Two months…

First day of school picture. (They are still the same height… Pilar has platform tennis shoes on. :))

Two months… has it only been two months???  School has started and we are in the throws of the beginning of school mayhem.  It’s that magical time of the year when you are exhausted pretty much 24 hours a day and you never seem to be able to catch up. I know this time always passes, and once routines are in place life will return to ‘normal’.  But for now, my list of things to do just keeps on growing.

My job as a kindergarten teacher has been interesting thus far.  The first week was quite a shock to the system and I may have said or done a few things that are questionable. I now have 13 students and two of them speak English, a good 3 to 4 don’t know their names yet, and I’d say at least all but one of them is incredibly well off and just a tad spoiled. I mean come on, their parents (or some large company they work for) are paying 20K a year for kindergarten!  To be honest, they are all incredibly sweet and oh so cute. They are all respectful and for the most part very well behaved.  The lack of English is quite a challenge, but we shall get there soon enough.  You might think it is odd that a few of them don’t know their names yet.  Well… they all have Chinese, Korean, or Japanese names, but when they come to an American school, their parents generally choose an ‘American’ name for them. The problem is, they often choose it the night before school starts and the kids have no idea what their new name is.  At any given moment last week, I was seen yelling…” LEO!!!!  JOEY!!!” and the children were just staring at me like I was insane. Fun times!  The lack of English can also be to my advantage though.  For example, last week one student was doing something totally insane and in a moment of weakness I looked at him and asked.. “Are you smoking crack????” Luckily he had no idea what I said and on the off chance that he goes home and asks his mom what smoking crack is, she won’t have any idea either! My teacher’s aide, whom I mistakenly complained about before school started, is my new bestie.  She is Malaysian-Chinese and saves my butt on an hourly basis.  Half of my parents don’t speak a word of English either, so Miss Anne is their go-to gal for communication.  She literally does everything for me and this allows me to focus on teaching.  I am seriously so very lucky! I am also teaching after school Spanish classes to high school students on Tuesdays and elementary students on Thursdays.  Wow!… what a difference that is!  The high school kids are amazing!  They are so eager to learn and super excited.  The elementary students are great too… just a tad more wiggly.  I suppose I’ll need to make a few adjustments to my teaching for that one!

As for Party Marty, well, he loves his job as usual.  He gets to impart life knowledge to 7thgraders in his life skills class, as well as have a super time teaching P.E. to 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, and 12thgraders.  He says it is completely amazing that these kids never complain, they always try hard, and basically eat up anything and everything he gives them to do. Most of them are incredibly uncoordinated (because sports has never been the focus in most Asian schools), but want to get healthier and just love his enthusiasm.  His varsity boy’s soccer team is shaping up nicely and he seems to be blowing their mind with his innovative coaching style.  He even seems to have time on the side to pitch mural ideas to the head of the school.  Wonder where that might lead???

Practice before the storm.

Carmela and Pilar simply amaze me.  They appear to have acclimated so easily to their new lives here and seem very happy. Before school started they met a few people, the daughters of fellow teachers and a few of their friends. This enabled them to start the year off knowing other kids and that made it a lot easier.  Because we are at a relatively small school (35 kids in the 10thgrade class) they are taking a few classes they might not have chosen back home… mainly Earth and Space Science, Drama, and Technology.  As it turns out, those are some of their favorite classes!  At our school, each student in grades 6-12 has their own Apple MacBook and the entire school uses Google classroom.  The girls come home most days shocked about how little they knew about computers and technology before and how amazing it is to be in a paperless environment.  In their drama class, they are the loudest students and that is a shock in itself if you know our daughters.  I think they are finally realizing how shy/quite they were before and are now really coming out of their shells.  And… every night at dinner they insist on taking out their notes and teaching us about our universe, black holes, and the incredible sun. Woo-hoo!!!

They woke up at 5am the first day of school to make breakfast.

One of the best things I can see about our new school is the diversity of the student body.  The girls have friends from Australia, Ecuador, Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea, the U.S., Singapore, Honduras, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Canada, South Africa, India, etc…  I’m not sure if it is because of this diversity, but there are no clicks at our school.  Everyone is generally nice to one another and grade levels don’t really matter because it is so small. During their 45-minute lunch, the girls play basketball with 8th– 12thgraders and everyone is a friend.  It is really quite refreshing.  They are free to be themselves and don’t worry about what others might think.  They are reverting back to their quirky, creative selves and that makes me so happy!

A few days before school started I was sooooo busy and there was no food in the house. They were hungry so took a cab to the store and went shopping. Excellent!

As for their girl’s school soccer team, we are learning that there is more to a team than being ‘good’. Meaning, their team is very much like the Bad News Bears, but they are stepping up and becoming leaders, making a lot of new friends, and learning how to deal with the changes.  However, to make up for the lack of competition, they are on a boy’s club team and will also play with their father’s varsity boy’s team. They get to kick butt on the weekends and teach others during the weekdays.  I suppose it’s a win-win.  When my closet soccer mom comes out, as it often does, they remind me that one of the reasons we chose to move here was to focus more on academics and less on sports.  Yes, yes, I know… it’s just so ingrained that sometimes I forget.

The girl’s soccer team

Last night they had their first team dinner.  One of the girls on the soccer team is the daughter of someone very important in the government.  She drives an 180,000K car to school and her 10-year-old brother has his own personal driver drive him in his car.

Her car in the school parking lot.

The dinner was to be at her house.  Needless to say, Marty and I REALLY wanted to go, but as no other parents expressed interest, we were left off of the list.  When the girls came home, we heard stories of the indoor swimming pool, the gold and jade kitchen, and the huge underground garage that stores ALL of the cars.  Damn, maybe next time!

All in all, we are settling in nicely and are very happy here.  I don’t look at the weather app anymore because the weather is always the same, the dogs seem to be getting used to their new digs and daily excursions…

…and the plethora of food options around here is simply dizzying. We finally got paid yesterday and I have to say I was jumping for joy.  We make the same amount take home as we did back home and the cost of living is half.  And… We get free healthcare for the entire family and free tuition for both of our girls. Can’t complain about that!

However, we do miss our family and friends… and perhaps a little Friday night lights… and Mexican food…. and Whataburger.

And… we get this on our way to school in the morning! Perk?  I think not!

Our high school principal outside the school entrance. (It was dead when we found it.)

Happy September!

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