Monday, June 28, 2010

Bilingual Babies

Grace has been showing us more and more lately that she understands two languages. For most things, she can only say one of the words (the one that is easier to pronounce), but she definitely understands both versions. Yesterday she said her first word in both languages. I was asking her about the baby she saw at the park (she was in love with this little six month old at the playground). She said "baby!" and then looked at SJ and said "agi!" That was very exciting. Both baby and agi are easy to pronounce, so not a surprise that that was her first. Well, she can also say "dog" and "mung mung"...sort of correct. I think the decision to put her in daycare was also good for her language development. She picks up a lot of Korean there and spends the rest of the time with me speaking English, so her exposure is pretty balanced right now.

I had a strange conversation with a woman at the doctor's the other day. I ran into this Korean woman there before. She started talking to me because her six-month-old son is also a mixed baby (French father). She said that her son will be trilingual. I said, yes, that would be fantastic, go for it. She asked about Grace and her language and I said she's learning both Korean and English and we're just talking to her in both languages. She said that she has decided to teach her son Korean first because that is the harder language. I just did the "smile and nod" because I don't know her at all and it was almost our turn to see the doctor. I guess it didn't occur to her that no language is really hard for a baby. I haven't done any in-depth research on the subject, but it seems everyone knows that babies can pick up two or even more languages with proper exposure. Hopefully she'll rethink that decision.

In other news, I'm writing the last bit for the teacher's guide I've been working on. Just a few more unit tests and then some unit revisions. It will be nice to get this one done.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Living on the edge

I'm getting all cocky these days with my knitting. After waiting more than twenty minutes for the train to arrive this morning, I was disappointed to see a very busy train pull up. I was hoping for a seat because it's a long ride into Seoul, and I wanted to knit. Well, I decided to knit anyway -- my lace shawl -- standing up. This isn't recommended, but I get so little real knitting time these days that I wanted to make use of the hour ride, sitting or standing. I'm happy to report that there were no catastrophes and I got done an entire row on the way in. Yes - just one row. I'm on the home stretch (I hope!) of Swallowtail shawl and I'm pretty sure there are over 300 stitches on my needles now. One row takes on average 40-45 minutes. If it were straight knitting or purling, it would take less, but working these damned nupps takes up so much more time and yarn (btw, this video on nupps helped me tremendously -- they're not that easy). The other bad news about this project is that it is getting too big to take out. It was quite bulky in my bag all afternoon. It's definitely not the best on-the-go project. The good news is that I'm happily obsessed with the pattern and although each row takes so long, I cannot wait to get back to it.

So, yes, I'm a newly addicted lace knitter. Before I never understood why all these knitters on Ravelry were knitting lace shawls. Now I know. It's really addictive. After you've done your share of straight garter, stockinette, and simple lace patterns, you really need something spicier to keep your interest, otherwise you cannot finish a project and the WIPs build up. Watching the beautiful patterns emerge as you knit is very exciting. The process itself is quite relaxing believe it or not. At least in the the pattern that I am working on, once you memorize the repeat for the row, it is almost like meditation as you repeat the stitches over and over. So yeah, I'm loving it.

I met some friends (D and S) in Dongdaemun this morning. Friday is usually my fun day. S wanted to hit the craft market to get some yarn and hooks because she is learning to crochet. I am always happy to assist friends in such matters. Of course, I could not help eyeing all the mounds and mounds of yarn, and in the back of my mind I was hoping to find some laceweight yarn. Naturally, I think I found some (think because I'm a lace newbie and I have never truly bought yarn labeled "laceweight" or 2-ply, but I'm pretty sure I found what I was looking for). The best part was that it was 6000 won for an enormous hank. The worst part was that it's a hank. I have to wind the balls myself. I usually stick to the pre-wound stuff neatly packaged in bags, but I've never seen laceweight in the bags. So I took the plunge. This is also bad news for Sejin, as he will no doubt be helping me wind the balls. I must get pictures.

So it was a great morning and afternoon. Craft shopping with friends, coffee and chat, some clothes shopping, and a seat on the train all the way home means I was in a pretty good mood when I stopped by daycare to get Grace. She was also in a good mood. She is getting really good at feeding herself. I thought that soup would be too tricky (she is a soup addict), but lately she only wants to feed herself. I help her balance the soup a bit, but she does most of the work, scooping and slurping. She is quite pleased about it and stops to clap here and there as she's eating. I do the cleaning up, of course.

Some knitting humour for you. Even if you're not a knitter, I think you'll find this pretty funny.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So you think you can knit?

Well, I thought I could, but now I know that I'm slow as molasses. Wasting time one day recently I came across some speed knitting videos on youtube. The speed at which some people knit is fascinating to me. Look at this knitting championship video.

Everyone knows that knitting continental style is faster than English style. I've been wanting to learn how to knit continental for a long time, but this would mean taking time out of knitting actual items to practice. But long run, it would probably be worth it. Here's a good video featuring the world's fastest knitter and some tips on how to pick up your speed (that is, if you can already knit continental).

Done...for now

Well, almost done. I finished unit 10 of 10 of the teacher's guide I was working on. I still have some revisions of previous units to do, as well as some tests to write, but the bulk of the writing is done. I've already been offered another project. I'm very happy to hear I've gained a good reputation as a writer with a few publishing companies (despite having gone way past deadline on this one). Over the last couple of days I've been debating whether to take this latest offer, and I finally just decided that I'm going to pass it up. In my mind, I have several contacts at each company and I have a good reputation with them. When I think I'm ready to start doing this work again, I'm sure I can make some calls and get in on another project. This project isn't the last one of its kind ever, which is often what I convince myself whenever I'm offered something. Time to say "no" for a change and get some very important things sorted out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

End of the quest?

I started this blog to keep my family up-to-date about what was going on with me way over here in Korea. I guess it has served its purpose. During Grace's first year, it was also nice to have a place to write about my frustrations regarding her sleep, and I got some good advice from kind posters. These days, I just don't know what to write about. Life is both exciting and mundane at the same time. Grace's developments are happening too fast for me to blog about, and would bore most other people anyway. That's the part of life that is exciting for me. Grace.

The mundane part is the day-to-day stuff. Teaching ESL. Writing ESL books. Having no clear goals to work towards. The summer heat. Making soup for the weekend. There's not much for me to comment on here because it's all really boring and so much is up in the air. I envy people who are working on something they're passionate about, like Mama Seoul and her doula work, and people who are making major life changes, like Running with Chopsticks who is moving out of country... people like We've got Seoul, who is working on her masters so enthusiastically, and people like Mommy Cha who is so dedicated to her business here in Korea. What the heck am I working on? A whole lot of nothing. Just working and not really getting anywhere.

I actually contacted a "life coach" the other day. I have no idea if this was a dumb thing to do or not, but I thought, what do I have to lose? He said he offers a free 30-min assessment session. I'm skeptical, but obviously desperate. Although I've been talking about moving to Canada for so long, I've come to the realization recently that things are not going to take care of themselves once I get there. I need to have a pretty solid plan in place for when I arrive, and preferably, a solid backup plan as well. I cannot just show up.

I'm working on a teacher's guide for D publishing company right now. It is so boring that I've really had trouble focusing on it. I could have been done it two weeks ago, but it is just that painful to write. Seriously, if you need to be told, "Tell students to open their books to page x and make sure pencils and erasers are ready. Play CD track x and ...." you'd better start thinking about another career. My mind is melting away and if they ask me to think of one more "extension" game I'm going to freak out. Where was I going with this? .... Oh yes.... This book is my last. I've already explained to publishers that I will be taking a break. I am going to meet with said life coach and see if he can help me (probably not, but it'll be interesting and it'll get me into Seoul for some fun time), and I'm going to take some time off to breathe, start Sejin's immigration paperwork (finally), and start making some major decisions about what we're going to do with our lives. The next few years are not going to be easy and I need to start preparing for that.

Want a Grace update? Well, here's one anyway. She's 17.5 months, cute as ever, and smart as a whip. She's saying a lot of words in two languages. She prefers some words in English and some in Korean, but understands both. For example, she understands perfectly when I use "milk," but she will only say "uyoo." I think it's because that is easier to say. She understands both words for bear, but prefers saying "bear" over "gom." So, that's all very exciting. Her sign language is out of control. I thought she would not want to sign much more at this point, but she is picking up even more. Sometimes I don't know what she is trying to sign because there are too many and I suspect she has made a few up on her own. Baby signs have made a huge difference in our lives. I highly recommend using them with your baby. They are still helpful for us. Her favourite one these days is "help." If she wants out of her stroller, or wants a bag opened or something like that, she will look at me and sign "help." I think this has drastically cut down on toddler whining. I'm pretty proud of her.She continues to thrive at daycare. Now more than ever I am convinced I made the right choice by sending here there. I had a lot of moments when I wasn't sure (especially when she was continually ill and tired), but she has adjusted well now and can't wait to get on the road in the morning to see her friends. When I pick her up in the afternoon, she goes around and shows me everything, like the toys, the pictures on the walls, her friends (she points and does the sign for "friends" proud). She really enjoys it. I have to laugh when her caretakers tell me that her favourite class is the English class (they have a Filipino teacher come once a week). She has a little boyfriend there. He's about 2 years old. The caretakers tell me he just adores her and takes good care of her. When I dropped her off at the playground yesterday he sat down beside her and held her hand and was just beaming. Grace just looked at me like, who is this guy? That kid definitely needs a little sister. Anyway, it's really great to know she is safe there and having fun while I'm working. And it's right in our apartment complex, which is very convenient.

That's our life in a nutshell. I'm loving watching Grace grow up so pretty and smart, but feeling like something is missing in our lives. A major change is needed, that's for sure.

Oh, I started this post because I have been torn on whether or not to delete this blog. Still undecided, like everything else. What a jumbled mess this post is.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dressing Up

Grace is starting to request what to wear in the morning. It makes for some interesting times and funny photos. When I mention getting dressed and going to daycare, she goes to her room, opens a drawer, pulls out some items, and decides what looks good. Sometimes I pull out some more and see what she will pick. Usually the one I suggest is not a good choice at all (dramatic head shakes). I sometimes let her wear what she wants, but sometimes her choice is just ridiculous -- you can't wear a bathing suit out to play!

On this particular morning she wanted to wear this dress...and the toque. I tried to get her to wear something different, but she wouldn't have it. So I put these things on her, and she appeared to be very satisfied. She sat there and soaked up the victory with this funny expression on her face. I eventually took the toque off, but she wore the dress to daycare.She chose this dress to wear out to a picnic one day. I had completely forgotten that I had bought it, so I was happy she found it.She has a thing with bibs now. She wants to put on as many as possible. Maybe she thinks they're fashion accessories. I'm not sure. But she'll whine until I keep putting them on her. Then she'll play like this, sometimes not being able to see her feet.Toddlers are strange people.