Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Changes

Today is Christmas Day. My brother is with his wife's family right now and should be arriving later this evening, in time for X-mas dinner. We usually do a Christmas lunch but compromises have to be made when there are in-laws to be factored in. My mom is having a hard time adjusting to the change.

Our former traditions are as follows: Christmas Eve service at good ole' CLPC, the church I grew up with. Last night, I went there with only my parents. In the past, I would see my good friends, Jocelyn and Emily at church that night. Emily's parents have moved away and Jocelyn is with her in-laws. I don't like that change much.

On Christmas morning we usually wake up and open our presents. This year it seemed too strange to open all our gifts without Andrew. We didn't want to wait and open them all with our extended family. They would be opening two or three gifts while we opened a dozen. That seemed a bit too weird also. So, my mom, dad and I opened all of our non-surprise gifts. I'd opened my wii fit weeks ago at my dad's insistence but I did open my new slippers, iPod and biking shorts.

Usually after we have our little family Christmas, we head over to my grandma and grandpa's to have Christmas lunch and present opening time with my mom's family. The family always has to eat before we open the presents. This proved painful during most of my childhood. I am not the most patient person especially when I see presents stacked under the tree. The only thing standing between me and my presents was always my aunt Kathy's painfully slow eating. It was excrutiatingly painful to wait. I would go to the tree and sort all the presents paying special attention to how many I had versus how many my brother had. Now my grandparents live in a fancy old folks home and don't have room to host. My parents have become the hosts.

After lunch, I would distribute the presents and we would all unwrap. Gifts from extended family are always random and usually amusing. This year, my brother and his family won't be here until later so we will have a Christmas dinner. A few years ago, we started going to the movies after our Christmas lunch/ present unwrap. I don't think it will work this year with our Christmas dinner. Well, change is not all bad. I did get to watch Home Alone today, which is not a real tradition yet but may become one.

We just have to get used to the end of old traditions and the beginning of new ones.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cool Christmas Story

Those of you who get emails from my dad might already know this story.

My parents got an unexpected check due to proceeds from their Arkansas land's mineral rights. Since it was essentially found money, they decided they wanted to donate the money to a deserving YWAMer. A few months ago, my friend and current YWAMEer, Joey fell while hiking and got seriously injured. He has recovered more quickly than the doctors expected which I fully attribute to the many prayers lifted up on his behalf. Despite his accelerated healing progress, he has an upcoming knee surgery to repair damage to his ACL and insurance does not cover all the expenses.

My parents wrote Joey a check and I sent it at about 2pm on a Saturday. I knew Joey was going home for the holidays so I was praying that the check would get there by the end of the week. On Monday afternoon, Joey left a message on my phone that said that he had some news for me and my parents. I immediately thought that he had received a check from someone else and no longer needed my parents' money. I knew there was no way that my parents' check had arrived on Monday since I had only sent it Saturday afternoon. I lived in Maui for two years and it usually took about 4 days minimum to receive anything from the mainland.

I finally got a hold of Joey and was astounded by what he told me. On Monday, he had gone to his pre-op doctor's appt. He was told how much his surgery and the fancy brace he would need afterwards would cost. He didn't know how he would pay for it but felt God would provide. Then that afternoon, he received my parents' check as some sort of mail miracle and the check was for $5 more than the cost of the surgery and brace. God gave Joey a little extra for a cup of coffee at Anthony's. How cool is that?!!

There were too many coincidences to deny God's involvement. The quickness of the mail may not make much of an impact on most people but anyone who has lived in Maui knows how long it takes. How could it get there in one day? How did my parents know almost exactly how much it would be? This is the kind of stuff we need to remember when we question God's existence. He always provides for His children.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh yeah, I have a blog...

This may be the longest stretch of non-blogging ever by me. I am tempted to try to catch my blogging public on all that they have missed but I fear that it would be far too long. I will just catch you up on what's going on right now. I have less than a week left of school before Christmas break. Hooray!

I went on a Young Life retreat this past weekend, which was fun but wasn't really relaxing. I am excited for longer time off. I have been spending a lot of time at my parents' house lately. Shella, Andrew and Samuel have been in town and spending the night at the same house as them is the easiest way to see them. It's been really nice to hang out as a family. It's been too long.

Tonight we all watched a delightful new reality show called "Momma's Boys." It is a dating show ala The Bachelor but with another twist. There are three bachelors and each one is on the show with their mom. One of the moms is absolutely ridiculous. She is blantantly and ignorantly racist. She makes a bold statement that she does not want her son to be with anyone who is black, fat, mixed race or asian. She explicitly wants a white girl. This seems ironic since she is from Iraq and therefore middle eastern, I think.

There has already been a huge clash between the mom and the black girls on the show. One of the girls confronts her after the TV producers wisely decide to show all the ladies the tape of the mom's racist ranting. The girl tries to be civil but ends by shouting out how she is a "Nice Ass Woman." The mom says that her skin is blacker than the girl's anyway. This causes the girl to throw a glass. This was only the beginning! This could be the next best thing to Temptation Island! Temptation Island!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fortunate Misfortune

I seem to be suffering from some sort of tire curse these days. If there is someone out there with a voodoo doll type model of my car, they must be poking that needle into my tires on a daily basis.
A few weeks ago, I was driving to Young Life when I heard a weird clank noise. I pulled into the Young Life parking lot and stopped to talk to my friend,Ann. We could both hear a loud hissing noise like someone deflating a pool float. It turns out that it was not a pool float rapidly deflating but my tire.
Upon further inspection, we found a large bolt protruding from my tire. Ann thought we could try fix a flat. Apparently fix a flat is not for gaping holes and the liquid quickly flowed out of the tire.

At this point I remembered that I had a full-size spare. David, a fellow Young Life leader, came to my rescue and changed my tire for me. I love nice boys.

I intended to get another tire to replace my spare. I figured that flat tires were not common so it wouldn't be a big deal to wait a month or so. I didn't want to add more to my already busy schedule and figured Christmas break would afford me plenty of chances to get a new tire.I was wrong.

Last night Sarah came over to watch OU versus Texas Tech. With two highly ranked teams, we were sure it would be a good game. We were wrong about that too.

We decided to go to Fry's Electronics before the game started. There was traffic on the freeway so I decided to go another way. We were driving down Airline near 610. The road was not in the best shape and I didn't see the pothole before it was too late. There was a weird noise and the car seemed unbalanced. I feared that the tire was flat and the gesturing of a man next to our car only confirmed my suspicions. We pulled into a nearby gas station to survey the damage.

The man who had been gesturing to us, came over as we got out of our car. It was pretty clear that the tire was a goner. I didn't know what to do. My parentsn my usual saviors, were out of town and I couldn't get a hold of my roommates or nearby friends.

Sarah and I are not car experts so we really had no choice but to let this guy help us. I took off my tire and said that there was a tire place only a couple of blocks away. He had his girlfriend watch our car while he walked with us to the tire place, wheeling my tire along as we went. During this time, he told us a bit about his situation. It was the kind you hear people tell before they approach you for money, though his seemed very sincere. He was from Louisiana and trying to get enough money to go back home. He works at a Buick dealership detailing cars but was between paychecks. He and his pregnant girlfriend were trying to get a room at a nearby hotel but we refused for lack of I.D. Apparently cheap hotels in this part of town require I.D. in case something shady happens involving prostitution, drugs, violence or all three. They want to know who to blame it on. So, this guy, Gary and his girlfriend were hanging out near the Shell deciding what to do with little money and no place to stay when we drove up.

We get to the tire place and some guys who don't speak English patch my tire for $10. Not bad! Gary chivalrously rolled the tire back to the Shell station for us. I never felt unsafe with Gary, though I can't vouch for Sarah. He never did anything that seemed shady. I had already decided I would give him some money. He really deserved it for helping us so much. My only fear was that he would demand more money than I felt his help had warranted.

We got the tire back to the car and Gary put in on for me and everything. I gave him $40 thinking that was fair for the amount he had helped us. Again, I was afraid he would try to get more. Instead, he seemed genuinely surprised by the money and defintely grateful. His girlfriend said she was going to cry and Gary said "God Bless You." It was the perfect reaction.

Getting a flat tire in a shady part of town was definitely not my plan that night and I hope it does not happen again. But, I can't help but think that maybe God put me and Gary together that night for a reason. I definitely wouldn't have given him that much money if he asked. Clearly, he and his girlfriend were in a jam. I was able to pay him for a very needed service that he provided for me and he showed me that there are genuinely nice and helpful people out there. Hopefully Gary and his lady friend found a better place to stay that night. It was worth the extra trouble to have this experience.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Really, Oprah? I mean, really?

I recently read a quote from Oprah Winfrey in US Weekly magazine. About Obama's election victory, she said, "There's never been a night like this one on planet Earth." Talk about being self-centered! And people wonder why the rest of the world sees the citizens of our country as prideful, arrogant, and self-absorbed. On planet Earth? Uh, what about when Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa after years of Apartheid? What about the fact that there is a female president in Bangladesh, a Muslim country that oppresses its female citizens. I am sure there are plenty of other examples that I don't know about.

The election of Barack Obama, the nation's first biracial president is an important event in America. It definitely signifies that our country has come closer to equality among all people than ever before. But Oprah, to say that there has never been another night like on planet Earth is a display of egocentric ignorance bordering on hyperbole.

No matter what your views are on Obama as America's next President, Oprah's comments are just another example of America's dominate ego and lack of concern or attention to the rest of the world. As someone who has been to several other countries and has plenty of friends from other countries, I find her comments borderline offensive. I know there is plenty about the world that I do not know. That's why I would never make that sort of bold claim. America is a great country with a lot to offer but every country has value and America is certainly not unanimously and unequivocally the bestor most important. Sorry Oprah.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This is a bit late but I have been meaning to write about my voting experience. This was my first time to vote for president. The only other time I voted was in college for the mayor of Austin. That was only because I wanted to vote for Leslie, the transvesite homeless mayoral candidate. He was running on a platform of creating teepee communities for the homeless. Pretty original, huh?

My lack of voting stems from a general feeling of apathy and laziness when it comes to voting. I never feel very passionate about candidates or issues so I don't think my uninformed vote should count as much as the people's votes who are actually passionate. I know this logic is flawed but it is how I feel.

This year I knew I needed to vote. This was not because I had lost my apathetic attitude towards voting. I hadn't. It's not because I had strong feelings for either presidential candidate. I didn't. In fact, if a suitable third option was unveiled minutes before I voted, I probably would have chosen him. The sole reason I voted was to be an example to my students.I was in charge of our school-wide election and thought it would be quite hypocritical to not vote after strongly advocating that the kids do it.

I voted early at a polling place near my school. It was an interesting mix of people. I was really struck by the fact that everyone's vote counts the same. There were clearly people there who had a lot of money as well as people who clearly didn't. There were white people, black people and Hispanic people. No Asians, as they are not very prevalant in that area. That all being said, it was a very diverse crowd. I was relieved to see that the line wasn't too long. It was just long enough for me to make these insightful observations but not long enough to make me want to scream. The most amusing part of the whole thing was the way we stood in line.

When, I walked in the room I noticed a sort of waiting lane marked off in tape. It made a giant L. The natural human response upon seeing taped lanes on the floor is to stand in them. For some reason, one of the election workers kept making the people make their waiting line outside of the tape. It was really funny to watch people try to stand between the tape lines and then watch the older gentleman make them stand outside of them. No one could understand right away. They would look down at the lines and then at the man and then back at the lines and back at the man. It was super amusing, though I am not sure my account really gave it justice.

When it came to the actually voting. I am not going to say who I voted for to be our President. As I told my students, it's private. One asked me to just give him the first letter of his first name. Nice try! I decided to vote in every possible race despite my lack of information. My thought process during the voting process was decidedly random. My dad detests Sheila Jackson Lee so I made sure to vote against her. I voted for one guy because his name was similar to that of one of my students. I voted for another person because they sounded Indian and you don't see a lot of Indians in politics. I voted for someone named Sam Houston. I really didn't have a choice on that one. He just had the perfect name for Texas politics.

It felt more meaningful than I thought but I will probably have to fight that same apathy four years from now. Who knows? I may not even be in the country.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Auntie Liz

So, I am an aunt! It's actually a cooler feeling than I expected. My brother and I are pretty close so I already feel a great fondness for this unseen nephew. I have only seen a mini-sized pic of him on my phone but he seems pretty cute so far. I have to give some serious props to my sister-in-law for a whopping 36 hours of labor! That's really intense!

Samuel Christopher Hightower was born November 9th and weighed 6lbs, 13 oz and was 20 inches long. According to my mom, this is how much I weighed and how long Andrew was. I am not sure the significance of these facts but my mom seemed amused by them. I haven't gotten any word on who he looks like. (It was hard to tell on the pic on my phone.) Most newborns look more like aliens than either one of their parents anyway. Shella and Andrew look nothing alike so I really want to see who he looks like. Andrew was really hoping that he would have Shella's blue eyes. He always wanted blue eyes and even wore some ridiculously fake looking blue contacts for a period of time in high school. What a dork!

The baby's name came about because Andrew and Shella wanted a Bible name for his first name and both liked Samuel. The Christopher part is to honor my cousin, Chris who died about 12 years ago in a car crash at age 19.

I should get to see him in early December when they come to visit. I didn't think it would be a big deal to wait only a couple of weeks to see him but now that he's born, I wish I could see him sooner. Hopefully I will at least seem some larger pictures of him soon. It seems unreal that he really exists. I am super excited to be Auntie Liz. I figure I should go with the Hawaiian tradition and be called Auntie. My dad is still trying to figure out his grandpa name. I am pushing for Pop Pop. If I keep telling the kid when he starts talking maybe it will stick.

Hooray for little Samuel! I am so thankful that he and Shella are healthy.

Scantron 3

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Scantron 2

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Thursday, November 06, 2008


Last year I was the winner of our school's costume contest. I was hoping for a repeat win this year. I knew I couldn't top last year's Hot Cheetos costume. I mean, that stuff is used as currency at school. I thought about being a giant pickle. The kids love those too. They like to put a Hot Cheeto in the top of the pickle and suck on it. Then they drink the orangish greenish juice. It's pretty disgusting.

The only way I could envision a giant pickle costume was stuffing some green garbage bags and trying to wear them. It didn't sound very feasible. I also thought about being Lucas-this tamarind candy that they love. There are too many different varieties to be able to pick one recognizable one.

I decided to be a scantron. In case you are not as school-saavy as I am, a scantron is basically one of those answer sheets you bubble in with a number 2 pencil. I was a little nervous about getting the vote of the below 3rd grade crowd. They are not very familiar with scantrons. To try to win them over, I created a giant number 2 pencil. The costume turned out pretty well. I got tons of great reactions from teachers and students alike.

I thought I had a real chance to win despite my costume's lack of lower grade appeal. The winners were announced at the dance and there was only one winner for individual costume and two winners for group costume. Much to my dismay, I lost to the Joker. His costume was decent but not as out-of-the-box as mine. I mean, Joker was the number one costume in America. Where's the creativity? Those kids don't know creativity when they see it! Several of my kids from last year were around me when the votes were announced. They were all wishing and crossing their fingers that I would win. It was pretty cute. They were definitely disappointed when I lost. One of them tried to console me by saying, "It's okay. You did your best." Hey, at least I was a winner in their eyes, right?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Field Trip De Ja Vu

On Tuesday I went on a field trip to the Bayou Wildlife Park. I planned this particular field trip because of my own field trip to the place in fourth grade. All I remembered was getting to feed exotic animals from buckets while riding around on a tram. I think a camel slobbered on one of my friends. What more could a fourth grader ask for?

The place was just as fun as I remembered. It has all types of animals including: camels, llamas, longhorns, emus, ostriches, lemurs, and just about every type of deer known to man. The tour makes several stops so that the animals can come and feed out of the buckets of food that each child is holding. The children's faces when the animals first started eatiang was simply priceless. The emus were hilarious. They would look around with bugged out eyes and then suddenly dip in their head in the bucket. The kids could barely contain their excitement.

I like field trips because I can let some of my teacher guard down and interact with the kids on a more personal level. We get to have fun together. Sometimes when I am in my classroom, I feel like I am some sort of dictator in a totalitarian regime. I am the boss and they all have to do what I say. Sometimes the power is fun but I get tired of it.

The downside to field trips is that they are exhausting. Having to make sure the kids are not running off or getting eaten by camels takes its toll. My parent chaperone fell asleep on the bus as did I. All in all, though, it was a good day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kids are entertaining

Favorite student quote so far this year:
One of my students was commenting on the fact that my nose turns red when I am sick. He said, "Is that the way white people skin do?" I took advantage of this teachable moment to explain to him that white people's skin is like white shoes. Our skin shows stuff more the same way white shoes show more than black shoes. I think he now understands the complexity of race. Don't you think so?

At Young Life last night, we played a game called "Eat or Dance." It was a strange mix of hot potato and musical chairs with a twist. The kids had to walk in a circle and whoever was the closest to Andres when the music stopped, had to either eat a mystery item from a bag or dance. Some of the items were harmless like an apple. We also had two types of baby food- sweet potato and corn as well as sweet potato and Alaskan salmon. The worst food by far was the one I contributed. One of the girls ended up having to eat a piece of durian candy.

Durian is hard to adequately explain. It is a fruit found throughout Asia. It is a spiky melon looking fruit that is about the size of a football with a yellow slimy inside. The worst part about the fruit is its incredibly foul odor. It smells like raw sewage mixed with gasoline. The smell is so bad that it is banned on most Asian subways. There are usually signs that say "No durian." It's hard to imagine how people can like a fruit that smells so wretched. But somehow they do. I bought some Durian candy in China to feed to unsuspecting friends. This seemed like a great way to do this in a public way.

The candy looks harmless but you can smell the stench through the package. The girl who ate it didn't actually react as adversely as I would have thought. She tried to pretend it wasn't awful. The funniest part was watching the crowd's reaction as the smell hit them. Some of the guys literally ran out of the room. People were acting like they were going to puke and one actually did. Everytime the poor girl opened her mouth, the stench wafted out. It was pretty hilarious! I gotta get some more of that durian candy! And quick!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


When the opportunity presents itself, I like to put some of the funny things that happen to me as a teacher on my blog Our recent timeline project definitely created some humorous memories, mostly involving the content of the students' photographs.

The kids had to make timelines of their lives using photos. It was really fun to see what my students looked like as babies and toddlers. Some of these pictures are just priceless. One little girl has pictures of her on some ride at Chuck E Cheese at age 2. She is sitting next to a plastic Chuck E that is bigger than her and screaming her head off.

My absolute favorite picture is from one little girl. Though her parents do look a bit humorous, the real beauty of the photograph comes from what the family is posed with. I have to believe that they were at a circus. They are flanked in the photograph by two dyed giant poodles. One is dyed pink and the other is dyed green. They are real poodles and they are incredible! I already greatly dislike those giant poodles. They are just unnatural to me. But these were ridiculously wonderful! It's very tempting to try to scan the photo into my computer so I can look at it whenever I need a little pick me up. It seems like a bit of a gray area morally, though so I probably won't. I need to find some of those poodles!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh yeah, I have a blog don't I?

I kind of forgot about my blog this week. Normally I think about how I should be writing on it more but this week I didn't even think about it. Oops.

As far as college football goes, I really couldn't be happier. The season was already fun because of all the top teams being upset but with the OU/UT game this last weekend, I can hardly contain my excitement. For those of you who missed the game, it was awesome! There was a lot of back and forth and some brilliant athleticism. Colt McCoy was adequate last year but that's about as far as I would go in praising him. This year he has put on 15 pounds of sheer awesomeness! He is very fun to watch. He has brains and athleticism. And with Major Applewhite on the offensive staff, there's really not any more I could ask for. I am very aware that there are several more games to go and we could easily fall from our top spot. But, wow, it sure is fun while it lasts! The Missouri game this weekend should be pretty good as well.

School isn't going quite as well as college football. I am still feeling a lot less pressure than last year but there is still a lot of pressure to deliver the numbers my boss wants to see. I feel like I was able to do it last year with similarily low kids. This year I know a lot more and I have more help. I think it will all be okay. I can see why so many teachers quit within the first five years these days. This wasn't the case when I was a kid but things have changed a lot since then.

Last Friday night my school had a "Reading Sleepover." It is this big event where kids spend the night at the school and do various reading-centered activities. I didn't attend last year because I was out of town. Overall, the time went pretty fast and it was more fun than I thought.

I always enjoy these more informal times with the students. I get to joke around with them and get to know them more as people. I also got to spend some time with my students from last year. I definitely know them better than my current students. I miss most of them. I was fine until the last hour from 9pm-10pm. I just wanted to run out of the school. From 7:30am-10pm is clearly too much! Some teachers spent the night. Crazy! I try not to let my work life overrun my personal life. Sleeping at the school would definitely be counter-productive for that particular goal. They may take my weekdays, but they will NOT take my nights and weekends!!!!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cancer Sucks!

I should really be working on my lesson plans right now but I only have four days of school next week so it doesn't seem like it will take too long. We inexplicably get Rosh Hoshana off this year, which is a Thursday. I am afraid that my kids will go out of town and skip school on Friday. We'll see.

This weekend was a pretty good mix of fun time, lazy times and productive times. On Saturday, I did the Race for the Cure with my friends, Sarah and John. Sarah, is my best friend, who was diagnosed with cancer last year.

We did this event last year about two months after she was diagnosed. That was super emotional. This time was a lot better because she is cancer-free. The women with breast cancer wear special pink shirts so it's very easy to pick them out. They also walk down this special chute and get pink carnations as well as get a goody bag and free food. The only part that almost brought me to tears is when Sarah left me and John to walk down the survivor corridor. It's so symbolic of how cancer is. You can definitely walk your loved one through it but there are some parts where they just have to go it alone.

We spent most of our time at the race trying to find other cancer survivors who looked our age. Last year I remember seeing a few but this time we only saw one other girl who looked about five years older than us. It's crazy to think that Sarah is in the .1% of women who get breast cancer. It looked like the majority of the women with breast cancer were between 50-60. They say 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lives. Sarah says I am safe because since 1 out of 8 of our friends will get it, she's already that one. I hope she's right.

We say some great clever t-shirts and hats at the race. Some ladies were wearing what we called, "boob hats." They were these baseball hats with lacy bras wrapped around them. They were pretty funny! We also saw "Save the TaTas" shirts, "Save Second Base" shirts as well as "Save my Rack" shirts. I appreciated the cleverness.

At the end of the month I am having a party for Sarah. Unless you live under a rock, you have to notice the plethora of breast cancer paraphernalia available during the month of October. Ever since Sarah was diagnosed, I have been buying her the weirdest, most random breast cancer stuff I can find. The party will be a celebration of Sarah's cancer-free status. Guests will have to bring the most random breast cancer gift they can find or a breast cancer related food. I am hoping to solicit Marti Harnly to make one of her infamous boob cakes. It should be good times for all. Maybe I need to get some sort of breast cancer ensemble prepared. I did see some pink ribbon crocs at the race. Talk about tacky!

Friday, October 03, 2008


Today my students suffered an injustice. I can't go into specifics since that's not wise to do in such a potentially public forum like this. I thought things were looking better this year but it seems that the same problems are beggining to surface. I am quite frustrated but all I can really do is pray.

On a lighter note, we had a faculty volleyball game today. It was one of the strangest volleyball games I have played in. Although now that I think about it, I have played in some strange volleyball games. There were the games against trannies in Maui and a game of tequila volleyball in Mexico with my dad, brothern and a 14 year old boy who was the only one drinking the tequila.

This volleyball game was only for the staff. Though I am really just decent at volleuyball, I was a referee in college so I know the rules very well. It can be frustrating to play with people who hit the ball illegally on each hit. In those circumstances, I try to disconnect myself from my competitive nature. This can be very difficult.

So, this strange volleyball game was played on a very irregular court surrounded by about 600 cheering children. The net was low enough for an average fifth grader to spike over and the ball seemed more like a slightly rigid but soft cloth beach ball. The ceiling above the net was far too low and two teachers had to act as anchors on the ends of the net so it wouldn't fall down.

The game itself lasted about two hours. It felt like we were really just trying to give all the children enough time to buy snacks while we played. Due to a lack of organization only about half the school was able to get snacks in that amount of time. The poor older kids got screwed. I was on the white lightning team and we dominated. The final score was something like 38-55. Ridiculous.oh well, it was fun!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Longhorns kill Razorbacks

I haven't blogged in quite a while. I was on quite a streak with all the hurricane updates. I went back to work on Monday and the kids came back on Tuesday. Getting back to work was not as bad as it seemed the night before we started back. I feel relatively back in the swing of things. Houston is recovering. It was only a couple of days ago that the majority of the lights in my neighborhood came back on. Most street lights are working again, which makes traveling around a lot more quick and less painful.

I had a pretty full weekend. I went to some of my Young Life girls' volleyball games. I got confused and thought the JV game was at 6:30 but it turned out to be 5:30. I had come to watch the JV girls but I did get to watch the varsity lose. It was fun to watch my girls but it would have been more fun if they had won.

We have a staff volleyball game at school on Friday. I am ready to kick some butt! It should be fun. I can get a bit frustrated during non-competitive volleyball games, though. I worked as a volleyball referee in college and I know the rules pretty well. Non-competitive volleyball means that a lot of illegal moves are allowed and that can frustrate me. I have to keep the frustration inside, though, or I will look like an overcompetive jerk. With all that being said, it should be fun.

On Saturday, I helped my fellow teacher, Mr. Z pack up some things in his apt. His apt. suffered severe damage from the hurricane and was already growing mold. It's always interesting to go to some one's home for the first time. You get a whole new picture of them as a person. Mr. Z had at least 1000 DVDs and approximately 2000 CDs. Pretty crazy! He clearly loves movies and music.

In the afternoon, I watched UT annihilate Arkansas. I am sure my Razorback loving cousin, David was not happy. After the game, Sarah, John and I hit some golf balls at the driving range. I was better than I expected. The only other time I tried to hit a golf ball, it resulted in the ball somehow ending up behind me. This time I did hit some fairly terrible shots but there were some pretty good ones mixed in. I might have to try the real kind of golf one of these days.

Today I hung out with my rents for a bit. Then I tried a new church with a couple of my Young Life kids. I am not sure what I thought about the church overall. I wasn't too into the worship. I found it a bit slow and cheesy. The inside of the church was cool and kind of classy/trendy. The service had a lot of people around my age and is located near my house which are both pluses. I just don't know. It's like I am looking for some sort of perfect church and that's just not possible. I guess all ny time in YWAM has made me pretty picky.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not Back to Normal

Hurricane Ike’s effects are still obvious around town. The most telling reminder is the significant amount of people who are still without power. Tonight was the first time I had been out at night since the hurricane. I drove about 30 miles south on I45 to Sarah and John’s house in Pearland. Some people claim that the hurricane basically followed I45 from south to north. There was certainly a lot of damage to be seen along that route. There were many signs torn to shreds or knocked to the ground. The sign for “The Ritz,” a seedy strip club was almost completely destroyed. I wasn’t too upset about that one.

I got a different picture of the area as I drove home on the freeway. It seemed as if there was a mile of stores and homes with electricity followed by a mile of stores and homes without. There was almost a pattern formed by it. I can only imagine that from a bird’s eye view, the city must closely resemble a checkerboard at night. My own neighborhood seems to have more people without power than with power. The sections without power are eerily dark and give me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is crazy how dark it gets with no street lights.

I drove by my school and saw that it did have power. I am assuming that school will resume on Monday, though I won’t know for sure until Friday. My old school district, CCISD, which is further south sustained a lot of damage at several schools and won’t be opening for at least another week. I am not sure how I feel about going back to school. I barely got to know my students before this happened so I fear it will be like starting all over again. I found out today that the apartment complex where about 25% of my students live was significantly damaged during the storm. Even in the dark I could see pieces of the roof missing as I drove by. I hope my students didn’t lose possessions and weren’t traumatized by the whole thing. To be honest, I would guess a good number of them went to Mexico. Not a bad idea.

The lines for gas are finally gone. I am so glad I was able to hold out until today to get gas. What a waste it would have been to wait in one of those four hour + lines! I am still finding humor in the things that the stores are running low on after the hurricane. Frozen foods tend to be popular as many people are restocking their refrigerators to replace the food that spoiled without electricity. Board games have been cleared out at the Target near my house. I think that’s because young hipsters like myself, turn to board games when they have extra time and limited electronics. Snack food also seems to be a hot item, though the “hot” versions of chips are the only ones left on the shelves. I guess hot cheetos aren’t as popular post-hurricane.

People are doing fairly well at driving with all the broken, fallen or displaced traffic signals. Every intersection is pretty much a four way stop. This can be very tedious at times. My roommate’s twenty minute drive to work has turned into an hour drive much to her dismay. I am starting to have problems with the lights that are fixed. When I see a red light, I feel compelled to stop and then go. Luckily common sense has overcome this urge but it can be difficult to get used to the normal way of driving. I am sure it will take a while for all the traffic signals to get fixed. Some seem to simply lack power but others have been blown over, knocked down, spun in the opposite direction or tilted.

I have heard plenty of stories about people dramatically affected by this hurricane. Andrew Thompson, a friend from college, has lost his whole house. Apparently he lost all the shingles on his roof, which caused the roof to link and then to fully cave in. He and his wife just had their second baby this summer and also have a two-year old. I can’t imagine what this must be like. Please pray for his family. My parents know of a family that had eight feet of water in their home. This is true of several of the coastal neighborhoods. I can’t even imagine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricane Aftermath

I don't have internet at my house right now but I can't get too annoyed by that since I do have power, water and sewer unlike a lot of people around here. My parents' internet works so I am trying to come over here to check my email. I plan to try to write in this blog more for the people who might be interested in how Houston is doing after Hurricane Ike.

Things are a lot crazier than I could have anticipated. Though I was fortunate to get power back within about 24 hours, more than a million people in this area are still in the dark. This includes some people in my neighborhood, the Heights. It is clear that the power company is trying their best to restore power as quickly as possible, though the media is giving them nothing but grief. Apparently it depends on why your power is out as to when you will get it back. I feel very bad for the areas in my neighborhood where a tree wider than I am tall is resting on their power lines. It will be a long time before that can be fixed. All over my neighborhood, there are pockets of people without power. I almost feel guilty for having it already.

Stores that have power are open but more than half seem to be without power. I drove by my old work, Soundwaves and was surprised to see it closed. That place never closes but I guess without power, there are not a lot of options. I feel so bad for all the hourly workers that cannot work right now all across the city. I really don't know how they will be able to make up this financial loss. I am very thankful that I am on salary and don't suffer any sort of financial detriment. HISD is closed until at least Monday. Apparently a lot of their schools still do not have power. I heard that mine doesn't seem to be damaged but I don't know if they have power. It's weird to have this pseudo-vacation right now. I really don't know what to do with myself.

As for other Houston news, Allen Parkway where it goes under Studemont is still completely underwater. It's hard to believe that it hasn't drained like the nearby bayous. Gas is a precious commodity right now and I am doing my best to conserve it. The day after the storm, the lines were 40 cars long and could take more than 4 hours to get through the line. Now, the lines are about ten cars long. There are a lot of gas stations that are not operational due to storm damage or power outage. I am trying to hold off on getting gas until the lines end.

I went to Border's today and it was like a make-shift shelter. There was a sign in front that said people could use internet and charge cell phones. They had set up tables and chairs and people were everywhere getting their electronic fix. I would probably be camped out there too if I had no power or water. All the open restaurants are full of people, though I think many went out of town. The grocery stores have been ransacked of certain goods but have plenty of others. Apparently people primarily need chips and coke in these trying times.

Again, I will try to update this blog more regularly so that people can get a feel for Houston during these crazy time. Thanks for the concerned emails and phone calls. Cell phone service is very spotty right now so don't be offended if I don't return your call.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Tales

So, unless you've been without internet or TV, you have probably heard about Hurricane Ike. Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday night and it's been chaos ever since. Hurricanes have hit here before but none since I have become a semi-responsible adult.

School was canceled on Friday though the hurricane didn't hit until late at night. It was good to give us time to get prepared. We moved stuff away from windows and readied my prayer room as a safe place to ride out the storm, if necessary.

I was already running a fever on Thursday at school so I welcomed the break from teaching. I spent most of Friday resting and pretty much slept through the hurricane. The noise and chaos of the hurricane scared my roommates into my prayer room as I slept through the maelstorm.

Millions of people lost power. We lost power for only about 24 hours. My parents didn't lose it at all. They were one of very few that didn't lose it at all. Other people in their small little town home neighborhood are without power. Some of them have stretched extension cords across the street from their powerless houses to a giving neighbor's who had power. It's kinda funny. I have been staying with my parents so I don't have to go without internet and cable TV.

I rode my bike around my neighborhood and was astounded at the damage done to trees and plants. Thankfully, most trees fell onto streets and yards and not houses. There were definitely some that did land on houses, though. It doesn't sound like many people were injured or killed, which is something to be thankful for.

In my neighborhood, you can only go a couple of blocks before you have to detour to avoid fallen tree limbs or an actual fallen tree. Some of the trees have fallen across power lines, which is why many people in my neighborhood don't have power.

Many major roads are still underwater and I haven't really ventured beyond a five mile radius. People are walking and riding bikes to inspect the damage. There is definitely a community feel. There are lines and lines of cars at every gas statsion. There are also really long lines at any store or restaurant that has enough power to be open. It's crazy to think that people really need something from Walgreen's badly enough to stand in a four hour line one day after the storm. We have known that Ike was coming for the almost a week and we all had plenty of time to prepare. And I thought I was a procrastinator....

Tonight there was a ruckus outside my parents' place. The street in front of their place is narrow and parking is only allowed on one side for good reason. We heard a commotion outside and decided to join the other gawkers. Two giant fire trucks were trying to get down the little street but having trouble because some yahoo had parked on the wrong side directly in front of a no parking sign. There was a large group of people crowded around bad-mouthing the parking offender. The coward didn't come out and the fire engine was forced to do a 46 point turn. It turns out that someone's candle had caught their shower curtain on fire. Luckily it wasn't too serious since it took the fire truck ten minutes to navigate a simple turn with the illegal parker.

We watched the spectacle for a bit and then went inside. About half an hour later we heard more commotion and of course, we went outside again. This time there were three cop cars. Apparently someone called the cops on the illegal parker. Now that the cops were involved, one of the neighbors suddenly realized whose car it was and knocked on their door. A few minutes later the law breaker slinked out to his car. I made sure to point him out. I am surprised he didn't get stoned.

It reminded me a lot of the episode of Seinfeld where George parks in the handicapped spot and an angry mob trashes his car. He's too embarassed/scared to admit that its his car. Unfortunately we didn't get to trash it. That would have been fun after all this hurricane stress.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting Ready for Hurricane Ike

My school was canceled today. Hurricane Ike is on its way so everything is closing. I am watching the news right now and they keep showing Galveston. I love Galveston and I have spent a lot of time there. It's crazy to see the waves crashing over the seawall. The seawall is 17 feet above sea level. These are some huge waves and the storm has not even arrived. This could be pretty bad for Galveston, not Katrina bad but bad nevertheless.

I would be enjoying this free day off from school but I am sick. I guess chillin' at home sick is better than teaching a class sick. I had to miss a day when Hurricane Gustav canceled my flight and I can't afford to take a sick day anytime soon. I am annoyed that I am sick. I thought that my sinus surgery this summer would prevent this from happening to me. I have a fever and I blow my nose every few minutes. Good times! I am hoping that by resting this weekend, I will be all better on Monday.

Before I was officially sick, we had our first Young Life club of the year. It went pretty well. There were a lot more boys than girls which is a result of Andres and Bronson hanging out at the high school more than me. I definitely need to spend more time there. A couple of my favorite girls were there, though. We played a game where kids had to find specified things from among the people in the crowd like cell phone, chewed gum and Jordan shoes. At the end of the game, they were told to find a "Princess Diary" VHS tape. One of the other leaders held it up and the two contestants had to fight to bring it to the front. The contestants were an athletic girl and a small guy. The guy got the tape first but then the girl totally tackled him and took him to the ground. It was amazing!!!We all cheered. She won the prize hands down.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Busy Weekend

I have had two busy weekends in a row- so busy that I haven't watched a college football game yet. Now, that's a shame! I have had fun, though.

On Saturday my mom and I threw a baby shower for my sister-in-law, Shella. We had good food and good times. Unlike most parties thrown by my mom, this one did not have a watermelon theme. The baby's room will be done in Noah's Ark so that was also the theme of the shower. Shella and the baby got a lot of loot. I have decided that I am only giving the baby mini adult clothes. I just really like it when babies look like mini adults. I got the kid who is supposed to be a boy named Samuel, four humorous t-shirts. "I'd Rather be Naked," "Don't look at me. That smell is coming from Daddy," "My mom is hot" and my favorite "Mi papa es macho." I am doing my best to guarantee that the kid is cool. That's an aunt's job, right?

We played a few games. Shella's friends, Erin and Jill were almost alarmingly good at the Celebrity Baby Name game. They won by a landslide. The middle aged woman really had no chance though Marilu inexplicably knew the names of all the Jolie-Pitts. We also played a game where three people had to race to finish Sprite in baby bottles. My mom participated and it was hilarious. She did get frustrated and opened the bottle instead of finishing it the legitimate way. Don't worry. I did get photos.

Then today my dad and I rode in the Tour de Pink. This is a bike ride that raises money for breast cancer research. This is clearly a cause near and dear to my heart after Sarah's experience with it last year. It's so much easier to ride long distances in a ride like this. It's easier not to give up when there are a lot of other people riding alongside of you and people cheering you along the route. There are also some great free snacks. One stop had mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some exquisite chocolate chip cookies. We rode 63 miles. I didn't feel like this was too shabby since it has been months since I have ridden more than 20. It was nice ot finally have a road bike for one of these events. It makes me excited about the MS150 in April.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav, you little scamp!

It's Monday night and I am in Mississippi. I was not supposed to be in Mississippi tonight. I was supposed to be at home getting ready for tomorrow, my sixth day of this school year. But, my plans have been thwarted by Gustav (the hurricane, not my lanky, loveable YWAM friend from Sweden.)

Sarah Morgan O'Bryan and I came to Jackson this weekend to visit our dear friends, Emily and Van. We had a great time and even got to see Eudora Welty's house, something I had been hoping to do since I first read her stream of conciousness short stories back in high school. We didn't do much besides go out to eat and hang out. This was fine by me since other than visiting Ms. Welty's ancestual home, my main purpose for visiting was quality time with good friends.

Sarah lives in Savannah and works as a junior high art teacher. We were very afraid that she would get stranded as well. Tomorrow is her first day of school and missing it would be very difficult. Luckily Savannah is in the opposite direction of the hurricane so her flight was not canceled. I was not so lucky. One good thing is that I made sure my classroom was ready in case something like this happened. Also my students are taking a fake TAKS (Texas standardized test) all day tomorrow. My position as test administrator could easily be performed by some sort of trained chimp or possibly a well-bathed hobo.

Although I appreciate this extra time with Van and Emily, this whole unexpected absence is throwing me off. I really wish I could just be in class tomorrow but there's really nothing I could do about it. I looked at other flights and they were about $600. No freaking way! I also thought about renting a car and driving to HOuston. The rates were reasonable and I was seriously considering doing it when I realized that in order to get from Mississippi to Texas, you have to cross through Louisiana and that's where the hurricane is. Not a smart idea. So, again, I have to sit back and deal with those things God throws at you that you can't control. And I really like to be in control.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two days of school down, Many more to go

Today was my second day of school. It went pretty well. I seemed to have a well-behaved class. Yay! They are definitely better behaved than my last class and those kids weren't too bad. I have enjoyed seeing my former students in the hallway. I miss them since I knew them so well. These new kids are still foreign to me so I am not attached.

I read to the kids from one of my favorite childhood books, "Sideways Stories from Wayside School." They loved it as all kids seem to. The book talks about how apples on a teacher's desk show how much the students like the teacher. Well, now the students have started giving me apples. I got one yesterday after lunch. Then, today the same little girl brought me an apple from home. Then, at lunch the same little girl got me another apple. Two other kids got me apples at lunch and one got me an orange. She didn't get the apple significance. I don't know if I should just ride the apple train for a while and see if it ends on its own accord or if I should put a stop to it. I do like apples so I will probably just go with it until it gets out of hand.

I have quite the routine going for the last two days. I hope I can keep up the pace, but I have my doubts. I have a quiet time before school, I do the whole teaching thrid grade thing, I come home and take a sweet nap and then I go to the gym or ride my bike. Once my schedule fills up with other things, I probably won't be able to keep this up but it's nice while it lasts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Teachers Gone Wild

I am in the midst of a teacher training marathon. Last week we were in trainings and this week we are as well. On Monday, the school district decided to spice things up by sending several of our schools to a camp for some outdoor teacher training. Some groups did a high ropes course, some did a low ropes course and others played random children's games. I was a bit disappointed that my group did not get to do the high ropes. Oh well. I have done countless ropes courses and maybe the people who got to do it were doing it for the first time.

My group was full of teachers I had never met since the other teachers at my school defected to another group. I wanted to stay where I was assigned. I think the whole experience was supposed to be a team-building exercise. This was impossible since they mixed up the schools and assigned us to various groups. I guess it was supposed to be some sort of solo learning experience. We did classic low ropes activities like trying to get 17 people across small beams of wood from one wooden "island" to the next. We had to try to all balance on a swinging log. This meant getting a little intimate with these strangers. It was better than sitting through a boring inservice in an overly refrigerated room like we usually do.

Our group was one of the last to go to lunch so pretty much all the food was gone. After lunch, we played some children's games. We played "I have never." This is actually one of my favorite games, though with adults it can quickly get dirty. The faciliatator made up the statements this time so I didn't learn any dirty secrets about anyone other than if they'd been to Mexico or not. When you admitted to doing something, you got to go to the center of the circle and beat each other with pool noodles. I was into that twist.

My favorite game also involved a fun noodle. We were broken up into groups of three. I quickly got with the only two people I knew in my group- Mr. Bravo- the third grade bilingual reading teacher and Ms. Gonzales- the computer teacher. We had to link arms. Bravo was in the middle and with the ladies on either side. We were given a piece of pool noodle cut to the size and shape of a hockey puck. Ms. Gonzales held the hockey puck flat on her palm while I weilded the pool noodle. We had to try to use the noodle to knock off other teams' pucks, while protecting our puck. It was tons of fun. The facilitator told everyone to keep the pucks away from their faces. In true teacher fashion, many people did not listen. This really gave me no choice but to smack them in the face with my noodle to dislodge the puck. It was incredible! I am not exactly sure why I enjoyed hitting middle-aged ladies in the face with a noodle so much, but I did. We really dominated the competion and people were talking about us afterwards. I think they were afraid of me. I am not sure if it was a good or bad thing.

So, despite the superfulous waiting around that accompanies any large scale training, it was a good day. I whacked older ladies in the face with pool noodles under the pretense of playing a game, I got to know some other teachers somewhat intimately and in the end, for some reason, I along with all the other teachers were given fake gold medals with our school name on the back. Talk about a dream come true! I am pricing display cases for it as I type.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Going for the Gold

I am definitely a teacher. I can't hide from this fact. My latest super dorky teacher hobby has been finding the cheapest school supplies. My crowning achievement has been 3 rulers, 10 folders and 4- 150 sheet packs of notebook paper all for 96 cents! Now, that is something to get excited about, right? This week, there are new deals for me to find.

The nice thing about my second year of teaching is that I don't have to buy as much stuff. Unfortunately I prefer to make a lot of my own decorations instead of purchasing them at the teacher supply store. That place gives me the creeps and I am not 100% sure why. Making my own decorations takes a lot more time than simply pasting up some cheesy "You are Special" poster. On one wall, I have an Olympic theme where the kids will "Go for the gold in Reading!" This is undeniably cheesy but also slightly cool. I have a kiddie pool that the kids get to use when they behave. I am going to put a fake Olympic diver in the corner of my room, diving into the pool. I hope it works.

Tomorrow we are all going to a ropes course for team building. I feel I have quite the advantage since I have been on about a dozen different ropes courses. It should be pretty funny to see any teachers who are afraid of heights.

I am glad I still have a week until my students come. I definitely don't feel ready. I have a Young Life leader retreat next weekend, right before school starts. Hopefully I will get to rest and not have to do crazy stuff before I have to go to school.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Got my shoes tied tight, i hope i dont get in a fight, back to school, back to school. ...

I am finally feeling like I am in here in Houston for a while, well at least until this school year ends.

I have been attending a lot of trainings and setting up my room pretty much all week. I am trying to get used to waking up early again. This year I want to have quiet times with God before school. It always makes a difference in my patience and mood.

I wasn't sure what I would be teaching this year. Luckily, I will be staying in third grade. This will mean a lot less work for me this year. I am also no longer teaching social studies. This is good and bad. I really like social studies and helping the kids think on a more golbal level. But only teaching one subject means less grades and less lesson plans. I am hoping to be able to devote more time to Young Life this year.

When I am not at school, I am usually watching the Olympics. Swimming/The Michael Phelps show was interesting at first but now I am tired of it. I look forward to track and field starting soon.

I have also been reading a great book called, "Stuff White People Like." It is just hilarious. I recommend it to everyone.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Back in Texas and trying to be happy about it

So, I got back in Houston today to some crappy news. While I was gone, some punk bashed in the back window of my car. Now I have to go to the glass place tomorrow for a few hours and pay $300 for something that was not at all my fault. Ugh!!

This comes after an incredible time in Maui and overseas. I really felt like I was part of YWAM again after being in that world for over a month. It was really hard to leave. I know I am supposed to be in Houston this year- teaching and doing Young Life. It's still hard to leave the YWAM life. The encouragement and sense of community simply cannot be beat. I also still have some rather incredible friends in Maui. I got to be there for 9 days before China but only 3 days afterwards. Three days was not enough and I found myself praying that the plane would not take off last night. I thought it was working when the tv and lights kept flickering. Apparently they fixed the problems, though and we took off much to my dismay.

I have to go back to school on Monday and I really haven't thought about it at all. Luckily the kids don't come back for two more weeks. I think that'd be a bit too intense for me.

My time in China was amazing! We went in not knowing exactly what we would do and then we were blessed over and over again. I am still praying about when and if I am supposed to go back. I will very likely go back next summer but I am also considering longer term. It's a huge deal. Luckily I have some time to pray.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Last Chinese Blog

I can't believe I only have two full days left here. Pete and Trevor have already left so it is just Will, Sarah and me. On Thursday, we took the kids who live at the house we are staying at to go ice skating and play video games. It was fun. The ice rink was not well kept and was very bumpy. I like to think that this is why the following happened: I was skating around, taking pictures of Sarah and the kids. All of a sudden a little tiny skater came barreling at me. He must have been around 4 years old and a suprisingly good skater. I couldn't figure out how to go from standing still to moving to get out of his way. We both crashed to the ground. It was pretty hilarious. I wonder what his parents thought of the white lady tackling their son. Luckily I did not find out.

At night we have been going to English corners. The two we went to, the teacher did not show up. Luckily I am a teacher and I was able to wing it. We met one girl there who is not on the team but who is interested. We have hung out with her the last four nights. Yesterday we went with her and her two friends shopping around the city. It was a very long and full day but I did get the last of the presents I wanted to get for friends and family. We also went to a movie at a tiny little theater. Everything was normal until the end when a family of 8 came in speaking incredibly loudly in Chinese. It was so weirdly loud! I will have to watch the movie again so I can hear the ending. Unfortunately I was unable to read the Chinese subtitles.

I have enjoyed my time here but I find I am always ready to go back home when the time to go gets closer. I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere abroad indefinitely. Maybe I will find out someday.

The Diamond Ball

Our hosts invited us to a ball. I think it was my first one since I can remember no previous balls. We all got dressed up and headed to the ball. I really didn't know what to expect. I think most girls are afraid of wearing the wrong type of clothes to big events. Luckily, Sarah and I were dressed appropriately. The ball had some very fancy houre derves (don't know how to spell that). There were some little merengue cloud type things with fruit on top- basically a fruit tart with merengue. I am pretty sure I ate about 12. They had a lot of fancy drinks with curly straws and fruit on the rims. I felt very important.

There was some sort of amatuer runway show with models modeling diamond jewelry. It was so weird as the models trying to look ambivalent as they showed off their bling. I was close to them and had to force myself not to laugh in their faces. It was just so amatuer. Some of the men I didn't know were taking endless pictures. I am sure their wives were very impressed.

After the show, Sarah, Will and I danced with our host, Zoe. None of us were very smooth but we had a great time. Some of the Chinese guys we had met that night tried to work up the courage to dance with us but instead wandered aimlessly around the dancefloor.

I never thought I would attend a ball here but it was fun!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hot Stuff's Still Got It

We are at our destination finally. We are getting used to this new culture. It is always weird to go to a country where you can't speak the language. We are learning some words but the learning curve seems quite steep. In order to be here for longer, we would need to learn the language.

Our first experience with this culture was on our airplane ride from Singapore. We had a great time on our last day in Singapore. We had spent pretty much all our time in malls going to and from our conference. On the last day, the Ehrmans, a family from home took us to the orchid garden, to the famous merlion statue and out to eat. We also got to spend time in their luxurious apartment. It was an awesome blessing.

On the airplane, we witnessed an intense argument. We did not need to know Mandarin to understand what was going on. The crotchety old man was insistent that the window shade stay up during take-off. The young professional lady next to him wanted it down. The man made a big scene and started yelling at the lady who yelled back. This went on for a few minutes until the steward came over. He brought the woman to a new seat away from the intense old man. After this, the man proceeded to stare grinning out the window for the duration of the flight.

After this outburst, we knew this guy was one to watch. We encountered him again at the baggage claim. A lone brown bag was circling the carousel for about ten minutes. Apparently the grumpy, obnoxious old guy had an identical suitcase. He kept grabbing the bag and loudly exclaiming. Finally the officials came over and tried to placate the man. Finally his suitcase arrived and he was escorted out, probably as not to make another scene.

Most of the people here are not like this man, though they seem to speak a lot louder here than in other parts of Asia. Yesterday we got a tour of the city by the security guard in our building. He is not on our team but he has been reading our book. I think there were some cultural differences as he didn't speak much English. The 14 year old son of the people we are staying with was our translator. After telling me that I was fit, the guard starting asking me things along these lines: Why aren't you married? What do you look for in a guy? What do you think of long distance relationships? Do you want to go to a Chinese wedding? How do guys and girls show they like each other in the USA? Do you believe in love at first sight? This was all through a somewhat naïve 14 year old boy. So apparently I am hot stuff even overseas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I only have seven minutes left at the internet cafe so this is bound to be brief. We are in Singapore at our Go Asia conference. It's been really cool to be with other like-minded people from around the world especially Asia. We've already run into contacts from Borneo and the Phillipines. I am so glad all our visa stuff worked out for our next country. We have heard many stories of people getting denied. We feel very lucky!

Singapore is hard to fully understand. It's like some other Asian countries and then totally different at the same time. There are so many cultures together here. Everything is in English but things are not cheap like they are in most of Asia. Cheerios are over $10 US! The shopping is not near as much fun. They do have some spectacular malls here. Sarah and I are sleeping on mattresses on the floor with a team from Pittsburgh. That part has not been very luxurious.

I gotta go before they charge me more.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Asian Update

I didn't anticipate writing a blog entry so soon into my trip but I also didn't expect some of the things that have happened so far. I am currently in Taipei, Taiwan. We were supposed to be here for a three hour layover after our flight from Honolulu. It turns out that our flight to Singapore was canceled. This stinks because a family from my church who are living in Singapore was going to give us a tour tomorrow since we had a free day before the conference started. Now, the airline has put us up in a hotel and provided us meals. We will now leave tomorrow afternoon. One good thing is that we will now be on the same flight as the other half of our team- Pete and Will.

We are currently deciding what to do with our unexpected time in Taipei. We are a bit tired from last night. We spent the night in Honolulu after a flight from Maui. Before the flight, I decided to charge my cell phone. We even moved closer to the plug so I wouldn't forget it. But, I did. I figured this out during the 30 minute flight. I called the airport but they seemed pretty incompetent and directed me to some sort of state lost and found, which was closed. I was obviously unhappy about this turn of events. I canceled the phone so I don't have to worry and a friend is going to the airport to check today. Ugh! Not at all the way I wanted to start my trip.

Our friend, Kimo picked us up in Honolulu. He took us around Waikiki and took us to this funny little Hawaiian diner place. It was fun. He graciously let us stay at his place, actually giving up his bed to me and Sarah to sleep on the floor. Then in the wee hours of the morning, he drove us to the airport. Now that is a good friend!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gawking at the nudes

I don't have a lot of time to write since I still need to pack, take a shower and make a trip to Wal-Mart before leaving for Honolulu tonight. I can't believe I am already leaving for Asia! I have had a good time while I was in Maui. It's indescribable how it feels being surrounded by so many other Christians who are passionate about missions. Besides being spirtually uplifted. I have also been having some quality Elizabeth-style fun. I went to Makena beach with my former students, Kera and Rachel, their friend, Natalia and Kera's fiance, Steve.

I knew there was a nude beach just over this rocky cliff-type thing but I had never been. Rachel and Natalia were also curious so we snorkeled around the big rocky cliff. It was harder to get around than I thought and I definitely thought of sharks- bad idea. We made it and then started treading water several hundred feet from shore. This was pretty much the perfect way to experience a nude beach. We were far enough away so that we couldn't fully make out details but could still see that these people were indeed nude. We could also giggle to our hearts content since we were fully out of the nudes' earshot.

We enjoyed seeing what these nudes liked to do at the beach. Unfortunately even with a less than perfect view, we could see that most of the nudes had strange, undesirable bodies. One nude was doing sit-ups. Who does that at the beach, nude or not nude? Another guy stretched before surfing by leaning back and thrusting his pelvis towards the ocean, or us. This surfing guy spoiled a bit of our fun. There aren't really waves there but he was determined to surf. He paddled out uncomfortably close to where we were treading water and gawking at the other nudes. He started making comments about how we should get nude and that it was so freeing. Eww! I told him we were working up to it though there was no way I was going to get naked. I didn't know what else to say. We left shortly after these as the inviting nude surfer made us a bit uneasy. All in all, though, it was a great day!

I don't think they'll have any beaches like these in Asia.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Home Sweet Maui

I have been back in Maui for a few days and it has been pretty busy. It feels a little strange. It feels like home and yet it doesn't feel like home. Right now I am kind of hiding out in my friends' room. I am tired of having to catch up with people. I want to be automatically caught up so we can just have fun and make new memories. Luckily there are several people here who I do keep in touch with so we can just be regular friends. Actually hiding in my room is a bit like what I did when I was on staff and needed a break from community. Back then I would have had an Amy Kirk by my side, though. I miss her a lot when I am here since we spent 90% of our freetime together. I also miss my friend/mentor, Maria who is fun to be around but can give the often-needed kick in the butt when necessary. Maui isn't the same without the two of them. There are certainly others I miss but those are the two whose faces keeping coming back to me over and over again.

I have been going with the flow so far but I am fast realizing that this won't work for the duration of my visit. I have now started making myself a schedule so I can see all the people I want to say. More than half of my Maui friends live away from the YWAM base where I am staying so I have to make an effort to meet up with them. Tomorrow I am going to Kihei with two of the amazing girls from the team I took to Bangladesh, Rachel and Kera. Kera's longtime boyfriend surprised her with a proposal on July 3rd so she's still on cloud nine. This development got all the YWAM boys talking about how much they should spend on a ring. I told them one month's salary, which for some of these missionaries is $200. Hello Wal-Mart. I have since learned that it is supposed to be three month's salary, which seems way too much to me. That Wal-Mart ring is sounding better and better.

Later in the week I have other friends to hang out with and beaches to vist. My friend, Gena, wants to hike bamboo forest. I have been there twice with slightly disasterous results. The first time I went, my shoes were unnaturally slippery and I fell down repeatedly. It was embarassing and humbling since I was the only one who seemed to have that problem. The second time I went with my friend, Katie H and got us hopelessly lost in the woods. I had a vague idea where the car was but not where the path to get to it was. I just started climbing up this cliff-like thing to get to the car. It was a perilous journey but I made it. Unfortunately Katie couldn't make it and was forced to find another way while I was at the car with no keys. It was a scary time but we both made it out alive. I can only hope this trip goes better.

I got to meet with most of my Asia mission trip team today. It got me excited about our trip. I have recently learned that two of the team members are looking to be in the country longterm so what we are doing is trying to clear the way. We should be praying a lot as well as figuring out the logistics to make this happen. I am also hoping to make some friends at the university. Apparently many students want to practice their English so they are very eager to talk to foreigners. So exciting!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Planes, Trains and Automobiles, (actually no trains)

I leave for Maui early tomorrow morning. It seems pretty surreal at this point that I am actually beginning my Asia adventure. I had high hopes of getting a lot done this week but I have had a small case of the Lazy-ees. I have gotten some stuff done but I have also played a lot of Guitar Hero. Oh well, I will accomplish all I need to accomplish just like how I wrote a paper in college- the night before.

My family has had some good and bad car experiences in the past few days. On Sunday, I was at Urban Outfitters looking for a Jesus action figure for my upcoming Asia trip. As I was leaving the parking lot, another car hit me. It's really debateable whose fault it was. It's a strange road. The area we were in makes a T. The top of the T is parking spaces you can pull into off the two lane road. There is a stop sign at the middle of the T, where this lady was stopped. I looked behind me and to both sides before backing slowly into the intersection. No cars were moving. I guess as I was backing out, she turned left from the stop sign and hit me.

According to the insurance people, it is my fault because I was backing up. Apparently everything is your fault if you are backing up. This hardly seems fair. I feel like backing up involves a bit of risk and the other drivers are supposed to help the backer upper out by not ramming them in the back. It's like when you are going straight in a parking lot and someone in front of you backs out. You stop and let them go whether you have right of way or not, you don't ram them. This lady was facing forward and should have been able to see me and stop. Anyway, the insurance company doesn't see things my way so I will have to pay about $500 to get my car fixed. Because I am about to leave, my mom will have to take care of a lot of the hassle. Thanks, mom.

Speaking of my mom, she is now the proud owner of a red Prius. Grandma drives a Prius. She used to have a bowl cut and drive a mini van. Now she has long hair and drives a Prius. She's come a long way. The car is pretty cool and we're still trying to figure out all its features. It has a navigation system, back-up camera, integrated phone thing and a lot more. I am not going to lie, it's pretty cool. Now, I am driving the mini van while my car is in the shop. Don't be too jealous.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday fun

I am trying to prepare everything for my upcoming trip. Today I went shopping hoping to find a nice raincoat and a good sleeping bag. My family has a few sleeping bags that are very large. They are really glorified comforters with zippers. I didn't care about anything but compressability. REI was having a sale. Unfortunately the sale sucked. I was hoping for high quality merchandise at low prices. There was nice stuff but it was all over $100. I was feeling far too cheap for that.

While I was shopping at another store, my friend, Jane called and offered to let me use her very compressable sleeping bag. Hooray! I don't have to spend money on one!
And then my friend, Bethany called and invited me to an Astros game tonight. I had been wanting to go to one but feared they would be sold out. Now I get to go for free! Hooray! Good day!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lazy days of summer... I mean really lazy!

So, I am pretty much the epitome of lazy today. Maybe that's a bit of an overexaggeration but I am pretty sloth-like these days. I am technically not allowed to work out until next week on the account of my surgery. But I had hoped to work on my writing- I still want to write books someday, though wanting doesn't make it happen. Also I want to start studying for the GRE, in case I decide to go to Grad school. I need some sort of motivation. I figure since I leave Houston in a week, this motivation will come a few days before. Too little, too late.

Other than running random errands, my usual day consists of a lot of reading- (I have read about 6 400+ page John Grisham books since Summer began.) I also spend time cruising the internet for random youtube videos and the like. I have also been watching a lot of TV. Most of it is fairly mindless. There is an exception, though. The other day I watched an amazing new show- "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" It's just so funny! For those of you who missed its premiere this week, here is the gist of it:

Ten random Americans signed up to be on an unknown reality show. They all arrive at the L.A. airport and get into a van. The van drives from arrivals to departures and the contestants are told they are now getting on a plane to Japan. They still don't know what's going to happen. When they get to Japan, they are introduced to the place where they will stay. It's a pretty sweet Japanese style house complete with an older, overweight Japanese woman called Mama San. I am not quite sure what her role is other than to scream at the contestants as she enforces bedtimes and wake-up calls.

In the morning the contestants are told they are going on a tour of Tokyo. They drive them to some famous Tokyo TV studio. Then, the contestants are herded into a dark room, still not knowing what's going on. All of a sudden, the lights go on and they are smack dab in the middle of a Japanese gameshow. There is a wacky host and about a hundred Japanese spectators screaming, cheering, and playing a variety of instruments. The surprised looks on the Americans' faces were absolutely priceless.

Now they finally know what they are going to be doing. They will be competing on a Japanese gameshow to win $250,000. They are broken into teams- The Yellow Penguins v. The Blue Monkeys. They have to compete as a team in a wacky event. The winning team gets a prize. The losing team has to be punished and then pick two players to play an elimination game. The first challenge was where one person had to eat moshi balls off of a tray attached to the head of a team member who was running on a treadmill. When they fell on the treadmill, they ended up in a vat of flour. The whole time they are competing, the zany announcer is saying stuff in Japanese that the Americans can't understand. The audience laughs hysterically. Subtitles let the viewers know that the host is saying things like, "That man with chubby cheeks sure can eat."

The winning team won a helicopter tour of Tokyo while the losing team had to play rickshaw drivers for a few hours. For the elimination challenge, two players are dressed as bugs and must jump on a trampoline to place some sort of marker on a giant pretend windshield. Pretty weird! From my meticulous rehashing of this show, it should be clear that it is my new favorite. It's just so funny. It makes Americans look selfish and dumb at times but that can be true. I highly recommend this show!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Support Musings

It's been a bit weird to raise support for my Asian mission trip this summer. I've raised money for many mission trips before and have been super blessed by my loved ones' generosity. The money always comes in just in time. This time is different because I am no longer a full-time missionary. I have another job, a real job. I probably could have figured out a way to scrimp and save my teacher salary in order to go. But, when I think about what that would be like, I realize it is not the way God intended missions to be.

Missions is best when it includes interdependence. I am depending on supporters for the funds to go and they are depending on me to spread God's love in Asia. Not everyone can go overseas and it is a real honor for me to have so many supporters behind me. I feel a real sense of responsibility and accountablity to the people who have donated money for me to go. If I had funded this trip myself, I wouldn't have that feeling of support and responsibility. It can be humbling to ask for money but I wouldn't have it any other way. I plan on doing my best to represent those who have donated to me. I want to make them and the Lord proud.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The day before the complete inner nose overhaul

Tomorrow I am having sinus surgery. I like to say that I am having nose renovations. In reality, I am getting a bone spur removed, a cyst removed, and some sort of nose membranes trimmed. They are also going to correct my deviated septum. Sounds like fun, huh?

I am not too nervous. I have grown up with a mom who's a nurse. I have always found value in medicine and surgical procedures. This is my second time to go under the knife. I had an ear surgery in high school.

I have heard several different reports of recovery time. My doctor says that about half his patients go to work on Monday after having surgery on Thursday. He told me that I need to roll gauze and tape it to my upper lip because stuff may drain out. Basically I will be making a gauze mustache. Needless to say, I will be looking really hot. Anyone is still welcome to come keep me cxompany during my recovery but you can't laugh at my gauze mustache. What I am I saying? I certainly would laugh at my gauze mustache so I can't really hold that against you. Luckily both my mom and my roommate are nurses so I should be fine.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Young Life camp

I just got back from Young Life camp. Well, technically I just got back from visiting friends in Georgia for a couple days after Young Life camp. The camp I went to was near where my YWAM friends, Matt and Bethany Laskey for a while. They surprised me by stopping to pick up another one of our YWAM friends, Stephanie Rolon, who happens to be spending her summer working at a summer camp less than an hour from Matt and Bethany's house. Like all YWAM reunions, it was weird and yet not weird at all. It felt like no time had passed. I love these kinds of reunions!!!

As for camp, it was great! Young Life camps are like little Club Meds. The camp I worked at in college was nothing compared to a Young Life camp. They provide sheets and towels in their posh air-conditioned cabins. They have a blob, ropes course, water zip line, basketball, sand volleyball, disc golf, climbing wall, mountain bikes, and more.

It's hard to detail what happened at camp because there was simply so much. I got to know a lot of the girls in my cabin better. In the last few months of school, I wasn't able to hang out with my Young Life kids as much so it was great to get to know them better.

There was another group of urban kids there and I enjoyed watching the white kids from other schools try to dance ghetto style.

I am too tired to right more. Tomorrow I have a pre-op doctor's appt, a picture party and then I am spending the night at my parents' so we can leave early in the morning for South Padre. In the words of the illustrious Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Random funny things

Tomorrow is my last day of school! It doesn't even feel real. I don't know what I thought it would feel like but it is not this. On Friday we have a teacher work day and then Saturday night I head to Young Life camp on one of those big buses with TVs.

One of our Young Life kids was afraid her boss wouldn't give her time off work to come to camp. About two weeks ago, she told her boss that she would need the first week of June off for her Grandfather's funeral. Unless she was going to kill him, it'd be a little hard to predict something like that. Needless to say, she was fired.

On another humorous note, today I was hit on by a mentally handicapped guy at Big Lots. For those of you unfamiliar with Big Lots, it's kind of a step up from the dollar store with a similar clientele. I was looking for garish make-up for a skit I will be performing for tomorrow's talent show. As I wandered the aisles looking for make-up, I noticed a guy who seemed to be everywhere I was. He looked normal though seemed to be struggling to carry one of those jumbo multi-packs of paper towels. When I finally found the make-up, he sidled up to me.

After some very awkward silence, he said something like this with very stilted speech, "I have been going up and down aisles of things I haven't been interested in...all to get up the courage to talk to you." Eek! I didn't know what to do as it was suddenly clear that he was of below average intellect. I decided to ignore him. Then he said, "My name is Tim and you seem nice." To this I replied, "It's hard to tell if someone is nice by watching them shop." (It actually would have been safe to assume that I was a hooker since I was buying red lipstick, hot pink blush and blue eyeshadow.) I tried to politely ignore him. I didn't want to be mean but I didn't think I should show any interest for fear of leading him on. He then said, "My parole officer said I am no longer a danger to myself or others." I am not certain whether this was a joke or not because it was delivered in the same stilted monotone. Needless to say, I was not reassured by this; joke or no joke. Then he mumbled something about browsing other aisles.

I quickly gathered my whore make-up and got out of there. Just another day at Big Lots!

Monday, May 26, 2008


I had a three day weekend this weekend and I think it was a bit dumb. It's not that I don't think Memorial Day should be a holiday. Obviously I am in support of a holiday that honors soldiers who gave their lives for our country. The dumb part comes with next week's schedule. We are off today, Monday. Then we have a full school day tomorrow, a half day on Wednesday and a half day on Thursday(the last day of school). The teachers have to come in on Friday to wrap everything up. I really don't know what I am supposed to do with one full day and two half days. I am going to bring some kids' movies since I have a suspicion that the other teachers are just going to have kids watch movies all day. We'll see. I guess I will prepare a back-up lesson just in case. The three day weekend did give me a little taste of what summer will be like or more accurately what the two and a half weeks I won't be traveling will be like.

On Wednesday we have a class party and awards presentation. Apparently I have to think of an award for each kid. Some will be very easy but others will be quite difficult. "Smelliest farter," "Most likely to say a cuss word" and "Most likely to end up in prison" are probably not acceptable despite their validity. In all seriousness, I want to validate something I see in them that other people or even themselves might not see. I should probably start thinking and praying about this.

On Friday we went on a field trip to Moody Gardens- a hodgepodge of random attractions in Galveston. The day started off very poorly with an unplanned wake-up call at 8:00am from my teacher friend, Belinda. I normally wake up around 6am and arrive at school around 7:15-7:30am. School starts at 7:45. Needless to say, I felt terrible. I made it to school at 8:30 feeling pretty dumb.

Field trips are good and bad. Good because it's a chance to be with the kids on a more informal way and bad because they won't stop asking the same innane questions over and over again. We went to the aquarium, on a paddle boat ride and watched an IMAX movie. The movie was in 3D and watching all the kids try to touch the 3D images was very entertaining. It was about the Grand Canyon and made me want to go rafting down the Colorado River. Apparently it is super pricey.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Fun

I had a pretty good weekend. I might as well share it with my blog fans. On Friday night I went out to eat with my parents. That's the way we bond these days.

On Saturday I went to the Pasadena Strawberry Festival with a new friend. It was way bigger than I had anticipated. It was more like a fairly big carnival with a strawberry theme. They had the world's largest strawberry shortcake and I got to eat a big piece of it. Yay! I am sure you are all jealous. The thing was said to be an astonishing 1300 sq feet.

They also had carnival rides but the sketch factor was high and we didn't want to take the risk. There was a mud volleyball tournament that was fun to watch. Maybe I will have to compete next year. They had carnival games and my friend dazzled me with his basketball skills to win me a basketball painted like an eight ball from pool. Now I know you are jealous. My carnival game skills were nothing fancy and I did not win any prizes.

They also had mutton bustin'. We speculated a lot about what this might be. I thought it was where people hit large pieces of lamb meat with a sledge hammer. Luckily I was not correct. It was where small children tried to ride a sheep in a similiar fashion to bull riding. It was pretty funny. The smallest kids seemed to do the best. Maybe they have a lower center of gravity.

All in all the Strawberry Festival was a good time for all. Maybe I will go next year.

Today I went to a bridal shower for my childhood friend, Leena. She is Indian and so were most of the guests. I was the only white person there and I loved it. I enjoy racial humor (not the offensive kind). At one point the song, "Boot Scootin' Boogie" came on and someone asked if anyone knew the dance. I assured them that despite being white, I did not know how to do it. There was another racial moment when we played this strange party game that awarded points for different things you had or were wearing. One part gave points for green eyes. Everyone looked at me and I reminded them that my eyes were brown, just like theirs. It was pretty funny! I am really excited about Leena's wedding. I have never been to an Indian wedding. I think I am going to get a sari and go all out. Also there is a big dance before the wedding called a garba. It is awesome! I highly recommend them to anyone. Indian people really know how to party!

After the shower I went for a bike ride. Thankfully I am finally getting used to my clip-on pedals. I haven't even fallen down yet. Then I read a book on my porch swing for a few hours. Talk about a good day! Now it's time to make my lesson plans for next week. Only two weeks left! Whoohoo!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fun and Funny Field Day

Today was my school's Field Day. This is when the kids get to compete in a variety of physical challenges for colored ribbons and the esteem of their classmates. I loved it as a child. In fact, in fifth grade I actually trained for the water balloon toss. What kid trains for the water balloon toss? My neighbor, Sherika and I would go to the park and practice. Since no one else was practicing, I knew we were shoe-ins to win. Unfortunately tragedy struck. I was in a bike accident and broke my arm. Our cheap first place ribbon dreams were dashed. I really let Sherika down.

After this disappointment in my last field day, I had to redeem myself. I did so by winning the joust against my friend, Ms. Flores. It was great fun! My kids did pretty well but it was hard to make sure all kids got to participate and not just let the really athletic ones do everything so we would win. I made the mistake of letting some of the larger kids do the obstacle course and they got stuck. So much for the team gold!

Probably the funniest moment of the day was after the kids had water fun with the water slide. One of my students, I will call him Joey, is kind of an odd kid. He is 9 years old but looks and acts a bit like a grumpy old man. He is a bit of a complainer and wears a dark blue polo shirt and dark blue pants every single day. Today after the water fun, he tells me that he has a secret. Then he whispers in my ear that he is not wearing underwear. Eek! I explained to him that it is called going commando and it's okay but he shouldn't tell people. Pretty funny.

I have a few other funny stories concerning my students' recent community projects. They had to research a foreign country. Some of them either just made up information or just completely misread their facts. A girl said in her project that it never rains in France. Another said that South Africa and Houston are the same in that they both have African Americans...hmmm!. One kid's project listed the number of Wal-Marts in China. Now that's an interesting fact!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I have recently begun raising support for my upcoming overseas mission trip. It's always a bit weird to ask people for money even though I have now done it dozens of times. I have never had any trouble raising support but I was had some doubts about this time since I am no longer a full-time missionary. Luckily God is bigger than my doubts.

I sent out support letters last week and got my first response today. I am not going to say who it was from but the amount floored me. It was for $500! That's about 1/7 of what I need and it was only from one person. I am so thankful for people who give generously and selflessly. It also shows me that God is faithful even when I have doubts. So, now I am off to write an incredible thank you note.

Friday, May 09, 2008


I am sick again. I seem to get this sinus mess once every month or so and I hate it. I am hoping my sinus surgery in June will stop this cycle of sickness. I was supposed to go to the art car parade with a new friend tomorrow and now I can't go. I hate to let being sick stop me from doing what I want to do but I know that resting now will help me to get better faster. I guess there is always next year for the parade.

Today I went to school despite my sickness. I couldn't miss our school's Cinco de Mayo program. The student population is 97% Hispanic and more than half of the faculty is as well. This means we do Cinco de Mayo big, real big!

Each grade performed a dance from a different Latin American country. The kids praticed hard and looked really good. I was so proud of him. One of the kids in my friend, Ms. Flores's class is part of a ballet folklorico group. He and his sister performed and it was really neat to see. Some of my kids were in two of the dances. I really enjoyed watching them shake it.

When the fifth graders performed, it got a little weird. They had one of the student's older brothers choreograph it. The brother is in high school and already a flamboyant homosexual. He wears makeup and carries a chiuhuahua around ala Paris Hilton. This guy likes the spotlight. He created a borderline inappropriate routine with his limberness as the main attraction. I almost couldn't believe my eyes. He pranced around, did the splits; the kid could dance. The fifth graders in the show were relegated to mere background dancers in this kid's egotistical wake. It was weird and wrong. All I could do at the time was stare with my mouth open.

The fourth graders did a somewhat provocative dance where some of the kids pop, lock and dropped it. It was borderline scandalous as well. I couldn't fully understand if what they were doing was appropriate because it was part of their culture. We honkies don't have much history of provocative dancing. Oh well, everyone had fun.
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