Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear 2010

You were good.  Surprisingly good.  This time last year I was on a lovely vacation with my husband in the mountains of Virginia (don't worry- Way Back Whenesday post coming!)....and if you had asked me if I thought I'd be posting from Songtan, South Korea on New Year's Eve I would have laughed in your face!

This year I was patient.  Marshall was sent on a ridiculously long TDY to Mississippi, and I was a pregnant, single, working Mom.  I was used to the working.  I was used to the single Mom-ing.  But doing it pregnant- much harder!  Still, Marshall got to be home for much more of this pregnancy than he was with Maddox, so I am very grateful for that.

This year I was laid off.  That's the first time that ever happened.  Due to Virginia's budget cuts my teaching position was eliminated and my contract was not renewed.  It's hard not to take it personally when you love your job as much as I loved mine, but I KNOW I was not being fired.  I was just a number, just a name on a list to the people making the hard decisions about who should be let go.  And I wasn't so much heartbroken for myself as for my students.  Although it has all worked out in the long run- when I was laid off I was pretty upset.

This year I was shocked.  We wanted out of Langley, and we wanted the chance for overseas orders.  BOOM- we got Korea and got both.  Although we could still lose the Germany orders at any time, I'm starting to let myself get excited about the possibility that we could live there for 3 years.  I almost don't want to hope or plan too much, because I don't want to jinx it.

This year I changed my mind.  I'm not going to go up on a soapbox, because I truly think that every woman should be able to choose what she wants- but as far as childbirth goes, I changed my mind.  I used to think that medication, epidurals, and induction were the way to go when it was time to have a baby (and HAD all that with my first birth).  But I spent most of this pregnancy reading, studying, taking a Birthworks class, attending Birth Circles, and soaking up as much knowledge as I could about birth.  I knew there had to be something more than what birth seemed to be.  I began to trust that I was a strong, healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy.  I hired a doula, was seen by midwives, and had the most empowering, amazing birth I could ever ask for.  I delivered a perfect baby boy in a safe setting, where I had the power and was supported in my every decision to let my body do what came naturally.  And so- naturally, he was born.  I am humbled.

This year I gained a lot of weight.  We'll address that tomorrow.....says Scarlett.  :)

This year I grew a human being.  And I still don't know what I did to deserve such a peaceful, easy, smiley, drooley, sweet little boy.  The pregnancy was easy, the delivery was easy, and there's just no better word to describe Maverick.  I swear he only cries about once a week.  The awe of his perfect little eyelashes, his blue-gray eyes, his red lips like his sister, his birthmark on his leg like mine...he's just so great.  I may take this back in a few months when teeth start breaking through- but for now I'll take credit for this little man who makes us so happy!!

So, 2010- you were one of the best years of my life, and one of the longest.  Ha!  But alas, I must leave you in the past and move on.  Because we've got BIG plans......just you wait and see.

It was a Merry Christmas!!

Living overseas from all our family and friends, I'm just trying to let everyone know what is going on with us!  I may overshare at times, I may undershare at times....but I hope that even if you aren't a family member or (yet!) a friend, you'll get to know me and my family by reading my blog.  :)  I try to post different things than I post on my facebook page, where I can't really tell stories.  It also keeps me from having to tell the same story 5 different times when I talk to people.  Okay- on to our Christmas Day!

Our tiny Christmas tree was dwarfed by Christmas gifts!  There weren't even that many, it just looks like a lot because the tree was so small!  Ha!  Maddox woke up around her normal time- about 6:30am.  She was ready to see if Santa came.

We left Reindeer food (granola with red and green sprinkles) in the shoe room for Santa's reindeer, and she opened the door and said "Mama, the reindeer made a BIG MESS!".  

Maverick loved his activity center!  He can play in it for about 10 minutes at a time before he gets too tired and needs to be picked up.  

He put on his new Steeler's onesie to help open presents.

Maddox got a "Children of the World" floor puzzle.  The theme of her new bedroom (once we get to Germany) is going to be similar to "It's a Small World"- this puzzle will be perfect!  

This is cooler from Baskin Robbins that our Christmas cake came in.  They sell so many of them that they were stacked up outside the store on the sidewalk.

This is the cake we chose- it is hard to see, but it is shaped like a Christmas tree.  It was light green, and we didn't know what flavor it was.   It ended up to be something like pistachio and almond flavored, not what we thought it would be, but it was good!!

And yes, she liked it!

Mdx also got this super-cool tutu/skirt!  She is the perfect age for this, especially with her love of singing and dancing.  It is reversible and can either have the purple or turquoise on the top.  

We got ready to go to Nonja's house for Christmas dinner.  Mdx put on her dancing dress that Santa gave her, and her doll baby got the matching dress.

At Nonja's:  It's just not Christmas unless bows get put on the baby's head!  Mav was a good sport.

We enjoyed the evening with Nonnie and her family.  They are soon PCSing to Italy and we won't see them again until we are in Europe next Fall.  It was so nice to have them here, and share the holidays with them.  Something every military wife discovers: When you don't have family, friends become your family.  Who knows who we will be spending next Christmas at Ramstein with!!

Preparing for Christmas

Like I said earlier, this year Christmas is "fake it 'til you make it" for us.  We are just doing the best we can with what we have and trying to remember what's really important!  Now that we have 2 kids, and Maddox is old enough to understand what is going on- the pressure was on!

We went to Brunch with Santa at the Officer's Club on Sunday the 18th.  Maddox must have been so relieved to see a huge buffet of American food because she was almost more interested in eating than in seeing Santa!  She had excellent behavior and manners.

Santa was Korean.  Maddox was not scared at all to sit on his lap, but she got a little tongue tied when it was time to talk to him.  

Maverick was not fazed at all.  He doesn't seem to care much about who is holding him, just as long as he's being held!  He looks really big in this picture (it was a pretty small Santa), and he is a few pounds more than Mdx was at this age.  He's wearing 6 month clothes now.  

Marshall decided it would be a good idea to put Mav's activity center together before Christmas Eve.  I'm so proud that I actually got a picture of him looking at the directions!  :)  We kept it out on the patio off of the guest room so Mdx couldn't see it.  

This is a Korean Christmas card that Mdx's teachers gave her.

For some reason this picture will not rotate.  Mdx got a letter from Santa!

This is what the letter said:

On Christmas Eve Marshall had to work and we weren't sure if he'd be home in time for dinner, or even before I put the kids to bed.  He got off semi-early that night and we decided to go out (I didn't really want to cook).  We walked down the street about a half mile to Mr. Chicken, and brought him a Christmas gift (chocolate).  

Mav slept through everything.

Mr. Chicken is one of the friendliest shopkeepers we have met here.  He always smiles and waves/bows to us whenever he sees us walk by his shop.  He decorated for Christmas, when many other businesses here didn't.  He was so happy to see us, and to receive a gift!  He put the gift away to open later- it is Korean custom (at least according to Marshall) not to open a gift in front of the giver.  He brought out a gift for Maddox and she was so excited!  It was really cute Korean boy and girl magnets.  When we left he came and zipped up Mdx's jacket and gave her a kiss on the cheek.  :)

Back at home it was time to take a bath, write Santa a note, and leave him milk and cookies.  Mdx went to bed with no problem!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My "Everydays"

Places I go, that you don't know:

This is the best website we have found so far for weather forecasts for South Korea.  Just enter Osan AB, South Korea into the search box.  Now if I could just learn how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit without going online!

Clark's CaringBridge
My friend Clark, a fellow former member of the Durham and Raleigh Symphonies, has leukemia.  This website is where he has kept his online journal, and let everyone have a front row seat to his battle with mortality.  His candor is touching, and tragic.

Red Room
I like to read, and like to write, and like to read about writing.  This is where I do just that.

PicClick- no visual- sorry!  This is the "google" of internet shopping in my opinion.  You can search by keyword, phrase, etc and everything that the search engine returns has a picture and price so you can see instantly if you are interested in it or not.

PhD in Parenting

This is a blog that has so many interesting topics to read regarding parenting choices.  Since I spent a significant percentage of every day wondering what the heck I'm doing, I enjoy reading other people's educated perspectives.

Nutrition Data
Have you ever wanted to know the nutritional data of green peas?  Well I have!  I started looking at this website pretty frequently when I was pregnant and trying to eat 80g protein a day.  I think it is pretty easy to use and has even more information than I'd ever need.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Way Back Whenesday- Christmas 09 AND 07

Back in Virginia from our cookie making trip to NC, Maddox got a Big Bird for Christmas!  This is one of the only good pictures I got of her getting presents from us last year.

We spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas morning in Gboro.  Here Mdx is checking out what Santa left for her.  A shopping cart, puzzles, baby doll, stamps, play food, and more!

The first thing she played with was the play food!

After a breakfast picnic on the floor it was time to sit in the dining room and open presents.

Daddy helped her.

Later in the day we went to Raleigh to see Marshall's family.  Mike and Carla gave Mdx a fun play tent that she immediately wanted to play with.

She also got a fun tool belt and toolbox.

AND- she also got a kitchen!

Now, to take it WAY Christmas 2007!  Marshall had just returned from Korea, and we were celebrating our first family Christmas in our house on 11th St.
It's so funny how Maverick is RIGHT NOW at the same stage Mdx was in this video.  We'll have to take videos of him this Christmas to compare.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Christmas cookies

Since we missed the cookie day back home in the States, Maddox and I decided to make some Gingerbread cookies for Marshall to take to work and share with his friends.  I found a great recipe online, but once I looked at how many of the ingredients I was going to have to buy, I decided that a mix might be better.  However- one time I tried to make sugar cookies with a mix and they turned out awful. So, I made sure that it said on the package that they could be rolled out and cut- and it did!  Betty Crocker saved the day once again!  They smelled and tasted delicious too!

Alas, it started with a little pouting because I wouldn't let her stick her fingers in the softened butter.  I'm just no fun.

Smiles quickly returned when the dough was all mixed and we began to roll it out!  Don't worry, the table has a glass top that we floured.

We used some of the cookie cutters that Carla sent us.  Mdx's favorite part was peeling off the part we weren't going to cook and rolling it into a ball.

We should have used the small cookie cutters, because the cookies blew up a lot and became huge!

Next was the icing and decorating.  I think Mdx ate more sprinkles than actually went on cookies.

Posing with the finished product in front of our tree!

They are all gone, we'll have to make more for Santa!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Maddox Monday

Maddox and Marshall went out with his friend J for dinner at a place that is just called "Meat Restaurant".  There will be a whole different post on this place, but here I would just like everyone to see that my child knows how to act in a restaurant.  Because it certainly seems to be a dying art form....judging by what we see with some other families.

She is mid-song in this picture.  We get a lot of singing and dancing!

I brought a preschool workbook that she is just tearing through!  Truthfully, the stuff in there seems a little too easy: shapes, colors, numbers, letters, and a lot of tracing.  But she loves doing it and asks me to read her the "Structions".  

We got a fun package from Mdx's godparents Michael and Lisa- who you can read about over here at Beery Busyness.  Maddox immediately grabbed the Christmas card and....

....put it on the fridge!  

Then she got down to business coloring in her new books.  She LOVES coloring.

She also loves being a big sister and holding Maverick.  He's not so sure about her though.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Way Back Whenesday- more Dec '09!

Last December I got Maddox this inflatable child sized bed, which she loves sleeping on.  It's very convenient for traveling, and I especially like how you can tuck the sheets in around the central mattress part and keep them off the floor.  Here she is testing it out:

Mdx and I went down to Greensboro for what was supposed to be the Cookie Party weekend.  It ended up snowing Friday night and by Saturday morning we weren't sure we were going to be able to make it out to Marge's house where it was going to be held.  Mom & Dad's backyard:

I called Emily and convinced her that I thought she could make it to Mom's house (selfishly of course, I wanted her to still come), because it was mostly main roads to get there.  So, she braved the roads and brought Taylor Anne and Anderson and we had our own cookie day with Grammy!

Anderson and Maddox helped make sugar cookies.  You can see Mdx's habit of wiping her hands on her shirt.

Taylor Anne was the master decorator.

It's amazing how much we got done with 3 kids running around!

At the end of the day, with all our cookies- by now we are in pajamas!

Taylor Anne read the two littlest kids a Christmas bedtime story.  They *kind of* paid attention.

We also took some time to go out and play in the snow!  She's got fleece on, and fleece-lined jeans, don't worry about her lack of a coat!

Maddox wasn't too sure what to do besides walk around.

Gramps made sure there was still room to ride the tricycle on the patio.