Saturday, October 29, 2016


Thanks to a good friend, I have a chinola (aka passionfruit) growing out back.  We developed a complex collection system with a container, a string, a stick, and three people.  They are great for juice or to eat cut in half with a spoon and drizzled with honey.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pumpkin Time!

I was impressed.  I actually found this pumpkin for $10, which I'm guessing is just what it would have cost in the states.  I'm also very proud of how much of the insides we were able to scrape out to use for making pie or cobbler (which is why it's kind of see-through).  Each kid designed a zone of the face: Micah eyes, Abigail nose, and Jesse mouth.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tooth Out!

Abigail lost her first tooth!  It wasn't exactly a "natural" occurance--more like one knock too many to the same front tooth, this time from wrestling her brother--but anyway, it is lost!  And a dollar is earned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Family Walk

A great family walk, mildly affected by a temporary downpour.

Kids perching up on our gate like always

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hermit Crab Owners

When Abigail picked up a bug at the beach and petted it for two hours, I finally felt sufficient guilt to explore some sort of pet for her.  Since anything that poops or has hair is out (because we don't want to deal with them and because we leave for five weeks at a time in summer), and fish are very difficult to pet, and snakes are just not overly appealing, and turtles carry salmonella . . . there wasn't a lot to go on.  But I finally hit on the idea of hermit crabs.  And we are all in.  

We meant to pick up three on the beach but couldn't stop ourselves, so we have five.
We tried the wire cage but had multiple escapes and a few got stuck, so we're using an aquarium.
I wasn't sure if Abigail would be brave enough to hold them, but she carries them all over the house a lot of the day.  She was shocked at the actual work of cleaning water bowls and changing food and whatnot (I spent a whopping six to eight hours getting everything set up in the last few days and making water drinkable and buying special salt and getting a lid made to fit the cage and cleaning and prepping TWO cages--this is a time-consuming pet so far).  But it makes no noise and doesn't shed and doesn't go outside to use the bathroom, so we're doing pretty well all things considered.  Her brothers like them, too.

She named them Buttercup, Johnny, Mountain-Climber, Big Guy, and Hermie.  Interestingly, they've almost all changed their shells already--one did twice the first day.  It makes it hard to tell them apart.  Because the shells change daily for some!

I must say, in defense of the hermit crab as a pet, that they eat whatever we eat (specifically what we-my-healthy-food-family eat--the web page I saw said they eat like your mom and doctor would want you to eat); they can be held as much as you want; they are very portable (I can move their whole house and temporarily put them in a tupperware if I need to); they are free (if you live near tropical beaches); they are low maintenance (as long as you live in hot, humid climates) unless they are molting (when I think they could possibly attack each other? more on that later); and they are not big poopers.  Maybe not so cute and cuddly as some pets, but we are very satisfied customers!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hummingbird Nest

Hummingbird nest in front of our porch.  We'll see if anything comes of it--the opening is actually underneath, so I can't imagine how it would hold eggs.  Maybe a wind storm tipped it over?  It was built while we were gone.

Summer Pictures

I thought I'd put some summer photos of the kids on my blog (a few of my readers let me know it has been too long)!  Here are just a few of the highlights from our trip to the U.S.

Abigail's Birthday:

Hiking Trip:

Polo game:

 NYC Trip

Right before our fountain shot, which Owen says is the fountain from "Elf" (favorite Christmas movie), we had to wait in a big crowd while they filmed a fake shooting.  It was a little bizarre, especially explaining what was going on to Abigail.  "Well, they're making a grown-up movie and someone's going to get shot in the movie and the police are going to come, but it's all pretend, they're not really shooting anyone. . . No, there's no bullets.  Yeah, not a movie we'd let you see, don't know which one.  Those people are acting, they're not scared, they're all pretending."

The Lion King:

Look!  The Davis family with Simba!!

Some of these pictures aren't so good; we had a cheap pre-pay phone for while we were there that didn't take the best pictures.

Hope your summer is going well!  We had fun and we're happy to be back home!

Ant Attack (Again)

We came back to a host of ants trouping into the house--a troubling problem, until you figure out where they're coming from.

But I found them!  In my compost heap.  I turned over the soil and they were everywhere, transporting their little white eggs to safety in a flurry of activity.  So there goes my untreated compost, because I doused them with "organic" bug spray.  I don't think I'd believe that "organic" thing in the U.S., but I definitely don't here.  Supposedly it breaks down after a while, so we won't get two heads if I grow kale in that soil later.

The problem is that the ants mean business here.  They just take over the whole garden until I go after their nest.  My adding to the compost is, in effect, just feeding time for the ant colony.

Sometimes (when you see thousands and thousands of ants swarming, for example) a good bug spray feels like the way to go--even if one is fundamentally opposed to chemical sprays as a rule.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Little Orange Crayon Goes a Long Way

We are back in the U.S. visiting family!  Pictures and related updates to come!  I had to share a laundry episode now.

Once a year I buy a bunch of shirts (and a few pairs of shorts and pants) at a Good Will near my parents-in-law and at a consignment shop near my parents to make it through the next year.  Drying clothes in the tropical sun toasts them and stretches them, and by May I have a limited amounts of shirts that fit and still look acceptable.  I stock up every summer.  The other day I bought my load of clothes for the upcoming year and put them in the washer to pre-wash them.

As I was unaware of my son's new philosophy that one should always have a bit of something to write with in one's pocket in case one has an important insight, I threw his sweatshirt in with my new clothes and created a disaster.  Crayons and dryers can create a mess some of you may be able to relate with.

Every item I had just purchased and put in that load was covered with orange crayon.

I am not proud of my initial response.  Not my best moment.

Looking online, I found a post that gave me hope that all was maybe not lost.  This mom recommended mixing laundry detergent, dish soap, and vinegar and washing in hot water.  The only problem is, only some of her comments said that people had been successful with that method.  I had a feeling rubbing the dish soap in in advance could help, and what I found was that Dawn completely took the stains out by itself!  It took some elbow grease, but I had everything looking almost perfect before I even threw it in the laundry, and then it came out great after it went through the laundry.

Just a great trick to know for next time a crayon works its way into the wash!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Happy Summer!

A fitting end to a great day--we had the first real free day today since school ended (yesterday doesn't count because Abigail was sick and I had to finish handwriting my grades into the Dominican Department of Education approved gradebook).  We had "Mommy Camp" today--some soccer this morning with some friends (because our school's soccer camp was cancelled due to lack of interest), clean the garage (service project), game, cookies, etc.  We moved the craft to tomorrow morning.  It's fun; the kids actually think of Mommy Camp as a real part of the summer.  I keep waiting for them to say, "Mommy camp is stupid," but every year they get excited.  We don't do it all summer, just designated days.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Spring Flowers, the Graduate, and Goats

I love the beautiful flowers we got as a result of all the rain we've been getting lately.

Super proud of the kindergarten graduate

These goats keep flocking in the road and making my drive interesting 
since I started taking the back way to school

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Flooding in Santiago . . . Our Drive Home Yesterday

Yesterday we watched a high school girl's play-off soccer game that was called due to lightening.  Soon we were commenting on the bad drainage in the gym where we were taking refuge.  We clearly were not too concerned by the rain at that point, as you can see below.

When we got on the road, we were first fascinated by the water build-up, then concerned as we saw the level rising up the sides of the cars.  It must have rained close to a foot in an hour (by Owen's and my estimation) and the drains could not keep up.  

I have to confess, most of the pictures were taken before things got really interesting.  Once I really thought we might get stuck in the creek that the street had become, I got distracted from taking pictures.  At one point we had to pull into a gas station, and the water was up to the level of the foot board on the side of our SUV.  We considered staying there because it really looked like it was getting too deep to drive (we watched people lift up their moto out of the water to fill the gas tank), but then a submerged gas station didn't strike us as the safest place to get stranded and we went for it.  The kids swear they saw a floating car as Owen and I were navigating our way.

We talked to stranded co-workers until they got off the roads and we shop-vacced out our house and we thanked God that everyone was safe.  Needless to say, the kids enjoyed their supper on the couch in front of Wild Kratts (in a dry corner of the house).

Not a typical rain storm.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Garden Growth

I have kale in my garden!  I didn't realize until this week that some of the radishes are actually kale.

I love it!  It is bringing me garden joy!!!

And we cleared the rest of the mini-plot of as many rocks, added some bags of soil, and planted some seeds.  We're claiming the rest of the garden now!  No more waiting for rocks to be cleared and leaving it to the weeds--we'll plant and claim it, and just have paltry yield until we get more rocks out.

Thank the Lord for our D.R. garden!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Our Car's New Look!

April Fool's!  It was another car at the grocery store!  :)

Victory Garden!!

Por fin!  At last!  We have homegrown veggies!  The radishes are in!

Not exactly my favorite vegetable, but I'll take what I can get!  :)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Easy Sourdough Gluten-free Bread

When I moved to the D.R., I decided that my gluten-free sourdough days were behind me.  I just couldn't handle the stress or commitment of dealing with starter or everyday baking.  So I took a four year break.

But lately I've started baking some pretty great desserts in my little toaster oven (because it doesn't heat up the house) and I decided to dream big and try some bread again.  I still have my kefir--in fact, I have a new batch that isn't so tart and I really love it.

So I thought I'd try my sourdough recipe with kefir in place of starter.  I mix the kefir, oat flour, yucca flour, a gluten-free flour blend, a little flaxmeal, 2 eggs, 2 T sugar, 1 t baking soda, a dash of salt, and a half stick of butter in a glass dish that just fits in our toaster.  The consistency is knead-able only with a spoon but not a liquid.  Then I let it rise a few hours (or all day, if I'm gone) and then bake it almost two hours.

And it tastes AMAZING!  We loved it so much I made three batches just this weekend!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Santiago Gardening (Finally)

Mango tree (left) and pink guava tree (right), both only about a year-old--
probably growing so rapidly because my compost pile is directly in from of them.

 OK, it's been a while since I had a real gardening post.  Actually, it's been a while since I had any post, sorry about that.  Somehow my "free Friday mornings" have been a little less free than I thought they'd be.  Lots of our days off fall on Friday, I've had to schedule appointments on Friday mornings, and, somehow, almost every time one of our kids is sick it's on a Friday.  So there went all that delicious free time I thought I'd have.

Anyway, anyone reading my blog is familiar with my unsuccessful attempts to garden in what I was told is some of the most fertile land on the planet--not a big boost for a gardener's ego I can tell you.  In fairness to my ego, the soil has so much clay I haven't known what to do with it and most of what is grown here is in ample supply and not the foods I want to grow (i.e., I probably could have been successful growing yucca or plantains, I just don't want to).

Some of my challenges have been:

1) the aforementioned clay,
2) stolen soil,
3) a bird that eats baby spinach and red beet seedlings,
4) tropical sun combined with neglectful watering,
5) heat (don't always feel like being out trying).
6) lots and lots of small rocks, intended to decoratively cover the land for I know not what reason,
7) rats in the area as a discouragement for composting,
8) and going back to work part time being closer to full time.

I basically gave up.  But last May or so, I decided that it was too depressing not to compost.  I decided I would compost and just ask myself "If I was a rat, would I eat this?" for foods I wasn't sure about (so, no grains!).  And now, after stealing leaf trash from neighbors' trash piles and lots of our own veggie and fruit waste, we have compost.  And the compost being added to the clay-ey soil (and lots and lots of buckets of rocks taken out) has led to nice garden soil.  So, hilariously, this time my need to compost led to gardening instead of the other way around.

So today we have (once again, I nust say) planted some seeds: kale, red radishes, french breakfast radishes, red beets, and tomatoes.  Not sure how it'll all do, but hoping to get something out of it this time.  Here are some pictures.

My newly planted garden--tiny, but relatively free of rocks and well-composted.  I'm hopeful that when these
seedlings come up, the netting will solve the seedling-eating-bird problem.

Palm leaves I had the kids drag over from neighbors' yards and then stripped and cut into
smaller pieces.  Awaiting sunny weather (we've had a lovely wet weather streak this weekend)
to get them dry for my brown composting material.

Baby chinola vines (passion fruit)

Our first garden harvest, a tomato plant with a single tomato.  Hilariously, this tomato plant was a
volunteer growing in our the strip where our garage door opens with virtually no soil.  We transplanted it
with little hope for its survival.  It is our first successful gardening venture here.  Abigail got to eat it.