National Institute of Ecology

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Our friends from church invited us to visit the National Institute of Ecology with them for Memorial Day. They picked us up at 7:30. We added another family near Cheonan on our way to Seocheon and arrived about they time they opened at 9:30.

The admission prices were excellent. It was 5,000 won (about $5 USD) for adults. Children were 3,000 won (about $3 USD), but Clarissa was free since she is still under 5.

We boarded an open shuttle bus to the Ecorium. Inside this building there were 5 different climate zones (Tropical, Desert, Mediterranean, Temperate, and Polar), a restaurant, library (that had both Korean and English books), and an ant section.

The kids had a great time looking at all of the plants and animals in the different zones.

There were even two monkeys outside.

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The restaurant had several Korean food options for decent prices. Most dishes were 7,000 or 8,000 won ($7 or $8). If you aren’t a fan of Korean food, there were french fries available and also a convenience store to buy snacks as well.

The ant section was pretty cool. I didn’t know there was that much to learn about ants! The kids put on lab coats and pretended to be scientists learning about ants. Clarissa even pretended to give a lecture about ants. There were coloring activities and puzzles as well.

Inside the building was also a play area. Clarissa was able to wear a special suit with velcro and stick to the wall on her own. She got a little nervous when I let go, so she would reach for me and fall off. But some kids were more brave and would hang upside down.

After our exploring, we went to the playground. The playground was really nice. Clarissa was excited about the big tree house. But the main attraction was the water. They had a splash pad as well as a small wading pool for the kids to play in.

We decided to walk back to the car after that. The visitor center on the way out had a couple of movies and games, but if you’re tired, it’s not really worth going to. We also passed some deer and a big goat on our way out.

This was one of our first adventures that didn’t involve a stroller. Clarissa’s stroller wasn’t going to fit in the car with 7 people inside so we decided to leave it home. She actually did really well and walked the whole time (6 hours). When did she get so big?!

On our way home, we went to a Shabu buffet restaurant in Pyeongtaek that was pretty good.

An Afternoon in Cheonan with Friends

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Last Friday, Clarissa went with our friends to Cheonan in the afternoon.

We started at Ebony and Ivory, a used English bookstore to buy books for our next Ladies Bible Study at church. It is a few doors down from the Shinsagae Mall in Cheonan that I blogged about last year, across the street from the Subway restaurant. Brooklyn English Used Books near Camp Humphreys gets their books from this store.

The bookstore was full of books, all of them in English. Clarissa and I started at the Disney table at the front of the store. Books were 10 for 1,000 won (a little less than a dollar).

More than half of the store was Children’s books. There was so much of everything. We found several Magic School Bus that we didn’t already have, Fancy Nancy, Berenstain Bears, Little Critter, Clifford, and Curious George. There was so much more! Clarissa found some books from my generation of My Little Pony. We found so many books to use for kindergarten this year.

There were adult books too. They had a science fiction section, complete with an entire table devoted to Star Wars. There were fiction and nonfiction books as well a comic and religious books as well. I’m sure anyone who walks in will find a pile of books to read.

The prices were great! I would have stayed for hours. But Clarissa and her friend got restless after about an hour so we left with what we had picked out already.

On the way home, we went to the wholesale market in Cheonan. They had one building for fruit, another for vegetables, and a third for seafood. We only went to the fruit building. They had several stalls of yummy fruit at good prices. It was an air conditioned building with a bathroom. Vendors took both won and credit card.

Another day in Busan

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One of Tim’s friends from his Air Force days has been in town for work. Tim decided to take a day off of work so that we could all spend a day in Busan together.

We woke up really early so that we could make the 730 train from Cheonan Asan to Busan. We arrived at Busan station about 930, bought Tim’s friend a metro card from a convenience store, and headed to Haeundae.

We started with lunch at Subway. Tim prefers the sauces at Korean and Japanese Subway restaurants to the ones on post so we tend to go there if we see one on our travels.

Next, we headed to Haeundae Beach. The water was so clear and pretty. This time of year the water is cold so no one was swimming. Clarissa had a great time chasing pigeons.

There was a sand sculpture competition earlier in the week. It was fun to see the sculptures. They were huge and very detailed. It was interesting because of the descriptions of the sand castles. It would give a generic description with details of a movie but would never say “This is iron man.”

Next, we headed down the boardwalk to Dongbaekseom Island. You can walk up a bunch of steps to see the water and get to a lighthouse. We didn’t want to mess with that and carry the stroller. So we went the other way behind the hotels. It was actually a really pretty route. There was a very steep but paved path to a statue and monument of Go-un Choi Chi-won.

Further along the path was the Nurimaru APEC House where the APEC conference was held in 2005 and 2014. After viewing the meeting place, we went outside to the bottom floor and had great views of the lighthouse and Gwangandaegyo (the largest bi-level bridge over the ocean in Korea).

We needed a snack after all of our walking so we headed back to the restaurant area and saw Softree ice cream shop. I had read about their shop in Seoul but didn’t know they had one in Busan so we decided to check them out. They had excellent ice cream with interesting flavors. Clarissa enjoyed the plain but I had magic lamp. It had caramel drizzled over it and some crushed cookie (not gluten free but definitely delicious).

We decided to check out Haeundae Market while we were there. But it was mostly just food so we didn’t stay long. The plan was to take the 181 bus to Haedong Yonggungsa but the next bus was at least a 20 minute wait so we hopped in a taxi instead. It was less than 10,000 won which isn’t bad.

I don’t think I have ever been to a temple this large. It was definitely a complex instead of just one building. It was different than other temples that we have been to because it was on the side of the mountain instead of just in the city and it was right on the water. It was beautiful. There were also more statues than we have seen in one temple before.

Along the way, Clarissa and I had some great conversations about Buddha, Buddhism, worship, and sacrifices. There were lanterns set up everywhere in celebration of Buddha’s birthday that was two days before our visit. We talked about how it would be like our Christmas since that is when we celebrate Jesus’s birthday. She is definitely a thinker and not afraid to tell me her opinion. It will be interesting to see how God uses that gift as she gets older.

We were afraid that if we took the subway back (45 minutes from the beach) that we would miss our train home, so we took the taxi back to the KTX station instead of just back to the subway. We had some yummy Korean food for dinner and Clarissa enjoyed her french fries.

 

I learned how to make kimbap!

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I went to a church baby shower last week. I brought my usual veggie tray with hummus and some sugar cookies.

When I arrived the ladies were in the kitchen making kimbap. Kimbap is a traditional Korean dish, often used as an appetizer or side dish. I wanted to watch because I have never seen anyone make kimbap before. They invited me to join.

The ingredients were already cooked and cut. But basically, you need seaweed and sticky rice. Then you can add whatever veggies or meat that you like. We had spam, eggs, tuna, carrots, spinach, and radish available.

First, you lay two sheets of seaweed on the tray. Next, you add the sticky rice to the seaweed. You can fill the entire sheet of seaweed or do less if you want. Then you add whatever filling you choose. You might choose to make one with spam, carrots, and spinach. Another may have tuna with egg, radish, and spinach. The possibilities really are endless. Only fill about two inches of the seaweed.

Now it is time to roll the kimbap. You use the wooden mat to roll the seaweed over the topping, making it as tight as possible. Once you have rolled your kimbap, roll it again to make sure it is tight.

Once you are satisfied with your roll, cut it into pieces about as thick as your ring finger and serve.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC Book Review

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Reformed Free Publishing Association

Clarissa usually enjoys alphabet books, so I was excited when we had the opportunity to review T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association. I am always looking for ways to introduce Clarissa to scripture. Reading scripture in an illustrated book is a great way to do this.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC 

Every letter has it’s own page. It is mostly consistent that the page will say something similar to “A is for Ant.” X is a hard letter to find a verse for so that one is different, it says, “X is in fox.”

Each letter has a word focus with a short, three line poem that rhymes. It has a beautifully illustrated picture of the word focus. Then, a Bible verse is also listed at the bottom of the page. Each page also has a unique border that references the verse.

This book has excellent pictures. They look like they are hand painted and are very professional. The pictures have vibrant colors and the illustrations are lifelike. I can tell that a lot of thought went into each picture and how to make it relate to the words in this book.

For the most part, I liked the focus words and choices of Bible verses. Some of them confused Clarissa when she was trying to read the book to herself. For example, “B is for Bow” but it is a rainbow. “D is for Dawn,” and Clarissa wanted to say sun every time. I was surprised to see that “L is for Leopard.” I expected to see lion, lamb, or even Lord there. However, Clarissa said that L was her favorite because “Cheetahs are my favorite animal and leopards are like cheetahs.” She also enjoyed “Q is for Quails” and “R is for Ravens.” I really liked the verses and illustrations for “T is for tree,” and “P is for path.” Apparently Clarissa likes birds and I like trees.

The scripture references are King James Version, which isn’t my favorite. I prefer something modern like New International Version. This book is marketed to preschoolers but I really don’t think it fits that age group. I think that it would have been easier for Clarissa to memorize scriptures and understand them if they were written in a different version. Older elementary school children would understand better with this version of scripture.

However, Clarissa said she enjoyed the book. I think the beautiful pictures and the fact that most of it rhymes are the reasons why.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

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Mother’s Day Weekend

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Our original Mother’s Day plan was to take the train into Seoul and explore Hongdae, but it rained all day so we had to change our plan.

Tim drove us to the new Starfield Mall in Goyang. We started with lunch at Shake Shack. The food was pretty good. They let me order my burger without a bun. Clarissa would not share her French fries with me. The ice cream was good too. The prices weren’t bad either. Clarissa was most excited about the foosball table but there wasn’t a ball for that.

There was a fun train set up near the restaurants. Clarissa was very excited about this as well.

The mall had four floors plus a basement level. There were a few kid cafes and a water park that we did not check out. The Toy Kingdom in this mall was the best I have seen so far. It had its own Lego store and each aisle was labeled in Korean and English. Clarissa really enjoyed pretending to drive the train as well.

Tim liked that the Electromart was broken into different parts so that the clothes were on a different floor and he could focus on the things he wanted to see. There were lots of fun stores like Daiso, Art Box, and Flying Tiger Copenhagen plus several that I had never heard of before. On the basement floor, they did have a really nice supermarket called PK Market that had gourmet foods and No Brand which is Shinsagae’s generic brand that has some snacks that we really enjoy. We bought some fun things.

Another fun thing happening at this mall (until June 30) is a Frozen display in the middle of the first floor. You could take a picture with an Elsa or Anna statue. They even had dresses you could buy to dress up like either Elsa or Anna. At one point in the afternoon, there was a performance where a man and a woman sing Frozen songs in Korean. Clarissa thought it was too loud, so she wasn’t really smiling in her pictures.

 

I think this Starfield Mall had the best variety of stores. They had great parking as well. Our only complaint was the temperature. It was pretty muggy from the rain and the air conditioner was not on inside the mall. It would probably be more comfortable in mid summer with the air conditioning on full blast or in the winter time.

When we arrived at the mall, Tim saw a sign that said IKEA was 5 km away so we decided that we should go there afterwards. As usual, we were not disappointed with IKEA. I think this parking lot is better than the other location. There were plenty of fun furniture items to look at and we ended up buying some new comfy towels to replace our nine year old newlywed towels. Also, they had delicious food for dinner.

On Sunday, we went to church. At the end of the service, Pastor Al called up all the mothers and mothers to be. He read us an inspirational poem, anointed us with oil, and prayed over us. It was really cool. Plus, he even thought to have someone go to the Sunday school class and relieve the teachers so that we could participate as well. I felt so blessed and appreciated.

After church Clarissa and I did our usual church lunch followed by a trip to the library on post. We went to the PX for some baby shower shopping. Then, we came home to eat pizza and watch Nim’s Island with Tim.

I had a great weekend with my family.

Messy Learning Review

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Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum

Clarissa was very excited to help me review Messy Learning for Preschoolers and Kindergartners by PandaParentsMessy Learning is a preschool program that will send you a digital course to complete with your child each month. Each course consists of story time, learning time, and creating time. There is a book included for each month which will focus on a specific letter and learning theme. A video will read the story to your child as well and also include some additional content that matches the story. Finally, there is a workbook of several activities that expand on the story.

We received three months of course content to review. Each course is designed to be completed in 20-30 minute segments three times per week. Clarissa enjoyed the material so much that she didn’t want to stop in 20-30 minutes per day. She wanted to do hours per day so we completed most of the materials in about two weeks (three months worth of work).

 

The first book, A Jolly Jingling Journey, was two holiday stories where they highlight the letter J. I like that the book was not written in preschool language so there was plenty of vocabulary to expose Clarissa to. There were also plenty of interactive things to do in the book like finding certain pictures or asking questions such as, “what do you think the reindeer are doing?” The video was about the letter J. The video did read the stories but also had some interactive features about the letter J so it was beneficial to watch the video in addition to reading the story. The workbook had activities like put these parts of the story in order, match the animal tracks to the picture of the animal, tracing letters, find what is different in two pictures, and counting various objects.

 

The second book was called Mommy’s Baby. It was really cute and compares several different things like mother to baby or big to small. The book also covered shapes and patterns. This video basically read the book to the child. But the workbook pages were great. There was some match the mother to the baby. I really liked that this workbook introduced new information to Clarissa about animals. She learned about different animal tails and had to match the animals to their tails. There was also work with colors and patterns as well as emotions. This book focused more on science concepts than a particular letter sound so there were several different letters to trace and write.

 

The third book we read was Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound. In this book the main character, Scotty Skunk, gets scared so he keeps trying to find a new place to live. The book explores the different seasons and how the environment would change based on the weather. Scotty moved every season! The workbook actually introduces the word habitat and talks about different places that animals can live. There was plenty of tracing and matching. This workbook had more cutting and pasting which Clarissa really liked. She was able to practice matching a picture to it’s shadow. This workbook talked the most about letter sounds but really focused on the letter S.

Clarissa loved Messy Learning! I liked that she was actually excited to do some writing (because up until now it has been drudgery to get her to write letters). She is also learning some letter sounds as well. I think that she also really liked that each story was so different. She was exposed to some science concepts as well like comparing sizes and the seasons.

The monthly subscription for Messy Learning is $9.95 per month. Your child will be exposed to some great vocabulary and even some science and math concepts. If you are looking for something fun and educational to do with your preschooler, this is a great choice. But, this isn’t a program that will teach your child to read. So if that is your goal, you would need a separate program.

This is a digital product, but a printer is very helpful. We would read the story together on my kindle. Then, Clarissa would watch the video on my laptop. You could do that over two different days. The workbook is usually 30+ pages, so that takes several days to complete. I downloaded the workbook to my kindle as well and we did several pages on my kindle to save on paper and ink. But you can’t write letters or cut and paste on a kindle, so we still had to print at least half of each workbook for her to complete the work. That is another thing to keep in mind as you consider if this program would be a good fit for your family.

Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}Crew Disclaimer