Monday, February 28, 2011

GIVEAWAY!: Who Wants a Pair of Havaianas?

I'm going to do it. I'm going to devirginize my Giveaway status on this blog by having my very first giveaway! I'm a little butt hurt because I've yet to find someone who actually wants to give me something to give to my reader but that's ok.  I'm just going to do it myself!

You see, I like you guys. I think you rock! I appreciate the time you spend reading my rants.  A great way to show you that is by giving you something, and I'm going to give you something good.

A pair of Havaianas!  

Havaianas are The Man when it comes to flip flops. I live in them and my feet officially can't wear any other footwear without crying.

So here's what you have to do:

Leave me a comment saying your shoe size and 2 colors of choice. I'll do my best to find first color and size. If I can't I'll send the back up color.

For additional entries:

1. Like me of facebook and let me know via comment.

2. Follow me on Twitter at @rachelsrantings  . Leave me another comment for this one.

3. Follow me on Blogger. Surprise surprise, also leave me a comment telling me. Sorry, my mind reading skills have just gone to the pooper.

So there you have it, 4 chances to win a free pair of Havaianas in the color of your choice!  WOO HOO! Go Brazil!

**Keep in mind, I'm mailing from Brazil. You may need to have a little patience while waiting for the box. 

Also note that we are entering into Carnaval. Giveaway winner will only be announced the following week (+/- the 15th of March). And don't forget to check back in to see who wins! How else will I get your shipping info.  Thank you!

*Winner announced!* Thanks for entering!

Brazilians love themselves some UFOs

Brazilians LOVE UFOs. They believe in them, they look for them, and they find them. Hell, wouldn't you visit Brazil is you were a alien.

My husband is a believer of aliens. He totally digs that stuff. So I was not surprised to find him watching this video this morning.

I then took it upon myself to inform him it was a fake. He is not so sure. You have got to love a believer.

And Brazil is really not a stranger to Alien sightings. Apparently, we humans are not the only ones attracted to beaches and tiny bathing suits.

Check out this list of Brazilian sitings:

Here's an account of a particularly interesting sighting:

So what do you think, is this video a fake?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Breast milk Ice Cream hits stores

I think this just takes breastfeeding to an all new and unneeded level!  Breast milk ice cream?!  Well, it came out at the Covent Garden Store in London a bit ago. Apparently it's flavored with lemon zest and vanilla and is just the new Cat's Pajamas.

They found very good and healthy breast milk donors online. And that's great because we all know how strict quality control is when you find it online, especially with people.  Of course it's screened, pasteurized, and range free.

That is according to them. I really don't consider most people range free. We may have a long leash but we're pretty tied in anyhow. Not to mention the drugs, chemical exposure, and questionable food intake. I mean, let's be honest, I doubt any healthy, hippie woman is selling her extra breast milk to make rich people ice cream. Nope. It's the crazy lady with 25 kids and 23 different Daddies who's 6 yr old just gave up the boob and she needs beer money.

The hippie would probably be nice enough to find a donation program to give her extra milk to children who need it. You know, the thing people would ideally do with their extra breast milk.

I would almost be offended by this whole thing if I didn't find it so damn amusing.  I know breast milk is good for babies but I fail to see the need to cash crop that golden liquid.  It's like looking for another "other" white meat.  Apparently breast milk is going to be the new soy.

And how will they regulate? I guess they are pretty lucky that Jews will now consider all milk Kosher. At least that one is taken care of.

As for if I would try some, sure I'd take a taste. I wouldn't seek it out but if a friend bought some and asked me if I wanted a taste of her's, I'd go for it. I really see no issue in sharing her spoon if I'm already eating someone else's frozen milk.

How about you? Would you buy it? Try it? Do you dig it?

If you'd like to read more on it, check out this article from NPR: Breast Milk Ice Cream

* Thanks for the tip Sara!

** Photo courtesy of

Why I love Carnaval

There are many reasons to love Carnaval and each one of us have our own.  Personally, my absolute favorite part about Carnaval is how the Carioca men react to it.

You see, costumes are very popular at all Carnaval street parties (blocos) and there are many blocos that are costume specific.

Now for my favorite part! These seemingly macho playboy Carioca men always seem to dress in drag! They pull out all kinds of stuff! My proof, the Ballerinos I met last night. Fyi, Ballerino was not a typo.

It gets even better at blocos like Boitata where all the best costumes happen and it's quite a tradition for men to dress as some sort of woman. You will even see them so dutifully re-applying their makeup. That is, if you get there early enough and everyone isn't already drunk.

Happy Carnaval and Happy Cross-Dressing Playboys! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Going to the Rio de Janeiro 2011 Carnaval Parade!

Guess who's going to watch the official Carnaval Parade!! YAY ME!

So a good friend got me a ticket to join her in one of the prestigious Carnaval Camarotes (private boxes)!  Can't you see me in my snazzy Camarote tank drinking chopps with other Parade enthusiasts. Well, I can't go as far as calling myself an enthusiast but I am close.

You see, this is my first time going to the parade! I have never walked in or gone to watch.  I just always figured you get a better view on tv. Well, you do unless you have box seats! Ok, now I'm gloating like a classic douche. You must forgive me, I'm just very excited!

And it's good for you guys too as I will do my post Carnaval Wordless Wednesday all about this Carnaval Camarote experience.

Of course I'm not going to one of the ones funded by beer companies; those are for the rich, famous, and rich and famous.  It doesn't matter though. I'm not a fame whore and wouldn't recognize any of the Brazilian ones anyway. Except for Gisele, of course.

It would be quite funny to get a picture with her. 

Sick Boy

Today my oldest is sick. No free day for this Mom. I debated if my fever free pre-schooler really needed to stay home today.  Then he napped. That was a huge sign for me.

So we took the now better toddler to school and I carried my 300 ton pre-schooler back to our apartment.

The entire walk, I kept having flashbacks of the last time he was actually sick.  I had sent him into school when I was torn.  He was kind of cranky, maybe fever-ish, but had no real symptoms.  He didn't even complain about going!

A few hours later he had a fever at school.  It spiked on the walk home and he had a grand mal seizure in the stroller (that is until I got him out and laid him on the ground). Of course I had forgotten my cell phone, had no money on me at the time, and was alone with both him and my then 1 yr old.

It was an interesting day.

I was thinking all about that day during the short walk home. I now always keep either one of the boys home when in doubt.

We finally arrived home and crossed the threshold of our apartment.

I put my 4 year old down.  He promptly grunted and vomited 3 times right in front of the door.

I had never been happier to see vomit. A tummy bug, something totally different from last time.

Now if you excuse me, I have the urge to go mop the floor again.

By the way, he's feeling much better now. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When in Rio de Janeiro, Ride the Bus

It's been a while since I've cruised the bus scene in Rio de Janeiro. I'm lucky enough to be able fulfill most of my needs in my neighborhood and get basically everywhere else by metro.  But sometimes I need to go elsewhere so I've decided to get back to my roots (and try to keep some change in my pocket).  Back to the bus it is.  

You've got to love the process of riding the bus. You stand on the edge of the curb and watch the buses hurl themselves down the street. The speed these buses get driving on cramped city streets is a sight to see.  And then there comes the part of catching yours.

It's kind of like picking out one wild horse in the middle of a stampede.  You wave for it, call it, and then run to it while trying not to get run over by the other ones.

Once aboard, you must hold on for dear life because that bad boy is not slowing down just to accommodate you. It doesn't matter how much you kick or scream, the other riders will just think you're nuts.  Have your money in your hand, hold onto one of the bars, and be ready to hold yourself up. The bus will be moving as soon as the driver can manage to close the door on the last passenger.

So once you catch your wild pony, you have to be ready to dive off at your stop.  The money collectors are great sports about pointing out where you need to go so don't be afraid ask. Use charades if necessary, and pay attention. The person screaming "MOÇA, Agora" is talking to you, that is unless you're a man.

At the stop before yours, it's wise to move from your place and get to the back of the horse. These buses kick just the same so be ready. And mind the last step. There's nothing more embarrassing than falling out of a bus.

And enjoy the ride! I love the bus! It's like your own cheap tour of the city, with locals included. Let's not forget the people watching aspect.

Buses in Rio can take you anywhere you want to go and even more places you don't! They are convenient, easy to find, fun to hail like a cab, and economical. Be sure you know the number of the bus or location you want to go to. If you are in doubt, ask the bus driver from the door. He'll tell you if you should take that bus or which one is best.  Last thing you want to do is end up lost in Tijuca when you were really headed to Jardim Botanicos.

So ride the bus, hold on, and take a look around. This is Rio baby! 

Free Bootcamp in Aterro

So Bootcamp is all the rage these days and Rio de Janeiro is right on it! Ok, so maybe it's not exactly Bootcamp but it's pretty damn close.

In Aterro, the government of Rio de Janeiro is giving free circuit training exercise classes! FREE!  There they were, 20 or so citizens, doing their crunches. I had just caught the end of class.

So if you are in the Flamengo, Laranjeiras, Catete area, come down to class. It's Monday thru Friday from either 7am to 8am or 8am to 9am.  All you need is a note from your doctor and 2 of those small photos they collect for anything and everything in this city. You register right there and BAM, you are working out.  And where better than near the water and under the shade of trees.

The class is located in the tennis court near the Aterro entrance between Correa Dutra and Dois do Decembro.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Machismo at it's Best

Brazilian men are known to be a bit masculine when it comes to some things. Today I was shown proof from my very own window.

I heard yelling out on the street and being the nosy girl I am, I decided to check it out.  I was not alone because the chaos had caught the attention of quite a few people.

There they were, a cab driver and a bus driver, screaming at each other. No, not from their vehicles. We are in Brazil!  They had stopped their bus and cab in the middle of the street and were having a little chat. The bus driver was reserved enough to stay in his bus while the cab driver preferred to dance around like a drunk and angry monkey.

From what I could tell, the bus driver had done something to piss the cab driver off.  Personally, I would have just let the bus go because 1. it's bigger than the cab and 2. bus drivers in Rio de Janeiro are bad asses! Driving the way they do in a city like this, and seeing what they see, puts them up there in the don't piss off category.  But that's just me.

They fought in a cycle. The cab driver would go to the front of the bus, scream, and then creep in close to the door and say something really nasty. It must of been bad because I had never heard those phrases before and they made the bus driver dive over the turn rail each and every time.

Thankfully for the cab driver, a nice middle aged lady took it upon herself to stand in front of the door and calm the bus driver down. The bus driver would hear reason and go back to his seat. Then the cycle would start again with the dancing in front of the bus.

Finally the police arrived.  The men were separated and the bus was sent on it's way, I'm guessing to the relief of the passengers. Of course the cab driver took that as an opportunity to call the man a pussy as he drove away.

And the Super Masculine Man award goes to the bus driver for stopping once again, blocking all three lanes of traffic, and trying to get off to kick some ass. Oh, he didn't care that the police were there.  Sadly for my blog, the police got him back on the bus, held the cab driver behind, and then sent him away after a safe distance had been established.

Wordless Wednesday: Exotic Fruit

Brazil is known for many things but one of the most interesting is the fruit. This large country has fruits in all shapes, sizes, and tastes. 








Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rio de Janeiro: A City Full of Advice

This is a city where people care. They care in a way that makes you sometimes want to run away screaming.  But you learn a lot with all this unwanted, but adored, advise.

Today I was scolded because my long legged toddler's feet were somewhere near the ground while sitting in his stroller. Shocker.  I was told I should do something about that because he was going to hurt himself. Being tired and cranky I just mumbled, rather loudly, in English and went about my way. His feet were a decent distance from the ground and no where near the tires! What was I supposed to do, cut them off?

What did I learn from this? I learned it's best to smile and speak in English when people are being overly anal.

That got me thinking about some other life lessons I've been taught by nosy-ish people on the street.

When my oldest was a baby, I would take him out for morning and evening walks to avoid the summer heat. I was constantly harassed for two things: 1. taking my son out in the heat and 2. not putting socks on him.  It made me wonder: if it's too hot to take him out, does he really need socks?

I learned that you can apparently get frostbite on your toes at the same time as heatstroke.  Only in Rio de Janeiro.

This last experience was rather charming. I was walking with my two boys to the pool one morning and a man selling globo in the middle of the street yelled to me. I turned a little warily. In my experience, these guys aren't usually complimenting my shoes, if you know what I mean.  But he surprised me by calling over "Miss, it's very hot today! Make sure you give your boys A LOT of water. They need a lot of water on a day like this!"

I learned that water is good and that most advice is actually coming out of concern. It was very sweet of him to make the effort.

I could go on and on but I think I'd start to sound cynical and I'm make some of my dear Brazilians sound a little crazy.  What experiences of unasked advice have you had? Which ones have stuck with you?

Low Carb no Sugar = No Fun

I have a couple of Brazilian friends doing the low carb no sugar diet.  They are on a  plan that lasts a couple of months, keeping track of inches as opposed to pounds. It sounds all well and good. A manageable way to lose a couple of those lingering, unwanted holiday added increments to your diameter.

Of course, I have an issue with willpower. I am not one to use it regularly when it comes to food.  While I'm not as bad in Brazil as I am at home in the states, but there are a few special items that make this diet impossible for me.

Rio de Janeiro is like a big pitcher full of fresh squeezed juices. They are everywhere, they are tasty, they are cheap, and I like them.  Just imagine 95 degree weather and a freshly made mango juice. How am I going to give that bad boy up?!  Let's not forget watermelon juice, orange juice, papaya juice, and real purple grape juice made on demand.

Then there's the fresh baked french bread. It calls to me like a lady of the night in Lapa. I can't resist.  It's beautiful, fulfilling, and a decent price.  Put a little queijo minas on top and I'm in sugar/carb heaven.

Then there are the novelty items. I don't eat these on a daily basis but if I get the opportunity, and have a couple of Reais in my pocket, they are all mine.  These special treats are esfihas, pastels, churro with dolce de leite, and popcorn. After writing, this I may just have to get a sample of each and every one.

Of course, it's about balance.  If you balance correctly in Rio de Janeiro, you can have a very healthy diet. Sure, it'll be full of carbs, salt, sugar, garlic, onion, and oil but that's not so bad.

So congrats to those who can follow these diets! And to those who can't, have a juice on me!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rachel vs Mold

My never-ending battle here in Rio de Janeiro is against mold. I guess you can't really call it a battle. It's more like mold is making me his bitch and I'm left salvaging what I can.

You see, Rio de Janeiro is like a petri dish in a nice warm incubator.  Things grow like crazy! Mold, fugus, viruses, and acne flourish in this environment.

I don't care if you live in central air, a rare phenomenon in this city, because mold will find you.  It will grow on your suede purse like it does on a fine French cheese.  The only difference is the mold on the cheese makes it better while it just makes the purse look like a nasty science experiment gone bad.

My current standoff is over sippy cups. Of course I brought back these cool sippy cups for my toddler from the states. No leak, extra tight, fabulous cups are a glorious field full of unreachable creases.  Mold has found a happy new home in these non-spill bad boys. This almost pisses me off more than my shoes!  It's annoying to find mold on my shoes but I'm not going to lick them or anything.  How in the hell am I supposed to non-leakingly water my child with a cup that is growing like an uncleaned fish tank.

But there are just some things you have to accept. If you don't regularly use something, it could mold. That still goes for a well lit and airy apartment.  It totally gives me a new understanding into the Brazilians' tendency to have a full time maid bleaching the crap out of everything on a daily basis.

As for me, I have decided that my battle on mold is like my battle with ants.  You seemly have "wins" but the little bastards still come back.  I'm over it and I'm going to try to live in peace with the native organisms of my adopted country.

That is except for the sippy cups. I will scrub, soak, and scrape to my hearts content. Then again, that's less about battle and more about decreasing the nasty in my kid's life. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

401th Blog Post!

I rant A LOT! It's officially true.  My last post was my unbeknown 400th post!  So 400 posts in 10 months means I average 40 posts a month.

I sure do write a lot. Considering I can also talk a lot, I shouldn't be surprised. Actually, when people take photos of me in action, my mouth is usually open. I know you are all stunned.

To celebrate my 400th and 1 blog entry, I thought I'd share some of these beauties with you.

I need to close my mouth before I catch a fly! But it's ok, I think I pull it off.

Thank you to all you out there in the internet world for tolerating my virtual hot air!  Much love and I'll keep up the good work!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Adapting Back

I know I live in Rio de Janeiro. Hell, I can say I've lived in Rio de Janeiro for years now. Regardless, whenever I spend an extended period of time abroad, I have to re-adapt.

Here are my principal areas of re-adaptation:

Paying for things: When I come home I have an issue with buying things at the so-called less than official places. Case in point, the popcorn lady. I doubt and question myself. Is it R$1.5 or $2? Would this guy be able or willing to break a R$20 note? Things like that. I truly believe that when you are comfortable and knowledgeable in purchasing, you don't ripped off.  Of course I keep putting the 'Please charge me an extra R$1 because I like it' face on. It's starting to piss me off.

Portuguese: Not that I'm even close to fluent but I usually don't have consistent and annoying Portuguese brain farts anymore. I may not say it right but I can get my thoughts out there.  Hey, when you are a ranter, you find a way. But after a trip home I get brain gas that would make any stoner fall over laughing.  It's out of control and certainly does not help with the above mentioned problem.

Bums: I've been desensitized after so long here but that immediately goes away after going home. I find myself crossing the street to avoid the obviously crazy bums. I can not keep doing this in Rio de Janeiro because I'll never walk in a straight line again.

Crosswalks: I've stopped j-walking. Want to call attention to yourself as a foreigner, do not throw yourself into oncoming traffic. Cariocas are amazingly skilled at knowing the precise seconds between that bus and cab speeding your way. They can pick an almost inconceivable moment where they can cross without getting hit nor busting out a jog.

But I'm getting back into the swing of things again.  The R$1 foreigner charge has gone down to 50 cents and I'm proud. I held a full conversation this morning with my Father-in-Law that caused only 2 creased brows and 1 huh?.  Not to mention I j-walked past a crazy bum on the way home from Hortifruti. That's two birds with one stone my friends.

So I'll get back to 100% wannabe Carioca before I know it. Now I just need a tan and a beer belly. Oh wait, already got that last one.

How about you? What do you need to adapt to when you come back from vacation?

Character Building Bullying?

I overheard someone asking "No, character building bullying these days?!"

I was automatically horrified by the statement.  Bullying as a way to build the bullied kids's character? That's just mean!

But a couple of hours later I started to think about it.  Bullying has always had a tendency to get out of control. School yard fights are a long told tale.  But this generation has taken it to a new level. Children have been killed over being different. People are attacked. Entire school turn against certain students and those students sometimes end up bring guns to school.  When living in hell, why not try to shoot yourself out.  It's not ok, but you have to think of the back story there.

And I find that people tend to one of two parties: 'The boys will be boys' and 'The feel your feelings' teams.

So when I heard that statement my automatic response system went up and cried NO!  But maybe he has a point.  These days we shelter our children. We restrict play from the rowdy kids and hover over them like helicopters (ever brilliant term: helicopter parents).

Hell, there's even movements encouraging a Mother to co-feed her 5 year old with her newborn. All about the good health  here people but sometimes it's time to move up to the next step. We are so concerned that I will not be surprised the day safety helmets are required at school because someone's Daddy is a lawyer and his son got 3 stitches.

The thing is, kids have to go through things. It should never be in the extreme and I do not condone abuse nor harassment.  I'm just saying that these two teams need to meet in the middle.  If Billy keeps punching all of his friends in the face, he's not going to have any friends left. And if Mommy goes with Joey to 6th grade camp, no on is going to want to sit next to him at the campfire.

That being said, I'm a total Emotions, pink cloud, I will smack your child if he makes mine cry kind of Mom. I have to really control it.  I practically ran around after my oldest with a pillow at the park. Oh don't fall! And I intervened the moment someone's little voice rose.  You know what happened, he had a difficult time sticking up for himself. We spent a semester in school dealing with that because they just didn't make a desk big enough for Mommy's ass.

Sometimes kids need to fall. They need to know how to puff their chests out a little and stick up for themselves. They need that confidence that comes after you do.  If you always protect them from their challenges, they will never learn to do it themselves. And they will have to, eventually.

On the other hand, you parents who live so vicariously through their children that it's you that gets butterflies when the most popular boy asks your daughter out, stop. Stop it. This whole be what I was thing is annoying, and just because you hated "nerds" doesn't mean your kid should too. And when does the healthy teasing stop? When someone is lit on fire? What if it were your kid? Let your kid be an ass, but teach him that it doesn't matter if a kid is small, different, homosexual, or has special needs.  You can still be an ass without being a total waste of skin and oxygen.

Where does this get us? The good old middle ground.  It's easier for feelings people to let their kids learn and grow at their own pace if someone isn't going to threaten their daily life over it.  Also, sometimes feelings people need to explain the delicacy of social interactions to their children and how maybe, if he'd like, he could change his 'you all should die' t-shirt. People may be a little more open to him that way.

So we need to take the rough and tumble kids (and parents) and give them a little sensitivity training. Teach them that unless they are going to stay working at Daddy's garage, it may be good to understand that their are different ways of life.  Fuzzy parents, time to take your 12 year old out of the baby bjorn carrier and let him walk on his own a little bit.

Obnoxiously, this all comes down to a balance. Something very difficult for one person and seemingly impossible for a society.  When did the greater good ever become such a difficult concept to understand?  We live together. We survive together. We're supposed to a clan.

Oh and for the love of Pete, could we parents all stop to remember that our little Bob or Susy may not be that perfect little angel we always thought.  Kids learn to snow the vast majority of parents by 4 years old.  Your 14 year old is now an expert.  Be aware of your kids, how they are, what they are feeling, and what they are doing. It's a pain in the ass but it really makes a difference.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Husband is Starving

Once upon a time, this little wife did not make a full on Brazilian lunch. I know, shame shame on me. Don't worry, I already put myself in time out.

You see, I had my pregnant self and a toddler who loved PB&Js.  I didn't think anyone would find out so I allowed him to have one for lunch.  I think Brazilian Social Services would come and take them away if they ever found out. Heaven forbid it wasn't served with a side of rice and beans.

To my horror, Mr Rant came home for lunch.  It was totally unannounced. Thankfully though, he took the sandwich in stride.  But I didn't get off that easily.

What caught him off-guard was my lack of prepared food in the fridge. There was nothing ready for him to eat! What do you mean you can't spontaneously pull together a 3 piece lunch?!

And before you say he's spoiled, let me correct you. He is not only spoiled, he's Brazilian.  I swear, he would keel over and die out of shock if he ever showed up at his Mother's and she couldn't just fix him a plate. Hell, the day his Mother can't randomly pull a carne asada out of the fridge, have rice already made (just in case), and beans a bubblin' on the stove is the day I will have a heart attack.

It's just the culture. Any good Mother would have something available in case any child should even think about food.  Even if it's not her making it, she's paid someone to make sure it's there.  And lunch is the holiest of occasions for food consumption.

The fact that there was nothing to heat up was just unheard of.  Personally, I was stoked that I could finally bust out the PB&J and fend for myself later.  But it just comes down to habit.

In Brazil, when you eat lunch you EAT LUNCH. This is your big meal. Pack it in baby.  Some offer a dinner in the evening, especially when there are kids. A lot of people just lanche, aka sandwiches.  Lanche is a wonderful thing where people run to the bakery for fresh french bread. Add in cold cuts, a salad, some other finger foods, and you have yourself a lanche. We must not forget the coffee chaser.

So that was an adjustment for me. I love me a big breakfast and a substantial dinner. I'm all over that. The big lunch needed some growing into. Ironically, when it did, my breakfast and dinner shrank.

In addition, I've never again allowed a fully empty fridge.  I now have 3 Brazilian men, 1 big and 2 halfies. They all expect food in the afternoon. Something filling and warm.  What can I do? I've been out voted. Of course that does mean I can transfer my occasional laziness to the evening. And let's be honest, evenings are the best time to be lazy!

Lazy and then bed go together as well as good old PB&J. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You are What you Eat... When you are 3.

I twittered upon this article today talking about the association between processed food in early childhood and IQ. I find these kinds of articles particularly interesting because I see the difference between the diet my boys have in Brazil vs the US.

Now, I know we all have a "choice" in what we feed our kids. It's obvious that the 2 year olds aren't going to the fridge, popping a pizza in the microwave, and cracking open a cold Bud.  We need to feed our kids good old fruits and veggies, salads (Bwahaha! Get that in my toddler), and such.

The article said:

"The results showed that a predominantly processed food diet at the age of 3 was associated with a lower IQ at the age of 8.5, but that a healthy diet — high in salad, fruit, vegetables, rice and pasta — was associated with a higher IQ at the age of 8.5. Dietary patterns between the ages of 4 and 7 had no impact on IQ."

Personally, my kids can consume an alarming amount of rice and pasta. It goes down like my red wine on a cold and stressful day.  I like to top them with homemade black beans and BAM, you've got yourself something healthy-ish to eat.

The thing is, my options of convenient and affordable foods differ greatly from those in the states.  Nothing microwaveable is affordable, not by my definition at least. And don't even get me started on the cardboard they call overpriced frozen veggies around here. Hell, the only reasonably priced canned food I can get is corn and peas.

And that is different enough.

Of course, I should mention how the normal Brazilian kid drinks Coke (and many other sodas) from a very early age.  Everything, EVERYTHING, is available fried (in the amount of oil I use in 1 months time).  But surprisingly, the obesity didn't really seem to jump until the "convinience" food arrived. Plus McDs and such.

Yet regardless of the fact that my kiddos are friends with the snacks that the Brazilians do love, they jump decently in weight after a visit to Grandma's house in the USA.  Obviously, they get to snack more, as Grandma is a sucker when it comes to whines of kiddos, but overall they eat less.

At my house, my kids are little meal eaters in addition to 3 or so decent snacks. Of course, we have our good days and bad days and plenty of non-optimal sugars and fats are consumed.  But in the US, they eat very little of their meals in comparison to here and still put on weight.

Since my children are lean but healthy boys, I enjoy the jump in weight. A little wiggle room for my active little wannabe crack babies. But it makes one ponder, what is it in the food there that is filling in their tiny tummies?

Of course, according to the studies, I don't have to worry about my 4 year old. He's as smart as he's going to get from food. We can just forgo the healthy items and lay on the sausage.

And that is what I love the most about these kinds of things. Of course it's great to know more about how our body works. It's awesome to reach out to parents and teach them a better way to feed their kids.  But really, I doubt the woman using lard in her lasagna and serving it with boxed chicken nuggets is reading this and stressing that little Jr's IQ may be a couple of points lower than the annoying Hippies down the road.

I can't give any suggestions on how to do it, nor how to feed your kids. The only thing I can control is what I put down in front of mine.  My philosophy on that is balance. Good food, fun snacks, healthy options, and a little McDonalds when Mommy is over being a cook for the day.

Wordless Wednesday: Goodbyes

Sticking with the Goodbye theme of things, here are some Fab goodbye images for your pleasure.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Saying Goodbye

The ugly part of being an expat is the goodbyes. You become an expert in saying them, accepting them, and muffling the cries in an airplane pillow.  It just becomes a fact of life.

So where does that get us?  Personally, I`ve gotten to the point where I can almost convince myself that I am not upset.  The force is strong in this girl.  You see, I don't want to live "home" anymore.  That part of me is so little it gets drowned in the semi-occasional Brazilian beers, though that does not mean that I miss my people at "home" any less.

Tomorrow is Mom's last day in Rio. I have to say, we've had a LONG trip together this time around. 7 weeks at her place and 3 at mine is enough for most.  I am ready to get on with my day to day life as normal, and I say that with a sigh.

It's true that you can't live in this vacation mode forever. It's exhausting to entertain and enjoy the city with even the mellowest of visitors.  But there's also the 'it's over' factor.

This visit is done.  The togetherness was wonderful and we definitely didn't skimp on it this time around. It's time for the simple dynamic of the boys, Mr. Rant, and I. We need to get back to our norm, our friends, and our play dates.  Part of me actually looks forward to it.  Sorry, but I enjoy Mr. Rant walking around in his boxers.  Call me crazy, but that's just not Mom visiting appropriate.

But my parents don't live down the street. We live so far that they can't even splurge on a weekend visit.  So my Mother leaving means another year apart. It means my youngest will be 3 and my oldest will be 5 the next time she and my Father see them.  My parents will come and they will meet different little boys.

Sure we do skype, email, and do phone calls. Boxes, photos, and videos on facebook are a regular part of life.  We are as virtually connected as the world can possibly stand.  But it's not the same as "Your Mother just called. They are coming over... again."  You just can't fit enough annoying in a vacation, even 2 months of it, to make the other 10 go by fast enough.

So I will bust out my steady chin again tomorrow.  Mom will sob like a small child. She's done steady chin enough.  She deserves the cries.  Then I will go back into my small Brazilian apartment and see her gone. I will go to her room the next morning and see that she is still not there.  I will shed an over dramatic tear as I am now. And I will go on.

On a cup half full note, her leaving does seem to make my small and cluttered Brazilian apartment look that much bigger and emptier. But that's just like her, coming in and fixing things up so that they are that more comfortable for me after she has left.

She's a Mom like that.

And I'm really going to miss her.

Guilty Pleasures

Last night, I went out for some beers for a friend's birthday.  Upon returning home, I caught my husband in the middle of one of his guilty pleasures. No, he was not masturbating.   He was watching Glee. I swear, he would have been less embarrassed should I have caught him jacking off with Marie Clare magazine.

It got me thinking about guilty pleasures.  Things we enjoy that we really shouldn't and/or are embarrassed for enjoying.  We all have them! The best part is figuring out what they are because, per the name, they are usually pretty damn funny.

One of my personal favorites is a glass of good red wine, a cigarette, a balcony, and some good bad music.  You know the stuff I'm talking about, Glee. Yes, Glee soundtracks are my current guilty pleasure music. The kind of music you don't normally opt to blog/talk about because it makes you feel a bit lame.  Ah well, it's a big jump up from my Mariah Carey Guilty pleasure music phase in the late 90s.  Feel free to judge me, I deserve it.

I also LOVE good bad tv and reruns. You put on the second episode of the first season of Friends and I'm there.  Old school Saved By The Bell, I'm totally on it. And I really dig bad 80s movies and horribly nauseating romantic comedies. I buy their story every single time.

And now that I've shared my guilty pleasures with you, don't I sound kind of lame and annoying. Or Fabulous and free spirited if you look at things like I do.

So this has brought me to the rational question of: What are your guilty pleasures? What do you do when nobody is looking?  And don't say stalking Facebook friends.  If everyone is doing it, it really doesn't count.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Little Carnaval T & A

My 4 yr old has to print out pictures that represent Carnaval with the help an adults. My guess is that the adult should choose the appropriate photo. Too bad he has this Momma because we stumbled upon the photo above and I thought it was an exact representation of Carnaval.

I was preparing to print it when Mr. Rant pointed out that it was inappropriate for a class of 4 year olds.

Really?  I mean, I know it logically is but they see that kind of thing year round down here.  Carnaval is just boobie season on crack.  There are parades, billboards, and tv shows with these ladies.  And kids are readily involved in all the preparations and partying this time of year.  So duh, they've seen it.

But as Mr. Rant pointed out, why do we need to call attention to it.

Hello, she is painted in gold glitter with plastic pieces over the 10% of her bits Brazilians find inappropriate. I think the goal is attention.

And who are we kidding?!  This is Carnaval! These ladies are the paper. It's huge news when a school picks a new one.  I know that it's skin and it's sex appeal and all, but when have Brazilians ever been shy about that. There's pride in the Sassy culture of Carnaval.  Hell, they had a little girl up dancing in the parade last year, to much of the world's horror.

Still, it was funny to hear my husband addressing the tradition for what it really is: sex, sexuality, and very adult.  I guess the tradition is ok as long as Foreigner Mom doesn't send a picture of it into school with the 4 year old.

I guess I should save the Carnaval T&A for an age where him and his classmates will appreciate it a little more.

By the way, I switched to this one:

I have a Fan!

I have a fan, and no, it's not a family member.  I went to a party and I ran into a blog reader. Oh yes, someone actually came up to me and said that they know me from my blog.  Not to mention, she reads it daily!

It gets even better.

She's not crazy!  Not only do I have a fan that I have met in flesh and blood, she's actually very cool and funny.  Gold star Rachel!

While I have seen my statistics and know the numbers, it's not the same as actually meeting someone in real life.  No matter how many little ticks pass on the counter, it's hard to imagine that many people read my Rants.  I mean, I find them funny, then again I also like those little fart keychains.  There's no accounting for taste.

But now I have met Ms. Rebecca and I liked her! She's also my fan! It made me really realize that all those little ticks and numbers showing up on the screen are actually people.  Go figure.

So if you are my reader, I just want to thank you.  Meeting Rebecca made my day and all of you who come and visit do the same!

Thank you for rocking my world in a way that my husband is not allowed to get jealous over!

To my Readers: Happy Valentines Day! I hope we all get laid! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jeitinho Strikes Again

This picture is my own fabulous photography. Mad skills, I know.

So we went to Plebeu in Botafogo for lunch today. AMAZING food! Anyway, I totally forgot that they don't have highchairs.  Why, I'm not sure.  So we were at a loss for a moment. How were we going to enjoy the holiness of their divine Picanha with a wiggly toddler on our laps.

That's when genius hit!  On our way upstairs, we passed the stacks of plastic chairs they use outside. Since the place wasn't full enough to stick people on the sidewalk, the chairs were just hanging out in a corner.

When approached about the chair stacking/highchair making plan, the waiter was not impressed. It had so been done before.  Still, we feel pretty damn smart.

So 5 plastic chairs later and the tiny toddler had his own place at the table.

Gold Star for creativity! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's All in a Name

I dare you, go to your local daycare and look at their list of students. Ok, don't do that. You'll look creepy. But as a Mom, I got the inside scoop today while walking the slow path of my youngest's re-adaptation to school.

I was bored out of my mind waiting around so I checked out the class lists posted on the bulletin board in the parent waiting area.  I was astonished by the names. Seriously they have like 4 or 5 of them.

My first thought was how do the parents think of 2 first names!? I had a hell of a time coming up with one.  So you have little João Pedro and cutie Maria Victoria, among many others.  Adorable names.  Really, I am just amazed by the mad name combination skills of the parents here. Gold star.

That's where thought number 2 comes in. I always have a thought #2, don't I.

Anyway, how are they ever going to learn to spell their name? João is a tough enough for a 4 year old. I mean, the accent mark is enough to confuse the smartest of preschoolers. Hell, they can't even do an S, imagine making them do a discrete scribble above a letter. Now add in a second word all together. And go.  

I know you all think I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill. Of course I am. It's what I do best and what my husband loves the most about me. Maybe not the last part.  But just wait for it.  Wait for it.

Add in the last name.

Poor little João not only has to write João Pedro but also has to include Cavalcanti Pereira Silva de Olivera.

João Pedro Cavalcanti Pereira Silva de Olivera.

That's just mean.  You have to have a 5th Grade reading level to master that kind of name! And while that name was a fabulous creation out of my own mind (thank you thank you), the names really are that long.

Hell, you can spot my children's names from a mile away due to the shortness.  Personally, I don't want to be little João Pedro when he goes for a year abroad and tries to get a US drivers license.  We just don't have that kind of space available on our paperwork.

If I had a last name like Cavalcanti Pereira Silva de Olivera, I would name my kid Jay or Joe. Maybe Jose or Yuri. You know, something to lighten up the thing. There's really no need to give them a second first name to cover the Great Grandfather when we see it in the last.

Of course Brazilians are a sentimental people.  They love their families, their names, and mostly their children. They want to honor the elderly they adore by including their name in their childrens'.  That's awesome and I love it.

So their children will bear the burden of that love and then, quite possibly, pass it down to their children. The best part, most hilarious part in my opinion, is that they don't even notice. The double name is all the rage. You know who complains or says something about it, my son with the simple first name. 

Go figure.

Happy 60th Bithday Dad!

Today is my Dad's 60th Birthday and that is something that makes me miss being at home.

So Dad, since I'm not there with you on your birthday, I wanted to share some of the memories of you that I carry around with me.

* I loved the videos you sent while on cruise.  Dad would talk to us and give us a tour of his little bunk. Our drawings and picturs were always up on his wall and it gave us a glimpse at his daily life.

* It was awesome getting our own postcards from where you went!  Dad always sent one to each of his little spawns.

* Cruising around in the Opal was always a good time. I really thought I was going to get that car, even though I was 6. In Dad's defense, he had to sell it before my oldest brother turned 16.  That brother has a taste for speed and they thought he'd end up dying in it.  Poor Dad, I swear he shed a tear watching it drive away.

* Candy at the supermarket. Dad always let me pick a candy bar when he had to stop for something at the store.

* Pool Mondays. When Dad was in town, he'd take all of us to free swim at the pool on Mondays. We could each invite a friend.  This automatically made our Dad one of the coolest.

* Dad always came to all my track meets.  He'd show up and be the only guy in a suit.  It was awesome!

* When I took zero period Junior year of High School, Dad used to drive me to class before he left for work. We always took a detour to Starbucks before we both started our early day.

* Dad scared the crap out of my first date. Thankfully, I am at the point where I can laugh about it now. He pulled the total military 'Son, what are your intentions with my daughter.' Not to mention, he taught our Rotti to snarl on command. My date happened to be scared of dogs. That was our first and last date.

* Dad is lucky I have a sense of humor because while displaying said snarl to my second date, our Rotti jumped up and bit the head off of the rose he had brought me. It was hilarious. Of course not to him.  Poor guy looked so deflated standing at the door with a broken rose!

Daddy this is just a small example of the memories I have. You've always been the man in my life that I could run to with anything.  You've supported me regardless of agreeing with me. And you've always been there to get me out of trouble if I need it.  I love you and am so happy that I get to call you my Dad!

Happy Birthday 60th Birthday!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


We all have in-laws. On both sides. I think it's a somewhat cruel twist of nature that one couple gets two pairs of in-laws. Really, they should do something about it.

I believe that upon each marriage, there should be a lottery and a random new set of parents is given to the couple. Consider it a new tribe.  Now don't get my wrong. I love my in-laws, as does my husband, but think about the sanity involved in one set of grandparents per couple. There will be no over-caring for one spouse or the other. They may, quite possibly, not care for either.

This goes double for mixed-cultured marriages.  There's so much confusion with the two sides and getting used to your spouse's parent's ways.  Take my Brazilian to American marriage for example. I think we should be given a set of German parents. That way we are all equally confused.

And that would banish the whole "I don't get your Mother/Father" situation totally. For starters, it would not be offensive to say something along the lines of "I hate when your Mother/Father does this!" because they would probably agree.  That or, at the very least, they wouldn't get butt hurt by the comment. A lack of history is great at keeping you unbiased.

Not to mention it would be a fabulous way of meeting new people and internationalizing the world.

So who's up for a lottery? I can offer some grade A parents on both sides!  

I like it Hot. If I say it enough, I will believe it.

It's hot. Seriously, it's freaking hot down here. The sun is shining, the sky is a gorgeous blue, and my white ass skin is being burnt off.

So dealing with this kind of "wonderful" weather takes some mental focus.  You have to remember the positives. Yes, there are positives to skin melting heat.

For starters, your clothes dry super fast!  I have to hang my clothes to dry and in this heat it takes about 3hours for the light stuff and 5 hours for the heavier things. I'm not even really exaggerating too much here. It dries faster than hell.

No more drying dishes. I wash and leave them to air dry in all of 15 minutes. Awesome blossom.

It's easier to eat healthy in excessively hot weather. Crisp green salads look especially tasty and anything creamy looks like death. Hello two sizes smaller, good to see you again.

You really get to know your body slathering it with sunscreen twice a day.  My saddlebags and I haven't been this close in a long time.  It's good to reconnect with those normally ignored parts of the body.

You can sleep naked and maybe your spouse will think you have back your 20s body confidence. Plus, nude sleeping makes a little something something all that more likely to happen.  Plus your preschooler will now realize that Mommy's boobies are in fact different than Daddy's.

You can drink sweetened homemade iced tea by the bucket full. Is there anything better than that?!

Let's also not forget the 5 minutes you save each morning not putting on make up. Why bother when it's going to melt off anyway.

So there you have it. I like to say these things aloud each morning before my pose and I face the hell of the hot that is Rio de Janeiro summer.  It's like a mantra: I like this weather. It's good to be active. I like this weather. I will leave the house.

What positives can you find about this kind of ridiculously hot weather?

Life in a Shoe Box: Purge vs Hoard

I have an issue with stuff. It's taken over my home. There are two reasons why this has happened. 1. My husband is a closet hoarder.  2. My apartment does not not have enough closets to hide it all.  

My number 2 is questionable because the 2 build-in closets and one walk-in mean that I have more closet space than 125 % of Cariocas.  So essentially I can't bitch. 

Except number1 and number 2 do not necessarily work well together. And no, I have no responsibility in this.  Zero, zip, Nada.  Ok, maybe a little bit. But number one is not far off.  You see, I was reading Danielle's post about packing and her move.  She made a comment that I totally related to: 

"How did we accumulate so much stuff? Where is it going to go?"

When we were moving my husband out of his childhood apartment and the amount those cabinets barfed up was astounding.  It was Crapapalooza and it was all being boxed and brought to my house.  

I'm not saying my dear Mr. Rant collects crap. He just has a difficult time throwing certain things away.  Maybe old tax statements make it easier to sleep at night. Quite possibly, the 3,000 pairs of shoes remind him of all the paths he has walked in life. And, perhaps, his multitude of 80s style photo albums bring his almost middle aged heart peace, as he has proof he has lived. 

I get it and it's awesome. Of course there's the whole thing that I have about 8 working cabinets, 2 kids, and no where to put anything.  It's a pain. I'm used to 2 stories of glorious storage space. Enough space where you don't  even know what you have stored.

And that gets to to my stage right now. I want to purge baby.  I don't understand why I want storage in the first place. Why in the hell do I need to stuff things in closest? If they are there, you aren't using them in the first place. I want to throw things away.

The Brazilians are not pleased with this attitude. Brazilians do not throw away.  They save, take care of, and give to other members of the family. They manage to store things until they are needed by someone they know. They find a way. Honestly, the storage force is strong in this breed of people.  The Container Store should come down here and ask the Brazilian people to give them tips. 

Then my husband, the shining star he is, came up with a fabulous idea.  We will give our old crib mattresses (yes we still have them, do you see what I mean now) and such to the families who lost their things in the flooding. We will take the things we feel clutter our home and let them fill the home of someone else.  It's a very romantic concept and a perfect idea.

Of course, I do wonder.  Are they in the market for a junk drawer? I mean, a home is not complete without one and I'm looking to give mine away!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rio de Janeiro takes Care of their Elderly

I think the city of Rio de Janeiro read my obesity post or something because action has been taken.  The government of Rio de Janeiro has put in public exercise equipment in plazas around the city.  Keep in mind, this equipment is meant for the elderly. But they do not discriminate in Brazil and you can see people of all ages enjoying the movement of their bodies.

As you can see in the pictures, we aren't talking the 80s prison version of exercise equipment. These bad boys swing and flex, using resistance as their method of madness.  Think of it as new age physical therapy for the rusty.

To make things even better, they have a publicly paid trainer go and give classes. I saw it with my own eyes.  Personally, he was a bit pudgier than I like my personal trainers, but it's free and in a plaza.  Beggars can't be choosers. And before you judge me on the pudgier comment, I think it's logical that the person giving you physical fitness advice actually be physically fit. Call me a philosopher or something but it just makes sense.

So the old folks go to their Tai Chi in the park and then cruise to the plaza for a little stretch/movement training. I just may sign up to be old and start focusing on my self improvement.

The personal trainers work at these exercise centers from 7 to 10am and from 4 to 7 pm. And Largo do Machado is not the only old person fitness friendly spot.  You can find more of these centers at Anchieta, Cavalcanti, Bangu, Praca Seca, Ilha, Flamengo, Leme, and Copacabana.

Yo, People of the US, it is now officially cool to take care of your elderly! Send Grandma a note and tell her to put on her Havaianas. You are picking her up and taking her to stretch her legs at the plaza.

Wordless Wednesday:Summer Fashion (not bikinis)

People love fashion and, regardless of what I say here, so do Cariocas. Yes, they do wear clothes and many of them really know how to dress well! Colors, styles, and the bodies to show them off on.  So here's your taste of some of the styles planned for the Summer of 2011. Enjoy!

Cantao (excuse the lack of accent mark):

Espaco Fashion:

Maria Bonita: