Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bring Your Mother to Work Day

 ***I found some great pictures on my work computer from when Debbie came to work with us so I am taking a break from my Beijing posts to share them.***

We convinced Mom a few different times to come to work with us and help us teach.
It was REALLY fun to have her in class. The kids loved it, but I think Joe and I enjoyed it the most.

There was something really special about sharing our students and our daily teaching life with her. Teaching in front of her and watching her teach. It was definitely one of the highlights of their trip for me.

For the kindergartners I had found a cute craft to go along with the Eric Carle book, The Grouchy Ladybug. I thought it would be the perfect activity for Debbie to do with the kids.

A few days before Debbie was planning on coming to work with us I had all of the kids make a grouchy face and I took their pictures.
We would later use those grouchy pictures to make personalized grouchy ladybugs.

When Debbie came to school with us it was really cute to see all of the kids respond to her so well. She read them the story and talked to them about what makes them grouchy.
It was fun to be the "student" and watch her teach. After we were finished in the gym we moved over to one of the kinder classrooms and began to assemble our grouchy ladybugs. All of us had to decide what made us grouchy.
Some of my favorites are;

Steve: I am grouchy when......the Samsung baseball team loose.
Claire: I am grouchy when.....Torie my dog will not play with me.
Clara: I am grouchy grandmother doesn't know what I am saying.

There were a few "when the TV is broken" and "so and so won't play with me"

Joe wrote; I am grouchy when the Oregon Ducks don't win.
Debbie wrote: I am grouchy when I must leave my kids and go back to the United States.

At the time of this little project we were having a heat wave and in true Randall luck, our air conditioning broke. We had 4 fans running 24/7 and it was still 90 degrees with 80% humidity in our little apartment. It was miserable.
I wrote: I am grouchy when it is too hot in my home and I can's sleep.

(Our apartment is provided by our school. I had brought over our vice principal to show her that the air conditioning was truly broken (she was convinced that I simply didn't understand how to turn the unit on properly). When I brought her over it was 87 degrees in our apartment and the AC was running full blast. She was standing in the middle of our apartment, with beads of sweat dripping down her temples, and she said to me; "See, the air conditioning is working. This is right." 
The next day I spoke to our principal, there may or may not have been tears, but we got a new AC unit installed the next weekend. )

Anyway, the grouchy ladybugs turned out SO cute!
I found about a million cute pictures and couldn't decide which I wanted to put up, so I made a slide show so that I could have them all!
Click play and enjoy.

Debbie also sat in on one of Joe's kinder classes and took these cute pictures. I love watching Joe with the youngest students. They adore him and he is SO cute sitting in the little chairs with them.

We put Debbie to work in a writing class Joe and I were teaching together. I love the pictures of her working with the little boy. They both look like they are really concentrating.

The younger kids LOVED the special attention from Mr. Joe's mom.

She must have had a good time because she come back again to teach the older kids the next day. Joe and I some how got ourselves wrangled into teaching a CNN/Speech/Debate class. We find articles/videos, share them with the kids, then we talk about it and share our opinions. Sometimes it is really fun and the kids (ages 12-14) participate and are all getting along and have manageable hormone levels. But most of the time they are annoying, pubescent middle schoolers that require way too much patience. (secretly I really do enjoy these little monsters but I will never admit it to them)

I love how serious Debbie looks on one picture, then in the next I am sitting on a desk and Joe looks zoned out on the computer.

We loved "bring your mom to work day". I can't wait until we all live closer and she can come to work with us more often.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beijing or Bust Part 2

**I was supposed to go to the gym this morning, I got up and dressed, shoes on, I even went down stairs, but well, it's raining. While my motivated husband has no problem walking in the rain, I prefer to stay dry. No gym for me.  I figured I better use my time wisely and finish these posts about Beijing.

**A ton of the good pictures we took in Beijing are on our cameras memory chip. Unfortunately the little chip doesn't fit into my computers slot, and we lost the usb wire thingy to down load from the camera to the computer. So until I get those pictures off of the memory chip, we have IPhone photos.

After our eventful plane ride and checking out our "fancy" hotel, the Randall's took to the streets. Mike had done his research and was pretty familiar with the streets and where a few sights were close to our hotel. The first day lead us to Tiananmen Square. It was a quick walk from our hotel, maybe 20 minutes. We got lucky and had nice weather, lots of sun, a little hot, but no rain.
Tiananmen square is massive. The history within the square is shocking. What else is there to say?

We had been warned about large crowds and pushy shop workers and sales men. Lucky for us the square was relatively empty and we only ran into one pushy salesmen. He was a good salesmen, we ended up taking his offer of a 1 dollar tour of one of the gates.
We wondered around the large gate, there were pictures and a timeline of the square and gates/squares history. Not surprisingly, some of the real events that make Tiananmen Square "famous", were not on the timeline. Hum....We later found out that a lot of the sights we visited practices "selective history". Leaving out some of the not so glamorous historical events in China's history.

It's hard to tell in these pictures, but it is massive. The gates are huge. Even the cement square is huge. Walking through you can't help but feel small. The construction and engineering is impressive. Even if the history behind all of it is less than impressive, the sheer magnitude of the structures is.

After our little tour we wondered around and some how managed to stumble upon a street market.
I LOVE to haggle with street vendors. Living in Korea we have had a few experiences with street vendors and negotiating a fair price. Beijing was another world of price negotiation. I should also add that I have zero comprehension of exchange rates. I always get confused by how much foreign money is really worth in comparison to the USD. But from what I remember....15 Chinese RMB was about 2 US dollars. (I think...but I still really don't know)

I have this rule about shopping in street markets; Don't get attached to anything. If you like something and can't walk about from it, just get it. Ask how much it is, haggle a bit, then get it. You don't want to walk away wishing you had just paid for it.

But if you just like something then haggle away. I would ask how much something was, give them the lowest possible price I thought they would be willing to sell it for, then walk away. I figured if they really want a sale then they will come back at me with a price close to mine. If not then, oh well. No harm in asking. 

This strategy worked for me EVERY time. I even haggled a few times for Joe and Debbie. I like to put on a good show and pretend like a really the item, and act all sad when they give me a price that is too high, then walk away. Hook, line and sinker! It gets them every time. 

I found all of these cute baby clothes. I am a sucker for clothes for my (very far off) future children. I love the idea of them wearing clothes from the places Joe and I have visited. Little mementos that tell them that we have been thinking about them and wanting them way before they were ever brought into our lives. Explaining to them that the dress they are wearing or the shoes on their feet are from our travels way before they were born. Hopefully, instilling the travel bug early on. Oh, the idea of it makes me smile.

How cute are these little dragon shoes?

I didn't pay more than $2 for any of the clothes/shoes.
One lady called me crazy. But she gave in and sold me the white silk pajamas for a dollar.
I bought a few things from her. She even asked me if I was a Chinese girl, because I want Chinese price not American price. She was a good sport.
But when you think about it, 15 RMB for a little pajama set sounds like a TON. It was only when I walked away and Mike asked me how much I got them for that I realized that it was SO cheep. My mind just doesn't grasp the idea that different kinds of money are worth different amounts. Oh well.

We went back to this little market a few times. They had everything! We all walked away with a treasure or two.

Our first day was busy but good. We landed in Beijing at about 10am and were out and exploring before lunch. More to come in part 3.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


We just got back from Paris.
We ate, walked, people watched, when sight seeing.

It was a dream come true for me. Joe liked it too.

I promised myself I couldn't really write about Paris until I was done writing about Beijing. So no words just a few pictures.

I loved every minute of this trip and would go back in a heart beat.

365+ days in Korea

One year in Korea down.
We signed a contract for another 11 months.
Looks like we'll leave Korea Aug. 24, 2013

As a "thank you" we got an extra 2 days off (connected to a 3 day holiday).
We took advantage of our week off and went to Paris.

This last year has been great. I can only imagine what another year will bring us.
Hopefully I write more, hopefully Joe will write.