Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

Another great Halloween!
Grace was a sugar skull, Ruby was a ballerina and August was Spiderman. The costumes were all perfect. We had all the costumes on hand in our dress up clothes (bought the spiderman mask for $4 at the DreamDepot in our neighborhood) and I love playing with makeup, so it was fun for everyone.
Grace and I practiced her makeup a few times over the weekend and I had two more times to get it right this week.

The first party was at school on Thursday. It was nice-they had classroom Halloween parties, parades, games and so on in the morning and then parent-teacher conferences Thursday afternoon. It was a smart way to structure the day.
before school Thursday
a blurry, close up of Grace's face with a Ruby photo bomb
The school party was really fun and all the kids and teachers dressed up.
Ms. Kim
One Direction (L-R Anna, Katie, BumJin, Laura, me)
At our school the specialist teachers (art, music, PE, library, Chinese) ran the halloween "carnival". I was in charge of tattoos.
Harry Stiles giving tattoos!!!!

I got these at the DreamDepot.
Quick-get this guy to a casino!
August's teacher made herself a Rainbow Fish costume-brilliant!
Miss Voss stayed like this for her afternoon parent-teacher conferences
Last year, Katie ordered this book of One Direction masks from the scholastic book order. We dressed the part and Laura even learned how to play their songs on the ukulele:

We had a good time and, as you can tell from the pictures, people said the masks were genuinely creepy.
Jim and the kids and I got home late, grabbed pork-cutlet and udon soup at a little restaurant and all fell asleep early.
Friday was a parent-teacher conference day followed by the Halloween party for the staff kids.
I got up early again knowing this was my last opportunity to perfect Grace's sugar skull makeup.

This video ends pretty abruptly, sorry about that. Here's a picture of Grace with the makeup:
We're all stuffed with too much sugar, but it was totally worth it. See you again next year, Halloween.
UPDATE: Because we live in the future (we're something like 15 hours ahead of Denver), Halloween was over in Korea before friends posted their American Halloween pictures. And I saw THIS:
(photo by Holly Garin)
WHAT? This combines two of my talents: giving fake tattoos and Sugar Skull makeup.
In traditional American style, the children sorted, counted, started at, smelled, compared and adored their candy this morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seoraksan National Park

Our goals this year are to be more social, explore more of Korea and for me to do one pull up. This weekend we accomplished 2/3 of these goals because this weekend we went to Seoraksan National Park with a huge group of people. I don't know if Seoraksan is technically known as a national treasure, but it should be.
We left right after school on Friday and caravaned the three hours east to Seoraksan.

This is Korea?! Where are the people and buildings?

Me and Meredith
Kristina and August
We got to the campsite just before it got totally dark. Sean got the fire going with wood that had been purchased and a mini blow torch.

I think Sean's done this before

Jim and Samson, bros for life
Ruby hanging out by the fire
Miller, making 4 hot dogs for himself

the kids hanging out by the fire
Kristina and Samson

Grace and Laura

August's first s'more!



We made s'mores, which were so amazing (there are no graham crackers in Korea, so we used digestive crackers with chocolate and that was a decent substitute). Then Meredith said she was going to make the best dessert we'd ever eat. This weekend there were a series of bad decisions as well as a series of good decisions. Meredith's "choco taco" was definitely at the top of the good decisions. I consider myself a "dessert person" and found it hard to believe that this would be the best dessert ever. But she was right. The choco taco was the best. dessert. ever. You take a tortilla, put peanut butter on it. Put marshmallows and chocolate on that and then cook it on a pan over the fire. It is amazing. I bet you don't actually need the fire to make this, but I'm going to tell myself you do or else I'm going to end up making this every day.
The choco taco
As I said, this weekend there was a series of bad decisions and a series of good decisions. We had the option of camping or getting a hotel room. I didn't want to sleep on the cold, hard ground, so we got a hotel room. What I didn't realise is that it was a "Korean style" hotel room. Korean style means that there is a mat on the floor-no bed. It's pretty disappointing when you leave friends and choco tacos for this:

The floors were heated, so that was nice, but it wasn't enough of a trade off. I hate living with regret, but in the morning, I saw this picture of Laura playing the ukalale:

and lots of people doing the butterfly and it made me sad that we'd missed the camping part.

Anyway, we got up and went out for breakfast with the Hobbs' and Cabalunas. I have to admit, I really wanted a choco taco for breakfast but we found a Korean restaurant instead. It turns out Korean breakfast is a lot like Korean lunch and dinner but with coffee. The bimimbap had an egg in it, so that seemed breakfasty enough to me.

We went to the campsite to meet up with the group. We were given the choice of two hikes. The easy one and a more challenging one. We were told the challenging one was one the kids could handle and would take about 4 hours. After choosing a hotel over camping, I no longer trusted my own ability to make decisions, so we went with the more challenging hike. We crammed people into cars and went to the trail head.

yeah hiking!
I consider this hike to be the next not great decision. I really think I would have enjoyed the hike if I was not there with my three young children. The hike had a definite path that had either rocks or stairs. But the rocks were uneven and there were parts that were very, very steep. I spent most of the time focusing on keeping myself from tumbling to my death and worrying about the kids. The kids were having a such terrific time though -not worrying at all about untimely death or a compound fracture awaiting every turn. They would just hiking up ahead and then wait for us.

Ruby, enjoying the hike
We made it to the top!

A perfect time for a selfie stick!

From what I've heard, hiking in Korea is very popular and goes something like this: you hike up, you drink soju (Korean liquor) at the top and you hike down, sometimes drunk, sometimes not. This is what I saw:  Just after starting our descent on the other side after reaching the top, we started seeing groups of hikers in head to toe brightly colored hiking gear, off to the side with their meals. They had full meals-drinks, plates, chopsticks, Tupperware containers and soju.

We stopped too, but our meal was a little more basic: power bars, peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla, banana chips and water.

August and Jim enjoying the break
We, along with nearly every other person in Korea, chose to go to Seoraksan this weekend because it was reported that this was the peak time for the leaves changing. It was intensely crowded.

Traffic jam! Check out the rubber necking at this tree:

This is what all the fuss was about-it was beautiful. (By the way, I didn't take any of the following pictures, but rather took these from people I was hiking with. So I was actually at these places, just didn't take any great pictures.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Sheep Cafe

Seoul has a million quirky cafes (remember the fish cafe? How about the Hello Kitty cafe? The wedding dress cafe, anyone?). I read about this one online last year and knew I had to visit. It's the Sheep Cafe! Which is actually called the Thanks Nature Cafe. It's in Hongdae and it's awesome.

The set up is less gross than what you're thinking. The cafe has two spaces: a normal, cafe-like indoor space and a gated patio with a few tables, a couple sheep and a pen.
The inside has a sheep theme and the outside has actual sheep.


Their names are Elsa and Anna
August with either Elsa or Anna

 When we got there the sheep were hanging out on the patio while some people who were having coffee. The sheep were very tame and let the kids pet them. Shortly after we showed up with 5 children (we were with the Cabaluna's), they put the sheep inside their pen. I doubt this was a coincidence. After they were in the pen it was feeding time and they let the kids feed them some dried herbs.

After petting the sheep for a while we ordered waffles. I got a banana waffle for the kids to split. It had bananas, whipped cream and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They ate this treat like they'd been starved for days. Don't worry, before they ate the owner of the cafe dropped a package of baby wipes on the table for us to clean out hands.

eat! eat! EAT!
After the kids inhaled the waffle, they went right back outside to see the sheep.

Here's the whole gang. Please excuse my really tall hat.
You would have bought the same hat if you
had seen it in the $3 hat bin too. Trust me. 

Look how cute the sheep is in her little house.

As a "service" (freebie) the owner took our picture and printed it out on this little printer. We unanimously decided it should go to Leanne since she's moving to the Philippines and will need pictures on her refrigerator. 

 Side note. Occasionally couples will wear matching outfits to show they are in love. This couple must be very, very in love-look at their matching shoes!

Then dinner. We had travelled all the way to Hongdae-where else would we get dinner but Taco Bell?!
This is something new and it's good. I can't remember the name, but
don't worry, all Taco Bells have pictures on their menu. 

Overall, I can tell you that the sheep cafe is worth the journey to Hongdae. And for those of you looking for a reason to visit Korea, this could maybe nudge you in the direction of coming for a visit!

Directions to the sheep cafe:
Hongik University Station (line 2) exit 9. Walk striaght out of exit 9. At the first big intersection turn left and go up the hill. The cafe is across the street from the Aldo shoe store. It's on the B1 level, so you won't be able to see it just walking in the street. It's right below the cafe Cantata, look for this sign: