Thursday, April 24, 2008

paper making at school

When we went on a field trip last week, one of the kids' favorite stations was the paper-making table. We found out it's extremely easy to make recycled paper, and we also found out it's extremely easy to collect more than enough paper to make our own at school. For one week we kept all scraps, and then on Wednesday, the kids had the supreme fun of tearing all that paper into shreds that we then put into a tub of water.

A few hours later, the paper was soggy enough to start blending. Each child scooped some of the squishy mess into the blender.

After the paper was pulverized, they dumped it into a large tub with more water.

They then scooped out a layer of pulp, using a stretched-out metal hanger with panty-hose fastened over it. Laying the hanger face-down on a dish rag, they sponged off the excess water. After they'd dried it enough, they removed the hanger, leaving a layer of paper to dry on the rag. We'll use this new paper to make Mother's Day cards.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the war is on!

So, as I mentioned, the bedbugs returned. Tuesday afternoon I took 'em on again. I'm getting to be quite an expert at this whole bug war. It finally occurred to me that if I wore rubber gloves, my hands wouldn't get as boiled by the scalding water I use from the shower for washing the bedding. Still, there are some things that I haven't mastered. For example...

If you are going to put your pillows in the oven to try to kill bedbug eggs, take them out before they burn...

I have yet to figure out how to wash bedding in a trunk in a small shower without flooding the floor.

I also didn't have time to wash the bedding and my pajamas before late afternoon, so that night I slept in my swim suit, with a large blanket half underneath me and half over me. The next day I had no time to take down the laundry from the line before going to church, and it rained while I was at church, so I still didn't get to put my bed back together. Well, at least I haven't been bitten again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


They're back. I have to spray the room and hand wash the bedding in scalding water. Again. Well, at least I had one week of peace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How things pile up

What a week this has been! I'm happy to say that tomorrow I have absolutely no plans. None. Wow!

Monday as usual I taught my little ones and then had staff meeting until 4. My Spanish lessons start at 4, and they usually last until some time after 8. Monday's always a long day. It became much longer this week, because most of the PCS teachers met at 9 for a prayer time. The father of one of our seniors has been seriously ill for a long time, and it looked Monday like he might not last the night. At this point he is still alive, but in fragile condition, and he has been moved to the hospital. Please pray for him and his family.

In a normal week, Tuesday is more tranquil than Monday. Not so this time. After school and yearbook until 4, I returned home to tackle the spraying and bedclothes scalding against the bedbugs (or at least probably) that had been chewing on me again for a few weeks. Since our wash machine doesn't have hot water and is on the roof so hauling hot water isn't an option, I turned the apartment's heater up to boiling and commandeered one of my large plastic trunks for laundry duty. Have you ever hand washed two sets of sheets - one of them flannel - and three fleece blankets, plus two mattress covers in scalding shower water in a plastic trunk? Let me tell you, it's quite an undertaking. Both the bathroom and I were soaked by the time I completed the chore.

When Janelle returned from church, she started making a huge batch of cookies for the youth from Dios es Amor to sell for a fund raiser. Meanwhile I went grocery shopping and then returned to help with the cookies. The cookies, by the way, were a wild success, so it looks like Tuesday cookie-making is now a feature.

Wednesday was the truly wild day. Along with two parents, I took my students to a botanical garden expo at one of the local universities. It was a hot day, and some of the kids began to complain early on about being tired, hot, hungry, and bored. The were, however, fascinated by the paper-making station where they could use paper pulp to make new paper. Unfortunately, some of them didn't get to make paper, and those that did make paper didn't get theirs, because someone else took the paper. We will be making paper in class next week though, so everyone was mollified.

When we returned to school at 3:30, I hurried back home, because Abraham usually comes by at 4:30 on the way to the bus to get to Awana at Dios es Amor. Once we reached the church, the pastor's wife asked me to take over the class of the youngest kids, because their regular teacher was at a funeral. There were somewhere between 10 and 13 kids, and a couple of them really had no interest in obeying my directions. I was glad when class ended a bit after 7 and I could join the youth group class.

Thursday, when I had my PCS students make posters about the field trip, it seemed they had all had a marvelous time in spite of the complaining. They also had plenty to tell me when I asked for notes about trip. I guess it was a successful day after all.

Thursday night our neighboring teachers joined Janelle and I for dinner. We all contributed to make tostadas and had a fun time laughing and talking the evening away.

Friday afternoon I tried calling Cal State Long Beach about two of the classes I need to take. When I'd tried calling earlier in the week, the vonage phone wasn't working. When I called Friday, I found out the office I needed is only open Monday through Thursday. The "comedy" continues.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coexisting in the lung

This week after school almost every day, my sister Joy and I have gone out and about. We've been all over downtown Puebla and to Cholula. We also went to PCS' Root Beer Barrel Cafe on Thursday night. On Friday night we happened across a free Requiem concert performed by the BUAP choir and youth in Puebla's zocalo cathedral. It was absolutely beautiful. Tomorrow we'll see if we can leave her suitcase in airport lockers and stroll around Mexico City before her flight in the evening.

This is a steep set of under-pyramid stairs in Cholula.

Here I am, still under the pyramid.

This is at the top of a partial re-creation of the pyramid in Cholula.

The pyramids that I've been to so far in Mexico specialize in extremely short, steep stairs.

I had no idea I owned a shop on Avenida Cinco de Mayo in Puebla City.

This cathedral statue has a (live) bird he likes to hold.

Here Joy and I are "coexisting in the lung."

Because the photo is smallish, it's fairly hard to read this partial description of the Parque Ecologico. Try to read it. Vale la pena.
The "lung" has an aviary which also has a wandering iguana.

In the parque, there are several playgrounds, one of which has stylized stone sea animals.

I include this picture because we used my camera's 10-second timer quite a bit, and it was amusing to see what happened when I mistook the setting and put 2 instead.

Here's with the correct 10-second setting. We're posing with the Hombre Azul in the San Fransisco garden, one of the few places in the city with green grass right now (it's been a long time since it rained much, although actually it did rain this afternoon).

Here I'm climbing the walls in San Fransisco. There was a ladder, so why not?

There's this legend of the China Poblana that floats around here, and we tried to find out why. I still don't know. Wikipedia is of the opinion she became popular because of her clothing.

More entertaining English...

We found the strong silent type in the governor's palace in the Zocalo.

P.S. We successfully left Joy's baggage at the airport lockers and easily found the right metro to take - with, of course, the help of airport employees. As a result, we were able to spend a few hours in Mexico City. One of the most interesting parts was finding that the zocalo was in use for an enormous anti-privatizing-gas rally with thousands of people. It was absolutely packed in the zocalo.
We ate lunch in a tunnel - a long skinny restaurant wedged in an alley. The food was terrific.

After going through the extremely crowded Ashes and Snow museum in the zocalo, we wandered some more streets and found a university museum.

We took a whirl-wind tour through a couple rooms of the Cultural Museum. Confucius greeted us in the China room.

Friday, April 4, 2008

bread, universities, and house cleaning

Well, the chicks didn't hatch. Not one of them. By the time they'd been in the classroom for 21 days, about half the school knew about them and came in to check their progress. Therefore it wasn't only me and the 1st and 2nd graders who felt disappointment over the flop. However, hope springs eternal, and I'll be buying more eggs Sunday to set Monday. And so the waiting begins again.

In anticipation of the hatching that the eggs were supposed to do this week, I read The Little Red Hen to my kids, and they wrote and illustrated their own versions of the story. The same day, we made bread in the class using a recipe I found online. It was a smashing success.

Less successful was my attempt that afternoon to find the third class that I need to take to renew my credential before June 2009. A month ago I tried calling a bunch of So. Cal. universities to see if they had the class I needed in the summer. The response I received was a surprised, "We don't have the summer catalog yet." Silly me. Why would anyone call in February about summer classes?

Phone calls this Thursday afternoon were only slightly more effective. In fact, I only tried contacting two schools, a task that took about an hour. The first school had a long answering machine message which boiled down to "we are on spring break this week." Calling the next university, my call was transfered 6 times (including to the science department when someone misheard my question) before reaching the department that may have been able to answer my question, only no one answered. I looked online and found out that they wouldn't be offering the class I needed anyway.

I called back the first university, and finally someone actually answered. She told me to look online for the class, so I did. I found one that may be right, but I couldn't tell because the title of the class had no vowels in it, so I could only guess at what it was, and there was no class description. When I called again, the same lady said the class description was online but in a different place. I couldn't find it. I called back. She said it was there, and finally guided me through a maze of university pages to the correct place.

Now I'm waiting on my adviser at Biola to tell me if the course description is acceptable to them. If it is, I can go ahead with applying to Cal State Dominguez Hills for the missing class. If it's not, then I have to continue on the adventure of calling or searching online for it. Oh so fun.

On a much happier note, my sister is flying in tomorrow to visit for slightly over a week. She'll be the only one from my family to come this year, and it'll be great to have her here. I'll be taking the bus to Mexico City to pick her up tomorrow afternoon. Actually, my roommate has a friend visiting who's arriving at D.F. the same time almost. Janelle and I have cleaned house in preparation. For all of next week there will be four people living here.