Happy Lunar New Year!

We are on break for Lunar New Year. (I have big plans-like organizing stuff-but we’ll see how much really happens.)  We’re going to stay around Seoul over the break. It should be less crowded since people travel to see family for the holiday.  -Since it’s been so long since I’ve written a blogpost, I wanted to take a minute to bring you up to speed.

We are over halfway finished with our first school year in Seoul! The boys have really settled in and are doing well in school. Caleb just finished his basketball season. Julianna is doing okay but has had a very difficult transition. Lots of insecurities, feelings and questions to navigate. It has not been easy but it is getting better. Her speech therapist is wonderful and I believe she will continue to feel more secure as she is able to express herself better. We’re learning that she really loves music; I’m sure there will be lessons in our near future.

FAQs: Do you like the food? Yes. There are many restaurant options around and we’re getting more comfortable with the shopping/meal planning/cooking aspect. Believe me, it’s a thing.

Do you like your apartment/neighborhood ? Sure do! We have a great view, have now figured out the floor heating and we have enough bedrooms for everyone. We even have a small guest room if you want to visit! No complaints about our neighborhood either. Since we live near a recognizable hotel, it makes getting home in a taxi easier!

Do you drive or have a car? Sean has a license but I don’t. (Yet.) Driving can be problematic due to the lack of parking options. One does not, simply, hop in the car and drive to the store and find parking nearby…  So, walking and public transportation are often the easiest option!;)

How far do you live from school? 15-20 minute walk (or less when it’s freezing!), less than 10 by taxi.

Do you like Korea? Yes. It’s a busy city and its super cold right now, but we really like it. We’ve only been outside of Seoul a few times but Korea is an interesting country.

Shopping info: Sean and I are pretty limited on  our clothing and shoe options, Caleb can find most things for now, Jacob and Julianna are easy to shop for. Honestly, we don’t shop often because we restocked over Christmas break in the states. — Food shopping: bring your own bags!  Costco is available but soooo big! However, they do have the same snack bar as in the states, so that’s a plus. We can find almost everything we want and need, but it will take a multi stop shopping trip. I compare shopping here like shopping at Whole Foods all of the time. Local shops are less expensive but imported food can be more. So, we prioritize!

What food do you miss? Sean misses tea and Sweet and Low, Jacob misses Silk, grits and bacon (available, but at Costco and his mother doesn’t like going there), Caleb and I just randomly miss a variety of stuff, like canned green beans or soup. And our favorite cereal. Julianna is just fine! We all would like our favorite Mexican restaurant and maybe a Five Guys to be nearby;) Don’t feel bad, there are plenty of Western chains here, with only a slight twist. 

I’ll leave you with a few pictures…

Ju and kinetic sand

  

Eating Turkish food

  

A really good pizza!

 
 

Fall in Seoul

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I love having an actual autumn (much fancier than fall)! The colors are beautiful and today’s weather was chilly and great for walking outside. My students and I journaled outside and others did a leaf rub and described the season. Middle school students are great! They still love doing fun stuff and we have a great time in class. I love seeing their confidence grow.

Julianna’s class also went out to gather leaves for science. It was too pretty to stay indoors.

   

Leaf collecting fun!

   
Happy Autumn from Seoul, y’all!

Reaching Reluctant Writers

My dear, smart friend helps me be a better writer/teacher/professional. Despite what my picture says! We always have fun in Writer’s Workshop–you should try it, too!

prairielearning

How do we inspire kids to be writers when they just don’t want to? This is the case for lots of kids. English Language Learners, perfectionists, those with insufficient experience or knowledge of a subject, those who prefer to tell stories rather than write them… the list is endless. Some kids (and adults) just don’t want to write.

Teachers can easily Google strategies to help reluctant writers- and find a plethora of resources to guide their lessons. The surest way to inspire writers is to be one… and share your ideas, your struggles, your stories. When I show a student the way I have used a certain strategy, in my own notebook, it shows them that I am in this with them- not teacher to student… but writer to writer. That is deep.

My Writer's Notebook. I need to fancy it up with pictures and ideas for stories! My Writer’s Notebook. I need to fancy it up with pictures and ideas for stories!

This morning, I…

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Birthday Prayer

Sean gave me a few books that I LOVE for my birthday.  I want to share one of the prayers that was in the Celtic Prayers From Jona. This was the one from my actual birthday, and it resonated with me so I wanted to share it.

 O Christ of the road

of the wounded

O Christ of the tears

of the broken

In me and with me

the needs of the world

Grant me my prayers

of loving and hoping

Grant me my prayers

of yearning and healing.

You are behind me and before me, O God. You lay your hand upon me.

(Ps 139:5)

Holding Space

City life has been quite the adjustment. Seoul is busy, noisy, crowded with parks and green space mixed in. There is always something to do/go see/visit.  I’ve found that I have to guard my time or I’m going, going, going all the time. This is completely the same as life in the states. While I’ve had to adjust to life in a new country, life is the same everywhere we are. Family, work, rest….it’s always a balancing act. My goal this year, being our first year living as expats, is to soak in as much of the culture as possible while also making sure there is space for rest. 

Also, I need to let other people be. Be themselves. Be authentic without my opinion involved. I believe this is referred to as holding space for people. Just letting people be people. That includes my family. No one should wait for my opinion or need it to move forward. So, I’ll hold space for them, too. And honestly, I hope you will do the same for me.

This Is What I Do

I’m a support teacher so I get to work with students one on one or in very small groups. It’s so fun to help them learn, understand English and believe in themselves. First quarter is a wrap and I’m looking forward to implementing a few more strategies to teach my students. New curriculum, just finished a great conference, ideas rolling around in my brain!

A bonus is discipling middle schoolers! Some don’t profess Christianity but that’s ok. God’s love is for everyone. We have a Week Without Walls coming up soon; I can’t wait to spend some time with the 6th graders away from school. Of course, my own 6th grader will be there, too!

Life in Seoul….still an adjustment but always a adventure! 

   

Anniversary Shoutout

18 years! Babies, moves, jobs, rough patches, high points, more rough years, easy times, questioning, loss, joy, grief, love. Everything at different times and all together. At the same time. Seperately and always together. You can love and be sad, grieve and be joyful, sail through life and wonder why. The human heart is capable of so much. 

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

st. francis of assisi – 13th century

Remind me to always be mindful of my beautiful, complicated life. Happy anniversary, my love.

Fall in Seoul

I love fall! It’s cool in Korea so that means no more tank tops for this southern girl.  But here, that means pull out all of your big coats and bundle up.  It’s just fall, y’all, not winter. The leaves are changing and it’s really beautiful here.  My dear hubby bought me a little pumpkin and my dear friends (here and in Mississippi) bought me some fall decorations. Now I can decorate! Pumpkins, leaves and well, that’s about it. Decorating for fall is not high on Korea’s list. Maybe I could carve a sweet potato.

Hanging pumpkins!

Hanging pumpkins!

My brain is on overload from a conference I’m attending.  Report cards come out soon and we’re about to start the 2nd quarter. This school year is going by fast! Jacob has asked every day what we’re doing for Halloween.  Sad to say, probably a bit fat nothing. I’ll find him some candy so he’ll be happy.  Julianna loves kindergarten but is exhausted everyday. She has more good days than bad but she’s still adjusting.  It’s hard for a little Korean girl! The boys are doing their thing and still enjoying school.  IMG_2039

Here is my challenge to you:  learn about trauma in kids.  Learn about transition with adoption.  Read about how trauma affects learning.  For the sake of all the kids who didn’t get a fair start, please do it.  Nothing hurts a mama’s heart more than when their baby is not understood.  And as a reminder, adoption is not all sweet and cute.  There is so much loss and confusion.

Thankful for big brothers.

Thankful for big brothers.

We are thankful for friends here who love on our girl.  (the boys opt out of being loved on!) We are enjoying Korea and venturing out more and more. And we bought a car!  We’re adjusting to life here and feeling more at home.  And we bought a table! We look forward to going to the states in December.

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KIA

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Happy fall, everyone, and be sure and hug someone you love today!

Happy Fall from the Garricks!

Happy Fall from the Garricks!

My Firstborn

I enjoy spending time with my oldest baby. He is a blend of both of us with more of his dad’s intellectual abilities and my weird sense of humor. We like the same vines and sit coms while his dad can’t understand how those are funny. So we watch them when it’s just the two of us. He thinks I just like the vidoes but I know how fast time flies.

September 

I guess one blog post a month will have to do. The past few weeks have been busy for all of us. Just your typical school, work, repeat routine with a few adventures thrown in.

The weather is cooler and starting to feel like Fall. My goal is to have a pumpkin in October.  They are not common here but I know they exist! I may have to carve a squash but we will have some sort of jack o lantern next month!

I can now direct the taxis to our apartment and say “right, left, straight, here, there”–along with my other 5 words. Oh, and “a little bit”. This is important when asking for a little bit of food OR knowing a person can speak a little bit of English. Progress!

Sean and I walked to the Seoul Tower last weekend and the weather was beautiful. 

 View on the way up.  

  Us. Seoul Tower

There are a few restaurants at the tower so we had lunch and saw several performances, which is very common in Seoul. There’s always something going on around the city. 

We also went to the Thai Festival in Cheonggyecheon with friends.  Another beautiful day.

 Artsy.

  
Food.

We had a picnic at school yesterday, which included dodgeball. The boys were happy. All 3. Julianna just collected as many dodgeballs as she could. It was nice and rainy.

  
Walking to catch a taxi. (See the yellow lines? They’re very slippery. Take my word for it.)
Today we had church, lunch and Jacob’s first haircut in Korea.

  

I know I said I would show pictures of our apartment but…. next time! Ok? Kamsahamnida!