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.