Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giveaway week- Thursday!

It's another rainy day here in Songtan.....Monsoon season!  I have never seen this much consistent rain before- and yet it is not flooding.  Where is all this water going?  For someone who walks everywhere, this is also pretty inconvenient.  However, I've got places to go and stuff to do!  I really must walk more than the average bear, because in the last week three different people have said "Mary I see you walking all the time!"  (of course they see me from their car......).  Before we came to Korea I was wallowing in my pregnant and then postpartum glory, and the only walking I was doing was around Target!

This Giveaway week has been pretty fun so far- I love seeing who is reading!  If you haven't entered the previous three days of giveaways- head on back and comment!  All entries before Midnight on Friday (Eastern time) are accepted.

Today's item for giveaway is probably not specifically Korean, but I had never seen it until Marshall brought one home with him from his last tour here.  Now, here in Korea I see them everywhere!  These are luggage tags/name tapes that are heavy duty, and snap onto a suitcase or backpack.  They are approximately 1.5 inches wide, and about a foot long.  They really help when you aren't sure if the suitcase coming around the carousel belongs to you!  They also would look really cute on a child's bag.  If you win, I will get two different ones made, and you get to pick what colors, and what you want them to say.  If you want your name in Hangul (written Korean) that would be cool!  Or maybe "Go Steelers!"?  It doesn't have to be for you, you could get it made for someone else- so think about what you would want on your luggage tag.

To enter today, all you need to do is comment and tell me THE LAST TIME YOU WALKED MORE THAN A MILE.  Ha!  No, I'm not kidding.

Stay tuned for tomorrow- Friday is the last day of Giveaway week, and I think it has the best prize!

The Rules- Surely you have seen these by now?  Mama always said "Read the fine print".  Or something like that.
Each day I will post the item being given away, and how you can win. At the END OF THE WEEK (so after entries are closed Midnight Eastern time on Friday) I will post the winners and send out messages to notify them and confirm the shipping address.  If you are not my facebook friend, make sure to include your email address in your comment.  I will mail (from an APO address, so be patient) your prize.  Please only enter one time for each post- and spread the word!  These kinds of giveaways are much more fun when you get new people involved!!  (And PS- if you have a blog, why not host a giveaway, huh?)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Giveaway week- Wednesday

Welcome back for the 3rd day of giveaway week!  I'm giving away cool Korean stuff to celebrate my blog reaching 20,000 pageviews.  Granted, most of those views were from family members and friends- but I've had this blog for quite some time and it took a long time to reach 20,000! So let's celebrate!

Today's awesome giveaway item is this Korean pottery bowl/dish/jewelry holder (can you tell I'm not exactly sure what it is for?).  It is a beautiful light green color known as celadon, common in Korean pottery here.  It is about 5 inches in diameter, and just a few inches tall.  It resembles a flower.  There are many ceramic shops around Songtan, all offering a few variations of the same kind of things- but the green color seen here is very distinctive.

If you would like to win this piece of Korean pottery, just leave me a comment telling me WHAT FOREIGN COUNTRY YOU MOST WANT TO VISIT.  I'm not yelling, I'm just putting that here in big letters to get your attention.  :)

Remember the rules:  Each day I will post the item being given away, and how you can win. At the END OF THE WEEK (so after entries are closed Midnight Eastern time on Friday) I will post the winners and send out messages to notify them and confirm the shipping address.  If you are not my facebook friend, make sure to include your email address in your comment.  I will mail (from an APO address, so be patient) your prize.  Please only enter one time for each post- and spread the word!  These kinds of giveaways are much more fun when you get new people involved!!  (And PS- if you have a blog, why not host a giveaway, huh?)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Giveaway week- Tuesday

Welcome back for giveaway day #2!  If you didn't enter yesterday's giveaway, go back and comment- remember, comments are open until Midnight Friday (Eastern time).  

The item I am giving away today is this set of Korean chopsticks, with cloth holders.  I was surprised to discover that the chopsticks they use here are metal and not wooden, and are stored in a little box that sits on the end of the table.  I find the metal makes picking up food even harder, but my skills have gotten so much better over the last 8 months!  I can even eat rice with chopsticks now!

The ends of these chopsticks are decorated, but the ones in restaurants are not normally decorated.  Koreans also use spoons when eating things that have more liquid in them, and some rice dishes like Bibimbap (YUM!).  I have learned that it is considered extremely rude here to pick up your bowl and put it close to your mouth while you eat- whereas in China/Japan that is considered more commonplace.  

Remember the rules:  Each day I will post the item being given away, and how you can win. At the END OF THE WEEK (so after entries are closed Midnight Eastern time on Friday) I will post the winners and send out messages to notify them and confirm the shipping address.  If you are not my facebook friend, make sure to include your email address in your comment.  I will mail (from an APO address, so be patient) your prize.  Please only enter one time for each post- and spread the word!  These kinds of giveaways are much more fun when you get new people involved!!  (And PS- if you have a blog, why not host a giveaway, huh?)

Now, could you keep it down?  I'm trying to sleep!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Giveaway week- Monday!!

In celebration of my 20,000 pageviews (up in the top left corner, in music notes)  I am hosting giveaways this entire week!  Monday through Friday, come back every day for a new giveaway of something unique from South Korea, where I'm currently living!

I consulted with my bloggy buddy Danielle, who recently did a successful giveaway on her blog.  Basically, the idea is to reward loyal readers, encourage them to comment (because really, comments are like someone handing you a piece of chocolate), while also trying to convince new readers that my blog content is worth their time.  If you aren't familiar, here is what my blog is all about:

*I'm a Mom.  This blog holds pictures and stories of my kids for friends and family to see and enjoy.  My kids are wonderfully average in every way, and I love them like a fat kid loves butter.
*I'm an Air Force spouse living overseas.  I'm a member of the Make-the-best-of-what-you've-been-given Club..  We Skype with our families back home when it can be managed, but not many people want to see my kids half dressed, squawking like pterodactyls, while they try to ask me about the weather or what we are doing for the day.  South Korea has been a beautiful adventure, stay tuned for Germany this fall!!
* I'm a Carolina girl at heart.  I love the East Coast of the USA- the beaches, the mountains, the climate, the accents, and Cheerwine.  Just a little bit of (real)wine brings out my Southern accent, and ya'll, it's fantastic.
* I'm a violinist, teacher, and music lover of just about all kinds (except a capella, which makes my hair stand up).  I hope to return to teaching in a formal school setting once we are settled this fall.  My favorite genres are bluegrass/newgrass: Alison Krauss, Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek, Mumford and Sons, Gillian Welch, people who write and perform their own music.
*I'm opinionated and sometimes sarcastic.  Don't take me too seriously!  You don't have to agree with me to read and appreciate my blog.  In fact, disagreeing with me, and intelligently and respectfully arguing with me helps us both to grow.  Help Me Help You.  I'm amazingly open minded, and I really love everybody, even those most different from me.

Alrighty!  Now the nitty-gritty!!  Each day I will post the item being given away, and how you can win. At the END OF THE WEEK (so after entries are closed Midnight Eastern time on Friday) I will post the winners and send out messages to notify them and confirm the shipping address.  If you are not my facebook friend, make sure to include your email address in your comment.  I will mail (from an APO address, so be patient) your prize.  Please only enter one time for each post- and spread the word!  These kinds of giveaways are much more fun when you get new people involved!!  (And PS- if you have a blog, why not host a giveaway, huh?)

Monday's giveaway:

This is a super cute set of 10 girl and boy magnets, dressed in traditional Korean clothing.   Each one is about two inches tall, made of clay.  Korean traditional dress is called Hanbok, and children receive a special Hanbok outfit to wear on their first birthday.

Here is a Hanbok shop close to our house.

HOW TO WIN:  Anyone who comments on this post before midnight Friday will receive one entry, I will draw a name randomly.  Just leave a comment and make sure I know how to reach you!

Remember to come back tomorrow for another giveaway!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Great "Mom Gym"!

When we were first stationed at Langley I had just had Maddox, and was (of course) trying to lose the baby weight.  I went to the gym on base, and used the Parent room a few times, but it was extremely lacking.  First, it was a pretty small room, with only a few machines in it.  If there were two other people there, chances were the machine you wanted was already taken.  Also, the play area for children was behind an opaque half-wall, so once the kids were in there you couldn't really see them.  There were no toys, just a table and small chairs.  There was a TV, but you had to bring your own movies to watch.  I didn't go there often because Maddox was never happy there, and once we discovered the YMCA down the street from our house had childcare- we joined the Y.

Here at Osan I'm glad to report that there is an AWESOME Parent and Child workout gym.  It is in a separate building than the main gym, in between the main gym and the swimming pool.  There are offices and classrooms also in the building, but I rarely see anyone at all when I go.  The bathrooms are clean and nice, and there is a real changing table in the women's bathroom.  This gym was installed in June 2010, through the help of various sponsors, fundraisers, and volunteers- and other bases should take notes!!  For a base that has less families than other bases, this is incredible!  It is a 1.8 mile walk from our house, so I walk Mdx to school, then walk there (pushing Mav in stroller), do 30 min cardio and around 15 min weights workout), then walk back and I'm home by lunch time.

This is the play area for 6-24 months. There are soft toys and stuff to climb on- and clear walls so you can keep an eye on your child!  

Mdx is showing you the play area for 2-5 yrs.  They have a bookshelf full of books, a pirate ship, a playhouse, and a basket full of toys.  There is a flat screen TV mounted on the wall, with a DVD player, and a basket full of kid movies.  All of this is enclosed in the clear walls with gates that you can latch shut to keep the younger ones from roaming.

The other side of the room is the workout equipment, just steps away from the kids.   On this side: Recumbent bike, stationary bike, stair master, and another stair type machine.

A treadmill, two elliptical machines, free weights, resistance bands, aerobics steps, and two more flat screen TVs complete the workout area.

Osan really has become a much more family-friendly base just in the last few years.  To anyone considering coming here, I would definitely encourage it!  Besides the gym there is a Youth Center, a Community Center, there are a lot of activities for families, in fact Sesame Street Live is coming here next week.  A gym like this goes a long way to keeping the Moms of the families here happy- and we all know that when Mom is happy, life is so much better for everyone involved!  :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kid pictures

When Mdx is good she gets to ride the rocket ship outside the baby store downtown.

Mav has learned how to beg for food, and does it frequently.  He likes spicy food!

Because really, who can resist that face?

Hair sculpture after bath time.  Yes- he rarely has clothes on when we are at home because it is just too hot!  A diaper will do!

Outside a restaurant downtown called Nolboo, they have HUGE orchids!  Bigger than Mdx!

Friday, June 17, 2011

An Addendum

I've always wanted to use the word Addendum in a blog post, and now I can......

I'm so glad there were so many that enjoyed my last post.  It's very fulfilling to get so much feedback when you write something so potentially controversial.  People hold their churches near and dear to their hearts, and the last thing I want to do is make someone feel like I am being critical of something they love!  I love the comments, and even if you don't agree with me about the Traditional Services, hopefully you could see my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.  Sometimes my humor doesn't translate through the screen as plainly as I'm putting it down.

An important part that I should have included in my musings on Traturgical Services is that I don't think that they are for everyone.  And that is totally fine.  I'm not offended when people don't like the Traditional Service and seek out another way to worship.  I have heard people refer to Traditional worship as feeling stagnated, dated, and behind-the-times.   I don't take it personally.  I didn't write or develop the Traditional Service format, and the only personal investment I have in it is that I have spent close to thirty years of my life in Traditional Services.  I personally value the liturgy, the familiarity, and the ceremony.  When I am there, I feel God.  And to me, that is all that matters.

There are so many different types of people- so many different ways to get what you need from the God-and-you relationship.  If you haven't found a church or a service where you feel comfortable and feel God, keep looking!  It's all the same God (in my opinion).  Heck, why not church-hop for a month or two just to visit new places?  I would enjoy doing that just for the educational value.  Many churches offer multiple worship formats because they have realized that they need to offer ways to worship that are just as diverse as the membership of the church.  Let your church be like a buffet- take what you need and want from what they offer, and leave the rest for someone else.  Not everyone likes the jello salad at the K&W Cafeteria, but there it is, week after week!

What if you feel God best when you are not at church?  As a Lutheran, I believe that I am saved "By grace, through faith".....NOT "By grace, through church attendance".  Some people feel God best hiking on the top of a mountain, or with their toes in the sand, staring at the ocean.  They see Him in the everyday interactions with their children, or ruminating during a long car ride.  Do you have to be under the formal roof on a Sunday morning?  I don't actually believe that you do.  Your relationship with God is personal, and does not need to be justified to anyone.

However, there are things that you gain from attending any kind of church service, that you won't necessarily get otherwise.  The biggest is a sense of community.  A church truly is a group of people, not just a building or service you go to.  Without the people, the church itself is meaningless.  Conversely, if you attend church and choose not to interact with people- if you always skip out of the coffee hour or never attend the Lenten dinners- well, you are probably not feeling the community warm fuzzies.  Talk to people, volunteer, remember names, and donate cans of food.  Offer to hold a baby so a mother can enjoy the service, or tuck a little treat in your pocket to give to a fussy kid in the pew in front of you.  Build relationships, because this builds God's community.

I'm going to get off of this religious kick that I'm on, because I know what most people really come here for- pictures of the kids!!  It is nice to be able to write about what's on my mind, and I encourage any of you who need a place to download (or is it upload?) your thoughts, to consider starting a blog.  I hope you enjoyed these posts, and if anything they made you think.  Peace, my friends!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I'm a Lutheran snob, and proud of it.

Today we attended the combined Traditional and Liturgical Service (also known as the Tradurgical or Liditional) at the base chapel.  It was only our second time attending as a family.  We are making a more concerted effort to get to worship, especially as Maddox gets older- I want to honor the promise we made at her baptism. You may wonder why we haven't been going to church while we are here in Korea and there are many different answers to that question (the new convenient 10:00am start time had something to do with it)- but I'll share a few of the reasons with you here.

One reason we didn't go to services was that-well.......we are high church Lutheran snobs.  That's right, even as liberal ELCA members, we just don't get as much out of going to contemporary worship as we do from the familiar predictability and comfort that a traditional Protestant service brings.  For me (and I'll speak for myself from here on out and not presume to know all Marshall's reasons), I want my church services to be pretty much the same every week.  I want to start out with a greeting, a few announcements, and then get right down to business with a Brief Order of Confession and Forgiveness.   In fact, if it's the old Green book confession (which I know I'll almost never get to say again) well, that would just rock my socks.  Anyone remember it?  This is from memory, but I'd venture to say I'm pretty close to the LBW version:

"Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin, and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed.  By what we have done, and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart.  We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  For the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.  Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.  Amen."

Boom.  Call me a wanna-be Catholic, but I want my confession to kinda sound like that.  Anything a little too off from that basic outline, anything along the lines of an altar call- and you've lost me.  If we don't get on our knees, I'm not feeling really very confessiony at all.  After that I'd love a Sharing of the Peace, but please, Lord have mercy, do NOT make your guests raise their hand, introduce themselves, or in any other way point out the unsaved heathens in the crowd!  I mean honestly, that's the fastest way to get people to never come back.  You think I sound like a snob now?  Just wait.

Alright, after all the hand shaking and "Peace of the Lord be with you"- "And also with you" kinda stuff....we need to sing Hymns.  You know- from a hymnal.....those are these books full of printed music that are mysteriously missing from some churches nowadays. And not slow hymns- it's Pentecost for crying out loud!  For future reference, any hymn that has a note to be sung over a C (the one above middle C), well that's just a little too high for most voices to reach comfortably on a Sunday morning.  One last note (lol) about music- if you are going to project the words up on a screen to a song the congregation has never heard before, be prepared for only the choir to sing.  Oh wait- there's no choir??  I'm outta here!!

Moving right along to the Lessons.  Yes, LessonS.  As in, more than one, ending with the Gospel.  I don't care who reads them, but they need to be followed with a "The word of the Lord" or something similar, and we can answer with a "Thanks be to God" just to high five the reader, cause us Lutherans are down with that kind of thing.

There needs to be an Offering thrown in there at some point.  God knows the church needs the money.  Now, if you REALLY want to get the most money the ushers need to pass those plates.  Don't just wave them in the general direction of the pew as you speed down the aisle and see if anyone makes eye contact- get the plates going all the way down every row, in fact if you make people actually turn and hand them to someone else- well that act alone will probably get you five more dollars.  Try it.  I mean it.

Here was the biggest point of contention for me today (and granted, we had a substitute minister from another I forgive him).  The Sermon.  There are time limits to people's attention spans, and any pastor knows this.  You've got to be like Seal team 6, you get in, get the job done, blow something up, and get the heck out of dodge.  Well, without the blowing up part, I am personally NOT a fan of the fire and brimstone method.  Tell some good stories, make sure to tie the ending in with the beginning, use some humor, vary the tempo of your speaking but NOT the volume (seriously, what is that about?  Are you trying to wake up people in the back, or scare the crud out of us?)- and please make sure to stay behind the podium.  I start squirming when the pastor starts walking around like we are having some casual conversation.  Lastly, don't end every paragraph with "Does that make sense?".  Not to mention how condescending it sounds (is what you are saying so above our heads that we wouldn't get it- well that's definitely a problem!) Do you really expect us to answer?  If we say NO we look foolish.  If we say YES we are talking during the sermon, and Mama said to never do that.  Mama trumps pastor.  The answer to every question asked in church is "Jesus".  Write it down.

After the sermon, get to communion and get there quick!  We are really hungry for some body of Christ, but please make it clear what we are supposed to do.  Whether it's rip and dip, tip and sip.....I get really confused sometimes.  The mini shot glasses are fun, but make sure we know what to do with them- we have plenty at home so I really don't need to take it with me.  And if you are going to offer communion to some, in my opinion the Lord's table is open to all- Jesus dined with prostitutes, thieves, and tax collectors, so please don't act like you need to see credentials to share the love of Christ with someone.

Communion is over.  You know people are checking their watches, the last hymn needs to be the fastest tempo of them all!  Get that choir high stepping out the door so we can get to the "Go in Peace and Serve the Lord"- "Thanks be to God" part!  What??  THERE'S NO CHOIR?  I'm outta here!

Now, to be clear, I am not writing any of this to offend or step on anyone's toes, but if anything, I am an equal opportunity offender!  I love all people regardless of their religious beliefs, preferences or lack thereof, what service they attend or don't attend, and I certainly hope to be forgiven for my snobbishyness in this post.  These are my opinions, no one else's.  Maybe I'll see you in church one day- or maybe not!  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

A little bit of that...

I made this Big Ben centerpiece for our table at MOPS. (Mothers of Preschoolers)  I cut out pictures of Will and Kate and had them looking out the windows, and had the Queen peeking out of the top.  It's amazing how much fun it is to make stuff out of cardboard, but recently I've started to get tired of all the cardboard toys around our house!!  

I went to Namdaemun market up in Seoul with the Osan Enlisted Spouses Club.  We took the bus to Yongsan and then took cabs to the Market.  It was so much fun!  There were street vendors and shops selling everything you'd ever want to buy.  I wish I had turned around to get a photo of the actual market, but it was wall-to-wall Koreans and I thought it would be rude to take a picture in someone's face.

This was a ginormous building filled with hair accessories!  Most of these people sold their stuff wholesale, but you could bargain with them.  For example, one package of 8 bows would be 6,000 won (around $5.50), but if you only wanted to buy one or two you paid 2,000 each.  So it made more sense to buy a ton, but then what do you do with them?  I stayed away from the pink frilly hair bows, but did get some (around 100?) cute rainbow hair clips for Mdx. 

My friend Michele got Mdx her very own (knockoff) Barbie doll that came with 35 outfits!  Mdx has had so much fun playing with all the old Barbies at Grammy's house, it's about time she had some of her own!  When I opened the package to get it all out, the outfits were hot glued down, so I had to cut the glue off of some of them!

The Fascination of Art City- huh?  GRILS Shopping Fashion Style.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A little bit of this.....

We went to a picnic, and Mav got to taste a cake pop.  Marshall looked at me and said "You never used to do stuff like that with Maddox!".  He's right.  Eh- second baby.....I'm not worried so much about breaking this one.

We grew some sunflower seeds from a kit, and after they sprouted had to plant them outside our apartment building.  Now everytime we walk by Mdx wants to check on the "Rainbow flowers".  I hope she's not disappointed when they don't grow all rainbowy.  AND- just a few days after we planted the little seedlings, there was a ginormous dog poop right on top of them!  They are now almost 1.5 feet tall!!

One of our most favorite things to do is style Mav's hair after bathtime.

Mdx can write all her letters.  Now she messes them up on purpose just to see if I notice, and then corrects me if I don't notice.  She has said many times that she wants to be a Kindergarten teacher when she gets big like me.

We call him "Maverator" sometimes, when he's tearing up the house.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wine Train Part 2

After we were done at the vineyard we got back onto the tour bus for a trip to a concert hall and music school.  We heard a great performance of Korean music by local musicians.  I made a few videos but have recently discovered that my new camera (Kodak Easyshare M532-remember I left my old one on a plane....) is not compatible with sharing videos with my Mac.  My old Easyshare was a more expensive model, and had no problem transferring videos.  So- all the videos I made with the new camera did not end up on my computer like I thought they did, and I long since cleared the memory card.  I emailed Kodak and their solution was to use iMovie, which I find to be a total not-user-friendly program.  Grrr- at any rate.  I have still pictures.  :)

This woman is playing an instrument called a Haegeum.  It is bowed and has two strings, and a very muted sound.  The lady in the back is playing a modern drum set.

The whole ensemble.

These are types of Gayageum.  They are one long piece of wood that acts as a soundboard, and the bridges are movable.  

After the performance they had classes to give us a chance to play a few instruments.

I got to sit into a class to learn how to play the Gayageum.  It was AWESOME!  Right around the time this picture was taken Marshall dropped the camera (I'm telling you, we are hard on cameras in this family...) and the lens was jostled.  It couldn't focus anymore unless you zoomed it to a certain point.  Marshall finally beat the camera back into submission and it still works to this day.  However, now that I know I can't get videos off of it, it might have to accidentally disappear into some hot grape juice or something.  I digress.....

You push the strings down on the left side of the bridge to produce a vibrato effect, and also to alter the pitch from anywhere up to a whole step!

Outside the concert hall we got back on the bus and headed back to the train.  It was a great trip, and I'm so lucky to have a husband who plans thoughtful things for us to do!