Saturday, August 13, 2016

Perseverence and the making of a football mom

We home school our children, so I'd secretly delighted that my husband's dream of having high school football players wasn't going to happen. While I enjoy watching the occasional college football game, I never delighted in the idea of my boys being on the field, with all those other boys trying to hurt my precious children.

I remember sitting in a little waiting room while my youngest two boys were in their weekly speech therapy session at our local elementary school. On the wall was one of those motivational posters that list positive character traits. I only remember one of the traits, because I thought, there is no way that a school can instill that trait. It was perseverance. I always remember how to spell perseverance, well persevere, because it contains the word severe. And that's how you gain perseverance, you have to go through something severe to get there. And I laughed at that little sign in a public elementary school, thinking there is no way our society will intentionally allow children to go through severe circumstances in order to instill a quality character trait.

My favorite scripture regarding this is found in Romans 5:  3Not only so, but wec also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I love it, and I don't. Because I personally kind of avoid hard things, although I've done them, and generally I find that in the end, it didn't seem that hard, because God was right there carrying me through it.

The reason I'm talking about this, is because I'm watching my son right now, learn this lesson. And I could not be more proud of him. And I told him, regardless of how this ends, I will forever be proud of him, because he is overcoming obstacles others have never dealt with. Around the age of  9 we noticed that he was gaining weight pretty rapidly, it took a bit before we finally learned that his thyroid was out of wack. And while we got his numbers under control, and he grew to an amazing 6'2" and still going. His weight never quite stabilized like we hoped.  Kids teased him and he was definitely aware of his size as being the biggest in the room. When we moved here to Korea he decided to make some changes. He gave up soda, and started hitting the gym 3 days a week with his dad, and then revealed he planned to join the Football team.

He hasn't played football since he was 8 and won the regular season flag football championship. Yesterday was the very first practice. He lasted 15 minutes before becoming overcome with heat and puked in a trash can. He tried to go back out, but seeing spots sent him back to the sidelines.

Lesser men, would have quit, and decided football wasn't for him.  On the way home he said, "Do you think S would want to play with me?" Not only was he going back, he wanted his brother on the team with him.  He realized he hadn't drank enough water, and determined that he would drink water for the rest of the day and make sure to drink enough before practice today.

At 3:30 he and his brother headed out the door for today's practice. My husband and I arrived to watch the last 30 minutes of practice and they were both going strong.  The last 20 minutes were for running. I watched as he went across the field in 10 yard increments, having to drop and do push ups for false starts, without quitting. His teammates encouraging him as the recognized how hard it was getting. Then as they reached the other side, he realized his body was done. So not only did he push himself farther than he thought he could go, he had the maturity to know the signs of when he needed to stop. He only missed the last sprint of practice.

As a parent, I wanted to see the road easy before my children, that life would always treat them kindly. But, that isn't the way it works. But more importantly, I want them to be people of Godly character. And if this is how God is going turn my son into a Man of Character, then give me the Green and White pompoms and "Go Warriors!!"

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Dresser :)

I had posted on facebook soon after we arrived asking for help choosing a color for a dresser we shipped over to use as our entertainment center. Normally my husband would pitch a fit anytime I talk about painting wood furniture, but this got so scratched up, that even he agreed it needed a paint job. Unfortunately, I thought I had good before shots when I started painting and it turns out this is the only one I have:

The dresser can be seen to the right. I had three colors in mind, all from Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint. Either a deep green (boxwood), navy (artissimo), or white (farmhouse white). The vote was pretty evenly split though between navy and green. I loved the green and had used it to paint my grandmother's dining table.

However, in the end I felt maybe something new was it was.

When I painted my grandmother's table I used an additive to keep the milkpaint from flaking. I decided to take my chances this time and see what happened. I also chose to keep the top wood color and sanded it to take the edge off some of the boy's carvings, and to remove a few water rings before using hemp oil to revive the wood. Over all I love the final product. What do you think?

The first coat looked more slate than navy.
The painting is finished, and it's still not the Navy I was looking for.
Oooh, and it's getting chippy :).

hemp oil to the rescue!
I covered the entire piece with hemp oil,
which seals, and deepens the paint color. Perfect!
What a difference the hemp oil makes!
One drawer chipped very heavily,
after living with it a bit, I love it!

The finished product!
Even my husband approved (although he isn't as fond of the chippy)

This is a very forgiving product it has a nice matte finish and is SO forgiving.  Check out
Miss Mustard Seed for even more great ideas and makeovers.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Nesting: Part 1: the generic army apartment

I'm a nester. I love to make our home personal, cozy, warm, inviting, comfortable, and all those other phrases the shelter mags use. I follow blogs, read magazines and even buy books about the topic. So now, it's time to share with you some of our home away from home! First off are some pictures of our home after we received our Unaccompanied baggage. meaning we had a few comforts, but not much.
Our entry hall. We actually have two of these.

View from entry hall. This is all government loaner furniture that we kept.
This is actually one of my favorite features of our home,
because we are high, we have an amazing view of the mountains.
We purchased plants and plant stands in our first week here. Stateside we always keep a garden and put flowers out.

From the balcony, it's a very generously sized room.

Two views of the kitchen. The right side originally had two tall cabinets, but we swapped one tall out for a counter height cabinet from the laundry room. Who knew that cabinetry could be so easily reaaranged. I've heard of some folks doing a full on switch of the kitchen and laundry.

Kitchen left side, yes it's small as it looks and
o your eyes aren't deceiving you, there is only one drawer in the entire kitchen.

This is the VERY long hall that runs the length of our apartment.
From this angle, you are looking at the dining room we just left. The main bathroom and four of the bedrooms open off of this hallway, with the 5th bedroom door frame being visible on the right of the picture. The double doors on the left are one of two large closets located on the hall. Which are very nice for storage.

These are views of the master bedroom, with the government issue queen size bed. 

 Child bedroom 1, no A/C in this room.

Child room number 2

Child room number 3
(I did warn him that I was taking pictures for the blog the day I took these.)

And Child room #4, it's the smallest, but he's so happy to have his own room, he doesn't mind.

And finally the last living area. We didn't keep any of the furniture in this room. We also didn't put a TV in our unaccompanied baggage, so the couch was arranged to face the computer screen :).
There is an area to the right that goes back about 4-5 feet, which is where an arm chair is placed.
And we have a second balcony. Off of this room is also a laundry room, which was formally a kitchen, it has a nice sized pantry that we use as the army closet. Unfortunately, I forgot a before picture, but it's pretty much like the other kitchen just with a washer and dryer instead of refrigerator and stove.

I also forgot to get pictures of the bathrooms, so I'll include those in the next blog of how it's no longer generic. But, here are some quirky little features that wouldn't otherwise get featured.

Flower shaped light covers in both large living areas.

The curtain tracks, over every window

The triple level windows: a screen, a clear glass sliding panel,
and a frosted glass sliding panel. These are in every bedroom.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

-the familiarity of the unfamiliar.

a free concert at the lake
I mentioned on facebook the other day, that my sweet husband had a thought as we were walking toward Suseong Lake after a delicious dinner, that it seemed as though we were walking in a foreign country, then he realized "We ARE walking in a foreign (to us) country." That may seem like an odd realization for an American living in South Korea, but I completely understood his sentiment. While there are MANY things that are new and that we don't understand (every street sign we see). This place has become our home and there are many things that have quickly become familiar. We have learned the bus schedule between posts, we have familiar paths to places we go regularly, we understand the subway system, and have favorite snacks, drinks, and shops. There are certain businesses that we see wherever we go, like "Angels-in-us Coffee", some form of market on every street, "Paris Baguette", and chicken restaurants on every block.

There are places that remind us of home as well (even if the menu doesn't)

Yup the Golden Arches are nearby, except I don't think that I've ever seen a shrimp burger on the menu before.

I'd rather see a Krispy Kreme..

I doubt the big gulp is as big as in the US

But, of course, in the land of coffee shops (often multiple on one block)
Starbucks is going to have a presence.

Of course each of these places have a local spin, like macaroons instead of Lemon pound cake at the Starbucks, but it's a nice touch of the familiar in a world where every outing is an adventure. We're starting to develop some favorite Korean foods like Bulgogi, KimBap, Japchae, and of course the many varieties of ice cream treats that you can pick up at the corner markets for less than 1000 won.

We have also begun navigating the Korean medical system. As we establish follow up care for Keilah. Her next appointment wasn't due until September, but since I don't know how long things take, and it seems new doctors want more involvement than "ok, nice to meet you, I'll see you in a year". I went ahead and jumped on getting referrals. Which happened quickly. There are three hospitals in Daegu that accept TriCare, we had visited one, but our doctor referred us to another based on her patients past experiences. Each of these hospitals have an International Health Service Center. This center provides English speakers to help with your medical care. In our case, the Health center called us when they received the referral and made our appointment. We were told to arrive early, and when we couldn't quite find their office, they walked to meet us. The individual from the office helped us with our paperwork and then went with us through every step of the appointment. She interacted with all the office staff and then explained what would be happening next and making all follow up appointments as well as scheduling tests. In our case, after we met the doctor he ordered a PET scan and the regular blood work (which actually seemed like more than she's had before, as they took several tubes this time).
Koreans understand customer service-Full coverage hospital PJ's and slippers
instead of the American style no-coverage gown.

Interesting thing about bloodwork, instead of checking in and then being taken to a room, all the attendants are seated at a long counter, and you sit in the waiting area facing them, in what is basically a wide hallway. You go up to the counter, confirm your information, and give your blood while sitting across from them, much like when sitting for a manicure. It was quite efficient and it turns out Korean children don't like giving blood any more than some American kids. One poor child had to be held by 3 attendants to get his necessary work.  When we returned two days later for the PET our same attendant met us and escorted us to the area and helped explain each step. Since it's a two hour procedure, she didn't wait for the whole thing, and then the front desk called her when we were done, so that she could explain that we were now free to go, and gave us the appointment for getting results-dependent on another referral. This was the one part that confused me and required a trip to the Tri-care liaison. While we would get a referral state side that was good for either multiple visits or 1 year, in order to make sure that our PCM is getting up to date information on their patients care the specialist reports to the PCM and requests an additional referral with explanation of the need. They also send all tests/results in ENGLISH so that they can be scanned into your permanent record that will travel back with us to the states. Once I understood that purpose, I appreciated the extra step. And fortunately it required nothing from us. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


I can't believe that we've already been here one month, celebrated 2 birthdays, attended 3 Korean classes and enjoyed 4 weekends and walked 10,000 miles. Ok, so the mileage is a bit of an exaggeration, but my feet feel like it has been. We are enjoying this new city life and making the necessary adjustments. We are learning to shop smaller and more frequently at the Commissary. To buy what we can carry (and call a cab when we don't). The oldest among us are pretty confidant traveling the subway. We can make necessary purchases on the economy (with occasional pointing and holding up of fingers) and feel safe wandering the town at any time of the day.

We have bought some familiar foods and unfamiliar snacks on the economy at the local markets. I am still working up to buying meats and some of the more unfamiliar vegetables and fruits. We do however enjoy the "street" food, and Mike and the kids have tried Squid on a stick, along with the "meat on a stick", and various fried offerings we've tried, dumplings, and sweets. We've learned that if it's read it's most likely to be spicy and if it's corn, Koreans will put it in/on everything, including ice cream.

Here are some highlights from the first month:
1)Attended a lantern festival in honor of Buddha's birthday
(Buddha's birthday is like Derby back home, and is celebrated by 2 weeks worth of festivals)

2)Attended another, smaller street festival on the river with lots of food vendors
and well done displays that were amazing when illuminated for the evening.

3)Took ourselves out to a ball game! What a blast! Each player has his own theme song that is played and sung by the fans when he is at bat, led by cheerleaders. Cheerleaders! at a baseball game. It kept the entire event much livelier than stateside.

4) We've seen 2 different movies and of course got snacks (regular and caramel popcorn, squid, and nachos).
Koreans manage movie attending much better than we do. Seats are assigned at the theatre, and a website tells you whether there are good seats (center-5th row back) fair seats (sides) or poor (first rows) available at the time you want to attend.

5)Subway riding, we've become pretty proficient at navigating the subway and feel between our feet and the subway we can make it anywhere we need to go.
6)Daiso! We are already missing this store when we return in two years. Think Dollar Tree, but nicer. This is a Japanese chain and everything is 5000 won or less (less than $5 US). From kitchen to gardening, hygiene to craft supplies, this store has a bit of everything and it's all CUTE.

7) Seomun Market: The oldest market (and largest) in Daegu. It is comprised of several buildings as well as all the paths and alleys around them. 2 floors of one large warehouse are dedicated to fabric. It was amazing. Along with a million sock vendors, clothing, food, and that was just the 1 section we visited. We briefly went down to the dish floor of another building and needed to leave. This will be a place we return to explore many times.

8)Memorial day cookout with new friends. A good old fashioned American potluck
to celebrate our freedom and remember those who gave it all while in Service.

9) Korean classes. We've all started taking the introductory Korean class, led by an intern. It's quite the adventure as we learn to speak and write Korean. I'm having the hardest time remembering that Ne is Yes, and have agreed to more than one thing I meant to disagree with!  We've all learned to say hello and thank you, which is a good start.

Most of these adventures are occurring on our weekends.  After our second weekend I mentioned needing some "stay home" time and Mike quickly said "No! We have less than 100 weekends left!" Well, when you put it that way....

We are beginning to establish some routine and the kids are back to their books. The move has pushed 3 of their "end of school" pictures  (and graduation) back a few months. But that's OK. It's one of the reasons we choose to homeschool. We are able to embrace this life, without sacrificing their education. The younger boys are on sports teams, I'm serving on the local PWOC board, J and Mike are going to the gym 3 nights a week faithfully, we have found our chapel home, K has joined the choir and the older 3 are all attending youth group. Which is a HUGE thing for this family, as my older two have not had the greatest experience in the past with organized church youth programs (pretty ironic-given their father was a youth pastor prior to the military).

The only thing missing is our stuff and our car to help us complete the transition of making Korea our Home, at least for the next 22 months.

I'd love to hear from you! So be sure to leave a comment :)

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Big Trip! Part 2

finally catching a snooze
Our last day in Seattle started at 6 AM, I'm not fond of early rising, but we needed to get our stuff packed up and get on the road to meet Rebekah and her kids. She was taking a ferry over to meet us and we needed to pick up our luggage and get it all to the USO luggage room, before we met her.

The USO, SeaTac has the MOST amazing USO! They have a LOT of military traffic through there, and big Patriot Express flights every Sunday and Tuesday. They provide an area for eating, and lots of yummy snacks and drinks for weary travelers, a luggage room, where you can safely leave luggage for the day (no overnights though) and plenty of recliners, several computers, a sleeping room, a family room for entertaining littles, a game room, and a movie room. Oh, and showers if you need them, including towels and toiletries.  All of this is provided to active and retired military and their dependents at No Cost!

I planned to drive into Seattle, spend the day sight seeing, and then get back to
the airport by 6 to return the car (only way to get my great deal!). The kids and I would then try to get a little rest and eat before checking in for our flight at 2 AM, yes, that's right we had to check in at 2.

A view from the window.

Since Mike had made this journey before us, he had some recommendations. The first being, to get our luggage down to the ticket counter around 1, so that we could be first in line as the tickets are done at that time. That would also allow us to get back up to the USO first to catch some rest before the 8:30 flight.  And he was right, I went and gathered our luggage before they made a call and hauled the kids down with me (Soldiers can check everyone in by themselves, but they weren't sure if that would work for dependents traveling alone). We were the second in the family line. We had to take ALL of our luggage so that it could be weighed, as well as giving our personal weights so that they would have enoug fuel to get us to Japan. We were not getting the Anchorage layover that Mike had.  Once again, the prayers paved a way for us and we were right in the front of the plane on the bulkhead. I know there is some debate as to whether these are good seats. But, for Justus and I they were great. It also worked well, because J and A were the most nervous about flying over ocean, so not having a view eased their tension a bit. We both had aisles, with Asher between us. Then Keilah and Shepherd were next to us sharing the window. For a 9 1/2 hour FULL flight, we were quite comfortable. I could fully stretch my legs and 6'1" Justus had plenty of space.  Asher slept for the entire first half of the flight while the rest of us managed to dose a bit off and on.

Can you find the 11 year old?

We had a layover in Japan at the Air Force Base for about 4 hours before making the last jump to Osan Air Base in Korea. Since it was all the same people, we all took the same seats.  We arrived into Korea on time. In travel time it took about 16 hours, but according to the clock it was now 7 PM Wednesday evening, and we left at 8:30 Tuesday morning.  Our check through customs was pretty uneventful and we boarded our bus to Dragon Hill Lodge, where we had two rooms reserved, assuring all the big kids would have their own bed and I would share with Asher.

We could barely keep our eyes open as we rode the bus to the hotel. Once we arrived, Mike had told me we would need to catch a bus the next day down to Daegu, I stopped into the soldier support center to check the time and place before heading dragging all 18 bags and 5 tired bodies into the hotel.  We fell asleep quickly and all got a very good 8-9 hours of sleep. I even woke an hour before my alarm. We ate a delicious overpriced breakfast at the hotel (we'd been fed for the previous two days, so I didn't feel to bad) and lugged our stuff back across the lot.
Our first daylight look at South Korea.
Almost there, no bags and no one lost so far,
although a few items may still be in Washington.

Dragon Hill Lodge in the background.

This is when the only near mishap occured. When we got to the appointed spot, a bus had pulled up that was headed to Area 1. While I was returning the cart to the hotel. That bus left and an identical bus pulled up. This bus filled with duffles and soldiers. One soldier with a list asked about all the gear, and I said we're waiting for the Area IV bus, explaining we were sans soldier as he was already in country. Good thing he asked! The kids thought I knew the buses had switched, and I had missed that small fact. The soldier pulled off duffels and put them up on the bus, another soldier got us seats together up front, and they helped us load our luggage into the underbelly of the bus. I love how soldiers take care of each other and familes!  And away we went. Four short hours until we were reunited with Mike! I'm so glad for the good night sleep, we got a little tired, but there was so much new to see!

We stopped about half way for a potty/food break at a road side rest area. This was way nicer and more convenient than anything I've encountered in the states.

Mike had also told me that I'd see well kept mounds along the way that were family grave sites and maintained well, as ancestor worship is practiced here. This is just one of many spots that we saw and not nearly the fanciest.  I can't tell you where along the road any of these places are, but I hope you enjoy these glimpses into South Korea.

This Bridge was on the outskirts of Daegu. A high speed train had just crossed over as we came in and it all felt so futuristic, then you'd see something that would remind you that this is a culture with a long and rich history.

We arrived at Camp Walker to be welcomed by Mike and all the 19th ESC UMT, both his Chaplains, and all the Chaplain Assistants were there, as well as our new friend Sherrey Dennis, whom I met online via Fort Campbell friends. She came to give us a ride over to our new apartment on Camp Henry and then brought us a delicious dinner. Her kids came with her to deliver the meal, and her son immediately took Shepherd and Asher around to meet some of the kids that live in and near our building. Then one of our new neighbors brought up a bag of Korean treats, I'd met Lisa through facebook as well when I interviewed for a PWOC board position while still in KY.  It was wonderfully overwhelming! Unlike past moves, where we didn't really know anyone and arrived on our own. We arrived in Korea having what seems to be an instant tribe. Through Facebook I was able to "meet" several women already stationed here through our various PWOC and Chapel connections. It really is nice to arrive some place and to be welcomed like you belong.

Oh, PWOC stand for Protestant Women of the Chapel and is the women's ministry of military chapels. It's been around for 60 years, and I have participated for the last 12. This is where I go first to meet "my people". I know that I will find women who love Jesus and that alone gives us an instant bond of sisterhood.

My "welcome home" gift

Mike had received our unaccompanied goods the day before and had our beds all made and treats waiting for each of us in our rooms. So while, the furniture wasn't ours, it quickly began feeling like home. And we have the most fantastic view of the mountains! But, that will have to wait for the next post. :)