Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lessons learned from Day 1 of domestic travel:

1.       Sleeping child in the car and airport = awake child on 1 am 4 hour flight. Bad news. Good news is that awake 4 year old is a bigger help than we would have thought carrying bags through airport.

2.       Car seat for a 2 year old on the plane is more work than it's worth. Just check it. If he wants to sleep, he will find a way.

3.       Help out the other parents you see struggling. Five minutes later they will be helping you.

4.       Do not pack so many toys in your child's backpack that she cannot carry it. She won't play with them anyway.

5.       Less is more. Check the bags you don't NEED on the plane. It's worth the money!

6.       The child that sleeps on the first flight won’t sleep on the second one. The child that stayed awake on the first flight won’t make it through takeoff on the second one.  Neither child will sleep in the airport.

7.       Don't make any plans or have any expectations. It will not turn out the way you'd thought.

8.       Have some fun!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Goodnight and Goodbye

Grandpa with a sleeping Kennedy
We have had a very busy and very fun last week! Last weekend, Eric's mom threw a nice party in our honor in Tacoma for the Carlson side of the family. Then we spent some quality time with family (and packing again!) throughout the week. This weekend, I had dinner with a group of women from work to say goodbye and last night we had a great party for my aunt's birthday where we were able to say goodbye to several others we won't see in July. Tonight we leave for Mississippi for PFO. The flights alone will be an experience, but we're looking forward to being in one place for almost two whole weeks!

Eric with the birthday girl!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Living in a Techno World

We're living in such a time of modern technology! And, I have to say I'm a bit relieved that we won't have to learn to live without our technology in Seoul. We now have laptops, iPods, an iPad, and a Kindle. We can email, Skype, FaceTime. Our kids know how to operate the iPods and iPad. They can watch movies, play games, and color. Kennedy works on her letters and numbers and Cade learns about zoo animals. We're not packing any books for Eric and I because we just use eReaders. We're not packing a TV or DVD player because we'll just use the laptop to watch tv and movies. Seoul has one of the fastest Internet infrastructures in the world, so we should be set. And, according to the girl at the Apple store, there is Wi-Fi everywhere there (though she has never been there, she is an expert!), which is good news because we recently learned that we have to have our Alien Registration Card in order to get our Internet set up in our apartment, so it may be a couple of weeks before we have that. We are planning (at this point) to use Skype and FaceTime (for those Mac users), and of course the blog as our primary means of communication. We'll try to post updates on Facebook too for those of you who are FB addicts! Email will also play a big part as it will be hard to be available on Skype all the time. It is amazing that we will still be able to see our relatives and talk to them face to face even from around the world! We’re sure going to miss those hugs, though!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Check and check!

Visas….in progress
House packed….check
House cleaned out for renters….check
Tried Korean food….check
Learn Korean language….in progress
Deodorant stocked up on….check
Suits purchased….in progress
Nanny hired...check
Trip to Mississippi for PFO….scheduled
Suitcases packed….in progress
Tearful goodbyes….scheduled
It's hard to believe how close we are! Five more days until we leave for Mississippi, two weeks in MS, then ten days back in Washington before we leave for Seoul! Can't believe it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Transition to Seoul

I'm so grateful that YISS has this whole transition thing figured out, and that we are not the first to do this! One of the manuals that they gave us has immense amount of information in it about basic things like how to read the dial on the washer in order to wash our clothes and where the closest ATMs are located. That is also where we learned that there will be no less than 3 staff members from YISS meeting us at the airport and escorting us to our hotel. They will provide a vehicle for our luggage-all 13 bags-but we have to use the public transportation system to reach the hotel, so that we can learn how it works. They have found that it is best for us to stay in a hotel for the first 3 days while we get acquainted with the city and our apartment, and gather a few of the basics to make our house a home. We will be escorted to stores, the bank, the hospital, and through the process of our getting our Alien Registration Cards. Essentially, we won't be left alone for the first 3 days! (Hope we like our escorts!) I'm so grateful that we'll have that support, though, because I think with the jet lag, we may not even leave the hotel room otherwise!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


We’re officially traveling nomads now! Friday afternoon we attempted to make it down to the Korean Consulate to complete the visa process on the way down to Eric’s mom’s house. Our attempt was unsuccessful because there was too much traffic, but we made it down to Lacey by about 8:00. Saturday we made the rounds with the Carlson family and had a wonderful party to say goodbye to everyone. Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day by going to the Rainiers game in Tacoma which was a lot of fun, as well. The weather wasn’t great, and the Rainiers lost, but we had a great time anyway! We headed north again to spend another night at Dad’s house for Eric’s last day of school tomorrow. Tuesday we’ll get a few more minor things checked of the list, say a few more goodbyes, and head back to the Korean Consulate and back to Eric’s mom’s house again. Thursday we’ll travel north again to pack our luggage for Mississippi and finalize our Seoul luggage. Over the weekend we’ll be somewhere in the middle (at my aunt’s house) for a couple more gatherings and goodbyes. Sunday night we fly out for Mississippi. I think it will be a relief to finally be staying in one place for two weeks…and to not be responsible for our own itinerary, cooking, or travel…it might even be relaxing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Found a Nanny!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! We found a nanny!! We felt like the woman that we interviewed last month would work, but she was not our best option. So we left the ad on Craigslist and let her know that we were keeping our options open. Last week a woman replied to my ad and even supplied several email addresses for references. I emailed her references early this week, and all three of them had raves for her! We were so excited, we wanted to offer her the job without even speaking to her! Tonight we talked with her on Skype, and she is so sweet and so excited to take care of our kids! She has raised five kids of her own in addition to the children that she has nannied for the past several years in Seoul. She and her family have been in Seoul for the past eight years and plan to be there for the next four years before returning to the Philippines. She had to quit her last full time job (12 hour days) because of the high stress level, so we're hoping that part-time work is exactly what she's looking for!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some Things Never Change

We finished cleaning the house yesterday. Today I dropped off a couple more things to store. The renters move in tomorrow. What a relief! One huge thing checked off the list! In the meantime, we are settling into Dad’s house. Yesterday, I baked a loaf of bread and made a quiche. Today, I baked cornbread muffins and monster cookies, and we had a play date. I certainly never thought that I would be living in this house again. The last time I lived here, it was my mom’s house, but for the past several years it’s been my dad’s. The integrity of the house is the same, but some things are very different. It feels weird sleeping in my dad’s bed in my old room. But the bathroom is exactly the same. I sweep the kitchen floor and I hear my dad reminding me to sweep under the desk, but he’s not here. He told me before he left on Sunday that you have to put the silverware upside down in the dishwasher. It’s a good thing he told me; I never would’ve dreamed of doing that. I always got in trouble for that when I was a kid! Now, it’s my kids sleeping in the bedrooms and playing with my old toys. I’m the one asking them to clear their dishes and clean up their toys. It’s strange how some things change and some things stay the same…

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving Weekend

The kids had a great time playing!
We are all exhausted!! It's a relief to have the moving done. Our neighbor, Luba, did an awesome job playing with our kids, Michael was a huge help with the heavy lifting, my dad provided the trailer and lots of advice, and Lindy did an awesome job cleaning the entire kitchen! We're so grateful for our family! We almost finished the cleaning today, but we'll have to finish last minute stuff after Eric gets home from school the next two days. The kids were too tired and cranky to hang out while we worked (the adults were spry and chipper...not!). This week should be a bit more relaxing than the last couple of weeks have been (although somehow I doubt it will be!). We have completely taken over my dad's house, so it's a good thing he won't be here until after we leave! What a crazy life!
Room to spare!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Movin' on up...or out...

I spent the day packing up the kitchen. It feels real now. Our last night in the house. I keep trying to compartmentalize. It’s not as if we’re the first to move out of our house. Or pack. Or store our things. We’re not even the first to move out of the country. Or to Korea. But it’s a big deal to us…our last night in the house we still own and will come back to in two or three years. Our last night of life as we know it. Even though we have several weeks ahead of us before we leave for Korea, this is our first big step on the way there. Life for us will never be the same!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Packing and Re-packing

I will be SO relieved to be done packing, moving, and cleaning!! I have now packed 10 of our 12 suitcases, and I’m hoping I can keep those last two empty since we still have a few more things to get for the trip! All we have left is the rest of the furniture, the kitchen, and all of the little things that seem to show up just when you think you’ve cleaned out a room! The part I’m really dreading is the cleaning…I feel like I’m moving out of an apartment and want to get my deposit back, but really I’m moving out of my own house and I want to make sure that I can keep their deposit if the house isn’t as clean as it was when they moved in!!

The other part that I’m not looking forward to is packing, re-packing, packing, and re-packing our suitcases. Of course we’re putting all of our things into our suitcases to move to my dad’s, but then we spend the weekend in Olympia and we’ll only bring one or two suitcases. Then we come back up north for a few days, then south again for a few days, and then somewhere in the middle right before we leave for Mississippi (another packing venture!). I will be glad when all 12 of our suitcases are in their final stages of packing for Korea! That is only five weeks away!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Annyong haseyo

In our "spare time" (this doesn't really exist, but sometimes it feels good to put your feet up!), we have been working on learning the Korean language. We started in April when we checked out a Korean language program from the library (CDs and a workbook), and thought we could listen to the CDs in the car and learn a few words. Eric followed along in the workbook while I drove. The WORST way to learn the language it turns out! We probably learned about 100 new words in about a half hour, which means that we learned one new word--the first word on the CD. Hello = annyong haseyo. Needless to say, we did not continue this method! We learned a few words when we went out for Korean food including thank you = kam-sa-ham-ni-da, rice = bap, and beer = maekchu. Eric’s students have been teaching him several words each day, and he has been coming home and teaching the kids (though I don’t know that I’ve learned any of them yet!). Kennedy regularly tells me that she needs to go to the hwajangshil (bathroom).

Personally, I have been working hard on learning Hangul (the Korean alphabet). Thankfully, it’s turned out to be easier than I thought to read the characters. I have learned all of the letters (I just have the vowel digraphs to go!) and most importantly, I learned that each character is actually a syllable usually made up of two or three letters. Of course, I still have to learn the actual Korean words, but I’m learning to read American-ized Korean words (for instance taxi = t-aek-shi and hotel = hot-el). Check out the site on the right if you want to learn more!

We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re making progress!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Our Last Weekend in the House

Running in the sprinkler!
We really enjoyed our last weekend in our own house! Yesterday we managed to get a lot done and have a little fun, as well! We moved a few pieces of furniture out of the house and packed four more suitcases, leaving just the clothes we'll need for the next week in the house.

Deception Pass
Today we played hooky from church and took full advantage of the beautiful day we had by going to Whidbey Island for a birthday party and to play at the beach at Deception Pass. I think that after all of the changes we made to the house yesterday, it is pretty clear to the kids that we won't be in it much longer, so I think it was good for them to be out of the house today. It will be a long week of packing, painting, and cleaning. With any luck, our move will be as anti-climactic as our trip to the health department!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Travel Immunizations

Today we got our travel immunizations. We can now safely travel to Korea! It was a bit anti-climactic I have to admit. Apparently, Seoul is far too civilized for us to get any exciting shots! The kids are all up to date on their shots, so Eric and I just had to have the standard Hep A and Tetanus shots…how boring! In fact, the hardest part of the entire experience was tracking down Eric’s childhood vaccination record and actually receiving it in time. I managed to get mine and the kids’ a few weeks ago, but Eric got a different story every time he called Group Health. Yesterday, he finally got someone to agree to fax it to him, and shortly before the appointment, he finally received it!

It was a relief to hear that we don’t have many health concerns while we’re there, though (other than malaria in the DMZ—we don’t plan to spend much time there!). We got a few more of the essentials that we need for the trip afterward (a few more things to cross off the list!) and the kids and I enjoyed finally getting out of the house after a few days!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

To my readers...

I am brand new to this whole blogging thing. It took me a couple of weeks to get the whole thing put together, and I keep learning new things and changing the layout and content a bit. While it didn’t take me long to get in a routine of writing (and I never struggle coming up with topics!), I’m not sure that I’ve developed my voice yet, either. I struggle with how formal or informal my writing should be. I go back and forth between using digits and writing out numbers, I drive myself crazy when I use words like “things” and “like”, and I use parentheses far more than any other normal person! But I really enjoy this outlet, and even though I’m a little embarrassed that I’m a “blogger” (especially when someone is reading my blog when I’m in the room…come on guys!), I’m glad that I have a way to express my thoughts, concerns, and triumphs to a group of readers that must be interested…or they wouldn’t be reading it, right?

It has been hard to get used to the lack of immediate feedback, though. I am not a long-time Facebook user, nor do I routinely post on FB, but when I do, I enjoy the immediate comments and “likes”. The interesting thing about this blog is that I do not get any feedback, so sometimes I feel like no one is reading what I’m writing (even though I know I have a few loyal readers!) and that allows me to be very candid and “put myself out there”. I did add the “reactions” feature, so that if you so choose, you can anonymously give me an idea that you’ve read a post and had a reaction to it. (They won’t let me choose more than four reaction types, though! Sorry!) I can also track the statistics on the site including how many views it gets each day, week, month, what keyword searches are used, and what countries my readers are in (the US of course, Argentina, Malaysia, South Korea, Germany and India in order of readership). I don’t know how you found it, or why you keep reading it, but I’m glad you do! Feel free to comment sometime and let me know what you’re thinking! It’s very liberating!
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