Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Pics are from the first day of school in August. I tried to get Kierstin to have a roommate take one of her so that I could continue the tradition, but she was reluctant.......wonder why?........
The law here states that anyone attending school must wear a uniform (the exception being college). This applies to private and public schools. I don't know the reason for the rule.

For our family it has been a good thing and I actually love that they wear uniforms. I will often hear the girls wondering "Hmm, should I go with the blue polo and the khaki pants?" And then the other will say "I was thinking the khaki pants would look better with the blue polo" At the beginning of this school year Kari told me that she was glad that they wore uniforms, since it would be impossible to "keep up" or feel comfortable with the other kids that they go to school with.

Kambrielle, being in elementary, has 2 uniforms. The blue polo with khaki's for regular days, and the PE shirt and shorts for PE days (they alternate, every other day). I only purchased 3 blue shirts for her, since that is normally the most that she would wear in one week.

When I do the laundry I hang the polo shirts to dry, since they would shrink terribly if I were to dry them (1. 100% cotton; 2. My dryer has only two settings..... hot and hotter) This makes them a bit wrinkly when they are dry. A few months ago I started asking the lady who helps me if she could press the shirts (they iron EVERYTHING here) and so the girls have been going to school nicely pressed and starched.

On Friday, Kambrielle went with her class to see a ballet. The rule is that when you leave campus all students must have on their blue polo uniform and long pants or a skirt. This kind of messed up our laundry schedule, as Friday was supposed to be a PE day. When Kambrielle went to get dressed yesterday, she found that there were no shirts in her closet, due to the extra shirt that she used on Friday when she went on her field trip. It was clean and hanging up in the laundry room. She grabbed it from the hanger and then there was a giant pause.

"What is wrong with this shirt?" I quickly looked it over and didn't see any problem.
"Nothing", I replied.

"It is all.......krinkly and has.......lines in it!"

"It just didn't get pressed yet, honey"

"Am I really supposed to wear it this way? Aren't you going to iron it?"

What have I created?

This conversation was going on as I was doing someone else's dinner job that they "forgot" to do the night before. Nope, I didn't iron it. Yep, she went to school without that fresh starch feeling. Cruel child punishment, for sure.


Friday, November 13, 2009

It won't be like this for long....

Snapped these a few days ago. Kambrielle was so excited to get her turn on the Guitar Hero, as there was no school due to parent-teacher conferences. She is so cute when she plays it. She can play better than me! (OK, everyone can play better than me!)

I didn't hear anything for awhile, so I looked over to see what was up and caught her fast asleep with the guitar laying across her. So cute.
I got a new CD when my parents came. It is a collection of popular country songs, since I can't get them on any stations here. I was listening to the song "It Won't Be Like This for Long" by Darius Rucker. I love the words and the idea behind this song. Now that my youngest is growing up I find that I am trying to enjoy the stages that everyone is going through more.
I am thinking of having "it won't be like this for long...." put in vinyl and put it on the wall in my living room. It is a great reminder for me. Remember to enjoy the fun that you are having right now, with my children, with my husband and with the experiences that we are having. Also, when I am going through something really hard, remember, it won't be long until I can look back on it because I made it through.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tender Mercies

Going to church here is kind of hard for me.

It is hot and uncomfortable, as there is no A/C and the benches are hard wood, no padding at all. There is no carpet anywhere and the building is always dirty (There is no custodian at all for the building and when families are assigned to come and clean it, most of them do not show up for their turn. So, if we are lucky it might get cleaned once a month). I don't understand 90% of what is being said and someone stole part of the translation equipment, so Kevin can't translate for the ward anymore. He ordered a new set, but it will take several months to get here and make it through customs. I really have not bonded with anyone in the ward and so there is no social interaction in between sacrament meeting and when I go to primary. And, I teach Primary in a room that is really just for storage of old junk that for some reason they can't get rid of....... our class of two sits in there with the broken ping pong table, the broken ugly green metal (rusting) cabinet that stores the primary junk that no one uses and the broken, chipped top table that I use to put my primary manual on. The room doesn't even have it's own door. I have to try and listen to what is going on in the other room and then open the accordian door that separates us from them when it is time to go, so that we can go out their door.......

These were the things going through my mind as I left for church in a rush with breakfast still sitting on the table, calling out to the ants, no makeup on as I spent all my time getting some extra activities for my primary class (which I forgot on the kitchen counter, sigh). I told Kevin "Will I make it through today? Maybe I should just stay home." (Of course I didn't)

We made it into sacrament a bit early and had to sit on the front row, as there were no benches with enough space available where we could sit together except there. (Older girls loved sitting there!) Smiled at a few people and waved at a cute girl from Primary who I just love. (That is all that we do, is smile and wave as we can't really understand each other that well. She does like to come and sit by me during sharing time)

The first speaker got up to give his talk. He looks to be in his early 20's and was baptized a few months ago. Kevin knows him, but I don't really know him at all. He was well prepared and looked anxious to share his message with us. What I didn't know is that he has a very pronounced stuttering problem. Probably the worst that I have ever heard. Ever. He struggled and struggled and struggled to get through his talk. Since we were on the front row, I sat looking at the brother, trying to encourage him with my eyes and attention (Don't you just hate it when you are giving a talk and you look out at the congregation and it appears that maybe 2 people are listening? Everyone else is looking down, texting, studying their lesson to give next hour, etc?) I was praying for him, as was everyone else in the congregation. I thought that maybe he would be blessed to be able to share his talk clearly, or to be able to get through a sentence without struggling. Here he was, brand new in the gospel, giving a talk in Sacrament with lots of visitors here today. If anyone deserved a miracle, he did. And yet, he didn't get one. He struggled to the very last sentence of his talk. He tried and tried and tried to share the scriptures and messages that he had prepared and yet he couldn't get the words to come out of his mouth.

And yet, what could have been agonizing and awkward wasn't. I haven't felt the spirit as strongly in our Sacrament meeting in a long time. You could tell that every member there today was really rooting for him and pleading for him to be successful. When he finished, I could hear and see several sisters crying; being overcome by the spirit. I don't know how many people understood his words. There were a lot of American missionaries and ex-patriate families, like ourselves, there who speak mostly English. There was a family there from Russia. There was a large group visiting today from Guadalupe and French Guyana who spoke only French. And I am sure that those who spoke fluent Spanish had a hard time understanding. Blessedly for us, the Spirit can speak to each of us individually so that we can understand the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.

So, I guess that it doesn't have to be perfect to go to church. No, I don't have my great ward family from Utah anymore. No, I don't have a building that is new, nice or even clean. No, I can't communicate with most of my Brothers and Sisters in the ward. But I can feel the Spirit. I can know of the truthfulness of the gospel. And I can know that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to try to teach me what is really important here on the earth today.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scripture Study

When we went to Stake Conference one of the Stake Presidency asked the members of the stake to read the Book of Mormon. I didn't understand everything that they said, but at the end of the conference they handed out charts to track your reading, where you color in one block for each chapter that you read.

I decided that we needed all of the blessings that we could get, so for FHE this week we talked about personal scripture study, read an article from Elder Bednar in The Friend about how to get the most out of your scripture study, read an article from The Ensign about scripture study and then made some goals. We broke the chapters in the Book of Mormon into 20 chapter segments and then decided upon rewards that the girls could earn. They were things like a candy bar, a pack of gum, and when they finish, a dinner date with mom and dad. The rewards were every 20 chapters for the first 100 chapters, every 25 chapters for the second 100 chapters and then just one reward for the final 37 chapters. We taped the charts up on the wall in the kitchen so that the girls can fill them in when they finish a chapter.
You have never seen such scripture reading in your life. Kaitlin got the first prize (as she had been reading for Seminary) and now Kambrielle is determined to be the next one to earn it. She is allready on chapter 11, after only three days. Mom is the one currently in last place!!! Kambrielle has declined watching Dancing with the Stars with us the last two nights and decided to read scriptures instead. She has fallen asleep with her Book of Mormon on her face for the last two nights!
Today I went to the Distribution center and went a little crazy for Spanish items. I got the CD's for the car of the Primary children's songbook, then I got pocket size hymn books for everyone in the family (there are never enough hymn books in the chapel), Spanish triple combinations and the new Spanish bible. I also ordered a subscription to the Liahona, so that I can read the Ensign in English and then practice my Spanish with the Liahona. Hopefully I can have a moment like Elder Groberg, in the movie The Other Side of Heaven, where he learns the language by using the scriptures........hey, it could happen!
What have you done with your family to encourage individual scripture study?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yummy Black Bean Salsa

A month or so ago I was looking around on allrecipes.com and decided that I wanted to make some black bean salsa. Making things here is always a bit of a challenge, since I can't always find the ingredients. So I took a few recipes, tweaked them to the way that we like and threw some things together and came up with this. Granted, it is a little different every time that I make it, but that is how a good salsa is.

I guess technically this really isn't salsa. My friends from Mexico remind me that for it to be salsa the ingredients have to be ground together with a mortar and pestle and the vegetables are usually cooked slightly by roasting them. So, I guess it is really a black bean pico de gallo, if you want to be Mexicanally correct (like that word I made up?)

This is what the left overs looked like..... yep, I should have taken a picture first, but just thought about sharing it after we had all ready devoured a large portion. The bowl was full, so you can see how much the girls like it. Kevin wasn't home, or there would have been no left overs. Plus, it is a very sneaky way to get them to eat fresh veggies!

Black Bean Salsa:
7-9 roma tomatoes
1 large yellow pepper (you can use green or red, I just like the flavor of the yellow)
1-2 large poblano peppers
2 serrano peppers (or to your hotness taste)
1 15 ounce can black beans (or that amount of cooked from scratch beans, what I do)
1 15 ounce can corn (or even better, that amount of frozen sweet white corn, defrosted)
1 medium to large red onion
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes
2-3 tsp. ground cumin
about 1 1/2 tsp. salt
about 1 Tbsp. white sugar

Dice the tomatoes, onions and peppers and place in a large bowl. I like to seed the serranos, because we don't like it too hot. When you cut the serranos, make them as teeny-tiny as you possible can and then wash, wash, wash your hands. Add the corn, which has been drained. Drain and rinse the black beans several times until the water from them runs clear. Add to the bowl. Take the bunch of cilantro and cut it up with a pair of kitchen shears. Add to the bowl. Sprinkle seasonings over the vegetables and mix well. Cut limes and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Mix well and then taste. Season according to taste. Kevin likes a bit more sugar, to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and I like a lot of cumin. Mess around with it until you get your favorite taste. Let sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.

The salsa is better with frozen corn, but I can't get that here. Or you could use fresh corn on the cob, cut it off and blanch for 2-3 minutes, cool and then add to the salsa.

For dinner tonight I made the salsa, then grilled some chicken breasts and made some rice that I cooked in chicken broth, in place of the water. Served the rice with chicken on the side. Covered the chicken with salsa and then gave the girls a big scoop of salsa on the side to eat with tortilla chips. It would have been really yummy if I had melted a bit of Colby jack cheese on top of the chicken breast before putting the salsa on top..... thought of that one too late.

I have started cooking the black beans from a bag of dried beans and then putting a serving in a plastic container and freezing them. Then I just pop a container out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the night before (if I think of it), or I will defrost it by letting it sit in a larger container of hot water, like I did today, since I didn't plan ahead. The canned beans are a lot more expensive here than the dried ones, and black beans are very easy to cook.

Give this a try and see if you like it! Buen Provecho!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spanish Humor - Middle School Style

Kari has been working hard in her Spanish class. The girls all have SSL (Spanish as a Second Language) every day for 1 period. It is pretty easy in Elementary school, but gets serious in middle and high school. Kaitlin's class is all in Spanish, no English spoken.

Today Kari came home with some writing on her hands and couldn't wait to show it to me. And so, we share it with you.......

If you don't know what it says..... too bad!!! Look it up! If we have to learn Spanish, so do you! Go to freetranslation.com and see what it says!

Kari is on the Middle School Peer Team. They help at school functions, do service for the other kids in the school and when someone new moves in they are there to help them, provide support for them and be a friend. It has been a fun experience and I know that the other girls want to try to do it next year too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bad, Bad Parents

CAUTION - Bad examples enclosed - Don't read if you don't have a sense of humor-

Yesterday we had Stake Conference. It was being held at a chapel that we had never been to before, so we were up and left an hour early so that we could follow our neighbors, the Munive family, who knew how to get there. Sister Anderson and her two sons met us at our parking garage so that she could follow us as well.

We made it to the chapel with plenty of time to spare and we staked out a row that was as close to the front as we could get, while still being under a moving ceiling fan. They were trying to get as many people in the chapel and gym area as they could, and so the chairs were as squished as you could get them (my knees were touching the bum of the lady in front of me when she sat down..... you get the picture......) Needless to say we were a little warm and a bit uncomfortable. There was no A/C, but the fan did help a little.

We were there a full 35 minutes early and so we were visiting quietly with the Munive's behind us and watching people while they came in. There was some cheek kissing going on when people that we knew came in and some hand shaking, but mostly people watching. Kami had her coloring book out and ready and Kaitlin and Kari were working on their personal progress books, the stuff that they could do that involved scripture reading. They were prepared, as there would be no translation and so I knew that no one but Kevin would understand what was being said. The girls were being great. There was no fighting and they were just troopers to go in and sit in that hot area for 2 1/2 hours where they would not understand anything.

Back to the story. There was a woman about 4-5 rows in front of us who kept standing up (this was before it started) and she was turned around, so that she was facing the back. She had her children around her and a baby (maybe 10-12 months) that was pulling on her shirt. After a long while she picked the baby up and was holding it (don't know if it was a boy or girl) facing the back. YIKES!!! You know how some babies are just not cute. Well, this baby fit into that category. It had a LOT of curly hair and was very fat.... but not cute fat.... just, weird fat. I was trying to be polite and just be quiet about the whole thing. A few minutes later, right before the opening song, Kevin leans over to me and says "Did you see that baby up there?" "Yes", I whisper back. "I just can't figure out what it looks like" says Kevin and after a pause we both look at each other and whisper "The Grinch!" at the same time.

I am serious, just imagine this picture with brown skin, no body fur and a lot of curly brown hair and you have an image of this baby. (The eye brows are just about right)

We were trying to control our laughing, but then the girls wanted to know what was causing this quiet shoulder shaking. We told them and then of course everyone was peering around the people in front of them, trying to get a peek at this baby. Kaitlin and Kari were just rolling their eyes at us, they couldn't believe we were their parents.

Later, as we were driving home Sister Anderson was following us to find her way home and when we got to a place that she was familiar with she went into the other lane to try to pass and let us know that she was OK from there. Of course, this resulted in Kevin speeding up and the girls yelling at him to pass her car. "Don't drag race with the General Authorities wife!" was coming out of my mouth, as we were going down the road.

I think that we needed a time out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Swimming Lessons - 2009

Today was the last day of swimming lessons for Kayli and Kambrielle. They started them the end of may and they ended today. This week was sort of a make-up for missed lessons due to pool closures and the teacher being sick. We had lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30. The nice thing was that the teacher came here and they were held at our pool. Not too bad of a commute!

This is the girls with their teacher Angeli. She is a marathon and triathlon competitor and teaches PE and Chemistry during the school year. She does swimming lessons during the summers to augment her amazingly high teacher salary. (If you thought teachers in the US were paid bad.....)

Kayli perfected her freestyle stroke this summer and learned the back stroke and the butterfly. Her butterfly is really strong.......I see a swim team member in high school! She started learning Olympic turns this week and her homework was to work on them the rest of the summer. Not her favorite thing to do, but they sure look cool when people do them!

Kambrielle came to the DR five months ago with pretty much no swimming skills. I had signed her up for lessons but things kept getting in the way and then last year they closed the pools in Utah due to cryptosporum (sp?) and so her lessons were cancelled. The breaks of being the last child!
Since she has been swimming all the time and having great lessons she is now an outstanding swimmer. She has the crawl stroke down to a T, with the right breathing technique, can do the back stroke, and started the butterfly this week. Pretty good for a 7 year old! Plus, she looks so cute in her new yellow swimsuit, mirror goggles and lime green swimcap!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Amazing Experience

Today I had an amazing experience! It was truly fabulous and life changing. "What was it", you ask breathlessly.......... swimming with dolphins, a pedicure on the beach with the wind blowing my hair, watching the whales swim off the side of my boat while we race thru the water? No, none of those.

This was better.
Today I had a maid clean my house. Not just any maid, but a real maid. One that I didn't have to explain anything to. One that scrubbed down my walls, cleaned out the fridges, made the glass shower stalls look like glass again..... I could go on and on. If this blog were auditory, you would be hearing the Hallelujah chorus right now.

No, I didn't sit on the couch eating bon bons while she worked. I was sorting through the piles of papers that are sitting on my kitchen counter, my desk and my dresser. Maybe some day I will be able to have a place for everything and everything in its place, but for now I am just so excited that the toilets are clean and you can see the top of the dryer.
When I found out that we were moving here lots of people asked me if I would get a maid. "Of course not," I scoffed. I was a modern American woman who could do everything. Well, I have fallen off my high horse. I can't do everything. And so, I am very grateful for a humble, hard working woman named Morena who is willing to help me and for so little pay.
And the best part........ she comes again next week!
PS: Kierstin comes in a few days...... then there will be posts with actual pictures from my camera, as she will be helping her technology impaired mom with her blogging skills!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I can have it my way......right?

We Americans are spoiled. Yes, you say, we are...... but I want to tell you how spoiled we are. Really, Really, Really spoiled. I didn't understand how spoiled until moving here.

One of my favorite things to do in Syracuse, on the drive home from the gym, was to drive thru the gas station (yes, I didn't even have to get out of my car!) and pick up a 44 ounce diet coke (caffeine free, even, since it was Utah!) for only 89 cents. This would get me happily thru the day. Throw in some of their 99 cent tater babies with the free dipping sauce and life was really good. Love that carbonation and crunchy ice. Ummmm, I am drooling just thinking about it.

Fast forward to the DR and here you get teeny tiny drinks with your meals. I am talking Happy Meal size for this 44 ounce girl. And don't even suggest asking for no ice so that you get more drink.....no way. AND (gasp here) no refills. Really. No where. So, when you finish those fries, which were given to you with one small ketchup packet that you had to beg for, and your throat is parched because it is like 90 degrees with 95% humidity it is just too bad for you.

Imagine our excitement when we found a new Burger King a few weeks ago that has a drink machine in the dining room, instead of under lock and key back with the employees. We saw stars and exploding fireworks! The excitement!!! The possibilities!!! Needless to say we were excited to try it out. (insert here kids home from school.....mom can we go? mom can we go? mom can we go? Get the picture?)

Today the fumigator came to kill the disgusting bugs that like to live in my apartment and so I saw a perfect opportunity. We have to vacate for awhile after he is done spraying the toxic fumes and so we went to Burger King where there is not only a drink machine, but also a play land. Could life get any better?

The kiddos ordered their combos and when the food was ready Kambrielle was inspecting her hamburger to make sure no disgusting things were lurking there. It had just ketchup on it and so I thought things would be fine.
" There are no pickles here" she said with an interesting face.

So, I trooped up to the front and tried to remember how to say pickles in Spanish to get the mishap resolved. When I told the "server" that we were missing the pickles the following conversation ensued:
" I am just missing the pickles on this hamburger"
" They don't come with pickles."
" Yes they do."
"No, they don't"
"Yes, they do."
" No, they don't"
"Look at the picture. There are pickles there." (pointing to the kids meal picture over her head)
"No there aren't"
"Yes, a hamburger comes with ketchup, mustard, and pickles. I just need the pickles"
"There are no pickles on it"
From the lady standing in line next to me....."Yes, there are pickles on the picture."
" It doesn't come with pickles"

"PLEASE, just give me the pickles"

At this point the huffy lady hands the burger to another worker, who takes it back to talk to another worker, who points to it and then talks to another worker, who nods in agreement. (I am watching this all carefully to make sure no "extra" liquids end up on Kami's burger) Finally the third worker takes out three pickle slices, places two on top of the hamburger, vascillates for a moment about whether to "throw in" the third pickle, decides not to and puts it back and rewraps the burger and brings it back to me. All the while I have a smile pasted on my face, so that they don't think that I am an "ugly American".

Remember, this is all at Burger King, where the motto is "Have it your way"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fabulous Fideo

So, I am really missing Cafe Rio. Yes, Jenn, Kathi and Billie Kaye, I know that you are all shocked! :-) Each day of the week Cafe Rio has a special. Fridays are Fideo Friday and I would sometimes get that when we would go out for date night. It is really delicous there and I was hoping to recreate it. While this is not exactly Cafe Rio, I think that your family will enjoy it. It was a hit at our house!

2 Tbsp. oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (12 ounce) package fideo ( I used a 14 ounce package, because that is what they sold!)
5 Roma tomatoes (I used 4 large salad type)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin ( I use a little extra!)
salt and pepper to taste
2 (plus) cups of chicken broth (or water with boullion)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (that is all they have here. At home I would use a 1/2 cheddar 1/2 monterey jack blend)(or colby is good too!)
fresh cilantro
sour cream
tortilla strips ( I don't know how to do these.....any help Heidi?)

Put the oil into a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breasts in the oil until nicely browned on the outside (and cooked through). Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the onion and pepper to the oil and cook until tender, but not brown. Add the fideo noodles. Cook, stirring constantly until the fideo is lightly browned. Drain off any excess oil and add tomatoes and seasonings. Dice the chicken breasts and return to the skillet. Pour in the water, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until pasta is tender and water has been absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro and tortilla strips. Eat it and think loving thoughts about me!

A word about the noodles and the water:
They sell fideo in any supermarket. I always bought mine at Walmart or an IGA store. If you can't find them with the regular noodles, look for them with the Mexican food items. At home I only saw them sold as Fideos Corto, which is Cut Fideo..... so they were in small pieces. Here they sold them as very long pieces, all wound up together (coiled vermicelli). Because of this I used like 4-5 cups of broth when I made this last week. You want the noodles covered while it cooks and the Fideos very moist when served. Mess around with the amount of water, checking every few minutes and adding when necessary. I think it probably uses less water is it is the Fideos Corto. You want it saucy when it is done, but not soup.

You can also make this a beef version by using beef broth and cooking steak strips, in place of the chicken. Personally, I wouldn't cook it with hamburger, but to each his own.

The really interesting thing is that this is called "Mexican Spaghetti" by some. When I told my neighbor, Emma Munives, who is from Mexico City, that I was making fideos for dinner she said that in Mexico fideo is only a soup. She had never had it the way that I prepared it (and had assumed was Mexican!) but she really liked it!

So, give this a try. It is relatively inexpensive and way good!
As they say here in the DR "Buen Provecho!"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Free Chocolate Friday

Today, May 15th, Mars (makers of my favorite, peanut M&M's) is giving out coupons for a free Mars candy to the first 500,000 people who go to their site http://www.realchocolate.com/ and simply ask for the coupon!

I filled one out and put in Kierstin's name, as the coupon won't do me much good, and it only took a minute. One per e-mail address and 4 per mailing address. You get it in about 6 weeks.....how's that for delayed gratification?

SO, who doesn't love free chocolate? Get one and enjoy it for me!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Do I have sucker stamped across my forehead?......wait, yes, I think I do

Today my new friend Denise came over to help me with my overwhelming house. I am at that point where there are piles of things sitting around because I just don't know where to put them. (Kind of like I have been for the last 20 years!) It is always easier to get something done when you have a friend there to keep you going and motivated and so she came over to kick my bum into gear.

We tidied and I emptied a big box and we got everything off of the floor in the "great room" area. It earned this remark from the kids when they came home from school. "Hey wait, it's clean in here. What happened?" (said in an incredulous voice). Well, after all that work we definitely needed some lunch out and so we hopped in the marvelous mini-van and toodled down the road in search of a place to eat lunch.

There was a place called "Don Pinchos" that we have passed on our frantic trips down the one-way streets of the capital. With all of these one way streets and no left turn signs around here you get to see a lot of areas you never would have traveled on. So we decided to be brave and give it a try. Remember, we are 2 ladies from northern Utah with a very minimal hold of the language going into a lunch spot that is teeming with locals. (Denise got here 1 month after me. She is from Layton, Utah and her husband is the new director of Church Welfare here. They have 6 adult kids and are here being empty-nesters. They are here on a three year assignment. We have a good time laughing at ourselves and our hacking of the language)

When we entered the restaurant we came in a door right next to the bathrooms. I thought that we must have gone in the back door, but that was the front! There was a buffet type area where everyone was walking down the line and giving a lady their order (kind of like a line in the school cafeteria when you grew up) and then paying at the end of the line. The food looked good, but as we were struggling to try to ask the server some questions a waiter came up to us, shook his head, and directed us to a table with some menus. Well, this looked promising. Denise and I commenced trying to guess what the items were. We knew it was some kind of beef or some kind of pork, or some kind of chicken or a mixture of something, but exactly what it was we were ordering was still a small mystery. I went for the easy way out and got a chicken sandwich while Denise was brave and went for Pinchos Mixtos which ended up being a delectable shish-kabob made of beef, chicken breast and pork. The meal was yummy, but no one else seemed to be eating what we were. When the bill came around, my sandwich (insert sandwich only, no pickle, chips or fries accompanied that lonely plate) was $150 pesos and Denise's kabobs with salad and rice were $315 pesos. Add on to that a 26% tax and a tip and you've got the idea. We paid up and while Denise used the restroom I asked the serving lady at the line, in my broken Spanish, how we would do the line, if we came again. She informed me that the cafeteria style line came with your choice of several rice dishes, a meat choice and a salad for $90 pesos.......no tax and no gratuity added on top.......... and then she smiled and sadly shook her head at me. Yep, that waiter saw me coming..........

That is one thing that makes me crazy here. I feel like I constantly have to be on the defensive against being ripped off. They expect a tip for everything and there is someone at every corner asking for money or selling something and they will not leave you alone. I just say no, shake my head and wave my pointer finger back and forth (that's the way you say no here) and then pretend they are not there. Which, by the way, is against all the courtesy and charity lessons I ever received in the US in Relief Society!!!! The prices are always higher for me, because of my white skin, unless it is at a store where they scan things in. Several times my friend Emily Munives, from Mexico, has taken me to the farmer's market. When I come with, the prices are higher than when she goes alone. The last time the guy actually gave her one price for a pineapple and then told her my price would be higher. Now I have to sit in the car when they shop. :-) Her mom went and got the plants that I wanted for the house for me. When I was there they were 1,200 pesos for one. When she went back without me, she got 3 for $1,200 pesos. Now we have a system where I show them or tell them what I want and then they go buy it for me..... making sure that the seller doesn't see us together!

Isn't discrimination illegal?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away....Come Again Tomorrow About 2:00

I can't find my camera!!! Darn it all. I hope that it is just misplaced and hasn't "walked away", like some things like to do here. Unfortunately, with all of the different people who come into my home to work on the constant leaks, outages, etc. things can sometimes dissappear! I have things that I want to post, but I always think "How boring!" without a picture, but I will forge on and hope that the camera shows up.

We have just begun the rainy season. Tonight I went to Domino's for pizza (yes, Kevin is gone and I just couldn't cook tonight!). Kambrielle and I drove in to get the pizza and while we were waiting the downpour began. It is hard to describe without seeing it. The rain pours down in sheets and when the wind blows you can see the rain moving...... it looks just like in one of those really bad 1960's movies with the terrible special effects. We waited an extra 5 minutes and decided we would have to run for it. By the time that we got to the car(it was parked close to the door) we were soaked. Kami was laughing her head off. It is really refreshing!

By the time it had been coming down 10-15 minutes the streets were flooding. Imagine that much rain at home and then try to imagine it trying to drain with inadequate or even non-existant storm drains. The streets became swimming pools at certain places, but were just fine in others. Everyone was just mainly driving down the middle of the 2 lane road, so that the puddles were to the side of your car. These rains can come and then be gone in a matter of a minute or two, or can last for 20-30 minutes, or you can have them for a long time during a storm. I can't imagine what it will be like during a tropical storm. My friend says that is why so many people have 4 wheel drive. I am not sure that my mini-van will be able to handle it. Maybe I can get it jacked up and have some mondo tires installed...... Something to think about!

I am glad for the rains as it cleans up the dirty air. It poured on us once when we were trying to put a mattress in our car at PriceSmart (Latin America's poor version of Costco) and in 2 minutes we were drenched to the skin. Kayli was with us and she had on a white shirt. It was just filthy from the rain when she made it into the car. Our car was also dirtier after the rain than before!

The interesting thing about this rainy season, according to the Dominicans that I have talked to, is that it generally only rains in the afternoon! Weird, huh? It will generally be clear in the morning and then there will be an afternoon shower which will only last a little while and then it may rain during the night (generally while you are asleep). I bet everyone in Oregon wishes that they could have scheduled rain like that!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Catching up.....

Every day I think of things to put in this blog, but then I think about all of the things that I need to catch everyone up on and I post nothing!

So, a quick update to catch up:

* At the end of December we were asked to take an International assignment for the LDS church. We moved to the Dominican Republic on February 16th and are still trying to unpack!

* Kevin's new job title is Area Physical Facilities Manager. He is over all planning, construction and maintenance of the church buildings, temple, CES buildings, mission homes, etc for the Caribbean area. He is gone a lot. (Insert sad crying sounds here)

* The girls are attending an international school here in the DR. It is called Carol Morgan School and you can google it if you are interested in finding out more about it. Classes are taught in English, although you hear an awful lot of Spanish being spoken everywhere! The girls take SSL (Spanish as a Second Language) as well as their other classes. The school is about 90% Dominican and 10% kids from other countries. They have friends who are Korean, South African, German, Iranian, and from other countries that I can't think of right now. It is a lot of fun, althought they miss their Utah friends terribly!

* I spend my day trying to not get killed when I drive everyone around (We have just one car here). The driving is insane. I also spend all day trying to buy groceries. And sometimes I watch Ellen when I can find it on the cable.

* Yes, we live by the ocean. However, it takes a minimum of 45 minutes to get to a decent beach. The good beaches are two hours away and some European ladies like to sunbathe there.....if you get my drift. You can see the Caribean Sea from my windows, but since Santo Domingo is a port town there are no beaches. Just waves crashing onto cliffs. Two weeks ago we were walking along the Malecon (road by the ocean) and we watched three kids climb down the cliff and go harpoon fishing. It was kind of scary.....attention kids, don't do this at home.......is the information that I wanted to make sure the girls got as they watched them climbing down!

* We live in an apartment building now in the middle of the city. A big change for this country girl. I am getting used to all the noises and to riding in an elevator. Love the pool, gym and tennis courts but really miss gardening and my beautiful yard. I just hope that some of you are enjoying my fabulous tulips since I can't enjoy them this year.......

* My saddest thing is selling our lovely home in Syracuse and knowing that we now no longer have a permanent place to call home. We have had 2 offers, one ridiculous and one waiting on a counter-offer, on the house and it will be sold to the relocation company on the 15th of May if no other offers are accepted before then. I am really missing all of my friends and the fabulous support that I had in Utah. Don't forget us just because we moved!

So, my goal is to share some of the fun, weird and interesting things that happen to us here with you. Remember that we are just a phone call away! (801)776-9323


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm posting again!!!

sorry about not writing! I didn't know anyone was reading it until today!

this is kaitlin by the way. my mom is out taking kari to the optometrist. she is pretty busy lately. she was the one who made me make this blog in the first place. maybe someday she will actually post on here!

anyways, we have been pretty busy around here getting ready to move to the Dominican Republic. we leave next Thursday to go down there to test and look for a house. it has been pretty busy around here. we've been packing up, getting physicals and shots!!! not extremely fun.

that's pretty much all I can think of to write. nothing of extreme importance or interest!