Saturday, March 18, 2017

Building Relationships

Here is a cake made by one of
the high schoolers. Hand written
frosting digits of impressed.
This past week has been such a fun memory maker week! First of all, our school had a school wide celebration of Pi day on Tuesday, 3/14. After Tuesday, I think I have been convinced that Pi day is in fact fun enough to celebrate every year. I have met many people who eat pie on Pi day…, but I’m not a big enough fan of pie for that to win me over. One of the math teachers at school set up a Pi competition. Throughout the entire competition, he quizzed the student body over Pi facts, and apparently someone out there in this world has memorized around 70,000 digits of Pi! I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. That seems just ridiculous. For our school, one of my students walked away with the prize for most memorized digits. She recited 106 digits to me with no mistakes! Simply because I actually observed her memory skills, I have been officially challenged at my own memorization abilities. Here is what she recited to me:

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679 82148

I have a hard enough time memorizing Scripture, which is inspired and makes sense to me. Imagine memorizing that many nonsensical numbers. She definitely earned her candy bar!

Another part of the competition was a poetry contest (about Pi of course). I personally love poetry and write quite a bit of it, so I have tried to pass that down to my students a little. When I heard of the opportunity to enter Pi poems into a contest, I challenged my students to test their skills! Each one of my students entered the contest, and I was happily surprised at how good or funny they were! One option for them was to write a Pi-ku instead of Haiku. Meaning, instead of 3 lines of 5/7/5 beats, the Pi-ku has 3 lines of 3/1/4 beats (for those of you interested in poetry). One of my students wrote 8 Pi-Ku’s and arranged them to make a Pi-Ku of Pi-Kus. I thought that was impressive! I only have one example with me to show you, but all the poems were so cute and inventive!


Pi never ends,
So it has no friends.
It’s always alone,
So I bought it a phone,
But others feel dumber
For not knowing its number.

The final competition for Pi day was music. We had 4 groups get up and sing original songs about Pi. My kids joined a big group of 10 kids that sang a song on Pi while adding a beat using the cups game, which they had learned in music class. I was pleased that some of my girls even attempted some harmony for the performance! To end the competitions, there was every imaginable type of pie ready to be eaten, which made the entire celebration feel complete.

Thankfully I did not have to try too hard to look like Riley.
A few days later on Friday, we also had a school Spirit Day. Each class had a chance to dress up like a movie cast. It took some brainstorming for my class, but they came up with the brilliant idea of the characters from Inside Out. I haven’t actually seen the movie, so my kids really came up with all the details, and I just used Google to figure out what to look like. I dressed up like Riley, and each person in my class was one of my emotions. We had to add 3 emotions since we have 8 kids in my class. Each emotion was assigned a color and emotion.

1.     Joy: yellow
2.     Fear: purple
3.     Disgust: green
4.     Anger: red
5.     Sadness: blue
6.     Peace: white
7.     Jealousy: black
8.     Surprise: pink

I wish I had a picture of the entire class acting out our parts, but I’ll have to wait for someone to send one to me. The year book took some nice pictures that I'm hoping to get my hands on.

After school on Friday, I had planned a girl’s party for the 5-6th grade girls. I wish I was an amazing planner of parties and events, but anyone who knows me knows that my idea of a perfect party is minimalistic planning: coffee, conversation, nature walk, car ride, maybe music. Every time I actually plan a party though, I feel so inspired by the outcome, like maybe I should do it more often! My party was still pretty minimalistic, but oh so much fun. I planned a jump rope party, and I am feeling a little bit sore today! After eating pizza, we worked off all the calories by jumping to a bunch of new rhymes that I had never learned before: something about a puppy with a bubble and going through school with little spankings. We even tried our hand at some Double Dutch jumping. It was honestly an accomplishment figuring out how to swing the ropes for Double Dutch let alone actually figuring out how to jump, but a few of us got a few jumps in before ruining the beat!

Our small group of elementary girls :)
Relationships are one of the best ways to disciple others, love others, witness to others, and grow ourselves. I think of Jesus’ example here on earth whenever I start feeling like becoming a recluse or feel too tired to work at relationships. When He was on earth, He traveled around Israel building relationships and loving every person He came in contact with. First of all, His love and devotion to His disciples just amazes me. Learning more about His relationship with His disciples is why I chose to become a teacher. I have a long way to go as a teacher, but the goal is to look more and more like the Teacher of teachers. Also, the Bible records so many more close friends that He loved, and He even managed to love people that He didn't have a chance to be close friends with. He always had a crowd following close behind Him, hoping to get to meet Him and learn from Him. He took the time to connect to as many people as possible! It takes a lot of work to build strong relationships, and it takes a lot of work to make others feel loved and appreciated by us. He is the perfect Example.

I always have fun with my class, even when they don’t feel like class is fun. They are a funny group of kids, but weeks like this are fun for everyone. I love making memories like these to take home with me in the spring, and I hope they can see how much time and effort they are actually worth.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trains and Trails

As promised, here comes an update on my vacation week from school last week. I was pretty excited for the break, and even more excited for a chance to see more of Mexico. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got. It was better.

First of all, my roommate’s family from Canada drove down for the week. I’m so thankful they let me tag along and join in with their precious family time! They for sure did not have to let me, but I loved getting to know them better and having fun. It has been a long time since I actually have had a chance to hang out with people my own age. Usually, I’m with people a lot younger or a lot older, both of which I enjoy so much that I had forgotten how nice it is to be with people my own age! That was an unexpected blessing for me.

Here's one of our routes up Cerro Grande
The first few days here, we just explored more of Chihuahua City. One of those explore days we hiked up Cerro Grande, which is one of the larger hiking mountains around the city. The thing is…we never actually found the hiking trail. Somehow we got on the wrong side of the mountain, and since we had no idea on how to get around the mountain, we decided to just hike up the backside. With no trail though, our main enemy at that point was the thorn bushes that seemed to be everywhere and impossible to get around without tearing up our skin and clothes. The other struggle was finding the easiest way up. Since we did not have a trail to follow, we just kept eyeballing our way up to the top, and sometimes that worked and sometimes it felt very hiker unfriendly. When we got to the “top”, there were still some cliffs higher up to conquer, but thankfully our group split up at that point. I personally did not scale the highest cliffs, but I still feel like I conquered the mountain, claiming my completely scratched and scarred legs to prove it.

The next day, we all hopped on El Chepe (the train going towards the eastern coast) around 6 in the morning. Thankfully, my discovery of Uber a few weeks back helped us get there with no problems at all. I got on the train thinking in my head, “Yay! A train ride!” But 12 hours later, I was thinking thoughts more along the line of, “I never want to travel by train again.” It actually was really fun, and thankfully we had the freedom to walk around unlike an airplane. Our little group played music and sang quite a bit between naps and great conversations. We also spent a lot of time hanging out the windows taking pictures of the BEAUTIFUL Copper Canyons. When it got dark, I even got in some star gazing. We were far enough in the mountains that the city did not hamper the view at all.

Here are some pictures from inside the train and hanging out the windows. 

A section of the Copper Canyons

My favorite part was to see the water! 

We spent our first night in El Fuertes, which apparently is the birth place of the legendary Zorro. We ended up at a hotel with a 10 person Jacuzzi, so even though we did not stay very long, we shared some pretty funny laughs there that night! The next morning we got back on the train heading the opposite direction to backtrack to a little town named Creel, where we stayed for the next two nights.

Here's our hike down into the canyons
to the hot springs
Our main reason for stopping in Creel was to visit some hot springs in the canyon. Our first morning in Creel, I was shocked to find snow outside. At this point we were high enough up in the mountains that it snowed at night, and then became pretty warm during the day. Our hike down to the springs was about 1.5 hours, and I forgot to time our way out, though I’m sure it was longer considering it was up versus down. The hot springs were amazing! Sadly enough, I failed to get any pictures, because I was too busy swimming and getting burnt. 

We ended up getting back to Chihuahua around 10:45 pm on Sunday. School started bright and early the next morning, and my new friends started their journey back up to Canada. I’m still trying to recover energy, but the trip was worth it!