Rio is coming to Toronto

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.
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My in-laws are arriving tomorrow from Brazil... specifically my MIL and my SIL.  I am so anxious. This will be the first time my SIL is meeting Stella and the second time my MIL will meet her (only after being here for her birth).

Why am I so anxious?? I just really really want them to enjoy themselves here... and obviously they will. More than that, I want them to enjoy themselves so much that they decide to move here. It's already a plan in the making... but I hope this trip seals the deal. It's the biggest thing that pulls us back to Brazil. Although, to be honest, the longer we are here, the further away life in Brazil seems and the more hopeful our outcome in Canada becomes.

We're working hard to keep Portuguese a huge part of how we communicate with Stella. We are trying to introduce her to Brazilian food (well, for now only feijão preto (black beans)). We listen to Brazilian music. We ideally would like to visit Brazil every year for a month and have Stella spend summers there eventually.

Frankly, I just don't want to go through moving again and starting our life from zero again.

If we ever did move back one day, it would have to be done right. We would take our furniture, have a place ready for us, have jobs lined up. No more deciding to move and selling everything and hoping for the best. That was fine when it was just the two of us, and even then it kind of sucked.

We're doing ok now. Things are still tight, Ro still works a lot, but we have a place in a wonderful neighbourhood, surrounded by several good friends (with babies the same age as Stella), tons of Greek immigrants (I love this part of our neighbourhood) and things are finally starting to feel permanent. That's a huge piece that has been missing over the last 4 years or so.... replaced by other new, wonderful life experiences of course.  I can't say Ro and my life together hasn't been exciting. In fact, that's all it's been.

I never want to lose that part of who I am. I find myself eavesdropping on Brazilians speaking on the subway. Occasionally I speak to them... Stella is my conversation starter and luckily Brazilians love love love babies so I'm not just a weirdo. I like to think of myself as a mentor, an advocate, a link for Brazilians visiting Toronto. I want them to know I understand them and I am searching for a connection. Unfortunately, as I usually found in Brazil, it's difficult to connect with Brazilians beyond small talk. But that could have something to do with the venue.... it's hard to really get to know someone in a 7 minute subway ride.

Anyway, I took advantage of the time Stella is sleeping as well as search for a distraction from cleaning my house to write this blog. I am cleaning like a maniac, a mania I definitely brought home with me. And since I know my MIL will be wiping her fingers along the top shelves (I kid) I better get my toothbrush and get back to scrubbing. At least I know I will have an expert to help me for the next 5 weeks and that's nothing to complain about!



Can You Find a Story In Your Own Country?

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Filed under: , ,
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Things are good. Life is moving along well. Events are happening as they should. The biggest political news is that our Toronto mayor may or may not have done some cocaine and they've been talking about it for about a month.

In other words, nothing is happening.

That's one of the hardest things I find about living in Canada again. Where are the stories?? Where is the craziness?? The daily adventure?? Mildly interesting adventure?

Bah. Everything is just normal and fine. Why is that a bad thing?? It's not at all. It's a great thing. What I pined after during our time in Brazil. Cursed Brazil's ridiculous bureaucracy! Why is everything so slow?? Strangers so inconsiderate and self-interested?? Why is this person walking incredibly slow on the street and this one running making it impossible to walk down the road in a straight line??

It's just that having learned to cope with so many challenges makes anything that doesn't infuriate me seem just boring in comparison. And on that note, I am just so much more patient about life in general anyway that I don't really let little things get to me. And so life comes across as boring.

Even teaching English isn't quite as dynamic as it once was, most likely because I am teaching at a school, in a classroom and I have the same students every day. Don't get me wrong. It's not at all boring and I still love love love teaching (God I love teaching) but instead of hitting the streets and moving around the city everyday, I am tied to a single classroom. Also, I'm not the different one. They are. I am just like everyone else they see.

On a super interesting note, however, teaching mixed nationality classes is so incredible and tests my full potential of pronunciation teaching abilities. In one class I have Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Brazilian and Russian students who all have different language interferences and pronunciation difficulties. It's a linguistic nerd's dream.

So my challenge is to open my eyes up to some interesting stories in my own country. They are there. Especially now that I'm teaching Asian students, who are lighting up my life. They are the sweetest people... so friendly and kind and respectful and, on top of it all, great students. To think, I was so nervous about teaching them because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to connect in the same way. Maybe they wouldn't understand my sense of humor? But they do. They all do. And they are hilarious too.

But the highlight of my day? After work, walking about 15 minutes to the daycare where I leave Stella and seeing the excitement and joy in her face when they bring her around the corner and she sees me there to get her. The minute she's back in my arms with her big gummy smile (well, 2 little teeth now!), bouncing up and down, practically bursting with happiness .... well it's incredibly cool and makes it worth it to leave her for those hours just to feel reunited with her.

Because really, Stella is my story. My craziness. My daily adventure.

For my friends who aren't living abroad... how do you find adventure in your regular daily lives? For my expat friends... even after you're used to things, do you still find your guest countries exciting and adventurous? 

The Next 2 Weeks and I Heart Rio Metro

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
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 News!

  • I am graduating in 2 weeks from my TESL graduate program
  • We are moving to our new apartment over the next 2 weeks (it's a several day process)
  • I am doing a substitute teaching job for the next 2 weeks
  • I have 2 interviews lined up over the next 2 weeks
Oh, what? Did you notice a pattern there? YEAH. The next 2 weeks are gonna be crrrrazy up in here.
I find teaching 'letters' is a good place to start
The job situation is going to be interesting. It's my first time teaching in a proper school, with multiple nationalities in the same room.  A whole new challenge. Plus, it's teaching English to people with a whole new reason for learning. They are in survival mode, on vacation, temporary, and usually young.

Interesting observation... It was the first time I had taken the subway again since being back in Canada. It felt so different than the metro I had become so familiar with in Rio. One glaring difference was the lack of elderly, pregnant, and disabled people who are frequently seen on the Rio Metro. In Toronto, it's mostly 'yuppies' (Young Urban Professionals, for anyone unsure), and students, and throw in a few immigrants.
Yuppies like: cars, briefcases, cell phones, calculators, magnifying glasses, and neck pillows.

I watched everyone deep in their solitary snobbery, as they stared at their phones and read their E-readers and iPads (because nobody is afraid to pull these out here) and I felt really out of place.

Maybe it was the sheer LACK of people, the reasonable speed of the train, the abundance of seating (har har), but I felt somehow disconnected to this subway. Did I feel 'connected' to the Metro in Rio?? Well, yeah, I kinda did. I took that train everyday, several times a day. Same with the bus. I was super super familiar with the transit system in Rio, more-so than any other transit system in any other city I've ever lived in. The nature of teaching English in Rio meant that I was constantly on the move, travelling from class to class throughout the day.




Oh, the charm of physically not being able to fit inside...


















It was a special kinda relationship I had with that transit system - plus I've never sweat like that for anyone before! There was no shame between me and the seats on the bus, that's for damn sure. But I digress.

So, I'm kind of hoping to reclaim that ownership over the transit system in Toronto, since we will be moving back there into our own apartment! (More on this in another blog, but HAPPY DANCE!) Now that I'll be manoeuvring the city streets with Stella sans car (Ro will be taking the car to commute to work) it's time I got comfortable once again with the busses and subways.

My only hope is that people are courteous enough to give up their seats when I'm with her, like they would do in Rio. I hope they can look up from their tunnel vision long enough to notice us....

My Daughter Is 'that' Kid

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
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Stella is officially 'that' kid. The kid that people roll their eyes at when she arrives. The kid that people are whispering about when I walk in the room. The kid that makes everyone say her name like this "Steeeeellaaaaa", where their voices rise at the 'e' and fall, with annoyance, at the 'a'.

They don't like her in the child-minding at the gym. The other day one of the people at the front desk asked me "How's Stella? Is she still... y'know..." I filled in the blank and said, "Sketchy?" Because frankly, that's kind of how she acts. I really hate to say that, but she's so clingy and particular about who is holding her and how they are holding her and on and on that it's just plain crazy to me.

But, still, nobody talks about my baby that way.

I get mad when they act annoyed and frustrated with her. They are with her all of one hour (if I can even make it to an hour before they come and get me, which I have only done once). I have been ignoring their passive aggressive comments that place blame on me (ie. She's so spoilt! Do you hold her all the time? She's never away from her mommy, that's why she cries so much. You need to bring her out more. Don't you exclusively breastfeed her?? (when I pull out formula) Does she sleep in a crib at night? What? She sleeps in your bed?? She's so spoilt!) And on and on.

One girl, upon hearing I use cloth diapers to reduce garbage, said, "Oh, are you one of those environmentally conscious people?"

???? Since when did that become a bad thing to taunt me and my baby with?!?!

But the final straw happened last Thursday. I came in to see how things were going and I saw the witchiest lady of them all dangling Stella with her arms wrapped around Stella's chest. Stella was, obviously, crying and the lady was rolling her eyes,  making this totally irritated, mocking sound in response to Stella's tears.

I finally flipped. I ran to her saying, "She's definitely not going to stop if you hold her and talk her like that!"
"What??" asked Witchy Witch.
"She's not going to stop if you hold her and talk to her like that!"

Witchy didn't like that. She began arguing that she had bouncing her back and forth between contraptions but she still wouldn't stop crying. "I can make every one of these kids stop crying, except for her!"

For a split second I didn't want to argue about it, but then I had a moment of clarity. I had to tell this bitchy know-it-all off.  Because that's what is really making me upset about going to the child minding. Everyone in there has an opinion about what I should or shouldn't be doing, and how I am doing all of those things wrong.

Newsflash. Everyone is doing everything wrong, all the damn time. Is my baby dead? No. Starving? No? Then we're ok. In fact, you're the one who can't get her to stop crying... when I hold her, watch her tears miraculously stop. Or not. Because that also happens all the time too.

So, in case you are in doubt, or are not sure about what you are doing wrong as a mother, father, or a potential parent, please follow this hilariously accurate chart that my friend Sarah just sent me:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/una-lamarche/how-to-be-a-perfect-parent_b_2888253.html  




So, in case you are one of these judgy people, just stop. Stop all the judging of mother's out there (unless it's like a clear case of this person is a crappy parent). Everyone is trying to do their damn best and my suggestion is this: If you would do it differently, then do it! Do whatever the hell you want to do and stop judging me.

Thank you.

How to Find an Apartment in Toronto and Not Kill Yourself

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Sunday, March 17, 2013.
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  1. Find the apartment you like with ease (by checking multiple websites). 
  2. Call the landlord and schedule a time to see it. Weekends and evenings are normal and preferred visiting times.
  3. Decide you like the apartment and tell them you want to apply.
  4. Provide your SIN number so they can do a credit cheque, fill out an application (stating what you do), show some proof that you are working, give a cheque for the last month's rent as your deposit.
  5. Live in apartment. 
This is the way apartment renting SHOULD be. Please see my post about renting an apartment in Rio without killing yourself.

Sometimes I have to admit that I am super grateful we are in Canada. 

If you can't beat 'em, live there

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
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A lot of people tell me they are jealous of my adventurous spirit. I don't mean for that to sound cocky... it's just that that's what people say. I think most people who haven't done it think it's a glamorous lifestyle. In some ways they're right - travelling and living abroad obviously has it's appeal, otherwise why would people do it? There is the challenge and excitement it adds to the mundane-ness of everyday life. The downside, however, is that you never really feel completely at home in any given place. Especially for those people who are divided by more than one country with family.

I spent a lot of time thinking about all the great things about Canada while I was living in Brazil. And now I still do the same thing, only I am thinking about Brazil. I really try to keep things in perspective - I know that there are several factors affecting my happiness at the moment. It's winter (that will never end); I live in my mom's house in the basement; I am not teaching English; I have a newborn baby and don't sleep a lot. Many things at the same time that make it difficult to look on the bright side of things.

But, the big difference is that, when we were in Brazil Ro always told me that if I wanted to go back, we could. I always said no, it's not time yet. I'm not ready to leave. I haven't finished what I needed to do (whatever that was). Well, here I obsessively think about going back to Brazil. I think about all the things I wished I were doing right now - teaching, yoga outside, running on Praia de Botafogo, going to the beach, looking at the Cristo, looking at mountains, walking everywhere, being close to a bigger family, spending time with friends in Brazil, speaking Portuguese, being challenged by daily life, eating pao na chapa, raising Stella there.

I think a lot about raising Stella there. Brazilians are definitely much more open and accepting of children as a part of society. They are not inconveniences, they are not just children. They are future adults, members of society. She would be a part of a bigger community of people who stop just to talk to you because you have a baby. She would speak Portuguese, for sure. She would also speak English, for sure. She would be raised in the Brazilian community and learn the art of modesty and of valuing belongings. She would also have an equally strong Canadian and English upbringing. I don't know how strong the Brazilian in her would come through living here. I don't know. That's the thing.

I just don't know. I have so many questions. There are so many 'what ifs'. What do I do? Can someone tell me what the right choice is? If we went back, we would have to do it right. We would bring our belongings instead of imagining we could somehow afford them there. We would have enough money for a down payment on a house, ideally. Knowing what we know now... we would do it differently. But I think it's what we want. I think it's what would make us happiest. How odd... I was so unhappy for so long in Brazil... things only shine clear once you're out of the situation, I guess. I see now that I finally beat Brazil, it didn't beat me. And once you beat it, it's hard to leave it... so you might as well just stay.

Top 10 Things I'm Grateful For Right Now

Posted by Lindsey Costard on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
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Today has been a frustrating day. Stella woke up every 2 hours last night starting from the time I slept (midnight) until the time I finally got up (noon). There comes a time where sleep is futile and I should just get up instead of convincing myself I'll feel better after one more 'nap' (because night sleeping generally now consists of 3-5 'naps').

So, I could use this blogging opportunity to complain about how it just took me one hour to get Stella to sleep (after trying to put her down 3 times, and each time she woke up the second I removed my arms).

But I won't.

I really need to use this time to reflect on what I'm grateful for, under my current living circumstances.

  1. Baby spinach. I eat baby spinach at every single meal. How did I go three years without you, BS??
  2. My car. I've mentioned that I never ever thought I'd say that in my life, but I also didn't imagine I would be back living in my hometown, Suburbsville, where walking is impossible because 'blocks' are like, 20 minutes apart. So thank you, Car, for frequently allowing me to leave the house with Stella.
  3. My (soon-to-be) free gym membership. Discovered that if I volunteer 15 hours a month in the child-minding at my gym, I get a free membership for myself and Ro, plus free child-minding AND free tanning! Uhhh.... yes, please?!?!?
  4. My (soon-to-be) completed diploma in TESL. I love being back in school. I love teaching English. I love linguistics. I LOVE IPA transcription. I love being a giant nerd.
  5. The song "Afternoon Delight". Because it's on the radio right now and it's hilarious.
  6. When Stella sleeps or laughs. Over the course of a day, those are probably the biggest accomplishments... putting her to sleep especially.
  7. Rodrigo. All day. Every day. My dear husband gives me joy, makes me laugh, and takes care of me every single day. We have always said that we would never say "I can't live without you" kinds of phrases because they are too needy and dependant and we, of course, could physically live without each other. But there are no words to describe how much better my life is with him in it, and how deeply grateful I am for him. 
  8. I'm gonna go ahead and say when Stella sleeps again because it just deserves to be on here twice. Love my baby! And love her even more when she's sleeping.
  9. Cheap concert tickets. To bands that I like. I just discovered this amazing (Canadian) band and bought tix to their next show for $30... What!
  10. How sad is it that I'm running out of ideas. I'm going to repeat Rodrigo again for another reason. He is totally open-minded about everything, but at the same time grounds me when I start floating into crazy-idea-worlds. Any wild suggestion I make (especially about where we should live) he is always on board. Even if that suggestion is the Middle East (what!).  I love him.

Well, that wasn't my best list but it did make me feel better so tra-la-la. I will leave you with another video of the song that has stolen my heart the last few days. By the band mentioned above, they are covering another great Canadian artist.