Sunday, January 30, 2011

Butterfly in the Sky

and now it's time for a book recommendation!

While my January attempt at reading Love in the Time of Cholera was starting to look like it would take more than 100 years of solitude, today I was able to pick up and re-read this book in only a couple of hours.

I first read this book before my return trip to Sierra Leone. While reading it then for SL was helpful, my real aha! moment came when I realized why living in Alabama was such a foreign experience. The author, who has lived in a combination of European, American, South American, and Middle Eastern cultures, outlines that people generally fall into two groups:

Hot-climate cultures and cold-climate cultures.

Those favoring "Hot" tend to be all about the group, are relationally focused, indirect communicators, as well as several other things.

Those favoring "Cold" tend to prize individualism, are task-driven, very direct communicators, as well as several other things.

Each of these broad cultural approaches brings with it many good things, however miscommunication and the fall-out from this abounds when cultures who do not understand each other mix.

For example, I can identify mostly with cold-cultural traits, but the U.S. "South" is mostly a "hot" culture. AHA!

This time as I reread Foreign to Familiar, however, I was reading for more than nostalgically diagnosing my differences with our southern countrymen. This summer I am preparing to go back to Sierra Leone to work with the national teachers there. This time leading the team. And since it's been a long year and a half since I was there, I wanted to spend some time reading and reflecting about how to use the cultural differences God has blessed us with to best communicate and help each other and help the Sierra Leonean children. But all this deserves its own post.

For now- know this. If you travel for service, business, or pleasure internationally or work with people from different cultures nationally, read. this. book. Especially if you like to see lightbulbs popping up above your head. And recommend it to your international friends. This book equally explains both sides of the cultural coin.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ah, ha, ha, ha

Thought you should know:

The fish are still breathing via their gills.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Spoiled Happy

This month has been amazing! My dear friend, Sarah, has returned from working with teachers in Sierra Leone and has been gracing us with her presence in Denver during January. It has been wonderful to have good talks without resorting to book-length emails or Skype calls that average 5 - 10 disconnects per conversation. And it has been so good to talk about Sierra Leone together.

It has been great to have some college friend time too. I have some pretty amazing friendships that began in undergrad and that have just grown over the years. Some of us JBUers went out to hike in Boulder on Saturday. We also hit up the Celestial Seasonings factory for some free tea. If you weren't with us- we missed you!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Repeat After Me...

Fish are friends. Not food.

Day one with pets was a success. They went into the aquarium at 1:30. When I left at 3:30, they were still alive. We'll know more come Monday. Until then, let's hope they don't plan any great escapes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tomorrow Could Be Bad


Tomorrow is the day when live animals are entering my room, specifically fish. I have made it five and 1/2 years into teaching without having to deal with "pets" but that stops tomorrow.

I am freaked out.

They're fish you say. Yes, and I didn't even keep my cats.

But fish are low maintenance you retort. Yes, and they probably die easily.

Folks, there is a reason I have been a "No Pet Zone." When my students in the past have said, "Second grade has baby chicks." or "But they have a hamster up in fourth grade," I have replied with a "Won't that be fun when you get there" line.

Basically, I like to avoid the topic of death in Kindergarten. And having no pets greatly helps that plan.

However, the science curriculum calls for it. The fish are out in the hallway til tomorrow.

At least it's still a day away.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Settlers is a Gateway Drug, And I'm a Closet Game Nerd

First of all, it's only fair to credit the brother-in-law with the first half of my title, and Eric with the second.

Also, this post is being inspired by one of my best friends, Julie, who is currently a little bit (or a lot a bit) of a sickie down in Nicaragua. Please lift her up in prayer as you read about it here.

Julie is an amazing friend for many reasons (as is her husband Chase), and while I won't go into a litany as to why right now, one of their awesome qualities is their love of games. I mean they're even playing games in the hospital. Love. It.

Basically over the past 6ish years, any slightly off the beaten path game I have come to know and love has been introduced by them or has connections to them. And while, Settlers has become mainstream (seriously- I saw it at Target!), it is the grandfather of all my enjoyment of future games that have followed it. Here are a few of my favorites.... what should I add to the list?


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Well At Least I Made It Before the Wisemen

I was chastised the other day for my lack of consistent blogging. True. This is one of the many reasons I have friends for accountability.

So- back to Christmas.

We left on Christmas Eve for the beauty of the Red Rock country to spend Christmas with my grandparents. We left early in the morning and were rewarded with making it to their church's Christmas Eve service. I felt that this holiday season just rushed by and that I had missed out on all the Christmas hymns and songs that I love. Denver- I love you- but in addition to need Half- Price Books, Trader Joes, and good Tex-Mex, you also seriously need a Christmas music station. That rushed feeling, in combination with a random smattering of Christmas celebrations at odd times (Monday morning anyone?), left Christmas day anticlimactic.

So good thing we had this for our view-

This kind of beauty always puts things in perspective.

We did return from a Christmas Day walk to see Ella getting a nice bath. My Grandpa is the best- hands down.

We attempted to return the favor by getting some computer work done (re: Eric) and some closet cleaning out done (re: Nicole). I got to put to use my new closet cleaning skills I developed when we dug into our own master closet last month.

Closets. sigh. It was amazing to me the amount of stuff I have accumulated by my (hold on while I can) mid-20s. We still have 2 to go. Both of which are still disaster zones. And then I need to take that skill and hone it in my classroom. Does anyone else hear me on this?

Christmas vacation ended in a bit of a rush. I have a new, deeper appreciation for Colorado Dept. of Transportation after traveling the snowy highways of our Southern sister states. Ella, like Pigpen, is once again dirty. I guess my grandparents will just have to come visit us :)

Monday, January 10, 2011


When I married Eric, I got an additional bonus. I got his family. Coming from a two-sibling crew, I was simultaneously overwhelmed and in awe of his much larger family size. In addition to the classic (insert last name) trait of being opinionated, they are also gracious, giving, and like board games. Very important. Eric's family is all spread out- or rather Eric and I are spread out from them- so with all the wedding shenanigans it's been fun to see all of them multiple times this fall and winter. All the fam converged in the great state of Texas this weekend to finish the wedding celebration. But sadly, it's now back to the reality of the great American Live spread out across the country act.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

And We're Back

Due to an inservice on Tuesday, today was my first day back with my class of kindergartners. When I first began teaching Kindergarten, I was let in on a little secret which has proven over and over again to be very true-

Santa Claus brings them brains for Christmas.

Now I don't know if it's old St. Nick or their transition from Piaget's pre-operational to logical thinking, but it's fun to see them take-off. We had a good first day back, in which they were good until 10:30, took a break from good behavior until about 1:30, and then ended the day well. To celebrate the beginning of semester two, I'll leave you with the highlights from my day:

Two students fell out of their chair- separate incidents. Their chairs weren't moving. They were both stationary when it happened.

"Did you know, teacher, that I am a reader?"

In anguish, "We forgot about Writing!" This lamentation was made during Center time after a long introduction into modeling our new writing unit.

"Oh s*?>." This little tidbit came from a formerly unaware student who noticed today when he bumped another student. Is it bad that I was happy to hear him noticing?

"Did you get us another surprise?" Surprises for today were as follows: new crayons and pencils, new books to read, and book boxes. How I love their excitement for everything!

And we'll end with my personal favorite-

"You know, teacher, it's okay if drawing a sandwich is hard for you. It's tricky." And here I thought it was looking halfway decent!