Saturday, December 28, 2013

Italy is Weird

I really love Italy. Really. So much is wonderful; the food, the sights, the people... It's a beautiful place to live! Some things just need to be shared, though:

I'm (probably) signing life away. 

I fully agree to be trafficked within and around Italy.
Love, Jessica M. Streisel
These first bunch of months have involved a lot of paperwork. New employee paperwork, bank paperwork, "Codice" paperwork (to get an Italian social security code), residency paperwork (maybe? I'm not really sure about that one)... And as much as I love complicated paperwork, this kind is all in Italian. I just sign and initial away on pages and pages of documents that could say anything at all and I'd have no idea. They typically aren't explained, either. We've been lucky enough at the school to have a lawyer meet us at official buildings we've had to visit and sign or leave fingerprints at, but he doesn't say anything to us really other than "Sign here," or "Put your thumb here." There is a possibility that I've been signing myself into the sex trafficking industry and don't even know.

Spot the flush!


Trying to flush the toilet is like a trying to find a secret lever in a video game; you can't leave until you've found the hidden switch. Sometimes it's a button on the wall, sometimes it's a faucet behind the toilet that you have to turn on and off, once in my first week I came a cross a big black bubble on the floor that you had to step on. And don't even get me started on squatters! In Morocco, I thought, "Sure, squat to use a porcelain hole in the floor... this is fitting." But Italy? Definitely unexpected. Italian toilets lack consistency and it's just weird.

It's basically the same thing. 

Can you even see it?

Tiny Coffee

Coffee is miniature. Usually it's around the size of a double shot. My tiny little coffee maker is meant to brew two cups of coffee, but when I make a pot, the entire thing doesn't even fill my mug! On the plus side, though positivity is not the theme of this post, it makes coffee really inexpensive! There are two coffee vending machines at school with all different options, and it's only about 30 cents a cup! Woohoo!

All I need is alcohol, olives, and kiwi. 

Grocery Shopping

The grocery store is only a 15 minute walk from my house and it's not bad walking over with my Grandma Cart, but I miss Wegmans like you wouldn't believe. It's such a different experience here! I'll walk you though it: First, you need some milk for your tiny coffee, so head over to the refrigerated section of the store. Cheese... yogurt... fresh pasta...  But no milk or eggs! You spot them sitting on a not refrigerated shelf. Technically they don't need to be chilled, but getting your milk or eggs off a shelf that isn't cold is so odd! But now, you've seen cheese and you are in Italy, so you need to have some. But all of it is expired! Like, all of it! By months! I bought cheese my first week here that had expired in February.

Busy afternoon at Coop.
So you have your expired cheese, your room temperature eggs and milk, and now it's time to check out. It's a Sunday afternoon so half of the town is shopping with you, but for some reason only two lanes are open and the employees are taking their sweet time. You're waiting patiently with your spaghetti, eggs, cheese, and milk, wishing that the "10 Items or Less Line" was open when the woman in front of you calls her friend over, with a full cart, and she jumps into line in front of you. You're pretty annoyed, but try and be pleasant when a man comes up to you with four smaller items and says something in Italian, and motions to you. You have no clue what he's saying so you mumble, "Non parlo Italiano..." and he motions to the line in front of you. You smile, and he hops in in front of you. Apparently smaller items, even if there are the same amount, put you ahead of the line. Anyways, by the time you've bought the few things you needed and walked home, you are exhausted, annoyed with society in general, and hungry but too nervous to eat your warm eggs or expired cheese.

Chilling at the store.

Dog Care

Dogs can go into grocery stores, and if you pick up after your dog, you are in the minority. Dogs are also exceptionally well trained (they may poop where ever they please, but it's the owners fault for not cleaning it up, not the dogs!). The majority of dogs I see aren't even on a leash, but stay close to their owner all the same. Maybe I'm just hyperaware because I want a puppy so badly! It's not the right time, between work and travel, but I want a little baby dog right now!

Lack of cute/normal supplies mean students are extra entertained by
Post-It notes... here we're working on probability and determining the
difference between "Impossible," "Certain," and everything in between.
Please note that "Miss Streisel will be mean" ranks in at the same
probability as "Horses will back flip." Yay :)

School Supplies

Spiral notebooks? Nope. Composition notebooks? Nope again. 3-ring binders? Try 4-ring. Paper? It's an inch or so longer. I've been trying to stock up my classroom and keep running into problem after problem! For example, spiral and composition notebooks are not Italian things. I can buy composition notebooks at the school bookstore if I want for 5 euro (about $6 or $7), but that seems a little excessive. Binders really don't seem to be something people use around here. I've bought a few only to find that they are all weird. Some already have a certain amount of plastic sheets attached to them, most have 4 rings, but just when you think you're use to that you accidentally buy a two ring... And the notebooks! I've bought a few sets so that the students could have them, and they all have different types of lines! Grid paper, small rectangles, regular lines, some regular lines with a smaller line between them... and it's never clearly labeled and they're always wrapped in plastic so can't check. The kids don't understand the concept of "please bring a folder back and forth to school every day in your backpack," and folders aren't your normal 2-pocket type, but rather these weird folding things with a strap. Speaking of backpacks, most have wheels like a suitcase. The one thing that is easy to find is plastic sheets- the kind that go in binders. Typically the kids bring their homework, notes from parents, pictures they want to give me, any type of paper in a protective plastic sheet. What I wouldn't give for Target. It is kind of cute how excited they get over supplies I brought from home. I brought some alphabet stamps, magnet letters, and colored mini whiteboards in for "Word Work" and vocabulary practice and they are in absolute awe of them.


Ever heard of VPN? I hadn't until moving. Apparently websites I adore like the lazy bum I am, and completely take for granted, like Netflix and Amazon Prime haven't come to this part of the world yet. I know that because: 

I love this little Fire Man.
Honestly, I still have no idea what VPN means or stands for and I could Google it but instead I'm just going to be grateful for websites like Hola Unblocker that let me do something with this so called VPN and act like my internet is still in the US. I'm pretty sure it's safe and everything, but what I know for sure is that it puts an adorable little smiling Fire Man in the corner of my browser and lets me watch How I Met Your Mother, Always Sunny, and New Girl. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fakesgiving and Other Adventures

The last few weeks have been, as usual, extra stressful, but had some fun adventures mixed in.

Clearly, they have champion wine. 
Last weekend, one of the teachers sent out an email that the usually super exciting Opera (sarcasm) was going to be having a wine tasting at the local library, and another new teacher and I decided to go. For 4 Euro, we were given 5 drink tickets, a neck pouch, and a wine glass. There were probably around 10 or so vendors and each had a few different wines to choose from. When we arrived, a few other people from school were already on their way out, but were able to give us a few recommendations on which wines to try and which to skip. While 5 tastings seemed like a great amount for so little money, a few vendors were extra generous and would give us each a glass for only one ticket, so by the end of the night we were a littttttle more buzzed than I expected to get. Drunk at the library... brings me back to fond memories of finals weeks at AU. 

On a different note, my hair sucks. 

Not always... usually, it's my crowning feature (get it? Because it's on my head... hehehe), but the water here is loaded with calcium and it's been giving me flat, straight, volume-less hair. One of my friends and I got a recommendation from another teacher for a good hair salon and went Wednesday after school to get beautified. Thinking we were late, and forgetting that this is Italy and time is looked at in a less... timely... manner, we arrived stressed and out of breath, thinking we were going to lose our appointments. Luckily, we were escorted to a very odd waiting room with squishy purple couches, plastic lawn chairs, and fake grass. A short wait later, a man with possibly the most gorgeous hair I've ever seen sat down in the most relaxed, carefree way, started playing with our hair, and asking questions about it. After the most amazing, relaxing, wonderful wash/head massage of my life from a man with awesome tattoos, studded shoes, and an adorable accent, I had the weirdest haircut of my life. First of all, Mauro, my hairdresser, decided that I would look great with "Charlie's Angels Style." Umm.... no. I told him I really didn't want bangs and didn't think a Farrah Fawcett style would suit me or really anyone since the 70's. He did it anyway. He had me stand and face him while he cut my hair, cut it while my head was flipped upside down, and definitely gave me Farrah Hair anyways. "You have to trust your hairdresser," he said in his perfectly broken English (I may be a sucker for an accent. It's possible.). Well... when in Rome, I guess! Or Milan! 

As if the haircut wasn't weird enough, the conversation was weirder. 

"Tell me all of your secrets," he instructs me while cutting my hair face-to-face (imagine this all said in an Italian accent). When I told him I didn't have any, he told me I was boring, so I told him they were just too good to tell a stranger... I don't know that that's the truth, but when I asked what his was, his response was, "I am a girl." Hm. How to respond as this beautiful, clearly male.. male... cuts my hair. When I hesitated, he just says, "Can't you tell? I cut my boobs." Again, we are not even a foot apart so avoiding eye contact while trying to think of a response is not really an option. Running through my head are the following options:
  1. Are you/were you a man and trying to become a woman? I see stubble on his face, but I'm pretty sure his arms are waxed.
  2. Are you/were you a woman trying to become a man? He is wearing a very beautiful, long black sweater that I first took as Italian fashion, but could be feminine?
  3. Are you messing with me?


I'm still struggling with what to say when he asks again, "Don't I look like a girl?" and I just kind of stammer, "Well, you have... very pretty hair..." He gives me this look of disgust and tells me I look like a man, but he'll make me sexy. Great. The rest of the evening was similar. At times, very flirty with invitations to show me the best nightlife in the city, comments on how he use to mess up the phrases "Blow Dryer" and "Blow Job" when first learning English, other times where he reminded me of how boring I look and how sexy he will make me (can't count how many times that was brought up).  In the end, I did have Farrah Hair. It was the worst. Katie was worried too, as he insisted on giving her the darkest hair color on the color chart. Somehow, despite our original skepticism, we ended up with the best haircuts we've ever had. Strange. He also tricked us both into leaving our numbers at the desk. Anyways, it was a great night out filled with interesting Italians, awesome hair, and delicious sushi (oh yeah, we got sushi afterwards). 

Friday after school, I had planned to stay late.

The week had been busy, the day had been insane (all of my students came back from recess either crying, injured, or accused of bullying. Except Nicole, because she is a drama-free little angel), and I just needed to get some things done in peace. This is school, however, which means that there is no such thing as a minute of peace. Two boys, one from my class and one from another, came in looking for a hole-punch to decorate the Mother-Son Dance with. Maybe with the hole-punch dots? I don't know. 

Isn't it cute!?
They spent at least 20 minutes quizzing me and having me quiz them on superhero stats. They had seen my Superman shirt and Spiderman socks on the Switzerland field trip, and wanted to know if I was as knowledgeable as them on the things that mater, like Tony Stark's nemesis. 

Anyways, I was saved around 6pm when another teacher came in to see if I wanted to get Thai food.

We snatched up another teacher and took the bus down to a restaurant I've heard good things about that ended up being closed. Luckily, there was a pizza place open across the street that ended up being fantastic. It had a medieval theme, complete with a drawbridge entrance and suits of armor. Good beer, scrumptious heart shaped pizzas, great company... Definitely a sublime alternative to staying late at work on a Friday afternoon.

Finally, I come to Fakesgiving, our week-early celebration of the magnificent American tribute to food and gratitude.

What a crew. A group of people from school, mostly newbies but a few returning teachers, got together at on of the new teacher's apartments in the city (lucky girl escaped Opera life), for a Thanksgiving feast. I made brownies and four batches of artichoke dip (I only know so many recipes). Everyone brought such mouthwatering dishes- two types of stuffing, mashed potatoes, garlic pull-apart bread, sweet potatoes, lentil salad, pies, cookies, pumpkin bars... just so much deliciousness. Thanksgiving in Spain was the one point when I was truly homesick. It's hard being so far from home, but it hits you that much harder when you know that everyone you love is together and you're not there. I know it'll be hard again this year, but having people who are in the same position get together, and knowing I'll be busy (in Berlin!) on real Thanksgiving is surely helping. Anyways, after typing so long about the hair salon, I'm typed out and ready to sleep. Goodnight world!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day of Monet

I think that any teacher could tell you that work is never over. 

Harris and I on the train
You can get as far ahead as you want, but there is always going to be something you could be working on. With Parent/Teacher Conferences coming up on Wednesday (AHHHHH!), I've gotten too wrapped up in the stress of it all to remember what I've seen my parents do my whole life. As business owners, they are never truly done working, but help each other to realize it's alright to give themselves time for themselves. On Friday some of my lovely coworkers and friends did the same for me, helping me to realize that while I could keep up the vicious cycle of working and stressing and working and stressing, I need to give myself a break. If you don't, you'll burn out! I'm also starting to realize that that really is a part of my stress: being in Italy and not taking advantage of being here was killing me! So, this weekend I went with a group of girls to Pavia, a town not far from Opera that I've been hearing many of the other newbies rave about. 

 First of all, taking a train feels so fancy!

Cutest little stands on a random road
Is that lame? Hehe, well, even if it is, I love the idea of hopping on a train to go on a day trip! Pavia was beautiful, and was my ideal type of place to live; it was somewhere between quaint town and small, bustling city. Opera is fine and is appealing in its own way, but it's a pretty sleepy place to live and there isn't much going on. Pavia was a lot more like I had pictured Italian towns; it actually reminded me a lot of Granada with its cobblestones, castles, and narrow roads full of shops, restaurants, and bars. It wasn't anywhere near as big or busy as Milan, but had more charm.

Why yes, I DID spend my Saturday at an exhibit for an amazing artist in a

I went in earlier in the day with three other girls. 

We met up with three more later, but we wanted to go early to see a Monet exhibit (!!!) in the basement of a castle (!!!!!!) called Castello Visconteo. Italian castles are interesting. There aren't turrets and towers, but look more like fortresses, and from the few I've seen are huge, and square with a large courtyard in the center. The most awe-inspiring part to me is walking across a bridge and looking down to see where the moat had been. A moat! That's just nuts! It makes me absolutely giddy thinking about the fact that someone (or many someones) lived there at one point;  what we see as a tourist destination to stare at in wonder was once a home. I love imagining the lives that were lived behind those walls, and as soon as I have time to read for fun again, I'll definitely be picking up some Milan historical fiction!

The exhibit was beautiful and very strange. 

While the paintings were amazing to see, there was also this weird "sensory" piece where each room had a different smell. There were also videos playing in different rooms that I believe were supposed to be about the lives of different people who were important in Monet's life. It could have been very interesting, but unfortunately all I could tell about that part was that there was an endless loop of different faces in black and white staring and blinking into the camera, and a voice in Italian monotone explaining something or other... Hmm... The paintings themselves were beautiful, including Monet's paintings and the work of some of his influences and stepdaughter/daughter-in-law's (interesting concept... her paintings were gorgeous though! A lot like his, but a little brighter, more feminine, and with more definition than his), and some of his old letters and photos. None of the paintings I knew were there, but they were all really just so beautiful. 

Got caught taking pictures before I could get one of a Monet... Dammit!
This one is still beautiful though :)

There's a line in Clueless where Cher calls a girl a "Full on Monet," explaining that, "From far away, it's OK, but up close it's a big old mess." 

I completely disagree. It was unbelievable to stand close enough to the paintings to see every detail; to see every brush stroke and how the colors blended together. From far away the colors look muted, but if you're standing right up close it's so vibrant! Ahhhh I cant believe I saw those!


After the exhibit we explored the town a little, stopping at a pastry shop to try the beautiful and delicious desserts before dinner. 

Dinner was at a cute, outdoor cafe and afterwards we met up with three more of the girls to have a few drinks. The first bar we went to was an Irish Pub, and afterwards to this aperitivo bar called Minerva Bar & Lounge, which was maybe my favorite bar or restaurant I've been to in Italy so far. The town must have had some connection to the goddess because there was a humongous statue of her reaching for the sky in the middle of town. Not that there is anything wrong with Opera, but the bars are... not the most exciting. This one was amazing! And the aperitivo was great too... 6 or 7 euro for a Strawberry Daiquiri and access to a delicious, full buffet of snacks and appetizers? Sounds good to me! We stayed for a few drinks, got on the train, and headed back to Opera for a trip to American Bar. All in all, an awesome Saturday :)

It was such a necessary day. 

I just need to tell myself this a little more often!
I've been feeling so out of the loop with these friends, and I'm thinking I need to give myself the time to get together with these friends rather than focusing every thought I have at all hours of the day to work. Friday, I was such a nervous wreck and so stressed out, and now, even though I didn't work at all yesterday and had the same work to do, I feel way more capable and in control of the work. Woohooo!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quick Post: Alba Truffle Festival

Just a few pictures from the annual Alba Truffle Festival I attended. Alba is the birthplace of Nutella, TicTacs, and the super delicious truffles (also, the first truffles I've ever had). 



Friday, October 25, 2013

Another Fashion Night

Since Switzerland, I've been a little antisocial.

 At times I feel like my entire life is work; today I was at school for 15 hours, and though I will be doing something fun tomorrow I've also brought home a huge bag of work to finish up on Sunday. But earlier this week I was invited to one of the most "Milan" experiences that I could hope for!

Picture from Vabene's facebook- I don't own it!

One of the girls in my class has brought in these awesome, vibrant watches to show the class a few times. 

As it turns out, her mother is president of Vabene Watches. Every year they have a cocktail party to launch the new designs and I got to go! My life is so fancy now! Heehee :) Anyways, before the party I went into the city with Julia, the music teacher at my school. Everyone I've met at school has been so friendly, welcoming, and fun; it's such a great community! And, (personal victory!) I had a super tight dress hanging in my kitchen for months last year, both a taunt and an inspiration, waiting for me to lose that college weight and fit into it. I'm so happy I could finally (a year after buying!) wear it. Woohoo! After getting ready and having some wine and snacks we took a taxi over to Il Tempo Dell'Arte on Via Dante. Let me just say that I knew we were there before even walking in because there are two big, beautiful bodyguards that I see waiting for my little girl most days after school and both were guarding the building. I've never talked to either before but was feeling supa' fly in my little dress and so we said "Buonasera" to each other. It was very romantic.

Fancypants night out in my fancypants dress

I don't even have words to describe how the night went. 

After telling the women at the door whose guest list they could find us on (!!!), we went upstairs to find a few more coworkers and a few parents. There was great music playing, and amazing aperitivi and champagne being passed around. Watches were displayed like art on the walls on transparent neon backgrounds, shown by the year they were designed. More watches were worn by mannequins that were grouped in threes and wrapped in saran wrap (it sounds really weird but visually, it was interesting, unique, and fun!). Between the watch displays were paintings that were done by the WinArts group. It was all very modern, which usually isn't something that appeals to me, but in this case it was just so exciting and beautiful!

The city at night!
The woman who was throwing the party had asked me before, "Do you have any friends?" I'm working on finding humor in the language barrier and cultural differences that affect conversation with Italian people, but sometimes it takes me aback! I mentioned a few posts ago that I had to ban the "Are you in high school?" question in class, but had told all of the students that I'm 23 years old. As it turns out, the mom was only asking because their aupair is 24 and she wanted me to meet him! She's mentioned it a few times now, and the second I said "Hello" to one of the other mom's of a girl in my class (the mothers and the daughters are best friends), she grabbed my hand, gave me this intense, super excited look, and just goes, "Josh!" (that's the aupair's name) and sprints me across the room in her stilettos to meet him, weaving in and out of all the party-goers. Awkward. He ended up being pretty cool, but I didn't really get to talk with him at the party. I'll hopefully have time to talk about the school's awesome Halloween party another day, but we chatted that night and he'd for sure be a fun person to travel with, or even explore Milan with!

The woman throwing the party is, from what I've heard, one of the most... affluent... woman/families in the school... actually, in all of Italy. The crazy thing is though, while most parents pick up their children from school in their highest heels, completely made-up, and in their best designer clothes, I've never seen her in anything but jeans and a tee-shirt. Both her and her husband, who I've only ever seen in a sweatshirt, jeans, and Chuck Taylor's (I believe he and his father own a bank? Maybe? From what the daughter has mentions, it's what I've gathered?), are down to earth, sweet, and amazing. The two of them, though, all dressed up for their big event, were literally stunning. They were so ridiculously beautiful that it was actually hard to make words happen. The father was telling me about his wife starting this great company as a way to bring watch design from Germany to Italy, and I just kind of nodded and smiled a lot... 

All in all, it was one of those things that made me feel like I live in Italy. 

I'm making an effort to keep from reverting to my comfort zone (cozy in my apartment with some wine or tea, a book, and Jurassic Park) and to take advantage of where I am. I feel so lucky to be having experiences like this. I knew going to Milan would mean being in a fashion capital, but I love that I've had two nights out already that revolved around this amazing fashion world.

Julia and I at the end of the night

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Field Trip" to Switzerland

Most adorable little old couple that I saw walking around all week 

Saint Oyen- Mom and Dad, this is your future town!
When I was in elementary school, field trips were to the museum or planetarium. 

On one particularly exciting Girl Scout outing, we slept at the zoo. At my new school, 4th grade and up takes week long "Bonding Trips" all around Europe, and I was lucky enough to be a part of the trip to Torgon, Switzerland with 34 nine year olds.

Hiking boots and leggings
to work=awesome

For weeks leading up to the trip, the kids asked billions of questions. 

We'd set aside the "Activity" or "Share" time of Morning Meeting (usually, Morning Meeting includes Message, Greeting, Activity, and Share) to talk about what we were excited or worried about for the trip, and for me to answer as many questions as I could. Seeing as I'd never been on the trip either, I didn't always have a ton of answers! We left at 8:15am on Monday morning, waving goodbye to tearful parents. Most of the kids had never even been to a sleepover, so leaving the country for a week was a huge deal! We got pretty lucky on the bus ride- no pukers :) I cant even explain how beautiful the drive was- all mountain views and picturesque villages (Mom and Dad, I found your future town! Saint Oyen, Italy). 

View from the lodge was AMAZING!

Around lunch time, we pulled into Torgon.

There were six wonderful, amazing, fun, helpful counselors (all with awesome nature names!) that divided the kids into three groups. We tried to make the groups so there were an even number from each class, split up any kids that fought (or girls who brought out each others' mean sides!), and weren't sleeping in the same rooms. The actual camp itself was pretty nice. There was a building with a dining room, a little sitting area, and upstairs, a rock climbing wall. Then there was the lodge where we all slept. Dividing them into groups of 4 or 5, where each kid was with at least one person they chose (we had them list 5 people they'd like to be with), kids who fought weren't in the same room, and no one who wasn't a native Italian speaker was stuck alone in a room with all Italians was hard work, but eventually it worked out! The other teachers and I each had our own rooms. For the most part, the rooms were great! The only bad part was that the doors were really hard to open, so I walked into the rooms many times to tell the kids to quiet down only to find someone desperately trying to get the stuck bathroom door open. 

Starting the hike on Day 1.

Monday and Friday were mostly travel, but the teachers and I split up the days so we could be with each group for a day.

Tuesday I went on the hike. The other two days were split into two day time activities but hike day was all day. I'm not really sure what this means in miles (8 maybe?) but about 12km of hike was so much for such little kiddos! It really was incredible though. The mountains were gorgeous, and it was sweet to see how much the kids supported each other. 

One of my little photographers

My absolute favorite part was the solo hike. 

I went ahead and the counselor stayed back, sending kids off one by one in minute intervals so they could hike for about 15 minutes alone, listening to the sounds of nature. It was so peaceful! One of my little guys was so sweet; he finished first and as each kid came to the stopping point, he'd meet them to give a high five or a hug and say good job. They all supported each other and were so caring. One little guy was having a lot of trouble and was soooooo slow (my arm hurt so badly the next day from literally dragging/carrying him up the mountain), so they let him set the pace by making him the leader. When he'd stop they'd all start up with encouraging words and congratulating him on how well he was doing. 

Even the cows were cooler in Switzerland!
It was nice to divide up the days because then we'd get to see all of the different activities but also get to know the entire 4th grade and not just our own classes.

One of the best parts for the kids was all of the independence. They got to make their own sandwiches for lunch, and felt so grown up doing it! And while we would tell them they really needed to take showers and brush their teeth, it was mostly up to them (until they got too stinky) when they made the time to do it. They also learned to "Bust a 50" or "Bust a 100" in the woods... It's the little things  that make them happy heehee. 

So cute with their walking sticks. They spent all
week trying to find the perfect one!
I'd love to show all the kids mud facepaint, but I don't
think I'm allowed, so I'll just show mine!

The other two days were full of lots of different groups and activities. 

In "Living With Nature" they learned to make a shelter and build a fire, and in "Earth Works" they learned about ecosystems and played a bunch of fun games. That one they particularly loved, maybe in part because the leader was Italian and would explain things to them in their own language (the other counselors were Portuguese, Hungarian, South African, and two Americans). The next day we went to "Where Are We," where they learned to read and make maps and use a compass, and went rock climbing. 

To me, the most challenging part was being one of the three Mom's to all the kids. 

Fourth grade is at the older end of elementary school, but they still really are such babies! From nannying days, I remember putting one kid to bed is enough of a challenge, but 34? Ahhhh so crazy!!! At the same time, it was one of my favorite parts. It gave me such a different perspective on the children in my class, and helped me to bond with those who weren't. From my class, my strongest little girl was the one who cried the most over missing her parents, and the little boy I hadn't connected much with yet was the one who held my hand during the "Fluffy Clouds" portion of the night, and asked to borrow one of the stuffed animals I brought since he had forgotten his. Fluffy Clouds was AWESOME! One of the other teachers did this visualization technique that put the kids right to sleep. One of the rooms was all my boys, though we did try to prevent any all-one-class rooms. I'm pretty heavy on terms of endearment (I know, you're probably thinking, "You? Really? I don't believe it."), so I'm always calling them my little darlings or little angels. I went into the boys room to say goodnight and they all had glow sticks on their heads like halos and were like, "Look Miss Streisel! We're you're little angels!" Gahhhh I love being a teacher so much!

My little guy in blue congratulated
every kids accomplishments... Love him!
So many new friendships! The girls in the back are both
 in my class, but hadn't bonded until the trip

Anyways, as homesick as some of them were (I literally had to pull a few onto my lap and hold them until the hysterical crying stopped a bunch of times!), they were so sad to leave and loved camp. The bus ride back was also smooth, and although one girl turned completely green (I finally know what people mean when they say that!), there was no throwing up. The only downer was how obsessed with watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" the kids were. Isn't that weird? I remember watching it once when I was little, but despite how old it is they all loved it. Probably the most annoying, high pitched movie on Earth. What made it better was hearing their little accents refer to the movie over and over again as "Shitty Shitty Bang Bang." Hehehe. What a week :)

The bus driver saw me trying to take a picture of the beautiful view and stopped for
me to take this one. Whatta guy :)

P.S. If anyone knows privacy laws better than I do, PLEASE let me know if any of the pictures of my kiddos aren't okay. I think back of the head pictures should be fine, but feel free to message me if I'm doing anything wrong!! Grazie mille :)

P.S.S. I crossed the first item off of "The List!" Woohoo! Eating chocolate in Switzerland: Completed.