Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.


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An Interesting Omelet– Green Bean Style

20150211-183600-66960438.jpgI first had this served to me when I lived in Costa Rica in 2010. The mother of the home made amazing breakfasts with mouth tingling pineapple and papaya, and this was one of the main breakfast couses she made.

1/2 cup frozen green beans
1 egg
1/2 tsp. bacon grease or butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Sauté the green beans until soft and cooked (I like them pretty cooked–about 5 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.
Beat the egg and add to the green beans.
Cook over medium heat for another 3-5 minutes until the egg is cooked.

Optional: Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
This serves one–Enjoy!


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Celebrating Christmas Without Family in Another Country: Remembering Three Christmases Ago

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As I was buying my ticket to teach in Costa Rica for ten months back in 2010, my Mom said to me, “You don’t need to come home for Christmas–just enjoy Christmas in Costa Rica!” So I booked my flight for later that month and my return trip for ten months later.
As Christmas approached, I found out that many of my fellow teachers were flying home for Christmas, and I was going to be alone in Costa Rica and had two weeks off of work. One missionary family needed a house-sitter while they went to the beach, so I had a change of place to live and a change of pace to my life.

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I slept, I cooked more. I ran. Some missionary families were still around, so they invited me to have Christmas dinner with them. I made a fruit salad with starfruit on top.

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My favorite part of that Christmas without being with family was how I could still celebrate Jesus’ birth with other believers: I figured out how to take the bus downtown, and I went to this small English-speaking Episcopal Church that welcomed me.
After the service, I walked through the sunshine to the flower vendors and bought myself a big tropical bouquet of flowers with money my brother had sent me to buy something fun.

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As I walked down the cobble-stone street in downtown San Jose with the flowers in the crook of my arm, the big Catholic Church a ways down the street just started ringing its bells. I experienced what the song says, “I heard the bells on Christmas day…” and it made me so happy!

Here’s a little of what I learned from the experience of being away from family on Christmas:

Choose to have a positive attitude even if you are alone! I enjoyed buying those flowers, and being out and about on Christmas Day.

Enjoy the setting you are in. That Christmas was my first warm, tropical Christmas, so having palm trees, mango and avocado trees, and blooming flowers around helped me greatly and brought me joy.

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That Christmas was the first time I attended a Christmas Day service, and that was a beautiful way to celebrate Jesus’ birth with other Christians. Church is a great place to go when you are alone.

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If you can call and talk to your family, do it! Enjoy talking or Skyping them, and the next time when you can be with them at Christmas time, you will be even more thankful for those times. I listened to music and that helped me not feel alone. Family sent little packages and fun cards that brightened up Christmas Day by being able to open them then. Enjoy the people that are in your life right now.

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So, for those of you who are away from family this Christmas: Remember that you are not alone. Jesus left his father to come to a strange, new place, so he can understand what you are feeling. Reach out to the people that are around you and enjoy what you have in that new place where you are living, and have a beautiful Christmas!


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Children Testing the Limits: Thoughts on Watching Students Adjust to a New Teacher and the Importance of “No!”

Fall leaves.11.13

 

Watching the children handle change is fascinating. This week our school welcomed a new Spanish teacher! The old teacher had introduced the new teacher to the kids last week, but now the new Spanish teacher took over. Watching how a change in leadership influences kids intrigued me.

Here’s some of what happened: I tried to prepare the students to do well in the first class with the new teacher by reminding them how to act, but once we were in the classroom, I was the supporting teacher, and she’s the main teacher.

The period started out well with the students practicing what they had learned in the last class: saying “Buenas tarde!” when they entered the room. They sat down at their tables, then the new Senora played them some music and started teaching them different Spanish words that were in this song about a wooden doll. At first the students followed along, but then there was more talking and subtle goofing off (the new teacher may not have noticed it, but I did and was not happy!)

About half the class was engaged, while half of the class (the more active, less able to transition well half) was testing the new teacher. Some students were being extra silly, while others were apathetic. I tried to keep them engaged, but I couldn’t make them completely focus because I wasn’t leading the class.

This makes me think back to when I took over four English classes mid-year at a private school in Costa Rica a few years back. The first six weeks it seemed like it was going so smoothly, then problems started popping up. I had wanted to be sensitive and supportive as we all went through the change of teachers, but I’m seeing that I should have been lovingly tough from the start. Now I have learned that knowing how you want the students to act, clearly stating it, giving consequences if they choose to not follow directions, and then plow ahead into learning is a great way to function in a classroom. When a student even does something a little different than how you want it done, quickly correct them and then get back to work. The students want you to keep your word and create a safe place to learn.

In Costa Rica I didn’t clearly know how I wanted them to act, and then I didn’t confront things quickly, so they got away with disrespect and things they shouldn’t have done. I shouldn’t have let them. Once this got away from me, it got harder to manage the students, and then it was even harder to get the classes back on track. I was able to bring a couple of the classes around, and one finally came around on the last day when I finally said a clear “No!” to one junior high boy who had been getting away with murder. I made it through that season of teaching, but now I see how important it is to be able to say “No!” to kids.

Now back to yesterday’s Spanish class. After we got back to our class, I started talking with the kids about it, but I wasn’t sure how firm to be or what exactly to say, so my fellow teacher jumped in and helped me clearly tell the kids, “That is NOT how you act in Spanish class!” They got a consequence they didn’t like, and tomorrow they will have another chance to do well in Spanish. Children need guidance and support through a transition of leadership, and I’m interested to see how the kids will act tomorrow.

Kids want you to stand up to them. They want to know you will protect them and guide them through learning. Saying “No” to children is sometimes the best way to love them.