Great food for thought for all of us, women: “Woman, by Unknown Author”

When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day…….

An angel came by and asked.” Why spend so much time on her?”

The lord answered. “Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?”

She must function on all kinds of situations,
She must be able to embrace several kids at the same time,
Have a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart,
She must do all this with only two hands,”
She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day”

THE ANGEL was impressed” Just two hands…..impossible!

And this is the standard model?”

The Angel came closer and touched the woman”
“But you have made her so soft, Lord”.
“She is soft”, said the Lord,
“But I have made her strong. You can’t imagine what she can endure and overcome”

“Can she think?” The Angel asked…
The Lord answered. “Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate”

The Angel touched her cheeks….
“Lord, it seems this creation is leaking! You have put too many burdens on her”
“She is not leaking…it is a tear” The Lord corrected the Angel…

“What’s it for?” Asked the Angel….. .
The Lord said. “Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride.”…

This made a big impression on the Angel,
“Lord, you are a genius. You thought of everything.
A woman is indeed marvellous”

Lord said.”Indeed she is.
She has strength that amazes a man.
She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens.
She holds happiness, love and opinions.
She smiles when she feels like screaming.
She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid.
She fights for what she believes in.

Her love is unconditional.
Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life”

The Angel asked: So she is a perfect being?
The lord replied: No. She has just one drawback
“She often forgets what she is worth”.

silhouette of pregnant standing on seashore during golden hour
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mayweather x McGregor 

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Watching tonight’s fight with the help of an awesome projector & big screen, at the Marine House 🤗 #communityevent

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#familyaffair #USMC #getoutside #mayweathervmcgregor

Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil
Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South/Central American countries, a few European reps, and the soon-to-become-acquaintedwith US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. I’m not always with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil
KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now – and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”. Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father’s mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband’s mother’s tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now almost 12, 9.5 and 6.5 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate.

José Saramago
José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and for the past 3 years in Brazil, talking with their nanny in Spanish/Portunol    , they may believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here earlier.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! 😮

Summer Fun: Getting a ride to the Tiki Hut (3-wheeler free bike service!)

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Preview from our Southwest USA road trip

Oh, well… since time is a hot commodity during vacation, I will just share here the links with our Instagram images… once time becomes more available, a better writing/blogging job will happen. Thank you!

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Moving: Departing Brazil, heading to Cuba!

We’re officially Havana-bound, now…

Our HouseHold Effects [HHE] and the Unaccompanied Air Baggage [UAB] will soon be on their way to our next Post Assignment!

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Thoughts on our regular ‘socially busy’ weekend…

Not much to report… our expat lives on-the-go continue to move according to plan.

We’re, although, entering the countdown mode: family pack-out scheduled for May 22nd; pre-packing, sorting, desperation mode should likely kick in about now 🙂

So much to do, and yet, not enough time, very common complaint from our fellow Foreign Service friends.

Not much to report… our expat lives on-the-go continue to move according to plan.

We’re, although, entering the countdown mode: family pack-out scheduled for May 22nd; pre-packing, sorting, desperation mode should likely kick in about now 🙂

So much to do, and yet, not enough time, very common complaint from our fellow Foreign Service friends – it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done. How many HHEs and UABs your family has separated for packing and shipping; how many pieces of advice other families with school-aged children have been shared with you. Really. You may have moved a dozen times, lived under not-so-easily-adjustable conditions, and yet, you’ll find yourself questioning your life/career decisions – exactly the same way you did during the very first move!

The Stress is Real!

 

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to avoid it. The moment the pre-packing survey takes place, we [always!] come to the realization:

“Why do we keep doing this?” or “Why did I buy this gigantic piece of furniture/decoration/local artistic whatever??”

“Why?”

And the worst part, is the look of disbelieve the movers give you hat very moment:

“WOW! We’ve encountered some strange people in this line of work”… followed by their words of ‘comfort’:

“Don’t worry Sir, we’ve seen worse” 🙂

All that said, The Mirandas have decided to begin our ‘pre-moving entertaining mode’, a proven strategy to safeguard our healthy intra-family relationships, and our sanity! 🙂

Here are a few examples of our recent weekend activities [links will take you to the images]:

And… cooking, hosting and sharing our challenges and lessons learned with friends

Or, taking a break from work! 🙂

Or even, enjoying uniquely strange moments with like-minded, equally stressed expat folks! 🙂

From our Mexican-American-Brazilian household to yours: Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Want a quick view into our expat lives? Follow us on Instagram!!

 

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Showing life in Brazil to our American family members!

The eldest member of our US-based Miranda Family, comes to Brasilia! Or, as the kids like to call him, their ‘Abuelito’ 🙂
Here, joining the kids for some well-deserved Easter Egg Hunt fun, organized for the US Embassy community:

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Moving on, we’ve decided to join the Mirandas & the Nogueira Lima families: we all headed up to see the Brazilian part of the family in Fortaleza – taking the American ‘Abuelito’ to go visit the kids’ Brazilian uncles, aunts, cousing and grandparents? All aboard, heading to the Northeastern coast of Brazil for Easter Weekend! 🙂

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Brazil & US Families together!

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Back in Brasilia, how about start the weekend fun for our second guest, with some typical feijoada, caipirinhas and tropical fruit juices, while listening to traditional “chorinho” [samba] and Bossa Nova? All by the lake Paranoa side, watching the weekenders riding their boats, jet-skis and kayaks… Table for 16 people, please!

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Gotta always save some [physical] energy for joining the US Embassy community during a friendly basketball mini-tournament, right?
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Mid-afternoon sightseeing… ice-cream, anyone? Even better if it’s sold from a red vintage VW! 🙂

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Considering making and keeping healthy friendships [in our case, our expat fellow friends] are the most important part of this ever-changing life, a few images from a night with friends, celebrating life, friendship, birthdays and good food! One of the pictures here is a ‘multi-collage’… guess which!

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What now?? Some family time back at our Lago Sul house, having fun with the little “resident monkeys”? 🙂 Priceless!

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Brasilia, our current home, and a city planned to host the coutry’s federal government, is famous for [among other things!]:

a) its unique sky colors & the typical Cerrado vegetation

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b) its architectural lines and building structures, its religious/faith-based centers, bringing out a strange, yet passionate urban beauty:

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Snapshots of our little expat life in Brazil…

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Some may think being an expat is hard, living the ever-changing routine, adapting/adjusting as you go…

Some others may find it intriguing, exciting and worth pursuing, despite the constant uncertainty and the last-minute life-changing decisions ones is often faced with.

Our family falls right in the middle. It’s definitely not the easiest lifestyle; nevertheless, worth every bit of it!

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Coming back to reality…

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Traveling on a kid-friendly budget: Six days in Uruguay, South America

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Want to know more about our family trip to Uruguay, it’s capital, Montevideo, the charming province of Punta del Este and the historical province of Colonia del Sacramento? All within a family-friendly budget, spread out thru bus rides, hiking trips, smart hotel and dining options searching! Just stay tuned (or send us a message using the comments section below – we will be glad to share our travel tips and family challenges!) 😲

For now, we will leave you all with a few collage pics from our traveling family Instagram (@expatmomof3) profile. Thank you for stopping by!

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Now, heading to Colonia del Sacramento!

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Back in Montevideo, for some amazing History of Soccer!

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Another great, safe and enjoyable bus ride, took our family to the charming beach resort region of Punta del Este…. for some well-deserved endless vacation time!

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Spending a couple days in Belem, Para, Brazil

CARNAVAL!

From a very talented blogger, currently experiencing motherhood and expat life in Brazil, and a friend, Tessa Wegener. A great and enjoyable read!

Wegener's Wanderlust

Samba! Feathers! Glitter! Streamers! Confetti! — Carnaval has officially begun in Brazil!

A little bit of history

Did you know that the word carnaval is believed to have evolved from the Latin phrase carnem levare which means “to remove meat”? Carnaval, like Mardi Gras in the U.S. or Karneval in Germany, is a pre-Lenten celebration that ends on Ash Wednesday and has its roots in European Catholicism (or in earlier pagan traditions, depending on your source!).

Carnaval in Brazil is a transcultural phenomenon and its history is inextricably linked to European colonialism and African slavery. The Portuguese settlers of Brazil introduced Entrudo (another name for Carnaval) during the 18th century. Initial celebrations evolved over the years and took on the form of masquerade balls, polka dances and waltzes. At this point, festivities were still clearly delineated according to social class—there were “Grandes Sociedades” for aristocrats, “Ranchos Carnavalescos” for the working-class, and “Cordões” for the…

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Snapshots from the 2016 ‘Toys for Tots’ in Brasilia, Brazil. Thank you, US Marines!

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From our Expat Family to Yours… Happy Holiday Season, and Happy Travels!

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Life in the Foreign Service: and our next assignment is….

Could we be any happier? We got (again!) our #1 pick as our onwards Foreign Service Assignment post:

Obviously, more to come… but for now, I only have one thing to say:

YAAAAAY!

Stay tuned… 🙂

Written by Karen Hastings

History and Havana go hand in hand. The name “Havana” conjures images of Spanish conquistadors, revolutionary heroes, and the literati and glitterati who once basked on these sun-splashed shores. Today, the fascinating history of Cuba’s capital awaits travelers at every twist and turn; in the cobbled streets of Old Havana, in the beautiful Cuban Baroque buildings, the historic forts, museums, legendary restaurants, and lively public squares.

A fiesta for the senses, Havana is a city made to stroll. Listen to live rumba music on a street corner, feast at restaurants where Hemingway once dined, or inhale the salt-soaked air along the famous Malecón. But perhaps the best part of a visit to Havana is the people. Friendly and outgoing, the locals are proud of their culture-rich Caribbean city and happy to share its historic treasures and many hidden gems.

Getting the House Ready… Outdoor Halloween Decor



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The First Bierwagen: making passing-by tourists happier, every Oktoberfest!

During the Brazilian October Beerfest 2016 festivities, one might find surprises anywhere… everywhere! Even crossing the city of Blumenau’s traditional street, the November XV, as you may see below…

Free beer being given by these lovely mom-and-daughter set. Old German pappa is responsible for the driving duties!

One can’t beat the uniqueness of mixed cultures! 😊

Liederkranz at the Blumenau Oktoberfest, 2016

Show dos ” Velhos Camaradas” na Oktoberfest de 2016, em Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brasil.

Video by the Lima-Miranda traveling couple 😊 Enjoy!

For more info on this folk group, feel free to visit:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1786675414884228&id=1420663611485412

Oktoberfest Princesses!

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More to come, obvioulsly, since we are currently on our way back home.

Airports never are a great “blogposting” choice!

For now, leaving you with the husband’s choice of ‘princesses’, and his unchallenged Queen! 😊

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Getting ready for the Greatest Brazilian Beer Festival – Oktoberfest of Blumenau!

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And, the Lima Miranda Clan is getting ready for another cultural trip. The second largest Oktoberfest happens some 6,000 miles away from Munich… in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Southern Brazil – exactly where these ‘travel-addicts’ are going!

This time, it will be a celebratory trip for the husband and I, a token towards our 13th wedding anniversary – and a decade a half of love, companionship, shared joy and challenging moments, laughs, adventures and discoveries… Thirteen years of married life, witnessing our family grow as a balanced unit. Life has definitely been good to us. Time to celebrate!

Our kids will happily stay back with their Brazilian grandmother, “vovó Regina” , who has kindly flown to Brasilia in order to spend some quality time with her Brazilian-American grandchildren, period which coincides with the children’s international school ‘Brazilian Spring Break’. This means kids at home for a whole week, no classes… the perfect scenario for their parents to ‘escape’ for a while! [smiles!!]

Arriving in Blumenau today. Stay tuned for more – can’t wait to share our ‘in-loco’ observations!

(cheating a little, and pasting here a bit of background info I found on Wikipedia): The Oktoberfest of Blumenau is a festival of Germanic traditions that happens in middle October in the city of Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil. It is considered the biggest German festival of all Americas and the one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebration along with the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest and after the original Oktoberfest from Munich. It takes place at Parque Vila Germânica (Germanic Village Park), located in the Bairro da Velha (District of the Old Woman), and lasts for 17 days.

Site oficial do Evento

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The Blumenau Oktoberfest is a triumph of music, dances, colors and some excellent iced beer, served in “chopp” (mugs). Brazilian beer is slightly lighter than

the European one, but very good indeed.
The main “cervejas” are the national Brahma and some local beers like Eisenbahn, Bierland, Wunder Bier, Das Bier and Gaspar.
Brazilian beer is best matched with traditional German dishes like the Kassler (pork rib with sausages, purée and sauerkraut), Eisbein (cross-cut veal meat with sauerkraut, sausage and pure) and Marreco Recheado (a typical regional dish: goose served with red cabbage, rice and pure).

foto2The calendar of the festival is filled with events. The Oktoberfest is not just about beer: it is memory, tradition and folklore, a gathering moment dedicated to friendship and conviviality. During the festival the locals put their outstanding cultural richness on display through music, dance and typical gastronomy.

blumenau_girlsThe official opening ceremony takes place on Wednesday at 22 pm after the big parade in rua XV de Novembro. The costume parades with German folkloristic dance groups are one of the festival main attractions. The dance shows account for the typical ‘Oom-Pah Music”, polka, waltz and mazurka, all of which are partly “contaminated” with some samba moves (Hey, we’re still in Brazil after all!)
Some funny competitions are also organized, the most interesting and famous of which is the “Concurso Nacional de Chopp em metro”, that livens up the sector 3 of Parque Vila Germanica with an alternate schedule. The competition is free and open to all participants over the age of 18, and begins at 22 pm. The challengers must drink 600 ml of beer, “um metro de chope”, in the least amount of time. Every evening a winner is elected, and during the closing celebration the three best times (respectively for men and women) will be awarded a medal.

On the last Sunday of celebrations, the festival elects the Oktoberfest princess: an important responsibility for the chosen girl, since she has to embody the values of the Blumenau culture.

The ‘Ceiling can’t hold’ these third-culture kids!

What is home for a TCK?

[Instrumental]

[Verse 1: César & His Gang]
Return of the Mack
Get ’em, what it is, what it does, what it is, what it isn’t
Looking for a better way to get up out of bed
Instead of getting on the Internet and checking a new hit me, get up
Thrift shop, pimp strut walking
Little bit of humble, little bit of cautious
Somewhere between like Rocky and Cosby
Sweater game nope nope y’all can’t copy
Yup, Bad, moonwalking, this here is our party
My posse’s been on Broadway, and we did it our way
Grown music, I shed my skin and put my bones
Into everything I record to it and yet I’m on
Let that stage light go and shine on down
Got that Bob Barker suit game and plinko in my style
Money, stay on my craft and stick around for those pounds
But, I do that to pass the torch and put on for my town
Trust me, on my I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T shit hustlin’
Chasing dreams since I was fourteen
With the four-track, bussing
Halfway cross that city with the backpack
Fat cat, crushing labels out here, nah, they can’t tell me nothing
We give that to the people, spread it across the country
Labels out here, nah they can’t tell me nothing
We give it to the people, spread it across the country

[Hook: Marcela]
Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

[Hook: Marcela]
Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

[Verse 2: César & His Gang]
Now can I kick it, thank you
Yeah, I’m so damn grateful
I grew up really wanting gold fronts
But that’s what you get when Wu-Tang raised you
Y’all can’t stop me
Go hard like I got a 808 in my heart beat
And I’m eating at the beat like you gave a little speed
To a great white shark on Shark Week, raw!
Tell me go up, gone, deuces, goodbye, I got a world to see
And my girl, she wanna see Rome, Caesar’ll make you a believer
Nah, I never, ever did it for a throne, that validation comes
From giving it back to the people, now sing a song and it goes like
Raise those hands, this is our party
We came here to live life like nobody was watching
I got my city right behind me, if I fall, they got me
Learn from that failure, gain humility, and then we keep marching, I said

Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

And so we put our hands up
And so we put our hands up
Oh, oh, oh, oh…..

[Bridge: Macklemore and Ray Dalton]
Na na na na, na na na na
Hey-ee ay-ee ay-ee ay ay-ee ay-ee, hey
And all my people say

Na na na na, na na na na
Hey-ee ay-ee ay-ee ay ay-ee ay-ee, hey
And all my people say

[Bridge: Macklemore and Ray Dalton]
Na na na na, na na na na
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
And all my people say

Na na na na, na na na na

Mack-le-eh-eh-eh-eh-more!

Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Can we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

Let the night come, before the fight’s won
Some might run against the test
Yeah those that triumph embrace the fight cause
The fear is there to prove that courage exists

The Lima Miranda Clan visits the Majestic Iguazu Waterfalls!

Getting ready for the boat ride going along/under the falls, between Brazil and Argentina waters!
Getting ready for the boat ride going along/under the falls, between Brazil and Argentina waters!

 

Glad it’s Friday!

Spring has arrived in Brazil, and our working-traveling family keeps enjoying our time in Brasilia, which due to its central location, has enabled us to tackle a few of the ‘bucket list travel destinations’ we’ve originally planned for 3-year assignment in Brazil.

This September, we took advantage of a Brazilian National Holiday, Independence Day – and an American holiday, Labor Day, to visit the so-famous Brazilian Waterfalls – Cataratas de Iguaçu, in Southern Brazil.  Husband had already visited the Iguazu Falls, but I had never had that chance (yeap! I’m that kind of Brazilian-born individual who’d never could experience what a lot of foreigners do and brag about…). The possibility to bring our kids along on this quest was the added bonus for this traveling-foreign-service family! 🙂

Thank you very much to Kennedy Runo for sharing his 10 interesting facts about the Iguazu Falls! It was a great inspiration for this blogpost 🙂

Here is my favorite “interesting fact”, from K. Runo ‘s list:

There is a legend to explain the falls: God wanted to marry Naipí, an Aborigine girl against her wish. She escaped on a canoe with her human lover, Tarobá. Upon realizing this, he got angry and separated the River Iguazu by creating deep falls so that the two will be condemned to an eternal fall.

 

Iguazu Falls, also Cataratas do Iguaçu in Portuguese and Cataratas Del Iguazú in Spanish are waterfalls that straddle between the Brazilian State of Paraná and Province of Misiones in Argentina along the River Iguazu. It divides the river into upper and lower Iguazu. With more than 275 falls, the Iguazu are the most majestic of water falls. The most scenic one is the curved cataract christened the ‘devils throat’ that has 14 falls that drop to a height of 350 feet. Iguazu Waterfalls are second only to Victoria Waterfalls in size. However, in terms of beauty, none of the other waterfalls in the world can come close to compete. If you are a nature buff and have never visited Iguazu, then you have missed out. [thank you, Kennedy Runo on 01/17/2014 in Brazil]

 

Our oldest 'explorers', very attentive to all they've learned, and will report back to their classmates. Family travel is always a great opportunity for teaching moments - especially the incredibly enjoyable ones, with our aspiring scientist-drama-queen and our 'know-it-all'-boy! :)

Our oldest ‘explorers’, very attentive to all they’ve learned, and will report back to their classmates. Family travel is always a great opportunity for teaching moments – especially the incredibly enjoyable ones, with our aspiring scientist-drama-queen and our ‘know-it-all’-boy! 🙂

Our family also went along with the Macuco Safari crew, driving throughout the Park, learning about the preservation efforts to keep the Mata Atlantica intact and respected!

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Considering I haven’t blogged in a while, I plan on making a gradual return – or, you may say I’m simply lazy at this point. Have way more to share from our trip to the Brazilian Iguazu Falls, our hiking trips, and our visit to the Bird Sanctuary, also located in the municipality of Foz do Iguazu. But that will be left for a future blogpost. For now, just a ‘teaser’ of the beautiful Parque das Aves – Foz do Iguazu Park Bird Sancturay:

Lovely Flamingos!
Lovely Flamingos!

 

Useful links and/or references:

http://www.macucosafari.com.br/en/macuco-safari
http://www.uniglobeonetravel.com/10-interesting-facts-about-igauazu-falls
http://www.parquedasaves.com.br/en/

Stay tuned for more!

 

Life on the Superblock

I know I haven’t been the greatest blogger recently – life finds its way of escaping us, somehow…
In any event, a close friend, and now, a brand-new WP blogger, just published her first impressions about their assigned city – Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. I’ve written about this place before, the city I tend to call ‘my-own’, despite growing up as a military/government brat here, back in the 70s, 80s… and departing away in the 90s…
Brasilia has a very special place in my heart and in my life – that’s the reason this blogpost is here. My congratulations to the newest WP author, and my best wishes for The Wegener’s Wanderlust, which I leave you all here with her beautiful pictures of Brasilia and the sunset on (the artificially-designed) Lake Paranoá. Enjoy! 🙂

Wegener's Wanderlust

A little over a year ago, my husband and I moved to Brazil. When friends and family first heard that we would be moving to Brazil, they immediately assumed we would be in Rio de Janeiro and were likely envisioning their next vacation on Copacabana beach. We had to break the news to them that no, we weren’t going to be in Rio, nor in São Paulo. Instead, we’d be going to the center of Brazil’s vast country, to live in its capital Brasília, a city that has only existed a mere 56 years.

Brasília is surrounded not by the beach, but by a tropical savannah region known as the cerrado. Yet its defining characteristic is the layout of the city–depending on whom you ask, it resembles either an airplane, a bird or a cross. The main ministries and government buildings are located on the Eixo Monumental, which runs west to east; on…

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Interview for the ExpatFinder.com: An American-Brazilian in Brasilia

Thank you for the expert folks at Expat Finder for publishing the interview!

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Please find complete text below:

14 September 2016


\We’ve had the chance to talk to Raquel Miranda, 44, a Brazilian-American expat who has moved to Brazil with her family. Mrs. Miranda who has been living there for two years now works as a public health specialist.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: From Itaguai, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Q: What made you move out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

A: A post-doctoral research opportunity at UCDavis, California, in 2001

Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: In Brasilia, Brazil

Q: How long have you been living in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Since August 2014

Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: With family. Yes, the husband and our three third-culture children are adjusting pretty well, despite their young age [almost 11, 8 and 5]

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I do. We Skype, call each other on the phone, write emails and have a family WahtsApp group

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Right now, we’re living in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and it’s coincidentally the city I grew up in, since both my parents used to be federal public servants

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Brasilia, Brazil? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: Coming back to the place I grew up in, some 22 years later was quite interesting, and challenging! Making new friends, as a working mother, and being perceived as a ‘diplomatic spouse’, was an intriguing piece of the puzzle! After six months back, I already had a good group of friends from work, other parents from the school, and acquaintances, associated with the US embassy.

Q: How does the cost of living in Brasilia, Brazil compare to your home?

A: Comparing to the US
•Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: A couple of dollars
•Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Anywhere around 5-10 dollars
•Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Could be pretty expensive. One could easily spend 100-200 dollars one a meal with wine/drinks [date night!]
•Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Wine tends to be quite inexpensive since Brazil and neighbouring Argentina and Chile are good producers. Anywhere from $7 – 25 a bottle

Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Pack lots of patience! Have your CPF [tax number], have proof of local residency [any utility bill would do it!]; know your full address and have a landline phone number. Besides that, just bring a good reading book, be prepared to sit down and wait, with the patience you remembered to pack!

Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: We come in as a diplomatic family, therefore and fortunately, those steps are taken care of before our departure [from original country/post]

Q: Would you say that healthcare Brasilia, Brazil reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Extremely reliable. I’ve had the most diverse medical experiences after we joined the expat life/foreign service. Had a child in Brazil [Recife, 2010], have been hospitalized for seven days with some sort of infection… had allergic episodes… and was cared for. Our children, like any others at school age, have had their share, as well. You name it – from lice, flu, allergies, cuts, immunizations… and we have nothing to say but good things about the medical care. Obviously, we follow strict ‘home rules’, considering their ‘mama’ works with public health, at the first sign… I am on the ball!

Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or Brazil? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Yes, we did. ER visits, pediatric visits, dental coverage [basics] and minor medical interventions should be covered.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Always being accepted as the ‘new kid on the block’. Trying to prove that despite being a ‘foreigner’ or, in my case, for having lived away for so long, to be understood by others as being just like everyone else – with the same flaws, weaknesses, facing the same difficulties, and sharing the same dreams.

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Positive: the very warm, colourful, characteristic Brazilian soul. The negative? Unfortunately, the well-sung diversity creates gaps within the society, which leads to discrimination, and corruption.

Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Enjoy the local architecture, the surroundings. Other cities offer beautiful landscaping, the so-famous beaches, waterparks… enjoy the culture, the music, the colours… and the food!

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Yes. Probably in a year or so, when we have our new international assignment. Who knows what the future has in store for us?

Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Try to understand the culture: Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish [insert a smile here!]. Not many people speak English, so, don’t expect to find someone on the street that can give you directions to that fancy Peruvian restaurant! Brazilians are friendly, warm and very, very chatty! Try to be sympathetic, and listen to their [sometimes, endless!] stories!

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Brasilia, Brazil?

A: Obviously, our family nomadic photo and op-pieces blog, 3rd Culture Children also, Facebook groups, like Diplomatic Baggage in Brasilia and Conheca Brasilia.

 

Lit by human heat, Paralympic torch will visit six cities representing each region of Brazil

 

20160617_163635Reposted from the Paralympic Press, Brazil:

·         Paralympic Flame will be formed by the union of the flames lit at Brasília, Belém, Natal, São Paulo, Joinville, Rio de Janeiro and Stoke Mandeville, in England.

·         People from all over the world may send human warmth through social networks to light up the flames in the cities

Between September 1st and 7th, the Paralympic torch relay will visit all the regions in the country, represented by six Brazilian cities, to announce the arrival of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The great novelty of the Paralympic flame is the lighting-up mechanism: human heat. The flame which will shine over Maracanã Stadium at the Opening Ceremony will be formed by the union of five flames lit in Brazil and one in Stoke Mandeville, England, the place of birth of the world’s Paralympic Movement.

In a virtual campaign released by the Rio 2016 Committee, people from all over the world may send positive messages, through hashtags, accumulating enough energy to light up each flame. After the local lighting-up ceremonies, which will take place always during the morning at each city, the Paralympic torch will take to the streets carried by torchbearers and will make visits to special locations such as rehabilitation centers and institutes for the sight disabled.

Each flame will symbolize a Paralympic value: Brasília equality; Belém – determination; Natal – inspiration; and Joinville – courage. São Paulo participates with the power of transformation and Rio de Janeiro with the passion for sports. To participate at the movement, all that is necessary is to post a message at social networks using the official hashtag and the hashtag of the value embraced by the city. For example: to light up the Brasília flame, it’s necessary to use the hashtags #ParalympicFlame and #equality. At the Rio 2016 website, the public can daily accompany the map of heat generated by messages sent via Twitter.

The five flames will arrive at Rio de Janeiro by digital roads. They will be virtually sent to the host city after the end of the relay in each region. On September 6th, a ceremony of union of the flames will form the Paralympic flame at the Museum of Tomorrow, a landmark of the revitalization of Rio’s Historical Centre. The event will mark the start of the relay in the city, which will last for two days and will mobilize 360 torchbearers.

During the Paralympic Games, the flame will stay lit at the Candelária cauldron, at Rio’s Centre.

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NUMBERS

  • 6 Brazilian cities
  • 250 kilometers travelled in the relay
  • 4650 air miles travelled by the retinue’s airplane
  • 700 torchbearers
  • 28 special visits

 

Thoughts on being a better – more effective? – parent…

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Well, does it really exist? Is there a place in the ‘Matrix’, offering parents the comfort they so-desperately seek, when it comes to the betterment of their children?

In the endless search for answers, and like any other parent [of multiple children, in my case], any free time my weekend is able to provide, is quickly filled up with interesting/intriguing/questioning op-pieces. From other parents, from seasoned educators/teachers, from child/teen psychologists.. you name it!

In a nutshell, and as many may already have imagined, there’s no magic formula.

Sorry, folks, but my brief weekend-long motherly non-scientific research led me to the already-known venue: All parents offer the same things to their children: emotional and physical safety, some level of connection, boundaries and patience. Tons of it – before they [the parents!], unfortunately, and without any warning signs – they lose it! 😦

Parents are not perfect, nor are they effective all of the time. Parents keep on going, despite their continuous mistakes or doubts.

So… what have I learned from my without being interrupted by my children ‘weekend research’?

I have learned I need to cultivate a family value system. hopefully, that’s what my husband and I have set as the foundation for our growing family. Pretty tough, though. One may lay out a great life plan, completely filled with values to abide by… and see all dismantling in front of their own eyes…

I have learned it is crucial to prioritize th care my spouse and I offer each other. While managing our children’s expectations, and what we exactly would request from them. Children should understand that we, as parents, bear our problems with hope, honest acknowledgment of hard times, and a crazy [and hopeless!] case of lack of self-mercy!

I have learned I need to keep working on creating constant [yet accommodating] routines and boundaries. Children like and need routine. As parents, we should not aim for the tightly maintained routine, which could only create unnecessary disagreements and discomfort among all parts involved.

I have learned not to take any particular behavior [i.e. my youngest child, the soon-to-be teen boy, the middle-child who firmly believes she’s Broadway-material, and would become quite sensitive if told otherwise] as a personal attack. Not even the resulting-behavior from my husband should be understood as such. Leaning a bit on the science side, it is probably a chain-reaction – misunderstood behavior generates unfortunate [physical, verbal, emotional] responses, which could translate into not-well-thought-of actions, and uncalled for [and sometimes, hurtful] comments and reactions.

And finally,I have learned the most important task and responsibility while parenting [single kids, multiple kids] is the constant attempt to CONNECT. We need to connect with our children. In any and all levels possible. Again, this probably is the most difficult advice. But a good one, indeed – and it has become my September mantra: I’ll try to better connect with my children, and consequently, with my husband. At least, for the upcoming month of September. Let’s see how it goes.

Stay tuned! 🙂

The 2016 Olympics in Brazil, by the Lima Mirandas!

Greetings from Brasilia!

Well, the Olympic Games have come to Brazil… and our family has been very fortunate to have been part of these magnificent events.
Obviously, not the easiest task for our host country, but nevertheless, a pretty enjoyable experience.

How beautiful is the main host city, Rio de Janeiro? Here are a few shots I took from the “Cidade Maravilhosa”, while they were still getting ready to receive their guests:

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We do live in Brasilia, the capital of the country. We normally go to Rio for work (believe that?). Between games, social events, cheering… our children showing up on global social media channels (okay, I’m bias, but isn’t this 8-year-old girl the best representation of the sports fans??), our diplofamily made sure everyone would have great life memories from the Rio2016 Olympics.

Go Team USA. Go Team Brazil!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant

Exercising our best parenting pride – snapshots of a regular Saturday morning, running between kids sports activities… our jubilant attempt to raise healthy children.  We’re satisfied, proud, and exhausted…. until next Saturday!😉

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http://wordpress.com/weekly-photo-challenge/jubilant

A great Washington Post Read: ‘A tale of two temperaments: Same Parents, Different Kids’

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This morning, I stumbled upon this short op-piece from the Washington Post. Easy, quick, enjoyable read – and it represents exactly what I sometimes feel regarding raising our 3 children: they all came from the very same set of parents, we’ve offered them the same opportunities, require the same level of respect and responsibility [okay, maybe a bit weighted to each one’s age, but you get my point!], and yet, the results from each one’s behavioral expressions are [and maybe, should be!] completely different.

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Who knows? Maybe that’s what makes each and every one of them special in their own way. Unique, challenging, intriguing. And obviously, lovely and wonderful – like any other Mother Goose would refer to her offspring!

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Here’s the op-piece I am referring to:
[and my deepest appreciation for the Washington Post for having it out there!]

 

On Parenting

A tale of two temperaments: Same parents, different kids
By Deborah Farmer Kris

May 20 at 7:00 AM

When my daughter got home from school yesterday, she made a cozy nest of pillows, pulled out her crayons and started to draw.

“Mommy,” she complained, “the music is too loud. I need to focus.”

To which her little brother predictably replied, “I want too loud! I like too loud! TOO LOUD PLEASE!”

My husband and I are raising two curious, caring kids — who happen to have fundamentally different temperaments.

Thankfully, temperament and character are not synonyms. No matter our personality, most of us can learn to be kind, responsible, and hard-working. But one’s basic temperament — particularly our response to stimuli — seems rooted in biology.

Think of the seven dwarfs. Doc is an extrovert, Bashful is an introvert, and Grumpy is a natural skeptic — but they all choose to work hard, respect each other and protect strangers in distress. Seven decent people with different approaches to life.

That said, it must have been a challenge to be the dwarfs’ mother.

Our daughter was only a few weeks old when I began to notice her heightened sensitivity to sound — a reaction that some research links to later introversion. Shutting cabinet doors would startle her awake, and the blender terrified her. Her first full sentence was, “What’s that sound?”

At her first toddler tumbling class, she spent 15 minutes clutching my skirt. Then she mimicked the actions of the students from the safety of the back wall. Finally — after sizing up her teacher, her peers, and the relative safety of the activity — she happily joined the group for the last five minutes.

This is how she has approached almost every novel situation since infancy: observing before engaging. I got pretty good at helping her navigate new experiences in ways that stimulated her without being overwhelming. And then came child No. 2.

On my son’s first beach trip, as I was coaxing his sister to dip her feet in the water, he threw open his arms and toddled headlong into the waves. That’s his basic approach to life: dive in — and then scream for help if necessary.

Sometimes it has felt like whiplash parenting — pulling the toddler off a playground ladder while encouraging the preschooler to take “one more step” up the climbing wall. She perches watchfully while I vacuum; he tries to climb on and go for a ride.

We have a lot of shorthand for different temperaments. I often hear kids described as shy or bossy — or all-boy or all-girl. But these labels are laden with cultural baggage, and they put a box around children who are just beginning to explore who they are.

Every temperament brings with it strengths and possibilities. In Susan Cain’s essay, “Don’t Call Introverted Children ‘Shy,’ ” she writes that some children are “born with a careful, sensitive temperament that predisposes them to look before they leap. And this can pay off handsomely as they grow, in the form of strong academics, enhanced creativity and even a unique brand of leadership and empathy. . . . [T]hese kids are not antisocial. They’re simply sensitive to their environments.”

I am trying to create an environment that will allow both my kids to thrive — one that gives them the space to be themselves and the tools to “work it out” together. Sometimes my strategies work better with one than the other.

But I wonder if, in the end, their differences can be a source of strength. Perhaps their close relationship will give them a measure of empathy toward those who respond to the ebbs of life a little differently than they do.

On a recent visit to a small creek, my son persuaded his sister to wade into the water — and she got him to stop throwing rocks long enough to watch a heron catch a fish. And I thought of Cain’s comment that the best scenario “is when those two toddlers — the one who hands you the toy with the smile and the other who checks you out so carefully — grow up to run the world together.” Or as the Seven Dwarfs illustrate: No matter our temperament, we can find a way to live together and whistle while we work.

Deborah Farmer Kris is an educator, writer, researcher and the mother of two young children.
By Deborah Farmer Kris

May 20 at 7:00 AM

Snapshots of an expat life in Brazil: working with Science and Public Health

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#test4hiv

Snapshots of Project ‘The Time is Now’ in Brazil: #Test4HIV #ahoraeagora_cwb

Snapshots of Mother’s Day in Brazil

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#ExperimenteBrasilia – Miranda Family Sunset Lake Experience

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A long overdue return to my blogging tasks: Now, sharing a few experiences from our packed weekend in Brasilia. a rock concert, a farewell dinner, a family boat trip along the waters of the Capital’s famous Lago Paranoá.

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As a child, growing up in Brasilia, back in the 1970s, 1980s… the Lake Paranoá was a mysterious place, surrounded by endless possibilities.

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Now, as an adult, the opportunity of enjoying a boat ride, accompanied by my husband, our three children, seeing the joy on their faces when they got to go down on the life boat and row around the floating gazebo, was priceless.

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And I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of a friend’s birthday celebration, witnessing the uniqueness of the Brasilia sky, and vouch first-hand for the local saying of “the sky in Brasilia is our sea“… Brasilienses [the so-called people from Brasilia] may not have their own beaches, they have an artificially-built lake, but they sure have one of the most beautiful skies this planet may offer!

A paradisiacal experience, the delight it is to navigate the gentle waters of the Paranoá lake aboard a private floating gazebo.

Thankful for the #ExperimenteBrasilia opportunity. Thankful for sharing this memory with my children and husband, who unlike me, did not grow up surrounded by the never-ending artificial waters of the Paranoá Lake. Thankful for enjoying the majestic views of the Brasilia skies, beside the love of my life… 🙂
More pictures yet to arrive!! Stay tuned for a soon-to-come blogpost update!

In the meantime, go ahead and follow us on Instagram… we just opened up the account to share images and stories from our Foreign Service Family! Lima.Miranda.Bsb

 

Quick work trip to Bogota, Colombia

Full-time working mom. Juggling with career in Public Health, traveling throufhout the country for informational meetings or Project presentations.

Absolutely loving our assignment in Brazil as a foreign Service family: back to my hometown, witnessing my children develop their Portuguese/English interchangeable skills on a daily basis!

Traveling for fun and for work. The later, some 30 times since I started my current job… and still counting!

As an example, a quick trip to Colombia to share our HIV self-testing implementation project findings!

Blogging hiatus – foreign service life, work and love: Brazil in times of Zika

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This is not a real post, at least, not per se. But I felt like I needed to have something out there. The Lima-Miranda Family is still is Brasilia, Brazil. Enjoying live, working like crazy, traveling [for work and just not enough for leisure…], keeping friends close and ensuring the Little Miranda kiddos are being brought up in  a nurturing, enriched and compassionate environment.

Mixed languages at home. Our youngest child is now 5, and spends her days at pre-school. The two older kids still keep their dad and I on our toes. Love still surrounds us.

Work in Public Health  [better saying, Zika virus & its possible implications – oh, boy!!!] has kept me busy, and quite happy, I’d say. Meaningful work in an enjoyable work environment – the dream to any EFM/FS spouse, I dare to say! Apologies for the ‘blogging hiatus’… better [and calmer!] times will come…

More to come. For the time being, my deepest appreciation for the ones who remained for the long haul, standing strong while we move at our slow pace….

Peace to all, and see you very soon,

RM

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Snapshot of Inter-embassies soccer tournament, Brazil – May 2015.

Glad to see my “big child” displaying a healthy return, playing with his team mates. Very proud to see our son following his dad’s footsteps. Literally!

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Sightseeing in Brasilia: Esplanada dos Ministérios

Well, it only took me pretty good 9 months after arriving in Brasilia, to finally come up with a quais-decent post. It does feel like I’ve reached the end of a long gestation. Work, kids, trips to Buenos Aires (Argentina), back to the USA, Rio, São Paulo, Curitiba (Paraná), Recife (Pernambuco, where we lived from 2010-2012, and the birthplace of our youngest child), Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) and the common lifestyle have taken much time away from blogging. Now, back on track, with the plan to do a much better job on “sharing” beautiful images. That said, here are the images of our current home, from our first “tour” as a family!


[From the Go Brazil site:]
A quintessential symbol of work by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the creation of Brasília, the Esplanade of Ministries (Esplanada dos Ministérios) is situated on Eixo Monumental, one of the avenues forming the core shape of Costa’s design for Brazil’s capital, commonly compared to an airplane.Costa’s project for the creation of Brazil’s new capital is still a source of wonder. It beat 62 other entries in a contest launched by President Juscelino Kubitschek and was implemented by Novacap, the company created to build the city, as Plano Piloto.Costa said of his plan for the city, “Nasceu do gesto primário de quem assinala um lugar ou dele toma posse: dois eixos cruzando-se em ângulo reto, ou seja, o próprio sinal da cruz. (“It sprang from the primary gesture of one who marks or takes possession of a place: two axes which cross at a square angle, in other words, the sign of the cross itself.”)Eixo Monumental and Eixo Rodoviário form that essential cross shape. The city’s ample scale, exemplified by the Esplanade of Ministries, was intended to express an idea of dignity, Lucio Costa said in an interview available on Casa de Lucio Costa.Those generous dimensions also guided Brasília’s residential “super blocks” (super quadras) which the architect designed with wide green belts.Brasília, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also listed by Brazil’s National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN). Lucio Costa’s original report for Plano Piloto is available as part of the Institute’s description of the city’s heritage. The 16-kilometer long Esplanade has 17 buildings which house ministries and other federal administration organs, placed on opposite sides of the Eixo (pronounced AYE-shoo) and separated by a lawn.

At the start of the long stretch is the Metropolitan Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece which reopened after a three-year renovation.At the far end, the towers and the convex and concave structures which house the National Congress as well as Praça dos Três Poderes, or Three Power Square.The best view of the Esplanade is from the lookout point on Brasília’s 230-meter tall TV Tower. Inaugurated in 1967, the tower was designed by Lucio Costa and inspired in the Eiffel Tower. Other landmarks you can see from this vantage point at a height of 75 meters – which is visited by about 1,000 people a day – are the Mané Garrincha Stadium, the Nelson Piquet Autodrome and Lake Paranoá.

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 2

The center of Brasília, capital of Brazil. The very own way I see [and feel!] it. With its constructions, architecture, the unique concrete jungle I’ve had the pleasure to grow up in… and now, back in time, 20 years later, have the opportunity to be part of its work force…

A few snapshots of Brasília’s commercial center – the ‘heart’ of the old city, the original buildings and their unique architectural displays… and besides all that, these images represent a little of my ‘work surroundings’… The so-called Setor Comercial Sul, de Brasilia. Brasilia seen as their creators had envisioned… Wishing all a very healthy 2015! 😮

[Photography] 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil: Week 1

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Happy New Year to all of us!

Starting a new series of snapshots: 52 Thursdays in Brasília, Brazil.

And maybe, here and there, due to [required] work or [fun] family trips, we could be sharing a snapshot from a location outside Brazil’s capital… who knows? For now, like many others, we’ll try to begin the year on a “healthy note”: finally got our bikes assembled [all 5 of them], and decided to take advantage of the beautiful ecological park, close by…

Wishing all a very healthy 2015! 😮

#ZeroDiscrimination Campaign – Movie Festival in Brasilia

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Movie Festival in Brasilia – Campaign #ZeroDiscrimination

All content presented here below, extracted from:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/20131126zerodiscrimination/

Hoje é o Dia Mundial de Luta Contra a Aids!

Se você é de Brasília, participe da Campanha #ZeroDiscriminação promovida pela Unaids Brasil junto com a comunidade internacional no Brasil. A Embaixada dos EUA - Brasil participa da I Mostra Internacional de Filmes essa semana, com o filme “Clube de Compras Dallas”, na Casa Thomas Jefferson da Asa Sul, amanhã (02/12). Você está convidado! Se achou a iniciativa relevante, convide seus amigos para o filme! #MostraZeroDiscriminação #WorldAidsDay

Countries around the world celebrate Zero Discrimination Day

UNAIDS is inspired by the incredible response to the first Zero Discrimination Day

GENEVA, 1 March 2014People from all walks of life and in every region of the world are commemorating Zero Discrimination Day with a wide range of activities. UNAIDS called for the annual event, which is being celebrated for the first time on 1 March.

“Hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Discrimination is a violation of human rights. It is immoral, hurtful and dehumanizing. Yet too many people around the world continue to face unfair, harmful or violent treatment simply because of the circumstances of their birth or environment,” said Dr John Ashe, President of the General Assembly.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé has expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of support for the campaign. Working with Nobel Peace Prize winner and UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, UNAIDS launched the #zerodiscrimination campaign in December 2013 on World AIDS Day.

“For all who seek a more just world, for all who strive for peace and prosperity—let us start by stopping the inequality and discrimination happening around us,” said Mr Sidibé.

Many government ministries, lawmakers, business leaders and international organizations are supporting the zero discrimination campaign.

“Institutionalized discrimination is bad for people and for societies,” said Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. “Widespread discrimination is also bad for economies. There is clear evidence that when societies enact laws that prevent productive people from fully participating in the workforce, economies suffer.”

“Achieving zero discrimination is critical for the success of the AIDS response. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is fully committed through its Getting to Zero at Work campaign,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO.

“Eliminating discrimination is the one step that can enable the world to achieve the UN General Assembly’s 2011 target of a 50 per cent reduction of HIV infection among people who use drugs by 2015,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. “Take that step, say yes to #zerodiscrimination, commit, transform and let’s reach the target.”

The butterfly is widely recognized as a sign for transformation and the campaign has adopted it as the symbol for zero discrimination. People have supported the campaign by taking photographs holding up the butterfly symbol in places across the globe, including snowy mountain tops, office cubicles, amusement parks, fire stations and the world famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At a commercial shopping complex in Kandy, Sri Lanka, campaign supporters are organizing a mass photography shoot with the zero discrimination symbol.

The Asia-Pacific Transgender Network has used the occasion of Zero Discrimination Day to produce in partnership with UNAIDS a powerful video about the transgender experience. The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS is holding a series of country-level and regional dialogues with government, civil society, business and religious groups, as well as young people, on the importance of building solidarity for everyone. The Youth Taekwondo Association of Tajikistan is holding an event called “Sport against stigma and discrimination.”

Many celebrities have recorded video messages or taken photographs with the butterfly, including the global Indian icon and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the popular Russian science commentator and naturalist Nikolai Drozdov and the highly acclaimed musician from Mali and International Goodwill Ambassador Toumani Diabaté. The international television broadcaster CNN is supporting the campaign and many local and regional media outlets are featuring discussions on zero discrimination. In Pakistan, Radio Pakistan and PTV World, the country’s only English channel, hosted talk shows with people from key groups who often face discrimination.

More information is available at:

http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/campaigns/20131126zerodiscrimination/

https://www.facebook.com/zerodiscrimination

http://zerodiscrimination.tumblr.com/

#zerodiscrimination

Living & working in Brazil as foreign service family: Our fifth month.

After being in La Paz, Bolivia for the past 2 years, we followed our hearts [and our assignment!] to Brasilia, capital of Brazil. Before I go any further, my blogsphere apologies for the hiatus – being a full-time mom of 3 children, one not yet at school age, who have decided to [re] join the wonderful PEPFAR team, working 40+ hours outside the house, life’s still good.

We’ve adjusted quite well, I’d say. Kids are pretty satisfied with the school; weekend have been crowned with social events, ranging from previously arranged and impromptu play dates, to barbecues at friends’ homes, to endless trips to the grocery store.

 

For the average ‘ trailing family’, we seem to be doing well. With all that said, I believe I can get back into blogging, updating family and friends on our whereabouts….

Work has me traveling quite a bit, which could be seen as exciting, but nevertheless, requiring excelling logistics skills, and a state-of-the-art household managing plan! 🙂 One of my work trips brought the whole family to Rio… and how? Well, October is Children’s Month in Brazil. And because of that, one of the airline companies was flying kids for free. Taking advantage of the Columbus Day holiday, we packed our bags, and went to the Cidade Maravilhosa. This post showcases a few images from our visit.

 

*. Parque Lage

“Parque Enrique Lage” is a public park in the city of Rio De Janeiro, located in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood at the foot of the Corcovado.

The atrium of the mansion, has a lovely café, enjoyed by families and tourists.

The land was formerly the residence of industrialist Enrique Lage and his wife. During the 1920s Lage had the mansion remodeled by Italian architect Mario Vodrel, with interior paintings by Salvador Payols Sabaté.

 

In the 1960s the land became a public park, with walking trails through subtropical forest. The Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (Visual Arts School of Parque Lage) and a café open to the public operate from the former mansion.

 

*. Meeting up with friends in Leblon…. nothing like taking a pic at a bus stop in Rio… so classy!!! 🙂

 

*. A quick stop at the Girl from Ipanema Bar… the so famous corner where Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim complosed the long-loved poem to the eternal beach-tanned beauty…

 

*. …on our way to the beach!

 

*. Moving on…. Looking at the city from the shoulders of Christ the Redeemer – Nothing like enjoying the view from the “Cristo”!

 

*. And finally… The Ipanema Hippie Fair… got get there to understand it’s size, dimension and unique flavors & colors!

Living in a ‘limbo’: Raising Third Culture Kids.

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What do I mean by ‘trouble with third-culture kids‘?

Right now I’m simply trying to collect my thoughts into one piece, because attempting to answer this question has become my life task. I joke with my three children that I was only a woman before they were brought into my life. they made me turned into something completely different, the somehow scary concept of a parent… Not easy to be a parent, and even harder the ongoing duty of raising (well) kids that are wholeheartedly part of a hybrid scenario.

The so-called hybrid culture, a moving creature, a living chimera who’s not only part of their lives, but also defines who they (the children) are, the way they behave, how they interact with the (current) society, how they understand and express their feelings…

This past week the children went to visit their new school, and participated in a short orientation activity with same-age/same grade kids. They were asked to introduce themselves, and mention where they were coming from, their previous school/country,  stating their nationality.

My oldest was born in the US, and seems to have strong ties to the country thru sports, aligning himself with the ‘American’ culture. He’d also tell you he’s Brazilian – got a Brazilian-American mom and embraces the culture here. My surprise that day at school, came from my 1st-grader: when students originally from Brazil where called to stand up, she remained sited. The same happened when US kids were called to introduced themselves. Finally, when she heard, ‘now, children from Africa’, she jumped out of her seat, displaying a big and proud smile… Yes, she was born in South Africa, while our family was leaving/working in Mozambique. She left the country before she turned 2. But her allegiances to her ‘African past’ are remarkably strong – the culture, the music, the dances – she lives thru the stories we tell her from the time our family spent there. Who knows why? and, as long as she’s happy, we’re happy, despite our utterly lack of understanding. Maybe, for now, the answers will just confuse us…

As a parent, I’ve become aware of this ‘chimera’ my children represent. Sometimes I feel I don’t know them, and it’s not their fault – I simply don’t find the correct way to address their growing needs; how to respond to their sadness and anger; how to deal with their mood swings during the transitions, the constant moves, the new places, the losses of old friends…

I recently read a guest post written by Nina Sichel, introducing on one of publications, which referred to third-culture children living in a ‘limbo‘. Throughout the text, there was the comment on the ‘layers of loss’ a TCK experiences – according to Nina Sichel, those layers run deep – friends, schools, favorite places, pets… and again, now I’m wearing my ‘concerned parent hat’, seeking ways to address these losses with my kids, already knowing they will happen over and over…

Our family has relocated to our new post assignment – today marks the end of our second week in Brasília. My children are comfortable with Portuguese, and have been able to make a feel new friends during Summer Camp here. They seem happy, they’d adjusting, and yet, they’re struggling… I can tell from their little faces they’re trying hard, they’re no quitters, but sometimes the lack of (self) understanding  turns into and default. They look up to us (the parents) for answers we do not carry… We knew it would be like this, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, no transition is, but we’re here for them, even though, my husband and I are still trying to figure things out: socially, emotionally… I have no evidence, our family dynamics feels a tad disjoint, but time and patience will hopefully be good allies throughout the process… Time, patience, acceptance, and love – our travel companions 😮

(Note: Thanks again to Nina Sichel’s article, and for her book, the inspiration for this ‘parental op-piece’).

Wonders of life as a Foreign Service Family – Life at the New Post.

Greetings from Brasilia!

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After several weeks of ‘transitional homes’ we safely made it to our permanent housing assignment. And why is it important to mention it is a ‘permanent house’? Maybe for the curious ones, with friends cruising thru the joys of the Foreign Service life, there’ll be a long explanation out there waiting to be spelled out. 😮 For now, it’s enough saying we’re glad we don’t have to move to a difference residence. We’re comfortable and settled down. At least, as comfortable as possible – kids have enrolled into a Summer camp program, and we’re getting to know new families, learning the ropes for the city…

What and where to find our immediate needs for the house (forgot to mention that, although we like our ‘new place’, it’s pretty bare, hence the need to go out and buy not only groceries, but trash cans, cleaning products… You name it!).

The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia
The illusion of two hands together reaching up to the sky creates the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia

Despite all the usual initial difficulties, inherent to the nature of the move, we believe we’ll have a nice time here. That’s the ultimate hope. We now have cable TV and internet – a great milestone! Kids have already made friends with some other children who would likely be attending the same school. We’re trying to build our own niche, despite the smell of fresh coat of paint that greets us every time we come back to the house… 🙂

I believe we’ll be happy here – at least we’ll try… Right now, wearing my most-hopeful-foreign service-spouse hat… The only one I was able to fit on our suitcase… Yeap, the same suitcase I’ve been living out of, for the past 8 weeks… But, who’s counting, right? 🙂

Now, let me get back to checking on my 3 little ones – just heard some clapping, so, I’m assuming the movie outside-and-popcorn event just ended – will go hug my kids with the most thankful smile to the Summer Camp supervisors and organizers: they enabled this very busy mom to enjoy some quiet time (and a coffee!), while getting back on the blogosphere horse!

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