Our Story

My husband took a 1 year assignment in Korea (South of course). With a one year old along for the ride, this year will definitely be an adventure. In an attempt to try to document all the craziness, I decided to start this blog to record all the memories we are making.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fights on the Subway and Children's Grand Park

One of our first experiences on the subway was when we went to Children's Grand Park with Remmer.  The Park is a huge complex that includes a zoo, botanical gardens, outdoor theater, music fountain, water playground, etc.  Since we were timing it around Remmer's nap schedule, we focused on just the zoo and familiarizing ourselves with the park.  (I was just proud that we managed to get there without getting ourselves lost.)

Remmer enjoyed the zoo.  The enclosures were pretty small, which was sad for the animals, but was nice for him because he could get really close to all of them.

Remmer wanted to get as close as possible.

We all enjoyed an "Alladin" animal show.  The main draw were seals jumping through hoops, but mostly it featured domesticated animals.  You should have heard the "ohs" and "ahs" over pigs and a cat walking a high wire.

BUT the best part by far was the beer.  We bought some with our lunch and then found out we could take them into the show and around the park.  What a score!  It made a hot summer day much more enjoyable.

Dan holding our little golden egg.

Oh, and we didn't get lost on the subway, but we did witness a fight.  An old man tried to force the doors open after they had already closed, and another old man scolded him for it.  I'm guessing the first guy missed his stop.  It almost came to blows, but some of the younger men stepped in and restrained them.  One of the men was wearing a full suit and a fedora.  So funny to watch!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our Son, the Korean Celebrity

We went to a Doosan Bears baseball game recently.  It was an amazing experience.  They have a section with table seating where the row in front of you is replaced with a bar type table, kind of like Alamo Draft House.  It was perfect for Remmer because we had space and he could sit in his booster seat for at least part of the game.  When we tried to buy the tickets, the lady looked at me like I was crazy.  I kept on saying, "3 tickets," and she kept on shaking her head and saying, "Child ticket."  She couldn't believe I wanted to spend 40,000 won on a ticket for Remmer.  Believe me, it was sooooo worth it!  I can't imagine sitting in the general admissions section with a little one.  The crowds are crazy.  The area is packed, and they cheer in unison for almost the entire game.  Here's video:

As you can see, Remmer enjoyed, and participated in, the cheering.  At some point during the game, a camera crew came into our sectioned and filmed Dan with Remmer.  We thought it was for the big screen but never saw him on there so figured they hadn't used it.  We found out later it was for tv.  One of Dan's coworkers said he saw them while watching the game.  I think his video clip has been used more than once because more recently one of the ladies that works at our local grocery store was very excited to tell me that she had seen him on tv, and someone in our neighborhood stopped to tell me the same thing and pointed him out to her children.  Maybe we should be getting him an agent... ;-)


A few weekends ago we visited Gyeongbokgung, the largest of the palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. When we got off the subway, we were greeted by a group of middle school students offering free English tours of the palace.  We accepted and one of the boys took us on a two hour tour of the grounds.  We learned from him that they volunteer to earn hours for a service club that they are involved in.  It was a great way to get a personalized tour of the palace, and it was fun to listen to him try to explain some of the ancient cultures and traditions.  He would often end up saying, "I don't know why.  They just did."

In the subway below the palace

The royal changing of the guards ceremony

Gwanghwamun (The Main and South Gate) - Please excuse the fingers in the picture.

Heungnyemun (The Second Inner Gate)

Geunjeongjeon (The Throne Hall for the King)

Dan is doing the classic Korean picture pose.  A very nice man offered to take a picture of the 3 of us here.  He had a very fancy camera, so I assumed he knew what to do with our little one.  Apparently he didn't because there's no picture with me... =(

Some of the many royal thrones.  The first one is in the throne hall and is blurry because so many people are jostling to get a view.  You aren't allowed inside, so you have to shove your way to the doors and look in.

It was at about this time in the tour that we realized Remmer was creating quite a sensation.  While I was taking pictures of everything around us, the Koreans were all taking pictures of him.  I hadn't thought about it until then, but most of those people had probably never seen a Miguk (American) baby like him in person before.  We had several groups come up and ask if they could take a picture with him (Many more did it without asking.).  When we asked why they said, "Oh, beautiful baby!"  We should have started charging. 

Gyeonghoeru (Banquet Hall)

Gangnam Style

Gangnam is an area in Seoul just south of the Han River.  The hotel we lived in before we found our apartment was in the center of Gangnam.  Now we are in the outskirts of that area in a more residential community.  Gangnam is one of the hubs for nightlife in the city and is also known as an area where image is everything; the brands you wear, the car you drive, the places you go, etc.  I'm explaining this because a new song has become all the rage here, and is now starting to gain traction in the US.  The video is hilarious and the song itself is very addictive.  Remmer loves it.  He'll stop whatever he's doing, run to the screen, and start bouncing around like the dancers in the video.  Koreans are now using "Gangnam style" as a catch phrase, and LG put out a new commercial changing the lyrics to "U+ Style."  It's becoming such a phenomenon that my tutor even felt the need to explain the song to me at our last session. And now, thanks to writing this post, it's perpetually playing in my head... Oppa Gangnam Style!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Since we've been here, we've realized that there are a great deal of English words that mean something slightly different when used in Korea.  However, one that I thought would never need any translation is the word meatloaf.  Something so classically American should mean the same things around the world, right?  Wrong...  We learned yesterday that the Korean version of German meatloaf (We were at a Krombacher, an "authentic" German pub in Gangnam.) is... sliced SPAM!  When it came to our table we thought there had been some miscommunication, but nope, the waiter kept pointing to it and saying, "Meatloaf!"  Fortunately Remmer loved the "meatloaf" which means there's at least one thing I know I can find that he'll eat while we're here since every Korean markets carries Spam.

Artnouveau Shitty

Saturday we went to Lotte's department store on a recommendation from the front desk.  The primary reason for the trip was to find Remmer a new toy.  Most of the toys that traveled with us on the trip were small and limited in play time.  Plus he's been playing with the same few toys now for over a month since getting here took so long.  While in the hotel, Remmer kept finding his own "toys" (remote control, ac remote, stroller, tablet, shoes, emergency button, hotel phone, washing machine...), and I needed a more substantial toy to distract him.  The Toys R Us had a pretty good selection of brands I recognized, but the prices were outrageous.  I know how much I paid for some of the toys I saw, and their prices were at least double.  I'm really glad I bought and shipped all of Remmer's Christmas presents before we left because he would definitely not be getting as many if we had to get them over here.  We ended up biting the bullet and spending double on a few distractions for him.  The Chicco Baby Space, a little remote control robot that lights up and moves around the room, is his favorite right now.  He carries the remote control with him all around the room and then squeals in delight when the robot starts to move.

After getting lost in the rest of the many floors at Lotte's and finally stumbling upon a supermarket with quite a bit of American products (a very pleasant surprise), we called for a cab to head back to the hotel.  On the ride back, we realized this driver knew a decent amount of English.  He started trying to teach us all the important landmarks we should know to communicate with taxi drivers and how to pronounce them the Korean way.  Our favorite was the lesson on how to pronounce the name of our hotel.  The driver would, with a very thick Korean accent, say, "Artnouveau City," and Dan would try to would mimic back, "Arnoueau Shitty?"

          "Artnouveau City."

          "Arnoueau Shitty?" 

          "Yes, Artnouveau City." 

          "Arnoueau Shitty?"  

          "Yes, Artnouveau City."  


          "Yes, City."  

Really?  Is our hotel that bad?


Pizza in Korea

Friday night we decided to try Dochi Pizza on a recommendation from one of Dan's coworkers.  The food was amazing!  Dan had had Korean pizza before which includes sweet potatoes in the sauce, but this was real authentic American (maybe even Italian) pizza.  We ordered the 4 cheese pizza since we were sharing with Remmer.  I expected a pretty standard cheese pizza, but what we got was gourmet.  The mixture of cheeses was incredible, and the crust was one of the best I've ever had.  We also got a mussels and pasta dish in a spicy red sauce (kind of like a cioppino).  It had a quite a kick to it, but we both really enjoyed it.  The only odd thing about the evening was the drink menu.  Dan tried to order a beer, and they said they didn't have any.  Then he tried to order wine, and again they said they didn't have any.  They listed a mojito on the menu,  so he then tried to order that, and again the guy shook his head and said, "No, no, no."  Dan ended up ordering a raspberry smoothie, and I ordered a San Pellegrino.  About a minute later, the guy came back with another type of sparkling mineral water saying, "No Pellegrino," and pointing to the bottle.  Of courses they didn't have Pellegrino either!  Dan saw a wine bar across the street and asked if he could buy something there and bring it over, but that didn't seem to be ok either.  We were both very confused because I had looked up reviews on the restaurant and had seen pictures that included wine glasses.  We became even more confused when a few minutes later that waiter came back with a glass of red wine for Dan.  We never really figured out what was going on, but we did enjoy the free glass of wine.  We will definitely go back here again, and maybe next time we'll be able to uncover the mystery behind the drink menu.

On a side note, it poured that night.  We had planned to take a cab home but had an incredibly difficult time finding one.  Dan bought an umbrella from Family Mart (like a Seven Eleven) and carried Remmer with him. I walked in the pouring rain.  I think the Koreans must have thought I was crazy, but the rain was warm, and we were on our way home, so I just went with it and enjoyed the experience.

Our Hotel

While we look for an apartment, we are staying in a long term stay hotel called Artnouveau City II.  The place is nice, but very cramped with an active one year old like Remmer.  There is a bedroom that is divided  from the rest of the area by sliding doors, a living space with a couch and tv, a very small kitchen even for Korean standards, and a bathroom with a shower but no tub.  The sink is too small for Remmer to take a bath in, so he has had to learn how to take a shower with us.  Actually, the first time he took a shower was when he walked into the bathroom to explore, grabbed the knob (luckily the cold one), and twisted.  Man was he surprised with what happened next! 

Day 1

We have finally arrived!  For a while there yesterday I think both of us were worried that might not happen.  After all the drama the past few months involving this trip, it really shouldn't have surprised either of us that everything that could have gone wrong did.

We were planning on leaving my parent's house at 10 am after Remmer's morning nap since our flight left at 2.  At least Dan thought it left at 2 until he checked the flight info that morning and realized it left two hours earlier.  In the mad dash that ensued, I forgot all of Remmer's little milk packs (Probugs Organic Whole Milk Kefir which I absolutely love.  They come in a little pack that has a straw attached.  Very little mess and completely save the day in places like airports and planes.).  My mom, being the awesome mom that she is, rescheduled her day, packed them all up, and drove up to SFO behind us to drop them off.  Remmer went through 3 on the plane, so I'm really lucky she was able to save the day.

Checking in was a nightmare.  I think we got the slowest person in the entire airport.  He spent about 5 minutes trying to verify that our carseat was approved for airplanes.  (It says it right on the back, dummy!)  Then another 10-15 checking us in, counting and recounting our bags, and royally messing everything up.  We finally got through that process only to find out that, to pay for our extra baggage, we had to wait in another line because only one person behind the counter was able to handle payments.  One person!  Out of 12?

That put us about half an hour before bording which still should have been enough time.  We got down to security and were told to go into a special line for families.  They said that it was supposed to be a faster line for people with children.  In reality, I think the philosophy was, "Since most of you slow down the rest of the lines, we'll put you all in one and let you suffer together."  With this being our 10th+ flight with Remmer, we're pretty experienced at getting all of our stuff through and not holding up the people behind us.  Clearly a lot of other families are not.  We spent another half hour waiting in line to get to the security check point.  Then of course they had to check every single one of our baby food items for GSR because I obviously look like your run of the mill terrorist.  (And yes, of course, I brought a ton of food, an issue they had a great deal of trouble with.  We're moving all the way to Korea!)

By the time we got to the gate everyone was already boarding.  The girl checking us in was nice enough to help us with all of our extra bags and stroller once both Dan and I snapped at her about how poor our experience had been so far. When Dan tried to install the carseat we were stopped two more times to check to make sure that it was airplane approved.  Afterwards I realized they probably don't see a lot of one year olds with their own seat and the need for a car seat.  In the heat of the moment, I have to admit I wasn't that understanding.  On a positive note, my lack of diplomacy boarding the plane earned us very impressive service getting off the plane.  They handled the stressed out, angry mom with kid gloves from that point on which, after a 12 hour flight where Remmer only slept for 3, was incredibly needed.

The rest was pretty anti-climatic.  We got through customs without a hitch, were picked up by our driver, and an hour later were at our hotel.  After a quick dinner across the street (All the servers LOVED Remmer.), we were all settled in for the night.  Well, settled in for the next couple hours until jet lag kicked in an Remmer was WIDE awake...