Saturday, May 30, 2009

Part 2: What on earth are you doing in Korea?

Teaching English, or so we thought.

Our understanding was that we were coming to Cheonan Joongang (the church that hired us) to head up an English Education program that would be used as an outreach in the community. But upon our arrival, we were surprised to be introduced as "Missionary Brandon and his 'samonim' [minister's wife] Brandy."

I guess the best way for me to proceed is to simply answer the questions we get asked most:

1. What are you doing there?

Brandon is teaching three different English classes: adult beginners, adult advanced, and children's beginners. In addition to his classes (which meet three times a week), he leads an advanced English Bible study and a "Saturday School" which is simultaneously a children's English class as well as a ministry outreach program. He also travels to Seoul once a month to work with Kidoong's ministry. They are in the process of developing English Bible curriculum that missionaries can use to teach English and God's Word at the same time. (Brandon's Saturday School is used as a kind of trial run for this curriculum.)

As for me, I am currently a full-time stay-at-home mom. I had plans to teach this spring, but because our baby was due to arrive right in the middle of spring semester, we decided that I should sit this one out and wait for fall. In the fall, I will hopefully be able to take half of his children's class (since his current one is really too big for one teacher) and perhaps an adult advanced class of my own.

Eventually (if the Lord leads us to stay for long enough) we have hopes of starting an entire English service on Sundays, complete with worship and preaching. But that is a distant dream right now which we will leave in the Lord's hands.

2. What are your living conditions like?

If you're like me, when you hear the term "missionary" you think of thatched roofs and dirt floors. We are far from that. The church has a brand new property which they moved into only days before our arrival. The property boasts a beautiful new church, a prayer tower, an education building, a playground, a convenience store, and a small apartment complex where all the pastors and their families live. This is also where we live. When we first arrived, much of the property was still under construction and covered with mud and building debris. But now that spring has arrived and all the buildings/landscaping is completed, the property is absolutely lovely. Every afternoon, the other Samonims and their children meet out at the playground to let the children play. We walk to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and in the cool after-service evenings, we stop by the convenient store (next to the playground) to get an ice cream and let the kids burn off the last of their before-bed energy. What with the warm weather and constant goings-ons, much of this arrangement reminds me of my childhood Camp Meetings. The sense of family and community is wonderful, and I am really looking forward to summertime in Korea.

As for our apartment, it is the nicest place we have ever lived. You can see a video of our place here. Hm. Now that I see that video again, our apartment doesn't look much like that anymore. We have furniture now... and stuff on the walls... and a place for all our belongings. Hm. Well, after the grandparents leave and everything gets back to normal, I'll post a more updated video.

Anyways, because our apartment is on the same property where Brandon works and teaches, we get to see him a lot more than we did in the states. We have a balcony where we can look out over the parking lot and property to see what's going on in our little close-knit community, and we stand out there daily and wave to daddy as he goes and comes from class.

3. Do you know the language?

In a word: no. I have learned to read Hongul, the Korean written language, and can sound out the words on about a 1st-grade reading level. Brandon, always the one to pick things up more quickly than I, can read very proficiently and knows enough of the language to ask basic things like "Where is the...?" or "What is this?" etc. I know how to tell my taxi driver where to go; that's about it.

Brandon meets with a tutor one morning a week, and he is slowly picking up more and more of the spoken language. I am unable to attend said class (due to little girls at home), but I am praying for the Lord to provide a cheap-o used version of the Rosetta Stone software so that I can study at home. My goal for the summer is to connect more with the Samonims in our building, and much of that can't happen until I have a basic handle on the language (at least as much of a handle as they have on English).

4. How long will you be staying?

I get asked this about twice a week (by one grandparent or another), but the answer has remained the same: we don't know. Our contract is for one year. That's all we know right now. Many factors will affect our decision about when to return. These factors include, but are not limited to: the American economy, Cheonan Joongang's financial situation, the availability of teaching positions in our area of Georgia, other missions opportunities that may present themselves over the next few months, and the list goes on...

Of course, all of those things are physical, temporal things that can change over the coming months. The bottom line is that we wait to hear from the Lord, and we intend to follow the peace that only comes in following His perfect will. As of yet, we don't have any clear direction for our future. Therefore, we live "in the moment" and keep our minds and hearts to the task at hand.

5. How can we help?

Prayer. The Lord is meeting all of our financial needs each month, and He is slowly bringing about friendships and relationships that meet our emotional needs. But every day is a learning experience. There is always something new. While that fact often feels exciting and adventurous, it can also be overwhelming. We constantly ask for the Lord's grace as we continue to learn the ropes here.

We also ask for prayer for our spiritual development. The Lord has been so faithful to quicken our hearts to what He is teaching us during our time here, but the downside to fast-paced spiritual growth is that it often comes with growing pains. These have sometimes been difficult lessons to learn, as they often are learned as a result of mistakes we have made or misguided thoughts we have adhered to.

..........

So that's it. You are all caught up. Feel free to comment, email, or facebook if you have any other questions, and I'll be happy to respond any time.

As always, thanks to you faithful few who keep coming back to my blog, even when I abandon you for days and weeks at a time. You folks are the best.

Part 1: How we came to Korea...

...we flew, of course. And boy, are our arms tired.

Sorry.

Thanks to the miracles of facebook, I have connected with several old friends who all end up asking the same question: What on earth are you doing in South Korea?

Most of this portion has been written before; so if you are a long-time reader, feel free to skip on through.

I suppose I'll "start at the very beginning, a very good place to staaaaart."

Back in the fall of 2007, my husband and I were discussing his post-graduation plans. He was set to graduate in December of 2008 with a degree in Math Education, and we were discussing the best place for him to teach. Of course, at that time, we weren't planning to go much further than a neighboring county.

Around that time, I had a guest lecturer in one of my International Relations classes who talked about his time teaching English in the Middle East. His entire lecture was basically one long advertisement for young single men who wanted to make a pretty penny after graduation while simulatneously risking their lives to teach English. When I got home that day, I joked around with Brandon about how, if he could survive a year in the middle east, we could pay off all our student loans upon his return. While the thought of him teaching anywhere that dangerous (with a wife and child at home) was totally out of the question, that conversation would actually stick with both of us for several months to come and eventually lead us to pursue other over-seas teaching opportunities.

Over the following months, Brandon and I casually looked online and talked with a few people about the possibility of him teaching in an Asian country for a year. At that point, the plan was for him to go alone (since a "bachelor" can live fairly cheaply over here) while Chloe and I would stay home in the States while I finished my degree and continued working at New Covenant as their children's pastor.

But it seemed that no matter where we turned or which direction we went, we always hit a dead end. Either the door of opportunity would completely close to us, or we simply could not get a peace about walking through an open one. Finally, in the spring of 2008, we made a decision. We would stop pursuing this thing. We prayed, "Lord, we will not pursue any more because every door keeps closing. But if you place an open door in front of us, we will walk through it."

It was about that time that Kidoong (a Korean pastor from Myung Deong church in Seoul) was sitting in my friend Kathryn's living room, asking her to keep an eye out for an American couple that would be interested in teaching English in his father's church for a year. Kathryn mentioned this to Starr (one of the only two people who knew Brandon and I were seriously looking for just such an opportunity) who then mentioned it to me.

Per our previous prayer, Brandon and I said we wouldn't mind getting more information, but that we would not actively pursue this. Within a week, we had received a packet of pamphlets and videos from Kidoong, and an email from Cheonan Joongang Presbyterian Church, asking whether or not Brandon would be willing to fly out to see the church and interview with the Senior Pastor (Pastor Yi, Sun). Once again, we prayed, "Lord, we will walk through this door if you open it. Either provide the ticket or provide the funds for the ticket, and Brandon will go." (At this point, we were still thinking that Brandon would come by himself, for only a few months, without me and Chloe.) A few weeks later, an airline ticket confirmation arrived in our inbox. The church had purchased a ticket for Brandon.

He flew out in June of 2008 with Kathryn and her family. While in Korea, he fell in love with the country. Apparently, it fell in love with him too because the church offered him a one-year contract if he brought his family along.

So after a series of over-seas phone calls and late night prayers (both together and separately), we both agreed that this was where the Lord was calling us.

The following months were filled with finishing school, packing our home, applying for visas, and preparing our family for the big transition that was about to happen....

Some daily randomness...

Today was a much better day. I'm still having weird hormonal stuff that causes me to tear up at the least little thing, but I've kept it in check by simply going to my room to read whenever I feel the waterworks coming on. So far, it has worked.

Physically, things are better too. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say, whatever the doctor did yesterday (which caused me to spend the better half of yesterday afternoon in much pain) has made all the difference today. I can touch my toes, y'all. Do you know what that means? That means I can shave.

It's a good thing my hubby hasn't been here because ten days with nary a razor near my legs has left quite a manly-style mess down there. Yesterday, my oh-so-observant daughter looked at my legs and said, "You got hairs, mommy?"

Yes, dearest daughter, I have hairy legs. Thank you for pointing that out.

But she didn't point. She pulled. That's right. Right here, in the middle of my living room, my two-year-old daughter spent the better part of a minute entertaining herself with my leg hairs.

But, thanks to whatever magic the good doc used yesterday, when tomorrow morning's shower rolls around, those little (and not-so-little) hairs are gone. Good Riddance.

Lets see... news for the grandparents...

Maple slept a 5-hour stretch last night. That's right, folks, my 8-day-old daughter slept from 11pm to 4am. It's exciting stuff. Her neck muscles are really starting to strengthen; so she's lifting her head a lot more, particularly to follow Chloe's voice. They are so in love with each other. It's truly amazing.

Chloe received four new pairs of shoes when Grandpa arrived, and she has spent much of her time parading around the house in said shoes, admiring her reflection at every opportunity. She's a girl after my own heart, loving on those shoes like she does. Although, it could also be that shoes are not allowed in our house (per Korean custom), and so the fact that she gets to "break" the rules for a day seems like fun to a two-year-old. I'm choosing to believe it's just a healthy love for a nice pair of jellies.

Ok. So those are pretty much the most significant parts of my day. :)

I'm off to bed to read and (hopefully) sleep another five hours. G'night, y'all.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This is the day that the Lord has made... and I will rejoice and be glad that it's over!

Yeah, it was another rough day, hormonally and emotionally speaking. It started out well enough. Grandpa, Grandma, and Chloe all got up early and headed to Dunkin Donuts to grab breakfast and some treats for the nurses at the hospital.

Why give donuts to the nurses, you ask? One reason might be that nurses are simply good people who deserve things like donuts. Another reason might be that gift-giving is big in Korean culture (as we have learned recently), and yummy food of any kind is always an appropriate gift. But I think, perhaps, the best reason is that many of these particular nurses (especially those in labor and delivery) may or may not have been abused and even assaulted by a certain American patient during her labor.

So while Grandma, Grandpa, and Chloe were out purchasing the thank-you-for-a-job-well-done-and-I'm-really-sorry-I-screamed-at-you gifts, I jumped up, showered, dressed, made arrangements for the parents to meet our senior pastor, gave Maple her first in-tub bath (yay! for no more umbilical cord!), and dressed her for her first for-reals doctor's appointment. I was so thrilled at all I had accomplished because, quite frankly, until this morning, getting off the couch without injury was a great feat. But this morning, after a day of nothing but couch-time yesterday and a great night with Maple, I felt like dancing! Ok...more like shuffling around very carefully so as not to aggravate anything. Still, I was feelin' pretty darn good.

So mom and I jumped in a cab (or gingerly eased into one) and headed to the doctor's office. We arrived and handed out the donuts and then proceeded to get Maple ready for her exam, only to be called immediately into my doctor's office. Due to certain language barriers, there had been a mix up. This was not Maple's appointment; this was my appointment.

He needed to check "the stitches."

I wanted to cry.

Sure enough, when all was said and done, I felt like I had taken one step forward and three steps back. I had walked into that office FINALLY feeling a LITTLE like myself (you know, the one who can move without wincing), but I walked out of there slowly, carefully, and in a lot of pain (a.gain.)

From that point on, the day just kind of spiraled down.

In the afternoon... a meeting was set, cancelled, then rescheduled. Chloe was in a defiant mood which led to a spanking (something she hasn't needed in quite a while). Maple was gassy again (darn you, small bowl of cereal with just a touch of cow's milk!) And I was in pain. Quite a bit.

Add to that the hormonal chaos of a woman who just gave birth, and it all ends in one two-hour emotional breakdown the likes of which have never been seen in our peaceful Korean home. Sheesh.

But after a good long cry, a few apologies, and a short nap, things have evened out a bit.

I still feel super weepy, but I'm keeping it in check... for now.

But the great thing about a day like today is just that -- it is a day. One day. And now, as the sun has set and bedtime is approaching, I can look forward to tomorrow... which is not today... because today is over... because it's only one day... and tomorrow is another day... which is a song, I think... or a famous quote... which is a true statement either way.

Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Didn't even check for spelling errors...

I'm tired and hormonal tonight. It's only 9:45pm, and I am ready for bed. Hubby is currently somewhere over the Pacific, flying home to the States. He is best man in a wedding next weekend, and decided to take this time to visit some family and friends. I'm very glad he's able to go. He needed a break and some quality time with American friends.

But, as I said, I am tired and hormonal tonight. So doing this whole thing without him is feeling a little overwhelming.

It's not so much the logistics of diaper changes and late-night feedings. Brandon works so hard and long at the church that my mom and I have handled most of the "baby" stuff up to this point. But on nights like tonight, when I just need a safe place where I can snuggle and maybe cry a little, there's no substitute.

So, I grabbed a bar of chocolate, pulled up a sappy movie on my lap top, got in bed hours before I normally do, and settled in for a much-needed evening of pampering myself (between feed/diapering the baby, of course).

In other news, Grandpa arrived today! This is the first time he has been to Korea, and I am so glad he finally made it! Chloe was thrilled to see him. She laughed so hard she almost cried. It's so nice to have family here.

Speaking of Chloe, please be praying for her. Since moving to Korea, particularly during times of big transition, she will occationally have nightmares. (I'm so grateful that she finally has a large enough vocabulary to actually tell me about them.) Usually, she wakes up crying, tells me about the dream, and then forgets about it.

But a couple mornings ago, she apparently had a doozy of a nightmare which included her getting hit by a car and me leaving her to go home to America. It has been so bad that Grandma had to sleep with her last night because at bed time, she broke out into a cold sweat and started screaming "I'm scaaaaaaaaared! Don't leave meeeeeee!"

I have never seen her like that before.

She did nap by herself today and has fallen asleep on her own tonight; though we still have to leave her door open.

Anyways, please be praying for her. There is a lot of transition going on in her little life, which includes (but is not limited to) mommy and daddy staying at the hospital a couple nights (she hasn't been separated from us since arriving in Korea), a new baby, Grandma in the house, daddy leaving for America, Grandpa coming to the house, and the beat goes on...

While most of these are very good, exciting changes, they are still changes. And I think it's just a bit too much all at once for her little heart and mind.

Other than all that, things are going really well. Physically, I am getting better every day. Still VERY sore, but finding joy in the smallest accomplishments. (I can sit on the bed now! Yay!) Emotionally, worried about Chloe and a bit hormonal, but handling it all in stride, I think.

In much better news, several of the Samonims stopped by today to meet Maple Anne and to congratulate me. They happened to come during a time when my mom was out (gone to get Grandpa), and so as they left, they said, "Chloe, come. See big brother." Chloe grabbed one of the Samonims' hand (the one that lives down the hall from us) and went to her apartment to play with her children. I left my door open, and she left hers open, and the kids just ran and played in between. It was so nice on several levels. First, becuase of her status in the church, it has been a little difficult to get to know the Samonim down the hall. She has always been very kind, and she sends us food on a regular basis (a common Korean custom). But because of the differences in our age and status, I haven't been able to really form a relationship there. This was a HUGE first step. She came into my home (for the first time) and then comfortably took Chloe with her to her home. She has a son close to Chloe's age and another older son who absolutely adores Chloe. Even the fact that she called them "big brother" when she got Chloe makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. :)

Ew. Fuzzy insides. Whoever came up with that phrase?

Anyways, when all is said and done in this disjointed post, I will sum with this: the Lord has been good to me this week. Maple is an angel who eats really well and sleeps three to four hours between feedings. I've cut out cow's milk, thanks to a tip from Shannon (my cousin), and that seems to have compeltely cured baby's tummy issues. I have two great grandparents here to help with (read: completely do all of) the houseword as well as take care of Chloe. So my primary responsibility right now is to take care of myself and Maple. Plus, even though I miss Brandon terribly, I know that when he returns he will be refreshed and renewed in his spirit and ready to get back to the task at hand - at home and at the church.

Ok, sorry for the randomness. Just a bunch of stuff jumbled around in my head.

Now I'm off to finish my movie and get some shut-eye (in my bed! for the first time since coming home! yay!) G'night, y'all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So she huffed and puffed... and then realized she really liked the little straw house...

Over the past few days, it has been brought to our attention that we have unknowingly committed a few (or several) cultural faux pas since arriving in Korea. Because we are the "new Americans," these slip-ups have been overlooked, but since we are going into our fifth month here, the powers that be have decided it's time that we know about them.

Criticism is never easy to take, especially when the offense was one of ignorance and not rebellion. I won't lie. It has been so difficult not to become defensive, to feel the need to explain our side or talk about how we were wronged.

But through it all, there has been a verse quietly echoing in my spirit:


You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies.
Proverbs 27:6


I have read this verse before and have always done the wise "mm hmm" and nod-of-the-head because, sure, of course I want a friend to tell me when I have lipstick on my teeth or tell me whether those jeans make my butt look big!

It isn't until this recent situation that I realize this verse isn't just a wise description of a good friendship. This verse gives us a criteria, a definition by which we choose our friends. It's as if the Lord is saying, "If you're looking for a few good friends, here is measuring stick to see if they're really trustworthy."

Once the defense mechanism switched to the "off" position and I began to allow this verse to really soak into my spirit, I suddenly have a new perspective on the people here.

You see, Korean culture is quite non-confrontational. If an individual becomes embarrassed or angry, they smile and laugh so as not to let on that they are upset. Many times, when asked a direct (but uncomfortable) question, a Korean will only laugh or say "yes," even if those responses don't make sense. Sometimes they will simply smile and change the subject, as if the question had never been asked. Their entire perspective is one of peace and harmony. Typically, they will go out of their way to avoid upsetting those around them, even if it means terrible inconvenience to themselves.

In light of that knowledge, I now realize how difficult it must be for them to come to us and tell us we were wrong.

But despite their cultural desire to steer clear of confrontation, they have proven themselves trustworthy, according to scripture. I now can see that they really must love us because they are willing to risk a terribly uncomfortable scenario in order to correct us. I realize they're not just being nit-picky or difficult; they are trying to protect us from "losing face," which is so very important in Korean society.

They, in essence, are treating us like family.

This has suddenly changed my entire perspective on how to approach my relationships with them (particularly with the Samonims). If they are willing to go so against their own cultural tendencies in order to protect me, I should be more than willing to step WAY out of my comfort zone and embrace the cultural requirements that come with Korean friendships and ministry.

I won't say this realization has been an easy one. I still sort of want to whine about how it's not our fault, we didn't know.

But if I can let go of those selfish emotions, I see what a true jewel I have found in the relationships here. We are truly loved by these people, and that is something I don't think I realized before now.

And so I am grateful to the Lord for this new revelation because, once I got over myself, I found a "hidden" treasure of friendship with which I have been entrusted. I intend to steward this treasure wisely from now on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Housekeeping and other stuff...

Ok, first for a bit of blogger housekeeping. We are having some issues with our digital camera, but updated pictures will be on their way shortly. Secondly, a new video is already up. No, silly, not here. Nope, not there either. Hubby and I have decided that, rather than spreading the joy all over the internet (via our blogs, youtube, facebook, etc.) we are going to give "the girls" their own blog where we can post all of their new info, pictures, and videos over there.

So, without further ado, we present A Quiver Full (thixton.blogspot.com).

For all the aunts, uncles, and grands who are looking for updated stuff, you can check in on that blog periodically. Or, better yet, you can subscribe to said blog and receive email notifications when new stuff is posted! Yippee!! So head on over, and check it out.

Ok... now that the air is clear and the dust bunnies are gone, lets continue.

These first few days postpartum have been like a dream. Physically, I am exhausted and sore and in such a condition that I am forced to lie down for most of the day because sitting or standing for any decent length of time simply isn't an option.

Emotionally? I'm not sure I can describe the emotions. With my first one, the first few weeks only felt chaotic. We had people at our house for hours every day. Chloe had issues latching on; so almost every attempt at feeding ended in tears (from one or both of us). I was so uncertain about how to do anything; so every little thing - from changing diapers to giving a bath - felt overwhelming and dangerous. I loved my little one, of course. But I felt so incapable as a mother, it was difficult to find the joy in the situation, at least at the beginning.

This time has been so different. Our home is quiet and peaceful. Maple is all business when it comes to eating; so, unlike the marathon night-time feeding sessions I remember, these only take about 15 minutes, and then she's out like a light for another two or three hours. During the day, she has "quiet alert" times when she is content to lie in her bed and look out the window, or ride in her swing and stare at the mobile, or snuggle with one of us and coo as we talk and sing. And though I'm a little rusty, all of the "baby tasks" have started coming back to me. It's like riding a bike, I suppose.

Our worst enemies right now are the hiccups and gas. If we can find a magical formula to get those two things under control, we'll be as good as gold. So far, the best remedy I have found for both of our problems is found in the Ergo baby carrier that my friend Christan bought for me. It lets Maple to sleep upright, and snuggled next to me or daddy. This allows all the stomach stuff to settle while still giving us free reign to work or, you know, write a blog post.

Honestly, I keep waiting for the "drowsy newborn" stage to pass and the "real" routine to emerge. But we're going on day five, and everything seems to simply fit into place.

After such a difficult delivery, I feel the Lord's grace in the ease and peace that has fallen over our house over the last few days. Brandon and I feel so blessed to have two beautiful, healthy girls who have been entrusted to us.

This is the life, folks. This is the life.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Presenting the Newest Member of the Thixton Clan...

Maple Anne has finally arrived!



I won't write about much of the labor stuff, partly because I have at least one or two male readers and partly because I'm not prepared to rehash the trauma just yet. Basically, Maple was "sunny-side-up" and therefore got "stuck" on her way down. This lead to a rather "unpleasant" pitocin-induced, pain med-free, 26-hour nightmare that ended with a little Korean nurse on top of me performing jujitsu moves on my abdomen.

But on the other side of said nightmare? A perfect, yet slightly bruised, little angel. Here's her debut video (including the first time the two sisters meet).




Chloe remains as excited today as she was in that first meeting. She readily reports all of Maple's actions directly to me. "Maple is in the swing, mommy. Shhhh! Don't wake her up!" etc. It's absolutely beautiful!

As for Maple herself, the bruising and swelling has gone down significantly in the last 36 hours, and I will be posting more recent pictures soon. She is already an expert at eating, and her demeanor has been quite pleasant - only crying for want of food or passing of gas (not too much unlike her daddy). Still, the crying doesn't last longer than a few seconds before she's back to her contented self.

I plan to write more about our experience at the Korean hospital. But for now I will say that the nurses, doctors, and staff were absolutely wonderful, and although there were some differences between this hospital and the ones back home, I feel very blessed to have been able to deliver here. Thank you, Dr.Kim and all the team at Kwangje!

And not another word can be typed until I tell you about my hero in real life, my awesome hubby, Brandon. He was such a comfort to me during the delivery (despite my often misdirected "frustration"), and he took numerous taxi rides back and forth from church to the hospital so that he could be with me and Maple between classes. I love you, honey, and you have been my strength during the last few days. Thank you!

My mom has been amazing too. She took care of Chloe and did a few taxi rides herself so that I could have some yummy food and company at the hospital. Turns out, she's also an amazing communicator with non-English-speaking nurses, pharmacists, and doctors. Love you, mom!

All in all, I'm a happy mommy and wife. It's 1:15am. I just put Maple down to sleep, and the whole house is snoozing away. I think I will join them...

Thank you, Lord, for our new blessing. Thank you for being with us through the delivery and for keeping us safe despite all the difficulties. You are our rock and our hiding place. I love you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lets party all night (and sleep all morning), k?

During my mom's visit, I have been reminded of one very crucial "flaw" in my personality.

I am not a morning person. Not even close. Seriously. Don't talk to me before my first cup of coffee or bad things could happen to both of us. Do I look like I'm kidding? (I realize you can't see my face or hear my tone of voice, but I need you to use a little imagination here.)

And if you really want to be my friend, don't talk to me before 9am regardless coffee intake levels.

Lest you think this is just the plain laziness of a new stay-at-home mom who enjoys pajama time a little too much, I can honestly say that these "rules of morning engagement" were enforced long before my days as a mom or as a stay-at-homer.

When I worked full time at the insurance agency, I often arrived to the office a few minutes early to prepare my own little pot of "motor oil" (as my boss affectionately called my abnormally strong coffee) so that I could at least have a few sips in the quiet of the morning before my other coworkers arrived. Since my boss often pointed out and frequently mocked my morning "cheerfulness" (did I mention that he was a morning person?), I often would hide in my office until AT LEAST 10am, doing mundane work that required little or no interaction with people. If at all possible, I asked our receptionist to take messages for me while I checked my inbox, caught up on yesterday's memos, made my lists for the day, and basically did whatever I could to avoid an actual conversation. Many mornings, I even avoided faxing or making copies, which would require me to pass (and potentially converse with) a minimum of three people on my way to the copy room.

It's not that my fellow employees were that unbearable. On the contrary, I really enjoyed my time in that office, and even today, if I had to go back to work, there's no place I'd rather be!

It's just those darn mornings!

I really wish I were a morning person. Really, I do. There is something almost magical about those twilight hours when everything still feels damp and hazy from the night, when the birds are just starting to awaken, when the first few lights of the city start to glow against the purple gray sky. I know those things exist because, for those first few days in Korea, my jet lag manifested by waking me up at 6am full of energy and life. I loved getting up before the rest of my family, sitting at the table with Jesus and having a quiet not-so-desperate cup of coffee. I enjoyed being already dressed, fed, and full of energy when the rest of my family stumbled out of bed.

But alas! Jet lag only lasted a few days, and then the old me returned - the one that groans as she gets out of bed and desperately makes her way to the coffee pot glaring at anyone who dares to make a noise above a whisper and daring the sun to be too bright through the kitchen window.

Luckily, neither my hubby nor my daughter are really morning people. So our house, for the most part, is relatively quiet (read: non communicative) before 9 or 10am.

But then my mother came.

I mentioned in my last post that she is up each morning before the sun, studying the Korean alphabet. Then she gets out of bed when Chloe wakes up (hallelujah!) and prepares breakfast for the family.

Now this is all FABULOUS as far as I am concerned, except for one little thing: by the time I am tasting my first sip of wake-up juice, she has already been up, with coffee coursing through her veins, for three hours.

Can you imagine?

I have no tidy summary for this post, except to say this: My mother and I are a lot alike in many, many ways. But in this one characteristic, it's like we're not even related.

But you know what? It works. I have been AMAZED at the amount of housework/shopping/walking/entertaining that has been done this week. About the time she starts to lose her morning perkiness, I start to pick up steam. So while I rest and check blogs in the morning, she cleans house and takes care of Chloe. Then while she takes an afternoon break, I'm bustin' a move on some dust bunnies and making plans for dinner.

Anyways. Not sure what this post is supposed to say. Just felt like something to write about. Hm.

Monday, May 11, 2009

This is the life...

It is 10:34am in Cheonan, South Korea and things are humming along in my little home. Already this morning...

1. Blueberry pancakes were cooked and served with REAL butter and syrup.
2. Breakfast dishes were washed, dried, and put away.
3. A whole chicken was put on to boil for tonight's chicken stew dinner.
4. Daughter was entertained with play-doh at a play date.
5. Blog-reading was caught up and thoroughly enjoyed (uninterrupted!)

Can you pick out which of those five things I actually did myself?

If you guessed #5, you would be correct.

My mother, who arrived four days ago, was up before the sun this morning, studying the Korean alphabet. (Why I couldn't inherit this morning-person gene, I will always wonder.) Not too long after Chloe and I awoke, she hopped out of bed and cooked breakfast for our entire family. After cleaning up breakfast and starting on supper, she pulled out the play-doh and has been entertaining my daughter for the last 45 minutes while I sip coffee, catch up on blogs, and read the news.

A girl could get used to this life.

In other news, I went back to the doctor yesterday. As of last week, the baby was measuring an estimated 8.5lbs. The last several times I have gone, his instructions are always, "Come back next week, and we will talk about inducing." I guess he picked up on the fact that I'd rather not induce; so each week (after acting quite appalled at the size of this baby) he says the same thing. "Come back next week, and we will talk about inducing."

This week, it was a little different. "Any time you ask, we can induce; but I don't want to wait more than two weeks."

I feel a bit relieved that there isn't pressure to induce early. On the other hand, I am so very uncomfortable, it would have been nice to have a medical professional tell me "This baby needs to come out now!" Two weeks feels like a really long time...

So it's a waiting game, I suppose. If at some point, things become too uncomfortable (or if my complaining becomes too unbearable for the other members of my household), I might give in and head to the hospital for an induction. For right now, I'm taking it a day at a time. So... we won't induce today.

Now that my mom is here, and I have more time on my hands, I DO plan on having the first video up soon. Seriously. Not joking this time. It will be soon. Soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dr.Fish

This past weekend, thanks to the fabulous Ansley, my family and I got to enjoy some "real" Korean culture. After enjoying some Korean-style Mexican food (picture lots of fresh veggies), we strolled down the street to a fancy coffee shop called "Dr.Fish."

The atmosphere: fabulous.
The coffee: scrumptious.
The FREE bread and BUTTER (which we haven't had since we arrived): a tasty surprise.
The fish: hungry.

I don't believe you will need any more explanation after this little video. Suffice it to say I thoroughly enjoyed the coffee and bread, and I thoroughly made a fool of myself with the fish.

I will also say that I apologize for the awful filming skills. I was laughing so hard at one point that I absolutely couldn't hold the camera still. What did I tell you? Absolute fool of myself.

And if the videos don't convince you, picture this 9-month pregnant American making a fool of herself in the midst of the calm, cool atmosphere that is the coffee house. A spectacle. That's what it was.

video

Monday, May 4, 2009

Goodnight Moon

Currently working on some videos regarding the weight issue. Hoping to have the first one posted by the end of the week, partly because I work better with deadlines, and partly because this Friday...

My mom is coming! Woo hoo!!!

Went to the doctor today to measure ye little one, and even the good doc seemed surprised as he said, "She's almost 4 kilos!" After about 10 seconds with my handy-dandy unit conversion tool, I gasped as I saw "4 kilograms = 8.66 pounds." Thinking that, surely, there must be some mistake (maybe she just has an abnormally large femur?), he sent me across the hall to the 3-D ultrasound. The technician measured all the "little" parts - torso, arms, legs, head, etc - and sure enough, I'm apparently carrying a baby that is, in fact, part Shamu.

Seeing as how I'm still two weeks out from my due date, he was a little nervous about inducing "before she's ready". But I will go back next Monday to reevaluate and possibly meet my sweet bundle of joy sometime next week.

Hence, my mother's early arrival.

In the meantime, I'm trying to take long walks and do all the things that the internet swears will "naturally" induce labor. I'm pretty sure there's some grand scam where the people who design those web sites skulk around with hidden cameras trying to catch 9-month pregnant women jumping rope and crying from the hot pepper she just forced down her now-inflamed esophagus.

Not that I've actually done any of those things...

Welp, it's bed time for my little one; so I suppose I should go tuck her in. I find myself a little saddened? No, sentimental over the changes about to happen in her little world. Only a few more nights as "the baby," and the only child.

I'm not worried for her, and I know the blessings of a little sister will far outweigh any negative reactions that may occur over the next few weeks.

Like I said, I'm just feeling a little sentimental.

Ok. It's way past her bedtime; so I'm off to change a diaper and read "Goodnight Moon."

Goodnight nobody. Goodnight air.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood