Thursday, November 30, 2006
We won't miss:
- traffic and insane drivers who think traffic laws are just a suggestion to be ignored (seeing 5 lanes of traffic trying to fit in one painted lane is a prime example);
- the itty, bitty, teeny, weeny apartment we had in Daejeon -- I think it was roughly 800 square feet, including the enclosed balconies, and only boasted a kitchenette to cook in ;
- soju, a potent rice liquor, often featured at whay-shiks (a male-bonding extravaganza that Sam says he won't miss either);
- monsoons, enough said;
- smog, so bad you can't see the hills and mountains that completely surround Seoul; and
- yellow dust, courtesy of China, that infiltrates everything every Spring (and Fall this year);
- being 13-14 hours ahead of East Coast time (14-15 hours of Central) and trying to remember what time and day it is back home before calling.
We WILL miss:
- Ms. Cho, our aujuma, who cleaned our house and helped out with the kids once a week;
- Mr. Alex, the care giver at the daycare who usually watched L'il Sis on the occasions that she went;
- AFN "commercials" -- they were mini-lessons on history, geography, military life, etc. While some could be a bit on the corny side, my kids don't really ask for much because they haven't been exposed to commercials for toys, etc.;
- the ease of public transportation: cabs, buses, subways, even "bullet"-type trains for outside the city;
- maintenance workers (and movers, etc.) who actually show up when they say they will;
- really cheap entry fees to museums, palaces, and other attractions;
- Korean foods such as bibimbap that will be hard to find in the States (Sam will also miss speaking Korean on an almost daily basis); and
- all the wonderful U.S. and R.O.K. friends we've made in our two years here.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Although the U.S. Marines here are a small group, the Birthday Ball was a big event and the Marines did a great job organizing and hosting the Ball. We filled the ballroom at the Hyatt and had a great time. Unfortunately, the Marine in charge of the event placed a bottle of soju at each table. His wife (a good friend of mine) thought it would be a good idea, or at least very funny, to have her friends each do at least one shot of the stuff. It is horrible. A bit like trying to drink rubbing alcohol. I don't know how Stretch stood it last year. Despite that experience, we really had a great evening with our friends.
Usually, I get one token slow dance a year at the Birthday Ball. This year, Stretch actually danced quite a bit with me, even to faster music. And while my shoes started off comfortable enough, I eventually had to kick them off, along with many of the ladies on the dance floor. Then, after the taxi dropped us off outside the base, we had to walk about half to three-quarters of a mile to get home. Yes, in those shoes! Plus, I was trying to keep up with Stretch. You may have noticed in the picture that his legs are a little longer than mine (by about a mile!) He was sweet and tried to carry me part of the way, but that didn't really work.
All in all, it was a memorable Birthday Ball made more so by the company of good friends. We will definitely miss our many wonderful friends here when we leave the peninsula next month.
*Despite the picture, but I'm not really that short. I'm 5'4" but Stretch is 6'8".
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Halloween came early for us on Yongsan. Official Trick-or-Treating hours were on Saturday night from 6:00 to 8:30. We ran out of candy before 7:30. This year, Big Sis decided she didn't want to go trick-or-treating, so she handed out the treats. Apparently, the candy wasn't worth having to dress up. Big Sis explained to one mom who came by with her little ones that she already had enough candy. L'il Sis, on the other hand, had a blast. She had no qualms about going up to strangers, saying, "Trick or Treat!" and holding out her bucket. Sam said even the scary masks some kids had on didn't bother her once he told her they were okay. Once her bucket got too heavy for her, we cut her off. But L'il Sis still wanted to walk around the neighborhood and see everything.
C'mon, Dad! There's candy out there waiting for me!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Now for the "mummies" portion of this entry. We found Big Sis asleep in her bed tonight with her top sheet pulled off the bed and wrapped tightly around her, kind of like a mummy. Or a baby burrito. You know, when babies are newborns and you wrap them in receiving blankets like burritos so they feel secure. What I can't figure out is how she managed to get the sheet wrapped so tightly around her 3 or 4 times. That had to take talent!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Big Sis's birthday fell on Chusok this year. Chusok is the biggest holiday of the year here in South Korea. It's a harvest celebration, as well as a time to reconnect with family and pay tribute to ancestors. Most Americans compare it to our Thanksgiving, but its also very different. At any rate, between Friday being a day off for Chusok and Monday being an American holiday (Columbus Day), we decided to hold Big Sis's party next week. Big Sis decided her actual birthday would be for our family "fiesta." Have I mentioned she's in a Spanish "immersion" first grade and receives Spanish instruction the last half-hour of every school day? Yes, I know, how ironic: We live in Korea but our child is being taught Spanish. But back to the birthday...
So we had a small cake and Big Sis opened gifts from family. She had a pretty good day and was very gracious, sharing all her new toys with her sister. Then, Big Sis spent the rest of the 4-day weekend telling us at every opportunity, "I'm six, you know," or "Well, I'm six."
Friday, September 29, 2006
My friend shannon challenged me to do this. I'm sure it's meant to be revealing about your personality, but here goes anyway! What is in my purse...
First, I switch between this black "Prada"-esque bag that I won during the raffle at an Armed Forces Spouse Club luncheon last year and an earth-toned striped "Kate Spade"-esque bag that is not quite as tall. And sometimes not everything makes the shuffle! Anyway, when I inventoried the contents this morning (Friday), I realized not everything was present to be accounted for. So I've put in ( ) the items that can often be found in my bag that were mysteriously missing this morning.
- 1 small bottle of ReNu rewetting drops
- 1 Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick in Blushing Nude [I don't even know why that is in there since I rarely wear lipstick anyway. It probably got left behind from last Sunday!]
- Thursday's (yesterday's) "to do" list
- Tuesday's "to do" list [don't ask about Wednesday -- I don't know]
- 1 receipt proving I paid the cable bill for both Sept. and Oct. (it saves me a trip next month)
- 1 size 4 Huggies diaper
- (travel-size container of Huggies wipes)
- (sippy cup)
- (bottled water)
Surprisingly, there was nothing in the zippered middle compartment.
- (cell phone)
I think this just proves that I'm nowhere near as high-maintenance as my husband sometimes thinks I am.
So, what's in your purse?
(I'm tagging Amy of Savage Stories, as a working mother of twins, she's got to have way more interesting stuff in her bag than I do!)
Monday, September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
You can get the idea although this picture isn't that great -- it doesn't really show the full impact of what L'il Sis did to herself. She kept spinning away every time Sam tried to get a picture. Imagine! A 2-year old who didn't want to cooperate.
L'il Sis decided she needed a bit of color last weekend. Somehow, she found some crayons after escaping from her room in the early hours of Saturday morning. We found her like this -- the area around her mouth covered in purple crayon. She was also grinning away and laughing. Fortunately, she didn't eat the crayons -- she just used them as lipstick. So in addition to scribbling on the walls and doors any time she finds a pencil (muralist), she's now adding make-up artist to her coloring resume.
Big Sis has been on a butterfly- catching kick lately. She could spend hours at it. Sadly for her, she doesn't have a butterfly net and had to make do with a net that came with some Sassy bath toys. I was amazed at how many butterflies were placed in captivity by that little net. Big Sis waited for the butterflies to land on the ground before pouncing. She began by putting them in a jelly jar with holes poked in the lid but that was too small, apparently. She moved on to the plastic container you see in these pictures that Sam slashed in many places to allow air flow. The new hobby came in handy when Big Sis had an assignment to catch an insect and bring it to school to share.
L'il Sis has only been mildly interested in what Big Sis is doing. The running about is what she enjoyed. Although, she did get jealous when Big Sis was hunkered down showing a butterfly to a neighboring 3 year old girl. She ran across the play area to where Big Sis and the other little girl were and knocked the poor girl over. I made her say she was sorry.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Fortunately, L'il Sis was going to daycare after Big Sis went to school so her backpack was ready to go as well. She took that as a substitute for Big Sis's lunchbox that she was trying to carry (until Big Sis tucked it into her backpack). As you can see, both girls were more than ready to go well before we needed to leave.Big Sis was so pleased when she learned that a classmate from kindergarten would be in her first grade class this year (no easy feat, considering there are at least 7 first grade classes at her school!). After school, about the only thing Big Sis would tell me about her day was that her teacher had taken all her glue sticks. She told me this over and over and over. Apparently, it was quite the tragedy and she is having a difficult time getting over it.
Maeve and Claire coloring together:
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Later, when I asked her if she was a big girl or a baby, she answered with an emphatic, "Baby!" So I guess that's that. She is definitely not interested for now!
Then there's the dinner battle. Lately, she hasn't wanted to eat much of anything at dinner. When we ask her to take a bite, Claire usually gives us a big grin (to the point I sometimes worry her cheeks will explode!) and says, "I drink-a milk!" One night, after 20 minutes of asking her to take just one bite, she finally did and pronounced, with great surprise, "I like it!" Meanwhile, I'm aging by the minute! Whoever it was who said that kids keep you young, they LIED!
I don't know if it's sad or funny, but C-O-M-M-I-S-S-A-R-Y was also one of the first words she could read (hard to miss those huge letters on the front of the building).
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Lost amid the Little People
"My kitchen!" (translation: Stay outta my kitchen!)
"Chicken!" "Too hot!" "I wanna make it hot."
Can you see me now?
I'd like to take your order, but this writing thing...
As you can see from the tiara, Claire is a fan of Cinderella. She can even (almost) say her name.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
To add to all of that, it's been raining since Monday! That's right, it's Sunday now and it's still raining. You do the math. The typhoon that went by the peninsula explains Monday and maybe even Tuesday. But it doesn't explain Saturday and today, when it was really coming down. Welcome to monsoon season! We may not need to go to the pool for Maeve's swim lesson this week.
Friday, July 07, 2006
On the subway the day after their arrival. Sam and I didn't realize how much Claire had grown until we saw that she required two laps during her snooze on the subway.
After exchanging money and shopping in Itaewon their first morning, we took them to see Gyeongbokgung Palace that afternoon. We took the English guided tour and as you can see by the next picture, Maeve didn't let the guide get too far away (even during a quick break mid-way through the tour). She just didn't want to miss anything, I suppose. This was a problem at a museum we visited the following week, but I'll get to that later.
The next day we took the Seoul City Bus Tour, which we hadn't done before and really enjoyed. We hopped off the bus a few times to see traditional houses, the top of Namsan and to see the view from Seoul Tower (visibility and air quality were so poor we couldn't even see the Han River), and to find a place to have lunch in Insadong. The tour also gave us ideas of places we want to return to and explore in greater detail.
The girls put on a fashion show for our guests. Princesses kept disappearing into the playroom only to reemerge as another princess. They also modeled their han-boks for us. The only problem was they kept changing clothes and didn't want to stop.
Sam and Maeve took Grammy Ruth and Aunt Mary on a KTX train to Daejeon. Mainly, it gave them a chance to ride the KTX (the fast train) and to get a glimpse of where Sam lived last year. But since Maeve joined the expedition at the last minute, it turned out to be mostly for her since they went to Expo Park and enjoyed the attractions there before returning to Seoul.
Sam, Ruth, Claire and Maeve in the Dragonhill Lodge courtyard. This was Sam's last day with us before he left for Hawaii for work. So we took it pretty easy that day.
After Sam left, we still kept our visitors busy and on the go. A friend kept the girls for me one day so that we could go shopping at Namdaemun Market. Our 4-hour excursion (including subway rides, shopping and a detour through Itaewon on the return trip) was pretty successful to judge by the bags we were carrying back.
The next day, Ruth and Mary took a tour of the DMZ. While not necessarily a "fun" thing, it is an informative way to spend a day. I would certainly recommend it as a "must do" for anyone visiting Korea. Between my visit there last year and visits to a few other places, including the War Memorial (next few pictures), I've certainly learned more about the Korean War than I ever knew before coming here.
These next pictures were taken at the War Memorial (a museum that covers the military history of Korea, with a big focus on the Korean War). We visited there the day before Grammy and Aunt Mary were scheduled to return home.
Now, remember how Maeve shadowed our tour guide at the palace? At this museum, we had hand-held audio guides that told us about exhibits throughout the museum. Left to her own devices, Maeve would have listened to each and every one! She wanted to hear everything, see everything. Finally, I told her that she and Daddy could come back and spend an entire day looking at everything and he would do a much better job than Mommy at explaining everything, especially the equipment! They'll both be in heaven then! Is it normal for 5 year old to enjoy museums so much?
Maeve exploring the planes in the outdoor exhibit.
Claire fell asleep while we were still outside and didn't wake up until we were half-way through the interior of the museum. Later, she and Grammy rested in the shade before walking back to the car. Did I mention it was hot and muggy?
This is probably what Maeve enjoyed most about the visit, though: reading to Grammy and Aunt Mary every night. She usually read them 3 or 4 books. Unfortunately for them, they tended to be the same books each night! Claire would listen for a little while, but then would jump up to play or grab her own book to look at before listening a little more. Then, she'd jump up... you get the idea. Between all the outings and the showing off, the girls were pretty tired and easy to put to bed most nights.
It really was a whirlwind visit. It seemed that they had just arrived, but before we knew it, Grammy Ruth and Aunt Mary had returned home. The girls certainly missed all the extra attention they received! It was pretty quiet here until Sam returned from his trip a few days later.