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Tag Archives: Expat Life

Adjusting

We are well adjusted to our new home now. Furniture arrived last week from Brasil! Woo hoo.  Only one bottle of saline solution was packed and busted in one box– so of course that kind of molded out.  All of our clothes smelled of mildew- and even after a trip to the dry cleaners, a few items still just smell off.  But we’re settled in… adjusted, maybe is too broad of a word.  Getting used to driving in the US is actually something we didn’t think we would need to adjust for– after all we had been flying back to the US and driving the whole time we were in Brazil. But I guess they were for shorter period of time and we never noticed the subtle changes Brasil had made to our abilities.

So my husband and I should not be allowed to drive at all in the US. Or we should be required to take expat driving lessons I think.  Mainly Brasil’s lack of regard for pedestrians mean that we’re not as watchful for idiots walking around anymore.  I use the term idiots, as seriously people in the US that are walking feel like they’re so safe they can walk through a parking lot or in front of a car and not even look around before stepping forward.

We are so used to pedestrians having the right of way, people take for granted their own safety.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve yelled watch out as someone stepped in front of my husband while their head was turned behind them to yell at a friend.  Who does that??  Americans that’s who.

Also, yellow lights in Brasil are A LOT longer than they are here.  In Brasil you can definitely squeek through one no problem… here well I forgot how short those suckers were.

And finally, yes I am now the idiot sitting on red waiting for the light to turn green before turning right.  So next time someone is sitting at a red trying to turn right, have a heart, maybe they’ve just come back from Brasil!

Our nanny of course just marvels at how all of these cars can turn right and left and cross paths at the crazy busy multi section intersections we have here, with free way entrances, and several inlets and outlets.  I have to say, I love that I don’t have to take these long round about paths just to turn left, I do get lost a lot less often (sort of…).

 

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Goodbye Brazil

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We flew out of Brazil for good on Friday night. That’s the end of things for us here. We’d been dreaming about the food of the US, the things we can buy, and all of our friends and family for weeks before.  My husband started perusing Costco’s website a month ago. I of course one up that behavior, shopping online so that I already had purchased items once I arrived in the US.

I took this photo awhile ago, as I knew it was the photo I wanted to use. In Hawaii when you’re done you say you are Pau! Friday end of day is Pau Hana time. In Portuguese Pau is wood, or well slang for the male anatomy. But in Hawaii it means you are done. So that we are, we are done with Brasil.

Everyone asks, “Oh what will you miss?”   And the thing is, in all honesty I don’t know if I’m going to miss anything that drastically.  The freshness  and the diversity of the fruit cannot be matched.  The convenience of bakeries and butcher shops on seemingly every corner are nice.  The bread’s delicious.  But then for me, when I weigh it against the sheer cost of living and the traffic, it kind of just washes out.  So the one true thing, I will truly miss about Brasil is Brasilianess of the people.  Brasil’s great love of children from strangers loving my kids, to preferential treatment everywhere.  Brasilians large hearts and social disposition is hard to match, and will truly be missed.

I would have said my son will miss his nanny most of all.  However, after a failed Visa interview last week, we got the good news this week.  Intensive prepping the days before we left Brasil for good, paid off.  She was approved for a Visa on Monday!  We put her through an Aupair program, so she will be able to join us in the US on the 23rd for the next year.  We’re so excited to share the US with her, and show her all the things that I always complained of missing.  She’s already in love with Big Red Gum, Oreos, and Clorox Wipes 🙂

 

Go Corinthianos

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Or actually shut the #$#@ up! Seriously, please, I’ve got kids 😉  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.

Ripping off the Electric Company

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So  we’ve been stealing electricity for the past year and a half.  When we first moved in we waited, and we waited, and we waited for the electricity bill to come, but it never did.  We rationalized, this is Brasil if we weren’t paying, they’d be certain to shut off our power immediately… someone was paying it.  Then we decided that maybe it was our landlord, part of the rent you know.

Well as we are moving out in a month, we got an email stating that our landlord would like our gas bill and electric bill for the last month, showing we were paid in full…. UH OH.. who has been paying our electric bills???

We headed down to the Electric Company (with baby in tow so we could take advantage of the preferential policy here in Brasil, bad I know) to work it out.  We were asked if we had electricity, as it turns out that they showed the electricity off since December 2010.  Yes that’s right folks, they’re sending someone out to read the meter from December 2010 (we moved in January 2011 ish).  We get to pay the amount, any guesses on what 18 months of electricity will cost us?  

We’re guessing R$7,000.

My kid turned 2

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So unlike my child’s first birthday, I actually put on a party for him. I thought about inviting the entire world, but my husband was worried about a thousand kids running around, and well I didn’t want to overwhelm my son, so we invited all of the 2 year olds he knew for a get together.  Of course, he really only hangs out with 2 year olds from our neighborhood who are Brasilian.  So ordering a pizza  and hanging out in the house wasn’t going to cut it.

In fact, at least daily my nanny informed me someone had asked the following questions:

1. What type of food will be having?  Is this a full meal or snacks?

2. Can we just drop off our kid, or is this a parents come to party?

Yeah odd questions I thought, who thinks about a 2 year old party this much.  Thankfully I’ve read this blog post and seen the amazing display of Brasilian love for children first hand.  I even took pictures I was sooo impressed.  So I figured I needed to do something somewhat similar.

Here’s my weak attempt (unfortunately, my husband and I only took a few photos of things as there was a miscommunciation about who took what).

Yes, I realize my other son was only a month old, but I needed to do something.  So I brought in a bunch of American food, milkyway bars, licorice, and a ton of oreos.  I also bought the car shaped cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma and made graham crackers out of them  You can see the graham crackers in the photo below..  The kids loved the graham crackers.  You can find the recipe here.  I also made little sugar cookies with the Williams Sonoma Message in a Cookie cutters – Happy Birthday and Parabens.  After 2 batches, I finally figured out how to get the cookies to be readable.  Note to those who thought those cookie cutters were “too cute” like me.

I also decorated my first birthday cake– red velvet—very not Brasilian.

I wasn’t going to fork out for an entertainer, as most parties have, nor did my husband see any reason to fork out money for a bounce house — both standard at most kid’s parties here.  So I decided to make a pinata.  My kid loves to beat the crap out of things, and it would be different.  AND I figured I could get away with not having to do a bunch of little gift bags.  I found a lady who makes pinatas here for R$150, but that’s pretty steep for something you can easily make yourself with crepe paper, a balloon and glue.  It was a hit (haha)!

All in all my kid had fun, and we did have an outfit change halfway through like most Brasilian parties, except this one was due to my son falling into the fountain.

I miss Sephora

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I stopped by a Cosmetics store the other day, a larger one as I needed to pick up some blue hair dye for some highlights.  They had a lot of hair products, but one thing that I have consistently found lacking is makeup here.  I’ve seen the MAC store, but to be honest I’ve never bought into the whole MAC cosmetics world.  I do however miss Sephora, walking in and looking at the various beautiful brands just makes me happy inside.   I’m more of a Laura Mercier and Tarte girl, and I don’t get that option here so I have to buy makeup whenever I go back to the US.  Well that was until I remembered a little site I had run across a very very long time ago.  www.strawberrycom.net.   I remembered they did free international shipping (from China), and they said if you got charged customs they would reimburse it.

Yes ladies, that’s right in English bren.strawberrycom.net and br.strawberrycom.net in Portuguese.  They have it all on the site, and they usually have deals as well, not as sweet as Sephora, but close enough.  I did read their FAQ, and all I remembered was right, they do reimburse and shipping is free.

 

**Update! Looks like we won’t be missing Sephora anymore.  http://vejasp.abril.com.br/noticias/sephora-abre-primeira-loja-no-brasil

The Albert Einstein experience

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So I’m behind on so much…new kid and all.  So a quick final having a baby in Brasil post.

It turns out you really do need to bring your own clothing to the hospital. When the nurses came in the next am, they asked me where my clothing was for the day… there was no gown (not that I would want to stay in the gown as it was completely open in the back!). They then showered me. Yeah, they walked me to the shower, then sat there and instructed me on how to shower, as well as held the shower head. When they did finally give me control of it, they sat and watched me sit (wasn’t allowed to stand) and shower. After giving birth, my sense of modesty usually goes out the window, so I really could have cared less at this point.

My first meal was an interesting one. Split pea soup, brussel sprouts and steak. Seriously, in the US, that would be considered nasty…the meat was much better than I got in the US hopsitals though. Overall, for hospital food, the meat was not bad. It was definitely Brasilian though, an interesting mixes of food though, like green grape sauce over chicken, or almond crusted salmon with applesauce… but still much more edible than I had in the US. They also brought in morning and night tea and crackers.

I had every intent of never letting my son leave my sight after the initial 2 hours “monitoring,” but it turns out that the hospital is MUCH more strict on controls, and every shift change your kid goes back to the nursery, so they can account for the kids. This was a MAJOR pain around feedings, as I had to basically try and force feed a sleeping newborn, as they are there for about 2 hours. Also, my son was completely gagging/turning purple on amniotic fluid, and keep throwing it up, so they refused to let me keep him at night, and would bring him to feed every 3 hours. They pumped his stomach twice. The second time seemed to take. Then there was the circumcision, so then again they wanted him to be watched in the nursery for a bit. Then the next day they decided he was a bit yellow and needed to take a light bath for 24 hours, so on my birthday they took him all day and night, and I would nurse him in the nursery every 3 hours. I never though I would have been okay with it, but I was. As he really does just want to sleep, so just slept calmly in the light bath, and my other son was able to come on Saturday and just spend the day with me and get mommy time at the hospital. Also, my husband got a good night’s sleep, as I had to go to the nursery all night to nurse.

One thing that I have come to really REALLY appreciate about Brasil’s hospital experience is every nurse was trained on breastfeeding. First breastfeed in the room a nurse was there helping me breastfeed. And they were knowledgeable… unlike nurses in the US, who all seemed kind of inept. Each feeding a nurse would stand by me and help to make sure I knew what I was doing.. manhandling the goods if necessary. With my first son I had to visits by the “lactitions” once at 9am … and they were NOT helpful, and actually pissed me off. For my first kid, I ended up using a shield for 3 months, as I couldn’t ever get him to nurse without it.  Also, despite the help, my son lost about 11% of his birth weight. When my other son lost 7% the US freaked out and told me I had to start using formula immediately. This time, the pediatricians said they were worried, but said to wait till my milk came in, and see my pediatrician as soon as I got home, to check to see if the weight came back.

As you can see their help has paid off, what a chunk.

Another thing that I thought was funny was that EVERYTHING had a barcode on it. My kid came in the room with a bar code on his butt, his hat, and each of his booties. It was kind of funny to watch them scan him like produce repeatedly throughout our stay.

Either way, I definitely think Brasil’s hospital is a bit tight on security, but I can understand why it happens.