Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
Friday, December 19, 2008
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
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
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
Monday, December 8, 2008
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
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?