Friday, March 26, 2010

queen of procrastination.

i've been in full moving gear for the past week.

we scrubbed the new place from top to toe. packed boxes.

oh, but the boxes.

we don't have enough boxes. not nearly enough boxes.

so, i packed and took a bunch of stuff yesterday. and some more today. emptied the boxes in a corner and brought the boxes back to our place to re-pack.

kind of a pain.

went to the cafeteria at the bus station to beg some boxes of pseudo-mother-in-law. she had none. went to the supermarket depot and it was closed. we were lucky enough to score some inside the store from the liquor-stocker which means we'll look like alcoholics on moving day.

and now, when i have the boxes, i'm on the internet instead.

maybe i should get back to work.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

on the move...

to my 5 loyal blog readers.

have no fear.
we are still alive and well.
we are just in the middle of a move.
and we have a lot of junk. yes, junk. to pack into very few boxes.
the logistics of it are insane.

once i figure out how to fit it all in boxes and get it into our new place, get our internet set up and have a minute to breathe, i'll be back.

sincerely yours,
melanie

Monday, March 22, 2010

someone made god angry.

i had this whole post about the healthcare reform bill passed last night in the states. you know, a little pro, a little con.

and then the earth shook.

no, no, not because the bill was passed. it really, literally SHOOK.

for about 5 seconds and strong enough to get me out of bed and send our neighbors screaming and yelling to the parking lot (you'll probably never meet more dramatic people than dominicans).

it seems there are more important things happening in the world than the passing of a bill that may or may not come into being (because who knows who will take office in 2012 and what they will do to impede or proceed).

if you check out some of the websites that track quakes, you'll see that last night's 4.6 on the richter was just one of HUNDREDS of quakes since january's disaster in haiti. hundreds died in chile.

i'm not saying that healthcare isn't important... i'm just sayin' there's more happening in the world than CNN and FOX news project.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Tot School


samil has been in love with his letter blocks this week. he's built towers, roads for his cars to drive on, thrown them at amely, and used this spatula to transfer them from the playmat to their home in an old used wipes box.

just a note: we use wipes boxes for EVERYTHING. all of the kids stuff is stored in old wipes boxes. plastics are expensive here, and this cheap (almost free) alternative makes it easy for me to organize on our budget.



the only day (besides the block photo from monday) that i was able to take pictures was st. patrick's day! (the camera somehow got packed in our neighbor's moving boxes after some water play with their daughter) we did a lot of activities - especially because amely decided to sleep in until almost 10am and samil and i were able to play together for almost two hours!

i've seen this sticker activity all over the place - but i got the shamrock idea at ramblings and adventures of a SAHM. i thought it was cool, samil... well, not so much. he put three of the stars on the lines, and then decided to fill the shamrock up with stickers. we had read a book the night before that had a sticker chart on the front cover page. when i pulled out the stars, he ran and grabbed the book and filled in the spaces that were empty.

i wanted to make a paper-bag puppet with samil from a pattern i had in my teaching box (from when i actually taught in a classroom) but it was missing a ton of pieces. i free handed what was missing and cut it all out. added some cotton to the mix (for his beard, of course).
samil loved this. but didn't want to color in the white pieces.

we mixed blue and yellow food coloring/water to make green.
yes, that's a snot-sucker from the hospital in his hand. i don't know why but we have like 6 of them in the house. i think that when amely was in ICU, i absent-mindedly put hers into my purse each time we were allowed to visit.
samil loves doing this - but we're having some issues with listening and samil keeps trying to drink the water every time we do this activity. our water is not potable and he needs to learn not to drink it. (and it's not just with transferring activities, he does it in the bathtub, too)

he also decided it would be more fun to put on the lid and shake the colors up.
i cut out these yellow circles a few weeks ago, attached some paperclips and sent samil looking for them with his magnet wand. he.loves.it. and he's extended the activity to collecting and THEN taking off the clips and sorting the coins from the clips.

we practiced counting shamrocks. still not a big hit.

patterning his shamrocks and "gold coins" was way more interesting for him.

we also played with some moon sand that my aunt had sent us awhile back. i completely forgot about it - it was hidden in the closet so samil couldn't get to it. i threw it in a tub and let him go - completely forgetting he had a glass of water there. i freaked out. for like 10 minutes. before i realized that it was moon sand and doesn't get wet. oops.

we have two tot-schoolish playdates next week that we're really excited for!
check out carisa's blog to see more totschool fun!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

taking it in...

we've been cooped up for a week. and yesterday i woke up with a nasty ear/sinus infection. i decided enough was enough, though, and took the kids out for a walk. mostly, i needed exercise and they needed fresh air. plus, i needed to get some antibiotics at the pharmacy.

i love law and order. i love criminal minds. i love all of those shows.
but.

i hate that i'm so desensitized to what they show on those shows. you know, all those dead bodies, creepy pedophiles. things that should, maybe, make me throw up a little in my mouth are commonplace. they don't impact me anymore.

it's the same with living here.
things that impressed, awed, scared the hell out of me no longer impact me like they used to.

but when we left on our little walk after a week of not leaving the apartment, i noticed the little things that make this country so great.

the little old man brewing coffee through a sock in his little lean-to of crooked sticks holding up a tin roof. the man up in the coconut tree trimming the branches - no ladder in sight. the haitian workers with their levels and hammers singing as they walked to work. the women sweeping their backyards with twig-brooms - sweeping dirt off of dirt.

right now we're listening to lawn mowers and sprinklers. our neighbors are playing some merengue on blast. the laundry is on the line, drying. it's a beautiful day to re-discover this place.

as soon as the baby wakes up, we're outta here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

food thief!

samil was hungry yesterday.
he was eating like a fiend.
so when he asked for MORE rice when he woke up from his naptime, we gave it to him.
he went and sat at his table...
until he came to me with this little face.

mommy. AMIIIIIIII. AMIIIIIII. MOMMY!!!
apparently, amely stole his food. right from the table.


she knocked that bowl right on the floor.
and started to eat.


she thought it was pretty funny.
and tasty.


when i tried to take it away from her, she started grabbing handfuls of it from the floor.
and shoving it in her mouth.

love it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

maybe i'm the one who has it all wrong...

when i had samil, i was laid up for a few days because i'd had a c-section. dominicans are good about taking care of sick people - or at least they're present during sicknesses. i think it comes from the fact that you can't just leave someone in the hospital. so, if someone gets hospitalized, they need to be accompanied 24 hours of the day. and who doesn't like to hang out with sickies?

i'm kind of independent. and i didn't like the idea of having someone to "take care" of me. my mom was around for a few days after he was born - and then. then amalio's step-mom came. i had resigned myself to the fact that she needed to be here. see, there are all kinds of hilarious post-partum beliefs that range from the new-mom only being allowed to eat fish soup to new-mom not being allowed to wet her head for 42 days. and since i'm against all kinds of non-logical beliefs (i understand the hair thing to some degree, but still think it's ridiculous) and she is all for non-logical beliefs, i knew we'd butt heads.

never did i imagine she would show up to take care of me with a slew of children in tow. okay, that's an exaggeration. there were only two. but they were two children who had never been to the city and were used to living on a farm. to my small, small apartment. me, laid up in bed with a brand new baby.

i was livid.

and my anger only grew as everytime the damn kids asked to play outside, SHE SAID NO. because "the city is dangerous" and "you don't know those kids playing out there."

recap. me, in bed with a c-section. new baby. crazy step-mother-in-law. two kids who spend all day, every day playing with cows now locked in my apartment.

it's amazing i didn't suffer from post-partum depression.

okay, all of that was to say this.
our neighbors are moving. they bought a house on tuesday and are moving today. well, at least that was their plan. except they went to the capitol this weekend and still haven't packed a single box. besides the point, that is.

when they came home from the capitol, they came with the whole family to help. because dominicans aren't just good with sickness, they're good at helping people move, too.

what does this have to do with my post-partum story?
they showed up with 4 adults and about 20 kids. really? you have not one box packed and you want your house filled with every kid from the campo? and on top of it, they left their 3 year old daughter home from school today. TO HELP.

i love kids. i love to have kids around. and my house usually has at least one borrowed child. doing crafts, singing, dancing. playing.

but to have all those kids around during times when something really needs to get done? i don't think i could handle it.

is it me? am i wrong?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

tot school - oops!

we had big plans here for tot-school this week.
the weather had some other plans.

last weekend, the temperatures dropped from 95 to 50 overnight.
and left everyone on the island - seriously, everyone is sick - with a nasty, nasty cold.

so instead of the plans, we had a lot of this:

we didn't really use a humidifier since it's already humid here. but i have no pictures of our contraption.
we boiled some secret herbs in water, added some "menthol" cream and put the kids under a "tent" to get the vapors up their noses.
samil learned all about those herbs, since they were cut from a neighbors yard.
science field trip?

amely had a little fever. so to prevent it spiking, we were dosing her with this (but the winasorb brand that is popular here that i couldn't find a picture of).
samil learned how much she needed and was pretty good at suctioning it out and giving it to her.
future doctor maybe?
and of course, with chest colds, the vicks in implied.
but i have to tell you - vaporub is used for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. here. everything. people call it "MEN-TOLL"
headache? some menthol on the head. cut on your finger? menthol. cramps? menthol.
there are even some older people who eat the stuff. nasty.

samil decided it would be fun to use it as hairgel. bet dominicans never thought of that before!

this was the drug of choice for the kiddos. amalio and i had to take the nasty homeremedy crap (because he insisted... and despite the nastiness of it, it cleared us right up). this is pretty natural, too, and the kids are getting better.

samil learned how to say "medicine" this week.
and ask for it over and over again.
he also learned the value of playing by himself.
he spend a lot of time with his rice filled sensory bin. until he decided it would be fun to fill his little, itty-bitty, plastic goblets with rice and pass them out to my students...
spilling rice all over in the process.
at least he's a good host, right?

i hope everyone else had a more productive week! check out carisa's blog for more tot-school posts.

back on the wagon.

if you've been following this week - you know it's been a bit difficult.

no sleep.
sick babies.
amalio's master's pre-thesis.
sick me.

considering the stress, i think i did pretty well with my new healthy living. i wasn't able to exercise except for sunday and monday but the eating was all right.

today, though, we're finally all healthy. well, except samil who is running a fever. but i'll take a fever over nasty, mucous-y chest coughing anyday. and so, i'm back on the wagon.

stairclimbing and resistance training.
bring it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

and all those plans...

i had some great plans for today.

we were going to head downtown to the post office, send some letters and then to the craft store to see if i could find pom poms and pipe cleaners for cheaper than 1 for a dollar. (no lie, these kiddy craft things were out-of-control expensive at the department-type-store we do most of our shopping at... and things that should be expensive were not. por supuesto).

it was a pretty bold plan - two kids into the city. especially since the stores we'd go to don't have shopping carts and it'd be a lot of walking for samil.

but we have been locked in this apartment with nasty colds for a week now. and i think the weather has finally changed for the better. bye bye frio hello calor!

we also had plans to meet a friend along the way. she cancelled.

so i rethought mis grandes ideas and realized i'm sick. and went to bed well past midnight helping amalio with his project and reading A Wrinkle in Time to help a student study for his test (can you believe i've never read it before?).

all those great plans down the tube.
maybe monday, right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the nastiness that is cold remedy.

this is the nastiness i was prescribed for this nasty cold i've got.
onion.
radish.
honey.
and, don't forget the oil of herring.

one of those days...

this morning was one of those mornings that the forces of the universe all combined and agreed to let me sleep in. the kids have been fighting a nasty cold since friday, and amely hasn't slept through the night since then.

the poor baby wakes up, nose full of snot, coughing her little lungs up. we suck the snot out, but despite what those other mommies say, i don't think any baby will ever appreciate having a tube of rubber stuck up their nose to suck away snot. ever. so, she screams because there is something stuck up her nose, because she can't breathe right and her little chest hurts from the coughing.

samil just hasn't slept well. tossing and turning all night. it's been cold here and samil doesn't like blankets. or socks. so we wake up and cover him up like ten times a night. but since he's not sleeping well, he wakes up cranky and grumpy.

tired mommy. grumpy baby. not a good combination.

but alas! last night, samil fell asleep at a normal hour with no fight. amely went to bed at a normal hour with no fight. we went to bed at a normal hour. and amely didn't wake up until 5am, to eat. a little stuffy but nothing like it's been for the past week. and after eating she went back to sleep!

samil's still asleep and there's a million things i should be doing, but instead i'm toolin' around on the internet. because it's one of those good days. where the universe let me sleep. and i'm takin' advantage.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

brrr, it's cold out there

last week was a long one. little sleep, less naps. cold weather here means colds and basic discomfort.

i know, i know. it's not really cold here. but, consider this. wednesday's temperature reached 98 degrees fahrenheit. thursday it barely made it to 70.

today, well, today it barely made it to 60. and 60 is lovely when you're coming out of a long, nasty, snow-filled winter.

60 is not lovely when yesterday was 90 and manana? who knows?

add to that a cement house with tile floors and "venetian" windows. no heating, not even enough blankets for everyone. samil has every fleece baby blanket piled on him and amely is wearing like three pairs of pijamas.

this global warming sure is making us all cold, huh?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tot School - Ireland

living in a homogenous society is a little hard sometimes.
and it's getting harder to blend cultures as samil gets bigger. obviously there are things that are givens - but the little things, the little gems of both worlds are going to need some work and dedication to make sure the kids get it.

we want samil and amely to know that they are not just dominican and not just american. and that their ancestors came from other places, too! last month we spent a lot of time working on the dominican side of things since it was independence month here. this month we're celebrating IRELAND!



we made shamrock suncatchers for our sliding glass doors. it was samil's first time working with contact paper and he like it. but he kept piling up all of the tissue paper on top of itself like he does with his stickers!



i saw this idea on several olympic tot school posts, where they printed the logo and and cut it apart. here, we traced our hands and then i made a template for samil to glue everything down. he liked this activity and next week we have a more elaborate claddagh planned that involves glitter and paint handprints.

we practiced counting with our shamrocks. samil's not really too into counting yet, but he did this activity twice this week on his own.

i cut out some "gold coins" and clipped them with a paperclip. then i hid them all over the house and gave samil a magnetic wand - he had to fill the "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow, but decided his bike was a better place for them. he l.o.v.e.d. this activity and we did it over and over... and i'm sure we'll be doing it again next week.


we spent time in the park looking for four-leaf-clovers.
we also made some yellow, glittery playdough and made gold coins. it was for a treasure hunt, but samil decided the coins would be better if he poured water on them and they fell apart.

non-theme activities.
we did puzzles and colored in our "notebook". we practiced the letter A, but we never did get around to the A craft. Maybe next week.

I also saw this great idea on someone elses page and have wanted to get some nuts and bolts for awhile. i can't remember where i saw it, but if it's yours, let me know and i'll link back to you!



we went to the local hardware store and i picked out 5 nuts and bolts. samil put them in a bag and paid for them all by himself. i got the box at the supermarket and stuck some stickers on it. less that 3 US dollars! woo hoo!

great for small motor development!

check out carisa's blog for more tot school posts!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nine Months and One Day.






can you believe it's been nine months already?

slowing down.

So, I’m not really a fan of public transportation. I do it when it’s necessary, but otherwise I avoid that mess like the plague, especially when I’ve got the babies in tow.

It’s not really the idea of public transit that gets me. It’s the hassle of carrying two babies all over the city. It’s not like the states where there are buses, big spacious, air conditioned buses. Instead, we’ve got little hoopty cars driving around like clown cars. How many payasos can we get in the car today?

Even the full-to-the-brim experience isn’t that bad. But have you ever walked with a two year old? It’s the slowest walking on earth. I mean, I understand that their legs are shorter and generally they’re just slower. But it’s not that.

Samil stops to look at everything. Oh, mami, look! A rock! A leaf! A piece of dog poop.

So, we take the bus, I mean, car to the city. And spend twenty minutes walking the two blocks to the store, twenty minutes in the store and twenty minutes back to the bus stop. An hour! One whole hour to buy a piece of chewing gum! Yes, please!

on days when you’re in a hurry, it’s the last thing you want. To notice all those small, tiny things that fascinate them. The kids. But maybe it’s on those days that we can learn the most from those tiny little hands pointing out tiny little things.

A day like we had today – the rush to get everything done, to hurry through the actions, to forget about those around us, the beautiful world we live in – needs little people most. If it wasn’t for Samil’s dawdling walk, stopping to look at everything, forcing me to slow down, I would have missed out on the butterfly he delighted in, the conversation he had with an elderly woman, the joy he took in showing his sister everything in the shopping cart.

It took us longer to get things done. A trip that should’ve lasted an hour, took two and a half, but I wouldn’t trade it. The to-do list is still half-full, but it’ll get done. Not today, maybe, but there are more important things than that today.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

sunshine at last.

we don’t have a drier. there are a lot of factors in that: not enough space, too expensive, electric bill through the roof, our gas tube is clogged so a gas drier is out of the question… and really, it boils down to it not being necessary. we live on la isla bonita. it’s sunny here nine out of ten days.

it’s a benefit of living in the caribbean. it’s sunny and hot most of the time.

except when it’s not.

like the past three weeks that it’s been gloomy and drizzly. And because of that there are mountains of laundry in my bedroom. clean laundry at least, but laundry nonetheless. Ropa, and various other things that need to be put away.

except after two days of non-stop laundry that included (but was not limited to) fighting with that stupid junta de vecinos again to turn on the w├íter pump, a 4 hour long brown out and not having nearly enough space or clothespins to hang everything up, i don’t want to put clothes away.
and who can blame me, really?

you know that nasty winter up there in the states? when it’s over and the sun is shining again you all will not be so keen on putting laundry away either.

call it my caribbean spring fever but, we’re going to the park!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

screaming babies.

when you live in an apartment complex, you should be considerate. it's one thing if you live in one of those fancy torres in the penthouse and nobody.can.hear.you, but let's face it. normal people don't live that way.

and here, in this residencial full of crazy condos, we can hear everything you say. yes, that's right. everything.

the acoustics are actually a little bizarre. what happens in the back of our apartment can be heard by the people who live in front of us. and while i can't hear the crazy vecina who lives directly behind us, one floor up, i can hear her neighbor next door.

when i was pregnant with samil the people upstairs had a colicky baby. but if you said the baby was colicky, they'd freak out. no es colica! of course not. she justs screams for hours on end. and the whole pregnancy i moaned and complained and in general, me queje because that baby would.not.shut.up.

and samil was born. a happy, quiet baby. he didn't even cry when he was teething. and he was so brave that his first MMR shot was hilarious. instead of crying he looked at the nurse and said, paaaaaaaaaapppppiiii. that's it.

good thing the universe didn't pay me back with a crybaby.

then, when i was pregnant with amely the people downstairs had a screamy baby. but it was worse. because instead of just comforting the baby, they would yell instead of talk to her. at three in the morning. there wasn't one madrugada that i didn't want to kill them and the gracia and baby talk the spewed from their mouths.

again, i've been blessed with a non-screamy baby. amely is just a calm as samil was. and sleeps through the night.

what's the point of all this? we have a new screamy baby. and now that my kids both sleep through the night, i'd like to sleep, too. but i can't. because the llorona out back won't stop screaming.

i don't have crying babies - but i can't imagine it's that hard to take your kids to the living room when they're crying all.night.long. is it?

because if i have another sleepless night, two things are going to happen: i'm going to be the personal tuition payer for the children of the dominican coffee plantations (all of them) and i'm going to kill someone.

and ps. i'm not pregnant. i think the universe is cursing me. you know, for all the complaining i did while i was pregannt about those stupid babies. just keep sending more and more!

Monday, March 1, 2010

on losing weight.

it's time, people. it's been way too long, with all these extra pounds hanging around. i'm sick of it.

and in january i started eating right and exercising. i made a vow to be more active, to be more than a couch potato. and so far, so good.

it's not about being cute, or fitting into those jeans. it's about being healthy. about being around with my kids. it's about wanting to live a more fulfilling life.

not that i didn't have a good life, and that i don't have a good life. but. how many times did i turn down doing something because i was embarassed? because i didn't want to go out and be the only chunker? no more, people, no more.

it's only been two months - and to be honest, i don't even know how much, if anything, i've lost. no, that's a lie. in january i lost 7 pounds. tomorrow i'll get weighed when i take amely to get immunized. but i feel better. i feel more energetic, more likely to say, 'yes, let's go!'

and since this blog is about my life, you'll be hearing about it here. about the trials of jogging the streets of santiago with my two kids in tow... oh, believe me, are there stories! about my workout videos and improvised aerobic equipment because there is no gym to go to that doesn't cost less than what i make in a month. keep tuned in to find out how this goes for me. i guarantee it'll be worth your reading time !