Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August in Seoul & Sauk Mountain

It's Wednesday (I know. Someone confirmed it for me when I was pretty sure it was only Tuesday.) It's a busy week, and I'm not feeling very deep, so this will be full of random thoughts, no doubt.

Today, Cade came home from school and told me that he had to go to "the office." I tried asking more questions. He ended up telling me, "I did something bad." He wouldn't elaborate more than that. That's pretty much been his M.O. this year, though.

When I ask him a question, he will not give me the answer I want to hear. "Cade, did you have a good day?" (pouty face) "No," is his reply. Thankfully, every once in a while, he'll volunteer something. Yesterday I asked him which one of his teacher's washed his lunch box for him. He didn't answer that question, but he did tell me that "teacher Sumi" was gone and that he missed her. So, that's a good sign!

In the past week, the humidity has dropped considerably, which is such a relief. Eighty-eight degrees seems so much more pleasant when the humidity is not 100%. I was finally able to straighten my hair for the first time since we'd left Washington (though I'm so lazy on vacation that I rarely did it there!). Little things like this excite me right now.

Speaking of excitement, Eric is finally starting to feel better, and he is able to return to school this week. He saw the doctor on Monday and the pneumonia was 90% gone. He has another week of antibiotics and he still isn't feeling 100%, but it's very exciting for me to be able to get back to our routine. Taking Kennedy to school was far more traffic than I wanted to deal with on a daily basis.

The temperature has actually dropped just a bit, as well. Last night, we were able to sleep with the doors open and just the fan on, instead of using air conditioning all night. This is something to be excited about! Evening temperatures dropping into the low 70s and daytime temperatures dropping into the low 80s. Woot.

I am really looking forward to fall. It is beautiful here, even if we don't have the regular fall stuff--pumpkins, sweaters, and Halloween. The temperatures are always very mild; you can finally put on a light sweater without sweating. The leaves turn (though not until about November), and you can find squash (it's like a pumpkin, right?).

But with fall comes the fear of winter. And winter is soooo long here. So, while I'm excited that temperatures have dropped a bit, I keep wondering how my little routine (which seems so easy right now) will look in the wintertime. When the roads are covered in ice. The car is frozen. And I get to stand outside twice a day waiting for Cade's school bus in sub-freezing temperatures. Gotta focus on the present. 

In a lot of ways, I feel that our transitions this year have gone well. Yes, that first week of school was stressful. Yes, Cade has suffered more than any of the rest of us. But the hardest part for me has been what my students call a "first world problem." It's the fact that the laundry and cleaning is up to us again. I know. You feel really sorry for me, right? But I know what I'm missing and you don't!

This week we have Kennedy's open house and soccer practices began for me twice a week. We have our staff retreat this weekend. So, we actually have only a four day work week next week with the high school and middle school open houses and Kennedy will start swim lessons in the afternoon. Next week will be busy, too!

We're excited to get out of the city this weekend and spend a few days at the beach. The weather should be beautiful. We are going to the same place that we went last year, so it's nice to know what to expect. The kids are really excited to spend a few days with friends, just relaxing and playing in the sand.

These pictures are from our last hike before we left Washington. My dad had been wanting to head up to Sauk Mountain, which is just off Highway 20 past Concrete. He'd been watching for a clear afternoon, and the weather had been looking good. We really only had one night that worked for us, though, since it was our last week on the mainland.

So, in spite of the fact that there were clouds we headed up and the rain clouds did result in some pretty skies, although we missed the sunset from the summit. I had intended to dump all of the pictures in just this one post, but I couldn't narrow them, so I'm going to just leave you with these. There will be more to come when I find the time!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Boys Will Be Boys

Well, we made it through the week. No surprise, I guess. We always do. The surprise is that it actually wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Yes, I worked way too many hours, but it was the most convenient way for me to pick and drop off Kennedy. It's not as if I couldn't use the time productively. There's always something to do--or several somethings, more realistically.

I don't think that it was quite as difficult for Eric as he thought it was going to be, either. Every afternoon, he mentioned how quickly the day went by and how "he just didn't have time" to get everything done. 

Though I teased him about the dishes or the laundry, it's good to know that I'm not the only that feels that way. My expectations for what I can get done in a day (or a class period) are always way off the mark.

As you can see, he spent his time productively. (she says sarcastically.)

As I mentioned, Cade had an impromptu day off on Friday (something about a summer camp?), so Eric promised that they would spend the day building a Lego city.

Evidently, Eric felt the need to prepare for their "Lego day" by himself on Thursday. So, Daddy got to spend two entire days building Legos. Rough life.

And then, of course, I got recruited to take pictures of said Lego city.

As you can see, he's feeling better. He'll be back to school on Monday. And the Legos will be back to their dismantled form soon, too.
"Boys will be boys, and so will a lot of middle-aged men." --Kin Hubbard

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Life's a Beach

Well, so much for getting back into the routine.

Eric made it to school yesterday, and then he made a doctor's appointment for right after school.

He hadn't been at the doctor very long before they determined that he has pneumonia again.

So, he sat there for an hour with an IV in his arm. His fever didn't go down at all, but they sent him home, anyway. With a bag of pills and orders to stay home for a week. A full week.

He is not pleased, of course. A week is a long time for him to be home from school, considering most years he doesn't take even one day off.

My routine looks very different, as a result. I will be getting up early to take Kennedy to school. Then coming home to drop Cade off at the bus before I head back to school.

In the afternoon, I will pick up Kennedy and Eric will have to brave the hill to pick up Cade. Cade came home with a note yesterday informing us that he does not have school on Friday, so I'm thankful that God's timing worked out on this one.

It's only been a few weeks since we were at the beach and starting to feel ready to come home to our own apartment again. But right now, looking at these pictures, I think a trip to the beach sounds pretty good.

We spent a few hours at Camano Island State Park one afternoon as we drove north again. There were times when it felt that the only time we spent just the four of us was in the car, so we got to the point where we would stop and take advantage of a nice afternoon as a family. This is still one of our favorite parks in the world--it reminds us of home!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Year Three & Wallace Falls

Year three. Sometimes it's hard to believe that we are embarking on year three here in Korea. Sometimes it's hard to believe how far we've come since we first arrived. I remember having no idea what to cook in those first few days, weeks, and months. We ate more stir fries in that first year than I had eaten throughout my entire life, I think. Thankfully, those days are over.

I remember the first time I got sick here. I was certain that it was Korea's fault. And I had no idea what to do. I didn't have cold and flu medicine, or even cough drops. Our bed was so uncomfortable to me still that I couldn't lay in it. I was miserable and ready to go home.

Of course, being sick now is no less miserable than it was two years ago, but at least I can realize now that it isn't Korea's fault. We will get sick regardless of where we live, what job we do, and how comfortable we are. We even get sick on vacation.

The new idea that has struck me lately is that fact that after two years here, it is no longer an adventure. It's just our lives. In some ways, I have felt that we were "on hold." That this part of our lives or that part of our lives would resume as normal when we return to the States. That this stage in our lives is just some sort of intermission.

I can't say that I've felt that we have been on vacation. Thankfully, in our daily lives I still discipline my children, so they don't run around like maniacs. I still work and cook and do the laundry (well, that last one I haven't had to worry about too much until this year). But, I've just had this impression that everything was supposed to be an adventure. Using public transportation was part of the adventure. Exploring the city was part of the adventure. After two years, I'm starting to realize that the "adventure" part is over. Now, it's life.

Maybe it's the fact that we bought a car--although I think we bought a car because two years of "adventurous" public transportation was enough! Maybe it's the fact that we no longer leave the house on weekends in search of new things to do. We go through our baseball routine on Saturdays and our church routine on Sundays. Even when I'm inspired to go someplace new, we don't.

I'm not complaining, though. I think it's a good thing. We're here. Our home. In Korea. Living life. Not an adventure, just life. And it's good. For the most part.

This week we officially got back into the routine of real life. Cade was much happier going to school this week when everyone else was going or already gone. I think he may always be one of those kids that isn't excited about going to school every day, but who can blame him? Once they realize that it's a lot of work and not a lot of play, a lot of kids struggle with that.

After Kennedy's first day, she had a great week at school, too. She really likes her teacher and she's getting to know the many new kids in her class. Her teacher said she had a great week when I ran into her on Friday afternoon.

As I mentioned, Eric hasn't been feeling well this week. He's had a fever and developed the cough and runny nose that the rest of us have had the last few weeks. He managed to make it through the week at school and even went to his baseball game on Saturday, though he didn't pitch. It may have been the first time that I've seen him play without running at all. He's hoping to get to the doctor tomorrow to figure out what he has.

As for me, I was just relieved to see how the routine for this year would play out. I am still working part time, so that I can be with Cade in the mornings and afternoons. I drop him off at the bus and then go to school. I teach two classes with about an hour on either end for prep and to work with students. Then, I head home to pick him up. Eric and Kennedy get home about an hour and a half later. So far it's working out really well, so I'm pleased.

Friday evening was our Back to School picnic. We were all pretty exhausted by then, though we only had three and a half days of school this week. Also, our soccer field is under construction this fall, so it wasn't quite as exciting as it normally is--fewer activities for the kids and fewer food options. Nonetheless, it was a nice evening and the weather even cooled off a bit for us!

These pictures were taken back in Washington. About a week before we left WA, we went for a hike at Wallace Falls off of Highway 2 just past Sultan. Eric and I had tried this hike a few times, unsuccessfully for one reason or another. Our original plan had to been to venture out there on a weekday because it gets really busy on the weekends (by WA standards, not Seoul standards of course).

But, that didn't work out, so there were a lot of people on the trail with us. We went with Eric's aunt and uncle, cousin, and mom. We only hiked up to the lower falls because not everyone in our group was feeling one hundred percent and we had time constraints to work under. I think it worked out pretty well.

Most of the hike is in the shade, which we were grateful for, because it was hot that day. The views are pretty incredible. I was experimenting with shooting moving water, among other things, this summer after getting my new lens and reading Understanding Exposure. 

I did struggle with remembering to re-adjust my settings with the many changes in light, though. Since the only picture that I got of my two kids together was blurry, I was a bit frustrated. I'm still learning, obviously.

Sometimes I wonder if we will enjoy western Washington as much when we move back to it as we do now when we visit it. Is that our adventure?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Week of School

Our new routines were interrupted this week for Korean Liberation Day, which is typical of our first week back to school. No one complains about a break, as we try to get back on track in the new school year! Two years ago, we were adventurous. Last year, we relaxed after having gone out for our anniversary the night before. This year, we're recovering from sickness, working in preparation for tomorrow, and playing. We only have one more day of school left in our first week!

Eric still hasn't been feeling great, so our anniversary celebration last night consisted of leftovers (I wasn't about to cook a meal that no one was going to eat again!), an episode of "Go On," and me eating ice cream by myself. Don't worry, he'll make it up to me!

A couple of Cade-isms lately while I'm thinking about them...

Me: "Cade, that's disgusting."
Cade: "Mom, why do you say that everything I do is disgusting?"
Me: (mom guilt) "Sorry, Cade. I'll work on that."
Cade: (seconds later) playing on the plunger like it's a pogo stick
Me: (screams in horror) "Cade that is DISGUSTING!!" (seconds later) "I'm sorry, but this really is disgusting."

Cade turns on the soundtrack to The Lion King again. Cade changes into his "dancing clothes." Cade cleans up all of the Legos, so that he has room to dance. Cade brings out a large box of toys.
Me: "Cade, I thought you cleaned up, so that you could dance."
Cade: "No, I'm going to play with cars because I'm a boy."
I'm glad he's got his gender roles down.

And, just because I've been thinking about it lately, and I'm worried that now that he is in school Cade's created vocabulary will start to dissipate and I don't want to forget these. A small-ish amount of something: a junk. A very small amount of something: a teent.

I think I mentioned last time that the kids went out to the cabin one last time with Gretchen for a few days not long before we left. After we had finished all of our kid-free tasks, we headed over to spend the night. I had dinner with a friend on the water in Coupeville, and I caught the sunset there before heading back down and taking one last shot of the beach at the cabin.
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