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    Can’t Stop the Reading

    Read-A-Thon is back at YISS! Our elementary students celebrate reading during February and March. The theme this year is Camp Out with a Good Book.




    David helped with the music video again this year. He rewrote the words to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and changed it to “Can’t Stop the Reading.” We work with so many talented people! From singing to sound mixing, video editing, and dancing… I love how the final product showcases the creativity and joy of our school!

    Watch it on Facebook, Vimeo, or below:





    This year, each grade level team was featured reading together. (The third grade teachers at the pool were my favorite!) This is David with his fifth grade team (and yes, he’s surfing on his friend Ross in the river):




    Here are the lyrics:

    I got this feeling inside my bones
    What adventures will this new book take me on?
    All through Seoul city, all through my home
    I can’t put down this book, I’m in the reading zone

    Cuz I got that new book in my pocket
    It’s got stories, oh so sweet
    When I read it, it’s exciting, I can’t stop, ooh
    I can’t take my eyes up off it, reading so phenomenally
    I’ve got more books on the docket, so I don’t stop

    We’re reading tonight and everyone knows
    Whether it’s fiction, drama, or prose
    When you read, well, you already know
    We just imagine, just imagine, just imagine

    Camp out with a new book, this is your chance, chance, chance, feel
    This one’s a good book for you, so just glance, glance, glance, come on
    Reading’s so exciting, so let’s just dance, dance, dance
    Everybody’s reading, so keep dancing

    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance, come on

    Ooh, there’s something wonderful
    I read the Good Book (Scripture) and it helps me carry on
    In every season, it leads my soul
    It shows me Jesus Christ, who came to make me whole

    Cause I got that Good Book in my pocket
    Gotta get up off of my feet
    I’ll tell everyone about it and I won’t stop, ooh
    I can’t take my eyes up off it, living so phenomenally
    It’s His guidebook, He designed it, so don’t stop

    We’ll shine our light, so everyone knows
    He came and died and in three days he rose
    He’ll come again and will call up his own
    So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine

    His good plan offers you a second chance, chance, chance
    The Good book explains it all to you
    So you glance, glance, glance, come on
    Everything He gives will make you
    dance, dance, dance
    Jesus will be coming soon, so keep dancing

    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So keep dancing, come on

    I can’t stop the, I can’t stop the
    I can’t stop the, I can’t stop the
    I can’t stop the reading

    Camp out with a new book, this is your chance, chance, chance, feel
    This one’s a good book for you, so just glance, glance, glance, come on
    Reading’s so exciting, so let’s just dance, dance, dance
    Everybody’s reading, so keep dancing

    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So just dance, dance, dance
    I can’t stop the reading
    So keep dancing, come on

    Everybody sing
    (I can’t stop the reading)
    Gotta share it with somebody
    (I can’t stop the reading)
    Gotta share it with somebody
    (I can’t stop the feeling)
    I think reading’s my new hobby
    (I can’t stop the feeling)
    Gotta share it with somebody
    Break it down
    Gotta share it with somebody
    Can’t stop the feeling
    Gotta share it with somebody, come on




    » Watch last year’s Read-A-Thon video “Good Book Life” here!


    Gender Reveal!

    We had another prenatal appointment last week. The technician did an anatomy scan and we found out the gender of our baby!

    We didn’t do a gender reveal party, but I created this Old Wives’ Tales graphic and posted it on Facebook. It was interesting how close the tallies were between boy and girl! (You can download a generic version of the Old Wives’ Tales Chart in my Etsy shop.)


    Baby Gender Old Wives' Tales


    I don’t believe any of these are actually telling about baby’s gender. Even though I haven’t had any nausea, David’s mom was sick the entire time for each of her five boys. My mom craved orange juice with my brothers. I will admit I tried the baking soda test, and that one happened to be accurate. I attempted to use the Ramzi Theory with photos from my earliest ultrasound, but it was after the fact and I wasn’t sure about the angle.

    David guessed boy, because that’s what he knows with four brothers. I guessed girl, but really had no clue.

    We found out we’re having a…


    20 weeks gender reveal - it's a girl!


    Girl!!! She’ll be the first girl grandchild on my side and the third grandgirl on David’s side.

    Everything is looking healthy. She measured a little small at the anatomy scan, but still within normal range. In the last week, I’ve felt a LOT of movement! David has also felt kicks with his hand on my stomach.

    And because why not, here’s a survey:

    • How far along? 20 weeks
    • Total weight gain: 5.8 pounds
    • Gender: Girl!
    • Name? We think we’ve chosen a first name, but won’t share until after she’s arrived.
    • Sleep: I’ve been sleeping through the night, but it’s hard to get comfortable! I’m using three pillows at the moment.
    • Exercise: I count the fact that I walk a lot here as exercise. I try to do a yoga video a couple times a week.
    • Best moment this week: Hearing that baby girl is doing well and sharing the gender with our family.
    • Movement: YES! Finally! Lots of movement and the occasional jab here and there.
    • Symptoms: Maybe a little fatigue, but overall feeling great. Lots of trips to the bathroom.
    • Food cravings: Fruit, juice, smoothies.
    • Food aversions: No real aversions.
    • Maternity clothes: I’ve used a belly band a handful of times with a pair of jeans. So far, I’ve gotten away with stretchy pants, skirts, and dresses. I have a feeling that I’ll soon be needing to use some of my official maternity wear!
    • What I miss: I feel very fortunate and at the risk of complaining – lying on my stomach to do computer work and coffee drinks. (Even though I’m not a coffee addict, there’s something comforting about a warm cup. Fortunately, there’s no Pumpkin Spice lattes in Korea to tempt me this fall. Unfortunately, they don’t sell decaf here either.)
    • Belly button in or out? Still in… but it’s more open?
    • Stretch marks? Nothing major that I can tell yet. I should probably start moisturizing though.
    • Milestones: We’re at the halfway point as of this past Monday!

    Keep growing, Baby Girl!


    Our Next Adventure…

    We’ve been keeping a secret and are excited to finally share… we are expecting our first child February 13!!


    We are expecting our first child in February!


    How We (I) Found Out
    After finishing our first school year in Korea, we traveled back to the States in early June for summer vacation. We landed into Chicago. David flew out a few hours later to Virginia for a grad school class, and I spent a couple of nights in Chicago with my cousins. Seoul air quality had attacked me once again and I was sick with a sinus infection. Despite hacking up a lung, I had a great time with the girls.

    Next, I flew to Arkansas next to see my mom. We stayed a few nights at a camp to help with a VBS program. The sinus infection had spread to one of my eyes, and I finally went to a clinic and got a round of antibiotics.

    It was relief to finally have meds and be back at my mom’s house. We went to Walmart to do a little shopping. At this point, I didn’t think I was pregnant, but I was late. I knew travel and sickness could throw things off, and on a whim in the cosmetics area, I grabbed a pregnancy test. It was 88¢ and I figured it’d be good to know. When I met back up with Mom, I told her, “Don’t get your hopes up.” I waited a couple of days before I took the test.

    I took the test early one morning because I had woken up to use the bathroom. It was around 4:00 am. Imagine my surprise when a second line quickly appeared! I woke up Mom to confirm that it wasn’t just me and we marveled for a while before trying to go back to sleep.


    Positive pregnancy test


    David was in Virginia, and it was almost a week until I would see him again! It was hard to keep it a secret, but we didn’t talk a lot over that time. He was super busy with his class and only had cell service when there was WiFi. I did tell him that when I saw him I had a surprise for him and that I’d made him something.

    Before Mom and I drove to Virginia for David’s brother’s wedding, I put the test in a small box. Then I put that box in a larger box. The apps I downloaded gave me an estimated due date of February 14, so I cut out a construction paper heart, wrote “Will you be my Valentine?” and put that on top of the smaller box. (I wish I had taken a picture of it, but it’s back in the States.)

    Amidst the chaos of everyone arriving in Virginia on the same day, David and I were able to slip away at the end of the night. When he opened the first box, nothing registered. “Of course I’ll be your Valentine,” he said. And then he opened the smaller box. It was priceless to watch the realization and smile wash across his face. He was shocked!


    The Rest of the Summer
    After the excitement of the wedding, we slowly began to share the news with our family. We loved being able to tell them in person and have them join in the celebration.

    We told everyone in batches and didn’t have a grand plan of how to announce the news. We tried to be creative when the right moment presented itself. With David’s family, we went to a Chinese restaurant and David made a slip to put inside a fortunate cookie. With my sister, we were joking about Southern stereotypes on the back porch and I told her, “Well, at least I’ve got the barefoot and pregnant thing going.” When we saw my Dad, we were taking group pictures. I acted like I was taking a photo while videoing and said, “Ok, 1, 2, 3, say ‘Leah’s pregnant’!” We had fun with it.

    I’ve been so fortunate and haven’t had any morning sickness – just LOTS of fatigue! I wasn’t much of one for naps before, but I’ll take one now every chance I get.

    We had our first prenatal appointment in the States. I know seeing isn’t always believing, but watching our little one on the screen made it feel more real!


    10 week ultrasound


    Back in Korea
    We had our second appointment in Korea. Baby B was squirming all around and gave us a show. We asked the technician if she could tell us the gender, but Baby didn’t give us a good look. She gave us a guess, but told us it was unconfirmed and that we’d be able to tell at our next appointment.


    15 week ultrasound


    We marvel every day at how my belly grows bit by bit and are praying over his or her life!


    Answers to FAQ

    • We will have the baby in Korea at an awesome birthing center.
    • Baby will not have Korean citizenship – just US citizenship.
    • As long as everything’s healthy, we hope to travel home for Christmas and the summer.
    • My mom is planning to come to Korea for the birth and David’s parents hope to visit in April.
    • Your guess is as good as ours – we have no clue if the baby will have red hair. 🙂



    Students Say The Funniest Things: Part 7

    Ladies and gents, this is our first edition of Students Say the Funniest Things: Korea. Yes, it took us an entire school year to gather enough quotes!


    Students Say the Funniest Things


    There haven’t been nearly as many gems as often as we used to hear. David spends almost all of his day with fifth graders and teaches very few English language learners. (There are 4 fifth grade classrooms at our school of over 1000 students.) I volunteer in the elementary library one morning a week. Enjoy!



    David wears a collared shirt and tie every day (aside from dress down days). On a day he wore his suit jacket:
    Fifth grade girl: “Mr. B, today you look like a gentleman.”



    When David’s was in need of a haircut (his hair gets really curly as it gets long):
    Fifth grade girl: “Mr. Benedict, I saw you from behind on the stairs and you looked like Zeus.”



    And after a haircut…
    Fifth grade girl: “Mr. B, your haircut makes your beard look full and luscious.”



    When I was volunteering in the library:
    Second grade boy: “Do you have any books about honey badgers? They’re my favorite animal because I’m just like them.”
    Me: “Oh? How so?”
    Boy: “They have four legs, they snarl (krrraaarh!), and are grumpy all the time. My sister is like a honeybird. And I’m like a honey badger. They’re symbiotic creatures just like me and my sister.”



    Two of David’s students were running down the hall and one clumsily ran into a wall and knocked down some posters.
    David: “Boys! Slow down and come back here.”
    Boy: “What?! My body’s been changing lately.”



    This is a good one I stole from a friend:
    During chapel, the elementary counselor was talking about transitions and asked the kids if they had thought about what changes are coming next in their lives. One of the fifth graders said to his friends “Middle School!” And another said, quite happily, “Puberty! I don’t know what that is, but I know it’s next!”



    After the Read-A-Thon music video was released, seeing David in the halls was exciting for some of the younger kids.
    First grader: “Hi Mr. Singer Man!”
    Another student: “I saw you in the video!”
    Another student: “Hi Mr. Singer!”



    Overheard conversation at VBS:
    Second grade boy: “Never put a rubber band on your wrist. It makes your blood vessels just stop.



    As a funny section on his end-of-the-year class survey, David asked: “What are your thoughts about Mr. B’s beard?” (Keep in mind you rarely see Korean men with facial hair. The majority of his students were of Korean heritage.) Here are a few of the responses:

    • At first sight I thought, “Is he a dirty man?”
    • Fluffy, Orange, and Cool.
    • It is like a jungle.
    • It looks like a birds nest covered in throw up.
    • SHAVE IT!!!!!
    • It’s long and weird.
    • Weird in a good way.
    • An awesome amazing gorgeous fluffy puffy vast planet full of unicorns and dogs with turtles on backs and delicious pieces of food and 번데기 also with a thick red forest. There is a cave in the middle of the forest that has a thick smell of coffee as well as delicious pieces of food. You have to be careful though for the giant hand that is always touching the beard.
    • I like it. (Kind of. Needs to be more longer.)
    • It’s too long.
    • It’s red, and there’s a lot of it.
    • It makes you look older than your real age. Sorry! But it’s true.



    I’ll leave you with the flash mob dance the elementary teachers performed during field day. (Watch for David in the green shirt!)




    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 1
    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 2
    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 3
    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 4
    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 5
    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 6



    Bohol and Panglao

    Even though we would have, we weren’t able to book a full week in Moalboal. We decided to spend the last two nights of our vacation on the island province of Bohol.

    Getting from Moalboal to Panglao took an entire day. I was hoping we’d be able to catch a ferry out of Oslab, but with it being Easter weekend, we were told the smaller ports would be crowded and unreliable. We hired a taxi for 1500PHP (around $30) to drive us three hours to Cebu City. From there, we purchased ferry tickets to Tagbilaran. The ferries had already sold out of the earlier time slots. After a few hours wait, we took the 2.5 hour ferry ride east to Tagbilaran. It was dark by the time we got there.

    We stayed at Momo Village on Panglao Island, just off the southwestern tip of Bohol. We found and booked the place through AirBnB. (Get $20 off your first stay with AirBnB!) Momo Village was AWESOME. The owner, Ana, was so hospitable. Believe the reviews – her cooking is incredible. Momo Village had a five-story tower with a room on each floor. We stayed in the very top apartment (which was originally never meant for guests, but was Ana’s husband’s art studio). The view was amazing.


    Momo Village Tower


    The mosquitoes weren’t awful at that time of year, but we needed the windows open to keep the room cool. So we put up the mosquito net to avoid creepy crawlies on us while we slept:


    Momo Village top room


    View from Momo Village Tower


    View from Momo Village Tower


    Purple leaves plant


    Ana’s husband had several beautiful driftwood pieces around the property:


    Driftwood sculpture


    After a delicious breakfast, we rented a motorbike from Ana and set off to explore. There was an option for a full-day tour around the area, but our time was limited and there were only a couple of places we wanted to see.


    David on Motorbike


    Leah store


    A holy week procession:


    Holy week parade


    Our first stop was the Tarsier Sanctuary. These nocturnal primates were mostly sleeping, but we caught a few with open eyes! They were cute little guys. A few fun facts:

    • They grow to just over 6 inches and weigh between 2.8–5.6 oz.
    • Tarsiers are able to rotate their heads 180º to compensate for their immovable eyeballs.
    • They are carnivorous primates. They eat insects, spiders, lizards, and birds.
    • Their third finger is the same length as their upper arm.


    Tarsier monkey


    Tarsier monkey


    Tarsier monkey


    From there, we went to the Chocolate Hills. There are over 1,200 of these natural land formations. Unfortunately, no chocolate was involved. The mounds get their name from their brown appearance during the dry season. Apparently the limestone mounds were formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.


    Chocolate Hills sign


    Chocolate Hills


    We had lunch at the restaurant at the Chocolate Hills. The quality wasn’t amazing, but the prices weren’t bad and we were super thirsty and hungry.

    We stopped by White Beach, but were too disturbed by the super old white men with teenage girls and left soon after. We’re talking girls probably younger than their daughters. Eegh.

    It was a long day on the motorbike. David did a great job of driving. We both did a great job of sweating. The showers we took that night were some of the most needed and refreshing ones we’d had in awhile. We ate dinner that evening at Momo Village. I’m telling you – probably the best meal you can have in Bohol!


    Sunset in Panglao


    David and Leah at sunset


    Our time in Bohol was short, but I’m glad we were able to explore it for a day! Ana drove us to the ferry port early the next morning. We took the ferry back to Cebu City and a taxi from the port to the airport.

    Travel Note: When flying out of the Cebu Airport, there is an airport fee of 750PHP per person (about $16). You must pay this before you go to the gate area, so keep some pesos on you!

    I claim our first Asia trip (outside Korea) a success! 🙂


    Canyoneering in Kawasan Falls

    During our stay in Moalboal, Philippines, we wanted to take full advantage of the gorgeous scenery and explore some of the local landscape. Our resort offered excursions through their company Planet Action Adventure. We signed up with our friends for the Kawasan Falls Canyoneering expedition.




    We were so glad to have booked it through the adventure company. They provided the transportation, gear, wonderful guides, and a delicious lunch. We left the resort at 9:00 am and returned around 3:00pm.

    You guys. This experience was SO. COOL. And these pictures do not do Kawasan Falls and the canyon justice. (We had a waterproof cover for David’s phone, but it was difficult to take great photos and videos. Thanks to our friend Lauren for some of these pics!)


    Planet Action van


    Riding on top of the van. No big deal.


    Riding on van roof


    David and Leah wearing helmets and lifejackets


    It was Team Chaco vs. Team Keen and we all won.


    Chaco shoes and Keen shoes


    Cebu eco tourism stamp


    Sliding down rocks in Kawasan


    The van dropped us off up stream and we began our trek into the canyon. We jumped into fresh water pools, slid and shimmied down rocks, swam, and took in the amazing tropical scenery. I was cautious and did not do some of the larger jumps (partially because I’m a wimp, but this time I had an excuse). I doubt the experience would have been a doctor recommended event so soon after my surgery, but it all turned out fine.


    Hiking Kawasan Falls


    Cliff jumping



    Kawasan Valley


    David peeking out of a rock


    Swimming in Kawasan with friends


    We ended our hike at Kawasan Badian National Park. The waterfalls there are popular and were what we saw photos of when we first researched the area. We didn’t have time to swim there, but it was cool to see. I’m glad we didn’t try to do the park on our own – we wouldn’t have seen or experienced anywhere near what did with the tour.


    David and Leah by Kawasan waterfall


    Kawasan waterfall


    Kawasan swimmers


    Kawasan rafters


    The BBQ lunch was fantastic. Fish, squid, chicken, rice, salad, bananas (or plantains?)… We were HUNGRY and all got our fill. Bravo, Planet Action Adventure.


    Lunch feast in Philippines


    Other Notes:
    This was a very physical adventure and we wouldn’t recommended it for small children. You can avoid some of the cliff jumps, but in several places you must jump in order to continue down the canyon. The guides were great and showed us where to step and pointed out where to land. Wear shorts (the life jacket straps ride up) and shoes with lots of traction. You can sign up for the tour even if you aren’t staying at Tipolo.