Link

It has been almost a month since we moved to Seoul. We have started getting used to using public transportation (it’s really easy and reliable), eaten all kinds of good food, tried (and still trying!) to adjust to the humidity and heat and walking and we’re debating over getting a car. Should we, should we not?? 

  
Things we like…

Jacob–the orange juice and frozen chocolate covered pineapple pieces

Julianna–playing

Caleb–trying new food (street food, preferably)

Tonya–walking around the city

Sean–bubble tea

Things that we need a little longer to get used to…

The complicated recycling system, extreme humidity, not speaking Korean. (yet!)

We have started orientation for school–students start next Monday! I’m excited but a little sad to see the summer end. But I’m not going to lie…this summer has not been very restful!;)

This is a super short video of us in Namdaemun, an area of the city with lots of shopping. Stores and street vendors galore. But first, a picture of Sean thinking about how he would rather have a bubble tea than the coffee he just ordered…

    
Seriously.


Ok, you can’t see a lot past my face– I’ll do better next time. Maybe.  (Disclaimer: the video plays in my edit/preview screen. If it won’t play for you, I’ll post it separately.)   Next update will include a few pictures (or a tour!) of our apartment. Because, apparently, I need more than 3 weeks to set it up! Don’t judge.

All is well with the Garricks-hope the same is true for you.

Suburbs to City

Image

We have been in South Korea for over 2 weeks and are over jet lag. That makes everything better! We have walked our neighborhood and still not found all of the short cuts which can easily turn into a separate uphill adventure all of its own. Did I say uphill? Uphill. 

These stairs are a great shortcut to the school!

  
We live in a small complex near several of the YISS teachers. That’s helpful since some have been here a while. -I have a porch, y’all! If you know me at all, you know this is a big deal. Porches are a thing for me. I *think* we live in Kyungridan. I think. I could be a little off because things are different here, ok?!  I’ve seen different spellings, too. Just go with it.  We live behind the busy Itaewon strip, up the mountain. Up. Uphill. Way up the hill. 

 Kids are doing well. I started orientation this week so I’m happy to get into my routine, get my classroom in order, go to the teacher supply store next week.  School starts soon! I’m sure my kids are just as excited as I am!

There is so much good food to try. From traditional Korean to American fast food to street food, which is also very good. We had Thai food this week and it was delish! Spicy but good. The kids have been great about trying new foods so our walks usually take us to a restaurant. Coincidence? Nahhh. 

  
We’re trying to learn Korean. I can almost say “turn right”! But I can definitely point and wave my hands so that’s all very helpful in a taxi. I’m sure the drivers love to see me! We say thank you about 10x so I’m hoping they appreciate that while I learn their language! -It’s monsoon season which has meant lots of clouds with almost daily showers. We have been caught in the rain without enough umbrellas and haven been given an umbrella by someone. This has happened twice now! So nice. It has also been slightly cooler which is nice. The humidity here is killer and I’m from the Deep South! We’re a hot sweaty mess every time we step outside. Well, mainly just me and Jacob and Julianna. For whatever reason, Sean and Caleb stay human  when we go outside while the rest of us melt. But believe it or not, summer is still my favorite season.  Just grab a water and let’s go! 

 We’ll start going to touristy stuff soon but for now we’re getting to know our neighborhood and learning how to live here. In a big city. It’s an adjustment but a good one.

Link

It’s been a busy summer! After packing, selling, donating and chunking our excessive junk we’ve accumulated, we said goodbye to our home in Southaven this week. After 7 years, there may have been a tear or two.  It’s bittersweet leaving church/school/community/friends—familiarity!  The boys have been at Greenbrook, SIS, SMS and DC, making great friends along the way! We can’t forget Julianna loves her Purple Bear buddies.The next few days will be spent with family in Mobile then off to Seoul. We’ll be on an aeroplane according to Julianna– thanks, Peppa Pig! 

We loved living in Mississippi (<— who knew an Alabama girl would say that?!) and have great friends and memories there. It’s hard leaving but it’s also exciting to move on. I’ve learned over the years that you can feel “all the feels” at the same time! 

Happy 4th of July, everyone! If you find yourself in South Korea, we’ll have coffee…or bubble tea:)

Link

This is a quick update of our first week in SK. 

So far we have

lugged our stuff all over, tried new foods, explored and gotten lost, greatly surpassed our daily 10k recommended steps, gotten over the hump of jetlag, started to like Korean coffee–(so many options!), experienced lots of firsts…

had to change destinations in a taxi to somewhere we could say, double paid a taxi driver (cash and card swiped by 2 of us at the same time!-oops!), heated chicken strips that I thought were precooked but were not (surprise!), not been able to find canned veggies at the store, except corn, obviously;) <–corn is big here…bought grapes that were actually scuppernongs…and the list goes on!

We are {slowly} settling in and look forward to more adventures. Probably with lots of hills. 

   
  

       

**silliness, pedestrian bridge, taxi queue (<–you wait in line), 7 Eleven, mandu, Korean restaurant**

Speaking of Korea…

Let’s discuss our upcoming move to Seoul. I’ve had a lot of questions and would love to answer them so you can have a better picture of where we will be living and working.
Seoul is in South Korea and is considered a very safe place to live. It is not a 3rd world country, but is actually very advanced and has “really fast internet!” I’ll let you guess who in the family is excited about that. We can keep in touch with Facebook, email, Skype, etc. Right now, Seoul is 14 hours ahead of Mississippi. (So completely opposite night/day.) We will live in an apartment in Seoul and may or may not buy a car after we get there. Their public transportation is very safe and reliable so we can take our time deciding.
Yongsan International School is a private school, K-12. The school operates in English. We still plan on learning Korean to better function in the community. (At least some!) Why move overseas if you aren’t going to attempt to learn the language? That’s no fun! Caleb has made the most progress, so far.
I will be teaching students who have needs in learning English and some form of academic assistance. I’m really looking forward to it. Caleb and Jacob are glad I’ll be at the middle school, but for different reasons! Caleb is starting high school…
Sean will be the HR Manager. He is currently in Seoul trying to find an apartment. (Oh, and to start his new job!)
We look forward to getting to know Korea. It’s a beautiful country!
Once you get to LA, Detroit, etc., you can be in Seoul in a quick 14 hours! Nothing to it! So, if you’re ever in the area, stop by!

IMG_6831.JPG

IMG_7614.JPG

Autism, You Say?

It’s April and that means it’s Autism Awareness month!! When we heard “he has Autism” we were scared. And sad. And angry. We thought his brother would be short changed. We thought he was being short changed.
But now we know….

Autism must mean

Funny.
Smart.
Caring.
Witty.
Compassionate.
Truth telling.
Good dancer.
Gamer.
Avid reader.
Beautiful eyes.
Brother.
Beloved.

Just a part. Not the whole.

Link

So, we went to Orange Beach for a few days. It was sunny for 2 whole days!! I’ve had juuusst about all I can take of these dreary days.
It’s funny having a little one that loves running crazy outside and getting dirty. Jacob avoided all dirt and sand when he was younger….and anything else that “felt weird.” Julianna is all in, everyday! People ask if she’s always energetic. The answer is yes. Energetic, talkative, inquisitive…. all day, everyday!
Anyway, we flew a kite, dipped our toes in the {freezing!} water and relaxed. And ate a lot.

Daddy’s girl.

IMG_4278.JPGCan you see their names?? Squint really hard.

IMG_4308.JPG3 of my faves.

IMG_4247.JPG

Welcoming The New Year!

My kids are almost 14, 11 and almost 5. I’m not sure how that happened so fast! Some days I feel like that makes me old. But, sometimes I just love being their mom and don’t think about my age. That’s my New Year’s resolution– to embrace the moments more…and there are so many to embrace! How many blessings do we miss out on by being preoccupied with the daily stuff or other people’s stuff? Ahhhh….the joys of being 40ish. I’m caring less and less about the silly stuff and more about substance. Being kind, loving my neighbor, being a good wife and mom. Enjoying my days….my family, my job, my church, my friends. Focusing on all of the good things leaves very little time for the worries and stuff that can quickly become all consuming.
So, that is my 2015 resolution! Well, that and drinking more water…

Happy New Year to you and yours!

IMG_2401.JPG

I alone cannot change the world, but I can
cast a stone across the waters to create many
ripples. –Mother Teresa

Thankful

November is half way over and I’m just getting around to a “thankful” post…

I am thankful for my family.  They’re my faves!

Sean, my favorite person to be around.  (and yes, precious children, that means we need a minute to have a conversation without you sometimes!)  There are no meaningless conversations with him….he’s always soul searching and I love it. And he makes me laugh!

Caleb, Sean’s mini me.  His creativity and sensitivity are awesome and he’s just a great kid to be around, 13 and all. He loves Jacob and Julianna and has some great dance moves. (probably got those from his Dad….)

Jacob, my baby boy.  Oh, how I love his quirks! He has turned into an amazing big brother and keeps us laughing.  He is my time keeper and built in alarm clock.

Julianna, our beautiful, rambunctious one. She loves life and having fun.  Life is not boring around here!

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

How Time Flies!

Miss Julianna has been home for 1 year!  It’s hard to believe……sometimes it seems like just yesterday and sometimes it seems like she’s been here forever.  She’s such a huge part of our family.

She LOVES to play school and mama.  She likes to wear our shoes, carry my purse, tell us what to do and take care of her babies. She’s a girly girl who also likes to play hard and get dirty.  Bows and cleats….

She has become a lot more affectionate and secure in the past few months.  It has been a year of adjustment and grieving for her.  So many new experiences and people to get used to, all the while missing her familiar.  New situations can still cause anxiety for her.  Korea is still part of our conversations and we hope to keep her very connected to her birth culture.   Some have asked if she knows she’s adopted or if we want to keep her language, etc.  We would LOVE to expose her to more Korean culture, but it’s hard here in Mississippi:)  The diversity is, shall we say, a bit lacking in our community.  While we’re on that subject, if you see people of different ethnicities in the community, be polite and nice.  Reach out to them.  Be patient with them.  Moving to a new culture is hard.  Learning a new language is hard.  Fitting in to new social situations is hard.  Making friends is hard.  All of this is hard enough when you are from the same country and move to a new area, but when absolutely everything is new, it’s especially difficult. Don’t be afraid to interact with people who are not the same as you!! (that really applies to anyone, not just immigrants) Just a little PSA for you!   Back to adoption talk……yes, she knows and it’s totally okay with us that she realizes she’s adopted.  What good would it do to keep that a secret?   We know it will bring questions along the way and we’ll deal with them as they come up.  We will speak positively about her birth mother and father, we won’t act like they don’t exist…..we will speak highly of her culture and not ever act like she isn’t Korean.  She has people in Korea who love her and we love that!   And remember, she’s almost 5 and super perceptive, so there’s no secret keeping from her!

Julianna is our strong, feisty, super smart and charming little girl!  She is compassionate and loving.  The boys love having her as a sister and think she does no wrong.  (well, almost nothing wrong)  We love her to pieces!