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Time to dust off the old blog and break out the birthday party hats. We have a new baby girl! She was born last week and weighed in at over 9 lbs. Despite being much heavier than our first, Maya, who was around 7 3/4 lbs, labor went much quicker and easier for Marquita–must have been the experience and conditioning gained from the first time. Anyway, we are grateful. 

We’ve named our new little one Viviana, and based on her feeding routine, she is voracious. She is also amazingly beautiful and just a bundle of joy.  Of course that is based on our extremely biased view, and also on the comments of others. I don’t think anyone would tell us if they thought she was ugly, but it wouldn’t phase us anyway. As for Marquita and I as parents, and Maya as a big sister, we are beaming with pride. 

Without further adieu, the baby of our affection:

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This post is long time overdue. My mom came to visit us in Seoul during the last part of May and first couple days of June. I originally didn’t post on this because we shared pictures with my mom over Facebook. But that doesn’t prove to the world that my mom did in fact visit us in Seoul. We had an awesome time together, which is definitely cause for publication on our fine blog. 

So here is our proof. 

One of the first places that we visited with her was Deokseogung Palace, which was smaller than the main Gyeongbokkung Palace, but less crowded and definitely worth seeing. 

Maya starring in “Little Person Big Palace” and lovin the space. 

Oh, you may think she looks innocent, just pushing the boundaries to see how far she can get from dad. That’s only half of it. This girl is up to something more. I’ve got a documented intrusion on fenced-off grounds. Just follow the pictures and you’ll see what I mean. 

She takes a quick look to make sure mom and grandma aren’t looking. But she doesn’t know the power of dad’s zoom lens from further off in the distance.  

Caught you!

This is the point where I stopped taking pictures and started running over to stop her from getting too far on the other side. The sad thing is that most of the patches of grass that exist in Seoul are off-limits. I let the girl off easy because she was American and wasn’t used to such regulations where she comes from.  She also claimed that she couldn’t read the keep-off sign. OK, I’m not really that crazy as a father, I just thought it was funny that she actually checked to see if anyone was watching her–and I snapped it. 

Here’s one of Marquita and I by the wall of the building that you see behind my mom above. 

Here we are all together at Jogyesa, a Buddhist temple in Seoul. Tourists aren’t allowed to go in where the big bell is alone, but we lucked out by meeting a man who could show us in. He also answered our questions and related some interesting facts about Buddhism. That big piece of wood hangs by ropes from the ceiling and is used to ring the bell behind us. I can only imagine how low it would be. 

Here I am with a fish that is another instrument of sorts–pretty small compared to the ones I catch. 

And here is one of three massive Buddhas at Jogyesa. 

Odds are, if you’ve ever even looked at tourist information for Korea, you’ll have heard of this show: 

We had a blast. Mom, of all people, got picked to go up on stage and be made fun of. They made her eat soup (I forgot to ask how it tasted) and marry another member of the audience. She was a great sport. The percussion and acting couldn’t have been better; in fact, I’d have to say it was one of the best things we did, even considering the high ticket price. 

One day that Marquita had to work, Maya, mom, and I took a nice stroll along the Han river, which bisects Seoul.

 

Sorry, mom was taking the pictures here so she’s not in them. It turned out to be a much longer walk than we expected. Maya didn’t care because she rode most of it, but my mom and I were beat when we got home. 

We also visited the LDS Temple in Seoul. The spires are hidden from view by all the other tall buildings close by, but the grounds are peaceful and well kept. 

As you can see, Maya is getting too big to be held, but she doesn’t see it that way yet. Actually, that is the only way that we were able to get her to take pictures with us. Even still, the results were questionable, because while I might be able to hold her, I can’t make her look at the camera and smile at the right time. 

Here’s mom helping Maya up after having fallen while descending the stairs from the National Museum of Korea.

Not to worry, she was back to herself in seconds. Luckily, we were  at the end of the stairs that she insisted on running down. 

We had a great time at the Children’s Grand Park with Marquita’s Aunt, grandfather, and family friend. The park contains a zoo, gardens, amusement park, and more.

(Marquita’s aunt was taking the picture)

Of course we should have taken more pictures. We did a few other fun things together that we didn’t get pictures of, including visiting namdaemun market and insadong street, eating great Korean food at various restaurants, spending time with Marquita’s very hospitable family, and wandering around the city and its parks. 

I think we tired my mom out somewhat, but at least she wasn’t bored. She seemed to enjoy visiting and learning about Korea, and I know she really enjoyed seeing her granddaughter. We enjoyed having her over, which was somewhat more difficult than a drive across town for her. She had to come halfway around the world–travel that was difficult, long, and expensive. We are very blessed that she was able to come. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see her again.

Sorry for the delay. Here is the rest on my dad’s visit, and the things that we did while he was here. Anyone who visits Korea knows that when you come to Seoul, you have to visit one of the old palaces of the Chosun Dynasty. We took my dad to the largest of them called, Gyeongbokkung (경복궁). There is really nothing like it in the US.

Here is one of Marquita as we approach the Queen’s garden:

And here is just a cool shot of Maya and her grandpa:

I think we have a picture of this place in our last post on Gyeongbok Palace, but her it is again with flowers:

This next one is cute. I told you we wore my dad out.

The next day we made a trip to the COEX mall complex, which is a huge underground mall area the size of a city block. There is an aquarium there that we all enjoyed, even though it was a little on the expensive side. I kind of went crazy and took pictures of lots of fish. I’ll spare you those, here are the good ones of us.



Across from the COEX mall is the Bongeunsa Buddhist temple, which was also a cool place to visit.

Then, we had more fun back at the apartment:

My dad’s visit coincided with Maya’s birthday. She is now the big three. She’s so grown up now.

One of her favorite presents was a pair of scissors from grandma. She did really well under supervision. I don’t think we will be letting her free with them though. She has a great imagination, and I’m sure she could find lots of things to cut apart, including books, hair, clothes . . . .

This is great, I never knew this was possible!I think I know what I want to do when i grow up dad, a paper slicer.

We had great fun with my dad when he came, and he said that he had a good time visiting us. I know Maya really enjoyed having him, especially because of all the extra attention. One of the hard things of being in Korea has been being far from family, so we were glad that he made the trip. This was his first time to Asia. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to see him again.

My dad came to visit us in Seoul a few days ago. It was a quick trip, less than a week, but we were glad to have him come and stay with us. He seemed to have a good time as well. I rode the subway to the airport to pick him up. Having flown from the US, he was tired from the long trip, but we enjoyed some good conversation on an airport shuttle bus back into Seoul. We took a cab the remaining distance from the shuttle bus stop to our apartment. Luckily, I spoke enough Korean to tell the taxi driver that I knew he was going the wrong way, and that he needed to turn around. Of course he gave me some excuse, that was supposed to sound logical, but he saw that I wasn’t buying it and made a u-turn. As a side note, I had been warned by my Korean teachers and classmates from my Korean class at Seoul National University that taxi drivers here in Seoul will try to take you on a long route if they think you don’t know the city–they get a nicer fair that way. Good thing I remembered what I learned in class, both in street sense and language.

Since my dad was only in town for a short time, we had to make every day count. I hope that my dad didn’t think that we were just trying to wear him out. I guess we wore ourselves out each day, but it was fun enough that we went for another round the next day. Our first stop was Namdaemun market, one of the largest markets in Seoul. It’s incredibly diverse, you can walk for hours from one merchant set-up to the next and almost never see the same thing twice. Marquita and Dad with Maya on his shoulders

Prices are low if you are going to buy, but it is also fun just to walk around and see what’s on the racks. Odds are, unless you are incredibly disciplined, you will find something that you “need” there, and end up coming home with it.

Our next stop was Yongin Folk Village, which is actually a short bus ride out of Seoul. This was our first time there as well, so we couldn’t tell my dad what to expect. We were all glad that we made the trip. The village is a huge complex full of traditional Korean practices and artifacts; I think it is supposed to give you the feeling that you are strolling the streets of a Korean town a hundred years ago or so. There are many old fashioned buildings, and lots of people dressed in traditional Hanbok clothing. Many of them are there ready to show you how Koreans used to make spoons, or prepare food, or celebrate weddings, among other things.

Soon after we got there, we watched men perform the quintessential Korean farmers dance, complete with long head tassels, drums, and bright colors.

As usual, my camera ran out of batteries in the middle of the show, so I didn’t get pictures of the best part of the dance at the end. One of the men unfurled a doubly long tassel and started getting down to the drum beat. It’s amazing the precision these guys had flicking those tassels. I’m not sure how traditional it was, as I thought I sensed a hint of break dancing in there, but it was cool, and it got the crowd going wild. OK, I know, you zoomed in on the picture and saw that the majority of the crowd was elementary kids, but we thought it was cool too.

Next we checked out the seesaw performance and tightrope walking. yes, she is upside down

I’m not talking about your typical third grade seesaw, where it was fun to try and bounce each other an inch or two off the seat–these women were getting serious air. The woman in the above picture was in the middle of a flip. Sorry about the tree in the way. The seesaw is traditionally a womans performance, and definitely something you should see if you are interested in Korean culture.

Apparently a few of the elementary kids had been assigned to try and talk to foreigners while on their field trips, because we had several kids come up and ask us to sign their papers. These girls caught us just after lunch, and they thought Maya was sooo cute. She was literally surrounded, but played the part well. She doesn’t know how to sign her name yet, but she knows what to do when you give her a pen and paper.

The Folk Village also has a small amusement park to the side, probably as an additional lure to those school kids who are not as enthused about Korean history as they are about having fun with their friends. Actually, I think it was the first amusement park that Marquita and I have taken Maya to, being the boring parents that we are. She wasn’t big enough for most of the rides anyway, but the merry-go-round came through.

Maya didn’t trust those fake looking horses very much the first time. She had a look as if to say, “what are you doing to me,” the whole time. She got used to it after a few different rides and really enjoyed the water and train rides.

First of all, I must also take a moment to apologize for the word famine that we have put our readers through of late. We have been stuck in the ironic cycle of having so many things to write about that we don’t have much time to actually write them. However, the buz of discontent from our readers has grown sufficient enough that we dare not wait another day. On that note, thank you readers for being so interested in our blog. This post goes out to you.

If you saw the title, then by now you are wondering what “the munch” is. In fact, words alone cannot entirely tell, nor can the pictures or video below. What I can provide you is merely a peek, a window into a little person who overflows my life with joy each day. Sorry if that sounds cheezy, but it’s true. “The munch” is actually short for “the munchkin” and refers to my one and only beautiful baby girl, Maya. I personally selected the name somewhat randomly over a year ago and it has been fitting ever since. However, Marquita has chosen to deviate from my selection with her own creative title “munchy,” which (I was just informed) she prefers spelled “munchie.” Whichever version you prefer, Maya does a good job of living up to both titles.

Me the Munch

The munch is unceasingly full of energy, and she has the cutest smile and laugh to back it. She might look smaller than us, but she packs a powerful punch backed by an equally powerful attitude. Countless times, entirely unprovoked, she has spontaneously attacked me while reading on the couch or walking down the hall. By the time I get my bearings I am lying on the floor, and the munch is running off with her characteristic giggle of content. Of course not to be outdone, I follow after and get my revenge with tickle torture, or over-daddy’s-shoulder spin torture.Plaid Munch

“The munch” is a fitting title for a few reasons. She is small. She is clever. She will recite the reasons why she shouldn’t play in the sink, as she is playing in the sink. She loves to sing and dance. She loves to draw. She loves to climb, particularly on daddy and omma. She has the do what I want to, when I want to, how I want to, all by my big self attitude. But most of the time she is as sweet as can be. She even loves to help sweep the floor, clear the table, and make the bed. She is also the munch because I want to eat her (figuratively of course), and because she will munch most good foods made available to her. We are blessed that she is not a picky eater, however, it is hard for her to throttle down long enough to eat a full meal.

Munch time is all the time; check out that cute grape juice smile.

Munch Time

Even though she often wears us out, we are so blessed that she is part of our lives.

Munch and Mom

Munch and Dad

Additional good times:

Munches Away! (OK, I admit it, I am the bad man that pushed her down)

Chipmunch

Cooking Munch

Zzzzzz Munch

Videos:

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and ABCs with a few letters missing:

One of the munch’s favorite snacks–a tasty Korean choco pie:

One of my neatest experiences so far has been attending Korean classes at Seoul National University. It’s an intense four hours everyday of trying to cram as much into my brain as possible and hope it sticks. My classmates are quite the international group; they are from China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Bolivia, Denmark, Mongolia, and, oh yes, there is one other guy from the US. In this next picture there is one classmate from Denmark, China, and Japan, and two classmates from Mongolia–try and match faces to places.

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If it helps, there names from left to right (as best I can sound them out) are Megumi, Eh Heng, Pu Rup, Ee Ongol, and Po.

It still boggles my mind that  people from  so many  different  parts of the world came together to study Korean in the same class. I’ve never had a class quite like it, and it is actually really cool. 

Last week we had a class together where we learned how to make bulgogi, which is a delicious Korean meat dish. We also learned how to make buchim cheon, which has a pancake concept, but is much different from a pancake in taste. Here are some pics of us cooking together:  cooking1.jpg  cooking2.jpg   cooking3.jpg  cooking4.jpg   cooking5.jpg  cooking6.jpg  cooking7.jpg  cooking8.jpg   cooking9.jpg

This next one is of us getting ready to cook. We were happy that we didn’t have to be sitting in class. I am the tall American in the back in case you were wondering. Aaron, the other tall American wasn’t there that day.

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It turns out there were several classes in the kitchen together learning to cook bulgogi, so our teachers were running all over the place trying to help us all. kyosunim2.jpg kyosunim.jpg

Once we were done cooking, we were able to eat. I must confess that we did a superb job.

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We got to leave class a little early after we got done cooking, but we all kind of didn’t want to go because of the fun we had been having. Even though it is hard to communicate with my classmates, it is neat how much we connect because of what we have in common.

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I’m really glad I’ve had this opportunity to come to Korea and have the experience of not just Korea, but of making friendships with people from such diverse cultures–to me, it’s nothing short of amazing.