Saturday, April 30, 2016

Reece 15-18 Months

It's been awhile since the last official Reece update, and I think all of the changes have happened in the past three months. Haha. Okay, he couldn't possibly have changed as much in the past three months as he did in his first year, but it feels like we've turned a corner. For real.

This kid finally sleeps well--through the night, every night! (Strangely, I'm not even scared to type that...) He's now met so many of the milestones that I had been waiting for, that I'm kind of thinking he could just stop getting any bigger now. He walks everywhere now--remember how long I've been waiting for him to be able to walk from the car to the elevator? He's been doing it for a couple of months now, and it's just as great as I thought it would be! In spite of the fact that he can walk everywhere, he's also still pretty chill and will hang out in the stroller just watching whenever I want or need him to, which is really handy when there are two soccer games in one afternoon.

It's fun to look back at these pictures from over the course of the last three months and see how much he's grown. His hair is getting long and has to be swept out of his eyes several times a day. Eric says it's time for a haircut, but I'm not convinced. It only bothers Reece when the wind is blowing and his hair is flying everywhere. He'll put his hands on his head to hold it down and whine because he can't hold it all at the same time. So funny!

He talks all the time, though most of the time we're not sure what he's saying. He has a distinct toddler vocabulary, though, including: thank you (sounds like dank do), hi (with lots and lots of iiiis usually), hello, wow, ow, muah (kissing), all done, bye, uh uh, there it is, 1, 2, 3, Gooooo! and the end. Some of those are more clear than others. You know, it takes a mom's ear.

Last night was probably the first time I'd heard him cry in the middle of the night since we returned from Guam. We're all sick with colds again, plus we took him to a friend's for dinner last night and kept him up about two hours past his bedtime, so I wouldn't say I was surprised he didn't sleep well. Typically, I would say that he sleeps about 11 hours--from about 7pm to 6am-ish. But, he usually goes down about 6:45 and gets up about 6:45-7, so I'll take it. As long as he's in his crib for about 12 hours, I'm happy. (And so is he.)

I think it was probably sometime in February that we officially switched him to one nap per day, starting early, and planning to move it closer to the afternoon. Afternoon naptimes just haven't been in the cards for us, though, and he's been pretty content to go down around 11ish. He will usually sleep about 2-3 hours, with 2 1/2 being the norm, and I'm pretty content with it now, though it did take some getting used to. I will say that on Friday, I needed to be at school by 12:30, and he was happy to sleep from 10-12, and even survived the long afternoon. On Sundays, he can't nap until after church, though, so he always falls asleep in the car on the way home. Ugh.

The one and only negative turn that we've had in the past three months is that his once semi-picky palate has now turned into an extremely picky palate. The kid doesn't eat anything anymore, it seems. Cheese, yogurt, and crackers. He still drinks plenty of milk. Some days he'll eat carrots or cucumbers. He still likes most fruit, but not all. From time to time, he'll squish a tomato in his mouth. Maybe an olive here or there. He's hard to predict. Thankfully, we picked up lots of veggie pouches in Guam, and he'll usually eat those when we're out and about (which is a lot these days!). If I'm lucky, I can mix some fruit and veggies in with oatmeal in the morning, but overall, I just try to remember what Gigi says: He won't starve himself, so don't stress about it.

With the last cold and the trip to Guam, came Reece's first set of molars, and we've enjoyed the reprieve from teething for the past couple of weeks. The canines should be coming in any time now, and then hopefully we'll have another break before the last set of molars come in (with any luck we won't notice those?).

Generally, he's in a pretty good mood, so I wouldn't mind being through the whole teething stage. He has started to get a little shy and sensitive around strangers, but it can be hard to predict. The last time we dropped him off at the church nursery, he was really upset, but today wasn't as bad. Last night, he only scowled at "Aunt" Shelli (a friend who is on Eric's 8th grade team), but last week he walked to her with open arms. All this to say, it's hard to predict what his reaction will be when we get home in six(!) short weeks, so don't take offense if he takes his time to warm up, but don't be surprised if he doesn't, either.

All in all, he's a whole lot of fun these days. He walks, "runs" and dances, climbs stairs, and goes down the slide. He loves to read books--almost as much as his big sibs--play peek-a-boo, and get tickled. He has a contagious little laugh that takes his whole body. He's pretty easily entertained (I think a stack of post-its can keep him busy for an hour), fairly predictable in terms of needs (food, sleep, or stimulation), and a great flyer. The tantrums he got into a few months ago have eased for the most part (though it is funny how he wants to do the full-on toddler-lay-on-the-floor-banging-my-head tantrum, but realizes it will hurt so he just pretends to!), and he's generally a pretty happy kid.

At this point, with the biggest transition/upset to routine just about six weeks away, I can only pray that we don't ruin the spirit of this kid. Because, to be honest, none of us knows what to expect.

He's about to move into his third home (and when I say "about to," I mean three months-give or take) and second country in less than two years. This may be the last time that he ever lives in the country in which he was born--how many of us can say that? And, in three months, he'll be immersed in another culture, community, and lifestyle that none of us are really prepared for. Pray for us, will ya? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

366 Project: Week Seventeen

Week seventeen of fifty-two? Are you fo' real? I've barely even made a dent in this thing! Although, I will say that it's a whole lot easier to remember to take a photo now, at the end of April, than it was a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, though, this week there are a whole lot of iPhone snaps. Whatyagonnado? The best camera is the one you have with you, and while I thought about bringing the big camera a couple of times this week, I probably wouldn't have used it anyway. The iPhone is the more inconspicuous way to go.

113/366: When it comes to an inconspicuous shutter noise, the big camera is the way to go since you can't silence the shutter on a Korean iPhone. Nonetheless, the minute he heard the camera, the quiet, peaceful moment was over. He was done reading and off to get himself into more trouble!

114/366: We spent Saturday morning at the Awana games on base. Cade wasn't sure that he wanted to go; he was afraid all of that running would make his tooth hurt, but five minutes into it, he'd forgotten all about that tooth!

115/366: Sunday night, we had dinner on a friend's rooftop to celebrate another friend's birthday. As always, we were the only ones who brought kids, but our kids like to mix it up with the adults. It was a beautiful night for a dance party on the rooftop! (photo cred goes to Eric; apparently he's wanting the recognition now!)

116/366: On Monday, I was all about the "eating down," so I made a vegetable barley stew (which only made a slight dent in the barley and cost a lot in vegetables = eating down failure), so I also made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (made a good dent in the oatmeal and the chocolate chips = eating down success!).

117/366: We had friends over for dinner on Tuesday night, which was a ton of fun because they're hilarious, but with a baby and two toddlers (plus the big kids), it's always a little crazy. I remembered to load them up with LOTS of things they may or may not need, but I did not remember to take a picture. I did, however, remember to take a picture of the glorious spring day we were having on my walk to the grocery store. It was 85 on Tuesday! Woot!

118/366: Because we've lived in this neighborhood and complex for such a short time, I'm finding myself putting in some effort to document it. That's the side view of our building.

119/366: On Thursday, Reece and I took what I hope will be our last trip to the hospital here. He needed one last vaccination before we leave (since I opted out of the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine). Actually his next vaccine is due the day we fly out, so that's convenient, right? Anyway, I have hated nearly every trip to this hospital, because even after all of this time, it just doesn't all make sense to me. Why can't my baby and I just stay put and have everyone come to me like I'm used to, instead of us running around, forgetting where to go and in what order to do everything? Yet strangely, as I left today with official immunization records in hand, I found myself getting a little misty-eyed leaving the hospital where my baby was born, never to return again. Explain that one to me, will ya?

This weekend, we'll be heading to KAIAC soccer games, as our school is hosting the girls' soccer tournament, and my friend that I used to coach with is in town. We'll also be going to a middle school dinner, doing homeless ministry on Sunday and trying to get the house cleaned up and cleaned out for Nancy and Michael to get here on Wednesday and the school rummage swap on Friday. Things will no doubt be a little quieter here next week with company in town, but I'm going to try and get Reece's 15-18 month post done before that completely escapes me as we enter Crazy Town (otherwise known as May!). Hope y'all are having a great week!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Things We're Not Going to Miss

So, at this point in the year, with roughly six weeks left here in Korea, it's safe to say that emotions are running high. Kennedy had many, many breakdowns over the weekend--some more easily explained than others--and as Eric and I watched the calendar fill up, it got real for us, too. Suddenly, I feel like every conversation is more nostalgic than the last. Everything has a bit more of a "last" feeling than it did a month ago. One day it feels like six weeks will fly by in a blink, and the next day it feels like time is standing still. Of course, we all feel like this at some point, but this year it feels like it's on a grand scale. And so, it felt like it was time to put together a little post on some of the things from this life that we're not going to miss...(in no particular order)

1. Apartment life: there is no getting around it. We do not love apartment life. And to be honest, we've had it pretty good. We lived for four years on the first floor--praise God! Because the last year of living with upstairs and downstairs neighbors? It hasn't helped my graying hair any. Trying to keep the kids semi-quiet in the mornings is torture. Listening to construction, and couples fighting, and kids screaming at all hours from upstairs is miserable. Just as we make our downstairs neighbors miserable (minus the construction). The in-apartment announcements are more rare in this complex, thankfully, but they still wake Reece up every time they happen, and since I can't understand what's being said anyway, it's just annoying. Having to go up ten flights every time you need to get something out of the car can be infuriating. When you forget something minor, trust me, you just leave it.

2. Cars and driving: I could probably break this up into about four categories of their own, but instead I'll just make it one long one. I'm so sick of incredibly tiny parking spaces and not being able to open car doors. I go out of my way to find spots where we can open the doors on the driver's side (and therefore Reece's car seat is on that side, too), only to get out and discover that there's a post blocking Reece's door! Agh! Parking lots in general are annoying because whatever the floor is coated in, makes for extremely loud noises when cars are backing in to spaces (because that's what you do--always); it's just one of those noises that grates on your nerves. Secondly, The fact that streets are intended to be two way, but they are lined with parked cars on either side, leaving space for only one direction of traffic are infuriating! The way I weave in and out of parked cars is enough to make me carsick! And then there are the intersections with no rules. What would be a four way stop in the States is just an intersection with no stop signs. You just inch forward until there's space to make a break for it. And if you don't do it quickly enough? You'll get honked at, of course. Whatever you do--don't yield! Lastly, there are the motorcycles that use sidewalks as a street, and the cars parked on the sidewalks, so that there isn't room for any pedestrians at all, let alone those pushing a stroller!

3. Air quality: I gripe about this one all.the.time, so I won't go into it, but I'm really excited to live in a place where I don't have to check the air quality before sending the kids outside, opening a window, or figuring out our plans for the day. Sure, weather affects all of those things, but I'm pretty accepting of that. What I can't stand is when you have the perfect weather (for whatever activity you're hoping for--namely biking at this point), and have to alter your plans because it's not healthy to be doing any sort of athletic activity outside. Yuck.

4. The smells: I'm pretty sure this one pertains to any foreign place you visit; they're just not the smells you're used to. Here, it tends to smell like sewage from time to time (where I grew up, it smelled like manure quite often!), garbage is another regular smell (see #6), and another one of the perks of apartment life is smelling what everyone else is cooking. So I could be baking cookies, but the neighbor is caramelizing onions. There are several Indian families who live here, and if you're not already aware, Indian food has a strong smell! (Though I'll admit it comes from our place about once a month, too.) Koreans smell like kimchi, cigarette smoke, or perfume (which seems to always be flowery--not one of my favorites), and so the elevator often smells like one of those or all of them, combined with some food garbage. Lovely. (ps: Koreans think Americans smell like butter and cheese--and apparently that's a problem for them! Can you imagine?)

5. City noise: Another given. And also not exclusive to Korea, of course, but I am just so sick of living in the city and being overstimulated by noise noise noise all the time. Sirens, honking, traffic, singing, music, dogs barking, babies crying, noise in the hallways, the noise from the elevator/stairwell (though it's a million times better in this apartment!), neighbors arguing. Give me all the cows and chickens. I'm so done with city life!

6. Garbage: This is one of those things that we've gotten used to, but we definitely won't miss! All of the trash sorting, the special garbage bags, having a closet full of recycle (at least you can't see through the doors in this apartment)...we are not going to miss this! Give me a garbage can and a garage (of my own), please! The lack of garbage cans in public--so I feel like I'm always holding onto some piece of trash, or more likely, throwing it in the diaper bag. I won't miss that! In fact, it was one of the first things I wrote about when we got here. (Remember when my posts had no pictures? Sad.)

7. Messy closets: Okay. I'll admit this one is really stupid. But I'm so sick of Korean closets. There are no shelves (though again, our new apartment is vastly superior to the last in the area of closets!), and they're usually not built in. So, Kennedy has this huge wardrobe with one shelf. Our closets are a mess all the time! We've tried various ways to organize them (especially Kennedy's), but nothing works very well for long. I just can't wait for normal bedroom furniture!

8. Celebrity status: The good news is that as the kids have aged, this has become less and less of a problem. The bad news is we had another kid just as the big kids were outgrowing this. I will say that no one has handed Reece hard candy yet (knock on wood), and no one has taken their picture with him yet. Everyone still comments on how cute he is and they do like to touch him, but he's cute in any country, right?

9. Spitting, coughing, and chewing: I really probably shouldn't comment on this one. Actually, I probably shouldn't put it out there at all because it's a cultural thing, and it's their thing, and who am I to say there's something wrong with it? Yet, here I go. It just grosses me out. Koreans show their appreciation for and enjoyment of food by chewing it loudly, slurping it loudly, just plain eating loudly. It's such a part of their culture that you'll even see it on Korean dramas. It's just what they do. And it also translates to gum chewing--loud, smacky, bubbly. It gives me the chills just to think about it. I have (an older adult) friend who admitted that if her taxi driver is smacking his gum, she'll pay the 3,000 won (about 3 dollars) and get out of the cab and wait for another one because she hates it so much! And she's cheap! Spitting is also a constant among Korean men, and it's disgusting.

10. Grocery shopping: This is another one that we have just gotten used to over the course of the last five years, but I'm still not going to miss grocery shopping here. Whether it's Costco (still stressful!), E-Mart (just inconvenient), or the neighborhood store (that never has everything you need and always includes a walk uphill both ways), I'm just not going to miss it. There's always this mental battle--can I get everything I need and still be able to carry it all home? What are the rules for buying produce? What needs a sticker and what doesn't? What day/time is it? How packed is the store going to be? Do they have the international ingredients I need? Do they have the kinds of milk I need? Just this past Sunday, I drove to two different stores that were both closed before finding one that was open, but they didn't have everything I needed, and I had to park a ways away and juggle heavy bags. Nope. Not gonna miss it.

I don't really know whether or not writing out this kind of stuff is healthy at this point. As much as I have been reading about repatriation, I am confident that I'm not doing all of the prep work "right"; we're still going to have a mess of a family to put back together in the coming year. But, I know that this article cracked me up (as poorly as it was written...poor guy writing in a second language), and I know that there are going to be days when it seemed like life in Korea was easy--way easier than life in Texas is at the moment--and I'm going to need things like this to look back on. I'm going to need that validation that life was not always easy here, just as life will not always be easy there. Life just isn't easy. Anywhere. But, boy, the grass is always greener, isn't it?

(I thought these pictures of the beautiful sunset in Guam might calm me as I wrote all of this out, but it didn't really work. Or maybe it's the yelling and honking outside the window. Maybe they'll calm me when I look back on this six months from now!)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

366 Project: Week Sixteen

The crazy train has arrived, people. I was just glancing through the calendar and realized that we have plans every weekend until we leave. I suppose that shouldn't surprise me...this isn't my first rodeo. (Don't tell my students about all the cliches, okay?) That's just how life is this time of year, and I'm sure that it isn't unique to us. It's just kind of surprising how quickly it sneaks up on me. One minute, we're filling in the calendar with dinners with friends, and the next minute we're booked six weeks out, and we still have plenty of things to fill in. Whoops.

106/366: Friday was a professional development day, so the kids were home. They had been talking about having a picnic with our friends/neighbors for months, and they were finally able to pull it off. It was a perfect day for it, too!

107/366: Saturday was the senior game for soccer, the final sports season. I started coaching these girls in the fall of our first year; it's bittersweet seeing them as seniors!

108/366: The third grade held a market day on Monday, so Kennedy and I spent Sunday afternoon making popcorn and packaging it in cute little bags to sell to her friends with their "3D bucks," We made pumpkin spice and buttered, and they were delicious! It was a fun little activity with my girl!

109/366: The benefits of what a friend calls "eating down" (when you stop buying groceries and instead come up with crazy meals to finish everything left in the fridge and cupboards), are making things like cookies. We had a last 1/2 cup of shortening and an unopened bag of Hershey Kisses, so Peanut Blossoms were the obvious choice!

110/366: This kid continues to floor me. I was blown away by him as he read his book to me on Tuesday. First, he explained how he was able to identify the main character because he changes, and then he pointed out the repeated phrase in the book and how it was used in different contexts. Lest you forget that he's a #firstgrade boy, he chose to read to me from the top of the dryer, of course.

111/366: Lilacs are in bloom, and I couldn't pass up a chance to take pictures of another flower!

112/366: We'll call this #wheninTexas. A friend from church heard we are moving to Texas, so he brought this bolo tie for Cade. The best part is that he wore it to school on Monday (all day!) with his school polo. That kid.

Four out of seven taken with the big camera--it's been a while since I've managed that! Nonetheless, I still haven't edited anything on the computer...I'm really going to have some catching up to do to get the collage done. But now, it's time to rest before we head into a busy weekend!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Then We Came Back from Guam

Our second full day in Guam was a little more slow to start (not because the kids slept in or anything!) because the weather was good, so the kids were pretty content to hang out at the pool as long as we would let them!

(I had to document how funny our room setup was...Both rooms had two beds that were bigger than twins but not as big as full. They were great for the kids, but Eric felt the need to push ours together. The crib that finally showed up for our last night was to the right, basically at the foot of our bed, and it wasn't a pack'n'play, but a full size crib. Bigger than the one we have here in Korea! I took pictures of Reece's previous makeshift bed, too, but I must not have edited them...)

After we all spent several hours in the pool, it was time to head back to the room for lunch and Reece's nap.

And, then the kids and I headed back to the pool. Because we were in Guam. It's what you do. It's what you should do.

After we came back, then Eric headed back out with the kids because Reece was still asleep. Probably not the smartest thing in terms of sun exposure, but what can you do? We were in Guam.

After Reece woke up, we got cleaned up, picked up some snacks, and then hit the road, heading north this time.

We first made a stop in Tumon to find the Guam Coffee Company that I had seen our first night when we were looking for somewhere to eat dinner. I had originally wanted another Starbucks mug to add to my collection, but when I tried looking up directions, I found there are no Starbucks on Guam. They're afraid that they would shut down the little coffee shops, so I was on the lookout for a little coffee shop. It turned out that it really was little, and there is only one location of Guam Coffee Company. After driving both directions down the road, I was ready to give up and move on, when Cade spotted it for me. I was so proud of him! My new mug doesn't exactly fit in with my existing collection, but it does have a story to tell!

We drove up to Two Lover's Point to see what could be seen. It's a big tourist spot with a kind of "Romeo and Juliet" love story, a legend of the Chamorro people, natives of Guam. It was very popular with the Koreans!

There were even walls of locks that reminded us of Seoul Tower; we felt right at home!

Eric really wanted everyone to stand and pose for the camera...

And it worked out so well! haha!

After Two Lover's Point, we headed for dinner at the restaurant that we looked for the first night but were unable to. We had driven right by it a couple of times. Whoops.

Meskla Dos is a Chamorro fusion restaurant that has big, unique burgers, as well as some of the more traditional Chamorro foods. So, Eric, of course had a burger. The french toast slammer. A hamburger patty between two giant slices of french toast and topped with a fried egg. Served with a side of maple syrup and garlic aioli. Of course.

I had the tasakos (Chamorro barbecued pork) served with red rice and finadene dinanche (a spicy sauce to eat with the pork) and cole slaw. 

After dinner, we were headed to the Chamorro Village market, which happens every Wednesday night, but only Wednesdays, so it was kind of a given that we would have to go.

On the way, we were able to catch the sunset over Agana Bay as we drove from Tumon to Hagatna. It was pretty incredible, and I'm so glad we stopped!

It would not have been the same from the road, though we did continue to enjoy the various colors in the sky for the remainder of the drive. We needed to get back on the road, if we wanted to be able to spend any time at the market before Reece hit his wall, though I think the kids would have been content to play in the ocean for as long as we let them.

The market (and parking lot) was already packed by the time we got there, and it was a little tricky to maneuver around with the stroller. I'd read that would be the case, but it was just too hot, and he was too heavy to put him in the Ergo, so we made the stroller work.

Most people were eating there, but we were stuffed (and while all of the food looked good, I was glad we'd done what we had--standing and eating is just not worth the battle with the kids!), so we settled for fresh fruit smoothies to keep us cool. They were delicious!

The kids got to pick up their souvenirs made by local artisans (a rubberband gun for Cade, of course, and little bags for Kennedy because that girl likes her bags!), and that was by far, our biggest interaction with local people as the market is full of locals and tourists alike. I did feel like the biggest downside to our renting a car was the lack of interaction with the locals. When you ride public transportation, you're surrounded by all kinds of people, you hear the local language, and you hear how everything is pronounced, but we left without having had much of that. (I will say we saw very few white people--maybe 2 or 3 families? There were a lot of locals at the Inarajan Pools and at the Chamorro village, but aside from that it seemed we only saw Japanese or Koreans at our resort and at Two Lover's Point.)

Our last day was spent packing up, swimming in the pool, taking some pictures, and getting to the airport. We accidentally got lost (not really, but we drove way out of our way and ended up with little extra time), and ended up having to eat at Jack in the Box before returning the rental car. Lucky for Eric, returning the car and getting the shuttle to the airport were quick because after we checked in for our flight, but before we checked our baggage (must be a Guam thing), he discovered that he didn't have his phone. After more than an hour of him running all over the airport and trying to make phone calls (while I sat with a very, very cranky baby!), he finally returned to us with phone in hand (it had slipped out of his pocket in the rental car and was underneath the seat!), and we were still able to get on our flight in time. It was pretty stressful there for awhile, but all is well that ends well!

By the way, the flight itself was okay. We ended up bribing the big kids to sit together in front of us with half a Snickers bar, so Eric and Reece and I had three seats. Reece was really sick and miserable by this point, which actually made things a little easier, I think, because he had no desire to get down and run up and down the plane aisles. He still wasn't really eating anything, so after an hour of just being tired and miserable, we gave him his milk, strapped him in the Ergo, and he slept for the duration. The only problem was how stinking heavy he's gotten, and the fact that the Immigration line was well over an hour long! The hardest part was definitely after our plane hit the ground, but all in all it was a really great trip, and I'm incredibly grateful that we got to go on one last trip!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...