Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas is over, and it was Joah's first time knowing what presents are. He's known about toys for a year or so, but presents are a different thing. Presents are just for you and in such fancy wrappings. Once he got in the habit of opening them, of course he didn't want to stop. Turns out greed is pretty automatic. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Time with Dan's family is always fun and very sweet, though.

There was cousin time with Abraham on Monday for his fourth birthday, a little Grandpa Wayne time on Christmas Eve, Christmas Mass yesterday morning, which Joash seemed even to enjoy (he asked for, "one more time!" at the end of one of the carols), and last night he ran around with all the rest of the cousins, showing them his new toys, following them from room to room, repeating syllables that made Maggie think he was, "saying words we're not allowed to say" (she thought he was saying wee wee, but I'm pretty sure he was saying wheel, as we do not actually use that euphemism). Today I caught him sneaking chocolates, so I think he's had a pretty successful Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Baby Comparables

When Joash was born and I started making his baby book, I joked that it was like a case study. Now that Ammi was born on the same day, I find it even more so. They are eminently comparable, so I have started matching up pictures from their exact ages. I call them Baby Comparables. Here are the catch ups.

Left: August 7, 2011, Joash
Right: August 7, 2013, Amielle

Left: August, 2011, Joash
Right: August, 2013, Amielle

Left: September, 2011, Joash
Right: September, 2013, Amielle

Left: October, 2011, Joash
Right: October, 2013, Amielle

Left: October 31, 2011, Joash
Right: October 31, 2013, Amielle

Left: November, 2011, Joash
Right: November, 2013, Amielle

Left: December, 2011, Joash
Right: December, 2013, Amielle

Sunday, December 22, 2013

We are back in Ohio and done with the house hunting. I think we may have shot us a good one. How does this metaphor work? Caught? But you usually hunt to kill. House fishing? Anyhow, we found one we really like, we just have to wait on paperwork. If nothing else, though, we did get approved for our first-choice apartment.

Right now Dan has the sleeping girl, and the sleeping boy is on the bed, and I am totally free to devote my whole attention to this, and, of course, I can't. Divided minds can't settle, and I keep just scrolling through my open programs trying to figure out what I'm doing. I'll post a couple more pictures and then be done, I guess.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ohio Again

We've been back in Ohio for a couple of weeks, and we've seen a wonderfully festive amount of snow. We went out earlier this week to see the lights at the zoo with Ben, Abraham, and Annie.

Florida Again

Well, I just have a bunch of pictures and not a lot of time to talk about them. When things get more normal, things will get more normal here. We're going to look for houses in Indiana tomorrow. That's a start. We were in Florida for Thanksgiving, and right now we're back in Ohio for Christmas. Since my last post, my older baby has learned how to say things for laughs and how to assemble train tracks. My younger baby just started laughing and she's become fairly adept at holding up her upper half. Things just keep moving forward.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ohio Pictures

We have been having plenty of seasonal fun in Ohio. We went to Krohn's Conservatory to see a Japanese garden (or "fishes!" as Joah recalls it). There have been dog walks and park picnics at dusk and romps through a backyard full of leaves. Joash rejected the fundamentals of Halloween (costume wearing), upon which we successfully bribed him with the promise of candy. I'm so glad he's finally bribable! I've already used this advantageous milestone to make him take bites of bananas and finish eating lunch proteins. Vegetables are not even about to know what hit them.

The second best part of Cincinnati (the first being family) is friends. My very truest friend is here visiting while Dan's away, and it is filling me with so much hope. Ammi has drooled on many arms and shoulders by now. Joash has been able to find kinship among fellow Chick-Fil-A players and a particularly smiley 8 month old. That Chick-Fil-A playpen is not without its share of thugs, though. Yesterday, when I went to collect my dearest boy, I saw and heard him in one of the tubes with three older boys, likely nearing or having arrived at double digits. Joash was screaming excitedly when one of them told him to, "SHUT UP!" and then, "Get out of the way or I'll push you out of the way!" as he shoved my two year old into a plastic window. Oh, the rage and ache that can at once fill each side of your heart.

Well, I need to go to bed, and I've needed to for at least an hour, so let me get on with the Halloween pictures, and I'll be done with this.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Florida Pictures

I forgot to put the pictures here, but I've had them for weeks. Things have been so good lately with the babies that I think I thought I'd done it. Joash has settled nicely into life in America. He absolutely loves his rides in his 'special seat' in the car, with all the trucks and tractors to see everywhere. And the 'new kids' just keep coming, though he's a bit of a loner at play. It's still a bit unnerving when he gets that toddler look in his eye and he's rife to misbehave, but those looks are more infrequent for now. Is that what I'm meant to keep calling him? A toddler? Because his walk is now steady and strong. He spends handfuls of minutes at a time running laps of the living room. A bouncing run that flip flops his hair.

That kid. Every day it seems like he has a new sentence to share, and he's started expressing his emotions. At nap time yesterday, he told me he was, 'So sad!' At nap time is when we recount our days. 'Funny Jack!' he exclaims after we've met fellow expats and their three young babes for lunch. 'See Luthor?' he asks days after we've met a friend's smiley boy. Finally I have to wind down the conversation to remind him to go to sleep and he tosses his body over on the pillow until he remembers something important about a monster truck or 'Light Queen' (Lightning McQueen), and I have to remind him again. I will never regret spending nap time with my boy instead of busied with incessant chores.

And sweet Ammi girl bursts enthusiasm when she recognizes it's me who has her, it's me up with her in the midnight hours, it's me catching her nose or freeing her from a diaper. Her limbs fight each other for space and she looks like she's dancing. She's so much more routined than Joash ever was. We left her last night for a two hour date because she regularly takes a hefty evening nap. Even when we were in Florida just weeks ago, that ended in gales of screams, but now we come home to thumbs ups from the grandparents and the visual of her spread eagle, her full weight released on Grandma's torso. Amazing babies. When it's good, it is the sum of life. And let's not talk about the bad for just this once.

Dan leaves tomorrow for the better part of a month, and with that comes the familiar struggle to find balance between missing him and making it. I'm not good at finding that. The more I'm alone, the more I want to be, but hopefully this is the last big chunk of travel for a while, and then we can start a new part of life in a new place. In our own place. Settled in a way we haven't been for years. I'm not a good nomad, so I'm excited to stop transitioning and finally just be transitioned.

Friday, October 11, 2013

We made it to America, but I don't yet have much to show for it digitally. Jet lag was kind enough to us, but moving our poor son around the world right after he turned two seems to have activated the terrible component of the age. There was a week of near constant screaming. I liken it to being hazed during hell week. I will mark it in his baby book as such. But he did end our time in Florida with a few sweet days, good guy. We kept trying to find "new kids" for him to play with. We kept failing. He was the only kid in the nursery at church, the only kid in the food court, the only kid trying to get into the play area at the mall that was closed for cleaning the one day we planned on going. "New kids?" is now how he implores us to find him suitable playmates, none so suitable as my mother. They wiled their weekend days away with muddy toes and dirt bombs, sidewalk chalk and water balloons. They took morning walks to work where Joash would sit in my dad's office and play with complimentary toy-sized tow trucks, watch Cars on my mom's tablet, and point out the endless trucks rumbling their way to the Walmart warehouse center down the road. There was even a golf ball dropping game going on yesterday before we left for Cincinnati.

And the little girl. I've watched Ammi become sweeter as the days go by. She cries less and less (except today apparently), a sometimes daintier, girlier cry than Joah's was, though car seats remain her holdout. She will not fall asleep unaided in a car and is a very dedicated screamer when she wants to be. She has already pooped the pants of almost everyone in my family. I'm blessed with such expert poopers. Oh, and at two months old she weighs 14 pounds, a feat that took her brother the better part of a year to accomplish.

Grandparents are everything I imagined them to be from my secluded tower in Seoul. Watching my son find new favorite people in some of my favorite people was wonderful. He became my dad's NASCAR buddy and my mom's keen playmate. And Ammi has won everyone over with her chubby little head and favored Moro reflex. Sharing the task of keeping her in arms all day completely disseminates the stress of it. And we are only halfway through our grandparent accrual. Dan's mom has already snuggled with the sister, and she will soon enough be busting with the brother when he and his dad arrive later today with our van full of stuff.

All of it feels so lucky. I'm trying to savor it before the charm dissolves into normalcy.

Ammi Smiles from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
The sweet.

No Pictures, Please from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
The sour.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pics and Vids

It has come to my attention that we have been remiss in posting pictures, so I am making up for it with both pictures and moving pictures. I'm the good child.
Hiccups from serenity johnson on Vimeo.

Sleeps from serenity johnson on Vimeo.

Siblings from serenity johnson on Vimeo.

Macca's Monster from serenity johnson on Vimeo.

Friday, August 16, 2013

More pictures today. This time of the whole family. Things are going well with the two babies, but there is definitely a breaking point built into every day, at which I become completely overwhelmed by the constant and varying demands for my attention. Thankfully, so far, recovery has been more or less immediate. Grumpiness has swapped between them, and now Joash is the one having cranky days, while Ammi just sits and stares and eats and sucks on fingers. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the company of a newborn. Such simple cuddles. A one-stop fix for most every problem. So much easier than trying to crack the ever-changing toddler code.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We took some pictures of our sweet, new baby.

I can post them right now because this is happening:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Amielle West Johnson

August 7, 2013, 4:55 PM - 9 lbs 5 ounces, 21.6 inches long

My main concern in giving birth a second time was not making it to the hospital on time. My first delivery progressed much more quickly than I’d anticipated, and, in fact, was more intense at the time than I’d realized. We made it to Medi Flower then with only half an hour to spare. This time, it was our plan to head for the birth center the moment labor began. But what a difficult thing to determine, the start of labor. 

The morning I delivered my daughter, I had put the laundry out to dry on the rooftop terrace of our apartment building. For weeks of wishful thinking I had been making sure to finish up all my chores in the morning in case I happened to go into labor. I washed the dishes, brewed some iced tea, picked up various of my son’s toys, and put the laundry out to dry. The laundry racks are such that they have to be anchored or they’ll flip and fly in the wind, and you’ll end up with dirty laundry and a mangled rack. So, in our apartment complex, everyone wedges one end into the slats of an available picnic bench, but on the morning of August 7th, my normal benches were occupied. In trying to find another operable bench, I got my rack stuck and had such a physical struggle unsticking it that it collapsed and fell apart, and I more or less did as well. 

My firstborn and I took our morning nap, and when we woke up, I threw a bunch of pillows on the floor and resolved to lay there the rest of the day. My belly was hard with Braxton Hicks contractions as it had been seemingly every second of each of the last month of days. At 42 weeks pregnant, I had gotten used to ignoring discomfort and vague indicators of labor. At 2:45 PM, though, something made me get up off my nest of pillows and sit on the couch. I texted my friend to tell her I thought I might be having contractions. My husband, Dan, was at work, and I didn’t want to call him home for no reason. They were lasting for sixty seconds and just three minutes apart, but they weren’t yet so intense that I couldn’t talk through them. I decided to call and see what Dan thought, but he didn’t answer. I told my friend that that meant I probably was having the baby. She convinced me I was in labor, and our texts escalated into exclamations. I called Dan again, and he started home from work.

Next I did the normal things you do while awaiting the ripening of the cervix, like sweeten the tea while it was warm and freeze my son’s birthday cake, which, because it was his birthday that day, had been cut only to provide him a festive breakfast. I dropped the cake on the floor and spent the next five minutes bent over cleaning it up. I was sure I was having the baby after that.

My husband’s co-worker drove us to the birth center. I clutched the door handle with my right hand and steadied my son in his seat with my left. In between contractions I responded to his curious chatter about the trucks he saw and the drums he heard. We arrived at Medi Flower about half an hour later, roughly one hour after labor had begun. I was so glad to be arriving in relative calm. Ella met us and told me I’d be set up with a ten minute non-stress test. I was 5 centimeters dilated. I laid down and listened to my daughter’s heartbeat as I breathed through intensifying contractions. My son alternated his attention between a DVD in the back of the room and driving cars on the bed next to me. We were left alone until the paper in the machine ran out. I thought for sure they’d just take me off the machine and let me sit up, but, as minutes earlier I’d been only half through complete dilation, they replaced the paper and again left the room. At some point, I noticed I could no longer lay flat and still and manage the pain. I was determined not to spend transition writhing on my back as I had two years previous on the floor of an ambulance, recalling it as the most unbearable pain of my laboring experience. My body took over, and I was up on the bed. Shortly after, I was standing and leaning over the bed. Shortly after, I was hastily shifting my weight from foot to foot, and I told Dan that I thought I needed to start pushing. Dan found Ella. I’m not sure what happened next, but I have a visceral memory of various hands. There was a hand at my left that I gripped with contractions. That ended up being Dan’s. There was a hand at my shoulder, coupled with voiced encouragement. That ended up being Ella’s. I was grateful for both. 

I wondered if someone would offer me a stool as they had during my previous birth experience. Thankfully my brain realized I should communicate instead. A stool appeared. I sat down. Rocking back and forth. I wasn’t sure I should start pushing, so I kept trying to just breathe through the contractions. I couldn’t. I started pushing. It hurt. I said so. A chorus of voices told me to say, “Ha-ah-ah-ah.” I did. It hurt. Soon enough I heard bated breath. I knew that meant it must be nearly over. I heard Dr. Chung ask if Dan wanted to catch the baby. Another push, my face seized, and I felt the release of a tangle of limbs. I opened my eyes and was surprised to see a room full of people. A baby in my arms and someone hoisted me on the bed. I couldn’t stop shaking. Weighing 9 pounds and 5 ounces and measuring 21.6 inches long, Amielle West Johnson was born at 4:55 PM, slightly more than two hours after the start of labor, and two years to the day of the birth of her brother.

If it’s possible, even more than with the birth of my son, we felt everyone’s genuine excitement at the arrival of our girl. Ella was a great encouragement and a practical asset, making sure Dan kept offering me water, commiserating how much more painful it was to handle contractions while kept stationary, and providing translation as needed. I am so thankful to have again given birth in a place that values the mother’s instincts and allowed me to pull myself off the monitor and move freely into the second stage of labor. I have heard recounted so many experiences of mothers being brushed off by a professional opinion, but I was attended to in earnest and with immediacy. I’m left with only good sentiments about the separate births of my two children and the capability of my body to accomplish its most natural task. I cannot thank Dr. Chung and the staff of Medi Flower enough for that.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Joash is 2!!

His merciful sister agreed to let Joash have an undivided, albeit humble, birthday celebration. We blew out candles fashioned from a McDonald's straw (because we realized at the last minute that we had no candles, and nothing in Korea is open before work), and ate cake for breakfast. Then we danced to songs we knew he liked. And that there is a fine two-year old's birthday party. I just saved you all a lot of work.

I decided on a whim to make him a cake with the face of his favorite Korean cartoon on it, Tayo the Little Bus. Tayo is an insufferable bus who always does the right thing and makes lots of audible pauses while doing it. Why are characters in kid shows always audibly pausing? It kills me. I don't actually mind the beliefs espoused on Tayo, but why is his voice so dang annoying? Anyhow, this is my fondant rush job. It was pretty fun, and I thought the labor might inspire a labor of another sort. It was worth a try.

With his Papa first thing on his birthday. It is his Papa, not his Mama because one is much easier than the other to make presentable first thing in the morning.

He was equally as excited about Tayo as he was about his straw candle. We've actually been practicing blowing out straw candles in play dough cakes this week, so he was familiar with the whole ordeal.

Blowing. Next year he'll be a pro.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Waiting for a second baby to finish on the inside is way harder than waiting for a first. I realize now how very much nothing I did during the end of my inaugural pregnancy, other than the occasional 8 mile traipse around town for treats and fellowship (which somehow happened the day before I gave birth, possibly prompting it). These days, if I walk the ten minutes to and then back home from E-Mart, I know I will be out of commission for at least a day. It ruins my back and makes changing positions an entire ordeal. Going to the doctor via subway the other day was a feat of strength. And, of course, it's a lot to be up and down with Joash all day.

Beyond that, I feel and look like a sumo wrestler, especially when I wear a high summer bun, so, every day then. And this time I feel all the Braxton Hicks, and I feel like they are happening non-stop, and, because last time I felt nothing until after my water broke, it has often tricked me into thinking labor nearer than it proves to be. Also, I'm nervous we won't make it in time. I've heard too many recent stories of one hour births, and people who've had long births maybe think that sounds nice, but I think we who've had short births know it's sort of terrifying and all too intense to be condensed into an hour. Every time I pack away as settled something I was nervous about, I find a new thing to take its place.

I don't have time to reflect as rhapsodically on this pregnancy. I really enjoyed my time with Joah in my belly, and I lamented to Dan at the end the loss of that. Now I just want to be done. With the swollen legs and puffy face, with the acid in my throat and the acid on my grumpy tongue, with the rough feet and the endless itchiness, with the protruding barrier between me and my other family members. I often feel like I'm somehow failing at all aspects of baby growing. We've had the most minor of complications, but they make me feel responsible (and thereby irresponsible), and I even feel like it's something I'm doing wrong that's keeping her in there, as if I'm being punished for my bad attitude, as if a baby growing to term has anything to do with the whims of its mother.

By now, I'm just hoping this girl comes out without any bruises from the constant knocking she gets from her big brother. I am able to sympathize so well, now, with my wombed self. I'm sure I took plenty of accidental blunt traumas from my own big brother in those days.

Let's just all agree that tomorrow is the day, and then tomorrow will be the day. But, before then, two videos and a picture.

On the Phone from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
Dan called to solidify dinner plans one night, and Joash took the phone and paced the apartment with it. I show little of the pacing because, also that night, Joash had chosen to be naked in the nethers.

Puzzling from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
He puts his puzzles together wrong now because he thinks it's pretty clever. He's not wrong.

Last night, an early wakeup and several night wakings necessitated an early bedtime, so there was still enough light out for a picture when Dan was putting him down. He's been waking up sort of regularly at night lately. I don't know if it's because it's disgustingly hot (and damp and disgusting and hot) or if it has something to do with my constant trips to the bathroom across from his room or if it's just developmental. Maybe it's teeth? Maybe it's everything. Maybe he just knows a baby's about to come wreck his life but hopefully eventually for the better.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another Picture Post

This time with the addition of the belly baby's dad. See here our first use of candy as bribery in an effort to get Joash to sit and look at the camera.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just Dancing from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
My mom is away on a trip right now, and I'm supposed to be stocking my dad up with snippets of his grandson. I'm doing a terrible job and forgot to post this video from last week! It really is only a video a grandparent is going to want to watch, as it's just 3 minutes of a kid dancing to a song, but it's a cute kid, and it's a Jackson Browne song.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Something Sweeter

All it took was two nights in the crib, and the poor kid's back to normal. Sometimes you don't realize you're rushing your baby out of babyhood until he tells you he's just not quite a big boy yet. And I'm pretty sure that's every mother's dream.

Anyhow, it's hot like fire outside these days, so, while we do our playground hour in the afternoon shade of the high rise apartments (seriously, we have to wait until 1:30 so the apartment adjacent to the park casts a long enough shadow to cool down all the slides), we also spend plenty of time sitting on the floor in front of a fan. I rarely leave the house with any intention of being looked at, but I had to meet Dan for lunch so we could apply for the Go Eun Mom Card. I still don't understand why, but Korea gives all mothers in the country a debit card with free money on it, even immigrant mothers, to offset the costs of pre-natal care and delivery. I make-upped my face for the occasion, and I decided to take advantage of it once we got home by taking some belly shots. Joash was really excited about the tripod and the "pickuhs, pickuhs," so he's in some too. 

This girl belly (here between 33 and 34 weeks) is so much bigger than my boy belly was, and I am amazed how differently they've behaved as fetal babies. Joash was like shoes tumbling in a dryer, but the girl is more like an inside-out massage chair. And she always seems to be awake! Every watch of the night, she's in there kicking around. Maybe it's cause Joash is so noisy. I think she's already getting used to rough housing because her brother is constantly climbing up onto my chest and sliding down my belly. He sure does love a baby, though. We were at a friend's house, and she was wearing her baby as she fell asleep, and Joash reached up and said, "share?," which is what he says when he wants to take a turn. He's about to have plenty of turns. I hope he's ready for it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Doing it Wrong Since 2k11

Well, that was an interesting and horribly failed experiment. It is 3:16am on the millionth day of transitioning Joash from crib to bed, and no one's slept at night for months. We did everything Super Nanny told us, and I wasn't even surprised when it took Joash 2 hours and 100 tries instead of 1 and 10, because, with sleep, that's just how this kid is. And that first evening, Dan and I took turns walking him back, and we laughed and laughed because it was ludicrous, and I thought for sure all the getting up and down and the way it seized my belly was going to kick start this baby into labor.

So we tried door side vigilance. We tried tender understanding. We tried boot camp meanness. And Joash still stays awake for at least 2 hours in the middle of the night, 3 on nights like these. We have successfully traded real sleep for marathon naps. This has been the key to turning him into a good napper. Basic life ruining. 

You know how kids are supposed to get it if you stick with it? My kid does not have that synapse. We have done all the sleep transitions for months on end, with no getting it in sight. A solid month of cry it out, 2 hours every night. No getting it. This bed debacle for 6 weeks now. No semblance of getting it. I keep thinking we shouldn't give up because what if this is the night he starts getting it. No, stupid. There is no getting it. So back to the crib we'll go. And I don't mind him sleeping in a crib, and we should have just left him there in the first place. It seemed like a good idea, though. Moving him out for the new baby.

But how do you know your kid is really really not ready for such a thing. I am frustrated that we always seem to make the wrong parenting choices, but I guess that's what it is to be a new parent. Less than 2 years is not a long time to be doing a job, especially when the parameters are constantly changing. Still I am discouraged.

Anyhow if we can swing it this kid will be in a crib until he's 60. Hopefully the transition back tomorrow night will be even slightly less miserable than the transition forward.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Yeah, Water

Yeah, Water from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
At the specific request of my mother, here is a video of Joash playing in the fountain.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sleep No More

We're working on a week of disjointed sleep. Joash keeps deciding to wake up at 1:30am and hang out for several hours. Last night I woke up to him cuddled up in the crook of my legs. It was Dan's night to tackle the sleep struggle, so I went and hid in Joah's bed. I wrote the following during the previous night's midnight productivity boon.:

And, lo, how the sweet always turns sinister. We switched Joash to a real bed about a month ago in the midst of Dan's marathon month of travel. He had a rough first week but then settled into his normal sleep routine. And the sweetest development was that he would come in our room and tap on my back to wake me up for the day. Two weeks out from that, Dan's back home, and Joash now wakes every day at 5am, refuses bed until 10pm, and right now, at 3:12 in the morning, has been up and in and out of bed for 2 hours. I sat like a troll guarding his door for the first half of it, and then I locked myself in my room. He is pawing at the door like a lonely dog. Quick! Someone send me some self-congratulating mother of the year merchandise.

If there are any ticks Joah's marked with precision and fervor, they are the developmental sleep regressions. In this respect he is an overachiever. And he likes to revel in the fullness of them. If an 18 month regression is supposed to take a week but could last a month, give that kid his month of sleeplessness. His main strength has always been his persistent congeniality without sleep. He is like a high functioning wakefulness addict. Here in the throes of his 2 year regression, and I'm pretty sure it's going to take 2 years for him to come through.

I am convinced there are these procreational pockets in the space-time continuum. Brief pockets of sweetness coupled with relative ease that convince you you can start the process all over again. Without.these I am certain the human race would cease to exist. Our last such pocket clearly happened in October. I imagine it will be at least a year before we have another one. And so goes the circle of life.

Oddly enough, we're all doing really well on wonky sleep. Dan and I achieved a new level of solidarity taking turns walking Joash back to his bed those two hours early in the week. For some reason it all seems light-hearted and ridiculous for now. I mean, it's got to go back to normal sometime, right? Right? Just in time for a baby to be born, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We Had Visitors Once

And now we're all alone again. Joash and me. Dan is in Thailand. I am jealous of the food, but not the weather. He said it's 95. I'm struggling to go out in all 73 degrees of heat on a fine spring day. What will I do when summer is here? So Dan is gone this week, back Sunday, and gone the next week to Japan. I am becoming more and more thankful for this time alone with my firstborn before that time is gone forever. I'm feeling sad about losing that between the two of us. I know, though, that all pre-baby fears are immediately allayed once the baby arrives, if only so they can be replaced by new baby fears. Hopefully some of those will be curtailed this time by that friend called experience.

Our visitors who've now gone were our friend Crystal from FCC and our friends Kenny and Korie from Cincinnati. They tag-teamed and kept us company for the better part of April, during which I had the most celebratory birthday since moving to Korea. Birthdays feel more like birthdays when people you know are around. I'm 30 now, and everybody keeps telling me how I'm "finally" 30, just because I said I was almost 30 when I turned 24 (24 is almost 25, which is round uppable to 30. Who does that not make sense to? Meanwhile, I do my 9 times tables on my fingers.). At some point between 24 and now, I decided to stop wasting my youth feeling old. Take that, you guys!

Well, we did some activities with Crystal, Kenny, and Korie. I have pictures of so few of them, but I have pictures in my heart of so many more of them. Those kinds of pictures are called memories.

Friday, April 26, 2013

(Hey Mom, I meant to do this for you after our Skype the other day, but then the mouse on my computer stopped working and rendered my computer unpredictably useless, but I am doing it now, on my birthday, as a gift to you, which makes more sense than giving a gift to me because you did all the work those 30 years ago on that best day of your life.)

We went to Mongolia. We saw. We conquered like Chinggis Khan (you've been saying it wrong, and you didn't even know it!). Actually, mostly Dan did lots of work, and Joash and I hung out with a bounty of fun kids and their bounty of toy vehicles. I will post the pictures quickly before my computer stops working again. A couple days ago the mouse was clicking itself. I think there was a ghost nestled briefly in its microchippery. It seems to have gone on by now.

Friday, April 12, 2013

We're here in Mongolia, and I can't believe we've already been here almost a week. Joash and I are settling in to life at the living complex for Dan's company. There are so many kids here, and he loves to chase them around until he gets overwhelmed and starts yelling at everybody. They have been too kind to us here, refilling our stores of candy and soda (liquid candy), somehow secretly when we even briefly leave our room.  Tomorrow we are going sight-seeing, and then we've been invited for a Mongolian dinner at the home of Dan's co-worker's sister. Joash has been subsisting on peanut butter and honey sandwiches for most meals of the day. I'm glad we thought to bring his green veggie muffins or I'm afraid his insides would melt into pureed peanuts.

Anyhow, I have two videos for the grandmoms that I forgot to post before we left. They are a little boring, but grandmoms don't seem to mind any of that.

Day to Day from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
I was trying to get him to throw the ball because he has an exceptional (and comical) wind up, but he was vocally disinterested.

Waterless Fountain from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
Playing on the waterless fountain, wishing water would come out.

Monday, April 1, 2013

You could guess why I'm writing. Dan's in Japan this week, but, honestly, I am getting so much better about it. I actually really appreciate all the singular attention I get from Joash, and good days are easy. So far, we've had two good days in a row, great days, really. Yesterday we celebrated Easter with a date at Lotteria for burgers and chicken nuggets (also, we celebrated Passover last week when Dan was here). Then we ran a couple shopping errands and played for a fantastically long time on the (currently) inert fountains outside of E-Mart. It was our warmest day yet, and Joash found a couple friends to squawk and squeal at. He is used to being chased down and tickled by the older girls at church, and I think he thinks that everyone's out to engage him. He's not entirely wrong, but only almost right.

Today we dug in the sand and watched a tractor tear apart one of the playgrounds by our house. The nice thing about Korea is that they do these things completely in the open without even any protective barriers, so we got to see it up close. And then we marveled as the guy magicked his way onto the truck bed by rotating the bucket front to back and doing alternating push ups. There was no ramp. Is that normal? It was amazing either way.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 Videos!

I have 5 videos. I haven't had a video haul like this since the old days.

Water is Wet from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
An old past time he's more or less given up.

Musicking from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
Dancing and playing his instrument. He could be in one of those marching bands.

Silent Night Again (and Again) from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
He wore the battery out on this book playing it over and over and over again.

Counting Calisthenics from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
Learning how to count (sort of) and getting a good work out.

Choreography from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
He has a toy bus that plays 10 songs. One of them is a pirated version of "Do Re Mi" from Sound of Music. I used to sing him this song in funny voices when he would get grumpy during diaper changes. Now he dances like a maniac to it.

Cracker from serenity johnson on Vimeo.
And here he is saying "cracker."

Monday, March 18, 2013

I am a netbook user, and, somehow, a netbook cord abuser. Without fail, my computer outlasts its power cord, and then you're confronted with the dilemma of replacing an 80 dollar cord or replacing a 200 dollar computer. We replaced the cord, but it came slowly from America, and then Dan forgot to check our mail for a long time, but now I have a powered netbook again and pictures from as long ago as the last blog. I also have videos lurking on devices, but I'll get to them on another day. Probably this week, though, because Dan is in Japan, and that's the only time I can get any work done around here. We still suffer the sickness curse while he's away. This time Joash got a somewhat horrifying infected diaper rash, but I treated it like a proper hippie, and he's very much on the mend.

The weather has been amazing, and we've been going out to play every afternoon. Joash expects these trips now and brings me articles of clothing throughout the day, punctuating their delivery with petitions to "go go?" Along with bringing things to me, he's become quite adept at taking things to their proper resting places. He loves to clear the table after dinner, and he has even started to sort our trash into one of our three recycling bins. We've started the descent into toilet training, and, while I can't get him to pee or poop in any potty, there are marks of progress. Today he peed on the floor when I was in the other room, and then brought me a cloth to clean it up with. He repeats most of what we say these days, and I can't help but laugh every time he asks for crackers, making a sound more like a duck's quack than a word. It makes him sad when I laugh, because, no, seriously, he wanted a cracker.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Reasons I Don't Blog Without Pictures

Do you know what stresses me out enough that I suspend it in my brain space to make sure to talk to Dan about it on our Valentine's date that he surprised me with (meaning he orchestrated a baby sitter and made dinner plans, which, though they went awry, still provided us with a dinner cooked on flames, some fantastic street food, and coffee drinks that we just sat around drinking)? When smart people use the wrong it's/its. I just keep reading all these blogs full of, "the monkey danced in it's pants while it's friends thought about how its not fair." Or whatever. Let's just render the written form of the contraction "it's" obsolete, as it has now so proved itself to be. If we all just resolve never again to type or write the word "it's," then I will never have to read it in smart people's blogs ever again!

Did you know, back in my day, we weren't even allowed to put contractions of any kind in our written word assignments? Can you believe it? I mean, I know blogs are essentially spoken prose typed into a little, white internet box, and I'm not so stodgy as to suggest that we turn it into stilted essay writing, but, still. Down with the it's! Its too easy to confuse!

Oh, and I's isn't a word the way you think it is, ladies of the Bachelor. Sean and you may have a "relationship," but let's not bring that lady I into it. You're gonna want to say, "Sean's and my" or you might as well just give all that coveted alone time to whoever that possessive I is.

Oh, hey, and winter, why don't you just go on be done already? My belly is now so burgeoning that it barely fits into my coats anymore, and the snow you just dumped on the ground is just making me grumpy by now.

And, on account of the baby in this belly, I've been taking naps with the baby out this belly, and he keeps waking me up at the headache spot with his mid-nap fake coughing fits. And y'all know Tylenol wasn't made to actually combat any aches, which is why I'm still allowed to ingest it, so I have to wrap my head up with socks full of ice cubes.

No, but I'm not in a bad mood. I'm about to eat some homemade Indian food that Dan brought me back from one of his trainees. Three giant pieces of naan and a pan full of some sort of curried chicken, and I'm going to eat it all!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Well, Dan's been gone again, and he leaves in two weeks for two weeks to Japan. I spent the last two days crying about it. He comes home in an hour or so, so I guess I'm over it by now. Every time he goes, I find it harder and harder to deal with. I see all these graceful copers all around me (not actually around me, since I have only a few local friends, but, you know old friends on the internet), and I am just not equipped with any of that. I feel this extreme fatigue over the whole thing. I never thought I'd marry and then be without my husband for such consistent chunks of time. And in a place where I have nothing, and, during the day, no one. I hate everything about him being gone, the thrumming aloneness, the propensity of Joash and/or I to get sick, most likely due to his unfortunate habit of truncating nighttime sleep by several hours for at least the first week of his father's absence, the sheer physical and emotional effort of caring for a toddler for days on end without reprieve. I know I am not meant to raise a child alone. Who is? I do not have whatever it takes to be a single parent in a foreign country without even a hint of extended familial support (beyond Skype). I feel like knowing that should somehow matter enough that I won't have to keep facing these times of isolation  Anyhow, it doesn't. And I'm unhappy over it.

But, hey, at least I have a couple pictures to post.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Well, what happened was, we were in America, and I mostly write stuff here so our parents in America can read about it. Our being there made posting temporarily obsolete. But now we are back in Korea, a week and a half in, mostly recovered from jet lag, readjusting to smells and rhythms and sounds. I have pictures for the parents/grandparents to see, so back to posting.