Thursday, June 25, 2009

miscellaneous musings...

1. The governor of South Carolina is a real embarrassment to the people of this great state. When you think of all the wonderful people and places that make up SC and the only thing that people around the world ever hear about SC is news of this bozo, it's really embarrassing. So if you're reading this and you're not a South Carolinian, please don't base your opinion of this state on this dingdong. There's so much more to it than him.

2. Yesterday Mac and I went clothes and shoe shopping, and one of the things he wanted to buy was a pair of hiking shoes to replace the ones he'd outgrown some time ago. He had a very specific image of what he wanted. They needed to be brown with orange accents, velcro closure, and a size 3. We searched high and low for hours for said pair of shoes, and there are none to be found from North Charleston all the way to Summerville. And according to Mac, that was all my fault. Who knew I was so powerful to have influence over hiking shoe selection in at least 10 shoe stores??? I shall have to don my SuperGirl cape more often to show my power.

3. Mac and I enjoyed an overnight visit from our friends, the Rolands, who are enroute to Florida. Kevin and Jimmy started the Foreign Service at the same time and we immediately clicked with Karen and Kevin from the beginning. They have a son who's a few months older than Mac (who was Mac's earliest playmate) and a daughter that we met for the first time last night. They're one of those families that no matter how much time passes between visits, you catch right back up. The best part of the visit was that we didn't have to tell them goodbye today because we're going to stay at their condo in Florida with them tomorrow night enroute to Disneyworld.

4. Finally, after 7 LLLLLOOOOONNNNGGGG weeks without seeing Jimmy, we get to see him on Saturday. Mac and I will overnight in Flagler Beach tomorrow and will drive on to Orlando on Saturday in time to pick up Jimmy at the airport. And we can't wait!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

babysitting courtesy of DSi

Since I have been stripped of my Mother of the Year crown on too many occasions to count, I have no shame in telling you that the DSi is a babysitter extraordinaire.

Do I feel guilty for letting him play this thing repeatedly?


Do I feel like a loser mom when I watch him playing it so intently that his mouth is open and his tongue is sticking out and he looks like he's a space cadet?

Without a doubt.

But do I love riding in the car without him asking 16 times "are we there yet?" when we haven't even left the driveway because he's happily playing a game?

You bet your britches I do.

If I do the multiplication correctly, at $10/hour for a babysitter, we're pretty close to getting our money's worth on that $300 purchase.

(Before anybody yells at me, don't worry: I am going to set limits for how long he can play each day. But this is still a novelty and I'm letting him play entirely too much. I know my shortfalls and don't need them pointed out to me. Thank you very much for your concern.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

we're not in Sao Paulo anymore

Today Jimmy's mom watched Mac while I went to the dentist for my semiannual cleaning. I dropped off our inherited car for a new set of tires enroute to the dentist and called Jimmy's mom after the dentist was done so she could come and pick me up. Mac asked to stay at Bubby's house longer and Bubby agreed so I ran errands.

Around lunchtime, I called to check in and was granted permission to stay away longer, so I decided to have a manicure and a pedicure. But the problem was that I didn't know where people in the know have this done in Moncks Corner. So I went to the first place that I saw and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn't get a fungus from implements that aren't sanitized.

My last mani-pedi was 2 weeks ago tomorrow on our last day in Brazil. They used some spectacularly red polish because we agreed it was "happy red" and I needed a good dose of happy red at that point. I had already removed the red from my fingernails because every time I looked at them, I thought I should be employed in the night. But the red was still going strong on the toes.

The technician's first question as she was removing the red was whether I had given myself the pedicure (there was a lot of red). So I told her no, it had been done in Brazil. Now I know it's hard to remove red polish but you use a little elbow grease and it comes off. I know because there was none left on my fingers. She apparently was fresh out of elbow grease because she left red all around the cuticles. So I thought she'd be revisiting that later.

But no.

When she got to the point of painting, she told me she couldn't use my selected white polish because the red would show through. To which I wanted to respond, "the red wouldn't show through if you'd remove the red properly." But as it's been years since I had a manicure in the US, I thought maybe they're not as detail-oriented as the technicians in Brazil. This lady also told me I needed pink for summer. What? Again, I went along with it because I didn't want to be difficult, so now I have a hideous pink on my toes - think the pinkest Easter dress pink you ever saw a little girl wear and that's what we're talking.

To top it all off, I paid more than twice what I paid in Brazil for expert mani-pedis and nobody even offered me a coffee and little cookies like you get in any nail place of any quality in Brazil. Let's just hope I don't get a fungus to boot!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I got hoodwinked

Upon our return to SC, I immediately made all those doctor and dentist appointments that we'd put off until we got home. One of the appointments we all had been dreading the most was the trip to Mac's allergist. Mac did the skin test in October and he wanted to scratch his arm off after that, so when the doctor said we needed to do an "open food challenge" for nuts whenever we got back home, Mac has panicked about that for the last 8 months.

I made the open food challenge appointment for yesterday morning and was told to bring in nuts for Mac to eat. Well I misunderstood the doctor's email from last October and thought we were going to test for cashews and pistachios which scored the highest on the skin test. Turns out we're not going to test for those at all because Mac just has to completely avoid those nuts entirely.

But when Mac saw the two jars of nuts that he (and I) thought he was going to have to eat, he freaked out and so I did what any desperate mother would do.

I bribed him.

I told him if he'd eat the nuts and get through the appointment, I'd go buy him this Nintendo DSi game system because he's apparently the only school-aged child left in America without one. That perked him up considerably and so we were off to the doctor's office.

We got there and I handed over all our nuts and then we were called back to start. The doctor then told me that we weren't going to test for pistachios and cashews and that since peanuts are the #1 allergen, we were going to test for that.

I asserted that Mac eats peanut butter all the time (contrary to the doctor's orders from October) and that I was pretty sure he didn't have an allergy to peanuts. All I could think was that I'd promised what ended up being a $300 expense (by the time we bought the system, 2 games, and the "starter kit" with the case, car charger, etc) for MAC TO EAT ONE OF HIS FAVORITE FOODS???? They had to be kidding.

But alas, they were not.

We spent 2 hours at the allergist's doing an open food challenge where Mac ate more and more peanut butter so that we could prove what I, Dr. Mom, already knew. He's been certified peanut allergy-free.

Now we have to schedule pecan and walnut challenges and I told Mac if he doesn't go through with those tests as nicely as he did the peanut butter, he loses the DSi. Right.

The only positive news is that I have 2 jars of my favorite nuts that I get to eat as part of my own open food challenge. I want to make sure I don't have an unknown allergy.

Last night when we said prayers, Mac thanked God for "the best day of his whole life, for the DSi, and for his Mom spending $300 on him." We've come a long way from a few weeks ago at his friend's weekend house when he told me I ruined everything good in his life. I like days like yesterday much better even if they cost $300.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

a very special Kindergarten graduation

Wow, who knew a kindergarten graduation could be so emotional? Chapel had a lovely prayer service to send off the students to first grade: they sang, they prayed, and the priest offered a short homily. I could see that Mac was emotional, so that just made me all the more snivelly.

Then parents were invited to their children's classroom for a little presentation and brunch. Mac's class sang a cute song about what they could spell and what they couldn't yet spell (hippopotamus) and then we watched this wonderful slide show of their kindergarten year. I tried to attach the video but it's a file type not supported by Blogger. Suffice it to say that as a mom, you need lots of kleenex to get through it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

a nice Sunday

With just 48 hours until departure, I am a big emotional mess. Today we enjoyed a really lovely church service - they're all really lovely at this church - where I just tried to soak up the mood and the music and the message, all of which are always so inspirational.

Then Mac and I treated ourselves to brunch at the Hilton. About a week ago, Mac announced that he would like to go for brunch one more time - Jimmy and I have clearly created a monster whose taste exceeds his parental budgetary constraints. But I figured why not? After all, how many "last Sundays" do we get in Sao Paulo?

So we went and had a real-life lesson in how different perceived socio-economic classes are treated differently. Every time we've gone to the Hilton, we've always been in the minivan that has the very distinctive blue consulate plates. And as soon as the car has hit the pavement of the entrance circle, valets have run out to meet us. Today, we pulled up in Jimmy's little beater car and nobody came running to meet us. We sat in the car for a few seconds. Nada. So Mac and I walked over to the valet stand where there were at least 4 valets standing there. And I told them in Portuguese that every other time we'd come in a consulate car, we'd had a huge welcoming committee, but today we're in a local-plated, very low-profile car and nobody comes. And that I thought that was an interesting little sociological study. Well of course, they apologized over and around themselves and told me that that wasn't the case, blah, blah, blah. But why, if that's not the case, did not one of these 4 gentlemen come over to get the keys from me? Were they seeing who drew the short straw and had to park the beater car when they were sure a Mercedes was going to come in right behind me? Rest assured that when we came out to pick up the car, we got service like I was the Queen of England (who is trying to cut back on the budget and drives a cheap car). And again, they apologized, but again, their behavior confirms that people who are perceived to be rich (and we're talking "perceived" wealth because we're certainly no richer driving the minivan than we are in the VW) get much better treatment in this country and probably any country for that matter.

Enough of my rant. We had a delightful and delicious brunch and our favorite Tatiana was our very pleasant server. Today I started with an assortment of salads that were all beautifully prepared and presented and then moved on to all this delicious hot food including this grilled steak that was so divine before finishing up with a trio of desserts - a cream puff, tiramisu, and a strawberry mille feuile. All yummy and all delicious and I'm sure not less than 4000 calories. But did I mention it was our last Sao Paulo Sunday, so who cares if I ate 4000 calories. Just so you know, Mac ate spaghetti which he declares is the best spaghetti in Sao Paulo and lots and lots and lots of ice cream.

I had promised Mac yesterday that we'd drive over the new bridge in Sao Paulo today (because I missed the turnoff for it yesterday). That stupid bridge is humongous and you'd think it would be easier to see how to get on it. But I spent 45 minutes driving up and down the Marginal trying to get on that bridge. About 35 minutes into this terrible effort, Mac told me he wanted to nap. When we finally approached the bridge start, I woke him up and told him to look because we were going over it and wouldn't you know that he was back asleep before we got off the bridge????

(As an aside, at some point during our Sunday afternoon drive, Mac asked me if Daddy's car was bullet-proof (this is not a conversation one ever has with their children in a place like Moncks Corner unless Daddy happens to drive the armored truck that takes money to the ATM machines). I told him no, Daddy's car was not bullet-proof and then he went on to tell me some of his friends who have bullet-proof cars (which is very common here). I asked him if the friend's car was heavy (meaning is the door heavy when you open it because they are awfully heavy and you definitely know you're opening an armored door). He misunderstood and said he wasn't sure because he hadn't tried to pick up the car!!)

Our evening ended at our church's despedida that they have every year to send off anybody who's leaving Sao Paulo. I'm just a big cry baby anyway, so this was just another opportunity for Kleenex to make more money. It was a very intimate and personal event - Mac and I had our own special time and were asked what we'd miss, what we wouldn't miss, where we were going, what we'd be doing, and any special prayer requests and then we were prayed for by someone who knows us. In our case, my dear friend Laura prayed for us and it was just so meaningful. And then everybody sang what I chose as our favorite hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul". I feel so blessed by our church family and our preacher and his family. They're going to be a tough act to follow.

Friday, June 5, 2009

the reality is sinking in

As we've prepared for this move, we didn't want Mac to get super-sad about it so we just focused on the positive happiness of moving: we'd be close to family and local friends again and Mac could play with most of his cousins any time he wanted and really that's about the only positive happiness I've seeing in this move right now.

Well Mac really took that denial thing and ran with it. I, on the one hand, have been crying at the drop of a hat. Somebody mentions airplanes or Afghanistan or summer vacation, and I pull out a wadded-up bunch of kleenexes to stop the inevitable rushing of tears that spill over my eyelids.

Mac, on the other hand, hasn't expressed the first hint of sadness. He's had last playdates with friends and while I'm practically hysterical thanking the mother, he's as cool as a cucumber about the whole thing.

Until today.

I picked him up from school as a surprise so he could play on the grassy field after school with his friends (and because we don't have any toys at home, so this is easy entertainment). He handed me his backpack and told me not to open one of the zippered compartments, which immediately made me ask "what do you have in there that's not supposed to be in there?" Turns out he took something from a center at school so I told him to march right back in there and put it back. His teacher and I started talking and I told her what he was doing. So she went over to talk to him and he told her (or more likely she suggested and he agreed) that he was taking it to have a reminder of her and his classmates. I'm not convinced that's the real reason he took it but that's the story I was told. She gave him this huge stuffed apple as a reminder (so if he was stealing, he got a BIG reward). I was trying to give them some space to work this out but Mac was so sad, crying and telling her he loved her. We walked away and for the first time, I saw and felt his sadness, which made me sad for doing this to him. He's got so many changes ahead of him: new house, new friends, new school, new church, all while Daddy's away. It's a tough sell for me and I had a choice in the matter, but it must seem incomprehensible to a 6 year-old. We will console ourselves by going to eat at a churrascaria tonight with friends. Surely this is nothing that some meat and grilled cheese can't cure....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

the end of talkative

Today after school Mac and I went to a local mall to buy a Brazil soccer jersey for him (it took 4 stores today, but we got it), to eat a burger at our favorite Fifties joint (yummy), and to check out navy dress pants for his kindergarten graduation (which we didn't get because I couldn't stand the thought of paying $75 for a pair of Dockers-like pants).

In the car going, I was trying to engage him in conversation. I asked him what he had for lunch (carrots and bread with catsup (everybody else had the hot dog that went with the bread and catsup but Mac)), if he had any tests today (they've been doing math tests and spelling words, so it was a legitimate question), etc. Finally he looked at me and asked if we could please ride in silence???

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

movin' on up!

The highlight in Kindergarten land this week has been getting to eat in the big cafeteria to practice for 1st grade. In preschool and K-5 at Chapel, the snacks and lunch come to the classrooms instead of the children going to the cafeteria.

So in anticipation of their "graduation" to 1st grade next week, they got to go to the cafeteria yesterday and today. You would think this is the most exciting thing that's happened to Mac in 6 years. As I was tucking him into bed tonight, I got the complete commentary on what the tray looks like and what you put in each compartment, how you get to ask the cafeteria ladies for whatever food you want off the line, and how you have to very carefully hold your used utensils in one hand and the dirty napkin in the other while you put the tray in the dirty tray area. The highlight of the post-lunch process? Dropping the utensils down this chute that ends in water!

Oh to be 6 again to experience the simple joys of life!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

an addendum to miscellaneous note #2

When Mac was in the middle of his hissy fit, I went into the bedroom to talk to him. He told me that he'd had the best day of his life and that I ruined it, just like I ruin everythiing for him. And to think that I still have the teenaged years to look forward to...

Monday, June 1, 2009

miscellaneous notes, continued

5. At the Festa Junina, Mac just ran around. The school is well-contained and I knew he wouldn't be allowed out where the cars were, so I wasn't worried about where he was until the fireworks started. These were CRAZY fireworks that were still on fire when they reached the ground. When the fireworks ended, I found him and he, of course, was fine. He slept with me at our friends' house and the next morning, as we were laying there waking up, I told him how nervous I was when I couldn't find him during the fireworks and how scared that made me. He patted me on the face and said "don't worry, moma, we found each other".

miscellaneous notes

1. Mac and I went to his school's Festa Junina on Saturday. For what "Festa Junina" means, go back in the blog a year and you can learn more than you ever wanted to know from asking a polite question. On Friday night, Mac informed me that he didn't want to go. I told him we were going. He insisted not. I asked why? Turns out he didn't want to dance the quadrilha (Brazilian square dance) or wear the costume (a plaid shirt with a big straw hat). You know what? I didn't really blame him. That didn't sound like too much fun to me either, so I told him he didn't have to dance or wear that funny get-up. So we went to the party and ate fried pastels and churros stuffed with doce de leite and cotton candy. He played more of the fishing game and the beanbag through the clown's mouth and the chicken catapult game that I care to admit. It was completely blissful and we both had a great time.

2. After the Festa Junina, we went with Mac's friend's family to their weekend house. I met Claudia, the friend's mom, at the kindergarten orientation and could tell I liked this woman from the get-go. She was a kindred spirit. We went to their house last year and it's just a big slice of relaxing heaven an hour and 15 minutes outside of Sao Paulo. We got there about 8:30 on Saturday night, and the children played and the adults visited and we all ate and it was lovely. Sunday was a big breakfast and a big lunch with playing in between and afterwards. It was all so nice and relaxing and peaceful until Mac had a total meltdown over giving up a 99-cent lightstick from Wal-Mart. I nearly died from embarrassment. I begged - to no avail; I offered to buy him 10 more lightsticks as soon as our plane touched down next week - to no avail; and finally I threatened. I set my watch to beep in 2 minutes (he'd been crying and sulking in the bedroom for at least 30 minutes by then) and told him if he did not come out when that timer went off, we were getting in a taxi and going back to Sao Paulo and he would regret that decision. Thankfully he came out and acted normal because I'm not totally sure where the nearest taxi stand was. And wouldn't you know- after turning in an Oscar-worthy performance for Most Dramatic Hissy Fit - he gave his friend the stupid lightstick in the car coming home?

3. After not checking email for 2 days, I came home last night to a terrible email from our real estate agent. The inspection was done on our house, and the potential buyers used some crazy inspection person who hyper-inflated the costs for the repairs in the house. For instance, it's very likely that the house will soon need a new boiler (but we were told 6 years ago that the house needed a new boiler and it's still functioning very well). I've never even seen a home inspection where the inspector listed "guesstimate" prices, but this guy did and he said it could cost them $13,000 for a new boiler. I called our plumbing company today to get an estimate and it's a max of $6000. There's a laundry list of repairs as is expected in a 103 year-old house, but when you jack up the repair prices so much, the buyers are understandably freaked out. They've now offered a ridiculously low price that would allow them to cover some of the repairs, but we will not accept that. We're waiting for our real estate agent's contractor to finalize some numbers and then we'll make our counter to their reduced offer. But I told the real estate agent today to get ready to list it to rent. We're in a position where we can make the mortgage payments without giving the house away.

So I was pretty bummed out about this news because we had definitely counted that chicken before it hatched, and then....

4. I was just cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and noticed that a letter had been slipped under the back door. And guess what this letter was??? It's our "Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition" from the US Department of Homeland Security office in Lima, Peru (this stems from my Rio trip on April 2). WOO-HOO!! This is a huge, huge, huge hurdle and I cried when I realized what it was and that they didn't deny us or request more information.

We have to sit tight a little longer before we submit the dossier which is all ready to go and just hanging out with Jimmy now. This portion of the adoption process is the big money portion. And we thought we had the money all figured out, but timing of expected incoming funds hasn't worked in our favor to date. But I know it's going to work in our favor soon and we'll be that much closer to bringing home our son.