Sunday, September 28, 2008

And this is why...

This is why I do what I do on a daily basis. This is why I get up before the sun to squeeze in a workout so I can be in the classroom earlier and stay a little later. This is why I take crap loads of stuff home with me and work on the weekends. This is why... (I know... you are reading this and asking yourself what the hell I am talking about, right? Well, let me type the letter I got from a parent this week into the space below. Names are not included of course).

Dear Ms. Collins (okay, my name is included),

I wanted to take the time and say how happy we are with the work you have done with M. This is the first week that M has talked about school and tells us how much he loves it. We were so scared that M would stay in trouble and that I would have to be at the school all the time. Things have changed at home too. He wants to read and do homework. I have pulled out my hair on many a day wanting him to let me read to him. I also tried to get him to color and he would have nothing to do with it. However, the last 2 days the boy colors and finishes the page before taking off to something new.Thank you and we are excited about the rest of the year.

This really touched me because this little person has really struggled for a long time. Before he came to me, he was struggling. The mom came in before school started to give me the heads up on him and his behavior, but something in my classroom is working for him and I have the honor of helping to shape this little person into his potential... and he has a LOT of potential!! So, yea, this is why I do what I do... and I LOVE it!! Thank you, parents for entrusting your children to my care and thank you God for giving me the heart for this work... whether it is here, Korea, Oman, Canada or anywhere else!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I recently joined the YMCA in an effort to get into the community more, gain health, lose weight and all that other fun stuff. Thankfully, one of my new friends from my school decided to join with me and I have a workout buddy. I had a workout buddy in Korea too. Just about every morning Christy and I would meet and either go for a walk, jog or hit the school gym. It was great and I miss that a lot. So I am thrilled that Lyndsay wants to do that with me too. It got off to bit of a rocky start because it took us forever to get there on Tuesday when we were going to sign up. So we missed the class we thought we'd do, but that was okay. We planned to meet the next afternoon and try their Zumba class (some dance inspired thing) but we got held up at school and didn't get a chance to go. So then we just hit the gym for a little bit... it was more high tech than I have EVER seen. Here is the comparison for you: My first gym in Korea was about the size of my apartment. It had 2 treadmills, 1 bike, one stairmaster and some free weights... and LOTS of OLD Korean men... My first gym in the US has more cardio machines than I can count (and some I've never seen before - like the mountain climber), TVs for all the cardio machines, a system called FitLinxx that helps to track your progress. You have your own number and you have to be trained how to use the machines so your settings can be stored. They track your sets, pounds lifted overall, intensity of workout, calories burned and so on. You can even load your outside cardio into the system and it will log that too!! It's nuts!!!
So today I finally took a class. My friend Lyndsay and I decided to give Spinning a try... OMG!!! It is so hard and awful and yet so good... I have a love/hate relationship with it and will be back next week if there is a space open for me!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

American Germs...

So I've had another first. American germs!! All last week I suffered with a cold that pretty much rocked my body. All I could do was sleep, take medicine and sleep some more. I guess I am more resistant to the Asian strains of all the flus and colds and stuff... now I get to suffer through a whole new set of strains.... hahahaha Fun times! Another adjustment. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Apartment not finished, but...

I did get a hair cut, manicure and pedicure!! I know, I know!! I need to get this apartment done, but I just couldn't bring myself to stay inside when it was so beautiful outside. I did get my bedroom all done though, the bathroom cleaned and the kitchen cleaned (look at me, justifying... like I am guilty of my hand in the cookie jar!!). Anyway, I do have a pic though... my new hair cut. Unfortunately, the picture is kinda dark so you can't really see it... but you get the idea.


After being so productive yesterday, I woke with a burning desire to finish unpacking and to get sorted. But as I posted in the comment block to my last post, I am having trouble finding room. I need MORE book shelves and another room. Right now my office is my bedroom. *sigh* I had really hoped to have that spare bedroom for my workout gear and my office, not to mention as a place for my friends to stay when they come to visit (oh yea, you are all coming for a visit, right?). But, alas, I am stuck trying to squeeze all my stuff into a teeny, tiny (albeit VERY cute) one bedroom apartment. It's getting there. I did finish the bedroom today and got another box or two unloaded. I am hoping to finish the brunt of it today. I need to buy one more book shelf (just a little one), a chair for the living room and I think that's it... maybe. I also have stuff to get rid of!! I have a box full of antique china and silver that I don't want, a nice wooden coffee table that is too big for my little living room and just some stuff that I don't know why I kept. *sigh* It feels like a never ending job, but I can actually see carpet today. Hopefully I will get it done and post some pictures later so you can see it. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Waiting out the storm

I've been living in Asia for the last 9 years and I've seen some pretty wicked storms. There was my first typhoon in Korea, where the kimchi pots sailed through the air and then there were the flash floods and sand storms in Oman. I've seen them, been in them and heard all the hubbub. And, true to form, I've now been through another storm. I've just moved (as you know if you've been reading this... which you ALL should) to the eastern coastal area of the USA. This weekend, tropical storm Hanna hit our shores (at 3 am this morning to be exact). But I'll tell you what, I am thankful for that storm. It made me stay inside and do the work that I'd been dreading. And now the rain has stopped and the sun is peaking through the clouds. I don't know if tomorrow will bring more rain and I'll be whining about it, but for now, I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

All Dads Are Called Steve

I meant to write this in before the first day stuff, but the other day I had parents coming in for an open house. Just a meet and greet kind of event. I have one little boy in my class who is very articulate and intelligent. One this occasion his dad came in towards the end just as his mom was prepping to leave. We asked the boy to introduce his dad and he did. This is what the conversation went like:

Me: Who's this?
Him: This is my daddy, but sometimes my mommy calls him Steve and he calls my mommy Julie.
Me: (giggling) wow, thank you for sharing that.
My Para: Well, what should we call him? Daddy?
Him: No! All adults call daddies Steve!!

So next time you see a daddy, make sure you call him Steve!!

First Days (#11)

So today was the first day of school with the kids. It was my 11th first day of teaching and it was a doozy!! I knew that Kindergarten would suck the life right out of me, but I didn't expect it to be all in one day. And to think that when I first became a teacher, that is all I wanted to do... teach in a Kindergarten classroom. Right now I feel overwhelmed and unprepared!! I have 20 kids from about 8:15 in the morning until 3 (that's if their moms or buses come on time, today one bus was a "little" late and arrived to get the kids at 3:45). I have about 20 minutes to eat my lunch and 30 minutes a day for planning, except for Wednesdays because that's the Hands On Math day when we do an extra 30 minutes of Math with manipulatives (apparently no one told the powers that be that all math at the Kindergarten level is HANDS ON!!!). So yea... It wasn't the easiest of first days but I was so busy that I didn't even notice.
Now... let's talk about it being my first day in a public school and a US public school at that. Again, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. I've never met a culture that loves to waste more paper than the US does. We had to have forms filled out, things sent home, things coming back, paper attendance slips (those are just for the first 15 days of school), lunch counts (on paper instead of electronically sent), my 4th or 5th class list, a bus list made by me with no information from the office, another changed schedule and the list could go on for about 3 more entries worth of space!! YIKES!!
But the best part of the day was meeting the kids!! They are LOVELY!!! Even the ones that I KNOW in my heart of hearts will test and try me everyday, they are just lovely. I have a very intelligent group with very diverse needs. There are 2 little ones with pretty interesting speech habits (one can't say the g or k sounds and so they come out with a t sound... so I am Miss Tollins to that little one... too cute). One with just some interesting habits period. Thankfully that one responds well to me. Two that have mouths that don't stop, but they say very intelligent things. Three whose mouths won't produce much English (thank goodness for my Spanish speaking Para-Educator). One who is so tiny I think I could put that one in my pocket. And a mish-mash of kids with really interesting backgrounds and experiences. I am thankful for the class I have received... it's pretty good!!!
The funniest part of the day was this: at the end of the day I was called to the office... hm... wonder why? Turns out I put a kid on the wrong bus!! Oh wait, no, I put her on the bus her mother indicated.... the mother wrote down the bus stop number, not the actual bus route number. That poor mom, she was just so distraught until we realized what had happened and had the bus return with the little girl... hehehe... just a small example of the chaos today!