Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to School 2014-2015!!!



And in the blink of an eye they are starting sixth grade (séptimo) and third (cuarto).

We got back from our AWESOME six-week vacay in MN and took one day off to help with the jet lag and colds Nico and I picked up right before our travel date. Then, it was back to school today!

I won't lie. It wasn't easy. I always remembered going back to school as a fun, carefree day. You would see new friends, open up and use spanking new supplies, and just hang out all day and not do much. But the nerves were going strong this morning and Agustin threw up right before going to class. He claims his shirt was too tight, but I'm sure it was nerves.

He has always been my sensitive one. Only yesterday he spent the better part of the morning crying his eyes out because we had left MN and the family. And the COUSINS!!!! And Reggie.  AND SCHMIDTY!!!! That was hard, and so yesterday I stayed home from work (poor Andres had to go in and work like a dog to catch up on everything that happened while we were out) and decided we would make a fun day of it, so we wouldn't be so heartbroken about being so far away from our amazing summer memories. We played Pay Day (found that one a few months ago stored away in Andres's childhood home. Man the kids love it! And it sure brings back some great memories.) and then Ecuador-opoly (this is one my family had made specially for us and some of the cards just make us smile: collect $100 for Agustin's first word, or pay $200 because Andres spends too much time in the bathroom! LOL!!! - Anyone remember this game?). Playing games all day helped calm him down.

But today both Andres and I had to work so we couldn't be there to see them off to school, and weren't there when they got home, and therefore I didn't get a first day of school pic.  But I got a favorable report (mostly).

Agus: four new friends, two who didn't come back, couldn't remember his teacher's name (until Nico told him - TYPICAL AGUS!!!!), liked his teacher but then got all upset because she took his cool State Fair pencils that change color with the heat of your hands and then yelled at him saying they were used but didn't give them back, upset because he was missing a notebook (which, for the record, wasn't on the supply list we received), needs his textbooks IMMEDIATELY or he will be expelled (the other parents told us that they aren't in stock at the moment but we will try tomorrow), got a little teary-eyed when he recounted all the rules and regulations the teacher had them write out in their notebooks (I think the teachers also act like a bunch of B's on the first days to scare the kids into being good - which is why quite a few people never even bother with the first few days of class and probably also why so many kids don't look forward to the first day like they do in the U.S. - but I will admit that - at least as a teacher in this culture - it is pretty necessary or you will be spending the rest of the school year hearing "No one ever said, I didn't know, It's not fair, " etc from every single kid),  but in all had a good day and sat next to Martín Teran.

Nico: two new friends, a few who didn't come back (Natalie was one - Agus teased him saying she will always be in his heart no matter where she is), a couple new ones, everyone was wearing the uniform he had on (so he was happy we chose the right one as we didn't know which one he was supposed to wear this week) but he didn't bother to ask what he is supposed to wear tomorrow TYPICAL NICO!!!! lol, wore his new Neymar cleats and was bothered by an older kid who told him he can't wear cleats to school and another kid who said Messi was better than Neymar (we told him to tell those kids not to be haters), was happy he didn't get homework, but oh yeah he has to study for the diagnostic tests (which, by definition are not to be studied for, but try telling that to teachers here), when asked what he was supposed to study said "A bunch of words" and when asked which words said "Any words you want!!!!" in an incredulous voice like I was an idiot for asking (TYPICAL Nico LOL!), but in general had a totally awesome day.

So there we have it! First day of the 2014-2015 school year over and done. May it be a good year!

Review of My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead




I read Middlemarch by George Eliot for the first time about ten years ago, as a graduate student in a Liberal Arts program. That’s a bit surprising, seeing as I was an English major as an undergraduate with a specialization in British female authors of the 18th and 19th century. Perhaps because of the length, I’d never really considered reading it on my own. 

I chose this book, firstly, because of its title (I really enjoyed Middlemarch when I finally got around to reading it), and secondly, because of the cover. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but honestly, I do and you can. I read this as an ebook, so the cover was the only thing visually attractive about the book, and I admit, I was drawn to it. I love a well-designed cover. It can tell you a lot about the book – whether it’s going to be funny, sarcastic, romantic, quirky. The cover of My Life in Middlemarch is subdued and quiet and proper and beautiful – much like the book itself. But don’t take that as a bad thing!

In this book, the author, Rebecca Mead, recounts her love of Middlemarch throughout her life, talking about the book and its author, others who have reviewed it, and even throwing in a little literary criticism for the record. She makes comparisons between herself and the characters in the book, herself and George Eliot, her life and the life of Dorothea. She doesn’t just limit herself to Middlemarch, however, and this – in my opinion – is what makes this book great, but it could possibly be off-putting to other readers. She refers to other books written by Eliot, other reviewers of Eliot’s work (such as Virginia Woolf), and even makes various “pilgrimages” to Eliot’s (neé Mary Ann Evans) house in Coventry. Here, with the references to all the English towns and places, I think it would have been nice for the author/publisher to have included a small map, and possibly even a small timeline of Eliot’s life/works. My Life in Middlemarch is a rich source of English literature in and of itself, however.

I enjoyed this book. I love to read about books and read about reading books, and there was just the right amount of literary criticism and “book talk” in it that reminded me of my happy college days as an English major reading and analyzing books from every angle. Mead does a great job of that. What perhaps was missing a bit was the memoir aspect. At times I felt like I didn’t really know the author at all, despite her pains to show me more. At other times, the connection between her life and Middlemarch felt a bit contrived, perhaps, although neither of these things affected my enjoyment of the book.

Do you need to have read Middlemarch to enjoy this book? No, I don’t think so, although I wish I had gone back and read Middlemarch before I decided to read this book. I think I would have “loved” this book had I done so, more than just “really enjoyed” it. And although I don’t think it is completely necessary to have read Middlemarch to like the writer’s style, I’m not really sure why you would read My Life in Middlemarch if you hadn’t read the original in the first place!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Edelweiss through Blogging for Books, but I was not compensated and all of the opinions stated are my own.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Welcome 20-14!

This year I resolve to try to start saying "Twenty-fourteen" like the cool kids, instead of "Two-thousand-fourteen". It's been a hard habit to break!

Welcome 2014!
I have many, many more resolutions, though, most of which will probably be too much for me to sustain over the course of the year, but as I've noted in the past, for me it's sometimes more the making of the challenge than the challenge itself that fulfills me :)  My resolutions from last year were sadly neglected. That said, I am putting these new ones in writing and hope to check in frequently with myself to make sure they are becoming reality.







Monthly Challenge

I could also add doing more fun stuff like this!
But this shouldn't be a resolution,
it should just be a way of like! :)
I am going to go with what I resolved last year: a monthly challenge, each of which is something I have on a non-priority bucket list somewhere in the back of my mind. Most of them are fun, and will hopefully provide me with a way to relax and de-stress and just enjoy this life I've been given.

Copied and pasted from last year:

January: Write 4 poems, read more poetry and get inspired by it
February: listen to one hour of music (radio, possibly new music or a new station), every day. Listen to more MPR (I am paying for a sustained membership - why am I not taking advantage!?)
March: learn more about classical music, composers, go to Casa de la Música and enjoy my newfound knowledge, learn to recognize instruments by sight and sound
April: learn the names of flowers and plants, and be able to recognize many by sight. I'll probably focus on a region, like the paramo
May: Make 2 ethnic dishes a week. Countries I will be researching: Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, Afghanistan, Nepal, Liberia, Malaysia, North Africa (Morocco perhaps?), Syria, Czech Republic, Tahiti, Burma, Greece, Romania
June: create a new craft from somewhere online, like Martha Stewart's crafts web site
July: Buy and make something with a Whimseybox (or 2). I did do this (the buying part) but not the making. So this year my challenge for this month will be to use some of those supplies to do something fun. Some are messy (Rit dyes - yuck!) but I guess that's why we call it a challenge!
August: Run a 5K (July and August might switch depending on the dates of the 5K I join)
September: (new) Try a new craft (ha! Andrés will love this one!). I'm thinking like painting on canvas or knitting or something I really don't know how to do.
October: (new) Spend the month creating with my sewing machine. This should probably be a yearly challenge, but this month I will focus more on being systematic about it and learning new stitches and becoming more talented at it :)
November: make a Joseph Cornell box, immerse myself in the images of his boxes
December: complete a crochet blanket (afghan) for the family. I should be able to pull this off since I am participating in a CAL this year


Reading Challenge

Last year I resolved to read 60+ books. Well, that didn't happen. I got to 29, which is quite likely an all-time low for me :)  But 60 was really just too much in the grand scheme of things. This year I am not going to worry about how many I read (there are SO many I want/need to that it is an endless battle!), but instead I want my reading to mean something, to teach me, and to be fun.

1. I resolve to read one book in Spanish each month. I really want to improve my Spanish, pay more attention to the detail of the language. I've been ignoring it for years and that's shameful! I used to be really in tune with the language, and I want to get back that love for it that I used to have. Especially now that I have two kids who speak it :)

We'll continue with the family bonding
(this is my favorite resolution, probably!)
2. I want to read one chapter book with the boys over the course of each month. We brought home tons of chapter books this trip and I am excited to get started on them. Currently we are reading "I Funny", and while it isn't really that good in my opinion, they really love it. I don't think they get even half of the jokes in the plot, but the jokes that they do understand send them into a fit of giggles. I think they are both enthralled with the story of this boy in the wheelchair. Which is good, as they need to get more exposure to different types of people.





Work Challenge

At work I've decided that I will read a new article on my expertise each week, take notes and incorporate the ideas into the daily grind, so to speak. So far this week I've read about multiple modalities. This should be a good challenge, since we will be attending TESOL in Portland, Oregon in March and I need to keep up the inspiration. It's been years since I was involved in TESOL, and I'm excited to start connecting with teachers and teacher trainers on a different level again. Plus, this year our new director at CEC wants us to create more academic agreements with universities from around the world, so we have his "permission" to use EPN (our university) as a starting point for more networking. It could bring new and exciting things! We need that around CEC, in my opinion.

Personal Challenge


1. I still want to open an Etsy shop. I still want to create more crochet. I am going to crochet more this year, get more serious about finishing projects, and then see where that takes me. Opening an Etsy shop will not be a goal, per se, but if I crochet a lot this year I will need to do something with all of my creations :)

2. Kristin is getting married this year, and I will be in the wedding, so I need to lose 50+ pounds. Yes, I am back to square one. Last time I lost the weight I was four years younger, but I did it in 3-4 months. I still belong to Weight Watchers so I plan to track, and so far this week I've remembered to do my exercise routine twice. Which is two times more than I have been! :)  Go me!

3. And finally, I want to really immerse myself in family. This isn't so much a resolution as a reminder. I feel like I am pretty good at this, but lately I have felt myself slipping, and I don't want that to happen. More phone calls, more texts, more nice words, more appreciation, more family game nights, more playing what they want to play, more understanding, more encouragement. For my whole family - immediate and extended.

Miss these guys so much!

So, there's a lot in store for Twenty-fourteen. I am excited to start fresh.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I miss my blog!

Hello blog,

I miss you. I will try to stop ignoring you.

I look back at my posts and love seeing all those pictures that are stuck on my computer. I love reading the stories - even though some of them get put into my Project Life album, many don't, like the last DisneyWorld post, and I miss keeping track of all the big and little events in my life. Project Life is great, but I haven't been putting in the longer stories, and I feel like I need to.

So I vow to be better. I vow to write at least a couple times a week. I don't want to fall into the trap of feeling like I have to post every day, or backpost, but I definitely would like to have a few posts per week. They can be long, short, whatever. But I have to make them happen.

Good. This feels so much better.

Now let's see if I can keep my word!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Trying new things


We did a lot of walking in Disney World, and I haven't gotten any exercise since. I really need to get out there and start some sort of routine! My legs have been cramping up with so much sitting time at the computer.

We only got a double stroller on two days, and I believe they were both Epcot days. Epcot is one of those parks that is a LOT of walking, and attractions are not so close to each other. I was glad we did it, even though it costs like $30, because we were logging about 10-13 miles a day, and that's a lot for little legs that are not at all used to anything even close to those distances.


We went with Grandma Chris to Animal Kingdom. It isn't really my favorite park as it doesn't have a lot of attractions (or so I always thought), but I absolutely love the way it's decorated. The kids love it though - it's like a big, interactive zoo with rides. The really got into collecting stamps on Rafiki's Watch. At each station they'd learn a little about animals or fossils or nature: just the thing little boys like!


 
At one station they had to look for dung and recognize the animal it belonged to (the dung was fake of course, but looked real enough!). They thought that was pretty cool.




 

 
 
The decorations are like Asia and Africa, and the building for example will purposefully look run down, or they'll have a tree full of prayer flags, or a (fake, I assume) electricity transmitter with thousands of electric cables coming out of it and going to all the buildings. Reminds me of the cable situation here in Quito!
 

In each of the parks this time we tried to do at least one new thing. It's amazing but for as many times as we've gone now, we still haven't succeeded in getting to everything that's offered. This time we went to "It's tough to be a bug", a 3-D movie (actually 4-D) that was a little frightneing but not that great, in my opinion. The kids worked up the nerves and they managed. The only scary part is being blasted with air and loud noises, but maybe those things are scarier than monsters and ghosts.

The other thing we did was go see "Finding Nemo: The Musical". I'd heard it was great, and all the promotional material talks about it, but I didn't really think it would be that amazing. But the weather was still cold, our legs was tired, and the show proided 45 minutes or so of sitting indoors, so we went.

Can I just say WOW? A.ma.zing!!!! Probably one of my favorite Disney things ever. It was like a Broadway musical with huge puppets that people danced around the stage, with screens in the background and music and lights and actors coming out through the stage, and bubbles and... Well, wow. Totally worth it. Serious love for that show. The kids loved it too, I think, and I was happy because one of the things on our summer bucket list is to always make it to a play and we never seem to get around to it.


 
 
At Epocot the next day it continued to be cold, but it wasn't as windy and was a little warmer in the sun. We had beautiful skies the whole day.  Here we tried a few new things too. First up was Captain EO, a 3-D movie. Not sure what to expect, I was quite shocked to find out that it was an older movie they'd made with Michael Jackson, and they'd just vamped up the effects a bit. 
 
It was a little sad for Disney. Not worth it at all, almost laughable for how dated and 80s it was, with a storyline that was a bad copy of a Thriller video mixed with Star Wars. 
 
Then we tried the O! Canada movie, and that was pretty cool. You step into a large room, standing only, and the screens fill up all around you. It felt like we were traveling over mountains and cities and prairies and I learned a lot about Canada, too. And an added plus was it was hosted by Martin Short, whichmade it pretty funny at times.

 
 
It's always fun to try a few new things. And can you believe it? We still have things we didn't get around to!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

He came, he fixed, he went. He came back, he fixed, he went.

The plumber was here all afternoon fixing the various jobs we had around the house. He had called early this morning to say he'd be here today at 3 (he came at 4) instead of tomorrow. It worked out better as my mother-in-law was able to come over and help out with the purchasing and negotiating.

We got the kitchen sink fixed, then the social bathroom sink fixed, and then the toilet on the third floor. That job actually needed new parts, so Susy took him shopping while I waited at home with the kids, and she came back with a $10 piece.

He only charged $40, and I thought that was cheap, but my mother-in-law was not at all happy with that price and really let him have it! To get working sinks and toilets again I was ready to pay way more, so I am happy with a total of $50, even if she isn't.

After he left, I went to put things back under the kitchen sink when I noticed water again. Luckily he had his cell phone on him and hadn't gotten far (he walked - didn't have a car) so he came back to take a look. He said it was a problem with water leaking in through the bottom of the faucet and was because I didn't dry the sink off properly. What do you know? Grandma Bauer and her obsession with sink drying seems to be a real thing! So much for letting pools of water after doing dishes dry on their own.

It feels nice to know that we can use the third floor bathroom again, and that I don't have to worry about changing buckets every few days or months. There was an added bonus, too, since I asked him why the faucet head was spraying uncontrollably everywhere. He took a look and found that there was a TON of sedimentation accumulated inside (we've been having really dirty water lately), so he cleaned it all out and it's like I have a new faucet. I can actually wash dishes in my clothes now (since before I'd get so wet I'd usually strip down to a tank!).

In other news, Andrés had a good day in Bogotá and said he really enjoyed his conference. He has the cameras (iPhone and digital) so I have no way to post pictures, but can't wait to see the ones he brings back!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ugh. Seriously?


I knew it.

Andrés is leaving for Bogotá for the rest of the week (he is going to meet the famous Stephen Krashen - can you say JEALOUS?), and I had this nagging feeling that something was going to happen while he's gone.

Like I'll need to find some important document only he knows where it is, or I'll run out of money and be strapped for cash, or I'll have some major car problem.

Well, we came in tonight after work thinking it would be a nice, relaxing evening (the kids had finished their homework, we were planning on an early dinner, the kitchen was somewhat clean) when we noticed water all. over. the. floor.

Ugh. Seriously?

There was a leak under the kitchen sink. Water everywhere. Just enough of a film to make it a nuisance but luckily no longterm damage (that we can see). We finally figured out that there is a tiny hole in the cold water hose, like what might happen in a garden hose, and it was slowly but steadily spraying out. All over the entire inside of the cabinet.

Luckily Andrés doesn't leave until tomorrow, so he found the plumber's phone number. Well, the plumber can't make it until Thursday. My mother-in-law has a doctor's appt that morning, and can only help me out for a half hour.

I don't really want to take care of this on my own. These situations are too foreign to me here - the creepy plumber you can't trust, then he sends you out to go buy the materials, you have to supply everything, even the wrench, etc. They come with no tools and make you buy materials you don't need, and then since I can't leave him in the house alone I'll have to take him with me to the hardware store.

Ugh.  Seriously?

We have had nothing but problems with the plumbing in this house. Every single sink in the house has a leak or has had a leak at some point. Two of the toilets leak (one we got fixed a few months ago, after going through three plumbers and finally stumbling on one who could fix it - this is the one we called for Thursday).  One of the sinks is out of service because no one can even figure out what to do with it. Another has a bucket catching a slow drip and you have to remember to change the bucket every six months or so. No one can figure that one out either. The water pressure is so high in the kitchen that when you try to wash dishes you also wash your clothes. Our shower stall doesn't drain right and the drain melted away and broke in two (cheap plastic, apparently. Everything is made out of PLASTIC. I could scream.)

I'm sick of it. SO sick of it, I'm ready to move out!

I know what the problem is: incompetent plumbers mixed with shoddy workmanship mixed with crappy Chinese products that you could buy at a dollar store but which go for a moderate price here. If you wanted to buy something better, we're talking BIG BUCKS! And then, since everything is imported through small companies (you know, when you import you have to make a profit, so the cheapest things are always imported and then the price is jacked up), those companies go out of business after a few years and when you need a replacement they are no longer available.

Ugh. Seriously?

I really, really, REALLY do not need this right now. :(

Monday, April 22, 2013

He makes us laugh


One of my favorite Disney moments revolves around this picture.

We were in Epcot, in China, looking at the stores. The kids were really into the big puppets they sell there - the typical puppets that have strings and are controlled from the puppetmaster up on top. They really, REALLY wanted these puppets (or so they say), but they were expensive and quite honestly, I couldn't see them playing with them once the novelty wore off.

Because we said no to the puppets, they ran off to look at something else. Andres had been taking pictures of the kids in the various hats you can find all around the parks (I'll do a spearate post on those - you'd be surprised at how many hats there are!), and he picked up this hat and was looking at it when Nico rushed up and said, "Oh, I know how that one goes."  He took it, put it on, and sat down in the middle of the sidewalk to strike the pose you see above. He really sat there, peaceful like, in the midst of crowds and whatnot, for a good minute while we laughed and eventually got out the camera. He caused a bit of a stir as everyone who walked by thought it was really funny.

And I gotta say, he is at an age where he is always doing something that makes us laugh (usually inadvertantly - I don't think he was looking for giggles when he did this since he remained quite serious the whole time he sat there).

It helped to calm him down and get his minds off the puppets. Maybe we should be trying meditation techniques with this one.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What the doctor ordered


A great, relaxing weekend was just what I needed before all the craziness of the next two months starts to descend. I'm already feeling it - I started with a scratchy throat that quickly turned into congestion and a terrible cough on Friday. I thought the warm weather on the Coast might help, but it didn't.

We got in a little after 7 and it was warm so we had a quick dip in the pool. The water was like bath water, but once I got out I felt the full force of my cold and fell asleep, dead to the world for the next 12 hours or so.


Saturday morning Andres got up early to buy me some medicine, and the kids - as usual - proceeded to get right into the pool. It was gorgeous and sunny and once I got some meds in my body, I was feeling much, much better.


Saturday afternoon we did the usual routine - a quick trip into town for lunch (can't beat La Sultana), then a quick jaunt to the mall for ice cream and to the toy store to spend the $5 Grandpa had given to each of the kids. We got home and they both decided they were so happy with their purchases that they would make thank-you cards.


Agustín quickly got distracted with the iPhone, however. Nico resisted. He has really been into drawing and coloring lately. Last week he won a drawing contest at school, which has probably sparked his interest. In fact, he won the same contest last year in kindergarten.



 Anyhow, he made some very elaborate cards, and then challenged Daddy and Agus to a drawing contest. I was given a break since I was sick. In those cases, I usually get to be the judge.



Daddy and I played a lot of Candy Crush this weekend, but the kids preferred Hill Climb and the Shrek racing game. A few weeks ago it was all about the fishing game and Subway Surf. It would be fun to keep track of what's "in" each week, to look back on.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two extremes


I know that in Minnesota there have been some winter storms this past week. It looks like Christmas there, and seeing the pictures today all over Facebook and in my email made me almost laugh and cry at the same time. I miss the seasons sometimes. Not always. I don't think I would be happy with snow in April. (If you know me, you know that's an understatement.) But after so many years without any "true" seasons (like not just wet and dry), it seems really exotic to see snow and ice and bare trees. 


Funny how our perspectives can change over time and with different experiences.

I almost hate to say that this weekend we are going to the beach (again). But we are :)

I need the break, and once my May / June weekends in Guayaquil start, it will be hard to get away. We hadn't been to the beach at all since New Year's, and it's good to go and check on things. So we volunteered, since no one else in the family can get away this weekend - nor last :)

I feel very very lucky to have access to that beach house. It is seriously one of my favorite places in the world.

Thinking about sunny days but cold weather got me thinking a bit about our Disney trip. I know I complained a lot about the unusually cold weather (for Orlando), for about 4-5 days. I can't help it. I wanted HEAT and there was none. But looking back at the pictures, you wouldn't be able to tell. The days were so sunny. And yes, I realize some people are in shorts and all, but I am sure many of us didn't bring much else! So live and learn, and always. wear. layers.

This was one of the beautiful days that looked hot and sunny but that really wasn't. :) What a gorgeous sky. 




One of the highlights of the trip was watching Nico go on the flume (Splash Mountain) with Bati. He'd been debating it and finally decided he was brave enough. I think on the ride he realized he wasn't brave enough, but it was too late! 

He says he will go back on the ride again next year.  We'll see. Agustín didn't go and one thing you have to love about him is that he had no regrets.


I think this is on Mark Twain's island.

We spent the last day in the parks at the Magic Kingdom. The weather was a lot warmer (finally, but, alas! we were leaving!), and we did a few things we hadn't done before. (One was Nico on Splash Mountain, and he also braved the Haunted Mansion - he really didn't get scared at all, although I was a bit nervous as we entered the elevator. I mean, I even get a little freaked out by it! The other thing we did was Mark Twain's island. We hadn't done it with the kids, and I had forgotten about the rifle shooting spots up in the forts. That was definitely a hit. That and the barrel bridge. You know you're old when you have a hard time getting across the barrel bridge.)



Our last day was gorgeous and warm and sunny and not windy at all. Of course! We stayed at the Pop Century Resort again (like last time), mostly because the kids insisted. They really love this place, and the ironic thing is that we never had as much time to explore and spend at the resort as we'd like. But they didn't care. :)

It's funny that in the same country you can find the first picture above, and the last. At the same time such different extremes. So weird.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And just because the last post was TOO LONG for a blog post...

A short one for you:

One little thing you probably do not know about me (but may not be surprised to find out):
I know my library card bar code by heart.

No lie.

Not enough hours in a day

So many things to catch up on. So many things to say. So many pictures to post.

So many things to DO!

There are honestly not enough hours in the day.

I have some major deadlines coming up, and have bitten off more than I can chew. Partly this is because for a while I felt as if I had dropped off the map. I was no longer being sought out as a trainer, no one knew who I was anymore, I didn't have much contact with students. I was saying no to too many things, and when you say no, there is always someone else who says yes. Not a problem, but then you get a bit forgotten about, especially when freelancing. (I should mention right now that I am not technically 100% freelancing, I do have a full time job most of the year, but I have been relying a bit on these extra jobs that come in to help finance the summer months we are in MN visiting my family).

So when the first freelance job came in after a dry spell, I said yes. Figured I'd work my way back in slowly.

Um, well, yeah. When it rains, it pours, they say, and I'm in the midst of a flood. Which is good (more money (not tons, but more), more prestige) but bad (looming deadlines and responsibilities, and literally not enough hours in the day to finish everything I've got to do, stress).

Andres has offered to help, and I will be taking him up on that offer, but at this point it is almost even more overwhelming to know that I need to sit down and re-explain these projects to him so that he can help me!

I figure it like this: at the moment I have 1 full-time job, and 5 part-time jobs.

Let me explain:

1. My full-time job: teacher training at the university, 8 hours a day, working on workshops and test writing and observing classes / helping with academic issues as needed.

2. Part-time job #1: This big military project I wrote about a month ago: writing study guides (in English and Spanish) for the students, preparing and giving webinars to the online tutors and (eventually) students. This has also meant learning about giving online classes and being an online tutor myself, and neverending meetings to run practice classes, troubleshoot technical difficulties, get to know new books inside and out, translate materials, format guides (a nightmare! and going from a PC - when I'm at work - to Mac - when I'm at home - is no help, either), etc. I'm expected to put in about 4 hours a day / 20 hours a week.

3. Part-time job #2: I help Cambridge University Press update their web site each month with little facts and tidbits. Sometimes they have extra stuff for me to put up (always URGENT of course), so that has meant more work this last month or so. Normally this is only about 8-10 hours a month, but the Joomla interface isn't as friendly as I'd like it to be, and as I don't work on it every day I am not that proficient and spend each month trying to re-figure out things I already figured out the month before (even if I write them down!).

4. Part-time job #3: Universidad CasaGrande Master's class (taught in Spanish - yikes! and yuck!). It's an interesting topic (Collaborative learning) which has almost nothing written/published in Spanish (and not all the students know English), which makes it VERY difficult to plan a bibliography, for example. This will be every other weekend in May and June, about 12-17 hours over the weekend (Fri - Sun - 40 teaching hours total). Not only are the class hours long, there is a ton of paperwork to go with all the new university requirements (mostly busywork like writing objectives - man how I hate writing objectives - but it needs to get done), and I just don't have time to sit down and figure out all these goals/objectives,/bibliographies/activites/etc right now. I will need to set aside a huge chunk of time to do all this
.
5. Part-time job #4: Oh joy. Just as I am thinking, CasaGrande is only every other weekend, I can do it, I find out that there has been such an outpour of students wanting to join the Master's program, they have decided to open up another, parallel class, to be given every other weekend, on the weekends that the other class is not going on. OK, so I will include this as a separate job, since it will mean teaching every weekend in Guayaquil during May and June, and grading more papers, etc. Luckily, the planning won't change too much, but I will have more papers and presentations to grade.  But I need to remember this is a good thing. I like being part of their staff, and I got the job because of a teacher who couldn't commit one semester, and they liked me and now I am the teacher they go to, so I am afraid that if I say no, they would forget about me. Kind of a catch-22.

6. Part-time job #5: Just when I settled down and thought, ok, in July I am somewhat on vacation (I will still have that military project going on, though), I get contacted by Cambridge again. They need unit plans for all their primary series, and they need them yesterday (as the saying goes in Spanish). Each unit plan is about 3 pages and is purely objectives (did I mention I hate writing objectives?). It's about 150 hours in total, due at the end of May (because I reminded them there are only 24 hours in a day, and some are for eating and sleeping.) Oh well, bring it on. If I am going to have a nervous breakdown, let me go out with a bang!

So, I have a lot of work to do. But I have decided that in order to keep my sanity, I need to give some love to my blog, to my social networking sites, to my scrapbooking (mostly Project Life at this point), and maybe do a little reading. Because if all I do is work, this is how I will feel:



Actually I'd look more like this, I mean I am turning 40 in a month or so ;)


 
Sorry about the pics, but if I wait until I get home to upload a picture or my own, this won't get posted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quick check-in

I have been very preoccupied lately.

I feel like I can't get out of my own head. Like I always have something hanging over me: something to do, something to clean, somewhere to go, someone I should call, something I've forgotten.

I know it is partly stress. I accepted a freelance job with a big project going on with the Ecuadorian military and while it is super exciting and fun, there is a lot I need to do and it has got me a bit worried. We are also winding up the TEFL course, which is in and of itself very time-comsuming and tiring.

I can't help it. When I get like this, I feel like I can't enjoy. I don't like that. Especially knowing it's all in my head, really.

So I gave up on the blog and cleaning and personal life and have decided to just buckle down.

That doesn't mean I get a lot done, necessarily. I feel like a Sims character in my own life, walking back and forth and going in circles and occasionally looking up at some unknown entity in the sky and pulling my hair out.

Thank goodness for Daddy actually capturing a few of those moments where we can just cuddle.


The thing that most makes me sad is that I haven't done well on my 2013 Monthly Challenges.

In January, the Poetry Challenge, I read some poetry at the beginning of the month, but I didn't write anything, and didn't read the rest of the month. Now, in February, More Music Challenge month, the only music I hear is if I am taking the kids to school in the morning and listening to Disney Radio.


I am also weeks behind on Project Life. I finally got ink for my printer and started printing out photos, but I have few photos (no camera!) and haven't kept up on the daily little things that makes Project Life so awesome. I'm sad about that because I was looking at last year's project and love it so so much, mostly because I did a good job of writing down the daily stuff.

I'm not really going to beat myself up about it, but it makes me feel unrested and fidgety.

It's not all bad, though. We have been trying, as a family, to get more exercise. There hasn't been a lot of time, but the important thing is that we are trying.


Foot races

Swinging - a little too high for Mommy's taste
The kids had a program on Friday the 15th, and both were the "mascots" who had to dress up. Nico's class did England.


And Agustín's class did Switzerland.


I think they had a good time that day.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Photo Booth to the Rescue


Daddy is at a soccer game tonight and I am alone with the kids. Homemade (frozen and English-muffin) pizzas for supper, and then some play time before lights out. When suddenly, I hear crazy screaming and running. Nico was on all fours, chasing Agustin around the house. Yes, he was a "cat" (not sure if this meant house cat or puma) and Agustin was freaking out (laughing of course, but you gotta know this kid to wonder when he'd be tumbling down the stairs or falling off a couch or breaking something - any minute).

They would not stop. No amount of pleading, coaxing, screaming, yelling, threatening, would do. So, I played dirty.

Photo booth.


It was the only way to get their attention. I swear. ;)



Not too much silliness yet.


Then Agustin came into the room and the silliness started up full force.


But this was contained, safe silliness. Lots of laughing and giggling, but obviously the kids weren't running around, since they had to stay still in order to get their pictures taken and then to see what masterpiece they had come up with.


So, yes, this is my great advice to all mothers-to-be: when all else fails, take out Photo Booth.


Getting them to stop taking pictures, however, is another story.


This is just a small sampling of what they were able to accomplish in less than ten minutes on the program. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What to say, what to say...

So, I need to get that creepy picture (previous post) off my blog! (My father-in-law is doing better, by the way. He'll need some radiation sessions, though, so he's not completely out of the woods, yet.)

I thought I'd be able to do it, this blog, I mean, but without a camera I just feel... blah.

I thought I could use Andres's camera, but...well, HE'S usually using it, and it isn't always on me, and so, well, here we are three weeks later and my blog is ... blah.

I really have nothing to say. Everyone else has such cute posts and fun pictures and interesting things to say, and I've got... NOTHIN'. I've got NOTHIN'!!!!!!

Whine, whine, whine. That's how I feel. Project Life has suffered, as well. Plus, I'm out of ink so no pictures are getting printed.

So, it really isn't that NOTHIN' has been happening, just the everyday little things that I figure no one cares much about (but me, of course!).


A trip to Friday's (the kids LOVE it here, you know, cuz it's always FRIDAY, lol) for chicken nuggets and an OREO madness. Agustin really loves this dessert, and Nico will eat it just because Agustin does, but he is much more of a vanilla boy.

Inspired by the gas pictures I see sometimes, decided to document the cost of OUR gas (we have one car that takes Extra, and one that takes Diesel). Gas prices haven't changed here since we dollarized the economy in 2000. I don't know how much longer it can go at these prices...

A few lazy days at Grandma's. Grandpa is still recovering from surgery, but he is more mobile and not in very much pain, which is a good thing.

Man do I love my boys! And they, in turn, LOVE TV! Like father, like son, I say! :)



Agustín really enjoys days when he has computer homework. That, and Math, are "fun" days. He struggles more when it's social studies or Spanish. I feel like I was never good at (or liked) Social Studies much, either, so maybe he gets that from me. Studying maps and learning all those terms...yucky.



Lailai, Andres's great-aunt, had a birthday this month. I made an ombre cake. Fun! She hasn't been feeling real well, so has some medical appointments lined up to see what the problem might be. 



The kids got a science kit for Christmas, chock full of little experiments. This is the homemade glue. They certainly had fun with this!


Always fun to get washi tape in the mail. It will never get old, I imagine!




Our flowers are doing amazingly! Those morning glories are out of control, and growing like 2-3 inches a day. No lie!

Some dominoes after school...

Let me just say, at this point, that Blogger makes it REALLY difficult to add pictures and then move them around. I am much too tired to fight you, Blogger, so you will have your way. Adding more than one picture on you really sucks, though!

We made it to the stadium for the season opener this weekend. Our team won 3-1. It was a fun night - gorgeous weather and not very cold or windy, lots of people at the stadium so lots of excitement, and a big bucket of KFC wings to calm the hunger pains. 

This guy got a little upset a few minutes later because he needed to be closer to Bati. Oh well. Mommy is first until Uncle comes around...



The night got a little late for my "baby" Nico, but Agustin had an absolute blast. He really really enjoyed himself!



The sky was so blue and clear. The stars that night were out and the sky was so beautiful.

 Agustin decided to make a parade this weekend with his Legos. Man does that kid get some great ideas! Everyone got involved, and it really did look like a parade!


 After the parade, there was a bloodbath. Apparently, the parade was a ruse - just a way to trick the peaceful village into coming out so the bad guys could attack. Poor peaceful village!


 Pedro is still alive, although he might not make it longer if I don't clean his water (water is clean here, today it is MUCH worse). Poor Pedro!


As for me, I am doing well with my resolutions. So far I have lost 5 pounds, which is obviously going in the right direction, although I had hoped for more. Usually the first month you can lose a little faster than that, and I have been tracking food and doing way more activity (walking/running 5-6 times a week, as opposed to nothing before). But at least I am getting 4-5 servings of veggies and fruit every day. That's gotta count for something!

I still have a lot of organizing to do, but the house has been clean since the first of the year, and we're keeping up on that. It feels so great to know the vacuuming and dusting and mopping and bathrooms are getting done on a regular basis. A HUGE relief!

As for my creative challenge, it started to feel like homework about a week ago. I'm pretty stubborn, and determined to do it, but not so sure it will be "fun".

Well look at that! I guess I had more to say than I originally had thought :)