Category: baby

Christmas break part 2

We returned from New Jersey a few days before New Year’s Eve.  But was that enough traveling for me??  Oh no, Miss Glutton-for-punishment still had over a week of traveling remaining.  My parents dropped me off in Atlanta; while they went on to Birmingham to spend New Year’s Eve with old family friends, I hopped on a bus and went down to Orlando to spend it with new ones.

My good friend Sarah (the same one whose wedding I was in in October) moved to Texas shortly after her wedding.  Her sister, Hannah, with whom I also got very close over the wedding weekend, lives in North Carolina.  However, it just so happened that they were both (along with their husbands, of course ;]) in Orlando, visiting their parents.  So, I told myself, what better time to visit!  Kill several birds with one stone – go to 1 place and get to see several good friends who are normally scattered all over the country! 🙂  And so it was that I arrived in Orlando on the evening of the 29th.

From the moment I arrived until my departure, it was nonstop mayhem.  Now, please do not mistake me; mayhem is not always meant in a pejorative sense, and in this particular instance it’s definitely meant in a positive light.  While we were almost constantly doing something the entire 6 days that I was there, they were all wonderful things.  I had a lovely time reconnecting with this wonderful family; the only downside was that as my sleep deprivation increased throughout the week, so did my irritability – it had reached a critical level by the end of the week.  Sleep must be a priority for both my happiness and the happiness of those around me, lol.  🙂

But anyway, a few highlights from the week:

We went to Busche Gardens my first full day in Orlando.  What a place!  Where else in the world can you find giraffes, hippos, and lions (both real and topiary), water rides and roller coasters, trains and zip lines, Egyptian artwork, ice skating performances by world-class skaters, singing and dancing performances, dippin’ dots and spanish empanadas….and I’m sure I’m forgetting a myriad of other things, too…all in one place??  It was a lot of fun – like a grown-up playground.  And then, I’m sure completely out of concern for our well-being, the park employees even threw in a built-in workout!  Many of the rides were closed, so we ended up walking a lot more than we had expected to ;).  So yeah…..that may have been a bit frustrating, but it really was a lovely day – definitely a bonding experience for us all ;).

The whole gang at Busche Gardens!

Fantastic ice skating performance!

Water rides in January….they’re crazy!!

Left to right: Hannah, Josh, Jon, Sarah, and Donnie

For New Year’s Eve, we had a wine and bread tasting party.  There were some incredibly exotic (and, I’m sure, expensive) wines that made appearances.  It almost made me wish that I enjoyed alcohol!  But nevertheless, the bread was super yummy, and the company lovely; I made it just long enough to watch the ball drop, and then went home and went to bed :).

The Reichel’s have a New Year’s Day tradition in which they go to a famous pancake house for breakfast on the first of the year, so this year they brought me along with them.  It’s apparently really famous – there was an hour and a half wait – but there was a little lake and place where you could walk around, so it wasn’t hard to amuse ourselves.  I even got a photo-op with a couple of planes!! 🙂

Check out the sunlight, and the Spanish moss, and the leaf in the foreground…I’m particularly proud of this picture 🙂

The whole gang at the pancake place

Sarah and I went on a bike ride one morning, and then had breakfast at Panera’s.  With all of the craziness and people coming and going throughout the week, it was so wonderful to be able to have 2 whole hours of uninterrupted time with her.  Definitely just what my heart needed :).

Jonathan and I saw Les Miserables together, and then met Hannah and her husband Josh and a friend at a portable ice skating rink.  It was fun, although I must admit also rather disconcerting to be ice skating when the outside temperature had to have been in the 60’s.

Me, Jon, Hannah, and Josh at the skating rink

Check out their awesome golf-cart zambini!! 

The night before I left (my birthday!), we went to an Irish pub in downtown Disney.  It was not my first choice for celebrating my birthday, but it also happened to be Josh’s birthday, and he was really dead-set on going, so in the interest of keeping the peace I went along with them.  It ended up being pretty cool – there were live musicians and Irish dancers, the food was delicious, and the band even sang for Josh and me to wish us happy birthday!  But by that point, I was so dead tired, I probably would have been just as happy doing nothing and just going to bed, lol.

I got a birthday candle and ice cream!! 🙂

My departure from Orlando was a little more exciting than I would have liked.  There were 4 accidents on the highway to the bus stop, and the traffic was so backed up that I ended up missing my bus.  We were within half a mile of the station, in standstill traffic, so I got out and started running on the highway in a desperate rush to get there on time – it was something straight out of a movie!  Just picture me, running along the shoulder, my jeans wet almost to my knees from the drizzling rain, with Jon running behind me in his dress shoes and slacks pulling my roller bag, scrambling like mad people to catch the bus…ut alas, it was all for naught, and I still missed it.  But I am blessed with wonderful friends who offered to drive me on to my next destination – Jacksonville – and so the journey continued.

I was only in Jacksonville for a few days – my pastor from Korea and his family were there, and his wife had planned a surprise birthday party for him.  So I showed up for a few days to celebrate with them and to see the whole family.  It was so good to see them – definitely made me nostalgic for Korea again, though!

Beautiful shot of a park that we visited

Me and baby Zamanta!  She was a newborn when I left Korea!! 🙂

All of this time spent with other people’s families was wonderful, but by the end of the week, I was definitely ready to get back to my own.  No matter how welcoming people may be, it’s never the same as spending time with your own family! 🙂  So I came back to Albany for a day, had dinner with my family, collected my stuff, and then headed back up to Atlanta and started classes the next day!  And moving back to Atlanta…..well that’s a whole new adventure in itself!  Stay tuned!

Spring has sprung

Wow.  The last few days have been such a blur.  Spring has officially sprung here in Gyeongju, and I’ve been making the most of the beautiful weather.  I shall have to go with the reader’s digest version, since I still have lesson planning to do tonight and sleep is closing in on me fast.

Last week I only taught on Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday I had off – the students had some sort of test; I never really know the reasons for why I get days off when I do, lol.  But anyway, whatever the reason, I had no class, so I had 2 glorious days of nothing to do.  On Thursday I went to school, although I didn’t teach.  Thursday was the day of the school English festival – “Sunnies’ Festival,” as it is called here.  I shall forever refer to it affectionately as the Day of Mass Chaos.  All day, plans, locations, events, everything was constantly changing on the spur of the moment.  That would have been stressful enough; but the real problem was that all of the last-minute decisions were made after a flurry of hurried conversation in Korean.  Which means that I was left mostly in the dark.  Which wouldn’t have been horrible; except I was running a couple of the events.  Yeah.  Not cool.  But I managed, made it through the morning, and then was left the afternoon to simply enjoy the rest of the festivities.  There was a pop song competition that a lot of students performed it – that was really fun to watch.  Check out the top 3 dances in the videos below, along with some pictures.  The highlight for the students was when they dragged a bunch of teachers up on stage after the performances (myself included), and made them dance improv.  Hmph.  I’m still trying to figure out if I enjoyed it or was traumatized by it.  But judging from the number of comments I got from students afterwards, I would say that doing the robot with the principle was definitely a success ;).

Part 1: mass chaos

Part 2: mass chaos compounded

Part 3: random jump-rope competitions…what??

Thursday was rounded out by a parent-teacher dinner.  I was shocked to find out that apparently my host mother is the president of the parent-teacher association, and dismayed when she started pressuring me to sing karaoke – introducing myself in Korean in front of the entire room was just about enough cultural bravery as I could handle for one night.  But I got a good meal out of the evening, and was able to escape with a fellow teacher before the singing started, so it all turned out ok :).

Me with some of my co-workers

Friday was another school event, the annual school “picnic.”  This was another source of confusion, as we were originally going to all walk together to Gyeongju World (a small amusement park); for some reason the school had decided that it is a valuable tradition to make everyone walk the 2-hour or more walk to Gyeongju World for the school picnic.  But then Thursday night, it was decided by someone that we would walk to the Expo park this year instead; then we were taking buses; then we were going to Gyeongju world again, but this time taking buses instead of walking; in the end, it was finally decided the morning of that everyone would just meet at the theme park, using whatever method of transportation they wanted to use.  The last minute plans were difficult to stay on top of with my limited Korean, but in the end I was very grateful to not have to walk all the way there :).  And I had a lovely time, too – a group of students claimed me as “theirs” for the day, so we hung out together and rode all of the rides and everything.  It was fun :).

The view from the top of the ferris wheel

I don’t know these students.  They’re 3rd graders – I’ve never taught them.  But they wanted a picture with “Teacher,” so they grabbed me, and I obliged 🙂

Creeper shot….she was too adorable to ignore 😉

Some of my precious students from winter camp.  I don’t teach them anymore, so it was good to see them.. We rode the bus home together 🙂

Saturday, my friend Lin and I decided kind of last-minute to go cherry-blossom hunting.  Gyeongju is famous for its cherry trees – there are thousands and thousands of them scattered throughout the city, when they’re in bloom they really are extraordinarily pretty.  However, the blossoms only bloom for about a week out of the year, so once they start you’ve got to take advantage of it!  So we rented bicycles and just rode around the city, hitting all of the cherry blossom “hot spots.”  Apparently half of South Korea had the same idea as us.  The streets were jammed with cars.  I’m talking apocalyptic evacuation, city traffic after a GA Tech / UGA football game.  Major, major traffic.  I was exceedingly grateful that I was not stuck in a bus.  But we were on bikes, so we avoided the traffic and got to take lots of lovely pictures :).

Epic bikes!  Notice the basket in front :).  Also notice the pink frame, shirt, and pants….**facepalm**

One of my favorite shots… 🙂

Lover’s lane…absolutely gorgeous! 🙂

Festival time!

Yay for picnics!! 🙂

I’m throwing a handful of blossoms into the air…can you see it? 🙂

The only decent shot I got at night….

Sunday, to round out the weekend, I went to church.  I was joined by my friend Lorna, who I had met last year at the church retreat in Daegu.  We hadn’t seen each other for a while, but she came to town to visit this weekend, so we got to hang out for the day.  It was lovely.  We went to church, and played frisbee for a while, and then came back to my house for a while.  Lorna was actually the 1st person I had ever brought with me to my house!  It was very exciting :).  And then in the evening, we met up with Lin and her husband Pan, to have dinner with some friends of theirs.  It was a home church, so we had a scrumptious dinner with them, and then a little worship service afterwards.  It was wonderful to see such a passionate group of believers.  I’ll never forget, as we were leaving, the little 10-year-old boy started sobbing.  I asked him why, and he said it was because his mom had told him that he had to stop reading his Bible because he needed to go to sleep.  Really made me stop and think about my priorities in my own life…  But anyway, it was a lovely way to round out the weekend.  Plus they had a little 13-month-old daughter, who was absolutely preciousssss.  I asked to hold her, and she just loved me!  Was cuddling her head into my chest, and wouldn’t go with her parents when they tried to take her away.  It was adorable :).  And that’s it!  Monday came again hard and fast, with me jumping right into my regular classes and Korean studying, and being informed that I’ve just been given 4 additional classes starting this week.  As of today I have exactly 3 months left in Korea, and I really want to finish strong, no matter what they throw at me.  Wish me luck!

The house church assembly 🙂

My new girlfriend….soooooo precious!! <3