Saturday, October 25, 2014

Moving Overseas

It’s been about 5 months since our departure from the States and things are slowly coming together, much like placing the pieces of a puzzle in its rightful place. We are definitely settling in to our new life here in Daegu.

Before heading out to our new adventure, I did quite a bit of research on how to have a “worry and stress free” move overseas. After planning and making multiple lists, I really believe there is no such thing! You can only prepare to be organized and hopefully things will be seamless as possible, but the anxiety of moving, let alone half way around the world will sink in and it will catch up with you.
Leaving the comforts of home and my family was the most difficult thing I have done to date. I think giving birth to Jensen was easier compared to relocating to Korea. I am finally able to really enjoy it here and able to see what Asia has to offer.

I read several blogs on the subject of what our new life will be like here and lots of suggestions on what I should dispose vs. keep in regards to material things. I wanted to add a few things that I didn’t read about on several blogs and on-line tips on moving overseas.
  1. Buy a brand new notebook – You will need to write anything and everything that relates to your move. It’s much nicer to have a new notebook that has nothing else written on it unless it involves your to-do list and contact info of what you need to accomplish before leaving. Electronically saving this is also another way to keep everything in a central location. You can utilize your smart phone for this purpose. I’m old school and like to write everything down.
    I opted to use a smaller notebook that can easily fit in my purse.
  2. Decide which items you want to keep – Anything with sentimental value, by all means take with you. Even if it seems ridiculous to keep due to its size or lack of usefulness, keep it. If you think you will regret it, just keep it. Hobby related items, you may want to keep depending on where you are moving. You may not have easy access to those particular items.
  3. Have a garage sale - I think it’s only natural to shed a few unwanted items before moving. There are several things to keep in mind on how to have a successful sale, but believe the number one and most important thing to do is to make sure you have exposure. You don’t even have to pay for an ad, however make sure you have clear and legible signs around your neighborhood. Utilize Craigslist and Facebook flea market/second hand groups you already have joined. If not, find them and join. Start using them for the larger and higher ticket items you want to sell. I was able to sell our washer and dryer set, also lots of Jensen’s baby items I no longer use.
    Great way to get rid of excess items and make money.
  4. Packing up – Now this will vary depending if you are moving with military support or not. I am fortunate enough to be a DoD civilian and had a moving company box everything up and ship it off to our destination. As soon as you have your PCS (Permanent Change of Station) order, make an appointment with your local transport department. For those who are moving on your own, decide if you are going to pack yourself or seek services from a packing company. Call and make an appointment once you know when you need to be out of your current lodgings. Make sure your items are insured while in transit. If you do move yourself, to save money go to big warehouse or grocery stores for used boxes. You will still need to contact an international shipping company in order to ship your belongings.
  5. Carry-on items – Pack any important documents with your carry-on. You will need to organize these in order to have them handy once you land. A good accordion file holder is good for these type of documents. This should include birth and marriage certificates, insurance paperwork, PCS orders, and anything else that you may need to in-process or present to your employer on your first day of work. Since I have a 20 month old toddler, I will also add a few items that might help with traveling with a child. A comfy blanket and favorite stuffed animal. My son loves music so we packed a nice pair of headphones for him. Anything that can keep him occupied like stickers, coloring books, and small light weight toys.
  6. Unaccompanied Baggage – This is available for those that will be PCS’ing with the military. This shipment will arrive about 3 weeks from the shipping date. Most of the things we packed was for my little boy Jensen, such as more diapers that we had stashed, toys, camping chairs that can be used while waiting for your furniture to arrive, kitchen items for cooking and eating, more clothes that you may need for work. This list may vary for others since it all depend on what you may need sooner than later. A friend shipped their golf clubs with their UB.
  7. Medications – If you and your family have prescription medications, make sure they are filled and ready to go before leaving. Do not wait ‘til the last minute to fill these just in case you will need to call your doctor to have a new prescription refilled. Don’t forget your pets medications as well.
  8. Utilities – Make sure utilities are turned off once you vacate your place. If you are fortunate enough to have sold your house or just moving from a rented apartment, you can have your utilities scheduled to be turned off the day you move out.
  9. Immunizations – Each foreign country has its own list of required and recommended immunizations. You can check with your local health department on what shots you may need before leaving.
  10. Pets – You may need to quarantine your pets depending on which country will be your new home. If quarantine is not needed, booster shots will be required and even microchip will be needed as well. Check with your airline in advance and let them know you will be traveling with a pet. Depending on the weight of your pet, you may be able to have them in cabin with you. If they are on the larger end of the breeds, make sure you have a big enough crate for them to move around and get comfortable. Keep in mind the heat embargo during the summer months and most airlines will not allow you to take your pets with you.
    Miss my Talon!

  11. Vacating – I highly advice hiring a cleaning service. We tried to clean our house before leaving and we were too tired taking care of everything else. At the last minute, we tried to book a cleaning service the day prior to vacating the premises and I could not find one on such short notice. Luckily, my Mom knew someone from church who was willing to clean for a small fee.
  12. Donate – Anything else that you weren't able to sell at the moving sale, consider donating items that can still be used. Not only are you recycling, but it is also a tax write off. I also gave away a lot of food items left in the pantry to family and friends or you can contact a local food back.
  13. Forward Mail - Don't forget to fill out a forwarding address form through your local post office. You can easily do this online and can be done in advance and indicated which day your are moving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jedi Costume

Halloween is right around the corner and I still wanted to make Jensen's costume. I originally wanted him to be Gizmo from the movie Gremlins, but I wasn't able to get the pattern for the costume in time and the stitching looks like it would take longer than I had to finish in time.

I scoured the internet for some simple instructions on how to make a cute but easy costume for a little boy. I found this step-by-step instructions here on how to make a Jedi outfit. It was so simple to follow. It was originally made for an adult, but it was easy enough to make it for Jensen.

Since I wasn't really sure where to go and buy fabric in Daegu, I opted to use some brown bed sheets I already had.

I took one of Jensen's hoodie sweater and used it as a template for the main part of the robe. This was easier to do instead of actually measuring his arm span. What 19 month old child do you know who would have stood still enough for me to take measurements?

Folded it length-wise and cut the arms and body according to the instructions. 

This is what it should look like once you have finished cutting the robe.

After sewing the sides together, I measured the hod and made sure to cut the collar to attach it to the main part of the robe.

Then I took a pillow case and used it for the V collar portion of the costume. 

Here is the finished product. Unfortunately, Jensen was not in the mood to model his new Jedi outfit. Hopefully, he will be more cooperative when we go trick or treating next week.

Hand Stitched Skull Scarf

Finally had some free time to do some crafting. This is the first project I've done since Jensen was born. Just in time for Halloween, but I plan on wearing it even after the Halloween season has past.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

So Korea! - Part 3

To continue my list of "So Korea!' experiences, here's a few more I have added to the list.

9. Outdoor exercise equipment - In addition to the traditional brick and mortar gyms, outdoor gyms are all over the place. I really appreciate a country that promotes exercise and well being with free gym equipment for the public. This one is in Suseong Lake where I take my daily walk/jog.

Here's a close up of the equipment that we have on our 6th floor apartment building. It is similar to the ones that are at the lake and I have seen this type of equipment all over the city in parks and recreational spaces.

10. Sidewalks as parking spaces - Pedestrians have no safe haven here. Even the sidewalks are utilized as parking spaces and cars treat them as another lane of traffic. I always have to remind myself that when I am out walking with Jensen that I need to be aware of my surroundings. You never know when a car decides to park and cut you off while walking on the sidewalk.

11. Squat Toilets - I've heard about these before arriving in Korea. I had to use my first one when we stopped a rest area on our way to Jinju for the Lantern Festival. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad. Just make sure you don't do legs as your weight training the day before you have to use a squat toilet.

12. No electric dryers - Most Koreans hang their clothes to dry and do not use dryers. The washer that was provided by our landlords does have a dual setting of wash and dry. I opted to borrow a separate dryer from base housing since the one the all-in-one washer/dryer combo did not dry as well. This may not be so out of the ordinary, but even laundry businesses hang their customers clothes out to dry.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lantern Festival at Jinju

A friend invited us to go to the Lantern Festival in Jinju which was about an hour and a half drive from Daegu. We decided to go for the day instead of spending the night.

Walking through a tunnel of lanterns.

We went early in the afternoon so of course the lanterns were not lit up yet. Even so, the festival still offered a lot of things to do. Not to mention it was still quite impressive to see the massive displays of lanterns on and off the water.

Notice that Superman has blond hair, but in fact his character had dark hair.

There was a section of superheroes. 

Our friend Lena who is an English teacher I met at my Korean language class.
This next photo was a field of the Chinese zodiac. Each wire form was covered with notes from well wishers that were hoping to have their hopes and dreams come true once they posted it on the statue.

Jensen found an area full of rocks. Of course, he was mostly interested in playing there and throwing the rocks around.

This fortress was accessible by crossing the river on a make shift bridge. Here is an excerpt from a tourism site about the history of this festival:

"Jinju Namgang Yudeung Festival originates from the lantern lighting custom used during the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle of the Imjinwaeran War (Japanese invasion, 1592) as a military strategy to prevent Japanese troops from wading the Namgang River. The highlights of the festival are the floating of lanterns carrying personal wishes of the citizens along the Namgang River, and the parade of lanterns created by the students themselves. In addition, the festival features gaejesik (lighting of lanterns in remembrance of the Jinjuseong Fortress Battle veterans), an exhibition of the world’s traditional lanterns."

Here is the bridge we used to cross the river.

Here are the ambulances that were parked near one of the tunnel of lanterns. Notice the number used for emergency calls is just our 911 backwards. At least it's easy to remember. 

Since my Chinese zodiac sign is the Tiger, had to get a photo near this lantern. Wish I had seen it after dark. 

One of the many things I wanted to get before leaving Korea, was a stamp of my name in Korean. I noticed that when my landlady signed our lease agreement, she used a stamp in addition to her signature. This gentleman had a booth that custom made each stamp. He even carved my English name on the side of the stamp. 

He requested a photos of us with him and showing off his work.
There was a booth where you can make your own lanterns and write your wishes on it before launching it out on the river. I wished for long life, health and prosperity for my family.

Here we are with our lanterns and wishes.

Finally, after grabbing some dinner the sun started to set and the lanterns were slowly turning the fortress into a beautiful wonderland of lights.

Entrance to the fortress.

Line of soldier lanterns leading up to a summit.

They also held a competition for artists to show their skills at making their own lanterns. These two were my favorites.