2013-12-26

Jingle bells! Jingle bells!

(That is, Merry Christmas!)
The Christmas tree and snowman at the school where
I work.
Me at the end of Christmas.
I hate surgical masks, but I was coughing
and would have felt uncomfortable on
public transport without it.
I have not posted since Thanksgiving, so I think it's quite evident that I have been busy, busy, busy!  I'm so busy that I would periodically forget that Christmas was coming, but the lights and Christmas trees here are a constant reminder, although I didn't make an effort to see the big displays like I did last year (I think Taiwanese people enjoy Christmas as much as Americans!) But I enjoy being busy; after all, idle minds breed idle thoughts. In fact, my schedule is so full that I had to work on Christmas. But honestly, I wouldn't have had it any other way as I've grown to love my children.

Unfortunately for me, I had to go through my commute and work day with a cold and terrible sore throat, but it was worth it.


The kind of supplies kids go crazy for.
Before going to work, I did some major preparations.  I went to a local 文具店 (wenju dian, stationary shop) and bought some things the kids at school could use to decorate Christmas pictures.  Pom poms, glitter glue, glow in the dark stickers, holographic stickers, ect. I wanted the kids to have a variety of things to make their pictures "prettyfull".

The pastry section staff helped me pack this up and
gave me enough plates and forks (for free...which would
never be the case in the States).
I also went to the local Carrefour and bought a French chocolate cake for the kids and teachers. I promised them cake on Christmas if they were good, and since they were, I got one for them.  I used the cake as a constant threat for about two weeks: "If you don't sit down, no cake on Christmas!" The kids come to the cram school after their normal school hours and several of them stay well into the evening so I felt they deserved the treat.
The cake right before it was divided up and demolished.
After their lesson, I let the kids pick from five different coloring sheets, then they were tasked with coloring and decorating it with the items they were given.  I assisted with the gluing, cutting, and glittering.  I was not about to let a group of under 9-year-olds run around with glue and scissors!  It was enough to let them eat cake covered in icing, there were many chocolate-covered faces at the end.  The kids sang jingle bells periodically as they worked, and said they were having fun which warmed my heart.

Some of the left over coloring sheets.
No one picked santa, but he does look kinda creepy here, doesn't he?
Chocolate cake and coloring, two things these little guys love.
I was on my feet all evening assisting when I was needed.
Gluing on pom poms.
Taiwanese kids are masters of cute poses, even when
their mouths are full.
This little guy was really concentrating!
These girls were also serious about the projects.
Assistant gluer to the rescue!
I'm pretty sure I was either telling someone to
sit down or be quiet here!
Amused by a long string of glue...
...then a leaky glue bottle.
Kids are multitasking wizards when it comes to
glueing and snacking.
Table side chip service, cheese or seaweed flavor.
Waiting customers.
What a cute smile!
When caught by a camera, a peace sign is necessary.
Cute, cute, cute!
It was a joy to watch the children interact
and become interested in each others' work.
She insisted I waited until she had her pose right!
Isn't her tree gorgeous?
He is always full of smiles!
Some members of my second class with pretty
pictures and silly faces.
Chocolate from one of the kids, it was yummy!
My first two classes worked on coloring sheets while my last class (10 to 12-year-olds) wanted to build a wooden house and decorate it.  They didn't finish though, so I'm going to let them complete it next time.

Measuring and cutting sticks.

I got home late (as I always do because I work somewhat far away from where I live), but I had Christmas dinner waiting for me as I cooked on Christmas Eve. I had fun cooking on Thanksgiving, so I decided to do the same for Christmas.

Freshly cooked pasta!
The pasta was French, apparently from Alsace.
I made sauce from scratch.
For the first time, I used Camembert cheese since I read about
how well it melts.
The sauce cooking.
The pasta assembled, ready to be baked.
Ding! All done!
Months ago, I used to make tilapia all the time, but I don't have a lot of time to cook anymore.
So, I decided to make some for Christmas! 
I cooked the pasta in coconut oil and butter with passion fruit.
The flavors were amazing together!
Since I did all the cooking before Christmas, I was able to simply heat up the food and enjoy after I got home.

Instant seafood soup.
The tilapia with some homemade tarter sauce.
Pasta with a side salad.
Dessert: a raison eggtart with dried guava and green tea.
In the end, I had a wonderful Christmas full of love, warmth, and fun. I appreciated being able to spend it with the kids, and I'm also thankful for all the messages from friends and family back home. It makes the distance seem much smaller.  I'm also grateful for all the new friends I've made this year. The little gifts from the students who frequent chat corner made me feel all fuzzy inside.  It's so wonderful to be remembered! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday as well!

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