Yay! I took pictures today!!!

Just a few photos today. :) Here's the class smiling for the camera.
And then the classic goofy faces.
Meet Jordan. Energy central, trust me. He's moving to Guatemala in December.

So today I had a bad day. You know, the classic forget-my-lunch, bad-news, take-it-personally, make-the-kids-cry kind of day. BUT I did come home with a couple funny stories...

Lunch is a hectic time of day for those of us in 4th grade (and any grade for that matter), because every teacher is also the lunchroom supervisor for her students. Not only is the teacher responsible for opening juice boxes and encouraging good table manners (my class struggles with chewing with our mouths closed... me included :)), but the teacher is also responsible for heating up any lunches needing reheating. So I'm running around, grabbing lunches and pushing microwave buttons like a pro... and then I realized I had forgotten my own lunch. I was already having a bad day, so this was kind of like the "straw that broke the camel's back". I finished my microwave duties and sat down next to the 5th grade teacher (Kim V.) and told her I had forgotten my lunch. Now this seems normal enough, but of course my good old emotions overflowed and I collapsed into tears. Thank goodness Kim had enough sense to just go get lunch for me from Cosas (the catering business that makes our student lunches) and tell me to collect myself in the bathroom. When I came back from the restroom, Kim had lunch waiting for me and my students were asking, "Would you like us to make a donation to your lunch?" (We've handled forgotten lunches this way in the past for other students) ... Of course, I didn't turn down the cookies and chips the students offered me in place of my forgotten lunch. Ha, quite healthy.

Alright, second funny story. We were doing the penmanship exercise, and I was attempting to write "14" at the board. Now, it doesn't seem to difficult to write while standing up, but when my arm doesn't have a horizontal surface to rest on, it throws me off completely. Soooo you can imagine how my penmanship lessons tend to go. (Ha, I should call it "how not to write" lessons) So I wrote my "14" and one of the boys raises his hand. "Ummm Miss Siscoe? The 4 doesn't go under the line quite that much." .... I was silent, staring at my attempted 4, not knowing what to say or do. One of the girls whispers "Jordan, don't frustrate Miss Siscoe right now!" Jordan says really loudly "Actually, your 4 is great. Nevermind!" I stand back and examine my "14" again. Another girl says "Yeah, Miss Siscoe, it looks great!" Ha, it was obvious that I was having a bad day.

Tomorrow will be better.


Un Fin de Semana Tipico en San Francisco de Dos Rios

Eventful weekend on this homefront! Lots of socializing and... well, no work. Ha, I kind of feel like a college student still because I get back from my fun weekend on Sunday afternoon and all I can think is... "I have a lot of work to do!" Bah.

In the near future (in other words, this week), I am going to really make an effort to not bring work home. Bah humbug, first year of teaching.

Alright, I'm done complaining now. :)

Kim and I babysat on Friday night for the Diem family with the cutest little boys ... I forgot my camera. Josiah (3 and obsessed with Peter Pan) and Elliott (18mos. and super laid back) are my new favorite stress outlet.

Saturday brought another trip to the feria and housechores. THEN :) we went with our neighbor Diane and friend Becky Diem for a pedicure at a Nicaraguan place "Magica Unas" ("Magic Nail"). Only $8!! Then we headed to teacher friend's Lauren and Mau's house in Concepcion de Tres Rios, up the mountain, and enjoyed an afternoon of Mau's exceptional cooking and lots of stories and laughs.

Sunday = church, grocery store, lunch with the Diem family, phone call to Mom, mini-nap, laundry, letter writing, dinner with the neighbors, meet Kim V.'s family... and here I am. :) Lots of work to do.

I realized today I hadn't taken photos in way too long. I'll be fixing that soon. Sorry I didn't capture Josiah or Elliott's mischevious smiles for you... I'm sure I'll have more opportunities. For now... I need to get something school-related done!

As always, much love


Changes in Fourth Grade

Lots of changes this week!! My students (and I :)) have handled it well for the most part; however, I must admit I'm looking forward to the set routine again.

Change #1 = New student from Korea! Must catch her up on everything we do in our class. . . thank goodness she speaks English pretty well!

Change #2 = We are no longer eating lunch in our classroom, because the construction is complete! Now we are eating in the picnic area, and we are figuring out new routines there... kind of confusing and stressful for everyone involved, trust me.

Change #3 = Our first tests! Tuesday was our True Stories test, Wednesday was a Puzzles test, and today is a Word Play test. Whew!! No homework due to tests in also a new thing this week.

Change #4 = Every Wednesday, we will be reading to the kindergartners, and this past Wednesday was the first time. Both the 5 year olds and my 10 year olds did so well with this :).

There's more, but I'm writing during my planning period at school and someone else needs the computer. I'm surviving the changes so far! And thank goodness someone thought of weekends and rests from work.


I have a phone number! :)

Yay hurray, I purchased a phone number! If you don't have a Skype number and you are living overseas, I'll be your salesperson right now. $17 for 3 months of unlimited minutes calling to the United States. Incredible, that's all I have to say.

So far, I've surprised several family members and friends with calling :). What great fun. You might be next!!!

This is my week to teach Bible during Chapel time in the mornings, and my students have been helping me. The lessons center around the story of the Tower of Babel, when all the different languages of the world came to be. My students drew plants and bricks and then acted out the parts of brickmakers, carriers, and a boss... They did wonderfully today. I'm so proud of them (of course!)! On Friday will be the final culmination when God confuses the languages and everyone begins speaking different languages and can no longer communicate. My students will start babbling in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean. It will definitely be another proud moment for me, and they're super excited to speak their native languages!

Another proud moment today was when we went to the kindergarten class with Miss Wegman (my roomie Trish) and partnered up a 4th grader and a kindergartner to read for 20 minutes. I had coached my students about how to ask questions to keep the 5 year olds engaged in the book, and my students did wonderfully at leading conversations about the books. During our debriefing session afterwards, several students said "My kindergartner wouldn't stop talking!" and others said "Mine wouldn't talk at all!" Ha, it's quite the age gap, but our purpose is to excite the kindergartners about reading. I think we accomplished that goal for today!

what would you do if...?

do you think you could handle 15 students, calling your name "Miss Siscoe! Miss Siscoe!" and asking you a million questions a second and the action never stops and then a bee flies in the room... and out the window so everything calms down... and then the bee flies back in... constant chaos surrounds you (girls screaming, boys chasing bees)... and then to top it all off someone farts? what would you do in this situation?

true story. in fact, it happened yesterday.


Guess What Made My Day??

A couple things, actually.

I always begin my parent/teacher conferences by asking how the student is doing in my class. I like to get a parent's perspective to see if we're on the same page... :). One dad today told me, "Well, I don't know what you did to my son, but all of a sudden, he loves to read." Yay!!! I love to hear that!!!

Today was also the first day that I had another person helping me in the classroom. And I didn't have just one, I had two! Wow, they did so much grading for me and so many "administrative" duties that I am just amazed. Thanks Miss Roark and Mrs. Bredbenner!!! Your help was so appreciated!

That's all for now.


molas, flores, y conches

I bought tiny molas at the market yesterday. Here they are, in all their beauty. Molas are an art form from Panama and Costa Rica that originates with the Kuna Indian tribe. The Kuna women would sew these designs and layered colors on their clothing. Molas are still made and sold all over the world. I did an art project with molas while teaching in a practicum in Elgin, and my class just made molas as place mats for our desks. I know what I am going to do with these molas, but I can't tell you because it's top secret :).

See the tiny stitches all over the back?? They're handmade!
I bought myself flowers yesterday. :) Flowers are inexpensive here and make a great treat to myself!
And here's my small collection of shells from Puntarenes and Manuel Antonio. I even found some coral!


yes, it's definitely the rainy season

This is how much it rains every day here in Costa Rica. My neighbors Steve and Diane are producer and director of this video that captures the intensity of precipitation right outside our apartment. Enjoy!


Emotional Moments

Hearing all my students sing in Chapel brings tears to my eyes. It's such a unique experience for me to be a part of a Christian school after doing all my studies in public schools. My heart truly is with public schools, and I honestly never expected to be teaching at a school like this. Nonetheless, I love it.

I also nearly got tears in my eyes today while reading the book that I wrote ("If You Give Miss Siscoe An Apple"). My students were so excited and awed by it that they were asking so many questions about how I made it ... They loved it.

I also had the opportunity to lead the music in Chapel on Wednesday. I had been telling Miss Noemy (the music director) that I wanted to, so she called me up in front of the student body and had me "audition". Ha, I passed, I think, because the kids were cheering. Another teary moment.

bienvenido a mi clase!!

I thought I would update you with more recent photos of my classroom, now that school is well underway and the students have given the room life :).

Here's the seating arrangment this morning :). The sun is so bright! I love our painted windows.
The "Exploration Station". We are currently growing zucchini... and I told the students that if we actually get a zucchini out of this experiment, then I will bake them zucchini bread. Yum!
The arrangement after school! :) We'll see the student's reactions tomorrow...
Our "Class Contract." The rule "Don't be dramatic" is my favorite.
Shout out to my Uncle Tim and Aunt Christen for their donation to me and my classroom. I decided our classroom needed a softer place to sit instead of the cement floors... and I found this rug for a bargain, of course. The students love it! :)

I was thinking about the lack of technology in my classroom the other day, and I really don't mind. I mean, last year during student teaching, we had 2 computers, a TV, VCR, overhead, and an Elmo right there in the room for daily use in lessons. Now, I teach "from scratch" with hands-on activities and lots of dynamic conversation. I think when I go back to the States to teach, I won't know what to do with the technology!

That's all for today. I'm not feeling well this evening, so I've already taken lots of drugs and a nap. Now we're on to planning for the next couple hours.

Much love!



After a weekend with lots of excitement, I don't feel like I have any great stories from today... I could tell you about how much my students make me laugh, but I'm not sure it would have the same effect since you can't picture each individual's unique personality.

We did go to the Independence Day parade in Desamparados on Monday morning, so here's a few pics from that experience.
Kids were dressed up in the traditional costumes of Costa Rica. This boy caught me taking his picture :).
What a cutie! These outfits are sold at the Mercado Central for weeks before this celebration.
Look!! There's glockenspiels here in Costa Rica too! (I played this mallet instrument in the high school band... It's name identifies it as German :))
More percussion and glockenspiels :)

Oh, and a p.s. to my mom: Thanks for all the prayers today; it went a lot smoother than I had anticipated! Love you! :)


more weekend photos and a video!

I love photos :) and I hope you do too!

Here's the waves from this weekend. The series of three photos were taken within a few second of each other, so you can see the wave coming in and breaking.
Trish and I were diving into the waves earlier in the day and dove into one, not expecting two in a row. We surfaced, only to be surprised by the second wave. We were knocked off our feet and underwater before we knew what was happening! Still underwater, the wave pushed me to the bottom and Trish was on top of me... the waves are so strong that it dragged me against the sand... now I have "sand burn" on my knees, similar to rug burn. Trish and I were coughing and sputtering as we came up for air. Needless to say, I took a break out of the water after that experience.

I spotted a couple other people with camera equipment similar to my own this weekend :). Not a great photo, but proof that there are other photographers in Costa Rica!
A baby iguana wondering what I'm doing.
Parque Nacional.
A walking bridge.

And here's a link for viewing some of the Independence Day festivities at Sojourn. We had an assembly and a parade last Friday during school... a few things we aren't trained for while majoring in education, ha! It was a bit crazy, but lots of fun. I'm in the video... near the beginning, with my back turned to the camera while herding my students to the gym for the assembly. I'm wearing a white dress with red sash :). Just in case you're looking for me!


teaser photos from the weekend

So, it was an awesome weekend. . . among the sweaty complaints and blistered feet. Ha, you probably won't feel sorry for me once you see these photos.... :) Trish and I ready for the hike, ha. We found hibiscus flowers, so of course we put them in our hair! We are on the mountain in this photo, before hiking down to the bus stop.

We went to Parque Nacional in Manuel Antonio and had a guided tour. We hiked through at least a mile of rainforest, althought it wasn't quite as "jungley" as we expected. The trail on the way to the beach was more touristy, but the treck back was more genuine rainforest :). Here is a rainbow grasshopper. It has all the colors of the rainbow on its back!
These crabs were everywhere, but if you didn't look carefully, you might step on one! I was able to get pretty close to this one.

We saw several sloths! Crazy, huh? Our guide said they sleep for 20 hours a day and only move for 4. Sounds like a great plan to me... maybe for 2 days or so.

Bamboo is tall! We are not very tall.
Kim is thinking, "We finally made it to the beach!!" We were so sweaty and gross by this point.
I know where pet stores get their hermit crabs from! Under decomposing logs in Costa Rica.
No one told us there were raccoons in Costa Rica... but apparently they're here too. This pesky scavenger stole our chips from my backpack! He came right up to our things while we were down in the water, and when we saw what he was doing, we came sprinting up the beach... but if you've ever tried to run in sand before, you'll realize that "sprinting" is really like "jogging". ha, Needless to say, he tore the bag open before we could do anything about it.
So then I put out bait (my apple core) to try to get the raccoon back... I wanted a better photo of our burglar. But another scavenger showed up... an iguana! He seemed glad that I would share, so he posed for quite a few photos. I think I will go into animal photography someday at the rate I am going!
Do you see the crab?? He's there, I promise! He's sooo camoflauge!
Same here... these creatures are camoflauge too... can you even tell what it is?? Fruit bats!
Kim V. and waves captured in action.
My pretending to be a mermaid, ha. I don't think my gringa legs would qualify.

Kim L. loves taking her own photo, so I thought I would join in the fun :).

Alright, I'm headed to bed. It's already 11:30 here. I will post more photos tomorrow! :)


Something Else Only in Costa Rica...

Today I realized that something else only in Costa Rica is that I have to take an umbrella to go get my students from gym class. It downpoured right as I was on my way, and thank goodness I had the umbrella. My students walked quickly through the rain on the way back to our classroom. They told me the rain felt good after sweating in gym class. :)

Tomorrow is an early dismissal and then a Parent Open House. Pray that my mind and body is still functioning when the parents arrive! (I'm exhausted tonight!)

Then we have Monday off for Costa Rica's Independence Day, so we (Tricia, Kim L., Kim V., and I) are heading to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. The 3.5 hour bus ride tomorrow night will be an excellent nap (hopefully). No posting until I get back Sunday night, but the photos will be great. :) I promise!

Oh, and we received the first box of books!! :) My students were so excited today about all the new books! :) Thanks to everyone who has donated books, money, and time to my book project.

Much love!


Character Building

We seem to be having some difficulties sharing in 4th grade... so we're going to have many opportunities over the next few days :). We'll see how that goes...

A couple of my girls also seem to be very critical of others. We'll be working on this as well.

Funny how the things my students need to work on are the things I also need to work on.

I think I'm turning into a football coach. My classroom windows open right across the hall from the library, so I think (actually, I'm pretty sure) that anyone in the library can hear me teaching at all times. I have this loud teacher voice... I kind of bark, ha. I vary the volume to keep student's attention; however, when I'm barking, I'm barking... if you were to sit in the library, you would know what I mean.

I was teaching the history lesson today about the Vikings and explorers who discovered America before Columbus, and I got all excited and really animated and acted like a Viking with a good pirate accent... "Ya know, I'm pretty surrrrrre that the Vikings werrrrrre what we callllll .... (dramatic pause) PIRATES!" Just then I looked down in the library, and some of the high schoolers were cracking up, looking right up at me.

All for the expense of teaching. My current character building: not caring what other's think, no matter what. My students are loving it. I haven't decided how I feel about it yet.


Only in Costa Rica (or at least not in the States!)

Only in Costa Rica does a teacher have to remind her students not to flush their toilet paper. "Throw it in the wastebasket by the toilet so the pipes will not be clogged!!" I think I've said this too many times already.

Only in Costa Rica are there several minor earthquakes per day. With a bookshelf connected to the wall, my students put a marker standing on its end on the top shelf. Every time it fell to the floor, the students would yell "Earthquake!"

Only in Costa Rica are thunderstorms every afternoon. On a regular basis, I find myself competing for my students' attention with the noise of thunder and the light show of lightning.

Only in Costa Rica do ants get to your food before you do. I ate most of my lunch and then set it down to help a student... next thing I know, there's ants thoroughly mixed in with my gallo pinto. Bummer.

Only in Costa Rica do taxi drivers not let on that they know English until you arrive at the destination. And of course, Trish and I have made fools out of ourselves by commenting (in English) about the driver's race car steering wheel (no kidding, this one drove like he was in the Indy 500!). Then to discover that he understood every word we said.

Only in Costa Rica are you excited (like me :)) to go to the Post Office and have an entire interaction in Spanish, completely understood. I bought stamps and asked where to put my letters. The clerk asked what I was doing in Costa Rica and I told her about teaching and where I was from. Ha, such an accomplishment!

Only in Costa Rica does the city wake up completely at sunrise around 5:30 am. No kidding. The trucks and taxis are already honking.

Well, maybe all these things aren't only in Costa Rica... but they're certainly only in my Costa Rica experiences :).


Puntarenes y Mis Amigos Ticos

Whew! This was quite the weekend of experiencing Costa Rican life in its truest form. I was able to join my friends Ale and Priscilla to visit her family in Puntarenes. I met Ale and Priscilla in March 2006 when I came with the Judson mission project. I stayed with Ale's family while we were working in Lourdes, and he thought an American boy was coming to stay with him, but obviously I'm a girl. He called his girlfriend Priscilla and said "What do I do with this girl??" so Pri came over and practiced her English. :) ha, that was two years ago, and we would have never guessed we would be spending a weekend together!

We went to the beach :) of course and ate lots of good tico food. Gallo pinto and arroz con leche are two of my new favorites. I will learn how to make it Mom and I will teach you when I am home again! :) Scripture is everywhere, even on the grocery store!
A puffer fish... poor guy.
Pri likes to take photos like me, so she always wanted to take photos of me. :) I didn't complain!
Pri & Ale are always being funny. They are good together.
At the beach! Debbie, Valeria, Tati, me. I think this was my first time ever at the Pacific Ocean!! (Correct me if I'm wrong, Mom!)
Lots of fishermen at the dock!
Debbie and Valeria on the dock. They are very beautiful girls.
I tried this drink ... gazoricados (something like that...) con dos leches. It was almost too sweet for me, can you imagine that??
Pri & Ale & me. I'm glad I could join them this weekend!

Donya Yanette's home. It is open air, very simple.

The view from the front living area. Beautiful, huh??
Donya Yanette. She is an amazing cook and hostess. She asked if I would take her photo, and I of course was honored!

The nice light from the window next to my bed.

Coral on the rocks. Tati was catching tiny crabs, but they all got away before I could take a picture.
Hey look!! A banana boat! It only cost a mil ($2) to ride. I wanted to, but I couldn't convince the other girls.
There are birds in Costa Rica :).

at the beach, looking cool. Ale, Tatiana, Valeria, me!, Debbie.

Then the car broke down... twice. All I knew was that smoke = not good.

So while the car was broken down, I took some good photos of the landscape. Muy bonita montanas!!
and then I figured out how to blur the background with moving cars... a great breakthrough in my photography career, ha!