Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Açaí for children

Does anyone know whether it's okay for Sophie, my 17 month old, to eat açaí? I'm assuming here in Brasil it is okay as it's a fruit and eaten naturally rather than as a diet supplement....

It's so cheap here (one of the few things in Sao Paulo that is cheaper!) and I want to take advantage of it being so accessible. I eat it almost every day - with my granola, or in a juice mixed with banana or strawberry and always give Sophie a taste of it but haven't given her her own serving of it yet. 


Donations for Rio flood victims

I just received an email from the Brazil Foundation. I don't particularly love the idea of just giving money to charity but the Instituto da Criança is accepting in-kind donations at their headquarters in Rio so just wanted to pass on the message. I'm just checking with the SP headquarters whether they will accept in-kind donations here too - a very good reason to go through Sophie's clothes and clear out things she can't wear anymore!

You may have seen the sad news of the heavy flooding in Rio de Janeiro. Indeed conditions are dire, the number of casualties is still rising, hundreds have lost their homes along with all their possessions and many of areas impacted are still unreachable.

Our partner organization Instituto da Criança(Children's Institute) is working on the ground in affected areas to alleviate the immediate impact of this tragedy. And they need your help. Instituto da Criança (IC) is well positioned to deliver aid to the victims in Rio de Janeiro, as one of its core sponsored programs - Recicla Vida - is located in one of the most severely affected communities, Itaipava. The IC's own headquarters in Rio are serving as a drop-off location for in-kind donations.

IC's founder Pedro Werneck reports from Rio:

"We are mobilizing corporate and individual supporters to enable us to acquire a variety of vital supplies such as food, cleaning and personal hygiene products, refrigerators, stoves, clothing, mattresses - any useful items." 

Monetary commitments from the United States will be immediately applied toward the acqusition and delivery of emergency supplies; over the longer term, the facilities of Recicla Vida will need to be almost completely rebuilt - an apt metaphor for the lives of so many survivors in the region.

Please consider making a contribution online for the benefit of IC under the auspices of the BrazilFoundation at:

For more information, please call BrazilFoundation at 212-244-3663.

The Children's Institute or "IC" is an NGO founded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1994 dedicated to promoting social change and sustainable development through social entrepreneurship for the benefit of under-served children and their families. 

Thursday, 13 January 2011

My thoughts...

are with all those who have been affected by the flooding here in Brazil, and Sri Lanka and all our friends in Brisbane.

Life goes on so easily for those unaffected, for example, me complaining about having to stand in a queue for half an hour... I think if anything, times like these should make people, myself included,  think twice about what really is important in life.


I've never had alot of paciência but living here in Brazil has forced me to chill the f**k out! haha, I have to laugh at myself because I can get myself so worked up about the smallest things that really don't matter.... 
  • my nanny arrived 15 minutes late today when I wanted to go out and run some errrands. I asked her if there was a traffic accident and she simply said 'no, I was just delayed' and i irritated myself even more but saying 'sorry, i have to leave', why was I sorry?!!
  • traffic jams and taxi drivers saying they know where they are going and really have no idea (though I've heard Rio cabbies are worst, it's all relative right?)
  • none of the card machines were working at the Pao de Açúcar checkout yesterday so everyone had to queue to use the ones that were sort-of working. I didn't realise what was going on until I was ushered into the queue which took 35 minutes (of course I timed it). so irritated as I had cash!!
  • today i decided to go to Carrefour but of course the one queue I was in had another machine that didn't work!
But today me and Juliete, our babá, had cause to celebrate. We are her first job so we had to do everything from scratch - including registering her. I knew I had to pay INSS and when I worked it all out, plus backdated pay, and tried to pay it at bank they said they needed her INSS number. We were advised to go to a Posto Atendemento to register her but this was right before our month away in November so I asked Juliete to go and do it herself. When we got back it turned out I needed to go too (I found out today it was because I've signed her 'data de saida' - which is only when you fire someone!) but then Christmas came around, and then Juliete was sick for 2 weeks.

Yesterday we were advised that she needed a PIS number which we could get at the bank Caixa Electronica Federal. So we went today but were then told she doesn't need one - only people who work at a company need one but a domestic worker doesn't require one. The lady told us to go to a Posto Atendemento, or go on the website or call 135. Juliete spoke to the people on 135 and managed to register over the phone! YAY - half way there.

So now we have 24 hours to use her new registration number (like a social security number) so wish us luck. I have 8 months of backdated INSS to pay plus the fines whatever they are tomorrow at the bank. I will blog about all the nanny laws / websites / information I have collected over the past couple of months once this issue is closed - fechado!

An Italian Sunday afternoon

Tim read about the antiques market on Sundays in Bixiga so we decided to head over for a day with the Italians. We had spent NYE day in this area but town was completely empty and we found only one restaurant opened on Rua Avanhandava which was filled with real italians. The served big portions for sharing which was a perfect lunch for the all of us. Sophie is a big spaghetti fan.

Treze de Maio is about a 20 minute walk from where we are in Jardins, and we are never in a rush when the sun is out. There is a a building that leads down from Rua dos Ingleses (just opposite Rua Holandesa) filled with antique shops. The first one is our favourite with lots of art deco furniture which would look awesome by a poolside, old fridges which have been refurbished, funky lamps. Follow the stairs down and you will come out onto Praca dom Orione where the antique market is held every Sunday. It was a beautiful day and it wasn't crazy crowded (I assume because schools are still on holiday and everyone is still at the beach). Stalls sold all sorts of random things from junk to antiques, to CD's and dismembered dolls parts (random!) and even grass! When we eventually have a permanent home I would love to come down here every month and buy something random for the house!

Nap time was almost over and we found Cantina Roperto on Treze de Maio, 634 which is an old school restaurant with old time waiters. Our lovely man recommended our pasta dish to share - whatever it was we loved it, and Sophie too. Delicioso!! I love the idea, here in Brazil, of sharing lots of big dishes of pasta and meat - you get a taste of everything. Would love to come and do a big birthday dinner down here - comfortable and casual or loud and rowdy if you want (the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu was Rs 125 - most of the other restaurants we go to this is usually the cheapest!) and we could fit everyone in here, whom we've adopted as family. Will certainly be back - for my old record player and bowl of pasta!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Raising multi-lingual children in Sao Paulo

I'm a terrible chinese person but a perfect example of chinese kids growing up in western culture. I was born in New Zealand, to Chinese-Malaysian parents, and moved to Hong Kong when I was 10 years old. I wasn't able to enrol in a local school as my cantonese was non-existent so joined one of the British schools instead. Much to my parents dismay, learning cantonese or mandarin was not my focus as a teenager (!) and me and my sisters were bribed into having private tuition every Saturday morning.
My mother still continues to speak to to us in cantonese and I can understand about 80% but for some reason, I just can't form sentences in my head so it all just comes out in english no matter how hard I try!
I have spent my adult life regretting not making the most of learning cantonese or mandarin, when they were both readily available to me. I wish my parents were harder on me!! Now that we are living in Brazil we are really make a concerted effort to learn brazilian portuguese. We even use our basic vocabulary at home as well as in our every day life (only a few in Tim's office can speak English and our nanny only speak Portuguese) to try and ingrain ourselves in this language, and culture, as quickly as possible.
But now that Sophie is on the cusp of starting to speak it has started to raise the question of, with regards to languages, how do we approach her language development. Do we send her to a Portuguese only school or a bi-lingual school? Should we only speak english at home? Should my mother speak cantonese with her (since I don't use it)? Is it to her advantage to be exposed to lots of different languages?
I found this article on the Myths of Multilingual Families which was interesting. I think it depends on a variety of different factors... where you are living, for example, here in Brazil barely anyone speaks english so we would have to make a special effort at home. As much as I want her to learn brazilian portuguese, I would not want her to lose out on her english either. If she went to an english school here I could very easily see her losing her brazilian portuguese as her communication at school and at home (80% of her life) would be in english.
I would be really interested to hear from other families, particularly here in Sao Paulo or Brazil, about their approach on raising their children in different languages.