Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello. My Name is Michawn and I Am a Rugmaker.

So, what are we up to here back in Brazil? What are we doing with our time?

We've been here in Campinas for about 3 1/2 weeks. Seems longer, but it's true...3 1/2 weeks. The picture to the right is a shot of our neighborhood (a pic that I didn't take but robbed off the internet). The city of Campinas is a pretty big city. Population is over 1 million. There are TONS of things here that they just don't have in the central or north. Things like, I learned today...Wet 'n' Wild with a theme park next to it. Hello. :) We haven't gone or anything, but just a glimpse of how much more like the states it is the further south you go in Brazil. I'd always heard that, but am now seeing it firsthand. It's still very definitely NOT the United States, but sure does resemble it alot more than central/north Brazil. Very interesting.

Portuguese learning is going really well. What am I doing to learn Portuguese?

First of all, class. The language school I am attending was started by a lady whose son now runs it. He wrote the book on Portugese...literally. As in, he wrote the textbook that most people who come to Brazil use to learn Portuguese. It is an EXCELLENT program. The textbook itself is excellent, but when you take the course here at their school, you get even more...there are countless exercises that they have to help you learn and practice the language + just so much more as far as the help they provide, even just about living in another culture. Joel grew up here, but he never had to do any grown-up stuff here. Even though we've lived here for 3+ years, we learned a few new things just by reading their 'How to Make Brazil Your Home' handouts. :)'s been an excellent experience for us.

My teachers are excellent. I have class with Cassia (pronounced CASS-e-uh) first. She happens to be the daughter of the man who wrote the neat to see how this business and love for teaching languages has followed on through three generations. Then I have class with Vera who has worked as a Portuguese teacher for around 25 years. Lots of great information and tips they have. I definitely recommend this school/program for anyone finding themselves in Brazil. :)

Along with school, I needed some way to practice my speaking and hearing of Portuguese. Understanding everything your Portuguese teacher (student of languages) says is very different than understanding people in 'real life'...people who use lots of expressions and lots of slang and don't pronounce their words completely (the same as we all talk). And, then put those people in groups where they are all talking at once...yeah, I get lost really quickly. But, it's excellent practice for again, real life.

So, Cassia told me about something that lots of her students have done. There is a store where you can go and buy materials to make rugs (or anything that you want to make...could be just decorative things for the walls)...and then stay there to make your rugs and just gab!! Is that not the funnest thing you ever heard of? :) Just a bunch of ladies sitting around talking...and 'bordando.' Sorry...not sure what that is in English...some type of embroidery or cross-stitch I'm guessing just from the looks of it. I am NOT a crafty girl, but this I like. And...SO MUCH CULTURE in that place!! It kind of reminds me of that movie 'Beauty Shop.' Yes, I saw that. I do not remember if it was a good, clean movie or not (probably not the best), but I do remember that it's just so cultural...all the sistas (and the lone whitey) getting together and talking together. Loved that. Well, this is what it's like...just a different demographic. So so so so fun.

Those are the main things that I'm doing. But, along with those things, I found a Weight Watchers meeting walking distance from our house. So, once a week before I go to class, I go there. Another great opportunity to listen to how Brazilians talk. It's one thing to have vocabulary, but a way different thing to know how they put their words together and all the expressions they use. Plus, since I spent some time in Weight Watchers meetings there in the states, it's been fun to see the differences between Brazilian Weight Watchers (Vigilantes do Peso) and American Weight Watchers.

Sidenote: Expressions are such a huge thing. I was sitting with a group of ladies having lunch while we were in the states. One of the ladies was talking about her daughter and how she had a 'free ride' at the college she chose. I thought, man...if someone sitting at this table was in the process of learning English, they would not have any idea what that meant. Their thoughts would immediately focus on the next few sentences and trying to figure out how the ride was free and where she was being taken and who was giving her the ride. :) And then they would be totally lost because in the next few sentences those details wouldn't come and then by that point, they would have lost what had been said because their brains were trying to follow something that in reality wasn't ride was not about a ride in a vehicle at all. See what I'm saying? It's really helpful to be learning the expressions. :)

The other thing that I do is work out. I joined a little tiny gym that practically gave me the membership for free, also within walking distance. I spend about an hour a day there and as much as I really prefer to not socialize when I work out, it never fails that I get some practice in there too. :) So, it's good.

Learning another language is so interesting. I can't say that it's something that I would want to do if I didn't have to. If I lived in the states or any other English-speaking country, I'm sure I'd spend my time doing other things...unlike others I know who find it so interesting that they love to learn languages. It is fascinating though. And some say that you need a teacher that doesn't speak your native language. Hmmm...while I totally get their thoughts on that, I have to say that I really disagree. It has been so helpful to have someone who knows how to compare the two languages and be sure to point out the ways they differ and things to be careful about...explained in Portuguese of course. For instance, in English, when we say "Substitute yogurt for eggs" we mean that we are going to use yogurt instead of eggs. In Portuguese, it's exactly the opposite. When they say the very same phrase, they mean use eggs instead of yogurt. So strange to our ears and the way we process that phrase, but glad to know that very important detail. :)

A typical day for me looks like this...

We wake up at around 7am. I do homework and work out at the gym and then go to class at 10am. I have class with Cassia for an hour and then class with Vera for an hour. Then I go home for lunch. I eat and then do homeschool with the kids (we only brought math, handwriting, and a little reading with us) until around 3ish. Then I go to the 'rug place' until around 5:30pm. Come home, fix some supper, eat, get the kids ready for bed and put them down, shower, and then get a little down time with the hubby before going to bed at 11pm.

What is Joel doing? (Picture is of him making granola just a few minutes ago.) He spends some time corresponding with Asas via internet. He is also working on getting some of his licenses renewed and up-to-date. But, other than that, he is playing Mr. Mom...and doing the most incredible job I might add. He is nothing like Jack in Mr. Mom, except that he has a great sense of humor like Jack. Eissa had the big D this morning (after 'spilling' during the night last night...pray for our kiddos' health again, please) when I was about to walk out the door to class. I asked him if he wanted me to stay home instead. He said with a little smirk, "No, I want you to learn Portuguese...and fast." Hahaha. OK.

Another thing that Joel does is teach our kids Portuguese during the mornings. He speaks to them in Portuguese alot, reads to them, and they 'play' on Rosetta Stone (the kids call it the 'square game on the computer'). They also watch a couple of hours of cartoons/kids' shows in the afternoons and after only 3 1/2 weeks are already speaking a ton of Portuguese.

Funny story: We went to the mall the other night and left something there, but realized it before we pulled completely out of the parking lot. So, Joel just pulled in somewhere that wasn't the greatest of places so that he could run in and get it really quickly. Well, of course a security guard came over. I really, really didn't want to move because if I did, Joel would've never found us. So, I started playing the 'I'm a dumb American' card. I spoke a little Portuguese to him, but was hesitating in my words. I knew what words came next, but didn't want to say them. I was stalling. But...hilariously, Grady started finishing my sentences. Hahaha...thanks son. But, one thing that I said was that Joel had gone into the mall...and I was stalling to say 'to find something.' Then Grady busts out '...procurando...' I just started laughing. Thankfully, Joel came back to the car right then. But, I was very excited about Grady's abilities in Portuguese that had already returned. :)

So, back to the role-reversal thing...I did have to stay home the other day instead of going to the rug place. I have to say, I am not meant to be a non-stay-at-home mom. There are so many things that I'm not doing that I want to do here at home. But, so glad that as soon as I have this Portuguese thing down, I can do that again.

OH...and Cassia is in her early 30s...she is not pregnant, but is just thinking ahead. On the first day of class when I was explaining to her who I am and one of the reasons I need to learn Portuguese (other than the obvious one...that I live in Brazil...hahaha), she said that she wanted to be my 'first student' in the Bradley Method. I was excited about that, but didn't really think much of it just yet. A few days later, she told me again that she wanted to meet with me about that...and that she would help to translate what I needed to translate. Hello!! Huge!!

Of course, the problem was that I hadn't brought any of my Bradley stuff with me...didn't think I'd need it. But, some great new friends of mine (that I took the Bradley instructor course with) are scanning it for me and sending it my way a bit at a time. Where there's a will, there's a way...or, when it's God's will, He makes the way. :) So, I'm really super excited about it. Not sure that it will actually count as my 'first class,' but at least things will get translated, I will get practice teaching, and the first Brazilian will learn about the Bradley Method with me. She will do great...she is already very naturally-minded and does not want a c-section when the time comes.

So, there's a look at what is going on around here from day-to-day. And, here's some more to look at.

This is the rug place. You walk in and are greeted by the buzz of busy, talking ladies. So fun. The lady in the blue-green outfit is the co-owner, along with her sister.
See all those pretty rugs? After that front room, you can turn and go up a few steps to the big room that is always full of visiting, 'rugging' ladies.
They were like, "Oooh, we're going to the United States?" Hahaha. They were laughing the whole time. They had to fix their hair and make sure their clothes were just so before I started snapping shots.

Hahaha...they were just cuttin' up so much...and cracking me up. They really are so interesting and funny. Love to hear them talk...everything from their families and houses to, of course, the latest novela (soap opera). Hahaha.
My welcome mat that will go on the wall instead of on the floor. Again, not crafty. Lots of time will go into this...ain't nobody gonna be wiping their nasty feet on my hard work.
And a few of the kiddos. Grady, mid-cough.

Bubble wrap makes a great veil, did you know that? Hadley promptly made herself one, said she was married, and Grady stepped up to the plate to dance with the bride.
Our first weekend here...we went to a little zoo very near to to the public and in a really nice, pretty park.

Good ole sugar cane juice.


Kecia said...

I finally got a new computer... i'm back in the blogging world!Ha!
So glad to hear about your news! SO HAPPY!Mom and i really missed here! :)
And a funny fact: Youe teacher has the same name as my sister... Cassia! Cool, mom laughed so hard! She said that i good to know that there other people that shares her rally good taste on names... Ha! Enjoy the new city!

Haley said...

I sooo want to come make rugs with you! Sounds like so much fun. And I don't even blame you about hanging that on the wall rather for feet-whiping. :)

Angela said...

so glad you guys are healed and healthy! it's great to hear about your class, excersise and family time routine... sounds like a good time to be able to recharge and make some good investments for the long run (language... healthy body... rugs..:)

have a great day!
we love and miss you

Ali said...

Sounds like your in just the right place to really learn the language! Such a cool idea about joining the rug ladies group! Awesome your teacher is interested in Bradley! Way to go to Joel for helping hold down the fort and teach language to the kids while you are in your classes! Sounds like this is a very purposeful season for you and the family! :) Please take those sweet kids to "wet and wild" while you are in that area! Love and miss you!

O.M.G. said...

man, do i love posts like this. thank you for making Brazil feel so real to me as i sit in my living room. what an interesting life you guys are living. learning from you makes MY life more interesting. so, thanks! and keep it up!