Thursday, July 31, 2008

Registry/Shopping Advice for First Time Parents

For my first time mom friends, Paige and Kristy:

Choosing items for your baby registry is right up there with the wedding madness. There are so much gear, furniture, gadgets, cuteness, etc. that it is hard to know what to choose. I, myself, left Babies 'R Us three times, before a good friend directed me to the book, Baby Bargains by Denise & Alan Fields.


1. Buy the latest edition of Baby Bargains by Denise & Alan Fields. This book is extremely thorough in reviewing all categories of baby products and most of the available brands in the US, both in chain stores and online. The book starts each section with an overview of features so you know what is available along with guidelines for choosing the particular item. Then, they do a review of by brand of the features, pros and cons of each brand and the main models within the brand. Finally, there is a comparative chart. When you go into a store they do not have the same information listed so it is impossible to compare. By going through this book, you can make smarter decisions about what you want.

2. Create registries on Target.com and Babiesrus.com fairly early so you can start getting coupons. You don't need to fill it out completely, just create them to get the coupons in time to use them. Target even sends maternity clothes coupons. If you are having a shower, everyone has a Target or Babies 'R Us near them so you can give people a sense of your style and the types of things you like.

3. Don't limit yourself to mainstream stores. Create a registry online at a site like felicite.com. You can add more unique, online products to your registry through felicite.

4. You can get recommendations from everyone on the block and their sisters and best friends as to what products to buy, but the bottomline is that your baby and your lifestyle determine what you need. You can examine your lifestyle before the baby is born: What kinds of stores do you shop in? What kind of transportation do you use? What kind of terrain do you traverse? What kind of weather do you deal with?

If you live in the suburbs and drive almost everywhere you go, you need a different stroller than someone who lives in the city and walks everywhere.

You don't however, know you baby when you are putting together your registry. Factors such as baby's activity level, size both length and girth are very important in selecting products that will work for your baby. There is nothing you can do to substitute for this critical piece of info, but there are things you can avoid doing:

*Don't register for things like a highchair or any other equipment that they will use beyond the first three months. Register for an infant carseat or convertible carseat, baby carrier, Arm's Reach Cosleeper, bassinet, or crib. Maybe a stroller if you have determined what kind you really need. Most people who get a travel system seem to regret it. It is much easier to carry your baby in a carrier when they are little. As they get bigger, a carrier is still more convenient for the suburbs and if you are urban and walking a lot, you need a more powerful stroller than the travel system offers. If you know you will jog with the baby, get a jogging stroller. Suburbanites might be able to skip from baby carrier to a MacLaren type stroller. Everyone is different, though. Just think about the choice.

*Don't buy seasonal clothes before your baby is born. Don't buy seasonal clothes out of season for your baby's first year (or first several years). Growth spurts are unpredictable and a bargain isn't a bargain if it doesn't fit.

*Don't buy clothes or blankets until AFTER your shower. Most people receive a ton of each.

*Don't buy or register for a lot of newborn sized clothing. Get one special outfit for coming home from the hospital and buy or register for 0-3 month size instead. On average babies, this will fit just fine, may be a little big, but not for long. Some big babies are born too large for newborn size clothing.

*This goes for diapers as well. Don't buy or register for a lot of newborn size diapers for the same reason. The hospital will get you started with diapers anyway. If you are going to use disposables, look into some of the more environmentally-friendly, healthier-for-baby, diaper brands to register for like Tushies, 7th Generation, Nature Babycare. If you are going with cloth, and choosing pocket diapers, all-in-ones, or fancy diaper covers, the initial investment can be steep, but you will save money. If you register for these types, skip the XS size and start with S. They are usually adjustable and so small will probably work. If it doesn't you can fill in if necessary or use disposables for the first few weeks while you are getting used to everything else.

5. Skip the gadgets: wipes warmer (dries out wipes and you probably won't use it much anyway), bottle steralizer/warmer, etc. (even if you bottle feed, you don't need these things and if you find out later that you do, you can pick them up). Some gadgets are useless to everyone, some are very useful to some people. The only time I ever used my baby monitor was testing to see if it worked. We co-slept and even when he was napping, I could hear him without the monitor. If you have a multi-level house, you might use it. If you are in an apartment, you really don;t need it. Still, some people like to use them. It is a matter of personal choice. You really don't know if that is going to be you until you have the baby. A great place to look for gadget-y products, safety products and other I-Wonder-if-They-Make-This products is One Step Ahead.

6. Have fun planning your registry. Even though there is a lot to choose from, you really don't need much beyond a carseat and some onesies to get started.

Zen Kimchi.com

Another great food/expat site. I found Zen Kimchi while looking for help for the Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern researcher who I have been in contact with.

I just noticed on Zen Kimchi that the Seoul Players (expat theatre group) are hosting A Night of a Thousand Plays on October 11 and 18. They are looking for short (3 minutes of less), original works of theatre. No experience necessary. These short works will be given to volunteer teams to rehearse and perform. Maybe I will participate!

Here is the announcement:

Attention writers or aspiring writers!

Seoul Players will be holding its first ever production of “Night of a Thousand Plays” on October 11 and 18th. This unique theater event jams as many short pieces of original theater as possible into a one-hour program. We would love your involvement!

We are looking for as many written submissions as you can muster. The genre is wide-open, we only ask that your submissions be no longer than 3 minutes in length and the shorter the better!

Submit your pieces to seoulplayers@gmail.com by August 15th. Any writer with a selected piece for the show will be contacted and of course, credited for his or her piece.

We look forward to receiving your submissions and hope to see many of them in the show this October.

Yours in the arts,

Seoul Players

Night of a Thousand Plays - FAQs

What is it?
‘Night of a Thousand Plays’ is a theater event in which the audience can enjoy a heaped serving of short, original theater pieces in one night. Local writers submit short pieces from one line of dialogue or no dialogue at all to no more than 3 minutes in length. We like to call these “short shorts”. The focus is to stage as many “short shorts” as possible in our one-hour program. Local writers will submit their pieces and the best of the best will be chosen for use in the program. Teams of actors will be teamed up with a director to rehearse and perform 5 or so short shorts a-piece. The show will be held on October 11th and 18th with performances at 6pm and 8pm.

Who can be involved?
Anyone and everyone! First time writers, directors and actors are welcome along with seasoned veterans. Teams will be built around the casting needs of the short short pieces. The short short pieces will be bundled in a way to maximize stage time for each actor in a team. Also, anyone who is interested in the technical side of theater is welcome. In fact, to anyone who just wants to lend support, we can probably find something for you to do!

Is this like 24-Hour Theater?
Not really. For this event, each team is given weeks of rehearsal time to prepare their short short pieces. In that way, this show doesn’t have quite the frenzied approach of 24 Hour Theater, however, with the potential for so many short short pieces being staged and so many actors involved, the sense of community is still strong. It will be common to lend a hand to other teams from providing a prop to doing a voiceover during the show. If there’s any way that anyone can make the show better, we say do it!

What are the deadlines?
We will send emails and post announcements for submissions on July 15th with a deadline of August 15th. At the same time will ask for people who would like to be involved at any level (actor, writer, director, tech staff) to let us know. Pieces will be reviewed and final selections will be made by August 30th. In the beginning of September, emails will be sent to each participant confirming their involvement. We will hold a welcoming meeting on September 20th for all participants. The teams lead by the director will develop their own rehearsal schedule and pick up any props or costumes they think will be best for their pieces. We will have a required day of technical rehearsal on the morning of October 11th. Performance dates are October 11th and October 18th at 6pm and 8pm.

How will the teams be picked?
We will ask for any interested people to note their level of theater experience for any role they are interested in (actor, director, etc.). Every effort will be made to provide a mix of experiences in each team, but of course availability will also be a factor in determining teams.

Do I need experience?
No! We want any of you who even had a passing thought to do theater to get involved!

I’m nervous about auditions…
Don’t be, there are none! (See! This really IS for anybody!)

I’m interested in writing. What kind of pieces are you looking for?
Short ones! This is a great opportunity to try theatrical writing for the first time. Any genre is welcome. If you had a funny idea for a short scene or a great idea for a short dramatic one, go for it. From musical to movement only, we welcome any and all ideas. But be careful of length, if your idea lingers beyond 3 minutes it’s unlikely to make the show, but of course, some exceptions will be made. The best guidance we can give is to try to make one dramatic/comedic point in your piece. It is possible however to break a longer piece into a series of short shorts, but we’d like this to be the exception rather than the rule.

I’m not interested in writing. I want to perform/direct/stage hand instead. What do I do now?
Just wait! Once Seoul Players receives and selects the scripts, it will be time to select teams. An email for actors, directors and other help will be sent out in a few weeks from this email address. The number of performers needed will depend on the number of scripts received, so if you know of any wanna-be writers out there (including yourself), please feel free to pass on this email.

More questions? Feel free to email seoulplayers@gmail.com or call 010.2216.7267.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pregnant in Korea, Episode 2

I had my second appointment with Dr. Sung today. The baby's heart rate is 171 and the measurements are on track. Due date based on LMP is March 7, based on sonogram is March 9.

They offered me IV fluid for the nausea, a $600 watch that electronically stimulates the accupressure points or these accupressure point band-aid-like things. I took the last option. She also suggested boiling ginger root and tea. I am feeling a little better.

They took blood this time. The visit plus blood test was $430. Yikes! I think I will get a copy of the blood test results to take to the Amy hospital. I will switch to the Army hospital if I decide to go back to the US, because they will submit to insurance so I don't have to pre-pay. Still, I don't want to repeat things twice, so I will bring my records back and forth until I decide which course.

The other issue I asked the doctor about was a TB test which the Army hospital is requiring. Koreans do a sputum test, but it is not part of the standard protocol. It is good to know, because I don't want to do the skin test. If the Army hospital insists, I will get the sputum test done at the Korean doctor. Nice to have options. There is also a blood test. The korean doctor called the lab and there are two tests they can do, but she said the sputum test is cheaper and more accurate. Fine with me.

After my appointment, I went to a farewell lunch for Ian's friend, Karuna. All four women were c-section moms. Mine was for breech. One had a previous surgery less than a year before delivery and that is why she a section. One had a long protracted labor and failure to progress. I don't know why the last one was a cesarean, but it was her second child so it was probably a scheduled, repeat cesarean.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seoul Eats

In my quest to help Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern with the Korea show, I found this great food blog called Seoul Eats. Check it out for interesting places to eat. They also take contributions so if you've eaten something great or strange or interesting in Seoul, take pictures and send in your article to Seoul Eats.

Grammar Girl

I went to 10 different schools between Kindergarten and 12th grade. Due to all the moving, I never had a formal study of English grammar. I've done well writing by ear, but I know I make mistakes all the time. Since I don't have to write academically anymore, i have gotten sloppy and my ear is failing me. I just saw Grammar Girl on Oprah and am bookmarking the site for future reference.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ian Needs His Naptime

Ian has always stayed up late (10-11pm) and never woken up for the day before 7am (usually between 8-9am). I know many parents put their kids to bed at 7:00pm (or earlier), but having Ian on my schedule just works best for us. He takes a 2 hour afternoon nap. If he misses it, he usually falls asleep before dinner. He stays asleep all night, but I don't like him missing dinner. It seems that I could adjust the dinner schedule and get him down earlier, but Curt doesn't get home until 6:30 or 7:00pm (or later), so Ian needs to be awake to have time with Daddy.

We've never followed a strict schedule. It has been great because Ian is flexible. I'd like to be a bit more scheduled so I can get Fly Lady and exercise in, but I like that Ian and I just go with the flow. He will often tell me when he needs a nap, but not lately. He doesn't even seem tired or cranky, but I know he needs one, because he goes down fairly quickly with just a bit of nursing.

I am glad that I am not too tired so now that he is napping I can get a few things done. I need to Fly Lady the suitcases from our trip, my maternity clothes, Ian's toys and the dishes. It sounds like an overwhelming task list, but I know, if I just get up and do it, it will be done in no time. Curt will feel so much better when he walks through the door and I will feel better when I get up tomorrow. It seems like an unending battle, but when you pick up regularly, you give yourself a fighting chance for a decent house. I am doing well today because I have the Campbell's Soup casserole thing made for Curt to eat (a rarity). If I get the house picked up I will feel very successful. Maybe I will even make it to do my pre-natal exercise tape or walk on the treadmill.

Food is Gross

I have developed an aversion to garlic, onions, spice. This is a major problem in Korea. Korea has the highest per capita garlic consumption in the world. It is everywhere. I walk in to the elevator and it smells of garlic and sweat (thank you, summer). Ian's breath after eating pasta: garlic. Everything I usually cook has onions or garlic. It has been rough.

Today, I made a Campbell's soup casserole. Ian refused to eat it. I thought it was good, but I usually don't make that type of food.

The first trimester was rough with Ian as well. I love to eat so it is really hard to push through this. It is hard to feed Ian because I can't stand food.

The Korean doctor said there are some things she can do for me. That is a nice change from the States where they just say, "Eat crackers". I'll post Thursday if anything helps.

Pregnant in Korea, Part I

Updated on March 12, 2010: If you are pregnant in Korea and came upon this post through Google, please feel free to contact me at mamseoul at gmail dot com or join the Expat Parents Forum.
Be sure to check out Birthing in Korea as well.

Back to the original post:

My first delivery was by scheduled cesarean due to breech. Ian was breech the last three months of my pregnancy and never had any big movements. My due date was somewhere between September 8 and 14 and we took him out on September 6, so he was 39 or 40 weeks and in very good shape. It was an easy surgery and recovery. Still, it was not what I imagined. I didn't really have the birth experience. My surgeon separated my muscles instead of cutting them and double stitched me. With the type of incision, stitching and reason for cesarean, I am an ideal candidate for VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Unfortunately, it is often hard to find doctors who will let you try, even though the research shows that VBAC is safer than a repeat cesarean for mother and baby in most cases.

I have two choices for delivery in Korea: at a Korean hospital or at the American Army hospital. The American Army hospital won't see you until you are 12 weeks, so I have started with a Korean doctor. Between the two options, I have to pay with insurance for both because my husband is a civilian. The advantage of the military hospital is that they will submit the paperwork so we don't have to pay upfront. Also, everyone speaks English. The disadvantages are that they are not reputed to be open to alternative birthing positions or natural birth. The hospital is small and old and you do not have private rooms.

My first appointment with Dr. Sung in Hannam-dong (the doctor all the expats go to) was when I was 5 weeks along. They weighed me, the doctor talked to me and the did a sonogram. The technician showed me my sonogram, identified the parts and showed me photos of good 5 week sonos and bad 5 week sonos. Mine matched the good sono. Dr. Sung does not deliver anymore, but she does prenatal care to 25 weeks and then transfers you to another doctor. She also gives a labor class in conjunction with a doula and the Hypnobirthing instructor. That seemed like a good sign, but then she gave me the VBAC talk. There are no VBACs in Korea for Koreans (Update: I have learned this not true, some English-speaking doctors will do VBAC and Women & Children's Hospitals will do VBAC. The Women and Chikdren's hospitals may not be ideal for expats because most of the doctors/staff don't speak much English, but there are options and a doula who speaks English and Korean can help). They are all repeat cesareans. Of all the hospitals in the area, there are two that allow VBAC, but one is not recommended for English-speaking patients. There is one doctor that will worked with expats for VBAC and the Hypnobirthing instructor knows of a recent Hypnobirthing VBAC with that doctor. Also the cesarean rate in Korea is 40%. They separate the muscles with their hands and do double stitching so I am sure my cesarean would go well, but since I am looking to VBAC, it doesn't bode well. What if that one doctor or hospital changes policy before I deliver?

Disappointing to say the least.

My next steps. I have an appointment with Dr. Sung on Thursday. I am meeting with the Hypnobirthing instructor on August 13 to discuss birth culture in Korea and talk about my options. I start Hypnobirthing class the this week of August.

I also go to the Army hospital's OB Orientation on August 4. I plan to explore this option even though I think I will find my current impressions are correct. Everyone who has delivered there says,"It's ok". No resounding endorsements.

The other options are to go back to Erie and work with a doctor or go back to Erie and work with a midwife for a homebirth. My friend, Heather, has already agreed to let me have the birth at her house. She is very close to the hospital if something goes wrong. Labor can be long and is much more comfortable done in a house rather than a hospital room. With a skilled midwife to check on me and the baby I feel confident that I could give birth safely. It just seems like the most appealing option. My parents could watch Ian and I would have a lot of support.

The downside to the Erie plan:

1. Separation from Curt: He has a lot of built up leave, but I would probably be gone for at least 3 months

2. Expenses: My trip to the US would be on us. Roxxy (the dog) would need to come back because Curt isn't home enough for her, that is both an expense and a trauma for her. Homebirth would probably not be covered by insurance.

3. Stuff: All my baby stuff is here in Korea. Of course, I wouldn't need much, just a carseat and some clothes, but my breast pump is here and all of my stuff.

No decisions have been made, but my gut feeling is that an Erie homebirth is my best shot for a VBAC. I guess we will just see how things go. Of course, the baby could be breech again or I could have some trouble that would lead me to a repeat scheduled cesarean, but I have a good feeling this time....

Baby Seoul

Baby Seoul is joining the Schnabling in a 2009 debut (though, both the Schnabling's parents have MBAs and are trying to convince him to come a few days early for a 2008 tax break).



I was trying to hold off posting, but I only lasted 5 minutes after taking the test before I called my mom. Also, I am plagued by nausea so anything I blog about will be tinged with the feeling of impending puke. So, we've got a long way to go--Baby Seoul is due March 6, 2009--but I have lots to work through about where to have this baby (in a Korean hospital, in the Army hospital in Korea, or back in Erie).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fun in Hawaii

When Ian saw this view of Hanauma Bay he said,"Wow! Big pool!"


The last time I was in Hawaii, I was about 6 months pregnant with Ian. We took some great pictures, but they were lost in a tragic computer incident. It would have been nice to compare the shots with those from this trip!

Ian is still afraid of sand. This fear emerged in Jamaica last December and recurred in April during his modeling shoot. I thought he might be over it, but no way! He hates sand. In order to help him work through this and keep our vacation from being lame, I bought some sand toys. They worked. Sort of. He will now sit in the sand, cover himself in sand and even eat sand, but he still won't walk in sand, even with sandals on. Though, he did walk on sand when a pretty lady held his hands.


Most kids are afraid of the water. Not Ian. He loves the waves. He loves to jump off the side of the pool and go under water. He will go underwater in the ocean. He feels more comfortable when we are deep enough that his feet don't touch the sand,"I go out there,"he says.

There is a big pier that big kids were jumping off. Ian looked at it and said,"I go dere on the wall. I dump (jump)".

video

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seongye: Korean Meditation

I went to my first Seongye class this week. This is a Korean-style of meditation practice that involves preparing the body for meditation through physical exercises and Danjeon breathing. The exercises are a cross between yoga, Qigong, and calisthenics. It also involves slapping various points on the body to unblock them. Danjeon breathing is breathing from a point lower than abdominal breathing so you get a much deeper breathing experience.

There is a center in Insadong with classes everyday, several times a day and the opportunity to study to become an instructor.
The Arui Mind, Body & Spirit Center is near the Anguk subway station,exit #6.
For more information:
Tel: 02-733-0481
E-mail: nukeroar@suseonjae.org

Classes are about 15,000 won per class, less if you sign up for bigger blocks of classes.

I am going to start going in Itaewon at the Well Being Studio (near the Well Being Shop). Classes will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30-11:00am. If you are interested in the Itaewon classes, e-mail me or leave a comment and I will get you more info as it firms up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Royal Lees

I asked my teacher, Mr. Lee (E) why "E" is translated to "Lee". He said that even though it is written,"E", if you have royal ancestry you say,"R/lee". But everyone now translates it to "Lee" whether they say,"R/lee" in Hangul or not.

Monday, July 14, 2008

There is no Mr. Lee!

"Lee" is one of the most common surnames (which are actually forenames here) in Korea. Now, I have known for awhile that there is an R/L fusion letter. I thought that was how "Lee" was supposed to be pronounced as "R/Lee".

We are learning the letters in Korean class and our teacher, Mr. Lee had us read his name, but "Lee" was just "e". Since my friend Dan-Bi also has the name Lee, I asked her and she confirmed her name is,"E Dan-Bi". Where is the L come from? She doesn't know but think it is easier to translate.

The picture is still fuzzy, but becoming clearer...

Patbingsoo




Ian and I met my new friend, Dan-Bi at the Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong (Apgujeong Station, Exit 6) for Patbingsoo. Patbingsoo is a delicious and refreshing dessert of rice milk over shaved ice with a sweet red bean sauce. We tried a classic version and one with additional fruits. There were also some hidden rice cakes in the mix. Ian really enjoyed it as well. He slept through lunch and woke up during Patbingsoo. After having a few bites, he realized he was hungry. I pulled out his snack bowl with the rice from lunch that I saved for him. He inhaled it and then starting screaming for more rice. Thankfully, Dan-Bi went next door back to the restaurant where we had lunch and they gave us more rice. He ate the whole thing and then excitedly exclaimed,"Found more rice!" as he picked it off his shirt. Hungry boy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern is Coming to Seoul

A few days ago, I was contacted by a researcher from the Travel Channel's Bizare Food with Andrew Zimmern. The show is coming to Seoul and they were looking for restaurant/market/bizarre food suggestions. Since I am fairly new, I referred this request on to some Korean friends. There is a lot of great and strange food here that I have eaten but as far as the best places to go, I am not the one to ask, yet. If anyone reading this blog has some suggestions for specific places for:

1. Royal Court Cuisine
2. Temple Cuisine
3. Where they can eat live squid
4. Silk worms
5. Where they can see kimchi being made
6. Good places for street food
7. Restaurants with strange (for Americans) menus
8. Rice cakes
9. Anything else of interest

I will forward the suggestions to the researcher.

I have never seen the show but some of the people in Korean class had and liked it.

Knitting Again

I finished knitting a baby hat, the third in my life (the first two were for my friend, Melanie's baby, Elizabeth). My mom had to knot the booties for Elizabeth because my increases resulted in gaping holes. Tonight, I attempt the booties again.

If I am successful with the booties, I will move on to the hooded sweater...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Yongsan Pool



Ian loves going to the outdoor pool at Yongsan. It has a nice baby pool area with a fence around it that he can play it without assistance, even at its deepest point. But, he really likes the slide into the big pool. (The picture shows him looking at the side through the fence). I have to go down with him and he never gets tired of it. He even likes to swim under the rope afterwards. Last time we went, I threw him up in the air and let him go under and kick his way to the surface. He really loves it. A 12 year old boy named Chris, who was entertaining Ian, was impressed that he doesn't have to hold his nose under water. I think that it due to early swim lessons because the instinct to automatically close off your nose is still there. Ian also opens his eyes under water. Chris went under to smile at him when Ian went under.

I don't put Ian in a flotation device. (He just wears his Warm Belly wetsuit to keep him warmer, it has no floatation properties). Everyone else seems to do that, but when we started swim lessons, the teachers said that it inspires a false sense of confidence and doesn't really teach them to swim. Other swim classes do use them so I guess it is just a matter of which method makes sense to you. Right now, he needs one of us to be in the pool with him and that is fine with me.

Ian wants to go off the diving board, but I don't think the life guards would let me jump off with him. He bellows,"My board. My divin' board!"

The Yongsan pool is free, but you have to have your government id card. I'm sure there are nicer pools in the area, but the Yongsan pool is convenient and free. Can't beat that! In fact, I think we will head out today.

Cars in the VCR

Ian: Want 'nother car.

Me: Get another car.

Ian: Mommy's help.

Me: OK

Ian then leads me to the VCR where i find a car inside. I pull the car out.

Me: Don't put cars in the VCR, you are going to break it.

I go sit down. Ian comes over again and now he is irritated.

I: 'Nother car!

Me: I got the car out.

I: 'Ugh! 'Nother car, mommy!"

He is still insistently pointing to the VCR so I walk back over and fish around and pull two more cars out. He seems to be satisfied now, but I think I will tape the VCR shut. We haven't used it since we've been here for its actual purpose. Ian just keeps putting cars in there. I usually catch him before they are all the way in, though!

Friday, July 11, 2008

4-5-6

Ian has been saying 4-5-6 before he throws a ball or jumps, etc.

I asked him,"What about 1-2-3?"

He said,"No!"

I think it is because I say "1-2-3" before I send him to the chair and lately, I haven't been patient about it. It works better when you are patient and act as if either choice, cooperation or sitting in the chair is fine. Lately, I have not been so successful in that!

Oops!

Thank You, Cairo Connie!



Ian is just about to outgrow his current pjs, so I asked Cairo Connie if she would pick some up for me at the Bio Shop in Maadi when I got the others from. They are organic cotton, which is tough to find in Egypt since most is exported and the price is much better than in the States or Europe. Also, Curt has been craving karkade (hibiscus tea) so we requested some as well.

The other day, the box arrived! The pjs are a little big, but room to row is always a good thing. Besides the karkade, Connie included a few surprises: a wooden puzzle, an Egypt t-shirt for Ian, the new Egyptian coins, copies of the expat magazines for Maadi,Shwarma Spices and drawings from the kids. What a treat!

I had grand plans of taking Ian's picture with all of the stuff, but he has been uncooperative. He got food all over his Egypt t-shirt yesterday and this morning he covered his new pjs in pesto pasta. So, the above picture is Ian with the drawings and some of the pjs.

Thank you Connie, Honor and Brian! We loved the return address label as well!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ian Says Roxxy

Ian is finally calling Roxxy by her name instead of "dog". He has also recently learned to take her by the collar and drag her around.

video

Sunday, July 6, 2008

On His New Strider Balance Bike

video

Toys 'R Us in Seoul

I ventured out to the Toys 'R Us in Seoul to check out the selection and do a little bit of price comparison. They had a lot of the same merchandise with some additional brands that I didn't recognize.

Melissa and Doug Toys, like this sorting clock were about the same price. Match Box cars were about the same price as well.

Other things are more, but worth buying to avoid shipping costs and waiting for delivery like:Baby Bjorn Carrier Air is $99.99 in the States and 128,00 won at TRU in Seoul. (The Bjorn is not my favorite carrier, just using it as an example. I think the Ergo and Beco are much better).

Other things were significantly more like the Boon Potty Bench which is $29.99 and was 48,000 won.

Infant Tummy Time Mats were all over 100,000 won which is a lot! Children's bicycles were all over 100,000 won, most over 150,000 won.

So, it is definitely worth the trip, but depending on what you are looking for and how soon you need it, it might be better to order online.

To get there: Take Line 1 to the Guil Station. TRU is in the basement of Lotte Mart. There is a big red sign for Lotte Mart. You can see it from the station.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July at Yongsan

Yongsan Garrison opened Gate 17 to the public and had booths set up with various activities, food, etc. The 8th Army Band Played and then the fireworks started. Ian needed to be right against me for most of the fireworks because of the noise. We almost skipped it because Curt and I weren't feeling well, but decided skipping the firework would be too lame so we did make it to see the band and the fireworks.

video

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Schnabling is on His Way

My friend Paige and her husband David are expecting their first child, known for now as "The Schnabling".

Strider Running Bike (Balance Bike)

Ian is really into bikes. He has a little plastic ride on toy, but he is always after the big bikes outside our building. When looking for bikes, I found a great site called runbikes.com. It has both wooden and aluminium run bikes and several different brands ranging in price from a reasonable $69.99 to $329.99 (for a handmade German LikeaBike). The site allows you to compare the features of the bikes. This is very helpful when trying to choose from such a dramatically different price points. The bike was post marked on June 25 and was delivered today on July 1. Not bad for APO. For the continental US, they ship via Fed-ex so it would come much sooner. The bike is very easy to assemble and even comes with the wrench you need.

Balance bikes do not have pedals. Pedaling should be learned separately, either on a tricycle or on a regular bike later. The idea is that children do not learn to balance on a two-wheeler with training wheels. If they use a balance bike, they will learn to balance themselves and be able to skip the training wheel phase and graduate to a proper two-wheeler easier.

We chose the Strider Sports model. It is aluminium with foam tires and an adjustable seat and handle bars. When the child is sitting on the seat, his feet should be flat with a slight bend in his legs.

Ian is very cranky today. We had to leave playgroup after gymnastics and go straight to lunch. He was starving and it was only 11:30am. He was all over the bike as I was trying to put it together and then sat on it for about 30 seconds before going after his new helmet. He refused to pose with the bike and has just been a crank today, not to mention it is raining. So I will have to update later about how he does riding it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Firsts

Today was the first time I left Ian with a babysitter other than my mom. He goes to the CDC on Post, but there are lots of other kids there and he thinks of it like school. I was only gone for 2 hours, to attend my first Korean class, but I was nervous. He cried when I left, but A (the babysitter) took him to the playground and he calmed down. Then, they went back inside to eat dinner and he started crying for me again, so she took him downstairs to the apartment she is cat sitting for our neighbors and he had a great time playing with her grandson. He didn't want to leave. A came up with us and then he criedwhen she left. He doesn't like people to go, but he gets over it fairly quickly,

In other firsts, he said the word "yes" twice today. He usually just signs "yes".

My first Korean class covered the vowels. We received our books and got a little culture lesson. Today's lesson: Korean men drink soju (cheap, grain alcohol) because their wives get all their money. That is why our Korean teacher is still single, so he can drink whiskey. Also, he said that if you get divorced, your career is over. You will not get promoted because the bosses think that if you have trouble in your family, you can't be trusted. Even though I will miss a bunch of classes, I am glad to be getting started. It is achievable, I just need to focus.