Family Journal: Thursday July 10, 2008


Ocean Eating, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

It was a tough day yesterday for Nadia. We are both tired of the housework and child care that is usually taken care of by our domestic help in Venezuela. We had two girls come in Monday – Friday to assist us with the house and children while we were working. We never had to wash/dry/iron clothes, clean the house, cook lunch or breakfast and clean up afterwards. Other things such as cleaning the car, mowing the lawn, etc. were taken care of by the school’s maintenance department. Much time goes into these kinds of things and it takes away from the “quality” time of spending time with our children doing enjoyable activities or stimulating our intellects.

Nadia had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon for her physical for her new job. The doctor recommended immediate surgery on her diastisis. This is a spreading of the stomach muscles in women after pregnancy. She feels a loose area there and the doctor was impressed that Nadia had been walking around with it for so long. We are sorting through the insurance and choice of doctor this morning. I need to find our more about the procedure, but it would require an overnight stay in the hospital. I understand they will either sew or insert mesh into the stomach muscles to hold it together better. Entry would be through the belly button. More posts later on this.

In better news, Ocean is growing so fast! She is getting even chubbier. The video above shows her eating and she does have a healthy appetite when she is in the mood. She is crawling everywhere and we had to put her in the crib so she doesn’t destroy the house.

We are also packing boxes to be shipped to the International Schools Services ware house in New Jersey. Our school is having a second shipment of cargo from the USA to Serbia go out in mid-October. They are very generous in the amount of shipping we get and we appreciate it, especially with a big family.


Closing Up the Shop (Family Journal June 6-7 2008)

TGIF – June 6, 2008, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Friday afternoon we had a TGIF to say goodbye to the local teachers and assistants. Shown above from left to right are Ana, Lisa, Gustavo, Ann, Bill, Mendez, and Lili. We enjoyed a couple of beverages and reminisced about our time together at EA. The older gentleman next to me is an interesting case. Here in Venezuela it helps to have a “gestor.” A gestor may be a unique job title to Venezuela. This is a person that facilitates processes due to his/her connections. It always helps to know people and with the high levels of corruption and inefficiency here, in order to get things done in a timely manner, a business needs help. Mendez (his code name) has assisted us greatly throughout the years. To my right is the longest serving teacher in the history of the school, Ms. Ann DaCamara. She has been at EA for 17 years and is the Pre-Kindergarten teacher. She is from Georgetown, Guyana and is an excellent teacher and good friend. The school should name the Early Childhood Center after her due to her dedication to the school. The bookends are Ann and Lili, two assistants in the Early Childhood. Nadia thanks them for their help. The gentleman in the dark glasses is Gustavo. He is our head of maintenance and security. He is indispensable for the myriad of mechanical problems we have at the school. He is my right hand man and I thank him for his honesty and efforts to make the school better.

We are having a great weekend. Friday night we made a last run to Arturos, the Kentucky Fried Chicken of Venezuela. The boys had their final “chamo pack” (chamo is a Venezuelan term for friend). We ran into the Micale family, who with their four children have as crazy of a life as us.

Yesterday was an almost perfect day. We awoke early as usual and I took the kids to the Parque Ballenas for a bike ride around the track. It also let Nadia sleep in as Ocean was up every hour. We made it 1 kilometer around! We asked the nanny and maid to come in the morning so Nadia and I could pack. Instead of trying to sell our possessions we are not taking to our next post, we donated all of our stuff to our nanny’s family. Our home is almost empty and the bags are packed. During the day, we watched Ana Ivanisovic (a Serb) win the French Open and the opening game of the Euro Cup between the Czech Republic and Switzerland. I went swimming with the boys twice in the pool and in the late afternoon/early evening, we played soccer and baseball while Nadia ran her 6 km. She is running to get back into her pre-pregnancy shape. She has already lost over 15 kilos (33 pounds) and will lose another 5 kilos (11 pounds) before she is satisfied. Pregnancy is tough on a woman’s body.

Ocean our daughter is getting cuter by the minute. She is 8+ months and is scooting around the floor. She is eating solid foods and is just adorable. She cries like a girl and is a bit more sensitive and calmer than the boys were as babies. It is a nice change.

We’ll try to finish packing today and I want to go up to our favorite spot in Anaco, the mesa for a family photograph at sunset for the heading of the blog. We have spent many hours of hiking through the canyonlands areas up there. I re-charged my batteries every few weeks with day visit there and will miss the beautiful views and quiet.

EA Daily Bulletin: Friday June 6, 2008

The office will be open today from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Local Employee Update: We finished printing the local employee contracts for 08-09. It is the last day of work for the local teachers and assistants. We will have a party after school today. Refreshments are provided by the parents. Thank you!

Farewell: I met with Weatherford Inc. Board Member Nial Shepherd yesterday. He is leaving for Mexico later this month and we discussed the transition. Nial was a very supportive board member and was very dedicated to the students of Escuela Anaco. His presence and that of his wife Marisela and son Diego will be missed in our community. Thank you! We wish them the best of luck in their new post.

Summer Construction: We finalized the list of housing work to be done in June and July. Every summer, we do repairs and buy appliances for the homes. We are fortunate to own our expatriate teacher housing as this reduces our costs greatly. The following is the list of projects for each home. We plan on spending over 20,000 bolivars.

EA Housing Construction Summer 2008

House # – Work / Appliance – Cost
0 Split AC 1800
0 Leak in roof of play room
0 New toilet in second bathroom 300
0 Buy new part for fridge (Phillip will do this in USA)
0 Buy blender glass
0 Fill hole where a dryer used to be
0 Swap the AC’s in living room and play room
1 Fix the bathroom plumbing 600
1 Move Desire’s stuff to the house
2 Put mouse trap to catch last mouse
2 Buy new plates
2 Fix drawers in dressers
2 Fix lighting in living room
2 Buy microwave and blender 350
3 and 4 Connect the two to expand the day care
3 and 4 Move utensils, furniture to House #6
3 and 4 Put small porch near front door 1200
3 and 4 Take out dangerous cactus plants move to garden
3 and 4 Put cement where plants were
3 and 4 Complete overhaul in electrical system
5 Move Gary’s stuff to House #9
5 Split AC 1800
5 Buy an iron
5 Fill archway made for Gary last year
5 Put a front porch roof 1200
6 Renovate kitchen
6 Washing Machine 2200
6 Buy an iron
6 Fix lock on front door
6 Split AC (24BTU) 2500
7 Split AC 1800
8 Put water tray under kitchen AC
8 Split AC 1800
8 Move utensils, kitchen ware, Desire’s things to #1
8 Move dryer from #9 to #8 for the Denkers
9 Split AC 1800

Estimated cost for items above w/ no cost listed 2000

Total Housing Expenses for Summer 2008 19350

Priorities for Today: We will be finalizing the school construction projects. I am meeting with a new prospective family this morning. I also will be completing the purchase order for physical education among other items.

Andy’s Final Empanada Run

Andy’s Final Run, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Pictured above is my brother Andy at Empanadas La Negra. He left yesterday afternoon for the USA, but before he said goodbye to Venezuela, he had to get a final “empanada.” The empanada is a popular Venezuelan breakfast food. It is not as popular as the “arepa” which is unique to Venezuela.

The empanada is in the shape of a half circle. It is a corn flour dough wrapped around a variety of fillings. At this particular place, there are 16 different types of fillings. Andy’s favorites are chicken and ham & cheese. There are also meat, fish, spinach, etc. The delicious aspect of the empanada and the reason they are so popular with Venezuelans is they are deep fried in oil. They are a cholesterol raiser! In fresh empanadas, the bag which they are placed, is soaked in excess oil from the flour.

Empanadas La Negra is named after the head chef, “La Negra.” She is a Venezuelan of African descent that is proud of her shop. It is located near the entrance road to the school on the main highway leading out of Anaco. It is a five minute walk from Andy’s house and many mornings he would visit for his daily dosis of grease. The restaurant is very popular with Venezuelans working in the area. There are always oil field workers dressed in their company’s jump suits inside. To accompany an empanada, La Negra offers coffee, soda pop, or malta.

Andy is quite popular wtih the serving ladies. The woman above asked Andy to take her to the USA with him. Andy politely refused the offer, but gave her a big hug and a smile, before he headed out the door with his greasy bag of empanadas.

EA Daily Bulletin: Tuesday June 3, 2008

The office will be open today from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM to the public.

Monday’s Accomplishments: We cleaned and organized the storage room #19 on the second floor. With increasing enrollment, we can convert one of the storage rooms to a classroom. In years past, the rooms were used as secondary classrooms. They are located above the art studio. We also checked out all of the expatriate teachers. In office news, we determined the Apostille process for students wanting to enter the Venezuelan school system, organized transport for the expat teachers to the airport, and sorted out keys and pay roll for June and July.

Expatriates Leave EA: The bus arrived on time this morning to take the outgoing expatriate teachers and their luggage to the Barcelona airport.

Summer School: Ms. Doreen, Ms. Lisa, and Ms. Ann will be holding summer tutoring sessions at the school during the month of June. This is good for the students to maintain their level of English during the long summer holiday. We encourage our families to use as much English as possible, and some ideas would be to watch English television programs and internet videos, read English magazines and books, etc. If you are interested in having your child come in for the summer, please contact the office and we’ll put you in touch with one of the three ladies.

I will be out of the office after 1:00 PM this afternoon.

The Community Says Goodbye to Expat Staff

EA Despedida May 31, 2008, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

This past Saturday evening, the parents surprised the outgoing expatriate faculty with a grand farewell party. They wanted to show their appreciation for the staff’s dedication to their children. It was a very special evening for me. The parents went to great lengths to express their gratitude. They had Jay’s mega-BBQ truck and plenty of delicious food and drink. There were many speeches, tears, gifts, and thank yous for each staff member.

Shown above is the mariachi band and you can hear a bit from their set. There was much dancing and merriment long into the evening. They had a karaoke machine and the crowd was so uplifted of my version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” that they got out of their seats and begged me to stop! The students had a great time running in the gym and park, and riding the bicycles around the school.

I want to thank our community on behalf of the staff. Escuela Anaco is a special place and we’ll never forget your kindness and generosity. It has been very rewarding to work with the children and parents of our community. We leave much richer for the experience!

I uploaded many photos from the evening. You can see all of them in my account.

Congratulations Evan!

Me, originally uploaded by Vitharr.

Pictured above is former EA student, Evan Huff. Evan left the school after the first semester in January of this year. He graduated this weekend from a Tulsa, Oklahoma area school.

Congratulations! We missed you this year and wish you the best of luck next year. Evan was accepted to a “folk school” in the country of Norway. It is post-high school program which prepares high school graduates for entry into Norwegian universities. Evan will take the year polishing his Norwegian and planning his next step. He was also accepted to several USA universities. Evan’s father Michael, was a long-time board member and supporter of the school.