Sunday, August 31, 2008

Review: Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea

Today, I did Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea. Even though, I prefer to do yoga classes in person, this is a good stretching/strengthening prenatal yoga dvd. There is a 50 minute workout which includes, seated poses, standing poses, floor work, Kegels and guided relaxation. There is also a Pregnancy Massage section. Some prenatal yoga dvds and classes are too easy and relaxation focused, but this one gives you a workout as well. It is still gentle, but still good. I had this dvd when I was pregnant with Ian.

Diving Board Video

video

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are Baby Swim Lessons Worth it?

Short answer: Yes.

I was a little disappointed with my first experience with infant swim lessons. There are some programs that start at 6 weeks old and involve the baby swimming underwater right away. That is what I was expecting. Unfortunately, most swim classes seem to start at 6 months old and are less about actual swimming and more about getting the baby used to the water and ready to learn how to swim. That said, there was a huge difference in quality between the two classes I took. The first class was like free swim with your baby. There was very little instruction, very little group activities. They had some rubber duckies to throw and let the kids go after them and the teacher would take each child and swim around with them once during the class, but I felt like there should have been more.

With the second class, there was more. We sang songs, chased floating toys, practiced skills together (blowing bubbles, getting face wet, kicking, reaching, floating), and talked about water safety including, teaching the babies to climb out of the pool and wait on the side. The teacher was very active and gave the parents a lot of information. Both classes were only 30 minutes (babies can't take much more than that), but the second class was so much better. Of course, the second class didn't really teach Ian to swim, either, but laid the groundwork for him to learn.

A few things I learned:

1. Be patient. It will seem like your baby isn't getting much out of it, but all of a sudden things will click. Just trust the process.

2. Don't push your baby too hard. It should be fun. Push them gently. If your child is screaming, they will not learn. Your pushing may backfire and they may become afraid of the water. One example: I tried to blow in Ian's face and pull him underwater. That was a suggestion in the first swim class. If you blow in their face, it is supposed to cause them to hold their breath. It just made Ian furious. After doing it once or twice, I realized that I needed to relax about it. So instead, I started to let him slip a bit and get his face wet, but not go under. One day, when he was 9 months old and we were at the outdoor pool at the Marriott in Cairo, on our way out of the country, he was holding on to the side by himself and he let go. I let him go under and then pulled him up and he wanted to do it again. Then we tried letting him sit on the side of the pool and slide himself in. He loved it and did it over and over from that day. When he was ready. Not when I was ready for him to do it.

3. Start early (if you can). Babies at 6 months old are not afraid of the water. They may be cold (try a Warm Belly Wet Suit, if so), but they aren't afraid. If you start early, and keep the baby exposed to water through the time that they are 2-4 years old when they have the physical coordination to actually start to learn to swim, they will have a much easier time.

4. Do not use floatation devices. They discouraged us from using them in the classes, though, some people did. They theory is that floatation devices give a false sense of confidence and don't really teach children how to swim. Children develop dependence on the devices and don't want to give them up. Let me distinguish between water wings and the full floatation vests. With water wings, the child still has to do some work to stay afloat. We may look into using water wings next summer. There is another theory that the floatation devices give children confidence and allow them to focus on developing the skills, so of course, it is up to you. But we've had so many people come up to us at the pool amazed that Ian isn't wearing a floatation device and he goes underwater without holding his nose so I am inclined to believe that no floatation is the way to go. Of course, you have to hold your child in the pool or stand right by the wall when they are holding onto the wall, but it is worth it. I actually think it is better because it forces you to keep better track of your child.

Taking a swim class with your baby is fun and not that expensive. YMCA's and city rec centers offer very affordable classes. If you can take classes continuously, that is great. If you can't, taking one session of a class will be enough to teach you what to do with your baby to keep baby exposed to water and developing skills.

I Try Da Divin' Board, Now

This is the second to last weekend for the outdoor pool and it was a great day. The sun was shining and the water was refreshing but not too cold. We had a great time with Ian who alternated between his favorite activities of going down the slide, jumping off the side of the pool and throwing the ball in the pool. He even experimented on his back in the baby pool during a break from the big pool. We did have a crying incident because the concrete was hot and the metal drain covers were even hotter. He stepped on the metal cover and screamed in pain. He didn't know what to do so he just stood there crying. I was in the pool and said,"Come here! Come here!" So he ran to me and we got his feet cooled down. He needed a break after that and his friend from Gymnastics was there in the baby pool so we hung out for a bit before heading back in.

Every time we go to the pool he says,"I try da divin' board, now." Today, we decided to let him. The first two times I jumped in with him, but the third time he insisted,"I do it myself!" So, I went up with him, but let him jump off by himself. I jumped in right after him and then pushed him up to the surface. The water is 10.5 feet deep so it was quite a workout to swim to the side with him. Curt was in the pool just in case I needed help and there was a life guard watching over the diving board area as well so we were covered. Ian wanted to swim to the side by himself, but he just doesn't swim well enough for that, yet. In the shallower part of the floor, where Curt and I can touch, we hold him on his belly and let him kick his legs to the side. But in the deep water, I had to tow him on his back, which he did not like. It didn't stop him from wanting to go back off the diving board, though. We hope tomorrow is nice as well so we can have another pool day!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pilates for Pregnancy with Lynne Robinson

The other prenatal workout video that I borrowed from the library is Pilates for Pregnancy with Lynne Robinson. There is a 40 minute workout targeted for those 16 weeks along and further and a 10 minute postnatal section.

Classical Pilates is a series of very targeted, precise exercises that flow into each other. I took Pilates from a great studio in DC called Excel Movement Studios. They trained in the classical way. If Pilates seems easy, you are probably doing it incorrectly. That said, I found this DVD a little too slow. Lynne Robinson is very good about reminding you to "zip up" your muscles which intensifies the workout, but I wish there were more repetitions and the exercises flowed into each other. I think the reason they don't is so that proper position can be achieved. I would rather do aerobics and toning at home with a dvd and take yoga and pilates in a class.

Reading the reviews of prenatal Pilates dvds on Amazon, it seems that some are really hard and fast and some are very gentle. Assess your own fitness level and Pilates experience to choose the right one for you. If you have the opportunity to borrow from a friend or library before purchasing, do it.

I didn't get my exercise in yesterday. I over did it with running around. I waited too long to eat so I was hungry, but nauseated and I couldn't eat much. I was exhausted, but I couldn't settle down to sleep. As for my other daily goals, the house was picked up when we got home. For eating, I had two kinds of leftovers in the fridge and bought some ready to eat things. Curt left the bag with the ready to eat things in the car and made pasta and some sort of chili. It was only when he was complaining and I listed the other options that we realized the bag was still in the car with meat and frozen things. Luckily, we got it in time.

Belly: 12 Weeks, 5 days



This photo was taken outside of Curt's office. It is a quonset hut. It looks like a rusted tin can that was cut in half and stuck in the ground.

Bronzed Baby Shoes? Not Exactly...

At the Baby Fair at CoEx Mall last week, I saw lots of elaborate baby photo packages that were the cost and quality of wedding albums in the States. There were also bronzed newborn montages:


I thought the bronze molds of hands and feet looked a little creepy. Here's a closeup:


And then I got a closer look at the boy version:


Yes, That is a mold of the baby's testicles and penis. On the wall, forever. Talk about embarrassing!

There is a picture in a photo shop in Itaewon of a male infant in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) with his penis purposefully exposed. Much more direct than the"I'm a boy" onesies we have in the US!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Progress

Exercise: Check. See previous post.
Clean up: Check. The housekeeper came today. OK so that is kind of cheating, but still done.
Dinner: Check. Leftovers for Ian and Curt and I are going out to dinner. We were supposed to start the childbirth classes tonight, but with Curt's crazy schedule we aren't going to be able to do them (more on that later). I had already asked the housekeeper to stay late to babysit, so we decided to go out. I don't think we've ever done this before. We are going for Indian or Thai.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Erin O'Brien's Prenatal Fitness Fix

I went to the PX today to buy some pre-natal fitness dvds in my quest to incorporate daily exercise into my life on a consistent basis. I looked and looked but couldn't find them. I asked the guy who was working in the area, but he didn't even know what a fitness/exercise/workout dvd was (most of the employees are Korean). He tried to show me blank dvds. It was annoying. Another employee saw me looking annoyed and asked what I wanted. He showed me the section, but there were only two dvds on the top shelf and neither were pre-natal. They have every tv show ever made on dvd, but almost no workout dvds. Annoyed. I will order from Amazon, but I wanted instant gratification. My friend, Mona, suggested going to the library. Why don't I ever think of going to the library? I supposed after living in Pittsburgh with such great libraries, everything else seems lame. Still, I stopped by and found two prenatal workout dvds.

I had to drive Curt into work this morning and Ian work up on the way home so I couldn't workout in the morning. We went to the PX, playgroup and the library. We came home, had lunch and then after I got Ian down for his nap and took a short nap myself, I did Erin O'Brien's Prenatal Fitness Fix. There is a 40 minute workout and a 20 minute partner workout. Curt isn't home so I did the 40 minute workout. There is a warm up, some aerobic movement, floor work and a cool down. She does it in her living room and uses simple props like the couch arm, a chair and the wall that everyone has in their own living room. I think she has a few other titles on Amazon as well. I would definitely order this one.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Giveaway: Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding

Blacktating is giving away a copy of The Black Woman's Guide to Breastfeeding. Go to her site to enter.

Goals

1. Exercise, Including Kegels:

I just did my Lisa Hart Fit Mama exercise dvd this morning. I let Curt take the car so Ian wouldn't have to wake up and then of course I screwed around checking e-mail, going bed to bed, wandering around the house aimlessly thinking Ian was going to wake up any minute. But, at 8:45am I started. He woke up when I was almost half way through and actually let me finish.

Ian's natural wake up time will give me plenty of time to do my workout before he gets up as long as I don't have to take Curt to work. We leave about 6:30am when we take Curt to work and Ian usually wakes up for the day on the way to the office, about 2 hours earlier than he would naturally wake up. He compensates by taking a long nap in the afternoon. I don't want to lose the nap, but it would be fine if it were shorter. We are trying to get a second car, a beater, just to get Curt back and forth to work, to give me time to workout. Also, Ian is really getting too heavy for me to carry, especially when he is asleep (dead weight). If I didn't have to pick him up, I might be more successful in making dinner more often.

I am going to go back to yoga in a few weeks. I still have about 20 classes to use I think. I am supposed tostart Korean meditation mid-September, but I don't know all the traveling will let that happen. Still, I want to get purposeful, daily exercise in. Running around after a toddler doesn't count. It doesn't get you in shape. I am not trying to lose weight during pregnancy or even prevent weight gain, just strengthen my muscles and endurance in preparation for delivery. Also, improve my general health and well-being.

Does anyone have any suggestions of other good prenatal workout dvds?

2. Cleaning:
Make the bed in the morning. Pick up the entry way, livingroom, diningroom and kitchen before Curt comes home.

3. Food:
Increase my vegetable in-take and have dinner ready or at least ready for Curt to cook before he gets home, Monday through Friday.

For the Born-Organized among you, these goals may seem small and pathetic, but for people like me, who despise routine and it is not natural to have a routine, these daily tasks can be overwhelming. I am not lazy in general, but can't seem to get it together for things like that. That is why I like FLY Lady. I found my kind and tools to help. I know it is possible, but it is hard to implement. Cairo Connie's sister-in-law, Christine, whose blog I follow, has 11 kids and her house always looks better than mine in the pictures. She has older kids who can help, but I'm sure they cause their share of messes as well. It still takes organization to keep everyone on task and helping. Even without Ian, I am messy, but Ian has the ability to cause destruction quickly. It really does make a difference to pick up the toys once a day and make him start over. It would be better if I could stay on top of him and have him put one toy back before getting something else out, but that is very advanced for me. The other funny thing is that I am very good at organizing people and figuring out what tasks to do in what order to solve a problem at work or in an organization, but I can't seem to do it at home.

Pregnant in Korea, Episode 4: 1st Appointment at the Army Hospital

I had my first appointment at the Army Hospital today. They were running really behind, but the wait didn't seem that bad. I was afraid Ian might be frightening the first-time parents in the waiting room, but a few couples seemed to get a kick out of his antics.

The doctor was very nice, but when I asked about the VBAC policies he said,"Oh we have plenty of time to talk about that." I told him I was planning to get the surgical record and he said,"Yes, we definitely have to see that." I wonder how long he would have waited to tell me that was necessary.

They weighed me, checked my blood pressure, did a pap smear, breast exam and sonogram. Everything looks normal and fine. It was cold and under florescent lighting, reminding me once again of why my plan to go with the midwife is much more appealing than the doctor/hospital.

I have an appointment on Thursday with the Korean doctor. I am just going to get my records copied and and talk to her, then transfer my care to the Army hospital. It is too expensive to go there. I am worried about what the insurance will reimburse. With the Army hospital, it is a US facility and they bill insurance directly.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Need to FLY Again

Got to get back in the FLY Lady routine. There are things I need to do for myself like Kegels, Spinning Babies Exercises, exercising, getting the dog exercised, making dinner and keeping the house from being a total disaster that I just can't manage. The short time that I did the FLY Lady system, I was much more successful. It usually takes several attempts to fully implement. You build your routines slowly to prevent burnout, but going on vacation throws everything off as well.

If you are struggling with getting things done, check out FLY Lady. The people this works for are not lazy, but don't like structure. The system teaches you to embrace routine/structure and shows you how it is liberating because you don't have to think about what you should be doing but don't want to do, you just do it, automatically. It takes a lot less time that way. It is hard, because, like exercising, even though I feel better when I am doing it, getting started and sticking with it is hard. You have to do it consistently until it becomes a habit for it to be relatively painless. Still, it is nice to have the floor cleaned up when I walk in the house. Even though Ian takes everything out again, picking things up a few times a day does make a difference psychologically. It is nicer for Curt when he comes home as well. It is calmer and more inviting. With Curt's late hours, I really need to cook dinner more, or at least do the prep instead of waiting for him to get home and asking him,"What are you making for dinner?" I have been doing better with that. I definitely think menu planning would be good for me. If I plan meals for the week before I go shopping, I can make sure I buy and use all the ingredients. We can (and do) eat leftovers so I don't even need 7 meals. We eat the same things for breakfast everyday, so that is easy and we usually eat leftovers for lunch, so the key is making dinner several times a week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Getting More Greens

I eat a fairly healthy diet but it is easy to slack of the veggies. I'm trying to find a good breakfast smoothie involving spinach to increase my green vegetable in-take. I eat plenty of cooked tomatoes and I buy plenty of vegetables, but don't always cook them. If I make something like green beans for dinner, Ian and I will eat the leftovers at lunch. They lose some nutritional value in the microwave, but for lunch, it is reasonable.

I just made Dr. Oz's Green Drink that I saw on Oprah. The blender couldn't handle it. Luckily, my mother-in-law gave us this crazy Vita Mix. It is probably as old as I am (or older) but it kicked the blender's butt and whipped all the ingredients together. They were a little hot from the motor, but I served it over ice and it was fine. It was still a little thick to drink, but pretty good. The recipe calls for "1 head of celery". I think they mean 1 spear. i used two spears and you can really taste the celery. To me, when I hear "1 head", I think of either "1 bunch" or the celery leaves off of one bunch. I didn't see that part where he put the ingredients in, so I am not sure what he meant, but one bunch would be way too much celery.

I like it, but it is a lot of work with a lot of ingredients. I am looking for something a little simpler. We buy organic frozen fruit from the commissary. I am thinking of experimenting with the frozen fruit, spinach and maybe yogurt. Does anyone have a good recipe? My plan is to drink something like this in the morning along with eating an egg or whole grain cereal for protein.

Tonight I am making stuffed peppers. I think I will make green beans to go with it and have a salad (with ranch dressing) as well. I am hoping to wean myself from the ranch after this batch is gone. It is delicious, but not very healthy. I need to experiment with vinaigrettes in the Vita Mix. My friend, Iliano, always whips up great vinaigrettes from whatever he has laying around the house. I've also been snacking on raw carrots and ranch.

Mama's Naptime

Yesteday, I needed a nap and Ian wasn't quite ready so I brought Ian and Roxxy in my bedroom with me and locked them in with me so I could rest. After about 10 minutes, it was quiet. Very quiet. Too quiet. I thought either Ian was into something or had escaped so I jumped out of bed to find this:




and this:



I usually try to keep him out of Roxxy's kennel, but he loves going in there. Roxxy prefers Curt's pillow. We all had a nice, long nap.

Possible Dog Walker Found!

I talked to the oldest girl in a home schooling family. They live in a building near me and also have a dog. She just got her Red Cross baby sitting certification so she might be able to babysit as well.

I am thinking of having her walk Roxxy during the week. A good, once a day walk would really help Roxxy. She gets outside and now that it is cooler we are back to going to the playground again, but she doesn't get a lot of exercise.

If this works out, this could solve the Roxxy issue for when I go back to the States. I could leave her here with Curt and the neighbor girl can walk her during the day. It would be nice to avoid another international flight for her.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More on the Midwife

I got the midwife's e-mail and was able to communicate more with her about the possibility of going back to the States to have my VBAC. She sent me this article to read which was very inspirational.

When I made a list of the pros and cons of each of my birthing options, American Army hospital, Korean hospital or midwife attended birth in the US , it became clear that I need to go back to the States. There are too many factors I don't feel that I can control over here (like who delivers me and what the policies are) and I don't have a lot of support. I have wonderful new friends here, but not anyone who I feel I could ask to watch Ian and Roxxy, especially since many of my new friends are pregnant. I do think I could find someone to do it because the military community is very supportive, but I would still feel like I am imposing. In the US, I will have my family and my friend, Heather.

Back in the States, though I have the expense and hassle of traveling back, I will have support of family and a confident provider. The only factor I can't control is my labor, but the midwife's philosophy is that you don't have to control labor, you let it happen and work with it. So, as long as my surgical report from Ian's birth shows they did what they said they were going to do and I stay healthy, I am going back.

Now the next decision is when and whether to take Roxxy. I am thinking of going back for a short visit in late September or early October. If I take Roxxy then, I could take her to Georgia where she could stay with my sister and her boxer, Teddy. She wants Roxxy to come because she thinks it will be easier to deal with two dogs than one since she is in school. She has a nice big, fenced in yard and she runs because she has joined the Army so she can keep them exercised better than we can in an apartment. We are supposed to be moving to Pyongtek where we will have a yard. We could bring her back after the baby is born (May 2009) or after we move, probably Fall 2009. She would be gone a year. In all honesty, if the arrangement was working out, it might be more. It is terrible to think about my Roxxy being away, but she would be loved and well taken care of there. I don't believe in abandoning animals, but she would not be out of the family and her mental health would be better. We would need to hire a dog walker or make some other kind of arrangement if she stays after I go because Curt is gone too long during the day.

Now that I write this, it would be ideal to take her back in early October. Curt may be able to take leave before his Hawaii trip in October so he could be with us to help get the dog moved. The October trip would allow us to meet with the midwife in person and probably get my records from Ian's birth easier than trying to do it by phone and mail. If Ian and I have to make the trip in January by ourselves it will be a lot easier if the dog is already with my sister.

Things will fall into place. I need to start working on my posture now. Poor posture is related to poor baby positioning. I am a sloucher. Working on it, though!

Busy, Rainy Day

Sarah and I met by Gate 10 to be picked up by our new friends, Sharon and Herwrni to go to the Baby Fair at Coex Mall. Sharon has an awesome driver so it made the trip much easier than trying to get there by public transportation. I was trying to copy down the driving directions but between Mr. Kim changing course several times due to traffic and Ian fussing, I was not able to pay attention. There was a lot to see at the Baby Fair including several different brands of cloth diapers. Most of the other stuff was pretty expensive, but it was still neat to see. Sarah says you can get much better deals online. Afterwards, we had lunch and then headed back.

Sarah realized that she left her umbrella somewhere at the mall, so I gave her mine since I just had to run into the gate to my car and she still had to metro home. As I got to the parking lot, only feet from my car, I saw the Dragon Hill Parking lot surrounded by MPs. They wouldn't let me into my car, but I was able to go to the Dragon Hill. I had to kill about an hour before we were able to leave. In that time, I had a cup of tea, Ian spilled his crackers everywhere and he got a card from a modeling agent. I was almost ready to check into the hotel because I really needed a nap, but we were finally able to go home. When we got home, we took the dog out and she wouldn't pee because she doesn't like the rain. I was so annoyed. The rain was kind of refreshing, but our shoes were getting soaked and gross. She finally peed a little bit and we went inside.

One outing a day is all I can handle anymore!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Toddler Bowling

After a long walk with Roxxy, Ian in the stroller, another dog, another woman with a baby n the stroller and a 5 year old on a scooter, we went bowling. They put rails in the gutters to prevent gutter ball and have a metal ramp where the child puts the ball and pushes it. It is a great set up because the little ones always knock at least a few pins down.

Toddler bowling takes a lot of parental involvement to make sure they don't take each other's turns and are careful with the heavy balls. Aside from a few tantrums from waiting for each other, it was a lot of fun. At this age (2-3), they don't realize the score (good thing because Ian lost, but he was also the youngest). They just like to play.

Think I will do his birthday there!

Diaper Change

Ian requested a diaper change two days in a row. He said,"I needa changa diaper, now." Usually, being wet or dirty doesn't bother him unless he has diaper rash, which isn't often. Maybe we are one step closer to potty training!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today's Playdate

Roxxy has a playdate with Gustav, a Rottweiler-Doberman mix. They ran on a field but didn't last long. They are both out of shape. Ian was invited on his own playdate tomorrow with Gustav's owner, Kelly's kids, Aidan and Ian. We are going to the bowling alley. I need to schedule Ian's birthday party so it will be fun to try it out first.

Mini Me

I have really been enjoying my very cold water from my American refrigerator. I don't even need to add ice, though I have been using the ice on my head for my sinus headaches. Now Ian is refusing to drink room temperature water. He says,"No. Cold water." He let his cold water sit too long so I had to add some ice to his sippy. Now he is happy.

He prefers to drink from glass, not plastic (just like me). We bought him some heavy-bottomed, small glasses which are sometimes acceptable to him and sometimes not. He wants the big glass like we have. He prefers his stainless steel water bottle to his plastic sippys.

He is a very adventurous eater, but he does not like potatoes unless they are potato chipped or french fried. Just like me. Although, as I've gotten older, I like mashed, and herb roasted as well. I still don't like baked potatoes unless they are covered in chili, cheese, sour cream and that sort of thing.

I took the leftover roast beef and roasted potatoes and made a crock pot shepherd's pie. Ian picked the vegetables out and ate them and requested pasta. My little man!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Playdate Update

Roxxy's playdate for yesterday was canceled due to rain, but today the sun was out and we had a successful playdate. Lesley and her Pug, Tank and Itaewon Rescue, Annie, invited Roxxy to play in their yard on Post. The yard is small, but fenced in and was enough room to run around. I was a little worried that Roxxy might be too rough with the little dogs ( Roxxy isn't toy or food aggressive but likes to "box"), but she wasn't. In fact, she kind of ignored Tank and Annie, which is what she used to do at the dog park with little dogs. Still, they ran around a bit and Roxxy got a taste of freedom and an outing. She is off the suicide ledge for today!

Lesley suggested I contact Tim of Animal Rescue Korea for suggestions on places to take her. She also offered to drive with me to the Dog Cafe when her friend with a Golden Retriever (who got her dog from Tim) gets back from vacation. That will be awesome. I will learn another place to drive to and be able to check out the dog cafe.

Another bonus: when we go into the elevator in the basement of our building, it stopped one floor up. I dreaded the doors opening, and they opened to a group of 4 Korean men. Surprisingly, they got on the elevator without any drama and asked,"What breed?"
I said,"Boxer."
Another guy said,"She's beautiful."
I said"That means a lot to her for you to say that".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ian Helps

Ian loves to help. He pushes the buttons on the elevator, turns on the dishwasher, turns the air conditioner on and off, uses the key pass to open the door, carries Roxxy's food bowl back and forth to the kitchen, etc. Most of the time it would be faster for me to just do it myself (if he weren't around), but doing these things gives him such a sense of accomplishment that they have become useful tools for me. For example, when we need to take Roxxy outside or go somewhere and Ian is not ready to go, asking him to push the button on the elevator or hold the keys, refocuses him and calms him down. Also, Ian used to turn the dishwasher on all the time. He figured it out by himself and loved to do it. The dishes were REALLY clean for awhile because they went through several cycles. Now that I ask him to turn it on when I need it on, he has stopped turning it on randomly. Of course, there are times when I just do things myself and he gets upset, but usually, I try to keep his tasks for him.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rolling Ball Museum

Located in downstairs in the Korean War Memorial, the Rolling Ball Museum is an interactive museum appropriate for even kids under two. There are four main areas: metal mechanical sculptures, wooden ball structures, mechanical toys and build-your-own.

In the first section, you just watch the balls roll through some of the displays and others you are able to intitiate the ball rolling yourself. video

The second section is the best for little ones like Ian because the balls are big and there are many that they can reach themselves. You still need to stick close to your child because the older kids tend to get overly excited and push the little ones around, but Ian occupied himself in this area for a long time.






The mechanical toy displays are fun. You push the buttons to get them to move. video

The older kids really seemed to enjoy the build-your-own section. Ian wasn't into it as much. I think there were too many people around, but Curt liked it.

Samgakji Metro Station is close. There is a Korean War Memorial exit you can take to get there. You have to pay for children over 24 months. Luckily, Ian is 23 months so we got in just under the wire. It isn't a cheap trip, but it was fun. I think the price is 10,000 won per person or maybe a little more. Should have posted this last week when the details were fresh.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fireworks from the Korean Independence Day

We had a great view Friday night. Due to a full card we didn't capture the best part of the fireworks, but in this video you can see the streaming curtain of fireworks coming off the bridge. The whole display lasted at least 30 minutes. video

Even Bigger Beco Butterfly Sale!

Check it out, it is now almost the same price as the Ergo!

Free Medela BPA-Free Bottle

Saw this on Blacktating a few days ago and meant to repost, but forgot. Here is the link.

For more information on BPA , what products it is in and what problems it may cause, check out Safe Mama and Z Recommends.

Just a side note on BPA, it s in EVERYTHING! You would really be surprised. It is most easily absorbed through the skin, so getting baby bathing and skin products that are BPA-free is probably the most important thing you can do. The cumulative effects of BPA from so many products can cause problems with the endocrine system. Finding places where you can cut it out will reduce the exposure. Especially if you are choosing products for the first time, since both BPA-containing and BPA-free options exits, I think it is best togo with BPA-free.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ian and Books

With all the conflicting advice out there on every aspect of baby-rearing, everyone seems to agree that reading to your child is important. It doesn't matter what you read, but hearing the rhythm and variety of words provides great benefits. Ian has never been into books. He would pull on them and chew on them when he could move him hands and then try to get away once he could move. It is a little disappointing that when he would finally sit with a book, he had no interest in the story. He wants to know the names of objects. The books he will listen to are very simple like: Dr. Seuss' sABC, Dr Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham and Margaret Wise-Brown's Goodnight Moon. Other than that, he prefers books with pictures like those in the Priddy Book Series. The two story books he always picks out are Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could and Mark Teague's Dear Mrs. La Rue. I bought a Little Engine That Could book to go along with the Little Engine That Could Wooden Train Set from Craftsbury Kids. He likes to look at the pictures and say,"My train!" As for the other book, my grandmother bought it at Kohl's for him along with a plush version of the dog that is the main character. He loves that dog and sleeps with it every night. He will only listen to part of the story in that book, though.

I am choosing to go with his personality so that I don't make story time stressful. As he gets older and his vocabulary increases, he will want to hear the stories, or maybe the content of non-fiction books in a subject that he is interested in, but right now, it is not for him. He likes Curt to read him books when Curt gets home from work, so that is what they usually do. Making reading a part of the bed time routine is a good idea as well.

Ian Tries Peanut Butter

I've held off giving peanut butter to Ian for a long time because it is recommended to wait until between 18 months and 2 years old to lessen the risk of peanut allergy. Delay even longer if there is a family history of allergies. We don't have a family history of peanut allergy, so I decided that now is the time to try it.

Preparation:

First Bite:

Sticky:

Going for More:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Desperate Dog



My dog peed on my foot today. In the elevator. Because some Koreans in my building freaked out when they saw her and she got scared and peed. She is a big dog and a big baby. She is sensitive and lonely.

When she was a puppy, I lived in DC. She used to strut down the street and people would stop there cars to comment on her beauty. When someone passed her without commenting, she stomped her front paws and made a sound like,"Humph!" She was so confident. Then, we moved to Egypt, where people think dogs are dirty (but have you smelled a camel or a donkey?) She was really freaked out. Now we are in Korea where people don't seem to like big dogs and she is super freaked out again.

I need to find a dog park or dog club or kennel club to take her. She needs to run and socialize. Anyone out there know of a place? Anyone have a dog who wants a playdate with my dog?

I did a little search and it looks like there might be a dog area by Children's Grand Park and a cafe by the Hyatt Hotel where dogs can play. I need to find out how to get there and check it out.It is the Bau House Cafe. The site is in Korean so I need a translation. Anyone else have suggestions?

Doulas in Seoul

I've found the contact information for two doulas in Seoul. From what I've heard, you can't use doulas at the military hospital on Yongsan Garrison. I don't have confirmation of that, so if you are going to use the 121 and want to use a doula, make sure to ask the question. The two numbers:

Lisa 010-7235-8667

Keun Hae (she also teaches Lamaze and breastfeeding) 010-5416-5155. She speaks both English and Korean. She is not taking on many client right now because she had a baby last year (plus has three other kids), but she is a good resource for all things pregnancy and baby in Korea.

Hypnobirthing in Korea

My Hypnobirthing class starts Sunday, August 24 and runs for 5 weeks. Each class is 2.5-3 hours. The instructor is a certified instructor from Australia and used Hypnobirthing for the birth of her third child. Classes are taught in her home in Hannamdong. The cost for the class is 630,000 won. This session will run fro August 24 - September 15. The session after that will start mid-October. If you are interested, contact Patricia Cumming at patriciacumming@hotmail.com or call 010-6820-0701.

Happiness for Less Than a Dollar

Ah, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. One of the joys of having a boy (and some girls out there) is the love of these little cars. They cost less than $1 and provide hours of amusement. Just having a car clutched in each hand buys me time while running errands. They are very useful in teaching colors. Today we picked out a blue one and a white one. Good to teach the concept of two things, one for each hand. They roll well on the all those wooden train tracks that I picked up at the Thrift Shop for a steal! I love them!

Can you have to many? No. Kids love to line them up and they are always shoving them places so you need to have a lot. It is fun to build the collection over time. You can get so much mileage out of spending $2, one car for each hand.

Baby Fair at Coex Mall

There will be a Baby Fair at CoEx Mall from August 21-24. The Hypnobirhing instructor mentioned that it was good and my new friend Sharon brought it up as well so I am going to check it out. Maternity clothes and all things baby, including cloth diapers will be represented. I think it will be a good sampling of what Korea has to offer.

The website is all in Korean, but I clicked around and found "foreign visitor" page where you could pre-register so that you can enter the exhibit without being charged. I'll let you know if it works!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fuzzi Bunz Sale

3 for the price of 2 and more discounts for volume available at Angelbunz.com
Free shipping over $99

Medela Nursing Bras at Gap.com

I don't know if they are in stores, but Medela nursing bras are available at Gap.com.

Medela bras are very strong and supportive. They have a very easy clasp that you can open and close with one hand. Great for early days of nursing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eating and Food

I am doing much better with eating. I've been able to add garlic and onions back in, but I am still going lighter than usual. I've eaten rice as well. The only thing I haven't tried since my pregnancy-related food aversions started, is kimchi. The thought still grosses me out, though I think I could eat it. Going to try this week, though because I am missing out on lots of great food adventures.

My snacking phase, which followed my nausea phase, has turned Ian into a full-blown chocolate addict, complete with angry jonesing for chocolate. Bad mommy! Thank goodness for chocolate soy milk. We've both been enjoying this tasty, healthy beverage. I need to start buying two cartons a week instead of one.

I finally plugged in my American refrigerator because I've been craving ice and really cold beverages and the teeny Euro fridges ain't cutting it. There is no room for ice cube trays.

Sarah wrote about herbs during pregnancy. It is hard to be overseas because you don't always know what is in something. If you see green rice cakes, they contain mugwort, which should be avoided. Ginseng and Ohmija should be avoided during pregnancy as well. It is not just the exotics that make the list. I looked up herbal teas during pregnancy and discovered that 3 (hibiscus, hibiscus blend, camomile) of the 4 (peppermint was o.k.) I had in my cupboard should be avoided during pregnancy. Ginger is also good during pregnancy. The doctor prescribed it to me for my nausea.

Caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners are on the avoid/limit list as well. It can really be overwhelming. I think most things really wont be a problem unless you are drinking large quantities, but you never know. I try not to get too freaked out about it and follow the guidelines as best as I can.

In my laziness (to avoid a big mess), I tried to give Ian plain pasta and he refused to eat it. I made up a lasagna for dinner and when he saw the sauce, he went crazy. I used all the sauce on the lasagna so I had to bake it. Ian ate two pieces of lasagna and managed to cover his entire face in sauce.

I've decided to let Ian try peanut butter this week. It is recommended to avoid peanut butter until 2 years old, but we are not less than 30 days away from that date so we are going to go for it. Can't wait to see how he reacts.

Yoga in Seoul: Yoga Teacher Training Course Starting at Magic Pond Yoga Studio


Just got the info from Ron at Magic Pond Yoga about the start of a new Professional Program, Teacher Training Course. Magic Pond (located in World Gym in Yeouido, not Itaewon anymore) teaches a style called Raja Yoga.

If you are interested, there is an Open House on Saturday, August 16 at 2:00pm in the Lotus Room of Magic Pond inside World Gym. Contact Ron at yoga@magicpond.co.kr

Friday, August 8, 2008

Maternity Clothes: What do You Need and What Can You Find in Korea

Update: There is now an H&M in Myeongdong with Maternity, Nursing and baby items. Bras up to size E cup:

You are pregnant for 40 out of the 52 weeks of the year. If you live in a 4-season climate, that's 3 out of 4 seasons. For the first pregnancy, most people don't show much until the second trimester. For subsequent pregnancies, you tend to pop back out (I think I started showing at conception).

The choices in maternity wear in the US are fairly limited (Korea will be covered at the end of this post). You can feel like a hostage. It is really frightening when you realize that many of the big maternity clothes stores and brands are owned by the same company. The internet has really opened up a lot more options for maternity fashion. Unfortunately, most of these are expensive. This may cause you to rebel and vow not to buy maternity clothes. While it may be possible to avoid maternity clothes--at least until the end--you will be more comfortable, feel better and look better if you invest in a few key pieces.

What you need depends on your body, your climate and your job. If you work in a more formal environment, you need more, but even a homemaker needs some nice things to wear.

1. A Bella Band or Belly Band or Tummy Sleeve are three slightly different versions (fabric, price, size) of the same product idea. It is a tube of stretchy fabric that helps you stretch your wardrobe through the transitions: it can go over your regular pants (with the button open) to keep you in your pre-pregnancy clothes longer, go over your maternity pants to hold them up when they are still too big, and finally, you can use them for post-partum. Another great use is to cover your belly when nursing. Trust me, you will be more concerned with covering your belly than your breasts.

Why not use a belt? Well, firstly, the belt wouldn't help with keeping you in your pre-pregnancy clothes longer or letting you wear your pre-pregnancy clothes sooner after delivery. Secondly, maternity clothes are shaped differently. If you want to use a belt, get a maternity belt. For my first pregnancy, I did not and spent my early post-partum days flashing the world, despite the use of a regular non-maternity belt.

These bands come in neutrals and patterns. I recommend getting one (maybe two if your are working) in a neutral and only pick up more if you find you are using them a lot.

2. A good pair of dressy jeans (no rips, no big embellishments) and a good pair of black pants. I prefer bottoms with just a low band, not a full belly panel because you can wear the ones with the low band earlier and I don't like the feeling of the full panels. Check places like Target and Old Navy first, but if you can't find a good fit, these two pieces are a good place to invest. You can wear them all the time for all sorts of occasions.

3. If you will be big and pregnant in the summer (or have access to a pool in the winter), get a maternity swimsuit or bikini. It is a great way to stay in shape year round and to stay cool in the summer. Yes, there is the difference in the fit between regular bikinis and maternity bikinis. Some people can get away with wearing their regular bikinis throughout their pregnancies. I was not one of those people.

4. Another summer item is maternity shorts because sometimes skirts are still too hot. I have been living in my maternity shorts this week. I only have one pair (wish I had two).

5. If you will be big and pregnant in winter, you need a coat. I was big and pregnant in the summer last time so I do not have a coat, but I will need one this time. A maternity coat will fit the best. You can get away without one, but if you live in a cold climate, this is another place to invest. Check places like Old Navy and Target first.

6. A dressy dress. When I was in Hawaii, I scored a great maternity holiday dress on clearance. You just need one, but that way you are ready for just about any event: holiday party, wedding, night out, etc. that may come up. Black pants and a dressy top will work as well, but it is fun to dress up. It is a nice indulgence that doesn't have to cost a lot if you shop around. A black dress is probably the most versatile, but not the most fun.

7. Basic, solid color tanks, t-shirts, long sleeved t-shirts (depending on the seasons you will be showing most in). You can pick these up cheaply and they will stretch your wardrobe without a lot of cost. You can spend $48 or more for a tank, but there's really no need.

8. Cardigan sweaters. Good for layering. Useful in the summer in over-air conditioned environments and in the winter when it is colder. I may get a maternity sweater (other than a cardigan) or two on sale or at some place cheap like Old Navy since I will be pregnant in the winter. But no matter what time of year, a neutral cardigan or two will take you far.

9. Maternity underwear/maternity thongs. I just got bigger underwear and bigger thongs last time. Like the bikini, example, they never really fit properly. They larger size regular underwear was bigger in the wrong places. This time I will be buying maternity underwear. I will get the bikini and thong style, not the full belly panel style. I think cheap, larger size regular underwear are still the best for post partum because they will get messy and you can just throw them out if they don't survive well. For the pregnancy though, I think it is worth it to get maternity underwear.
REVISED: As I approach the third trimester, underbelly underwear and pants are irritating my cesarean scar. Going to try the big girl maternity panties soon!

10. A few dressy tops. Add some excitement to your basic wardrobe.

11. Skirts, especially in summer. You can wear your regular elastic waist skirts for quite awhile during pregnancy, but it is nice to have the gentler feel of a skirt with a maternity waist band.

12. Maternity/nursing bras: get them towards the very end of your pregnancy. It is good to have a professional fitting to make sure you have the right size with a little room to grow because your boobs will get a lot bigger when your milk comes in, they will go down as your body adjusts and gets on a proper milk-making cycle. Look for bras with a lot of support, no underwire (can cause clogged ducts and lead to mastitis), and easy openings. This is not a place to skimp. Get a few high-quality nursing bras like Medela, Bravado, etc. Skip Motherhood and Target bras for the first few months. They are cheaper, but not as durable and you need something strong and supportive in the first few months.

Ways to save money:

1. Check Old Navy and Target frequently. The merchandise changes all the time and they always have sales. Target is notoriously low-stocked, so find out your size and order online.

2. Check second hand stores like Once Upon a Child, Salvation Army, Good Will (or Second Hand Rose on base). It is hit or miss, but sometimes you can score big. If you have the time to look around, do it.

3. Check sales at maternity boutiques and the higher end mall maternity stores like Mimi and A Pea in the Pod. I got a dress at a boutique for $10. It was originally priced over $100. I wouldn't have paid that, but I would have paid $30 or $40. I got a maternity bikini for $20 that was originally $100.

4. Check online sales as well. Things that were once ridiculously over-priced are reasonable or good deals on sale.

5. Borrow maternity clothes from friends.

6. Check ebay. People sell their clothes in lots. Sometimes you can get really good deals, other times, you would be better off shopping sales. If you enjoy the ebay process, it is worth a look.

7. Borrow your husband's clothes or friend's regular clothes. I don't like doing this. Things do not fit as well and don't look as good. However, a lot of people do this.

8. Take advantage of the empire waist styles in regular clothing. You need to be careful, because there is often a body skimming inner liner in regular clothing and they aren't cut as big as your end-of-pregnancy belly may need, but they are a good option for the first and possibly second trimesters.

Where to look in Korea:

1. If you have access to the base and the APO, of course you can check the PX and order online through US sites. I've found the PX at Yongsan seems to only have big sizes. If you are a size small, forget it or find out when the delivery is coming and be there that day.

2. In Korea, there are lots of online sites. Here are some examples: MizMami, To Be a Mom, Maternity Underwear, G Market, Lora.
Mother Style
Lara Doute
Yes Ny
Dint Style
Mom Nuri
Motherpia
You will need a Korean to help you, but the prices aren't bad. Some really good deals with free shipping can be found online.

You can order from the Australian site zodee.com and pay in won. If you are authorized to use the APO, you can pay in dollars. They have Hot Milk and Womama brands nursing bras. Pretty, supportive nursing bras.

3. There are maternity clothes in specialty stores and near some baby sections of department stores. I will update this post with directions and more details when I actually visit some of these. We went to the Doota in Damdaemun. It is very close to the Damdaemun metro station exit. the maternity clothes were on the 6th floor with the baby stuff. Jeans ranged in price from $30-$70. There were a lot of expensive tops $50+, but some cheap pull on pants for $14. Things looked very large which is odd because regular clothes are pretty small. Part of it is the current fashion, but even the pants looked big. We didn't try them on, though. There is supposed to be a good place in the basement of the Shinsaegae Department Store.

Here are some notes from Sarah and R:

I found the first and second floor of Mesa Department in Namdaemun (Hoehyeon St. exit 7) store very good. Most of my shirts are not officially maternity shirts...just oversized regular shirts. But there are true maternity shops in there, too. Also, if you go to the baby malls in Namdaemun (right around the corner from Mesa), there are some cheap women's shops on the second floors....I got a lot of my shirts there.

As for pants, I only bought two pair, one jeans, one black pants. I got the jeans in Doota (Dongdaemun), and my black pants in Migliore in Myeong-dong (Myeong-dong station exit 6 I think). In basement of Migliore, there are a bunch of maternity shops. No fantastic deals, but the ladies were very friendly and helpful. The pants are lovely.

Lotte Department Store in Myungdong on the 4th Floor. It is called PRENATAL. They have a good selection: work pants and jeans,...(you have to look at 140 000 won a pair, though) and the shop assistant is very helpful.

From another friend's e-mail:

"There is a area called HwaGokDong!
You can reach that area by subway line number 5!
You can exit 1 from HwaGok Station.
Wthin 5 min walk, you will see some nice baby product shops. There are many
baby-mom hospitals and some of them run shops!!
Major company for moms and babies put notice that they imported popular
brand into their shop! There were 3-5 shops I think. Very big and nice ones."

I will update the Korea section as Sarah and I shop, but if anyone has specific stores/brands/online sites in Korea to suggest, please help us out!

I hope to have more to add for plus-sized maternity in Korea. First of all, plus-size in Korean regular clothes is like US size 12. The maternity clothes seem bigger, but if you are above size 12, you will have more difficulty finding things that fit. I have several friends who say they've had great luck with some stores in Itaewon for plus-sized clothing (up to 3X). They didn't have maternity clothing specifically, but my friends just bought a larger size and were able to stretch their maternity wardrobes. They had to order bras and some other maternity clothing from the US, Australia and Canada, but shipping and import taxes can be a killer so you may need to supplement. If I get the specific store name, I will update this post. Otherwise, take a walk around Itaewon.

If you have favorite US online sites, let me know that as well.

Korean Style Meditation Class Starting in Itaewon

I had the opportunity to have one class of this very interesting style of meditation. Much of class consists on doing exercises to prepare the mind and body for meditation. The exercises range from callesthenic-type movements to yoga-like movements with a focus on Danjeon breathing. There is also a self-pounding component where you slap various parts of your body (not to the point of pain just to get the energy flowing). The main center is in Insadong, but Miryam will be coming to the Well Being Studio (near the Well Being Shop in Itaewon) to teach two days a week starting in September. Details (ignore the dates) and contact info for Miryam are below:

My name is Miryam and I am a meditation instructor.
I offer this course in the Well being studio in Iteawon.
The fee for this course is: 80,000W.

Meditation Class Schedule
Date Exercises Meditation Main topic Homework
1
Week Mon
7/14/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises Relaxation,
Breathing Danjeon Breathing 5 good qualities&
5 bad qualities
Thur
7/17/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises,
Belly Massage Dongmaek,
Breathing
Sitting meditation Breathing
Pelvic correction 5 excessive (too much) points


2
Week Mon
7/21/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises,
Self-bamboo pounding Dongmaek,
Daejucheon, Breathing
Sitting meditation Breathing&
8 body type
introduction 5 insufficient (not enough) points

Thur
7/24/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises,
Dongmaek,
Jisuhwapung,
Breathing
Sitting meditation 8 body type
Metal
Yin & yang 5 good things that I did
And 5 bad ones

3
Week Mon
7/28/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises Relaxation,
Breathing 8 body type
Tree
Yin & yang Life chart

Thur
7/31/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises Hap-Jang
Meditation
Breathing 8 body type
Earth
Yin & yang Life chart

4
Week Mon
8/4/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises,
Self-bamboo pounding Dongmaek,
Daejucheon, Breathing
Sitting meditation 8 body type
Water
Yin & yang Life chart

Thur
8/7/08
9:30-11:00 Five elements exercises Dongmaek,
Breathing
Sitting meditation Breathing What will you do to change yourself?




The Power of Breathing

When I arrived to Seoul two years ago with my husband and two children, I knew in my heart that I would like to experience meditation in Seoul.
I entered the “breathing School” Suseonjae. Only in Korea at the Seon Meditation Center in Insadong, I heard about Danjeon breathing and why it is so important to practice breathing. Now I wish to share how to breathe properly.

The Danjeon is the “point of life” located 5 cm below our belly button. When you cough, you can feel this point rising up first. Little babies breath from this spot naturally, however, they lose it over the years. It is the place of gut-feelings, the sixth sense and intuition.

Why practice breathing?

The benefits of breathing through the Danjeon are numerous:
Increasing concentration,
Getting fit body and mental health,
Releasing mental and physical stress,
Getting rid of back, shoulder and spinal pain and so much more…

After you breathe everyday for six month you can get to the stage of feeling through the Danjeon. If you reach this stage you start thinking, seeing and hearing through the whole body, you just know! Know what to do in every situation; know the direction in life you should follow. You become one with yourself. At this point everything becomes clear. You can even discover your mission in life!

Come and join this special opportunity and learn how to breathe and meditate. It will relax your body and mind leaving you fresh and calm to deal with everyday’s life challenges.

Through this special course we will learn how to manage our body and mind.
If you are ready for a change in your life, join us!

Please visit our website: www.suseonjae.com


Written by Miryam Bar
Instructor at the Suseonjae meditation center, Insadong.
miribar7@gmail.com
010-999-66989

Cloth Diapers in Korea

Here is a link to site where you can buy modern-style cloth diapers in Korea. You can choose from velcro or snap closures. The website is all in Korean, so if you may need help, but they look good. It looks to me like the outer cover is similar to Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius style covers, but you don't put the insert in the pocket of the cover, you lay it in so it is next to baby's skin. I thought I would like velcro better, but I prefer snaps. If you are just starting with cloth, get some of both in the first size and see what you prefer. I think the snaps look better and hold up better. My velcro is still going strong, but I still prefer the snaps.

Here is a link to buy Kissaluvs in Korea. Kissaluvs require a cover as well. I prefer the other style.

Sarah and I plan to go look at these in the store. I'll bring along some of my Fuzzi Bunz Mediums and Bum Genius One-Size for size comparisons. I can't tell the cost from the website whether you are getting the same number of covers and inserts in the package deals or whether it is two covers and a lot of inserts. That is what the picture looks like.

When we go, I will update this post with the location of the store, directions to the store, size and price comparisons. There is a Fuzzi Bunz sale going on right now so I might buy some size smalls for the new baby. Ian's medium Fuzzi Bunz won't fit much longer. Hopefully, there will be some Korean cloth diapers in bigger sizes that he can wear or we'll just use the Bum Genius diapers. Those look like they will fit longer.

I've been told that you can find the old-fashioned prefolds at places like Emart, but I haven't confirmed that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Seoul Expat Pregnancy Club Expanding!

Just got an e-mail from another foreigner who is pregnant in Seoul and looking to explore the childbirth culture and options here in Seoul. She is from Singapore, has a two year old and is about as far along as I am.

Any other pregnant or trying-to-conceive foreigners out there who would like to join our little informal group and share information, just send me an e-mail: mamaseoul at gmail dot com

Also, if you have had a baby here and have any opinions/advice/resources to share, please e-mail me as well.

*******This small group has transformed into a Expat Parents Club Forum.

Go here to join:
http://expatparents.50.forumer.com/index.php

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Potty Time: Boon Potty Bench Review

I'm not rushing the potty training by any means. It would be nice to have him potty trained by the time the new baby comes, but even experts who claim to "potty train in a day" say the kid needs to be at least 2.5 before you can really go for it. He will be 2.5 when the new baby comes. I have friends who started at 18 months, but did have real success until after 2. So while I do think you can reduce or (eliminate in the case of EC) your diapers if you start earlier, they can't (in most cases) be responsible for their potty needs until they are older and I, personally, would much rather devote my energies to other things.

That said, I've found the slow, no-pressure, repeat exposure approach has worked great for other issues like getting Ian to drink soy milk and transitioning him to his crib. So far, we've been talking about the potty. We point out when we go to the potty and when Roxxy goes to the potty. We bought the Elmo Potty Time book with sounds. After a few months of that, we bought a potty, the Boon Potty Bench. It looks nice, doesn't require batteries, transforms easily between potty and bench and got good reviews on one of my favorite review sites, Z Recommends.

Ian loves to sit on the potty. He will go off and on the potty for 20 minutes. He hasn't peed on the potty, yet, but he is having fun with it and that is the first step. I think he just likes being naked, but whatever it takes! I don't ask him if he wants to sit on the potty. He tells me when he wants to try. Usually, when I am changing his diaper he says,"I pee da potty."

So he'll try, then get bored and run off to do something else and I will say,"Good try. Time to put your diaper on."

He will say,"More potty!" and try again.

I think my next step will be to give him lots of liquid and then ask him if he wants to try to pee on the potty. I am going to wait on that for awhile, but that is they next step. We did have one incident where he peed on the floor in between trying to pee on the potty. It scared him, which leads me to believe he isn't quite ready. He didn't realize what was happening. He has quite the far-reaching spray, though. Covered half the dining room!

Review of the Boon Potty Bench so far:

Seems comfortable for him to sit on. Has two side areas for potty supplies which Ian uses as toy storage, but also serves to keep him on the potty longer. He can open the bench to use the potty and close it to use it as a bench/stool. The pee shield is flexible unlike, most other pee shields so it folds down easily. It isn't really high enough to serve as a pee shield on its own, we have to tell him to put his penis under it, but it doesn't get in the way as I've read that some of the hard plastic ones do.

Sitting on the Potty (not cooperative during this photo shoot, he wanted to sit on the floor by the potty when the camera came out):

Showing Off His Potty:

Essential Potty Storage Compartments for Critical Potty Supplies:

What the Book, English Bookstore in Itaewon

Yesterday, Sarah told me about a bookstore in Itaewon called What the Book with a huge selection of English titles, reasonable prices and ordering options. They even have a website where you can search titles. If it is not in stock a delivery time is listed. The book I was looking for can be delivered in 10 days. Also, I compared the prices on the book I was looking for between Amazon and What the Book and the WTB price was the Amazon list price. So while the Amazon price was less, you get free shipping with WTB so it evens out and you are not being overcharged. With Amazon, you can get free shipping as well, but overseas that can take a long time so the convenience factor comes into play as well.

I have the APO and Amazon is usually pretty fast, but it is nice that there is this option for those who don't have the APO. It is also work a look to see if your title is in the shop so you don't have to wait. She said they have a big selection of magazines as well.

Update: What the Book just moved to a new, bigger, more convenient location on the main street of Itaewon. Get off at Itaewon station. It is under Wang Thai. Click here for a map.

On the Hunt for Hydration

I know, I know, water is best. But I just can't stand it right now unless it is super cold. My teeny tiny European fridges (yes, I have two) do not have built-in ice makers. This pregnancy may drive me to plug in the American fridge. It is a very basic model and does not have an ice maker, either, but there is room for ice cube trays.

I tried to drink juice, but it is too sweet. I bought Perrier to cut the sweetness and that helped, but I need something I can drink all day. I like to drink Diet Coke and iced tea, but I am cutting those out for artificial sweetener and caffeine. I bought some Diet 7-Up, but it still has the artificial sweetener which I don't want to drink, but I've been desperate. Chocolate soy milk is tasting good to me right now. I've been trying to eat cold fruit as well to get some moisture without the concentrated sweetness. Super cold Gatorade tastes good to me right now, but I hate drinking all that high fructose corn syrup.

My next thing to try is barley water, a cold barley tea that Koreans drink. I have some, but just haven't gotten around to making it.

Think I need to solve the ice problem, though. I guess we need to have a Korean interpret our bill to see how we are doing on electricity and then plug that American fridge in! (The landlord pays our utilities from the utility allowance and at the end of the year, we have to pay the difference if we go over).

Anyone have other suggestions for cold, healthy drinks?

"Baby's in My Uterus"

Said by Ian today.

He looks at the baby on the baby tracker widget and says,"Baby".

I point to my belly and say,"The baby's in here, in my uterus."

He points to his belly and says,"No, baby's in my uterus."


Anatomy is clearly not his best subject. He still can't believe that Roxxy and I don't have penises.

Awesome New Friend!

I met my new friend, Sarah, for lunch today. Sarah came to Korea from Canada for a year-long teaching adventure and six years later she is still here, married to a Korean, writing English teaching materials and expecting baby #1. She is a great resource because she doesn't have a foreign government or company to rely on so she has to find things here. She is an expert online shopper and while you do need a Korean ID to shop online, you can have a Korean friend help you. There are great deals and usually free shipping online. I am really excited to here about a new line of Korean pocket diapers. Sarah found the company online, but says they have stores around. I can't wait to go shopping with her for the diapers, maternity and baby stuff!

Sarah is also a knitter. See here successfully-knit booties here. I have yet to successfully knit booties due to an increase-disaster. Luckily, I've met Sarah, so she can help me.

Another great thing about Sarah, is that she is having her baby here in Korea at a Korean hospital. Even though, I am pretty sure I am going back to the States, I am happy to know Sarah's experience to share on this blog for other expectant foreign mothers.

It is so important to get beyond your little group when you are in a foreign country. You learn so much from each group: military/government/Embassy; expats on business; English teachers and let's not forget the locals! It can be hard to get to know Koreans. Egyptians are extremely friendly, sometimes it can be too much! Koreans are shyer. Meeting through activity groups and foreign spouses of Koreans are good ways to break in.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Belly: 9 Weeks



I didn't look like this until about 15 weeks with Ian.

Playgroups in Seoul

I've noticed that many people are finding this blog looking for playgroups in Seoul. Here is a short list of what I've found so far:

For people with US military base access:

Yongsan Playgroup Forum. This group has a message board, resource center and does playgroups and events. It also lists a lot of the other kid-related events on base. ACS runs playgroups on Yongsan Garrison and Hannam Village. There are also two storytimes: one at the library and one at Moyer.


For Everyone:

* SIWA: I haven't been, yet, but I have heard that SIWA has a great and active international playgroup. This group is open to everyone. It is also a good place to meet people involved in non-English, non-Korean playgroups like German, Spanish, French, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese, etc.

*meetup.com has some newcomer/expat groups where you can meet people. You can also start your own meetup playgroup.

* expat groups like AWC, churches, English teacher's groups are good ways to meet people with kids



If anyone else has a good playgroup in Seoul, please leave a comment.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hypnobirthing vs. Hypnobabies

I am signed up to take a Hypnobirthing class starting in a few weeks, but I've also seen theHypnobabies program. I don't really have a choice here in Korea, but if you are in the US, you should check them both out. From the little I have read, it seems Hypnobabies used an open-eyes method and seems to have more problem-specific scripts. Hypnobabies also offers a homestudy course.

Has anyone out there taken either course? Comments on which one is better?

******Update: B/c of scheduling conflicts and the fact that Hypnobabies seemed more geared to doing it without a partner and I will spend the last two months of pregnancy in the States, away from my husband, I decided not to do the Hypnobirthing class and went with the Hypnobabies homestudy course. Here is the link to my take on Hypnobabies after using it successfully for my VBAC.

Here is a comparison from Laura Lund, Hypnobabies instructor who used Hypnobirthing and then Hypnobabies and then became an instructor. Sheridan Ripley is a Hypnobabies instructor who followed a path similar to Laura's and here is her comparison.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Down the Slide

Over and over and over! video

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beco Baby Carrier Sale!

I love, love, love the Beco Baby Carrier! I have a 4th Generation which requires an infant insert (like the Ergo does) for newborns but can be used without one between 3-4 months. The new Beco Butterfly has a built-in panel for newborns. Besides being great for your back, easy to adjust and figure out, and very secure for the baby, they come in gorgeous patterns. The Beco is a lighter and thinner than the Ergo. See my review here. I like them both.

I bought my 4th Generation from SoBeBabies. They have excellent customer service and right now they are having a great sale on the Beco Butterfly. They are an authorized retailer and this is the first authorized sale.

This carrier is pricey, but it is worth every penny. I used mine all the time (instead of a stroller) until my son was 16 months old. I still use it with him, but not as much because he is older and wilder (almost 23 months). Still, it can support his weight. It is so much easier to put a baby in a carrier like this and do laundry or shop then get out the stroller or lug the infant carseat. This is one item worth investing in.

I bough the Baby Bjorn first and that carrier is much more difficult to use and hurts my back and shoulders when Ian was about 10 lbs. I tried a ring sling and a pouch, but I couldn't get him positioned correctly. Some people swear by them, but I like two-shouldered carriers better. Some people love mei tais, which these carriers are inspired by, but you need to tie and untie mei tais. With the Beco and Ergo, you just click the buckles and pull the straps to adjust. Fast and easy to get the baby in and out.

There are lots of other carriers out there now (an explosion has occurred in the last few years), but I have throughly tested both of these. I've breastfed in them while climbing a mountain in the desert in Egypt, used them through international airport security lines and dodging traffic in Egypt. They rock. You need them.

Dirty, Dirty Shopping Trip

My nausea was better today. I was able to eat pizza. Then, I wanted snacks so I went to the PX and bought dark chocolate, mixed candy bars, peanut m&ms, pop tarts, potato chips and rice cakes. I bought small amounts so I can indulge without going too overboard. I don't eat any of that stuff normally, apart from the dark chocolate which is, of course, medicinal.

I think this snacking phase happened after the nausea phase last time. The nausea phase lasted a lot longer with Ian so I am not counting on this being over for sure, but I will keep pressing the anti-nausea pressure points just in case!