Sunday, October 16, 2016

In Texas


I got caught up. Just for a minute.

It's the weirdest feeling. In fact, I barely remembered how to load pictures and edit in Lightroom.

It's been so long since I've used this laptop for anything personal that I seem to have no idea what I'm doing. But nonetheless, here are some pictures.

Just so you know we're still alive and kicking. In Texas.

Friday, June 17, 2016

366 Project: Week Twenty-Four

We have been back in the States for a week now, and it has already been a wild ride. Car broke down. Renters won't leave. Baby doesn't sleep. To say we're in survival mode is an understatement. We're trying to figure out how we'll get to Texas in a few short weeks. Where we'll live once we arrive. What (specific) jobs we'll have when we get there. How we'll sell our house. When we'll work on it. When the renters will be ousted by the sheriff. All of this with little sleep and a kid who is struggling with all of the changes in his life. It ain't pretty. Nonetheless, here's a recap...

162/366: The "luggage shuffle" took us nearly an hour, but we made it to the bus stop with all 12 bags and 4 backpacks with 6 minutes to spare! And except for our grouchy bus driver who assumed we had other options for getting all of our bags to the airport, this was been one of the easiest airport trips ever. Our check-in was easier than ever, and we had plenty of time to run around and get energy out since our flight was delayed an hour. It was a pretty good flight, too, since we took off at bedtime and the kids slept for most of it!

163/366: Of course, we re-lived the 10th, which meant we had time for dinner with my family before we headed to Eric's mom's on the 11th. The drive was pretty stressful in our car that was barely running and without working phones, but we made it, and we enjoyed the blue skies!

164/366: Good riddance to this thing. It served its purpose by getting us and all of our stuff around last summer, but now it's time to go.

165/366: Poor Cade went much of the year with tennis shoes that were falling apart. It was bad. And embarrassing. We were all pretty excited to get the kids some new shoes!

166/366: This kid is still barely sleeping. Not sleeping by himself. Not napping well. Screaming when we try to put him down. Waking for hours in the middle of the night. So, it's been important to keep him moving outside in the evenings to get him a little closer to a reasonable bedtime. Especially if it means I have to go to bed with him. I'll be glad when this phase is over!

167/366: Eric, Reece, and I spent a long day driving up north to get Dad's truck so that we have something to drive for awhile. The day was full of extreme ups (a fun lunch and afternoon with Travis and Tasha!) and downs (showing up at our house to discover we're locked out). It ended with a drive (by myself!) under cotton candy clouds that I couldn't keep my eyes off and another night cuddled up with my toddler (who no longer sleeps unless he's touching me). Every day has its challenges, but we survived another one.

168/366: Thursday morning was spent stressing about my interview, only to find out that they were going to have to re-schedule. As it turned out, I was able to just take a call from the department head while everyone else headed down to Tolmie Beach. It was a good conversation, and now, aside from trying to get rid of the Expedition, we have a couple of days to relax before really getting to work on Monday. So, an afternoon at the beach was the perfect way to unwind. Followed by a growler from the local brewery, of course!

This week, we're fitting in some family time, as well as getting to work on the outside of the house, so some fun followed by a lot of work! We will certainly appreciate your continued prayers as we deal with everything!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

366 Project: Week Twenty-Three

Okay, this is going to be a short one because, well, in less than 24 hours we will be on a plane...moving to another country. Our passport country, but still. And, I won't get any sleep tomorrow night with a toddler strapped to my chest and two bigger children to deal with, so I need to sleep well tonight!

155/366: Our end-of-school picnic. Shauna said we should get a picture together, and I'm so glad she did, because she may have been the only person that I took a picture with. Whoops. Best laid plans.

156/366: A shot of one of the local grocery stores with all of their produce outside on the street. I'm trying to remember the things that seemed strange at the beginning!

157/366: Day one of Japan! We literally walked right into a parade and festival when we went to find our hotel, so we strolled through that for a few hours before getting dinner at the brewery in the harbor just behind our capsule hotel. Pretty much couldn't have asked for a better day.

158/366: We packed it in on day two of our #Tokyotripfor2. Starbucks at Shibuya Crossing, Meiji Shrine, sushi and shopping in Harajuku, followed by the Tokyo skyline view and dinner in Shinjuku. Almost 19,000 steps and 9 miles. The girl was passed out by 9:00 again!

159/366: The day's original plans were thwarted by rain after our trip to Tokyo Tower and Zojoji Temple. We made do with lunch and shopping before heading to the airport for our return trip home.'ll read the details of our trip!

160/366: The kids got in a few hours with our friends and neighbors at the playground before they left for the airport. It was a heart-wrenching final goodbye for them.

161/366: We spent our final day in Korea packing, cleaning, shutting off phones, and closing accounts. Then, we spent our evening strolling through our old beloved neighborhood and eating at our favorite Korean restaurant. It's hard to believe that our time in Korea has come to an end. The past five years have been been full of ups and downs, challenges and victories, and have changed us in more ways than we can count. I'm so thankful that God brought us to this place and these people for this time. Tomorrow, we return to 'Murica, and I'm excited and terrified at the same time.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

366 Project: Week Twenty-Two

There are no words at this point in this particular week. We're all tired. Emotionally and physically. And so...

148/366: We began (ended?) our week with a little "reunion" dinner with our original Lost group. Remember how we had dinner and watched Lost with this group our first two years here? Well, since then, we've done a terrible job of all getting together at the same time in the same place. They've all been over for dinner a couple of times this year, but we decided we needed to have them all over at the same time one last time.

149/366: Saturday night was the YISS Mom's annual "goodbye" get-together. It has evolved over the years from coffee shops to brunch to dessert. These evenings are always emotionally draining, but so needed on the road to ending well. I've spent years fearing my time on this "stage" (it's so awkward to sit and cry while a room full of women tell you why they will miss you!), but I survived the spotlight--exhaustaed but relieved. It's so hard to imagine not seeing some of them regularly. Expat bonds run deep, which makes this life a great one but such a hard one come June.

150/366: Sunday was our last Sunday at church because Kennedy and I will be in Japan this coming Sunday. Again, it's a little awkward because our church has a long tradition of praying for those who are leaving on their last Sunday in Korea. But again, we survived, and then did all of the small talk afterwards at the church picnic. After the picnic, Eric and Cade were off to a goodbye party while Kennedy, Reece, and I headed home and worked on notes for friends. Gah. So many emotions all the time.

151/366: Monday was Cade's end-of-year class party. As a classroom teacher who enjoys structure and organization, the elementary classroom party drives me mad. So much chaos. So much noise. So many kids with nothing to do. But, I've never been willing to be the one to organize these things, so props to the mom who is. And mad props to the elementary teacher who puts up with it! I was happy to show up late and leave early! (And of course, there's another one coming!)

152/366: I spent the morning watching Cade receive his Honor Code award and Kennedy play with her classmates at the 3rd grade class party. All while chasing a toddler, of course. Even after spending all morning at school, Reece was a trooper and waited until we got home (actually in the apartment this time, as opposed to the two previous days) to fall asleep in his crib. It was a busy week for him!

153/366: The last day of school was a roller coaster of emotions: elation at the end of another great school year and the start of summer, broken-hearted as goodbyes began in earnest to classmates and students, and then a whole lot of laughter as we ended the night with dinner and noraebang with great friends. This transition has been so much more physically and emotionally exhausting than I ever could have expected, but I'm so grateful for the fact that it means we've built unforgettable relationships in our time here. Here's to #endingwell and #startingstrong.

154/366: I feel an obligation to include a shot of Reece because you haven't seen or heard much about him recently. I'm spending the moments that I'm not packing with my pinky in his mouth as those canines make their way through. He has been talking a lot more ("more" being his new favorite), but not eating or sleeping well this week with those teeth bothering him. I had a feeling that they would start to rear their pearly heads just as we started getting ready to board another plane. It just seems to happen that way!

And now that the obligatory weekly blog post is done, I'm going to relax for a bit before I fall fast asleep because this week has been utterly exhausting and tomorrow is the mother-of-all goodbyes--the last gathering before everyone takes off for the summer--which means a whole lot more tears are coming. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

366 Project: Week Twenty-One

Well, I have 10 days until I need to have our entire lives packed into a number (still undetermined, thanks to difficult airlines) of suitcases and bins. We got rid of some big things this week, which helps me feel like I'm making some progress, though I'm not. Today is my first day of the week to actually be home to get some packing done, and here I sit blogging. I'd better get this done, so I can get back to work!

141/366: Of course I got some shots of the girl actually singing in her concert, but the shots I got of her and her friend, Ella, were way more fun. Our Friday night was a little crazy with Kennedy's concert and the 8th Grade Gala. Our friend got hurt playing basketball, so his whole family was in for the night, and they let us borrow their car to get to school and back. That was a huge help with everything going on, but we were actually pretty lucky because at least our events were on campus and none of us had to spend the night!

142/366: Kennedy's first swim meet was on Saturday, which meant the two of us spent most of the day there. It was actually a lot of fun, and of course, we were so proud of her! I have lots more pictures to share, so hopefully I'll get around to that at some point.

143/366: On Sunday, we took our down day seriously. With such a busy week finally behind us, we spent Sunday working on getting some packing done and spending time as a family. The weather was beautiful and the clear skies are greatly missed at this point.

144/366: Yet another last on Monday, this being one that I'm going to miss more than words can say. The monthly YISS Moms' outings have always been one of my favorites. I've gone through several stages of them over the past 5 years (the '13-'14 school year being the only year I couldn't participate at all). Our first year here, I brought both kids when my school schedule allowed it (rarely). My second year, I just brought Cade, again when my schedule allowed (more frequently). The past two years, I've just had Reece while the older two have been in school, and even though he hasn't always benefited, it's always good for me to get out of the house and hang with other women. The group has morphed significantly over the years, too--different moms and different kids (in fact, only one of these kids was born when we arrived!). I'm not even going to start on how much I've loved doing life with these ladies and their kids, but I will say that it's hard to imagine a future without seeing them on a regular basis.

145/366: Tuesday was a bit rough. I went on Kennedy's last field trip--it wasn't a great one. The trip to school in the pouring down rain was a little tough once I discovered that there were about 10 other people also waiting for taxis at our intersection. I headed for the bus--which of course was packed--so I arrived at my stop at the same time I was supposed to be in the school lobby. Thankfully, I was only about 5 minutes behind schedule, but then my lunch bag ripped in the middle of the street (a paper Starbucks bag does not make a good lunch bag when it's raining!). A friend was there to help me rescue the contents the first time, but the second time around, I had no help and was walking up a steep hill, so most of my lunch contents were lost down the road. The field trip itself ended up being all in Korean, so I had no idea what was going on most of the time (nor did about half the kids), and Reece was not loving it. In the afternoon, I was home long enough to clean up the house and prep dinner for the babysitter and then I was off to meet Eric for the SIP dinner in Itaewon. Thankfully, the day ended much better than it started, but these were two lasts that I won't miss!

146/366: Wednesday was much more relaxed as I didn't have to go to school until the afternoon to watch Cade's last swim lesson. He's made such huge leaps in the last two years in the pool. When he started, he would crouch in the corner of the pool, pretty much hating the water. He's not quite swimming across the pool yet, but he's making progress! After swim, I went to my last Zumba class; I'm going to miss looking like a crazy person dancing with those ladies!

147/366: This week has been kind of depressing, I'll admit. Part of it is bad news from home, part of it is being so close yet still so far away from the end. But, I think a big part of it is this nasty air that we've had. Sure, last week was hot--about 90 degrees every day, but I'll take multiple showers every day over 80 degrees with stagnant hazy air. It's still hot, but now we don't even have cool evening breezes, and if we did, we couldn't open the windows. I'm SO ready to be done with the nasty air!

And now, I must get back to work! This stuff isn't going to pack itself!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

366 Project: Week Twenty

I think I already mentioned last week that emotions were running high, and I can promise nothing has eased in that department this week. Even Cade cried this week--for the first time admitting that maybe he doesn't want to leave Korea. I had to say goodbye to a good friend on Sunday, and then there was the first of many farewell speeches at the end of Cade's concert on Tuesday that had us all in tears. It feels too early to start this stuff still, but I suppose if we left it all for the last week, then things would be pretty ugly.

134/366: Friday was a long day because Eric went glamping after school, but it was nice to have clear blue skies, perfect temperatures, and kids in good moods. Kennedy was a huge help--doing both the dinner and breakfast dishes (I did have to redeem a mom's day coupon, but it was worth it!)--and both boys were pretty good, too.

135/366: Saturday was another big last: the International Bazaar. Full of some of our favorite people and our favorite foods, we are always amazed at the size and intensity of this event. This year, I had a Japanese pancake, an Uzbek stir fry, Turkish ice cream, and a Thai iced tea (but that's only because I refused to have Indian for the 2nd this week--it's usually my go-to!). We are going to miss this!

136/366: It's a real shocker as to why this place was on Kennedy's #bucketlist. Chocolate chip French toast is always her first choice at Suji's Deli. We had to say goodbye to friends from church who are PCSing, which wasn't much fun, so comfort food seemed like a good idea.

137/366:  I'm going to say that these Cranberry Ginger granola bars were #eatingdown success. They depleted the rolled oats, the flax seed, the crystallized ginger, the almonds, cranberries, and the last sheet of parchment (which may or may not be stuck to the bottom--oops!). It does leave me feeling a little better about my pantry, and they taste good, too!

138/366: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the kids' concerts (which is funny because that's what Ms. Weir posted on IG after the concert ended, too!). I hate that we show up 30 minutes early, but immediately upon arrival feel late because the line for seats is out the door. I hate leaving the house feeling like I'm dressed up (appropriately) for the event and then arrive to find every mom dressed in heels and hose. I hate that I'm just proud of myself for getting us all dressed, fed, and out of the house on time, and then walk in the door and remember that every other parent has done those things, AND had time to stop and pick up a bouquet for their little singer. But, then the lights go down, the music starts, the kids file in, they start singing, and I'm in tears because their little voices are just precious and they're the cutest things ever. And this music teacher is one the most amazing teachers our kids have ever been blessed to have. She puts together incredible concerts and has over 150 little 1st and 2nd graders clapping, snapping, and singing in perfect time, and it's so impressive!

139/366: Matching girls playing at the playground. Mika is in first grade with Cade, but she has a little brother in Kindergarten, so having them as neighbors has made it easy for all of them to play together. They have all grown pretty close this year, and it's going to be tough to tear them apart in about three weeks.

140/366: Field day! These two were so excited that they picked out all of their blue clothes the night before, and then they were up and out of bed 10 minutes before I normally wake them up. It was a bit hot--a high of 90 (and now, at 7:15, it's only down to 80)--but they still had a lot of fun and managed to come home without a sunburn. They were ready for bed early tonight, though!

Tomorrow will be pretty crazy with Cade going on his final field trip, Eric going to the 8th Grade Gala, and Kennedy having her concert (at least they're on the same campus!). Saturday, Kennedy has her first swim meet, so we're excited, but it's a long day. Next week might be slightly less busy since we don't have any concerts; we just have other plans every night of the week. This whole "ending well" thing is tough, but it's worth it. And now, I'm going to take advantage of some down time to relax!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nancy and Michael's Visit

Do you remember how last year, as soon as Nancy and Michael left everything got really crazy, and it took me until the end of the month to finally post something about their trip? Yeah, I remember that, too. And things haven't really changed this year, except maybe (if it's possible?) we're even busier. Last year, we moved apartments and flew to Jeju for three days. This year, we're moving countries and Kennedy and I are flying to Japan for three days. Apparently, we don't learn our lessons!

But, I am going to try to get this post done before May 30th, and then it might be quiet again. Except for those weekly posts. I don't think I could ignore those if I tried. (Though I should probably see how I'm doing for this week and get some photos loaded!)

I spent my morning working on getting myself a little more organized. I've felt like I'm kind of at a standstill...can we live without that pan or pot for three weeks? Can I pack a few more books? Do we really need this many clothes for just three weeks? But, once I booked those tickets to Japan and realized that I need to have all of the bigger suitcases in "final pack" mode before I leave, it became clear that we're just going to have to live without that stuff. If I don't get started now, I'll never finish in time!

We still have some big jobs to do, and not a lot of free time in which to do them (some of them complicated by the fact that we no longer have a car), so things are a little tense around here. Emotions are high as we think about all of the changes to come and the people and things we're leaving behind. But, we're doing our best to end well.

This week, we have concerts for both kids, Kennedy's first swim meet, Cade has a field trip, and Eric has the 8th grade gala, as well as the regular stuff like swim lessons and Awana. The kids are really excited about field day on Thursday, too. With any luck, next week won't be quite as busy in the evenings, but it seems unlikely since there are still people we need to schedule final dinners with. We're got to give it our all right now, even though it doesn't always feel like we have much to give.

Our time with Michael and Nancy was really good, though, and it gave us a chance to get some major things checked off of our bucket lists. They arrived really late on Tuesday night after a delayed flight and an "express" train that blew right by Hannam-yok, making their trip much longer.

They hit the ground running on Wednesday, though, with Michael getting up early with Eric to go play basketball at school. He and the kids had school that day, and Kennedy had two tests, so we thought it best that they both just go, in spite of our guests. I took them to school in the late morning, and then they visited the kids and hung out with Eric for a bit before taking the "scenic route" home.

That night, we had big plans to go to the National Museum of Contemporary History for the night view of Gyeongbukgong Palace, so we picked up some Moroccan sandwiches at Casablanca (one of our favorites!) for a quick dinner before our neighbor came down to watch the kids (and by "watch," I mean be in the house with them while they all read or slept!), and then we were off!

I took my time getting the perfect shot (or the best I could do...I wish I could see some of the shots that the real pros up there were least I looked the part with my tripod and stuff!), so they had time to peruse the museum for a bit before we headed down to the Cheonggyecheon to see the lanterns that were not yet lit. (This is what they look like lit up.) Then, we began the trek to find a taxi and eventually made it home.

On Thursday, the kids were home from school but Eric had to work, so we played lots of cards and had a relaxing morning while Reece got in a 3 1/2 hour nap (because that's what toddlers do when you're all waiting on them to wake up!). Once he woke up, we took the van to school and walked through Itaewon to one of our very favorite restaurants--Petra Palace--for the last time. We had chicken and hummus, lamb and laban, tabbouleh, and of course, naan. The only thing I'm sad we skipped on was the falafel, since there's is delicious, and I probably won't get to go back. Oh boy. Now I'm hungry, and I already ate lunch.

After we stuffed ourselves with Lebanese food, we headed to a store right across the street that has been on Kennedy's bucket list ever since it opened in November. I have no idea what Line Friends is, and I don't care to put in the effort to Google it, but it is extremely popular among Koreans (what isn't?), and it would seem, 3rd grade girls. The store was not stroller-friendly, nor was the line of Koreans waiting to take their picture with an over-sized stuffed bear, so Reece and I hid in a corner while Nancy and Michael escorted the kids around the store. What a thrill it was!

By the time we were done, Eric was done with his meetings and he met us as we meandered through alleys on the way back to school. He put sincere effort into finding a restaurant that he went to years ago with friends but hasn't been able to find again since. The upside for us was walking by one of the touted "best coffee" shops in Seoul for a refreshing iced coffee. It was pretty delicious, but no doubt I won't make it back to Peer Coffee, either, in our limited time remaining.

For dinner, we continued our world food tour with a trip to Busan Galbi (and a return to Itaewon...we got lots of walking in!) for Korean food because no trip to Korea is complete without it! We had both pork and beef galbi, kimchi pancake, and dolsot bibimbap, as well as the many banchan. Probably another last for us as it's not a cheap meal, and we've got money to save (though it is much cheaper now that Reece is a picky eater; he definitely ate more than his fair share the last time we had galbi!).

Well, I still have tons to do this afternoon in order to get us all bathed, fed, and out the door for Cade's concert tonight, so I'd better get to it. Nancy and Michael still had three more long busy days after this, so I'll have to get back to it another time! I'm off to get Cade from the bus!
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