During SangOk and Jusu's final week with us, TaeGeom had the pleasure of being introduced to an older woman (granted Roxie is only one month older than him, but proportionally, he's only 87% of her age). Luckily, what TaeGeom lacked in age, he made up for in mass so that they could relate as equals.
It was fun for everyone to see some cultural differences in childrearing. Of course, some of these differences were probably limited to the particular families, but one that is certainly pronounced is the concept of leaving a child alone. The only time TaeGeom is ever alone is during nap times and even then, Jusu has a video monitor she uses to keep constant watch. At night, she sleeps beside him. While TaeGeom may eventually get his own bed, he will likely sleep together in the same room with his parents for the next several years. Some Koreans I've talked with feel that American children become calloused, independent, and more detached from family (as they enter teenage years and adulthood) because they often begin sleeping in a separate room as a toddler or even before.
Most of the second half of Jusu and SangOk's stay was a tad gloomy, meteorologically and emotionally. Each one of the four of us had, to some degree, some worries about the future we were processing. Job and living uncertainty, faith questions, relational issues, etc. While this meant that the mood wasn't always the most optimistic, it did inspire lots of impromptu discussions. And on the occasions when the sun (the literal and the figurative one) did come out, we took full advantage of it.
We particularly enjoyed the blossoming flowers and trees all around us. When it wasn't raining, Athens was a biological kaleidoscope. One of the SangOk and Jusu's living options for the future would be to come out to Athens for awhile and so we made sure to give them the full tour. We tried to highlight some of the romantic nature Athens has to offer.
Even though they were here for only three weeks, SangOk and Jusu both had their birthdays during that time frame so we did a lot of celebrating. For Jusu's birthday, we went to an eclectic little restaurant called Purple Chopsticks. Perhaps the m0st interesting part of the restaurant (which I unfortunately did a horrible job of capturing on camera) is the decor, most of which was done by an organization that draws out the artistic talents of handicapped people in the area.
For SangOk's birthday, Joo took them into Hocking College while I was at work to bake a triple-layered chocolate cake.
I'm not sure what all they included in the cake, but everyone seemed to have a follicular growth spurt soon afterwards. TaeGeom was depressed because he thought he might have been able to make a better impression on Roxie now that his bald spot had vanished.
I received my final monthly Cheezit shipment from Mom in the mail, this one with a gardening theme. Although I think I've put pictures of several of the ones she made on the blog, I was lamenting the fact that I didn't have pictures of all of them to make a collage. Mom pointed out that for the first three months, I was completely fooled into thinking that this was a special marketing strategy that Cheezit had introduced. To my credit, the first ones weren't quite as elaborate as the one below.
When it came time for SangOk, Jusu, and TaeGeom to say goodbye (or simply gurgle goodbye in TaeGeom's case), we drove to Columbus. It was a 4:30 am drive and none of us are morning people so the hugs were a bit sleepy, but at least they were heartfelt. The house certainly felt quiet when we returned, although we won't spend too much time missing them since we are planning to meet up again in Korea here in a few short weeks.
One completely separate point to mention is that Joo had the honor of receiving a JOMc Endowment Scholarship. Out of the 6,000 students at Hocking College, 20 are chosen each year from across all majors. The recipients are selected based on professor recommendations, two essays, and scholastic/extra-curricular leadership. Making the honor even more special was the fact that scholarships are quite rare in Korea and so this was Joo's first actual scholarship. Congratulations lovey :)