Bullocks with Butterflie Wings

Here’s Your Sign

Posted in blogging, homeschooling, Korea, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 20 July 2013

I realize that I have not posted much (any) in relation to our new homeschooling venture. We decided, based on a plethora of reasons, for me to homeschool our son while we are stationed overseas. Whether this will continue when we go back to the States is still completely up in the air, just so you all know.

Our son is extremely bright, and he learns new things quite rapidly. I know that if his mind is not being challenged, then he is almost lost to me, from a concentration standpoint. I was thinking over the weekend what I could do to help expand his horizons -and talents- even further, and incorporate this into our homeschooling plans.

When he was a baby, we did the baby sign language “thing.” I can actually give my Mom full credit to this, as she is the one who started it. During my husband’s deployment to Iraq, I had the blessing of still living in my hometown. This meant I could keep working, and between an alternative work schedule and my awesome family, I did not have to use daycare for our then nine-month-old. My Mom is a PBS nut, and in turn, raised my sister and I into the same, so since she had the “morning shift,” she would watch Sesame Street and whatnot with The Boy. At the time, the local station was also airing a fantastic show called “Signing Time with Alex and Leela (sp?)” by Rachel Coleman. The show features two deaf children, and Rachel teaches themed words put to songs.

Now we’ve always been interested in signing, but never really studied it. I began to see the cool factor in being able to actually communicate with your child before they can speak with their mouths. I am now a firm believer in that it made an impact on our son’s early vocabulary growth, and even on into his ability to read at three-years-old.

I really don’t remember what brought it up, but he was asking me how to sign a specific letter over the weekend, so I showed him the ASL alphabet a few times. I decided that this is something to explore more and see how far we can go with it, so I printed out an ASL ABC’s and number chart to hang on the refrigerator. This was yesterday…and then to my delight, I walked into the kitchen and saw this…

image
(practicing the letter P)

He was challenging himself to see which letters and numbers he had remembered! It was really cool to stumble upon, after only one day, and I definitely felt like a proud Mama!

I have decided that we are going to start using sign language with our spelling assignments. We’ll spell verbally and use signing during the week, then have our tests in written form like usual on Fridays. Once he has mastered the alphabet, we’ll start learning some other signs that corelate to either his weekly memory verse or poems. I am pretty excited to see how far we can go with this!

Sweaty Cash

Posted in Korea, military by MommyTaco on 20 June 2013

ImageHere’s a ridiculous picture I took of me fanning myself off with some Korean money. I just got home from exchanging some cash (the exchange rate is higher today than usual!). While sweating it out on the walk home, I was feeling quite proud of myself with my new found language skills. I can successfully ask for a 50,000₩ note (o-man won)  to be changed into five 10,000₩ notes (man won)! Actually, I can also ask for a 1,000₩ note (il-ch’on won) to be changed into ten 100₩ coins (paek won), too. I took my mad Korean Language Class skills that I learned from the class at ACS (Army Community Service, for those non-Army folk) and put them to good use a few weeks ago. Around here, you never want to go to the market with a 50,000₩ bill, because you’re not likely to find someone who can make change for it when you’re just paying a few thousand won for an item. They also seem to find it a big inconvenience. So I try to keep the big money for the bills only.

So…it’s getting hot here, and quite humid, as you’ll also note from the layer of sweat shine on my forehead and nose. Monsoon season is upon us, so we’re pretty much going around with a constant feeling of yuck on our skins. Remember all those times I said I was tired of living in the desert? Well I take it back, for the next couple of years. Until we retire in the glorious mountains of either Colorado or Washington states, I doubt I’ll ever stop complaining about the type of weather we’re living in.

That’s all of the big news around here for now. I’ve had other things I want to blog about, but at the time the idea comes up, I either am busy doing something else, or busy doing something else. I get about 1.5 hours of free time each day during the week, thanks to the joys of homeschooling. That is dripping with sarcasm like my husband’s PT shirt drips with sweat (gross!). Really, I suppose the homeschooling is going well…I haven’t given up yet…but there’s a long way to go for us figuring out our routine. Unfortunately, I’m a person who wants instant results, and the rollercoaster good days vs. bad days does not encourage me one single bit. But I am still completely sold on the decision to be doing it, and am looking forward to the options I have for tweaking our routine up for the summer time.

Mail Call – *MY* Side of the Story

Posted in blogging, Korea, marriage, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 29 March 2013

I started to post this on Facebook, sharing a photo my husband uploaded today, but it got to be so long of a post that I decided I should just turn it into a blog. I haven’t blogged in a few days either….two birds, one stone. Also, this is one of those moments we will both look back upon and laugh with each other. Guaranteed….

There is never a dull moment for our family. This morning, we walked to post to catch the Saturday mail room hours, PX and Commissary. Taco hit the mailroom while Sid and I did the shopping. We found him at the bus stop next to Gate 4 pissed off at me with two giant boxes (The Boy’s homeschool materials already arrived!) and a Priority mail box (thanks, Mom!) and showed me where, for carrying sake, he had already opened my box of Scentsy Scent Paks and had shoved them in his pants, along with a DVD from his parents. Judging by the look on his face, he was pretty pissed at me, but all he said was to order in moderation from now on, and he’s never picking up mail for me again. When asked why he didn’t call a taxi, he said “it’s just down the street” to our house. So I struggled with a power transformer and two full hands of grocery sacks down the street with The Boy complaining that his bag from the PX containing his newly purchased DS game (bought with his own money that he has been saving from his allowance) and a bottle of water was getting too heavy. Apparently we are going to have to start some type of muscle building routine into his Homeschool/PE time.

Taco was offered a ride from one of his fellow Soldiers who saw us coming out of the gate, but declined as, “it’s just down the street.” We each stopped a few times, to readjust the weight around and give our arms a break, and I got far enough ahead of Taco that I couldn’t really see him anymore. Just as we reached the street corner of by our house, I met up with a new acquaintance – the pastor’s wife for a church that we have been invited to attend for Easter Service and potluck lunch. So I chatted with her for a while about the predicament and assured we’d see each other tomorrow morning. As I climbed the stairs to our house, I decided that it would be very kind of me to drop the groceries off inside the kitchen and return to help my struggling husband. One of these boxes weighed nearly 50lbs, and they were really big and awkward. I really did feel bad.

As I reached to put the key in the door, I saw a car drive up, it’s driver a Korean man smirking in what I assumed to be contained laughter. Then out climbs my husband from the passenger seat. He apparently was offered another ride home, and by then, he decided it was not worth declining a second time. As he unloaded the stash from his pants, I asked again, “why didn’t you get a taxi??” His reply, “because I only had two dollars in my wallet!!”

I had money on me, we could have called a cab at the bus stop, if only he’d said so before. But maybe he has learned now to always keep at least 4 Korean Won in his wallet at all times – it’s just enough to get you from post to our house.

I would also like to add that my husband knows how very much I love him and how very much I love to pick on him. Like my Granddad always told me, he most of all liked to pick on the ones that he loves most of all. 🙂

Never Give Up

Posted in cooking, food, Korea, military by MommyTaco on 17 March 2013

894900_10151281703917035_1691354965_oFor the most part, this past week was one of those that I’d prefer to forget ever happened, rather than write down in any type of journal. I was full of all types of emotional instability, sprouting from a difficult start on homeschooling on Monday. Add in the fact that my husband was gone all week with work, our first week in our new home, and a whole lot of feeling lonely and sorry for myself. I was badly missing my friends that would always be there to cheer me up whenever he was gone. I’m not going to lie to you, I flat out lost it on Monday. I was a mess.

Finally, on Thursday, good things had started to happen and I was starting to feel mostly better. I also had something to look forward to that day: Pie Day! (March 14th, 3/14, aka Pi Day) For Pie Day, I planned to use my new Korean oven for the first time and bake a cherry pie. It required minimal effort, minimal ingredients – all of which I can find at our minimal commissary – and resulted in a whole lot of awesome. I even went the extra mile and bought some vanilla bean ice cream to go along with it. Hey, it was a rough week, I definitely earned the extra treat.

Now let me start out by emphasizing the fact that not only are things different here in Korea culturally, but stuff flat out works differently. For some reason, I was having some severe issues getting the oven to stay on. I knew it couldn’t possibly be that the pilot light was out, because in Korea they have a gas line that you manually turn on/off to your stove when you are/not using it – for safety! So there is no way a pilot light would stay on when the fuel supply is off…it’s got to be an electric starter. On this oven, you push the temp knob just like you do starting one of the stove top flames. I could hear it click, I could hear the whoosh of the gas catching fire, but as soon as I let go of the knob, it went out. So frustrating!!

I gave up, paced the house in disappointment, and told my son we weren’t going to have pie after all. I’m not sure which of us was more disappointed. I tried once more on the oven, willing the stupid thing to work – and like a gift from God, it stayed on! I danced a jig in sheer delight and began my pie preparations. I had already thawed my frozen pie crust, so I grabbed my $3.99 can opener I’d purchased in the commissary along with the cans of cherry. It was one of those cheap metal can openers that practically cut your hand as much as the can when you crank that awful metal handle. I didn’t want to buy a regular one for $6.99 when I have a perfectly good can opener coming with our household goods in just a few weeks.

One crank on the can opener, good. Two cranks – SNAP!!! It broke. Naturally. The small piece of metal that causes the can to rotate when you crank it had gone flying across my dining room. It was now completely useless to me. Naturally. It just completely fit in with the crappy week I’d already had. I was devastated. I really didn’t feel like going out of the house again to buy a new one, but 1) I really wanted that pie and 2) I couldn’t just leave the can with a 1/4″ hole punctured in it.

So I started looking around for my husband’s trusty gerber, which I have been using in the past two moonths to knife open cans since I didn’t want to buy that $3.99 can opener in the first place. I couldn’t find the gerber anywhere, Taco was still not coming home for two more days, and I couldn’t call to ask where the gerber was. So I tested out a butter knife. I really didn’t think I’d have much luck, but I actually sawed 1/3 of the way around the can before I started to wonder if I was getting aluminum shavings into the pie filling. Also, my hand was starting to seize in a cramp from holding the butter knife like that for so long. I gave up, told my son to get his shoes on – we were going to the PX for a $6.99 can opener. And, not wanting to risk house fire, I turned off the oven, praying it would start up again when we got back.

We went to the PX, got the can opener, made a last minute decision on a bottle of non-ration-controlled wine that I was going to drink all by myself dagnabit, and headed home. Before we even left post, I decided that the frozen lasagna I’d planned for dinner could kiss my you-know-what and we were going to have chicken fried rice and cheesy ramen at our favorite Korean restaurant instead.

Afterwards, we went home and I started the oven after the 4th attempt. I finished the whole bottle of wine before the pie was done. By then, it was way past our bed time, I was too tired to wait for the pie to cool off and decided that we would just have it for breakfast the next day. It was, after all, still Pie Day in America.

Parking Wars

Posted in military, moving by MommyTaco on 14 March 2013

Parking Wars

First of all: I live in Korea! WOAH! That pill has been swallowed, and – while bittersweet – the lump is starting to dissolve and we are slowly integrating into our new surroundings. Here is one of  the experience I feel worth documenting as my first “In Korea” blog post.

Between 0730-0800 is one of my new favorite times of day. Here in our new home, our livingroom window faces the parking lot of an apartment complex. It is a little hard to see, thanks to the window fence and power pole. (Click it, make it bigger!) There are some cars that are parked blocking other cars into their parking spaces. This, of course, is because there are not enough spots for everyone that lives there. I have never seen anything like this before. Where I come from, if you blocked a car in, you’d have half the neighborhood having their doors banged down until someone finds you to over your car. In Korea, they park it in neutral and whoever is blocked in just moves the car forward/backward so they are no longer blocked. This leads to a pretty entertaining morning as everyone seems to be leaving for school/work at the same time!

Also, check out the small distance left between the cars parked in the middle. Not a lot of room to pull out of your space and be able to turn and drive out, right? They can take what would be a 15-point turn around and knock it out in 3 or less! Something I have noticed in my Parking Wars watching is that Koreans are excellent at backing up their cars. They may not have a positive reputation for many things when it comes to vehicle operation, but I’ve got to give it to them – these people can reverse like it’s going out of style!

So that’s it…my first of what I hope to be many documentations of our new life. So far things are actually going pretty great, aside from missing friends/family like always. But no matter where in the world we go, we know we’ve got lots of love coming our way – and just remember, there’s a whole lot of love coming right back at you from us! ❤

best of 2010

Posted in blogging, concerts, deployment, military, parenting by MommyTaco on 30 December 2010

My BFF MeganDubYuh is starting up a nifty little End of Year meme that I wanted to be sure to participate in. Here’s the deets for you to follow along:

“It is so easy to focus on the negative things in our life. Let’s all take a minute to talk about the best moments of 2010. In the five categories below list out your #1 from 2010. Post it on your blog and link back to this post (and post to Mr. Linky at the end of the post). We can use this as a blog hop and to review the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century.

The categories:

Best song to sing along to in the car.
Best movie.
Best TV show.
Best website to waste time on.
Best memory you made.

My Answers:
Best song to sing along to in the car
hard to pick a Best song, but the most frequently listened to was “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas – Sidney absolutely LOVES that song and would request it for each of our MANY road trips

Best movie.
Toy Story 3

Best TV show
What Would Brian Boitano Cook? (thanks @ajuribe for the super laugh-fest recommendation!)

Best website to waste time on
Facebook. Seriously, I couldn’t begin to tell you how much time I’ve wasted on there.

Best memory you made
There’s no #1 best but here’s a few amazing memories that were made: first official deployment ceremony, sending off my man;
becoming a Scentsy Independent Consultant;
road tripping from NM to WA w/ my BF MeganDubYuh;
the ups and downs of R&R;
visiting my high school BFF for the first time in 9 years;
seeing The Black Crowes for a second time – woo!;
meeting some of my Tweeps, @sara0120, @ajuribe, @tammymunson and @armywifebethany;
making friends with some of the lovely other spouses of Taco’s unit, and the Twitter MilSpouse community…and finding that we really can make it through one of the most difficult events of our lives

I must say, this year has not been a boring one!

a vicious cycle

Posted in deployment, military by MommyTaco on 28 December 2010

Ahhh, the deployment cycle. That never ending process that looms in the back of the minds of Military Spouses. For your entertainment value, I made up my own MilSpouse version of the deployment cycle (seen at left).

I started thinking about the cycle tonight, remembering a few of my fellow MilSpouse Tweeps (wow, I really just used that word), who are gearing up to face a deployment of their own. It makes me think back on when I was getting ready for our deployment. Thinking of who was getting into their stages of Excited or Ooo La La. I think how I felt a little pang of jealousy at those who were welcoming their men home just as mine was leaving. I wish I hadn’t felt jealous, because I was so excited for them to be reunited with their men but still, it is only natural. As this deployment cycle clicks to the next stage for all of us, I’m going into Excited now and others are soon to be Emotionally Unstable. I will be doing my best to keep the excitement low-key and remain a support to those facing their hardest moments.

Please remember each and every one of our MilSpouse Family just as we remember their spouses who serve.

Frontierville (not)Anonymous

Posted in blogging, deployment, games, military, technology by MommyTaco on 31 October 2010

Pre-ramble: I have an addictive personality, and relish the thought of living in a virtual realm. RPGs are the bane of my existence and I forbid myself to touch The Sims again until The Boy (and future children) are graduated and out of the house.

Sometimes I wake up early (i.e. before The Boy) only so that I have quiet time while I feed my cows and geese on Frontierville. That’s right, I’m a Frontierville junkie and it seems to be the only thing that I look forward to in the day. As John Lennon put it best, “whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright.”

As sad as it seems, this is what gets me through the night. Once this deployment is over, I have full intentions on cutting the habit – cold turkey – and deleting the wretched program. Honestly, what is wrong with me that I would rather feed some virtual chickens and harvest imaginary potatoes than wash the dishes in my REAL sink? It’s such a waste but at least there is something I actually have motivation for.

It started on R&R, when Taco was home. Rather than going out of the house and doing things together, we opted to save money and have a stay-cation. (FYI: I hate that word.) Where did we stay? Our dining room table. It was a pretty sad sort of set up, I had my laptop and Taco had his netbook and we sat there for hours at a time feeding animals and harvesting crops on Farmville. I had tried the game before, but decided it was the biggest waste of time I’d ever made and let my animals starve and my crops whither. Taco, however, has been obsessed with it almost the moment his foot touched the South Asian sand. No, there must not be more gratifying things for him to do over there. But again, whatever gets him through the night.

Naturally, these crops of his could not be laid to waste for two weeks while he was at home, so I decided that if I couldn’t beat the addiction, I’d join it…temporarily…or so I thought. We sat there at the table together where we discovered a new addiction: Frontierville. Oh joy! Now there were TWO virtual wastes of time to harvest! I even became ecstatic when Zanga announced the release of the free Farmville application for the iPhone/iPod. Now I could harvest my strawberries while spending productive time on the shitter!

I have since deleted Farmville because it took up entirely too much time to plant, harvest, plow and plant again. Frontierville? Yeah it’s still there and my frontier is bigger than ever. I’ve strategically planted my crops not only where I know I’ll have enough energy to harvest at once, but also I’m planting for the most pay-out. Same for my animals: I will feed 50 Ox over 50 chickens because the Ox give out more food when you sell them.

Besides the mental distraction for myself, it has continued to be something that Taco and I are able to do together. It’s better than getting back into Word of Warcraft, and we don’t have to depend on his crappy internet connection. On the very rare moments that we are online at the same time, our conversations will always lead to what the other needs help with on their Frontier. What items do we need to complete missions? What crops do we need harvested or the likes? It’s quite ridiculous that this is how we are spending our precious time talking and of the things I look forward to the most, it’s the moment where I delete the application from my Facebook and put my foot down that he does the same thing. It’s bad enough how much time he spends on the Playstation, God help us if the Farmville/Frontierville addiction continues on top of that.

P.S. Anyone want to be my Frontierville neighbor?

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In vol. 14

Posted in blogging, deployment, military, technology, travel by MommyTaco on 24 September 2010

Here I am almost a whole month since my last post and even a few weeks behind on Wifey of A Sailor’s MilSpouse Friday Fill-In. I have been dealing with what I’m going to call the Deployment Blues. Absolutely nothing tickles my fancy, especially sitting in front of the computer. I’ve mostly been reading books or knitting, which suits me just fine. There’s a “real” blog post brewing in my brain, I will probably post that here in the next week or so. But for now, you’ll have to be satisfied with another MilSpouse Friday Fill-In (I’ll do a catch up for the past missed weeks later).

This week’s questions…
1. What characteristic about yourself has either been strengthened or weakened due to your experience as a Military Spouse? (from The Albrecht Squad)
I would have to say that I have more confidence as an individual. I have never been the type to rely on other people or feel the need of being around people all the time. Yes, I miss my husband like you would not believe, but I feel accomplished at not being a sobbing ball of mess 24/7 with him gone. And let’s face it, girls/guys, but we’re pretty much on our own with our men/women gone. I am just super blessed to have an awesome support system that I know I can lean on when I am just having one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

2. What is your favorite vacation spot and why? (from ‘Tis the Life of the Army Wife)
Well that’s a tough one. I am going to throw a generic answer out there and say anywhere with mountains and lots and lots of green trees. I have gone visiting a ton of people over the last year, but I can’t remember the last time that I had an honest to God vacation. i.e. no agenda, no responsibilities other than the daily Triple S (shit, shower & shave).

3. If you could have any fast-food restaurant in the food court on base/post what would you pick? (from The Only Pink in a House of Blue)
Like if I could name what restaurant to be put in place? Hmmm…that is hard because the Ft Bliss PX is going through a major overhaul and will contain a shit-ton of stuff already. I suppose I would pick something that you can only get back home, Taco Box.

4. Where did you go on your honeymoon? (from Pennies from Heaven)
Non-applicable. Still waiting for our honeymoon…maybe this coming summer?

5. If you could have any job in the world regardless of money, degree or experience, which job would you have and why? (from Proud to Be a Navy Family and The Calm Before The Storm)
I’m going to refer back to a previous question/answer from MilSpouse Friday Fill-In vol. 2, question #1

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In vol. 9

Posted in blogging, cooking, food, military, travel by MommyTaco on 20 August 2010

Holy cow, I’m actually posting the Q&A on it’s debut day! My apologies to those who read/follow my blog that I haven’t posted anything other than these fill-ins for the last several weeks. Trust me that there is a lot going on in my head, but unfortunately so much that I can’t seem to sit down and wrap my head around any one thing in order to blog it. So for now, this post is again dedicated to Wifey of A Sailor’s MilSpouse Friday Fill-In (which I am seriously loving, btw). Don’t forget to check out Mr Linky on her page so that you can meet/read about the other amazing MilSpouses who participate in this weekly meme!

This week’s questions are extra special since they come from fellow participants, whose blog links are included:

1. If you could be a fugitive from the law for whatever reason, what would your crime be? (from It’s a Hooah Life)
I can’t think of any reason that I would WANT to be a fugitive, but one that I probably SHOULD be in trouble for is speeding. I have a serious lead-foot and can easily shave off 30-45 minutes (minimum) from suggested arrival time on any road trip that I take.

2. How long do you think you will be a military family? (from Julie the Army Wife)
Forever and ever, amen. My belief: once a military family, always a military family – even if your family no longer actively serves in it. It is an experience that makes such an impact on your life that there is no way to erase it. Our plan is for Taco to retire from the military, but we will always be a military family and a part of THE military family as well.

3. What’s your favorite recipe? (from Keep Calm and Soldier On)
Good grief, that is a hard one to nail down! I am gonna have to go with good old rolled dumplings for chicken & dumplings. I really don’t need any chicken or veggies, just the broth & dumplings is enough to keep me quite happy!

4. What would you want your last five words to be when you leave this life? (from My Goal is Simple)
“See you on the flip-side!” (from Boondock Saints)

5. Where do you hope to retire? (from Pennies from Heaven)
I always said that I would like to retire in Colorado, even though I had never actually visited there until a couple of weeks ago. It is still very high on my list but now the glorious state of Washington is a prime candidate, after the trip I took there with one of my besties, MeganDubyuh. All I really want is to live in GREEN, pine tree covered mountains on a nice big plot of land in the middle of nowhere, but close enough to a fairly large city/community for good shopping fixes. I have recently been considering the idea of opening a small bed & breakfast somewhere as well.