Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unresolved: 2009 Comes to Korea

I've never been very enthusiastic about New Year's resolutions, and this year is no exception. Resolutions are all the same: lose weight, save money, get more organized, stop drinking so much wine, blah, blah, blah. What a bunch of hooey. If I was going to do any of those things I would have done it in the 90's, which was the last time I had any remote chance of succeeding at any of them. Except for the wine thing; I probably never had any chance at that.

But I guess a fresh new year is a good opportunity to think about doing things differently, maybe even a little better. Maybe even a good time to set some goals. Why, I guess you could even call them resolutions. If you wanted to really irritate me, that is. So here are my thoughts, ideas, goals, and non-resolutions for the new year:

1. I am opposed to too much stuff and I always feel very virtuous when I haul a bag of junk out of the house. I like feeling virtuous. I hereby deem 2009 'The Year of the Hefty Bag'.

2. I hate clothes that are not quite right, and yet, I have far too many shirts that are just a little too short, shoes that are too big, and pants that gape just a little bit at the waist. I live in the land of cheap and excellent tailors and I wish to leave this land with a fabulous wardrobe. Or maybe just some clothes that properly fit my, ummm, perkily rounded, errrr, caboose.

3. Is there some as yet unknown physical law that renders me unable to provide vitamins for the boys and myself, brush their teeth twice AND feed the turtles and fish in a single 24-hour period? No? Rats. It must be one of those laws we already know about, like entropy, inertia, or gravity. Or all three. Tabled until 2010, awaiting scientific advances.

4. I have completely given up any hope of having organized paper files. Reasonably so, let me assure you. But I am holding on to the dream of having tidy computer files, and a backed-up blog. Please don't laugh at me, I'm pouring my heart out here...... Okay, I'm done now.

Happy New Year from Stories From Korea! I wish you all a happy and healthy 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wilma: The Obituary

This is my grandmother's obituary, written by my mother and her sister:

Long time Rainier resident Wilma Hackenberg, 95, passed away at home on December 14, 2008, of age related causes. She had been in declining health and was cared for by her loved ones with assistance from Longview Hospice. Mrs. Hackenberg was born July 15, 1913, in Portland, Oregon, the only child of Latvian immigrants. After her mother died, Wilma and her father moved to Rainier when he married a local widow. Wilma started second grade at the original Hudson Grade School, later used as the gym when her own children attended the newer two room school built on the site. She went on to graduate from Rainier Union High School in 1931.

Wilma married Joe Hackenberg in October 1934 and they lived on the homestead where they raised strawberries for over 40 years. All six of their children grew up working in the berry fields as well as many of the grandchildren.

During World War II the family made a temporary move to Southern California where Wilma joined other women filling war time vacancies in the factories. She was employed by a defense contractor and commended for her skill as a pipe cutter and had an opportunity to became familiar with tools she would later use on projects.

Wilma was active in the local community where she grew up. She volunteered to set up the hot lunch program at the grade school, procured the basic equipment and took her turn as cook until one was hired. Wilma regularly visited and assisted elderly neighbors, was a member of the Hudson Ladies Aid, and a precinct vote counter until she could no longer drive at night. Over the years many needing assistance have benefited from the Hackenberg’s generosity in providing shelter in the family home.

After they retired from the strawberry fields, Wilma and Joe delivered the Longview Daily News and Wilma was an Avon dealer for a number of years. She liked gardening and at one time had a large collection of dahlias. Later she was able to pursue her love of art, and was an original member of the Rainier “Art for Fun” group. She enjoyed pen and ink drawing, China painting, wood carving with the club in Longview and working with acrylic and oil paints. Wood burning on driftwood gathered at family outings was a special interest and she volunteered to teach that skill at Nasalle Youth Camp.

Wilma taught painting at Lower Columbia College senior outreach program for many years ending when she was 86 and developed severe vision loss. With her strong spirit and “can do” attitude she was able to continue working on art projects in her home with the aid of a magnifying machine until her stroke at age 92. She had many lasting friendships from the classes she took around the State and classes she taught. Art students of all ages came to “Wilma’s Paintin’ Place” in her home for lessons including a Portland TV newscaster whose session was shown on a local TV station.

Her family enjoyed Wilma’s many tales of country life in her youth – adventures walking to Hudson School and activities there, farm chores of rounding up the family’s free range cattle, dressing up in Civil War costumes and playing with memorabilia of that era, and the excitement of watching the occasional car go by on the nearby new Highway 30.

Even in declining health, Wilma’s strong spirit and determination were an inspiration to those close to her. She will be greatly missed by her many friends and loved ones. Wilma was preceded in death by her husband Joe Hackenberg in 1985, daughter Ruth Ring in 1996, and grandson William (Joey) Hackenberg in 2002. Survivors include sons Joseph Hackenberg and Robert Hackenberg, Rainier, OR; daughters Joan Linn, Forest Grove, OR; Carol McNeely, Renton, WA; Ina Hammon, Lake Oswego, OR; 17 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Arrangements for her “celebration of life” service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the “Ruth Kellar Book Fund Scholarship” at the Rainier Junior and Senior High School, Rainier, OR; Longview Hospice; or a charity of your choice

Monday, December 29, 2008


Everland is a very popular amusement park about 20 miles from here. Weston has recently showed some interest in it, and we decided to check it out. It was a little chilly today, but not too windy, so we all bundled up and hit the Korean Highway.

The park was fun; we went sledding on the manufactured snow hill, went on some rides, and ate dinner at a place called, no lie, 'Oriental Restaurant'.

Weston had a really good time, and it was fun for Shane, too. He liked the little train ride the best. He would have stayed on there all day but we rapidly depleted our meager supply of 500 won coins. The little booger was a challenge, though. He didn't want to stay in the stroller, and he didn't want to get in and out to go on rides. He was only happy running around like a puffy little tasmanian devil, but we had to put a stop to it after he mowed over the first two Korean families. Some of my friends actually take their kids there during the week, BY THEMSELVES. ALONE, with NO husband. Crazy, they are. CRAZY!

Some items of interest (to me, at least!):

1. On the shoulder along the highway, we passed about fifty tow trucks with drivers in them. Some of them were backing up.

2. At the park, one of the workers, dressed in a big, fat, shiny, white snowsuit, was sweeping up garbage. On roller skates.

3. The park is built into the terrain, and is very hilly. My legs were BURNING while pushing the stroller up hills.

4. The rides and shows all have English titles, but all other information is in Korean only. I guess it doesn't matter; it just makes me wonder if the carnies that put the rides together were drunk on soju or Colt 45.

5. Lloyd TOTALLY looked like a lumberjack. He had some serious stubble going, and he was wearing one of those red and black plaid shirts. I just wish I had a picture to prove it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our very own Christmas miracle

Joy to the world, Shane sleeps all night, la la la, la la la la la la........

That has such a nice ring to it; I should be a songwriter, hahahahahahaha.

But it's true! We had been waiting for just the right time to nightwean him, and we decided Christmas would be a great time because Lloyd would have several days off in a row. And it definitely had to be Lloyd; we have learned from experience that if I'm there he will scream until he gets what he wants. And let's face it, he gets what he wants sooner or later, so I figure it's much better to give him the nursies right away and spare myself the screaming. Very logical, right? So you can see, it had to be Lloyd.

We picked the day way in advance. We got all prepared. We braced ourselves for the screaming and the sleepless nights. And guess what? There was about 2o minutes of whimpering the first night, and after three nights, he was hardly waking at all.

Tra la la, tra la la la la la.......................

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa comes to Korea

Well, Santa figured out how to get here, and we don't even have a chimney, so I don't know what's wrong with that stupid hummingbird!

I don't know if we'll be seeing 'Santa' much anymore either- I'm not really enthusiastic about the whole Santa thing, so I can't manage to expend any energy keeping up the subterfuge. Another year's worth of deductive reasoning skills and Santa will bite the dust, I'm pretty sure. It's too bad in a way, because like quadrillions of parents before me, I find that the threat of no presents from Santa is a great way to enforce compliance, for at least a few weeks in December.

Christmas in Korea was nice: lots of fabulous presents and then ham and waffles for breakfast. This afternoon, we go to a party at the new 'Corner's' house. Tomorrow, we plan to go to Everland. Shane isn't feeling great, so we'll see how it goes. Happy Holidays from Stories From Korea!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Whitish-Brown Christmas?

This morning we woke up to a light coating of snow on the ground and the giant voice repeating 'Road Condition Amber' over and over. If your town doesn't boast razor wire or machine gun nests, you are probably unfamiliar with the giant voice. Let's just say the voice is very 1984 and I don't care for it.

When Lloyd came home for lunch, we took the boys and Weston's friend Hannah out sliding. Some of the snow had melted but it was still plenty slippery, and very fun.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The hit of the holiday season

Today we found one of the coveted yellow slips in our mailbox. When we retrieved our package, it was a very intriguing, long, triangular shaped box. Its lengthiness prompted one of my friends to ask, in front of a very long line of package seekers, 'Is that your new stripper pole?'

She got me good, because I was too discombobulated to think up a clever response. Of course, now that it is several hours later, I can think of several. Here's my favorite:

'No, it's that extra long breast pump you said you needed.'

As it turned out, it WASN'T my new stripper pole, but a fantastic laminated space map for Weston from his good friend Miss Cheryl in South Dakota. He LOVES it and spent at least an hour poring over it tonight. There is a tremendous amount of information on it, and he was thrilled to see that it includes Charon, Pluto's biggest moon. Weston is fascinated with Charon and is disappointed when it is left out of books or pictures, as it often is. Thank you, Miss Cheryl!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winner: Most Pathetic Tree

This is our Christmas tree. It looks slightly better in real life, but has several major flaws. First, and possibly worst, it is an artificial tree. We inherited it from some friends last year. There are few real Christmas trees here and most people use fake ones. Last year there were no fresh trees, to the best of my knowledge, but this year the Boy Scouts imported some from somewhere and probably made a killing on them. New sashes for everyone! But we decided to stick with our fake tree and just envy all those satisfied Boy Scout customers. Then, as you can see, we could only decorate the top third of the tree. The ornaments are plastic balls, pinecones and ribbons, because we can't have any glass. And, sadly, there are no presents. Grinch, thy name is Shane!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Things are looking up!

1. Had fabulous breastfeeding support group meeting today. Plenty of leftover pie, cupcakes and banana bread.

2. Traded Weleda tooth gel for some Starbucks ground coffee.

3. Fun playdate, with fruit flavored candy canes.

4. Finished onerous military-related chore in record time.

5. Night weaning commenced; Lloyd on duty equals unbroken sleep for me, as long as I have adequate hearing protection.

6. Sister says hummingbird is probably only for her; my sign is something different like a bird, butterfly or coin. None of those, but plenty of dirty diapers, dust bunnies and broken toys. Maybe my sign is one of those.

7. Two new Ridiculous but Reasonable statements collected: 'Now, be nice with that gun' and 'Don't pee on the answering machine.'

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bah Humbug.

1. Had to leave fun, prize-laden party early because of shrieking toddler. No prizes for me.

2. No yellow slips in mailbox.

3. Still no hummingbird.

4. Thrift store to be closed for entirety of holiday season.

5. Pile of reeking, vomitus covered bedding in laundry room does not appear to be shrinking.

6. Cheap decaf coffee is yucky.

7. Uninvited from playdate.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Has anyone seen Wilma's hummingbird?

This is an email I got from my sister to tell me my grandmother had died:

Emmy called me right around 3pm to say Grandma had passed. Shortly after that, I asked her for a sign, in the form of a hummingbird, why not, I thought?

A few minutes later, a small hummingbird briefly fluttered in front of the window right where I was looking out. No joke, she is really fast, that Wilma! Wow, I guess she made it to the other side OK!

Pretty impressive, right? My sister is in Seattle, where it hasn't been hummingbird season for months, AND they're having a cold snap. It had to be the sign. I thought, why her and not me? Why can't I see a hummingbird, too? So I asked if I could see it.

But so far, no luck. The only thing I can think of is that Wilma has never been to Korea, so she might be lost. If you see my hummingbird, please tell her where I live, and then let me know!

The best money I ever spent, continued

I thought it would be easy to think of purchases that were the best money I ever spent, but the ideas were surprisingly hard to come by. The few things I came up with either make my life easier (steam mop, baby sling) or are especially cozy or comfortable in some way (my favorite fuzzy brown coat that reminds me of Ranger, our chocolate lab, a down blanket I really like). There was one exception: my grandmother's stamp collection.

My grandmother died yesterday. Her name is Wilma, and at 95 was my last remaining grandparent. She was not a warm and fuzzy grandma. When I was afraid to go down in the basement by myself as a child, she would say, "Are you afraid of the boogeyman? Don't be. If he gets you, he'll see what he's got and bring you right back." I don't remember her for great cooking, extravagant presents, or any of the other standard grandmotherly activities. I remember beauty pageants and soap operas on television, and stamps.

Wilma collected stamps for many years. Through the depression years when she and my grandfather ran a small country store and took in friend after friend down on his or her luck. Through the war years when she learned to run heavy industrial equipment in a factory. Through the years her six kids were growing up in an primitive house on an Oregon homestead farm.

I, too, had a stamp collection, starting in about fourth grade. My own collection fit in a small box, and I was always enthusiastic about looking at my grandmother's stamps when I would go to visit. She had a huge box full of sheet after sheet of old-fashioned stamps, decades old.

After I graduated from college, she asked me if I wanted to buy them. Her eyesight was getting worse and she wasn't able to enjoy them as much as she used to. They were fairly valuable and I had a thousand more sensible things I could have done with that money: student loans, grad school, saving for a house, travel. But I bought the stamps and never regretted it.

I could go on and on about the stamps. In fact, I have. Somewhere around here I have an essay I wrote many years ago and submitted to a now-defunct women's magazine. The essay has the distinction of having earned the nicest, most encouraging rejection slip I have ever received. But I think I will just say goodbye, Grandma. I don't watch Miss America or One Life to Live anymore, but we'll always have the stamps.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The best seventy-five bucks I ever spent

I just bought a Bissell Steam Mop at the BX. The cost: $75.99. I have been wanting one for quite a while, but I have been trying to be frugal lately. I don't know if you've noticed, but the economy is not so great these days. Why, even the thrift store has raised prices!

In the not-too-distant past I would have just snapped up the steam mop as soon as I decided I wanted it, but for the last six months I have been operating under a cash budgeting system. Every payday, I take out cash for household expenses and put it in labeled envelopes: groceries, wine, thrift store, child care, donations, miscellaneous household, cash for me, and cash for Lloyd. You'll notice there is no 'Steam Mop' category, and so the $75.99 had to come out of the miscellaneous household envelope. It wasn't looking like I was ever going to get one, but today my babysitter came down with the crud so I hit the jackpot: I saved the babysitter cash and also the thrift store cash I would have spent while she was sitting, so it was Steam Mop City, baby!

As soon as I got it home, I mopped the kitchen, hallway and bathroom, and it is really great. I really like it, and started thinking about how it was the best $75 I ever spent. As I thought more about it, I wondered: is it REALLY the best money I every spent? Really, truly?

More tomorrow. I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.

Dead turkeys don't make noise: Conversations with Weston

Me: Why do you ask 'why?' so much?
Weston: Because I'm just a little boy and I don't know very many things yet.

At the grocery store, looking at the meat case:
Weston: Are those turkeys dead?
Me: Yes, they are.
Weston: Know how I can tell?
Me: No, how?
Weston: Because they're not making any noise.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday night video

The boys invented a game with the little car and the dresser. The car goes under the dresser, comes out, goes back under, over and over and over. They did this for a good 45 minutes. They have been playing really nicely together lately. Today they were playing baby. Weston would say 'Time to go to sleep!' and they would both jump in the bed and close their eyes, feigning sleep. Then he would say, 'Morning Time!' and they would 'get up' and play. Weston has been giving Shane rides on his back, crawling all over the house. These are the games I like. There's also one where they shove each other off the couch until someone screams (this is usually me) and one where they play mommy is a jungle gym.

Friday, December 12, 2008


This will probably come as no surprise to you, but Lloyd and I disagree about many, many things: Whether stamps can go on envelopes upside down (yes); if it's okay to roll your corn on the cob in the butter dish (NO); where antlers belong in a decorating scheme (attic) and whether or not big Korean paintings of battling ships can be considered are (ummm, no).

One of the things in the very long list of disagreements is the appropriate terminology for body parts. I prefer the correct names, and if Weston has a question or shows interest in the body, I tell him the actual name, and we look it up in an anatomy book I got at the $1.39/lb store. Luckily books are 19 cents each, or this one would have cost about ten bucks. For his part, Lloyd prefers slang terms and uses them liberally.

Since I'm an open-minded gal and all around fabulous person, I try hard to avoid thinking or implying that my way is the best or only option. Lloyd is an excellent parent, and as ridiculous as it might seem, some of his ideas may actually have some merit and I accept them, if not wholeheartedly embrace them.

Naturally, this magnanimosity often results in consequences I don't particularly love. Like wound up kids at bedtime, bite marks in the block of cheese, and peeing competitions.

Or in this case, my four year old yelling at his playmates not to hit him in the nuts. 'Stay away from my testicles!' sounds much more refined, don't you think?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hey, don't hit him with that pepperoni!

That is an actual sentence that came out of my mouth this morning. I find myself saying the most ridiculous things on a regular basis, and I am not the only one.

Usually, of course, the ridiculous words are directed to children ('At our house, we don't spit'), but not always. Ever since I started noticing this phenomenon, I hear them everywhere. Consider this one, heard this morning at a brunch party while playing Pin the Nose on Rudolph: 'Help her! Help her! She's blind and pregnant!'

Not that this is relevant, but I won the most gorgeous striped scarf at the Rudolph game. I think I might have inadvertently cheated, though. I used the other players' markers as landmarks. Is that fair? Well, no matter, the scarf is mine. MINE, I tell you! But back to the discussion at hand....

So far, my favorite ridiculous yet totally reasonable statement, made by my friend Jennifer #34,632 (mom to four children), is:

'You! Put down that dog poop and you! give me that knife!'

Do you have any to share? Put them in the comments; I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The next time you are feeling especially clever, try explaining the poles of a planet to a four year old. Weston has about 9,634 pounds of space books, and every one of them has pictures of planets rotating about their poles.

Weston: But what do they look like?
Me: Well, you can't really see them.
Weston: Are they pretend?
Me: No, they're real. It's a place on the planet, on the top and bottom, that the planet spins around. Look, I'll show you with this ball and my fingers (spin ball with index finger on top and bottom). See?
Weston: Yes, I see. What do they look like?

And the fascinating but impossible to explain pictures are not the only problem with the space books, I'm sorry to report. I wrote a post a while back about how sometimes I have to improvise while reading aloud, because I find some children's books are not particularly suitable for my small children. You can read it here. I didn't realize I had to watch out for the science books, too, but they are chock full of sex and violence. The planets are all named after Roman gods: Venus (goddess of love and romance. What's that, mommy?), Mars (named after the god of war, because the red color reminded the ancients of BLOOD and FIRE), and Pluto (god of death and the icy underworld. Nightmares, anyone?).

Books, bah humbug. Sponge Bob looks more appealing every day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Giveway gifts on their way!

Joan will be receiving the Envirosax Graphic Series Mikado pouch of five reusable shopping bags. You can see them here. Jennifer will be getting a fabulous Priority Mail flat rate box filled with treats from the thrift store. I will post a picture with the contents after she gets it, because I want it to be a surprise. I hope she likes it. There is a little something for everyone inside.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Genius, born of desperation

After dinner tonight, I ran the boys' bath, just like always. Shane usually loves the bath, but tonight he wasn't interested, and wanted out right away. I got him out and got his diaper and pajamas on while Weston stayed in the tub and played. I was doing dishes and Lloyd was selfishly doing something totally unrelated to parenting or housekeeping, when Weston shrieked. We ran into the bathroom, to find Shane playing happily in the tub, fully dressed.

At first I was pretty annoyed, because it is hard work to get Shane in a diaper and sleeper. He runs around in circles, laughing giddily, until I tackle him and pin him down. Then he howls and twists around, trying to get loose, and yanks at whatever I'm trying to get on him. Usually I just let him run around naked because it's not worth the hassle, but he has to have a diaper and pajamas for bed, right?

But then, I saw the possibilities: throw in a pile of dirty clothes, swish it around a little, and you have a clean kid and clean clothes all in one fell swoop. But it gets better: add some dishes and save yourself running the dishwasher. As an added bonus, they act like beaters (or a laundry ball) on the clothes and kid, for even more cleanliness! The more I think about it, the more I like it. It's even better than my SCRUB idea.

And now that my brain is really churning, I'm starting to rethink that old wives tale about how the baby has to wear diapers and pajamas to bed. All I really need is a way to keep the pee off the bed. I'm picturing something like those little sleep dresses that cinch at the bottom that you put on teeny babies, only made out of plastic or rubber. Or, even better, a hefty bag with eye, nose and mouth holes cut out. All I would have to do is get close enough to throw it over his head, and tackle him just long enough to tie the bottom up good. It would be sort of like the calf-roping event in the rodeo. I have always wanted to be a rodeo star, as long as I don't have to iron my jeans.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Words to live by

I spend a lot of time trying to convince Weston that he can't always have what he wants. In fact, I say exactly that on a regular basis. As in, 'I'm sorry you can't have candy for dinner, but you can't always have what you want.' Or, 'It would be nice to go out and play right now but we have to clean up the mess we already made first. We can't always have what we want right when we want it.'

This morning, I was trying to wrap an Angel Tree gift to take to the chapel, and Weston was jumping up and down behind me, yanking on my shirt. I told him I wanted him to stop, and he said, 'You can't always have what you want when you want it, Mama.' So true, so true.

Friday, December 5, 2008

In defense of television

So! Hey, how have you been? Yeah, it's been a while. Me? I've been very busy. Yeah, construction and maintenance of the breastmilk fountain, getting the gifts ready for the winners of the big thrift store giveaway, trying to convince Weston that it's a great idea to give up some Christmas presents to donate to less fortunate kids, you know, all the usual holiday chores. And, my friend Helen has me working on some other hare-brained schemes, too. Helen is brilliant, and she has fabulous ideas. Somehow, though, her great ideas always translate into a LOT of work.

Say, have you met my new best friend, Television? TV, for short. Yeah, we've been acquainted for a while now, but we've just gotten a lot closer. We have had mutual friends for ages, but we first met when I was pregnant with Shane.

Before that, I thought TV would be a bad influence on Weston. You see, there are some things I don't like about my friend TV. Materialism, consumerism, violence, the studies that show that kids who see TV a lot have short attention spans and glassy, dull-eyed stares.

While I was pregnant, I was completely exhausted and Lloyd was in the desert. I decided TV wasn't so bad, after all. A little Blue's Clues, a little Elmo, and my day was a whole lot easier.

TV and I were casual friends for a while, you know how it is. An hour or so here, a half hour there. But, now, TV's charms have become irresistible to me: some Little Einsteins, some Planet Heroes, maybe a little Dragon Tales and Sesame Street, and the earth-shattering din magically ceases. I can sit and think and type, all at the same time; maybe even have a cup of coffee. So I owe TV a lot, and I'm very grateful to my new friend. But Christmas is coming up, and what exactly do you get for a pile of plastic and a bunch of electrons?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nothing so beautiful as a burbling breastmilk fountain

Today was decorating day for the Christmas Tree contest at the Officer's Club. My friend Brynn brilliantly masterminded this gorgeous Mother and Child themed tree for our Breastfeeding Support Group. Brynn is from Washington State, of course.

The snowflakes are cut out of breast pads, the little scrolls are rolled up breastmilk storage bags, and the star on top is made out of bottles and a coat hanger. Beneath the tree is the lactating pig of laundry ball fame, and a 'breastmilk' fountain. The milk is water with white and yellow watercolors in it, and it's circulated by a fish tank pump.

There is an actual cash prize for the tree that gets the most votes, so if you are at Osan, get out to the club and vote for us! We want to use the money for books and supplies. There are a lot of things that we can't get here that nursing moms sometimes need on short notice: herbs to increase supply, a certain brand of lanolin, gentian violet, and much more. If we had a little money, we could build up a community stash.


I decided to do have two winners: One thrift store lover winner, and one not-so-much winner. Weston generated two random numbers for me. The not-so-much winner is Joan, and the thrifty winner is Jennifer! Congratulations, ladies. Your gifts will be on their way soon, after I get pictures up so everyone can see them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

And then came Shane

Weston has always been a great kid: he never put anything in his mouth, rarely had tantrums, and is easily re-directed from less-than desirable activities. I am a bit of a book nerd and have read a lot about early childhood development and parenting techniques. And, I have always thought that surely all this good behavior must be thanks to me and my superior skills. I use attachment parenting and positive discipline techniques, and obviously all that respect and gentleness produces spectacular results, right? Smug, much? And then came Shane.

Shane, Shane... what to say about Shane? Shane puts everything in his mouth and has a howling, floor pounding tantrum several times a day. He doesn't want his diaper on, he doesn't want it off. He doesn't want to go to bed, he doesn't want to get up. No, no, no, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! All day long. And persistent? He is very determined. He loves to climb up on the table and other furniture. The gentle technique to deter him is to distract him and remove him from his treacherous perch until he gets the idea that he's not supposed to climb up there. So that's what I do, over and over and over. It sounds really easy, doesn't it? But not so much when he is clinging like a chimp and shrieking like a hyena. Then, when I oh-so-gently get him off,he arches backward and flails, and likely as not, whacks me a good one in the face.

In light of all this new evidence, I'm forced to conclude I'm not such a great parent after all. It's really quite a shocking turn of events. Anyone have a book I can borrow?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Giveaway clarification

Okay, I'm getting a little bit frustrated here. I guess I was just not quite clear that there is a choice of gifts, not just a thrift store gift. Maybe I need a bloggy time-out. So I will try again:

Leave a comment on the Giveaway post telling whether you are a thrift shop fan or not so much. Then, if you win, I know whether you want the thrift shop bonanza or the alternate gift. If you cannot leave a comment, email one to, and I will put it in the comment field for you. The winner will be chosen by matching a random number to a comment number. If your comment number matches the random number, you win, and I will send you the appropriate gift.

I need to go lay down now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Giveaway! Updated instructions

*I was informed this morning that it was not clear on how to enter the giveaway, so I am updating to clarify that, and to extend the deadline to Wednesday morning, Osan Standard Time. To enter, simply leave a comment in the comments section telling me if you are a thrift store lover or not. I will choose a winner by generating a random number, and finding the comment number that matches it. If you are unable to leave a comment, you can also enter by emailing me at

Being unafraid to blatantly rip off a good idea, I am having a holiday giveaway here at Stories From Korea. A couple of blogs I read regularly, Crunchy Chicken and A Little Pregnant, are giving away great gifts right now. Crunchy has a $75 Amazon card and Julie has Joe's Jeans.

Now, my gift isn't going to be quite THAT fabulous. I'm on a budget, my friends; paintings of battling ships on stormy seas don't grown on Korean trees, you know. But, fear not: I've become quite thrifty of late, what with my laundry ball and my duffel bags of booty from the 1.39/lb store, and I have a fantastic idea for a super but not-quite-so-extravagant gift. On Monday, I will be back at the thrift store and there will be WEEKS worth of goodies I haven't seen! The gift will be a collection of the best trinkets the thrift store has to offer. And, if you're not someone who has grown to appreciate thrift store goodies, I think you are, well, sadly misguided, but this is a discrimination free zone, and there will be an alternate gift.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me if you're a thrift store lover, or not so much. Don't worry, I won't hold it against you. The winner will be chosen at random whenever I get around to it on Wednesday morning, Osan Standard Time.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I kind of like being crazy

I did, indeed, reorganize my kitchen cabinets. The 'after' photo might not look appreciably different to you, but now like items are all together. Tea and coffee, snacks, baking supplies, cereals, pasta and beans, and canned goods all have a designated place. I haven't labeled the shelves but I am thinking that's a pretty good idea.

And I didn't stop there: I also scrubbed the inside and outside of the coffee maker, and cleaned the gunk off the outside of the blender, probably for the first time in my entire life. I still have no idea why, but I'm starting to get used to it. Lloyd and I have both been marginally more careful to keep things clean when we cook and eat.

Reckon I should do the refrigerator/freezer? I was going to post a picture of my linen closet, too, but that is too embarrassing even for me.

Guest Post from...... LLOYD!

Some photos of a Nov 2008 Montana hunt from our cabin. Plenty of venison for all-

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I must be crazy

When we got home the other day, I was disappointed that the house wasn't clean and organized. We had done a lot of work before we left- making sure the laundry and dishes were done, the garbage was out, the counters and floors were clean and clear of clutter, and the sinks were empty. I guess I somehow thought the magic fairies might have come during our absence to scrub the tubs, make the beds, steam clean the carpets and couches, and organize the cupboards and closets.

Sadly, that was not the case. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the house was in exactly the same lousy condition it was when we left! But all of a sudden, this simply won't do. For some reason, I have suddenly become obsessed with sorting and organizing and have been doing it non-stop. Despite being sick, jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, apparently I have determined that these tasks I have neglected for months are worth spending my limited energy on. Weird, huh? It's kind of similar to the late-pregnancy nesting phenomenon. If I didn't know better FOR SURE, I would be utterly terrified right now. But I do know better, so I am just puzzled.

The only thing I can think of is that I just don't want to put all my new goodies in messy closets. Today, I want to clean the kitchen cabinets. As you can see in the pictures, I don't really have designated places for dry goods, baking supplies, tea, coffee, canned goods, cereal or spices. When I put groceries away, I pretty much just open a cupboard at random and shove stuff where it fits. But I guess that all changes today. I actually got out a notebook to make a kitchen cupboard plan. I'll keep you posted, unless my brain explodes from all this unusual activity.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nutritional Advice from Stories from Korea

Let's just say right up front, Stories from Korea is not qualified to give nutritional advice. Should you require evidence, here is exhibit A: An actual snack I fixed myself on our recent trip. I say: whatever gets you through the night, sister.

Home again, home again, my fat hen

Here we are, after a pretty uneventful trip. I was really dreading the flight but it was no trouble at all. There were no lines at immigration or customs, and we caught the early bus back to Osan. Then, it all fell apart. The 1.5 hour bus ride took 3.5 hours, and when it ended the bus left before we could get our stroller off. Lloyd got stuck in the elevator bringing our seven large bags into our building, and I was growing ever sicker. But that was minor unpleasantness, and now I feel a little better and we have totally unpacked.

The only casualty was one of the 14 bajillion bottles of organic ketchup we toted back from Whole Foods. It spattered over the inside of one of the bags, but only got on other bottles and some bags of oats. The chocolate was spared, providentially. Lloyd could probably eat ketchup and chocolate but.... Hey! that gives me a brilliant idea. Ketchup and chocolate candy bars! Remember that old Reese's commercial where the two schmoes crash into each other, and one has a chocolate bar and one has a jar of peanut butter? The chocolate ends up in the peanut butter jar and they go off together, to eat peanut butter and chocolate and presumably, live happily ever after. So if you see chocolate/ketchup confections on the market before I get back to build my empire, you'll know I've been ripped off.

Right now it is 3:30 a.m., and I have a question. Does anyone know where the phrase 'home again, home again, my fat hen' comes from? I was thinking it was a rhyme my grandfather used to say, but have realized that his rhyme was actually:

Jennifer, Jennifer, my green hen
She lays eggs for gentlemen
Sometimes one, sometimes ten
Jennifer, Jennifer, my green hen

I could look it up, of course, but sometimes I think Google takes all the mystery and fun out of everything.

And finally, the photo is of Weston in New Hampshire.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last night we celebrated Thanksgiving with Aunt Joan and Aunt Ina, who came up from Oregon to visit. There was dancing, drinking and accordion playing, and a good time was had by all.

We leave tomorrow to go back to Osan, so there will be a short blogcation until we get home and all settled in.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To Blog or not to Blog

That is the question. I have a hilarious story about Weston that I am dying to tell. Trust me, it's a beaut. I ran right to the computer and started typing, but then I started thinking that it might embarrass him. My 95 year old grandmother STILL tells a story about the time I was four and she had a friend over and I wouldn't play with the friend's granddaughter and it drives me crazy. I finally got my mother to stop telling a couple of embarrassing stories about things I did when I was little, but there's no shutting up Granny. I can't remember if it bothered me way back then, and I'm not sure what I would have thought about it being posted on the internet for anyone to see. Where is the line, bloggy friends?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stories from Alki

Tonight I had dinner with my fabulous friend Julie at my very favorite pizza place in all the world, Pegasus Pizza on Alki Beach. I got there before she did, because I am always on time or a few minutes early, and she is, ummmm, not. But I love her anyway, and I had some time to hang out on the beach. There was a full moon, and a gorgeous view of the city, including the Space Needle. There was a hippie in a Rasta hat playing the bongos while another hippie hula-hooped with body parts that I would have sworn could not hula-hoop. There were grown men on skateboards, carrying cups of Starbucks coffee. Ahhhh, Seattle.

Then, we shared a bottle of Chateau St. Jean cab, greek salad, and a pizza with feta, spinach, shredded pepperoni and sunflower seeds. It was a welcome treat after a morning spent at the dentist, but I will save 'Stories from the Dentist' for another day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


In between trips to Target, I have been brushing up on my Korean knowledge. It's been a little challenging, because all of the sources I've consulted are heavy on the history and I find Korean history deadly boring. I'm not sure why it's so boring to me; I'm not uninterested in history in general. Maybe it's because it's so depressing and lacks drama. No midnight runs across frozen wastelands to escape marauding communists, no shots heard round the world. Instead, it's all occupation, oppression, occupation, oppression and on and on for what seems like forever. But I persevered, and now I know at least twice as much about Korea as I did before! I'm better at math than Korean history, and I am very sure that twice as much Korean knowledge equals four more things. So go ahead, ask me anything. You might just get lucky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's Korea Like?

Surprisingly, or maybe not, I have no idea what Korea is like. Many people have asked me, and it seems not unreasonable to assume that someone who has lived in Korea for an entire year would know more about it than someone who has never been there. To my dismay, however, I have found that my knowledge of things Korean is limited to:

1. There is a lot of kimchi there;
2. Korean people are very nice and like children;
3. The driving is crazy; and
4. I can't buy everything I want.

I think we can all agree that this is a shameful, and ridiculous, state of affairs. I will be remedying it immediately so please stay tuned for my new and improved Korean knowledge.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things to make you say 'Huh?'

1. This actual photo, taken in my parents' kitchen the other day
2. My father bought me a pomegranate yesterday. It came with instructions. And not just a little tag like on a pineapple that tells you how to cut it. It was a full color, folding 3-page pamphlet! No wonder the stupid thing cost three bucks; they had to factor in the printing costs. I did learn something though; the seeds are actually called arils.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today, my sister and I went to the Pacific Science Center to see the Lucy exhibit. They have the actual Lucy, and it's the first time she's been out of Ethiopia. In the last 3.18 million years, anyway. She might have been quite the jet-setter during her lifetime, for all I know.

The exhibit was awesome. It was amazing to me to see the real fossils, because I have been fascinated by Lucy for years, ever since I read this book. The exhibit has some other stuff too; Ethiopian art, baskets and jewelry and all kinds of other junk, which we sped past as fast as our three-child, two-stroller, two-sling entourage would take us. I could have looked at Lucy all day, but alas, Shane has the attention span of a fruit fly and the shriek of a pterodactyl, a deadly combination in the hush of Lucy's chamber.

I've been trying to think of other things of historical or other significance that have impressed me. Lucy is definitely tops, but here are a few more:

The sit-in lunch counter from Greensboro, at the Smithsonian;

The moon rock
you can touch at the National Air and Space Museum;

The pile of shoes from the Holocaust Museum; and

The battlefields at the Little Bighorn and Vicksburg.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm not a felon!

Happy Election Day! This morning, Shane and I went with my sister and her two kids to vote. Lloyd and I are unable to vote right now because residency complications have left us without a state that will send us ballots. So, Jennifer and Teddy went to vote, while Paloma, Shane and I got some treats at the bake sale. Then we wandered into the voting area and I was showing Paloma the booths. The lady at the desk asked me if we were voting or just looking, and I said, "Oh, I can't vote." She turned away and all the volunteers started clucking amongst themselves and acting all snooty. They were very rude, and I wanted to tell them to go serve a couple of years overseas and then tell me who is doing their part in service to the good old U.S of A. Before I could whip myself up into a froth of righteous indignation, Jennifer came out. When I told her about it, she said, "They think you're a felon! Why else wouldn't you be able to vote?"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stories from the Mall

Dear God. I have been to the mall. Can I just say, I heart H&M. They had the cutest little things for the boys, so adorable. Several hundred dollars later, I came home with tons of things we really don't need. But we will be the envy of Osan when we get back!

And the toys available here in the United States of America; I had no idea! I loaded up on goodies at Toys R Us. They are intended to be Christmas presents if I can resist forking them over for so long. Look at this cool car! I got one for each of the boys; they are made out of recycled plastic and wood. I also got an ample supply of (plastic, made in China, battery operated) Planet Hero toys for Weston, AND I didn't take my own bags, so I'll probably have to go to the penalty box. I just hope there is Starbucks there.

Then I tried to buy some bras and underwear. I regret to report that I came home empty-handed. There is probably a pretty good boob joke to be made there but I am exhausted and my head is still spinning. The selection at our BX is pretty lame, so I was really excited about more lingerie variety, but there were acres of underwear and miles of bras. Turquoise! Leopard prints! Polka dots! Ribbons! And More! More! More! My eyes were glazed over and maybe, just maybe, there was a teeny bit of drool dripping down my shirt. I might as well have had a sign pinned to my shirt that said 'My name is Anna. If lost, please return to Osan Air Base'.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Questionable Parenting Practice #7,854,765

Pretty much all of my parenting practices are questionable, so I hesitate to single out just the one, but this one is perhaps beyond questionable, verging on pretty bad. My mom hates to drive, so she has saved up all her errands for the last month, waiting for me to chauffeur her around. Usually she and my dad go out on their retired people rounds together, but he's not super patient about thrifting, or anything that requires browsing. Right now Dad is in Montana on a hunting trip with Lloyd and his father, leaving me, my mother and my mother-in-law to hold down the fort. I have been taking full advantage of the high quality, free babysitting during the day to go shopping and visit my friends, and in the afternoons and evenings we've been loading up the minivan and doing errands and taking my mother-in-law shopping. Now, the reason I need the free childcare so much is that it is virtually impossible to take Shane anywhere. He hates sitting in the cart, but if I let him out it's a guaranteed scream-fest when I prevent him from his heart's desire, which usually consists of hucking whatever fragile items are within reach or playing his favorite game ever, 'run away from Mommy'. Which brings me to this: twice in the past 48 hours, I have removed my children from a store where they were wreaking havoc by offering them ice cream. Yes, it's true: I have been rewarding them for bad behavior, simply to make my own life more tolerable. Luckily for me, I have access to any number of blogs with excellent parenting advice, and I will clicky clicky, tout suite.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yessir, yessir, five bags full

Okay, I wasn't sure if I should post this, because those of you who are NOT here might shrivel up and die with envy, and then I would feel bad. But not that bad, so here goes:

I have just returned from the ultimate Seattle destination, and now I can die happy. But preferably not today. Where is it, you may ask. Where is this pleasure palace? Is it the Space Needle? Pike Place Market? The EMP? The chocolate factory in the old Redhook brewery? No, no, no and NO, though those are awesome places and good guesses.

It's the Goodwill outlet, where you can buy goods by the pound: $1.39 per pound for clothes and shoes and $0.69 per pound for toys and housewares. For $52.15, my sister and I came home with the equivalent of five tall kitchen garbage bags full of stuff, including a pair of Seven jeans. I might be a little too old/short/fat to wear the Katie Holmes baggy jeans look, but they sure are comfy. And expensive, if you're not a clever shopper. We also got:

8 pairs of shoes, including some Keens for mom
Winter coats and clothes for Weston and Shane (almost a whole bag full)
4 books, including a very nice full color anatomy textbook
3 Slinkys (yes, I do need three slinkys, just in case you were wondering)
A teapot
Dragon Halloween costume
Cool linky toys (see picture)
A Mondani bag
Miscellaneous clothes, toys and housewares

Now, before you sprint down to 6th and Holgate, I should warn you, there is a catch.
A couple of catches, really; I'm not going to sugarcoat it. You really have to work for your goodies here. The stuff is just dumped in bins with no presorting, so you have no idea what you're getting into when you start digging. Also, the place is populated with some fairly skanky people. Some of them come in to dig through the purses and wallets for forgotten cash, and some of them work there, because it is a job training center. Did I say fairly skanky? Because I meant really, really skanky. But it doesn't bother me; I'm totally going back tomorrow!

Seattle Strange

Some things I am finding odd:

1. When I go to the store, there is no one I know there!

2. Starbucks is cheap! I got Weston a hot chocolate and a tea for myself yesterday, and it was $3.34.

3. Everyone stops for the stop signs and lights. ALL of them!

4. None of the cars have the steering wheel on the right.

5. No one is admiring my children.

6. The array of products to choose from is dizzying, so shopping takes a lot longer.

7. There is no odor of kimchi wafting about when I come home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Salmon Ceremony report and photos

Click here to see a nice photo of Weston and Paloma at the salmon ceremony, right before we had to leave, because 'This song is yuck! It hurts my ears!'

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Very Seattle Day

0900 Starbucks
0930 Hit Goodwill to stock up on fleece
1030 Target/Starbucks
1200 Kick over mushrooms in yard
1300 More Starbucks
1700 Native American inspired drumming ceremony to welcome spawning salmon home
1900 Glass of Columbia Crest, or two.

Yeah, baby.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Toe Art by Weston and Paloma

One thing I miss about Osan is the pedicures. Weston and Paloma did my toes last night; didn't they do a great job? Paloma was in charge of the right foot; Weston the left. They started with red for a base coat, then did 'designs' with blue on top. Paloma's babysitter Christy taught her how to do the flowers, aren't they pretty?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hey, I'm going to Nordstrom's- can I pick up a virus for you?

Hand, Foot and Mouth strikes again! Enjoy this guest post from my Friend Brandy:

Monday 7/28: 12:30PM Jackson, Hudson and Ryder meet up at Southcenter mall to check out the new H&M store. Relegated to strollers or mommy's arms while experiencing the much anticipated and overly crowded Swedish store Ryder and Jackson (not sure about Hudson) enjoy some hanger chewing when possible.

1:45PM Next stop, Forever XXI. Music playing at decibels so high that the mommies can no longer hear one another talk without screaming. Skirts are picked up to be tried on but alas, long lines and impending migraines force the mommies to put the skirts back on the rack. However, the blaring 80's tunes drown out the tiny cries of "I need to go to sleep now" fussies and like dominoes, Jackson then Ryder and then Hudson fall into afternoon naptime slumber.

2:15PM Mommies, desperate for a drink and some sustenance, finally find their way in the new maze that is now the largest mall in the PNW to the unfortunately named restaurant, BJ's (Why would you name a restaurant this? As far as I know, there were no hot dogs on the menu – THANK GOD. Ah…got ya to come right down into the gutter with me, didn't I?). Just as quickly as the dominoes fell, the bambinos awake, each opening their eyes in opposite succession as they went down; Hudson, Ryder and then Jackson. Happy to be back in mommy's arms but not so happy to be at BJ's with the creepy waitress that wants to steal them or at least touch their heads (another story and no, we didn't allow her to touch them).

3:30PM The mommies decide to check out the Nordstrom sale before departing the lovely city of Tukwila. Some of the lucky boys get some new shoes while others just get their feet measured to be told that they are a size 4.5 even though the shoes that they are currently wearing are a size 4 (sorry, Ry). Once they were let out of their strollers it was as if the mommies had set caged animals free and there was no getting them back in. Hudson and Ryder shared a moment of Solid Gold worthy booty shaking under a clothing rack in the kids section before moving over to the (not age appropriate for the beautiful and hip, but in their 30's, mommies) Brass Plum. THIS, this is where IT happened. Unaware, the mommies set their precious, dear little sweet boys on the (now we know, or assume) feces laden puce shag rug. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease or HFMD. That is what happened on this rug (as evidenced below). Those mannequins, with their icy glare and pursed lipped grins…they knew, oh yes…they knew what was happening and didn't utter a word to the unsuspecting mommies. Damn them!

Tuesday 7/29: Crapola summer continues and Jackson and Hudson decide to meet up with Will instead of risking pneumonia by going swimming at Coleman Pool. Play. Share toys. Share saliva on said toys. HFMD lives on!!

Wednesday 7/30: Ryder wakes numerous times…bad night. Mommy and daddy are very irritated.

Thursday 7/31: 7:00AM Mommy and daddy feeling extreme guilt over said irritation and possible profane grievances uttered during sleep deprived moments from the previous night as they discover that Ryder has a fever.

Friday 8/1: CRYING. CLINGING. Did I mention CRYING? Oh yeah, guess other stuff went on but Ryder's day was dominated by the crying, clinging, and the obvious pain tormenting his defenseless body. Lots of tears shed by both mommy and Ryder. Bad day followed by WORST NIGHT EVER. No sleeping. No eating. No NURSING!? Now mommy is very concerned.

Saturday 8/2: 5:00AM and mommy and Ryder are awake (did they sleep at all?) and mommy decides to consult with Dr. Google about Ryder's symptoms.

Fever? Check

Fussy? Check

Tired? Check (wait…mommy or the baby? We'll say: Check Check)

Malaise? Check

Sore Throat? Check! (now we're getting somewhere!)

Painful oral lesions? Yuk…what?! Oh no…Check.

Mommy waits until 8:00AM and calls the doctor and Ryder gets an appointment at 10:10. Dr. Google was right – Hand, foot and mouth disease (confirmed by a real doctor, Dr. Kumasaka). Ryder recognizes Hudson's car parked outside the doctor's office and later the mommies confirm that they were indeed at the same place at the same time (Hudson actually heard Ryder…recognizing his "Let's get ready to R U M B L E" voice from down the hall).

9:15PM Lots of Motrin and one strawberry milkshake later, Ryder's mood is pretty good and he ends up having an OK day. Mommy is feeling much better also, especially after the 2 ½ nap that she got to take with him. Ryder is sleeping now and has only woken up once since 8:00PM…oh wait, that's once an hour – not the best sign for things to come...but mommy is hopeful for a better night and a speedy recovery!

Moral of the story: Never ever let your baby play on any puce colored shag rug at the Brass Plum in Nordstrom at Southcenter Mall. Duh.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I mopped the floor today, thanks W!

By Jennifer age 37 ¾

My profile
I am Anna’s sister and while I am not as clever as her, I am pretty cool anyway. I am a married artist mom who works from home with 2 kids Paloma, 4 and Theodore 4 months. My website is

Today I mopped the floor. I even took a picture. It left me with a sense of accomplishment and also a bit relieved. I do not usually mop floors. Unless like if something like oh...say... projectile vomit or dog urine or both ends up on the floor, then yes, of course! Usually, I mean. Up until 3 weeks ago, I have had a cleaner come to my house for the last 4 (YES 4!) years. It started as a gift, a lovely gift, from my friend Barrett. Once the gift ended, it was like having your eyebrows waxed, I couldn't go back to doing it myself, and I just couldn’t!

Fast Forward to TODAY As my nearly 4 month old has not really taken to the bottle and I have not been able to work very much, I decided to do the prudent thing, after carefully examining what could be cut form the budget, NOT my goodwill money, I assure you! I had to let them go. It was a sad call for both of us, but thanks to W and friends. I have to be financially savvy these days. I decided that I would make a list of the things that they were doing and try to fit it in during the week, bathroom, floors, and tubs. Dust. Until now, I’ve had no problem with the dusting, or bathrooms, but the floors are a different story, somehow it represents something so housewifery to me, so ... umm.... mom-esque.

There, I've said it.

When I was pregnant with my first child I remember very clearly a trip to shop for spendy baby gear to Bellevue square. There was a group of mommys there with, I swear, at least 15 strollers. More than one of them was wearing overalls and at least several I m sure had Disney character appliqu├ęs on their spitty encrusted tops. They were probably snacking on cheese sticks and goldfish crackers, and I think I threw up a little in my mouth, or maybe that was the pregnancy.

Either way, it really affirmed for me my FEAR of “mommy hood” did you really lose yourself and start eating nuggets for dinner??? It would never happen to me, I vowed. In fact, I was not even worried. I hate those little fish crackers.

It was with the second child that my illusion shattered. Now as I type this, I've really developed a taste for cheese crackers, (especially with a little red wine, but I’d caution you to go easy on it, as this combo while delish can be quite shall we say.. “plugging”). I am wearing what I call my “dress” sweats, and as of yet today, have not brushed my teeth. It’s not overalls with mickey mouse, but its pretty close!

I’m hopeful that I will find as time goes on it gets easier. I m hopeful I’ll still reach those goals that are important to me outside being someone’s mommy, like getting in the biennale or fiber arts like my friend Diem Chau (who rocks, BTW). And getting to wear my old clothes again!

SO many things have changed since I made the cliff jumping leap into mommy hood and I would not change it for anything. Its thrilling, exciting and really actually fun. Its life and death changing forever type stuff. But it’s the everyday chores I find exhausting, the thought that as soon as I complete my “list” I get to sleep (maybe) then (yeah!) do it all over again tomorrow! This is why I hate to mop.

But this time as I was mopping, something was different. Maybe I've learned something or maybe the fight has been beaten out of me. Whatever it was, I found that I felt relieved to just mop the floor. I feel its nice to not feel the pressure to PRODUCE for awhile, and for now maybe mopping floors and making photo albums is what I m supposed to be doing. I don’t have to run out and get in shape, get the biennial or get a grant, or even have shiny hair, all I have to do is make milk and mop floors. So thanks George W Bush! I feel a little better.

Jennifer, guest blogger

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Leaving, on a jet plane, la la la

Perhaps, by the time you read this, I will already be winging my way towards Target. I am going to share my shopping list, so you can help me out if I am forgetting something.

Under clothes
Outer clothes
Kitchen sink
Duffel bags (many)

I was thinking of making it sound like a Dr. Seuss book (short clothes, tall clothes, red clothes, blue clothes! Over the head clothes, up the knee clothes! And so on) but I lost my gumption. Because pretty soon I am leaving on a fabulous trip, have I mentioned that? Look for an awesome guest post tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Madame Sagsalot says No Thanks

This morning I was laying on the couch with my belly exposed. Shane was standing up next to me, picking up my loose skin with his prehensile toes like some kind of demented little monkey.

I have been hearing a lot about saggy boobs and tummies lately. Many of my nursing pals are concerned about how the girls will look when after the baby is done sucking the life out of them. At least one of my non-nursing friends said she also has some serious southward migration. But don't worry, ladies, your secrets are safe with me! You have my personal guarantee that no one will be outed on Stories From Korea.

I've seen this topic on some of my favorite blogs recently, too. They have much more clever metaphors than I could come up with, like pudding in a picket fence, or bread pudding in a thimble.

My understanding is that the reason for the hated droopage is pregnancy, not breastfeeding. But maybe it's just gravity and time. How to figure this one out? I know! All I have to do is find someone normal, of approximately my own age, who has not been pregnant or surgically modified who will show me her boobs for my little scientific experiment. The data would be better if I could find five or six of these someones. The line forms to the left, ladies. Yeah, that's what I thought.

I'm a little surprised, though, by how many people have had or are seriously considering a surgical solution, in the form of a 'lift and tuck'. None of my beeswax, of course. While I think it's outrageous to expect a 30ish to 40ish mom to have the body of a childless teenager and I would like to see acceptance of women's actual bodies, I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen anytime soon. Because of this, I can understand why someone might want seek a solution to what our culture considers a problem. But surgery? I have had two c-sections, and while that is not a minor surgery, it is a very simple one: They make a small incision, take out a small human, and sew you back up. After two, I am left with a numb spot the size of a small saucer, a scar that burns occasionally for no apparent reason, and an inability to do a sit-up, in addition to my two small humans. My understanding is that a lift and tuck requires large incisions, and some serious rooting around in your innards. The aftermath is probably pretty unappealing, even if everything goes swimmingly, and perhaps largely unanticipated. But not by me.

So, I say to Dr. 90210 and his foolishly unappreciative minions: 'No, thanks. I'll take the droopy orbs and the poochy pouch that Anne LaMott so charmingly, and accurately, likens to a soft puppy laying next to me. You can keep your perky boobs, your fillet knife, your damaged nerves, your scars, your MRSA, and your ludicrously unrealistic expectations.'

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is this really possible?

This morning I asked Lloyd to fill up some sippy cups with water for a short outing while I was getting Shane dressed. This is what I heard:

Short grunt of assent
Cupboard door opening
Cupboard door closing
"I can't tell what cups go with what lids"

Seriously, dude? You can fly a $200 Million jet filled with people and all kinds of expensive crap halfway around the world to a teeny tiny dark airfield while tracers fill the sky, but you can't match up some brightly colored character cups with the matching lids? Even after I soundly mocked him, he continued to insist it was beyond him. So tell me, is there even a remote possibility he is telling the truth?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Korean nights

This is the jack-o-lantern Lloyd and Weston carved, posed against the Korean night sky. One of the things I don't love about it here is that it is never really dark. There is a streetlight every fifty feet or so on base, and a constant hazy glow from downtown. The moon is almost full in this picture, and the jack-o-lantern was lit up, but you can't really tell. We would love to show Weston some stars and constellations, but we rarely see more than a few.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Whole wheat flour: healthy snack, junk food, or just plain weird?

For the most part, we let Weston eat what he wants. We have mostly healthy things in the house, and he can choose to eat, or not eat, whatever there is. He will eat almost anything and gets plenty of fruits, veggies, oatmeal, brown rice, yogurt, cheese, and milk. Sometimes, he wants to eat flour, and I let him, though I try to limit it because, well, eating flour seems really strange to me. Today, he has eaten three bowls of flour, probably a total of a cup. I am trying not to freak out about the flour, because I remember when I was little, I would mix shortening and sugar, or shortening and coffee, and eat that. But my sister and I would also roll up coffee or tea in paper and set it on fire so we could pretend we were smoking, so I'm not sure that what I did is a very good criterion for determining weird or normal. If there are any nutritionists or actual normal people here, please let me know: will the flour eating scar him, or just glue his mouth shut for a while? Because I could definitely live with that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

McChord Air Show 1997; or, how I met Lloyd and my life was never the same again. Ever.

In the comments in one of my recent posts, my longtime friend Lisajoy made an airshow/pancake joke. Here's the story to go with it:

In the summer of 1997, I had just moved from Seattle to Steilacoom because I was working at McChord Air Force Base doing military construction inspection for the Corps of Engineers. All my friends lived in Seattle, which is about an hour from McChord, sometimes more if the traffic is bad. I decided I needed to make some new, local, friends, and maybe meet a cute pilot, or two, or three, while I was at it. I saw a blurb in the base newspaper that said volunteers were needed for the Airshow. That seemed like a good way to meet people (and cute pilots!), but I wasn't much of a volunteer, and I ended up shoving the paper in my desk drawer. Because I was, and remain, supremely disorganized, some days that drawer held my lunch, sometimes whatever I was working on, and sometimes my gym clothes. Therefore, I frequently had the opportunity to see the paper and was repeatedly reminded I intended to sign up. I really felt like I was being 'pushed' to do it, and so one day I finally went down and told the air boss I wanted to volunteer. Surprisingly, and as it turns out, foolishly, they were pleased to have me. Lloyd was also on the staff.

They assigned me the pancake breakfast, a longstanding tradition that I believe was discontinued the very next year. The idea was to provide the visiting flight crews, about 300 people, a pancake breakfast on Saturday and Sunday morning, prior to the show. How hard could that be, right? I rounded up some single friends. It was pretty easy: 'We can drink beer all weekend and it will be crawling with cute pilots! All we have to do is get up early and make pancakes!' You can see where this is going, right? I couldn't.

On Friday night, eager to get to the cute pilots and beer part of the weekend, we neglected to test our cooking apparatus (electric griddles), defrost the orange juice, or prepare the pancake mix. In fact, our preparation for the weekend was limited to application of perfume and mascara. Yes, even me.

When Saturday morning rolled around, we stumbled, unshowered and bleary-eyed, to 'Hangar 13', the squadron bar where the breakfast was to be held. We plugged in our griddles and got to work. The aircrews started lining up. The pancake mix was flying, the OJ and coffee was splashing. The griddles started popping the circuits. The extremely long pancake line rapidly turned surly and the smart pilots headed to Burger King, but we didn't especially want the smart ones anyway. Finally, everyone was either fed or fed up. Either way, they were gone and we could get back to the beer and cute pilots! Just not the ones that wanted breakfast. Sunday was a little better; we figured out a way to keep the outlets powered and most of the crews had learned that they would be better off licking the lint out of their pockets.

Fortunately, Lloyd was otherwise occupied with his airshow duties and missed out on the pancake debacle, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Looking for a few guest posters

Good morning from Korea! In anticipation of our upcoming trip to the states, I am looking for a few guest posts to fill in while we're gone. The economy will be very disappointed with me if I don't spend at least 12 hours a day at Target, leaving me precious few minutes to slave over the computer. Please email any posts to:

There are no rules; posts can be from wherever you are, about whatever you want, but I always appreciate stories about humiliating parenting moments or humorous approaches to marriage, parenting and family/home life.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New OPN Blog!

OPN has a new blog! Here is the inaugural post, so you don't even have to click to see it:

As you may already know, Osan has an active community of bloggers. OPN is jumping on the blogwagon. To paraphrase the Gettysburg Address, this blog is by the parents, for the parents. So, Osan Parents, we need your posts! If you have something to talk about, this is the place to do it.

Do you have words of wisdom for newcomers, fun kids activities, parenting tips, health or nutrition advice, consumer education, a little known skill, or just a point of view to share? Content is completely up to you! Controversial topics are fine to tackle, but please keep it clean and be respectful of others.

Please send your contributions to; we look forward to hearing from you!

Broken promises

Today I feel compelled to break a promise I made to myself. I vowed that I would never, ever post about anything I dreamed, because there is nothing more BORING than someone else's dream. I mean, really, they're all, "I was in a forest but it really wasn't, know what I mean, and then there was this guy that was sort of like Joe from high school, remember him? And anyway, blah blah blah..."

Last night I had a nightmare that I got fired from the thrift store, and it was horrifying. I woke up in a cold, panicky sweat. I will spare you the long-winded details about why and who said what, but I was totally framed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Report from the Thrift Store

Today was terrific Tuesday at the Thrift Store- check out my goodies: a nice striped shirt for Shane, a pair of brown leather boots for me, and two baby slings! I also got a hot air popcorn popper.

I love the boots; they are beautiful and fit with thin socks. BUT they are just on the edge of a teeny bit too snug, so if you are named Jennifer and have feet a half size smaller than mine, it might possibly be your lucky day soon.

The slings are both gorgeous and came out of the same bag. I pick them up when I see them for new moms in our Breastfeeding Support Group. The one on the left has a tie-dyed butterfly pattern and I might have to keep it for myself even though I rarely use a sling anymore.

And the air popper! I have been wanting one every since Lloyd gave away our microwave. And this one is a beaut; the butter cup wasn't even gummed up.

But don't think all this good stuff just jumped into my bag. I had to work for it. When I got there, there was a huge pile of donations to go through. You couldn't even walk down the hallway, and another volunteer, Debbie, was completely surrounded by boxes and bags. I'm not sure how long she'd been there but there was a pile of blankets and a beer can pyramid in the corner. Always wanting to be of service, I jumped right in. Remember how Scrooge McDuck would dive into his money bin? I'm pretty sure some of the stuff we get at the thrift store isn't any nastier than some dirty old gold coins, and they're a lot less painful. But maybe we need a vat of disinfectant. Or a Cipro shower. In any event, I emerged disease free and triumphant. I keep wanting to hum a superhero theme song, but it seems a little over the top.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Words fail me

Perhaps 'I fail words' would be more accurate. I can't even decide. It vexes me when I can't think of a good post. Usually I can just go on and on and blah blah blah about anything or nothing, but I have felt very dull for the last few days. I keep thinking there is something somewhat clever hovering just beyond my grasp like a delicate butterfly, but then, poof! It's gone before I can bludgeon it to death with my keyboard. See? What kind of ridiculous metaphor is that? It doesn't even make any sense. Some topics I have considered and discarded:

Weston's explanation of the word 'dike' ('It's something that turns into something else. You might say a caterpillar is a dike because it turns into a butterfly'). I have no idea where this came from. It could be a Korean word, or a made-up word, or maybe it is even a real meaning of the word 'dike'. Not being so good with the words lately, I would have no idea. Please resist the temptation to make lesbian jokes in the comments. Thank you.

The airshow we had here over the weekend. I worked the lost child booth for several hours on Saturday, and it was an interesting experience. But no clever words! Bah.

A job description I'm working on. My friend Helen had a really great post about balance and talked about creating your ideal job description as a tool to help decide what's most important to you. I really liked the idea and have been working on it. I think it will end up being a very valuable exercise for me.

Our upcoming trip to Seattle. I suspect anticipation may be the cause of my blogging malaise.

Our new fish, Mars and Venus. They don't get along so well.

Turtle care. Not as easy as you might think and involving plaster of paris. Intriguing, I know, but again, I'm coming up dry.