Thursday, December 30, 2010

headed home.

it's been a good, long five weeks here in the chilly north and i'm pretty ready to get back to normal life. it has actually been a blessing to be able to spend so much time at home - one of the benefits of self-employment, i suppose.

in our time here, we've visited with friends, been to museums, shopped til i dropped, ran and ran. i am never, ever so busy. but the busy-ness is welcome on occasion, especially when it comes to galavanting!

samil's speech skills have increased dramatically. he is speaking in sentences and not mixing his languages as much. such a relief, since there is no real, qualified speech therapy in the dominican republic.

amely has grown by leaps and bounds and is getting brighter by the day. she does the stairs now (but it makes me nervous) and is so playful and fun. (and mischevious).

i'm now excited for the new year, for all that 2011 holds for us.
we leave january 1 at 6am, so we'll spend the first day of the new year as a family in santiago. i'm looking forward to it.

i'm going to try to post some pictures before we leave, but tomorrow will be hectic (like today) so no promises.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


it might be obvious, but just in case it's not.
we don't get snow.
none. ever.
so, it's a big deal when the kids get a blizzard in december.
last year, samil hated it. every last second was torture. but this year, he embraced the white stuff and played, shovelled and cleaned off the cars.

amely, however, was not so impressed.
who can blame her, though? she could barely move.

samil even got to sit in a 'scooper' truck and pretend to be a plowman.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

school in the home.

people sometimes ask me if i like living in the dominican republic. it's a weird question because, obviously, i don't hate it. and if i didn't like living there, i probably wouldn't.

now, there are things that i do absolutely hate. i hate that it is always 100% humidity. i hate the racism towards haitians. i hate that there is always a political campaign happening.

and, there are things i just dislike. but there are so many things that i do like. even love. but there is only one thing that absolutely disgusts me. and it's the state of education. the public school system doesn't get enough money and the private schools are there to suck money.*

we decided before we even thought of getting married that our kids would go to public school. amalio works in the public system and we feel strongly that if he doesn't believe that the system is good enough for his own kids, then it shouldn't be good enough for other people's kids. poor or not. and i've worked in and with enough top of the line private schools to know that they tend to be money machines before educational institutions.

but, even having made that decision so many years ago and being okay with it, i have a hard time trying to figure out how the babies are going to get what they need. i grew up in public schools. and kids i know who went private are in the same situations as i am. with the lucky few who have made it big, we're all pretty much the same. but, school in the dominican republic is different.

i started surfing through the blog world. i wasn't against homeschooling, just didn't know too much about it. and, most homeschool kids i met in college were super weird. unsocialized. but, as i searched more and more into the options of educational enhancement, i grew a new respect for these parents who devote themselves to making sure their children are properly educated.

our kids will go to public school, but since school is only 3 hours daily, we'll supplement with homeschooling. i'm starting now with some pre-school activities and we'll see how it goes. i don't think i could ever do it full-time, but i'm thankful for those who do and post their ideas (and printouts) on the web for me to steal (use?).

i've spent a ton of time over this holiday, surfing the web and finding activities for samil and amely, it's been a great time learning what is out there and how to use it. i feel blessed to have found such a wealth of knowledge that makes me feel better, more secure, about living in a third world country and still raising kids who can make the cut throughout the world. as i get time, i'll blog about what we're doing and how we're doing it. (since i'm such a great blogger, right?)

do you have any crazy education stories?

i know that there are many very good private schools that cost a lot of money. they provide good education, but nobody but the elite can afford them. to me, they don't count.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

it's cold out there.

i'm not really in the holiday mood. i've got most of the shopping done, the tree is up and lights are hung. and it's really cold.

really, really cold.

today i'm heading to rice's market (an outdoor flea market) with a friend and the kids. in santiago, we go to outdoor fruit markets and even the "pulga" with the kids. the only security precaution is to put on sneakers instead of sandals because the floors are nasty.

i got the kids ready here - samil has on fleece lined overalls, socks to his knees, and two shirts. amely is wearing tights, jeans and leg warmers, a long sleeved onsie and a sweater. i'll bundle them in their winter coats with hats and gloves.

in all, it'll take a good twenty minutes just to dres in winter clothes.
i don't think i was made for this kind of parenting.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Santa.

Samil does not like Santa Claus. I mean, we don't really do the Santa thing - I have their picture taken every year, and we ask Samil what he wants Santa comes to bring - but when push comes to shove, I don't think he gets it (what three year old does?) and he probably won't. It's not part of Dominican culture (Baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men bring gifts) and so he's not immersed in that santa, santa, santa custom.

Every year since Samil was a baby, we've taken him to get his picture done. we go to the mall, do some shopping, ride the carousel and see the old man. when he was three months old, samil was fine. 15 months old - he screamed. last year, screamed. this year, we talked about it before we went and he told me he wasn't going to cry.

he didn't cry, but look at the miserable face! amely did the crying for him and tried to squirm out of santa's arms before they snapped the picture. on her defense, though, she was fine for the first few minutes, but waiting for samil made her antsy. this is the best shot they got.

i think we're going to have a book of hilarious santa pictures when they grow up if we keep going this way!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

easy bake oven.

we don't get to bake very often because i have a ridiculous oven that burns everything in the back and undercooks in the front. it's a mess of turning pans around every 12 minutes... and that's not even mentioning that there is no real temperature setting. it's hot, or it's not.

but i love to bake.

and by bake, i mean rip open a box of betty crocker and let samil whip something tasty up.

i digress.

since we've been in philadelphia, samil has branched out from his betty crockers and made from-scratch brownies. and he even included amely. you know, allowing her to pour in the eggs (from a cup) and then promptly taking everything away from her. i mixed up some frosting and the result was delish.

my mom had one of those cookie-in-a-jar things that we made yesterday. they were okay but more work than the promised "it's so easy" on the jar.

i've got some more things up my sleeve before i head home - and hopefully this year i'll be able to invest in a new oven (though it is not at the top of that priority list since it works well enough to throw down rice and beans

Sunday, December 5, 2010

work hard for the money.

samil gets kind of upset when someone leaves for work. it's not inconsolable emotion, but he gets worried, i think.

so, we've started telling him we have to go to work to make money. because, really, what 3 year old doesn't understand money?

yesterday morning he called me at work.

"mami, donde estas?" (where you at, momma)
"at work"
"trabajando for money?" (working for money?)
"traime chicle, mami" (bring me some gum).

then my dad called the house and samil asked him, too, where he was. he was at work, so samil wanted to know how much money he was making.

guess he's looking for how many christmas presents he'll be getting.

Friday, December 3, 2010

alligator skin.

there are so many downsides to the humidity in santiago: frizzy hair, mildew everywhere, suffocation...

but, i never have skin problems. and i have always had skin problems. like, elbows that you could use as a pumice stone on the nastiest feet and dandruff like you've never seen. and now poor amely has my dry skin disgusting-ness.

how do i know she has dry skin if it is always humid in santiago?

because in philadelphia its too dry. it's causing an itchiness that is incurable. no lotion is good enough. no shampoo saves the dandruff. (okay, admittedly i haven't developed any dandruff yet this visit, but still...)

anyone have any suggestions on lotion that cures alligator skin?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

on cholera.

it's amazing how little i've seen on the tv about haiti lately. i guess considering the dominican news spends about half it's broadcast on haiti nowadays, i've grown accustomed to that. however. it's sad to me how little people real know about what's going on.

i get questions. tons of questions. irrelevant questions, mostly. all from good-hearted people wanting to know.

but it gets old. i do not live in haiti. and the dominican republic, although still healthy and un-earthquake affected, has its own problems that need resolution. while haiti is right next door, it doesn't consume me.

i have a heart for haitian people. i can defend myself in creole. i have haitian friends. i have travelled to haiti. but it is not my life.

most of these questions revolve around the cholera epidemic. so here's the deal, people.

1. it is unsure whether cholera has made its way into the dominican republic. some reports say yes, some say no. there are, however, no deaths from cholera in the DR at this time.

2. there is a cholera vaccine. many dominicans have it. most haitians do not.

3. the reason, i believe, that cholera has been so deadly in Haiti, is that the healthcare opportunities are few and far between. some haitians walk for days to get to a clinic. by the time they get there, the dehydration has already killed them. this is not the case in the DR. there are more places to get treated, and therefore less likelihood of death from cholera.

4. just because there are more opportunities, doesn't mean that people wouldn't die. there is an innate sense of distrust of the medical establishment and people try home remedies before anything else. this could cause problems. but.

5. the government is doing a full out prevention campaign - you know, wash your hands; keep flies off your food; bleach the dirt away; drink lots of water if you get the poops. go right to the hospital.

6. and three cheers for the government who is also posting the posters and campaigning in creole to the immigrant population.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010