July 31, 2009

Never give up...

So the day starts out as usual...

I get Adam and Austin up for the new day at 6:45 am. We have to be at the stadium for the semi-final game by 8:20am. The game starts at 9:30am. The girls are still at camp, so I only have the boys to motivate +1...last night “G”, Austin’s friend, spent the night. However, things are OK. I am cranky, as usual, but today I seem to be in control since I figure there is nothing Adam can throw at me that he already hasn’t. Right...

I figure I will make French toast and load them with carbs and try give them some extra fuel...

Adam: “Ah...Dad...I don’t have my medicine.”

Me: “Where is it?” Looking at me for signs of emotion.

Adam: “At Ttukseom.”

FYI Ttukseom is the practice field...it is locked this morning and we have no way to get there before the game anyway...I think to myself...“No big deal...he can skip them...I will not get angry.”

Me: “Where are your baseball cleets?”

Adam: “At Ttukseom.” His face starting to look worried.

I think to myself...“He can wear his regular shoes and he probably won’t play either...I will not get angry.”

Me: “Where is your baseball glove?”

Adam: “At Ttukseom.” His face is now showing panic mixed with terror.

He thinks I am going to flip...worse yet...he fears what the Coach will do. I can not disclose the torture he exacts on the Korean players for minor infractions. Forgetting your glove on game day is unknown territory...who knows what kind of torture he may dream up. I think Adam is ready to pee his pants.

I think to myself...“Adam can borrow Austin’s second glove...there is no way to get that stuff in time for the game...but this is not cool”...I am getting angry...but I catch myself. Hmmm...so I just tell ‘G’ to text the coach to bring Adam’s bag...problem solved...and I have kept my composure.

But I can’t help myself...so I tell ‘G’ not to mention to Adam that the Coach replied that he will bring Adam’s bag. I want Adam to sweat a little... ;-) Which he does...until he gets to the stadium and one of the players tosses Adam his bag...to Adam’s visible relief.

So the game starts out with a bang!...Dongbu tortures their opponent to the tune of 7 to 0 very early on...

...Austin hits two doubles, a fielders choice and strikes out once. He is productive on defense as well.

However, Dongbu starts getting arrogant and in the 5th inning their opponent scores 5 runs. Our coach goes ballistic! Too many dumb errors...

NEVER GIVE UP...especially...don’t give up on yourself...

But I have to confess...it was nice to watch the Coach torture my boys rather than me...someone besides me to be the bad guy...I can save my mental energy...payback for what ever I forgot to catch them on ;-)...Secretly, I think the other parents may have felt the same way ;-).

In the end, Dongbu regained their composure and won the game 11 to 7. A lesson was learned about not giving up and I didn’t let myself lose it when Adam forgot his baseball equipment. A good day! We advanced to the final game! ESPN on Monday!

You heard of soccer moms? Well, above, watching every move on the field, are baseball ajuma (moms). I have grown to love them, but don’t make them mad... ;-)

Yes...it was a fun game to watch!

I never get tired of watching Austin...he makes my heart pound every time he is out there! Today was a great day for him.

Next post...Championship Game!!!

July 30, 2009

Adam Attack!!!

So today was quite a day!

I figured it would be an easy day. There are no baseball games today. Amanda and Alex are going to camp today. Of course, I will post their camp adventures too. Anyway, Amanda and Alex head out to camp, Austin goes to baseball practice, Adam goes to Ohkyu’s because he is resting his leg, and I can concentrate on digging up work...

...I thought wrong!

Austin calls me in a panic and tells me there is a game today at 5:30pm! He needs his jersey...now! Alex tells me she is not feeling well. I give her a pep talk and comfort her and catch the train to bring Austin his jersey.

When I get to the practice field, the coach, through translation, asks about Adam. Adam has been out of base ball for a week due to an infected mosquito bite. Adam...don’t scratch! Today, Adam is fine, but I am still keeping him out of baseball. However, the coach tells me he will put Adam in the game today because the opposing team is weak. Seems reasonable...his leg is better now. This is Adam’s big chance to get in the game! Not much stress on the leg... Awesome! Grrrr... Now I have to run back and locate Adam. I was not anticipating this scenario.

Argh! :-x

Fine...just go back home and get Adam. Hmmm...easier said than done. I have about 2 hours to find him before the game. I check Ohkyu’s and his mother says they are at the soccer field. I run the half mile there...no Adam. I repeat this at least 4 times. Why? I think I lost my mind somewhere along the way. Now, I have Ohkyu’s mother, 2 sisters and father on their cell phones looking for Adam, who, is with Ohkyu somewhere. Safe, yes, but not here, where I need him.

So, I then spend the next 3 hours (I only had 2!) running back in forth to all the usual places. Literally, I swear I covered over 8 miles. At one point they found him, but through missed communication he left on his own and no one new where he was.

Finally, I threw my hands in the air and headed for the game. At some point, Adam will get hungry and come home to eat.

Well, unbeknown to me, it turned out he had gone all the way to the practice field. Impressive, but futile since the team had left for the stadium and Adam did not have his uniform.

So, I headed off to the stadium with Adam’s jersey and cleats just in case he showed up. And just as I rounded the corner into the subway station...who do I see...there was Adam...the chances of that are incalculable. Argh!!!! “Where were you!” You can fill in the rest of the recording...

I quickly dressed him on the train with a hundred curious Koreans watching. I did not care, I was on a mission! Get Adam in the game! Even if it is just one inning.

So, we get to the stadium. Late. It is the second inning. Just in time to see Austin at bat...

Austin get’s up to bat. Swing! ...foul ball...Swing! ...another foul...Then Krrack!!!

Austin slams the ball high and far just out of reach of the right fielder. By the time the ball hits the ground, Austin is rounding second.

The coach waives him on to third, then on and on until he crosses home plate! An in the park home run!!! The crowd went wild!

Dongbu went on to torture their opponent 9 to 0 and “mercied” them at the end of 4 1/2 innings

...but here is the kicker!

Just when the coach starts putting in the little kids, he says to Adam, “Adam! Defense?”

And what does Adam say? “Ahh...no...” And Adam doesn’t go into the game basically cause he did not feel like it...or something... I did not know this at the time or I would have kicked him in the pants to get out there. Either did Austin.

You can imagine my first reaction when I found out. And second, and third. OMG! After chasing him all over Seoul just to get him into the game...the big tournament game! Oh, I forgot to mention, they will be on Korean ESPN Monday if they win the next game. This is no small deal. No small deal to to everyone...but Adam is from another planet.

Well...maybe like me... ;-)

I finally got a grip. Hours later, that is.

Then I started thinking, it is great that Adam, 10 years old, has the ability, know how and freedom to romp around Seoul without a care. To be part of a great baseball team, to interact with kids like Ohkyu and his friends, to eat live octopus, etc. etc.

And...it’s awesome that he got to see his big brother slam an in the park home run during the big Asiana tournament. I am lucky to have an Adam to test me. Someone to really make me see what is important. Even when I can not see it at the time...

Hope you enjoyed the drama...there will be more. Trust me...

Stars are born

Amanda and Alexandria have been taking a ceramics class for the past month. They are learning first hand about technique and craftsmanship.

What is great is that it is taught by a studio of entrepreneurs who also sell their work at the store in the front of the studio. They are quite talented artists and do quite well in their business.

So the other day Amanda and Alex came home screaming that they were interviewed by KBS during their ceramics class. It was going to be broadcast on national television! Well, have a look...

The spot was for a news story about the up and coming neighborhood of Samcheong Dong. That is where we live right now... The girls were so excited to be on national television! Not just as tourists..

No, I have no idea what was said...but I am sure it was great. However, I think the funniest part is when I wack Adam to be quiet as I video taped the TV...you have to listen carefully... ;-)

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July 29, 2009

Parkbench Acupuncture

Oriental medicine is very well respected in Korea. On my way to the baseball game, I happened across these two women. At first, I just noticed two women sitting on a park bench, one chatting away on a cell phone; the other holding her hand.

Then I noticed something else...

I decided not to formally greet them since I didn't feel like shaking hands for some reason. I wish I was not so crazed to get to my sons' game or I would have chatted with them...

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Baseball Today! 야구 오늘! UPDATE

So we advance to the next game. Dongbu won today 7 to 0. Austin lined-out to center again, struck out and walked. Nothing spectacular to report, but a win is a win!

The next game will be more exciting.

Baseball Today! 야구 오늘!

Today is the second day of the Asiana Airlines baseball tournament in Seoul. So, I will post the results on my next posting... Dongbu (our team) did well and won their first tournament game last week, 5 to 3.

Austin hit the ball hard! He lined-out to center once and then got a base hit.

I tell you, its quite nerve racking putting your kids’ @##es on the line in front of hundreds of Koreans. They are watching their every move! It makes me nuts. Oh...what did I say? It’s a learning experience? ;-) No...a cultural learning experience? OMG! During those moments I think to myself “I must be out of my freakin’ skull!”

Austin says he feels the pressure and gets nervous...even a bit wobbly, but he doesn’t show it. His successes have definitely given him a lot more confidence. Similar for Adam.

But Adam is part of the younger kids on the team. So, he has to wait his turn. It can be harder for him to have to watch, but he is growing too and learning from Austin’s example.

Here we are with Ohkyu after the game. Ohkyu is great and very impressed with Austin.

I’ll make sure I post the results of tonight’s game ASAP!

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July 27, 2009

Solar Eclipse: look down to see it!

Normally, I pull Amanda out of bed each morning and drag her up the mountain for...well... “a little” exercise and alone time to talk. However, this morning Alex woke us both up with all sorts of glee and excitement. She usually sleeps, but this time she took me, Amanda and Yunji up the mountain to see the solar eclipse!

The last solar eclipse I remember witnessing was back when I was a freshman in college. I don’t know how many people get to see more than one solar eclipse in their life time. I started to look up information on that, but...most scientists give too much information...let me know the answer if you feel like digging through the mounds of scientific data on the web.

I will try to be short and sweet here...

Anyway, what is it that we are really looking for? I don’t have the exact answer, but it is not the eclipse itself. I believe it is the feeling we get witnessing such a dramatic event and sharing that event with others. Sometimes we spend too much time on the data and lose sight of the beauty and sense of community that surrounds us.

So, when we got up to the top of the mountain we encountered a group of middle school children and their teachers. They had brought special sun glasses so that they could view the eclipse...

...and were recording the event as classroom project. How cool is that!

We had brought pinholed pieces of card board because that is what I remember doing when I was in elementary school.

They saw us struggling with the make-shift equipment and lent us a pair of glasses. Nice...! The glasses work much better

...but I remember something about viewing the shadow through the pinhole...oh well...

Then the sky started to darken...everyone ooowed and aaawed...

But we had not really made a connection to the group of children on the mountain...yet...

Then we noticed something peculiar. If you looked under the trees, there were thousands of tiny crescent shaped shadows on the ground. The shadows were everywhere! The 4 of us started making shadows with our hands to see if that would work too...

One of the kids looked over at what Alex was doing and said “Wow! I just saw Harry Potter, you’re a wizard like him!” Soon afterward everyone was in a circle with us making shadows.

They all tried to see who could make the coolest shadow. Yes...Alex was a show off!

And so, the connection was made and the true reason we had all come to witness the eclipse was complete.

When we got back to the Lee’s even Austin thought it was cool...

July 26, 2009

Amanda’s 16th Birthday

So, I have fretted over what to do for Amanda’s 16th birthday for several years now. In the back of my mind I thought I would throw a huge party or maybe get her a red convertible sports car. For a while, I have been asking her what she needed...she always told me, “artwork supplies, clothes, jewelry, etc.”

As time grew nearer, I began to worry more because nothing I thought of seemed to be fitting and what she said she needed wasn’t going to work either. I definitely can not afford a car nor am I a “throw a party person.”

Then I decided what she really needed: a father. Someone to be there when she did not know where to turn. So, I thought that I would emphasize the point...

On her birthday, I took her out to the Top Cloud in Seoul for a nice “alone time” dinner. The gift? I did not get the a car, jewelry or clothes. I decided I would give her a symbol. Something to mark the passage of her 16 years and a sign of status. I found her an eunjangdo (은장도) dagger.

An eunjangdo (은장도) is an ornamental dagger, that used to be worn by Korean women of rank as a chest pendant and a symbol of their social standing. Under the auspices of Confucian moral obligation in medieval Korea, the dagger served as a weapon to save women from personal humiliation or peril. However, not by attacking the assailant, but by killing themselves as ‘to remain faithful to one’s spouse’. Maybe a bit much for today’s standards...but you get the point. ;-)

Dinner conversation was lovely and time well spent. I would never had a chance to talk to her if I threw a party and would never see her again if I actually got her a car.

After dinner, we went back home and the kids had cake ready. We all stuffed our faces with chocolate cake and ice cream...

...everyone autographed her birthday book and I began to worry about Alexandria’s 16th. OMG! That’s in 2 years!

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July 25, 2009

Rock Star Designer: Emil Goh

My friend, Emil Goh, is working on all sorts of design projects in and around Seoul. The other day he gave me a cool present...

I got the first of only 500 T-Money phone accessories...his latest creation!

While many Koreans have a chip in their phone, a T-Money Card or credit card with embedded T-Money, Emil came up with this retro-phone accessory. It’s reminiscent of the yellow paper one-way transit tickets. Which are now phased out.

This just adds a bit of personalization to your cell phone. It’s a bit more functional than a Hello Kitty Fruit Phone accessory strapped to your phone...argh!

You can charge the card in any subway station just like any other T-Money card.

Once charged, you are good to go! Do I still look like an expat now that I have a cool thingy hanging from my phone that gets me through the turn style? Probably...

So avoid the lines at the new vending machines...especially when you are in a hurry and get one of these little gadgets.

Oh, less chance that you will put the card through the wash like my kids have! Now Austin and Adam have bent T-Money cards that barely work. :-(

If you want one you, can find them at Second Hotel. I think they are pretty cool.

Maybe if I flash this around I might not look like such a tourist?

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July 18, 2009

Eating the crabs from mud beach!

Did I mention that we caught lots of crabs at the beach? Little bite sized crabs. Yum yum... And yes, kids, you are going to eat them!

Even the ones who are trying to escape. No one is getting out alive!

Some of us were ready to munch... A bit too ready, by the look on Alex’s face.
She actually made me a little nervous with her glee over crunching the little critters. Geez...

Oh, it was Amanda’s sixteenth birthday. No cake until you finish your crabs! This is a cultural experience! Damn it! Now eat them! ;-) Yes, she at it.

Austin posed for this, but would no chew. Adam... forget about it. I can barely get him to eat regular food. Adam started yelling when he heard Alex crunching the first one.

Of course she made a spectacle of the event.

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July 14, 2009

Mud beaches are the best!

We had this great idea to go to the beach. So, our neighbors, the Lees, decided to take us up on the idea and drive us to Gangwha Island near Incheon Airport. All right! Sun! Bikini clad women! Relaxation! Water... Well, not quite...

This is the before shot... OMG!

“Oh, Austin, let me put a little sunblock on your back...” “But Mr. Lee, I forgot the sunblock...” “Austin, we are in Korea! This is how we roll at the beach!”

“And sun bathing...I’ll show you how to bathe!” “In just a minute, I will show you how to exfoliate, as well.”

“And for a side dish tonight, we are going to have crabs...so start diggin!” “Put your backs into it!” “We don’t have all day!”

Ohkyu has the right idea...but this is going to take a while and we still have a load of fun to take care of...

Body surfing...Korean style...that’ll clean your teeth out, Austin...not to mention other parts of your anatomy...

With all that mud in his trunks, Adam had a hard time keeping his shorts on... ;-) A few times they fell off, but I will spare you the photos...

“Alex, you look freaking ridiculous!” LOL...

“Oh, Yea!” “Take this, buddy!”

“This means war!”

And so it went...we ran around like dogs all day and before we knew it we had spent over 6 hours slopping around in the mud. The best time I have ever had at the beach!

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