Friday, October 31, 2008


some of my students. about 10 didn't come to the party.
don't worry, we only put samil in that costume for the pictures. it was HOT.

making mummies.

apparently samil loves apples. he ate three that day.

bobbing for apples

this girl never stops laughing.

pin the nose on the jack-o-lantern

and back to regular scheduled programming...

we're raising samil bilingual. i'm no expert on bilingual children at all, and to be honest, i probably didn't do all of the crazy research that most parents do before they decide to do something so big for their children.

for us, it's a necessity that samil is completely fluent and literate in two languages. there's really no option. it's not just some fun thing that were are doing to, say, enhance his brain activity or raise his math scores or make him more "worldly."

he is a bi-cultural child with grandparents that are unilingual. all of them. i mean, obviously we will enjoy the benefits of having a child who speaks two languages, the added boost in his academics from the supposed increased logical and critical thinking ability.

that all said.

i cannot imagine trying to raise a trilingual or quadralingual (is that the right word?) kid and expecting him to be fluent in all.

i'm tutoring some kids right now that study in english. play with their friends in spanish. and there mom is just a little concerned that they're not fluent in korean. seriously?

you're raising your children in a spanish speaking country, send them to an english only school... they spend 8 hours in school, 4 hours in afterschool... not to mention the time they spend with me... and you are upset that they don't speak your language?

how much can you really expect from your kids? can you push them so far to make them learn? or are you really just setting them up for failure?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

and while i'm at it...

i've heard from a few people - in philly, in chicago, and in some other largely african-american cities - that if obama doesn't win we're going to see some rioting, a la rodney king.

obviously the people with these ideas are white.


do you really think that the entire african-american population is so stupid? so unrational? that there will be RIOTS because a black man doesn't win? really?

barack is also supported by millions. yes, millions of white folk as well. latinos. asians. so why. why in the world would we just look to one part of the barack-loving population to cause violence?

this is what i hate about this election. it's what i hate about america. that everything still revolves around race. oh, it's hidden. it's hidden real good. but it's still there, make no mistake. white people hate black people. black people hate white people. white people hate latinos. latinos hate black people. black people hate latinos.

and the circle goes on and on...

i'm just scared it's never going to change. no matter who is president.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

i know what i said...

i'm completely aware that i said i was done with politics after my post a few weeks ago. i'm sorry. but i'm a little pist off about the attacking that's going on -on both sides.

but ... i expect it from uneducated, immature idiots. people with some (highschool?) education, a little bit of life experience and some sense of respect for others should be able to discuss the upcoming election in a civil manner.

can't we just trust that people can make their own decision instead of jumping down their throats? i don't really care if sarah palin is ugly stupid just because you tell me so. i want some informed information about the situation. not lies. not mudslinging. not pure petty, childish, bullsh*t.

so. i think i might have to unplug the tv and internet until wednesday morning and just hope for the best.

that all said. i already voted.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


here's the thing... i'm not one for making excuses for people. but i think there are explanations for things that happen, the way some people live and a lot of times, a need for a solution. not just complaining. or criticizing.

recently we've been bombarded by some more "comfortable" friends with questions about why we would work with poor people and not create some high class educational establishment... because you know, poor people don't appreciate anything, they just want to take advantage of other people's goodness.

in fact, the owner of the school i rent space from gave me a huge lecture about how dominicans just want to be handed everything. how they don't want to work. bla bla bla.

poor people have too many babies. poor people don't like to work. poor people expect to be given to without given. poor people don't educate their children. poor people are useless.

it's sad to me that we actually have to defend this.

it sucks to be poor. it sucks to have nothing. and it, i imagine, is quite easy to make a lot of excuses about how you deserve something because you're poor. but, not all poor people are lazy. in fact, in my limited life experience, i find that there is a small population of lazy poor people. a lot of undereducated poor people, down on their luck. but lazy? i don't think so.

it's frustrating that money and greed fuel life. that if we continue to work with poor people we're never going to be rich. which in turn probably means we're never going to be happy. because you know, money = happiness.

we don't really even try to defend our work. we don't argue either, because frankly there are some things that don't deserve a response. we just remember that although we might never be swimming in cash, we're making a difference and that's what is really important.

Monday, October 27, 2008

ch-ch-ch changes...

it's been a few days since my last posting, but no worries. everything is fine here.

we've been making some changes around the house, the business and just doing some in general cobweb cleaning of routines and such. moved some furniture, organized the closets... revisited the idea of painting our room a million times.

the big change?

we've decided that samil is going to go to daycare a day a week. ::gasp:: it's a hard decision, but one a necessary one for a ton of reasons. now, the reason i haven't been back to work fulltime is because of this daycare situation and actually finding a place we like and agree with philosophically has been quite difficult.

i posted about it before, i think. i don't believe the children in "school" before the age of four are any more intelligent, any more stimulated, any more creative than kids who enter school in kindergarten. and in this country there is a school frenzy. it's kind of counter-cultural to the "who cares about education" mentality, but it exists none the less. "pre-schools" offering classes to 1 year olds exist. they sit the kids at a table, give them a crayon and mostly stifle any creativity that might have blossomed in the potential educational environment. there are few schools that actually understand the way children learn - through play and pretend - and most that do are SUPER expensive.

but. that said. we'd not been able to find a daycare. school, yes. a stimulating, fun area with responsible adults and no classes? not so easy to find. however, we did the impossible and found one. with a nice owner who is understanding to our situation, won't charge us a month's "tuition" (for lack of a better word) for 4 days and is 100% daycare. not school.

we need samil to learn to socialize with other kids his age. he's great with adults and older toddlers, but not so good with other babies. i also need time to clean the house, because as samil gets older it gets harder to do everything i need to do, plan for my classes, run the business and keep him entertained. and in this sliding economy i'm not really able to give up any of my classes at least until after christmas when we've got some money stashed in the bank.

so. he starts next week, hopefully. i've got to go back and check the place out one more time before we make anything final, but i'll be sure to keep you all updated how things go.

Monday, October 20, 2008

clothes pin crisis.

we hang out clothes to dry for two reasons: one, we don't have a dryer. but two, even if we did, it's hot here all year long, and sun dried clothes are delicious. (yes, that's right, delicious.)

you might know that we live in an apartment. you might know that our neighbors have a crazy cleaninglady/nanny. and the entire apartment building has the right to hang clothes on the roof. there are about 15 clothes lines - supposedly enough for at least a few families to do their laundry at once, right?

well, when crazy nanny washes she takes over the whole roof. we still havent' figured out how. both neighbors AND their daughter wear uniforms all day. and mostly the re-use the same clothes in the afternoons for at least two days. people, underwear does not take up that much space!

instead of changing the sheets - replacing the dirty with different, clean sheets - she takes the sheets and washes them. every OTHER day. and the comforters. and the curtains. i really don't know why. it's kind of wasteful, but she's not my employee so i don't really get into it.

but. yesterday amalio did laundry. a lot of laundry. like everything i haven't washed in a week and a half. and sheets. and the comforter. and samils bedstuff, too. now, we just bought clothespins LAST WEEKEND. 75 of them.

somehow, he ran out of pins. i don't know, on top of the 75 new pins we had quite a few old ones.

so he goes to the neighbors and asks to borrow some of their pins. she pulls out her little gallon jug of pins only to find out she's got about 20 left. from a jug that was full about two weeks ago.
next neighbor. same problem.

apparently we have a clothespin thief. i don't want to point fingers, but i'm pretty sure it's the crazy nanny. why?

because she's a nut.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

the mundane.

i'm off my soap box for awhile. at least the one i like to stand on to shout across the internet.

samil is in his crib, absolutely refusing to take a nap, but it has been such a long day i just need him to at least be calm. and he is. he really is a good baby.

saturdays are long for me, it's the only day of the week that i work a "full day" - and by that i don't mean eight hours, i mean i wake up early and don't finish until 5. it's all broken up with like one hour classes, but its a pain.

and by the end i pray that samil takes a nap. but most of the time he won't.

so i put on the annoying discovery kids shows that i hate and throw myself on the couch.

probably shitty parenting, but sometimes it just needs to be done.

private school.

i mentioned the over-priced private school that most ex-pats send their kids to here in santiago.
when i was writing about how expensive it really is, it piqued my interest and i headed to their webpage to check it out.

we have plans to send samil to public school. what? yes, public school. because we believe that education happens more in the home and that the responsibility falls on the family more than on the state. and that school should really just reinforce what happens at home.

now, if you believe the state is responsible for every facet of the education of your child, public schools in the dominican republic are not where you want to send your kids. the country recently just scored dead last in a study of central, south and caribean american school systems. it says that students lack logical thinking skills and are the least prepared for the real world than any other nation.

cuba and argentina are at the top of the list. venezuela is pretty high up there, too. in fact, even haiti is above the DR.

but, there is a disconnect somewhere. a lack of understanding on both sides as to what education is. the schools say that those logical thinking skills come from home. and so do moral values and beliefs. families say, that no, those skills need to be taught in school. it's a pass off that is killing the future of the country.

there's something to remember in all of this though - that same cultural disconnect happens in private schools. most of the time, the very same teachers who teach in the public school spend at least one tanda (school here only lasts 4-5 hours, most teachers have two jobs: one in the morning, one in the afternoon - to complete their day) in private schools.

there is no regulation to who teaches. or even to who OPENS a private school. we owned a school for awhile. and right now, my english program is in a private school that is just bad. i have second graders who don't know how to spell their names. or even recognize basic sight words.

but they are in private school. and that's the important part for most people. the appearance that we have money to send our child not to public school. it doesn't matter that the private school sucks. or that it costs more than we could ever afford. or that our kids are learning anything.

it's sad. but it's a reality. and frankly, the school system in the states is not much better. sure, there are more supplies, better trained teachers, money from the government that at least helps...

so for all of those reasons, samil will go to public school. his day will be completed with some old-fashioned home-schooling in english so that he will be as competitive as any other american child if he decides to go to school in the states for college.

all that said, we had discussed pretty seriously sending samil to at least two years of pre-school in a bi-lingual private school. i could easily get a job even at that fancy-schmancy school and he'd go for almost free, or at least a comparable cost to other, lesser quality, bilinguals. or that's what i thought.

but, when i headed to the site to check out the prices, this is what i found - in US dollars.

Pre-School, with all enrollment, new student, tuition and miscellaneous fees would cost: $2462. that's a little less than what i've made so far this year.
now, if i worked there it would only cost about $60 a month, which is not bad, but it's hit or miss if i got a job there.

here's the scarier numbers. for a high schooler with all fees included it would cost: nearly $6000.
the minimum wage in the DR is something like one hundred dollars a month.

i don't get it.
obviously, we've got a few years to think the pre-school thing out. but right now it seems to me like i need to start planning my own pre-school... or we'll go broke just on pre-school... which means college is out the window without a scholarship!

Friday, October 17, 2008

cookie cutter.

remember how i recently decided i needed to meet some other ex-pats?

and how i went to the international women's group meeting?
at. the. most. expensive. cafe. in santiago?


this was group of women who are either here with their husbands, are missionaries or... well. that's it. their husbands are CEOs, CFOs, big shots of all sorts in the Tax-Free Industrial Zones (zona franca). or their husbands are missionaries.

sure, they all talked about what "they do." the "good deeds" that they are able to do because they don't work.

all the while living in their huge mansions, driving their brand new SUVS (jeepetas) and sending their children to one of the most expensive schools on the island. in fact, this school is on par with american private schools.

they're not earning a dominican salary.
i liked the women, i did. but i can't hack it with the talk about the country club and going to the gym or how much they have to pay their live-ins: nannies, housekeepers, chefs, drivers...

i don't know. i'm still trying to figure it out.
i'm in a lot better position friendship wise than i was when i first got here. in fact, i'm even better than i was a year ago. i've opened up, made more of an effort and am learning not to be such a snob.

but it's hard.
culture often wins out when it comes to friendship. and, to be honest, there are cultural things here that i will never understand. and i'm sure it's the same for my dominican friends with me.
what i'm seeing though, is that i don't fit with the temporary foreigners either. i'm not in that circle. and quite, frankly, i don't want to be one of them.

i want a quality life. where i take care of my own kids. and my own house. and my own business. no gym? that's okay. no fancy school that costs a fortune? that's fine.

i just gotta keep looking for the niche. find where we fit.
i think its worth the effort.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

completely different theme :)

i've bored myself with both the political and economic situation in the states.

i informed you all awhile back that we were going to be using cloth diapers for samil.
i had really wanted to use cloth since he was born, but some people convinced me not to. that, and we had been gifted enough disposable diapers to last until samil was about eight months old.

i spent about 50 dollars and bought the cheapest, traditional diapers - diaper service quality. and some diaper covers.

i was really only concerned about a few things: diaper rash, soaking through and my house smelling like a diaper pail.

i'm pretty diligent about changing diapers since samil is what they call a heavywetter. but, in efforts, i think, to save money, you will see a lot of dominican babies running around with diapers FILLED with pee. ask my mom, she'll tell you. diapers down to the ankles from the weight of urine. at least with a disposable the baby stays moderately dry, but with cloth that wet just rubs against the butt. sad.
so, in order to combat that, samil is in cloth only 95% of the time. the two days a week that he goes to a babysitter, he wears a disposable. i'm okay with that, because honestly, we're in cloth for the economy not the environment (though the GREENness of it is a benefit).

we've gone from $42 dollars a month to $9 a month on disposable diapers.

i also kind of hate changing sheets on samil's crib. it's a mini crib and a pain to get the sheet on. don't get me wrong, i change his sheets frequently. i just was scared that with cloth, he'd soak through more and i'd have to change his sheets like everyday. these fancy diaper covers are beautiful. but i don't really trust them at night. so theresa, my dear friend emily's mom, sent samil some "rubber pants" awhile back, and he uses those at night. we haven't had a leak yet.

fancy in the day. useful in the night.

here's a kind of gross thing you might not know about underdeveloped countries.
you can't flush the toilet paper! so, we empty our trashcans in the bathrooms everyother day, if not more. if not, the house smells gross. add some poopy diapers in there, and the odor is nasty.
but, for some reason, i'm not nearly as grossed out by a poopy smell as i am by urine.
a poopy smell could be anything. someone farted? okay. left something out of the fridge and it went bad? okay. but urine is very distinctly urine. and for me, a house that smells like pee is just not clean. with cloth, we eliminate the extra poop smell by dumping it in the toilet - what a novel place for it, eh? - and then rinse the diaper and throw it in the washer. every two or three days, i turn the washer on and voila! clean diapers. and with a little bit of powder soap in the washer, there's no urine smell.

so, basically i'm pretty happy with the situation. and our wallets are much happier.
now, if we could just get samil walking...

a break from the writing marathon.

i've been really wordy lately and have a few more wordy posts lined up here.

i know there are a lot of half-readers out there... and a lot of people just looking for pictures of the babe. but i never expected such a response from the lengthy posts i've recently published.

but, just to break the words up - put some more white space on the page and give your reading
eyes a little break. some pictures.

when samil was born, i was so good at taking pictures all.the.time. in fact, we have so many pictures it'd be insane to even think about printing them all. and even then, they used to be all so neatly organized by month on my computer.
i took this picture about three weeks ago, messed around with it and am still concerned that you can see the grossness in the background that is our un-cauked where ceramic meets tub nastiness of a shower.
apparently i had the camera in the bathroom for awhile longer than i thought. it's the easiest place to get good pictures of samil because there is relatively little space for him to run away. i mean, he can't play in the running water and hide his face forever!
i have a thing for babies feet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

economic crisis.

as i mentioned in my last post, the economic crisis hitting the states hasn't hit us yet. and economists say that with a little exception in imported goods, the dominican peso should stay steady.

when i first moved here, the dominican was experiencing a very severe economic crisis. the peso had flown to nearly 60 per US dollar. and considering that minimum wage in those times was about 100 US dollars per month, there was a lot of hunger happening.

i'm not really sure about the specifics and so i'm not going to write something super un-informed. but the long and short of it is that the national reserves were emptied - probably into some politicians pockets - and the dominican people had to pay the price.

the difference between here and there? well. here it was not about whether people were going to lose their homes. it was about whether their children were going to eat. it wasn't about whether people were going to lose their cars. it was about whether their children were able to get to school. it wasn't about whether people were going to lose stuff. it was about losing their families.

we get some american television channels. i'm so amazed by how it's about stuff. STUFF. sure, my dad will tell you how much he has to spend for food nowadays. how much it takes to fill their gas tanks. how hard the situation has gotten.

but they can still buy food. fill the gastank. and have money left over. not nearly as much as they did before. but they're by no means floundering.

they still have stuff. and as far as i know they're not really in any danger of losing it.
and for that i'm grateful. because i benefit from their stuff. i talk to my family. a lot. and usually its mom who calls me. and their computer helps us send pictures back and forth. so they can see their grandson. their cars take me places when i visit. and their "surplus" of money? flies me home at least once a year.

what scares me is not my family. it's the others who are doing everything in their power to keep their stuff. i see stories of families who are re-organizing their budgets and instead of taking out some of the stuff, they're just taking money away from education, food, their children... all to keep that brand new car, laptop and designer clothes.

i'm detached. i don't see it happening. all i've got is the news. the internet. and maybe i'm way off base. but i think maybe it's time for americans - me included - to take a look at where we spend out money. how far out of our means we are living. and start fixing ourselves before we expect the government to fix everything for us.

Monday, October 13, 2008

4 years.

4 years ago this week, i boarded a plane in tampa international airport headed for the dominican republic.

not really my choice of post-college work, i was going to work in the episcopal church teaching elementary school kids. i had other ideas of what i wanted to do, but god opened the doors for this. i did what i needed to get here with some support from people in florida and a generous donation from my hometown bishop...

had i known what lay ahead of me, i never would have come. at least not in the context that i did. i am episcopalian. i love the antiguity and solemnity of the church, i love that there is a focus on social and human rights, i love that... well, i just love it.

i came with ideas of that work, plans to form programs for the poor. for the illiterate. for the young. for the old. not my own ideas. these were the programs the church wanted. the things that i was told were needed.

imagine my surprise to find a church closed to the community. a private school supposedly meant to offer a better education than the public system at a cost low enough that even very poor people could afford it that charged more than most other private schools in the area and offered no scholarships.

imagine that when i wanted to start a science program, an art program and a choir for the church i was told i needed to CHARGE the students to attend. because without the responsibility of paying for something they wouldn't appreciate it... imagine that these same kids have parents who bring in less than $300USD a month.

when asked why the church wasn't growing the priest in charge and his wife threw around accusations. "the catholic church is running an anti-episcopal campaign", "the young people all use drugs," "the prior priest ruined the community spreading rumours."

i did what i could in the 11 months i was there. i taught. i didn't charge - no matter how many times i was scolded. i played. i opened a basketball program. the church was still empty. but it's not about that.

it's still not about that.

during my employment with the church, i not only learned a lot about the church that i didn't like, i learned a lot about myself, about my faith and about mission. i wasn't there to fill a church. i wasn't there to raise money. i wasn't there to make anyone rich or make anyone elses job easier.

i was there to be. an example, the best example i could be, of christ. of love. of acceptance.

who imagined that i would meet my husband? or that when i decided i didn't want the church job anymore that i would stay here. that my heart, my passion would remain? it would be easier to pack up my family and move home. find jobs in the states that pay more than $500 USD a month. buy a car, a house, send samil to quality schools.
sure, we could leave. go home. but it's not in the cards - at least that hasn't been revealed to us yet.

we live close to the church. not close enough that we are seen, but close enough that we know what happens. it hurts my heart that this denomination i love so much is not what i always thought it was. it hurts at the same time that i can't change it.

but i've learned in these past 4 years that we're not meant to change the church. we're meant to change ourselves. god gives us what we need. and we need to pass that along to others.

had i known i would end up so disappointed i probably wouldn't have come. but look at all that i'd be missing out on? the love of my life. a purpose. joy.

4 years under the belt... who knows how many more?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


in my recent efforts to meet some other ex-pats living on the island, i've learned a lot about myself and where i stand on the future of "my country."

first being that i hate when people refer to anything as "my country." especially americans talking to americans. as if one has more claim to the US as theirs. i know a girl who every time she argues with her husband brings up things that are different in her country.

---- hey, babe. you can't run that red light.
---- sure, i can. in the dominican republic it's okay as long as there are no cars coming.
---- well, in MY country, you'd go to jail.

and i know another man who, although he's been here for over 20 years, still compares everything to the dollar.

--- this peanut butter would only cost me 1 dollar on sale in MY country. but here i've got to pay 3 and it's not even name brand.

i think that, for me, in moving away from the states in what seems to be a permanent - or at the very least, long term - decision, i no longer really have the right to compare. i love MY country. i do. but can i really consider it MY country if i no longer play an active role in the day-to-day of it? i'm not sure. but i know that as long as i try to compare, i won't be happy here. as a matter of fact, i wouldn't be happy there either if i sat around all day comparing, for example, my rent, my electric or my water bill to the (respectively) $200USD, $15 USD and $6 USD i pay here.

that being said. i have every intention on voting in the upcoming election.
i wasn't sure if i was going to. i wasn't really sure how i felt about voting for a president in a country in which i don't reside.

and the conclusion i came to is this:
what happens in the US affects me. everyday. from the price of gasoline to the whackedout dominican/american subculture that is slowly penetrating the culture here. the idea of a president with worse foreign policy than bush scares me. a president who feels cuba is a huge threat might take over Santo Domingo (the island, not the city) and that's a scary thing for those of us living here.

am i going to vote based on the war? probably not. the economy? the crisis has not trickled down to the carribean and doesn't seem like it will, so that probably won't affect my vote either.

i will be voting based on a candidate who is going to be the best foreign politic. who is going to be strick on immigration, but not so strick that everyone is denied. and who plays well with others. and doesn't try to be the bigger man just because he is the bigger country.

i'm still doing my research. i don't know who i'm going to vote for, just what i'm going to vote for.
and no, i'm not going to argue with you.
i don't think that politics are worth straining relationships over, especially when our situations are so different - i live here. and what effects me as an american if very different than what effects you as an american.

i just hope that everyone will vote for what they believe in and not buy into stereotypes or hype. that people stick to their principals. and that the best candidate win.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

being a gringa.

it never ceases to amaze me.

just because i am a woman... a foreign woman, does not mean that i know nothing about anything. especially construction.

we try to do all of our "send out" work with people we know, or who come recommended to us by people we trust. everything from sewing uniforms to fixing shoes is done with people we trust.

about 6 months, i had samil's closet fixed by a carpinter. he installed shelves - long shelves, short shelves. fixed some of the doors and a few other things that needed "carpintery". and in holy week my dad installed some shelves in our laundry area and pantry.

i really liked the work the carpinter, sandy, did. he did a really good job at a really good price. and on top of it, he bought his young son along as an apprentice - and gave him a part of the money. i like that.

but, he lives kind of far, and the nanny who takes care of the girl upstairs told me the other day that her husband is also a carpinter. and while i don't implicity trust the nanny (that's a post for another day) or even really like her, i know that she is in a tough spot economically and decided to call her husband for a job i've got in the school.

a little, itty-bitty cabinet with a locking door. less than one sheet of ply-wood. i'm looking for utility, not beauty. i just need to lock up my chalk. because if one more student writes penis or poop on my board, i'm going to go mad.

the work should cost about 1,500 pesos. about 30 bucks. or less. in fact, all the work sandy did in the house cost 2000 pesos and it took a lot more wood than we're talkign about for this cabinet.

so, i take the husband to the school, explain what i need and why. he tries to convince me that i need pine. not plywood. for a million reasons, none of which made sense. or at least i didn't care. i was very specific about what i wanted. plywood. doors. a lock. three shelves.

not pine. not fancy. no paint. i'll paint it myself.

the price? 4,000 pesos. about 150 US dollars. for plywood. and nails.

unfortunately it happens a lot. i don't know if he thought i didn't know about wood. or about haggling. or that even in the states 150 dollars for what i want is a little much. too much. a rip off. highwayrobbery even.

and even knowing the tight economic spot they're in, i wasn't about to allow myself to get ripped off - becuase sometimes i knowingly get ripped off , it's a bleeding heart thing. i just couldn't handle that this is someone i know. personally. not a friend of a friend.

and it pissed me off that he wanted to charge so much. so i told him no.
and of course he lowered the price.
and lowered the price.
all the way to what i told him it was worth.

but i told him no anyway. because i think it's important to take a stand against con men. and i know that he'd be pissy about doing the work anyway, since he apparently thought it was worth so much more and i'd end up with crap in the end.

i like sending stuff out. getting things fixed. getting things made just for us.
but really, i can't wait for ikea to get here.

sweden in a box.
i'm ready.

Friday, October 10, 2008

a personal chef.

just a little promo for those living in the chicago area.

a friend of mine just opened a personal catering service. and, i believe her food is delicious.
plus she's a great girl and passionate about what she does.

she does personal chef-ery... preparing meals for you or small-scale catering.
go check her out:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

keepin' up...

i'm not a list-maker.

or, at least i didn't used to be.

but when samil was born i started forgetting everything. and when i started back to work it got worse. i would forget which class was when. who had what homework, who didn't.

and don't even ask me about my house.
i like to clean. i really do. but i'm not a crazy, organized, scrub the house, dust the shelves, decorate and re-decorate kind of girl.

don't get me wrong.
i would love to have a designer house. in fact, some things have happened recently that even would allow some more decorating to be going on in our budget. but we have a 1 year old. and i have at least 10 students who come for class on a daily basis.

but that's a completely different story.
i couldn't keep my house clean. shoot, i couldn't even keep my life straight.
i was a mess.

in february i bit the bullet and bought what i call a dominican style calendar. a page a day. no week view. just one big empty page for each day, half a day for weekends.

and at first i couldn't get in to it. i would write a few things. my class schedule maybe. big deal things, some birthdays and i would forget about it. but then things just got too out of hand.

i was starting the business, we had playgroup, church activities and my classes. and i had to maintain the house at least presentable.

so, i forced myself every sunday to sit down and write a list on each day, dividing the chores of the house over the course of the week. and guess what? it worked.

we've got a cleaner house. not perfect. but upkept. and a happier melanie. and happier students. because i don't forget as much.

this list thing - well, really, organizing myself - was one of my new year's resolutions... and while it's october and i can't only now say that i've got it done. it's done. and i feel good about it.

do you have any new year's resolutions you've completed?

this is the never ending story...

last night i went to bed early. i cancelled my last private tutoring session - well, really, she cancelled but had she not called first, i had every intention of calling her - and hit the sack at 9:30.

i guzzled a half gallon of orange juice and drank some chamomile tea. and then, just to be safe, popped about 1,000 miligrams of vitamin c.

and still.

it's a lot better than it was, a few weeks ago. but my i've got more snot running out of my nose than samil - and he's got two, yes-two, molars coming through and we have to pick the dried snot out of his nostrils every 20 minutes of he might suffocate.

that's a lot of snot.

and my throat is getting itchy. again.

any suggestions?
i mean, besides burning down all of the plants that contribute to the semi-cold, semi-allergic reaction.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


the cancer walk was at the botanical gardens in santo domingo. i had been once when i first moved to the country and, well, it was atrocious. nothing like the morris arboretum or even the chicago botanic gardens where you could go and spend a few hours looking at beautiful, interesting things.

mostly "el botanico", for me, is really just a showcase of fancy landscaping. most of the plants are dominican and grow wildly - they don't need to be cultivated and i could easily go to the nearest mountainside campo and see the same stuff.

apparently, though, there is a beautiful presentation of all different breeds of orquids and "helechos" in the spring that i think might be worth a visit. but only if we had something else to do in santo domingo. there's also a beautiful japanese style garden. it doesn't have any japonese plants, but the landscaping is such that it reminds me of karate kid. or japan. (though when i was in japan, i didn't really see too many of those "typical" japanese gardens, unless they were touristy... i saw more of them stateside).

that said. amalio and our neighbors went to the walk. but instead of taking part in the 5k they found some shade and set up camp for the babies. i think they had more fun than the kids though, taking pictures and being ridiculous.

Samil playing on the cobblestone. we thought he'd tear up his knees, but he just decided to crawl around on his feet and hands instead.
you see a lot of these types of pictures in dominican photo albums. even dominicans think they're hilarious. here's iberlin and her brother german posing like boyfriend and girlfriend in a traditional dominican pose. there's something about holding onto a leaf of the tree that i just can't understand.
maybe you'd think he was a botanist giving a lecture about a certain type of plant. but no.

samil wasn't too happy taking pictures with papi because he'd rather be playing.
i love this picture. in fact, i have a whole bunch that i took before i started the walk and we've been playing around with them trying to find the one we like best.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Caminante por la Vida.

yesterday we piled into the truck and headed to santo domingo for the cancer walk.

it was a little hectic - insane, really - but we had a good time. jenny and i walked the 5k and everyone else who was with us hung out and messed around for awhile.

i don't really have anything interesting to say about it, so i'll put some pictures up.

samil and sara getting ready for the crowds.
samil and jenny "pony" lueth. i love that she lives here.
samil trying on one of the promotional hats from the phone company.
hanging out with his sneakers.
we also went to carrefour after the walk. i used to LOVE carrefour when there was one in the king of prussia mall - but they went out of business in the states a LONG time ago. i was so impressed by the store - and its prices - that i tried to convince amalio to move to santo domingo just for the better shopping experience.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

calling all st. tim's friends

i know you're out there.

lurking in the corners and never leaving messages :)

alas. here's your chance to redeem yourself.
i'm planning a christmas presentation with my students. early? i know.

but they don't speak english.
it's a process.

we're going to do the real christmas story.
but, i need some help. mostly ideas. and since you all used to love christmas pageants, i figured i'd start there.

and then say, all you others, help too. please.

i've got some things floating around in my head. but it needs to be super low-budget. and super easy (ie: not luke's christmas version from the king james) and involve some 30 kids. or more.
*costuming, decorating, script, etc...*

we'll see.

thank you for your help in advance.

Friday, October 3, 2008


daniel - this one's for you.

i've got my ESL blog back up.
with every intention to keep it updated.

i promise.

sanky panky.


that tricky tricky industry that supports the carribean. feeds the citizens. fun for the foreigners.

every developing country that depends on tourism has this funny phenomenon that in "dominican" is called Sanky Panky. like hankypanky. but with sankies.

or dominican - men and women - conartists who take poor, lonely foreigners for all they're worth. it's a typical scam, find a "rich-ER" looking woman or man, lonely or just alone... and throw them some pickup lines, flirt them up... make them fall in love with you.

your soul mate? sure, why not? what con-man can't make you think that you're in love with them? the perfect match? okay. they're there working their poor little butts off to support their family. you fall for the romance of it all.

and of course, in the end, you end up broke if you don't figure it out fast enough. the money requests, the "my family member is sick and we can't pay the bill" sob stories, the "i lost my job" scenario. and since you're not there in that poor, poor country, you have to believe it, right? i mean, are you really going to let that family member die? or the man you love starve to death?


sad thing? it doesn't only happen on the beach? santiago isn't a tourist center. we've got little to offer in that regard. yet it seems that more i meet other people in "my situation" (being married to a dominican, not being duped by a conartist, thankyouverymuch) the more people i meet being "sankified".

the question just begs to be asked. if you were at home, would you allow your husband to sit around all day while you work your butt off in a job you hate?

i met a girl, a very nice girl by all means, in church the other day. intent on taking her jobless husband to the states. because there are no jobs here.

funny part of the story? he had a job. he QUIT his job. and now she works from 8 in the morning til 9 at night to support them. and when they move to the states, he has a job lined up... as a crewman for a landscaping firm. she'll be supporting them there too.

we know a few couple's like this. and it blows my mind. but more than that, i've got selfish reasons to not like it. when people meet us and know couples like them, they assume that amalio is also like that.

and i know i can't, or at least shouldn't, judge other people's situations. that's not fair. maybe this guy left his job for a valid reason, maybe she likes working so much. who knows? but i know it affects us. and i hate that.

and so to set the record straight - not that any of you, my 5 loyal readers, believe that we are that couple - we work. both of us. but mostly amalio. and hard. long. hours. in a public school. with 200 students divided into just 4 class groups.

thank you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


not much to say today.
have a good one.
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