Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Return of the Blog

 Blog? What blog? It's been quite some time since the last update (almost a year?), so I'll just throw some photos on here in what I think are fairly chronological order. I'm mostly going by Katie's hair length since she's never had it cut yet. First, the photo mélange, and then some reflections.

Some pictures from our winter journey to Korea.

And our last days in Athens. Overall, I enjoyed Athens, and yet it wasn't hard to leave. For the most part, I should say. There were a couple of close bonds with people I had met academically and it was harder than I thought to leave the Korean youth group (and really, the families as well--in the past 6 years, I've been blessed to be surrounded by such a tight community of Koreans, which was 95% of our social circle).

But moving to Harrisonburg was like coming home. Yes, I only lived here for 2 years, and it was a long time ago, but I probably couldn't pick a better place on earth where the culture and ethos match with who I am and what I believe. It also helps that almost all of my close childhood friends, some of my good college friends, and a chunk of extended relatives all live in the area.

Lots of changes nested inside the move. We went from homeowners to renters. ("Woohoo!" says the man who only touches tools when he absolutely needs to. Actually, in the right situation, it can be quite fun, but those "right situations" have been extremely rare now that we have our two lovely girls!) After 7 years of marriage, we have a dining table (mostly a positive because we can have more structured meals now).

Time feels more pressed than ever. Actually, there are two speeds. When I'm not watching the girls, I'm in super high gear--often quite productive and mostly doing stuff that I love to do professionally, but the flip side is that I can feel extreme guilt and regret if I don't manage a block of girl-less time well. When I'm with the girls (with or without JooYeon), time slows down and we can enjoy exploring our new home.

I'm fairly sure we've had more social events in the past 5 weeks in Harrisonburg than we did in the past 3 years (or so) in Athens. That's probably an exaggeration. But the rate is much higher, especially with my sister Heather living here too. We take walks almost every day and often stop to play with some neighbors or plan to meet someone at the Children's Museum or a playground. We've been showered with welcoming kindness with so many people in the area that it's almost overwhelming (in a good way).

Personally (i.e., outside of professional stuff), most of my time and energy has been into growing (or perhaps shrinking, as it often feels like) as a father. Patience seems to come fairly easily, replenishing energy has been harder, and perhaps my biggest struggle is that my locus of control seems much more external now. If Ellie (or Katie) has a tantrum when we're out in public, or if she doesn't play well with children of our friends, my emotions drop--most likely, because I feel it's a result of some parenting flaw in myself. On the other hand, there's lots of fun and exciting times, too, so part of it is just adjusting to my emotions being more out of my control than I'm used to.

I realize these words would be a lot cooler with some pictures. These days, we take most pictures on Joo's iPhone, and she has the girls out in Oregon visiting her sister, so it looks like we'll have to wait until the next blog entry...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

End of the Summer and Back to School

Halfway through the summer, JooYeon and I had an interesting discussion. I made the comment, "Isn't it nice that I'm in Academia, because it means I have all this extra time with the family in the summer?" JooYeon looked at me puzzled and said, "But you're still working most of the time in the summer!" It was true that I was still going into the office most weekdays, but I think that the lighter workload had made me feel freer compared to the school year. JooYeon, on the other hand, had expected that I wouldn't work at all during the summers and certainly that I would have more time available after completing my PhD program. 

As we talked more, we realized that a good solution would be to use our time together more efficiently. After Katie's birth, we (okay, mostly JooYeon) had become more efficient with getting stuff done around the house, but we hadn't made a conscious effort to figure out how to spend our "beyond cleaning" time wisely. So, we decided to plan things out a bit more. Our first trip was to the Wilds (last blog entry), and our second was a boat trip around the Ohio River.

It was just a day trip; a 2-hr boat ride followed by a meal and some light shopping, but it was a fun outing.

Next was a trip to the Newport Aquarium, where Ellie got to interact with all her favorite sea creatures.

Our final summer excursion was a road trip that began with a stay with some good friends (an old roommate), then out to Stricklers in Indiana for a welcome back campout for Weston who is now studying in a master's program in Sri Lanka. Finally, we closed the trip out with a couple days at my parents' house.

 Once the school year set in, we settled back into more of a routine, but by then it was plenty of entertainment just to watch the girls develop new things every day.

We've been so fortunate that Ellie has continued to be so loving towards her new sister, although we're curious as to what will happen in these next few months as Katie becomes more mobile and has access to Ellie's precious belongings. :)

I'm now in my second year as a visiting assistant professor of mathematics at Ohio University, but I've been job hunting as my current position is a temporary one. JooYeon's in charge of screening all the job postings on about five different job boards. Then she sends me any that seem to meet my criteria and her geographic approval (i.e., the states surrounding Ohio, plus Oregon where her sister lives, and a handful of the New England states).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Living on the edge!

(The above picture is photoshopped... typically, that would be assumed, but with all the lackluster parenting in the media, I figure I better cover my bases.) The view is real--from the Loews Vanderbilt in Nashville--but I'll get to that later. 

Although the past two months have still kept me on my toes professionally, I've also had more family time than I've had in awhile. 

A fun shirt for Katie from my advisor, Bob.

Our house is a bit small to host our growing family, so we headed up to Mom and Dad's after graduation for a couple days.

Pictures can be deceiving; the above pictures make it look like Ellie and Anna have been best friends at first sight. The reality is more like...

However, we soon realized that we could stave off 90% of the issues with equal opportunity attention.

Halfway through May, I was invited to speak on our newly-released report on rural education at the Education Writers' Association conference in Nashville, TN. Not only did they pay for some nice accommodations, but I entered a small lottery system, and we won an upgrade into the fanciest hotel room(s) we've ever stayed in. (A double treat for JooYeon since we're accustomed to doing things the cheapest route possible!)

The talk itself went great, even though it was a much different audience than I'm used to. These were journalists and media reporters who were interested in telling stories about rural areas. Some were already from rural areas (one covers a small school district on an island in the northwestern U.S.) and others were from big cities such as New York who were shocked to hear about some of the educational issues in rural areas.

Back at home, JooYeon made Ellie some ladybug cupcakes for her birthday.

Next was a trip out to visit Mom's family in Lancaster, PA, which began with a hotel stay and Katie's first swim...

Lots of good discussion and fun with extended family...

Ellie had her first train ride, which she loved (aside from the occasional surprise whistles).

The Athens library rents out a nice bike so that Ellie can come cruising with me.

We met up with Heather, Bob, and Anna in Easton. This time Ellie and Anna had many more pleasant interactions than the previous visit...

...that is, except for the final hug goodbye!

Ellie's been lavishing Katie with lots of love and attention, which Katie seems to enjoy. :)

Our next trip was to the Wilds, the closest thing to a safari in Ohio (we've taken more trips in the past two months than in the past couple years; this new phase is a result of recent family conferences we've had). But of course, we enjoyed another hotel stay before the Wilds. I think the second girl (and an actual full-time job) has tipped the scales on making it easier to stay in a hotel than at a friend's house... at least temporarily!

At the Wilds, Ellie enjoyed checking off the animals from her list as she saw them.

Back in Athens, I worked hard to catch up on some of my projects such as the textbook. One of my most intellectually demanding tasks was taking Ellie out for some ice cream so that I could get a picture for our section on 3D objects. :)

On Wednesday evenings during the summer, there are free concerts in Athens; Ellie enjoyed the view from on top of a large rock with her friend.

In Korea, the 100-day celebration is one of the biggest of the baby's life (I think this has its roots in the high infant mortality rate, and so making it to the 100-day mark was a good sign that the infant would survive). We dressed Katie up (a more successful endeavor that it had been for Ellie's 백생일!)

So, we continue our journey into the unknown. These next 6-8 months will be particularly exciting as we make some decisions about where we will call our home (which will likely be for the next 30 years or so).