Summer Update!

Hello everyone!

There’s been a pretty good reason for my silence over the past 6 months or so– I have been just so tired. God bless people older than me who teach Kindergarten. Even at 32, this thing has been kicking my butt! I was so tired this year that I FREQUENTLY found myself reading click bait articles on the internet such as “40 Celebrity Engagement Rings” asking myself how I got there. I got in bed anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30 and fell asleep by 10:30. Sung and I sat on our couch on weekend nights, ordering Grub Hub as I fell asleep during movies. I am so glad summer is here!!

I wanted to give a short update on what has been going on with us. School let out for my students on Friday so I am feeling a bit more energetic! Here are so things that have been happening with us.

  1. Sung began his co-op at Stanford Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey! I am so thankful he got this placement. He enjoys the work he is doing and the people he is working with. It’s a long commute but that is basically the only downside. The highlight for me is he is actually on an adult schedule and not staying up until 1 am. He will be at this co-op until September when he begins classes again. Don’t ask me when he graduates– its so far away I can’t even remember.
  2. This spring, I joined the coordinating team to run a local Perspectives course this fall. This is the course that Sung and I took while we were in Nebraska. It is a Christian discipleship course designed to give students a clearer, deeper look at God’s heart for the nations throughout history and now. We found it so eye-opening and I’m excited to help make this course available for Christians in Philadelphia. If you are local and want to take the course, it will be on Mondays this fall!
  3. I have accepted a new position at my school. Next year, I will be teaching 3rd grade. This is a new grade for me and I am so excited!! After Kindergarten, my school does subject specialization and I am going to be working as a literacy teacher. This means I will have my own homeroom but will only be teaching Reading, Writing and Social Studies for all 3rd graders and my students will learn Math and Science from another teacher. I think this position combines what I loved best about high school teaching with what I love best about elementary school teaching. At my school, teachers always talk about finding their “sweet spot” where they thrive as a teacher. I am hoping that this is mine.
  4. Over the summer, I have been so fortunate to land two 2-week teaching gigs, giving me something to do while Sung is at work and a bit of extra income. I am taking August off so I can re-coop.
  5. One of my personal goals this summer is to make a daily habit of writing. I don’t know if that will end up being on here or just for personal use. I guess we shall see!

That is pretty much it for the time being! Thanks for readingūüėÄ

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading my site this year. I haven’t written in awhile so I thought I’d share some highlights from the Fall and Holiday season.

  1. We celebrated 2 years of marriage.10568863_10153238363448155_1965786084781019789_n
  2. Oliver and I marked 3 years together. 10986380_508609322630333_1550530245_n
  3. I began my second school year at FACTS Charter School. I love working here and am consistently learning, being challenged, and being nurtured in my craft. Here’s an article written about our school this fall.
  4. Sung began his second year at Drexel. During finals, he interviewed for his first co-op which will take place starting in April. It will be a 6 month work experience. We are praying that he gets the right placement– hopefully one not too far from Philly. He’s already had two offers but most places won’t get back to him until January. I’ll keep you posted.
  5. We welcomed a new Canfield into our family! My dad and Tracey gave me my first baby sister on September 28th. Dad called us the “bookends”– his first and last child and only girls.¬†12122812_10156130137315486_7469863478600228142_n
  6. Sung and I had quite a few visitors¬†this fall. It was great to visit with so many friends and I finally transformed our “study” into a “spacious guest room” but rearranging some furniture. OK, I lied, it’s not that spacious. But you are still very welcome. Who will be the first guest of 2016?
  7. We celebrated Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh.
  8. I decided to become a regular newspaper reader. Sung and I bought a discounted version on the Washington Post app and I have included “news reading” into my morning routine. I do feel like a better informed citizen and, bonus, it has helped me get questions right at pub quizzo.
  9. I GOT A SWEET NEW BIKE FOR CHRISTMAS!! I have been biking to work on and off this fall which, in and of itself, was life-changing, saving me time in the morning and also helping to wake me up! However, my old bike (purchased in my teens) was sometimes frustrating to ride. Now my ride is smooth and I am riding for fun and for my commute. Thanks, Sung!  12338746_468351050022779_908436228_n
  10. We saw a lot of family for Christmas and Sung’s birthday, ate lots of great food, and created many memories.

I am very excited to begin a fresh new year and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2016.

All my love,



Korea Week 3

After the crazy cousin weekend in Seoul, it was time to explore a little more of Korea. We did a lot of travel in a little bit of time. I’ll give you some of the highlights.

  • Visiting¬†Jeonju Folk Town¬†for lunch and sight-seeing¬†with Sung’s family

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  • Hanging out in Busan,¬†the second largest city in Korea and a famous beach vacation spot

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  • Biking around ancient burial mounds in¬†Gyeongju

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  • Sitting in an open pagoda that was built over the ocean in¬†Pohang

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  • Getting our professional Korean wedding shots done (and here are some outtakes)

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  • Meeting up with a friend of mine from my Korean class who now lives in Korea



At the end of so much traveling, it was amazing to come back to our home base at Sung’s aunt’s house to eat some home cooked food and be with family. Then, just when I thought our adventures were¬†over, they sent us to¬†Boryeong Mud Festival¬†to spend the day.

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At the end of the day there, the Korean Air Force did an air show over the festival. Seeing an air show in Nebraska was one of my last memories of our time there and Sung’s time in the US Air Force. It was a really surreal moment for me, exactly one year later, to watch an air show in Korea and reflect on how much our life has changed since then and how grateful I am for all he and I have been given.

Before we said good-bye to Sung’s maternal side, his uncle took us on a tour of the elementary school where he serves as principal.

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We went back to Seoul, one last time, to say good-bye to Sung’s paternal side. Sung’s grandparents took us all out for Korean Chinese food and then we went, as a whole family, for more karaoke. That night, instead of going to their own home, Sung’s cousins decided to stay with us. We were all packed into the his grandparents apartment and I fell asleep listening to Sung telling his cousins “the world’s longest joke”.


I am so thankful that I got to go on this trip with my family. Thanks so much for reading about my adventures!

All my love,


Korea: Crazy Cousin Weekend in Seoul

While in Korea, we had a weekend so crazy it needed it’s own post. You can also read this as, “Margot’s Suggestions of Everything Touristy to Do in Seoul”.

After our brief stay in the countryside, Sung and I traveled back to Seoul to hang out with his paternal cousins.


Sung’s cousin, Yirey, took it upon herself to plan the most fun weekend ever for us. I’m so thankful, friend!‚̧

We met up in Hongdae, the University district in Seoul and started the day with eating, shopping, and a trip to the arcade.

Then, we went to the Han River. We biked along the river, people watched, and had a picnic. It was so easy to picnic there. You could rent a picnic mat and order fried chicken that was delivered right to your picnic spot.

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Afterwards, we crossed the Mapo Bridge. At one point, the bridge was getting a terrible reputation because so many people attempted suicide by jumping off of it. To counter this, the city installed special lights that light up as you walk along the bridge. It is meant to make you feel like you are not alone. The lights also have friendly phrases on them to cheer you up.  Also, pictures of babies. Just in case, there is also an emergency phone. No comment on actual effectiveness of these efforts, but it was so cool to see.

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The next day we assembled a large amount of traditional Korean traveling food and hiked into the mountains in search of a refreshing stream. Unfortunately, due to a drought, the stream was dried up. The hike was still fun and beautiful. There are mountains just outside of the city and hiking is such a common pastime, especially for retired folks, that you frequently see people decked out in hiking gear on the subway.

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Afterwards, we cooled off with a trip to the Cat Cafe.

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Then, it was finally time to relax the way most Korean youth do– with some karaoke. I was kind of surprised to go to karaoke in the middle of the day, and in the company of Sung’s young cousin. Karaoke in the States is usually connected to bars and drunken singing. In Korea, it truly is a wholesome activity that many families do together. And I couldn’t believe how fun it was. You have a whole room all to yourself and we went ALL. OUT.


Dinner was Korean BBQ, perfect as always.


And we ended the night with a trip to the Seoul tower, a tourist place that allows you to see the whole city.

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When we got back to our hostel that night, I slept like I never slept before.

Korea: Week 2

On July 5th¬†we all got dressed up and went to lunch¬†with Sung’s paternal grandparents, great aunt and uncle, mom, aunt, and cousins. It was my first time meeting most of them and it was extremely special. Sung and his cousins served as translators and we had a great time conversing with Sung’s grandparents. Sung’s grandfather welcomed us to the family and everyone told stories.

My favorite story came from Sung’s grandmother, whom he lived with as a young boy. She told me that she always knew he would be an engineer because he used to take apart her sewing machine. (I think he broke it.) Anyway, she told me she didn’t need a new sewing machine anymore. She just wanted us to give her….a baby. ¬†Haha.

Here are some photos from the day.

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Also, my in-laws gifted me a selfie stick.


We spent the next two days together with Sung’s maternal side of the family. To do this, we traveled out to countryside where Sung’s mother lived as a girl. We enjoyed a family meal with his maternal grandmother, aunts and uncles. It included some of the most interesting seafood I ever ate, including sea cucumber. His maternal aunts came to our wedding so it was a fun for us to be reunited! We toured the countryside, saw a linen factory, and ate lunch at the restaurant of a family friend where we were served 13 year old miso.

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Then, it was time to say good-bye to Mom and Joe as they headed back to the States to get ready for my step-brothers wedding. It was so wonderful to have them with us for the first leg of our journey! What amazing memories we made together.

While Sung and I stayed in the country, we were living at Sung’s aunt’s house. And we were experiencing the traditional Korean country lifestyle, which is based largely on the floor. There were no chairs or beds in her house and I actually found it extremely comfortable. It was just so nice to be in a home and out of hotels.

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We visited Sung’s grandmother at her home. When Sung was little, the family owned a huge farm and mill. Now it is just a very large garden. Next to it is the local church which Sung’s grandfather helped build. It was so awesome to see this place– Sung has so many cherished memories playing here as a boy.

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Later that night, the family times continued as Sung’s cousin brought her new husband over to meet us. It was our first time seeing her since our wedding.

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Stay tuned for more family times in my next post about our trip.

Korea: Week 1

On Monday, June 29th, Sung and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime that we lovingly christened “Hwangcoming”– our first homecoming to Korea together! Here we are waiting for our Uber to the airport!


Our main flight was 14 hours long from NYC to Incheon, South Korea. It was pretty rough, but we had great seats and endless entertainment.

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We landed on July 1st at 4 am. I could not wait for a shower!

For the next few days, we hung out in Incheon with Mom and Joe, who were already there when we arrived.


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Around Incheon:

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Highlights from Incheon include recovering from jetlag, the beautiful ocean views, and riding a ferry to Silmido, location of the infamous Unit 684 and where the film about it was also shot.

On July 3rd, we headed into Seoul, the capital of Korea. One of the most interesting aspects of Seoul is that, within the city, preserved historic sites are juxtaposed to modern buildings, kind of like in Philadelphia.  The difference is the old stuff is A LOT older and the new stuff is even more modern than in the US. It makes for quite a contrast.

Old city gate:

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Views of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the famous statue of King Sejong, and a replicated changing of the guard:

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Folk Art and Structures:

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Another interesting place we went in Seoul was the¬†Myeongdong¬†shopping district. This picture doesn’t do it justice. It was quite overwhelming! It’s often referred to as “hyper-shopping”.


We had a great time exploring Seoul. Highlights include visiting the palaces and King Sejong’s museum, eating delicious shaved ice and learning how to navigate the busy streets of Myeongdong. By the end of the week, I was excited to finally meet Sung’s extended family, which I’ll write about next time.

Pope Weekend Adventures

This weekend, the Pope visited Philadelphia and the city SHUT DOWN. For better or worse, huge parts of the city had traffic restrictions, serving to both keep the Pope safe and turn our city into a ghost town. There were ominous predictions about the weekend, causing many to go out of town to escape the #popeapocalypse.

We decided to stay and I’m so glad we did! The streets of Philadelphia were our playground this weekend. We also enjoyed some of the perks of a snowday– that feeling where you can calm down and do nothing at all– without being completely stranded. I’m kind of disappointed that life is going back to normal tomorrow.

I thought I’d share some pictures with you.

Friday Night, before it all began. Including some ambulances we borrowed from Baltimore..

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Saturday morning, major highways with no cars.

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Our “snow day” activity, making dumplings for¬†ž∂ĒžĄĚ, Korean harvest festival, like Thanksgiving.


Finally, the coolest part of the weekend– biking through the city on Sunday! I wish every day could be like this!!

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In closing, many businesses were hurt by the closures, and I’m sorry for them. One local business that did extremely well, by my observation, was Indego, the city bike share. Personally, I loved the Pope weekend and I’m so thankful I was here to experience it!

Reading for Fun!

This year, I started using a new-to-me reading curriculum, Units of Study¬†from the Teacher’s College. ¬†One requirement they list, to have a classroom that developed of love of reading in children, was for the teacher to “wear their love of reading on their sleeve”. ¬†I wondered, did I even love to read?

I really couldn’t remember a time I’d read for fun. ¬†I have always enjoyed reading but I’ve always read for school. ¬†When I was an English major in college, I read for class. ¬†When I was new in my career I didn’t have time to read much but when I did it was articles about teaching. ¬†When I taught high school, I read what my students read. ¬†I know I picked up pleasure reading at times¬†over the years but it was never a significant enough part of my life to become a memory.

I had never considered that this could effect my Kindergartners.  But, now, I think it can. I wanted to love reading. So, I decided to read for fun.

I found that, to become a real reader, I had to make reading a habit. ¬†I started to force myself to read each night (rather than those late night instagram or facebook binges…) ¬†So far, it has actually worked. ¬†I have been¬†having fun! ¬†The more books I have finished, the more incentive it’s given me to keep reading a book I’m not completely in love with. ¬†Before, I would give up more easily but now that I read more, I know if I don’t love this book, maybe I’ll love the next one. ¬†Also, I have found it helpful to have several books (a fiction, a non fiction, and a spiritual book) going at once so I can switch it up as my mood changes. ¬†I also use audible¬†to listen to books on my commute.

I’ve been keeping an ongoing list of what I am reading over here. ¬†If I have something to say about the book, I’ll post it there, too! ¬†Keeping a list on my¬†blog has actually helped me stay motivated to plow through more challenging books. ¬†Enjoy the list and please feel free to send me book recommendations, as well!ūüôā

First Cut is the Deepest

When I was young, my father lived in University City, in Philadelphia.  My fondest memories with him included walking around at dusk, observing college students playing Frisbee and people walking dogs.  I fell asleep to the sounds of cars and sirens blowing in with the cool breezeРthe buzz of city life.  I learned to crave it at an early age.

I knew I would go to school in a city, which is one of the reasons I picked the University of Pittsburgh. ¬†And living there was great!¬† There are pieces of it mixed into¬†so many of my memories and expressions I still use because I lived there. ¬†It is always still so wonderful to go back. ¬†My time in college, I think, taught me how to love a city. ¬†But, if I learned how to love in Pittsburgh, I didn’t love Pittsburgh… not like I love Baltimore.

Because, the truth is, while I have spent time living and learning and dreaming in many citiesРPhilly as a little girl, Pittsburgh in college, Galway during study abroadРI was always packing up at the end of the term.  And everything I liked and thought I loved in those places was like a crush I thought was the real thing.  Because I never put down the real roots and I never saw the real flaws.

I didn’t love Baltimore because I was oblivious to its dark side, its rough patches, its corruption. ¬†I loved it in those things. ¬†I knew the different sides of it. ¬†I let it break my heart. ¬†I could be disappointed with the things I saw but I was still loyal. ¬†I squelched much of my wanderlust because I saw value in staying put somewhere, in being committed somewhere. ¬†I learned about myself.

When we were preparing to leave I wrote these few lines of poetry:

Dear Baltimore,

Thinking of leaving you hurts like hell

Because I am afraid that pieces of my soul

Have so intertwined with your landscape

That when I leave I won’t be able to pack them up and take them with me.

I thought that when we moved to Philly something would happen to me.  I thought I would immediately snap back into the little girl feelings I had had about this city, my first city.  I thought I would feel right at home.

I was wrong.  It is so wonderful to live here and we are really enjoying ourselves.  But how can this little crush, this 7 months of trying to find our favorite restaurants to eat at, compare to what I had before?  To 7 years of digging in, taking roots, of knowing and learning that place? Of mixing myself into it?

Don’t misunderstand me. ¬†I am so happy. ¬†But I wonder if there is room in my heart for another city to be to me what Baltimore has been.




It’s been about seven years since I had my first pho. ¬†Before I go on, I should explain for those who have never tried it. ¬†It’s a Vietnamese noodle soup with beef broth, meat, herbs and bean sprouts. ¬†And if you’re wondering if you are saying it right, you cheeks should turn a little pink when you say “I could really go for a good pho”….

My first pho was at the now closed Baltimore Pho in Hollins Market, Baltimore. ¬†They did a weekly neighborhood discount day and I had a few friends who lived in Hollins Market and I worked there, so we would meet together to take advantage of the discount, at first. ¬†This time turned into some of the most precious memories I have of my early years in Baltimore, spending time fellowshiping with my New Song girlfriends. ¬†No topic was off limits and we provided support, advice and ¬†laughter as we navigated life out of college. ¬†At least half of us have moved out of Baltimore since. ¬†There have been career changes, weddings, big moves, grad school, babies…I will never forget the special times we shared while our lives were in this similar place for a moment of time– of being newly grown up and learning to serve God in Baltimore.

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Those times ended and I almost forgot about Pho. ¬†Little did I know, it would become one of the key staples of my diet. ¬†Because Sung Yoon doesn’t just like Pho– it sustains him. ¬†It was one of the first things he told me about himself. ¬†It is the meal we always share when we are with his sister. ¬†It is the meal he wants after a long week. ¬†Or the celebrate his birthday. ¬†It was a sign we were in the right place last year, when we found Pho¬†on base¬†in Nebraska–something Sung had never seen before. ¬†It’s a way we spend rainy Saturdays or a way to catch up with old friends.

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It is so special that I am able to connect this man I love and our life together, to the rich legacy of Tuesdays with my girlfriends before I knew Sung Yoon existed, when I still wondered if I would ever find the right guy.  Life is funny that way.  As things continue to change for my relationships, as seasons of seeing certain friends regularly come and go, it can be really sad.  But, I see that it is such a rich blessing to have friends come into your life at the right time, for the right time.  And, ladies, I have a good reason to remember you often.

Here are some of the best phos Sung and I have tried together.

Pho So 1~¬†Richmond, Virginia (Our first Pho together and the place we go every time we’re in Richmond)

Pho 382~ Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska

Saigon Surface~ Omaha, Nebraska

Vietnam Restaurant~ Philadelphia

Cafe Pho Ga Thanh Thanh~ Philadelphia (Our first time trying chicken pho! ¬†Only I didn’t know the difference….)

Pho 75~ Philadelphia (loved by Anthony Bourdain and also us)