Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall is here

We've had some lovely hot days here lately, but at night it gets chilly. With Halloween and Dia de los Muertos right around the corner, the grocery stores have brought out piles of pumpkins. I bought 1 1/2 pumpkins from a nearby store, and found out that the particular variety that I purchased has a rock-hard shell. A parent bought a 'normal' pumpkin for our classroom, so that's what we used in class for the various pumpkin activities that we did. The kids also painted mini pumpkins.

Last Saturday I spent considerable time cutting the flesh from the 1/2 pumpkin and boiling it down. To cut out the flesh, I had to fling the pumpkin on the floor several times and use a butcher knife to get through the shell. It was quite a workout!

On Sunday a week ago, Dios es Amor celebrated its seven-year anniversary as a church. It was quite a festive day. Two members of the youth group were baptized, and two couples who had been married for several years but wanted a church wedding exchanged vows again. After the service, we ate mole, rice, and beans and had cake for dessert. Many people stayed to help with the clean-up afterwards, but I still didn't get back home until 4:45.

My Thursday ESL class at my home was much calmer this time around. The two mothers from PCS couldn't come for their class at 5 and therefore their children also didn't come. The other students showed up around 6, we read a chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and then we began talking. All of us were tired, so soon we descended into a loopy mood where everything was funny, and we laughed and had silly conversation.

On Friday I didn't return to my apartment from school until after 9pm. It was the evening of Fun Fall Fest, PCS' alternative for Halloween. We prepared the school for games and food, and the kids returned with their families at 6 for the festival. It was very well attended. There were some times in the evening when I wanted to go from one room to another and simply couldn't get through the crowd. Everyone seemed to be having a great time too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Biblioteca Palafoxiana and more

What a week this has been! I'm so glad that I have absolutely no plans for tomorrow - other than the accumulated errands of a week. I think I'll be a hermit this evening and tomorrow. Truly I enjoyed the week, but I'm quite thoroughly tired too.

On Monday I was feeling well enough to teach, although some food poisoning was still holding on. After we'd had our staff meeting, I had my first English class with a 10 or 11 year old boy who goes to my church. He practiced reading out of one of the first graders' story books, recited colors, the alphabet, the days of the week and months of the year, and then began to name animals that I have in the classroom. He stayed with me from 1 o'clock (before my students get out of class) until 5:15, except for the time when I was in staff meeting.

Abraham finished his Spanish class with another PCS teacher at the same time, so we dropped Isai off at his bus, and then went over to my apartment to read from one of Abraham's homework books and eat dinner.

Immediately after school on Tuesday, Abraham came over, and we went downtown to see the incredible Biblioteca Palafoxiana which has free entry on Tuesdays. Photography is absolutely forbidden, even without flash, although I was allowed to take some flash-free pictures from outside the library. It's an amazing place! It dates from the 16 hundreds and contains thousands of dusty old tomes neatly ranked on ornate shelves. If you visit Puebla, stop in to the library in the Casa de la Cultura.

Like usual, the two of us headed out to Dios es Amor for Oansa on Wednesday night. In the youth group we're studying Hebrews, a book I find challenging to understand even in English.

Thursday afternoon was the third ESL class for friends from PCS and Dios es Amor. Two of the PCS teachers can't come at 6 (too late) and three of the other students can't come at 5(too early), so I started class with the three who could be there at five, reading the first chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The two teachers each have two children who came along; three are elementary students, and one is a high schooler.

Before the class began, I had hastily made a batch of cookies, but somehow they turned out as flat mush. It was tasty flat mush, so the kids were willing to eat it all, but the high school boy said severely,"Miss Greenlee, you need to learn how to make cookies better!" Half kidding I said, "Well, why don't you show me how it's done?" And just like that, he and the other boy decided they would make some cookies for the class. Little did I know they'd never baked before...

As the English learners read page by page and asked vocabulary questions, the sounds of the cookie mixer and periodic questions from the new bakers interspersed the reading. The boys took me seriously when I said to grease the cookie sheets well: they must have emptied half a can of Pam spray on one sheet!

At six o'clock, the other three students arrived. We hadn't gotten very far in the reading, so I gave them the chapter photocopies, and they caught up reading silently. From then on it was a regular zoo of adults, one teen, and children. The two bakers produced pancake-flat chocolate oatmeal cookies that everyone promptly devoured. At 7:30, we'd finished all the cookies and two chapters of the book. Everyone but Abraham left, and quiet descended for the first time in 2 1/2 hours.

In first and second grade, we've been talking about bones, and yesterday in class the kids made pasta skeletons. It's a craft that takes quite a bit of time to make, but it turns out well and does help reinforce the vocabulary that I'm teaching the kids. It also is fun, which doesn't hurt anything.

This week went more smoothly with the little 'penguin.' He seems to have gotten the idea that finishing his work on time in class is a good idea. Wednesday he tied his shoe laces together, and when I asked him why, he said, "I'm helping you, teacher. I stay in my seat better when the laces are tied!" What good logic.

Monday, October 13, 2008

food poisoning

It has struck again. I don't know what I ate this time, but whatever it was, it didn't agree with me. On Saturday night I woke up feeling queezy, so I took some alarmingly pink pepto bismol and returned to bed. Sunday morning I still felt a bit nauseated, but not too bad, so I decided to go to church. Halfway through the first hymn however, I felt light-headed and sat down. As soon as I could stand, I left the sanctuary and went into the kitchen where Six made some chamomile tea for me and then made sure I could safely climb the winding stairs to Janelle's apartment where I slept away the rest of the service time. Janelle was driving into town after church, so she took me home, and I went straight to bed.

Bless his kind heart, after returning from an afternoon at Huejotzingo, Abraham came by the apartment to see how I was feeling. He stayed for awhile, and we passed the time chatting.

The rest of the week before was fine. Things are up and down and uneven with my little 'penguin' - sometimes he works hard on his schoolwork, and sometimes he sits and sings loudly and eats pencils. I hope there's a general improving trend, but really it's hard to tell.

I've been enjoying lots of time with Abraham lately. We spent time together after his Spanish class with another PCS teacher on Monday, went out to Oansa at church on Wednesday and then returned together, had ESL class at my house and then he stayed for awhile after that, walked over to my flute class at the seminary on Friday and then watched Wall-e together afterwards. On Saturday we went downtown all afternoon and had dinner at El Balcon and then watched the free Puebla Nights dancing at the Casa de la Cultura. Lots of fun!

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Sorry, no pictures this week. I can't think how that happened - I did take some pictures of the kids doing a fudge experiment that is supposed to show the difference between igneous rocks that cool quickly and those that cool slowly, but I didn't take any pictures I could post, and besides, someone is borrowing my camera right now, so even those pictures are unavailable.

This was one looooong week. It wasn't even that it was a bad week, just unending. Yesterday was difficult at school because my little "penguin" didn't want to do his work in class. Near the end of the morning, he began to cry - and this child can cry! He can literally make the front of his shirt wet from his tears, and this trick he can produce at the drop of a hat. So anyway, I was at the back table working with the second reading group while the first group did their printing. The other two boys finished their printing and began to play.

The tears began. "It's too hard! I can't do this!" said the boy. Never mind he had done the exact same words the two previous days... He spent the next half-hour soaking his shirt. Wow.

I started the ESL class for friends from Dios es Amor and from PCS this last Thursday. Two of the people who want to come couldn't make it this Thursday but will come next week. Two others never confirmed with Abraham, so they might show up next week, and one other seemed interested but didn't actually show up. As a result, my friend Yeimy and mi novio Abraham were the only ones who came. We chatted in English, drank tea, and ate too many chocolate chip cookies.

Today was the rappelling trip for the junior and senior high students and whichever teachers wanted to go. I went last year and had fun, so I signed up again this time, but when I woke up this morning, I had no interest in spending the day with students. Instead I passed the day largely at home, house cleaning, cooking, gardening, painting, and then doing some grocery shopping. That leaves lesson planning for tomorrow after church.