Friday, August 29, 2008


one year ago today, samil came to us... a little late, but he's dominican and dominicans like to take their time. this year has been an adventure and i wouldn't change it for anything in the world.
happy birthday, little man!

samil's first day.
samil at one month.
samil at six months
samil in the please touch museum in july.
please touch museum, july.
samil invited some of his little friends over tomorrow for a pool party. i will post pictures then.


just a quick post to let you all know that gustav was friendly with us here in santiago -- heavy rains but really no winds or hurricane like activity.

however, please keep in your thoughts and prayers the victims of this same hurricane just a two-hour busride south from us in santo domingo all the way west into haiti.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

i forgot.

i had this really long post all written in my head. well, it wasn't that long. but it was formed. witty. something, i'm sure, about the stupidity of people or how much i'm bothered by something. but for the life of me i can't remember what it was.

samil is eating honey-nut cheerios right now because when amalio called from the store last night i forgot to specify no sugar. not that it's a problem to eat the honey-os occasionally, they're the only snacky food samil's got right now, so we're going to have a kid on permanent sugar high until the box is empty.

this is my last week of semi-freedom before my kids school program starts. that's not to say i've not been working, but i don't really consider teaching adults work. they do most of it, if they wanna learn they put in all the effort and i just have to try to keep it interesting. but kids? that's different and requires pretty specific, strategic lesson planning that i'm just not really fond of. class always goes better when its done, but doing it make me want to pull my hair out. one little hair at a time.

today consists of getting ready for my mom's visit. she arrives tomorrow - hopefully loaded with presents. because that's what i really love about visitors... that and i don't have to really change diapers for a week :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

clean house.

just some advice for the future...

don't rent an apartment on a dirt road if there are no screens on the windows.

i swear i sweep everyday. sometimes twice a day. and we live in the back of the apartment complex. i really feel for people who live in the front.

we've got nothing in the fridge. nothing. usually we have some condiments, at least. but the black-outs have been longer than normal - sometimes lasting 10 hours at a time, right in the middle of a very hot august. i don't really know what happened to the condiments, because they dont' spoil, at least not as fast as other foods. monday we're supposed to go to the market, but really it depends on how the light looks this weekend. no point stocking up on food that's just going to go bad.

this is normally not a problem - there's a small store just outside the complex that delivers everything we need. it's not the most cost-efficient shopping (but neither is letting everything rot) but my mom gets here on monday and when she sees an empty fridge she thinks we're poor. she and my dad have gotten better at that, but i know it's still worrisome for them. (even if it's not for us).

i've been super productive today and still have a few things to do, hope you enjoyed the pictures yesterday, there probably won't be more until samil's birthday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

por fin!

this was my morning...

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


in case you're wondering what happened to samil's sunday post... well, i don't have any pictures. that's right i'm a slacker.

and samil is getting his first molar. so he's not been a happy baby anyway. i mean, don't get me wrong, he's still cute as ever, but the screaming makes it hard to get a good shot. i think though that at the very least this first one is almost all the way through and we should have some time before the next ones.

right now, samil is throwing all of his toys out of the play pen one at a time. good thing i put like 600 toys in there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


so the neighbor's called a meeting. against the neighbor's association.

i had to teach so i showed up late to the meeting. imagine my surprise when i show up and the same old thief is ranting and raving about all the stuff he's done and what a great man he is. what happened?

well, nobody wanted to knock him down. this small group of neighbors who sits and complains and conspires behind his back didn't have the guts to tell it to his face. i stood up and took over the meeting, only to be verbally attacked by the man's wife and when all was said and done, we're in the same situation.

the thief (as i'll refer to him from here on) turned over the "records" for me. only because i threathened to call the police. normally here that wouldn't be a threat, but thief man knows that we know some of the higher-ups in the police department. the records look like those of a 4th grade student council and not a real adult organization. there are no receipts for anything he's ever told me (for example, how much the employees make, who has paid or hasn't or the supposed purchases of things for the complex) and no real proof of, well, anything.

so, i spent friday on the phone with some lawyers who would be in charge of coming to collect money and pay the bills. they charge 10% of all income, but after the meeting where everyone who swore they were "in this" stayed quiet, i think it's necessary to put this in someone else's hands.

i don't have the time to do it. nor do i have the face to knock on people's doors asking for money. that's not me. and the fact is we're still living without streetlamps or waterpumps. i'm just hoping that the owners of these "condos" - those who actually live here - will get their mess together to get a contract with the electric company soon. if not, we're giving it a month and looking for a house to rent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

old navy.

i love shopping. who doesn't really? i shop for anything. clothes, kitchen gadgets, accessories for the house, anything.

in fact, most of my vacation was spent in and out of stores eventhough i was almost broke. well, i was broke. but that didn't stop me from checking everything out. and buying some necessary things for the institute, some needed clothes for me and amalio and some little presents for our friends here.

its hard for me to shop in santiago. the clothes sold at reasonable prices are almost always in juniors sizes (you know, the odd numbered ones) and the stores with changing rooms are few and far between. i can't just buy a pair of 13/15 jeans and know they'll fit - especially in junior sizes.

so usually i save up and buy clothes when i head to the states.
i love old navy. i know my size and contrary to shopping here, i can just pick out my size without trying it on and 99% of the time it fits. and i loved old navy even more when they incorporated plus sizes into their actual stores and not just online. i go back and forth - and it really depends on the style of the clothes, but sometimes an XL is just a little too small and the 1x is too big.
(mostly this is due to boobs that are too big and clothes that are made for smaller chested women... even if they are fat)

but old navy was different. their clothes fit. and i loved that fatgirls in general could go to the "normal" store and buy their clothes along with everyone else.

but i went to oldnavy when i was home and, guess what, no plus size section. it was gone. no more fat people allowed at old navy. you'll see them in the supermarket, but the clothes they're wearing? they bought them from a catalogue or online... or somewhere else where "normal" people didn't have to see them.

that bothers me even more than the junior sizes here. because really, why should fatties be relegated to online shopping? are you scared of them?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

catch up

samil and michael at the rec.
samil loved the swings, liked the slides... and well, hated that time with went with jenney and bastian and some crazy was lighting (apparently intentional) fires in the baseball field.

samil and uncle dan watching fireworks after his first ever phillies game.

samil with his cousin samantha at the franklin institute.

samil in the please touch museum - this was the alice in wonderland exhibit. he's checking out what's going on in the tiny doors. he still hasn't drank the shrinking potion...

more pictures to come. we spent a lovely few days with my cousin jenney and her son bastian who flew in from chicago to see us. but there's tons of pictures of them. so it's another post altogether.
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super hero.

i've still not got any pictures to post, sorry, i'm such a slacker. samil is sitting on the floor eating peanut butter crackers, and i'm thinking about all the things i want to do today. none of which include teaching or doing laundry. both of which i need to do.

yesterday, our little group of "concerned neighbors" went with the lawyers to tell the neighbors association that they're out of business. but what? what was that? no neighbors association? we get to the president's house and he tells us that he gave it up a long time ago and only the a** that is doing the collection now is in charge. the lawyers are pissed. apparently it's illegal for him to collect money if there isn't a formal association, bla bla bla. so the coup d'etat was much easier than i thought it would be.

it might help though that our scary neighbor went with us. c and e always thought was like like in the dominican cia. he's huge and burly and once i started talking to him realized, uncharacteristically intelligent. his job in the coup?

he was the muscle. he stood there, pistol in holster (not an uncommon sight around these parts) and stared the man down. yep, just stood there and scared him out of his wits. i thought he was going to pee in his pants.

it turns out he stole more money than anyone imagined but there's no way to track it down since the "old" president of the association closed the official bank account more than a year ago. we'll start from scratch with a general meeting next week letting people know what's going on.

i don't know if i can wait that long for the water to come back.

Friday, August 8, 2008

unfair snobbery.

if you know me well, you know i'm mean when it comes to writing.

while it seems like i read anything - thats really just circumstantial. i've taken to reading a lot more in spanish lately because of the lack of substance in english. i mean, i recently read two "beach" books back-to-back. not that they were bad. it's just not my style.

i'm a little obsessed with paulo coehlo - a brazilian writer. and not so far from being obsessed with gabriel garcia marquez. neither are really new obsessions so much as a rekindled love affair.

that being said. we're trying to limit the tv time around here, because we don't want samil to grow up addicted to law and order like his mommy or spanish soap operas like his papi. so there's a lot more reading going on all around.

and as i've been looking for information on early childhood education, i've become a sucker for blogs about homeschooling (for the ideas, not the actual homeschooling... homeschooling moms tend to be more creative than anything i've found from actual "teachers").

and... well, i'm kind of a snob about what i read. somewhere deep inside of me i don't think that anyone who spells simple things wrong - constantly - should be teaching anyone. i mean... there's a rule for words like "Flies" and "cries"... and it's a simple rule. or, my favorite - plurals. how hard is it to spell witches instead of witchs. seriously?

i know it's not fair. and i try to keep reading, i really do. but not so deep down, i'm a snob.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


we still are fighting the neighbors association for the electricity problem - we had to kick the guy out of our apartment last night because he wouldn't shut up and, well, i told amalio that if he stood up to look down on me one more time i was going to punch him in the face.

we have since de-bunked all of his lies - the non-existant debt with edenorte (the electric company), the non-existant rule that we must have a proven income of $30,000 pesos a month in order to sign a contract and some things he said about the lawyers office who used to be in charge of the collection of maintenance fees.

so, me and some other neighbors are planning a coup d'etat. to say its difficult is an understatement - especially since we're dealing with (grand generalization to follow) a culture who is overwhelmingly afraid of confrontation. but, i think we're going to do it... and that it will be a proud moment for a lot of the "housewives" who are involved and have expressed concern that they "don't really do anything meaningful with their lives."

other than that, i've been crazy planning and promoting the institute.
i got offered a stellar job (with a stellar paycheck) at a bilingual school as the director of their elementary program - but i'm not ready just yet to leave samil with someone else... and i won't give up the institute to balance the time. so i told them no, sadly, since it's a job i think i would really like. (and obviously a really good opportunity)

we'll be up and running soon - especially now that we're all back into a routine, one that so far seems to be working much better than the semi-routine we had before i left for the states... but we'll see how it continues once i start teaching again...

i hope you all are having a great week, and i promise some pictures coming up - i just put the camera battery in the charger so i can get a video of one of samils new tricks. stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


i'm finally back in santiago - i say finally, but i've been here for 5 days now, but i guess i'm just finally getting settled in.

i arrived to a bizarre "this only happens in the 2/3rds world" situation. apparently the neighbors association cut off the general light to our apartment complex, so while we have our own electric in the house, there are no street lights - and worse - there is no central water pump pushing water through to our house. we have water, but not enough to push through for a real shower and doing laundry takes hours. i've been trying to figure out exactly what is going on, but everyone has a different take - but i figure that the lawyer from the association is basically robbing all of the "maintenance fees" and then blaming us for not paying. it's weird. and kind of funny. it should be resolved soon, i hope, but until then we're filling buckets.

our upstairs neighbrs had their roof repaired - which meant, i think, pouring sand and cement down into our windows, i mean onto the roof and then covering it with a new cap. and while i've been dusting since i got back, i'm glad it's finally done because when their roof leaked we got the residual effects of it and our walls leaked. not fun. but, it's rained everyday so far since thursday and we've got no water coming in!

so, the house is finally as dust free as it can be, our clothes are washed and put away - the only thing left is to organize samil's room - that for some reason is less than organized. i start classes again today in the house and am organizing and promoting the institute all this week in hopes to get some students. i haven't talked to the owners of the school i'm renting to see if our first "promotion" reaped a harvest, but hopefully i'll see her today to hammer out some details.

*** samil is trying to stick his entire fist in his mouth to get one little cheerio that is stuck to the back of his hand. i wish my camera battery were charged.