Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Just the Little Things

It's tough to know where to start when I'm posting for the first time in three weeks.  So I guess I should begin with my sinuses.

I got yet another cold, and it was a bad one -- the kind that makes you want to lie in bed while someone spoon-feeds you broth and bathes your forehead.  But mamas ain't got time (or volunteers) for that, and a few days later, I was feeling mostly better except for my sinuses.  By the end of that week, my ears started hurting, but I thought it was just because of my sinus pain.  But by Monday, coincidentally Wyatt's fifth birthday, I was in so much pain I needed to see a doctor.

Let me preface this by saying, I kind of have to think I'm at death's door to go to a doctor anyway.  Times I have gone to the doctor for anything that wasn't pregnancy- or birth-related in the past few years are when I was coughing up blood after the flu (although that was kind of pregnancy-related because it was when I was pregnant with Annalee) and when I had a nasty wound that got infected.  Both times I was prescribed antibiotics, and I didn't take them either time because I was also given another medicine or treatment that worked just as well.  The last time I was on antibiotics, I was also hospitalized for three days.

So for me to go to the doctor and beg for antibiotics -- well, that should say a lot.  Of course, it ended up being a much bigger ordeal than I could have imagined, but a sweet friend of mine took me to the hospital that I took Wyatt to before  waited with me the entire time, and then drove me home. By the time I got back, I was in so much horrible pain from my ear, and come to find out, adult ear infections make you insanely nauseous.  I managed not to throw up all over my friend's car, but that night was just terrible and one I don't care to repeat any time soon.  

So that was not fun.  Recovery has been slow-going, and I still can't hear right out of my left ear.  I kind of failed at Halloween-ness this year.  Annalee had a fever, and I still didn't have much energy.  These are my only pictures.  

I didn't dress Annalee up at all.  I know, epic Mom Fail.

Then there was this week.  Matt went back to the States for meetings, and I tried not to be jealous of the food he was eating or the fact that he got to go to Target.  Actually, to clarify, I made him go to Target.  As soon as I found out he was bound for the homeland, I started writing a list.  Is that terrible of me?

Fortunately it was a short trip, but it coincided with parent-teacher conferences at the school. I went to four hours of conferences and still didn't see all the teachers.  The weekend was pretty good -- the weather was lovely, and we walked around a part of Busan that we hadn't yet explored.  On Sunday, though, a certain member of the family (whose name rhymes with "riot") clogged up one toilet with overzealous use of toilet paper.  We only have two toilets here, and even with Matt gone and Annalee in diapers, a one-to-five toilet ratio is not a particularly good one.  The Target/ Walmart-ish store right nearby was closed at the time, so I went to the convenience store downstairs to see if they had any toilet plungers.

I honestly believe they did at one time carry them.  Because I could swear I saw them and went, "You're probably going to need one of those some day."  They did have a bottle of Draino-like stuff, but I wasn't sure I should buy it or if, in fact, it was for toilets since the label was all in Korean.  So despite the fact that they sell all kinds of things at that store -- including but not limited to: pantyhose, sewing kits, socks, underwear, all kinds of personal items (if you know what I mean), quail eggs, soy milk, squid-flavored potato chips, and of course, kimchi -- I walked out sans toilet plunger.  

I did, however, purchase a bottle of my favorite lime-flavored sparkling water.  Because I thought it would be weird if I stared at the bottle of maybe-Draino for ten minutes then walked out empty-handed.  

So then I had to come upstairs and face my Waterloo.  I -- well, it's hard to talk about as I'm still twitching a little. I had to fashion my own plunger.  It involved lots of plastic bags and disposable gloves and three different plastic cups and my arm and wrist hurting.  Thankfully, I do not have a strong gag reflex.  No siree, Bob, not any more.  Motherhood has beaten that out of me.  And all those plastic cups failed, but do you know what worked? (As in, the toilet could be used for liquid issues...) The plastic bottle that my sparkling water had come in!  So my trip to the convenience store was not in vain after all!!!!

Anyway.  Can we please talk a little about this?  Surely I'm not the only one who has had to MacGyver a toilet plunger out of random articles from around the house?!  

Also, don't worry if you're coming over here or seeing me in person any time soon.  Everything was thrown away (well, recycled, that's another story), and I bathed several times in Clorox.  


Kind of.

But yesterday, with Matt still not home, the same little person mentioned above was using our other toilet, when he came running up to me crying, and said, "Mom!  I did something!  We need a stronger toilet!"  

That can't be good, I thought, and went into my bathroom to find most of the new roll of toilet paper in the toilet.  The only reason anyone would need that much would be if they were T.P.-ing a house.  

But can I tell you?  As soon as I saw that, and paired what I saw with what he was saying, I started to laugh so hard.  Yes, son, yes.  You did do something.  But no, I don't think a "strong" enough toilet exists.  Lots of gloves and garbage bags and fishing the toilet paper out of the toilet because I felt like plunging it would just create more problems further down the road... That toilet seems to be working fine.

Knock on wood.

Anyway, all this got me to thinking -- as it does when you're plunging toilets with plastic bottles, and life looks pretty bleak.  First off, I realized I'm not good at talking about the things that are wrong.  I finally put a reference to this on Facebook late that night only because I decided it was funny enough.  But it's hard to talk about things I'm not doing well at, the things I don't know, or everything about my life that's messy and frustrating.  I want to be honest, but I'm scared of being judged.  I end up not writing about hard times in the thick of things because I worry that people will think I'm being too negative.  And I'm starting to realize that there is so much I will do wrong at any given time, or feel scared about, if I wait to share only "what I've learned", I might wait too long.  

So here I am, not just plunging toilets with plastic bottles in bags, but telling you too, that while I really do like Korea, I'm ready for things to get easier.  I'm tired of feeling like we are sick all the time because usually we're a mostly-healthy bunch.  I'm still sad for my kids for having to leave their friends in Hawaii.  I'm wishing I could make best friends for them here.  Wyatt started crying hard tonight sort of out of the blue and said, "Our home was so, so good!  I just want to go back."  My heart hurt so bad for him that I felt kind of like I was caving in, and I fought back my own tears until he was asleep.  Sorry, but that's my real life.

But also... it's all about the little things, right?  One square of toilet paper is a little thing.  But when it piles up with a bunch of those other little squares it stops everything and becomes overwhelming.   Those little things need to be paid attention to before they become a problem.

And the flip side of that is the incredible joy and gratitude that comes from the good little things.  Some of what we sent into storage before moving here was, accidentally, our Halloween and fall decor.  And while we brought American fans over to use with transformers, we really wanted ones that we could plug in.  (I use fans even now to dry our laundry because I don't have a dryer.) But with temperatures dropping, they weren't selling fans any more by the time we moved in.  And also, our usual fifth-birthday present for our kids is a bike.  But we didn't get one for Wyatt this year because we weren't sure he would have enough chances to use it to make a purchase worth the money.

On Halloween, a woman in my building whom I've only met a couple times texted me out of the blue and asked if I wanted some of the things she was getting rid of when she moves in a couple weeks. They were: Halloween decorations, two Korean-plug fans, and a bike.  She called it "a little girl bike" in her text, but then added, "It has Lightning McQueen on it."  I have to say, I'm not sure what makes it a "girl bike" -- I don't think it looks girly at all, and the bottom line is, Wyatt loves it.  

I think about my precious new friend who helped me so much the day I had to go to the doctor for my ear.  She had no reason to do it, and I'm sure it wasn't her idea of fun, but I'm in awe of her kindness.  

And those four hours of parent-teacher conferences the other day.  I was kind of dreading them, but I ended up walking out of the school feeling grateful because I realized how most of the teachers seemed to genuinely care about my kids not just as students but as people.  It turns out my children don't seem to be scarred by homeschooling and are in fact doing pretty well.

So I guess that's what this post is about -- the little things.  The messy, stinky, ugly, little things that we need to acknowledge as being hard before they become huge problems.  And the good, kind, sweet little things, seeing them fully for what they are, and being grateful.  The little things like asking people how they are and then waiting to hear the honest answer, or just making eye contact and giving a genuine smile when you say hi.  Because sometimes I think it's "just the little things" actually have the power to break us and shut everything down, but they also have the power to make us better.


  1. You are amazing! We all have had similar frustrating things happen in motherhood and just the unexpected in life but you write so profound and humorous and real that you are truly a gift with a beautiful servant's heart, ending the blog with gratitude to God! Bless you!


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