Saturday, September 14, 2013

Adventures in Mold & Maui

This weekend feels like the first time that we've been able to relax at home since school started. Soccer practice was cancelled Friday afternoon because of the thunderstorms. Baseball was cancelled Saturday morning as a result of the ongoing thunderstorms all night long. We. had. nothing. going. on. for one day and it was awesome! Eric is playing with his Sunday team since his game on Saturday was cancelled, and Cade has been throwing up for the past twelve hours, but other than that things are good around here. We're looking forward to a very short week and hoping that we can all be healthy when we return from Chuseok Break.

Sure, we have plenty to do here at home. But catching up on laundry (that's taking two or three days to dry because of the moist air!), cleaning the house, and catching up on grading are things I can handle when we actually have a day to do it!

We still haven't quite caught up on everything. We have yet to go out for our anniversary and our celebration for Eric's birthday consisted of our typical Wednesday night dinner with friends, except that Cade and I trekked into Itaewon in the rain to pick up a cake from Baskin Robbins, too. So, last night we went out to On the Border, our favorite Mexican restaurant, to celebrate Eric's birthday. The rain had finally stopped and it is a fairly easy trek via subway to the newest one at IFC Mall. Only one transfer and a straight shot from the station to the mall sounds easier than figuring out how to drive and park, so we went with public transportation. It felt strange for me simply because I haven't been on the subway since we arrived back this year.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons that we don't have much going on this weekend is because I skipped out on the high school retreat. So, there aren't any high school students around to babysit for us. We'll just have to put off a date for a bit longer, I guess. We're a month late as it is, what's a few more days?!

A few weeks ago, Eric looked at me and said, "You know what topic you should cover on the blog? Mold." Of course, I just kind of laughed and asked why on Earth I would want to write about mold. But, he seemed to think it would be a topic of interest and since he hasn't suggested a topic for the blog in about 18 months, I figured I had better oblige him.

First of all, mold just seems to be a part of life in Korea. And again, having never lived outside of western Washington, it isn't something we're accustomed to. Sure, the Pacific Northwest is wet, but it's very rarely hot and wet at the same time. Summertime in Seoul means that it is hot and wet. All. the. time.

Before we leave for the summer, we put any food that has even the slightest chance of growing mold into the refrigerator or freezer. Of course, we try to just eat everything before we leave. We don't go to Costco for about the last six to eight weeks. We stop buying groceries (except milk) for about the last two weeks, unless it's something very specific. Honestly, I kind of enjoy the challenge of figuring out ways to eat everything.

Then we load the freezer with the flour, sugar, and spices. Chocolate chips, brownie mixes, other baking supplies, and anything jarred goes into the refrigerator. Items like dried pasta and canned foods I bring in from our pantry and put into the kitchen cabinets. Anything to avoid foreign growth. It's become quite the routine.

When we arrive back here in mid-July, humidity levels are high. In spite of my preparations, we usually arrive to some sort of mold. This year, we were irritated that many of our appliances had grown mold on the outside of them--our rice cooker, coffee grinder, and waffle maker. Thankfully, nothing was on the inside and they were fairly easy (for Eric) to clean up. The food was still in good condition.

Others were not so lucky. Our neighbors, arrived home late and were ready for bed. When they pulled back the sheets, they discovered that their bed and pillows were covered in mold. Is there anything worse? I can't imagine being jet-lagged, tired, ready for bed and discovering mold. Horrific!

To make matters worse, when they arrived at school--to their brand new, purpose-built band classrooms, they discovered that there had been no air circulation in the room over the summer and the entire room, including the students' instruments were covered in mold. Can you imagine?

The food is a constant. We have to keep all of our bread products in the fridge or they will grow mold overnight (this is year-round). Vegetables grow mold in record time. I didn't even know that carrots could grow mold, but after a few days in our fridge, they do. Every fruit we buy grows mold in a couple of days. Even the apples grow it from the inside out. It's really quite frustrating. We can only buy enough food for two or three days before it goes bad.

Other, little things continue. The bathroom (even the floors) can grow mold overnight if it's too warm and someone takes a shower in the evening. The clothes can grow mold because sometimes it seems that they just won't dry. One of Kennedy's white polos was ruined early this school year because it was put away before it dried all the way. Irritating. When I pulled out our suitcases for the staff retreat a couple of weeks ago, they were all covered in mold. That was a new one. Thankfully, I was working ahead, so I had an extra day to clean them with a vinegar solution and let them dry before I had to start packing.

I'm not sure why he wanted me to share our adventures in mold with the rest of the world. Maybe so that you can appreciate life without mold? Maybe he didn't want us to forget that this is one of the many joys of living in Korea. Maybe so that you know that we all have our little challenges. At any rate, now you know. Mold sucks, but we're learning to battle it.

These pictures were from our little trek through the jungle in Maui. Evan and Jen hadn't tried any kid-friendly hikes, so we weren't exactly sure where we were headed. But, after a little trouble finding the trailhead, we had a nice walk through the trees. There were mountains, a bridge, a stream and large rocks, and a beautiful clearing. All of the makings of a good hike through the jungle!

The kids enjoyed the freedom of this trail (because we never really knew where we were going) and the fact that there was relatively no danger, so they could run, jump, and pass everyone without any consequences (like falling off the side of a mountain).

Afterwards, we wandered through the bamboo path, checked out the koi pond, and the Japanese gardens (though this building looks more like a Korean hanok than a Japanese pagoda). Unfortunately, I've already forgotten a lot of details from our trip to Hawaii, so it's a good thing I have a comprehensive record in pictures!

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