Saturday, July 30, 2011

Harry Potter has finished

It's over.   I can't believe it's finally over.  Harry Potter has been looming in my life, in our lives, since I was in high school, and now more than ten year later, its come to an end.  I loved the books, and just about every single movie, including the last one (AMAZING), which we saw last week!  It's hard to believe that its over, after so many books, and so many movies, the series has come to an end. There was so much about the story to love, but what really drew me in, besides the intrigue, mystery, and fantasy elements, was the depth of the story. I thought there was so much to be learned from the story, and such truth in her social commentary. I found a speech by J.K. Rowling a while ago, and I loved it so much, I've posted it twice on this blog.  After reading it, I realized how there was much purpose in her telling of this magical tale, and that's what makes the books and movies great.  Its not just that its an interesting story with mystery, and creative characters, but that she's sending a strong message to stand up for whats right, and that freedom is worth the fight.

What did you think of the series?  Were you a Harry Potter fan?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flooding has arrived

We got a call from administration this morning at 7:30 am.  Kyle didn't get the first call, but when they called a second time, Kyle got out of bed and answered.  "Hello" he croaked into the phone. There was a long pause, while someone spoke on the other side of the phone. "Why do we need to come in at 8:00 am instead of 8:30 am?" He asked, not wanting to get up earlier.  "Alright," he admonished before hanging up.
"The school is flooded, we have to go in early today." he tells me as he sits up in bed.
On my way to the preschool building, rocks, sediment and tree branches bedazzle the streets.  Thankfully the rain is now only a drizzle.  As of two weeks ago, we had three umbrellas; today we have zero.  We left two on a subway after toting them all the way to Mudfest (more on that later), and all the way back, only to leave them at the very last stop.  Even in Korea, the land of no stealing, they weren't safe. Our last umbrella was jacked, sitting outside Kyle's office.  Umbrellas at the village are free game as far as I can tell.  I can't tell you how many umbrella's we've gone through these past two years. Seriously, over ten umbrellas.

My coworker and friend, Lisa, ran into the rain without an umbrella, because her umbrella has also mysteriously disappeared, to capture some of the river. True grit!
Lightening flashed over head, as I stared dumbfounded at the river in the middle of the courtyard.  I looked around to see a spout of water shooting up from the ground. There was no way around this river except through it.  I took off my red, rainproof shoes that I've been wearing daily, and splashed my way barefoot through the cold water.  It felt delightful at 8:30 am on my poorly circulating feet.  I feel like I'm in the wilderness, crossing a unbridled river.  I'm told that the children have been told to stay home today.  Looks like a day of cleaning is ahead.  Its a nice change, a little shake up, to keep us on our toes.  Thank you monsoon season- hopefully you didn't do any REAL damage!

Monday, July 25, 2011


One of the things, we, as foreigners struggle with in this country is communication.  Communication is not just about talking, but relaying meaning and many times, even though plenty of words are said, the meaning gets lost.   English, because we are teaching at an English academy (of sorts) is the language of choice. One reason, communication is an issue here, is that it so rarely happens. This Sunday, Kyle had to work. On Wednesday, he was told he wasn't needed, however, on Friday, the Friday before this Sunday, he was told, it was a possiblity that he was indeed needed. However, there was no confirmation.  Saturday, Kyle had to seek out the scheduler to find out for sure if he needed to come in and if so, what time. Last minute, has a new meaning in this country, or possibly this school. No one seems to talk to anyone, and no one ever seems to know what is actually happening, or who should know what is happening.  The director of the new high school on our campus, told us a story, of trying to find a key to the sports equipment room.  He asked director, after director, maintenance after maintenance to no avail.  Not only did no one seem to have the key, but no one knew who should have it.  Clear communication is severely lacking in this school.  The foreigners often blame it on the language and cultural barrier, but I think it runs deeper than that. Friday, my co-teacher, Cindy came into work dizzy.  She had a difficult time concentrating. Monday, Cindy was still struggling with the dizziness and had even fainted in her apartment the previous evening.  She made a quick trip to a clinic, which result in the doctor telling her she had some type of ear disease which often occurs in old age. (it was a wrong diagnosis she was later to find out)  She told our boss (in Korean, their native language), who then told the education department.  When a teacher was sent from the education department to replace Cindy for the day so that she could rest, we were told, that the education department had understood Cindy to be quitting, and they were therefore already looking for someone not only to replace her, but to take her apartment.  Cindy was horrified.  She didn't want to quit, she wasn't going to be permanently dizzy.  She hadn't in anyway insinuated that she was leaving, and yet, a search for a permanent replacement had already begun.  All of this communication had occured in Korean by Koreans, and yet the communication had been severely butchered. How would this information have been misinterpeted if it been communicated in English, I wonder?

Communication is a complicated beast, and when you add in culture and language deficiencies, the equation gets even murkier, making for exciting times here in the Village.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why don't we listen...

to the voice inside our head.... Life would be so much less complicated, if that voice inside our head was given the respect it deserves.  The other day, I was chatting with a friend, and we were discussing the words, "I'm sorry." Particularly, how difficult those two little words are so impossible for us, the human race, to say.  She was telling us a story, about how she and her sister were in a fight, and she knew herself to be in the wrong, but the words were bottled up inside of her and she refused to allow them to come out. Her sister was refusing to come to a family gathering until those simple words were said.  My friend finally relented, and with extreme difficulty, texted her sister those dreaded words.  Those dreaded words which release us from the enslavement of our pride.  Her sister immediately texted back and said, "thats all I wanted to hear" and came over immediately.   My friend, as she was telling this story, kept saying, I knew I was in the wrong, but I just couldn't say those words.  Normally, when I make my sisters or other family members a cup of tea, they know that I'm sorry, even when I don't say it and they've accepted that about me.

What is it about those words?  As spectators, we can look into this scene with a critical eye, and judge my friend all we want,  but in truth, most of us struggle with listening to that voice of reason residing within us. The voice that says, friendship is more important than this argument. The voice that says, that doughnut is not on your diet and may taste good but will not make you feel good. The voice that says, don't you have things other than watching T.V. that you should be doing?  Many times, these voices, these conversations within our brains, are depicted by a devil and an angel.  The angel is the voice telling us to be good, and the devil is obviously the tempter, the evil doer, but I disagree with this imagery.  I don't think of it as the good and bad within us engaged in a perpetual tug of war, but rather our impulsive, fun-loving, temper-tantrum throwing child-like side against the reasonable, logical, guarded, serious adult.  The child within us, never wants to reveal injury, and protects our pride with ferocity, but it also is the voice of fun.  It also reminds us that life isn't always about work, but about not just living life but enjoying it.  Our serious adult side attempts to keep us in line with the goals that we keep, whether it be our diets, or our academic and/or work goals.  In my opinion, I think both voices, the logical voice and the impulsive voice have a valid place in our lives, but sometimes we struggle with which one should be listened to at which point in our lives.  The story I'm about to relate is a perfect example of when the child-like side should be thrown by the way-side. Sadly, however, the winner of the tug-o-war was the child-like side resulting in a painful and unnecessary blister.

Kyle and I generally make three dishes a week for our meals.  Two of our meals that we'd made recently, required bread.  (Bread wasn't really required but desired) So we decided that we would make honey jalepeno drop biscuits for our soup and for the buns of our black bean burgers. (Turns out they didn't make very good buns)  The trick for the honey, was to pour it on top a few mintues before they came out.  On the last batch of biscuits that came out however, my child-like side screamed in utter delight at the golden, crystalline,  delicious looking honey bubbled on the aluminum foil next to one the scrumptious biscuits.  "Eat it!" my child-like side yelped in unbridled anticipation.  I heard the logical side caution in serious tones, "thats not a wise idea.  You know what will happen." but for some reason, I didn't listen to logic, but instead to impulse.  Sticking my index finger into a sizzling hot glob of honey was possibly one of the dumbest ideas I've had in a long time. What was I thinking? A scream filled the apartment, as my finger sizzled into a painful blister of both physical anguish, and wounded pride, which two weeks later, is still callused. It's not always easy to determine which voice should be listened to, but in this case it should have been simple, and for some reason, I chose to burn myself.

What are some moments in your life when you listened to the wrong voice?  When have you literally or metaphorically burned yourself?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

We recently had a soup which was worth sharing, Moroccan spiced chickpea soup.  We had chickpeas that needed using, and this was the recipe we decided on trying.  I really enjoyed it, while Kyle raved to the extent that it was the best soup we've ever made. Considering his long term memory is completely useless, I'm going to have to disagree, but never-the-less it was a delicious and healthy soup.  If you'd like to see the original recipe, click on the link above, but I'm going to list the changes we made below.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large onion, medium diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (it called for 1/8 t.)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sweet chili powder (it calls for paprika, but we don't have that)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 quart vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon honey (it called for sugar)
  • salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (5-ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach
  • 2 Tablesppons lemon juice


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent; lower heat if browning starts to occur. Add spices and saute a minute or so. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and sugar. Season with a couple pinches of salt and 10 grinds fresh pepper. Stir well. Chickpeas should be just covered with liquid. If level is shy, add some water so the chickpeas are just covered.
Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove soup from heat. Use a potato masher to mash up some of the chickpeas right in the pot. (Blend half of the soup in a blender) Stir in the spinach and let heat through until wilted, just a couple minutes.
Season again, to taste, with salt and pepper, and lemon juice.
Serve soup, drizzled lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Philippine videos AGAIN

When I posted these videos the first time four months after the vacation to the Philippines, they weren't successfully posted.  Honestly its been so long since I tried posting them, that I've even forgotten why they were rejected by Youtube in the first place.  But I haven't worked on our footage in such a while, that its taken me nearly half a year to get them back up.  In reality, I asked Kyle to do it, but well, men will be men I guess, and I'm now doing it six months after the fact.

We took our vacation to the Phillippines last September and it was FANTASTIC. We've made two videos:
Boracay in a Flash: for people with little time on their hands and don't really want to watch the long version

Trip to the Philippines the extended version part 1 and part 2 : for people, such as our parents, grandparents and others who have a vested interest in watching details of our lives that other people don't have the time, patience or energy for.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Anecdotes from preschool

I'm having fun with my preschoolers.  Their at the adorable age of innocence, where everything that comes from your mouth is as good as gold.  They have yet to test out rebellion, and believe that the most troublesome aspect of the world is that their friends don't share with them.  Teaching  the "five year old class" has been an entirely different experience than when I substituted for the "7 year old class" last year.  It hasn't been better or worse, just substantially different considering the children's maturity levels. One great aspect about teaching in Korea, as opposed to a Western country, is the fact that Korea has not taken up law suits so avidly as other countries.  I don't have a fear of being called a pedophile for hugging my children, or showing them affection.  In fact, that is part of my job description, giving affection to the children, hugging them, playing with them, and kissing their boo boos.  Hopefully, if I can remember, I will continue writing this as a series relaying stories about my children.

We had this student Ashton for a while.  He was four (Korean age) with floppy black hair, pants that were always falling off him and with a face as sweet as candy.  But Ashton, I'm afraid, did not make it on our class for longer than a month.  The poor thing could not understand us. I'm not sure he would have understood us if we'd been speaking Korean. He didn't comprehend school.  He didn't grasp sitting still in circle time or repeating words and phrases.  I thought at the very least he'd understand coloring, but even that seemed to boggle his poor little mind. We'd place a coloring sheet before him, place a coloring pencil in his hand, assist him in coloring for the first few seconds, and leave him to it, but he'd only stare at us, bewildered. He literally would gaze at us with a blankness only found on white paper holding his color pencil in his hand for ten minutes. I don't know if he wouldn't color, or if he really didn't get the concept, but either way, in order for any of Ashton's work to be completed, Cindy and I would have to complete it ourselves, placing Ashton's hand in ours, as we colored, or drew lines to the correct pictures for Ashton, as he stared at us as if we were strange creatures from his dreams.  After a month of this, his mother and father determined that Ashton wasn't ready for school yet.  We whole-heatedly agreed.

  I have an adorable class.  Really, I'm quite lucky to have such angelic children.  And I have to say, I particularly like the girls, although the boys quite frequently melt my heart  as well. One of my little girls names is Elise. She's an adorable creature that might have been a kangaroo in a previous life time. She's constantly hopping around, her arms bent like short stubby kangaroo's, singing her own little tunes.  She's also quite particular about dirt and mess.  I imagine her mother is quite tidy. She refuses to go into the bathroom if there is anything out of the ordinary such as water on the floor, or dirt.  She will come to fetch me, if the bathroom is unacceptable to her standards, and will hold her pee, until it has been cleaned up.

Stay tuned for more anecdotes from preschool.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Putting up the tent without any instructions.  My husbands amazing.  We wouldn't have been able to do it without him!
A month ago or so, we signed up to go on a weekend of Rock Music in Korea. RocKorea was  held on an unattractive dirt plot with a small stage, and fewer concession stands that I'd imagined. To be fair, this was its debut year, so the smallness of the event should have been expected.  The festival was located on a plot of land that is slated to be the new "Hong Kong" of Korea, the entirely man made island, the world's largest ubiquitous city" (Songdo), which consequently took us nearly four hours of subway and buses to travel to. Because the area is still in the beginning stages however, all we were able to witness was dirt.  All of the bands were cover bands of famous rock bands throughout the ages. Our lodging for the evening was a tent we'd found in one of the closets at school.  Although we'd prepared for an evening of average coolness, we were completely unprepared for the frigid temperatures of the evening that left all of us shivering like wet kittens, without any decent sleep.  The festival was fun.  It wasn't great unto itself, but because of the company, and the joy of being outside under the stars with pretty decent music, it was an overall blast.

the other campers

the tent finished

having fun with glow lights

look at those filthy feet

the dancing that ensued was hilarious.  I didn't partake because my stomache was not cooperating with me that evening, but it was fun to watch either way.

Pushing Kyle on the cart through the airport. Because the location was near the airport, the bus transporting revelers to and from the festival grounds was at the airport.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Happy Fourth of july!

This fourth of July, we celebrated the freedom of America ironically with the Irish and the British along with some other Americans and Koreans. A BBQ by the pool, followed  fireworks made me feel like I was back home amongst my American fellows.  We even had one of our British friends running in the background for us to shoot roman candles at to commemorate the kicking out of the redcoats. Nearly every year, when Independence day rolls around, I try to think deeply about the meaning of our Independence day.  And for me, it's a day to remember that freedom isn't free.  I think that living in such a country of the privileged, non of us have ever experienced oppression like what most third world countries today must struggle with daily.  Traveling has really given me a different perspective on what it means to be American.  I've seen both wealth and poverty beyond what I could have every imagined.  I've seen disparity,and felt racism both negatively and positively.  Traveling, seeing the world, gives one a way of looking at home, I'd never of had had I not left America. I love my country more than I did before I traveled, and I'm proud to be an American despite the negativity surrounding us.  I love that everyday, our democracy continues to strive for ideals. I love that I've grown up in a country of hope and optimism. There are a lot of things that go on in our country that I disagree with as well, but because we live in the country we do, I have the ability and right to fight.  When I have children, I hope that I can instill in them the values and the spirit of fighting for truth, and justice.  I hope that I can infuse in them an appreciation for all that we were given as a nation.  Freedom isn't free, it is something we must not only cherish, but be willing to fight for.

And now for some fun pictures of our celebration!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Day at the river

A few weeks ago, some our friends decided to go down to a reservoir to spend our lazy Saturday afternoon soaking up the sun. Walking along the concrete waterway was a bit of a challenge considering the force of the  water.  It was a fun day splashing around on the edge of the river.  When we arrived we were the sole visitors, but we were soon joined by other groups of Koreans also wishing to bask in the summer's sunlight.

Don't you love the water splashing around his feet!

the ladies, chilling

Some korean girls dressed for fishing.

this poor Korean girl was being dragged into the water.  However she refused to let go of her camera so that they wouldn't throw her in.  In the end, she won the battle.

The sign every ignored.

A Maltese in the shop nearby.

We found a Chinese food restaurant after our day of water fun.  We ordered 4 dishes for 10 people not sure of the portion sizes.  We ended up paying nearly $20, we're not sure how, but the food was delicious and the portions were out of control.  They were obviously meant to be shared.

Overall, it was a surprisingly exciting day for an unplanned summer weekend.  I love summer.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Simon's cat

The rain that is desperately needed in Texas (and other parts of the USA) this 3rd of July is instead precipitating south Korea with it's wet tears.  Sadly, our Fourth of July BBQ by the pool now is postponed until the clouds surrender exposing blue skies once again.  Our pool has finally opened, and ironically so have the doors of the clouds, and they seem to be jammed open allowing the clouds to flow freely all its liquid. Although yesterday, there was no rain, a first in several days, it was wet outside enough from the 80% humidity that one didn't need a pool to be drenched.  But eventually the showers will cease, and the pool, as it does every summer, will elicit the greatest joy in my soul. What is it about water that makes humans (at least humans unafraid of water) zealous with exuberance. I love summer, and I love swimming.  We're truly lucky to have a pool in Korea, but not just any pool;  a gorgeous, outside, and free pool!

On to the topic of this post however, the newly discovered, hilarious series, introduced to us by the Russian students- Simon's cat.

These videos are funny to both classes of people, those who love cats and those who despise them. I'm in the adoration category despite my many early childhood horror stories involving household cats which led to an eventual dog coup in high school which threw out the previous cat regime with threats of slobbering.  I've posted one particularly funny episode, although I have yet to watch all of them.  Enjoy!