“True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion”
-President Hinckley

Monday, June 24, 2013

First week in Korea

Our first week here has been kind of a whirlwind experience. It's a completely different culture, language, and time zone, so it's been a little hard adjusting to all of that. It's not just the Korean culture that we've had to adjust to either, but the army culture as well. We've been in the army for 2 years, but we've never lived on base and most definitely never lived overseas, so everything is new and different here. That's not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination, it'll just take some time to get used to. Here's what's been happening since we left Seoul.

We left Seoul on friday and took a bullet train down to daegu, which was just about the best day of evie's life. She was so excited to go on a choo choo train and cried when we had to get off. The veterinary unit in Seoul  sent two soldiers with cars to help get us and all of our stuff to the train station, thank goodness, because we had a lot of stuff. One of the soldiers was a katusa. 

The katusa are a branch of the army here that are Korean soldiers. They have to go through some pretty rigorous testing about the English language and stuff to become one, so it's pretty prestigious. They aren't American citizens, they're more like a companion, for lack of a better word, to the army. So they work alongside our soldiers and help out in a big big way. Apparently, Koreans in the Korean army strive to be katusa because its much easier than being in the rock army (not sure if that's spelled right), which is the Korean army. 

So anyways. One of the soldiers was katusa and he made sure we got on the right train since we don't speak or read Korean. These trains aren't really built to haul people with a lot of stuff, so it took a while to cram all of our suitcases, stroller, and car seats in the overhead thing. Pretty funny. The poor people who came in after us didn't know where to put their briefcases cause I swear we took up the whole compartment with our stuff. 

Going on the train was our first real experience with Korea and the culture here, and I was pretty intimidated. Koreans don't talk when they're on public transportation, so you can imagine my embarrassment when evie and Emmett were both being kind of loud. Oh well. Hopefully they knew we were American and didn't get too offended.

  Luckily, the announcements for stops were in Korean and English, so we found the right stop and got off in time. The veterinary unit  here had another 2 soldiers meet him at the station in daegu to help us unload, which was super helpful because the train only stays in the station for a couple minutes and we had a lot of stuff, like I said already. 

After we got into the cars, the nice soldier drove us around from base to base and to the px and commissary so that we could get a place to live, cell phones, and the bare necessities, like sheets, towels,and toilet paper. These nice guys drove us around all day long helping us get stuff done, bless their hearts. They also took us over to the vtf (veterinary treatment facility) so we could meet everyone and Dan could see where he will be working. That place was so so nice. I think Dan is going to love it there, especially considering that the last place he was at was just a double wide trailer acting as a vtf. The captain that Dan is taking over for has been super helpful and super nice, and I think that's been good for Dan because it gives him a bit of a leg up in running the clinic after she's   gone. 

The people at the vtf are incredible. I seriously cannot say enough about how kind and generous they have been already in the short time that we have been here. Mrs Farley, the receptionist, took me around on Saturday to the px and commissary and helped me get a lot of things to make our apartment more homey, like a rug and a shower curtain. She was also the one who called around and had someone bring us a pack n play and some blankets. The guy who brought those to us also lives in camp George and is one of dan's soldiers. He's also super nice. 

After I was done running errands with Shanise, we were invited to go have lunch with captain waclowick, which is the cpt Dan is taking over for, and her husband. Let me tell you, it was incredible to finally have a home cooked meal that wasn't from a restaurant or fast food place. Incredible. They told us all the fun things they were able to do while they were here and gave us lots of advice about traveling and what to see. We couldn't be more excited to get out and do some of the things they mentioned. 

Saturday night we just sort of relaxed and spent most of the evening trying to figure out where the church building was and how to get to it. While we were in Seoul, Dan met a major who was a veterinarian and also happened to be lds, so on Saturday he gave him a call and asked him where and when the branch met, and he gave Dan the branch president's number. So, we were able to talk to him and after a lot of confusion on our part, one of the guys in the branch presidency came and picked us up. So nice. 

The branch here is incredible and incredibly tiny. I think there were 30 people there on Sunday, counting our family of 4. So, we can't hide in the back like we usually do and we will probably be giving lots of talks. That'll be good for us too, I think. In relief society, there were 5 of us and they told me that was actually a big number, and that just made me laugh. It'll take some getting used to, to be in a branch so small, because I'm crazy shy and not at all outspoken, so ill have to get over that I guess. After church we were going to walk with another family down to the subway so they cod show us how to do it, but its kind of a long walk and we didn't have a stroller or anything for the kiddies, so another nice person gave us a ride home instead. Her name is Abbi and she lives a couple buildings over from us. She has a son in nursery with evie and they love  each other already. 

On Sunday night, brother and sister Jenkins invited us over for dinner. He's the one who gave us a ride to church. We were just about to go outside and wait for him to pick us up, when Dan got a call and had to go into work. In Korea they do readiness tests,or something, where they will periodically make everyone come in and check that all the units are whole and ready in case North Korea decides to do something stupid. I understand the logic behind the drills, but we were super disappointed that Dan couldn't come to dinner with us. 

So, me and the kids flew solo to dinner. It was a lot of fun to get to know them and have evie play with some new friends. What a nice family. 

On Monday, Abbi invited me and the kids over to play, so we went over there and evie And Eli were able to play together for a little bit, and then we all got ready to leave because Abbi was going to show us this cool Korean store that was like a 20 min walk from here. We met up with some other moms, one of which is my neighbor who also happens to be lds! What are the odds? Her name is Aimee and she has 5 kids, the youngest of whole is also in nursery with evie. I'm so excited to have so many lds families around here, and especially excited to have a family one door down from us. 

We were almost out the gate when Dan called and said he was going to come pick us up and take us to do some administrative things, so I didn't get to go to the cool Korean store. Oh well. maybe next time. So, we went and got registered, visa-ed, and finger printed. Even Emmett had to have his photo taken so that when they pull up our names his picture is in there. Something that's been a huge struggle since we've been here has been shopping because we don't have a rations card.

They do ration control here, so you can't buy anything from the px or commissary without one, so since we don't have one, we haven't been able to do any big grocery shopping yet. When Shanise took me around on Saturday, she just used hers so that I could get a few things. Nicest girl. 

And that's one of the things Dan had to get for us on Monday while we were in processing, was our rations card. He will go pick that up today, so we will be able to go grocery shopping soon. Yay! 

After we were done with all that in processing, we went to lunch, and then the nice soldier who was driving Dan around took us to the kt olleh building off post to help us get Internet. Nicest man. He's the one who gave us a pack n play and blankets. So they signed us up and had a guy come out the afternoon to install it. 

Getting our Internet installed was kind of a fiasco because he couldn't get on base without me signing him in, but I was the only one at home with 2 children, one of whom was napping. Dan called and told me to go out to the gate and sign him in or he would leave, so I did. I put Emmett down, hoping he would go to sleep, and booked it down to the gate before he left. Worst mother ever. When we got back to the apartment, Emmett and evie were both crying. Awesome. Emmett never went to sleep and probably woke evie up by crying so much. Poor babies. I did finally get them both back to sleep, which was lucky because I had to go back out with him to sign him out. Phew. What a workout. 

On Monday afternoon we went down and played at one of the play areas here on base with Abbi and her kids. Evie could not be more ecstatic about  all of the playgrounds here. Heaven. While we were playing, Aimee, from the branch who lives one door down, called and told me she was bringing dinner over. I guess word got out that we don't have a ratio card and therefore have no groceries. We were so thankful to have something to eat, so that was so so nice of her. 

After dinner, another lady from the branch, Jen, called me and wanted to make sure we were all doing okay and offered to take me to the commissary the next day so I can buy some things. So, hopefully I will be doing some grocery shopping soon.

Everyone we've met so far has been just amazing. They're all so kind and generous and we feel so lucky to be on the receiving end of it. Our experience so far with dan's unit and our branch here in daegu has been outstanding. Today Abbi is going to take me to some of the street vendors off base that sell fruits and vegetables! I'm so excited! Dan took some won out of the ATM, so I'm all set. After Evie's nap, Jen is going to take me to the commissary, so it should be a really fun day. Hope this update was long enough for you.;) 

This is won, their money system here. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My boy

I was reading through some of my old blog posts and reading my cousin's blog, when I realized I've been seriously neglectful of writing about Emmett. I wrote a post about every month of Evie's life until she was 1, but I haven't posted about my lil man at all. Huge oversight. In all the craziness that moving to Korea has created, I've neglected to write about him, and since this is basically my journal, here it goes.

Our (not so) little Emmett is now 3 months old, and time really has flown by with him. In his short life he has been moved from Virginia to Wichita, Wichita to Provo, and then Provo to Seattle and Korea. He has been carted from place to place and has never complained.

He is huge, but not exactly chubby. He has big cheeks that I can never seem to stop kissing and is in the 70-90 percentile for just about everything. 

Our Emmett is a dream baby, and I mean that he is straight out of my dreams. He loves when you talk to him and tries his hardest to talk back by making the cutest coos and grunts. He is the sweetest and most content baby I have ever met and I feel like I won the lottery because he chose me to be his mother.

Before we moved to Korea, he would sleep a solid 9-10 hours every night, which was amazing. Since we've been here, though, he hasn't been sleeping well at all and I feel bad that I get so frustrated with him at 3 am because he is still so happy and content, but all I want is for him to be asleep.

He loves to stand up or be sitting up, but can't do either by himself yet (obviously), so he expects you to hold him upright all day long. He doesn't like being laid down on his back for happy awake time, so don't even try it.

Emmett is constantly smiling and giggling at everyone. The other day, the cleaning lady walked by Dan and Emmett and he wouldn't stop smiling at her. He seriously wins everyone over as soon as they meet him. He thinks his sister is the greatest thing on planet earth. If she is anywhere near him or if he can hear her voice at all, he gets the biggest grin on his face and looks around for her.

I like to think that he is a momma's boy and that I am his favorite, but I'm the one who feeds him, so that could be why. He squirms harder and smiles bigger when he hears me, so I figure that means he likes me best.

He has black hair and dark blue eyes that are just gorgeous and I hope more than anything that he keeps them. Where did he get dark blue eyes, I don't know, but I swear he's mine.

He still has pretty bad cradle cap, but we are working on it.

After having Evie, he has been a breath of fresh air. I real angel. That isn't to say that Evie is hard or that she's a bad kid, because nothing could be further from the truth, but she was really colicy. I would have nightmares all the time before Emmett was born that he was colicy too, and I just didn't know what to do. Luckily, he is a very mellow and content little dude.

Oh Emmett. We love you so much. Words cannot express how much joy you have brought into our lives. I was so afraid of having you and moving overseas right after, but you've just been amazing. I cannot imagine my life without you now. I love everything about you, beautiful boy, and I can't wait to watch you grow up, but not too quickly I hope.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

so, we moved to Korea

After all the stress, anxiety, and paperwork, we are finally in Korea, together, as a family. I can't even tell you how blessed we were to be able to travel together. Every person we talked to said it wasn't possible, that it would never happen, that I would be going it alone with 2 babies. But then heavenly Father stepped in, and now here we are.

So, about the flight. It wasn't nearly as bad as I was thinking it would be, which was a huge blessing. It was about a 9 hour flight to Japan, and then another 2 hours to Korea. Here's how it all went down:

On Saturday evening we flew from Salt Lake to Seattle because that's where our flight to Korea would leave from. We were hoping to just check into our flight (super) early and then spend the night in the USO. Turns out, the flight we were taking was a military flight, so there was no way that was going to happen. There was no one at the desk, so we couldn't check in or get rid of our baggage and we weren't sure what we were supposed to do, so we went up to the USO and asked them. As fate would have it, every single person in the USO was in the same boat we were. They told us to store our luggage in the annex, and then hang out until midnight, which is when we needed to go get in line for check in because check in started at 2:30am. WHAT!? I guess on military flights they don't assign you a seat until you actually check in, so everyone was scrambling to be first so they can get on the flight and get a good seat. We were doubly stressed because we wanted to be able to sit together, not just get on the plane. As in traditional Army fashion, is was completely ridiculous and inefficient. Dan left us upstairs so the kids could sleep a little and went down to stand in line, but was then told that his family had to be with him to hold his spot. Again, what!? It wasn't too much of a sacrifice on our part, though, because we were sleeping on the floor, so I wasn't even asleep, and Evie wasn't sleeping well. The good news is that they made a separate line for families, so we got in pretty quickly and got 4 seats together. After we checked in, we went back to the USO and tried to get some sleep. I think Dan and I got maybe 2 hours and Evie got about 4, but lil Emmett slept the whole night and woke up at his usual time. Wouldn't it be nice to sleep in a car seat and have everyone just carry you around? He's such a champ. Then we made it through the enormous line at security and got on the plane. The plane ride itself is a bit of a blur because I was so exhausted, but from what I remember, Evie and Emmett both did great. Evie slept for the first 3 hours or so because she was so tired, and that made things a LOT easier. The food they gave us was surprisingly good, and Evie was mostly content. Our only mishap was when Emmett blew out his diaper and I didn't have a change of clothes for him. The poor kid had to just wear his sleep sack for the rest of the day. I regret not taking any pictures of him, because he seriously looked like a little redneck kid in overalls. We stopped in Japan at a military base there for a couple hours, which was weird. It was weird because I knew we were in Japan, but it didn't look any different cause it was an American installation. Everyone scrambled to find outlets to charge their many devices and mostly just sat and waited. And waited. And waited. Luckily they had a tiny kid play place, so Evie was able to run around and play with other kids. We finally got back on the (dang) plane and headed for Korea. Again, I don't remember much because I was running on fumes by this point, but I remember getting to Osan, Korea just fine. Once we were there, they brought us all into a big room and gave us lots of lectures about customs and immigration, blah blah blah,which was completely unnecessary if you ask me because the Korean guy at the immigration desk barely looked at our form and sent us on our merry way. Customs was even sillier because they just asked us if we had any contraband items on us, and when we said no, THEY sent us on our merry way. After that, they sent us to some buses and we did a lot more waiting. The buses then took us to Yongsong, which is where things got pretty interesting.

We were supposed to have a room set up for us at the Dragon Hill Lodge on the Yongsong base once we got here, but there was some sort of blackout or something, so they couldn't access our reservation or make any room cards. We opted to just go to a different hotel for the night instead of just wait around for them to get their system up and running, so we ended up at the Capital Hotel instead, which was off base. By this time, we were all barely functioning. And I mean, barely. Emmett and Evie were both totally asleep and Dan and I were complete zombies. Not to mention, we all smelled terrible because Dan, Emmett, and I had been 2 days without a shower and Evie had been a record 3 days. They sent us up to our room and when we got into it we just sort of looked at each other and giggled. It was a little tiny room, but they managed to squeeze 2 twin beds, a kid bed, and a crib into it. Seriously little. The best part, though, was the bathroom. The counter came up to my knees and the toilet was so low to the ground it was ridiculous. Again, we just had to giggle, due to our state of hysteria. I guess Dan and I will just have to resign ourselves to being giants for 2 years. The beds felt like we were sleeping on a wooden board, but man were we happy to see them anyway. The next morning, a bus came and took us back to the Dragon, which is where we are now. It's super nice and has all kinds of things inside, like shops, a play place, restaurants, shopette, salon, and many other things.

That's all the update I have for now. We spent our day yesterday watching movies, so we haven't really done or seen anything yet.
View from the plane, flying into Japan

The Capital Hotel lobby


View from our window. So pretty.

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