Saturday, February 23, 2008


We played soccer again today. Such fun! Lately the weather has been quite hot during the day - in the 80's. Since we start playing at noon - not my idea - that means we're out in the blazing sun for as long as it takes for us to get too tired to move. It also means sunburn, and I'm going to have to figure out how to prevent that. Apparently applying sunscreen 1/2 hour before playing isn't good enough, because I'm red, red, red.

Did any of you see the lunar eclipse on Wednesday? I taught my students a short lesson about eclipses during the day, and some of them stayed up long enough to see the moon fully eclipsed. In the evening, OANSA and the classes afterward ended as the eclipse was partially underway, and by the time we'd returned home, we only had to stay outside a few minutes to see the moon covered totally.

This week I also started teaching the kids about the water cycle. It's review for some of them. When I was in student teaching, my master teacher took her kids outside to "paint" with water. As it evaporated, she asked them what they thought was happening. What a great introduction! I "stole" the idea. When the kids began complaining that they couldn't finish their pictures, because the water was disappearing, one of the girls said, "That's the whole point, isn't it Miss Greenlee?" And another girl said, "It's called evaporation!" It's always fun when the kids can come up with the vocabulary on their own.

I had three quiet evenings in the apartment this week. How unusual! It was pleasant to have the time just to sit and read.

Friday, February 15, 2008

past 100 days

We all had fun in class Monday. It was one of those days when teaching is just the most enjoyable activity ever. Because it was the 100th day of school, we spent the class time doing all 100-related things. The kids made necklaces with 100 fruit loops. They put together 100 piece puzzles in groups, made trail mix with exactly 100 items, guessed which glass had 100 raisins in it, estimated how far 100 inches went and then measured, told about the 100 items they'd brought in, and came up with math problems equaling 100. At the end of the day, though they had actually done many academic things, several of the kids commented to me or their parents, "We didn't actually have school today. We just played." Would that every day so packed with learning could receive the same comment!

Wednesday night Dios es Amor hosted a party for el dia de amor y amistad - Valentine's Day. The youth was in charge, and although we'd planned ahead as well as we could, there were moments of sheer chaos. Many more really young children came than we'd expected, and some of them came without parents. Still, on the whole it went well. Somewhere around 100 people came, and we had plenty of games and food to go around.

On Thursday many of my students brought gifts and cards, and with all the sugar soon coursing through their veins, keeping the lid on their excitement took some doing. In the afternoon they came over to my apartment to make cupcakes to give to someone they loved. It'll be awhile before they bake at my place again...

In the evening Bethany, Janelle, Kara, and I went out to eat at an Italian pizza place. It was very good pizza, and we enjoyed ourselves with chatter, singing, and laughter. After pizza we still had room for ice cream at an heladeria within walking distance from home. It was a mild evening, and we continued walking for awhile after we'd eaten.

All week long students and teachers at PCS could buy roses for the seniors to deliver on Friday. Roses were to be delivered Friday night at the murder mystery dinner, except the elementary students had theirs delivered in the afternoon since they weren't invited to the dinner. I bought one rose for each of my students, and they were brought in while the kids were at PE. Upon returning, one of my girls saw her rose on her desk and didn't see the note that came with it. "What is this?" She asked with some disgust, "I don't want it!" She handed it to me, "Here Miss Greenlee. You take it." Well, I guess if I'm back next year and have her in class, I'll know she's not one for roses!

The PCS student council put a ton of work into developing the murder mystery dinner for PCS jr. and sr. high students, staff, and families. They decorated rooms to be different countries, put together clue books, made passports for all the "detectives", and arranged for people to bring appetizers or desserts for each room. We converged on the school at 6, and the clue hunt around the world began soon after. It was elaborate and well thought out. The murderer turned out to be one of the people on my team. Just goes to show you can't trust an honest-looking Bible teacher!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

¡Gloria a Dios!

Thursday night Janelle and I spent several hours in the evening making 100 cupcakes for the Valentine's Day party at church. The youth is in charge of the event, and Janelle and I are the most experienced cooks among the group. Yesterday Janelle took all the cupcakes out to church when she went to work, and in the evening the rest of us went there to a frosting party. Some of the frosting designs call for a great deal of imagination on the part of the viewer. Flower? Heart? Fish? It was kind of hard to tell what they were. After we'd finished frosting, most of us went outside to play basketball - rules according to Dios es Amor. No one in the States would recognize the game as basketball, but who cares? We laugh more than anything else and have a great deal of fun with the game.

Today at noon Bethany and I joined three other PCS teachers to play soccer against 5 PCS students. For awhile we held our own, and the score remained tied, but then the students began to dominate. We reshuffled teams after the score reached something like 12 - 4 and played until everyone felt too exhausted to move. By then it was almost time for me to go back home anyway for my appointment.

I have finally been to the dentist. Until today, I hadn't been to one for at least 6 years, and I was afraid to go after so long. However, since one of the uncles of a friend is a highly recommended dentist, I made the New Year's resolution to go. It took me almost two months, but finally Janelle, another PCS teacher, and I got together and taxied out to the dentist. The other PCS teacher went first, and I sat tense on the couch, trying to block out the awful whine of the machine - tooth cleaning? drilling? - I didn't know, but the sound is enough to make me want to run for the hills.

My turn came, and I reclined in the dental chair, mouth open, while the dentist poked around. I practically held my breath. How many cavities after so much time? All the negative anticipation for nothing praise God! No cavities and only a little cleaning necessary. My whole appointment probably lasted 20 minutes tops, and cost nothing, because this dentist works for free for friends, family, and people in ministry. Hallelujah!

One of the best parts of this whole thing is that my lesson planning is already done. Knowing I'd be spending time at the dentist, and not knowing how long the time would be, I stayed late Friday and completed next week's plans. Planning for Monday was easy, since it's the 100th day of school, and there are lots of good 100th day activities for 1st and 2nd graders.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Veracruz - a three day weekend.

What a fun weekend! Living in the mountains, I miss the beach and the warmth of sea level.

We set off at 7:30 Saturday morning for the 4 1/2 hour drive to Veracruz. At first the drive was fine, and as we got within a few hours of our destination, the scenery filled with the lush greenery of banana and orange groves. The scenery remained lovely, but some of the children of the teachers began to tire of the van and became increasingly argumentative and loud.

When we arrived at 12:30 at the hotel, everyone piled out of the van in relief and lugged our baggage to our rooms. Soon most of the people began swimming in the ocean. Tired of people, I opted for a peaceful walk on the beach. I was also just plain tired, because I'd gotten very little sleep Friday night - an ATM machine malfunctioned and ate my card at 9:30pm, and taking care of the problem took a very long time.

After walking for awhile, I lazed in the sun by the hotel pool, revelling in being truly warm for almost the first time since moving to Puebla (yes, it's warm outside in Puebla these days, but the buildings never seem to warm up). A rowdy game of 500 in the pool kept me from sleeping there, so after I'd soaked up enough sun, I joined in the noisy chaos.

After awhile everyone tired of 500, so some of us decided to play Apples to Apples until dinner. There was serious hilarity over that game! The smell of grilled burgers called us back outside, and after we'd eaten, several of us started a game of keep-away soccer on the beach. We couldn't play on the sand for long, because the dark came, and we couldn't see the ball. Moving up to the hotel lawn didn't help much, because the grass had nasty burrs, and most of us were either bare-footed or wearing flip-flops. Still, a few of us with flip-flops kept playing, stopping periodically to remove burrs from our feet before resuming keep-away.

Sunday morning began with a breakfast of pancakes grilled outside and freshly squeezed orange juice. You can't get better than that! Veracruz oranges squeezed right there at the beach... Blueberry pancakes...Mmm. When we'd eaten, we gathered on the sand for a church service.

After service, ten of us who wanted to go on a swamp tour gathered. Our guide first stopped at his home where we had the option of buying baby crocodiles. For some reason none of us bought any. Can't think why. Anyway, each car picked up a guide, and we turned off onto the bumpy backroads that wound through cow pastures (and plenty of cow pies).

Walking from where we'd parked, we soon reached the swamp. There were boats that sat three, plus the guide. Each guide had a long forked pole that he thrust into the swamp bottom or the banks to propel us along through gnarly trees, piles of duck weed and lilies, and fallen logs. It wasn't very comforting to think of meeting full grown crocodiles as we sat low in the water in the slim boats. The only crocs we saw were babies, but our guide assured us that the mother was hiding under the tree as well, and that she was probably 2 meters long. Well, as far as I was concerned, she could stay hiding!

The tour ended early afternoon, and most of us returned to the hotel where we chose the refreshment of the chilly ocean and the fun of boogie boards in the decently large waves. Soon the group moved back to the pool and another game of 500 which I took zillions of pictures of rather than playing.

Following a dinner of grilled chicken fajitas, a few people chose to play Dutch Blitz rather than watch the Super Bowl. We played teams, and one of my second graders was my teammate. It was her first time playing, and she said she loved it. While some people played, others watched the Super Bowl, but once the football game ended, everyone quickly cleared out for bed. We were exhausted from so much vacationing.

Monday went much like Sunday except there was no service or swamp tour, just lots of swimming in both the pool and the ocean, and for me, some soccer. I dribbled the ball by the waves and tried to keep it from being caught in the water, then later one of the students kicked the ball back and forth with me for awhile before we had to pack up and leave.

The return trip went smoothly except that we got a bit misplaced which added an hour to the drive. We stopped and bought huge bags of Veracruz oranges and orange blossom honey as our souvenirs before leaving the state. In a little over a month we'll be back there, but this time with the whole junior high and high school.