Thursday, January 28, 2010


we've been looking to move for awhile. the water situation, the neighbor's association, crazy neighbors... it takes its toll after awhile.

but we've got this problem where i work from home and amalio works half way across the city. and if we move further from his work his head might spin around and around until it explodes during rush hour one day. and if we move too far away from where we are now, i lose my work - and my income.

we pay an incredibly small rent on our apartment - only 500 pesos more than when we moved in four years ago. it's unheard of. and i guess we should have figured it wouldn't last forever.

the owners of our apartment came today to tell us they'd like their apartment back. they're not sure if they're going to sell or if they're going to move their two spinster sisters in, but the point is, we need to kick it into gear and find a place that is suitable for both of us.

i'm really not all that picky - it needs to be a safe neighborhood, preferably fairly close to where we are now, with good (comparably) water service and electricity. i'd like a house, or an apartment in a duplex with a little backyard, but apartments don't bother me if they have a balcony. oh, and we can't pay too much more than what we're already paying, especially since who knows what will happen with my students depending on where we move.

all of this with the expense of the busted up rav-4, our babysitter's brother passing away and the kids being a little under the weather has me on edge. hopefully we'll find a place soon to take that weight off our shoulders!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

my poor baby.

my grandmom's favorite horror story to tell me was how she once found one of her children in the crib. covered. in. poop. i don't know how true it is, but it is a pretty horrible thought. poop. poop in the bed. on the walls. on the child.

i had samil in cloth diapers and those are a little hard for a baby to unhook. and a few times in disposables, he got it off. lucky me. they were empty. i figured i was safe when he was potty trained before he was even two.

don't get me wrong.
do have accidents.

and it started. an accident at the park. a poop accident. put the kids in the car and headed home. it's been so long since an "oops" that i didn't even have a change of clothes. about midnight i hear mamiiiiiii, peeeeee! oh, but it wasn't pee. it was poop. wash him up, put him back to bed. stupid me.

i forgot the underpants.
i was t.i.r.e.d and just wanted to get back to sleep.

kids sleep until 8:30. hm. odd. when they wake up, my neice, who was spending the weekend with us, tells me that samil pooped his bed. i think she means last night.


my grandmom's favorite story. and i'm so sad she's not around to laugh at me. because there was poop e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. on the mosquito net. on the sheets. on the wall. on samil. on the pillow. on the sock puppet he got for christmas (sorry uncle dan!)

he's been in pull ups since. and he's since missed the toilet every.single.time. i've gotta get to the pharmacy and get a parasite killer since it's been 6 months since his last "deparasitation".

poor kid. poor mom?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

i'm a little piece of tin.

driving in the dominican republic is NOTHING like driving in the states. there are pot holes. there are dirt roads. there are traffic lights you obey, and traffic lights that turn off during the habitual brown-outs. there are motor bikes, scooters and bikers. there are men pedaling their wares - literally, pedaling on a bike, pushing a cart. there are buses, there are horses, donkeys, sometimes cows.

and there are these mean little things called "concho cars." "publicos". it's the dominican version of public transit. the ugliest, grossest, most beat up hoopty you can find. they slap on a route sticker and ta-da. transportation for the masses. income for the drivers.

and because they are the ghetto-est cars you can find, they defy all of the very few traffic laws that actually exist here. they turn right from the left lane and left from the right lane. they scream through red lights and slam on their breaks right in front of you to pick up passengers.

and the passengers.
four in the backseat, three in the front. and sometimes, sometimes if it's raining and the driver feels for you standing on the road, four in the front seat.

i've been scared of these cars since i started driving here. i give them the right of way even when they don't deserve it. because they don't care if you hit them. their shit is already messed up!

and let me say. i ran the stop sign. i admit it.

i ran that stop sign and ran right into the damn concho. because even though i was going 15 miles per hour and could stop. he couldn't. because in a commercial/residential area in the center of the city, he was going 50 miles per hour.

i called amalio, pulled up, checked on the kids and waited. the guy was nice enough. but i should have known there was something shady when they kept suggesting we just "settle this between ourselves and not involve the cops".

you know, because when we finally decided to go to the police station buddy had no insurance and no drivers liscence. a public transportation DRIVER people. welcome to the dominican republic. completely illegal. i can only imagine what would have happened if anyone was hurt in our little accident.

no worries. i don't have to pay for the damage i did to his car. and he'll be off the road for as long as it takes for him to get some insurance and a liscence. how do i know?

they impounded his car before we left!

Monday, January 25, 2010

true or twisted love.

let me be sincere.

i devoured the twilight books. their low reading level and easy to follow plot made it a perfect fast read. not to mention, it's an intriguing story.


i don't get it.

sparkly vampires? a personality-less girl next door? rainy, wet town? fast cars? werewolves? really? this is what we find interesting? i mean, i guess it is. i was fascinated.

but had this book come out ten years from now when amely is 11, she wouldn't read it. why would i allow her to read something that promotes most of what we are trying to discourage in romantic relationships.

am i the only one who thinks it's strange that edward is always watching bella? like even when she's not aware of it? or that he controls everything she does - drives her to school, makes plans for her future, decides who she can and can not be friends with.

and, well, bella. what does she have that makes her so damn appealing? she's cute. she's the new girl in town. and, apparently, she smells good. but she has no personality. does whatever edward says. lies to her parents. sneaks out at night.

i'm sure i'm the only person in the world. at least the only female. who doesn't get it. the phenomenon is c.r.a.z.y.

i'm sure something crazier will come out by the time i have to deal with a tweenager in angst over some silly boy. at least i've got ten years to figure out what to do about it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

bilingual baby.

we've been a little bit concerned about samil's speech. i mean, it's nothing serious, just some normal parental paranoia. but. the poor kid is exposed to so many languages it makes us wonder what the boy is going to do when he gets to school and it's spanish all.the.time.

and it's pretty obnoxious when other parents ask about samil's hilarious speech patterns. and because we're in a developing nation with poor education i shouldn't be surprised when people ask if his babble is english. or my favorite comment. mira, el ni tiene que tomar clases para aprender ingles. wow, he doesn't even have to take classes to learn english.

the important part, though, is that he is able to communicate. he's learned the dominican lip pointing. you know. instead of pointing with your finger, aim your mouth in the direction of what you want and move your lips outward. and he's learned to tell people to "c'mere" with his hand. he high fives, and fist bumps. and more impressively knows who needs a hand shake and who gets a pound.

he's got a few, select words. the important ones. and knows how to use them well.

this morning after eating a bowl of cheerios and two cookies, decided to try his hand and getting another cookie. first to mommy.

"mamiiiiiiiiii. cook-cook"
"no samil, you already had two cookies."
"maaaaaaaaaaaa. cwacka"
"no samil you just ate cereal, you don't need anything else."
and when all else fails, just so he can win the game:
"mamiiiiiiiiiii. wa-wa"
to the fridge to get some water and samil says to papi.

"papiiiiiiiiii. dulce"
"no samil, no hay mas 'cook-cook'"
"paaaaaaaaaaa. galleta"
"no samil, ya comiste cornflakes."
thinks for a second. "ooooooooooooo"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

two truths and a surprise.

1. only 4% of dominican women exclusively breastfeed - and that numbers drops a bit after the first month or two of life. it's a bizarre thing to me, but hey.

2. the dominican republic has a long, often violent, strained political relationship with haiti. and now, with crazy migration of the haitian people onto dominican territory, the hatred and racism has blown up.


there is a group of women in the border town of jimani, a group of dominican women, breastfeeding haitian orphans. a group of monetarily poor women who, for reasons inexplicable, wouldn't normally breastfeed their own children past one month have taken these babies who will grow up into people many dominicans despise and are giving them the life sustaining milk from their breasts.

i don't know what this means for the future. history is a hard thing to escape. but i do know that right now, in this moment, people have forgotten that they dislike each other. that people are taking their jobs. that immigration is hurting the economy.

and they are feeding each other. and loving each other. and living in solidarity.

disaster really does bring out the best in people.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

la esperanza.

there is so much swirling around in my head.

in the past week, i experienced my first earthquake. have had my mind changed about the interests of dominican people. hosted a trip from my brother. bought $230 USD of food for relief work. looked for my housekeeper who, i now know, continues to look for family.

on top of that, amely is on a sleep strike. samil is waking up at night. and i'm back full swing in classes. and this weekend we have plans to pick up a neice to spend the "fun" weekend with us.

i'm exhausted.

but i can not imagine the exhaustion of those in haiti - haitian and foreign, victims and relievers. the seemingly inexhaustable help that has arisen in santiago - and the dominican republic as a whole blows my mind.

haiti has always had a special place in my heart. from the cute soccer player in high school to the visits before my kids were born. it's a land of poverty, of destitution. of sadness. but also filled with people who would give their lives for you, people who would give you their last grain of rice to make you feel at home.

there are a lot of haitians in the DR. working the same menial jobs that immigrants all throughout the world work. trying to make a better life for those they left behind.

my hope, mi esperanza, is that this relief doesn't just wear out. that seeing haiti doesn't get old. that when the capitol is rebuilt, it's rebuilt to sustain a government that functions, functionaries who work for the people and not for their wallets. that the UN and the NGOs step up their game and start giving hands up instead of hand outs.

and i hope that the dominican people continue to shine. to show that they are not selfish, egoist, racists as they've too often been in the past. that we continue to see those stories of dominicans and haitians working together with mutual respect and hope.

for the future.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

she's alive.

i finally got in touch with our housekeeper this morning. she had been visiting her three children in haiti, but apparently returned monday morning to santiago. we haven't been able to contact her because she's been non-stop trying to get in touch with her family.

two of her children live in port-au-prince with her in-laws and the oldest lives about an hour outside the capitol with her mother.

please pray for manela and pierre and their families in haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


i'm sure that most who read this blog are my facebook friends, but for those who are not:

we are fine.

the bulk of the damage is, obviously, in haiti.

the red cross has sent $2o0,000 and relief from panama. the haitian red cross is on the ground, looking for people, setting up communication, giving out medicine and food and clean water. has a direct Haiti Donation link.

please, please consider donating money for relief. our haitian brothers and sisters live in utter poverty everyday, and now what little they had has been taken away. show them the world hasn't forgotten about them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

best names EVER.

in school people used to try to top outrageous names they've heard. of course there were the urban legend names: orangejello and lemonjello for some baby twins... but even the real names could get extreme.

of course i l.o.v.e. that dominicans have some strange names. like the girl named Mileidy (me lady... quite chivalrous, right?) and the boy i met in the capitol named frangipani (who also happened to be my middle school principal).

amalio's stepbrother has a baby with a girl who first two children are named Hansel and Gretel (no lie!).

and now, we've spent quite a few evenings digitizing amalio's school records and i was reminded of my two favorite names EVER:

Marlon Brandow

and... wait for it...

JAINY (pronounced HINEY, when samil met him and he said his name was Jainy, samil pointed to his butt and told everyone "Poopy!")

Monday, January 11, 2010

why this global warming crap pisses me off.

this week we looked at six. no. seven houses to move into. all completely rentable. in our price range, cute. big enough and with backyards.

all with total water issues.

which is why we need to move in the first place. mostly, i like where we live. it's quiet and safe and my apartment is cute. but our water is crazy. sometimes we've got it and sometimes we don't. in the summer, we went quite a while filling up buckets to do anything. and while it's gotten better (it's the rainy season) it seems the problem is way more widespread than just our apartments like we thought.

i talk to my friends in the states, even in europe and, no offense friends, but it ticks me off that being "green" is trendy. and cool. and hip. and that people are making off of it.

politicians spout off at the mouth about the global implications. some future b.s. of what could possibly maybe someday happen. but it's not someday. it's NOW. and it's affecting so many people. so many people who can't afford to even think about buying their water in a nice, fancy, one-time-use plastic bottle. and to people who don't really worry about using plastic bags, because they're more concerned with finding something to eat.

but it's not really about global warming. or about politics. or about being trendy. it's about being good stewards of the gifts we've been given.

like water.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"hoarders" scared me straight.

i have some confessions to make.

i have a leadfoot when i drive, i drink from the water jug, i don't clean the stove when i finish cooking all the time. and. i'm a packrat.

not really a packrat. i just don't like to throw things away.

but then. then i saw an episode of hoarders and my future-life as a cat-loving widow flashed before my eyes. piles and piles of nothing surrounding me because maybe, just maybe someday i would need it.

and me. i'm not the one for new year's resolutions but i made one. and only one. de-hoard my house.

most of what needed to be gotten rid of was hidden in closets and drawers ready to be donated. but there's the catch. and my excuse. there is no amvets, no salvation army to donate to. i can't just load up the car and drop my junk off to someone else. and i feel real bad throwing it in the dump.

i sucked it up and spent the better parts of the past two days in the living room, dining room and kitchen of my house. six full garbage bags later i feel lighter, like if i had to pack up and move tomorrow i wouldn't be toting around stuff we don't need. i'm sure there's still too much junk here, but baby steps. and, i promise myself you'll never see me on that horrid, horrid show.

Monday, January 4, 2010


after what seems like years and years of internet and phone-lessness, i now have both.

and i feel like my head might explode. really.

we got this fantastic new computer for christmas and it's got a webcam. and if you've never seen a 2 and a half year old try to give his grandparents a hug through the computer, you should. it's cute.

i got a new phone, too. well, a new to me phone. i haven't had a cell in y.e.a.r.s. seriously. i was pregnant with samil last time i owned a personal phone. i hate them. but after some serious problems with the phone company and then some not-so-serious problems with another phone company, we've given up on the land line for awhile. so i need something.

and this computer keeps calling to me.

use me. turn me on. check your email. (and the very worst of all) BE A FACEBOOK STALKER!

the cell doesn't have so much appeal. phone calls here are expensive no matter how you cut it... and i haven't been back long enough to l.o.a.t.h.e the walk to the corner store to be tempted into calling for a delivery.

now, it's 10pm. the kids are asleep and my brain is almost dead, but here i am. blogging. i might get to sleep before midnight.