メリークリスマス “Merry Christmas”

Konnichiwa!

It’s a snow day today-and it’s beautiful outside! Wish I was wondering through parks taking it in and snapping amazing photos…but alas, I am in my sick bed resting up! I planned on taking a sick day…which if you know me…is sooo hard to do. Paul was making me because I feel miserable and want to be at our class party on Friday…but mother nature intervened no sick day needed 🙂

Borrowed these pictures from a friend, Luci! She’s able to get outside and take those beautiful pictures I wish I could. Great eye Luci!
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This last one is from my balcony 🙂
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I last left you with a post prior to Thanksgiving, so I suppose I will have to start from there. Thanksgiving dinner was a delightful experience. I must admit that I had visions of spending my first Turkey day overseas with my “new family” and really, my expectations were met. My neighbours and I co-hosted. He took away the barrier on our balconies so we could all walk back and forth between our apartments via the balcony, which was a great idea!

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I spent the night before and the morning of cooking away-but that’s how it’s supposed to be! Thanks to Kristen, I had some flavours from home. I needed those to make my dinner complete. On the menu:
-Turkey (which DID fit in my oven! but took a loong time to cook)
-stuffing- in and out tha bird (my families recipe)
-Deviled eggs (also family recipe)
-canned cranberry
-sweet potato souflee with toasted marshmallows (sweet potatoes here are sooo not our yams)
-pumpkin pie minis

That’s what I cooked, and I am so glad I did. Everyone brought food to share, but I needed this menu. Actually, I so enjoyed our potluck because we had a lot of international guests at our American table and it was amazing to share the experience. We had food from Germany, England, Australia, Bolivia booze from Puerto Rico, family recipes, dancing, games, wine and great conversation. We celebrated with about 23 friends, so cheers and thanks for a great evening!

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Moms hand written recipes on display. It’s like she was there with me!!! The stuffing…a little toasty on the top, but nearly perfect!
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Since then not a lot has happened, really. Winding down until Christmas break. Weekends have been filled with events at school, dinners at new places, birthday celebrations and planning for break.

We took our kids to our first field trip where I once again got to participate in adventures of cleaning water for the city 🙂 Can’t get away from water treatment plants! It was great fun though and went smoothly for my first field trip in another country.

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his place is really cool-it’s a house where kids can do “play” in normal daily activities and watch how the water flows through the pipes under the house!

Along with my box of food goodies from Kristen, I also got some amazing harry potter birthday gifts! I have slytherin pants now (to match my hogwarts pants), flip flops (will use in Thailand next week) and a Head girl badge (finally)! Much love Kristen!!! Miss you!

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I get so excited when I see posts like these in my mailbox! It means I have a package!

On that note, I am so thankful for my friends back home. I have gotten cards, packages, messages, pictures (including signs missing me)…the love I feel is tremendous and I know I can’t see you in person, but I think of you all everyday. Love you!!!

My friend Judy and I spent a brisk evening downtown one night-shopping, seeing the lights, and finding new cafes. I love nights like these. On this night, marks my first purchase of a flannel shirt. Much to Paul’s horror-but I love it. And, it’s a thing here. And I bought ankle boots-which is also a thing here and something I thought I’d never buy! Still holding to my guns though…they aren’t dressy ankle boots. So, I haven’t failed yet 🙂

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I received a package from my aunts with gifts from my parents and aunts-can’t open them until this weekend though (They said Christmas, but we won’t be here for that!) Again, my gratitude for family and friends is overwhelming. And though I have always known I have special friends and family, this experience just proves my point. It’s tough going into the holidays away from everyone-and it’s probably worse for them. Their biggest gift to me, is acceptance of my choices.

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We found some great eats recently, and return to our favourite spots…like this BBQ place, Tiger Lilly. This time Paul had ribs-and in the basket was several pairs of gloves. Ha, Japan would have gloves to wear for ribs. Kept Paul’s clothes much cleaner…though I had to get the bbq sauce and ketchup for him because his gloves were so gross.

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Sometime during this month my Japanese classes started on some cultural events. Our first was sushi making. Our sensei brought all the traditional trimmings while we brought some fillers. I brought fried Chicken and left over cranberry sauce and stuffing. She showed us how to roll, proper ingredients and tools, and then we each made our own, and shared. I will admit, my chicken and mayo, carrot and cabbage was delish. I also enjoyed my Thanksgiving sushi roll. Actually, tasted good with the rice and seaweed. No joke!

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The primary school had their winter performance a couple weeks ago-full of singing, dancing, and students playing in the band. It was great seeing kids playing drums, keyboard, trumpet and violin during traditional and modern songs. Grade 5 did a theatrical version of the cup song-and while kids were at the table doing cups, the others were on stage using kitchen items for instruments. It was brilliant!

The temperatures are definitely dropping and we have seen snow several times now, though none ever sticking. Last weekend was our staff holiday party at Shooters, a local American pub downtown. The food was pretty good-but you know, 3 hrs of buffet is only soo good. But, we also had 3 hours of open bar. That, plus the white elephant, made for an exciting night. We had to leave early because Saturday morning was a very early wake up call (ACT test at 8 am, Christmas Bazaar at 10 am, and Kidzuna (community kids arts event) at 1 pm. That was a busy day, with a terrible hang over…and a very early night in bed.

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Sunday we participated in a fire ritual at my student’s temple. Her father is a monk and she lives at this beautiful temple. I can’t even image that kind of life, but she is a special lil lady and I was thankful she invited us to be a part of this festival. It was freezing, and it was snowing, but we went and listened to amazing drumming groups-good festival food, and a brilliant display of fire. After waiting in line for about an hour *yikes*, we made our way up to the main temple. There, a group called, Kodo performed for us. We can’t take picture or video-they are very strict. But, they were amazing. During their drumming, the elders with the fire came down from the temple, to light the walking area pires. They were caring big traditional flags, wearing exquisite masks, and some blowing a conch horn. Very ritualistic, primal even. The fire was huge and for the first time in hours, I started to have feeling in my bones again. The line moved quickly and we made our way to the fire. And yes…we walked through fire. It was warm-it felt good. The smoke, that was the bad part. Burning my eyes as I walked through. Truly an event I won’t forget.

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That brings me to this week-today’s snow day comes just one day before that last day of school this year. We have parties to attend (and parents who actually put something together for me…I have NEVER had that before). Tomorrow will be a fun filled day-with Christmas activities all day. We did holidays this week, Lindsay taught both classes about Hanukkah (her holiday) and I taught Christmas around the world. Katiria will do New Year’s around the world-we have a play to watch that the ELC put together (Kindergarten and Pre K)-and it’s so nice to be in a school that has not one, not two, but several Christmas trees and holiday decoration around. And we say Merry Christmas. Yes, there are other holidays to celebrate…and multiple religions that don’t celebrate Christmas. But, for those who have taught in schools where it’s nearly “illegal” to say Christmas…it’s refreshing.

What’s next?

December 23-January 6-we will be exploring Thailand and Cambodia. I am sooo excited for this trip. We have never vacationed this long before and we have some great places we are staying! From some exciting airbnb places with locals to an extravagant villa on the beaches for Christmas…temples, tuktuks, elephants, sunny hot weather (eh, I will miss the cold, but await some beach/pool time)-the next 2 weeks will be adventurous! Can’t wait to share this trip with you!

So I will see you all in 2015! Christmas eve and day spent on the island of Koh Phi Phi and New Year’s in Bangkok. See you next year!

Sayonara,

K+ P

Extra Pics

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dropping some weight…rocking my new sweater!

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student support team-lovely work by Monique!
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Do you see santa through the tree…climbing up a window?
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o, this was a drawing I did the night of our Thanksgiving party-and Lindsay had no clue what I was drawing. I thought it was pretty clear…she thought I drew a pineapple here…really? 🙂

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