Saturday, November 27, 2010

Newest Members of the Family

I have been looking for some kittens for the girls for the last two months. I told my friends Charmaine and Julie and they were on the lookout for a kitten for me. While at the vet, Julie found out that there was a mother cat that had just had kittens and that we could have one in three weeks, when it could leave its' mother. She took photos of the kittens, so that we could choose, and brought her camera to Girl Scouts. I showed the photo to Kari and Kambrielle and told them that Kevin and I had decided that they could get a cat. Kari about hyperventilated and cried right there at school. They went home and told their sisters and we had the happiest girls around.

Fast forward a few weeks........ The lady with the cats won't call us back. No kittens are available..............insert sad and disillusioned children here. You can't get kittens here like at home. You don't really see them on the streets much, or people giving them away. I don't know why you don't see them more, especially with all the rats that are here, but I have my suspicions......(think dinner meats)

Friday when Kevin got back from work in the early afternoon we loaded the girls into the van and headed off to El Arca, one of the pet stores here in town. They had two kittens.... and only wanted $210 a piece. They were a himalyan siamese mix. I asked the worker there if he knew of anywhere we could go to get a kitten that just needed a home. He looked at me like I was insane and shook his head no (of course, I did interrupt his computer games he was playing...)

We went to another pet store in town and they also had three kittens for sale. These were a steal at $278 for the black ones, or $334 for the orange one. Needless to say, we left there without purchasing anything. We did enjoy looking at the monkey they had for sale. It had an infant that was clinging to its' back and it was really cute. They won't sell them to Americans, is the rule, but I am sure that if I had the money they would sell it to me! (something about the way we can't bring them back into the US)

Kari suggested we try a pet store in a poor area of town, that we pass on the way home from Kevin's work. We headed back there and headed in to talk to the owner. They only had dogs, birds and fish. I asked the owner if he knew of any kittens and he was very kind to make some phone calls. I told him we didn't want a pedigree, just a kitten that needed a home. About 15 to 20 minutes later a man showed up on a motorcycle, holding a box with 2 very scared kittens. The girls immediately fell in love and, after a bit of negotiation, we left with 2 little girl kittens and spent about $27 for the two. Kevin and I decided that we would get two so that they could keep each other company.

We brought them home, bathed them, and fluffed them up. (They took the baths without a problem) Throughout the night the girls played with them, observed them and came up with names. The one with the gray markings is smaller, but more adventuresome. She goes exploring and gets into everything. She is named Sophia. The one with the black markings is much more timid. She jumps at everything and is learning to trust us. She is named Giuliette (Kaitlin wanted the Italian spelling of Juliette).

Hopefully the twice weekly baths and brushing them will keep my allergies at bay.
My eyes are itchy, but my children are happy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Really Random

Yesterday Kami was hugging me as we waited for the elevator to come up to our floor. She squeezed me really tight and said, "I am glad you are chubby. It is nice to hug chubby people."


Two weeks ago I was riding in a taxi home from the temple. We have only one car and Kevin needed it and so I was using public transportation. I was having a chat with the guy driving when he needed to swerve to miss a pothole. I asked him...(conversation translated from the original Spanish)

me: "What do you call those holes in the road?"

him: "Holes in the road?"

me: " know, the holes that we get after a big rain."

him: "holes"

me: "You don't have a special name for them? In English we call them potholes"

him: without a pause "Maldito hoyos" (translation... d*#* holes)

They have really amazing potholes here. They are everywhere after a big rain, which translates to all the time. People in Utah complain about the road conditions there, but they have nothing on the roads here. When you are driving down the street you are constantly swerving around these potholes. It feels like living in a video game.

Once I was in the Colonial Zone with Elder Coleman's daughters. They were visiting and wanted to do some souvenir shopping. Since the Coleman's were busy with an assignment I volunteered to take them. We got a bit lost coming back (lots of one way streets that are wide enough for one car only) and so were coming back up a street I don't normally go on, when there was a big pothole in the road. I am talking huge! This hole had one of those blue plastic water barrels in it, and then another water barrel stacked on top of it that was 1/2 way this hole was 1 1/2 barrels deep! I barely squeezed the van by and the ladies started yelling for me to back up so they could get a picture! No way! We barely made it by the first time.

Wish I had the picture though!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Computer challenged

Hey look! I changed my background! And without Kierstin's help!

Will wonders never cease?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Still laughing.....maybe.

Still trying to keep up with the attitude of laughing at what life throws at you.

Woke up last night with the bed shaking and the door slamming ......yep, earthquake (5.6). I kept shaking Kevin, it felt like forever but was only a few seconds, trying to wake him up saying "Kevin, earthquake!!! EARTHQUAKE!!!!" He says "Yeah, I feel it", then turns over and goes back to sleep!

I got up, checked on the girls, checked the house and then went to bed and worried about Kaitlin and Kari. They are at a Stake overnight campout for seminary students. There was no information here about the earthquake, so I had no idea where it was centered (93 miles SW of Santo Domingo, in the ocean) and didn't know if it had affected the girls more or what.

This morning, when Kayli checked Facebook, she saw that there had been an earthquake (her friends talking about it) and came running to tell me. I informed her and Kami that I knew, that they had slept right through it and that all was fine. Their only real experience with an earthquake is with what happened in Haiti and here in February. Kami was, understandably, concerned.

All is well, and it was just a small earthquake. Hopefully, I WON'T get used to them!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Laugh or Cry.... your choice!

Things have been stressful here lately. The cultural differences are taking their toll on our family's happiness and Kevin has been EXTREMELY stressed out about work. Seriously, he could work 24/7 and he would still never be able to get things caught up or up to the level that they should be. He allready works several hours on Saturdays and Sundays and every night..... like 70+ hour weeks! (Imagine living like this for the last 21 months!)

Things are difficult in our ward, and I noticed that Kevin and I were turning into Laman and Lemuel (insert murmuring here) and it was rubbing off on the kiddos. (insert murmuring here) I even asked Kevin if, since you could do "home school" it would be possible to do "home church". He was not amused.

Kevin came home from a church meeting last night that was a disaster and told me that we just need to start laughing at these things. We can't change them.....seriously, you just can't change other people who don't want to change!..... and so we just need to start laughing more.

I got to thinking about a quote from Sister Hinkley that said "The only way to get through this life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or to cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."

So, here's to less headaches!

One thing that I had to laugh about yesterday......
The maid comes on Thursday's. She is very organized and hates me having anything out of place. So, if she sees anything that isn't where it goes, she puts it in a pile. (No, she doesn't put it away, just in a pile. Yes, I have tried to ask her to put away the things that she knows where they go (ex: hair stuff), but it doesn't happen). Just imagine the piles around my house now! I was working on organizing my bedroom in the morning and early afternoon, as I am wanting to work on my goal of scrapbooking in my extra time here. I had been working on one thing at a time, so as to not get overwhelmed, while I was doing the laundry and other chores I needed to accomplish.
Imagine my surprise when I entered my room with a load of laundry to fold, to discover that Morena decided that I should finish all the organizing in the room yesterday afternoon (about the time that I was starting dinner). She had taken everything off my dresser, Kevin's dresser, my night stand, Kevin's nighstand, my piles of books and magazines, etc and stacked them all over my bed so that I could put them away.

I thought that I was the boss.

Obviously, I am wrong.


~What is going on in your life lately that you need to laugh about?

Saturday, May 8, 2010


We had Kaitlin's basketball invitational tournament today. The girls Varsity team had basketball going on, while the boys JV and Varsity soccer had games outside. Quite a lot of fun. Kaitlin's games started around 8:00. There were 3 games, with about a 20-30 minute break between, and then on to elimination for the final game. They won the first game, lost the second by one point in the last 10 seconds, lost the third game by four.

Kaitlin played almost the entire time.....maybe sitting out 3-5 minutes per game. Needless to say she is exhausted. However, she did great on her rebounding and putting in some shots. She made more than half the points in the first game!!! Great job Bubbs!

They lost the first round elimination game by 5 points. The last game was played on the outside court and the girls just had this glazed look in their eyes as they pushed it for all that they could to finish in the heat and humidity. Kevin and I were texting about the games, as they went on (I am the slowest texter in the history of the world), so that he could feel a part of the action while he is flying home from a long trip today.

I ran home between the 2nd and third games and got the girls to come and cheer on the team. Kambrielle watched a while and then ran out to play on the playground and blow bubbles while Kari immersed herself in a book (she looked up enough times to get furious with the other agressive team!) and Kayli was my water/gatorade/flavored water runner to buy things in the cafeteria while I yelled and cheered my head off (I was a cheerleader, you know. Don't worry, I didn't bring my pompoms or anything...... this time.)

Great job Kaitlin. CAISSA is coming up at the end of the month. This is a competition where other international schools come in. We will be hosting two girls in our home during that time. Should be a lot of fun!!!

With love,

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cultural Differences

So, just about every day I think of something that I want to put on my blog. And then I think about all the time that has passed without writing and how I need to "catch up" (being the crazed OCD manager that I am) and so I get exhausted thinking about it and then I do nothing.

Fast forward to now......I am now going to write whenever I want. It will probably be random. It will probably not have a lot of pictures, because my lovely computer likes to freeze up when I am putting on photos (Fred, help me!!!). But it will be me. And I am trying hard to remember the funny, happy things that are going on here. So, beware. Read on if you want.

Yesterday Morena (the lady who helps me clean) was here when the girls got home from school. I went and picked up Kambrielle at school and got Kaitlin and took them to the Ortho for Kaitlin's appointment. The other two girls stayed at school and did basketball (Kayli) and band practice (Kari).

I went back to talk to Morena in the laundry room (she was doing the ironing) (OK, get all your jealousy out now..... yes, it is wonderful to have someone else do the ironing) and Kambrielle came with me. Morena got this happy look on her face (she just loves kids. She was a nanny for 18 years and really, that is her calling) when she was looking at Kambrielle. She loves her, it is obvious, and with a very proud expression said "Ella es gorda! Ellas es gorda y grande!"

Ugh. I didn't know what to say! So, I just said "Si!, esta!" and then went in the other room and busted out laughing. Her sentiment translates to " She is fat! She is fat and large!" I don't think that I would ever have anyone in the US come and proudly tell me how fat and large that my daughter was getting!!!!!

What she was lovingly trying to say, was that Kambrielle was growing and getting big. And in a country where lots of kids are tiny because they don't eat well Kami does look healthy and strong.

I wonder how she would describe ME to other Domincans????????

With love,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whale Watching

In February, three friends and I went to Samana Bay to go whale watching. My friend, neighbor and fellow ex-patriot Kathy Jackman is the reigning queen of fun trip planning. Anything fun that we do, she is likely to be behind. She has wanted to go see the whales, and so when she realized that the peak time was at hand (mid Feb) she called to see who was in for an adventure.

I am always up for some girl time, and so the kids were assigned to their daddy (wonder what the hair looked like at school?) and off we went!

People were so excited to go whale watching with me that they even made a sign so that people would know where to line up! Wow! Are these people friendly or what?

We left at 6:00 in the morning and drove the 2 plus hours from Santo Domingo to Samana Bay. The road to Samana is a toll road and is also one of the best roads on the island. It is only two lanes (one going each way), but there are no 2 foot pot holes and so it is great! You drive for awhile, pay a toll, drive awile, pay a toll, etc. I believe that there were three tolls to pay each way. And the strange thing is that each toll was a different, odd amount (like 72 pesos, or something like that), so that the toll workers had to make change at every toll and you were never prepared with the amount, because it was different at each station.

We arrived in Samana about 8:15 or so and so we had some time to drive around the town a bit before we went to the office. Our boat was scheduled to leave at 9:00, so in traditional Dominican fashion it left at 9:30.

A view from the boat of the bay.

My ex-patriate friends and sanity savers. From left to right they are: Denise Lilly (from Layton. Her hubby is over the welfare department here), Nancy Rappleye (from Layton. Her hubby is over seminaries and institutes here) and Kathy Jackman (from South Jordan, or maybe West Jordan. I can't remember! Her husband is over the accounting department here). Kathy has been here the longest, going on three years in July. Denise came a month after we did and Nancy came this last summer. They are so fun and a great support. Kathy lives in the same apartment building with me and Denise and Nancy live in the building next to the temple.

We decided to go out onto the front of the boat to enjoy the view. It lasted about 15-20 minutes and then it decided to rain too hard to stay outside. Drat!

Sitting in the front of the boat. Wish I had thought to bring my binoculars! I loved the look of this little island that was in the bay. You could snorkel out to it from the beach area. Unfortunately, it got too cold and rainy to do it while we were there.

This is one of the workers on the boat. Seen here tying us up to the dock.

I stole this photo from Nancy's facebook and thought that I could blow it up bigger, but it was too grainy. The water was so beautiful and I just love the little islands with the palm trees on them.

Sighting the whale! Thar' she blows! My camera batteries were too slow to catch anything good, but you can see the dorsal fin of the whale in this picture.

Whale going down for a dive.

Wish that my camera was fast enough to catch the spouting and the tail, but alas, it was not to be.

The seventh grade class from Carol Morgan makes a trip to Samana every year, as a culmination of their whale study unit. Kari lucked into going on it the very first week that we got here last year. The 7th graders had gone a few days before us, and Kathy's son was part of the group. They were so lucky to have a huge group of whales in the bay when they went and they were very active. They were even seen breaching the water! When Kari went they had dolphins gliding along the side of their boat and there was a large sea turtle swimming by the boat too.

Unfortunately, probably because of the weather (you know that whales just don't like to get wet), we just saw this one guy the day we were out.

Some of the boats that were at the dock. Boy am I glad that we were in a bigger boat and not one of the small ones that were going out. I got a bit seasick, even with 2 dramamine pills, and so I can't imagine what it would be like for someone in one of the small boats! Notice the people on the dock wearing sweatshirts..... these are Europeans, not Dominicans, so you know that the weather was a bit cold that day. The one time in the last year that I have wished that I had brought a jacket along with me!

We got back from the boat ride at about 1:00 and decided to eat our lunch sitting up in this tower. There were several of them along the "malecon" here. A malecon is what the Dominicans call the street that runs along the shore line.

After lunch we found a group of shops and went looking for some souveniers. Nancy found some jewelry that she liked, as did Kathy, and Denise got some fridge magnets and some other fun things. I was a party pooper and didn't get anything.

Around 3:30 we headed back home, back to the chores, children and chaos!

As we were driving home, I snapped this photo of a home along the side of the road. This is pretty typical architecture for the homes here. The nicer ones are also painted in this type of bright paint.....looks like something that Kambrielle would pick out!

This is one of the rice paddies that we passed by. They were all along the roads in this one area and so I got a decent picture of this one. The green of the growing rice plants is very vibrant, like something in a photo that you would see of Ireland.

There was one stretch of road where there seemed to be a palm tree plantation. The trees were growing as far as you could see and as deep as you could see as we drove thru. I have no idea what they were being grown for, but you could see in some sections where old trees had been harvested and new ones were growing. Hmmmm, must investigate this further......

We got home around 6:00. I gave hugs and smooches all around, helped with homework and dishes and then thoroughly crashed around 9:00 (love that dramamine)

Can't wait to go again next year with Kevin. There is a lovely resort there that would be fun to stay at. Maybe he and I can get away for a weekend and enjoy the quiet feel of the beach there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti - From Kevin's View

What the church does is amazing. Since the earthquake, we have held a daily coordination meeting with Church Humanitarian Services. They ask what is needed and then pull all of the strings to make it happen.
Here locally our Area Welfare Manager is working all hours coordinating all kinds of aid that is being offered. Because of congestion at the airport in Port au Prince people are having to land in the DR and then drive over land to Haiti. Bennie is coordinating doctors and others asking to volunteer and then flying in to help. There will continue to be shipments going over land from here. Like Kim mentioned, we transferred 2 good brothers to the border today with two pickup trucks, 40 gallons of diesel and as many hygiene kits, first aid kits, tarps water and other things as we could get into the pickups. After about a 6 hour drive we met a couple of key priesthood leaders at the border, transferred everything from one of the pickups into his vehicle and then sent the other pickup with our two good brethren on into Port au Prince. These two brothers will help assess buildings, member needs, help coordinate the massive church shipments that are coming in and anything else that is needed.
I was amazed and touched at the amazing amount of Heavy trucks, equipment etc that we saw at the border. There had to be 100 semi-trucks, apparently full of supplies, waiting to cross over. Most of that had to be coming from the already impoverished Dominican Republic. On both our way there and back we passed many other trucks, cranes, trucks with bleach, large tank trucks, and people and everything else between. A very touching show of support and solidarity for the Haitians.
As we put our arms around our Stake President/Facilities Manager at the border today we saw the shock, sadness, and stress in his eyes as he told us that he already knew of 15 deaths in his stake. We said goodbye to our friends, knowing that they will be sleeping on a hard floor tonight and doing without all of lifes conveniences. For food they took two 72 hour kits, two boxes of granola bars, 6 cases of water (for others) and one filter water bottle between them (these things will filter anything including urine, mud, you name it, so that it is drinkable). I got back home a couple of hours ago. Please pray, pray, pray for these people. Haiti was already extremely impoverished before.

Thanks. Kevin


Tuesday evening at 5:53 we were all hanging out on the fourth floor in the Munives apartment. The fumigator had come at 4:00 and so we couldn't go into our apartment until after 6:00. I had just returned from the school where I had picked up Kambrielle after Girl Scouts. I was visiting with Emma and the girls were watching "Phantom of the Opera" with Keny and Emily while Alex and Parker were playing on the computer. Emma got up to answer the phone and the couch felt like it was moving. I haven't been feeling well this week and so I thought, "Wow, I must be getting really sick! I had better go lay down!", thinking that I was dizzy or something from not feeling well. A second later I realized that the plants were moving and lamps moving and went "AUGH! Earthquake!" A minute later Kathy Jackman ran down the stairs and gathered us up, along with Parker, and we went out onto the tennis courts/park area to wait and see about aftershocks.
While waiting there, we learned from cell phones that the earthquake had been centered in Haiti, and had registered at 7.0. What we felt had been registered at about 4.2 (is what I read in the paper, but I can't find it to confirm the exact number) Kathy felt it more than we did, since she lives on the 14th floor. We learned that we were in a Tsunami Watch, and that continued until around 10:00. They did measure a very small Tsunami in Santo Domingo, but it was just a displacement of a foot.
The older girls were a little frightened, but kind of excited. They were hoping for no school on Wednesday, but no luck there! Kambrielle was afraid and very clingy and I worried that she would be sleeping with us that night. Thanks to girl scouts, she was wiped out and crashed on the couch and was able to get a good night's sleep.
When we returned to our apartment around 7:00 we turned on CNN and were able to hear the small amount of information that they had available. Kevin stayed quite late at work, working with the brethren there trying to get information from Haiti and share it with the Presiding Bishopric. The church has some satellite phones and so late in the evening they were able to contact some brethren in Haiti and begin to get an idea of the devastation.
Yesterday Kevin went to work early and stayed quite late gathering supplies and organizing how to distribute the supplies that are being sent by the church. The church generally sends things and has them distributed by other organizations that are all ready up and running in the country, generally Catholic Relief Services.
Kevin left this morning at 5:00 and is driving with some other men with trucks full of supplies. They were purchasing walkie talkies for the leaders to be able to communicate with each other. He was looking last night for gas cans. They were taking as much gas as they could, since there is not gas available in most of the country. I am not sure of the other supplies that they were sending, since Kevin came home after I went to bed and got up at 4:00. They are meeting priesthood leaders at the border and transferring supplies there.
He told me that he was able to speak with one of his Facility Managers yesterday. Kevin asked him how the people in his stake had fared. Kevin was told that almost every family in the stake had lost their homes. (He only knew of one home that had survived) Several families had deaths in their families....... two of them had all their children die, as the home collapsed on them.
I am so overcome with grief for the people here. There are 3 people from Haiti in my Spanish class. One of them was there yesterday. She had been able to talk to her mom for 5 seconds, right after the first quake (there have been many, many strong aftershocks). and at that time they were OK. Part of their house had fallen off and crashed onto their car (they are one of the wealthy families that has a car). Their home is destroyed, but they were alive. The other two weren't there. One is an older gentleman (a lawyer in his early 60's) and he has children and grandchildren there. I am sure that he was driving to try to get them out.
One of our friends here works for Cure, International. He is leaving today with several doctors to help however they can with the injuries. Please keep all of the people that are there in your prayers and pray that the service people that are going there to help will be safe. Haiti was very unstable and unsafe before this happened.
This is the post from the church website of what the church is doing. If you have been feeling that you should do something, please give at the link attached. Or add to your fast offering this month under Humanitarian Aid.
SALT LAKE CITY 13 January 2010 In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is mobilizing resources to address the most pressing needs of the people in the Caribbean nation. Images of collapsed buildings and devastated families tell the story of the widespread destruction.
Two planes, one departing from Denver as early as Thursday and another leaving from Miami later this week will each include over 80,000 pounds of food and emergency resources such as tents, tarps, water filtration bottles and medical supplies donated by the Church. Transportation is being provided by Airline Ambassadors and Food for the Poor will aid with distribution in Haiti.
“We are constantly assessing needs to determine how our resources can directly help the people of Haiti,” said Nate Leishman, manager of the Church’s humanitarian emergency response efforts. “We are fully committed to this ongoing process and doing our best to help wherever we can.”
These new shipments are in addition to emergency supplies being sent by truck from the Dominican Republic including personal hygiene kits and supplies for newborns announced early Wednesday by the Church.
“We express our sympathy and prayers on behalf of the citizens of Haiti following the recent devastating earthquake,” said Kim Farah, Church spokesperson.
All Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in the country are safe, and Church leaders continue efforts to account for Church members in the area.
Donations for relief efforts can be made at