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Category Archives: O jeito Brasileiro

Go Corinthianos

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Or actually shut the #$#@ up! Seriously, please, I’ve got kids ūüėČ ¬†Yesterday was the 4th of July, not really meaningful here in beautiful Sao Paulo. But it kind of felt like it last night, fireworks till midnight… thank you again Corinthianos.

Had I been in the US, we’d have been grilling hot dogs (they don’t grill hot dogs here, just sausages, hot dog grilling seems weird to them) and hamburgers, and eating potato salad. ¬†Interestingly it’s been blue skies and sun the last few days here. ¬†Plus the kids are all out of school, so they’ve been having water fights at our apartment complex (using the shower for the soccer court as a “pool”); it really feels like a US Summer. ¬†It’s like Brasil is trying to woo me back. ¬†And of course to top it all off last night was the BIG WIN¬†for the Libertadores Cup (South American soccer cup).

Yes soccer fans ¬†the Sao Paulo Corinthians came out on top (their first win ever). ¬†I don’t even have to turn on the TV to know when a goal is scored (don’t worry it’s on, my husband wouldn’t have it any other way), the ENTIRE neighborhood explodes. ¬†For the record we’re not Corinthian fans, but it’s still nice to know that Brasil won the cup. ¬†When the Corinthians finally won, the horns, and screaming, and fireworks went off for at least an hour. ¬†It was an all out party last night, I was afraid my two year old would wake up. ¬†I literally had to sleep with the 3 month old on my chest, as he kept getting startled by the noise and fussing. ¬†It was THAT loud. ¬†But what else would you expect from Brasilians who know how to celebrate, and well the Corinthian fans do have a reputation, somewhat akin to Raider fans.


What’s the gossip??

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So the other day the building maid called our apartment asking for our baba.  When she came back upstairs she let me know that there was some VERY scandalous gossip going on in our building.. . a potential assault, and the night guard was going to be fired for it.

Norman Rockwell

The night guard it turns out tried to kiss our nanny one night, and grabbed her arm . ¬†When trying to escape he ripped her shirt…. of course she remembers none of this. ¬†I was amazed, how had something this¬†scandalous¬†come about, and why would my nanny be mentioned??

What really happened is she started her own little gossip chain.

Back in ¬†the beginning of May, she was out walking and ignoring our Zelador who was calling her name. ¬†So he grabbed her arm (some what roughly according to her). ¬†She was so incensed that he would even touch her (she is prone to being dramatic), especially since she has a boyfriend. etc.. etc.. she complained to an empregada of the apartment of a friend of my son . ¬†The empregada has a mother who also works in our building, and of course she shared the story with her mother. ¬†From there I’m not sure, but a driver of another family heard it, and took it upon himself to tell the head of the building association’s president.

We of course just laughed at our nanny, and reminded her that she started the whole chain in motion. ¬†Brazilians love their novelas, and it seems the staff in our building have lots of free time on their hands ūüėČ

Don’t worry we made her clear it all up; no jobs lost.

Our Rio Trip– or lessons learned

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Last weekend we decided last minute to head to Rio. ¬†Since we have kids, we thought we’d break up the drive and sleep in Paraty for the night. ¬†We stayed at the Pousada Eclipse in Paraty, which is farthest from the town, and right off the freeway. ¬†With free wi-fi, 2 beds, and a clean room for R$160 a night, I was fine with having to park in town. ¬†So no photos of this VERY VERY beautiful city, as we basically drove in and thought we’d grab lunch… so I left the camera in the car. ¬†Then we started to walk, as we didn’t realize that half the town is foot access/ cobble stone only. Of course this meant I had to stop and by Haviannas, as I was wearing heels, and you can’t walk these streets in anything but flats.

From Wikipedia– since I left the freaking camera in the car

Paraty is a MUST MUST MUST. ¬†The streets are quaint, and all the restaurants looked great. ¬†They have little cultural events all the time, as they need something to attract people. ¬†When we were there it was a big dance showcase. ¬†We didn’t go in, but in the jeito of Brasil, we passed off our squirmy 2 year old to the waiter (we ate at 7 so no one was in the restaurant), and he took him into the show across the street since he had access to it. ¬†SOO wrong right? I would never do that in the US, but this is Brasil. ¬†For R$30 we went on a buggy ride of the city, I recommend it, as you get a real quick look at all the shops etc, and then can decided where you want to go, versus walking the whole thing. ¬†And you hear a bit of the history. ¬†If we had actually planned to stay in Paraty, I would have loved to go on one of the many day trips on a boat, or taken a class at the cooking school they have there (classes in English too). ¬†Paraty is known for the art/culture, and there were some unique shops and art galleries. ¬†Alas, we were only “resting” here, and didn’t do much other than look and kick ourselves for not visiting sooner.

Sooo Rio… I have to say, it was nice to be somewhere warm instead of cold like Sao Paulo is right now.

taken prior to the “accident”

My initial observations on Rio, are the following:

  1. Architecture in Rio is older and more ornate, there are a lot more buildings and churches here to enjoy
  2. The graffiti style in Rio is different- first there is more art graffiti, second the tagging is more curvy than the spiky styles of Sao Paulo
  3. The beach fairs they have at night, probably have the best touristy chotchky crap I’ve seen yet, I actually wanted to buy a lot of it

So lessons learned on this trip:

  1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check the camera battery before leaving the hotel room to Pao de Acucar– hubby pointed out each and every “photo moment” that I missed
  2. Check the weather at Corcovado before you go.  It seemed sunny until we got to the top
  3. Carry and extra shirt, and bring a second baby carrier- just in case you’re on top of a big mountain and your kid decides to kill both the Moby and your shirt.
  4. Set up a baby changing area on the counter in the bathroom, before you go to bed, so that when your kid poops at 4am, you don’t wake up the 2 year old too.
  5. Bring a point and shoot camera, not just your fancy Cannon, as your husband will¬†expressly¬†forbid it to be taken to just walk around Rio with. It’s the shark rule- it’s okay to swim in shark infested waters if everyone else is a target too (major tourist areas– not the beach)

We stayed at the Windsor Palace for R$360 for a King + twin. ¬†It was a great deal for Rio, and the room and hotel was clean and 2 blocks from the beach. ¬†They recommended a Churrascuria in Copacabana called the Palace for dinner. ¬†I think it’s the first one I’ve gone to that I really really liked. ¬†Again a list.

  1. The meat was delicious, AND varied, they had shrimp, squid, bbq pork ribs, and the best picanha I’ve had (better than Fogo de Chao)
  2. The appetizers on the table were good- garlic fried shrimp, onion rings, farofa
  3. There was a sushi bar, where you could order any roll you wanted or just slices of sashimi– and it was a welcome break from the usual meat fest
  4. The salad bar had a hot bar- paella, grilled salmon, pasta — again a nice change from just red meat
  5. For all of that the price was only R$70

The 2 year old was of course free, but he pounded down food like I’ve never seen him do before, he thought it was all delicious too. ¬†He also polished off an entire cup of watermelon juice (which is just weird to type in English. ¬†Suco de Melancia just seems right).

All in all, Rio was lovely, warm and I enjoyed our quick drop in, and right now as I snuggle my 2 month old to steal his body heat as Sao Paulo is cold as usual, I miss the sunny beaches.

Police Jeito

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So this weekend we headed off to Maresias. There was a 40% chance of thunderstorms, but weather prediction in Brazil is pretty fickle… as you can see from this lovely photo.

As we pulled out of Sao Paulo city, my husband mentions he forgot to grab his passport, and how he’s essentially driving illegally. I was confused as he’s never brought this up before. So he explains, that a cop could pull us over randomly (um ok paranoid much hon?) and we’ve been here long enough that he should have got a Brasilian license. With the passport he could weave a story about how he just got here (since he was recently in the US). Then I start thinking about how in Brasil you have to have some kind of documentation to travel with your kid, to show that they’re not kidnapped. Then I realized this is just crazy think that we’d get pulled over, and went back to sleep for the long drive.

That was until my husband was waived off to the side by a cop? WTF?!! Yeah, at one of the roadside police stations, a cop was just standing in the middle partition of the the road and decided to wave US over. My husband immediately turned on his charm (he can seriously talk his way through any ticket), but then the cop asked him to get out of the car and step away from it. Crap right?

No this is my weasley husband here…he’s good at weasling. ¬†When he got back to the car, he let me know that the cop was enjoying the conversation about California and the tv show C.H.I.P.S. ¬†so much, that he asked my husband to step into the police station for a “cafe”… yeah okay that makes sense. My wife and children are sitting in a tiny hatchback in the “pull off area” on the side of a small freeway, and we’re going to go inside and drink some coffee and talk about C.H.I.P.S. ¬†He actually had to explain to the cop why he couldn’t.. the fact that we were clearly on our way somewhere before we were waived over seemed to slip through the logic that was being used.

Otherwise, Maresias was as lovely as ever. I did get eaten alive by these tiny vampire mosquitos. ¬†You can see the little bits of blood they left all over my ankle. ¬†It actually hurts to walk on my right foot due to the sheer numbers of bites.. and that’s just my right ankle (9 on just the right side of my right ankle).

Being Brasilian– finally

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So I often joke my husband is Brasilian…he’s not he’s just really embraced some of the cultural things. ¬†If our nanny (we don’t call her a baba as well my son calls his bottles babas so it would get rather confusing), is home for any reason she’s on the job in his mind. ¬†Yeah so what, it’s a holiday, or a Saturday or what have you. ¬†If she is here, he’s more than happy to hand off any and all work to her… in fact I worry what will happen when one day we are back in the US.

But I digress, one area that he is not Brasilian in is his cheapness when it comes to the baby. ¬†My husband’s a finance guy, so this isn’t new news to me. ¬†In fact, one of the first phrases I learned in¬†Portuguese¬†was “m√£o de vaca” ¬†or in English, basically someone who is so tight fisted, their hand is really a hoof. ¬†So when I posted about Brasilian baby traditions, like lembrancinhas and door signs, he said,

Let’s just write the kids name on a sheet of paper and slap it on the door. ¬†And just don’t tell anyone we are at the hospital, then we won’t need lembrancinhas!

His co-workers (male of course), all agree with him (finance guys of course). ¬†You think I exaggerate slightly on the hospital visitors thing, but the other day our nanny came home and said that one of my son’s park-playmate’s mothers indicated that she wants to meet me, and what better time than to visit me once the baby is born. ¬†Yes, the first time I may or may not meet this women is right after giving birth!

So since my son decided that he didn’t want to come out on Wednesday (seriously it’s been a week now!), I decided that I needed to¬†thoroughly¬†nest, maybe that would make him realize it was time to say hi to everyone. ¬†And that’s basically involved me putting together a door sign and a bunch of little lembracinhas… just in case.

For the record I am VERY VERY not crafty…. so I’m quite proud of the fact that I hand made something. ¬†Oh and for all of you non Brasilians, no we are not naming our kid Muleke… my husband just really wants to have that up on the door– the name part is interchangeable.

Anyway, I’m off to part two of nesting, ¬†continuing to spray down the load of whites with WD-40. ¬†Yes, my son as a pre-pregnancy gift decided to drop in a blue crayon, and everything is covered in tiny blue specs…

Customs for Pregnant folk- Brazil style

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So on these hospital visits I found two things. ¬†The first was noticeable that every door of the hospital rooms had a wooded or cloth plaque/decoration with the babies name on it. ¬†In Brasil, people know what their child is to be called, WAY before they’re born. ¬†In fact, most people find it odd that I don’t have a name for my son yet. ¬†We’ve just been telling our nanny to refer to him as “Lief” although that is DEFINITELY not the name we’ll use, we just find it funny.

These door signs are intended to be brought home and used for the baby’s room as well, so thus why they’re a bit more permanent. ¬†Of course my husband thinks that having something on our door is absolutely ridiculous. For a few reasons. ¬†One our kid doesn’t have a nursery yet, as he’s sharing our bedroom until we move. Two, it’s not like we’re gonna have a whole bunch of people visiting us at the hospital, since we’re a bunch of anti-social folk ūüėČ and we’re not Brasilian.

The other hospital tradition I learned about was¬†lembrancinhas. ¬†While waiting for the valet, my son tried to dive off the back of the sofa. ¬†A nice lady and her daughter helped me out as I’m pregnant, and people in Brasil help prego folk out when their kid’s being a bit of a rascal and your husband is grabbing the car. ¬†In fact, the little girl reached into her mom’s bag and pulled out a little cupcake with a fondant baby on top, and a chocolate ganache cupcake on the bottom. ¬†Interestingly my son immediately knew it was a treat, opened it up and¬†devoured¬†the fondant baby head (creepy I know). This cupcake was a¬†lembrancinha that the family hands out to the visitors. ¬†In the US, you usually have little gifts for the nurses and such at the hospital, but not normally things that get handed out to all guests that visit. ¬†Again, luckily we’re not Brasilian, so I doubt many folks will be visiting us anyway…but I guess I’d better get started!


So I’m crazy (about natural births)

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But mostly I’m crazy in the eyes of most doctors in Brazil. ¬†Since my husband is ever so sympathetic (sarcasm), I thought a Doula would be wonderful. ¬†She could help inform me about what positions I should move into so I can help the birth move along, massage in the right spots, and generally keep things happy and moving a long. BIG Doula fan here <<——


So I went through the list of Doula’s in Sao Paulo, and emailed them in Portuguese in English searching for an English speaking Doula, and¬†found two. ¬†Raquel Olivia and Cris Toledano. ¬†I also found GAMA and Ana Cristina a midwife (who from readings seems to be the other English speaking popular expat midwife in Sao Paulo other than Marcia from Prima Luz). ¬†They told me that I needed my doctor’s approval… um okay that’s kind of weird… this is my birth, I can have whomever I want right?! ha, this is Brazil everything is mandated by some obscure law. ¬†In fact in 2006 they passed a law saying hospitals had to allow a woman the right to have someone with her. Random right? ¬†Albert Einstein in fact allows Doulas up until the birth part, and then they cannot participate.

So I had a list for my doctor on what she would let me do about natural (when I say natural she hears vaginal I’m sure). ¬†I generally got the impression from the answers that my doctor has one idea in the back of her mind, and is totally happy telling me everything she thinks I want to hear… my husband says I’m a crazy hormonal, paranoid pregnant woman…. maybe, we will see.

Here are my questions:

  1. Can I have a Doula? I only work with Midwives (that’s the Brazilian way of making it hard on me, and the short answer is no). ¬†Marcia Koifmann was out of town, and Ana Cristina only delivers at Sao Luiz… So meeting my doctor’s midwives at my next appt. ¬†Good thing I have super expat insurance.
  2. How many days over can I go? 10 days over, and I have to meet with her ever 2 days
  3. If my water breaks how many hours before I have to be induced? 12 hours
  4. Do I have to stay in bed during labor? Only if i get an epidural (I think she missed the natural part)
  5. Mandatory fetal monitoring? Only after epidural, otherwise every 15
  6. Can I eat once admitted? Yes eating and drinking until you get the epidural.. again with the epidural.
  7. Enema? Nope
  8. Can I keep the baby with me after birth?  30 minutes of bonding time, and then 4 hours where neither you or the father can be with them other than looking through a glass window!
  9. What tests and procedures are done? Vitamin K, Hep B and TB, hearing, and genetic blood test
  10. What do you put in the baby’s eyes? Silver Nitrate, and regular antibiotics are not an option… for the record the US switched to antibiotics like 10 years ago…tho Sao Luiz said something about lasers???
  11. When will you show up? When you are 7cm.  Midwife when you get to the hospital.
  12. How will you bill us? We will quote you up front, then send you the bill after birth and you have 1 week to pay it all, then submit to your insurance for reimbursement
  13. What about the baby pediatrician? If you can get the neonatalagist to sign off on it and take responsibility should something happens, sure (again Brasilian no there).
  14. How long is the hospital stay? 2-3 days (google translated link here from Einstein showing a 3 day package)
  15. Does that increase with C-section? Nope- 3 days.
  16. Will you wait to clamp the cord if I want? Yes
  17. Do I have to use stirrups and lay on a surgical bed? Umm yes it’s the only way. In fact, she looked at me like I was speaking Chinese…. yes people you can deliver a baby in other positions. Like maybe I want to stand on my head or something, heck if I know what I’ll feel like, but I don’t want to be told I can’t… I’m a bit stubborn.

The reality is my husband is not into natural births. ¬†He thinks I’m a granola eating nut job. ¬†I’m actually doing hypnobabies home study right now, so we’ll see how effective that is… and yes maybe I’m a nut job. But my mom had 5 kids naturally and said it was no big deal…. so I’ve got to be able to do this.

I have to say after the above conversation I am even more invested in making sure I have this birth 100% natural. ¬†There’s now a level of stubborn pride attached to this whole birthing in Brasil adventure. ¬†Either way, I’m not meeting all of her Midwives (4 of em, 2 speak English, and one REALLY speaks English), so hopefully my paranoia will¬†dissipate. ¬†The first Midwife pointed out that all of the women in the public hospitals have babies naturally. . .

*UPDATE* I get a lot of questions from individuals on this, so I assume like me it is a hotly Googled topic. ¬†Deleting cleaning up some of my old files of baby prep in Brazil I found the following links on natural childbirth that I found useful … and hope you do it. ¬†I left in Google Translate to English for everyone’s convenience.