Monday, June 30, 2008

Waiting for Romeo

Aren't we all?! My sister is FINALLY in the hospital. She has been there for almost 7 1/2 hours now and I have heard NOTHING. I am going to have to go to bed soon or I will be more useless than usual tomorrow and then I will have to wait MORE- all night, or at least until the crack of 4:15, which is when Shane usually wakes up. Romeo is one of the names on their list but she won't spill the rest, the heartless bitch.

Cloth Diaper Party

Yesterday afternoon I went to a cloth diaper party. Some of you (and you know who you are!) laughed at me when I told you I was planning to go, so here is a photo and the post-party wrap-up for your amusement. There were eight people there, six of whom use cloth diapers already, and two people who want to start. Everyone brought some little beauties from their 'stash' to show off, and we got a snappi tutorial from the one mom who uses prefolds. Now, if you're thinking we're a little crazy, you'll love this: One of my diaper pals has been shopping on and she says there are people on there who buy diapers even though they have no diaper-wearing children, simply because they like them! Some of these people have spent thousands of dollars on diapers. Now, far be it from me to make fun of someone because they're, gasp, different than me, but these people are crazier than diaper pail rats! If you ask me. Which you didn't.

What now, you might ask? What could these zany folks possibly think up next? Well, my friend Amanda suggested a laundry soap party, so chortle away, people! We'll be laughing all the way to the bank while you push your limping, bloated shopping cart full of disposable diapers and laundry detergent to the supermarket checkout and give them enough of your hard-earned cash to keep me in coffee and wine for a year! And then where will you get your thrifting money, huh? Huh? Answer me that, people!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On reading

Weston has been frustrated lately that he can't read by himself. When I can't read to him and tell him he can look at the book himself he howls, "But I can't read it myseeeeeelllllllfffffff!" Yesterday we were looking at the new thrift store cards with animals on them. One of the cards has pictures of look-alike animals (deer and antelope; hippo and rhino; etc.) and some of them have the names reversed and you're supposed to tell which ones have the names properly attached and which ones don't. We were looking at the zebra and okapi, and Weston knew instantly that the names were wrong, because he knows zebra starts with Z. Then he started sounding out the words 'deer' and 'hippopotamus' without being prompted, and then he read the word 'no' in another book.

And, Shane has added 'bye-bye' to his repertoire in the last few days.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm like the reproductive Harry Potter!

My 13 month old c-section scar is BURNING. I assume it's not smoldering but I'm afraid to look. My sister is about to have a baby. Coincidence? I think NOT.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ponies, ponies everywhere

In one of the enchanting bags of toys was a 'My Little Pony' house and about 83 gazillion ponies. I kept it out, thinking I would buy it for playgroup. Unfortunately, Weston LOVES the pony house. It is a hideous, garish combination of pink and purple. But the biggest problem with the ponies is that they don't like to play with Shane. I have told the ponies several times that it is not okay to tell Shane to go away and that they don't want to play with him. If they persist, it will be off to playgroup with them. This improves their attitudes immeasurably, but briefly.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The motivation seems to be the key

Today was the big day; my first day volunteering at the thrift store. I had the kids dressed and ready to go to 'school' at least an hour early. Huh, you'd think I could manage to do a little better on a regular, non-thrift store day. It's all about the motivation, isn't that just the way....

I took some pictures to post but they didn't come out. I dunno, maybe the stars in my eyes made it too bright in there.

Anyway, it was so much fun! I hauled in the donations from the box outside and then started sorting. I found some fabulous things for us: a waffle iron, books, potholders and some little toys and a hat for Shane. The toy pile was driving me crazy so I hauled a bunch of bags home and Weston and I sorted them. There is still a van load of unsorted ones so I'll probably have to go get them tomorrow. I just can't stand leaving it undone. There's plenty of things undone here at home: unsorted laundry, incomplete dishes, unmopped floors (okay, fine: they're not swept, either. Whatever.) But there's no mystery! And like my good friend Charlie, I am a fan of mystery..... So, thumbs up to enchanting bags of toys, and buh-bye boring predictable chores!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living in the White House

Weston is very interested in seeds and pinecones, among other things. He has a book from Grandma about flowers and trees and we were looking at it tonight. It had a page with acorns on it, and he started talking about the time that acorns were falling from the trees when we lived in the white house and he looked up but couldn't figure out what was making them fall. Maybe it was a sneaky squirrel, or the wind, he said. Well, fine, but what I couldn't figure out was what the hell he was talking about. We have never lived in a white house. But then I realized he was talking about our trip to Scott AFB last September. We were there for two weeks while Lloyd did some training, and we stayed in the TLF (temporary lodging facility) that was, indeed, white. And, I recalled the acorn incident. When we figured out that was what he was talking about, we started quizzing him about some other things we did there, and he clearly remembered, which amazed me. Including trying to climb the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which is, believe it or not, too slippery to climb. We were there for such a short time almost a year ago! And tonight he also brought up something we just mentioned in passing over a week ago. I guess it's time for us to watch what we say. And by 'we' I mean Lloyd.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Deductive Reasoning

This morning Lloyd was telling me a story about his friends at work, Stan and Bill, teasing him about having a mirror in the cockpit, and how pilots all think they're soooooo cool. Weston wanted to know what we were talking about, so we told him that Mr. Stan and Mr. Bill were making fun of Daddy because he's a pilot and they're not. He got that little puzzled look that I love and said, "But Mr. Stan and Mr. Bill are daddies, right?" We said yes, they are, and then he said, "But daddies are pilots!" We explained that not all daddies are pilots (me) and that only the very coolest most special daddies are pilots (Lloyd) and then he declared, "But my one is!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Into the wild blue yonder, yuk yuk

Today I attended a function where we sang patriotic songs. It was very fun and I found out someone else still remembers how to play 'This Land is Your Land' on the recorder. In case you're wondering, it's G,A,B,C,C,C,C,C,B,B,B,A,G,G,..... I managed to keep my inner second grader at bay and refrain from singing 'This land is my land, this land's not your land' so it was all good. At the very end, we sang the songs of all the services: 'Anchors Aweigh', 'The Marine Corps Hymn' (I had a hard time with this one, because I kept thinking of the Meacham kids' version in 'The Great Santini'), 'The Army Goes Rolling Along', and the rousing finale was 'The Air Force Song'. Now, I've heard the song before, of course, but I guess I had never actually listened to the words closely or looked at the lyrics. So take a look at the words below. Is it just me, or is this not a hilarious song?!?!?

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun hey!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one hell of a roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fox in the henhouse!

That would be me. The fox, that is. In more ways than one, but today I am talking about the thrift store! I went to thrift store volunteer training today. I am going to start working there for a couple of hours on Monday mornings while the boys are at 'school'. There were four new volunteers there today and they showed us all around the double top secret back room, and how to sort and price, and how to run the register. My friends, you will not believe this, but there are entire rooms of completely unsorted booty for me to pillage at will! The donations come in via a drop box. They get hauled in and sit until someone (me!) can sort them, then put into labeled bags for placement on the sales floor. Don't you just love my thrift store lingo? Oooooh, I can hardly wait til Monday!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I avoided the many temptations of the knockoff bag shop at the Dragon Hill Lodge this weekend but look at this little beauty I picked up at the thrift shop! It beckoned to me as soon as I walked in the door, but I averted my eyes and kept moving, virtuously shopping for an iron. They did have an iron, but it was priced outrageously at $4 so I didn't get it. With the savings, I was well able to afford the $3 purse, and come out a dollar ahead to boot!

American beef in South Korea

We spent the weekend at Yongsan Army Garrison, in Seoul. We decided not to take our tender, delectable flesh outside the safety of the Dragon Hill Lodge. Lloyd and Weston had lobster dinners while I chased Shane around the hotel. I asked Lloyd how it was, because he had been looking forward to it for months. He said, "It was just tension. Tension with flavor." And to think I could have financed months at the thrift store for what those lobsters cost!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Volleyball, Korean style

This is a game of...... Volleyball? Soccer? Tarsal tennis? Boot ball? I have no idea. The net is low, like a tennis net, but it's more similar to volleyball: There are six players on a side and it's three hits and over. But the kicker (hahahahaha) is that the ball can only be touched with the feet. I watched them play for a bit and it's amazing how easily they pass it to each other. I even saw one of them 'spike' it, which is impossible to describe.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I have just the right number of eybrow hairs

I was laying on the couch this morning when Weston came over and looked down on my face. He started petting my eyebrows with a little puzzled frown, then he said, "You have too many hairs in your eyebrows." He started pulling on them, and when he was done said, "There, now you have just the right number of hairs." But, I'm pretty sure he didn't remove any. And, I have no idea where he got the idea that there was such a thing as the right number of hairs. He has these very definite ideas about other things, too, like pets. I was talking about our new fish and I called them 'pets'. He started laughing uproariously as if that was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever hear (heck, perhaps it was!) and said that fish aren't pets. Rabbits are pets, cats are pets, dogs are pets, and turtles are pets. Birds, fish, lizards and snakes are not pets. I asked how he could tell what's a pet and what's not and he said that pets are soft. I pointed out that turtles are not soft but that did not have the persuasive effect I had intended.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Korea Beach

This is Weston at the beach a few weeks ago. Lloyd and Weston went for the squadron picnic. The entire squadron packed up in three big buses and went for the whole, entire, looooonnnngg day. Shane and I opted out of the trip because the very thought made my entire body quiver with dread. All we know about the location is that it is on the west coast and it takes about two hours on the bus to get there. It looks similar to a pacific northwest beach, with sand, rocks, tidepools and little sea creatures.

Buraksan Park

We went hiking to Buraksan Park this morning. Lloyd found it yesterday when he went on a mountain biking trip with some friends. It's a really neat park with some nice wide paved trails and some goat trails. We took the stroller and stuck to the paved areas, but it was pretty steep in places and it was a good workout, especially with 40 extra pounds strapped on the back. The trails wind around gardens, outdoor sculpture and a cemetery. There are benches along the way to rest, and a 'service area' where you can buy lemonade and ice cream from a cart. The most interesting thing to me was how similar the vegetation and animals are to the ones at home. We saw wild strawberries, clover, pine trees, poplar trees, honeysuckle, chipmunks, magpies, ducks, egrets, ibis, great blue heron, pheasant, chickadees, and multiple other familiar things I don't know the names of. The smell is the same, too: stale cheerios soaked with pee. Come to think of it, that's how it smells everywhere we go. Yes, I am joking. We have been making our best effort but haven't yet managed to stink up the great outdoors of an entire Asian country. It smells like pine in the sunshine and honeysuckle.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The family dynasty

This is the Services Magazine that comes out every month. The one on the bottom is the May issue with Lloyd on the bottom of the cover. He is about in the middle of the group of runners, and you can spot him because he is the only one with his white t-shirt tail hanging out. The page on the top is from the June issue, and Shane is in the upper right with his viking hat on. The picture was taken at a party at the CDC.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Things I like!

Reusable shopping bags. I have had the black and white ones for about a year, and they rock!

Phil and Ted's Vibe Stroller. I have last year's model of the Phil and Ted's Sport Buggy with the doubles seat, and it is a perfectly adequate stroller and I like it very much. The new Phil and Ted's Vibe, though, fills me with burning stroller lust or BSL. I'm pretty sure that's a real ailment. But there is no cure that I know of. Must. Control.Clicking.Finger.

Green Acre Diapers. Shane uses these. These are so cute I don't even like to put pants over them.

This is awesome crusty bread you can make at home and it is so easy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New family members

We have inherited two guppies and a plecostomus from a family that is leaving. They don't have names yet but I'm sure Weston will come up with some. He has an imaginary dog named 'Supper' and has just acquired an imaginary cat whose name I can neither pronounce nor spell.

Little man at work

This is Weston on our deck. I have a couple of big pots of dirt out there and he can't resist it.

Sunday Morning

Shane howled half the night on Saturday night. At 4:58, he was up for the day, and at 5:12 Weston was up too. By 6:30 Shane had dialed Lloyd's commanding officer on the cell phone and Weston had broken a bottle of beer on the kitchen floor. It took us a while to figure out why the Colonel sounded so groggy, because at our house it was halfway to lunch time.

May 2008

I finally have my blog online, and I am trying to catch it up. And then I'm going to try to keep it updated. I have a new system, you see. I have this newfangled thing called a date book, where I write what is known as a 'to-do' list. Then, every day I look at my 'to-do' list and it tells me what to do! So, I will add 'write blog post' to my list, and it's all but done. I have heard of these date books before, of course, but I have never been an early adapter; I like to wait until they have all the bugs worked out.

We have moved on base, to the Hallasan Tower. We like it very much- we have a lot more room here and it's very convenient being on base. There have been a few minor issues with the elevators, the hot water, the dryer, and the blinds but since the building was built by the Corps, I have total confidence.

Shane had his birthday on May 11th. I had the crud again so we didn't have much of a party, though he did appreciate the chocolate cake Weston and I made for him.

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day from Osan! We are having our first ‘Yellow Dust Alert’ of the year. Apparently this is sand from China that blows our way during the spring.

Another thing I have noticed here is that many of the cars have a little sign on the lower corner of the front window on the driver’s side. The signs have a picture of a tow truck and a phone number, and they vary in design and material. Some are just handwritten, some look like little decals, and I even saw one done in needlepoint. I am speculating that the intent is for a tow truck driver to call the owner if the car is about to be towed. It seems like a good idea, and we have seen many, many cars parked in no parking zones.

Weston has been going to ‘school’ two mornings a week and is getting huge! He is very interested in various experiments. Right now we have a bowl of dirt, water and soap on the bathroom floor, a jar of raspberry and asian pear juice in the refrigerator waiting to be made into vinegar, and garlic and potato plants growing in a pot. We put the extra potting soil in his plastic sled so he could run his Tonka equipment around in there. I told him to keep the dirt in the sled but that didn’t work out so well. It’s in the little glassed-in room off his bedroom. We call it his ‘special room’ and you have to climb across his bed and through a big window to get in there. I have stopped looking out there but there is potting soil tracked across his bed about every day.

Shane has learned to point and every night when he is supposed to go to sleep, he sits up and points at the door. Over, and over, and over. He and Weston play surprisingly well together. I think Weston is too rough on him, but it doesn’t seem to bother him for the most part. It’s pretty hard to convince Weston to be gentle with him when he just laughs at all the mistreatment. Oh, except for the choking incident. He didn’t much care for that.

Last week was the Lunar New Year, and this place was a ghost town. I read that 75% of the people here travel for the holiday and that it could take 12 hours to get the 45 miles from here to Seoul, and 24 hours to get from Seoul to Pusan (about 200 miles). We didn’t test it, but you can just think of that the next time you’re sitting on the freeway….

Speaking of driving, I have an update: I have successfully driven to the Main Gate! Previously I had only been to our back gate that is about a half mile away with only one turn. If I had my way I would have never gone to the Main Gate, which is not much further but requires driving through town. We live on a narrow road, and we park on the street in front of the apartment. When I come and go from the back gate, I have to pass our apartment and turn around at a busy intersection beyond our building in order to be pointed the correct way to go back down the hill to the back gate. I usually try to do this on my way home so the van is oriented correctly the next time but sometimes I get lazy and park pointing the other way, then turn around when I go back out. This, however, is dangerous- last week I was unable to turn around because of terrible traffic in the turning intersection: it was Sunday, and there were a whole herd of Korean Catholics on foot and three tour buses in the intersection. I was horrified and nauseated when I realized that I had no option but to continue down the road, through the intersection and past the point of no return. And don’t think you can just keep going and then turn around a little further down the road, oh no! Once you pass the intersection you are deep in the heart of town with the winding alleys, one way streets, wild dogs, and little old pedestrians in SARS masks. Anyhoo, I made it without incident, hunched over my steering wheel, dodging teeny Korean cars hurtling willy-nilly through the streets, babies howling in the back. I need a drink just writing about it.

Well, that’s it for now- I’ll leave you with my favorite Weston quote of the week: “Mama, you have a big butt!”

February 5, 2008

Things are going well here in Korea. We just took our first trip to Seoul for the weekend. It was very easy- we just took a bus from the base here to Yongsan Army Garrison. We stayed at the Dragon Hill Lodge, which is one of the military's four resorts around the world. The others are in Hawaii, Edelweiss, and DisneyWorld. It has shopping, restaurants and etc.right there- in fact, there is so much right there we didn't even need to leave the lodge! They even had a little shop selling knockoff bags, right there in the hotel, and I couldn't resist a "kate spade" tote with zebras on it. Think of it- no need to brave the local community to stock up on cheap counterfeit goods. I love it! Also available were old navy outlet fleece hats and scarves, and surprisingly good mexican food. They had some walls that were brick art by a Seattle artist. I can't even think of how to describe it- it was a kind of 3-D mural made out of bricks that all fit together and had a sun motif. It actually looked a little Aztecan (if that's a word). On the way back, we had to sit at the bus depot/activity center for a little while and I noticed something interesting: The Korean people were playing pool and ping pong at the available tables, while the American people were watching ultimate fighting on TV. And don't think I'm being all morally superior here- true, I was explaining how to play pool to Weston instead of cheering for 'Grizzly', but I was also midway through a family sized bag of skittles.

And of course, I went to the base thrift shop, because I am totally jonesing for thrifting! Our thrift shop on Osan is only open on Tuesdays for 4 hours, and I am nannyless and haven't been for a while, so I really needed a fix. The one at Yongsan has more stuff but it is also more expensive but I did get a book on wind and hurricanes for Weston, very handy because Lloyd and I recently had a relatively heated argument about what to tell him causes wind. The worst part is that Lloyd was right. I haven't told him though. On a related note, I recently discovered where you list the books you're willing to give away. It's free, and if you list 10, you get two credits to order new to you books, and then you get an additional credit for each one of yours you send out. If you're interested, put my email in for referring you and I will get a credit. That would be great, because our library here is small and I am really going through the books...

Weston had a good time in the room, checking out all the amenities. He opened one closet and pulled out an iron. He held it up and said, 'Hey, what is this thing? I've never seen one of these before!" I explained that it was an iron and some people use one because they don't like wrinkles on their clothes. He got his little puzzled look and said, "What are wrinkles?"

We did get downtown to the market, which was very interesting. All the goods are grouped together, so baby clothes vendors are all together, kitchenware is all together, etc. Some of the vendors are outside, and some are inside store fronts. I bought the cutest pair of corduroy lined jeans for Weston, but he won't wear them because they are 'too tight'. They fit him perfectly but are cut skinnier than what he's used too. It's too bad, too, because they are so cute- he looks like a little rock and roller in them. Oh well, maybe Shane will wear them when he gets big enough. Or maybe that's 8,000 won (about $8) down the drain.

One of my books about Korea says Seoul is the second most expensive city after Moscow. Maybe that is out of date, or maybe it is an exaggeration, but we did pay 5,000 won each (about $5) for a cup of green tea and a strawberry soda when we had lunch at the market. Food wasn't bad, though- about $7 for a good sized plate of fried rice or chicken stir fry. But don't let that stop you from visiting!

December 20, 2007

Things here are going well. It is getting very cold and we have even had a little snow here and there. Lloyd found a place to take Weston fishing- it's a small lake stocked with rainbow trout. You pay 15,000 won (about $15) and you can fish all day and take a picnic. When they went, it was pretty crowded with people fly fishing. It's mostly catch and release but you can take one fish home. They didn't catch anything when they went because they didn't have the right bait, but now they know how to do it. On the way home Weston said he was sad because he didn't catch any fish, and said that Shane and I would be sad too. He cheered up quick, though, when Lloyd took him to watch the trains. We are near the main north-south tracks and there are trains every few minutes, which he loves.

We did get an artificial Christmas tree- I was just going to decorated a plant or make some kind of display to put the presents around, but someone gave us a 6 foot tree. We don't love having a fake tree, but it actually looks pretty good. Shane is very interested in the lights. The BX sold out of lights and ornaments really quickly but we were able to find a few things downtown.

I haven't been getting my coffee quota here- the Starbucks on base is more expensive than normal ($3.10 for a hot chocolate!) and they don't have decaf. Apparently the South Korean government doesn't allow chemically decaffeinated beans. It seems a little strange because they do allow pesticides that are banned in the US. They also don't allow gift cards, so the Starbucks cards available for sale at the BX can't be used at the Starbucks right next door.

The South Korean presidential election was yesterday and I didn't know about it until I saw it on this morning; isn't that appalling?? But in my defense, I can't understand the news, so I never even look at it, and there have been no signs or banners, at least around here.

I have been buying convenience packs of kimchi at the commissary. Kimchi is Chinese cabbage, chopped up with a spicy sauce made of something like tobasco, fish paste and garlic. It sounds really gross, I know, but it's actually good, and you can't taste the fish paste at all. We like it fresh, but I understand that it is fermented underground in big jars. Koreans have it with every meal and it can also be made with cucumbers and other vegetables.

We have been having some trouble doing the laundry- I think I might have written earlier that most Koreans don't have dryers and we had to specifically request one and get the hole cut for the vent. The drain for the washer is just a hole in the floor, and when the washer drains, the hole isn't big enough to keep up, I guess, because it puts about three inches of water on the laundry room floor. The water gets up all under the dryer and does something that pops the circuit breaker. That happened for several days in a row before I figured it out, so now I am doing extra small loads to minimize the water that comes out, and not running both the washer and dryer at the same time, which equals constant laundry. We have definitely decided we want to get on base in the spring if we can. I am really tired of not having a dishwasher too. The sink is big and deep and when it gets full, there are tons of dishes to do. I don't realize how much they are piling up because they're hidden in the sink for so long, and then all of a sudden there is this huge pile.

Shane is doing well, almost crawling. He has his two bottom teeth in and I think the top ones might be coming along soon. I can't feel them yet but he is gnawing and drooling all the time and is fussy quite a bit the last few days.

Well, I guess that's it for now- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Korea!

Stories from November 2007

Things here are going well. Shane is 6 months now and is sitting up and wanting to crawl. He is tearing around in the walker we borrowed from the base and it is too funny. He wants to be doing everything that Weston is doing and gets so mad when he can't. Weston turned 3 last month and has been using the toilet for over a week now. He can't wear underwear though or he can't tell when he needs to go so he just goes commando. I am a little under the weather from the 'Korean Crud'- apparently a common affliction among people who have just arrived. It has been lingering for several weeks and I am hoping it will go away soon. It is an annoying cough and sore throat. It is very dusty here and some people think that's what causes it. It is so dusty that there are new dust bunnies showing up almost every day. Think of it, I can have here overnight with no effort at all what it would normally take months of neglect to accomplish!

Our apartment is nice- it's small but cleverly laid out so it is roomy enough. Several of the rooms have glassed-in finished balcony-type rooms on the outside wall for storage. The floors are a wood laminate and the walls are light, with wallpaper over some kind of manufactured non-wood, non-sheetrock product. I know this because I have repeatedly tried to tack things up and have only managed to bend the tacks. There are lots of big frosted window, so lots of light but you can't see outside. One of the funny things is the bathrooms- we have western style toilets but there is no shower stall- the shower is just mounted in the corner and there is a drain in the floor. The appliances and cupboards are all very sleek and modern looking. We had to have a dryer installed specially- most Koreans don't have them- they use a folding rack that unfolds into what looks like a circular clothesline. I would like to have one but don't have anywhere to put it. Maybe in one of the glassed in storage/balcony rooms, but we have them stuffed full of junk already!

We have cable with about 40 Korean stations and three English channels (the Air Force channel, Discovery, and one that plays reruns of sitcoms sometimes. The National Geographic channel sometimes has shows in English also). The Korean channels are interesting- several QVC type channels, lots of game show channels and lots of animation. We find the QVC channels especially intriguing because it is so much the same, yet so different. The hosts have the same faux-sincere enthusiasm in their voices and joyful expressions on their faces and some of the products are similar. When they are selling kitchen gadgets and food, they show lots of fish and seaweed and of course the screen is covered in Korean words. There is also a fishing channel, and a channel that shows Korean soap operas, which are very over the top in dramatic expression.

The terrain here is hilly and the roads are narrow. There are lots of little garden plots right on the roads and there are often people and dogs sitting right by the road as you go by. The driving is crazy- people blow right through the stop signs, and pedestrians (and there are a lot of them!) don't even look before they cross or step into the roadway.

Recycling is mandatory here and apparently everything can be recycled. There is even a bin for clothes. You can get a fine of up to $500 for failing to recycle. Garbage has to be put in special clear bags so "they" can see if there are any recyclables in the trash. I believe "they" is the city government but I'm not certain. We haven't been brave enough to throw anything away yet.

The people are very friendly- they come right up to see and touch Weston and Shane. Shane eats it right up, but Weston doesn't love it so much. He is getting more tolerant of it though. I have a phrase book but I haven't tried to use any words yet. Even a simple phrase has a lot of syllables and it's a very fluid language. Around here everyone speaks enough English that we wouldn't have to even try Korean, but if we get away from here nobody speaks English. We went to Emart the other day so Lloyd and Weston could get fishing poles. Emart is a huge store like a Target or similar, and it looks like a small sports arena from the outside. They had people outside directing traffic in the parking lot and tons of employees inside- many more than you would see in the states. To get a shopping cart you have to use a 100 won coin (approximately a dime) to release it from the cart corral. It took us a while to figure it out, then we didn't have any coins, so we went without a cart. It has two floors and has an inclined moving ramp to get upstairs, instead of an escalator, so you can take your cart (if you were clever enough to have obtained one, of course….)

We have eaten at some Korean restaurants and also at McDonald's (okay, twice). I am a little embarrassed about coming to Korea and eating at McDonald's but I can justify it in the name of research. I was very curious about whether it was the same. And, it is- mostly. The fries are the same, but the burgers are slightly different. I think it is the ketchup, which is thicker and sweeter (in my opinion at least; Lloyd does not necessarily agree), and the bun, which is denser and thicker. The coke here is the same but the diet is different- it tastes as if it may have ginger in it. Of course I have no idea, because I can't read the ingredients.