Monday, June 21, 2010

Popsicles, petting zoo passengers and poopy pants... or not!

Corin and I took a day trip to Busan today. I had a lingering feeling that this day would be filled with interesting events as I packed the bag this morning. Yep... that feeling was right! ;)
After packing up and heading out the door, we waited outside our complex for the city bus to take us into town. We waited... and waited. A cute little old lady was sitting there with us as we both took turns glancing at our wrist watches. Finally... the bus showed up and we boarded for the short ride to town. Once we got off, we headed to go see daddy at his school for a quick money swap and then back to the intercity bus station to get our tickets to Busan. After purchasing our tickets, we sat down on the benches inside to wait for another 25 minutes for our outgoing bus. Corin began to entertain himself by playing with the occilating fan that was in the room. He seemed to be pretending to get hit by wind "bullets" everytime the fan passed by him... it was entertaining for us all! The bus station attendant particularly seemed to find Corin extra fun, he would walk up to Cor and pretend with him in between calling out buses that came and went! It was pretty funny to see a grown man (old enough to be his grandpa plus some) dodging air bullets! They were quite the pair... the little old ladies were pretty interested in him too as they made the sounds Corin would make each time the fan breeze touched his face. "Shweeeah, OOOOOOOOOO, Uuuuueeeewwwwwwffff, bang, bang, whoooooooooaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhh!" The list went on and on, but these were a few of the echoed sound effects coming from the bus station this morning. After the fan lost its charm, Corin moved on to running in circles smack dab in the middle of the station. He bumped an older man on his way to buy a ticket before I could grab Cor, and then drag him to the side lines! Corin sat down and said sorry to the man. Less than two minutes later, that same kind man returned from the ajoining convenience store with two popsicles! One for Corin, and one for me! Wow! I was amazed and we both replied with a "Kamsahamnida" or thank you. Corin of course shoved the package back into his hands and asked him to open it. The man had no clue what Corin said, but instintively opened the package and handed Corin the cold treat. It took only seconds for me to realize this was no ordinary popsicle. This just so happened to be a red bean ice pop. Yum... my favorite. (please read with closed jaw and hesitant sarcasm) Then I realized that I myself had one to force down the hatch! Hmmm. They are not alllll that bad. I mean they are high in protein and refreshingly cold! The perfect summer snack! Of course Corin went to town on his and so now I had to get the package open and show my gratitude by appearing to enjoy it too. First lick... sweet, gritty, and cool. Not too bad. I think I can handle the gritty. Second lick... same as first, only this time I hit a bean. Third lick... I realized that bean was going to have to be chewed and swallowed. Fourth lick... the ice pop started dripping bean juice on me as the hot summer weather began to catch up with my popsicle procrastination! Oh no.... now I would have to bite it! And fast..... well, better fast than slow right? Wait.... if it was dripping on me... Yep, Corin was now soaking himself in bean juice as well. Sticky bean juice right before we get on a bus. Great. Luckily I had packed a second set of clothes so I had nothing to fear but my own popsicle when to my delight... "Masan!" yes! the attendant called for the Masan passengers and the station emptied out. Just as they all left the room, Corin walked up and stuck his popsicle in a dangerous drip zone over me... I did not have any spare clothes so I jumped out of the way. When I jumped, the popsicle "accidentally" fell out of my hands into the conveniently located trash can next to us. Well... I at least tried it before bailing out. I was proud of myself for that. And.... I even took a few bites before the audience dissapeared! Corin continued on in his efforts to dodge the drips while licking the red beans. Finally, the attendant came over and showed him how to do it! He took a huge bite out of the popsicle and handed it back saying "bite, bite, bite!" Haha.... it was pretty funny. Of course Corin went for it... he took the next bite, right after his newly established friend had just eaten off his treat. That's Korean closeness for you. There aren't really any "bubbles" here. No comfort zones. Anyways... COrin finally lost interest in the dripping mess and it went in the trash in time for me to wipe him down with wet wipes and change his shirt. The bus arrived, we loaded up, and off we rode to Busan!
Once we got to Busan, we headed for the subway where Corin was "pet" by multiple passer-byers. People love to touch his hair and face and that seemed to be in excess today. Finally Corin decided to hide behind me. We boarded the busy lunch-rush subway and stood near the door. Corin of course wanted to be held the entire time and was beginning to get frustrated and cranky with the people continuing to touch him.... So I headed for the corner to get out of the flow of traffic. There we stood as Corin pointed out the older men on the subway and called them all "Pa-Paws." (This is his version of the word grandpa.) After a quick transfer and a couple more stops, we finally reached our exit! Off the "train" and on to Mary's home!
We were meeting Ms. Mary for her haircut. When we got to the door, we were greeted with barking and Corin perked up a bit. "Puppy?" Yep, Ms. Mary had a sweet little dog that Corin was ready to play with! As Mary and I settled down to cut her hair, Corin snuggled up with Pepper. It didn't take long for Corin to come up with some funny stuff to talk to Pepper about as Mary and I carried on our own conversation. Each time Pepper would lick Corin, he would respond by telling her "No, don't eat me!" It was rather entertaining! Corin also decided to share bites of his carrot sticks with Pepper. It was a red bean popsicle all over again! Ha! After the hair was looking fabulous, Mary generously treated Corin and I to some tastey pizza! It has been a while since I have had a slice! Good stuff! Corin of course ate a couple of slices... with a spoon no less! Hahah... this kid goes for the route less traveled for sure! After yummy pizza and good talks, we all headed out to get Mary's eyes checked out. We went to a local eye-care facility/store (equivalent to Lenscrafters) and waited for Mary to drag out information from the technician performing her eye exam. She needed to have the exam done for her state-side license, so she needed him to fill out a form with the info from the check-up. It was like pulling teeth getting this guy to give her the reciept, a business card, even to write down the full address of the store! Yikes! hahah.... We are crossing our fingers that the DMV in the States is not too picky about the exam details! ;) Then we swung by the post office before heading back to the subway. The day had slipped through my fingers... before I knew it I was looking at my watch and reading 5:15. So... the voyage home began. We all boarded the subway and Mary parted shortly, with Corin in such sweet sorrow. He began sobbing as she exited the subway car and the doors closed behind her. It was so cute to see his affections for his new found friend! (Although I can't say sleep depravity and Pepper didn't play into the emotions a little!) This ride we stuck to the corner and were relieved to have a break from the "petting zoo" passengers. Finally we were at the intercity bus station and about to be able to relax and enjoy an hour of quiet and hopefully... for Corin... sleep. We got our tickets and made a bee-line for our beloved backseats on the bus. Just as we were settling in and getting comfy, a rather sweaty scented man decided to sit in the seat directly in front of us. Why? The bus was practically empty and he chose to grace US with his potent presence? Oh well... I soon had the clever thought of pointing our adjustable air vents in his direction. Slowly the sweat smell faded and I began to enjoy my seat again. Corin as usual, did not act according to my mental plan. No nap for him. (In his defense, he was amazingly well behaved the entire ride home!) We no sooner left the station than we were stuck in jam packed traffic. We sat still for about 20 minutes and then crawled to the edge of Busan. Finally, we hit the toll booth and it was smooth sailing from there. Corin was being great, I was fully relaxed and reflecting on my good conversations with Mary. We were about half-way home with half an hour left on that enclosed bus, when I began to get whiffs of some not so pleasant bodily odors. This time... it was not sweat. The guy in front of us was letting them rip! and man oh man... it smelled like he was about to R.I.P! They were disgustingly smelly. Putrid one might say. The guy never even blinked! At first, I thought it might be Corin, but when I took a sniff at the diaper, there was no lingering smell. Awwwww Man! With each new wave of stench, I found myself looking to the clock and counting down the minutes before we would be in open air! No wonder he chose the back of the bus.... "Oh look foreigners... even if they smell me, they won't be able to blame me... at least I won't be able to understand if they do!" Either that or "Look, a kid... kids always get blamed for gas. Perfect!" Oh well... I suppose it made for a good story-book ending to our day's adventures. Once we landed, we grabbed a taxi and a few minutes later, we were home! As soon as we popped out of the taxi, we were invited by some guys up at our new complex "mart" to have an ice cream with them. Half out of fear for red bean ice cream, and half knowing Corin needed sleep, I politely declined and gestured the sleeping motion before pointing to Corin. They bowed and smiled and bid us goodnight. With the sound of the unlocking deadbolt came the feeling of relief that I was home to relax and enjoy reflecting on the past ten hours. (Too bad the house was a mess... my fault!) A speed clean, tucking into bed, and tea making frenzy later... I resided to the computer room chair to await the arrival of my lovely hubby who should be home shortly from judging a speech competition in Busan... and with a set of bookshelves at that! :) All in all, a pretty good day with my little man!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The ins and outs, the dos and don'ts...

So I just read another expat's blog on their views of Korea so far, and thought I would give it a go too. I know I wrote a little something about it when we first got here, but a lot has changed in my perspective since four months ago! So here we go... the good, the bad, and the ugly of Korea:

(I briefly thought of listing off the likes and dislikes, but then considered it might detract from the purpose... in telling you WHY I like and dislike each of the following. So... I present you my opinions in paragraph form in hopes of making this blog entry slightly more enlightening!)
***Please note: This can and will not contain all likes and dislikes in accordance with time restrictions set by sleeping child and sleepy mommy. Thank you for your understanding regarding this matter.****

I suppose I should start with my dislikes so that we may end on a good note! Since arriving in Korea a little over four months ago, I have grown to enjoy things I did not care for before... or even things I hated before. However, there are some things that have not and may never change. I still hate the fish based soups... sorry, but they are not my thing. I still refuse to try anything with eyeballs still intact. (Hopefully this statement is self explanitory in my refusal... if not, we need to talk.) I do not enjoy older Korean telling me how to hold, dress, feed, and discipline my child. I do not enjoy the looks and comments(to put in polite terms) I recieve when I do not adhear to their "advice" in such matters. I do not enjoy the traffic which is not caused by accidents, but merely due to the fact that everyone tries to cut infront of everyone else and then no one ever gets anywhere.... traffic is pointless. I dislike scooters. Corin and I have almost been run over thrice now... and on the side walk. Grrrr. I dislike korean brooms. The brooms here are made for midgets... even the short Korean women have to bend over to use them. (I may come back with scoliosis due to sweeping every other day.) I dislike wallpaper, and the fact that it adorns alllll our walls and ceilings. I dislike the garbage system... if you need further explanation on that one, then you clearly missed the blog entry comprised of my ranting on this topic. I dislike the entercom system that is in every single apartment in Korea... The doorbell/video are connected to this phone-esk console in your apartment and has a uniform chime regardless of what area of Korea you are in. On top of the alarmingly loud video doorbell feature, which has no volume control, we are subjected to community announcements daily. Sometimes multiple times and quite consistantly at dinner time. Mind you, there is no volume control or mute button, or off switch... none. I am not thrilled with grocery prices concerning fruit or milk. Let's just say I could get a round trip ticket cheaper thatn I could get a watermelon every other week for a year. (I know.... odd comparison, but what can I say, I am a little homesick; so yes I have looked at ticket prices once or twice.) I dislike Korea being so far from Texas... while we are on the subject! ;) I dislike the fact that toddlers are sent to school from the time they are eating solid foods and that women who stay home to watch soaps while the kids are at said schools are considered stay home moms. Not cool. I don't dislike, but rather regret that we are not closer to Busan and our church body. I dislike the lack of modern conveniences which are apparently not as convenient here... such as clothes dryers, dishwashers, ovens and AIR CONDITIONING! Oh lordy, not sure I am ready for summer yet... today it only got to the mid eighties and I smell like I sat in a sauna for an hour! For now, those are the things that come to mind regarding dislikes.

On to bigger and better things... I am really starting to enjoy Korea. It is becoming more familiar to me and along with familiarity, comes comfort, with comfort comes increased joy and thanksgiving, with all these combined... I soon feel as though Korea will be like home.(In some respects never home, but that goes without saying... although I guess I said it so nevermind.) I am beginning to enjoy some of the spicy foods I once cried over. Yes, they still clear up my sinuses... but I LIKE it! haha! Foods I have grown to enjoy are mandu, spicy ramen, kimchi chigae (kimchi soup), and Korean "style" spicy rice dishes in general. Taylor and I actually eat at Korean restaurants on Sundays after church rather than the "american" style restaurants! Yummo! I enjoy duck... grilled duck (ori) very much! I like the little Korean elementary aged girls in our complex. They have been entertaining me and Corin as we watch them out our window! They have also been teaching me Korean words as I teach them English. Good exchange! In fact, tonight, we had a water gun fight at the playground and they learned "come here" and "stop" with pretty good annunciation! haha! They also decided it was funny to immitate my scream when they got me with the cold water in the rear! I enjoy public transportation when I have to take it. From the subway, to local buses, to taxis... they are generally pretty clean, cheap and fast! I like the feeling of safety here. I am not sure I have ever felt any fear of others... even on dark alleys in the city. The kids here play outside like when I was a kid. They come in at dusk after playing with their friends, riding bikes, and exploring the world around them. I truely LOVE seeing kids outside without that engrained fear of others. Even in the big city, you see kids in groups riding and playing together without a parent there... not sure that is the best idea, but I am glad Korea is still so innocent in this area. Crime by the way, the only crime I have heard of... is the naval ship sunk by the North Koreans. I like the fact that most people here are glad to have you trying to speak the language.... even if you are horrible at it like me. I am still playing charades for the most part. I love the scenery. Korea is really gorgeous. Taylor and I are blessed to live in a rural Mountain valley that is comprised mostly of small patchwork fields. Seriously... GORGEOUS! It makes for a really peaceful ride to and from Busan for church. I love the fact that every area of land is used too... if there is not a building, road or mountain... there is some sort of edible plant growing! :) Love it! I like the fact that ice cream comes in soooooooo many different flavor choices here! Haha! I like fact that we have no carpeted flooring, it makes cleaning so much easier... maybe more frequent, but easier! Having your shower, toilet, and sink all in one small area with a drain in the floor also makes for cleaning the bathroom way easier. You just scrub down, then hose down! It is great! (If we ever build a house... our bathrooms will resemble this design! I like the fact that there is public workout equiptment all over the place! Talk about not being able to make excuses for working out! I love it... there are eliptical machines, resistence machines, and stationary exercise bikes installed in most parks and even on most mountain hiking trails! How ingenious is that?! I sure wish the States would stop trying to make a fortune off the average citizen and provide some of these basics to the public too! I actually enjoy the public bath houses too! Call me crazy, but I am a fan of the jjimjjilbangs! There are so many things that I am not listing right now, but I am sure will pop up in the future!

And there is kind of a category that falls somewhere in between the two, maybe I will call it the things I do not agree with or fully understand...
I am in awe of the fact that women are the main field workers. I grew up in rural Indiana, where it was rare to see a woman in the fields or even on the tractors. I guess I just grew up with the idea that men were to be the farmers and doing the hard labor. Anyways, you see poor little old ladies hunched over with permanant back issues from bending over in the fields all their lives. It is sad to see. Not that it would not be sad to see little old men hunched over too. I can't really explain it... but I am not sure I feel the women should be doing the brunt of the field work. (Feel free to disagree.) I also do not understand why prescriptions and doctors appointments are so inexpensive, but over the counter drugs such as tylenol and ibuprofen are kind of ridiculously priced. I think that some of the foods which are so readily available and native here, should be less expensive rather than more expensive than what I pay in the states... such as rice and green tea. Odd. (this one may fall into the dislike category) I am also confused as to why Korea, who used to be one of the top retailers and outsources for shoes, does not carry a wider variety of sizes with so many expats living here. The women's shoe size cuts off at 8 and the men's at like a 9 or 9 1/2. Luckily I fit the top bracket of readily available shoe sizes... but Taylor will forcibly be ordering any footwear he needs online. Anyways... those are my fluid thoughts for the evening. Now my brain needs a rest and I need to relax! Thanks for joining us via the blog on our adventure here in Korea!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Potty Training: Rated PG

So last night we strapped the last diaper onto Corin's little behind and kissed him goodnight. I say last diaper, not in regards to him being fully potty trained and diaper free, but in reference to the fact that our baby wipes we ordered showed up yesterday... but not the diapers. So, assuming the diapers would be delivered today, I decided we could attempt a little potty training trial run and see how close he was to being ready.

The day started off with a bang, as I looked over to find Corin in the fetal position staring at his newly soiled pair of boxer briefs. He looked up only to make direct eye contact with me. His look said it all..."mom, that is not what was supposed to happen..." I laughed and explained that he needed to tell mommy when he needed to potty and we would go to the toilet to go potty like a big boy. As I cleaned him up in the bathroom, he asked me to put more big boy boxers on him... surely this is a good sign, right?! So about ten minutes later after several times of me nagging him to try the potty, he snuck away and puddled on the floor. Then he came running up and said he needed to potty. I took him to the toilet. He grunted a time or two, then smiled really big... "All done mama!" I nodded and continued to explain the pee pee needed to go into the potty.

Ten minutes later, he came to me with a rather bizarre look in his eyes, almost a deer in the headlights look. He rigidly told me he needed to potty and I realized he was holding it when I saw the little bity puddle on the floor. We ran super fast to the toilet and he stood up on the stool, placed his hands on his hips, and peeeeeeed! Hooray! We both gave each other high fives as we cheered for the big boy! Ten minutes later he came up to me again, this time with a much more proud look in his eyes and asked to go potty. We ran in, struck the potty pose, and again he peed in the big boy toilet! I was so encouraged by the fact that when I found his puddle, it was only a couple of drops! Sweet! Now he was getting the hang of it!...

We finished lunch and I had been expecting a delivery man to have rung the door bell by now, but much to my shigrin I was not yet in posession of a large box of discount diapers. What to do about nap time? Do I just resign to the fact that there would be wet sheets in need of washing, or would I just forego a nap until a certain box showed up? I of course opted for the wet sheets. Corin on the other hand, chose to stay up and wait it out. We both lost. Corin peed on the sheet before deciding to come out of his room in the most energetic way. He had no desire to go to the potty from that time forward and I was fresh out of clean boxer briefs by then. So... my little no-nap-nudist pranced about the livingroom playing with his toys in a very proud manner. His new found freedom also brought new found puddles and piles. Yuck. Really yuck. Really really yuck. Oh GROSS. It is one thing to change a poopy diaper. It is entirely different cleaning up a pile of poop off the floor. Luckily, the Lord was kind to me in that we have all laminate floors and so clean up proves easier than the alternative of carpet! For that, I am deeply grateful! We also have "fake leather" covered dining chairs... which I had not anticipated being so thankful for until I walked in from hanging the clothes after hearing Taylor say "no Corin... you go poop in the toilet!" Oh great... where was he pooping this time? Oh, standing up all bow-legged on the dining chair huh? Well... at least he was trying to keep himself clean during the process.

After a bath, Taylor and I asked Corin a series of questions in regards to his potty habits. "Do you go poopoo on chairs? Nooo, you go in the potty. Do you go poopoo on the floor? Noooo, you go in the potty. Do you go poopoo in your pants? Noooo, you go in the potty. Do you go poopoo in the sink? Noooo, you go in the potty. Corin, where do you go poopoo?" Corin responds " No I don't need to go poopoo." Well...let's hope our little talk had some form of impact on his next poopoo party. At this point, Taylor went to the store to get the emergency diapers that we had been holding out on buying in hopes that our huge box would arrive in just a few more minutes. They didn't. I was extremely joyous to have diapers in the house again.

While I am not giving up all together on potty training, I think he focuses best during the morning hours, and so I am planning to let him wear boxer briefs for a few hours each morning to get him used to actually going on the potty.... But... I might wait a day and give myself a little break! ;) All in all, I would say that Corin understands the need for going in the toilet, but he seems to do better when he has some sort of underwear on, than he does just going bare bottomed. Makes sense... I would not want wet clothes clinging to me either. So... when the boxers and patience run out, the diapers go on!

Finally done with cleaning doody for the day,