Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

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!
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