Underground Railroad

  • Si une grosse catastrophe allait arriver et que vous ne pouviez garder que cinq objets, quels seraient-ils ?

voiture, vélo (x5), chaussures (x5) , passport (x5), Kindle (ça c’est le mien, les autres démerdez-vous pour porter vos propres bouquins) 😉

  • Quels sont les compliments que vous avez reçus qui vous ont le plus touché(e)?

En général, je n’aime pas trop les phrases motivationelles que l’on peut acheter dans les supermarchés, mais un jour une élève de musique m’a offert une plaque avec écrit: “Teachers live forever in the hearts they touch”… et ça m’a touchée. En fait si on me dit que je suis belle ou intelligente ou que j’ai une belle voix, ça fait plaisir mais je m’en fout un peu. Par contre quand on me dit que ce que j’ai fait ou enseigné a fait une différence (pour le mieux) dans la vie d’une autre personne, là oui je me sens valorisée.

  • De quoi avez-vous le plus peur?

De perdre mon mari ou mes enfants. (Je n’ose même pas penser aux possibilités de catastrophes parce que mon imagination n’a pas de limites et ça me donne des attaques de paniques).

  • Quelle est votre plus grande source de stress?

(Éh bé, c’est pas rigolo ces questions!)

Mes parents me stressent. Nos conversations sur Skype sont toxiques.

Dernièrement ma mère était stressée à cause de son déménagement qui n’arrive pas, et quand j’ai voulu la rassurer pour lui remonter le moral, elle n’était pas contente que je ne sois pas aussi malheureuse qu’elle et elle s’est mise à me reprocher tous mes choix de vie… J’ai fini par lui racrocher au nez ! Silence radio pendant 3 semaines.

Et ils s’étonnent encore que nous ne voulons pas aller vivre en France… Heureusement qu’ils habitent sur un autre continent, ça limite les dégats.

  • S’il fallait que vous ne mangiez qu’une seule chose pendant un mois, que choisiriez-vous?

Du yogourt à la vanille.

(J’allais dire “oeuf dûr” parce qu’en soi c’est un aliment assez nutritif, et en plus c’est pratique ça se conserve longtemps, mais bon c’est quand même un peu difficile à avaler à sec comme ça un oeuf dûr tout seul sans rien d’autre pendant 1 mois…)

  • Quel est le plus bel endroit où vous soyez allé?

De ma mémoire d’enfance : Els Encantats. Parc national dans les pyrénées espagnoles. Grand soleil, air pur d’altitude, aucun bruit, seuls les cloches des moutons et le gargouillis des ruisseaux.

De ma mémoire de maman : Ubatuba. Notre unique journée à la plage, en famille, dans les cinq ans où nous avons vécus au Brésil…

  • Qu’est-ce que vous avez fait de sympa ce weekend?

Dimanche après l’église, nous avons été invités au restaurant par de nouveaux amis, canadiens d’origines variées (comme tous les canadiens) (dont un couple de finlandais ! — ça c’est moins courant, mais apparement il y a une communauté finlandaise dans la région). Nous avons eu des conversations intéressantes et les enfants ne nous ont pas trop interrompus ! J’ai été surprise d’apprendre que la petite ville et sa région (que nous visitons 2 fois par mois) faisait partie de l’Underground Railroad au 18e siècle… Je ne savais pas que le réseau des abolitionistes était monté jusqu’au Canada. J’ai aussi prit note de quelques suggestions de romans historiques à ce sujet.


Encore merci, à Dr. Caso pour ces questions indiscrètes ! 😉


Tales of family, ice and winter

Yesterday, third Monday in February, was Family Day here in Ontario (a debatable statutory holiday across Canada, not national, some provinces have it, others don’t). Kids were off school and should have some winter fun with their parents… So, since it had conveniently snowed all Sunday afternoon, I planned to go sledding down the snowy hill of the park nearby on Monday afternoon. Kids tobogganing, us parents watching. The sky was a little gray, but otherwise perfect weather. Around -5°C or -10°C, not too cold.

The kids were out of the car in a flash, they had picked up they sleds and were on their way to the hill (in front of us) before we had time to close the doors of the van. As I was slowly following them and adjusting my gloves at the same time, I slipped and fell on the ice ! I fell on my whole back and did not hurt myself. D was laughing because it happened so fast. He was still locking the car behind me, and had just had the time to see me on the ground. We ended up laughing together as we walked toward the boys who were not up the hill, but still down by the (semi-frozen) pond…

What was going on?! What were they doing there!? Haven’t we said enough times NOT to walk on the frozen ice???!!! Sure enough, Uriel was drenched in putrid cold water and crying because it was very cold ! Being the youngest and skinniest of my boys, I thought immediately about hypothermia. So I told hubby to stay with the twins while I go back home with Uriel and have him shower and change his clothes.

So far so good.

We arrive to the house. I get off the car, and as I walk towards home, I slip on the ice (again), hear a “crack” (Is it the ice? Is it a bone?), feel my ankle twist in the wrong direction, and this time it hurts like hell !!! Shit, this is bad. This day is going from bad to worse.

I somehow managed, very slowly, to breath deep, while trying (and failing) not to cry too much of pain, go up the few steps to the front entrance of the house (very bad idea these steps in front of the house, but they were not at fault this time), open the door, and give instructions to Uriel. Take off your wet stinky clothes. Go take a shower. Can you find me the bottle of Ibuprofen? The big white one with a blue label. Thank God, you know how to climb on the toilet bowl. (The medicine cabinet is high above the toilet bowl which is supposed to be too high for the kids… But hey, I won’t complain, since I wasn’t able to climb up the stairs myself).

After a few minutes debating what to do next (Should I try driving like this ? Should I call our friends and ask them for a big favor : go pick up D and the kids at the park ?). I ended up driving back to the park. I have never been so thankful for automatic transmission: accelerating was feasible with my right foot, but the brake pedal was harder, so I tried to brake with the left foot but it was a bit abrupt. I lack practice (ha ha).

In the end, we made it. We gathered the rest of the family and came back home. My ankle is only sprained, nothing broken (it has happened to me a lot). The noise I heard must have been the ice braking.

The most annoying thing is not being able to move around the house or getting out of the house. I won’t be able to go grocery shopping or walking the kids to the bus stop (D is taking care of that until I get better). I am missing my aquatic class too ! Aaah, so frustrating !

I’m starting to agree with D that houses with only one single level are great.

Noise levels

The noise level here in Canada is nothing compared to what we had to endure in Brazil : the constant barking from the neighbors dogs every time someone walks by in front of their house, the noisy motorcycles, the vendors announcing loudly what they’re selling by yelling or playing their jingles on loudspeakers from their bike, car trunk, or pickup truck (eggs, cheese, bread, sweets, or gas canisters — they all came around at least once a week if not everyday) and, of course, the neighbors who honk the horn when they leave (to say bye?) and when they arrive home (to have someone open the gate for them). Those were the daily, constant, background noises. There were also the occasional days when a neighbor decided to a party and every one else, many streets over, had to enjoy whichever loud music was being blasted through (again) loudspeakers, for as long as the party was going. Brazilians are just loud people. All the time. I don’t think I ever got used to it.

During our last year in Brazil, we were living in a dead end street in a relatively quiet neighborhood. But even so, in contrast, when we arrived in Canada, here in the house were we currently live, which is not in a dead end street, it was shockingly quiet.

And yet, when I started recording, I became aware of the many noises that I would unconsciously tune out: the train that blows his many whistles at the railway crossing some streets away on one side, the ships that blow their whistles too when they pass by the river (as they pass under the bridge, I think) on the other side, the neighbor that mows his lawn during summer, the occasional airplane, etc. The house makes many sounds inside too: the fridge, the water pipes, the heating system, even my laptop fan makes a small humming sound!

So I had to find the quietest room in the house, which was surprisingly not upstairs where the bedrooms are, because I could hear too much noise from the streets (cars passing by), even with closed windows, but downstairs in the basement… Yes, the dungeon of the house. Small windows, very little light : not necessarily the most agreeable room, but indeed the quietest.

Besides, as I would learn soon enough, producing an audio book is : 10% of the time recording and 90% of the time editing. I absolutely need to have the best recording booth possible (which should ideally stay in the same condition during the duration of the whole project), but once I have the raw recording, I can bring my laptop/headphones/mouse upstairs with me and do the editing wherever I want in the house.

I don’t know why I can wax lyrical so much about something so… ugly? ordinary? boring? Maybe because to me, even if I had to set it up in the basement where it’s cold during winter and humid in the summer, my recording studio is functional, extra-ordinary, and far from boring (the job I get done with it is not boring to me anyway).


The desk with the bright light (it’s my light therapy lamp — I had to lessen the intensity for the picture) and the microphone is where I record. The surrounding soundproofing is done with moving blankets. The structure holding them are 3 clothes racks (1 at the back  that I found for $5 on Kijiji, and 2 better ones on each side that I bought at Ikea), topped with a piece of plywood that was lying around the house and some cardboard (to prevent sagging), all topped with another layer of blanket. D was thinking of building me a real solid wooden frame, but it would have been heavier and harder to take apart when we need to move again.

I covered the table top with a small blanket too and I put a carpet on the floor to absorb as many little noises as possible.

The white desk is where I usually put my laptop, a bit further away from the microphone to avoid picking up the hum of the fan (very small noise, but the less sounds I need to edit, the better).

Bullet Point Week

  • The aquatic “river walking” class started out very easy: walk 3 loops with the current. The instructor informed me that I would be the youngest in the group, but reassured me that he would adapt the class to my needs. I looked around me in the water and saw that there were indeed older ladies ahead of me. The class description in the booklet said “medium to high intensity”, oh really!? It does not look that way to me. What did I get myself into?
  • When I was done with the warm up, the instructor told me to walk 3 loops against the current… Ah. Ok. Now we are talking!
  • One hour of this (and variations) was painful, but oh so fun. (One more reason I love the water: I don’t want to know how much I sweat!)
  • The boys were supposed to start their new swimming session today, but the first lesson was canceled “because of technical difficulties”. Whatever that means.
  • The twins were invited to a playdate at their friends house this afternoon (twins too), but the mom called me this morning to cancel because one of the boys woke up with fever. Better telling us now, than having the whole family sick for a week. Thank you, fellow twin mama.
  • There are 3 sets of twins in the twins’ classroom. Two girls, and two sets of two boys.
  • I took advantage of some down time between two projects to rearrange my recording studio this week. I’m loving it so far. (It’s the kind of thing that I can’t be doing during a project because so many little things change the quality of recording).
  • My computer mouse died two days ago. It was a small and simple, wired black thing, but I liked it. It wouldn’t click anymore.  D says in his many years of repairing computers he’s never seen that before. So I ordered a new one (white, rechargeable, wireless). I am using a big black hamster until the cyborg arrives.
  • We’ve had a little bit of snow this week, but so far this winter has been more gray than white. Not fun.

Halloween and the aftermath

The kids were very exited for Halloween. Last year we arrived in Canada a few weeks after the festivities, so this time around we couldn’t NOT participate…

A couple of weeks before, they had all been invited to a birthday party that was Halloween themed. They had to go with costumes so I bought a superheroes kit on Amazon (capes and masks), from which they chose whatever they wanted to be for a few hours. I figured they would at least have double duties of these props!

We didn’t decorate, and I didn’t plan to give candies out, because I was planning to accompany the kids around the neighborhood. That was my plan.

On Tuesday afternoon, I felt some tingling down my throat.

Wednesday morning I was totally out of commission. Sore muscles and fatigue all over the body. No more voice. (Aaah! I can’t work! I’m freaking out!)

So the kids went out trick-or-treating around the neighborhood with their dad. Our street had very little participation (only one or two houses). The neighbor across the street was all decorated, but no one was there to give out candies on All Saints’ Eve! Weird.  But my boys walked a little further and were very happy when they came back with bags overflowing with chocolates, candies and chips. “Next year, we’ll need bigger bags!”, they informed me. They didn’t eat very healthy for the following days and there were a few tummy aches to fight.

This week-end, Elias was sick with the flu.

Monday, Elias and Uriel are both sick, not going to school.

Today Uriel is still sick and home. What a sad way to spend one’s birthday… Happy birthday, stinker. ♥

Have a little walk with me

The weather is getting cooler here. Days are sadly getting shorter too.

Something else I miss about Brazil: one could pretty much expect to have 12 hours of daylight every day, year round. Nowadays it’s still night at 7:20 am, when I am waiting for the school bus with the kids, and we haven’t even changed to winter time yet! It’s getting increasingly hard to resist the urge to go directly back home, crank up the heating, hide in the basement, with a warm blanket on my lap (or the cat), and pretend to be working very hard on my current audio book project.

You see, I am actually working very hard on an audio book project, so for a couple of days last week, I gave up on my daily exercise and stayed indoors… Not surprisingly, I soon started to feel very depressed, my lower back started complaining, the one very small varicose vein behind my right leg started to hurt too (there is a history of serious varicose veins for all the women in my family except me, but I get panicky as soon as I feel a change in that one small vein behind my right leg), and to top it all, I was not as productive as I would have wanted!!!

So, what did I learn?

  1. I cannot give up on my daily physical exercise routine. “Fit mind, fit body”, they say, right?
  2. Also, I need to buy a light therapy lamp to survive the winter.

I was so mad at my stupidity that Monday morning, after seeing the kiddos off to school, I walked pass the railway tracks, and walked pass the baseball fields, and walked up the hill, and was rewarded (thank you, dear Lord in Heaven!) by this, this, and that:


Isn’t it lovely?

Tuesday morning, I walked on the other direction, pass the bridge, along Riverside towards downtown.


Today I walked as light as a feather without my camera. 🙂

The magic school bus

Our first concern when we arrived in Canada in November was to enroll the kids to school as soon as possible. While the school year in Brazil is from February to December, the following school year which is from September to June had already started here! The twins were only finishing their first year of primary school in Brazil, but they had missed the first months of their second year (Gr.2) here in Canada! And Uriel had missed his first months of primary school (Gr.1)… I was afraid that their reading skills would be behind from the rest of their peers.

Another concern was the language. They had started to read and write in Portuguese and had  adjusted rather well to the Portuguese language. I was completing their education with some French lessons at home and French is also the language we speak at home. However, they’d had little to no contact with the English language before coming here. What would happen now?

In Southern Ontario we discovered that there are four publicly funded school boards, English public, English catholic, French public and French Catholic. Free education of good quality (and free school buses!) was after all one of the main reason we came back. I’m loving it! 🙂

The choice was hard for us. On the most practical side, there is an English public school two blocks from our house. The other option was to send them to a French catholic school a little further away, but with free school bus service. Should we drop them in the English language and see what happens (we know how kids learn fast, right?), or ease the transition and look into a French school (their oral skills are obviously good, but the writing and reading in French in not as… intuitive).

We ended up deciding to send them to a French school for now. The idea is that they will hopefully learn to read and write the harder language first, be exposed to the French Canadian accent (which is not a bad thing in my opinion — they are French and Canadian after all!), then pick up English along the way (most of the kids in school speak English at home and behind the teacher’s back!).

Another fun fact: taking the yellow bus to school is a (very exciting) daily adventure! Their first thought was probably that they would step into the fantastic world of one of their favorite series. In truth, the ride that would take only 10 minutes if I would drive them directly to school takes them around 30 to 40 minutes… (not that they have anything else to do anyway, ha ha)

Magic school bus