so happy together

Friday, April 24, 2009

Is there a more perfect combination than pizza and fried chicken? Peeja Nara (Pizza Nation) delivers this pair to our apartment more often than I'd like to admit. The pizza is acceptably good. The fried chicken is excellent. And when I say fried chicken, it's the entire darn chicken...even the neck. Condiments include parmesan, hot sauce and sweet pickles with the pizza, honey-mustard sauce, sweet-spicy sauce, a salty spice packet, pickled radish, and more sweet pickles for the chicken. The Pepsi is service-uh, but beer is equally well-suited.

When we get back from our trip home in two weeks, we'll probably be ordering this meal as soon as we drag ourselves through the door.

Since I probably won't be blogging while we're state-side, I'll leave you with the overwhelming cuteness of my sons. The huge grin on Liam's face in the second picture is because he just gave Rowan a big kiss. So happy together...

be afraid. be very afraid.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This is the next generation:

Liam and some of our friends' children at our "Pagan Spring Fertility Brunch," on the day most of the western world calls "Easter."

poop, police & physical exhaustion: a night from hell

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Liam took a nap yesterday. This violates one of my unofficial rules, "Don't let Liam take a nap," but I was exhausted after two nights of Rowan waking up every two hours to nurse. There are two reasons for this rule: he wakes up in a horrible mood and then he stays up late. Both of those proved true...and, of course, I didn't get much sleep while he was napping. That's the back story that leads up to the night from hell.

9pm: Liam freaks out because I put on Baby Signing Time instead of more Open Season, which I take as a sign he's ready for bed. He wants to sleep in our bed, which I consent to because I just want to go to bed myself.

9:15: Matthew gets home from work. Liam is still awake, so is Rowan. We both try to get Liam to go to sleep, while I try to get Rowan to nurse to sleep. No luck.

10:30: Matthew decides to take a shower. Liam decides to "sleep" in his own bed. Rowan takes such a massive poop that it results in his first shower. I hold him while Matthew hoses off the entire bottom half of his body. Liam gets out of bed to watch this circus.

10:45: Rowan finally nurses to sleep.

11:00: Matthew, Liam & I all fall asleep in the big bed.

12:00: I wake up to the sound of Matthew yelling in English and [Korean]. Liam is sleeping with his head on my chest. After a few moments, I piece together that Matthew is yelling at some drunk who is trying to get into our apartment. "Not your house...[my home]...Go away...[Go! Go!]" (He also said our building and apartment numbers, hoping that would register with the guy that he was at the wrong place.) The guy is yelling, pounding on our door, ringing the doorbell, yanking on the door handle, and trying to use our keyless entry.

Matthew asks me what police telephone number is. I only know 119, which is apparently the fire department. He tries that, asking for someone who speaks English. He tries to communicate what is happening. Who knew that the word "drunk" would be useful to know? Finally, he gets someone to send a police officer to our place. Throughout the entire phone call and for a minute or two after, the guy is still trying to get in. Of course, by the time the police officers arrive he's gone.

Then Matthew is stuck trying to explain the situation to two officers who do not speak English. They call someone who supposedly does and give the phone to Matthew. He has to explain that no, HE is not drunk, some drunk Korean was trying to get into the apartment. No, he doesn't know who the man is, he didn't open the door, etc. The officers seem to understand. They will hang around for a few minutes in case he comes back. He doesn't. At this point, we're both wide awake, although the boys managed to sleep (although fitfully) through it.

The rest of the night was a blur of attempts at sleep, punctuated by Rowan waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse, and Liam tossing and turning, occasionally crying out for no known reason.

9am: Rowan & Liam are both up. Matthew & I drink coffee. It's going to be a very long day.

foreigner faux pas

We've committed a social blunder, a fairly serious one, apparently.

When we were first here, we had a couple in our adult classes: a pediatrician and his wife. There are no longer any adult classes at AP, but we now live in the same building as this couple. They're some of the nicest people we've met here and we consider them friends. They have three boys of their own, so we always enjoy hearing their parenting stories, sharing baked goods with their family, etc. JonWook (our friend's given name) has examined Liam's various cuts & scrapes several times, and we really like his gentle, caring manner.

We've always intended to take the boys to JonWook's clinic, but up to this point, we'd taken them to the pediatrician at the hospital where I had Rowan, just out of convenience. Since Rowan needs to get caught up on his vaccinations, we finally took him to our friend.

As Americans, we don't want to take advantage of a friend, especially as foreigners. From our point of view, JonWook has a business to run. If he gives us a discount, we're taking money out of his pocket. That's not the Korean way, though. Koreans WANT to do things for their friends. It's insulting if their friends do not accept...which leads up to our blunder.

When Matthew went to pay for the vaccinations, the nurse quoted him a much lower price that what Matthew thought it should be. The prices of all the vaccines (which vary in price, as they're apparently not subsidized by the government like they are in the U.S.) are clearly posted on the counter. She was trying to charge him for only one. When Matthew questioned the price, JonWook stepped in to translate. Matthew pointed to the prices of the two vaccines Rowan had received and then the two of them went back and forth about how much we should pay, each trying to explain his own side.

In the end, Matthew insisted on paying the full amount, but neither the nurse or JonWook would look him in the eyes at that point. They were both embarrassed. JonWook proceeded to take Matthew on a tour of his clinic while I fed Rowan, then offered to call a taxi for us when we left.

That afternoon at work, Matthew recounted the story for our friend, Jenny, who explained more fully the Korean perspective on the situation. She said we'd probably really insulted him. Talking about the situation after Matthew came home from work that night, we realized that he probably conveyed to JonWook that we don't consider him as good of a friend as he considers us.

So next week when we take Rowan in for another round of vaccinations, we'll have to explain better the idea of "not taking advantage of one's friends." Luckily, we can play the "foreigner card," and hopefully gloss over our foreigner faux pas.

And now, some random cuteness: Rowan proudly wearing the stickers bestowed upon him by Liam, proclaiming him to be both "Fantastic" and "Well Done."

obligatory cherry blossom post

Monday, April 13, 2009

Many foreigners in Korea have blogs and they all seem to be posting pictures of the cherry blossoms. It makes sense. After a long, cold winter, the cherry blossoms are a sign that spring is finally here. Oh, and they're gorgeous. Unfortunately, strong winds have wiped out many of the blossoms, just like they did with the changing leaves this fall. Despite this, I was able to get some decent pictures as we walked around the lake with our friend Julia and her son JeongHyun on Saturday.

Okay, this first picture has nothing to do with the blossoms. I snapped a picture using the mirror at Julia's between the wonderful lunch she prepared for us and our hike. Rowan (in the baby carrier) is just too stinkin' cute to leave this out, though.

Matthew & Liam walking in the bike path

Liam checking out a fish statue, which he proceeded to "feed" rocks.

I don't know why the Sokcho mascot looks so angry as he tells you how far it is to BeomBawi (Tiger Rock).

I tried to be subtle in snapping a picture of old people picking weeds. Wash them, toss them in some sesame oil and gochujang (red pepper paste) and you have a very inexpensive side dish.

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I interrupt my regular blogging for this unscheduled post of sentimentality:

This is for "Around the World in 80 Clicks." I was tagged by Sarah of Quest for Cuteness.

Five things I love about being a mom:

1. Seeing the world from another perspective. Everything is exciting and when they're happy, they're happy all over.

2. 100% genuine smiles, both toothless and toothy, aimed just at me.

3. Questioning authority & conventional wisdom. Why can't kids splash in puddles & play in the dirt?

4. Seeing personalities develop day by day, an intriguing blend of nurture & nature.

5. Fierce, unconditional love, the likes of which I've never experienced before.

And, since the original idea was to let moms admit to those things they don't love, here are two things I miss about being childless:

1. Completing tasks from beginning to end sequentially and in a reasonable amount of time.

2. Going places alone, whether it be running errands, going out for a drink with friends, etc.

I tag Amy of She Spilled the Milk Again and Amber from Of Bees, Bums and Butterfly Milk.

first sunday of spring

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring has come to Sokcho. For the past month or so, the Korean saying, "Spring is arriving, but Winter is jealous," has held true. I hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying this, but it does look like the warm weather is finally here to stay.

Sunday, our friend "Jenny" (her English name), one of the Korean teachers at AP and one of Liam's favorite people, took us on an outing. We first met up with her after her horse riding lesson at Yeongnang Lake. She thought, correctly, that Liam would enjoy seeing the horses.

Jenny's favorite horse, who didn't bite Liam, although it looks that way. He was actually just surprised that the tiny human stuck a finger up his nose.

From there, she took us to Geomgang-sa, a temple we had not previously visited, as it's not on a bus route. The temple itself is small, but the surroundings are beautiful. Walking up from the car, we crossed a bridge over a river with a waterfall just downstream and a very old stone walking bridge just upstream.

We were able to enjoy "pumpkin fermented rice tea" at the tea shop on the grounds. Served in an oversized, handmade tea cup and meant to be consumed with a small, wooden spoon, the sweet, icy concoction isn't what I would normally consider tea. It's thinner than a Slushie, with small, but discernible pieces of rice and sweet pumpkin. Quite delicious and refreshing, the drinks were accompanied by pieces of boiled potato.

the road to the temple:

the temple itself:

the bell tower and "rice rock" where the founding monks were given sustenance from the gods

Jenny, Liam & Matthew descending the stairs up to the temple

the bridge over the ravine

Liam checking out a cool water fountain

Liam making friends with a native Korean "jindo" dog

the ancient stone foot bridge

the tea house as seen from the access road
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