S & P

My friends Sara and Pedro got married recently, and I was so excited to be there to celebrate with them.  I know Sara from Brooklyn, as she’s one of the Leaders High School super stars. B and I clicked with S & P almost instantly, and we are very lucky to have them in our lives, even though we are now separated by a few thousand miles. I managed to capture a few moments from their lovely wedding on a farm in Minnesota. I ended up wearing a dress from ASOS, and it was perfectly comfortable and swishy enough for all the bachata dancing that came later. Sadly, I ended up with just one photo of the dress from the event, since I was the one behind the lens the whole time!

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Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi – Part 3

Part One and Part Two of the Aussie Adventure.

Stop three of our great Summer Winter Aussie Adventure 2016 took us to Perth in Western Australia. Perth is seriously beautiful, with white sand beaches that made me wish it was summer. The sun was out almost every day and considering it was winter, it was still quite warm. B and I packed our days with strolls in the CBD and other hoods, visits with family and friends, with trips out to Freemantle and Rottnest Island. B is from Perth, so we spent the most time here staying with Mum and Peter.

Perth feels like the smaller, cuter, but much more conservative sister to Sydney and Melbourne. There were security cameras everywhere, PSAs against anti-social behavior, and checks for paid train tickets at multiple points. Everything was very clean, well manicured, and  absent of any graffiti. Hooliganism and Hooning are strictly prohibited and can result in steep consequences. It felt a bit odd at times and provided for many moments of “srsly?” It’s a cultural difference from the States that I seem to have missed the first time I visited Perth 6 years ago. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Mum and Peter are vintage car collectors, so I got to ride around in style all over Perth! My favorite was the ’62 Panhard, a little French car that is just too cute for words. Then there is the Alvis, the Jaguar, and 2 Bentleys. The pride of the family is the 1927 Bentley 4.5 Liter. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to actually drive any myself.

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Of course, no family visit or celebration is complete without a little family portrait time. Mums like that kind of thing =) So here are the Lebenses (and a Schenck)!

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One of our last stops in Perth was Rottnest Island. I just HAD to go and see the Quokkas. B couldn’t understand my obsession with going to see them – he kept trying to tell me that they were just like giant rats. They are exceptionally cute rats though, so I took a million photos of these guys. Also, it rained bucketed down rain on us the entire time we were on Rottnest. Next time, we’re going in summer!

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Part 4 – Sydney coming soon. Also, first day of school in 2 weeks!

Bag Raiders

I can hardly believe I’ve been away from the blog for a whole month! As I sat down to write today, I thought “Gee, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post!” I guess time really does fly.

8 long short weeks left till final exams and sum-sum-summmer time!

The past month has been busy with B’s birthday, a few concerts, a bout with the flu, a trip back east to see the family for my mom’s birthday, and a girls’ weekend with my BFFs from San Francisco. Teachers really do have lives outside of teaching, I swear. The proof is in Instagram!

As part of B’s birthday week, we went to see one of my favorite Aussie-Indie-Dance bands play. I have fond memories of the Bag Raiders – my first ever teacher partner in crime Ann Zhao introduced me to them mid way through our first year teaching (she named our instant friendship trauma bonding). The Bag Raiders aren’t as well followed here in Denver like they are in SF and NY, so we got to see them at my favorite music venue here in Denver, Larimer Lounge. There is nothing much better than getting to see one of your favorite bands play a small bar. Obviously, I had to buy a t-shirt and obviously, I had to wear said t-shirt the very next day to school.

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glasses: warby parker – tshirt: bag raiders – jeans: f21 – shoes: anthropologie – belt: gap

I can’t resist – aren’t my mom and niece just the cutest? My mom takes care of Jojo while my sister and brother in law work, so naturally Popo (grandma in chinese) is Jojo’s favorite person ever.

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Happy New Year!

Happy 2016!  This will be the year I turn 36, and hopefully a whole lot more will happen than just that.  I have a bucket list for 2016 and it includes: climbing my first 14er, traveling all over Australia with B for the first time together (I’ve been once, before we met), hiking the trail between Aspen and Crested Butte, spending summer time with my family, taking a girls trip with my two best friends from SF, and helping B make us a new dining table (he’s already made us an incredible outdoor table and a mud room bench from our old fence!).

For New Year’s Eve, B played “mixologist” and we threw a cocktail party for our friends (mostly fellow teachers).  There were drinks and noms, and we had a great time.  Unfortunately, it was freezing outside (single digits!) and we have a shoes-off house so fashion was not well documented.  Here are some photos of us having fun anyway because you know, teachers have lives too!

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Language

So this happened:  A kid wrote “ching chong” on my white board today.  This happened sometime between the end of 5th period and the start of 6th period.  I have no idea who it was, it very well could have been a kid I don’t even teach.  I am half Chinese and half Swiss/Norwegian/Sweedish. I’ve heard all the slurs and seen all the fake “slanty eyes”.  I’ve been told from other Asians that I’m not Asian enough and I’ve been told from other Whites that I’m not White enough.

My initial thoughts were mostly benign, as in “I better erase that before it becomes distracting to the kids”.  But as I thought about it more, I started to get more and more emotional about it.  It was a teachable moment, and I decided to try and work with it.  I pointed it out to the kids, and started to explain why the slur was hurtful to me.  Then the worst thing happened – my emotions got the best of me and I started to cry.  I’ve never once cried in front of students (see this old post).  I’ve always been able to hold it together long enough for a break.  Evidently, this racial slur really dug deep into me.  My 6th period was sympathetic, empathetic and really listened to why seeing his slur hurt me.  A kid jumped up an erased it, and just listened.  Even as I cried and spoke from my heart to my kids, I recognized that who ever wrote the slur probably didn’t do it maliciously. In fact, the kid probably doesn’t even recognize it as a hateful racial slur.

I work at a racially segregated school, 81% of our students are Latino.  I am one of 4 Asians in the building.  Their exposure to Asian Americans are limited to what they see on TV and other popular culture which are full of stereotypes.  They exist in a bubble without exposure to diversity.  In addition, our school as a whole does not dedicate any time or energy towards ethnic studies, cultural sensitivity or social justice.  It does happen in individual classes – namely history classes – but there is no school wide focus.  Honoring, celebrating and learning from different cultures just has not been a priority.  So I’m going to try and create some change on that front this coming semester.  Literally, in the first weeks of school, I get asked hourly “where are you from. No really, where are you from?“.

Where am I from?  I’m from 37˚44’N, 122˚26’W:  San Francisco.  Coincidentally, I got a new tattoo of just that this past weekend.

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The rest of my outfit I photographed during lunch, before I became a mess.  Layers are key as a teacher.  I strip down to one layer while the room is full of teenagers and I’m running around teaching (sweating).  But then the kids leave taking their body heat with then so I cozy up during prep periods when my room turns freezing.

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coat and sweater: uniqlo – top: f21 – jeans, boots and bracelets: madewell – belt: gap – necklace: family heirloom

Family from Oz

My “in-laws” are in town from Oz!  I always look forward to their visits – it means I have an excuse to cook for more than 2, and we get to go out and do cool things.  Peter is a massive vintage car buff, specifically vintage Bentleys like his 1927 Bentley Le Mans.  Last weekend, we went to Aspen for the end of the Colorado Grand Vintage Car Rally, where we saw heaps of one of a kind vintage cars.  Mum on the other hand, is a gardening buff and has been laboring away in our garden every day helping us making it beautiful.  Cars and gardening have been the topic of conversation this past week, and I’ve been jealous of B and his work-from-home job.kimono6

This past Wednesday, we splurged and went to Beatrice and Woodsley for dinner.  I love this place.  The food is always amazing and the decor makes me feel like I’m having dinner in an Anthropologie store.  Side Note: the cocktails are fantastic, I recommend the “Worm’s Wild Ride”.

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B can’t stay off his phone!  :-/kimono8

Since I knew we were going out to a nice dinner, I decided to dress up a bit for school that day with my Forever 21 finds from last spring.  This dress is a bit of a potato sack dress without a belt, but it’s really perfect for school.  It’s sleeveless, so you won’t get pit stains from running all around the classroom during a lab.  It actually reaches my knees, so I won’t feel like I’m wearing something too risqué in front of hormonal teenage boys and girls.  The fabric is soft, drapey and machine washable, so it’s no big deal if you end up on the floor cleaning up spilled juice from some teenager drinking and eating in lab on the sly.  The dress was pricey for Forever 21, coming in at $25, but it has paid off so far in its versatility.  I’m thinking about picking up this one and this one to add to the work wardrobe.  Excuse the wrinkles, I just can’t be bothered with ironing and I don’t have a full sized closet so the bottoms of all my dresses get super wrinkled.

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cardigan and dress: f21 – belt: jcrew – shoes: sweedish hasbeens – watch: fossil