Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Little Slow...

I bought a pair of pants and a pair of jeans on clearance towards the end of my pregnancy. I thought I could wear them for post-partum and then future pregnancies. Unfortunately, they were really big and never fit right. I thought the elastic was broken on the one pair and that the other pair was for the third trimester. Then I bought these jeans for my son:

They have an adjustable elastic that you can pull and button. They even have an extender elastic to make them bigger, though I doubt we'll ever need that with Ian's body type.

I pulled out my maternity clothes and looked at the pants and jeans and realized they were designed the same way. I didn't realize it because they elastic was totally retracted in the pants and there were no internal buttons, they must have broken off. On the jeans, the elastic was sticking out of one side only and I thought it had broken.

More than two years later, I finally figure it out. I pulled out the elastic and rethreaded it through with a safety pin on the jeans and did the same on the pants as well as added two buttons. So now I have two pairs of jeans and one pair of pants.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Items on the Pain List

Calling the Erie County Election Board about my ballot issue was one of the items on the pain list. Since that was resolved and
I spent the morning deciding on the local/state races, it is ready to go apart from a signature on the envelope for living overseas. I will get the signature tomorrow and mail it at the Post Office so I can see them post mark it.

I also went through my closet and moved all the summer clothes and most of my pre-pregnancy clothes. The closet is not big enough for all of our stuff and having it in there was making it difficult for me too see what I have. Turns out, I don't have much. Considering I spent the biggest part of my pregnancy during the summer, most of my maternity clothes were summer clothes. I did figure out that the two pairs of pants I have were broken. They are supposed to have adjustable elastic like Ian's new pants, but the buttons are missing and I didn't know that. I just thought they were really big. I need to dig the elastic out and attach some buttons so I can wear them.

I also have some maternity/nursing p.j.s that were really cute, but are too big and at least one pair of the bottoms needs to have the elastic replaced. I didn't figure out they were too big until after I had cut the tags and washed them so I couldn't return them. I thought I would be bigger than I was, so I bought some things that were too big. I need to either get them fixed or pass them on to someone who is slightly bigger in the bust than I am.

Some advice on maternity clothes, if you are like me and have small hips and a small butt and do not gain weight there when you do gain a little weight when you aren't pregnant, you will probably not gain a lot there when you are pregnant. I am usually a size S in tops and I am smaller on the bottom than the top. In Old Navy, I am an XS. I ordered some medium tops and small pants and both were too large. Motherwear tends to run large as well. The PX only carries large things which leads me to another complaint: Why do stores put the maternity section in the with plus size section? It is embarrassing and confusing for both groups. The latest order I placed at Old Navy, I ordered XS pants and S tops. I hope everything fits!

I wanted to clean up the house a bit, but Ian fought hard on taking a nap and then only took a short nap. I got my Hypnobabies listening done, but that was it. Tomorrow is our cleaning day, but the less surface stuff she has to do the deeper clean she can do.

Ballot Trouble Explained

It took me a week to get up the courage to call about my ballot. I hate dealing with bureaucracy, especially over the phone, especially long distance. But, I finally called and fortunately there IS an explanation. There is a court dispute involving a would-be candidate who is not on the ballot but fighting to get on so Erie County has not printed there ballots. Therefore, overseas voters have to use the write-in ballot because the court battle is preventing the timely distribution of ballots to overseas voters.
The person I spoke with was very nice and was able to ask the person responsible immediately and get the answer. I am grateful for that.

I wish they had put a letter of explanation in my packet, though. Adding to my confusion, they included the instructions for the actual ballot that say,"You must blacken the oval completely. Do not put a cross or check mark". The write-in ballot has squares, not ovals and the instructions,"Put a cross or check..."

I need to look over some things for the local issues and then get this ballot mailed back tomorrow or Wednesday.

In other political news, Ian's Barack Obama t-shirt came today. Pictures tomorrow...

Attempt at Family Pictures

We tried to get family pictures taken today. Ian was totally uncooperative. It was also outside. It was cheap, though. I don't have high hopes for very good pictures but I am wishing for at least one good one of the three of us and one good one of Ian by himself. We will be getting family pictures taken again in March when the baby is born so I didn't want to shell out a lot of money for these. It seems that off-post you can get beautiful, magazine quality images, but they cost the same as wedding packages in the States. On post there is a cheesy, blue-background picture place. Skip that. There are other options, but I just don;t have the time or energy to research them, so that is what we did. Better than trying to use the tripod and setting the timer.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

After the Party

Ian woke up about 8am, but fell right back to sleep. Curt and I slept until 9:30am and Ian didn't get up for the day until after 11am. He fell asleep on the floor when we got home after he opened his gifts. He had a dirty diaper so I changed it, but didn't want to push my luck be getting him into his pjs.

He got off to a slow start:

Then, he got dressed in his new clothes and played with his new toys:

Yeah, he's cool:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bowling Birthday Party

We finally had Ian's bowling birthday party today. He turned two a few weeks ago, but due to scheduling, we had to have it late. I was worried about how it would go because I invited five families with a total of seven kids. Everyone said yes until this week when two families with three kids backed out for various reasons. Two of the other families were traveling so I was worried they might not make it. Fortunately, I ran into someone on Wednesday that I had meant to invite but lost her contact info so I thought that at least two kids would be there for sure. I am happy to report that all four families who were supposed to come, came. Unfortunately, my friends from Singapore could not get on the base. Singapore is on a list of countries where you have to get pre-approval in advance to have citizens from there onto the base. I did not realize that. We felt terrible. I should have made sure that it was the same procedure. Luckily, we had the goody bags in the car so we were able to give Emma her goody bag at least. Too bad the cupcakes were already in the bowling alley.

The bowling went well. Ian didn't do very well with taking turns, but they bowled a lot. We took a break for pizza and there was only 15 minutes left of the 2 hours. There weren't any other parties after ours so we could stay at the tables as long as we wanted to but had to pay for more bowling time. We decided to do the cake and see how the kids felt. Jacob threw up. they just got back from traveling so they don't know whether it is motion sickness (that he gets) or illness. He was fine afterwards, though and everyone wanted to bowl more so they played again and had lots of fun.

I was very happy with the party. Two of Ian's friends, Jacob and Trinity, will turn two on Halloween and decided to do a joint birthday party. The cake turned out fairly well for not having my friend Heather to help and for both Curt and I having terrible headaches yesterday and part of today. The pizza was decent as well. I wasn't expecting much from bowling alley pizza. I ordered 3 pizzas originally and then changed the order to 5. We had two pizzas leftover, but at least everyone could eat freely and not worry about running out. The meat pizzas went first, followed by the cheese. The veggie pizzas were left. I put cupcakes in each box with the pizzas and sent the last two families home with them. We have lots of cake and fruit leftover, but the strawberries were a big hit as well.

So the cake:

We got the idea from here.

Bowling video. You can see the chocolate icing obscuring all the bruises he currently has on his face due to his crazy stunts (just in time for Monday's picture session):

Snacking on the lanes:

The wind in his hair:

We didn't open the presents until we got home. Easier and less trauma to the other kids. After opening presents and having another snack, I've been working on this blog post and Ian has just passed out on the floor.

Apart from my failure for my Singapore friends, it was a great day. It is also fortunate that at 2 years old kids really don;t have a great understanding of parties so her little girl was not disappointed and enjoyed playing with the bubbles when she got home.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Terror on the Set!

Ian had a modeling job on Monday. The little girl he was paired with had a rough day. Ian did o.k. despite the fact that they wanted them to do things that were a little difficult for little kids. By then, they took Ian into another studio and he turned on the charm. He could have kept going, but the only things left for him were two outfits that were meant to be shot with the little girl. The little girl was done and just not having it, so they decided to bring Ian back on Friday with another little girl. As we walked out to the agent's car, we realized it had been towed with our carseat in it. So we took a cab back to the base. Luckily, that was Ian's extra carseat. It was a rough day for the agent.

That bring us to today.

Ian was a terror and totally uncooperative. Crying and laying on the floor. Part of the problem is that they are shooting winter clothes and they get too hot. This shoot was also really early and he didn't get a proper breakfast. Whatever it was today, he was not having any of it. They had to shoot two outfits and they might have gotten something that they can photo shop, but he was awful. The other little girl was wonderful today, so it wasn't a total loss. Now kids have good days and days. He usually does much better than this.

But here's the kicker: We are walking out after an exhausting attempt to get him to cooperate. He gets into the elevator and says,"Had fun."

I said,"What did you say?"

He said,"Had fun. Dat fun."

Dongdaemun Yarn!

Sarah and I went to the craft market at Dongdaemun (Dongdaemun Station, exit 8). They have a great selection of yarn from all over the world. Of course, I liked the expensive stuff. It actually isn't bad when you break it down per ball, but you have to buy in bulk, so I bought two packages of ten balls. This is not a place for strollers so luckily I got Ian into the CDC and went without him. Sarah and I spent our money quickly and went to an early lunch. We had a nice long lunch at an Indian restaurant and then I headed back to base. I had enough time left to go to the commissary to get some things for Ian's party and I still picked Ian up a little early. They should be adding more slots in Hourly Toddler so I might be able to get in more often.

Ian hasn't been to the CDC in a few months because it is so hard to get in these days. He cried a little bit when we parked the car, but I explained to him that he was going to school to play and I was going shopping. I said,"You don't like shopping. You will have fun at school." He stopped crying, walked into the classroom and didn't look back. I am happy about that. Makes me think the transition back into Montessori in January will be much easier this time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Doing the Work

When I start something new, I want the end result immediately. It is hard to believe that anything will make a difference and my fear of failure often leads me to lose interest and not "do the work" necessary to achieve the development of a new skill or goal. However, when I really set my mind to something and do the work, it is amazing how well it actually works.

I am applying this commitment to two pregnancy projects: exercise and Hypnobabies. I have been exercising almost everyday since my earlier exercise goals post. I am naturally thin without working out, so the motivation to do it is not that strong. It is hard to believe that it will make a difference. I do need to workout for stress reduction and strengthening, though. It is also good for better fetal positioning and I do not want another positioning problem that prevents a vaginal delivery. I need to build my endurance and after this delivery, I need to keep exercising so I can get into good shape instead of thin, yet, flabby. I have decided that there are enough benefits to exercise that I just need to do it. I am a little afraid that it won;t make a difference, that I will have another breech baby or transverse or posterior or something anyway because it happened last time, but I am exercising anyway because it has definite benefits and will give me the best chance for good positioning. The mental stuff will be dealt with by Hypnobabies.

Due to my husband's crazy travel schedule, we were not able to do the Hypnobirthing class here in Seoul. Fortunately, I found the Hypnobabies homestudy course which has two advantages over Hypnobirthing: we can do it on our own time in our own home and it is designed so that it can be used without the birth partner. Since I am going back to the States for the last few months of my pregnancy, I need something I can do by myself, especially in the event that I go early and Curt doesn't get back in time.

Reading testimonials, it seems that these programs work better for some than others. The difference: doing the work and choosing to use it during the birthing. Those who followed the program as instructed and practiced daily as instructed, had a lot more success than those who didn't. Though, it seems that even those who didn't follow it exactly or practice as much as they should have, did benefit from it. Also, the people who used the scripts during birthing had a lot more success than those who didn't. Seems simple enough, but not everyone chooses to use it or use it the whole time. Sometimes something unexpected happens which throws the mom off and she doesn't let the program get her back on track (or doesn't have it with her).

So, I will choose to commit to this program, to do the work, to use it and expect the best.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Little Deflated

Ian's birthday party is Saturday. I invited 5 little kids + 2 siblings. Everyone said they were coming, but in the last few days, 2 families have had issues come up where they can't come. So that is 3 kids definitely not coming. Two other families are traveling and get back on Friday so I am afraid they might not come, even though they said they were coming. Only one family is coming for sure. Ian doesn't know the difference, but I feel lame. Things happen, but i wish they weren't happening for his party.

In my last minute panic I was thinking of inviting some other kids, but I don't want people to think they are being invited just for gifts. Ian doesn't care about gifts, yet. With what my mom sent that will be more than enough. When you book a party, 10 kids are covered, so whether you have 1 kid or 10 kids, it doesn't matter. So I would like some other kids to enjoy it and have cake. Maybe at playgroup I will invite another kid or two and stress no gifts.

This also makes it difficult with the food order. Three pizzas are ordered so far. There are supposed to be a few more adults coming by so I want to have enough. the pizza there isn't that great, though, so I don't want too much. Maybe I will order two more veggie pizzas and change the cheese pizzas to meat since there will be more adults. Maybe. Ugh!

One good thing is that my Hypnobabies Home Study Course arrived. Curt called to tell me so I can go pick it up if I want to. He knows I love mail.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

AAAACKKK! Halloween is Coming!

I need to figure out what Ian is going to be for Halloween. His first Halloween he was a Vampire Monkey. I took the cape from a vampire costume and put it on a monkey costume and we went to the Breastfeeding Support Group Halloween Party.

Last year, he wore a traditional outfit from Qatar that my friend Shelly got him. He carried around some camels. They love camel racing in Qatar. I didn't put a lot of thought into that costume, but it just worked out. We went to the party at Breastfeeding Support Group and a Playgroup party.

This year, I need to figure out a costume. The PX has a very small selection so I need to make something or order something quick. He is still at the age where he doesn't care. He doesn't know characters other than Sesame Street and Signing Time. He likes Elmo, but I am not going to make him Elmo for Halloween. It would be fun to do something political. Maybe I could dress up him like Sarah Palin. That would be funny! Wrong, but funny. He doesn't mind getting makeup on... I guess the key pieces are the glasses, the lipstick, heels and maybe some hair piece. Or maybe not so literal and make him a pig in lipstick? I am not calling her a pig in lipstick just making fun of that reference that has been tossed around.

Any suggestions?

Ode to Pediped Flex! Sandals

Update on May 3, 2009: His sandals still fit! I will get at least part of the summer, if not the whole summer out of them because they are still in great shape.

Original review:

Yes, I am indeed writing another (children's) shoe post. I do love children's shoes (I don't buy lots of shoes for myself, though).

Ian has worn his Pediped Flex! sandals every day since they arrived in early May. He loves them so much that he refuses to wear regular shoes. I figure he has another few weeks and then he'll need to transition to regular shoes. They have been well-worn by a rough and tumble boy for rough and tumble play. They've gotten wet and are still looking good. The toes are a little scuffed, but you could probably polish them up a bit if you cared to do so. I have not taken any special care of them and they are still in great shape. Well-worth the cost.

I think a good pair of brown leather sandals are the perfect summer shoe for boys. They are are dressy enough for dressier events and tough enough for everyday play. Brown goes with just about everything. The flexible sole is comfortable and durable and the leather upper protects the toes and looks great. What more can you ask for in kids sandals?

I have a cute pair of Pediped camo tennis shoes for Ian to wear next. They are still a little big on him, but will be adorable in a month or two.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Speaking of Pain....

I've made a list, a list of pan and dread. Things I need to do that I dread doing like trying to fix my computer. I dread it because I don't know how to do it, where to take it and probably won't be able to communicate with the people when I am trying to get it fixed. Things that pain me to do because I shouldn't have to do them, like contacting the board of elections about my missing ballot.

Curt did submit our moving claim, but it has not been resolved. The indoor composter had a piece break off so we probably need to clean it out and send it back to be fixed while it is still under warranty. I need to submit the claim to the insurance company for going to the Korean doctor. I don't know how to do it or how much they will pay for it. I need to learn how to use my flash on my camera before Ian's birthday party on Saturday. I need to start packing. I need to take the stroller apart and wash it. We opened a bank account in Ohio so we could get something notorized and the notary guy from Kinkos was out and we had to get it done. We put $50 in the account. We just got a notice that they have been charging a $10, inactive account fee for 3 months. We got the account closed but we have to call someone else to try to get the charges reversed. Pain. Torture. Money down the toilet. Living overseas costs so much money to deal with things that would be much easier in the States.

So, I've made a list and I am trying to get a few things off every day.

Bye, Bye Bumbleride

It has tortured me for months, but it is finally over. I ordered a Bumbleride Indie stroller in March from arunningstroller.com. It never came. Their policy is 8 weeks for APO. They didn't have any in stock when I e-mailed them about the missing stroller but were supposed to get some in towards the end of May. That date came and went and I never heard whether they shipped it or not. I sent an e-mail which they didn't answer. I sent another and they said they still hadn't received the stroller in stock to send out. Finally, on June 30, I called because I still hadn't heard anything from them and I requested a refund. they said they would process it. I asked in an e-mail when I could expect the refund and they said 1-2 business days. On July 10, I e-mailed to say I hadn't received it, yet and they never responded. Finally, towards the end of July, I called the credit card company. They give the company 30 days from the date the refund is promised to deliver before they take it. Since, it wasn't quite 30 days, I had to wait. I called back in mid-August and the credit card company disputes section processed the refund. AFTER, they processed the refund, arunningstroller.com contacted me and said they did process the refund, but it takes two billing cycles.

If they had just responded to e-mails and told me that it would take 2 billing cycles, rather than 2 business days, I would have been fine. Instead, it has tortured me and I feel like they were trying to make me forget about $447 (stroller + shipping).

Today, I completed the final piece of this puzzle and e-mailed Bumbleride customer service. It is not their fault, but just to let them know about the crappy customer service from one of their authorized retailers. Finally, I erased "Bumbleride stroller" off the dry erase board.

Now that I am going back to the States, I will be able to order using UPS so I shouldn't have any trouble. What would be even better would be to try to see it, or other strollers in person before I buy. Still debating a double stroller purchase...

Friday, September 19, 2008

No Ballot in My Absentee Voting Packet

I just received my absentee voting packet today. It contained the postage paid return envelope, the ballot envelope, instructions to mark the ballot asap, a write-in ballot, the referendum explanation, but guess what? No ballot! I am pissed! I am out of minutes on my calling card so I will have to wait until Tuesday to call. Curt still hasn't received anything from Texas and we mailed his earlier.

Why does everything have to be so hard?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I'm not much of a singer. In second grade, they picked kids for a school choir and I wasn't chosen. I didn't sing out loud, even by myself until my junior year of high school when I had to sing to audition for a theatre group. I got in, but I didn't sing in the group.

When I was pregnant with Ian, I took a few singing lessons at Mercyhurst College from an elderly nun named Sister Helen Jean. She was incredibly gifted at explaining abstract concepts in concrete terms, like how to visualize in order to get a better sound. She really helped me. I wasn't trying to be an opera quality singer, like Mercyhurst specializes in, I just wanted to be able to sing to my baby without embarrassment.

Little did I know that every Mommy & Me activity from swimming to gymnastics would involve parental singing. Little kids don't sing so if the parents don't help out the teacher, the teacher is on her own. Many parents are shy about singing, but since I had my lessons, I try to sing loudly so others feel comfortable joining in. I do this in yoga as well with chanting, because many people are uncomfortable with it.

What is wonderful about singing to Ian is that he says"Yay!" after I sing a song he likes. What appreciation!

I do want him to have music in his life. I do not play any instruments or sing very well and I really think I am missing out. I wish we were the family that gets the guitar out after dinner and sings, but Curt doesn't play any instruments either. Maybe guitar is another hobby I can take up someday...

Cooking Progress

I've been doing much better with cooking dinner. The only problem is that my husband keeps threatening to go on extreme diets, like vegan, but with more restrictions. This is usually proceeded by eating a big pile of ribs (that he makes). I want to be supportive, but I cannot (and have no desire to) eat an extreme diet since I am pregnant. Also, he doesn't often get home on time, which I could use as an excuse not to cook, but instead choose to be happy that at least he has something good to microwave when he comes home and Ian and I eat on time.

When I make something healthy like Eggplant and Cauliflower Curry with Brown Rice, he will eat it once, maybe twice, but the rest goes to waste. When I make some more deliciously unhealthy like enchiladas, the pan gets scraped clean. What would inspire you more? I really don't cook anything that is super unhealthy. I don't deep fry or anything like that, but the fat content is higher than the plain chicken breast and broccoli or restricted vegan diets that he wants to go on. There is no moderation. It is a slab of ribs or raw foods! He is driving me crazy!

So today I am making pork chops, rice and green beans. I did dip the pork chops in egg and bread crumbs, but they are topped with spicy mustard and baked over apples, not fried. The green beans are fresh and will be steamed and then there is the rice.

I've also decided to track my fruit and vegetable in-take in a little notebook to remind myself to eat plenty of both. Fruit isn't a problem, but I could definitely eat more vegetables. I think the key is buying and preparing them in advance to be eaten or cooked so it is easy to do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Riding in the Park

Sunday we took Ian took to one of the parks by the Han river. They are all called Hangang Park (Han River Park). He practiced riding his bike. He has a Strider Balance Bike. Balance bikes do not have pedals or training wheels. The theory is that training wheels do not teach balance. With the balance bike, kids teach themselves to balance and then it is easier to move to a regular bike with pedals and without training wheels. We are trying to get him out more to practice. It is still pretty hot, but not as miserable as before. You can see in the first part of the video that he is standing up and walking the bike, but the second part, he sits and pushes and does well with the balance. He still has a long way to go before he is ready to try a regular bike, but it is fun to watch him. Plus, the bike only weighs 7 lbs (if I remember correctly) so it is nice and light.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kegel Challenge

I've been exercising almost every day with my prenatal exercise dvds. They all have Kegel sections, but I really don't do any Kegels other than the ones on the dvds. The recommendations I've seen vary from 50 to 300 per day. I am going to try to do 100 per day and then work up. Kegels are great for all women to do, they help prepare you for childbirth and prevent urinary and sexual disfunction. I didn't do many Kegels last time. That is another difference with this pregnancy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Things to Work on with Ian

1. Alphabet. He can sing the alphabet and remember the letters in sequence, but I don't think he can recognize individual letters. We are watching the Signing Time ABC Songs DVD. Curt picket up the Leap Frog Word Whammer Fridge Phonics Set. There is one that just has a spot for one letter, not words, but he could only find that in the Spanish version. This one will last longer anyway. That will be a birthday present. (He isn't having his party until the 27th).

2. Names. Today, he finally answered me when I asked,"What is your name?" He will point to his picture and say his name, but he isn't answering. He will answer when I ask,"What is Daddy's name?" For some reason, Curt's name sticks in his head. He will also answer when I ask,"What is the dog's name?" I want him to be able to say his full name, Curt's full name and my full name.

3. Putting on and taking off clothes. Since he is going back to Montessori, I know they will want him to be able to do these things. I don't really give him the chance, so we are going to start trying a bit.

4. Counting Objects. He can recite counting to ten but I don't think he understands what it means, yet. I do think he knows the differences between one, two and maybe three objects. I tell him that he can take two cars with him whenever we leave the house. He knows when he only has one. He had three cars one time and I asked him how many he had. He said,"Three" until I asked how many he was supposed to have and he said,"Two" and then tried to say he had two cars.

5. Riding his balance bike. His bike is a birthday gift but I ordered it early because I wanted to have it on time. It came within a week and so we gave it to him early. Unfortunately, that was during the height of summer and my nausea so he hasn't been outside with it a lot. He does ride it a bit inside, but he needs to practice outside in order to really learn to glide on it. One great thing about our American neighbors is that they are mostly military and the base requires helmets on the kids so all the military kids around here wear helmets. Ian likes his helmet as a result and will put it on around the house when he rides his bike because he has seen the other kids doing it.

I think that this will be a task will be a great opportunity for father-son bonding for Curt. If they can get outside after work for a little bit each day, I think he will get the hang of it quickly.

I did not add potty training to this list, though I may try to ask him if he wants to sit on the potty more often, but it seems like people who start earlier have to work at it longer and in the end, the may go through fewer diapers and fully potty train a little earlier than those who wait, but the work involved is too much of a pain for such a little reward, especially when you hear of potty training in a day programs for kids over 2.5 years old. If you can get to the same point in a day at 2.5 that you would get to in a year if you start at 18 months, that sounds good to me. The theory is that by 2.5, kids have the physical ability to tell when they have to go and hold it until they get to the potty and they have enough verbal skills to understand that they need to communicate about the potty.

I have a friend who started at 18 months. Her son is now almost 2.5 and still has accidents, though he is out of diapers. He wears pull ups and she is trying to transition him to underwear. I think he will be fully potty trained in a few months and he is mostly potty trained and was potty trained well before Ian will be, but she really puts a lot of effort into it. I am not criticizing her, but for me it is not worth it.

The pediatrician told me I should try to potty train Ian before the baby comes, but he will only be 2.5 when the baby comes. I am just not going to worry about it or push too hard because we can't be consistent with all the traveling we are going to have to do and after I have the baby, I do not want to be concentrating on potty training. I figure that after we get back to Korea, we can start working on it more.

Of course, if he displays interest, we will go with it. Yesterday, when he was in the tub, he asked to pee on the potty. He probably peed in the tub before he said that, but I put him on the potty anyway. Also, at the Montessori, many of the other kids will be going to the potty and the teacher said that kids often potty train themselves by watching other kids. Of course, if that happens, I will be thrilled, but again, I am not going to desperately try to get this done before the baby.

Foiled! (By Myself and Others)

I had the babysitter come today so I could go to yoga to start using the 24 classes I need to use by the time we leave for Christmas. I had her come early to give me plenty of time to get there, but she was early on top of that, so I had lots of time. She took Ian out to the playground and I made my escape. I stopped at Starbucks on the base for a green tea and to kill some time. I made some lists and hung out and then made my way to yoga. I would still get there well before class started. I was almost there, but I turned onto the highway instead of the bridge! I have no idea why. I got turned around while trying to back track and then I got turned around again. I finally made it only to discover that the studio is closed this weekend. I should have guessed that because Chuseok is coming up. Annoying!

So I headed back to base to hit the commissary and I missed my turn on the way back. Again, I had ti turn around a few times to get back on track. I did my commissary run and got home a lot earlier than expected. I can't find Ian and the babysitter. I called, but no answer. I wonder where she took him. I am going to have to make it clear that I don't want to him to go anywhere besides the playground by the building and someone else's apartment in these buildings. It is 11:30am and I said I'd be back by 1:30pm so I am not too worried, yet, but it is a bit disturbing.

Awesome Montessori News!

Since we are going back to Erie for Christmas and the baby, Curt realized we will probably be in Erie through the beginning of May, which is almost the entire spring semester of Montessori. I called and they said that they will probably have kids transitioning to the next classroom after Christmas so Ian could have a spot. I mailed in my paperwork and deposit right away. I am a little worried because I mailed it right before the biggest Korean holiday. Hopefully, it will get there alright. If it doesn't arrive within 2 weeks, I will ask my mom to send in a deposit.

We are going to do the 3 day toddler program. Ian did really well at the school last year so I am hoping that he transitions back in smoothly. It is also awesome because it is affordable. It is less than 1/5 the price of 3 day tuition at the Montessori in Seoul. We can't afford it in Seoul unless the government pays. I think they will only pay for Kindergarten and up, though. I am going to try to get the details in writing on what they will pay for so we have options for next fall. He will be old enough for the base preschool that is offered through the Chaplain's office. People seem to like it. I would rather have him in Montessori, but you have to go to what is affordable and available. I can't pay $10,000 a year for preschool. I don't think that most of the people going are paying for it themselves, either. The business or government that brought them here pays in many cases.

The Embassy people get $15,000 a year for tuition because that is what the base school charges the Embassy to send the students there. So, they can choose to go on base or to a private foreign school. We are not eligible to use base schools in the States, so I bet they charge our agency as well. I think the same would apply to us, but the Embassy pays for preschool and I don't think that our agency will.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ch'usok, Korean Thanksgiving Gift

We just received this as a Ch'usok gift from a Korean military officer who works with Curt.

Injured at the Hospital!

At playgroup today, I heard that I might have a difficult time scheduling my appointment with Radiology for my sonogram. They suggested I go in person and schedule it to avoid language difficulties. People don't seem to answer the phone on this Post and when they do, they often hang up on you. Annoying!

So, after playgroup ended at 11:30, I drove to Apgujeong to pickup the new yoga schedule so I can start going back. (I have 24 classes to use by December 17). By the time we got back to the back it was almost 12:30, so we went for lunch. 12:00-1:00pm is usually the lunch hour, anyway. So, after lunch, I went to the hospital and scheduled my sonogram. It was easy. The lady was both quick and polite. It was shocking and a happy surprise! As I was driving home, I remembered that Ian had his 2 year old check up today! I rushed back to the hospital and was 25 minutes late for my appointment (I usually wait for over an hour to be seen, but still). As we are standing at the reception desk to see if we can still get in, Ian whacks his face into the desk and cuts his face near his eye. He was flirting with a little girl and turned away from her ad right into the desk!

Fortunately, the doctor agreed to see us and even took care of his cut. She had her nurse go to the ER to get Dermabond (superglue for wounds). She cleaned him up and glued him up. That was really awesome because she could have just sent us to the ER where we probably would have waited for hours.

The bandaid was put near his wound, but not over it because of the Dermabond. You can see the little cut.

Also, while he was in the doctors office, he bonked the top of his head on the doctor's desk! Poor guy. Poor me.

Locked In!

I went into the laundry room to throw a load in and when I tried to leave, I realized that Ian had locked me in. There is a window between the kitchen and the laundry room, but it was locked and I think it only tilts anyway. After unsuccessfully trying to get Ian to unlock it for about 15 minutes, I started yelling,"Help!" and "Security!" out the window. The Koreans did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Finally, a young boy came by with his dog. He looked American so I called down,"Do you speak English?" He said,"Yes." So I told him the situation and asked him to get security up here to let me out. He went to the security people who gave him the run around and he finally talked to someone who said he couldn't help because he didn't have the key. The doors have electronic locks and can be opened by codes as well. But the security guy didn't come to me to ask the code, he just walked away from the boy. I asked the boy to get his mom, which he did. I told his mother the code and she rescued me!

I am really angry about the lack of service in this apartment complex. They should have come to try to help. My only other option was to try to break the window. I had no cell phone. Curt is out of town.

The door to the laundry room has a knob to lock it from the outside and you can open it with a key from the inside. I have no idea where the keys are. I definitely need to track those down.

I have to add that no F bombs were dropped during this incident, a difficult task I assure you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Review: The Perfect Pregnancy Workout vol. 1 with Karyne Steben

The Perfect Pregnancy Workout, Vol. 1 with Karyne Steben is a very challenging toning workout. There is a 40 minute workout with modifications for beginners and advanced exercisers. I alternated between beginner and advanced moves depending on my comfort level. I found that even the beginner level was challenging and gave me a good workout. There is a separate instructional section that breaks down how to properly do the exercises safely. I like this, because even though this information is important, it is nice to have the workout move quickly after you know that. She does give tips throughout as well. I will definitely add this into my workout rotation.

Easy One Pot Meals: Golden Chicken & Autumn Vegetables

So retro, they almost make me want to have a Tupperware party. I found this recipe on the back of a Swanson's chicken broth container. It is much healthier--no cream of x soup involved, though I have been known to make those meals recently as well.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of chicken broth
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cups fresh whole green beans

1. Heat oil in 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it is well-browned on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Increase heat to high. Stir broth, garlic, rosemary. thyme, potatoes and green beans into skillet. Heat to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Return chicken to skillet and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender.

4. Season to taste.

Variation: Herbed Chicken Dijon with Wine: Add 1/4 cup white wine, 1 ts. lemon juice and 2 tbsp of Dijon mustard with broth. Substitute Yukon Gold for sweet potatoes.

This recipe is so easy and obvious it is almost not a recipe. The sample variation shows how easy it is to vary the flavor with just a few simple changes. I like the one pot aspect. It is a very easy one-step method to cook sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes add sweetness to the meal which is nicely balance with the herbs. I don't know why, but having the sweet potatoes and green beans in the same pot reduces the psychological barrier to cooking them. I always buy fresh vegetables, but sometimes wait too long to cook them. I am getting much better about that and trying to think about what I will use it for as I put it in my cart.

This is a complete meal, but since we are in Korea, I am obligated to remind everyone that you can always as rice as a side to this dish! A green salad would be nice and fresh as well.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Diving Board with Mama

It might look like I am encouraging him, but I am actually trying to hold him back so he waits for my count.

Sliding with Daddy

Review: Denise Austin's Fit & Firm Pregnancy

Denise Austin's Fit & Firm Pregnancy includes: Breathing and Core Awareness (5 minutes); Cardio Workout (20 minutes); 1st & 2nd Trimester Toning (20 minutes); 3rd Trimester Toning (20 minutes); Bounce Back Fast Post Natal Workout (10 minutes).

I did the first three sections since I am in the second trimester (yay!). The breathing and Core Awareness segment covers kegels and your abdominals. It is a good reminder of things to do throughout the day.

The Cardio Workout section did get my heart rate elevated, but it is a lower impact workout that Fit Mama or Erin O'Brien's Prenatal Fitness Fix. If you aren't used to working out or having a lower energy day, this is a good cardio workout. Otherwise, you might want to pep it up, add some hops to raise the impact (if your doctor feels you can do it and you follow the exertion guidelines).

The 1st & 2nd Trimester Toning section was great. I really liked it. You can just consider the Cardio section to be a long warm up for it. I like to have variety in my dvd workouts and I will definitely add this dvd to my rotation.

Next up, The Perfect Pregnancy Workout with Karyne Steben.

Hooptie to the Rescue!

Jerry, Curt's awesome and resourceful co-worker bought a car for $350 to use while he waited for his car to arrive. His car arrived and he sold the hooptie to us! Curt will use this car to drive to work and back. It will save Ian and I from having to get up early to drive him in and save us one complete roundtrip of driving. I have been using the extra time to work out in the morning and get dinner ready in the evening. It has been awesome. Curt is going to try to go to an exercise class on the base before he comes home or before he starts work. That would be great for him. I wish we were closer to public transportation, but public transportation adds an hour to Curt's already long day and will just not work for us. I really didn't want to spend a lot on a car. $350 is definitely the right price. Knock on wood it will run for awhile!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Two Years of Ian

I became friends with my big belly over the course of Ian's growth. I loved how it looked. I loved being pregnant (after the horrible nausea part ended). We knew the sex very early and had his full name decided before he was born. But we didn't know him. We were not prepared to meet him. You can't be. All the hopes and expectations are blown away by the perfect creation with his own opinions and personality. It is amazing. An ordinary miracle. Ordinary because it happens so often, yet miraculous to everyone, every time. I don't think anything tops the first time, because you are so clueless with the first one, but subsequent babies, like the one currently under construction in my uterus, are still miraculous. Ian is 2 years old today.

In his second year of life, he learned to talk (and swear--see bad parent post here) and sing, to walk the balance beam, to jump off the diving board, to count some and say some letters, to throw a ball and much more! He does something new everyday. Today, he willingly lay on his back in the water (why else, to impress a girl). He helps--even when we don't want him to--by turning the a/c on and off, the dishwasher on and off, closing doors, finding (and losing) cell phones, keys, etc., presses buttons on the elevator, and walks the dog (with supervision). He has an incredible sense of direction (must be recessive genes), a short temper, and a curious mind. He wants to know more. He loves to learn vocabulary rather than listen to stories. He's tried peanut butter and strawberries, two of the last of the delayed foods. He has traveled to Jamaica, Hawaii and he now lives in Korea. Three world regions in two years, not bad!

Korea doesn't have many foreigners so he is fascinating to the locals. They love his blue eyes and take pictures of him where ever he goes. He has even gotten a few modeling gigs for catalog shoots. At the most recent one, he started following directions instead of just taking bribes. They asked him to kiss the little girl next to him and he did. Everyone clapped and asked him to do it again and again. The third time he got overexcited, stood up, took the little girls head in his hand like that famous kiss photo --and she fell down. He needs to work on his moves, as he should since he is only 2!

Today marked our two year anniversary as a breastfeeding pair. I think my milk went away a few weeks ago, but he still likes to nurse. I think he will wean before the baby comes. Some kids keep nursing throughout. If that is the case, it will at least be easier to cut him down to once or twice a day. I'm proud that we got to two years and overcame the early difficulties. Nursing has been an incredibly powerful experience.

Last year, Ian had a wonderful family birthday party followed by a playgroup birthday party. He fell asleep after both birthday lunches and missed his cake. He prefered pesto green beans to cake at that point anyway. Today, his sweet tooth (o.k. chocolate addiction) has developed but he still loves vegetables.

This year, we are going to have a belated bowling/pizza birthday party with a few toddler friends. With Curt's crazy schedule we couldn't get anything planned on time. So September 27 will be his big celebration. We had a great day at the pool today, but will do all the cake and singing on the 27. Today, we spent the day at the pool, Ian's favorite place.

By this time next year, we will be a family of 4 plus dog.

I Love You, Amazon!

Just received my Amazon order which I placed on August 29. Still haven't received the drugstore.com order from July 31, butthat is another story. I order The Business of Being Born and three prenatal fitness dvds. I'll review them as I try them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Namdaemun, Now This is Shopping!

I went to Namdaemun with friends, Sharon and Hrwrni. We all had our kids, but Sharon has a driver which made things easier. We went through one children's mall and one toy store. We all agreed it would be much more fun to come back without the kids. I bought a little outfit for Ian for 25,000 won ($25). That was not a bargain, but it was cute and I wanted something a little funky for a birthday outfit.
Then, I bought a pair of jeans for 5,000 won ($5) and two long sleeved t-shirts for $3,000 ($3) won each. Now those are the kind of bargains I am talking about!

I brought the stroller because I can't carry Ian anymore and he can't be trusted to stay right with me. Namdaemun is not stroller friendly. Leave the kids if you can.

Ian seems to be a size 5 in Korean sizes. He is a 2T/3T in US sizes. 2T fits right now, but I've bought some 3T things that I will just roll up the legs and hopefully they will last through the spring that way. One of the shirts I bought was a 7, but it was smaller like the 5 in the other style of the same brand shirt. Maybe it was a girls shirts, but it was unisex enough to buy. Sizes here seem even more random than in the US, so just use it as a guide. I plan to take a pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt that fit Ian or are a little big to use to compare to the things I buy for him next time. Also, I've heard that people have found maternity clothes there so maybe we can check those out last time.

My friends both have daughters so I had fun looking at all the cool/sweet dresses and hats for them. Leggings are really big this year, they even have leggings for boys that go with shorts, but I think that is a little too much, even for me. We'll see.

To get there by metro take Line 4 to Hoehyeon Station, Exit 4. Walk straight out of the exit make a right turn at the first alley way.Almost immediately you will find several bldgs in a row to your left that carry lots of children's clothes. Each building is divided into smaller stalls, carrying different styles of clothes, and some are dedicated just to "formal" clothes, including button-up shirts for boys, tuxedos, suits, etc., along with girls' dresses.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Balanced Diet

We went on base to run a few errands, including setting up Ian's bowling alley birthday party. We aren't doing it until the end of September, but it should be fun. Whenever we go on the base, Ian says,"I need fries." When we pick up lunch on base we usually goto Burger King. He loves it. It is not the healthiest option so we don't do it all the time, but he mentions it all the time. Today, I told him we had to eat lunch at home. He had pasta with meat, tomatoes and beans with sides of pineapple and zucchini. He went from asking for fries to asking for a second helping of zucchini. He loves vegetables. Good to know the fries aren't ruining his palate.

Speaking of nutrition, when you have a party at the bowling alley, it is a pizza party. You buy the pizzas and soda from the bowling alley. I ordered the pizza (not that it is particularly healthy), but just requested water because I think 2 years old is way too young for soda. I'll probably bring juice and milk as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Eggplant and Cauliflower Curry

Trying this recipe tonight for Eggplant and Cauliflower Curry from the Post Punk Kitchen.

It smells great so far! I had cilantro, potatoes and cauliflower that needed to be used. We just bought an eggplant. I love eggplant but we often forget about it until it is too late.

Recipe Doctor

My mom has definitely developed a rotation of things that she makes. It is not ordered on specific days or anything, but she has past the point where she likes to cook and so she makes things that are tried, true and easy. In my attempt to prepare dinner more often, I have started gathering some of these recipes. They all started out as precise recipes from somewhere, probably Good housekeeping magazine or one of the compilation cookbooks that military wives always put together, but now they have evolved and are very fluid. There are two that she makes and I like the combination of the two (which she does if she is missing ingredients for one or the other) best:

Chili Poco Loco
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 envelope chili seasoning mix )or taco or make your own)
1 16 oz can of corn
1 15 oz. can of chili + beans
1 small can tomato paste (if no paste use enough tomato something)
1 can refrigerator biscuits-I often don't bother with the biscuits
1 cup shredded cheese-cheddar or whatever
corn meal

1. Brown beef + onions, drain grease

2. Add chili + beans, corn, seasonings, + tomato paste

3. Simmer while preparing biscuits--I usually don;t simmer. I just mix everything in the casserole and let it bake a little longer.

4. Cut biscuits in half. Roll in corn meal and parsley.

5. Spoon meat mixture into baking dish.

6. Sprinkle half the cheese on meat mixture-if you didn't simmer the meat mixture, pop in oven so it heats through before putting biscuits on

7. Arrange biscuits on top. Sprinkle remaining cheese.

8. Bake at 375 until biscuits are brown.

Tamale Pie

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 cup shredded jack cheese
1 4.5 oz can of black olives
3 cups water
1 cup corn meal
1 tsp salt

I add: 1 can of corn
1 can of any kind of beans (black, pinto, etc.)

1. Cook ground meat and onion until browned, drain.

2. Stir in tomatoes with liquid (if tomatoes, I chop them) seasoning mix, cheese, olives, corn and beans. Spoon into baking dish.

3. In 2 quart pan cook water, crn meal and salt stirring constantly until mixture is very thick.

4. Pour cornmeal mixture over meat mixture.

5. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

I was trying to make Chili Poco Loco with the polenta topping from the Tamale Pie, but I mixed up the recipes and added a 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes instead of the tomato paste because I was looking at the other recipe. It really didn't matter, though.

You can tell by her notes that she is a very flexible cook and can naturally balance things. I cook the same way. Curt went to culinary school as a hobby and is much more precise. If we are missing an ingredient for something he wants to make he gets a little flustered. I can always find an acceptable substitute or change of plans.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bad Parent: WTF

It was bound to happen and now that it has, I know exactly who to blame: the parents. Ian's parents, that is, Curt and I. I will even say it is more my fault than Curt's. What happened?

Toddler swearing.

All of a sudden, WTF has become Ian's favorite phrase (he does not abbreviate). Whenever he gets frustrated, which is often because he's always into something, he now yells,"WTF".

We knew we needed to quit, but deployment and multiple international moves are not conducive to quitting. Pregnant friends out there, quit now. Quit before the baby is born. it will be easier than trying to quit later.

So, we do we do about potty mouth from an almost 2 year old?

According to Elizabeth Pantley in The No-Cry Discipline Solution:

1. Don't laugh.
2. Don't get angry.
3. Don't express shock or offense.

Any of the first 3 reactions give the words more power and will result in more use, especially from a toddler.

4. Ignore the first offense (he's well past the first offense)
5. Teach your child what is socially inappropriate. Ian doesn't really have a concept of appropriateness. I think he is too young for this right now.
6. Keep an eye on siblings, friends, and other adults (including yourself). We need to stop swearing. Hearing a child less than two say,"WTF" for 20 minutes in a row as he did the other day when I was putting him down for his nap has worked in getting us to stop cold turkey. Yikes!
7. Monitor TV shows and movies. AFN cuts the F-bomb out of shows and movies. Can't really blame tv for this one.

I am also working with him on asking for help, both verbally and through sign. Part of the swearing is language experimentation. The F-Bomb is such a satisfying word to say. It has a powerful hard sound that really helps to release frustration which is why so many people over-use it. I need to teach him some socially appropriate, yet, fun to say words and then use them instead of the F word so hopefully he will make the switch.

Any suggestions?

Please, pregnant friends, don't find yourself in this bad parent situation that I am in. Quit now.

On the plus side, he is using "please" and "thanks" a lot more lately. A little redemption for the bad parent!