Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas

December 2011

Here we are at the end of another year, wondering where it went and hoping that you are doing well and enjoying this holiday season.  We are on the downhill slope of our time in Korea, and will be leaving this coming June.  We have decided to leave the Army at that time as well, and will likely return to New Mexico - but you never do know with us!

Hunter is in the fourth grade and loves to challenge us and his teacher.  He is a stellar reader and a big help around the house and with the little ones when he wants to be.  He started reading the Harry Potter books about a month ago and is sailing right through them.  He loves to play board games, swim, and wrestle with all the boys.  He and Kyler had 8 weeks of swim lessons in the summer.  We have had a few “bleeds” with him and Tristan while here, due to their mild hemophilia.

Kyler finally got to start Kindergarten and has a male teacher who must be the most structured person on earth, which is great for Kyler.  He has enjoyed being in Tae kwon do for the last year.  He is very loving and enthusiastic about life.  He always wants to save any treats he has to share with his brothers and dad.  He makes friends where ever he goes.

Tristan is a sweet little imp.  He is almost two and a half, and says new words every day.  He is now potty trained.  He has been able to model a bit here (clothing, head wear, etc.), which is fattening up the Lavallee Mission Fund (Kyler and Cambria have each done it once as well).  He loves to play, hang with his dad and brothers, cut paper with scissors, go anywhere and eat treats.

We have had the amazing blessing of welcoming little Cambria Rose into our family this year, on June 14.  She is a pure delight and full of smiles.  She already has six teeth, and is an accomplished sitter.  The Koreans especially enjoy her, as she smiles and engages with them.  We hope she will have a calming influence on her brothers.  Kyler particularly loves to hold her, and Tristan has been more interested in her of late as she is able to interact with him.  My mom was able to be here for two weeks when she was born, which was a huge relief!  We only wish she had stayed longer.

We go sight seeing when Dean has time off.  We recently went to Jeju Island, Korea’s version of Hawaii.  Traveling with all these children feels much like trying to move a military division.  It is awkward being swarmed and stared at by Koreans, as they give the kids lots of treats and touch them. “Normal” here is for the Koreans to come take Baby Cambria from us.  They bring her right back when she spits up all over them. 

I continually lower my personal expectations, as it leads to less disappointment over how much I am actually capable of doing these days.  I do try to get a little sewing and crafting in, and am slowly learning about quilting and photography.  Dean is kept busy by the Army, and has one more trip to the U.S. for continuing education before we move back.  He is a district (stake) clerk at church (dealing with finances, primarily), and I was released from primary recently and put in relief society, which was a welcome change.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Dean, Becky, Hunter, Kyler, Tristan and Cambria Lavallee

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let's go to Sokcho

Still trying to catch up! The week after all the fun in Jeju-do, we went along with Dean to Sokcho, where his unit was having a commander's conference. Families were welcome, and they provided a bus to travel on (not everyone did the bus), and he already had a room, so we just had to buy our own food. With no car, we mostly stuck close to the hotel, except for an outing with the Owens, who did drive separately.  Dean finally got some stuffed squid, which he had been wanting since we were there more than a year ago.  It was actually pretty good!  I didn't care for the whole fried shrimp,  though.  I didn't realize it still had the head and shell on.  Yuck!  Apparently you just eat it like that.  I gave it the thumbs down.

The boys shared a twin bed and sadly,
the Trist-man fell out a few times.
It was overcast and lovely at the beach.
Tristan has been modeling quite a bit lately, and Cambria even had her first gig a week ago.
Hunter and Kyler,
plus the Owens kids.
We all went up to Mt. Seorak.  Our kids are a hit throughout Asia.  Dean thought this guy was from Taiwan; he was eager for pictures with the kids. Tristan "just said no" to that, but Kyler is always game.
Tristan believes in being carried, and since we didn't bring his green car along, we couldn't do much about it. (I love that man in the picture, by the way). 
Hunter and Kyler hiked up this mountain pretty far.  Hunter's in there somewhere.
The Taiwanese dude gave Tristan treats, some of  which were wasabi flavored.  Yes, I was prepared with the camera waiting for the perfect shot.
Not good enough for Tristan, but grrrrrrreat for Daddy!
Yes, Cambria and I were there as well.  This reminds me - I still have some baby weight to lose x 2.
Then we returned home to recover!  And prepare for a second Thanksgiving feast.  The first was with Uncle Louis and Aunt Louise when they came from Russia about a week before.  Then we got to host four missionaries (much like last year), and Dr. Kim (a civilian vet at work) was able to come as well.  Fun times!
And, we finally learned on Friday that Dean made the promotions list, meaning he is now "promotable" to major.  We'll see if it happens before he's outta the army.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Jeju Doh?

I can scarcely believe how long it's been since I've blogged.  Life seems to get busier by the day, though I seem to have less and less to show for it.  We took a trip over the Veteran's Day weekend to Jeju-do, Korea's version of Hawaii.  It's a beautiful island only an hour's flight from Seoul.  We rented a car and tried to see all that we could in three days.

Guardians, as pictured behind us, are everywhere on the island.
I would rather see natural wonders than amusements any day, so we saw a few waterfalls.
Here is one fancy trash can.
People left their rocks in piles on trails, presumably to let Buddha know they were thinking about him.  I wondered what we are doing to let our Lord know we are thinking about Him?
There are tot-sized potties all over Korea, which is handy for the trainee.  He was pretty good at Jeju about using the potty.  I must say that he has been the most difficult one so far to train, just because of his defiance.
Here is a Buddhist visitor center of sorts.
The weather was just beautiful most of our trip, and there were smaller "islands" out yonder.   I love the new camera!
 A beach of black sand.  Sadly, Kyler tossed his beloved wallet along some rocks for "safe keeping", then forgot to retrieve it when we left.  We went back later in the day and it was long gone.  Fortunately, at my mom's behest, I had removed most of his money from it some time before. 
 Tristan was down to his skivvies in no time.
 There is no shortage of great signage.
 You can tell what is on the menu by the animals pictured.  I bet that horse and pig wouldn't be grinning if they knew their purpose.  No, I had no intention of eating RAW horse.
 But I was all about kimbap since I made a valiant effort (once again) to go gluten free.  I easily passed up many a wheatish delight on the trip.  I've since fallen off the wagon with so many Christmas treats abounding at tree lighting ceremonies and Christmas concerts, and home baking.
 This would be Jeju Pork Bulgogi.  Not nearly the same as the typical Bulgogi on the peninsula.
 Kyler got to watch Dean and Hunter ride a go-cart, since he just couldn't muster much of any good behavior.
 We've come to realize that "Family Vacation" is the worst of oxymorons.  It's not any sort of a vacation with the family along.  But Tristan's good looks help to redeem him.
 This rock looks like a dragon's head.

 Columnar joints - really neat to look at!

 Mandarin oranges were in season, and we saw millions and millions of them on the trees.  The hotel had a few trees, so I sent the boys right out to harvest them :)  I must have eaten 20 a day or more.
 The hotel was really nice - too nice for us.  Of course, the nicer the hotel, the less you get (internet was $20 a day, so we declined, for instance).  But they had a lovely pool area, and much more to see.  We forgot Cambria's pacifier which was a disaster the first night.  We quickly bought one the second day, which much improved the situation.  They provided a "crib" for her in the hotel, which was more of an old fashioned (but new) play pen.  Kyler and Tristan slept together in it, and Cambria slept in her carseat.  Hunter got a whole bed to himself, and a sofa went unused.  If we had stayed in a less expensive hotel, they would have required us to use two rooms.
 We actually hiked part of the way up a volcano.  Tristan was the hindrance, but did surprisingly well once we realized that he would walk if we threatened to take away his beloved "green car", which he is holding here.  Otherwise he thought Dean should carry him up. 
 I just can't get over the horse eating.
 Need the potty?
 Ever had mackeral?  It's one yummy fish.  It was all spiced out here, but it's best in its more natural state.
 It was really nice to get away for a few days, especially since we really haven't done that here with the kids.  Dean has decided for sure to get out of the army, so if we move close to "home", we'll do more real vacations (sans children!)  I'll post more soon, hopefully - the adventures never end!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Train Me Now

Daddy-O is away for the week playing Army, so up late I stay.  I have found a book that will hopefully revolutionize our lives.  Today after school we spent an hour training how to come through the door, where to put backpacks and shoes, what doesn't belong in the entry, how to clean the bathroom, etc.  Nothing new... If we actually develop all these good habits, what will Griselda, our Wednesday Angel do?  I still struggle mentally with paying someone to clean my home, but she is a blessing to us, and it blesses her life to earn money here to send to her family in the Philippines.  It breaks my heart that she had to leave her husband and four children behind.  I wonder why I was born into better circumstances?  She adores our little people.  We have a long way to go, so maybe in eight short months when we leave here, we won't need a housekeeper any more.
Cambria sits at four months with just a bit of back support.  Saturday we felt her first tooth, and today I felt the next - both on the bottom.  These pictures are with the new camera!!!  I have so much to learn.  I brightened these up a bit with the computer.  On Saturday we went to an air show at another base here in Seoul (pictures will come when Dean returns with his iPhone).  Tristan enjoyed it the most of the boys, as he is enthralled with "ha-panes" and "dot-ters" right now (airplanes and helicopters).  There were as many as 8 fighter planes at a time to watch, and it was a thrill.  Hunter won a 50,000 won (~$42) gift certificate to the Nike store in Itaewon, by charming the announcer calling out raffle ticket numbers. 
 Tristan is my love bug and has been reclaiming my lap of late.  There's plenty of room for them both.  He has developed eczema, so we try not to bathe him as much.  I suspect it is due to milk or wheat, but it is soooo hard to change our whole food life to figure it out, especially when he demands a "gink" from me with those big hazel eyes, and since he tries to live on PBJs and cereal.  He has been in big boy underwear exclusively for a month, and has yet to have an accident away from home or at night, but nearly every day he drops a load at home.

Yesterday was our Primary Program at church, where the kids sing the songs they have been learning all year and each child has a small part.  It was delightful, and we could hear Kyler singing from where we sat in the back.  He has taken that over from Hunter.  Afterward we had a Primary Activity during the normal primary time, with stations about scripture heroes.  Hunter did a station about David, of David and Goliath fame, to fulfill a Faith in God requirement.  While I didn't have enormous responsibilities (as a counselor in the presidency) it is still a load off my mind to have it all behind us now.  I have been filling in as a den leader as well to Hunter's bear den until we can find a real replacement.  I feel like I'm doing a mediocre job (at best) of everything right now. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hot Date

This little lady is the delight of our lives right now.  She is beloved by all.
 Recently, Tristan was menacing Cambria on our bed in the morning, so I told him to get down.  He did, but took a tumble on the way and ended up with a pretty good gash on his forehead near the scalp, that ended up needing stitches.  We haven't needed those since Hunter was a baby and bitten by Pancho.  Tristan was pretty good while they stitched him up in the ER, though he clearly didn't like it, and certainly felt each stitch.  We had planned a lunch date for that day, since Dean had just gotten back from the U.S., so it consisted of Dean picking up some grilled ham n' cheeses from the cafeteria. The staff at the hemophilia clinic were happy to see us again (after the ER), especially Cambria.  

We visited the zoo on Columbus day.  It was surprisingly busy for a Korean work day.  The weather couldn't have been more lovely. 
The highlight for me had to be riding the tram.  It was perfectly peaceful, and they were able accommodate us all, including Cambria in her car seat and a big stroller.

Dean, Kyler and Tristan rode in one seat,
while Hunter, Cambria and I rode in another. The leaves are just starting to turn.  I love the change of colors.
Yesterday we went down to Osan to Ange and Brian's open house at their new love nest.  Their apartment was way cool, like so many Korean apartments.  Since it's on the top floor of their building, it had a loft and an outdoor area.  I would love a loft someday, when I have my dream home.  But that would mean settling down and building something.  Yes, that's my dream.  How many more moves and years stand in the way, I wonder?