Friday, September 30, 2011

Ecuador or Bust

We are headed to Cuenca for Christmas. We found out today and we are very excited. We are going to be there for almost 2 weeks. Now I need to book the flights and find a place to stay. It might be a bit difficult finding something in our price range since Christmas and New Year's Eve are such big holidays.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I spent some time with the goaties this evening listening to them munch munch while the raindrops pattered on the roof. Juliette took Raisin's role as calm comforter tonight. She held her face next to mine while I stroked her chin. Her eyes were half-mast. She is such a beauty.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Today we had 47 children in our room. We made it work, but it wasn't fun. Molly had 53 and she is by herself. After we heard on the news that they were not going to lay off those 300 or so teachers we went into work ready to congratulate Sheila. That was short-lived because she was STILL laid off despite what the media said. Now she has agreed to work as a sub doing the same job making sub pay. Are you frickin kidding me?????

Remember that if you put your turnpike ticket into the self-pay slot and then the machine won't take your washed $20 bill to NOT back up and out of the lane to search for a dollar in change because you will really screw up the process and you will have to get out of the car and go get the turnpike lady and listen to her bitch at you that now she is going to have to get you change and now she is going to have to lift the gate manually so that you can get through and while you are waiting for her to lift the gate manually someone pulls in behind you and lays on the horn 5 times because he thinks you are stupid and are just sitting there taking in the ambiance of the tollbooth.

For future use, there is a "Help" button on the screen. Duh!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Update

Friday we talked at length with our lawyer and he referred us to a very aggressive realtor. Hopefully he can help us get this house sold. We also went to get the kids' passports. We've decided not to visit in December though. The amount of money we would have to spend to get there can now be saved and put into either getting the house sold or the actual move. I am still into considering visiting in the spring.

Friday night Tali and I went to star gaze at the Girl Scout camp while Mark and Finn saw a movie. Saturday we attacked and cleaned out the red shed. We now have a great staging area for our garage sale and a place to put boxes once they are packed.

We have had some interest in the chickens and some people who live down the road visited and looked at the donkeys. I kinda don't think they are interested though. We'll see. Maybe they'll take Scooby.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What will today bring?

Yesterday was much better. We changed our rewards/consequences back to last year. I don't know what we were thinking. If it isn't broke, don't fix it. Then, T threatened a teacher and will probably be removed from the building. Maybe we will actually be able to teach this year.

Today we are heading to see our lawyer. I don't know what he will tell us, but hopefully it will be good news. Then off to the passport processing office to get that ball rolling. Unfortunately the kids don't have school today, so we will have to take them with us.

Tonight Tali and I are going to star-gaze with the Girl Scouts. It will be a late night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another crappy day

I'm sorry, but I think this year is going to be full of them. Found out that the teachers who were hoping to stay in their jobs (because Eric Gordon had said so) were given the notice today to be prepared to be laid off again. Our 4th/5th split teacher is one of them. She is a great teacher and this will be a huge loss to Clark. Not only that, but she has approximately 14 4th graders and 22 5th graders. If her position is not filled those 4th graders will be coming to our room increasing the already full room from 34 to 48. Need I say more. But they are staffing us at 40 to 1, so what does 8 more matter, right? Quality education all the way! The position is now posted as "open", but I predict that the district will hold these open positions over our heads asking us to make more concessions in order to keep these teachers. Our classroom is already unbearable. I can't imagine teaching 48 students. However, it is already being done in Cleveland. Michele had to give up her desk for 4 of her students because there are not enough desks in her room for 57 students. In another Cleveland school any high school students who do not make it to class on time are forced to sit on the floor or stand. Its a disgrace. 159.


I had a bout of anxiety last night and clearly it hasn't gone away this morning since I am up at 4:00. Having the realtor come through and say you have to do this and this and this and this really sucked me under. I don't want to bust my butt to get this house ready to sell. I wish someone would just come in, fall in love with the house and buy it with all the contents attached. But I guess this will be the first step towards really moving forward. Since we moved here not 4 years ago we shouldn't have too much stuff, right? Right. Luckily Mark has a light under his butt and he will be my motivation.

Amy, Dolly, Samurai, Ivy and Juliette have all been spoken for. The donkeys are our greatest worry right now. We are so afraid that we will not find them a good home and they will end up at auction either separated or on their way to a slaughter house. Mark would send them to be with us in Ecuador if he could.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


We spent a great weekend with Joe, Michele and the kids. I thought there was a Cultural Festival in town. So after getting my hair done we headed up there only to find out that its NEXT weekend. Bummer. We were starving so we went to the Mexican restaurant for lunch. Mexican food with a Chinese child and a Guatemalan. That's cultural, right?

When we got home, the boys shot the rifle at targets and the kids endlessly argued about who rides the zip line and when. Boy can they fight like brothers and sisters. Finn was all drama as usual.

We had a great fire and the kids ran around like crazy people, ate popcorn and watched a movie.

Today I got them up on Amy and each one had a nice, little ride around. We relaxed and hung around some more and then the Popes headed home.

Now I am going through paperwork and making sure we have everything taken care of for Friday. We are going to see our lawyer to get everything straight in our heads and get our passport photos taken so we can get those in the mail and on their way.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Worst migraine ever. I couldn't even order the kids food from McDonalds. I know, I know. McDonalds. But I was desperate. Can you say 37 kids crammed into a tiny room with nowhere to walk.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roller Coaster

Is roller coaster one word or two? Today I felt much better about the move. Cathy was accosted by her neighbor, yet one more person who has decided to hate teachers for whatever reason, and she was really needing a hug. Only a teacher, especially an inner-city teacher, can truy understand the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that we now feel towards our job. Those people who love to judge us, on top of Issue 2 have taken away from us the joy of teaching. We no longer look forward to going to work. We dread it. It is just another job now. One we don't like to do. There is no gratification. No sense of nobility or higher cause. There is only routine and a sense of why bother? What we have to give is no longer good enough, and you continue to beat us with that daily. At the end of this we will be left with "teachers" who only stick around for a few years while they finish another degree or look for something else to do. Teaching will no longer exist as we know it now. It will no longer be a calling. A lifelong mission with lifelong teachers who teach because that is what they love. And it sucks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


So here begins a year of gut-wrenching guilt about leaving my family. How do I explain that we would never think to undertake this momentous upheavel of our family were we truly happy here. Sure, we have a beautiful farm and jobs. But at what price? After 16 more years of my job surely the stress will kill me. Many Cleveland teachers die or become cancer-riddled within three years of retirement. I watched Margaret die not three years after her last day. I want a better life. A slower one. With good, healthy food and clean mountain air. Not only for myself, but for my husband and my children. I want to feel the freedom of determining and designing my own life. Here, we are at the mercy of the government officials who tell me that I have to increase my years of teaching from 8 to 16. I thought I was on the downslide towards retirement, but now my time left has doubled. People say to just accept it. I don't think they know me when they say that. I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, an opportunity, an adventure. I pride myself on that which makes me, me! I am not afraid to take this leap. What makes me shake with fear is staying and living this life that is being determined for me by others. I just won't allow it. I can't.

166 days.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Boy Scouts

Yesterday we spent a very nice day at Hale Farm and Village with Finn's Boy Scout Troop. It stormed and rained all day, but then would stop and the sun would come out. We saw the blacksmith, the broom maker, the candle maker, the basket weaver, the spinner, the potter and the teacher. The kids made their own candles. It was a lot of fun.

After we got home, Dad and Eileen brought over Tom and JoAnn to see the farm and to meet Mark, Finn and Tali. We enjoyed seeing them. The sun came out, but everything was still wet. Finn showed them how he goes on the zipline.

This week our focus will be on setting up our financial time line. Papers for travel money have been signed and will be put in the mail today. Hopefully we will know in 2 - 3 weeks. If we don't visit in December it will have to wait until June. I don't know how that will affect everything. Passport renewal papers have been filled out and Mark will send those in. I think we need a new passport photo though.

Soccer practice tonight and Wednesday. Protest at the Board tomorrow. Somehow I have to fit in laundry and grocery shopping. Another busy week ahead.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


We watched Big last night and the scene at the end made me so nostalgic for Fall. I am really going to miss it when we leave. And Halloween, my favorite holiday. Knowing that we are leaving though gives me an opportunity to cherish this last year and revel in all of the things that make Ohio, Ohio.

Another thing I am grieving is the school system here and the great friends Finn and Tali would have made had we stayed. The grounding that that would have given them. I really love the community that is Firelands schools, and I'm going to miss that.

Today we are headed out to Hale Farm and Village with the Boy Scouts. Should be fun!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Today I found our passports. Finn's, Tali's and mine has expired. Mark's is good for another year. We are hoping to visit Cuenca in December, a couple of days after Christmas for two weeks and take the kids. I think it will be good for them to go there first and then be able to come home. Traveling to Cuenca at Christmas should be very interesting because it will be during Holy Week and the Ecuadorians love to party! Hopefully we will be able to get out of the city and at least see parts of the outskirts where we would ultimately like to live. Just waiting to hear from my annuity guy. For some reason he is hemming and hawing. Don't like! In the meantime, we will get our passports and visas in order so that we will be ready to go!

The Big Decision That Will Change Our Lives Forever

I think it was 2004 when George Bush was reelected that we began to consider moving out of the country. At that time we did not like the way things were headed, and unfortunately it has not gotten any better, even after Obama was elected. We first began to consider warmer locations like Costa Rica about a year ago. We narrowed our search down to the highlands or the central valley, but to our dismay we found out that no foreigner can hold a job that a Costa Rican can. Good for them. Bad for us. We threw around a couple of ideas for possible jobs, but I found that law to be constraining and I didn't want to have to try to find a way to make it work. It seemed too hard. For example, we read a story about an expat who opened a B & B. You can own a business in Costa Rica, but all of the waiters, cleaners, etc... would have to be Costa Ricans. So, this man was helping out a busser and bussed one of his tables. Unfortunately, immigration stopped by at that moment, saw him bussing the table and in the end he was almost deported. I did not want to fight those rules.

My stepmother told me about a show called House Hunters International. I watched it once and was hooked. I am now obsessed with that show, and everyone I ask who has seen it is also obsessed! It was that show that turned us on to Ecuador. We saw a show about an expat who was looking for a home in Cotacachi. I was immediately drawn to the sites and sounds of the market in Cotacachi. And the prices for houses were amazingly low! There began our journey into Ecuador. We immediately began scouring the internet for sources on the country. We bought books and maps (which haven't arrived yet). We read blogs and found friends on Facebook and Yahoo groups.

So, why Ecuador? Many reasons. Some of them are subliminal. More a feeling than an actual reason. On one side we are stressed out by our jobs and the failing economy. On the other side we love the fact that in Cuenca the temperatures are spring-like all year round. The mornings and evenings can be chilly. Sometimes around 40 degrees, but it warms up throughout the day usually around 70. We love that we can be at the beach in 3 hours or the rainforest or the mountains. We love that most of the food is organic. And local! We have heard that the Ecuadorians are very family-oriented and like foreigners, even Americans. And it is very cheap to live there.

We have decided to live in Cuenca for at least the first year or so until we scout out the area and decide where we want to put down roots. We are going to be able to buy 3 years of Mark's military service and he will be able to start collecting his retirement pension in 2 years. His pension will be plenty to live on and we won't have to even work if we don't want to. We WILL work, but how awesome is it that we don't have to if we don't want to! You can rent (and we will rent. Don't want to buy again for awhile.) a very nice house for $400 - $600 a month. Apartments, nice apartments run around $280 to $300. We know a family of 6 and their grocery bill is only $50 a week.

We are in contact with some teachers from Guayaquil who work at the International School there. They would like to start an International School in Cuenca. That would be exciting. Mark is also considering starting an orphanage school or a school in a small village for indigenous children. There is also a need for B & B's in Cuenca. So, we see a lot of potential opportunities there.

It is with a heavy heart though that we make this decision. The thought of leaving my family and friends is devastating. Selling our animals and our farm is going to be heartbreaking. But every time I think about staying I think about going to work. And the thought of 16 more years in this school district makes me want to run through the streets screaming. And it is only going to get worse. This year I have a class of nice kids (although we are starting to see some serious signs of bullying), but we have 38 of them crammed into our room. In about 2 weeks we may lose our 4/5 split teacher. If that happens her students will be split between my class and the 5th grade class. That would mean 10 more students. We cannot move as it is. The children have no room to line up. I am hoping that reason will prevail and she will be allowed to keep her job. Michele has 60 8th grade students in her homeroom class. 60 8th graders! What is wrong with this system??? As I said, it is only going to get worse. And I won't even talk about Issue 2.

So, while moving away from family and friends is heartwrenching to say the least, we feel that we must make this move for the happiness of ourselves and our children.