thanksgiving in the mountains…

november 2017

thanksgiving with some of the olson’s in northern arizona-outside of young, az- it was such a lovely time.  13 hour drive, no exact address with written directions, because jarom thinks gps always will get you there, even if you don’t have wifi…at midnight, and lots of dirt roads through the trees-can’t believe we ever found the cabin!  but we did.  thanks to prayers!  we got to spend a day at the compound before everyone else came.  we really enjoyed pizza, games, pajamas, walks, bb guns, lounging…it was a great time just our little family for a day.

then we had 3 days of hanging with extended family doing the same thing…walks, food, games, more food…it was really a great thanksgiving.  we brought all our gluten free stuff, made our own additions to meals, and it didn’t faze us at all.  it was great!  good memories were made:)

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20th anniversary in europe-

august.  2017

oh how we love to travel.  and oh how i love a deal!  we used alaskaair to use our british avois points, and flew $150 r/t for me and hubby from jfk to london, and venice back to jfk.  $150!  we had found a house swap site too, lovehomeswap, that we signed up for, received points upon sign-up, and stayed our 4 nights in London, and 6 nights in Venice for free!  well, there was a sign up cost, i think it was $450/year.  so for our 10 nights we used lovehomeswap, it cost us $45/night figuring in the yearly fee we paid.  which is pretty awesome.  the three nights in dubrovnik we used airbnb and found an awesome place!  the rental car we got a deal on, but decided to upgrade to an automatic, because driving in london was overwhelming enough being on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road.  i couldn’t deal with the thought of shifting left-handed too.

we spent five days in london, 3 days in croatia, and 6 days in venice…which by the way, you only need 2 days in venice.  but since my health isn’t great, it was nice just lounging together eating junk food, watching movies, and having absolutely nothing to do.  it was dreamy!

nottinghill and london proper…and the famous blue door from the movie “nottinghill.”



stonehenge & bath…

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stratford-upon-avon(shakespeare’s home town) & oxford university…




dubrovnik…was a desert!  don’t let the filters fool you.  we were hoping to drive four hours to the falls, but croatia’s country has bosnia cutting into croatia for coast access, and getting through security in and out of bosnia we were told can be up to 6 hours of waiting at each border.  so we just hung in dubrovnik for 3 days…which was ok.  it’s basically desert.  we got off the boat too soon on an island, and had to wait 1 1/2 hours to catch the next boat to continue to the fortressed city 5 minutes away.  we swam and ate food and hung out and really just didn’t do much.  and my sister kelly caught up with us for the three days which was a lot of fun.  but i wouldn’t go back to dubrovnik.  nothing there, at least for us.  there are other places i would visit in croatia though, especially the hanging falls.



venice…the city you only need 2 days in, not 6.  but nevertheless, we enjoyed the down time!



before coming home…

may/june 2017

we haven’t gotten to spend time with my brother and his family in years.  fortunately, we hadn’t booked our flight home from florida and figured we might as well spend a few days there at the end of our trip and hang out with family.  so much fun.  so much food.  and was so great catching up and seeing the cousins hanging out and having a great time together.  watching the rocket launch and then seeing it come back was pretty awesome, along with looking for large tortoises at night who were coming up on the beach as a test run to lay their eggs the following week.  it was a perfect ending to our trip.

the rest of dominican…

end of may.  2017

between the sketch wifi in the apartment, beach and lobby, i gave up the daily journal of activities we did.  overall, teaching at the local school was really hard, but a great experience.  getting in with the people of guatemala through our church was such a great experience.  having family home evening, going to church, and hearing the testimonies of these great pioneers was so humbling.  the beaches were stunning.  being able to use all the resort had to offer, since we were in the apartments, was phenomenal.  we are so grateful for the experience, and hope our children always remember these experiences.


our day date…and cecelia-

may 12.  2017

we all woke up in pain.  a couple of the girls have blisters even…nuts.  they didn’t want to move, and we didn’t want them in the sun at all, so they said they just wanted to lay in bed and watch movies in the air conditioning.  so jarom and i thought we would spend some time together and go do a hike at the national park nearby.  it was a super easy hike, and half way through, there is a ceynote where people swim and divers have dove over 300 times.  there is a natural underwater waterway.  it was pretty cool, and creepy.  we just had our phone flashlights, and it was dark.  i could only imagine a freaky lizard creepy thing popping up out of the dark waters and eating us in one fell swoop.  jarom put his feet in, and i was out of there quickly.  one of us had to survive.  we hiked back out and finished the hike.  a kind man near the parking lot, where his house was chatted with us before our hike and after, he was very nice.  we played with his one month old dog, and headed out.

we headed to la romana, grabbed some groceries and a small pan so we can bake some brownies in our toaster oven and headed home.  it’s so great not having to worry about all the things of life, and just enjoy each other, play and have fun.  it’s been a tough year, and we are so grateful to be together down here.

on our way home, we saw a woman walking on the highway, and i asked jarom if it was ok if we picked her up, i didn’t think she’d kill us-she looked harmless:)  so we pulled over, backed up, and she ran and hopped in, thanking us.  we had a fun semi spanish-semi english chat, talked about each others’ kids, and she said she was walking to bayahibe looking for work, her current job was ending soon.  she was probably 10 miles away still, and she was just happy to be looking for work.  these people are amazing.  i guarantee you most people in america would not walk 20 miles from one village to another looking for work, i don’t know if i would.  she said she normally caught the bus, so i’m not sure what happened and why she was walking.  all i know, it was fun getting to chat with cecelia and how our lives came together for 10 minutes.  i love random things like this.

ps-we grocery shop and make most of our meals-rarely eating out.  we have found rice to be a great filler and super cheap…it’s in a lot of our meals:)  eggs, beans and rice in a tortilla for breakfast-and it fills everybody up!  having three teenage girls is expensive in the food department!


saona island…

may 11.  2016

we met mario out at the beach at 9:30, and his friend with the boat.  we were ready for our boat ride to soano island-our lunch packed-and we were so excited!  we were able to get a deal through mario’s friend who also works at the resort and owns a boat.  he charged us $250 for the day, instead of the regular tourist rate of $86/per person x 6 in our family.  so we saved over half:)  i love doing things for a good deal!

our first stop was the ocean that is like a swimming pool for almost as far as you can see-it’s absolutely amazing.  and the water is so clear, and green.  there were starfish scattered about, we found 5-it was like our own private pool.  the tourist party boats all gather in the same places, so once it got a bit crowded, we headed to the next place.  it was a gorgeous beach area with absolutely amazing beaches.  we spent most of the day there, and about 3:00, we headed back to leave the crowds, stopped by the swimming pool ocean area again, and then headed home.  supposedly some of pirates of the caribbean was filmed on this island:)

we ended up getting pretty burnt, even after applying sunscreen a couple times. we all were feeling it quite a bit.  but we were so grateful to have not paid for the tourist price and be on those huge group boat tours…they are so annoying!  it was so great having our own boat to leave and do what we wanted-we were very grateful.

jarom drove mario to bayahibe and dropped him off at the bus stop, headed back, and at 4:30, he and alex headed back to bayahibe to get our favorite empanadas.  they are just amazing!  and the lady is actually a little nicer to us each time we go.  the first time she wouldn’t even look up at us, and after a few minutes, i walked away.  i wasn’t going to be ignored if i’m paying for something.  the next day she looked up and we placed our order-for a total of 11…she was probably glad she was nice to us i hope.

we watched movies and put on lots of aloe with lidocaine.  it was a great and memorable day.


day 2 of school…we love it…

may 10.  2017

it was such a beautiful day-the sun and clouds made for a perfect day for swimming.  jarom took the girls out on the catamaran, but there wasn’t much wind near the dock, so he hopped down and swam it in-we were laughing as well as others on the dock:)  jarom was also flying his drone and a couple guys came over to talk to him-and they were russian-which has been a lot of fun for jarom since he served his mission in St. Petersburg, Russia for two years.  who knew he would be speaking so much russian in the dominican republic!  they are so many tourists from russia here.  we swam, snorkeled, and laid out-snorkeling here is amazing-schools of fish will just swim in front of you or by you.  it’s like having your own aquarium to swim in-it’s completely fascinating!

we got ready and gathered our supplies that we bought for school, and headed to the lobby for a bit where there is wifi, and finished writing up some flashcards to play games and teach the kids with. we finished up and then drove the 10 minutes to bayahibe to the school.  on monday, mario had told the policeman who works in the parking lot where we park that we will be teaching at the school if he could waive the fee, and the policemen agreed-so that was great.  so we parked, and got to our first classroom. they are probably 6 or 7 years old.  they saw us, and ran out calling us their amigos and hugging us…like a huge group hug, it was so awesome!  you just love these kids instantly.  time flew today, in each class, i think since we were able to plan and have some supplies this time.  we still need to figure out more and better ways to teach i think.  we hope they are getting something out of this!  we certainly are, if not a love for the people of this island.

after we finished teaching, we drove the two minutes to the main part of bayahibe, parked, and ordered some empanadas-which were amazing, and only 50 pesos each…we ordered 11!  we were so hungry, but had dinner for $10.50 for 6 people.

alex ended up staying home today not feeling well, so we got back to the apartment, got her, and we all headed out to the beach and pier to watch the sunset and let the kids play in the water a little more.  we enjoyed the peaceful and tranquil views of the sun setting over the gorgeous green water.

i only wish there was a way i was more business minded to start a business or to get investors, so that i could have a business down here and employ dominicans and help more people down here.  one begins to wish these kids to have a great future, a safe future, a happy future.  i don’t know what the probability is here for them to continue in their education, get good jobs, and be able to provide for themselves or for a family, but i know it isn’t as good as the u.s.  they are a kind people. i love it here.