Saturday, October 30, 2010


One of those days.

I hate how Sejin has to work Saturdays. It just seems so wrong when he goes to work at noon, I look at Grace and say, So now what? What to do to amuse ourselves in Uijeongbu on a Saturday afternoon with no car?

We started our day at the doctor's. It was beyond in no seats available and people waiting outside. Somehow, we got in fairly quickly. Sejin suspects they sent us in early. The nurses and receptionists dote on Grace, bring her behind the reception desk, give her candy, take her picture, all that. So we got in quickly and got Grace her flu shot. I have no idea what technique the doctor is using to administer these shots, but the last two times, she has not cried at all -- not even a whine. She gets her Pororo bandaid and lollipop (this seems to be her main concern), says good-bye to the doctor, and off we go. It's really unbelievable. She did realize it happened because shortly after she pointed at her arm and said something. I asked if it hurt and she said yeah. I guess she's just a tough one.

Then Sejin left for work (that's when Grace did cry) and we went home for lunch and naptime. After she finally went down, she slept for 2.5 hours, which is a bit strange. She got up and I realized that tomorrow is the big Halloween get-together at Children's Grand Park. I could have easily picked up a bag of mini chocolate bars to hand out, but I wanted to put in more effort, so I loaded Grace in the stroller and off we went to Lucky Mart. It's almost impossible to find Halloween goods in Korea unless you're in Itaewon or a party goods store in Namdaemun, so I knew there would be nothing in Uijeongbu. I managed to find some cellophane bags and orange ribbon, and of course, candy. It was after I got home that I realized I had left the cellophane at the store.

I didn't give up. I cut up some hanji paper and taped it together into bags. They look so ghetto, but I don't think the kids will mind. It's more fun to open a little bag of treats than just get a candy, I think. We'll see.

The house is a disaster and Grace has been giving me trouble sleeping this past week or two. She wants me to sing song after song and gives me every excuse in the book for getting up. I'm just exhausted. I try not to get worked up about it because she tends to have a little sleep upset every month or so and then goes back to normal. Who knows what goes on in their minds. When I just went into her room she seemed to be telling me something about a bug flying around. Or maybe she was talking about the praying mantis we saw at the playground today. I'll be happy when she can express herself better.

That is quite an incoherent blog post, but I'm going to leave it as it is and get some work done while I can. Big day tomorrow.

By the way, does anyone know what these berries are? I know embarrassingly little about plant life. I thought this tree was so pretty, so I parked Grace in front of it and took a picture.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Following Through

I've been procrastinating worse than ever these days, and with the amount of things I have to do, I really can't afford to. So I've been listening to quite a lot of self-help audio books in an attempt to get myself pumped up in order to do what I've got to do. Problem is, they work for a very limited amount of time. I turn off my mp3 player resolved to do everything I need to do right now, feeling like I can take on anything and succeed. Later that night, I'm eating Pringles and Facebooking rather than working on the book I should be writing (Sejin: do not get chips in the Homeplus order ever again).

The most recent selection I've been listening to is a one hour interview with psychologist Steve Levinson who wrote "Following Through." I really like his ideas. The premise of his book (which I haven't read yet) is that we are simply flawed as human beings when it comes to following through. We are really good at creating good intentions. We know what is best for us and what we should do. But it is a design flaw that prevents us from actually doing. Unlike the squirrel who frantically gathers and stores nuts in preparation for winter without wasting any time, we almost always choose to do what feels good right now, until there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. Since we are flawed and have this natural tendency to procrastinate, we have to find ways to trick ourselves into getting things done. I haven't finished listening to the whole interview yet, but I thought this was an interesting and funny story:

He describes a man he knew who decided he needed to get up a half-hour earlier (at 5:30 a.m.) every morning in order to do some studying he could not fit into his day. He tried, but of course, he could not get up earlier. So he set an alarm clock in his room for 5:30 a.m., and set another clock in his children's room for 5:35 a.m.. Every morning, he knew that if he did not get up at 5:30 and rush to his children's room to turn off their alarm, they would wake up cranky and his wife would be furious. This worked.

I like this guy's approach better than the typical self-help books out there because he does not appeal to your emotions like they do. It's comforting to think that this is a problem we all share. I'm not perfect and I can't do anything I set my mind to, like Tony Robins says I can. But I can take calculated measures to improve my productivity, which will feel rewarding in itself and lead to more productivity.

I can do something like, for example, end this blog post.

Last Class

I finished teaching my last ESL class at 6:40 p.m. I really do not enjoy teaching ESL, so I was happy to be done. But at the same time, I was a bit sad to leave my students. I have these protective feelings about them because they've come so far with me. I'm not the best ESL teacher in town, but I was able to help each of them improve in some way. The teacher they had before me was terrible, and many of the kids were confused about the basics. Now I feel that they each have a much firmer grasp of English conversation and grammar. Some of them had really low confidence about speaking English, and now nearly jump out of their seats to answer each question. So, I had mixed feelings about leaving them. But I must move on. I have an entire teacher's guide to write in the next week and then I have to decide on what to do with eight years worth of stuff. Oh yes, and the application.
A few of my favourite pics of my students.

Monday, October 25, 2010


The temperature has plunged. It's freezing.

Well, I guess the first really cold day always feels freezing. I really wish Grace didn't have an aversion to blankets. So much as drape one over her and she goes nuts. She'll be wearing multi-layer pajamas to bed this winter, Korean style.

It feels like fall just got here and it's already on the way out!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finished project

A very short and sweet project. I love Grace's fall jacket, but it has a wide open neckline (something I didn't consider when I purchased it at Mesa in Dongdaemun). The temperature is supposed to take a plunge next week, so I thought I'd better hurry up and make her a scarf. If it drops that much, I may have to dig out her old winter jacket to see if it still fits (I bought it big last year).We've really been enjoying the lovely, comfortable fall weather these days... cool enough for a jacket, but no need for hats, mitts, etc. It's easy to take my camera out in this weather too, because I'm not lugging around extra weight in clothing. I took lots of photos of Grace today. I think I've said this before, but child photography is really tough. Over a few hours of outside play today, I can count the times on one hand she looked at the camera. Of course, "looking at camera" shots are not always necessary or the best, but it seems as if most of my shots are of her back, or a motion blur. Oh, and I lost my lens hood somewhere down by the river. *sigh*

Monday, October 18, 2010


That's a sigh of relief that Grace is recovering from a very intense illness. I still cannot believe she had a high fever for over 5 days. I didn't even think that was possible. Her fever came down on Saturday and she developed a bad runny nose and her lungs were clogged, but she is looking a lot better today. The doctor was pleased with her recovery when we saw him this morning. Grace even went to bed happily tonight. She can breathe! We can both breathe!

Dealing with a sick child of Grace's age is very difficult. She cannot express herself effectively and does not understand why she is so uncomfortable. She does not understand why I torture her with by going to the doctor and taking medicine. She does not understand when I say, don't sleep like that because it's harder to breathe that way (she sleeps with her bum up in the air with her head on her pillow).

So, life is almost back to normal. Now I just have to write a book in a week!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Write-off week

Grace has tonsillitis. She's had a fever for exactly three days now. Surprisingly, she's not in such a bad mood. A little clingy and sleepy, but when she's up she's not that grumpy. I've been letting her lay on my pillow on the floor and watch her favourite show, "Boong boong ee." I just can't refuse when she looks at me and says in a hoarse little voice "poong poong." I've been taking her out for walks in the stroller because she enjoys looking around even though she does not have much energy to play. I really hope she starts coming around tomorrow. Not only do I want her back on her feet, but I have the publisher breathing down my neck right now, needing more material. There's not much I can do, though. I have this time after Grace goes to bed, but she's waking up so often coughing and feverish, every time I start writing I get interrupted and it just seems pointless. Plus, I'm so tired, because she's up countless times during the night. My brain is foggy. I'm just going to have to work extra hard once she's better to get back on track.

I finished a knitting project last night. I worked on it mostly on the bus and train, and just finished up the decreases and stem and leaf last night. I think it's really cute. I was worried Grace wouldn't like it because she refused to put it on at first, but she actually let me put it on her when we went out today. It's really not cold enough for it, but I just wanted a few pictures. Now that I got that little project out of my system, I really should finish up some works in progress.Remember Flora Dress? It took me a couple months to knit it, so I thought I'd better not leave it sitting in the dresser. I layered it over a long sleeve T-shirt with some tights and it still looks cute. After those works in progress are done, I'd really like to knit Grace a little sweater vest or something quick. And another hat I have in mind.Some people have asked about our plans to move to Canada. It's still on, but I've had to focus on priorities for the time being. Grace is sick, book to write, teaching 'til the end of the month. Application work is slow going for now, but will hopefully pick up again next week when Grace is well again. I have a feeling this is going to be a week-long kind of sickness.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Balancing the Hobbies

I seem to have added photography to my list of hobbies. I'm having a lot of fun with it. But I have not knitted or crocheted since I started reading about photography in August. Even Sejin commented to me the other night, "I haven't seen you knitting lately." So last night I decided I'd better get back on track with my stitching. I'm about 99% done my cardigan and bag, and there are countless things I want to knit. This is the time to do it, too, since the cold weather will be here soon. So last night I cast on a Halloween knit for Grace.

I went to a lighting seminar in Seoul today put on by the Seoul Photo Club. It was really informative, although I was disappointed to have to leave early. The meeting was 2pm, but some people came late, and then the initial introduction to off-camera flash took a long time to get through. By the time we started the practical part, it was just about time for me to go. The sun was setting and I had an hour trip back to Uijeongbu. But it was worth going to, and it was nice to meet other hobbyists of varying experience.

What I'm finding is the only downside to photography as a hobby is that it can get fairly expensive. I think my best bet is to keep working with what I have until I find I actually have the opportunity or need to work with a lighting set up. I get the feeling that some people get all kinds of equipment but don't necessarily need it. Seriously, how often do you have the time to set up a flash on a stand with umbrella? If you're doing someone's portrait, sure, but day-to-day, no.

One thing I am feeling the need for is a zoom lens. The 35mm prime is fantastic, but there have been times when I've had to back up pretty far to get in a scene, or I really wanted to zoom in to catch something. Yesterday, I went to Children's Grand Park with Grace's daycare (I'm still recovering). I was taking a photo of her whole group and I had to back up pretty far to get them all in. Then, we went to the seal show in an auditorium. I couldn't zoom in to get any action. Not a tragedy, but it felt so weird after having a point and shoot for so long to not be able to zoom.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New confidence

I've been very self-absorbed these days, not hanging out with anyone. If I do have free time, I just feel like being by myself so I can be with my thoughts. I feel weird, like my life is on the brink of a major change. Change is definitely coming, but it may be bigger than I had anticipated. I'm also feeling very confident. In the spring and early summer, I was really beating myself up about time and opportunities wasted. It's just recently that I realized that I'm only 30 and I have many talents and abilities that can be used to secure me a comfortable and enjoyable future. Also, Grace is getting older and therefore it's a bit easier for me to think about things like working, starting a business, taking classes, etc. I actually feel like learning again. It's great.

Sejin and I have a date tomorrow morning to see how his end of the application work is coming. Of course, the damned applications are taking longer than I thought they would. No surprise there. But at least they're getting done.

I'm still obsessed with my camera. Can't wait for the flash seminar on Saturday. Here is a little crocheted thing-a-ma-bob I made about a month ago. I stiffened it with glue. I might stick in on a cell phone charm clasp.

Monday, October 4, 2010


This is what happens when you set your laptop on the floor before you go to sleep and don't pick it up in the morning. Trust me, I warned Sejin about this. I think he learned his lesson.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It arrived

Fittingly, this is the last photo taken with my point-and-shoot:I forgot to post about this, but the much awaited DSLR camera has arrived. It came on Friday, while I was taking a hike with friend G, who came all the way from Suwon. She had an excuse to come to the area because she was buying an item from another expat. We had a lovely time. We ate outside at a restaurant with rickety tables and chairs, and climbed as far as we could before G decided she'd better head back to make the two hour train ride back to Suwon. I haven't had much time to play with the camera yet since we've been busy. I took it out on Saturday morning to a kids cafe, but I was still using it on "auto" mode. Grace was sick last night and today, so we've been stuck indoors. I've been dying to take it outside to give it a whirl in good light. But I am fairly impressed with myself, as I have made the jump to understanding how to set aperature and shutter speeds on "manual" mode, and just tonight figured out how to do the metering (have to test that though). I've been using it inside with an external flash and the photos are beyond acceptable. The same photos in low light indoors on my point and shoot are either barely visible with flash off, or washed out with flash on. Problem no longer!