Friday, December 28, 2012

Days 74-80

Day 74: Try duck pizza
Oh goodness it was probably the most awful thing I have tasted in a long time. Don't ask me how we made the mistake of not realizing how strange it might be. But when Gretchen tasted it, she said it tasted like 'jello'. I knew I wasn't imagining the awful texture in my mouth. It was confirmed.

Post duck pizza.... yes we are still smiling.

Day 75: Teach Radi and Magdiel the words to "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida

We stopped and rewound the song more than enough times, but the best part came when they said "Oh wow it says Wild Ones".... yes it does! I love learning a new language and watching others do it as well.

Day 76: Play secret Santa with my family, Magdiel and Radi.
We decided to play secret Santa or amigo secreto, since this was our first Christmas with non-family members. So we pulled names and then each giggled and akwardly looked around, not wanting to give away our person.
But my dad immediately pulls me aside and asks, "What does Magdiel want?"  well, that secret was ruined. Then as my dad walks out of the room, my mom points to my dad and whispers, "I have dad.". Oh jeez, so much for secret Santa. I was hoping the boys could keep their secrets better than my parents.
So Magdiel, Radi and I head out for the mall, as we were driving, they asked me to tell them 4 things my mom, dad and myself would want for Christmas. So I start with my dad and Magdiel is acting like he has my dad, when I know perfectly well my mom has him. Then I begin to say what my mom would want and I mention lotion. Radi then chimes in "What smell does your mom like?" hahaha oh really Radi, who might your secret Santa be? I tell him she loves Gardenia. But lost in translation, he thinks I say Gardening. Oh English language learners.
When we arrive at the mall, we go our separate ways, but I knew I was bound to run into the boys sooner or later. Unfortunately, I was buying Magdiel's present for my dad and as I rounded the corner in Aldo I almost run right into Magdiel. I instantly knew he had me for secret Santa (he was looking at women's shoes). He just looks at me with desperation and says, "Help me, you are such a difficult woman." So eloquently put my love.
I won't go into the details, but 4 stores and countless back and forth's later, he decided on a gift for me. I wish I wasn't so picky, but I told him, would you rather your gift go in the back of the closet? Or would you rather me actually like it?
Point taken.

Day 77: Learn how to make Pan de Pan
This is a traditional Honduran dessert that Magdiel and his family make each year during Christmas. So Magdiel wanted to share one of his family traditions with us.
So Magdiel, Radi and I went to the grocery store and immediately I am curious about the recipe, it called for 2 cups of vanilla extract..... what? 2 cups?  How is this possible? But who am I to question. It is not my recipe.
Anyway our team effort, led the three of us to make the dessert together. Radi was in charge of carmelizing the sugar, I was in charge of mixing the bread and milk and Magdiel beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together.
And yes there is almost 2 cups of vanilla extract in this recipe. It caused me a bit of confusion when Magdiel said 2 cups, but who am I to question Magdiel on how to make a traditional Honduran dessert. But don't get me wrong, I definitely questioned it. Oh man, was it was delicious!!

Day 78/79: Share my family's Christmas traditions with Magdiel and Radi.
Christmas Eve posole with family and friends and 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve church service.

The posole ready to be eaten.

Christmas cookies to feed an army!

Magdiel, Radi and I hanging out before the party.

One of my favorite families, the Cloaks, who came over to celebrate with us.

Christmas day omelets and presents, while listening to Steve Wonder's Christmas album
The boys chopping vegetables for the omelets.

My dad and Magdiel working together.

Go Magdiel, beat those eggs. ;)

Now it's present time!!
Magdiel got a backpack from his secret Santa.

My mom got lotion, Gardenia

Radi got Coke and Red Bull from his secret Santa, hahaha his favorite.

My dad got an ipad!!

Fun times with my family, Magdiel and Radi for Christmas

Day 80: Jumping pictures at 10,378 feet
It was a staple move that Kristin and I did in Central America, but we never did it on top of a mountain... Here was my chance.
So I decided to take the boys up the Sandia Tramway, the longest tramway in the world.  

Just about to head up the mountain.

The other side of Sandia, with the moon and the snow. So beautiful.

Sweet love

Radi and Magdiel catching the last bit of the sunset at 10,378 feet.

Look at the view!! Magnificent

Jump Magdiel, jump!

Radi and Magdiel jumping at each other.

Jump babe!

Last picture on the mountain! Good-bye wind and freezing temperatures.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 65-73

Day 65: Make Christmas stalkings for my new apartment.
A little bit of puffy paint, a hot glue gun and a glass of wine and stalkings were made. :)

Day 66: Share a meal with a few disabled gentlemen.
I got the pleasure of meeting Jim and Richard at Magdiel's host families house. Jim, unfortunately had multiple strokes, which left him paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak more than a few words at a time. Jim's first sentence to me was "Very pretty." Such a sweet moment for me. Richard is mentally challenged and has a very short term memory. But he managed to tell me all about his birds (I later realized they are not "his" birds, they are the birds in the park).
They are both very sweet and it was so nice chatting with them. They requested steak since their nursing home doesn't give them steak. Wow, they sure gobbled up the steak. It was a very special moment to share with them.

Day 67: Watch one of my students perform in the Nutcracker
Janis, Jenna, Ellie, Hector and myself after Ellie's performance.


Day 68: Go to a new state... Wyoming
Okay, okay, it was day two of watching the Nutcracker, but who's counting? This time I got to go all the way to Wyoming to see my little cousin perform. She did a wonderful job!
Madison and I after her performance

Day 69: Go to church with Magdiel's host family and help them decorate their Christmas tree while drinking Egg Nog
Magdiel and I decorating the tree.

.
Radi, Magdiel and I enjoying the decorating.


Day 70: Save a life, the spider in my classroom 
In Honduras, I was a spider crusher, bug crusher, if it was moving I was attemping to crush it. But this day I felt like saving this little spider's life. Except, it did send my students into a tizzy. I scooped it onto a book and all I hear from my students "I am never reading that book AGAIN!" A little dramatic if I say so. So after I put it on the windowsill to go outside. I sat my students down (at this point you would have thought there were 500 spiders still in our classroom by their reactions) and told them how I used to teach in a classroom with spiders, cockroaches, beetles, you name it, there was all kinds of bugs in my classroom. This almost sent them over the edge. They couldn't believe that I used to be in a classroom with so many bugs. My little gangster children afraid of spiders. They are probably more afraid of spiders than guns.... no joke.

Day 71: Drink hot cocoa and help decorate Avery's first Christmas tree
Jaiden and I enjoying our hot cocoa, while little man tries to take the cups from our hands.

Day 72: Help Magdiel write his graduation speech
I think I have found my calling, writing. I love to put thoughts and feelings into words on paper. So Magdiel asked me to help him with his speech for his graduation, which I was so excited to do. But with two educated people, one a native English speaker and the other a native Spanish speaker. We were bound to run into problems. I am pretty sure my roommate was just looking at us like we were crazy, with all our bickering about what to put in the speech.

Day 73: Celebrate Magdiel's graduation
Radi, Magdiel and I :)

Sweet love



Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 57-63

Don't worry my friends, I have not stopped doing my activities. But keeping up with my blog has taken a backseat. Sorry friends!!

But don't worry there is always more!

Day 57: Give parent conferences in Spanish
If you would have asked me a year ago to do it, I would have said no, there is no way I can speak fluently in Spanish, let alone tell a parent how their child is doing in my classroom... in ANOTHER language. But perseverance of speaking Spanish everyday with Magdiel has proved to help me with my confidence, as well as my vocabulary. Now if I could rewind and hear what I actually said, I might not be as proud of myself. But I am going to continue to tell myself they went great. ;)

Day 58: Get told by one of my students: "Miss Kate, I am going to pimp slap you!", oh really now?
I am not sure what my faced looked like at the exact moment my student said it. But I must have looked horrified because the minute I said "what?", his face dropped, but he still managed to mumble it again. So I calmly asked him if he knew what a pimp was, to which he replied no. So I told him it is not nice and to never say it again. Luckily in the back of my mind (and probably his), I had his parent conference that very night. So to his poor moms surprise, I hit her with the "Well, I have to tell you what your child said to me today..... He told me he was going to pimp slap me!" Now her reaction was exactly what I expected.

It was as if time slowed down and in slow motion she put her arm in the air with her finger pointing to the sky and her neck began to dance (you know those black girls, who say "oh no he didn't", all while making their head and neck go in opposite directions) and then this came flying out of her mouth:
"Oh hell no, now we gotta have a conversation about pimps and hoes. I cannot believe, I have to explain what a hoe is, oh dear Lord Jesus!".... it took all of my abdominal strength to stay in my chair and with hold the outburst of laughter, I had built up inside.

I am wondering how my students so called 'come to Jesus' talk went that night.

Day 59: Eat at famous Petes' kitchen and then give my leftovers to a homeless man
It was a delicious breakfast for dinner kind of a night. So when we left, there happened to be a homeless man walking along outside. He asked for spare change, so instead of handing him money, I passed him my food. Poor Magdiel, I thought he was going to keel over, when I gave away my delicious pancakes, hash browns and bacon. But we both know, he needed it more than us.

Day 60: Get a little emotional at parent conferences
It never gets old hearing how much you impact a child. But when it comes from the mouth of your most challenging child, tears come!

Day 61: Help one of my students write a petition to have meat served twice a week in our cafeteria
Our cafeteria is vegetarian based. It serves tofu, hummus, salads, lasagna, meatless meatloaf and countless other dishes that typically children sneer their nose at. But my kids seem OK with their vegetarian based lunches. Until, the other day when my student L.B. wrote a letter about his desire to have meat in his diet. He is a growing boy and he feels he needs more protein (yes he is very sharp) in his diet. Well the principal was very impressed and decided to allow him to poll the students and then write a petition to have students and parents sign. So we wrote it and we did some research why growing bodies need protein in their diet to help their muscles grow. He is looking to send out the petition this week. So I will be wishing him good luck on his quest.

Day 62: Go to Dions in Colorado Springs and then head to Manitou Springs.
Witches, wizards and chai tea. What more could we ask for?

Day 63: Research, write and propose reasons why students need a certain amount of exercise a day. My teaching partner and I are proposing more recess (our recess is at 2:05.... SO LATE). So we feel passionate about the fact that our students are only getting 30 minutes of exercise and it doesn't come till 2pm!

Day 64:Watch Step Up and then actually learn the dance moves (minus hottie Tatum Channing holding me). Yes I was actually dancing in my living room and driving my downstairs neighbors NUTS!!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 48-56

Day 48: Play golf with Magdiel
Get ready, set, go!

Take notes buddy!
Magdiel's turn

Looking good!
 
My favorite part of the whole golfing experience was when Magdiel went up to the green to putt. He began to swing the club as if he were teeing off for a par 5. Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! Little stroke Magdiel!
I was standing near the sand trap and almost fell in due to my uncontrollable laughter. Apparently, golf isn't a very popular sport in Honduras.

Day 49: Rekindle an old friendship
It has been close to four years since I have seen Brian Richter. We went to high school together and got into our fair share of trouble. But as we all know after high school everyone kind of goes there separate ways. But luck was on my side, when I ran into Brian on my plane from Albuquerque to Denver. We caught up and since we are living in the same town again, we exchanged numbers. Next up a couple of beers!

Day 50: Attempt to hire an ex-con to speak to my students
So apparently it is not as easy as one would think. My google search: Hiring an ex-convict to speak to students.... well Denver didn't turn up much. But of course my hometown, Albuquerque, has a program that hires ex-cons to speak to students. Now all I have to do is friend an ex-con who actually has all his ducks in a row, meaning he is not still gang banging, to come speak to my students....

Should I stop holding my breath?

http://www.krqe.com/dpp/local_guide/coupons/education/ex-cons-talk-straight-to-mid-schoolers

Day 51: Give Jaiden(practically my niece), a bath, brush her hair and dress her for bed.
I am blessed to have her in my life. She always says what is on her mind and she is a bit bossy. Sounds familiar (kind of like me), maybe that is why we get along so well!?!

Day 52: Take a salsa dancing lesson.
Ready to get my dance on!
 

Cutest dance partner ever!

So happy my friends Meghan and Brian showed up!! Great surprise!
 
Day 53: Visit Colorado History Museum
I have been reading a lot about the gold rush of 1849 and its affects on Colorado. So, what better way to learn more about it,  than to head to the place that has a tone of information on the history of Colorado.
 
Day 54: Have a dance party with Jaiden
 
video
 
Day 55: Get a new roommate: Hello Jacqueline Pacheco and Salsa line dance
Yes I was out doing myself today with 2 things...
Through a chance Facebook post, Jacqueline posted she was moving and needed to find a new place. Obviously, I couldn't keep living at my brother's house. So here we are 3 weeks later, moving in together. It is a little La Cueva high school reunion in our house. :)
 
Later that night, Magdiel and I went salsa dancing. We started out the night by learning how to salsa line dance. It was great. There were people of all ages and nationalities. All I'm going to say is, there was a lot of hip action ;)
 
Day 56: Visit the Van Gogh exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
Vincent Van Gogh is well known for many things: being a crazy artist, losing his left ear and dying at the prime age of 31. He led a fascinating life filled with too many failures, but after his death, his art became some of the most recognizable art around the world. He first started with pencil, pen, chalk, watercolor but is most well known for his oil canvas. The chance of seeing some of his most famous work was an absolute pleasure for me. I was most fascinated by his use of pencil, pen, watercolor, oil and milk (yes, I said milk). He really was incredible.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 36-47.....way too many days packed into one

Day 36: Help a stranger

So it is not really in my nature to help out someone on drugs (that I don't know). But this one kind of fell in my lap....literally.

Here I am minding my own business at the grocery store, when I notice this lady acting all crazy. She was displaying the typical signs of a person on drugs. But I just said to myself "keep walking'. A few isles later, I am reaching for a box of cereal when the sounds of tumbling cereal boxes alerts me to look up.....

Here comes tweaker right for me. Don't know if it was instinct or luck, but the box in my hand flies out and is replaced with this woman. I want to say at this moment she snapped out of her drug induced coma to say 'thank you' for catching her, but the moment passed before her arms are flailing and she is brushing herself off (like she fell on the ground, instead of into my arms).

I just stood there a little shocked. So my good deed may have gone unnoticed to her, but at least it all worked out.

Day 37: Tell a scammer off
Basically, I contacted a man about renting "his apartment" and he took me on the run around. Until he finally said, "Send me the money and I will send you the keys"....hahahahaha we have got a joker on our hands.

So I told him my two cents and his rebuttal "Are you on ruffies?"....

No, because if I was taking ruffies I would be passed out, not telling you off.

Some people!

Day 38: Cheer on my students for their drum performance
Playing rock-paper-scissors right before the performance.

I bring out the camera and they are immediately ready to pose!


Day 39: Drink a new cocktail: Orange infused jalapeno margarita.

SPICY!!!! My lips were burning, but it was amazing!

Day 40: Eat a traditional Saudi Arabian dinner....with only my right hand
Assalam Alaikum" is a greeting between Muslims. It means "Peace be upon you".
It was a wonderful cultural experience and I am thankful to be friends with Radi, who teaches me new things about being Muslim.

Radi and Sultan cooking the lamb they had slaughtered earlier in the week.

Our group :)

Eating with my fingers....but I had to pull apart with both hands. But I ate with just my right, in true Muslim form.


Day 41: Meet children's author Denise Vega and take a writing class from her.
She is most notably known for her book:

It was a wonderful class and I gained a lot of knowledge about writing my own children's book. Check out her website. She is very talented and has some great books aimed for preteen girls.

http://www.denisevega.com/

Day 42: Take Jaiden to the park and watch rockets launch.

Day 43: Donate to the Salvation Army holiday collectors.
Everyone walks by them on their way into the grocery store. They are ringing those obnoxious bells, occasionally saying something along the lines of "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas". So I thew my change in the bucket, when I hear the man collecting money flat out asks me,
"Are you dating anyone?"
I was so caught off guard.
This is not a dating service to pick up women! It is a way to collect money for those less fortunate. I wish I had said this to him, but I was so caught off guard, all I could say was, "Yes" and walk off. That is the last time I smile and donate money to them!

Day 44: Visit Colorado Museum of Nature and Science to see Pompeii exhibit
I will sum up my experience: CRAZY
There were great artifacts, but I was thrown-up on twice (by my students) AND I lost a student for a few minutes. Ahhhh the life of a teacher on field trips.

Day 45: Carry bags for an older person.
Bless this sweet man's heart. He had too many bags for his own good. So I helped him load his bags into his car. He was very sweet and profusely thanked me.

Day 46: Say Happy Thanksgiving to as many people as I can in the airport.
Most people cordially said it back, but there were a few that looked at me like I had three heads or something. I only missed one person, which happened to be the first person I encountered. He was the parking garage attendant, who gave me some bad news. I was so busy telling him no worries, that I forgot to tell him, Happy Thanksgiving, until I started to drive off. So I leaned my head out the window and yelled it, but I am unsure if he heard me, the wind was blowing like 90 mph. But at the end of my time in the airport, it felt good to see all those smiles.

But the giving didn't stop there. I also lent my earphones to the girl sitting next to me on the airplane. She told me it was a sign I was sitting next to her. She made me smile with that.

Day 47: Handstand Challenge: Hold a handstand on the wall as long as I could: 2 minutes and 3 seconds. Pure agony for my shoulders and arms.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Days 32-35

Day 32: Food fight....
All it takes is 4 teachers and a couple of drinks later...

It started with a margarita with a salted glass being heavily salted, which lead to salt being flicked off the rim at each other... and before I knew it we were throwing salt, chips and lettuce at each other. We were quickly stopped by our waitress, who did not find our antics funny. If she hadn't stopped us, who knows what else, we might have started throwing. I can't say she was too happy about it! But I couldn't stop laughing!!
I am in the middle of dodging food!

Day 33: Fancy dinner party
Love, love, love!

Pretty girls, looking all fancy!

The whole group! What a handsome/beautiful group of friends! Cheers!

Friends, h'orderves, wine, steak and snicker doodles. I would say our fancy dinner party was a success. Thank you to Booya, Chelsea, Meghan and Stef for being great cooks and hosts!

Day 34: Help raise awareness of literacy around the world, which lead to some interesting findings.

I asked myself, which country has the highest literacy rate? I knew the United States has a high literacy rate, but I was curious as to where we fell in comparison to other countries and what countries fell significantly behind us.
My research led me to a few countries that listed that they had a 100% literacy rate for all people over the age 15 that can read and write:
Andorra, which is located in between Spain and France,
Liechtenstein, which is located in between Switzerland and Austria,
Norway
Finland
Greenland
I was not surprised to find these countries listed as having the top literacy rates in the world. These countries start their education at the age of 6 and offer more trade based education after children attend elementary and middle school. They are obviously doing their job educating their young.

On the other end of the spectrum, I found both Niger and Afghanistan with a literacy rate of 28%. But sadly they were not the lowest. Burkina Faso, a land locked country in Africa has the lowest literacy rate in the world, with 21.8%. Each family is required to pay for their childs education and typically boys are sent over girls. There has been a push to increase literacy in the country, which has seen a double in numbers since 1990, but sadly, it is still the lowest in the world.

So with these numbers in mind, I decided to join a website that helps raise awareness for early literacy around the world.

http://www.wegivebooks.org/books

Here is how it works, the website offers free books online to people who have access to the Internet. When you read a book online, it helps send that same book to a child who does not have access to books.

If you are feeling like helping raising awareness, check it out. You might just find yourself addicted to reading some of the fun books featured on the website.

Happy Reading.... because somewhere in the world, someone can't cherish the joys of reading!

Day 35: Write a letter to a vet thanking them for their service and buy them coffee.

My amazing friend Lauren, who served two tours overseas!

Thanks for your service Lauren! You rock!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 24-31

Day 24: Go to the Denver Ballet with my students
 
African drummers with Indian dancers. Best part of the show because my students do African drum and they were playing it on their laps.

My two friends are convinced they have mustaches. So here they are showing me their "mustaches" hahahaha I couldn't help but laugh at their peach fuzz



Day 25: Sign up for a writing class
There is a wonderful writing group in Denver, called The Lighthouse. They just so happen to be featuring a class on writing a children's book. So off I go, on November 17th, to learn more about writing a children's book.

Day 26: Make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving.... Seeley Thanksgiving on November 3rd.

Seeley family

My pecan pie in the corner and Roxy pulling another dish out of the oven.
 
Enjoying the beautiful weather

Magdiel cutting his first Thanksgiving Turkey and getting a lesson from Roxy on how to do it,

Wohoo cousins Megan and Trip with my dad.
 
Happy early Thanksgiving from the Seeley's. We had a wonderful dinner. Kudos to all who cooked (out of 15 people, 13 cooked). Can you guess who didn't cook?.....

Day 27: Homemade Fondue... all 3 courses
1st course: Cheddar cheese with beer and Swiss cheese with wine! Yummy
2nd course: Beef, chicken, and pheasant all marinated in delicious sauces.
3rd course: Milk and white chocolate with fruits, angel cake, and pretzel to dip it in.

Lets get this party started with some fondue
 
Enjoying more family time

Day 28: Research the history of Westward Expansion and how it impacted the now, great state of Colorado.

 
They say, "The best way to learn is to teach." Well, I have decided to brush up on my knowledge about Western Expansion and then teach it to my students for our next unit.

Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea, the Gold Rush, and traveling west in a wagon, here I come.

For my fellow "Schoolhouse Rock" watchers in the 80's, this might bring back some memories.

http://youtu.be/FfoQBTPY7gk

Day 29: Each vote counts: Have my students vote for the next president on election day.
Here are a few of my students just after they voted. :)

Cutie!
A.J. voted

Oh look, I voted too!
 
 
Day 30: Take an IQ test
Apparently, I am not extraordinarily smart.... but who says you need to be? My IQ is 95. Now I know you are all thinking, what does a 95 mean. Well let me just tell you, I am average. Just your average brain. But like my dad always says, "It's what's in the heart that matters." At least for now, that is what I am going to go with.

Day 31: Drink a new wine: Gato Negro
Gato Negro Wine. Its slogan is "A wine for those occasions when you are with your friends, or your loved ones, or just by yourself, and you want to enjoy the moment in a relaxed and simple way."
 
Well done Gato Negro, well done.
Gretchen even had a gato negro to hang out with us, while we drank.