Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

It's less than a week until LCI's Christmas celebration, and we've been preparing like mad!

Apparently, on Christmas Eve (our last day of classes before vacation), the kids will be visited by not only Santa Claus, but also a magician!! I'm so excited!! ... I mean... THE KIDS are so excited!! Also, I've been asked to help emcee the Christmas festival, so it'll be fun to sort of have a front row seat to all the thrills of Christmas!

I also got my bulletin board all ready for Christmas - it's a smorgasbord of snowflakes and snowmen and stockings and children's faces... And I love it :)

Here's a closeup of some of the silly snowflake faces:

And some of my older classes have been helping me make snowflakes for the window:

But the most important part of our Christmas festivities is the song contest. Many of you will remember the spooky ghost song we performed for Halloween... Well, the kids didn't bring their "A" game, and we didn't win any prizes. They were disappointed, and I've been trying to turn that disappointment into motivation to do better this time around.

It's been a fight on many fronts (and not neccessarily with the kids), but we've decided on "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." I'm pretty sure they sing it "Good timings we bring to you and your cats" but it sounds almost right :)

Without further adieu, here's Emily Teacher's 6-1 class spreading some Christmas Cheer:

You gotta love 'em. I do. They're my little monkeys.

Love you all!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Feeling Better

The doctor said I should be back at 100% in the next three days, so woo hoo! And I'm certainly feeling more alive than before.

I want to thank all my friends and family for leaving comments, and letting me know how much you all care. It's been great reading them, and really warms my heart to know I've got so many people who take the three seconds to post a little "Hi Emily" comment on the blog!

Oh... wait...

:) Love you all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm Sick :(

Some of you may remember the Milk School post of long ago, where I mentioned that I just wasn't germ-phobic anymore... Well, maybe I should be.

Tuesday, mid-morning, I was suddenly hit with a horrible sore throat and body aches. I stuck it out, and came home and crashed (after laying on my hot floor and shivering violently... my guess was fever). Wednesday was no better, so I asked my supervisor to make me a doctor's appointment. Over lunch Wednesday I went to an ENT specialist just up the road. He told me I had a fever, so my floor-lying was justified :) He also said I had pharyngitis (I think that's what he said), which is, according to Wikipedia, a sore throat. Hmm. That's what I came in for.

Anyhow, he said it was "pretty serious" and he prescribed a drug cocktail and full rest. Of course, full rest meant I went back to work and finished Kindergarten and taught my first two elementary classes. Steve was kind enough to take over my third class, so I could come home and fully rest.

I woke up this morning feeling WAY worse than before. The throat pain has spread to my ears, and no amount of Aleve is alleviating the pain. So I tried to call in to work. Unfortunately, today was a parents meeting at the school. My supervisor said they didn't have enough coordinators to cover my class in the morning. I found out later she meant "The parents will be walking around, and we want to make sure there's a white face in the classroom." So after crying to my mom on the phone, I went to work.

I guess I must look exactly how I feel, because as soon as I walked into the classroom Ryan said "Teacher, what?!?!" And I responded "What, what?" To which he said "Um Teacher NO beautiful..." That's the broken English way of saying HOLY CRAP YOU LOOK LIKE HELL!

Anyways, they let me leave at lunchtime, thank God. So now it's off to bed until tomorrow morning.

Thanks for letting me rant! Love you all!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Love My Kinders' Parents

So every week we send home weekly reports to the Kindergarteners' parents telling them about how fabulous their child was that week, and ostensibly keeping them updated on their learning and behavior. Most of the parents write notes back, generally about the weather and how it is important to "keep away from catching cold, especially because homesickness is much harder when you are ill."

Today, I got two of the best parent responses yet.

First, Ryan's mother wrote about Ryan's "My Book Report" homework. This is a notebook in which the child has to pick a sentence from a book they read, write the sentence and draw a little illustration about it. Ryan's drawings aren't the best, but the kid is trying.

His mother wrote (and this is a loose paraphrasing): "Ryan doesn't do the drawing very well. But every time he expects compliment. So then I must become a liar. But I don't think the pictures in his "My Book Report" are very good. Do you agree? :) "

I about died laughing at this!!!

Then, we have Sun Q. He is my ornery little S**T who should be in trouble all the time, but he's just so darn funny. This is the kid who purposely folded the front cover of his workbook back and wrote some other student's name, just to trick me.

Recently, he handed me this folded up note, and very sweetly said "I love you Teacher." I fully expected to open the note to find a drawing of me as a princess, or some little sweet note (as the girls often tend to give me). However, I found as I tried to unfold it that the little monkey had glued it shut!!! It was too funny, and I had to write a note about it in his Weekly Report (especially since I think his mother has a good sense of humor).

She wrote back to me "I asked Sun Q why he give the note glued shut - he just laugh and say it was all his idea. I guess he have same funny as me. I hope it did not hurt you too bad!" and she drew a little funny face.

No, Sun Q's mom. I wasn't hurt. Rather, I was thrilled to have more blog-fodder!

Love you all!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's snowing!

...and it's beautiful!

Cole and I went for our weekly Sunday Ice Cream Dinner and as we were walking it began to snow. Just little flakes at first, but they quickly became huge cotton-balls falling all around us. It was gorgeous.

I thought about catching them on my tongue, then remembered that pollution in Seoul is a wee bit higher than Kansas. So it probably wouldn't have been the healthiest thing to do :)

In any case, I hope it sticks.

Love you all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving in Korea

It seems like I'm always posting about holidays the month after... Which seems odd, especially since I'm living in the future. But I actually have an excuse this time - I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving until the Saturday after.

Last Saturday there was a big Thanksgiving buffet at a Canadian bar in Gangnam (in Seoul). It ended up being pretty good, even though they kept running out of mashed potatoes. But I got all the other basics: turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

This is Angie and I celebrating the pie:

Angie, Catherine, and I - all grateful that only God-fearing Christians celebrate Thanksgiving:

This is our assigned "Thanksgiving Family"

They even played the horrific Cowboys/Seahawks game from Thanksgiving day!

Not gonna lie - as much as I hate the Cowboys and was disgusted by the game, it felt AMAZING to be watching football again!

The only drawback to Thanksgiving in Korea (besides not celebrating with my family) was that I missed out on the regular "post-holiday reunion" that I usually have with my best friends at Old Chicago. Well, they let me know I was missed, and that I was with them in spirit (and on paper) -

If you look closely, there's an exact likeness of me on that notebook paper. They are artists and scholars!

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

These Kids Belong in a Museum!

... because they're so darn well-behaved.

In yet another example of Korean kids not being CHILDREN, we took them on a field trip to a history museum. It seems that everything must be inappropriately educational here (as a testament to the value of education here, check out this story in the Wall Street Journal about how almost all of Seoul was shut down for college entrance exam day recently).

I didn't get to go through the museum with them, as I was pulled aside to help some other teachers as we assisted 130 five-year-olds with making antique-type prints, so I'm still not sure what the museum was about... but I'm sure it was great!

Here's my little kiddies looking bored before they even got to go into the museum:

To make the prints, we first spread black ink all over a metal image (I sure did get a few splatters on my jeans)

Then you place the paper, and beat it with a stuffed sock:

After all that excitement, my kids had to sit on the floor for what I think was about 45 minutes... doing nothing... But I was really impressed with how well-behaved they were! They each ended up with 23 stickers for the day for being so good (a typical good day is about 13 stickers). I love my little mini-adults!

Also, on Sunday I had the opportunity to go to my first wedding here! One of our supervisors (and one of my favorite Koreans) Katie got married this weekend... It was certainly a bit different than what I'm used to, especially the fact that the whole thing from start of the ceremony to end of the reception (really, just lunch after the wedding) took only about 2 hours! It was a good time, though, and she looked beautiful!

That's it for now. It's been a little slow around here. Rick's coming to visit on December 20th, and we'll be going to Taiwan the day after Christmas, so I've been too excited for that to be exciting now :)

Oh, and I may be going to a "traditional" Thanksgiving buffet in Seoul on Saturday!! Cross your fingers that there's no kimchi in the stuffing!!

Love you all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Last night was awesome. I saw Billy Joel live at Olympic Park in Seoul. Wow. He put on a hell of a show, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to see such an amazing singer and songwriter.

This sign identified the show as a "Super Concert"

Me, Catherine, and Angie - all super-pumped to be here!

The sold-out show before Billy came on:

He opened with Angry Young Man... I filmed a bit of this, then gave it up because I wanted to focus on the AWESOMENESS ON THE STAGE!

Billy rocking out:

He played Piano Man as one of his encore songs. What was awesome was that, for this song, they had the words up on the giant screens - it was like a massive noraebang!

After the show, Catherine and Angie and I decided we were going to get backstage and meet him. At a concert in the States, this would have been nearly impossible due to security. In Korea, they are extremely accomodating.

We ended up at a back door of the stadium, where Catherine just said "Umm, Billy Joel?" No one asked for ticket stubs, wristbands, or any proof that we belonged there. We were directed to a VIP lounge where a bunch of well-dressed Koreans were milling about, and given free scones, muffins, and juice. We were hoping this was maybe some kind of meet and greet, but alas, never got to see Billy. However, we felt his presence in the scones :)

Love you all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Steve's Birthday - For Cindi :)

We celebrated Steve's 25th birthday last weekend... For a quarter-of-a-century, he still has that youthful glow, hahaha.

I wanted to post some pictures so Cindi (Steve's mom) could see that we're taking good care of her boy:

Steve and his good friend Cole at dinner (we went to an awesome galbi place):

Then we hit up a makgeolli house - Steve's favorite Korean beverage:

Here's the whole group out celebrating the fact that Steve is alive:

The next day, Steve was a little partied-out:

Happy Birthday, man... and I hope you enjoy the pics, Cindi!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Momma!!!!

I love you. Soooooo much... I would not be the incredible, beautiful, amazing woman I am today (hahaha) without your influence, genes, and guidance. You are the strongest woman I know, and I hope you're around at least 31 more years (that's your age, right? 31?? wink wink)...

My kinders were excited that it's your birthday, so they wanted to give you a special treat:

I love you, Momma. Thank you for everything you are, were, and always will be. I couldn't have done anything without you.

ps - The proper spelling of your name was the special bonus question on all of my elementary spelling tests today... For the record, no one got it right... Kind of like in America! (but I think they got closer than Americans... Most kids spelled it "Jalane" or "Jalain"... One girl said "So we're smarter than America?!?!" hahahha)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pepero Day - and fun pictures

Today was Pepero Day in Korea. It's pretty much the most blatantly commercial holiday I've ever heard of. Pepero is a candy, often a sort of chocolate-dipped pretzel or a waffle-cookie-tube filled with chocolate. Because 11/11 resembles five Pepero sticks, November eleventh is National Pepero Day.

I've basically been eating chocolate all day long!

Here's a photo of my PK-12 class (my smartest class) enjoying their Peperos:

All of the kids were on a crazy sugar-buzz all day.

Also, yesterday in my IC-3 class, while I was signing homework sheets, my pen ran out of ink. I said "Oh no! My pen is dying!" When I came back to class after the break, this is what I found on my wall:

Needless to say, it took quite a while for me to stop laughing... I even had the other teachers come in, and everyone got a kick out of it. Shows how important spacing is when writing :) (and how you can be a 25 year old woman in charge of small children, and still have an adolescent sense of humor!)

Finally, Friday was Sun Q's birthday. Another huge birthday feast, so I'll spare you more of the same pictures, but I had to share this one. This was during the "cut the cake with Teacher" time, and Sun Q and I were conspiring to just eat the whole thing and not share it with everyone. Love this pic:

Love you all! Keep the comments coming... there are a few people that I'm wondering if they still read the blog... (UNCLE CJ!...AHEM...)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Halloween Pictures - And my 50th Blog Post!!

Ok, yes, Halloween is over. But I just had to share the awesome pictures from school. The kids were so cute in their costumes!

And the Haunted House was an incredible success. We had at least 20 kindergarteners cry, and at least 15 elementary kids cry. It may sound dark and demented, but we counted that as positive feedback :)

We send weekly reports home with the kinders, and sometimes their parents write back to us. Many parents were telling stories about how their kids couldn't sleep on Friday because they were still so scared! My students are awesome though - their parents said they were scared, but after Emily Teacher explained how it was fake, they were ok. One mother said, "Eileen told me she was frightened, but after you held her in your arms she was calm." So sweet!

And now, without further adieu:

Our ghost decorations:

Ryan thought Emily Teacher's zombie groan was hilarous:

Sun Q and his mother made his snail costume together - I loved it!

The boys:

The girls:

This may have been part of the reason the Haunted House was so scary...

Brett was actually going for kids' jugulars with this mask!

Danielle's awesome Bride of Frankenstein hair:

The lobby at LCI was all decked out:

Song contest:

We didn't win the song contest or the classroom decorating contest, but I did win $40 for best costume! We went out to Itaewon after school for Halloween, and no fewer than 10 Koreans asked if they could take my picture. Guess I'm a pretty believable Zombie Pirate :)

Me and Kung Fu Panda Stacy:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Change has come to America!"

We won!!!

By "we" I mean the USA. Our entire teaching staff today was hooked to minute by minute updates of the race... and the moment Danielle said "CNN has called it for Obama!!!" I got goosebumps... This country is primed for the kind of change Obama's been proposing for years, and thank God we now have the right person in a position to push for that...

I stood in a blizzard for 3 hours to hear Barack Obama speak in El Dorado, Kansas. I cold-called voters during the primaries to get out caucus and voting information. I caucused during yet another blizzard to show my support for and belief in this man. And yet, I still didn't fully realize how AFFECTED I would be by the announcement that Barack Obama will be President. I think the right word is elated... maybe ecstatic... euphoric? Yes. All of these.

Of course, there was some celebrating after work...

Please raise your glasses with us to toast a new chapter in America's history... Here's to you, Barack Obama... And to you, Voting Public... You have been heard.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This life I live...

As foreign as this country is, I'm becoming awfully accustomed to the way I live here. I'm in a suburb of Seoul, and yet I can walk to the next town over in only 20 minutes (along a river, no less). My friends all live very near me, so it's easy to spend an evening at someone else's house.

Just tonight, I realized I was out of water. I walked down to the end of my block and got a bottle of water, a fresh-baked loaf of walnut bread, and a little honey castella (sweet loaf) for breakfast, all for under $5 (and about 15 minutes round trip).

Everything I need is 10 minutes or less from my front door. Bakeries, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, work, friends, stickers for my students - all of these things are just a walk away.

There's a food stand on my way home from work where we sometimes get what we've affectionately nicknamed "Dollar Dinner." You get your choice of three fried items (squid, shrimp, rice, mandu, potato, etc) with a spicy rice-ball sauce called ddokboki on top. It's a decent little meal, and only costs a buck. The lady there recognizes us already, and remembers that I'm the white kid who likes to go light on the spicy sauce, and that Stacy likes hers served up normally. It's charming to be remembered.

Granted, the major attractions and nightlife of Seoul take a little trek on either the bus or the subway, but I think that keeps me out of trouble. :) (ok, out of too much trouble)

At home I lived very near a shopping area called New Market Square, that has restaurants, shops, and a Wal-Mart (what else do you need, right?). But I think the fact that there was no one else out walking made it seem so much farther. Here, you see children running around until at least 10:00 at night, and families are just finishing their dinner around then.

Yes, I think I'm becoming quite fond of this way of life...

Love you all!

ps - Halloween update soon. It was a smashing success, and I have the photos to prove it :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A day in the life...

WARNING: This blog contains video and images of unedited adorable-ness which may not be suitable for those whose biological clocks are too tightly wound.

I thought, since Halloween is approaching and when it's over, so is the fun (haha), that I'd give you all a little glimpse into what I do in Kindergarten every day (for now).

First, we do Feelings. I ask each child how they are feeling today, and you've seen some of the silly responses. Then, we do the date, weather, and show-and-tell. This takes 30-40 minutes. Then they get a bathroom break and playtime.

Laura is always doing something creative - she's got an incredible mind:

Sally generally does whatever her friends are doing, but today she was trying to draw my camera exactly right:

And Andrew plays with the blocks:

During playtime I do homework check. Yes, 5-year-olds have homework. About three pages a night. After playtime, we work out of their books:

As a reward for being forced to sit still and do bookwork, they get 15 minutes in playgym. Playgym is awesome! It's got a trampoline, slide, tunnels, etc etc.

And so you can have an idea what playgym sounds like:

After playgym, it's back to their seats for more "don't act like a 5-year-old" time:

And now, they have to learn songs for Halloween. So shortly before lunch time we practice one:
First, a pic of the scary ghost masks they made -

Here's our song "Skin and Bones" (be sure to listen for the trademark Korean Whine from two children towards the end)

After lunch, we either do art, science, educational games, or math, depending on the day. Then we practice their other Halloween song before going home:

And there you have it. Kindergarten. It's a blast!

Love you all!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On display...

I teach children. Small children. Sometimes I forget just how young they are, because for the most part they are brilliant. Amazing. Little sponges who thirstily suck up any bit of knowledge I can provide. But they are children. And children don't have the same sense of boundaries as adults...

I've realized, in my kindergarten class, that my body is barely mine anymore. At any given point in a day, I've got children poking me, prodding me, hugging me, holding my hand, kissing me, tugging on me... and even, at times, grabbing my chest. The funniest was when they started beating on my butt and saying "Teacher, drum!" They were so proud of themselves. But this is childhood, they're just in it for the fun.

They're so honest too. Once, I was reading a story that gave instructions to find certain things: "Find something blue" or "Find something soft." Of course, at "Find something big" three or four of them pointed to my thighs and rear and said "Emily Teacher, this big!" HA!

The honesty doesn't stop in kindergarten. Yesterday, during an adjective-activity where my older elementary class had to write a story using "huge" and "heavy" I was informed that I was huge and heavy. But only my bottom half, not my top. They said it's because I'm American, and American's are fat because they eat too much meat and fat.

Sometimes they're not so nice. Today one of my elementary kids said "Emily Teacher is dung." Apparently he didn't realize that it was the same in English as it is in Korean. He was pretty surprised when he found himself out in the hallway.

My favorite, though, is Angela. For some reason she has fixated on my stomach. Not because she thinks it's big or huge or heavy (she's made that clear), but because it makes her laugh to say "Emily Teacher stomach." She uses it all the time. "How are you feeling today, Angela?" "I'm feeling.... {here she gets this mildly evil grin}...Emily Teacher's stomach!!!" Once she was hungry...for Emily Teacher's stomach. Whenever she has stickers to give me, they get stuck on my stomach. We're learning about toys now, and her favorite toy is Emily Teacher's stomach. It's hilarious, and only a little frightening :)

Love you all!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

First Halloween Art Project

The kids and I have finished our first decoration for Halloween - and it turned out awesome!!

That's our Ghostly Graveyard. Pretty cool, eh?

This is also my first posted photo from my new camera! Last weekend we went to the TechnoMart in Seoul. It's basically a gadget-head's Heaven. Each floor is dedicated to a different electronic something-or-other, and you can negotiate for better prices! I must say, Stacy and I make quite a team... We talked the price down, and got an extra battery and leather carrying case for my new green camera!

I also just heard that Billy Joel is coming to Korea... I'm gonna see the Piano Man in Seoul- How awesome is that?!?! (which is affordable now that it looks like I won't be doing any traveling over Christmas, unless anyone wants to meet me in Taiwan... any takers?)

Sorry it's been so long since I posted - it's just been kinda boring around here!

Love you all!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yes, I'm white.

Stacy (via her friend back home) pointed me to this very astute blog called "Stuff White People Like."

I've read all 111 posts, and am now fully convinced that yes, I am white. Very white. Even more white than I previously realized.

Please friends. Especially if you think you're special and none of it will apply to you, read this blog.

You're White.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Birthdays and Halloween and Aliens

We had another birthday today. You guys are probably getting sick of seeing birthday photos, but I'm like a proud momma when it comes to these kids, so here:

Laura, in all her birthday cuteness:

The "Cut the first slice with the teacher" tradition:

You'll notice I've gotten a haircut here, but still need to get some color action before the blonde highlights start at my ears

And of course, the silly group photo:

Pay attention to a couple of things going on in this photo;

First, the food. I'm happy to report we're back to huge birthday spreads, this one including fried chicken, melon-on-a-stick, the damned Capri Sun, rice cakes, rice balls, strawberry cake from Tous Les Jours, and of course, cookies and treat boxes with crayons, coloring books, and stickers for the kids to take home.

Second, my children are goofy. As if their faces weren't evidence enough, take a look at the whiteboard behind us. Every day, I ask their feelings. Under the "A" in happy you'll see I had students feeling Christmas, Halloween, Seal-Elephant, Double-U ("W"), and Kathleen said she was feeling Laura, so I had to try to replicate Laura's hairdo on a smileyface. I love these kids.

It was appropriate that Laura was feeling Halloween today, given that my favorite holiday is fast approaching. LCI has a big celebration every year, and we just recieved our assignments for H-DAY. I was one of the lucky 4 that will be responsible for the haunted house in the playgym (think McDonald's PlayPlace). Steve, Tyler, Brett and I have already been brainstorming how best to make sure we scare the pee out of these little monsters. My goal is that every child leave in tears... . muwahahahahahahhahaha!!!!

And finally - I recieved my Alien Registration Card today!!! I'm officially an Alien. I think these means I can get free college now, hahaha. And also, I have to set up my first Korean bank account, which apparently takes about an hour, so us newbies will be fighting over precious bank time during our lunch hours this week.

That's it for now. Love reading everyone's comments. It's amazing to see how many people read this blog - we've got 'em from as far north as Wisconsin (Hi Cindi!), covering the Midwest (Hi almost everyone else!), and clear down to Florida (Hi Uncle Audie and Jonas and Aunt Adrianna!)! Not to mention another teacher near my town here posted a comment about stumbling across my blog - so it's a networking tool now too!

Love you all!