Preparations and Stuff…and Titles Are No Fun

First off, I got all but one of the “My Hero” papers finished on Friday…wahoo!  Feeling prettty fantastic.
Second, tomorrow should be pretty interesting as well.  I usually have 3 different spelling lists for the 3 different classes that I teach, but this week I’m going to give them out based on their grade level (and corresponding reading books) that they’re working on.
On Mondays we talk about our new spelling words, so some kids will be having different lists.  I think I’ll just group them up though, so shouldn’t be too bad…just a bit crazy at first.

Third, I bought some plane/travel clothes for my flight-a-palooza coming up.  I have a fleece jacket that is basically a white soft, fuzzy blanket made into a jacket.  (Good work designers, I approve.)  I also got this skirt/leggings combo that’s super popular over here…which is also lined with soft fabric (not fleece…but warm) inside.  Great for layers.  Paired with some fuzzy wool socks and UGG-esque boots.  I’m going to be one comfy lady. 🙂
It’s also hard not to be in a good mood when your jacket feels like your bed on a Saturday morning.  haha 🙂

I also have Christmas gifts either bought or at least planned for for 98% of everyone on my list.  So…feeling good.

Oh and T-13 days.

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December Plans

So, I have three teaching weeks in December before break and I wanted to write out my holiday plans for the kids.
First off, Christmas is my favvvvvvorite holiday so I’m hoping to spread some holiday cheer with them.

I’ve nearly finished a Powerpoint presentation on the three main winter holidays in the Western world, or at least as far as I’m aware.  I’m going to break up the Powerpoint and talk about Hanukkah the first week, Christmas the second week and Kwanzaa the third week.  That’s the order they fall in this year, so it works out nicely.  Christmas decorations have recently started to become more of a thing where I’m living, so I’m hoping to tell them about the spirit of giving and family, and not only Santa and presents.  I don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, but I’m hoping to at least make them aware of the different holidays that are going on this time of year.  Lots of Googling going on these days.
Note: if you celebrate Kwanzaa and want to make sure I include something important, feel free to send me a message!  I’m just going off what I find online.

I’m also super grateful that my classes are fairly flexible and that the parents seem to be ok with whatever I do with the kids.
I’m thinking about having a cookie-making contest with my 2 youngest classes and making a gingerbread house from graham crackers (or cookies) with the last/oldest class.  I only have so many graham crackers, and the last class is a bit older and smaller, so it might be a bit more manageable.
I just thought up the cookie-making contest the other day and I think it would be good fun.  I only have 8-9 kids in my first two classes (yay for the after-school academies!), so I’d like to make copies of the directions, teach basic words and then put them into teams.  They could try and make the same recipe and see how they turn out at the end.  Maybe do this the day before break.
1. Learning a new skill
2. Everyone loves holiday cookies!
3. All in English
4. Kids love competition 🙂

Anyway, those are my current plans 🙂

Oooooh!!  Maybe I could even put together a little holiday cookie recipe book!  How fun!

Ya know, sometimes I wish I could shut my brain off and just go through life like a normal person…

I was also thinking of doing a small holiday craft related to the “holiday of the week” so they can get more into it.  I’ve seen a few easy Hanukkah-related activities already and they seem fairly simple.

Anyway…my favorite time of year is upon us and I’m stuffed to the brim from my Thanksgiving dinner.  Life is good.  Just need to find another sub for my class (last one was rejected because apparently she has the wrong sort of visa…oi.)…aside from that stress, things are good.  🙂

Also, why am I thinking of more pumpkin pie when I’m still full?

Easy cookie recipes for future reference (for me):
http://www.food.com/recipe/eloises-easy-sugar-cookies-82945

http://www.food.com/recipe/soft-snickerdoodle-cookies-97496

Mayyybe these depending on the students (allergy)
http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/classic-peanut-butter-blossom-cookies/a3563f6e-96b0-443f-ae0a-53cef4be6db6

I’d also looooove to do these because they’re amazing:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-crinkles-ii/

But I can’t find a recipe at the moment that doesn’t involve putting them into the fridge for x amount of hours…
Anyway, fun (and delicious) times await 😀

Lots of Love :)

I just wanted to share some of the things my kiddos have made for me in the past few weeks 🙂

love1
love2
love3

love4

The first one was just the front and back of a sheet of paper.  I was making something for a display before class and they took the scrap and wrote on it in “secret” and then gave it to me when they were finished.  🙂  They did it in pencil so it’s pretty light; you might have to click on them to view them properly.
Another girl gave me a bracelet too 😀  It’s made out of those plastic beads that link together.  Cute cute cute!

The last two are from a student that had his last day on Friday.  He’s moving to a new city and gave me the present at the end of class.  I wasn’t expecting anything and it was so sweet.  I loved the letter and I have it hanging on my refrigerator.  🙂

Anyway, I’ve been keeping busy over here.  The penpal letters are finished (minus one student that left his at home and keeps forgetting it…which is delaying me sending the package..oi.) and I’m going to send them off on Monday.
I have 3 envelopes going out.  One for the younger students to a group of kids in Illinois and one to my second cousin (I think that’s the proper name for her) who is the same age as my students.  She’s going to be paired up with one of my kiddos.  Then I’ll mail out the second one on Tuesday I guess because of that last kid.  If he doesn’t bring his letter on Monday, then I’ll have him write a new one.  Can’t have 50 other students waiting for one kid to get organized.

Also, I’m going to a Thanksgiving party in just a bit.  It’s a bit delayed, but as Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday here, our group moved it to the weekend so we all have time and can meet up properly for it instead of having it super late at night.

Annnd lastly, I put up my Christmas decorations yesterday 😀

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Christmas at Home…

I’m sitting here in my apartment in my bed on Christmas Eve and I wanted to make a special post.
I’ve been asked a few times by (mainly) Koreans as to how we celebrate Christmas at home in America.  Christmas seems to be sort of comparable (as far as size and importance) as maybe St. Patrick’s Day back home.
Some people get into it, and there’s more “stuff” available this year than there was last year, but they just don’t do the commercialism aspect of it like we do.  It’s also a romantic holiday here (ie: Valentine’s Day).  It’s thought of to be a bit sad if you’re without a “somebody” on Christmas.  Mostly department stores and coffee shops are the ones that get into it.

I wanted to start off with my own memories of Christmas at home and then sort of wrap it up with the differences.  Just a reminder, but these are my own personal observations.  They aren’t meant to offend anyone or…I don’t know…start some sort of internet war.  Just what I’ve noticed here in my city and with my (nearly) 2 years of experience here.

Christmas has always been my absolute favorite holiday.  I love the sense of warmth that it usually (minus Black Friday) brings during the middle of the frigid winter.  I love seeing the lights in the trees and drinking hot chocolates…and just the anticipation that it brings.
I grew up in a split-level house (stairs at the main entrance, with a downstairs and an upstairs) and I remember that we always put up the Christmas tree together on the day (or weekend) after Thanksgiving.  It was a tradition and the whole family was there together.
My mom usually baked a lot of holiday cookies (especially sugar cookies with the sprinkles on top).  We had one of the artificial trees and we put it up in the living room upstairs.  Every member in the family had a red and white stocking with their name written on it in cursive in colored pipe cleaner.  My brother was the exception as he had a character reindeer stocking that opened up at the mouth that let Santa put in the gifts.
We kept the big box of holiday decorations in the garage behind a wooden door.  We’d usually have a fire going in the fireplace downstairs with a Christmas CD in the CD player.  We’d drag the box up the stairs and put the tree up (faster as we got older and wanted to be done with it)…tree then lights and garland and finally ornaments.  Both my brother and myself have (my mom saved them) several handmade ornaments that we made in school.  My mom also bought us each new ornaments each year at the craft shows that she liked going to.
My dad would hang the lights on the outside of the house and my mom, my brother and I would put the lights in the front bushes in front of the house.

Stores and shops were all decked out in their red, green, silver and gold and advertised sales for this and that.  Christmas parties are HUGE and frequent.  Secret Santa parties and Tacky Christmas Sweater parties on top of family celebrations.

I loved riding in the car and going to see all the Christmas light displays in each of the neighborhoods.  It was sort of a competition to see who could deck out their house the most for Christmas.  I love seeing the lights in contrast with the white snow and dark, wintry skies.

We’d also go to a light display called Santa’s Magical Kingdom
http://www.santasmagicalkingdom.com/explore-kingdom-home.html
about 20-30 minutes from our house.  We would all pile in the car and drive out there on a night in December.  They had visits with Santa and ice skating (if I remember correctly) too.

We also visited Santa at our local mall each year.  We got to sit on his lap and tell him what we wanted for Christmas.  Then an “elf” would take your picture and you’d be on your way.  There was a full North Pole creation at each mall…and a massive line (although I notice that more now than I did when I was a kid).

We celebrated Christmas throughout most of December at school and did Christmas activities and performances.  I took dance and we always had a winter recital.
We had a week off for Christmas and New Years during elementary school, two weeks (pretty sure…) for middle school and high school.  In university, we had a month off after our final exams.
I remember they’d also have horse-drawn carriage rides downtown for all the couples (or families) and you’d get to go on a small tour of downtown St. Louis in a carriage (driver and all).  The top was open and they’d give you a warm blanket so you wouldn’t freeze in the winter weather.–(we usually did this when we did the Santa’s Magical Kingdom thing)

I remember also sitting on the couch in our downstairs watching Christmas movies with my family and eating Christmas cookies with milk.  You also always remembered to put out Christmas cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, we’d put out the cookies and head to bed early. Later, they had the “Santa Tracker” on the news on TV, too.  I remember that both my brother and I would wake up super early on Christmas morning…whoever woke up first would go wake up the other one.  We’d run down the hall to the living room and examine the presents and then head downstairs to get our stockings.  The stockings always had smaller gifts, like candy, chocolates or small stuffed animals.
Our parents would usually be up (because of us..ha) or we’d go wake them and urge them to hurry.  We weren’t allowed to open presents unless they were both there.
I remember how LONG they seemed to take to get ready.  My dad always wanted to get the camera and then my mom would joke about how we needed to eat breakfast first.
We’d open presents together as a family and then eat a special breakfast, usually French Toast, scrambled eggs and bacon.  (or pancakes).
After breakfast, we’d get ready for church and attend the Christmas service.  We’d come home and my mom would start on a dish to bring to my Grandma’s house for Christmas.  If it was snowing, my dad would likely be outside shoveling the driveway or playing with us and our new toys.
In our family, all the aunts, uncles and cousins all get together at my Grandma’s house for Christmas (or another family member).  Each family brings a dish so it isn’t all left for the host family to whip up themselves.
We’d visit my other Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas Eve and eat Christmas dinner there and open presents as well.  My family from Chicago would usually come down as well and we’d celebrate together.

On Christmas Day, we’d head over to my Grandma’s around 5pm and socialize then have a massive dinner together.  As a kid we’d play with our new toys and talk about what we got.  We might watch a Christmas movie in her front room or play outside.  As an adult, I got to have wine and play Risk, a board game (what now seems to be a tradition).  We would get everyone together and take a big family picture as well.

We’d keep the tree up til early til mid-January and then start taking down all the Christmas decorations before we got back to school.

//I was going to talk in more detail about Christmas in Korea, but it’s going to have to wait.  This post is long enough.  🙂
Christmas in Korea is coming soon.