Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kami schamy

The girl on the right is my best friend and I think she is a babe and I also love her A LOT...even though she is strange and runs too much. And because she is willing to pick up my stranded sister in Idaho. My grandma will love her for that forever.

The point of the post however is the girl on the left. I figure she deserves a picture on my blog because I will spend the next 2 1/2 months by her side. We met in our nonprofit classes, were on the NMSA board together, went to a conference in Indiana together, and did the fundraising for Special Olympics this past spring. She is pretty great. She served her mission in Thailand and works at the MTC- well not anymore since she just graduated!! We have already planned loads of stuff for our trip, will be making rules so we don't drive each other crazy, scripture study in the morning (haha-individually) but we figure we will always want the spirit with us so this is the most important, exercising in the morning so we don't die, giving out lots of pass along cards, working with a bunch of nonprofits, visiting 5 or 6 countries, meeting loads of awesome people, seeing incredibly beautiful places, and having a pretty ridiculous, indescribable, relaxing, crazy, fun couple of months. More details to come....

Monday, November 30, 2009

Scaring kids


This picture is great for many reasons. How great are those two older people completely asleep while they are with their grandchild. Good thing I was on that train to watch over the kid. More importantly, this picture represents/reminds me of all the children I made cry while in Taiwan. I am up to four as of today, but I'm sure there will be at least one more. While on the train this kid was smiling happily, playing with his grandpa. Then he caught a glimpse of me and froze. His grandpa was smiling at me and I just smiled at the little guy who then proceeded to frantically grab his grandfather, tear up, stand up, and turn around. He stood like this for the rest of the trip. His grandpa looked at me with apologetic eyes and tried to get the kid to turn around, but with no avail. I just tried not to laugh hysterically. I'm really glad I did not make my usual crazy face which is what I usually do when I see the cute little asian kids-Who knew this American face of mine would scare so many?? I'm hoping my confidence isn't lowered too much by this. Usually parents and kids love when the Americans will talk to them and they push their kids over to us so they can use their English. But, there are those who have never seen one (American) so we are a bit too scary for them. Oh, the joys of being a minority.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh my gosh.

I know I haven't written a blog post in a long time, but I have just been dealing with some stuff, so we will leave it at that. Also, I lost my camera. lame.

So, I seriously never thought this would happen to me. Take that back...I've never in a million years even had this thought cross my mind.

I walked down to my kindergarten class, which is in the afternoon, today. I LOVE these kids. So I see my student Peter, age 4, walk into the school and he is wearing a red shirt. His face and arms are the exact color of his shirt. I freak out inside and the secretary sees him too. His head, face, arms, stomach, chest, and back are burning hot. The secretary talks to him and finds out his grandma gave him wine. It seriously looked like he was going to die. He also smelled nasty- alcohol nasty. He said he didn't want it, but his gma just told him to drink it. Oh gosh. Here in Taiwan, most grandparents live with their children. They watch their grandchildren during the day and take care of them. The cultural gap in grandparent to child to grandchild seems a lot larger than in America. The grandparents speak Taiwanese, the parents Chinese, and the kids English (or are at least learning it much more). I think the grandma gives him a little wine before he goes to bed. I know, way weird but maybe it is like giving your kid cough medicine to sleep (I think I've heard of that somewhere?). Both are bad, but people still do them. Sad. So, the secretary holds up her fingers and asks how many fingers she is holding up. He knows so we figure he isn't too drunk and that is about all we can do.

So the kid peed four times within 1 hour and a 1/2. Every time I asked a question he would just look at me for like 20 seconds and then answer. He asked to draw the high speed train on the board so I sad okay to see if he could do it. He walks up and drew two wheels and then just stood there and said, 'I forgot.' I told him to stand up (he was sitting on the floor) and he lost his balance and hit his head on the chair (not too hard). So I took him outside to the secretary where we continued the sobriety tests. poor little guy. He was only light red by the end of class so that was good. He totally knew he was acting strange and at the end of class he said, 'I came to school today and act a little crazy, teacher.' Yes, you did Peter....not your fault though.

haha. Here is Peter - don't you love that you cannot even tell he has eyeballs...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Don't mess with me.

So, I might be taking tae kwon do. It is all in chinese and I do not really speak chinese. However, I think this makes it more fun. Our coach is awesome. His coach/owner of the studios is also awesome...They yell at the other kids, but never at me. haha. Don't worry, I do not take advantage of this, I just try harder so they won't have to yell at me. When my roommate Arwyn and I first went I'm pretty sure the other kids had no clue what to think of us. One kid and I did not quite see eye to eye, which led to fights (literally) every class. One of us would tease or kick each other and then the other would fight back, resulting in me picking him up. Of course, my shining face won him over and now he loves me (love is probably too strong a word, but we are definitely pals). All the kids finally got the courage to tell me their names and I think there is only one girl who is a little scared to talk to me. She just giggles whenever I talk to her...I think it might be because she does not understand any of the ways I try and communicate with her. I think I should also state that I have two coach crushes. Many people might not understand what this means. It simply means I love them because they are so great. nothing more. If we ever tip a little because we can't find our balance, they just say, 'drink beer,' motioning to their mouths. I hope they don't really think we come to class drunk.

We had our first belt test tonight and it was hilarious. We walked into the studio and literally everyone started to whisper and stare at us. All the kids who are at our studio were now the popular ones who were friends with the Americans. I felt like a piece of meat...c'mon, I'm just a middle-aged white person. Now imagine already being nervous to take a test in front of tons of parents and students (many black belts), but to add to this, everything is in chinese. I mean, our coach told us the chinese and I knew it when he said it, but this other guy was awful at speaking chinese. I understood nothing. But, thankfully I did remember the order so I really only messed up once....only because I did not know I was supposed to go so stop thinking I'm horrible at this whole karate thing! Apparently all the coaches turn into devils during the test...my coach showed me devil horns to tell me that this is what he becomes on test day. I motioned to him that this was not allowed and of course, he obliged. The owner of the studio, Mr. Low, was sitting next to us when we sat down and he kept saying, 'very good, very good, no problem.' He loves saying, no problem. It is 2 of the 10 english words he knows, which I think is the reason he uses it so much.

I'm pretty sure I look like a hobbit.


Watch out. I think I have a pretty solid punch now so ADAM, be careful next time I see you because I might beat you up!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My name is Michael Jackson

Our school has two locations. When they first started as a school they had a smaller building a few blocks away from the present school. They now have kindergarten at the smaller school, which is where I teach every morning. I like being able to teach in both buildings because it allows me to leave every morning and actually get outside when some days it can be difficult. I will need to soon share pictures of those kids because they are beyond adorable.

Anyways, I get back at lunchtime every day and there is a group of students that are always eating lunch. So, of course, I go hang out with them for a little bit each day. Everyone is obsessed with Michael Jackson here, as are these 5 year olds...which means I do Michael Jackson moves for them. They now call me Michael Jackson more than my real name. I guess that isn't a bad trade off, except for the fact that the school probably wouldn't let the real Michael Jackson teach a bunch of kids. Just saying....

I love the reaction I get from them every day. Sometimes when I show up at the door, they pull out their fake guns and start shooting me and the other times they are hugging my legs and blowing me kisses. The other day they would not stop getting up and hugging me. I don't know what drugs they were on, but they seriously would not stop. I had 3 kids in the front hugging and little Owen comes behind me and is hugging my bum/leg. He proceeds to ask me if he can kick my bum. I'm trying to process what he asked me because it really makes no sense (the kid loves to hug me and kiss me if he can) and he can't even reach my bum with his foot. Don't worry, he did not kick me, he KISSED me on my bum. hahahahhaa. I thought I was going to die from laughing so hard. I don't know what gave him the idea that you can kiss bums, but he thought it would be okay. I don't even think he realized that it would be weird...he is just such a sweet little boy. Either way, I thought it was hilarious. However, I hope that kids do not continue kissing my bum because it is a little weird.

I had taken a bunch of pictures of them from a field trip the other day, but I lost my camera so I lost the pictures......But, here are a few, plus one taken from another teacher :)


Little Owen (the bum kisser) and Brandon. These are the sweetest of the group. They give me hugs every day. (That is a the peel of a pomelo fruit on his head. Kids do it all the time here.)


Winnie and Julia. Today I told Julia that my mom's name was Julia and she had the biggest smile I've ever seen. She would not stop talking about it the entire day. I teach kindergarten in the evening as well and I have a very interesting student, Peter. He speaks english pretty well and he is very articulate. Winnie was getting picked up by her mom and came over to me and my class to say hi. After she leaves, I tell my students to say goodbye and Peter says, Winnie is sooo beautiful. haha. He is 4. I have no clue where he has learned this language, but it is pretty funny when he comes up with this random stuff. But, I do agree, she is a beautiful little girl.


Julia again. She has the greatest laugh on the planet except for maybe John Gibbons. Please excuse the way I look...I think I woke up about 5 minutes before the picture was taken and it was the hottest day EVER.


Carson=personality. I love this kid. He is sweet and energetic and funny. And, who can resist a kid with a bucket hat and an apron.


Angelica. She is such a cute little girl. She is the daughter of the director of the school so she is around all the time. Don't you love the closed asian smile eyes!?


These are most of the kids. Our director, Frances tells them to pose in the most hilarious ways. They have to tilt their heads and put their little peace signs up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Perfect Saturdays

This is very long...which I am okay with.

First Saturday:

So, a previous blog post might have shown my love for BYU football. I was quite devastated that I could not watch the BYU/OKLAHOMA game, so when I found out that it was being broadcasted on BYU tv on Friday at 7 pm (Sat @ 9 am), I was happy. I sat in my little bed with my BYU attire on and watched the whole game on my laptop.

Then, we met up with a bunch of friends and went to a waterfall about an hour away from my apartment. FYI...it is not very comfortable to ride a scooter for 3 hours in one day. But, it can be really fun. The drive was incredible...the hills are so green and we were driving up windy, hilly roads.

After getting back we went into Taichung and had curry...yummm.


Here is part of the drive up.


When we hiked down to the waterfall there was this monk meditating. It was so beautiful.


I tried climbing up the waterfall, but there was so much moss. It looks way easier than it was...there was a rope higher up that you could use to climb, but you had to get to it which was the hard part. I did not give up though :)


See! We all slid down together and maybe I got kicked in the thigh...hard. But, it was funny.

Second Saturday:

My friend Kim is serving a mission in Taipei and just happens to be at temple square...so I called her to get a tour (mostly so I could hang out with her). We took the train to Taipei, which is always great. I love train and bus rides, especially long ones. Yes, you might think I'm being sarcastic, but this is not the case. I love looking out the window, taking 5 minute naps here and there, listening to music, reading, practicing chinese, etc. The temple was great as usual- Kim, or Sis. Chang took us to the second level of the church office building so we could see the temple. She told us to look out and think about why it was special to us. I thought about how amazing it is that so many temples are in the middle of the city (LA and Taipei)...you enter the grounds and there is silence. The spirit is automatically present and seems to wash away the outside. I realized the somewhat significant parallel between your home and the temple grounds. I've always hoped that my future home would be somewhere that you can walk into and feel the spirit...that it would be a happy, comfortable, and loving place. I need to always make sure that I'm living the life that would help me to have a home like that.

After the temple we went to the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial. wowzers. It is beautiful. There is a giant memorial, reminiscent of the Lincoln Memorial (which I have never been too, but those pictures online reminded me of it :) ) There is a main building with the statue of the first president of Taiwan, who was a pretty awesome guy, and a museum below. There are two other huge buildings on the site that are also beautiful. In the museum, an older man walked up to my friend Janae and started speaking to her in Chinese. They seemed to be talking about me and my friend, Wendy. We started speaking to him and I could not understand any of his English. I felt so bad cause I just kept nodding and smiling, feeling like an idiot. I tried really hard to understand him because he was so nice. After a few minutes, his accent seemed to clear up and I could understand everything he said. There is a lot more to the story that I will keep to my journal, but lets just say that it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had in my life. Heavenly Father really does put us in the right places at the right times to help us learn and grow. The man's name was Charles Lee and he continually told me in our conversation that, 'To live is to learn.' That is really easy to forget! I love to learn, but sometimes my life can get so busy that I forget to put that extra effort to really learn new things. I figure learning how to teach can keep me busy...along with tae kwon do and learning Chinese so here's to learning! After the memorial we went to the Longshan Temple. wow, it was pretty. There were so many people praying and monks all over the place. I love seeing temples on almost every street, although this one was much bigger than most. After the second temple of the day we went to Snake Alley/Huaxi night market in Taipei. It was nice to just relax and walk around, except the fact that I might have had to really go to the bathroom and those are not easy to find around downtown Taipei.

Here is the little group from the day, including Kim and her super cute companion. I look funny in this picture, just like every other picture I take here.


That is me, in case you didn't remember what I looked like...


This picture is to show how the temple is right in the city and of course, right next to a gas station.


Longshan Temple. People love their incense and candles. It was so smoky.



Here are all the offerings because of ghost month. My favorite are the 7-11 type snacks. They put out so many random kinds of food....it kind of made me hungry, but I thought it might not be a good idea to take the food.



I loved watching these people pray. There are hundreds of people praying so reverently as if no one else is around.


The man, Chiang.


They sure love him here. I highly contemplated buying this little treasure.


Here is my pal and I. The guy is still a professor at the age of 85 and was a scientist for the rest of his life. He had me read a sort of paper that he wrote about the necessity of love in the relationship between China and Taiwan. It reminded me of Israel and Palestine as well.


So there was this exhibition of art at the museum. Every piece was made out of real flowers or leaves or some kind of plant. It was so funny...and a little cool in its own special way. I actually liked this one, mostly because it was made of daisys and was a pretty dress. Most of them had creepy birds and trees.

Here is a video of this super random band playing, Hey Baby, which they play at every BYU game. I've been to this memorial twice and they were there both times. The sound is not so good and please notice the boy in the midriff in the back.

video

Third Saturday from heaven:

I got to sleep in! Well, that means until 8:30, but it is better than 7:30 every other morning....just the life of a hard-working teacher. Some friends and I went to the morning market in town. It was so nice...all different kinds of stands and people. I bought an incredibly soft pillow, which still has not helped with my horrible sleeping problems that have developed here in Taiwan, but it is still nice to have something soft. Then we went to a bbq at one of our secretary's orchard (not where she lives). It was on the outskirts of our town, so there were much fewer buildings. She had a small house and a sweet, old, handmade basketball hoop, along with a fishing pond. We played on bikes, fished in the pond (where I caught 2 fish and cooked them right after- I ate it right of the bone. yum.), ate incredible food (which they did not stop cooking the ENTIRE 5 hours) including ROOT BEER, which was bought at Costco , and went on a walk through the hills to a bridge and tunnel. Besides the fact that I seriously could not cool off, the day was really relaxing and wonderful.


These asparagus were at the morning market. The big ones were about 2X the size of my thumb in width- about 4 normal size asparagus put together. mmmm.


I liked these chickens particularly because they still had their mohawk in tact.


I walked so close to this bag I nearly stepped on it. I jumped quite high when I realized they were huge toads. what? There were also a bunch of eels and other creepy stuff. Sometimes I do not understand the Taiwanese people.


The basketball hoop and hill behind the orchard.


These little guys were so cute. They are the twin sons of one of our secretaries. The one of the right was so smiley the whole time.


I love Fenny. She is one of our secretaries, but really just my friend. Plus, she majored in English and speaks like an American.


The bridge. super exciting. This bridge is part of a bike trail- when we got to it, someone mentioned that we should high five the bikers as they went by. You see, in America this would seem like a normal thing to do. Not in Taiwan. I high fived like 50 people- one guy gave me an actual handshake as he was riding his bike by us. It was mostly just the younger people that understood what I was doing with my hand pointing, open palmed, at them.


Palm trees on the walk.

I suggest to everyone to have your saturday's be perfect as well. It is like a present every weekend.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I don't know how it happened...


So, when I taught my beginning kindergarten class (as in they don't speak any english!) for the first time I thought I was in big trouble. I left class for the first couple weeks not knowing how to tackle the problems they had. One has a handicap where he can't walk super well...he walks on his tip toes so it makes it hard to jump, walk, run, dance, etc. He is also really sensitive and had a really hard time listening. Two of them would scream out random English words constantly. One would roll all over the floor and completely not listen. They grabbed my chest, butt, hit me, etc. It wasn't too fun to say the least. I tried a lot of different things and some worked and some didn't. I would have to send them out to the secretaries for discipline because they didn't understand me. I kept hearing how horrible the twin boys' behavior is from the secretaries.

But....

It happened! They are incredible, cute, sweet, loving, precious, smart, fun, and they behave (at least most of the time!). I had to write it down or else I would seriously not believe it. And I think it is not a phase since it has been pretty great for a month now. They speak a pretty amazing amount of english for 3 months and I get to deal with their behavior instead of pawning them off to the secretaries.

We have so much fun. They are like this cute little family. They give hugs to me every day and to each other when someone gets hurt. They laugh like nobody's business. When one of the kids misbehaves, I can't explain too much because they wouldn't understand much, so I tell them it was not good to do it and have them sit in this chair away from everybody else. I walked Lion over to the chair the other day and told him to sit down...but I realized the chair was right next to a table and I knew he would play with the table the whole time. So...right when I told him to sit down, I realized the chair was next to the table and moved the chair a couple feet away from it. It was straight out of a movie. He sat/fell right to the ground. I screamed because I thought for some reason he would be hurt, but he just gets up and looks at me strangely. The whole class realizes what happened and we seriously laughed for 5 minutes. I hope I explained that well enough. Although they are so little, I forget they understand a lot. I love how we think the same things are funny.

Yesterday in class we were gluing some shapes on a crown and a pincher bug crawled across the table. They all screamed so loud and started freaking out. I had to think fast and capture the bug before they fainted. When I finally did, they all laughed at each other for being scared.


Here are some pictures of my cute little students:


The many faces of Evan...


This one is definitely my favorite. This kid is so cute and so small...I just want to eat him. He walks around saying, 'I am small.' And he sure is...seriously tiny.



Hahaha. I keep this wig in my classroom at all times. It is perfect if ever class gets boring (very rare, of course) or if I want the kids to laugh. Also, this is Peter...he is new to the class. The other day (only his second day in class) I brought a bucket into class. He walks up to me and says, 'Teacher, what a beautiful bucket.' What the heck? I didn't even think this kid spoke english. I laughed so hard. I didn't know buckets could be beautiful. hmmm, something to think about.


Okay, click on this picture. Parents don't really care about their childrens' baby teeth, but this is definitely the worst I've seen x 5. The teeth that are missing did not fall out...they are rotting away. She is still so cute.


This is Joy. Seriously, how cute is she? Gosh, look at her cute little hair! She is quite clingy though...sometimes I have to pry her off my leg. She is also super smart.

And this is how ugly Joy can get. haha. I told the kids to make crazy face and she pulls out this one. It kind of frightened me, but not enough to not take the picture. priceless.


I think this might be a funnier picture. Sometimes when the kids are making crazy faces, they make asian eyes?? What?? It's so funny. I'm not sure they realize they already have little almond shaped asian eyes.


I tie my kids up with jump ropes when they are bad. Don't judge me.


Twin brothers love each other.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beetlemania

I don't get it. Really. The kids here LOVE beetles. We have show & tell every Friday. The kids love sharing their crazy asian trinkets. Not once, but twice, beetles were brought in for show & tell. The latest ones were 4 x as big as the first one.


I was brave the first time. Don't worry, I was seriously freaking out. My kids were loving it. Thankfully, I survived.


What the?? These ones didn't smell very good close up. They do look pretty cool. It is kind of sad. Kids put them in a tiny box that is filled with these little shavings. That's it. You can't even see the beetles because they are buried in the shavings.



I did not hold this little guy. Aragon told me it bites. I was not taking any chances.


Haha. Larson HAD to have a kissing picture after he saw mine. I sure like this guy. (the kid, not the beetle).