Thursday, April 30, 2009

Guest Post Entry 7

From Anonymous:

Irony

My MIL is a very sweet and caring person. She really only means good....I think.
She would do anything for us or the kids, probably including throwing herself in front of a bus. She never misses holidays or birthdays. She loves to come and visit, help me clean and take care of the kids. So, win win right?
Well, almost...
My mil genuinely does not understnad why anyone would do things any differently than she did them 30+ years ago. And I guess she has reason to think that. She has several very well acheived, successful kids. However, once she mentions something or suggests something once, she will continue to mention it, or question you until it's done her way.
Which, doesn't seem so bad, excpet after several days of trying to politely tell her that 'That's a good idea, but what we're doing is working for us'. it turns into ploitely ignoring the suggestion and then sometimes it turns into my brain shriveling up into a wad of wires that probably resembles something close to dental floss. (I'd like to think the mint, waxed kind)
To illustrate, one recent situation come to mind
My fil had helped my children decorate some mugs for the holidays and they were not dishwasher safe. However my ajuma was here the day after the decorating and my mil noticed she was drinking out of one of the mugs. She pulled me to the side and told me that I should probably have hid them so she wouldn't drink out of them. I kind of got defensive (inside, mind you, not outwardly) that she didn't want our ajuma drinking out of the mugs. She's human too, you know? What does it matter if she drinks out of them?
My mil kind of sighed and said, "Well, at least make sure she doesn't put them in the dishwasher."
I told her I would, and obviously, because I'm me, forgot to tell her.
The next morning my mil happened to be standing by the dishwasher while I was unloading it and saw that one of the mugs had been ruined. Needless to say she was pretty upset and I tried to clamly diffuse the situation by saying, "It's okay, it's no big deal"
In the tone you would say to a toddler who spilled their milk, not a mean, or dismissive tone.
She responded with, "(insert name) IT IS A BIG DEAL!"
In which I thought I said, " It's alright, you can always make another one."
But I guess what actually came out of my mouth was, "It's not like you're dying tomorrow!"
Let me add (to my defense I guess) that I've never even said anything remotely even contradictory to her. I've never been anything but totally accomodating. But I guess after a few years, my dental floss brain had had enough of that minty smell.
Also, I felt so horribly guilty for saying it, that I apologized and payed my penance with severe, anxiety induced IBS the rest of the day.
I was relieved of the tension within a day and things were back to normal "please walk all over me and tell me what to do" the next day and the rest of our visit went splendid.
But, wouldn't I be damned to find out only a week later my mil was lying in a hospital bed waiting for emergency surgery....
I was right, she wasn't dying tomorrow...She'd wait a week before she tried to kick the bucket.
* We are so very glad that my mil is just fine and healthy after a very random, weird scare and boy did I feel awful again. Me and the toilet have become best of friends.
**I do feel the need for one more disclamier, my mil is a great lady, and I'm pretty damn lucky to have her.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guest Post Entry 6

From Jennifer:

The Way of the Woo-Woo

I m coming out.. I want the WOO WOO-RLD to know...

I am someone who sometimes, SEES things. As in, sees things that most other people don't. Sometimes I KNOW things too.

It comes in very clear black and white images in front of my eyes. Its very different than imagining, its more like seeing a photograph. As if that's not enough, sometimes i "hear" a voice as well-

This has happened most of my life, but it's been more prevalent lately.

Recently, I went to hear Dr Judith Orloff, a intuitive doctor, speak. She was amazing, and she called out the audience and said,

"YOU! There! Yes you! (me) you need to be telling people what you know. You aren't, are you!"

Ever since then, I have been trying to be better about revealing my secret woo woo side.

Around this time, I reconnected with an old HS friend off Facebook. I was glad to see him again, as I was thinking how much fun we used to have, and that I could use some just plain FUN times. We met to walk at greenlake.

Right away, I noticed a teapot over his head.

Yes, a teapot. In clairvoyance, it commonly comes in symbols. A lot of times (most the time, in fact) I don't even know what it means- just that it is there. Sometimes its an obvious reference, (Once I saw a dog kennel door w/ bars over a woman- turns out that she was feeling "trapped") more often times there is not, and i have no idea what it means, which is usually why I don't say anything. Oh yeah, and that people think you are a freak. There is that. Oh, and... its not my business.

Anyways
We go the whole way around the lake, chatting. NO teapot mention. I decided later to email him and ask him about the teapot. Silence. and weeks later....Still silence.

I guess the world is not ready for my message, or maybe I ll hear from him when he lands a contract with a tea company or meets his dream guy at a tea house. Or... whatever.

I guess that this has taught me that, while there are those who are not ready to hear about a teapot above their head, there is no harm in letting them know. So i guess I will try and be more forthcoming, and I ll let YOU know if I see a bunch of grapes, a spider web, or a shoe hanging from your butt. After all, what are friends for?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guest Post Entry 5

From Lisajoy:

The Pancake Story

Ok…ok…I'll tell you about the pancakes. The other morning as we are getting ready for school I'm trying to get the girls breakfast. Quincy is in hysterics: YOU NEVER FEED ME!! I'M HUNGRY!! THERE'S NEVER ANYTHING TO EAT!!!! I WANT FOOD!!! The one repeated most often - you never feed me. She is really beyond any reason. This went on for 20 mins. And I'm not exaggerating the time or her actions.

It had been sort of warm out the day before (and you know how our house is really a brick pizza oven) so the dining room window had been left cracked open over night. The elementary school bus stop is right outside our dining room. There are kids and parents milling around. I keep noticing how they are trying to look in our window without being obvious. Can't wait to get the call from Child Protective Services!

It was all because I didn't have pancakes for breakfast. Thing is - we NEVER have pancakes for breakfast!! I've made them maybe twice since Quincy's been old enough to remember what she's had for breakfast. I finally convinced her that she should just have the frozen waffles (that we always have in the freezer). She had one bite. One. Not one waffle. One bite. She was back to the normal happy kid she usually is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Update on Guest Post Contest

I am loving all the fabulous guest posts! There will be a new one every morning (Osan Standard Time) through Thursday. New entries are still being accepted. After the last one is posted, I will put up a poll so you can vote for your favorite.

The breather has been really great for me; I have been churning out all kinds of new stuff and I'll be posting it once the contest ends. Some of it is a little different than what you're used to seeing, but please don't keel over in excitement. I need all the readers I can get.

Guest Post Entry 4

From Lisajoy:

Conversations with Quincy

This morning at breakfast (at McDonalds because Quincy had to have pancakes. Another story that I still don't find very funny) I'm telling the girls that they get to go to Jeanette's house in the morning to play (with Alex (8), Nia (6), and Jasmine (4)) while Jeanette and I go get our hair cut.

Quincy Question: Well, whose going to watch us then?
My Answer: Kevin (Jeanette's husband)
Quincy Response w/cocked head and the serious tone of a therapist: Is Kevin OK with that?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Guest Post Entry 3

From Anonymous:

I am a raging liberal, a pacifist, AND a Spiritual Agnostic living on a military base in Korea. Yet, I'm pretty sure know one knows.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Guest Post Entry 2

From Anonymous:

Bummer Stickers

I'm usually a pretty easygoing person behind the wheel. Cut me off? Ok, you go first. Tailgating? Fine, I'll pull over and wish you on your way. I try to not get too excited and am usually successful. Baby on board? Congratulations!; I'll be careful. There is , HOWEVER, one notable exception. When I see certain bumper stickers I also see red. You've seen them too; they're all over the road! Of course I'm speaking of the bragging ones that go something like this: "My son is a genius on the Honor Roll at South Podunk Jr. Hi" or "I'm the proud parent of a Dismal Seepage Boy Scout". I wonder if these clueless folks get it that they're perceived by many/most other drivers as real jerks? I'm just saying people should tone it down; these brats are probably gonna make liars out of you before your dotage, anyway. It's not sour grapes on my part, either. I've got pride in my family, too. In fact on one of my cars there's a bummer stinker happily declaring "My brother got two years off his sentence for 'pretty good' behavior at San Quentin". The trailing edge of our truck enthuses "Our son's FIRST mug shot became one of America's Most Wanted".

Friday, April 24, 2009

Guest Post Entry 1

I have the first submissions to the guest post contest! There's still plenty of time to enter- send your entries to storiesfromkorea@gmail.com

From Anonymous:

My toddler had butter and coffee for breakfast. Am I a bad mom?

Okay, okay, that one was totally me. But here's a REAL one:

A Confession: Milk Bones

I sometimes buy milk bones and eat them. I don't even have a dog. They're not bad, either. They taste like crunchy pizza crust.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blahg Relief

I know what I need! A new contest and guest posts all at the same time! Fun, fun, FUN!

Here's how it works:

1. Send me something to post. It can be anything- a story you're proud of, an anonymous rant, even a one line postsecret-y type secret. Use your double top secret email address if you need to.

2. I will post them in the order they are received.

3. After the last one, readers can vote for their favorite.

4. Winner receives a prize. Sent to your double top secret PO box, if necessary.

So get cracking, because I cannot wait to see what I get! Send your submissions to storiesfromkorea@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crazy

Yeah, yeah, I know. I said I didn't have anything I wanted to write about. But just when you think you've seen it all in this crazy place, you see something even more bizarre and blog-worthy than ever before. To tell you about it, I will have to be very, very clever so that the hordes of North Korean spies who hungrily devour my every oh-so-carefully chosen word will not figure out any of the secrets of Osan.

So. The PEOPLE here sometimes do THINGS that they take very seriously indeed. They use some real accessories, like trucks, green clothes and very loud and annoying loudspeakers, and also some pretend things. If you can picture hugely overgrown four year old children wearing matching clothes and playing with sticks and rocks you will get the idea.

This THING causes disruptions to my daily life, and of course we all know that maintenance of my routine is the sole reason for military presence here. Stores and offices are open at different times, or not at all. Lloyd's work schedule is outrageously altered, forcing me to contend with bedtime alone. As you can imagine, this does not endear the enormous green-clad gamers to me, but endure I must.

As I set out about my errands, at an unspecified time and/or date, I encountered some or all of the following:

Very, very small car entirely entombed in plastic wrap and duct tape;

Large green vehicles parked across the sidewalks; and

Costumed participants sprawled in uncomfortable and unnatural positions littering the roads and parking lots.

At the same time, all sorts of normal things were going on. A construction crew working, moms with strollers stepping over the bodies, taxis rolling down the main drag. Crazy, I tell you.

There, I'm done. NOW I need the guest posts. And the chocolates. Especially the chocolates.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blahg

Blah humblog. I have been trying to post for DAYS. I hate it when I don't have a good post. I've started lots of them and there is something wrong with all of them. This one's too dreary, that one needs to go on the secret blog, the other one is too much like a million other ones (I foolishly try to go somewhere, the kids are dirty and screaming, people are glaring at me, I'm embarrassed, blah, blah, BLAH). I don't want to write about my dirty house, the latest happenings around Osan, or Weston's latest brilliance.

I need some inspiration, in the form of guest posts and/or chocolates. Please send them right away. At least three Stories from Korea readers will be grateful.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Certainty

I am far from certain about many, many things:

How computers talk to each other, how germs make you sick, why the base would give me paint that doesn't match my walls, and where every single pair of sunglasses I own is.

One thing I do know for sure is that I live with a four-year old boy. Here's how I can tell:

I hover over my own toilet;

I say things like 'You can't snap your pants with that drumstick in your underwear';

I believe that throwing dirt at the wall is a good idea, because the alternative is a skewer fight;

I am actually pleased when Weston and Shane want to sit still for three seconds to watch TV, even if it is Tom and Jerry; and

All day long, I hear 'Sorry, Shane!' (Sorry I accidentally cut you with scissors. Sorry I hit you in the head with a truck. Sorry I spit at you. Sorry I ripped a toy out of your hands. Sorry you screamed and made Mom come in here. Sorry I had to go to time-out).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Video

video

The Easter Bunny made a visit to the garden and deposited and enormous number of eggs, after leaving giant bunny tracks in the garden (naughty bunny!)

And here is a link to Helen's much longer and nicer video.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Conversations with Weston: Sustainable living

Tonight, Weston was getting ready for bed. While I was waiting for him to finish, I was tidying up the bathroom. There was an individual-sized pack of kleenex that had been soaked in the aftermath of the day's activity of mixing water, shaving cream and Avon body paints all over the countertop. I tossed it in the trash, resulting in this:

Weston: Why did you that away?
Me: Well, we try to use things until they're gone, or compost them, or recycle them, but some things we just have to throw away.
Weston (nodding sagely): Yeah, sometimes you can't recycle it or put it in the compost or give it to someone else, and you gotta throw it on the floor, or out the door.
Me: Like what?
Weston: A dead cat.

So, if you come to visit, watch where you step, and don't let the dead cat hit you in the ass on the way out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Curses! Soiled Again

Here's what my living room wall looks like with the paint dry. This is also what the kitchen, dining room, computer room, boys' bedroom, hallway and our bedroom walls look like. Only the bathrooms, laundry room and closets escaped the rampage. True, it doesn't look so hot, but the new paint has a much better surface and can be wiped off. To be honest, I can't decide if it's worse than before or not.

Now, if you're the sort of person who has matching socks AND shoes for your kids every single day, and you can find your extra tube of toothpaste, you are probably wondering why I didn't just test this questionable Korean paint in an inconspicuous corner or interior closet wall before I plastered my entire home with it. Believe me, the idea crossed my mind, then leapt nimbly away, singing as it went. La la la, la la......

On the other hand, if your kids have three-week old ratnests in their hair and you haven't seen the bottom of your laundry basket since aught five, you will certainly understand what would have happened had I opened the can and painted a small bit in a hidden place:

1. Can would be closed poorly, resulting in crusty, sticky mess;

2. Location of small, inconspicuous painted spot would immediately be forgotten; and

3. Can would be stored 'temporarily' in laundry room and slowly but surely covered by lint, dirty clothes, toys, extra computer cables and phone wires, and empty grocery bags, never to be seen again.

Now I am faced with a terrible choice, one of those ones with a special name that I should know that has no good outcome. Should I paint over the blotches with the actual matching white cashmere-like paint, only to have it crudded right back up? Or, would it be better to live with the blotches? Opinions welcome, but if you think I should have tested it first: La la la la, I can't hear you!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Painting in and out of Korea



Today was an exciting day at my house. The walls have needed touching up since, oh, thirty seconds after we moved in.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that I'm not too picky about marks on the walls, or well, anything. Our beds are never made, our laundry is never folded, and yesterday Weston complained that the floor was too dirty to eat off of. I had to bring him a towel to eat on.

But I finally reached my limit on the walls. I could stand the chocolate fingerprints, the stickers, the scrapes, and the crayon/pencil/ballpoint pen/marker/fork tine art in every room. Last week, Shane discovered a new technique for wall art that utilized a grape popsicle, and that put me over the edge.

I know what you're thinking: 'You could just try cleaning the walls once in a while, you sloppy pig!' But our government issued walls are surfaced with a strange, soft and porous paint that soaks up messes and is impossible to clean. It's like trying to keep white cashmere clean. Not that I would know, because I definitely can't be trusted with white cashmere. Or cashmere of any color. Or white fabric of any kind. Moving on now.

Anyway, I nagged Lloyd until he brought home a gallon of the strange Korean paint, supplied by the base housing office. You can see it in the picture. It has a funny smell, and it's probably a good thing I can't read the can, because for all I know it says: 'Not for use by people. Only for use by robots or dogs not intended for consumption. Will poison meat. Do not breathe, touch or look at paint or you will shrivel up and die'.

I 'touched up' the walls, which as you can see from the pictures, involved completely covering the bottom half of almost every wall in the house. I can only hope that when the paint dries, it does in fact match the original color.

And, on the 'out of Korea' front, you may be saddened to hear that Lloyd has boxed up the Mini-me ship painting and sent it to his mother for her birthday without ever unwrapping it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Conversations with Weston: Peer Pressure

Today I was talking to Weston about the words 'Jack' and 'Weston' written on our dining room wall in fat blue marker.

Me: Why did you write on the wall?
Weston: Jack said it was okay.
Me: You know better than that. You make your own decisions. Don't listen to Jack.
Weston: But Jack makes me think I want to do what he wants.

Think it would work for me? I'm going to see if I can make him think he wants to fold laundry.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Today at the Thrift Store

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. When I went in this morning, the hallway and donation room were overflowing with those beautiful garbage bags of destiny.

Pickings have been pretty slim lately, but it's moving season now and things are looking up. Here's a partial list of today's donations:

Shrek Chia Pet

Stack of brand-new Shane-sized white t-shirts
Bag of kitcheny things, including rotting garbage
3 packs of various types new crayons and markers
Folkmanis Alien-in-a-Flying-Saucer puppet
Plush tiger cub backpack
Purse, complete with cosmetics and photographs

Sunday, April 5, 2009

If that works, use it!


It's probably not apparent, but I spend a lot of time pondering various wording when I write. There are lots of sticky wickets: subject/verb agreement, who versus whom, and dangling participles. Sometimes I actually delete whole brilliant thoughts because I can't turn them into even mediocre sentences. But at least I'm not as bad as this guy.

Another tricky grammar conundrum is that or which. If you look it up, you get all kinds of technical blather about the restrictive clause which that is of no use to me at all. That is all fine and good, and very interesting if there is something seriously wrong with you, I'm entirely sure. As for me, I use a simple rule I learned a long time ago. Well, maybe it's not really a RULE; it's more like a SUGGESTION. Which That Which I like a lot better, because I hate words bossing me around. And, what's really great about this suggestion is that it's useful in real life, too. In fact, it can solve all sorts of ungrammar-related problems. Are you ready? Here it is:

If 'that' works, use it. And here's some real life dilemmas it can resolve for you:

Q. Should I wash away my super crappy day with a bottle of wine?
A. If that works, use it!

Q. Is it okay to let my 6 year old have his pacifier to shut his gob?
A. If that works, use it!

See how handy that is? Try it yourself! Who knew grammar could be so helpful?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carnage

This may come as an unpleasant surprise to some of you, but the military here thinks they have some important business to attend to. Some boring blah blah blah about communists and missiles and dictators, oh my!

The military personnel (aka 'dads') have been working hard leaving early and coming home late because more blah, blah, blah. This leaves the rest of us (otherwise known as 'moms' or 'spouses') suffering from battle fatigue, sleep deprivation and/or PTSD as we pay the bills, get the kids to bed and suck down bottles of wine take out the recycling alone AGAIN.

Hangovers Motherhood Lack of sleep causes all sorts of bad decisions, poor judgment and sloppy execution. It's why Lightning McQueen got into that whole Radiator Springs debacle, why Marge Simpson didn't stop having kids after Bart, why Van Halen hired Sammy Hagar, and why my children eat off the floor, among numerous other catastrophes and questionable practices.

Today, it caused carnage in the elevator. I still don't know what actually happened. Exhausted, I was wheeling the stroller into an elevator full of people. The stroller was full of assorted toys, shoes, food, sippy cups, and an onion plant in a cup full of dirt mixed with diluted pee, and the boys were on foot. They were behaving pretty well, maybe about like halfway trained circus bears: wildly unpredictable but docile in appearance to the casual observer. I would have waited for an empty elevator but they had already run in ahead of me as soon it arrived. After successfully shoving aside six or eight innocent victims with my behemoth orange double stroller, I turned around to push the button for our floor. When I turned back, Shane was on the floor screaming.

The high-pitched shrieking and disapproving looks were, of course, nothing new to me, but the blood spurting out of his mouth was a little unexpected. I sopped it up with my shoulder, which happened to be foolishly covered up with a brand new white shirt and toted him home chanting my new mantra: 'Zin-fan-del, Zin-fan-del, Zin-fan-del'.

Before my mother freaks out, let me assure you he seems to be fine. He does have nice gash in his upper gum but it stopped bleeding pretty quickly, right after my shirt was ruined. I
gave him a sea-lion sized dose of motrin and tossed him and Weston in the tub with a couple of cans of shaving cream. Right now he is sitting on the couch watching Bob the Builder with his hand down his pajama pants, so I guess all is well. For now.