Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mother/Mother-in-law MD

I was reading a blog post about someone´s mother-in-law MD situation.  You know the one, where your MIL thinks she´s a doctor and tells you what you, your husband/wife/partner, and children have.  My MIL is pretty good about this. She doesn´t tell me what we have, only advises us on how to treat it.  Being I´m outside my own country, that´s not totally unwelcome.  Given, some of the treatment ideas in Brazil are down right crazy to me, none-the-less I´m a girl who needs some Brazilian treatment guidance. 

The one who´s the MD in our extended family is my Mother. My mother is a sometime blog reader of mine so, in case she reads this, Yes Mom I´m talking about you. 

Seriously, any and all ailments I can think of we have in our family. It´s an anomaly that my family has managed to survive long enough to continue breeding.  We have GERD, ADD, OCD, Manic depression, cancer, asthma, thyroid disorders, heart disease, alcoholism, allergies, and ear infections to name a few. 

I love my Mother, and (Mom this is for you) I enjoy getting each and every diagnosis.  I find it useful, and if not, humorous.  It happens. 

Now on the other hand, I don´t know how my husband feels about it. He´s so Carioca he could have a heart attack without knowing. Actually, he is so mellow that he walked around for 3 days with a collapsed lung and developed bacterial pneumonia before going to the hospital.

You know, when you say that out loud it makes you wonder if he´s super mellow or just a little bit retarded.  I´m going to go with mellow because he´s my husband and I love him.

Anyway, to those of you with the MIL MD issue, don´t take it to heart. It´s caring with a capital short bus and giant gold star. 

Here´s the original article for you curious readers: My Mother-In-Law the wannabe doctor

A little note on Brazilian Mother in Laws

So I forgot a very simple Brazilian Mother in Law rule last night. My MIL called to ask if I wanted her to come stay with me these last couple of days Daniel is away.  I told her of course but if she didn´t want to or had things to do, she should feel obligated.

Wrong answer!  The right thing would have been to insist that she comes. She will question you 3 times and you must insist 3 times! That´s the game people. 

It´s really quite funny and I know I´ve offended my poor MIL a couple of times because I´m not very good at games, even in English. But it´s a cultural fact here. It´s the daughter/son in law´s job to make the MIL feel wanted. 

And don´t get me wrong, I´d love for her to stay here for a couple of days. I mean, we´re talking good company and help with the kids.  At the same time, I´m fine and I don´t want her to stay because she feels obligated but to stay because she wants to.

That is wrong as well.  It´s not bad to be obligated in Brazil.  You are supposed to be obligated. You are obligated to help the MIL, the Grandma, the Aunt, the Uncle, the Cousin, the Cousin´s boyfriend, the Cousin´s boyfriend´s doorman, the Cousin´s boyfriend´s doorman´s cousin... you get the picture.

It´s the beauty of Brazil and it´s best not to rock the boat doing what our culture considers polite, denying help. No no no, here you accept help with open arms and a big old kiss. 

I know I just did!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Honking Magic

Rua das Laranjeirasa has traffic every day from about 6pm to 8pm. Every day people. You can count on it as much as you can count on morning wood, well in men from the ages of 12 to 48. 

Hell, all of Zona Sul, Rio de Janeiro for that matter, has traffic from 6pm to 8pm.  And that´s why I get so annoyed when people honk.

I live right on Rua das Laranjeiras with a beautiful view of the street from my living room. Jealous? I know!  Anyway, every single night there´s at least 3 jack asses who honk like the seven horses of the Apocalypse, or how they would honk if they were driving cars and not flying horses.  So what´s the deal? It´s not like it´s a surprise. Not even foreigners would say "Oh my, Rua das Laranjeiras has traffic. How strange". 

I swear, deep down in their hearts they think their horns are magic.  It´s really the only excuse.  They think if they honk enough, the cars are going to suddenly part and it´ll be smooth sailing all the way up to the Santa Barbara tunnel. 

What they don´t realize is that their horns really are magic, only not in the way that it seems.  One of these days, if they keep honking them enough, they are going to call a strange tall, blond woman who will seemingly fly out from nowhere and rip the damn horn right out of their steering wheel. 

All I need now is a cape...

Project work out

So I´m finally going to try to get back in shape after my second child.  I figure this second child is almost 2 now so maybe I should get on it already.

But what to do?!  I feel like I have an endless amount of options in Laranjeiras/Flamengo alone

I checked out a dance studio near my place. It looked good but I just couldn´t see myself busting out belly dancing.  That´s the spot that I feel needs the most work, like I want to show it off and shake the jelly around. Going to have to go with no.

I did find out that they have half off pilates (during certain hours) at the same studio. Of course all the slots were full.  I really wanted to have a go at those pilates machines! And it´s "core" exercising, right?  I´m on the waiting list. 

Ok, so that leaves me with the gym.  Oh man, I really don´t think I can pull that one off again. Weights and cardio, aerobics and weird sweaty old dudes asking me where I´m from every freakin´ day.  I just don´t have the stamina anymore to pump myself up literally and figuratively.  Next

Running?  I tried but the whole self motivation thing is really challenging my exhaustion and laziness.  Not to mention my bad hips.

Yoga... Walk softly and carry a big stick, so here I go. I hate it. Oops, that wasn´t soft at all. It´s so boring people!  And so stretchy. Stretchy and boring!  Man, I´m never going to be in the cool crowd, am I?

Rock climbing. I´ve tried that before. Coordination and chafing issues.

So what to do?!  I really want to get some muscle tone back and just improve my overall shape.  My goal is to have it figured out this week.  I have around 4 months until we go stateside for a Christmas visit. I will gain at least 10lbs on this trip.  It happens every time. I don´t know how.  I think it´s magic. Or maybe it´s the 200 boxes of pop-tarts I consume upon landing. 

Anyway, any suggestions would be welcome. Let´s figure out Rachel´s workout plan! 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ding Dong the Giardia is Dead!

Hopefully I´m not jinxing myself but the stool tests for both boys came back clean! Not so much as a colony of the little bastards!  WOO HOO.  Take that parasites.  Eat off my young and I will kill you dead! Bwahahaha

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh the Shock

I love the parks in Rio de Janeiro.  When you find a good one, they are beautiful, full of greenery, and have plenty of space to run.  That last part is an issue with my youngest, the runner. He has no fear of losing Mom. Actually, I think that´s his plan. Lose the dead weight.

So here´s an off the wall solution.  Are you familiar with dog shockers?  They are little collars that give an itsy bitsy shock, via remote, when the dog is doing something less than desirable.  Why don´t they have these for toddlers?

Hello, we´ve all heard of Pavlov and time outs at a park are a bitch. I propose a low dose shockage for small children. They run off, shock, they fall over and Mom can get them without a problem. Cruel you say.  Well, yes, in this fruity tutty culture it is.  Actually, it would have been considered cruel during communist ruling in Germany but that is besides the point. 

I tell you, I give the kid one, maybe 2 shocks max, and that behavior isn´t going to continue.  Want to break the pacie habit, pacie shock pacie shock and DONE!  It could work with overly trying teens or wondering husbands. SHOCK SHOCK and DONE! 

I´m just saying, if it doesn´t hurt the dog, maybe it won´t hurt the kid. 

Could you imagine me pitching this in Brazil where they just banned spanking.

And, of course, there would have to be psychological reviews of purchasers pre-purchase. Then there´d be the kinky people buying it for at home pleasure...

I guess I´ll just have to settle for the pretend remote going SHOCK, STOP.  Kind of like my husband and the pretend mute button.  Oh, if only parenting were that easy...

** Disclaimer:  Before the hate mail starts, I´m not a child abuser or anything close to that.  It´s just that, if you are a parent, you´ve had a moment where you wish there was an easy answer button to push to let your kid know it´s not ok to do whatever it is that they are doing. Ask any friends of mine and you´ll know that I run after them, bring them back, and give them the good old Brazilian ay ay ay, we don´t do that.  Enough said.  But humor the crazy and sassy idea of Pavlov and good old positive/negative reinforcement without all the chit chat.  All of us parents have had a moment where we´ve felt our child is more animal than human.  It happens. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Let´s fight healthcare costs one dollar at a time

Once again,  I feel compelled to rave about the private medical system here in Rio de Janeiro. 

As I´ve mentioned before, my husband had one of his lungs spontaneously collapse on him and he spent a decent amount of time in the hospital (including the ICU).  We didn´t pay a dime!

A friend of mine from high school was in a car accident recently. Thankfully he´s a smart young man and got himself some health insurance.  Regardless, it only covers 70%.  70 % you say, not too bad, right?  Well, these kinds of things add up, especially with the price of medical care stateside. He already owes more than $15,000.  Let´s add to the occasion that the poor guy is self employed.  So, as luck would have it, he´s not only racking up bills, but also not getting paid. 

Poor guy is taking it both ways and I don´t think that´s what he ordered.

The point of this post is that some closer friends of his are reaching out and starting to raise funds for him.  Check out his site  Is Steve Still Alive?

I know the economy is tight -I think someone is pinching quarters out of my purse while I´m sleeping- but every little bit helps.  So if you got a extra couple of bucks, or find my missing quarters, let´s donate them to keeping Steve financial future out of the hands of the Man!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When the cat's away the mice will play

When the cat's away the mice will play.

That´s how I should feel with my husband gone, right?  Of course I have the kiddies but a girl can still have G-rated (possibly PG omg) fun with the kids in tow. 

So where`s my go get `em attitude?  Personally, I think it got on the plane with Daniel this afternoon.  I´m honestly choked up about him being gone for, heaven forbid, 9 whole days.  My goodness, when did I become such a drama queen. Oh wait, I always have been. Forgot for a minute.

What can I say, I miss his presence.  I´m not a clingy wife, quite the contrary.  But I miss him sitting on the couch.  I miss him filling my sink with dirty dishes.  I especially miss him asking if I´m ever going to get off the phone or computer long enough to sit and watch a movie with him, which he would normally being just about now.

It doesn´t help that my first weekend alone with the boys is looming ahead.  Weird seeing that I´ve spent a countless number of summer weeks entertaining the two little beautiful spazzes on my own. Why should a weekend bother me?

I´ve figured out the real problem.  I just adore the man and enjoy his company, even if the definition of that company is solely sharing oxygen in the same apartment. Seems to make the oxygen taste even better. Damn it, I just made myself throw up in my own mouth. 

Ok, no more wine for me and I´m turning off the Glee version of "Can´t Fight This Feeling". To explain, I enjoy the guilty pleasure of wine and old school romantic songs.  Make fun if you will but you all know there´s been at least one night you´ve blasted a little Mariah, Earth Wind and Fire, Celine, or Boyz II Men!  There, I´ve said it!  You can relax because it´s out on the table.

On my bucket list: Tomatina

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Buñol, a beautiful red and slimy day.

A very good friend of mine opened my eyes to this fabulous festival that happens near Valencia, Spain.  The idea of it brings tears to my eyes, literally and figuratively.  

You see, the streets are filled with over-ripe tomatoes and there is a HUGE tomato fight!  Check it out:

It´s almost as good a swimming in jello but kind of better since you get to throw it at other people. 

I will be there one day! Mark my words!

What festival, city, event, etc do you want to visit?

Party or Disney?

My student and I were talking about rights of passage in class yesterday.  A significant one in Brazil is a girl´s 15th birthday.  It´s basically the Brazilian version of our sweet 16 but much cooler and pretty hardcore. We´re talking big money, not that it´s new by way of birthday parties here. If you have kids, you´ve been to the R$3,000 plus bday parties that many people throw every year... even for 1 year olds.  Scratch that, especially for 1 year olds.

Anyway, we were talking about how it´s become some what of a tradition that these 15 year olds can choose between the big party or a trip to Disney World with their friends.  Isn´t that kind of ironic? They can either have the big party displaying them as a " woman" or go to the happiest place on Earth filled with families and small children. 

My husband put a different spin on it. At 19, he got the coolest job in the world for a Brazilian teen.  He lived in Orlando and was paid to go around with Brazilian groups and videotape their time in Disney world.  People, you don´t even want to know the trouble your kids get into on these trips.

His point is that they are not choosing something innocent and childlike in the slightest, they are choosing freedom from their parents. They are sent with little to no supervision and get to run around in what the parents consider a safe environment. And let´s be honest, what trouble can they really get into in Disney world? 


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Flag

Symptoms of Physical Exhaustion
  • Stomach Pain
  • Fever
  • Anger
  • Chest Pain
  • Insomnia

I have 3 out of 5! Woo Hoo!  I´m lacking anger and fever.

Yes, yet another exhausted post. This is my first opportunity to sit in front of the computer and it only won over the couch because I´m quite attached to the idea of daily posting.

I had the kids all morning, cooking responsibilities, school drop off, then two back to back English classes. After my 330 to 430 class, it was back to the school for 'oficina'.  Oficina is parent activity hour with the kids. We parents go there and make something for some event with our kids.  This week is literary week so we made the beginnings of our kids´ costumes for tomorrow´s festivities.

Finally home, make dinner, feed people (fast and easy dinner today), Daddy bath time, and then bed. Oh, then my evening class.  Ugggg, long day. 

Let´s add to it a baby with bronchitis.  Fun times peeps.  The only thing that saved me is that my Saint of a hubby let me sleep in until 830am this morning!  Sadly, the Saint is leaving me tomorrow for a 9 day snowboarding excursion with his buddies.  Hey, even Saints need time off, right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Drowning in stool

Warning, this is a Mommy post and not a pretty one.

I have been turned into a professional stool sample taker.  It´s all I do. When they see me walking up to the door of the lab we use, they start pulling out the cups.*

Moms are known for many things. Some Moms make cookies, some paint with their kids, many spend the day at the park. If my life continues like this, my kids will remember me for yelling 'No no, hold it a second longer! I need to get the cup!' 

We are on borderline ridiculous people!  There is nothing grosser than opening your fridge in the morning to grab the milk and getting an eyeful of the brown ugly.  Seriously, there is nothing kosher about poo. 

This is my last war on the giardia!  I´m done!

Should we get a clean sample, I´m no longer giving my children water, taking them to the beach, or feeding them fruits and veggies.  It´s Coke, processed foods, sitting on the couch, and nuggets all the way baby.  Wait a second, I think I just figured out why we don´t have this problem in the states...

* (Fyi: In Brazil you go to private labs to get your tests done. You can also pick up any sample cups you need from there.)

The Best in Rio de Janeiro: Esfiha

There´s a magnet in my butt. Seriously, there is a magnet it my butt.

You´d have to see it to believe it but let me try to explain. I walk past the entrance to the Galleria Condor in Largo do Machado and I am slowly pulled in.  Of course it´s not butt first but for decency reasons, let´s just say the magnet is there. 

So, the attracting half is connected to the Lebanese (Arabic, whatever you want to call it) place.  It´s the only explanation.  It happens ever time I pass the entrance of the Galleria. I literally get pulled in by my ever growing ass to the counter.  At that point, if I´m already there, I might as well order some cheese esfihas. 

I just can´t control myself.  They have the best esfihas in all of Rio de Janeiro. Of course you will logically ask, have you eaten esfihas from all the esfiha places in Rio de Janeiro?  Hell no people!  What do you think I am, crazy?  No, these are just so damn good that I feel totally and completely comfortable making a blatantly uneducated statement that they are the best. They are that good!  Honestly though, Cariocas say the same thing. These esfihas are famous. 

Now I´ve told you where they are located but have not given you the address. That´s because I´m a selfish bitch and don´t want my already busy place to get totally packed with foreigners (I never see foreigners there!) So why am I writing about it then?  I guess I´m just a big old esfiha/Lebanese food tease.  Actually, I don´t know the exact address. Just walk in, you´ll see it. 

Oh, and everything else is amazing too! Great rice with lentils and caramelized onions. Amazing stuffed zucchini, eggplant, and cabbage! 

And be nice to the people who work there! If you become a regular, you will start to recognize them and vice versa. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

A few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things, whiskers on kittens, store bought mittens, and waiting for 2.5 hours at urgent care...

For starters, everything is A-Ok, which is kind of annoying after over 2 hours.  I spent the weekend with chills and a fever, plus shortness of breath.  It was voted on by my husband and mother and decided that I needed to get checked out today. This voting system shows I´m even more Brazilian than I thought.

So it´s a virus.  Thankfully so.  I hate taking antibiotics or any medicine for that matter.  Of course, after about 1.5 hours in Urgent care, your mind starts going a little crazy. You start thinking that they´d better find something, anything.  It could be anemia, a parasite, tennis elbow, a pimple, I don´t care what it is but after this long FIND SOMETHING! 

It´s so frustrating to know you "wasted" time. Of course it´s not wasted. Better to be safe than sorry. Then again, I would have preferred my unsafe and sorry ass in bed watching a movie during my free time but what´s done is done. 

It just all comes down to my kids. Sure, sure, blaming the little ones again.  But it is their fault.  I have two little men I adore and that makes me realize that I have to be immortal. There´s no way around it. I can not break their hearts, I can not trust anyone else to raise them like I do, and I just basically have to be here forever.  That need for immortality, oddly enough, just seems to accentuate the fact that I am, in fact, mortal. 

Ah well, what can you do?  You get sick and see a doctor. They get sick and they see a doctor. Hell, my kids look sideways and they see a doctor.  They really shouldn´t expect any less from their Momma. 

Rio de Janeiro is all grown up

Who ever says that Brazil isn´t developing, hasn´t paid a visit to Lapa after not going for 2 years.

Holy Crap, I was completely taken aback.  First off, they´ve closed the main street! There´s no more packed tiny sidewalk, trying to squeeze by to get to where you are going, and unfortunate "accidental" ass grabs. 

Then there are the port-a-potties. Port-a-Potties!!  I can´t even tell you the adventure it once was to find a proper toilet to pee in when you were drinking on the streets of Lapa. I used to go to this warehouse where they´d post a tiny sign saying R$1 toilet.  You´d have to pass all the storage to get to the far back end to where the bathroom was. If it were a horror move, you would have told yelled 'NO NO, Don´t do it you stupid Woman!'

And now it´s all tourist friendly, slightly European even!  I almost forgot to mention the stands. They have official vendor stands. Gone are the days of the Styrofoam box on a cart full of ice and beer and vendor stands in the more inconvenient of places. 

I will say that the change is welcome. It was much easier to maneuver and a far more pleasant of a stroll. You can actually enjoy the architecture now... because that´s why so many of the people go to Lapa in the first place.  riiiggghhht

So our little Rio de Janeiro is growing up. It just happens so fast. Good for you Rio!

Friday, August 20, 2010

3 wishes

Wishes are a tricky thing. Hell, if they weren´t there wouldn´t be the phrase " Be careful what you wish for"

If I had 3 wishes today, here´s what I´d wish for:
1.For my breasts to be back in their pre-breastfeeding/pre-pregnancy condition. 
2. For my 19 month old to sleep 13 hrs straight every night and wake up happy
3. To be independently SUPER wealthy

# 1 is superficial. What can I say? I´m a superficial girl in a superficial world. Seriously though, give a girl a break.  Actually, give the girls a break.  They were pretty darn good in their hay day.  And implants just aren´t the same. So Fairy Godmother, a little lift and fill please.

#2 is because I´m at the point of prayer. I´m totally out of options and don´t know what to do. I´m almost considering co-sleeping...

#3 is because money makes things easier.  Does it buy happiness?  Well, those who don´t have it seem to say no.  I think it creates ease.  I would want my husband to keep working and I would become a lady that lunches. Only sounds fair right? Hey now, I created life, twice.  I think I can retire now.  In all seriousness, I think people need goals and a reason to get out of jammies in the morning.  Ok, Daniel at least has to get a hobby.

My 3 yr old´s 3 wishes:
1. For everything at his 4th birthday party to be from Ben 10.
2. A Ben 10 watch
3. A Ben 10 bedspread

That´s from the horse´s mouth people.  Isn´t it amazing how much simpler it is for a 3 year old!  

In all seriousness, I could come up with some deep ones but what´s the fun in that.  Let someone else wish for world peace and tell me what simple or frivolous things you´d wish for.  Pretty please with a big old fairy on top!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Foreigners of every shape and size

We foreigners come in all shapes and sizes and I´ve been seeing us everywhere. I´d like to take a minute and categorize us into pretty little boxes.

Let´s start with

The I´m So Cool Guy:  Always male, the I´m too guy is proud to be an American.  He´s so proud that it´s painfully obvious to the rest of us.  He feels that being American will get him laid.  He´s right but will also probably result in a child.  Be careful guy and wrap it up.

The Portuguese Speaker:  This one has taken some courses or learned on the fly. They have mastered a working Portuguese and have the need to use it, always. That includes speaking in Portuguese with people from their home country so that passerbys will be aware of their skills.  Sometimes annoying, yes. But you have to give them a gold star for effort.

The Foreigner:  They are not here to blend in or mix.  They will live their day to day life as close to the 1st world as humanly possible. Not bad people, just a different comfort level. I do encourage pushing the food envelope as you will find a great many hidden treasures down here. For example, stop at someone´s house in Buzios that has a sign promoting PFs. Cheap, good, and you get to eat in someone else´s living room. Interesting experience. Be careful though, this group usually has more sensitive stomachs.

The Local:  They know everything and anything that is going on before your Brazilian friends do. Actually, they already are best friends with your Brazilian friends and everyone else in Rio de Janeiro.

The Converted:  You may suspect they are a traveler but can not confirm unless you manage to have a candid convo with them.  That will be unlikely because they surround themselves with Cariocas and prefer it that way. Not haters but are here to here and want like company.  They have mastered conversational Portuguese. Don´t feel bad, just ask them to write an essay in the language.  They´ll cringe at the thought just like anyone else.

The Newbie:  This bright eyed and busy tailed young person is new to traveling. They look like they´ll be eaten alive here, hell, anywhere.  Don´t worry, they´ll do just fine, have a blast, and officially catch the travel bug.

The serial traveler:  Water bottle holder, check.  Guide books (note the plural), check.  Day backpack, check. Money belt, check check.  They will see and check off every major site in the city. They are polite but will not mix too much as they have a tour in the morning. Brings to mind, have you hugged your angry German today?  I know I have!

The Chameleon: No one knows exactly how many countries this person has lived in nor where they are from exactly. They seem to blend in everywhere, regardless of knowing the language and/or culture or not.  Can be found in Catete.

The drunk: Isn´t there always one of these.  They are on the beach, the streets of Lapa, asleep in cabs, and getting robbed in Copacabana.  Always stimulating the economy, the drunk enjoys the trip immensely. Well, what they can remember. That´s why we have cameras anyway, right? Wait a minute, where´s my camera?

The Partier:  Loving the ruleless party scene, this person is at every bar, club, disco, restaurant, and after-hours juice stand in the city.  Not me. I´ve been retired from this post ever since I´ve been required to function at or above the level of a 2 year old before noon. 

The Obvious:  These ones try, they really do. They buy Haviannas, they purchase Flamengo shirts, and they hide their cameras until they need them.  You have to give them an A for effort but the lobster sun burn and crew cut just give them away.

And I call out to readers to give me more!  What kind of Foreigners do you notice in your country or country of residence?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No Centro

I got to go to the wonderful world of downtown Rio de Janeiro today.  I can´t help it but I love that place. It´s the knick knack capital of Knick Knack Hell!  Hoarders beware, you will not make it out of the centro alive!

My first favorite thing is that, no centro, I´m the slow walker.  Karma is a bitch people and I´m blocking your way.  It´s like walking on train tracks. I was taken down 3 times this afternoon.

I can´t help it. I become a looky loo when I get down there.  There´s so much going on.  You have the vendor selling black market dvds, the guy throwing the glowing ball thing up in the air, H Stern, clothing stores with sales, shoes, shoes, more shoes, and the biggest newsstands in the city.  It´s like an acid trip gone bad, or good, depending on your preference. 

And I love the mix. There´s a little bit of everything down there.  The super star executive, the movie star doing a commercial, the patricinha going to the bank, the street kid, the artist, the vendor, the English teacher, and the regular guy. We all chill downtown. 

The best part, you can get a metro straight there.  The 3 main point of downtown are covered.

Maybe I like it so much because I´m comfortable down there. Downtown is where I basically starting teaching.  I know my way around pretty well for a Gringa.  I even managed to buy a good keyboard and get a 20% even though I paid with a card. Not bad I say. 

Lacking a letter

Milk got onto my keyboard today.  Lucky me. I have a certain letter that will not work for the life of me.  I'll be out of the loop until I get it fixed, hopefully it won't take too long!  Can you think of the letter?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To Nebulize or not to Nebulize?

As much as I love holding down a screaming child and nebulizing them, I wonder if it makes a difference.  My pediatrician swears by it, along with every single other Brazilian, even the childless ones. I swear, people in Brazil are raised with that thing stuck to their face.

Now, I'm a humidifier girl.  I was raised with the hot steam humidifier every time I had one of those horrible colds. Ordinarily, this would be equivalent to Brazilian Chinese water torture but the normally humid Rio de Janeiro is strangely lacking it's every day moistness.  I almost want to call up into the clouds and say 'You know, there's a cream for that'. 

And I've tried to use a humidifier here.  I bought an overpriced cold water one at Lojas Americanas and all it did was make the room rank and sticky.  Back to the nebulizer. 

So all you experts out there, what does it do? I hear it breaks up the snot, opens the lungs and sinus, and shortens the life of the cold.  I always thought nebulizers were a way to get medicine into the lungs and that without the medicine, it's basically a steam room for the lips. 

Of course, I'm still using it on my little one. He's a miserable snot factory, coughing and choking the night away.  Hell, I would bust out African dance - tribal circle, fire, and all - if I thought it'd make the cold go away. 

So what's your verdict?  To Nebulize or not to Nebulize? 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things that go click in the night

I have a case of the recurring clicks.  It's coming from the upstairs neighbor and happens every single night. 

Now, the fact that I'm hearing heels from up there is kind of crazy.  There are only 2 people living in that apartment, the old lady I wrote about a couple of weeks ago and her chain smoking son. 

Granny? So not possible.  She's like 300 years old!  The woman has a hard time walking in slippers and holding her bladder, you think she could do it in heels? 

Wait! I know, it was Coronal Mustard in the Library with the candle stick!

Hold your horses!  She does have a nurse.  And I was sold that the nurse stayed late and followed Tina Turner's suggestion of always wearing 3 inch heels because you'll have beautiful calfs.  It had to be.  No other explaination.

You know who I met this morning? The nurse.  You know what she was wearing? Nurse shoes, the big white, rubbery ones. The woman could scoot around like a cat in those bad boys.  

So that leaves us with one last option, though my real question is not if the son is or is not wearing heels.  He does kind of seem like a closet Manolo wearing Sex in the City watcher.  His Mother should have breastfed longer or shorter... hmmmm, which would it be? 

The question is, what do you have up there and can I borrow them?  They sound pretty damn sassy from down here!

How to get rid of your extra stuff with class

I just discovered a wonderful little online group called My Freecycle on the very nice Mommy Blog The Mommyhood Memos.

Buying just about anything, short of beans, is expensive in Rio de Janeiro.  Here's Mommyhood Memos' explaination: " Freecycle is an online community of folks who want to pass on things they no longer use as well as keep the landfills from filling up unnecessarily. Members can post both “wanted” and “give-away” items, and all you need to do is race to be the first email responder."

As someone with her few tiny Carioca apartment closets full of kid stuff that is no longer being used, this site is as awesome as whole bread (not a huge fan of sliced)!  

Go check it out. I just joined the Rio de Janeiro group.  If they only knew they were about to be bombarded with baby stuff. I'll make some pregnant woman's dreams come true today!

FYI : They have groups all over the world.  Try to find one near you

Cold Front Hits Rio de Janeiro

Before everyone gets on their high global warming horse let me qualify that statement.  It's a Rio de Janeiro cold front. That means it's 19 degrees C and 66 degrees F.

Yes people, that is cold down here. That's FREAKING cold down here! For starters, homes are not made for cold. I swear, my apartment breaths.  It does. It takes in air from the outside and exhales it into the apartment.   

And I am loving it!  Really!  We get so much warm and even more sun, this is my moment for chills. This is the one time I can dress my boys in the really cute clothes I brought from the states. You know, the preppy polos, cargo pants, and sweaters, etc.  Hell, in the summer, they hardly even wear clothes short of undies. 

Plus I can wear my beloved jeans every single day.  I'm a jeans girl living in Rio de Janeiro and this is the only time I get to dust them off and bust them out!

It's time to enjoy every single moment of our month of "cold".  We have taken out socks, blankets, long sleeved jammies and jammie pants.  We have tea on, are making soup, and eating warm cookies.  I am drinking red wine, taking scolding hot showers, and traded my haviannas in for converse. 

Hello Winter, it's been too long

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cariocas and Time: Does it really matter?

I had some rare but now definite (WOO HOO) free time while the kids were at school this afternoon, so I went out to run some errands. 

I left a store and glanced at the huge street clock in Largo do Machado to make sure I still had time before I had to pick them up.  That got me thinking.  There are ginormous digital clocks all over Zona Sul.  I mean, they are everywhere. I'm sure you've seen them, they switch off between the temperature and the time. 

So why are Cariocas always, at least, 10 minutes late.  They can't blame watches. "Oh, I didn't realize the time! Wait a minute, I'm standing under a 6 foot tall clock."  And they can't blame not being able to read it. It's digital for goodness sake!

I'm thinking the government voted between tackling the corruption issue and the punctuality issue.  They figured posting a clock every 200 meters would be cheaper and not cut into their salaries, so they went for it. 

Well, a couple of things could have happened. 

First, locals could just think that the thing just tells you the temperature and the other random numbers are a computer glitch. 

Second, it's not actually a clock but a suggestion of what the time really is.  If their watch has a different time, that must mean they have about 10 more minutes. 

Then there's the final guess that they just don't care.  Cariocas don't really care if they are 10 minutes late and it works for them. You know why? Because EVERYONE is 10 minutes late. If everyone is 10 minutes late then 10 minutes late really is on time and on time is 10 minutes early.

As for the clocks, I think they should stop putting time and just write "You're already late!". Come on clock managing guys, do it for just one day!

What do you think?

Inspired by a friend's blog, I'm doing a little maintenance on my site.  While I may be many things, I am not a designer.  That's where you guys come in. 

Any ideas?  What do you like and not like about blogs?  Should I jump on the numerous page bandwagon and put a second page on?  Should I calm down my acid trip coloring?  Do I really need to organize my labels and make browsing my page more convenient? Or is everything just rainbows and unicorns and I should just leave it be?

Any thoughts and tips would be great!!  Thanks!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

He's just a little Soccer pawn

Being in a relationship is hard enough, but being in a relationship in Rio de Janeiro when you are cheering for opposing teams, is even harder. 

No, I did not jump the Botafogo ship. I think that would be grounds for divorce in my relationship.  I'm talking about a little situation I noticed at my kids' school. 

There's this sweetheart in my oldest's class that always sports Flamengo shirts.  I took it for granted that his parents are Flamengistas. Hell, his birthday was even Flamengo themed. 

So imagine my surprise today when this little guy comes in wearing head to toe Botafogo gear.  Hmmmmm.  Also interesting information, his parents are recently separated.  I'm guessing one of the two never pushed their team. 

That seems common.  One person in a personal relationship with competing teams has to bow out and take the high road.  Considering Flamengistas don't know where the high road is, it's obvious the Botafoguense would have to. 

Yes, I'm aware that was a low blow and Hello, been married to the guy for almost 7 years now. It's going to sink in. 

The little gossip bird told me that the separation was very amicable.  I really doubt it is under the surface if one parent is throwing the kid Flamengo themed party one day and the next day the other is sending them to school in a Botafogo uniform.  Just saying.  Unless someone has multiple personalities who aren't speaking to each other, no one in the country of Brazil would be that crazy.  And we crazy down here!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just call me...

What is with me and medical professionals... well, medical professionals and their sidekicks (pharmacist).

I went to get some anti-pest medicine for myself. My little one is still battling the ever strong beast Giardia and I think, maybe, that could be my issue as well.

So I get the stuff* and the pharmacist tells me no alcohol. And then he accentuates the point by saying, not one drop.

Ok, fair enough.  I go home and find a moment for one of my secret hobby. I love to read the little papers in the medicine. I love to know how they work.

I read it and was satisfied with my new knowledge when I realized, it didn't mention alcohol. Hmmm, weird.  So that peaked a new curiosity. What would happen?  Would I faint? Would the medicine not work? Would my stomach blow up like coke and pop rocks? Come on, we all know those stories are true!

Got to love Americans. American sites said to limit alcohol because it could exacerbate the side effect of dizziness.  What? I almost gave up my nightly glass of wine for that?! 

So it got me thinking. Maybe he thought I was an alcoholic. You know, like most woman carrying an 18 month old are. 

Then I remembered the proctologist.

So my initial review thus far, from medical personnel and their sidekicks, is that I'm an anal sex loving alcoholic.  Hmmm, food for thought. Maybe I should start dressing better...

*albendazol: one 400mg tablet once a day for 5 days. Fyi: good to do once a year living in Brazil

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How Rio de Janeiro medicates me

I hate coming to a new country and not being able to find those much needed medications! While I can not recommend self-medicating, we all do it and I wanted to share a few of my finds.

Trimidal - Great cold (gripe) medicine. You are supposed to start by taking 2 pills your first dose and one pill every 12 hours afterwards.

Acetilcisteina - This is the generic name. It's a powered medicine for bad coughs.  Good stuff!

Buscopan - Cramps be gone!  Diarrhea cramps, menstrual cramps, and maybe even pain in the ass fill in the blank cramps. It's that good. Get the tablets if for an adults. The liquid tastes like whatever it is that is giving you cramps in the first place.

Nolvagina - Fever be gone! Great stuff, especially for kids. Keep in mind that some people have serious dipirona (main ingredient) allergies and will have a reaction to this stuff, my brother-in-law for example.

Imosec - Diarrhea be gone!  FYI, only stop it if you think it should be stopped. Sure, we always feel it should be stopped but sometimes it's just best to let it run it's course.

Dorflex - it's a mild muscle relaxer. Great for muscles strains or mild cramps.  You will not get high. Don't even try.

Agua rabelo - This is an old school North Eastern medicine that can be found in many drug stores.  You can drink it for intestinal problems, pour it over infections, gargle it, and drink it for sore throats. You name it, it supposedly treats it.  Now, I can say that I've used it on (by pouring it over) a couple of infections (my c-section for example) and it did wonders. I don't know how and I didn't ask. I'm a believer but not when it comes to drinking it because it's just nasty! 

Amilia - This is a liquid talc.  Amazing, AMAZING stuff for heat rash. Get it, love it, own it. Someone has or will get heat rash and this stuff will make it significantly better overnight.

Disclaimer: Read instructions, even if it means your doorman has to read them then play a game of charades with you to explain them.  

Any tips from out there?  Which medicines have you found helpful in Brazil?

Street kids of Rio de Janeiro

I saw a street kid sleeping near the supermarket this morning when I was out running errands with the boys. It doesn't matter how many I see, it still breaks my heart every time. 

I would love to pull a Leigh Anne Tuohy and bring at least one of these kids home but it's just not safe.  In the movie, she wondered if Michael was going to steal something.  In the Rio de Janeiro reality, I have to wonder if the kid is going to leave my home, get his friends, come back with guns and clean us dry, possibly killing someone in the process.

Yes, I know, that's a slightly negative way at looking at things.  It is.  But Rio de Janeiro has a tendency of having some slightly negative things happen. I try to avoid bad things, that includes strangers in my house. Hell, if the phone company (in uniform and with van) show up without my marking an appointment, neither the doorman or I let them in.  That's just how it works here.

On my way back by, the kid had woken up and there were two adults talking to him. It's quite normal to see. I bet these kids get questioned by 50 people a day.  They ask where their parents are, why they aren't at school, if they have a home, etc.  I've even seen people go get public social workers and bring them back to where the kids are hanging out so they can talk to them about the help available. 

Sadly, some of these kids don't want help. They don't want limits, they don't want structure. Some are addicted to drugs, some spend days on the street and return home when they want, and some were born there.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to live on the street but it's been pointed out to me that, in some cases, home life is even worse. 

And then there's the violent breed. The street kids that band together to jump unsuspecting people.  The ones who find guns and use them.  Survival of the fittest gone bad.

You'd like to think the government would take an aggressive approach to this.  They'd take the kids and put them into foster care or group care facilities.  They'd force school attendance and employ therapists to help them adjust and overcome the traumas they've already faced in their young lives.  You'd love to see that happen.  Unfortunately, the government of Rio de Janeiro is spread a little thin right now. They have other crime issues, development concerns for the upcoming games, and already overflowing class rooms in most public schools. It'd take a lot of money, no corruption, and a hell of a lot of time. 

I found this link about helping street kids for those interested:
Help Street Children in Brazil

I volunteered briefly for this group:
Dreams Can Be

Here's a link to a horrible story of the Death squad.  I didn't realize that street kids have to worry about getting killed by police at night while they sleep.  It's an old article but I found other articles saying it still happens.  Candelaria Massacre

Overall, a sad post. Sorry for that but it's one of the sad realities of living down here.  I just felt the need to share my feelings.  I guess misery loves company.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm Montezuma's Bitch

I dare you to remember one of my first posts. It was a super bitchy post about how I had to share my Mother's Day with everyone in Rio de Janeiro.

Well, I thanked God for that custom yesterday, Brazilian Father's Day. 

Montezuma came to visit me and made me his bitch!  I don't know if you can really call it Montezuma's revenge seeing that I've been living in the country for years, but for lack of better terms, it was that. 

I was bed ridden. I can only remember once since the birth of my oldest, that I've been sick enough to be bed ridden, and it wasn't this bad. 

My poor husband had to not only be a father on father's day but a mother. And he rocked!  He took the kids out on bike rides, took them to the family events, made them dinner, bathed them, and put them to bed. 

At the same time he listened to my moans and groans with only a little bit of criticism.  I was being a big pain in the ass.  In my defense, my skin was on fire but I was freezing.  I had a horrible headache and cramps that could take out any PMS cramps.  Not to mention I was in the bathroom every 20 minutes.  Not fun for anyone involved. 

I still can't figure out where I got it from.  Seems like food poisoning since I'm fine now.  It started about 8am yesterday morning and now, 8pm, I'm only exhausted. No other symptoms.  Either it's a freak virus or I ate something.

That last one is hard to believe. I've eaten sketchy shrimp on the beach, even sketchier oysters on the beach, and basically anything else they sell on the beach down here. I eat from every single street vendor on a semi-regular basis. The funny this is that these past couple of months, I haven't been. I ate breakfast at Jardim Botanicos and sushi for lunch at a place next to our apartment. And that's it!  My husband shared my meal at both places and is fine. 

Maybe it's the wine!!! No no, alcohol kills everything.  Maybe I should go have a glass...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rain: The perfect excuse

I was invited to meet up with a friend of mine at her boyfriend's place for some beers this evening. They will be continuing on to Lapa for a night of partying and she thought that I'd enjoy the pre-party. Sadly, I'm far past my all night Rio de Janeiro partying days.  I cringe at the thought of being out all night and coming home to a waking toddler. 

So I was thinking about it. I love meeting up with Ju and it's always nice to have a few beers.  I told her I'd call her after class.

I was still wishy washy when class was over.  Call me old, which I am even pre-30, but it was already 930pm and I am tired!  I do not consider that a good excuse though because, let's face it, I'm always tired. 

That being said, tired can always work for sex. Not that I'm looking for an excuse, but when you are beat, the last thing you want to do is ride a horse. All I'm saying...

Anyway, it had started to rain during class. Perfect!  It's always an acceptable excuse in Rio de Janeiro to not feel like going out in the rain. You have got to love that! If Ju were British I would have been popped right over to her shit list, but she's not!  Cariocas are made of sugar and sass, and we all know both melt in the rain. 

So I'm happy. I'm in my jammies by 10pm. I get to sleep to the sound of rain on the window and tin garage roof.  That last one is an acquired taste that I, in fact, acquired when they put up the damn tin roof.  Neither one of us is going anywhere so someone had to give. 

Goodnight Rio! 

When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong

So you all have been listening to me bitch about my kid's adaptation process at school.  I decided to go with the flow and it seems to be paying off!

Who'd have thought that a school who regularly adapts children into it's system would know more about it than I do?  I certainly didn't. 

In my defense, they adjusted their approach slightly because of my concern and, at the risk of jinxing myself, it's working. 

I left my kid alone for an entire hour today! I only came back because I wanted news.  To clarify coming back, I was sitting in the office so he wouldn't see me. Sounds boring but I got an entire hour to myself to read an American fashion magazine a friend just handed down to me. It was wonderful!  But they really do need to start serving cocktails in the school office.  At the very least, give a girl a coffee. 

Anyway, there was no crying.  Who'd have thought you could manage to adjust your kid to school without tears... except for my kids' school that is (and the majority of Carioca school for that matter).

I went back after an hour and then my husband came in to give me that last couple hours off. Gold star Daniel! 

Maybe I will be able to go to my Wednesday class without that I-left-my-sobbing-kid-at-school guilt.  Sweet!

Moral of the story,  I don't love the method or particularly recommend it but it does work!  Great for those parents who breastfeed until their kids are 27 years old and have them in a carrier until 30!  Not that I judge.

The Rio de Janeiro Taxi Driver, always in a hurry

Why am I always surprised by taxis? You'd think I'd have learned by now.

I got a night out last night and hightailed it over to my friend's place.  We chatted, had a drink, and listened to music. An all around good night.

I called a cab around 1030pm and headed home.  Rio de Janeiro has a new law that all taxis have to have working seat belts in the back. Funny how there has to be an actual law to make this happen. Before this, you'd find the shoulder strap and nothing to lock it into. The base of the seat belt was always under the seat.

I blame my Mom for my seat belt obsession.  She wouldn't even pull out of the driveway until all of us had confirmed our belted in status. 

The seat belt wasn't working on the side I got in.  I hesitated a second. Not going to make a big deal out of it and switch seats. Oh hell, who am I kidding and who am I trying to impress. I slid over, behind the driver, and buckled up. 

Maybe the driver took that as a challenge. Maybe he was just in a hurry.  Goodness knows, but we were off!  I think it took me 10 minutes max to get from the end of Copacabana all the way to my place in Laranjeiras.  He wasn't letting the rain or other drivers stop him from beating his pre-determined time, or so it seemed. 

I stayed calm during the race.  At least I was buckled in!  My next goal is to have the balls to tell the driver to slow the fuck down.  Pardon my language. 

My Mother In Law did it once.  We got in the car with my oldest, who was only 1 at the time, and the driver took off. My MIL went off on him.  "What the hell?!  There's a child in the car!  Don't you think you should drive like there's in a child in the car." She followed it up with a "Turn down the air too. You're going to give him pneumonia."

One of these days I'll develop the ability to correctly tell off a taxi driver without daring him to kill us both.  I can do Moms and Nannies at the park so it mustn't be too far off. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chivalry is not dead, at least not in Rio.

It's not uncommon to see me opening the gate to our building with my back and maneuvering the stroller in. It takes me a minute but I can do it fairly easily, although it'd be a lot easier if someone would hold open the door.

I don't expect anyone to do that. Not even my doorman. It's not a big deal. And no one on the street has ever stopped to help me. Only neighbors or friends who happen to be passing.  To put this into perspective, I have two kids and one is almost 4 years old. So no stranger has offered to open the door to my gate for almost 4 years.

Again, I don't expect it. It's not a big deal and I'm not bitching.  I just wanted to mention the history because of what happened today.

I was cruising up to my building with my youngest in a single stroller and my oldest walking next to me, holding my free hand. I saw a guy approaching using two crutches. All the muscles I could see in one leg had atrophied and the other one didn't seem to have that much more strength than the first. He depended on his crutches to get around. 

When I got to the gate, the man called to me to wait. He leaned on one crutch and used the other one to open the gate for me.

Now I'm not one to regard chivalry in any way. I don't frown upon it nor expect it.  But this, this was a golden form of chivalry.  I didn't make a big deal out of it, just a big smile and a thank you. 

My brother uses a cane and hates to feel stared at or treated different.  I understand that and I know he was just being a good man. 

And that's the thing that hit me.  There are so many people who wouldn't have to miss a beat in their life to do something good for someone else and don't.  This guy had to make a effort and he didn't appear to think twice about it.  He was just helping a tired Mom get her kids home. 

Love my Medical Care in Rio de Janeiro!

I have to say that I love the private doctors in Rio de Janeiro!  Love them! 

If you love them so much, why don't you marry them?  I would if I could but they just won't have me. 

I had to repeat my youngest's stool test to see if his little pest was gone.  Still here.  Rafa is a great source for good food and fun. 

So I called his pediatric gastrologist's office and she wasn't there.  You'll never guess what happened next!  They gave me her cell phone number!  I called and left a message.

Ah, too good to be true. There was no way I'd actually get to talk to her that easily. Wrong again, she called me back within 15 minutes to talk about my son!  And she's a specialist!

She perscribed the meds over the phone and like magic, it's all taken care of. 

This is the norm here!  I have all my doctor's cell phone numbers, except for the regular pediatrician but screw him.  I do have his home number. 

You can get in touch with any medicial professional at any time. It's the way the job works down here. 

Now, I'd hate this if my husband was a doctor. I get pissed when he gets work calls at 8pm, imagine me in the middle of the night. But he's not so not my problem.  

So note to self, if you marry a doctor in Rio de Janeiro, don't be surprised if he gets a phone call from me in the middle of the night.  Not to worry, it's not that kind of call. He already said no. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Let me tell you how I feel... if I can

 Today is a day I wish I were truly fluent.  The real fluent, like I fell out of my Mom's va ja ja speaking this language too. 

I wish I spoke that way because I had to speak to teachers and am going to have to speak to the school psychologist about this damn adaptation nightmare I'm living at the moment.  It's hard to not come off as overly sensitive or not sensitive at all.

For starters, we English speakers are more blunt by nature than Brazilians. We can say things in Portuguese that are equivalent to shooting a loaded gun.  When we overcompensate, we sound whiny. 

Now add to that being stressed and tired. It's not a great combo for getting your controversial point across.  And, in Brazil, saying your kids can tough it out is totally controversial. 

If only I could express that it's not that I don't feel my kids angst. It's the opposite actually. I feel their way is tormenting my little one more than it should.  Blame it on Mom. I'm all snuggles and kisses until it means business, and then I mean business. This fluffy manner to business is not something my kids get.  This, let me explain to your 18 month old how he is feeling, is not my way. He's a toddler for goodness sake. You spell it out for them in a caring manner and you are firm when you need to be firm. 

But what can you do?  Maybe...

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Ok, so I started this post then went to pick up my oldest. I tried to talk to the psychologist but she wouldn't talk to me about it in front of my 18 month old because he knows what we are talking about. 

I asked her if she was serious. She was. There's really no point in talking to her now.  She's crazy!  She told me he can feel my conflicting feelings.  I responded by saying that he must really feel like crap after today because I was full of conflicting feelings.  Obviously I went the non-whiny more bitchy way.

The rest went kind of like this:
Her: "Can you come meet me alone to talk?"
Me: "Not really.  When my kids are not here, they are with me."
Her: "Not even for a half hour"
Me: "Nope. That'd be the reason why my 18 month old is starting school"


We're going to talk when I'm there tomorrow. She'll visit and sit with me in the classroom.  In her and the school's defense, I managed to skip out on the adaptation meetings with both kids. I'm really not that into meetings. Slacker you ask.  Yes. 100% slacker when it comes to everything that isn't taking direct care of my kids, and sometimes even then. Case in point, nuggets for dinner tonight. 

De Montão is my hero

We spotted each other from across Lojas Americanas. It was love at first sight.  I approached, I am quite the instigator, and informed them that I was going to take them home!

De Montão!  Holy crap! It's my savor in this sea of mediocre junk food and tiny portions!  I know, Brazil has amazing food, all quite healthy. Why do you need chips? 

First of all, this isn't chips! This is a package containing not 1, but 3 types of chips! Doritos, Ruffles, and Baconzitos (bacon flavored pork rinds).  I've been dreaming of this moment since childhood. Of course, I didn't choose Baconzitos, it was pretzels, but it'll suffice.  I used to open 3 separate bags of chips, which my Mother must have loved, and mixed them up to make chip sandwiches. 

Now I don't have to. And there's enough fat in the small bag to satisfy this girl!  I can't help it. My stomach needs crap. I can only eat so much healthy food without getting a stomach ache.  I'm American for heaven's sake, a glorified Mutt. And this Mutt needs her trash! 

So I bought it and brought it home.  Oh my goodness, it was better than I imagined! And I'm not a huge fan of baconzitos but you really can't go wrong when you mix them with Doritos. 

I know it's sad. I dedicated an entire post to junk food.  What can I say, you can take the girl out of the trailer but you can't take the trailer out of the girl. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cranky in Rio de Janeiro

I am cranky.  I blame 98% the adaptation process at my kids' school and 2% the rain. 

I just hate this entire process. I get it, let's not traumatize the kiddies.  Hell, let's not traumatize the teachers either.  Fair enough. But how long is this going to last? I feel like I'm giving birth to a toddler over there and all the doctors are just sitting around watching. No one is saying if I'm crowning or offering me the ever important drugs! 

It's such a tedious process! Today was the second day.  Ok, I'm a bit dramatic to be bitching the second day but let's face it, I'm a bit dramatic.  We stayed from 1pm to 4pm. Yesterday was 1pm to 3pm.  So we improved our time.  On the other hand, Rafa was a royal pain in the buttocks today. He fell twice and you would have thought someone had beat him with a hammer with the fit he threw. And he didn't even fall hard. He was just testing the water. 

Do I really have to see that? I'm not supposed to interject.  I'm not supposed to do anything, even when I notice that they didn't see my kid running off. I'm really starting to get worried about leaving him there. The teachers seem far more concerned with their gossip than helping my kid not eat shit when he gets off the rocking horse that is far too big for a little guy. 

I feel like we need to just rip that band aid right off.  Let it sting but it'll only last a minute.  I was willing to go with the flow this time, even if it's contrary to what I think. (I did not go with the flow with my oldest.) That was until I spoke with the teacher. 

I asked the teacher what the plan was for tomorrow. We're supposed to stay the full class. Holy crap, if only I  had a Valium to pop in order to endure 4.5 hours of this.  Uggggg.  But fine. That I can do.  I'm also going to disappear for a period of time and wait in the parent adaptation waiting area.

Here's what I can't... no no, won't do.  They were saying that I will wait on the sofas and then go in and check on him, leave, and then go back and check on him, then leave, etc etc. 

What the hell is that?  Hey honey, I'm back. No no, just kidding I'm gone.  No no, just kidding, I'm back!  Opa, nope, gone again.  Talk about a tease! 

I will not do it.  My kid is going to attack me like fat kid does a donut.  And then I'm going to be expected to rip him off me and leave him.  Actually, I'm guessing they'll say I have to do the whole process for another week. 

It's like freakin' groundhog day!  Don't let the baby see it's shadow or it's 6 more weeks of adaptation! 

I swear, you know the physiologist, the coordinator, and the teachers all get together for beers after class and laugh at us parents. Let's see if we can get them to stay the entire month, pay, and then do our jobs. Bwahahaha. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

English Conversation Class: The Truth

Most of us foreigners start our English teaching careers at English schools and slowly end up moving into private classes. Those private classes then slowly move into conversation classes. 

I know what all of you are thinking, Conversational English?!  Super easy job!  Ok, there are perks. I don't have to prep myself too much and the students do most of the talking, usually. 

But it's not as easy as it seems.  There are special students that make conversation classes particularly difficult.  For example: 

The shy student.  This one doesn't like to talk in their own language, much less a second one.  You practically have to verbally beat out their hobbies and interests in order to find things they are so passionate about that they can't help but talk about it.

The overly verbal student. Sure, this one sounds like heaven but it's hard to teach someone who doesn't shut up.  You know the guy, the one can't get a word in edgewise.  He says everything incorrectly and you can't correct him worth a damn.  Basically, you have to get annoying. You have to talk over them. The great thing about this type is that they usually aren't easy to offend.  They'll learn.

The humorless.  You joke and you confuse them.  The only thing you can do is not joke. Very dry classes.

The invisible Student.  They don't show up. How can you teach them? They pay you for flaking but it's still a bit annoying since you have organized your schedule around the class. Couldn't they just call you to let you know they are going to flake last minute and still pay you? That'd be great.

The drunk. They want to have class at the bar.  Sounds like fun but you end up spending the money you made from class on the beer you drank at class. You see the problem.

The sensitive student.  This person is embarrassed every single time you correct them. It's so bad that you, the English teacher, feel bad for correcting them!  It's an issue. You spend half the class pumping up their self esteem. I don't really see a problem in this because crying in English is still English. 

I have to say that I currently have none of the above. I love my students and enjoy having classes. Look at that!  But I want to hear from you fellow English teachers. Actually, all teachers!  Who are you special students? 

Herding Cats

Adaptação/Adaptation.  That is my life, at least for this week.  My youngest, 18 months, is starting school.  Cheers and Amens all around people! Momma is going to have some free time!  Woo Hoo! 

So let me explain "school" for 1 year olds. My son is in group 1, or Groupo 1 in Portuguese.  They have their little classroom and special classes. Today was aula de corpo (body class). It's like a fancy gym class where an expensive private teacher comes and teaches our 1 and 2 year olds how to tumble.  What it really looked like was an expensive teacher talking to children like adults while our kids ran around like lunatics.  But everyone had a good time and that's what matters.

They also rotate activities about every 20 minutes to half hour, going from the class room to the patio to the art room, etc.  That's where it gets entertaining.

How do 2 or 3 adults transport 12 one and two year olds from one place to another? 

If I had to describe it, I would call it the herding cats method.  Have you ever herded cats?  Probably not. You'd have to be insane to do it. That just confirms my theory that all daycare teachers are slightly insane. 

Hey now, just because they're insane doesn't mean they aren't nice and that they can't take good care of our children. Just look at Grandma for heaven's sake.

Anyway, the kids meander around, here and there and everywhere.  Then you call them over and BAM they are gone, the opposite direction.  That's what a group of one year olds are like, herding cats.  

Of course, the vast majority of the group have been domesticated already. Rafa is such the little wild Tom Cat of the group. He had his first stand off with the teacher on his first day of school.  Made his Momma proud.

So I'll be spending the week hanging out at my kids' school. That means I sit there and try to look invisible. Very difficult considering I look like a giant to a 1 year old. 

It's not too bad though. I get a glimpse of what a day at school is like for my kids.  I would like it more if they'd give me snack.  Mom likes bananas too. Wait a minute, that sounded kind of dirty didn't it...