Thursday, March 31, 2016

366 Project: Week Thirteen

Since I don't have time for editing and blogging these days, I'll try to provide a tad more detail on my picture descriptions this week. This was a crazy one for sure! Our good friends and neighbors asked me to help them with their kids this week because grandma, who usually watches them, is out of town. Their preschooler spends most of the day at school, so it's pretty much just their 8 month old that I have to worry about. Unfortunately, he has been hit hard by the separation anxiety bug (Reece still hasn't encountered that!), as well as a cold, and is in general not the happiest baby on the block. It has ended up being harder than I expected, but it's almost over now!

85/366: The face of a child who napped for three hours, but could have kept going. He'd fallen asleep around bedtime-ish on the plane the night before, but then had to sleep through landing, the world's longest line at Immigration, a quick trip to baggage claim and Customs, a ride on the shuttle to the long-term parking lot, a long cold walk across the parking lot, a transition into the car seat, the car ride home, and finally the transition into his bed. So, while he probably slept about 11-12 hours, it was not the same quality of sleep one would normally get! What a trooper!

86/366: One of the expat blogs that I read is called Velvet Ashes, and one of the things they're known for is their connection groups. They give women overseas who may not have a way to connect in person an opportunity to do so with other women in similar situations. Obviously, we have a huge expat community here, and so I'd never felt too much push to join, but this time around, with transition looming, I thought it might be a good way to force myself to process it, rather than ignore it. My friend, Malia (left), suggested it, and I happened to be put in a group with Emily (center) who was in Malia's group the last time she participated. As it happened, Emily made a quick trip to Seoul last weekend, so we all had dinner together.

87/366: My focus is way off on this one, but I haven't had time to edit photos, so, here it is. We had a nice quiet Easter, and Reece thoroughly enjoyed his first Easter egg hunt, in spite of Cade stealing most of the eggs that were within his reach.

88/366: It turned out to be a rough week to have another baby around. Both boys are sick, and Reece hasn't really eaten since before we left for Guam. At this point, he's down to grapes and cheese. In this picture, he wouldn't even eat grapes. And he wouldn't let go of that dog, either. Just wanted his mommy. Probably because she was holding a crying 8 month old with separation anxiety. Oof.

89/366: Day two of two babies didn't go much better. At this point, if one started crying, then the other one started crying. Reece couldn't stay awake past 9:30 in the morning, which meant they were both awake at the same time most of the day, too, which is a problem when everyone is crying. Reece spent a fair amount of time getting as close to the front door as possible without actually turning his back on the "evil" baby.

90/366: There's a story behind this mug, but at this point, I was simply documenting the fact that I only had to reheat my coffee three times before I actually got to drink it. And that was a sign of how much better our day was going. Success in my book.

91/366: This was--by far--our best day of the week. Both boys were in pretty good moods, even though Elliot didn't nap as much as he normally would. And, even though Owen's bus broke down and we stood outside waiting for it for quite a while before his dad called to say he would have to come get him and take him to school. The day wasn't perfect, but a huge improvement over the first couple of days!

I'm sad that I didn't the monthly collage done, since it would have been perfect with the month ending at the end of my thirteenth week, but considering there were probably only about 10 pictures taken with the real camera this month, it was more labor than I was up for tonight.

This weekend, I am off to a retreat with about 20 other women from school at one of nastiest retreat centers in Seoul. Oh, does that sound negative? Well, it has been almost five years since I've been there, so maybe it's improved. Or maybe it will just look a lot better since I don't have kids in tow. Either way, I'm going to try to get some editing done during our "craft" time because editing is about as crafty as I get these days, but without internet, the blog will remain quiet for just a bit longer. (I know. I keep saying that. One of these days!) And now, I must get some sleep, because I still have one more day with these two, and they keep me busy!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

366 Project: Week Twelve

We are back in Seoul, and we've hit the ground running hanging with friends, and trying to get ready for the busy week ahead. I still have photos from our trip to edit, so I will grace you with some lovely iPhone photos from the past week until I finally have time to get some work done.

78/366: It was 60 degrees on Friday, our first afternoon of spring break, and we all enjoyed the chance to get out in warmer temperatures!

79/366: Kennedy and I got new nail polish at the baby shower we attended last weekend, and she was excited to paint her toenails for our trip.

80/366: We were so excited to be packed for our somewhat spontaneous trip to Guam.

81/366: Ready to get on a plane!

82/366: The walk to the hotel pool wasn't too bad, I suppose!

83/366: The sunset at Chamorro Village was pretty amazing!

84/366: After a great few days in Guam, we were headed home to cold smoggy air. {Insert sad face here.}

This coming week is going to be especially busy as I'm watching the boys of a friend for the week, so don't be surprised if it stays quiet around here for a little while longer!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

366 Project: Week Eleven

Things have been busy lately, and yet again, blogging has taken the back burner. We are deep in the throes of cleaning house, and I'm so excited to finally start purging, but it's going to be a lot of work! Next week, is spring break, and after that, it gets real.

71/366: We had dinner with good friends on Friday night (and I had obviously forgotten to take a picture...and my lens needed to be calibrated, so I couldn't get it focused properly...gah), and Ross, who is a classic TCK, asked the kids some really good questions and their answers were hilarious.

72/366: Cade didn't want to brush his teeth because he didn't want to stop reading, so he took the book with him and perched it, so that he could read while he brushed.

73/366: Kennedy got out the Resurrection Eggs, and they provided Reece with hours of entertainment while he carefully took each item out of the eggs and they attempted to put them back together.

74/366: I feel like I've been taking pictures constantly, but most of them are shots of our belongings. Not exactly 365-worthy. But, I liked the reflection in this one.

75/366: Two of the four molars (one top and one bottom...grrr) are through, and this kid is starting to return to himself again. I'm sure it won't be long before the other two teeth start to break through, though.

76/366: We are deep into #toddlerlife. Today, it was toilet paper (though I had removed it from the holder, he put it back on, so that he could unravel it all!). Yesterday, it was dry mustard all over the rug. The day before it was cupcake sprinkles all over the pantry. This kid!

77/366: This quarter was Kennedy's first in "competitive swim" rather than just swim lessons. This meant that we paid less, she swam twice as often, and she worked twice as hard. It was quite an adjustment for her in the beginning of the quarter, but it paid off. She's stronger, has more endurance, and even a little pride in her abilities now, I think.

And tonight, we told the kids that they will get to show off all of their new skills in the pool next week when we're in GUAM! They were so excited!! I'd had this idea floating around in my head that if we had jobs for next year by spring break, then we should get to go somewhere warm for a few days, but I never thought Eric would go for it. The next day, he was booking tickets, and here we are just three days out from being warm! I can't wait! So, it will continue to be quiet here, but I announcement is coming. Just as soon as I can make myself hit "publish." #kiddingnotkidding

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

366 Project: Week Ten

This has been a crazy busy week! It's been more than a week since Eric and I have both been home (without company) in the evening, so he's going to stay home from his usual Thursday night stuff tonight because our weekend won't be any quieter. We all have bucket list people to spend time with, and some of that is starting now, so we can fit it all in. It's good, but it's going to make for a busy spring!

64/366: We officially made the decision as to where we are headed next (announcement still to come), and so I thought it would be a good time to start a journal to write back and forth with Kennedy. This girl has got lots of thoughts and feelings and sometimes our oral communication leaves something to be desired. So, hopefully this will allow us to communicate a little better through this transition.

65/366: We've thrown our last birthday party in Korea; what a relief! The weather did not cooperate with our plans, so we ended up with six kids and six Nerf guns in our apartment for three hours. The Lego castle building competition was the only backup plan I could come up with that required them to sit for awhile.

66/366: If you asked Reece, he'd tell you he's been walking for months, not weeks. He's got the strut down.

67/366: He would also try to tell you that he only needs to nap for about 90 minutes a day, but we're all much happier if he sleeps closer to three hours.

68/366: And I know that we can all agree that the only thing worse than teething with molars is teething combined with a cold. He is a drool factory because of the teeth, but combining that with a stuffy nose means that he is a wet, nasty snotty mess right now!

69/366: Cade has made some huge gains in the swimming pool this quarter, and I'm so excited for him to not only be over his fear of the water, but also to be finding some pride in his new skills!

70/366: We were finally getting a few more smiles in spite of the teeth, but the dog and binky are never far away these days.

We had some nice weather in the past week--some days nearly 60--but it's back to highs in the low 40s, and I'm so done with it. I'm ready for real spring to be here--our final season in Seoul. We're only a week away from spring break; the countdown to the end is on, as we leave three months from today!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

366 Project: Week Nine

Things are progressing in the job department, but no big announcements yet. We have two more interviews this coming week, and we continue to be amazed at the doors God is opening for us. As hard as it is to not have all of the details nailed down yet, we have to remember that when we said we wouldn't be returning back in November, we thought there was a good chance that we wouldn't have jobs until June, so we're grateful for the progress that has been made so far.

57/366: Cade and Mr. Adams after having cupcakes. I've already gone on a bit about how fun this was, so I'll leave it at that.

58/366: Another last. I took the kids to the spring musical--Fiddler on the Roof. It was another great performance, of course, and I may have been a bit broken-hearted when they announced that we couldn't take pictures at all. We (or I) have been to at least one YISS play every year since we got here, and we've loved every last one. After the play, I took the kids out for hot chocolate.

59/366: We had a great day celebrating Cade! It was really busy because Eric had a meeting after church, and then he and Cade took off to see a movie while Kennedy and I spent the afternoon preparing homemade pizza for dinner. It was late by the time we sat down with the birthday treat he picked out. A donut cake. Because we're just that classy.

60/366: Eric and the kids had Monday off for another Korean Independence Day, so Kennedy and I got to go see Zootopia, too. This was probably our last movie in Korea, so I figured I should document it in some way.

Another month down! Yahoo!

61/366: Kennedy had been begging me to do a "practice" pack. I can completely understand her desire; how else are we supposed to know whether everything will fit in our suitcases? The chore sounds too daunting to me since mine is on a much larger scale, but she had fun with hers and was relieved to find that most of what she wants to bring fits in her suitcase.

62/366: I take pictures of the boys in the bathtub all the time, so I'd been wanting to try to figure out a way to capture Kennedy. Eric thinks it's creepy and a little stalker-ish, but it was the best I could come up with.

63/366: Cade volunteered to help with the laundry yesterday, and it was the perfect opportunity to capture the hilarity of our washer/dryer situation. I don't complain because I'm not pregnant, I'm tall enough to reach in without climbing, and I'm just so thrilled to have a dryer (and one with close proximity to the washer; we have lots of friends who have them on opposite ends of the house), but it is kind of funny to the outsider.

It is finally spring in Seoul--a high of 60 today with a whole lot of haze. The air quality is only "unhealthy for sensitive groups" though, so I guess it could be worse (and it's supposed to be in the coming days). You know when we tell our kids that we never checked air quality before moving here, they don't believe us? It's kind of like that "we walked uphill both ways to school" speech that our parents gave us--except that in Seoul that's true, too! Who knew you really can walk uphill both ways?! Nonetheless, I look forward to the day when we don't have to check the air quality alongside the weather!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Between Worlds

Our book club book for this past month was a collection of essays by Marilyn Gardner, an adult third culture kid, called Between Worlds. This book has brought tears to my eyes more times than I can count, and while I first read about it on an expat blog about a year ago, now is the time when I needed to read it, and I'm glad that God orchestrated that timing. As I've read, I've highlighted so many passages that I fear that as I try to look back over the most important advice that I need to reference, I will feel that I'm reading the entire book over again!

You might remember that Eric and I have already done a fair amount of reading and studying about third culture kids (TCKs), but when we began almost five years ago, we were thinking about it mostly in terms of our students or possibly what our kids would become. Now, we are deep into life with our TCKs and trying to figure out how to prepare them for life in a country that doesn't feel like home. Repatriation is a whole new ball game.

Among those many highlighted passages, one in particular stopped me in my tracks. I immediately had to put the book down, so that I could write out this quote from Nina Sachel. Because this is something I'm going to need to remember when Kennedy is having another one of her emotional days. When I can't possibly understand what she's thinking or feeling, I need to listen. Because she has stories to tell, stories that she's afraid to tell at school or to her peers for fear that she'll alienate them. For fear that they won't understand. For fear they'll think she's bragging when all she really wants to do is talk about her life.

              "So when she comes to you, don't ask her where she's from, or what's troubling her. Ask her where she's lived. Ask her what she's left behind. Open doors. And just listen. Give her the time, space, and permission she needs to remember and to mourn. She has a story -- many stories. And she needs and deserves to be heard, and to be healed, and to be whole."

I think the most interesting thing I've learned reading this book is how little I understand the perspective of my kids. Of course, we have all dealt with loss and struggled with identity, but reading a book written by an adult TCK who is raising TCKs has shown me just how big the gap is between our experiences. Eric and I will always feel--in some way--at home when in the States. It's the place where we can go where we understand expectations, language, and food. And our kids will never feel as comfortable there as we do. That's the part that I can't quite wrap my mind around.

The title of the book, Between Worlds refers to the place where TCKs feel most comfortable. They don't truly fit in in any country--not their passport country, nor the country which they've called home. They feel most comfortable in between--packing suitcases, hanging in airports, flying at 30,000 feet and within the four walls of whatever home we have created--the place where they can talk about where they've been or where they're going. Where people understand that they don't feel American or Korean, but they feel both at the same time.

I'll never truly understand the identity crisis that we've put our children through when we turned them into TCKs, but thankfully books like this one give me a little insight, so that when my daughter--who is absolutely dreading leaving the country that she considers home--gets excited 3 months early about packing, I can embrace it. Sure, kid, if you want to put all of your precious belongings in a suitcase just to see if they fit, you go for it. "Thanks, Mom! I love packing!" 
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