Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Book Review: ScreamFree Parenting

I am a screamer. It is not in line with my parenting philosophy, but part of my nature, or at least it is what I have always done. It doesn't work to solve or resolve the situation, just releases tension for me. As part of my spending reform process, I am trying to use the library instead of Amazon.com. After a particularly frustrating day, Ian and I went to the parenting section of the library and I found ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Runkel, MS, LMFT. . Although, putting "scream free" together as one word with a trademark," ScreamFree", annoys me, I try not to get wrapped up in details like that. The book has a lot of good information, that, like a lot of things that make sense, just clicks. Some of the main points of the book:

1. Emotional reactivity is our worst enemy when it comes to having relationships. I am emotionally reactive.

2. We are responsible TO our children, not FOR our children. They will make different choices than we want them to make and we have to let go over our stake in those choices. I have this one down. I think a lot of parents today need to hear these messages. When I hear of parents writing the college application essays for their kids or riding them to get them turned in, I think, "If they aren't ready to do the application, they aren't ready. I don't think you should allow a kid to stay on your couch rent free and play video games, but a kid should not be forced to do something they aren't ready for, because in the end, most kids like that will fail out or not do as well as they could or end up having to go back later because they figured out what they really want to do. I know countless examples of smart, but unmotivated kids who went to work after high school, instead of college. A year of the kind of job a highschool education will get you is enough to internally motivate most people. And if it doesn't, you have to respect their choice and realize they are saving you money by not going to school. I'm sure this is very hard for parents. Even though, I fully believe what I just wrote, I know some of Ian's choices will be hard for me,

3. The only way to regain a position of influence with our children is to maintain a position of control over ourselves.
Old school parenting types seem to think that without screaming and spanking you are letting the child have everything without discipline. But, discipline means "to teach" and you aren't teaching the right things when you scream or spank. It is just a release of emotional energy for the parents. It teaches the child not to trust you, to fear you and maybe it works temporarily to suppress them, but eventually, everyone rebels.

4. I am responsible to my child for MY behavior regardless of how he behaves. I need to repeat this as a mantra. I really blew it today on this one, but more on that later.

5. Focus on you, because you are the only one you can control. It really is an illusion to think you can control another person. There is always a cost when you try.

6. Your emotional responses are up to you, you always have a choice.

7. To be "in charge" as a parent means inspiring your children to motivate themselves.

He gives some strategies for effective communication/discipline:

1. Rarely look your kids in the eye when talking to them, especially on sensitive issues because kids feel freer and safer to talk. My mother always said that my brothers talked to her the most in the car while she was driving. That was where the tough questions got asked.

2. Don't ever set a consequence that is tougher for you to enforce than for the child to endure. There are no short cuts to enforcing consequences. Choose only those consequences you are willing to endure.
Only choose consequences you are willing to endure yourself. In other words, the child needs to know you are serious by you keeping your word. If you set a consequence and then back out, you won't be taken seriously.

Our Egypt shipment was delivered today after lunch. Curt came home to help oversee things and Ian got overstimulated and wouldn't take a nap. What he did do over and over and over was touch things, especially the water dispenser. I would get one thing unpacked and then have to clean up water that he was dumping: all around the bed frame, all over the floor, everywhere. My response: scream at him,"Why are you doing this? I said no! No water! No water! No water! No water!" Of course, my screams had no effect. He would cry when I took whatever water vessel he had at the time away, but as soon as I went back to unpacking, he was back to the water. It is unrealistic to expect that much self-control from a 19 month old. The right answer is to move the water dispenser out of reach. After he finally went down for his nap (after 5:00pm), I calmed myself down enough to remember how I am trying to parent and hopefully make the correction. It is really stressful that we have tons of kitchen items and limited kitchen space. Everything needs to be washed and it is overwhelming. Curt just put his treadmill and Bowflex together only to discover that he missed a piece of the Bowflex and has to take the whole thing apart to fix it. At least the dog has finally relaxed. She gets nervous and was crying the while time the movers were here.

Back to the book, the ScreamFree principles apply to all relationships, not just parent-child. Also, "screaming" does not just mean, literally, screaming, it also means checking out. I wish the book had more real-world examples, but it is a good reminder and refocuser for the frazzled parent.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ian's New Words Based on Interests

Car/Tar-We watch cars go by out of our window

Cereal-He loves hot oatbran cereal in the morning and cheerios as a snack.

Go-He loves to go anywhere.

Key- He likes to use the electronic key to open the door.

Out (Ow)- He is always going into Roxxy's kennel or the laundry room or somewhere else he is not supposed to be and I say,"Get Out"

Pen-He loves pens almost as much as loves remotes

Pain-He falls a lot on the wood floors and is teething

Paw-He loves anything to do with Roxxy.

Pee/Peeing-We take Roxxy out for her to pee

Poop-We watch Roxxy poop

River- We look at the river all day out of our windows and he has a well-established obsession with water.

Side (Slide)-He loves to go down the slide at the playground

Sue/Shoe-We take off our shoes when we go inside.

Tea-Mama's tea

Train (Tain)- He loves to take the metro and now enjoys his toy trains much more.

Found Earring in Samgakji Metro Station Elevator in Seoul

I sent this photo to my friend, Trashionista Extroidinaire, Lauri Apple. For years, she has salvaged clothing and other found items and now has a website dedicated to such finds called, simply, Found Clothing.

Dancing Fool in Love

I missed the best part of this exchange. He was running after her and dancing around her trying to get her attention, but the time I got the camera out, he got shyer. He continued to follow her around the playground, but my battery died.

That Boy Sure Can Eat!

Everything's Better with Ketchup

I Like Soy Beans (He had two bowls of fermented soy beans)

Pasta Coma (He firmly believes that lycopene and adequate rest are essential to maintaining a healthy glow)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Reforming a Hoarder

Today, Curt is working on his closet. He loves to buy white socks, undershirts, underwear and workout clothes especially. He buys in bulk and often. Why do you need 100 pairs of white socks (sadly, this is not an exaggerated number)? So today, we are using the Fly Lady timer and he is going through them: tossing what is old and worn out and then putting 10 pairs of each type back in the drawer. The excess will go on the top shelf of the closet to be put in the rotation as the other stuff wears out. Old undershirts make great rags so we will be set in that area as well. We don't own any dressers and I really don't want to buy any so we are trying to fit everything in the closet. I went through my clothes before I left Egypt and got rid of more before I left Erie. He got rid of a lot before we left Erie also, but it is more painful for him to do it. I am really proud of his efforts and ability to let the stuff go! We want to get his clothes done before he goes to Georgia so he knows exactly what he has. There are lots of his clothes in the Texas shipment that he needs to go through as well. Macon Goodwill is getting a major donation!

This solves the problem of having too many clothes and never having anything to wear. I really donated a lot of clothes in Egypt. Things I hadn't worn in years, things that never fit right: out! I still have items I could probably get rid of and I am working on that. The second part of this is making better purchases to begin with, just because it is on sale (or even clearance) does not mean it is a bargain if it doesn't fit right or you don't need it.

We also plan to start weekly menu planning to increase the quality and variety of food we eat, decrease preparation time and decrease waste. But, Baby Steps. We have to tackle this stuff first.

Hot Stuff

I'm Gonna Do It

I'm Doing It

I Did It

I'm Hot Stuff

Friday, April 25, 2008

$6,000 Rug

The rug store at the Embassy Club was having a HUGE SALE. They have oriental carpets from Iran and Pakistan. I picked out a large, beautiful rug. It was wool and double knotted. $6,000 was "as low as he could go.". Yeah, right. It was beautiful, but I don;t know how much those things are supposed to cost, but even if it is a good price, it is too much to spend on a rug with a dog and a young child and a husband who spills coffee everywhere. We laughed when they told us the price.

Pinched Fingers

Ian got his fingers pinched in the door today. Nursing comes to the rescue again, from hysterical to calm in less than 30 seconds.

E-Mart is Where it's At!

We finally found the E-Mart. It is a big store with everything from groceries to clothes to house wares, kind of like Super Wal-Mart. Everyone has been saying,"Try E-Mart" for everything we've been looking for so we went looking for E-Mart today. In one of the books that we got on Post they gave directions from Gate 19. It said,"You can't miss the Space 9 sign." Well, no Space 9 sign that we could see. I think the name has been charged to I'Park Mall. But, we found it and after making our purchases:

-2 sets of stainless steel chopsticks and spoons
-1 set of trainer chopsticks for Ian
-wooden chopstick/spoon holder
-2 bibimbap bowls (you can heat the bowls so the food stays hot)
-a grill plate that goes on top of a propane cooker
-dish towels
-small micro fiber duster for Ian so he can help clean
-small broom and dust pan for Ian so he will leave the big broom and dust pan alone. It isn't working so far, but I have hope.

We went to have lunch at the Food Court. We double checked on the process of ordering with some Americans that we saw and they talked to us for awhile, it was nice. I had bulgogi and Curt had a similar dish but spicy pork version.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Getting a Handle on Our Stuff

Well, my sister received the stored goods from Texas at the Georgia house and now, after Curt called AGAIN, we found out that our Egypt shipment is finally in Korea and will be delivered on Tuesday. Curt then goes to Georgia for a week at the beginning of May to set up the house, mail some stuff to us and decide what to give away. My sister doesn't have much so a lot of the things we can't ship, she can have. I've organized Curt's side of the closet very well so he can see what he has as far as clothes. Hopefully, he will be able to let go of some of the clothes in storage since he has so many here.

I can't wait to get the kitchen shipment from Egypt so we can return the kitchen stuff to the lending closet. I packed up the bedding, towels and some other things when ours arrived, but we are still using the plates, glasses, silverware, utencils and coffee pot. I don't want to return anything until I return everything because bureaucratic problems can happen that way and I don't want to end up paying for the stuff because they made an error in recording it. I find that you really have to work hard to make sure things don;t get screwed up and sometimes, people still find a way to do it. The lady at the lending closet seemed pretty sharp when I went there before, but I don't know if she is the only one working there. Anyway, when I get that stuff returned it will free up a lot of space in the closet.

Yesterday, I found a place for all the books, office supplies, craft supplies and technological stuff. I put the books in the shoe closet in the front entry way. We have all of our shoes stored there and there is still tons of room. I put most of the rest of it in the second Master Bedroom Closet. The second MBR has a dividing screen so one one side we will have a guest bedroom and the other side we will have the office. We will use the closet to store all of our supplies. The shower in this bathroom is Roxxy's shower because it goes directly on the floor, no stepping into anything and lots of space for her to move around. I thought we were going to have to buy bookshelves quickly, but we don't need to, we can wait until we find something we really like. We've been told that a lot of people keep the furniture from Housing the whole time they are here. I really want to get a different couch/coffee table and dining set, but I think I will use the nightstand to set the computer up on and the printer is on an end table. The tv is on an end table as well. That can stay for awhile.







The only problem we have is that our bed is coming in the Egypt shipment and so we really need to get the bed from housing out of here but we want to keep the other stuff. This could cause a problem, but we are just going to have to risk it. We still have to decide what to do about the American refrigerator. It is not plugged in, but it is the only magnetic surface in the kitchen. Still, I think we should get rid of it and hang the dry erase board. You have to use special hangers so that is a pain, but we could put the water dispenser there if the fridge was gone and gate it off so Ian couldn't dispense water and then plug it in so we could have instant hot water. Also, when his Learning Tower arrives, it will be a good spot to store that when it is not in use.

The cable guy was supposed to be here at 10am. It is now almost 2:00pm. Somethings are universal.

Free Translation/Information in Seoul

I went to the American Women's Club Newcomer's coffee last week and they told me about two really cool services:

Seoul Global Center E-mail: hotline@seoul.go.kr / hotline@sba.seoul.kr or call: 02-1688-0120
1330- Dial 02-1330 from a cell phone or just 1330 from a landline in Korea or +82-2-1330 from abroad.

If you have questions or need translation, you can call or e-mail and get an answer. I e-mailed about Bikram Yoga and got a response in just a few days.

More on Bikram after I visit Pure Yoga Studio (In Apgujeong across from the Galleria on the 4th floor). The other place, California Wowx Gym is having management issues and was closed when I walked past it this week. The SGB said CWX was "unavailable due to management issues". I also saw a sign for "Hot Yoga" across from the Shinsa station but I was on the wrong side of the street and have heard that the ones labled hot yoga are not very hot or good.

If you are new to Seoul or not new, but don't speak or read Korean, these services can really help. The website for Pure Yoga has all the relevant information in Korean or you have to log-in and I couldn't figure out how to long in. I think it requires the Korean identity number, but I am not sure. Could just be my technical and linguistic incompetence.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1st Catalog Shot

This shoot took place in a beautiful white, modern house in the suburbs. Ian was supposed to wear all the boy clothes, but he was extremely uncooperative and we could only stay a short amount of time because of a real estate appointment, so he just got in one outfit.

Shopping & FLYing

I took the metro to Apgujeong, a ritzy area with a street called Rodeo Drive. Lots of high-end stores, cafes and restaurants are in this area as well. I wandered around for hours. It seems that if the action is to the right, I go left and vice-versa, but I found things eventually. I didn't buy anything or even go inside the stores because I knew things were super expensive and I had Ian with me, but it was fun to see what is around.

I went to the Croc store in Itaewon, but the biggest size they have is an 8, too small for me so I went to the base. While at the food court (hit the food court at the PX because it is cheaper than off-post and Ian was in no mood for a dining experience since we were really late getting lunch), I ran into my neighbors and their son. It was their son's second day of pre-school and he cried all day and had several potty training accidents. He also refused to eat. While we were eating at the food court, his dad took him to the bathroom and he didn't go. As soon as they got back to the table he peed on the floor. They were supposed to meet friends for dinner so they had to go to the PX and get diapers and new pants for their son. They all had a tough day.

Ian and I went to the PX after we finished eating and I bought a pair of shoes. They are dressier than most of my shoes, but I can walk in them. The Koreans wear high heels everywhere, but I don't think I can wrangle a stroller on these hills in heels. The selection at the PX is really limited and not that cheap but I have hard to fit feet so ordering online is a big pain. I also got a new planner to replace the one I have had since 1995 or 1996. The cover is shredded. And, I bought a notebook to build my Fly Lady Control Journal.

I haven't fully implemented the system, or even done it on the slow schedule, but I have been getting dressed in the morning, making the bed, trying to keep the sink and counters clear and a few other things sporadically. Curt has been great with the system as well! The "15 Minutes" plan has really focused him. He tends to get sidetracked and usually makes a bigger mess than he starts with because he gets overwhelmed. Now, he really focuses and has gotten a lot done. Tonight, we picked up Ian's toys. It seemed like an overwhelming task, but we worked together and in about 15 minutes, it was done. We didn't use the timer, but we had the momentum going so it really worked. I decided to do the control journal because I think that in order to get the full effects of something, you have to by into it for a period of time. I do not want to think about cleaning, but if I take the time to think about cleaning in order to develop routines, my house will be cleaner and I won't have to think about it. We both do better if things are written down. It has been amazing to get up, do the morning routine, look at the clock at realize that it is only 8:30am. I am getting much more done in less time. I need to start getting up at a set time. Often, I just wait for Ian to get up. I can get a lot more done without Ian running around.

There were three bonuses today: we stayed at the PX until Curt was finished with work, so we got a ride home; the replacement shipment for the bedding and towels that were wrongly returned by the mail clerk arrived today; my sister got the call that the Texas storage shipment will be delivered to Georgia today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Using Reusable Grocery Bags is a Multi-Step Process

1. Buy the bags.
2. Remember to bring them in the car with you.
3. Remember to bring them into the store with you.
4. Remember to give them to the baggers.

Step 1 is easy. I got hung up at step 2 multiple times. Today, I was determined to use them so I successfully put them in the car. When we got to the check out line, I realized I left them in the car so I ran out to get them. At the check out line as I was about to hand them to the baggers, the check out lady asked for my id and rations cards. I got distracted and the bags remained on my arm until Curt noticed almost at the end of the bagging.

Oh well, I am getting closer. We are going out in the car again later today, so I will put the bags back in the car for next time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Diaper Disaster

For the second morning in a row, Ian has taken his diaper off inside his pajamas and pooped. Luckily, Curt discovered it today and is cleaning it up. Yuck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Curt made ribs last night and Ian went crazy for them. We had to microwave some chicken because we ran out of ribs. We let him gnaw on the bone to hold him over until the microwave was done. Ian is not patient or laid back. I said that yesterday at Rachel's house and his head whipped around and he glared at me with one raised eyebrow. Yeah, kid, you just proved my point! His attitude expressions are like looking in a mirror for me!

Fly Boys Do the Dishes

Licensed to Drive and Big Bargains!

I took my driver's test this morning for my USFK driver's license. I went with Curt last week to do it and the plan was to trade off with Ian, I got to the test center and realized my US driver's license was at home so I could not take the test.

I arrived on post about 15 minutes early. I thought about going to get some coffee to kill time, but headed straight to the testing office instead so I could get in and out. The elevator doors opened and a PLATOON of soldiers in the waiting area for the testing office greeted me. I hate taking tests so I thought about bailing and coming back another day but decided to power through since our car is here and I'd like to start driving. They moved us through fairly quickly, but the Cherrios ran out before we made it to the testing room. Ian was bored and grouchy so I had to nurse him through the test. Worked out: he was quiet and I made 100% on the test.

Obtaining the license is a two-step process: take the test between 8:00-10:00am and watch the safety video and get an eye exam at 1:20pm. So, I had time on my hands. That is when I went to the gift shop and found the cool rocking motorcycle and elephant stool. I called Curt to come get the items and put them in the car because they were too big to lug around. He couldn't come for about a half an hour because he had a conference call, so again, to kill time, I went next door to the thrift shop and found a big bag of Duplo Legos (and some Mega blocks) for $5 and a big bag of wooden train tracks for $7. Some of the train tracks are Brio, some are IKEA and some I can't tell, but they all appear to be the same system. The lady at the checkout almost fainted and said,"Whoever priced these didn't know what they were looking at!"

I got Ian a wooden train to see if he likes trains. He does and so I was planning to buy some tracks, so it couldn't have come at a better time. We just bought Ian a starter set of Duplo Legos and he really likes them. He doesn't need more Legos right now because he isn't building anything complex, but as he gets a little older he will benefit from the extra blocks and for $5, I couldn't pass it up.

After loading up the car with my purchases, Curt went back to work to another meeting and Ian and I went to lunch. It is funny because I ran into two people I know at lunch and I don't know many people. When we finished eating we went to the playground until it was time to go back to watch the safety video. Ian was very fussy in the waiting room. He wanted water from the drinking fountain but didn't quite get the art of drinking from the fountain. I chugged my iced tea and filled the cup up with water which kept him occupied until we were called back to watch the video. As soon as I walked into the classroom, he fell asleep. Got the video watched. Did the eye test and headed out for the next mission.

On one of Ian's modeling jobs, I met a woman named Rachel who let me borrow a stroller until mine arrived. She had only known me for a few hours and not much direct conversation because of all the action on set and she lent me the stroller. It helped so much to have it while we waited for ours to arrive. I called her when our unaccompanied baggage with the stroller came, but she was in China at the time. She just got back and called me so we set it up for me to return the stroller today. Curt was off-post at another meeting by this point so I had to find his office and hike up very steep hills with the stroller. Luckily, there were people at the office and it was open. I ran in, grabbed the stroller and headed back down the hill to the PX where I took a cab to Rachel's house. We had a nice chat and she gave me a catalog that Ian is in (the modeling agent didn't have our phone number after we left the hotel) and we met Curt at the commissary. (Bonus, when I got home one of the Fly Lady missions was to return borrowed items).

Curt made braised short ribs and green beans for dinner. Feels like Friday today! It's refreshing to have a lot of little successes in a row after so many frustrating little setbacks.

He's a Cool Rider

There is a gift shop on post that has items from Asian countries other than Korea. I picked up this very cool wooden rocking motorcycle today. I also bought an elephant stool for Ian. There were some awesome desks and chairs for small kids as well, but I couldn't decide. Maybe I will go back on Saturday (they are only open twice a week) and look at the desks again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We are Home Owners!

We closed on the house in Georgia today. We are trying to arrange to have our stuff that has been in storage since before we went to Egypt delivered to this house before or when Curt goes to Georgia in May to get the house arranged. They give you two hours notice for delivery or it goes into temporary storage and then you have to schedule delivery. My sister is 2 hours away from the house so it will be cutting it close, but hopefully she will be able to meet the shipment.

Closer to Organized

Today, I worked on the master bedroom and closet to deal with all the clothes we got in the shipment. I was able to hang up or put away a lot of it. There are still a lot of Curt's clothes, mostly t-shirts and sweatshirts that we either need to buy hangers for and buy a dresser. I like to do a rough sort first and then a fine sort. Most professional organizers say to touch the item only once, but that stalls me and gets Curt distracted, so I do a rough sort and put "like with like". Then I focus in on each category and do the keep, toss, giveaway or repurpose categories. It is amazing how much stuff we have. Moving causes a lot of this, plus Curt's buy-in-bulk habit. We have so many clothes and nothing to wear. I got rid of a lot before the movers came and so did Curt, but there is still so much. I think another sort may be in order.

Additionally, I put all of the baby items that Ian has outgrown like clothes, the swing, pack and play, infant carseat, etc., in a storage area. I also put the Christmas ornaments in a closet and the linens in another closet. More sorting will be required, but I think I need to get everything rough sorted before we decide what furniture we need to buy. We are definitely going to need a bookshelf and desk. i am hoping we can go through the clothes enough so that we don't need to buy a dresser, but I am not sure that is possible.

We'll see. Just going to make another pizza for dinner tonight since nothing is defrosted. I'm looking forward to the arrival of my crockpot. I only used it a few times but I can see the possibilities...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ian Drinks Soy Milk!

Ian has refused cow's milk. I have tried to get him to drink soy milk and called it "soy" instead of milk. He has taken one sip before, but not drank in any quantity. I've noticed lately that if Curt does something before Ian, Ian will do it also. For some reason, it doesn't work nearly as well if I try that method. So, both yesterday and today, I had Curt drink soy milk out of Ian's cup and then Ian drank the soy milk! Still, not a large quantity, but at least an ounce both times. This is a big step. I think my mistake with cow's milk was calling it "milk". He knows what milk is and that is not what he expected. Still, soy is good for him so if he drinks it instead of cow's milk, that is fine with me. I am not in a hurry to wean (he sure isn't either), but I want to make gradual progress.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Do We Really Need a King-Sized Bed?

Yes, we do, but Ian the Bed Hog pushes me to the edge, even in an empty bed!

Fly Boys

It has been a few days of trying the Fly Lady system and everyone's getting into it. I think this is going to work for us.

Night View and Fireworks

Paris Baguette Goes Boom

One of the most popular franchise stores here in Seoul is called Paris Baguette. Using Paris Baguette as a landmark in Seoul is not a good idea. On the way to the metro, the is a Paris Baguette and right across the street there is a Tous Les Jours (just about the same thing). We thought it was odd that the two stores were so close together, especially since there was ANOTHER Paris Baguette a block from that. We bought bread from the Paris Baguette across from Tous Les Jours the other day because we were on the PB side of the street. Yesterday, they were tearing that same Paris Baguette out. Guess Tous Les Jours won!

You can see the Tous Les Jours sign on the opposite side of the street from Paris Baguette:

Bye, Bye Paris Baguette:

*Updated: Paris Baguette re-opened about a week later as Paris Baguette Cafe with a second story added for seating. I guess Seoul can't get enough!

Friday, April 11, 2008

International Battles with Blonde

You really never know what to expect when you get your hair done in a foreign country, especially one where most of the people have completely different hair like Egypt and Korea. My hair was blonde as a child and darkened to a dull shade of dishwater so I need to color. I usually get highlights and sometimes highlights and low-lights to break things up. It is always a struggle, even in the US to find the right person.

In Egypt, I went to two different ex-pats (Australian and German) and they used a cap to highlight. They put a cap on your head ad pull the hair through. It was o.k., but not great and neither did a blow-out. The blow-out is the best part. Then, I went to an Egyptian. the salon claimed to be "American-style". The owner told me she brings back the hair color (L'Oreal) in her suitcase when she visits her daughter in New York. The guy who did my hair took a lot of time. Color wasn't bad, but the cut was crazy. It didn't look like he was going to do much, then it looked really good and then he cut off a lot and it was crazy style. He spent a lot of time styling it and it was not something I could replicate.

In Pennsylvania, I found a stylist who did a great job the first time, but then she kept re-enforcing a cut I was trying to outgrow so the last few times I had my hair highlighted, I didn't cut it.

So, here in Seoul, my hair need to be cut badly and I needed highlights again. I got on the web and searched for suggestions. They were sparse but one of the suggested places had a website and claimed that the top stylists and the managers speak English and they are experienced with foreign hair.

I took Ian to daycare on Post at 9:00am and went to my 10:00am appointment by cab because I was afraid I would be late if I walked to the metro and then metro'ed. I stopped by the hotel on post to get the concierge to write the directions for the cab and caught a cab outside the hotel. I was early, so I went to one of MANY coffee shops and got a Sweet Potato Latte. Sweet potato and green tea flavor are everywhere. There was even sweet potato on the Papa Johns pizza that the modeling agent ordered during one of Ian's photo sessions. Anyway, sweet potato latte tastes like drinking liquid sweet potato. I couldn't drink the whole thing. I ordered small but, unlike most places, the small was big. Anyway, I took my sweet potato latte and went down to the salon. The entire staff was upstairs except the receptionist. The staff was getting an inspirational pep talk. They all cheered at the end and the stylists came down. The assistants all wore grey pinafores and stood at attention until needed. You always had more than one set of hands on you. Turns out, my stylist spoke about twice as much English as I speak Korean. Even if you include al the Korean food words I know, it isn't much. The manager's English was much better, but still not great. I had no idea what was going to happen but had a feeling it was going to be orange, yellow or white as opposed to blonde.

And, I got the orange. It isn't that bad, but they did my roots and not the rest of my hair so it doesn't blend all that well. The manager said,"Isn't it the perfect color?" I was speechless and then just said,"Well, the roots are warmer than expected." They said they would do something to fix it and then they proceeded to put foils everywhere but the roots. I don;t think anything changed but I said I liked it and left. I had to get back to Ian and I didn't want them to make things worse. The cut was very nice and she did the blow out and flatiron, so it looked decent, but not enough to take all that time to go there. Guess I will have to keep experimenting. There are at least two places on post I could try. I got Ian's hair cut at one of them. They did o.k. with his hair. They don't really speak English either, but at least they have lots of experience with foreign hair. So I guess I will try them next and hope to meet people with other recommendations. The price was more than Erie but less than DC.

I took the metro back to the base to get Ian. I picked him up at 2:30pm. Long day for him. Long day just to get my hair done. Not worth it, either. They said he cried for an hour and then he was fine. He ate A LOT and was the last to get up from the table. They had chili, rice, broccoli and oranges. He also took a one hour nap. He was having milk and cookies when I got there. I asked the guy if he drank any of the milk. I was hopeful, but no, he didn't drink the milk. I need to start working on that again. He is still breastmilk all the way. He won't even look at the cup if it has cow's milk. He looks the opposite way and pushes it away. The daycare provider said he did much better that they thought he would for his first day. They were impressed. I am so glad.

I am going to try the yoga on post and try getting him into the hourly care for the class. I think I will have to reserve weekly. they say you can reserve two weeks in advance but I don't know if the will let me use the same times over and over.

In other news, our car and other Erie shipment are supposedly in the country. The Cairo shipment is probably here, but they weren't tracking it. The Erie shipment will be delivered Monday. My oven is supposed to be fixed Monday as well. So I am expressing a little hope that things are starting to come together. Knock on wood.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Domestic Goddesshood, Here I Come!

I am going to try the Fly Lady System. She says some things that my mother has said and my mom gets a lot done. My mother also clams to be very disorganized and says that a schedule is what saves her. Some of the strategies:

1. Get dressed to the shoes (or slippers in my case since this is Korea and we leave our shoes in the foyer), including doing your hair and makeup, first thing in the morning. It helps you get in the mindset for getting things done. I believe this. I also don;t usually get fully dressed unless I am going somewhere. I also don't get much done. So, we'll try it her way for awhile.

2. Clean as you go. I am very guilty of leaving things out, especially in the bathroom.

3. Set the timer and focus on a task for a set amount of time. Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything for 10 minutes, focus on one thing for 10 minutes. My mother does this as well.

Well, I will start with those things as see how it goes.

Day 1: Shine Your Sink

The Story of Stuff

I just watched The Story of Stuff. I have been thinking a lot about "stuff" lately because I am waiting for my "stuff" to arrive in shipments from Erie, Egypt, several mail orders, my car from Baltimore and my stuff that is in storage in Texas that needs to be shipped to Georgia after we close on the house.

Since our stuff is split all over the world, we don't even remember what we have. In some cases we have duplicates or triplicates, in other cases we don't have anything, like livingroom furniture. It is hard to get a handle on spending and acquiring when you are traveling and moving, especially with Curt and I in separate countries for so much of the past few years. We have never worked from a budget. It is our goal, now that we are back living together and in the process of reassembling our stuff, to create a budget and stick to it and to be more conscious of our purchases.

Right now, "stuff" and "consumption" is comfort. It is something we can control, unlike the international bureaucracy we have to deal with trying to buy the house in Macon, GA, trying to get the goods in storage transferred to Macon, trying to in-process at Yongsan, trying to set up house, trying to navigate in a new country. It is so satisfying to go to Starbucks on post and get a Tall Caramel Macchiato or go to the PX or online and buy things for the house or go out to dinner in the neighborhood. Money solves some problems quickly, like paying for a cab because you are running late and don't really know where you are going by metro, yet and don't want to deal with the stroller on the metro. The apartment is huge with bare floors and lots of sliding glass doors and windows, the thought of cleaning it is overwhelming. Hiring a maid once a week seems like a better idea. More spending. I am getting my hair done tomorrow. My hair is a mess. I need to start wearing make-up regularly because I look tired. I need new clothes. I feel blah in my clothes, especially since Korean women are so fashion-conscious. Thinking about waxing and pedicure as well. More spending. We need a vacuum cleaner that works well on bare floors. Should I buy an expensive machine designed to last or whatever they have at the PX which will probably not do well on bare floors or last more than a year. Or, improve my skills with the broom, dust pan and mop.

I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom and Curt and I haven't been in one place long enough to establish a routine that involves cooking and cleaning. I balk at routine and feel that it is restricting and suffocating, but the truth is that you have a routine of bad habits and inefficiency naturally, even if you don't think you do.

I am going to two international women's group coffee mornings next week to get some information about living in Seoul. I need to get my driver's license next week and try the yoga on the base. Do more exploring and prioritizing. Slowly experiment with the schedule to get something workable, flexible and fun for Ian and I. Add in some sort of creative outlet for myself. Get a budget together. Maybe I will get myself ready for something like Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge. Not likely to happen soon, but it is all about progress. I think if I have a good schedule and a realistic budget, I will spend less and be more efficient. I still love stuff, but need to make better choices and waste less.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Don't Come Between a Man and His Oatmeal

Yesterday, I made the huge mistake of making one adult portion of oatmeal to share with Ian. He was furious and demanded more oatmeal. This morning, I gave him his own adult sized portion and he could hardly wait for it to be ready. What kid cries for plain oatmeal?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Different Kind of Modeling

Ian had a late nap yesterday and was not happy when he woke up. I had to hold him over my shoulder while I ate. When he finally got himself together, I gave him the doll I ordered that came in the mail yesterday. I said,"Are you ready to eat?"
He signed yes, picked up his baby and put him on his shoulder just as he had been on mine and walked over to his highchair and ate his dinner. Good thing the baby is machine washable as he was covered in avocado and rice by the end of dinner.

Dining Out is Better With Pictures

We went out to eat again, but this time we chose a place with pictures. Bibimbab is a rice dish served in a hot stone bowl with meat, various vegetables and usually an egg. Curt got the traditional version, I got the mushroom version (ned to keep this place in mind if vegetarians visit) and Ian got the kids version with cheese. I should have taken the photos before I mixed everything together, but...



Cherry Blossom Festival

We went across the river to Yeouido to find Cherry Blossom Park since the cherry blossoms are blooming. Living in DC has spoiled us. There was a sidewalk surrounded by trees on the both sides. Nothing compared to the cherry blossoms in DC. I am not sure if we were in the right place. There has to be more, right? There were banners that said Cherry Blossom Festival and people were taking pictures (but people take pictures a lot so that doesn't mean much).

Still, it was a nice walk and the blossoms were pretty.

Going Postal on the Mail Room

We just discovered that the mailroom did not have our names (even though they were submitted three times) and they sent back two large packages. They did not keep a record of where they were from so we don't know for sure which packages they were, but they were either the new king sized sheets and blanket for the new bed, the new towels or the new stroller.

I sent e-mails to the sheets and towels company as well as the stroller company saying if they got the packages returned to them to send them back to us. I am furious because I want the merchandise and have been waiting for it and also because I will have to pay postage three times to get these items. I told Curt that we need to turn the postage into the government and they need to pay because it was their error. I am really upset that they didn't take more time to figure out who the packages belonged to before sending them back. Large packages aren't like junk mail. It is probably going to take months to resolve this.

People are both clueless and careless and it is disgusting. I want to go track down this guy and have him say to my face why he didn't have the info that was submitted three times. Jerk. But if I do that, I will probably never get any packages or get them late. I feel powerless and angry.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


"Where's the ball?"

"She is here."

"This is dog."

Ian is speaking in short sentences, now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Do Koreans Eat Dog?

Everyone was asking me that before we came to Korea, especially when we were talking about our dog, Roxxy. I really didn't know and you feel badly about asking because maybe it is just a racist rumor/myth that has been spread around, but, yet, you want to ask because you don't want to eat Fido without knowing.

In the in-processing brief, they told us that yes, Koreans do eat dog. It is considered a delicacy and they use a special breed of dogs that are raised for the purpose of being eaten. They do not serve dog to foreigners. I suppose if you really wanted to try it and could communicate that you knew what it was, you could try it, but I am not interested.

I will try just about anything, but I won't eat dog or cat.

We Dined on Cow Intestines

We went out to eat tonight and randomly picked the place. We walked in and there was no picture menu so we just told them to bring us whatever the other people were having. Turns out, that was cow intestines.

The tables were round with gas burners in the middle. They cooked the cow intestines with onions and radish and then brought it to the burner on the table to finish cooking, It was served with several sides of spicy greens and sesame oil with salt and pepper. The intestine was chewy and had a nice fatty flavor. It wasn't bad, but I don't feel the need to have it again. We also had miso soup with greens and crustaceans and rice with seaweed and spicy greens mixed in. Ian had plain rice and yogurt milk. It was an adventure for sure.

Again, we really need to learn to read.

Seoul vs. Cairo

1. Seoul is cleaner than Cairo. Both cities are very congested, but in Seoul the trash is handled much better.

2. The average person in Seoul does not speak English. In Cairo, the average person on the street speaks some English. It is amazing that even little kids who are selling things on the street speak some English and a few other languages. In Korea, if they don;t feel they speak English well, they won't try. In Egypt, they milk every phrase they know. So it is definitely easier to communicate for the newcomer in Egypt Korea. You can earn a lot of money teaching English here, I am told. I really need to learn to read Korean and speak survival Korean fast!

3. No tips in Korea except on post or "rounding up". People who do know English will stop and help you when you look confused and they don't want money for it. In Egypt, people are always scamming for money and asking for bakshesh.

4. No livestock in the streets of Seoul. At least I haven't seen any yet. In Cairo it was very common to see camels, donkeys and goats on busy city streets.

5. In Seoul, there is a lot of technology at all levels of society. The repairmen that have come to fix things at our apartment have PDAs where they take pictures of the work and we sign after it is done. In Cairo, while many people have cell phones, they often work with very primitive or improvised tools.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Recycling in Korea

There is mandatory and extensive recycling in Korea. You have to separate plastic, paper, glass, polystyrene, food waste, fabric and more. Everything that is not recyclable goes in government trash bags. It is very elaborate.

Our building even has a bin for batteries and light bulbs.