Thursday, 28 July 2016

28th July 2016 - from Seoul

28th July 2016

So finally pen to paper in a manner of speaking!! I have been here in Seoul with Luke and family for more than two weeks now – it’s been quite a roller coaster ride with not much time to sit down let alone write a blog!! Where to start…… I guess with I am happy and once again feeling productive and grateful for this unexpected time with my precious little ones. But more of that later.

So I got the call from Mel on Thursday 7th July asking if I would like another summer in Seoul – a couple of days after I had commented on face book that I was facing the first winter in Cape Town for four years as I had been this lucky shoe string swallow for the last while – 2013 in USA, 2014 on Nepal and India and 2015 in Korea – who would have thought – so be careful of what you wish for or the intentions you put out, however reflective, there is no doubt power in them!!!

Memory, Luke and Mel’s Zimbabwean nanny, wanted to return home at very short notice as she needed to track down her 19 year old son who took himself off to SA against her wishes and then was out of contact for a good two weeks. Anyway the long and short of it is that Memory left Korea on Wednesday 13th July having told Luke and Mel on the Sunday preceding this, that she would like to leave Korea for good and find work again in South Africa. I left SA on the Monday, and flew via Jhb and Hong Kong to arrive in Seoul on the Tuesday evening. 

Being summer, Morgan was on holiday already and Seren started her shorter summer break on Monday 25th this week. Seren returns to school on the 8th August and Morgan on the 16th August.  Once they are at school life is much less demanding (for the adults that is!!) as they have long days – start at between 8.30 and 9.00 and end at 3.00 for Seren and 4.00 for Morgan!! They both catch buses to school which pick them up – Morgan outside the gate about 200ms at the top of a steep hill and Seren in the apartment grounds. 

So that’s the context of my being here again. Luke and Mel did consider summer school for Morgan but then thought – well maybe mum would prefer to be the one to spend out of school time with Morgan and while I was still thinking about it, John said – it’s a no brainer – they need you, you love to be with the children – what’s there to think about…. So thank you John. 

I guess my reservation was my energy levels but here we are two weeks later and pretty much still intact!!! I did come down with a thick throat in the first few days – but put it down to the air conditioning which I am not used to and also not that keen on. However the frog in the throat persisted so I finally took myself off to the international doctor on Tuesday who has put me on antibiotics for a strep throat and a bladder infection. I had been taking all my usual Chinese medicine thingies but decided to go ahead with the antibiotics plus a course of anti-imflammitories as my joints and in particular my knees were bothering me…… ah the toll of years added to the incredibly steep hills around their apartment which are bad enough to walk up or down but pushing a pram at the same time is a killer, especially  in the beginning – my legs are now getting used to it and I have found better, as in less steep, all be it longer, routes home from the swing park where we take the children. 

However having said all that – here’s the thing! I have just looked up in the list of ailments drawn up by Louise Hayes that we include in the Healing section of the curriculum for the Montessori teacher training and surprise surprise - she reckons these symptoms are to do with feelings of anxiety even feeling pissed off, fear of change and moving forward and not expressing oneself!!!! So once again – listen to our bodies all of us and use the wonderful affirmations she suggests to help oneself move forward and be in charge!!!

So what have I been up to with these two wonderful adorable children? Of course I am still utterly besotted with them and for good reason – this is, of course, a totally unbiased opinion!!! 
For the first week and a half it was just me and Morgan together each day until Seren needed to be met off her bus at about 2.50 - 3 pm.  So we took ourselves off on various adventures – we visited the aquarium, the Children’s museum and the animal museum at the Korean war memorial. We even scambled all over old airplanes and boats from the war. We also had a great time swimming at the pools which are very strictly controlled, and went to Lilliput’s CafĂ© – a wonderful place where adults sit and enjoy refreshments while the children are let loose in a wonderland of child size vegetable shopping area with life like fruits and vegetables, which they select and place in small shopping trolleys which they then take to the till to scan and ‘pay’ for them!  It also has wonderful stuffed animals and dolls, with prams and cots and kitchens, climbing nets, bouncing and jumping areas and duplo and train sets and even a place where Morgan had her nails done!! 

So to get to all these places, we would either walk down the hill and board a bus or catch a taxi or once went with a friend from upstairs with her baby.  Most times I would take Morgan’s pram as she can get quite tired by the end of the morning, especially in this heat. I am constantly amazed at how well thought out everything is and how child aware and child friendly everything is.

This week has been different for a couple of reasons – Seren has been on holiday so it has been the three of us. However Mel did organise for a nanny to be here for the two weeks of Seren’s holidays as there was no way I could manage both of them for the whole day. Most days while Seren was still at school, Luke or Mel managed to get home by about 5.00 or latest 5.30 or else worked from home, so I didn’t have both of them for more than two hours or so!! Some of the time Morgan was asleep when Seren arrived home which also made it easier except I felt uneasy leaving her to sleep while I met Seren.

So the idea was that we would trial a few nannies during these two weeks. This would not only enable me to have help but would also enable me to get a good sense of what the nanny was like. The idea was that the nanny should focus completely on the children and not do any house work while the children were awake. Monday and Tuesday this week were disastrous!!! Leah, a lady from the Phillipines came and was really not suitable at all. All quite stressful and I couldn’t wait for Luke or Mel to get home!! She actually left Morgan in the bath so that was the end of her!! Especially as Mel had come across another nanny, Burlita, also from the Philipines whom we trialed on Wednesday. What a difference!!  Anyway Mel cancelled Leah and asked Burlita to come today, Thursday. What a pleasure –an absolute natural child minder – she is 41 years old, has a 13 year old daughter and 10 year old son and has worked in Hong Kong and Korea for an Irish and then a New Zealand family. I love that she knows all the characters in the children’s programmes, Thomas the train, Ben the builder, Fireman Sam, Harold the helicopter, Princess Elsa and Captain Hook and the pirates, and the rest!!! She also sings the same songs and painted and managed Morgan and Seren on the mat in the playroom at the same time as they did different activities!! She also spoke to the cab driver in Korean!!! So definitely a keeper!!!! Mel had found and interviewed a Kenyan nanny whom we all liked who was going to trial next week. 

So we’ll see – but certainly things are looking far rosier than they were on Monday night when it seemed we had only one choice, namely Emma the Kenyan. It’s quite a business getting their work visas sorted out – they need to be out of the country when you apply for them – and in fact there were many nannies looking for work but who were already out of the country which would mean taking them on sight unseen!! At least now the nanny can go home or out of Korea and Mel can then apply for her visa and then pay for her to come back into Korea. This would coincide with Luke and Mel’s return at the beginning of October, after their three week holiday in South Africa.

So this has all been very factual and rather dry with few anecdotes and feelings and what we have  been experiencing.  Call it setting the scene!!! I will reveal all in my next blog – the other thing that has been happening since I arrived is a major overhaul of their apartment! 

It started with the thought that Seren was about ready to move out of her cot and into a big girl bed. This then developed into a bunk bed rather than two single beds.  So no sooner said than done – we all went off on the first weekend I was here to look at bunk beds – we saw a few wonderful ones at wonderful prices in a very upmarket street – the equivalent of Rhodeo drive in LA – in fact it’s referred to as Rodeo Drive - Things are unbelievably expensive here!! Anyway Mel went online and found some at a much more reasonable price, still expensive by SA standards though which she ordered on the Sunday night, together with two wooden tables, four wooden chairs and a black board and painting easel. The beds arrived on the Wednesday and the guy who delivered them assembled them – they are stunning and the children are ecstatic – Seren has taken to sleeping in her bottom bunk without a moment’s murmour! Of course the first thing she did was climb the steps which, of course at this stage, is not a good idea – she’s just 18 months old. Mel cleverly jammed the space between the bottom and next step with Tupperware containers so she cannot get a toehold in - frustrating for her of course, especially as she watches her older sister having such fun going up and down and of course jumping form the top!! But today, clever little minx that she is, she managed to push the containers forward a bit and the next thing was up the stairs!!!!  We are going to have to wedge them in really firmly. Fortunately Seren can still stand up on her bed without banging her head on Morgan’s bed – but not for too much longer!! The good thing is that she can get on and off the bed by herself and has not yet worked out that she can do this when she wakes up!! Morgan loves the top bunk and plays happily up there on her own. It was so sweet the first time Mel lay next to Seren in her bed when Seren went to sleep – she had never had this before of course being in a cot, and she kept on touching Mel’s face and stroking her arm and saying mummeee.

So the next big change was that Luke and Mel moved out of the master bedroom into the children’s bedroom, so we put the bunk bed in the bay window which left the rest of their bedroom free for their play area. This then freed up the dining room to be just that rather than primarily a play area housing all the shelves holding all the children’s toys.  The children’s table, that was previously a play and eating table, is now in the dining table for their meals although Seren still has most of her meals in her high chair. So now there are the two new tables and chairs, which Mel assembled, the easel, and the six sets of shelves in the children’s room. In addition Luke removed the cupboard doors off the cupboard in the bay area so that it can also be used for their toys. I had a lot of fun organising the shelves into language and books, art, play dough and crafts, maths and sensorial type building and construction activities, puzzles and games, musical toys, trains and cars.  

The reorganising didn’t stop there – Memory’s room is now Luke’s cycling room and a study where they can work if needs be out of sight of the children. Morgan was given a big girl bike earlier this month for her fourth birthday – it has fairy wheels for which Luke has made a stand so that she can also cycle indoors alongside him!!  

So that means I am in the ex-cycling room – which will also be the nanny’s room when she starts full time.  It is a much smaller room but really cosy – big enough to have a double bed in it. It has three double built in cupboards, a TV mounted on the wall and a few bedside pedestals. It does not have air conditioning which suits me. So there is a large fan which keeps it cool and the mossies at bay as well!!! So much reshuffling which took quite a lot of effort and heavy lifting on Luke’s part! But true to form – these two do not let the grass grow benaeth their feet. The children have taken to the new arrangements really well.

Well I have rambled along and don’t blame you if you stopped reading a while ago – no problem – it will be here tomorrow and there after!!! I will hopefully now have more time to keep a daily blog. There just wasn’t time before this – and when there might have been time, I was generally feeling too knackered. Sadly I did write something about ten days ago which I foolishly deleted instead of posting and I never got the energy up to rewrite it!!!  Anyway on Luke’s advice I have written this in Word which I will then copy and paste!! I will also try to include some pics to relieve the writing!!!!

In a word it is good to be here. In fact it is more than good it is amazingly wonderful – especially to have the incredible privilege of daily interaction with Morgan and Seren. I will tell you all about them later. xxxx  

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