Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update: The Kids in GiTMO

It's been a little while since I updated about anything GiTMO, mainly because I'm so busy running around being busy. There isn't anything here that is too far to go to or too complicated, though there are people who are either complicated or just lazy but that's everywhere. I wont focus on that right now.

It's been four weeks since the kids and I set foot on the island and we've shared our beaches, sea glass, and other fun things happening around here. Everyone is waiting for the huge "UGH! get me out of here" to come because sooner or later it does. Like I said before, every base has it's quirks and it's up to us to make things work or life will be miserable.

So on to the kids for a quick update on them:

Emily (15) is in 10th grade and adjusting well (I think?) Teens only say what's convenient for them so for us parents sometimes it's a wait-and-find-out game. But from what I can see she is doing OK. Switching schools was the biggest transition, you know, because of the social impact it has on her life. However, things have been easier because we have friends of all ages in our block. Emily has a friend named Emily. They have a lot in common and get along well. They've started taking tennis lessons together and spend a lot of time doing what most teens do - hanging out at the pool, the NEX, the movies; they even go on long walks as part of their exercise routine--and I use the word routine lightly. But that keeps them from getting bored.

Even though we came in towards the end of the semester, Emily was expected to catch up and do a lot of the work or at least a portion of what the kids were working on. She had to read Great Expectations in Honors English and later write about it, has several other writing projects going on in her Honors History class. In Culinary Arts she had to prepare a meal for us at home and she did a great job considering she's not the best at reading recipes. She started with an Italian theme and soon it became an International theme. She made Chicken Marinara with Bow tie pasta, a lovely Greek salad, French bread, and Strawberry Shortcake for dessert. In Art she was told that her work could be sold because it was that good, she doesn't believe that but I do agree, she is a good artist, especially with pencil drawings.

Natalie also has friends on the block. They get along great, play a lot and play hard. I love to see these kids playing without worries on the playground. Everyone looks out for the kids because everyone has them and we all sort of expect the same from each other. Natalie jumped in feet first and is loving her class. Her teacher doesn't give them time to miss anything. She is a reading advocate. She wants her kids to be a grade ahead of their years in reading and so far she's been able to get all the kids to test above their expected reading level. She's fantastic and everyone loves her. Natalie is also taking Spanish and Computers.

Jonathan has friends here too. Eva his 2 year old friend across the street. She's a cutie. We get together often at home or at the playground and let them run wild. They play well together. Most mom's know that where there are moms there is at least one play group. Here we have a couple to choose from. I prefer the "disorganized" play group. I call it that because we (the moms) get together have conversation with other adults and the kids play in a playroom, outside, everywhere. No planned activities, just play time. Occasionally there are tears due to the whole sharing thing but we resolved that quickly and send them on their way to play again. By the time we leave the kids are ready for a nap and the moms had a great time connecting with other moms. There are a few dads with little kids but I think they have their own way to connect because they never come to the Tuesday morning Coffee.

What have we done for fun lately: we went to a Kareoke Fun Night where Natalie won 1st prize singing A Horse with no Name. Quite funny how many kids sang really old songs and won. We played kickball at the soccer field. We probably had 25 kids there easily and every single kid got to kick that ball. We have been to the movies several times - it's free!! We go for long walks, bike rides or in Jonathan's case, a stroller ride up and down these hills, it's quite the workout. We go to the pool, the beach, and the playground often and when all else fails, we send out an email saying "hey everyone come over for lunch, bring the kids and your lunch" --how fun is that.

While this all seems like really busy time, I do get a lot of time for me to catch up with homework (last semester--woohoo!) and talk to friends online or via google chat (that is the best, like talking on the phone but free), time to watch TV but best of all I always manage to find time to just "be."

The quiet mornings are my favorite. I usually go out back with my coffee or tea and watch the sun rise over the mountains. The bay goes through a rainbow of colors and the still waters just make me want to be still. It really is relaxing and calming and I am blessed to have that to look at every day.

That's it for now. Until next time.
Feel free to leave a comment, ask questions, talk to me!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Treasuring my space and time

An empty family room=large play area for kids

First I whine. Yes.. I miss my stuff. You would think I'd take this down time to do what I always wanted to do. The problem is that when you have nothing do, having nothing in the house only adds to the pain. Does that make sense? Probably not.

My household goods either arrived in this week's barge or will be here in the next one, about 2 more weeks. No, in the grand scheme of things that's not really a long time but I guess when you're in the middle of things it feels like an eternity.

Internet is slow and many of the programs I enjoyed, i.e. and any video streaming program, are blocked due to the limited bandwidth. We need to purchase calling cards to call home or risk paying $5 per minute. Cable TV - well we get very few channels and having come from the world of DVRs, it is sort of annoying that I can't pause a show to answer the phone or get the door. So if you want to watch something, plan to be there on time.

On the bright side - because there's always a bright side :-)

Getting calling cards is really not an issue. They have those machines all over the place and you can get $5, $10, $20 cards and costs only 0.9 cents a minute to call the states and only a little more to call the Dominican Republic. They have become part of my grocery list so I always have one handy. No more three hour chats over the phone=more time to play.

TV and Cable -- well we didn't always have a DVR so yes we were spoiled but again if we really want to watch something we plan for it, if not then we have more time to play outdoors and play family games. It's amazing what how spoiled we are and how much we take those things for granted. I remember becoming annoyed when the Internet back home was slow for no good reason - it was never as slow as it can be here during peak hours. So we plan when we go online and never spend as much time on it as we used to.

The best stories are in the books we're reading - no slow Internet, no power outage, can stop and start at will--a book is much more fun.

Finally the kids - because the house is empty, they can ride the tricycle indoors if it's too hot outside!! That is a lot of fun and according to them, pretty cool!!

'till next time!


Monday, January 11, 2010

A cold day in GiTMO

This weekend was relatively cold in GiTMO. I say cold but not complaining at all. I know the real cold has been felt in the hottest states but for this region to require sweatshirts and long pants it is a rare thing. This is not an up or a down, just an observation.

So today I received my "express" household goods. This is supposed to be the shipment they pick up about a month before the actual move in which we are supposed to pack the things we need/want to have in advanced until our big shipment of stuff arrives. I understand now, that kitchen items would have been a great thing to send ahead. However, things were so whacked in my case that this was the last shipment they picked up and the only thing in it were the towels, pillows, sheets, a small TV with no remote (doesn't work without it), an old laptop (great for watching videos), and just about anything else I found laying around; anything that was left over from the big move. Oh yes, the kids bicycles and a soccer ball too.

That was disappointing, to say the least!! On the bright side, my kids were excited to have their old comforters, towels and pillows back. My little ones were more excited to have a box to play with...yay for little people. They are happy with the simplest of things.

Our truck is also here now. We got it in less then 30 days!! Amazing! It seems people come and go on vacation or work, etc. It is during their absence that a family or unaccompanied service member uses their car until they return. I have a great story about one of my borrowed vehicles but that's for another blog post because this you have to see in pictures.

Tonight I went to see a movie at the Lyceum. It is our outdoors movie theater where we get to watch movies for free. Where the popcorn is as good as any other theater but costs only $1, $2, or $3 if you want the barrel 'o popcorn. The drinks are cheap and you don't get gallon sized sodas. They even serve beer... how cool is that if you like beer. Hot cocoa or tea would have been great tonight, just saying.

We went to see Sherlock Holmes. Great movie. Lots of humor and interesting effects. The downside, I was tired and sleepy and cold; (oh my gosh I can't believe I was wearing sweat shirt/pants and shared a blanket with a friend) it's Cuba and I was cold. OK totally not bitching about being cold. I know my relatives are most likely telling me to quit whining about a little wind and temperatures about 68 degrees F. (Sorry!!)

On the bright side, I came home to complete silence. Everyone is in bed... the remote and the internet bandwidth are all mine!!!

Adios Amigos!!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sea Glass from Glass Beach

I said I would come back with some sea glass photos and here they are. Sorry it took so long. I've had to retrain myself with uploading and downloading photos in our slow "high speed" internet system. But on to better topics:

These are tiny cobalt blue pieces. Really hard to find and when we do, we drop everything to salvage the little pieces out of the water. I love this color, very vibrant.

These range from cyan to aqua and teal. These remind of the colors we see in the water. Not so hard to find but apparently very nice to wear as jewelry.

This green sort of reminds me a granny smith apple. Again a nice vibrant color that would look pretty nice as a jewel.

This here is white sea glass, sort of obvious huh? The little one in the middle is red. I really wish my other camera was working. So anyway, the red is very rare and hard to find. I hope to find more of the rare colors during my stay here.

I really like the way the look all together. I don't really have my house hold goods yet so I can't really get very crafty. But these sit on a white plate with a red candle in the middle. Warms up my very white counter tops.
These are olive, light and dark. I wonder if these were once wine bottles. I'll have to do more research on the origin of the different colors.
Let me guess, beer bottles? Mixed in these are some light colors like amber and the very dark browns. Apparently there's a gold out there that's supposed to be rare as well.
I hope you enjoyed my gems. I hope someday to be showing off the rarest of them all!!

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Blue Monday - Glass Beach

Glass Beach is evidently a popular place for the sea glass collectors living in GiTMO. We've heard the stories and even looked into the sea glass rage and I have to say that it is fascinating.

I enjoy finding these little treasures on the beach, it's like finding really cool sea shells. What I am enjoying most about finding sea glass is the time Michael and I spend together. So far, once a week, we have been going to Glass Beach (or one of the beaches), just the two of us.

A sandy beach is nice, but here, the beaches give us something to do and something to look forward to. Yesterday we found some rare colors; red, cobalt blue, and Periwinkle. Very beautiful and could really see them as a piece of jewelry.

I'm not a big jewelry person so I may have to keep looking for more of these colors and come up with something unique to do with them.

If nothing else, we enjoy the peaceful scenery, time to reconnect, and you can't beat the view.

I hope to be sharing more on the fascinating world sea glass, but first I must educate myself. Until then, take care!


Visit Smiling Sally to see the blue's others are sharing.