Sunday, June 30, 2019

Brazil with a capital B

Me and the offspring found a new favorite spot in São Paulo a few weeks ago and I have to say it’s one of only a handful of times since we arrived that I really felt like I was in Brazil. Not that São Paulo isn’t great, just that it feels very much like home most of the time. (But with bad sidewalks)

It was raining a bit, so that may have scared off the majority of visitors, but the botanical garden (Jardim Botânico) felt just right with everything dripping. This is the rainforest after all.

Baby wasn’t actually in the mood for a stroll, but we managed and once he can walk I think he’ll really enjoy this place.

So check it out if you get the chance - ie if you are in São Paulo on a rainy afternoon. It costs 10 reais (about 2.50) and is right by the zoo.









Sunday, May 26, 2019

Nursery reveal

Technically I finished decorating baby’s nursery a few weeks ago but I never seem to get around to photographing it when the sun’s up and happy.  So forgive the slight delay. But with no further ado I am happy to show off the room I've been putting together for this cheerful, chubby 6 month old.





(from my adventures in West Africa!)

As you can probably tell, I went with an ocean theme for the offspring which is a bit ironic since we never really go to the ocean. But I guess it serves as inspiration.  Big thanks to my mom who gifted us the toys, many of the books and the best crib.


Yes, he's already reading (ok, chewing on) books in two languages. 






I like this crib so much because it can be adjusted for short parents like me to actually be able to reach my baby. One of the biggest reasons his loaner crib in DC didn’t get much use is that I was super nervous about dropping him since it was so hard/awkward for me to reach him at all. But no more! He’s napping 2-3 times a day in it and I’ve just started trying to get him to spend some time there at night.





This rug was SO hard to find. First off, no one seemed to have much variety as far as design so even though I knew I wanted something super simple it still required a ton of searching. Also, the rugs for sale seemed to be generally pretty poor quality.  Finally - on the world's hottest day (and at the world's least ventilated, un-airconditioned rug store) we found this. They wouldn’t even show it to me (even when I said I wanted dark blue, thicker material). But I kept circling back and saying I wanted to check it out. It’s actually almost twice the size of his room but I have it doubled up which gives some nice padding and I like the little sparkles woven in. All in all, it was a lucky find and I’m glad I held out for what I wanted.  Still - a great example of how customer service in other countries can be so different from back home.



Hopefully this room will grow with the little guy and be a fun place for him to hang out - at least for the next two years!



And special thanks to my helpful baby model!



Sunday, May 12, 2019

The dance of the working mother

A story in honor of Mother’s Day...

I sometimes forget how accommodating my team and work schedule are when it comes to the realities of breastfeeding.  Twice a day I mysteriously vanish for 20-30 minutes - whether it’s a good time or not - and I’ve never gotten a word of grief about it. (Yay for progress!). But a work trip the other day brought home how the logistics of many jobs would be so hard to manage for a breastfeeding mom.

I volunteered/was selected for an outreach trip - my first chance to leave the city of São Paulo since my arrival - and give a presentation to local businesspeople. I luckily remembered the day before to pack my pump and accessories and leave an extra half-hour early so I could pump before the presentation.  I googled how to say “I need to pump”. I even brought a plug adaptor in case they have the slightly less common plug types that won’t work for US appliances. I was prepared with a capital P.

But you can’t control everything.  The first Uber driver canceled - 10 minutes gone. Then the second dropped me 10 minutes away from the event location by mistake. I still thought I could squeeze in a few minutes... but the private bathroom outlet wasn’t working.  I ended up waiting til the end of my presentation - 2 more hours on top of the 3ish I’d already waited (my fellow moms know what a big deal that is) and pumping out in the open in a public restroom. Needless to say, it was a messy situation, but I made it work and the Brazilians were incredibly understanding. It takes a village after all. And the presentation? It went great!

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, grandmas, and of course all the other wonderful mothers out there!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Picture dump

Rather than bore you with any philosophic musings this evening (or more whining about how I don’t get out anymore now that baby is around) I thought I’d share some more of our adventures in São Paulo now that we’re 4 months in.

Overall I’ve found São Paulo to be really livable, safe (at least in my neighborhood), and surprisingly similar to home.  So don’t be afraid to visit if you’re planning a trip to Brazil.


Early on we visited Ibirapuera park - the largest park in the city with museums and other activities inside. It’s great for an afternoon walk and I want to go back and see the museums sometime.

While I don’t have the pictures to prove it, we did visit and enjoy Avenida Paulista - a major street reserved for pedestrians on Sundays. There’s a bit of shopping and music but it was mostly just nice to get out and walk. We also visited Liberdade - the Japanese neighborhood with amazing restaurants and Asian grocery stores (my fave!). And we’ve been to Embu das Artes on the outskirts of São Paulo. It’s a little artsy village with tons of craft items for sale, cute architecture, and street food. Oh and randomly - puppies. For that reason alone it was a bit win and I definitely intend to take future visitors there.

Ok, back to actual photos.

This is the municipal market, I went there with my mom. We had a great time trying out the fruit vendor (and learned some important lessons for next time). The neighborhood was really rough and it wasn’t a very comfortable visit because the building isn’t air conditioned but they have some interesting items for sale and it’s worth a visit if you’re in town for awhile.


The children’s bloco (Carnival party) that we attended until baby started freaking out - so for about 30 seconds. Looked like lots of fun for older kids - costumes, candy, music, games - but it was a bit too much for us this time around.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter!

Is this or is it not the guiltiest looking baby you’ve ever seen?

And no, he’s not yet old enough to actually eat the head sized chocolate egg; I had to help with that. But he seems to have the right idea about it.

The supermarkets have been full of these for weeks so naturally we had to indulge. And to work off all those calories I painted the offspring’s nursery. More on that later when I can do a big before and after reveal.

Oh, and sorry no sadly no pictures in the Easter outfit, though I promise it was cute. Maybe we’ll doma fake Easter for the photo-op later.

Hope your holiday was full of family/friends and massive chocolate eggs too!



Friday, April 5, 2019

Stuff! And lots of it

My HHE arrived a few weeks ago and I am so relieved to finally be able to settle in, organize, and set up house here. Of course we’ve been doing pretty well with the welcome kit and everything I could fit in the suitcases, but there are always things you miss. Having packed out three times by now I am starting to get a good sense of what I’ll want right away and what can wait longer  (almost 18 months this last time!) In fact I’d say the biggest screwup was leaving my frother in the HHE - 18 months with NO cappuccino! Poor me!

All told it was 120 packages - I know, that sounds like a ton, but hear me out.  About 25 were small-medium furniture pieces, another 20 (easily) were books. An ikea bed was 8 pieces just by itself, an ikea table and chairs was 7. About ten held my dishes since each dish was wrapped in an indecent amount of packing paper. Another 5-10 held kitchen tools and appliances, plus way more than you’d think of sheets, towels and pillows. so you know, I’m not a hoarder or anything.  Still, halfway through the delivery I was seriously doubting my life choices.  N that it’s all unpacked it really doesn’t look/feel like too much. I am, however, giving away a few sacks of small items, books, and a bed I’ve had since grad school. And I still have a ton of work ahead organizing everything. But it’s nice to be somewhere that feels like my own place. Two + years til we move again!

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. ;)