Life is busy but good

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It has been a busy couple of weeks. Not stressful though.

I went to my first Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWC) meeting.  Clarissa wanted to bring her big bear,  but I figured we would lose it so I convinced her to bring Elmo instead.  I didn’t realize we lost Elmo until we arrived at the chapel on base and she asked for him.  Oops.

PWC  was good.  I noticed that several ladies had babies so I assumed that childcare started after worship.  When I met one of the moms after worship she told me I can drop Clarissa off in the beginning.  So I dropped Clarissa off on the way to bible study.  There were three classes to choose from.  I decided to go to Becoming a Woman of Simplicity.  Who doesn’t need that?

I decided to try my commissary shopping over two days this week and it was so much easier to get to the bus. I put the soymilk in my backpack and the rest fit easily in our big samsomite bag. Clarissa also wanted to walk so I let her do that as I held her hood. I decided we need some kind of leash because once it gets warmer I won’t have anything to hold on to.

Thursday we went back to story hour at the library. I made another friend. She has three kids. They all love Clarissa and she didn’t want to leave them.

We tried to take the KTX (high speed train) to Osan on Saturday. We got to the station twenty minutes before the train left but the line was long. We had a printout but actually needed to exchange that for a ticket. There are only two trains per day to Suwon, which is where we needed to go. We decided to try again next week because there was standing room only for the two hour train ride.

We went to the Samsung store on the way home. It was quite an experience. Samsung sells pretty much everything, including insurance. We needed a Korean sound bar. We picked one out and they gave us juice while we checked out and scheduled delivery (apparently they deliver everything because they don’t keep inventory in the store). As we did that, the sales girl gave Clarissa a lollipop.

We had some tasty Japanese food for lunch. After Clarissa’s naptime we decided to check out the LG store and then ended up at Home Plus for a few things. Clarissa wanted to run around. She went to the potty seats, picked up an Elsa one, and wanted to run around the store while holding said potty seat. I finally got her to put it back but then she became obsessed with our new food waste container. I don’t know why. Maybe the size? She wanted to carry it to the bus, on the way home, and even played with it once we were home.

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On Sunday we went to the PX to buy Clarissa a potty. I had not planned to start potty training this young but she keeps talking about pee and poop. So we figured we would buy a potty and see what happens. Of course we splurged and bought the princess one.

The first day, she kept taking it apart and standing on it. That happened on Monday morning as well, so I though I would put the potty away and try again when she is older. She has successfully used her potty twice. But since we have been out a lot the past few days no longer seems interested, which is fine.

We bought Clarissa some rain boots at emart. She loves them! The first couple of days she wanted to wear them all the time.

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Our unaccompanied baggage arrived on Wednesday. It is hard to unpack with Clarissa so I usually unpack during naptime, which she of course is fighting with every fiber of her being. Needless to say, I am not finished.

I was initially disappointed because I really wanted to get back to cloth diapers but didn’t see them. First world problems right?! They were in the box with all of my wrapping paper. One of my army wife friends says getting your shipments is like Christmas. I am thankful to have my normal kitchen things again.

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Clarissa and I went back to PWC this week. I really enjoyed it. Clarissa was in childcare the whole time which made worship way better for me! She also received some Easter eggs and candy. She really enjoys her time with her friends.

Clarissa’s Easter gift from my parents arrived. We found a bookbag with a leash for her. There were several animals to choose from. Tim and I were surprised when she got really excited about the owl. She loves the backpack but doesn’t like the leash very much. At least I feel safer letting her walk around.

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On Friday, we met up with our new friends from last week’s story time. Clarissa loves trying to keep up with the big kids and they took turns holding her leash. She didn’t seem to mind as much if a kid was holding the leash.

Clarissa does very well at night lately. She usually only wakes up once a week to nurse now. This week, I spent some time looking at old journal entries from my phone. I finished the Kindle book What’s it like to be married to me? So I spent some time looking at things from when Tim and I were dating. At one point I wrote, “Tim feels called to Asia, especially South Korea. I wonder if we will live there someday.”

Also I was remembering a dream that I had this fall. Tim was walking across a military base (which I assumed was in South Korea) and he needed to get to 315. I think I thought it was a room number or that maybe the job Tim wanted would pop up in March. Anyway, Tim and I were talking about that dream the other day. He actually works in building 315 right now. Isn’t that crazy?!

Yesterday we went to Osan Air Base. It took two hours by KTX train to Suwon. Then it was about twenty minutes by subway and a ten minute walk to base. It was interesting for Tim to see how much the base has changed in eight years. I enjoyed seeing where “the dream began.” We met up with one of his friends and even had lunch at his favorite Thai restaurant in Songtan.

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Osan is huge! Daegu has three different camps. But when you add them all together, they are not half the size of Osan. Everything looked new and huge. The Exchange looked like a mall. The commissary was probably twice the size of ours.

We picked out a couch and some chairs to have sent to Camp Walker. Since the Exchange is so much bigger, there was a larger selection. There was even a play place in the food court so Clarissa was able to run around and get some sliding in before we headed back to the train.

Today we went to our base to look at their furniture again. The table we liked was out of stock at Osan, but they have it here. We also let Clarissa pick out an Easter basket since the one I have wasn’t in our first shipment this week. She is very excited to hold her basket and put things in it. However, she gets very frustrated if something doesn’t fit inside just right.

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Tim and I are both really enjoying Clarissa right now. She is so funny and fiercely independent. She has recently started adding “uh” to the end of words. She now says mommya, daddya, and puppya. I wonder if she is trying to speak Korean because a lot of words end with this sound. Kamsahamnida, shilehamnida, yugamimnida…

Also, I think I finally found a hairstyle for her that will work. Today, I did low pig tails and she left them in most of the day. She is still able to twirl her hair this way which is important. She likes to twirl either her hair or mine while she nurses. However, if any hair falls out and is in her hand, she says “eew hair” and it has to be removed immediately or she gets very upset.

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Clarissa also had to hold the basket at the commissary today.

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Clarissa loved the cherry blossoms on base this week. She kept saying they were pretty.

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Korean culture (part 2)

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One of Tim’s coworkers gave him a book this week that used to be part of orientation.

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It is interesting. Half of the book talks about things Koreans do that would seem rude to Americans. The second half of the book discusses things that Americans do that would be offensive to Koreans. I wonder why they stopped using this as part of orientation?

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As we settle in to normal life in Daegu, I have noticed a few interesting differences.

I think that if you asked Clarissa if she liked Korea, she would probably tell you that she loves it because she gets candy everywhere she goes. She had hiccups on the bus one day and the elderly lady sitting in front of us gave her some hard candy to suck on. Twice this week, women took her picture and then rewarded her with tootsie pops. While we were in the Samsung store, an associate gave her a lollipop.

Clarissa and I spend a lot of time looking out the window. There is a busy intersection in front of our apartment building so we see a lot of cars go by. For the most part, Korean cars are black, white, or silver. It is rare to see a different color unless it is a bus.

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Renting is also different (not that I have much experience in the United States, but what I think about renting is different). For example, we will probably never meet our landlord. They own our apartment and pay our utilities. But we only interact with our realtor. She showed us all of the apartments. If we have a question or concern, we call her. We give her the rent money. She also “signed” the papers at the housing office. I say signed loosely because Koreans do not sign with a signature. They have a stamp with their symbol on it. The ink looks red.

Also, in getting to know our realtor, she said her son was ten, but in America we would say he is nine. Children are considered one on the day they are born. So when a Korean asks how old Clarissa is, I say two. On base, I tell Americans nineteen months though.

Another interesting thing is that they don’t really sell baby monitors in South Korea. We looked at the baby specialty store and emart. We asked and they didn’t carry them. We didn’t bring our monitor from home because the voltage is different so it would not work without a transformer. So we had to order one online from Europe and have it shipped to us. I don’t know the real reason it was so difficult to find a monitor. I have a theory, but it may be completely wrong.

There are two types of apartments in Korea. One is residential and the other business style. The residential apartments are traditional Korean apartments. They only have air conditioning in the master bedroom. They do have windows and balconies to keep the house cool. The business style apartments are larger and more expensive. They have more western conveniences like a bathtub and more air conditioning units in the apartment.

My theory is that most of the young families live in the residential style apartments. If the master bedroom is the only room with air conditioning, maybe most of the family sleeps in that room together. You don’t need a monitor if your baby is in your room.

I think I need to do another post on the things in my apartment that you would not find in the United States.

Settling in (week 3)

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I think it is finally starting to sink in that Daegu is home. Hotel life made it feel like more of a really long vacation. But now that we are in our new apartment and I have to do dishes and cook again, it feels more normal.

On Sunday, we tried our first church. We were surprised because Tim’s boss was there. It was a small church. The sanctuary might seat 100? The only other child in the nursery was almost five. But she and Clarissa love each other.

Neither of us was thrilled with the service itself. But I have never been welcomed that many times in a place in my life! The people were all very friendly. After service each week, the whole congregation eats lunch together in the fellowship hall. New people sit at a special table so that you can get to know the pastor.Tim’s boss ate with us as well. Apparently he is one of the founding members of the church. He is a great guy.

So, it’s not completely ruled out because of the people. But we want to check out the other churches too to see if one is more like Forefront.

I meant to go to the chiropractor before we moved but the weather made that difficult. By Monday, I was so sore that I was getting migraines. There is a spa in the hotel that does massages 24 hours per day, so Tim and I decided that I should get one after I put Clarissa to bed.

It was a Thai massage. Until then I have only had Swedish. This was radically different. It started off with a warm water foot soak and some tea. Then she brought me to a room and told me to lie on a mat on the floor.

She probably spent 20 minutes massaging my legs. Then she massaged my hips. My hips have bothered me on and off since I was pregnant with Clarissa. It hurt while she was doing it, but I have not had any problems since. Needless to say, if you have any problems with your hips, I recommend a Thai massage.

The whole thing was pretty intense. For example, half way in, she was pressing on my abdomen. She asked if it hurt. I wanted to say “You told me to drink tea a half hour ago and now you are pressing on my bladder!” but I didn’t.

I think my Swedish massages have focused on my back and neck. Everything else was an after thought. The Thai massage spent an equal amount of time on each area of the body. She even massaged the top of my head and my ears! I think I may have to go back at some point as a treat to myself. I don’t know if I will go back to the hotel or if I will try a different place.

On Tuesday, we signed the lease for our new apartment and then Clarissa and I had lunch with Tim on base.

Wednesday, Clarissa and I took our first subway ride with just the two of us. We missed the first train because the line of people would not get out of the way for us to get out of the elevator. But God totally redeemed it because when we arrived at our stop by base, they saw us coming and held the first elevator for us. Then when we got to the next elevator, it didn’t look like we would fit with the stroller if everyone got on, so this gentleman said, “After you!” (He actually did fit afterall).

We had lunch with Tim and then headed to the PX to buy some things for the apartment. The army has loaner furniture but doesn’t have things like towels or sheets. It normally isn’t a problem, but since we set the record for moving in to an apartment, our linens won’t arrive for at least another two weeks.

I was looking forward to taking a picture of Clarissa in the stroller with all of our stuff and bragging about how we got it all back to the hotel by subway. But it would not all fit so I had to take a taxi. Tim was actually happy about this. He was concerned it would not be safe to carry everything back myself.

Thursday was moving day. Tim’s boss and sponsor came to the hotel to pick us up with all of our stuff. I was able to unpack all of the suitcases before the deliveries started.

The housing office brought us loaner furniture. The refrigerator and dryer were too big to fit through the door of the laundry room. Not a problem. They simply took out the window to the computer room and slid them in that way.

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The landlord bought us a new Korean washing machine. This did not have a problem fitting through the door. It looks small on the outside, but is actually a decent size inside. The fun part was using Google translate to figure out what all of the buttons mean.

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Our microwave and water filter were also delivered on Thursday. The gas dryer was hooked up. It was a busy day.

In the evening, we decided to walk to emart (like a Target or Walmart) because we didn’t have any groceries. On the way we discovered a store called Toy and Mom. Think Babies R Us, but in a store the size of Trader Joe’s. This store was about a five minute walk from the house so I imagine that I will be there a lot.

It was only another 5-10 minute walk to emart. We bought a few things that we needed. We were hungry and wanted to eat in the food court there but could not figure it out. There was a computerized menu where you could order and pay with a credit card. But it was all in Hangul so we could not figure out how to finish the order. We waited a bit but it was 8:00 and no one else came to order. So we went across the street to McDonald’s. I honestly have not eaten there in ages. But the food seemed less greasy to me.

On Friday, I was able to Skype with Shannon. Tim took the bus to work. He got to come home at lunch time because the army let us borrow some kitchen items like pots, plates, and forks. We had talked about him bringing them home at the end of the day but his boss thought I might like to have it earlier. It worked well because Tim was here when the KT guy was here to connect the Internet because he wanted to be here for that.

Tim went back to work. After naptime, Clarissa and I took the bus to base. We met Tim at the commissary to buy more groceries now that I knew what my options were for cooking.

Saturday was for exploring. We live near a busy intersection and had seen one direction on the way to emart. We decided to go a different direction. We walked straight for a mile or two (I am a horrible judge of distance). Then we turned left and headed for Drury park. It was pretty but we definitely need to come back once everything has bloomed in a few weeks.

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It was actually a huge place with hills and walking trails. We walked around the perimeter of the park. We have heard that there are awesome views from Daegu Tower, which we could see across the street, behind E-world. But we could not figure out which road to take to get there.

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By this time, we had been walking for over two hours so we decided to try the subway line nearby and see how far it is from our house. So we took the green line two stops and got off. On the way home, we stopped at a food court. It seriously had 20 restaurants to choose from. We ended up with Pizza Hut. Though it was really greasy and I don’t think we will eat there again.

We decided to pick up a few more things from emart and then headed home to put Clarissa down for her nap.

I also had my first operator error with a Korean appliance. I didn’t realize that in addition to turning on the transformer, I also had to turn on the gas to work the dryer. I was getting very frustrated that the dryer was on a long time but the clothes were still wet. Tim figured out the problem. Now I know…

On Sunday, we took the bus to base so that we could pick up a few things at the PX. We could not figure out dishwasher detergent at emart on Saturday. We also wanted to look at our furniture options since we didn’t ship our couch or table. At my spouse orientation, they said that there was a larger selection at Osan and they could ship it to the PX here in Daegu. But we were actually pretty pleased with the selection here.

After naptime, we made yet another trek to emart. This time we brought our luggage cart so that between that and the stroller, we could bring back a printer and a vacuum. Clarissa had her first major temper tantrum in public at emart. She wanted to run through the aisles and was not happy with her options of stroller or being held. But we all survived.

After a snack, we decided to check out the indoor playground in our building. The door was locked so we opted to play outside instead. Clarissa had a great time. There is a car for her to ride around in and two slides.

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This morning, I decided to take out the trash. It is different than in the United States in that you have to separate EVERYTHING. There is a bin for plastic, plastic bags, cans, glass, paper, general trash, and food waste. There were other containers too but they weren’t in English so I don’t know what to put there.

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Then Clarissa and I wanted to try the indoor playground. But it was still closed. I took a picture of the sign to translate later.

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But we brought our coats just in case and played outside instead.

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Moving right along (week 2)

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On Monday, we got to see part of two bases.  One base has all of the HR stuff,  so that is where I had to go to get my ID.  We saw the PX (post exchange)  in the afternoon. 

I was looking forward to a relaxing Tuesday because Clarissa has been sick and I wanted her to be able to rest. We started the morning with a Skype call to my parents. Then the realtor called so Clarissa and I took a taxi to meet Tim and the realtor.  It was worth it! 

Our realtor,  Michelle,  is a really nice,  Christian lady.  She showed us around an apartment complex.  It has an indoor and an outdoor playground,  a barbecue /picnic area on the roof,  and a fitness center.  Plus it is in an excellent location to get to Home Plus,  Emart (like the Korean equivalents of Walmart and Target),  and to Tim’s job.  We were pretty sold on the place before we saw the inside of the apartments. 

The first one she showed us was a three bedroom with hardwood floors.  I loved it.  Then we saw two different four bedroom apartments.  Our favorite was the three bedroom that just so happens to be on the thirteenth floor.  (For those of you who don’t know,  13 is a pretty significant number for us.  Tim was born on Friday the 13th. We started dating on a Friday the 13th…)

For lunch,  Michelle took us to a Korean restaurant across the street from the apartment.  The food was great.  I forgot to take pictures,  but my favorite was what Michelle called Korean pizza.  It had some vegetables in the crust so it almost looked like a spinach omelette.  And it had cooked octopus on top.  It was delicious!  I am glad she did not tell me what was in it at first because I may not have tried it.

Tuesday night,  we walked to Hyundai department store for dinner.  Tim had two different kinds of sushi that looked beautiful.  I tried them,  they were good.

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On the way out,  we stopped so Clarissa could look at the phone booth fish tank.   I thought the jellyfish looked pretty cool.  She was impressed with it all and didn’t want to leave.

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On Wednesday,  Clarissa and I Skyped Tim’s parents.  Then, Michelle called to say that we could get the three bedroom apartment we wanted.  We did go to see two other apartments with a different realtor in case that one fell through (we have heard plenty of stories in the past week). Although they were both bigger,  we didn’t really like them in comparison to the first one. 

Wednesday evening,  we decided to try a different restaurant in Hyundai department store (like a high end mall). This time we had Korean.  I got dolsot bibimbap and Tim got the spicy version. That is what we normally order at the Korean restaurant in Virginia Beach.  These were excellent. 

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They brought this out for Clarissa’s free meal.

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She tried the pickled fruit (but was not impressed)  and just played with the bamboo shoots.  She devoured the rice though. 

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Wednesday was the first night that Clarissa actually slept all night since our arrival.  It was such a welcome change since we have been waking up multiple times each night.

Thursday,  I had to attend a spouse orientation on base.  The taxis are very busy that time of day so I ended up sharing with two women from the hotel.  They were very nice.  We decided to sit together and rode back together as well.  I had Clarissa with me and was struggling to keep her quiet and entertained.  But a half hour in to the spouse orientation,  they opened up free child care.  So Clarissa got to play with three other little girls and two Korean grandmas.

Clarissa did not nap until we got back.  She nursed to sleep (I cannot tell you how thankful I am that we are still nursing.  I think that has made this huge change easier for Clarissa.). She woke up when Tim got home from work and then crawled next to me and slept on the bed for another three hours! 

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Tim and I were so tired that we decided to eat cereal in our room instead of going out to eat. 

Friday,  we had a housing inspection.  We will get a housing allowance while we are here,  so the army has to come and inspect your house before you can sign a lease.  Our apartment passed! We will sign our lease on Tuesday and move in on Thursday. 

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The elevator in our building has hilarious (we think anyway)  signs.

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Last night we tried a cute little Thai restaurant downtown.  The food was slightly different than what we get in Virginia Beach,  but it was excellent.

Saturday was laundry day,  as our hotel does not offer laundry service.  So we packed our largest suitcase and took the subway to the laundromat on base.  Clarissa actually did pretty well with the waiting.  She had plenty to look at and play with.

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Tomorrow we will check out an English speaking church in Daegu.

How you can pray for us

Thank you for praying for us.

Clarissa is getting over her cold.

We are thrilled about our apartment. God gave us ridiculous favor. I think we actually set a record for finding an apartment! Everyone we have talked to so far has been here over a month without finding an apartment. We will get to move in to our apartment after only being in South Korea for two weeks.

You can pray for a smooth transition to our apartment. Because we found it so fast, our unaccompanied baggage will not arrive until March 25 and our household goods until April 27. The army will let us borrow some furniture and pots. But we will have to buy sheets, towels, and pillows.

We are thrilled to be leaving hotel life though. You can pray that we will make friends quickly at our new home.

We are going to visit Daegu Faith international church tomorrow. You can pray that God would show us if that is our new church home and how to become involved.

Our home in Norfolk has had some showings, but still no renters yet.

Josie continues to do well in her new home. Her mom sent me a picture today. That is such a blessing.