the gift of life

slice of life 2014

We crowded around the incubator, with our faces pressed closely to the glass. Please do not lean against the dome was written underneath us. We continued to watch intently. At first my eyes went to the yellow fuzzy chicks prancing around without a mother hen in sight.

“Look, that chick has poo on it’s butt!!” My student replied. The other kids laughed.

We continued to stare quietly. I took out my iPhone and quickly pressed the red square button to record. As the phone started to record, it was still quiet. There were a few other kids and adults from the museum who were gathered around the clear dome, fascinated, but quickly left after 5 minutes. We continued to stare at the one brown egg in the middle, with a 3cm sized hole in the top. Every 30 seconds or so we would see small movement. From my angle, I could see something white moving around inside the tiny hole. My students and I anxiously waited.

“You can do it!” We chanted.

“What should we name the chick?” I asked my students. “What about Emily? It’s Emily’s birthday today.”

“YES!” My kids responded in unison.

“What if it’s a boy?” I asked. They thought about it for a while. They listed a few different typical boy names. “What about lightning?” I suggested. There had been a loud sound from the other exhibit where there was an electricity show going on. They had created lightening and it was making an awfully loud noise that was ruining our serene moment of egg watching.

As we continued to watch, our time was dwindling. We had to be back outside for lunch, and it honestly didn’t look like our egg was going to hatch within the next 15 minutes or even in the next few hours.

One of my students started opening up his bag. I wondered what he would be taking out. A phone to take photos? To my surprise, he took out his writer’s notebook. He turned to the page where we had listed turning points in our lives, a strategy to collect ideas for personal narratives. He added to his list of first times: seeing an egg hatch.

Even though he accidentally brought his writer’s notebook with him on the field trip, I loved that he took it out in the middle of the science center. These are the moments that writing teachers live for.

Later that evening, I sent my students a video clip of the egg hatching from the trip. One of students appropriately responded back with, “The gift of life!”.

eggs

For more slice of life posts, go to Two Writing Teachers.

exploring singapore’s quarry

Singapore, you are winning me over. I’ve been living in Singapore for a little over 2 years now, and I’m still discovering these incredible new places. On Saturday, a few of us went on a walk along the path by the dairy farm quarry. The entrance was right near the Rail Mall by Upper Bukit  Timah Road. Originally we were going to walk the green corridor, but someone suggested walking to the quarry instead.

Singapore, you never cease to surprise me. We were not the only people on this trail. There just happened to be an Northface 100km ultra-marathon happening on the path. The options from the signs said 25km, 50km, and 100km. That just made me speechless. I have incredible respect for anyone that can run 100km here in Singapore. Other than this ultra marathon that was happening along this path, I got to see the quarry. It was such a peaceful and serene view, and not too crowded.

Singapore, you are beautiful. During our walk, a few of the ladies decided to run the distance back to our starting point. At one point, I had to take a break from running and was walking by myself on the trail. I decided to take out my iphone and take a few photos (of course). At the end of our walk, when we arrived back to where we started, we looked back towards the trail, and my friend mentioned how it didn’t seem like we were in Singapore. I will definitely have to come back.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

life is delicious

I confess. I’m that annoying person that likes to take pictures of my food at restaurants. I make people wait to eat because I need to get a good photo before the food is touched. I rearrange the food dishes on the table so they look Instagram worthy. I guess if you are one of my good friends, than this isn’t such a surprise for you.

A few of my amazing co-workers like to push me to try new challenges, like training for a half-marathon in Angkor Wat (please don’t make me sign up for a marathon) last year, and this year, something a bit more reasonable, but I was still so hesitant. There are a group of teachers at my school that organize this group of “sketchers”, and it’s a pretty creative idea. Everyone in the group gets a blank sketchbook. Each person in the group comes up with a theme for their sketchbook. They decorate the first page of their sketchbook following their theme. Then, they pass it to the next person on the list. After a month, they pass it to the next person. At the end of the year, you receive your sketchbook back, filled with different sketches from different people. They each create something based on your theme.

I was super hesitant to join, because I didn’t want to add one more responsibility to my plate. So, I told them I wasn’t going to. Then, the day before the deadline to sign up, Leigh came to me and asked me if I had signed up yet. She assured me that it was pretty low key, and that if you miss a month it would be ok. I needed to hear that. So of course in the end I decided to sign up.

After quite a few days of reflection, list writing, and going back and forth,  I finally came up with my theme for the year. Earlier on, Leigh suggested I do something about food (she knows me so well). And, then it came to me. Life is delicious. I was also inspired by a hashtag that lady ironchef started, #LifeisdeliciousinSingapore. And, yes, it’s true. Food is abundant,glorious, and delicious here.

For me, this theme isn’t just about food, but it’s about the stories behind the food. It’s about the recipes that are passed on through the generations. It’s about the comfort and feeling of home food can bring. It’s about the people I shared those meals with. It’s about the stories, laughter, and tears, that were shared while eating. So I started to get crafty as the first deadline of passing on our notebook arrived. I ended up creating a collage using photos I took mostly on my iPhone and photos I posted on my Instagram. Here’s what happened over an early Sunday morning.

photo 1 (7)

Screen shot 2014-09-22 at 11.18.12 PM

photo 3 (6)

Now I need to start taking pictures of the theme I got for this month from another teacher’s sketchbook, “tangled”.

10 books that changed my life

I always have a hard time coming up with things like my favorite movie or book, because it’s really hard for me to come up with only a few. There are so many books outside this list that have changed my life in small and big ways, like the Bible. There are so many books that I’ve fallen in love with. There are so many books that I laughed, cringed, cried, smiled and traveled through. So, that’s my long way of stating that this is not a comprehensive list, but a starting point of 10 books that have changed my life in ways, that I actually remember reading them.

1. Matilda by Roald Dahl- I read every single Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on as a kid. I loved all of his books. Matilda was probably my favorite and then Charlie and the Chocolate Factory coming in at a close second. I loved Matilda as the protagonist.

matilda

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis- I remember reading this series as a kid, and falling into the fantasy world as they traveled into the magical wardrobe to Narnia. I remember wondering what Turkish Delight would taste like. I’m glad the movies came out way after my childhood days.

chronicles of narnia

3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank- Last year, I was able to visit the actual house that Anne Frank stayed in and walk up the hidden staircase into the rooms that her family hid in. It was a surreal and unforgettable moment. I remember seeing pages of her actual diary in the museum. I’ll always remember reading this book as a teenager and just imagining what life must have been like for her. The words of this teenager during the Holocaust resonated in my soul.

diary of young girl

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery- This book, the French version, that my father gave me, or I might have just “taken” his copy, has special meaning for me. Not only is it a story that I can read over and over again, I love that it’s the book that my father read, when he was studying French. There aren’t many books that my father kept over time and aren’t in Korean.

lepetitprince

5. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri- Not only is Jhumpa Lahiri a Barnard alum, she has become one of my favorite authors. This was the first book I read of hers, and I can’t help but enjoy all the books that she writes. Even though her characters are usually Indian Americans, I can always relate to her characters, their struggles, and their journey. She is an incredible writer and I will continue to be a huge fan.

Interpreterofmaladiescover

6. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson- I remember after reading this book, I felt like I could change the world through education. I started to dream about building my own schools. Maybe I didn’t have to go all the way to Afghanistan to do it, but it stirred me deep within.

ThreeCupsOfTea_BookCover

7. Teacher Man: A Memoir by Frank McCourt- I had to put at least 1 teacher book on this list. And, this would be the most appropriate one. I remember reading this while being a NYC public school teacher. If you are a teacher, read this book!

teacherman

8. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick- I think reading books about North Korea are so incredibly fascinating and eye-opening. This book that follows the lives of a few different N.Korean refugees are heartbreaking and makes me pray, that change will come to N. Korea sooner than later.

nothingtoenvy

9. Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist- I love her honest and raw collection of short stories/essays. She makes me laugh, she makes me reflect, and she challenges me. I could totally imagine writing a book in this style one day. I want to be her friend.

coldtangerinesLeenJeanStudios_coldtangerines

10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed- This is the most recent book that I’ve read that is on my list. I wasn’t necessarily blown away by the writing, but something about Cheryl deciding to hike the PCT  all by herself after going through a difficult times was pretty inspiring. It did make me want to go hiking, but more importantly it challenged me. It challenged me to continue to try the impossible and that failure, can only help you on your journey. So, if I decide to climb the Himalayans next year, don’t be surprised. Just kidding…I think I’ll start small with climbing Mt. Kinabalu.

wild

I now tag Melody, Petrina, BrianDyanne, Sharon & Tammi to share with us their top 10 books because I know you all  love to read!

adventures in the empire state

This summer in New York, I was able to do a few firsts, like riding the Staten Island Ferry and going to the Top of the Rock. I didn’t want to wait in line for the actual ferry to Liberty Island and do the whole touristy thing, so we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry, which happens to be free. It was definitely full of tourists doing the same exact thing as us, so try to get in front of the line to board and get a good spot on the upper levels outside! The ferry runs frequently and you can get there from the South Ferry station. The views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline were pretty good!  Now I can say that I’ve actually been to Staten Island.

I was playing tour guide for my cousin’s daughter that was visiting NYC for the first time. So instead of going to the top of the Empire State building, I decided to take her to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. The views from the top were stunning. I think it might be my favorite view of NYC. I love that you can see the Empire State Building along with Central Park. I would highly recommend it! The food pics below are from Maison Kayser near the flatiron district, another yummy place for food and drinks. It’s always so hard leaving NYC…

 

nyc_2014-0482 nyc_2014-0484   nyc_2014-0489 nyc_2014-0491nyc_2014-0507 nyc_2014-0511nyc_2014-0519nyc_2014-0525nyc_2014-0531nyc_2014-0544

mokbar @ nyc

This summer, I had the chance to check out this new and delicious place called Mokbar located in Chelsea market. My friend recommended this place,and I’m glad she did. This is a new Korean-Japanese fusion ramen place, opened by a Korean-American, Esther Choi. They don’t have too many tables, so be prepared to wait if you have a bigger group.

We tried a whole bunch of different dishes. Their ho-cakes were interesting, as they put pork in them, making them taste more like a pa-jeon/pancakes then the usually sweet ho-dduk. I enjoyed their disco fries, because kimchi, cheese, and fries are some of my favorite foods, especially when they are combined! Their tteokboki had bacon and poached egg which was a unique twist on this classic korean dish. I ordered the kimchi ramen as my main dish, and enjoyed it! I would definitely recommend this place. Next time, I want to try out los tacos, which the taco place located next door!

nyc_2014-0560  nyc_2014-0563 nyc_2014-0562  nyc_2014-0565nyc_2014-0573 nyc_2014-0578nyc_2014-0582 nyc_2014-0583nyc_2014-0585 nyc_2014-0586 nyc_2014-0588nyc_2014-0564

 

emily & victor {june 7.2014}

The recent trend these past few years has been to rush back to NY to be part of a wedding right after my school year ended. This year, I was so blessed to be able to make it back in time for Emily’s wedding.  I landed in NY on a Friday afternoon and had enough time to drop my bags off at home and shower (much needed after 24 hours of traveling) to make it to the rehearsal dinner. The next morning, I was up early in the morning to make it to the church to get our make-up and hair done!

Emily and co did a fabulous job of transforming our church gymnasium with their creative diy touches for the reception. All the meticulous details from the lemonade drinks stand outside, cute and practical fan like programs, lantern centerpieces, to the pinterest favorite- diy tassels, created a beautiful backdrop, for the real story. The story of a lifelong commitment, of God intervening and bringing two people together, and of a love that grows stronger in time.

For me, weddings are about those moments. I remember when the church doors opened, and the stunning bride, Emily walked down with her arm in her father’s. I remember  the groom, Victor was choked up and Emily had to dab at his tears. I remember the pastor trying to hold back his emotions. I remember the joy that exuded from the bride and groom as they face the audience as husband and wife for the first time. Thank you Emily and Victor for allowing me to be part of your beautiful wedding story!

Here are a few shots on my DLSR camera before the wedding. beach_jake-0476beach_jake-0463beach_jake-0465beach_jake-0468 beach_jake-0469beach_jake-0470 beach_jake-0472

Here are some photos, taken by my iphone 5s! IMG_0155IMG_0102 IMG_0131 IMG_0116 IMG_0127IMG_0179