Saturday, June 28, 2008

WARNING! Child-eating monster on the loose!!!

Well, reading several of the most recent blogs which were more about babies and toddlers than anything else, someone might get the idea that JooYeon and I were on the verge of deciding to have children. And if that same someone were to see the following picture of JooYeon having bought several pieces of infant clothing (shown below), their idea might turn into a rumor.

And then if that someone would see some even more pictures of cute children like the ones below (back at Justin and Angie's), that rumor might to develop into substantiated hearsay.

But fret not all ye rumorseekers and hearsayonians! There's just a little too much wildness yet in these here veins that needs to course its way out before we have us some young 'uns - seriously - don't you think I'm EXUDING wildness in this picture?

So, I think I'll maintain my current role in the perfect family structure... the kind husband, hospitable wife, one boy, one girl, two dogs, and the crazy uncle (that's me!)

This time around, at Justin and Angie's, JooYeon and I went hiking in a state park with Justin explaining to JooYeon what communism was and aspects of our life together in the Castle of Neverwoo (and how the two topics were inextricably linked)...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Herds of Showalters!

The Showalter Reunion of Harrisonburg, Virginia was my first one in at least 15 years and so, for once, JooYeon knew about as many people as I did (thanks to her crystal-clear memory of all the names of my Dad's family from the previous day's ceremony). It was well attended by around 100 people (uncle Warren didn't make it). Dad was helping to head up the reunion so he put JooYeon and I in charge of entertaining the 6-12 year olds. There were only four - Jacob, Meredith, Claire, and Ellie (see "The Final Wedding").

We first "entertained" them by having them squat for as long as possible while we ate our lunches.
And then we "entertained" them by having them stand on one foot and touch their nose for as long as possible. They probably could have done it a lot longer except for the appearance of a mysterious man in a green shirt who hopped into them and bumped them over like dominoes (my dad).
By that time we were finished eating and they were ready to play some real games so we started with a traditional Korean game with wooden sticks and progressed to a superman version of hide and seek.

Monday, June 23, 2008

To bear or not to bear

Ask almost any traveler and they will tell you that their most meaningful experiences were not great sights like the Taj Mahal or even nature's wonders like the Alps or Himalayas, but rather the people they stayed with. This has certainly been the case for us and Ben and Lori's was a perfect example. It came at a well-timed moment when JooYeon and I were riding the fence about whether we ever want to have children. JooYeon had never really been around little children at all other than Justin and Angie's a few weeks ago and Laban and Katie's a month ago, and this time she had more opportunity to bond, especially with Grace. It was beautiful for me to see also since only three months ago, JooYeon had been upholding her firm stance that she hated kids (and I was a quasi-willing echo after having taught huge groups of Korean elementary kids for two years)

It started from the first night with the pooping decoy (see Grace-full pooping) and the car chat (where Grace pulled JooYeon out to the car just to talk), and deepened when Grace began to understand and even get excited about the concept of a foreign language. We were all impressed with her Korean pronounciation as shown in the following video:

Of course, this is not to take any attention from Ben and Lori. I told JooYeon that some of the most frustrating times in my life have been essentially losing friends to a marriage, but there are some of my friends' wives who have had the opposite effect and actually deepen our overall friendship. Lori has been one of those so it was good to hang out with her and the kids during the day. And it was probably one of the first times since early university that I've had quality time with Ben again so the experience was meaningful on all accounts. Here's Ben modeling his famous fashion statement, the "tuck and flap."

We spent one evening up on Shenandoah Mountain with the Trosts and Ryan (cousin) and Angie (childhood friend). The weather was great and allowed for indoor sports (pool) and outdoor sports (riding the four wheelers up to the tower with Ben). The road up and down was rocky and windy, as Angie (who is seven months pregnant) mentioned it felt like she had a living bowl of jell-o in her stomach, but the views at the top were worth it.
Ryan introduced JooYeon to the word "redneck" and gave us a classic example by taking us to a nearby cabin owned by a guy named Warren with a long beard, flannels, and a rattlesnake under the porch (he was keeping it alive so that his wife could shoot it when she got home- maybe some kind of anniversary present). As a side note, when I told my parents the story about this guy Warren, they both laughed and looked at each other saying, "Warren SHOWALTER; he's your relative Daniel!" Anyway, Warren puts food out to attract bears in his backyard so we got to see five that night.

On our final morning at Trosts, we did Grace's nails and had some final coversation time with Lori (she had found an old paper from the first time we met where she used me as a case study for her psychology class... she had analyzed my whole life at that time eight years ago so it was interesting to go back and read how things had changed.) We said our goodbyes and were on our way back to Ohio to get prepared for our trip to South America.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Final Wedding (cont'd)

Here is a short excerpt of our Korean vocab challenge with my Dad's side of the family. Note that the all-stars are Meredith and Jacob, two of the youngest players...

The Final Wedding (for now)

Round 3 of our wedding (or Round 4 if you count the actual legal wedding) came on Saturday, June 14, in Harrisonburg, Virginia (we had . It was attended by a healthy portion of my dad's family, and unfortunately I announced to all of them that JooYeon was extremely good at remembering names (she had never met them before, so imagine what pressure that put on her to recall everyone!) We introduced chopsticks to the children and witnessed a variety of uses as can be shown here with Samuel and his "drumsticks". (The other cousin pictured here is Micah who is preparing for his grueling game of follow the leader where all the older cousins flocked around him and mimicked his every action and sound)

JooYeon's mom had quickly had some hanbok tailored for us after the actual wedding in time for this third American wedding reception and so my family all had stuff to wear.
We modeled our clothes, performed the traditional Korean bow (jeol), sang our song, sat down as a panel to field any Q&A on Korea and our relationship (which was mainly the young children asking is if, when, and why and why not we were planning on having children), and finally a 3-part Korean challenge with kim-chi eating, chopstick races, and Korean vocabulary memorization (see video in next blog post).

For the final formality, Aunt Phyllis had prepared a lovely creme cake for us...

Which JooYeon seemed to intuitively know how to place into my mouth...

After that JooYeon and I taught cousin Claire a song on the piano while her sister Ellie did some interpretational dance...

Dad planned his escape carefully from the ceremony to check out his cousin Gerald's bat which had been signed by several Cleveland Indians...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grace-full pooping

Rounding out the Mennonite circuit of West Liberty and Lancaster, we drove down to Harrisonburg, Virginia to spend some time with old friends and my dad's family. The engine light popped on a half hour before the Burg,...Rocky, our car we inherited from Heather, has just flipped 160,000 miles and seems to be hanging on, but I had my friend Diron check it out anyway. I'm not sure if he saw anything, but his head scratch looked as good as a professional mechanic's.

The 3 Trost boys, childhood friends, had been busy in recent years producing a total of five children. Here's the oldest, Matt, with his son Zachary...

And the youngest, Diron, with his son Colin...

The middle Trost, Ben, his wife Lori, and their two children will appear more in a future post since we stayed with them for a couple days and formed a lot of good memories. With great care to avoid putting the kids in danger, and yet a fierce but fun competitiveness, we engaged in a no-holds-barred round of croquet. The Trosts and I were so busy going after each other that JooYeon, in her debut croquet match, was able to emerge victorious.

Adding to her glories of the evening, JooYeon formed a dear friend in Ben and Lori's daughter Grace. Grace was quite verbal for her three years of age (or four, depending on who you asked). JooYeon thought she knew what she was in for when Grace asked her to take her potty (see the archive entitled "Potty Time"), but she was naively unaware of Grace's wily ways. Grace claimed to need to go "Number 2", but after 20 minutes of sitting on the toilet talking to JooYeon, Lori went in and found out Grace had just made up a story about the bathroom to steal JooYeon's attention! In any case, Korean parents tend not to let other people play with their kids, so JooYeon loved the opportunity to spend some time with the girls.