Friday, July 30, 2010

Even the crazies are helpful in Rio de Janeiro

My boys and I went on a supermarket run to the Zona Sul this morning.

We were waiting for the light to change to cross the street when a totally crazy bum walked up to us.  He had noticed my youngest's super blond hair and then became intrigued with both boys.

Fair enough, he seemed crazy but not dangerous. He came up and said hello to the boys while keeping a respectful distance.  This kind of thing doesn't really bother me as long as the crazies respect our space. Bums are people too and it's good for my boys to learn to be polite to everyone.

Well, Crazy, as I'm going to refer to him, saw that we were waiting to cross and decided to take it upon himself to stop traffic for us. I said no no, really you don't need to. He disagreed. Luka called to him and told him that he couldn't go into the street until the light was red. 

Crazy thought that was really funny and turned to Luka every few seconds just to say, It's ok Ref, It's ok. 

So cars are zooming around him as he is enthusiastically putting up the international hand signal for stop.  Funny thing about Carioca drivers is that they are used to this kind of thing and can swerve around people without even slowing down.  I don't know how, but after a couple of minutes he actually managed to stop traffic. 

I didn't know what to do. Should you encourage Crazy? He was only trying to help. I hesitated and he told us "quick quick. Go go.  It's ok Ref".  You can't fight Crazy with logic so I crossed just to get him out from the middle of the street.  The light changed the moment we were on the other side. 

At the very least, the people J walking down the street got a big kick out of it.  I guess the good samaritan bum isn't something you see every day here. 

Rice, the Original Brazilian Wife

If you had asked me 8 years ago if rice made the world go round, I would have said no. Rice? Sure it's good stuff but I hardly eat it.

Oh how Rachel's life has changed.  I moved to Brazil and realized that rice was my husband's first and, very attached, wife.

Rice and I are on a first named basis now. I spend at least 30 minutes with her twice a day.  I wash her, season her, and cook her.  Heaven forbid we don't have any made in the house.  It'll be mutiny.

I'm just amazed by the power of this carbohydrate. My husband will complain at virtually every meal I make without rice.  Even lasagna needs rice on the side.

And I have to say, my children are being raised the in the same manner.  No matter the situation, I can always get some rice in them. 

So rice, it was a little touch and go in the beginning.  But now, I think, we'll have a beautiful and lifelong friendship.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

International Mom tips for the new Mom

My husband's cousin is having a baby the middle of August. As a part of her baby shower, her friends are asking for tips from friends and family to give her as a surprise. The kicker is that she is Brazilian living in Australia.  Her Mother asked me to participate because I'm also an international Mother and family member.  I started writing and found these tips kind of funny. I thought I'd share. I'd also love it if you'd add to the list!  

International Mom tips:

You may feel like you are so ready for your parents to go home after the birth. It's been months for goodness sake and it's time for you and your new family to get into it's own rhythm.  That's true and it's all well and good but be prepared. You will cry. Those damn pregnancy hormones. I was never one to cry for my Mommy but I sure did when she left me alone with a tiny baby. And it lasted for about the first year.  It's ok.  Once you have one, you get your Mom better and it just makes you all the more attached. 

It gets easier every time your family leaves or you leave them. Keep in mind it works progressively so it's pretty hard in the beginning.

Get your baby a passport and use it. Don't be nervous but be prepared. Kids will travel as calmly as the parents let them. If you aren't nervous, they won't be.

You don't need to bring every baby gadget you have when you visit Rio.  We have man power to replace the technology. 

Don't expect your baby to ever be put down when you are visiting your family.  Especially when you are visiting YOUR family!  So many people and everyone will want a turn with the little one.

Only speak in Portuguese to your kid.  English will be a given. It is a part of every day life.  Portuguese will be the exception. Make your home a Portuguese one.

Have your Mom/Dad/Friends bring you all the cool cartoons in Portuguese. Yes, Baby Einstein and Backyardagians are available. 

Have your own traditions and bring your culture there.  My boys have an American Christmas Morning with breakfast, presents, and stockings.  I don't care if they were up partying until 1am and have a lunch later in the day.  They don't either.  It's our tradition and we love it.

Find a good international phone card or long distance carrier.  It makes it a lot easier to call Mom at 4am to ask about the mucus poop diaper, when you know it's not costing you upwards of $1000.  I know you'll have a pediatrician but they aren't your mother.

Here are some regular Mom tips:

Sunday brunch with friends is a great way to see other people and still be in a kid friendly environment. Make it a pot luck and have everyone take turns having it at their place. 

A bedtime routine is priceless.  Mine is bath, book, teeth, bed. For older kids: bath, quiet play or movie, book, teeth, bed. It makes bedtime a known thing. It also makes going to bed while traveling much easier. The familiar is something babies and kids love. 

Have sex with your husband. You may not feel like it but you will be glad you did afterwards. Keep in mind that the "required" trying is only good once a week.  The rest of the time you have to be in the mood or they have to get you there.

If you aren't in the mood have a glass of wine. Hell, have 1 glass of wine a night. Oprah says it's healthy, so it must be.

On a really hard day, have 2 glasses.

There will be really hard days.  This does not mean you are a bad Mom. You rock!  Babies, like adults, have bad days. It is what it is. 

When your kid doesn't sleep don't worry about it. You'll survive. Everyone else did.  It does make me feel better to imagine the day my boys are about 13 years old. I plan to go into their room around 3 am and wake them up just because I miss them and want to cuddle. I doubt I will but it makes me smile just thinking about it. 

And remember, it's your baby. No one knows your baby better than you! If you think there is something wrong, don't hesitate to harass whomever you have to to make it better! And for the same reasons, you don't have to follow everyone's advice.  Do what you know is right for you and yours. 

Got to love apartment living

Apartment drama. My husband got home and I ran down to the street for a quick errand. Imagine my surprise when the ancient woman who lives above me was behind the elevator door.

The poor thing. And I hate the Portuguese word tadinho for poor thing but it's so fitting.  I asked her where she was going and she told me home and pointed to my apartment. I haven't spoken to her before but I know she lives above me. I told her no and that I'd take her home to the 5th floor.

My heart broke when she said "but no one is there and I can't get in".  She thought she must have been at the wrong place because no one opened the door for her. Making my heart break even more, she told me that she went to the wrong apartment they only laughed at her and wouldn't answer any of her questions.

She was in her nightgown, smelled of urine, and I assumed she had locked herself out. The elevator automatically went to the lobby. Someone had called it.  I opened the door and asked the doorman to put a chair in the elevator for her to sit while we went up and figured everything out. She was having trouble standing. 

It, obviously, wasn't the first time this had happened. He took her hand and sat her down in the lobby. He told me he had it under control and not to worry. I came back after my errand and she was still there. 

I was shoo-ed away by the doorman.  I wanted to stay but I felt the need to listen to the sane doorman before the slightly less sane older woman. 

Of course I asked my husband about it when I got home. We have experienced this same thing once before but he had answered the door.  Apparently she is senile and quite dramatic.  She has help during the day and a son who lives with her. Sometimes, if the son works late, she spends a couple of hours on her own.  Personally, I think that's unacceptable.  

I also know that she's had a couple of blow outs in the common hallway, filling them with things that I don't even want to describe.  I can assume life up in that 5th floor apartment isn't particularly easy. 

At the same time, it just broke my heart in two. I hope to have better care when I hit that point.  Personally, I think it'd be better for her to be in a home.  I know, sacrilegious in this country, but she'd have 24 hr care and people experienced in taking care of the elderly. 

Regardless of circumstance, it's just wrong for an older woman to be taken care of in a way where she manages to get locked out, urinate on herself, and roam around a building in her jammies. 

She looked confused and deflated.  I almost adopted her that moment but Daniel won't even let me get a dog. Imagine what he'd do if I brought home an old lady!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two Kisses or a Wave?

It took me a little while to get used to the double kiss greeting here in Rio de Janeiro.  In the past, I would have a mini anxiety attack when I entered into heavily attended dinner parties. It was the question, do I kiss everyone? Do I have to?? 

I'm used to it now.  I'm a lean mean kissing machine. I can handle a fully attended Brazilian family event like a Brazilian!  Kisses flying here and there, hello hello, tudo bem?

I'm almost too used it actually.  I've found that I feel more awkward meeting people in the states than here.  At home I never quite know what to do anymore.  Do I give them the little wave? It seems so cold. Oh, nice to meet you but I'm not going to touch you.  That's be gross.  Do I shake their hand?  That seems so stiff. It's like I've run into the old vice principal of my high school instead of making a new friend.

All the stateside options seem so distant and at the same time, I can't hug them.  That would make me the creepy person. And if I opt to do the Brazilian kiss, I'd be a poser. I'm American, not Brazilian. Kissing hello here, I'm adapting. Kissing hello there, I'm pretending to be Brazilian. 

I find myself hoping I won't meet anyone new the first week. Give me a week to revert back to my North American ways and then I can be social.  Once that happens, I normally bust out the little wave unless encouraged by the other person to do more.

And should I meet a foreigner, I always give two kisses. I can't do one. It feels so incomplete. I know Mexicans and Paulistas give one kiss but I'm too far gone here in Rio de Janeiro to conform now. 

Of course it's not second nature. I don't kiss my pediatrician on the cheek. It seems weird.  I also can't seem kiss my dentist or maid hello.  I feel it's strange in working relationship, although I do kiss my students hello.  I'm just a big ball of kissing confusion.  I prefer to call it being American.

The Mommies are returning to Rio de Janeiro

Yeah! My Mommy friends are finally returning to the city!  I know only half of us traveled for the North American/European summer, but our little group can't seem to get together without all members.

It's amazing.  Our Mommy group was only created last July and I am already attached. Nothing like other Moms to help fill up those days where you just can't figure out what on Earth to do with your kids. You can really only go to the same parks so many times over a month without everyone getting bored. I think my boys are going to bitch slap me if we show up at the Fluminense park again this week. 

And it wasn't just the practical part that I missed. I missed their company!  My Mommy friends are great people to chat with. We can discuss movies, art, travel, vomit, poop, milestones, and wine. It's a great combination for any modern day Mom. 

So ladies, we are far past due for a play date!  Actually, FAR past due for a brunch!

Calling all Mommies, it's time for us to get together!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Groceries without leaving the house, got to love it!

I love a stocked kitchen! I love putting all the food away and seeing my cabinets full. How could it get any better? Well, it could be delivered right to your door in separate freezers bags and boxes.

Daniel and I started bulk shopping to try to lower our grocery bill.  Food in Rio de Janeiro, especially Zona Sul, is ridiculously expensive.

Great plan and a total pain in the ass. I have two kids and a husband that works. The carts at the store don't always have a place for the kids to sit, not to mention the tiny isles and dodging of other shoppers.  We started driving to larger, nicer stores.

I know loading your kids up in the car, driving for 45 minutes to Barra, spending another hour and a half shopping (2 if the kids really give you trouble), then loading everyone and everything back up to go home sounds like fun, oh for sure, but it's not.

Sorry for sounding like a commerical but I now use Pão de Acucar online shopping. Not the mountain, the grocery store.  Google it.  You'll get pictures of the mountain and links to the store.  Win win situation.

Anyway, they rock!  I've tried Zona Sul online shopping but it sucks.  Pão de Acucar comes when they say they will and they have special little bags for freezer and fridge stuff that are labeled.  Everything else comes neatly packed in boxes.  When my stuff arrives, I'm in anal organization heaven.  Well, as anally organized as anything in Rio de Janeiro can be.

So yeah, I pay an extra R$12 for delivery and Pão de Acucar is one of the most expensive grocery stores in town.  But I'm sane! How much is your sanity worth?  Mine is definitely worth a R$12 delivery fee, about R$30 in higher grocery costs, and an hour or two online.

That last part is a bit annoying.  The site is organized but still a bit difficult to maneuver.  It almost has too many categories and is in Portuguese.  Portuguese? What are we, in Brazil or something?

But you manage!  And for you Moms out there, it means that you aren't stuffing your kids full of chips you wouldn't even have normally bought just to shut them up long enough to pay for your food. Not to mention all the stuff you have forgotten because you were distracted by your pre-schooler's questioning of fat and old people.  Thank goodness he was speaking in English!

Check it out Pao de Acucar

Monday, July 26, 2010

How do you say 'Your kid is an Ass' in Portuguese?

I am pissed. This evening, I took my kids to the park at the Fluminense club.  Since the schools are on holiday, it was full. Fair enough, the park is big and can handle a decent amount of kids.

The problem is the quality of the kids themselves, and the parents for that matter.  These pre-teens are evil little shits. I hate to say that about children but I call 'em as I see 'em.  Seeing that they've had little to no discipline since childhood, they are maniacs. The parents don't even bother to pay attention. I actually saw a 10 year old push down a 3 yr old to cut in line for the slide. A slide.  And when my son noticed this and wanted off so that he could stay with his friend, the kid pushed him down the slide backwards.

One bad seed you say, I'd have to disagree. I was watching this happen all over the park.  These big boys were terrorizing the whole damn place.  And where were the parents? Chatting.  I yelled at the kid and the Mom jumped up and said "oh no, not my boy". He was the only big kid up by the slide and was the only one wearing red.  I said that and then asked her if she was even watching.

It was amazing to see her crumble.  And that made me realize where the problem started.  If she really felt her kid wasn't capable of that, she should have been able to say so firmly.  Actually, when questioned, she should have been able to call him down and ask him firmly and seriously. Did she? Nope. Did her son even pay half attention to her when she pointed up to him. Nope.

She actually had the balls to say that it couldn't be him because he was watching his little brother.  The little brother was on the other side of the park by himself.  When she noticed that she got even more embarrassed.

What's worse? Not knowing what your kid is doing or not having control of your kid? Or leaving your 3 yr old in the hands of a nasty 10 yr old so you can chat with other random Moms who happen to be there?  Hmmmm, I wonder why your kid is a little shit.

Making out gets you one step closer to being a Carioca

I noticed something that I had totally forgotten about Rio de Janeiro, MAKING OUT!

Holy crap, if you didn't know better, you'd think that it was the end of the world and everyone had decided to spend their last moments getting it on.

It's everywhere.  I think there are as many couples making out, at any given time, as there are coconut vendors.  And they are not being modest, or just passionate, they are getting it on oral style.  Dirty minds, curb your thoughts. Not that kind of oral. 

I'm talking about deep throat, tasting your lunch, hardcore kissing. 

The best part of noticing this trend all over again was remembering all the times I did the same thing with my husband. There is something freeing about being able to have a passionate kiss in the middle of a wedding reception, at a bar with friends, on the dance floor, in the metro, on a bus, on the sidewalk, in a bathroom, and everywhere else in this city. Maybe they frown upon it in church but I really can't be sure.  Catholics are strict but these are Brazilian Catholics. 

The best part is that it doesn't even matter if there are people at the table, sitting next to you, or even talking to you for that matter. Ok, the last one may be a bit rude but I doubt anyone will hold it against you.  It's ok to have a mini make out session in the company of friends.  I do believe Cariocas actually think it's healthy.

And you just have to love the get-your-love-when-you-can-get-it attitude.  Then again, I love a good kiss, kisses, kissing...

I think I should go visit my husband at work.

Flying to Rio de Janeiro with kids

Flying internationally with kids is not one of those parental things we necessarily look forward to. I was reading a friend's blog post about a domestic flight with kids (The Little Hen House) and it got me thinking.  Then I had two other friends ask me for advice about flying to Rio with little ones.  You see where this is going. 

Here are some sanity saving guidelines to follow:

1. You will not get any sleep on the flight.  Do not plan on it, do not even pretend to be hopeful about it. If you go into this like a warrior ready to take on Rome, you will be pleased with the hour you may manage.

2. Your kids will not like the airline food. Seriously, need I explain this one? Is there anyone who does like airline food?  That does not count if you are flying 1st class internationally. If that is the case, I am available to be your nanny.

3. This is not the time to be cheap when it comes to toys. Buy one decently complex new toy and at least one other cheap one (per child).  Do not show them these toys until in the air.  Better yet, don't even tell them they exist until you need them!  Do bring some old toys to entertain until you need the new ones. Yes, that means 1 carry on for entertainment. 

4. Snacks! Your kids will not be eating healthy on this trip. Please do yourself, your children, and all other passengers a favor and bring A TON of favorite snacks.  You can put these in the toy  carry on.

5. Children's Tylenol. This especially goes for the first flight.  Do not let your child scream in pain the entire time because you think that 3 drops of a medication is going to make their IQ drop 1/10 of a percent.  Hello. This is not the time to be irrational.

6. Speaking of drugs, DRUGS!  Hello, my name is Dramamine and I am your friend. Get a px from your pediatrician.  If they say, "no, you really don't need it", ask them if they are flying 16 hrs (2 planes) with your child/ren.  When they say no, repeat your request.  These kind of pediatricians royally piss me off. No need for your kid, you, or all other passengers to suffer. It's a night flight to Rio. I have a hard time simmering down enough to sleep, why would my toddler be able to do it.  Disclaimer, I do not recommend this for children under 1 year of age.

7. Be prepared for an adventure. It's going to be one. There will be laughs, tears, and heartache. You'll have enough material to start a blog after this kind of trip.  But that's what adventures are for. Enjoy it.  Seriously.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

And a happy Carioca Sunday to you

A wonderful Sunday morning here in Rio de Janeiro!  Our place is full of music, coffee, laughing babies, and morning pool plans. 

I think this happy Sunday morning mood is directly related to a wonderful Saturday.  This Mommy spent the afternoon away from the family and with other adults. GASP!  Not only that, but other English speaking adults.  Double GASP!  And there was beer.  Now pick yourself up off the floor, it's not that unbelievable. 

So the afternoon out with the ex-pat/blogger group was my pre-party before an actual party. Since this is Rio de Janeiro, it's only acceptable to have a kids party after 5pm.  My husband so politely swung the car by the kiosk, threw me in, and drove away. You'd have thought he was in the middle of a car chase or something.

Not the case, his Gringa wife just picked the most horrible spot possible for curbside pickup.  Still so many things to learn and so little time. 

Anyway, I was flung into the car and we were off to Tijuca for the 4th birthday party of Daniel's cousin's son.  Ben 10 = big fun.  A few hours later, we were dragging our full and tired asses back home.  The little one crashed big time on the way home.  Apparently he just needs to party a bit before bed because he gave mommy a full nights sleep!! 

Can I get a round of applause for sleep please. 

I think I just discovered the real reason behind happy Sunday.  It wasn't free time or good company. It wasn't good junk food or family fun.  It was sleep! 

Oh Sleep, how easily we forget your importance!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chopp in the afternoon

I called my husband at work today. We had just gotten back from the beach.  The little one was sleeping and the big one watching cartoons.

I had to prepare lunch and a cold beer was calling me. Call me a Carioca 'cause this is acceptable down here.  The only problem was that we only had one of those big bottles of beer (600ml) in the fridge.

He only had a moment so I asked if the beer would go bad should I open it and only drink a glass. No, it'd be fine until night.  Is that the only reason you called? to ask about beer?

Yes it was, and aren't you glad?  If I had just drank the whole thing not to waste it that'd make me an alcoholic... or even more Brazilian than I already am ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rio de Janeiro walking art

Rio de Janeiro has some pretty fine walking art.  It comes in the form of playboys in their early 20s.  Playboy is a nickname for hot, usually young, Carioca men who spend their days at the beach, have money, and are usually asses. 

Totally not my type but I would have to be blind not to take notice.  Conveniently, these perfectly built and tan men ALWAYS have their shirts off. 

I saw one on the way back from the park with my kids this evening.  He saw me checking him out and I couldn't care less. I'm too tired to try to pretend.  He's just lucky I noticed at all.

Alright, it's more like I'm just lucky I noticed. 

Regardless, I just wanted to say thank you to Rio de Janeiro and the Moms of our precious playboys. Although asses, they sure do make great eye candy. 

And for that, I am thankful. 

Old Lady Carioca to the Rescue!

I was walking home from the pediatricians with my little ear infection baby this morning.  The police have taped off half a corner, next to a busy walk way. It's a great way to keep people from getting hit by crumbling buildings as opposed to actually fixing them.

Anyway, a kid, not knowing it was serious, crossed under the tape to avoid the crowds. Her mother freaked out and she jumped out at the nearest point, right next to me.  Domino effect. 

This run in pushed my stroller unexpectedly forward and it bumped the heel of an old lady. I was so embarrassed! Of course it was not my fault, nor was it that hard, but it sucks to have your foot hit by a stroller.

The lady obviously did not share my relaxed view of getting bumped into and started to tell me off. She dramatically grabbed onto her husband to lean down and stroke her heel. She then proceeded to whine and cry that it was her bad foot and I just hurt it so much more.

Don't get me wrong, I felt bad and apologized profusely. But people, there is no way this woman felt anything in her big orthopedic tennis shoes and with that small of a tap!

Then the unthinkable happened.  Another old lady came to my defense and started telling the first old lady off.

Girl fight, old lady style!

The second old lady told her that it was barely a tap and that if her foot was so bad then she shouldn't be out walking in such crowded areas!  Damn straight!  She then continued to defend me, telling her that I hadn't even been the reason the stroller hit her and that if she didn't calm down she'd end up dying of a heart attack.

It was a beautiful old Carioca lady moment!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Brazilian scavenger hunt

Come one and all, the Brazilian scavenger hunt will be starting at my place at 5pm tomorrow evening.

What is the Brazilian scavenger hunt?  It's an attempt to find anything and everything you left out on a surface of some sort the day your maid comes.  Yes people, it really is a hunt for your goods. 

I say this knowing that my maid is awesome! My brother from another mother awesome!  I love her!  Not only is she good company and makes wonderful food, she has also made it possible for me to forget what it's like to clean poop splatter off the underside of my toilet seat. 

That being said, she has the most random sense of organization, and hers is better than most maids down here.  Sometime I find my digital camera in the hutch with my wine glasses. (I don't get that either.)  Sometimes it's on the dining room table.  Sometimes it's next to the computer.  Any given day...

Finding your crap basically comes down to some math. It's 10 ounces of luck and 200 pounds of learning to understand your maid. 

Now, we used to use the family maid. Yes, in Brazil there is such thing as a family maid. Everyone in the family hires her and she is a key in bringing all family gossip into each and every single member's home.  Our family maid was special.  For starters, she really hates her job and her kids are pains in the ass.  (the kid part is from her, I've never met them). The poor woman is tired.  So what did she do when she didn't know what something was, she put it with my shoes.  Oh yes, in with my shoes. I found make up, a computer speaker, official American documents, candy, and many more things stored with my shoes in the closet. 

That was an interesting time but it did teach me something.  When I start the scavenger hunt I break down what the object looks like, how much it weighs, and the color. I then compare it to any, and I mean any, object in my apartment that is similar.  That's where I usually find it.  And when in doubt, I look in my clothes closet, the hutch, or our main bookshelf.  I've become such a master that I can almost find everything she puts away as easily as I can find my husband's lost keys. 

I do see where she's coming from though.  Half the stuff I have, she's never seen and doesn't know what it is.  And we have a lot of crap. Shockingly, that doesn't make us the most organized people in the world. 

So I don't blame her.  It's just a funny fact.  Maids here can't leave stuff out. The place doesn't look clean if anything is out, so things are placed in drawers, cabinets, closets, or anywhere else it can be hidden. Thus a scavenger hunt is born!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Exhausted in Rio de Janeiro

Being a parent in Rio de Janeiro is exhausting. I used to talk major shit about all the non-working Moms with nannies here.  I've changed my tune. I have two now. I'm out numbered and I get it.

It's unacceptable to stay inside all day here. For starters, your place is 2 feet x 2 feet if you have money. It's about 13 in x 17 in for normal folk. Parents and children alike will go insane inside all day. 

Then there's the weather.  98 % of the time it's beautiful. Who can resist being out and about on a beautiful day? Not this girl and not my kids!  Then again, my maid will be the first to tell you that I'm the one who badly accustomed (in her words) them to life out on the streets. Makes me sound like I have them begging for change.  Outside boys!  Earn money for your pricey private school tuition! 

So this whole post comes from an argument I had with my husband this evening. It was the "who had a harder day" argument.  It's impossible to win, especially when the working husband can say that I, at least, got to have a wonderful day with our children. 

What do you say to that?

No, I didn't! I've raised hellions! 

I did have a wonderful day with the kids.  But I thought I'd take a moment and break down what a wonderful day is:

730am - make and serve breakfast
8am - clean up breakfast
845am - prep kids for beach with Tio (Uncle) Japi.  Aka. smear sunscreen, pack bag, give out last minute snacks and drinks, pack car
910am - pick up Tio Japi and head to beach
930am - beach.  That means, play in sand, make sure baby doesn't drown in ocean the ENTIRE time we are at said beach. Thank Tio for taking turns making sure baby doesn't drown
1045am - leave beach because kids are already tired and baby has to take a bath and eat lunch before bath.
1115am - home
1120am - bath time for everyone
1135am - make plates and serve lunch
Noon - put baby down
1215pm - tidy after lunch
1230pm - quality time with oldest who did not nap
1pm - finally get to read a book while snuggling oldest who is watching his favorite show (Ben 10)
130pm - baby up
145pm - snack time
215pm - go to the grocery store with kids
245pm - meet friends at park
4pm - come back to the house with said friends
530pm - make dinner and serve to kids
6pm - clean up after dinner and run bath
615pm - give kids a bath
645pm - chocolate milk time for kids
7pm - youngest bed
730pm - finally get youngest to sleep and Daddy FINALLY arrives home from work
8pm - start teaching private English class
830pm - give oldest a kiss during class and then continue with class as Daddy puts him to bed
930pm - class over
now - BIG glass of wine and blog :)

I decided to not put in potty breaks and I eat at the same time as my kids when I can. If I can't, I grab something on the go. Wonder how I lost the pregnancy weight...

It's amazing how the time flies by!  It's as if the day is over before it begun.  If I put some effort into it, I could break the list down even further into play blocks with boys, do puzzle with oldest, color with youngest.  But that would be obsessive.  The point being, I don't stop all day.  You see the one time I got to, which is rare, was when I read my book for a half hour. Golden!  I don't usually get to stop. 

So I get the nannies and full time maids.  I was wrong and you were right. Does that mean I get one or both? Nope.  But I see your point. 

Rio de Janeiro Blogger meet up!

Our dear friend Jim is throwing a much needed Carioca no coração (Carioca at heart) blogger meet up this Saturday! 

Mark your calendars people!  Saturday at 2pm.  We're meeting at the kiosk directly in front of the Copacabana palace. We'll be the group of foreigners... ok, we'll be the group of foreigners who don't look uncomfortable and aren't having issues ordering beers/caipirinhas by waving our hands from the table. 

Check out Qualidade de Vida for more info and to RSVP. 

PS. I obviously RSVPed. 

Partying Momma

Having kids has curbed my old school partying ways.  I just can't go out until all hours of the night and be pleasant the next day at the park.  It's not going to happen.

I've, thankfully, found ways to let my hair down without having it all fall out.

I'm a big fan of the early beer.  I put my youngest to bed, leaving my toddler for my husband to story and put to sleep. I head out and meet friends at one of the bars near the house for a couple of beers. 

We Moms need a break too.

My all time favorite is a little club no centro (downtown but you can't really call it downtown since there's a downtown in Barra).  It's called Symbol. Now, it's not hopping.  It's not a place for the single ladies to meet men.  It's certainly not a place for the single men to meet ladies.  Hell, it's practically empty when we go. 

Apparently, the hip "Brazilian Happy Hour" time at this place is on Wednesdays.   Wednesdays are singles night.  We steer clear of Wednesdays.  We married folk head over on Thursday. 

Thursday is a magical day at Symbol. It's 70s, 80s, and 90s pop/dance music night. Oh yes!  And it gets even better! It's AMERICAN pop/dance music night!  Don't get me wrong, I am a lover of Brazilian music. It is great to dance to.  But there are days when you want a little Cindi or Madonna.  Days where Depeche Mode is the only thing that will sooth the soul. 

This is where this Momma escapes to let lose, dance like a retarded monkey, and sing out loud like a 13 year old pre-pubescent girl.  That is why it's even better that it's empty.

And they have a little snack bar!  Oh the insanity! 

To top it all off, I get home by 11pm! You heard it here first, 11pm!  Now, I know that being excited about being home early only confirms that I have, in fact, gotten old.  It is what it is people. If I can go out, dance my ass off, have a drink, eat some snacks, and be home by 11, I'm as happy of a camper as a Momma can be! 

Keep in mind though, you must supply your own posse! This is not a place to head to alone, at least, not on a Thursday night.

For more info: Symbol

Monday, July 19, 2010

Parenthood in Rio de Janeiro. I swear I'm not scared!

I have found that irrational fears and parenthood go hand and hand.  I can't help but worry about the silliest things. 

Living in Rio de Janeiro does not help my irrational parental fears.   Take a simple thing like my 3 year old going on a field trip with his school.  My typical irrational fear would be him getting separated from the group.

Now let's add Rio de Janeiro to the equation. I worry that there's going to be a random shooting on the street where the school bus happens to be passing. Or he'll get separated from the group, or get snatched, and I'll never see him again do to the lack of infrastructure in the country. There's also stray bullets, food poisoning, wild monkey attacks, giant mosquitoes, and bum poop.

People, I did say the fears were irrational.

I honestly forget about these irrational fears most of the time. Day to day activities distract you, especially with two little ones. Plus, there are so many great things here for your kids, that it's hard to put an active imagination above the high quality of life they do have.

You forget about the meningitis outbreaks that happen in Rio de Janeiro, knowing your kid is vaccinated.  You put them in a good school near your home in a good neighborhood.  You cross the street when you are about to cross paths with the area's crazy, glue sniffing bum.   And you liberally apply mosquito repellent during dengue fever season. 

When the day is done, you live here and you're going to have fears regardless of where you live.  Of course the fears here are a little heartier then those at home...

Hey, at least I'm not so irrational as to suffer from any of the following:

Arachibutyrophobia – The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth
Genuphobia - Fear of knees
Xanthophobia - Fear of the color yellow or the word yellow

Ok, knees do freak me out a bit.

What are your irrational Rio de Janeiro fears? Parenthood fears? Come on, tell me!  I know you all have at least have one.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm often asked if I miss home.  I take that as being if I miss my country.  The two are separate for me.  I came into true adulthood in Rio de Janeiro.  My children were born here and are being raised here.  I found myself here. 

Do I miss home? I can't say that.  Rio de Janeiro is my home.  Do I miss the US being my home?  Maybe. 

What I do miss is not needing translation. I miss not having to explain myself, or not having the lack of words to describe a feeling or an event.  I miss having a conversation with someone who just gets what I mean.

You go through life saying everyone is the same. We are all just people. But we are a product of our nature. We take a little something from everywhere we've been. 

I miss some of the nature of where I've been.  It kills me that I don't share the same nature with my children.  I was not raised in the same place. My most cherished memories have nothing to do with theirs.  No matter how hard I try to bring my traditions in, and make our own family traditions, it's overshadowed by where we are.  There's not much you can do about that.  We do not move from place to place. We are not nomads like so many foreign families in Brazil. We are here. We have family here.  This is their childhood. 

It hit me when I had to explain to my 3 year old what a dandelion is. It was in a movie.  I had forgotten that memory. Seeing the seeds of the dandelion fly into the air. Making the wish.  Blowing as hard as I could so that every seed would fly and my wish would come true.  My son, growing up in a big city in Brazil, couldn't understand. All I could tell him was that I'd find him one when we go back and show him.  And I will, because it's magical. 

We don't want to say that where we are from makes a difference. We'd all like to believe we are self-made and decide what does and does not impact who we are. But there are things that stick.  I sometimes miss people with the same glue and the same dandelion seeds stuck to it.

No spanking law in Brazil?

Comes to find out, the Brazilian government may try to outlaw spanking.  Will they outlaw handguns? Noooo! But heaven forbid you spank your children.

So we can all see which side I'm on. Before you run off and get your noose and pitchfork, I'm not one of the hardcore breed of spankers.

Here's my spanking philosophy.  A spank is a last minute resort punishment.  It happens when you either can't do the normal punishment and/or they do something very serious/dangerous that needs stopped ASAP.

That being said, I do not believe a spank should hurt. I'm not a sling my kid over my knee and whack 'em type of girl.  A spank is a quick and sudden tap that will wake the little one up.  It doesn't hurt, it surprises.

For this to work, you can not use the spank often.  If you over use it, you have to increase your strength, and you see where this slippery slope goes.

I think that may be the problem down here.  Hell, it may be the problem all over the world. I am glad Brazil is trying to step things up.  I am well aware that there's a lot lacking in the child protective services area, and I applaud them for pushing legislation forward.  A law will also be coming out in September making car seats mandatory.

On an ironic note, you may be driving a ghetto big tin matchbox that will explode on contact with another vehicle, but your baby will be safely belted in. You can't spank them but you can belt them to your back and take them on a motorcycle ride through the crazy streets of Rio de Janeiro.

It takes anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes to get an ambulance, 8 hours wait at any run of the mill public hospital, and years to get something processed at court.

But we'll take what we can get.  I believe you have to start somewhere and protecting children is an honorable way to do it!

For more information, check out the BBC news article on the subject:  Legal ban on Smacking

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Brazilian Butt: Baby got Back

I've never been one to have ass envy. I've actually never thought too much about the ass in general. I enjoy seeing nice male tail but I've never really stopped to think about the size of my own.

Then I arrived in Rio de Janeiro. Is it just me, or are there huge asses everywhere?!  There are huge ones, fat ones, and, the vast majority, very large muscular ones.  I honestly feel that these women, with large muscular butts, are defying all laws of muscle tone and gravity.

It's like a work of art, these toned tooshes in tight workout pants. And you see them everywhere. I don't know if they are all always going to the gym, or just like to show off. Could be both.  I think they'd have to practically live at the gym to keep those girls standing like they do. And if I were the owner of a pair of those, they'd always be practically suffocating them in the tightest clothing possible.

It's a beauty that Brazil owns, the large tight butt.

I'm not envious.  I enjoy my small tight butt. I also enjoy that it doesn't take too much work to keep up. That combines well with my somewhat lazy personality.

I do, however, keep a small little petty glee hidden inside.  That glee is that I know they can not defy gravity forever.  While my long, lean frame may not be the most popular south of the boarder, it is easy to keep with age.  That makes me feel good when my husband glances at this common sight. I don't blame him. I find myself and my 3 year old doing the same thing.

A belt = safety on motorcycles

I saw the funniest thing coming home from the park this morning.  Ok, maybe not so much funny as disturbing.  A woman was sitting on her motorcycle and adjusting a belt, a leather one you would use to hold up your pants, high up on her waist. 

A little weird I thought.  It got less weird and more crazy when I passed her and saw who was behind her. 

Sitting behind her was a small child. My guess is a two year old, a small two year old.  She was using the leather belt to belt the child to her back!

Now I'm not pro taking small children out of motorcycle rides. I can kind of accept it in country settings where there is little risk of other people getting in the way. I'm totally against it in a metropolitan settings. 

That being said, I've seen kids on their parent's motorcycles here, usually riding in front of the parent.  I know that makes little difference but it does seem slightly smarter than belting your kid in behind you!  A 2 year old isn't even considered old enough to sit in a safety seat behind you on a regular bike. 

 At least he was wearing a helmet, and not just a bike helmet. It seemed to be a child motorcycle helmet. 

Part of me now feels like I should have intervened Brazilian Grandma style. Then again, I never listen to the Brazilian Grandmas, why would she listen to me.  I'm sure the Grandmas think I'm just as reckless letting my kids walk barefoot in private, closed off parks as I think this woman is. 

What do I know anyway? Maybe she bought the belt at a bike shop with the kid's helmet and it is considered a safety feature down here. 

Any bikers out there know if that is possible?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Saving money day to day in Rio de Janeiro

One of my biggest issues here is how to save money.  Let's keep things in perspective in that we don't do anything!  Our big splurges are basic household needs or taking our pre-schooler to the movies.

That's one area I just can't seem to get a hold of. How do I save money day to day here? I live here, I'm not traveling, and I have kids so eating cheap pasta every day is out.  

And our biggest cost is groceries.  I know fresh fruit and veggies are cheap but we still end up breaking the bank at the stinking grocery store. I've even converted to powdered milk as I save pennies each liter. It's just sad.

I considered myself a master of mão fechado (closed hand aka. cheap in Portuguese) in the states. I could make a dollar go so far and still enjoy myself.  Why can't I do that in Rio? 

My splurges for groceries include wine, the cheap R$16 wine. But I found a bottle that didn't make me vomit for R$7 on sale today. Got to love Argentina.  Deli meat and cheese.  This goes back to being sandwich people.  I really can't think of anything else. I can't.  Rice, beans, milk, meat, chicken, fish, and coffee.  We're pretty basic people. The snacks we do have are not the bank breaking types. 

But at the end of the month, for a family of four, we can not stay under R$1000.  It's killing me!  I don't even get to eat Filet Mignon weekly!  I mean, seriously, is there any other meat?

Ok, I did have Pate the other day.  We always buy decent olive oil when we need it.  Nescal (what we use to make chocolate milk in Rio de Janeiro) is always on tap here.  I guess there's a bit of fat I could trim but then we'd just be sad.

I'm officially offering my husband up to a rich, lonely, and single gal who wants man companion.  Once or twice a week at night will work.  I can vouch for his skills.  All I ask is that you pay of our mortgage at Caixa, or Satan as I like to call them. 

Not to worry, we're not destitute or even suffering for that manner. I just really get annoyed that I can't be all financially savvy here.  I don't know if it's truly impossible or I'm just Brazilian savvy retarded.  I think it could be a little bit of both. 

Heading to the country, Rio de Janeiro style

I'm a lucky girl.  My Brazilian in-laws live in a county house (or Siteo in Portuguese) in Cachoeira de Macacu.

What this means is that we can get out of the city, at a moments notice, and go to a beautiful house in the country. And I mean country. Their house is actually 20 or so minutes outside the little town of Cachoeiras, up a bumpy and difficult dirt road.

I know what some of you are thinking. You aren't country.  Everyone is this country.  You get to stay at a beautiful spot in the middle of nature. You won't see anyone else unless you want to. There aren't any houses nearby.  You can trek to 3 different waterfalls and, in the winter, one of the paths to one of the waterfalls is full of butterflies. I mean freakishly full, I'm in a super corny movie amount of butterflies. I've never seen anything like it.

The best part is, the house has all the modern amenities.  There's a full bath that even I can fit very comfortably in.  They have internet and satellite cable.  There's a pool with attached kiddie pool and shower.  Not to mention, the game room right next to the pool with bar and pool table.

And I'm not even going to talk about my Mother-in-law's cooking. I'm already bragging too much as it is and if you knew how well she cooks, it'd just push you over the edge.

Moral of the story, Rio de Janeiro does have amazing beaches.  You can't argue with that. But it also has an amazing countryside. If you are not fortunate enough to be able to mooch off your husband's or wife's family, you can easily find a cute pousada.  In case you don't know what a pousada is, it's kind of like a combo of a 3 star hotel and a bed and breakfast.  I love pousadas! They are quaint, easy, and always have hammocks.

So come Saturday morning, I'll be wishing Rio a good weekend and heading out!  Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brazilian Jeitinho: A home visit

Check out the jeitinho of my husband.  I couldn't get the gate to stay up.  He managed...

The Brazilian jeitinho is an art form.  It means "way" but basically signifies maneuvering in a creative manner, usually bending or breaking the rules. 

This phrase is not only used to define certain governmental practices but also things in everyday life.

My husband displayed a wonderful example of Jeitinho Brasiliero with his putting up of the baby gate.  Looks normal up top, right?  Check out below

Is that what I think it is?

Why yes. A cork is a versatile object after all.

Cooking in Rio de Janeiro

I was not prepared for the amount of cooking expected of me in this city.  Pre-kids and husband, I used to survive off of Tonino's pizza rolls and Top Ramon.

5 years later, I couldn't be any further from where I started.  First off, I'm feeding a family.  It's pretty frowned upon to feed your kids instant foods, at least all time.  So I've discovered the wonderful world of cooking in Rio de Janeiro.

Cooking in Rio de Janeiro requires a couple of things. 1. stop looking for canned items. You will basically find tuna, corn, peas, and mixed corn and peas. Slight exaggeration. You can now find some other items including canned baby peas.

Secondly, I introduce the pressure cooker. It's used for practically everything down here!  The oven is used so infrequently that my mother-in-law lived for years without a functioning one. The only part that worked was the stove top, and that's all she used anyway.  Pressure cookers are principally used for cooking all different types of dried beans (the state you'll find most uncooked beans in Brazil), meats like carne asada, and anything else that can be thrown in and pressured the crap out of.

Thirdly, be prepared to make the big meal for lunch. The American dinner is the equivalent of the Brazilian lunch. A family friend once saw me give my son a PB&J for lunch.  I think she had a small heart attack. It's just not done here. Sandwiches are not acceptable lunch foods.

Keep in mind though, American lunches are equivalent to Brazilian dinners. Pre-babies, when we lived for a time with my in-laws, dinner was a kind of free for all. The table would be set up with fresh bread, deli meats, salad, fruits, some other extras.  Anyone who wanted to have leftovers from lunch could and, occasionally, we'd eat pasta.

My boys now have a wonderful combo of the American and Brazilian ways of life.  They essentially have 2 dinners, or a Brazilian lunch and an American dinner. I've gotten into the habit of the Brazilian lunch and I can't put them to bed without knowing they've eaten a good dinner.  That, of course, means Mom is cooking 2 full meals twice a day.  You can only imagine the prep time since most things are from scratch and the clean up without a dish washer.

The solution, a maid. I have a wonderful maid who comes on Mondays and Thursdays. She makes lunch both those days and makes beans for the days she won't be here. Black beans are a Carioca diet staple.  After a little while here, you'll wonder what you ate when you weren't eating beans and rice.  Her bean prepping saves me one complicated cooking step.

Yes, Brazilian black beans are complicated to cook. It's a gentle balance of simple ingredients that can make heaven or hell depending on how well you do. 

Of course, all of this falls to the wayside when Mom is too tired and/or has not done the shopping.  PB&Js are served and I just don't tell anyone. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I have to vent

This seems to be the week foreigners are pissed off at Brazil and Brazilians alike. I have joined the club today. I swear, they are all out to get me!

It started with a trip to an ears/nose/throat doctor for my youngest. I'm trying to figure out what's keeping him up at night crying. Mommy doesn't help, bottles don't work, coming to our bed does nothing.  It's a nightmare.  So the doctor calls us in and spends a whole 30 seconds with us. Of course he has me sign the insurance papers first, looks in my kid's ears, and tells me I have to go to a hospital and have them check him out. Hello, I could have done that in the first place you dumb ass.  Go there, get some random x-rays and check something else, blah blah, they'll know what to do.  He didn't even ask about his history.  I've asked for the little insurance payment paper back before but I was too tired to do it today. He technically checked him so screw it. I just won't be going back. 

It really was too good to be true to have an ENT near my place covered by  my insurance. I should have known!

So I gave up on that. Ears are clean, maybe my kid just likes to be a little bit of an asshole at night. Yes, it is ok for a mother to lovingly refer to their child as an asshole when they wake up 4 to 5 times a night and no one can find anything wrong with them. It's also a little disturbing seeing that we can't seem to make him feel better.  So if there is nothing wrong and he just doesn't want us to make him feel better, just wants to cry, whine, and scream, he is being a bit of an asshole.

So to continue with my hour of Brazilian hell.  My husband and I have been thinking of putting him in a big boy bed since he hates his crib. It hasn't always been this way but seem to be the theme now. He loves his brothers bed so let's try.  I'll try just about anything after 18 months without sleep (minus the 1 week 2 months ago so he is capable). 

I am looking for a guardrail for the bed.  Many stores have them online. Normally, you'd be able to assume that theses large stores would also have them in stock at their individual locations.  It'd be nice to be able to call and check. It's hard when their phone lines are disconnected. All of them!  And the online help number can't help you. You need to check with the store at whatever location you want to go to.

So I went to the store with my exhausted 18 month old. I finally found someone to help. She said they are in the baby section.  I controlled myself and did not say, duh I already checked there and they aren't any. That's why I'm talking to you. 

She brought me back over in case I'm actually blind and hadn't realized it.  Nope, none. I asked, again, if she could check the stock room or call a stock person and double check.  I was at Lojas Americanas by the way. We have one of the few non-express stores here in Laranjeiras. The few times I've managed to get someone to check in back, they've found what I've needed. She ignored me and walked away.  Well, I guess she still gets an A for effort for walking 3 feet and pointing to the baby stuff. 

I thought about running to the mall but the last thing I need to do is drive in this city in this mood.  I would so end up taking out a moto delivery guy or a taxi. 

Rio de Janeiro and Brazilians win today.  There are just some days where I wish it was easy to get stuff done!  I wish I could just run to the bank and not end up waiting for 2 hrs and seeing 2 different account managers because my specific account manager is on vacation and you can only do stuff with your manager, and crap like that. 

Screw dinner tonight. I'm ordering pizza. 

6 Best-Kept Secrets in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I found this post about the 6 best kept secrets in Rio.

1. Samba Schools throughout the year
2. The Maze
3. Ice Cream
4. Rio's Surf Bus
5. Plano B
6. Rock climbing

I have to disagree with number 1. Everyone knows that the samba schools practice year round. It's one of the first tours/organized trips any hotel/hostel will try to take you on.

I agree with The Maze but am shocked with how much press it's getting these days. I've been meaning to go for years, literally years. It's actually quite close to where I live. I really have to get going before it gets ruined with all this press.

The ice cream does rock. I hear there's an amazing new ice cream place next to the Sofitel in Copacabana.

Surf bus??

I totally agree with the rock climbing. There are a lot of amazing places to climb! You an also go on eco tours here. Look it up. I think it's a great alternative to the normal Rio de Janeiro tours.

Check out the original link:
6 Best-Kept Secrets in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It's goes into much more detail.

I would love to hear what all of you think is a Rio de Janeiro best kept secret! I've heard that many people think Niteroi is one.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Giardia - A little intestinal visitor

So my youngest had a little intestinal visitor.  We were doing a serious of random tests to confirm or, hopefully, dismiss certain allergies or problems.  That's when we found our little friend Giardia. 

Oh Giardia, how you hide. How you manage to not be found in random stool tests. Your spontaneous diarrhea is a thing of wonder. 

A gross post you say. Well, if you are going to live or visit Rio de Janeiro, get used to the idea of parasites. It's not something that is even hardly noticed. My 3 year old has been taking anti-parasite medication every 6 months since he was 2. They don't even bother to test after that age, it's so common. And, if you are from many 1st world countries, you don't know that the stool tests don't always find them.

Tricky little bastards.

I think the funniest part of the whole thing was the shock of a friend of mine's doctor girlfriend.  I had finally received the results of my youngster's more basic stool and blood tests. They were not on.  It was the first time I've ever experienced that. My oldest, myself, and my husband are like horses. We can take pretty much anything and still be some pretty fine steeds. 

She was kind enough to offer to look over the results. Keep in mind that in Brazil you go to private testing centers, receive the results, and then take them to your doctor.  Fun and scary at the same time. You get the results with listed norms and think, OMG I have no Eosinophilias!! I'm dying! What are Eosinophilias?

So she got down to the part about parasites. Colonies of Giardia. Lovely.  Her comment? In Scotland they'd treat the water if someone got it.  My husband and I had one hell of a good laugh at that. I don't think they treat the water as is down here!  Of course we drink from a filter. We make ice from a filter. We cook from a filter. I don't even boil tap water. You can. I know many who do but I can't handle it.  I always know when I've had boiled tap water. My tummy lets me know. 

So, how did he get it?  Well, you can get it many different ways but I'm pretty sure it was from drinking bath water. Any time I turned around he'd try to drink some.  From a cup, suck it out of the washcloth (which I brought because I've still yet to find them here), or from his hands.  The little typhoid Mary likes him some bath water. 

We have since taken care of the bath water issue. He lost interest. Not funny anymore, thank goodness.  But note to self, visitors, tourists, and residents alike, if you get the poos think parasite.  That's especially true if it lasts longer than 5 days. 

Disclaimer, Giardia isn't particularly easy or necessarily the most common beast to manage to attack the intestine.  They can be killed by stomach acid.  Our kicker, the little one takes Prilosec and has little to no stomach acid.  Oh those beasts found their perfect target. Too bad his Mommy is a bad ass and had them knocked off. 

Bootcamp in Rio!

I'm sure you've all heard about the Bootcamp exercise trend. I have a friend from high school who runs these kinds of training sessions in San Diego. I constantly see his posts and wish I could participate. 

It's right up my alley for working out. I thrive on someone yelling at me to keep going. I love circuit training.  I enjoy working out with others and using them as my motivation. 

Unfortunately, the commute from Rio de Janeiro to San Diego is a bit steep.  I won't be attending those classes anytime soon.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon bootcamp here in Rio!  Here's the site:  Bootcamp Rio.

One downside is that it's in Leblon/Lagoa or Barra. I live in Laranjeiras. Given, it's a better commute than San Diego but still far enough to give me an excuse to skip.  I think I'll hold out for Bootcamp in Flamengo but you guys could check it out!  Class start Feb 22nd.

Just do a girl a favor, if you do go, mention that they really should have a class in Flamengo. Aterro would be the perfect place to do it in the mornings!

ps. I'm not advertising for them. I'm honest to goodness excited to see it offered here!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friend Envy

Do you ever suffer from friend envy? I was reading a fellow blogger's post on it the other day and it got me thinking.

There are tough moments in my day when I imagine how it is to be someone else. Those special moments when you are looking at your account balance or both your kids are throwing fits at the same time.  Those special moments make me think of certain friends.

One friend in particular lives her life in a 5 star hotel. She travels the world, eats amazing cuisine, and drinks the finest wines. She has a view of the beach and a tv room. Oh the glory!  She never has to be pee-ed on or pooped on. She has never been woken 300 times in a night.  She doesn't have to schedule her day around naps, schools, or bedtimes.  She has total freedom.

On the other hand, she has never felt the feeling of absolute comfort a child gets when their Mommy walks into a room. She's never been the only thing that makes a little one feel better when they are sick, or the one they want to show their newest drawing to.  She doesn't get to take or demand snuggles.  She can't refer to them as mine.  And she has total freedom.

I miss it, I do, but total freedom has a cost. You have to fill that freedom.  You have to find things to do with you time. I remember being bored.  Wow, that's a concept I can't even imagine at this point. I'd pay a babysitter just to feel bored, except I'd end up organizing, doing laundry, or running to the store. 

I'd love to be able to spend diaper money on something else. Keep in mind, diapers cost a pretty penny down here.  Then again, if I didn't have to buy diapers, I wouldn't have a little toosh to wrap up.  It's amazing that we can find those little tooshes so cute after seeing everything that comes out of them. I mean EVERYTHING. 

So I guess you could say I don't really have friend envy. I have friend appreciation. I really do appreciate all the fun things my friends get to do.  I get a healthy jealousy when I hear a friend is going to Italy or Spain, Chile or Australia. I am, honestly, at my highest level of maturity in my life thus far to be able to be stoked for my friends and slightly jealous because I'm so stoked for my friends. 

They also share with me. My wonderful childless friends meet up with me at a whim, when I have a babysitter or when I'm not too exhausted to go out.  They come over or have my whole family over and play with my kids for hours. They don't even flinch if something is broken.  My 5 star friend lets me sit on her balcony, enjoy her view, and drink her wine whenever I want.  I have wonderful childless friends.  

And when the going gets tough, and I mean really tough, aka. ear infection, staph infection, husband traveling, and period all at the same time, I remember that it's going to be one hell of a post eventually. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

1960s? Not ok

I'm going to be de-frumpatized tomorrow.  I passed the saloon (I wish) and scheduled my procedures. Wax? yes. Only at 930am.  Well, I think I can fit a pedi in there.

Finally the broken toe is healed enough to be manhandled!  Thank goodness.  When you have man feet like I do, the least you can do is keep them clean and tidy.

And the wax. Ana, my waxing lady, is going to be shocked. I think I should have a pet name or something for her. We are way beyond the first name basis. 

Anyway, she'll feel like she took a time machine to the 60s and the hair-kini. Ok, big exaggeration but it's been a while since I've been pamper.

Can you call getting your cuticles ripped off and your pubic hair pulled out from the roots pampering?  For this lady, yes. This is pampering that is for me and me alone.  Fair enough, my husband does get some pleasure from it.

That is the beauty about Rio de Janeiro. You can get everything taken care of. A friend of mine once visited, in my pre-kid days. I took her to get a mani pedi and the ladies were horrified. She's never had her cuticles cut?!  Of course not, that's illegal in my country.  What?!  Well, so many things are illegal that they just had to start making up stuff to keep law makers in business. Actually, I just nodded. I didn't bother trying to explain infections and such.

The best part was when they started exfoliating her feet. They said it just couldn't be done with a board. Her feet were way out of hand. Blame 9 years of retail work in heels.  They told me they were bringing out the machine.  Imagine my joy when I translated that for her.

What machine?! I had no idea. Well, it was a sander. Yes people, a sander. I'm going to go ahead and assume it was made especially for feet.  It did not feel that way to my friend. The tickle torture was unbearable and they had to hold down her legs. What impressed me the most was how determined they were to get her feet up to their status quo!

She never did go back to that salon again.  Even though they insisted she needed to come back the next week for more torture... I mean beautifying.  It's ok though. How many people can say they went to the salon, laughed, cried, and walked out with a good story.  Well, maybe about every foreigner in Rio...

June, the month of Balloons and Fire

A big tissue paper balloon filled with oil and set on fire.  That just sounds like a great idea!

The police found another one of these illegal balloons the other day in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro.

The lighting and flying of these traditional Festa Junina balloons is illegal and one of the things police try to focus on in the month of June.  The balão is filled with air and has a little basket filled with oil. The oil is then set on fire to make the balloon glow. It's then released into the sky.  I imagine it's beautiful to watch.  What I can't imagine are people not realizing that what goes up, must come down.  And in this case, it comes down on fire. 

Fans of the balloons are trying to get the law overturned. They feel they can not have Festa Junina without them.  'This law goes against our national traditions and is an act of aggression against Brazilian culture and identity,'' said Humberto Pinto, director of the Society of Friends of the Balloon, which is lobbying to have the law revoked. ''You can't have the Festas Juninas without balloons in the skies: it is like trying to have Carnival without the samba or the parade floats.''

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Mr. Humberto Dumbass Pinto.  There are so many aspects to Festa Junina that I think you can forgo sending a big ball of fire into the sky. It's like playing Russian Balloon roulette.  Who's getting taken out this time? A house, a plane, the forest, or all of the above?

It's hard to have your traditions taken away.  That I get.  On the other hand, we're hopefully getting smart with time and this is one tradition that has to go.

Here's a link to videos of the last fire said to be caused by these balloons: Dos Cabritos hill fire
And check out this NY times article on the subject: Rio Journal

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Foie Gras? I'm in!

Foie gras and wine. I'm so very Parisian.

Maybe not. The foie gras is from the German place on the way to Petropolis and the wine is from Australia. Doesn't matter, it's good anyway!

One day I'll make it to Paris! I'm going to drink wine in a plaza, hardly nibble on the wonderful food (we all know that one isn't true), and smoke cigarettes.

One of my biggest regrets, and I don't have many, is that I didn't go on a Paris trip with my roommate back in the day. Tickets were on sale, $200 roundtrip from San Diego. Maybe it was $400. Regardless, that is cheap.

I just didn't have the money. Ok, neither did my roommate but she had a much less money restricting perspective on things.  Now, more than 7 years later, I should have gone. I don't have that money now so what did I miss it for!  If I had gone, I'd have the memories.  I will never again have the chance to run around Paris with my bestfriend, in my 20s that is.  By the way, I think we were both single at the time. 

Oh well. Can't turn back time.  But I'm not dead.  I had a foreigner friend give me a wonderful piece of advice. He's easily in his late 50s.  He was playing his guitar in the plaza while our boys played. I mentioned that I've always wanted to learn how to play the Cello.

You're going to love this.

He then asked me if I was dying. Of course not!  He pointed out that I'm young. My kids would have their own lives by the time I'm 40.  Why not learn then. Still gives me over 20 years to perfect it.  That has stuck with me.

I will live and love my life now.  I will enjoy every moment with small children, medium children, large children, and then adults (extra large children). Come on, I'm so an extra large child!

When my empty nest syndrome comes in, I'm going to Paris. Shelby, pack you bags!  Here in 20 years we're out of here!

Boys who play with Dolls

I was cruising the park scene this afternoon when I was approached by 3 college students with a video camera.  Their target was found and they approached. 

They asked if they could ask me a question. Sure, why not.  Then they qualified and asked if they could ask me a question and then film my response. Ok.  They turned on the camera first and got ready to ask.  For one second, I thought they were going to ask me something dirty or do something just to shock me on camera.  Then I remembered, it's me.  It'd have to be pretty damn good to get a reaction. 

"Can boys play with dolls?"  That was it?!  Of course they can!  I told them my son even has a princess castle set.  Oh yes, Little People pink princess castle courtesy of his Nana Kay. 

They were very pleased with my response. 

I don't get the big deal. I don't see a problem with my son playing with dolls. I see no big deal in Shiloh Jolie Pitt dressing like a boy.  I don't see the an issue in children playing with everything, including gender identity. It's not just normal, it's healthy. 

My son wants to be either a robot or Spiderman. He thinks his bruises from playing on the playground are the beginning of his Spiderman transformation.   If enjoying toys labeled for the other sex is questionable, then thinking you are slowly changing into a make believe superhero is crazy. Oh wait, it's not because Superheros are a boy thing.  Duh.

It's a load of crap and, of course, you get even more of it in Brazil.  My son also used to like to have his toe nails painted.  Of course blue or red, something related to Spiderman. Aren't we all surprised.  I saw no problem with it and ignored my husband's protests until we had a little incident at the park. Thankfully Luka was too little to get it but a group of older boys, around 4 yrs old and he was 2 1/2, were following him around pointing and laughing. He didn't get it. I told him they thought he was funny and I stopped painting his toes. 

The next time he asked, I had to explain that certain things are for girls and certain things are for boys. It was a conversation that made me kind of sad.  I felt like I was telling him, here's your box and you have to live in it. Enjoy!  But I feel that it was the lesser of two evils.  Kids are mean.  In his class, him playing house with his friends is ok but a boy with painted nails is not.

But part of me wonders, where's this coming from. My kid had no idea about societal standards of his masculinity at 3 years old. Wonder how it came about in the other kids...

And the machismo machine lives on. 

Thoughts? Do you steer your kid towards gender specific toys or let them choose for themselves? Would you be ok if your son wanted pink shoes or your daughter wanted to cut all her hair off?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where to ride in Rio de Janeiro

Here's a feel good post + Rio de Janeiro tip for all you out there.

There's nothing better than riding your bike in Aterro. Continue riding down all of Praia Flamengo and Praia Botafogo. The daring can maneuver the tunnel and head into Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon.

I just took my youngest on this ride. Not the long one down to Leblon. This Momma is far too out of shape to do that at this point.  Plus the tunnels scare me. I won't walk through them, much less ride with my kid basically sitting on my handlebars (in a seat).

We rode over to Aterro from our apartment and continued down all of Praia Flamengo and then back. It wasn't a long ride but it was a good one.

The view is amazing. Walking, running, cycling, crawling, or even skipping, Aterro is the place to do it.  The view of sugarloaf on a sunny day will take away any Rio de Janeiro woes you have.

My favorite thing to do when I hate this city, which happens sometimes, is to run in Aterro. I don't get to do it often but I don't hate that city that often either.

Rio de Janeiro can get to a foreigner sometimes. Hell, it can get to a Carioca.  It could be bureaucracy drama, condominium problems, family problems, or something as simple as traffic.  I've gotten pissed when the grocery store didn't have one box of milk. Seriously, the delivery guy hadn't come and there was absolutely no regular milk. I had to buy powered. It was ridiculous.  Add that to no sleep and an already cranky Rachel and you have I hate Rio de Janeiro.

A quick run and it's better. You can't help but feel lucky to live here running past that view!

The beach also works. Actually, the beach works so well that Cariocas have a saying about it.

"There's nothing a good day at the beach can't cure"

I have to say, I do agree

What do you do to make yourself fall in love with Rio de Janeiro all over again?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Portuguese in a handbasket

Geez louise, my Portuguese is going to hell in a handbasket.  I've been noticing here and there but have finally accepted that I've let my 2nd language slip a bit too far.

It started with one of my 3 yr old's preschool class assignments. I saw the note in his school agenda and, in true Rachel style, we did it last minute. I had skimmed the note and was positive I had down what we were supposed to do. Imagine my surprise when we showed up with the model canoe Luka and I made together, only to get a confused look from the teacher. Don't forget the awkward thank you. 

Come to find out, chatting with the other ex-pat Mom who's son happens to be in the class, we were supposed to do research on whatever type of boat we were assigned. Oops. It was supposed to consist of a page of facts and pictures.  Well I was way off there. In my defense, I was scanning a note in my second language while, simultaneously, talking to a 3 year old and caring for a 1 year old. 

Yeah, I know that excuse is a load of crap too but I could believe it if I really wanted to.

Fast forward to this evening. I picked up a note from our building manager and a note a neighbor left in our mailbox.  Before I even opened it, I was thinking drama and complaints. I scanned the neighbor's note, it was nothing.  I scanned the building manager's note. Bingo! Drama.  I scanned it and, in my little English speaking head, it spelled drama with a capital DIVA.  I mean, he actually said to not complain in person and to please put any complaints down in writing to the building and said apartment occupants. 

Has to be a backstory there, right? Wrong. I had read the attitude of the letter totally wrong.  No drama. It's just the building manager communicating the right and wrong ways to, well, communicate.  If you need to talk to someone, kill a tree and send a note.  Is that anti-climactic or what.  And the neighbor's letter, obviously in response to the building manager's letter, was about how he feels we should reform the lighting in the building. 

Well there you go.  I'm putting it on the to do list.  Take Portuguese classes. It's right behind make lunch and dinner, make sure children survive life, and take a shower. I'll get there!  It's a priority now.

Book whore?

I have become an English language book whore. It was a making of my own as I never seem to bring enough back with me.

I find, after years of living in Rio de Janeiro, that I will essentially read any book in English that I can get my hands on.  It's horrible. I've actually felt shame over some books and discovered a guilty pleasure with others that I never would normally have read.

One of the worst books I've read was 'If the Buddha Married'. It just wasn't my cup of tea.  I'm sure others have found it helpful or insightful but, in all honesty, I'm about as Zen as a crack addict. I can't help it. I run on spit and vinegar. I'm happy. I play around and tease. But I'm not Zen. 

Once, I actually got so desperate for a book that I started re-reading an old one from a religion class I took in college. Just so you know, 'Who Wrote the Bible' is a very interesting book but does not make a good free-time read. 

What about bookstores? Out of principal, I won't buy English books at bookstores in Rio de Janeiro. I can't stand the cost!  It's a crime to charge R$40 for a paperback!  Don't even get me started on the R$24 for a fashion magazine.

I finally broke down and started ordering from Amazon.  It's not that expensive and the shipping is fair. I had resisted for so long in hopes that I'd finally pick up a book in Portuguese and expand my Portuguese mind.

It never happened. I found myself searching through books people were selling on the streets. Occasionally you do find English.  They almost always have Fabio on the cover. Even a book whore has her limits.