Saturday, May 24, 2014

An exhausting and crazy weekend!

Good morning!  To most of my readers anyway.  I hope you are all doing well!  I am in my favorite spot.... yes you guessed it on my balcony with the windows open listening to the busy traffic of the city below.  Tonight though I have a whole different view.  I am looking the I'Park mall straight on, seeing a much broader view of the city and high rises and on a clear day/evening I can see the 63 building, which glows when the sun goes down.  It's really weird how a shift in view can change the way life feels in general. I knew by looking out the window before that I was living in a city but now I can see the bridge traffic of two bridges, a school playground, a passenger train and so many more high rises that it really feels like the city now.  I feel like I am surrounded in it so much more than I was before moving to this apartment.  It is exciting. 

As most of you know, and if you couldn't tell from the above, the family moved this weekend.  We we were living on the 10th floor but we have moved down to the 9th.  My elevator friend, yes I have an elevator friend, laughed at me when I told her we were moving to the 9th floor.  She couldn't believe we were moving down.  "Most people move up, " She said while shaking her head in disbelief.  And it is true.  If your going to move in a high rise you certainly don't move down, well unless your crazy Americans like us!

The move went relatively smooth except for a few hiccups but what move doesn't have though.  However ours was a little weird.  Friday Collin had a group of guys lined up to come over and help him move and only 1 work related friend showed up and that was Tom!  Being his best friend however counts as a friend and not a work relation so forget I even said that.  There was another soldier who came but Collin knows him as a friend and doesn't work anywhere with him.  The last person who showed was his son Mike!  Anyway a friend on mine headed off to a 31 party that another friend was hosting so the boys started the heavy lifting.  All was going pretty well I guessed because I never got a phone call and a text.  It was when I was sitting on the floor filling out my order form and my daughter becoming very cranky and tired that I heard my friend on the phone with her husband.  When she hung up I heard her say, "Call your husband!"  I looked at my phone and sure enough I missed 2 calls at this point!  I called him back and he began to tell me that Security went up to the apartment and walked him down to the main office.  Apparently because we were moving and using the elevator we needed to pay 100,000Won, after much discussion about how we were only using the elevator for the major things and using the stairs as much as we could because we were only 1 floor down they lowered it to 50,000Won.  Ummm a little strange if you ask me.  I guess people were getting pretty annoyed that we were using up the elevator so much for our move and they had important things to do.  Oh well.  This incident was really the biggest one we had so far all weekend. 
Today was a pretty awesome day as well.  Everyone helped out with Audrey a TON and we got a lot done.  Both bathrooms, Audrey's play room, most of her bedroom (prior to her wanting to go to bed) and most of the office/workout room.  Tomorrow I look forward to finishing both of those rooms, getting my closet and vanity set up along with starting our bedroom.  I say starting because looking at it tonight I have to cringe and hope that we can have it done before Collin goes back to work on Tuesday!  For those of you NOT on Facebook, please enjoy the following!

 The Play room (now has ABC and 123 Mats!

 Guest/Audrey's bathroom

 I might not be able to have my jetted tub but I will take a spa like shower!
 We have a pantry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It makes up for not having a single drawer in the kitchen!
 A huge laundry room for a Korean apartment!
And our DVD's have a new home.... the first time since we started living here like 8 months ago (15 months for Collin).

Tonight is just the kind of night I love after a long day.  Audrey is already in bed, I am in my favorite spot and Collin and Tom are out in the living room playing Football on the PS3.  What a fun weekend!
Happy Memorial Day family and friends and remember this weekend isn't just about the cookouts and long weekends.... its about those who have died fighting for Americans freedom!  Thank you to all who have served and continue to serve.  And thank you to all the Spouses and families who put up with it and love it ;)

Monday, May 19, 2014

America VS South Korea!

Tonight I would like to point out a few of the many differences between the USA and the Republic of Korea!

So with living in South Korea, specifically Seoul, I have learned that things are done differently then back in the states and the people are way different.  The most obvious is the living arrangements.  Back in the states the majority of homes are houses here they are apartments then there are the difference with what is in the home or going on in the home.  I have come to learn that the land of tiny people don't believe in carpeting, you do not walk into a home with your shoes on, and you don't have a washer and a dryer.  In fact you have an all in one!  A friend of mine has this machine that washes your clothes and then dries them.  Pretty fancy right?   WRONG!  This method for 1 load will take you 4-6 hours.  Could you imagine waiting that long to do laundry?  The next time I want to complain about the dryer taking so long I will remember how it could be worse.  We are lucky enough to not have an apartment that came with this contraption and so we needed to borrow one from military housing!  We have a washer and dryer.  Very nice but very little room for both machines. 
Another is transportation.  Many people drive in this city but traffic laws don't really mean anything here, if your not making an illegal U turn, running a red light, blocking an ambulance, riding your motorcycle on the sidewalk (if you are a motorcycle owner), cutting someone off for NO REASON except you want to be a car link or two ahead, or going on the yellow/red light and having to stop in the middle of the intersection and blocking the oncoming traffic than you don't need to be driving in South Korea.  You need to just take public transportation, because if you are a careful driver and believe in letting people get in front of you because they need to get in the other lane, stopping on yellow lights or obey any other traffic law you will probably get in an accident your first week here.  Yes transportation if driving, is a dangerous adventure here.  However, I have learned to love the idea of public transportation, however again if you are nice and don't look out for yourself you will get ran over or left not making it on the subway.  We have waited for an elevator before with the stroller and somehow 2 elevator trips later we still were not on the elevator.  WHY?  Because we were not looking out for us and everyone push their way past the stroller and into the elevator until there was no room left. 

With all this rule breaking and rudeness I have found 2 things lately that surprised me.  So this past weekend we went to a baseball game. There was 4 of us and 1 of us had a last minute ticket and was not sitting in the same row.  So our friend Tommi took that ticket and bounced around in seats until he was moved out of every single one of those seats.  No problem, he was just hanging out as long as possible and figured he would lose out in the end and have to sit in his assigned seat.  Well at one point I came back from the restroom and found him sitting in an empty row of 4 seats.  Instead of asking everyone to move I just sat down beside him.  This was 1 row below my seat so I figured worst case scenario I would  just hop the seat to get back to mine.  In America you see people who stand on a seat and move back to their row to avoid having to ask for the whole row to get up just so the traveling person could get to their seat.  Well wouldn't you know the correct seat owner had shown up (in the 4th or 5th inning) so I hopped on the seat and jumped back to mine.  BIG MISTAKE!  I not only got chewed out in Korean but there was a big scene of this girl needing to get a wipe/towel of some type to wipe her seat off and I am not talking brushing off whatever I left on the seat I am talking cleaning the seat!  WE ARE AT A BASEBALL GAME!  Then there are slits in the back of the seats.  Why they would do this in seats that are in a stadium I don't know but there are these slits and if you place your foot in the slit you will kick the person sitting in that seat.  Well Tom or Collin happened to place their foot in the slit of the mother of the paranoid seat wiper and she along with her husband made sure to turn around with dirty looks and to let (they figured it was Tom) Tom know they didn't appreciate him kicker her. AGAIN WE ARE AT A BASEBALL GAME!  Things happen no one was trying to kick anyone.  It would have been the same as bumping into someone by accident on the sidewalk.  Tom and Collin apologized in Korean, and in America this would have been returned with an it's ok, or a nod/smile of acknowledgement, they however just received the dirty looks. The second big thing I learned was that you do NOT leave ANY trash in your seating area at the end of the game.  You will pick up everything around your seat even if it blew in your area.  No empty cups, nacho trays, wrappers or straws better be laying around your area when you exit.  We had two young girls quickly correct us on the mistake of not having ALL of our trash.  Although it is amazing how much cleaner the sidewalks and streets are from having this kind of obedience. 

Lastly I would like to touch on mourning.  Now for anyone who may read this in the South Korea area I am not being disrespectful in anyway I am simply acknowledging the differences between America and here.  As many of you know there was a ferry disaster here about a month ago.  I am sure many of my American friends and family saw this and had deep sorrow for the families but in all honesty didn't think much more about it.  Just like the mudslides that happened around the same time in Washington.  Deep sorrow I am sure was felt but if you were not related or knew anyone in that accident you did not feel the need to mourn those loses other than feeling sad.  I am sure some of you sent up prayers for the families, some of you sent positive vibes towards those families, some said "prayers for the families" but never really prayed.  I get it, it is how Western society works.  Now, let's look at an American disaster.  Colorado (along with other States) have suffered some major natural disasters with all the fires. Many families mourned the losses of homes and and some the loss of a loved one.  People all around Colorado watched for days to see if their home would be in danger.  To see the destruction the fires were causing.  However it did not stop America, it didn't even stop Colorado from moving forward, many of the families said that they just want to move on to start over and to deal with the pain they way they have to.  Colorado everywhere lowered the flags, we stood together in helping families, supplying the fire fighters with what they needed, but we still celebrated we still moved on.  I am not saying it wasn't a big deal just that America keeps moving on.  Well here in South Korea they stop EVERY form of celebrating.  They shut down the water show that shoots out from the bridge, they take away DJ's at a US military ball, they stop cheerleaders, all music and the mascots at baseball games, in fact I believe I heard that the whole Country will stay in mourning for 2 months after the ferry indecent.  At first I thought it was pretty amazing how the Country as a whole mourned for the loss.  It was tragic and it still effects all of us that lives here.  I still get sick to my stomach every time I hear the news talk about it, but here they believe that if some are suffering everybody should suffer.  It is so much different from America.  It amazing to me the length they go to, to remind people of the suffering.  I mean they shut off a water show that takes place for a half hour at night because it shows signs of happiness and celebration.  I know this can be a very controversial topic that I just spoke of but I must say when it comes to tragedies I am so proud to be an American and the way we deal with them.

These are just a few of many differences living here but they are some of the biggest I have found.  With all that being said, If you ever have a chance to visit here, it is pretty stinking awesome and a great life experience!  With the hubby taking some leave time and the 4 day weekend I am definitely looking forward to our 6 day family vacation even if most of those days are working hard on the move :)  I CANNOT WAIT TO SHOW YOU ALL PICTURES OF OUR NEW APARTMENT!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So much to tell

So I really wanted to get this post out last week, obviously that did not happen.  However,  now I am back in my zone!  My mothers day gift, for those who haven't seen, was patio furniture.  No I don't have a patio but I have a closed in balcony and I love coming out here to do my work or just to relax.  There is nothing like the window open on a spring/fall early morning or night and hearing the city traffic and the city life either wake up or slow down.  I love it and though I miss the simpleness of living in a town where I can drive anywhere and everywhere I am totally going to miss this when I leave.  I love it and it makes me calm myself on bad days and makes me a happy person! Plus now when I get back to the states I have a patio furniture that seats 2! 

 Daddy's little helper!

So last Friday we had our Culture night dinner!  It was free and fun!  It started out that they had my husband down as PFC Shorey (he is not a Private First Class) and they did not have me on the list.  So that was a little annoying but they got us seated and we ended up sitting with some young enlisted members and so Collin was in  his element.  He felt like he was able to mentor a little bit with every question they asked him.  There wasn't all the toasts associated with the military balls so that was nice!  The entertainment was pretty good too.  We had a performance by a University and they did some traditional Korean routines to traditional Korean music.  During dinner they also had a couple Oprah like singers which were pretty amazing a man and a woman and they traded off every other song.  The food was fantastic, and again free and really who doesn't like free!  It was so good that I ate shrimp!  I don't eat shrimp, anyone who knows me knows I don't eat anything that used to live in the water.  I thought it was orange glaze chicken but it wasn't... I won't be eating shrimp anytime soon but truth be told it wasn't half bad.  They had amazing prizes as well that consisted of, bikes, i pads, and CARS!  Yes they even gave away 2 cars, and no we didn't win.  All in all it was a fantastic night and did I mention it was free!  Korea's know how to do it right!  They are fantastic hosts!

This week has been fun.  We went to the Children's zoo and that is free (can you tell I love free!)  The zoo was not that great but for free it was super!  The elephant and the polar bear both seemed to have something wrong with them (a messed up ear and a crooked nose) but we are thinking there is a reason those they were at the free zoo.  They also have an amusement park there, a small one but I was still excited.  However as walking towards the entrance we found it closed which made me sad, but they had a few playgrounds and it was a fun day.  We had some friends join us and things are always better with friends.
 A toy that she still can't figure out how to walk with

 Watching the seals
A water show

Another thing that Koreans do well is celebrating holidays!  When I came here September of 2013 they were celebrating Chusok, basically Thanksgiving.  Well they got 3 full days off of work.  I am talking restaurants shut down, stores closed down, heck I couldn't even activate my cell phone until Monday!  We got here on a Tuesday night and I got my phone on Wednesday!  Well this past week was Children's Day, Buddha's Birthday, and Parents day and so when most people went home last Friday from work they didn't return until Wednesday or Thursday.  A friend wanted to take me and another friend to a Korean restaurant on Monday, Children's day but they were all shut down!  We ended up with pizza. CHILDREN'S DAY!  THEY GET THE DAY OFF FOR CHILDREN'S DAY! 
However in light of Buddha's birthday we did go to the Lateran festival!   As always it was absolutely amazing and I always find it interesting when I get a peak at another religion or get to learn a bit about it.  I got to get a good peak inside the Buddhist temple and found it fascinating.  So many questions pop in my head, I even saw many participants of the Buddhist faith bring a monk many gifts.  To see these followers bow and become so humble standing in front of this man and give him bags of treasures made me wonder, what could possibly be in those bags?!  I mean really what gift could you possible wrap up to give to someone so mighty that you must bow to him? 

 This guy actually created the Korean language
A temple lantern

 Inside the temple
 The monk carrying out some of his gifts

Let's see what else has taken place..... oh yes!  Many of you know we got our list for new duty stations.  Well it was a horrible list and we are not looking forward to anywhere the military wants to send us next however....... I WILL MAKE THE MOST OUT OF WHEREVER THEY SEND US!  That being said, and yes my parents and immediate family are aware, we very well could be staying in Korea until early 2016.  We have not gotten orders yet and we have not been directly told yet but that is now a very real possibility.  Prior to finding this out I have been wanting a bigger apartment.  I have been wanting a bigger apartment especially now that I have met people and everyone seems to have bigger and better.  Collin got this apartment before we moved here and so many people say they were trying to get into our specific apartments.  Yes we are in an amazing location but we have some things lacking for us.  First off we have have a pretty small 3 bedroom apartment.  Just not enough room for stuff.  I do think that it is because I moved from such a big house.  However, I have been to at least 4 other apartments and all of them are bigger or newer.  My second issue is play area's for Audrey.  It seems like everyone else has a lot more and a lot better playgrounds and inside play rooms in and around their complex.  In fact a buddy of our who just moved here got a 4 bedroom in a gated community and very new and nice.  The down fall is that his location is not as great as ours and his dryer is in his kitchen. I believe that when looking out his living room window I see a splash pad for kids 10 floors down.  Ummmm Audrey needs that!!!!  Needless to say Collin heard about how great his apartment was compared to ours the majority of the time.  Although on the way home to our apartment I admitted that where we live is just fine and the location is great.  I told him that I realize the grass is always greener on the other side and no matter where I lived somewhere else would always have something more.  So for fun Collin asked our realtor if they had anything bigger but in the same area.  In less than 24 hours we were looking at a bigger nicer apartment.  Best part about it, is that it is in the same exact building and one floor below us!  So I get all the wonderful amenities that I already have, close to base, close to the subway, several convenient stores right outside the apartment doors if we ever need something in a hurry, a taxi stand just around the corner, and plenty of coffee shops connect to the building.  Oh yeah and that huge burger I took a picture of that lasted me 2 meals..... just a crossed the street hahaha!  I get to keep all that and get a bigger nicer apartment by the end of May! The only thing that makes me sad is the play area's for Audrey.  That is what friends are for right?  Our buddy who lives in the really nice apartment but not so great location.... I think he will get plenty of company this summer :)
The insanely huge burger!

Well I appreciate you stopping by today!  I must get my butt to bed now as I have church in the morning.  For any of you who are my wonderful Scentsy customers I am sorry for not getting this months items out.  I usually have it out already but this month has been busy!
I hope everyone has a great weekend and a very HAPPY MOTHERS DAY if you are indeed a mom!