Monday, November 26, 2012

Wants and Needs

We just read The Berenstein Bears and Too Much Junk Food to start our Social Studies unit of Wants vs. Needs. The kids got the concept down really well, so then we moved down the hall to do Centers. A few of the students went to the Play-Doh center to play a new favorite game called Chopped. It's kind of like Iron Chef, in that everyone makes a "food" and the judge chooses one person who gets "chopped" (doesn't go to the next round). They were on their first round and they told me they wanted me to help judge. Being that it was the end of the day and I was exhausted and recovering from our recent Thanksgiving Break, I quickly tried to think of an excuse to get out of it. Trying to pull our day together, I said, "I can't eat any more junk food. It will make me chubby like Papa Bear."
Student #1: MS. WACEKKKK. It's just pretend food!
Student #2: Well, you're already a little chubby, so, it's ok.

Ugh. Thank you, brutally honest children.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Fest Success!

As you saw in my Pumpkins post, it's been a little bit of a welcome challenge to bring Fall to Malaysia. We talk about it at school, we pretend that 75 degree weather and a thunderstorm constitutes wearing a sweatshirt, and we bake pumpkin cookies. To make it even more official, we decided to hold a Fall Fest! Since Halloween marked the last day of the 1st quarter and we have to be off-site on Thursdays, we decided that November 1st would be a perfect day for the event.

And it was! We started decorating the multi-purpose hall of my condo building at 8 am. Families started arriving at 8:45 and we got started with the games at 9:15! First activity was a family photo scavenger hunt. Teams had 30 minutes to find and take a picture of everything on the list. They took off running and had a great time being creative with their finds!
After the hunt, we played a school-wide game of Capture the Pumpkin (a festive-version of Capture the Flag). It was a BLAST! Parents and students were getting into it: dodging, sliding, tagging, falling, guarding, and capturing!
This picture perfectly expresses the intensity of the game!

After 3 rounds of the game, everyone was ready to eat, so we went inside for a huge, scrumptious cookie cake, made by one of the moms. It also happened to be our director's birthday, so we sang to him and gave him some gifts, too!

Then it was time for some good ol' fashioned carnival games! We had apple bobbing, bowling, ping pong toss, knock down the cans, cornhole, face-painting, frog hop, and football toss. We had found American candies for prizes and the kids had fun running around, playing games, and filling up their prize bags!

When the pizza arrived, we rounded everyone up to eat and then said our farewells and started cleaning up. It was only a 3 hour party, but it was exhausting! We had originally scheduled pumpkin carving into the plans, but ran out of time with everything else. So we sent them with families to do
at home. A few of the parents said they'd have to google directions because they'd never carved a pumpkin before and didn't know how!

Great cultural experience for our non-American students! A good memories and stand-in Fall Fest for our American teachers!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Still Tourists!

We have a grand total of six people on our school staff. Thus, when visitors from the home office come to see KL, there's not a lot of opportunity for 'pawning them off' on someone else. :) As a result, Jalah, Clay, and I have become the go-to 'tour guides' of the city for visitors. I love this job! It's so easy for us to become consumed by schoolwork and our daily lives that we forget to take time to appreciate that we live in a foreign, semi-popular city!

Since we had just done a tour last month with other visitors, we decided we'd hit the hot spots, but also try to throw in some new sites. We started with the Petronas Towers, which never disappoint. They're so beautiful and one of these days we'll actually pay the money to go across the bridge near the top!

From there, we headed over toward Independence Square. The stop we had to get off at was Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque), which is one of the oldest Mosques in KL. Built in 1909 (thank you, Wikipedia!). At first we weren't sure if we would be allowed to go in because we were not dressed for the occasion, but we quickly saw a sign saying they loaned out free robes to visitors. Had they mentioned that said robes were made out of a leather/polyester mix, we may have decided it wasn't worth sweating to death just to see the place, but we had to learn our lesson the hard way. It was a really pretty piece of architecture!

After a quick trip around, we handed in our sweatsuits and continued on to Independence Square. After a quick look at the clock tower, the world's largest gong and almost seeing a man get hit by oncoming traffic, we decided to walk to Chinatown. I had walked there once before, from a completely different location, so felt very confident that I could lead get us there once again. Thankfully, I was able to get us there, but not before we saw an interesting looking structure. We decided to investigate and happened upon one of our new favorite tour stops! For whatever reason, no one had told us about Central Market, which is like Chinatown, but better. First of all, it's air conditioned. Secondly, there are restaurants there. Thirdly, the products being sold are not knock-off American brands, but handmade Asian crafts and goods. Fourthly, there is a fish "foot massage" booth here.

Are they sharks or fish?
 I'm not sure if any of you have done this whole "fish eat the dead skin off-your-feet thing, but I was a little nervous. Beside the fact that the fish were HUGE, the whole concept just kind of weirded me out, and I knew it would tickle. The boys did it first and based on their reactions, we knew it just too unique of an adventure to pass up. My preconceived notions were pretty spot on. It was the WEIRDEST feeling ever. Imagine a fish the length of your hand with a suctiony mouth nibbling at your big toe... or heel... or calf... or any piece of you that had skin. About halfway through our "exfoliation" we discovered that there was another tank next door, with the smaller fish that most people would imagine for this experience. Oh well, live and learn! Jalah and I couldn't keep our feet under the water for longer than it took to take a picture, so we just let them nibble on our heels. Even that was almost too much. When we got out, though, and our heels were sparkling clean and so fresh, we decided that next time we'd go all in, no matter what. :)

Above the massage or exfoliation, I think our favorite part of this stop was watching other people's reactions! There was one British guy who made the CRAZIEST sounds and facial expressions and even accidentally kicked a fish onto Jalah when he started flailing his legs!

Another KL tour success! We keep getting better at them! By the time YOU come and visit, we'll know ALL the hot spots! So, when's it going to be??

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rainy Season!

I LOVE IT! Malaysian rainy season is quite amazing. It's not what you're probably imagining  (and what I thought I remembered from Indonesia) of just non-stop rain for 6 months. We don't have 'drizzle' (or 'dribble' as one of my kindergarteners likes to say!) here. We have all or nothing.

Every morning, the skies are a beautiful bright blue, with maybe a cloud or two. By around 2, the clouds roll in out of nowhere and the sky gets DARK. From 2:30-3 we have the BRIGHTEST lightning and the LOUDEST thunder I've ever seen and heard. We live on the 19th floor. It sounds and feels like it's going to split the apartment right in half. I LOVE IT! Sometimes it's a looooong rumbling thunder. Other times it's an eardrum-shattering splitting thunder. It's so remarkable.

About 10 minutes after the lightning and thunder start, the rain rolls in. Huge drops, often moving sideways. It may actually be raining cats and dogs. You get soaked in an instant if you're caught in it. But then, after about 15 minutes, just as quickly as it came, it's gone. The skies go back to a beautiful, cloudless blue and the wet ground is all there is to show for it.

The storms do keep the temperatures cooler and usually brings a nice breeze... we like to claim it as our own little version of Fall. I tried go get one on video, but it just doesn't do it justice. You still have a few more months to come check it out for yourself! ;) 

The "static" sound is the rainfall. The foggy-ness is the rainfall. The thunder is one of the 'rumbling ones', but not nearly as loud as a lot of them. I'll try to get a better example over the next few days.

The other teachers and I have made a goal to play in one of these rainstorms over the next few weeks... without getting electrocuted, of course. :)