Hidden Valley Waterfall

Hidden Valley Waterfall

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk!!

I hope summer has treated you all well. I have had another great summer, thanks to the joys of being an international school teacher. I traveled home to the good 'ole U.S. of A. for one month. And while I am not a fan of my hometown or the surrounding area, it was nice to spend quality time with my mom and some other friends and family. Then, back to China for a few days to recoup before heading to some other countries here in Asia. I will give each one of these countries their own blog, as it seems only fitting.

I am also preparing for another fantastic (hopefully) year in Kindergarten! Last year, I was extremely blessed with a wonderfully behaved class and a para that couldn't be beat. As far as I know, she is returning to me. I only hope this class is as wonderful as the last one. Some of my friends had those classes of "overly rambunctious" kids and well, they were at their wits end. I have had those kids all of my career, up until last year. Now, hoping my good luck continues. :)

I also had one of those summers, where you eat your weight in food, so I am up a few extra pounds. I am honestly able to say I feel "chubby", but yet not upset with myself. Now, the Chinese will have lots to say to me about my weight. They always do. I  have definitely grown a thicker skin here. You have to or you'll starve yourself. I am going to try and get myself back into shape though. I have a big trip coming up to Tibet in October and I want to be a tad more fit for that. I am also seeing an ENT for continued trouble breathing, thanks to my restricted nasal passages and allergies. I am hoping he can help me to breath more easily and be able to exercise more freely without feeling like I am going to suffocate. It's not a good feeling. The very best part about my summer? I got to see my future God-Child via sonogram at the hospital!! I am THRILLED for my best friend and can't wait to meet him/her!!!

So, soon (I promise!!), I'll begin with posts, including pictures, from my four travel spots this year. I will do my best to update weekly, if not more often, this year. Feel free to comment on my posts, so I know that you are still there, still reading them, and still interested. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The joys of kindergarten

There are many things I enjoy about my job. But the best part is watching the students grow intellectually. They are so excited about everything new. And while there are those "Don't cry. I'm sure your friend didn't mean it." moments, the overall joy they bring to my life is something I can't explain in full detail. Teachers get it. Parents get it. But, others just do not fully understand. At least I never did until I became a teacher. 

Some of the first words they learn to spell, besides mom and dad, are the names of their friends. They see these names day after day, and they become "sight words" to these children. 

Painting is a guaranteed favorite activity at any given time. :) 

And when you are too small to reach, you just climb on top of the table! 

This tarantula was completed by a trio of best friends. Yes, I allowed a spider in my room - ONLY because it is not real and does not look life-like. And, it did help with the insect theme research we were doing. 

We present "student of the week" posters. Watching them tell their friends about themselves is such an accomplishment for some of them. In the beginning of the year, I had several who were too shy to even answer questions out loud, let alone present. I actually had one that would cry when asked to speak in front of the class. By the end of the year, they can't wait to share!!

The little girl below came to me with about 5 words in English. She would cry about having to come to school. Now, she enjoys being the teacher! When I look at this confidence and excitement, my heart is filled with happiness. To see how much she now loves school, and to think I had a part in that, is such a gift.

Below, they are working hard on their research projects. Some are reading up on the research, some are decorating their tri-folds for display. They did an amazing job on this unit!

And we all love our class pet Fluffy!

Oh, this is the new craze in my room. They ALL want to have their own strings. And, because they are 5 and 6 years old, this led to a meltdown one morning. A boy called his friend "string girl" and she thought it was the end of the world and cried. Yep, that is what they get upset about at this age. Once he apologized, she said, "It's ok. I forgive you."  And the day went on as normal. I wish adults could behave in this manner as well. 

And of course, there are those days when the students do or say something that makes me laugh out loud. This example made my para and I chuckle. I wonder, does she really see ghosts?? 

And when parents help with the projects, you never know what you will get. On this boy's "things I don't like" section, there is a picture of Chinese wines. While I agree, Chinese wines are horrible, is it appropriate for him to have this on his poster? Eh, just laugh and go with it. 

I never know what I will see or hear from day to day, and that is part of the excitement of teaching children. Of all the jobs I have had over the years, none have been as rewarding and fulfilling as teaching.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Guilin and Yangshuo - more of the China I like

We recently had Labor Day here in China, which meant a 4 day weekend for us at school. A group of friends decided we'd all head to Guilin and Yangshuo - two cities about one hour away from where we live. Guilin is a hub for travel to other places, such as the country side of Yangshuo. There were 11 of us in all. We did some things together, and some things apart. It was a very enjoyable weekend. It was yet another trip to two cities that I found to be more enjoyable than the one I live in, due to the people I encountered.

Ok, this isn't something new, but I finally got a picture of it. Anyone need a balloon? LOVE this!! 

Along the Li River, these small bamboo rafts attach to the passing-by cruise/tour boats to sell the fresh fruit. You see the men scale the outside to reach the upper floors as well, as they are not allowed inside. 

Just a peaceful view along the river. 

Ah, one of my many irritations - Hello Kitty. This ADULT had this balloon with her. And no, they were not selling them on the boat. It was brought along with her. 

The above shot is the landscape (minus the flag and boats) that is on the back of the 20 rmb note here. 

There are children on the left,who had just come out of the water. And, there is a water buffalo crossing in the area as well. That's good 'ole country living! :) 

The picture above is the view from my hotel restaurant in Yangshuo. It was so peaceful and relaxing. 

Hmmm...translation failure or something odd I haven't learned about yet? 

This is Moon Hill. It was nearly 800 steps to get to it. And not a gradual incline either, but rather steep. I was out of breath by the time I got to the top!!

My face is still red in this shot....after relaxing about 5 minutes. 

A view outside of Dragon's Cave

This was inside Dragon's Cave. It was very commercialized, but I love underground areas, so I wanted to check it out. 

Above is a shot of West Street. As you can see, it is a busy shopping street. Yes, I went through it AND found some cute things. :) 

Maybe I should get these for my mom and me?? Just kidding. I do not believe in matching outfits at any age, unless you are twins or in a wedding party and being forced to match. 

This adorable couple was at the rice terraces. 

As far as you could see - rice terraces. It was very intriguing. 

These ones are being flooded for this year's crops.

They are cooking rice inside bamboo shoots. It had a nice smokey flavor.

Whoop! A day at the rice terraces. 

Above: working on her weaving
Below: carrying her harvest down to the village

I know that I sometimes complain, as it is human nature. But I also realize just how incredibly lucky I am to have the experiences in life that I have. I would not trade them for anything. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Something I despise...but someone's gotta do it.

I finally broke down this weekend (after saying for MANY weekends that it needed to be done) and started cleaning my apartment. I had two tables cluttered with school stuff, old receipts from traveling, junk mail, and any and everything you can think of. I managed to clear one whole table, and part of the second. I was also successful in completing all of my laundry (minus the sheets on my bed, but I am going on vacation this weekend, so I'll change them before I go). I organized my tv stand (electronic pile of stuff), packed my suitcase for this upcoming weekend getaway, and did some school work. Oh, and I did 2 loads of dishes. One load had been sitting there all week. The second batch was what I used today. Normally, I'd let them sit all week as well.

I am a self-admitting slob. I am not a dirty slob, but a cluttered one. You'll find dishes in my sink, but they aren't covered with food.You'll be unable to see my table tops, but it's all paper related, never food or anything like that. I do think there is a big difference between a clutter slob and a dirty slob. Even as a clutter slob, the dirty kind drive me nuts!

I am finally getting my apartment back in order, with the intents of hiring another Ayi, which is a housekeeper. I had one before, and my apartment looked much better. But, she was unable to work during the week and I didn't want to continue with weekends. But, how will an Ayi know where anything goes if she comes in to find it all over. So, this week, the goal is to finish cleaning off the second table, keep the dishes clean, and keep my laundry done - or at least IN the dirty hamper instead of on the floor where I tend to drop it and let it go. Sadly, the pile is RIGHT BESIDE the hamper. Yep, I am that bad. If I ever settle down in a relationship, it will need to be with someone who is much neater than I am. Otherwise, we're in big trouble! LOL.

Once I accomplish this goal, the second one will be to get a new Ayi hired quickly, so my apartment stays clean. I always used to say my goal in life was to make enough money to hire an Ayi. I am so glad that is a reality for me now. Thankfully, living in China allows it to happen. I couldn't afford one most other places.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Zhuhai - another girls' weekend

A friend of ours plays in ultimate Frisbee tournaments and asked a few of us if we wanted to tag along this weekend. It is part of China, so it wouldn't require much in terms of customs, etc. We figured why not. I'm always up for a weekend vacation. I was pleasantly surprised and also realized something important. The more I travel to other cities in China, the more I realize how much I dislike the one I live in. Other cities have people who are friendly, more educated, and more mannered. Fortunately, my overall opinion of China improves with visiting these other cities. And that is good. Because if I were just basing it on my experiences here, it wouldn't get as high of a rating.

This is along the coastline of an island off Zhuhai that we hiked a bit.  
Below:  You can't see the man, but there is one, using his feet to turn a wheel that lifts a net in the water.

Then, this young boy goes out and scoops what they have caught in the net with a smaller net on a long pole.

You can rent bicycles and travel around the island. There is even a designated bike path. :) 

Below: This is the entrance to the Hollywood International Film and Television Culture City. We were not allowed in. Hmm....how to get inside for future reference....

Above: There were several of these tractors. There is a large engine on the front that is not covered. Then, a seat, and a small trailer of sorts on the back. Interesting. 

Below: the fishing village

We passed this along the way on our ride. The Peking University Experimental School. I wonder what they are experimenting with. Or, on? 

In the fishing village, there are lots of opportunities to buy dried fish. 

This cute lady is who we rented our bikes from for the day. I also bought a seashell necklace from her for only 50 cents. 

When we went for lunch, only 6 items had pictures. Needless to say, I did NOT order this for lunch. Rather, I wanted to share how common it is to see these on menus. The nice thing about being an adult is that I can eat whatever I want. So, on this day, I had greens and beer. We tried to order rice also, but there was some communication error and we only got the veggies. 

I did, however, eat one of these things with eyes. ONLY because I didn't see the eyes at first and had no idea what I was eating. I still have no idea. 

We grabbed a tuk-tuk that already had two people. They were more than happy to share with us though. 

Ah, yes. My first sunburn of the year. I was smart enough to put it on my face and ears, but not on the rest of me. My chest is the worst. This "adorable" farmer's tan is mild compared to the chest. 

Had I wanted to buy an Army man, I'm glad there were options. 

Despite some questionable food, we had delicious dumplings for breakfast on the last day. They do not get any fresher than this! 

A HUGE pet peeve of mine: IF you are going to use the USA flag as part of your clothing, at least have it hanging in the right direction! UGH! If were were to do that to other countries' flags, there would be all sorts of hell to pay from pissed off tourists. Just sayin'.  

And lastly, while visiting the underground mall (which is huge), I laughed while taking in some of the fashions. This necklace...well, it was just one of the many things I looked at and thought, "Really? Someone wears that?"  And then it occurred to me that back home, people like the Kardashians or Lindsay Lohan make this type of tacky jewelry popular. Maybe that's where the Chinese get their inspirations. LOL.