Friday, May 30, 2014

Tell Me Why

I've encountered another mystery here in China. It's actually bothered me before but I hadn't thought about it in some time. Until yesterday.

MIL came over (afuckinggain!) and brought a satchel of things, like a hobo but without the stick in it. She opened it to revel a robe for Raelynn, which was thoughtful but stupid because it lacked a sash to tie it together. Thanks Dumberella. I'm sure FIL will fashion something out of rope. Or an old cord. Because. Yeah. That's how they roll. Next up out of the satchel was a very large towel. The kind most Americans would gladly use to dry ourselves off after a shower. Or to lay on on the beach. But in China? They use it as a blanket. No kidding.

 I'm tempted to just roll this into our towel rotation. It's not bad, for a towel. But for a blanket?!? Who the fuck wants a rough towel to cover them up at night? Not me. Not Raelynn either.

It's a mystery I have yet to solve. In China, when you go to the hospital, you need to bring your own towels. So when we had Raelynn, we brought towels with us. I can't tell you how many times MIL bundled Raelynn up WITH THE TOWELS. Um, THAT is why we brought blankets! Once I was able to get out of bed myself, I put a stop to that.

I asked my husband why Chinese people use towels as blankets and he said perhaps because they are comfortable, though I think this is just his guess. I asked my friend's Chinese wife about it and she's pretty Westernized so she thought using a towel as a blanket was stupid too and had no concrete answer for me. So now I'm left wondering how this ever got started. Why do Chinese people use towels as blankets??? Someone enlighten me, please!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Attack Of The Evil Bunny Rabbits!

My old dear friend Penny, may she rest in peace, and I always had this inside joke about evil bunny rabbits. A boy on our school bus resembled one. At least we thought so anyway. Penny is probably now hysterically laughing that awesome laugh of hers from above as she checks out this unwelcome evil bunny rabbit attack on yours truly.

What is an evil bunny rabbit exactly? You must be wondering this. Well, it is a rabbit (duh) that looks demonic. Exhibit A:
Gah! Come closer, if you dare...
And check out the profile...
Augh! Those evil red eyes! They burn! THEY BURN! Why is this thing in MY house? Can you guess? Of course you can...MIL and FIL gave it to us. I really should have a camera crew follow me around for golden moments like that. My FIL pulled it out of his bag and gave it to me, all smiles. I smile too, out of sheer terror. I mean LOOK at this frightfully ugly and maniacal thing! They gave it to us because Raelynn was born in the year of the rabbit. Chinese people take the animal years very seriously. This thing means business too, doesn't it? Eek! All I could do was spit out a "xie xie" and set it on our wooden entertainment center. Maybe I can accidentally-on-purpose break it one day.

Then at work, another devilish entity in the form of a rabbit came calling. On Friday, we'll be having an Economic Fair at school. The parents sent in items to donate for sale at this event. One mom loaded this creepy-ass thing onto the school bus, hoping someone would take it off her hands. Now it seems it will be possessing our playground for all eternity.

It looks like the Nestle Qwik strawberry rabbit, doesn't it? These stupid things are so popular in China. Do they even sell these in the states? Probably not. Because they're evil. And ugly. And stupid. There's a handle on the back so a grown-up can steer a baby or small toddler in it. Like this grandma of the year was doing. It also plays the most creepy children's music I ever heard. Be glad I've spared your ears from THAT midi hell.

Come closer, children.

Closer! Muahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha!

Eek! This is the stuff nightmares are made of!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Please Keep Your Germy Kids Home!

This one goes out to The Chihuahua and his parents, who saw fit to send him to school hacking up a lung today. I had to check to make sure it wasn't some vagrant chain-smoking Chinese guy that had wandered into my classroom. Nope, it was The Chihuahua, coughing away on everyone around him. So I show him to cover his mouth when he coughs. I tell the whole class to please remember not to cough all over the place, especially not on me. I've been sick since last week and if you've never had the pleasure of being sick while pregnant, then let me just explain how much it sucks. IT SUCKS. BAD. Everyone else can take medicine, except you!

As I've been teaching over here, I can't help but notice how many moms just think it's ok to send their sick child to school. Raelynn was sick this weekend. We took her to the doctor and he told us that it was ok to let her go to school as long as her fever didn't come back. I also taught Raelynn to cover her cough. She's 3. My students are 7. Yet, very few of my students remember to cover their coughs and sneezes and just spray everyone in the vicinity. It's no wonder I'm so sick.

I did the responsible thing, and we were prepared to have my in-laws come and stay with her should she be unable to go to school. When moms at my school send their kids in with a serious cough and no medicine (proving they'd gone to a doctor for treatment), it makes me extra angry. Not just because their children are infecting everyone else, including me, though that is a huge part of it. But it's because NONE of them work. They shop. They get their nails done. They get their hair done. They lunch. Except for the handful that have younger children to care for at home, these women have nothing to do. Would it KILL them to watch their sick children? I should also point out, many have an ayi. That's the Chinese word for an aunt or a nanny who comes to cook and care for the children. Some of the better ones actually clean and have been trained to clean properly and not like how MIL cleans for example.

After being coughed on again, I told Christina my Korean teacher who explained to the children why it was extra important not to cough on me. Yet, several other times, this germy kid coughed on me some more. And I can tell you, it was not malicious. This kid is too dippy to do anything so diabolical. Christina asked me to write a note to his parents about his coughing and tell them to take him to a doctor to treat whatever is wrong with him. She also asked me to please make sure to tell them not to send him to school when he's sick. Done and done.

This makes up for the other day. And in case you were wondering about that situation, just as I predicted, Heathen didn't get his lollipop today. He didn't even ask about it. But if he had, it would have been a no-go. He, quite deliberately, scratched one of the girls on her arm. Like a cat. Yeah. I've got one weird group of kids this year.

To The Mom In The McDonald's At Wanda Plaza

What a truly shitty weekend this was. All 3 of us got sick. I've been sick since last week with a sore throat that turned into the disappearance of my voice, then morphed into rivers of snot and phlegm and a horrible cough that hurts my head. Jeremy and Raelynn soon followed suit so off to the doctor we went. Being pregnant, I can't do anything about it except drink ginger tea and eat cough drops. And suffer. But at least we could get Raelynn back to feeling better. She was such a trooper, so my husband suggested we stop for donuts at the Wanda Plaza mall, which is close to our home.

I was excited too. Donuts! Korea is totally a donut-loving country. But China? These people seriously need some education on why donuts should be available on every corner. That's why I was so delighted when we discovered a place called Donut Stop in the Wanda Plaza mall. We hurried up to the second floor, across from the McDonald's and stopped cold. Where did it go? Instead, there was some crappy Chinese bakery that, despite looking nice, had stupid Engrish on the front. Things like "fashion-baking." Whatever the fuck that means. We went in and my husband asked about the donut shop. They said it closed down. I stormed out. I don't want your shitty baked goods. I HATE YOU! You destroyed my donut dreams!

Raelynn had also requested ice cream, and took the news of the donut shop's closure much better than I did. Now where the fuck am I supposed to get my donut fix? Stupid Qingdao. I hate this uncultured city. But at least we do have McDonald's. So my husband suggested we get some ice cream from there. Raelynn was on board and I thought what the hell. But ice cream turned into fries and lunch along with it.

I'll admit the ice cream cheered me up a bit but I'm still sad Donut Stop is gone. That place was as close to Dunkin Donuts in taste as we were going to get in this hole. Now I have to wait until we go up to Beijing to find donuts.

But something, aside from salty fries, double cheeseburgers and ice cream, turned my mood around. At the booth across from us was a Chinese family. A mom, dad and their small baby boy, who I would estimate to be between 6 and 9 months. The adults were having ice cream. And the baby? He soon began fussing. I saw the mom fumble with him and I knew what she was trying to do. She was trying to breastfeed him. Unfortunately, she was a bit large so she couldn't situate herself in the booth without hitting her kid in the head on the table so she trotted off to an empty table in the rear. I wanted to tell her to keep being awesome. I didn't want to startle her though. The heat in the restaurant was unbearable, as at this time of year, people are too cheap to turn on the A/C, even big places like McD's. My husband stepped outside because he could no longer wait for Raelynn to finish eating her ice cream at a snail's pace. I wanted him to come back so he could help me tell this woman that I hope she breastfeeds her son until he's ready to wean. That she tells her mom friends to breastfeed. That she never experiences shame when doing something so natural.

It made me happy because many Chinese women are uneducated about breastfeeding. Despite this though, people here are never rude to you for breastfeeding in public. So, in the off chance that mom might read English, I'm sorry you left before I had the chance to tell you to keep up the great work breastfeeding your son. From the American gal with the darling daughter who cried when we finished all the French fries but then stopped when she realized there was ice cream.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bullshit Alert!

This week, I succumbed to a sore throat. Again. My husband made me a ginger tea to help relieve the pain. But of course, since I teach, I have to talk a lot. It was fine until some of my students (The Chihuahua and Heathen to be specific) would not stop running around, screaming and playing so loudly that they couldn't hear me telling them to stop, nor could the other children hear me tell them to line up for lunch. Despite ringing a bell on my desk AND repeatedly whacking my desk with a ruler, nothing worked. I used the last bit of real voice I had to scold them and get the others to line up. I haven't sounded this hoarse since I last saw Van Halen with my cousin Justin who laughed at me as I screamed and cried "I love you, Eddie!" Hey, look. I love Van Halen and have since I was a little girl. Sammy Hagar AND David Lee Roth. Eddie Van Halen though is THE man.

But this isn't about music that rocks. It's about kids that suck.

Heathen, to be specific.

Today, because my voice was virtually non-existent, I had Christina my Korean teacher explain to the children that I was making a special list just for today. She told them that if they broke the rules or caused me to have to shout to them to do what I needed them to do, they would be taken off that special list. All children who were on the list when it was time to go home would get a special treat.

Out of 20, 15 of them managed to follow the rules and not cause me to talk excessively. So those 15 children were sent home with a lollipop. One of the 5 children that did not get a lollipop was Heathen. As it turns out, the 5 children who did not get one all had run down the hall. Not just a small trot mind you. A full-on Olympic-style sprint. They were busted for this on 2 separate occasions too. The other 4 were bummed out but understood that I wasn't going to reward them for their behavior, especially when I made a point of letting them know what the stakes were.

But Heathen, being the little whiny sociopath he is, cried to his mommy outside the school when she came to pick him up. I'd already gone inside but Christina was out there. She explained to Heathen's mom why he didn't get a lollipop and that several other children did not receive one as well because they didn't follow the rules. But Heathen cried and cried. And then, Christina placated them by telling them that I'd give him a lollipop on Monday if he behaved himself. WHAT? What the what? Excuse me, Christina? Did I hear you correctly?

I am NOT giving Heathen a lollipop. THIS is exactly what I try to avoid when teaching my kids. Maybe their parents and other teachers want to give out participation trophies and not teach them that disappoint IS a vital part of life. But not me. Is it sad when a kid wants something he didn't earn and feels bad? Of course it is. But you know what's even sadder? A kid that never learns to experience losing graciously. That never learns that when they break the rules, they don't get special treats and rewards.

I'm angry with Christina for putting me in this spot. How is it fair to the 15 other children that actually did follow the rules if I give Heathen a lollipop too? How is it fair to the other 4 children that, like Heathen, didn't obey the rules but did not whine and cry that they didn't get a lollipop? Those kids took the disappointment like champs. I'd be much angrier than I am (which says A LOT because I'm steaming mad over this) if I truly believed Heathen could actually behave himself on Monday. He won't. He'll run down the hall like he does all the time, no matter how many times he gets punished for it. And in the odd chance hell freezes over and the kid actually behaves, hopefully he'll forget all about the lollipop he never deserved in the first place.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pregnancy Peeves

Several years ago, when I was pregnant with Raelynn, I wrote a post called Pregnancy Annoyances. So now, I thought it would be interesting to create a new list of things that are annoying me during this pregnancy.

Le duh, right? You knew this. She's never stopped annoying me. But instead of just saying she annoys the shit out of me, here is WHY:
leaving perishable food out, showing up to cook for us on days we didn't agree to, insisting I eat something because it's good for the baby (but it's something stupid like that crappy Chinese bread that has no nutritional value whatsoever), butting into our decision-making like what kind of big girl bed to buy Raelynn, picking her scary teeth at the table whilst making gross sucking noises, complaining about what and how much Raelynn eats, buying ugly and/or too large items for Raelynn, making a mess and sitting on MY spot on the couch.

Another derrrrr. He's been getting on my nerves majorly lately because even though it is getting warmer out, he will insist I am not dressing Raelynn warmly enough. When Raelynn last got sick, he said it was because I didn't put a blanket on her when she was napping in 3 fucking layers of clothing in a warm room. Seriously. While I'll concede that in May, in the mornings and evenings, a light jacket or sweater is necessary, at 4pm when we get home from school, it's not. Neither is dropping a huge blanket on top of her when she's fully dressed and her face is red because she's hot. Ugh!

Both my in-laws combined.
Everything in this post still applies. 

"I'm soooooooooo tired!"
 My husband, when he says this, makes me want to kick him in the nuts. While I don't doubt that he was busy at work all day, or that driving to and from work sucked ass on top of it, he can't possibly be as tired as I am. I'm pregnant and teaching 20 rambunctious kindergarteners, one of whom has as much energy as 20 individual children. And when I get home, even if the head troll is here to cook for us, I take care of laundry and try to keep our home clean. I also like to play with Raelynn. And then I give her a bath, get her ready for bed and read her a bunch of stories. I'm sure he's tired but not to the extent that I am.

While we're on the subject of my husband, let's talk about his snoring. Jeremy snores so loudly I must wear earplugs in order to sleep next to him. Even with the highest decibel-blocking kind of earplugs, I can STILL hear him. If I am lucky enough to fall asleep before he does, I have a better chance of not being disturbed. But being almost 31 weeks pregnant now, I cannot possibly roll over without flailing around like an overturned turtle. Or get out of bed discretely to go pee for the 10th time. So when he sort-of wakes, he starts the snore cycle all over again and I am forced to kick the man I love repeatedly until he rolls over and shuts the fuck up.

Furniture rearrangements.
Lest you think I'm a madwoman, I must tell you that my husband just gets into these insane moods where he decides to rearrange the furniture. Since we will be getting Raelynn a big girl bed (which, incidentally, will now be a bed the in-laws already have that FIL is hammering some guardrail onto...grrrrrrreat...), the crib will need to move into our room while the baby is small. So our big entertainment cabinet that once was out in the living room which was moved to our bedroom is now back out in the living room. This I don't mind. It's the next batch of crap he decides he wants to change without thinking logically. Like when he moved his desk into the middle of our bedroom. Um, no, Honey.
He scooted it next to his side of the bed. But prior to that, he just pushed it in the center of our room. That fucking y chromosome! Fortunately, this desk is quite light so I just pushed it back against the wall where it had previously been residing once I came home from work the next day. I anticipate that any day now, he will move the couch around and possibly our bed. Urgh...

Bathroom hogs at school.
In kindergarten, we have a unisex bathroom. There are 4 small urinals for the boys and there are 3 toilet stalls. 2 of the toilet stalls have small toilets in there for the children. The third one has a regular-size toilet for teachers. For some unknown reason (perhaps dietary?) our 2 kindergarten Chinese teachers are ALWAYS in there taking massive and exceedingly long shits. The other day, one of them buzzed past me in the hall while I was taking my students to the bathroom before snack. After my kids had all used the bathroom and washed their hands, I went to use the bathroom. She was STILL in there! The Korean teacher had taken my students back to class and I was waiting, tapping my feet outside the bathroom angrily. I paced the hallway outside until I could no longer take it. I ran over to the elementary department and used one of the squatters. Now I hate that Chinese teacher. She should walk her dumb ass over there and shit in the squatters or learn to take a shit at school more quickly. Or perhaps not eat whatever the fuck causes her to sit in the bathroom for an extensive period of time.

The Chihuahua
I had a lovely 2-week break from The Chihuahua while he was in Korea with his family. Now that he's back, he's making me nuts again. When I was on my break after lunch, he comes up to me in my office, whining like a baby because he can't put his toothpaste on his toothbrush. Seriously. Remember, this kid is 7! His tube wasn't brand new but it wasn't completely empty or difficult to squeeze. My Korean teacher, Christina, and I exchanged annoyed glances and I sighed heavily as I explained to him how to put toothpaste on his toothbrush. When he scrambled out of there, I repeatedly banged my head on my desk. Later, Christina had to physically drag him away from someone else's mom to get him on the school bus. He was circling this poor woman just like a hyperactive chihuahua.

Pregnancy-related ailments.
I am about to hit week 31 and it's mid-May, so now we're getting into swollen feet/cankles territory. Just what I always wanted...feet that resemble cinder blocks. It makes me think of what Fred Flintstone would look like if he got a pink pedicure. The heartburn is no fun either. Neither is just about anything else I do. I can no longer stand for long periods of time. I feel tired, yet I can't get comfortable. Add a baby kicking my bladder and a snoring husband and my sweet dreams are anything but.

Chinese traffic.
Okay, so I don't drive here. I'm not fucking nuts. But my husband is. And whether I'm in the car with him, or in the taxi with Hao Shufu on the way to school, or even on the school bus on the way home, I am completely stunned by how stupid people here can be in traffic situations. Part of it is that many people bribed their way into getting driver's licenses. The other part of it is that no one enforces the traffic laws. When you mix those two fun ingredients together, you get traffic anarchy. People who double-park and block a small road so that everyone begins honking and no one moves. It's sheer lunacy. People get into fender benders and then they stop in the middle of the traffic and block everything because that would make too much sense to photograph or record any damage quickly and move out of the way. No, no. It's best to hold everyone's day up because you were too stupid to look when you cut over 5 lines to make a right turn. We'll wait.

Construction zone.
In China, much like my husband gets a random hair up his ass to push our furniture about into idiotic configurations, other Chinese people like to randomly decide to remodel their apartments. In these older concrete buildings, if the unit above or below you is renovating, you can hear it like it is INSIDE your apartment. You can't sleep. You can't watch TV. You can't have a conversation with a person sitting right next to you. Also, your child can't sleep, which is probably the worst of all. There are no noise ordinances here and no one thinks to come tell you that they're going to be remodeling for a few days. So suddenly, you'll just hear a jackhammer that sounds like it's coming through your wall, ceiling or floor. The guy that used to live below us decided to start reconstructing something in his home at 6am one day. My husband had to go tell him he was disturbing our sleep. You're still sleeping? At 6am on a Saturday? Oh, I woke up your baby? We were so happy when that idiot moved. But before he did, he totally remodeled his bathroom which, according to Jeremy, did not need any renovations whatsoever. For 2 weeks, he made a mess of the stairwell AND made so much noise it was maddening. Recently, we had new people move upstairs. AGAIN. But instead of the usual migrant workers who rent it out, someone is actually sticking around. So they drilled and banged and clanked. I thought it was over until earlier this week when I went to lay down for a nap after work. As soon as my head hit the pillow, a loud, screeching drill noise droned through our room. DIE!

This is China.
I miss my friends and family so very much. And I am so very happy and feel so very loved when you think of me too. When you offer suggestions about remedies or products, please remember...THIS IS CHINA. Supermarkets are NOT the same as they are in the US. Nothing is the same as it is in the US. Something that is easy for you to go pick up at the store might be next to impossible for me. Things that I took for granted before I moved. These things are things you don't realize how lucky you are to have. I love you all for even trying to think of things for me (and an extra special thank you to family and friends who have been so kind to send care packages), but please remember it is very frustrating for me when you suggest I go buy X product because you can find it at the supermarket. I don't always have that luxury. I can sometimes order things from online but many imported goods are very expensive. Oh, and while we're on that, please don't tell me something is cheap when you convert rmb to US dollars. I am not being paid in US dollars, so to me, spending 200 rmb on something IS expensive.

Let me vent.
I'm pregnant, uncomfortable, tired, busy, and trying to live my life with my family in a totally different country. It is NOT easy to do this. I love my husband and am absolutely thrilled that we have created our sweet little family together. Despite the challenges it brings to be married to someone whose first language is not the same as my own and who has a vastly different culture, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Ever. Even if his parents and some of the things about his culture make me crazy. While not everything here makes me cranky and incurs my wrath, sometimes I need to vent. Not all my posts on my blog or Facebook page are angry and negative so when I vent, please don't give me some shiny, happy fuckheaded comment about how I should be more positive because the way I see it, if I'm writing about it, I'm letting out my anger in a healthy and constructive way.

And now, I will end this post because I feel much better having channeled my angst properly out of my body and into my keyboard instead of picking up the broom and smashing it over FIL's head. Now THAT'S therapy!

You Again?!?!?

Today I made a troubling discovery. Somehow this dish came back to haunt me...

You'll remember I wrote about it in this post ages ago. I HATE THIS FUCKING DISH!!!!! I hate things with stupid little bears on them. Like the summer uniforms they are making us buy for Raelynn (even though she'll be staying home with me on maternity leave from July through September). That will be coming up in a later post when I can provide a photo so stay tuned.

Anyway, back to this barfy thing...MIL came by yesterday to cook for us. Incidentally, I think I'm going to start photographically documenting the things she cooks more carefully. I'd love to send them to Someone Ate This but in reality, I never want to eat the things she cooks. More accurately for me, it would be Someone MADE ME Eat This. Stay tuned for that as well.

When she came to make her vomitous creations, she must have thought that the 10 bowls we have in this size (sans stupid bear of course) were not enough to contain the so-called food she was serving us. It was still here this morning when I found it on our dish rack, that damned bear staring at me. That fucker. Take your evil mutant bear dish home, MIL!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Grandma Of The Year

If you thought MIL was going to win this prestigious title, think again. Because even though it is dripping in my usual sarcasm, MIL got ousted for being the most negligent Chinese grandmother. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

While we waited at a traffic light today, we spotted this model citizen taking her grandson for a walk on one of those ever-popular crappy Chinese tricycles. I apologize that the photo is not as close-up as I would like but she was really hauling ass.
Look past the Chevy and in the street where traffic going the opposite way would head. And there's our winning grandma! Check out the perfectly functional sidewalk (in use!) to her right. Oh but no! She has to live on the edge and push her grandchild on the tricycle IN THE STREET. Because! Because this is China and people here do the most incredibly unsafe things. Like not looking before they cross a street.

My husband was the one who spotted her first. He was trying to get a photo with his camera phone. I might make fun of my in-laws a lot but I can tell you that as dumb as they are, they are not THIS dumb.

Friday, May 16, 2014

"Congraturation" Teacher!

Thankfully, this year's Teacher's Day was so much better than last year's. Instead of feeling grumpy and agitated (which, incidentally, is how I feel much of the time now as I hit 30 weeks of pregnancy and have Fred Flintstone's feet instead of my own), I felt happy, loved and appreciated. And who doesn't love feeling that way?

The disappointing thing is that I only got 2 cards. One wasn't really a card, but more a scrap of paper attached to a small chocolate.
Short and sweet, much like little Roy himself.

The other card came attached to this gift:
We had a small ceremony presented by the Room Mothers who prepared snack for the teachers and students and provided us each with a nice gift. The tag you see is nothing special. But the card!

Koreans ALWAYS buy you cards like this. The kind you'd give to a cute little girl or something. It just makes me even happier for some silly reason. But it's what's inside that counts! Get ready for this card!

This is obviously written by one of the moms. The "Congraturation" is just as obviously my favorite part. But let's not overlook the "I do my best to be a good student" line. I mean, this is supposed to be from all of my students. So which one is it that will be doing their best? Because no one has stepped up to the plate for that honor yet.

Inside the box, I got a gift for the baby. It's sweet, I admit, though I wish the gift had been for ME. Like perfume or something elegant. Then again, we haven't bought anything new for our new baby. My friend Natalie kindly sent us some burp cloths and a cute little pajama set when she sent us a massive package of goodies (thank you again, Natalie. You fucking rule!). But Jeremy and I have yet to go buy something for our soon-to-be arriving wee one. Then again, we DO have gobs of clothes that Raelynn once wore so there's really no need.

So what else did we get? Well, we got flower corsages...

And we got cupcakes!

I mean, how could that NOT make my day?!? I was so happy because you don't often see cupcakes here. Sure, you see cakes. But not CUPcakes. Last year, I was annoyed because they bought a giant cake for my class that the Korean teacher and I wound up serving to the kids instead of being served ourselves. Not only did we have to share our gift with the children but we also had to wait on them. That severely pissed me off. This year, no cake for those little mutants. The Room Mothers brought kids and teachers alike a snack of fruit, cookies and juice. And WE got cupcakes to take home! Booyah!

On top of that, we only had to work a half-day. The school was throwing us a BBQ after we sent the kids home. The BBQs at school are always such fun. Except when you're pregnant. Not as much fun. The chairman always gets a keg or two of beer and they grill gobs and gobs of skewers of meat. Lunch Lady Bitchface always serves up what was served for lunch too, which is not the greatest fare, so most of us stick to the meat on sticks. This time, it was also less fun for me because Raelynn was with me. I love the kid to pieces and even though other people were looking out for her, I wanted to keep my own eyes on her.

But we got to leave early and we were gifted a box of fresh cherries which I was just ho-hum about since we already had 2 boxes of the suckers in our fridge. Then the chairman gave us all a cash bonus. Not a big one but still, enough to make us all feel appreciated. And THAT is what Teacher's Day is supposed to be about.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

On Being A Mom

Happy Mother's Day to all my family and friends, near and far! Of course, it doesn't need to be the official Mother's Day for me to think about my moms. I think about them all the time. For years, I hated Mother's Day after Mom(Rae) had died. I was so bitter for so long. And then when I was in high school, my dad met Mom(Sherry Lynn) and thus, I came to know two wonderful moms in my life. And Mother's Day didn't suck as much anymore.

Each of my moms shaped my world. I will never forget Mom(Rae)'s laugh. Or the way her voice sounded. I remember very clearly being perhaps just a bit older than Raelynn is now, brushing my mom's long hair. I suddenly began whipping it up all over in the back, searching. "Jennifer, what are you doing???" she asked me. And I told her: "I'm looking for the eyes in the back of your head." She laughed and laughed and laughed at this, realizing that I believed everything she ever said to me. How else could she possibly know what Phillip and I were destroying when she wasn't looking if for no extra eyes buried deep beneath her hair?

I remember the way she was a good person and how she was always trying to teach us we were so lucky to have the kind of life we had. She spent a lot of time volunteering for Kids in Distress and I loved helping her round up my old toys and clothes to donate so I could help too. Every time anyone spoke of her after she died, they always told me what a good person she was. When my friend Melissa (who I'd known since first grade) got married, her mom told me about how she liked my mom so much. She said all the other moms were so snobby. But my mom had as much as, if not more than they, and she was so down-to-earth and so lovely. It made me happy to know these things about my mom. And a little sad too.

For years, I carried around guilt that I was not as good a person as her. I could be mean. Beyond mean. Heartless at times. I went through a lot, trying to hide my pain. When you are left with a hole in your heart at age 9, it's hard to keep it from falling apart completely.

Not one day has passed since Mom(Rae) died that I haven't thought about her. And I truly believe she helped my dad find Mom(Sherry Lynn). A mom who was tough as nails on the outside and tender and kind as could be inside. She never sugarcoats anything and she never once gave up on me, even when I had pretty much given up on myself. She never once complained when any of us talked about Mom(Rae). In fact, she was always happy to listen. And Mom(Sherry Lynn) had the hardest job of all...enduring me through my teen and college years.

And now that I'm a mom myself, I look at my two moms and am grateful for both of them. I will always wish Mom(Rae) had never died, but I'm so happy I didn't get a stepmom...I got a Mom-Mom.

This morning, my husband ordered me to go back to sleep and get the rest I'm always dreaming about. He kept Raelynn busy for a while. Then, she came into our room and crawled into the bed. "Hi Mommy! I love you!" I cried, both tears of happiness and tears of sorrow. And I prayed to God that I would not die young like Mom(Rae). If I can have anything I want, the thing I want the most is to not miss my children growing up.

I quickly shook away the sorrow and just relished this moment in time with Raelynn. This is my last Mother's Day with just her. Next year, two little angels will climb all over me, and hopefully, Jeremy will be able to handle them both while I get some extra rest.

We went out to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch. I really wanted to go to DaVinci in Shangri-La but there's a massive conference for some large group that's in town now and Jeremy was concerned we wouldn't be able to get in. So I chose my second choice, Milano's, in the lovely and vibrant coffee street area. We had pizza, lasagna and creme caramel. Or should I say we got a bite or two of the creme caramel before Raelynn gobbled the whole thing up. Oh well...there's plenty of dessert items in our home so I'm not too worried.

A nice lunch with my sweet little family and a big compliment made my day. Before we left, Raelynn was chatting away about how old she is. "I'm 3! I'm 3!" she cheered. "Raelynn, how old is Mommy?" I ask her. "Mommy is 4," she tells me, and just like Mom(Rae), I laugh and laugh and laugh, and I savor the preciousness of that moment so that I can enjoy it forever.

Mom(Rae) when she was young. Not sure what age she is in this photo.

 Me, not sure what age, but right at home in our 70s kitchen.

 Raelynn, age 3. We all have that same face. Sometimes, when I look at her, I feel like I'm a toddler again staring at my face in the mirror. 

Not to negate any of my other accomplishments in my life, but I am probably most proud of being a mom. It is the hardest, yet the best and most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. Jeremy, thank you for making me a mommy. And Raelynn, I'm so happy I get to be YOUR mommy. I love you so much. And one day when you wonder just how much that is, perhaps playing with your own kids, I want you to look at them and feel that endless, bottomless fountain of love brewing inside of you, and then you will truly know how much I love you and how I will never stop loving you no matter what. 

Random Yuck

Another Saturday, another yuck discovered in my kitchen. Missed my previous posts on the various yucky items MIL has left for us in our kitchen? Then just click here for the last one. It links to all the prior yucks, for your convenience.

I was cleaning and found where my in-laws, or perhaps even my own husband, had stashed the doors to the 2 small over-the-door cabinets that the repair guy had dismantled to redo the pipes. They were on the side of the refrigerator next to the window. So I went to move them more into the crevice there and that's when I discovered this random yuck...
 My husband occasionally sticks boxes back here. They're good for bulk trash. But what they AREN'T good for is stashing pieces of green onion.

 Who wants me to cook for them using old, dried up green onions? Not you? Yeah, not me either. Especially considering we have some in the refrigerator where they belong that I'd rather use to cook for you, me or anyone else who comes through here.

This is why I try not to eat much of what she cooks. See, in winter, she can get away with leaving this kinds of things out, even though I think it's slovenly and disgusting and don't at all want my kitchen kept that way. But you can't salvage this. For someone who complains about wasting food, you'd think she'd be more careful to store food properly. As you can see, it's molding. I threw it away but I should have bagged it up and saved it for her to take home. Waste not, want not! Thanks again for yucking up my kitchen, MIL!

Wolverine Was Here

Yesterday morning, I walked into the kitchen and discovered this...
So I turned to my husband and asked him if by chance Wolverine had come by for a bowl of Coco Balls (which, in the states, you know as Coco Puffs but for whatever reason, they call them Coco Balls here).

Jeremy confessed that no superheros had visited us for breakfast. It was him. Just why he ripped it open with the kind of voracity you'd rip open a new roll of toilet paper when you have explosive diarrhea is beyond me. That part remains a mystery.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Whisked Away

Ah, the weekend. I can't even believe how long this week felt. Maybe because we only had a 3-day workweek last week. Or maybe because it just dragged on because of my slow-witted students. In any case, the weekend is here and I'm happily destressifying. Well, as much as a pregnant mom with a toddler can unwind in any event.

I'm thinking about Mother's Day and hoping for a lovely, fun, relaxing day where I feel treasured, pampered and not at all aggravated in any way. Yeah, I know. Good luck with that, right? It would be so nice to be whisked away on some incredible vacation filled with fancy hotels, shopping and dining. I'll settle for a fancy lunch somewhere nice and a day with no visits from the dimwits. That is my vision for a truly perfect day.

Of course, something has been whisked away and sadly, it is not me. It is my actual whisk. I cannot find it anywhere in our home. I noticed when I went to make hollandaise sauce. My whisk was not with the spatulas and other cooking utensils like it should be. I sigh heavily and dig through the drawer of miscellaneous kitchen utensils and other crap (where my rolling pin can usually be found covered in flour and dough bits thanks to MIL) but it's not there either. I check the other drawers just in case but no whisk. I check logical places and illogical ones too and it is gone, baby, gone! My husband thinks I'm crazy to accuse his parents of this. Who else would it be? You? I put my whisk in the same place every time. Someone else moved it. I am not out of line for saying that. I didn't say one of my in-laws did it on purpose. I just think they moved it somewhere else. I hate when they do this too because it is MY kitchen. Please put things back where you found them.

But the whisk is not the only thing that has disappeared. Raelynn's craft apron has also vanished. I had it on the shelf above our shoe cabinet by the front door. It was there when the guy came to fix our sink. My in-laws moved a lot of the stuff that was over in that area into the living room so the guy could work without ruining the things that were there. Each week, I have to pack it for when she has her pottery class on Wednesdays. After that class, it gets sent home to be cleaned. I had set it there so I could toss it into the next load of laundry. But now it is nowhere to be found. I've checked all over the place and Jeremy even asked his mother. She said she hadn't seen it. Moron. I bet she accidentally threw it out or it's buried somewhere idiotic where I'll never find it. I even checked the shoe cabinet, thinking she threw it in there, but it's not there. I'm running out of places to check.

Most recently, one of Raelynn's small dolls that she likes to sleep with has also gone missing. This is most likely Raelynn's doing but it was there when I got her out of bed one morning. We went to school and before bedtime, I noticed it wasn't in her bed. She could have taken it out of her bed and put it somewhere else but I cannot find it. Thankfully, she hasn't asked about it or worse, cried. Nothing is worse than a child that won't go to sleep because something isn't quite right and there is no way you can make right what is wrong.

Well, something is worse than that move your things around from the places you usually keep them. Or just in-laws, period.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Parents Day!

For Americans like me, this upcoming Sunday is Mother's Day. But for the Korean kids I teach, today, May 8th, is Parents Day. The other English teacher and I always did cards for both Mother's Day and Father's Day, but it was decided this year that on Parents Day, English teachers would help the kids make cards and the Korean teachers would help the kids make a craft. Hey, that's one less card for us to deal with.

I made a card with a front/back design. Because of the winter holidays, we're never in school for Valentine's Day, so I thought why not fashion my card to look like a Valentine? I cut red squares out and then cut pink hearts. On the hearts, I wrote "Happy Parents Day" in pencil so my kids could trace them without making mistakes. I'd have my kids glue this heart to one side and use their markers to doodle some hearts or whatever they felt like on the heart. Then, on the other side, they would glue a piece of paper with a message they would write themselves. And by that, I mean they would copy a message I made for them from the board.

Never before have I ever had a problem with my students completing the task in previous years. NEVER. I've had some wonky gluings but no one has ever had trouble copying the message and assembling the card in 40 minutes. EVER.

Until now.

I swear, I have the most defective class. And I thought this would be easier with The Chihuahua in Korea! Boy was I wrong! With The Chihuahua gone, I had 19 students present today. Out of those 19, only 12 were able to finish the card in 40 minutes. After this class slot, it was break time for me and Chinese class for them. When I returned for our 40 minute-class before lunch, I decided to reward the 12 who finished their work properly with $5 in play money. For the other 7 slowpokes, I rewrote the message for the card on half the board and made them finish the card while I taught a lesson about things you find in town (library, restaurant, movie theater, etc.). I could not even believe it when it was time to get them ready to go to the cafeteria for lunch...2 girls STILL had not finished this simple card!

I lectured them and told the Korean teacher. I was absolutely stunned. After 2 months of school, these kids should be used to copying shit down that I write on the board. I have given them tons of assignments involving this very thing and never had this low of a success rate. When I came back for my last class at the end of the day, Christina the Korean teacher was yelling at the 2 girls who even still had not finished the card. She was packaging up their cards into a nice bag with the craft they made with her so it would look nice when they gave it to their parents. Sarah and Lily, the 2 non-finishers were totally holding up production on this.

Is it unreasonable of me to expect 7 year old children to be able to copy something off the board in a timely fashion? I don't think so. I know I'm not being too harsh because Christina has expected the children to write their own cards with me since I started working there.

Once Sarah and Lily FINALLY finished dragging their asses, I gave the children another writing assignment. I wasn't trying to punish was just what I had coincidentally in my lesson plan for this class period. I gave them a sentence to write:
In the hay by the lake we will eat a lot of cake.

It's from our phonics book. We're studying the long 'a' sound now. I asked the children to write it 5 times and I offered them $10 in play money for completing the task. I've done this with them so many times and I can tell you that most of the time, most of the students have been able to finish. About 5 - 7 usually don't for varied reasons. One is The Chihuahua, and I kind of expect that from him since he's just started learning to write. Another is a boy who seems to have some kind of mental block. He's brilliant but if you ask him to speak on cue, he clams up. His handwriting is beautiful and he knows what he's doing but when I have these sorts of assignments, despite the play money reward, he won't comply. Even though I gave them the same amount of time to finish as I usually do, only 10 of them actually finished the work. The other 9 all blew it. I seriously wanted to bang my head repeatedly onto the desk. I am at a loss for words. I have never seen such a lethargic group of kids.

After I led them out to the school buses, I went into the office and found Raelynn's bag along with a gift for Jeremy and me. For Parents Day! And it was just what I needed after having the thankless task of teaching this batch of students.

Check out what Raelynn made for us!
 Ok, ok. So she didn't make this on her own of course. I think on this item, Teacher Kelly is responsible. But it's so adorable! It says "Mom Dad I love you" in Korean on the top. And I just love the face she's making in this photo. Here's a closer look...

 Look at that face! It's like she's giving us that "Please don't be mad at me" look. Seriously, I can't stay mad at anything when I look at this face!

There were also cards.

 This one is mine. It says "Mom I love you" in Korean (oema saranghaeyo). Raelynn obviously did the coloring.

 Jeremy got one too.

His says "Dad I love you" (ahppa saranghaeyo).

I love it. Even though we don't celebrate Parents Day. Jeremy and I celebrate the American holidays for both Mother's Day and Father's Day. Which means this Sunday, someone should be spoiling me rotten. I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ay Chihuahua!

It was so lovely to have a 4-day weekend. Even if my in-laws did ruin a perfectly good Sunday evening. And my entire Monday. For the next 2 weeks though, work is a happy place at least. Because for the next 2 weeks, I will be free of The Chihuahua.

The Chihuahua is my nickname for one of the boys in my class. He's a sweet enough little thing. But he's so exhausting and difficult to deal with that even the Korean teacher wants to strangle him most of the time. I chose this nickname because he literally runs in circles and is constantly yapping. He's not a thieving liar though, like another student I wrote about. However, that doesn't mean he's not just as horrible to deal with.

Even though he is Korean, this boy spent the majority of his 7 years living in other countries, like Brazil and Portugal. It's kind of cool that he can speak Portuguese, especially when that language shares quite a few words with Spanish, a language I am so much more familiar with. Sadly though, this kid has the lowest English skills I've ever had come through my classroom. And that's saying a lot because this is honestly THE worst class I've ever had. Not all the children are bad, mind you. They're just not smart.

The Chihuahua definitely ranks at the bottom of my class. Not only is he miles behind his classmates, but he's also constantly disruptive. Not in a malicious way either. He just acts like a baby. I've never before seen a child his age act so childishly, and believe me, I have seen TONS of immature children. He grabs his crotch and whines, "Shi shi shi!" Which is Korean for "pee." All my other kids can ask me properly to use the bathroom. Or at the very least say "bathroom." But not the Chihuahua.

He constantly runs down the halls. Many of the children are guilty of this offense, sure. But he takes it to a whole new level. He could totally win a race with the way he runs. The running sucks but everything he does makes me nuts. He even annoys the other Korean teachers who don't have him in their class!

He shrieks like a girl and makes screeching sounds. He darts away when you try to walk him to his school bus, nearly running into traffic. He takes off his shoes during class. Crawls on the floor. Plays with garbage. He can't put on his jacket by himself. Or hang it up. Or squeeze his toothpaste onto his toothbrush. I mean, seriously you guys. I could go on and on and on AND ON about this kid. But I won't. Because I am free of his constant interruptions and babyish behavior for 2 weeks. Ahhhh. It's like being on a vacation. Almost anyway.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Kill, Kill, Kill...

Sometimes I wonder if my husband's parents even have brains in their heads or if it's just filled with dust bunnies...the kind you'd find under your couch. Except more, because, well, they're total idiots. And sometimes I wonder if my husband forgets that I am pregnant and don't need added stress. It is a good thing guns are not legal in this country because I've had to restrain myself this entire evening from trying to fillet the 3 of them. His parents more so than him.

I was getting ready to cook dinner when the door opened and guess what hideous beast crossed the threshold before I could slam and lock the door? Yes, the head troll. She said she'd come to make wontons for Raelynn and I wanted to punch her in the throat. Because I, the pregnant person, should not ever be permitted to eat something that remotely fucking resembles food. Usually, I love her wontons. But when she serves them so often, they lose their deliciousness in my eyes.

She shuffles around my kitchen and now she's in my way. How am I to make something that sounds appealing to me? Or make something normal for my daughter who is finally getting her appetite back on the tail-end of the illness she caught? Oh but no. Fatass is in my way in the kitchen with no plans to move. It's then that I completely lose my appetite.

I text my husband and let him know that now I am severely depressed. After all, he was the one who told me they wouldn't be coming for dinner tonight and I could make something I wanted for dinner. Fortunately, he arrived home soon after, while the head troll was stinking up my kitchen. He said he didn't know they'd be coming for dinner today. He went to the kitchen to talk to her and she said her heart was breaking because all she wanted to do was cook for Raelynn. YOUR heart is breaking?!? FUCK YOU. I just want some fucking peace and quiet on a weeknight without you barging into my crappy-ass kitchen to make us food we don't want to eat.

It is at this exact moment that I completely lose my mind. Gone. Buh-bye. My husband then realizes that this is making me insane and tries to soothe me. He tells me because Raelynn is sick, his mom wants to help and that she'll back off for a few days. Except not really. Tomorrow she'll come feed Raelynn soup because I am too stupid to do this myself. I mean really. I loathe this woman right now.

My husband did save the day by bringing a duck home for dinner so at least I had something I wanted to eat. But I couldn't eat much of it. And then, after eating, my FIL tells my husband that he wants to take Raelynn to buy some fruit. It is 7:15 at this point and I'm seething. NO. I put my foot down about it but my husband just lifted it up and let them go, saying they would be back in 15 minutes. 15 minutes go by. 20. 30. 40. And I begin to scream and cry, convinced that she's been stolen away by thieves in the night or that my moron FIL has let her get hit by a car or something horrid. I can barely breathe. I demanded of my husband to find my daughter NOW.

That was agonizing, waiting and wondering what the fuck was going on. 10 minutes later, I heard my precious daughter in the stairs leading up to our apartment. I flung open the door and hugged and kissed her like crazy. Now it's after 8pm, when she's normally in bed. And this kid needs a bath. By the way, she's still recovering from being sick. What a splendidly brilliant idea to take a child who has had a fever off and on for days out into the night. To buy fruit. We have a giant watermelon! And a shit-ton of mangoes. Asshole. Because THAT won't make her more sick. Oh no. Blame ME for not putting a blanket on her while she was fucking napping in 3 layers of clothes on the sofa. Go ahead.

And do you think my husband will even say, "Hey Dad, that was not very cool what you did"? No! He doesn't seem bothered by this. Right now, I am fighting the urge to beat the living shit out of all 3 of them. I think most people would say I'm justified for doing so. My husband singing happy songs while in the bathroom just clinches it for me.

I fucking hate everybody right now.

The Sink Saga Continues

Well, I thought yesterday's sink situation sucked. That is until we woke up this morning...
Yup. That's about 1 inch of water covering our kitchen floor. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Honey, heat up the grill and I'll make the margaritas! Oh, what's that? You don't WANT a swimming pool in the kitchen? Ok, well then call that repair guy again.

Supposedly, it is the hot water heater under the sink that is to blame. A new one will come tomorrow. My in-laws thought to one-up us and buy us a new water heater for the shower as well. It's kind of them but I do not want them doing this. You know why. Because they will use it as collateral for everyfuckingthing. They will butt into every aspect of our lives even more than they already do. Take right now for example. I have an old goat-faced zombie lurking around my kitchen again. She just showed up while I was about to make dinner and told me she's come to make wontons for Raelynn. GET OUT. She asked if I wanted them. No. Thank you. I'm already sick of your wontons. You make them ALL. THE. TIME. I do NOT want to eat the same food every day. I am not a dog. I have completely lost my appetite. Too bad the swimming pool is gone now...I want to push her into the deep end.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


I just want to relax on my Sunday evening. Of course, because it is just what I want, it is not what I'm getting. Not by a long shot.

This was a mostly marvelous 4-day weekend. On Thursday, my husband took Raelynn and me to a botanical gardens park. We'd never been and it was just what we needed. We packed snacks of melons and chips and found a quiet place to munch on them. It satiated my desire to get out and do something yet not be stuck with lots of crowds and made Jeremy happy as well. He'd initially suggested going out to Laoshan Mountain, where his parents have another house. I've shown you that house before. If you haven't seen it or you forgot how much it sucks, click here. Even if they didn't have property out there, I hate it out there. HATE IT. It is so unbelievably boring, it makes you feel like you are waiting for death.

After the park, we went to a total dump of a place for lunch. It was a Chinese BBQ place. I was a bit apprehensive but I didn't want to spoil the mood by whining. Turns out, the food was amazing. We had a great lunch and then we did a little shopping out in Taidong. It was fantastic.

Our Friday was also a nice family day. We went looking at big girl beds for Raelynn so we could get a feel for what our options were and at what prices. We've still yet to make a decision but those fancy showrooms made me feel right at home. I had no idea they even had furniture this nice out here. Equally as confusing were the prices...I have no idea who can afford that furniture either. It was expensive to us and we're not struggling. We found a great bed that was raised up with storage drawers underneath. It had a railing and an adorable little 3-step ladder to climb up. The price? 6,000rmb. For comparison, Raelynn's crib cost us 600rmb. Yeah.

Later though, that's when things began to suck. Raelynn was coughing and had a fever. Saturday was spent trying to deal with her being sick. We wanted to take her to the doctor but his office was closed for the holiday. Today, Sunday, my husband had to return to work. Yes, that's right. Because in China, they will give Chinese people days off during the week and then expect them to work on the weekend to make them up. Which defeats the purpose of a holiday if you ask me. My school is a Korean school and they feel much like the rest of us Westerners about it - we are NOT coming in on the weekend to make up a holiday, thanks.

Worried about us getting to the doctor and language issues, my husband called his boss to say he'd be a little late. Then off to the doctor's we went. Aside from a fever that broke during the day but returned at night, we had a coughing, sneezing little munchkin. One who had no appetite. We should have known something was wrong when she couldn't finish a piece of chocolate she'd received as a reward for making a poop in the potty. The doctor gave us something that seems to be working. No more fever and my poor little princess fell sound asleep watching cartoons while I was cleaning.

As I finished my chores quietly, my phone rang. It was my husband telling me that those 2 imbeciles that he calls parents are going to come over later to make Raelynn noodles.

Yes, noodles. Because Lord knows I am too fucking stupid to make and serve noodles to my daughter. I need these 2 to come make them. I mean COME ON! My husband wouldn't hear my pleas and now I'm a bit steamed actually. These fuckmunches come and butt into my life constantly. It's not that they want to see Raelynn. They want to be in charge of everyfuckingthing and that is what pisses me off.

So here they are, making a fucking mess in my kitchen. Asking me why the sink is leaking again. Telling me I haven't dressed my daughter warmly enough (I have her in a long sleeve t-shirt, jeans and socks and we are indoors with the windows closed with an outside temperature of 64F). Telling me she has a fever when the thermometer says her temperature is fine. Taking her outside for a walk when they are telling me it's too cold in here for her (it's not fucking cold!!!). Forcing her to eat watermelon when the kid doesn't have an appetite for anything, especially chocolate, her favorite. The list goes on and on. And my husband? He might be a little late returning from work. So I am stuck with Wingus and Dingus over here, ruining what should be a peaceful Sunday evening. Making me food that smells like it was dug out of the garbage. Squawking away at each other like chickens about to be plucked and boiled alive.

My husband says to be polite. "Just take a bite of something she gives you and that will satisfy her." Sorry Honey, but I think you hit your head on something. Whether I like something or don't, whether I am hungry or full, my in-laws will both keep putting things onto my plate. They won't stop no matter how nicely I ask. And that's with things I like! I once had my FIL keep peeling shrimp and putting them on my plate. I kept asking him to please stop but he wouldn't. I BEGGED him to please eat the shrimp but he kept dropping them on my plate for me as if I was incapable of grabbing them myself. So if they do that with things I like, imagine how much it sucks for them to do it with things I don't want to eat. It is so beyond frustrating and I am completely running out of patience for this kind of shit. Gah!

I Spoke Too Soon

Shame on me. I should have KNOWN that even after all that idiotic Chinese-style repair work, we would still have leaks. It was only a matter of time. Our floor stayed dry for one week. Now look...
This is what happens when I wash the dishes. Oh for fuck's sake!

I hate this stupid fucking house. Whoever designed this building should be beat in the face with a brick. If you have first world problems, shove them up your ass. I've got third world problems right here. Stay tuned to find out what will happen next in The Sink Saga.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Engrish Librarian

At school, we start the students in kindergarten early into the AR (Accelerated Reader) program. Each week, several of my students get books to take home from the school library. They must read those books and then they can take a small test on the book they read from their home computer. It's a great program in my opinion.

But this year, I find it aggravating to say the least. My Western boss and friend, Patrick, is our kindergarten coordinator. He's also in charge of the AR program. Last year, everything was running smoothly. This year, despite his best efforts, things are a huge pain in the ass. And I place the blame squarely on Laulen, the new librarian. Or riblalian I should say.

Last year, we had a Chinese teacher named Kate who would bring down the books to send home. She was always on time and always helpful. But at the end of last year, she left to go have another baby. This year, we've been graced with Laulen.

When we first met Laulen, she seemed nice enough. She introduced herself and I asked, "You mean 'Lauren'?" And she replied, "No, it's 'Laulen'." To which my fellow English teacher, Jon, and I exchanged looks and quickly looked away before cracking up. He, as politely as possible asks her, "How do you spell that?" And she replied, "L-A-U-L-E-N." Yes, really. Oh the joys of Engrish!

So now, we have a Chinese teacher with the Engrish name of Laulen bringing us books. It's not just that her name is a non-name, as Patrick and I had discussed. It's that she's also exceedingly incompetent. So much so, I am not sure how she manages to put one foot in front of the other to walk down the hall without falling to her doom daily.

Every week, she has mixed up the books for my students. She's labeled the books wrong and assigned them to the wrong students. She's also assigned books that my students read last year to them again this year, and hence, they've had to send them back in and get a new book. Quite frankly, I don't think Patrick is at all surprised anymore when I pop him an email that says we need to change out one of my student's books again. I can almost hear him sigh heavily along with me.

Last week, she gave one of my brightest students a book he'd already read. So she trotted back down (after constant reminders to do so) with an easy-peasy book for this student. Meanwhile, she assigned an extremely difficult book - one that is actually for students in elementary, not kindergarten - to one of my most dense students. I wanted to bang my head on my desk until I was unconscious.

Is it because she has a defective name? I don't understand how Chinese people have this problem. My husband doesn't confuse 'l' and 'r' sounds. His thing is saying "soup" when he means "soap" and vice versa. Korean people have an excuse for confusing 'l' and 'r' sounds though. It's because of this character in the Korean alphabet:

That little guy can make an 'l' or 'r' sound depending on how it's used in a word. In Chinese, characters are just characters. There is no alphabet which is why I find it so infuriating at times. Korean was much easier to learn.

Knowing about this, it is easier for me to be slightly more sympathetic to my students when they tell me "Lyan is lunning" instead of "Ryan is running." I have the power to help them change that. Incidentally, there is no 'f' sound in Korean either. They just use:

That one makes a 'p' sound. It's why I gave up introducing myself as "Jennifer" in Korea and took on "Jenny." Otherwise my name was said as "Jen-ni-poh." Oh yes, and there is no 'v' sound either. They use:

It makes a 'b' sound and in some cases, a 'p' sound. Which is why I was amused but not surprised when I saw the Korean teacher labeling things for an "Olibia" last year. Thankfully, I stepped in or else I'd be stuck calling this poor girl "Olibia" instead of "Olivia."

I'm left to wonder how I deal with Laulen this year. Part of me feels sorry for her. I mean, her name! Lauren is a beautiful name and happens to be one of my best friend's names. But Laulen? Sigh. Oh girl. You need a real name! The other part of me is annoyed by her for her insistence on using a non-name as her English name and even more so for her incapability of checking a fucking list on a computer to see what books my students should get.

I'm also left to wonder if she tells her friends she's the riblalian at our school. Now that would be priceless.