T. Swift + Pepperoni

Tonight I went over to my brother’s to help hand out candy, since we don’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters at my house.  This was the right choice for a couple of reasons.

1)  We don’t really get a lot of trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood.

2) A former student just came to the door.  Win!

3) I am getting quite the workout – whenever the doorbell rings, I have to get up, run around the couch, obstacle course my way past two dogs, run up the stairs, turn the corner, hurdle over the tiny piece of cardboard that mysteriously keeps the dogs away from the door, and greet the young children with a smile and a piece of candy.

Anyways, pack to the point: we decided to order pizza for dinner.  So the question was: what sort of pizza should we get?  I went to a couple of a different websites to see if there are any good deals for David’s neighborhood.

The best deal I found?  Ordering a Taylor Swift CD with your dinner.

Excuse me, WHAT?!?  

Yep,  you heard me right.

What I’m wondering is if anyone has ordered a little T. Swift without the side of pizza…

“Quick!  I need some Tay-Tay in my life STAT, and I can’t be bothered to run to the store.  Amazon will take at least one whole day to ship it. I almost feel really sad, but then I remember that I can just call my helpful pizza delivery guy.  Another crisis averted by my local pizza heros.”

Pizza Hut, if that is what your competitors are offering, we are never ever ever getting back together.

That was a lie.  Your competitors don’t even deliver to my house.  We are friends forever by default.

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 45

We are sharing our projects we made about community helpers.

I wish that we had our presentations on videotape for you to see.  Except that would break all sorts of privacy laws.  But seriously it was hilarious.

There is the child who made a bakery project and told me that when she grows up and has her own bakery, I can come and work at it.  I asked her what my job could be.  The answer: “You can get me all the things I need.”  I did some negotiations and in addition to this role of assistant to the head baker, I also get to be on sprinkle detail. Score!

Another child made an elaborate school scene.  The unveiling of the project included me nearly breaking the shoebox and people glued to popsicle sticks.  The unveiling was made complete when in the midst of my juggling her project and struggling to open it up properly, we caught sight of the giant Michelle Obama magazine cut-out in the front of the classroom diorama as the teacher.  Winning.

However, my personal favorite project was the student who brought in a small pink box with two mermaids in it.  I’m sure you will agree with my roommate’s feedback on this project: “I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought that mermaids don’t get enough recognition for helping the community.  Glad somebody knows what’s up.”  Although not everybody was convinced.  While the kids were waiting for bussing to begin, I heard a little girl say, “Mermaids are NOT community helpers.  Do you see them back there [on the communities bulletin board]??? No.”

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 44

Sometimes, even if you have been teaching for 8 years, you just make rookie mistakes.

Rookie Mistake #1 – not thinking through the answer before asking the question.

Today I thought I would be a good teacher and take advantage of the few minutes between using the bathroom/washing hands and heading down to the lunch room to practice some rhyming. (You know, rather that ignoring the children and let them go wild for 3-5 minutes, like I usually do).

So I looked around the room for some inspiration and said, “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with…. door.”

Answer #1: Whore!

I didn’t want to repeat it so I just said, “Nope, that rhymes, but it isn’t my word.”

The next three children who answered also suggested “Whore!” As if it was a brand new idea. (really kids???) Finally I had to break down and loudly say, “My word is not whore. Please stop guessing that word.”

Lesson learned:

Don’t try to sneak in learning opportunities. Just let the kids sit and socialize…

but on the bright side, they are learning to rhyme! Yay!

Joanna’s Family Pictures

As fall days grow chillier, it was fun to take advantage of a last sunny warm day and take family pictures for my new co-worker Joanna.  Her adorable little son just turned one.  We had a great time at the sculpture garden in Minneapolis.  Levi seemed to prefer to turn the other way whenever he saw the camera coming, but I think we still got some cute pictures!

Here is a little preview of some of the adorableness that is Joanna’s family.  Enjoy!

“Nature” Walk

So, every trip has to have a lowlight.  I think it is a rule.  Our safari low-light was our “nature walk” in Bwindi National Park.  We spent the day driving from Queen Elizabeth to Bwindi on bumpy mountainous roads.  After we settled into our cute little lodge  we were antsy to do something.  The lodge said that they could take us on a nature walk.

We like nature!

We like walks!

We thought it was perfect.

Except we soon discovered that this walk was less nature-y than we were led to believe.

The guide from the lodge took us on a tour of a local village of Ugandans who had been displaced from their homes when Bwindi became a national forest.

In theory this still could have been an interesting walk – I love learning about cultures and how others live.  The lowlight part of it is that it felt very much like the people were on display.  I didn’t like that at all.  I don’t want to be the mzungu tourist who peers into the lives of people for amusement.  And I’d hope that most people don’t want to play that role.  We hoped that this uncomfortable feeling was primarily due to some “lost in translation” moments between the guide and us.  He made some jokes that we didn’t find funny at all, and we mostly thought, “how did we end up in this awkward situation and how soon can we get back to our lodge?” We were expected to purchase some handmade goods, but I brought no shillings with me, because I had no idea what we were going to end up doing this afternoon.  And our guide kept on telling me to take pictures.  So to try and stop the level of awkwardness from increasing more, I did as I was told.

That being said, the guide did first stop off at this own house and introduce us to his family.  He showed us several of his village’s water sources, which was cool, and I snapped some pics to show the kindergartners when we have our freshwater unit and we learn that the availability of freshwater is dependent on where you live.  

We learned that goat houses are on stilts so that their poo can make the soil fertile for gardening and farming.  

We saw bananas, coffee, avocados, and pineapple growing. 

We saw some cute kids and went inside of a school. 

We also met a sweet couple.  

We saw an example of a traditional home. 

I like learning about the way others live, and so I appreciated that aspect of the afternoon.  The rest of the stories of our walk I am not including in this post, because I don’t want to relive the uncomfortableness anymore.  I want to learn, see, and experience in a way that is honoring and respectful to others.  

Gorillas! a preview…

Friends, I am mostly just so excited to share about gorilla trekking with you.  We are really close to reaching that part of safari-ing, but in the meantime, can I share a couple of gorilla pics with you?  I can’t wait any longer.  And can I say that in looking at the pictures, it seems really unreal – like WOW.  We were really that close to gorillas in the wild??

Cows, motorcycles, and… Wizards??

Joseph, one of the directors of Rafiki Africa Ministries, put this photo on Facebook.


I felt like it needed to be shared for many reasons.

First of all – let’s just talk about that it is a COW. On a boda boda. Say what?!

Secondly, while this might be the most ridiculous thing I have seen on a boda, it is certainly not the only time I have been in awe of things on a boda boda. Entire families all fit on one… A giant stack of mattresses have been piled up to the sky, and so much more.

And finally, Joseph’s caption read something like, “unsafe! Where is the ministry of transportation?” And while I fully agree that this seems incredible unsafe, the “ministry of transportation” makes me giggle. I know that in places like Britain and Uganda that is what they call it, but I just immediately think Harry Potter. And now am picturing some wizards flying alongside the cow riding the boda boda.

You are welcome.

African Road Trip #2

Our safari went something like: spend a day on the road, spend a day with the animals, and the pattern continued. On the map, it looked like a short drive from Queen Elizabeth the Bwindi. While the distance may not have been long, the mountainous terrain, loose dirt roads, and the bridges under construction made our travel time take up most of the day.

We kept ourselves busy watching for nature. Such as baboons!

Mid-day we stopped for a squatty-potty break and were delighted to find this sign to document our time in Queen Elizabeth.

Katara Lodge packed us a lunch, and we stopped in a town at what we thought was a restaurant. Except it seemed to be a restaurant where you brought your own food? Oh Africa. I do miss you 🙂

As you can see, between Joseph and Katara, we were well hydrated. This was our favorite beverage… or at least our favorite beverage label:

Before we headed back out on the road, Joseph showed us a wooden bicycle – like what he grew up riding!

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 42

Yesterday was Community Helper Day at kindergarten.  We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve had some really great people come in over the years – but I think we all agreed that this year’s presenters were collectively the best we’ve ever had.  Everyone did such a great job of talking to the kids and they all had really cool things to say about their jobs.

The kindergartners also had some HILARIOUS things to say to them.  I don’t think I’ve laughed (silently in the back) this hard in a really long time.

Here are some snapshots of the epic-ness of our morning:

While visiting the firefighter:

“I wanna be a fire drill!!”

“My mom won’t buy me [a fire evacuation plan]!”

While visiting the financial planner:

Q: What if you can’t afford a new bike?

A: “Go to the Dollar Tree!”

While visiting the Chef:

Q: “If I need to cook for more people, what do I need?”

A: “More Moms!”

Actual Answer: A bigger pot.

While visiting the musician:

Pretty much anytime he touched his guitar, the kids exclaimed in awe, “DANG!”

After visiting the window washer:

Me: Boys and girls, did you know that he is my cousin??

Student 1: He is your brother!?

Student 2: He is your dad?!

While visiting the medical clinic worker

Presenter: I went to Haiti, a country near Florida.

Student 1 leans over to Student 2: She went to Katie!?!?!

While visiting the architect (who did building projects in Uganda):

Presenter: Does anyone know what an orphan is?

Student 1: A house!

Student 2: (with great confidence) I know!  An orphan is an animal that can swim in the water.

Actual Answer: An orphan is a child that might not have a mom and dad to take care of them.

Student 3: My mom told me I am going to Africa tomorrow.

Presenter: Ok, well have fun.  Tell my friends I say hi.

And perhaps the most important thing we learned today is from the city worker: snow plows can kill.  So let’s stay safe this winter, kids.