Author: brenwall3

Home for Christmas

This past Christmas break was probably the best so one so far since I’ve been internationally teaching. My little one’s are getting bigger so Christmas is becoming more and more exciting. My nephew also entered this great world in December so lots to go home for.

In true Christmas break fashion I was delayed getting home. Although the 9/10 hour delay in Seoul due to fog was a blessing in disguise in helping with my jet lag. I was suppose to arrive back in Chicago Saturday morning at 8:30 but instead arrived Saturday evening around 5:30. No big deal picked up my rental car, the last one in the lot, and then headed home.

Nice view from the plane.

First stop is always at the BFF’s house to see the girls. Right away I was having make up put on me by the Monkey and playing family with K-dog. Side note: always say no to the make up, it doesn’t come off very easy, has glitter in it and gets everywhere and always be the babysitter when playing family, trust me.

Missed these two!

Being Christmas time Kohl’s was open 24 hours – how crazy is that. Since I was in desperate need of clothes the BFF, Monkey and I went to Kohl’s around midnight. The Monkey wore her pj’s because we had a PJ party while shopping duh. I thought we would be the only people there – I was wrong. We had to wait in line to check out – so crazy.

Pajama party in the store and we ran into this guy

The next day I got to meet my nephew and spend a few hours with the new parents. My nephew is adorable; my brother and sister in law were tired, such cute new parents.

The new parents plus 1.

Aunt Brandy and Edward πŸ™‚

Next up was Christmas Eve and Christmas with family and friends. Watching the girls open their presents will never get old. Their excitement level is through the roof – I love it. Then the pure fun of getting the toys out of their packaging and putting them together really starts πŸ˜‰

My birthday buddy K-Dog’s birthday is the 29th. This year we had a joint party. Yes, I had a joint party with a 3 year old and it was awesome. Our theme was Shimmer and Shine, if you don’t know what that is then you clearly are not around toddlers, Google it. We had matching shirts, which is always a plus. The Monkey had a shirt too because duh it was her sisters birthday party. Somehow I dropped the ball and didn’t get my BFF one, next year for sure and William too πŸ™‚ Seriously I had a great time at the party and celebrating with K-Dog.

Trying to get a good picture with a 3 and 4 year old is hard…real hard. This is about the best one.

Birthday cake and Happy Birthday

On the 29th for K-Dog’s birthday we went and had a tea party. It was fancy.

Probably playing family because K-Dog has one of her babies. She’s obsessed with baby dolls and I’m clearly obsessed with this hat – I wore it a lot over the break πŸ˜‰

The Monkey came with me to see my dad and do a little shopping.

It was great to see family and friends and to get some hang out time with the littles. See you all in six months for summer adventures!

Later skaters,

-B

Life on Jeju, South Korea

I arrived in Jeju early to get settled and to explore the island a bit before the rush of school started. There is so much to see here! We have it all – beaches, hiking trails, mountains, trees, walking/biking trails, museums, shopping and so much more.

There are 26 walking trails or “Olle” that go around the entire coast of Jeju. It’s one of the more popular activities that attract people to come visit Jeju. There are different level of trails and they are marked to make easy to explore.

The views from almost anywhere on the island are amazing.

One way of exploring is on the bike trails – they are almost everywhere, which is nice. I bought a bike the first week I was here so I could get out and explore some of the trails and get some exercise in. Egypt and Bahrain were not ideal to go for a bike ride so it’s a nice option to have. Although my actual butt needs to get back into “bike riding” shape.

In addition to the views there are little “museums” that have all sorts of themes to explore. One weekend I visited the Alive Museum. This place was awesome. The art was designed so you could be part of the picture or scene.

Don’t worry we were not harmed taking this picture.

πŸ˜‰

Does it look like I was stuck in a tank? I wasn’t.

Ahhhhh!!!

I punched the glass and broke it. Just kidding, I didn’t.

This is my favorite – my head is floating in the left container.

There are a ton of little quirky “museums” like this – so many more to see.

I also found my new favorite beers while in Jeju. One is Jeju Wit Ale – brewed on Jeju island the other is Kolsch by Magpie Brewing Co. which is also brewed on Jeju island.

My shipment was conveniently delivered the Saturday before school started. So not only was I unpacking all of my P.E. equipment I ordered but now I was unpacking my own stuff too. For any of you who really know me you know that I would have all of my stuff unpacked and put away the same day I got it. I know, I’m crazy – it’s who I am. My shipment was delivered and unpacked (with the help of my shipment company) all by noon. My entire apartment with the exception of stuff on the wall, only because I didn’t have the proper hanging equipment, was complete by 3 a.m. I did take a lengthy break during the afternoon until early evening to eat and watch movies.

My apartment in Jeju is MUCHΒ smaller than my villa in Bahrain but I was able to fit everything where it needed to be. I did get rid of some stuff but my apartment is pretty much complete. My coffee table that I got in Bahrain is huge and takes up most of my living room – but it’s awesome!

Living room

Kitchen and front door on the left

“Sun porch” off of the living room

My bedroom

 

That’s it – pretty small but has everything I need and it’s easy to keep clean πŸ™‚

Later skaters,

-B

 

 

Back to school…finally.

Well, the time has finally come to get back to teaching after being off for almost four months. This day had to come and it all happened on Monday, October 23rd. Ready or not the kids came and we were off and running with a new school – St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju was finally open.

Our campus is beautiful and once it is completely done and teachers are all moved in to their respective areas it’s going to be very nice. The gym isn’t ready so I’m having class where I can find space. Last week it was on the recess soccer field to just get moving and this week we will be in a learning pod doing some cup stacking. Hopefully, my students will love cup stacking as much as I do.

This week was also our first day of school on Saturday. Yes, we have to make up those days somehow. Two Saturdays a month we will have class from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m Not too bad but it’s still makes for a six day workweek and having to go to school on Saturday. But, we also had an extra two months of summer so….

It’s been a crazy first week and each week will get better and more settled. All of the teachers and admin have been supportive of each other and we have all really worked well together which is good especially in a late start situation like this.

In addition to the kids starting on Monday the first time that teachers could get into their classrooms was the Friday before school started and some later than that. That made for a busy weekend. On Friday I startedΒ to unpack, inventory, label my elementary P.E. equipment that I ordered. I had the amazing opportunity of ordering all of the equipment for the elementary school. It was awesome but also overwhelming at the same time. I ordered a lot…like a lot. It filled an entire fitness room. Thank goodness SJA Jeju hired a facilities manager to manage the Sports Complex so he has been helping me while I teach during the day. We have so much cool stuff to use this year.

This is most of my equipment that I ordered. It wouldn’t all fit in the picture.

In addition to all of my new equipment the school hooked all of the teachers up with a MacBook Pro and iPad.

Real nice…

Here are a few quick snapshots of the campus – more to come as more is finished.

Sports Complex – gym, pool, weight room, two fitness rooms, and team rooms.

Close up of the SJA Jeju athletic logo

Performing Arts Center – cafeteria, theater, MS/HS library

Performing Arts Center (PAC) with our mission in three words.

 

It’s been crazy but I’m happy so that’s all that matters.

Later skaters

-B

 

Long time no see

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, seven months to be exact. Well, I’m back. This summer was a summer of adventure vacations.

First trip was on my way home. I stopped off in New York with my trusty travel friend, Autum, to see her brother. I also have never been to NYC, so what better time than now. I was in NYC for a week. We stayed in the Hell’s Kitchen area. The hotel was nice but wow was it small. Now that I’m living in South Korea small is my new living theme. We did awesome touristy stuff like the hop on/hop off bus tours, museums, Central Park, shopping, broadway (Kinky Boots), rode the subway, and went to Time Square

πŸ˜‰

Kinky Boots was amazing!

Cookie dough served like ice cream

Giant milkshakes

 

Next up was home for a week for the Monkey’s Birthday.

The Birthday girl at her Monster’s Inc party.

Kennedy was telling her mom and I that she was coming to Costa Rica with me.

Hollywood and my BFF!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop – Costa Rica. This trip was great because I was back with my gang from Egypt. The house we stayed in was straight up out of the Real World – super nice and huge. Had an amazing pool, outdoor area, and was literally in the jungle. We went zip lining for Autum’s birthday, explored a hidden beach, searched out waterfalls, relaxed by the pool and had some really great hang out time with friends.

A real life sloth!

Amazing views! This was the view from the top of zip lining.

Hidden beach – had to go at low tide so you could find it.

Fresh water waterfall! Amazing!

Straight from Costa Rica, Autum and I left to go to the Galapagos Islands. We went for seven days. We did three days of diving and three days of land/boat sightseeing. This trip is something that people wait their whole lives to go on. I’m just lucky enough to have done it when I was able to dive and to explore on land. The diving was amazing and so different than the Red Sea. I’ve been spoiled by the Red Sea for the past four years with it’s abundance of colorful coral and sea life. Where the Galapagos Islands lacked in colorful coral they made up for in sea life. We saw and dove right along with a huge manta ray, eagle rays, hammer head sharks, white tip sharks, black tip sharks, sea turtles, seal lions, and a penguin.Β  Seeing these particular sea life in their own natural habitat was amazing! It’s almost hard to explain. At one point we were at the bottom of the dive site, hanging on to a few big rocks and just watching the sea life swim by. It was just like the scene in Finding Nemo. The huge manta ray we saw was bigger than the boat we were on and the hammerheads were so cool to just watch swimming around. In addition to the sea life it was a good experience to dive in different water conditions. The water was really rough the last day we went out and the current was a little more than moderate. At a certain point we just rode the current and it literally swept us away. The water was freezing though. July in the Galapagos is not the warmest to my surprise. I’ve also been spoiled by the Red Sea and how warm the water gets there. I usually dive without a wet suit. Not the case in the Galapagos. I had a 7 mm wet suit on. It was also windy once you got out of the water and into the boat. The first day was cold, the second dive day was freezing and the last dive day was chilly. The land/boat excursions were just as awesome. The Galapagos have a wide range of animals that are only native to their islands – how cool is that? The scenery was beautiful and the people were very friendly.

What a view!

Land iguanas.

Blue footed boobies – that’s really their names πŸ™‚

Day 1 dive trip

Land excursion of the other smaller islands.

Day 2 dive trip

Charles Darwin center – very educational.

Tortoise!

After the Galapagos Islands I headed home to spend time with family and friends before I left for Jeju. It was a great summer I got to spend time with my family, I found out that my nephew will be here in December, got to hang out with my BFF and the girls, and had a girls weekend with great friends.

Family trip to the Dells

Wisconsin Dells with Hollywood

iFly with the Monkey. She loved it until she went up high. See that pink bow – she lost it in the wind tunnel πŸ™‚

No fear!

Wrigley Field Tour

Wrigley Field Tour with these two. Ate dinner at The Park and bought some Cubs gear.

Picked up something for my nephew who will be here in December! Birthday month buddies πŸ™‚

5K Mud Run with the Monkey – she set a great pace.

No fear here – she wouldn’t let me help her of course because she’s a badass!

St. Louis with my ride or die girls! Every summer we have our own weekend and it’s as if no time has passed at all. These are the best kind of friends.

Budweiser brewery tour

Co-Authored a book and was published this summer.

Watched these two crazies for a weekend. Tried to make slim = failed. Check out those ponytails though πŸ™‚

Did some chores….

More chores…

I apparently lost my mind and thought Target was a good idea. We survived. I got Starbucks and they got a water bottle and a lego figure.

Superhero day at SkyZone with Spiderman and BatGirl.

Pool party at Uncle Tom and Aunt Wendy’s. They basically got to do whatever they wanted and get whatever they wanted. Kids..

And passed out in the car- success.

I didn’t have to be to Jeju until October but I decided to go early to check things out. On my way to Jeju I made two stops to see friends. First stop was Kazakhstan to see Autum. I didn’t do much in Kaz just relaxed and it was amazing. Second stop was Vietnam to see my Peg πŸ™‚ Vietnam in a word was amazing! We hung around where Peg lived and just chilled which was totally needed. She went to school during the day and I wandered around. I got five massages in the seven days I was there. The food there is so good – like my pants were tight when I left good. I got some clothes custom made for me. That is something that I thought I would never do. I was like I’ll just buy them at the store. Well, Peg took me to a little shop she found and where she had a cute dress made. It was all downhill from there. I walked away with two dresses, one pair of dress pants, two pairs of capris, and five shirts. Everything fits perfect like a glove. I tried stuff on and if it didn’t fit they altered it. There was a dress I loved and they didn’t have my size so they made one from scratch for me. They took my measurements, I came back in two days for a fitting and then two days later I had a custom made dress – so amazing. One shirt I even got to pick out the color and material – what! I’m currently compiling a list of more clothes to buy for when I go back. I will definitely be back Vietnam – so much to see.

Peg!

I’m in Jeju now and once school starts I’ll update again!

Later skaters –

-B

 

 

A tourist in Dubai

I’ve been to Dubai two times. The first time was for a 10K race and the second time was to watch a rugby tournament. On both of those trips I never had time to play tourist because I was either sore from running or drinking all day. I knew that before I left the Middle East a Dubai tourist trip had to happen. I of course had to go in the tallest building in the world!

At first I was going to splurge and stay in a fancy hotel and live it up for a weekend. Then I checked prices and decided, no thank you and went with the Holiday Inn Express at Safa Park and it was amazing. The breakfast had good choices, it was close to the Burj Khalifa, and had a nice park near it.

Dubai is only an hour flight so getting there on a Thursday night is easy and it leaves all day Friday and the majority of Saturday for activities. My trusty travel partner suggested that we get the fast track pass for the Burj so we wouldn’t have to wait in any lines. The was pure genius. Not only did we not have to wait in lines to go up but also got right in the elevator to go down.

The Burj was high – we went to the 124th floor and it was a clear day so we were able to see out pretty far. It was a little windy on the observation deck but it was pretty cool to look down and see everything look like a lego set.

At the top – 124th floor

Looking down at the Dubai fountain

The Dubai mall is also know for the world’s largest aquarium. Now as a SCUBA diver I’m not a fan of aquariums, zoos or anything that holds animals in captivity…but I was there so of course I checked it out. You could walk through the aquarium so you had animals swimming above you and besides you. I got to watch a sting ray eat while being underneath it, that was pretty cool. There was also an underwater zoo which was as you guessed different fish and animals that lived under the water. Overall I wasn’t impressed as yes it was a big aquarium but way too many fish in it. There was also a Shark Week display, that made for a cool picture.

Shark Week

Penguins humping each other – haha πŸ™‚

It was St. Patrick’s day while I was in Dubai so in honor we had some drinks while we watched the Dubai Fountain show. The water show was set to music, lights and shot up 140 meters high. If you have ever been to the Bellagio fountain show in Las Vegas, this didn’t even come close. It was a nice little entertainment stop while we had drinks.

St. Patrick’s Day drinks

Burj night selfie

On Saturday we went to go for a run in Safa Park which was near our hotel. It was about a twenty minute walk but once we got there the park was surrounded by a huge fence. When we finally found the entrance we also found out that there was an entrance fee. So even though we didn’t get our run in we got in a nice walk along the canal. Along the canal there was a wellness fair going on. There were vendors ranging from smoothies to yoga. The whole event was about taking care of your self, gaining confidence and being happy. It was really nice to stumble upon The Happiness Journey.

The Happiness Journey – my motto right now.

 

Later skaters

-B