Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tangible Evidence

I can't believe another month has gone by! One of my "to do" lists is done by month--I call it my timeline. So, here it is the end of May, and everything that needed to be completed in May has been completed. We finished the wall, the shelving, and the rafters yesterday. (Thank you, Dad!) Today was my "official" last day of work, the kids' last day with Juli, and our last day with the Durango. That closes a chapter on our lives!
Tonight I booked our flights to Seoul (names spelled correctly, everything went through the first time...a much better experience than our last flight-booking debacle!), my contract finally was sent to Seoul, and now it's time to start prepping the second step of our visa acquisition process. We have about 10 days left in the house, and it's starting to look pretty empty. There is now very real, very tangible evidence that in a little more than six weeks, we'll be in Korea!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Three Day Weekend

I love three day weekends!!! With the kids gone with my dad this weekend, we were able to get so much accomplished! Eric was finally able to get up on the roof and clean off the moss, clean out the gutters, and wash the windows. I was able to go through the kids’ rooms (again!) to pack up toys, books, and clothes. I took another big load of stuff to the Goodwill, and I even got the first suitcase packed (only eleven more to go!). Thanks to Eric’s mom we got many of the basics the kids needed. (It’s hard to imagine not being able to shop for them for the next year! I can’t figure out how to pack a year’s worth of clothes for each of them!) Tomorrow we will finish the wall, shelving, and rafters in the garage and then we’ll be ready to start moving furniture out of the house. Two weeks from today, our house will be empty!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My latest struggle

Here’s the question that I keep asking over and over again in my mind…do I do a better job of preparing myself and my family for life in Korea by doing the things that will be different there…lots more walking, lots more rice, limited appliances, limited Starbucks (actually a different diet entirely!), limited clothes, shoes, books, and toys, etc…or do we all just enjoy our last few weeks with the many blessings and culture-related comforts that we know so well?
I’ve decided to enjoy my last few days with two cars because that’s all I have now…four more days! So, do the kids and I get in the habit of making daily (walking) trips to the grocery store to get just enough for the day? If so, we can only do it for two more weeks. A walk to the grocery store from my dad’s would take hours!
It seems there is a fine line between enjoying the here and now and preparing for the next step. What to do?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good news, bad news

I’ll start with the good news…I got so much done in the last two days I can’t even decide which list to start crossing things off of first! I worked for six hours both days (that’s a lot for me lately!). Yesterday I picked up the kids, and then we picked up many of the basic necessities that we need to pack for Seoul. We stocked up on deodorant, ibuprofen, socks, underwear, pajamas, and many others! We got gifts for Kennedy’s teachers (I can’t believe tomorrow is her last day of preschool! L), wrapped them, and then I cut about 200 apple slices and celery sticks for Kennedy’s snack day today (why can’t I be the mom who just brings Handi Snacks?). Today I went home before I picked up the kids and loaded the Durango with some of the big toys that we’re giving to Juli (our childcare provider) to “store” for the next couple of years. After getting home, I finished all of the laundry and was pleased to discover that everything else on my list for today, I accomplished last weekend…woohoo!

Only two pieces of bad news this week…1st) I had just finished the last book of our required reading for PFO when I decided I should check the CD and pen drives that NICS had sent us. I found 12 documents that are all about 75 pages long that we also have to read in the next month…just when I thought I was caught up! 2nd) I had been in communication with several different women about taking care of the kids in Korea. When the time came to set up interviews, I was only able to confirm two of them. The first one we interviewed and that was fine, and the second scheduled a time, but no-showed on Skype and hasn’t responded to my email. Very bad news…

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clutter Clean Out

Why is it that when you are trying to clean out something (or everything in our case) the mess gets so much bigger before it gets smaller?! I have been working on cleaning out our house for nearly two months now and for some reason it doesn’t seem to be any more cleaned out now than it was six weeks ago! We did get a lot accomplished this weekend…we took everything off the walls and that does make the house look a bit bare. We also got the garage completely cleaned out and started officially storing boxes. Now, we just need the wall to go up in the garage to block off our third garage where we will be storing all of our things for the next couple of years. That should be going up this week (right, Dad?)! This week I’ve started the second run-through on cleaning out the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. I’m on the fourth run-through of my closet…it’s strange that every time I look at it I find more items I don’t need to take with me…even more strange is that I’m pretty sure I still need to buy a few tops…and maybe a pair of pants! J

Saturday, May 21, 2011

First Goodbyes

It’s hard to believe that the time has come to say our goodbyes to some. When we tell people that we leave for Seoul July 20th, they say, “Oh, well, you’ve still got some time.” And, while this is true, there are so many steps that we have to go through during the next two months that to us, it feels like no time at all. We have to measure our time left here in small increments: 3 weeks left in the house, 2 weeks at Dad’s before we leave for MS, 2 weeks in MS, 10 days back in WA before we leave for Seoul. When you break it down that way…it doesn’t sound like two months to me!

So, this week we had our first goodbyes. My brother left for Alaska, so we had a great farewell dinner with him and some of his friends. It’s hard to imagine not seeing him for more than two years. At this point, we are not planning on returning to WA until next summer. Since he fishes in Alaska during the summer, he won’t be here when we come home to visit. So, if he doesn’t come visit us in Seoul, we may not see him until we move back home!
We have been so busy planning, packing, and preparing for the future, that we haven’t really thought about how to wrap up and say goodbye to our lives here. It looks like I've got another list to write!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For the love of laundry

I was folding laundry this morning--a job I detest and had been putting off for days hoping that Eric would come home and do it (he prides himself on helping with the laundry by folding it. It happens about twice a month, but I'm not complaining I'll take what I can get!)
As I write this, Cade has decided to pour himself a bowl of cereal. He got the cereal off the counter, got out a bowl, and started pouring. When the bowl got full, he continued to pour all over the floor. Oh well, he'll devour every one and they'll taste that much better because he did it himself!
Anyway...halfway through the laundry I realized that I only have two more weeks of folding laundry and putting it away in dressers in our own house. Then we have about six weeks of living out of suitcases in various places around Washington, the US, and finally, the world! Suddenly, I don't so much mind folding laundry!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TCKs, CCKs, and on and on and on

So, I’m a reader (I know, you already knew that, too). I can read just about anything. I did read a book a few years ago about being a reader. It told me that I don’t have to finish every book I start. There is a certain freedom knowing that I don’t have to finish every novel that I start. So, sometimes I don’t. But, I’m also a teacher. And, as a teacher, when I am given an assignment, it is my duty to complete it.
Well, we were given some assigned reading from NICS. As soon as the books arrived in the mail, I started the first one—the biggest one. It sounded really interesting: Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. It is really interesting, and I know that it’s all information that I am going to want. It applies to me, my kids, and the students I will be teaching in an international school, but I just can’t get into it. I constantly find myself re-reading paragraphs and sometimes entire pages because I get to the end and I realize I didn’t comprehend a word of it. As someone who loves to teach “Advanced Reading” (a speed-reading course), I can’t get over my inability to read this book!! So, I just want all of you to know, that I am trying my best, I am going to complete the book, and in the end it will become a resource for me, but right now I’m getting nothing out of it….

Monday, May 16, 2011

Food Stuffs

The first several years in our house, I was the one in charge of grocery shopping, and I was always trying to build up a small pantry. It drove Eric crazy that instead of buying just the two cans of chicken broth that I needed for the week, I would throw in an extra one “just in case”. About a year ago, he took over the grocery shopping. Strangely, he also started stock-piling. He has managed to completely fill our cabinets in the garage with rice, pasta, sauces, canned vegetables, fruits, and beans! We have been working on cleaning them out ever since we find out we are moving, but I think we’re still going to have chili twice a week for the next month to get rid of all of those kidney beans!! So, if you’re in need of something, stop at our house before you head to the store!
We also learned this week that seasonings can be very difficult to find in Korea, so we are planning on taking some Italian seasonings and Mexican seasonings with us because we tend to rely on those. We also decided that a waffle maker will make life easier for the kids. I don't think they go a week without eating waffles right now, and I think they're going to have a hard time transitioning to rice for breakfast!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Professional Attire

“Please consider that in the Korean culture you can rarely be dressed too nicely, but often you can be underdressed. We would ask that gentlemen bring with them an adequate supply of suits, dress shirts, ties and dress shoes. Ladies would also be wise to bring a few suits and other business professional outfits that are similarly formal to the suiting requested of the men. Both ladies and gentlemen should carefully consider their footwear to be both functional and professional, erring on the side of formality.”

In the last week, we received our handbooks for YISS and have been busy reading, learning new information and getting overwhelmed all over again…the above excerpt from the handbook confirmed all of my fears about packing clothes!! Eric and I had just cleaned out our closets for the garage sale and had planned to store a lot of our dressiest clothing, thinking that because they’re not as versatile, we didn’t want to waste the space. After reading this, we had to pull them all back out! Not only that, but we also both need a few more "professional" articles of clothing! At least we get to go shopping! Because I’m only working half time, I feel like I have to pack two completely different wardrobes, and I don’t know how I’m going to fit everything! We did also learn that they recommend we pack our excess baggage in Rubbermaid totes rather than suitcases, so that should make things a little easier, and they will certainly be more practical once we’ve arrived. I've got a month to get it all figured out...it can be done!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Time Flies!

It’s been a long week…and I feel like I have accomplished nothing! We’ve been really busy and while I know that I must have done something this week, it’s frustrating to not have anything to check off!

Last night I participated in a fashion show for charity and the outfit that I wore sold for $140, so I guess that’s something (but definitely NOT on my list!).

Today, the kids and I had a garage sale, and while we did not make much money, we did get rid of a lot of stuff. By the end of the garage sale tomorrow and after our trip to the Goodwill Sunday, I will feel like something has been accomplished. The garage will be pretty well cleaned out and soon we will be able to get started on preparing the garage for our storage. Then I’ll be able to check a few things off the list!

I also got my contract signed today and feel better knowing that my position is official now! I have interviews scheduled for childcare next week, and I am excited to have that piece taken care of, as well. Things are slowly, but surely, moving forward. It's a good thing because time certainly hasn't slowed! We have to be out of the house in a month!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One step forward, two steps back

Yesterday was a frustrating day…it turned out that the company that I booked our tickets to MS through (a missionary travel agent) had been trying to email us and all of the emails bounced back, so they cancelled our order. I emailed them immediately, but by the time I was trying to re-book the flights, the prices had increased significantly. So, I spent all afternoon trying to find new flights that work with our small windows for arrival and departure time. Needless to say, it did not go well! Every time I found a set of flights that would work and that we could afford, by the time I got through the booking info, the flight was full! So frustrating! By 9:00, I was done and let Eric take over. He was finally able to get all the way through the booking and reserve the flights and when I went through everything and double-checked, I realized that in his haste he had left the “a” off the end of my name! So, he got to stay up for a few more hours making phone calls to the booking agent and the airlines, ensuring that my name is spelled correctly (you know—it has to look exactly like your passport or they won’t let you through security!). What a hassle!

Lucky for him, he had things to do while he waited for the airlines to process the information…we got our first official email from the YISS HR department. Apparently, they wait to contact us until our NICS paperwork is done, but they waited a little too long…they needed us to scan and email all of our documents to them before we mailed all of the originals to NICS…but, of course, we put all of our originals in the mail over a week ago! We had, of course, scanned most of the documents anyway before we put them in the mail in case anything were to happen. So, at the end of a long day, he got to email all of those documents to Seoul!

Needless to say, I did not get anything on my list done yesterday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!

What an awesome Mothers Day weekend!! We got a few things accomplished around the house and spent some quality family time. We got the house ready today for it's first showing and then went down to Seattle to enjoy our first Korean food. By the time we were halfway there, our property manager had called to let us know that the people who came to look at the house brought the check for the deposit with them and would let her know by Monday whether they want a one or a two year lease! Praise God that after one showing, we are done! Now I guess I'd better tell my dad that we're moving in with him a couple weeks sooner than originally planned!

Our Korean food was great! We went to Korean BBQ Grill in Shoreline with my brother and had pork Bulgogi, beef bibimbop, and of course rice and kimchi in addition to the other small side dishes that are a part of any Korean meal. It was delicious! We definitely will not starve in Korea, though Eric may not be able to consume the large portions that he's used to because the chopsticks slow him down!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pre-Field Orientation

Today I booked our first set of flights! We'll spend 2 weeks in Mississippi at the end of June for PFO as our preparation for entering the world of a missionary and expatriate. We have a narrow window for arrival and departure in Mississippi because we are staying with a host family while we are there, so we fly out of Seattle at 6 am in order to fly into Memphis by 3 pm. It will be the kids' first flights, so we are a bit nervous about how that will go, but we're glad that we have to do this "trial run" before we take the 12 hour flight to Seoul a couple of weeks later. I feel very blessed that we ended up having this experience with an organization like NICS to back us up. It is comforting to know that while there will be many surprises and stresses when learning to live in this new culture, at least we will have resources fall back on, in addition to all that we will have learned about the third culture kids (TCKs) that we will be teaching.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Roller Coaster

We received some disappointing news last night...we had decided that if we were to move overseas, Kennedy would begin Kindergarten this year instead of next year. Last night, we found out that she misses the deadline for Kindergarten by 6 hours! Apparently, the school's cutoff date of September 30th is very strict and they can't do anything to help us out...so, now we need to find childcare for 2 kids! It was tough to hear, but it's not as if she's going to fall behind; she'll just get to be home-schooled!

Having nearly all of the other huge stressors starting to fall into place, we'd been feeling a bit anxious about not having any bites on the house. This afternoon our property manager emailed us letting us know that she's had several calls about the house, but they were all looking for something available a little sooner. We decided we could probably make the house available June 15th, and about 5 minutes after we let her know, we received the first application! Whirlwind!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

to do lists

So, I am a "to do" list type of person (I know, you already knew that!). The problem with to do lists is that some days I feel limited by my list (in that, I simply won't do it today because it's not on my list), and other days I can't possibly accomplish everything on my list. I'm starting to get the hang of typed to do lists, though. The awesome thing about a typed to do list is that you can "strikethrough" everything that you have completed and you can simply highlight and drag anything you did not complete to a different day. That way, you know that everything will be completed by the end of the week, and you don't have to feel guilty for not finishing everything on your list in a particular day because there's always tomorrow!
And, I just want you to know that today is Sunday, the end of my week...the only thing on my list today was to go to Ellensburg (one of our "fun things to do" before we leave WA--which means I get to cross it off a list!)...and I did it!
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