Scoring Bonus Plane Miles

So I flew back to Costa Rica last Tuesday, thinking I was saying good-bye to friends and family for 5 months. Then Friday night, Mom called to say Grandpa had a stroke and that I should consider going back to Illinois to be with family. On Saturday, Mom called and told me to buy a ticket, so Sunday, I was back on a plane to Peoria, Illinois. Four airports, three plane rides, and 2,500 frequent flyer miles later, my Uncle Jason picked me up at the airport.

So here we are, the whole family (the adults) at the hospital, sitting with Grandpa in his room in the neuroscience intensive care unit. Like my dad's cousin said, the hospital is never a place you want to be, but it's definitely a place you need to be in times like these.

I think I finally graduated from the kid level to the adult level of my family. I mean, this process takes a while because all the adults (grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents) see you as a child the first 18 years of your life and then all of a sudden you want to be treated like an adult, but it takes a while of ''proving'' that you're an adult before everyone actually sees you as and treats you as an adult.

The Message paraphrase of the Bible says something like ''hard times bring out your true colors.'' Our family is experiencing the emotional rollercoaster together, and I'm really glad I came home to be with everyone. I mean, you can't DO anything in times like these... all you can do is BE. So I'm being with my family and experiencing laughter and tears all within minutes (and the long hours).

Next Sunday when I fly back, I will earn 2,500 more frequent flyer miles... that makes 7,500 miles in 13 days for my Continental OnePass account... a bittersweet bonus to this week's events.


Plane Window Photography

I've heard that many people prefer the aisle seat when riding an airplane. The two reasons I am given are that you don't have to look out the window (and think of the ''what ifs'' of flying miles above ground) AND easy access to the bathroom without the awkward request for 2 other people to get out of their seats in order for you to make your way to the ''lavatory'' (as they are commonly called on planes, haha).
I, on the other hand, love the window seat. Despite the occasional awkward bathroom request, I don't mind one bit. Why? Great photography ops! :)
 So I was taking photos of the clouds... and I know during winter in the States, it's pretty normal to go weeks without seeing the sun. Being above the clouds in a plane got me thinking that just because we can't see the sun from our viewpoint doesn't mean it's not there. The sun is still there, it's just above the clouds.
 Sometimes I think we think of God in a similar way... just because we can't ''see'' Him working means He's not there... the sun reminds me that it's there, no matter if I can see it or not.

So there were lots of clouds and I was fascinated with the different textures on the top. Now I know there's a whole science behind what texture means what kind of cloud it is, but I am not a meteorologist, so I was thinking of the clouds in more artistic terms... that it would be really fun to create cloud textures :).

 The moon was in the sunset. This photo looks like a satellite photo to me :).

And then there was a really pretty thundercloud during the sunset...
...and I caught the cloud's lightning in the photo!!! I have tried this before with no success, and this is the only one of about ten attempts that I was able to capture it :).


It's amazing to me how quickly life can change. I feel like in the last 24 hours, I went through a time warp, a culture warp, a language warp, and a weather warp. That's a lot of warping for one person to do in 24 hours, but I make this warp every time I travel back and forth between Chicago and San José...

Time warp. There's no time change on the clock between the two cities (except during Chicago's Daylight Savings Time), so I guess it's better to describe the time warp as a couple decades or something. Fashion is even more 80s thrown in with today's fashion must-haves (think tight leggings with a hot pink shirt with matching shoes and hoop earrings). Technology is the same here but it's not as common... and maybe I feel like it's a time warp because I'm car-less again... so I feel 15 again, with the frustration of wanting to go places but no way to get there. Well, I always have the bus, but it's just not the same as having your own car.

Culture warp. I am quickly reminded that I am a minority while walking in the street. Conversation is slower as I say hello, ask how is your family, and what are your plans before I can get to my gringo point of the convo.

Language warp. English Spanish swap... a.k.a Spanglish on the brain. This one is hard to explain unless you have experienced it for yourself. It's like you forget words in the language you are speaking but you can remember the words in the language you are not supposed to be speaking... makes for an interesting conversation when you're trying to describe vocabulary without knowing the actual word (example: you might describe a gorilla as ''tall black monkey'')...

Weather warp. Cold, snowy winter to warm, sunny summer. I'll take a weather warp any Illinois winter day :).


Number 25!

Um... I'm not sure if I should be feeling old yet at 25... I mean, it is half of 50, lol. The good news is I just feel old when I'm sick and I haven't been sick very often these last 6 months, so I think I'm pulling through my 20s, haha.

I hadn't been home for my birthday in 7 years, so this was kind of a big deal. Kallie was home sick for the day so we watched an America's Next Top Model marathon (talk about culture shock for me...) and laughed at the girls' drama. Then we ate a Thanksgiving feast for dinner (not kidding -- turkey and potatoes and stuffing... YUM! Mom said we were making up for me not being stateside for the last two Thanksgivings).

 Austin and me with the cake and smoke :)
 Austin spelled ''25'' with candles... but there´s not 25 candles :)
Addy helped me open presents. Kallie made me promise to not put any photos on here of her bc she was sick, so I'm sticking to my promise... although I am tempted :)

All in all, a great day! Thanks to all for the emails, phone calls, and Facebook messages (new record! 141!! :)).


Top 25 Things to Do on Christmas Vacation (2010 edition :))

25. Apologize to my family and friends for not posting for nearly a month!!! (Sorry, I was on vacation! :))

 24. Review Central America geography from the plane window... I think the above photo is Belize (I think :)).

23. Enjoy my parents' warm fireplace and the huge Christmas tree.

 23. Realize that water towers are very commonplace in the U.S. Water towers are included in the 5th grade science curriculum for the water-cleansing process... but my students didn't know what water towers were! Now I have photos to show!

22. Eat mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, and ice cream to my heart's content :) (I think I gained 10 pounds, lol)

21. Enjoy catching up with Kewanee friends: Rosie, Chelsea, Erin, Lisa, Jori, Liz.... and Elgin friends: Chris&Christina, Sean, Ian, Natalie, Sarah, Brian, Jenny, JeanaLe, the Gum family, Aaron&Maria, Todd......... and Costa Rica friends that are now here in the States: Yoji, Tara, Tricia G., Eddie............

 20. Take photos of my beauuuutiful sister! Kallie is growing up really fast!

 19. Take silly photos with my siblings *at night*. Here Kallie is sitting on us :)

18. Google Spanish churches in the Elgin area, pick one, and visit on a Sunday morning. Translate for the gringo family sitting next to me.

 18. Christmas Day with the Siscoe grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I feel more like an aunt than a cousin to my youngest cousin Collin (in the red shirt on Austin's lap).

 17. Capture Dad's serious face. (You're welcome, Dad! :))

 16. Realize that Austin is taller than all of us, but Wes can still pick him up (sort of).

15. Stay warm with my new winter coat and boots (Thanks Mom! :)).

14. Sleep in... until 10 or 11 at least.

 13. Capture Mom's loud laugh in action, haha. :)

 12. Witness cousin Collin´s cake-eating skills at his first birthday party.

 11. Spend New Year's Eve dancing with Tricia Gaumer and brother Wes at Tricia´s sister Tori's wedding. Congrats Tori and Bobby!

 10. See Tara Reilly (who I met in Costa Rica at Sojourn Academy) at the New Year's wedding! Here we are wearing silly hats at midnight.

9. Cook for friends and family! Yuuuum :)
 8. Take Kallie to Chicago for free day at the Museum of Science and Industry.

 7. Say hello to Eddie (who I also met in Costa Rica) while in Chicago.

 6. Wonder how an airplane was maneuvered to move inside the building...

 5. Admire Kallie´s texting skills on her new phone... and borrow her phone for a few days to try out my own skills :) (Thanks, Kallie!)

 4. Visit my 5th graders' pen pals in Rockford, Illinois, and use a SmartBoard for the first time in my life in their classroom!

3. Campaign for a job in Elgin, Illinois, with classroom presentations and a day of resumé delivering (Pray for an opportunity to open up for next school year! ;))

2. Play in the snow for an afternoon with the Gum family. Abby and I buried ourselves in the snow. Don't worry, I stayed warm :).

1. And of course, enjoy being home with the other Siscoes! :) L2R: Kallie, Austin, Dad, Mom, Wes, me


Christmas Gifts!

Now that school is finished for the semester, I actually have time for packing and preparing for the blustery Chicago winds and good ol´ family time :). Here's a peek at my suitcase... all gifts! :)


Since moving to Escazú, I have 6 extra non-human roommates... dogs. Yup, that's right. 6 dogs.
Camila lives in the backyard. She loves to help during my attempts at pilates by sitting on my towel. The few times I have laid out in the sun, she comes and lays next to me... like, so close that she is touching me. When you are laying in the sun and already sweating, the last thing you want is a (smelly!) dog touching you. One time I was laying face-down while sunbathing, and she walked over and put her paw on the back of my head, letting me know she was ready for attention. I shoo-ed her away and she sneezed on my head!!! Ewwwwww.

Kuma also lives in the backyard. Don't get in the way when he's eating!! I think he's the strongest of the 6 as he could easily pushes me over when he jumps on me!

Negrito is the third member of the backyard club. He joined just a couple months ago and is very ... elderly. We thought he was going to die a couple weeks ago when he was panting and laying on the ground for days in a row... but now he's looking better, but still really thin.

Kiwi is spoiled... he lives in the house and eats the food scraps off the floor. When he wants attention, he also sits really close to your legs or licks your hand.

Tisha is also spoiled as she lives inside... She's the only one that I think doesn't like me.

And my favorite... Lua lives in the front yard. She greets me every time I come home with a big wet kiss. I attempted to play fetch with her once, but she demolished the tennis ball. She sleeps on a bench outside the kitchen window, so she keeps a close eye for available scraps.

From what I understand, most of my new roommates were homeless at one time... most were taken in from the street about 10 years ago. Negrito is the newest addition as he's only lived with us for a couple months.