Saturday, January 28, 2012

"le va a doler el cuello"

"you'll hurt your neck"
"his neck is going to hurt"

I hear this phrase all the time here, and I'm wondering what it is that preoccupies everyone so much with other peoples' necks.

So, I ride the school bus to work every morning with the students.  My interest in the neck-worries started on the bus, where I would hear the bus nanny constantly say, "le va a doler el cuello."  Basically the scenario would be: kid falls asleep; kid's head tilts to one side; nanny wakes the child up telling him not to do that or his neck would hurt; kid inevitably falls asleep in the exact same position.

One day, the bus driver took it upon himself to ensure that all the kids arrived free of neck pain.  He turned around and saw a child sleeping in some awkward position in the front row.  When his attempts at verbally waking the child up weren't working, he tried calling the nanny up to the front of the bus.  It seemed so urgent. The nanny didn't notice at first, so he called and called until she heard him ("Look at Johnny there...le va a doler el cuello!") and came to the poor sleeping child's rescue.

I was just at an event with Daniel and his family; a 70th birthday party extravaganza for someone I don't know.  Daniel's brother was sitting in a chair at our round table that was not directly facing the stage, so he had his head turned to watch.  Of course, mom-in-law says, "turn your chair around, le va a doler el cuello!"

Ok, I get it, nobody likes a crick in their neck.  But I honestly must admit that when I see people sitting/laying/sleeping in an awkward way, my first thought is rarely about how their neck might feel tomorrow.  Apparently here in Honduras, proactive measures are taken to avoid neck pain.  How kind.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I think I'd like to read you...

Lee and Low Books is one of my favorite little publishers of children's books, and I just found out they acquired Children's Book Press... so maybe they're not so little anymore.  The thing that sets them apart is their dedication to publishing culturally authentic books for everyone.  Mexican-American?  Korean-American? Peruvian-Scottish American? They probably have a book for you.

Here are two of their recent award winners that I'd like to take a gander at.
because Mangrove trees are quite familiar to me...
and, ok, I guess like to feed families, too.
And I'd like to know how mangrove trees did that?  
because I love free-verse novels
AND it's won several awards. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Chicken Pox or Chickenpox?  I've seen it written both ways. Well...

Chickenpox are not so noticeable on darker-skinned kids, I now realize. 
3C has been attacked by a spreading case of the Chickenpox.  It began with a student who came back to school after a family trip, and realized a few days later that his cousin had given him Chickenpox.  No one realized that he had already exposed the class to the infection (probably because it is contagious before the spots show up), until yesterday, when a student's mother came by to let me know she was going to bring him to the school doctor (yep, our school has a real doctor, and some nurses too) to see if he had bug bites or ... something else.   It turned out not to be bug bites.  Today, two of my boys who commented about "bug bites" yesterday are also home with Chickenpox.  It appears that two fourth graders have it, too.

Anyone seen the movie Contagion yet?  I just saw it, and this situation keeps bringing to mind.

How old were you when you got the Chickenpox?  I think I was a baby.  Most people I know got it really young.  A few of my students say they've had the vaccine... but many have not had either the vaccine or the real infection.   I don't know... I just find it strange.  Maybe they're more sheltered than I was... but to have various third and fourth grade students who have yet to catch it seems odd.

Let me just say that the peace of having 4 students absent from an already not-too-big class is making for some calm days.  We are getting extra great behavior reports from special teachers, too.  I think I'll take some Chickenpox now and again...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

3 Months, 9 Days

3 Months and 9 Days
Or, How to Plan a Wedding Fast

It wasn't a shotgun wedding or anything.  We just knew that we wanted to be married, had time-off in the summer, and thought--why wait?  After getting engaged on April 21st, we were married July 30th.  Here's how we made it happen.  (It wasn't even that stressful!)

1. Have your Bridesmaids' dresses made in Honduras.

The whole color scheme of my wedding was ultimately decided 
by the shade of yellow that the designer had available. 
photo by Josh Morris
My sister, along with Daniel's sister and brothers, comprised our wedding party. I was SO fortunate to have my sister in Honduras with me for my last month before summer break. That gave us time to have her fitted with a designer.  Daniel's sister, living here in Honduras, was also able to be fitted with the designer.  This prevented me from having to choose a bridesmaid dress while home in the summer with my other million things to do.  (It was also nice that I could bring the designer a picture of whatever I wanted!)

2. Get a package deal on your vendors.

Photo by Josh Morris
My mom hunted for locations while I was away, and we ended up choosing The Chapel and Tavern in the Garden in Port Orange, Florida.  They had a special promotion going on in July, so we got the use of all four of their buildings (the chapel for the wedding, the Tavern for the reception, an old train for the guys to get ready, and a gorgeous house for the girls to get ready and for Daniel and I to spend the wedding night).  The promotion also included the catering and DJ.  A lot of decisions were made in one.  

3. Know People.  

photo by Josh Morris
I LOVE my bouquet!!!! 

 My florist has been my neighbor my whole life and she's awesome.  I just showed her my (pinterest) collection of flowers I liked and said, "make something I'd like"... and she totally succeeded! She has also worked with the Chapel in the Garden lots of times and so she knew of things I would need/not need--things I would have never considered. This is her :

My friend, Mandi, just happened to e-mail me the week I was stressing about finding a photographer while in Honduras, and said that her husband was doing some wedding photography.  I saw some of his work, liked it, (he even speaks Spanish!) and bam--another decision made fast! This is him:  Morris Media

4. Make your own invitations.

Ok, So I guess this part probably doesn't belong in a list of how to do things FAST.  We spent a while designing our invitations, choosing a printer, and then correcting the mistake that made them print without cropping everything off, but we think it was worth it.  Without tons of planning time, I think wedding details can tend to get too "off the rack" (read: from Michaels or Target).  You know... I wanted to just be married, and many times that meant saying, "the heck with it" and going with an easy version of something I would have otherwise made (because I'm a make-it-yourself kind of girl).  However, when it comes to paper... I'm hesitant to give away that kind of responsibility. 
Which is why I also made my programs.
My good-with-computers hubby designed the image.
AND I painted some rocks as table numbers and decorations.
I guess that's not paper... but it's crafty, nonetheless.
(If you check out my post about how he proposed, you'll understand the rock thing.)

5. Seek assistance.  
Get those talented friends to work!  

My friend, Rachel, painted my fingerprint tree guestbook.

My wonderful sister made my little cake and cupcakes!
My mother grew tons of succulents after I decided on them as my favors.
I made the little paper flags that served as guests' escort cards.
And my mom, sister and I spent one evening stamping, tying,
and gluing the little tags to the pots.
They said "T & D" and "Let Love Grow" 

6. Go dress shopping your first day back in the U.S. and do not return home without one.
Ok, so this picture was actually taken the day after the wedding... but it seems
 that I never acquired any pictures from dress-shopping day.
I looked at dresses in Honduras, but they were all too pricey (being imported) and nothing I really fancied.  I considered having my dress made, but, never having tried on a dress style I loved, I didn't even know what to ask for.  Plus, the time crunch would have been stressful.  So, on my very first day home, my mom, sister, and best friend, Mackenzie, went to some local dress stores.  Fortunately, we found my dress in town and got a great seamstress to alter the heck out of it since I didn't have time to order one in my size.  

6. Be a teacher. 
This is just a little something that made the short engagement possible. Having a month and a half prior to the wedding to do nothing but wedding stuff is a very helpful bonus.  

7. Pick a great guy.
a Josh Morris photo
The most important of all--choose a man who can help without needing to be told what to do, who knows how to calm you down when you feel overwhelmed, and who cries when he sees you walking down the aisle, letting you know that it was all so worth it! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why DO Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears?

This is the book we have been reading and acting out this week at school: 

THIS is an idea of the disgusting creature that, very literally, buzzed in my ears all night last night.  

Is that considered ironic?  Well, regardless... it was terribly annoying.  

But it left me wondering... why DO mosquitoes buzz in our ears?  I mean, I'm sure we've all been there.  You are rudely awoken by the annoying noise and swat it away, only to have it return less than a minute later.  So next time you pull the sheet up over your head, but then you can't breathe and have to position the sheet just so in order to cover everything except your nose.    If you're lucky enough to fall back asleep that way, the sheet will inevitably slide off and you will be re-awoken by the buzzing once more.  

I googled the question to see what I could find out about the buzzing mystery.  (It took some creative rewording to get past the children's book results.)  A lot of message board type sites offered answers like, "they buzz everywhere, you just hear it by your ears because your ears can hear,"  or other uninspired responses like, "They just do it to annoy you."  

I did find one promising answer.  I can't guarantee their credibility, but I'll share what they have to say anyways.  It's from a site called


"The commitment a mother bears her children, biological imperative though it may be, can produce some astounding behavior. Fathers, take note. Not one of the 3,000 known species of mosquitoes features a male willing to dine on blood for his kids.

In most species the female requires a meal of blood to aid in egg production, in addition to her usual diet of nectar.

To find victims, the mother-to-be follows cues like our body heat, moisture and carbon dioxide emissions. In particular, the carbon dioxide we exhale attracts the insect to our heads, where they fly around looking for a tasty spot.

The telltale buzz that precedes the poke of her proboscis is not some guttural pre-meal grace, but rather the high-pitched whine of rapidly-beating wings."


Who knows what the truth may be.  Perhaps, as the African Folktale suggests, the mosquitoes really are just buzzing around to ask, "is everyone still angry at me?"  As the story goes, when they ask that question, the always get an honest answer..."SPLAT!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Owl for Evie

My weekend was quite relaxing, but productive and full of crafts (i.e. my favorite kind of weekend).  
I got to go to the feeding center on Saturday, which is always a weekend-booster. 
I got a jump-start on Valentine's Day and made a few quick things to give to the hubby.  
I also made a little owl for my friend, Twana's, niece.  Twana's (twin) sister, brother-in-law, and their daughter, Evie, were in Honduras visiting before they flew back to China, where they currently live.  It just so happened to be Evie's first birthday while she was here.  So, of course, we threw her a party. 
Here's the owl I made: 

I altered/enlarged the owl ornament pattern that I found here:  Felt Owl Ornament Pattern

Twana with Evie

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Making Coffee on a Sunday Morning

This is my new coffee-making procedure at home.  They sell these little cheesecloth socks in the coffee aisle at every grocery store.  All you do is put the coffee inside and then pour hot water through it.  

I do have a real coffee-maker... but I think I have given up on it.  The coffee it makes always tastes terrible.  I've tried messing with the ratios, I have tried replacing it's built-in filter with a paper filter, and my last attempt was using my new Starbucks Christmas blend coffee; thinking surely that would taste better--but no.  

So, aside from the fact that little coffee grounds sometimes escape through the cloth, this method produces much yummier coffee than my cheap-o coffee pot.  

No church for me today, unfortunately.  Daniel helped our pastor find a person to hire to run their sound equipment and get everything set up on Sunday mornings (our church rents a place each week instead of owning their own building, so there is a lot to get ready and take down on Sundays).   So, since Daniel is the one who knows about all the equipment and who found the guy, he had to wake up and leave wayyyyy too early this morning in order to help him out his first week on the job.  
I decided to stay home, instead of getting to church three hours early and then sitting through the two hour sermon.  I'll listen to a sermon online today.  

Happy Sunday. Enjoy your coffee. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Amazing Voyage of Jackie Grace

I found a cool blog called Vintage Children's Books My Kid Loves . On that site, I came across this book, which looks like a perfect book for boys (I'm always on the hunt for those).  

A look inside: 

Friday, January 13, 2012

My class rocks.

It's Friday and I love my class.  
That's all I have to share today.  

Aren't they precious?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ALA winners

So, as I was saying I missed being up-to-date in the children's literature world... I did a little surfing today and stumbled across the American Library Association's winners from 2010.  Yea, it's a year old.  But it reminded me of lots of book I've read and lots I haven't, too.  This link is mostly just so that I can go back and find it if I need to... but if anyone else fancies a look, here ya go:   2010 winners

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I (finally) finished the Bible!

I did it!  

Up until today, I couldn't honestly say that I had read the entire Bible.  In spite of being in Bible studies since 9th grade,  I'd never stuck to a reading plan that took me through every single verse.  I had probably read something from all of the books in the Bible, but not every verse from every book.  I have the "One Year Bible", but the out-of-orderness of it bothered me and I quit after a few weeks.   I tried reading and checking off the little boxes in the reading plans that come in the front of some regular Bibles, but I never kept up with it, and the same-old-story goes for every other reading plan I had ever tried.  

BUT, I actually stuck with a plan--and finished it.  But here's the thing--and don't judge me!  It was a one-year reading plan, but it took me two years and 10 days to complete (having begun on January 1, 2010).  My two-year stretch might cause some to question my stick-to-it-ness, but the way I see it, it just shows that this time I had double the amount of perseverance--two years worth!  

But, seriously, let me explain.  A fellow teacher from my first year in Honduras came from Birmingham, where she attended this huge church, with a pastor who has since written books and become quite renowned.  The church did a sort of new-years-resolution project that was so radical that they called it "The Radical Experiment." It involved reading the whole Bible, praying for the whole world, committing your life to multiplying community, sacrificing money for a specific purpose, and spending time in another context--all in a one-year time frame.  This teacher and my friend/roommate, Twana, who were jointly reading through the Bible, inspired me to give this reading plan a try.  

Something I really enjoyed about this reading plan, compared to others I've tried, is that it is arranged in chronological order.  This meant that instead of plugging along through some of the seemingly relentless Old Testament history, it would sometimes be mixed with some Psalms that David wrote during those events.  It made for a nice mix.  

Here is a link to the "resources" page of the Radical Experiment.  If you scroll past the "pray for the world" section, you will come to the Bible reading plans.  The first is the chronological plan I followed.  
I can't find the cool book-mark shaped version that I used and cut out in order to always have with me, but I do have another more compact version saved on my computer.  If you want it, I'll e-mail it to you.  

So hooray for me.  I'm very happy to have completed this, but I'm also happy to not have a "plan" for a little while.  I just want to dig into the Word wherever I want at the moment.  

"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.      -----Jeremiah 9:23-24

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coffee and Children's Books

Today I had coffee with my friend Sarah after school.  Sarah used to teach first grade at Pinares, but she switched to third grade this year. Ironically, when Sarah was a first grade teacher, I got to see her and chat every day because of a mutual planning period.  Now that she teaches the same grade as I, however, we barely get a chance to say three words to one another during the day (no mutual planning period this year...)  It's sad because she is pretty much the coolest, most joyful and caring person I know.
Anyways, we went for coffee and then stopped by Spain's Cultural Center which has had a children's book illustration exhibit on display for a couple months now.  It's an awesome exhibit because it's art + children's books = two of my very favorite things.  I had been before and seen the display, but I noticed again a book they have set out, called The War of the Numbers (published in 2009 in Spain, written/illustrated by Juan Darién.) 
It's a very creative, fun story about how the poor number 1 feels sad about being so small, so he fights back with a new secret weapon--the minus sign.  Pretty soon, all the other numbers get beaten down to measly old zeros. But the ending is happy, when the one and zero unite to create a new number: 10!

It's been almost 3 years since I finished my master's degree and spent quality time with really cool children's literature, and I miss it. I want to do more to keep up to date with what is happening in the Kid Lit world.  Maybe I will keep sharing what I find.  :)
Happy Tuesday.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Rich and Poor

"Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America, suffers from extraordinarily unequal distribution of income, as well as high underemployment"
(from the CIA World Factbook;

I was looking up some information about Honduras this evening, trying to remember some of the startling poverty statistics I've heard and forgotten over my years here.  This site ,  or the CIA factbook,  might interest you. This list of countries by GNI was intriguing as well.

I learned that 60% of Hondurans live below the poverty line (and although I gave up the search before I could find out exactly what I was looking for, I've been told that most of that 60% is way, way below the line).  I learned that the GDP per capita in Honduras is $4,200 (compared to the $47,000 GDP of USA.)

What got me thinking about all of this was a conversation with a student's mom today.  This particular mom is quite fascinating.  In a country where 0.5% of the population have a Masters degree, she has two, and is in the middle of a PhD. at Harvard. We were mulling over the lives of the kids at our school; kids who come from that teensy-tiny percentage of elite citizens of Honduras; kids whose whole worlds include their home, their school, their church, their swimming lesson club, and maybe the mall.  These kids aren't allowed to walk around outside. They literally can't.go.outside. many times.  Our school playground is their outdoors.  Their trips to the U.S. or Europe are their chances to walk around on city streets because walking down a city sidewalk is something they have never done in their own country.  This particular mom was telling me that her son went to the Quincy market in Boston, and it was his first time in a market "because he would NEVER be allowed to go to a market here!"

All of this is just swimming around in my mind a lot lately.  How these kids who bring in things like iPods, iPhones, Toms shoes, and $300 headphones for show-and-tell are also kids who can't leave their houses and who don't know a single thing about the way life is in their country.  These kids, who are most likely the future of this country--the ones who will fill the professional and political jobs in 20 years--are the most sheltered from the way of life facing 90% of the population.  These kids who have so much more than most kids, and yet, in other ways, have less.

My heart just breaks for the kids in Honduras, both the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.  They are all missing out on so much.

(Now, I can't let you leave with a bad image of my students in your mind. Yeah, they are spoiled and, many, rich; but they are also the most precious, loving, and compassionate kids I know.  I adore them.  They still pray every day for the poor kids they served on a field trip in second grade. When they hear about problems like poverty or natural disasters or war, they brainstorm ways to help.  My prayer is that these kids really do fill up the important jobs in their country and, with the purity and innocence of third graders, find ways to change things.)

Saturday, January 07, 2012


My darling sister, Mallory, informed me that my last blog post was titled, "Summer is here"... and it's now January.  
The creative bug in me (and that jealous bug that sees such cool blogs out there and wants to be like their authors) has been itching to write for some time now.  But how do you pick up and get started again when so much has happened??  
I guess I will write about the major, most life-altering event that has happened since my last post:  I got married!  

My photos were taken by Josh Morris.
Since I got married and then left the country right after the honeymoon, I didn't see anyone after the wedding until our trip to Florida for Christmas break.  So this December, Daniel and I got to see friends and family pretty much for the first time as a married couple.   Everyone asked us one (or more) of these three questions: 

a)  "So, how's married life?"
b)  "What's the most surprising thing you've experienced about marriage?"
c)  "What do you guys eat?"

Sometimes I didn't know what to answer... but as more and more people asked the same questions, it got my brain in gear.  here are some answers to those common questions: 

a) Married life is absolutely wonderful; completely comfortable; totally strange; sacred; perfect; messed-up; scary; easy; and hard... all wrapped into one.  At least that's how it seems to me today, in my pensive mood.  Ask me when I'm frustrated or sick of things not being done the way I've gotten used to them and I might choose one of the more negative adjectives.  Or ask me after a cozy, wake-up-slow Saturday morning and I'll probably pick "wonderful".   But over all, my love for Daniel is growing every day (which is such a cliché, I know, but it's true...)  and it is a pleasant surprise every time that sudden realization hits me--"Oh my gosh! I'm actually married!"

b) I think the most surprising thing to me about marriage is how hard it is to budget and manage money.  I think I expected money stuff to be easier with two incomes, but it's not.  Also... when your money becomes "our" money... how are you really expected to buy gifts for one another without them knowing??  Any advice on that would be appreciated! 

c)I'm a vegetarian (well, a pescatarian...) and he eats meat.   That part has not been an difficult as so many people seem to think.  Sometimes I cook, sometimes he cooks.  Some things I make are: fish tacos; a layered "mexican lasagna" with beans, cheese, etc;  Soups; pastas ; omelets ; salad ; curried lentils/chickpeas over rice ; pizza ; and so on.  Daniel makes Honduran stuff, like baleadas (tortillas with refried beans, eggs, avocado, cheese, cream, etc. inside), or plato tipico (basically all the stuff in a baleada, just out on your plate instead of in a tortilla). He also makes some delicious pancakes :)  

So, that's that for now.  Next time maybe I'll post about something else that's been happening in my life, like my amazing group of students this year, our plans to move back to the States, our travels, or whatever strikes my fancy.