Monday, March 15, 2010


Last week, we went with some friends to the Houston Rodeo. Just to let you know, this is no ordinary rodeo. It is huge! In the spirit of "everything's bigger in Texas" it may just be the largest rodeo in the nation. It has been going on all month long and brings competitors from all over North America. They have a HUGE carnival that made me feel like I was at Lagoon, and best of all: after the rodeo each night, they have concerts. If you like country music, pretty much everyone who is anyone comes to perform at Rodeo Houston. Wednesday night, last week, we got to see, my favorite: Rascal Flatts!!!

Before the Rodeo started though, we did go and see some of the other highlights too.

This was Dan's favorite part, the pig races. They were so cute!

We had to go check out the livestock show. I am just joking here, it actually didn't smell at all. That was a surprise.

Got some good 'ol Texas BBQ.

And of course, did some mullet hunting. Yikes.

The rodeo was really fun. I loved watching the bareback riders and the stagecoach races (These pics are obviously not ones that we could have taken from our seats).

But my favorite event, they saved for last: sheep riding! These little kids we 5-6 yeas old and all they did was hold on for dear life. So cute.

Last but not least, the concert was amazing! A few Days before we went, Dane asked me to play some Rascal Flatts in the car so that he would recognize it at the concert. It made me smile to look over and see him sign'n along to some of the songs. That is something I never thought would happen.

That's really them all the way down there, I promise. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

just another weekly update

What does the end of February mean for Dane and Bridget? I know some
of you may be expeting pictures of us on an African safari or
exploring ancient castles in Japan for this post, but this one might
not be that exciting for you. (also, no pictures.) The end of Feb for
us means that we have been in Houston now for 2 months. That is a
short amount of time for anyone but what it means is that we have less
than 3 months left. I shouldn't be counting down and I am not really,
but it is crazy to think that we are almost halfway through this
experience. So, today, I thought I might just reflect on all of this.

I am at the end of my third week actually working as a substitute
teacher in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). It took
several weeks to go through the whole application/hiring/waiting
process. Oh yeah, and can I just preface this with the fact that this
is the 6th largest school district in the nation? With literally
hundreds of schools, most of which are in inner-city locations, full
of lower to lower-middle class students, it goes without saying that
there are many challages to being a substitute in this district. I
could go on about crazy kids I have met, but mostly as I look back on
my experiences I have had so far, I am very impressed with how many
great kids there are out there. I have found that all they need is a
little structure and encouragement. And that is basically all I can
give them. Most of the time my job is pretty much crowd control and
classroom management--which sometimes leaves me feeling tired at the
end of the day with little feeling of fulfilment. But days like today
make it all worth it. And by that I mean the class is well behaved, I
am in a great mood and the teacher actually left me a schedule and
work for the students to do. I won't even go into the alternative.
Each day I get to whip my slate clean and meet all new faces. Faces
who no nothing about how I will manage them or how I will react when
my buttons are pushed. I have really been working on managing with
firm love. Students will treat me differently because I am not their
normal teacher. I am ok with that. But they still need to respect
me, because I am a teacher. So, how does one gain respect? It is an
interesting thought, because respect for a teacher is so much more
than sitting quitely doing your work. And a lot of teachers will just
settle for that. (o be honest, depending on the students, that is
about how far I get, but I have challanged myselft to go beyond that.
I have a loud voice and yelling comes easily to me. I try not to
yell. Students respond better when they are reasoned with other than
herded like cattle.
I focus on learning as many names as I can as quickly as I can. When
someone knows your name, in a way it feels like they know you. It is
amazing how much of a difference it makes when you can stop a problem
early by just saying a student's name. They see you recognise them
and what they are doing. And they really do know better, wheither
they are in kindergarden or 5th grade.
I have stuck mostly to elementry while I am here, and for some reason
have been mostly working in bilingual classes. So, pretty much all of
my students speak Spanish at home, and English as their second
language. I am picking up a little Spanish here and there, and have
really enjoyed this kind of classroom. The students amaze me. They
have to work twice as hard as most students just to learn the basics.

So, other than teaching what else fills my days? Well, this last
week, Dane and I have been dog-sitting for some friends. It has given
us a nice look into what it would be like if we ever had a dog. I
think the final concesous is that it probibly would never happen until
we have a yard for the dog to run around and poop in. Apartment
living and animals don't mix well.

So, with dog sitting we have stuck around for the last weekend and
will be here this weekend too. It is nice to stay "home" every once
in a while. I think it helps Houston to feel more like home. We are
getting settled and I am sure that just when we feel completely
settled, it will be time to go. That's how life works right?
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