Monday, January 30, 2012

pour down prayers.

i'm really bad at keeping in touch with people. communication, in general, is not always my strong point - i don't really like the phone (and the fact that is costs so much for me to use the phone doesn't encourage me to reach out and touch somebody) and i'm just plain bad at email and even facebook.

but i do blog-stalk. i've found tons of people i had marginal relationships with in my life who chronicle their lives online. excellent. some are interesting, some are not. but i read because it keeps me reminded of people who have impacted me in some way or another. score one point for the free-internet.

i always get excited when people have babies or get married and are just plain happy. equally, i'm saddened by their hardships. when a fellow blogger wrote about her miscarriage, i sobbed. another college classmate lost a baby to stillbirth and yet another couple lost their baby just a short time after her birth. so much loss in such a small circle of people (all bloggers from college).

i recently have been following the pregnancy of another girl, stacy, from college (who i only knew in relation to mutual friends). her first post was joyous and then followed a "belly" shot. then came the bad news that her baby is experiencing heart failure. and then she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), put on bed rest, and bad news after bad news.

her baby is going to be delivered on tuesday at 1:30. if you are the praying type, pour prayer over her and her husband and baby. pray for comfort and love and acceptance. pray for the skill and knowledge of the doctors, and for the delicate touch of the nurses. no mama deserves to lose a child, but god knows his plans and pray that for understanding. check out their story here


i don't tend to make new year's resolutions - and when i do, it's almost never at the beginning of the year.
i had some ideas of what i'd like to accomplish this two thousand and twelve - but just the other day, i kind of formalized my list.

it's a mixed list - because i have some things i'd like to change (about my bad habits!) but, i'll be 30 this year, and i've decided this is a year of celebration, so some of my goals are celebration oriented (i'll talk about those in another post).

-stop biting my nails. i've bitten my nails for as long as i can remember and it's a dirty, nasty habit. one day i looked at my hands and realized how gross they were. before i left philly, my friend heather took me for a manicure and they looked so nice that i decided i needed to stop for good. it's been three weeks and so far, so good.

- healthier snacks. my kids eat a lot of junk. so do i. so, my goal is to change the way we do snacks in the house. more fruits and veggies (i live in a tropical paradise, afterall, and produce is super cheap) and less potato chips.

- more bible. i love jesus. and i used to read the bible a lot. i haven't been reading too much recently, and i can feel the difference in my relationship with him. so, i'm going to dedicate more time in the word.

those are my three habit-changers this year. i try to keep it simple and straight forward - i'm not making any goals that are impossible or crazy. so hopefully, i'll  be able to meet these and next year (or next month) we'll get some new goals!

do you have any goals  this year?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

made ya look.

have i mentioned lately how much i adore these children?

Friday, January 27, 2012

post-partum reflections.

i wrote about visiting the public hospital's maternity ward awhile back - i haven't just let it lie like so often happens around these parts (these parts = my heart). i am so scared sometimes of being vulnerable, that i just steer clear. i am involved in a number of activities - most just peripherally, one (another post when i can.... oooo, vague) way more intimately. but seeing the conditions, talking with the teenage moms-to-be, holding the babies... it touched me in a way i just haven't been touched in a long time.

i've always had a soft spot for mom's - especially teen-age ones - but it wasn't until i had my own that i knew that this is where my heart was. i had been given tools before we even thought of having children that would make our lives as a family easier (not easy!), and even though i didn't have this impoverished birth experience, i also didn't have a luxurious one. i knew what i wanted and what is good for babies. i was able to choose a doctor, to express opinions and concerns.

that doesn't always happen in the public hospital, and it happens much less frequently for under-educated teenagers.

i've been back to the hospital a few times. i don't really have any sell-able skills to offer, but i'm really good at encouraging women to breastfeed (that's another post for another day!) and just talk to them about their concerns. i like talking to the nurses to find out what is going on and where we might be able to find more help for these women.

my creole is crap, but a quick prayer usually brings a smile to mom's face.

i took my dad to the hospital in december to hand out some diapers and sanitary pads to the recien paridas - i also cleaned out our closets and took ten sheet sets and some baby blankets. it was heartbreaking, really, to see babies lying on sheet-less hospital beds - no incubators, no separate space for mom to relax and sleep before heading home to countless, sleepless nights. no on-call nurse system for a quick injection of pain medicine.

i don't know what this looks like for the future - but i know that it is where i need to be. where i need to be present as some encouragement for the patients and nurses. i hope to get more involved, but i just don't know how that looks. i continue to work with the midwives for the dominican republic, and hope to become more involved as they establish themselves more in the country.

if you know of any place to get post-partum info that i could study, or anything that might be of benefit to new moms, please let me know!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

reason #243

this may sound super simple to some, but one of the many reasons that i love raising my kids in this country is that they don't take things for granted. (this is not a social commentary, it's about my family and how we work... i know there are kids in the states who don't take everything for granted and are grateful for simple wonders. we have worked hard and intentionally to try to instill certain things in our kids, and that's what's important to us.)
we don't frequent too many places with blow-driers in the bathrooms, but one of the supermarkets has one of the new, high-speed/low-heat models. o.m.g.
the kids went crazy and stood under that thing for e.v.e.r. 
i love that they appreciate those small things because they are not bombarded by it all.the.time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

this is why we discourage using the ladder.

i used to spend a lot more time working with short-term missions groups and other foreign do-gooders in the country. it's something i really enjoy, but just don't really have time to dedicate to anymore what with working a real job and kids and my own philanthropy (or let me be less pretentious and say "things i do that make me feel good about myself).
whenever i work with construction groups, or even groups where a ladder might be present, i give a what seems to be a funny lecture. anything that needs height added to YOU, find a dominican to do it. DO NOT GET ON A LADDER. mostly it has to do with insurance claims and a history of coverage problems stemming from "not-proper" laddering. (i know, insurance companies come up with crazy terminology). 
when there are no ladders, there has to be some creativity, and, well... sometimes that creativity might look shifty to an insurance guy.
this guy needed to get that piece of white cloth down from a light fixture. he and his friends looked around for a few minutes, tugged at the cloth and then decided to improvise. not a bad idea, at all, especially with the boss breathing down your back to get those wedding decorations out of my rancho tipico restaurant before the tourists find somewhere more... typical.
the guys stack up two tables, look up and realize it's not tall enough. another table might be uncomfortable to climb on... so we'll add a very un-study white chair and then send up the skinniest guy.
he got it down and nobody died. thankfully, insurance men could have had a field day writing  letters about why they just really couldn't cover the accident!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

milk pick up

my father and two sister-in-laws live in the campo. basically, they don't live in the city. i mean, it's more complicated than that, but the campo is rural - which, for me, is anything not in a big, dominican city. 
my sister-in-law has a butcher shop in her house. and a colmado, a kind of everything you need corner-store, where the neighbors hang out and dance merengue. 

it's a nice place to visit, but i wouldn't want to live there. i mean, there's running water and electricity (i know, tecnologia que se entro, mariposa! wao!) but it's cold-as-ice water straight from the river except at 3pm when it's  kind of bearable. and well, the cooking on a fire thing scares me (because there is a gas-stove, but fire-food is so much better.)

my father-in-law works a lot. life in the campo is tougher, and agriculture is just plain not easy. there are a number of cows in the family and my father-in-law is their keeper. every morning he wakes up, gets them from their pasture, brings them to a little shed, milks them and then spends the day caring for them. he's got a little conuco, a garden of sorts for root vegetables like yuca and potatoes and there are chickens running around like they own the place (they kind of do).

i worry about how much work he does - and that he hesitates to share his responsibilities with others. and i get pissed off about it often (he's been to visit us in the city four times in my seven years in  the country), and he knows that. so, i asked him about the milk he's been selling - you know, the basics, how many calves are there, how many bulls, how many bottles of milk is he getting a day and, being nosy, who's been picking it up since the old pick-up-guy moved to the capital.

he tells me, oh, don't worry - the new guy is great, he brings a jeepeta, around every morning (referring to an SUV or pickup truck). i was excited. it would make life easier for everyone. 

imagine my surprise when the milk is measured out and a donkey comes strolling up the path, laden with two huge milk containers. i call my FIL, "ey, papi! i thought you  said a jeepeta was coming?"

he looks at me, then looks at the burro and tells me, oh! his name is jeepeta!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

there's a what in that bag?

i'm sitting here, trying to catch up on this blog - and the internet is being ridiculous. fun.

i've been taking pictures like crazy. i'm sure people on public transit think i'm a nut case with my phone out, snapping pictures away of things that, for us, are normal. they're all saved in my phone, and because it's such a pain to take my phone apart to get to the memory chip, they've been sitting there for awhile.

i laughed when i pulled these pictures up, and it took me a minute to realize what it was. a little blurry, and completely unrecognizable to anyone who wasn't there. in a car. smashed in the backseat with three others. this guy gets in, carrying a bunch of sacks. 4 fabric sacks and one rice sack make from plastic. and they're moving. it's not the first time i've encountered this - mostly though, it's on a bus and not in the back of a toyota corolla.

they're cocks in those bags, and the guy was headed to the gallera to, i assume, fight them. the plastic sack had two (if my memory serves) hens in it.

luckily, we weren't in the car for two long with the birds. we got out about a block after they got in - they were well behaved and had it not been for the wiggling, or the hilarious conversation with the driver, i might not have even noticed.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


there is all kinds of construction going on in santiago - there are roads torn up everywhere, buildings going up, drainage pipes lining avenues - it's a little overkill.

 it usually takes 25 minutes to and from work, except during rush hour. today, i sat in a car for an hour. and the driver took tons of detours to avoid the insane traffic. i can't even imagine the route without traffic-avoiding short cuts without smoke coming out of my ears.

santiago needs this construction. the roads have been a mess and forget about getting anywhere when it rains. main thoroughfares turn into rivers - probably rivers deeper and longer than the real river Yaque that runs in the city.

but this construction can not be more poorly planned than it has been. the workers start at morning rush hour, take breaks and continue at the mid-day rush and then again in the evening. and i don't even want to get started on the ridiculous "engineer-worker" ratio. it seems there are always too many chefs in the kitchen when it comes to road construction here.

in november, they re-asphalted a pretty important stretch of road, under the "underpass" and in front of some big businesses. it took days of horrid tapones, traffic-jams that backed up traffic for way more time than necessary. same problems - work at the horas picas when everyone is in transit and either not enough workers, or too many engineers.

notice how they're all just standing on the corner. one guy has a shovel.
please don't misread this - i know that this is construction everywhere. but it's frustrating nonetheless.

sometimes people think that we don't have heavy equipment for construction. it exists. really.
look how close that car is to the roller. they almost crashed - mostly it was the car's fault for being too far into the construction lane.

these guys stood on the corner for a good 25 minutes. seriously. like there wasn't any work to be done, or traffic tied up for DAYS.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

on why we don´t have internet.

we moved about two years ago. from a nice apartment in a cute complex, with absolutely horrible problem · we almost never had running water. when we made lists of the pros and cons, the list for the pros was incredibly long · good neighbors, safe place, solid construction, convenient location. but that one con (there were others, but they´re trivial) was so big that we needed to get out.

one of the things that went with the apartment was a constant, lovely internet connection.
our neighbors had opened their connection to us, and we had a nice setup going on.
but, i spent a lot of time on the internet. time that could be better spent doing things like spending time with my family, planning classes, going places, forming real relationships. amalio also really liked the internet. and sometimes we fought over the laptop.

that was not cool.

so, when we moved, we discussed what to do. we decided not to get an internet connection in the house for awhile. we didn´t really rule it out forever, but we weren´t making any commitments yet. in the fall, we revisited the internet idea. we need to change our cable company (they´ve gotten rid of all of the channels we originally signed on for · and i know that sounds ridiculous, but i need to find english for my kids where i can get it) and we looked into bundle packages.

but, we sat down and talked about it and for so many reasons we´ve decided not to do it. not yet. because i have internet at work (usually it´s constant, but recently there have been some problems, hence my absence on this blog!) and amalio does as well. we have a set up to get internet in the house when we need it. (3G connections are sublime)

we´ve decided that this year we´re going to be more intentional about the time we spend together · we´re both working a lot and so the time we have with the kids needs to be quality. it needs to be not consumed by surfing the internet and playing on facebook. because, if we actually used the internet for something useful, we´d have internet already.

it´s hard. there are so many times that i want to sit down at the computer and plan my classes, download stuff for the kids, find activities, read gossip, catch up with friends. but in the end, this is about living life today and not wasting time with things suck so much time away from me.

i´ll be back on here more regularly as soon as they fix the problem on the work computers, with pictures and anecdotes and tons of fun. miss you.

on a side note, i´m looking for people to skype with my students · we´d send you a list of questions beforehand, and just open up the conversation about living where you live, lifestyle and employment stuff. let me know if that´s something that´s interesting and we´ll see if we can work it out!

Friday, January 13, 2012

hold your horses, gregory!

i'm still in internet limbo, friends.

i'll be up and running (hopefully) next week!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

traffic jam part II

remember when i wrote about the traffic jam a few weeks ago - where i sat in a car for hours? well, the situation hasn't really been rectified, so i've just resorted to taking a different public car home everyday (which, when streets aren't being torn up, is actually longer for me, but now is much shorter). i drove by the culpable construction the other day - and this is what i saw - a whole, major intersection torn up - for days and days.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

drive time.

i was coasting along in the mini-van today, kids all snuggled safely in their carseats, rocking out to something on the radio. then, i realized i was like falling asleep. not dangerous falling asleep, don't get me wrong. but, it was like i didn't even need to pay attention to what was going on. what?

when we first got to the states three weeks ago, i stopped at every single stop sign and waited. to make sure that nobody was going to blow their stop sign and hit me. and i hesitated at every new green light, just in case someone didn't accelerate to beat the yellow. i was aggressive and defensive.

but, in philadelphia so many people follow the rules. almost all of them. if there's a stop sign, they stop. a yellow light? slow down. and i think this is why americans have such a hard time adapting to driving in developing countries.

it's not that there aren't any rules, it's just that there are so many rule-breakers. so, yes, in santiago, we have stop signs but sometimes they seem almost optional. and there are certain traffic lights that are more like a precautionary warning.

once i got used to it, i felt safer driving than i do in philly. why? because i'm alert and on the ball. all.of.the.time. i can't be day dreaming at the wheel because who knows what that guy next to me is going to try to do next. i don't talk on the phone or rock out to my music. (besides, it's way easier to rock out to hip hop or rock than it is to rock out to merengue... that's more like hip wigglin' music).

so, on my way to the store to pick up a cheapy backpack for our travels (we're headed home tomorrow), i felt like a passive driver. and ironically i didn't feel safer driving with all of the rules and regulations of the road.

i think it's a sign that i'm ready to head back to the sun and warmth. and sometimes chaos.

we leave philly at noon and arrive in santiago around 830 tomorrow night. luckily i'm not hitting the ground running (i originally thought we were leaving thursday) and work doesn't start until friday morning (classes on monday). i'll probably be a.w.o.l. from the blog for a week or so, miss me!

Monday, January 2, 2012

new year @ home

i was determined to be asleep early on new years eve. we got early dinner (and by early i mean, like senior citizen early). and i was going to put on a movie for the kids.

but my dear friend jaime called and she was around with her kids. so we went and played for awhile. then, i went home and was going to bed.

me and jaime grew up together - from like the day i was born. her grandparents lived across the street from us, and her and her sister were there a lot. and chuck and judy were just like my grandparents, too. back in the good old days when people actually knew their neighbors and everyone looked out for everyone else's kids. 

we walked the wall next door, played tag and wall ball and got in trouble. 

so at 11, jaime came over and we rang in the new year, old school style. her kids came out with pots and pans and ran up and down the street like crazies. then we sat around making fun of the drunkies walking up the street barefoot (because we live on a hill and stupid people decide to go partying at the bottom wearing stilettos... it's amazing that there aren't more broken necks on party days).

so, bed at 4am when i had planned an early escape!
here we are standing in the middle of the street under the street light trying to get a picture. i've got a blanket wrapped around me because it wasn't really cold enough for a coat. but i'm too carribean now to brave it out.

we've got just a two days left in philly and then we're headed home. i'm doing magic tricks to get all of this stuff packed into suitcases and ready to go. (cross your fingers that i can figure it out)