Panama Adventure #1

Food poisoning.

Trish bought some strawberries yesterday for the bus trip and washed them and sealed them in a Ziploc. We ate some during the afternoon of our 17 hour bus ride, and then after going through Panama's border and customs lines, I ate some more strawberries around 9:30pm. By then, they had fermented a little bit but I didn't think too much of it, they just tasted a little funny. By 1am, I was best friends with a barf bag until we arrived in Panama City around 4am. Yuck. Not the way I imagined arriving in Panama.

So today's planned Canal trip and museum and shopping have been put off until tomorrow. I am recovering with lemonade, Coke, Gatorade, ramen, and toast, and a fever. We have 2 more days to explore the city, so hopefully I'll be a little bit stronger by tomorrow. Ewwwwwww.


Panamaaaaaaa Here We Come!!!

We leave this morning on the 11am bus for an almost 18-hour bus ride to Panama City. Want to join us? :) We will be in the city a couple days and then head to Bocas del Torro for a good few days at the beach working on our city-girl pale skin. We will return Saturday, April 3rd, with many stories and photos to share, I am sure. Until then!!


Ready to Laugh??

Have you ever had an experience that you just couldn't laugh about in the moment? Like it was so traumatic or embarassing or scary that there was absolutely no way you could enjoy it... yeah, I had one of those moments last fall.

I officially arrived at a place today where I could laugh about what happened. I saw these photos and bust out laughing...

What had happened was a night battle with mosquitoes... and they obviously won. Too bad the battleground was my face or I probably wouldn't have cared. In the second photo, you can see another bite on my cheek if you look carefully. I also had 2 or 3 bites in my eyebrows and on my forehead. In the last photo, you can see in the corner of my eye where the actual mosquito bite was... but my eye swelled up like that for 3 days! Of course it was in the middle of the week, so I went to school and taught with a swollen eye. My students would laugh at me... but I almost started crying because I was so self-conscious!

A few days ago, a student was complaining about how itchy and swollen a mosquito bite was on her hand. All I had to say was, ''At least it's not on your eye,'' and she started laughing.
Laugh away. Thank goodness I look normal now.

They Thought I Was Crazy...

In Bible study on Tuesday night, the whole group thought I was crazy when the teacher called on me to ask what a particular verse meant to me. Proverbs 23:7 to be exact. Here's what it looks like in the English:
''for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.''
(translation needed?)

And here's the Spanish:

--que son como un pelo en la garganta.--
(translation: that are like a hair in the throat)

Alright, so I thought a second about what the hair-in-the-throat meant to me, and I decided to try the English version first. I explained that a man who is always thinking about the cost could be that way with his money and time, that he is conscious of how he spends his life. The teacher had a blank look on her face, so I decided to try the hair-in-the-throat route. I started over in explaining this time that a hair in your throat is annoying and that you have to get it out and that might take time. Again, the teacher had a blank look. Finally, I said in exasperation, ''I don't know what you want to hear!'' The whole group laughed at/with me.

I think I recovered gracefully, but it's hard not to let self-conscious thoughts creep in.

During the break 10 minutes later, I asked the couple sitting next to me what their Bible said for Proverbs 23:7. Here's what theirs said:

--pues como él piensa en su interior, asi es él--
(translation: how a man thinks on the inside is how he is.)

I was like, ''Where did that come from ''hair in the throat''? Then I studied my Bible more, to notice there was one of those little ª symbols telling me to look at the footnote. The footnote in my Bible was where it said what the couple's Bible said.... but what I still want to know is, how does a hair in the throat become how a man thinks?

So the couple tells the teacher that I wasn't just not understanding anything and everyone gathered around to verify that my Bible said hair-in-the-throat. One guy asked if my Bible is even legit! lol.

Yet again, learning language through confusion. What else could I ever want? :)



The plan was to go to the beach for the weekend to visit our friend, Jared, who we met last summer during the Spanish intensive classes. He has since moved to Dominical to partner with ministries to Costa Ricans, tourists, and ex-pats that live there, and he has been asking us to come visit even since. So we finally went.

Trish, Jared, and I last July saying good-bye.

Plans never go as you think, so the first thing to go wrong was Tricia... well, got sick. Like, diarrhea sick. Yuck. There was no way we could take a three-hour bus through the mountains with Trish in that condition. So we waited it out and then went to the pharmacy, where they sell pills in only the amount you need right then. Two pills later, Trish was good to go. We made it to the station for the 4:30 bus, only to find out there was no space until 6. Soooooooooooo we got comfy on plastic chairs, borrowed someone's cell phone to call Jared to tell him we'd be late, and finally boarded the bus.

Saturday was wide open, and we had no expectations. We thought we (Jared, his roommate Chris, Chris's sister Sammie, Trish, me) were headed to the beach for a laid back day, when Jared called his friend Dan who has a jet ski. Dan and the jetski joined us, so we launched off the beach. 4 people on the jet ski, 3 people on the tube. Lots of fun. Somewhat scary, considering we were jetskiing and tubing in the ocean... with only 4 life jackets. Whoever was on the tube had a jacket, as well as the person who had to sit backwards to ''spot'' the people on the tube. Yes, Mom, I am okay!

So after the ocean jet skiing fun, we went cave exploring. The tide was high so waves were washing in and we were diving and riding the waves... until we realized waves plus caves equals really harsh bruises form cave walls. That realization made me more hesitant, but the others kept going at it for a while. Later we had a whose-bruise-is-bigger contest. I lost.

After cave-wave diving, we went to The Refuge restaurant, where Jared works 5 days a week. It's a ministry started by a family who moved down to CR just about a year and a half ago. They rent out surfboards as they are right on the beach and host church and Bible studies. Jared connected Trish and I with a free surfboard rental, so we tried and tried and tried to surf. lol, You get the idea. So we kept trying until the sun went down. I wore out quicker than Trish so then I witnessed her first stand-up on the board while I was sitting on the beach. Yay Trish! :) I never actually stood up, but I felt accomplished in saying I had tried.

Then Sunday was another adventure as we went to The Refuge church and hitched a ride with some missionaries heading to San José. We feasted at The Outback Steakhouse and stopped by the Costa Rican version of Wal Mart on the way home and finally arrived around 10pm.

All in all, a good weekend. An exhausting weekend.

I wasn't inspired to take photos... and it was impossible to take the camera with us on the jet ski on into the caves... or surfing, for that matter. Maybe next week I will be inspired while we spend Holy Week in Panama.

So I was physically exhausted this morning and then we arrive at school, only to hand our students over to substitute teachers and head to a funeral for the secretary's sister. Needless to say, it was an emotionally exhausting day. So here I am. Exhausted.


In Case You Forgot...

If you are in the States and I am in Costa Rica, chances are you might forget what I look like. So just in case (and Mom, especially for you!), I still look about the same...

And that's my friend Erin, who currently teaches 3rd grade at Sojourn.


Top Excuses for Not Blogging

1. I get distracted Facebook stalking. I love looking through people's photo albums. Not sure if it's actually a stalker impulse or just a curiosity.

2. I love checking my email and reading your emails :). Then it takes me a long time to reply because I somehow get distracted by other things.

3. I am busy. I know, that's a lame line, but seriously. Here's my weekly schedule:
Monday: School 7:30 to 2:30, Plan 2:30 to 5, Pilates 6:30 to 8
Tuesday: School 7:30 to 2:30, Teacher Meeting 2:30 to 4, Bible study 7-9
Wednesday: School 7:30 to 2:30, Tutor ELL 3 to 4, Tutor Art 4 to 5, Pilates 6:30 to 8
Thursday: School 7:30 to 2:30, Spanish Class 3 to 4, relax evening
Friday: School 7:30 to 2:30, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekend :)

And somehow, in between all that, I am working with the play again this year coordinating sets, costumes, etc. Thankfully I have delegated more this year so I don't have as much responsibility as last year.

4. I still have to study Spanish. Yes, I passed the test, and yes, I can converse, but there's more to learn. Always.

5. I am planning camping field trips. You read that right. CAMPING FIELD TRIPS. My students' New Year's resolution was to go on an awesome field trip. We brainstormed everything from China to Chicago to ziplining to camping. And somehow camping won. The dates are set for April 22nd and 23rd, we have a cabin and tents, we're planning for a bonfire and no electricity and hiking. I have like 5 or 6 parents and our principal helping us... I think I'm in over my head with this one... but it's too late, the kids are sooooooooooooooooooo excited.

6. To raise money for the field trip, I am facilitating lemonade fundraisers. Making 6 gallons of lemonade is no small feat for 11 hyper 4th graders, not to mention counting change in colones when our curriculum only involves change in dollars. Today was our first attempt at a lemonade stand at lunch and after school and we earned c30,000, a.k.a. $60!!!! ¡Fue exitoso!

7. Tricia and I debrief at the end of the day... at 8 or 9pm, so after talking, sleeping wins out over blogging.

8. I haven't felt very inspired lately. Life is full and routine right now, so I don't feel like I have great or inspiring stories to share... But there are upcoming adventures. This weekend we're traveling to Dominical, a beach south of Manuel Antonio, to visit our friend Jared who studied at the Institute last summer during the intensive course. We are excited to see what he's up to there. Also, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is coming in just 10 days and we are travelling to Panama! Lots of stories to come from that, I'm sure! :)

9. I might be standing in line at the bank. Seriously. The ATM is always a long line. The inside of the bank is even longer. I had to go inside the bank yesterday to withdraw coins for our lemonade fundraiser, and after waiting in line THIRTY minutes, the bank teller told me the bank didn't have coins. I asked how a bank doesn't have coins and she shrugged and told me again that they just didn't have coins and she could give me the amount in bills. I asked where I should go to get coins and she asked what I needed them for. I described the fundraiser (while wondering why I needed to justify why I wanted coins) and then she leaned over to the bank teller next to her and asked him if he had coins. Turns out the bank had coins and she just didn't want to help me or something.... seriously, sometimes I wonder why some ticos treat me that way, as if they don't want to help me.

9. I might be cooking. I love using all our fresh veggies and fruits to create new options. Trish is equally if not a more inspiring cook and we take turns.

10. I am easily distracte.................................


I Just Found Out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Test Date: 02/13/2010KATHRYN K SISCOEKEWANEE, IL 61443
Test: 056 TLP - Spanish

Total Score: 266
Minimum Passing Score: 240
Status: Pass

41 or more Reading Comprehension 276

1 Writing Proficiency 270

1 Oral Proficiency 240


Internet scores are unofficial and are not a substitute for an official score report. Your official score report has been mailed to you.

Now I just have to make a decision about where I'll be next year.... just.

New Blog :)

Writing Workshop has been inspired so much creativity this school year that I thought I would give my students another tool for sharing their writing: a blog. I just explained it to my students this afternoon, and their first published pieces are due by next Friday, so keep an eye on this link:


They're super-excited about it, as am I. Enjoy! :)


fourth grade adventures

One day:

bad attitudes about learning Spanish.

a student crying because I tell her she will be an excellent teacher. she does not want to be a teacher, she tells me. i reassure her i will not follow her to college and insist that she be a teacher.

self-induced coughing... an attention seeking mechanism???

plate tectonics experiments with crackers and water. students conclude that earthquakes and tsunamis are dangerous.

a fraction drill while waiting at the bathrooms. 6th graders being so excited that they too know how to change improper fractions to mixed numbers that they join in the drill.

students reminding me of what i forgot to do.

question of the day on our white board: what is the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? answers: ''their smile.'' ''what they look like.'' ''whether or not they are pura vida.''

students yell ''noooooooooooooooooooo'' when i stop reading from our read aloud book.

spelling test.

student spraying girl's perfume all over himself... we have a mini-conference to discuss the difference between girl and guy smells.

reading comprehension tests.

grammar lesson of using ''more'' or ''most'' before adjectives and adverbs.

whew! all in all, a good day.