Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favorite Christmas movies

Kyle and I have been trying to compile a list of favorite Christmas movies to get us in the Christmas spirit.  We were looking up Christmas movies recently and found something quite odd. Three out of four lists, Gremlins was listed.  Yes, that movie with the cuddly cute little teddybears that turn into monsters who then attack the town.  The logic I guess is that it happens to occur around Christmas so despite the alien-like goblins, people count it as a Christmas story.  Our list however does not count Gremlins.

This list is in no particular order.

The Family stone- This one is hilarious with a bittersweet after taste .
While you were sleeping- So maybe this one is stretching it, but it takes place over Christmas.. :)  At least no one is being attacked by monsters.

The Family man- Maybe this movie wasn't very popular, but we really like it and it is very Christmasy.

Home Alone 1 & 2- who doesn't like these Christmas classics.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone- so it's not really a Christmas movie, but it is always playing at Christmas time, and there is lots of snow.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas- I love the original version! It's so heartwarming.

Love Actually- We just watched this. So sweet.  It makes you love LOVE.

The Santa Clause- This was one of my fav's when it came out.  The Second one was not great, but the third was a disaster.

A Christmas Story- The absolute CLASSIC!

The Holiday- A new Christmas movie.

A Muppet Christmas Carol - Our favorite version of the Christmas Carol.  Muppets make everything better, but the 1984 non-Muppet version is the second best :)

It's a Wonderful Life- Who doesn't love this movie.  If you don't cry, your heart is made of coal.

 So there you have it. I've probably left some out.
 What are you favorite holiday movies?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Girl Effect

  This Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for.  In preschool, everyday, we have something that is called circle time.  In my opinion, it is probably the most important aspect of the day, as it is when we practice vocabulary, questions and answers.  This week, I have chosen the topic of Thanksgiving despite the fact that this is once again uniquely a North American thing. (Canadians have their Thanksgiving in October) The question of the week, therefore is, "What are you thankful for?"  The children give a myriad of answers ranging from dolls, moms, sisters, TV to individual friends in the class.  I sometimes get a shout out of appreciation as well.  But it has made me reflect quite a bit on what am I thankful for in my life , as I have had to answer this question twice everyday this week.  I have come to realize  that people as blessed as we are, as Americans are, as the industrialized world is, that we don't really appreciate the gifts we have until they have been taken away.  It's difficult to express my gratitude, as just about every aspect of my life is a blessing.

 I am thankful for my parents (and rest of my family for that matter) who have always, and I mean always supported me.  The basic purpose of a parent is to make sure their child survives, lives to adulthood.  To many parents, this can mean different things, this can mean providing financially, it can be in the form of food in the gullet and a roof overhead.  If my parents had provided nothing more than this, they would have been doing their required duty, but they didn't stop there.  They loved me.  They loved me unconditionally even when I threw screaming impassioned temper-tantrums (and you better believe that someone as dramatic as I am could throw a proper temper-tantrum), even when I barked like a dog as a two year old in a restaurant and embarrassed them beyond measure, and even when I made decisions they disapproved of, they loved me for being me, for just being their daughter.  And I haven't just had the support of my parents but my amazingly supportive family, and friends who I consider as important as family.  When I first suggested living abroad, my family didn't say, "no, that isn't possible." Instead they said, "When can we come visit you?" But I haven't just been emotionally blessed beyond measure, but in every other aspect of my life as well.  I have never gone without food.  I have never slept outside unless it was intentional.  I have had electricity and running water for almost every single moment of my life.  But you know what hadn't occurred to me to be thankful for until just a few days ago with thanks to the attention-deprived action of our insane neighbor, was peace.  Although our country has been technically "at war" for almost ten years, I have never seen war. I have never lost someone to a landmine or a car bomb.   I have never been afraid for my life.  I have never not known peace.  I have never felt hopeless about my future because as an American we are told that dreams are possible.  Now we can debate over the veracity of the latter statement, but the truth is that being American automatically puts us strides ahead of other human beings in other parts of the world.  We are born with possibilities beyond what so many in this world are able to achieve.  But a future of love and laughter is available to us with commitment.  If we only lasso our future with sheer strength and determination and refuse to let go anything is really possible for us.  I could go on and on about my many blessings, but what I want to talk about at this moment are those who on this Thanksgiving day are hungry or ailing.  Those individuals, in parts of the world, who are born into cyclical poverty and see no outreaching hand to pull them out.  Those who don't have the possibility of education.  Those who don't have hope, don't even understand the concept of the word as it has never applied to their lives. Without possibility these people, whom are our brothers and sisters of the Earth live a life I can't even begin to pretend to fathom.
My aunt recently introduced me to nonprofit  called "The Girl Effect."   This nonprofit is throwing its support behind girls.  They believe that if they can help girls in poverty become educated, they can break the cycle for the next generation. The video below is their campaign.  I urge you to watch it and when you are going around the table numbering off your many blessings in front of the turkey feast, you can consider ways to help these girls better their lives and communities to become as blessed as we are.
 Click here to see on Youtube

Why so much support for the female and not the male?  An unconnected non-profit group, called the Hunger Project, who gives women microloans explains much better than I ever could.
Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility.
The vast majority of the world's poor are women. Two-thirds of the world's illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls. And today, HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a woman's disease. In several southern African countries, more than three-quarters of all young people living with HIV are women.
The current world food price crisis is having a severe impact on women. Around the world, millions of people eat two or three times a day, but a significant percentage of women eat only once. And, now, many women are denying themselves even that one meal to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of even more severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children's fate as well. The impact of this crisis will be with us for many years.
Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!  We can't wait to see you for CHRISTMAS!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Part 1 of several posts on Boracay!

Our small jet landed at the outside airport which resembled a parking lot more so than airport.  Upon arrival, we were picked up by, what looked to me, the perfect example of a cabana boy. We were put in a motorcycle- makeshift cab doohickey and taken to a boat dock.  After the short boat ride in which all passengers were instructed to wear the bulky life vests, we took another ride in a different motorcycle cab thingy until the road became pedestrian only and we walked the rest of the way to our hotel.

My first impression, while driving through the city, was shock at the poverty; dilapidated shacks , children playing in the dirt wearing very little but a ragged dress, and men smoking outside dark shops amid green jungle-like trees. Sometimes it is hard to tell if  people in tropical climates are poor or just don't wear a lot of clothing since the humidity and heat act as enough clothing in itself.  It is never a pleasant experience witnessing hardship but a part of me didn't feel as bad as I might for the people impoverished on one of the most beautiful islands on Earth.  It's not that I don't pity their situation, but I mean really, if your gonna be poor, it might as well be in a place where the water is amazingly turquoise and shimmers in the sunlight, the sand kernels are white and soft as fur and the atmosphere thrums the mood of tranquility on it's bongos.

Our hotel was one that I would recommend in a heart beat.  It is towards the end of the beach, where the parties are basically non-existent. For those looking for nightlife directly underfoot, the Blue Mango is not the hotel your looking for.  With a scuba shop attached to the side, it serenades its visitors to take a nap, sip a drink and enjoy the activity of relaxing.  We were greeted with an extremely sweet mango drink and directed to our garden room which was later exchanged to the ocean view family room!  Heaven!
the view from the hotel restaurant.

the garden view
Any beach is incomplete without hammocks to lounge in.
After walking the beach and exploring the sights, we decided the next line of action should be to have massages.  So we had our long massages under a canopy, listening to the sound of the waves crashing into the shore.  I am not a massage connoisseur, so maybe I can't properly judge, but I thoroughly enjoyed the massage.   We then settled down on the beach for our first drinks in Boracay.  Now, here, I have a small complaint.  You would think, in a tourist destination such as Boracay, with happy hours sometimes starting as early as 10 am, that somewhere on this island, there would be bars who could actually make a decent mojito or pina colada.  But either, they figured no one would notice the lack of mint leaves or the lack of pineapple juice or no one the island could make a good drink.  But this is a small complaint for an overall amazing trip.
Where we got our massages

A view of the shopping side of the beach

Anyone else find this sign funny?

The water was magnificent

The beginnings of a beautiful sunset.

Our first drink.

Kyle took this picture.

Having some romantic time!

the sunset was unbelievable!

One of the many vendors on the island.  p.s. that is not a tattoo on his arm but an arm band, I guess to keep him cooler.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea is at it again...

For those of you who haven't heard yet, we're fine. Nothing to worry about yet so everyone can relax (talkin to you mom WINK). If you don't know what happened just take a quick glance at any of the major news networks, ORRRR you could just read my lil take on the whole ordeal right here!

In my opinion, this can be almost directly compared to an Elementary school playground gang war. NK has never liked SK since that one day that NK tried to bully SK and all of SK's bigger, stronger friends got involved. Even before that little tiff NK was always a bit jealous of SK for always having spending money to buy a coke at lunch with and always having the newest Air Jordans but mostly just because all the big kids liked SK and never wanted to play with NK very much. So every now and then NK has to do SOMETHING to show SK that they ain't all that and a bag of chips and more importantly NK has to show all of the big kids that theyz bad and if anyone messes with em, they gonna get schooled Supreme Leader style.

So what happened yesterday was not necessarily routine, but also not exactly unexpected. Essentially, SK got too close to NK's side of the playground AGAIN and threw the first stone! So NK tossed a few stink bombs over at the monkey bars which to be honest wasn't THAT big of a deal as no one really plays on the monkey bars very much, so SK tossed a bunch back at them and shot some spit wads and such and now everyone has run back to their bases and are plotting what to do next. So right now, NK is pretty P.O.ed and is just waiting for the day that the big kid on their side, China gives them the go ahead to just run up and kick SK in the gonads but at the moment, China has a bunch of friends that like to hang out on the swings on SK's side of the playground so that just wouldn't be cool cause, let's face it, NK doesn't have very good aim and while they MIGHT hit SK in the gonads, they're gonna be kicking a whole bunch of people in the gonads in the process sooooo, we should all just wait and see what China decides to do.

IF, and this is a big if, China decides to call their friends off the swings and back over to NK's side of the playground then we will be booking 2 tickets stateside asap, otherwise I think it's safe to assume that this was just another one of those temper tantrums that NK has every now and then when no one is paying any attention to them.

The fact is, NK is that cranky kid who comes from a rough upbringing on the crappy side of town but hates being thought of as less important. I'm not saying that it justifies what they did yesterday and I certainly don't mean to belittle the fact that people were killed and several seriously injured. That is NEVER not a big deal. But in the grand scheme of things, all this talk about "War" and "escalation" is pure spin and has very little evidence to support it. So like I said, when the big kids start treating this as a more serious situation, then so will we, otherwise don't worry folks. It's just another day in the life around here.


This post is a little late as Halloween was weeks ago, but it is better late than never, right? One great thing about our school, is that because we often have dramas with summer and winter programs, we have an enormous costume closet for your average school.  I would even go so far as to say it is larger than the costume closet we had at my high school. Some of the costumes are ratty with wear and tear, and some smell from sweaty Korean children playing with them, but we are still quite lucky to have it at our disposal.  Korea has holidays, but their holidays are not quite as elaborate as ours.  Halloween, because of America's culturally over-reaching hand sprinkling its American dust on other nations, has begun to gain in popularity in other places in the world, but because it is really only a North American holiday, it is far from what we would consider Halloween.  In Korea, the foreigners celebrate their holidays amongst the gawking Koreans to keep their spirits up during the holidays.  At our school, we decided, to commemorate this ghoulish holiday by wearing costumes to class.  The kids got a kick out of it, although we had to explain why we were wearing our costumes.  We had our pictures taken as soon as we walked into the 8:30 morning meeting.  Many of the photos, I would venture to say are unflattering.  Dark circles, unless they are going as a zombie or vampire don't suit anyone well.

A few days later we had an official Halloween party.  Our friend Amy in the preschool had been decorating her classroom with Halloween decorations for the entire month of October.  We had several Halloween decorations parties to help Amy achieve her spooky classroom effect.  So, in turn, we used her classroom as our party room as it already had all the much needed decorations.  She had created games for the Halloween party as well including pumpkin bowling (with a green Korean pumpkin knocking down coke bottles), bean bag monster toss, and pin the face on the pumpkin and ghost.  It was a fun evening and we finished it off with "Ghostbusters" the original.  P.s. according to IMBD, they are coming out with yet a third Ghostbusters scheduled to be released in 2013!!!

The pictures are a little backwards though.  The party pictures are first and they are followed by the daytime school pictures!
This was found in the old Halloween preschool decorations bag.  I don't think that skeletons having sex is preschool appropriate.  Someone wasn't paying attention.

The preschool teachers

Pumpkin pie (we found it at Costco!!)

Banana ghosts!
Those are supposed to be mouths.  Can you tell?

Goblin snot

Amy made these

Watch out spider, Ranger Kyle is gonna shoot you!

At the party I was a zombie.
Sorry, it's a bit blurry.
The only picture of me smiling for my zombie photos :)

Spiderwoman scaling the wall!

I made these glue ghosts!

Playing pin the tail on the pumpkin!
I didn't do so well

Pumpkin bowling.  Yes, that is what Korean pumpkins look like.
The makeshift bowling pins.

In the monster's mouth, bean bag toss!

This is actually a pajama outfit in Korea.  Cute huh!

Zombie teacher!
our costumes for the daytime. We were pirates!
He better watch out!!

Vampire bat...

Kyle on his scooter that he fights the other little kids with for possession.

He's being a good husband and bringing the camera!
The two Snow Whites!

Funny outfit huh??

Some of the Korean staff.

The pirates and the Snow White princesses!

Another Vampire bat!

Class photo!

Even sillier teacher photo!

I keep trying to kill snow white!

ride your short broom witch!

Hee hee

In the office, at my desk.

I think this picture is so funny!  Look at the witches eyes!

Everyone is killing the cow!

Poor Snow White.