Saturday, February 28, 2009

personal breakthrough

s0, i used to have this problem.

where when stupid people would start talking about things they didn't know anything at all about, i would argue with them. or try to make them understand something.

i mean, only if i knew about the topic, of course. but it just would frustrate me so much that i would go blue in the face arguing with idiots.

now, i just listen and laugh and then gossip about them later.
is that worse?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

this is the way we wash our clothes...

so, we've had a ton of laundry to get done and the forces of the universe have been against me every step of the way. from electricity issues to low water pressure to just not having enough time to do laundry and hang it up...

i was excited yesterday that amalio and my brother-in-law were home to help. i washed, they hung.

but, on wednesdays i teach at school and not in my house. when i left, well, the sky was beautiful and blue. even at 6 when i was walking home it seemed a little dark but i really didn't think it would rain. so i stopped to talk to the neighbors and wait for suah, my next student.

then, as we were walking up the stairs, it started. drip. drip. drip. i ran. i tried to unlock the door, but it wouldn't budge so we continued to the 4th floor where i dropped off samil and suah - suah who speaks no spanish and very, very little english and continued running to the roof.

too late.

oops. maybe today i'll have better luck.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

cleanin' house.

i mentioned in my last post that samil is a helper. he likes to help with the laundry, with sweeping and putting away his toys. he throws his trash in the can and if he sees trash on the floor, picks it up to throw it out. when he's finished eating, he doesn't start to throw his food on the floor (yet, though someday i anticipate the horror) instead he picks up his mess on the table, puts it on his plate and hands his plate to the nearest adult.

yesterday i decided it was finally time to clean house. it had been passed over and passed over and passed over until i just couldn't handle it anymore.

samil and i passed the morning sweeping, mopping, putting away toys (in their proper places, god forbid the little people go in his train box!) and doing laundry. i have to get the bathrooms scrubbed but that's actually the least time-consuming cleaning that needs to get done.

my blog, i realize, has turned into, recently, a vague account of the mundane things i do everyday. sorry. i'm really busy getting ready for some big things, but when they come to fruition you'll be the first to know. my current education project should be revealed soon, but the biggest project still has some time to go before we go public.

as far as the next exciting thing on to-do list? we should be travelling to puerta plata on friday to ride the teleferico (cable car) to the top of the mountain and perhaps visit the beach for a few hours since nobody has work! best of all, Aunt Pony (Jenny Lueth) and her new boyfriend should be coming along, too. we love that she lives here but don't get to see her nearly as often as we like.

we've also got some room painting projects and some arts and crafts. so don't worry - we're not all work and no play here. just taking it one day at a time!

hope you're having a great week.

Monday, February 23, 2009

his new favorite things...

besides the stapler and pink pearl erasers, samil loves crayons and writing on the walls. he likes books, but is not particularly interested in being read to. he also, thankfully, is not too into the tv. he likes barney in short bursts and hi-5 beyond that, he could care less.

he loves babies in the sense that he likes to look at them and point at them, "talk" to them. but after one minute, he's ready to move on.

he love balloons and balls and especially loves to "play catch" with a stupid green tennis ball he's got. he is very helpful - he helps his dad take out the trash and he NEEDS his own bag to carry to the dumpster, helps me make the bed in the morning and "sweeps" with the dust brush when we're sweeping.

he loves to talk on the phone and ride bikes. he doesn't actually have a bike, but our neighbor does and when he goes to visit, it's the first thing he looks for. she, of course, hates it, but what can ya do? they did lend him one of the push bikes that he loves, too.
he's a climber and is getting more and more daring everyday. he likes to hang from the railings on the balcony and play in the dirt from the plants. we'd like to expand our gardening so that he can have an outlet for some of that mess making, but right now it's more of a pain in the butt.

here he is covered in dirt from playing, marker from coloring and spaghetti from lunch.
LOVES that pink bike.
he also loves crackers and sitting on the couch. we got him a new chair that is "samil sized" that he loves, too, but it's being painted right now.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

zoo days.

we have a zoo in santiago.

if you can call it that.

it's free, which is always a plus. and it's close. a definite bonus. but, calling it a zoo is quite the stretch.

there are some monkeys, some exotic birds, a lion, two camels and a TON of ostriches. there are also some flamingoes and if i'm not mistaken a boa constrictor. they're decently taken care of, which is more than anyone can say for most latin american zoos (though, morelia, mexico has a better set up than others i've seen).

now, there are other animals, too. but that's where i would call this place a farm more than a zoo. some exotic chickens, chihuahuas, pigs, warthogs, turtles. and a midget cow. that's right. a MIDGET COW.

i wish i could have gotten a picture, but the lighting was bad and those pesky kids kept getting in the way. because on top of being a midget, it was pregnant. alas. next time i will try harder, though i can't promise she'll still be preggers.

samil loves animals. and for all my feelings about zoos (or show-farms, if you will) he loves it and i'm not about to rob him of it. the kid can seriously stare at one animal for hours. he invites himself into homes with rat-dogs, parrots or fish. not to touch them, just to look and point and smile and make noises at them. his first real recognizable word other than mommy was "dawdy" for doggie and when you ask him what sound the doggie makes he says "hoo hoo".

and so, to make up for my lack of pictures. here are some.
these chickens look like punkrockers. ha. and there's a million of them at the zoo. the kids watching the flamingoes drink - sorry you can't see the flamingoes, but they're the normal variety. nothing special. dayanna LOVED them and didn't want to leave.
samil tried to set all of the chickens free. luckily, he didn't succeed.
seriously mesmerized.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

dehydration and our budget...

i'm a water drinker. hardcore water drinker, actually. if i could handle going pee every three seconds, i'd probably polish off a 5-gallon bottle a day. as it is, we - as three adults and one baby - go through one every TWO days. and mostly the guys aren't here.

i like iced tea, too, but i've not really been a juice drinker in recent history.

until last month when we all got sick with that nasty, nasty stomach virus and it repeated itself with some mild food poisoning last weekend and the doctor told me to drink gatorade.

i never knew the joys of gatorade for regular drinking. when i was walking way more than i do now and jogging and generally getting sweaty to take better care of myself, i drank gatorade. always orange or yellow and only one little bottle after exercise.

see, gatorade is SUPER expensive here.
and since the doctor only "prescribed" it for the now long-gone stomach bug, it doesn't really fit into my budget to drink, oh, i don't know two bottles a day for the past week or so. but i'm like an addict and i'm going to have to wean myself off of this one.

slow and steady. and with the extra cash, i'll just buy something useless. like, a new pair of flipflops. (more on that addiction later...)

Friday, February 20, 2009

working it out

i have been so busy the past two weeks and it shows.

yesterday was the first time we mopped our white ceramic floors in a week. and that plant samil found on sunday and then proceeded to pull the dirt out of the pot? just got cleaned up last night. and i'm going to be real honest.

it wasn't me doing the cleaning.

the dust on the bookshelves was thick - i wiped it down with a cloth yesterday. changed sheets, swept the bedrooms. i even sprayed down the kitchen in an attempt to make it at least look presentable.

but, there's still a huge box of donated books on the coffee table that has since monday acquired a number of samil's little people toys and picture frames from the tv stand. a pile of samil's old clothes ready for donation but not at all organized. the clean clothes waiting since the weekend to be hung up and/or ironed.

it's a mess.

but, this busy has been so good it's worth the dirty house and the occasional snide comment from visitors.

we're preparing here for the future. talking about moving into a house and maybe getting a dog and looking at some work possibilities for me that are really exciting. the work is really what is consuming me. i've got two new private students and a new group of adults. i have been writing and re-writing and practicing the curriculum i use in the school to make it more comprehensive and worthwhile for my students and there's a very fun possibility for next school year that will allow me to begin samil's education more formally (not sure how that looks yet, whether it be homeschool or a more formal preschool) and contribute more financially to our family while working the same amount of hours as now. a lot of planning a lot of collaboration until it happens, but one of those projects that is worth the process, i think.

all of that said. i am trying to re-learn time management skills, self motivation and still get enough sleep. i've been battling, apparently, a pretty nasty urinary infection that i didn't even know i had, but now that i'm on medication feel 100% better. i had blamed my lethargy on the busy-ness but now i know it was something else! i will try to keep you all more up to date on the things going on around here, too. pictures are still in the camera but not nearly enough (note to self: more pictures).

have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

dear friends,

please excuse the lack of posting.

i'll been really busy with some new teaching possibilities, a little sick and a little tired of the rain.

it's no longer raining and i'm no longer sick, but i'm still in the midst of organizing and planning and philosophizing.

i'll be back soon.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

da da da da da, i'm lovin' it.

to break up the monotony of rain, rain and more rain we decided to go to mcdonald's on sunday night. i'm not sure it was the best idea, considering it was, well, raining and mickey d's is apparently the choice hang out of rich, obnoxious college kids.

it struck me as somewhat funny how mcd's was the choice hangout in middle school, in high school it was okay to hang out after a game or show - but in college we wouldn't be caught dead there. perhaps if there had been a 24 hour one close to school it would have beat out the local greasy spoon, but i doubt it.

i realized that things happen in crazy order here. i mean, the whole social strata as we know is warped. thirteen year olds drink beer in moderation at family parties and music concerts but 21 year olds hang out in fast-food joints. high school kids stay out til crazy hours but college kids are tucked in bed at 9.

it's weird, but i kinda like it.

the count.

opening the dam was not nearly as bad as it could have been. the official death count is at 3. and two people are missing. i saw on the news this morning that only five houses were affected, but when we drove by the river yesterday it seems like way more than five houses were affected. perhaps they meant that only five houses were completely and utterly destroyed?

the funniest part was watching the footage on the news of the evacuation of the prison. because, well, there's no way to transport all of the prisoners. we have some public transit buses (like coach lines) but not nearly enough. so the prisoners were packed into the buses there were, schools buses and the like. all handcuffed together. with a motorcade that would make any president jealous.

the sky is blue today, but it's still dropping rain down. not nearly as much as before but too much to, say, do the loads of laundry i have sitting in the bedroom. i really hope that its clear tomorrow because i'm on my last three pairs of undies.

Monday, February 9, 2009

break from the pity party...

remember how in my last post i said it's been raining NON-STOP for the past few days?


apparently, they dams that protect santiago are under too much pressure again and last night had to be opened. because of their distance and the flow of water, we won't know for another few hours or so what damage has been caused.

see, the opening was announced on the news, on the internet and in the papers yesterday. it was announced in person. military police are in the neighborhoods that will be most affected. unfortunately that doesn't mean that people left, or moved their most precious belongings. i don't know if it's that the government has cried wolf so much that the people don't listen or that the politicians are so unreliable as to not be trusted or what, but the truth is, most of the people, despite the warnings, will probably not leave their homes.

which could lead to some pretty high death counts if the dams really were as full as they thought.

so the point of this post? if you're a prayin' kind of person - please keep us in the words today as we find the fate of the neighborhoods closest to the damage, pray for the people who will lose their homes and for those who may lose their lives.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

the old man is snoring...

so, i'm sitting here on a sunday afternoon - trapped in the house for the 6th day in a row. we've had quite the week, a sick baby, twenty-four hour power outage and a break in the water main followed by a defect in the water pump leaving us without water for three days.

and once the madness was over, it started to rain. intermittent downpour and drizzle, but non-stop water falling from the sky.

is it normal to rain the first week in february? who knows. there's no real weather patterns here except that hurricane season begins in june and ends in october - though even that was thrown off course last year when two hurricanes hit in december!

i'm going a little stir-crazy, a small apartment with an even smaller balcony paired with a dirt road under (almost constant) construction is not fun. and samil is starting to feel it, too. he's got a diaper bag that he carries, er, drags to the door and stands there knocking as if someone will answer and let him out.

so, that's it people. that's why i haven't written in awhile. don't worry, though, things are fine here. we're playing new games and samil is really starting to hone in some hilarious skills - like carrying HUGE things across the apartment, putting on his own sandals, getting naked and coloring on my walls. (he's had quite a few time outs this week for that one).

i've got some pictures on the camera, but amalio had to take it to some schoolthing today so i can't upload them today, but i'll do it soon so you can see all the great things going on. have a great week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

group for mom? playgroup?

we've now been to 11406 pre-schools and daycares looking for a place samil can go ONE day a week that isn't going to break our bank, will give him some of the socialization skills that he's missing out spending all day with mama and has a curriculum or program that we're okay with. like, we don't threaten samil with punishment (physical or not), or he's going to get punished it happens - warnings, yes. threats? especially if not followed through with? nope. outdoor playtime everyday. limited tv viewing (please, i'm not paying my hard earned money for him to watch barney in your house).

that all said. i've decided to try to start some sort of play group for other stay at home kids. i preliminarily talked to the pastor at our church and with some other mothers and it seems that yes, indeed, there is a need.

the problem?

we're at kind of a loss. i've never been to a moms group or to a play group or even a moms bible study (in fact, i'd never been to a single sex bible study until three weeks ago). and since it's a kind of foreign - ie: american? - idea, most of the dominican mamas are interested, but not really sure what the deal is.

here's where you, oh faithful readers, come in. if you belong to a moms group, a playgroup a ECFE or MOPS group, i need your help! let me know, if you can, what the group consists of - i mean basic ideas, things you think work really well and things that maybe don't. if its a play group, what do the moms do? if its a moms group, where are the kids? you know, the basics.

and i will be forever, forever indebted for your wisdom and knowledge.
thanks in advance.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


along time ago, i mentioned that i have some, um, complicated students. what i tutor is varied - and how i do it is confusing. i teach kids english as a foreign language - that's what my "school" is, an afterschool language program for kids who do not speak english. it's cheap, in a classroom and done with a bunch of other kids. i teach adults english, too. in my house. and really, it depends on the person what they're getting. some speak english but need practice, others don't speak anything but have american husbands or are planning to travel. they usually pay by the hour - not a huge amount, but enough to make it well worth my while.

and then. well, then i have my bilinguals. kids that study in english speaking schools who are below the board and need help. in everything. not just language. those complicated students? well, they're the ones who are speaking one language at home, spanish in the street and english at school. and their parents? well, either they're absent or don't speak english or spanish. (and before anyone jumps down my throat again with anonymous comments, i'm WELL aware that it's possible to raise tri and quad and other multi-glottal children. try it yourself first, though, and let me know how it goes before you criticize my ideas - don't just tell me to "look on google and you'll find TONS of resources).

i have two sisters. lovely girls. really. i like them both. a lot. i mean to the point that i rearranged my schedule to give them all the time they needed. partly because their situation is so bizarre and partly because i see potential. i mean - they moved away from their parents in asia (the oldest hasn't been back for three years!), into a house with an aunt they had never met in a country where they don't speak the language to study in english. all for a chance at a better future.

too bad no one told them just how hard it was going to be. the youngest has been here six months and i think she might, maybe understand samil when he starts to spout off one and two word phrases. beyond that? she's lost. and she's in sixth grade. and the oldest has done ninth grade once, is doing it again this year - all knowing she has to repeat it next year even if she passes all of her classes. and with good reason. she's been struggling to understand even the basics of her classes and her grades reflect it. i mean, she's improved. she's gone from 20s and 30s to 40s and 50s, but...

after christmas break, though, i think she woke up. i've noticed a lot more drive - and a lot more understanding. and it's been confirmed. i've never been more proud in my life to get an email from a teacher.

her bio teacher emailed me (well, responded to my email about her progress) to tell me that she scored an 86 on her latest test!!!! an 86! i seriously cried. 9 hours a week since september. nine loooong hours, every week for 40s and 50s. but FINALLY! she's getting it.

and i've been reassured. not all progress happens at the snap of your fingers. sometimes we gotta work hard and wait. but believe me, people, it'