Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Finally, we are on Christmas vacation!
Finally, I got to hang out with one of my parents from last year who became a friend.
Finally, I got to Busch Gardens, even if it was just for the Christmas Town theme.
Finally, I finished all my laundry.
Finally, I packed pretty much all I needed to pack (and what I didn't pack... OH WELL!!).
Finally, I am going to sleep even though I didn't get around to vacuuming and scrubbing the floors (this irks me beyond belief... odd, I know).
Finally, I am going to drive down to Raleigh/Durham to catch my flight to Texas.
Finally, I am going to get to meet Raymond's family.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Vacay...

So most of my teacher friends have already started their vacation time for the winter. It is usually 2 weeks (if you work for a public system) or 3 weeks (if you work for a private system). It's wonderful because you get to take a break, recharge and spend some great quality time with the people that you love. However, my school has decided that we should work until the 22nd and be back by the 4th. It is just 10 days exactly... and while 4 days may not seem like a big deal to most people, it is a right pain in the tush! Being there those extra days really cuts into my time to rest (which means get sick, because this is usually when my body gives me the middle finger for pushing it so hard for the last few months and takes a break by downing me with an illness)... it also cuts into the time you would spend preparing for the holidays (so if you live in southern VA, be prepared to see tons of teachers doing the last minute dash to the stores) and it cuts into the time you get to spend with your loved ones. For those of us not from this lovely land, it cuts into our ability to travel. My friends from Europe cannot go home because the expense is too high and the time is too short (you have to factor in the jet lag), and for me... it's just not enough time to make the $1500 for the trip home really worth it. Thankfully, my wonderful friend Raymond and his family are adopting me for the season... I hope I make a good impression and that the illness stays at bay until I get back from Texas... serves the school system right if all the teachers and kids come back ill because we didn't have enough time to do all the things you need to do on winter break!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"I'll miss you..."

These were the words that I heard the other day from my little student who is in foster care. I was immediately alarmed because the child was supposed to go back with their birth parent until the spring. I asked where they were going and the response was to baby girl's house. Of course this got a chuckle out of me at first but on further investigation, this is the child's other birth parent. It's supposed to just be for the Christmas holiday (which is already breaking the foster parent's heart). However, today we found out from the foster parent that the child may or may not be coming back after the holiday... I am so sad... this child is literally the sunshine of my day, every day... *sigh* I am hoping the child comes back and that they can stay with the foster family, who is INCREDIBLE!!!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A couple of the finished cookies.

Candy, candy, candy... and this wasn't even a tenth of what was in my room.

Because they don't get to keep the castle, I thought it'd be fun for them to make and take some cookies too. They each got a gingerbread man and a gingerbread tree.

This is the Gingerbread Castle that my students designed, baked, decorated and built to donate to a local charity for women and children. It's awesome! They did such a good job with it and I am so proud of them.

Which Gingerbread Are You?

My students are working on a project called the Gingerbread Project. My most wonderful friend, Sophia, introduced me to the project and this is my fourth year doing it. The idea is to have the children focus on completing the class project of designing, baking, decorating and building a gingerbread house that would then be donated to a charity to bring the joy of the season to those less fortunate. Because I am as cheesy and theme-oriented as I am, I take it a little farther. We do about 3 weeks of all gingerbread stuff in my room and the kids learn a ton!! This project is one of my favourites all year long and it's a great way to busy your way through to the end of the craziness of December. But, I digress... My students made paper gingerbread men to hang on our classroom door for a decoration and they had me giggling because each one seems to have a distinct personality that I think I can identify with depending on the day... which one are you today?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Test, Test, Test

That is the most frustrating thing about teaching in the public system in the US. When I was in Korea, we did some testing, focused WAY too heavily on academics and little to no services for students with any kind of special needs, but we didn't over test the children. We always had money (I know, it's easier to have cash when parents are paying ridiculous school tuition and fees) and resources coming out of our ears and the kids were exposed to some of the best stuff. We were made to work very hard as teachers in regards to creating curriculum, professional development, creating new and exciting ways to present the curriculum, and on and on... But, we were never expected to test and test and test the children. I teach Kindergarten and I am overwhelmed with all the testing (yes, paper tests) that is required for 5-6 year-olds. It is just INSANE!!! *sigh* Just need to get that off my chest. I don't know if the government really believes that stressing the children out will turn out a better education, but I don't... because it won't!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It is the Nor'easter's fault!

Yes, that's right, there is a historical Nor'easter hitting the Hampton Roads area where I currently live. The tides are at 6+ feet high and are expected to rise to a high tide of 7.5 feet by this evening which is close to what it was like during Hurricane Isabelle. There is tidal flooding and roads, bridges and tunnels are closed. This means that schools are closing all over the place. Now, there is no flooding in Williamsburg, but a whole lot of rain and wind. Williamsburg/James City County Schools are still in session today, but I work for York County School Division and some of our schools are closer to where all the flood action is, so they have closed our district for today. What a nice surprise for first thing in the morning!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Heartbreak and Reward of Teaching

Today I didn't have any students but was meeting with parents for conferences and was reminded about the heartbreak and rewards that come with this job. All of the parent's made me feel like what I do is important and that my time was valuable. I shared laughs and fun stories with all of them. We talked realistically about their child's academic and social struggles, we came up with solutions together and took a few moments to know each other as people. I know a lot of teachers struggle to enjoy the parents, but I really and truly do. I enjoy meeting them, talking with them, getting to know them and connecting with them as people. Some parents have infuriated me in the past for a variety of reasons but overall, I absolutely adore meeting them. In fact, I would say it is a reward of the job nine times out of ten.
But the heartbreak comes when you find out what some of your students have suffered in their little lives. Today, one of my parents shared with me what the child in their care has been through. It broke my heart but I felt so honoured and blessed that this parent would share with me so that I could better understand the child and their needs.
I've never done this job for the money... it has always been about the heartbreak and the rewards. I believe we are called to be broken for someone or something and I am broken for the children. I believe that my purpose in life is to love the unloved through teaching and working with kids. And it is a blessing to receive the rewards of their smiles, hugs, learning, respect etc. I love what I do and today I was reminded why.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 11

In Canada, November 11th is called Remembrance Day. It is the day that most Canadians don a red poppy and take a moment of silence to remember our service members and the losses our entire country has suffered over our history. Not being at home is always hard for me on days like this as I do value the service members greatly. So instead of wearing a poppy (which I can't find anywhere here), I am putting this post up in hopes that others will see it, take a moment and remember. Thank you Canadian Service Members... you are the backbone on which our freedom is carried!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Shack

I just finished reading this book and it rocked my socks. I know it is just a piece of fiction but it really spoke to my heart and I hope that others will take the time to read it and open themselves to what is really behind the moving story.

check it out at:

Monday, November 2, 2009


Okay, I like Halloween, but not quite as much as people here do. Have you heard of "booing" someone? Well I guess it's the thing to do and I kinda like it. Apparently, you make a basket of treats and there is a little cute poem (I am sure you could find it online with You also need to include a ghost sticker, picture or something for the person to post on their door after they've been booed. So once you have 2 of these baskets together, you anonymously deliver them to two people in your neighbourhood. Each recipient needs to then make two baskets of their own and give those away. Once you have been booed, you put the ghost picture in your window or door-way. Then you can't be booed again, or so the rules go. Neat, right? I love the concept... makes Halloween more about treating your neighbours and having fun. Apparently the booing begins at the beginning of October and runs until Halloween itself. Love it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Now, I don't know about you but when I see those three letters strung together, there is only one thing that pops in my mind... Shit Outta Luck. But that isn't what they stand for here in Virginia. They actually have educational meaning! Go figure. Here they stand of Standards Of Learning. And they are the prescribed learning outcomes for the state. There are many and they are long and often ambiguous... so I feel SOL sometimes in reaching them with some of my students, but there you have it... SOL... a whole new acronym!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Okay... apparently this bridge is a world wonder. It is over 17 miles long in each direction and has 4 man-made islands. It also has a heap of tunnels too. The pictures show you it all, but it doesn't tell you about the yummy in my tummy fried shrimp we ate at the first island, does it?! No! hahaha Jealous? Well, get on out here!

Harbour Cruise

See, I really was there. It was chilly and windy but it was worth it! Tons of fun! I recommend it to anyone out this way ever. Hope you enjoyed the pics. No real need for explanations.

Not So Far From Home...

Thanksgiving weekend for Canadians was this past weekend. You can check my cooking blog, COOK IT UP, for a show of what I tried to piece together as a meal but this blog is all about teaching and traveling. So I will be posting about 3 posts about that in regards to my Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. My friend, Jen who teaches in NC, came down and we decided to hang out in Norfolk, VA for the weekend. For some reason I am always more at home in a big city or a coastal town. Norfolk (or as pronounced by some of the locals: Naw-fuk), is a pretty cool version of both. It's a city but it isn't disgustingly large (which I do love, by the way), and it is right on the water. It's got it's scarier neighbourhoods and it has the glitzier sections too. We saw it all. I think Naw-fuk will always have a special place in my heart... hehehe Look at the other blogs for pictures of our harbour cruise as well as our trip out to the middle of the waterway.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back To School Night

Back to School Night is the night where all the parents are invited to come to the classroom after their children have been in school for a few weeks so that they can see how things are done. Most teachers dread the night because they have been in school all day and then they have to put in extra hours to make presentations and things for parents to take home. I, on the other hand, love this night. I use it as an opportunity to schmooze with the parents. I love to schmooze! I love to talk with parents, connect with them and get to know them as people, not just signatures on a page. I wish everyone looked at it that way, I think we'd have a lot more fun at these events. :) So teachers out there: have fun, put on a smile and get your schmooze on! And for you parents out there: have fun, put on a smile and make your teacher laugh!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Out and About in DC

I think this is the building for the Environmental Protection Agency. I just really liked the building. It was raining, so you can't quite see the glory of the building, but I hope you can see the beauty of it.

This is the front entrance of the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian. It is a beautiful building.

The memorial. We walked clear across the Mall to see it. Lyndsay knew just where to go to get this good shot. Hopefully another time, I'll go and see it closer up. I loved being in DC and can't wait to go again.

Another part of the Smithsonian. I believe it was one of the art museums. We didn't go inside this one, I am saving it for another time.

The red castle as it is called. Again, another part of the Smithsonian. There were so many buildings!! I think I'll have to go back several times to see all that I want to see.

The memorial from further back.

The red castle.

A carousel just by the red castle. It made me think of my childhood. I am so glad for things like carousels because children enjoy them still and make memories just as I did as a child. See, even though everything changes, some things remain the same and connect us together.

National Book Festival in Washington, DC

This is a picture of Judy Blume just before she signed my book. I was so excited to meet her. I waited for over an hour to have her sign my copy of her book Iggie's House. It's my favourite of her books as it addresses civil rights and the development of cross cultural and interracial friendships. It speaks of tolerance and I love that. Meeting her was such a thrill and worth the wait.

The book fair sign. I was just so excited to be there.

Not that you can really read all of this but it is a list of the authors that were there. I really only stood in Judy Blume's line but there were plenty that I wanted to meet... Nicholas Sparks, Paula Deen, David Shannon, Jodi Picoult, and more! What a great event but there are thousands and thousands of people present.

The tents where the authors sat to meet and greet their fans. There were 18 of these tents and then several tents where authors were making presentations to the public. There was a book selling tent as well and I believe there may have been a food tent. PBS also had a tent that was full of activities for kids and they even had book characters dressed up for kids to take photos with. Amazing... I don't think I'd do it again, but it was a blast to go just the once. The whole thing takes place on the mall in Washington, DC. It was a wonderful setting. Too bad it rained that day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Voices and Back To School Night!

This past week has been an interesting one for me. I feel like my students are finally catching on to most of what we have to do each day. They are getting into the routine of our schedule and I am figuring them out and what it is that they need. It's a good feeling for the third week of school! Next week should be even more interesting. We have a Back To School Night on Tuesday for the parents. I am excited for them to come into the room, to see what the kids have been doing and to see some of the improvements and growth in the students already. The only problem is that on Friday I woke up with no voice. I have a little bit of a sore throat and cough, but other than that and the lost voice, I really don't feel like anything is wrong with me. I feel good, in fact. Hopefully I will have my voice back for Tuesday because otherwise, I don't know how I will speak to the parents of my 18 students after having taught for a full day! Make it part of your prayers, people!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes

You know how people always tell you that kids say the funniest things? Well, they do! Today I heard one of my little kindy girls tell a little boy in another class that she couldn't marry him, she'd found someone else. Poor kid... dumped in the bus line by a fickle female. hahaha

Saturday, September 12, 2009

School or Wild?

So this didn't happen in my class or with my students or even when I was out on the playground, but it is worth writing about. Apparently a kindergarten student in one of the other 5 classes at my school decided that he could not wait to go inside to use the restroom. So he dropped trou. and headed to squat on the mulch in the playground. It was time for a number 2 I guess. As another teacher tried to get this child to pull up his pants a little something slipped out of his tush.... hahaha. So glad this wasn't my student... I'd be mortified having to pull up his pants, clean poop off the playground, keep other students from teasing the child in question and then having to tell the parents of that child so they can hopefully reinforce social norms. :)

Silver lining to the dark cloud of my class is that it wasn't this class!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 3... when will Day 180 get here?!

Is it too early to begin the countdown to the end?! I think so, but I am really struggling this year. I like the kids as people but as students... well, it is killing me. I've never had a group with so few skills and understanding. And when I say skills, I mean speaking in full words, sentences and intelligible type stuff. Walking, that's a skill that some seem to lack as well. *sigh* I might be exaggerating a little but I've never struggled like this. So if you are one who prays, get started... if you are not, start or send me lots of positive thoughts. So far, not only am I counting down to the end of this year, but to the end of my classroom time. I've never thought so seriously about it as I have in the last day or two...
I know it will get better, it has to!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day!!

Today was the first day of the 2009/10 school year for me. And it was a LONG day. I have the majority of the ESL students in Kindergarten (and one of them speaks no English at all) and a lot of kids that have had no school experience at all. So asking them to write their name on a paper or to color nicely was a huge challenge. But they are SUPER sweet and SUPER cute! I am exhausted after this first day but I am excited for what is to come. Stay tuned readers!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Open House

So today was the day to meet my little angels. It was a blast. They all came except one and they were so cute and sweet. I am really looking forward to next week when I get a chance to really talk with them and see what they are really capable of doing in the classroom. Days like today help me to be excited for the coming year. So the pictures here are of my classroom with our "Blasting Into Learning!" theme for this year. I think it's going to be a great year. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's all in a name...

So my classroom list is being compiled over these final days before the kids are arriving. And I love seeing all the names come up but my favourite one in a long time showed up on my list this year. I have to change the first name... but that part just doesn't matter... trust me.
So when students register their names at school they list the first, middle and last name. If a student doesn't have a middle name, that section is usually left blank. Well, one of my student's parents decided to write "no middle name" on that section. Funny all on it's own... but funnier when you read his full name (remember, the first name is the only one I changed and I promise I am NOT lying!!)

Paul no middle name Dang

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meetings, meetings, meetings

So as we begin our preparations for a new year with new students, we get the pleasure of attending tons of meetings. Normally I don't mind professional development sessions, but endless sitting for endless hours just seems inappropriate, especially when we are talking about engagement and rigor. The rigor we had... it was SO rigorous to sit for that long. It took all my energy and focus to just stay awake. So that was a challenge. I propose that there MUST be a better way to instruct educators and to help them prepare for the new school year. Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


My good friend April (April May is her blog) wrote a blog about her faith and observations on faith in general. I just loved it so much and then she put the above link in her blog so that others could read another blog about it. The blog asks the best question ever and provides no answers, just quandaries and the opportunity for you to think for yourself. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another Year in VA

So tomorrow I start back at my school for another school year. Another year of teaching Kindergarten which scares the pee pee out of me even though I've just finished a year and summer school with that age level. I am excited to get back to doing what I love and what I believe I am gifted at doing but it is amazing how much a 5 year old can scare you, especially when faced with 20 of them that you don't know.
Fortunately, I get 2 weeks to organize myself and prepare for the munchkins, who will arrive for class on September 8th. I know that once I am in the room, making lessons plans and preparing things for students to do, I will be fine... but the anticipation is the same every year... fear.
Bet you didn't think a 34 year old would be fearful of another year of teaching in her 11th year in the job. Well, surprise, surprise... I am...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Job Hunting

For most teachers, all they are thinking about at this time of year is getting ready for the kids to walk through the door, or if it is in an international setting, they are thinking about what to do with the kids that have already arrived. But this teacher (a.k.a. me) is thinking about her next job. I love the kids that I get to work with and some of the staff as well, but I do think it is time to move on to something or somewhere else. I've already posted my resume on the site and have even heard back from one interested school in Hong Kong. I'm not too sure where I'd like to go next exactly, but I know it needs to be a city. I loved living in the city of Seoul very much and would love to get back to that kind of lifestyle.
What kind of lifestyle is that you ask? The kind where you get dressed all pretty with your slick high heeled shoes and you walk to the main street and hop in a cab to meet your friends for dinner and the cab ride cost a reasonable amount. The kind where you can hop the bus or subway to just about every location you want to go. The kind where there are constant cultural and entertainment events going on all the time. The kind where a visit to an art gallery, museum, historical landmark or crazy market just seems like the most normal thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. The kind were traveling out of the city or country for the long weekend seems doable and affordable. The kind where the people you work with share the kind of experiences mentioned above with you and they understand you because they too have traveled and lived in random places. The kind where the city doesn't sleep and if you don't want to either, it's okay because there is a lot to do. That is the kind of lifestyle I miss, that is what I crave. I am not sure if the location or culture will matter too much, it's just the lifestyle or philosophy of living that I miss the most.
Don't get me wrong, Williamsburg, VA is a beautiful place to visit or even study in or spend a summer at, but it isn't the place that holds the lifestyle I miss so much, so it isn't the place for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So last week , as my few but loyal and lovely readers know, I went to Mexico for a wedding. The picture above is the wedding party. We were asked to run towards the bride and groom (Sophia and Stephen) in this shot. See all that gorgeous sand? What about the crystal clear turquoise blue water? Yes, that was where the actual wedding too place, right on the beach. I think it may be my favourite wedding so far because I was told that I couldn't wear shoes... Instead, I had to scrunch up my toes for the whole ceremony in the soft, cool sand. *sigh* It really doesn't get much better than that folks. Below are a few pictures of Mexico. Since I was there for a wedding and I only knew the bride and groom, I really didn't take a lot of pictures. They would have bored you anyway... shot after shot of palm trees, sand, surf and swimming pools... who wants to see that anyway?! hahaha

Yup... that's me, lounging poolside in my big girl bikini... wore it lots!! Eat your hearts out skinny and fearful women all over the planet! hehehe

View of the resort... I think there are 12 pools in total, 8 for adults and 4 that are shallow enough for the kiddies.

The beach from the Tulum ruins.

Part of the Tulum ruins... my favourite part. The building was gorgeous and even though it is hard to see if from this small pic, there was intricate details in the stone and red ochre hand prints at the top for decorative purposes... they have survived the centuries...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tomorrow I am getting on a flight to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico!! I simply cannot wait. I have had a very stressful year on all fronts and so this little vacation just couldn't come at a better time. I also have the honour and pleasure of standing up for my friend at her wedding. So I won't be blogging for the rest of this week. I will post pics of my trip on here once I get back. :)