Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Update on Week 2...We're Back from Missouri Already

28/6/11
Kristen says...

It's amazing to me that I even bothered to bring my camera back to the States from Honduras...I think I've taken all of 5 pictures since I've been home.

We spent the long weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and took not one picture! (But, since it's a family place we were staying at, I can add a picture or two to give you an idea...)












And, just because it's fun, here's a picture of Pip down at the Lake:
My parents, my sister and her husband (and Ezra) were already there when we arrived, and they left 2 days before us...we went with a co-worker or Chris' (coincidentally also named Chris) and his wife Joy, and had a wonderful time...mostly we relaxed and read (I got a Kindle, I'm ashamed to say, so I broke that in over the weekend), although the boys went out on the boat and the jet skis...

Tomorrow we're (hopefully) hopping on Amtrak to visit Chicago...we went there for the first time together for our honeymoon in 2006, and so far we have gone back every other year since then, so I'm very excited for that little mini-vacation this weekend!

Here's some pics from our last trip (apparently I was strictly using a film on our honeymoon...I don't have any digital pictures from 2006)












Hope you're having a lovely summer, and Happy 4th of July! :)
KF

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Week Gone...

22/6/11
Kristen says...

I can't believe we've been in the States for an entire week already!

And believe it or not, it's gone surprisingly slowly...which is awesome! I have had a ton of time with my family (especially my nephew Ezra! He's 6 months old and SOOOO cute!) and just...a ton of time...I haven't really DONE anything, which is awesome...and very decadent...I am sure I will feel a little bad about this at some point, but right now I am loving it!!!

I was also surprised at how long it took me to lose my "Spanish-brain"...even though I was always kind of bad at Spanish anyway, I have still found myself ordering "jugo de manzana" instead of apple juice, and saying "permiso" rather than "excuse me"...so I'm hopeful that my Spanish won't totally be gone by the time I get back to Honduras.

I am DEFINITELY missing Pip...I had my first Pip-dream last night, which means he's been on my mind a lot...but he's staying with good friends, so I'm sure everything is good with him.

Anyway, that's all then news that's fit to print...I will try to keep updating once we've actually done something...we have trips to the Lake of the Ozarks and Chicago coming up, so there's something for you to look forward to. :)

KF

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Small Update...from the States!

16/8/11
Kristen says...

Yep, you read right...Chris and I left on a jet plane two days ago and are now comfortably residing with our families in Iowa! We had 2 safe plane trips home (although we almost missed the one from Houston to Des Moines...I think we are going to buy watches while we are home)

So far Chris has been working and I have been running errands and snuggling with Ezra, my 6-month old nephew :) He is ADORABLE! I will put up pictures of him sometime soon :)

Of course, you always forget things when you travel...I made a REALLY big boo boo and left my retainers in Honduras! Oops! Mom and I made a plastic mouth guard for me to sleep in tonight, but I'm really hoping my teeth don't move too much in the next 5 weeks...I've worn the retainers every night for 7+ years, so hopefully they're pretty "set" by now...

Other than that, it's been a great trip home so far! This weekend is Father's Day and will be the first time all 5 of my siblings and I will be home since Christmas...and all our significant others will be here, too, which is also really cool. Next week we are starting the "vacation" part of the trip with a weekend in Missouri and a half week in Chicago...I will do my best to keep updating the blog while we're home!

Hope your summer is starting off great!
KF

Friday, June 3, 2011

Feliz aniversario para nosotros!

6/3/11
Kristen says...

If you're paying attention, you might notice that I wrote today's date (above) in the "US" way, rather than the European or Honduran way I have been using lately...

I did that for a reason, other than that it's just easier for me because that's how I think of dates...

And today's date is an important one, because today is Chris' and my 5-year wedding anniversary! Yes, on 06/03/06, in a little town called Oskaloosa, Iowa, Chris and I were married.
It was a great day then, and I am still enjoying the results 5 years later...and I think I'll speak for Chris (although he has asked me not to before) and say he's enjoying it too...or at least, he's still putting up with me!
Today was Graduation at school, and we get to take off or an extended "vacation" in Iowa this summer on the 14th...it's funny to think of Iowa as vacation and Honduras as home, but that's kind of how it's become lately...we were having a conversation with some friends the other day and remarking on how much Honduras does feel like home now, a year later...but I am sure Iowa will feel homey as early as the 15th! Because you know, home is where your mom is! :)

KF

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

OLYMPICS!!!!!!

1/6/2011
Kristen says...

(sorry, 4 in one day is really ridiculous, I know! But I have to make up for all that time I didn't post!!!)

BUT WE GOT OLYMPICS TICKETS!!!!!!!!!

Remember how we signed up to buy Olympics tickets a few months ago?

Well, we heard this past week that we got tickets!!!

Of course, we didn't get exactly what we asked for...we originally signed up for swimming, gymnastics, tennis, table tennis, equestrian and fencing...

and we got...

fencing. Only.

BUT, we got tickets!!

WE'RE GOING TO THE OLYMPICS!!!!!!

There are two more rounds to get tickets, another bidding round on available tickets and an open-line free-for-all. Chris' aunt also went to the Sydney games and was able to buy tickets day-of for some events, so hopefully that will work out for us too.

I AM SO EXCITED!!!!! :):):)

(Ok I promise this is my last post for the day.)

Here's a cute picture of Pip to make you smile.
KF

Motifs #s 9, 10, and on the road to 11! (oh, and some cute Honduran kids)

1/6/2011
Kristen says...

I have been doing some tatting too!! :)

I have three large balls of this kind of uglyish tan yarn, so I figured I'd better start using it...just for fun, I thought I'd try this triangle motif (#9)
...it worked so well in tan that I thought I'd use it to make a doily thingy. The doily starts with these two triangles and motif #10, this pretty wine-colored circle:
Then I put the triangles and the circle together. Here's the back:
Then I added a new color and a new round. I'm not counting this as another motif, because I consider it just one step on the way to the finished product...here's the front and the new color:
And another color and another round:
And another...(it was a long weekend, and they went pretty quickly)
And the last, from the front and the back:












Well, there it is, so far...there's a few more rounds to go, and I will share them with you when they're completed...(by the way, I'm working on the Celtic Sugar and Spice Doily out of Tina Neudorf's "Needle Tatting from the Heart".)

What's your opinion so far?? I'd love to know your opinion of the color scheme...

Also, just for kicks, here are some cute kids from our orphanage trip on Sunday:












KF

Cigar Factory Visit (See How Fast that Was?)

6/1/2011
Kristen says...

Have you even finished reading my last blog/rant?

The keys are still warm from my typing that one!

I wanted to share with you the interesting experience Chris and I (and about 15 other people) had on Monday...we drove 2 hours south-ish to visit the Rocky Patel cigar factory in Danli (they make disgusting cancer-causers like (obviously) Rocky Patel cigars and (bet you didn't know this) Swisher Sweets)

Now, you might ask, why would an asthmatic and person obviously biased against cigars (and cigarettes, I am an equal-opportunity cancer-stick hater) voluntarily visit a factory where these things are created (and, I might add, smoked)?

Well, a couple of reasons. One was for the cultural experience...I mean, it's not every day you get to see something like that made by hand. Another was that I didn't want to stay home all day and thus have to think about all the school stuff I have to do. Finally, my husband was going, and I like spending time with him. :)

SO, Chris and I and two of our friends took off bright and early in an Embassy-sponsored caravan of cars to visit this den of inequity...or something like that...

The factory itself was just a huge warehouse-looking thing...and inside it was filled with people sitting or standing in rows and doing every bit of cigar processing, all the way from sorting the leaves to packaging the final products.

Here are some explanatory photos and videos:

First these ladies sorted the leaves, and took out the middle stems:












Then the leaves were delivered to the next station where they were rolled into the insides of the cigars, thus:



(The guy is putting it into a press at the end...he will put a cover on all those cigars then use a vice-grippy thing on the side of his work station to squeeze the cigar...not sure why.

Then this guy checks all the cigars for draw-ability in the aptly-named "Drawmaster" machine:
If they read between 40 and 50 then they are passed on to be covered over, thus:

**Editor's note: for some reason Blogger won't let me upload the second video here; I will try again tomorrow**

After that they are stacked, bundled, checked, etc, then put into wrappers and boxes:












Then, of course, people feel the need to smoke the silly things:
I am sure I've missed some steps, but that's all I have good pictures of ;)
At the end of the tour we all got to pick out our own tobacco and have a custom-cigar made just for us. I did have a cigar made, but I will be letting Chris 'moke it.

I was very surprised at how leathery some of the tobacco felt--I thought it would be all dry and nasty. I was also surprised that Rocky Patel makes Swisher Sweets, the only brand of cigars I have ever heard of...of course...if you look closely at the wrapper of Swisher Sweets, it says they are made in...the USA...which is wrong, because I saw them being made right here in Honduras!!





























Another non-cigar related part of the trip? On the way home we saw this spectacularly funny sight:














I especially appreciate the Hondurans standing on the bridge gawking!


Well, it was a great trip! I learned way more about making cigars than I ever wanted to know, and saw something funny on the way home!

Tatting and cute kids are coming up in the next post!
KF

Only 5 more days!

1/6/2011
Kristen says...

You know it's been a long time since you blogged when your little brother is "scolding" you for neglecting your blog...but seriously, I can't believe how busy I am!!! I have had little to no time to blog in the past few weeks...this end of the school year thing is killing me!

Last year (my only year of teaching, mind you), the only thing I had to do to turn in grades at the end of the year was hit a "send" button...then they were whisked away and the counselors did whatever else was needed to process them/make sure the government got them/whatever they did with grades.

Here in Honduras...totally different!!!

In Honduras there are multiple steps to submitting year-end grades:

1) Finish calculating grades (this had to be done last week for 6th grade and seniors due to Friday's graduation, and had to wait until this week for 7th and 8th grade due to finals and end-of-the-year quizzes).
2) Notify any 6th or 12th grade student who fails your class, then give them a study guide and create and administer recoup tests (I had one). Wait until you have checked this recoup test to proceed to number 3. (Unless they failed...then you can just proceed because they get to take a second recoup test in the summer when you are far away and on vacation...)
3) Post grades to the in-school network gradebook (aka a really fancy spreadsheet that calculates all your grades for you! Yay!), one student at a time. This takes FOREVER.
4) (7-12th grade only) Complete the Honduran Cuadro, or official grade sheet, which is another fancy spreadsheet. For each class, (por ejemplo, 7th grade A) on the Cuadro you must:
  1. Fill in the official birth name of all students, girls first, in alphabetical order by first name
  2. Input number of absences by quarter
  3. Input quarter grade for just your class, divided by two so that the spreadsheet can re-calculate the final grade...(Why? you ask? Great question. Let me know if you find out.)
4.1) (6th grade only) Complete a different Honduran Cuadro manually, by hand, inputting not only the grade for your own class, but the grades of all the other classes they have taken this year...this means getting grades from approximately 8 other people...and hopefully they give you the right grades, because otherwise you have to REDO THE ENTIRE THING!!! (This actually happened to me. I was not pleased).
5) (6th grade only) Complete the Honduran Cuadro computer program, inputting the EXACT SAME INFORMATION you just wrote out on the hand-written Cuadro into a computer program that looks like it was written in the 1950s...
6) Write narratives
  1. Group Narratives: A description of what the student should have learned during the last quarter, listing any or all projects, quizzes, and areas of study. This will be copied and pasted into each individual students' narrative document (aprox 5-6 pages/student)
  2. Individual Narratives: 3-5 sentences tailored to each individual student explaining •how well they did in your class •how badly they did in your class •How much you like them, or •What they need to do not to fail your (or someone elses' class next year)
7) Give your narratives (all 3-7 pages of them) to a native-English speaker to check (I have checked 4 sets of narratives in the past week, in addition to my own).
8) Make any changes they suggest (and you agree with), then copy and paste each individual and group comment into the students' narratives document
9) Sit back and breathe until they tell you that you did it wrong and have to do everything again (ok that was my bad dream last night, but still...they get checked next week, and I can't leave the country until I get them perfect...)

And that's just submitting the grades! I have a checklist of 16 official things (ranging from turning in keys to lists of lost or damaged books to a major room and textbook inventory) that I have to do before next Thursday...and if I don't do them all (or any of my colleagues don't) then all our salaries are withheld until everyone does it. I do not want to be the reason anyone's salary is withheld, believe me! My own personal "to-do" list has leached over to page 2.

Not that I'm complaining, really... (ok, I have been doing a bit of that, I admit, but seriously. Lots of work)

I have actually had a bit of me-time lately...this past weekend (Memorial Day weekend) was a 3-dayer for us at Discovery, and I promised myself I wasn't going to do anything school related until Monday...and I didn't.

I read 1.5 books, did some tatting, and visited a cigar factory...but you will have to check out my next posts (coming VERY soon, I promise) to learn about the tatting and the visit...

Now I have to go write 2 more recoup tests...woot!
KF