Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ballet Lessons

 Recently, Grace took an interest in ballet. She got a book from the library and made up her own "ballet" moves. She really wanted to take lessons, and then Ruby became interested to, so because I am an awesome mom, I looked into it.

First, I had our faculty support guy Reeon make some calls, but the place he found didn't fit with the school schedule. Then I found out that in Korea, every department store has a "cultural center" that offers ballet classes (and presumably other cultural classes). Let me take a minute to explain what a department store is like here. So you know how Macy's has maybe 3 floors? Department stores here all have about 6 levels. In the basement of every department store is a grocery (usually a fancy one) and most have a food court a floor below or above the grocery. Then each level has different little stores focusing on a specific type of store. For example the first floor is usually makeup, the second floor might be women's clothes, third mens, fourth kids, housewares and so on. It's kind of confusing because some of the stores are in defined stores-like they have walls around them, while others just have a sign over an area that says "United Colors on Benetton" or "Baby Gap". On the top floor (I've heard) are the cultural centers.

I had a Korean staff member call and find out about ballet class. Guess what?! It's only 50,000won for 8 weeks. The girls were nervous about their first class, but their teacher is bilingual and hands out stamps and stickers, so they had a great time.

Now each Saturday afternoon I get an hour to shop around the housewares department at the 2001 Outlet in Miegum while the girls dance. I love this store. I mean, just look at this rug!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thailand vacation part III: Elephant rides

For our last day in Koh Samui, we decided to ride elephants. 

Riding elephants was lots of fun. On the way back, Jim was able to stream a radio broadcast of the Orange Bowl live, sorry for your loss, Jim.

One last swim in the pool before leaving for Bangkok.

The day after riding the elephants, we flew back to Bangkok for a few more days. Once again, our hotel was great and had a beautiful pool.

It will be hard to top this trip. Now we're back in Seoul and it's good to be home. Happy New Year!

Thailand vacation Part II: Koh Samui

Why go anywhere else in the world? We had part of our honeymoon in Koh Samui 11 years ago. We debated where to go for this break, and while we wanted to see something new, we really liked Samui. This time we stayed further south than before and this part was more "family friendly". There were lots of families at the resort we stayed at.

There's not much to say. We went to the pool and beach every day. We ate tons and tons of good food.
Grace, Ruby, the pool and ocean
breakfast at the hotel
watching them set up for New Year's Eve
Jim and August swimming
New Year's Eve was tons of fun. We started with a big meal at the hotel.

Coconut soup
In Thailand, people let off lanterns for good luck. The sky was filled with them. It was so beautiful. We declined to get one because there seems to be some skill in getting them to lift off and not go skipping down the beach bumping in to people or trees or catching on fire.

At midnight, all the resorts set off huge fireworks. The sky was filled with fireworks and lanterns. It was stunning.
What a perfect way to start off a new year. Go 2014!
Grace got her hair braided. She was so excited. I finally made her take the braids out today. This is not just a tourist fad for her, I think she'd like to have these all the time.

These are my favorite pictures from the whole trip (they are of Ruby):

This is the view from the massage place.

The week went by so fast. While it would be nice to have more stamps in our passports and really explore the world, I just can't imagine a better place to be.

Vacation in Thailand (part I): Bangkok

The day after Christmas was cold and snowy. The perfect weather to stay inside and drink hot chocolate OR fly to someplace tropical.

brrrrr. this is the cold, snowy view from our apartment
We went to Thailand! We flew from Seoul to Shanghai for a quick plane change and then we were in Bangkok.
The play area at Incheon Airport
Our first hotel had a beautiful pool and the kids could not wait to get in. Of all the things to forget, I didn't pack Ruby's swimsuit. So Jim took August and Grace to the pool and Ruby and walked a few blocks to the Terminal 21 mall. This mall was pretty and terrifying. The mall was like eight or nine stories and the escalators go right up the middle.
Pretty lights at Terminal 21
Each floor in the mall is labeled a different location in the world.
This floor was San Francisco.
It was surprisingly difficult to find a store that sold children's swimsuits, but we finally did and went back to the hotel to swim.

On Saturday, the girls and I went to the Chatachuk weekend market. This was the most amazing market I've ever been to. We could have spent days there. It had everything:
super fresh, amazing smoothies
pants for dancing
button shoes
neon signs
There were so many artists there. The art was amazing. I found a picture I liked and I bought it....then carried it with me all over Thailand. Totally worth it.
This is mine
    We had a great time, but getting this art and meeting 
the artist was the highlight of the trip to the Chatuchak market.
You should know, however, this market is not for everyone. Jim, for example, would have hated it. It was everything I love about shopping (subsequently, these are also the things Jim hates about shopping): lots and lots of stores, bargaining, so many shops that I had to ask someone how to get out to get back to the metro, hours and hours of shopping.

Christmas 2013

Christmas this year was great. We were actually done shopping before Christmas Eve (this is entirely because I let Jim off the hook for shopping this year and he still managed to get me great gifts that I picked out myself).

Christmas Eve started with some errands. I feel like I've entered a more advanced level of expat living because I got the emissions checked on my car. What?! In Korea, cars here keep their license plate for the life of the car. Emissions are checked every 2 years, regardless of who owns the car. I got an official looking letter in the mail a few weeks ago and took it in to work to have it translated. I followed the map Reeon at work sent me and found the place without getting lost. It turns out an emissions place looks just like it does in the states. It was the same as in the U.S. except there was no line.

Then I prepared for our Christmas dinner with a trip to Emart. I bought two pork roasts, potatoes, cream ,butter, broccoli and the whole shebang. So many opportunities are opening up to us now that we know how to use the oven. 

After all the prep work, I took the girls for ice skating at Garden 5 with their friend, Danika. Garden 5 is a huge mall with an ice rink in the middle. It's $1 for an hour for kids and skate rental is $1. Helmets are free and required, no matter how ill-fitting.
looking up from the ice rink

Ruby, Danika's mom and Danika
After, we went inside and had hot chocolate!
When we got home, the kids opened their new pjs (a Farley tradition) and made brownies for Santa. Again, knowing how to work one's oven really helps with Christmas prep.

Testing them to make sure they're good enough for Santa.
Santa did come. He brought lots of fun presents and on Christmas night, we had a very familiar and delicious pork roast with mashed potatoes. It was a great Christmas. Maybe this will inspire you to come visit Korea next year!