|Ross standing on top of the doorway after having just lifted the couch over his head and onto the ledge so they can take it around the corner and put it in through the window!|
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Wednesday night is our Lost night, right? So one of the guys who hosts thought Wednesday night would be the perfect night to move all of his furniture from his old apartment here in Korea to his new one. I have been very entertained watching people move in and out of apartments here. They use these conveyer belts to move furniture and boxes out the windows and doors of upper floor apartments. Well, JJ opted for the cheap route. He hired one guy with a truck to move all of his stuff for him. Basically the guy's only responsibility is to physically drive the stuff from one location to another (for about $100). Because he's in a hurry to get to the next job, though, he helps load and unload the truck, but usually that's about it. This particular guy was very stubborn and extra "helpful". He decided to help the guys move a big wardrobe into the apartment. The problem was it wouldn't fit through the door, and the windows that open all the way were not on the same side as the alley, so he saw the door as the only option. This guy pushed, pulled, and prodded this wardrobe, trying to get it through a doorway it could not physically fit through while the boys loaded a cabinet, a couch, a chair, and multiple boxes through the window. The mover ended up completely destroying JJ's wardrobe and took back out and to his truck in about 20 pieces. Then he had to go find another one to replace it with. What an experience. I am so grateful that it wasn't us! I don't think we'll be moving from one apartment to another here in Korea. It's way too much work!
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Last night Eric and I managed to go out on another date. That's two in two months. My Aunt Shawn will be so proud! A couple of other teachers here (they're actually twin sisters) have been volunteering to babysit basically since we arrived. One of them is new, so we met her in Mississippi, and the other has been here for a year already. Still, because Charissa is new, Esther has spent a lot of time around our group of new teachers, so the kids have gotten to know them both really well. They live near us, so on Wednesday nights when we come home for Bogwongdong, Esther and Charissa usually share a taxi with us (4 is usually the max, but the kids don't count!). Every week the girls joke about taking Cade home with them and this week when they got out of the taxi at the bottom of our hill to walk home, Cade was really upset that he didn't get to go with them. I mean really upset! Thankfully, our taxi driver thought he was so cute that he didn't mind Cade screaming and crying the rest of the way home.
So, on Friday night, we figured we should take them up on their offer, and let the kids go over to their house to play. They were so excited! We didn't bring them any toys to play with, but in typical TCK style (and being watched by a couple of TCKs--the girls grew up as missionary kids), we knew they wouldn't have any problem!
*Speaking of TCKs, as we were walking to dinner (a new route), there was a white kid who walked out of his house with a football. He said hi to us, and immediately passed his football to Eric, telling him to catch. He walked down the street with us for about 5 minutes, playing catch with Eric and talking about his grade, what sports he plays, and what school he goes to. Then he said he had to go and turned around and ran back up the hill. It was a unique experience. Here's a kid who doesn't have a yard to play in or anyone to play American football with, so he picks up a game with the first white guy he sees walking down the road. I wonder how often he does that?*
Eric and I took off for dinner in Itaewon at Chaakra, an Indian restaurant I'd been hearing about since we got here. It's strange, actually. Indian food is something that I have been trying to convince Eric to try ever since we met. I got him to try Thai food on our first date, but it's taken me nearly ten years to get him to try Indian food! We walked in and were greeted by the joys of the fishbowl lifestyle. There was already a group of about six YISS teachers in there having dinner, but I had gotten him this far. I was not about to let him get out of it just because there were people we knew in there. Besides, there isn't a restaurant in Itaewon we could go to without running into someone we know! Five minutes into our dinner, another YISS staff family walked in, but they decided to try their luck and finding a non-YISS inhabited restaurant.
Eric was excited when he found out there was a buffet and even more excited when he learned the price. Fifteen bucks for a buffet in Seoul is a pretty good deal! I'm normally not a buffet person, but I wanted Indian food and if this is how I had to get it, I was willing to go for it. At least this way, I didn't have to try to read the menu. Who knows what language it might have been in!? We had lots of new, spicy foods (samosas, beef vindaloo, curry chicken, mutter aloo, channa masala, saffron rice, tandoori chicken, naan bread...yum!), some good, refreshing salads, and a custard dessert that Eric thought was revolting. Last night, he said he liked the restaurant and we would definitely go back, but I'm not sure if he's still feeling that way today...
After dinner, we went for a walk through Itaewon. We managed to find a store that sells shoes big enough to fit Eric so that he can stop wearing his tennis shoes with holes in them to cross country practice, ended the night with ice cream at Cold Stone (the group that we had dinner with walked in right after we did, of course!), and were even able to get back to get the kids using a new shortcut.
The kids had had a great time with Charissa and Esther and Miranda had even come over to hang out with them, too. They are adored by all of our new friends here, and we are very blessed to have such great friends already!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Yesterday was the first time since our arrival in Seoul that the temperature was below 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). I have to admit that it was quite a shock to my system as somehow I have gotten used to the perpetual 80-90 F degree weather. The weather was warm and comfortable on Saturday while we were on the retreat. On Sunday it cooled considerably and I even wore long sleeves outside in the evening (we experienced real wind for the first time here on Sunday), but it was still surprising how cool it was yesterday morning when we left for school. Even more surprising was the fact that it didn't warm up much throughout the day, and it was still a bit chilly when we went out for our fire drill yesterday afternoon (at least it wasn't raining!). It's back to sun and mid-70s for the rest of the week, so it should be comfortable for us. After weeks and weeks of sweating while just standing still outside (and it's rare that we're actually standing still), we're excited for the cooler weather! Soccer practices in the afternoon heat have been brutal, and since we have another jamboree this weekend, I won't mind the cooler weather on Saturday!
The leaves have begun to fall, Everland was decked out with Halloween decor, and the temperatures are dropping: Fall has arrived in Seoul! We are excited to experience a new season in this new country!
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Another busy weekend for the Carlsons!
Basically since we got on campus in July, I feel like the middle school staff has been making reference to the middle school retreat: their need for volunteers to help plan, to help organize, and of course to help chaperone! So by the time the second or third email came out reminding us to sign up to chaperone, I was starting to feel a little guilty. I asked if we could bring the kids so that we could both go, and the answer was a resounding "yes!". So I signed all four of us up. I really should have done a little more research first!
Remember that staff retreat we went on before school started? The one where families with young kids have complained so much in past years, that they finally gave us the option to go home rather than spend the night? The one where the accommodations are very traditionally Korean? [I just looked back and realized I actually managed to not blog about this event, so you won't remember. Suffice it to say, the accommodations are not deluxe, and that is really all you need to know at this point!] Well, it turned out that the middle school retreat was held in the same location. Had I known this, there's a good chance I would not have signed up!
Regardless, we'd volunteered and we were going to follow through (especially when our middle school chaplain's mom died two weeks before the retreat and he had to go back to the States to be with his family). Those in charge of the planning of the retreat logically decided that we could not have 10 middle schoolers in mine or Eric's care since we have these two little crazy kids with us, so we were able to play flexible support roles. That really worked out in Kennedy's favor when she got invited to her first birthday party by one of her favorite new pals here. Her friend had hand-delivered her "Princess Party" invitation and there was no way I was going to be able to keep Kennedy from that party (even to be one of the stars of the retreat!). So, the kids and I managed to get out of going to the retreat center Friday night. I dropped Kennedy off in her princess attire and took Cade out on a date, just the two of us! Eric, meanwhile, was attempting to sleep in a room with about 10 8th grade boys who did not want to sleep!
Saturday morning, the kids and I got up early, packed our backpack, and walked the mile to the closest subway station. The retreat center is conveniently located on the same subway line that we live on, so we had about a half hour subway ride with 15 minute walks on either end. Not too bad.
Many of the middle schoolers have met our kids because they come to school every Thursday with me for soccer practice, if not more often. They are always a big hit, but they were BIG stars this weekend! Every kid wanted to give them high fives, hugs, or just rub Cade's blond buzz cut! It turned out that neither one of us was too busy with the kids because they had SO many babysitters! Eric had a great time playing basketball and other games with kids, as well as getting to know them better helping out with the small groups. I worked in the Canteen where the kids were able to buy snacks and drinks during their free time.
We had a great time getting to know our students outside of school, but at 7:00 when they still had several hours of planned events going on, we decided that our roles had played out and we took our exhausted kids back home on the subway again. It was a long day, but it was a good one.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Tomorrow is Eric's birthday. So he needs a cake, right?
Within the first week that we arrived, we celebrated a couple of birthdays with friends. We ate dinner out and someone picked up a cake for each of these celebrations. One from Paris Baguette--the bakery that has a location on every street corner--and the other from Cold Stone. In my mind, I thought those both sounded like great options when our birthdays started to come around. I knew they weren't too far out and it continued to sit in the back of my mind as I continued to struggle to find baking tools and ingredients.
On Friday, I went with a friend and her daughter shopping at a couple of new stores. I was finally able to find baking sheets and other supplies. Kennedy was so excited to see muffin pans, cupcake wrappers, and cookie cutters! She wanted one of everything! I told her that for now, we would stick with the necessities: cookie sheets, a bar pan, and cooling racks.
Friday afternoon, a package from Eric's mom arrived with measuring cups, spoons, and vanilla in it. It even had a container of his favorite frosting! I knew that all of these things had worked together just in time for me to try to bake Eric's cake...from scratch.
Many of you know that I am not a baker. I hate to bake. You have to measure things. You have to follow a recipe. It drives me crazy. It's too stressful. If you are missing an ingredient, you can't just substitute or it won't turn out. It's very frustrating for me, but it's not for me.
So, I decided that even with my rudimentary tools and ingredients, I would try to throw together a cake for my husband's birthday.
Step 1: Find a recipe online for an easy white or yellow cake (up to this point, I have only made cakes from mixes--that's right straight out of the box. I'm not saying I'm proud, but it has always turned out!)
Step 2: Determine baking time and temperature for the strangely shaped pan that I bought. (It's not quite square or rectangle and I have no idea what the measurements are, but I gave it a good guess!)
Step 3: Convert 325 degrees F to 161.7 degrees Celcius.
Step 4: Measure flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla into the biggest bowl that I have (appropriate for a small salad).
Step 5: Measure sugar into another mixing bowl (smaller, but it will fit the butter and sugar).
Step 6: Google search on how to measure 2/3 cup of butter from a large 450 gram cube of butter.
Step 7: Get frustrated with the results of the Google search as everyone thinks you are stupid for trying to use "spread" rather than typical American-sized sticks of butter. Give up on this method and pour a glass of wine instead.
Step 8: Determine that in order to correctly measure 2/3 cup butter, I will have to soften the entire cube slowly in the microwave, then scrape off the softened parts and pack into a measuring cup for dry ingredients. Oh so fun.
Step 9: Begin to cream together butter and sugar with a soup spoon.
Step 10: Continue attempt to cream together butter and sugar with a spoon.
Step 11: Hand off to Eric to have continue to cream together butter and sugar. He promptly says, "I think it's done."
Step 12: Add two eggs to butter and sugar. Continue stirring with soup spoon. Easy enough.
Step 13: Begin adding flour and milk to butter mixture. Stir with soup spoon.
Step 14: Continue adding flour and milk to butter mixture. Continue stirring.
Step 15: Pick up arm and re-attach.
Step 16: Continue adding flour and milk to butter mixture. Continue stirring.
Step 17: Continue adding flour and milk to butter mixture. Continue stirring.
Step 18: Now add batter back into larger bowl with remaining flour as the bowl you started in is to small to mix all ingredients together.
Step 19: Continue adding flour and milk to butter mixture. Continue stirring.
Step 20: Pick up arm and re-attach.
Step 21: Continue adding flour and milk to butter mixture. Continue stirring.
Step 22: Continue stirring 1 more minute (the directions say...I say, no thanks!)
Step 23: Butter and flour the cake pan as I have no idea how it's going to work and the last thing I want is this cake stuck in the pan!
Step 24: Pour batter in pan and stick in the oven.
Step 25: Let it burn because I'm so tired I don't want to get up an hour later when it's finally done! (Thankfully, I thought better of this and may have even taken it out at the right time.)
I will admit that it looks pretty good. By the time I was done stirring, the smell of it was enough to make me nauseous. I'm not actually looking forward to eating it. I'm not really a big fan of cake. But that thing is going to get frosted and it will be enjoyed! Whether we like it or not!
Friday, September 9, 2011
This weekend is a HUGE holiday here in Korea--Chuseok. Expats here refer to it as the "Korean Thanksgiving" which basically means they spend days traveling, preparing, and eating food. For us, it means we have two days off of school (every other year it lands in the middle of the week and we get a whole week off from school--although I still end up with a whole week off!). We have learned many things about the practicalities surrounding Chuseok (though nothing of what the tradition behind it is).
One of the first things I learned is from a 6th grader: make sure you do not hang your laundry out to dry with the windows open over Chuseok. In her words, "They're all cooking their smelly Korean food, and your clothes will smell so bad, you'll have to wash them again." Point well taken. Our laundry is done and put away and it's only Friday night.
One guy told me about a month ago that he went to Costco here in Korea the weekend before Chuseok his first year here. He's lived here 3 years and never been back to Costco. Again, point well taken. We will just have to live with our lack of American food (in bulk) until after Chuseok.
Another guy told us that you do not want to try to attempt to travel outside of the city on the 3 days preceding the holiday. The highways are gridlocked like you wouldn't believe. Traffic doesn't even move for hours. On the plus side, he said Seoul empties out and is as close to a ghost town as you will ever see it. I find this very hard to imagine and look forward to what that means!
As my preparation, I have been doing research on places to visit, must-sees in the city, and have planned out a little itinerary for our four days off. Now, I just have to see if my family is game to visit one of the traditional Korean hanoks, Namsongal Village, Everland (an amusement park), and whatever market I can find that is actually open this weekend. And then I have to convince Eric that he actually wants to do something to celebrate his 30th birthday. That'll be the hard part.
Monday, September 5, 2011
I realized that I have been writing a LOT about what goes on with me, and a little about what's been going on with the kids, so I thought I would give an update.
|Kennedy at the international play group|
First off, the potty training is not going too well. We may not be putting enough effort into it, though. I'm not one of those moms who is happy to just take the diaper (or pull up) off and let him pee in his underwear. I just can't deal with the mess, so instead we have to remember to put him on the toilet a lot and we don't always remember! Last week, Cade did poop in the toilet which was very exciting! Unfortunately, it was quickly followed by him peeing and pooping in the shower. We put him on the toilet every time we change his diaper or before we take a shower and he pees in the shower every time! At least it's easy to clean up! Patience is a virtue.
Kennedy has been doing a great job with everything lately! She is a big encourager for Cade with the potty training. She tries to tempt him with stickers if he goes (apparently she remembers that's what she got), and she helped him pick out a special drink at the store last week when he pooped. She has also been helping out with chores around the house. The upside of the short broom is that it is the perfect size for her, so she is learning to sweep. She also volunteers to dry the dishes while Eric washes them after dinner. She is out of her screaming phase, thankfully, and they have both been doing a great job going to bed recently!
|Cade in the bouncy house at school|
|Bouncy house at the picnic|
They also have developed great relationships with the other new teachers here (the ones that we met in Mississippi at PFO). They are all really good with our kids and the kids are really comfortable with them. We hang out together as a group every Wednesday night and have a Bible study...oh wait...we watch Lost, eat cheap pizza, and tell everyone we're having a Bible study. Just kidding! I think for a lot of us, it's the only night we watch TV, so we enjoy the down time and being able to just hang out and relax. The kids enjoy the attention and the fact that they get to watch their own "kid" movie.
All in all, I think they're finally adjusting and it has been a long time since I've heard either one of them say they want to go back home to Stanwood!
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Friday was my first official tough day at school. There was a group of teachers out for a conference on Friday, so the elementary principal asked if I could switch out one of my days and come in on Friday. Then he said that because I was the one being inconvenienced, I could cover the middle school absence and he would have my job share partner cover the elementary absence. I was happy with that. I told my principal that was the plan and I thought that everyone was on board. Things started to look a little fishy when on Thursday night, I had received sub plans for the elementary, but not the middle school. I tried not to worry about it. I didn't sleep well, though.
Friday morning, I got the email from my partner, that our middle school secretary had told her she was covering middle school and I was covering elementary. I'm not sure what happened, but the wires got crossed and now here I was on my day off covering a 4th grade classroom. At this point, I had about 20 minutes to study the plans, find the classroom and keys for it, and figure out what I was going to do with 25 4th graders for the day. I started reading through the plans to find explanations of the reward system (moving clothespins), the system for punishment (moving numbers), and the class reward system (beans). I was in tears...literally.
Give me 100 high school students in band, I'll be fine. I'll take away cell phones and make sure that every kid is paying attention. Give middle school students on the soccer field and I'll make sure they run until they collapse. Give me 25 4th graders and I'm in tears!
Thankfully, I've gotten to know one of the 2nd grade teachers pretty well and her classroom was right next to the one I was in for the day (though I didn't know it when I went to track her down!). She walked me through the plans, told me what everything meant, what I could ignore, and what I would actually be teaching. The class itself was pretty good and while I stumbled through every single routine they have (seriously...line order, student jobs, specials classes...I still can't figure it all out!), we managed, and I survived the day.These kids were so well trained that the same girl kept turning off the lights and locking us out of the room every time we left it!
I don't think too many people found out about my breakdown Friday morning, but they all knew I was out of my element and I am happy to return to middle school today!