Thursday, November 29, 2007

3 months

2 posts in one day... oops.
today is samil's 3month birthday.

we took this the day we bought him home from the hospital... I guess he wasn't even "little" then, either

i took this picture today, he's got some more meat on his bones and he's 4 inches longer than when he was born.
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a day in the life...

so, we went to the supermarket last night with samil. we've been in and out of there with him various times since he was born, but this was the first time we went to make a serious purchase with him.

we found one of those carts with the baby seat attached and got samil as comfortable as possible in a hard plastic seat and headed out.

if i had to choose the one thing that most bothers me, it is when people give me unsolicited advice. from family and friends - i deal, but when random people stop me on the street to tell me things i get a little pissed off. especially when they tell me things that make absolutely no sense, predict some horrible fate for my son or when they try to touch him to "remedy" the problem.

so, we're in the supermarket. some women just stared at us. Samil's a hottie, of course people stare. but this one woman comes up to us and says, "you know, that baby seat will deform his back." thanks, crazy. and then another, "those seats are horrible for baby, why don't you carry him?"

seriously now. i've been told the same about my stroller, the snuggli, and a car seat. if these items were going to DEFORM my child, do you really think they'd sell millions each year? since i've never had a baby in the states, i'm not going to mark this off to "dominican" b.s. i imagine that strangers say ridiculous things every where in the world.

here are some things i've been told:

-- you have to bathe the baby twice a day and with cold water WHAT? Samil hates to take a bath even ONCE a day, let alone with cold water!
-- baby carriers will deform the spine
-- baby's head must always be straight, otherwise their head will be stuck sideways (or in whatever "non-straight" position it was in)... you know, an offshoot of "don't make ugly faces or it'll stick"
-- the baby swing just makes babies dizzy and can mess up their brain. what?
there are some other things too, like i should give samil formula because if something ever happens to his "milk supply" he needs to be "trained" for other milk, otherwise he will starve, we should never put samil in the bed with us -- even when it's freezing cold and we live in a country where heating is non-existant (not worth the effort, it's cold for like 3 weeks a year), nobody should be allowed to carry samil when he is sleeping because then he'll never sleep on his own (i have a champion sleeper and he very often sleeps in arms).
i just hope i don't turn into one of those mom's that has irrelevant, unsolicited advice for other mamas.

Monday, November 26, 2007

is it really almost 2008?

i turned 25 in may. 1/4 century old.
having all of the time in the world on my hands, i began to think of all the funny things i've done in 25 years. for lack of nothing better to do with my time... (i'm really just a super procrastinator)... here it is.

1. we went to an amusement park almost every summer that i can remember.
2. and we camped. mostly at the KOA Hershey.
3. i used to cry because i was too small for the roller coasters.
4. i first visited chicago the summer after 8th grade.
5. as a family, we went to disney world the summer after 7th grade.
6. i wasn't impressed.
7. during college i worked in youth ministry for an episcopal diocese in florida.
8. i also worked at their summer camp.
9. i went to CSC camp every summer from 4th grade on.
10. i worked there for two summers.
11. some of my best friends are from CSC. i miss it.
12. i also worked at a camp called ELMO.
13. my first summer there, this boy spent a lot of time hiding in our cabin. once, he had to cover himself in mud and army crawl back to his cabin to avoid getting caught.
14. he always got caught.
15. he drove a green convertible and my little sister loved him.
16. my family adopted my sister after her dad died.
17. next summer she'll turn 18. amazing.
18. i learned how to ski because of a tragic incident in our family.
19. we have a special "mountain skiing" song by a band called bullet.
20. the singer of bullet has a "special" piercing that i learned about at a young age.
21. we met the band bullet at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
22. we went to the folk fest every summer for a long time.
23. after we gave up on the folk fest, we went to the gettysburg bluegrass festival.
24. i was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper two years in a row.
25. we won a lot of awards.
26. i used to write really mean comments on people's crappy writing.
27. i appreciate good writing. i think i'm a good writer.
28. i've contemplated writing a book.
29. i studied abroad in mexico. it changed my life.
30. three of my closest friends live in mexico. i haven't seen them in forever.
31. that's why i love the internet.
32. on a mission trip to guatemala, i decided i would never be a foreign service missionary.
33. one year later, i became a "volunteer missionary" through the episcopal church.
34. i taught english, french, science and math in an elementary school.
35. that's where i met my husband.
36. in high school i was always in the school play/musical. junior and senior year i was the lead.
37. i like drama.
38. i lived with the same person for 3 years of college.
39. i'm not an easy person to live with.
40. we used to drink a lot. our college had a dry campus. it was sneaky drinking.
41. me and jae once climbed into the boys dorm window and almost got caught jumping back out.
42. there was frequent sneaking in through the back window to said boys dorm - no climbing necessary.
43. i cherish my college girl friends.
44. i had a neighbor whose name i didn't know for a long time - i called him neighbor. he called me philly. he was a good friend.
45. i knew a boy named stonewall. we went bowling together.
46. at all boys summer camps, the boys pee wherever they want. it's gross.
47. once, in england, i got in trouble for being late to the bus. the teachers were yelling at me for being slow and david was yelling at me for "listening to The Man"
48. Devin, who was in England with me, moved back to GB. i'm jealous. now she's engaged.
49. at camp on summer david let us dress him up as a Spice Girl. there was a lot of tape involved in his mini-skirt.
50. erin and i taught the male counselors to shake their hips. they were british and australian - i don't think there was any hope. but it was a good laugh.
51. that same summer, my brother and his friends stole all of me and dave's clothes, put them in a rowboat and anchored it in the middle of the lake.
52. me and dave had revenge. don't worry.
53. i celebrated my 21st birthday waaaay after my birthday.
54. i celebrated jae's 21st birthday in New York City.
55. I missed Ashley's 21st birthday celebration because I was pregnant (but it's okay, Ashley couldn't celebrate on her 21st becuase SHE was pregnant)
56. i moved permanently to the Dominican Republic in 2006.
57. i married amalio on april 9th, 2006.
58. on december 20th, i told amalio that i was pregnant.
59. i gave birth to my son on august 29th, 2007. i had a c-section.
60. i am currently writing a grammar book for EFL students and a pre-school curriculum for EFL students.
61. i love to celebrate american holidays. how patriotic?
62. i have seen more of the Dominican than most dominicans.
63. i am currently working with a neighbor to raise funds for a playground in our apartment complex.
64. i walk every morning with a different neighbor.
65. cara and emily make me happy to have american neighbors and friends. creepy skeevy american guy neighbor embarasses me.
66. for a long time we washed our clothes by hand, then in a japanese style washing machine and finally my parents bought us an automatic machine (for which we are forever grateful).
67. all of my clothes are dried on the line. even the undies.
68. i'm a procrastinator...

that's what i've come up with. it's supposed to be 100 things about me. but really. that's too much. 62 is perfect. besides, i have things i really should be doing -- like working on those curriculums and books.

have a happy week!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


eventhough we didn't "properly" celebrate thanksgiving here with a turkey and the fixings... in fact, i don't think we even mentioned the day here in the house (you get sick of people asking about turkeys... here people refer to thanksgiving as the "turkey dinner day" and have no clue what the day really means)
anywhos. eventhough there was no turkey -- we received a fantastic blessing a week earlier than we expected.

i was getting ready for work - brushing my teeth, pulling on my shirt and trying to quiet samil all at the same time. DING DONG DING DONG DING DONG. what? seriously. who rings the doorbell that many times. 30 seconds later DING DONG DING DONG DING DONG. good thing samil isn't really asleep.

run to the door to prevent further abuse of the doorbell. "Uh, I need to see Senor Samil A. please." right, buddy. i point to the baby swing, complete with whiny baby.

"no, not the baby. SENOR Samil A." yah, buddy, that's him. his pop's name is Amalio. what an idiot. i explain, slowly. he didn't get it.

we had to open the surprise package to prove that Samil A. really is a baby. and how did we prove it? looking at his brand spanking new AMERICAN PASSPORT! i must say, he turned out quite the handsome boy in his picture. we also received his Consular Report of Birth Abroad which serves as his american birth certificate.

after all the issues we had with the consulate, my lack of thanksgiving and general melancholy during this weekend, i must say this was just the pick-me-up i needed.

the only things left to do are have my dad call the airline and add samil to my ticket and to draw up the permission letter from amalio and have it notarized. (more on that in another post).

-----side note -----
if you haven't seen the new passports, they are pretty cool. much more patriotic than the old ones and seemingly more durable. (we'll see about that, though) i was very impressed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I might just be crazy...

but i think that this face

is the most beautiful

sad face

in the world...

and yes, i did provoke it.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

giving thanks...

tomorrow will be my first no-turkey thanksgiving. i was kind of sad when we made the final decision not to have a big thanksgiving dinner, but we've missed so much school this semester that neither amalio nor I could justify taking a day off - especially since i only teach one class twice a week outside of the house.

but, it's not about dinner - it's about giving thanks, and this year we have a lot to be grateful for. we'll have a small dinner (baked chicken, potatoes and veggies) and give thanks for our family and friends, being spared damage in hurricane season and so much more.

we hope that this thanksgiving you are able to give thanks for abundance of love and laughter and that you and your loved ones receive everything you need.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

good in the bad

sure, a lot of people died and a lot of people are without homes. i don't deny that. it's an election year, so of course the mud-slinging has begun. which political party reacted quickly? which party only did it for the votes? how much money has the president put in his own pocket from foreign aid? leptospirosis and dengue education took a backseat to rebuilding efforts - raising the number of deaths and lack of care incredibly (just what the country needs, more deaths). and guess what, it keeps raining.

but not all bad has come out of tropical storm noel. in the time of need, dominicans - rich and poor alike - have stepped up to help their fellow man. (yes, MAN, i don't use inclusive language). from booming factories to private offices, people have pulled together to care for each other. last night we attended mass at Nuestra Senora de la Altragracia - the patron "virgin" saint of santiago's church - and after we walked through the city to waste some time. in nearly every store, restaurant, church and institute, there were boxes upon boxes labeled for the damnificados (the "damned" or just victims of the storm). and the boxes were full.

the archdiocese of santiago held a clothing drive, the board of education held a canned goods drive, factory workers sumppumped homes for free, churches are hosting lunch nearly everyday. a friend of ours is replacing children's lost school supplies.

the government will soon begin to rebuild houses. life here will go back to normal, i guess. is it even possible to return to "normal" after living through such destruction?

amalio and i purged the closets and sent clothes to bonao - one of the hardest hit regions. after packing three boxes full of clothes, i realized that we have too much junk. i knew it before, but being the packrat that i am, i was waiting for... i don't know what to use the stuff. but it's time to move on. we're in the process of "cleaning house." yesterday we packed a huge box of construction paper and assorted school supplies to send to a special school that works with undocumented children and survives on donations. i don't know what else or rather how much we need to get rid of, but the act of packing the boxes is therapeutic.
tomorrow is family day at amalio's old school and we samil will attend his first ever birthday party for his 1year old "friend" genesis... i hope it stops raining!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

over, under & self medication

when i was in 6th grade my uncle died. really, he wasn't my uncle, he was one of my dad's best friends from childhood and was a pretty constant fixture in our lives when we were really small. he od'ed. and for some reason, my dad and i became active in the philadelphia AIDS walk and as i got older, i became more and more involved in the movement.
i was sure that i had all the answers and that if we could just make medicine affordable, we could obliterate the disease. afterall, if the damn drug companies would just cooperate, infected africans could buy their drugs for "as little" as one US dollar a day. what i didn't realize was how much one dollar really is.
amalio and i are blessed with an amazing, state-run medical insurance provided by the dominican government because amalio is a teacher in the public school system. all of my pre-natal care, emergency room visits and even my c-section and hospital stay were completely free. the only thing i paid was a measly $125RD pesos (about $4US dollars) for an ultrasound. the only thing our insurance doesn't cover are prescription drugs.
not a big deal right? amalio was diagnosed with salmonella yesterday and given three prescriptions. drugs here are relatively cheap compared with the US, afterall there is no FDA and there definitely aren't any big pharm-companies lobbying in the dominican government. even still, the three prescriptions would cost nearly half of our monthly income. and we're pretty comfortably middle-class citizens. i can't imagine the burden of buying drugs in a poor family.
The antibiotic cost $18RD pesos each, not to mention the other drugs (who knows what they were for? I wasn't listening to the doctor.)
Living here is giving me a better perspective on all of the things i thought i had figured out. okay, maybe we can get those damn drug companies to lower their prices to $1US dollar a day for AIDS meds, but even at that "low low" price, i'm sure africans who earn less than dominicans (generally speaking) can't afford even $1US for medication and still feed their families.
i'm not really sure what there is to be done about this... it's just something that is frustrating me and there is no real answer or solution.

amalio is sick, i was sick yesterday with a fever and general exhaustion. thankfully, samil is in perfect health (with the exception of a little diaper rash). we took this picture last weekend.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

turning over...

so, today i took samil to class - as i do every tuesday and thursday - laid him on his playmat, on his belly and went about teaching. about 15 minutes into the lesson, one of my girls tells me "teacher!! the baby is about to roll over!" and sure enough, i turned my head just in time to catch his first turn. i'm sure he didn't know what he was doing or what he did because upon landing on his back he began to wail.

he's also been holding his head up for longer periods of time, which is quite a feat considering the size of the poor kids head. he's in the 97th percentile for head size (42cm) and for length (64cm). He's only in the 63rd percentile for weight though, weighing in at a whopping 13pds.

my coworker and friend Emily returned to the states on friday morning because of some health problems - her face became paralized and nobody here could diagnose the problem. luckily it's "just" bell's palsy (as opposed to the earlier thought that she had a tumor). hopefully she'll be back in the country soon.

the city finally topped off the gaping holes in the street, inserted some grates and manhole covers and ... left the street exactly the same as they found it - or worse. the potholes are insane, you need a hummer not to bottom out. my favorite part of the new sewage system is watching all of the old men stand around the grates watching the water "disappear"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's that time of year here in the Dominican Republic... flashfloods, tropical storms, hurricanes... oh wait - no it's not. Hurricane season is almost over!!! In the three years that I have lived here, I have never ever seen this kind of rain so late in the season.
Early last week, tropical storm Noel wreaked havoc on central DR... not because of the winds that come with the storms, but because of the out of control flooding. Last count, there were more than 90 official, reported deaths.

Yesterday, we went to the supermarket with the baby. The sky was a little gray when we left and by the time we left the store, it was pouring. The street filled up so fast, but we braved it and headed out to pick up Amalio at school. The little rent-a-car my parents have barely cleared the rushing water... we could FEEL the water moving underneath of us.

There were a lot of backups and one huge detour. But by the time we got to Amalio's school, the rain had stopped and the streets were already clearing out.

I haven't been out to look at the mess on my street yet, these pictures are from one of the main highways in Santiago. Amazing.

The last picture is of my parents with Samil. They arrived yesterday and are leaving tomorrow. It's a short visit, but we'll be heading home in December for some more quality time with the family.
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Thursday, November 8, 2007


today we made our last trip to the consulate in Santo Domingo for Samil... at least we hope. His citizenship and passport application was accepted in the blink of an eye - and we had the nicest consul ever. She's the first "white american" we've met who speaks almost perfect spanish, which was great for Amalio. She explained everything to him, the benefits of Samil being American and even talked to him about how to get his visa. Finally, someone who was straightfoward and honest!

tomorrow my mom and dad arrive in santiago - it'll be the first time my dad and samil meet and my mom hasn't seen him since he was born. should be exciting. they're only staying for two days, but since i'll be home for nearly a month in december, it's okay.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Meeting Papa

Samil met his extended paternal family this weekend. Of course, Papa, Amalio's dad, was so excited to meet his fith grandbaby... and although he looks like a hardass in the first photo, he was even more excited to get a picture with all of them. We'll have to take another picture soon because my sister-in-law Caroline is five months pregnant. The trip to the "campo" in Cabrera was relaxing - a welcome change after my weeklong battle with the State Department. We took Samil to the beach and to "La Virgen de la Piedra," the Dominicans claim to fame as far as colonial catholicism goes. The story goes that the Virgin Mary "appeared" in the rock in a cave and that during spiritual time the rock "sweats" holy water in a "cave within the cave". Devout catholics travel from all over the country to pray in the chapel. Not something I really buy, but since it's close to the house we always take our tourist friends to see it.

Here are some pictures of Papa:

In front of the farming pasture with all 5 grandkids (clockwise: Reydi, Samil, Eddylee, Josue & Suheidy)

Papa with a sleepy Samil

My favorite picture of Papa playing with Samil during his diaper change.

more pictures

Samil, Suheidy and Josue... Samil is almost as long as Suhei and she's 2!

Reydi is my favorite nephew. He's so darn cute, cuddly and always entertaining. When I met him he was 2 and wouldn't eat anything that didn't come out of his mother's breasts. Thankfully he got over it. 2 years old should eat normal food.

Me and Amalio at the beach.

Samil at the beach - he accidentally got splashed by a wave and threw a fit (who wouldn't?) but other than that he liked the water on his little feet.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

and the saga continues...

i spent all morning trying to call the consulate here in DR. seriously, i thought the dmv was bad. or the post office. never before had i had to deal with the state department. i spoke to three humans - one of whom hung up on me, two who transferred me to someone's voicemail.

i'm getting seriously disillusioned with these people. what if something happens to me in an emergency? would they even care? i mean, if you can't answer the phone or return messages...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

about, oh, i don't know... three years ago, the city government tore up our road with every good intention of fixing it. (they never said WHEN they were going to fix it). at the beginning of this year, the work began with all of five men and a pickaxe. At that rate, it's obvious why the road still wasn't complete when NOEL hit us.

With the exception of our attempted trip to the consulate on Tuesday, we weren't able to leave the house on foot or in car until Wednesday afternoon... and on Tuesday the taxi had to pick us up three blocks away to avoid getting stuck in the mud.

The only cars that can get by this end of the road are trucks. Like the RICA truck and that red jeep, and they even have problems.

There are a fair number of big holes in the road just like this one, that I assume are something like a gutter leading to sewer pipes, but I'm just a girl - what do I know about those things? I could be wrong.

The red flag is "marking" the hole for drivers... however there's another even bigger hole filledwith water on the other side of the road that's not marked.

I'm actually excited about this city project getting finished because we are unable to leave the apartment anytime it rains more than a drizzle. I took these pictures on Thursday and the road was already fairly dry thanks to the new sewer pipes. In the past we would last a week with stagnant water and tons of mud.
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