Friday, June 21, 2013

in transit.

 last summer we got a car... it had been a long decision in the making - after our car accident we had sworn off another vehicle. until it became obvious that we needed wheels to get the kids to school and it would be cheaper to own a car than pay for the bus. (this crazy decision also included needing to move to a place where we could actually park a car, but that's irrelevant today).

shortly after we purchased, the car started to have some problems. i mean, it is 10 years old and lives in the caribbean. we were bound to have something happen.

we had the transmission cleaned and it did well for a few months before we knew that we'd need to replace the entire transmission in order to fix the problem. it took awhile to come to terms with that - but the car is now in the shop, getting fixed.

and i'm on foot.

it's not terrible - santiago has a pretty extensive public transit system - with three routes that pass within walking distance of the house taking me both to school and the university, a bus that transects the city (also within walking distance of the house) and a slew of motor-bike taxis waiting for passengers everywhere.

it's a nice change of pace. i can read on my way to work (or, let's be honest, play fruit ninja) and not worry about the crazy driving happening around us. i don't have to worry about running into the traffic police.i do have to walk a lot. which is also excellent. except when it's 109 degrees.

yesterday, we went to the bank to cash a check (which probably deserves a blog post of its own), and then got dropped off in the city to buy graduation clothes for samil. (that's right, my baby is graduating from kindergarten tomorrow!) we walked from store to store and then to the final super-market-super-store.

now, in nine years, you can imagine i've had issues with the transportation- everything from car accidents to overcharging for services. but, lately, i've been working on patience and trying to deal with things in the dominican way. tranquila.

but i've got little patience. and it had already been a long day.
we load up some groceries and the graduation clothes into the trunk, get in and. and, nothing. the car doesn't start. i give the driver the benefit of the doubt, and wait it out as he turns the key over and over again. he finally gets the car on and putters to the turn-about. as he turns - on the busiest street in santiago, the car shakes as the guy tries to pull a u-turn.

"it's just a problem with the gasolina"
um, ok. that doesn't sound great. i tell him to stop. pull over, buddy. he continues to try to convince that the car will take off in just a second.

i start waving my hand out the window to the taxis parked across the street.

"no, senora, i promise that the car will go, it will get us where you're going."

seriously? i didn't want to freak out on this guy. i had to yell at him to stop the car and even then he continued with his promises of getting us where we needed to go - all at 5 miles per hour.
 we switched the bags to the trunk of a new taxi - one which pulled off just fine and had us home in 10 minutes.

i want my car back.

Monday, June 17, 2013

spring cleaning.

every year i try to go through the house at least once and purge. i did it, kind of, a few weeks ago. but i was so busy and didn't really have enough time to do it right. so, recently i've been finding things that need to go. i had bagged up old toys for redistribution - i mean, come on, my youngest is four - what do i still need a boppy cover for? or a rattle neither of the kids ever played with? somehow, though, those toys that were in bags, mysteriously ended up back in toy boxes and i have to start over again.

i struggle with giving things away... and even using things we have. for two different reasons.
the first. we live on an island. and things are really expensive here. so, if i get some really cool scrapbook paper, i'm hard bent to use it because... what if, in the future, the undefined future... i really have something i need just this piece of paper for. and if i use it today, then i won't have it. and i'll have nowhere to buy, save a trip to the states. see? i've gotten better. my craft bin is actually quite bare lately, and that's okay.

and this spills over into other areas as well. it's been a constant struggle with myself to give teachers materials that i know that they don't know how to use. that the kids can't appreciate (because they haven't seen it yet to learn appreciation) because, well, when they know how to use it, then they can have it. which is absolutely ridiclous, right? how can they learn, if i don't give it to them?

and then, i have a really hard time giving things away because i struggle (a lot) with what that means for the person receiving from us. i've discussed that in length on the blog before, but it still resonates pretty deep. giving, even in its simplest form - hand-me-down clothes and toys - can create problems.

this morning i began to tackle my bedroom. i got rid of a bunch of clothes and some shoes that i don't wear. they're sitting by the door and my closet it pretty clean. hidden in the junk, i found some old pictures, a few pesos and stash of craft supplies that i probably had been hiding for another day. but i just watched my students give three distinct presentations on seizing the day - each focused on the words of amazing people. so.

today, when i get home from school, we're going to use those craft supplies. because, there is no better day than today.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

and the year is over.

it's been an amazing, intense year. we jumped from 24 students to 96 seemingly overnight.
it's been a learning journey - with a huge learning curve. every single one of the problems that i was absolutely sure we'd encounter didn't even touch the radar - and every single thing i had never fathomed blew the radar up.
on a daily basis.

we dealt with organizational issues and cultural lack-of-understanding and just plain teaching problems. 
it was stressful. for real.
but it was fun. and it was enriching and i think i'll do it again.
this past saturday was kindergarten graduation. and by 3:59pm, i was swearing i would never do it again. so much stress, so much chaos. so much insanity.

but these faces.
so worth it. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

a summer-time tour of sorts.

girlinthedr - that's me! - will be in the great united states of america this summer! i was just in the states in may for a whirlwind tour of the east coast (that i've been meaning to blog about, but just haven't gotten there - sorry folks. it was short, it was sweet. it was amazing.)

anyway. i will be in the US of A for about three weeks at the beginning of august and am hoping to make the mid-west tour while we're there.

we have a ton of projects happening at Futuro Lleno de Esperanza and Poderosa Mujer - like traditional school, full day care, a jewelry program, prenatal classes (with Midwives for the Dominican Republic) - and part of the objective of this trip is to find groups, churches and friends to speak to. i'll have jewelry from PM and some goodies from the DR for sale and i've been in discussion with a few NGOs who might be able to help us take donations with a non-profit receipt for tax purposes.

you, loyal blog readers, can help!

do you have connections in your church to hook up some presentation time? belong to a book club that might be interested in hearing about our ministries? a small group, prayer group, wine-tasting club? know fellow crafters who would love to support crafters in the DR to support their families? like to host a baby shower to help women welcome their babies home?
it's a plea.
let me know - melanie512 @ gmail . com so we can make a schedule.
i already love you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

training them up.

samil and amely had a parent's day celebration last weekend - it was ridiculous on many levels (it started 44 minutes late, the speakers were way too loud and it was kind of disorganized) - but my biggest pet-peeve was on full-blast.

little girls in high heels.

not the little square, 1/2 inch heels that you wore as a child for church with cute little, ruffly socks. no, no, friends there are full out kitten heels or "stilettos" (albeit really low). in grown up fashions. no little mary-jane strap or ruffly socks. we have some friends whose not even two year old daughter wears heels. when i asked her mom about it - she told that she didn't start wearing heels until she was 15. that's the old tradition. but she says that even still her feet get tired and since she's expected to wear heels, and her daughters will be expected to wear heels, she might as well get them used to it now.

these are the trainers that i remember!
i won't even start on all the issues in that theory.
we might as well just slap some fishnets on these girls and call it a day.

it's not just shoes either. it's clothes and underclothes. i've been amazingly surprised to see the underwear that our students wear at school. while amely is still prancing around in little cotton panties with the little mermaid stamped on the front, these girls are wearing their teenage sisters hand me downs - silky, boyshorts, kind-of thongs. i'm not sure that i've come across one pair of regular cotton panties on one little girl since i started working at school.

and. the bras! i remember movies and after-school specials of little girls who had to beg for training bras. once they got over the embarrassment of asking for one, and mom got over the embarrassment of buying one - it was usually a cotton sports bra type thing, right? well. here in the supermarket/superstore you can buy your six year old a padded bra, complete with the playboy bunny bedazzled on the boob.

obviously i'm not of the school of thought that little girls should be taught to conform to ridiculous fashion and beauty standards. in fact, at the very same parent's day activity, we won a raffle and were gifted hair relaxer and some special treatment for the hair - i looked at amalio and jewel and laughed. of all the things on the raffle table, i won the thing that was least apt for us. i can't tell you the last time i even really brushed my hair. amely is lucky that she gets hers slapped into a ponytail every morning.

i think it's even more absurd that we teach girls from such a young age that heels are necessary parts of being a girl and that we should wear these padded bras because - god forbid - you don't get any boobies, you'll have to figure out how to cope with that. whatever happened to letting kids be kids and learning those hard, mean facts of the world later? when they're grown enough to know that we're all different?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

are my pants too tight?

dominican fashion is ... interesting. it's very similar to what is popular in the united states - on tv and in magazines - but, despite the latina body-shape not being very similar to white-girl body-shape, clothes are sold only in junior sizes in cuts that are only flattering to people with little to no butts or thighs. if you know j-lo, you know that forever 21 and journey styles just don't really cut it.

and. while most stores have changing rooms, i'm not sure that i've ever seen one used to try on clothes. pants are measured by wrapping the waist around your neck, if it fits your neck, then you buy them. shirts are short and tight.

very tight.
and because the pants are usually the wrong size, they tend to be very tight as well.

the other day, when jewel and i went to the supermarket/superstore, we saw the staff trying to fit a pair of jeans on a mannequin's legs. we stood and stared - i am not above being the ridiculous gawker. then i quick stole her phone to snap some pictures. the process of fitting the jeans might have taken 10 minutes and it involved at least six store employees.

i'm sure there was probably a pair of jean just one size bigger that would have fit the mannequin perfectly, but that would have been too easy.

just another day in the dominican republic.