Thursday, May 30, 2013

277 days....

What I crave at this very moment is piece of chocolate cake, paired with a latte sprinkled with cinnamon on top. Perhaps sitting in a comfy chair, surrounded by blankets, with my friends and family around. I would like the snow to be falling outside. Taking in each bite and soaking in every person around me as the blanket of snow fell outside.

Instead at this moment I sit inside a school, with a tin roof above my head, waiting the arrival of twenty two second graders. Waiting for them to run up the path with their book bags trailing behind, their hair gelled in perfect place, white shirts on. Boys in blue pants and girls in knee high white socks and braided hair. The sun is already shining brightly, proof of another hot and humid day ahead. The bugs land on my arm as I type and drink my coffee out of a plastic cup.

It is May 30, 2013. Exactly 277 days ago I arrived in Honduras to teach for one year. Today I sit waiting to begin my very last full day teaching. The remaining six days of school will finish at noon. And then next Saturday I will leave.

You can only imagine the emotional weight of this reality.

So in an effort to live out the words that I had placed above my bed. "Wherever you are be all there" I am going to try and be present today. Be here in this place. Soaking up each second, each smile, each tear, and every word that my kids say. When Caleb is out of his chair for the tenth time today, I hope I am able to be patient, and calmly ask he sit down. I want to laugh when they say something funny and not be frustrated when they speak out of turn. I just want to be here. No place else today.

How nice it would be to be in more than a few places at the same time in life. Be here to watch my little second graders grow up. See who they become in days and years to come.

How grateful I would be to be at home in Kentucky today, to stand alongside my very best friend from growing up as she says goodbye to her grandfather (who I too dearly loved).

But instead I am here. And I know that  in a few days time, I will be wishing I were back here again.

So I hope you too find that wherever you are, you know that you are exactly where God had you be today. I hope you too don't miss it. Don't miss why he had you where you are.

But instead "Wherever you are, be all there"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Four Letters to People....

I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave unmentioned what the recipient already knows, and instead tell him something new.  ~Sigmund Freud

I have been giving a lot of thought to my time in Honduras... the time that has passed and the very people that played a role in me coming in the first place. So here below are three special letters to people, enjoy:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for never doubting my decision. For your support while your daughter yet again moved and quit her job. For looking me in my eyes with nothing but love. For  offering up anything you could, asking questions about this new adventure, for facetime dates and for making my welcome home at Christmas incredible. For knowing this was on my heart and encouraging me to go for it. I will be eternally grateful for your unwavering love and support for me to run after the things I love and that regardless of the outcome you are there right alongside me.

Love Bean

Dear Roommates,

You may very well get the biggest letter but I reckon you might get tired of reading, so I will try to be brief. You already know that you have become my sisters here. Thanks for drinking wine on a Monday night because we needed it, for teaching me englishisms (fancy, rubbish, swimming costume, fags), for putting up with my love to clean (your often disappearing cups that I have already washed),  for laughing with me about this place (animals in our house, the boys, continuous floods), dealing with my cabbage obsession, for being honest, for covering my classes when I was sick (way to many times in a row and when I went on holiday with my family), for sharing your food. Alison thank you for the popcorn. Faye thank you for being an expert bartender. Thanks for doing yoga with me, making sure I was not the only person that would complain about no water, freezing cold water, how hot the water was or our broken refrigerator. For laughing about the flooded house, the mice, the rubbish that never got picked up for our first month and the rainy cold November. For knowing exactly how I felt and empathizing. For often saying something to pick me up and not saying anything when you know that is what I needed most.

There is barely a memory that you were not apart of and for that I owe you the biggest thanks. Thanks for the laughs, the joy and you can be certain I will miss you dearly.

The original four, Alison (South Africa) Molly (England), Me, Faye (England)
 Me, Faye (England), Kate (Georgia), Molly (England), Alison (South Africa)

Rose (Georgia), Molly, Alison, Me//// Kylie (Arkansas), Me

Dear Ramon and Lot,

Thank you for always smiling when we walk to your counter at the D and D sometimes more than a handful of times in a week. For being friends that never complained about the many times we talked about school. Lotte for loving yoga and for all the many times that we practiced together, it was such a nice escape to come to your house and get away. 
You have made your way into the top of my list of favorite people I have ever met. Your selflessness, honesty, joy for life and compassion for people is unlike anyone I have met before. You will be surely missed. So look forward to seeing where you go in your future.

Love Kristina


To blog readers and followers,

Thank you for your support and love. For the countless comments, for reading, for laughing, for praying and for loving my kids as much as I do. I cannot tell you how much the notes mean, and knowing that someone else cares. For those of you that I did not know even read this thing, I am grateful you do. Sorry for the grammar mistakes and often rambling thoughts.... Hope you have enjoyed :) (Ps its not over yet) As well friends who have taken the time to facetime, or skype or play email pin pals thank you too!

Now on for my last Tuesday full of classes, next week is exams.... Love Me

See previous Letter posts here:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Singing Pitbull with my Kids and Sweet Wine

Did you know that birds still sing in the rain..... Its pouring outside at this very moment and the birds are still singing. A bit of a cheesy metaphor but I like it.... do you still find joy when life comes raining down on you...... (Ok really cheesy)

It often sounds as though we live in a bird sanctuary here.... there is one bird that makes a sound as though he is whistling at you..... you know what I mean the low pitch, then high pitch... "Hey girl" kind of whistle. I told Alison that it makes me laugh every time.  I like to think that the bird is whistling at me. As though he is looking at me through the window saying good morning..... :)

Today was one of those days I am certain I will not forget. My kids did an activity where they wrote letters to their future third grade teacher (next year)......Introducing themselves, what class is their favorite, what they do not like, what they look forward to learning in third grade and their favorite candy (just in case the teacher wants to buy it for them). I enjoyed reading my kids replies and basically learned that their favorite part of this year was Art and Physical Education. They dont like English and cant wait to learn about Art in third grade :) too funny.

As my kids worked on their letters I played DJ and took musical requests..... Daddy Yankee, Sexy and I know it, Lord I lift your name on high, Don't Stop the Party, One Direction.... (quite the selection, and yes they knew all the words). So funny to watch as my kids sing..... and dance

The rain is pouring down..... Faye and I are drinking this horrible sweet Malbec wine (WHO ON EARTH MADE SWEET MALBEC???). I saw Malbec and purchased it. But I failed to read the part that said Dulce Natural (Sweet Natural).......epic fail. It is gross. But it was ten dollars of my very large teacher salary so we will drink it anyway....

Happy Monday to you....

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Last Weekend in Our Town.

One last weekend in our town and how do we spend it? Together. (Next weekend we are going to the beach together for one last Tela beach weekend)

On Friday as the bell rang I walked Alison's first graders out to the buses (which meant we marched, walked with our hands on our heads, and I had them follow me around in circles). Something happens to kids when they get to second grade. They become so independent and rotten. Her first graders were so sweet. My kids run out the door at the bell.

It was beautiful Friday afternoon. Alison, Rose and I walked home from school. I was only home minutes before Matt decided that we should go back to school and steal the flat screen TV (we asked permission) so that we could watch movies this weekend. Never a dull moment around here. Speaking of excitement.........

The mouse has made an appearance every night this week. Thursday night he ran just past me as I tried to hit him with the broom. Needless to say I am a little bitter. I really did not want it to have to come down to this but poison is the only option left. We decided that we have a decadent mouse, so Kylie placed chocolate frosting on top of a banana (he likes bananas, he ate all four of Kylie's the other night). This morning.... the banana is gone and the pizza is gone (all poisoned). Sorry I am not sorry little mouse. Here is to hoping he died outside..... and he is not lying dead some place in our house. (Gross).

Saturday early morning we took a row boat out on the lake..... Matt has mastered the rowing... (much harder than it looks. A little sunburn never hurt anyone....

Alison and I walked home from the lake and stopped for smoothies at the coffee shop. Days like these are what I will miss the most. No agenda and no schedule to keep. As we walked home, we waved to kids running outside, soaked in the sun beaming from up above and admired Santa Barbara Mountain that was crystal clear above us..... As we made our way into town Alison and I talked about leaving..... About all that we have waiting for us and all the worry we often do. Every time God never fails. Things always work out as they should, yet we can never seem to trust the process or be patient in the waiting. For all of us, the reality that waits for us after this is a lot of unknown.... but one thing Alison and I agreed on is that the worry helps nothing...

The rest of the day the others finished a puzzle on our kitchen table and I rested up (fighting off a sore throat). Today I am going into the city (San Pedro Sula) with Alison and Molly to go shopping. I need a few things for my upcoming travels....

Two weeks left.... Two weeks from today I am on a bus to Nicaragua then on down to Costa Rica. Below is short timeline of what I will be up too:

  • A. Saturday June 8, 2013 Leave Pena Blanca (our house) for Tegucigalpa. Stay one night.
  • B. Sunday June 9, 2013 Depart Tegucigalpa, Honduras for Managua, Nicaragua. Arrive in Managua that night. (stay in hostel)
  • C. Monday June 10, 2013 Depart Managua, Nicaragua for San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. Arrive in the early morning. 
    • Monday June 10, Tuesday June 11, Wednesday June 12 spent in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. (stay in hostel)
  • D. Thursday June 13, 2013 Bus to San Jose Costa Rica. Arrive late afternoon. (stay in hostel)
    • Friday June 14, 2013 San Jose, Costa Rica Yoga School Starts today until July 12, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Real adventure – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.

Last night we said goodbye Thomas. An impromptu acoustic singalong occurred in our room after dinner.... one guitar, seven of us circled around, singing along with lyrics, the final sips of wine and a candle slowly burning away. Singing along to Oasis, Wonderwall, Damien Rice and Hallelujah .... with small bits of laughter, only to suppress the emotional reality that we have only two weeks left together...

I look at pictures of my kids and tears begin to welp up.

Taking the bus home Sunday, I was looking out the window at the Lake and took a deep breath. In my mind I was heading home and the home I was referring to was Pena Blanca.... Almost ten months have passed and its hard to even imagine life some place else.

Wednesday while hiking in the rain with Matt and Lotte, Matt held out his arms wide as the rain drops poured. I could not help but think that is exactly how I feel. Arms stretched wide, trying to soak in every last bit of what is left. Experience everything. I am overwhelmed looking back at the past year and I cannot imagine having gone my life without this being apart of my story. 

I must admit I am a bit afraid to go home. Excited? Absolutely. Perhaps more nervous because I feel so different. And I know that things will look the same when I get back. Very little will have changed yet I come back someone new.

Of course there are more weddings on deck, more babies due, more houses purchased, more graduations that have happened. ....My car will start back up again. My things will be moved out of storage. Pictures will hang back on the walls. But the me that returns is not the same.

If I was honest I am afraid of how quickly it will wear off and how quickly I will get tired of it all. Get tired of the stuff, the bills, the things that seem like tragedies which are merely hiccups to the heartbreak here. Afraid of how much my heart will be left here.

I know I will think of the sweet faces, the big brown eyes, the long eye lashes,  and the shouting of "Miss". I will long for the days of stinky hot kids running in from recess. Long for the nights spent in the dark with my roommates because the power has gone out yet again. 

How long ago it was that we hiked to the waterfalls and ran to the bus in the pouring rain. How many nights we spent while Matt crashed in one of the girls beds. The countless family dinners. The mouse sitings, sunbathing, traveling......

How foreign this place felt and how normal it seems now.......

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tegucigalpa x2

Long overdue weekend recap.....

Last Friday at school was the Dia De Familia. (family day) It was a hot, long and exhausting program but my kids did so good. :)  In true Honduran time the program was set to start around 1:00 pm, which meant it started quarter till 2:00 pm... and did not finish until 5:30 pm. (could you imagine being a parent and sitting that long???)


Leaving the program before it finished we caught the bus around 4:30 pm and were Tegucigalpa bound. (Yes we went again, this time with Philip in tow) We arrived earlier than expected and Fernando picked us up. We quickly transformed from our teal Family Day Tshirts into our "Suit and Tie" attire for Hector's birthday party that we were attending that evening. Fernando had made reservations to stay at the Marriott for the night, so he was gracious enough to let us stay as well. To say the Marriott was nice is an understatement. After hostel hopping/ B&B staying in Central America, it felt so nice to walk on carpet, fall into a big comfy bed, watch TV, have the option for room service, take a hot and cold shower (meaning you can adjust the temperature). We did not want to leave.

Before heading to the party that night, we sat outside on the patio of the Marriott overlooking the city and the twinkling lights of the city. We drank cocktails and ate a yummy appetizer before heading out to the birthday party. We arrived at the party and it was so nice to walk in and see the same faces that we just seen the weekend before. We danced, talked and ate incredible appetizers at the poolside party until after 4 am in the morning. We finally fell asleep just as the sun was coming up at 6 am in the morning. It was a great night. I cant remember the last time I was up that late.

Saturday we made our way to the pool at the hotel around 12:45 pm to have lunch and relax. We laid poolside listening to the best of "Our Dads Music" (Bee gees, Elton John, Bread, Lionel Richie, Earth Wind and Fire, Bob Dylan, Commodores etc.) while soaking up a bit of sun.

That evening we went to the Angry Beaver. A pub owned by a Canadian man, that houses over 100 different kinds of beers from around the world. It is safe to say we were in beer heaven. Between the six of us we must have tried nearly fifteen or so different beers. I think Faye said it best, "I was more enamored by the outside seating area which would not have looked out of place anywhere in Europe. It was filled with an eclectic mix of 20-something Hondurans, mostly speaking English and listening to some really ‘interesting’ music. Needless to say we spent a very long time there." (I had a Anchor Steam: San Francisco  Prestige: Haiti, New Castle: England)

That night we headed to bed early, as we were still really tired from the night before.

Just before catching the bus on Sunday, Fernando took me to the grocery store in Tegucigalpa so I could buy chocolate chips, and a few other things I am unable to get in our town. I walked every aisle just to make sure I was not missing something..... After a four hour bus journey home Sunday, we all slept well that night. Now it is already Wednesday! My goodness time is flying.

Tomorrow evening we are saying goodbye to Thomas. He took a job with the Nashville Teaching Fellows in the States so he will be leaving Honduras two weeks earlier than the rest of us. We are hosting a family dinner potluck. I am going to make Kentucky Beer Cheese.... (Wish me luck). Looks like Friday Kylie and I are going to adventure our way to Ciaos Cochinos (rated one of the places in the world with the clearest water) on the Caribbean coast. (Only a few weeks left, got to squeeze it all in).

Below are some pictures from the weekend. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Love Letter to my Kids

To my dear second graders (all 22 of you),

Whew, trying to write without tears may be difficult, don't worry they are just simply tears of time. Tears that represent the days, the hours spent investing in you, teaching you, laughing with you, loving you and trying to not kill you. (you must agree sometimes you were pretty rotten).

Thank you for reminding me what it is like to be innocent and to forgive quickly  For teaching me to kick a futbol, to play in your desk without the teacher noticing and for the countless Spanish words you have translated. Thank you for being real, not faking emotion. For crying, laughing, giggling, smiling and being sad all in a few moments time. For working hard and for doing (most of the time) your homework. Thank you for the countless hugs, the I love yous and laughter. For forgiving me for the countless times I have shouted at you.

I pray you never go a day without knowing how special you are. That you know that God does not make mistakes and that no two people are the same. Neither are you.

I pray you know that you are hand crafted with gifts and talents that can and will make a lasting impact on this world, if only for just for one person. I pray that life challenges you, excites you and fills you with joy. I pray that you get to go on adventures. That you get to experience both heartbreak and love. That your life takes you by surprise and takes you places that even your dreams could have never imagined.  I pray that when you dance, you dance boldly with no inhibition. When you sing you sing loudly. When you laugh you let it come from deep in your belly. That when you work, you give it all you have. When you talk to others you chose wise words. When you listen you listen with intention. I pray that you grow up and become a person of integrity, that you live with conviction and you never settle for less than what you deserve.

Know that for the rest of my life you will be carried with me. When I have children of my own they will know about you. Thank you for the greatest ten months of my life and for reaffirming the fact that God is good and that when we trust him, he writes the greatest story for our lives.

Your teacher Miss Kristina


Monday, May 20, 2013

June 29, 2012 "Chose Adventure"

June 29, 2012, I remember telling my girlfriends at happy hour. In my honor, my best friend ordered a round of tequila for us. Standing at our our spot in the corner of the bar (Someday that spot will be engraved with our names). My best friend Meg stated perfectly.... "Cheers to Kristina for choosing adventure!"

August 23, 2012, I remember sitting with my three bags packed for the next ten months. Sitting in the Denver airport, staring out the window at the snow capped mountains. Smiling. Knowing I really was doing it. Pinching myself a bit to make sure it was real. I really quit my job and am moving to Honduras.

June 9, 2013, in just three weeks time,  I will board a bus to head south to Nicaragua. (then on to Costa Rica). Leaving Honduras. (for now)

In the past ten months I was a second grade teacher, one of the gringo maestros living in Pena Blanca and a roommate to six incredible girls. I jumped from cliffs, rafted down the Rio, sunbathed in Utila and rode the waves in Tela. Kayaked on the Lake, ruin adventured in Copan, did yoga on the beach, at the hacienda, and in the bay islands, shared many a meals with backpackers at the D and D, rode in the back of countless trucks, cooked many family dinners, hiked to waterfalls, spent Thanksgiving in Guatemala and Antigua, celebrated my birthday in Rio Dulce on a pontoon boat, spent many a nights in the dark laughing with my roommates, watched the killing of a mouse, seen too many bats to count, admired the mountains,  loved on orphans, cried tears of frustration, was homesick, and heartbroken grieving the loss of two dear friends. I spent Christmas in the States with my family, vacationed in Mexico in February. Sang countless days of the week, months of the year songs, did hundreds of yoga classes in my rooms and ran miles with Matt around our town. Celebrated birthdays in Tegucigalpa, sat lost in church while they spoke Spanish, hitchhiked, have eaten countless avocados, watermelons, pineapples and Cabbage.

As Meg said it last June, I chose adventure. An adventure is what I was given and yet so much more.

Only three weeks now before this chapter is finished... Have a great Monday. Hope when you get the opportunity you too choose adventure. Cheers

Top Classroom Moments

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. THey come to the door of a memory unannounced  stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these."- Susan B. Anthony

Below are some of my very favorite memories from this year and being in the classroom with my kids.... Enjoy

1. Paper Airplanes art activity. Decorating paper airplanes and flying them at my back, as I stood up against the wall is definitely a highlight. Like Red butt. If you played that game when you were a kid or wall ball as others have called it then you know what I mean. On a count down of 3 my kids flew their planes right at my back. (knowing they were not very good at making them, I knew they would not make it).

2. Fitness lesson..... watching my kids as they attempt to zumba and try yoga poses when we are learning about fitness Hilarious.

3. Asking the class to spell the number six. One of the kids raised his hand and confidently spelled "S---E-----X" I was writing on the board as well because I want them to see what is not correct and I about died laughing. (Yes i am still twelve years old apparently).

4. Vincent Van Gogh art lesson. Having the kids recreate Starry Starry Night.

5. Playing our team phonics game. Pictionary that requires them to sound out the word, spell it correclty in order for their team to get points. So much fun with second graders.... they shout out the funniest of things.

6. Seventh Grade reading buddies. Every few weeks we go to the Seventh grade for my kids to sit and practice reading with their assigned reading buddy. It is so cool to watch my kids all nervous around the big kids and the older kids sitting with them.

7. Heads up Seven Up. Kids love this game. They behave so well and play as a class. I have been able to play with my class without having to supervise. (if you do not know this game then well next time you see grade school kids in the states I am sure they can teach you).

8. Super Hero Sentences Hats. Creating and coloring sentence super heros Command, Exclamation, Question and Telling Sentences.

Karla, Andrea, Lizzy, Madeline and Sergio

9. Playing the Sentence game. I draw one Naming Part out of the Naming Part Bucket and One Action Part out of the action Part bucket. We combine the two and create a sentence. For example "Miss Kristina" "Swimming"= Miss Kristina likes to go swimming. A bit cheesy but my kids really enjoy it.

10. When trying to create a list describing the difference between Tornados and Hurricanes the boys could not find the words in english to describe a Tornado. They could not come up with a word to describe how a Tornado takes everything into itself. One of the boys explained, "you know miss when you take my toy car from my desk and my coloring book, and the notes" I laughed, "You mean the tornado sucks up things?" "YES YES, SUCKS, YES MISS  SUCKS". (not sure that is the exact word they were trying to think of).

11. Anytime my kids break out singing gangnam style song, in the middle of class. Yes they do this often.


12. After killing a bug on Caleb's desk (one of the most rotten boys in class). I walked over to pick it up off his desk. Just as I reached down to pick it up, he pushed my back and screamed.  I jumped and screamed myself. He just giggled and giggled because he knew that he got me good. (I was surprised)

13. Basketball hooping. Ever since we installed the basketball hoop in our classroom, the kids shoot with paper and often times attempt to dunk. (I ask they only do it when the trash can is under the basket).

14. The boys do this dance, they moon walk and they all get up in front of the classroom and I just stand and watch. What on earth? Where did they learn this stuff?

15. Howdy telling me that it was cold and asking to have the door shut to our classroom. After I told him no, and to keep the door open, he proceeds to tell me, but "Miss your sick, we should shut the door". Sweet sweet kids.

Roberto and Me

16. Showing them basketball highlight videos on youtube. I was explaining about Louisville Basketball and wanted them to see my team in action. So I showed them one of Chane's dunks. They loved it.

17. Genesis running up to me the morning after Louisville won the National Championship. "Miss they won!" "Yes they did!". She watched with her dad at home, she saw my team win.

Genesis and Me on Photobooth
18. Playing musical chairs. We did not have music so my kids told me to clap my hands and they would know when to grab a chair based on when I stopped clapping. It was a day of fun and games and watching them play, giggle and laugh is something I will not forget.

Musical Chairs
19. Watching the Indy 500 with a bunch of the boys while we waited for the bell to ring, on my computer. One of my notoriously bad boys loves cars so I knew he would like the videos. All of sudden eight second grade boys climbed all around me to point and argue over which one was which car. Arguing over the colors and who was in the lead.... it was a beautiful moment.

20. When we sing "Whos the King of the Jungle" an old vacation bible school song. We stand our chairs, sing and do motions. Nothing like acting like a monkey....

Lizzy and Genesis

21. Of course the Louisville Cheer. Watching my kids proudly scream and shout "C_A_R_D_S" with their L's up. Nothing makes this girl prouder. Not to mention it being on TV in Louisville.

22. Playing futbol with the 3rd graders at recess. I had a great header and all of them cheered outloud. Proud teacher moment.

23. Waving to Mr. Matt as he walks by outside the classroom. They all jump on their chairs and on the count of three we say, "Hi Mr. MATT!!"

Sergio taking role call, one of my rewards for good behavior.

24. Watching Magic School bus, watching them as they are amazed that how infection is fought, the bacteria killed by white blood cells, the whole thing. It was great.

25. Helen Keller lesson. To this day I still catch some of the kids taking their fingers and running them across the back of our book pretending that they are braille. Below is a picture of Henry and his name written in Braille.

His name in Braille
26. Howdy telling me that the polar bears in our science book are having sex because the baby polar bear was on the back of the Dad polar bear. I about died laughing and then decided to avoid the conversation all together... (Kept repeated over and over again.. they are too young for this) (By the way the polar bears were just walking, and that is how they often carry their young)

27. Building a ramp with books so Caleb and I could ramp his little cars across the classroom. Never seen a kid so excited to do something.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Value in the Parts

The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts. – Bertrand Russell

Happy Thursday to you.... Kristina