Sunday, December 20, 2009

resolutions resolved.

i'm not a big new year's resolution maker. i prefer to set goals - and if it happens that i need to do that at the beginning of the year, okay, but mostly the goal setting is a year round, non-stop kind of thing.

my biggest goal of 2009 was to keep my pregnancy from becoming the only thing i blogged, facebooked or twitted about. and, for the most part, on june 4 most were surprised to see amely's beautiful face here.

besides that, we, as a family, wanted to declutter our apartment some (didn't happen), spend more time in god's word (we joined a wednesday night bible study) and get into more of a real routine because our work, study, play time is so bizarrely dispersed throughout the week (not a chance, my work schedule has shifted no less than 6 times in the past 3 months!)

after amely arrived, i needed sorely to get back in shape. it hasn't happened but we're working on it. the doctor's finally gave us the go-ahead to put amely on a less fattening formula (to supplement the breastmilk) in october and me the ability to stop the bodybuilder protein shakes (to fatten up said breastmilk) in late november. now with the baby properly gaining weight, i can probably get myself in shape in 2010.

my biggest goal - and something that is really important to me - was to read more. the dominicanrepublic has a poor culture of reading (for many reasons) and i want my children to grow up reading. the only way to get them to read is to be a good example. it's hard to me to get my hands on books - they're expensive and there are no public libraries and i don't really like reading in spanish anyway. so i beg, borrow and steal whenever i can. it leads to reading A LOT of books i'd never REALLY read on my own, but sometimes i'm pleasantly surprised. i read my students' school reading to better help them and read a lot of blogs. go figure.

this year i've read somewhere around 30 books. proud! next year i'd like to get my hands on more than that - but with two now mobile children, i doubt that it'll happen.

i've got some new goals in mind after my monthlong break from work. if they happen to kick in around new year's i'll post my "resolutions" here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

snow NO

snow snow go away.

we want to go to chicago


cross your fingers that we'll be outta here on sunday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


sweet baptised girl.

sweet sweet chicago.

it's been quite a while since i graduated from college. and i haven't been back to the windy city since.

not that i haven't wanted to.

but it's complicated, and expensive, to fly to new york and then to the midwest. i've been blessed by friends who've come to philly to see me (and more recently, us.)

but now it's time.

on saturday morning, the kids and i will fly to chicago!! i've got no itinerary other than "see people we LOVE".

it's a little overwhelming, but i'm beyond excited.

Monday, December 14, 2009


i don't shop in the dominican republic. i mean, groceries... yes. clothes?no. shoes? sometimes. homegoods? nope.

it might sound bizarre. a lot of people assume that the cost of living is low because it's a third-world country. and sure, there are some things that are so inexpensive it'd blow your mind. you can rent a 5 bedroom, 5 bath MANSION in a fantastic area of the city for less than a thousand bucks a month, add a swimming pool and it doesn't go much higher than that. our electric bill has never reached $20 and our water neither.

but. the good things in life. they're expensive.

a pair of old navy jeans could run you $60. and i just bought a pair yesterday for $21. and bras and underwear? forget about it. one pair of walmart quality underwears could run up to $6 and the cheap stuff they make on the island falls apart the first time you wash.

so what's a girl to do?

i save my pennies all year. put them in a special bank account for when i travel. then. i don't bring ANYTHING home with me. that way i have two full suitcases to carry back.

now i'm in the zone. i've got three weeks to stock up on everything we need. the tricky part, though, is that i never know what we're getting as gifts and that the really good sales are after christmas. but alas, ido what i can. everything from undershirts for amalio to deoderant for me (to clarify, the deoderant in the DR is regular priced but i've yet to find the brand i like).

by the time i'm ready to pack my bedroom looks like a storage locker for target.

on today's itinerary. ikea. hopefully it'll be the last real trip to ikea because a store is being built in santo domingo. we'll see what their prices look like when it's finally finished!

happy shopping!

Friday, December 11, 2009

it's cold out there!

it's been unseasonably hot in the santiago this year. november and december usually are presents of fresh breezes and cool nights. a gift from the universe for having to endure 99% humidity 10 months of the year.

but this year. well, this year the humidity has been 110% with temperatures touching 90 nearly everyday.

no, really, i have no clue what the temperature is because with the lack of a weather channel, i'm a little lost. but it's hot. H.O.T.

and the nice afternoon rains that cool things off in the summer are non-existant. and the baby? she's allergic to hot. so you can imagine the craziness the ensues when the scales tip a high 60, it's screaming and pure locura.

now, my mom is a little nuts about the heating bill and the heat here is just as amely loves it. f.r.e.e.z.i.n.g. she's happy as a clam in her cute little winter clothes and when i took her to the store today she kept pushing that pesky fleece blanket away from her face. because, shoot, who needs a blanket when it's just a little above freezing?

blankets are for sissies!!!

samil, i think, is cool with the cold. he loves his hat and coat and even his little red mittens. not a fan, though, of the wind. yesterday the wind blew so hard he looked at me, all serious like, and said "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, whoa mama".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

i don't usually do this...

at the end of my sophomore year in college my room mate and i decided we could not handle the crazy north park dorms anymore and we needed out! the problem was we didn't have enough credits to compete for the smaller apartments and didn't really know anyone we'd want to live with in a larger apartment. not that there weren't people, but at small evangelicalchristian colleges (read: dry campus) you gotta be careful about who you chose as a roommate. you never know who follows the doctrine and who doesn't. lots of secret sinning in those places and jae and i were just a little more open about ours.

alas. we had a friend who was looking for roommates for her and two of her friends and who knows why? but we ended up in a 5 person with no one we knew.

sarah. oh, sarah. she was in africa during the housing lottery and i didn't even meet her until we moved in. but what a lovely treat of a room mate. she baked and cooked and baked and cooked. delicious.

we have a similar history now. after college she went to democratic republic of congo where, as a missionary, committed the eternal sin of falling in love with a local. oops. went back to the states for grad school and then got married. she's got a beautiful son, liam, who i'm sure loves his moms ability to throw down in the kitchen.

she might just be the epitome of mommy-blogger. her entire blog, the buki blog is about her son and family. and on top of being super baker cooker extraordinaire, she is thrifty. a girl after my own heart. couponing and everything. i do'nt have time for that.

but the point is right now she's got this giveaway going on for a puzzle and samil LOVES puzzles. you can win it to, check her out at the buki blog and the sponsor at i just hope we get it, puzzles are expensive and my genius child loves them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

why i left. part 2.

my dad came to santiago to pick me up this weekend. we didn't have a lot of time, so i planned a day trip to jarabacoa, a beautiful mountain town about an hour from us. the inspiration for jurassic park. gorgeous.

i thought that a friend of mine was still working at the episcopal conference center so planned to swing by on our way to see some of the waterfalls. wrong. he's not there anymore. in this diocese they switch priests like every three months. it's a little crazy.

we pull up and everything is closed up. i ask the neighbors what's going on and they tell me new missionaries are in charge. and they left for the day.

no problem, let me park here and we'll walk around and then leave.

when we got back from the walk the new missionary was standing out side waiting. pissed. before i can even introduce myself she says "you're melanie".

yes,friend. i am.

then proceeds to tell my dad he's not dominican. oops. because she thought my dad was my husband. and that she can't show us around because she's leaving. but really she had just gotten home. as quickly as she could get away from me, she got in her car and drove in. then closed the huge gate.

okay. i just re-read that and it doesn't seem like anything bad. i can't really capture the attitude. i didn't really expect her to show us around but i also didn't expect to have the door slammed in my face.

on top of her lack of courtesy, i'm bothered that a missionary would be in charge of something that was once dominican run. i believe that the job of a mission or mission ministry is to raise up local leaders to run the church. and so to put some old, rich, white lady priest to be in charge of a huge conference center, church and school in a super poor area shouts that americans are the best and we must become like them.

as we were leaving the little neighbor boy told me, "don't worry they're like that to everyone" didn't surprise me, but still kind of made me sad.

the history of mission is hard. but i see the episcopal church in the dominican republic running right back there. to the cultural imperialism, to the "we're better and more powerful so follow us" and to the white is right and money speaks ideology.

sometimes i feel like if they local priest in santiago were changed i'd go back to the episcopal church in the dominican republic, but then i'm reminded of why i left. why i'm no longer there. it's so much more than having married amalio and not getting along with my partner priest. it's that i'm not better or more holy because i'm the one who can afford the mission.

someday we'll find a church home and be content with it. and maybe then the bad feelings will disolve, until then, though, i'll have to live with that nasty taste left in my mouth,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

why i left. part one.


that word leaves a nasty, nasty taste in my mouth.

there's the history that goes with it. stripping people of their culture and beliefs, forcing european standards as the only way to get to heaven.

though that forced conversion is nothing compared to modern missions.

i tried to get over it. i did. i became a missionary. but in the episcopal church at that point we werecalled volunteers. i'd have rather been a missionary. it's like the church didn't want to own up to what they were part of.

my year of service was interesting to say the least, and in the end i left. not just being a missionary but the episcopal church as well. and, to be real honest, it took me 4 years to go back to church at all. and even still i'm not thrilled about it.

that's not the point of my post though. the point is. i'm not a big fan of missionaries. especially in the dr. and that's not to say i don't have friends who are missionaries or that i hate the people.


i have a really hard time reconciling some things. like how do you work with the poorest of the poor and go home at night to your mansion? to your country club membership? to the nanny who is raising your kids or the thousands-of-dollars-per year education for your children?

i mean, i guess it's somewhat necessary to compartmentalize so as not to burn out or become a ridiculous zealot. but still.

and i know that it's not all people.

i just get really frustrated when i get dirty, dirty looks from those same missionaries when i tell them i left. and that i no longer participate in organized missions (but that we continue to be active members of our communities, giving our time, energy and money to ministries... on a very local level). and that we sometimes go to that baptist church down the street. and sometimes to that non-denominational church across from the supermarket.

as if our church hopping is not suitable for an ex-missionary.

all of this has a point of something that happened this weekend that made me realize, again, why i left. i'll write about it tomorrow, but in order to tell you that i had to tell you this.

and if you made it this far without trying to spit in my face through your computer, please know that i'm aware that not all missionaries are nasty. and not all live in mansions and not all compartmentalize their lives. i have two very dear friends who are missionaries that i love and adore. it's just that my vast experience has been dominated by the other kind of missionary.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

home again home again jiggety jig

back in philadelphia with internet access and a phone. running water and a water heater.

the only drawback is the snow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

books i read in 2009

the brief wondrous life of oscar wao - junot diaz
the last symbol - dan brown
death be not proud - john gunther
the hiding place - carrie tenboom
handle with care - jodi picoult
the art thief - noah charney
capitol conspiracy - william bernhardt
breaking dawn - stephenie meyer
new moon - stephenie meyer
eclipse - stephenie meyer
freedom writers diary
a million little pieces - james frey
diary of a wimpy kid 1 & 2
twilight - stephenie meyer
return of the prodigal son - nouwen
my sister's keeper - jodi picault
three cups of tea - greg mortensen
the shack - wm. p. young
fool - christopher moore
the first apostle - james becker
hatchet - gary paulsen
water for elephants - sara gruen
the westing game - ellen raskin
dreams from my father - barack obama
house of dark shadows - robert liparulo
Colors of the Mountain - Da Chen