Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Latest w/ the Boys

Saturday, October 25, 2008 0
Ah, chilling out on a Sunday morning. Just finished scarfing down some biscuits and gravy, a Carol favorite. Now she has some apple cinnamon biscuits coming out of the oven. It's carb-loading Sunday I guess. I've come to the conclusion that it's much easier to just accept who you are - extra pounds and all, rather than work out diabolically to get your body in the shape it was when you were 23. What if soft and gooey bodies became the "in" thing? Wouldn't that be awesome? I feel so terrible for David Haselhoff and all those times he had to suck in that gut during the "Baywatch" years. Just let it go and love yourself man. Look at that wallowing mud mammal of a man, Jack Nicholson. Everybody loves him. Everyone - just let those six pack abs go. It'll be all right.

I'm looking out the window at the BEXCO crowd lining up for whatever event is going on down there. BEXCO is the Busan Exposition/Convention Center which is right across the street from us. They hold many cultural and family events there but most importantly to the boys, they've got a McDonalds and a Dipping Dots ice cream place.

Life is busy but good here in Korea. We've definitely gotten into our groove. Carol joined the BIWA - Busan International Womens Association and stays busy with BIWA meetings, volunteering, raising the boys and pleasing her man.

CJ has become quite the socialite at school. For some reason, the little kindergarteners like to chase him down during recess and he accomodates them. He's just as comfortable hanging out with the older kids too. Yeah, I think he's liking the school. He did get in trouble recently though. He mistakenly only finished half of his homework paper and got a bad grade because of it. No computer for a week. I think he would've preferred the old school filipino beat down instead. During the no computer week, he actually had to use the dictionary instead of to look up and define his vocabulary words. The horror! Parents, I suggest you get the little ones into an actual hard copy dictionary at least a couple of times so they know how to really use it. BTW, CJ just looked over my shoulder and said he wants to do another blog post. Something about his computer suspension. Stand by for that.

Here is a picture of CJ participating in an art contest at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery. The kids were supposed to draw something at the cemetery that inspired them. The only rule was that they were to produce their drawings by themselves. To the right of CJ, I caught this father helping his son with his art project. As you can see, the Koreans take education very seriously here. If you look closely, I also captured some of the father's butt crack.

More pics of the cemetery:

The cemetery is a very moving place. Carol and I were explaining the significance of the cemetery to CJ. We showed him the names of the deceased that were inscribed on the many walls. Later in the day, as CJ was drawing his project, he started to get real quiet. He actually shed a couple of tears. He told us that the meaning of the place just overwhelmed him. I hated that he got sad, but I really think he got it.

And then there's Jake...hmm.

The man holding the bullhorn is Mr. Scott Jolly, the Principal of Busan Foreign School. When the Principal visited Jake's nursery class, Jake told the Principal, "I'm gonna throw you out the window!" That little guy is fast becoming a stinker. He's gotten his name written on the board by the teacher a couple of times now. Not a good thing. He's even been caught trying to erase his name off the board. Might be time to break out the open hand smack.

Here is CJ and some of his classmates singing for the International Olympic Committee at a very big event at the BEXCO. He even got his picture in the "Dynamic Busan" newspaper. Notice that he's holding a girl's hand. Pretty good blackmail material.

Better go for now. Don't forget to vote. C2

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rerun #1

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 0
Because I've been woefully remiss in my blogging duties, I've decided to post this old letter from back in February 08 to remind folks of how we ended up in Korea. I'll get back to blogging for real when the dust settles sometime in the next year or two. Until then, enjoy. Disclaimer: I made some small edits to the letter because some editing functions didn't transfer too well when I copied and pasted onto the blog. Until next time - C2

February 2008

Friends and Family,

Raise your tray tables, place your seat backs in the forward position and strap on your seatbelts! It’s time for the Cruz’s totally random time of the year annual letter. I hope you have just as big of a lungbuster of a good time reading it as we’ve had living it out. I have to blame my tardiness with this letter on several factors. One, my month long euphoric stupor over the Dolphins’ lone victory over the Ravens. Two, the Grinch attempting to steal Christmas at the Cruz household. More on that later. And three, reality television. By the way, because of the hiring of Bill Parcells, I’ve recently stepped away from the window ledge of the tenth story of a tall building. Big Tuna and the Dolphins. Mark it down – Championship!

The family is doing well. Although Carol and I don’t consider ourselves obese by any means, we have disgusted ourselves recently to the point that we’re both looking to get back in shape. Because I think I saw Carol rewinding the Tivo to take a second glance at Titan from American Gladiators, I’m doing my best to buff up the bod. You never know when the bride might be looking for an upgrade. CJ has now read more books than I did during my entire time at the Naval War College. He wants to be a writer when he grows up, which is great because of the job security. Writers never go on strike. Jake has taken to saying some of the best bedtime prayers ever. “Dear God. Thank you for my family. Thank you for my home. Thank you for parmesan cheese. Amen.” Parmesan cheese makes everything better.

Carol and I hope your 2007 was as good as ours…wait a minute. No we don’t. Carol had some heart problems, I got passed over for command, Fred needed surgery, USAA dumped our home insurance, I didn’t get picked up for the Permanent Military Professor program and our house was broken into twice. The icing on the cake was the house getting burglarized just days before Christmas and having our presents stolen from under the Christmas tree. My guess is that the folks who did this not only want to go to H-E-double hockey sticks, but they must want to take the express train there.

As bad as the initial shock was over this burglary, the outpouring of generosity and kindness from my shipmates at US Southern Command, CJ’s school and our neighbors was incredibly heartwarming. Carol and I spent the day after the robbery doing some emergency replacement gift shopping. The following day at work, I returned to an unbelievable sight. My desk area was overflowing with gifts for the boys. I know that all of you consider me to be a model of manliness but I was really close to shedding tears right there at work. CJ’s school also did a collection and presented the family with an envelope of money and gift cards - which I immediately took to the track to bet on my favorite horse. Just kidding. I took it to the casino instead. Yes, we did feel uncomfortable with accepting these gifts. We felt the right thing to do was accept some of the gifts and donate the rest. It was a good opportunity for us to show CJ how folks should give back to help others. Although the Grinch - or some of his henchmen anyway - tried to steal Christmas, we refused to let it get us down. Rather than dwell on the negative act of a few bad apples, what my family will always remember is the incredible goodwill displayed by many thoughtful people. What began as an unfortunate event transformed into such a wonderful act of love and a long-lasting Christmas memory.

I don’t want to come across that 2007 was a bad year. On the contrary, 2007 held many memorable events for the Cruz’s. Carol and I finally got baptized! I have no idea why we waited so long. We’ve really enjoyed our church and have been more involved than we’ve ever been in the past. I had the privilege of being the Executive Officer for our Deputy Commander at Southcom. The year I spent working for General Spears was an incredibly rewarding experience. I was also promoted to Commander a year ago. And to finish off the year, we had a heck of a holiday visit from the entire Cruz family. We feasted, laughed, played games, watched movies, went fishing and just really enjoyed each other’s company. In short, 2007 was not too shabby at all.

Two simple words also helped to make 2007 a memorable year - soy milk. Being lactose intolerant, I’m now able to once again partake in one of the great joys of my childhood – scarfing down a big bowl of Golden Grahams cereal. Okay, so the soy milk turns my poop green but that’s a small price to pay. Darn, I told myself I wasn’t going to write about poop again in this year’s annual letter. I’ve failed miserably. Since I’ve already broached the poop topic (WARNING for the faint of heart – please skip to the next paragraph if you are easily skeeved out), Jake has taken to potty training rather well. Carol and I do the goofy parent thing and heap praise on Jake as if he’s just won the Nobel Peace Prize whenever he produces his stinky little shooey in his potty chair. While making one of his very first shooeys, Carol and I were rejoicing with Jake and letting him know what a good job he had done. Trumpets were blaring, birds were chirping and all was right with the world. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this white, furry flash near the potty chair. My heart began to race uncontrollably as I realized the HORROR of what had just transpired. Our dog Fred had just made an afternoon snack out of the shooey! Instantaneously, jubilation turned to extreme disgust. NOOOOO!!! Carol and I did our best to execute our consequence management plan but those efforts would only slightly mitigate the abominable image that was now permanently scarred in our brains. For a split second, the Filipino in me thought of doing diabolical things to the dog, but those thoughts subsided. Plus I wasn’t very hungry.

And now for our big news. We’re going to Korea! I've been selected to be the Commanding Officer of Military Sealift Command, Korea stationed in Busan, Korea. The whole family will be going for this two year tour. I'll probably report to Korea in late May. Carol and the kids will come after the school year is completed. I thought the window for me to become Mr. Big Pants Commanding Officer had closed. I’m glad I was wrong. I officially take over the command on 20 June. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this opportunity to lead. Besides, I’ve never dropped trow in the Far East. The travel opportunities are tremendous - Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, New Zealand, Australia, etc. We can also visit Mom & Dad in the Philippines. We’re excited about our first overseas duty and the big city living we’ll experience in Busan. Korea boasts the number ten economy in the world and Busan’s skyline is one of the top 50 in the world. So you world travelers out there - come on out and visit the Cruzers! We dare you!

The older I get, the more I realize that the plans I try to force upon myself usually get all jacked up. But the plan that God lays out for us – well, it’s awesome. I know that just in the past year, some of you have experienced deaths in the family, had serious medical issues, marital problems, issues with the kids and maybe things not going so great at work. I hope that you handle the challenges that come your way with enthusiasm, energy and an eye on a positive outcome. May you turn potential obstacles into opportunities. Or at least into parmesan cheese. Here’s to a blessed 2008 for you and your family!

All the best,

Chris, Carol, CJ, Jake and Fred

Fred, the white flash
Christmas 2007

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Garden Party and World Walk

Saturday, October 4, 2008 3
Hello everyone! Here's another slice of Korea for you. Some random pics for your viewing pleasure.

This is the Busan Foreign School (BFS) that CJ and Jake attend. We are extremely happy with the school. The Principal and entire staff are very professional and just seem to be a really good group. On this day, other nearby schools visited for a friendly field day competition, including the International Busan School (IBS). IBS was the other school Carol and I were considering for the boys. After CJ got to hang out with some of the IBS students and staff, he said we definitely chose the right school. Besides, who wants to go to a school that has the same initials as Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

This is me and Lieutanant Colonel Tripp Blanton - a great American, Citadel grad and Commanding Officer of 837 Transportation Battalion. MSCO Korea and 837 Trans are the main players at Pier 8 where I work. Tripp and I took charge of our respective commands on the same day in a joint (Army and Navy) change of command ceremony. On this evening, we, along with our lovely brides, attended the Annual Korean American Garden Party. To get the full fru-fru effect of this event, you must stick out your pinky, lift up your chin an extra twenty degrees into the air and say, "Gaaahh-den Paahh-ty", because it wasn' t a "Garden Party"; it was a "Gaaahh-den Paahh-ty". Of course Tripp and I did our best to dumb down the event with brown liquor.

Speaking of lovely brides, here is Carol and Martie. What would we do without our better halves?

My XO and I got to meet the Mayor of Busan recently at a big Anti-Terrorism Demonstration. I mentioned my idea of backing people away from airport baggage claim carousels so that it would be easier for everyone to retrieve their bags. I think he liked the idea.

Here's CJ and other kids from the Busan Foreign School at the starting line for a big "World Walk" event. Many different countries throughout the world had World Walk events on the same day. It drew over 20,000 walkers in Busan. The folks in orange jackets are International Olympic Committee members and distinguished guests from Busan. That's the Mayor of Busan right behind CJ.

This pic gives you an idea of how big this World Walk was. The building in the middle of the picture is where we live. We are right across the street from the BEXCO, a big convention center. There is always something happening at the BEXCO. Oh, I forgot to tell you. The goal of the World Walk was to draw attention to a very important cause - to back people away from airport baggage claim carousels so it's easier for folks to retrieve their bags. Thanks Mayor!
Enough silliness for now. Have a great day! C2
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