Monday, December 21, 2009

Snapshots

Life's been pretty relaxed lately. School is the same as last year, so the stress I experienced a year ago with Festival and Christmas and Halloween and homesickness had been reduced by at least half, simply by virtue of familiarity.

There have been, however, some fun photos I've been able to snap lately, and wanted to share them with you!

First, the disturbing discovery I made outside the construction zone right next to my building... What are they unearthing over there?!


This is the whole crew at Thanksgiving dinner (at a Canadian bar in Seoul - the same one as last year)

It was just as delicious as before!

In our restroom (which is a public bathroom in the hallway) at school, these signs were recently posted - in both male and female restrooms:

Really? No fishing?!? What am I supposed to do during my lunch break?!

Speaking of strange signs, I think something must be lost in translation when it comes to the opposite of fast food:

This is a new restaurant here in Jukjeon, and I haven't gone in yet, for fear that it'll take hours!

Finally, at one of my favorite bars here, owned by the wildest Korean woman I know, was the ultimate Christmas tree topper:

I think I'll bring this tradition back to the US :)

Love you all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Very Talented Friend

My friend Nancy, a great photographer, took time today to take some portraits of me (in the freezing December weather). She made me feel so beautiful, so I wanted to share her amazing talent with you. For now, if you click on "Spotlight" on this site, you can see some of what we did today. It was a lot of fun!

Love you all!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Post-Korea

Ok, we need to move that video down so my silly face isn't the first thing people see here :)

It's taken months and many changes, but I finally have my plan for post-Korea! (Well, at least through September of 2010). So I thought I'd share it with you, so you guys could share in my excitement!

I'll be leaving Korea around February 28th. Ideally, I'd like to go somewhere tropical around here for a few days, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen. So at the earliest, I'll be home March 1, and the latest will be March 7.

On March 21, I fly to Guatemala for 4 weeks to study Spanish in La Antigua. I'm really looking forward to getting passably fluent in a second language! I come back home on April 17.

Around April 26 or so, I will fly to Miami to see my uncle and his family. Then on May 2 we will all fly to the Netherlands for my cousin's wedding! We return to Miami on May 17, so I should be back home around the 19th.

THEN I WILL BE HOME FOR A FEW MONTHS! I'll probably find some waitstaff job to get me by (Unless anyone at that point knows of some great temp work I could do!). My sister is getting married June 11, so that'll be the excitement for that month!

On August 24 I will fly to Peru for 4 weeks to get my TEFL/TESOL certification (teaching English to foreign learners). That program is over September 22, at which point I will hopefully find a job teaching in South America!

Ok, there you have it! I'm so excited for all of these plans I've finally made! I'm also happy to have something to look forward to when I leave here, as I'm really starting to get sad about leaving this life and these friends and my kids. But I think I've planned some decent distractions :)

Love you all!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Last year they sang for you, this year they decided they wanted to talk to you... but most of them still started to sing... :)

Love you!

video

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween came late this year, which made it awfully awkward to walk to school in full escaped convict get-up, including scary face paint... but it was still a great time! This year my classroom theme was Spiders, so here are some of my decorations:

My "Momma Spider"


My baby spiders - this web took about two hours to make. I can now sympathize with actual spiders :)


My classroom door - another labor of love :)


Our bulletin board:


And our giant black widow with scary-face eyes:


Here's our Jack-O-Lantern, the same one of the earlier post about cutting my hand:


There was a decoration contest, but we don't know the results yet... I'm not really counting on winning. At all. :)

I was in the haunted house again this year. I think we broke last year's record of crying... There were at least two kids in each class that cried, and quite a few kids wouldn't even go through. I call that a win.

My kids, of course, were adorable.

The boys (Philip, Sun Q, Andrew, Andy):


Sun Q's costume was probably the best one in the whole school. He even did his nails :)


The girls (Becky, Laura, Sally, Evelyn, Eileen):


Our whole class, scary and swine-flu-free!


And all of the LCI teachers:


As we did last year, we had a song contest as well. If you remember, last year's was a joke, and we bombed it. This year... well, see for yourself: (please forgive the talking at the beginning - We were ready to go but Evelyn HAD to tell me her story, which was cute...then we got interrupted right at the end because it was time for the judging)

video

And I found out at the end of the day... FIRST PLACE!!! My kids still don't know, but they're gonna flip when they find out. They were serious about practicing this year, and it paid off!

All in all, Halloween, even when celebrated four days late, is still my favorite holiday!

Though this post is ridiculously photo-filled, I had to include these two bonus pictures. First is the shirt Philip was wearing under his Taekwondo uniform the other day:


And today was yearbook photo day for the 7-year-olds who will be moving out of LCI in February. The kids all dressed up today (We didn't know about it, and Tyler and I were sent home to change, haha) and I just had to get a photo of Ben's class... I had to have a permanent image of Eric (one of my favorites, I teach his older brother) in his bright yellow bowtie and cummerbund!!!


Love you all! Leave comments!

The Philippines

Gosh, this was a great decision. The weather was beautiful, the food was incredible, and the company was fantastic. It was exactly the mini-break I needed to bust my fall funk!

The front of my room:


Our view for every amazing meal we ate there:


The resort, as seen from this big concrete peninsula they constructed:


My awesome travel buddies, Ben and Emily (It's always a bit of a risk, being the third wheel to a married couple on an amazing vacation, but I couldn't have asked for better company!)


Me and Em, relaxed and happy:


This maybe added to the "relaxed" part:


And the whole vacation cost me way less than you'd imagine. If you get to the Philippines and need a great (cheap!) place to stay, check out the Cebu Marine Beach Resort... they were fantastic!

ps - I stopped taking pictures after the first night, and Emily hasn't posted theirs on facebook yet, so you may get a "part 2" once she decides to get them up there!

Love you all!

Catching up

What a wild couple of weeks it's been! The last time I updated, we were about to head off for Tricia's big surprise. Well, unfortunately, she surprised us. With Swine Flu...

...or not. Tricia came to work on Friday feeling horrible and running a temperature of 101.8. They decided this was high enough to send her to the hospital to be checked out (our school is extremely concerned about swine flu - it's been popping up quite a bit in Korea). After arriving at the hospital in the morning, she was told she had to wait until 1:30 to even be checked for the Flu. When that time finally rolled around, the doctor decided to not even test her, because she had so many symptoms (cough and fever. That was it). He told her she had H1N1, gave her some Tamiflu, and sent her on her way.

She recovered quite quickly, so we're still not convinced it was The Pig Bug, but the school didn't want her to return until Tuesday, just in case. So we didn't get to go apple picking (which was her suprise) and when she came back Tuesday she had a wicked bad case of cabin fever and just wanted to work. Well, she got one day.

Also on Tuesday, I was pulled out of class around 11:15. Rachel told me that all my Kinders' parents were gathering in the first floor and were coming up to take their kids home. Apparently Philip was diagnosed with Swine Flu and the parents were extremely concerned and wanted to test and quarantine their kids (understandable, after Rachel also explained that lately quite a few children have been dying in Korea from this unmanageable virus). So my Kindergarten was shutting down until the following Monday. My first concern was that my kids were all going to miss Halloween on Friday, and I was so heartbroken for them!

Just after Kindergarten on Tuesday, we had a teachers' meeting in the office. Rachel told us that since the parents found out at least one LCI student had swine flu, they were yanking their kids out in droves. She said the best option for LCI was to just shut down the school until Monday. It was a shock, but probably the best business decision for them. The most reassuring part was that we would have Halloween the next Wednesday, so no students had to miss it!

After school I realized, "Holy Cow! A 5-day weekend!" Ben, Emily2 and I, after much discussion, reserved tickets and a beach resort in the Philippines, to leave the next day :) We spent this surprise vacation basking in the sun on a beautiful white sand beach... it was fantastic. We called it our "voluntary quarantine."

On our return Monday, we got the update that the Korean Government is discussing shutting down all schools for at least a week. Rachel told us that the schools are doing their best to prevent this, but she wanted us to be prepared, just in case. I'm really impressed with how forthcoming she's been with us about everything, considering before now the business culture at LCI has been one of secrecy and misinformation.

Tuesday night we stayed late to get the school ready for Halloween. Wednesday was a blast, and multiple children cried in the haunted house again! So far the school is still open, and I have one of the only Kindergarten classes where everyone is showing up every day. I'm going to call that a good sign :)

Ok, this has ran long - picture posts to follow of the Philippines and Halloween!

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

...but I have to quickly add...

...this funny story from today:

We were carving pumpkins for Halloween after lunch today with the Kinders. Actually, I was carving the pumpkin, and sternly reminding them to stay far away from me since I had a sharp knife... They were fascinated and kept telling me how strong I was, and that I needed to be careful...

Of course, I sliced my palm open with the blade.

After making sure that I was genuinely OK, my boys started pretend-sobbing about my injury. They were crying, "Why, Teacher?? You cut your hand!! I think Teacher's not OK!!" One boy in particular was hilarious:

In his most hysterical sob-voice, he wailed "TEEEEEEECHEERRRR!!!! Every day I say to you 'BE CAREFUL TEACHER! STAY AWAY FROM KNIVES TEACHER!' and every day you don't listen! Now you cut your hand teacher! Why you do that when I say 'BE CAREFUL' Teacher???"

I almost cut myself again because I was laughing so hard. I love these kids!

Love you all!

So much to say!

...but no time to say it!

Suffice it to say, it's been a wild couple of weeks. Swine flu has reared it's ugly head and is keeping us all in suspense as to the status of our jobs... Halloween got canceled and rescheduled, and I took an extremely last minute trip to the Philippines!

More details soon, I promise!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Everland Halloween Festival

Last year I was dying to go to Everland's Halloween celebration, but couldn't get anyone interested enough. This year, things are different. Two awesome ladies were just as excited as me to go experience all the Spook-tacular Magic of October in Everland!

It was as silly and magical and fantastic as I had expected! Of course, nothing was scary. It was just cuddly pumpkins and cute ghosts. And it was great.



The Dish and I, getting eaten by a giant pumpkin:


My awesome dates: Tricia and Emily (3):


It was a little too cool for a water ride, so Korean ingenuity kicked in - they covered each seat with these big velcro vinyl sheets!


Plus, Harry Potter even made an appearance!


In other news, we're still getting all geared up for Halloween in Kindergarten. The kids keep telling me that they've got these terrifying costumes planned so they can scare ME in the Haunted House (Eileen even told Tyler Teacher today that she was going to hide in the corner and trip him when he jumps out to scare her, hahaha).

Speaking of children saying awesome things, my kids constantly surprise me. Sun Q asked me the other day, "Teacher! Do you know what love is? Love is a very dangerous thing!" Also, while they were picking their seats on the mat for story time, three of the girls were fighting over who got to sit next to Sun Q. He looked up at me with this blushing grin and said, "I guess they all love me!" and shrugged his shoulders :)

And while we were writing about our favorite activities, Eileen asked me, "Teacher, how do you spell 'Servant of Evil'?" I almost fell over... A 7-year-old wants to spell Servant of Evil?! I asked her why she would want to spell that, and she said her cousin in Canada told her that was the name of the scary movie they liked... I told her "Let's just write 'scary movies.'"

That's the update for now. Please leave comments. I'm begging for them, people! And more updates soon - this weekend is The Dish's big surprise!!

Love you all!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall...again...

I can't believe it's been over a year since I moved to Korea. It's certainly gone by too fast, and it's sort of blowing my mind that I only have about 4 months left...

It's fall in Korea, again... I will definitely miss how beautifully and gradually the seasons change here. We had Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) recently, so the kids wore their hanbok again:

The Class:


The Girls:


The Boys:


The girls showed me how they bow to their elders on Chuseok in return for money (I didn't have any to give them, haha)


And my most favorite student finally came back from being in Canada for nearly 3 months! I missed Eileen SO MUCH!


If you're bored, go check out last October's Chuseok post and look at how much they've changed in a year... they're getting so big!

We're also gearing up for Halloween again. You may remember last year's epic failure of a song... This year we're going for gold. We're singing a song called "Creeping Creeping" (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping") and they've mastered singing in a 4 part round, complete with choreography! Cross your fingers for us!

Also, with the change in weather came a deep-seated ache for football. Especially with the Favre drama. Lo and behold, I was able to watch the first battle between Favre's Vikings and Rodgers' Packers...IN A BAR! ON A BIG SCREEN TV! It felt like I was back in the States!





Other than that, life's been pretty routine here. I've just been having good fun with great friends:










And cleaning up after filthy kids :)


We've got some great things planned for the rest of October, though, so hopefully by November 1 I'll have some more blogging to do :) Next weekend we're going to Everland for their big Halloween extravaganza, then the weekend after we have a big surprise planned for The Dish (because we love her). Then it'll be Halloween, and I can promise great pictures from that day!

Love you all!

ps - if I'm not posting something you think I should be paying more attention to, let me know. Now that the novelty's worn off, I'm kind of at a loss!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kenny G

In my smartest class, there's a student named Kenny. His English is amazing, we discuss Harry Potter quite often, and he's a funny guy. For whatever reason, his name on the attendance sheet is actually Kenny G. I think this is because his last name begins with the Korean letter that could be K or G, and there was already another Kenny at the school.

Anyways, we sometimes call him Kenny G, just for fun.

I thought he knew about the "real" Kenny G already. Funny enough, he didn't. As I learned when we got our latest issue of Kids' Times, and the last article was a huge two-page, full color spread about Mr. Saxophone himself. Of course, Kenny was impressed enough to mention it again today.

"Teacher! I can't believe I'm named after the greatet sexicon player ever!"

I don't know what a sexicon player is, but I imagine it's something all boys aspire to be. Usually his English is impeccable, but we all make mistakes... and his was HILARIOUS!

Speaking of English, my friend Paul, another teacher here who also speaks Korean, was walking home last night, when a group of extremely soju-drunk Koreans walked out of a bar in front of him. He heard one of the men say to the women (in Korean) "Oh look, a foreigner. I speak English well!"

As Paul approached the man said, "Hello!" Paul replied, "Hello." After a pause, the man said enthusiastically, "Cafe Latte!"

Apparently his English IS great! What else could Paul do but say right back, "Cafe Latte!"

Love you all!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My kids are sweet... Mostly...

My kindergarten class and I have become extremely close. We're like a little family. We know each other's quirks and pet peeves and how to irritate one another and how to make each other laugh, cry, or pull out hair. But mostly we love each other :)

Last Friday, we were coloring after lunch. My kids had rocked it out all week, and we had nothing to do but enjoy some music and coloring time (ps - they're particularly fond of Ghostbusters and Yellow Submarine). As we were coloring, Andy said, "I think Teacher is beautiful."

So sweet. Who doesn't love a spontaneous compliment?

Not to be out-done, the others started chiming in with "Teacher is an angel," and "Teacher is a beautiful angel," and "Teacher is a beautiful princess angel!" (Can you see why I love this job?!?!)

So I was basking in the warmth of the love of 8 six-year-olds when I got into the office after Kindergarten, when Sally popped her head in the west door of the teacher's room and shouted, "Teacher is beautiful!" Some of my co-workers were in the office and I could feel their envy when they all said, "Awwwww..."

10 seconds later, Sally opened the east door of the office and this time I heard her shout:

"JUST KIDDING!"

I think it's true that each of us has had quite an effect on our students, and you can see each Teacher's personality reflected in the atmosphere and behavior of their class... I just regret that I'm so damn funny! :)

Love you all!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bali Photos

I've become a terrible blogger. Have some pictures.



























Hope you enjoyed them!
Love you all!