Friday, July 31, 2009

Book done, some wallpaper up

Just finished writing a coursebook. It will be book 1 of a 3-part series. Another writer who has far more time wrote the other 2 books. *sigh* I'm hoping to get more of this work when I return from Canada. If I can, I may have to get someone to watch Grace so that I can work more during the day and less at night. Grace goes to sleep around 8:00 these days and then it's work time. Of course, I surf and chat here and there, but the work usually keeps me up too late and I can't get a good sleep even if I want to.

We're moving in a day. It doesn't feel like it. Last time we moved we went through all our stuff, got rid of junk, had everything organized and ready to go. This time we will probably end up moving junk and getting rid of it when we unpack. Grace + work + misc stuff left us no time to get ready properly.

The only thing we did manage was to put up a bit of wallpaper in our new living room. It went surprisingly well. It's not easy work, but the pre-cut pre-glued strips of wallpaper are great. It eliminates a lot of steps. It's not a perfect job, but it looks a heck of a lot better than it did. The only problem now is the plug in the middle of the wall near the ceiling. It's there for a wall-mounted air-conditioner, but ours is a standing unit. I can either stick some wallpaper over it, or get some kind of a wreath or decorative thing to hang over it. I didn't take proper before pictures because I didn't think I would post before and afters. This is the best I can do. Now that we know how to hang the paper, we'll probably order more for the bedroom because right now it's the ugliest colour you can imagine. Some kind of grayish purple.

Our Internet will be disconnected tomorrow night and reconnected on Monday. Hope the move goes well!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Serenity Now

I was reminded of this Seinfeld episode this morning after Grace would not go down for her morning nap, although she was rubbing her eyes wildly. I put her down from sleeping on my shoulder four times and each time she either woke up immediately, or woke up within ten minutes. Something's going on... maybe a tooth waiting to pop out, or else the plumbing's backed up again. Serenity now!

Monday, July 27, 2009


The woodwork was painted yesterday. I didn't feel like going all the way to Uijeongbu to choose a colour, so I had simply told Sejin: ivory. I figured anything is an improvement over the bright blue that it was. He took photos today and it does look better. Clean.

The wallpaper arrived today. It's a heavy box. I hope I made the right decision. As I said before, either a really good idea, or a really bad one. We'll do that on Wednesday.

Grace still enjoying the sitting position. Tonight she sat in the centre of our bed for a good 10 minutes just staring at us. No smiling. It was kind of weird. Her posture was sort of gorilla-like and she looked territorial as well. Sejin took some good pictures of it.

Today I had one of those guests that doesn't 'get' when to leave. A dear Korean friend of mine who is 7 months pregnant. She's really lovely, but I think she must be bored. She arrived before 2:00. Around 6:00 I started hinting that we had to start getting Grace in the bath and ready for bed, but at 8:00 she was still here. Sometimes it's difficult to explain to people without kids about the importance of the nighttime ritual. It's especially important for Grace since I've had problems with getting her down at night at a reasonable hour. She's pretty sensitive about sleep. Now that she's going down again between 7 and 8:30 (this took work!), I'm not going to mess with that for anything. I ended up just starting the routine while she was still here and a couple times she looked kind of horrified. She said to me before she left, "Are all babies like this?" I don't know if it was in reference to Grace's resistance or the amount of work it took to get through the routine, from bathing to changing, feeding, reading and then finally putting her down. When I finally whispered to her, "Good night! Good luck with the baby!" as she headed out the door, I was exhausted and ready for my ice cream reward.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Moving is always hard, but it always feels good when it's done. Trying to keep that in mind.

This week we have a tonne of things to do, from going through our belongings and getting rid to junk to wallpapering! Yes, we are wallpapering ourselves. I'm not sure how good of an idea this is. We've ordered the wallpaper for the living room and we will attempt to put it up on Tuesday or Wednesday. If it goes smoothly, we will order more for the master bedroom. The cool thing about where we ordered our wallpaper from is that it comes in pre-cut strips. They are roughly the length of the wall, so we won't have to mess around with a big roll. They are nicely cut and have glue on them already. Luckily I took pretty good measurements last time I was there, so I was able to order the exact number of pieces. For the wall along the sofa, I chose (what looks like) a nice cherry blossom pattern. For the TV wall, a simple light beige. This could either look really good or really, really bad. I will post before and after photos.

Other than that, just trying to keep my head on straight. Grace is doing great. Today she sat on the floor by herself, back straight for about 15 minutes. I was spotting, of course, but she did incredibly well. She was turning and looking at us and playing with some blocks at the same time. What really amazes me about babies is that one day they can't do something, then the next day they surprise you be being able to do something really well, like they've known it all along. She surprised herself, I think. She sat there squealing and smiling for a while. Very cute.

Some laundry and book work to do this afternoon. Tomorrow we may head up to Uijeongbu to see how the woodwork paint looks. The painters were there today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Igloo Self Photos

We finally made it over to Dapsimni to take Grace's photos at Igloo Photo Studio. We were going to get 100-day photos and we just kept putting it off and putting it off. That turned out to be a good thing because she's super cute at six months and better able to hold her head up for photos.
There are three rooms at Igloo. We booked room C, which is for infants. There are things like baskets, bumbos, lots of pillows and toys for support. It is also the cheapest room. They have a full wardrobe that you can use, but we used mostly our own stuff. We took a walk through the other rooms, and they are pretty cute for toddlers. We might take Grace back for her 1 year photos, or try another "self" studio closer to our new place.

We also rented their camera. I was afraid of using it, but it turns out they have it all set up so you don't have to adjust anything on it. There is one of those huge photographer light/flash things on wheels that you can move to adjust the lighting for each background. I regret not fooling around with the lighting more. Next time.

We rented the room for one hour, which was enough for Grace, but for an older baby, I would book for 2 hours. But even after one hour, we were just exhausted from all the wardrobe changes and trying to get Grace to smile. She was kind of dazzled by the new environment and didn't want to smile much. That was kind of disappointing, but we managed to get a few good ones.

The quality is not quite professional quality, but for what you pay, I think it's pretty good. We paid 50,000 won for the room rental, camera rental, and the CD with all 800 photos that we took. Sejin was the photographer, as he got frustrated with my slow picture-taking. This was good because he managed to take A LOT of photos, but I kind of wish we had traded off because I think he missed some good angles (sorry Sejin).

I'm sure there are lots more of these self photo studios, but I just didn't know about them before. I think it's a great idea to save some money and get some good photos out of it. It was a lot of fun, too. So much better than the Sears portrait studio at home!

Sorry Facebook friends... You've already seen these, I know...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

From Jungneungcheon to Jungrangcheon

Those are two names of streams that are really hard to Romanize!

Jungneungcheon stream, right outside our window here in Dongdaemun-gu is pretty ugly. It's covered with an overpass, is usually nothing but a trickle, and is littered with garbage. However it is under construction, a four year project, and it's starting to look better every day. I think it is going to look something like Cheongyecheon. They've already got up a walking bridge, some wooden platforms, and some greenery. It's too bad we won't be able to enjoy it after listening to all that construction every day.

Jungneungcheon right now:
View from our window:

Outside our door in Uijeongbu we will have Jungrangcheon, which is in better condition. It's been left pretty natural. There is a walking path up higher on the banks, and near the water is a cycling path. It's very quiet. I look forward to walking there. I went to the new place yesterday by myself to do some measuring and take notes of what needs to be done. The list is quite daunting. The place is spacious, but some things are need of fixing up. Most of the light fixtures are missing, as well as the light switch plates. The wallpaper in the master bedroom is pretty bad, and all the woodwork is painted a bright blue. We're going back to Uijeongbu tomorrow to talk to interior places to get some estimates. The owner has agreed to replace the fixtures and do the basics, but we'll have to pay for the woodwork. If it weren't this awful shade of blue I would just try to live with it, but it's unacceptable. There's a lot of work to be done.
Ours is the building on the left:
View from our dirty window:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Big 6 Months

Grace was born 6 months ago from today. This is an exciting day because it feels like both of us have grown so much. Three months was kind of anti-climactic because I expected things to be so much different, but she was still just a little baby. I was still feeling a bit uncomfortable in my role as a mom. It's not that I wasn't enjoying it -- it's just that I didn't feel that confident in what I was doing. I was constantly feeling like an idiot and questioning my decisions, when in fact, looking back, I was doing quite well.
The early days:
I now have a very happy and healthy six month old girl who is surprising me every day with what she can do. NOW things are happening! The developments are very visible now. I also feel a lot more confident about how I'm raising this baby. I realize that how I do things may be different from how another mom does things, but that's okay. I know Grace and what she needs and I'll do whatever I have to do to meet those needs.

Here's what my chunky girl does:

-She smiles whenever she sees me.
-She rolls intentionally. Before it was random and seemed kind of accidental. Now I can almost see the wheels turning when she's about to roll: I see. I want. I roll there.
-She notices EVERYTHING. She loves my cell phone. When she sees it she holds out her hands and whines. When I eat something different than she eats, she reaches out. Nothing gets by her anymore.
-She eats well. She doesn't seem to be a picky eater. Tonight for dinner she had sweet potato and some rice mixed with pureed peas and carrots. Ate it all. Even when she doesn't seem to enjoy something, she opens her mouth for more.
-She notices other babies. She looks curiously at other children and what they're doing. Today we were in the nursing room at Homeplus when another mom and her daughter came in. There was no more eating, as Grace could not keep her eyes off the other girl.
-She's figuring things out. I have a small bucket of rattles. She can pass a rattle from one hand to the other. One of the rattles also spins. The other day I caught her holding the rattle in one hand and using the other to spin it slowly. I didn't know she could do that.
-She's learning to sit up. She loves trying, but she's still really wobbly.
-She laughs whenever I take my hair down from a ponytail. She thinks it's hilarious that I can sometimes have long crazy hair.
-She can "swim" to the top of her crib. A few times I've gone to pick her up and she's been crunched up at the top of her crib on her side, looking at her bumpers.
There's a lot of other things she can do, but these come to mind right now. This is definitely a fun age.

We still have our sleep challenges, but I take it one day at a time. I have a feeling she's working on something in the sleep department, so we'll see. Sleep is definitely something she doesn't like doing, but she's getting enough and that's the main thing. Now if only I would focus as much on my sleep...
Anyway, happy six months, Grace!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Contract signed

Well, it's official. We're moving to Uijeongbu. I know some people think I'm nuts, but for some reason I have a good feeling. A big selling point with this apartment is its location. It's a stone's throw from Mangwolsa Station and literally right next to a small river with a great walking/bicycle path. Supposedly there is a sports centre nearby with a swimming pool. It will be nice to have a quiet place to walk Grace in the nice weather without having to take any subways, buses, or taxis. We'll probably get bikes next year, and I'd like to hike the nearby mountains in the fall.

Sure, it's not Seoul, but it's not that far from Seoul. Today was my second time there and again I didn't find the ride too bad. Most of the trip is above ground, so you can see outdoors. We didn't time it, but I'd say it takes roughly 45 minutes from Dongdaemun Station to Mangwolsa Station. There are express trains during rush hour, too. So if I need to come in to Seoul for an afternoon to, say, go yarn shopping and grab some lunch, or meet some moms for coffee, it won't be too bad.

As for business, we'll see. There were plenty of kids running around the complex today toting their little hakwon backpacks. There isn't as much money in Uijeongbu as there is in Seoul, but I plan on charging what's written on our tutoring licenses from the Ministry of Education anyway. Time will tell. Mommy Cha has given me some excellent pointers on doing a home school, which I'm really grateful for. Although our trip to Canada in August is kind of bad timing (we'll miss the beginning of the semester), we'll have five weeks to spend relaxing with my family, planning our little study room, and picking up materials.

Moving day is August 1st. Before that day, the place will have to be cleaned and the woodwork and doors really need repainting (they're a crazy bright blue right now).

Wow... I can't believe it's pouring again. There was a great thunderstorm last night, and here comes another! Hello monsoon season!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An "Ah, Korea!" moment

Today was the day Sejin went to Uijeongbu to sign the apartment contract. He left early because he has to work tonight. As he was getting on the train to leave, he called the real estate agent.

SJ: I'm leaving for Uijeongbu to sign the contract now, okay?

Agent: Okay, see you soon.

When he arrives, the agent greets him and informs him that the owner and the current tennants have changed their mind -- they no longer want to move.

SJ: Why didn't you tell me this before I came all the way to Uijeongbu?

Agent: I didn't want to ruin your day.

So I guess she figured he would enjoy the long boring train ride to Uijeongbu during his free time before work. Aigo...

But never fear, she says, there is another unit available in the same building, same layout. So that's why she still wanted him to come. Only thing is, the owner is not willing to repaper and floor the place. Hmmm, this will take some thought.

Grace and I just got back from Homeplus. I was bored and figured she needed a teething ring as she has her hands in her mouth all the time now and is making these really weird movements with her mouth. I also picked up some kind of mesh feeding device so she can feed herself, as well as yet another sippy cup. The Nuby I bought isn't working out. It's so hard to suck any liquid out of it -- even I can't! I bought a Nuk brand one today, so we'll see.
Look at the gums on this kid:
By the way, happy Canada Day! (taken a couple of months ago)