Is it Bedtime yet?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hallo Out There

It's autumn in Korea, and the weather has been great. The humidity is long gone, the mosquitos finally made their exit, and the leaves have turned beautiful colors.

October was a really long month for Josh with a big project for work, but things have settled back down to life as normal. Whatever "normal" might be for a family that rarely stays put long enough to see the same season twice in any location.

Today, while I was working as the recess monitor (this was just after I finished up being the cafeteria lady), the kids and I went out for a walk around our apartment complex. We are fortunate to have some hiking trails situated just behind us, and I brought a camera along to try to get some pictures with the fall colors before the leaves are all on the ground.

Those two goofballs sure are getting old, aren't they?

We headed up the "mountain" on the trail.

They are really hoping that it will snow a lot this winter, and are keeping their eyes open for good sledding spots.

Huge leaves! And oh my, does Derek need a haircut, or what? Josh has relieved me permanently from hair-cutting duty. He thinks Derek's old enough to be scarred by mom playing barber.

Want to know what you can find at the top of hiking trails in Korea?

What the kids fondly refer to as "old people exercise equipment".
No wonder Koreans are all so slender-- they made their old folks hike uphill only to be forced to work out when they get to the top.

This picture perfectly captures my son:

He fancies himself a comedian. He often does make us laugh, although he still thinks that if a joke is funny the first time, then it will be funny the next three times as well.
He is silly, and sweet, and snuggly, and I'll keep him.
Although I'm unsure of why he's flashing gang signs. Maybe it's K-Pop influence.

There are several monuments scattered around. If anyone wants to translate that for me, go right ahead.

Made it back down and stopped at one of the parks in the 'hood.

And then we had to head home so I could clock back in as the schoolmarm.

We finished the first quarter of school, and no one has been harmed irreparably. The kids each have a friend or two, so while the social calendar is not bursting at the seams, they aren't terribly lonely either. Derek is wrapping up soccer season, and we've got the kids registered for basketball and cheerleading that will start up after the holidays.

Derek on his way to score an actual, real-life goal.

Oh, I almost forgot-- we bought a new-to-us car! Now when Josh is at work we have wheels as well. I'll have to take a picture of our new ride-- she's pretty spiffy. I mean, not Corolla-sport level spiffy, but for a car that cost $600 to purchase and $3 a month to insure, you have to keep your expectations reasonable. And by expectations, we mean: 1) That she lasts until July  2) Um. I guess I covered everything with point 1.

Anyway, Josh drives El Relámpago Gris (That's Gray Lightening for those needing a translation), and the kids and I ride in luxury in the "nice" car.
You know, the one Josh and I bought right after we got married. In 2001. She's never given us a day of trouble, and she's moved from Texas to North Carolina to Idaho back to North Carolina to California to Spain to Alabama and to Korea. She's a well-traveled friend.

If you had told me, back when we were 2nd Lieutenants making the most frugal car choice we could think of, that we would be 3 weeks from Josh pinning on Lieutenant Colonel, and not only would we still be driving the sporty Carolla, but that it would be the nicest vehicle we owned, I might not have believed you.

Life, you are funny.

But joking aside, we will be accepting recommendations for what our next family car purchase should be upon our (presumable) return to These United States of America. Maybe we should upgrade to a Camry? ;)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Trip Pics

Well then. I finally got around to uploading the photos from our trip that now seems quite a long time ago.

We started our vacation off in Seoul. There is a bus that runs from Osan Air Base to the Army base in Seoul. Traveling by bus is the best choice, as there are special bus lanes that bypass the always-terrible traffic that surrounds Seoul. It took about an hour and 15 minutes.

We visited the Korean War Memorial. It was a well done museum, but very large.

We ate a lot of meals in the Itaewon district of Seoul. It was walking distance from where we stayed, and has many international choices for dining. We don't particularly love Korean food, so it was nice to have options. 

We got around Seoul by using the metro system. It's a nice system and inexpensive. My kids have now navigated the subway systems of Washington DC, Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, London, and Seoul. I sometimes wonder if their nomadic young lives will give them the travel bug as adults.

Josh's favorite part of sightseeing in Seoul was hiking the fortress wall that surrounds the city. We walked along the northern part that comes close to the Blue House-- the presidential house. There was a lot of security along the way, and eventually we got to a checkpoint where a security guard confiscated my camera and erased several photos that I had taken. Oops.

I cannot adequately express how many stairs we climbed and how painful it was. My calf muscles were twitching.

A few days later, we took the metro to the airport and boarded a flight to Jeju Island, off the southern tip of South Korea. It was gorgeous!

We saw lots of waterfalls.

Beautiful cliffs and sunsets

We found a Korean restaurant that everyone enjoyed, and ate there twice.

Look at that color!

I apparently loaded the photos out of order-- this is a Japanese restaurant in Seoul. Alex tried the octopus legs and like them!

Back to Jeju. We appreciated the small amount of English on the sign. Josh was having chest pains just from thinking about swimming.

A Buddhist temple, and an impromptu lesson on world religions.

They had a special machine to fill these cones all the way through with ice cream.

The beach is the native habitat of the Schore family. It is our happy place.

We enjoyed visiting tiny Udo Island, which you get to by ferry.

This beach was our favorite spot of the whole trip. You can see the peaks of Jeju and the water was clear and fresh.

It was a nice little getaway, and good to see more of Korea than just our little city.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Here & There

I vaguely remember a blog post from last year in which I admitted that my weekdays basically consisted of recovering from the weekends, reading books on the couch, and drinking coffee. The worst part of my weeks was the required trips to the grocery store, which I made without children.

As they say, all good things must come to an end.

There are certainly good things about our situation here, only they include precious little "alone time" for yours truly. Now the trips I make to the grocery store without children constitute almost the entirety of my alone time.

I think we're finally all settled in and feeling like this is home now. I can navigate the apartment in the dark without running into the walls, I don't notice how hard the Korean bed is anymore, and I've mostly gotten the hang of backing into parking spaces (which is the only way it's done here). I'm not afraid of driving anymore-- even the infamous 'triangle of death' outside of the base's main gate doesn't give me pause. Who cares if traffic can go 6 different directions and no one has the right-of-way? The Corolla can hang with the best of 'em.

So life feels more normal, although certainly a bit less convenient than in the States. Activities of daily living are very much a guessing game-- from my Korean washing machine to the strictly enforced recycling system, every day presents a new opportunity to screw something up.

A list of odd things:
- When we get utility bills in the mail, we have no idea what they say. Electric, gas, water? Who knows? We have to take them to the property manager and he takes our cash and pays them.
- People ask to take photos with us sometimes. Because I don't know why.
- Bike helmets are not a thing here. Which is odd, because terrible driving is definitely a thing here.
- We often feel deep disapproval coming from waitresses. We haven't figured out what we're doing wrong exactly-- it's always something different. This week it was ordering glasses of water. Once it was not ordering enough food. Another time it was ordering too wide a variety of food-- like they only wanted to cook chicken, not chicken and beef. Basically, whatever we are doing is wrong.

The kids and I have our homeschool routine down now, and I think we're doing okay. Our days are longer than I expected they would be; maybe I'm doing it wrong. But learning seems to be happening, and with minimal complaining. I'll take it.
We've heralded "Fun Fridays" as a more relaxed school day-- We get the essentials done first, and then we usually have some sort of an art project, tea time during our read-aloud, math games, and a "pop quiz" where I toss Tic-Tacs at whoever correctly answers questions taken from what we've learned during the week. Everyone looks forward to Fun Fridays-- and the weekends that follow them. ;)

Josh has been kindly taking the kids out to breakfast or on some sort of errand on Saturdays to give me a bit of time in which I can hear the sweet, sweet sound of silence. He's my favorite husband.

I will leave off with some pictures from our vacation in early September. We spent a few nights in Seoul and then a few more on Jeju Island, which was lovely.

I lied. The photo site is down, so the photos will have to wait. I must get to sleep-- tomorrow is Fun Friday, after all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August was hard.

Now that September has arrived and August is in the rear view mirror, I think I will just go ahead and say that August was mostly a no-good-very-bad-month.

We arrived in Korea on August 1st. I believe I already mentioned the MERS + jetlag combo that marked our first 2 weeks here. Also present were sticky-hot days with 1000% humidity.

We managed one enjoyable, post-acclimation weekend together before the base began it's big yearly joint exercise with the South Korean military. Josh was working nights and sleeping days on the base. The kids and I were on our own here in the apartment complex.
Number of friends and/or polite acquaintances: Zero.
Ability to get around: Low. We only have one vehicle and it was too dang hot to walk anywhere.

The kids and I, lacking anything else to do, started school. It's been a learning curve for us all, but mostly for me. I found myself up late each night preparing for the next day and trying to establish a routine that works for us. We are getting there.

Then, if you are readers of the news, you will recall that things became quite tense on the peninsula. That guy up north started making threats. People from the base began reminding the families here of evacuation protocol. Josh's work hours grew, but no longer because of an exercise. I pulled a suitcase back out of the closet, and placed the gas-masks by the front door so I wouldn't forget them. I read the news, prepared school lessons, and wondered what the heck I was doing here.

Then, because his timing is always perfect, Derek got pinkeye and I got the opportunity to make a fool of myself trying to get him seen by a doctor. That could be a whole post unto itself, but with pantomime and dragging him up to people and pointing to his eye, we eventually got him seen and got some medicine.
This was the victory photo after leaving the pharmacy:

Turns out it must have been the viral type, because his eye did not respond to the antibiotics and the red eye endured for over a week, until it cleared up and the other one started in. Pinkeye = no swimming. Frowny face.

So that was pretty much August.

The good news is that tensions have died down, I put the gas masks away, and Josh has 2 weeks of leave to start September.
Yesterday we surprised the kids with a trip to Everland amusement park which is just under an hour's drive from us. It reminded me of Busch Gardens. It had a very scenic, mountain setting. We would have preferred to wait until the weather cooled off a little more, but we can't always count on Josh getting leave so we just went for it.

A good time was had by all. By the end of the day I realized I had seen only one other non-Asian looking group in the whole park. I'm guessing we stuck out a little.
Good thing we are such avid theme-park-goers, because we just assumed that most of the instructions we could not read or understand were saying things like, please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. If not, well-- we survived.

You can see Alex's favorite ride in the background-- a large wooden roller coaster with quite the steep drop. She and Josh rode it twice together, a third time with me, and Derek said no way.

Today we packed our bags again, because tomorrow we're off to explore more of Korea. We're going to spend some time touring in Seoul and then we're flying to Jeju Island off the southern tip of the peninsula. Yes, you read that right. I'm getting on another plane.

But this flight is only an hour and I'm not changing any time zones, so hopefully all will be well.
We've heard Jeju is called "the Hawaii of Korea." And while I'm looking forward to some pretty sunsets and waterfalls, they also said that Everland was "the Disney of Korea", and I have to say that's being a little generous.

Hope to be back with a report of happy and healthy travels :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I feel like an astronaut who was lost on a mission to outer space, and whom everyone had presumed dead. Yet through some miracle, I survived and am re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. My first communication is to say-- It's me, Erin. I know you've all given up on me, but I'm still out here.

Of course, I could never be an astronaut. I despise flying.
But you get the sentiment.

So let's just assume I was abducted by aliens and that's why my last blog post was from about 5 months ago, my blog profile still says I live in Spain (and that I move every 3 years-- ha!), and why my picture header shows my children looking fresh from the womb.

Here's what's gone down with the Schore family since I last posted and announced that our next assignment would be to Korea.

1) Crap. It's hard to remember.
2) Josh graduated from SAASS at Maxwell AFB, AL. It's not important to know what it stands for. (Nerd School)
3) The children finished their school year.
4) We went to Disney World.
5) We drove to Michigan to visit our family.
6) Josh left for Korea in mid-July.
7) The kids and I followed a few weeks later.
8) We now live in Korea. I would clarify that it's South Korea, but I don't want to insult your intelligence. (Fact-- people have asked me if we'd be in North or South Korea)
9) I am homeschooling our precious* cherubs. Who are now 10 and 8.

*almost exclusively between the hours of 9pm and 8am.

I've been living in Korea for over 3 weeks now, but the first 10 days don't count. I had a cold and jet lag and post traumatic stress syndrome from the trip over.
I should point out that the kids did great on our travel day, which included a short hop to Detroit, a 4 hour layover, a 13 hour flight, and a 90 minute bus ride. It's me who is the bad traveler.
I got off the flight hoping that I would like it here, because I was never getting on another plane.

Those feelings are starting to subside. It's like childbirth, I suppose. You eventually forget the pain.
(I should clarify with anyone angry at me for comparing a long flight with seatback entertainment and complementary wine to childbirth, that I obviously had epidurals.)

The first week here passed in a haze of sleepiness and the headcold from Hades. Josh accused me of having contracted the MERS.
During that week, I had to do terrible things like leave the house, go to base, fill out paperwork, study for and take my driver's test.

I am officially the worst jet-lagger ever. I was not motivated to do anything, but we had no choice since Josh had only a few days off work to get us all set up.

I should also take a moment to laud my husband for making this whole process as easy on us as possible. He only had about a 2.5 week head start on us, and he managed to get out here, jump through about a zillion hoops to pick up our sporty Corolla from Seoul, get his driver's license, find us an apartment, receive our household goods shipment, in-process and begin work, and meet us at the airport to save my sanity on the bus ride from Seoul to our new home.
He's my hero.

I can't say how much nicer it was to be laid up with MERS and jetlag in my own (new to me, Korean-style, soft-as-concrete bed.)

I have lots to share about our new home here on the other side of the world, so I'm dusting of ye ole blog. Back soon-- barring any extraterrestrial interference.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Blog Post is Brought to you by Credit Card Fraud.

It's true. Someone out there was attempting to use our credit card and they're not allowed to because they're not us. So we had to cancel our cards and are waiting for new ones to arrive. In the meantime, Netflix couldn't process the automatic payment we have set up and so I can't watch any shows. Hence, I'm blogging.

Here is a picture of me.

I took it after I got my hairs cut. I like to take pictures of my new haircuts for multiple reasons:
1) The nice lady makes it look better than I can.
2) That way, when 6 months go by before I get my hairs cut again, I can show the nice lady what I want or don't want.
3) I guess those are all the reasons I have.

But I do have a reason for including it on this post. You see, I'm not very photogenic and I prefer to take pictures instead of being in them. But I'm afraid that if I let too much time go by in between posting a picture of myself, one day you will all be shocked at how much I have aged. So I'd rather make my aging seem more gradual.

This is a lot of typing just to talk about one selfie, is it not?

Moving on.

The kids had character day at school and had to dress up like a character from a book. I just love coming up with costume ideas. (That was typed sarcastically.)

Thanks to a borrowed bonnet, Alex pulled off Caddie Woodlawn fairly easily.

Derek pulled out his inner Spaniard and played a role from Ferdinand the Bull. Muy guapo, no?

Life is breezing by quickly, and is about to start going even faster as we approach moving season...

And now, for the main event.

The Schore family is on the move again. A recap of our shenanigans over the last 14 years of military life:

Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls TX 2001-2006
Seymour Johnson AFB, Goldsboro NC  2006-2007
Mountain Home AFB, Mountain Home ID  2007-2010
Seymour Johnson AFB part deux, Goldsboro NC  2010-2012
Presidio of Monterey, Monterey CA  2012
Madrid, Spain  2013-2014
Maxwell AFB, Montgomery AL  2014-2015

And next...in hemispheres yet unexplored...in the land of fermented cabbage and Cooch purses....drumroll please....

We're going to Korea!

Well, allow me to clarify. Josh is being sent to Korea for a 1-year unaccompanied tour.

 But since we like each other, and Korea is a place we can legally go along, the kids and I are going to join him.

And just when I thought I knew all there was to know about military moves, here comes a new scenario.

The biggest differences in moving to Korea "command sponsored" vs "non command sponsored" (like us) are that:

-- the Air Force doesn't pay for our trip over
-- we are not allowed to live on base
-- we are the lowest priority for receiving routine medical service and other support services.
-- they'll only ship 10% of our household goods weight.
-- Josh has to receive permission to live off base with us.
-- I have to...gulp...homeschool the kids.

Now that I've typed that out, I think I need to go find a paper bag to breathe into.
Let's talk more later.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Do I still have a blog?

I've done a pretty good job forgetting I have this here blog. Though every now and again I get a nasty-gram via e-mail or text reminding me of my failure. Then I think to myself, "I should go blog" or "I should go write a good-bye entry on that blog and put it out of its misery."

But I can never decide which of the two to do.

So I guess I'll just blog.

When last I posted, I mentioned my weekly schedule of laziness. Go figure that as soon as I posted it, I realized that Christmas was around the corner and all of my recovery days were out the window. I shall now list random stuff that has happened between now and then.

--The kids had a special holiday meal in the cafeteria. I got to join them and realized that school lunches haven't changed much over the years.

Poor Derek. You'd think I would have given up on home haircuts by now.

-- In school, Derek's class made centerpieces as an art project. There was an open house where we could see them.
Derek made a fireplace.

Amusingly, several other students made what we assume were supposed to be Christmas trees. I will let the photos speak for themselves. These would have gone well with Alex's preschool art project.

-- We had a nice, low-key Christmas break in our base neighborhood ghost town. (You can imagine that since no one on a military base is from "around here," most families go back to their hometowns to visit with family.) Josh had a bit too much work to do, and our hometowns are just a bit too far for us to have made that trip this year. It was quiet around here and the kids forgot how to play without friends around.

-- When the families returned, they were right back to their old tricks of starting fires with magnifying glasses and fighting the dark side.

-- We had a visit from Josh's dad the week before Christmas, and he helped shuttle Josh back and forth to Birmingham where Josh had surgery for his hand. He was still having trouble following his accident in Spain. The jury is still out as to whether this surgery helped or made it worse.

This is Josh's "I'm still drugged" smile.

-- Montgomery hosted its first ever college bowl game, so we took the kids to see it.  They lost interest by halftime.

-- We got a box of Spanish treats from our friends in Madrid. I cannot tell a lie. I miss living in Madrid. I think I will begin to set aside a specific amount of time every week to plot how we might finagle another assignment there.

-- In January I realized I needed to alter my weekly schedule to include going to the gym because I was becoming a larger, softer version of myself. Turns out that living a slovenly lifestyle is hard on the waistline. So I joined the rest of the resolutionists in the gym and I suppose that's a good thing, as beach weather is right around the corner down here.

I read somewhere that after Valentine's Day is when most people fall out of their New Year's resolutions, so if you see me feel free to poke me in the belly and tell me to keep working out.

-- Alex and I had a girls' night out with friends to see a gymnastics meet at Auburn. American Girl dolls were also invited to attend.

And that concludes a rather poor job of playing catch up.

Which brings us to now.
We've got about 4 months left before we move. How does this happen?

I mean, I know time is going by because the kids keep outgrowing their pants, and because Derek doesn't have to reach on his tip-toes to turn the kitchen sink on anymore. But is it really already time to think about boxes and movers again?

In short, yes. And inquiring minds might like to know where we will be heading next.
And I would like to inform those minds. However, we don't know yet, officially.
Unofficially, we have a pretty good idea but I'll wait to post about it until we get some paperwork. Should be soon!