.
Brazil has been eliminated before but it always happened after a hard fought match and a spectacular performance from Brazil (82, 86, 90…) Now they didn't want to play; the whole tournament
Some more food for thought:
William Hill announced that 70% of the betting were for a Brazil title…
Bekenabuer announced yesterday he doesn’t want to become FIFA president. So the title goes to Europe, Blatter gets all the European votes, Brazil gets the 2014 WC and everybody is happy…
and no, I am not crazy at all, this is a multi-billion dollar business so don’t expect it to be decided by 22 men and a ball.
Here's the link to the blog World Cup blog

I also found this interesting article on the NY times website

What do you guys think? Think it's a legit or fixed?

What is a spouse?

I started thinking this evening, while my husband was working late, what is a spouse?  There's this sense that it's that person you love and you decide you don't want to see anyone else.  Is that it?

I beg to differ.  A spouse, a real husband or wife, is so much more.  You are the one that receives the other at the end of each night. Every evening, when they return from the war of the world, you take them in. It doesn't matter if they won or lost, if they were profitable or not.  You take them as they are.

When you say your vows, you are essentially saying that you'll accept them as people. You won't judge every action or punish them for change.  You will see them for who they are, even if that's as far from the person you married as possible. We change. Life changes us.  Ideally it changes us for the better.

When my husband brought me to Brazil for the first time we had been married for 2 months or so.  I was 23 years old. I thought I knew everything. I knew nothing.  My poor husband. I was a very sheltered and innocent little girl.  And I rebelled. I rebelled against being sheltered, I rebelled against Portuguese, I rebelled against my husband.  He had a cross to bare and it was me.

Almost 7 years later, I'm a shell of the person I once was.  Don't get me wrong, the shell is the good part of who I was.  It's the essence of me, the rest is what developed once I opened my eyes.  The rest is what happened when I stopped being scared of the world.  I never even knew I was scared.

I'll never forget when my now husband told me he loved me shortly after coming up to San Diego, as his family tells me now, to get his future wife.  I asked him why he loved me (it had been all of 2 weeks or so).  He told me he loved me for the woman I would become.  In all my immaturity I was angry and scared.  What about the woman I am now?  He was and is a smart man. He never pointed out that I wasn't quite a woman yet.  He just told me that he could see the womanly greatness that will come out of me.  I didn't get it.

I get it now.  I am lucky to be able to say that I married a partner, not a spouse or a husband, a partner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mother of the Year?

I'm so not winning Mother of the Year this year. Ok, so maybe I'm being a little hard on myself. I won't be winning Mother of the day.

It started when I showed up at my pre-schooler's school for what they call "officina".  Basically, the parents go and help get all the arts ready for the festa Junina they are planning in a couple of weeks (see: Festa Junina). My husband had read the little note in Luka's agenda and told me I needed to go today.  I brought my toddler, because I had no one to leave him with, and headed over at 4pm. I got there and when I saw Luka I told him he couldn't come do the project with me. Fit, fit and then I realized that he was supposed to come and do it with me. Oops.  Missed that. No biggie.

We got to our spot with the other parents and kids and waited. They brought the design for the t-shirt we were making and I waited for them to bring the shirt.  At this point my toddler was getting anxious so one of the helpers took him over to the playground. Luka and I continued to wait. My toddler was then brought back to me screaming. Someone missed Mommy and he sat with us.

I was trying to entertain Luka sitting next to me and Rafa in my lap when a huge box full of stuff behind me was knocked over. Oops again. It was Rafa.  He had reached over my shoulder and pulled it down, and out went everything that was inside.

I was assured it was ok and then was asked, "where's Luka's shirt to paint?".  I told them I hadn't been given one yet. I got the 'Oh I feel so sorry for you' look and then was told, by Luka's teacher, that I was supposed to bring it. Rafa was crying and whining again at this point, Luka was whining and asking why he wasn't painting with his friends and their Mommies, and I felt like a big pile of crap.  I looked at Luka, trying to make it into something fun instead of a Mommy blew it moment, and told him we were going to leave school early and go buy some new paint and paint at home! So much fun! He didn't see it.

Long story short, we left and got paint. My poor disappointed pre-schooler totally took advantage and asked to get one of the treats they sell at the gas station near my house.  I shelled out R$8.10 for a lollipop.  It is a Batman lollipop, is the size of his forearm, and lights up like a flashlight so I could see it being R$5 but R$8?!  I bought it. He's eating it. I'd never have let him have something like that in a different situation. Good for him for negotiating well, if you can call it that.  On the bright side, I had no arguments about him eating the "green stuff" on his dinner plate. He had to in order to get the lollipop afterward.

Side note of things that made me feel like crap:  Went to the pediatrician to make sure my toddler's bronchitis is just that. He gave me a cough syrup to give him at night. He said he doesn't normally do that but it seems like I need it. Rafa obviously wasn't sleeping well at night.  Apparently I look tired. Thank you charming pediatrician, (Charming pediatrician) I think I'm going to have to take that title away from you now.

Slow walkers beware!

Cariocas are a special breed of slow walkers.  They've mastered the slow walk and then designated it as below them.  But, you may ask, how do you develop something even more annoying than the slow walker?

I'll tell you. You know the phenomenon that is the zig zag walker.  Well, the Cariocas have patented the slow walking zig zagger.  Oh yes.  It does exist and it's right here in Rio de Janeiro.

You're cruising along with your stroller and get caught behind an obvious slow walker. Thankfully you're on a rare large sidewalk so you decide to try to pass and the WAM BAM, they are in front of you again!  How did that happen? Dare I say, it was a zag.  That 60 + year old lady just zagged your ass and she's damn proud of it.  Go on, try to pass her and she'll do it again. And if you manage to get past the slow walking zig zagger, even if you do it without cutting them off, you'll get a dirty look.  You might as well have ran over their heel, you'll get the same dirty look either way.

I have fallen victim to many slow walking zig zaggers of all ages and races.  The SWZZ does not discriminate.  I have found a weapon to combat it. It's called the huge double stroller. I named it The Hulk.  The Hulk is full of about 50 pounds of childhood ammo and I drive that thing around like a Brazilian bus driver.  You heard it here first, you SWZZ my ass and I'll take you down!  

Here's a link to another blog discussing the slow walking phenomenon in Barcelona: Woolgathering

Moving to Brazil? Some things to know

I got an email from an American Mom of a toddler who's moving to Rio de Janeiro.  It got me thinking of tips.  What does the American Mom moving to Rio with their pre-schooler/toddler/baby need to know?

First off, bring toys!  Pay the extra baggage cost and stuff a suitcase full. Better yet, buy a container and fill her up!  The good quality toys that we are accustomed to buying for $30 are R$150 to $300.  Buy some for the next age group or next bday just to cover your toosh. And have no shame in buying toys online and having them delivered to relatives or family who are coming to visit.

Bring clothes. Kids clothes are also expensive and are not the same quality.  This stands for all seasons except summer. Summer is HOT down here and I prefer Brazilian made summer clothes. They are a made of a much lighter cotton.

Bring some of your little guy's favorite snacks. When you travel, it's always an adjustment. For example, you can get something called honey ohs here but you can't get Cheerios. They taste different.  Bring some extra to help cushion the change.

Be prepared to cook from scratch.  If you or your little one have any  sort of special diet, look into it now. You can find a lot of stuff down here but there are some little things you may have wished you brought. For example, if you or your kid has Celiac disease (Gluten allergy), a friend of mine told me there's an ingredient you need to make your own bread that is difficult to find here.  While I'm helpful, I'm not that helpful because I can't remember what it is for the life of me.  Side note, in Brazil, all food products have to say with Gluten or Gluten free.  Makes things a lot easier.

If you or your little one use a certain medication or homeopath medication, bring extra until you can find it or the equivalent here.

If you are a stroller user, make sure you have one that can handle going up and down curbs and over bumps. We have a lot in Rio.

That reminds me, bring baby gear. Make sure your car seat will work for a while, bring a breast pump or monitor, bouncer, swing, anything and everything you plan on using.  We have it here but, again, it's expensive and you don't get the variety of choices you have at home.

Bring books and think about getting a magazine subscription. You can get some choice magazine subscriptions sent to your home in Rio. It's amazing what a favorite magazine or good book can do for homesickness.

Bring your blender, sandwich maker, food processor, or any kitchen appliance you love.  Bring it!  I brought my blender/food processor. I love it and I use it all the time!  I replaced the crappy plastic one I had bought here.

Get maid recommendations from other ex-pats or Brazilian friends.  A maid can make a lifetime of a difference even if they only come once a week.  This city is surprisingly dusty and mold grows like crazy!  A good maid can keep everything under control so you don't go nuts trying to do it yourself. And be prepared. You will get used to a whole new level of clean! I swear, in some apartments you could do surgery.  Plus your maid can cook some food for you and your family. My maid, Soccorro, comes twice a week. She cooks a meal both days and makes backup black beans that I store in my freezer and take out when I need them.

That's all that I can get out of my exhausted Mommy head at the moment. What tips do you ex-pats in Brazil have?  What questions do you future ex-pats of Brazil have?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Can you feel it! Can you feel it!

 <--- My Brazil bling

The energy is palpable.  It's flowing into my apartment from the streets.  Rua das Laranjeiras is full of cars and people heading to their individual game destinations. One thing is for sure, the country is ready to stop and cheer on their team.

I'm no soccer expert but I am worried about this game.  I heard the North Koreans have been practicing up in the mountains so that their bodies require less oxygen when they play.  I really doubt the Brazilian team has been doing that.  For starters, a lot of them are big money players in Europe.  The talk around here is that moving to European teams ruin Brazilian players. They play for the money after that, not the heart of the sport.

Our team this year is quite defensive for a Brazilian team.  Kaka will be our play maker... That worries me.  He wouldn't even take off his pants for Vanity Fair. Where's the heart in that?  Take off your pants for Brazil!  Ok, maybe I just wanted to see him in his boxer briefs, but do you really blame me?

In the end, they are Brazil!  And I hope they remember that! Let's pull a Germany and kick some serious North Korean 나귀, 고집쟁이(ass)!

C'mon now tell me....
Can you feel it,
Can you feel it,
Can you feel it!

The hills are alive with the sound of music

I'm super excited today. I'm as excited as a girl who knows she's going to have her cherry popped tonight after Prom.  Ok, not really. I don't think that girl is excited at all.

Point being, Brazil plays this afternoon!  I woke up in such a good mood that I had the coffee made and Pão na Chapa (small french bread pan fried in butter) finished before any requests were even made. 

I am planning to take my boys to the good park that is a 15 minute walk from my house. They need to play and run and climb.  I need to tire these little men out so that they'll play inside later without complaining.

I also have food to make.  We have friends coming over! I love having friends over!  It's the best of both worlds. I get to socialize with other adults who's company I enjoy while my kids are in their own environment.  At home I know where my little climber can get into trouble and my big sassy one can entertain himself.  .

So I baked my Brazilian M&M cookies (made with yellow and green M&Ms) last night. I had to wait until last minute or there wouldn't be any left. I think we've already managed to eat a third of them this morning.  The carrots and celery are washed and cut, ready for the veggie platter which will also include cherry tomatoes.  My maid who comes on Mondays made some Brazilian pudding which is basically the same thing as Mexican flan.  That leaves the cake, popcorn, and stromboli to be made.  I would explain what stromboli is but it's my first time making it so I really don't know how it is or how it'll turn out. I'm hopeful though.  Anything with pepporoni and cheese will at least be eatable.  And last but not least, Pão de queso.

Oh wow, I need to go. I think I smell my youngest's diaper from the other room.  Seriously.  I'm in the dining room and he's in the playroom. I'm almost afraid to go in.  Oh well, let's get this party started!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Facebook Exclusion Theory

I'm loving the Facebook exclusion that's going on nowadays.  At the beginning everyone was accepting everyone.  Oh I think you're the second cousin of my ex-girlfriend's dog groomer, let's be friends.

I can't say I'm much better. I have 700+ Facebook friends. I do know all of them. You ask me and I can tell you how I know whichever person you point out. That does not mean I have an intimate relationship with that person.  For example, I'm friends with the social director from the trip my husband and I took with friends to Chillán, Chile in 2007.  I did see her daily for 10 fun filled days!

What I think is so funny is being dropped as a friend. Oh, I'm being exclusive now.  Not VIP? No entry.  It's a social website for heaven's sake. If you're going to only let your close circle be your friend on Facebook why have it? You see them every day!  You are posting photos you got off their camera. They've seen them, they know what you are up to, they were there.

I do know one person who did the opposite. They excluded anyone that they saw somewhat regularly. That, of course, did not count their best friends, family, spouse, spouse's family, and spouse's best friend. Again, I don't really get the point.  Is it cooler to say you have 50 friends and you chose them carefully?  I don't think so. I also don't think it's cool to have 1,000 friends including that creepy stalker guy that keeps asking you what color you've painted your toe nails recently.

I just don't get all the thought put into it. It's Facebook. A social  network.  

Personally, I'm a Facebook addict. I love it.  All my friends outside of Brazil can follow my family and I on it. Saves me from writing those annoying bulk emails.

And I don't accept just anyone. If I see your friend request and I don't recognize you, I ask how I know you.  It's not like people are lining up around the corner to be my Facebook friend. If it comes to any sort of doubt, I don't add you.  I put family photos up, no pervs need apply. 

I find it cool that I have met 700 + people and I know who they are. I find it even cooler that I've met 700 + people and they know who I am!   I think it's amazing that people follow my life in Rio de Janeiro, that they are curious enough to spend those 5 minutes looking at my 1,000 photos.  I'm not exaggerating, I post A LOT of photos on Facebook. 

So we've left the 6th grade to find ourselves in the 6th grade of Facebook. The difference, no one except the excluder cares.  Good for you for having the time to filter your friends in such a detailed and thoughtful way!  Have at it!  Just know that I have a good laugh when I look up at that little box in the upper right hand corner, the one that says "Friend Recommendation", and I see you.  Opps, I already thought we were, my bad.

I miss Candy

I hate Brazilian Candy. It sucks. I'm sorry but I come from the Candy Land.  It pains me to think of my kids not recognizing the bazillion different candies in the 300 candy isles at Target.  And at Easter! Sure the HUGE chocolate eggs are cool but where are the peeps, the good jelly beans, the Cadbury cream eggs, Reeses peanut butter eggs, and robin eggs? 

I had a serious candy addiction back in the day.  I saw a homeopath once and she told me that my body had a sugar addiction.  I had been trying to cut back but physically felt ill.  I took some homeopathic meds but it didn't help. I was back on the candy horse.

Brazil broke my habit. When I came a little over 4 years ago, you couldn't really get American candy excluding chocolate.  I'm not a huge simple chocolate bar fan. I like them like my men, simple on the outside but hot, creamy, and full of nuts in the middle.  Ok, that last part was a bit dirty but you catch my drift.

One special day I found Nerds at my local supermarket.  I loved Nerds as a kid but hadn't really eaten them as an adult.  A box of tiny multi-colored booger looking things aren't really a mature candy. The little baby inside my belly had different plans. I took those Nerds home for a whopping R$10 ($5.55) for a small box.  It was oh so good!

I've adjusted now. I like jujubas (gumdrops). I'll eat baton (a chocolate lipstick).  All and all though, I've left behind candy and snacks. I've moved on to food!  Brazilians know how to do food. Who knew ground beef could taste so damn good?  Who knew you could use 12 cloves of garlic when cooking and not be overwhelmed? And beans, I never would have believed you if you told me that I'd manage to eat black beans at least 4 times a week.

So I gave up candy and my chip habit is all but gone too.  I am happy to say that you can now get big bags of chips down here! It used to only be the little lunch sized bags.  I was horrified when my Mother-in-Law pulled out one of those tiny bags out for everyone to share.  I'm American, that little bag is like a sip of water to my chip appetite.

Oh well, who knew switching from processed snack foods and candies to fruits, vegetables, free range meat, and legumes would be such a good thing. Ok, anyone with an ounce of brain but I didn't really believe them until I tried. 

On a side note: I do bring back certain snack/food items from home.
Licorice (never will be able to give up this habit)
Maple syrup
Peanut butter
Baking soda
Packets of taco seasoning
Packets of powdered Turkey gravy
Tea (tea down here is very weak)
Lawrys seasoning salts (amazing on popcorn!)

to name a few.  What can't you live without?

Married a Brazilian?

 Just a little tip for those of you who married a Brazilian in your home country and are now moving to Brazil.  I'm a little out of the loop because I did my entire process years ago but I doubt they've changed it much. If they have, they've only made it more complicated.

Anyway, my tip is to go to your closest Brazilian consulate with your marriage certificate, birth certificate, and any other important document you may need here.  I spent a lot of money and time having official translations done (and they have to be official and are expensive) and then getting those official translations plus my documents certified as legitimate. I was told at one point that I could have saved myself the hassle by just going to the Brazilian Consulate in LA (I'm from San Diego) and getting a stamp. A stamp!

My husband and I married in San Diego but marriages from the US are not considered legal here.  I had to get re-married to my husband in Brazil. Doesn't sound like a big deal but it is.  They wouldn't accept any of my American documents without them being translated and verified. At the time I had to go all the way to Ilha de Governador to get them verified.

Once you manage to get all the paperwork done, you have to go back and have your names put in an official paper for a month before you can marry.

This is only the beginning of the officials!  Everything has to be "official".   Hell, you can't even sign a document most of the time without having to go to a Cartório and getting an official stamp saying you signed it. How do you get that stamp? You register at the Cartório with ID. You sign a bunch of papers and each time you get your signature officiated they check it.  Apparently they are experts.

Anyway, call the Brazilian Consulate. That, in and of itself, may be a pain in the butt but it's a much smaller one than dealing with it here!

Putting it into perspective, I think I've killed about 25 trees getting copies and translations and dropping them off at all the different offices around the city. They know me at the Federal Police now.  We're brothers from another Mother.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The evil TV

I went to a wonderful brunch this morning and I noticed an important piece of furniture missing from the living room, the TV.

That got me thinking, how did the TV get such a bad rep?  I know there's a whole anti-tv movement but where did it come from? Is it a backlash from families watching in the 1950s?  Kid watching in the 60s?  TVs being on all over the nation all the time in the 80s and 90s. I blame Mtv and rap. I just had to throw that last one in there. 

But why hate television? What did it ever do to you? Why is it "bad" for our children.  I understand if the parents don't enjoy TV but why deprive their kids. I don't particularly like yogurt but I let my 3 year old eat it.  You must understand, I'm a TV person. I like TV. I like turning it on for my kids to watch. I like that it babysits them for free for a good 30 minutes while I get dinner started and the laundry done. 

The bigger question is why is it considered bad?  I strongly agree that kids shouldn't be inside all day glued to the television.  Video games, another TV related issue, should not be the main form of entertainment.  On the other hand, having your kids in 10 different activities, such as: singing class, judo, cheer, tap, violin, Spanish and so on, isn't healthy either. Kids are not executives and shouldn't have 12 out of the 24 hrs a day scheduled with activities.  They need the downtime just like we do. 

When we're at home the TV is on at least half the time if not more.  I'd say at least half of that time, my boys aren't even paying attention to it.  They are excellent independent players. They play blocks, do puzzles, play playdoh, pretend play, look at books, etc etc. 

As for the intelligence thing, that's just a big old load of stinky poo. The TV doesn't make your kids stupid.  Your kid is either a little stupid or you need to actually spend some time playing with them. Playing is an excellent opportunity for learning.  

I know, I know, I can be a bit of a Snatch.  Your kid isn't stupid, just special. wink wink

Kids are like little molds of clay or monkeys, if you will.  You play and teach.  Later, you get them started on an activity, stay there for 15 to 20 minutes, and walk away. Let's be honest, we parents don't have the luxury of spending the day playing and we're not doing them any service by trying to. They need to learn to play on their own. 

For those of you who are going to use my clay/monkey logic against me, yes I will let the TV mold my boys a bit. I think Dora and Diego rock, Steve and Blue have a good thing going, and Mickey's Clubhouse is just plain cool.   You aren't going to convince me, I'm a TV person. We go way back to the neighborhood if you know what I mean.

Disclaimer:  My youngest is at the park twice a day during the week and my oldest once because he spends the afternoon at school. Balance.  Kids need to get outside too

Saturday, June 12, 2010

USA vs England

So today is the day!  Our first game and it's with England. I'm not too hopeful, then again, I am.  My British friend told me that the England team sucks this year.  My husband told me that the US team is pretty good (yeah yeah, I should know that on my own).

If I put those together: England team sucks + US team is pretty good = we have a chance!

Then comes problem number 2. We have another festa Junina party at 4pm. The game is at 3:30 here in Rio de Janeiro!  If we hadn't spent all morning inside, I'd say the kids could just play in the house. I think, in the interest of my family, I'm going to have to suck it up and go to the Festa Junina party.  I'm pretty sure there will be a tv somewhere in the Fluminense club to see the score.  This is Brazil after all.

More math: Brazil (more specifically Rio de Janeiro) + the World Cup = TVs everywhere playing ALL games, especially Brazil games.

Regardless, I'm going to raid my closet for red, white, and blue and wear flip flops so my fabulous American toe flags will be on display for all to see.  Will someone please remind me to bring US flags, shirts, etc for the World Cup in 2014!

Happy Brazilian Valentines Day

Dia dos Namorados is upon us folks.  It's a day of romance with ugly corny little pillows from Lojas Americanas (smaller brazilian version of target) and festa Junina parties.  I'm having party sensory overload between Valentines day, the world cup, and festa Junina.  Personally, I think this Dia dos Namorados (boyfriend/girlfriend day) will be spent watching soccer.  Anywhere else in the world, this would be a problem. But we're in Brazil! Soccer is a sport for all occasions!


Friday, June 11, 2010

The smell of Rio de Janeiro

I was walking to a friend's house with my boys this evening when I smelled it.  I smelled the smell of Rio de Janeiro. No, not urine soaked streets or beer filled bums, the smell of the city.  It was for only a second, like when you think you smell the cologne or perfume of someone you once knew. A whiff...

The smell of a city is a strange and amazing thing.  It's something only the foreigner notices at the beginning of their journey.  It goes as quickly as it came.  The nose has the amazing ability to adapt to new smells, don't you think? 

A city's smell is a combination of things: the streets, the people, the vegetation, the food, the soil, the rain, the sun, and the food venders. Can't forget the venders.  

I can't smell Rio de Janeiro anymore.  I live here now.  My nose is accustomed to the rare and beautiful accumulation of exotic scents.

But after a long, sad flight home, leaving my family and friends behind in the states, the smell of Rio de Janeiro makes me smile. I look forward to those first few moments after walking out of customs.  It runs over me like a curtain you choose to walk through, letting it slide up your legs, caressing your torso, and finally over your head. 

You know what, Rio de Janeiro, the real Rio de Janeiro, smells so good.

Pregnant and drinks?

I ran into this article about having an occasional drink while pregnant:  Pregnant? Have a drink

I'd have to say I was pretty anal during my first pregnancy. Of course I also had a strong adversion to alcohol for the first 6 months.  I couldn't even smell it on my husband without wanting to vomit.  It was one of my pregnancy symptoms. I went for a beer before I knew I was preggers and couldn't even take a sip.  Everyone knew that was weird. What? Rachel can't drink beer or wine???? Something is wrong or oh so right.

I was much mellower during my second pregnancy.  I allowed myself a glass of wine a couple of times a week.  My OB didn't see anything wrong with it.  Hell, it saved me when I was 5 months pregnant and my husband suffered from a spontaneous pneumothorax.  He walked, yes walked, to the ER down the street with a collapsed lung only to find out that he would have died if he had waited one more day.  He had been feeling bad for about 2 days and spiked a fever that morning. I made him go in and check it out. Since his lung had been collapsed for so long, he had developed bacterial pneumonia. 

Thank goodness my mother was visiting. I ran down to the hospital as soon as his mother called and told me what was going on.  His parents had taken him because he had refused to go to the hospital. So I called his Mom. She's Brazilian, drove the hour and a half into the city and took him herself. 

I started having some pretty strong braxton hicks contractions and they wouldn't stop. I finally went home because I wasn't allowed in the ER pregnant.  I arrived home to a big old glass of wine. Contractions stopped. 

I also ate sushi while pregnant with both boys. As my OB pointed out, what do you think they eat in Japan while pregnant.  She said the risk was no greater than it was before pregnancy and to just eat at reputable places.  Done and done. 

All and all my boys came out just fine.  Hell, if every sip of alcohol was harmful to the baby, all kids born in the 30s, 40s, and 50s would be retarded.  It's all about balance. No binge drinking, 1 glass.  Don't go and eat raw fish with a fisherman fresh out of the water, in the sand on the beach.  No smoking.  Don't do heroine.  Yes you can carry your older child around. Their weight is not going to push the other one out of your vagina. If it were that easy C-sections wouldn't exist.

Breath! You're not sick. You're pregnant.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smokin' Grandma

There are a fair amount of Grandmas in Rio de Janeiro that help with the Grandkids. You can see them pushing them in strollers, picking them up from school, and every other activity imaginable. 

What I like is the difference between Granny and Mommy. Granny doesn't care about nearly as many things as Mommy. I've seen Granny stop at first wine to get that lollipop.  I saw a Granny this evening walking about 2 steps in front of her Grandkids as they were attempting to walk and smack each other at the same time.  She didn't intervene, she just looked back occasionally to make sure they were still following.  You see them walking the 90 degree streets with newborns bundled up as if they were in Antartica. With all this they still manage time to tell you that you are too skinny, fat, tired, a bad mother, etc.

The Grannies of Rio de Janeiro are a special breed. 

My all time favorite Granny happened upon me as I was walking my son to school today.  She stopped mid sidewalk to light her cigarette.  Another not too uncommon sighting here.  What made this cigarette lighting special was that she stopped to light her cigarette right before a gas station. Yes, she stopped right in front of it, lit her cigarette, and the cut threw the middle of the gas station smoking.  Now that is a Grandma that really does not give a damn!

Note to self: Do not google Grandma smoking unless you want to get an eyeful of Granny va ja ja