Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Diversity on Post

One of the best things about the military is the diversity. There is a greater minority representation than the general population as well as many inter-racial families. It is a good way for kids to grow up.

Maybe We Don't Need a New TV...

My husband made that shocking statement. We have a small (I think 20") flat panel tv coming and I thought Curt would want to get a new, big tv. I guess I'll see once our small tv arrives if he will really be satisfied with that. There are so many other gadgets to buy in Korea, like GPS and rear view back up cameras, that it would be nice to save the money and stick with the small tv.

Baby Dolls for Boys

At the playgroup the other day, Ian was playing with baby dolls. He has stuffed animals, but no baby dolls so I just ordered one for him. It is a Corolle Tidoo Baby Doll that is not only machine washable, but can go in the tub. It is a boy baby with boy clothes. I figure it is good for him to develop his nuturing/fathering skills!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lunch is Almost a Bust

After being in the hotel for more than three weeks, the food is becoming unbearable. I went to the places in and around the hotel, but just couldn't order anything. It is quite a hike to get food off-post, not a bad walk, but far enough that I didn't want to do it in the cold, drizzling rain. Finally, after getting the paperwork from the lending closet for dishes, sheets, towels, etc., I bought two Simply Asia microwave noodle dishes: Peanut for me and Soy Ginger for Ian. The noodles were good, much better than the other microwave option: Single Serve Hamburger Helper. Now Ian is napping and I am going to watch a movie. Hope it clears up so we can walk over to see Roxxy.

Dinner Time

My family always ate dinner together when I was growing up. I didn't think it was a big deal then, but now that I have my own family, I see the importance of eating together. Ian used to be great when we went out, but recently, eating out has become an ordeal. He wants to run away or he makes such a big mess. Since we are in the hotel, we don;t have much of a choice, but lately we've been ordering take-out and eating in the room. We put a towel over a chair for Ian and the three of us eat at the little table in the room. He still makes a mess, but we don't have to worry about him running away and it is so much fun. Simple, fun.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter at the Hotel

The DHL held an Easter egg hunt today in the lobby. It is usually outside, but due to the rain, it was indoors.
They had a separate area for kids under 4. The eggs were mostly out in the open and there were so many kids that some kids didn't get any. Each child was only supposed to take two, but not everyone followed the rules and there weren't quite enough eggs. Ian got one. The prize was a small, blue bunny. Curt's co-worker and family were there and he told his 4 year old to the older kids hunt because none of their kids got any eggs. She brought back 6 to share with her 2 year old brothers. The prizes for the little kids did not include candy, which was nice.

Ian was more interested in going through the revolving door than the hunt, but we were still proud that he found an egg.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Furniture Shopping in Sadang-dong

We took a cab to Sadang-dong, an area we were told had lots of furniture stores, and went walking around. Some interesting patterns emerging in Korean furniture: small, unexpandable dining tables; logos displayed prominently, even on wood furniture; low, leather couches/sectionals.

We saw one small table we liked and when we asked the price, the guy had to think about it. How stupid did we look? We got him down in price, but didn't buy. The tables like best so far are the reproduction teak ones we saw the other day in Itaewon, but that set was really expensive. It is hard to buy furniture when you don't speak or read the language because you can't be sure what you are getting. Another trend in dining tables involved some kind of composite faux marble top and/or base. It looks interesting in some cases, but it isn't what I am looking for.

The logos. I hate the logos, especially on expensive furniture. Who wants a logo on a headboard or embossed in the leather of a couch? Apparently the Koreans do. It isn't on every piece, but it seems to be fairly common.

Couches. There are lots of versions or low, leather couches and sectionals. The fabric sofas and chairs I have seen were an awful raspberry color, multi-colored (brown, yellow, turquoise and pink) butterfly print, cream with pink roses with green stems, and futon-style. I was worried about the dog's nails scratching leather, but we are just going to have to be sure to keep her nails done. They all kind of blend together after awhile. We need to get into the place and take measurements.

After the help of several strangers, we bought two T-money cards which are used to pay for the metro and buses, and took the subway to Itaewon. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant called, Buddha's Belly and walked home. A navigational success on many levels. It is so frustrating not knowing how to get around.

I took a short sauna for the second day in a row here at the hotel. I think I will like having a sauna in our apartment building. I have been trying to track down the Bikram studio. I found something today that said the chain sold its Seoul locations. I guess the thing to do is head to Apgugeong on the metro and try to find it. I am also going to try the yoga on post which is free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shoe Retirement and New Shoe Review

Oh, you've served us well: See Kai Run Radik, Pediped Liam and
Pediped Charlie, but you are now too small and we must move on.

Ian's new shoes are Robeez Tredz in Evan and Vincent Shoes Max and Dennis. The Robeez Tredz are Robeez new line of flexible rubber-soled shoes for older children. They are more durable outside. I still recommend original Robeez for crawlers, original Pedipeds for early walkers, but when your toddler is more mobile and has mastered walking, it is time to move on to flexible rubber-soled shoes like Robeez Tredz or Pedipeds Flex! or See Kai Run. The Tredz are not as easy to get on as original Robeez, but they stay on very well. The sole is very flexible and the leather is soft. These are winners!

I got the Vincents during their big winter sale for a steal. The sole is much firmer than Tredz, but they are very stylish and the sole becomes very flexible after the child wears it the first time.

I plan to try Pedipeds Flex! next, probably the sandals for summer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ian's First Diva Demand

Ian does not work on sand. He completely freaked out at his modeling job today when he had to pose on sand, even though he had sandals on. They had to put a box or towel for him to stand on in each shot. He freaked out about the sand in Jamaica, too. I don't know why it bothers him.

Tough Guy and Real Estate Progress

Ian had a TB test done today (required by the base to be involved in activities and childcare). He didn't even flinch, he was too busy flirting with the nurse.

We signed the lease on our Seoul apartment. We have to get a local bank account to have the entire year's rent deposited into our account so we can pay the landlord all at once.

In Georgia news, we are putting in an offer today. Hope they accept so we can get Kate set up before the summer and have our stuff delivered there.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Korean Department Store

We went to the iPark Mall/Department store today. It is HUGE! It is kind of like a high-tech version of the shops in Egypt. In Egypt, if you are looking for curtains, there is a section of town that has shop after shop of the same curtain material. How or why do you choose one over the other? At the department store today, there were multiple shop areas of electronics with the same overwhelming inventory. I guess you need to know what you want before you go.

We were looking for furniture. We found something we liked, but there is virtually the same thing at a vendor store on post for about half the price. Buying furniture in the States is a racket, but over here it is harder because we don't know where to go and what we are looking at. Was the store we went to equivalent to Nordstroms (the prices would say yes) or JC Pennys? Who knows? It is hard to ask people that you don't know because you don't know how to evaluate their opinion with regard to taste and pricing. Everything is relative. There is an AAFES furniture store but everything is hideous: oversized, puffy sectionals. I think we can order things into that store, but I didn't see anything inspiring on the website.

One thing I do know is that we need a bed in order to move in. We can wait on everything else. Our bed is in Egypt and held up in customs. We don't have an ETA. We need to get out of the hotel because we are gaining weight, Roxxy is in the kennel and we want to feel more grounded than a temporary hotel residence allows you to feel.

So, since we wanted to get a low-platform, king sized bed with latex mattress anyway, so here is our opportunity. We like it. It is made to American dimensions and the vendor is used to working with Americans. I think we will order it tomorrow.

Itaewon is known for antiques. I think it will be fun to look there for things like a dining table. We also need a couch, but I want to take more time with that purchase. There were lots of low, sleek leather couches/sectionals at the Korean department store. I liked them, but want to see more options.

The Department store had a swank nursing room, though, the symbol was a bottle. It had a nice sectional couch, microwave and hot and cold water dispenser. I wish I had my camera with me.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Gadgets in the New Place

Everything is built-in and there is lots of storage.
Electronic Door:

Built-in Fridge/Freezer

Security Camera/Kitchen TV:

Plastic Wrap, Foil, Paper Towel Holder:

Interior Shots: Facilities

Lounge Area by Gym:



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Highrise, Here We Come!

We checked out the place during the day and we are going for it! It has a little bit of green space and is near the River Walk. Here are some exterior shots:

The view:

Real Estate Seoul: Decision Time

We've narrowed it down to three places:

1. An older house with a garden and basement/parking. It is very spacious, but has older kitchen and bathrooms.

2. A first-floor villa that is only two years old. It has a courtyard and small garden area, though neither are private. It has underground parking and it is not too crazy to get in and out of it. The kitchen and bathrooms are new and there is a fancy house manager system, tv in the kitchen and bathroom. It is walking distance to Hannam Village which has a commissary and playground and also Korean shops.

3. Highrise apartment overlooking the river. Beautiful interior with high-end finishes. Pool, sauna, gym and driving range. It has two master suites. One is nicer than the other, but still. 3 full bath rooms. We are going to look at it tomorrow to see if the areas around are suitable for walking Roxxy. We didn't want to deal with the elevator to walk Roxxy, but the swimming pool and sauna may have cinched the deal.

If this was the States and we were going to be here for awhile, I would choose to buy the house and renovate it. If we were spending our own money on rent, I would choose the villa. I like the villa over highrises without pools, but the pool is great and offers swimming lessons for kids.

So, if things check out tomorrow, we are going to go for the highrise. Pictures will be coming soon.

Ian's Current Vocabulary

"Tuck"= Stuck (He is always climbing, trying to open things and getting himself or his hand stuck).
"Nother"=Another (As in, "Give me another on")
"Mama"= Mama now!
"Da-ee"= Daddy
"Wa-er"= Water (in a glass, in the toilet, in a pool, rain, any other liquid)
"Why?"=As in,"Why are you doing this to me or why aren't you doing what I want right now?"
"Uh oh"=when he accidently drops something or purposefully does something he knows he isn't supposed to do.
"Whoa"=when something cool or surprising happens
"More"=More now!
"Eye"=Look at my beautiful eye.
"No"= No (or yes, depending on whether it is accompanied by the sign for "yes")
"Dah" or "Dach"=Dog
"Ro-mo" or "Mo-mote"="Remote"
"No way"="No way"
"DAR!"=who knows, I think he is trying to get out attention. He uses it a lot.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Almost a Real Person

You aren't a real person in Korea until you have a cell phone. I am currently surfing the web complements of my new cell phone provider waiting for my phone to activite. I am using LG service. All incoming calls and incoming text messages are free. Nice change from the States. I was able to choose my phone number. I picked my parents last 4 digits so it will be easy to remember. They have Mary J. Blige ring tones so that is what I am going to get since Ian loves her so much. You can also program an international calling card in your cell to call the States on and it doesn't take away from your cell minutes.

Ian is sleeping in his carseat/Go Go Kidz Travelmate.
That thing has been a real life saver. With the dog and all of our luggage, I couldn't deal with the stroller. And at 18 months, carrying is no longer the best option for medium to long trips so we have been wheeling him all around and putting him straight into the real estate agents' cars.

More Real Estate

We have seen quite a few places and I have two appointments today. We were looking at villas or single houses because of the dog, but last night we saw some mid-rise and high-rise apartments that had gyms, saunas, and driving ranges, not to mention high-end finishes on everything. Neither of us golf and I don't know how much I would use the gym, but the sauna was great! The last place we saw had a pool which Ian an I would definitely use. It has a smaller sauna, but they have one and it isn't quite as high. It is near the river and has a great river view. It is probably the swankest place we will ever live in so it is very tempting.

Here is a picture of Ian in the villa courtyard:

It was also very nice on the inside, but does not have a gym, pool, or sauna. It is on the first floor, making it easier to get the dog in and out.

The houses we've seen have been very old. Houses are rare and expensive. I don't think we can afford a house with new appliances and bathrooms. Also, you have to deal with the landlord instead of a maintenance person for maintenance. I have a feeling we will end up in that mid-rise with the pool. Curt really wants a gym. We have a Bow-Flex and treadmill coming from Egypt, but somehow he thinks a gym will be better.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pictures from Modeling

Ian on the Set:

Craft Services Table: Kim Bop (like sushi rolls but could contain anything from spam to tuna fish), sandwiches from the popular shop Parisianne Baguette, Dunkin Donuts, Pringles, miniature tootsie pops, green tea, barley tea and nescafe type coffee machine.

Modeling can really wear a guy out:

He goes for his third gig on Friday.

Ian Curtis, Male Model

From Montessori in Erie to modeling in Seoul, Ian's "work" has drastically changed. While at the hotel playground, we were approached by a modeling agent. Since we are living in a hotel and don't have anything scheduled to do besides some real estate appointments, we went.

Today was his first gig. It was a catalog shoot. They asked him back for tomorrow. Sue, the agent, provides transportation and food. I need to bring some Annie's crackers because Ian ate too much junk. I don't want them to be able to trace his cholesteral level to his modeling career.

His pay today covers almost half the stroller I want (I think Bumbleride Indie). One of the children there has been doing it for 6 months. We are just going to have fun and see how it goes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Another Decision to Make

Besides choosing which villa or house to live in here in Seoul and which house to buy in Georgia, we are looking at another stroller. Curt wants a three-wheeled stroller with real tires to navigate the rough terrain here in Seoul. He wants a jogging stroller, but jogging strollers have fixed front wheels which are difficult to maneuver in city environments. Most places won't ship to a stroller to an APO so we have to figure out how to get it here. I could also explore off-post and see what kind of strollers they have here, but unless they have the same brands, I won't have access to reviews. The strollers they carry at the PX are not the type and quality I am looking for.

Some things to consider:

*Adjustable height handles
*Swivel Front Wheel
*Weight Limit
*Additional Features

I believe in baby carriers, I almost never used a stroller the first 17 months of Ian's life, but now that he is 18 months, I need a stroller. I can still use the carrier, but not for for than grocery shopping, going through the airport and short trips.

Models I am considering:

Bumbleride Indie $400 weight limit 45 lbs
Mountain Buggy $430 weight limit 100lbs
Mutsy Spider $250 weight limit 55 lbs
Phil & Ted Sport $400 weight limit 88 lbs (you can add a toddler seat)
Valco Trimode $425 weight limit 45 lbs or 90 lbs with added toddler seat

I've ruled out several models already:
Bugaboo Bee $530 weight limit 37.5 lbs: This stroller is beautiful, but it has a high cost and a low weight limit.
BOB Revolution $350 weight limit is 70 lbs: It is boring looking and only $50 less than the Phil & Ted or Valco but you can't add a toddler seat. I don't need that now, but it would be nice to have the option.
Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler $150 weight limit 30 lbs: This stroller is great looking at a great price, but 30 lbs is a very low weight limit. If the weight limit were that of the Bugaboo Bee, I would get it.
Quinny Buzz $500 weight limit: 50 lbs: cost
UppaBaby Vista $600 weight limit: 45 lbs: cost

I think Curt will like the the Phil & Ted or Valco best. I like the Mutsy Spider because it is smaller and lower cost, but it isn't designed for running. I don't think we will really do much (if any) running, but it would be nice to have the option.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Real Estate Around the World

We are currently looking for both a house in Georgia (to give us a US residence, GA because my sister will live in it and take care of it while she is in med school) and a place to rent here in Seoul.



house=single family dwelling
apartment= dwelling in a multi-unit building
flat=small multi-unit building (term is not used much)
villa= large, expensive house


flat= dwelling in a multi-unit unit building
villa= single family house with a garden


apartment= dwelling in a building taller than 5 stories
villa= dwelling in a building 5 stories or less
house= single family dwelling

So, a villa in Seoul is a flat in Cairo and an apartment in the US. Also, in Cairo and Seoul, a yard is a garden.

We are looking at Seoul villas and houses. Though I like the idea of a house with a garden, we found an awesome flat last night. The advantages of a villa over a house are: security, maintenance, community. The building is only two years old, it is walking distance to the metro, shopping and an American housing area that has a commissary, pool, etc. It has a garden area so I will be able to walk the dog, but she won't be able to run free. Still, I think she would rather be walked than have a yard. Even if you have a yard for your dog, you should walk your dog, but we all get lazy, especially with babies.

I wish we knew more of what we could get. I don't want to lose this villa, but I want to get the best we can. One nice thing is that the government (read: American tax payers) are paying for it, so there is less stress. The housing market is a bit of a racket (isn't it, everywhere?). The realtors know how much you are allotted based on your job position and family size and that is how much whatever you choose will cost. There is a housing office which has to approve it, so there is some oversight, but still, it is very expensive!

The house we saw has a great yard, beautiful front door and lots of space, but the kitchen and bathrooms are older and not very nice. They are fine, but not great. The kitchen and bathrooms in the villa are beautiful and new. We are going to look at the villa again today so we can see it in the daylight.

Curt and Ian are napping after a hard morning spent brunching here at the Dragon Hill lodge.

On the Georgia house hunt, we need to get Powers of Attorney for my sister and decide which property to make an offer on next. We are looking at 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom houses with yards and either a garage or shed because we have stuff that is in storage from before we went overseas that we are going to have delivered to this new house so we can use it before it gets completely trashed. Some things, though just need to be stored and you can't pick and choose, you have to take all of the stored goods or none.

We found a great house, but the deal didn't go through. There were a few structural issues that were identified on a previous inspection that we wanted them to fix, but they would not agree because they said it was "too hard" and "inaccessible" which I translate to mean "too expensive" to fix. Structural issues are not something we want to be dealing with when we are so far away and my sister will need to concentrate on school, she won't have time (and doesn't have the experience either).

Friday, March 7, 2008

Dirty Diapers for Daddy

Curt has changed very few dirty diapers in Ian's 18 months of life, partly because he was gone so much and partly because he just didn't. He does lots of other things so it doesn't bother me too much, but it is quite delightful that Ian has been expressing a preference for daddy to change his dirty diaper. Curt is just finishing changing the second dirty diaper in two days.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mothering through Illness

Ian and I are both sick with colds, but I am much worse. He is not eating and wanting to nurse all the time. I am weak and wanting to be left alone. Curt is working so we are alone in the hotel room. I need to go see Roxxy at the kennel, but I don't know how far it is and am feeling to weak to venture out with Ian. I have a device to make the carseat into a stroller of sorts but the carseat is in the van that picked us up. I know I can't carry him that far and he isn't reliable about walking. I hope Curt comes back for lunch.

I have very limited patience and am struggling with that because Ian needs attention and cannot be expected to understand my situation. I hope to get better soon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Few Words

Hello= annyeoung haseyo
Goodbye= annyeoung-hi gaseyo (if you are leaving) annyeoung-hi gyeseyo (if you are staying)
Thank You= gamsa hamnida
Your Welcome= gwaenchan seumnida
Yes= ye/ne
No= aniyo

Hope These Montessori Effects Last...

Montessori philosophy teaches children to care for their environment so if they make a mess, they are to help clean it up and they clean as a regular part of the school day. Ian has discovered that he loves to clean!

Ian and I walked down the hall to the vending machine. I let him carry the quarters and then put them in the machine, get out the Diet Coke and carry it back to the room. He did very well until he saw the water on the floor by the ice machine. I had to drag him back into the room. He got a towel and tried to open the door to go back and clean up the water. If we didn't have such tiny towels at this hotel I would have let him. It is so nice that he is interested in cleaning. I know I am not!

Today at breakfast, after he dribbled water out of his cup, he cleaned it up with a napkin. He also insisted on making a breakfast burrito just like me.

I hope to find a Korean Montessori. The English-speaking one here in Seoul costs $10,000 a year. Too much for pre-school. I got a lot of ideas from the two months of school that he had in Erie. Just taking the time to let him help with daily life makes a big difference in his learning, behaviour and enjoyment. Last week, Heather and I made bread for Ian to take to school for snack. We put a chair next to the counter so he could see and he was happy, quiet and watched the whole time. We had him hold some ingredients. We should have let him measure, but we were trying to get it done quickly and he was satisfied to watch.

Seoul, Man!

We made it. It was brutal trip. Head colds and Economy Plus seating. Trail of Cherrios and Late July cheese crackers from Erie to Seoul. Had to get water from the kid next to us because Ian got hysterical screaming,"Water, Water!" He pointed, he frantically signed,"Please, please!" Nursed a good portion of the trip, except when he was screaming for water and when the vegetarian next to us got served his food before us and he wanted it.

The dog got into the country.

We checked into the hotel, got some food just before the restaurant closed and tried to crash, but Ian was ready to party. We were all out of bed by 5 am because Curt had to work and Ian was finished pretending to sleep.

Apparently the "yellow sand" (pollution from China) is coming and can really get you congested. Great, as I am already very congested. I never should have slacked on the neti!