Thursday, July 26, 2012


I officially made our hotel reservations IN SEOUL!

After so many years of saving and scrimping and praying for this trip, we have one more step down.  I don't know when we'll find out which wish Cole is getting for Make A Wish and I didn't want to lose out on the great deal Fraser Place Central gave us through our agency, so I made the reservations.  We can always cancel if need to up to about 1 week before.  I don't really expect Make A Wish to grant a trip like that anyways, so I had to do it.  Next year is our chance.  Cole's still doing well and we didn't want his heart surgery to prevent it, so we're getting while the getting is good.

We are going to be gone for 2 weeks!  This is the biggest trip we have ever or will ever do and such memories we will have. We're making a list of things to do and what subway or bus stops they're at.

Best part.  Our hotel is a 2 bedroom (there are few of these in Seoul, especially downtown) that will sleep all 7 of us, free breakfast every morning and a pool if we just need to stay in a relax.  We can walk to most things too.  And another great, added feature, since this is where the girls and I and Lois stayed in 2009 we know the area a little bit.  We're familiar enough to get around.  One thing that makes it easier is a good thing in a foreign country.  I've got days built in to spend a day in Gwangju where Jae and Chelsi were born and a day in Jeju where Kaelin was born, but I have yet to find hotels large enough, so we may not get to go to these places.  It will be a bummer, but there's not a lot we can do.  Later this year the director of Asian Affairs is having me drive up so he and his staff can try to help us in this area.  At least I'll know by then what gets cut out or doesn't. 

In a few more months we'll begin checking airfare to try to find something in the budget.

Friday, July 20, 2012

And she's going to Disney!

This little girl gets to go to Disney afterall.  You see both parents have to sign off through Make a Wish, but since she has now received private donations her mom and grandmother can just take her.  Great!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I love to hear

Jaemin talk.

He's may be almost 4, but he's still 3 and starting to talk a little more like a 3 year old now.  His vocabulary's getting a little bigger and he's putting more words together.  Every little step makes me so happy to see him get through.

He's finally liking going to bed....especially when he goes to Papas on Fridays.  Tonight he put his pullup and pjs on and came to the door and yelled downstairs.  I was doing something and all I heard is "mom, are you coming?".  He wanted tucked in, plus I had promised to read Dinosaur Roar before bed.  I love laying in bed with him and reading to him and talking to him.  Jaemin really is my sweet little boy.  Wish I could say the same for his brothers.  Oy!  They've become such teenagers and all we get from them is smartness and eye rolling.  But, I can still remember the days of cuddling with them and it gets me through it....frustrated, but through it.

so glad to be done for the day

This week has been the week from you know where.  Work is crazy right now because there are only 4 of us in our unit, however 1 has been out on medical leave for almost 2 months now and another left a couple of weeks ago....and somewhat in disarray.  2 of us are left to do everything for 4 and I'm conducting interviews to fill the vacant position.  That alone has been a full time job this week.  And my car, well it decided to throw yet another temper tantrum, landing it at the dealership service department for about the 7th or 8th time in less than 2 months.  I literally had to crawl across to the passenger side to get out because the driver's door wouldn't open.  I was locked in.  Something bubbled, in the molding....they say, and caused the door panel to get stuck and it was stuck good because no one could open it.  I left work early today to go to a friend's dad's funeral.  I was SO happy to come home, not only because I am really so uncomfortable at those things, but because I was not thinking at all or thought wrong, whichever.  I wore these wedge shoes and thought we wouldn't be standing much, so I could tolerate them.  And we didn't stand much, but I couldn't tolerate them.  I spent my standing time trying to lean on a wall to shove my heel to the back of my shoe to relieve the pressure in my toes.

Normally I would just tough it out, but when we were at Sea World in May I wore tennis shoes and I guess a combination of too hot of weather and feet swelling with leather that shrunk up on the water rides and I knew something was wrong.  When we came back to the condo that day, I told Brian something wasn't right.  I told him I felt like my toenails were going to popoff.  I couldn't see anything because I had painted my nails.  A couple of weeks ago my polish was wearing off and I noticed blood on the edges.  I took off my polish to find both big toenails bruised badly, bleeding underneath...or had at one time and I knew.  Then, a couple of days ago I wore close toed shoes for the first time all summer and came around a corner at work and someone else came around the other direction and I stopped too sudden and shoved my toes to the front of my flats.  I took off my shoe and saw how grey my nail now was.  It's disconnected from my skin in the middle now.  They're both going to fall off...Brian says after the new nail grows in it will shove it off. 

If I remember right, this is exactly what happened to  Chelsi several months ago when her shoes were too small and we didn't know it.  I couldn't figure out how she wouldn't I know.  It's tolerable pain as well as your shoes conceal it a bit.  I'm dreading fall and close toed shoes if they don't fall off and heal a little by then.  They're sorta sore right now only from a couple of hours in heels.  So relieved to be home, out of those shoes and off my feet.

And yeah, I bought new shoes that are a little bigger.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Say what? Make a Wish kid denied by parent.

I can't believe a dad would deny his child a Make a Wish trip to Disney after she fought cancer for 2 years of her short life.  I realize most think Make a Wish is solely for terminal children, but it's not.  It's for children who have or are suffering life threatening conditions.  She technically still is since cancer can come back.  I can't image after my child going through all that cancer entails, saying no to something an organization like that granted her.  It's not like they grant wishes to any kid with anything.  They have criteria.  You can't fraud them.  They have to also have certain conditions met by the physicians documentation.  Really deny your child this?  How sad for this little girl.  I hope she gets to Disney.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Something funny

Everyone close to us knows we've been saving for Korea for many years now.  We sold and downgraded our truck to afford the trip among other things.  We've worked really hard to save this amount.  Well, we decided to refinance our house to the new, lower rates and the bank contacted us after we sent in our application and asked us a question that took us by surprise.  We had to submit our bank statements and that's what set off the question.

Apparently, there are some rules through Fannie Mae that if accounts are above the norm they have to look at the accounts closer.  We had the sale of our truck on that statement and that large deposit (It wasn't really that much considering it was a truck) threw up some flags.  I explained that we sold our truck and downgraded.  I didn't know there were these rules or flags in place and I've dealt with this loan officer for years.  I told her I was a little disappointed they would question us about this deposit to the degree they did.  There were more questions about it than I'm really going into here.  She replied and explained to me that it was Fannie Mae and it was because our savings was higher than the average in America.  WHAT??!!!  Barely having enough to go to Korea doesn't seem like a massive nest egg, but apparently in banking world or in America it is.  I told her not to worry, in a year the money will be gone after we go to Korea.  :)

Brian's jaw dropped when I told him.  We both had a good laugh for the night.  I mean really it's not that hard to save the money when you are frugal and careful with your money and then sell vehicles you don't need, right?  :)

1/2 way through

The orthodontist thinks Chase will get his braces off in December....yay!  That means, literally, only 12 visits total.  The original estimates from the other guys wanted reverse headgear, palate expander and this meant YEARS of treatment.  Chase's teeth already look amazing!  He's pretty fresh out of school and he said the newer studies are showing that only about 5% of kids actually need that extent of treatment as opposed to doing what we did and just wait for normal growth to fix some of it and then intervene for what may be left.  In Chase's case it was his ectopic eye teeth that didn't want to drop down, gap in his front teeth and crossbite.  None of it's there anymore.  He even got his inside wire off today and is close to getting the bumps off his back teeth.

Cole is only on his 3rd visit and only has bottom brackets so far.  He's only anticipating putting a few on the top to even it out a little.  We settled for good enough treatment over perfection to a savings of about $3,000+.  It will be barely noticeable in the end.  Cole's issues were a crossbite in his back teeth because of a molar that was turned on it's side and pretty bad crowding in the front lowers.  They literally zig-zagged across his mouth and all of this left him with a moderate overbite.  The turned tooth was worrisome though.  Same thing as Chase, they can eventually damage beyond keeping the teeth, which would cost us what we paid in their treatments anyways.  Cole first wire looked like a U when it went in and after it was attached to the brackets, it looked like a U with crimps in it and one big indent.  It had to go in a long way to grab that turned over tooth.  His front teeth are already lined up.  They're arched upward now, but he says they still need to come out because they were bent backwards and shouldn't have been.  He says once they come forward into more of a U shape, not a flattened U like they are now (after straightening some) his overbite will correct more.  His turned tooth looks really good.  It's still turned because, well, it has a LONG way to go, but it's definitely moving.  Poor Cole's in a lot more pain after each wire than Chase because his have so much further to move.  I asked if we could have done anything earlier with his bottoms and he told me that the bottom fuses around age 4.  He said there's no way you could anticipate this much at that age and this is the only situation.  I felt better about that.

In the end both boys only cost about $4,600 total.  That was after almost 5 years of shopping around, 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinions before deciding what route to do.  I asked tons of questions to understand what our choices were and realized we were better off waiting until now.  Now hopefully, we get a break before any of the others need braces.  Thank goodness he gives a 5% discount for each sibling and 5% for cash payment.

They're going to have some pretty great smiles!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A moment of growth

For mom.  Cole wanted to go to the local tractor pull.  His friend had just texted him that he was going.  So for him doing the dishes in return we drove him and picked him up.  He even got a 10:30 curfew.  I realize that's not all that late but he's only 15 and it was his first night out on his own.  He wasn't complaining either, in fact I think he might have been a little surprised.  He was waiting at the gate at 10:30 like I told him to so he followed the rules.  As long as he can keep his grades up and (per his own words) wrestling doesn't make him too tired he may earn some trust for more teenager stuff.  I'm not hoping for the going out part but happy with who he's becoming.  This growing up and letting go thing is hard for moms.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rite of Passage

Jaemin had a rite of passage today.  At least for this area.  Jaemin and I got on the tube and tubed together while Brian drove the boat.  He wanted it faster and faster.  We only had to stop when his short, legs got stuck between the tube and the cover.  We did great around the turns and everything.  Helps that his mom is a seasoned tubing expert!

We didn't stay on the river long, but long enough to see a few trains pass through which totally thrill him.  He jumped off the dock and swam a little.  He did great for losing the nap today!  All the kids were pretty tired.  I'm not sure how many times Cole, Chase and Kaelin went up and down the river.

Run for them all.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lifelong lessons

are ones you have to learn the hard way.  But, the test of character is that you actually learn from your experience to not experience it again.

Blessing #4 chose to try her hand, literally, at stealing.  We walked in the door from Walmart and I handed her something to take in and she wouldn't take it.  She was holding her side and I immediately had a flashback to being in the store and she was holding her side then.  She does that sometimes, so I didn't think anything of it until this moment.  She eventually showed me the candy under her shirt.  And after a 5 minute prodding, she confessed she did, in fact, take it from the store.  Disappointed doesn't begin to describe the feelings we both had.  She's the child we had few fears for as she grows up.  But, we have to remember that all of our kids are human and WILL make mistakes.  I pray, though, it's not worse than this though.  The life altering mistakes are my biggest fears. 

So, I did what (I think) most parents would do and loaded her back into the car, took her back to the store and made her explain it to the manager.  The manager was great.  She got down to her level, explained that people go to jail for that everyday and they turn people in for that.  She told her to learn from it and thanked her for being honest and coming back to confess.  Then, she lipped 'thank you' to me and we left.  Needless to say she is being punished at home, but I'm pretty sure going there and facing it was a lot of the punishment.

Seoul depressed

Yes, I'm still trying to plan and budget our trip for 10 months from now.  I realize I've been working on this off and on for 2 years now.  There is SO much to think about and I've been sort of delving into our stay at Jeju and Gwangju and well, lets just say I gave up.  It's impossible to figure everything out that will work for us.  So, I went back to making my hotel list for Seoul. There's not much of anything for us and I can't find any prices for Gwangju, so I think we'll end up having to depend on a travel agent, which I was hoping not to do.


It really stinks finding something suitable for a family of 7!  You have to keep in mind, if you're used to only staying in hotels in the US the rooms in Seoul are MUCH smaller unless they're serviced residence apartments, like we stayed at when we picked Jaemin up.  However, one large enough, like Fraser Place Central, for us is over $450/night.  Ouch!  There's literally nothing else in comparison.  Either they just can't fit us or it's the same price to get us in.  It's also harder because you'll see a room that says 2 double beds, but you can only sleep 2 adults and 1 child max, according to their rules.  I can't even find rooms big enough for 4 of us, hoping to get connecting rooms for the other 3 of us. 

I found one alternative that we will go to if we have to and it looks nice enough, but it's up a very large hill on the side of Namsan and I think after a long day of walking that would be even harder on Brian and the kids.  It's a 15 minute walk up the hill, is my understanding.  But, it may be absolutely all we can afford.

Notice I'm trying to stay as close to the Namdaemun area as possible so we're not spending our entire stay on the subway.

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Addition to the Blog for Make a Wish

No, there's no update for Cole's wish, but I thought it would be a good time to add a link to donate to Make a Wish.  It's  great foundation and if you just Google wish stories, you'd be amazed by what some families go through and the joy a simple wish can bring to a very ill child or a child who has spent their life fighting or a child who had to live life differently because of whatever was handed to them to deal with.  In the future, I'll add other great organizations, but thought my new area "Great Write Offs", as in tax write offs, would be great to start with Make a Wish.

Make someone's wish come true.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where do we stand on Korea?

We're there.  We now have just enough to go.  Now, we have to save to have enough for, at least, some emergencies in between and after now and then.  Can't be totally irresponsible.  I have received the last of my adapters.  I apparently ordered the wrong ones from Kmart and luckily when I went to pick them up they had gone on clearance for $1.  So, no biggie.  They'll work in Korea, just not well because they're Type C and probably a little too skinny.  I just picked up the other ones, Type F (I believe) from Westlakes Hardware  and they're the right ones.  We'll bring all of them with us so we're covered, since they're all very tiny.  I still only have one converter, but am not sure I really need more than 1 since most things are made dual voltage nowadays.  I've started my lists of carry-on items versus checked bag items.  Kinda fun.  The kids have NO idea how much planning and thinking is involved when there are 7 traveling to Korea for 2 weeks. 

I even bought a bunch of scooter skirts for the girls to wear, on clearance at Kohls of course.   It can be quite warm (HUMID) there in late May, early June, so I'm thinking comfort.  Can't worry about shoes at this point, but they'll be limited anyways.  Everything I buy myself, which isn't much, is with Korea in mind.  I even found the last of the sandals I've been looking for for 2 years now.  I finally found them on Amazon for $10.  The ladies of the house are pretty much ready.  Brian just needs some polo type shirts and maybe one or two more pairs of fairly nice shorts.  Jean shorts and athletic pants don't go over well over there like the men of my house wear all the time here.  I absolutely have to wait to buy the big boys' clothes.  They're at those growth periods where they could shoot up inches at a time, so they'll be last minute on shoes, shirts and shorts.  Jaemin...well I'll have to check his to be worn bin in his closet.  I don't know if he even has summer clothes for next year.  May have to raid the next 50% sale at Children's Place.  Since he lost his diaper last summer we got another year out of most of last year's clothes, but that isn't going to happen next year.  He'll definitely be in a size bigger.

While I'm SO excited that it's really getting close to being real, I'm still a little cautious since I know that all it takes is Cole unexpectedly needing his surgery or some large financial catastrophe and the dream is, at the very least, put on hold.  But, for now I'm enjoying the fact that we're planning on it and it is probably going to finally, really happen after so many years of saving, planning and budgeting.