Monday, August 20, 2012

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming...

I normally try to keep my blog lighthearted and fun which is what I strive to be in life. But there are times when I get overwhelmed by life, like anyone else, and need a positive lift to get me out of my funk and back to being my easy going, fun self. 

**Disclaimer: if you only want to see pictures of the kids scroll now! Otherwise be warned, you are about to be assaulted with a whirlwind of emotions and a great deal of expletives. Also, please no emails or comments asking what happened. If I felt like sharing you would have received a call so I could share. I know I internalize a lot but trust me, if I wanted to share you'd already know what is happening thus rendering this entry pointless.**

Some things have happened in the last month or so that have greatly affected our family, more so Daric and I than the kids. Because of some "issues" we were having Daric and I have been seeing a marriage counselor. We both realized something was missing, something that slowly disappeared over the years and we both wanted to get "it" back. We've always been great at communicating with each other but even that was slowly fading away. We both started withdrawing and holding things back for fear of hurting the others feelings. I can't speak for him but I know I was starting to not be in a good place. I kept the smile on my face even though I was dying a little every day on the inside. I was starting to wonder if I had become complacent, if I was just sticking around because it was easier than leaving and then a bomb got dropped on me. This bomb is what lead to us seeking counseling. Now I don't want anyone to grab their pitchforks and light their torches, Daric has never and WOULD never: cheat on me, hit me, hit the kids, walk out on this family, develop a drug addiction or take a sudden interest in alcoholism! He screwed up, for a normal person it wouldn't have been a big deal but for someone like me with a smorgasbord of issues it was a big deal. He knew he messed up, he recognized we needed help and he suggested counseling. We've been going once a week for the past month and I can honestly say it's helping. I can say things that I've been holding back, he can as well. The counselor has made us talk to each other and truly listen by relaying what we heard back to each other. We've, according to the counselor, got a solid foundation to build a relationship on and are FAR better off than most couples he counsels. I took that as a positive sign that our marriage is fixable and can get back on the right track. And then the other shoe dropped!

Daric screwed up again, this time worse than the first time! (Put the pitchfork down, cancel the lynch mob) I repeat, Daric has never and WOULD never: cheat on me, hit me, hit the kids, walk out on this family, develop a drug addiction or take a sudden interest in alcoholism! This time though it hurt, a lot and it's not due to me being an emotional cripple. Most anyone would be hurt by what he disclosed and the sad part is he honestly didn't see what was wrong with what he was doing at the time. Hindsight...20/20! Even the counselor was taken aback when we revealed this at our last session. The counselor and I both pointed out what was wrong with his actions and of course after it's pointed out, he could see the light! Needless to say we took 2 steps forward only to take 2 steps back BUT we are baby stepping in the right direction now and as long as the other, OTHER shoe doesn't drop, I think we've got a good shot at getting back to "normal".

I'll be honest, when the 1st incident happened I was upset and hurt. I was trying to see past my anger and pain and let it go but I don't think I had fully let go of it when the 2nd incident occurred. I was mad, no mad is an understatement! There isn't a word in the dictionary to cover how ____ I was. I was completely blinded by rage and couldn't think straight. For 2 nights I drowned my sorrows at the bottom of a bottle. Not the way to deal with things, I know, but it made me numb which is what I needed to be so I didn't act on my anger. I haven't lost control of my emotions like that since I was a hormonal teenager! I don't like feeling that way. I'm too old to be feeling that way. My kids don't need to see me feeling that way, not the example I want to set for them. That was a very long, terrifying weekend!

So now happy ending? No, sadly no there is no happy ending...yet. As a result of the 1st incident Daric's commander is doing everything in his power to shove him out of the Army. He has lost all consideration for the family. He's grasping at straws, finding any reason he can to get Daric out NOW!! And instead of seeing the 1st incident as a cry for help from Daric, instead of seeing how stressed he is and how constantly being shit on is taking it's toll the commander decides to embarrass and shame Daric in front of his entire unit. So much for the kinder, gentler Army! He relayed the incident to all the soldiers in formation one day so now Daric has been ostracized and alienated. There are soldiers who have asked for Daric to be moved to a different work area because they don't feel "comfortable" around him. Right, because in the past year he's exhibited behavior that would deem him "uncomfortable" to work around. Funny how he was the golden boy and now is a leper. Nice to know how quick people turn. It wasn't bad enough that Daric was turned into a joke by the commander but by extension now his family is a joke. We are in SOUTH KOREA!!! Friends aren't easy to come by. It's not like I can say hell with it, I'll just make new friends. The friends I have are all I've got out here. We can't escape to a relatives house to get away and come back ready to face the nonsense once more, we can't just up and move to a new neighborhood, he can't asked to be transferred to a different unit, he can't even try to change duty stations. We are stuck. Plain and simple. We are stuck and have to live with the fallout of the commander's actions. If Daric was a single soldier I get it, make an example out of him, even if it was just the 2 of us, I'm resilient, I'll bounce back BUT our kids have become collateral damage. They pay the ultimate price for all of this. You would think as a man with a family he wouldn't have been as cruel or at least would have thought "how is this going to affect the family" before he announced to everyone what Daric did wrong. But he's hell bent on getting Daric kicked out of the Army so thoughts like that wouldn't occur. Daric had to see a doctor today. Why? Because the commander told him if there is no medical reason why he's "fat", he's getting separated from the Army. I'm sure there are some things wrong with Daric physiologically but a majority of his problems are psychological. He has ADD, PTSD, anxiety with aggressive rage or some shit. He was diagnosed with all this before we came here, he's had ADD his whole life, PTSD from deployments & actually being engaged in warfare, anxiety I'm sure is a byproduct of PTSD but also the military. The military does a damn fine job of breaking a person and then once they're broken telling them they're weak. He's a human being, not a robot. Can you tell I'm a little upset by all this?

So here's your "happy" ending....

We are currently trying to formulate a plan since 'Plan A' was making the Army a career. He has 9 years of service, 9 years of service WITH NO negative ANYTHING on his record in the entire 9 years!! and this is the thanks he gets for being a good soldier. Oh wait, I forgot, he's a shitbag because some asshole who doesn't know how to properly perform a tape test on a soldier got the wrong measurements and according to Army standards he's fat. In 1 week he gained 6% body fat...that's impressive! *Can you taste the venom in my words?* I'm just a little bitter and upset this is how it's going to end. No he can't ask for another tape test or to have someone else perform it, the commander wants him gone, the 1SG wants him gone (the guy is a self absorbed asshole that doesn't give a shit about his soldiers anyway) so now we get to play the waiting game. Let's wait until they decide to tell us how they're going to screw our lives over. That's really fair to the kids. The best part of all of this is that he won't be getting an honorable discharge. He's "fat" so he's failed to meet Army standards which means he will get no better than a general, other than honorable discharge but I have the feeling they are going to try for a dishonorable discharge. Anything other than an honorable discharge means we lose out on everything! He gets no VA benefits, he gets no retirement, he gets shit for his 9 years of dedicated service! Thanks a lot Army! Because it's been a cake walk dealing with your shit!

Sorry for the language but I'm upset. These are my kids lives that are being messed with. If it was just us no big deal, we're adults we can roll with it BUT my kids are going to be uprooted, ripped away from the only life they know and love then tossed into a chaotic mess until we manage to right ourselves. I'm a veritable cat, I'll always land on my feet. I just hope my kids inherited that trait. There is a storm heading this family's way...a giant, nasty storm. I'm doing my best to brace all of us against it.

Oh right....happy ending *wink wink* Well here it is! Good night, good morning or good afternoon where ever you are in the world from our little dysfunctional family to yours!
only my kid would rock the "Borat" look with my underwear...
and then proceed to shake his butt!

At the playground

Riley, Ezz, daddy & our good friend Gabe

pretty little princess

look through the curtains...monsoon season!

major cheeser!!

I hope she's prepared for a life of pink

love her <3

someone wanted to have pictures taken too

rolling on her belly like a rockstar

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What's Deja Vu? Wait For It....

I'm fairly certain this is one of my little sister's least favorite memories of me but on the flipside I'm fairly certain this is one of the rest of the family's favorite memories of me. So on with the back story that will lead to the point & purpose of this blog...

I was single & living in Indiana after I had Akira. He was only a few months old and I was in desperate need of an overnight babysitter so I could work at the factory in town, the only great paying job that city had to offer! My wonderful little sister decided to sacrifice her summer vacation to help me. She was, I believe, about to be a sophomore in high school so that's a mighty big sacrifice I'm forever grateful for. While she was out there with me my uncle and brother-in-law decided to come visit. I honestly don't remember what the conversation was we were engaged in or what we were doing at the time I just remember this...Stephanie innocently asks, "what's deja vu?" I proceed to smack her upside the head but before she has a chance to respond I tell her, "wait for it..." then smack her upside the head again in the same exact spot and say, "that's deja vu". So you can see why I'm fairly certain that's in her top 10 LEAST favorite memories! I have my moments...

The reason I started with this story and titled this particular entry the way I did is because a dear friend of mine is going through a mid-life crisis (sorry Tiffany but I think you are!). She asked me in all sincerity if I believed in reincarnation, deja vu, past lives & if past lives can affect your current one amongst other things. **I'm about to digress big time....wait for it....** I have NO problems with religion and I feel everyone is entitled to their opinions which leads them to choose which religion suits their own personal beliefs. I have determined that no one religion suits me. I like different aspects from all of them and dislike certain aspects from all of them. I am not religious in the sense of prayers and church going although when I was about 11-12 years old I participated in vacation bible school and went faithfully to church every Wednesday and Sunday alone. That lasted the entire summer. I realized I was only going because there was a cute boy there, not because my heart was in it and this is what I believed. I have studied a little about almost every religion which is why I am not solely Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, etc.! I appreciate religion for what it is. **Digression over** So I answered my friend honestly by saying yes to all of the above! I have had way too many weird and totally unexplainable things happen to me during my life to NOT believe in such things. One such example (which only Daric, myself & now my friend know) is something physically happened to Daric and I physically FELT it literally 5-10 minutes after it happened to him. This happened at a time when we had never met in person, we had only been talking online and it had only been a month at most that we had been talking to each other. I was woken up in the middle of the night by this feeling, thought I was losing my freaking mind and went back to bed only to wake up to see him waiting online for me then proceed to tell me what had happened to him. While he was describing how it felt I was absolutely flabbergasted! I asked him what time it happened and he gave an approximate which when I did the math meant it happened to me, no joke, 5-10 minutes after. I then told him I felt exactly what he did, right after he felt it. For me, that's how I knew we were meant to be together. How could 2 people be that connected to each other when they had never met previously or had any other contact with each other? It's like that unexplainable connection "they" say twins have. I believe in soul mates, I believe in living more than 1 lifetime and I believe that you can find your soul mate over and over again in each lifetime.

I told my friend that story but with the details since I could hear in her voice she was truly struggling with accepting the possible fact things like that could exist. (She subscribed to Christian beliefs...or at least used to) Call me crazy, say I'm stupid, say what you will but that's some of what I believe in and while I would never try to force my beliefs down anyone's throat, I know there are plenty of people in the world who will try to force theirs on me. My friend is going through a low point and is slowly changing her perspective on many things. She confided in me and when she did all I could think, feel or say was 'everything happens for a reason'. I truly believe that. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. I believe I said "I'm like a tiny twig on the mighty river of life, I go where the flow takes me". I've said this many, many times before...mostly facetiously but I do adopt that stance since it perfectly goes along with my aforementioned beliefs. Life is hard enough as it is, why try to fight it! Be the twig, go where life takes you and embrace the journey because it will be over before you know it. Live fiercely, love passionately and regret NOTHING!!

So....where does the deja vu story come into this? Well, I've had this conversation before...many, many times! Maybe not with my friend and most definitely not outside my head (or at least I don't ever remember having this conversation out loud) BUT I found myself knowing exactly how the conversation was going to go before it got there. Retelling certain things to Daric, about this or many other things, I've known exactly how he was going to respond before he actually did. I've had so many deja vu experiences throughout my life. I've been places, done things or said things before and when I say that I'm always told, "uh no, you've never been here, we've never talked about this, you've never done that before". I have a familiarity with a great many things when I have no reason to. Weird.

I know, you're all probably thinking "where the hell are the pictures of the baby and the boys?! I stuck through this whole thing only to reach the end and nothing! Thanks a lot Michelle!" So on that note I will leave you with this and I apologize in advance. I have to end this blog with this line since it popped into my head and I'm dying laughing over here. It'd be a shame not to share it. Enjoy your pictures of the children. We love and miss you all! And now for my closing line....

Hey, I just met you....and this is crazy....but in a past life....we were lovers maybe?

Good morning, afternoon or evening where ever you are in the world from our crazy household to yours!

Friday, May 25, 2012

And Then There Were....SIX!!!!

It has been forever and a day since my last blog update & a friend's recent update of their blog reminded me of my own. So lets play catch up...

I last left you with an incredible image of a Korean hot springs...definitely NOT like the American version! Well, while our time here has been exciting I don't think anything we've done has come close to that little adventure. In the time since January (wow! January, really?!) I started getting out more on base & going to their CAC, Community Activity Center. My neighbor invited me out one day to have lunch with some ladies she met on Facebook then go check out the arts & crafts room at the CAC. All who know me know I am neither arsty or crafty so I was a bit reluctant to go at first but then decided what the heck, at least I'll get to meet some people! I am SO incredibly glad I did go. With the exception of one person (she wasn't a good quality person anyways) I have developed friendships with all the ladies in a short time but it feels like we've been friends for years. These ladies have made me laugh, have shared jokes & playful badgering, have gone on adventures with us but most importantly have proven they're the type of friends that will last a lifetime. They are reason #4,562 why I LOVE Korea!!
St. Patrick's Day

Cinco de Mayo
 But I the CAC has become one of my most favorite places to go. I tried my hand at ceramics, not Ghost style with the pottery wheel but pouring the plaster/slip/whatever that stuff is! into the mold then cleaning, firing, painting, firing, glazing, firing & taking home. It's a process. I've tried my hand at Hanji paper, traditional Korean rice paper not making but using to create some pretty cool things. Pretty much anything they have going on at the CAC I've been there with the kids participating. Mr. Han & Mr. Kim are the Korean men who run the arts & crafts room and let me tell you, they are awesome!! They have become family. Mr. Kim is like the crazy uncle who tells us stories from his "army time" & shows the kids almost inappropriate games to play like "peanuts & beer". Although it sounds like he's saying 'penis' not 'peanuts', makes me chuckle on the inside every time. Mr. Han will tell you himself he IS step-grandpa. Haraboji is the Korean word for grandpa & that's what the kids call him. Mr. Han always has something for the kids every time we are there. Sometimes it's Korean goodies like cookies or candy, sometimes it's a toy, sometimes his wife (who is a chef) makes us Korean food & sometimes he gives me money & tells me to go buy them something from him. They are reason #5,693 why I LOVE Korea!
Mr. Kim & I doing a hanji craft

Mr. Han aka haraboji
In case you hadn't heard by now baby girl Bishop was born! Katerina Hanul Bishop was born April 14 at 2:32 am weighing 6 lbs 15 oz and was 21 1/2 inches long. (Hanul is the Korean word for sky & was Mr. Han's input since Daric wanted to give her a Korean name because we're in Korea) I'm glad she was the last kid & not the first, there might not have been more kids after the miserable delivery. I wanted to get checked to see if I had any progress labor wise, dilation, thinning, etc. While I was hooked up to the monitors they noticed I had high blood pressure. It wasn't going away & they didn't like what was going on with the baby's heartbeat so they decided to admit me & induce. I wasn't dilated AT ALL so I had to take a pill to make my cervix open. That didn't work like it was supposed to so they had to do a more invasive step to get my cervix to open & kick start labor. That did the trick & when I received my epidural the little princess  decided she wanted to completely turn around so then she was breech, feet first!! Apparently then her heartbeat really freaked them out because the doctor said emergency c-section & the panic in her voice really rattled me. I thought the doctor was supposed to remain calm to keep Daric & I calm. I was barely conscious for the procedure but Daric told me that Katerina was completely blue when they pulled her out, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck & the "baby team" was on her immediately trying to get her to breathe. I had agreed that while they were in there they may as well tie my tubes since we are 100% done having kids so Daric & baby girl left the room while that was being done. She's the last baby & she's the only girl so of course her entrance into the world had to be dramatic. It was quite the experience & not one I want to have again! So thankfully she was the last & not the first child.
Katerina Hanul

the proud brothers

We've had fun enjoying all the American holidays, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo (ironic those are American holidays) on base. Koreans, mostly, are Buddhist so to celebrate Buddha's birthday they have a lantern festival. They don't know the exact date of Buddha's birthday & this year the celebration falls during the end of May. Part of the celebration is a Lotus Lantern Festival with a parade that ends at a temple. I have never seen so many lanterns in my life! Oh my gosh they were everywhere & the best part was the temples were giving out lanterns. Of course Ezzio worked his charm on all the passing Koreans & was handed more lanterns. That kid... The festival was really cool & I'm looking forward to next year's festival when Katerina will be older so we can stay for the festival "after party". I'm curious to see how the Koreans 'get down'.
baby girl getting blessed

a small portion of the lanterns

the Lotus Lantern Festival

the Buddhist monks

We have reached the final countdown to the end of school. Only 3 more weeks & school is out! The weather has been amazingly perfect lately & I'm looking forward to getting out & exploring with the kids. So until our next adventure, goodnight, good afternoon or good morning where ever you are in the world from the now complete Bishop family! cut

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Herb Island...Neither an Herb nor an Island, Discuss!!

The snow we received the day before Christmas Eve making our Christmas white
Well winter recess is over, school & work are back in full swing & I must be getting lazy because I really HATE waking up in the morning!! If school could start at like say 10 I'd be fine but alas no such luck. Our "vacation" time was pretty uneventful, we stayed home a lot (I think it was partly due to Daric working & by the time he got home the day was half over) but we still managed to have fun. We took a few excursions to the base in Seoul and then we decided to listen to the National Geographic channel's mantra of "Let's Get Lost" & drive down roads we've never driven down before to see just where they take us. We've found a pretty swanky looking country club (Koreans are BIG into golf...I don't get it!), historic sites (of what not sure), a "theme park" (much different than the American idea of a theme park), temples, Herb Island & a hot spring resort. Yes all that within a short drive from the house! It's all practically in our back yard. We did actually take in Herb Island & stopped to check out the hot spring (more on that to come) but the rest we saw the signs from the road pointing the way or we could see a few from the road. We might explore those when the weather is nicer.

Before I get into Herb Island let me get Christmas out of the way. Every year Daric & I say we aren't going to go overboard & yet it happens unknowingly! We both thought this year we'd actually stick to our plans since we were forced to online shop & we didn't order a lot when we did shop but once again our tree was bulging with presents! As we set the presents out we both marveled at how it happened, yet again, without us knowing. We were fine with it since the kids were worried Santa wouldn't come to Korea so seeing all the gifts under the tree immediately squashed any worries they had. Santa was VERY good to them all, he was pretty good to mom & dad too! I was worried the mail wouldn't make it in time but I'd say about 80% got here by the 23rd, we're still waiting on the other 20% which happens to include the lights for our tree! At least they'll be here for next year....I hope!! We're still waiting on presents for Ezzi to get here but those will now be his birthday presents, we don't need to shop for him! I have a few things coming which will turn into birthday gifts so Riley's the only one we need to shop for since his birthday is right around the corner too. And now for the pictures....
there are a whole mess of presents under what you see

shredded wrapping paper was everywhere, Gogi loved it!

Santa even brought Gogi a present

all 3 rocking their new robes

Akira cracks me up!!

hindsight...probably not a good idea to get daddy a blow gun

like every year mom gets kitchen stuff
Now for the main event...Herb Island!! So this place is pretty cool. It's a "theme park" with 2 permanent greenhouse buildings, 1 sells the different plants, flowers & herbs the other is HUGE & for your enjoyment. There are little shops & cafes all over the grounds. Each shop sold gimmicky things but also had some really great items made from the different herbs they grow there. They had handmade soaps, lotions, candles, bath & body products, teas, candies & breads. In warmer weather they have an entire outdoor DIY section of buildings where you can make candles, wreaths & some other things. It was really cool, even the kids liked it! There was a restaurant & aromatherapy spa which I will definitely be checking out after this baby girl is here. All in all it was a great day of walking around in the freezing cold then sweating our behinds off inside the greenhouses. Here are a few pictures of our day.
do they look cold or is it just me??

the "for sale" greenhouse

nothing but potted plants under the grates, pretty fun actually

they obviously don't cater to normal sized people :)

totally random in the middle of the other greenhouse

the Christmas village they set up which would've been great to see

daddy's turn to pull the "rickshaw"

Akira wanted to have a go at it too

Riley gave up about where the blue tree is

daddy's turn!! yaw!!

forgot what happens to the lens when you go from freezing temps to tropical

1 of the DIY buildings COVERED in fake flowers

the candle DIY building

there was a "mini zoo" of sorts complete with peacocks & a turkey

so pretty, there were a few waterfalls on the grounds like this

we got the green jar but I wanted the orange one just cause it says 'Pennel' not fennel
To end our Herb Island day we drove to the Sinbuk Hot Springs which turned out to be a building with a big pool/water park type area & spa areas. I saw the signs that said men's locker room & women's locker room but didn't think anything of it, most places have separate changing areas. Before I go any further let me say that I'm about to be 30, 2 words I NEVER thought I'd use when describing myself would be naive & prude, I thought Koreans were modest & I'm so very OBVIOUSLY American straight through to my core!! We asked the man at the front desk if we could basically tour the area so we could see if it's a place we'd like to come back to. He escorted Daric & the kids, since they're all male & I was left alone to tour the women's locker room. I walked into the locker room & saw a map on the wall showing the lockers, showers, cold sauna, cold pool, hot sauna, hot pools, underwater massaging pools, etc. I'm thinking "cool" this seems like a really nice place so I decided to go further & actually see the different pools. I take about 5 steps inside the room & WHAM!!! Naked Korean women are everywhere! The whole split second it takes me to realize this & avert my eyes was a split second too long!! I got to see kids, young women, old women & every age in between in all their glory. Coming out of the showers, no towels, drying their hair & styling it, no towels, chasing their naked daughters, no towels, going to/from the different pools, no towels, lounging in the different pools, no towels or swimsuits, sitting on the benches around the lockers shooting the breeze, no towels....did I mention that NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAD A TOWEL????? They were letting it ALL hang out! I must have looked lost, among other things, because the woman behind the counter inside HANDING OUT TOWELS!!! ironically enough said something to me in Korean to which I pointed to my eyes & then did a sweep of the area to convey I was just looking at the amenities before I turned & walked out. I really had to try hard not to run screaming. What I witnessed is forever burned into my memory banks. I waited by the front desk for Daric & the kids. I didn't speak until we were safely in the car driving away & then told Daric. He was laughing so hard at me & said so nonchalantly, "yeah you haven't been exposed to many naked people, it would be shocking for you." He then told me about 3 seconds into the men's locker room Akira was throwing his hands up to cover his eyes because just like the women, the men were letting it all hang out too...which explains the completely separate locker room/sauna areas. He said the "tour guide" gave Akira a funny look when he saw him cover his eyes. Ugh, we're so living up to our Puritan roots!! Daric had to tell the kids covering their eyes was rude & not to embarrass him. Daric is all excited to go back & partake in the luxury. Me...I have my reservations since there are some huge differences in the American "grooming" style & Korean "grooming" style if you catch my drift. I'd hate to have all eyes on me since I look more ways than one!! Sadly there are NO pictures of the hot springs to end this blog. I know you were all looking forward to those but I was a bit too shell-shocked to be concerned with photos.

Every day is an adventure & I hope you all have thoroughly enjoyed this particular blog!
Good night, good morning or good afternoon where ever you are in the world from our "Puritan" household.
The Bishop Crew