Monday, August 30, 2010

Seoul Tour

The tongue has made a comeback, and Baby Tristan is getting more wild by the day, but he is still as cute as ever.  Throngs of people ooh and aah at him here whenever he is out in public.  Koreans love babies, especially cuties like him.
My attempt at making chipotles didn't go too well.  I basically warmed them in the oven for a couple of days, and they didn't change much.  So I cranked up the heat and really smoked 'em.  Not sure that they are good for anything now, but I haven't the heart to throw them out yet. I even tried to buy some on amazon, but whoever was selling them wouldn't ship APO.

Hunter and I got to take a new comers' orientation tour courtesy of the base here, so they drove us around the base on a bus and showed us all the amenities.  Notice the curtain, which is common on private buses (not city buses).

Then they took us sight seeing, and we went to a "traditional" Korean village, which are rare now, although there are apparently still a couple of real ones left in Seoul.  This one is more like a museum.  This guy is weaving baskets and other such items.
Army community services provided free childcare for Kyler and Tristan, which made going on this tour possible.  It was nice to have an outing with just Hunter Pants.
This is a view inside one of the rooms of the traditional house.  They had a state of the art heating system from way back that heats the floors, where they sit and sleep.
Hunter is still always a ladies man.  I'm not sure how this came to be; he's chopping her back.  I noticed it and managed to snap a picture.  It was innocent.  She gave him a treatment soon after.
Next they took us to a traditional restaurant with yummy food.  Everything was paid for by the tour.  This is bulgogi (I'm not sure if that's spelled right), and it is delish.  I must confess that I have started to like Kimchi.  I never imagined that that would happen!  Apparently like yogurt, it is full of the good bacteria, and studies have shown that thin people (like most of the Koreans) have more of the good stuff, whereas overweight people tend to have more of the bad bacteria going on.  I actually bought some Kimchi at the commissary today to start including in our diet.  I may even be brave enough to start making it.  There are many varieties, some better than others.  I've only found recipes for the spicy cabbage kind.
Next we toured more museums and saw interesting artifacts, such as this artwork.
Then we had our picture taken with the president and first lady at the Blue House.  And Hunter got to participate in a U.N. meeting, representing Brazil.  It was a fun day.
Dean returned from the exercise on Thursday, and has slowly been helping us dig out of our stuff. It's starting to look like a home, and today we even managed to clear a path through Kyler's room.
Part of the mess of his room was that I had put a plastic storage bin of size three clothing, that Tristan can wear in a couple of years, in Kyler's room.  He has more closet space than he needs, so I thought it could go in there.  Instead, Kyler tossed it all about the room, and has been wearing some of it.  He is still obsessed with socks, and wears them 24/7.  I had cut the soles out of these pajamas, partly to rile up Kyler, obviously some time ago (when he was wearing a size 3, probably at age 3).  There were holes in the soles, and he insisted that I patch them.  But I just cut off the soles.  That's not what he had in mind, but it was good for a laugh, and he actually wore these to bed here.  It is terribly humid here in monsoon season (right now), so I hope he was nice and comfy in all that overnight (he's got a t-shirt on under the pjs).
Here he is wearing Dean's patrol cap and is mesmerized by a game.  Ugh.
Saturday night we managed to get a babysitter and go out on the town.  We went to a different part of town, so rode the subway. 
A pimp-looking dude (not Korean, not white - take a wild guess) was wearing these beauties on the subway.  Dates are always magical, and we've decided we just need to buckle down and do them regularly.  We've just been too cheap in the past to pay for sitters very often. We had yummy food, and I had my first melon bar, I think from a 7-11 here, which are on nearly every corner.  They are fabulous, kind of a honey dew/banana ice cream on a stick.  I also kept buying junk food that people were selling on the streets, such as a potato sliced in a continuous peel and skewered and fried, and some kind of caramelized corn stuff.  Both were good.

Sunday we both gave talks in church, on temptation.  I was set apart as District (kind of like Stake) Primary 1st Counselor.  Dean is the Elder's Quorum Secretary.
Today was Hunter's first day of third grade.  His teacher happens to be in our ward, and is the lady who, with her husband, took Dean to church a couple of times and had him over for dinner and for Independence Day activities before the rest of us got here.  She's married to a lieutenant colonel, and they have five grown children, though she's still on the young side for all that.  Hunter had a good first day as far as we can tell, and she will surely be a wonderful teacher.
So, Captain Cho, who Dean is "mentoring", wanted to take us out sight seeing since they have a four-day weekend for the start of school, so today and tomorrow off.  He took us to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was fantastic.
Some Koreans were snapping pictures of Trist-man here.  This lady below was our English-speaking tour guide.  She is wearing a Hanbok, a beautiful, traditional Korean dress.  Patti's aunties wore them a year ago at Patti and Dustin's wedding, and I thought they were fabulous.  I intend to have one by the time we leave here.
This white dude is apparently doing the monk thing.
The architecture is fabulous, and there is so much to see at the palace. 
Hunter is over four feet tall now, and over 60 pounds.  No wonder he eats so much. 
There are all sorts of these gargoyle kinds of guys.  And I loved the live guards.
We were pretty hungry, so we found a place to eat after visiting the palace.  Captain Cho wondered if we wanted some live octopus, but we're just not ready for that yet.  We ordered Mandu (sounds like fondue) for the boys, and they ate it up yum.  I had a chicken and rice noodle soup, which was good.  Dean had an acorn jelly dish, which was surprisingly good.  And of course there was Kimchi.  Tristan was good and hungry, and ate some of all that, and didn't mind unless it was spicy.  His hematoma is fully healed now, woo hoo!
After dinner we walked a bit, and saw this guy, who was behind the development of Hangul, the Korean alphabet.
I spotted this couple while we were walking.  They are wearing matching Hanboks.  They must have been at an event, I'm guessing, because no one just wears it around, unless they are working in a traditional restaurant or as docents or something.
I thought this mask was fun.
And there's always room for a good sign!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Hunter has asked me a couple of times recently why "some kids think it's gross when other people kiss and hug", or why "kids sing the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song when people kiss and hug?  I'm not like that.  I don't see anything wrong with it."  He's perceptive, and I'm glad he's not conforming to the attitudes of "all" the other little kids.  I think I started having crushes on boys in about the third grade, which he is about to enter.  Dean gives us each a kiss every morning before he heads to work, and of course the boys are all happy to get kisses from me and each other.  Seeing Dean and me kiss is pretty commonplace around here.  And we haven't forgotten about Hunter kissing little Karen on the bus last year...

Speaking of Hunter, while in Ramah for a couple of weeks this summer, the high school volleyball coach put on a volleyball camp for kids as young as Hunter for three days, a few hours each day.  I took him and he had fun.  He was the only boy I saw there, though he says he wasn't the only one.  I don't make a point of entertaining my kids 'round the clock, so they are generally eager to do about anything out of their ordinary.

Once we came here, there was a Vacation Bible School advertised for a week.  It looked like it would be fun, and an opportunity for him to meet other kids in the village, and something to do.  I feel really bad for the boys that there really isn't much to do here as of yet, since we don't have a backyard any more nor do we live in a cul-de-sac.  If they want to ride bikes or anything like that I have to be out there with them, which I just don't have the time or inclination right now especially (although I have been taking them swimming several times a week - it is right across the street).  We made a point of being low key about the bible school, but did explain to him that we believe in the Book of Mormon and the Bible, but other religions do not, particularly the sort that put on VBS.  He had a good time, and by the end of the week he did say that once they were talking about the Bible being the only Word of God, and he stated that the Book of Mormon was also.  He was told "no no no; only the Bible".  No harm there, since we discussed it with him and he has a sure footing in the Gospel.  I think that exposure to other thoughts and ideas is a good thing, and with the proper guidance can help us appreciate what we have in the Gospel.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


We were happily expecting Darling Husband and Father to come home on Friday evening for the weekend from UFG.  He called me that morning and said he'd been to a meeting where the XO (second in command) of the whole exercise had declared that no one would be going home for the weekend, and that all such requests would be denied.  There was no real reason for this, especially considering there was a "pause ex" (pause in the exercise) for the weekend.  Dean had even made a point of having a fake weapon issued to him for the exercise so that he could come home (they have to wear all their combat gear and such when they leave their designated building during the exercise, and can't be running around Korea with a real weapon, nor can they "abandon" a real weapon there and come trotting home).  So, he said he was coming home anyway, and just wouldn't tell anyone in his unit about the XO's decree.  I, for one, have never had the nerve to do anything I wasn't supposed to (except maybe speed, which driving skills are coming in handy around here).

In high school, I literally lived across the street from the school.  Teachers would let me "run home" and grab something that I had forgotten from time to time.  On the last day of the school year, some students would just take off for the day, or not show up at all, which was fine with me.  But I didn't have the nerve.  My peers would ask me why I was even at school.  I just couldn't do it.  My parents had such an easy time raising me!  Why don't I have it so easy now???  The only prank I ever pulled was when I was in college.  I knew my younger brother was home alone one weekend so I called him up before 6am.  It rang a number of times then he said "HELLO-O???".  He had clearly been jolted out of bed.  I could have died laughing, but pleasantly asked how he was doing, yada yada.  I don't know if he even remembers it. 

Anywho, so to think of Dean coming home without authorization made me a little nervous.  But, he was coming with a major and a SFC in his unit.  So at least he wasn't the highest ranking person.  And apparently their own commander, who really isn't under the commander of the exercise, was all right with them coming home, so, I guess it was all on the up and up.  They rode a train, which took about two hours, then he got a cab from Seoul Station.  We reluctantly took him back to Seoul Station this morning before church where he met his traveling companions and headed back.  He said they sure didn't miss anything, and there didn't seem to be any reason for them to have gotten there as early as they did today.

Meanwhile on the home front, our stuff got here on Wednesday, and the place is a complete disaster.  I've implemented a KIP and HIP (Kyler and Hunter improvement programs, respectively) to get behavior around here under control, so Kyler ended up spending some time in his room the day after our stuff came to atone for some typically egregious public behavior, and he spent the whole time ripping open boxes and throwing the contents all about his room.  Part of the KIP is that he now has his own room, so the only rebel he can rouse is himself.  So, his bed wasn't even visible in his room, nor was there any getting to it from the door, so he ended up sleeping with me a couple of nights, until we were able to make a little headway in there.  Dean was stunned while here, and when saying our family prayer Saturday morning, was thankful "for all this stuff, that we love so much, everywhere we look".  What can I say?  He took all three boys for a few hours on Saturday so I actually got some stuff put away.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not in MY Nursery

I guess I'm becoming an "intactivist", meaning the more I consider it, the more cruel and heart wrenching circumcision seems to me.  I'm glad I wasn't so mutilated, and I am ever so glad that we didn't do it to our babies.  Is it really any different from Female Genital Mutilation?  I'm thinking not.  Again, no real research on my part, but one reason it was heavily promoted last century was in order to stop boys from, ahem, stimulating themselves - meaning it took the pleasure out of it, meaning it is also taken (to a degree) from the victims even in their marital relations.  Horrific.  I'm not judging or condemning anyone who has done it to their babies; I just think there's not nearly enough information out there for people to make an informed decision.  "Everyone" else does it, and the doctors and hospitals expect it to be done, so little thought goes into it.   Here is a description of the torture enabler above. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Smoke the Chipotle

I almost never buy anything just off the shelf or rack without prior research or at least a sale price.  Two exceptions have been my Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipe book (which I have used a lot), and more recently a chipotle recipe book.  My cooking repertoire has become redundant (maybe even stagnant) of late, and while visiting the Grand Canyon, I saw a chipotle recipe book in the gift shop and bought it.  The only trouble is, being where we are now, it is infinitely more difficult to acquire specialty items, namely chipotle peppers, or as many of the recipes in the book call for, chipotles in adobo sauce.  I noticed some jalapeno peppers at our little village commissary the other day, and grabbed them, and thought I'd try to make my own chipotles (they are basically smoked jalapenos).  I don't have a smoker, so the gas oven is the best I can do, and here they are after about 14 hours on 170.  We shall see how they turn out!

I did find some chipotle Tabasco sauce here, so have been using that in some of the recipes.  I did make some almond milk for Tristan, but he won't drink it.  I actually found some canned goat milk at the commissary - same story.  Won't drink it.  I have had a huge reduction in appetite since mostly weaning the little man.  It's amazing.  I even fasted on Fast Sunday for the first time in about 21 months, and it didn't bother me at all.   

We were finally referred to the Korea Hemophilia Foundation this week, and Tristan has had three infusions of Factor VIII, so his head is mending well.  They also have done some therapeutic ultrasound on the hematoma.  What a relief.  I had to count our blessings while there because nearly everyone there (they all have hemophilia, obviously) was limping.  60% of hemophiliacs are in the severe range, and often by age 25 start needing joint replacements, because blood pooling in the weight bearing joints causes the cartilage to break down.  My dad had a knee injury in his college days that bothered him until he finally had it replaced in his 60s.  It was a complete disaster trying to find the place the first time.  Addresses here aren't very useful.  They imply a sector of the city.  There aren't really building numbers, and if there are street signs (with names of streets) they are in Korean.  Imagine finding an address with those obstacles.  That can't really be loaded into the GPS either.  Needless to say, one of the employees (the English speaking one whom they would put on the phone when I called) finally had to come find me (after I parked in a random building) and walk me (and the three) to the correct place.  It's only about 5km away from us, but can take over 30 minutes in traffic.  I'm realizing that the geographical size of the city isn't all that big.  But it's crammed with 13 million people, so imagine how congested it gets.  I was behind this Mini (picture above) while driving back from the KHF one day. 

I'm not the only one enjoying our recent acquisition.

Dean is "mentoring" this Korean army veterinarian.  We had him and his gorgeous wife over for dinner last night.  She works at the Ritz Carlton.  Like many of the women here, she wears high heels all day (which put her over six feet tall - I'm guessing).  I always wonder if their feet don't hurt.  I'd be crippled by a block of walking!

They were kind enough to interpret this note that was left on our windshield (which got rained on) at the temple last week.  We were afraid that someone was annoyed with our crooked parking job.  We had backed in, which is probably more common that pulling in here, by the way.  They said it was very polite and asked that we not back in the next time, because the exhaust is bad for the plants.  Makes sense, and now we know!

This morning I took Darling Husband to the base from where they left for a field exercise, which is why he's wearing the "patrol cap".  He'll be gone for about two weeks, but should be able to ride a train home next weekend.  When he told me a couple of weeks ago that he'd be going, I was concerned, but I can now go back and forth between our village and the main base, and to the KHF, so we should manage.  Our household goods have arrived, so once they are delivered next week I will have plenty to do!

Someone thought it would be a grand idea to climb into this cupboard, but then had troubles getting back out.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Birthday

to me :)

Dean and I celebrated our birthdays this week.  Another year older and... less in debt?  With fewer expenses these days (hardly any utilities now that we live in base housing, our house in Oregon is FINALLY off our hands entirely, and a bit of homelessness between moves) we've had a little extra ka-ching.  We've never run around spending money wildly, and strive to look for the best deals possible (buying used, waiting for sales, using coupons, asking for a discount, whatever it takes).  Since we've been here, we bought a "fancy" GPS, which turned out to be a piece of crap.  It is Hyundai, and gave directions such as "continue to the underpass next to the overpass", meaning "exit right".  Not only that, if it thought you were speeding - which it was often mistaken - it would sound a most annoying alarm.  We were ready to pitch the thing out the window, especially since mostly what it did was get me lost!  Fortunately we had 15 days to return it to the PX, so we did so happily, and bought a new Garmin Nuvi from a soldier who puts Korean and other maps on the unit, as well as lots of helpful "favorites".  It was $130 less, and so far is worlds better than the previous hunk of junk.

Just before we moved the boys managed to destroy our TV, the only one we had ever paid real money for (real being $140, and it was actually purchased new - on sale of course).  The one previous to that Dean had had since high school.  Since they broke it, and since I spend my life trying to limit their viewing anyway, and also since we've never had cable (and haven't been able to pick up anything with rabbit ears since we left Albuquerque three years ago), I vowed that we wouldn't be buying a replacement.  But alas, Dean is diligently trying to learn to speak Korean and wanted to get cable to be able to watch Korean TV.  So I relented and we found a nice  (smallish) flat screen from a soldier to buy.  I said "Happy Birthday" to Dean, and we called that good.  I did fix him a lovely breakfast, and for dinner we had melt-in-our-mouths ribeyes, and coconut cream pie for dessert, his favorites.  I cooked the steaks in a skillet, and he said he didn't know they could be made so tasty without a grill : )  I bought some Lawry's seasoned salt here, and like it much better than Montreal Steak Seasoning, which I think made all the difference (with some freshly ground black pepper), all rubbed in with olive oil, then seared on high on both sides, then continued on low until cooked to taste.

He surprised me by setting up a babysitter and taking me out to dinner, which was hugely welcome! (My birthday is the day after his).  Anyway, last weekend when we went up to Camp Redcloud, we stopped at some nurseries on the way and bought some plants and a couple of pots - I'll get pictures when I have more planted in them.  They were stamped on the inside as being made in China, but they were lovely and a good price none the less.  We called that my birthday present.  But, a couple of weeks ago, I believe the day we all had lunch together in Itaewon at Burger King, and I assured Dean that I could find our way home without him (then eventually ended up hailing a cab), I passed through a small antique district.  And wouldn't you know, one of the stores had a most exquisite, Victorian-style chaise.  I adore unique, beautiful furniture.  I especially am drawn to older European styles, such as Rococco (we have this bed).  We decided to give our own living room seating a break from the abuse of the children and put it in storage while we are in Korea.  The three-seater grandfather sofa has a big rip down the middle of it (much thanks to Kyler for all the jumping that produced it)        
Here I am with Tristan, when he was just a few months old.  So, this sofa needs to be recovered once we get back.  A most wretched cat that we had for a long five years also frequently clawed the sides and back of it, grrrr.  So, we'll be able to coordinate the new fabric with . . .

this glorious work of art!  It called to me when I first saw it, and I've mentioned it a few times to Dean...  He has been all about doing something - anything (in his spare time), since we've been here.  After he and I spent the middle of the day at the temple (what a blessing that was), I suggested that he could venture with the children on a walk and find the chaise, or fainting couch.  He did, and with some cash in hand, he bought it!  He got it for an unheard-of price, and it is a new reproduction.  Our children do not belong anywhere near antiques.
Dean pointed out that it looks a little, well, ostentatious in our home, but we'll figure out how to arrange the furniture soon enough and hopefully make it fit.  I've already told the boys that it isn't for them - they can sit on anything else.  And of course they've already tried to eat on it and put their dirty feet in it, but I quickly chased them away.  We had another fainting sofa a few years back, but it was a gorgeous piece of junk.  This one is sturdy and the real deal.  I first started having interest in antique-style furnishings when we lived in Loveland, Colorado.  We loved it there, by the way, and we lived there longer than anywhere else in our ten years of wedded bliss (nearly three years, while Dean was in vet school).  I had drug him into an antique store and saw one, a real antique, and was smitten.  I never got over that, and all these years later, my patience and lust have paid off!  Dean told me again "Happy Birthday", when he said that he had bought the sofa. 

Here are some gratuitous shots of my little guy.

He's stuffing Kyler's underwear into the game cube.
There's always room for more signage.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

pull my stick

Our new ward celebrated pioneer day and had such events as stick pulling.  Hunter lost to this bigger boy.  But he did win the spitting contest - watermelon seeds, that is.

Kyler fared well in his category.
Dean won once,
and lost once.

And I won the jar of jelly beans .  There were 313; I guessed 308.

This last Saturday we drove to Camp Red Cloud, north of Seoul.  This smoke stack and other such items of industry were lovely and painted .

Sea cucumbers, anyone?

Or perhaps some sea slugs?  These were outside a restaurant, waiting to be dined on.

We opted for this "sit down" place; Dean's been wanting to take us.  They cooked the food on a grill in front of us.  Most of it was delish, although there were lots of things that I wasn't adventurous enough to try (still can't imagine eating jelly fish).  It was fun, but the top of Dean's foot has been numb ever since.  We were parked down an alley in front of some houses, probably in private parking spaces.  I said half jokingly that we should just park on the sidewalk.  By the time we came out, someone else had.

On Friday evening we drove to Nandaemun, a large, outdoor shopping market.  We had been there before, only it's much nicer when it is not raining.  It's not cheap, and the vendors don't haggle much.  We ate at this place for dinner - spent a lot and got not so much.  We paid about the same as the "sit down" place.

I keep an eye on fashion trends.  This is not uncommon to see (mixed florals). 

A lot of men wear capri-style pants and such.  Not too many look like this.  I don't think those glasses have lenses.
I never tire of good signage.

Yesterday Kyler was having a late breakfast.  He wondered what to do when Tristan came along wanting handouts.  I suggested that he share. 
Tristan helping unload the dishwasher.  He only screamed for a moment.
I've been weaning the babe, and he's having a hard adjustment.  As with the other boys, cows' milk makes him break out in a rash.  I just can't see how it's good for him/us; that's a constant topic of disagreement around here.  I've stopped giving it to him and the rash is going away.  Soy is no good - full of estrogen.  Rice drink is just simple sugars.  I have decided to continue nursing once in the morning and once before bed, but I'm tired of pulling it out in public, or all day for that matter, just because he would rather do that than eat food.  And, I am going to try making almond milk for him to drink.