Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Shopping Korean Style

So... things have been so crazy here - but today Dylan and I managed to get out and finally do some local Christmas shopping Korean style!

1st we started with a bite to eat - to give us our strength!!! Then its off to shop -

Here is the 1st Jersey shop off base - they do pretty good - and have the best selection of pink and gray jerseys! It's taken the Koreans a while to figure our girls in America like football too!!!
They still have not figured out that all Cowboys fans do NOT like Romo - any other player is a special order!!! Sorry Jason!

Here is a typical alley right off the base -

I don't know how popular these are in the states - they are all the rage over here - Its a hat and the mittens are the hands on the end - Very cute

Hat's gloves and scarfs galore!

Blanket anyone? They have all kinds - even an Obama one!! Thats one way to get into bed with him!

The store I love to get my Korean knick knacks at -

I would actually like some Korean Ceramics - but then I saw the prices - WOW!!! Don't like it that much!!! I will save my money for the polish pottery!!

Koachy anyone?

Now we are headed home with all our presents - It was a fun day - better than a date at the mall!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving away from home

Normally after Thanksgiving, we have so much turkey leftover, I am OD on turkey for a whole year! This year I can pretty much guarantee that there will be no leftovers - because we are headed to the Officers Club for Thanksgiving dinner!
Traditionally, Koreans tend to cook EVERYTHING on the stove top. Ovens are more of a novelty. I have heard stories, that up till a few years ago, you could even find apartments
available that had no stoves. The Koreans that rented to Americans, understood that we like to use stoves, started supplying them, sort of. My stove has got to be the size of a large microwave! The dimensions are something like 12" x 8" and about 12" deep.
I can not even put a full size cookie sheet in! I so have to say that all the apartments we look at were the same, at all prices. We laughed at it when we moved in, and have been creative in using it. Then we started to think about Thanksgiving.
I love entertaining people and having them over, but the reality is we live in 900sq feet. and I didn't get a household good shipment, so I have no good cooking supplies. There is just no way to cook a huge dinner for even the 4 of us, let alone friends!

We had to adjust our plans of having a huge dinner with friends. Sort of.
Options had to be found, and thankfully we have them. We are having late lunch at the Officers Club. They are having a HUGE spread, with Turkey, Ham, Prime Rib, Salmon and so much more. This is not ideal, but thankfully it is there for us!

Thanksgiving is not just about the Turkey. It is about spending time with Family. Overseas, your friends are your family. They are your support network, your shoulder to cry on, you family away from home, so you tend to spend holidays with friends, especially Thanksgiving. This year there are many blessings, to include a reservation for 12 for dinner and growing!

This year, there will be no turkey mac&cheese, no leftover turkey sandwiches and no pie for breakfast, but there will be celebrations of all we are thankful for, and friends. In lew of family, the best Thanksgiving I could possibly hope for! The secret to a wonderful Thanksgiving, make the best of what you have, with Joy in your heart, not to dwell on what is missing! And be especially thankful of all you have and the people in your life that are there to spend it with you.

Many pictures to come!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creative Necessity

So, in my haste to get overseas on 2 weeks notice, and packing my 2 suitcases each, I forgot one key thing, Christmas. I have NOTHING here for Christmas!! No stockings, no lights, no tree, no ornaments! Nothing here. At home in a 20x30 storage unit I have about 20 huge rubber-maids full of Christmas decorations. So I have a dilemma, what do I do about Christmas?The suggestions have been made by people in the states that I can just go to the dollar store and hit some cheap decorations. Ya, that not a reality here! Sure they have the 1,000 won store and a dollar store that is great called Dasio (really a whole post should be dedicated to its awesomeness!) but this is a country that only a small percentage celebrate Christmas. There are no Christmas trees up, no Christmas music playing in the stores and no little cheap decorations to be had. So I have to get creative. (Keep in mind there are no Michaels down the street! I mean really home made!)

I have decided that we are having a homemade Christmas. We are starting now and going to try and make something every day for the house. My MIL is sending some stockings and I have heard a rumor that they are going to sell real trees in the Commissary parking lot. I have bought I thing of red and green balls and will buy 3 strings of lights. The rest we will make.

Today is paper chain day. I bought a pack of construction paper 1.97 and some glue. I have recruited my BFF's kids to help and vola - Day one down!!!

Tomorrow I think we are going to try and tackle some paper cut snowflakes!

Bring on the Christmas Carols!

What are some creative ideas for a homemade Christmas? Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creative Necessity

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So Thankful for...

So on facebook and some of my communities I am participating in 30 days of Thankful. It is a way to look at what you are thankful for ~ kinda a glass half full kinda thing. So for the 1st 2 weeks I ran the gammet of the the usual, I am above all thankful for my family, friends and faith. Now I can get to the fun stuff. So in honor of 30 Days of thankful today is all the fun stuff I am thankful for over here across the even bigger pond.

#1) Slingbox

I LOVE TV. I miss TV. I like white noise. I leave it on when I sleep. I don't think it ever goes off, it is my giant 60" night light. AFN or Armed Forces Network (the "free" TV available over here) sucks ass. Really. Some days I just want to watch QVC (because I think it is the funniest thing ever invented! It's like watching people at a mall!) My husband, knowing my need for TV got us a sling box. It is AWESOME. We stream TV from home over the internet and then use our TV as a computer monitor. Just like being at home!
Getting the best of both worlds, now I am not missing any of my stories.
And to top it off, it is coming to the Ipad!!! - Joy of Joys!!!!

I am thankful for my sling

#2) Radiant Heat Floors

They are everywhere here!!!! I LOVE THEM. I live in a perpetual state of cold. My husband and I are engaged in a constant war. The great thermostat war. There are many battles, most I win, and this means that as it is snowing outside, most of the people in my house are sweating profusely in their underwear, except me in a sweater wanting to turn it up. I absolutely LOVE getting out of bed in my fuzzy socks and feeling the heat rise from the radiant heat floors.

#3) Starbucks

Ok I admit it, I try but I am a consumer whore. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Starbucks. I do not eat at fast food. No McDonalds, no Burger King, ok occasionally a Taco Bell, but I do love my Starbucks. I love Chai Lattes, it is like a cup of Christmas every day! I know that my time with you is short as there is no Starbucks in Italy, so I will enjoy you while I can. Thank you for putting a Starbucks in the BX here at Osan.

#4) Fireballs.

I love em, and thanks to my good friends, a call went out when I could not find them here. I was sent (autonomously) a giant 10lb box from the manufacturer! That is love!!!!

There are many other things I am thankful for, like my bff Nikkol who chauffeurs me around everywhere, and the fact that I live in stumbling distance from a huge bar/restaurant area and can have copious glasses of wine and good food from all over the world with friends and then walk home. I am thankful that as we stay in the military longer and longer we run into more and more of the same people and I am thankful that we like these people.

The bottom line is that there are so many things that I could complain about. Living overseas can be a challenge. I could sit here a compile a list of all the things wrong over here, but instead I am choosing to look at all the wonderful things about being here.

What are some of the things you are thankful for?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Season of Giving

Today I am taking my camera out and catching some more life here in Korea for the blog, so until then I am vering off for a min.I know that it is not even Thanksgiving, but living overseas, we have to have all gifts shipped by Dec 10th so Christmas shopping starts early for us. I was just sitting here contemplating what to get my Aunt/2nd mom for christmas. Here is the problem, she buys herself everything she wants! I know you probable have a family member like this. I could her something from Korea,
but she has been here a million times and was stationed in Hawaii and the Philippines (Navy) and she "just does not want any more Korean crap" - That was a direct quote!

So what to get her? We have decided on 3 things that are perfect gifts for the hard to please stateside family members

1.) A Digital Photo Frame -

Not only are these a black friday special at the BX - we are going to load it up and have it ready to run otherwise it will just sit in the box till we come home. She will love this!

2) Scrapbook Calender ~

There are a million places to get these - Right now Arts Cow is having a special.

Coupon Code: 2011CLDRS

Expiry Date: 11/12/2010

I put in pictures of all the grandkids and kiCds - I generally put the picture of the grandkid on their birthday month. My whole family LOVES these cheesy gifts and asks for them EVERY year!

3) Donations -

Finally I make a small donation in their name to one of the 3 military charities. Most of my family are military and Love it - The year I made a donation to the WWII museum for my Grandfather he teared up. So much better than a shirt. And lord knows these organizations can use the money in this recession -

Here are the 3 Charities that are nearest and dearest to my heart! And I have personally given to them in the past and have excellent ratings with charity watchdog groups -

#1 and my all time favorite -

Fisher House

When my mother passed all in leu of donations went to them - How can you not love this orginization?

Wounded Warrior Project


Operation Home Front

All of these charities have great ratings from both

Charity Watch

Charity Navigator

These are some of my ideas -
What are some of yours?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Non-Command Sponsored in Korea

As this is a new blog and I am still introducing myself, I wanted to let you know where we are. We live in Songtang (Peyong Teck) South Korea - right off Osan Air Base. My hubby is stationed over here. It was never our original intention to live here. We originally requested a remote so that we could get stationed overseas. It worked - While stationed at Langley AFB we got our remote and our follow on to Aviano Italy. I decided to take the kids home to Texas to spend time with my family before we went overseas for 5 years. Then we suffered a close death in the family, and while my husband was home on emergency leave, we decided that I would take the kids and return with him. We were originally going to go with him at the start of the tour, but my family had talked me out of it. In 2 weeks we put all our stuff in storage, got plane tickets, mailed a few really important things and packed 2 suitcases each. - I think we are still recovering from this!

I think to answer the questions I will start from here with some of the most common questions. Know that these answers apply to the Air Force only - I am not sure about the Army.


I am a dependent spouse. I am no longer active duty. I can travel and live anyplace I want to. I do not need orders to move. They are nice but not necessary. I get benefits WHEREVER I choose to live, Virginia, Texas or Korea. The military (all branches) honors this. Your spouse is now paid BAH based on your location, this includes overseas. So if you choose to move overseas, you will receive OHA (overseas housing allowance) on your closest location, not their base. I know this because my hubby is not at Osan, he is at Kunsan. We receive OHA for Osan because that is where we live. We also receive our full utility allowance. What we do NOT get because we are not on his orders is full COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) . He receives partial cola, but here in Korea, the need is not that great. Because we still live 50 miles away from him, we still get family separation pay. This combined with partial COLA more than makes up for not getting full COLA. As of winter 2010 (and for the foreseeable future) NCS (non-command sponsored) dependents are NOT authorized on base housing - and to be honest with you I would prefer to live off base. Housing is in 3 huge apartment towers. Not what I would like to live in.


My children and I are on a space available basis. When we arrived on base we went to the hospital tri-care office, updated our address and were placed on Tri-Care Standard. This is the 80/20 plan. If I choose to see an off base provider - I will pay 20% up to my 1000.00 cap for care. I am still authorized to see a provider on base, on a space available basis. There is an appointment line that I call after 10am to make a same day appointment. I can go to the ER and will be seen just like anyone else.

Recently I have seen an infulx of complaints about medical care on base. Many junior personal seem to think it is base specific. For example - the hospital here at Aviano sucks. It takes at least a week to get an appointment when I call. News flash - THIS IS EVERYBASE!!!!!! Cannon, Langley, Edwards. Even if you find an off base provider who takes Tri-Care prime, it can take up to a week for an appointment. My 7 year old got his 6 month check up at almost 9 months 5 years ago at Nellis because there were no well baby appointments. He lived.


This is the big one for us. I have a 2nd grader and a 9th Grader over here. (My teen daughter decided to stay in the states and wait till we left for Italy.) We had to be prepared to home school - period. I called, border line harassed the High School to see about availably. I was told (over the summer) that I needed to place their names on a waiting list. When school started and all of the numbers of the command sponsored were in they would go down the waiting list in order to let kids have slots available in category order ~ We are category 3
Here is a link to help understand this better
For the High School there was no problem. They have just built a new one and are under their numbers. The elementary school was another issue. It is bursting at the seams. They are overcrowded and running out of room. Even children NCS who were allowed in last year were not allowed this year. There is simply no room till about 6th grade. My oldest goes to school and we home-school my youngest. I promise to dive into this on a whole other post.

As I stated earlier my husband lives 2 hours away. His base is really small. A few pilots bring their family NCS, but that is about it. We would have been able to do it, but there is no school there for my teenager and there is really no community to support me. We choose to live in Osan and he commutes every weekend. There are so many people here in the exact same situation we are in. I have great support community here.
Living over here NCS is not hard. It sometimes takes some "creative solutions" but that can be said of any overseas assignments.
Korea is not a 3rd world country. They are the most wired country in the world. Millions of people live here without the aid of the US military. Coming over here without orders is not that difficult and worth every moment.