Sunday, February 28, 2016

Happy 7th Birthday, Cade

Dear Cade,

I always love going back and looking for pictures to put in these posts. Obviously, we didn't do you justice back then, but blurry photos are better than no photos, right? I'm gonna take it for granted that you'll forgive me for my lack of skill back in the day. (Though you may never forgive me for having documented your brother's life so much more thoroughly than yours, and I can't really blame you.)

You have always brought such joy to our lives with your laugh, your humor, and your energy. Today, I took you and your sister to the school play (I was a bit surprised that you were the bigger advocate for this outing over your sister, because plays are not always your thing.), and you watched the whole thing with your mouth wide open, never moving from the edge of your chair. When I took you out for hot chocolate afterwards, though, you absolutely could not sit down until the moment your hot chocolate arrived. You're all boy!

Yesterday, I brought cupcakes to your class to celebrate your birthday, and it was probably the best classroom birthday I've ever witnessed. Your teacher, Mr. Adams, asked the kids in your class to raise their hands and share one reason why they were glad that you were in their class. They began with the words "I'm glad you were born seven years ago because..." and nearly every hand shot up to share, because well, they're in first grade, and because you're a pretty cool kid, Cade.

Here were a few of the lines:
   Cade, I'm glad you were born seven years ago because you are encouraging. (Good word!)
   Cade, I'm glad you were born seven years ago because you are funny (to which Mr. Adams added, "yes, I agree, and I think he gets funnier every day.).
   Cade, I'm glad you were born seven years ago because you are good at everything and you're nice.
   Cade, I'm glad you were born seven years ago because you are honest and helpful. When you got hurt, you told the truth, so that I wouldn't get in trouble.
   Cade, I'm glad you were born seven years ago because you are good at sports and at school.

I wish I'd been able to record the whole thing, because it was the sweetest thing. For your part, you sat in your chair and (mostly) made eye contact with the person talking. You got to call on kids to speak, and you liked that power.

Today, you told me that your biggest concern about moving back to the States is making friends, and Kennedy and I agreed that is also one of our biggest concerns for ourselves. While I don't see you as the kid who has one best friend, Cade, I do know that you have a lot of kids who love to hang out with you! Then, when we talked about how we could help ourselves make friends, it became clear why. Of the three of us, you definitely had the most advice!

At this point, you are generally excited about the upcoming changes in our lives. I think a lot of it is just your laid-back personality; there isn't a whole lot that really bothers you. You are also capable of seeing what there is to be excited about, in terms of the move, because you haven't experienced quite as much loss in your life as your sister, nor are you worried about details. You're thinking about the adventure that is to come!

I am so proud of you, Cade-man--both the kid you are and the man you're becoming. I'm so excited to see what the future holds for you in the upcoming months, as we all endure change. I love you, little man!


Friday, February 26, 2016

366 Project: Week Eight

We are deep into the it's-another-job-to-get-a-job-phase. I've been waiting all week to have a relaxing evening to just watch a TV show, but it hasn't happened yet. We spend every evening talking about the future and responding to emails or filling out applications. I look forward to when this phase comes to an end and we finally have some answers.

50/366: Another upside (downside?) to the read-a-thon is that the kids require a lot more trips to the library. They asked me to pick them up after school on Friday, so that I could take them and help them find some new books. They had already been several times that week, but Eric just sends them down, and they wanted some help. How could I say no?

51/366: We will often go work out at school on the weekends, and the kids love playing in the fitness room while Eric and I are in the weight room. I finally brought my camera.

52/366: They put their books down long enough to play cars on the rug we bought them this past summer. Since they rarely use it for its play purpose, it was good to see them get the cars out.

53/366: You know. If you finally put on that "statement necklace" that a friend so sweetly gifted, then you should get a picture of it. We had to stay up late to Skype about a job, so I figured I'd better get dressed up a little.

54/366: We've had some amazing sunsets this winter! I'm not looking forward to the haze of the spring in Seoul.

55/366: This guy is such a baby bird when it comes to eating his yogurt. He usually has his hands down on the tray and pushes his neck out with his mouth wide open for a bite. Of course, I underestimated how difficult it would be to feed him and take a picture without ending up with him screaming or staring at the camera. His face totally gets lost in this!

56/366: My Thursday began at 4 am when Reece woke up soaking wet because his diaper had leaked so badly, and I had to change his diapers (yes, still using two at night and somehow...) and pajamas. The day never really turned around for me. I even managed to burn the cupcakes, though thankfully it was only slightly and no one complained. Then, Cade helped me frost and decorate them for his school party on Friday.

The kids have another four day weekend (Eric only has three), because apparently we don't really go to school that often. We're looking forward to seeing the school play this afternoon and celebrating Cade's birthday tomorrow. We're excited that it's nearly March, spring weather is only another six weeks away (ha!), and I'm nearly finished with month two of this 366 project! Now, if only we had jobs!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Beginning Transition

Sometimes, I swear that the closer our move gets, the further away it seems. As we start to look at some of the details of things that need to be done (both here and in Washington), it gets a bit overwhelming. I spend an inordinate amount of time these days taking pictures of our things and cataloging them for those who may want to benefit from our departure. My mind is a constant maze of to-dos that can't be done yet.

Right now, I'm in that everything-about-Korea-annoys-me stage. Our upstairs neighbors are having some remodeling done, and so there is all kinds of noise going on up there much of the day. That kind of thing tends to wear on the nerves. (Not to mention the announcement in our apartment when it's about to begin, because apparently I need noise to announce there will be noise!) The contractors have been smoking, so the halls stink and the fire alarms keep going off. I'll be happy when they're done!

If I never have to live in another building with an elevator and all of these locked doors and different keys, I will be so happy. It's just so annoying when you're trying to juggle a wiggly toddler in a huge slippery coat and the groceries. Ack.

And so, tonight we're having Korean. I'm making bulgogi, I picked up cucumber kimchi and black beans soaked in soy sauce. We've got kim and rice. Lettuce leaves and ssamjang. Because there are some things that we will miss once we've moved on, and it's important to remember that. (Even when your toddler has molars coming in and isn't eating, napping, or sleeping well.) 

Friday, February 19, 2016

366 Project: Week Seven

Not much has changed since my last post. Still no word on jobs anywhere in the world. Less than four months until we're jobless and homeless. But, we're trying not to dwell on that too much. Too many other things to stress about. Like getting rid of our stuff and figuring out how our TCKs are going to adjust to life in their passport country. Ooof.

Because there are no pictures to document it, I will say that Eric and I celebrated Valentine's Day by going on a date over Lunar New Year. The friends that babysat the kids were the same ones who babysat for our first date since Reece's birth during Valentine's week last year. We get out a lot, you can see. Ha! Eric also took us out to lunch at Suji's on Valentine's Day, which was fun, in spite of the freezing weather and wind. And now, photo documentation of week seven...

43/366: One of my main goals for this year is to focus on my use of light. I'm not doing too well yet, but playing with the shadows in our living room was on the bucket list.

44/366: On Saturday, it was ridiculously warm. Like 60 degrees warm. And pouring down rain with a little thunder storm to boot. On Sunday, it snowed, was 20 degrees, plus a wind chill. Gotta love Seoul weather.

45/366: Reece started walking for realz on Saturday, but I was so busy taking videos that I didn't get any pictures. So, that was Sunday's project.

46/366: I have a love-hate relationship with the YISS read-a-thon, which began Monday. I love that it encourages the kids to read even more than normal, but I hate how stressed they get about recording every.single.minute they read. Kennedy needs to read more than 90 minutes per day to qualify for the big prizes (cameras, iPads, etc.), and so of course, she wants to, but that's a lot to fit in with swimming, chores, and homework every evening!

47/366: There were only a few flurries on Sunday, but on Tuesday it snowed most of the day. Nonetheless, we never had any accumulation and the 1/4 inch we may have had melted by the evening when it got up to a toasty 34 degrees. #winterinSeoul #notgonnamissit

48/366: I was trying to take a picture of something else, when look who walked into the frame? Obviously, this little one (and all of his hair) won out.

49/366: Lacking inspiration and ripe avocados. We'd had these for more than a week and they still wouldn't ripen, so it was time for a sun bath on the living room floor.

Today, I am enjoying the read-a-thon, as it's only noon and Kennedy has already read for three hours! A quiet morning to read our books (and blog)? I'll take it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Life Lately

The excitement of interviews has officially worn off. After two nights of getting dressed and ready for interviews after the kids went to bed, staying up much later than I would have liked, and a long holiday weekend in the States, we're less than thrilled to be about where we were two weeks ago.

We decided to not pursue the positions in Connecticut for now. It's a small, struggling school that would require a lot of time and energy that we're not sure we are ready for right now, especially considering the salary isn't very conducive to the cost of living. More than anything, we're concerned that we wouldn't be able to afford annual trips home to Washington, and would therefore end up burned out and not able to put in the years that the school would need from us. So, at least for now, we are not pursuing our one and only job offer.

The interview with the school in Texas was very much an interview of us (well, actually Eric), and we didn't get an opportunity to learn too much about the opportunities available for us there. There's a good chance they don't know specifics of the available positions yet, but nonetheless, we've been left with little information. We learned a lot about the school itself, and it sounds like a great place to be, but without details we're not letting ourselves get too excited. With the long weekend there, it has felt eerily quiet from our end.

Thankfully, our week has been much less exciting than last week in terms of trips to the doctor and dentist. Everyone is healthy and happy, for the most part, so we are thankful for that!

Reece finally started walking on Saturday night, and he was so incredibly proud of himself. I think it was all for the best that he was a little late to the game because he's one of those kids who feels all the feels. Not that he's particularly sensitive all the time, but man, he never lets a little bump or scratch pass him by. Cade was one of those kids who would show up bleeding or with a giant bruise and we would have no idea what happened or when because he just didn't cry. I feared that he might be one of those kids who just doesn't feel pain and ends up with broken bones that no can account for. Thankfully, that is not the case, but he still isn't very sensitive to getting hurt, and he never wants an ice pack or a band-aid. Not so with Reece. In fact, each time he stumbles as he figures out this walking thing, I wonder if he's going to start crying and give up and crawl. So far, he's doing really well, though. I just think it's for the best that he waited until he's a little more balanced on his feet!

Yesterday, I took Reece to playgroup. The same one that I used to take Kennedy and Cade to our first year. My, how things have changed. He was very relaxed, as always in situations like that. He was content to just sit back and watch. He picked up a couple of toys, but when others wanted them (and sometimes when they didn't), he would happily pass them off. He's a funny little one.

He has started "talking" up a storm, and spends much of his day trying to communicate with me in some way. He's been signing a lot of "thank you"s lately, and we're working on "eat," but he can't quite figure out yet. He has down "hi" and sometimes it's a little more "hiya"; he mimics the sounds for "the end" and "all done." He has also started doing the abbreviated bow, which is basically a head nod, to everyone in the elevator--sometimes even when there isn't anyone in there with us. Eric joked the other day that at some point in his 20s, he's going to realize that he bows to everyone and not know why. Just like I will probably hand everyone my money with my right hand for the rest of my life.

Yesterday, we had a very Seattle snow day. It snowed almost all day long, but the most accumulation we had was probably about a 1/4 inch, and I think it was all gone by the time we went to bed. Oh, Seoul weather.

And, this is the first time I've ever put videos on the blog, so let me know how they work, okay?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

366 Project: Week Six

It's been an exciting few days here, as we are finally interviewing and learning concrete details about the possibilities ahead. No real decisions have been made, but we have a lot more information than we did this time last week. I think we're starting to get a little excited about the future, rather than just being terrified!

I've got things to do, though, especially with Reece still being on his one nap schedule, so let's get to this week's pictures. And notice, not one iPhone picture this week; I'm so proud!

36/366: The kids had a half day and after playing at the playground with our neighbors, they asked if they could all come back to our house. Sure, why not? Five kids, one bedroom? Sounds like fun.

37/366: When I posted this on Instagram, I left it in color because it looked very Valentines-y, and I thought it really made the fact that Kennedy had put Reece in her bed obvious. But, the pictures I post here feel more permanent to me, and well, I just couldn't do it the kid. A boy? Surrounded by pink? It just didn't seem fair, so black and white it is.

38/366: We've had beautiful sunsets lately. Maybe not as beautiful as some of those I've seen of the PNW on social media lately, but pretty nonetheless. And remember, for the first four years we lived here, we probably only saw four sunsets total. We could see nothing from our apartment, so I'm not taking this for granted. Yet.

39/366: Okay, I brought my big girl camera, but I didn't really want to use it. Ha. So, this is the only picture that I took of our Super Bowl Monday. The military always has Super Bowl Monday off, but this year it happened to fall on Lunar New Year, so the rest of Korea had it off, too. Our church planned a big breakfast, and we were able to watch a live stream that actually worked well. With commercials. Definitely not an experience I ever expected to have, though.

40/366: I already shared the story of Reece's first trip to the hospital, but his favorite part of the trip was the bracelet he got. I couldn't wait to get a picture of it wrapped around his little wrist. It provided him plenty of entertainment during our long waits.

41/366: We went to school to work out in the afternoon, having forgotten that a friend had organized a Nerf war in the gym. So, after our workout, the kids had a little workout of their own with friends. Yes, Cade is back there on the right, but I was more concerned with playing with shutter speed and capturing movement than I was with getting a picture of my own kids out there. The Linn boys are pretty cute, though!

42/366: Our latest drama (because a trip to the ER this week wasn't enough) is the ongoing epic of Cade's tooth. This tooth had been loose for months. It wasn't until a friend mentioned it, that we realized that the new one was probably growing in behind it, and maybe it just wasn't going to come out on its own. We tried everything short of a door handle (though we did try a Nerf gun), and while it was plenty loose, it just wouldn't come out. So, Eric took him to the dentist yesterday after school. The poor kid was terrified, but it's finally out. I have a picture of the tooth itself, which will probably show up at some point, but it's clear now why it wouldn't come out. The front of the tooth is almost double the length of the other tooth that he just lost from the front top. It's a good thing we finally got it pulled!

Unfortunately, this afternoon, I have to take him back for a follow up appointment. He also has a cavity that has to be filled, and while I am certainly not one to ever enjoy the dentist, I fear this kid may loathe it more than most for the remainder of his life. Oof.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lunar New Year Weekend

You know what? Eric and the kids have had five days off, and it's actually been pretty good. We've obviously had some tough moments, and I am coming down of my best-trip-to-Costco-Korea-ever high, but overall, it's been really good. I switched Reece to one mid-day nap to avoid the stress of trying (unsuccessfully) to get him to nap twice with everyone home, and it has worked really well on all counts.

On Saturday, we had a friend over for breakfast, and then the kids spent a couple of hours over at the neighbor's playing with friends. On Sunday, Eric and Cade went to church and did the homeless ministry. Monday morning, we went to church to watch the Super Bowl and have a big Southern breakfast, since everyone had the day off for Lunar New Year. Monday night, friends volunteered to babysit, so Eric and I had dinner and saw a movie on base. It was nice to not have to deal with traffic, crowds, or public transportation on a date, especially considering it was the actual holiday and nothing was going to be open.

Things were a little more eventful on Tuesday afternoon when Kennedy was holding Reece while sitting at the kitchen table, and he managed to wrangle himself out of her arms and hit the floor pretty hard. After giving him some milk and holding him for awhile, I began to get a little concerned that he wasn't quite himself. He wasn't moving much or reacting to anything. He wouldn't even finish his milk. Eventually, he did climb down off my lap to find out what Cade was doing. It wasn't long before he started crying again, and he laid down on Eric's chest. The next we knew, he was throwing up-a lot-and I was worried for real. We hopped in the shower to get him cleaned up, sent the kids back to the neighbor's house, and headed to the ER.

To be honest, they weren't a lot of help. We had to wait for awhile, since it was a long holiday weekend and all of the doctor's offices were closed. At triage, we told the nurse the problem and she checked his temperature and oxygen levels. Then, we were sent back to a bed where a medical student came to tell us that there was less than 1% chance of brain damage, and she seemed to be trying to convince us not to get a CT scan. We were a little irritated, and I asked her if there was something they were going to do to assess him if they wouldn't do a CT. She said no, but asked us to wait. Minutes later, another nurse appeared and brought us to get X-rays. After they took about six scans of his head (which he did not enjoy!), they ushered us out and we stood awkwardly, until yet another nurse told us we could go. The whole thing took less than an hour and only cost $125, but we left with no information and not a lot of reassurance, either. I certainly won't miss the language barrier!

For once, Google was my friend, so we'd read some of the things to watch for. He was able to eat dinner that evening without vomiting. His pupils were even and not dilated. He was responsive to sound and light, and he wasn't even very lethargic after that first hour or two. He stayed up until a reasonable bedtime, and then I woke him every few hours throughout the night. He's been fine so far today, so I don't know that we're necessarily in the clear (all I know about concussions I've learned from Google and coaching), but I'm pretty confident that he's okay.

Aside from his first ER trip, Reece has hit a couple of other milestones this weekend, though walking is not one of them. (He has been taking one step more regularly.) He has figured out how to climb up onto and get down from all of the furniture, so I'm going to have to be watching him a lot more closely. Another major pitfall has been that he can now open all of the doors in our house. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put handles in all Korean apartments, rather than knobs, was wrong, and I'd like to track him down and tell him so!

Our major excitement around here this weekend has been looking toward the future, though. And that's really saying something. This past week, I talked to my dad and updated him on everything that we knew so far. Absolutely nothing! Our one lead had been one of Eric's former principals from Lakewood who thought that he might have a position for Eric in the fall in Edmonds. But, this week we've finally had real contact with hiring principals in Texas and Connecticut and we have interviews tonight and tomorrow. This time next week, we might have an idea where we'll be moving this summer, and that would be very exciting!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

366 Project: Week Five

This week began with the flu for most of us, and ended with colds for the boys (so I'm sure the girls will be taken down shortly!). We've enjoyed a little more sleep as Reece cried himself to sleep a little more, and I got out of bed a little less. This weekend is our last major Korean holiday, Lunar New Year or Seollal, so the kids have three days off school, leaving us with a five and a half day weekend.

29/366: After throwing up all night, I tried not to get off the couch, but alas, a 15-month-old doesn't really allow that.

30/366: On Saturday, no one was sick, and we all needed to get out of the house, so we went to the final home varsity basketball games. I started coaching these girls our first year when they were in 8th grade. This spring, they graduate and we leave. Hard to believe.

31/366: Eric and Kennedy took Reece on an afternoon bike ride in an effort to get the kid to nap, so Cade and I did some chores and even got in an epic game of double solitaire.

It was fun to put together a collage of all of the photos from January and see them all in one place!

32/366: Bath time!

33/366: Finishing up Awana homework on Monday afternoon.

34/366: It was so exciting to see morning light at the bus stop!

35/366: One of my goals is to shoot in every room in the house, especially since we will have lived here for such a short time. So, the selfie on the bed seemed an easy way to get our bedroom out of the way!

I'm off to wrestle the hooligans. The kids had a half day today, and Reece woke up early from his nap (again), so it could be a long afternoon. Need more coffee. Stat.
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