Wednesday, March 25, 2015

RAIN!

We finally got some rain!! Monday I went out with a friend for some ice cream after school.  Of course when I decided to come home was when the storm decided to come! I had to drive extra slow because of the fierce winds and sputtering rain.  It only lasted a few minutes though.  Tuesday however was a downpour.  The winds were still fierce but the rain was fiercer.  It probably rained a solid hour or two.  It rained so hard that our roof began to leak! What a way to start not-rainy season.  Our landlady stopped by that night though and we told her about it.  She said she would get it fixed soon.  She rocks.

The rain was great for so many reasons.  It wiped out the pollution so we were in the safe zone, green, at 50 levels and very clean.  It cooled things down. I actually was cold again on my motorbike in the morning.  And it brought clean air and freshness to this dull season.  The kids loved it too because it meant outdoor activities again!  They were able to have full recess, PE, and after school activities again!  whoooohooooo.  Let's be honest though, it is probably the only time of year when I like the rain!  I am not ready for rainy season yet... good thing I should have a couple months still... hopefully.

The Tri-Sport Tournament was a huge success.  We tied for first place!! I think I mentioned that it was a point based system with a win getting 3 points, a tie 1, and loss obviously 0.  We played as a school so both the girls and boys team points were totaled together.  The school that hosted it was the other winner so they were generous enough to give us the trophy.  So I have decided to tell people that we brought home first place rather than that we tied!

It was so fun to be with the team and have athletics be the focus of three days.  It was exhausting and hot as well though.  The kids were awesome.  They were great sports and did amazing.  New relationships were made and others were strengthened.  It was a great time and something I hope I get to do again.

Here are both the winning teams and the coaches. Sorry for the poor quality!



And an action shot! Thanks to the parent who took this ;)

And this was taken by a student on the yearbook staff who brought a GIANT camera with him!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pollution - Part 2

Well the pollution is still bad. We had our second week of absolutely no recess time.  Every recess is indoors in our classrooms.  That is an extra 45 minutes with the students each day... yes we have a lot of recess time!  Towards the end of the week it seems better, but we dont have school on Fridays this month for various reasons and holidays.  So we have had to deal with it.

My students have been wonderful though.  We have been playing Spot It (thanks mom!), Uno, Jenga, and so many other things.  The kids have been staying quiet, letting me work, and occasionally offering me to join their game.  I definitely am counting my blessings as this is not the case with other classes.

It has also been disappointing for our athletes.  We have had to cancel many after school activities as well. Our school participates in a Tri-Sport Tournament in Bangkok every year. The best 12 boys and 12 girls from the varsity teams play three sports (volleyball, basketball, and soccer) competing against 3 other schools playing 9 games in 3 days!  I am coaching the volleyball and basketball for the girls.  But because of the pollution we have barely had practice, like 30 minutes per sport, and we leave tomorrow!

I am very excited to go though. It will be better air.  A lot of fun. And I might get to go back to IKEA! Plus it will be a great experience and I am sure the teams will be great... right?!  My bags are basically packed.  Skittles... the essentials... my pillow/blanket, an owl, a friend got me for Christmas.



Not much else is happening here though.  Chico got a haircut.  Moe is working on his masters thesis though he has had some drama, which you can ask him about. The third quarter of school is over.  Report cards are due. April Break, spring break, is 2 weeks away and we are counting down the days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pollution

Last week my bike broke down.  The battery died. Simple fix here. It cost 150 baht which is about 3 bucks.  Problem is, it took 2 days to fix. Plus we got it back and the next morning it was still broken because we didnt drive it around enough the first day.  So It was basically the whole week that I did not have a bike.  I decided to take the time to walk to school. It was the last week in February and somehow I knew it was going to be the last nice weathered week.  I walked to school in pants and a cardigan almost everyday and did not over heat or get too sweaty!

One day a parent of a student in my class saw me walking and picked me up! It was so cute and kind of her.  This is the kind of community I am in.  People help each other whenever possible and it is truly amazing.

Anyway, my gut was right that it was the last nice week.  Monday morning (sunday too, but I was inside all day!) was gross.  Farmers had begun their traditional slash and burn methods and the skies were gray with ash.  You could almost see the ash.  We had to have inside everything that day.  The AQI (air quality index) was 120, which America says 50 is the level air should be at.

Also, Monday was our last basketball practice as Tuesday was the tournament.  We had to have a "walking only" practice, which was a little difficult!  But the girls did it wonderfully.  We werent sure if we were going to be able to play in the tournament on Tuesday if the levels were still too high.

Tuesday was a little better but still inside recesses in the morning.  The AQI was only 105! We did have our basketball tournament.  The first game was outside in the 100 degree heat and the 100 AQI levels! It was rough. But again the girls were troopers.  The championship game was next. It was a good battle, full of drama, but it was a display of our growth.  Sadly we lost but I am so proud to be part of the team and thankful for each of them.  Here is a picture I stole from one of their facebooks... I hope that is allowed!


Today is a national holiday! So a day off of school! It is so nice, especially after a long night.  It is a Buddhist holiday that I wont even try to spell or say.  Our housekeeper still came, though only for a half day. We told her she didnt have to, but she wanted to.  She brought her twin daughters with her and they are soooooo cute! I love hearing them playing with Chico, chasing him around, and trying to get him to sit!   Here is a picture of them.   They were standing still for once, so he had to sniff them!



Also, side note - the pollution is getting better! Today it is only 85 which is considered moderate and not unhealthy!  This would have meant regular recesses today - wooohooo.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Yikes - January is almost over!

For real guys, I cant believe it is the last week in January. The past 3 weeks have been a blur. Life is crazy, but good.  So here it is:

I am assistant coaching varsity girls basketball this season. It is much shorter and less intense than basketball in the States, but it is still time consuming - 4+ days a week.  But we had a first 2 games after only 2 practices! That was crazy!  Next week we have a tournament where we will play at least 6 games in 3 days.

Moe is teaching part time now.  He is the 6th grade math teacher at my school.  He teaches two sets of 6th graders.  He has a desk in the office, has his own laptop and everything. He is official and amazing.  The kids love him and he is loving teaching them.  He has even considered and informed the school that he would be willing to have a full-time job for next year.... so that might be happening.

We are considering options for the summer. We are not coming home since we went home last summer. We are considering options for teaching summer school for a few weeks during the summer. We might try to make travel plans but haven't even started that process yet.

Chico is doing well too. He is very hyper...still. He runs around a lot and LOVEs to get scratches.  I am working on teaching him to high-five.  Not sure if I mentioned before that our housekeeper taught him to go to his cage when the doorbell rings, and that has been the best trick he knows! Its amazing!  Here is a picture of him sleeping with a pillow a friend gave me.  The pillow unzips and holds a blanket inside... It is amazing!!

I am taking the semester off of my masters courses for a variety of reasons, but its a good thing.

I know I still need to blog about our trip to Cambodia. Also, I need to post my goals for the year. Coming Soon... I hope.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year in Review

Wow I cant believe 2014 is over. It was an amazing year full of challenges, adventures, changes, travel, and so much more. I want to highlight some amazing things and reflect on the goals I made last January.  I also want to thank all of my friends and family for making this year incredible. 

Highlights ;)

I turned 25... It was sorta a big deal for me. I feel old now. I feel maturer. I feel appropriate. What I mainly am referring to was teaching. As a newbie teacher and being 23 I felt young, inexperienced, and unknown. Now that I am 25 (I know that 2 years isnt that much) I feel more qualified to be a teacher. I know weird. 

Also in January I started my masters, at Michigan State.  I completed 6 courses this year which is quite impressive in my opinion. I did all of them well and am pleased with my learnings and grades. I still have 4 to go though... 

Moe and I went to the beach in April during our break. It was a wonderful getaway and one that I will always remember. 

In June I finished my 2nd year of teaching and then traveled to America alone, which was sorta scary! Being home with my family was definitely a highlight of my year and being able to watch my baby brother get married to his beautiful bride was wonderfully terrific. 

I started year 3 of teaching in August and became the "head" of my grade band (grades 3-5). I have had to work closely with our new principal this year and help remind and encourage my department, especially since a handful of them were new. It has been a challenging but enjoyable responsibility. 

I coached middle school volleyball again this fall and one of the cool things the school did after the season was have a staff vs. students game. So I was able to truly show my skills ;) during the game. But in reality it was a lot of fun to actually play volleyball again! 

Moe bought a charcoal grill as one of his Christmas presents. We have been enjoying learning how to grill and enjoying the tastiness that comes from the grill! Its been fun and a nice addition. 

Lots of other things too but Im done thinking...

Goals

These were my goals from last year with my comments of review added to them 
-  Be intentional about relationships - I do think I did this well this year. I feel more connected and involved in my community now than I have before. I do think I can progress in this, but I have made the first step which is very encouraging to me. 
-  Spend quality time with family and friends - In review I think that this goes hand and hand with the first one. I did spend much more quality time with people. I love quality time though so I might use this one again! 
-  Cook more dinners/Try new recipes - I definitely did this! Moe and I had been eating out way too much our first year here.  This year (2014) we definitely cooked more and tried a handful of new recipes. Some worked and some didnt... we had quite a few complete fails too. But again I want to continue this and maybe try even more new recipes!!
-  Travel (to the beach, Malaysia, and America) - We did travel to the beach and America. We didnt make it to Malaysia... hopefully this year??
-  Finish this school year to the best of my abilities - This will probably always be on my list. I did okay this year though. 
-  Be more specifically encouraging to my students - not just "keep going" "you're doing great" - This is a struggle for me. I am getting to know my students better this school year so hopefully I am able to be more encouraging and more specific with them. Those that I am able to do this with I can see the benefits and their appreciation. 
-  Get organized - UGH! I have done a few things, but still LOTS of room for improvement
-  Blog more - new goal, twice a month.... - UGGGGGGH again. Might have to be the same goal this year. 
-  Be more budget conscious & Save - This one we definitely did. I feel so much better about saving money and being able to do the things we want to do. We were able to travel and buy a 2nd motorbike and all kinds of things because we started saving! Who knew! 
-  Read 15 books.  (I read at least 17 this year, but more than half of them were from my class library...) - This one I can say I definitely did! I read 17 books this year! And I would say only 3 could be consider kids books (but really they were middle school books). 

...... new goals will come in a later post......

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Community

Today I was reminded of the amazing community I am a part of.  We had a going away party for a student in the other 4th grade class who has been a part of the community for 4 years.  His mom threw this great party for the students and a handful of other moms come in and help. He gave a short presentation of where he was going and she said a short thank you to the students. It caught me off guard how emotional she was and I became emotional even though I barely know the mom or the student, since they are in the other class. She was expressing her sincere appreciation for the community and group of students her son was a part of.  It reminded me of how bless I am to be part of it as well.  My school is so supporting, encouraging, and welcoming to all and it is truly an amazing place to work.

Anyway, we have 2.5 days of school left until break and I could not be happier!! I love my students but I am ready for a good 3 weeks away from them! Moe and I will be enjoying Christmas in Chiang Mai and then heading to Siem Reap, Cambodia for the last few days of break.  We cant wait to see the beautiful temples.

I hope you all are enjoying your holidays and hopefully cool weather. I have finally decorated everywhere for Christmas in hopes to begin to think Christmas.  The weather is slowly cooling down so that is helping a bit.  I love this time of year, but it is definitely much harder being away from all our family and loved ones.  We think of you all often!  Here is our little taste of Christmas.  I love it!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Productive Friday

Today was the kings birthday, so we got the day off of school. I was able to sleep in finally and Chico let me! I then woke up and made myself cinnamon French toast which was delicious, I watched some shows and relaxed. Then I went out to the store to get some last Christmas decorations.  There were so many people out and showing support for the king by wearing yellow. It's so cool to see.  I also got Chico a new toy. Here is a video of him playing with it! He was so cute because he didn't want to hurt his new toy friend.



New Toy from Brittany Knechtel on Vimeo.



I then came home did some homework, watched some more shows and relaxed. I put up the last decorations, organized a few things, and had yummy leftover tacos for lunch.  Matt then decided he wanted a grill. So the adventure began by going to the Home Depot like store, called HomePro. Matt saw exactly what he wanted for cheaper than he thought possible. We had to have it, but we came on the motorbike. So we looked into delivery which was actually reasonably price but wouldn't arrive until Sunday. Matt wasn't having that, so we decided to get a songteaow. I rode with the goods in the truck, while Matt led the way with the motorbike. It cost us 3 bucks to have this guy follow Matt home and deliver our grill immediately. Then came the adventure of putting it together without instructions and grilling for the first time.  Matt was craving chicken wings so that is what we had.




It was a. Reat Friday, but Saturday was great too. More on that soon!