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Like I promised, here is our post on my parents’ trip to Seoul. It’s kind of a historic trip, especially for my dad, since the last time he was here was in 1984. My parents left that January before I was born for the USA. I think the neatest part of their trip here, for me, were all of the stories my dad had to tell about what Korea was like during the 70’s and 80’s and all of his memories. For those of you who don’t know, my dad served in the US Army stationed in and around Seoul during the 70’s and 80’s and he met my mom (who is Korean) during that time.

For this trip, they stayed with my grandfather in Northern Seoul so we actually didn’t get to see my parents every single day. But, we did try our best to either get up to my grandfather’s house often or meet them in some part of the city. Surprisingly, it takes us a good hour and a half to get to my grandfather’s house by bus and a little less time than that by subway.

The highlights of their trip were spending a couple of days on Jeju Island (the small island off the southern tip of South Korea), a tour of the DMZ, shopping in Namdaemun and Insadong, seeing some palaces in Seoul, my parents were able to visit the memorial sight of the Christian martyrs who were all beheaded near the Han river, and of course just spending time together. 


So there are a million other photos from this trip but it would be impossible to put them all on here. Most of these photos are from Jeju Island. I didn’t include any photos of the DMZ because we were dumb enough to have forgotten our cameras (luckily a nice woman on the tour sent us photos from her camera….they’re still on my email though). My mom also has some pics of them just hanging out in the noraebangs (karaoke rooms) and the martyr’s memorial near the Han river.  It was really fun to have them here with us!


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.

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.

Remember my post about the ajummas here in Korea? How they aren’t afraid to express their opinion to you about anything? Well my mom (who is Korean and immigrated to the States after marrying my dad back in the 80’s) related to me an experience she had recently. An experience that made her think of my exact post. Back in Utah a couple of weeks ago she took my cousin (who is Korean and came to the US to study English) and his girlfriend snow shoeing for the first time up Provo Canyon. Since my mom only had two pairs of snow shoes they took turns going in pairs around the park. Well it was my mom’s turn to sit out and while she was waiting she saw a couple of young boys playing around in the park. She noticed that they were making snowballs and throwing them at something. She soon realized that their target was a herd of deer that had come down off the mountain. The boys were throwing the snow balls into the herd trying to scare them and really just trying to have some “teenage boy fun.” And this is when her ajumma instinct came out. She didn’t feel it was very nice for them to be throwing anything at the deer so she yelled over to them and told them to stop throwing the snowballs. They were quite shocked and a bit embarrassed that anyone said anything to them. They stopped, apologized, and high-tailed it out of there before the Korean lady might get angry. When she thought about the situation a little time later she thought about my post and how she had “lapsed” into ajumma mode….despite over twenty-years of living in the States. But, as she thought more about it, she didn’t feel there was anything wrong with what she did. She wasn’t mean, her request was out of concern for the animals, and she didn’t harm anyone. I think that I have to agree with my mom. I think sometimes we need and should say something. Of course we should never be mean or judgemental or anything, but we should care a little more for the people around us. Genuine care. I know I have been in situations where I saw something and knew I should have said something but didn’t. Maybe it’s because we are too afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or for what they may think of us. When the ajumma, here in Korea, told me that it was cold and I should cover Maya with another blanket….first getting over the initial shock of someone telling me something…I felt a little grateful that she really cared to say something. Maybe we should all be a little more willing to have an “ajumma moment” when something needs to be said.

Wow, today must be the day to post about Maya….

Daniel mentioned this a little bit in his last post, The Munch. Maya loves to draw! At first she just scribbled, then it turned into lines. Not long after that she was filling pages after pages with little circles. Her latest creation? Faces. She has figured out how to draw faces. They are simple, just a circle with two smaller circles for eyes and a line for a mouth, but, I am very proud of her.

Here is some of her artwork:



Here is the artist at work:


She can also draw spiders. Basically, a face with legs attached. Here are some samples:


Here are some professional cubist pieces, this one by Edward Longo:



The one on the left is by Sonya Paz. The title is The Three Faces of Eve. The one on the right is by Maya Dowler, entitled Face #1000. Hmmm, do I have a little cubist on my hand…

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)


Cooking Munch

Zzzzzz Munch


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

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

I blame it on a lot of things…..but there really is no excuse. So I am hoping that if I load this post with a lot of pictures, you, my readers, will forgive me for the little hiatus I took from the blogging world.

So, the holidays were definitely different for us here in Korea. First off, I would like to thank my mother’s side of the family in Seoul and also the kind friends and church members as well. You made our holiday a lot more full and we are so grateful for that. This was my first Christmas away from my immediate family and my first Christmas in a foreign country. We had a lot of fun!

Our holiday celebrations started with a church activity. We had a great Korean dinner and some fun watching a talent show. Santa also made a surprise visit to the kids and handed out little gifts to each of them. Maya was afraid of him.


Here’s a video of some of the kids in the talent show:

On Christmas Eve I attended Midnight Mass at the Myeongdong Cathedral (please click on the link to learn a little more about this national treasure) with my aunt and uncle. We got there just in time for Mass to start, which meant that we were not able to get any seats. Luckily, they had a huge screen set up outside for those who wanted to participate in the Mass. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an shots of the outside of the building, it was much too dark, but I did get to sneak in after Mass and get some shots of the interior. I also got some pics of the small area where the Blessed Virgin Mary statue was. That night there were hundreds of small candles lit there. I also got some pictures of the beautiful Nativity they had set up outside.

Altar boys waiting for the Procession to start:


Here is a view of the altar area (apse, I think) from where I was standing in the nave:


Here is a closer view of where the altar is:


Here is a picture of the beautiful pipe organ in the rear end of the Cathedral. They had an orchestra seated here as well as a choir for the Mass. The music was beautiful!


Here are some pics of the outside area with the Virgin Mary statue. With all the

little colorful candles burning it was such a wonderful sight.



And finally, here are some pics of the Nativity they had set up outside of the

Cathedral (my aunt is in one of them):



Sadly, Daniel and Maya were at home. It was just too late (and too cold!) for Maya to come out Also, 엄마, 사진 더 못 찍어서 미안해요!

Christmas day we spent at my grandfather’s house visiting with family and just relaxing. So, anyway, somehow I got really sick before the new years and I wasn’t able to go hike 관악산 (Mount Gwanak) to see the sun rise on the new year…well, I don’t know if I would have gone even if I was ok…so I stayed home with Maya while Daniel went and did that with the other men at church. He had a wonderful time doing it and he said it was amazing. He learned that for some Koreans (maybe all) it was an important thing to see the sun rise on the new year. So, here are some pictures of his hike.

Here’s Daniel on the mountain looking tired but invigorated:


Here is a view of one of the other peaks swarming with Korean people in their Everest gear. Daniel said that all the peaks looked like this one:


Apparently, even at 5 in the morning the buses were full of hikers going to Gwanak-san

to watch the sun rise!

Here is a picture of the men from church (and even one woman!) who braved

the early morning trek:


And yes, we had 떡국 (ddeok-guk= a soup with pounded rice cakes) and “ate” another year. 떡국 is the traditional dish you eat at the new years. When you eat this soup then you turn another year older. So, just an interesting question. We just finished celebrating the Lunar New Years which was on Feb. 7th (both new years are celebrated in Korea) and we ate 떡국 again, so does that mean we “ate” 2 years? Ha ha ha.
Anyways, we had a lot of fun for the holidays. Besides the places we went, I had a hand at trying to bake here in Korea. I wanted to bake this pumpkin bread for my family for Christmas. It is a delicious recipe I got from my mother-in-law and one that I made a lot in the States…maybe some of you remember which one I am talking about (recipe at end of post). Well, the ingredients was such an adventure to find. The Korean grocery stores are packed full of wonderful and exotic ingredients to make Korean food but you can’t find anything to make a cake…besides sugar and flour and eggs…and that wouldn’t make a very good cake. So, I did some research and found some foreign food markets in and around Itaewon (a neighborhood close by the American military base–well-known for its bars, foreign food, and of course…foreigners).

I was looking for this:


and found all of this:



the package of baking powder doesn’t count cause it’s Korean. But, I was able to find vanilla extract and nutmeg… it was amazing! But that is not it! Between the two stores I visited, Foreign Food Market and Hannam Supermarket, I found tons of stuff. You can buy anything from Italian pesto to Indian curry powder to good ol’ American tillamook cheese. The stores are just packed with so many foreign goods that I am not even going to attempt to name all of what they have. The only down side to this all is that the prices are expensive. I blame it on all the dumb import laws and tariffs that Korea has on foreign goods. But, that is a topic for another post. Anyway, the pumpkin bread which I have made 3 times since was and has been a success. I will put more info on how to get to these foreign stores at the end of the post for my readers here in Korea (if there are any…) just incase you can’t find what you need at Costco.

Here are some quick snapshots of Itaewon as I was walking to the Foreign Food Market. If you look close you can see all the foreign signs for restaurants and stuff:



Unfortunately, I haven’t taken any photos of the foreign market or of Hannam mart so I will have to do that another time.

Anyway, here is how to get to Foreign Food Mart: take the subway to Itaewon (line number 6) and leave via exit #3. Walk towards the fire station. At that intersection turn right heading up the hill towards Bokwang-dong Elementary School (also on your way to the Mosque). Just past King Club, Foreign Food Mart is on your left.

How to get to Hannam Supermarket: take the subway to Hangangjin (line number 6–just after Itaewon) come out of exit #2, keep walking until you come to the intersection and cross the pedestrian bridge. Go right after the bridge, until you see the Volvo building ahead on your left. You should then see the stairs on your left going down to the market.

(these are the directions I used to find them myself, they are from various internet sites).

Pumpkin bread recipe:

3 cups sugar 1 cup cooking oil
3 ½ cups flour 2/3 cup water
2 tsp soda 4 eggs
¼ tsp salt 2 cups thick cooked pumpkin
1 tsp. cinnamon (or canned)
1 tsp. nutmeg 1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. ginger 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Make a hole in the center. Pour in the wet ingredients, including the pumpkin. Mix well. Add nuts and stir.
Grease and flour three 9-inch loaf pans or use Bundt cake pan.
Pour batter into pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 – 1 ¼ hours, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Freezes well. Recipe may be used for muffins with shorter cooking time.

* Personally, I only use 2 bread loaf pans because the loafs seem small to me if divide between 3 pans. Also, it tastes just as good without the ginger.

* I like pumpkin cookies so I substituted the nuts for chocolate chips.


This week has been an exciting week for Maya.

When we found out that we were coming to Seoul, I was in the process of potty training Maya. We had a few successes, but it was still in process. As our moving date loomed closer I decided to put potty training on the back burner (having read that big changes, like moving, were not good times to work on potty training.) so we could all be a little less stressed and little more focused on the move at hand. I figured that it would take Maya a while to adjust to Korea and I expected that potty training would probably come slowly because of that. So, the past few weeks I have been working with Maya to get her used to using the bathroom like “big girls” should. It has been pretty tough because she would to hide when she was using the bathroom in her diaper and would give me a resounding “No!” when I asked her if she had just pooped. I tried to show her what to do by example. Telling her why I was going when I needed to go. We tried taking her to the bathroom periodically, but we always seemed to go when she didn’t need to relieve herself. We even resorted to bribery. It was a bit frustrating to say the least. Finally, I decided to just put her in a pair of underwear and maybe then she will realize that she can’t just not go to the bathroom. Diapers just soak up the pee and I figured that that was why she didn’t tell me—there was no need. So she donned a pair of princess panties while I explained to her that she couldn’t just pee in these, that she would need to tell me if she needed to go to the bathroom. note: this was an easy decision for me since here in Korea our floors are made of laminate–easy clean up should an accident happen. I expected that she would have an accident, and she did. She was playing on the floor and she peed. She was so upset. I then explained to her that if she could tell me when she needed to pee, we could go to the bathroom and accidents like these wouldn’t happen. I am proud to say that after that she has been telling us when she needs to go. We’ve had a few accidents, but we also had many successes. I think she understands what she needs to do now and I am really happy for her. I can imagine that it is a liberating sort of thing to be rid of your diaper, something akin to eating solid food, or having the right to bear arms…yay! Maya!

Here are a few pictures of her with her first success on the toilet! She got really excited when she saw that I got really excited:


Another exciting thing for Maya was that she got her tricycle this week. We have this nice area just outside our apartment (on the fourth floor) big enough for her to run wild. My mom thought it would be a good idea to get a tricycle so that she could ride around out there. Well, thanks to my aunt here in Korea, we got a really neat tricycle to keep Maya busy and active. Here are some pictures of her riding around (by request of my mom–I just want my mom to know that it was sprinkling outside and we risked it to take these pictures that I promised you…that and the fact that I had promised Maya we would go out and she would have been pretty upset had we not gone for at least a little bit) :


trike4.jpg trike1.jpg


You can see that it has an attachment that turns it from an ordinary tricycle to a stroller/tricycle, I call it a “strollcycle, ” complete with canopy and little carrying bag for my wallet or keys or something. When she is able to ride it on her own, the attachments come off and it is once again a tricycle sans stroller.

I also wanted to put up pictures from our sightseeing trip with some friends of ours. Over the Chuseok holiday weekend we went to some old prisons in an area of Seoul called Sodaemun. They were built by the Japanese to house Korean freedom fighters.




Here’s a pic of of me in solitary confinement:


Here’s a picture of where they cooked the rice to eat:


Here is a picture of our friends, Aaron and his wife Na-young. Daniel and Aaron met in their Korean class at Seoul Nation–the two Americans in their class. We were eating lunch at a restaurant in Insadong before we left for the prisons. Thanks so much guys, it was fun.

July 2018
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