Friday, December 30, 2011

Weekend 92 of 52+

Jeju Island: Marine Park with Trick Eye Museum, Glass Museum, Chocolate Musuem, Circus World, Boat Cruise, Sunset at Jungmun Beach

We hired a Christmas pension (what I would call a magical Christmas cabin) with Korrine and two more of Dan's fellow teachers, Heather and Jessica, and went to Korea's southern island, Jeju, for the holiday. In so doing, we accomplished our first flights and our first vacation with our sweetest son. I keep saying that he behaves much more readily in public than he does at home, and this trip only further proved this observation. From the moment we woke up on Friday morning, he could tell something was amiss. He was distracted by our excitement and especially by our sorting and packing. So he fussed around for the morning, but the second we took him out in public, he was smiling and charming away. While we were gone, he ate wonderfully and without complaint, he was sleeping through until 6:30 most mornings, and he cheered his way through every overstimulating situation. Today, our first day at home, and he's back to labored eating, and last night, our first night at home, he woke up for an hour at 2:30 (and the next night at 1, 2, 3, and 4, practicing counting, I suppose). He's a silly guy.

He definitely loves the attention of all of his aunties, and Korrine is so good with him. One day Dan and I both accidentally fell asleep, and I woke up to see Korrine and Joah quietly chatting in the kitchen. She definitely taught him how to stick out his tongue last week, and he's been blowing raspberries with it since we got home.

It's not just aunties who puff up his ego. We were at a galbi-tang (beef rib stew) restaurant, and a waitress came and swooped him up off the floor and walked around with him. We even watched him shake hands with the chef. And on our last day, we took a boat ride that culminated in a mob of people taking his picture as we de-boated. It was completely insane, and he loved it.

Jeju was wonderful, and, of course, it's supposed to be a magical little island. I would liken it to the island baby of Florida and Kentucky. It is notched by jagged rock formations and carpeted in orange groves. Volcanoes were responsible for much of its existence, so porous lava rock is everywhere and celebrated. We set a relaxing pace for ourselves and got to pet dolphins and blow glass, sample chocolate and watch the sun set. Our only troubles were with grumpy taxi drivers, but that sort of thing happens everywhere.

My favorite part of all of it, though, was just how much it felt like a vacation. I guess I have never really needed a vacation before. Turning into the mom version of human is such a feat, though, that I was ready for a break from the driving beat of every day (weekends don't seem to exist for nursing infants). The fact that everyone else made meals and allowed me to just sit and take care of the baby was such a gift. On Christmas, we stayed home and baked cookies and ate cookies and watched Home Alones and did present exchanges, both proper and White Elephant. This year's Thanksgiving and Christmas have been the most authentic holidays since we left home for Seoul. Such a boon.

Speaking of cookies, though, I think Joash is going to have quite the adjustment period as his food slowly morphs back from spice and sugar into nutrients. So much cookie consumption.

But first, Joash in a box. A box that mailed him so many wonderful clothes for Christmas.

He stood for seconds by himself! And then he started to collapse.

So Korrine helped him back up. Joah is really going to miss his Auntie Roo, but at least the next time he sees her she will have birthed him a playmate.

Our baby's first flight was much better than his second. He ate and slept right away. The return flight was not without tears, but he did sleep through the landing.

After the hour-long and uneventful flight to Jeju, we took an hour-long bus to our sector of the island. We were exploring the southwest. We tried to reenact Joah's bedtime routine on the bus, with a midair outfit change and Dan reading to him from a video game manual.

Sleeping in the space beneath the stairs. He doesn't even get a cupboard like Harry Potter.

I really enjoyed our early mornings with Joah. There was no rush to get a shower before Dan had to run to work. There was no internet to check emails and blogs. Dan and I just snuggled together with our half naked baby and laughed as he gurgled out loud and threatened to wake everyone else up.

Baby and alcove dressed for the season.

While we were waiting for Korrine and Jessica's turn to pet the dolphins, we went to the basement of Marine Park and took pictures in the Trick Eye Museum. Photos by Dan.

Angel baby. Photo by Dan.

Help, there's a (covert) shark! And not just help, I'm wearing winter clothes on a tropical island and probably dying from heatstroke. Photos by Dan.

Future Olympian.

We started having him on our shoulders, and he really seems to enjoy the higher vantage point.

Trying to get him to kiss the dolphins.

Right, so, turns out he hates them.

Korrine pushing the limits of pregnancy with heavy lifting and fraternization with mercury-laden sea creatures.

Glossy dolphin in a goopy tank.

Korrine and baby Q checking out some fish.

Fancy wall of fish. The nicest aquarium we ended up seeing in Jeju was at the airport Starbucks. It was so bright and clean and had all kinds of neon coral swaying in the stream.

First visions of sea life. I really want to get him a betta to watch.

In what Dan kept calling the "Nemo tank."

Dan documented as much as he could of Korrine and Jessica's dip with the dolphins. Photos by Dan.

We had a white Christmas after all! Even when it wasn't sticking, it was snowing. And snow falling on palm trees is a funny thing to see.

Joash on his first Christmas morning. He's got a candy cane holster and a name tag that reads: Little Helper.

Snow grove. Photo by Dan.

We snuck out for a quick Christmas walk in the snow. Joah didn't care much for the frozen perspiration landing all over his face, and the wind got pretty kicky after a while. I think next year he'll already feel completely differently. Photos by Dan.

Dan was impressed by what he figured was the specially Korean foresight of popping windshield wipers in the snow. I told him that I, who am from Florida, had been doing that for years in Cincinnati, from which he is native. Photos by Dan.

One of the two resident dogs. Photo by Dan.

Living arrangements. Photos by Dan.

Snowy seat.

A tree and its afterlife. Photos by Dan.

Our cabin with stockings and bough of holly hung. Dan tore that down from somewhere. We didn't ask questions.

Dan got a more complete picture with his iPod.

Food prep. We ate the best vacation food of our lives. Dan made quesadillas, Jessica made pineapple fried rice and bacon wrapped vegetables, Heather made pancakes and garlic shrimp and tons of the aforementioned cookies (anise wreaths, gingerbread men, peppermint chocolate cookies, along with Korrine's apricot balls and white Christmas bars, and our buckeyes), Korrine made spaghetti bolognese and a big salad. We only ate out twice.

A Christmas morning nap for the excitable baby. Photo by Dan. He struggled with naps on the island. Luckily the pension's couch was almost exactly like the couch on which he naps at home, so he logged a couple hours there.

Our Santa wearing the baby's Santa hat.

Everyone got to pose with Santa and their stuffed stockings. Heather and Santa.

Joah with Santa (whose tiny hat fell off).

Jessica and Santa.

Korrine and Santa with Jessica giving her a last minute stocking stuffer. Jessica bought everyone a true spork, double ended with a spoon and a fork. She also bought the girls different lotions.

Joash performing his duties as helper and giving Dan his presents.

Extra helpful at doling out drool for presents.

At least he really did move this paper out of the way.

Helping himself. Pulling a ribbon off of his own present.

He was overwhelmingly infatuated with the shiny, crinkly wrapping paper.

To the point that every other picture is a picture of him making cross-eyes at it. Left and Right shoes from Heather.

Things to chew: paper and a new teething rattle from Jessica.

White Elephant picnic of presents. Everyone got such legitimate gifts for this, while I was thinking they were supposed to be funny duds. I brought off-brand Spam for one of mine. Everyone else was giving away pillow covers and bags of chocolate and ear muffs.

Dan with warm ears.

The baby started to crash.

And a roll in a shiny pile did him in.

But after a nap (or as I like to call them, reset buttons), he was back at it.

Buckeye blitzing, or should I say Blitzen, or should I say Blixem?

Gingerbread fun with Jessica and Heather.

Dan dressed the wall, and Joah set to tearing it down.

He did eventually succeed in pulling down the pink paper.

Some of our amazing food.

Next morning's nap, also in arms.

We went to the Glass Museum, and the weather would not cooperate with Jessica for a nice gazebo picture.

Hall of Mirrors type thing.

I am the worst at selcas.

Glass ducks.

Glass receptacles.

Glass giraffes.

Glass ornaments.

Dan making instagrams.

Striped glass.

Smelling glass flowers.

Heather is a very cute poser.

Jessica hopped a fence for this one.

Teardrop forest.

Dan with the offspring that almost cost us an extra full-priced ticket. After much groaning and a little arguing, we got them to waive the ridiculous fee for our infant who spent the entire time hidden and napping inside Dan's sweatshirt. There was a bit of an air of swindling desperation on the island, but we tried to roll with it as well as we could, while, at the same time, making sure not to be taken advantage of.

Christmas colors in nature.

Glass pyramid. We threw no stones.

Grass in glass.

Family photo in a mushroom field. Photo by Heather.

Everyone got to try out glass blowing (for free), and Korrine, Heather, and Jessica made their own vases with surprising ease and swiftness (for $20).

Jessica's trial run.

Me and my baubles. Photos by Dan.

The museum part of the Chocolate Museum sucked. It was frigid and ugly, and there was a room brimming with the most hideous, kitschy Christmas collection in the world. But, the free samples were exceptional.

When they took my baby. He was wearing his most masculine outfit this day, and they asked if he was a boy or girl. They said they thought he was dressed like a boy but too beautiful to be one. Sorry, Joah.

Jeju is one of the new 7 Nature Wonders of the World. It was pretty pretty.

This was at Circus World, a show with Chinese acrobats and a motorcycle show. It really did exceed our minds, but photos weren't allowed. Also, Joash needed a nap during the acrobatics, so I had to sway him to sleep.

Curbside waiting for the taxi.

We finished our island getaway with activities on and near the water. We took a little boat cruise to a big lava rock. Leaving port. Photos by Dan.

There were tiny people fishing. Photo by Dan.

Lava caves and rock face. Photos by Dan.

Halla Mountain. Photo by Dan.

Carved out. Photos by Dan.

Formations. Photos by Dan.

Dan, Jessica, and Heather braved the outdoor elements to get pictures. Photos by Dan.

Goodbye rocks. Photo by Dan.

Open/Close. Photos by Dan.

This man, dressed in drag in hanbok, gesticulated lewdly, sang loudly, and told jokes about sex that woke up the baby. It was bizarre.

But not nearly as bizarre as the flock of Koreans admiring our baby. Some of them even reached out and posed him. I mean...

Our concluding sunset on Jungmun Beach. Such a lovely way to end a lovely trip. The beach was too rocky to access, but there were bridges built along it like a tree house.

Dan with our little lamb.

Be careful, sail boat! This is one inhospitable shore.

Lava rocks are cool. I yanked one for myself from the teardrop forest.

I would like an ant farm-style volcano, so I can watch it work and play.

Me and the sun. Photo by Dan.

I miss it already.


  1. Your baby makes the most amazing faces. I woke Eric up I was laughing so loudly at some, and then he appreciated them greatly.

    This is one helluva vacation. Nicely done.

    Motherhood suits you so well. Beautiful!

  2. Thanks, Melissa! I'm glad Eric found waking worth his while.

    I am enjoying motherhood, but, look at the kid I got. What else could I do?