The Swing Set

You know something is important to you when just the mention of it can flush your mind with memories that all make you smile. For me, that is the old brown swing set in my parents back yard. I can’t remember a day that it wasn’t sitting back there and being used by happy children and adults. Just to clarify, this wasn’t one of those big Rainbow swing sets with a canopy, curly slide, and rock climbing wall. My swing set was made with love from my grandpa and for his grandchildren. It had four spots a swing or toy could be attached and one small landing area with a built in wood ladder on either side to get up to it. For awhile, we had two swings, a hanging parallel bar, and rings. Eventually we got a glider and would rotate the other toys around depending on what we wanted to play with. It feels as though through all the changes in my family and life, the swing set has really never changed and I love that. It has too many happy memories built into it that replacing it would be a shame.

I remember before I knew how to swing, my older sister would let me sit on their laps and we pretended to be a “spider” with 8 “legs” flying through the air. Once I learned how to swing on my own I would look over to my brother Matt and wish I was brave enough to jump off in midair like he was. We would swing for hours, Matt and I, trying to get just high enough to snag a leaf off the tree. We kept at it, and as soon we grew tall enough, it became a real sport for us. Mom would sometimes come out and give me an underdog as she pushed me higher and higher. If it was up to me I would have never let her stop. I liked to pretend the glider was my horse and I would compete in races with myself. My brothers and I had fights over who could use which swing or be on the glider, but in the end there was always enough room for all of us to have a place to play.

As I got older and had friends to play with, we usually picked the swing set for our main headquarters. Anything from building bird houses with mud up on the landing, to using the swing set as a jail for our games of flashlight tag. We would try our luck with the balance beam portion of the swing set which consisted of climbing to the top beam and walking across it. Often my attempts were halted by Mom, but Matt somehow got away with it quite often. There was a particularly fun day I recall when several of my church friends were all playing on the swings with me. I was sitting next to Stephanie and we were having a competition to see who could swing the very highest. We never found out who won because just as she had built momentum enough to be going higher than me, the chain on the old swing snapped and she fell. She wasn’t hurt and it turned into a good laugh joking about how her weight had done it. (Stephanie was quite short and petite, so it really was just a joke that she found funny too.)

Time went on and Dad did repairs every now and then. Everything from replacing a rusty old swing, to having us kids repaint it every few years. I hit my teen years and stopped “playing” on the swing set. Instead, anytime I was sad or lonely I went for a long swing and that always helped. I felt inspired when I sat there and thought about life. It was my thinking place of solitude. High school came around I would bring a blanket and sit on the landing to read my Shakespeare play or do my math. I eventually met a guy and I would sit on the landing looking up at the stars as we talked on the phone into the late hours of the night. There was nowhere else I could think of to go at night to be alone and still feel safe. The swing set became my safe haven.

Life has gotten away with me and now I don’t live near my parents house, but the swing set is by no means forgotten. Nieces and nephews, the great grand children of the swing set’s maker, spend countless hours out in the yard on the swings. My Mom bought a used slide to have Dad install and he even added on guard rails. Knowing my family, there will never be a lack of small children who play on the swing set at dad and mom’s house. And I hope that they will treasure it just as much as I did.

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Corndogs

Corndogs

Foot long Corn Dogs with lots of toppings. The corn dogs had veggies mixed into the meat that made them taste like egg rolls. The sticks they were on was incredibly pokey, Paul may or may not have gotten some dirty looks after a woman ran her head into his empty stick.

Day Adventure in Seuol

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet up with 4 other laddies whose husbands work here at Stanley (where we live).  Unfortunately, I am the only civilian living on post because there is no housing here other than barracks.  I am very thankful though for the connection I was able to make through Facebook.   I met up with the laddies on the train and they showed me around a small part of Seoul.  It was incredibly refreshing to be with other woman who talked about crafts, knitting, food, and shopping.  So far being out with Paul’s buddies is all army chit chat.   Seoul is huge and busy, but a fun place to explore.  Here is a few pictures from the day out 🙂

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This is right outside of the train station.  See the Seven 11?  They don’t sell Slurpees 😦  

 

 

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We went into a bakery/coffee shop and everyone got something to share.  I really loved that about these laddies, they split everything so everyone could try each thing.  It made the day really fun.  All the ones that look like round balls are filled with different fruity flavors and cremes and the outside is really gummy.  For the most part I liked them fairly well.  The pink circle with a white heart looked pretty, but it was a rice cake and the texture was really strange.  Both of the tan ones were really dry treats, with a pasty thick inside.  I’m glad we went because I would not have voluntarily bought any of those but now I have a better idea of what things I will like when I go out.  

 

 

 

 

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Next we went in search of a traditional tea house.  Oh my goodness.  I really liked the tea and the experience.  We took our shoes off and sat on pillows.  These were the three hot teas, the red one is mine and it tasted very sweet almost like a syrup.  Along with each cup of tea, they served a small cup of celery tea.  I’m not sure what that’s about, but I liked that too.  

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These two were more of a desert.  The top one was a slushee that tasted “like Christmas” (to quote the other laddies) It had a nutmeg flavor and was so yummy.  The other one was good too but the texture and look was strange and sticky. 

 

 

 

 

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I LOVED the fans and jewelry boxes that were out in the stores.  I found a fan and bought one at another store but don’t yet have a picture of it to show.

 

 

 

 

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These two pictures were from lunch.   That bowl of brown was my meal, it was sesame soup.  Supper gritty and I wasn’t able to each much of it.  I really liked the rice and beans though 🙂  We were at a Vegetarian restaurant but they served a lot of meat look alikes.   I dint like much of what I tried but it was fun none the less 🙂   When we got there, they informed us that next time we shouldn’t come at that time.  Apparently a lot of places have a mid day hour break, I think around 3:30 where they wont serve you.  

 

 

 

 

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After we ate, the laddies helped me find my way back to the train station.  I left the group way before they were calling it quits, but I had this strange anxiety the whole day.  I really missed Paul and wanted nothing more than to be able to see him.  I guess I’m a bit clingy haha.  

Moving In

It’s been about 5 days since I arrived here in Korea and it has been go go go ever since. My plane ride was surprisingly nice. On the first 11 hour flight, they served two meals and I guess they had me down as vegetarian which was wonderful. I got hot veggies, rice, cold veggies, fruits, bread, and Hagen Daz ice cream. ImageImage

It was a Japanese carrier and they served green tea after every meal and the service was really good. For this flight and the next I had a window seat with no one in the middle. It was simply grand to be able to spread out. The second leg of the trip took me from Tokyo to Seoul. I was like a lost sheep trying to find my way to baggage claim. Haha Eventually Paul found me around 2200 hrs and we had a hour ride home in a cab. (BTW Paul made a sign for me that he held up. It said “Beautiful, come over here!” hehehe It was really cute) Needless to say it was a really long night and even though I hardly slept on the plane, I couldn’t sleep at all the first night.

Paul had to work bright and early the next day, so I walked with him out the door so he could show me where to get breakfast. He was running late and forgot to shave so he sent me back for his shaver and on my way to the clinic he met me and informed me I couldn’t return to the room and he had to go hide my stuff. I spent the whole day wondering around the small base and sitting on park benches. Holy Guacamole. I was not a happy camper and I was completely exhausted. One of Paul’s sergeant saw me on the side walk walking past the clinic and called out “Mrs. Reardon! Mrs. Reardon!” I tried to ignore him because I didn’t know what was going on with the room situation and I didn’t want anyone to know I was here. He kept calling to me though and told me go in the clinic and hang out with Paul. Apparently Paul’s shift that day was CQ and he didn’t have very much to do. So I hung out for a few hours and got to meet some people he worked for. We Ordered lunch from the Korean Snack Bar and I was glad to see some options I had tried before when I went out with Maureen.

The room situation is this…Paul’s commanders all gave the okay for me being in Paul’s room with him but the barracks he lives in is owned by a different company. So the approval process was a lot more complicated and basically impossible to get because his commanders didn’t want to file the paperwork. The final solution was to move Paul and I to a base that is about 15 min away, Camp Stanley. Two days ago we had to move all of Paul’s things that were spread between two barracks (both on the 4th floor) to a tiny ambulance that was our transport to the other base. It took forever to do but the hassle was worth it. The new room is on the first floor and yesterday we spent literally all day cleaning it top to bottom and organizing our stuff. I feel a lot less stressed and we are now “settled” The room is technically for a NCO because it only has one twin bed in it, but I’m really glad we got it because the rooms are small enough with one.

Paul has taken me out several time to Ueuijeongbu, the city that both Camp Red Cloud and Camp Stanley are located in. We had pasta together one night, ate at a Beef and Leaf with a few of his buddies, and got FryPan with a group from the clinic.

Beef and Leaf was like going to a Mongolian BBQ where you grab raw food from a buffet and at each table you have a grill that you get to cook your own food at.Image

Paul made me try duck which tastes like ham and I wasn’t fond of it. Also there are these white things that are some sort of cheese, rice and potato mixture that were amazing. I don’t mind going out with his friends but it can be hard because everything that is talked about is Army lingo and references to the clinic and people I don’t know. Its really easy to completely zone out. I try not to, but even for the listener, there is nothing that makes sense to hear.

Tonight we are going going out with a few new people that I haven’t met yet and we are going to a Korean movie, out for dinner, then a few drinks. I’m really excited…mostly for the food…mostly because I have yet to have breakfast and the thought of getting any food sounds exciting to me. LOL

Everything is new and confusing. I feel disoriented most of the time. I cant read anything in the city and I don’t feel comfortable on the base because it is such a different life style to get used to. I’m really thankful that Paul had Thursday and Friday off of work. It would have been a lot harder if he hadn’t had that time to show me around and just hold my hand. I’m very thankful I get to finally be here with him. Its been really nice to wake up to someone hugging me and to get to actually see his face when we talk. Korea will grow on me. I’ve got my husband and that’s whats important to me.    

First Adventure

Yesterday around dinner time, everyone was asleep napping in the house, so I decided to nap too.  I come across one problem though, I didn’t really wake up.  I slept until around nine, had a bite to eat, then went back to sleep.  Terrible idea.  I woke up around 4am and had a terrible time trying to fall back asleep and stay in bed til a decent hour.

This morning I had time to relax and shower and get ready for the day.  My mother-in-law’s car was available for me to use and I went down to Huntington beach to walk on the shore and grab coffee.  Beautiful.  The loud crashing of the waves, the salty smell, and the sun peaking out through the clouds made me feel so calm.  Image

I spent quite awhile window shopping and eventually found an antique shop.  I’ve never really looked around in one before, but I rather liked it.  I found an old “Better Home and Gardens New Cook Book” on a shelf and bought it.  The older cook books don’t use the “fat free” “low carb” ingredients and I think it makes for much tastier food.  

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Just down the road from Paul’s parents is a Wienerschnitzel and I think I may take a walk to go get a hot dog this afternoon 🙂  

Everyday is a day closer to Korea and Paul.  I’m trying to convince myself that the plane ride wont be grueling but I’m not convinced of that.  I almost bought a fairy coloring book and crayons at the store today.   Hopefully my cross stitch project keeps me occupied!  

Also.  This is Caddy.  Paul’s dog that will be coming to Georgia with us 🙂  He is such a sweetheart.

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Goodbyes and Hellos

I have said my goodbyes to all of my siblings. There are many things that feel natural in life. Things that are supposed to happen and when they do, there is sense a peace and growing up. Hugging each brother and sister goodbye was not one of them. There is a special bond between each of us, countless memories and shared experiences. Bonds that deep don’t disappear over night and I know that very soon we will skyping and laughing and all happy doing our own thing apart from each other. I found it strange how almost no other goodbye was like this. It felt completely natural to say goodbye to my friends. None of us went away to college and we never got the end of senior year blues when we parted ways. It’s as if it was a long time coming. Saying farewell to my church was hard, but I am more excited than ever to seek out a new one in Georgia and in Korea, one that Paul and I picked out and to dive head first into fellowship. And to my parents, I know this only goes one way, but they are established. I know that I can come back twice a year and their lives will be just about the same and that the relationship wont have slipped away due to lack of contact, so there is more peace with leaving them. (Although I do love them dearly and they will be missed)

I arrived in California this morning to a cool breeze and some not so hot weather. But I rather like that 🙂 Paul’s mom picked me up from the airport along with his Auntie Dawn. It’s kinda fun to meet more of his family and hear stories about the people that Paul is close to. It helps me to better understand how Paul became who he is. We got breakfast together and I tried to take of some business at the bank, but they said that Paul would have to sign the paper work too. Having a husband in another country makes that not very easy and quite frustrating.

So now I’m just relaxing and my plan is to make the most of my time here in the sun. I’m getting so excited to see my husband. Next week cant come soon enough.    

T-4 Days

This week has been packed, but good.   I’ve spent several days at my sister’s house, including an overnight, I spent time with two of my brothers and my sister-in-law, and had a whole day with to be with my parents.  

Sleeping over at Laura’s house is always very fun for me and the kids.  I was babysitting that night while they were at care group and the kids behaved rather well.  🙂   I brought Alani her early birthday present (My Little Pony toys) and Izzy had a freak out moment, because she doesn’t quite understand why she didn’t get something too.  It was super precious and made me want to run to target and get her something too.  I almost did.  Jackson on the other hand spent  the next hour telling me very nonchalantly how he hasn’t gotten a a new toy in a long time, how he would love to get a new transformer, and how its okay to give him special presents before his birthday too.  Nice try kiddo!   Laura and I got to talk quite a bit and have a little sister time.   And carter did his fair share of climbing on me and showing off his skills at giving raspberries. (I’ll post the video on facebook.)   When Eric and Laura got home, we tried to watch a movie, but both Laura and I passed out 15 min into it.  

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In the morning Jackson came down stairs at 0709 hours and loudly announced “I have to go to the bathroom!” to which I said “okay go potty” in a very mumbled half awake voice.  Hahaha  He can sure make an entrance.  Jackson and I talked for a bit and Alani came down later.  She climbed up and cuddled with me and Gordon (my penguin stuffy).  At that point jackson ran off only to return saying, “ALANI! Mom said you have to go upstairs and let Aunt Beth sleep.”  Too late for that.  Lol  Laura makes coffee in the morning, so I wasn’t groggy for too long 🙂   The day was filled with imagination play time and tons of hugs and cuddles from each kid.  At lunch, I let the kids try my left over Korean food.  Jackson loved the spicy pork and Alani Gobbled up the spicy rice.   That food was almost too spicy for me, so I was very impressed with them.  Oddly enough, when they saw the black bean covered noodles, they said the same thing that Gray girls said in the restaurant “Look! It’s worms!”  It really does hold quite the resemblance.

I’m going to miss the kids so much.  They are always excited to see me and have such big hearts.  Carter’s big eyes and adorable smile, Izzy’s eager hugs and Eskimo kisses, Jackson’s rough play and his intricate make believe, and Alani’s crazy hair tickling my face while we cuddle and her incredibly artsy personality.   And Laura Is my go to for all questions and support.  She does my hair, helps with my projects, feeds me amazing food, shows me how to be a good mama someday, and gives me godly counsel.  She is an amazing sister and its so hard to imagine not having her just a short drive away.   And Eric.  Eric is the best brother-in-law a girl could ask for.  He teases me like a big brother should, but he has also done so many things to serve me over the years.  From letting me borrow his sweater at church when I was cold, to offering his special hostess treats to me, to running out in the snow to wipe off my car and get it warmed up before I leave their house.  Laura has great man for a husband and I am so thankful for him.   

Last night I went to the science museum with John, Jessica and Nate.  We saw the Mayan exhibit and to be honest, I wasn’t very impressed by it.  That being said, getting to spend quality time with my siblings made the trip very enjoyable…until Nate told me to eat this thick big slice of jalapeno.  Then I wasn’t having fun.   What are big brothers for, right?  Just about everything that was interactive at the museum was turned into a competition.  We competed for lowest blood pressure (I won hehe), doing math “the maya way,” generating electricity on a bike, and building block towers.  There were lots of laughs and just happy memories that were made. 

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Today I spent the day with My mom and Dad.  We went shopping, had coffee at the Erickson’s new coffee shop, Keen Eye, had burgers at Shanty town, went for a walk in the woods, went to the mall, then made dinner together.  I haven’t had that much time with both mom and dad in a very long time and it was great.  I really had a great day. 

UPDATE: Paul got the living situation all worked out!  He is moving to a different building to get a new room.  The room shares a bathroom with another guys room and I don’t know how I feel that, but it’s really the only option we have.  So, I’m super excited to see Paul.  I’m sad to leave MN, but the closer it gets, the more happy my emotions are to just be with my Love and to have the long distance part of marriage behind us.  At least for now.