Flexiblity

I know I wrote about yoga in the last blog, but this is about a different kind of flexibility.

It’s about that unique kind of flexibility you gain from teaching and living abroad, especially in a developing country. I can’t even count how many times our plans have changed in the last two years. It seems as though every single plan we made didn’t actually happen.

This has been a valuable experience for both of us, learning to just let life happen. Go with the flow (this is sounding more and more yoga like). Both of us were raised in families love to plan things, yet our plan changes daily so we can’t exactly organise anything.

I know this is all very vague so I’ll give you some specifics.

I supposed you could say the first year in Egypt went according to our plan, but this second one has been insane. We originally came to Egypt with the idea that we will be here for two years without going home. Both of my younger sisters were getting married during summer, so we went home (probably the best change of plans ever!). Then we came back to a school that was shut down by the government so I switched schools. Then in November our money was devalued, throwing our travel plans out the window. By January I’d had 0 interviews for next year and by February we had decided it wouldn’t be the worst thing to stay in Egypt for another year. Now I’ve had a few interviews as well as a job offer but we still have not made a commitment to leave Egypt.

So here’s the current thinking. We would rather stay in Egypt a third year than move to another difficult country or a difficult school. Only if an IB school with good reviews offers me a position will we be moving out of Egypt.

 

Differences

I’m going to try really hard not to complain, but I make no guarantees.  Although this time it isn’t about Egypt…it’s about the good ol’ US of A.

I am trying really hard to find one thing that is the same here.It’s not easy.

There’s a different language (obviously), different measurements of length, height, weight, temperature, different currency, different expectations about time, different cultures, different time zone, different everything!

The only exception being time.  I thought they were going to use the 24 hour system because the principal sent all the schedule information that way, but maybe that’s just him.  It’s normal here.

So what am I not complaining about?  Yes. This is Egypt where certain things are a lot harder than necessary, but all of my co-workers (minus 1 other American) only had to adjust to the new language and culture stuff because everyone else in the world agrees on measurement systems. 

Of course this is no big deal for all the Americans who will never leave their sacred homes. I always thought the few people who went by the metric system were snobs, but now I realize that they are just being practical (global-minded to use my IB lingo).

I feel that America in general is very self-absorbed. The 9 and 10 year olds in my class are instructed in 3 different languages every week. In the US, you’re required to take one, maybe two years of a second language, but not until high school when it’s kind of too late. Even the Canadians are able to speak and understand some French.

Hey America! There are other people in the world besides yourselves!

I was pretty upset when I started student teaching that geography and foreign language skills had no mention in the cram-packed elementary curriculum.

Next week is my chapter in math about measurement.  Who wants to bet on how many times I say feet and inches instead of metres*, etc?

*Side note: Can anyone tell me why the textbook spells it metres, but it’s still perimeter?

Rant over.

 

 

School, work, school, work, and more work

That’s about how my life goes right now.  I don’t really mind it either.

My two Spanish classes at Coram Deo are going quite well.  Spanish 2 is pretty unorganized due to indecision about which books to use.  I only have two students so they can be flexible while I figure stuff out.  In Spanish 1, I always start out too fast and then the students don’t understand things and I have to go back and reteach…how to make sure this doesn’t happen…Getting students on track with pronouns and the idea of different verb forms for each person is the most important part.  Any suggestions would be very welcome.

My piano students are doing quite well.  I hope I can coordinate with some of my piano teaching friends and get a recital together for Christmas or something.   Cause what’s the point of playing piano if you never have to perform?

Work in the deli is just the same ol’ stuff.  I’ve asked if I can be trained to be an MSR (they take trays of food up to patients) just to try something new.  Hopefully it’ll work out sooner rather than later.  I worked 40 hours last week along with all of my classes and lessons.  Surprisingly it wasn’t too bad.  I just didn’t get any of my schoolwork done.

Speaking of my schoolwork.  It has gotten very tedious.  I’d rather write 50 papers than read chapter after chapter after chapter that I’m supposed to remember for a big test at the end.  I shall persevere.  I think that I get to do some class observations next term.  That should make things a bit more interesting…but it’ll also be interesting fitting it in with my schedule.  Time to start saving for my 6 months of students teaching when I can’t work…

Sadly, all this means that my other hobbies, like photography and baking, have been somewhat neglected.  Don’t get me wrong, we still eat very well, you just don’t get to see or hear about it.

My garden is still producing as well.  I think we’ve had about 6 small, tough skinned tomatoes.  The next ones look a bit bigger so we’ll see if they’ve got thinner skin.  The peppers are finally growing too so we should have some to eat in a week or two.  We’ve enjoyed fresh oregano, but the basil is just too tiny to really eat any of it.

Next week, I have the privilege of  accompanying the Mid-Columbia Master Singers on Mass of the Children.  I thinks it’s a small ensemble sort of thing with the choir.  Should be fun.

Other upcoming events include a vacation to L.A. and San Diego the second weekend of October.  The week after that is the first Symphony performance.

And it’s fall, so I have to find some time to fit in all the pumpkin carving, and baking.  Mmm pumpkin is my favorite.

September!

I’ve failed you.  So much for my weekly posts.  I wrote this one about 2 weeks ago but it never got posted for some reason.   So here you go…two weeks late.  I’ll write you a more recent one too.

Not much is new this week but here’s my weekly post as promised.  Monday with the evavuation for the spraying of the invisible cockroaches went well but the entire day was a waste of time.  I took the cats to my parents’ where Sophie hid under a chair and Samson wandered around meowing very loudly.
Other than that I worked pretty much every day.  It’s very tiring in a not really doing anything but standing around sort of way…

Ok. Food.
Sunday we bought a bunch of salmon at Costco.  We grilled it for lunch and had some rice with avocado.
Monday we had hot dogs and saurkraut.
Tuesday we went over to a friends house for hamburgers and brats. I brought couscous with vegies
Wednesday I worked late so it was hospital food for both of us.
Thursday we attempted steak again.  We just can’t get them quite right. I also grilled zucchini slices in butter and garlic salt. Yummy!
Friday night was date night to Applebees.  Their chocolate lava cake is delicious! I love chocolate.  Even Mr. thatstoomuchchocolate liked it.
Tonight prolly won’t be very exciting cause we’re both working late.

Short and sweet

It’s gonna get busy, so you’ll have to do with posts that are like this:

– I auditioned for the Mid-Columbia Symphony again.  I got 4th horn!  I was very surprised.

– We’ve eaten several cute little tomatoes from our garden.

– I have one more paper before I finish my first online “class”!!

– I AM teaching Spanish again.  Spanish 1 and Spanish 2.  Starts in two weeks.  I better get busy.

– I am taking a handwriting class.  It consists of copying every letter over and over, sending in a submission, getting back a critique, and doing it all over again.  I feel like I’m 8 again.  Not looking forward to the cursive part.

– My parents rented water skis last week…SOOO much fun.  When I’m older and have a lot of money I want to buy one.

– Our apartment apparently has cockroaches…We haven’t seen any.  But we still have to empty every cupboard, move everything away from the wall, completely clean off the counters, and leave for 4 hours with the cats.  Can you say huge pain in the butt?  This happens Monday.  Not happy about it.

– I can’t believe August is almost over!  Where did it go?  With September comes teaching two Spanish classes, teaching piano lesson, doing my OWN schoolwork, working in the deli, and of course, my new symphony duties.  Maybe this is goodbye for a while…we’ll see how it goes.  Maybe I’ll shoot for a weekly update.  That’s more than I’ve done all summer.

– One last thing.  A friend on Facebook asks, “What’s for dinner?” ever day.  It’s great for dinner ideas and recipes.  If I can do a weekly update, I’m gonna tell you what we ate that week…maybe. Here goes.

Sunday: Pizza Hut

Monday: I worked late so it was fend for yourself.

Tuesday:  Grilled Pork Chops I didn’t have any liquid smoke so it wasn’t smoky.  It was really really salty too.  To go with it we had Avocado Pasta.  I added a little plain yogurt to make the sauce creamier.  This was deeeelicious!! I’ve gone from not really liking to avocados to eating one pretty much every day.

Wednesday:  Same as Monday

Thursday: Chicken and Gnocci  The sauce was a really weird consistency.   I’m not sure I made it right, but it was good.

Friday:  Date night to the new Japanese Steakhouse I think.

Saturday: TBD

Change

“sigh” The frustrations of spending 15 min. writing a blog and it disappearing in 1 second. We’ll try again.

It’s been a while now, so I’ll try not to make it too lengthy.

School is going pretty well. It’s a bit frustrating working with WGU. I don’t if it’s because they are a fairly new school, or if they just don’t know what they’re doing, but a lot of the directions they give are just plain confusing. And even when I ask someone for clarification, I still get my paper sent back 3 times…oh well. I finally passed it. The more I learn about teaching, the more scared and excited I get. I thought I was ahead of other people, having already taught a few classes, but I’ve never taught for an entire day and then gone home and graded it all! It is taking me a while to get back into school mode, but I think I’ve got it figured out. No more sitting around doing nothing on my days off. No more finding projects for me to do.

Let me just add some random pictures.

Another lifestyle change. My husband has been working installing cable for a year now. It has been a year of fast food every single day. Not the healthiest or cheapest diet. On a recent shopping trip, I told him I’d make sandwiches if he told me what he wanted. So we’ve been at it for almost three weeks. I’d say I send him off to work with his lunchbox, but the truth is, I’m still in bed sleeping when he leaves. We’ll have to compare our budget from month to month and see how much we save.

A bonus about Ronnie working for a year is time off! So we will vacation. In about a week, we’re going to the Oregon coast to camp for the weekend. And in October we’re going to San Diego for a wedding.

For those of you on Facebook, you probably heard about Ronnie’s work truck problems. The first time the truck died, it was almost 100 degrees outside. So I got some cold drinks and went to find him sweating to death. He actually ended up taking refuge in the apartment where he had just done a job. The lady had a bunch of dogs, apparently some ducks in the bathtub, and a coffee table she was trying to sell. We ended up buying the table since I’ve been looking for one for a while. It is a nice wooden table but the top had been pasted with 1 in. squares of paper in a tile pattern. It was kinda cool, but there was a quote from Helen Keller in the middle that we didn’t really like. Turns out it was just glued on with Elmer’s so we tore them all off and replaced it with sheets of music. It’s pretty awesome. Oh and the cats love to sit on the glass top. It’s like they’ve never seen glass before.

My garden keeps growing and growing…and not producing. I have the biggest pepper plants you’ll ever see, but not a pepper in sight. There are several green tomatoes that keep getting bigger and bigger, but not redder. I don’t know if they need more sun, or if I’m supposed to stop them from growing somehow to make them produce. I think next year we’ll move it closer to the edge of the balcony. Or maybe get boxes to go over the railing.

I’ve never really made my own burgers before, but there was a free burger cookbook download on my nook. So I thought I’d give it a try. I made the bacon- and cheese-stuffed burgers. They were amazing! The bacon is cooked beforehand so you don’t have to worry about it being uncooked. Delicious. Next I think we’ll try to Greek Turkey burgers.

It’s time!!!

for some updates.  The good, the bad, and the not so interesting.

The good: Ronnie got a job! A real 8-5, full time, money paying job! Thank you God!  The last couple of months at the janitor business for him earned us about a total of $400…maybe. That’s for TWO months…You get the point.  Anyway, he’s working for a sub-contractor with Charter.  So he goes around and sets up internet, telephone lines, cable TV, climbs up huge ladders to the phone lines, climbs in crawl spaces and up into attics, and fixes problems.  You can imagine how dirty and sweaty he is when he gets home.  AND, he’ll get a company truck to drive, so it won’t be a huge hassle when winter comes and I don’t really want to ride my bike to work anymore.

I’ll be teaching Spanish again this year at Coram Deo.  My class size has increased by 25% and I’ll have four students this year.  I am also going to be teaching a class at ECHO.  This class is called “Languages around the World”.  The idea was that Ronnie would teach with me, since he knows a lot more about these languages than I.  But I shall be teaching it alone.  I hope to go over bits of the culture, geography, and language of seven different language area/people groups.  This being only my second year of teaching, and ECHO being a more fun type school without real homework and stuff, it will be a challenge.  Especially teaching the 5-6 year olds.  How do you teach them something if they can’t even write?  Let’s hope they can write…I’m excited for this class cause it’ll be so different and hopefully a lot of fun.

The bad: Those of you on Facebook probably know that I auditioned for the Mid-Columbia Symphony yesterday.  I thought I’d do fine…I knew my pieces and I just had to conquer the nerves that always make my mouth and lips dry making it hard to get a good sound.   Two things went terribly wrong.  I didn’t practice enough of two pieces.  I was expected to play more than I had rehearsed, so after I had finished we sat there in silence until I was asked to “please continue”…Good thing they couldn’t see my flaming red face drenched in sweat. Second, there was a sight reading piece, I noticed at the end of it, it said “Horn in E” and silently hoped I wouldn’t have to play that far.  I screwed up the rhythms a bit, but overall I thought it was pretty decent until I heard “ok, play that much again in D”.  Sure enough, the top of the page said, “Horn in D”.   So I got to transpose on the spot too…an awful, terribly embarrassing situation.  There were two other horns that also auditioned, both of them much older and more experienced than I, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be the one who doesn’t get one of the two open chairs.  Oh well.  At least I tried.  I can still hope they’ll call me in to sub again…

My parents and two younger sister are in Europe….without us. I get to take care of their stinkin huge lawn and smelly dog while they’re gone.  😦

I fail at my porch gardening.  My tomato plants are still no bigger than a toothpick,  my cilantro and parsley died long ago, and my basil is filled with holes and black spots.  I cheated a bit and bought a pepper plant from Walmart though and there are two cute little peppers on it.  So as long as I don’t forget to water them, perhaps we’ll get a pepper. And the plant I got from my MIL for St. Patrick’s day is still alive and blooms weekly.  That’s what, almost 5 months?

Sophie…getting on my nerves lately.  It all started one night when I awoke to a pair of claws in my leg.  Not a fun experience.  After I yelled at her which woke up Ronnie who discovered that the bed was wet.  Very wet.  Stupid cat.  We decided to let her in the room at night so she would stop ruining the door frame to the bedroom with her claws, but now I’m ready to banish her from the bedroom again.  Almost every night, I wake up and can’t move my legs because she’s sleeping down next to them, and if she’s not sleeping down there, she’s jumping on the bed just to sniff my face and tickle me with her whiskers.  She must know that I’m getting annoyed with her though, because she’s gotten much more cuddly recently.

The not so interesting: Last week I worked 47 hours. One of those days, I worked 15 hours.  I’m excited for school to start so I don’t have to work there as often.  People ask if I like it there, and well, it’s just another job.  Better than other jobs I’ve had I guess.  Definitely not what I want to be doing a year after I’ve graduated, but hey, I’m married and I pay for an apartment, so at least I’ve accomplished something.  Now that Ronnie has a super duper job, there’s hope to move on in life. We’d both like to go back to school, possibly move from the Tri-cities, and experience new and exciting things.

I really want to go camping before September comes and school starts because we haven’t really gone anywhere this summer.  I dunno if we’ll be able to escape at all with Ronnie training at his new job and stuff.  Perhaps just a weekend to a more local place.

Well I think that’s all for now.  I’ve got some food to write about, but perhaps another time.