Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I <3 Gmarket

I think it's so great that kitcheninafishbowl posted about her love of Gmarket today just as I was thinking of doing the same! I was thinking of doing so because gmarket chose me for a special event they're having...I won a gift certificate for being one of the top bloggers! Thanks!

I do a lot, if not most, of my shopping on Gmarket. It's like a gigantic shopping mall right in my computer room. I used to shop out in the real world a lot more before I had a baby, but since January 2009, Gmarket has come in very handy and serves most of my shopping needs. Shopping in Korea can be tough for a foreigner. Sometimes you just can't find what you're looking for...or if you're really new to Korea, you don't even know where to start. You see, there are product "districts" in Korea. For example, there are furniture districts, textile districts, lighting districts, and pet districts. Sometimes it's fun to go to certain districts if you want to see the product firsthand. I love shopping for fabric and yarn in Dongdaemun. But sometimes, it's a pain in the neck to take public transport across the city just to buy a trivial item. This is when Gmarket is very convenient.

It's also fun. It's nice to browse all the different options. There is an incredible amount of vendors on gmarket, so there are always some interesting and unique products. I have started to limit my browsing time, though, as I always seem to find something I "need." Another fun part is practicing and improving my Korean vocabulary. I learned a lot of Korean vocab from online shopping. That sounds funny, but it's true. Now, there are two gmarket sites: the Korean site and the global English site. I usually use the Korean one, but I took a look at the English site the other day, and there have been great improvements over there, so I'm going to give that site a go next time I need something and see what I come up with.

And finally, of course, the prices on gmarket really can't be beat. You can often find the more popular products with free shipping, and if not, it's never more than 2500 won ($2.50). I've often seen something in a store that I had bought on gmarket for several dollars cheaper. Over the last few years, I'm sure I've saved a lot of money by using gmarket. I know I saved hundreds right before Grace was born when I did my baby shopping! Baby stuff in the shops is very expensive.

Anyway, I'm not going to shop gmarket tonight because I just received my most recent order yesterday (diapers, deodorant, Quaker oatmeal, and knit baby leggings). I can't even begin to list all the things I've bought on gmarket. Too long... Oh, and my camera was bought on gmarket.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Down Cardigan

I knitted this before Grace was born and she finally got to wear it! And it fits! Excuse the rest of Grace's outfit. I really should have put her in something cuter than sweat pants and a onesie for the shoot, and I should have at least wiped her face....but we were having a down day. Very cold and gray outside.

This is the pattern. If you've never done a top-down sweater -- try it! It's so much fun. And it's easy -- easier than you would think. As you're working along in the pattern, you have some major "AH HA!" moments as you see the sweater taking shape. And there is so little sewing up after. As it says at the top of the pattern, the cardigan is knitted in one piece. All you have to do afterwards is sew under the arms, and sew on a button of course. If I do this cardigan again, I'll make more button holes and make it button all the way up.

It was great putting this on Grace the other day because it inspired me to start knitting again. I haven't done anything in a while. Just been too busy, and I was on a doily kick for a while. But I think I'll get out the old bag (well....bags) of yarn and start stitching again. I think I'll knit ahead for spring.......something in cotton......

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Alone for Christmas

Well, maybe, maybe not; we'll see what we're up for Christmas Day. My friend very kindly invited me to her Christmas party, and while it's a bit far, I might just go and try to have a merry Christmas. It would be nice to socialize with people over 1 year old for a change, as well as see my friend again, of course. I could always take a taxi home if Grace is pooped. Otherwise, I will be alone, as Sejin will indeed be in the hospital until at least the first week of January. His doctor said that that is the minimum. He will decide then if he is okay to go home.

Grace and I went to visit him today. It was nice to see him hopping around on crutches. One thing about Sejin -- he always looks happy, no matter what is going on. I'm not sure how happy I would be in the hospital that long with a TV blaring all day and noisy roommates who, according to him, drink and smoke late into the night. Anyhow, he was happy to see us. Grace was well-behaved, as usual. She ate a whole cup of yogurt by herself while we were there, despite being fed before we left. She has a massive appetite. She can eat and eat and eat. I read on one of those baby developmental sites that at around this age babies may lose some interest in food because they are exploring their world -- not this one! I'm having trouble keeping up with her food prep and dishes, actually! The good news is that her chewing is getting better and better, and soon enough she'll be able to enjoy just about whatever I'm eating.

Other than that, I'm kept very busy during the day, keeping up with cooking, cleaning, laundry, caring for Grace, etc. I don't have very many spare moments to myself, except for this time after she's gone to sleep. Even then, I often can't stay awake very long to relish these moments. I've been going to be before 10 every night, which is really weird for me.

Speaking of sleep, I don't want to speak too soon, but I think we're making a bit of headway with the nursing at night situation. Lately I've been thinking a lot about night weaning Grace because she's getting me up far too often for a 12 month old. A lot of it is habit, and of course, we just had a major trip and she's in new surroundings. I'm probably going to start working again soon, so I really don't want to be a zombie anymore.

Anyway, yesterday Grace was flipping through one of her many books and she stopped and pointed at a picture of a girl sleeping. I said to her, "Yes, the girl is sleeping. Sleeping." She just looked at me like she understood, and kept going. So last night when she woke up the first time, I decided to try to talk to her. I'm often guilty of just picking her up right away. So, this time, I just gave her my hand and told her softly it's time to go back to sleep. After a few whimpers, she tried to go back to sleep. She tossed and turned for a few minutes with her eyes closed and eventually she fell asleep.

That encounter gave me hope that she won't be as hard to wean as I thought. Well, it will still be hard, but at least she understands what's going on and what she should do at night. It's also very exciting to know that she understands what I'm saying -- well, at least some of it. Sometimes I don't know what she's getting and what she's not. But she's probably got quite a little vocabulary stored up in there.

To end this post, a few cute things she's been doing... I let her listen to Sejin on the phone... since then, she holds my phone up to her ear, listening for someone. She goes "woof woof" when she sees a picture of a dog. She also likes to share her food with me. Today she thought it was hilarious while I was trying to juggle a couple of her blocks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baby jail and noisy neighbours

This big hunk of plastic is great! I was originally going to buy a traditional playpen, but foreign brands like Graco and Fisher Price are so expensive here in Korea. I couldn't find anything under $150. So I decided to look local. I found this strange looking thing on gmarket:
It was only $50 and ended up being a better choice because it's much bigger. Whenever I have to do something like shower, laundry, dishes, etc, I throw Grace in here with some toys and books and she's usually good for a little while, maybe 20 to 30 minutes. I try not to put her in too often so she doesn't get frustrated with it or feel cooped up. Anyway, I love good buys.

It was a rough early morning today. Grace went to sleep last night at 7:00 pm but wanted to get up at 4:00 a.m. We've been back a week now, so I think it's time to start "guiding" her onto a suitable sleep schedule. She really wanted to get up at 4, despite being obviously still tired, so it began. It took me about an hour to get her back to sleep. There was a tantrum. But in the end it worked out because she got up at 8:00 in a much better mood. I think we might be getting somewhere now. She's down for a nap now. Fingers crossed that this jetlag is behind us.

The apartment is slowly shaping up. An online friend lent me her nanny for two days and that really helped. She did some unpacking and cleaning for me, watched Grace while I did some organizing, she went to the market to get me some fresh food and even did a bit of cooking. I'm starting to finally feel like this place is coming together, although there is still a lot to do.

Now, if I could only get the people upstairs to move out, things would be even better. This apartment is old, and noise travels through the walls/floors very easily. There are obviously a number of children upstairs, because there is constant thumping, piano playing, etc. I can deal with that to a degree -- I certainly can't ask them to stop living their lives just because I'm downstairs! But last night things got really out of hand. There was some serious rough housing going on, running, pounding, sounded like the kids were fighting, except it went on and on and on. Finally I went upstairs and rang the doorbell -- three times. They would not answer because they knew who was there and for what reason. Finally, I had Sejin call the maintenance office to make a complaint. Shortly after that, the maintenance office called me and said don't worry, they will be quiet now. Hmmm, perhaps this isn't the first time they've had complaints about them. Anyway, after that, things quieted down a bit. Hopefully it doesn't get like that every Friday night!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And we're back

After a very long trip to Canada, Grace and I are back in Korea. It was quite a trip, just the two of us. In short, it sucked -- but we got through it. We got up at 3:00 a.m. to leave for the airport at 4 a.m. -- that part really sucked. Grace puked all over herself in the car on the way to the airport (combo tired/car sickness?), so I had to change her clothes and wipe down her snowsuit as best I could.

The first 5 hour flight from Toronto to Vancouver was OK, but our seats were bad. We were seated near the back of the plane. I asked at check-in if I could have a bulkhead seat, but was denied, for what reason I have no idea. I asked the friendly Air Canada employee (note the sarcasm!) how priority for the bulkhead seats worked and expressed my deep desire for one, but she said should could not do anything -- yeah right. So I endured.

After that flight, we had one hour to get off the plane in Vancouver. I decided that this was ridiculous -- just who gets these bulkhead seats? So I talked to the agent at the gate. I just told her straight up that I needed a bulkhead seat as my daughter was going to be restless on the next 10 hour flight and I would need room to get up frequently, have access to carry-ons, etc. Well -- you'd think I had asked her for the moon. After some typing with intermittent huffing, she finally said I had been granted a bulkhead seat.

Now, I thought I had read somewhere on Air Canada's site that bulkhead seats were given to whoever needs them most, usually to handicapped people, people traveling with infants, or unusually tall people. As I boarded the plane for Seoul, I was interested to see why it was so hard for me to get a bulkhead seat -- perhaps there was a group of 6 handicapped people flying that day? No, there was not. Besides me and Grace, there were five young men seated in the special row. Anyway, this issue really bothers me, and I intend to contact Air Canada to see what exactly their policy is.

Ten hours went by slowly, as it always does. One of the worst parts was when I thought to myself, "Wow, we've been in the air for a while now -- time is flying"...then I saw that we still had seven hours left. Grace was good for the most part. She did not sleep very well, as I had expected. She has trouble relaxing enough to settle into sleep. I am not much different. I don't think I've ever slept on a plane. But we got through with lots of snacks, pacing, and a surprise new toy I had packed in my bag. The plane touching down was the best feeling in the world.
On the airplane....many hours more to go:
My friend L met me at the airport, and boy was it good to see a familiar face. The airport van guy was there waiting, too. It felt weird to be on the road with Grace on my lap rather than in a car seat. We finally got to my apartment and L helped me quickly lower the crib mattress and hang Grace's curtains. She ordered some chicken, although I was too tired to eat much. Grace had a few french fries and went to sleep. And that was the trip.

Since then, Grace has been pretty jetlagged, naturally. She's been up in the night a lot. But tonight she went down at around 7:00, which is great, so I'll get her up at 7 tomorrow and hopefully we'll be on our way back to a normal sleep schedule. She's adjusting to the new apartment well. I've just been spending lots of time with her. I brought back as many of her toys as I could fit, for familiarity's sake. She is settling in well, although she must be wondering where grandma and grandpa are.
The day after our arrival:
On Monday we made the trip into Seoul to see Sejin. He missed us a lot. I missed him too, of course, but I've been pretty busy writing books, caring for Grace, traveling, unpacking, dealing with jetlag. But he's just been sitting in a hospital bed for 3 weeks, so it must have been worse for him. He was pretty happy to see us. We didn't stay for long since Grace was so tired, but it was a nice visit. He says his foot is getting better, but he still has a lot of recovery left ahead of him. He showed me both of his legs side-by-side, and his injured leg is a lot smaller than the other. It's like the muscle has wasted way from not being used. He cannot move his toes yet. His doctor is now encouraging him to walk around on crutches, but he says it hurts a lot.
Anyway, that's a long update, but a lot has happened! I'm really looking forward to Sejin's return home. I hope he can be here for Christmas...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sarah Status

Should be leaving in less than 24 hours, but a huge storm swept through last night with wind gusts over 100 km/hr. Wind has died down somewhat today, although there are still strong gusts. It is also snowing intermittently, so with the gusting, visibility is very poor at times. Although I can check in to my flight on the web, I'm waiting in case there are delays. If there are delays, I will be able to reschedule my flight without penalty. But I have a feeling I will be leaving on time. Toronto is north of here and does not seem to be getting as severe weather. We always get blasted here in Fort Erie (about 10 minutes from Buffalo NY) with lots of lake effect snow. Just sucks that this had to hit right before my flight to add more worries to my already overcrowded brain.

Other than that, things look good. Bags are packed. Going out soon to get some diapers and last minute things. Grace is napping even though the wind is howling. It will definitely be an interesting flight. Stay tuned for that post!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

It keeps getting better

I was feeling optimistic that Sejin may be home by the time I get back to Korea, but it doesn't appear so. It looks like he may not even be home for Christmas. Apparently, some of the tissue in his foot is 'dead.' I'm not a doctor, but to me, this doesn't sound good. He has another surgery scheduled for Wednesday to cut out this dead tissue. Hopefully there is not too much dead tissue, otherwise, they will have to transplant some from somewhere else. I guess all the oxygen therapy he's been getting has not been effective enough in rejuvenating his twisted up foot.

Man, what a mess. Sejin is still trying to find a decent lawyer from his hospital bed. I'm wondering if there is going to be anything I can do to help him when I return to Korea. It's going to be just me and Grace after we return. I've also been thinking of all the things Sejin used to do for me -- grabbing bread on the way home, going to the health centre with me and Grace, cleaning up, watching Grace while I get an hour extra sleep... It's going to be a big adjustment for me, too...

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I thought that the above photo could be best described by "Tah-dah!" Grace is one funny duck. She is happy most of the time, especially while she's eating. Actually, she hardly ever stops eating, so she's usually pretty happy. This is a huge relief to me. When she was a little baby, I couldn't understand why she wanted to nurse around the clock. I thought something was wrong with ME -- like I wasn't meeting her needs or something. Now, looking back, I know exactly what was going on: this kid just likes to eat!! Whew! Case closed!

Now the only problem I have is figuring out what to feed her. She's been eating a lot of baby purees and cereal of course, but she seems to be on the verge of being ready to eat "real" food. She's quite good at chewing up toast, crackers, small pieces of fruits and vegetables...and a lot of them! So, before I go home, I'm going to have to make up a meal plan of healthy available foods so I'm never at a loss of what to feed her.

And those baby snacks -- they're expensive! Grace likes all those baby cookies, yogurt melts, rice crackers, etc, but those are not cheap. I'm also going to have to look into some healthy snack alternatives or she's going to make me go broke!


Sejin is still in the hospital dealing with his crushed foot. Poor guy has a sore butt from lying in bed all the time. He has been on the phone trying to find a lawyer who wants to take his case. Unfortunately, the law in Korea works much differently that it does here. Surprisingly, most lawyers are not interested in taking his case, probably because such cases are a dime a dozen. Also, he has found out through his research that the bus company (as I had suspected) cannot be trusted, as they are known to bribe the police department into changing official police reports. The bus company went to see Sejin yesterday in the hospital, simply asked how he was doing, and left within a minute. Very strange. I try to stay optimistic, but this does not look very good for us right now. We will probably end up having to accept a pitiful settlement and then I will be forced back to work in order to keep us afloat. We may end up moving to Canada sooner than I had thought. We may have to get the money from our apartment, pay off our debts and start all over in the Great White North. I just know I don't want to stay in a country where my family has been so greatly wronged.


A Christmas angel for the tree. I like how she turned out: