Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hit the Ground Running

We've been in South Korea three weeks now!  In some ways, it feels like three years. So much learning and adapting to big changes has happened.  And in other ways, I find myself thinking, Three weeks already?  

I think the only way to semi-cohesively talk about our time here so far is in a bullet point post.  I don't love doing it this way, but hopefully I will give you a rough idea of our early days here, so I can talk more in detail in the upcoming posts.  So here goes!

-- Getting here.  Not gonna lie: It was painful.  I ended up putting a grand total of over 6,000 miles on my rental car!  I'd driven through thunderstorms, in steep mountain ranges, through deserts, along the coast, in crazy L.A. traffic... And two hours before I dropped it off, a rock hit the windshield!  Can you believe it?!  I was so stressed out.  I wanted to cry.  Actually, no, I did cry.  I think it ended up not being an issue, but by the time I got the car turned in and was at our hotel, my whole body was shaking from a nasty mix of adrenaline and fatigue.  Annalee had gotten just enough of a late nap that she didn't want to go to sleep until about 11:20, and then she and I didn't sleep soundly at all.  

So we were on a 11.5 hour trans-Pacific flight with a cranky, overtired baby.

It did not go well.  

She slept maybe three hours. I still don't understand the superhuman power that enabled this feat.  Most of the passengers around us were nice about it.  One guy in front of me kept turning around to mad dog us every time she cried (which was often), and Matt said that he could hear a couple in their young twenties talking about us saying, "Like, why would anyone bring a baby on an international flight?"

(By the way, please read that in a Valley Girl accent. It seems most appropriate.)

One of my friends here suggested that we tell them, "Because she isn't a very good swimmer. DUH."  That made me laugh.  I guess stupid people are just going to show how stupid they really are sooner or later.  It was definitely an exercise for me to not be so much of a people-pleaser.  I did my best, and all I can say is, if you're on a flight with an angry baby, please show kindness to the poor parents. 

We got to Tokyo and had an over-five-hour layover.  When we landed, it was 10 pm California time.  It was sort of like (I imagine) running a marathon and then having to do a half-marathon right after.  Would you believe Annalee was awake the entire time?!  I walked through the airport like a zombie while Matt and the rest of the kids took catnaps.

She would not sleep, and she would not have anyone else.  If you knew what a sweet, generally good-natured baby she usually is, you would understand how I just so badly wanted to lie down in the middle of the floor and cry.

But Lilly and Jayna joined me for some of it, and we found pretty cool things to see, including amazing origami displays.  I can't even make a crane, so I was blown away.

We finally boarded the flight to Busan,
and as we were boarding, Annalee fell asleep.!!!!! Since it was only 1.5 hours with dinner served, I thought I'd stay awake. I was kind of just wired and a little nutty by that point -- more so than normal, anyway.  But instead, I fell asleep hard, like someone had hit me over the head.  I probably looked just like Lilly and Wyatt,
but thankfully there is no photograph, because I was probably snoring and/ or drooling on myself.

-- When we were going through the immigration passport check, I had to laugh.  The man directing us to where we needed to go saw us and said, "Too many!"  We looked at each other a little panicked.  I mean, yes, I was afraid someone would say this at some point, but at the passport desk?!  Too soon!!  But because we were coming in on military orders, we all had to be with Matt, so we ignored him.  It was fine, but the man at the desk was definitely surprised as he counted us up.

Also, they took a picture of me and Jayna at that point.  I guess it's an ID picture.  It would be safe to say that is probably one of the worst pictures of me ever. 

-- It was so, SO nice to be picked up at the airport by the man my husband replaced. He had brought a 9-seater van AND a little truck for us and all our suitcases.  We got to our hotel and found that it was a nice comfortably-sized apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a WASHING MACHINE.  The kitchen had been stocked.  I mean, at the end of 24 hours of travel, that's the kind of thing that just makes you happy cry.

Plus,it has a beautiful view.

-- The weather when we arrived was incredibly hot and humid.  I'm talking heat advisory weather.  Poor Wyatt just could not deal.  Every time we walked more than ten steps out of the hotel, he'd start crying.  Spoiled by Hawaii.  It stayed that way until a week ago when a storm came through, and I'm not kidding, overnight, the temperatures dropped by at least 20 degrees.  It was nice, but kind of scary too because we don't have our household goods yet that contain the Rubbermaid boxes of sweaters and coats we last used when we lived in Washington state.  It's warmed up some again, but not as hot as it was.  Last week it was so windy, I'm not even exaggerating a little when I say that as I left my friend's apartment building, my sunglasses were blown off my face and the peplum t-shirt I was wearing blew up like Marilyn Monroe's skirt around my armpits.  It was so embarrassing, and now I can give you one more reason for wearing a pretty bra.  This week has been (thankfully) calm winds and warm, if not sticky, weather.  I'm hoping it just stays nice like it is right now for a while.

-- We hit the ground running.  Honestly, I think that phrase was made up just to describe our first week here.  I'm so thankful that Matt was able to change our tickets to come here 48 hours sooner because he had a day to "recover".  Initially, he was going to have to go straight to work the day after we arrived. That day ended up being a mostly fruitless hunt for an ATM that would take our card, plus a jetlag nap.  If you've ever had jetlag, you know how awful that is -- that feeling like you're in a coma and trying to get out of it. 

Which I say without ever having been in coma, and hoping never to be in one.  It's just... Jetlag naps are awful.

That first week, Matt went to work, and it was Korean Independence Day, so there was no school.  We were shown some ropes(like grocery shopping) by one of the friends I'd made on Facebook prior to arriving here.  Tuesday we took the kids to school to get registered, and Wednesday they started classes.
Wednesday night, I viewed the first apartments we were considering.  Thursday was the Hail & Farewell for our command, where Matt and I were welcomed and the outgoing commanding officer was celebrated.  (He definitely left some big shoes to fill!). Friday was Matt's Change-of-Command ceremony,
which for me, followed a lovely coffee where I met some of the wonderful military spouses who are also stationed here.  

-- Funny story (now that it's over).  I mailed two boxes from Hawaii the day before we left.  They contained, among other important things, the dress I planned to wear for Change of Command and the shoes.  We got here, and they were nowhere to be found.  I knew they'd arrived, but... Where were they?  No one had any idea.  I went looking for a replacement dress -- couldn't find anything.  Fortunately, several of the women here volunteered to loan me dresses, so if I had to I could do that, but no one else, it seemed, had size 7.5 feet like me to loan me a pair of heels.  And literally, the only shoes I had were a pair of flip-flops, some really scuffed ballet flats , my running shoes, and a pair of Chacos (these -- so, cuter than regular Chacos, but still). 

So I went shopping... Turns out 7.5 is just this side of Officially Ginormous in South Korea.  I could not find a single pair that fit.  Everywhere I went, the salesperson said, "Order.  We order."  But there was no time to order!  The ceremony was the next day!  Annalee was over it and letting everyone know, and I was picturing myself in my nicest outfit hat I had with me, which was not that nice, and imagining with growing horror (as we women tend to do) everyone thinking, That poor man, married to such a slob.

BUT, just in the nick of time... my boxes were found in a warehouse and delivered to me Thursday night.  WHEW!!!

-- I'm pretty sure I couldn't have survived that first week without my parents.  When I told them our schedule, they asked, "Do you want us there?"  Um, YES!!!  As it turned out, my mom and dad were traveling in Asia, and my mom had just enough downtime to be here when we arrived and Dad joined in the middle of the week.  They were able to watch Annalee during the CoC, and (HUGE answer to prayer!!) she even took a 3-hour nap!!  She NEVER takes 3-hour naps!!!

-- So... It was such a whirlwind, I can't even tell you.
I have been so exhausted, I've fallen asleep by 9 pm most evenings, and I've taken a lot of Tylenol and Motrin for headaches.  The weekends have been rainy, which has been good for having an excuse to catch up on much-needed sleep.

But through it all, I have found myself grateful for answered prayers and for wonderful people who have stepped in just when I thought I was going to lose my mind.  I think if these past few weeks have taught me anything, it's the value of People Who Are Just Plain Nice.  No superhero capes needed -- just kindness.  
Like the guy at the rental car place who checked my car in, and as I rather tearfully told him the story of The Rock and My Windshield, expressed sympathy... With a lot of potty words, but still.  Sympathy.  (The potty words just showed that he really got it.) ('Cause I was sure thinking them, if not saying them too.)
And the brand new friend who took me grocery and school supply shopping.  
And the other brand new friends who offered dresses for the Change of Command, and gave me chocolates and a selfie stick (!!) for my birthday, which was barely a week after our arrival, and loaned me a stroller because mine is still in my household goods.  
And the kids' vice principal who hasn't acted at all weirded out about their homeschooling, but in fact, has been incredibly supportive and helpful.  
And so many of you!  Thanks to everyone who has been praying or commenting on Facebook and Instagram and sending notes of encouragement.  It truly means more than I can possibly say.  

I'll be back soon with more of the story. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. You are incredible! Your gifts are limitless! Pain and peace; chaos and charm; panic and pleasant people and a HUGE WONDERFUL GOD who was in the middle of your " story" - one sentence or word at a time! Praying for you..


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