Tuesday, May 23, 2017

15 years? Holy Cow We Are Old!

Five days ago I woke up in my Korean apartment for the last time.  Eight years is a long time for me to be in one place.  All summed up, I have spent over a quarter of my life in Korea.  It has been difficult for me to face the inevitable change heading my way.  Maryland isn't new to us and we are excited to reconnect with good friends there but I worry about my kids leaving the only home they know.  I worry about them leaving great friends that have become family to go to a foreign land, a new house, new schools, new church, new everything.  Sometimes I feel scared about leaving what has become comfortable.  Other times I am excited for the next adventure.  All of this seems eerily familiar.

In 1997 (20 years ago!), my best friend and I went to EFY where my life changed forever when I met Amber Asay.  Things were simpler.  All I had to worry about was getting good grades, and making my weekly long distance phone call to Logandale.  I was lucky that my Dad allowed me to travel down to meet her a few times.  We listened to Ben Folds while dodging boulders on our way up Mormon Mesa to look at the stars.  When Amber came to Salt Lake for volleyball games, we got to hang out.  We hiked the 'S' and watched an entire valley's worth of fireworks.

A few years later and I was back from two years in Korea with hope that Amber would be there.  I could hardly contain myself the first time I saw her after my mission.  What seemed simple to my heart was quickly complicated by the reality that I still had years of college ahead of me, no idea what I wanted to do for a living, no car, no job, just love.  I worried about how it would all work out.  I asked Amber to marry me and she said yes.  She wasn't worried about any of that stuff.  She reassured me that together we could deal with any challenge.  So 15 years ago when I woke up in my own bedroom for the last time, while excited for my new life, I was still a little freaked out.

I never could have guessed that 15 years from that day, I would be where I am now.  Still freaked out and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but just as I was that day, I am confident that I can face any challenge because I have Amber at my side.

I am blessed to have Amber.  I love her always positive attitude, her snarky laugh and her smile.  I love how we can't go anywhere without her bumping into people she knows.  I love her because she is the mother of our four beautiful kids.  I love going on adventures with her.  I love how she can't help but make inappropriate jokes.  I love that she can school me in Dr. Mario and PACMAN.  I love the wonderful friends she attracts (if it were up to me we'd be loners).  Even though I don't know what is next, I am grateful that whatever it is, we will be together.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Miles Armando Cottrell

 On 13 May 2014 our lives were again changed forever with the addition of this little angel to the Cottrell family.  Miles Armando Cottrell was born at 7:49 pm at the 121st Army Hospital in Seoul Korea.  He weighed in at 8 lbs 7.5 oz, and was 21.5 inches long.  Little miles is about 2 weeks early and almost arrived a week earlier than that.  On Sunday, the 4th of May, Amber started feeling contractions fairly regularly from about 5:00 pm till nearly midnight.  Then they went away.  On Monday morning, we went into the clinic to check to make sure the baby was okay since we had never experienced false labor to that extent with any of the other kids.  The baby was fine, and Amber was measured to be at 4 cm.  The doctor said that he could come anytime.  Later on Monday, the contractions came back, much stronger but less regular.  Again, they went away around midnight.  This really got us worried since contractions that strong had meant that birth was imminent for the other kids.  Tuesday we returned to the clinic to check on the baby, and this time, the nurses all looked at us like we were crying wolf and told us to go home.  At that moment, Amber decided that she was not going to go to the hospital again unless she was positive the baby was coming.  Amber went on living as if she wasn't about to give birth.  We went walking a lot, and even went to a John Mayer concert, all along, Amber endured sporadic contractions and sleepless nights.  On Tuesday 13 May, Amber had another appointment and once again she was measured to be at 4 cm and so Amber dropped me off at work and planned to stay there until 6:30 pm.  Amber spent the day busy with the kids.  While she was at the park with some friends, the contractions returned, more intense than before and consistent every 5 - 6 minutes.  She called me at about 6:00 pm to tell me to get a cab home so I left work.  When I got home, she had showered and fed all of the kids and was obviously in a lot of pain.  I called up our neighbors downstairs to have them come up to watch the kids, and Amber put Sadie down to sleep.  We rushed to the hospital, arrived at 7:02 pm and were greeted by some of the same nurses who had been present for Amber's false labor.  They checked her and she was still at 4 cms.  While they were hooking her up to the monitors, we overheard one of the nurses in the lobby remark that Amber was in a week prior at 4 cm and would be 4 cm until the baby was due at the end of May.  Meanwhile I was trying to explain that Amber has a history of quick deliveries (the doctor missed Sadie's birth and she was delivered by the nurses...), but it was hard to compete with all the naysayers in the lobby.  Amber's labor was noticeably more intense and I got the feeling that one of the Korean nurses believed me.  By 7:25 pm Amber had progressed to 7 cm and the nurses began to get nervous.  That is when they called the doctor and admitted Amber to the delivery room.  Unknown to us at the time, Amber was strep b positive and the nurses were freaking out and kept telling Amber she needed to have antibiotics administered via IV.  Amber would have none of it.  She told me later it was because she remembered from Addy's birth that the antibiotic doesn't do any good unless it is administered a few hours prior to delivery.  At 7:30 pm the ER doctor arrived in the delivery room since Amber's doctor hadn't arrived yet.  He didn't look to comfortable, we guess he hadn't delivered a baby in some time.  He confirmed with the nurses that he was just going to wait around until the on-call doctor arrived.  He backed away from the table about 2 yards just as Amber had a really strong contraction that burst her water and sent it shooting across the room effectively drenching the ER doctor from the neck to his waist.  He toweled off and got in position to catch.  One push later and we could see Miles's head, one more push and he was out and taking his first breath.  Unlike our other kids, Miles started to cry which is funny because, Amber always gets worried right after childbirth when she doesn't hear a cry (having been conditioned by births portrayed in film).  Miles's cry is distinctively similar to Logan's when he was born.  It is less a cry and more a longing desperate moan.  About three minutes later the on-call doctor arrived and took over.  Our babies always make an entrance. Having witnessed this miracle a few times now, I do have to say that this one in spite of the multiple false starts, was the smoothest and quickest I have seen.
 We were grateful to the on-call doctor because he was in no hurry to get measurements and let Amber hold Miles for a few minutes.
 When I first saw Miles, I knew his name would be Miles.  His face reminded me of Logan's and his hair reminded me of Sadie's.  Yes, we have another blonde on our hands, heaven help us if he is as crazy as Sadie is :).
 As for his middle name, we decided on Miles Armando Cottrell for similar reasons that we named Logan as we did. I have never had a lot of friends but I have had a few really good ones that I feel God put in my path for my benefit. They were powerful influences for good. And I am grateful every day for them blessing my life. Logan Kovacs always helped me to keep my bar high. I often think of how different my life would be had I found a different friend on my street who didn't prompt me to choose the right. I have already been able to use Logan's story to teach my Logan some important lessons about being a valiant son of God and the importance of enduring to the end. Where do I start with Armando? He took me in when I moved to a new school and has been a fierce friend ever since. He took me to EFY where I met Amber. His example will be a great resource for providing baby Miles a daily reminder of how he should strive to live.
 My wife is a rock star.  Four babies, three of which were all natural.  I know she endures great pain but in her own special way she embraces it and I admire her for it.  The result is pure happiness.
 Nothing in this world compares to holding a newborn.  I love it and I miss it.
 Miles's hair looked red at first glance but once they washed it up, it looks just like Sadie's when she was born.
 A couple of days before he was born, Amber knitted a couple of beanies for Miles.

 Miles looks around more than I remember the others doing.  When the nurse put him on the warming table he turned his head to the right and opened his eyes for a good 10 minutes.
 Miles is our second baby born at the 121st.  I think it is awesome that I have had babies born at a place mentioned in the M*A*S*H* series.  If someone had told me when I was a missionary here that I would be back in Korea and have babies born here, I probably wouldn't have believed it, though I probably would have hope it would be true.
 The day after Miles was born, the other kids came to meet their new little brother.

 Sadie sounds so cute when she says his name.
 Logan prayed Miles here.  He has wanted a little brother so badly and now he finally has one.  I remember feeling the same way about my little brother.
 Addysen is so cute, her birthday is on the 18th and all she wanted was for her little brother to be born on her birthday.  Miles came early but Addy won't hold it against him.
 I love my family!
 This is what a sleeping angel looks like.

 Here he is, strapped in and ready to go to home.
 He stayed awake for his first journey to the outside world.
Little Miles, we love you.  You have been on our minds for months now, but holding you feeding you, watching you sleep and even changing your diaper these past few days has changed us.  We are so grateful you are here and that you are ours forever.  Sweet dreams little gnome.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Break 2014 Kimcheon

 The next stop on our spring break road trip was Kimcheon.  This is one of our favorite stops.  It is a good mid-point between Seoul and Chinhae, and it was also where I spent the last 6 months of my mission.  I knew a little old lady that owned and worked an apricot orchard like the one above.  The blossoms really do look like popcorn (Sadie was quick to point that out).
 On the road we came up behind a double-decker swine transport... smelled pretty ripe.
 If you ever find your self in Kimcheon you must go to Jikjisa.  Very beautiful and not very crowded.
 Our good friends, the Woodfields joined us on this leg of the trip.  Little Eli is a blast.
 The temple was beautiful since it got a fresh coat of paint in preparation for Buddha's birthday.  Unlike the decor at Mungyeong, this was really paint.
 I love these girls!
 Sadie and Addy playing around the spring.
 Buddha's birthday is still over a month away but the lanterns were being put up.
 I have seen these paintings before but there is something special about a fresh coat of paint.

 Sadie gets candy and money from Korean Grandmas and Grandpas everywhere we go.
 Where the wild things are.

 I love how behind the damaged painting you can see the exposed clay filled walls.  This is as authentic as it gets.

 Here is what it looks like just before the new paint job.

 Logan and Mom taking a breather.

 Every time I go to the hall of a thousand Buddhas I will be reminded of David and Caitlyn's visit.  This is where we revealed the gender of the baby we all know now as Oliver.
 Baby Eleanor sure loves Logan.
 So beautiful.

I am sure we will be back soon.  Until then, we move on to Chinhae and then to Chinju.