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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gmarket Products We Love!

There are a few things we have bought on Gmarket recently that I really have enjoyed having around.

 

The first is our oven, which I mentioned in a previous post.20091129 001

 

It sells for about 88,000 won on Gmarket.  It’s a convection oven so it cooks things super quickly.  It is portable and runs off of electricity but it still is large enough to bake cake rounds.  Like what you see?  You can purchase it here.

 

The second are the wonderful baby legs that TheFry has been sporting these wintry days.  I don’t have any great pictures of them so far, so I’ll probably have to come back and post some later.

 

Here is TheFry, wearing his striped leggings that a friend  bought for him on Gmarket:

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Here you can see the picture on the bum (a lion playing the piano!):

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One not-so-great thing about the leggings is that after several washes they get a lot of fuzzies on them.  If I can manage to get my hands on an electric razor I can make those go away.

The leggings are great for kicking around the house, wearing them as a second layer of protection against the cold, or wearing them with a long-sleeved onesie for pajamas.

There are also leggings that are not like tights (think leg warmers, only for the whole leg).  Those, from my experience, do not wear out as quickly.  However, I prefer the leggings that are like full pants because the seem more comfortable and they have cute pictures on the booty. ^^

Anyhow, they are all super cute and come in many different styles.  You can see them or purchase them here.  They generally cost less than 5,000 won each.

 

The third thing that we are really, really loving right now is our Gmarket highchair. 016

 

Remember when TheFry used to sit in this rickety old thing?Picture0033

 

He was starting to tip it over by rocking back and forth, the chair was difficult to clean, and he could reach almost anything on the table.  It was completely not toddler-proof!

 

Look how much we love our new highchair: 017

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I believe it is good through age five or six.  Right now he is 15 months and about 9 kg so we have a while to go!  The supports that run along the bottom and connect the legs (not pictured above) have anti-slip pads on them so the chair can’t be pushed around.  The best part about this chair was probably the price – about 26,500 won!  Interested?  You can purchase it here.

 

Gmarket has made our lives incredibly easier as items for baby are often too expensive for us to buy in stores.  Aside from that, there are some items on Gmarket that have been pretty much impossible to find in stores, such as:

 

1. Settlers of Catan board game, found here.

2. Non-old-lady bras that are larger than size B, found here.

3. Reasonably-sized cribs that cost less than 200,000 won, found here, here, and here. (we almost bought the second one, but decided against it due to the size of our apartment).

4. Razbaby pacifiers, which lack the chisel-tip that every other pacifier I’ve seen in Korea has, found here.  My son hates chisel-tip pacifiers, and although I haven’t ordered these yet, I will definitely keep this place in mind for the future.  They also have pacifier clips, which I have not seen in Korea, either.

5. If you search Gmarket in English, you can find a variety of larger but non-old-lady-looking clothing in “plus-sized clothing”.  The range of how large the sizes get depend on the Gmarket store.

 

Some of the pages listed above were actually found by searching Gmarket in Korean.  Gmarket can be a little tricky to operate if you don’t know any Korean, so here are some general hints about operating Gmarket:

 

1. the Korean site is gmarket.co.kr.

2. You can search in English and navigate the payment system in English using english.gmarket.co.kr.  However, not all items available on Gmarket in Korean are availalbe by searching this site.

3. Even if you search Gmarket in English, the pages will still have a lot of information in Korean.  The pages have a lot of information in general, so scanning is recommended.  Look carefully at items for numbers and measurements, which of course you won’t need Korean to interpret. 

For example, if you are looking for a crib, look to see a diagram of the crib with the measurements drawn in.  If you want to know if the crib is adjustable, look at all the pictures and see how it is used.  Some Gmarket stores make this easier than others.

4. Clothing items are listed in Korean sizes, so make sure you’ve looked up a size chart and you know the Korean conversions before shopping around.  Also keep in mind that most standard measurements in Korea are metric.  Knowing your measurements in millimeters/centimeters will help a lot.

5. The names of many items are English words written in Hangeul (the Korean alphabet).  Knowing a little bit of Hangeul will enable you to order most things on Gmarket yourself.  Of course, you could always get assistance from a friend, relative, or coworker who knows Korean well!

6. You can pay for your purchases via credit card, bank transfer, or PayPal.  I usually use PayPal and it is pretty quick and painless.

7. You can ship many purchases domestically within Korea and also internationally.  Make sure that when you are looking at your shopping cart your items are going to the right place!

8. Gmarket stores, as with many stores in Korea, are amazing to do business with.  Their items are often discounted, shipping for small items and clothing is never over 5,000 won (as far as I can see) and is quite often free of charge.  Also, I almost always get coupons and little freebies with my purchases!

9. Need something from Gmarket and are still confused?  Just drop me a line!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This is just a quick little picture-post about our Christmas this year!

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First of all, some friends lent us their Christmas tree.  It really helped put me in the Christmas spirit!  We taught TheFry how to use “gentle touches” with the tree and kept him from stealing ornaments.  Eventually he found out that the tree was pretty to look at but otherwise boring so he left it alone 90% of the time.  Here is a picture of our tree with all the presents underneath!

 

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Here is a present on the tree – a homemade version of Hnefatafl that I made for PapaFish!  We first played the game on our honeymoon in Iceland back in the summer of 2007.  We considered buying it in Iceland, but decided it would be cheaper to buy back home.  When we couldn’t find it for any cheaper (and it was only available through online shopping!), we talked for forever about making a version, but it never panned out – not until this year, anyway!

 

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This present was “given” to TheFry at his nursery school by “Santa”.  His Korean name, DaeSung, is written on the front.  Actually, PapaFish and I purchased it for him, wrapped it, and gave it to “Santa” to pass off for us.  Can we say “photo-op”?  It was the smallest present handed out at the school’s Christmas party – perfect for the youngest student!

 

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All the children decorated their own Christmas cakes.  Each cake had three layers of low-sugar sponge cake, held together and frosted by whipped cream (without sugar), and decorated with sprinkles and chocolate frosting.  PapaFish and I enjoyed it with a glass of Moscato on Christmas night!

 

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TheFry goes to bed early on Christmas Eve like a good little boy!

 

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On Christmas Day, we visited a friend’s house for Christmas Dinner.  TheFry played in the exersaucer.

 

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He loved it so much!

 

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TheFry spend some time on Dec. 26 exploring the cabinets in the kitchen.

 

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He helped me set the washing machine.

 

 

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He watches the clothes getting washed all squeaky clean!

 

 

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All the rest of the weekend after Christmas TheFry was sick.

 

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He spent most of his time with Sucker and Blanket, his two best friends.

 

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He also asked if we could read a book.  Of course, he helped turn the pages!

 

We hope all of our friends and family had a very Merry Christmas and will enjoy a joyous and prosperous New Year.  We love you and wish you all the best!

 

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Don’t be too sneaky, now!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baby Steps

TheFry took his first steps yesterday.

He was scooting around the furniture, but the computer table was a bit too far from the laundry rack.  He reached as far as he could, then shimmied two steps to the computer table before reaching its leg.

It was not a magic moment, full of wonder and giggles and delight.  He didn’t even notice what he had done.

I have been eager for him to walk, but there was a slight terror sinking in my stomach at that moment.  When he does walk, will he notice it, or will it just come so naturally that he’ll skip straight to running?

We’ll see!

Monday, December 7, 2009

There is no time…

…for anything.

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TheFry looks out over his dominion, planning his next campaign.

 

Our days generally go like this:

-get up at 9am when TheFry wakes us

-make breakfast, clean

-go to work

-come home from work

-entertain TheFry until he’s tired

-put TheFry to bed (hopefully) before 1:00am

Right now it’s 1:00am, and he’s still not sleeping on his own.  He will be up at 9:00 tomorrow morning.

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TheFry looks cute but he is really a time-stealing megalomaniac!

So here’s the shimmy, quick-and-dirty:

1. We bought an oven!  We bought it on gmarket.  Maybe I’ll post a link to it later.  It was about 82,000 won.  It’s a portable electric convection oven but it has 3 trays and can fit a bunch of stuff in it.  The only problem is that if you use the top or bottom tray, things get cooked unevenly.  Still, it was a godsend.

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Halleluja!

2. TheFry is still not talking or walking.  He prances around on his tippy-toes while holding onto walls.  He also blabs all the time but his speech is incoherent.  He can recognize a few words, namely “mom”, “dad”, “milk”, “blanket”, “sucker”, “snack”, and a few Korean words, as well (words for “dad” and probably some other things).

 

3. How did TheFry learn Korean, do you ask?  Since mid-November we have put him in a nearby Korean nursery school.  Our main reason for doing this was that we anticipated PapaFish would find a job.  He is still interviewing for several jobs without much luck.  Everyone wants him to be able to work a swing shift between the hours of 5:00am and 10:30pm.  What’s up with that?  Apparently shifts are not cool anymore.

Secondly, it came to our attention that TheFry gets cramped in our teeny little apartment.  There is not enough space for him to explore.  We are bad at coming up with things for him to do.  We are busy people, needing to clean and cook and do laundry.  TheFry does not tolerate this.  Because he is so persistent at fussing and keeping us from daily chores, and especially since he does not sleep much during the day (his naptimes are a joke – more like ridicule!) or night, we found that we do not have enough time to give him the attention and exercise he needs.

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TheFry has crossed “the line” into the kitchen.  The look on his face says “What, did I do something wrong?”

So, in hope that we would have a place for him to go in the case that PapaFish found a job and also to give him some entertainment and a healthy dose of exposure to the Korean language, we put him in a nursery school part-time.  The first week was difficult, of course, but he grew to love it quickly!  The lady in charge told us it usually takes 4 weeks for babies to get used to going to the school, but after one and a half, TheFry was doing great!  He eats and plays well, and he is the star of his class.  His picture has been in the newsletter almost every week.

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TheFry steals my crochet patterns and litters them across the living room floor.  He lost his blanket in the aftermath.

4. We had a Thanksgiving pot-luck with some of my coworkers and it was fantastic!  I made cranberry sauce with real cranberries.  Where did  I find them, you ask?  Costco was selling huge bags of craisins so I rehydrated them and followed the recipe from there.  I didn’t say they were fresh cranberries, did I! *^^*

Anyhow, to rehydrate the cranberries you just put them in a pot and cover them with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil and boil them for 20 minutes or so, until you can see that the cranberries are fully rehydrated, plump and juicy.  The longer you boil them, the more delicious the water will be, so when you drain them, be sure and reserve the water.  An added benefit of making cranberry sauce this way is that you don’t have to use as much sugar in your recipe since craisins are already loaded with sugar.  Or you can add the regular amount of sugar and just have super-sweet cranberry sauce!

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My husband claims he can’t bake.  He lies!

5. I have several informational posts I would love to write.  First of all, I would like to give some information on the difference between getting vaccines at a hospital in Korea versus at the Community Health Centers, because there is a huge difference (and you pay for it).  I also want to post on where to find some great baby stuff that I have found rather cheaply online.  This month, if PapaFish lands the job we are holding out for, we will be buying a number of items online that I would like to review, so stay tuned for that, too.  I’m also hoping to start blogging more about our neighborhood, what there is to do and see, and places to find good deals on normally expensive stuff (which means probably a full post on district recycle centers, because I’ve been to a couple of them, but have as yet chickened out on buying anything).

 

I really apologize to any family and friends (but especially family) who watch this blog because this last month has left me wondering how I will ever have any time to myself again.  I suppose this is one of the seasons of parenthood!  Maybe it’s called “having a toddler.”  Who knows?!

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Ha, ha, you fool!  I switched the glasses while your back was turned!  

And yes, this is our kitchen, complete with table, sink, oven (not the one we bought online – that’s another story for another day), and washing machine.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Silliness at Home

TheFry handed me a book. It is called “Neighborhood Animals”. The last page of the book features a frog. The frog goes “rrrrrRIBBIT!” TheFry thought it was hilarious.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Uneventful Weekends

Lately, we have been having uneventful weekends.  Somehow we’ve managed to keep ourselves busy enough to avoid posting on the blog.

 

Really, when I say the weekends have been uneventful, I mean U.N.E.V.E.N.T.F.U.L.!  We sleep late, eat decently, walk around, crochet, play games, do nothing.

 

The last couple of weeks have been somewhat interesting, though.  First of all, I got paid (cheers, anyone?).

 

Secondly, I bought an oven.  It’s a small convection oven.  The only thing is that it’s about twice as big as I thought it would be! (double cheers – pics to come later!)

 

Thirdly, I’ve become more comfortable shopping on Gmarket – the online store used widely in Korea to avoid sky-high prices on necessary items, especially in the baby and plus size categories.  I bought TheFry some leggings, which I’ve fallen in love with.  I intend to buy more when PapaFish will let me get away with it…

 

We had a game night with some friends from work over last week.  We ate chili.  It was awesome.  Then, over the weekend, we baked pumpkin pies and sold a few.  Want one?  Just drop us a line!

 

Finally, this last weekend we went to Songtan.  We went shopping at the Shinjang Shopping Mall, right outside of Osan Air Force Base.  Shinjang Shopping Mall is much like Itaewon except that there are much fewer people around on the weekend, and also most of the foreigners there are U.S. Air Force Personnel, rather than the extremely diverse mix of international people that reside and hang out in Itaewon.

 

I have found that Itaewon has cleaned up considerably in the five years since I was in Korea last, and some people have told me that the developments – such as the new sidewalks – are actually quite new (having been installed within the previous year).  Anyway, Itaewon is starting to look like what Shinjang has always looked like (at least according to my memory) from an architectural standpoint, at least.  Both Itaewon and Shinjang have significantly more storefronts than they did 5~7 years ago, and fewer random merchants.

 

Anyhow, after not having found the kind of winter blanket I wanted in Itaewon – most of the mink blankets I had seen there had sports teams or gaudy pictures on them – we headed out to Shinjang Mall in Songtan to find blankets and winter coats.   I found the shopping areas in Shinjang easier to navigate than those in Itaewon due to wider alleys and fewer people.  Since it was a Sunday, many stalls were also closed, but there were plenty of vendors still open and carts about, even in the blisteringly cold weather.

 

Also, we were on the hunt for a decent winter coat for PapaFish.  We ended up finding one with a multitude of pockets and a cuddly warm hood for 30,000 won.  Previously, I had bought my own winter coat for 15,000 won at a subway station.  I love the fact that we bought our two coats together for cheaper than I bought my own winter coat last year in Minnesota!

 

Next, we purchased a huge super-king size mink blanket in forest green for 41,000 won.  The blanket is very warm and toasty, and for once PapaFish and I aren’t fighting over and stealing the blanket from each other.

 

What’s next for us – who knows?!  Always there are adventures in the Fish Bowl!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halloween…er, a little late ^^;

We were planning on doing some fun stuff for Halloween, but it just didn’t pan out the way we had planned.  Holidays coming at the end of the month tend to get the shaft because they come at the end of a paycheck.

 

Anyhow, there was a fun Halloween event at the school where I work.  TheFry decided to join in on some of the fun.  Here he is as the Cowardly Lion:

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Note the  Cowardly Pacifier…

 

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Here he is running away!

 

Don’t knock the Cowardly Lion…he was the cutest lion to be found on such a spooky night!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gyeongbok Palace

 

Last weekend, we went to visit one of the must-see places in Seoul: Gyeonbokgung, or Gyeongbok Palace.  This palace was used during the Joseon dynasty in Korea.  I’ll spare the history lesson here; there’s plenty of info about it on the interwebs.  You can start with the wikipedia page if you like.

 

The wall around Gyeongbokgung:

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A pavilion overlooking traffic outside the outer wall:

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The outer wall as seen from across the street:

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Inside the outer wall, there is an open courtyard where you pay for tickets and enter the inner courtyard through the inner wall.  with the backdrop of mountains, here is the gate through the inner wall from a distance:

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The gate through the inner wall is guarded by “palace guards” in traditional costume.  Tourists flock through here, taking pictures with the guards, in front of the impressive gate, and entering into the inner courtyard:

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Palace guards at the gate:

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Here’s a better view of them (they were performing a “Changing of the Guard” ceremony just as we arrived):

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Don’t mess with this guy:

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This guy doesn’t look quite so scary:

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The gate:

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This is what the roof of the gate looks like up close:

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Upon entering the inner wall, we noticed that a special event was taking place.  Some middle-aged dudes were just standing around in front of these reed mats, and a woman was yelling at them through a microphone.  Then they would bow for a while, and get back up.  Apparently, it was the 16th annual reenactment of the state exam, which was historically used to test scholars as an entrance examination into government and other bureaucratic employment positions.  Anywhere, here it is, with the throne room in the background:

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Another view of the art on the beams supporting the roof:

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The latticework:

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A view of the gate to the inner courtyard through which we previously entered.  I like this picture for its representation of the coexistence of modern and ancient architecture in present-day Seoul.

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The throne room:

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Art in the throne room:

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The throne room from a different angle (I’m not sure exactly because PapaFish took almost all of these pictures):

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I liked the many gates, walls and doorways that separated the different buildings and sections of the palace grounds.

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This was my favorite wall, even though I felt like I couldn’t manage to get a good enough picture to do it justice:

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The wall with a gate and rooftops (pay no attention to the fire hydrant behind the curtain, er, I mean doorway!):

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A pavilion (I forgot the name of it; I think it’s Hyangwonjeong)

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This was another of my favorite doorways, with a little garden off to the side:

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The doors of the palace buildings were also striking:

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The doors are lined with a think kind of paper (it reminds me of mulberry paper)

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A pagoda that we just walked by without visiting; hence, I don’t know the name of it:

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Rooftops of the palace buildings against a mountainous backdrop and autumn colors in the foreground:

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Palace walls with an autumn backdrop:

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Angular view of palace walls with mountains and autumn colors in the background:

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I did not really ever appreciate the autumn season before living in Minnesota in 2008.  Back then, I got to see such wonderful treasures as this:

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Bloomington, MN 

 

and also this:

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Normandale Lake Park, Bloomington, MN

 

in Seoul, we get similar pleasures, such as these bright colors amongst the still-green foliage:

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The trees look like they are dying by fire:

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As you can see, it was lovely, so we took a family picture:

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Some Chinese tourists thought the view was lovely, too:

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Happy Autumn, everyone!

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