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Monday, January 24, 2011

16 hours and change...

We are almost ready to go, in the sense that we could ever truly be completely ready.  Most everything is packed, we are taking our delivery bags to be delivered tomorrow (4 bags, 80 lbs each, $600+ from the UPS store in Lawrence to our home in Pusan), and we are going back to Lawrence in the morning to pick up a few things we accidentally left behind.

Saturday we (Dad, Horyon and myself) spent most of the day at the house in Lawrence, trying to sort out what we need to bring.  We left a ton of stuff for Mom and Dad to go through.  I am so grateful to them for how they've handled it.  We dither about what to bring and what to store in their basement, and if I had a dollar for every time Dad said something along the lines of, "If it can be easily replaced at a future date, get rid of it, only bring what you absolutely need, and throw away some of this crap," I could afford to just put it all in storage.

Props to Mom for staying home with the kids all day.  Granted, she had help from the 10-year-old girl to whom she gives painting lessons, and Bob and Diane came in the afternoon, and Quinten took a 2-hour nap (rare these days), but she was still here with the kids.

Today we went to Leavenworth First Christian Church.  Another tough round of goodbyes, though not as heart-wrenching as last week at Lawrence F.C.C.  The family went out to lunch at the China Buffet (let me tell you, we are going to miss Chinese buffets in Korea): Us, Mom and Dad, Bob and Diane, Doug, Tom and Debbie and Grandma Mary Lou.  She gave me a special present: Grandpa's pen knife.  A wonderful remembrance, as long as I don't lose it.

At home Aunt Becky and Uncle Don came for one last visit.  We had a great time, and Horyon had a three-hour nap.  Quinten got two.  I got nothin', and now I'm writing on the Roblog.

And tomorrow (well, it's today already) we fly.

I don't exactly have doubts about this move, but I am sad.  We really built a home here in less than four years, and now we're leaving it all behind.  Don't get me wrong, I will be very happy once the house has sold.  I am relieved to no longer have to worry about upkeep on cars which I don't understand.  And going back to a country with a health care system that works for almost everyone, instead of just for rich and/or healthy people is a serious load off of my mind.  And two full paychecks?  plus overtime? plus private lessons?  I would be lying if I told you I wasn't looking forward to the combination of job satisfaction and making money.

But my last 10 years in Korea never saw a church family like the one we are leaving here.  In Korea it will never be as easy to buy the groceries I prefer as here.  My parents won't be there, but they will try to visit in a year or so.

I will try to keep you all updated.  I'm writing from my Dad's computer, so no pictures tonight.  I will try to catch up as soon as I can after we arrive in Pusan.

Peace,                    Rob

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Don't Want You to Die, Daddy.

Horyon and I decided a long time ago that we were going to be honest with Maxine about death and dying.  We talked about my grandfather after he passed away three years ago, and she seemed to understand as well as one can expect a two-year-old to understand.  Since then she has learned a lot, and the other day in the car on the way home from preschool she cried to me, "I don't want you to die, Daddy!"

I can't remember the last time I wanted so badly to lie.  I wanted to stop the car, hold her in my arms, and tell her that I would not die, that I would always be there for her.  I just wanted her to feel better, and to be reassured, and I wanted with all of my heart for it to be true.

Another example of why it is a good idea to make big decisions before the pressure hits.

I did my best to reassure her that I would probably not die soon.  I talked with her about Heaven, and how we would be there together.

She was not in the mood for it.  "I don't want to go to Heaven!" she cried.  "I want to stay here!  I don't want to move to Korea!"

Don't they look like they're ready to move?
Aha.  There it is.  As painful as it is for me and Horyon to tear up our lives, at least we've been through it before.  Maxine was too young when we moved here, and doesn't remember it at all.  Now we are selling our life here, bit by bit.  When we sold her dresser she cried for five minutes.  "I want to keep my stuff!  I love my stuff!"  I am hoping that going through this now will make her better able to part with stuff later in life, but it is absolutely no fun.

Earlier this week she figured out that we would be leaving this house and not coming back.  She hugged the wall, crying, and said, "I don't want to leave this house!  I love this house!"

I don't even want to contemplate telling her that she will not see Grandpa and Grandma for a long time.

Later Horyon told me that Maxine had watched a video earlier in the day in which a character had died, and it seems that it connected for the first time.  A separation that lasts forever.  An end to something that seemed to be eternal.

I tell myself that this is actually building trust with Maxine, that she is learning to believe what I tell her.  I know in my head that I am helping her, but can be hard to believe.  Fortunately, it works in the short term as well.  For example:

In November we all got flu shots, and Maxine did not do so well.  She screamed.  She kicked.  A nurse had to help me hold her down while she got the shot, and it bled afterwords because her blood pressure was sky high.  It hurt her arm for a few days, because we couldn't hold her completely still, even after seeing Mommy and Daddy take their shots.

Then last week we had to get her last three immunization shots.  It had been two months, which is usually an eternity for Maxine, but she remembered the flu shot like it was yesterday.  We didn't tell her where we were going when we got in the car, but eventually we had to.  The tears started, and I started a pep talk:

I reminded Maxine why her flu shot hurt so much, and talked about how we could avoid it this time.  I made her promise, multiple times, pinky promise, that she would look at me, not the nurse during the shot. We talked about the antibody game she played on with Sid the Science Kid.  We talked about how being healthy makes you less likely to die.  We talked about silly things, and our favorite songs.  And when it was time she sat on my lap and cried, but she didn't scream or kick or thrash.  She did her best to look at my face during the shot, as I reminded her that she had promised to look at me.  And when she found that it would be one shot in the left arm and two in the right, the tears started to seriously flow.

But she kept her eyes on mine, and soon it was over.  Soon she was just sniffly, rather than outright crying.  She said "thank you" to the nurse and receptionist as I carried her out.  She let me carry her out, understanding that there was a reason for the pain I had put her through.  And then we went to Orange Leaf and got ice cream, even though it was after 5:30 and getting close to dinner time.  There were smiles and laughs, and she said that her arm hurt less than before.

Maybe trust only grows out of tears.  Maybe you can't really believe in someone until you've been through some kind of hell with them.  If that is the case, then this move to Korea may be an opportunity to build my family, and strengthen us.

I don't think I will be able to convince Maxine that dying is not a big deal, because it is still a big deal to me.  When she asked me if I was going to die someday and I said yes, I felt okay.  But when she asked if great-grandma was going to die, it was a good thing that she was in the back seat where she couldn't see my tears as I said yes, someday she would.

At this point, I am just grateful that Quinten is too young to understand what is going on.  Yeah, he's going to have and inflict a miserable 24 hours on everyone within earshot, but then it will be over for him.  The new faces and places will be confusing at first, but Mommy, Daddy and Maxine will be there, so he will settle down quickly.  And hopefully get over the jet-lag quickly as well.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Quinten Wasn't Finished...

If you don't like scatological posts, or if the previous post didn't do much for you, you might want to skip this one.

As if he thought we were unimpressed with his technicolor yawns (see Splatty New Year), Quinten followed up Saturday night's performance by blowing out the other end Sunday night.

For those of you who were wondering, yes, it is possible to fill a diaper to overflowing in one, foul shot.

However, Horyon, who is always looking on the bright side of things, pointed out that the smell of poo is less nauseating than the smell of upchuck.  To me, "the glass is half full" is only a positive if the contents of the glass are not violations of the laws of nature.

At least I did not spend the night in the same room with Quinten, and we are hoping he feels better today.  If not, we will be trying to get into the clinic on short notice, with more stool sample than they can handle.

Just to make clear, it is not my intention to entertain anyone with this little gem.  It's just here to jog my memory later, when my brain has had the good sense to blank out the past few days.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Splatty New Year!

On New Year's Day, someone in the Sack household must have overdone it, because there was a serious amount of chunks blown during the first full night of 2011.

Enough suspense: it was Quinten.  We have no idea what happened.  He at the same thing for dinner (fish and rice) as Maxine and her friend, Chae-eun, both of whom are just fine.  Quinten himself has been fine today, including a three hour nap, but last night...

Half-way through his bottle he spit up.  He only takes one bottle per day now, as part of the bed-time routine.  We're hoping that will help us on the long trip (which is only three weeks away!).  We both got a change of clothes, and while he was playing with Horyon, he did some serious regurgitating.  We cleaned him up, and I put him in his play pen to sleep.  After a very short time, he coughed, blowing out his binky like a cork in a champagne bottle full of barf.

Another clean-up, and we decided that I would sleep with Quinten in Maxine's bed.  That way maybe I could catch him before he made a mess.  The strategy worked two or three times in the night.  Once loud enough for Horyon to come assist.  I think that after that he didn't have anything left to hurl.  We had been giving him sips of water, but not too much.  The poor kid was so tired that he couldn't even put up a fight against sleeping.  I rocked him gently, sitting up on my lap, wrapped in a blanket.  I am better at ignoring the smell of sickness than Horyon, and he tends to get excited when she's around, so I usually get night duty. 

By morning he seemed to be okay.  He drank some water, and had some eggs.  Horyon and I exchanged words over breakfast which caused Maxine to ask, "Are you guys fighting?"  Pretty rough morning.  She had to go to work at noon, and we agreed that I should stay home with Quinten.  Fortunately, we have friends at church who could take care of Maxine, so Horyon dropped Maxine off at church in time for Sunday School, then went to do some shopping and eat before work.

Quinten seemed fine.  Didn't eat as much eggs as usual for breakfast, but he later ate a whole banana.  Through the whole thing he never had a fever, and in the morning he had a regular, solid poop in his diaper.  I don't think he was really sick.  Looking back, I had fed him dinner without feeding myself.  Maybe I just put too much food in him.  He usually feeds himself, and he is not that fast, so he doesn't eat as much.  And after dinner Maxine had some pistachios (she tends to call them "statues", how cute is that?) which she shared with her little brother.  Then he had warm milk.  Perhaps rice, fish, pistachios and milk just don't mix well in toddler tummies.  Not sure they would mix well in mine.

At any rate, Quinten had a three hour nap this afternoon, and got to bed on time this evening, so I think we are back to normal.  For the next three weeks, anyway.

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.