Aural Rehab Week #4 Test: Mosquitoes, Time Crunch, Yelling Kids, Power, Headache, Chatting

So…yeah I took another dip in my test score but it’s still better than what my pre-test results were.

Pre-Test:  60%

Week #1:  48% (lots of background noises), 68%

Week #2:  62%

Week #3:  64%, 84%

Week #4:  64%, 76%

I was….extremely….distracted tonight.

My first attempt I had mosquitoes trying to eat me up alive, some animal was making noises outside (maybe birds??), then I had the occasional kid yelling.  I had wanted to take the test after the girls went to bed so that it would be quiet but we have been without power for a couple of hours and I needed to get the test done before my netbook died.  I was trying not to feel the rush against how much time I had based on how much battery power I had left while taking the test.

I was doing well until the mosquitoes started driving me bonkers and I couldn’t take it anymore.  My attention was on swatting them away from my legs since I had shorts on from working out earlier.  At least none of them flew up my nose like one did last night.  This resulted in a 64% on the test (stupid plateau).

I then decided to give it another try, but this time with pants on.  It was then that more girls started making more noises from time to time.  It was also when I started chatting/facebooking with people who were on their lunch breaks back in America (multitasking during aural rehab–bad idea).  Then to top it all off the power kept coming on and going off (almost like a strobe show).  I got a 76%.

Oh yeah, I also had a small headache…

I need to figure out how to get over this plateau…..something tells me I shouldn’t accept this to be the best that I can do but I’m also very aware of what is realistic for me in terms of my hearing loss background.

100 Days of Aural Rehab Continued……

Aural rehab is such a roller coaster for me….

There are days when I can actually pick out words here and there then there are days when I get the most ridiculously simple thing wrong over and over.

Today was one of those off days, not sure why.

Sometimes I think there are times when I don’t try hard enough.  Then there are times when I try TOO hard to the point that I’m over thinking it and shooting myself in the foot.

*sighs* So hard to find the right balance….

I was just going downhill no matter what I was doing today for a good 30 minutes so I decided to just stop instead of continuing to shoot down my confidence level.  I will start afresh tomorrow with a better mental set.

Tomorrow is my week #4 test, I hope I do somewhat decent and I don’t end back at square 1.  It is what it is.  Sometimes you have to take downs with ups and tomorrow may be one of those downs after such a wonderful up with last week’s test.  I’m still going to aim to do my very best tomorrow!




Sometimes it seems so surreal that I’m really living in a different country. Other times it’s just another normal day and I forget I’m in a different country.

I can remember being around 6 years old sitting on the floor of my bedroom in Wichita staring at a brand new globe. I used to just spin that globe as fast as I could and watch the blue of the ocean spin by fast then I would put my finger on it to stop the spinning. I would then look to see which country I “ended up at” and would wonder what it was like there and I would check to see how far it was from America…well…by my 6 year old definition which was just how far apart my two fingers were from each other (one finger on America and the other finger on the random country).

I remember being in the 2nd grade and my Brownie Girl Scouts troop wrote letters to soldiers overseas for Christmas. I think I got a letter back from the solider I wrote to and I should still have it somewhere. It just amazed me that a person could live in a different country so far away.  I wanted so badly to understand it but my little brain just couldn’t fully grasp how it worked.  I also attended a school in the 2nd grade that was basically the ESL school in the district and I was jealous that other kids could speak different languages and had different cultures!

Sure, by some people’s definitions I didn’t travel much until the last couple of years of undergraduate.  I was 18 when I first flew. I saw the beach for the first time when I was about 14. I saw a mountain for the first time when I was almost 11.  I went camping (real camping, not backyard camping) for the first time when I was about 21. I took the subway for the first time when I was 20. I took a city bus for the first time when I was 20 as well.

It’s kind of funny because my dad was in the Air Force Reserves for a bit before I was born and he loves airplanes.  I went to quite a few air shows where I got to climb into different airplanes.  One of my favorite childhood memories with my dad is when we used to drive out to the end of the runway at airports and lay on the hood of the car with a bag of popcorn and just watch planes take off right above us.  Yet it took 18 years before I actually flew!  🙂

Needless to say I was a daydreamer…..

I had never been outside of four states (OK, KS, AR, MO) until I was almost 11 and that was mostly just because we lived so close to the state lines  in Joplin (within an hour of all 4 states).

That doesn’t mean my parents and I didn’t not travel at all. I have so many wonderful memories of day and weekend trips growing up. We took quite a few of those and they were SO fun and were perfect for my short attention span as a child. I got to see what was in my own backyard and that is something I want to do when I get back from Kenya. I feel like I’ve lost touch with what is in my backyard in the States and I want to re-explore that.  It’s fun to just be able to escape for a few hours from a busy and hectic life without having to spend oodles of money and time traveling from point A to point B.  There are hidden treasures all over in your backyard and it’s usually a nice, peaceful, short getaway….my parents taught me to appreciate that.

It’s easy to forget what is right under our nose……

We also spent many weekends traveling to visit relatives.  There was also a year when my dad worked in a town 5 hours away during the week so sometimes I tagged along when school was out.  I was also always spending the night at friends’ houses.  I also took quite a few overnight trips for gymnastic competitions.

I did grow up traveling (just not by some people’s definitions of traveling far away) and became really good at completing hours of homework in the car…I learned the art of writing neatly in a car on bumpy roads.

Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for those who grew up traveling all over and other times did get a bit jealous! 🙂 Every time I take the subway, see a mountain, see the beach, get on a plane, etc….I remember the thrill of what it was like to do each of those things for the first time ever since I was old enough to remember my first time. It’s SO MUCH FUN to relive those moments and I hope I never get so used to something that I forget what that thrill was like.

You can still catch me just staring at a mountain or a beach for a long period of time because I do not want to miss a single second of what I never thought I would get to see……

One of my lifelong goals (other than going skydiving…that’s been on my bucket list since I was 8) was to live in another country and it just seems surreal at times that I’m really doing that.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel any different than it did when I was living back in the States and other times I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that this is my reality.

All My Students Are Here!!!

Two of my students arrived yesterday (3 weeks after the term started) so all of my Classes 4 and 5 students are here now! 😀

Now, to figure out how to get them on the same page as the rest of the students. Problem is that they were already very behind last term because they were late to school last term.

Drives me bonkers how it’s so easy for students to just continue to fall further and further behind. 😦

Btw, teaching long division is tricky…..just sayin’…… 🙂 It’s almost like it’s more of a practiced skill that one has to do over and over until the light bulb goes off. I don’t even remember how I learned it….


Chapati is a common Kenya food.  It’s also a treat!

I have been stuck in my village for a few days since there haven’t been any vehicles heading to my market town.  I’m out of some food (I miss my apples!!) and some household items.  I decided to experiment with different versions of chapati.

Chapati is basically a flatbread that’s made with cooking oil, a pinch of salt, water, and tons of flour.  Like some other Kenya food, it originates from India…I think…..

Yeah…carbohydrates…needless to say I’m getting a slight chapati belly!  Sometimes I feel like all I eat are carbs!

It’s fun to watch the dough bubble up when you fry it (hey, don’t judge…little things easily become very amusing when you’re in the Peace Corps).

Anyways,  I decided to throw in some basil in the flour mixture.  I wanted to try garlic powder or cinnamon powder but am out of those.  It did spice things up a bit but it’s not something I would make all the time.  Just when I’m in the mood for Italian sort of food since it does sort of remind me (with some imagination) of bread from an Italian restaurant back home.

Then I decided to cut the chapatis into strips (they’re usually circular shaped) after frying them.  1) I was bored and wanted something different 2) I wanted small finger snack food to snack on while reading 3) It was the only way I could get leftovers to fit into my storage containers.

I decided to experiment with different spreads.  I’m out of jam so didn’t get to give that one a try.  I wanted to try Nutella but I don’t have access to that.  I tried peanut butter, it was okay.  I’m not a big fan of peanut butter in general but it is filling.  I do eat it but I don’t like tons of it on food.  I also tried honey, not bad.  I just spread out either honey or peanut butter on the strips and rolled them up.  Decent snack food and it’s filling.

I have plenty of leftovers for quick afternoon snacks in between classes for a few days!

100 Days of Aural Rehab: Days #16-21

I learned a very important lesson today.

Sometimes it’s not just about going through the motions….it’s about what you put in it, pushing yourself, and being confident.

I think after about 26 years of on and off aural rehab/speech (was diagnosed at 20 months with hearing loss) and always feeling stuck that it’s easy to just feel like I’m just going through the motions because I don’t know what else to do.  I also always felt like I was trying to do the impossible and I had no idea how to listen or how to make it work for me whatsoever.

I have a very low confidence when it comes to speech and aural rehab because 1) I’m my own worst critic 2) I have no idea what in the heck I’m doing 3) It’s always been the one constant thing that I’ve never been good at, not even close at any point in my life 4) It was always the one thing in school that had a knack for driving me to tears/anger out of frustration that I simply could not get it right no matter what I did or how hard I tried…..and I just didn’t understand it at all….

I found myself stuck once again during practice aural rehab sessions this week.  I took my weekly test today with the usual 10 levels and 50 words from closed set groups of 4.


Day 1:  60% (background noise:  rain on metal roof)

Day 7:  48% (background noise:  girls moving into dorms which is in the same compound as my house, and we do not have ceilings)

Day 8 :  68% (I was not happy with the 48% test result so I tried again when there was no background noise)

Day 15:  62% (background noise:  a few random noisy kids every once in a while)

Day 21 (attempt #1):  64% (background noise:  occasional animal noises but pretty quiet for the most part)

I was not happy with my test score, it should have been around 70% since there was very little background noise.  I also found myself getting 60% on levels I know I should have gotten 90-100%.  I also found myself missing words that I was second guessing myself on, I had the right word in mind then I would over think it and think there was no way I could be right so I would pick a different word which would turn out to be the wrong one.

My frustration level was climbing high quickly then I quickly took a breath and gave myself a pep talk.  I told myself I should at least be able to get 70% on this because I was getting 60% on the easy levels when I know I can do better than that and I needed to take advantage of having a quiet listening environment for once.

I then told myself I would retake the test, really focus, really think about and process what I was hearing, and be confident.

It took twice as long and I felt like I had done an hour of aural rehab after a 15 minute test because it is mentally exhausting.  I would listen to the word, try to pick out the sounds I thought I heard and ask myself what made me think I heard those particular sounds, then I would look at the words, think about how I think each word might sound, and then I would try to recall what I heard and see if what I think I heard matched up with what I think the word should sound like.  I also tried to stop second guessing myself.  There were a few moments when either I second guessed myself or I let my attention wander and I would always choose the wrong word then.

Sometimes it’s all about the attitude and not just going through the motions.

I am pleased to say that after my second attempt that I got a 84% and got 100% on the first 25 words out of 50.  I only got below 80% on two levels.

I think I just set the bar pretty high for myself, now to see if I can continue to get over that bar.  My goal is that if I take this test next week with background noise then I expect myself to get somewhere in the 70% range but if I take this test in a quiet environment then I expect myself to get somewhere in the 80% range.  If I find myself becoming frustrated with myself, my attention wandering, or second-guessing myself then I will stop and restart.

Sometimes it’s all about the approach and the attitude and not just going through the motions.

Week #3 of 2nd Term

Hard to believe we’re already starting the 3rd week of the second term!  Most of the kids are back at the school, a couple of my students arrived over the weekend.  I’m still waiting on 2 of my students to arrive.

It’s frustrating because it’s so hard to try to not leave anyone behind while trying not to hold anyone back at the same time.  It’s not fair to the kids who haven’t arrived yet because they’ll be confused about what we’re learning.  Then again it’s not fair to the kids who are here to be held back and not learn new things.  I’ve been taking it slowly……trying to find that balance where I can challenge students who are here without getting too far ahead so that when my last 2 students arrive they *hopefully* won’t feel that it’s hopeless for them to try to catch up.

I taught two Math classes to Class 4 today, my kids still haven’t memorized their multiplication tables even though we’re already on the division chapter.  I try to play a game with them at the end of the class if we have time.  I write a multiplication number on the blackboard (e.g. 5 x 4=) and one person from each of the two teams stand by the blackboard armed with a piece of chalk.  Whoever writes the right answer, gets a point.  Sometimes this results in frustration and tears because some of the kids want to win so badly but they struggle with multiplication tables, yet they keep asking to play it again the following day.

I also taught Class 5 Science and the current chapter is about classifying animals.  Not the most exciting chapter ever so am trying to think of ways to make it more fun and hands-on.  I think one activity I will have my kids do after we review all the 5 classes of vertebrates is have them go outside and classify animals into a table (gotta include some fun colorful crayons with that).  In the meantime, I think I’m going to either put together a collection of pictures of animals from the Internet and magazines or I’m going to draw some animals.  Then I will ask my students to identify which animal is a reptile, fish, amphibian, etc.  and why.  I’m trying to incorporate what, why, when, where, how with some of my Science lessons.

Today, I tried asking things like “How are fishes and amphibians the same?(e.g. they both can live in water” and “How are fishes and amphibians different? (e.g. amphibians can live on land and they have lungs, fishes don’t).”  I’m pretty sure I completely confused my students with that so I need to have more visual aids.  It’s a lot easier for me to explain things using visual aids than just words because I am a visual person as well.

The English teacher for Class 4 had to take care of her sick children so she asked me this morning to teach English.  She wanted me to discuss pictures in the textbook with the students since they are going to read a story with a related theme this week.  The pictures were of people celebrating holidays.  We discussed the pictures, how people celebrate holidays, etc.  Then I had them write stories themselves with guidance (e.g. “I like to celebrate Christmas.  On Christmas I go to ___________.  Then I ________________.  My family and I like to eat ______________ on Christmas.  Some other holidays are ______________.”  We then brainstormed lists of “food,” “holidays,” etc. as a class and the students completed the blanks with a word of their choice.

Then when I thought I was done for the day I get asked to teach Class 8 KSL (Kenya Sign Language).  I’m always a bit iffy when I have to teach Class 8 because I don’t feel like I have the KSL grammar down well enough (I wouldn’t call myself fluent when it comes to ASL grammar either).  I have tried to do fun activities in the past because…well…teaching/learning grammar is just boring in general.  I asked a couple of Class 8 boys when KSL was and apparently it’s “free, free” which means whenever so I decided to teach after lunch because it was almost time for lunch.

I arrived to class and they were hoping I bought flashcards/puzzles that I have made in the past.  I will sometimes go over grammar rules (props to the KSL manual PC gave us) and then I have sentences written in English on a piece of paper.  I then have all the words from a sentence written on separate papers and they have to put them in the correct KSL word order (basically translating English to KSL, and yes KSL has a written form unlike ASL).  I simply didn’t have time to do that and I don’t even have the KSL 8 textbook or anything.  I decided on a whim to see if the idea of making a KSL video for America kids would go over at all.

It went over pretty well.  There was definitively some confusion which was my fault.  For example I wanted them to sign a song that they sing at the morning assembly but I wasn’t clear enough at first.  They wanted to just show the sign for “sing” then when I tried to sign one of the songs they do, they got all embarrassed and said they wanted to just teach words.  🙂

It was interesting to see what words and sentences they came up with (e.g. respect, responsibility, humble, friend, family, prayer, church, pastor, food, school, play, sports).  We practiced twice and then I videotaped them.  Many of the signs they used were actually ASL/SEE2 and I kept trying to correct them but habits die-hard.  They have a lot easier time signing KSL when they’re in a social setting than in an educational setting.  I do hope to do this again in the future!  I need to edit the video so that they can watch it on my netbook this weekend, and I will see if I have enough MBs to post it online as well.

Facebook Status Updates

Annoyed that Safaricom appears to no longer offer weekly or monthly unlimited prepay bundles….guess it’s back to counting those MBs once again….

It may have been many years since I have lived in Joplin but I spent the majority of my childhood living in Joplin. Out of all the places I have lived, I lived in Joplin for the longest period of time (7 years). Today at 6:40 am CST (2:40pm Kenyan time) is theJoplin Memorial Run in honor of 161 individuals who lost their lives and those who have helped Joplin recover from the May 22nd, 2011 tornado. Even though I’m kind of 8,500 miles away I registered anyways and will be running my own 5K at 2:40pm Kenyan time. I came very close to losing some dear friends that day and their determination to get back on their feet in such a short period of time has been nothing but beyond amazing even though I know the road hasn’t been easy.

Tout to town: “Pay up.”
Me: “How much?”
Tout to town: “150…oh wait…can you pay me 200?”
Me: “Here’s 150”
Tout to town: *thumbs up*
Me: “How much is this [not quite sure what kind of fruit/veggie I was pointing to but was feeling adventurous]?”
Vendor: “100”
Me: “Naw”
Vendor/Me: “80….*shake my head no* 70….*shake my head no* 60….*shake my head no and say that I just want to pay for my apples* 50!!”
Tout to village: “Pay up, 200”
Me: “Here’s 150”
Tout to village: “Oh okay, thanks! *thumbs up*”
Ugh, I hate bargaining… complicated when you don’t know how much things “should” cost.

*Giving stickers out to Class 4 for following rules*
Class 4 boy: *Looks at a Lisa Frank unicorn sticker* “Wow, that horse has wings”
Class 4 boy: *Looks a me hopefully* “Are there horses with wings in America?!?”

Congratulations to my cousin on graduating from high school! I guess now that none of us cousins are in high school that means we’re all officially old?!

Always having to shake strangers’ hands, people holding their hands out for money, and difficulty lipreading Kenyan accent means that sometimes I end up shaking people’s hands when they’re really asking for money…..then they get all irritated that I just gave them my hand and not money….sometimes it’s embarrassing but other times it’s amusing…

100 Days of Aural Rehab-Days 12-15

I forgot to take a weekly test yesterday even though I did do some aural rehab so I took it today.

Again, this is out of a closed set group of words.

Day 1:  60% (background noise:  rain)

Day 7:  48% (background noise:  girls moving into the dorms)

Day 8:  68% (background noise:  none)

Day 15:  62% (background noise:  A few random noisy kids every once in a while)

Basically, I’m struggling with being able to tell the difference between sounds like “t” and “d,” “p” and “b,” “c” and “k,” etc.  So if anyone wants to explain to me what exactly I should be listening for, that would be great!  🙂

There are 10 levels that the test covers and that you can practice your listening skills with using closed-set lists of words.

Level 1:  Suprasegments

Level 2:  Different syllable numbers

Level 3:  Different constants/vowels

Level 4:  Same first constant, different vowel

Level 5:  Inital manner

Level 6:  Final manner

Level 7:  Final voicing

Level 8:  Initial voicing

Level 9:  Initial place

Level 10:  Final place

I do pretty well (both on the test and practice) until about level 7 then it’s all straight downhill from there.  So I need to work on Levels 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Examples for Levels 7-10:

LEVEL 7:  lid, lit, wrote, road

LEVEL 8:  bony, pony, bill, pill

LEVEL 9:  noon, moon, kneel, meal

LEVEL 10:  bike, bite, rat, rack

If you notice, it’s almost like there are two groups of similar words in each set of 4 words.  For the most part I get the right “group.”  For example with the Level 8 words (bony, pony, bill, pill), if the spoken word is “bill” I would easily be able to tell you that it’s NOT “pony” or “bony” for sure and that it’s either “bill” or “pill” but then after that it’s kind of wild guessing… this program really does force a person to really listen to every little sound a word makes.

Letters from America

My Classes 4 and 5 students wrote letters to America before the first term was over.  They panicked about writing letters but eventually enjoyed it and wanted to write more letters.  I have had students from other classes ask when they can write letters to America.  I think I’m going to incorporate it into my lesson plans when I work with Classes 6, 7, and 8 on their composition skills.

We received letters from a 6th grade class in Missouri and a 4th grade class in Michigan.  I’m so glad that we received them before schools in the States let out for the summer.  My students’ eyes lit up when they realized some of the children who wrote letters had sent pictures of themselves as well.

In the past my students would just look at the letters looking to see if there are drawn pictures or they will look at the signature and ask if it’s a boy or girl.  The last time I shared letters with them I made lists summarizing all the letters (e.g. “I like to eat…….,”  “I like to play….”) that way my students could start picking out some key words.

I wasn’t sure how this round was going to go because I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare an actual lesson with the letters but I knew my students would flip over the pictures (they’re very visual).

I wrote some of the questions from the students’ letters on the blackboard and had them sign each word in English order (for vocabulary purposes) before repeating it again in KSL.  One question was “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I was trying to throw out ideas like “teacher,” etc.  I would say that less than half of my students knew what I meant (I tried wording it in different ways as well like “What do you want to do when you finish secondary school?” and “What do you want to do when you get a job?”  Only a couple of students truly seemed to know what I was trying to ask and the rest of the students just copied their answer.  The only answers I got was to be a bus driver or a motorcycle driver.  That is a very common answer at my school along with being a hairdresser especially since my school is in a village (and they’re good jobs within a village).  At some point I’m hoping to collect enough magazines to cut out pictures of different Africans (I only say this because if they see pictures of only “white Americans” then they will assume that Africans don’t do the same thing which is entirely wrong) working (e.g. nurse, driver, teacher, writer, typist, etc.) because again my students are very visual.  Then I want to make a fun activity to just plant the seed that “Hey, you can do whatever you want to do when you’re done with school” and “Whoa, yeah it’s important to stay in school.”

Anyways, today was AWESOME to see.  My students really struggle to read but they were trying so hard to read the letters and they were doing it with smiles on their faces.  They all were trying to get my attention at the same time either asking what things like “pizza” or “spelling” meant or they would point out words that they recognized (e.g. “cat,” “soccer/football,” etc.).  It was wonderful to see their confidence grow a bit.

Granted, we have long ways to go but I love when my students have so much fun learning that they don’t realize they’re learning.