full swing

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Setting up classrooms, smelling paint, meetings, seeing old friends, the exhaustion…..school must be starting. I believe I speak for many teachers when I say that I am excited/sad/tired/hopeful all at the same time.  I love school but I also love the beach. And sleeping later.  Lots to do, but I will love getting to know my new students and seeing my former kiddos.

Kids show up next week and another year begins.  Cheers to my teacher friends around the globe!

 

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Tonya….soon to only be known as Mrs. Garrick;)

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We had a whirlwind trip to the U.S., full of airports and long car rides, visiting family and friends and lots of shopping. I do not like shopping. At all. That being said, my tall kids and their parents needed clothes. We stocked up on stuff, threw in some Target, Amazon  and Wal Mart randomness and called it good. 

We had fun seeing cousins and friends in (HOT) MS and AL, fishing and kneeboarding, bowling and swimming, celebrating July 4th and my Dad’s birthday and eating too much. 

This is my last week before school starts. The 2nd year overseas should be a breeze! (please, please, please)  The kids have 2 weeks. Only 1 kid is excited. Guess who!

Quick summer breakdown in (a lot of!) photos…

 

  

    
    
    
    

  
   
    
    
 
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because I screenshot everything, hoping I’ll actually remember good ideas! ❤️ I still love middle schoolers! 

Happy Summer, y’all! 

  

So Close!

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Only 2 1/2 more school days! Jacob asked me what we would be eating during the summer. I guess he questions my abilities to provide meals. 

That means that next year we’ll have 1st, 7th and 10th graders. Mhmm. I’m not sure that’s going to work for me. 

I was chatting with my British neighbor (so, read with an accent) and her friends who are also teachers and they said that the first year overseas is terrible. The hardest. You can’t make decisions and feel out of control. Really? You don’t say… 

This school year is ending with saying goodbye to students and friends, some only for the summer but some for longer.  Bittersweet is an understatement. I’m not usually the “girlfriend” type but I’ve met friends that I didn’t know I needed.

Everyone is ready for the break. Time for relaxing (after the flight, of course!) and visiting our people. We’ll be in our Southern homes mid June, where there is brewed iced tea. Jacob wants fried rice when we get there and we all want Memphis Pizza. But, I’m sure we’ll miss our Gong Cha!

A few “day in the life” pictures:

   
    
   
Happy Spring and Summer!

Latest Adventures in Asia

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We went to Thailand over Spring Break.  Well, 4 of us did.  Caleb went on a service trip to Cambodia. So, now he wants to go to Thailand and we want to go to Cambodia.  Not sure how that’s going to work out….

A few pictures……(maybe some that weren’t on FB? Who knows?)

So, it turns out, Thailand is super hot! It was a great Spring Break, heat and all. Lots of food, shopping and many different forms of transportation.

In April, we went to Jeju Island for 1 night that turned into 2.  We had a good time touring the island with people from school…..and then the storm came;) A jillion people were stranded on the island since flights were delayed.Oh well, at least we were able to explore a bit more.  Food was running low in the airport, but the bathrooms were still clean–it’s the little things, people. We survived on dried mango–it was crazy, but a good story! (oh, we had Macadamia nuts and lots of candy, too….survived may be a bit of an exaggeration, but just go with it)

There are so many interesting places to go to on Jeju. We want to go back with all 5 of us and see the volcano and lava tubes. And the beach, of course. And any of the 100s of coffee shops on the island.  I mean, I’m glad I live in a country who values coffee the way it should be!

From my house, I could walk to 10+ coffee shops in 10 minutes. It’s great! Now, some of the coffee may come from a convenience store, but who cares? It’s (almost) just as good as that from the coffee shop! This means way too much to me….

Back to Jeju pics…..

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Caleb did some sight seeing and service projects in Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia) with a group from school. They visited different parts of the killing fields, a sad part of Cambodia’s past.

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Caleb is our creative one. His pictures are always much better than mine.

Two weekends ago, we rented bikes. It was fun, but the two youngest Garricks did fall off of their bikes. Jacob ended up with a few scrapes, but Julianna did not have anything to show for her unexpected dismount from the back of the tandem bike. We are glad Spring is here and we can go outside!

We’re almost finished with school! The children have survived and done well, overall. I’ve probably taken the longest to adjust.  I feel like I’m settling in now and it only took 9 months! We’ll be visiting the U.S. over the summer. Seeing people, going to the beach and clothes shopping are on the top of the list of “things to do this summer.” Tall people are hard to buy for in Korea.  Especially when the kids keep growing. Gah!

I started my Masters of Special Education recently.  I just began my 2nd and 3rd classes. Wish me luck!  I love so many things about special education, but one thing I do NOT love is citing sources on papers;) In the words of my 6 year old, “It’s so bored!”

 

 

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February in Seoul has been very busy and cold. I’m ready for sunshine and a beach. I also miss Target and our church in Memphis. (in that order? No!?! No.) It’s funny how I miss different things at different times. Food isn’t a big deal for me but familiar routines are. Oh, and I miss the Jeep. So I could drive to the beach.

I’m thankful for my Valentines. Caleb makes me laugh everyday and steps up when Sean is gone. Jacob is my steady, grounded one. Today, he told me that he’s glad we moved to Seoul because they have different candy to try. Important stuff! Julianna is a ball of energy. It’s never boring here. 

   
   
I was telling a friend that I’m enjoying the kids as they get older. I like being around them–they make life better.

Happy ❤️ day! 

Happy Lunar New Year!

We are on break for Lunar New Year. (I have big plans-like organizing stuff-but we’ll see how much really happens.)  We’re going to stay around Seoul over the break. It should be less crowded since people travel to see family for the holiday.  -Since it’s been so long since I’ve written a blogpost, I wanted to take a minute to bring you up to speed.

We are over halfway finished with our first school year in Seoul! The boys have really settled in and are doing well in school. Caleb just finished his basketball season. Julianna is doing okay but has had a very difficult transition. Lots of insecurities, feelings and questions to navigate. It has not been easy but it is getting better. Her speech therapist is wonderful and I believe she will continue to feel more secure as she is able to express herself better. We’re learning that she really loves music; I’m sure there will be lessons in our near future.

FAQs: Do you like the food? Yes. There are many restaurant options around and we’re getting more comfortable with the shopping/meal planning/cooking aspect. Believe me, it’s a thing.

Do you like your apartment/neighborhood ? Sure do! We have a great view, have now figured out the floor heating and we have enough bedrooms for everyone. We even have a small guest room if you want to visit! No complaints about our neighborhood either. Since we live near a recognizable hotel, it makes getting home in a taxi easier!

Do you drive or have a car? Sean has a license but I don’t. (Yet.) Driving can be problematic due to the lack of parking options. One does not, simply, hop in the car and drive to the store and find parking nearby…  So, walking and public transportation are often the easiest option!;)

How far do you live from school? 15-20 minute walk (or less when it’s freezing!), less than 10 by taxi.

Do you like Korea? Yes. It’s a busy city and its super cold right now, but we really like it. We’ve only been outside of Seoul a few times but Korea is an interesting country.

Shopping info: Sean and I are pretty limited on  our clothing and shoe options, Caleb can find most things for now, Jacob and Julianna are easy to shop for. Honestly, we don’t shop often because we restocked over Christmas break in the states. — Food shopping: bring your own bags!  Costco is available but soooo big! However, they do have the same snack bar as in the states, so that’s a plus. We can find almost everything we want and need, but it will take a multi stop shopping trip. I compare shopping here like shopping at Whole Foods all of the time. Local shops are less expensive but imported food can be more. So, we prioritize!

What food do you miss? Sean misses tea and Sweet and Low, Jacob misses Silk, grits and bacon (available, but at Costco and his mother doesn’t like going there), Caleb and I just randomly miss a variety of stuff, like canned green beans or soup. And our favorite cereal. Julianna is just fine! We all would like our favorite Mexican restaurant and maybe a Five Guys to be nearby;) Don’t feel bad, there are plenty of Western chains here, with only a slight twist. 

I’ll leave you with a few pictures…

Ju and kinetic sand

  

Eating Turkish food

  

A really good pizza!

 
 

Fall in Seoul

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I love having an actual autumn (much fancier than fall)! The colors are beautiful and today’s weather was chilly and great for walking outside. My students and I journaled outside and others did a leaf rub and described the season. Middle school students are great! They still love doing fun stuff and we have a great time in class. I love seeing their confidence grow.

Julianna’s class also went out to gather leaves for science. It was too pretty to stay indoors.

   

Leaf collecting fun!

   
Happy Autumn from Seoul, y’all!

Reaching Reluctant Writers

My dear, smart friend helps me be a better writer/teacher/professional. Despite what my picture says! We always have fun in Writer’s Workshop–you should try it, too!

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How do we inspire kids to be writers when they just don’t want to? This is the case for lots of kids. English Language Learners, perfectionists, those with insufficient experience or knowledge of a subject, those who prefer to tell stories rather than write them… the list is endless. Some kids (and adults) just don’t want to write.

Teachers can easily Google strategies to help reluctant writers- and find a plethora of resources to guide their lessons. The surest way to inspire writers is to be one… and share your ideas, your struggles, your stories. When I show a student the way I have used a certain strategy, in my own notebook, it shows them that I am in this with them- not teacher to student… but writer to writer. That is deep.

My Writer's Notebook. I need to fancy it up with pictures and ideas for stories! My Writer’s Notebook. I need to fancy it up with pictures and ideas for stories!

This morning, I…

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Birthday Prayer

Sean gave me a few books that I LOVE for my birthday.  I want to share one of the prayers that was in the Celtic Prayers From Jona. This was the one from my actual birthday, and it resonated with me so I wanted to share it.

 O Christ of the road

of the wounded

O Christ of the tears

of the broken

In me and with me

the needs of the world

Grant me my prayers

of loving and hoping

Grant me my prayers

of yearning and healing.

You are behind me and before me, O God. You lay your hand upon me.

(Ps 139:5)

Holding Space

City life has been quite the adjustment. Seoul is busy, noisy, crowded with parks and green space mixed in. There is always something to do/go see/visit.  I’ve found that I have to guard my time or I’m going, going, going all the time. This is completely the same as life in the states. While I’ve had to adjust to life in a new country, life is the same everywhere we are. Family, work, rest….it’s always a balancing act. My goal this year, being our first year living as expats, is to soak in as much of the culture as possible while also making sure there is space for rest. 

Also, I need to let other people be. Be themselves. Be authentic without my opinion involved. I believe this is referred to as holding space for people. Just letting people be people. That includes my family. No one should wait for my opinion or need it to move forward. So, I’ll hold space for them, too. And honestly, I hope you will do the same for me.