Saint-Exupery once wrote, "Nothing is so precious as the time we waste with those we love." So true, so even while being in cyberspace I like to keep connected to those I love. The links below are an invitation to help you connect to these precious people too.
Here are a handful of funny sayings by the kids. We'll start with:
Bentley (March 9, 2008) when answering the phone: "Hello this is Jay speaking(!)...Mommy; is this Mommy?"
Bentley (May 15, 2009) On Saturday morning Bentley has finished watching a movie (like Disney's "Bolt," and he is getting hungry for breakfast. Beth is reading devotions with a coffee on the couch and Bentley comes into the bedroom: "Papa; we're not going anywhere; can you make waffles?"
Moving from Toledo, Washington was not easy. We settled into Toledo and made some wonderful friends. We built and enjoyed our home; we raised sheep, Tsehi, cats, and more animals. Toledo was a wonderful time that we fondly remember ... and miss! Read below or go to the actual blog at: http://www.fivereimers.blogspot.com/
Life is made of busyness, joy and sadness. We are always in the midst of one or the other or some combination of the three.
We have been in Korea for six months now. During that time one of the initial stages of emotion is excitement to live in a new place, learn a new language, see new things, meet new people, learn new ways of doing things. [Last post was a rave abut the new school, titled, "What is so great abut GSIS?] But that fades as you deal with the chores of life: working, shopping, cleaning up.
Next you begin to feel the loss. Life is hard in a new place. Ingredients for your favorite food are not all available at the grocery store. The grocery store smell strongly of fish - which you can tolerate but do not enjoy. TV is mostly in Korean (of course). The language is interesting but you can only speak a few words and cannot talk in conversation. Ordering in restaurants is tedious and sometimes unsuccessful. People are kind but you question whether you can really be a friend with someone from a different culture because you think differently and have different values.
borrowed from a letter to my favorite science teacher - Chuck Caley, in Toledo
1. Living in Korea obviously new food, incredibly hard working and motivated people who go out of their way to help.
2. Vision oriented leadership You have to hear our headmaster talk about his vision for kids and for character building and academics. WOW! Here the leaders LEAD and the caliber of teacher is remarkable. I was "called on the carpet" by my vice principal (in a nice way) last week and walked out of his office with a clearer vision of the difference between formative and summative assessment as well as a desire to do better and be better. That's the kind of boss everybody needs!
3. Gifted kids This one is a double edged sword. Since it is a private expensive school, obviously they are the cream of the economic crop and that means you have few "poor" kids (if they're here they're here on scholarships) so the opportunity to "help the needy" is less... Well it seems less on the surface until you get to know the kids and then you realize all kids are similar with similar needs regardless their parents income level! Anyway, with parents who are CEOs, PhDs in physics or medical doctors, heads of comapnies, etc., these kids have good brains and use them (for the most part! :)
Here's what we did last weekend.
We where invited to go on a staff school retreat so of course we would never refuse to have fun so we said we yes.Well guess what happened --Bentely got sick.So mom, being the kind mother she is, said she would stay with Bentely and we could go to the retreat. So Dad, Kylie and I went on the retreat. It was a 2 hour bus trip but eventually we made it. The hotel we got to stay at was amzing! It had crystal chandeliers in the lobby. There was a ball room and a dinning hall. It was so fancy.
There wear nine floors.But one weird thing is there is never a fourth floor in hotels because the word four sounds exaclty like the word for "death."
Well back to the trip.The meals at the retreat were so good there were two big tables full of food.
Our room had three beds,one tv,one frig, and one bath room.In the entry way their is a slot that you put your room card into to turn on the lights. It turns on and off all the lights in the apartment.More than once Kylie took the card out when I was in the shower. It was so maddening.
Well I think that Korea is getting to feel like home. I still miss the wide open spaces of Washington though. The people around here are getting to know us but it's a weird feeling not having people trust you! like it's totally understandable, cuz well we don't know each other. But I've never really had to make that trust from stage one. I just kinda took it for granted I guess. Cuz we always trust each other. But that's just some thing we need to work on.
School is heavy! There's always lots of home work! But the first report came through the other day, and I did OK so I suppose I'll be fine. I got mostly B- and B+, but I did get like one C+. How ever I got straight A+ in Algebra which is really awesome. I'm very pleased seeing as I knew nothing about algebra whatsoever! So yeah school is going OK. I'm really looking forward to going to the middle school lock-in this week end it's going to be a blast! Oh and Mr. Pash, the band teacher is going to teach me to play the bass. Well I hope so! He needs it in the orchestra so I have been requested to play. I'm really excited!
When I watched my sheep push their fuzzy heads through the range fence to reach the greener grass I focused on their foolish penchant for looking "elsewhere" toward what seems better place. This lesson, definitely, I could apply to my life.
But time changes a number of things, such as
• the commodities I regard being valuable;
• the depth and quantity of relationships;
• my geographic location;
• the interests and preoccupations that swirl in my brain;
-and the meaning of important events like sheep poking their heads through my fence.
Fences not only separate areas and define the boundaries of activities. Fences are physical landmarks that give us points of reference for our activities. In fact, fences are perhaps an inferior analogy to trees and buildings: practical objects that possess unique observable features which we use to orient ourselves when determining direction.
During the routine activities of each day, I rarely think about how the requirements of those activities and the compulsory time they occupy give me a framework for my time, for my personal goals and for my sense of being. Now that my "frameworks" are being removed, I have a poignant sense of craving reference points. Simple events like what time do I need to wake up on Saturday? Do I have construction assignments on the house to complete, like wiring the hallway light fixtures? Is there some overdue maintenance like cleaning leaves from the gutters? No; none of that is necessary so...with nothing that needs doing, what do I want to do? I; uhm, am not sure what I want to do, being out of practice in considering that question.
Dad did not mind my hot, sweaty hug this morning. Mom said, "Goodbye, 117 Lone Yew Road," as she hugged Bentley in her arms before setting him down to climb into the car and zoom away to join the lemmings headed north on interstate 5. We pensively stood on the porch, with the smell of Japanese exhaust in the air and the humidity of imminent rain, wondering about the future as the buzzing motor faded away.
The impact of Donna's reflective comment made me think the significance of events that daily swirl around us are often beyond our perception, no matter how much we strain to see them, until a salient comment or epiphany sucks out our breath.
Of course I know I am leaving my home; of course I know that means "goodbye," but it somehow has more significance when one of your parents says "goodbye."
And when your son asks a few minutes later, "Papa: Nana? Papa: Grampa?" and I tell him they are going to Canada. Which he absorbs as best he can. He just learned, "home" and he cannot possibly understand there are other degrees of home, like grandparents' home, our coming new home, even former homes in Canada and Ethiopia. Bentley's quiet query emphasizes our responsibility to make him always feel at home. The parents' role to protect their children, even when you can't, made sentimentally sad by its hopelessness.
A blank wall suggests many things: opportunity, decorative potential, empty location. A blank wall also infers questions about your identity. Watch.
We had a busy day on Monday. Since it was Memorial Day we went for our annual 5 km race in Elma, Washington, but instead of running it myself, since I was unprepared, I watched Skyler Sorsby, my racing buddy, collect first place with a 22:00 time. Once the race was run we headed home to collect the children, because... The previous Friday we learned, from a phone call Beth made, that,after 12 weeks in process, Amy and Bentley's passport applications are "suspended." Thanks to a phone call, due to God's taking care of us, we got a Seattle appointment for this coming Wednesday to "petition" the issues. All this means that after the race, we went home and had to gather the kids to go to Centralia so that Amy and Bentley could get NEW passport photos. I guess when they suspend a passport application, the pictures are also suspended? Who makes this stuff up? In addition we all need more passport photos for our Korean visas.
Saturday afternoon, in the misting drizzle, a red Nissan pickup pulled in and out jumped a guy a bit older than me with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. and he wanted to look at my old beater truck. After some miscellaneous conversation (in which I learned some interesting things, such as his dad was born in the hospital in Toledo back in nineteen-twenty-something before it burned down) he told me he heard about the truck from a neighbor of mine. I asked him for $500.00 but in a short time I had sold it and made 25% profit (cost of $100.00 and $100.00 in taxes and licensing and I sent it on for $250.00.) Not going to make a living that way but it was one more small task completed and one less component in my life that needed attention now. Wow... little by little things are getting done.
I need to be cognizant along the way of the "goodbyes" though. Reflecting on that, it was the 5th truck I have owned here and all them were a bit of an adventure. In glorious order:
(1) The "mouse hotel" I got from Joe Martin which smoked so much while driving that we carried a fire extinguisher when we had to drive farther than 10 miles
[Kylie] Well from our point of view ("our point" being us kid's point ) this whole moving thing is slightly insane! If you really think about it we are leaving all we have known for the past 9 years to start a new life in a place that none of our family has ever been! Yes we all are definitely crazy! But not altogether unexcited or truly worried.? I fact I am starting to truly ummmm.... warm up to the idea! My parents have traveled the word and now us kids get that chance! Now if one that is not exciting well I'm not sure I now what is! It's a once in a life time chance and we are taking it one step at a time!
Relocation inevitably encompasses loss. Different members of my family are giving up different things to make "Korea" an opportunity for me and all of us:
Bentley is giving up stability to move to his third continent and third language in three years [please pray for him in both regards!];
Beth is giving up freindships, living space, gardening, Tsehi (her dog), flowers, and independence (we won't have a car in Korea);
Kylie and Amy are both giving up developing relationships with some great kids, birthday parties with, a big yard, canoeing on the river, homeschooling, and camping in summer.
To help mitigate the negative affect of these losses we are trying to sensitively manage them. One of Beth's good ideas to reduce the affect of missing birthday's with their friends was for the girls to take a couple friends to Seattle for a weekend. We took our kids and two friends to Seattle in April and stayed in a hotel with a pool (hear the splashing?), went to the Space Needle, spent a morning touring IKEA, and all the girls got their hair braided by an Ethiopian lady met through a kind restaurant owner (Marta of the Salaam Restaurant in Seattle on Cherry Street near Seattle University.)
In the past few weeks we have gotten over several hurdles involved in moving a family to another country. The time line bringing us to the present is roughly:
Hurdle #1 After the most intense weekend of my life, at a job fair for international school which was held in Iowa, in February, I got a new job teaching at an international school in Korea this next year.
Hurdle #2 We decided to sell the house we bought and enlarged because, our time in Korea is indefinitely defined and renting it out from that distance brought logistical problems we did not appreciate. God provided a buyer-and not just any buyer: we will be selling it to some friends of ours that we think very highly of: Jaime and Steve Ethridge-and their 6 great kids!
Hurdle #3 Sorting, choosing, packing, giving, selling and discarding. After the laborious exercise of separating and sorting stuff (perhaps correctly called junk) we made:
pile (a) to go to Korea (with suppiles for each person);
pile (b) to be stored in Canada at Jay's parents' home (because we cannot bear the thought of living without "someday" seeing or holding these objects and images again);
[Thanks Kylie for letting me use this picture that fits the title! :)]
I have been experiencing disorientation. The past couple days I sit at my desk during my preparation period (no students) and I experience disorientation. I am not "into" teaching here, now because I too am about to move on. So I poke around on the internet looking for deals on computer hard drives or shop for tents for camping or grade few papers and cast around with a sense of restlessness. In my mind I even have thoughts of, "Maybe I should go to school to be an engine mechanic..." or "How will I be happy in Korea when it is Africa/Ehtiopia that calls out my passions" and it is sort of free time for a wandering mind. For 5 months I cannot get out of bed earlier than 7:00 (the last possible minute to get to school on time) because, "I can get by today without extra work" feeling or "what difference does it really make?"
I think, looking ahead to moving, coupled with multiple detachment events that are the normal precursor, like garage sales, selling the house, taking the sheep to a neighboring farm, naturally take away some of the aspects of my life that, even unintentionally perhaps, give me a context for my thinking and my activities. Being stripped of the context for "me" for who I am, means that my thoughts and actions have no boundaries to reflect off of and my thoughts, as I send them out, fail to find a reflective surface and continue on into infinite space without reflecting to my mind, without telling me, as it were: who I am, what I am responsible to do, who I am responsible for, what actions are good and not good, what activities I should engage in.
On January 19, 2008, Beth gave a baking lesson to our neighbor's daughter, Da-Hyun. Da-Hyun and one of her classmates came to our house and Beth taught them to bake a chocolate cake from scratch. Korean people do not eat very many baked goods so this was a new experience for the kids. The two little girls who made the cake decided on the frosting color of pink and the strawberries as an additional decoration.
Afterward, Da-Hyun's mom and dad, along with two families they are friends with, all took us out to a traditional Korean restaurant where we ate a wonderful barbecue. One of the very neat things about Korean meals, aside from the South Beach style vegetable and meat courses, is that each meal includes numerous side dished and condiments which add a lot of variety and tastiness to eating.
Some wonderful friends (neighbors in our apartment building) took us ice skating in Seoul last weekend (2008.02.01) We left home about 7:00 pm and they drove us to the outdoor rink near city hall in downtown Seoul.
It cost a dollar to rent skates and skate for an hour. Then you had to sit out for 30 minutes while the Zamboni - yep, a real Zamboni - cleared the ice. Kylie and Amy had fun and even Bentley begged to skate. Kylie and I took him for a couple rounds and he just begged more ice time.
February 4, 2008, the Monday at the beginning of lunar new year holiday, the president of our PTA (parent teacher association) took as many staff and their families as wanted to go to a beautiful skiing resort on the east side of the Korean penninsula called Yongpyong.
This was Kylie's and Amy's first time snowboarding and they took to it like ducks to water. In the morning the girls took lessons and after lunch they were free so board on the slopes.
See photos below (not many photos because it was more fun to board than take pictures!) Click on the photo to see a larger version.