Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 2012 - Bikes and Trikes

Chris is out of town for a few days this week teaching some of Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families" at a seminar in Busan (pronounced Pusan).  And I WISH we were able to be with him! 

Busan is on the "bucket list" we have for Korea as a family; but sadly, this trip wasn't one that we could join him on due to accommodation constraints.  This is Chris' second trip there and he says he's really enjoying it. 

Busan is the second-largest city in Korea and about a six-hour drive from Seoul, at the southern tip of the peninsula.  Chris has had a chance to do some exploring, walks on the beach and hiking to one of the lighthouses there.  He has had a crazy busy week, and I'm really glad he's had some time to relax in between teaching.

Sunday September 30th is Chuseok (chu-sock), Korea's version of Thanksgiving.  Smarty-pants Victor corrected me when I said I thought Chuseok was on Saturday; no, it's on Sunday.  They had celebrations at his elementary school all week so he'd know! :)  Chuseok is a celebration of the harvest, and it's also a time for people to return to their hometowns and honor their ancetry and family heritage. 

Victor's school is a mix of American and Korean children, and so many of the little girls this week were wearing a hanbok to school, a traditional Korean gown that is very lovely.  Hanboks are worn on special holidays and events, such as a wedding.  They really are so pretty!

Our plan today was all about getting out and enjoying some of the sunshine on this Chuseok weekend. 

Victor's Cub Scout den was having a bike safety event, and we got in on the fun.  They first had safety and bike maintenance instruction and then let the kids ride through some obstacle courses.  Even Matty got in on the fun riding his little trike.  Cutie pie. :)

Then the group went off post and rode along the beautiful Han River.  Victor had a blast!  Even our Matty had lots of smiles pedaling around with the big kids.  And note to self, poor Matt needs a new bike helmet.  His helmet is for a smaller todder and, "owie, owie" according to Matt, too small for his growing head. :)

Some playground time in the afternoon, then pizza and a movie for dinner and we were done for the day. The leaves at the top of the tallest trees have started to turn and the nights are getting cooler. Korea in the fall is amazing, and I know the beautiful days won't last long. We fly in about two months and I think one of the things on my "what I will miss about Korea" list is just how perfect a Seoul autumn can be.

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012 - Say Cheese! :)

Today after school, Victor had a shoot for a company called Meli Melo/Samsung.  Victor had worked for them before, and the company reps were very funny and even let Victor keep one of the outfits.

We didn't get home until about 8:30, so it was a long day for two kiddos who always pack lots of energy!

Since Chris is out of town, I had to take Matty with us.  This was only the second shoot I've taken Matthew on, and for the most part he did pretty well.  The last hour was hard, but I can understand; it's difficult when you're a 3-year-old boy in a world with boundaries.

The staff were all very kind and accommodating to the boys, typical of Korea.  During the shoot, Matty would stand off to the side and coach Victor, telling him "Say cheese, Ditder!" and saying "good job" and "nice work."  It was hilarious to see his enthusiasm for cheering on his big brother.

Our boys are the best!  We have been so happy seeing the two of them and how they love each other.  Sure, they have squabbles like any sibling group would, but they are very good to each other, very kind and caring.  Victor is a perfect big brother for Matthew, very protective and inclusive of Matty in his older world.  Matthew thinks everything Victor does is interesting and cool, and can't get enough of his "Ditder."  They just genuinely like each other. 

And even how they talk to each other is different.  Victor won't "talk down" to his little brother; he teaches when he talks to him.  And Matty will patiently listen -- and sometimes go off and do his own thing anyway -- but yep, they have a special bond, different in their personalities, but very linked.

And we like them, too! :)

Oh, P.S.! We had Domino's pizza delivered for dinner break, and I love love love how Koreans eat pizza -- with sweet pickles! I am smitten with the pickles on pizza.

Deep smit.

In fact, Domino's has little pickle cups that come with the pizzas. So you place several slices of cold, crunchy pickles onto the savory slice of pizza and let the magic happen. :) Seriously, you have to try it!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 8, 2012 - Oh, Buddha, where art thou?

Today we enjoyed a beautiful hike along a river leading to Cheonggyesa Temple, a Buddhist temple that's over 300 years old.  It had threatened rain, but we figured the adventure was worth risking a rainshower.

The hike itself was really refreshing and fun. The river was calm enough that the boys could enjoy stops along the way to explore. Most of the trail was covered by tall leafy branches, so we were shaded and cool all day. We seemed so tucked away from crowds and noise that I found it interesting that I could even hear my own feet as we traveled along. Adventures in Seoul often take huge amounts of patience as you're one of millions of people going here and there or clamoring for a strap to hold on the subway.

But today was just us and a few kind Koreans on the trail. And my feet soaking up the dirt and climbing the rocks and loving every minute of it. :)

A fruit market behind the bus stop -- the owner gave the boys some fruit and posed for a pic. :)
When we got to the top of the trail, we had a feast for our eyes as we set about exploring the Buddhist temple.  We had to remind the boys to be quiet as several Koreans were in prayer and meditation throughout the temple site.

A bit tricky with Matty.

So a few Korean phrases came in handy today.

The buildings at the temple were "yepuda" -- very beautiful.  I really like the traditional architecture of Korea where even the rooftops and corners of raingutters are detailed and decorated. 

"Shim-bal, shim-bal!"  This apparently means shoes.  I didn't know this until it was pointed out to us by an elderly Korean gentleman that we were wearing our shoes on a particularly sacred spot of the temple site and had to remove them.

And finally, "shillehamnida" -- excuse me, pardon me, so very, very sorry.  Sometimes there are no words when your 3-year-old son sees a big, giant pillow in front of a statue and figures that's as good a place as any to take a rest.  I took a picture of his mercurial nature, not realizing until I stepped inside the building that Matthew had laid himself down at the foot of an altar and right in front of a group of Koreans in prayer and had disturbed their sanctuary. 

Shillehamnida, shillehamnida, shillehamnida... :(

On the way home we had some yakimandu (Korean dumplings) from a street vendor, cheese ramen, bibimbap (rice and veggies) and kimbap (Korean-style sushi) for lunch.  It was "mashisseyo" -- delicious!

All in all, a great "gajok" day -- a family day. :)

Tired Victor on the subway ride home.

Matty riding in style with his Daddy.

Love these kiddos. :)

A large ceramic pot of water -- everybody scoops and enjoys. :)


Friday, September 7, 2012

September 6, 2012 - Happy Birthday, Chris!

Today we celebrate our awesome Chris -- 49-years old and always adorable. :) 

He had a yummy birthday lunch at Vatos in Itaewon with some members of the hospital staff and his chaplain staff.  It was FUN and yummy!  Vatos makes something called kimchi fries which is french fries, kimchi, spicy gochujang sauce, carne asada....soooo good!  I thought it sounded crazy at first, but now I'm addicted.  We are trying to avoid carbs, so eating there was definitely a birthday treat.

He wanted a mint chocolate chip cake from Baskin Robbins, and I have to say I've never had an ice cream cake from them.

In a word, superb. :)

Thai food for dinner and a cute party the kids put together and our celebration was complete!  I took the kids to the store and stood back while they picked their own presents for Chris.  Victor actually found something Chris needs -- a digital clock with an iPhone docking station so he can listen to music in bed.  Clever find from Victor.  Matthew chose a Sponge Bob DVD and a remote control for the Apple TV.  I thought that was funny and insightful.  The Apple TV remotes are SMALL and we're always losing ours.  Pure genius to think of that, Matty!

Something that Chris shared with me this week reminded me that we never can be sure of our influence on others in both big and small ways.  Chris told me that a young man from our congregation came to see him at work and told Chris that, because of his influence, he's submitted his paperwork to serve a mission.  He asked Chris for help putting his military status on hold so he could be away for two years. 

As I look back at our time in Korea, which will come to a close in just under three short months, I can recall several instances where Chris has been here, not for something one would consider a "big" reason, but there are lots of personal stories where he's made a difference.  And they are each individual, one-on-one circumstances where Chris' caring provided a balm during a dark day for a soldier. 

Chillaxin' with a bowl of popcorn after church....
"And of some, have compassion, making a difference."

So happy birthday to my man! Love our life together. :)

Our Halloween costumes are here!!  So Hulk and Captain America attended today's party. :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3, 2012 - Everland, we ever love thee.

Victor's face says it all!
True to the way we roll here, we took advantage of an American holiday on a Korean Monday and enjoyed the Everland amusement park today, Labor Day -- no crowds!

We had a blast!  (Understatement of the year.)  This park is similar to Busch Gardens where so much attention is paid to the landscaping details that even if you weren't into the rides you could still enjoy something beautiful to look at along the way.

But oh, yeah, the rides. Victor's favorite by far was the giant rollercoaster with the 78-degree drop, the world's steepest. He rode it five times and would have done it more if we hadn't needed to see more of the park. They have an area just for Matthew's size and he was content to enjoy these rides over and over again. 

Chris has to be careful about injuring his neck, but most of the rides he was able to enjoy. We met some awesome families from our LDS branch there and enjoyed hanging out with some great people for a majority of our day.

(Cue Chili's baby back ribs song....)

So living in Seoul the last 20 months, there are times when American fare would really hit the spot, but nothing is in site! Korea can offer their version of American hamburgers and hot dogs....but sometimes you just want more, ya know? 

After a day at the park, we made a decision to drive about 20 extra miles to Osan Air Base where there's a Chili's.

HEAVEN. (Keep singing Chili's baby back ribs song....)

Everything tasted so good and authentic!! Chris had the ribs, I had a peppercorn burger and salad. And the chips and salsa -- my, oh, my! To say we enjoyed every bite would be like saying that winning the lottery, eh, it might be nice.

And the molten lava cake. To.die.for.

(You'd think we had never tasted food before!) :)

So after we enjoyed a taste of America, we piled back in the car and had a quiet ride back to Seoul. We got home around 11 p.m., which it broke my heart to wake up the boys for school the next day. They were wiped out!

It was our last trip to Everland, and it really didn't disappoint!

Victor being a good sport in Matty's territory. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 27, 2012 - First day of school. :)

Welcome to 3rd grade, Victor!  It's going to be a great year!  We sure love you!


August 25, 2012 - I'm a monster!

Life is never dull with Matthew!  Matty "decorated" himself today and came roaring into the living room declaring, "I'm a monster!"  He was so stinkin' cute, and thankfully the markers are washable. :)

Matt took a trip to the ER earlier this week where it was discovered a nasty virus had invaded his lungs, affecting his breathing and spiking his temperature.  We were given some meds, including an inhaler and a five-day dose of steroids to hopefully rid him of the virus and get his breathing normalized.  He can breathe OK, it's just a bit labored and he sounds like Darth Vader.

Because of this, we've kept him inside for most of the week.  It's also been quite rainy this week, so sick Matty or not, we were homebound!  We're told to expect a typhoon (Bolaven) this next week, so perhaps the rain is only a sign of bigger things to come.

The day we took Matty to the ER was also a day we had planned a trip to the Seoul Land amusement park with the boys.  Thanks to some wonderful friends, Victor was still able to go (thanks, Christiansen family!) and he had a blast!  So grateful for that blessing, otherwise Victor would have spent the only sunny day this week cooped up indoors with a sick little brother.

So all is well.  And even when he's not feeling well, Matty still finds ways to keep us entertained. :)