Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Deyra Moves to the Dorms!

I, of course, have been meaning to write for a month but never got around to it. I am the world’s biggest procrastinator and since writing this blog has no deadline, I never do it. We also didn’t really have anything interesting happen. Deyra mostly stayed in her room and declined to go places with us. She did, surprisingly, go to a local minor league soccer game with us. She talked on the phone for most of the game, but said that she had fun. On Mother’s Day, Deyra was very sweet and gave me a bouquet of silk flowers that she had put together. She also gave, my mom, sister, mother-in-law, and me cards. She never signs cards or writes anything on them so Kevin’s mom made her sign her name on the card so that she could remember her. Last week, Deyra moved into the dorms. We took her to Walmart the week before so that she could buy all of the things that she needed. She barely had enough money because she uses all of her money to eat fast food and buy junk food. Deyra said that some of her classmates had to move in a day later than everyone else because they literally had no money and had to wait until they got paid the beginning of June! I think they need a class on money management! Deyra moved into the dorms on June 1st. I felt kind of bad because it was a Friday and Kevin and I both had parties to go to that evening so it was very rushed. We took her to the dorms and helped her fill out all of the forms (waivers, damage forms, etc.). Her roommate had not filled out her room checklist, I think because she did not understand the questions, so we helped her too. I showed them how to work the air conditioner and then we unloaded all of her stuff and left hoping that she could figure out everything else. We told her to call if she needed anything or wanted to hang out. Deyra’s new roommate is from Haiti and doesn’t speak Spanish so that will be good for both of them to practice English. Deyra said that her roommate is the lowest English speaker in their group, and Deyra is pretty low as well so this should be interesting! Yesterday, Kevin and I were at dinner talking about Deyra and how we hadn’t heard from her since she moved into the dorms. We decided to call her after dinner and literally a minute later she sent me a text asking if we could take her to church in the morning. I of course said yes and we picked her up this morning. She told us that the dorms are good, but that her classmates stay up until 2:00 AM and won’t let her sleep either. Deyra generally went to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 PM when she lived with us and said that she is tired all the time now. She told us that they are going on a trip to Sacramento next weekend, but didn’t really know the details or why they were going. She said that they were going to “see one building”. When we asked her if it was the capital, she said “maybe”. We are getting together with my family for Father’s Day next Sunday and she said that she wanted to go if she was back in time. I’ll continue to write if we spent time with Deyra, but my entries will probably be less frequent.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Deyra's First Easter in the U.S.

So it’s been awhile again…I really suck at blogging! We’ve been gone a lot the past month so Deyra has been getting lots of English practice with other people. She also went to some kind of fair (she really doesn’t tell us anything and we found out about it from the director of her program) where she showed her goat from her Animal Science class. She always told us how terrible her goat was and that it did not like to walk or listen. Apparently she was wrong because she received first place at the show! We’re still not entirely sure what the show entailed but it lasted the entire weekend and she said that she had fun.
I was out of town for a week for work so Deyra hung out with Kevin and my sister Laurie while I was gone. Laurie made the two of them dinner one night and said that she had never heard Deyra talk so much, and in English to boot! The next week, Kevin and I went to Florida for a wedding. Deyra stayed with our friend Grace the first weekend and according to her, the highlights of the weekend were going to Walmart and McDonalds. She then stayed with Kevin’s parents during the week. She didn’t really have much to say about her stay there, just that the food was very different the food that I make (she was probably excited to eat meat and not salad everyday). The last weekend that we were gone, Deyra stayed with my mom. She went to the high school musical which she said that she enjoyed even though she did not understand it, and learned how to make pancakes. Deyra said that she had a good time and spoke lots of English. She, of course, immediately reverted to Spanish as soon as we got home…I don’t know about that girl.
I think that Deyra’s first Easter in the US was a success! On Friday, we went to Kevin’s parents’ cabin in Kings Canyon National Park. There was a little snow and Deyra was excited to play in it. She had been to the park with her class and seen snow but she said that there was very little then and they didn’t really play in it. She even went sledding! She was a little leery at first but finally agreed to go as long as I rode with her. She said that she liked it. Deyra and our nephew, Tristan, also went on an Easter egg hunt in the snow. She had never heard of an Easter egg hunt and seemed to have fun. I had never seen an Easter egg hunt in the snow before!
On Sunday, we went to church and Deyra helped Laurie and I hide the Easter eggs for the children to hunt. She had a good time doing it. She also seemed to enjoy all of the candy…she walked around to the empty tables after breakfast at church and put all of the candy that was on them in her pockets! I think that she had gone through withdrawals during Lent since I gave up junk food and didn’t make any brownies! We then went to Russell and Laurie’s new house and ate lots of food. Deyra actually hung out with everyone and talked rather than sitting in the corner silently like she normally does. I think that she really likes my mom and feels more comfortable around her. Deyra spent most of the day hugging her and hanging on her, I’ve never seen her do that with anyone else. All in all, it was a success!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Deyra Gets a Computer

Since around Christmas, Deyra has been obsessed with getting a computer. She looked at them at Walmart when she stayed with our friend Grace. I told her that she should probably get a computer at a better quality store and dropped her off at Best Buy while I got my hair cut. Deyra talked to a worker there (in Spanish much to her delight) and he told her that she would need a crazy warranty and all kinds of other extras. This scared her because it was going to be very expensive. I explained to Deyra that sales people want to sell you everything that they can and to disregard much of their advice. I explained that a two or more year warranty would not serve her as she would be back in Nicaragua with nowhere to take her broken computer. After our talk, Deyra was relieved and ready to get a computer.

I told Deyra about ads that come out in the Sunday paper and gave her some for electronics stores. She asked me questions about some of the computers which I, of course, could not answer. When Kevin came home, she asked him and he spent a long time talking to her about computers and what she wanted to use it for.

Deyra told us that she wanted a computer to use the internet and we explained that we do not have internet at our house. She said that she had heard about a portable internet device and when I told her how much it costs per month, she quickly changed her mind. We asked her why else she wanted a computer and she said just to have one and she would keep it in the box until she moved to the dorms where she would be able to use internet. Kevin explained to her that computers are constantly changing and becoming better and that it did not make sense to buy a computer if she was not going to use it for six months. Deyra decided that she would wait to get a computer. Her only qualm was that she had the money now and may spend it before she bought a computer if she did not buy one now. I suggested that she stop buying junk food and continue to save her money for a computer.

Then the new semester began…Deyra now has homework that has to be typed up. She decided that she needs a computer so that she does not have to go to the computer lab all the time. She expected me to take her to Fresno to buy a computer the day that she told me she needed one. I told her that she would have to wait until I had the free time to take her to Fresno (45 minutes away) and spend a couple of hours there.

Deyra would look through the ads each week and arbitrarily choose a computer. She could never give a reason why and it was often the most expensive computer when cheaper ones had the same features. We would talk to her about the reason for her choice and go over the similarities of the cheaper computers and she would change her mind.

After a few weeks, we took Deyra to Best Buy before a soccer game. She was very excited. It was quite an experience…

We asked her as we walked in the store if she knew what she wanted. She said, “Yes, a Sony.” We asked her why a Sony and she replied, “Because the guys (her friends in the SEED program) say it’s the best.” Both Kevin and I tried explaining to her (in Spanish so she understood) that it is better to buy a computer for the features rather than the brand, but she would have none of it because her friends told her Sony was the way to go. We also tried to explain that her friends have never had computers before and don’t know very much about them. She said, “No, they have computers now” and didn’t care that we have years of experience. So she picked out the least expensive Sony, didn’t even care what the specifications were, and declared herself done. Kevin showed her a different brand computer that was exactly the same but $100 cheaper, but she wasn’t interested. So she bought her Sony. I at least convinced her to get a case for it.

Turns out she knows nothing about computers as expected and could not even figure out how to work it! She of course never asked us for help since she has returned to spending all her time in her bedroom, and only told us when we asked her about her computer. She is supposedly talking to her friends and they are going to show her how to work it. We suggested that she ask her adviser about buying Office since she needs that to do her homework. As of yet, she has not done that and still has no idea how to use her computer…but she has a Sony!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Deyra in 2012!

Once again it’s been awhile…what can I say, I’m a procrastinator by nature and with a blog there’s no deadline! We’ve of course been very busy as usual. Deyra’s English is steadily improving but she still can’t really have a conversation. She still generally talks to me in Spanish but seems to talk to everyone else in English. She is making more of an effort now, perhaps because of the little incident we had right before New Year’s Eve.

Deyra had asked if she could eat with some friends from Nicaragua. I said fine and asked her to call me during the day and tell me when and where she needed to be picked up since she did not know beforehand (she was already in Reedley volunteering during the day). She never called and I finally called her at 4:00 or so. Deyra still reported to know nothing and was very vague. She asked me if “las chicas” could spend the night because they couldn’t stay in the dorms and I told her that she needed to give more notice if she wanted someone to spend the night (we’re working on not asking for things at the very last minute). To make a long story shorter, Deyra never called me, I got mad and called her around 6:00, a host mom explained that some girls from another SEED program were coming and when/where Deyra needed to be picked up.

Needless to say, I was a little upset about Deyra’s lack of communication. We had spoken in Spanish the entire time so she really had no excuses. Both Kevin and I talked to her about it the next day and explained that she needs to tell us what is going on (like that people were coming from out of town, I thought that it was just local kids and that she wanted them to spend the night) ahead of time. I also talked to her about spending all of her time in her room and never speaking English. Deyra told me that she spent all of her time in Nicaragua in her room (in a one room house with at least five other people?) and that she didn’t know that it was weird.

Our little talk seemed to have worked because Deyra spent the rest of Christmas vacation hanging out with us in the living room. She even went to our friends Jon and Sarah’s house with us for New Year’s Eve and stayed up late talking to people. Deyra now asks us to take her places well in advance of the night before like she used to and comes with us when we go out.

Deyra on New Year's Eve

One of the other host parents had all of the first year students over at the beginning of January and they all made gingerbread houses. Deyra really enjoyed this and had her house on display for weeks. Every time a candy would fall off, she would stick it back on until we finally told her it had to go before it started decomposing.

I was gone a couple of weekends ago and she asked Kevin is she could have a friend over. Of course, three friends came but they had a good time. Kevin was a very good dad and taught them to play Yahtzee, made them fresh squeezed orange juice, and watched a movie with them. He said that they had a photo shoot complete with the cats and a stuffed bear!

Deyra with two of the girls that came over

Deyra is taking a couple of animal science classes and came home the other day talking about what a good day she had. She told me that she got to draw blood from a cow’s tale and that it was something she had never done before. She seems to be enjoying her classes for the most part. She’s taking aerobics and volleyball for PE and is having a little trouble with those, especially volleyball. Deyra almost dropped it, but decided to hang in there. She’s never had to take a real PE class before and says that they are hard and she is tired afterwards.

Next up: Deyra gets a computer!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deyra's First Christmas in the U.S.

I think that Deyra’s first Christmas in the U.S. was a success! We made sure that she had the complete Christmas experience as Christmas is my favorite time of year. We took her to Zoolights, which is where the zoo is lit up and decorated at night. Many of the animals were sleeping but she got to see a few including the giraffes. She was very impressed and said that she’d only seen animals like that in books before. I’ll have to take her to the zoo during the day so that she can see all of the animals!


We also went to Christmas Tree Lane, two miles of houses that go all out decorating for Christmas each year. Deyra really seemed to like all the lights and took a lot of pictures. She said that she had never seen anything like that in her life. Many of the houses have themes and wooden cutouts and decorations in addition to the lights. It’s pretty impressive to me so I can only imagine what it was like to Deyra.

Christmas Tree Lane

A week before Christmas, we went to Kevin’s Uncle and Aunt’s house to make beerocks like his grandparents used to do. Deyra learned how to make them and helped out. She also helped with the puzzle (she doesn’t quite have the hang of those yet) and participated in the “As Seen on T.V.” gift exchange. She got the hang of the stealing gifts idea pretty quickly. Unfortunately, her gifts got stolen numerous times and she ended up with a pet hair brush. She got a kick of watching us use it on the cats but won’t get much use out of it herself.

Deyra making beerocks

A couple of days before Christmas a friend’s mom gave Deyra a bunch of her daughter’s old clothes. Literally, we brought home two garbage bags full! I had Deyra pick out some things that she wanted and try them on and model them for me to make sure they fit. Turns out she has gained a little weight and a lot of them did not fit. Deyra said that there are three other girls who are her size or smaller in her group so we are going to give the rest of the clothes to them. It was like early Christmas as she almost doubled her wardrobe! I was even inspired to get rid of some of my own clothes, something I never do!

Que monton de ropa

My family celebrated Christmas Eve at my house this year because my grandmother, my mom’s mother, passed away a couple of days before Christmas and we didn’t want my mom to have to do anything. Deyra told me that she wanted to make suspiros and asked for sugar, egg whites, and a spoon. She then spent the next hour beating them into meringue. I had given her a whisk but had I realized what she planned to do, I would have given her the hand mixer. I can’t believe that she spent an hour whisking eggs and sugar into meringue! To make things worse, nobody really ate them so it was like she wasted all that effort.

Family picture

Christmas in my family is a little different than the traditional Christmas. We always eats Italian food on Christmas Eve because my grandmother is Italian and that is what we grew up doing. We had tons of food including lasagna and rigatoni and then opened presents. I think that Deyra was a bit overwhelmed at first because there were so many presents. We take turns opening one present at a time and she seemed unsure of what to do at first. By the end, she was ripping them open when it came her turn. She got a lot of clothes, books, games, and even an MP3player!

A gingerbread man from Grandma Marty

We went to the candlelight church service at 11:00 PM on Christmas Eve and I think Deyra was pretty tired. She ran to bed when we got home. We then got up at 7:00 AM the next morning to open stockings. Santa was good to her and she got lots of her favorite food, candy. We ate breakfast and then headed off to church and after that to Kevin’s parent’s house. Deyra got more presents including a sterling silver necklace and bracelet and pineapple lotion from our nephew who smelled every single one to make sure he got her the best scent!

We spent the day with Kevin’s family and I know Deyra was exhausted (I sure was and even took a nap!). She played games with us for a little while and then kind of disappeared to the living room. She said that she had a good time and liked all of her Christmas presents. I asked Deyra what Christmas is like for her in Nicaragua and she said that they eat a lot on the 24th and her family goes to church. She said that she had never received a Christmas present before so no wonder she was overwhelmed!

Deyra and I baking cookies

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Deyra's First Thanksgiving and other Adventures

Once again, I have been slow in my blogging…I’m not very good at it. Deyra had her first Thanksgiving with us, sadly I don’t have any pictures, but it went well. My family came over to our house for Thanksgiving and Deyra helped me out in the kitchen and learned the names of a lot of veggies. Deyra liked the Macy’s parade so much that she turned it on in her room even though it was on in the living room. After some encouraging, she came out and watched with me. She tried all the food and said that she liked it all. We all took turns saying what we were thankful for and Deyra said, “for my family here”, it was sweet.

Deyra with Erika and Robert at Kevin's Birthday Party

Thanksgiving night, Kevin and I headed to LA for a reunion with our Peace Corps family (the others who were in Catacamas with us). Deyra stayed with my mom and had only one problem. Apparently my mom told her that she was going to get firewood on Saturday and that they had to pick Laurie up first. She pointed to the wood and Deyra said that she understood. When they got to Laurie’s house (she lives next door to us), Deyra jumped out of the car, said “thanks for everything”, and ran inside. My mom and Laurie were really confused and assumed that when Deyra heard “Laurie’s house” she figured that she could go home. Deyra had wanted to stay home alone but we told her that she needed to stay with someone so she could practice her English. My mom and Laurie did not want to make her go back to my mom’s if she didn’t want to so they just left her.

Needless to say, I was a little angry when I found out what Deyra had done. I had explained to her in English and Spanish how long/what days she was staying at my mom’s and how she would get home. When I asked Deyra what happened, she said that my mom told her they were going to Laurie’s so she just went home. I explained to her that this was not what she was supposed to do and she apologized and said that she did not understand. I took the TV out of her room since all she does is watch Spanish TV and not practice English. She was ok with that. Everyone is pretty sure that she understood and just saw it as a way to stay at our house alone like she wanted.

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Christmas is very different in Nicaragua than it is in the U.S. and Deyra is learning about our traditions. She helped me decorate the Christmas tree (she put all of the ball ornaments in one area and I had to redo it later) and went to a Christmas parade with us. I keep trying to get her to make a Christmas list but she is reluctant. I think that she does not want to seem greedy. I finally explained to her last night that people don’t have to buy her all of the things on the list, it is just a guide. That seemed to do the trick and she said that she would make one today.

Reedley College Float at the Parade

We went out of town last weekend and Deyra stayed with our friend, Grace, who goes to our church. Grace has had numerous SEED students in the past and was more than willing to have Deyra stay with her. According to Deyra, they had fun; she spoke in English and learned to play the piano. Grace was much more descriptive and said that they went to Walmart, a Mary Kay party, helped out at a parent’s night out babysitting event, went to adult Sunday School, and she taught Deyra to play a song on the piano. It sounds like the opposite of what Deyra is like at our house. She apparently went everywhere that Grace suggested (she always chooses to stay home with us if given the choice), did not stay in her room, and spoke English (her only option with Grace). I think that she probably felt like she had to participate since she does not know Grace that well like she did with us when she first arrived. As soon as we came home, she started talking in Spanish again and didn’t want to go anywhere with us...baby steps.

Even without the TV in her room, Deyra still spends the majority of her time in there. We always invite her to watch TV with us (well, the rare times that we watch TV), and I have told her that she can watch TV in the living room whenever she wants. We often see her just staring at the ceiling in her room. For some reason she prefers to be alone in her room. As a result, her English is not improving very much. It is still impossible to have an actual conversation with her, and she still generally answers us in Spanish. We have started saying, “What, I don’t understand” when she talks to us in Spanish. Hopefully Christmas break and not being around Spanish speaking people all the time will help.

Our Christmas Card Picture

Up next: Deyra has finals, Deyra’s first Christmas

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Halloween Fun!

Deyra has been busy! The entire group of SEED students in her cycle went to Yosemite National Park a few weeks ago. Each student was supposed to bring a lunch and while this sounded simple to me, Deyra had no idea what to do. She was just going to bring a soda and some grapes but I said no way. I taught her how to make a sandwich and we went through all the “portable” food that we had until she found things that she liked. At the end she said, “Wow, that was so easy but I had no idea where to even start.” Funny the things we take for granted. She had a good time at Yosemite, but was very tired the next day. In her words, “we climbed a giant rock and it took two hours and we didn’t get to stop very much”. Laurie’s boyfriend, Russell, gave her an old digital camera that he was not using so she took that with her to document her trip. (Sorry I don’t have any of the pictures.)

Kevin and I took Deyra to the Big Fresno Fair a couple of weeks ago. When we lived in Texas, we went to the Texas State Fair and were really excited because we were sure it would be the best fair around…wrong. It was a very disappointing experience and we realized that the Fresno Fair is actually better. So it’s a pretty cool fair and Deyra was impressed. We ate cinnamon rolls (the best in the world!), saw all the animals and exhibits, and even took her on the ferris wheel. She was a little leery of the rides at first but seemed to enjoy the ferris wheel. Kevin and I went on a pirate ship that went upside down and she declined that one. She watched us and when we hung upside down the first time, I saw her cover her mouth and I am sure she was saying, “Dios mío!”. She thought that we were crazy!

Deyra and I on the ferris wheel

Deyra also got to experience her first Halloween! I explained the whole concept to her (and the more I told her, the more I realized that it is really weird that we dress little kids up and send them door to door asking for candy) and told her that we were taking her to a haunted forest/hayride. This was really hard to explain, even in Spanish, and I’m pretty sure she thought that we were crazy. We went to the haunted forest with a group of friends and she (and our friend Laura) got really scared on the hayride while the rest of us were laughing. Then came the forest…Laura said that they were holding onto each other and screaming the entire time. They both came sprinting out screaming but Deyra said that she had fun and that it was something that she never imagined!

A couple days before Halloween I picked Deyra up from school and we were driving home talking about what she had learned that day. She told me that she learned about “Holy Week” which I thought was a really strange thing to learn about in October. She tried to explain what she had learned to me in English and it came out, “kids, candy, 31st”. I was super confused and she switched to Spanish and explained Halloween. When she realized the mistake that she made she laughed a lot and still likes to talk about how she confused Halloween with Holy Week!

Deyra carving her pumpkin

Laurie, Deyra, and I carved pumpkins on Halloween and I am pretty sure Deyra once again thought that we were crazy when I explained the concept to her. Laurie had a book of face designs that you just poke holes in and then cut along the holes. Deyra chose one because it was “easy” and actually enjoyed the whole process. She really liked when we put candles in the pumpkins so that they glowed. Afterwards, Laurie and I dressed up to go to a friend’s house and Deyra was so excited when she saw our costumes that she started jumping up and down squealing, “picture, picture!”. She took a picture of us on her camera so she would remember our costumes. She said that she liked Halloween because you get candy and she likes candy!

Our beautiful pumpkins!

Deyra has started speaking more English and while it is far from perfect, she has definitely improved! I can understand her most of the time and get the gist of what she is trying to say. We like to talk about how much she has improved and she always says, “When I come no English, now much English”. Her writing is even better than her speaking!

Fall finally arrived and the days have been much colder. Usually with lows in the high 30s or low 40s and highs in the 60s or sometimes 50s. Needless to say, Deyra is freezing. She told us that she has never been anywhere this cold and that her fingers almost froze. There is usually ice on Kevin’s windshield and she could not believe that was even possible. I took her to buy a jacket and she came back with two that were exactly the same. I asked her why she was getting two and she said, “don’t I need two?” I explained the concept of jackets to her and that she could wear the same one everyday over her other clothes or if she wanted, get two different jackets. She chose to just get one and usually doesn’t even wear it even though she says that she is freezing. We’ll see how she fares once it gets colder and foggy.

Up next: Deyra does community service and Deyra’s first Thanksgiving!