Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Birthday party fun

Today, Weston and I went to his very first 'real' birthday party. The party was for his friend Hannah, who turned 4 today. Weston and Hannah are very good friends, and they spend a lot of time playing together at school. The party was fun and Hannah had a smiley-face ice cream cake; chocolate on chocolate. She is definitely my kind of girl!

For Weston's birthday, I am planning a solar cake system: a small yellow cake for a sun, then cupcake 'planets'. I have two problems for which I am seeking assistance. The most pressing issue, of course, is how many freaking planets are there? And running a close second: how do I construct a Saturn cupcake? I welcome any suggestions, so send me your clever ideas! Weston and Hannah are waiting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nine, eight, eleven, thirteen; I'm so confused!

How many planets are there? That's a simple question, right? Everyone knows there are nine planets! Lloyd even has a mnemonic device from school that he made up and still remembers: Most Vampires Eat Moldy Jeans Don't You Know Peter. I get the 'you' for Uranus and the 'know' for Neptune, but I'm not so sure about the 'don't' for Saturn. But wait, didn't they decide that Pluto isn't a planet anymore? So that's eight, right? Yeah, eight. Nine minus one equals eight. No question about it. Eight.

Weston has all these books about space and most of them predate Pluto's demotion, so we have been very careful to tell him that Pluto isn't a planet even if some books show it that way. This made us feel very smug and up to date on the latest planetary happenings.

Yesterday, he was wondering if Phobos has any volcanoes, Phobos being one of Mars' moons. In the course of looking it up, I discovered there are now eleven planets! What, you say?!?!?!? Yeah, me too! What are these extra three planets and how did they get into our solar system?!?!? As luck would have it, I was at the library yesterday afternoon and saw a new book called '11 Planets A New View of the Solar System'. I snapped it up and got the 411 on the planets.

WELL, it turns out that after considerable heated debate in astronomy circles, Pluto, Ceres and Eris are now considered dwarf planets. So eight (regular planets) plus three (dwarf planets) equals eleven planets. What, you never heard of Ceres or Eris? Me neither, but apparently they have been around quite a while. Ceres was actually discovered long ago and considered the fifth planet out for quite some time. Eris was discovered in 2003; you'd think I might have noticed. So that's eleven. For sure. The book says so and everything.

But, wait, that's not the end of the story! You'd think I might have learned not to be smug, but no. I thought I was right on top of it, until I was writing this, and I discovered there are two more dwarf planets: Haumea and Makemake, and to make it more complicated, some of the dwarf planets are considered plutoids. So, let's see: that's eleven plus two, so thirteen. But do I minus the four plutoids, back to nine? I'm so confused; seriously, I would have no idea how to answer if someone asked me how many planets there are. And don't even get me started on how many moons Jupiter has! I guess I will have to wait until Weston is a space scientist to find out for sure.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The plastic dog poop can't be too far off now

Today, I got several glimpses of Weston's emerging sense of humor, and I have just two words for you: not funny. We went out to the park to play with his new birthday rocket this morning, and we split up on the way home so I could pick up the mail. Lloyd and the boys went directly home, or so they said. We were testing Lloyd's handheld radios, so they knew where I was the whole time. As I rounded a corner near the O' club, they jumped out and shouted, 'Bang!' Now, this is the kind of thing I have grown to expect and tolerate (barely) from Lloyd, but I was surprised by Weston's enthusiastic participation. He was doubled over, and there is no other word for it, he was chortling. He laughed all the way home as I scowled and tried to explain that we would have to agree to disagree about what was funny. He kept saying, "But we thought it was funny!"

Then, this afternoon, he started making poop jokes. He asked me repeatedly, "Are we having poop for dinner?", and then he would laugh uncontrollably and roll around on the fair. Again, not funny. Well, not funny to me. But a boy wearing earmuffs and no pants vacuuming the floor? Now, that's funny.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Parenting advice from me and Helen

That's going to be the title of my parenting book. Catchy, yes? Helen is the greatest. Her house is almost as messy as mine, so that makes her about my favorite person. That, plus her charm and good looks, of course. I'm not one of those shallow, superficial people who only likes someone because of her messy house. We were at the playground the other day and Weston and her son, Jack, were drawing on the slides with crayons, and there was a very disapproving-looking mom looking on. You know the one, with squinchy eyes and frowny-mouth. Neither of us had a wipe or any other means to clean off the slide, but graffiti is art now, right? I hear it might even be an Olympic sport soon. Take that, Squinchy Sue! Anyway, we got to talking about cleaning up crayon marks and I learned something new: It is impossible to clean up crayon marks off the wall if they have been licked on. Even if the crayon is washable. She learned this the other day- she got out of the shower to find that her daughter had drawn on all the walls, then chewed up the crayon, then licked the walls. The drawings cleaned right up, but the tongue marks remain, despite vigorous scrubbing. With experience like that, she is obviously highly qualified to give parenting advice, and I can recommend her blog 'Tips from the Trenches' without reservation. I can smell the royalty payments now. Burgundy cowhide coats for everyone!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My sincerest, most hearftelt apologies

I fear I have been depriving you of tales from the thrift store lately. In an attempt to make amends, here are some pictures of my latest finds. The purse is an authentic fake Coach, in excellent condition. I am especially excited about the black and burgundy jacket, and I found a j jill knit skirt that matches it nicely. My friend Jennifer says it looks like a cow who wandered into the Kool-Aid factory, but I'm pretty sure she is just jealous. And, the last picture is of some winter things I have found for the boys.

We get some really great things at the thrift store, and some things that are just really weird. Lately I have seen a remote control tarantula, a bag full of ketchup and soy sauce packets, and a whole bag full of mismatched socks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Grandpa's Chicken Teriyaki, adapted by Weston

1 package of chicken breasts
Crushed Garlic
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Watch mom make marinade and ask to help. After marinade is completed per Grandpa's recipe, take fork and carefully poke holes in chicken to tenderize. When mom leaves the room for split second, add 1 bottle of water and 1 box of raisins to marinade. Continue stabbing chicken and splash marinade in large circle on kitchen floor. Act annoyed when instructed that when helping mom cook, directions must be followed exactly. Insist that the new marinade is better, then request 8 bazillion stories about outer space.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who doesn't love a good jody?

Tonight was the first Parent Support Group meeting here on base. We had a good turnout and heard an interesting presentation on developmental milestones. After that we had some facilitated discussion about dealing with tantrums, and then we talked about topics for future meetings. There were a lot of great ideas: sibling rivalry, potty training, behavioral problems, sleep issues, and lots more.

One of the ideas was to have a marital communication seminar, because the active duty people here work a lot, and the spouses sometimes get the short end of the stick, so to speak. For example, active duty members get time for PT during their work day, but it's hard for us spouses to find time to work out, so we thought it would be great if we could have our own PT time, complete with our own jodies, which are the cadences that military members chant when they run. I'm not especially clever at poetry, but I thought I'd give it a try:

Sound Off!
We hear you say, you have to fly
You'll be at work real late
Whatever you say, get out of our way
We've got a busy day!
Hit the store, get the mail
Then go out and play
Clean, lunch, naps, read
There's always more to do
We're the moms of Osan,
Who the hell are you?
Sound Off!

If you have a better one, please share!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Welcome Back, Carter!

Welcome back, Welcome back, Welcome back......

Carter came back, and this time he was prepared. Pretty clever, Carter's mom, and it gave me a great idea. If you'll look closely you can see that there is plenty of room next to the Shout Wipes on his back for his SCRUB issued cleaning supplies: Windex on the right, Pledge on the left, and a roll of paper towels wrapped around the waist. And maybe a helmet with a toilet brush strapped to it. I'm picturing something like this.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Modest Proposal: SCRUB

We moms here at Osan face some serious problems: child care and household help. Also the communist hordes over the border, working on their nuclear reactors, but this blog concerns itself with REAL problems. Housekeepers here are called Ahjimas (awe-jah-mahs) and their whereabouts are closely guarded secrets. These wonderful Korean ladies will clean, do laundry, and perform various other household tasks. Almost every day desperate moms can be heard begging for someone, anyone, to give them a phone number. But today I think I've solved both these problems (child care and household help, not the whole communist thing) in one fell swoop. Behold, my new troupe of Short Children Rubbing Up Blecchhh. I call them SCRUB for short, and here's how it works: You bring your kids to me to 'babysit', and I hire them out to the desperate moms to wash windows, water plants, clean walls, scrub floors and do those other dirty little tasks. They're great for those hard-to-reach spots! You can see them in action in the video. If you are with the Nobel Prize Committee, I can be reached at: storiesfromkorea@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Give me your peels, your eggshells, your coffee grounds

I am really excited about a new project I'm working on- the Osan Children's Community Garden. The Osan Parent Network was one of the recipients of the 2008 Newman's Own Award and one of the things we are doing with the award is building a children's community garden. There is a perfect spot for it behind the hospital and we are working on planning our layout and projects. We are lucky to have quite a few gardeners here interested in it, and they have great ideas for gardening projects for the kids: a pizza garden, flower pressing, butterfly gardening, and lots more.

One of the first things we need to do is a get a composter going, because we are going to need a lot of good dirt as quickly as possible. It will have to be the enclosed drum-type because we can't have any smells or rats. Besides the ones that are already here, I mean. I haven't seen anything local, so we will probably have to figure out a way to get one shipped from the states, though I am going to investigate further. I'm sure it will be a bit of a challenge, so I need some help from y'all: Does anyone have suggestions for brands or types of composters and/or have a contact in the composting industry?

Also, I will cheerfully accept donations of kids' gardening supplies (gloves, books, tools). If you have things laying around you no longer use, please send them my way! In fact, I'll give an authentic Korean prize for every donation.

Update on babysitting post

I ran into Carter's mom at the playground yesterday, and fortunately, she has NOT decided to never let us see Carter again. She even offered to dirty my kids up good if it would make me feel better. She has a dog to slobber on them and everything. Of course, I immediately agreed. But then I thought it would be more neighborly of me to get them good and filthy myself and then take them over there to save her some work. Anyone have a big, stinky, hairy, drooling dog I can borrow?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You're going to let ME babysit?!

What are you, crazy? Don't you read my blog???? Oh, you do? And you're still going to let your kid come stay at my house? Okay, then, better stock up on the Spray and Wash. And something for the clothes, too.

One of the really great things about living at Osan is our babysitting co-op. It is awesome; there is always someone who can babysit, even on short notice. Weston and Shane love it when some of the other kids come over. The other day we had Carter, a little redheaded cutie-pie, over for an hour or so. He arrived in a natty little matching shirt and shorts, crisp and clean. He had a diaper bag with his name on it, filled with healthy snacks. Weston had another friend over and we were making cinnamon rolls. I had a chunk of dough for each kid so they could all make their own roll with raisins, cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips, but I guess Carter and Shane were a little young for the sous chef assignment, because they both just started stuffing the dough in their mouths. A scant hour later, when Carter went home, he had green marker streaked on his shirt, arms and legs. He had a cinnamon sugar goatee, melted chocolate under his fingernails and a bellyfull of dough. I hope we'll see him again but I'm not holding my breath. And there's plenty of other kids around here to dirty up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hey, watch where you point that thing!

And, one more t-shirt design. This one is from Stefan, my fabulously talented brother-in-law. I like it, but I'm a little concerned about one thing. Is it just me or does this shirt make breastmilk look really scary in a glowing, evil way? I'm thinking I'd like to convey breastmilk as warm and nurturing, instead of a terrifying burst of liquid DEATH.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weston's projects

I was out for a little while today, and when I returned, Weston excitedly showed me his 'project' on the deck. It is a pitcher with water, dirt and one of our two green tomatoes. The green tomatoes we have waited all summer for. The ones Lloyd jealously hovers over and inspects every day. He knows better, and I asked him why he had picked the tomato. He told me he wanted to 'see what would happen'. He thinks the tomato will grow, but I'm pretty sure that is not what's going to happen when Lloyd sees his precioussssss floating in the swamp.

Later, while I was getting Shane to sleep, Weston emptied a box of Triscuits and carefully placed them up and down the hallway, 'to add them'. I came out and told him I didn't want to see any more Triscuits on the floor, and then Shane started to fuss. I went back in to get Shane back to sleep, and when I came out, Weston had moved on from Triscuits to pages torn from relatively important documents. He called these his 'menus'. Shane didn't sleep long, and when he got up, I took off his diaper to change it. As soon as he was naked, he took off down the hall, selected his favorite menu, and peed about a gallon right on top of it.

Earlier in the week, I turned my back on Weston for about a jillionth of a second and he made a 'popsicle' in a glass out of water, applesauce, and a chunk of butter. He put a straw in it for a stick and it remains in the freezer. Anyone want to come over for a nice, cool treat? And for your reading pleasure, you can enjoy the alphabet, in big red chalky letters on our living room wall. I really think he's clever; I just wish sometimes he would be showcase his brilliance elsewhere.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Milk Maid, take two

This is the new, improved 'Milk Maid' nursing t-shirt. All in all, much better. Nice job, Tommy; udderly mammalicious! But we think we need to add a slogan to make it perfectly clear to even the most casual observer that it is, in fact, a nursing themed t-shirt, so that we can wear them around the base without fear of being misunderstood. The potential for humiliation would be very high. Almost as high as taking Shane to the BX, which hovers around 100%.

Some ideas from breastfeeding support group this morning:

'I make milk; what's your superpower?', and
'Got Milk'?

Any other suggestions?

Happy September 12th!

In honor of Chusok, the upcoming Korean Thanksgiving-type holiday, I am posting some photos from our local downtown area, right outside the Main Gate. I always love to read the signs- what makes me laugh the most is not so much the fractured English, but the bluntness and complete lack of subtlety. The 'Love Shop' sign, for example.

There is a clothing store off one of the alley that sells women's clothes in larger sizes. This should be a really great selling point, because most of the shops sell clothes sized for Korean women, and they are MUCH smaller. You would think the shop would attract a lot of American customers, but their sign says 'We Sell Big Lady Clothes Here' in giant letters. Would you go in there? Nope, me neither.

The last picture is one of the many bag shops here. We will be staying home for Chusok, as they say the traffic jams can be terrible because everyone travels over the holiday to give thanks, celebrate the harvest and honor their ancestors. That's all fine and good, but as for me, I am thankful for a long weekend, funny signs, and knock-off bags!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Inside Ground Zero, Part 4

In a place that had so many surrealistic qualities, the strangest and most eerie to me were the small restaurants and shops turned into supply depots or medical clinics. One place on Liberty Street was a deli, and the soup of the day and other menu selections were still written on the chalkboard, covered with dust. The windows were gone, and the glass front ice cream case that held the big tubs of ice cream was full of medical supplies. Doctors from the Public Health Service conducted their business at the small round tables near the front windows where people used to drink their coffee and read the morning paper. Up the street, there’s a Burger King that looked just like the thousands of other Burger Kings across the country, except that the cash registers were ripped out and the stainless steel counters held milk crates full of candy, granola bars and chips. Letters and banners from children to rescue workers papered the walls, and the food preparation area in the back was stacked full of supplies. The Brooks Brothers store on Church Street became a temporary morgue. Spray-painted signs on plywood advertised the new “businesses”.

There were some truly wonderful things about Ground Zero, as hard as it is to imagine. At the top of that list are the people who lined the streets outside the compound, night after night, cheering, waving signs, and offering bottles of water as we left for the night. There were so many organizations providing food and services for workers- the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT), and McDonalds, just to name a few. They cheerfully provided everything from steel-toed boots to clergy to endless cups of coffee, and I will always remember Ground Zero and the people there with mixed emotions.

Our mission was over during the first week of October, when FEMA brought in permanent command posts and administrative staff. I left New York from LaGuardia Airport, and returned to Seattle to a welcome home party in my parent’s peaceful garden and gifts from friends and neighbors, a changed person.

I no longer care how much money my husband spends on what I consider unnecessary fishing gear or how many pairs of hundred dollar sunglasses he loses or breaks. I don’t care if a train blocks my route for a half hour. I don’t care if the person in front of me in the express line has more than twelve items. I would like to think I’ve become a nicer, gentler, more patient person. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that my priorities are very different now than they were on September 10th, 2001.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Inside Ground Zero, Part 3

After we were there a few days, we were tasked by FEMA to provide administrative support to FDNY, consisting of teams of two, 24 hours a day, at each of the four sectors. The administrative team developed and maintained a database of the recoveries. FDNY had maintained a good log from the start, but each sector was keeping its own log, handwritten in a ledger book. It took a few days to get in enough people to meet the new staffing requirement, so I took a shift at Liberty Sector, and one at Church Sector, logging finds. Some of the people doing this really bonded with the firefighters, but I had a very difficult time with this duty. The reports we were logging in were graphic and disturbing. I felt strange logging items with names on them, like credit cards and driver’s licenses, knowing that I was among the first to know that something associated with a missing person had been found. The entire fire department was in such visible pain, and I never knew what to do or say. Church Sector was particularly bad- it was located at Engine 10/Ladder 10, the closest FDNY firehouse to the World Trade Center, just across Liberty Street from the South Tower. It was rewarding in a way, too, though; I felt like I was actually doing something to help. I didn’t always feel that way while I was writing planning reports. I was relieved when enough people arrived that I didn’t have to go back. After that, I worked mostly in our own “office” at West and Vesey, at the northwest corner of the site, except when I made my daily rounds to check on the staff and supplies.

I disliked walking around the perimeter of the pile, but it was compelling. The smell was terrible, especially on the east side of the site where the Church and Vesey Sectors were. The smell was a thick combination of decay, ash, smoke, burning chemicals, jet fuel and concrete that I will never forget. At the end of the day, it clung to clothes and felt like a coating on the skin. I was drawn to watch the work going on because the constant activity was amazing; the site changed daily. It reminded me of an anthill; every ant intent on doing his or her job, oblivious to everything else going on. Consolidated Edison fixing power lines; Verizon fixing phone lines and vaults; USAR teams and FDNY searching voids; construction companies clearing and moving debris; engineers assessing buildings; NYPD securing the site; volunteers proving food, cots, showers, phones, counseling and massages; and the endless list goes on.

Another difficult experience was seeing family members of the dead and missing come through the site. They were brought in groups of fifty or so, and there was no mistaking them. Many appeared broken, devastated and raw. Seeing their faces when they looked on the still-smoking pile was unbearable, and I had to turn my head and look the other way. I tried to avoid them as much as possible.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Inside Ground Zero, Part 2

The task of my team was to support the Corps’ Deployable Tactical Operation System (DTOS), deployed to Ground Zero from the Corps District in Mobile, Alabama. The DTOS is a contingent of self-contained mobile command posts, consisting of RV-type vehicles with office space and satellite communications. Six DTOS units were set up, four around the perimeter of the site for FDNY use, and one each for FEMA and the Corps. The FDNY units were set up at the corners of West and Vesey (West Sector), West and Liberty (Liberty Sector), Church and Liberty (Church Sector) and Church and Vesey (Vesey Sector). The Corps and FEMA units were set up near the corner of West and Vesey. My primary job was developing and implementing planning documents, such as a mission plan, safety plan, evacuation plan, and transition plan. I worked the day shift. We left our hotel, the Hilton Towers in mid-town Manhattan near Radio City Music Hall, at 6 a.m. We got back to the hotel at about 8 p.m. every night, seven days a week. The van rides back to the hotel were decompression time. I usually rode with five other women and one unlucky man. Each trip back to the hotel, we passed a gigantic billboard on E 50th Street of a guy wearing striped underwear, and each night, we hooted and hollered as if we’d never seen him before.

The site was covered with tents and trailers, homes to every conceivable organization: FDNY, NYPD, New York/New Jersey Port Authority, EPA, Coast Guard, Urban Search and Rescue, Fire Departments from all over, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and a myriad others. Our immediate neighbors were the EPA, doing regular monitoring of the air quality at the site; a search and rescue team from the Albany, New York Fire Department; and the Salvation Army. We made friends right away with all the neighbors- there was a feeling of camaraderie, and the exchange of information was very important. I would learn more about what was going on at the site at night on the news than I would after being there all day. Everyone was busy doing his or her own small part, and no one had a handle on what was going on overall. The EPA crews would borrow our golf carts to carry their monitoring equipment, and keep us updated on what they were finding. The Albany Fire Department had a good supply of ear plugs, rain ponchos, and other things that they were happy to share with us. The Salvation Army was outstanding, providing three meals a day, around the clock, out of a mobile kitchen, rain or shine.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Inside Ground Zero, Part 1 of 4

On September 11, 2001, at a little after 6 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, I was on my way to work when I heard the morning show host on KMPS 94.1 FM start talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York City. I immediately thought of a small, single engine plane, then of the B-25 that hit the Empire State Building in July of 1945. Naively, I though to myself, “I hope no one was hurt.” Then the radio host said that eyewitnesses reported that the plane was the size of a 737, and I thought, “They must be overreacting; that’s ridiculous.” I was bored of the topic already, and didn’t think it was any big deal. I wanted to hear some music, but the radio host kept talking. I turned the radio off and went to work. When I got to work in the Emergency Management Branch at the Seattle District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the television was already on in the Emergency Operations Center and people were spilling out of its open doors.

I was busy that week, working on a presentation for Corps employees that encouraged them to volunteer for emergency duty. The Emergency Management Branch is a small office, with only eight employees, and it relies on volunteers from other offices to fill emergency missions. Corps emergency missions are most often associated with natural disasters- hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. I am on the Logistics Planning and Response Team (LPRT), and when deployed for a disaster response, we are responsible for tracking commodities and personnel, and for property accountability.

Five days later, I waited in a line of about 1500 people at the United counter at SeaTac Airport. The scene was chaotic, and the United employees were frazzled and short. One of the customer service agents was a family member of one of my good friends, and he didn’t recognize me. I was on my way to Ground Zero.

On the morning of September 17, I got my first glimpse of the ruined site. It was about 6 a.m., still dark, as my team traveled down West Street. We went through several checkpoints, staffed by NYPD or the National Guard. As we got closer, we could see the smoke rising from the site, backlit by the immense lights used to illuminate the site at night. Giant cranes were visible through the smoke. The van was completely silent, and I felt sick and apprehensive inside, like I do right at the top of that first slow climb of a monster roller coaster ride. The site, which we came to call “the compound” was blocked off and guarded on all sides. It would have been virtually impossible for anyone to get in through the series of checkpoints without the proper identification. A badge and photo identification were needed to get into the site, and an additional badge was needed to get into the center of the site where the search and rescue operation was going on. The required badges changed several times during the time I was there. I’ve read many accounts that say that the pictures and video didn’t adequately portray the reality, and that is absolutely true. The site was an immense, smoking, stinking ruin, and I could write for pages and not capture it. It was truly indescribable.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Smells I will never forget

Every time we go to Seoul, we take the bus to the depot at Yongsan Army Garrison, and I always have to go to the bathroom there. The bathroom smells exactly like the bathroom at Carousel Pet, a pet store I worked at between high school and college. It's a muddy, oozy organic type smell. The pet store bathroom smelled that way because we kept the blood worms there. People bought them by the ounce to feed their carnivorous fish, and they were GROSS. I do not know why the bus depot bathroom smells like blood worms, but if that doesn't convince you to squat over the seat instead of sitting, nothing will. Every time I go in there, it makes me think of the other smells I'll never forget: The smell of baking dirt and the smell of ground zero. Interestingly, all of these smells are unpleasant. I wonder if there is a word for smell-memories. Smemories, maybe. I'll spare you the story of the baking dirt smell for now. Let me just say my childhood was slightly out of the ordinary. Now, as we approach September 11th, on to the smemory of Ground Zero.

The smell of ground zero was horrible. It hung thick in the air and clung to me. It felt like a film on my skin, and for all I know, it was. It was smoke and jet fuel and decay. The smell and the destruction was in jarring, surreal contrast to the cheerful posters and cards from people all over the world, and the celebrities swerving gourmet food to workers. When I think of it, which is not often, what I get is the smemory and the visits by the grieving family members. They were a good match, the faces and the smell.

I had planned to write a lot more on this, then post it on September 11th, but I realized I already wrote the whole story, so I'm going to post it in chunks, ending on 9/11. I originally wrote it right afterward as a magazine article. It was never published; I can't remember now if I was never happy with it and didn't send it anywhere or if it got rejected. I was tempted to revise it but decided to leave it alone and post it as I originally wrote it, even if I don't love all of it. When I looked at the original story again, I was struck by how similar parts of it are to what I just wrote above, off the top of my head. Tomorrow: Part 1.

Now, that's a milk maid!

This is a late entry to the nursing t-shirt contest. It came from a friend of Sara, who we will call 'Tommy', because that's his name. He definitely gets points for initiative for putting his design on a t-shirt and saving me a step. He is an airbrush artist, and does really nice work on a variety of things. But, I'm not so sure about the design. Sara had the milk maid idea, and Tommy offered to bring her to life. It looks like he got a little carried away in his passionate pursuit of his art and forgot about the actual theme, which is breastfeeding. Not breasts. We can see why he might be confused, so he is going to try again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Today Lloyd did the 'Osan Do the Du' Sprint Duathalon. It's a 3k run, followed by a 20k bike ride, and it finishes with a 5k run. There were 46 participants. Some of them were obviously hardcore athletes, but a lot of them were the regular Joe/Joelle type, and a couple of them looked downright pudgy. I mean really, look at that one with the orange stroller! She looks like she should be stuffing her face at the BX instead of at a .... Oh, hey, wait a minute! Ummmm, yeah.... never mind.

As I was saying, Lloyd finished in 1:28:58, about in the middle of the group. This photo shows him as he approaches the finish line. The ambulance in the other photo came and went as we were waiting for Lloyd to finish, and I also saw a couple of taxis. I'm pretty sure not everyone arrived back at the finish line under their own locomotion, but I was at the BX eating pizza and drinking hot chocolate in between the start and the finish, so there will be no critical comments from me. Let me just say one thing though: floral bike shorts and a matching navel-baring top are a DON'T, especially if you are a man.

Friday, September 5, 2008

TWO winners!

I decided to choose two winners; one for a t-shirt design, and one for the boob-signal. The t-shirt winner is Anna J for 'Breastmilk at Work'. The signal winner is Jennifer M for 'Breastmilk #2'. Ladies, please choose your t-shirts! Your choices are either of the logos, a 'Stories From Korea' t-shirt, or a Korean t-shirt of my choice off the economy (these are often very entertaining).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lactalogo entries (last two)

Here are the contest entries, for your viewing pleasure. They are in two posts, in no particular order. Your comments are welcome, and the winner will be announced tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lactalogo entries (first five)

Peppers, peppers everywhere

It is pepper season here. The harvest started a few weeks ago. Peppers were laying out everywhere, drying on sheets or boards. Now they've been packed in big bags. These ladies were in the middle of the downtown walkway the other day, working on the bagged peppers. I watched them for a minute, and I believe they were taking the seeds out. Perhaps to make the chili paste that is used in many Korean dishes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tagged. Hmmm.

I hope there is not a time limit on these things. I got this several days ago but I didn't know what to do with it. First I didn't know what I was supposed to do, then when I figured that out, I started looking at the questions, and they are deceptively hard. Like cake vs. pie: What kind of cake? What kind of pie? And why should I have to make such a hard choice? It's probably not intended to be quite so difficult, so here goes. But with commentary, because I am unable to resist.

a. attached or single? Attached.
b. best friend? No. I am not a 'best friend' kind of girl.
c. cake or pie? Both. And cookies.
d. day of choice? I don't know. For what?
e. essential items? Books, carmex, wine and chocolate.
f. favorite color(s)? Green, in varying shades.
g. gummy bears or worms? Worms, the sour kind.
h. hometown? Auburn, Washington.
i. favorite indulgence? Thrifting.
j. january or july? January.
k. kids? Yes.
l. life isn't complete without?Books.
m. marriage date? February 10th, 2001
n. number of brothers or sisters? One sister.
o.oranges or apples? Apples, because they are easier, what with all the orange peeling. And the whole keeping the doctor away thing.
p. phobias? No.
q. quotes? 'When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you'. Or something like that.
r. reasons to smile? Yes.
s. season of choice? Spring and Fall. Not too hot, not too cold.
t. tag 5 people: Tori, Janel, Ann, Anna J, Lauren
u. unknown fact about me? I am a bit of a geek. Oh wait, that is so not unknown.
v. vacation of choice? Deserted coast in the cool season.
w. worst habit? I am messy.
x. xray or ultrasound? What kind of weird question is this? I get that they needed an 'x' question, but come on! If I need either one, please just shoot me.
y. your favorite food? Bread.
z. zodiac sign? Aquarius.

Dinner at the Corner's House

Last night, we had dinner at Lloyd's boss' house with some other people from his squadron. As we were driving there, Weston kept talking about going to the corner. We couldn't figure out what he meant and he was getting very frustrated with us. Finally he said, "You know, the CORNER! Daddy's boss!"

The Colonel's house is lovely. There are delicate, costly Asian art objects on every flat surface. A flight of steep tile stairs. A flighty, spindly-legged expensive looking cat. And a hot glue gun on the dining room floor. No visible grenades or strychnine, so maybe they put the dangerous things away in preparation for our visit.

I probably don't need to tell you that the Colonel and his wife don't have any children. They are very kind and kept saying, "Oh, don't worry, they're fine," as I chased them around with a terrified expression on my face. Believe me when I say they were not fine. If I so much as blinked, we would have all been knee deep in blood, cat fur and shards of glass. Finally, blessedly, Shane started getting tired, and really wailing, so I could haul him out of there and take him home. Lloyd and Weston came home later with a carload of leftovers, so we have been eating yummy party snacks all day. Weston is almost ready for bed, but he wanted one more snack: "You know, the brownies from the Corner's house!"