Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Library Day

Today is library day, which makes me very happy. So far, since finding the lovely damas library, I have checked out and read the following books:
  • Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson. A quick read, similar to those British chick lit books but maybe not as good as something by Jennifer Weiner, for example. Still, light reading and enjoyable, although not really my type.
  • The Book of Salt by Monique Troung. I couldn't finish this book, and actually did not enjoy it at all. Every time I felt like something was going to happen, the plot would thin out and leave me hanging. I did not like the second person voice at all, and felt like the narrator was too educated and insightful, almost pompous at times (under the guise of a humble cook), for who he was supposed to be, which made him completely flat in my opinion. The prose has some potential, although it felt like the author (this is her first book) was trying to hard to impress and would therefore forget about her plot and her characters. A little too verbose. Anyhow, NOT a recommendation, although I may check out something by her in the future. I don't know, I just expected more...
  • The Other Boelyn Girl by Philippa Greggory. I have read another book by Greggory, and enjoyed it (The Constant Princess). Her books remind me of when I was young and would read historical romance - I always loved getting wrapped up in a story from the past. I guess I like them because English royalty has always confounded me, and by putting the kings and queens into "real" characters, I feel like I understand it better. I feel like I am learning as I read. It is a long book and I haven't finished it yet, but it is interesting and well written.
  • Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult. I've read My Sister's Keeper, and enjoyed it. I like the suprise endings, and Picoult's writing is basically flawless. She can really move a plot along, although I did not understand the reason for giving background on the main character, Jack St. Bride. Anyhow, Picoult is good escape reading, and reminds me of why I love to read in the first place! I can finish a book of hers in a few days, a big plus for someone who can barely get reading time in.
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I have been looking forward to reading something by Kidd for years. The librarian told me he has The Secret Life of Bees, which I have heard is better than The Mermaid's Chair, but I am glad I at least got to read something by her. Not my favorite book, but a quick read and different plot. I liked the descriptions of the settings.
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. WONDERFUL. This is a great book. It says "A Memoir in Books" on the front, and that is a good description. I would recommend this book to anyone. Not my usual choice of book, but even better than I had imagined!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Kids' Videos

I haven't been real good about adding cute videos I find online to this blog, but I thought this one was just too good to pass up. I know a lot of mothers use YouTube for entertaining their little ones, and oh! the things you can find on that site. Anyway, this was cute. I can imagine my Agustin really enjoying it. He loves anything animal-related.

Friday, May 18, 2007

An Invitation to a Barbecue

After months and even years of having no social life whatsoever, I am proud to announce that I have been invited to a barbecue at a friend's house, for tomorrow afternoon - the kids are invited too!

Sad, but true. And I am nervous, I won't lie, even though the people are very friendly and nice and the kids behave well with the other kids and everyone seems to get along... but imagine, after 12 years of almost no contact in a social setting with English speakers, I will be on my own for maintaining small talk (no Andres). Scary thought. If anyone has some suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them now!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday playgroup

Today is Playgroup and I am looking forward to it. I love that my kids can get together with other kids - all of whom speak English - and just chill out. I remember my parents getting together with their friends on Friday and Saturday nights, and we kids spending time with their kids playing games and with other people's toys (always a fun thing!), so I hope this is something that will stick around and they will remember fondly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lasagna Recipe

So, a little birdie told me that this weekend my mother made lasagna for Mother's Day and had the family over. Mmmmm, lasagna (said รก la Homer Simpson). So, I got the craving and decided to make lasagna last night. I used a recipe from my Taste of Home magazine, but it just didn't turn out as I had hoped (I had to use provolone cheese instead of mozarella, but I don't think it was that, really). Does anyone have a great lasagna recipe to share with me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Update on Agustin's School

Well, as most of you may or may not know, Agustin, 3, started preschool a few weeks ago. We put him in a place that was near the house, but after a few unfortunate incidents (luckily not involving him but other kids his age), we decided to find somewhere that was a bit more organized and not so impromptu. We found a beautiful school only a few minutes by car from the house, and immediately enrolled him. At first it was hard for him to make the transition. He missed his other school, his other friends, his other teacher. He didn't seem to hate the new school, but was sad and wouldn't talk - not one word the whole morning (very strange for him, let me say - he's not one to be quiet for long!). He was picking up on a lot of things, however - learning a few shapes (in Spanish) and some songs (unintelligible for the most part), but not really making friends as I understand. The teachers were impressed with his motor skills - he took up the scissors and color crayons and all right away (he practices with Mommy). But socially, not doing so good.

Well, last Friday he had a bit of a stomachache the night before and so we decided to keep him home since he seemed constipated (sorry if that is too much information for anyone - just normal Mommy-talk, I guess). Then, we stayed an extra day in Ambato this weekend and didn't get home until early Monday morning - so Tin missed two days of class. Today his grandmother brought him and all he did was cry!

After a few minutes of crying, the school decided to put him into the daycare program (in a separate area) of the school, with the other 3-year-olds, and he was so happy! He talked the whole morning, played with the other kids, made a friend (Martin) and said goodbye and see you tomorrow when he left. I am relieved, because it looks like they were pushing him too hard - while maybe not too advanced per se, perhaps a little over his head in a certain way. Anyhow, this way he will be with these new kids until next school year, when they will, together, enter preschool. I am much more comfortable with this - maybe this new school was too organized! Obviously, the kids had already been in the school for the entire school year, and Agustin was entering late, so was behind. It seems like he knew that. Also, this school made him work and play hard, and he would come home every day so crabby and so exhausted that we would end up fighting the whole night with him. I think he was just being pushed too hard.

So, that's the latest news in the Life of Agustin!

Hello again... Is it me you're looking for?

I am so ashamed - so long and I haven't written anything! I've been busy with a few translations, my CEC blog, writing for suite (a silly little hobby, perhaps, but very enjoyable), and work. Oh, and the two kids, but that's a given, isn't it?

May seems to be a busy month in Ecuador in the field of education. I've got a lot on my plate, but very fun and exciting stuff, which is nice for a change. Lots of workshops and seminars. I got to meet the author of the series English in Mind, Herbert Puchta, in an exclusive workshop for program coordinators at the Hilton Colon, and what a nice guy! And with so much to say about teaching teenagers - I will be able to use a lot of his ideas for upcoming workshops (teaching teenagers is always a big request with our instructors).

This month was also the AGM (Annual General Meeting for you non-Brits!) for the CRADLE Project, which I do consulting work for. We are also in the long process of revising the Our World Through English textbooks (Books 5 and 6 are the last ones on our agenda) and as I am in charge of writing the Grammar Pages, I have a lot to do there. Just editing the student's and teacher's book is a lot of work too, something that I need to get started on if we are to have them ready by September.

I was approached by the representative of Thomson Learning here in Ecuador and asked to possible be their educational consultant (perhaps not the right name?) - anyhow, what I would do is prepare workshops for English teachers on how to use their textbooks - and then travel around the country (at least the Sierra region) to give the workshops and answer questions about the books. Now wouldn't that be fun! I haven't heard back yet, so I don't know how that will work out.

Lastly, I have been busy with some longer translations. Once I get into them, I have a blast with them too - although since I have to work on the computer I quickly develop an aversion to the internet and blogging since I am working nonstop and at breakneck speed. Anyway, the translation was due today and it is finished after three weeks of wrestling with it. Let me just say, the internet is an amazing thing - can you believe that before I had to try to look for technical and field-related words by searching texts and dicitonaries? Now all I do is google the phrase and I can instantly determine whether I have the right phrase or not. What an amazing tool!

I joined the Damas, finally! And I now have access to an awesome library. I can't believe it took me twelve years here to figure it all out - can you believe what I've been missing!?

Well, I am just excited this month about work and stuff I am involved in. Some of it is dreary and upsetting (like when you have problems with teachers and students, some of which can get ugly), but on the whole, May is an exiciting time for teachers here in Ecuador, and it has also stopped raining all day - which can bring a smile to anyone's face. Now we just get a rainy afternoon - but blue skies in the morning! Woohoo!