Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two weeks

I am sitting here on the couch, waiting for my arthritis medicine to kick in, just thinking back over the past.  The past in general, and the past four months in particular.  Can you believe its been almost four months since I came back to the US?  When I am in the day to day of it all, it feels like each day is dragging by, and that the end of my time here will NEVER come to an end.  But as I sit here, I realize that in all reality it has flown by. 

Two days from right now, I will be in Honduras.Two days from later in the evening I will be where I want to be, where I need to be.  Back with my family.  The plan in me coming here was for me to come and work until December, and do what I could do as far as paying the debt, and from there we would figure it out, because I wasn't staying past Deccember.  Then I had the oportunity to take a little girl to Honduras to meet her grandparents and brothers and sisters (because her parents aren't able to travel due to lack of papers).  So I was happy because that meant I could take two weeks and visit with my kids and my husband.  Then the mother of the child realized she couldn't part with the baby, not even for two weeks.  So that ended that.  But I had already bought my ticket, since I could get it cheap.  That meant I still was able to take a two week vacation and visit with my family.

Two weeks to look at this..


Now, I dont know if Im going to take a two week vacation.  I am hoping that I can make my husband see that nothing good is coming out of me being here.  On the debt, we owe two people.  One person we owe almost $4000, and the other almost $10000.  Well last week the one that we owe the $4000 to came by the house and told Lale that he had to pay within 10 days because they wanted to buy some cows. 

With me being here, we haven't been able to save anything for paying the debt.  For multiple reasons.  One because anytime we have anything extra to save it ends up being spent on something I need here (BP machine, and some medications), or something goes wrong with the truck there, or someone is sick.  Ari spent close to 5 days in the hospital with pneumonia last month.  And it doesnt help that my husband isn't the best at running a household with 9 children in it as far as buying food for the month etc. etc.  He tries, but he has never had to do it, its always been my job.  So while he is getting a bit better, more money is still being spent per month than should be.  (which all of this to me says that God is saying we have to figure out how to do this TOGETHER. As in both of us there, or both of us here).

When I talked to him yesterday he told me he was able to sell some of our cows to pay L53,000 of the L70,000 that we owe the one person.  That still leaves us L17,000 short (about $900).  But its better than nothing.  The other person we owe will wait until I get my taxes done in January, then let me make payments for the rest of the year, so we dont have to worry about that debt.

Anyway, all of this blah, blah, blahing to say that me being here has done nothing to help.  And it is just me missing time with my family.  I told Lale that I dont want to come back, and that when I get there we can talk about it.  If after talking about it, we decide that I do need to come back to the US, well then I will.  It would be for three months more, thats it.  And that will pass quickly.  And I can do it.  But Im hoping I dont have to.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Its all becoming clearer now...

I remember the day that I first stepped on Central American soil. It was Feb. 2001, and it was in Gautemala. Back then I went to meet my then in laws, (my then husband and I were still married, but had been seperated for almost 3 years) and as soon as I arrived where they live (Girones - about 10 minutes from the El Salvador border) I felt at home. I felt like I was where I was supposed to be. And to be honest, if I had brought Andre with me when I had gone, I probably wouldn't have gone back to the US. Really, thats how I felt.

At some point around the same time I had come across a website, THIS website, quite by accident, and as I clicked through it, I just cried. The tears rolled down my face, and I got a heaviness on my heart of this is something along the lines of what I am supposed to be doing.

After my three weeks in Guatemala, I came back home, and my life got back to what it was before I went. Later that year I met Lale, and I remember showing him the website, and trying to explain to him what I had felt (and still do now, 9 years later) whenever I looked at the website. Like it was a calling. And I told him - before I even knew we would get married etc. etc. - that if we were ever to move to Honduras (and there was NO talk about it back then) that I would want to do something like this. He agreed it would be a good thing, and that is as far as it has gone.

Now fast forward 9 years, and I haven't done anything in regards to this feeling. I have still had the feelings of wanting to do SOMETHING to help out the people in my area, but the question is what? Something along the lines of Casa De Los Angeles really wont work for where I am. And I realy dont have a clue as to where I would start.

Another thing, my children all go to public schools - not in the aldea where we live because thats just not an option for me, but to better schools close by - but I am not happy with the schooling there. For many reasons. One is the lack of days. Meaning that they miss alot of school due to teachers on strike, teachers not coming to school, etc. etc. Another is being how they are taught. Everything is memorization. And thats it. And it isnt everyones teacher that I have issues with, because Mickeys teacher I am happy with. The little kids pre K/K teacher is awesome. Jordans school, which is supposedly the best in the area, well it is sort of ok. Isa's teacher I dont like, and Sendy's school SUCKS. But they are my kids, which for them is a good thing. I know what a good thing an education is. I know how important it is. So I work with my kids. I give them suplemental teaching to keep them up to par with their age/grade in the US.

I have been looking for stuff for the kids to use when I go back. Then it slowly dawned on me. It became more clear. What I think I am supposed to be doing. In the last week or so, it has all cemented in my head, where it makes sense. i just have to sit down and work it out on paper.

What am I talking about you say? It is how I hope to be able to make a difference.

Where we live, if the teachers come three times a week, thats alot. And class there only lasts four hours at the most. And honestly, alot of the kids dont even go - or when they do, they arent taught/dont learn. I have had alot of people ask me to teach them english as well. And thats where it began to fall into place.

I am able to help the children where we live to see what a great thing an education is. I am able to help them by bringing them into my "class" so to speak as I am teaching my children. I can make time 4 times a week to help them, under the guise of teaching them english (so that the older kids can benefit as well as the younger kids) and I can show them how to think for themselves. How to do critical thinking. I can have manipulatives and can show them how to do math, and how to apply it to there everyday life.

It just feels right. And it does tie into the whole Casa De Los Angeles theme. They have a program for street kids/orphans. They teach them a useful education. They teach the mothers useful skills and help families to be able to grow and better themselves and become self sufficient. And that is sort of what I am going to be doing. By bringing in these children who WANT to learn, one by one I will be giving them a useful education, giving them useful skills. So that hopefully as they grow up and have children, they will want more for their kids. They wont settle. And even if I only make a change in two other children from where I live, that is two more people who can eventually pay it forward, and those two can become four, who then become eight, who then can become sixteen and so on and so on. Because I am living there, it will be a long term thing. It isnt a short term come in, do this, and go home type of thing. So I am hoping that it will be helpful. My children also will be a major part of this. Not only will they be learning as well, but they will be teaching these other children what they know.

I am hoping over the next few days I can get a blog set up for this project, so that I can post, if nothing more, monthly updates. I would love to be able to have it set up and running as soon as I go home (Im going home on TUESDAY!!! and hopefully its to stay), but I know that isnt possible. I know that this is something that is going to have to take time to get everything that I need set up. My goal is to have it starting in February when the Honduran school terms begin again. Or earlier if possible. But we will see. It is all in Gods hands because He knows what needs to be done.

*~*~*~*~*Here is the link to the blog if you are interested.*~*~*~*~*

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Being able to laugh at yourself, and my trip to Tegucigalpa

What I am about to share with you is personal, but it shows you how in order to live in Honduras, you have to be able to LAUGH at everything. Even things that arent funny at the time. You especially have to be able to laugh at yourself.

It was January 22 this year that I arrived back in Honduras. Since I havent gotten my residency yet, I came in on a 90 day tourist visa. That meant that my visa expired on April 22. Mine, Andre's and Jordan's. So I had to decide did I want to spend all of that money (that we really didnt have at that time) to leave the country and go to Mexico (we went to Belize last year, and if I can help it, I will never go again. It sucked!) for a couple of days to renew our tourist visas or apply for a 30 day extension for all of us. It was way cheaper to just apply for the extension, and save up the extra money over the next 4 weeks. The only problem was that you could no longer apply for the extension in La Ceiba, which meant road trip to Tegucigalpa.

I was excited to go. Mainly because 9 days later I would be leaving for the US for 7 months, and it meant I would get a bit of alone time with my husband. Also because I had never been to Tegucigalpa, and I wanted to visit. But lets be honest, I really just wanted a *date* with my husband, LOL. The bus we needed to take left from Tocoa at 1:30AM. The plan was to *try* to get to Tegucigalpa, do what we needed to do, and try to catch the last bus back to Tocoa the same day. We knew we probably wouldnt be able to do that, but we were gonna try. But if not, then we would stay the night in Teguc, then catch the first bus back in the AM.

So Monday afternoon I packed most of our stuff that we would need, and I stayed up late making some food to bring with us on the bus. I then went to bed, and less than an hour later I was up getting ready to go. Now, if you have visited any blogs of people who live in (or visit) Central American countries, you know that when you travel, you always, always, ALWAYS pack toilet paper. And I always do. I will be honest though, in the 2 years in Honduras, I never needed the TP that I packed. But I pack it anyways.

Now its 1AM and I am sitting at the bus stop in Tocoa waiting for the bus to come, and I have to go to the bathroom. I get up, go to the bathroom, and all of a sudden I dont feel so good. My stomach is feeling funny, and I now have diarrhea. And the bathroom has no toilet paper. No problem though, because I am prepared. I get my backpack, and pull out the TP. But wait, where is the TP? It seems that when I was repacking the last minute stuff I must have taken out the TP and not put it back. Oh thats just great. Now what am I going to do? Don't ever say that I am not resourceful. After looking around and realizing there is NOTHING that can be used as TP, I pull off my shoes, and my socks, and use one of my socks as TP. Oh boy. I drop the sock in the trash, wash my hands, and out to wait for the bus I go. I feel better, so I figure, well thats good, the trip will be just fine, and 10 minutes later I am settling down on the bus, hoping I can go back to sleep.

If you have never been on a bus trip in Honduras, let me fill you in a bit on what to expect. Expect to have the bus filled with as many people as possible, (although one company that I usually use wont allow more people on than there are seats - but we didnt use them to go to Teguc) to stop at every cross road to pick up more people, but in a 10 hour bus ride only stop once, for 10 minutes, to go to the bathroom and get food.

So off and on, I managed to doze and about 8AM, or 7 hours into the ride I am now wide awake, and I have to go to the bathroom. My stomach is rolling, and I am just feeling HORRIBLE. I said a prayer of thanks that I didnt have to hit the bathroom earlier than 7 hours, but my body was making up for it now. I am looking out the window as we go up and down these mountains, wondering when are we going to STOP. I wake up Lale and ask him how much longer, and he is so sweet, he tells me - 4 more hours or so. This bus doesnt stop. WHAT??!?!?!?!?! I can't make it 4 more hours. I am seriously in tears. Not crying, but about to. I told him my problem and asked him what am I supposed to do. Hold it he says. WTH?? You cant really hold diarrhea honey, sorry. I told him to ask the guy who is collecting money how long till we stop. It took me a good 15 minutes of harrassing him before he finally asked the guy. We will be stopping in about 5 minutes the guy said. Oh PRAISE THE LORD. I was so bad off I had chills.

The bus stops, and I run out and run to the bathroom, because let me tell you I wouldnt be able to wait in line. So, now Im done, and guess what, no TP in this place either. BUT I still had my other sock in my pocket, so I was ok. I finished up, went to the store where we stopped, stocked up on some Honduran version of Immodium AD, and I bought 2 rolls of TP. And some soda and crackers. Hoping it would help settle my stomach.

This is what I saw on most of my trip TO Teguc. The back of the curtain on the bus. I kept my head burried and prayed into it.

Back on the bus, I asked about how much longer till we are in Teguc. Three hours or so was the answer. I thought well I lasted 7 hours, so 3 hours shouldnt be that bad. Well let me tell you how wrong I was. By the time we were in Teguc, but not at the bus stop I was freaking out. I told Lale that I would have to get off wherever we were and find a toilet or do my business on the side of the road because I just wouldnt be able to make it to the bus stop. We could catch a cab if we had to. He was so mad at me. he is like we are almost there, just hold it. Again with the hold it business. WHATEVER. I was able to hold it until we were at the bus terminal, but man, that bus driver wouldnt open the doors. He had to park the bus just so. In my head I am screaming at these people to just let me off the damn bus. You will be glad to know, that I was able to make it to the bathroom at the bus terminal, but barely. By this point I was feeling like death. Actually I think death would have been an improvement.


I kept popping my Immodiums, and praying. Lale wanted to go right to the Immigration office, where as I wanted to find a hotel room, drop my stuff off, and possibly be near a bathroom. He won. Ugh. So off to the Immigration office we went. The Immodiums were finally starting to kick in a bit, and I was feeling a teeny tiny bit better. At the Immigration office there were 3 lines that we had to wait in. So I waited in one, sent him to the bank line to wait, then when I was done in my line, I sent him to the third line while I finished up with the bank. So it took us less than an hour to get everything done, and we were heading back to find a hotel.


We got our hotel room, went to the cafeteria and ordered some food. I ate a couple of bites and gave him my plate. He was so hungry, he ate his plate, my plate and ordered another plate. Then we went back to the hotel room where I laid down and went to sleep. By now it was 1PM. I slept until 7PM. We both woke up, he ordered dinner - 2 hamburgers and fries. The hamburgers smelled weird because it wasnt ground beef hamburgers. It was like a mixed mystery meat type of burger, so I didnt eat mine. I just ate the fries and gave him my burger. Then by 7:30PM I was asleep again until 5AM, getting up just once or twice. What a GREAT date/one on one time I had with my husband, LMAO


When I got up at 5AM, I was feeling almost at 100%. I took a shower, got dressed and out the door we went to catch the 6AM bus back to Tocoa. While I was feeling better though, he kept saying his stomach felt a little funny. I had bought more Immodium, so I got him a couple as well and told him to take them.


6AM and we are back on the bus heading home. This time I was able to stay awake and take pictures and video of everything we passed. Lale on the other hand wasnt feeling as well as I was. He was complaining that he had to go to the bathroom, and I just kept telling him to HOLD IT. And enjoyed telling him that too. You know what they say about paybacks, LOL.


I didnt like Tegucigalpa, or the little bit that I saw of it. I didnt like the trip there or back. Even if I wasnt sick, I wouldnt have enjoyed the trip. I am not a city girl at all, and to me Teguc was just ugly. There was some pretty scenery on the way there and back, but the city of Teguc did nothing for me. If I never go back, well I wont be sad.


I will say though, that on the trip I saw TONS of houses with the CLARO satelite on top of their houses, and I couldnt help but wonder if they had as hard of a time getting their cable as Ms Patty and I did.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Keep On Loving You

I was flipping through the radio stations and came across this song. As I was driving to my doctors appointment, I listened to the lyrics and really, truer words were never spoken. Love DOES take the patience of Job, sometimes you DO have to go, without really knowing where you are going. And it all comes down to Faith.

I Keep On Loving You - By Reba McEntire

Love takes the patience of Job.
Thats what my mama always said.
Faith is the belief in something more than you know.
Thats what the good book says.

You gotta play the cards you got.
Who knows what fate is holding.
At times you gotta go.
Without knowing where you're going.

Thats why I keep on lovin' you. I keep on lovin' you.
Through the baby-don't-leave-mes,
And never-will-agains
And I-promise-tos.
I keep on lovin' you.

Lord knows we've had our share of fights.
Our sleepless nights, our ups and downs.
We've had plenty and then some
Of baby-I'm-gone and turnarounds.

Sometimes I swear it might be easier
To throw in the towel.
Someday we're gonna look back,
And say look at us now.

Thats why I keep on lovin' you. I keep on lovin' you.
Through the baby-don't-leave-me's
And never-will-agains
And I-promise-to's. I keep on lovin' you.

I keep on lovin' you, keep on lovin' you.
Through the I-take-it-backs
I's-never-hurt-you's. Oh I keep on lovin' you.
(repeat last 2 verses 2x)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Silver Lining

I believe in silver linings. I believe that there is a reason for everything - even when I do not see any obvious reason why things happen the way they do, eventually - sometimes years later - the reason shows itself. God lets me see his plan, and why things happen the way that they do on His own time.

For instance, the car accident. I am so grateful that my husband and his friend who was in the car with him both survived, and while there is still a tiny bit of residual damage with my husband, both guys are pretty much back to 100%. The accident and almost dying however has changed my husband. He has become a bit more patient, he has decided to become more thankful for things he has. He has gone back to church, and when he gets frustrated, he now works on his mood a bit more, and talks things out more, instead of causing an arguement taking it out on whoever is around (me! LOL)

As you all know, I am here to work to pay off the debt. Well we owe (after interest) almost $14500 to three different people. Well I set up a payment plan for the $10500 that we owe the one person, so thats one weight lifted off my shoulders. So that leaves around $4000 left to pay right now. So I am working and sending money - money for the day to day living of the family, and money that should be going towards the debt. Except that things KEEP coming up, and nothing is being paid on the debt. The stuff that keeps coming up is unplanned, but stuff that HAS to be taken care of. For instance, the tires blow out on the car, well they have to be replaced because we need the car. The kids have to get to school. Everytime there is a bit of extra money, something seems to pop up - its the same thing that happened when I was down there. It gets frustrating, no doubt. And even more so because you have a plan, and the plan just goes to pot. But this is where faith comes into play. I have faith that God knows what he is doing. He doesnt need my help in figuring out my life. He knows when and how and from where the money is going to come from, and I just have to have faith and keep on keeping on.

Sometimes it makes me wonder though, if the money that I am making here isnt going towards the debt, what am I doing here then. Is it necesary to be away from my husband and my kids for so long? What are we gaining with me being here? You have to step back and take a good look at what else is going on. Look for the good in any and all situations. It makes life easier.

So here is what I am seeing as my silver lining...

  • My husband has to take care of all 9 kids by himself, run the household, learn how to budget the money, do the monthly grocery shoping and everything else that I do. I have received many phone calls and texts that basically say how do I do it all, and keep all the numbers of everything (prices for each thing I buy, amount, where its located, what stores have what items cheaper, how long everything should last, who likes what brand of each item, and so on and so forth) and everything else in my head. He has begun to appreciate me and sees that while he used to think that I didnt do much at home, he now sees that I did do alot. I kept the household running pretty smooth, and made it look effortless, or at least semi effortless, LOL. He also sees how not so easy it is to deal with 9 children talking to you - or to eachother - for that matter all at once, while asking for dinner, and everything else. When they arent talking to you, you can block them out (like when I was there, and they were talking to me, even though they were at a low roar, he was able to block them out. Not anymore)
  • My husband sees how much I mean to him. Let me come clean about something. This past year, him and I had a lot of problems. There were a few times when I thought to myself, Im done. Thats it. But then things would be better for a couple of days, and I would get my hopes up, and then we would have a blow up again. When I came up here in January to do my taxes, I came with the intention of using the time away from him to try to decide what exactly it is that I wanted to do in regards to our relationship. Did I want to give it up, or stick around. *silver lining of the accident* I realized that I want to stick around. My marriage to this man is that important to me that I will continue to fight for it. We are working through alot of our problems, and thanks to the accident, he understands what he has to do to help me work through my problems with us.
  • My children - I see how strong they are. I see how much of a good job I have done so far with them. While they do not like the fact that I am here alone, they understand it. They know that it is what is best for our family. They have come together - even the little ones - and are working together, and leaning on eachother, and comforting one another when they need me, and cant get in touch with me.
  • This seperation gives me time to work on myself. Here lately I have lost who I am. I have been mom, and wife, but havent been Jennifer. I give myself to everyone else and do not do anything for me. I take care of everyone else, but not myself. Hence why my health is going to pot. So I am taking this time to do what *I* want to do for myself. I now paint my toenails, I take time to read books (although I need to start going to the library instead of the book section at Walmart - its cheaper), I colored my hair, I have the urge to actually go somewhere and get an actual styled cut done to it. if you know me, thats HUGE. Because my hair style is usually ponytail. Well it still is, but I want an actual style as well. I even bought make up. Who knew, I have a secret girly girl tucked away somewhere.
  • In me working on who I am, I am becoming a stronger person. In so many ways I am a strong person. At least thats what Im told. When people hear about things that I have had to deal with, and there are many things that are not posted on here, and they always tell me that I am strong. I dont see it. Honestly, I see what I do as just that, something that I do. Its what has to be done in the moment, so its done. No big deal. But back to me becoming a stronger person. I have alot of things that I keep buried and dont deal with from way back when, and it affects me now. And now I am dealing with them.
  • I see things much more clear now that I am away from the situation. I can see how I contributed to many of my problems. I mean I am not so naieve to think that I had no part in my problems, but being able to step back, and also seeing how other people interact with eachother, I can see myself and things that I have done to cause many of the problems. And I can see my reasons for acting/reacting the way that I do, and see how it has everything to do with things that I havent dealt with.

There are so many more silver linings, but those are some of the first ones that come to mind. Are you having a hard time right now? Take a look around, take a step back and look at the situation from a distance. What are your silver linings?

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Additions...

To the house that is, not to the family, LOL. I took care of that after Ari, remember? (speaking of Ari, last week she started walking on her own - real steps. Before that she prefered to push the little plastic coffee table because she could literally run after the bigger kids, and almost keep up. Where as her half inch steps she was taking wasnt helping her at all. But I have been told that she is now walking everywhere. I love it, but its sad too, because she is the baby, the last one, and I am missing her milestones. But its ok)

Anyways, last year we started to add on to the house. Before we did anything, when you walked into the house, you walked into a combination living room/dining room. The only problem is that because we are such a big family, we need a big table. Which means we need space for a big table, and in our living room, there just inst enough room for a table that can seat 12, and sofas for all of us too. So we came up with the plan to enclose the front porch and semi knock out the front wall to make the front porch the licing room, then the now living room would become the dining room. After much discussion, we decided to not just eclose the porch, but extend it all the way across the front of the house to make a living room that is BIG enough for ALL of us, and we wouldnt feel packed on top of eachother. And there would be space for an 'office' for me. Which would consist of a desk and some storage of some sort, LOL.

I posted some pictures in January of what we had started, and it sat like that for a while. Then in early March, I decided that I wanted my living room done - completed - by my birthday, which was April 25th. So my husband went to work, with the promise that it would be done by my birthday.

Place the mouse over the picture for my comments. I didnt get to take more pictures as they did more work, but Miss Patty came for dinner on my birthday and she can vouch for the fact that it was not done, LOL. I knew it wouldnt be, but I held out some hope that maybe I would be suprised.

The walls are basically done, although they need to have the two different cement coats on them, and the two windows need actual windows put in them. The half wall needs to be knocked down, and the half of the addition with no floor needs the floor to be done. Other than that its pretty much done. Oh wait - the roof. Thats the hold up. We cant agree on how/what to do with the roof. I just want him to put one on that goes with the rest of the house. Lale however has this idea about putting a small porch on top of the addition part of the living room, with a wooden floor and railing. Um, I can't see it. What I am seeing in my head when he describes it looks stupid. But I dont tell him that because 1) it isnt nice, and my mom and grandmother always told me if I dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all (which is something I really need to work on I think) and 2) sometimes its just the whole lost in translation thing, and maybe it will look ok. So I just say ok honey, do what you think would look good, and just leave the paint color choosing, and decorating and everything else to me. The promise was made that it would be COMPLETE before I got back, but well, I somehow dont think it will be done. A couple of days before I left he started two sinks. One in each bathroom. We have regular sinks on the wall, but because we have little kids, they pull on the sinks while washing their hands, etc. etc. and end up pulling the sinks off the wall, breaking the sinks, and doing all sorts of things to the poor sinks. So we took them off the way, and he has made a cement/block mini pila style sink in each bathroom. When I left neither one was finished either. From what I have heard he finished one of them, and it has been halfway tiled. But I dont have actual proof of that, LOL.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

CLARO Que Si? CLARO que NO!!

This is a long post, and I have left out a bunch of the story in effort to keep it semi short. Ha. short.

I know that I have mentioned, ok complained, about being out of touch with the world in the part of Honduras where we live. There is no TV, no cable, no land line telephones, no cell phone signals, nothing. And while its nice to not have to worry about whats on TV, getting hooked on a show, etc. etc. its also nice to have a choice. Because let me tell you, it doesnt matter if you have 4 or 400 or more than 400 DVD's, they get old. Quick. Trust me, I speak from experience.

So last year I was driving around Tocoa, and was so excited to see a SKY cable office, that I pulled right in. I got out, talked to the guy and picked up some paperwork. I so wanted to sign up then and there, but the price was high. $75ish/month plus either buying the dish and boxes at a almost $600, or renting them each month. So I went home talked to Lale, and said while I was in the US in January I would see if I couldn't figure out how to make it work.

I was talking to Patty, and she told me about Claro's satelite, and that they had signed up for it. The price was half that of SKY, and they had the basic set up of channels that we wanted, so I decided that when I got back to Honduras I would check into it.

So after I got back to Honduras, got everything straightened out with the kids - uniforms bought, got them re-enrolled in school etc. etc. I took a day and went to the Claro office. That is when the fun began. The first trip to the office was in February. February 12th to be exact. I went in and there were two people in the office. A lady, and a guy. I got to deal with the lady. So I explained to her what I wanted, made sure that if for some reason there was no signal where we live, I would not be held accountable for a contract/payment for two years (I mean we are in Honduras after all) we started the paperwork. Now this woman wasn't pleasant, but I didnt say anything. Sometimes people have a bad day. When it came time for me to show my ID, I pulled out my passport and thats when she said that I needed to put it in someones elses name. I understood, since I dont have my residency papers yet, it was no biggie. So we stopped the paperwork, and I left. I went home and talked to Lale, and explained it all to him. So the next Wednesday, February 20th he went back with me and we signed up. However, this woman was still in her pissy mood, and started to get an attitude with me. Then she got to deal with Lale. Who also got in his pissy mood. I just sat back and shut up. I couldnt believe this woman, and everything that she was saying and doing. Not so much what, but how. This is a person who shouldn't be in customer service. At all.

Anyways, we finally got everything taken care of, and now all we had to do was wait for the installation. So we waited. And waited. Finally on Wednesday March 31st, Claro came. The installed the dish, the box and everything, got the tv on and I realized that we just have the basic channels. And we had originally signed up for the Total Package. Which comes with all of the channels. I mentioned it to the guy and he said we would hve to either call or go to the office in Tocoa, but we would have to wait until Tuesday since it is Semana Santa. (Holy Week). Ok, no biggie. So come Tuesday, I went down to the office and walked in and told the lady what was going on. In her most uppitiest voice she proceeded to tell me that she can't help me. I would have to call the customer service number. Ok, can you give it to me please. *SIGH* 2.....5, um, what? 2......5. Ok, mam, you need to really slow down just a bit while saying the numbers. *SIGH* 2054545. Ok, thank you.

So out to the car I go, sit down and call the customer service line. I get a lady on the hone and explain what is going on. Except she can't help me. Why? Because its in my husbands name. And even though I have all of his information to verify that I am part of the account, no dice. Plus she said, usually they dont fix this stuff on the phone, they do it in the office. Ugh.

I go home, talk to Lale, who luckily wasn't up the mountain that day. He agrees to go down the mountain with me to pick up the kids to get this worked out. So we are on our way back to Tocoa and he calls. He speaks to the same lady, tells her that I called, that I am allowed to speak for him about the account blah blah blah, then she says well the computers are down. Can you call back at x time. Geesh. Ok, so now its later in the day, and we make the phone call. They are asking him the security questions, he in turn is asking me what the answers are to the security questions, then repeating them back to the new person on the phone. (see CLARO, it would have been much simpler just to talk to me.) Ok, all is in order, we will get that fixed for you today and they hung up.

We go home, and YAY we have more channels. BOO, not all of them though. We have gone from the basic channels to the avanced package. But still no HBO or anything else. So the next day, I call back again, and get the original lady that we were speaking with. So I can't pretend to be my husband. She knows I am allowed to speak on his behalf, but wont do any changes. She sees where we were upgraded to the advanced and knows we want the total package. BUT SHE MUST SPEAK WITH HIM. I explained to her that where we live there is no cell phone signal, blah blah blah, that he works up the mountain, leaving at 4AM and sometimes not getting back home until after 5PM and she said well when he comes home for lunch why dont you come down the mountain and call. AARRGG. 20 minutes and all of my cell phone minutes trying to explain to his woman why it is impossible to get in touch with my husband on most days. We finally ended the call with her saying she will call him on his cell when she finds out whats going on. Um yeah, ok. good luck with that. Lale was going to go to Claro that weekend and try to see if he couldnt figure it out, but because I got into a car accident on that Friday, the car was unusable for a little over a week. So finally come the 19th, Lale and I go back to the office. I walk in, the lady says to me, What do you want, and I said, I want to deal with him, pointing to the other guy. He asked what was up, I explained the issue, he walks over to the computer, types in something, and says ok. You are all set. It will be there within 24 hours.

He then reminds me that we have to pay the cable bill for a year, which is no problem. Except they dont want to take my money. The first day I went to the office after installation, I tried to pay. Nope, no dice. You need a bill, and the computer hasn't generated one yet. Two other times I tried to pay, and same thing. So as soon as he said something Lale and I went over to where you pay the bill, and nope, no dice. No bill has been generated yet. Ok, whatever.

Now, here I am in the US, and Lale goes by to see if the bill has been generated yet, so that he can pay it. And they told him he had to pay it by May 18th. So he goes in, and tries to pay it. He is told he can't pay until a bill is generated. Except that the bill wont be generated until he pays. Umm, ok. So what is he supposed to do? Well just pay L9000 they told him, and it will all work out.

Thank GOD he called me, because 8 months * 729L/month does not come to L9000. Plus they were charging an installation fee AND the first months bill. We have a paper that says installation fee free, and first month free. So the next day he went back to pay it, (only what we owe) and to show them the paper. Well according to the lovely lady, that paper was for a special from 2009. Except the paper doesnt say to end x date, or only good till... AND they are still handing it out as of today. So he pitched a fit, and fought with the woman and they took off the installation fee and one months fee, the bill is paid through this year and all is good.

Except now they took away his HBO and other channels and he is back to the basic package. He called me today to tell me that. All I said was, I dont know what to tell you hun, you figure it out.

Ugh, I wish I could have afforded Sky.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tamale Time

My mother in law came here to America the same day I did. Not with me, but thats a different story altogether. Anyways, while we were both still in Honduras, I had made a promise to her that once we were both here, I would make her some tamales, because I refuse to make them in Honduras. Why do I refuse? Well to be honest, its because I am lazy, LOL. Not really lazy, but tamales are a bunch of work, here in America. In Honduras the work load becomes even bigger, and really there isnt time with everything else that is going on in a normal day for me to make tamales.
So this past weekend I made two tamales for my mother in law. One was a homemade pork tamale, and one was a recipe from Emeril. A Raisin and Spice Tamale.

I'm not going to post anything on the Raisin and Spice tamale because you can click on the recipe and see how its made, and because I didn't think to take pictures or anything else while I made them. But I did sortof take pictures while making the pork tamales.

To start out with, I make th meat for the tamales the night before. Just so that in the morning all I have to do is cook the masa, then assemble the tamales. Sofor the meat, I bought a big pork picnic something or other that had a little bone in it, but not that big of a deal. I cut the meat down into small peices, rinsed and drid the meat real well, and seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and some goya seasoning - the kind in the orange envelope.

In a big pot, I put some oil in to heat up, added some onion, green pepper and cilantro cut up and once the onion was sort of translucent, I threw in the meat. After letting the meat cook a little bit, I then added four cans of hunts tomato sauce - the basil, oregeno something kind, a big can of tomato sauce and some tomato paste. After letting it cook for a bit more, I tasted it then just added seasoning as needed. (My mother in law, who came the next day while I was assembling the tamales tasted the meat and told me it needed more salt. But once everything was done and put together and cooked, there was enough salt in the tamale.) I then put the lid on the meat and set it aside until the next morning.


The next morning, I got up and had to drive to four different stores to get some banana leaves because in my original shopping trip there were no banana leaves to be found.

So anyway, I got the banana leaves and headed home to get cookig. My original plan was to have the tamales started by 8AM. Not sarted cooking, but started assembling them. However it was almost 10AM befor I was able to get started. Isnt that the story of my life???

So here it is 10AM and I am just starting to make the masa for the tamales. To make the tamale masa you need water, maseca, shortening, cilantro, goa seasoning in the orange envelope, salt and whatever other seasoning you may want to add. First mix up the masa and water until it is about the consistency of slightly thick pancake batter. In a big pot (big enough for all your masa, and then some) scoop out a bunch of shortening. Maybe a cup or so? I am guessing here because I dont measure, its all done by sight. So let the shortening melt some and add in the masa batter. Mix it all up real good and add in the cilantro - which should be just the leaves, and cut up in a rough chop - salt, and seasonings. The masa should be slightly on the salty side. Mix it all up and keep stirring it over medium heat or so until it thickens up. It should be like a thick batter when it is done. Again, sorry I can't be more help as its all done by sight and feel for me. And alot of guessing is involved in my cooking. As in... Um, I guess this much goes in here, I guess this might taste good, I guess I can substitute this for that. LOL. Once the masa has thickened now comes the fun part.


Oh wait, no it doesn't. First you have to prep te banana leaves. Ok, these leaves come frozen, and they saw to thaw them out in the fridge overnight. Yeah, Im not that organized. Its called cut across the top of the package, fill it with warm water, and 5 minutes later you have ready banana leaves. Much easier. So I open up the package of banana leaves and cut them to the right size. Whats the right size you say, well for me, its whatever size the end up being is the right size, LOL. I would say about 8 inches wide or so. Maybe more, maybe less. Who knows. Again, its all about sight, feel and guessing when you are cooking with me.


While you are at it, pull off a bunch of foil strips as well. I start with 20 strips of foil at a time. They are about 18" long or so.


Ok, now comes the fun part. I like to have everything set up in front of me in an assembly line so that it makes life 10000 times easier. I will set up a bowl of mixed veggies (frozen peas, corn and carrots), a bowl of sliced potatoes - think mini french fries when you are cutting them, a bowl of garbanzo beans, and a bowl of rice - already cooked.

When you cook the rice, make sure you are careful when you check it so that you dont end up with a steam burn like I did.

Unfortunately, that wasnt the only injury of the day. When I made the raisin tamales, I dropped the sugar on my toe. That hurt.

but at least now my toe matches my toenails, LOL. And here around these parts, if Im cooking, the day isnt complete without at least one injury.

Ok, back to assembling the tamales. So I have all the bowls lined up about an arms length away from me, and in front of it I lay down the aluminum foil, long ways. Or with the short end facing me, foing long ways to the back, away from me.


On the foil, I place the peice of banana leaf, and then add a scoop of the maseca batter. On top of that I add a bit more than a pinch of mixed veggies.


Then add some potatoes, some garbanzo beans and some rice.




I then add a scoop of meat and make sure that there is a bunch of juice in it too. I hate dry tamales.


See how the foil is on these picture, thats how I was trying to explain it earlier.

Now comes my favorite part. Wrapping them up. I know, Im a dork. What can I say?

When I first made tamales, I had a hard time wrapping them so that they were tight. Im gonna show you some pictures, and try to explain it as well. Maybe between the two I can get my point across.

Take the side of the foil closest to you and fold it over the tamale so that the edge hits about 2/3'ds of the way up. With your hand press (iron like) the masa into the tamale shape from the edge of the foil down, and from the sides in. Make sure that you dont have masa coming out the sides.


Pressing down on the sides, flip/roll the tamale over and over until it is all rolled up. You have to keep pressing on the sides to keep the tamale tight in the foil.


Then tuck under the sides.


After that, stick them in a pot big enough to hold them, add some water, add the lid and put it on to boil/steam. Once I get the pot filled up with the tamales, I add water to about halfway up, that *usually* is enough to make it through until they are done. But you have to keep checking it to make sure that the water doesnt all evaporate.

Here they are cooking.

the black pot has the pork tamales

the silver pot the raisin tamales

facial anyone??

the raisin tamales

As they cook, they will plump up some. It usually takes about 2.5 hours or so of steam coming out of the pots for them to be ready. Then they have to sit and cool a bit to firm up.

Here is the final product on my plate. I didn't let them cool long enough, so they fell apart a bit. But still edible.


And the raisin one - on a dirty plate, as I just put it on the same plate as I ate the other ones on. No dessert plate for me.


If you follow Emerils instructions, your raisin tamales wont look like this. This was one of the last ones where I had a bunch of raisins left over, so I just mixed it into the batter. There were other times that I have made them that way too, just mixing the raisins in the batter so then all I had to do was scoop out the masa and wrap it up.

Buck the rules baby, thats what cooking is all about, LOL

Oh yeah, and the best part about it - I now have a weekly order for tamales. I took them to work to share, and everyone kept saying how good they were, almost as good as their moms, and when would I make more so that they could buy them. What a great compliment.

Snap Into A Slim Jim


I don't know if I posted pics of Ari here lately or not, so I thought I would make a post about her.



Before I went back in January, I sent two HUGE boxes down. And these boxes were filled with mostly food products that I don't buy in Honduras. Either because they are to expensive, or because I can't fid them. One of the things that I sent down was a bunch of slim jims for everyone.


Everyone loved the Slim Jims, except for Levi. He took a bite and said "No Mommy, carne pica. yuck." And threw it to the dogs. Ari, however was the one who loved them the most. I didn't want to give her one because of the fact that they are somewhat spicy. Somehow she got ahold of one and ate it. Then yelled for more. I forgot that she is her fathers daughter, and like the rest of the other ones, loves anything spicy.







I personally think she is much cuter than Macho Man Randy Savage, dont you?

Swolen Hands

This is what sucks about having arthritis. There are times when my hands (and neck, and wrists, and shoulders, and foot, and... well you get the idea) are just fine, but then there are times that my medicine doesnt seem to do much, which in turn means that I can not do much either.

Ugh, it sucks getting old. And I am only 34. I dont know if I want to get much older. These pictures were taken one day over a 2 hour period. As you can see they started out swollen, but not to bad. That was in the morning before I left to drop the kids off of school. The last ones were taken at 8AM after I dropped off the little ones at kinder.






When my hands start acting up, I will get an injection a day until it starts to get better. Unfortunately me getting injections means I get lovely bruises as well.


Lovely, I know.

Monday, May 10, 2010

hi ho, hi ho, its off to work I go...

Well, I have landed back in the good ol US of A. I've actually been back 10 days, and am trying to adjust back to this lifestyle. Actually I don't want to adjust, I just want to work and pay what we owe and go home.

I have some blog posts that I am working on, but I need to get to a computer to upload the pictures and stuff. I still haven't figured out how to do it with my cell. I am also working at one job, waiting for a start date at a second, and looking for a 3rd part time job, so blogs have to be squeezed into there as well.

Things are going ok, other than being homesick, and heartsick. Homesick because there is nothing like beong in your own home with your own stuff and your own rules. Heartsick, well thats just cuz I miss my kids and Lale. I am buying my ticket home soon though, so I will have my light at the end of the tunnel. Hurry up December, lol.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Reason Why

These pictures show the reason why...

Why what you ask.

Why I am heading back to the US yet again. Thanks to the lovely driver of the Dole truck, who chose to drive at night with no lights on, we now have a nice sized debt. I so dont want to go, but we have a debt that has to be paid, and no real way to get it paid off. So I am heading back to work for a bit so that we can get it taken care of.

Oh the joys of being responsible, LOL
When I look at these pictures though, I have to give thanks to God for keeping my husband safe and alive.