Sunday, December 1, 2013

Just Love Me!

The other day I did my periodic cleaning-off-the-fridge. You know, where you take down all the finger paintings/spelling tests/calendars/appointment cards/etc and for a few days- until the kids see there lies blank space to be filled- you remember what color the outside of your refrigerator is.

Among the things I took down and sorted into keep or throw out piles, was this picture.

I've had it hanging on the fridge since January or so, it is Wyatt's drawing of our family- Dad, Mom, himself, Jana and Skeeter. It is a great drawing, and I am glad we are all smiling. But his stupendous artistry isn't the only reason I've kept it on display all this time. What is truly striking about this picture is that green check mark and smiley face on top.

He was in Kindergarten when he created this masterpiece. His teacher and the classroom assistants would go around and sign off on things that were completed with a big, green check mark. If an assignment was done extra super well, they would even add a smiley face. Wyatt often got green check marks, and even occasional smiley faces- but this was the only time I had seen him add it himself. At first I thought, "Oh, how cute. He gave himself a stamp of approval, ha ha!"

But after seeing it hanging up for a few days, it really started to tug at my heart. I began to wonder: how often does my little guy have to reassure himself he did a good job...because nobody else did? I certainly intend no blame on his teacher, she was truly wonderful. Really, it was my conscience that was was pricked and I felt a little sad.

Wyatt has a silly streak (knowing his parentage this a not a great surprise), and is often being disciplined at school because he is so impulsive and has a hard time staying focused. We've altered his diet, taken him to pediatricians and psychologists (ADHD was ruled out), talked with him over and over, tried additional exercise after school, implemented reward and consequence plans...the works. But the fact is, he's a 6 year-old boy who hasn't figured out how to control his urges- like, say, the urge to grab some toilet paper and soak it in the sink and throw it around. Or perhaps to suddenly start making underarm farting sounds during reading group. He's not a bully, he's always polite and apologetic when reprimanded, but he does spend a fair amount of time losing privileges because of his silly behavior. And when he gets home and Daddy and I see that he was in trouble and being disruptive to his classmates again, I confess we get a little frustrated. 

Which is why I kept this right where I could see it. It reminds me that when he really is trying his best, he needs to be acknowledged, even when his best still seems to fall short. The only thing my little boy really wants is to be accepted. To have us be proud of him and to be secure in the knowledge that he is loved and wanted, and to have someone to tell him he is good enough. The world has more than enough negative messages for my children. They need someone they can count on for reassurance.

I have been an epic failure lately in telling my kids how wonderful they are, and cheering for all the things they do right. It is frighteningly easy to slip into nitpicking about the socks in the front entryway, and the little candy cane shards on my keyboard, the bickering over a toy that is suddenly incredibly desirable after not being so much as touched for months, and on and on...but if that is all they ever hear from me, who else will be their greatest cheerleader? The person they can come to when everyone else turns away? The anchor in and shelter from the absolute hurricane that is public school these days?

That little green smile and that cute, backwards check mark remind me each day that above all, I need to love and accept them and their efforts. I will do my best to patiently teach them, but they will make mistakes as they grow- in fact, it seems they'll make some of the same mistakes about a million times, just to be sure it's not a good choice. But among all the things I am trying to teach them and get them to understand, there is nothing more important for them to grasp onto than simply that they are loved.

Jeffrey R Holland recently said,

So be kind regarding human frailty... Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.

Then there's this quote from Gordon B Hinckley:

There is a bumper sticker seen much of late that asks the question, “Have you hugged your child today?” How fortunate, how blessed is the child who feels the affection of his parents. That warmth, that love will bear sweet fruit in the years that follow. In large measure the harshness that characterizes so much of our society is an outgrowth of harshness imposed on children years ago.

My kids deal with my imperfections, and forgive my mistakes so readily it makes me cry sometimes. How important it is for me to do the same for them. How important for them to know they can always count on a green check from me.

Suffice it to say, this drawing kept its place on the fridge. I'm gonna go hug my kids.

Monday, August 26, 2013

How Embarrassing!

So, in honor of Wyatt's first day of school today, I pulled out my actual camera instead of just using my phone to click a few pictures. When I got home and looked through them- and consequently glanced through the other photos I still had on there- I was embarrassed. Are these...seriously...from LAST CHRISTMAS?

Yep! So here it is folks, pictures from Christmas 2012 and everything up until today. You know, from the occasions that seemed to me to merit the camera itself and not just the iPhone. There you have it. 

Christmas Eve jammies!

What a difference 3 years makes, right?!

A TRANSFORMERS bike, honestly how could Santa resist?!

Literally loving the new camouflage shirt from Grandma Anderson.

Yay! A toothbrush you can put *stickers* on!

Playing the new Wii Super Mario Bros. game with Daddy

Even ballerina princesses need good hygiene.

I'm just sitting here looking noble.

Anderson family at Admiral Yi's Shrine

This picture illustrates what I see a lot of in my life these days. My two children, running ahead far faster than I can keep up with. So far ahead I can hardly see them. *sigh* Hopefully after baby gets here, I'll be better at keeping up.

...but I doubt it.

The view out our balcony window from our new apartment on post!

I love that the new housing is right on the edge of post so we can still see the rice paddies and feel like we're still in Korea. I am very fond of it here.

Skeeter helping me fold laundry.

An impromptu morning tea party. Their tea, I later discovered, was made of sugar water. Mostly sugar. Very sticky.

Oh, how this girl loves to dress up and dance!

My tough guy. He informs me that when he grows up, he'll go to China to attend Ninja School.

Wyatt and Skeeter.

This is at 27 weeks. This little guy is measuring big, and I really hope he comes a couple weeks early. I am already bigger than I was with Wyatt or Jana when they were born and I still have 9 weeks to go. Yikes!

It's a box.

Full of monkeys.

My favorite monkeys in all the world.

First day of first grade! I can't believe how grown-up he is.

Wyatt and Jana, and of course, a Lovey.

Man, I love this kid.

And here's Jana doing an interpretive dance around the bubble maker.

And that's us. Time to go pick up Wyatt from his first big day.

Hope you are all well and happy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why, Hello Blog!

Long time, no see, my dear blog. I have spent less and less time actually sitting at my computer over the past 18 months. Partly because I can do almost everything from my phone, partly because my office is always the last place to get cleaned and therefore my least favorite place to be...

...and partly because sitting at my computer makes me see the 418 unopened e-mails and the poor, lonely blog that hardly ever sees any action anymore. And I feel a little guilty.

I commented to Lee the other day that when my kids were very small, the act of going out in the backyard to have a picnic was blog-worthy.

Now I freaking live in South Korea, my kids are growing and changing as fast as ever, and I am completely horrid about getting my camera out and documenting my life. Now is NOT the time to drop the ball, Melody!

I spent the last half hour perusing all my old posts and really, truly appreciating how thoroughly I had documented all the big and little things over the past several years. I want to get back to that!

First some news bites:

Lee is working hard and is a wonderful Daddy and husband. We love him, and have really come to appreciate spending time with Daddy because it's gotten a little hard to come by! Wyatt and Daddy rescued Princess Peach on New Super Mario Brother Wii a few nights ago, and that was a BIG deal. Way to go, boys! 

I am expecting baby #3, and we are all really excited. Especially now that my around-the-clock-sickness is winding down. A few more weeks should see me being a normal (pregnant) person! 

Wyatt just finished Kindergarten. He is smart and funny and energetic and creative and loves to be helpful and make everyone laugh. He is such a joy.

Jana is 4 and is enamored with all things princess, ballerina, shiny, sparkly, flowers, butterflies, rainbows and jewelry and perfume and OH MY GOODNESS is she a girl! She is just brimming with feminine cuteness.

Skeeter is such a good dog. And he's getting a bath as soon as I'm done blogging.

Here's a few pictures from Grammy's trip to see us in May:

Wyatt holding up a Japanese Maple leaf. This has long been my favorite tree, and I love that they are all over in this country!

Mommy and Jana at Admiral Yi's Shrine

Daddy, Jana, and Wyatt waiting patiently for Mommy and Grammy (let's be honest, Grammy was just being nice and pacing slowly with me!) to get up the millions of stairs to the shrine.

Admiral Yi is a widely known Korean hero, for his brave and innovative military actions against the Japanese in the late 1500's. Any Korean can tell you about him. This shrine is built on a property he once owned, and some of the trees in the area are more than 500 years old. 

I love admiring the traditional Korean buildings- the ceilings and intricate wood working are just amazing.

Daddy and Jana placing incense at the shrine.

Beautiful landscaping. And lots of fish to feed. The whole family had a nice time!

Here we are at a traditional "beef and leaf" Korean restaurant. I can say without hesitation one of the things I will miss most about Korea is the FOOD!

Daddy and Wyatt. This restaurant is our favorite, it's in Dunpo, a little suburb of Pyongtaek.

Mommy and Jana. I am drooling looking at these pictures. Even with all my pregnancy illness, I never got sick after eating a Korean meal. It's just so delicious and it's just so good for your body- yummy meat and tons of rice and vegetables.

I saw this while out walking the dog one morning and it made me laugh. Crane tracks next to the crane tracks. Ha ha!

There it is. I plan to start carrying my actual camera with me and uploading pictures every few weeks like I once did. My kids love love love to see pictures of themselves and places we have lived, and I simply cannot let this experience get lost!

We miss all our dear friends and family, and hope you are all well and happy. If you find yourself in need of a vacation destination, our doors are WIDE OPEN! :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

I Think I'm Back

You know how sometimes you write an entire blog post, and then read it over and think, "What the what? Have you not been sleeping well? Are you crazy?! Because that makes no sense, it's unnecessarily sentimental, it was all over the place, and ...SQUIRREL!"

No? Well, I do.

I didn't sleep well last night.
am a little crazy.
I am feeling unnecessarily sentimental.
Being all over the place is, unfortunately, my "thing" these days.
And, yes. Squirrel.

So, you faithful few who still check my lonely nomadic blog, thanks for tolerating my second attempt.
What follows is a dog-pile list of what has been on my mind lately. And it is all over the place, sorry. But when it's over, I will feel like my blog is caught up, and that's big for me. A Drop of Awesome , if you will.

* I love Korea. I do. The food, the culture, the scenery, the friends, the memories. It has all become precious to me. I will always look back on our time here with a grateful heart.

* With that said, I miss our families and friends back home so terribly that at times it literally makes my heart ache. I am almost equal parts of sorrow and joy knowing we are not quite halfway through our time here.

* My daughter has declared she wants to change her name to Angelina Ballerina. She gets quite agitated if someone has the audacity to address her by anything besides "Angelina."

* Optimus Prime was my son's moniker of choice for a long time. But it has given way to Super Mario, which is fun and much easier to explain (because yes, he learned who Optimus Prime was by watching a violent, PG-13, Megan-Fox-inundated movie). Thank you, Nintendo.

* I have learned that depression in Korea is similar...nay, depression anywhere else.

* I have baked more cookies in the last 15 months than I have in the last 15 years combined. This is no joke. That is one aspect of being a military wife I totally did not foresee.

* I think I may finally have figured out my husband's Love Language. This is a big deal, as my husband is a man of few words, few emotions shown, and pretty much no inclination to prance about and discuss his feelings. (Okay, maybe nobody really needs to prance, but the likelihood of his deeply pondering, identifying, and discussing his own emotional needs is JUST as likely as his cavorting about in a pink tutu. Seriously. I love the man.)

* Michael Buble's voice does for my ears what Almond Roca does for my mouth. Ah, yum.

* I love our branch here. Being in a remote military location seems to cause a sort of polarization- there are not many fence-sitters here. Most who choose to be active in the branch are ALL in, and their faith, service and kindness is much of what has made our experience here exceptional. I love the gospel and the wonderful way it provides me with an instant family no matter where I am.

* If you have partaken of a maple-frosted donut recently, know that I am insanely jealous of you. If you have not, please do so in my behalf. I can make do without WalMart or Arby's or even *gasp* TJ Maxx, but I sure am missing those donuts.

* I do not have a pituitary adenoma. I have a clean MRI to prove it. Huzzah.

* If you can envision a country roughly the size of Indiana, excepting a population just over 7 times as many as that of Indiana, and imagine all the local drivers to have the courtesy and common sense of a 15 year-old with a Learner's Permit and the sure knowledge that no police officer will bother to pull them over EVER- then you can imagine driving in South Korea. I doubt I will ever miss the lane-jockeying, law-ignoring,  horn-happy craziness that we encounter just trying to get across town.

* I never used to be able to fathom how a person could live in another country for years and never manage to learn how to communicate in the local language. Well, after over a year here I've mastered three words. I get it now, and I have a new found sympathy for every Spanish-speaking patient I ever cared for. My sincerest apologies.

* My dog loves Korea. Because it is overrun with stray cats.

* I wish I had news about a third Anderson baby being en route, but I don't. Said Elder Neal A Maxwell, "Faith in God includes faith in His timing." So faith is what I have.

* I had never deeply considered how strange English must sound to those who don't speak it. Have you ever thought about the word wow? W-o-w. It sounds ridiculous. Koreans who are deeply surprised or impressed utter this sound: "Hwa!" It sounds ridiculous too. So now I inwardly giggle anytime I hear "Wow!" OR "Hwa!"

And there you have it. One big ol' mind-dump.

Happy Groundhog Day from the Land of the Morning Calm!