Friday, May 31, 2013

It's that time of year...

It's the time of year when many of us start to leave for the summer, but some won't be coming back. I have a feeling that this time of year is going to get harder and harder the more time we're here. This year, Cade and I have spent a lot of our free time with Abby and Ezra. About once every week or two, we have gone to a park or somewhere else to play.

Abby is from Tennessee, and her husband is one of the other high school English teachers. She's another one of those people, like me, that just needs to get out of the house every day. It doesn't really matter where I go, as long as I get out!

That's the kind of friend I need because we can text each other at 8:00 in the morning and make plans for a couple of hours later. That's especially important when I have the kind of schedule I have. It's hard for others to keep track of my every-other-day schedule, not surprisingly.

Ezra turned two in October, so there is an age gap, but since he is the only other boy at home with mom, they were the perfect match for us this year. They're also one of the only other young families in our neighborhood and they have a car, so they could pick us, which was really nice during the winter months.

It was entertaining to watch these two together. Cade was always so sweet with Ezra. Since Ezra is at that age where he doesn't like to share, Cade was one of the few kids that Ezra felt comfortable with because he knew Cade wouldn't steal his toys from him. In fact, Cade didn't even care when Ezra stole toys from him.

This was one of our last play dates together. Last week we went up to Namsan to have a picnic and let the kids play for a while.

We'd been watching the boys from a distance, and Abby knew that Ezra was dangerously close to stepping into this little creek while they were "fishing." They were so cute, and so busy.

We were not surprised when we finally found him in the creek--in his socks and tennis shoes!

Abby was just happy that a boy who has grown up in this city was willing to jump in the creek and explore!

Next week is our last play date with this family, and Cade and I will be so sad to say goodbye to them. We have been blessed with great friends here, and that makes it so hard to say goodbye!

A week from today, we'll be back in the States, but there is an amazing amount of work yet to do! It's hard to believe that somehow it will all get done because at this point, it doesn't seem possible...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bridges and Bubbles

I was totally blown away by the news about the bridge in Mt. Vernon yesterday. It was a bit surreal at first. Suddenly I started seeing Facebook posts that people were safe. That they'd crossed the bridge ten minutes before it had fallen. That no one they knew had been hurt. That my family was safe.

I don't often open Facebook at school, and when I do it's just for a minute. I didn't really have time to be on it on Friday, either, but for some reason I did and these were the posts I found. Then people started sharing links to the very small amount of information that the news had at the time. I was shocked to hear that only two vehicles went in.

In fact, because there were so few, I had assumed that it was one of the smaller bridges--the one on the west side of Mt. Vernon. Clearly, I wasn't really focused on what I was reading. That whole "teaching a class and being surrounded by 25 teenagers" will do that to you. Finally, when I got home last night and was really reading the news, I figured out which bridge it was. It really is a miracle that no one died in such a disaster.

I also can't imagine the disaster that traffic is going to be around there for the next few weeks and months. Sure, the locals know the back roads, but soon everyone will be on the back roads that we expect to be clear country roads. Even the traffic that is re-routed through Conway will be miserable. We'll be praying for all of those dealing with this mess, and that things get cleared out a bit in the next two weeks before we get home!

This has been a kind of a tough week around here--in more ways than one. I've had a few new experiences--mostly ones that I haven't wanted. And then, of course, there's the stretching myself too thin. Having to be in too many places at once. Needing to get more done than is physically possible.

The biggest stretch this week has been dental work. Knowing what it feels like to have a tooth pulled was not an experience I needed. Especially when I have so many other things on my mind.

Every time the dentist or hygienist left me for a moment in the chair, I was checking emails and working on school-related tasks on my phone. Not a good feeling when half your face is numb and you're feeling loopy.

I finally had to have one of my wisdom teeth pulled out because of a cavity. That combined with an hour of filing down a tooth for a crown made for a miserable trip to the dentist. And a miserable several days afterward, eating only soft foods that are neither cold nor hot. Nothing better than not being able to eat smoothies, milkshakes, or hot soup when all you can have is soft food!

Thankfully, so far life with a car has been going well. We haven't gotten lost yet--not that we've strayed too far from home, and I'm even sort of starting to get the hang of driving here, though I don't think I'll ever stop being surprised by some of the things local drivers pull. Last night, I was waiting to turn left and the car to my right turned left in front of me and the car to my left turned right in front of me. Crazy.

This is Eric and Kennedy's last normal week of school. I only one more day of class left and then I give my exams, so I have two half days left, too. I finished grading one set of tests this week, and I have one set of exams left to grade.

It's time to start thinking about packing, clearing out the refrigerator and freezer, and planning for our trip home. We're so excited!

These pictures are from two weeks ago when it wasn't regularly over 80 degrees yet. Kennedy had gotten some bubbles at the International Bazaar, and she couldn't wait to go blow them at the park. So, it was a good opportunity to continue practicing shooting in Manual.

We're hoping that you've had a week without dental work and collapsing bridges!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

At the Park

As I continue my challenge of shooting manual, I am taking more pictures. And while it is still quite challenging for me (in other words, I'm really slow!), I am getting better.

Now that the weather is so nice every day, it's much easier to get outside to the park and take pictures, too.

The other day, Cade asked to go to the park "by Daddy's baseball field."

Thankfully, I understood his logic and realized that the park actually isn't that far away (it takes an hour by bus and subway to get to his games). It's just on the other side of the War Memorial.

It's not a bad walk, but it was pretty warm, and I knew he'd be tired by the time we got there, so we took the bus.

It wasn't too busy, which was nice. There was a Dutch family there for awhile, as well as a Korean family. Cade just ran around with whoever he could find. 

Yesterday when we were at a different park, there were a lot of Korean kids playing. He jumped right in with them--making "salads" in little plastic cups with all of the other kids. It cracks me up the way he can fit right in, in spite of the language barrier.

He's also working hard on pumping, so he spends a lot of time on the swings.

Thankfully, most of my papers are easy to take to the park, so I can get something done while he plays.

 Just a few more weeks of this before we're headed back to the States to spend every day at the park without any grading!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Settling In

We finally did it. Today we bought a car. We left the kids with a sitter and took an hour long subway trip to meet a car broker that came recommended by many of our co-workers.

He showed us a car. I said no. He said, "I'll show you a few more cars, but you'll come back to this one." He was right. We came back to it.

So, we got ourselves a little car. A twelve year old Kia Sephia. The kids are so excited!

They couldn't wait to go for a ride in it. And, I'll be honest, I think our biggest feat today was making it home after buying the car. Then we successfully made it to Kim's Club and back--where it turns out they don't have booster seats...

I guess after two years here, we're finally starting to settle in!

Monday, May 13, 2013

International Bazaar '13

The countdown has seriously begun around here for me. I have now planned every classroom day until we leave, as well as every home day until we leave. Basically, it's a whole lot of exam prep and grading. So, don't be too surprised if I'm even more quiet than normal over the next couple of weeks. Though, to be honest, it is really hard to stay focused during these last few weeks, too. The weather is beautiful--a high of 80 today, we are SO excited to get back to the States, and SO excited for school to be out!

This past Saturday was the International Bazaar at school. After two days of rain, it was beautiful out on Saturday...maybe even a little too warm! Eric was only there for a couple of hours...long enough to play a silly game with one of the clubs. He had to try to speak in an Irish accent, so that she could guess what accent he was using.

There was quite an assortment of food. Eric had food from Braii Republic. I sampled some Kenyan and Brazilian, but inevitably ended up with my favorite, Turkish. The kids had good 'ole American pizza, but at least it supported one of my students' clubs. Afterwards, they were excited to have popsicles, while I had the world's most amazing French croissant.

I knew I wouldn't have a very good vantage point once the parade actually started, so instead I took this picture of the kids lined before the Parade of Nations began. More than 38 countries were represented. The kids were so cute. My kids wore their (two year old) American flag shirts (Kennedy insisted), but they didn't want to walk in the parade.

After four hours in the sun, we were ready to cool off, and I needed to get some work done, so we headed up to my classroom.

There, the kids stood and watched the remainder of the cultural performances for another hour while I printed, made copies, and prepped for the week. They were perfectly content to watch from above!

After an exhausting day, we finally got home around 4:30 or so. The kids really wanted to go to the musical put on by the fifth graders that evening, but I told them that we could only go if they took naps, since it didn't even start until 7pm. Cade was out when I went in to wake him up around 5:30. We had a quick dinner, and then headed back to school once Eric got home from his baseball game.

I think the kids and I spent about 7 hours at school...way too long for a Saturday! But, the bazaar was fun, and the fifth graders did an amazing job putting on Annie. We are so blessed by all of the amazing opportunities we have here!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Children's Day

Yesterday was another one of those days when you realize that it just isn't physically possible to do everything that needs to be done. Something has to go. Yesterday it was one of my students' review projects and a school musical. The rest has to get done. It will get done. The quizzes will get graded. The exams will get written. The lessons will get planned.

Last Sunday was Children's Day in Korea. Last year we missed it because the kids both had pink eye, so we went to the Seoul Friendship Fair, but we couldn't go to church and expose all of those kids to it. This year we made it, though. We even dropped the kids off an hour early, so that they could practice, scoring a 45 minute coffee date for ourselves. We'll take what we can get!

It turns out that Children's Day is a pretty big deal. The entire church service was done just by the kids--the singing, Bible readings, and prayers. Even the (short) sermon was just for them. It was so funny to watch these little guys sing! Nothing like trying to get three, four, and five year olds to stand in a line and sing!

Our pastor told the kids that since it was their special day, they should get to choose where to go out for lunch, so we ended up at McDonalds with nearly every other Korean family with young children in Seoul.

After church, Eric took the kids out for a "water gun" fight.

They made water guns out of Ziploc bags with small holes cut into them.

It's not that they don't sell water guns in Korea; I know that they do. But what fun would that be? These little TCKs didn't seem to notice. The kids thoroughly enjoyed their little water fight.

This week we had several nice days of weather, including the day of Kennedy's field day at school. Then we had two days of gray, rainy weather.

Today, we had the International Bazaar at school, and the weather was back to beautiful for it, thankfully! I think everyone was surprised by just how warm it was in the sunshine.

Tonight, after the bazaar and Eric gets home from his baseball game, we'll see if we can make it to the musical at school, but we're at the point where some things just have to go. And that might be one of them.
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