…August

The weather is starting to get nicer, and we’ve had some enjoyable outdoor time recently, including a big back-to-school barbeque over the weekend. While neither Neko nor Panda is old enough to be going to school, Neko enjoyed chasing all the bigger kids around and petting the two puppies that made an appearance at the fete.

In other “neighborhood” news, the embassy has gradually been repainting the exteriors of all the embassy homes. Our corner of the neighborhood is still dominated by the standard issue white-on-white or white-with-grey, but more and more houses are getting a colonial makeover. The colors chosen look like they’d do well on a Cape Cod or New England colonial rowhouse, and they are making the otherwise bland facades of these mid-century attached ranch homes pretty cute. I’d love it if they painted ours in the Colonial Blue, muted Brick or Light Fir green colors, but it would be just our luck that they’d paint us in the rather gross hospital mint green or the khaki. I doubt we’ll come up for repainting before we reach the end of the tour, but it’s nice to get directions to friend’s houses with that extra helpful element of “it’s the red one.”

We hired a new nanny because I’ve gone back to work part time, she’s new to working for Americans and from the Philippines, so we’re getting treated to all the quirks of breaking in a new employee and the strong cultural differences that haven’t mellowed out yet. One of the more amusing ones is her tendency to tell Neko that she looks “sexy” in any particular outfit. I’ve heard this from other Americans before, but was still weirded out by that particular Philippino-ism. Apparently it is a light form of ‘cute’ there, unlike how it is used in American English. Less amusing is her tendency to call me “Madam,” which makes me feel ancient and imposing, like Lady Crawley, the Dowager Duchess of Grantham, or Cruella DeVille or something. Blech.
Neko’s gotten to do a few distinctly Korean things in the past few months, even though Panda’s arrival put a crimp in our ability to get out and about easily. She hung out with the Pororo characters at Pororo Park and eats Galbi like a maniac, when she can get it. Panda mostly hides from the paparazzi by snuggling up in the Ergo or napping at home, but as she approaches her 4 month birthday, she’s getting more interested in the world around her, so she’ll probably be vying for the attentions of the masses soon.

We’ll be having a few visitors in the next two weeks, so I anticipate a lot of time seeing sites and eating tasty Korean food. In October we’ve planned a mini-break to the East Coast (where we can watch the sun rise over the Pacific, if we wake up early enough), so we’ll get to experience some regional cooking, and enjoy the outdoors at one of the more popular national parks in the country. This is the kind of thing I was really looking forward to in coming to Korea, as Bangladesh had little opportunity for weekend outings, so I’m excited about this one.

Otherwise, things are pretty quiet here, we live in Little America, so there’s not much to report on.

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…rainbow rice

Several months ago, I dyed some rice in rainbow colors using gel food coloring and vinegar. I intended it to be an indoor sand pit for those rainy/snowy days. Everyone made me nervous that Neko would make a disastrous mess in the house if she played with it…. So it took me a long time to be brave enough to try.

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And footage on YouTube (I don’t know how to embed videos from the mobile blogging app, so here’s the links)

…language

No, this is not a post about Korean, but yet another baby post. IMG_1803

Neko was more interested in developing her motor and social skillz than in learning to talk, at least until recently. When other babies are supposedly distinguishing between mom and dad, asking for more and using the name of a favorite toy, she only said, “dadaddadadadadada,” and that could mean anything.

Sadly, both the Mr. and I are still “dada,” but I get the occasional “mama,” usually out of desperation when I won’t pick her up.

However, in the month of April, her vocabulary expanded from “dadadada,” and the occasional odd word (we’re pretty sure she had “done” for a while, but she used it somewhat indiscriminately). Here’s the current list:

ball
baby
banana
wow
dada
mama
more
done
all-gone (can you tell food is a favorite thing?)
up
bird
meow
bye-bye (both to say goodbye, and to ask to go outside)
hi
hello (a lot of effort to learn two words that mean the same thing!)
diaper (this was the first really recognizable word, and she’s getting better at it every day, sounds like “di-pah”)

Of course, she’s understanding a lot more than she says, and is able to follow some directions, depending on whether she’s feeling peppy, perverse or pooped. If one of us says “Diaper Time!” to her, she’ll toddle down the hallway to the changing area, repeating, “di-pah, di-pah…,” and only when she gets there does she remember that she’s not really keen on the whole changing thing, and then completely spazzes out trying to get away.

Her favorite indoor activity is using the slide, but that’s tempered by doing wooden shape puzzles, rolling cars, playing her ‘piano,’ decorating herself in mardi-gras beads, cleaning house, using pull-toys or push-toys, and sorting small objects into various bags, drawers and boxes.

Her favorite outdoor activity is using the slide. Not content with the toddler sized slides, she seems to prefer the tallest, curviest big kid slides she can find. This is a kid who is going to love the water park. She also finds time to collect rocks, chase cats and birds, run away, and stare entranced at mysterious somethings. She’s always up for a walk in the stroller, which sends her into a zen-like bliss. She’ll stare longingly out the window if we haven’t yet gone outside that day, and walk to the front door and say “bye-bye” several times, before crying if I don’t take the hint.

The one thing she doesn’t get a lot of is friend time. She naps when every other baby we know is awake and vice versa. Perhaps when the Panda-baby comes, Neko’s schedule will change and we’ll see a bit more of the other little kids. When we’re out and about, however, she is a social butterfly, and charms everyone.

Unfortunately, we’ve entered the hitting and stubborness phase, it’s just the early days, but I can tell it’s going to be interesting here soon.

T minus at most 10 days until Panda’s arrival.IMG_1860

…Car Show

 We spent some time at the Seoul International Car Show at the beginning of the month. Neko starred in a lot of covert cell phone pics. We’re never really sure what people do with those pics of foreigner babies, but it’s sure popular. A few people were brave enough to ask us if they could hold her and take a pic. This was mostly young couples, which was kind of endearing. IMG_1402

We scared this car attendant to death by trying to take a pic of Neko in front of the car. I think it was a “no touch” car, but he made it much more awkward because we’d just have taken the pic and left, but he kept pushing on her, and making her want to stay.

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We also had a little driving lesson, and she used her mad push car horn-beeping skills to try to honk this car’s horn, but, thankfully, she wasn’t strong enough.

Since we were all starting to feel a bit under the weather, this felt like an ‘extreme’ outing, though only Neko fell asleep in the car on the way back.

…Egg Hunting

Some action shots of Neko from last week’s egg hunt. We arrived exactly on time, which turned out to be about 5 minutes too late (there were some avid hunters!), but several of the other kids gave Neko a chance to pick up some eggs by laying them out around her. We went to another hunt the next day, which was more like wading through a pool of eggs, so she got a chance to pick up some there too. She’s also played with them all week. None of the innards were toddler appropriate, but we can save the stickers for next year and eat the candy ourselves. (shhh!)

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This generous little boy gave Neko half of his eggs. She gave some back, but kept a good number.

…Busan

Busan is on the southern tip of the Korean penninsula, so it was considerably warmer there than here in Seoul when we visited last weekend. We were even walking around in short sleeves! My cousin’s been working down there as an English teacher and we took the opportunity to visit him and cash in on some of those hotel points from Hyatt that we’d accrued in 2012. They just opened a new Park Hyatt there, and it was experiencing some growing pains and wasn’t fully 5 star yet, but the minor troubles we experienced garnered us a free upgrade to a suite (which is always nice with Neko, as we all sleep better when we’re not sharing a room), and a free bowl of fruit (most of which we gave to my cousin, as it was a LOT of fruit for one day!). Our room had a great view of the marina and these great wooden floors which lent it an old world aesthetic even in its extreme newness.

At Haedong Yonggungsa Temple just Northeast of Busan, getting ready for the lantern festival to celebrate Buddha's birthday.
At Haedong Yonggungsa Temple just Northeast of Busan, getting ready for the lantern festival to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.
All over the grounds of the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, there were little buddha statues.
All over the grounds of the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, there were little buddha statues.
And mini stupas.
And mini stupas.
One big Buddha (the scaffolding is to hang the lanterns for the festival).
One big Buddha (the scaffolding is to hang the lanterns for the festival).
...and more mini-buddhas
…and more mini-buddhas
The temple overlooks the ocean, and several groups of people were holding services on the rocks below.
The temple overlooks the ocean, and several groups of people were holding services on the rocks below.
Slightly more traditional statues, these are behind the massive statue of the Queen of Heaven
Slightly more traditional statues, these are behind the massive statue of the Queen of Heaven
Two Golden Pigs... are they the biggest piggy banks ever?
Two Golden Pigs… are they the biggest piggy banks ever?
Mr. Adventure and Neko have no idea what's lurking in the bamboo behind them...
Mr. Adventure and Neko have no idea what’s lurking in the bamboo behind them…
...a ravenous tiger.
…a ravenous tiger.
One of several statues of the Queen of Heaven
One of several statues of the Queen of Heaven
Later that night, we visited another temple.
Later that night, we visited another temple.