Friday, October 30, 2009

Cultural Fridays

"I cannot express to you my love for pigs feet and tendons," said my Korean-American friend Janey on our ride out to the pottery village. While the thought of a pig's tendons made me squirm, Janey's zealous sentiments aptly set the tone for our Friday afternoon adventure: relish every possible ounce of culture in this day... and relish we did!

Directly after school I piled into a van with my friends Brian, LeeAnne, Angela, Janey, Annette, and Wendy and headed out to a village about 30 minutes away that is occupied by a community of potters. As trees started outnumbering people and rolling mountains replaced high-rise apartments buildings, I felt the strain of work dissipate and the comfort of fall began to seep in. We drove through tiny villages guarded by angry statues, weaved past brooks, and cruised by ambivalent orange and green trees. As I laughed with friends and watched the scrolling scenery, I could tell it was going to be a good evening.

When we arrived at the pottery village, our host (a local potter) greeted us and ushered us into his studio. We sat and watched him work his wheel. A potter and a professor of art history, Mr. Kim explained the evolution of pottery in Korea. He guided us through some basic skills and then set us lose on our own creations. I made a wall hanging that will house a candle. I am excited to see how it turns out! After we finished our projects, we explored the studio displaying Mr. Kim's creations. Then we sat and drank green tea out of his homemade tea set for about an hour. His 2 year old daughter danced around, fixated with my nail polish and Brian's wallet. She was our evening entertainment as the adults lounged and enjoyed a bilingual/broken English/Korean conversation.

After we departed Mr. Kim's studio, we went to an interesting little restaurant nestled into a nearby mountain village and there we ate like kings. Our meal seemed never-ending. As an appetizer, we shared mushroom and egg pancakes. Next, we ordered the house speciality: duck. I was not particularly excited because I had not had positive duck-dining experiences. However, I was pleasantly surprised! The duck was not nearly as greasy as its Chinese counterpart... in fact, it was crispy and absolutely delicious. It was served with cabbage, cucumber shreds, asian pears, and a tasty wasabi sauce... sounds like an odd combo, but the medley was absolutely divine wrapped in a giant lettuce leaf. I also enjoyed kimchee, roots, and garlic-spiced spinach pan chan (shared sides) throughout the meal. The dish was shortly followed by a spicy chicken and potato stew that made my lips tingle with its red pepper kick. Next came an earthy soup made with green-tea noodles and a miso-like broth. Finally, the meal ended with hot tea and sweet cereal puffs (yes, a bit strange to end with fruit loops).

All in all, a wonderful cultural Friday!

Showing us the ropes:

He makes it look so easy!

Mr. Kim's daughter loves my toe-nail polish

Some of my favorites from Mr. Kim's studio:

Tea time:

Angela showing off a duck wrap at dinner:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pimped out Puppy

Oh, man...I think this pet store took their puppy styling a bit too far. What do you think?

Eighties bangs up front:

Party in the back:

I'd be a bit downtrodden with this look too!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Queen of Lists

I guess I am in a top-ten kind of mood these days. Forgive me for my writer's rut. This week's top ten... I’ve had many little moments in the last few weeks where I have smiled and loved my children. I teach some amazing kids, that’s for sure. Without further ado, ten examples (in no particular order) of my students being awesome:

10) Yesterday, I put up a Facebook post: “I love my students,” and immediately one of my students, in my honor, changed her Facebook status to “I love my teachers”

9) One of my 9th grade classes has a running joke where one person will start singing a Disney song and then it gets stuck in everyone’s heads for the rest of the day. To cheer my up when I was recovering from surgery, one of my students sent me a link to a Disney song. While it did get stuck in my head, it made me smile every time it began.

8) One of my students from 2 years ago came up to me during lunch about a week ago to share that his Youtube video he created in my class about anti-pirating has been viewed by thousands of people around the world! Fun to see my kids really making a difference (and proud of it too!)!

7) I am too lazy to wear make-up these days. I finally wore eye-liner this week for the first time in awhile and got told I was beautiful at least 10 times. Okay, so this one is a bit superficial, but who doesn’t like being told they look nice?

6) I played pick-up soccer with some students and staff a week ago. All the former soccer girls were really protective of me. Every time one of the high school guys would charge me too hard, they would scream “surgery!!!!” Then they would laugh and call me “Lillo and Stitches”

5)Today a student randomly started playing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” on his computer and another one of my freshmen did this adorable little bouncing dance for about a minute before he got self-conscious and stopped.

4)Speaking of dancing, I love watching the dance crew kids practice their break dance moves in the hall near my room. My students are so talented... they can study calculus and balance on one arm!

3) Several former students were genuinely excited when they discovered today that I am going on the same service trip as them. They were even more excited when they heard my mom was going too.

2) Beware, this one is more English teacher nerdy: I watched one of my students find a quote on the internet and automatically make an MLA citation for it. WITHOUT prompting!! Some of what I teach does gets through to them!!!

1) Hugs, high fives, waves, hellos, and cheery notes on my whiteboard: I get these frequently! Man, I love these kiddos.

Two of my five classes pictured below (others will come):

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This week's top 10:

Ten signs I’ve been too busy playing post surgery catch-up/English teacher at the end of a marking period/student teacher’s mentor/coach/friend:

1)I haven’t blogged in almost a month. I did not even post anything about my trip to Hong Kong!
2) The dishes in my sink are overflowing and I haven’t been cooking at home at all (see #3)
3) I haven’t grocery shopped since before my surgery (sometimes I wonder how I eat!)
4) I have a carefully calculated estimate of exactly how many more minutes it will take until I finish grading my students’ expository essays (approx. 330 more minutes if I keep up the same pace… the end is in sight!)
5) The plant in my bedroom was completely dead before I realized I had not watered it. I don’t even remember the last time I checked on it.
6) I get excited about 10 minute breaks in my work.
7) I have not turned on my television, even as background noise, all week. For that matter, I haven’t picked up a book for fun or listed to music either.
8) There has only been one night in the last 8 days that I have gone to bed before midnight.
9) I can’t remember what I did last weekend and it’s only Tuesday.
10) All the usual procrastination techniques (redecorating, laundry, etc.) have been done.

Thankfully, I think by this upcoming weekend my mountain of grading should be complete. Then I can start addressing the issues listed above (I think #2 is becoming a health hazard).