Bliss + Resolutions Follow-Up

Just wanted to toot my own horn a bit in this post.

So, I had mentioned before that I’m not really a resolutions kind of girl.  I like to see what opportunities arise and then go after whatever come up.

However, my NY Resolutions for this year have been something that I had been aiming to achieve for awhile now.  I also knew that to make resolutions happen, they’re supposed to be short and very specific.  Not: “lose weight” or “spend less money”, but rather something you can track and actually make progress toward.  Anyway, that’s what I did with mine and so far so good!

Updates: I’m London-bound in March.  It’s a very short trip and one that I knew I really wanted to do before I got back home and essentially got tied down again.  I’ll be staying with friends the whole time so I’ll be saving massively on accommodation and I’ve already done the touristy stuff, so it’ll just be seeing friends mostly.  AND I found a great deal on a flight.  (It helps when you watch flight prices for months…)  SOOOOO yeah, pretty pumped.
Then back to the work life afterward and I’m 100% okay with that.

Also, this really isn’t anything to write home about, I guess, but one of my resolutions was to be able to do a handstand by the end of the year.  I’m not sure how realistic that is, but it seems do-able.  I actually need to edit that and make it “freestanding” handstand–that is, away from the wall. (Eeeee!!)
I tested it out last week at some point and it’s pretty difficult.  I’ve been using the wall for support, and have been practicing both yesterday and today.  So 2 for 2 then.  😀
I’m doing 3 sets of 30 seconds per day.  My hands are…about a foot and a half from the wall, but I’m able to support myself, so that’s pretty exciting.  Just gotta keep at it.

The reading 20 books resolution is…going…but at a turtle pace.  I’ve recently finished A Christmas Carol and have started on Throne of Glass, which is book 1 of a series.  Maybe I can knock out some more books on this book challenge on these international flights.

AND…I’ve registered and began part 1 of 3 of my Pediatric CPR/First-Aid course (the title is longer, but that’s all I can remember off-hand).  It’s a requirement for most pre-school or teaching jobs back home, plus a nifty life skill, so I’m excited to get that finished.
I’m doing part 1 online and then parts 2 and 3 have to be done with an instructor.  Those are the practical/exam portions.

Let’s see…I’ve got my resume updated and ready and have started selling off possessions.  I still have a lot of furniture though, so it hasn’t really hit yet.  It sort of comes in waves that I’m leaving.  It’s very bittersweet though.  I’m sad to leave the people I’ve met and my students (not looking forward to the last day with them…going to be a waterworks…), but I’m feeling very ready (or, as ready as I’ll ever be) and excited for this next chapter in my life to begin.

It also looks like I have an interview with a preschool back home as well.  I’ve been on their website and I’m so in love with what they’re doing at the school.  It looks like such a fun place for the kiddos, and I’m sure the adults too, ha.

Anyway, I’m just trying to take it a day at a time and to keep focused.  I’ve got all my to-do lists going in full-force and I feel like I’m keeping on schedule with everything, so yeah.  *exhale*

I just feel so…happy and content with where my life is going at the moment.  I was so worried for the longest time about adding in that trip to London honestly.  I kept second-guessing myself and wondering if I should be traveling so soon after returning home (two weeks after, actually), but now that it’s done, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m going to be able to see some friends I’ve met while in Korea but during my early years.  So, it’s been about 3 years since I’ve seen some of them, but we’ve kept in contact the whole time.
I was just so nervous that I’d return home, get my car and my job and not be able to save or break out of the routine and make the trip anytime soon.  Now, I just feel relief and excitement.
I’ll be home for Easter and the Fourth of July and just…bliss.

I’ve found peace among the madness that is going on around me.

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Valentine’s Day Approaches

As a single lady, I don’t really have any reasons to be super excited that Valentine’s Day is coming, but I do love it because holidays are always a fun thing to celebrate in a classroom.

I’m planning on turning Friday into a mini-party–still working out logistics–but I’m going to bake Funfetti cupcakes with pink icing and I want to make these cookies:

Yummy!  😀

And maybe some of these too–I could put together some cookie bags like I did for Christmas.  😀  We’ll see.

I also want to have them make Valentine’s cards for each other as it’s a cultural experience and it’s not something that’s done here.

Valentine’s Day in Korea is when the girls give chocolates/candy to the boys and a month later on March 14, White Day, the guys return the favor.  Apparently there’s also Black Day the following month (April 14) and that’s for the single people.

You’re supposed to go to the restaurants and order jjajjangmyeong, which is a cold, black bean and noodle dish.  You’re then essentially upping your chances to meet other single people in hopes that you won’t be single the next time it rolls around.

My goal with the treats and Valentine’s party is to make a fun party out of it.  I want them to be able to enjoy the holiday in another way.  I like opening their eyes to different things.
For example, a girl was reading a book about apple picking and there were yellow apples in the book and she thought it was funny.  In Korea, we have one type of red apples and SOMETIMES green apples (and the world goes crazy when they are here), but there aren’t any yellow apples.  I explained to the girl that there are yellow apples too and she thought I was joking, but I pulled up an American grocery store on Google and she was amazed by all the apples.  Not just one kind of red…but a lot of red, green and yes, yellow apples.
I try to also include other countries into the mix also.  I don’t want it to be all about America, but also about other places that I’ve experienced.  I like to pass on as many cultural things as possible to open their minds a bit.

With Valentine’s Day, I want them to know that it can be celebrated any way you want, but especially including your firends and family into the mixture.  It’s not only for boyfriends/girlfriends.  I hear so much about being “lonely”/”don’t want to be lonely”/”Aren’t you lonely” from the older people (my age) that it’d be nice to diffuse some of that before it gets going.

Let’s see…oh!  We watched Matilda the past two movie days (Only about 30 minutes each time)–and usually I don’t do two movies in a row because there are so many out there, but they LOVED Matilda, so we continued on a bit more with it.  (One of my girls in the class found the book in our library and I encouraged her to take it home and try it out.  It’s well above her reading level but she loved the movie and she seemed excited to have it, especially knowing that there wasn’t a rush and she wouldn’t have a test over it.
Ah yes, the point…if you’ve seen the movie or read the book you know there’s a horrible principal called Miss Trunchbull, and later in the movie it lets on that she’s superstitious and afraid of spooky/ghosty things.
This lead to a segway about superstition. A massive word for them, but I talked about it anyway.  We talked about good luck and bad luck and what things people are superstitious about in Korea.  They didn’t know the word superstitious in Korean (I translated it, but they don’t know it yet in their language, but they knew bad luck).  We also talked about how superstitions (or things that are bad luck) can be different in each country.
For example, in Korea, the number 4 is considered to be bad luck, as is writing someone’s name in red ink (symbolizes death),  I talked about some that we have in the US (walking under ladders, #13, black cats) and helped them understand why Miss Trunchbull was freaking out when there was a black cat near her in the movie.

Whew.  A bit long-winded tonight.
We had the movie day on Friday, but I made a note to talk with them about it because they seemed confused as to why this big strong lady was afraid of cats.  One boy just thought she didn’t like cats…but it was a good learning experience.

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More on Korean superstitions herehere and here!!
The first link is a good one and talks about ‘fan death’.  😛

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Anyway, I’m eagerly awaiting for a package from my mom with the two Titanic books that I ordered off Amazon for my Titanic-obsessed student.  I want to see his face when he gets them so bad.  It’s going to be beautiful.

Valentine’s Day is going to be snack-time (cupcakes and cookies–bagged candy can be pricey and I love baking, so baked goods it is!) and they’re going to make Valentine’s for each other and their parents.
We have two hours…so that should be enough time…right?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! *does the money dance*

(whatever that looks like) haha

I’ve never had enough to know what the money dance looks like, but ahhhhhh!

I got paid last week and then sent half my check home as usual, then yesterday I noticed I had another paycheck’s worth in my account.  I thought it had been a mistake so I texted my boss saying that I thought he made a mistake, but apparently it’s my bonus for finishing my first contract.  I completely forgot about it–here you get severance pay (one month’s pay) when you complete your contract.

Anyway, I feel so light and free and I want to run up and down the street yelling and jumping!  I can pay off my credit card!!! 😀 😀  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  😀 😀  *dance dance*

Life So Far in 2015 (and bits about my trip home)

I’m back in Korea and settling back into daily life here.  I’m actually pretty happy because I’m doing a nice job of kicking jet lag in the teeth.  Thankfully in most part due to work, heh.  The first night I slept about 4 hours even though I was exhausted…(1 car trip to the airport in LA, 3 flights, an overnight sleep in the airport, a 2.5 hour bus ride from the airport and a taxi ride to my house). Yeahhhh…that makes for a very sleepy me.
Work has also been keeping me busy, especially that first day.  The first day I not only was on 4 hours of sleep, but we started our new term (new students, updating the classroom, clearing out stuff from any old students) and catching myself up from what the sub did while I was away.  We also just got our student rosters on the first day of classes (typical hagwon-style).  Then my classes, which are back-to-back.  So, by the end, I was completely wiped out.  I finish now around 8:30, but I stayed til 9:30 entering grades from the tests they took while I was away and updating my classroom for the new classes/students.

Yesterday was much better. I don’t mind staying late if it’s going to help make things run more smoothly for the following days.  Also, I bought two maps off Amazon while I was in the US–one world map and one map of the US.  They’re actually pretty big, which I was expecting to an extent, but I was still a bit shocked at the size when I opened them up.  I’m really happy with them now that they have a place in the room though.  I also took down our Christmas decorations yesterday.
Combined with doing laundry, unpacking, making meals and meeting a friend for brunch…my past two days have been crazy.  It’s also rough with new students because you begin again with everything, so I realized I took for granted how much my kids had learned and I’m working on teaching our routine to my newest bunch in my beginner class.  It’s a good opportunity to tweak things, but also exhausting when you need to explain everything again. My last bunch were (are–just in my next level class) fairly self-sufficient and now I’m going to be working on those skills with the new kiddos.

I’ve heard that jet lag goes away more quickly when you travel in one direction rather than the other, and it looks like it might be east–>west.  🙂  I was kept pretty busy at home too and I didn’t adjust any faster, I was just exhausted.  I know you’re supposed to ease yourself back into the time change–keep active and adjust your lifestyle to the new one–but go slowly at first…but life doesn’t always allow for that.  I’m just keeping an eye out for signs of illness now.

Anyway, so home was great…maybe a bit *too* great because coming back was a bit rough.  My mom took off work for most of my time at home and she helped me a ton by taking me to and from various places and treating me to meals at my favorite places.  I ate tons of great food, went shopping (and spent too much money…oops…), reunited with friends and got to spend my first Christmas at home since my last in 2011.
I bought my second cousin (we need a better term for that–this one sounds awkward) Jordan a personalized book from iseeme.com.  They have so many cute books there and the prices are reasonable.  Since I’ve ordered two (another for my friend’s nephew here in Korea) I get all sorts of discount codes in my email too.  My Korean friend said that she could tell it was a “Western-style” book because it encouraged kids to be whatever they wanted, and not only a doctor or scientist.

This one here.
The books are super cute and great quality.  If you’re poking around the site and debating ordering, I’m 100% satisfied with the books and will use them again if the need arises.  🙂

Next I went to Los Angeles to visit some friends and be a tourist 🙂  I’ve never been to the west coast, so that was pretty cool too.  I had a day flight, so I got to see some of the scenery from down below and the deserts were pretty awesome…Nevada, I’m guessing.  Maybe I’ll have to look at that giant map in my classroom, heh.
I spent 5 days there and saw most of the main touristy things there…and maybe fell a bit in love with California…
  
Walk of Fame                                                       Hollywood Sign!

Cool shopping center in Hollywood–This is one of the best locations to view the Hollywood sign (at least from where I saw anyway).  They have a hiking trail sort of by it, but you can’t get to the actual sign itself (saves it from vandalism etc.)

Venice Beach–It was a rainy and oddly chilly day in December, so there weren’t many people out.  The beach has a bike trail which I thought was awesome.  It’d be nice to be able to run/bike etc on the beach without having the sand flying in your face (and minus all the extra effort of running on sand).

Introduced to the gloriousness of deep-fried Oreos…


Venice Beach

Santa Monica Pier

I also went to In-and-Out, which everyone recommended I do while on the West Coast.  Overall another great (and delicious) trip.  For New Years, I went to my host-friend’s friend’s place and we had a party there.  It was basically a big bbq.  Anyway, that was cool too.

I thiiiink I’m all updated…I still need to upload those journal pics from my Japan trip, but my journal is at the gym and I don’t start up again there until Monday (wanted to get re-acclimated here and not need to worry about missing gym time on top of everything else).
I’ll take updated classroom pics when I get there today now that everything is all caught up.

Random Junk on My Mind:
**I got a new laptop battery and my laptop now lasts hours instead of 30 minutes when unplugged from the wall (hurrah!)
**Wishing my brain would stop with the decorating ideas for my apartment–trying to save for post-Korea (and maybe Budapest…)
**Signed up for ultimate frisbee again in the spring
**Munch-a-Saurus is back in my life (my hamster)
**PENPAL LETTERS made it to the US…finally…after like a month, sheesh.  That’s longer than a care package.  Such a huge relief though.  I think I’m still waiting on one more envelope (1 of 4), but all the letters are pretty much finished by the sounds of it and headed back this way.  We just changed classes around, so it could get interesting, but still relieved that they’ve made it over.

**Also must finish report cards by Friday…already ready for the weekend, but thankfully it’s Wednesday…
**I brought back a ton of stuff for my students too–Pixie Stix, Warheads (sour candy), maps, Mr. Sketch scented markers (which they’re amazed by… 🙂 ), Crayola crayons and colored pencils (Crayola wax crayons are about $10/box here) and a Magnetic Poetry kit.  I got my kit when it was on sale for Christmas though 🙂  We just put it out yesterday and it might be a bit hard, but better than the ABC letters that were up previously.  I’ll give them a few months and report back 🙂

*BREAKFAST IDEAS?–Any chefs out there?  We have like 4 kinds of cereal here and I’m getting burnt out with my oatmeal.  Help 😦  I’ve been doing combinations of fruit, yogurt and oatmeal, but looking for something else.  I was thinking of doing more eggs but they’re always too brown and dry and that puts me off making them.  (Plus, more mess to clean up.)  Fruit is expensive here btw.
Thinking about these breakfast cups...easy, healthy, quick and minimal mess.

Another doozy of a post.

Smooth Sailing!

My students were in beast-mode today…some finished their workbooks on their first book today, which was great. Others are getting close and everyone should hopefully be finished by Friday.  Minus my oldest student…he’s still powering through his workbook though.  Giving a good effort and we had some 1-1 time today, so that was good.

To clarify,the students have to read a book (depends on their grade level, not ability level) and answer the chapter questions (2 pages for each with pictures) at the back of the book.  Then, we’ll work on a packet that sort-of goes with their book as well.  The questions are directly related and the packet is 4-ish pages that is basically like “write 4 words that you learned from this book and draw a picture.”  It’s just a general packet that goes with most non-fiction books.  From what I’ve seen anyway.
That is part of a competition (the packet).  The questions are more time-consuming, and I think some other teachers are skipping the questions and just going straight to the packets.  I’m not sure, but that’s what it sounded like.
Anyway, I must be that tough teacher then, lol.  The one I always dreaded because I’m making them do the questions.  I think it’s better because it checks their reading and it should make the packets easier.  Which we should get to on Friday.  Woot!  Go! Go!

Thennnn, next week we have another book (same structure) for fiction next week.  These books seem easier (vocabulary and size) so they should be able to push through them a bit quicker than the books from this week.  There also seem to be less questions and there are more of the ‘circle the correct answer’ variety.
The non-fiction questions have them writing their own answers, doing wordsearch puzzles, circling the correct answer, matching…etc.  It’s really good, just time consuming.

Anyway, I’m thinking we should be finished by mid next week with everything and I’m thrilled about it.
I’m going to stick in their regular class workbooks as well, so we can get caught up there too.

Our term is ending the last week in January (when the sub is here) and we’ll start a new term when I get back on Monday, so everything that can be finished should essentially be finished by that date.  IE: should be finished by next Friday so I don’t push anything time-critical onto the sub’s shoulders.  She’ll only have a 4-day week as well, so I don’t want it to be stressful for her, or for me to have to worry about things getting finished on time.

So, it looks like that is on track as well.  After today, I can’t even tell you how good it feels to have everything coming together.  I only have 4 kids in my last class and they’re all nearly finished.  One girl was finished and 2 of the boys were doing really well towards the end of class.  One had like 2 chapters left (what I have been assigning for homework) and another had 3 but seemed eager to finish.  Then, I have the oldest student…which…has a ways to go.   The first three should finish up tomorrow and the oldest is MWF, so we’ll see how things went for him when he’s back on Friday.
I think we should be able to knock out the packet tomorrow and then be completely finished with the non-fiction book by Friday.  Take our weekly test and perform their powerpoint presentations (also going on in the background these days) on Friday, finish their regular class workbook tomorrow and Friday.  Bada-bing, bada-boom!  If all goes according to plan, everything will be finished on Friday.
Ahhhh, feeling good.

My plan for class for next Friday (my last day before vacation) is to do what I mentioned a few weeks (days?) ago.  I’m going to have a holiday-cookie baking “contest” with the first two classes.  Give them each a recipe and put them into teams then have them work to make their cookies.  So, they’ll be baking cookies, take their weekly spelling test and have their Friday movie.  Sounds like a fun last day before break 😀 I’m hoping to send some cookies home with them (likely to be eaten on the bus or on the stairs going down to the bus…) with a recipe book and Christmas music CD (no lyrics or fancy bag this time, just a CD).  The older kids will help me use up a crap-ton of graham crackers that I have in my pantry, and we’ll make gingerbread houses.

Sooooo yeah, busy busy!  But I like that it feels that we’re getting a lot done.  It feels very productive and I loooove it.  I’m a huge project-y person and I love the feeling when a project is finished.
I’m also waiting to hear back from the teachers in the US to see if they’ve received the penpal letters yet…they should be there by now…If I don’t hear anything by Friday then I’ll send a message over to check-in.

WHEW.

Anyway, ramble ramble.

Rearranged the reading area because my books were taken down to the library
BEFORE
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AFTER (as of Tuesday)
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Moved the bookshelf over and now it’s used for extra classroom supplies (tissues, glue sticks, paper, plates, colored pencils, etc.)  and the seating area is bigger.  I sent the puzzle down to the library and the magnet board with ABC magnets is back in action.  I also got 2 more pillows from the dollar store (6 now).  I honestly pay more in time than in money.  It’s only a bit per month that I put in, but I think the kids enjoy our room so it makes it worth it.
I’m planning on doing some sort of canopy/tent thing in this area after break as well.  For the…children? 😀 haha

Goodnight!

Rest? What Is This ‘Rest’ You Speak Of?

Busy busy, as ever.  It’s not necessarily bad, but I’m feeling it.

So let’s see…just finished the penpal letters, and all the students at our school have been working on a composition of sorts on the topic “My Hero”.  (If I hear the word “Hero” again after this week, my head is going to burst and fizzle.)
All of the students wrote on the topic about 2 weeks back, but some were going to be entered into a contest so they were a bit longer than the others (100 words to be exact).  We had the other students write it, but it didn’t have to be as long.

Anyway, fast forward to this week…we learned that they now want everyone to enter the contest.  The thing is, some students took their papers home (ie: are now lost forever) and/or they weren’t long enough, so they (me) have to write/stretch it out to make it 100 words. Even the youngest kids.  Combined with the fact that some kids are MWF kids and some have missed days this week because they had a big test at their regular school.  So trying to get everyone finished has been a pain in the neck.
Alllllso, we have another contest that the kids are doing.  There are two reading books for the kids that include chapter comprehension worksheets.  There are 3 different non-fiction books for kids in grades 1-2, grades 3-4 and 5-6, and 3 more books but with fiction.  So, each kid does 2 books, 2 worksheets and then a workbook for each book as well.
I actually really like the books as they’re interesting and good reads for the kids, but it gets tough when you have kids from different grade levels in one class.
Combined again with the fact that kids miss class periodically throughout the week and/or are MWF kids.
I’m hoping that a lot of my kids aren’t absent tomorrow so I can finish the rest of that ‘My Hero’ business and move fully onto the new competition next week.

I’m thinking of putting them into groups (or solo, in some cases) and just rotating around and such…but with different spelling lists (for the different books) too…oi.
The ‘My Hero’ needs to be all finished by all students by next Wednesday and all of the book challenge/competition thing needs to be finished by the end of the month (or 12.19 for me).

I have it all fairly organized, but it just feels chaotic to me with all of these books going on…and my desk is a hot mess.  I also feel bad for the kids because of all of the workbooks and stuff we’re throwing at them this month.

Anyway, still teaching the different holidays (it’s short, so it’s not that big of a deal) and tomorrow/today/Friday, I’m planning on getting pizza for the first two classes.  My classes are small and I just got paid yesterday so I don’t mind.
I just want to reward them (and myself) for getting through a tough/busy-as-hell week.
We’re going to work our butts off the first part of class to finish as much as possible from this week and then have our movie Friday with pizza.  Sounds good to me 🙂
The first class (youngest kiddos) were super excited when I mentioned pizza for tomorrow, haha.
I didn’t say anything to the second class about it, but I mentioned it a few weeks (2 months? 1 month?) ago that they could get it if they start doing better on turning in their homework and working harder in class…and they’ve been doing so.  Plus…this week.  It would be a nice surprise for them too.
I was working with one kid (a few actually, but one in particular from that class) about not asking for your reward.  He was asking about the pizza nearly every day and saying “Teacher, Are we being good today?”  “Teacher, how is our homework today?”  “Teacher, can we get pizza today?”
I’ve nearly got him to stop asking about it so I think it’d be another good time to surprise them.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd, I found another girl to be a sub (the first one fell through because of visa issues…not sure if I mentioned it), and she’s supposed to be coming by to meet front-desk-lady tomorrow evening.  She has a lot of teaching experience, so I think it should be good.  I haven’t met her in person, but I think it should be alright.  I’ll see her tomorrow and hopefully that goes well.

i also want to get all these competition things out of the way so when the sub comes I’ll have the kids back on their regular schedule and it’s less chaotic for her.  She can just pop in and teach and not have to worry about deadlines or who has finished what.

Movies planned for tomorrow:
Youngest kids: ‘Barney and the Backyard Gang–Waiting For Santa’  (I remember this clear as day from my childhood :D)
Next two classes: ‘Elf’

Movie time is also rest-time for me.  I’m planning to cancel their spelling test for tomorrow as well.  We’ve had a lot of students missing days this week because of their big test in elementary school on Wednesday and sick kids, so it’ll be a nice rest for everyone.

3 of my 5 kids in my last class (super tiny class, I know) are sick.  2 are coughing almost constantly and 1 lost his voice yesterday because of all the coughing.  I might get some cough drops and store them in my room…

**Oh, AND we only have 1 copy of each of the 6 books and workbooks, so I have to copy all the books and the coordinating workbook for each student.  Depending on their grade level.

Oh annnnnd I have one kindergarten student in my first class that can’t read at the same level the 1st/2nd grade kids are able to read at, much less do the workbook or book questions.

And, time to pass out.  2 weeks.  2 weeks.