Saturday, December 27, 2008

and now it's over...

samil was a little afraid of cleo at first... i mean, she is h.u.g.e. but now he's obsessed with her. he gives her his food, tries to ride her and every once in awhile will find her muzzle and try to put it on her. the dog is good with him, too, so we're lucky. it could be disastrous if she hated the baby and he loved her...
samil got a christmas suit this year for christmas eve at church and he wore it to the family on christmas day. i think it'll be nixed once he gets big enough to actually play with the other kids but it was pretty damn cute this year.

samil loves to read. but he doesn't really like to be read to. he'll open the book and read out loud and point to the pictures, but if you're reading to him, you might get a page or two at best before he shimmies away. here he is learning about santa - who he of course hated in person.

it hasn't snowed a day since we've been here. in fact, apart from days 1-3 where i was deathly ill with some fatal flu and grossness and it was like 0 degrees outside (correlation there?) it's been in the 50s. but since we have no need for fancy snowboots in santiago, he's been wearing them almost every day.

we're headed home on tuesday. well, technically we'll be home wednesday morning - it's one of those nasty jetblue redeyes that are actually nice because i think he'll sleep the whole way and because they're cheap and jetblue staff tends to be nicer and more relaxed than say, american. we got everything we could possibly want for christmas - i got a new camera (though these pictures are from my mom's camera), a lot of new clothes, some books, and the steam iron i've been coveting for awhile now. samil got... everything.

now i just have to figure out how to get a toystore into my suitcase. they dont' weigh much, but plastic doesn't smush well and so it's a space thing. we'll see what happens.

i've got a ton of things to blog about, but i just dont' have it in me to do now. perhaps when i get back to santiago...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

merry christmas!!!

we wish you a happy holiday, filled with happiness and joy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

samil's vacation

we're not really accustomed to the winter clothing...

had fun at the please touch museum... seriously, check this place out

Saturday, December 20, 2008

mail order.

i'm supposed to be headed to my mom's school so that her co-workers can see samil, but he's asleep and when i just went in there he didn't even blink when i pushed the playpen across the floor so i could get his clothes out of the dresser.

so, i'm playing on the computer.

i don't think that i ever wrote about it before, but there's this mail-order bride service that operates one of its offices out of our apartment complex. it kind of makes me sick but provides a lot of hilarity, so we deal with it. and it's not nearly as burlesque as, say, a cabaret or prostitute-for-hire night club, both of which abound in the dominican. and the woman whose husband runs it is pretty nice, so who am i to judge, right?

what irks me is that we can't see the site in the dr. if it's a legit business shouldn't the women be able to see it themselves? especially if they could understand the ridiculous-ness of the things that are written.

like this site i came across today - not the one from our complex - that had a funny Q&A section. why should i marry a dominican? because these women are looking for love, they are not at all materialistic, they live in poverty. PLEASE COME SAVE THEM! why can't these women find men in their own country? well, they could, because they're the best women you're ever going to find. they're high-school educated, love their families and are highly religious. dominican men do not live up to their standards. AMERICANS AND EUROPEANS ARE THE BEST MEN EVER! why not american women? (and i quote) the only people who are against our sites are unhappy married men and angry american women. the men realize they could have done so much better. WHAT?

most of the women i know in these programs are lucky to have a sixth grade education, most have children (most more than 1) and are looking for a way out of poverty. dominicans are religious, but not necessarily spiritual. there's a big difference between following a ritual because your culture dictates it and doing it because you believe deeply in jesus. there is a woman who lives behind us. she has a dominican husband who lives with her until her american husband comes to visit. they move all of his things out and pretend he doesn't exist. she's a nice lady, but i doubt she married the 65 year old american guy because she loved him.

poverty is crippling. it's amazing the lengths that people go to get out. and not necessarily out physically. but if a foreign husband - real or fake - is able to send some money every month and provide a little more, than why not? right? i don't feel for the women. and most of the time i don't feel for the men. but when i read the lies that are spewed on these websites - preying on older men, desperate for company, i do feel bad for them. i mean, deep down they must know they're being duped, but maybe some of them don't?

Friday, December 19, 2008


i'm still feeling kind of gross. samil is feeling better. thankfully he's got two inexhaustable grandparents and an uncle in the house to play with while i lay around doing nothing.


well, i did mention a brief foray to the store the other night where i finished my christmas shopping and most of the "things i need to buy before i go back" list. i still need underwear (line drying underwear will wreak havoc... but that's another post for another day) and some little things for amalio and isaias (my BIL who lives with us). most everything else has been taken care of.

we also made it to the please touch museum. unfortunately we didn't take any pictures - my camera is dead and my mom's needed to be charged. but let me tell you, the new place... amazing. go. if you haven't been yet, go now.

tonight we're going to zern's - a huge fleamarket/market/i don't really know what it is - to look for a radio flyer tricycle. i saw them there this summer for 15 bucks. and i'm not crazy about buying brands, but the trikes i've found in santiago are super expensive and made of plastic. which means they'll last about a day. maybe two. so radio flyer it is. if i can find an affordable used one. tomorrow i'm headed out with my dad to finish mom's christmas shopping and to eat lunch and who knows what else.

i have not done one craft project. not even bought what i need to finish them.

so. there you are. the most boring update ever.
have a nice weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


the one thing i'm really missing...

those "I've got small children" or "I'm pregnant" parking spots that abound in the dominican republic. seriously, every store has them. and granted, i've been pretty sick since i've been home and haven't been out shopping for real but ikea doesn't have them and neither does the metroplex.

Monday, December 15, 2008

we have arrived.

after a non-eventful, extra leg-room, entire row of seats to ourselves flight and a drive from new york, we have arrived in philly.

i've developed a nasty cough and runny nose but samil's everlasting cold seems to be doing a little better. other than that and the cold weather, we're doing good.

my blogging will most likely be sparse as i have tons of commercialism to catch up on and people to see. not to mention a few crafting projects and some baking to get done while i a) have a sewing machine at my disposal and a good friend to help with the sewing and b) well, i'm signed for a cookie swap so the baking, while it happens in santiago, is a little bit larger scale here. and thanks to a bigger over, hopefully will be a little faster than baking 12 cookies at a time. x20.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

almost ready.

so i leave in about 12 hours. and i'm almost done with the monstruous to-do list. but i'm not almost done with all the stupid, last minute visiting. stupid because i'm the one who leaves it for last minute. not because the people i need to visit are stupid, but rather the idea of running around like a chicken with my head cut off while i still have to finish cleaning the kitchen AND pack my bag is a little insane.

why all the cleaning? the house was A MESS. i've been feeling pretty lazy for the past, oh, month or so, and have done nothing. which means that amalio and my brother-in-law were left with the cleaning. and. let's just say that two men who grew up in a house with a latrine and a river for bathing are not really very efficient at cleaning the bathroom. and cooking with firewood in a cement stove doesn't really leave much room for cleaning a more modern kitchen. they've done a decent job considering the circumstances, but... it was pretty gross.

but now it's clean and sparkly and should be easily kept up while i'm gone and i won't return to a huge, nasty mess.

anyway. i leave at 6am on jetblue and should be in philly by lunchtime. i'm home til the 29th (for all intents and purposes) give me a call, because you all know how horrible i am at calling./

Thursday, December 11, 2008

To Do List.

as you've been reading throughout 2008, i've become a master list-writer. and, while i hate be one of those bloggers, i'm going to have to post this to-do list on my blog as sort of an accountability with myself.

see, i get things done better and more efficiently if there is some sort of public shame that could come from things not being completed. it might explain why i worked so well under a deadline when i worked on a newspaper. if i didn't finish, everyone would know about it.

so. here it is. the housekeeping that needs to be done before i leave for philadelphia early, early sunday morning. (bold items are completed)

----- load 1 of laundry. washed, hung dry, put away (or packed)
----- load 2 of laundry. washed, hung dry, put away (or packed)
----- load 3 of laundry. washed, hung dry, put away (or packed)
of course it started to rain when i put samil down for his nap and completely missed it and have to wait for the clothes to dry - again.
----- load 4 of laundry. washed, hung dry, folded, put away (or packed)
----- load 5 of laundry. washed, hung dry, folded put away (or packed)
----- load 6 of laundry. washed, hung dry, put away (or packed)
**common bathroom (clean tub toys)
**principal bathroom (organize shelves)
**kitchen (defrost freezer)
**put away papers, books, etc... organize desk
**dust dining room and living room
**samils bedroom (put away sheets, towels: store toys: sweep and mop)
**our bedroom (change sheets: dust: dresser: diaper stand)
and mop house
**balcony (take care of plants: store samils toys)
**grade final exams & finish report cards
**pack samils clothes for trip: pack my clothes for trip
**supermarket trip (candy, coffee, rum, diapers)
**raymundo tutoring, yc tutoring(thurs. fri. sat.), max tutoring, claire&tiffany tutoring (thurs. fri. sat.), catalina evaluation (SCS)
**dinner at minerva's

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

undercover paparrazi?

fashion eludes me. i'm a jeans and tank-top kind of girl. flip-flops and a ponytail and i'm done.

but i try to look nice if we go out. i'll blow out my hair, maybe even put on a skirt and makeup. and maybe it's just because i'm so far out of the fashion world that i don't understand the clothes that some people wear. i posted about this before. the funny fishnet shirts and too-small pants and... well.

so, i've been pretty sad without the camera because even if i don't share my pictures on the blog, i've got some friends who get a kick out of what people wear

some are funny, some are sad. like the pink, lace camisole NIGHTGOWN that a woman in our group was wearing on saturday night. or the performer in a long, denim LAYERED skirt.

my favorite funny clothes this weekend though was the 10 year old boy in brown pants and white shirt. his tie was a little small, but it could just have been tied wronged. the funny part? his black suit jacket that was so small he couldn't raise his hands. or straighten his arms. or eat. or drink.

we had a blast imagining the conversation in the house before leaving.
- mom, my jacket doesn't fit.
- i told you to put on the jacket. it's not that small.
- but mom, really, i can't bend my arms.
- i told you PUT ON THE JACKET NOW!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

lost art of dancing...

there's a very small rock-n-roll subculture in the dominican republic. you probably wouldn't know it with the merengue and bachata at full blast all.the.time. but there is.

you can catch glimpses - a teenager with a skull&crossbones leather band on their wrist, a geeky kid in vintage tee-shirt and buddy holly glasses - but mostly the culture is homogenous. different is, well, different. and even more so than in the states, anything out of the normal social boundaries is frowned upon.

so, saturday night we were invited to a singer/songwriter competition by one of amalio's coworkers. a free night out? sure. we didn't really have high expectations since the "inviter" isn't such a great singer and we expected more of the same, but a night out is a night out, right?

what a surprise! the room was filled with such a bizarro mix of people - from those rockers to reggaetoneros (similar to rap, but worse) to all of the spanish teachers dressed in suits and ties.
there were some very old people, who i can only imagine were the parents of the rockstars, and a lot of small children. we, of course, were in the very back - those old people at a show for kids - with our kids running around, drinking insane amounts of soda.

the music ranged from rock to romantic ballads to bachata and most was pretty good. there were some christian musicians, too. at the end, when the judges were meeting a typical merengue band took the stage along with a group of bachateros - the two main music groups of the dominican republic.

and that's when things got interesting.

you see, americans have a reputation for not dancing. and for not knowing how to dance. i'm not talking about hip-hop, shake your butt dancing or white-boy club dancing. i mean real dancing. boy-girl-one-two-three-one-two-three dancing. spins and dips and twirls and fancy footwork dancing. and it's true. americans don't dance. it's a lost art form. and much less will you see punkrockers and rap stars break out their dancing shoes with their parents.

and that's just what happened. this really absurd group of people started dancing. suit&tie teacher with rockandroll princess. old mom with 14 year old son. real dancing. no jumping around, no head shaking butt wiggling movements. dancing. one-two-three turn, twirl... fancy dancing.

it's one of the many things that i love about this country.
now, if only i could get amalio to get off his butt and dance more often, we'd be doing something.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

samil 15 month update.

samil is finally walking and much as we expected, once he started we can't slow him down. he loves to carry things, especially humongous things - like the empty 5 gallon water jugs, his oversized babybottle piggy-bank, cardboard boxes, couch cushions.

we've noticed a lot of linguistic understanding, but everything is still mommy. and by everything, i mean everything. sometimes, if amalio is lucky, he'll get a poppy. like when he (three months late) took him to get vaccinated and samil looked at him and yelled POPPY. and, if we leave him in someone else's house, when he gets tired of being there, he'll stand at the door and say "amos, amos" (vamos in spanish is 'let's go').

he is understanding both languages - as much as any 15 month old listens and follows directions. "give me that," "where is the...", "put that down," "come here."

nothing has changed in his appetite. he eats, and eats and then eats some more. his particular favorite foods are bread, oranges and bananas. and he likes to eat marshmallow cereal, but only picks out the marshmallows and leaves the the rest in the bowl. he is starting to eat more with a spoon and fork and is pretty adamant about us not feeding him.

he likes to read books and play with cars. he'll lookt at the tv but isn't real interested in watching tv. he is starting to develop preferences for clothes and often brings us clothes from his room and pulls at the clothes he has on until we change him. he loves to talk on the phone, even if no one is there. and he absolutely thrives on being around bigger kids. he's not so much into kids his age, but my students are always a hit.

our camera is still on the blink, so there are no really recent pictures. hopefully we'll be rectifying that situation when i get home to philadelphia and you can all see how much samil has grown!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

waiting game...

my friend emily is pregnant. and by pregnant, i mean very pregnant. as in past her due date pregnant. and since she doesn't have any family here, we're in the waiting game with her. who will stay at the hospital? who will be there when she goes into labor? who will send the pictures to her parents? who will...

i don't remember being nearly this anxious about samil being born. or worried. concerned. i mean, i just wanted him out and 42 weeks is a long time to wait for a baby, but that's another story for another day. but i wasn't worried about the logistics. and now, i'm kind of glad that someone else was there to take care of all that mess for me.

i don't think i could ever handle being a gynecologist, sitting around waiting for my patients to give birth. it's just... i don't know, annoying.

hopefully she'll get this baby out in the next few days before they schedule a c-section to alleviate the wait - which for some reasons i think would be easier, but the logistics of coordinating more than one night in the hospital and the aftercare that it would require kind of makes me want to pull my hair out.

and to add to the real-life waiting, samara is also waiting for a baby. unless she had it and hasn't posted yet, but if you're up for it, stop by and give her some love. those last days of waiting can be brutal.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


we've had this little problem in our common bathroom for a little while now. it's a little problem because the people who live upstairs don't generally use that shower, so the leaking that their showering causes is minimal.

until last week when crazy nanny decided to leave the faucet open for TWO HOURS STRAIGHT. now, if i was her boss that would be reason number 1,345 to fire her sorry... but i digress. water isn't cheap. and in these apartments abusing the water can lead to no water at all. so when it rained buckets from our ceiling for what seemed like forever, i was pretty pissed. i mean, how hard is it to turn off the water?

but. this isn't a post about crazy nanny. it's about the plumbers. and our plumbing problem. much less entertaining for you all, but writing about crazy is just too frustrating for me.

anyway. the ceiling leaks any time they turn on the faucet. consequently, the master bathroom of the second floor apartment below us leaks when we fill up the tub to give samil his bath in there. so we called a plumber. and he's here now.

**okay** he's just informed me that the problem is apparently so simple and we're dumb. but that's nothing compared to the fact that it took him 20 minutes to take the paneling out of our plastic, drop ceiling.

he's gone now. cost $450 pesos. for a new little tube and to clean out my drains. i figure it's a fair price considering we were expecting damage in the thousands. and that not only did it take him 20 minutes to get the ceiling out, he had to call in reinforcement to get the ceiling back in. and even then, he spent a half hour in there.

at least it was good for a laugh.

confused much?

we don't really put samil in front of the tv to watch it by himself. i mean, i would, but samil doesn't really like it unless he's sitting with one of us and i'm not trying to turn him into a couch potato if he's not really interested.
however. i love clifford. mostly the books. but the tv show is nice too.
i mentioned to a casual acquaintance the other day who wants her kids to learn english that clifford has a fantastic ESL series that paired with some other methods could be successful for their situation.
know what she told me? she doesn't like clifford.
it's too much fantasy for her.
this from the woman whose daughter's favorite movie - played continuously - is cinderella and whose son's favorite is cars.
a big red dog who plays with his friends - too much fantasy. talking mice, abused housekeeper turned princess with the help of a fairy godmother. not so much. talking cars with lives like humans. neither.
maybe i'll just never understand.