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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Here in Pusan we have about an hour and 20 minutes left in 2006, so I thought I would get on the Roblog and shake things up a bit.

First, I hope you like the new format. I'm afraid I lost some bits that I liked. All of my links are gone now. I will put them back eventually. I'm using the new Blogger software, so it's supposed to be easier to edit the way Roblog looks. It looks to be true so far, though I haven't rolled up my sleeves yet to really get into it.

I just put Maxine to bed. It took her around 30 minutes to get to sleep, which is a bit long for her. Usually she is snoring within 20 minutes of lights out. Tonight she tossed and turned, tumbled and mumbled, played with her pacifier, and held on to my finger a bit before going to sleep. Her latest trick is to lay face down, plant her forehead on the mattress, and walk her feet towards her head, pushing her butt into the air. While doing this, she waves her hands in the air or grabs her legs or my finger. I swear this baby is ready to be a yoga instructor. I would love to post a picture of this, but she mostly does it at bed time, and the last thing I want to do is flash a camera at her or turn on the lights. When she does it during the day, it's never long enough to get a shot of, and we are afraid that this is one of those tricks that will disappear into the hazy mists of memory.

And so it goes on the Roblog, along with all of my whining.

One advantage of leaving Korea is that Horyon will be very unlikely to be put in charge of a high school Enlgish newspaper club in America. Right now she is editing articles for her sixth English newspaper. (As she pointed out, that means that I have also corrected six papers worth of articles. I had no idea this marriage would be so much work!) The students in her club write articles, usually in Korean and English, as well as choosing or taking pictures to put with them. Some of the articles are actually a little bit coherent as the students have written them, but many are not. And for every newspaper there are one or two articles that are so badly written that they are painful to read. I swear, last year I was reading one and I almost fell out of this dimension into a world populated by large, walking, talking soju bottles.

As usual, Horyon is doing the first editing pass on the articles, then I go through making them get there more perfect Englishly. It's a good gig, as I have many opportunities to slip in clever innuendos and scatological references which not even Horyon can catch. You would be surprised at how few Koreans realize that "pinching off a loaf" and "they enjoyed her buns" are not appropriate phrases to use in an article about baked goods.

So that's what Horyon is working on as the new year approaches. She has already printed up some for me to check, but I am following my motto: "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?"

It looks like I will not be teaching an extra class at Kyungsung University in January. I'm a bit sad, because I taught a similar class last summer and loved it. It was an academic writing class for Kyungsung students who were going to Turkey as exchange students for a semester. Unfortunately, they only have one student for the coming semester, and the school doesn't want to pay me $30 an hour to make sure that they don't look like a complete idiot when they turn in their first paper.

I realized that it's been a while since I wrote about Maxine's progress in life, so here's a general update:

She still doesn't talk much. She says "amma" and "appa" (Korean for "mommy" and "daddy", respectively), but still doesn't seem to connect saying those words to us yet. I say "seem to" because in as much as one can ever know what's happening in another person's head, I have absolutely no idea what's going on in Maxine's head. It does seem to me that this shows a gap between listening and speaking, because she can understand very well. When asked, "Where is mommy?" in English or Korean, she points right to Horyon, or a picture of her if she's not there. She can do the same for daddy in both languages. "Grandpa", "Grandma" and "Handsome Uncle Youngwhan" are very solid in Korean, a bit shaky in English. She also has a pretty good handful of other vocabulary in both languages, though her Korean vocabulary is larger than her English.

All of this is somewhat expected if you do any reading on bilingualism in children. (You see, that Master's degree that I didn't get wasn't a complete waste of time!) Horyon was still a bit annoyed when a woman at church pointed out that Maxine doesn't talk as much as other children her age, and maybe something is wrong with her?

Yes, we are starting to personally discover the "mother bear defending her cubs" thing is true.

Back to Maxine. She has been walking for some time now, and running, too. When we visited J. and Sujin after Thanksgiving, Maxine had a great time with Maya and J. Jr. running around their house. It's one of those houses that has hallways and doorways that make a circuit through the house. Round and round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows.

She enjoys shredding paper, tissues and the like, with occasional bits going into the mouth. She seems to have slowed down a bit on putting stuff in her mouth, but it certainly hasn't stopped yet.

She likes it when we read to her. Her favorite book from Horyon is "Boyinda boya!" ("Hide and Seek"). From me, she likes "Goodnight Moon", but her favorite is "Moo, Baa, La la la". I can rattle off the latter without even looking at the pages, but "Goodnight Moon" is not quite memorized. Yet. I'm pretty sure I remember all the stuff in the great green room, but darned if I can get it all in the right order.

She likes tangerines. Give her a tangerine segment and she will carry it around, getting juice all over everything, and slowly eating it. Give her a whole tangerine, and she will peel it herself. Sometimes fairly neatly, sometimes by plunging a thumb deep into it and just tearing it apart.

This Christmas Horyon's parents gave Maxine a singing Satan Claus. It moves around waving a bell while playing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" at an obnoxiously loud volume, even after putting tape over the speaker holes. (That's right. The "Satan" wasn't a typo.) Well, it used to move around. Now the base moves around, but Santa has become somewhat... detached from the whole thing. And so I present for you a brief photo essay entitled, "Santa had better watch out!":

You'd better watch out!

For this little girl!

She'll grab hold of Santa

and rock his little world!Ma-axine is coming, to town!

She totally busted up that Santa, dude.

The New Year has come, ushered in by a kiss from my wife. She stopped working long enough for that, but no champaign. Bummer.

Horyon's sister, Chaeryon, is in town for a while. As soon as she got off the plane, her father suggested coming to meet Maxine. So she did. Yeah, it was after 10 p.m., past Maxine's bedtime. And I'm sure that Chaeryon was tired after all that flying. But hey, this is Maxine we're talking about! How could she wait one more night?

Somehow Chaeryon manages to look better after a transatlantic flight than I look before I start one.

Maxine likes Chaeryon, but doesn't recognize her as "Eemo" (young aunt) yet. We'll keep working on it.

We're down to about two months left in Korea. The visa paperwork has started flowing, though at typical government work pace. We're talking about packing, and deciding what to take and leave. I've asked my Dad to keep an eye out for a minivan that we can buy through him. Horyon started worrying about the whole thing months ago, I have already made serious progress in putting off getting ready, and Maxine is just cruising along, completely unaware that we are about to completely change her world. Isn't that what parents are for?




Jeff said...

Ramji, glad to hear someone got to enjoy new years. Yes, I consider sitting down at a computer typeing your blog an ideal new years activity. I and my wife spent most of the day at the hospital and we have been alternating nights there ever since and will continue to do so through next Tuesday. We had a little accident at the house on Sunday afternoon in which a marble topped table fell onto Amira's feet crushing them. Her right foot is "ok" meaning that nothing was broken but still can not stand on it. Her left foot was not so lucky. Broken in two places and so swollen that the doctor felt that if we did not operate she could lose the use of her foot. Needless to say we chose to have him operate. He says it was a success but I have seen him changing the dressings, it does not look like a success to me. Tomorrow he goes in again to close some of the wounds which will include taking a skin graft from another part of her beatiful little body. Hopefully, the first surgery was a success and the following one tomorrow will not cause her too much pain. I pray that God has given her Doctor the skill he needs to make sure that my hopes are realized and that she will never remember the past few days except when looking at the pictures of her time in the hospital.I also pray that this is the worst thing that I have to go through with my kids.

If you have anything that is top heavy and unstable (!@#$%^&*), get rid of it know or have it secured to a wall so that you, Horyon and Maxine don't need to go through what we are.


Rob Sack said...


My prayers are with you and your family, especially Amira.

And take heart. For us amateurs (non-doctors), post-operations always look like a mess.

I'm sure that her memories of this incident will largely depend on how you handle them. Even adults have some control over how we handle our own memories.

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.