Friday, July 3, 2015

this morning from the apartment

I thought I would sit on the balcony this morning and update the blog, but there is just too much street noise on a Friday mid-morning to be comfortable.  I'm not the world's best sleeper and this noise goes on pretty constantly (our bedroom faces the noisy side of the apartment), so you can imagine the bags under my eyes after a week of poor sleep!

A little video to give you a taste:


(When I watch the video, it doesn't sound like lots of noise, but trust me.  There's just a constant humming of cars and sirens and people yelling and motorcycle horns honking.)

I'd like to point out some things of interest that you may have missed in the video.  (Sorry for dark pictures - the rainy weather is rolling in for the weekend.)

There are some unique marvels of engineering feat that can be viewed from our apartment.  To the left of our balcony, we can see this view:

Do you see what I see?

Here, let me give you close-ups of the left and right sides of that shot:

The mountain is being held up by what looks like concrete.

By concrete.

First of all, how did they get they get those beams under there?

Second of all, I hope the real estate prices of the apartment buildings that abut the mountain are cheaper than those not right on the mountain since they're serving as the first line of defense in case the beams give and the mountain crumbles.

Third of all, I'm glad there's a little distance between us and the mountain in case the Quikrete fails.

(With that said, the back of our apartment abuts the same mountain but I haven't seen any concrete beams on our side.)

Directly in front of our building is a little monument and plaza that the firefighters use for some sort of training.  We've now seen them twice in the last week here.  They raise the ladders, lower the ladders, shoot some water around and then head off with all sirens blaring.

More on the housing situation later, but it looks - fingers crossed - like we may move into our real residence in September!  We toured the house yesterday and I'm happy to report that I could not hear the first bit of street traffic when I stood on the balconies!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welcome to Rio!

(This post was written last Friday, but we just got internet at home, so I'm posting today!)

Jimmy and I have landed in Rio de Janeiro, where we’ll be posted for the next three years.  (As an aside – so you don’t think we jettisoned the boy and dog as excess baggage, they are both enjoying family time in the US.  I’ll return to SC in a couple weeks to bring them both back with me, in time for Mac to start school.)

The arrival in Rio was not as smooth as we would have hoped.  Jimmy and I were on different flights (he was on his official government ticket on one airline and I was on a frequent flyer ticket on another airline so that I can use my official ticket when I return with Mac and Leo).  My flights worked like clockwork.  We boarded on time, we left on time, we arrived a few minutes early and my luggage made it to Rio.  Jimmy didn’t have the same luck.  His original flight was delayed by several hours due to bad weather (which would have meant missing the connection to Rio) so he got the last seat on another flight.  He got conflicting information about whether his luggage would be transferred to the new flight, but what can you do?  His connecting flight to Rio ended up being late, so I arrived 30 minutes ahead of him instead of 30 minutes behind him as planned.  And alas, his luggage did not arrive. 

Jimmy doesn’t pack his carry-on the same way I do.  I had two full changes of clothes in my carry-on.  I will never be stuck somewhere without clean underwear and deodorant.  And clean socks.  And 3 ounces of my beloved Lubriderm.  And my electric toothbrush and Sensodyne.  Jimmy packed his running shoes and his baseball glove in his carry-on. 

After we dealt with the missing luggage at the airport (UPDATE:  3 suitcases arrived Saturday and the fourth suitcase arrived Sunday), our sponsor took us to a wonderful grocery store where we got some essentials for the next day or two and then to the drugstore so Jimmy could buy a whole new set of toiletries.  (UPDATE:  We washed his underclothes and dress shirt that he'd worn on the airplane, ironed the shirt and he wore the same outfit back to the office on Friday.)

Then we were dropped at home for a few minutes so Jimmy could freshen up before going into the consulate.  I chose not to go in with him – I’ll go tomorrow – and so I’ve unpacked all my suitcases, taken a little nap, read and finally showered.

As some of you know, we are living temporarily in an apartment while the residence undergoes some renovations.  The apartment is much larger than I’d imagined from the photos and is quite lovely with the residence furniture they’ve moved over.  It’s such a novelty to not have the same furniture and fabrics that we’ve had the last 17 years!  I wish you could see all the beautiful lamps in the apartment.  Oh my gosh, they aren’t those horrible brass or glass things that everybody around the world has.  They’re gorgeous!  
The apartment has three bedrooms each with its own bathroom, a powder room, living room, dining room and kitchen.  The master bedroom also has a study attached to it.  There is a small balcony that runs along the front of the apartment with sweeping and stunning views of the Lagoa and the mountains called Morro Dois Irmaos.  When I say it’s stunning, I mean it’s STUNNING.  I wish you were sitting on the couch with me right now, enjoying the view and my nice lamps.  That will not get old.  We cannot see Christ the Redeemer from our apartment, or at least I haven’t found it yet from any of the windows.  The complex we’re in has a lot of great amenities but I haven’t checked them out yet except from the window.  I can see the tennis courts and basketball court from Mac’s room, and I know there are pools somewhere down there.

It’s been a very dreary, cool day in Rio.  I can tell you that after only having seen Rio in the brilliant sunshine, when it really sparkles, Rio in the rain is less sparkly.  With that said, the 70-ish degree temperatures have been a lovely respite from the 100-degree weather we experienced earlier in the week in DC.  (UPDATE:  After the first dreary day, the sun came back out and we had a fabulous, gorgeous weekend that we spent outside.  More to come on that.)

FINAL UPDATE:  Today is the official Fourth of July party so I'm off to have my nails touched up.  I do not intend to leave this apartment tomorrow morning so I will update on the last week of activity.  Until then, I leave you with a panoramic shot from our balcony.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Update on the spelling bee

(I just realized that this didn't publish for some reason. Didn't mean to leave you hanging, Beth!!) 

It wasn't a banner day for Mac at the spelling bee. Of the 7 students who participated (one was reportedly in London), he was eliminated second by a pretty easy word. 

When the announcer said "snide", I could tell from his face that he had no idea how to spell it. But he jumped in anyway, mangled it royally, and took his elimination with his head held high. 
What I've learned about school spelling bees is that some people (like 6 of the 8 there today) take these things very seriously. They've watched Akeelah and the Bee and the National Spelling Bee on ESPN one too many times. They ask for the definition, for the word to be used in a sentence and for the word to be repeated. C'mon. The word was groundhog. You don't need the definition or a sentence. Quit stalling and spell the word. 

I am pleased to tell you the girl who appeared horrified at Mac's lax approach to spelling bee preparation won the whole thing so she and her Tiger Mom can feel vindicated in their stellar prep work. 

I am vindicated by the fact that my child's  photographic memory has never seen the word "snide" before because it's really not such a positive word. And I know he'll never forget how to spell it again. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

the school spelling bee

As I type this, I'm waiting for the finals of the school spelling bee to start. 

I was very shocked to get an invitation last week to the spelling bee to watch Mac in said finals.  

Had the invitation been for the finals of a sports contest, sure. But the spelling bee falls under "academic pursuit", and Mac usually stays away from those. 

There are 8 students in the finals. Four 6th graders, two 7th graders and two 8th graders. 

I asked him if participation in the early bees was mandatory. It was not. 

I asked if it had been a written test up until now. It has not been. 

I asked if he wanted me to help him study, make flash cards, etc. He did not. 

He told me his study plan was to just stare at as many words as he saw in a day and commit them to memory. He has a great memory, but I'm not sure it's photographic. But I checked my Tiger Mom instinct and left it alone. 

Yesterday he told me one of the 6th grade co-competitors asked if he'd been studying. He told her no, he said she looked shocked, and so he mentioned his casual approach to spelling bee training. I don't think she or her Tiger Mom are impressed. 

Mac then told me the whole reason he started with the spelling bee tryouts was to earn extra credit in Reading. He bombed a test, and knew the extra credit would boost his grade. Jimmy and I kept asking how his grade had improved so much. Now we know. 

He also told me that he knows he won't win, but the winner gets to skip an entire class. For what reason, I don't know. But that's his incentive. Skipping a class. 

If you could send out some positive energy starting at 8:15 today, that would be much appreciated. I don't care if he wins or loses this thing; I just don't want humiliation in front of an auditorium full of people.  

Here's to hoping his photographic memory is switched "on" today!

Friday, March 13, 2015

One little dog on my bad list

Tonight we went to dinner at District Taco (best carnitas!) with our dear friend Chico from Guadalajara days a very long time ago. Jimmy, Chico and Mac dropped me off at home and went on to Mac's baseball practice at the batting cage. 

I entered the apartment to find my sweet little Leo waiting for me. But instead of barking and jumping around in excitement, he was slinking around with his ears all the way down. 

I've been a parent long enough to know that the children only act that guilty when they've done something really bad. 

Like knock over the trash can and rummage through all the contents. 

Like find the zip-loc bag of biscuits Mom threw away, shred the bag open, and eat the biscuits on the floor,

on the couch, and on top of Mom's favorite orange chair. 

And if the biscuits weren't enough, finish off the bag of Doritos on the couch. 

Make sure you save something for a bedtime snack in case the biscuits wear off.
This is one mad Mama tonight. I've now swept, vacuumed the floor and the furniture, put in a load of laundry to wash the sheets and towels we drape over the couch, and ignored one very poorly behaved pup, who will not be getting his peanut butter Kong at bedtime. 

Happy Friday night from my little monster and me!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A few of my favorite things...

1.  Sonicare electric toothbrush 

always get a clean bill of health from the dentist, but I also always get a lecture about how I'm brushing away my gums. I have always brushed too hard. It seems only natural that the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth should be. But alas, the dental experts in my life consistently tell me that is not the case. 

So now I have receding gums, I wear a night guard to help with the grinding, and I fly through toothbrushes like they're used dental floss. The bristles get all splayed out within a day or two or three, which naturally means I just have to brush that much harder. 

A couple weeks ago, I went in for my semiannual dental cleaning. The dentist and the hygienist said the single best thing I could do for my receding gums - and my teeth in general - was stop using a regular toothbrush and instead use an electric toothbrush. 

We bought our new Sonicare toothbrushes this weekend - Jimmy got one, too, because after all it's the best thing that you can do for your teeth. And we love them. We had to get past the tingling lips, but it has a timer -no more humming the ABC song 2 times. Or was it the Happy Birthday song 3 times?  Anyway it times you for 2 minutes with pauses every 30 seconds so you can change quadrants. It's a brilliant little mechanism that's making our teeth feel better than ever. 

2. Working for a private company 

A couple weeks ago, my program manager at the company I work for sent an email to presumably a bunch of us which said whoever responded first to the email would get 2 tickets to the Capitals-Rangers hockey match. 

I responded and got the tickets! 

Naturally I gave the tickets to Jimmy and Mac because I knew Mac would rather go with Jimmy than me.  They are there right now. By all accounts, they are having a great time and spending all the money we saved on the free tickets (note the new hockey jersey that Mac is wearing, although we expressly agreed he would not get a jersey at the game only 30 seconds before they got out of the car and went in to the Verizon Center).

3.  Chevrolet Equinox

We got our new car this week. It's our first new car in over 11 years. We are loving it. It smells good, has leather seats and about 4000 buttons, and it's quiet. So, so quiet. This was a long time coming so we are savoring the delicious beauty of it. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Music to a mom's ears

Our apartment building does a pet of the month. We haven't put forth Leo as a nominee because, well, it seems a little weird to nominate your own pet. 

This month's pet was announced and it's none other than Leo's puppy girlfriend, Ruby.  When I read the write-up on Facebook, I realized that Ruby's been two-timing Leo, which is no bueno. 

The only saving grace is that Leo is at least recognized as the "nice" boyfriend.  Every mom wants her son to be a nice boyfriend.