Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Love You

Today, after eating lunch in the food court at Home Plus, I was holding Sophie on my lap and loving on her.  After she looked up and gave me a kiss, she said "I love you."  It was pretty great.  It was the first time she has ever said "I love you" unprompted.

This evening at bath time, Sophie was playing with a blue submarine toy.  She thought it was an airplane, so I explained how it was a special boat that goes under the water.  Then I started singing a particularly rousing version of "Yellow Submarine."  When I finished, Sophie looked at me with concern and said "Submarine blue, Mama."  It's very hard to explain things to your poor, ignorant mother sometimes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Springtime in Korea

One of the best things about living overseas is the opportunity to adopt the rhythms of a new society and perhaps even a new geography.  As we enter our fourth spring in Korea, the changing seasons and yearly holidays are beginning to feel more natural to us.  Here springtime starts late, well after backpacks and packages of pristine school supplies proliferate in the aisles of the local department stores to mark the start of the school year in March.  Here early spring means cherry blossoms and azaleas in April instead of daffodils and crocuses in February or March.  I have never seen the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., but I have been to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae, South Korea and seen the whole island erupt with snowy flowers for the briefest beautiful spell each April.  Keegan and I have tried and failed twice to catch the peak of the azaleas blooming at the azalea mountain not far from our house - maybe next year will be the charm.

Daegeumsan, 2010 - Too late for blooms.
Daegeumsan, 2012 - Still a bit before the peak.

"Ummmm....yeah.  You guys brought me here too early for the full effect."
When we eventually get it right, we will see an entire hillside carpeted in purple.

Living in Korea, and especially out in Deokpo Beach, we are able to watch the less glamorous members of the plant world as well.  All of the local gardens look neat and fresh, with orderly rows of stakes and seedlings.  The garlic has begun to sport its puffy purple blossoms; soon we will see it drying by the side of the road or hanging in clumps from the eaves of traditional houses.  The ripe scent of fertilizer graces the infamous "stinky spot" on our running route, much to Sophie's delight.  (Well, she likes to say "Stinky spot!"  I don't think she likes the smell.)  Right now, the rice paddies are being cleared and plowed for the spring planting.  We've had a few good, soaking rains, long leisurely afternoons good for nothing but napping while the water pours down from the sky to fill the waiting rice fields.

Spring is also the season of windy afternoons and yellow dust storms bringing dust from the Chinese desert and pollution from Chinese cities.  The yellow dust is foul and can force people inside when it is heavy, so I won't linger on it.  But how about that?  We live close enough to China that the sands of the  Gobi desert can affect our lives.

In the parks and at the playgrounds, eager mothers and children swarm, enjoying the first few days of short-sleeve weather after the chilly winter.  In our parking lot in the evening, a gaggle of schoolkids and toddlers run wild and pedal all manner of bicycles and tricycles while their parents chat and welcome hard-working shipbuilders and inspectors home from work.

Enjoying the gorgeous azaleas at our apartment playground.
Deokpo Beach is beginning to have a festival atmosphere on weekends, complete with sunbathing English teachers and intrepid children braving the chilly water with enviable joy.

Here's hoping that pleasant weather endures for a while before the steamy days of summer begin.  Especially since my mom and dad will be here in two short weeks!

Someone is ready for summer!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Latest Words and Skills

While watching Sesame Street, anytime there's music:  "Mama, I like this music!"

While exercising with Mama:
Mama, counting:  "Eight...Nine...Ten."
Sophie, to Mama's complete surprise:  "Eleven!"
I was only going to do ten leg presses, but Sophie is a demanding coach!

New physical accomplishments include putting pants on by herself (still pretty hit or miss) and jumping off of things.