Monday, May 23, 2011

Apocalypse Now

In case you didn't know, Saturday was predicted to be the end of the world. So we decided to spend our last moments on earth hanging out with other expat parents at the Garden of Morning Calm in Gapyeong. Fittingly, the weather was pretty much gloom and doom, but I think everyone still had fun. Here we are: Doosan & Lorna with their baby Summer; Kim with toddler Kai; Me & Clark with Logan; and Summer & James with their Logan. So, two Summers and two Logans - just a tad confusing.^^ And the weirdest thing is the Logan's are only a few weeks apart and have exactly the same name - first and last. How's that for a coincidence?

It was wonderful having the daddy's along on 'baby duty'! Isn't this a pretty picture?

Seeing as how the prediction was wrong and we were still alive come Sunday, we ventured out again (twice in one weekend is truly rare!), this time to the 4th Annual Suwon Multicultural Unity Festival along with our friends Jill and Sang Ro. All proceeds from the event go to providing scholarships for children of multicultural families and supporting foreign residents. There was lots to see and do including: martial art and music performances, fashion and talent shows, a children's craft corner, and a raffle with decent prizes like bicycles & LCD TVs. There was a lot of food, too. We sampled goodies from Korea, Japan, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Russia. Check out this monster-sized bowl of bibimbap prepared for 2011 festival goers.

While it may appear that we're enjoying the bibimbap, this is not entirely the case. Jill wasn't really able to eat much more than a few pieces of cucumber she managed to pick out (she's vegan and we discovered there was egg mixed in), and I accidentally dumped Clark's entire bowl onto the ground (his fault for resting it on top of Logan's stroller), so I gave him mine. But whatever. I was already full from all the other food we'd sampled, particularly the grilled Mongolian lamb shanks....mmm-mmm good!

I'm not entirely sure why, but I found the Mongolian culture to be the most fascinating. I suppose because of the represented cultures, it's the one I'm least familiar with. Take these dudes, for instance.

Fascinating. N'est-ce pas?

Good times at the garden. Good times at the festival. But too bad I'm sunburned to death. End of the world didn't get me, but the sun sure did!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Birthday Party

An interesting day today. We were all buckled up in the car ready to go, when I turned the ignition only to find it was already engaged and the battery long dead. It seems that in his haste yesterday afternoon, Clark had somehow (I'm really not entirely sure how) managed to pull the key from the ignition without actually turning it off. He also (and this I really really have trouble understanding) neglected to put the car in park, instead leaving it in reverse after backing in to the parking space. Husbands (insert rolling eyes here). My mood quickly soured as we sat in the underground parking garage - with a baby who was becoming increasingly cranky - waiting for assistance from our insurance provider. As it was rather early on a Sunday morning, I feared we would be stuck and miss the birthday party we were trying to get to, but thankfully here in Korea there are some things they do mightily well, and roadside assistance is one of them. It took the Samsung Anycar tow truck driver all of 15 minutes to find us. Most impressive if you ask me.

Minor catastrophe averted, we headed off to Bucheon for Mommy Cha's son Thomas' 3rd birthday party, hosted at the kid's cafe in Homeplus. And I tell you, after visiting this Homeplus, I now have my sights set on Bucheon if we ever move; hands down the biggest and bestest Homeplus I've ever had the pleasure of setting foot it.

Mommy Cha did a terrific job organizing the party. In truth, this was our first-ever children's birthday party, and we had an excellent time! It was great fun to meet and spend time with other expat families. I was familiar with many of the moms from Facebook and/or the Expat Parents Korea forum, but had never actually met most in person until today.

The kids dined on chicken nuggets, pork cutlet, french fries, rice, and salad (I think this pretty much stayed in the serving bowl) and there were yummy COSTCO pizzas and chicken caesar salads for us parents. Logan, unfortunately, sat idly by gumming down a rice cracker; but I don't think he minded.^^

Here's the birthday boy and the MC, who led the group in the Korean rendition of Happy Birthday.

In Korean age, Thomas turned 4, thus the candle on the cake, but he's really only 3. Actually, Clark provided a good chuckle this afternoon when he remarked that Thomas was a really big kid and super advanced for his age. I couldn't quite catch what he was talking about until it dawned on me that he thought today was Thomas' 3rd 'Korean' birthday, which would only make him 2 in western age.^^ He obviously hadn't noticed the candle on the cake but had heard me comment that Thomas was turning 3, so was confused.

It was great having "daddy" come along for the party because it meant I had more time to schmooze with the ladies while he played with Logan :)

Suddenly now upon uploading the above photo, I have to agree with the people who remarked this week that Logan's hair is long. For some reason I never saw it until right now; now that I see the toupee on his head! I'm going to have to find an alternative to this horrendous side part he's got going on. It seems the time for a first haircut is fast approaching...a mohawk perhaps?

Mommy could stand a decent new style and some colour, too! Eight months of motherhood has hastened the graying process ~ yikes!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Logan's New Daycare

It's a sad day folks. I now have to wash my own dishes, clean my own floors, and do my own laundry. Man, do I miss having a nanny! Sadly, we said goodbye to Josie on Friday. It was a wonderful luxury having her with us to take care of Logan and do the housework for the past six months, but with Clark's recent string of bad luck in the job department we decided it best to explore other options.

Here's a picture of Logan with Josie on their last day together...sniff sniff...they were together since he was just 8 weeks old and formed a close bond.

But all good things must come to an end, or so they say. Lucky for us the Korean government provides a subsidy in the form of a 'debit card' called the Aisarang Card 아이사랑카드 or "Child Love Card". For multicultural families such as ourselves, childcare is 100% covered for the first 5 years.

There are a variety of different kinds of daycare facilities, called 어린이집 or "Children's House". We found a small, government certified, apartment-style children's house (so-called because it's located on the first floor of an apartment building) in our neighbourhood. It's a 5 minute drive or 25 minute walk from our place. We chose this particular one mainly because of its size. There are 11 children who currently attend (to a maximum allowable of 19).

Several weeks ago, we began taking Logan there for just a few hours at a time a few days a week in order to get him accustomed. He was supposed to start full-time yesterday, but he got a cold, so we waited until today to start him.


These are Logan's new caregivers. The woman on the right is also the owner. They're smiling because I brought them a couple of homemade banana-strawberry muffins :)


There are three children in Logan's age group. At this age, there is one adult to every three children. And when he turns 12 months, he'll be sent to a different room where the ratio is 1 adult to 5 children. Here he is in his Jellymom (Bumbo knockoff) getting ready for his lunch. They don't have highchairs and at first suggested they hold him on their lap to feed him, but we thought it best to bring along the Jellymom to keep him in the practice of sitting on his own to eat.

Though it hasn't been said outright, it's quite obvious that they find our child-rearing practices a bit peculiar. For one, I choose to pack Logan's food instead of having him eat the standard juk 죽 "rice porridge" they serve the kids. From what I understand, juk is served at every meal to the kids in Logan's age group. It's not that I think there's anything at all wrong with rice porridge, I just enjoy making food for Logan and want him to experience the wide variety of flavours and nutrients that exist. Like today, for instance, he feasted on a medley of beef, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots & peas followed later by yogurt and bananas. Also related to our 'unorthodox' feeding habits is the issue of the highchair, or, in this case, lack thereof. Whilst a great many Korean parents choose to spoonfeed their children 'til a ripe age, we would prefer to have Logan learn how to feed himself. I recently read that children gain a sense of independence and self-confidence by successfully feeding themselves. The other thing that seems to befuddle them is his sleeping habits. Their method is to rock him in their arms and when he's almost asleep lie him on a mat on the floor, but they have yet to have any success with this technique. We've explained that he is accustomed to sleeping alone in his own room in a crib, but they insist their method works. I suppose I should wish them good luck because I really don't think they're going to be able to undo 8 months of sleep training, though I hope for their sake they succeed.

Though we miss Josie, we're happy to have Logan in daycare. He's going to learn to socialize with other babies (he's already made one cry by pulling the poor guy's hair), learn to speak Korean, and no doubt learn some Korean mannerisms.  Have fun Bubba!