Papi et abuela

The car we use at the moment is not ours. A friend from church as lend it to us for as long as we need until we can afford something, or an arrangement has been found by the church. Usually the Lutheran churches (from our domination) (in Brazil), own a car to be used by the pastor, and a house for his family. But not the church here. They are renting the house where we live now, and don’t know what to do about the matter of the car. So, meanwhile, we use this car, an old car, which is ok for small errands in town, but we don’t feel super safe in it to go on long trips.

So when papi and abuela (my dad and mom) arrived on my birthday (Dec. 28th), I had a driver pick me up to go welcome them at the Guarulhos airport and drop them off at the hotel where they are staying (our house is only big enough for our family of five). I felt like a very important person, with my very own chauffeur in a big black car! 😉

My dad arrived from France (via Portugal) and my mom from Argentina with only one hour difference between the flights. That was rather well planed. It gave us the time to hug, chat and walk across the terminals. I had not seen my dad since last time he visited us in Canada. The twins were toddlers and my youngest only a baby. Five years ago. My mom, of course, I had just seen in August, for my grandmother’s funeral. But as for both my mom and dad together it had not happened since before I was married. Fifteen years ago?! Yeah, all these numbers give me a headache too. Let’s just say that I’m happy to see them, and glad that the kids finally get to meet their grandparents in person.

Sadly, the weather has not cooperated. We’ve had rain, after rain, and more rain after that. The locals tell me that summer storms are normal in this season, generally at the end of the day, but so much rain every day, morning day and night, is uncharacteristic. To me it is very much like the rainy seasons we had in Rondônia. A pain to hang dry the clothes.

The first few days were leisurely spent at the hotel  the side of the pool from the hotel. The boys had never been in a real pool before. So many things that I thought would be a given when coming to live in a tropical have simply not happened where we used to live!

The days are exhausting. We all want to enjoy the precious time as much as possible, so they come pick us up (the kids and I — D is not on vacation) late morning before lunch and we come back after supper around 9PM (everyday except Sunday — to my great chagrin my parents don’t go to church). After the first day with the boys, my parents both looked at me in wonder asking how do I do it. Ha! Well, when at home I don’t usually spend all my waking hours playing with them. Just looking at them play is exhausting! Especially Natanael who has so much energy he could climb the walls! No joke, I’m seriously thinking of finding a rock climbing club for him.

Thankfully, once the kids were familiar with their grandparents, I let them spend days together without me. When my body gets very tired doing unscheduled activities, I tend to sprain my ankle. Last time it happened was years ago, so that’s not really a regular thing, but it happened TWICE in the last weeks. No big deal. Just a sign for me to slow down.

In the mean time, I sent my resume to all the language schools in our neighborhood. When I didn’t receive any feedback (they were probably closed on vacation), I also sent it to the one school that is right around the corner from the hotel (farther from home). Luckily, it just happened that they were looking for a French teacher! It’s a big franchise of language schools in Brazil of which they have three branches here in SJC. So I will be teaching two classes in the school close to the hotel and one class here, closer from home. It’s not much, only six hours per week, but it’s a start. They know that I’m willing to teach English too, so we’ll see. The pay is not the greatest either, but it will make a notable difference in our family’s budget. Plus, hopefully, it will be an interesting job to get out of the house for.

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Mi lernas esperanton

Most of my days are punctuated as follow: wake up time, school drop-off and pick-up times (during school year – it’s summer vacation now), lunch (noon), goûter (the kids’ afternoon snack, usually around 4PM), supper (7PM), and the kids’ bedtime (around 8:30PM). At which point, I exhale loudly and announce that my shift is over! haha. As you can see, I am at the service of my children, hubby being quite self sufficient. Thank you, darling. Around these landmarks of my days, I sometimes manage to do some cleaning around the house, I cook and bake when I feel inspired, and these days I do a lot of gardening (there is a small piece of dirt at the back of the house which I dream of transforming into a piece of tropical paradise)… But, I have found that I feel the most satisfied the days that I manage to spend  time on my personal projects:

Practice my languages. I have started using Duolingo daily to refresh or improve some of my Portuguese, German, Spanish, Italian or, lately… learn Esperanto (!). Yes, I know, there must be something wrong with me. Despite being the most popular constructed language in the world, it only counts one or two thousand native speakers, and maybe 2 million learners of the language worldwide. When am I ever going to use that??? But I suppose I am indeed addicted to learning languages!

Practice the piano. When we were living in Rondônia and Goiás, D had to lead most services without any sort of musical support. Our voices are strong, but singing a capella gets tiring very quickly, especially if the congregation cannot hold a note. Unfortunately I had not practiced the piano in years, so I have slowly started to train again, to be able to accompany the liturgy someday when needed. In our new church, we are very lucky to have a couple of good musicians. That’s great, but I still want to be able to help. Plus, music is therapeutic. I always feel happy after a good practice session! 🙂

Do some physical exercise. I rotate between 30-40min of aerobics/dancing, or 30-40min of elliptical, biking around the neighborhood, and/or walking back and forth to school or to one of the parks with the kids.

Getting ahead on some sewing or crochet project. I have been planing on opening my own little Etsy shop for some time (like every crafter out there, it seems), maybe I will finally get to it soon.

When I do manage to fit two or three of these things in my day, I feel like I won the jackpot; I am in a better mood and I sleep better!

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Vale do Paraíba

(Uriel turned five! He had a party with his grandparents, uncle and tía — it feels so good to be surrounded by family!)

Now reporting live (meaning once in a while, really) from SJC, state of São Paulo, Brazil.

We have  officially moved more than one month ago already, and a lot has happened. It has been a whirlwind of packing (boxes & luggages), cleaning before and after, traveling, unpacking, school registration, vaccinations, transferring bank account, changing addresses, etc… I am only barely starting to catch my breath.  It was the second time in one year, and though all moves, big or small, are exhausting, this one was in a category of its own.

The house where we are now has been rented for three years. That is a relief in itself, because at least we know that we will stay here, in the same house, for the next three years. One very unsettling aspect of our lives so far had been NOT KNOWING for how long we would stay somewhere: a few months or a few years? We didn’t know. We couldn’t get too comfortable.

Another big relief has simply been to get things done that had been dragging for so long because we have been living in remote locations.

Examples:

The oven light bulb had fried when we were in Rondônia and I had not been able to find a replacement. I haven’t been able to look at my baking for MORE THAN ONE YEAR. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal, I know, but still I like to have things in working order around the house. Here, I walked down the street to a small electronics shop and found what I was looking for in mere minutes. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been! In SJA (Goiás), I had to go through all the small stores of the small town for every single stupid little thing that I needed, and sometimes I wouldn’t even find it. It was exhausting.

The same miracle (?) happened with our fridge. We had bought a brand new big fridge in Rondônia that had stopped working after only 2 years . We suppose that because of the many power cuts, uneven current, and the constant heat and humidity, some electrical circuit had fried. In SJA, we called a repair guy who charged us for the visit, told us that he needed to order the defecting piece, but never showed up again. In the mean time we just used that big piece of appliance for storage… (Again, no big deal, but hey, I don’t like to live like that). Here a repair guy didn’t charge us for the visit and came back a week later with the replacement piece. And voilà! The fridge is working!

Oh, oh. And there is more!

There is a cyclovía (a BIKE PATH!!!) in our neighborhood, a real bike path, just for bikes, right in the middle of the main avenue!!!! (There is another one too, but I don’t use it as much). Did I tell you I like to bike? I love my bicycle. Unfortunately, even if (mostly poor) people use that mean of transportation all around Brazil, a lot of small towns are not paved and touring the countryside is far from pleasant on dirt roads with random speeding vehicles trying to murder you. But here, I first took my bicycle for a spin when we had just moved in. I went from my house to my in-laws taking the bike path and I couldn’t — gah — I was so00 happy! I felt exhilarated, a bit on the crazy-happy way. I wanted to smile, laugh, sing! Oh, bliss!

There is more, yes, yes, much more to tell you, but it will be for another day.

Até mais! (See you later!)