Friday, May 29, 2009


Mom and Dad... you guys can stop worrying. Everything worked out very well with our jobs. I'm still employed.

I talked to Nicole and suggested the solution of merging the two similar classes. She was very happy and said it was a "brilliant" idea. She said normally the two types of classes I was suggesting would never be combined, but given the reasons I provided, and as long as it would make me happy, she'd do it.

Now we're headed off to a weekend-long retreat with our school. The goal is to get the foreign staff and Korean staff communicating more. I think there are tons of team-building activities and we're even going paint-balling. (I have to admit, I'm a little worried about that part.)

Anyway, it should be a good time and we'll be sure to take a lot of pictures!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I won the husband lottery

K: Things came to a head at work lately, and boy, do I have lucky to have such a great guy on my side. Basically, what happened is this... I'm already teaching 8-9 classes every day.  I was already feeling overworked and stressed as it was.

Then, 0ur hagwon owner decided to open another class and that I would give up my afternoon free periods on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to teach them. I'm usually the type to avoid any sort of confrontation, so I was upset, didn't know what to do, and even thought about quitting. So my knight on a white horse galloped up to save the day.

Today, Mark had a very long and serious talk with our boss, Nicole. He basically told her (in a very professional way) that my happiness is the most important thing to him and she needed to find another solution. He told her that my taking on extra work wasn't a possibility and if need be, the two of us would walk. (Wow!)

She seemed worried about that, and told me she wants to meet with me tomorrow. Mark and I talked for a long time tonight and came up with another possible solution of merging two classes to create an additional free period for me. 

I will meet with her bright and early tomorrow and hopefully the results will be good... Cross your fingers for me! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Representing the LOU!

All you St. Louisans will love this post! 

Check out this little guy... And please notice his shirt.

Want a closer view? Here ya go... 

All together now... MIZ...

Mark, especially, absolutely loved that. But when we thought it couldn't get any better, check out what he showed up in on Friday!

Isn't he a cutie? His name is June and he's in first grade. His family actually lived in Columbia Missouri for a little while and obviously he became a fan of the greatest teams in the country. Mark asked him where he got the Cardinals jersey and he said that his family took a trip to St. Louis and he went to a Cardinals game. When Mark asked if he had fun, he got a huge grin on his face and squealed... "YEAH!" He went on to say that he mostly liked the soda and nachos he had there. I have to agree... Busch Stadium has the best nachos ever! :)

My Birthday

This birthday post has been a long time coming. I just wanted to stretch my birthday out as long as possible. :)

My birthday was a lot of fun this year. I wasn't sure how it would be since I am so far from home, but my friends and family here in Korea made sure my day was perfect!

The days around the big 28 I was lucky to receive multiple cards and gifts in the mail from my family back home. (Thanks everyone! It made me feel so special to get things in the mail!)

Then, on my birthday... Mark and I started the morning by going to Paris Baguette for Breakfast. Paris Baguette is sort of like Korea's version of Panera Bread Company. Mmmm.

Then, when I got to school, some of the teachers: (from left to right) Anna, Chloe, and Robin surprised me with this really cute white purse and a plaid headband. I thought it was really sweet of them to remember me.

The rest of the day went pretty quickly, considering. Later in the day, all the teachers had a pizza party to celebrate my birthday. They even put candles in a pizza. Blowing out candles on a pepperoni pizza was definitely a first for me! Oh, and Mark had his entire kindergarten class sing happy birthday to me. Squeezable!

At the end of the school day, SangKwun came to Poly with Father to pick me up. We went to a really nice kalbi (beef BBQ) restaurant. 

Here are Mark and me at the restaurant.

Here I am with Father and SangKwun. They both flew to Korea specifically to celebrate the day with me.

Here's a shot of the dinner. The waitress cooked the meal for us. At the beginning of the meal, I noticed that Father tipped her 10,000 won (or about $10). No one tips in Korea, so she was extremely happy and barely left our sides the entire meal.

Then SangKwun presented me with a birthday cake. It was a very Korean cake, with a sweet potato filling. Sounds weird, but it actually tasted good! And I've discovered how Koreans remain thin -- when they cut the cake, they just cut one piece and all 4 of us shared it. Talk about an easy way to cut calories! Especially since I brought the remaining cake to school the next day to be devoured by the teachers. :)

Here I am blowing out the candles. We had a little disagreement on the NUMBER of candles to put on the cake though. The two tall candles stand for 10 a piece, then the small ones count the subsequent years. SangKwun insisted on 2 big and 9 small, since my Korean age is 29. But I wanted 28 as that's my American age and I don't think there's any reason to be any closer to 30 than necessary. Not surprisingly, the big brother won out and I celebrated my 29th birthday in Korea. 

SangKwun presented me with these adorable Puma sneakers. He said he chose them because he wants me to start working out. I think both sets of parents back home with get a kick out of that...

Here I am with all my birthday loot. Father gave me the beautiful flowers.

All in all, it was a wonderful birthday that I will not soon forget.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Am So Blessed

It's late, so I'm not going to post my pictures right now. But suffice to say that I had a wonderful birthday. It's crazy that I can be on the other side of the world -- away from all my family and friends -- and still feel so loved. Besides being remembered by everyone back home, my new friends and family here in Korea ensured that today will be a day I will never forget.

Thank you so much to everyone. I love you all and truly feel blessed to have such a great support network of caring people both back home and abroad.

I will post pictures and more details of my day soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Four Day Weekend

It's Tuesday night and we have just finished our four day weekend.  While it would have been nice to travel somewhere for those days, I am glad that we didn't.  The extended weekend allowed us to visit places around Seoul that we do not normally have time for.  We did not go anywhere new but instead revisited some of our favorite places around the city.  

Due to some personal reasons, one of our co-workers, Leo, is leaving Poly.  He was a great guy and well liked by the entire staff.  We'll all miss him.  Some of us decided to take him out on Friday night for a few drinks.  It ended up being a great night.  In the picture below is the man of the hour, Leo, along with Kerry who you have probably seen on this blog before.

In the picture below, you will see Sam on the far right.  He is new to Poly and he has fit in quite nicely.  He actually invited Kim and I over to his apartment so he could cook us dinner. His job at Poly is to help us communicate with the parents of the kids that we teach in the afternoon.  His English is perfect since he studied in Australia for a couple of years.  You would be amazed at the amount of complaints that Poly gets about such trivial stuff.  I actually had a parent call up and complain that I used a black pen when I wrote in her son's journal.  She told Poly that she only wants me to use red ink.  Anyway, I think that Sam will be a great resource in the future for the teachers. 

The picture below is called a "Love Shot".  You can see Korean couples doing it at bars.  I do not see the point.  

Pictured below from left to right is Chris (a teacher from Canada), Sam (previously mentioned above) and another new Poly employee, Hansen.  He is taking over for Leo and he, too, is a great guy.  I think that he is still getting adjusted to the kids and the noise that they produce.  He came from the corporate world so this is all new to him just like it was for Kim and me.  He actually went to school at Maryland and worked in the states for a few years as an IT programmer.  His English is perfect too, which was evident when we went to a karaoke bar and sang Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" without missing a beat.  Sam is also a good singer but he chose songs like "Barbie Girl."  Honestly, it was kind of weird.

Kim and I attended another wedding on Saturday.  This one was for one of the Korean teachers, Irene.  Neither one of us have talked with her much since her English is not that great and we cannot hold a conversation in Korean.  She is very nice from what I can tell and the wedding was a lot of fun.  We got to meet her husband and we found out that he is a minister.  I am jealous of both of them because they are on their Honeymoon at a beach in Vietnam.  Below is a picture of the chapel.

Just another picture of Kim and I.  Kim is sporting a newly purchased dress that she has been freaking out about wearing.  She was actually suppose to wear it last week but chickened out at the last second.  I thought she looked great.

Below is a picture of the bride and groom. 

This is a picture of Anne, Kim's co-teacher in the mornings.  That is her son and he was hilarious.  Every time his mom looked away he bolted to go play around somewhere.  He was very energetic.  

For dinner that night, Kim and I went to the Noryangin Fish market again.  I had a craving for crab legs.  This was the first time we have gone there without a Korean speaker so we were a little nervous but we were able to manage.  We ordered one crab and twenty shrimp and it was delicious.  After dinner we met up with Dennis and Chris, two of Sang Kwan's friends from grade school, at chicken restaurant.  I wasn't really that hungry, but this place has great fried chicken so the four of us split an order.  The weather has been getting very nice over the last week so Kim and I decided to walk home from there.  It was a straight shot to our apartment and it was only about a 15 minute walk.

Sunday morning Kim and I decided to visit the Apgujeong area.  It is located in central Seoul just south of the river on Line #3.  The area is famous for its shopping and "Rodeo Drive" which is loaded with shops, restaurants and bars.  I guess it was our lucky day because we stumbled upon and great breakfast place that serves pancakes and waffles all day long.  They actually have a combo deal where you can get a Belgian waffle, pasta, and a dessert.  I am not sure why anyone would want to mix those two.  My Mom will love it because they have an "organic" section on the menu.

I went with the Banana Nut Waffle.  It had carmel sauce drizzled over it.  I was in heaven.

Kim chose the pecan pancakes.  We also had a side of hash browns and bacon.  

The next day, Kim and I trekked up to Insadong to look for Mother's Day presents.  I cannot say what we purchased since we have not mailed them off yet.  The area is loaded with great restaurants.  The architecture of the restaurants are very different then what you normally see because most of them are renovated homes.  We were able to get a seat in the courtyard at the place we chose.

We decided upon haemuldukbokgi (which is a spicy dish with seafood, veggies and rice cakes).  One of the Korean teachers told us about this dish and I love it.  It is fairly spicy, but then again pretty much everything in Korea is spicy.  At the end of our meal, a family from France came sat in the courtyard.  They looked every bit the part.  Kim and I both wished Dad could be there to talk with them.  I think they were a little nervous about ordering and wanted to get our advice but I do not believe they could speak English that well.

 I was hungry and forgot to take a picture of the dish before we ate it but this is kind of what it looks like.

After buying some lavish gifts for our mothers, we decided to find a coffee shop so we could sit and read.  We found this nice place located on the 2nd floor of a building that had window seating.  Below are the pictures of the view.  It was very relaxing since there was a nice breeze flowing in.

Last night we were invited to a small party at Chris's friend Mike's house.  I am extremely jealous of his place.  It is 2 stories with 4 bedrooms and two full bathrooms.  He also has a roof top where he can BBQ.  He lives there with his fiancee, Chan, who you can see in the picture below.  Mike and Chan are getting married in June at a city just outside of Seoul.  We were actually invited to it last night so you will being seeing more wedding pictures in the future.

Below is a picture of Kim, Jade (Chris's girlfriend), and Chan (the bride-to-be).

That is pretty much it.  Today we did not do much except go see the new Wolverine movie which was unbelievable!  I suggest you go see it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Children's Day party

In Korea, Children's Day is basically like another Christmas for kids. They get a day off school, get gifts from their parents, and basically get to celebrate being children. 

Since next Tuesday is Children's Day in Korea, Poly had a Children's Day party for the kids on Friday afternoon. 

As a gift, all the kids got a bag of candy and these cute t-shirts with their pictures on them. I got one too, that I will proudly wear.

Here are Benedict and Brian, clearly very excited about the party.

Here are the girls modeling their t-shirts.

We painted the kids' faces and had a dance party in the library. Imagine 50 kids doing the YMCA... yeah, it was pretty awesome. Here's Mark dancing with Andy. Do you see the snail on Andy's cheek? That was my little masterpiece.

Here's a closer view of my artwork. Bad pic of Andy, but he kept blinking every time I took a picture, so I have about 12 pictures of him with his eyes closed.

And here's the cutest face painting of the day. Our little Max the mouse... or cat...

Hope everyone has a wonderful Children's Day -- May 5th! Personally, I'm most excited about the time off. Oh and May 7th is Teacher's Day... we don't get a day off school, but I'm told the teachers get presents. Woohoo!