Haiti Earthquake

Photography thanks to the blog mentioned below :)

Since hearing about the earthquake in Haiti three days ago, I have been following this blog of Haiti missionaries working in a medical clinic. The stories and photos are so vivid to me after seeing the earthquake destruction here in Costa Rica only a year ago... thank goodness last year's quake didn't hit San José like it hit Port-Au-Prince.

There was also an earthquake in Venezuela this afternoon. On this map, you can see how close Venezuela, Haiti, and Costa Rica truly are. I am continually fascinated to live here and experience Central American and Caribbean history ...
Pray for Haiti. For uncontaminated water, for survivors, for food, for medical help.


Happy Birthday!!

For my birthday, we got the Internet!!!! Seriously, this is ground-breaking here in our apartment because usually around this time of evening I am getting bored... No more boredom here because I have the endless World Wide Web to answer my every question and whim! lol
I did have to pay for this birthday present, lol. I guess that's what happens as an adult ... you have to pay bills even on your birthday.
Here´s a few photos from the school day:

My class is down to 10 students right now as we said goodbye to 4 North Americans moving on to Honduras and Peru. One student pointed out the other day that I am now the only gringa as there are 3 gringos (boy North Americans) and 7 ticos (Costa Rican boys and girls). That's when I joked that I dyed my hair last weekend just so I would look more tica :).

And the silly faces!!

I received great student gifts. Goldfish beanie baby, bookmarks, an ''S'' necklace, a coffee bean bracelet, a Snickers and box of chocolates (my students have noticed my love for chocolate!), and a candle. Oh, and you can´t forget the glass fish. This photo doesn't show them very well, but it's between the goldfish and the candle.

And we wrote thank you notes to other Sojourn staff members for my birthday :) Why not spread the joy?

I think Trish has something up her sleeve for tomorrow... we went out to dinner this evening to A La Leña and it was great to eat a huge chicken ceasar salad. I'll keep you posted as to what happens this weekend in the name of ''birthday celebrations''!!


The New Life... Well, The New Apartment

After a whirlwind 4am resorting the luggage to make it all fit, long security lines (thank goodness I didn-t have to do a body scan after all the Detroit flight scares over Christmas), and a 6am flight Wednesday morning, Tricia and I arrived in Costa Rica around 1pm. Only one problem... I didn't get my giant red suitcase, which means I don't have 50 pounds of my selected luxury items from the States. You know, pesto, parmesan, ranch dressing. lol. Oh well. Until it arrives, I am realizing other missing items as well... like my favorite black cardigan and all my socks. I am being challenged to realize that stuff is stuff and not essential to what is really important in life.

We worked hard Thursday and Friday and now are enjoying the weekend. Yesterday we went to the feria (fruit and veggie market) and then to the POOL :) I am a little crispy today, but I had to kickstart getting rid of the whiteness (again!). After a 2.5 hour church service this morning (it's great to be back :)), I am currently at a neighbor's house using the Internet for a couple minutes.

I figured you might like a tour of where I live now ;) so here goes!

The kitchen

The laundry room

The dining room... Anyone have a table to lend? :)

The living room.

Our book shelf :)
The living room view from the front window.

The bars on the front... and there's a park across the street!

The garage. Usually there is a red car parked in here because we rent out the garage, and when they start the car, our apartment smells like exhaust! Probably not very healthy...

Trish walking through the photo shoot.

The stairwell. I love how bright it is!

Up the stairs. My room is to the right, then you can see the bathroom and studio doors. Tricia's room is way to the left.

Trish's bed and front view window.

Trish's room and bathroom

Do you notice anything different about my hair? :) Yes... it's a different color.

My art studio!!! Sorry I didn't tidy it before the photo.

The current project... a study on a painting I bought in Nicaragua. The location is Lake Nicaragua, the twin volcanoes in the center. The painting has lots of dashes and dots, so it's fun to play with.

My bathroom
My sink

My bedroom

The view out my window... a red wall. It's a bit anti-climatic, but I am thankful that it is a bright color!

My beautiful closet doors. I love the wood. You can see the hallway and staircase back to the left.


Baby 7 has arrived!!

Alright, so my new cousin's name really isn't Baby 7. But he is grandchild number 7 of the Siscoe's and baby 7 in the hospital, so he already has a nickname. His real name? Collin James Crumrine. We were able to visit Aunt Janna and Uncle Jason in Bloomington today and meet the new half-Siscoe at the ripe age of 2 days!

He did not like us taking his picture with flash so he would open his eyes a tiny bit and furrow his brow as if to say ''Cut it out!''

Austin didn't know what to do with a newborn baby.

I think Kallie was also a little bit intimidated.
Dad's a natural after four of his own :)


Top 25 Things to Do on Christmas Break (in no particular order)

I hadn't finished this blog post yet because I still had photos I wanted to upload, but the Internet wouldn't upload more and also wouldn't save the draft so I could finish it later. So I posted it without finishing it, but now I have finished... I think :). Please see the comments to enjoy my Uncle Jason's numbers 24 and 25 for my list :).

23. Take photos of my unsuspecting Dad.

22. Play fetch with Addy!

21. Help in the kitchen. :)

20. Travel by bus, taxi, plane, train, in that order.

19. See long lost friends!!

18. Admire the Christmas lights.
17. CHEESE!!!

16. Watch my brother Wes´s Christmas videos about Belgium, Germany, and France. http://wes-in-oxford.blogspot.com/

15. Go sledding and get the car stuck in the snow with my other siblings Kallie and Austin.

14. Sleep 12 hours at a time. (Sorry, no photos of this!!)

13. Read new books by the Christmas tree and fireplace... I now recommend The BFG, by Roald Dahl, and Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink.

12. Shop on Amazon.com and actually be at a Stateside address to send purchases. Thanks to Mom and Dad for letting me shop online for my birthday presents :).

11. Talk to Mom.

10. Encourage Kallie and Austing to build snowmen inspired by Calvin and Hobbes comics and then photograph the snowmen at night.

9. Eat as much as I want without worrying how much it costs.

8. Learn Central American geography from the plane window.

7. Warm myself by the fire.

6. Read comics with 3D glasses.

5. Wrap gifts for my family!

4. Enjoy the look on people's faces when they unwrap their Costa Rican coffee :).

3. Hot chocolate and chocolate chips for lunch. It was marvelous.

2. Family traditions, including our first annual pot-banging at midnight on Christmas Eve.

1. Quality time with friends and family!!!


Merry Christmas!!

I´m home!!!! I love the Christmas tree, Christmas lights, the snow, the CHEESE stocked in the fridge, ranch dressing, chocolate chips (all three foods are really expensive in CR because they are imported), and throwing toilet paper in the toilet! lol...

Now could I just order some tropical sun for my weekend dose of Vitamin C?

It´s so good to catch up with friends and family once again. I did nothing but sleep and eat chocolate and talk to Kallie and Austin today... not kidding. Today was my true ''crash'' day, as this whole week was busy with Elgin friends and school visits.

Speaking of school visits, all went well. I am in process of deciding where I will be next year... but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have a big problem: I am content no matter where I am. I mean, I am in Costa Rica, and I love it there. Then I come to the States, and I love it here (except that the sun is only out for 9 hours... I´ll just have to start fake baking or something -- only half kidding).

Back to the school visits. I was so blessed to speak to several classes and even have a real interview! I spoke to a couple 6th grades, a 5th grade, and a 4th grade, and the teachers of the classes were all huge blessings. One teacher gave me a gift card to a restaurant of my choice, so I took friends Sarah, Christina, and Chris out to Maggiano´s in Schaumburg. We had too much fun ordering and eating to our hearts content. I brought home the leftover calamari, and my 6'2'' growing brother actually refused to eat it! I didn´t think he would ever refuse to eat something :).

I even had a real interview in Spanish and English at an Elgin school! I am really interested in the program the school has called Dual Language. I would teach half day in English and half day in Spanish! I have some endorsement hoops to jump through before I can legally teach in that situation, but I already speak the Spanish, so it´s just a matter of passing the tests.

I am excited to see what God has for me in the future... at this point, it´s wide open.

More Christmas news... My aunt will have her baby soon! Hopefully they decide on a better name than ''Seven''... that´s been the joke all along, but as a teacher, I know how kids would pick that apart. Lol, just kidding, Jason and Janna, but seriously, how about something nicer, like... Kathryn? If it´s a girl, anyway :).

Tomorrow is the annual Christmas shopping spree with Mom!! :) I think I´ll buy something warm... because I'm freezing!!!


Christmas Lights and the Beach

In case I forgot to tell you... Trish and I are toughing out December without Internet (**dramatic gasp** How did anyone ever survive without the Internet????). It's amazing how much simpler it has made life... I mean, I actually get bored in the evenings, until I realized a couple nights ago that I could use that time to paint so the last few nights have been late due to my new painting addiction (what's worse, a painting addiction or a Facebook addiction? At least I have something to show for my painting addiction!).

Life without Internet is also a bit more complicated as I don't have easy access to communication tools like email or my blog. Simplified and complicated all at once... What's a girl to do with life?

Christmas decorations are in full swing here. I forgot about the torquoise and fuchsia garland on every public Christmas tree here, but there it was yesterday at the bank, the grocery store, even in the hallway here at school. It's ironic to me that they also use snowmen and icicle lights to decorate here... when many of them have never experienced snow or the loooooooong cooooooooold winter of the north (or way south for that matter).

I have gone to a beach the last two weekends. I cannot fail on the stereotype that all people living close to the equator are tan. I am also going to another beach this Saturday to complete this self-promise. Plus, I am also just taking in all the Vitamin D I can because there won't be as much in Elgin or Kewanee. My borrowed coats and scarves and hats and gloves will prevent any Vitamin D intake.

(Yes, Mom, I am wearing sunscreen SPF 30 at the beach. I am learning the secrets of wearing sunscreen and getting tan, all at the same time. It's much more comfortable than my past sunburns.)

4th Grade is good. I think the only reason I am so chipper this week is because I know a break is just around the corner. I am excited to do nothing and think nothing about 4th grade for 3 weeks. Well, the thinking part might be hard to start, but at least it won't be required thinking. We have had lots of illness going around, such as bronchitis, head lice, tapeworms, and sore throats. I think the kids are just diagnosing themselves with tapeworms since we talked about it a couple weeks ago in science, but there is one student who really has one and is on medication.

Last week, we discussed what we could do to stop pollution, and one boy pipes up, "Miss Siscoe, I think we should put cars on every street corner and cameras on the dashboards and when the cameras sense someone littering, the car will automatically turn on and run over the person." Am I teaching at a Christian school or something? I couldn't help laughing but when I collected myself I asked him if it was very Christian-ly.

We also had one more dress-up day before the semester ended. The theme: Christmas. I was a Christmas tree in my red shoes, brown pants, green shirt, gold bow in my hair... and don't forget the garland and string of lights wrapped all around my green shirt. I made lots of people laugh when I would pull the plug out of my pocket and plug myself into any nearby socket.

I fly back to the States Monday! See you then!!! :)