Friday, February 14, 2014

Billy Levels Up in Life

Today was Valentine's day but these flowers are not for me. It's for our son, Billy, who is graduating from the 6th Grade and moving on to Middle School in the upcoming school year.

The auditorium before the students and the crowd arrive.

Finally, it's 10:30 am and the graduating class of 2014 arrives and takes their seat. Here's Billy reading a farewell letter from his teacher. She is so sweet.

We were surprised that Billy received an award. He was given an award for Good Manners and Etiquette.

Jai is mighty proud of his younger brother.

A very happy (and proud) me with my beloved Billy.

My men. <3 p="">

We drove to Chungju City and celebrated Billy's graduation lunch in Pizza Hut. Billy chose the Pepperoni pizza for our lunch fare. We inhaled the pizza and there was none to bring back home. 

Our little Billy is now a Middle Schooler!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Down with the Flu

One of the many cons about winter is the onset of a lot of sickness. My eldest son and I got a bad case of the cold 2 weeks ago. Thank goodness I am in the clear, while Jai is now on his way to recovering from it (albeit the occasionaly cough and sniffle here and there). Now, Billy, our youngest, was diagnosed by his doctor with a mild case of the flu.

Say "Aaaah"....

So now Billy is mandatory bed rest so he can go to school on Monday. It's the last Monday for him as a 6th Grader. He graduates from elementary school on Friday. Then it's off to Middle School. But he has to get rid of this pesky flu first. On a lighter note, I always like going to the boy's pediatrician because he has Nemo and Dory in his office.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter, Please Go Away

When you wake up to this...

And this...

It's better to do this...

And this...

Nifty Korean Items - A Squirrel Thingy

Can you guess what this is? This little nifty tool, that looks like a poised squirrel, is actually a rice paddle. Yup, it's the thingy that helps you scoop hot, sticky rice without it having to stick to your scoop. If you want to know how to say squirrel in Korean, it's "dalamjwi" (다람쥐).

I like how it can stand on the table (making it effectively free from touching the paddle sides) and how the tail functions as the scoop. Isn't it neat?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Window Shopping in Myeongdong

My new Korean BFF, Deborah Lee, invited me to go to Myeongdong (shopping mecca in Seoul) for some window shopping. I blurted out yes since: 1. I haven't been to Myeongdong, Seoul in years 2. Window-shopping... two of my most favorite words combined together So, Deborah and I hopped to a bus to Seoul (we left her car by the bus-terminal since parking is a nightmare in Seoul and the bus and subway system is excellent so why bother bringing the car?). After an hour and a half on the bus and about 35 minutes on the subway, we finally arrived in Myeongdong.
So many stores!
We arrive just before lunch and it seems like the crowds were just starting to get there.
Almost in every corner was a cosmetic shop with a girl barking on a megaphone to check out sales inside. Most of the time, they would hand out a freebie item like a face-mask or a small lotion and toner set to get you to go inside their stores.
This is the Myeongdong Cultural Theater. Looks like there was a ballet and a concert scheduled for that week. We were getting hungry by this time so we decided to go to a Korean restaurant that had bright pictures of beef dishes. My friend ordered a huge pot of Korean Beef Bulgogi. Look at this feast.
Deborah also ordered something I haven't had in years - Yukhoe (Korean Beef Tartare). I was in heaven. I had busted the egg yolk on the tender beef slices before I realized I haven't taken a picture.
Aaaah, look at that tasty morsel...
It took us about an hour to finish that huge meal. But since we both didn't have breakfast, it was worth it. Now off to more windowshopping.
We probably visited about a dozen stores by this time. We decided to duck inside a huge Lotte Department store to look for a coat and vest for Deborah's hubby. This greeted us in the entrance of the store.
A row of coffee shops made me and my friend stop and pause for a couple of cappuccinos. We had to rest our aching heels before we could head up to the men's section at the 5th floor.
After an hour of browsing, Deborah finally found the perfect outfit for her hubby. We then bought some boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts (it was Deborah's first time to taste them and she was ecstatic) and some snacks for our men back home. When we were riding the subway back, I saw this on the subway. Ah, Korean fashion!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Resting in Peace in Korea

Notice anything in the picture up there? If you look closely behind the scraggly branches, you'll see a couple of grass-covered mounds. They're actually graves and if you still look closer, you'd see the flowers lovingly left behind by the family. Sure, there are cemeteries here in Korea, there's actually one about 30 minutes away from where I am (Icheon National Memorial Cemetery. But the more popular option is to inter one's dearly departed loved one by the side of a hill or mountain.

My Korean friends say that it's a bit expensive, buying up that wee parcel of land by the side of a hill or mountain. Usually, they employ a shaman or a Feng Sui expert to divine which side of the mountain the dead should be buried. This is due to the belief that the dearly departed should be happy in the afterlife and ensuring that would mean they have to be buried in a lucky location, facing a specific direction. It's all about pleasing those who have gone before us.

Although more and more Koreans are opting to be cremated (still an expensive option, costing about $10,000 for everything), majority still chose the burial by the mountainside. With hiking up the hills and mountains of Korea a popular pasttime here, it is not unusual for hikers to encounter a forgotten grave or two.

My mother, who visited here several years ago, loves it. She looks at the graves and find it a peaceful and natural place for them to be in. Most of my Korean friend on the other hand look at them fearfuly, half-expecting a ghost to pop up anytime soon. Me? I agree with my mom.

Icheon City - Korea's Ceramic Capital

Living 30 minutes away from Icheon City. It means that every year we get to go to the Ceramic Festival. If we're lucky, it would be the Biennele World Ceramic Festival which means there would be ceramic exhibits from countries all over the world. My friend, Deborah Lee, invited me to a sumptous Korean lunch in Icheon City. The restaurant, Goegung, features 6-course to 12-course meals with it's specialty - steamed Icheon rice (formerly the Emperor's rice back in the Joseon era). But I digress. Beside the restaurant is a ceramic shop and my friend and I browsed there for a bit after our lunch to, let's say ease our tummy and waistbands a bit. Here are the ceramic treasures that we saw.
I just had to get these two cute teeny tiny mugs. Aren't they adorable?