Tuesday, 17 January 2017


 The day has arrived! Irene and Oscar got their braces off! For reference's sake, the got them on in September 2015 - 16 months ago. And before that they had the expander on for 6 months. So it's been quite a while since they have had the freedom to eat whatever they want. (Although, to be fair, We really haven't followed the rules too closely.) Still the first thing they did when they got out of the office was have a piece of gum. They tell me it was wonderful.

 They are still not completely free, however. They must wear a retainer at least 12 hours/day. Luckily, the are encouraged NOT to wear it at school to decrease the risk of losing it. So basically while sleeping and when they are around the house. It's a new thing to get used to, but still better than braces!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Olympic Dreams

 What a day! Every year there is an Arena Pro Series for swimmers that tours America. It's for some of the fastest swimmers in America, including current and future olympians, and it stops in Austin. Last year I took Irene to watch one day, and it was very exciting. This year, was even more exciting! Olympian and WR holder Cullen Jones put on a swim clinic at the pool where the kids practice. First he gave a short Q & A and then he gave the kids some lessons in the water. It was pretty cold out, but they all had a lot of fun. At the end, they even got to race him!

In the afternoon, we were all scheduled to volunteer at the swim meet downtown. Young-Hoon and I volunteered to work at the Meet & Greet, having no idea that the swimmer who would be signing autographs was Cullen Jones. It worked out well, because in a lull in signing, Oscar asked him what his favorite dry-land training is, and the result was a planking competition. I think the kids surprised him a little bit with how long they could last! 

The kids were signed up to carry baskets for the top swimmers. This included a number of Olympians such as Josh Prenot, Anton Ipsen, Amanda Weir, and more! Basically, they just had to carry out an empty basket, the swimmer would put their clothes in it, then the kids would carry them back. They all said it was super-fun and are already asking me to make sure I get them in next year. 

 Johan even found himself on the big screen right behind Jacob Pebley.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Pokemon Killed Santa

I think it's finally happened: Santa just may have met his doom here in the Cameron-Jin household. As I was driving the kids to swim practice this afternoon, I overheard the following:

Johan: What the...!!!?! Does Santa steal all the presents?!
Oscar: Um...no?
Johan: Well, does he just buy them at the store?
Oscar: No, he makes them. Or his elves do.
Johan: Well, does he live in China?! Because my Pokemon card holder says "Made in China," so...

*Long pause*

A discussion about whether or not Santa is real began between the boys. I stayed out of it, and so did Irene, though probably for different reasons. In the end they seemed to decide firmly that he is not real, and after we arrived at the pool about 5 minutes later, Oscar asked me point blank.  I'll admit it, I was tempted, but I stuck to my policy of non-committal answers and just said, "That's something you're going to have to decide for yourself." A little less confidently, he declared Santa a phony. So, that's where we ended up. I think Santa's days are numbered, and I'm not sure how much longer I can help him out.


We had a special treat this weekend - my brother and niece came to visit from Japan. They had been visiting with the rest of the family over Christmas, but since we were in Korea, they were nice enough to stop by for a few days on their way back to Japan. Mona is just 4 months older than Johan, and all the kids get along great. Although it was probably the coldest few days of the year here (it reached about 18F Saturday morning), we had enough to keep busy.       
On Sunday it warmed up just enough (45F) that we could visit a heated pool and the kids (and Kevin) could take a swim since that is one of the things that Mona most wanted to do and my kids never pass on going swimming. After swimming we stopped for some BBQ and waddled home. 

 Since it will be Mona's 7th birthday on Tuesday, we had a little birthday celebration here. I whipped up a chocolate cake and she decorated it by herself. We all had  really good time, and wish they could have stayed longer!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Unexpected Adventure

Our trip wasn't over! On the way home, our flight from Incheon to San Francisco got delayed after arrival. We sat on the ground for about 30 - 40 minutes. By the time we got off and through the (incredibly loooong immigration process) and got our bags, our connecting flight was taking off and the next flight was not until 4pm the next day - 27 hours later! I'd be lying if I said I was too upset when he handed me the hotel voucher and 3 meal vouchers per person. 

A quick regrouping at the hotel, and we were on the phone with Young-Hoon's brother, who happens to live just 30 minutes by car south of San Francisco. They came to pick us up and took us back to their home where we had an enjoyable New Year's Eve dinner. Unfortunately, our travels caught up to us, and we were back at the hotel and in bed sleeping by 10:30pm. No New Year's bells and whistles for us! 
But our San Francisco fun was not over yet! I pryed everyone up around 6:30 the next morning to catch a shuttle to the airport, to catch a train downtown, so we could ride the famous San Francisco cable cars down to Fisherman's Warf. Because it was New Year's Day, the National Park there was closed. As was the maritime museum. But we still enjoyed the cable car ride, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and a WWII battle ship and submarine before heading back to the airport and an uneventful trip home where presents from Santa were waiting! It was a fantastic end to a fantastic trip.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Korea 2016!

Where to begin? We're back from our big trip to Korea, and I'm still trying to sort through everything. Here's a brief rundown of our expedition. To start with, it was cold. Luckily we were prepared with warm jackets and my Christmas gift to each of the kids - a newly knitted cap. After spending just 2 nights at Young-Hoon's sister's house just outside of Daejeon, we took a bus down to Gwangju to visit friends and check out our old stomping grounds. One thing that Irene had asked to do on our trip was visit the orphanage where we adopted them from. Before we moved to America, we had visited a number of times, including just before leaving, but the kids were too young to remember and she's been getting more and more curious. We figured we'd look at the outside, stop in for a cup of tea and say hello, and be on our way. It turns out that our main contacts are no longer there, but the new people were happy to give us a detailed tour, including the room where we first met Irene and Oscar. Irene says that, aside from food/eating, this was her favorite part of our trip. 
After the orphanage, we drove over to the local fish market to pick up some fresh food...and play with some fresh food as well. 

Before we moved, Irene's favorite food was wiggly octopus legs, but I was wondering if she would still feel the same way. She didn't skip a beat as she scooped them off the plate and into her mouth. Neither did Oscar or Johan, who had never even tried them before because he was too young at the time.
For Christmas, we rode back to Young-Hoon's sister's for some Christmas cake and family time. 
Christmas day was spent at a National Historical Museum. The kids were very excited to see snow on the ground! There was even enough for a snow man and a snowball fight.

Inside the museum they got to (finally) check out a replica of a turtle ship. Oscar, and subsequently Johan, was obsessed with turtle ships and Admiral Lee Sun-Shin since we left Korea. Even to the point that Oscar's first Halloween costume in America was the admiral.
After Christmas, we trekked back down to Gwangju to meet with friends again. After a quick lunch of borribab (barley mixed with your choice of a large variety of seasoned veggies), and a stop at our old apartment complex (which none of the kids remembered), we once again met up with friends.

This time, they had rented out a pension in a historical villiage nearby. Several families gathered for some delicious food and lots of talk. It was extra fun because most of our friends have kids within a month or two of Irene and Oscar. Although they had some trouble communicating (which made my heart hurt), they found common ground with the traditional Korean drums found in the attic, and all had fun.

After saying goodbye to our Gwangju friends, we headed once again back to Young-Hoon's sister's. A day trip to Seoul (on the coldest day of our trip), was a lot of fun. 
We saw one of the historical gates of Seoul.
A statue commemorating the plight of Korean comfort women. She was cold, so she'd been bundled up appropriately for the weather.
In the square we saw statues of Admiral Lee Sun-Shin and King Sejong (Korea's most beloved king). We also got to witness some of the protests that have been going on there since their president has been found to be all sorts of bad. She was impeached just days before our arrival to Korea, so there were probably fewer people. But before her impeachement, every Saturday for the past few weeks millions of people have gathered to peacefully protest. There was also a shrine for the 350+ high school students who were killed in a very suspicious ferry incident a couple of years ago. (This has also been tied to the president). There were still some people camped out in the square playing patriotic songs, so the kids go to experience it to some extent.

Under the square, there is an underground museum dedicated to Lee Sun-Shin. The boys loved it. 

As a final act, we hit the karaoke joint. This was Oscar's favorite thing. They liked it so much that we managed to squeeze in another session just before heading to the airport. 

Below are a couple of videos from our trip. Mostly food, since that was a main theme. I feel like we were eating constantly...not that I'm complaining!


Saturday, 17 December 2016

Swimming Success!

Today was Young-Hoon's birthday, and as a birthday present the kids promised to dedicate all of their races to him and to swim their very hardest. They did NOT dissappoint! This was definitely one of their most successful meets overall. Let me recap briefly.

50 free - he improved by over 1 second and came in 2nd of 7 in his age group! (58.32)
50 back - although he didn't get a personal best, he came in 2nd of 7! (1:06.63)
50 breaststroke - unfortunately, he DQed in this, but it was his first try on this hard stroke!

50 free- he improved by over 3 seconds! and came in 23 of 45 in his age group (47.25)
50 back - definitely not his best today, but he came in 19 of 28. (1:00.50)
50 breaststroke - this was Oscar's first time doing the breaststroke and he did great! 23 of 31 (1:21.32)
100IM - He also did this event for the first time and nailed it! 8 of 13 in his group! (2:18.43)

Irene: This girl was ON FIRE today!
50 free - she beat her old time by over 1 second giving her her first B time!!!!! 3rd out of 45 in her age group and 18th out of 116 girls 10 and under (38.07)
100 back - first time in almost a year she swam this. She crushed her best by over 39 seconds! 7 of 11         (1:47.01)
50 fly - she took off almost 7 seconds to come in 5th of 17. (51.92)
100 IM - she beat her time by almost 7 seconds, earning her SECOND B time of the day and coming in 4th of 11 in her age group, 12 of 41 in all! (1:42.50)

It was a long day at the pool, but definitely worth it. These kids did great!