Snapshots for You, Mom!! :)

We're heading to the beach this weekend... but before I go, I thought I would give you some of the latest photos... Nothing spectacular, but ideas of what it looks like here.
A chair back at the family's house in Heredia. Que bonita!! They have a room with all antique furniture that has been in the family a long time.
Theatre camp last Saturday with Kim V. and the kids dancing to High School Musical.

Trish before the haircut
and after :)
And the past neighbors, Steve and Diane. I tried taking their photo for their latest support letter, but it was so windy!! This is one of the best, but it doesn't do them justice with the wind.


Time for Funny Stories

So I thought there was a bat in my room last Friday night. No joke. I'm laying in bed, it's pitch black, and I hear the sound of wings hitting the curtains. Swish, swish. 'What the heck' was all I could think. I finally wrapped my blanket tight around me (I was freaking myself out, ha) and turned all the lights on (not just one -- all!) and opened my windows and doors... I looked under my bed and desk to see if it was hiding there... and I thought for sure I saw it under my desk. Turns out what I thought was a bat under my desk was actually just a part holding the legs on the desk... right. But then I heard it again... and I saw it... but it wasn't a bat -- it was a HUGE moth. Yup, that's right. I was freaked out over a moth in my room. This thing was seriously huge though. Too bad I didn't think to get my camera out.

The funniest part came the next morning as I'm trying to explain the midnight adventure to my family. Judit says "Oh yeah, I saw your lights on when I got home last night, and I thought, 'How strange that gringas sleep with their lights on and windows open.'" Ha, thanks for the help, sis. We laughed about that one.

I was riding in the car with ManRi and Blanca, returning from the family party on Sunday, and ManRi was driving, well, kind of fast through the city traffic. I said (as usual, not thinking), "Que un taxista!!" (What a taxi driver!) and they were laughing so hard. Blanca repeated what I said to Judit and Rebecca later... They were cracking up too.

Today we were learning about the digestive system and, well, 4th graders fill in the blanks that the textbook doesn't exactly mention. For example, the book calls "pooping" ... "elimination." Ha, quite an official word for that process. So anyway, today we were acting out the digestive system and Gabi jumps out of her seat and declares herself the nutrients that the small intestine is absorbing and then she jumps up in the air like a firework and falls on the ground. The whole class was laughing and then Gabi picks herself up off the ground and says, "And then I was the energy that the nutrients make." Good, we're learning.

That's all for today <3


Process of Harvesting Cashews

I learned today why cashews are so expensive. One nut is on one fruit... and the fruits are big. We started with a pan of nuts and we had to heat them for an hour or so before we could crack the shells...

Then the nuts started "sweating" an oil and smoking... the kitchen was so smoky we were running outside to get air and then running back inside to stir the nuts. Ha, it was quite the endeavor.
And the burnt shells are finally ready for cracking!
And I was learning how to crack the shells with a hammer. Fingers, watch out!


Yo Soy Tica... Mas o Menos ... Jaja :)

The title: I am Tica... More or Less ... Haha :)

Today Sojourn celebrated Valentine's Day, so there were lots of parties and cards to be exchanged. The students were able to wear Valentine's Day colors, which the advertisements defined as pink&white&red&purple... so I took the opportunity to wear my Saprissa jersey. Some of the boys were not excited to wear Valentine's colors, but when I told them I was wearing my Saprissa jersey, they got really excited about the idea.

But we still had learning to do, and the students handled that well too (for the most part... always :)). I need continued prayers for handling the situations with the two difficult boys in the class.

I was thinking about my family a lot today as my great-grandma's funeral was this morning. How surreal when I am still in a foreign country surrounded by a foreign language!

My migraine was finally subsiding this morning, so by this afternoon (maybe because it is Friday!) I was feeling much better.

Then one of the tica teachers, Carolina, invited me to her house to make empenadas, a traditional Costa Rican biscuits with meat and cheese inside. Of course I said yes because I have been wanting more tica friends and more practice with Spanish! So we went to Carolina's apartment and made empenadas. She was so encouraging to me, both about my learning of Spanish and my teaching. Carolina said that she has not seen discrimination in my teaching with the ticos and gringos, which is a huge compliment coming from a tica... and she said it is incredible how much Spanish I am able to speak now. Gracias a Dios!!! I am learning each day... more words and more verbs and more phrases... it's such a process!

and now it's Friday night and my mind is not working in English or Spanish. I just mixed up Spanish grammar while speaking English -- I said "the soccer practice of Esteban" instead of "Esteban's soccer practice". Whoops... so maybe I should stop typing before I type something in really bad English grammar, haha :)



Migraine Number Two

Why am I getting migraines??? The bright light here? I'm allergic to cheese again? Because my classroom is sweltering?

I left school at noon today and my head is still pounding...

And Grandma Great just passed away... I want to go back to the States for the funeral, but since it's in about 36 hours, it's nearly impossible. My heart will be with my family these next few days.

On a positive note, I am well on my way to having my latest support/update letters completed... They'll be mailed soon :).


Yo entiendo mas!

Aaaand another photo that Kim Loosa gave me -- the four Sojourn chicas on top of the mountains!

I am understanding more and more Spanish. Gracias a Dios!!! I have been working hard with my tutor to learn an endless list of verbs (more than 200) and it's amazing what a difference it is making in my understanding. Today at church, a gringa named Bonnie introduced herself to my tica mom, Blanca, and explained that she is a student at the Instituto. Bonnie had an assignment to ask some questions of a tica, so she began her questions. Blanca told Bonnie that I was also learning Spanish, but I don't think Bonnie understood her... I explained to Bonnie (in Spanish still) that I live with Blanca's family and I am a teacher at the Institute, but Bonnie gave me a blank look and nodded her head (ha, my own default mechanism also -- to smile and nod when I have no idea what's going on)... so then I said in English, "I am a gringa too." Blanca was laughing and Bonnie was still looking at me blankly. ... did she really think I was tica?? ha, that would be a nice switch, because to ticos, I am obviously gringa. ha, it's always an adventure in both languages!

I cut Tricia's hair on Friday afternoon... photos to come :)

Kim, Tricia, and I hung out last night and literally talked for like 4 hours straight. It is so good to have good friends here! We have our differences, but we are so thankful that we enjoy each other's company... if we didn't, this experience would be miserable and lonely!

Please pray for my students. These past couple weeks have been rough and I am often losing my patience... In talking with Mr. Reilly, the principal, he said that February and March are often the hardest months of teaching because there are no breaks and it is becoming warmer throughout the dry season. The students are becoming irritable with each other... Maybe it's time for another encouragement conference with them? ha, that worked in November when we were having similar problems. I think another part of the problems is that because I have such a small class now, each child's issues are magnified to me... Instead of focusing on many issues, I am focusing on just a few major problems ... but I feel way in over my head right now with what the students need. Pray for wisdom for me in how I handle the situations tomorrow.


Life is Very Full and Very Good

Here's the crazy group that hiked the mountain Sunday. Thanks, Brendan, for the photo.

So Kim V. is officially the producer of a play at Sojourn... and I am officially the Set and Costumes Designer! The right side of my brain says "Wow this will be so much fun!" and the left side says "What are you thinking?" Ha, it's going to be a lot of work... but the good news is that it's totally in my artistic creative nature to do something like this. We just had auditions today, and I am sketching the stage scenes and brainstorming what we need. Another adventure...

Life in 4th grade is challenging. An impatient attitude, an apathetic attitude, an attitude of stuffing anger, and an I-need-attention attitude have been my challenge lately. I mean, I know they're making their choices in how they want to behave and interact with the other students, but it's so difficult to warn and lecture and encourage and reflect and there's not much progress.

But positives include we've started a Geometry Unit -- a vacation from Multiplication and Division. We play Simon Says to get the vocabulary in our brains. "Simon says be an obtuse angle. Simon says be a vertex. Simon says be a line segment."... and on it goes. They seem to enjoy it and kinesthetic methods of learning never hurt anyone (there's a teacher word for you :)).

I have 2 hours of Spanish tutoring tomorrow and I need to study! and so many other things to do... but I'm loving life. :)


Landscape Beauty

Some of the crazy hikers climbing the cross. I decided against climbing, but I definitely enjoyed the view of the mountains and city.
Much of the path was steep and loose dirt... like this photo.
Practicing my still life photography. :)
And again.
The city and mountains in the distance.
and again :)
This photo reminds me of how foreign a country I live in. Ha, you would never see these in Illinois!
The enormous city seeming itsy bitsy from the mountain.
and again :)
and the lovely ladies of Sojourn. I can't live without them!


Tres Cruzes

I climbed a mountain today. We had heard of the Three Crosses at the top of a mountain that overlooks San Jose, and so a group of students from the Institute decided to climb it today. I now have these photos as evidence that I survived the steep hike and my camera is still intact. Que bueno.