Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving Thanks

We were able to host six missionaries for Thanksgiving Dinner this year, which was delightful.  There were two sets of elders and one set of sisters, including a Korean elder and sister, who both spoke English as well.  The sister even speaks Chinese and has had occasion to use it on her mission.  They were most appreciative and, while they love Korean food, were thrilled to have a traditional American Thanksgiving meal - a first for the Koreans, who had never had Turkey or cheesecake.  They arrived in time to help with the finishing touches of the meal (peeling potatoes and setting the table), and one elder carved the turkey.  The Korean elder spotted Dean's Tapatios Hot Sauce (Mexican) and put some on his food.  We had an extra bottle and gave it to him, and it turned out to be his birthday.

They gave us thank-you cards while they were here, sang Angels We Have Heard on High to us in Korean, and even helped with the dishes.  The American sister brought a Thanksgiving craft and did it with the boys.  It was a Native American headdress in which they were able to write what they were thankful for on each of the paper feathers.  One elder comes from a family of six brothers and two sisters.  I marveled at how his mother had accomplished such a feat, particularly managing so many boys.  He said he does wish he could go back and be more obedient to her.  That gives me hope that my boys may turn out after all.  On a day-to-day basis, I often wonder... 
 One of the elders is on the Cornell football team.  Ultimately, this is why I have children.  I hope that they will grow up to be such decent, wonderful people as these elders and sisters.  We all went around the table and said what we were most thankful for.  For me, it has to be that we are all here together as a family.  Indeed, we are blessed!
 The day after Thanksgiving we decided to check out the children's portion of the Korea National Museum. 
 Most of it was in Hangul (Korean).  I would be curious to know what this sign says.
 Earlier in the week we were able to participate in a pottery making activity for Dean's unit.  Tristan was the star of the show, as usual.  This lady is an officer in the Korean Army.
 It's always amazing to watch a master potter at work.  He did most of it, so that our pieces will actually be nice.  Kyler didn't want to throw a pot on the wheel, surprisingly.  Sometimes he has a shy streak.
 There's no point in putting anything in the lower drawers around here.  They are the Trist-man's domain.
 Dean had to go to work in his dress uniform recently, to be inspected in preparation for the Christmas ball at the end of this week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Head Carefulness

We had Veterans Day off and decided to go out of Seoul just a bit to visit the Korean Folk Village.  It actually cost about $35 for the family, which is fine, but most museums and such here are either free or just a couple thousand won (couple of dollars).  It was fantastic, though, kind of like a little Nauvoo with many houses and shrines and working shops to visit.  The kids really liked the jail.
 These are some instruments of discipline.
 "Watch your head" - it was a low door.
 It didn't say what people had to do to earn these punishments.

Kyler exercised some much-needed discipline on Hunter, ha ha.  A group of Korean teenagers or young adults were having a merry time taking turns "disciplining" each other as well.

This guy weaves.  There were other people spinning thread, making baskets, gardening (real gardens), and much more.
 This is a real black smith shop, and this guy was making farm implements.
 This is one loooooong kiln for baking the pottery that artisans make.
We had lunch in one of the restaurants, which was very good.  All the employees in the village wore traditional dress of some sort, such as this lovely Hanbok.
It was a lovely fall day, and we were glad to get out of town and away from the G-20 excitement.
 These guys were fantastic.  A group of about 20 young men danced while making music.  It went on for about half an hour, and they all knew their parts perfectly.  These guys did the main percussion music; others had long ribbons on their head gear which they whipped around in unison while using smaller drums.  Even Tristan was mesmerized for most of it.
 This guy put on quite the show as a tight-rope walker.  He was older, too, which was interesting.  He did a lot of "tricks" up on the rope.
The buildings near the village were pretty authentic, including the local 7-11.

 As forecasted, it rained heavily mid afternoon, but we had seen enough by then and were all tired out and ready to go home.

Fall for Fun

The kids aren't aware that it is customary to serve treats with Family Home Evening.  This last Monday we made caramel apples before FHE, then ate them afterward when they were cool.  The secret is still safe, but it was fun to do, especially with these yummy Korean apples.  We melted candy caramels and threw some almond slices in for excitement.  
  It was our first time; next I'd like to try making donuts.
 We went to a halloween party with the theme of Super Villains.  We decided to be liberals, and won scariest costumes (I was Ruth B. Ginsberg; Dean was, well, rocking the skinny jeans).  A woman there told Dean she used to be a liberal type, and had dated someone who looked pretty much like he did (in costume).

yonki goho

We had a bizarre experience this evening.  We were able to go on a date (yay for Thai food!) and were nearly home, but not in our housing village yet.  We stopped and proceeded to park on the side of the road (just as many other cars were parked) so we could buy some fruit from a peddler, when a crazy woman with a shaved head and strange clothes started yelling at us.  At first we thought she was speaking Korean, and had no clue what she was saying.  She said the same phrase over and over, something like "yonki goho".  She said it so many times we finally realized she was saying "young kid, go home".  She was definitely targeting us.  At first we thought maybe she didn't want us parking there, perhaps because she owned the business where we were parking, but that clearly wasn't the case.  She was just a freak with a portable CD player.  She was right outside the passenger side of the van, where I was planning to get out and walk up the street to do business with the fruit guy, but I wasn't about to get out right in her face so she could attack me or whatever she was up to.  With G20 here this week we've been warned continually about violent protesters and such.  Dean figures she must be a communist left over from that.  We proceeded to park in an alley up the street, closer to the fruit vendor.  She followed us and continued yelling, always the same phrase.  Everyone else on the street ignored her.  We waved at her several times, then as we were leaving, snapped a picture of her.  She seemed to like that, and posed a bit.  I don't know if that is a Korean gesture of ill will, or if she thought she was flipping us off.  The picture was through the windshield and turned out horribly - oh well.  The whole episode was WEIRD!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Man Can Cook

 I thought I had lost my keys the other day when I needed to take Tristan to the hemo clinic, so I called Dean and he came home (naturally he found my keys right next to my purse which I had been cleaning out - I always keep them there).  It was about 4pm by then, and traffic gets exponentially worse that late in the work day, so I suggested that Dean "start" dinner.  I was planning to make manicotti.  I got home around 6pm, and dinner was ready, and he had cleaned up after himself, too - bonus!  He is perfectly able to cook, just needs a little direction (what to cook and a recipe). 
 I had previously asked at the clinic about getting a helmet for Tristan, but that doctor didn't think he would wear it.  His current hematoma (goose egg) has not been healing very well.  He hasn't had factor over the weekends, so the last few Mondays it has been much bigger and discolored.  That same doctor was concerned that perhaps he was developing inhibitor (immunity to the clotting factor) or that there was a crack in his skull there.  The other (much older/more experienced) doctor was there the next day and thought rather that Tristan must keep bumping it, and he had a nurse produce this sweet little helmet.  He does pull it back throughout the day, but it's not hard to put it back in place, and now, Monday morning, the hematoma looks about like it did on Friday - woohoo!  They have had a hard time getting an I.V. going to give Tristan the factor.  They usually end up sticking him more than once.  They give him candy and let him play with their phones to keep him happy while they do all this.  The younger doctor said on Friday that the blood vessels of Caucasians are much more friable and fragile than those of Orientals (his word), which is why they have such a hard time with Tristan.  He said that that isn't necessarily documented, but the "old doctor" (his words) observed that when he worked in the U.S. for 20 years. 

So, on Friday the doctor said that starting this week Tristan should only need the factor every other day, which is great news.  We've already drained $5000 from our savings to pay for all the factor and doctor visits (about 95% of that is the factor - the fees are nominal).  It should be reimbursed by Tricare, but that will likely be a long, arduous process with multiple denials and losses of paperwork.  We've finally made the decision to not apply to stay here for a third year.  Two years of this situation in particular is long enough.  We can see now why the hospital here didn't want us to come.  We absolutely didn't have these issues with Hunter when he was little (he also has hemophilia).  Apparently they are slowing way down on letting families come here now, because the schools, hospitals, parking, etc. are all over capacity.  The elementary school has 2,000 students, yikes!  It is hard to get an appointment at the hospital.
 Looking for a good time?
 I left Kyler's hair alone for about a week, but buzzed it off before church last week.  He shed many a tear while I did it, but it only took half a minute.  I think he looks like a real bruiser now.
 Yesterday (Sunday) Hunter woke up vomiting, so Dean stayed home with him and Tristan, and I took Kyler to church.  Kyler and Tristan do play a lot during the day, which is nice.  I guess it's not the end of the world that Kyler missed starting school this year (BY ONE DAY!).  I don't know that he is well behaved enough to have gone anyway.
I have already received my code to get my 50 Christmas cards from Seehere, but we need to get a snapshot of us.  I was hoping to yesterday when we were dressed for church, but that didn't work out.