Saturday, February 26, 2011


my kids are out back, playing with a bunch of broken toys on the old, cement foundation of what used to be a clapboard house. they are as happy as can be.

these kids would play outside all day if we didn't live in a third floor apartment on a fairly busy road. and they do play outside for hours when i let them go to the babysitters house down the street.

it's hard to get outside time here. even with a backyard. the sun is usually so hot, my little white babies are red in twenty minutes. or sweating buckets. or complaining about how hot it is.

we're visiting a friend today, trying to get some work done and relaxing. it's independence day for the dominican republic - one of like 17 celebratory days for no real independence. the power struggle for this island has never really ended. but it's a party day nonetheless, a no work kind of day where families attend carnival celebrations, parades and eat sancocho from pots that hold 15 gallons cooking over campfires in the street.

it's a good day. with the babies playing out back, not too much sun and just warm enough to be fun. a good day with family and friends and (hopefully) some delicious food.

a good day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

caring boy.

This picture is pretty typical samil. see the looks on the girls' faces? like "what is this kid doing!?"
he loves his sister with a passion. and most girls littler than him.

on saturday, he went to the university with his dad and when a lady bought him a bag of chips, he insisted (and by insisted, i mean threw a tantrum) because "where are amely's chips?"
yesterday, a friend came by to see him and brought a lollipop. before he even accepted his, he made sure there was one for his sister.

yesterday, samil had a little surgery. in and out (because i don't want to re-tell the craziness of the day, let's just assume that the healthcare system here works well). and luckily he's got my genes, because he hasn't cried or whined more than necessary (we all know how some guys get when they're sick).

this morning, he cried a little when he peed, asked for some ice... and then.
went back in the bathroom to help amely flush her "pees" down the toilet.
do i have a selfless kid or what?

(oh and amely is potty training herself, if she keeps at it i won't have to do any work at all... score.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the metrosexual.

last week i had to infringe on the sanctum of masculinity. samil got it in him that he wanted a haircut.

this kid never wants a haircut.

and since he has nice hair, we let him go with it. but, in an attempt to nourish the desire to shave his head, we jump on every chance we get to take him - tearless - to the barber shop.

and by we, i mean amalio. or my brother-in-law, isaias.

but, samil got the need and the schedule was hectic. so i got to take him.

now, in my defense, i went at 10am, thinking we'd get in and out before any other customers were awake. um, no. we got a number, and had to go back. at noon. on a friday. to a full shop.

i took my iPod, you know, out of respect for the men and their special place. really, though, they just talked about basketball. boring.

but, what impacted me was the list of services. haircut, haircut with shape-up, shave. haircut AND a shave.

eyebrows. manicure.


i love that title metrosexual that's so popular in magazines. is he gay? is he metro? how about, is he latino?

because i think the latins have the market. straight jeans, polished shoes, button front shirts. eyebrows and manicures at the barbershop.

move over, metro.
spanish is sexier.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

on keeping a clean house.

i am not a housekeeper.

i try my hardest. i really do. and our house is always presentable (except on laundry day). but i am not into it.

i had a housekeeper for a long time, but then it just got tedious having to follow after her (them, because we tried a few times before i gave up) cleaning up what she missed. my floors were always shiny for 20 minutes after she left (i can't get my floors shiny for three seconds, let alone 20 minutes) but that was about it. i had grime in the bathtub, cobwebs in the corners and couldn't ever find anything. really.

once i found my passport in a sock. on my dresser. with some other important bank papers.

a sock? really?

the nanny keeps up on things nowadays and i scrub away when i get a bee in my bonnet. the bathroom gets done once a week (because i can't handle having someone else do it wrong. it kills me). and i do laundry whenever it's not raining (it's raining a lot here recently). i can organize. and i've even gotten good at donating/throwing away/ putting away for later (i used to be a way bigger packrat).

but, the cleaning - the dusting, the mopping, the windows. i can't handle it. we live on an unpaved road. with ceramic floors. and venetian windows.

can anyone help me?
my kids aren't old enough to be my (unpaid) cleaners! and i'm apparently too anal to pay someone to do a bad job. (disclaimer: by dominican standards, i'm sure they do a great job. i just haven't really lowered myself to paying for poor services - which explains why we live without a certain number of things most americans find important).

suggestions, please!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

new and improved.

i'm kind of a sucker about raising my rates.

i do private tutoring, and to be honest, my students can afford to pay way more than i charge. when they show up in chauffered bmws for class, you might just assume they have more than most dominicans.

and even though i found out the rates of private tutors in santo domingo (some charge $40 US dollars an hour!) and compared it to here, i still had a really hard time asking for that raise. don't get me wrong, i'm not getting ripped off. i get paid well, but.

remember the teacher strike i wrote about here? the reasons causing the strike are affecting more than just public school teachers. my transportation costs jumped $40 pesos a day last month which sounds minimal in dollars (about $1.15), but when you consider that we pay about 1/4 of the US price of rent for a big, three-bedroom apartment in a nice area and our electric bill in never more than twenty bucks... a dollar a day is a stretch on the wallet. and speaking of electric, it's doubled in the past 6 months - and not because we use more. the rates (like everywhere, i think) doubled. and gasoline? forget about that, almost $6 US dollars a gallon.

so when the price of gas went up again, and another transportation hike is looking likely, i raised my rates - and reduced my hours! i eliminated a whole student (who cost me the most in transportation... and in headaches) and now i get home earlier!

it's so nice to get home before 8o'clock at night. and to still get the money i deserve. and not have the headaches some tutoring causes. (and to clarify, i really loved my student... it was her mama that drove me crazy). so, my new and improved schedule. unfortunately, it still doesn't leave much to the internet, since we still are dis-connected here at home (and i'm kind of liking that).

check back to see what i'm doing with all my new free time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

and finally.

we've been trying to schedule samil for a little routine surgery (wait... is any surgery really "routine"?) for the past six months. that's right, six months.

we use a government based insurance for public school teachers and well... the system has been having some problems. growing pains and the hiccups they cause on top of full scale government corruption and poor money management. here in santiago we're lucky enough to have a clinic that offers something, because in most of the country they teachers have been without healthcare for months. and as a result many, many a child in an already illiterate nation is missing day after day of classes while teachers, until very recently, just decided to sit at home and wallow.


there is a movement. and it's powerful. and i am so. so proud of the association of teachers for their non-violent protest in the midst of a very violent cultural protest. on days when garbage and tires and mess is being burned in the streets in protest, the teachers are marching.

they started in the north and are marching to the capital. they started in the east and are marching. and they west started marching, too. tomorrow, they'll converge in the capital. teachers from all over the country. after having marched, on foot, from town to town, in public demonstration of their determination.

determination because they value their jobs. and they want the government to value them, too. they value the future of this country and are demanding that the future be given what it deserves. 4% of the GDP.

we can't make it to santo domingo tomorrow, but we'll wear our yellow in solidarity and keep on fighting for the future.

because if it doesn't happen now, when will it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

all good plans.

so i had this great plan for keeping up with my blog... and then i had to change my work schedule and my free hour went out the window.

i've been pretty busy since we returned to the dominican republic, but not so busy that i'm insane. i've been working on the tutoring (and doing pretty well for myself, if i might add) and getting into schooling samil and amely. plus, we're getting a mom's group up and running and i'm trying to get more involved around where we live.

i'm amazed at how much the kids are assimilating from the activities we do together. i'm also reaffirmed everyday about our decision to a) keep samil at home as long as we have (it's pretty anti-culture here) and b) not to work full time. i see a direct correlation between his behavior and how well he behaves when i'm at work. raising kids with values and manners, i think, is hard but definitely worth the extra effort.

i'm actually in a tutoring class now, so i am going to cut short with the hope of actually updating this soon.