Friday, July 30, 2010

Ding Dong


So I came home with the kids recently, and as usual Hunter asked if he could go "the long way", meaning through another part of the building.  He seems to like the thrill of it, so no skin off my teeth right?  So as I get to the door there's a cute little girl slowly walking past our door, eyeing me.  I said "hi" to her, and she said "someone has been ding dong dashing us".  I thought I'd humor her and ask Hunter if he knew anything about it.  He was just inside the door, so I opened it and asked him, at which point he hung his head in shame and was speechless.

I was stunned.  I didn't have any idea that he had such inclinations, or that he even knew what a prank was or how to go about doing one.  I asked him what he should say to the girl (she is about his age, I would guess) and he was still speechless.  I ordered him to apologize, which he did.  Later on I marched him to their residence and had him apologize again.  I had to do a bit of prying to get some answers out of him, like how many people was he doing this to, and why?  Assuming he told me the truth, it was just them because they are close to a door that partitions the hallway, so he had a quick getaway.  So, he's put a bit of thought into all this.  In a way, it's kind of funny, and I have to not let him see me laugh.  Part of the humor is that he is still little, and his conniving little brain is coming up with this stuff.  But on the other hand, those fine people obviously don't see the humor in it and it is no fun to be on the receiving end of pranks.

Growing up we lived on a corner, so we got traffic from three directions (in our town of 400), and it was on the way to the school and church, the hubs of activity in the little town.  So lots of the "good" youth of town would make a point of pounding on our door every time they walked past in the night, loud enough to wake the dead and make us wonder if they were trying to break down the door.  Adults don't always fall back to sleep after being roused like that, so it was really unappreciated.  All these ne'er do wells with so much time on their hands also meant we frequently got toilet papered.  So, with that background, I sure want to nip this behavior in the bud!  Hopefully it's out of his system now!

Update:  I met the lady of the house today, and she filled me in more.  Apparently he's done it a lot.  It's been driving her girls crazy.  That time, since we had just been to the pool, the girl who apprehended him had followed his wet footprints to our door (smooth move, Boy).  The lady said that he was loitering in front of their door when she came in earlier today (our "village" had a yard sale today, so some of us were in and out a few times).  I've now forbidden him to even be in that part of the building.  What a punk!  The lady said that it had happened to them in the past.  I pointed out the convenient location, which was why Hunter had chosen them, ha ha, which she hadn't thought of.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hollywood Trash

"The way we're living now, we've got another 50 years with that person. Who would want to be with the same person for 80 years? Why not break it up a little bit?" - Cameron Diaz

I'm not at all surprised to read such tripe from a celebrity simpleton.  It could well be that she hasn't dated a quality-enough person who would be worth spending a lifetime with.  I imagine she dates people much like herself, so I imagine they wouldn't care to spend a lifetime with her either.  What is really sad, to me, is all the otherwise-good people in our society who admire these egocentric boobs, and fork out way too much money to pay homage to them on the big screen.  There are good movies out there that are worth seeing, but the majority of what comes out is all too reflective of what the "stars" lives are really like - full of one night stands, adultery, drugs, violence, and generally boorish, attention-seeking behavior.

It broke my heart to hear a group of teenage girls a few months back, nearly every one of them, say that her aspirations in life were to be "a celebutante", or "an actress", or "a singer", etc.  So they do indeed admire these people who can't maintain relationships, have no morals or values in life (other than self worship and the pursuit of fame, fortune, fun, and what feels good), and are forever going to jail or dying from their addictions.  I have no use for the common celebrity.  Of course there are exceptions, but they certainly aren't who make the news.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Only in Korea

Who knew that Spiderman resided in Korea?

Tristan is always on the go now, and has the knots on his head to prove it.  Poor baby looks battered, as one knot is draining to right between his eyes, with bruises!  This was near a bus stop on the base.
Burger King is here, off post even.  The menu is a little different (no dollar menu, sniff).
Here at a restaurant they brought us our food, which we cooked ourselves in the metal pan in the middle.  There is a flame under it, and broth is in the pan.  It was pretty good, but we mistakenly ordered it without meat (the vegetarian option), so I would have enjoyed it more with some meat. 
I'm always on the lookout for good signage.

These folks are protesting the consumption of dogs.  Apparently July 19 is supposed to be one of the hottest days of the year and to celebrate, some people eat dog.
That would be a little girl, in busy Saturday afternoon traffic, sandwiched between her parents on a motorcycle.  Haven't seen this in America?  
And, here we have beer to sample at E-mart.

All I have to say, is that Korea is one wild place.  Dean likes driving here (note he doesn't like driving at all in America).  He loves to drive like a maniac and enjoy the thrill and rush that come with constant near misses.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Not Complaining

OK, maybe I will a bit.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all the differences here.  It's not just that it is Korea and we're foreigners, but also that Seoul is such a huge city and I am still a country bumpkin at heart, my home town of Ramah having a population of 400 people.  The first week I really didn't leave the apartment alone.  I went with the ladies to the zoo, and then where ever Dean would take us after work and on the weekend, but I didn't know my way around this housing area we live in, much less in this part of the city, or how to get to the main post (base).  So, the furthest we strayed during the day were the swimming pool and the commissary, which are both virtually across the street.  I hardly know how to use the phone.  I kept trying to call the hospital yesterday, and kept getting wrong numbers.  Then Dean called and I told him my problem and he said I'd have to dial some other numbers first...  why aren't the phone numbers listed with those other numbers if they are required?  I dunno.  Dean thought I should hop on the shuttle bus here and go on over to the main post and do this and that, and I thought he was crazy.  First off, anything I do can be multiplied by four, since I have to drag three little people along, so why on earth would I run around and get lost with them in tow?  No thanks.  

This is our entry way, on the inside.  I'm sorry, but it's u g l y.  The electrical box and an ugly metal door welcome us home.  There are a lot of things like that that kind of bug, but who am I to complain?  I know, I need to count my blessings.  The housing office brought this bouquet of flowers today.

That is very nice, and I appreciate it.  The apartment is fairly nice, with lots of built in closets with shelves and drawers.  The kitchen is roomy with lots of cupboards and counter space.  Had I known how much kitchen space we'd have, I would have brought all my kitchen stuff and serving pieces.  Oh, well.  We do have four bedrooms and three full bathrooms - can't complain about that.  There's a steep, rather treacherous wooden stairwell leading to our second floor.  It is spiral, and very similar to my parents' staircase that goes to the basement, only this one is narrower and steeper.  It's perfect for a toddling hemophiliac.  And all the floors are hard - no carpet whatsoever.  Also great for a newly walking babe.  Anyway, we're getting used to it all.  And apparently Wal-mart will ship some cheap 5x8 rugs to us, so maybe that will help.  The PX (exchange, military department store) is over priced with little selection as always.  Oh, and our microwave and toaster oven didn't fare well in the move.  They both only half work now.  We can claim them, but what a hassle.

Anyway, enough with the complaining.  We wanted to go out and see some sights on Saturday, so naturally it rained all day.  We still went, but how much fun is it to, again, haul three kids around in the rain.  Everyone uses umbrellas.  We had one that Dean had just bought, that the handle came off of, so it was worthless.  And, we had an Elvis one that Dean refuses to use.  So we wore our hooded, waterproof coats.  Note, it is summer.  Even though it is raining, it is anything but cold.  So that was miserable.  We  bought another umbrella from a vendor.  We took the subway to get to a shopping district.  The subway system is way too complicated for this Ramah girl.  Dean understands it and had been using it, so he was trying to teach me.  It's like trying to understand organic chemistry (easy for him, not so for me).  He didn't realize that we would each need a card, though; we were all trying to use his card, but it wasn't working.  A good samaritan who spoke excellent English came upon us and helped us out a bit.  She said that the subway system in New York City is much more complicated, as she has lived there.  She insisted that we go to a mall that was right there, rather than the outdoor shopping district we were heading to, because of the rain.  We went in the mall, and looked around and bought some lunch at a food court.  But we didn't have any use for a mall, and this one was pretty high end.
So, out we went and made our way to an underground portion of the shopping district, to get out of the rain.  There are countless vendors and tiny aisles to walk through - really fun with a stroller.  All the women wanted to see Tristan and wanted me to put him on the counter for them to look at him and play with him.  I now know what it must be like to be a celebrity.  Forget shopping.  It was like carrying the Dalai Lama through his followers.  And, Korea has long had the reputation of having cheap shopping, but as Bro's mother-in-law told us before we came, that is not really the case any more.  I was looking for rugs, and a small bathroom rug was like $50.  I imagine if I had the time, and no child celebrities in tow, I could look more and maybe find a bargain.  Dean had bought something there a while back and had talked them down in price a little.  I'm not into that yet.
Taking pictures of the city is kind of like trying to take a single picture of the Grand Canyon.  You can only get just a snippet of it.

Dean had bought a beautiful orchid for me before I got here.  We just needed an orchid pot to put it in. So, in that shopping area, we found a whole building that seemed to be in the floral business.  We went up each floor until we found one that had tons of orchids, but I think they were for wholesale.  We asked with hand gestures, a little English, and the handful of words that Dean knows if they had a small pot.  They looked around and found one, and only asked 5000 won for it (about $5).  It's gorgeous.  The little dog in the picture was given to Dean by the civilian vet at Camp Lejeune before he left, to remind him of the working dogs there.       

So, we made our way to church on Sunday.  It was Dean's first time to find his way on his own in a car.  Our GPS is no good here, so if we want to get one here, which we probably should, it will be about $400, with English maps and speaking.  We got a bit lost, and I can't even describe how wild the traffic is.  I don't know if that's a Korean thing, or just a big city thing.  The church building is about five stories: two for parking, and then three stories for the church.  The kids couldn't resist the elevator, of course.  People were very nice.  It is called the Seoul English Branch.  It is about half military, and the rest are anything from English teachers to American employees of Samsung or other Korea-based companies.

On Friday, Tristan fell and hurt the same spot on his forehead twice within about an hour, once on a granite floor on post, and then on thin commercial carpet on post.  He has a big goose egg from it.  It seemed stable enough until about Sunday evening when it was noticeably much bigger, so we were a little concerned that he was having an internal bleed.  When hemophiliacs bruise or get bumps like that, they bleed internally, which is just as bad as a wound that bleeds externally.  So I emailed the hemophilia doctor in North Carolina that had seen Tristan and Hunter and told him about it.  He said it sounded like it did need to be treated with some clotting factor, which we have on hand.  So, I called the hospital here to talk to a doctor about it.  These are the folks that didn't want us coming at all, so I had that to look forward to.  The pediatrician called us back this morning and had us come in, so they gave him a dose of clotting factor.  There are bruise looking spots on either side of the bridge of his nose, I imagine from the blood draining from the goose egg above.  So he looks kind of beaten up.  He was very very good for it all.  He didn't even cry when they started the first IV, but it blew the vein so they had to do it again, and he did cry the second time.  Poor baby.  Hopefully the swelling will go down now.  The doctor told me he didn't like doing all this, as he had to fit us in between his appointments and he had to call other doctors to consult about it since he doesn't know anything about hemophilia... and has to take their word for it (namely a local Korean doctor, whom the hematologist in North Carolina referred us to).  I can understand that, but it sure would be a hassle to have to find our way to the local hospital with a hematologist.  This is why they didn't want to deal with us in the first place.  But, we got it done.  The goose egg is on the left side of his head, kind of hard to see in this picture.  He walks all over now, but is still unsteady.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh, my Seoul

Our six weeks of travel have finally ended.  We left Jacksonville, NC June 4, 2010, and finally landed in Seoul South Korea on July 13.  Tristan was probably the best traveler of the children.
Kyler leaves his mark wherever he goes.  The Grand Canyon bus was no exception.

An ever-delightful child, that one.
Note his simultaneous ear touching and thumb sucking.  Hunter ear touched and bottle sucked until he was three.  Alas, we can't take that thumb away and Kyler's nearly five.  He actually stopped for several months in the last year when I suggested that such behavior wouldn't allow him to attend school.  Now he doesn't care about going to school.  It still soothes him, as it did on that Grand Canyon bus.

The Grand Canyon was spectacular, as expected.
We said our final goodbyes to Grandma Merrill.
And to the Hernandez cousins.

Grandma Dee stayed up most of the night with us, and along with David took us to the airport early in the morning, along with our 12 checked luggage items.  The children slept a little on the plane.  Note the ear touching again.
It must have been nice.  I didn't get to sleep much.  That made it all the easier to sleep once we got to our new home.
The flight was two hours to San Francisco, where we milled about for several hours, then 11 more hours to Incheon.  Tristan is sleeping here.  Don't ask me how.
We were happy to see Daddy waiting for us at the airport in Seoul.  The bus people weren't so happy to see all our luggage. I wouldn't have brought nearly as much if I had known it would only be a few weeks before we were able to come.  Welcome to the Army.
The next morning the boys and I went with a bunch of ladies from church to the Seoul zoo.  These are "lady" parking spots, apparently?
It was an awesome zoo.  Being monsoon season, we did find ourselves in a bit of a downpour at one point.
The people are enthralled with babies, especially when they are as cute as Tristan.  The people often stop to have a look or touch his feet.
There is quite a bit of English on signs and such.
Forgive me,
I just couldn't resist.
These were some eats available at the zoo.  On the right appear to be some squid waffles?  I'm not that adventurous.  We had some double-breaded corn dogs.
Dean found himself a hooptie.  Since the Army will only pay to ship one vehicle over (or none at all, depending on one's rank), it is a common practice to buy an inexpensive vehicle here, then sell it upon leaving.  There's a brisk market in hoopties.  He did pretty well, apparently, as there was some hooptie envy at a recent meeting of all the Army veterinarians in Korea.  Some people paid what he did, and got lesser hoopties.  It is a Daewoo, and seems to be pretty nice, especially for the price.  It is a '97 Leganza.

The boys and I are still adjusting to the sixteen-hour time difference.  Here is some of our loaner furniture.  It's actually pretty nice, and this coffee table is nearly identical to the one we just got rid of, only the legs are all firmly attached to this one.
This was right outside our "low rise" today.  I'm not sure what was going on, but I hadn't seen a firetruck emblazoned with U.S.Army before so I snapped a picture.  Our "express shipment" of stuff is here, which is nice.  It will be more than a month before the rest of our stuff comes, but at least we have plenty of furniture for now.  Our housing area is at a satellite location, so off the main post.  It is for E1-E8, WO, and O1-O3.  We have a two-story apartment in a "low-rise" building.  We are on the first floor.  I think the building is two units high (so four stories).  There are tall towers as well.  There is a swimming pool, playground, small commissary and PX practically right outside our door.  I went shopping at the commissary today, and had it delivered to my counter top.  I'm not complaining!  

Dean is enjoying his job so far.  He is in "operations" now, so it is totally different from what he's ever done.  He says he likes not being in charge any more, like he was the second year at Camp Lejeune.  The city is comparable, we're told, to New York City, based on it's size, and probably the weather as well.  It is hot and humid in the summer (right now, ugh) and cold in the winter.  I thought it was overcast at first, but no, it's smog.  We're getting settled in, slowly.  I'm still jetlagged enough that I'm slow in unpacking all that luggage. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cut off my what?!

Nearly 8 years ago, we chose not to circumcise our first-born son.  I was a little concerned that we wouldn't be adhering to Biblical law if we didn't do it, so I tracked down Brother Hyde, a former institute instructor.  He guided me to Mormon Doctrine, where it explains that the Law of Moses, including circumcision, was fulfilled in Christ, so that concern was eliminated.  As a man, Dean was all for leaving things intact.   As a hemophiliac, Hunter would have had to receive blood products for the procedure.  There were so many reasons not to do it, so we didn't.  We've never regretted that decision, and left all three of our sons intact.  I am surprised at how commonly it is done.  The doctors at the naval hospital where Tristan was born came in my room in the middle of the night wanting to do it, so I told them for the umpteenth time that Tristan might have hemophilia, so "NO THANKS".  Yeah, that was how my dad was diagnosed about 70 years ago (he didn't stop bleeding, and they didn't have clotting factor to give bleeders, either, so a bleed would last for days or weeks).  Sure enough Tristan does have hemophilia, but that is beside the point.  We didn't want to do it anyway, but that was a good excuse to get them off my back.

Today, I feel validated.  I haven't done any more research on my own, but from a friend's friend's blog post I learned an awful lot, and am grateful that we left things as they were.   Learn more here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

tick tock

It's setting in that the boys and I will soon be on our way to our new home - one week and counting.

Dean is loving Seoul so far.  He likes most that there are virtually no freaks.  No weirdos on the subway, no hippie freaks, no panhandlers, no pierced and tattooed nutburgers that the kids invariably ask loud questions about.  People are hard working and at least look conservative.  So far he has seen one rocker guy with long hair, and one bum near the university, and that's about it.  We sure can't say that for America!  I've been pondering why there are so many oddballs here.  Is it the welfare state?  Maybe they institutionalize the mentally unwell in Korea?  I don't know. 

He really likes the food so far, though is hesitant to try the live baby octopus and the silk worm larvae.  If he is very far from the base, they don't tend to speak English in the restaurants, so they will usually bring him a bowl of udon noodles or some other soup, which he has so far enjoyed.  It is monsoon season, and the other day he was unable to get a taxi on the base (our vehicle is not there yet) so he ended up walking a bit in a downpour.  Soldiers are not allowed to use umbrellas when in uniform, and he doesn't have any uniform rain gear, so he was just getting soaked.  A woman stopped and gave him a ride.  He thought she looked familiar and then realized that she is in the ward there (our church).  I'm so grateful that he is being watched out for by good people.  She didn't recognize him, so I don't know if the Spirit led her to pick him up, or if she's just super nice like that.  An empty-nest couple has been taking him to church, and fed him dinner on Sunday, as well as took him to watch fireworks.  That means so much to me.  

Hunter and Kyler are in Albuquerque with Grandma Dee and Grandpa David for the week, and my parents
up and decided to take a little trip on their own, so Baby Pants and I are holding down the fort here.  Everyone, of course, has been enthralled with him.  He is an absolute doll with his sweet demeanor and blond curls.
He turned one on July 2, so we threw a little first birthday party on Saturday in the back yard.

We served lunch and had a lovely cake done by
the lovely Ronelle.
Tristan had no idea, of course, that we were celebrating him, but he had a good time.
The boys provided entertainment for the party.

Grandma Dee fed Tristan his cake, so Grandma LaVerne didn't have to get worked up about a messy boy.

The weather is perfect here in the summer - no humidity, and rarely gets "hot".  It cools off a lot at night (even down to the 30s - which isn't so good for gardeners).  I trimmed his hair this morning.  I thought I was only taking off half an inch, but it sure looks different.  I hope his curls aren't gone!  Without the humidity here, I have to put water and gel in his hair for it to curl like it did in the east.  Either way, he's still a cutie! 

I had a goal of helping my mom to declutter her house while I was here.  I didn't know how long I'd have, and now have much less time than I had imagined, so we've made a dent in it, but not nearly what I had hoped.  I will try to do what I can while they are gone for a few days.  She did actually give me the go ahead to toss her teaching materials, which is a huge step. 

Happy Summer!