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Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

When my kindergarten class began studying science and social studies, their craft class on Friday was taken away, much to my utter sadness. However, it was reinstated for the month of December to create decorations for the seasonal party. My spirits were lifted once more — the children would cultivate their creativity!

Of course, finding Christmas crafts on the Internet is like trying to choose what to eat at The Cheesecake Factory — the menu is so overwhelmingly large that somewhere you get lost amid the factory combinations and the appetizer salads.

No matter though — I knew roughly what kind of things I wanted to make, and it was all about using my head (and the supplies in the closet at school).

On week one, the kiddies and I made wreaths. I cut the center out of paper plates and spent the first of my craft classes having the children glue different shades of green paper all over the plate. When they had finished that, I allowed them to use Elmer’s glue (mistake: very messy) to put on different color sparkles.

Afterward, I used a hot glue gun to attach a red bow to each “leafy” ring.

It was a relatively successful craft, although the gems didn’t stay on that well with the glue and by the end I had lots of wreaths with dried glue dots all over them. Oh well.

Week two we decided to make snowmen, which were relatively simple. I simply traced three different sized circles on white poster board, had the kids glue them together and color as they pleased.

A few things happened that day — one girl had a meltdown and started bawling because her first snowman was “ugly” and I had run out of paper. This prompted a Korean teacher to hurry and make her a new template.

The children sang Frosty the Snowman while they worked on their frozen friends, which I thought was really cute. After that came Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which was also fun. Then I saw what some students had written on the backs of their snowmen, where I told them to pen their names.

I thought this was funny, because it sounded like an advertisement for a snowman movie.

This was a little creepy and a lot funny. I realized he was trying to say that his snowman was “coming to town,” but my mind couldn’t help but wander straight to snow demons with razor-sharp teeth who try to stab you with their carrot nose. Creepy.

Our third craft I decided to make a communal work of art, since we were pressed for time. I made four cones out of poster board paper, then covered them in green tissue to make them look like Christmas trees. The kids got glue sticks, sequins, feathers and free reign to decorate.

All in all, the room turned out beautifully decorated.

Evan’s room looked fantastic too — his kids made snowflakes, gingerbread men and elves. The only downfall for him was making the mistake of putting glitter on the snowflakes, aka the most difficult thing to clean up ever. He spent a good half hour vacuuming up the itty bitty sparkles.

I may try to sneak a few more crafts in before I leave :)

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After the serious shenanigans at the school Christmas party, I was really looking forward to a few song-and-dance free holiday celebrations with my good friends, cousin Tim and Evan. Ask and you shall receive!

On Friday, Evan and I put together a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner consisting of scrumptious fried chicken, cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce sent from home and steamed broccoli.

I cooked the stuffing on the stove, then transferred it to the toaster oven to crisp up a bit. I also popped the chicken in the oven for a bit to warm it up, oh man was it good. We bought the bird from E-Mart and did not regret the decision to go precooked. It was spicy, seasoned perfectly and the crunchy texture was a nice contrast to the tender broccoli and soft stuffing.

Of course, there were holiday songs playing while I cooked, and the presents were stacked under the plant :) Tim arrived that night, and after we filled our bellies we met up with some friends for beers at the Beatles bar. There, we were able to see our friends play some live Christmas music, which was a nice treat.

The party continued into the wee hours of morning at Radio Star (with more live music and beer, obvi)

On Christmas morning (afternoon) when we rolled out of bed, I got to work mixing some delicious lemon-ginger scones sent by the Naylon family in an amazing care package full of yumminess (including gorgeous jewelry and the ingredients for some seriously delicious polenta cakes we made). What a wonderful Christmas treat — thank you!

Evan had to open one present early (coffee from Starbucks) so it could brew, and Tim showed us one of his gifts also — WIRELESS INTERNET! Best gift ever! No more being a slave to the cord.

We ate the scones with eggs and slurped coffee while we watched Home Alone. I forgot how awesome that movie was.

After a cat nap and a shower, we threw together mashed sweet potatoes and gravy, then hurried out of the apartment to Beatles, where we were meeting friends for a potluck holiday dinner.

We hit the street just in time to see a flurry of snow fall from the sky. A white Christmas! I whooped and hollered, taking lots of pictures and even a video. Snow is still novel to me, okay?

The spread at the potluck was insanely good. The star of the table was the turkey from Costco — a rare and expensive find here, so I was grateful for every tryptophan-laced bite.

The sides ranged from vegetables and stuffing, to potatoes and bread, to onion dip, bread and cheese! It was a delectable feast that I grazed at all night. It had been so long since I had onion dip, so I was majorly hooked on it, and only stopped trying to scrape up the last gobs from the bowl when it was, sadly, removed from the table.

I opted for red wine with my dinner, but was in for another treat when Eric brought homemade eggnog. Amazing. It was so good! Just like Lyndon’s mulled wine/brandy, a Scottish traditional drink.

The layout was perfect for a holiday meal, with comfortable couches littered around the place and cheery carols on the speakers.

At one point, Tim got into an amusing Go Stop marathon with a lovely girl we met their, Jasmine.

They were pretty evenly matched, but Jasmine took Tim in the end (and the 8,000 won that was at stake on the card game). You win some, you lose some.

I particularly enjoyed singing carols onstage at one point, crooning and laughing into the mic. Dave took care of the guitar!

All night the snow didn’t stop falling, and a few times I caught myself in a trance, hypnotized by the soft, slow flakes that glided gently to the ground. It was picturesque, simply stunning, and mesmerizing.

After our bellies were full and the food was put away, we decided to throw on our dancing shoes and head to M2, a relatively new club in Cheonbukdae.

We went with a few friends, and met up with a few at the club!

The place was seriously poppin’ — Christmas isn’t so much a family holiday in Korea, so the twenty-somethings had no qualms about hitting the dance floor on Jesus’ birthday. While we were there, three different deejays took the turntables, and they were all awesome.

Here’s clown face spinner — a little creepy but spins really well.

We stumbled out of the club into the snow after 4 AM, then headed straight for KFC for some fried chicken. nom nom nommm.

A very Merry, and certainly memorable, Christmas <3

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There is nothing more gluttonous, tragic, hyperactive and awesome as a school Christmas party.

Today started out like any other day… minus the fact that we got to skip two hours of kindergarten in the morning :) We were supposed to wake up “early” and go to the gym, but had trouble leaving our bed before 11. Evan blames my mom, who sent us the most heavenly flannel sheets. They make getting out of bed, especially when the window is frosted over because of the cold, near impossible.

We got to school at 1:30, and spent the afternoon with our elementary students. Classes ended at 6 (a half hour early, yay) so we could prepare for the kindergarten Christmas festivities, which began promptly at 6:30.

Some of the elementary crowd, who hung around to watch their younger siblings put on a show, complained of hunger immediately following class. Some Hello Kitty candies helped subdue their famine.

I was designated the job of handing out pamphlets to parents as they walked into the school, bowing and greeting them with a grin and a perky “Merry Christmas.” As I stood, smiling at the flood of families that waltzed through the door, I couldn’t help but think of my own family. The past two years, Christmas has been filled with warmth and love, with both my family and Evan’s. Christmas meant pajamas all day, drinking lots of wine, cooking amazing food, reading stories, sharing traditions, giving and receiving gifts and most importantly, spending a lot of lazy time with the people you love.

Even though I can’t physically be with either of my families this holiday season, I felt really blessed to be able to spend the holidays with my beloved students and their parents, bursting with pride at seeing their little ones singing songs, acting in the play, reading stories or giving presentations. It made me not feel sad to be here, just grateful to be included in an intimate celebration.

After I handed out programs, I joined the teachers and the children in the “green room” to help prepare the kiddies for their turn onstage. It was then — 15 minutes before the first song/dance performance — that the foreign teachers were told that we were expected to sing and shake it with the children. Greeeeaaaaat. I believe Evan’s exact words were, “Thanks so much for the warning.”

Here is Evan warming up.

Needless to say, we were a disaster onstage. Not only did we flub all of the dance moves, but I admittedly don’t know all of the words to some classic Christmas jams. I stood in the back left of the “stage,” a fortunate position as I could watch what all the kids were doing and do my best to imitate their actions. Evan was less fortunate, being in the front left, so he couldn’t see the dance moves without turning and staring at the kids next to him.

It was beyond mortifying to wiggle our butts and belt out words to Christmas carols, and I would have been royally pissed if I didn’t think the whole thing was hilarious. A few times I actually laughed out loud during the song, but luckily my giggles were drowned out by the screeching tots.

The frosting on the cake was when we would mess up the choreography, because not only was it completely undignified for us to be dancing and singing in the first place, but the teachers should not be the ones messing up the moves. I felt like that kid in the recital who looks like they wandered onto stage by accident, staring at the audience like a deer in headlights, motionless aside from all of the moves that they’re doing two beats too late. I was never that kid in dance class, but somehow I managed to be the 25-year-old onstage looking like an idiot with a bunch of two to seven year-olds. Fabulous.

At one point, we had to play pin-the-balloon-tail-on-the-child, which was an adventure, especially for the kids who were at certain points screaming their heads off, pushing other kids to the ground, or hiding under the table, growling and pretending to be a tiger. They needed their balloon “tails” for when they wriggled their hips to Jingle Bell Rock. I spent most of my time “backstage” being utterly useless, laughing my ass off and taking adorable pictures of the kids.

Not only are the kids cute beyond words, but they also learn at an early age to throw up the double peace sign and a wink for pictures. Priceless.

Oh, and we had to wear Santa hats for the sing-along too. Some of them had these crazy white braids (seriously, WTF) and one boy in my class had one that was about three sizes too small. I made him keep on the doll-sized cap until I could get a picture of his head squeezing into it. More giggles ensued after said picture, sometimes I act so immature.

When the presentation was finally over, it was time to eat. The platters of food were brought out, and we got right to work on them. I probably ate one too many pieces of pizza, and packed away more kimbap than was necessary. I was stoked on the spread until I saw one kindergartener coughing on it, and realized with a heavy heart that his phlegm fit, while being the only one I noticed, was certainly not the only one that had taken place. Sigh.

The spread was incredible though, having more food than the crowd could possibly put away. I expect some sugar-induced craziness that was on display at the Halloween party, but surprisingly I didn’t witness any banchee behavior.

It was while pecking at the food on the various tables that I realized chopsticks really are the most ideal utensil to use on a communal spread. They are more sanitary than grabbing with grubby hands (duh) and actually spread less germs than spoons or forks, if you consider that western-style utensils are slathered with more saliva than chopsticks, which are more used to drop large portions of food into an open mouth. I took a mental note for future cocktail parties.

Evan and Greg put on Santa costumes after the potluck was over, and handed out presents to the children. The gifts had been brought in by parents the week before, and it was really fun to see the children receive exactly what they wanted from Father Christmas himself. Even though most of them greeted the men in red suits as Evan Teacher or Greg Teacher. At one point, Soo Min was asked to say “Merry Christmas” to “Santa” and she turned, gave Evan a dubious look, and said, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Evan.” A hilarious, albeit slightly sad and jaded, holiday greeting.

Ev and Greg made good Santas. They handed out lots of goodies that made the boys and girls very happy :)

We also made treat bags for our little ones for this special holiday. We handed them out at the party, seeing as we won’t see the little ones until Monday, and hit a small snag with our elementary school students who also wanted treats from us. Doh. We told them we’d bring them chocolate and candy canes tomorrow, which appeased their aching sweet teeth (for now).

I had a few lovely conversations with the parents of my students, and felt really touched upon hearing how pleased they were with my teaching methods, how happy the kids were and how much their English has improved over the past eight months. It made me think about how much I was going to miss my kiddos come April.

After the last songpyeon was devoured, and Christmas gift torn open, the number of guests dwindled as they carried their sleepy, sugar-stuffed children home to bed. The teachers gave the hagwon a scrub down — Rachel and I cleaned the tables while the boys handled the ancient vacuum cleaners.

After that, we enjoyed beer and leftover snacks with our fellow staff members, celebrating a successful and crazy evening.

Now we’re home, snickering at viral videos of Hitler finding out there’s no Santa Claus, snuggling on the couch and wondering how on earth Christmas Eve has snuck up on us. I was feeling sentimental, so I searched for one of my favorite Christmas songs online. The first video I found brought tears to my eyes.

Celtic Woman is simply amazing. Their voices and the violin together create such a seamlessly beautiful melody that is quite enchanting (and videos are nothing compared to their live performances). Watching this brought a rush of memories back — standing in my stiff, itchy dress at Christmas mass, my overwhelming happiness and joy for the holiday helping me to overcome the physical discomfort of my “dressy” clothes, singing my heart out in the choir, staying awake until my eyelids felt like lead, excited for the return of Santa, helping my dad prepare food for the family Christmas party, waltzing with my sisters in our pajamas as we waited for my parents to rouse on Christmas morning, tearing open stockings with anticipation, curling up next to the roaring fire, watching my nieces struggle to open their own gifts, spending the holiday at the Naylon house and feeling right at home, cooking and chatting with Steve and KayDe, reading The Polar Express and ringing bells on Christmas Eve, making four quiches for Christmas brunch, experimenting in the kitchen with my dad, snuggling under the sheets and comparing books with my mom, guzzling mimosas with my sisters (when they weren’t pregnant), throwing the dice and shouting at family members as we vied for wrapped gifts during the dice game… this song embodied Christmas for me. Everything I hold dear, all the cliches that are true about the holidays.

Reminiscing fills me with joy for these next two days <3 Merry Christmas everyone

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I am oh-so-lucky to be a Paradise.

Not even one week after my sister and Evan’s brother/sister-in-law sent us goodies in the mail, I received another huge holiday package from my mama <3 I am so spoiled!

This package came with a wide variety of items, including:

– walnuts

– peanut butter (more! yay!)

three different kinds of chocolate covered pretzels (Evan’s favorite)

– two different kinds of beef jerky

– snap pea crisps (yum… yummmmm)

– Cheetos (my serious Achille’s heel)

– dried mango and blueberries

– a make-your-own gingerbread man kit (yay! Christmas activity!)

– arborio rice (risotto time)

– chocolate covered fruit

– chocolate toffee

– incense

– stickers/pencils/goodie bags for the kiddies :)

– smarties

– a thermal for Ev

– wool sockies

– flannel sheets (these will be so nice — I’ve been sleeping in sweatshirts!)

The Girl Who Played with Fire (YES! YES! I’ve wanted this since finishing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

The package couldn’t have come at a better time — I have come down with a nasty cold/fever and went to the doctor for another shot, IV and more medication. The good doc said I need to have a lot of bed rest… after school, of course :) An additional package came today from my seester, filled with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the final book in Steig Larsson’s trilogy. I can’t wait to start reading!

So while Christmas festitivies continue around the world, I will be here, snuggled in my new sheets, reading my new books and eating a plethora of snacks. Thank you so much for the lovely gifts — I miss you mama and dad.

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Ah, the winter blues.

Sure, the weather has gotten icy and the days shorter, but what is really causing a grey cloud over my head is the Christmas cheer surrounding me. Bah, humbug.

I’m not normally such a Grinch, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. All of the holly wreaths, flickering trees and creepy robot Santas in the neighborhood have failed on filling me with the holiday spirit. We even watched an episode of Glee this week dedicated to the jolly season, and it left us feeling depressed that we weren’t watching it at home. With a tree. Family. I even put on some of my own Christmas tunes to wallow to for an hour or so.

I have to be honest, it was a bit pathetic.

This morning, the air was crisp but the sun was shining, and stepping outside it was destined to be a good day.

After arriving to school, drinking our first cups of green tea and getting to work on a crossword puzzle (standard), Evan found not one but two packages for us on the front desk. Hurray! Christmas had come at last.

Side note: This is not to insinuate that Christmas = presents to me, because it’s not the case! I’m merely suggesting a taste of home made the holiday that much better.

We are so spoiled by our siblings. The first package we busted open was courtesy of Evan’s brother Pat and his wonderful wife Crystal.

The two of them sent us a plethora of goodies from the Bay Area, including:

– monterey jack and pepper jack cheese. I DIE!

– refried beans, tortillas and green chilies (the fixings for some serious taco making)

– funfetti brownie mix! (and to think I nearly forked over $8 for sad, ready-to-make cookie mix at a foreigner store here)

– macaroni and cheese… I’ve got the bluuuues

– penne pasta

– Jell-o!

– Reese’s cups, Swedish fish, Sour Patch Kids, M&M’s … by the time we had brought the stuff home, we were already grubbing on the peanut butter cups and sour candies

– Santa pez :)

– Nutella

– Dunkin’ Donuts coffee

– Giants World Series shirt (yay SF)

and a wonderful Christmas card :)

Meanwhile, Katie sent us some love from L.A.

In her care package, there was:

– cornbread stuffing mix, cranberry sauce and gravy (Christmas dinner written all over it!)

– peppermint pretzel slims

– chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels (oh me oh my this was always my guilty pleasure from Trader Joe’s)

– refried beans and taco seasoning (do you think people know I miss my Mexican food?)

– peanut butter

– emergen-c (sooo stoked for this! those little kiddies won’t get me sick!)

– a turquoise bikini for Thailand (which fits beautifully and is much nicer than my grotsky old striped bikini)

– a black sun dress

– a nice waterproof windbreaker

– black BDG pants from Urban Outfitters (fit like a glove, oh yeah)

and a lovely card that reminded me just how much I miss my seester.

And just like that, my heart grew three sizes bigger with the spirit of Christmas today. I sailed through my classes with a smile, did my thing at the gym, came home to cook a lovely Mexican meal with the man and watch Top Chef.

Christmas isn’t where you are, but who you’re with and who you send love to during the season (even if it is through the mail). Those packages lifted our spirits more than any of you can imagine. We are so lucky, and so blessed by the people we love.

Thank you, thank you … we are so spoiled!

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