Thursday, 27 September 2007

Another year gone by...

And what a year it's been.

Tomorrow being my birthday (number 32 for those of you who are keeping track), I am prone to nostalgic thoughts. This year has seen some serious ups and downs.

Work is the same as always, great students, nightmare co-workers, and the occassional smattering of amazing friendships that manage to endure despite the constant stress of mismanagement. As the last year of my contract comes to a close I am stunned to find the same people making the same flubs and fuck-ups as always and still the administration seems to turn a blind eye, laugh complacently and shrug their shoulders as if they were harmless and not the detriment to the school that they really are. It is, as my husband points out, one thing to be useless, but it quite another to be a liability...when the latter is the case, someone has to take measures.

Misinformation. Poor information filtering. Communication breakdowns. E-mail usage abuse. These should not be common attributes of leaders. And yet they stay, snuggly in their offices, over spending and under performing, and driving everyone around them as batshit crazy as they are.

On happier news, my child has become a real live boy. He is a star. He is currently dead into make believe and he does an excellent impression of the following: Cats (cooool cat, that is), Tyrannusaurus Rex (Raaaahr....I'm a Sauuuurr), Doggies (ruff ruff) and a cowboy (look out if you ever need to look for something on the floor, you might as well strap on a harness and Saddle...YeeHAH!). He is also an excellent artist, but he's more into body art than painting paper:

In sadder news, my father in law is getting sicker and sicker. The cancer is spreading and my husband has never been so sad. I wish I could whisk him away to Scotland right now and we could be there happily forever, but alas, he feels he has to wait until our contracts are done and we have tied up our loose ends here. I think his heart will heal when he sees his dad. So at the end of this year it's off to Scotland, for a while. I am looking forward to seeing his family and watch Benjmain get to know his cousins, but I'd be a liar if I didn't admit I am dead nervous to mesh my lifestyle with my inlaws...we are so so different.

So tomorrow I turn 32. Half-way to 64, will you still need me? Will you still feed me?

Friday, 17 August 2007

Another much belated update

Well I'm back into the second term of school and boy is it slow going. All I want to do is sleep in and drink hot cocoa until Spring is back. I hate the grey days of winter, especially after three weeks in the sunny blue domed skies of the north.

For my holidays my husband and I went to Tucumàn, Salta and Jujuy. We saw some of the most amazing sights I have ever laid eyes on and we had quite the adventure.

To start with, we hit the road early Friday morning and arrived in our first Destination of Raphael with nary a speedbump in our way, which only deserves a mention as it was the last day of our journey that such could be said for our wee car.

Upon our late evening arrival to Tucumàn's Capital city we noticed out water was leaking (again) and that the oil temp was slowly creep creep creeping its way into the danger zone. By the time we reached the street where our hotel would be the light was on and Jamie was in full on panic mode. I literally had to command him to pull the car over onto a sidewalk driveway and put on his caution lights...I mean what? Do we actually have to be seeping black smoke from the engine to warrant an emergency situation pull-over? I may not drive but I know when enough is enough.

The next day we got ACA (the argie version of AAA) to tow us to the slowest Mechanics in the world. They were brothers, Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-my-thumbs, and two of the largest men I have ever laid eyes on and no wonder. They work next door to their home and have their sandwhich makin' mom stopping their work every three hours like clockwork to provide them with much needed sustanance. Did I mention these men are middle-aged? Did I mention the frequent food breaks did nothing to speed up their progress during the rare moments they were actually looking at the car? Three days later in Tucumàn our engine was in pieces and they'd had all their friends over to take a stab at re-assembling the damn thing in between the courses of milanesas and locro of course. When we finally managed to get our car off the floor and on the road we daren't ask questions about the black exhaust coming from behind us, the suddenly low-milage we got on our petrol and the odd way the gauge seemed to bounce around as we drove over hills. We just counted ourselves lucky to get far away from those nutters before they decided to go back in for another look.

We finally got out of Tucumàn which actually, FWIW, is an amazingly beautiful city if you can get to the outskirts...the city itself is sort of like an abandoned world's fair town. You can tell it had its glory days once upon a time, but now it looks more like a run-down Detroit. The hills around though are absolutely stunning!

Ben rides his first horse

Incan ruins outside of Tucumàn

When we arrived in Salta we were glad to have left Tucumàn but still worried for the car which was spewing gasoline now upon opening the tank, and still awfully black looking. We were anxious to get the car up to Jujuy, so the next day we drove up scenic route 9 to Jujuy's capital city. A very windy road and a very dodgey car...but we made it alive with our safety monitor Benjamin shouting from the back seat "Be careful, Daddy! Be Careful!" as he looked out his wondow and saw nothing but sheer cliff and jungle vines.

But safe and sound we did arrive and that is where our car died a sudden sad death...luckily ACA to the rescue a very speedy mechanic saved the day, and our car. Three Cheers for the guy! He was good. Very good.

With a healthy car and fresh drive for scenery we were on our way to Humahuaca, Las Salinas Grandes and Cafayate. It was a goregous drive around the Andes, and I can only post pictures to allow them to speak for themselves, as my words just wouldn't do them justice.

Hills of Humahuaca

A Salta Horse

The tower of Humahuaca

Las Salinas Grandes

Ben tries to steal a villager's goat.

The Devil's Throat

Maimara's cemetary

Purmamarca's market
Unfortunately we had to cut our journey short a bit as we were robbed. Some little shits broke into Ben's room and made off with some coins, some jewelry and two laptops (aka my LIFE's work...GONE!) Bastards. Luckily Jamie had his on only half our life is gone...weep for me. I still do.

Our house was a bit beaten up but nothing like they do back home.

I will edit this later for photo additions and tell you all soon about the farce of a sham of a mockery of a police investigation our "crime scene" became. CSI? I don't think their detectives are quite that savvy yet. Oh well.

Until then.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

First haircut

Benjamin got his first haircut last night...ever cute, I have to tell you. He was such a trooper and giggled through the whole thing. I cried as I tucked his curls into his baby book.

He looks like a grown boy.

I feel so blue, yet proud:

Friday, 18 May 2007

Why my son is cuter than yours.

First of all I offer up photographic evidence.

I don't know how to put pictures in the text of this, so you will have to click on the link for this photo album:

I told you. Did you see that one of him in the yellow raincoat?

Okay, to prove that my infatuation runs deeper than looks and I am not a shallow, beastly stage-mom, I provide you with evidence of his superior two year old wit and charm.

On the evening of Sunday May 13th, while I was serenading my son in the kitchen with my rendition of I'll Be There, he pushed his chair over to where I was, climbed atop, and grabbed my face in what I assumed would be an appreciative kiss, but rather put his nose to mine and loudly SHUSHED me...with a "BASTA mommy!" as he pointed to the radio, as if to say...I love you lady, but you ain't no Mariah Carey!

On the Morning of Tuesday May 15th the tiny tot I call the fruit of my loins was sleeping soundly at 10 if that was not good enough to win him the title of Son of the Year, he did this: Upon being woken up by his father who soon had to leave for work, he first attempted to ignore his father's nudging by rolling to the other side of the bed, when this did not work he grabbed his face and said to him... "Go. GO!" and pointed to the door and rolled over.

He is SO bossy!

He makes his own jokes in the car and laughs at them...granted I do not know what the punchline IS, but if you heard that giggle, you'd know it was DAMN funny.

Final evidence that he is the cutest boy in the world:

  • Everyday he brings home a flower for me from his walk home from Pre-school.
  • He dances to everything that has a beat, even the ballet channel.
  • He shares his cookies with me, and I don't even have to steal them.
  • He blows me kisses when he is ready to say goodnight.
  • He tells himself bedtime stories.
  • He sings to himself in the morning while having his breakfast.
  • He gives sneak attack bear hugs by hiding in his toy basket next to the couch and springing up on you when you are watching TV.
  • He talks to his very important imaginary Movie agent on his imaginary cellphone that could sometimes be mistaken for his HAND.
  • He eats broccoli like it's candy. (okay that one just proves he's weird, but I think it's awesome!)

Top that!

:-P pthbpthbpthbpthb

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

And then God sent down a plague of mosquitoes upon the people

I don't know what I have done to deserve this.

I am covered in mosquito bites and they keep on swarming. Everytime they seem ready to die off, there is a horribly rainy day and another three days of heat and sun that brings them all back, these mutant giant blood sucking vampires from hell. I swear, if God is trying to send us a message, I wish he'd be more direct. This plague crap is just unfair to the rest of us who didn't enslave a people, exploit the poor, kill enmasse, or invent aerosol cooking spray flavored like "butter". What did *I* do?

My son went outside yesterday for a mere three minutes and within that tiny moment of freedom acquired five fresh egg-sized lumps on his head...looks like he got in a fist fight with an anvil. He is happy as a lark mind you, but lumpy, and oh so itchy. Poor little bumpy-lumpy peanut, even three layers of Off and citronella doesn't keep these bugs away. Evil I tell you.

I have never in my life prayed for winter before, and just now I am thinking let the cold and ice begin. For the love of GOD, where is the cold when you need it.

Damn myself for loving Aquanet so much in grade seven; how was I to know the consequences of big hair would lead to a melting Ozone and eventually giant blood consuming insects that would try to eat my baby? Damn you Vidal Sasson and your 80s "wings", look at what you've done to us!

Monday, 16 April 2007

Has anyone seen my brain?

I really need it for Third period.

What a weekend.

I am utterly exhausted. Thursday my good friend told me she and her boyfriend broke it off and she was so sad my long awaited weekend of doing nothing was postponed.

One too many nips from the bottle of Smirnoff later she and I were battling a hangover while watching Benjamin, the two year old love bug of endless energy I call my son. Thank god it was a miserable rainy day and there was nothing to do but watch cartoons and rest. There is nothing quite so horrible as realizing that you have stayed up so long that your hangover will kick in before you've even had a chance to sleep, not mention that your child has awoken for the day in the meantime. That has GOT to take years off one's life.

Then there was a birthday party for a co-worker on Saturday night that lasted until 6am and then some, and to top it off another birthday gala for our two good friends Nat and Greg...lovely get together, if only my stomach lining had had a few more hours to rejunvenate. errrg.

I feel today like I have had a lobotomy and yet I have to face the children nonetheless. It's not fair really. One should be allowed to call in self-mutilated, just once a month.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Day One

A day late and a dollar short as my grandpa used to say. It seems I have joined the blogging world. What better way to relieve my brain of all its useless banter and get down to real life, eh?

This day is a day like any other here in Argentina. The sun is bright and doing it's best to warm the fall day which is crisp and cool and feels like tangible freshness. It makes you want to sit still and inhale the air deep into your lungs until they are full and hold it until you have absorbed every ounce of nutrients and oxygen it has to offer...days like this make you feel generous and kind, especially when they come right on the coat tails of a stretch of rain that has flooded the plains to the North of Buenos Aires so badly that countless people have died and thousands have been evacuated from their homes, which up until last week consisted of little more than brick shacks on the mud flats, and today are merely scattered piles of bricks and tin roofing. The cattle ranchers have been fighting the elements to rescue those animals that managed to escape the ravages of the rising rivers and the sinking deltas that served as their grazing land, and too often discovering they were too late for some. These blue sky days seem well deserved after all that.

Yes, the blue skies of Buenos Aires do provide the soul with a sense of hope and peace. It's intense.

Today started off cold as I headed to the school where I teach and I wondered if I had made the right choice in my clothing. I often wonder this as one never really knows which way the weather will turn. By mid morning the sun had confirmed my choices.

I feel very in control of my students at the moment. Classes run with smooth percision, and homework flows in and out at a manageable pace. It's nice to have that centered balance. Nothing worse than feeling like an utter phony in front of 20+ teenager who can see right through you and who resent you for existing in the first place.

It would be so nice if the rest of school was as easy as the classroom. In the classroom there is a simple equation: Well planned lessons + fun activity + well prepared students = great lessons, feel good vibes, and educated students. Win. Win. Win. The staffroom is not easy to navigate. There is no neat and tidy formula. The staffroom is a minefeild, each co-teacher a potential explosion and you never know when you've stepped on the wrong trigger until the mine has already been detonated and probably taken a piece of your eye along with it. You can't turn back time or rewind to clarify, or undo the damage of a misunderstanding with co-workers as easily as you can with a group of students, who through all their resentment and misplaced anger, ultimately WANT to trust you and believe that you have their best interest at heart. My co-workers are too cynical for all that.

But today was a good day; my students participated, and understood the instructions and they listened and they really discussed the issues at hand. It was inspiring.

Currently I am discussing Lord of the Flies with my yr 9 students and Face with my year seven students. Both novels address the theme of human nature, but to very different degrees. LOTF deals with our inner beastie and the nature of civilization. Face on other hand deals with the nature of society and the power of social institutions to exacerbate the dicrimination it is supposed to be fighting. It also deals with issues of self-confidence and where we find self-worth in our society.

The reaction of my students is fabulous. I feel like a proud mother duck watching her ducklings paddle out of the water, spread their wings and fly for the first time. It's very nice.

Well this is my first blog, ever. so I will try to keep up if people are interested.

Thanks for reading,