Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hello first grader, who would you vote for?

In honor of election day, I asked the kids in before care who they would vote for today.

"Barack Obama!" said the first grade girl with possibly the best answer I got all morning.  But of course, in demonstration of my complete ignorance of how primaries work, I thought you couldn't vote for him today.  I assumed only the Republican party was having primaries (I assumed Obama wasn't running against anyone, and therefore got the nomination by default... apparently it doesn't quite work that way.  Uh, fail.)  Anyway, making her give up the only answer that actually worked, I asked her who else she'd vote for:

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."  That's a pretty good second.

A kindergarten boy said that he would vote for his Mom, his Dad, his Grandma, and his friend.  Talk about your oligarchy.

When another first grade boy showed up, I asked him who he would vote for.

"I'm not old enough to vote," he replied.

"How old do you have to be to vote?"

"13.  Or 16."

"Ok, well if you were old enough to vote, who would you vote for?"

"My brother."

"What would make him a good president?"

"Well, he likes to play jokes."

"So," said the girl, "we could call him the Joke President?"

"Well," he continued, "sometimes he's really serious.  He would be like a gorilla and a monkey!  And if people were speeding, he would arrest them.  But not if they were important.  Like, if they had a business meeting to go to and they were late and they were going to get fired, they wouldn't get arrested."

Later, a third grade boy showed up, and I asked him who he would vote for, he said he'd vote for his Mom.  So I asked why she'd be a good president:

"Cause when she says something, she's serious, you have to do it.  Also, I think she'd be really good for the economy, because if someone needed a home-"

"Like the hobos who don't have a place to live?" the first grade boy nodded.

"Yeah, if they were homeless she'd give them stuff, like shoes or food."

So there you have it, voters!  Some good advice for you.  Don't trust the adult who doesn't understand how primaries work, trust the kids who'd vote for their moms.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

All my hipster photos

Stuff grows anywhere it can:

The rowhomes of Philly:

Bits in corners:

Gardens in corners:

Different cans of paint to cover graffiti:

And everywhere, shoes:

A time for Spring, a time for photos

Now that spring has officially sprung, the weeds on the block are in full bloom:

A quick stop by my favorite mural:

And then to a friends house:

for some smoothies and chill time:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Great Adventures of the Mysterious, Mysterious Girl, Part 4: Charades

Day 4, Thursday.

Can I just say that my Small Group is awesome?  I really could not have asked for a bigger blessing coming out of college than a church that recharges me and a small group that I have connected with.  I joined the small group when it was still in it's awkward beginning phase, so I fit right in.

So did this dinner that we shared Thursday night:

Yup, that's right.  That's carrots, dip, chips, guacamole flavored chips, zeppolis, asparagus, and cheesecake.  MMMMMMMMM.

Anyway, after sharing "dinner" we shared our hearts.  Its funny how when people respect each other's humanity how much it draws you in, how much it draws you to share.  And we did.  And we prayed, and it was great.  Sometimes when I have something on my mind, I find it hard to think of it in a different way.  But hearing us all pray for one another gave me a different perspective.  Gave me comfort, gave me hope.

After sharing we decided to relax and play Charades.  The first round, Animals, was pretty hilarious.  Especially when one of us got stuck with "Potato Bug" which I'm pretty sure is not a real thing.  Then we tried Majors (only a group comprised mostly of UPenn students would think trying to act out majors was fun.)  And we did it mostly with success, getting a little stuck on Graphic Design.  That's right.  How would you act that out?  I thought "Sounds like- she's writing, you write with a pen, no, pencil, okay now she's pointing to the pencil tip, that's made out of graphite, sounds like graphite!" was pretty clever.

It's times like these when I really just love being human.  We're messy and confusing.  We clearly communicate differently.  We think that eating cheesecake and asparagus in the same meal is ok.  But more than anything, we just love being together.  Back in college, we used to have "Anti-Social Together Time" which was just a bunch of us crammed on two beds all on our respective computers.  Not really talking (aka Anti-Social) but Together, nonetheless.

And on this Maundy Thursday (retrospect here, I know I'm late on this one) I'm reminded that one of the last things Jesus did before he died was hang out with his friends.  All night.  Whether we're all on the same page or not, there's something really human, really real about just being together.

So go out and have a human-tastic day, whether it's eating dessert WITH dinner or making a new friend.  Have fun!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Great Adventures of the Mysterious, Mysterious Girl, Part 3: Friendship

Day 3, Wednesday.

As far as the workday went, it was pretty uneventful.  In fact, I need to push my brain to remember it- which, says less about the work I'm doing and more about the craziness of this week.  

I spent most of the day holed up in my makeshift "office", which for this week has simply been one of the spaces between two of the bunk beds on the floor littered with all of my necessities: my computer, my earphones, my water, my snacks, and several empty bowls that belie how many meals I really eat in a day.

So the point of Wednesday isn't so much that I like working off the floor sometimes, but that night was reunion night.  Us legendary hosts, or as many as we could find in this great city, were all hanging out together for the first time in many months (almost a year...?) to shoot the breeze and generally reminisce about the good old days, etc etc.

Our lives have zig-zagged since we all parted ways for what we originally thought was forever.  I remember very distinctly sitting in the basement eating leftover Puerto Rican food with perhaps a tear or so as one very beautiful stage of my life was ended.  But that's my favorite part about Christian community.  For the most part, it never really ends.  People show back up in your life when you least expect it.  You find yourself in cities you swore you'd never live in when you were younger.  God challenges you in ways that you didn't think.  But the best part is, He gives you friends to walk through it all with.

Later that night we wound up praying and one of us said, "It's like He knew all along.  He knew we were all going to be here this night."

Recently I came across a quote from this Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni:  

Une del benefici dell'amicizia e di sapere a chi confidare un segreto.
One of the benefits of friendship is knowing to whom you may confide a secret.

So here's to friendship.  To GChat.  To "quick" phone conversations.  To email threads.  To texting.  To blogs.  Even to Facebook.  To road trips.  To Women's Retreats.  To cool nights on the back porch discussing philosophy, dating, and gardening.  To roommates.  To cooking.  And especially to prayer, through the one who connects us all.

Dear all,
You are all the coolest, and I am better for knowing you.
Much love,

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Great Adventures of the Mysterious, Mysterious Girl, Part 2: Field Trip

Day 2- Tuesday.

It wouldn't be a day off if we weren't taking the kids on a trip somewhere.  My Mom bravely decided to come along with us.

As far as trips have gone with these kids, this one was pretty tame.  We had about a 1:2 adult:student ratio, so we didn't really need to worry about how they were going to behave.  We took them on a trip to Lancaster to eat at Bird in Hand and see Jonah at the Sight and Sound Theater.

Aside from the whole busload being fascinated at the site of cows and horses, there really wasn't that much that happened.  The day was gorgeous and made for a nice trip through the country side.  But the kids pointing out every animal made me wonder what it must be like to live in such a tiny, cramped city all the time and after less than an hour's short drive, see such wide open space and greenery.  I also wondered what it would be like if it were say, your first time on such an outing.  I think I'd be terrified at how much open space there was, and I'd certainly be mystified that cows really do exist.

Certainly the link between the animals and farms and the food that they see every day is confusing and hard to believe.  As if to prove my point, one first grader sat across from me with his giant plate of food as we quizzed him on the contents of his plate.

"Where does ham come from, cow or pig?" asked one of the adults.


"Yes, what?"


So, Mr. R asked him, "What about chicken, where does chicken come from?"

This one he had to think about for a second before he answered, "Umm, an egg I think."

Acing that question, Mr. R moved on to, "What about turkey?  Where does turkey come from?"

"I think it would be, a rooster," he said.

Looks like the next unit we do will be on animal husbandry.

The show was fantastic and really beautifully done.  I'm not sure if the younger of our students understood what was going on exactly, but they enjoyed the theatrics of the show, which included live animals, lots of moving sets, and tons of beautiful lights.

I sat next to a little five-year-old who had clearly eaten one too many Slush Puppies at lunch and talked incessantly through the whole show.  This generally didn't bother me too much, and we had fun pointing out the jellyfish as they dropped from the ceiling during the underwater scene and all of the live animals on their way out.  She insisted that the stars that lit up through the audience at the end of Act 1 were real.  This got her so excited that she almost took a nose dive into the next row at one point and I pulled her back just in time.

Once, I thought the sugar rush was subsiding only to turn around and see her opening a juice packet.  Once she had finished her juice she folded the packet in half and reached over me to my Mom and said, "Look!  Look what I made!" In true motherly fashion, my Mom assumed she was giving her trash and serenely took the juice packet.

Two actors brought out a giant whale and floated him all around the theater.  As the whale got closer the girl started getting more and more scared.  "Don't come closer, whale!  Go away!"  But this was to no avail; the whale banked a hard right directly towards us.  The girl gripped her seat in fear and started screaming, "This is not a fun trip!  This is not a fun trip!"

Right around the point where Jonah's plant dies, Little Miss Sugar Rush asked me if it was almost over.  I told her it was.  In a matter of seconds, she was draped across my legs so asleep that when the show ended about five minutes later I couldn't wake her up.

And she wasn't the only one.  We just managed to get the kids back to the bus before almost all of them slumped over into a deep sleep.  One boy had fallen asleep with his head on his knees with his seatmate asleep leaning backwards over top.  Ah, the sugar crash.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Great Adventures of the Mysterious, Mysterious Girl, Part 1: Spring Cleaning

With the weather getting warming, nothing says "Spring!" quite like breaking out the ol' crusty mop, attempting to clean with it, throwing away said mop, buying a better mop, and then cleaning.

Monday was such a day for me and the Community Center, and I cannot describe the joy it brings to your life and the tears that well up when you have a mop that looks like this:

instead of like this:

We finished waging war on the kitchen at the Church/School and started to pack up to head over to the Community Center to prove to chaos just who's boss after all.  I took a much needed Bleach break and went out to the gym and watched some of the students play a combination of House, Basketball, and Pro Wrestling (which apparently works well if you have the imagination of Kindergartners) and asked one student what his Pro Wrestling name was.  He promptly replied with a string of four letters, and when I asked him what they stood for, he just shrugged.

"What's Ms. Nicole's wrestling name?" one of the other teachers asked him.

Again without hesitation he replied, "The Mysterious, Mysterious Girl."

And so this week of adventure began.

I can see how he'd think I was mysterious.  Since the middle school meets in a different building, I hardly see the younger kids except on field trips and when I substitute.  That must seem pretty mysterious to a five year old, that sometimes I show up and sometimes I don't.

Cleaning Day was generally unexciting.  Breaking the Law of Entropy isn't quite as exciting as you'd think.  But it does feel good when you have made quite a difference in a cluttered space.  It's fun to work together on a project.  And finally, it's refreshing to work on something with clear results and improvements every now and then.

Stay tuned for upcoming installments!  Will Nicole ever not smell like bleach?  Will the Community Center remain clean over Easter?  Tune in next time, same blog time, same blog place.