A Thanksgivukkuh Miracle

The holidays are always a little odd whilst being abroad. It’s definitely the being thousands of miles and a Skype screen away from everyone that’s close to my heart, but I think it’s also in combination with the fact that as an expat in Korea we have to work right through our amazing Americana holidays.  And then it’s not til the last minute when we all realize that we need to get our shit together.

My first year here was the most depressing of the three. One, it was my first ever away from the world back home, and second, there were big talks of getting a group of us together and buying one of the big turkey dinners from the Army base, but that did NOT come to fruition.  Ultimately Steph and I spent our first Turkey day in Korea with 2 big piping hot bowls of pho in front of our faces. Don’t get me wrong, pho warms my soul on any other day, but on Thanksgiving it was pathetic and majorly deserving of a sadface.

Last year was much better. Though still accompanied by the lingering sadness factor, it felt a bit more like the holidays.  I had Josh “Gay” Rich visiting, which was a wonderful blast from the past, and my beautiful family over here managed to get our butts in gear to make a tasty spread of thanks in our microscopic kitchens.

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We even took these gorgeous family photos to top it off.

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Not ripping a page from years past, this year the holidays have begun to feel a bit more like the holidays should, and that makes Danielle a very happy camper! Korea obviously doesn’t get the right ring for an American Thanksgiving, and then Christmas likes to usually follow suit, except this year! This weekend began with a trip to the European Christmas Market that is held at Hansung University, which also happens to be 1 subway stop south of me, or a quick 20 minute jaunt. Nothing ever used to be close to me! YAYAYUYUH!

Joshy, Jee and I all met up Friday night after work for some piping hot Glühwein, a dinner made up of some mediocre excuses for European delicacies, a fully decked out Christmas tree and an extremely miserable looking Santa. But miserable Santa aside, the holidays were alive and thriving in the air, and it was a wondrously toasty night with my loves. It got me super in the holiday spirit!

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On Saturday we had our Thanksgivukkuh feast! It still took us a good nanosecond to get our lives together, and come to grips with the fact that of the 20 people we invited to our potluck, me, Tim, Joshy and Jee, plus a couple others, were the only ones to respond to be in our company. Hard feelings for all others aside, the few of us managed to slave away all day to pull off what actually ended up being my most favorite Thanksgiving feastgathering to date. Quality over quantity, as the saying so rightly goes!

It came fully equipped with a delicious homemade spread filled with some unsuspecting chefs (super impressed), and photos of said attendees taking photos of said feast. We are in Korea afterall, where the foodie photo reigns supreme, or you didn’t eat it.

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Greasy latkes were flipped by the token Jew on the block, in honor of the Thanksgivukkuh miracle of some 79,000 years.

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Fattening up was then followed by a few rigorous rounds of Apples to Apples (thanks Andria), Pilgrims and Indians arts & crafts hour with supplies hijacked from school, and a screening of the 2013 film most deserving of a Razzie Award, Sharknado.

I guess I can say goodbye to any form of political office with these totally un-PC photos of me sporting headress.

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The evening wouldn’t be complete without a family photo in front of a screenshot from said Razzie-deserver, of a man chainsawing himself out of the belly of the beast.

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It was a wondrously delicious evening with those I love most in this damn country that I live in.  A holiday which started out feeling a bit bittersweet with so many friends having already left really redeemed itself, and most of my homesickness as of late has begun to dissipate, thank God!

Even though being away from home during the holidays is sadface but has become my new normal, nothing says home, I love you or Happy Thanksgivukkuh quite the way a wacko Skype sesh with the Schaeffs does!

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Happy holidays from my crazy faced family/ies (sans Brotha Schaeff) to your’s!

Brotha Schaeff Is 25! YA YA YU YUH!

I still remember the day my brother came home from the hospital. My mom was holding him and I ran over from my seat in the waiting room and he was in this red and black tie dyed tank top number.  He was so skinny yet chunky and teeny and had this jet black head of hair.  I was officially a big sister for the 2nd time that April 21st, 1988.

He probably looked something like this, with the addition of the tie dye. Mama Schaeff loved tie dye, and yes, I have the most bizarre memory.

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Then he grew up a little more, got cuter and learned where his feet were, like most babies do.

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His hair and eyelashes also grew longer, and then the compliments came rolling in.  I still remember my mom getting compliment after compliment for my brothers eyelashes.  He was seriously the cutest baby with the biggest eyeballs in the world!! I meannnnn!!! Here he is with my mom’s dad, Grandpa Jack.

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As he got older, and by older I mean like, in kindergarten, he learned what *bad words* were. That’s when I learned that soap and Tabasco sauce were used for things other than washing your hands or flavoring your food.

There are also a couple memories of Michael that still to this day crack me up to TEARS, and I do mean literal CRYING OF LAUGHTER TEARS.

1.  Strawberry Jacuzzi.  I had a massive crush on this guy Sahand in 7th grade, like, it bordered on obsession. Anyways, one summer day my mom drove me, my sister, Cori and Michael to Sahand’s house (to stalk him? I don’t know?) I was wearing a forest green Yosemite tank top and Birkenstocks.  I remember that.  And my brother did this crazy full body convulsion dance while blaring “WHOAAA STRAWBERRY JACUZZI! WHOAAA!” just like Kel does in Good Burger. He would continuously do the Strawberry Jacuzzi whenever he’d watch Kenan and Kel, and still to this day Cori and I die of laughter and still talk about THE Strawberry Jacuzzi.  It never goes out of style.

2. YA-YA-YU-YUHHH. Back in 8th grade I got my first computer.  It was a Dell, because that’s what everyone had.  They came fully equipped with a detachable microphone to record all the gems you saw fit. Well, I came home one day with Cori, plopped down at my computer to probably do one of those sUrVeYs or something, and found a voice recording on my desktop.  Naturally we clicked on it.  It was of my brother, and it started out really slowly of him singing what we believed to be “Hallelujah” but sounded more like “yayayuyuh”. Well, it was slow and almost a whisper in the beginning, and as it progressed on it got higher and higher and higher and as it ultimately reached the power crescendo, he burst into this MAGICAL rendition of “YA-YA-YU-YUHHHHHH”. It went on for maybe 5 minutes and Cori and I were crying and peeing in our pants at the same time. Yet again, we still talk about YAYAYUYUH. YAYAfreakinYUYUH!

I will say Michael and I have not always gotten along or had the best relationship, but I have only been blessed with one little brother, and despite everything, I love him with all my heart plus more.  He’s a nut ball, but who isn’t a little whack in the noggin these days? And there are two big things I can thank him for introducing into my life ~ *NSYNC and Britney Spears.  If it wasn’t for him bringing a couple of their CDs on a cruise to Hawaii, I may have remained in the dark for a little while longer.

Now for a little time travel just because 🙂

Here I am with him while he looked like the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters had a baby with a mad scientist.

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Thanksgiving one year with Grandma Lucy.  Mikey decided to give the fagala hand.

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We went on a family trip to Washington D.C. and obviously posed with The Acorn like all those from Agoura did.  Duh! Can you believe this only won us Honorable Mention?!

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This photo captures the 3 of us TO A TEE.

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We went to Israel for my Bat Mitzvah and sat on this camel posing with this Arab.  On this trip, Michael spit in a boy’s face, and laughed at me (with Jacquie) when I couldn’t accurately read my Torah portion swiftly enough.  Neither of them had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, thus making them still children.

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Flash forward a few years while I’m in college at UCSB and Michael is in high school. He came up for a very famous Halloween in Santa Barbara.  He got drunk for his first time, did his first beer bong and then got lost with a bunch of men dressed up as Playboy Bunnies.  Then he made this face.

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Jacquie and I played *Best Sisters in the World* for the evening and took him to see Britney Spears on his birthday.  We came home with this photo with “her”.

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I eventually moved across the world, and we all cried at the airport and looked like sloppy Rudolph’s.

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Then I came home for a visit, and when I left for Korea again, the airport security man took this awesomely flattering and exquisite photo of us and Papa Schaeff.

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Well, Brotha Schaeff, I love you.  I hope you stay out of trouble, keep ‘bows in check and that all of your teams have pristine records this year so you don’t fly off the handle! I know we don’t always get along, but know that you’re always in my heart and I love you more than anything and would do anything for you in the blink of an eye. So, keep it in line and don’t scare those puppies, mom, dad or Jacquie. Love you, crazy face! Mwah!

Running For Ramen……..Sike

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve obviously heard that there’s been a bit of a ruckus going on over here on this tiny little peninsula in the far East for about the past month or so. While I deeply appreciate all of the concern that Mama Schaeff and all my friends have shown during these very trying times as I’ve been running to the corner mart scouring for the last package of ramen and kimchi and whatever bottles of water I can manage to hoist between my arm and bosom up the treacherous hill to my apartment….I AM FINE. WE ARE FINE.

I just thought I’d put this little piece of work together to reach all of you state side who only have the US media as a point of reference to where I am living and carrying on life as normal. I will admit, yes, I have had some nerves about it because who knows what the hell that fat fuck (pardon my French) will do in an effort to flex his barely-there muscles, and with little to know guidance or from what I’m sure, life/war experience.  I actually got my first ounce of fright last week at lunch when my co-teacher, Jin, told me that her mom was getting scared.  I think, at least for me, that bit of anxiety comes from just the fact that we really don’t know what he will do.  I read an article about the past and present young and reckless leaders of North Korea and when they rose to power.  I thought it to be a bit interesting, and frightening.  It’s like handing a kid a gun and telling him to just blindly shoot in the dark with Kim Jong Un.  Who knows what he’s capable of.

HOWEVER, since all this has gone down, I have pretty much scoured the interwebs and read everything and its mother about what in Gods graces is going on, but I am obviously by no means well-educated, just trying to stay as best informed as I can.  But, just on the basis that I am living here, and functioning, and carrying on life as I have for the past year and a half, nothing out of the normal has changed.  On that note, I’m really not scared in the least.  I don’t think that an attack on Seoul in going to happen.  An attack will probably happen, but that will probably be to an island.  In fact, just this afternoon while on my way down south after school, I snapped this shot of some soldiers riding the subway probably playing Anipang or some new stupid mobile phone game.

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Keep in mind, I live pretty much as far north in Seoul as you can get and just about 4 hours ago, North Korea issued this very “legit advisory” notice to all foreigners (because we always listen to what North Korea says….).  These soldiers must be taking our well-being and their fellow brothers’ very seriously.  The very thought of every foreigner and every Korean storming Incheon or the KTX down to Busan to peace out to Japan makes me want to poke my eyeballs out.  As if I don’t get shoved enough on my daily morning commute.  Eeeep!!!

Until the US Embassy sends out something of more urgency than the following, I’ll continue on my merry little way.

April04, 2013

A Security Message for U.S. Citizens

The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that despite current political tensions with North Korea there is no specific information to suggest there are imminent threats to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea (ROK).  The Embassy has not changed its security posture and we have not recommended that U.S. citizens who reside in, or plan to visit, the Republic of Korea take special security precautions at this time.  The U.S. Embassy takes as its highest priority the welfare of American citizens in Korea.  Should the security situation change, the Embassy will issue updated information.

We urge U.S. citizens to keep in regular contact with family and friends.  U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security issues.   

**Rest assured I am registered with the Embassy and they have all my contact information should I need to be evacuated.

Well, aside from calming your jets on the rising tensions that you’re all reading in the news, I thought I’d include some screenshots that I got a great giggle and smile in my heart from. I know you guys only care, but seriously, take a chill pill. But, and that’s a BIG but, know that I appreciate your love and concern for the schaeff schaeff ❤

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Well, for mine and my fellow peninsular comrade’s safety, I hope the big guy upstairs is just talking a big talk and we don’t get a special surprise tomorrow on April 10th. I would like to stay safe, not have to actually panic, buy ramen, flee to Japan for anything other than leisure, and I’d like the above Mama and lady loves who voiced their concerns to actually book the flights that they’ve been planning to.

Sending lots of kimchi kisses to everyone :*

Party In The USA!

So far 2012 was my favorite year to date, but it kind of ended with a little bit of a thud for me, so naturally the thought of fleeing the country for a couple glorious weeks was well received.  And what better distraction than 2 weeks stateside with family, friendzies, puppies, beach and lots and lots of cheese.  Nothing that I can think of.

Breathable air, a handsome black man displayed under the “Welcome to the United States of America” sign, and a fat screaming black woman ushering American Airlines passengers to their connections were the first three WELCOME BACK TO AMERICA’s that I got. Then came Mama Schaeff surprising me from behind at the curb, the puppy kisses from Presley, the “Why did you leave me?” ‘I’m mad at you’ stares from Cilla, and the jumping around the car hugs with sista!! Only to be followed up with the greatest welcome home surprise party ever!  Not only was there Porto’s and mimosas, but there was Wawa, Brianne, Kendra, MayMay, Jeanelly, Joel, Justin and the whole fambam. Ahhhhh it felt good to be back in the greatest country in the world!!!

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Seeing as this was my first time back in the states in nearly 1.5 years, I was totally eager to see what super weird Korean things I was gonna carry back with me. To my surprise, I don’t think there were too too many.  My stomach definitely shrunk and I could only eat about half the portion that I could before making kimchi a daily staple in my life.  Jacquie told me I talk way more with my hands, but I also talked like a freakin Italian before I left anyways, but I guess it became a little more dramatic.  But I like dramatic, so hmpf! The big thing for me was the shoes in the house thing. I obviously don’t care about wearing shoes in the house while I’m home, but since living in these parts I keep an almost completely Korean household with regards to outer footwear on my precious floors. Except for when I forget something and my shoes are already on.  Then I wear my shoes in the house. Screw crawling across the floor, no time for that. I’m walking. Swiffer that shit later. However, when I arrived at my surprise party, the first thing I did (after hugging everyone that was there and complimenting them all on their great boots), was say how I needed to take my boots off because it felt weird to walk inside with my shoes on. Here I am sitting with May May wearing her boots, and me wearing my jazzy socks, and my suitcase throwing up beside me.

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The whole time that I was home I was constantly moving, with the exception of my first Sunday home where I slept straight through the night and day until 5:30pm. Heyo jet lag! I’ll take a quick lil wander through the highlights of my trip and all of the beautiful faces I saw and glutinous cuisine I stuffed my face with.

The first thing I did after resting my peepers from a day of travel, was head up to Santa Barbara for some Mexican food and a night out with the Fab 4 and sista!  It was May’s little sister’s 21st birthday, so the alumni came back to show her how it’s done (or tried to). In the end, we realized that in our old age we just can’t hang quite like we used to.

Nomz.

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Kamikazi shots at Sandbar. Where’s the Cassie song?

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Jonesy and sista also sang their own interpretation of Rihanna’s “Diamond.” Give your ears a treat, will you?

Sista and I had a wondrous dinner at Lala’s in Weho with the two handsome brothas Dicecca, followed by Koreanizing Michael Claudio and showing them my Korean hangul (alphabet) skills. They were easily impressed with my enhanced Asian genes.

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The next day (a bit delayed), came the cream of the fatass crop.  I finally stepped foot into an In N Out establishment, and it was even better than it tastes in my dreams.

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Moving onto other excruciatingly delicious things, let me introduce you to the latest pledge to the FRAT house, the gorgeous lil Georgia Jeanne!

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And another gorgeous human modeling his new PSY socks. ❤ Chizzy!

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The next day, Jessie and I helped MayMay celebrate her 29th birthday over heaping bowls of Pho Tai. All things very nom.  I was so happy when the little Vietnamese workers remembered me and asked where I’ve been! They were quite shocked when I told them I lived in Korea now, but very happy when I told them I’d visited their country on my travels.

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Then came Friday, MLK weekend, and the arrival of some of the best friends on the planet!!! Bret, Kayla, Jeanette and Priya all flew in from San Jose and NYC for my birthday weekend, and I must say, that was the best gift I could ever ask for! The weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a really long time.  Absence definitely made the heart grow fonder, and it was so unbelievable to know that even though almost 2 years had gone by since we’d all seen each other, we just picked up right where we left off. It’s so lovely to get older and know that your friends are still so close to your heart no matter all the distance or time between.

My birthday party was on Saturday January 19th at Bodega in Santa Monica, and I could not have asked for a better turn out!  People that I honestly thought were not going to show, showed up, even if only for a quick hug and a smooch on the cheek.  I originally didn’t even want to come home for a visit (sorry), but everyone really made it 150% worth it, and I’m so glad I came 🙂 So, here’s a gander at some of my fave moments as I rang in the last year of my 20s.

Perhaps the favorite, most unexpected of the night was this wonderful guy. Twas so amazing to see Nicholas.

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Brotha was VERY excited to see Nick, and of course talk the sports.

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Siblings Schaeff and one Ho-el.

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The Agoura+ shot. We finally got it good, then Brotha did that!

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TAYLOR LAUTNER CAME! JK.  But my favorite New Zealander and vulgar conversationalist came.  I freakin love you, Alavi!

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Baller & Whore, but he doesn’t call me that anymore because I am a lady. BFFFFFFFFFFFFF4lyfe ❤

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The 1, the only, the FAB 4.

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My beauties clappin somethin out.

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YES.YES.YES. Happiness embodied.

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SBeezy in the Heezy!!!

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Good girl’s gotta get down wit the gangsta!  Love our T$!

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Bromance and a princess of mine.  My favorite part of this photo is Rami wearing Bretty’s sweater.  True LOVE.

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The ladies of LALA who made my 20s the most unforgettable ❤

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Salmon pants and a sassy Asian.  Can’t ask for more!

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My favorite intern ever!!!!!!!! And also just one of my favorite human beings ever.

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I can always count on this pretty lady to show up to a coming or going party.  God bless our crazy ex-bosses dysfunctional relationship because we had the chance to meet each other ❤

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Here was a nice little cherry on top, minus the poor lighting. I love all you guys!

The next day was my actual birthday.  The day began as LA as you can get.  Cruising down Wilshire Blvd. in Danni’s Audi convertible, getting green smoothies, rubbing elbows with one Sofia Vergara, and then popping off to an afternoon of brunching, bouncing around a baby Georgiecakes, and planting our butts in the warm Venice beach sand. It was by far the best most beautiful birthday I have ever had.  Thanks guys 🙂

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Sorry Fran and Nick, we are stealing your child.  Meet Mr. & Mrs. Schaeffenchiz and our baby girl Laverne.

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What a beautiful lesbian family you guys make.

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Awkward poses with baby props.

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My trip revolved around lots of important people’s birthdays, and on Tuesday was Mama Schaeff’s birthday! Jacquie and I took her out for a nomtastic dinner, and this is the video I took of her enjoying her chocolate cake and strawberry a little more than anticipated!

On my last day in the land of LA, sista and I went to visit our cousin Danny and his dazzling girlfriend, Nicole, at their boutique, Clover, in Silverlake (cloversilverlake.com).  It was sooo nice to see them and see what they have done to the store.  If you live in the area you definitely have to go!  We caught up on life, travels, work, family and also took many unflattering photos along the way.  Here’s the cutest one, where we cut out Danny’s 10 chins.

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When it really clicked that I was going back to Korea it was a little bittersweet.  I think the two weeks was the perfect amount of time to be home, because by the end I was definitely ready to return and pop off to somewhere in the orient. My last night was a little weird, but I think that’s because it was setting in for everyone that I was leaving again for who knows how long.  As I packed up my 62 lb bag, Cilla laid at the edge of the bed just staring at me, like she knew I was leaving and she was prepared to be mad at me for another year 😦 I definitely miss those babyloves maybe more than anything ❤

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My flight was the next morning bright and early, and I was pissed because my mom didn’t come to the airport with me.  She knows very well!!!! So this time I left back to Korea with tears AGAIN.  Drastically (DRASTICALLY) less than the first time, but tears nonetheless.  Jacquie was sick, so she got a get out of jail free card, so I was off to the airport with Papa and Brotha Schaeff.  I of course had my standard airport anxiety, on top of a stupidly heavy load of luggage that my dad was shlepping around for me.  I always get bitchy when I’m stressed, so I felt a bit bad for how I was acting right before I left.  Nonetheless, here is the last known photo of father, daughter and son before I escaped to the Orient yet again.

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All in all, a trip home was so necessary.  I really needed to get out of Korea and see the faces of the ones I love so much at home, and get a little perspective, because some things over here hit the fan before I left. So, to everyone who made my trip home unbelievable, many many many times one million thank yous!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Last but not least, there were of course those things that popped out to me as either things I felt differently about or did differently since returning home. Perhaps the biggest that I noticed was something more than just things I say or do.  Obviously most people in the world do not chose to go live in a country other than their own at their own accord, or travel the world for more than a few weeks  at a time.  So, already that is a huge thing that has set me apart from the people that I associate with home. While everyone at home will always be that part of me that no one else will ever be able to fully know, let me put this bluntly, I almost felt like I didn’t entirely belong anymore. It’s not as bad as it sounds.  I just think that I have wanted to live abroad for SO DAMN LONG, and now that it’s finally happened and been in motion, and I’ve been surrounded by others who have picked up and moved their lives across the globe as well, this side of me that never got the chance to completely flourish has finally found its way out and found others who are passionate about the same thing in the same capacity.  It was most apparent to me during times when catching up about relationships and jobs, and times when everyone would ask me where I’ve been, and where I’m going next.  It’s like people were fascinated with what I’ve seen and where I’ve gone, but at the same time wondering when I’d be back in the states and what did I plan to do once this “vacation” was over.  I couldn’t even put a pin on what the emotion was that I was feeling the whole time until a friend who had lived abroad some years ago, asked me how it felt to be home.  I couldn’t really explain it, and then she said the words “you don’t feel like you fit in anymore, do you?” Ding ding. Life’s funny.

So yea, sorry to end on a weird note.  I’m sure I will be back home by the end of the year, but only for a minute 😉 Being home felt amazing, but being abroad and traveling the world feels more amazing to me. Life is just crazy and I feel like everything is happening so fast these days.  But if there’s one thing I am so freakin thankful for, it’s all of you fine folks that I will always call home 🙂

LOVE YOU ALLLLLLZ  (and come visit me) ❤

I Have The Best Baby Thithter!

The story that my mom, aunt and grandma always told me of when my sister was born is by far one of my favorite stories, because it perfectly encapsulates how I feel about my sister to this day.  It was September 24th, 1986 and my whole family was waiting at Cedar Sinai hospital for lil Jacqueline Lisa to be born. As soon as we got word she was here, my 2.5 year old self let loose running through the hospital halls shouting “I HAVE A NEW BABY THITHTER! I HAVE A NEW BABY THITHTER!” I was a very happy big sister with a lisp, and a new chunk of a little sister.

We used to walk through Toys R Us and speak in our own language, which now that I think about it, sounded like some form of Asian dialect.  We would post up in an aisle, or wherever we had an “audience”, and just go “ching chong hoishi mashi moo,” accompanied by “believable” gestures, to try and get people to think we were from another country. Apparently we thought people would think we were Asian. That, or we were really racist. Errr. We also used to dress in matching outfits and seriously believed that people would think we were twins, despite our vast difference in height.

Of course things weren’t always sweet and matchy matchy.  There were of course the days when I wanted to desperately ring her neck…but instead settled for dragging her out of my room on her back by her hair while she was crying and kicking. I still can’t believe I did that.  How rude of me! She also used to spy on me and my boyfriend by sticking her nose under the door, just like the younger sibling always does in every Disney movie.  That’s when I would shove towels under the door in hopes of getting rid of her.  Of course it never worked. As the bigger sister, I was just that intriguing.

But of course that’s all in the past now and we are grown up mature young women, and BFFFFFlyfe, with the occasional “Danielle’s-moody-and-gonna-bitch-and stare-up-sideways-to-the-sky-now” moments which causes a brief fight.  I know girls who no matter how old they get never get along with their sister, or just never form a closeness, and I can’t help but feel a little bad for those people because I am so freakin lucky to call my sister my #1 best friend in the entire universe.  She is someone that I can literally tell everything and anything to, who is the biggest teeny bopper in the world alongside me, who finishes my sentences, who knows what I mean when I say “it smells like Paris,” who feels the same music and does the same dance to “Pumped Up Kicks” as me as we interpret how our parents met at a party, and who flies across the whole world on a weeks notice to come celebrate my first birthday in a foreign country with me, in the snow, in a country where there is nothing for her to eat.  She is the absolute best sister that I could have EVER asked for in a million bagillion gazillion years, and she is definitely the person that I miss the most while being abroad. God bless technology and being accessible to each other at all hours of the day.

Here’s a very convincing performance she gave in an effort to coax me back stateside. Her interpretation of the puppies was the ultimate selling point.

Here is a little journey through the years.  The only thing missing is the baby video of her humping a pillow.

Can’t you see the happiness in my eyes as I squeeze lil Alfalfa Sprout?!

Most likely before or after my daily video recording, where I would shove her out of the way.

2 homegirls just kickin it on the red carpet.

Me and my shadow.

Best mama and best sista.  Hands down.

We went to the Dead Sea in our sexy Speedo bathing suits, where we slathered ourselves in mud and she laughed at me as I stumbled through my Torah portion and became a woman.

We got Jiggy wit it in a bunch of Concert of Loves.

We tapped our way into hideous stage makeup and dizzy pants, in yet another Concert of Love.

She moved to Santa Barbara to be closer to me, and got drunk for the first time.  This is what we looked like.

We experimented with our new Macbooks.

We partied with a stripper named (Lor)Enzo, who also sold sista her car.

The Disco Zebra, Santa and Ice skater celebrated ze Halloweenie together.

And then worked it out in the sexiest way possible at one of Hollywood’s classiest establishments.

We went to Bauducco’s, ate Mrs. B’s Capellini, and then took a nap at table 3… just because we are Bauducco’s royalty.

Then I decided to move to Asia, and we cried a lot.

5 months later we were reunited in the Seoul of the Far East when she paid me an impromptu Birthday visit, and broke a wine glass Gangnam Style.

As the quote says, we are “sisters by chance, friends by choice,” and I couldn’t ask for a better sister or an even better friend. LOVE YOU SISTA!!!!!! Now welcome to your almost-late-20s.

La Bamba Mi Papa

If I had to pick one song that will forever remind me of my dad it would be La Bamba.  Yes, La Bamba. When I was little Dani Tami sitting in the back seat of Papa Schaeff’s black Grand Marquis (later to be stolen) I used to request that La Bamba be played on repeat any and every time we were in the car. It was my favorite song.  My dad had a cassette tape that he used to play.  As soon as the song would finish I’d yell out “PLAY AGAIN!” and he would play it again…and again. I’m sure he hates the song now. However, if and whenever I do get married, I can guarantee there will be a jazzy father-daughter dance to La Bamba. I can’t wait.

Today is Father’s Day back home, so the spontaneous no 2nd period, no 3rd period and no 4th period, came as a pleasant surprise, and called for an earlier Skype call home to Papa Schaeff and the rest of the whack job Schaeffs! I’ve been kind of bad about talking to my dad this whole time that I’ve been abroad, so whenever we do talk it’s always a pretty long catch up sesh on the men (if any) in my life, where I’m traveling to next and where I want to go after, if I’m (still) sick, how the house is doing, what movies we’ve seen…. all while watching my dad make stupid faces and hold the camera so close to his face that I can see up his nose.

Let’s be honest, my dad is awesome in the cookiest way possible. They say that as women we typically tend to look for men who remind us of our father, or who have qualities that they possess.  I guess that is true, because no other man in the world would put me or my family before himself.  Who would work so damn hard that it stresses him out more than it should, but does it because he loves his kids and family more than anything in the world. So why wouldn’t we look for that? He may not be able to afford everything I’ve ever wanted in my Princess world, but fundamentally, the things that make me the person I am today definitely came from the kind of father that I grew up having.  We have our fair share of problems as a family (who doesn’t), but no matter what’s happened I’ve never once doubted the dedication my dad has to our family.  He (and his once-upon-a-time fro) truly are the best.

Some of my most favorite and fantastic stories while growing up are about my dad.  HELLO San Francisco China Town/Days Inn/15 seater van fiasco.  I think I said too much. But that story never EVER fails to make me die hysterically of laughter.  In short, I love Papa Schaeff so much and consider myself one lucky lass to be his daughter.  So now let’s take a little journey through the many hairstyles and wardrobes that make him so awesome.

Little Garry Schaeffer and my Grandma Janet and Grandpa Harry back in Pittsburgh.

He was so hip, and loved to draw cubes. On everything.

After driving a taxi in NYC and Chicago,  he embraced the fro, dropped an “R” in his name (why?!), moved to Hollywood and took some commercial head shots.

And some dramatic, pensive head shots.

Played a milkman.

And posed like this in front of cars that matched his pants.

Then in 1983 he met Mama Schaeff at a party. They did a silly little dance that sista and I like to imitate all.the.time, and 6 months later decided to get hitched in Vegas.  Here’s how the rest of his life has unfolded since having children and living in Los Angeles.

Aunt Ruby came to my tea party birthday party in 4th grade.  She ran around the tea party in jogging shorts and full make up and wig.

He took me toy shopping in the most stylish way possible.

We went for a dip and a sunbathe.

And education always came first (I was reading about stocks).

He drove us on many cross-country journeys, and took us on boats to exotic places and Catalina where we washed a hot day down with ice cream and short shorts.

Education paid off and he congratulated me for drinking my way thru college.

He sent me off like so on vacations to exotic lands.

And then hugged me as I bawled my damn eyes out when I moved across the world.

Papa Schaeff rocks, and I will be listening to La Bamba all day in his honor. LOVE YOU!!

 

Like Mama Like Daughta

In the entire 28 years I’ve graced this planet I have been with my mom on Mother’s Day, so it’s a bit weird to be in a foreign land on the day you’re supposed to celebrate the greatest woman in your life. In Korea they celebrate Parent’s Day, so I explained to my little after school kids and then again this morning during my bi-weekly morning broadcast, that in America we have separate days for our mother’s and our father’s. I then read them a story called “My Mom” and tried my best to explain that it’s weird to be away from your mom on Mother’s Day. Not sure it translated.

Anywaysssss, Mother’s Day was yesterday in Korea but today in America, so I called Mama Schaeff today. Of course I’m congested, coughing and hacking up all sorts of gross Korean air shit, so she took every opportunity to use that to her advantage and annoy me into coming home early. Again. I was annoyed because I wanted to talk to her but she wouldn’t stop being a mom and telling me that I better get better already and to get my ass home. Of course I get annoyed and snappy and want to hang up every 2 seconds.  Drives me insane, but she’s my mom and I know she just misses me.  In a way the nagging makes me love her even more, especially as I’m getting older.  It still drives me mental, but now I find myself thinking in the back of my mind “she just loves you.” That, and my sister decided to skip out of the country today, so Mama Schaeff is without both daughters (just like she was on her birthday 😦 ). So, in her defense, I understand wanting to pick any fight possible. HA.

Aside from that, I know everyone says their mom is the best mom in the whole wide world.  But really, my mom is.  Joni is  so hip, stylish and with it, up on all the celebrity gossip, has the best taste in clothes and also knows which men are the most attractive. She is also one of the most talented artists I have ever seen, and instilled in me the desire to travel and explore the world from the time I was little Dani Tami.  I can talk to her like a friend and know that she will always listen to me and bash whoever I want to bash right along with me.  And even when it’s not always sunshine and butterflies, because it’s not, I can still find it in me to try and see where she’s coming from, and in the end know that whatever she is upset about, it’s just because she’s being a mom and trying to put me and the siblings Schaeff before her.

Ever since I was in high school I’ve said I always thought I would be the last of my friends to get married because I always wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and do all the things she did before gettin hitched and having kiddos. She traveled, painted, dated and did everything in between to make the most of her life before making her life about the 3 of us, and I love her every second of every day for it.  She truly is the BEST.

And let’s not forget where Mama Schaeff got her fabulousness from…none other than her most amazing mother, my Grandma Lucy.  Even though I only knew her for maybe 10 or 11 years, she is someone I will never ever forget.  I think you can see where we get it.

Bucket Lists, Birthdays, Butchered Octopi & A Bomb Ass Visitor

 

When deciding to move to another country, especially one so different from your own, you obviously put together a list of things you have to do when you’re there.  I made a Korean Bucket List during my whole research and application process,which has continued to grow since getting here, and in the past month I can say I’ve successfully checked off 3 big things. Therefore, this will be a somewhat video-heavy post topped off with my old lady laugh in most.  Hope ya don’t mind-uh.

1. Eat octopus.

  • This first time I ate it in a fishy soup with co-workers. I watched it go from breathing to boiling to death in a scalding hot pot, then cut up with scizzors on my table. Sad but whoa, Koreans don’t mess around.

 

2. Eat octopus…again.  This time purchase a living, breathing octopus and then eat it while still alive.

  • I spent a lovely and smelly afternoon at the Noryangjin Fish Market with Steph, Abby and Nick, Steph’s boyfriend. We walked through a massive fish warehouse while we mustered up the guts to finally choose a baby octopus, go to one of the little inside restaurants with our bag of octopus, then have them cut it up and serve it to us.  I don’t think this video or my words could actually express how nervous I was to do this.  It actually didn’t taste like anything and I didn’t even really feel the tentacles stick to my throat or mouth like the others, probs because I doused it in sauce then threw it back.  So sick, but I’d do it again for the novelty 🙂

 

3. Go to the DMZ.  AKA the De Militarized Zone AKA the most heavily guarded border in the world.

  • I have been wanting to go to the DMZ since before I arrived, because honestly, who can say they have been to one of the most intense borders in the world?  Not many. Well, the perfect opportunity presented itself when Sista decided to put her impulse buying to the test and booked a flight out to see me for my birthday!  Me, Sista and my friend Casey ended up going on Sunday, which also happened to be Mama Schaeff’s birthday, so we decided to keep our plans to ourselves until we were back in the South in one piece.
  • There are 2 different DMZ tours that you can take, the one we went on that takes you to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel (the 3rd of 4 discovered tunnels dug by the N. Koreans after the war, discovered by S. Korea), the Freedom Bridge (when the war was over, this bridge connected the North and South and allowed those to come to the South), the Dorasan Observatory (where you can look thru binoculars into the desolation of North Korea), and Dorasan Station (the station that will ultimately be the link between the North and the South, whenever, if ever, they unite one day).
  • The 2nd tour is the Panmunjeom, which is the most Northern location within the South Korean border.  Here civilians can go to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and see the North and South Korean soldiers guarding their territories together.  I must do this at some point!!

De Militarized Zone. There’s barbed wire with a flower on the “M”

The ribbons behind us have notes on them that many families have written to family they still have in the North, and hopes for a unified peninsula one day.

On the Freedom Bridge, where people escaped the North to the South after the war.

Just trekked it down and thru the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel.  Got our exercise in for the day!

It’s forbidden to take pictures past this yellow line.

Us with a backdrop of North Korean mountains.

South Korean soldier at Dorasan Station.

Creepy propaganda.

In addition to quickly checking things off my list, I celebrated my first Korean birthday.  And as if turning 28 wasn’t enough, I’m technically 29 according to Korea. Blah.  The way that works is that when you are born in Korea you are considered 1 yrs old, and then on the 1st of the year everyone gets another year older, then another year older on your actual birthday.  So I turned 28 on the 1st and then 29 on the 20th. Bahumbug.

ANYWAYS, digging myself out of that sad old hole, JACQUIE came to visit me for my birthday!  I don’t think anyone has ever done anything that nice for me before!  I made the 2 hour trek from the Dontgogay to pick her up at the airport last Wednesday (and another 2 hour journey back!) and she came to my last 2 days of camp with me on Thursday and Friday.  She of course fell in love with how cute the kids are, especially one little peach named Lisa, who gave us both matching gold rings on my birthday 🙂

One of my other most adorable 5th graders, Jena, gave me a notebook with glasses on it, a white board pen (because mine are always running out of ink) and some candy.  Adorbz and so thoughtful.  I love her.

When camp was over all the little girls wanted pictures with me and Jacq, so it was the perfect completion of Hollywood week.  Nothin like getting caught in the middle of a paparazzi storm, especially with little Koreans pumpkins.  Trust me, I’ve been involved in a paparazzi storm or 2.

My birthday was absolutely lovely, despite being a little sad that I wasn’t spending the standard January birthday-sharing with my MayMay lover, and of course all my friends back home.  It was definitely amazing having Sista here to fill the missing-home void.  That night a bunch of us went to a wine buffet at the Artnouveau Hotel in Yeoksam, which I must say, was quite the classy venue.  I’ve been invited to it a couple times in the past and always flaked, so when I wanted something out of the ordinary to do this year it seemed like the perfect idea…and it twas!

WOMEN.

California Girls…we’re unforgettable 🙂

I’m convinced that Texans are the best people everz ❤ Benji Boo Boo Bear

M.E.N.

Well, after who knows how many bottles of vino and how many pieces of delicious sashimi, the night took a turn for the trashy as we headed to the not-so-classy Monkey Beach in Apgujong (like the Beverly Hills of Seoul).  Since it was my birthday, I got a free bottle of tequila.  Eeep! Soon enough tequila shots, buckets of booze and Abby’s ass were flying all over the place.

See?

All in all, twas a wondrous birthday!  The rest of the weekend I took Jacq all over Seoul.  We were literally out all day everyday and we were exhausted and freezing!!!  Even though it was so tiring, it was nice to play tourist again and revisit some of the spots that I went to right when I first arrived.  One of my fave places in Seoul is Namsan (or Seoul) Tower, which we hiked with Abby.  It wasn’t so cold walking up, but once we got to the top we reached a level of cold that I have never felt before (except for the night in Insadong with Jacq!) Our fingertips felt like they were gonna fall off it was so cold, so we ate pancakes, took pictures with the love lock trees and even locked a lock of our own up there reallllly quickly!

It’s hard to believe that my 5 month anniversary just passed, that I’m off to Vietnam and Cambodia in 3 weeks and that my freakin sista was just here!!! Time freakin flies when you’re having an amazing (sorry for the cheesy) time! Now, I will leave you with this fantastic video of quite possibly the best, most enthusiastic teeny bopper of a cab driver ever.  Sorry it’s dark and don’t hate on my loud old lady laugh, I warned you.  Enjoy!  Now I sleep.

Thanksgiving Bluesy Blues

Thanksgiving was yesterday in Korea and today back home, and let me tell ya, I’ve got an eency weency case of the Thanksgiving blues. To fill the void of a Thanksgivingless year, I decided to teach about the very first feast between those freezing Pilgrims and the almighty Indians and that great big Mayflower ship.  With my afterschool kids, I taught them a very brief dumbed down history, told them that we eat turkey (many have never even eaten turkey before!) and that we also eat this amazingly delicious thing for dessert called pumpkin pie, or to one of my adorable 1st graders, “pumpkin cake.”  Oh they just keep melting my heart. Over and over….again.

I had to teach these classes for an extended amount of time on both days because of make up classes, so I had to fill my time with projects to minimize me having to entertain.  I found a really cute “Thankful 4” project online and spent much of my day on Friday and Monday (since classes got cancelled!) cutting out multi-colored number 4s, tying yarn thru a hole on each, and writing “I’m thankful” on them. I then had each student write and draw however many things they could think of that they are thankful “4” on their’s.  Most were thankful for the same things as me, you know, their family, friends, FOOD….with the addition of Angry Birds, computer games, and dog…but in a whole different way I’m sure for some. I also had the kiddies make those paper turkeys where they traced their hands for the feathers and then wrote what they are thankful for on the phalange feathers.  Peep the Thankful 4’s and my 3rd/4th graders Thankful Turkey tree.  Some nice little additions to my classroom if I might say so myself 🙂

In other news, a group of us have been trying to organize some sort of feast for this weekend, but that seems to have fallen thru, so we are trying to concoct a makeshift potluck for tomorrow.  We’ll see how that goes.  I hope it happens because seeing everyone’s pictures of turkeys from back home is making me sad!

In happier news, I was awoken by a text from my beloved MayMay wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving! Princess Priya also texted me stuffed and ready for a nap from her Texas Turkey Day. That started my day off right fo sho.  All of my classes except for one were cancelled today, so I got to Skype with the fam.  They were pretty stuffed from the Tofurky and whatever else they had, so they were pretty untalkative (shocker), with the exception of Papa Schaeff making sure I’m “not ashamed to go to the doctor as much as possible until that cough of your’s is gone” and Mama Schaeff telling me “you better buy a hat. Are you crazy for not wearing a hat? You’re going to get a head cold!” and “Do you want to buy a jacket from Victoria’s Secret online? They can probably ship it to you. You probably can’t find a jacket over there, can you?” Some things never change :). I was ready to walk out of the room or hang up Skype from 5,956 miles away. It was also beautious to see the precious lil pups who looked quite tryptophaned out for their own good. I of course took some Skype snapshots to document the lovely conversation.  My favorite is the standard downward dog shot of Mama Schaeff.  I don’t think a Skype sesh passes without a Yoga pose.

Cori and I also Skype planned the shit (kinda) out of our Thailand adventure today. Even though my mind was racing and I felt like an anxious piece of crapola, it made me really excited to have a little bit of home up in these parts.  So I can’t wait to see my sista from anotha mista. Twill be quite the adventure for us…if we can ever figure out a way to get away from the lady boys in Phuket to Ko Samui and then back from Ko Phangang on New Years to make a flight at the butt ass crack of dawn.  FMLxInfinity.

So yea, nothing too exciting, but I felt that my first Thanksgivingless Thanksgiving abroad ought to be documented.  Back I go to sippin this awful bottle of Makkoli and eating this piece of awkward tasting pumpkin candy that I purchased, and watching some Glee.

Gobble gobble and love to all ❤

 

 

 

3 Month Anniversary and the Firsts Just Keep Comin!

It’s November 17th, 2011 which means I have been living in freakin Seoul for exactly 3 months today.  I remember that day quite vividly.  On the 16th I was a damn waterworks show while saying bye to the Schaeffs at LAX, and all that I could think was “WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?!” In the end, I grew a pair and whimpered my way through the security line like a little bitch. Here are the last known (and sexiest) photos of Rudolph and the fam before peacing out.

The sexiest photo of me on the planet.

I landed at around 6:30pm in Seoul, and as soon as I walked off the plane and into the airport I was SHVITZING…and I hadn’t even stepped outside Incheon Airport yet. My plane buddy named Kevin (wow, I remembered that) was a skinny little Korean boy who helped me hoist my life-of-luggage onto my cart and we were on our way to exchange some dolla dolla bills for some wonios.  I then meandered around the airport by myself for a bit trying to get oriented and figure out where the hell I was supposed to go to meet the EPIK/Korvia peeps.  I found them after walking in a few circles.  My internal compass needs some work, clearly. I met my plane buddy Casey in the flesh and met Henry Oh from Korvia who gave me my cell phone.  I also thought my eyes were playing tricks on me when I thought “WOW. He’s cute.”  Casey and I ended up talking talking talking and missed the memo to get on our bus to head to Kyung Hee University, AKA our orientation site. We got briskly shuffled out to the bus and I plopped on down next to little Miss Veny.  Who I l.o.v.e. LOVE. The rest is 3 months of history.

Fast forward to now, 3 months in, and yesterday I took my first sick day.  I never fully kicked my last round of sickness so I was bound to get sick again. I signed up for my first Yoga membership in Seoul after school on Tuesday with my co-teachers.  For 12 classes/month it’s only 80,000won, which averages out to about $6/class!! What a steal!  Tuesday’s class ended up being Pilates and it felt so good.  It was really funny though because I was wearing the least amount of clothing, but I was dressed how we dress for Yoga in the states.  Yoga pants, sports bra and tank top.  I felt a wee bit out of place when everyone was in baggy pants over their tights, longer sleeved shirts and no cleavage whatsoever.  Oh well!  I have the gift of sweat and could not do that!  Not to mention, the teacher paid extra attention to me.  I think this is because I was the lone big-bootied Waygook standing out in a sea of skinny Koreans in the class.  Needless to say, I felt amazing after, but as soon as I got home I started feeling shitty. I ended up going to bed super early (for me) that night, around 10:45pm, and when I awoke in a congested haze I was not about to get my ass out of bed and stand all day. I always take myself down that road and therefore I never get better.  So I stayed home and slept literally all day, and caught up on some guilty pleasure television between naps.  I also received my beautiful purple warm comforter, which coupled with the warmness of my Ondol (heating in my apartment that heats the floors!) made for an even better day of slumber.

I am officially the only Waygook who belongs to Lime Yoga!

Another first happened last week.  I shlepped my ass down to Hongdae on Wednesday for my first tap class in Seoul.  Well, that class was a rude and brutal awakening to my complete and utter rustiness.  I SUCKED ASS.  There were 4 of us in the class plus the teacher.  My friend Woo Sik, who is the guy I originally met, was in the class, his brother and then one other guy. I can’t stress how awful I was.  First, I haven’t tapped in probably 3 years or so, and even then it was like once a week since I began working, and second, they are legit Rhythm tappers which is a grittier style of tap than I am used to.  The class was fun, but I was super frustrated and nervous, and my feet and head were NOT working together.  On top of that, I was stressed about planning for my first Winter camp.  I told the guys I would definitely like to continue classes and they thought it would be best to take them on Weds and Fri (which I was kind of bitter about committing to on a Friday). I told them I would, but then last night decided since I’m gonna be traveling it’s probably not the best idea to buy a whole month’s package (100,000won/8 lessons) when I will probably be missing a bunch of classes coming up.  So, that’s out, but perhaps I’ll go take one off classes here and there when I feel like being made a fool of 🙂

On Tuesday was yet another first, and this was quite an interesting one.  You know how at home we have fire drills to practice what to do if there’s a fire?  Well, I found out in Monday’s meeting that in S. Korea they have War drills for if N. Korea and S. Korea ever go to war.  Yep.  Sorry mom.  So yea, during my Tuesday after school class with my 1st and 2nd graders we had the drill.  The principal said we didn’t need to go out of the classroom, but to just stay in the room and keep quiet.  Everyone else had to go downstairs and underground.  I’ve heard that not all schools have underground areas, but they go out on the field.  How that would protect you, I don’t know, but my school has an underground.  So, if anything happens I will be saved :). During this drill there was a radio announcement that was broadcast for 20 minutes in Korean, from 2:-2:20pm.  It really felt like we were back in WWII or something.  It wasn’t scary or anything, but just the foreign language and the way it sounded over the broadcast sounded very old fashioned.  While the broadcast was going I gave the kids a worksheet to do, then when they finished they just went and read in the playroom to keep quiet.  That gave Leni and I a chance to go over necessities for Winter camp.  So yea, Bomb Drills.  New and different thing to add to the ever-growing list!

Next week is Thanksgiving!  This will be my first Thanksgiving away from home and it’s so weird! A group of us are planning a feast for this weekend so I can’t wait to eat lots of nomz!  I’m also going to be teaching about Thanksgiving in my after school classes next week, so that is the perfect excuse to have kids make paper turkeys and bring in pumpkin pie for us all to eat. NOM NOM NOM.

In other FIRSTs news, I have officially booked my first flight out of the country for just before Christmas to New Years!  After much harassing from my favorite morning wake up call, Cori and I are almost set to go.  We’ve got our RT flights and hotel in Bangkok, just need to book the domestic flights, and we have an itinerary planned.  I am SO excited!  It’s gonna be so much fun.  It’ll also be nice to get out of the snow that will be covering Seoul.  Bret is also planning to come visit me end of January for my birthday, so I’m just waiting to see if he got the dates approved.  Then hopefully we can start planning!

That’s about it for now.  Sorry for no new pictures, but here’s a cute lil one of one of my munchkins and some creeptastic mannequins.  Enjoy!

Precious lil Gabriel

Creepiest mannequins of life. Why would anyone want to buy pj’s from this store?