Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I am on night one of Dan's two weeks away. He is elsewhere in Korea until Friday night, and he leaves on Saturday morning for Mongolia. I won't blame him for my horrible headache/borderline migraine, but I do think it might be his fault. I always seem to get sick while he's away, sometimes moderately, others apocalyptically. I got the baby down, though, and I have my cold compress (old tube sock stuffed with ice cubes) tied tight around my head. I feel pretty good actually. We took Joash back to the giant Christmas tree at the Millennium Hilton. Our friends Greg and Karmen met up with us for Christmas and dinner afterward. It was such a different experience with a toddler. He didn't seem to notice the tree much, but he completely loved the trains. I picked him up to try to show him another part of the train set, and he yelled in my face, thinking I was taking him away for good. Then he ambled back over to his original vantage point, and we camped out for a bit. There are two types of trains, bullet trains and traditional trains. The bullet trains come about twice as often. Every train he greeted with the same exclamation. My only regret is that we went in the evening so we didn't have enough time for him to lose interest. Next year we'll have to make a day of it. Dan and I can bring books or projects and get work done while a train babysits our baby.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

We make our weekly pilgrimage to Taco Bell, about a half hour walk, depending on our enthusiasm. We have started fortifying ourselves with ddeokbokki and ddeokgochi from a little rice cake shop on the way. It is one of our better ideas. Over the weekend, we took the camera to make use of a moderate investment and to take pictures of some of the trees. I don't know if it's all of Korea, but Anyang has such a variety of trees, which make for nice layers of variegated foliage.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two Walks

Walking around. Falling down.

He carried this pot around for much of the day. I'm not sure what he thought it should be doing that it wasn't. That happens a lot, though.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The strangest thing just happened. Dan is working late tonight, and Joash and I were having our pre-bed cuddle, looking out the window at our dark city in the rain. For whatever reason, I decided I'd snuggle until he wouldn't let me anymore, and, before I knew it, he had snuggled himself to sleep. We make liberal use of the breastfeeding in this family. I never saw any reason not to (I don't adhere to any of the parenting religions: whispering, montesorring, attaching. I adhere to getting through the days). I like the proximity, the ease, the regular and gentle admonition to take a break. Mastitis taught me early on to welcome breaks or suffer the consequences. Anyhow, I can count generously on one hand the number of bedtimes he's seen unassisted by breastfeeding, and now on one finger how many times it happened here at home and not in transit after an evening out.

And of course I cried. He is growing up, and tonight I felt it for the first time the way people are always talking about. It reminded me so much of the morning naps we'd take in Hapjeong when his whole body fit on half of mine, how sweet they were without fail, regardless of how many cups of chocolate I'd needed that day or how many bathroom sob breaks I'd taken, how many pleas I'd made to Dan or my mother about my ineptitude. I can barely remember any of that already.

Last year I read The Pearl by Steinbeck. It was small enough to cart around everywhere, and I'd read it when Joash and I were sequestered in some dirty bathroom stall for breastfeeding. I wanted those magic words to whisper in his ear and calm him, the Song of the Family to keep us all from harm. I wanted to feel like a real and primal mother. And I didn't then, but I think now I'm really starting to. I know this kid. It feels natural to nurture him, even as he outgrows his physical need for me. We have the same sense of humor; we like the same foods. We're so related. Until a week from now when everything changes again, but right now I'm feeling good about feeling good.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I dressed Joash like a duck this morning, mostly so we could compare pictures to him dressed like a duck a year ago. Last year we made him a Mallard, though, and this year we went with the standard Pekin duck. My favorite book growing up was The Story About Ping, which I always remembered being called Ping the Duck. And I also really liked a non-fiction children's book about how ducks were waterproof. I think I got that for free with another book called Germs Make Me Sick! And, now we're thinking about childhood, I have "I'm Proud to be Me" stuck in my head. Anyway, here's my baby dressed like a duck.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dan is in Japan for the week. The most unfortunate part of that statement is its coincidence with one of Joah's hard teething weeks. He teethes slow and constant. He is not the kind of baby who accidentally gets teeth without noticing. This has proven especially true of the lower molars that have been coming in for months. He greets teething with whines and whimpers, the frequency of which are matched only by outbursts of diarrhea. I cope with sugar and caffeine. Unsurprisingly, we spur one another on to grumpiness. Yesterday was matchless misery. This morning wasn't great. But this afternoon was sweet and fun, with a walk in the park and shared banana ice cream in the reading chair. I don't know if it's him or me what changed, but at least sweet begets sweet like sour does its own kind.

Last week we were in Busan on Dan's working holiday. October has been nonstop for him. I think he's been home for maybe one weekend this month. It was nice to be a part of that part of his life. Joash and I hung out on the beach and were mobbed by school children and religious cults, neither of whom seemed ever to have seen or touched or poked or pinched a white baby before. The cult told us about Mother God, Father God's wife, and, kind as they were, I just never understand that sort of obligational evangelism, the kind done for fear of retribution, I figure. If I wasn't already a Christian, I would just have been irritated that they kept me from enjoying an afternoon on the beach with my son. Because I was already a Christian, I had no need of their proffered heresy. Oh well. They were very nice.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Joash and I are in Dan's hotel room in Busan, right on Haeundae Beach, waiting for Dan to come home from setting up for his training. Twilight is the only English thing on TV, so we are watching it for familiar company. Joash is making varied use of the hotel room as obstacle course after we moved one mattress from platform to floor for him to sleep on. So there are three bed structures pushed up against each other like stair steps, and he likes climbing from one to the next. He has already scoped out the safe with its beeping blue numbers, the bathroom with its cloth slipper set, the lamp with its noisy shade. He just found the pull cord for the lamp and, while extinguishing its light, looked up at me in amazement. I've already hidden two remote controls. He's in a really bad mood today, probably on account of the two bottom molars pushing up hard inside his gums. Poor him, poor me, poor us. He likes to teethe while traveling.

If you need a pajama, they have them in a cabinet in the lobby.

Ooh, Twilight has progressed to my favorite scene. "I know what you are--vampire!" It is as terrible as it is nothing else because it is only terrible. Henceforth, the word twilight can only ever be used in humorous or pretentious literature to describe evening, as it has been so sullied by this book and film franchise that no one can take the word seriously again.

Oh, the things we are about to lose forever in this hotel room.

Here he is rejecting his bedtime story several nights ago. It is the thing he does with most dedicated consistency.

His stalwart papa keeps trying, though, even as we sense the babe openly mocking us.

I just realized I have no way to get the peanut butter and jelly onto the bread for his makeshift dinner. Well, fingers, I guess.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Self Stander

This is his new trick, standing up without the aid of human or furniture. He basically yogas into a standing position. He's so pro.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We met our first bully. His bully's refrain: 여기 올라 안데요! (Do not climb up here!). And he says it to my sweet boy whose only offense is being young and a little bit timid and a little bit in the way. Joash takes it in stride, though, and gets back at him by fearfully screaming in his face whenever he comes too close. And I managed the situation by avoiding that particular playground whenever I notice him there, which seems to be always when we want to be there all day all the time.

But we met a friend! A mom friend in Anyang. We were on our way home from the far playground where no one ever plays but Joash, and we ran into a mother of twins. I noticed her baby girl had blonde hair, and I knew that meant she knew English (American husband). And we chatted for a while and exchanged phone numbers. Isn't that just something? I never dated anyone, so I don't know how long to go before calling. Maybe next week?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kid in a Kid Cafe

I finally figured out how to embed this video from Facebook so my mom and dad, who have no Facebook, can watch it. This is the amazing kid cafe in Doota in Dongdaemun. There is also a zip line and a trampoline. Kids in Korea get all the good toys.

Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Make Toasted Coconut Butter from a Whole, Fresh Coconut

This post has nothing to do with this blog other than the fact that it is what I did today. Months ago, we found coconuts at the local Lotte Department Store. We bought two because they were only a couple dollars each. Living in a place without a ready supply of coconut butter, I knew you could make it yourself out of coconut flakes, so I figured I'd try to make it out of a whole coconut. I checked the internet, but I couldn't find any step by step instructions about how to make coconut butter from a coconut. Trial, error, flesh wounds, and I totally know how to do it now. I am putting it here so it will be somewhere on the internet.

First you take a screwdriver and a hammer, and you bust a hole through one (or all) of the dimples on the top of the coconut. Then drain the coconut water and cook rice with it or something. Yum, coconut rice.

Next, put the coconut, hole(s) side down, in a 400°F/200°C oven and cook it for 20-25 minutes. This loosens the shell from the coconut flesh.

Let it cool so you can handle it, then bust it around with the hammer some more until the shell breaks completely off. Usually it will crack some in the oven, and it just takes a couple good whacks to get the shell off.

Then, and here's where I start having pictures, peel the skin off the coconut flesh. I just use a vegetable peeler.

Quarter the coconut and pulse it up in your food processor.

Spread it on a baking sheet. I like to use parchment paper because it makes it easier to funnel back into the food processor.

Marvel at your baby son's creative vision (and assertiveness) in adding the coconut shell to the picture at the last minute.

Toast the coconut at 200°F/100°C for a couple hours until it starts to turn golden brown. You have to get the moisture out of the coconut flakes or the butter won't ever form. The first time I attempted homemade coconut butter, I blended coconut flesh for two solid days, wearing out my food processor and my patience every quarter hour or so. If you're struggling to blend the coconut, my advice is to toast it a little longer. Of course, your coconut butter won't be white, but it will be toasty tasty.

And then start blending and scraping. Here it's starting to oil up a bit.

This is how you know you're on the right track. Eventually I switched blades to the one with closer proximity to the floor of the processor. I don't know what it's actually for. I like to process two coconuts at a time, usually, because it makes more, obviously, but also because it fills my food processor perfectly so that I don't even have to scrape down the sides, which is, of course, the most loathsome part of the whole operation.

One somewhat small coconut will yield slightly more than 1/2 cup of coconut butter, I think. I didn't measure it, but this is a really small jar. And next to it is the only plant that's ever grown under my tutelage. (Mom, buy a succulent!)

Toasted coconut butter from a whole, fresh coconut, and they said it couldn't be done. Literally, someone did say that on one of the blogs I found.

Lens cap for size.

Little oily bubbles. Joash and I like to eat it on toast or as coconut butter and jelly sandwiches. Also, make peanut butter cups with it or some chocolate bars.

I bought the last coconut at Home Plus, just like Jimmy Buffett. I'm afraid it might be the last ever, as they have already stopped selling them at Lotte Department Store. I can't imagine what Koreans are doing with whole coconuts. A boy and his dad were joking around with the coconut when I arrived, and I thought they might snatch it from me, but the dad just pretended to crack it over his kid's head.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The drunk roofies returned, this time at a 2AM, the girl's shout-talking fused into a dream I was coincidentally having about a loud girl screaming, and I opened the window screen, stuck my head out and yelled, "SHUT UP!" It echoed quite satisfyingly off the surrounding valley of apartment buildings. And then they collected their bottles and stumbled through the hallway and made their way somewhere that is not directly adjacent to my open window because the apartment complex deactivated our air conditioning like this is 1984. The book, not the year. I have not read it, but I bet dystopian novels are full of details about apartment complexes deactivating air conditioners based on the time of year, not based on the weather. But now I have to go to bed in case it happens again.

Friday, October 5, 2012

So, Dan's been gone 5 days, today will be 6, and Joash has been up an hour early for each of them. We jigger the bedtime this way and that. We do soothing wind down routines. We camp out by cribs exhorting sleep. None of it elicits later wake ups. This morning we switched boobs for bananas, as he is a very dedicated breastfeeder. We'll see if he decides how lame it is to wake up early for bananas instead of snuggly, cuddly breast milk. He has already done the unusual thing of falling back to sleep at only 7 AM. Usually he is up for his day like gangbusters.

Meanwhile, I reserve the right to declare any day beginning before 5:30 AM a coffee day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Playground Politics

Joash and I have been going to the playground in the afternoon to ease the bored/grumpy time between second nap and dinnertime. He loves it. The second he spots the plastic turrets, he kicks around to be let down. Yesterday, a bunch of big kids were running all over the slide structure, but that's where he wants to be, so we walked up the baby slide (he crawls on, then puts his arms up so I'll help him, the assumption of babies is so sweet), and then he crawled to the barred bridge and walked back and forth while the big kids ran to the tunneled slide. At one point, he was about to cross from one side to the other, and a kid found him right in between, right in the way. And the look on his face, like he didn't know what to do, mild panic, broke my heart. He wasn't in danger, and he wasn't even particularly upset, it was just my first realization that he will be stuck somewhere and not know what to do, he will be in the way somewhere, he won't be welcome somewhere. Such an ache to be a mother. But I guess I'm supposed to prepare him to conquer those situations.

Well, anyway, I was trying to get him out of the way, because one girl seemed to be getting annoyed by the baby. It just so happened that right before he finally crawled over to a spot where I could grab him, a little boy, playing a troll, I think, had included him in their game by very lightly tapping him on the back with his stick and growling at him. It was so cute, and I so appreciated this kid's inclusive behavior. But, the way it looked to his mom was that he hit the baby with a stick and I got mad and left. So she ran over to me and apologized in perfect English. I tried to assure her that we weren't leaving because of that and that it was actually quite fun, but I think we got the little boy in trouble. I am new to playground parenting. I guess I'll have to get good at it.

Now I realize I should have begged that lady to be my friend, as I have no mom friends in Anyang. Maybe we'll see them later on in the week. I'm trying to go as much as possible while Dan's gone.

Shrieks of joy.

And here he is pondering the hilarity of crackers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

There is nothing quite like being awakened in the middle of the night by the relentless shouts of a person completely lacking self-control. I'm talking, of course, about drunk people. Last night, a group of several drunk men and one gratingly loud young lady perched on our roof (so, maybe 30 feet or so from our open window), and, for at least an hour between 3:30 and 4:30 AM had drunk and gratingly loud interactions. After pregnancy reorganized my organs and motherhood rewired my brain, any time I wake up now, I do it to the fullest. I wake up wide awake. We closed our windows and cooled our air electronically, but somehow the group of revelers managed to get louder. I told Dan to go give them a good, 야! 하지마! (Hey! Stop!), but he thought better of it.

What I really wonder is why the guy squatting in the rooftop storage closet didn't tell them to shut up. A couple months ago, after putting the laundry out to dry, Joash and I started to notice this guy hanging out in a closet with the door cracked, watching TV. I just figured he was a lazy janitor. Then we noticed he'd installed some mosquito netting, leaving wide open his door so we could spy the bedding on the floor and some clothes hanging behind the TV. Then we noticed he'd carved a hole out of the door and installed some sort of circulation fan. Anyhow, I just wonder why this roof dweller didn't kick the drunk kids off his lawn.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A week ago we accidentally typhooned our toddler. After working through the weekend, Dan decided to take the Monday off, just as typhoon Sanba decided to take the Monday on. We usually do our weekly grocery shopping on Sunday, but it is never ideal after a long, full day in Sinchon, complete with two 1.5 hour commutes. We figured we'd go Monday after lunch at Taco Bell. But, of course, the typhoon.

So it was pouring the whole day. Maybe you saw the picture of our baby wrapped in a yellow trash bag, marketed as a poncho? We wrapped him last Monday, but the wind was such that its efficacy was severely compromised. So I picked him up, juggling an umbrella, and we all trudged through the storm. We made it to Home Plus, took a brief nap in the attached Baskin Robbins dining area and enjoyed the dry respite, but it was soon enough time to get back home. We made it just past the parking lot when a tunnel of wind whipped our umbrellas above our heads and more or less left us drenched. So, rather than break our umbrellas for one twenty minute walk in a rain storm, we put them away and used our strength of character to brave the weather. Joash seemed to know how important it was for him to comply, and I clutched him, tight as I could, on the whole haul home. It was then that we realized that if it had been called hurricane Sanba, we wouldn't have gone out at all. Funny how language affects your life choices.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Toddler!

He woke up early this morning (5:00) to prove it, and now he toddles.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guess what we did from nine to noon? My baby slept! And I watched him! (Along with sundry episodes of B-List celebreality shows. If you are a random and/or questionably a celebrity, I will watch your reality show.) Before any mothers of sleepless children get discouraged by this three hour nap, take heart, it has never happened before, and I think it was directly related to yesterday's activities, which included accidentally auditioning for Korea's Got (Foreign) Talent. We spent the entire day crowded in two tiny adjacent rooms at KBS Studios.

I say that we accidentally auditioned because we thought we were just auditioning for a talent show like the Lotte World Talent Show with Foreign Friends, which we ridiculously won 2 years ago. We figured it would be similar enough and that we'd at least get some participation prizes. But, it was both more and less legitimate than that contest. More legitimate as there was an audition process with separate rounds and not just a sign up sheet. More legitimate as it would result in a live and then televised concert. Somewhat less legitimate because they admitted up front that they wanted fun people, not just good singers. There was lots of dancing and karaoke to Gangnam Style. Meanwhile, Dan played guitar and I sang this song by a Korean folk singer from the 90s. We were obviously out of place, and, depending on the situation, my personality ranges from moderate to crippling introversion. That's pretty much the opposite of fun. It is unfortunate that we didn't win any gift cards, less unfortunate that we don't have to do the concert. We met good people (including a Korean American friend of one of the performers who was unceremoniously roped into translating the entire event even though she had no professional affiliation with KBS, a 14 year old Korean Kiwi who showered Joash and us with polite attention, and a French girl with a Korean major), learned how to occupy a 13 month old for 7 hours in 3 square feet of wiggling space, and ate Pad Thai for lunch. I look forward to seeing if Joash makes it on TV.

We ended the night with late night (I mean, 9:30 is late for dinner, right?) takeout bulgogi and dwenjang jiggae, which, for whatever reason, the restaurant thought we'd want to cook ourselves, but isn't that just the way after a long day? Fresh food is better than immediate food, I guess.

This is obviously unrelated, but I guess it would feature on Joah's reality show. He helps sort laundry.

And then he helps hang it up.

Later he provides me with extra chores by pulling out percussive kitchen wares. I don't mind, though, because I am so excited about him acting like such a kid.

Freestyle crawling over to me.

So he could make this face. Somehow he learned to make a fake smile. He crinkles up his eyes and throws his mouth open when he thinks he's done something funny. And he has. And my laughter sets off a cyclical chain of events that keeps both of us laughing for at least several minutes at a time. It's perfect. I am only today beginning to think he is mimicking the face I make when I brace for him to accidentally hit me with something or kiss/bite me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sometimes I Knit

It is likely that everyone reading this blog, aside from people here accidentally, knows that I knit things, but for whatever reason, I don't usually post any of it, except for on Facebook. At first, they had nothing to do with Korea or with weekend activities, but now this is just a baby blog anyway, and I actually knit a lot of baby things. So, maybe I will make my way back through the baby sweaters, socks, and hats and post them or maybe I'll just move forward from now. I knit Joash a soft and squishy cable sweater, and I am hoping it will propel summer into fall, if only by the power of suggestion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Birthday and House Tour

Baby boy just had his birthday party on Saturday, and I will call him a baby until he toddles on his own and achieves that nomenclature. There were enough last minute cancellations due to prior engagements that we started to think not many people would come, but then the exact right number of people came, and everyone was so sweet to our kid, and it was the kind of thing that just leaves you feeling very lucky and glad.

Because we cleaned so well and decorated for the party, I finally took apartment pictures, so I'll put those here, too.

But, first, please enjoy this video of a baby repeatedly banging his head into a window.

New Blog Name

We changed the name of our blog because we've spent way more than 52 weekends here, obviously, and now the whole thing is pretty much about our baby. Sorry everyone who hates baby pictures, but you're welcome to all the grandparents out there. Anyhow, now it's Agabang in Anyang. Agabang is actually a baby brand here, and it means baby (aga) room (bang). Anyang is where we live.

Blogger just let me change the website, too, so I guess that is going to screw up everyone's RSS? I guess we'll see. I didn't think it would be that easy to make such a big deal change. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Australia! We did it. I can hardly believe it's come and gone, but there it is, already a week in the past. I have spent most of this week's nights readjusting the baby to sleeping in his own room and most of this week's days getting ready for his little Yellow Birthday Party tomorrow, boiling eggs, baking Anzacs, slowly building up a stockpile of ice. We figured we needed a theme for the party, and I couldn't help but notice that all of his preferred foods fall within the yellow/tan color spectrum. Bananas, potatoes, hummus, crackers. So we are having variations of most of that food tomorrow for a couple of friends who will be wearing yellow. Do you know how hard it is to find yellow things right now? Everyone has green, pink, and blue things, but no yellow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My baby did baby steps! Last night and then again this morning to prove it wasn't a fluke.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

To celebrate his first year, we made a video of Joah's first day. It's really long, so you're probably going to want to be related to us if you commit to watching it. There is music, but it's quiet for a while, so you might want to turn it up to hear cute baby sounds in the background. Congratulations to us for our first successful year of parenting. Congratulations to him for putting up with us for that long.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Four of Dan's Instagrams from our vacation while we're overlaying in Malaysia..for 10 hours. Oh, mercy. We just sustained the worst 8 hour flight of our lives with our sick and teething 1-year-old, prefaced by the worst blowout on a metal airport bench in history. I ended up carrying him to the changing room wrapped in a newspaper. Truly he was set to have a great flight, and suddenly he came down with a fever, runny nose, cough, and the resultant discomfort. He kept wanting to sleep but not lasting for more than 15 minutes. Poor babe. But we survived, didn't we?

Swings like a big kid.

Sightseeing like a big kid.

Best-friending like a big kid.

Drying off like a big kid. A real big kid, as it was his birthday. Our baby has had a birthday! Who can believe a thing like that?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

I have to get these pictures up during the last few minutes of nap time because we are about to fly to Australia by way of Malaysia. Fun! No time for talking, just looking.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I have the worst deathbed timing. My last major bout of food poisoning came when I was pregnant and our water had just been turned off for leak management (because buildings in Korea are built only with hindsight) while we maintained bathroom operations out of a huge bucket full of water. This time Dan was in Gwangju for a days long business trip. Each time the culprit has been chicken gimbap. Don't eat the chicken gimbap, you guys. Chicken is too scurrilous. You know that GS 25 isn't air conditioned half the day, and we've all pulled too many lukewarm sodas out of convenience store fridges. That chicken is just sitting there vacillating between its safe and unsafe meat temperatures, slowly turning into a poison that will level you to the ground while you have a crawling baby to corral. I couldn't even sit up for all of Friday, let alone the let alones.

But, look, I didn't die! I discovered how to trick a retching stomach out of recidivism (apparently you don't eat or drink for two hours after expelling your innards so as not to re-trigger the expelling of your innards). I found another use for diapers. I learned how good Joah mind me when the bathroom proves too far. And, at least for a day or two, I hyper-valued so many things about regular life, chief among them this babe, but also just walking to another room without feeling faint.

Speaking of this babe, he likes to play hide and seek with the curtains in the living room. Especially these curtains because of the stroller, boxes, luggage, and musical instruments stored behind them.
  We were watching some Sesame Street video with characters who kept repeating the word "radio," and he started sounding out. He's such a smarty pants.
  Swoopy baby profile.
Sitting by the fan, catching the wind.

And here's something, if your baby is a lunatic, as most babies are, and keeps waking up all night, huddled in a corner, clutching the footboard of his crib, maybe he doesn't know how to lay back down in order to put himself to sleep, and you should probably spend a night encouraging him to let go and lay down without physically re-positioning him yourself, and then everyone's lives (and sleep) will improve at least until the next thing happens that re-renders sleep insignificant to your infant son.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

He can't sleep, but he can back himself off the bed. That's something.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On the heels of the total annihilation of any semblance of sleep routine come more sleep pictures. We had a day with no naps and several nights of only 9 total, incredibly disjointed hours of sleep...for the baby. I have been averaging probably 3-6 with a sometime bonus hour if Dan is able to to play with Joash before work. It has been a merciless adventure like the Oregon trail. But I feel good about tonight. We are going to shore up our bedtime routine, permanently including baths and being vigilant about story time. Meanwhile, solids three times a day (including new things like blueberries and mushy peas, which I myself choked down gagging and groaning while he proudly gobbed them into his mouth) with enough time elapsed before bed to avoid nighttime gas (for my notoriously gassy, explodey offspring). We'll do a Dr. Sears approved pass off to Dad before bedtime, which means that Dan gets to put him in the crib with the admonition to "go to sleep, it's bedtime." And, most importantly, I got my right attitude back, and I had 16 ounces of coffee drink today. It isn't easy, but it's possible, right?

This is the hardest kind of sleeper to move, for cuteness and logistics.

Homemade sleep mask.

Some of Dan's phone pictures:

So serious about his biscuits. If he sees the McVitie's box, he squeals or shrieks, contingent upon our generosity with said biscuits.

He definitely enjoys the train more when he is unwrapped. All the better to stare and paw at people with.

He's a natural model.

And an avid crawler. I had a dream last night that he started walking. I can't even believe I experienced enough REM sleep to dream. Anyhow, I wouldn't mind a walker. He sure is sticky enough in this hot, humid summer to have steady footing. His knees and wood floors work in tandem like brand name Velcro.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Joash is in his last baby month, month 11, and he is set to turn one when we visit Australia (and Quinn and Korrine) next month. I would say that I can't believe it, but I have been awake for most minutes of these last 11 months, so I can actually believe it pretty well, and, as such, I don't feel like I missed much. I still can't believe that we made a human. That's still the weird part of it all.

Today he has a fever, so he is acting like he likes me lots and lots. He didn't even destroy my block towers seconds after I built them.

Anyhow, here are some cute pictures.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Joash is in, what I hope will prove to be, a phase of somewhat constant fussiness throughout his days. Every change of direction is met with sometimes mild, often urgent weeping and moaning, so I took video of it throughout the week (usually to complain to his dad). His excessive cuteness doesn't help with the crying, but it does make it easier to look back on fondly. It is because they can be so sour that babies prove to be so sweet.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Know You're Loved

Yesterday, after a long day at work not saying much and struggling to fill the day, I found myself ready for a normal conversation with my wife; not struggling to find the words she could understand or constantly feeling misunderstood myself. I meandered home, walking to the beat of some nice, but forgettable indie-pop. I was greeted with child-like enthusiasm from my child-like… child, a nicety rarely matched in my experience. We played for a bit while Serenity finished up the dinner we’d be sitting down to have moments later.

At the table, Serenity grumbled over the disappointing dessert she had made that day. She found the recipe on a vegan blog. There’s really nothing else to say right? Tofu, much to the chagrin of vegans worldwide, is not a superior replacement for dairy of any sort. All things considered, the lemon bars she had conjured up from the abysmal ingredients provided tasted just fine, but she revealed that the blogger had emphatically proclaimed them to be the “best lemon bars (she) had ever tasted.” I don’t mind vegans or vegan food, but I do mind when vegans pretend that their faux-food clearly tastes better than the original dishes they so poorly mimic. It struck a (petty) nerve.

My wife and I sat on the floor across from each other at opposite ends of our low-legged Korean dining table, our son picking at bits of food we had given him and minding his own business. I plummeted into a rant, raising my voice; my tone tense. I fruitlessly rambled on about the gall of vegans, hoping they would hear me the world over. It was an absurd moment that I indulged in to feel like I was the authority on something, no matter how feeble. That’s when it happened.

Joash had been facing me when I started stumping, and was sure that my spitfire speech was aimed squarely at him. A look of terror overcame him; one that I’ve never seen, and never want to see again. He was sure he had disappointed me in some way and tears apologetically fell down his face. I was horrified. He gasped for breathe in-between wailing and I picked him up, hoping he could feel assurance in my firm grip. I carried him to the mirror, nearly the length of the wall, in our entrance hallway. I saw how sorry he had been in his eyes and I wanted him to see it reflected in mine. It was an accident that could’ve been prevented had I not thought it funny to attack vegans as a whole with no representative present to provide a proper rebuttal.

This isn’t about vegans. It’s about heredity.

The whole fiasco hit me harder as the night passed. Serenity mentioned, in passing, that the episode reminded her of stories my mom had shared about me. I was (and am) an incurable crier. So paralyzing was the fear of disappointing anyone that I loved (or didn’t), I would breakdown at the slightest rise in either of my parent’s voices. I’m sure some might relate to an extent, but I was on another level. I desperately sought approval, to a fault. I needed everyone to be happy with me, each other, and life as we know it. I can vividly remember my mother giggling in disbelief at outbursts I would have, wondering if I would realize the world was, in fact, not ending. While some might still be thinking, “Yeah, I get it. Me too,” the difference may be that I am still very much like this. I stress when friendships get shaky or stagnant. I desperately need to fix my wife’s bad days, or I feel as if I’ve failed her. I need to know everyone’s okay and okay with me.

I watched myself breakdown last night. I saw the fear of one who desperately desires approval, but It’s not necessary for him or myself. I am wholeheartedly aware of the deep love and care many have for me, yet I still doubt. I want Joash to live confidently in the love that bursts forth for him from people all over the world (multiple continents, even). It pains me that my son may very well have inherited this frustrating, irrational trepidation from his father. I pray he hasn’t.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Just one video and one picture.

Petitioning my son to feed my narcissism.

I backpacked him for yesterday's walk to Taco Bell. It's quite difficult to tuck him in properly and would be completely impossible alone. I'm looking for a different wrap as he keeps packing on the kilos. I think I'll try a side wrap next.

(Parents, are you finding my Instagrams on the side of this page? I am not uploading and posting mine, so you just have to click on them yourselves.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We have friends who are always taking the loveliest pictures of their family, and every time I see them it reminds me to do them same. But I invariably forget to orchestrate it or to bring the tripod or even the camera when we go out. So we took a trip specifically to take family pictures, and it finally worked out.

But first, in case you don't just want to look at gratuitous pictures of our family posing in a park, here is our son, standing on his soapbox, having so much to say (no doubt quite eloquently) but without the aid of a translator. Sorry, son.

And here is what happened when he had his first watermelon slice. He grabbed it and started eating from the bigger, green end, and then he looked over and saw wise, little Joonsoo eating it properly. He got the hang of it by his second slice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

For Joah's father on Father's Day.

And for mine. I love you, Dad! You have never let me down, and the older I get, the more respect and admiration I have for you. The profundity of viewing your own parents through the eyes of parenthood is as esoteric as it is well documented, so I will only emphasize it here by way of simple reiteration.

And also, because how cute we are, Dan and I posted pictures of each other on our Instagrams yesterday:

The babe and me.

The babe and he.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Between the hours of 1 and 5 last night, I slept, at best, one half hour. Joash reached his apex of teething discomfort and refused to go back to sleep. We did the two hours of gently voiced commands to "go to sleep, it's bedtime." We did the half hour of feeding. We did some more of the other one. We got grumpy and woke up Dan (and, likely, the neighbors). Then finally, Joash crawled himself upside down in our bed and fell asleep. Today was an incredibly long day, during which the baby enjoyed himself for less than 20 minutes. His preferred method of comfort was being held from a standing position. All by the magical misery of teething.

I am too tired to care about the laundry mess, the toy mess, the puffed cereal mess, or the dish mess. I barely even care about writing this blog but that I have pictures my parents haven't seen. Also, I ate a lot of brownies today.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Something I really like about living in a foreign country is that language and cultural barriers sometimes breed surreality. Today Korrine and I were waiting on the elevator down the hall because the elevator nearest our apartment was too slow. We ran into an elderly man holding a pretty baby girl, about Joah's size. He was interested in us and our baby-having and wanted to connect. He spoke no words of English and what did come out of his mouth was nothing at all like Korean, but somehow he ushered us back into his apartment. It all happens so fast when it happens.

We walk in on a young woman sweeping the floor and two little girls sitting on the couch. The woman is his daughter and the girls are her daughters. She is Vietnamese and her parents are visiting for the month. She leads us to the couch, apologizing for the sweeping. Someone puts tea in our hands and both our babies are immediately cradled and then posed for many pictures. The only words exchanged are collective broken Korean and some English. We tried to leave several times, but they wanted to feed us oranges. One, two, three slices aren't enough. She has many oranges in the fridge; her husband works for Samsung. Joash forgets I exist and is chewing on rice cakes and bounding around in a baby walker. Miss Quinn is charming the grandmother. Korrine and I just keep looking at each other with the giddiness of bewilderment. Forty minutes later and Korrine announces that we'll be completing our E-Mart errand, but not before we deny an offer for coffee and, likely, endless other treats.

I guess we wanted to leave the whole time, but it was quite pleasant and so sweet and with that nervous twinge in your belly that tells you you're living. It made for a much better morning than just walking to E-Mart. And how else would I have learned to say "hi" in Vietnamese?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This weekend, the baby got two things.
A haircut.

And a visitor. Maya came to see the boy with no rat tails. He loved her so much that he laughed in her face more consistently than he's ever laughed for anyone before.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Over the weekend I accomplished an incredibly important thing. After two and a half years, many starts and stops, several life changes, including moving to Korea and re-spawning, I finally finished reading Great Expectations. It took Dan buying me a Kindle, us acquiring an hour long commute into Seoul, and several dedicated subway trips of reading, but I did it. And, no, I did not remember who Mr. Wopsle or Startop were by the end of it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

We had a date. Our first parental date in Korea, courtesy of our friends Justin and Katrina, who all but insisted that they watch Joash for our anniversary (and of course he napped for them! Whatever Mr. Anomalous Sleeper.). I don't really know what that means, date. I see Dan most of the time. I eat meals with him usually. Our baby is young yet that we can still have necessary conversations in front of him. I guess a date means that I get to wear a dress that doesn't offer full accessibility, that there are no undergarment prerequisites, that we can go to a movie and not worry about how loud anything is (the movie or the baby). It was nice. We took two taxi rides. Pretty romantic. And when we got home, Joash cried, and I have never yet been able to experience that kind of cry, the, "hey, you came back!" cry. Of course it was super sweet.

We had the longest day out today, and I fell asleep during some of it. And now I am falling asleep some more, and it hasn't even reached my self-imposed early bedtime. I think I just got too much of a good thing like Brother and Sister Bear. Man, Berenstain Bears is like the Cosby Show in that they are actually the Bear and Huxtable families respectively. What's up, media namers?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Joash is finally a cribbed kid. We reached our breaking point with the pulling him out of the corners of his room and the getting his fingers stuck under the door. And just when we needed a crib, a fairly priced one appeared on Craigslist, and I spammed the guy until he sold it to us. So that's been our last couple of days. Joash is very interested in his new furniture. He even sat it in and played for half the time it took me to do the earth's most hateful chore, the dishes. Oh, but how I do hate to do the dishes. He also likes playing in his room now because of the crib and because of the yarn wall we installed. He likes to pluck the yarn strands like a many stringed and soundless guitar. It's cute and other baby adjectives.

He has been hard teething for three weeks, now, and I think his teeth might be made out of molasses. Not because they are rotty but because they are so slow. I think today was the day, though, and can we get back to that jolly kid that everyone thinks he is all the time? Not that I require jolliness from him, but it is nice to see him have a happy afternoon every now and then. A sad baby is such a pitiful one.

Another thing I did recently was steam cook some cinnamon buns. We have no oven for a while, but who is raising an infant without regular dessert eating? So the internet told me how to steam some tasty treats. Luckily I just so happen to have a giant pot with a steam tray. Steamed cinnamon buns are just as good as baked ones because all you need for a cinnamon bun to be good is for it to have a center. Yum. Is there really no way to engineer stand-alone cinnamon bun centers?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dan has this real-type job now and is on a real-type business trip, so it's been just me and the teething Grumperstiltskin for the last couple days. This poor baby is the slowest teether I've ever known (never mind the only one), but I think I saw proof today. Today when he was up for the day at 5:30. Today when he slept for less than an hour between that 5:30 and 1 in the afternoon. Today when he was down for the night before 7, and I was sad to see him go. I had some good e-mail correspondence with my mom that really set me up for success on a day like today. Also, I made myself some ice cream to cope. I forgot to put my freezer bowls in the freezer yesterday, though, so it didn't quite set up. It's kind of like eating a bowl full of hot fudge, but there are worse things.

The hardest part of Danlessness is solitary long-distance subway riding. On Friday, we had to go to Hapjeong for our weekly playdate. Joash attracts a lot of attention. When he has two parents, we can share the brunt of the labor-intensive inquisition. Without Dan, I am left alone to fend off the ajummas, both bossy ("어, 추워!" He's cold!) and well-meaning ("인형 같에, 인형" He's a doll!), the college-aged girls ("어, 귀엽다!" He's cute!), and, oddly enough, the older gentlemen who mostly cluck at him and demand that I sit down.

[Dan just came home as I am typing this! Hoorah!]

Yesterday was the busiest day of it yet, I think because Joash was awake the whole time. He got a paper fan from a girl who had just donated blood. He got to chew on someone's cell phone. He was given a free vitamin juice sample (which, obviously, lady, I'm not feeding to my child, especially not right here on this crowded subway train, so you can stop your gesticulating). And then, he was physically removed from my person and held for a couple stops. Maybe that is shocking to you, but, yeah, no it was shocking to me, too. Strangers do hold people's babies here, but, I don't know, maybe don't pull him up out of the wrap that is strapping him to his mother. We survived, though, didn't we?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Don't laugh, but, for some reason, I'm just learning that parenting is sort of supposed to be always hard. I'm sure that's obvious to everyone else, but I've been over here thinking that things would level out and get easy somehow. Still, I think realizing it, late as I did, is going to make some things easier for me. Things like this 9 month sleep regression and the occasional all-day fuss.

Joash continues to grow up. He is a fast, little belly crawler now, and he collects on it all the dust in the world (except the ton still miraculously left in every corner of this apartment). I think he is close to top teeth and close to standing on his own.

In other news, sometimes Dan doesn't even turn on the air conditioning, and I get confused about that.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ohio Pictures

Pictures from Ohio, and then we're done recounting a trip that is now months ago. I promise even less inspiring comments now, since I am posting this only because I have new pictures to post afterward.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Florida Pictures

We're spending Sunday afternoon in a Taco Bell. We're on the other side of town for church and we have to be here for dinner, so we're occupying ourselves. So, now I have time to start the compulsory photo purge. I can't guarantee anything poignant by way of commentary since there is always an infant on the verge of hands-on attention. Pretty much there are so many pictures that this post will break your internet. That may or may not be worth it to you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Well, we may never get the internet in our new apartment. We thought we could try this week, but I guess we have to have our alien cards first, so it's going to be a couple more weeks. I will post the America pictures when we get our own internet, but I can post a couple videos from this here coffee shop, which, conveniently enough, is located on the first floor of our apartment building.

We had a shirt struggle last week.

We also struggled with indecision.

These have been hard weeks for me, readjusting to life without grandparents, life without internet, without Dan always around. I have felt pretty disconnected, but yesterday we resumed our playdates with Joonsoo and Sophia, and that has already helped. Our new apartment is truly lovely. We have an amazing view of mountains and easy access to the outdoors, albeit 18 floors in the sky. Now baby is melting down in the coffee shop, so time is off my side. Poor babies always melting.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Army Strong, Army Crawl

A video! Joash learned how to army crawl, so I have a video of that and another picture from America.

Hanging out with Grandma Jean.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spoiler Photos

We should be getting the internet at our apartment sometime this week, but, until we do, here are a couple spoiler photos.

A day at the beach.

Meeting of the firsts born.

I have to go promptly because Dan is walking Joash around this coffee shop as he begins his descent into meltdown, and I am typing furiously, Mission Impossible-style like I am defusing a bomb.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Right now we are nestled safely and snugly and warmly and lovely in a wonderful, wonderful room in the Radisson in Brisbane, California. From our window, we can see what I will call the San Francisco Bay because I don't know any better. We ate free pizza and Chinese for lunch; we are eating free pressed paninis for dinner. And we're watching cable TV! All because United Airlines is the single most incompetent airline in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE OF ALL TIME FOREVER AND EVER. But we can laugh about it now because of all the free things they had to give us after torturing us all day.

It all started (as it all does) when we got on our 6AM Cincinnati flight. We woke up at 3:30 so that Dan's brother could tote us and all our stuff to Kentucky's Cincinnati airport, and the fun began immediately! Three check-in machines froze before the check-in maven could find our reservation. Of course, only one international bag is free, which is awesome since we had four. Then, nicely, 58 pounds too heavy will incur a $200 fee unless we unpack and reorganize three of our bags. But don't worry, check-in maven is doing us a favor by exempting Joah's bag. She kindly reminded us not to expect free bags when we fly back home with United. HA! I think I let out a maniacal cackle at that hilarious joke she made.

Then we went through security, which was actually fine because some people don't suck at their jobs. They even let me have baby medicine and lanolin. Thanks, guys! Plus, there was a puppy on our plane, and he was awesome. We hustled down the sad, desolate United hallway and sat waiting for our tiny airplane flight. We were nervous because we boarded outside and that doesn't usually bode well for space, but the plane was old and small and the rows were far enough apart for even Dan's legs to fit, and we were actually really excited about it. HA! And then some cargo thing broke, and they deplaned us. And we got off the plane and were wandering around the tarmac because no one told us where to go, but we powered through and found our way back inside where no one continued to tell us where to go until poor, stressed Mark wondered why no one was telling us where to go and started distributing us among agents for rebooking. Mark I liked, because he seemed to understand the pure misery of the company that had stolen his best working years, leaving him with no choice but to stick it out or start over too late in life. Unfortunately, he did not fully book us for our flight to Incheon, Korea, and told us we'd be re-ticketed once we made it to San Francisco. Lo, but that were not true.

We made it to San Francisco (after uneventful flights to and from Chicago), and we started our hilarious descent into madness, both figurative and literal. We checked with the United agent at the gate to see if he could point us toward re-ticketing. He couldn't figure out why he should help us, his company's customer, so he mumbled something about how we weren't in the international terminal and probably the flight was Asiana and go this way and something about an escalator and please leave my counter. So we tried to find the international terminal, but the sign didn't say Asiana, so instead we went toward "All Other Airlines". Before we knew it, we were (literally) past the point of no return, standing at a little gate that said "once you start moving through this gate, you must continue out," and, though we had not started through the gate, a security agent pushed us out and said, "yeah, you'll have to go through security again, at this point, so go up this escalator and right and left and turn around and please leave my counter."

So, we did the prescribed calisthenics, but we ended up back at the domestic United counter because we still had no re-tickets, nor did we know for sure, even, who was hosting our flight. The United girl tried to send us away to some unidentified place in the international terminal, but we asked if she could please tell us where to go as we'd been wandering aimlessly for a time. She used some manager's code to find out that our flight was indeed Asiana, and she told us to find their counter and they'd get us going. I mean, all this so far while we're trying to make a connection.

On to Asiana, and, at this point we've explained three times that we're supposed to be re-ticketed and we only have an itinerary and we don't know what flight we're on, and everyone acts like we've made this policy up, as if we could have imagined something so completely convoluted. We have an exceedingly unfriendly lady telling us that we missed our flight and their counter is closed and please leave my counter. But then I was mean and told her she needed to call the United agent and we aren't just walking away to nowhere again. So she begrudgingly called (or pretended to call, I bet!) United and then told us to walk down to their counter. HA! It was awesome, but, by then I was eating candy, so I was starting to feel better.

On to United again, and, probably two hours after deplaning and missing our flight and making our pilgrimage around the entirety of the San Francisco airport and struggling to find even a single United employee who cared more about helping us than dispensing us from his counter, and we go to stand in line when a manager shouts that we must be premier members to stand in that line! and that is apparently her only job is to tell people not to stand in the premier line, and we try to explain to her our dilemma and she listens long enough for us to say, "We are United customers, and..." before she cuts us off and showers us with patronizations and ushers us to yet another United counter marked "Additional Services."

And there, at Additional Services, is where our hell was finally extinguished when we met Rosalie Aguilando, the loveliest lady ever I met. She disarmed us immediately by, shockingly, listening to what had happened and caring enough to file through our stack of boarding passes and itinerary sheets. She discovered what had happened and commiserated with us about Asiana being jerks and how hard could it have been for even a single person to listen to what we were trying to say! She even acknowledged our infant who had been traveling on airplanes and napping on laps and being carted around for hours by his irate parents. I loved Rosalie with a fervor usually reserved for only my closest family members. She was magically able to re-book us for tomorrow (at 11AM and with good seats). She proved that Mark's (all the way from 6AM and Cincinnati) re-ticketing intentions weren't asinine and, in fact, were some sort of United policy. Fancy that, United! She went out of her way to get us food vouchers and even toiletry packs. She recommended an airport restaurant, assuring us that their food was great (and it was). She smiled and laughed. In general, she was just so sweet and helpful that she almost made me forget that United was a worthless, worthless company, and, though I do hope with all the hatred I can muster that United goes out of business in the most shameful and permanent way, I want Rosalie to do well and land on her feet and work for Southwest or something. I do kind of worry she'll get in trouble for helping us so thoroughly. HA! That's how much United sucks.

But, after that, we changed our baby's diaper, fed and napped him, and had a good time walking around the San Francisco airport. We met a hilarious Chinese-Filipino woman at the CNBC store who wanted either our baby or our surrogacy, which sounds creepier than the innocent flattery that it was. And then we all took a family nap in the nicest bed that's buoyed our bodies in years. Now we're watching weird Food Network primetime while our baby sleeps through what he thinks is his night, but what will soon be turned upside down by the land of his birth and its upside down time zone.

Monday, March 26, 2012

TIPS (Thoughtful Interjections, Postulations, Syllogisms)

Parenting TIP: Let's all just try to make different mistakes than our parents made and not feel guilty about them.

Cloth Diapering TIP: Barf bags, you guys. They are the perfect individual-size wet bag. I can't wait to fly back to Korea, so I can collect four more.

These are the things I have learned during my stint as an American-style parent. It's been surprisingly different from parenting in Korea, but maybe it's just different from city parenting. I feel like there's so much less hands-on time with the babe and not just because other people are holding him, but, like, all the car seat, high chair, walker/saucer toys time. And he's such a different kid already, sturdier and more independent. It cheers and aches at the same time. But every day I am just so impressed that God makes these sweetest little things and glad he calls them ours.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Mom

Photo spoiler alert from Dan's computer for my mom because I love her, and she misses this lil babe.