Tuesday, 23 August 2016

First Day of School!

 Today was the first day of school for the kids: 3rd & 1st grade! I think we all were looking forward to it.  Not only is this the first year that the kids will be returning to the same school as the previous year, but this is the first year that Irene and Oscar will be in separate classes. They will still have the same "specials" (gym, music, art) and the same recess period, so it shouldn't be an issue. After day 1, they are all eager to go back tomorrow, so it must have gone well! I'll admit it, I enjoyed the breather as well.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Nature Channel

I mentioned in a previous post that we got some new neighbors, Henry and Mavis,  in our garden a couple of months ago. Although some told me I was crazy, I was hesitant to shoo them away because I found it fascinating to see such a big spider so close up. It's paid off in many ways! The other day both Irene and I got the opportunity to see Henry catch a bug in his web and roll it up, preparing to eat it. Then the other day after some fairly heavy rains, we went out to check on the garden and found Mavis busily weaving her new web. We've all seen spiders hanging from the ceiling, but I've never seen one building a web. It was especially exciting because she's so big that we could see each movement clearly. The way she used her legs as hands to place the web was particularly interesting to us. 

Saturday, 13 August 2016


Today we attended our 3rd annual back-to-school musical. It's something we discovered by luck the first year we moved here, and have looked forward to each year since. This year it was "The Big Bad Musical," about the wolf being taken to court over his misdeeds. 

 Unlike the previous 2 years, there were actually empty seats this year, which was strange. But that also helped us keep the streak alive - each year they have a drawing at the beginning of the program, and at least one of our kids gets picked. I'd stressed to the kids that the likelyhood of one of them winning again this year was very slim, so don't be disappointed...and then the first name called was Irene. It wasn't as cool a prize as the first year, but it was still exciting for her to win.
 In other news, we've been watching the Olympics almost non-stop since they began a week ago. Of course our favorite is swimming. The kids have been inspired by a number of the swimmers, including Phelps. This week was a break from swim practice, but we've been going to the pool for fun. They've taken to flapping their arms around and splashing themselves with water before each lap. And Johan keeps his game face on while watching the races. I can't wait to see how they use this in their practice on Monday.
 Ok, he doesn't always have his game face on...

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Garden, etc.

We're winding down our summer here in Texas. It's really amazing how quickly it's all gone by considering that we didn't really have any major plans. After our first camping trip of the summer in June, we decided to hold off on any further camping until fall because it's just too hot.  Of course we have swimming every morning for the kids, and often they want to continue swimming at our pool when we get home. There have been a few $1 movies, and some play dates. But the best thing so far was a trip to the waterpark thanks to birthday presents from grandma and grandpa.  We took our time in making use of it, and I'm really glad we did! Their favorite part by far was a rock cliff from which they could jump off a 12 foot platform into a 12 foot deep pool, or do some rock climbing and fall backwards into it. In order to do these things, they had to pass a swim test. If we'd gone earlier in the summer, I doubt Johan could have made the cut, but 2 months of swim team and he was good to go! Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the fun day!

Another thing that took up a few days is Irene and I worked on sewing her a new dress. While she will no longer wear a dress or skirt on a regular day, she likes to wear them to church. About 5 months ago she picked out some fabric and I had yet to turn it into anything. Irene decided that she wanted to do it instead and I was all for that! It's not finished yet...let's hope it gets done before she goes back to school or maybe it never will be done. 
 And I've been a little lax in my garden care recently as well. My cucumber plants, once so abundant, turned bitter and dry, so I finally got around to ripping them out. After producing 2 zucchini, my huge zucchini plant abruptly died. We got one melon from our watermelon plants, but there are a more growing. The okra (our most abundant crop) is finally starting to slow. And our korean melon plant is finally starting to produce big fruit. The pumpkin and kabocha plants I planted last month (pictured above) seem to be doing great, and I'm looking forward to September when I can start filling in some spaces with a new round of crops like more tomato plants for fall, carrots (Johan's request), and a few other crops.  Below is one of our garden pets, Mavis. She's been hanging out in the corner of our garden with her even bigger friend, Henry for well over a month. Seeing no reason to kick them out, we've watched them grow. I have to admit though, if I see either one of them in the house, it's lights out for them!

Saturday, 23 July 2016


 What a great morning we had! I mentioned in my last post that we picked up some kayaks. Actually, the kids all got together and decided that they wanted to buy some kayaks with their own money. After much hemming and hawing about what size, style, etc. to get, Young-Hoon and I decided that inflatable was the way to go because otherwise we'd need to buy a rack to put them on our van, or stick them in the van and drive in separate cars. Neither seemed appealing. Furthermore, we were unsure about the quality and steerability for the kids, so we all compromised and pooled our money to buy a single and a double, figuring that if all works well, we could get a couple more singles in the future. Today was the test drive.
 They all got a little tired for their first run, especially in the single kayak, so I think it will be a while before we add to our fleet. But a high point was that Young-Hoon and Irene took a long ride to the middle of the lake and found a geocache! We had two more mapped out, but were too tired to row out to the locations. That's okay though, as it'll be nice to have a destination on our next trip.
 We even got some fishing in, though no nibbles on the line.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Things Going On

 We're half way through our summer, and I can't believe it. We're keeping super-busy with the kids swimming in the morning, some day trips, a few $1 movies here and there, and our new hobby - geocaching. It's like a scavenger hunt using maps and gps. We did it when my brother, Kevin, was in town and the kids had so much fun. I've been toying with the idea of getting a gps to do it again with them, but haven't justified the investment. After everyone started talking about the new Pokemon Go game (which I cannot play without a smart phone) I decided to give geocaching without a GPS and so far it's been a success! So far we've only found easy ones by looking at the map on the geocache website to find one where we are going (e.g. today we found one in the parking lot of the store we were going to), then we compare it to googlemaps where we can zoom in and look at satelite images. I let them decifer the clue, which is in code, and then let them narrow down the search on the satelite image. Usually it's pretty clear where it will be hidden within a few yards. We've found 4-5 of them so far this way, and they are always very excited about it, even though sometimes there is nothing but a piece of paper on which to write our "team name." I'm going to try to work up to more challenging caches where we'll have to use maps and compasses. First, Oscar has to find his compass.

 Today was also an extremely exciting day for us all. We broke down and bought a television set! We purposefully haven't had one since moving to America despite being offered a free tv by numerous friends. With few exceptions, we haven't missed it, but I have been searching for ways to watch the olympics with no luck. Then Young-Hoon started talking about how he thought having a TV would help his English (he usually only watches Korea programming online). So, we went for it. We got the cheapest TV available and an antenna and here we are.

We'll see if I we regret it. But I suppose the TV sloth in us will be balanced out by our other big purchase of the day - kayaks. I'll post more about those after our first trip next weekend.

Oh, and Johan's been keeping busy "listening to music" on his fake smart phone. At least he's having fun!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

4th of July

A very uneventful 4th of July has passed here in the Cameron-Jin household. A little tennis, some gardening, and we were too tired to go out and enjoy any kind of celebration. Although, with the heat index in the afternoon reaching well over 100 degrees, it was doubtful that we'd have enjoyed any kind of outdoor celebrations anyways. The Pflugerville Pfireworks are set off at the lake near our house, and last year we walked down to the end of our road to watch them. This year a house has been built there, so we walked a little farther to another open area...which was infested with mosquitoes. Irene and Young-Hoon made it about 3 minutes into the show before heading home. The boys and I lasted another 3.  It's ok though, because we got to see a ton being set off through out the neighborhood on our walk home. Plus, as Young-Hoon pointed out, we've been spoilt by the Bay City fire works, so these were not that exciting. Next year, we may venture down to the Austin fireworks or maybe Willie Nelson 4th of July picnic!

Tonight the kids were being silly for the camera. I realized that I used to take all sorts of videos of them doing mundane things like rolling over or talking about random things, but I never do anymore. It is always nice to be able to look back, hear their voice, see their gestures, etc., at different ages. I didn't get much normal interaction though...once the camera came out it was showtime.