Saturday, August 30, 2008

20 Week U/S video

I finally got around to fixing the DVD drive on my computer. That means I could finally play my ultrasound video from a week and a half ago.

I don't have time to post an update now, as I'm way behind in my work, so I'll just post the video. The sound of the heartbeat is at around 1 minute in.
video

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ravelympics

I've been participating in the 2008 Ravelympics, which is just knitting/crocheting a project during the Olympics. It's through the site Ravelry. The rules are just that you can cast on any time once the opening ceremonies begin, and you must finish by the closing ceremonies. I'm very surprised I finished in time, as I've been pretty busy the last couple of weeks, and I even had to rip out my first attempt at my project because of gauge/sizing issues. But I stayed up late last night knitting away, finished all the knitting, and sewed on the buttons this afternoon. I was competing in the "baby dressage" event and my project was Presto Chango. This is a must-do baby knitting pattern. It's very easy, there's not much seaming, and the finished product is very practical (at least I'll find out if it is!). The front panel comes off so you can lay the baby on the sweater to put his arms in and then just button the panel on. Plus, you could make multiple panels for the same sweater, in case of accidents, or just for fun. I may make another cabled panel or two for this one. Aren't the buttons cute? Dongdaemun Shopping Town is "the place" for buttons and all those little notions, not to mention fabrics and yarn. Get off at Dongdaemun Station (line 1 and 3) and take exit 9. Dongdaemun Shopping Town (aka crafters' paradise) is the humongous building immediately on your left. Yarn is in the basement. First floor is all kinds of stuff like bedding, towels, and curtains (just bring your window measurements here if you want custom curtains!). Second floor and up are purely fabrics -- and lots of them. The top floor is all kind of accessories you might need like buttons, beads, ribbon, sequins....you name it. Dongdaemun Shopping Town is a very, very dangerous place if you like crafting, so you've been warned.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

20 week ultrasound

Well, today was the big "halfway there" ultrasound. It was a special ultrasound where they check to see that everything is present and working. Everything looks good according to the doctor. That's all I want to hear. Downs Syndrome test came back negative and my blood anti-bodies test came back negative (I have A- blood which could cause problems, but everything is fine). I found out that when it gets closer to baby's arrival, I'll bank a bit of my own blood for emergencies, since negative blood types are very rare here.

Unfortunately, the pictures are not the best, so I tried to touch them up and highlighted the areas so they're easier to see. The first one is looking up the baby's nose. Sejin hates his own nose, so he said he's worried it might have his nose. Too funny. The next one is the baby's foot, which is much easier to see. I got a CD at this ultrasound, too, but due to technical difficulties, I'll have to post that later. I'm on a brand new computer now and it's not detecting my disk drive.
Also big news is that books 2 and 3 arrived and are in bookstores. One project down, two to go. I'm nearly done the listening books -- I'm going to celebrate with a nice dinner out when they're done because they've caused me a lot of stress. Then it's on to another series aimed at preschoolers. I'm really psyched that by the time baby comes, I'll have 9 books out!Poor Toto...We dropped her off at the pet salon on the way to the hospital today. It was a stressful day for her and she's pretty tired now. I think she got manhandled a bit, but at least the guy didn't use any drugs, and he didn't cut her at all. It was kind of funny when we went to pick her up. The guy was finishing up, clipping her fur while smoking a cigarette. We wanted him to leave a centimetre of fur so she wouldn't be completely naked, but he said she was too badly matted and it all needed to come off. He was probably right, but she looks just hideous. I can't wait for it to start growing back! He also commented on her weight issue, saying to put her on a diet. Problem is, she doesn't eat any people food or cat treats (won't touch either), and she really doesn't eat that much. I think it's just laziness, so I'm going to try to play with her more often. She's sleeping soundly now. If anyone wants the groomer's phone number (he does cats and dogs) or directions to his shop in Chungmuro, just say so. He did a good job. Here's a before photo and an after video.

video

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I did it

I finally did it. I sat in the subway seats designated for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant.

After class today I decided to go for a walk. So I walked from Gwanghwamun to Jongno 2-ga, grabbed a sub sandwich, then turned towards Insa-dong. I haven't walked through Insa-dong in a long time, and I really like the area, especially during the week. I stay far away on weekends. After making an impulsive purchase that I'm feeling a little guilty about now (that will wear off though), I turned back and walked to Jongno 3-ga, where I got on the subway. I like walking down Jongno... it's really the heart of the city. So busy, so much to see. Unfortunately, tonight it was so hot.

When I finally made it down to the subway I was literally dripping with sweat. I had to wait around 5 minutes for the train to come and there was no air moving down there. When the train pulled up I noticed there were some people sitting in those special seats who really didn't qualify as elderly, handicapped, or pregnant, so I thought...Hey, why not? It felt kind of weird sitting there and I did get some stares. To some people, I am not visibly pregnant, especially when sitting down, but that's not my problem.

Anyway, that's my news for today. I also met with the hypnobirthing instructor, Patricia Cumming, this afternoon, which was very exciting. I'm looking forward to the classes actually.

And I decided to look up this "Graco Pack n Play" that seems to be all the rage these days. I found it on The Bay's website (Canadian dept store) for $200, and just out of curiosity, decided to look it up on gmarket, my favorite site in the whole wide world. Sure enough, here it is. Same price! I was going to get a traditional bassinet, but this Graco thing looks more practical, as after it can't be used as a bassinet, it can be used as a playpen for much longer. And the colours are so nice... not the typical pink and blue with cartoon characters all over. Another thing to the list...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baby-related shopping in Korea

I wanted to post some links to shopping sites in Korea. Last week I met a new friend, Karen, who has a two-year old son and is expecting her second child. Karen has only been in Korea for five months, but she's enthusiastic about being here and she's really getting out there and finding things out rather than staying in her own little community, which she could do if she wanted. Many people with the army, governments, or embassies hardly know anything about Korea and really don't need to, because they are taken care of. But I think it's great that Karen wants to get see what else is out there. It will make her time here so much more enjoyable and memorable.

Anyway, she has had lots of great advice for me about babies and baby stuff. It's a little overwhelming, all the products there are out there. Karen told me what I wanted to hear, and that's to hold off buying a lot of things until the need arises, and also to do my research. So, I'm only going to buy the things I know I'll need right away, like small-sized diapers, a few newborn sleepers (maybe one special outfit ^^), a baby carrier, and maybe a few other little things. With the convenience of online shopping in Korea, if I really needed something, I could order it and have it delivered within one or two days, so it's no use buying things that I'm not sure about.

But it doesn't hurt to look and see what my resources are, so when the time comes, I'm prepared. I've found the following links after just a bit of searching, so I will probably add to this list later, or make a new post.

First, maternity clothes. This isn't really for baby, but still necessary. Karen made a great post about maternity clothes and what you need/don't need. Here are some Korean links. Even if you don't speak Korean, it's easy enough to click around to get a sense of what they have. Then you can have a Korean friend help you out to order.

Mizmami Maternity Wear
To Be Mom
Maternity underwear
Lora (they have American brand nursing bras that go up to size G!)
Gmarket (search 임부복)

Baby stuff. There are tonnes of baby malls online. These are just a few.

Babyland
Urii baby
Pretty baby
Happy mall
Babywel
KKbaby
and of course, there's gmarket. Here's a link to baby onesies for example. Here's one to the ergo baby carrier, which I'll probably buy!

Diapers. Modern cloth diapers are available in Korea. I haven't checked them out in person yet, but I'm going to.

Babyan - Korean brand that looks promising.
Kissaluvs -American brand that imports to Korea. Thanks to Karl for that link!
diapers on Gmarket

I just thought I'd add this last link although it is not necessarily baby related. This site has IKEA products for good prices. I added it because a lot of foreigners don't know where to get furniture, or have trouble doing so. There are tonnes of places online to order furniture, but I know a lot of people like IKEA, and why not.

One thing that I CAN'T find after much searching is a rocking chair that I like. I would prefer a glider rocker, but can only find one online, and I've never seen any in furniture stores.

Mungyeong

I've already written about my encounter with a couple of different herbs in Mungyeong. All in all, the trip was good and it was nice to see Sejin 's family again. The only downside to the trip was that the weather was so hot, it made it hard to have fun outdoors. We were supposed to spend Saturday afternoon by the stream having a picnic, but instead everyone stayed in the minbak to keep cool. It was disappointing because Mungyeong has some great scenery that I wanted to get some pictures of. I guess it'll have to wait until next time.

I did go out for a bit, but not far. Just down the road was a ceramics museum and a Confucianism Museum. It was interesting enough. I really like looking at traditional Korean handicrafts, so I liked the "boudoir" room in the Confucianism museum. The embroidery was gorgeous.

We finished off the day with some samgyupsal, which is the best way to finish a day. It was really good. Sunday was spent in the air-conditioning. I worked on Doily Coaster, which is actually meant to be worked with a finer thread, so as to get a coaster sized coaster. But I wanted to use some of my green cotton to make something slightly bigger. I like how it looks and it was a one-day project, which I love.
My busy week starts here. Between now and Thursday evening I have tonnes to do. We have train tickets to Yeosu booked for Friday, but we may cancel if it looks like rain. I'm mainly going to hit the beach, and if I can't, I'd rather postpone.

Beware herbs/oriental medicine

Just thought I'd write something on this in hopes of someone perhaps stumbling upon this information while searching for an answer.

Sejin and I had a lovely weekend in the countryside for his grandmother's birthday. Sejin's family, the Jo's, come from Mungyeong, a rural, picturesque part of Korea that not a lot of foreigners venture to. More on Mungyeong later...

After arriving in Mungyeong and meeting his family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) at a restaurant in Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park, we headed to our room upstairs (minbak) where everyone sat around eating snacks and fruit near the air-conditioner. Sejin's grandmother had made "sook," a type of bread/rice cake which is green and really doesn't have much taste. I was really full from lunch, so politely refused about three times, but after some coaxing, had a little piece, because after all, grandma had made it.

I did ask Sejin what was in it, but although his English is quite good, he's no botanist, so he could not tell me exactly what herb was in it. Actually, I found out after an Internet search that "sook" is made from mugwort, a herb that should be avoided by pregnant women. It can cause uterine contractions and preterm labor. Luckily, I had only eaten a very small piece, so I'm sure everything is fine. From what I understand, small amounts of mugwort are used in sook, mainly for colouring, and it's boiled beforehand, which removes much of its toxicity.

Later in the day, I wanted to get out of the minbak where everyone was sprawled out on the floor napping. Sejin and I took a short walk to a nearby building which was selling products made from "omija" (오미자), a local specialty in Mungyeong. From what I understand (I always say this because I just can't understand everything!), omija is the berry from a plant found in Asia. It's a pretty, bright red berry. I've had omija tea before and it's quite good. We were browsing all the products made from omija...tea, bread, wine, etc. Sejin chose a bottle of omija extract. We were paying for it and the lady at the counter informed us that pregnant women should not eat omija. I was impressed with two things: she had noticed that I was pregnant -- a first! yay!; and she actually spoke up to warn us. I was grateful for that.

So, in one day visiting the countryside, I encountered two potentially dangerous herbs used in traditional oriental medicine. And they weren't mixed up in some kind of weird potion that would make me wary of them. Koreans have a long history of using herbs and other plants that we in the west don't often use. They're so used to them being around, that they're not even sure what all of them can do/cause. Every spring, my mother-in-law serves up a traditional spring meal made almost entirely of herbs she went and picked herself. Some of them don't even have English names... Of course, I know Sejin's family, or any Korean, would not give me anything meaning to cause harm, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Up late

So I'm up late typing up some stupid units for my stupid listening books. I've completely lost interest in this project and I can't wait to move on to the next one. These listening books have turned out to be more trouble then they're worth -- literally. I wish I could go back and renegotiate, but I signed the contract and I will complete them by the end of August.

To keep my sanity, I've been doing some small knitting projects. Projects that can be completed quickly are the best kind when you're stressed. So I made some baby booties (they're sitting on a small washcloth I made), and a baby bib. They're all cotton. I have tonnes of yarn to use up, so I've decided not to go to Dongdaemun to buy baby yarn until I've used up some of my stash.
Other than that, things are slow. I've been staying indoors in the air conditioning with Toto by my side. Oh yes, and we had a nice Indian dinner with Hayan and her boyfriend tonight. That got me out once this weekend...