Sunday, March 3, 2019

So... Carnaval

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Carnaval (confusingly spelled Carnival in English and Carnivale in Italian, ensuring that every time I say or spell this word my brain freezes) but just so you know, it’s kind of a big deal.  There are street parties, called blocos, and giant parades in the Sambódromo - a stadium just for carnaval parades as far as I can see - and we get three full days off work as the country shuts down.

I was really looking forward to Carnaval this year and 110% set on going to Rio and doing the whole thing “right”. But life got in the way.

#1 I was booking super late so everything from flights to hotels to tickets was even more expensive. #2 No one else wanted to go and while normally I’m fine traveling solo Carnaval did not seem to be that kind of holiday. #3 I’ve heard a lot of bad things about safety, especially if you’re trying to get an Uber alone in the middle of the night. It certainly wouldn’t feel very safe back home and Rio doesn’t sound like the kind of city where I’d want to try it for the first time. #4 Finally, and especially, - baby. I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind for the weekend - he’s still nursing after all - but if he came he wouldn’t be old enough to attend any of the fun stuff. His nanny was willing to come, but of course that adds to the cost. And since it’s sort of an all night commitment I’d have to try to find a quiet corner (ha!) of a huge, mildly drunken party - with an outlet of course! - to pump. And I get the feeling they’d frown on me bringing all that into the sambódromo, given that they don’t even allow water.

I always swore I wouldn’t let having a baby stop me from having a life, but he definitely won this round.

So instead I’m at home this weekend, cleaning, grocery shopping, and generally being very domestic.

But next year, baby, you’re on your own because mama is GOING to party. ;)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The post where I explain why being a single working mom = less blogging

Seriously, though. Even as a person who takes pride in her time management skills, fitting all the cleaning, grocery shopping, check ups, cooking and some very modest socializing in between feedings* and diaper changes has proven a bit harder than anticipated. It seems like his naps are never quite long enough to finish the to do list. And whoever said you should just sleep whenever the baby sleeps clearly didn’t have a house to run. When would I ever get enough peace and quiet to cook dinner if he was awake?

We have, however, successfully found a fantastic pediatrician and the fanciest hospital either of us will probably ever visit. (Just for regular immunizations, don’t worry! We’re both totally healthy.) And I’m starting to figure out a grocery buying system that works for us. (A combo of buying a few groceries over my lunch hour during the week and taking him in an Uber over the weekend for the big weekly shop.) We still haven’t received our UAB or HHE yet so I can’t say we’re fully settled in, but we’re getting there. Pouco a pouco.

My mom is in town visiting for the week - hi Mom! - and it’s been great so far. Hopefully little guy remembers her from his first few weeks of life.

While I definitely owe some more updates now that I’ve arrived at Post, we’ll just have to see how frequently I’ll be able to manage.

Até logo!

*Also, does it bother anyone else that normal people “eat” but babies “feed”? And that we have “meals” and they have “feedings”? Maybe it’s just me.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Bom dia from Brazil!

As you may have noticed I decided that almost 52 weeks of blogging earned me a little vacation over the holidays (and in the middle of a somewhat stressful international move with an infant).  I’ve been keeping busy though!

We spent the holidays in the Midwest with my parents. Sadly the baby’s cousins couldn’t make it - they’re still in South America - but the rest of the family was together. Since baby might not get a US Christmas in the next couple of years we went all out this year, singing him carols, dragging him in to the mall to sit on Santa, and obsessively reading The Night Before Christmas. Since he doesn’t eat anything interesting yet I made sure to eat extra goodies on his behalf. ...and will be working off all those calories for the next six months!

We also got a chance to visit my place down in Florida and do some repairs. After the hurricane we needed to replace an AC unit, fix the front and back stairs, replace some siding, have the septic system checked and redo the driveway. All together I bet it was around 10-12k. Not ideal for the very first year of the house’s existence, but we’re so blessed that it wasn’t completely destroyed like so many others. It really is a testament to modern building techniques and construction codes. And I was very, very happy to have baby spend a few nights in his own home. 

Then, of course, there was the move to Brazil. It actually went really well. Altogether baby took 7 flights in his first two months so by the time we boarded the 10 hour flight down to South America  he was a pro already. I had heard that you just need to feed babies on take off and landing and it turned out to be true, at least in his case. The only dicey part was trying to use the airplane restroom (both for me and for diaper changes). How can planes that regularly carry babies be so ill equipped for something as simple as a diaper change? One bathroom didn’t even have a changing table. Ugh. 

Arriving in Brazil was such a relief, especially after so many months waiting. I found the city much greener than anticipated and - except for the rougher state of the roads and sidewalks - it looks and feels pretty familiar. 

We won’t get our UAB and HHE for a couple of months most likely but we’re settling in ok without them. Baby and I both like his nanny a lot and, other than the typical mom guilt, I feel good leaving him with her every day.  My colleagues are great, our housing is perfect for us, and we’re within a very short walk of all the basic necessities.  In short, it’s a good life.

Til next time! 

Sunday, December 16, 2018


My mention last week of the New Years Resolution that I wasn’t able to keep reminded me that it’s about time for the annual roundup.  

2018 has been a year full of changed plans and unexpected drama, so I didn’t get everything checked off and I’m ok with that. There will be another season for any goal that was worth having, and the distractions of 2018 more than make up for the disruption they may have caused.

Without further ado... 

New Year’s Resolutions 2018

Take tennis lessons for 6 months and/or join a sailing club in São Paulo
Nope! Didn’t travel to Brazil and didn’t feel good about such active pursuits while pregnant so no regrets. Maybe next year!

Play the piano in public
There’s still time! I fully intend to do this

Learn to bake bread
Happening soon

Celebrate all the holidays 
Done! Except Halloween but I guess we did a lot of celebrating that night in the delivery room...

Spend a night in my own house
Done! And it was everything I thought it would be. Even better? Bringing the Offspring down to spend the night at his very own house.  

Write 100 pages to submit somewhere for publication. (Even if I don’t submit it)
I didn’t end up submitting much - just a couple things - but it’s progress and just doing the writing with the goal of getting it published was a big step.

Learn to make cinnamon rolls

Watch the top 50 films according to the American Film Institute. 
One to go (The Best Year’s of Our Lives) - I’ll make it

Blog once per week
See last week’s blog - only missed one week

Be more graceful/gracious... ie, be a lady
Not sure! I guess that’ll teach me to set vague goals. Though I did get called “lady” several times this year. (Does it count if every time was actually “pregnant lady”?)

That was 2018, but I’ve already got some goals in mind for 2019. Ready?

New Year’s Resolutions 2019
  • Learn to make sushi
Visit one new country (Brazil doesn’t count)
Go on a big vacation within Brazil (something like an Amazon cruise or Carnival in Rio)
See the top 75 films according to the American Film Institute - seems like the logical follow up to the goal from last year and I’m only nine films away
Earn $100 via one or more side hustles - this is definitely a stretch goal for me because I’ve got more on my plate anyway and I’m not a natural entrepreneur
Take tennis lessons and/or join a sailing club in São Paulo - this year I have a good feeling about this goal
Read one book each in Italian, Portuguese, and either French or Serbian 
Turn my last area for improvement into a strength on my EER
Host some sort of group - maybe a book club or at the very least brunch 
Get promoted - a girl can dream right?
  • Learn a DIY skill - after watching family and contractors do all the work on the beach house this year (and standing uselessly on the sidelines) I resolve to learn how to do something useful around the house

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Time off

Well, I didn’t quite keep the New Year’s Resolution about blogging once a week. Due to a family member’s hospitalization and passing it seemed appropriate to give the blog a short vacation and to be honest I don’t have much news for today either, except the fact that I’ll be writing next weekend from my place down in Florida where we’ll be doing some decorating/maintenance and supervising some contractors as they get the last few items repaired on the house. I’m glad the offspring will get a chance to stay in our actual house this visit, even if he isn’t old enough to remember it. And I might be brave enough to give the Vespa another go. We’ll see.

And here’s a picture from our trip last weekend to Minnesota - we didn’t really see much outside the hospital, but it still counts as baby’s eighth state in his first five weeks of life. He’s a true foreign service baby, that’s for sure. I just hope he’s as good on a plane as he is in the car.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Maternity leave, part 2

Brazilian visas officially applied for! Flights booked! And only one week away from the checkups we need to get our medical clearances squared away. I’m relieved that all the preparations for our PCS are going smoothly. (And simultaneously terrified at the prospect of a ten hour flight with an infant!)

On tap for the rest of maternity leave - teaching baby to sleep through the night, figuring out how to work the car seat without assistance, and translating the nanny’s contract into Portuguese. It’s really a pretty light schedule and I’m torn between enjoying the time off and getting itchy feet to be at post and start doing real life again.


And hit the beach. Just saying...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Maternity leave, part 1

Technically it’s not really maternity leave but it’s close enough.

For the curious, federal employees don’t get maternity leave but we can use six weeks of accumulated sick leave to recover from delivery. After that we can take annual leave and/or go on leave without pay status to stay home a little longer with baby. I’m taking about 8 weeks, for
 example.  For me the decision was mostly based on the realities of the season. Considering that I need to do quite a bit of bureaucratic wrangling to get baby on my orders, obtain his passport and visa, and have us both medically cleared, I knew we’d need extra time to work around holiday delays. And there’s no sense busting my backside to get us to post the day before Christmas when everyone is on vacation anyway.

I mistakenly thought that maternity leave would be boring, but I’m finding just the opposite to be true.  With a newborn even finding the time (with one or more hands free) to finish an email or a text can be a little challenging. And running around collecting paperwork feels like a full time job. I can’t imagine how people with older kids or multiples (or unsupportive families) manage it all.  Luckily I’ve had lots of help from my mother (aka “the baby whisperer”) and the rest of the family.

Hoping your Thanksgiving is shaping up to be as filled with blessings as mine!  Til next time!