Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer is cutting it's first tooth!

Sara Groves never gets old for me, and this song really feels relevant to me these days: The One Thing I know.

It has been a really long time. Sorry about that! It seems when you're nearing the end of something time suddenly is like "punch it, Chewie!" and you're rocketed forward before you know what's happening. According to my countdown on, I have 49 days left in Korea.
What the heck. When did that happen? It's been sneaking up on me.

I think the most interesting thing that has happened on the Connexus side of things in the last month was my Open Day. On this day, parents of your students can come and sit in on their child's class for 30 of the 50 minutes. It's special because then parents can kind of visualize what we do on a daily basis and kind of nerve-racking because there are parents right there watching your every move. On the plus side, this means the kids are usually really well behaved, which means you have to have a lot of extra activities up your sleeves because all of a sudden you've actually finished the lesson plan instead of wasting ten collective minutes waiting for kids to:

* Finish their deokbokki and get into class already
* drink water after finishing said deokbokki
* possible bathroom trip depending on the age and maturity of the child
* take their books out of their back pack and not also pull out a toy, a hat, candy, the wrong book or all of the above.
* Stop playing the "game of air" with their pencils, erasers, flashcards or anything at all.
* Quickly ask and answer questions and don't interrupt each other or stall.
* Actually listen to you and so that you don't have to repeat yourself three or four times. "Open your storybooks!" instead of "Open your storybooks....It's reading time, please open your storybooks...Now is not drawing time, please open your storybook."

But on the downside, they also are a lot more timid and it's a shame that their parent's can't see the full potential their students have and get to witness the great creativity that many of them have in class.

Mine went well and I got a lot of positive feedback. Only one class didn't go as well as I would have liked, but it was less about what I did, and more that the kids didn't really try to impress their parents, so I kind of felt a little embarrassed for them...they were finishing their homework in the last two minutes of class and eating their deokbokki too, right in front of their parents. I heard from Juyoung that the parents of that class were a little shocked to see their children acting like that. Since then, that class has been a little more serious and better at having work done and starting class on time, so that's been great.

Outside of Connexus there's been some big stuff too. I have been learning some important stuff lately about communication in relationships. Some of it's pretty obvious, but since I am a total newbie, a lot of it was kind a first time realization:

1. Actually communicate. This is really important for dating relationships I think, but obviously for others at well. Intentionality is vital. If something is bothering you or there is something else you feel  needs to be talked about, don't assume it's just going to "come up naturally." That rarely happens with important topics. Make a plan to talk about it, or specifically bring it up when you're talking about other things. True communication I think rarely happens without intentionality and making an effort.

2. Don't settle for 'kind of understanding.' I really need to make an effort to truly understand people and to make sure they can understand me. Miscommunication causes frustration, offense, and feeling that you've be unheard, so even if it feels tiresome at points, it's worth it to make sure thoughts are fully expressed and understood. If you feel like someone hasn't quite caught your meaning, it's worth it to make the effort to make sure they do.

3. The Silent Treatment never works. Either it prolongs the offense, or damages the person you are using it with. Even if you need time by yourself to process or calm down after an argument, still be in communication. Tell the person when you think you'll be ready to talk. This will help them not be as worried about what's going on, and it will help you be intentional about getting yourself ready to come back together and talk. Open-ended "rest" from each other is not really beneficial in my own opinion. Everything related to conflict resolution should be productive and not destructive or stagnant.

4. Be aware of your communication style, and the style of the person you're trying to communicate with. I read this in a book Kate lent me which has the kind of cheesy title "True Love Dates," but that has some really neat ideas in it. It's important in relationships to realize where you've come from, and this includes the way you grew up communicating: about emotions, thoughts, conflicts etc. My family has a very transparent and deep communication style when it come to talking about emotions and thoughts, so when I try to communicate with someone who didn't grow up like that, I can feel like I am either over-sharing, or the other person seems so closed off and is only "opening up the wading pool" so to speak instead of "diving into" communication.

Even though I wrote that out in confidence, I'm not trying to be pretentious. Truly I know very little about being in relationships, but this is one big way I learn, taking in information and processing it through writing. I guess the main thing I am really taking from all this is being intentional. You can't just be in a relationship and think that all the kinks work themselves out. If you're in a relationship and it seems like that is the case, you better get your rear in gear because that means the other person has been working their booty off to make it work in spite of your lack of help.
So there it is! my humble advice that mostly I need to take myself.

What's a blog post without an update on the weather? It's getting HOT. Yoonseo is wilting like a daisy. The man doesn't deal with heat well. I'll have to feed him popsicles to keep him peppy. Speaking of which, some of you may not know but Korea is a paradise of popsicles and icecream bars. I have never seen such variety or deliciousness. My current favorite is this guy:
Tetris bar...a delightful mix of pineapple and apple, with that kind of juicy starburst kind of fruit flavor, and a soft tooth-scrapable texture. Too icy and it's no good, and Tetris does it perfectly.

On the non-fruity side, my favorite is the Yogoyam Coconut yogurt bar. It doesn't skimp at all on the coconut flavor and is ultra creamy with that kind of flexible fudge-bar quality. Dang it...I want one now!
                   It was actually a dream last summer to write popsicle reviews. Is it my new calling?

Fun things recently and coming soon:
* Trip to Juyoung's mother's house this past Sunday! She was so hospitable and happy to have us there. I haven't eaten such delicious meat in such a long time and get ready for it... SWEET CORN. Manna from heaven. She was also hilarious and told us how she had visited her son four times when he was studying abroad for a year... "Helicopter mom!" she said. Also how her son was getting pulled over during one visit for speeing, which might have meant deportation, so she faked stomach pains and pretended they were driving to the her words "the power of mom's love." Oh man, too great!

* Mini vacation to Busan with Kate! Can't wait to check out the beach and the fish market and all that jazz. Also a 6 hour bus ride full of reading, yippee!

* Kaia's return, Yongjin's wedding and Michaela's arrival!!! Seriously, June is a hurricane of events.

Finally, enjoy some of the gems that come out of the mouths our community members.

Thanks for reading!

Quotes from the Community:

"I've been taking good care of my moustache lately."--Me

Yoonseo: " I want to be a what is it...Bench potato?
Abby: "Couch potato?"

"I love that kind of joke...mental hospital joke. Something that touches our mentality." -Yoonseo

"Jesus is coming! Clean my room!" -Lomie

"These are not my panties, these are not my panties!" Yoonseo wants to clarify what his boxers are to his roommates.

"Now that I know about that coin change machine, my life is going to run a lot differently!" -Anna

"I am not a man....I am....Amanda." -Yoonseo

"I feel like I've been born again!" Michael after getting his ears cleaned.

엄마! today your body is so cute!" --Lomie. What a charmer.

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