An Assignment

Mimi, the secretary and go-to woman at Sojourn, let me borrow a new game today. She also gave me an assignment... to teach it to my tico family in Spanish. I am looking for any opportunities I can get to practice Spanish, so this was a good idea...

I got home, carrying the game (the box is rather large), and Judit took notice and asked what it was. I told her (half joking :)) that I had brought it home to teach her, and she said, "Bueno! Despues cena!" Sweet, that wasn't hard. So after dinner, we all sat down and I taught them Mimi's version of the game. I quickly realized that the directions in the game did not match up with what she had taught me during our "very important" meeting today, ha.

Tomorrow, I will teach the game to my students... this time in English.

Sojourn is collecting school supplies for another school in need in this area, and the 4th grade was assigned to collect 55 boxes of crayons. The class that collects their items first gets a pizza or ice cream party... Yesterday we had 37 boxes... and then Gaby brought in more than 30 more boxes this morning!! Needless to say, the whole class was jumping up and down, super excited about a party... but the 5th grade may have beat us because they took their supplies to the office 5 minutes before us. The 4th graders were a little depressed about this prospect today...


New Word Today: Migrana

Anybody know how to make the "~" symbol? "Migrana" has an "~" over the n... but I don't know how to make it.

A high school student's mom passed away from cancer this weekend, so in order to show support, all the secondary and specials teachers went to the funeral today. It's a big Latin America custom to show support when a student's parent dies. But elementary still had school, and without the specials teachers, there was no EFL, no MEP, no Spanish classes. That translates to mean I had my students from 7:30 to 1pm straight with no breaks. NO BREAKS. Kind of like mothering, I suppose. It was a good day though as we actually had sufficient time for reading groups. Aaah, the luxury, imagine that.

But by the time I made it home, I had a migraine. No fun. I got home at 3 and went straight to bed, woke up at 5, went to the kitchen and burst into tears when Blanca asked me if I was okay. All I could think to say was in English, the Spanish just wasn't working at all, so I just said "My head hurts!!" and Blanca thought I was crying because I was homesick or something. I was holding my head between my hands because it hurt so bad... I probably looked really high or something, ha. So then it turned into a big production... Judit went to the pharmacy to get medicine for me and Blanca was on the phone trying to get a hold of the family doctor and ManRi was sitting at the table getting really hungry for dinner. My head hurt so bad, and I was half laughing, half crying at all this commotion -- of course all in Spanish.

All in a day's work.


Birthday Parties and Spanish Lessons

Today we had a birthday party for one of my tica students. Birthday celebrations at schools in the States often consist of bringing in a treat for everyone... you know, like cupcakes or Twinkies. Costa Rica has a totally different definition of a birthday party. The parents today brought in balloons (you know, the ones that you can make into swords and weiner dogs), tattoos, yoyos, bouncy balls, and of course, chocolate cake. Woooooooo we were hyper there for the last 10 minutes of school. Controlled chaos, you could say. It was quite the adventure as we rocked the Spanglish, ha.

I had my second Spanish lesson today with a tutor, and I have lots of verbs to memorize for Thursday. Que bueno! This is so what I wanted last semester, and I am glad to have goals to work toward in Spanish... and the accountability of a teacher is that much more motivating. Buuuut... now I need to get to work!


Rainy Day

Strange but true. It's raining today, which is strange for January. Here's the view from my room. The mountains and clouds almost blend in.
And here I am :). Thought you might need a reminder of what I look like, ha!
I love weekends now living with ticos. Ha, I don't have any chores to do! No grocery shopping, no cleaning... it's almost like I'm in high school again in terms of responsibility on the weekends... but then it's back to work on Monday. Ha, oh yeah, I'm an adult, working full time now.
It's been a good weekend. Trish, Kim L, and I went to the pool yesterday (yes, it's warm enough to go to the pool in January!!) and then Kim V joined us to go see "Seven Pounds," the new Will Smith movie. Oof, that was a heavy movie... we were all half crying, half laughing as we left the theater, desperately needing some comic relief, but not really sure what to say or do. The title "Seven Pounds" translates to Spanish as "Siete Almas" which when translated back into English means "Seven Souls." I thought that was interesting with the message of the movie... but I won't give any more of the plot away :).
Today I hung out with the family all day. I'm learning Spanish! Ha, and constantly being humbled in my so-called English intelligence. Knowing one language well does make a difference in learning another language... but when it comes down to it, you're going to screw up so many times that you just want to quit. "Persevere!!" I keep telling myself. My tica sister Judit tells me "Paciencia, mi amiga!!" (Patience, my friend)
Ha, Trish had a funny thought that I want to share. So the showers here are quite different... Instead of a hot water heater that heats water for the whole house, the shower head itself is the actual heater of the water for showering. I'm pretty sure it's electric... which kind of freaks me out if I think about it too hard. It doesn't help that the shower heads are called "Widowmakers"... . not sure why they chose that as a logo. It's better not to think about it, I suppose. Ignorance is bliss, right?
Oh, and I saw my first enormous cockroach the other night... I got home around 10:30pm from a game night, and of course had a late night snack. I opened the dishwasher to put my plate in, and a cockroach skittered out from the handle. Needless to say, I was screaming silently, not wanting to wake my family but a pounding heart and gag reflex are hard to ignore. Ha, I survived. I still like Costa Rica :).
My tica sister Judit has friends in high places. I told her this and she laughed, but I really mean it. Remember the ballet we went to see in November? Well, one of Judit's friends is a ballerina that performed in that ballet. And then tonight, she introduced me to another friend whose parents own a really expensive clothing store here in Costa Rica... like a shirt from the store is $100 and pants are $160. What tico can afford that??? But anyway, I told Judit she has friends in important places, and she eventually agreed when I explained my thoughts and then she laughed at me again, saying "pero no estoy importante!!" (but I am not important!!)
My students will be ready for Monday... the question is, will I be ready also? Better go to bed soon :)


Sunday Afternoon Adventures

This is horrible! It's Thursday night and I'm just now posting about Sunday! Oh dear... well, at least I have photos to show this time :).

We went to some family friends' home in the mountains. This is the view of the village from the back deck of the house. The sky was beautiful!
Judit, my tica sister, and Sara (I guess she would be my tica aunt?) talking and laughing. Judit is such a great help with the Spanish... she's good at explaining the language without telling me in English :).

Blanca, my tica mom, is an amazing cook. Here she's sauteeing (sp?) peppers and eggplant with cheese and spices. Yum!

The yummy food all together!

Blanca again and ManRi, my tico dad, looking excited about this food.
Again, I'm sorry I haven't been posting regularly. I seriously feel so guilty about it... I'm trying to figure out life again and get used to lots of new routines. Me not posting has nothing to do with how much I think about you all!


Building Stamina

Hurray! I have Internet on my own computer... for the moment anyway :). I'll share some thoughts as of late:

I'm building the stamina with Spanish, that's for sure. On Saturday, I went to visit all of Manri's side of the family... that was intense with 15-20 people in and out all afternoon. I was having a difficult time with all the names, let alone the Spanish. My brain was fried when we got home. Then Sunday, I went with the family for a get together with some family and friends.... again, more intense Spanish, but this time with less people (about 7 others) and it went so much better. Whew! I'm learning slowly but surely. It's so humbling to constantly be searching for Spanish words to say in a cohesive sentence when I can so easily communicate in English.

The amazing thing is that my family here is so encouraging. They say I know a lot for only being here 5 months and that I have no reason to be embarassed of how much I think I lack. They're so patient with my grammar, too, ha.

The students are doing well. I have several criers in my class... anytime they're frustrated with a lesson, I can immediately tell because their eyes are all big and watery. So we've been working on long division the last week or so and I've made 3 students cry. I've learned not to take it personally. We have "Math Meetings" after the main lesson for anyone feeling frustrated... my criers all like this new idea. Ha, think AA but with academics.

I have this silly competition with myself to see how many "Happy Birthday" greetings I get on Facebook on my birthday... 2 years ago, I got 22... last year I had 29... this year, I had 60!!!! Holy cow, that blew the record away! ha, I don't think we'll every break that one. It made my day (actually, it made my whole week, ha :)).

Trish, Kim V, Kim L, and I continued the birthday celebration Friday night with a night out at Ala Lenas, a pizza/pasta restaurant here in the area. I love the atmosphere there... kind of like Village Squire in the Chicago area. We followed dinner with a couple games of Skipbo... and then we were exhausted teachers and all went home and to bed, ha.

I introduced the real parents to my new family last night. I had some translating action with that one... and my tica mom said to my parents, "Hello! How are you? I no speak English!" Bueno. It's kind of fun to translate because then I realize how much I really have learned.

Photos to come soon! I have some new ones of the family. I'm kind of shy getting my camera out right now because it's so expensive. I don't want my family making any assumptions about my financial status, ha. I have no money, to tell the truth! Ha, but God is good, and all my needs are met.

Well, I think that's all the thoughts for this evening. My brain is spinning in English and Spanish... My family asked earlier what language I think in and I replied, "No se... pero yo pienso que ingles, espanol,... y aleman juntos!" (I don't know... but I think in English, Spanish, and... German!) ha, they were cracking up.


Cumpleanos Feliz!!!

Happy birthday, Miss Siscoe! :) Here's our class in my favorite colors and crazy hats. The students planned games and snacks... basically we partied all day.

Here's the game Sorry.

And don't forget Twister.

And my Costa Rica family! Hurray! We ate brownies and played the longest Uno game EVER... I still had 24 cards in my hand when the winner went out... I don't remember who actually won because we were laughing too hard.

It truly has been a great day. Thanks to all who called and emailed and thanks to Mom for making toay possible (and I guess Dad too, ha) <3. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!



Sorry I haven't been good at posting lately. It's not that I don't want to... I've been having problems with my computer's Internet abilities.... Yup, you read that right -- the problem is my computer.

I just called Dell for some advice and (hopefully) a brand new computer, ha, but instead I got the news that it's a problem with my installed software.. therefore, that means I have to completely wipe out my computer and start over. Um, ok. Thanks.

So that's in process and for now this will have to do.

On a positive note, today was the first day of students for a full day. Wowee, we were busy with academics today :). Yay! We're back into the learning! I love seeing and hearing minds buzzing with questions and excited to learn.

AND we're planning my birthday party for Wednesday. I'm almost 23!! Ha, the students think I'm old... they have no idea, right? Alright, so the details of the party so far are to wear Miss Siscoe's favorite colors (which the clothes committee decided were blue and green because I wear them all the time) and to wear crazy hats. I approved for the students to not wear their uniforms on Wednesday, so they're really excited about that. We'll have lots of food (all the boys are on the food committee this time, so it could be interesting, ha) and games for all. They're so excited, so I'll hate to break the news, but we'll also have schoolwork...

My tica sister Judith toured me around San Jose last night. She's studying architecture, so it was so interesting to hear about the history and artistic thoughts behind the design. :) Of course, it was all in Spanish. I think I got about 70%... :)

Life is good and I am hungry. Dinner's ready!


Education... or something like that.

So.... I'm definitely becoming educated here. You know how in Illinois we have tornadoes and thunderstorms? Well, here they have ... earthquakes. Yes, Mom, you read that right. Today I experienced a 6.2 earthquake -- DON'T WORRY! I AM FINE -- but there's collapsed buildings in Alajuela and other cities nearby.

I was talking with the 5th grade teacher, Kim V., and everything started shaking and rumbling. All I could think is, "What the heck??" I didn't know what to do so we just kind of surfed through the quake. Noemy, the music teacher was yelling at us "Come out here!" and by the time we wobbled our way out of the room, the tremor was over. It's all over the TV here -- damage, a few deaths. My tico family is glued to CNN right now. Me too...

I'm safe! and I guess I'm educated now about earthquakes...



After waking up at 3am for a ride to the airport, a 6am flight to Ft Lauderdale, a 20 minute layover with an emergency bathroom break, a flight to San Jose, and a God-send pick up from my principal, I'm here!

Goodbye Chicago!

Hello swampy Florida!

I am officially moved in with my tico family also, and all is well! Manuel Enrique is my new "tico dad" and Blanca is my new "tica mom". Judit, my "tica sister", is 25 (I think) and studying architecture. I also met their other daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Rodrigo, when they came over for lunch.

Oh, funny story. I slept 11 hours last night (I needed it soooo much!) and woke up at 8:15am. I knew from talking last night that they were leaving for church at 8am, so I was bummed that I had missed them. I went to take a shower and (background information: showers here often have a side window for ventilation. You can open or close the window slats with the lever... I had the window open just enough for fresh air.)... okay, so I'm in the shower and I hear Judit's voice through the window "Hermana! Necessito una ducha!!" ("Sister, I need a shower!) I peeked out the window and she was looking at me kind of grouchily. Ha, her hairdo told me she had just woken up :). I said "Buenas!" and she said "Kate?" She didn't know I had arrived yesterday so she was surprised to find me in the shower... she thought I was Rebecca! Ha, we told the story during lunch and everyone was laughing. :)

I am quickly remembering feeling lost in conversation but wanting so much to talk and understand. They are so patient with my really bad Spanish, ha. I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN!! (I say that alot in Spanish, and it fits to say it in English too. :))

We had "sopa azteca" for lunch (Aztec soup), and I was able to help a little bit. It was a little strange not to have to make my own lunch, but I was able to work on making verb flashcards (nerdy, I know, but necessary for remembering a language!) while Blanca

Here are some photos of my new room:

Up the stairs... under the stairs, you can see the "storage room".

My messy room :). I'm working on the organization. They bought a brand new bedspread for me! It's beautiful and so comfortable... oh yeah, and it's nice to have a bed all to myself :).

The view from my window! It's gorgeous.

The Internet at my house isn't working, so I'm at Tricia's house right now. If you've tried to contact me, I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you!!! Hopefully the Internet will be fixed within the next few days.