When in

Seoul, South Korea and Lizards

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul the capital of South Korea is a city my husband has visited many times, including this past August. He enjoys the culture, temples and especially the food in South Korea. Fun fact….Did you know that Seoul is the home of fried chicken and barbecue??? Who would of thought!! This was right up my husbands alley and now I see why he visits so often. While there he visited the Coex Centre in the Gangnam district, home to Asia’s biggest underground shopping mall complete with casino, kimchi museum and traditional Buddhist temple. While there, he also visited the Joseon Royal Tombs, Garden of the Gods that has the tombs of the Joseon dyanasty. The Joseon dynastry lasted for 519 years and produced 27 kings! And if you like the Olympics check out the Jamsil Olympic Stadium aka the Seoul Olympic Stadium home to the 1988 Olympics. But it not just and Olympic stadium, it also served as the stadium for the 10th Asian Games in 1986, music concerts, and the centerpiece for Seoul sports.

Here at home, we were sorta settling into the 3rd week of school. School starts in August in the South so we were trying to get our school groove back from footloose and fancy free over the summer. And of course this was the week that all the after-school activities started, tons of paperwork for fundraisers and events for the year were being sent home and the parents opportunity to visit with your child’s teacher to review the curriculum for the school year. After a week full of activities, I was FINALLY getting a chance to stop, catch my breath and absorb all the info I had received ……or so I thought. It was Thursday evening, the house was quiet and was about to settle into bed when I saw it….a shadow cast from my nightstand lamp on the wall. At first, I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me from sheer tiredness and having filled out tons of school forms. But no. There was clearly a shadow on the wall. But it wasn’t just any shadow….it was a small shadow with legs….4 legs to be exact. Due to the position of the shadows, whatever it was was closer to me than I thought. Completely frozen, I finally found the courage to turn my head to see what was there……a LIZARD!!!! Let’s be honest…..yes, I squealed and yes I jumped out of bed to the other side of the room. Considering where I live you would think I would be accustomed to this sort of thing but alas, I’m not. It starred at me and I starred at it. I have no idea how it got into our bedroom but didn’t have time to process the logistics. And then to my horror it scurried behind our bed. Ugh!!! At that point I had to think quickly assess the situation-my husband was on the other side world, I was NOT going to bed with the lizard in our room, it’s night time and my kids are fast asleep so we can’t leave. I knew at that point it was him or me! Thus began the hunt to find the lizard, which happened to blend in with everything. By the time I found it I had……moved 2 nightstands, flipped the mattress and box spring to vertical positions, knocked over a plant, etc. Chaos has ensued trying to find the lizard that our room looked like a tornado hit it. Once I finally found the lizard, I trapped him in a cup and put him outside (it took a TON of courage). I did call my husband and explain what I had just encountered….which was met with a ton of laughter (yes, he laughed at my pain). Nonetheless……I survived.

Our bedroom…surviving chaos

Here are you surviving chaos tips:

  • Bundle Paperwork: If deadlines permit, complete school paperwork all at one time and send them to school all at one time. This frees up your weeknights for other activities, keeps you organized, and sane.
  • Be Strong & of Courage: No matter what life throws or crawls at you, be brave!! Find your inner strength to conquer your fears (this applies to life in general, not just lizards).
  • Backup plan: If this had been a more dire situation….snake, tarantula, fire, etc have a plan to call someone for backup or leave the house. Always have a plan, you never know when you will need it.
  • Wine: This is self-explanatory.

Family, Surviving Chaos

Loving Abroad

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

When my husband first started traveling, I thought I was prepared and would be comfortable while he was absent. The beginning trips were small, 2-3 days but as his achievements in career progressed, the business trips grew longer to 5 days and now 7 full days. When his role expanded to a global position, not only were the trips longer but we also had to coordinate the time difference, which really hindered phone calls. I thought I was prepared for this type of separation -I wasn’t. It was harder than I expected , sometimes more than I was able to handle and more than I wanted to deal with. So I needed to be creative…..how could stay connected while we were so far apart? So, I started putting cards with hand written notes in his suitcase. While he was busy working on logistics of his trip, I would go and hide them in his suitcase. I became an expert at finding good hiding places in his suitcase…..between shirts, inside shirt sleeves, in his toiletry bag, inside a pant leg, etc. The possibilities were endless! And these cards were not your run of the mill cards; I would specifically choose cards that were quirky, odd, funny, romantic or matched whatever was happening in our lives at that moment. He was so thrilled to receive a card and find it in the most unsuspecting places and when he was least expecting it. He would call me and tell me what part of his trip (or where he was in the world) when he found it and how he found the card, which was always the best part and the most hilarious! Thus started our tradition of writing cards to each other whenever one of us was traveling. He has kept every single card I have given him…..a whole drawer full (he travels a lot!) These cards gave me the opportunity to write all the things I hadn’t had time to say or the courage to say. To make up for missed opportunities. The idea of him reading a heartfelt note about what was on mind and on my heart brought me comfort over long distances and during the long separations.

Although I would write all kinds of things in his cards…appreciation, thanks, funny stories, etc, it wasn’t always about the content. It was more about receiving a personal note from a loved one, a small token of affection, or that I took the time during all the chaos to write something especially for him. If this note was going to be the last thing he would see or my last opportunity to say what was on my heart, why would I not take that opportunity? I encourage you to find ways to connect with spouse during travel times. What may seem like a small gesture or insignificant action makes a huge impact on someone else. It definitely gets us through the long trips and tougher parts of having a traveling spouse. How do you stay connected during times of travel?

When in

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

What’s warm sunny and beautiful all over……Costa Rica!! Who doesn’t love sun and gorgeous sandy beaches? Costa Rica has plenty of beaches and so much more to offer. With year round warm weather (23.7 °C (74.7 °F), its the perfect spot for winter vacation, summer vacation or any vacation. But don’t forget your umbrella, especially from May to November which the “rainy season” or green season. It rains everyday, sometimes twice a day!

One of our favorite cities to visit is San Jose, Costa Rica – the capital and largest city in Costa Rica. With more than 1 million people passing through the city, there are lots of things to see and do while your there. From theatre to European architecture to museums there is something for everyone. The National Theatre of Costa Rica is sight to behold with its European architecture and lavish Italian furnishings inside. With plays showing several times a week, be sure to stop and enjoy the architecture. And don’t forget to check out the San Jose skyline featuring the San Jose Highlands. Made of towering volcanos to the north and mountains to the south, its a perfect view.

When your done sight-seeing, head to one of the many beaches in Costa Rica to soak up some sun. There are many private and public beaches to choose from which all offer scenic views. If your looking for something more secluded, hope on a catamaran or yacht to take you to private beach. Our favorite…the Calypso Cruises! The Manta Raya yacht will take you to Tortuga Island across the Gulf of Nicoya. Once on the island you can experience a guided tour, snorkeling, bar service, live music, food, etc. It’s all inclusive and definitely worth the trip. And to top it all off, you get first hand experience with the wildlife on the island. Pigs, parrots, hermit crabs, and like freely roam the island and love people. Don’t be surprised if they walk right up to you looking for a handout…..from your lunch!

Food, Surviving Chaos

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Tuesdays are for tacos or so the saying goes. But how about a twist….Taco Soup! If your looking to change up your Tuesday dinner routine, put some soup on!!! This slow cooker recipe is a perfect addition to your fall or winter Taco Tuesdays; the longer it cooks, the deeper the flavor. And don’t forget to pair it with some avocado and tortilla strips. Buen Provecho!!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz canned low sodium pinto beans, drained
  • 14.5 oz canned low sodium black beans, drained
  • 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 14.5 oz canned corn, drained
  • 2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1.25 oz taco seasoning

Let’s Make It!

  • Add all ingredients to Crock-Pot
  • Cook on LOW 4 hours (up to 8 is fine)
    • The longer the soup cooks, the deeper the flavor
  • Remove chicken and shred/chop
  • Return chicken to soup. Enjoy!!!

Surviving Chaos

  • Vegetarian option: Leave the meat out entirely and add more of you favorite beans.
  • Don’t forget to freeze: This soup freezes really well for up to 2 months.
    • Freeze in small portions for quick and easy lunches.
  • Customize it: Switch out the chicken for ground beef or ground turkey.
    • Be sure to brown the ground beef or turkey first.
When in

Waterloo aka Austin, Texas

If you are ever in Austin, there are a couple of places in downtown Austin that are definitely worth visiting. Actually, there are LOT of places but for my family our favorite places are the Bullock Museum and the Texas State Capital Building. Unlike Austin’s famous tagline “Keep Austin Weird”, these place aren’t weird but fantastic! There so much to see, do, and learn during your visit and you’ll also get quite the workout. And yes, that’s a crane in the background of the star……Austin is boomin’!!! Let’s explore….

Bullock Museum (Texas State History Museum)

Named after Robert (Bob) Bullock Sr., the 38th Lieutenant Govenor of Texas, this museum displays Texas’ history from early indian settlers to the Texas Revolutionary War to the oil boom. Bob Bullock was famous for saying “In order to know where your going, you have to know where you been”; he was the driving force in creating and funding the Texas State history museum. It was named in his honor and the second floor features a 7ft tall bronze statue of him holding a gavel.

There are 3 floors (don’t forget your Fitbit!) in the Bob Bullock museum…..Texas has a lot of history to tell! But before you head to each floor, check out movie schedule at the IMAX theatre. Yes-there is an IMAX theatre inside the museum-talk about perks!!!! They show award winning new release films and documentaries and the 3D effect makes it totally worth while. The for Each floor’s theme is related to a particular period in Texas history. The 1st floor is related to early Indian civilizations and European and French colonial trade and exploration routes. The best part of this floor is what remains of the 300 year old French La Belle ship, a failed expedition to try to colonize the gulf coast. Our kids loved this and couldn’t believe they were seeing a real ship from 1684! Fun fact: Did you know the first European settlers called their settlement in Texas Waterloo? This city was incorporated under than name and but was replaced with Austin.

The theme for the second floor represent the personal history of Texas natives pre- and post Civil War and the Great Depression. On display are first hand accounts of life in Texas during those time periods through personal letters, home artifacts, photographs and fashion. There’s no story untold, from politics to farm living to African-American life in Texas. There is even a section dedicated to the Texas revolutionary war where Texas gained its independence from Mexico-its a BIG deal!! The third floor and final floor takes a look at industrious nature of Texas from oil boom to space exploration (hello NASA) to aviation. It proves there is so much more to Texas than just farms and cattle.


Texas State Capital Building

Texas State Capital Building

The Texas State Capital building is located on a hilltop overlooking downtown Austin. It is the sixth-tallest state capital building (there’s that Fitbit again!) and is taller than the United States Capital building. With 22 acres of grounds surrounding it, don’t be surprised to see people lounging, having lunch/picnics or children playing around. There is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy their day and lots of additional monuments that give a deeper look into Texas’ history. When not in session, the House of Representatives room and Texas Senate room are open to visitors. There are a TON of photo opportunities inside these rooms and so many historical desks to see. Who doesn’t want their kid to take a photo in from of the state seal or from a seat in the House of Representatives??….for future use of course! And speaking of photography, the painted self portraits of former governors and battle scenes from Texas history are magnificent. Don’t be surprised if you see a famous face or two…..in real life. Members of the house and senate are known to walk about the capital building on weekends….giving family tours of course!

Surviving Chaos Tips

  • FREE Admission: The Bob Bullock Museum is FREE!! This is perfect for when you looking for something to do on school holidays, the weekend or a short trip in Austin
    • If your hungry, check out the cafe on the second floor-they great kid friendly options
    • The museum is open on most holidays (yay!!)
  • IMAX Theatre: Be sure to check out the movie schedule, they show movies all day long!!
    • The documentaries are only 45 minutes (short and sweet) and are family friendly
    • Showtimes are mid-morning or early afternoon….so kids won’t miss their nap time
  • FREE Tours: There are free 30 minute tours of the Texas State Capital building. Its definitely worth doing as they pack a whole of of history in 30 minutes.
    • Again!….perfect for school holidays, the weekend or a short trips in Austin
    • If your wanting some independence (yes-pun intended) you do a self guided tour using one of their pamphlets.