Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

We had a great time celebrating the new year here in Seoul. No, of course we didn't do anything big like go to Times Square or anything. We just went over to a friend's for dinner, dessert, and games. They have a 6 year old, a 4 year old, and a 1 year old, so the kids had a great time! They even played really well all night. We decided to quit while we were ahead and we headed home around 11:00. In seconds the kids were fast asleep in their beds and Eric and I were able to ring in the new year in a quiet house with a glass of champagne. I really couldn't have asked for anything more (well, I could've done without him throwing the Bananagrams tiles when he lost again, but he apologized profusely for that!)!

We made sushi for dinner, had cookies, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake for dessert, and snacked all night long!

We played Bananagrams and Mad Gab while the kids tried to figure out the new four person Connect Four.

This morning, we had caramel rolls and I had a homemade caramel sauce latte while we watched the snow fall. It was just flurries for about an hour and it has all melted now, but it was pretty to watch it fall on our New Years morning. We all got ready for church and then Cade started to break down. It became clear that he needed a nap more than anything, so here I sit relaxing, blogging, reflecting on the last year.

I'm not much of a resolution person. If I made one last year, I don't remember what it was. It's hard to believe that just a year ago teaching overseas was still a dream that we were finally putting some work into making happen. When we started the whole process I don't think we had any idea that six months later we would be living on an entirely different continent, but we know that this is what God wanted for us and we are so thankful for this experience. When I look at 2012, my only goal is that it would not be quite as exciting as 2011. The only things that could make it more exciting would be another transcontinental move or another addition to our family. Since we're not planning either of those, we're praying for less life-changing events in 2012!

My only goal for 2012 is to continue to learn to use my camera and improve my photography skills. I'd thought about doing a 365 project where you take a picture of something different every single day, but I thought we might all get a little tired of that. So, I've decided to go with Project 52. My goal will be to take a picture every day and figure out which one is best at the end of the week, but that way if I don't end up taking a picture every day, I should at least have one good for the week.
The snow just started again, so I might have to head outside and take some pictures. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Where should I visit in Seoul?

I was recently asked where a person should visit in Seoul if they have only 3 days. That is a big question. There is so much to do in Seoul that 3 days is definitely not enough. It also depends on what kind of person you are--a history buff, a shopper, a nature fan. And, of course, it depends on what time of year you're here because it literally doesn't get above freezing these days, but in the spring there are many outside activities to do. 

Namsangol Hanok Village last summer
With that in mind, here are my suggestions:  
1. There are lots and lots of palaces to see (though I kind of think they all look the same). I would recommend Unhyeongung palace because it is very close to Insadong where you can do some tourist-y shopping for Korean pottery (Celadon) and other traditional gifts (Line 3 Anguk station).
2. Myeongdong, Cheonggyecheong, and Seoul Tower: these are all in the same area. There is a lot of modern shopping in Myeongdong--Lotte Mart and Shinsegae department stores, as well as more traditional Korean shops. Lots of good restaurants here, too. Cheonggyecheong is the stream that runs through this area. It's not hard to run into and is very pretty with walking paths along it below street level. There is an elevator you can take up to Seoul Tower which has an observation deck, too. We haven't done it yet, but it's supposed to be amazing. (Line 4 Myeongdong station) Itaewon (the foreigner area) is pretty easy to access from here, too, if a person wanted to be surrounded by Americans, English speakers, and some American restaurants and stores.

Seoul Tower last fall
3. National Museum of Korea and Korean War Memorial: We haven't made it to the National Museum, but it's supposed to be pretty cool (Line 4 Ichon station). The Korean War Memorial is really neat! (Line 6 Noksapyeong station)
4. Namdaemun and Dongdaemun: these are huge shopping districts, very Korean style. (Namdaemun: Line 4 Hoehyeon station, Dongdaemun: Line 1 or 4 Dongdaemun station). We have been to parts of each of these. It is worth it to do some research and know what you are looking for when you go because they are so huge.
5. Coex Building, 63 Building, Times Square: these are all more modern shopping malls in what I think is considered "downtown". (various stations on Line 2)
Coex Mall last week
6. Evening entertainment: watch the lights and fountains on the Banpo bridge (Banpodaegyo) at 8pm every night or take the ferry cruise down the Han River. I really want to do both of these things when the weather gets a little warmer!
The links here are to my own posts about our experiences at the places we have visited, but these places are all really easy to get information about on the internet. I would recommend or The subway system is really easy to navigate. It's not always the fastest way, but when you don't know where you're going, it's the easiest way, and most of it is in English.

the kids on one of the city buses last summer
Being that it is winter break, during which we had planned on going to Busan and then spoiled our children and spent way too much money on their Christmas this year, I am feeling motivated to make sure that we see more of these things since I am recommending them! Now I just have to get my family out of the house and do it!

By the way, I thought I would share with you some of my iPhone photos from the last 6 months since I didn't want to just post old pictures you've already seen. It's not always the best quality, but it's always convenient!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Will We Ever Be Done?

The potty training saga has officially turned into an epic. See the tent that Santa got them for Christmas? Pretty cool, right? They play in it constantly (well, until today when Kennedy wanted to carry it around so we finally took it down for a few hours), and last night that tent was the scene of the crime!

I have no idea why he was sitting on the table, but he was so cute, I had to snap his picture before I made him get down!
The whole "we don't have any underwear" excuse could only last until we got some underwear. So, now we have them (big thanks to those of you that sent them!!) and we're trying to put them on him whenever we are home. Last night he was running around, playing legos in the tent, wearing nothing but his underwear and socks. I asked him about every 10 minutes if he wanted to sit on the toilet, and every time it was a no. After about an hour, I hear Kennedy say, "Cade, why are your socks wet? You're getting the tent all wet!" And I realize that there's really only one way that my son's socks could get wet while he's in the tent in the middle of the living room. He had peed, of course!

For some reason, the kid really seems to abhor the simple act of sitting on the toilet. He still gets really excited about getting stickers after he pees, but most of the time he just doesn't want to stop long enough to see if he needs to go. This morning, we tried a new tactic. We attempted to have him use corn flakes for aim (in the absence of Cheerios or anything else circular!), and while he refused to stand, at least it encouraged him to get on the toilet. He had another accident this morning and then finally made it into the toilet before we left to run errands. I'm starting to wonder if we will ever be done potty training this kid!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Yesterday, we spent the entire day doing absolutely nothing. We talked to lots more family back home on their Christmas Day and Eric went screen golfing in the evening with a friend from school. But, I hadn't left the house for 3 days in a row, so today we had to get out!

There are so many things to do here that sometimes it's overwhelming. What is a priority? What is something we can only do this time of year? What can we do that is warm?

So today we headed to Coex Mall. I didn't know much about it except that it is big, it has a theater, it has an aquarium, and it has some American restaurants. It turned out to have some pretty, sparkly decorations outside so we got a few good pictures.

We headed out about lunch time with empty stomachs which means that after a bus ride and a long subway ride, we were starving and we literally walked into the first restaurant we saw, Bennigans. Regardless of the type of food being served, every restaurant has Korean staff. And one of the aspects of Korean culture that I cannot get over is the fact that when you go out to eat, they bring out one dish at a time. Whichever dish gets finished first is brought to the table. Yours comes out when it's ready. Even if that is 10 minutes after the first dish. Even if that means you and your husband have finished their meals before the kids' food even comes to the table. Can you tell it bugs me?!

Eric ordered a club sandwich that I had to take a picture of. Can you tell what kind of meat that is? Neither can I, but it's closest relative is somewhere between bologna and Spam. And the cheese? Yup, good 'ol "American" cheese. Processed. Right out of the plastic wrapper. So glad I went with the salad!

We had originally planned to check out the aquarium, but we decided that for as late as it was by the time we got to it, it wasn't worth $60 for an hour of entertainment. The kids loved looking at the fish they could see at the entrance, though!

By the time we were ready to leave, everyone was exhausted. I found a bus route that would take us as close to our door as we can get without any changes or subway, so we hopped on, and all 3 of my "kids" fell asleep!

We had such a late lunch, that we decided to have the persimmon salsa for dinner, so here are the promised pictures.

Just like any other salsa (I think it's more of a guacamole because I didn't have any tomatoes): onion, garlic, cilantro, black beans, avocado, green chili, lemon juice and salt. I just added persimmons! Very tasty!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a great first Christmas in Seoul. The kids were so excited about all of their gifts!

Kennedy had been asking for a bed for Baby Jane and Santa delivered. She was quite surprised that Santa delivers presents made in Korea when you live in Korea. Who knew?

Cade was equally excited about his golf clubs. Without uncles around to actually open the toys as they unwrap them, they plowed through the unwrapping pretty quickly.

We were very blessed to have our friends and family send us so many packages from the States!

Remember how I felt guilty about the lack of toys the kids had when we first moved here?

I definitely don't have to worry about that anymore!

And Eric and I had been getting pretty tired of the small number of books we'd brought with us (about 20), but we scored on books this Christmas, too!

And many, many thanks for the kids' clothes and pajamas! They are so expensive here!

Aunt Nancy could tell we needed more cookie cutters if we're going to keep baking the way we have been!

Eric and I are really excited to finally have our own Bananagrams game!

The book from Uncle Alan and Aunt Molly was a huge hit! They love it and it brought tears to my eyes hearing voices from home!

The caramel rolls turned out perfectly even with the adjustments I had to make.

And I decided to make persimmon salsa for an appetizer. It was delicious! I will be making more today, so I'll take a picture later. Let me just say that avocado, cilantro, black beans, and lemon juice made me feel like home and the persimmon was the perfect accompaniment. Yum!

We had some friends over in the afternoon and the kids had a great time playing with all of their new toys all day! We had bulgogi, rice, and salad for dinner. Not your traditional Christmas fare, but we don't very often have anything traditional for Christmas dinner anyway, so that's okay. Embracing the Korean traditions makes cooking a lot less stressful!

Some friends of our sent us a wonderful care package of some of the more "traditional" foods, but it didn't quite get here in time, so we'll enjoy it for New Years dinner instead. The only thing we were missing for Christmas was our family. It has been great to get to Skype with so many of you! We love you and miss you! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

It's 10:00 Christmas Eve. I'm exhausted, but here I sit, eating Santa's Christmas cookies, blogging, and waiting to make sure that Kennedy is asleep before I fill the stockings and bring out the rest of the presents. I just heard her yawn.

I have been busy today.

This morning while Eric Skyped with his family, I made Peppermint Bark.

And the dough for my mom's Caramel Rolls.

This afternoon, I put together the Caramel Rolls

for Christmas Day and New Years Day just like my mom always did.

Then I made the breakfast casserole for tomorrow while Eric and the kids picked up some groceries

and our Christmas Eve dinner...pork cutlets, kimbap, and rice from Kimbap Heaven.

That's right. We had Korean takeout for Christmas Eve dinner. We figured we'd better stick with the tradition.

Usually on Christmas Eve we spend so much time driving that we don't have time to eat dinner.

Tonight, we did one better than the Jack in the Box drive thru.

After church, we headed home and Kennedy put out the cookies for Santa while Cade threw a huge fit because he was so tired.

I think (for the most part) we were able to stay so busy today that we didn't even miss all of the things we usually do on Christmas Eve. But we sure do miss the people. Merry Christmas Eve!
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