Monday, June 29, 2009

Greetings from Spain!

So we arrived in Spain this morning at 9:30am, after a very very long flight. However, thanks to the miracle of drugs, with a little help from an accidental overdose it flew by. I managed to procure some Ambien for the trip so I could sleep on the plane. I could SWEAR I was told to take two...but upon further inquiry that was incorrect.

So, there I was, on the plane out of Atlanta thinking how long the 8-hour flight was going to be and just hoping the meds would help...little did I know. Apparently about forty minutes in I started getting fairly loopy, insiting that Ainsley and I watch the same movie, but not quite being able to navigate the buttons on the TVs in the seats in front of us. Thankfully I kept to myself this trip as I have a history of becoming a little too outgoing when on sleeping meds, but I am sorry Ainsley had to deal with me. I barely remember asking for the chicken dinner option and then I was out, next thing I knew we were landing in Madrid and the breakfast Ainsley had gotten for me was sitting on her tray, as it had been for at least an hour.

I have never had a flight go by so quickly and I was thanking my lucky stars for this mircaulous sleeping drug...but then I had to sit up. I quickly started to feel sick, and the only thing that helped was leaning over to go back to sleep on my tray table. Of course this was not in line with the 'seats and tray tables in their full, upright, and locked position policy' so that didn't last long. By the time we were exiting the plane I knew what was coming. As we shuffled past the first-class seats I struggled with all my might to refrain from exploding all over them but as we walked up the exit ramp I couldn't help it, and made a bit of a mess all over my hand and sleeve. Luckily I hadn't had much to eat so the volume was limited, but the smell is the smell and it was highly unpleasant.

After cleaning up a bit we met my uncle who drove us out to his house, I struggled to keep up with his numerous questions but it was a long drive and I was regretting every bite of food I had eaten. When we arrived at their awesome house, large backyard, pool, and all, I said a quick hello to my aunt, and after they showed us our room I pretty much hit the bed and slept for three hours. Ainsley meanwhile was stuck playing with my energetic young cousins while I tried to sleep of my overdose and made periodic trips to the bathroom.

I did make an almost-full recovery though, enough to join my cousins for dinner and then make a trip into the city for the evening. We walked around Madrid for three hours and enjoyed the fabulous weather (almost exactly like Salt Lake Summer evenings), the amazing architecture, and the fascinating people-watching. Unfortunately no pictures of the airport/bed scene, but here a few from our evening walk.This is me in front of the Royal Palace, which we hope to enter tomorrow. The post was supposed to communicate a feeling of belonging, and say 'one day wealth and power will all be mine'. Didn't quite come off that way though...but hey, it'd been a loooong day.
We thought this sign was funny, we wondered if it was just ice cream with an 'n' added on, or if they just thought there cream was nice. Then my uncle explained that it was probably named for Nice, the city in France. We hope no one overheard us discussing of many culturally/geographically ignorant moments I'm sure.Last, and probably least, I just thought this lampost was cool, is it just me or does that look like a soccer ball? Overall, the time we've spent sightseeing has been great so far. I'm off to stomach isn't quite back to normal, hoping it's all fine by tomorrow we can start sampling some real local cuisine!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Subjects Not To Discuss Until Age 7

While I am home for the Summer I have been asked to help with the primary kids at church. My initial reaction was excitement because my memories of being in Primary were all of treats and singing and games...much more exciting than sitting around with women twice my age in Relief Society. (For last week's lesson the teacher put up a big quote on the board which said something about remaining faithful lest we be 'cast down to Hell'. Uplifting yes? But it got better, one woman told a story about evil spirits sitting in the back seat of her car, I kid you not. Now I'm not denying the existence of evil spirits/negative karma/bad juju or whatever, but it was a little awkward.)

Anyway, I had my first Primary assignment yesterday, teaching the 4 year-olds. The lesson title was I am Grateful for Food & Clothing but could have been more accurately titled Subjects Not To Discuss Until Age 7. The first problem was that this food lesson fell on Fast Sunday, so talking about food at 3:30pm when I had been without since the night before put me off my game a little. Second, the lesson manual focused on teaching about where food and clothing comes from (animals and plants). I thought this would be pretty easy, I brought some examples of various foods (carrots, cheese, bread, etc. - edible object lessons to keep their minds and mouths occupied), and we talked about where each came from. Then I asked the three kids what their favorite foods were, the first kid, Van, yelled, "Chicken Nuggets!"

In response to his outburst, I continued the theme of discussing where food comes from, I asked them if they knew where Chicken Nuggets came from, they said no. Well they actually stared blankly back at me, which I took to mean no, so I explained that they came from chickens. This turned out not to be such a good idea. The follow-up question, which I should have seen coming, was, "How? From the eggs?" "No," I explained, "From the meat of the chicken." "Where's the meat?" Van was staring up at me, honest curiosity radiating from his large brown eyes, a very rare occurence in my experiences with this hyper-active child. Then I was trapped, was it really my job to communicate the brutality involved with the creation, or rather compilation of Chicken Nuggets to an innocent 4 year-old? How could I show this kid's favorite food for the disgusting amalgamation of leftover parts that it really is when he was staring up at me like that? I didn't think this dilemma was one that I, a 20 year-old subsitute teacher with no children of my own, should have to deal with. But I also couldn't lie in reponse to such an honest query, so I brushed it off by saying, "The meat is all over the chicken. Who wants to play a game?". I silently congratulated myself on the stealthy avoidance of a serious issue. But then, the game I had thought up went awry.

I had the kids point to different items of clothing and then explained where the materials of each came from. (I'm no expert on that subject, so my answers were basically restricted to cotton or sheep's wool, I'm fairly sure that did not cover every item they pointed to but I was not about to explain where one child's leather belt came from!)

However, I did make the mistake of asking the question, "Why do we need clothes?" Clearly, I should have known from my experiences with four brothers, that this question would inevitably lead to a comment about nakedness, apparently one of the most hilarious words on earth to 4 year-olds. I should have avoided asking the question for that reason alone, I could not however, have predicted the unfortunate response given, again from Van. He started with the simple statement, "So we don't have to run around naked in the house," but then it got uncomfortable, "Sometimes me and my dad run around naked when my mom's not home." While the other two students laughed uproariously at the word 'naked', I had an unfortunate image run through my mind of Van and his dad, who I know a little bit and who had in fact, been sitting in front of us in Sacrament Meeting that morning, strpping the second his wife left the house and running around in some sort of strange, male-ritualistic free-for-all. (I thought it would be inappropriate to post a picture of the image I had in my head, but I thought this summed it up pretty well.)

There was no recovering, at that point I just resorted to crowd-control tactics for small children, I pulled out the markers and paper and we colored for the last ten minutes. Thankfully, they were so excited about the candy bar they each got to help them remember to be grateful for food, that they forgot about the 'naked' discussion and kept their drawings to a series of unfathomable scribbles that they claimed were innocent items like strawberries and batman pajamas.