Tuesday, January 27, 2009
With the recent snow here, the roads have been closed, but the desire to leave the house is still there. The problem...taking the stroller in the snow is a major challenge, but toddlers walking any distance in the snow is possibly worse. So, I've learned a few tricks to help manage the Stroller Capades.
  • Fill a large thermos with very hot (boiling) salted water instead of coffee. Use the water to clear the path when you get stuck. Let's face it, your only going to Starbucks anyway so why bother.
  • Spray heavily salted water on your stoller wheels using a regular spray bottle to help increase traction. Take the bottle with you for touch ups.
  • Make sure the stroller is heavily weighed down to increase traction. Lots of gear stowed securely in the basket beneath is your best bet. Remember this reduces your clearance, though.
  • Do not attempt to carry a handbag. Put your ID and money in your pocket in case you have to abandon your load. No one, except the really ambitious, will steal your stroller if you abandon it. It's just as much of a burden to them as to you. Just call your husband, tell him where you left it, and ask him to bring it home after work.
  • Remember it's not the destination, it's the journey.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I was the lucky one to come home from the BX with Osan's #1 preferred household item....the Bissell Steam Mop. Eek! I was so excited! I hooked it up right away and did the once over on my floors. And the verdict is now in....not sure.

  • The number one thing on the plus list is the way this puppy gets crayon off the hard floors. Because it's steam, it sort of melts the crayon off and washes it away. Wish it would work on walls. Might have to try it.
  • I like the fact that it can sanitize. I can see this as a useful tool in the bathroom, especially.
  • The floors don't get sopping wet and dangerously slippery.
  • Spot cleaning is pretty effective which is useful in the kitchen.
  • The steam mop doesn't really clean the way I'd hoped and dreamed. For a good clean, you've still gotta us the ole bucket-and-mop method. Once compeltely dry, the dirt still seems to linger and the floor doesn't feel nice and clean under barefeet. The steam mop would be a good cleaner for between-mop touch-ups.
  • Weird smell. Not sure why. That might go away with more use.
  • It's a little flimsy. It's like a plug-in Swiffer on steroids. (To me, the Swiffer is my most hated "cleaning" products. Good idea. Bad product.)
  • It's no fun to watch people slip and fall when the floors don't get sopping and dangerously wet. (Plus, I use washing the floors as a child-calming method. "Stay there! The floor's wet!")

I'm hoping the love affair will grow, but it might just peter out. Overall, I just don't think it's quite sexy enough. I'll update you later on my progress.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Today Jack had a friend over to play after school and they decided to watch some cartoon Transformers on DVD. (Boy, I hope that was ok!) Anyway, Jack is very familiar with Transformers and his friend was not so much. So Jack's friend kept asking him for background...who's that? why did that happen? Who's the good guy? Who's the bad guy? Towards the end of the episode the battle of good versus evil came to its climax. Over the sounds of the cartoon battle I hear, "Who just got killed? Was he the good guy or the bad guy?" Jack announces, "That's the bad guy, of course."

So that exchange got me thinking. When does the good guy start to die in the movies? What was the first movie I saw in which the good guy bit the dust? In old Disney movies, the parents are often dead when the movie starts, with the distinct exception of Bambi (which traumatized my dad so much that I didn't get to see it). Old Yeller may be another. But the problem with these is they are animals, not people.

Now animals dying is traumatic enough to children, so I'm not dismissing this; but when did the good guy (human) make his entrance and his passing in to our youthful conscience? I would have thought that this would have been so traumatic to me that I would remember it distinctly, but I don't think I can. I do remember being very upset about Ghandi in Ghandi and John Geilgud in Arthur, but that can't possibly be the first. Do any of you remember?

Which reminds me...what was the first movie you remember having to face the ugly?
Monday, January 19, 2009
With a history making Inauguration Day rapidly approaching, I've been trying to think of a way to acknowledge the importance of the event in a way that is appropriate to my overall theme of parenting. So, I thought I'd relay the following conversation I had with my 5-year old son, Jack.

Interestingly enough, before the inauguration was really on my radar, it was on Jack's. When I was in the States the other week, I was taking a rainy day trip out to do a little toy shopping. The car was blissfully, almost strangely quiet (especially considering the destination), the rain was tap-tapping on the windows and we were all lost in our thoughts...even Emma who is not a quiet soul.

Suddenly, out of the silence Jack announces, "Mommy, some people have yellow skin."

Surprised at the abrupt, unusual direction of the conversation, I humored him and hoped I wasn't ruining a teaching moment, "Yes, like in Korea. We usually call that Asiatic. Like your friend, Scott."

Jack responded, "And I have white skin."

Me..."Well, yes, people call it white, but it is more cream colored. Not really white like it sounds."

Jack..."And some people have black skin."

Me..."Like your friend, Charles. But there's not really black skin, Jack. Really just different shades of brown. Black is not the best description really."

Jack..."Not like Charles, Mommy...like....like...that man...:

Me..."Which man?"

Jack..."Bar....Bar....Ob....You know, Mommy, the one who's going to be the new president."

Me...(with surprise)..."Oh, Barack Obama."

Jack..."Yes, that's what I said. Barack Obama. He's going to be president."

Me..."You're right, Jack. It is a very important day. Barack Obama becoming president helps break down a wall of sadness in our country and people are very happy. We are watching history and should be proud."

Jack...(with exasperation)..."I know, Mommy. That's what I said!"
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My 5 minutes on Facebook turned into a decorating project for Emma today. Jack left the toothpaste within reach and when I realized that she was being too quiet to be good, I discovered that she had decided to redecorate the bathroom in Eau de Menthe. Smells great, at least.

I'm ashamed to admit that this is not the first time this has happened though, so fortunately I knew just what to do. (Other than sensible preventative measures, of course.)

The first step is to take a photo. (My battery was dead this time, bummer.) But the photo taking stage is very important. Taking a photo helps relieve the tension of the moment and gives you excellent material for blackmail later.

The second step is to put the child in the bath. Not only does this clean up the mess on the child, but also it prevents the child from creating more destruction while you clean up the mess on the walls (or wherever).

The third step is to pull out your magic eraser, paper towels, stain remover, a bowl of water, and a super-saturated sponge or similar. Use the paper towels to remove the chunks of mess. The sponge and water to wash the mess away (use A LOT of water). The stain remover and magic eraser works quite well to remove the remaining stains. (Just remember to test a small, unobtrusive portion of your wall before you go spraying stain remover over everything....another lesson learned the hard way.)

Some things are easier to remove if left to dry first. These items include, but are not limited to:
  • PlayDoh on the walls and carpet
  • Rice or pasta on the carpet
  • Candle wax
  • Chocolate
  • Dirt/Mud
  • Most (but not all) pre-chewed food that finds itself spit out on the floor

Some things are better removed while moist:

  • Boogers
  • Blood or other bodily fluids (they are also easier to spot when wet)
  • Squashed bugs (except caterpillars which vacuum up quite well when dry)
  • Glue
  • Markers (esp. dry erase which should probably just be banned from your household completely. Very destructive product.)

Please feel free to add to my list with your own person experiences. The whole blogging world may benefit.

Sunday, January 11, 2009
We often preach the importance of "showing respect" to our children, but I'm not always convinced that many of us have really considered what the implications of respect really are. We tend to identify professions, status, and age as reasons why we should respect someone and we teach our children accordingly.

I call this type of instruction "blind faith education". If we teach our children to respect based on the principle of blind faith we are potentially subjecting them to danger, pain, diminished self-esteem and trust. We are asking them to give away something that should be earned and we are also asking them to ignore their intuition about who to trust in the world.

It is simply not possible to know if someone is worthy of our respect and that of our children simply because of their status in the community, such as politician, teacher, police officer, priest, or senior citizen, or other similar criteria. We see the consequences of this lesson in the news all the time, teachers taking advantage of students, priests acting against their vows, and politicians acting without honor. While these people may, in fact, be worthy of respect, many are not and herein lies the danger.

To solve this problem, I believe we should be teaching our children (and our peers, etc) that:
  • Respect is not a right; it is a privilege.
  • Respect is not a gift; it is earned. (Yes, even for parents!)
Manners are critically important when viewing the issue of respect from this point of view. We can teach children to apply manners fairly without teaching them to give away their precious respect. Pleases and thankyous can go along way to maintaining dignified and pleasant relationships without requiring the connection built through respect.

Teach children that they should pay attention to their instincts. Ask them if they like someone or not. Then ask them why. Reinforce what they tell you and teach them some red flags. Discuss repect as a precious thing that they can offer to someone who deserves it. Above all, trust their judgement. Never make a child "trust" someone he/she has reservations about.

Free giving of respect means that people have no need to actually be respectful or worthy of respect. Make them work for the honor of your respect.
A few more random tips for traveling with your B.O.J.s:

1. If you are worried that you are over your weight limit for bags (or will be when you return) , pack a duffle bag in your suitcase. This makes shifting the weight around very quick by taking the extra weight and putting it in an extra bags. Just be sure that taking an extra bag doesn't mean you are over your bag limit. Usually this isn't the case when traveling with your B.O.J.s because you have more tickets and large child equipment (such as car seats and strollers) than you have allowable bags.

2. Purchase a large reusable shopping bag and pack it in your hand luggage. I'm guessing that you will get on the plane with just enough well-packed hand luggage for everyone, but, somehow, during the flight, your hand luggage will magically expand as things are unpacked. Bringing the extra bag allows you to collect your belongings without having to perform a feat of modern engineering to get off the plane. You can repack while waiting for the connection if you need to.

3. Fold-up a trash bag and pack it in your hand luggage. The flight attendents never come around enough to get rid of all your trash when you need it and a trash bag helps keep your foot area free of junk. Also, this is a good location to throw away wet diapers when you change them at your seat. (No one wants to hand a dirty diaper to a flight attendant!)

4. Remember bring more for your kids and less for yourself. Many people say you'll always think you need more than you actually do. This has never been the case for my kids because they are crazy, so hear that with a cautious ear.

5. You'll never have time to read a book (unless your kids are much better sleepers than mine), so opt for an iPod with videos, music, and audio books. I always like to bring some of my favorite comedian's bits with me to help ease the pain. Bryan Regan is especially funny.

6. Bring food and as much alcohol as allowable by law, as mentioned before.

7. A stoller bag for packing and gate checking your stroller can help prevent pieces breaking of your stoller while under the plane. (Or at least the pieces that break off will stay in the bag and you might be able to reattach them.)

8. Many car rental companies will rent car seats. This may help lighten the load while you travel.

9. Five-year olds make good pack horses and stroller pushers. Before age 5, they just don't have the height and strength.

10. Lollipops help reduce the pain in the ears from the plane's desent.

11. Don't forget to take Tylenol (or similar) and decongestant on the plane for all ages.

12. Once your kids are dressed for the trip, take a photo of them on your digital camera (or camera phone) and take it with you in case they go missing.

13. Attach a luggage tag to each child with your contact information and general flight information in case you get separated. You can also put an ID card in their pocket, but this is not as obvious to someone who is trying to help.

14. Some excellent B.O.J. traveling products:
  • Fisher Price child sized head phones. This link is to a travel pack with headphones that can be used with the Kid's Tough Portable DVD Player, but that are also compatible with airplane earphone jacks.
  • CARES Child Aviation Restraint System which is a 5-point harness that works like a car seat in an airplane without having to bring the car seat. This works best for larger toddlers and preschoolers. The nice thing is that you gain space in your row and it makes it harder for the kids to kick the seat in front of them. It packs small and you can opt to use it or not. It is FAA approved.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Well, after what can only be described as the longest 15 hours in aviation history we are back on the ROK. Not sure how I'm feeling about that right now, but I'm sure I'll be letting you know.

My initial thoughts:

1. Whew, I'm back.
2. God, I'm back.
3. Oh MY God! You mean I have to do that again in 5 months!?!
Saturday, January 3, 2009
When people with experience tell you not to take a trip around the world with your kids because the jetlag isn't worth it....LISTEN TO THEM! You will not fare better than they did, so be realistic. If you can tolerate living without sleep (because you will get less sleep than your jetlagged kids), you can probably do it, but don't underestimate the power of jet lag.


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