Our favorite things to do in Seoul with kids

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I got a lot of feedback on our top 10 places to visit in South Korea with kids post so I thought I would add to the series with a top 10 places to visit in Seoul. During our four years of living in Korea, we have probably spent a total of two months in Seoul and I feel like we haven’t seen everything yet!

Just a reminder that Clarissa has been five and under the entire time that we’ve lived in South Korea. So our list may be different than a family with older kids, teens, or no kids.

Neighborhoods

There are two neighborhoods in Seoul that we really like and for different reasons. Hongdae (Hongik University Station exit 6) is very artsy and modern. You can buy lots of cute jewelry, art supplies, and gundam here in modern stores. On a visit there last fall, I got my ears pierced and we visited a bunny cafe.

My other favorite neighborhood is Insadong (Anguk Station or Junggak Station). It is another artsy area but very different. Here you can buy traditional pottery, silk scarves, wall paintings, and plenty of other Korean knick knacks. Some are in carts that only accept won and others are in stores that will take your credit card. While visiting this area, you can also let fish nibble the dead skin on your feet or visit a temple.

Palace

There are several different palaces in Seoul. Our favorite (and close to Insadong) is Gyeongbokgung Palace (Gyeongbokgung Station or Anguk Station). The palace grounds are huge and lovely. They even have a changing of the guard ceremony several times per day. The entrance fee is 3,000 won (less than $3 USD). If you want a different experience and to get in free, there are several shops nearby that will let you rent a traditional hanbok and walk around a few hours looking like a Korean princess.

Outdoors

Another cool place is visit is Olympic Park (Olympic Park Station or Mongchontoseong Station). You get to see all four seasons at this park so you may want to go more than once. There are several miles of walking trails, cool trees, monuments and sculptures, flags form all over the world, buildings from the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and even some playgrounds for the kids.

Mall and Aquarium

If you get hungry or want to walk around in some air conditioning Lotte World Mall is near Olympic Park and is our favorite mall in Seoul. This is our favorite mall because all of our favorite stores are there. Tim really likes the Hi Mart. Clarissa gets excited about the Toy Box, Lego, and Studio Ghibli. I really like Butter, Flying Tiger Copenhagen, and Miniso. But there are several floors of shops and restaurants in the mall itself. Also attached to the mall is Avenue L which is a higher end mall. Avenue L also has an art museum. Inside Lotte World Mall, you can take an elevator to Lotte World Tower and look out over Seoul on floors 118-122. There is also a kid cafe inside called Teddy Bear Zoo, which is pricey but Clarissa really enjoyed her time there.

Also located on B1 of Lotte World Mall is Lotte Aquarium. This is our favorite aquarium in South Korea. There are several large tanks with whales, sting rays, and even penguins. There is a spot where you can pay 1,000 won to feed a small tank of fish. Then you can feed carp with a bottle for 2,000 won. There is also a free touch tank. There are food stands within the aquarium as well as face painting and a craft area that you can pay for as well. Aquarium admission can be pricey, but if you show your military ID or American passport, you can get a discount. It should cost us over 90,000 won to get in, but we usually only pay 61,000 won.

Temple

Korea has a large Buddhist population so there are temples all over the place. Many of them look similar and have architecture much like the palaces you may also visit. But, if you are going to visit a temple while visiting Seoul, we recommend Bongeunsa Temple (Bongeunsa Temple Station or Samseong Station). It is one of the largest temples that we have seen as it is a complex instead of just one building. It is pretty much across the street from Coex Mall (did not make our top 10, but if you aren’t going to get to Lotte World Mall or if you need some lunch, it is an acceptable mall) which also has some shopping, good food, and a decent aquarium.

Zoo

Sometimes the zoos in South Korea make me sad. The animals don’t seem very happy in their small cages. But there are some exceptions to this. Our favorite zoo in Seoul itself (Everland Zoo is probably better but way more expensive) is Seoul Grand Park Zoo.Seoul Grand Park is a subway stop on line 4. The zoo is exit 2. But you can also get to the Science Museum at exit 5.

The parking lot brings you to the bathrooms and a place to buy tickets for the elephant train that will take you to the zoo. You can walk if you prefer. The guy said it was a 15 minutes walk. But the train was super cheap. Adults pay 1,000 won (about $1.00) and little kids like Clarissa pay 700 won. After our train ride, we bought tickets to the zoo. Adults pay 5,000 won (less than $5.00) and preschoolers are free. We thought we would also try the theme garden which also has farm animals which costs 2,000 won. A combination ticket for both was 5,600 won.

The zoo was great. We saw monkeys, giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinoceros, lions, tigers, and bears. There is also a petting zoo and insectarium. There are plenty of restaurants that sell Korean food as well.

Museums

There are a few museums worth taking your small children to. The Figure Museum was very close to the Apgujeong subway station and easy to find with the statue in front. There were six floors of exhibits with each floor having its own theme. All three of us really enjoyed the museum.

Another favorite was  Seoul Children’s Museum located in Children’s Grand Park (Please note there is a zoo here as well, but I do not recommend it…). Admission costs 4,000 won per person but children under 3 are free. It was well worth the cost. There were 4 floors of exhibits that all of us enjoyed. You could pretend to be blind and get on the subway, learn about animals or space, play dress up, build a house, or play with water. Most exhibits were explained in both Hangul and English. If we lived here, we would buy a membership. I think the museum is geared towards kids second grade and under.

 

Our favorite Easter books for preschool and young elementary

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The two biggest holidays on the Christian calendar are Christmas and Easter (Resurrection Day). I feel like Christmas probably gets more press time than Easter. But we still have a list of books that we read every year in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day.

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  • Peek-a-Bible The Easter Story is a great lift the flap book that tells the story of Resurrection Day. It starts with Jesus riding into town on a donkey, includes The Last Supper, the garden, Jesus on the cross, and His resurrection.
    The Easter Story is a cute little board book that tells the story with nice pictures and easy sentences.
  • God Gave Us Love is a long conversation between Little Cub and Grandpa about loving someone but not always liking what they do. At the end they talk about how God loves us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins.
  • God Gave Us Easter is another story about little cub. This time, Papa explains that Easter is even better than Christmas because Jesus died on the cross for us. He also talks a lot about how spring can point us to Jesus. I also really like that Papa explains what it means to listen to God and when Little Cub wakes up in the morning she is excited to report that she heard from God too.
  • Lily’s Easter Party has been one of Clarissa’s favorite books since we bought it when she was two. In this story, Lily invites some of her friends over for a special Easter egg hunt. At the egg hunt, the children are instructed to put the eggs in a basket on the table. Then once all the eggs are found, mom and dad sit down with the kids and open the eggs in order. Each egg has a small object inside that tells the story of Jesus and his Resurrection. This is a great book if you have resurrection eggs, but you can also read it on it’s own.
  • The Parable of the Lily is a story about Maggie who receives a present in the mail in the middle of winter. There were instructions to put the box in a cool dark place and plant it in spring. One day, Maggie accidentally made a mess in the cellar and threw her box into the yard and forgot about it. On Easter morning, she woke up to beautiful lilies in her yard. She was excited about new life. She realized that the gift was from her father and she learned a lesson in forgiveness.
  • Holy Week is a new one for us this year. It is a board book that talks about the names of different emotions and places them with a Bible verse and a picture to tell a different part of the Holy Week story.
  • In The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story, Brother and Sister Bear start the story really excited about all of the candy that will be in their Easter baskets but learn the real story of Easter in Sunday school.
  • We love Little Critter in this house, so Happy Easter Little Critter gets read too, even though they have an Easter bunny and do an egg hunt at the church picnic.

You can read our favorite books about Christmas here.

Poor Zacchaeus

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When I was younger I learned a song about Zaccheaeus.

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior passed him by, He looked up in the tree. And He said, ‘Zacchaeus you come down. For I’m going to your house today. For I am going to your house today.’ ”

So what did I learn about Zacchaeus? He was short. I don’t know about you, but if someone is going to talk about me in 2,000 years, I don’t want the only thing that people remember about me is that I was short.

If you actually read the story in the Bible, there is more to the story than the fact that Zaccheaus was short. Luke 19:1-10:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of all my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

So we see a change in Zacchaeus during the course of this story. In the beginning, Zacchaeus was a tax collector who was probably not very honest because the people in this town didn’t like him. But Jesus didn’t care about that. Jesus wanted to go to his home because Jesus knew what Zacchaeus was capable of. And because of this, Zacchaeus changed. He wanted to give to the poor and pay back the people that he had stolen from. So when Jesus remembers Zacchaeus, he remembers his salvation and not all the bad things that he had done.

People may not be talking about my life in 2,000 years. But people will talk about me when I am gone. What will my children and grandchildren remember about me? Will they remember a mom who yelled too much or ate too much candy? Or a woman who loved hard and tried to show grace?

Our favorite books for babies and toddlers

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I have been reading to Clarissa since before she could talk. At first, she chomped on the books as I read them. But eventually she learned to sit and look at the books. We had several favorites when she was really small. These are our favorite books for babies and toddlers.

  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
    I loved the repetition in this book. “It’s time for bed little sheep, little sheep. The whole wide world is going to sleep…” Clarissa loved the animals in the book. I would say goodnight and call her a different animal every night.
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    Clarissa really liked this one, I think because of the bunny. It rhymes and has decent pictures. As a bigger kid, she was confused about why they said goodnight to so many objects because “you don’t need to say goodnight to air.” But as a baby, she loved it.
  • God Made Me
    Clarissa loved this one because of all the animals. She liked to tell me the names of the animals in the pictures. I liked that she was learning that God made everything.
  • Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
    This is another rhyming book with wonderful pictures. I loved that this book taught Clarissa that no matter what, Mommy would always love her. And that even as a grown up she would know that she was loved.
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
    Clarissa preferred this one because of all the adventures the animals had on the “wonderful, marvelous night she was born.”
  • God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    This is one in a series of books about Little Cub and her family. This one explains how Mommy and Daddy were excited that God was giving them a baby and some of the anticipation they had for baby’s birth and then what life was like when they brought baby home. She liked the bears.
  • Time for a Hug by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green
    This was Clarissa’s favorite book for about a year. She loved that the bunny and her mom had a hug like every hour of the day. I think she also liked that Daddy would hug her every time it happened in the book. This would also be a great book to teach little kids about a schedule.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc Review

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Clarissa loves art. She is constantly creating art and craft projects. I was so excited when we were given the chance to review ARTistic Pursuits Inc because they have a full art curriculum that will teach Clarissa more than I can with their K-3rd Grade Art Level, Volumes 1-8. With eight volumes, there is something for every family’s needs.

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For my kindergarten student, we chose Volume 1 Art for Children: Building a Visual Vocabulary. I was really impressed with it. There are 18 lessons included in this art curriculum. Some lessons require a DVD for instruction and others just have lessons in the book. But they are all lessons that I would not be able to teach her with my limited art ability and training.

There is a supply list at the beginning of the book. You can either buy materials at your local craft store, or you can order them directly from ARTistic Pursuits Inc with your art curriculum. If you are buying them on your own, you can choose to buy all of the materials at once or when you need them. For example, the first six lessons have to do with water color crayons so you would only need water color crayons, water color paper, water color brush, pencil, paper towel, and water container for the first six lessons. You can add your other materials later if that is better for your budget.

My daughter and I have really enjoyed working through this art curriculum together. The first lesson was a DVD lesson that taught us how to use the watercolor crayons and then add the water to make it look like a painting. I am not an expert at watercolor painting to begin with. But I never would have thought to use crayons first. The finished product looked so much better than if we had just tried to paint from the beginning.

The next several watercolor lessons are just from the book. There is a famous painting to look at and then a lesson about what artists do like: artists compose, artists imagine,  artists observe, and artists communicate. There was a specific assignment for each one. They each involved Clarissa finding something as a model and then drawing that on her paper and adding the water to make it a painting.

The next video lesson was about mixing colors. It was interesting to put the lighter color first and then add the darker color. It didn’t always look very mixed with the crayons. But once the water was added, you could really see the new color.

We are excited to continue on with this curriculum. We still have other mediums to learn about with construction paper and oil pastels in this volume. I am also looking forward to reading reviews from other families about the other volumes of the curriculum. I know that Clarissa would like to continue her art studies and I really like that this is a quality curriculum that requires very little knowledge or preparation from me. At $39.99 per volume, it is pretty affordable as well.

Kindergarten to Third Grade Art following History in Chronological Order {ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Clarissa’s announcement

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When I was a summer camp counselor, we used to sing this song at mealtime.

“Announcements, announcements, announcements. What a horrible death to die. What a horrible death to die. What a horrible death to be talked to death. What a horrible death to die. Announcements, announcements, (begin obnoxiously long drumroll of kids hitting the table) annnoooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwncements. ”

And then a particular male counselor would always say,” I sold my cow…. ” and the program director would give us whatever announcements we needed to hear.

I was hoping to make a few announcements all at once. But an official offer for Tim is taking forever. And we have pretty much already told everyone our other secret. So we decided to announce them on the blog separately.

Clarissa has been asking for a little sister since she was two years old. For a long time she was adamant that she wanted a little sister, then it was two sisters (the backseat of the car can fit 3 carseats), and if it was a boy we should give him back. Last spring she started saying that she wanted a sister AND a brother. By summer, she was like, “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. Just ask God to put a baby in your tummy.”

Clarissa is finally getting her wish. Baby Faust is due September 21, 2019. At first, Clarissa was pretty adamant that she wanted both a brother and a sister- twins! In the beginning, I thought it might be twins because the day that I found out that I was pregnant God told me that “Mercy and grace will follow me all the days of my life.” So I figured we would have two girls with the middle names Mercy and Grace. Interestingly though when I looked up the verse it is actually, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6) But God doesn’t only speak in Bible verses so I am going to go with mercy and grace…

But there is only one baby in there. So now Clarissa has decided that she would prefer a brother. That way, she can be Eva when she plays Wakfu and her brother can be Dally…But if it’s a girl, we are allowed to keep her.

We are all excited about this new addition to the family. Well, I’m not sure about Mittens. Tim and I are happy and Clarissa is thrilled. She kisses my tummy multiple times per day and pretty much tells everyone we see in person, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy!”

We have some idea of where baby Faust will be born, but nothing is official yet. Our DEROS (the end of Tim’s contract) is April 30, so we will likely have ample time to get settled in and have our belongings from Korea arrive before baby comes.

Homeschool Complete Review

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I really like when what Clarissa and I are studying can tie into to multiple subjects so I was really excited that we were given the opportunity to review Unit Studies (K-6) by Homeschool Complete. Specifically, we chose the first grade unit study Seasons.

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Clarissa is in kindergarten so I knew there would be some things that would be difficult for her to do in a first grade unit study. I do feel like the unit study is labeled correctly. Clarissa could do a lot of the skills needed for the unit, except for the independent reading. It wasn’t a problem though because I just read aloud to her instead.

We really enjoyed this unit study about Seasons. There were four days of lessons. Each day we spent an hour to an hour and a half completing the lesson. This sounds like a long time until you realize that this unit study encompasses all subjects so once you finish your unit study lesson for the day, you are finished with school.

Clarissa’s favorite part of the lesson by far was reading Balto. This chapter book didn’t have a lot of pictures, but the story was engaging so she was excited for me to read it aloud to her each day. This book brought up so many wonderful discussions for us. One of our friends is moving to Alaska soon and so she wanted to learn more about Alaska. She was concerned that her friend would get sick with diphtheria like the children in the book, so we talked about how the vaccinations we receive from the doctor keep us from getting sick. Now she wants to go on a vacation to see all of the statues of Balto that they talk about in the book.

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In addition to reading Balto each day, there was an additional picture book to read each day, one for each season. Clarissa really enjoyed those as well. Her favorite was probably Hot Dog, which we read for summer.Clarissa was interested to learn the science in why there are seasons; that the Earth’s tilt causes it to be warmer or colder because it is closer or further away from the sun.

We did spend some time learning what the words for each season look like. She really enjoyed a game where you had to choose which season you were trying to land on and throw a puff ball to hit your word. We used tally marks to count hits and misses. She was excited to learn how to mark the tally mark for five to make counting faster. Using the calendar and the hundreds chart provided in the unit also really helped Clarissa to reinforce the days of the week as well as how to count by tens to 100.

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Another math concept that Clarissa really enjoyed in this unit study was comparing numbers to see which one was larger. She liked the idea that the alligator would like to eat the most candy. So every single time she wrote greater than or less than, the alligator needed teeth…

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I am looking forward to reading some of the reviews about other unit studies. There were so many to choose from and we enjoyed this one so much that I think we will need to try other titles. There is actually an active coupon code available right now. If you order before 3/31/2019 and use the code: CREW2019 you can receive 10% off your order.

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Emptied book review

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Do you have an author that you really connect with? One who you feel like writes “just for you.” Wynter Pitts has been like that for me the past few years. A girl mom who loves Jesus, she has written so many resources for girls and for their moms.

Last summer, she wrote God’s Girl Says Yes to teach tween girls about saying yes to Jesus and growing the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Two weeks after the book was released, Wynter went to be with Jesus. What I didn’t know at the time was that earlier that day, Wynter and her husband Jonathan had submitted the final proof of a book on marriage.

I really enjoyed the last book that Jonathan and Wynter wrote together called She is Yours about praying for your daughter. I knew I wanted to read their marriage book. I also thought it was interesting that God chose to take her home the day that this book was finished.

Emptied: Experiencing the Fullness of a Poured Out Marriage did not disappoint. I enjoyed reading Jonathan and Wynter’s story. As usual, they had great thoughts to point us toward Jesus as we seek to glorify Him in our marriage in their usual conversational tone. I appreciate that everything they write feels like a conversation I would have with a close friend.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book :

  • Be fruitful and multiply isn’t just birthing children. “Ask yourself. Can I reproduce the character, qualities, and gifts God has given me in those He has put in my path, biologically or not?”
  • “If Christ is at the center of our marriages, our job is not to create a confortable life, but to develop a life that is securely grounded, despite uncomfortable circumstances.”
  • They remind us several times that your spouse is never the enemy. The Enemy (Satan) is the enemy.
  • The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.
  • The first part of the book talks about things you might want to stop doing because they damage your marriage. The second part of the book talks about how to build the Fruit of the Spirit into your marriage.
  • “Though we have a certain amount of kindness in our lives by nature because we’re made in God’s image, the Bible tells us the only way to be filled with this fruit is through His presence.”

Our favorite books for three year olds

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When Clarissa was three, she started having opinions about which books we picked from the library. Instead of just choosing whichever book she could reach, she usually had something in mind.

She had three favorite series of books that she kept going back to.

Little Critter
I grew up reading the Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer. In fact, my mother kept several of my books for me and so Clarissa has some of my favorite books from when I was a little girl. She enjoyed Little Critter’s adventures and the funny things that he does. He is easy for little kids to relate to. “I made you a sandwich, but I got hungry so I ate it…” His responses remind me of Clarissa, so I enjoy his antics as well.

Gerald and Piggie
I had never heard of Gerald and Piggie before we started attending storytime at the library on post. Gerald is a very cautious elephant and Piggie is his best friend, a very fun pig. They are very different but have many adventures together. I like that each page is dialogue and the stories are funny. They are pretty predictable too and we read them more than once, so I have a few videos of Clarissa “reading” me these books.

God gave us series
Most of these books are about Little Cub and her parents. She has so many questions about things. I like that Mama and Papa explain things in a way that she understands. She learns about how much God loves her, how God made her just for her family, Christmas, Easter, how God made the world. She even learns about things like heaven, angels, and sleep. There is also a wolf pup who learns about being thankful and how God gives us all different families.

Girls Trip to Seoul

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I have never been to a Broadway show. And I never pass up an adventure with the ladies at my church. So when we started talking about going to see Lion King Live, I knew I wanted to go.

We met up at church at 3pm and the eight of us piled into Jen’s van for our hour and a half drive to Seoul Arts Center Opera House. I was glad to be a passenger instead of the driver. I hate driving in Seoul traffic and there were many u-turns to find a parking lot that actually had spaces available.

We did make great time and decided that we would try the restaurant at the opera house because it was easy to find. The food was actually really good and reasonably priced for a venue like that. I was able to get a classic burger and french fries for 11,000 won (like $10) and the pizzas and pastas were between 20,000-30,000 won ($20-$30). Everyone enjoyed their food.

Then we had about an hour before the show so we stood in line to take pictures. It was very cold outside and they didn’t have the heat on in the hallways so we were in our jackets for all of our pictures. There were programs for sale, binoculars (which they called opera glasses) available to rent, as well as a coffee shop and a vending machine for drinks.

Photography was forbidden in the auditorium itself which was actually a very comfortable temperature. We bought the cheapest seats (60,000 won so like $50) so we were on the fourth floor in the last two rows of the theater. But we could still see and hear everything that was happening on stage. The theater wasn’t sold out either which surprised me.

I had never been to a Broadway caliber production before and I was actually very impressed from the beginning. The giraffes came out first which were dancers on stilts. They must have needed very strong abdominal muscles for that. They were all in sync with each other’s movements. There was a live orchestra and drums. The costumes were great and the sets were simple but I really liked them. I was actually very impressed with the caliber of actors, dancers, and singing in the show. The show was mostly in English with what was probably an African song or two in the mix but there were Korean subtitles on a large screen off to the side.

The story was very true to what I remember of the movie, except that Rafiki the crazy monkey was a girl in the live show. But all of the usual songs were there. There were a few Korea specific jokes in the show. For example, they talked about going to Dongdaemun Market and Zazu said “don’t send me back to Everland Zoo!” Also, Zazu sings “Let it Go” to Scar instead of “It’s a Small World.”

One of the ladies said she was going to come back with her kids. I think kids would enjoy the show and there were actually several in the theater. Lion King is in Seoul until the end of March and then it moves to Busan, so there is still time to go see the show.

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After the show, we headed back to the car so that we could go to our next location, Dongdaemun Market. I guess we didn’t really do our research on this one because the night market is closed on Sundays (which actually means Saturday night). So we went to Doota (a big department store type mall) which had cute stuff but department store prices. The better deal would have been the outdoor market, but it wasn’t there that day. There was one small section of outdoor shops in yellow tents so we went there. I had some street food (chicken kebab) and a few of the ladies found hats and things to buy. It was only about 20 degrees outside and the usual Korea wind so we didn’t last super long anyway.

We left Dongdaemun a little after midnight and went to a 24 hour McDonalds on the way home since ladies were hungry again. It was a wonderful adventure. Maybe will try Dongdaemun again in the spring when it is warmer.

Ideas for keeping in touch with long distance relatives

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We moved to South Korea when Clarissa was eighteen months old. I felt bad taking the only grandbaby on both sides to the other side of the world. But I also knew that there were things that I could do to help Clarissa keep in touch with her extended family.

  • Care Packages
    I hang up Clarissa’s artwork in our house when she creates it. A few times per year, I take it down and mail it to the grandparents. We try to send care packages with art (and now that she is older, samples of her school work) at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and Christmas. This way, I don’t have to throw Clarissa’s work away and the grandmothers appreciate samples of her work.
    We often create special cards or paintings specifically for the packages. Especially when Clarissa was younger, we would create something with her handprint or footprint so that the grandmothers could see how much she had grown. We have made footprint butterflies and mermaids, and handprint flowers among other things.
  • Photo gifts
    I use Shutterfly a lot for gifts. It is easy to make calendars and photo books. For a while I was sending photo books at different times and everyone was on a different schedule. Now I have switched to making one for the year and everyone gets the same one. I can also send mugs, notebooks, bags, and calendars with Clarissa’s pictures.
  • Visits
    How often you visit depends on how far away you are. A flight from Korea to America is expensive (and the thirteen/fourteen hour time difference is brutal) so we’ve only been home once in four years. At about our halfway mark in Korea, Clarissa and I did a solo trip to visit both sets of grandparents. She was so young when we left that she didn’t really have memories of them in person, just over Skype. I assumed that if we could go to America and make some memories, she would interact with the family members better when we did Skype. I was correct.
  • Facebook
    We have a special facebook group for our extended families. I try to regularly post pictures, videos, and funny things that Clarissa says so that they can see her often. Sometimes they post videos with messages for her as well or pictures of the animals in Omi’s yard. I also make videos whenever someone sends Clarissa a package in the mail. This way they get to “watch” her open her gifts and see her reaction.
  • Skype
    Skype is free and we use it regularly. The grandparents can talk to Clarissa (and Tim and I) in real time. There are also copies of books that Clarissa owns that each of the grandparents have so that they can read her a book over Skype and she can follow along. And they often request that she opens her presents over Skype so they can interact with her while she opens them.
  • Blog
    I had a blog before we moved anyway but it was mostly a recipe blog. Once we moved, it morphed into a what we’re doing in Korea and travel blog. I don’t have a big following, but my family enjoys reading about our adventures. I also like that one day Clarissa will be able to look back and see our adventures in picture and story form.

We’re planning to move back to the United States in the spring. Clarissa is excited that she will get to see her grandparents and new baby cousin in person. She is hoping that we will live close so that she can see them “whenever I want!”

The day Clarissa decided she wanted to be baptized

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Clarissa and I talked about baby Jesus a lot in December. We talked about his parents, his birth, the shepherds, the wise men; all of it, when we did Truth in the Tinsel.

This month, Clarissa and I are going to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and learn how to pray. Before we do that, I wanted to review some of the things we learned about Jesus. So one day we looked at the pictures in her Bible about Jesus’s dedication at the temple (at 8 days old) and about when His parents couldn’t find Him because He stayed at the temple (at 12 years old).

 

I wanted to move on to Jesus being baptized and our conversation took a very interesting turn. When we looked at the picture of Jesus being baptized, Clarissa said, “So when Jesus was being dedicated at the temple, it was like he was being baptized. That’s how babies are baptized. And then they get baptized as an adult too.” So we stopped to talk about it.

I explained that when babies are dedicated to the Lord, it is really about the parents. The parents are making a decision to raise their child to know who God is. The parents want their child to love Jesus so they pray that their child will love God. When an adult is baptized, it means something very different. When an adult is baptized it means that they want to show other people that they love Jesus.

 

Clarissa immediately said, “Oh. I love Jesus. I want to be baptized.” I explained that usually our pastor baptizes people in a river so we need to wait until it is warmer outside. But she was very adamant that she wanted to be baptized. Immediately. Right now. I told her she needed to wait at least another half hour until Daddy came home.

She agreed to that and got to work making a sign. “Mommy how to do you spell Baptized?” Then she put on her bathing suit and asked me to fill up the bath tub. She got impatient waiting for Tim so she decided to baptize herself. “Mommy, I did it!” What?

 

 

Then Tim got home and we talked about what happened when John baptized Jesus. And Clarissa was like, “I already got baptized, you don’t need to do it again…” She didn’t want us to dunk her.

I’m not sure this counts as her official baptism. I’m sure she’ll want to do it again when she’s older and understands it a bit better. But I so appreciated her heart and how she wanted to do it right now.

Our favorite books about South Korea

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In honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I thought I would share our favorite children’s book about South Korea. Some of these we own and some we have borrowed from the library (actually all are at the Camp Humphreys Library).

 

One of Clarissa’s favorite books to borrow from the library is Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell. A little girl is adopted from South Korea and comes home to live with her new family in America. She doesn’t know any English but her family quickly learns a few Korean words, specifically “goyangi” because of their pet cat that the little girl loves so much.

We own Bee-Bim-Bop by Linda Sue Park because Clarissa loved it so much when we borrowed it from the library that we read it every day for a week straight and actually had to learn to make bibimbap from the recipe in the book.

Last year, we reviewed Carole P. Roman’s If You were me and lived in… South Korea. I think Clarissa likes it because it talks about some of the places we have visited. I think it gives you some idea of Korean culture as it discusses Korean words for mom and dad, money, school, and sports.

Lately, Clarissa has been interested in Sori’s Harvest Moon Day by Uk-Bae Lee. This story is about a little girl and her family and how they travel to their grandparents’ house for Chuseok, which is one of the two major holidays in South Korea. It is interesting to see how another culture celebrates a holiday to honor ancestors and spend time together.

Another book we borrowed from the library is called The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park. This story is about a boy who lives by the sea. His family has the important job of lighting a fire on the mountain each night if everything is calm. Each mountain has a family to light a fire. This way, the king will know if there are invaders in the land. If the fires are not lit, then the king will send soldiers to help. One day, the boy’s father hurts his ankle and he has to light the fire himself.

The library on post has an entire section of Korean children’s literature. Some of it is Korean folktales and others are books written in Korean. But these are our favorites.

Our favorite books for four year olds

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Clarissa has always been a reader. I have pictures of her looking at books sprawled out on the floor before she could walk. She asks to visit the library often and requests that I read to her several times per day. If I am not available, she says “okay,” and then walks into her room, closes the door, and starts “reading” to herself. These were some of her favorites when she was four years old. Again, we have a lot of series of books on this list. Thought there were a few that were favorites by themselves.

  • At four, Clarissa was pretty much obsessed with Magic School Bus. She watched the show on netflix everyday and has several different books to read. Her favorites were Inside the Human Body and Time of the Dinosaurs. But we pretty much read any Magic School Bus book that we could find.
  • Gigi, God’s Little Princess is a wonderful series of books by Sheila Walsh. Clarissa says that Gigi “reminds her of Fancy Nancy, except that Gigi loves God.” She’s your typical five year old girl who has some crazy adventures with her best friend Frances. She has a cat named Tiara and a dog named Lord Fluffy. Gigi is also very into the color pink.
  • Usborne has several books about the human body. Clarissa really enjoys the lift the flap ones.
  • Gerald and Piggie books by Mo Willems were another favorite. Elephant Gerald and Piggie are best friends but they are so different. Piggie is fun and exciting and Gerald is a little more cautious but they have great adventures together. I also like that all of the books are written entirely in dialog.
  • Little Critter was one of my favorites when I was a little kid. Clarissa loves Little Critter and the crazy adventures that he has with his family. I like that he has a great family and that he is your typical kid. “I tried to make you lunch, but I got hungry…I didn’t forget to use soap, I just don’t like it…”
  • We bought Clarissa Lily’s Easter Party a few years ago to go with her Resurrection Eggs. She pulls the book out several times per year. I can’t put it away with the Easter things. She likes the story of friends having and Easter egg hunt. I like that she is learning more about the different parts of the Resurrection story.
  • I wrote a review about the Planet 316 Bible last year. It is Clarissa’s favorite Bible. She loves that she can use my phone to make the stories come to life. I like it because she is excited about reading Bible stories.

I need to write separate posts for Christmas and Easter because we have so many favorite books for those seasons.

Our top 10 places to visit in South Korea (with kids)

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We’ve lived in South Korea just shy of four years and have been on countless adventures (apparently I have 80 posts about Korea on this blog…) People always ask our favorite places to visit. Here is our top 10. Keep in mind that our entire time in South Korea, Clarissa has been five and under so a couple with no kids or teenagers may have a different list.

Please note that I am putting these in order based on location so that you could feasibly plan a trip from this list. Tim and I do think that if you did a trip to South Korea, this would give you a decent idea of cultural things though.

Seoul

There will be a post at some point about our favorite things in Seoul itself. But for now, these are our favorite places in South Korea that just happen to be in Seoul.

There are two neighborhoods that we really like and for different reasons. Hongdae (Hongik University Station exit 6) is very artsy and modern. You can buy lots of cute jewelry, art supplies, and gundam here in modern stores. On a visit there this fall, I got my ears pierced and we visited a bunny cafe.

My other favorite neighborhood is Insadong (Anguk Station or Junggak Station). It is another artsy area but very different. Here you can buy traditional pottery, silk scarves, wall paintings, and plenty of other Korean knick knacks. Some are in carts that only accept won and others are in stores that will take your credit card. While visiting this area, you can also let fish nibble the dead skin on your feet or visit a temple.

There are several different palaces in Seoul. Our favorite (and close to Insadong) is Gyeongbokgung Palace (Gyeongbokgung Station or Anguk Station). The palace grounds are huge and lovely. They even have a changing of the guard ceremony several times per day. The entrance fee is 3,000 won (less than $3 USD). If you want a different experience and to get in free, there are several shops nearby that will let you rent a traditional hanbok and walk around a few hours looking like a Korean princess.

Another cool place is visit is Olympic Park (Olympic Park Station or Mongchontoseong Station). You get to see all four seasons at this park so you may want to go more than once. There are several miles of walking trails, cool trees, monuments and sculptures, flags form all over the world, buildings from the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and even some playgrounds for the kids. If you get hungry or want to walk around in some air conditioning Lotte World Mall (didn’t make our top 10 but we do like it) is nearby and has plenty of options for eating, shopping, and a decent aquarium.

Korea has a large Buddhist population so there are temples all over the place. Many of them look similar and have architecture much like the palaces you may also visit. But, if you are going to visit a temple while visiting Seoul, we recommend Bongeunsa Temple (Bongeunsa Temple Station or Samseong Station). It is one of the largest temples that we have seen as it is a complex instead of just one building. It is pretty much across the street from Coex Mall (again not our top 10 but we like it) which also has some shopping, good food, and a decent aquarium.

Suwon and surrounding area

Clarissa refers to Hwaseong Fortress as the Great Wall of Korea. We were impressed that she did the three mile plus hike. There are several places to rest as you walk. I wouldn’t bring a stroller as you need to go up several flights of stairs, but a carrier would be fine. It isn’t a dangerous hike at all. There is a palace inside the wall, but it is not better than Gyeongbokgung that is listed above. There are several monuments and bells. There is a place to learn archery at certain times of day. You can get snacks at a convenience store. It is very pretty during certain times of year. At certain places on the wall you can see most of Suwon.

I went to several different folk villages in Korea and the best one is the Korean Folk Village in Yongin. We have been twice. There are several different houses and shops set up so that you can see how peasants and rich people and governors have lived in Korea over the years. Several times per day there are shows with horses, acrobats, or folk dancers. I grew up going to Jamestown and this was the closest thing I experienced to this. There is also a great Folk Museum that has exhibits from many countries around the world to see how indigenous peoples live. A small amusement park is attached. There is admission for the folk village and museum, and you can also add on rides at the amusement park or different experiences like pottery making for an additional cost. There is plenty of Korean food available for purchase as well.

On our first trip to the Folk Village, we went to Everland the next day. Everland is an amusement park with the same caliber rides as a Busch Gardens. There are different countries represented as well as food. Clarissa was only 2.5 so she was too small for all of the rides except Thomas the Train. But the real reason that we went there was the zoo! Admission to Everland will cover the zoo and the rides. But the zoo alone is worth the admission. It is the best zoo in South Korea because of the size and quality of the exhibits. It is also the only zoo in Korea that has pandas. There is a safari ride that takes you over land and water to see animals close up. You can also pay extra for a pony or camel ride.

If Clarissa was making this list, she would add Anseong Farmland to the Suwon and surrounding area. However, this would not be easily accessible by public transportation so it would really only be worth going if you already live in Korea and are planning to be in the Pyeongtaek area (Camp Humphreys or Osan).

Busan

People head to Busan for the beach. The water in South Korea is pretty cold in my opinion, but Busan has some very pretty beaches. Our favorite is Haeundae Beach. It is a very nice beach, but also very crowded during tourist season (July and August). You can see some pretty parks nearby or a sand castle festival in May. I like the contrast of the water with the tall buildings. There is an aquarium right on the beach, but you can skip it unless you have really young kids who need something to do.

Another cool temple is check out is Haedong Yonggungsa. You can take a bus near Haeundae Beach or you can take a taxi. It is a beautiful temple, on the side of a mountain and right on the water. There are plenty of statues and shrines inside it to see. We happened to go the week of Buddha’s birthday so it had special lanterns.

If you’re going to be in Busan and are looking for a fun park to go to with your kids, I would recommend Busan Citizen’s Park. There are so many beautiful plants and different playgrounds. Your kids will love it! It’s not super easy to get to with public transportation, so again, this would be great if you have a car.

A new tradition for January

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I am a planner. Drives me crazy. I like to have a plan. Then something changes and I have to change the plan. But the plan is always there.

I have tried long term plans and short term plans. Google calendar and a wall calendar worked for a while. Last year I tried a planner. I tried a few and then had other lists for planning things like my blog or homeschooling.

Right now the bloggers and podcasters are raving about planners and power sheets, goals, and things they will accomplish in 2019. Sounds good for a planner like me, right?

But it’s not. I have no idea what I want 2019 to look like. I have no idea when we are leaving Korea this year, nor do I know where we are moving. This also means that I don’t know if we will live somewhere where I will homeschool or if I need to go back to work.

What I need to do in in 2019 is trust. To trust that God has a plan for our family. That He knows what is best and will direct our steps. I also need to enjoy this season of life. Clarissa will only be 5 once and we will only be in Korea for a few more months. I need to enjoy it now because when we move back to the US, life will be different. It does not mean bad, just different. I don’t want to look back on the end of our time here and regret not being fully present.

So for January (we’ll starting now really), I want to turn off all the voices. I took Facebook and my podcast app off my phone. I want to spend more time with the people in front of my face and take some time to write. And spend some extra time with Jesus.

Bringing Your Kids Alongside you to Serve Others

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As Clarissa grows, one of my goals is for her to have a heart that wants to serve others and not just herself. At first it seemed hard to find ways for her to serve others since she is only five. But I have found that one of the best ways to do this, is to just bring her alongside when we serve.

Some ways that we do this in everyday life:

  • Meals
    If someone we has a baby or needs surgery or something like that, there is usually some kind of meal train. We sign up and take a meal to that family. Clarissa might help me make the meal. But she always wants to make dessert. So she helps me bake something for the family and also usually comes with me to deliver the meal.
  • Babysitting
    Living in an army community overseas, there are not usually family members around to help. Friends become that family for you while you are here. If a friend has a doctor appointment or a job interview, we can watch their children. Clarissa isn’t old enough to be in charge, but she can play and share her toys with the children at our house.
  • Sunday School
    If I am teaching Sunday School, Clarissa can help me prepare. She helps me choose materials for her class. On Sunday morning, she goes with me to set up the supplies before class starts.
  • Sponsor a Child
    Once a child is three years old, they are eligible to be a sponsored child for Compassion International. On Clarissa’s third birthday, we went on their website and found a list of a three kids who were born on her birthday. I thought for sure she would choose the little girl, but she was adamant that she wanted to choose a boy. She helps me write letters and draw pictures for our sponsored child. We pray for him and his family. We talk about what the money we send does for his family. I think she is still disappointed that we have yet to meet him in person but hopefully we’ll get to do that someday.
  • Responding to Needs
    Facebook can be a helpful tool. A few times we have seen posts on our community pages that describe a specific need. For example, one time there was a woman whose brother’s house burned down and his family lost anything. She was asking for donations of clothes for the children and one was a little girl Clarissa’s size. We have more than enough so Clarissa and I went through her things and found clothes, shoes, books, and toys that we could send for the little girl.

It is getting closer to Christmas so families are often looking for ways to serve. There are plenty of holiday specific things you can do.

  • Operation Christmas Child
    In America, this is one of my favorite things to do. I collect things all year like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys to put in our shoeboxes. There aren’t any drop off points in Korea, so I was sad that we would not be able to participate here. But there is an online option. For $25 per box, we can assemble a shoebox online. Clarissa and I can choose gender, age, and specific items in each category for our shoebox. We can also enclose a family picture and write a note. Then we pray for the child who will receive our shoebox. It is one of Clarissa’s favorite things to do.img_20181025_1140496001063227302204537.jpg

 

  • Angel Tree
    Angel Tree is a program that gives children with incarcerated parents gifts for Christmas. Many churches or community centers participate in this program. You can find a child’s ornament on the tree and buy gifts for that child to bring back to be distributed. Some churches do their own version of this. In Korea, the chapel did something similar with children at a nearby orphanage. Clarissa enjoyed going with me to the px to buy some clothes and toys for the child.
  • Christmas gift for Jesus
    On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some families do a birthday party for Jesus complete with cake. We also choose some gifts for Jesus. Several ministries send out a gift catalog in the fall. This year, Clarissa looked through the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog and spent several days deciding what we wanted to do. She wanted to give more than our budget so it was hard to choose specific items. She kept wanting to do the feeding people and medical gifts. We ended up choosing a goat since that would feed a family for a long time. She also chose sending winter coats to kids. When she is older and has an allowance, it will be interesting to see if she is willing to pay for these things herself. But for now, she is learning about the needs of others.
  • Soup kitchens
    This is really something that you can do all year, but many people only think about it during the holidays. There are several people in your community who don’t have a place to stay or enough food to eat. You can go as a family to serve them a meal.

A quick trip for our favorite things in Daegu

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We’re about four months from DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas). No, we don’t know where we’re moving yet in the United States. But we know we’re leaving relatively soon so we decided to go back to some of our favorite places in Daegu this weekend.

Most military families are in South Korea for two years, though some may extend for three years. Since we are a two months shy of the four year mark, most of our Daegu friends don’t live there anymore so we mostly went for the food.

Saturday morning we drove down to Daegu. The traffic wasn’t bad until we got to Daegu, which is normal. Thankfully Daegu traffic is not as bad as Seoul traffic. When we arrived at Camp Walker, our first order of business was lunch at Awesome Burger, which is near gate 4. We were able to meet up with one of Tim’s friends for lunch. Tim got his usual hellgate burger. I got a regular burger with no bun. Clarissa just ate french fries. We were all very satisfied with our meal.

The next stop was the library. While we lived in Daegu, the Camp Walker Library was pretty much Clarissa and my favorite place. We were there at least once per week. They ordered a bunch of books from my wishlist so I know that I like the selection there. I was disappointed that none of our friends were there. It looks like they may have moved as well. But Clarissa and I still found several books to borrow (you can borrow books from any army library in Korea while stationed on peninsula).

At 3:00, we headed downtown to our hotel, Novotel. We stayed there when we were moving in and out of Daegu so we knew we liked the location. We did forget however, that the temperature is always awful. It was set to about 80 degrees but they did give us a fan for our room. But the view is always great.

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After settling in, we did some shopping. We hit up Daiso (like a Family Dollar), Mango Case (cellphone accessory store- the place to go if you need a screen protector or case for a phone or tablet. They apply it perfectly!), and S Dot (like a Michaels- located next to the Play Station Store). Then we headed to our favorite Korean Barbecue right as they opened at 5:00. If you wait until 6pm or later Kyung Sung Market is packed! (Kyung Sung Market is in Banwoldong a few doors down from Mir Dental)

The food was delicious as usual. Our usual Dunkin Donuts wasn’t there anymore. So we decided on Auntie Anne’s for dessert and walked backed to our hotel. There were some pretty Christmas lights and some people singing Christmas Carols in Hangul on our way.

We did something unusual for us, and just relaxed in the hotel room (we usually run around for hours until we come back to the hotel room and crash when on vacation). Sunday morning, we had McDonald’s for breakfast since it was across the street from the hotel. On our way back to the hotel, it started snowing. Clarissa enjoyed catching snow on her tongue. It was fun to watch the snow from 21 floors up, but you can’t see it as well in the pictures.

After checking out of the hotel we went to our favorite emart (like a Target) in Wolbae. It was a great emart when we left a year and a half ago. It has since been renovated and is even better. It includes a kid cafe and an electromart now so we were happy.

We headed back to Camp Walker for Tim’s favorite pizza. Italy and Italy is right outside gate 4. It was snowing really well by the time we got there. We like it because you can customize your pizza or pasta. The food was great, as always. Tim’s friend came back to see us for lunch.

The snow let up about the time we got out of Daegu. The traffic was only bad in Daegu as well. Since it was primarily a food vacation, we had to go to Tim’s favorite Thai restaurant when we got back into town. Sawatdee (in Osan’s ville) is our favorite.

Holiday traditions that point kids to Jesus

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A few years ago I read a book called Christmas is Not Your Birthday by Mike Slaughter. The point of the book is to be giving to others and serving Jesus instead of just wanting gifts for yourself. That’s what I want for Clarissa (and myself). For her to understand that Christmas is not just about her receiving gifts. Two books this year that have really helped her to see that: The King’s Christmas List and The Three Gifts of Christmas.

We have a few holiday traditions this time of year to point Clarissa to Jesus instead of just ourselves.

  • For Thanksgiving, Clarissa and I memorized Psalm 136:1. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” We spent several days talking about the things we are thankful for. Clarissa wrote them down inside the turkey that she drew.

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  • We read a lot of books about Christmas and Jesus.
  • We do Truth in the Tinsel. This is a 24 day curriculum where you read a Bible story each day and focus on a different part or person of the Christmas story (Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, etc). Each day in addition to the Bible reading there is some discussion and a craft to make. This is our fifth year and Clarissa and I  both really enjoy doing this together.
  • We like to bake in this house so we make a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve.
  • We also like to choose some birthday gifts for Jesus. We really like both the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog and the Compassion Gift Catalog. Clarissa, Tim, and I each get to choose a project to give to. Clarissa often will choose clothes for children or providing a family with some kind of animal. I like to give towards educating mothers either to read or some kind of skill that they can use to provide for their family. Tim likes to find technology projects.
  • A couple of years ago I kept a blessing jar. I would write down blessings on a sticky note through the year and put them in the jar. At the end of the year, I would pull them out and read them. It was fun to remember God’s faithfulness through the year.

Our Favorite Christmas Books for preschool and young elementary

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Clarissa has so many books that they don’t fit all fit on her bookshelf (side effect of your mother being a former reading teacher I suppose). There are certain books we like for each season so I rotate them out. I pull out the Christmas books about Thanksgiving time. But she knows where they are, so sometimes she will go and get them at random times during the year.

We have so many Christmas books that we really enjoy. This is our list of our favorite Christmas books for preschool and young elementary children.

  • Peek A Bible The Christmas Story by Tracy Harrast
    This is a lift the flap book that tells the Christmas story from Gabriel coming to see Mary until the wise men arrive to worship Jesus. Clarissa has always enjoyed lifting the flaps and I like that it is the true Biblical story.
  • Crystal Bowman’s Christmas board books are some of my favorites. I love the rhyme to the stories and the pictures are great. Clarissa really enjoys these as well.
    Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree talks about how every part of your Christmas tree (lights, the star, angels, presents, etc) points you back to Jesus, the real reason for Christmas.
    J is for Jesus talks about how a candy cane tells you Jesus’s story and gives details about the shepherds and angels at Christmas. It also talks about Jesus on the cross. Think Legend of the Candy Cane but for little ones.
    A Star for Jesus talks about how the star appeared in the sky and led the wise men to Jesus.
    My Christmas Stocking talks about St Nicholas and why we put presents in stockings today.
  • A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker
    This rhyming book talks about being thankful for each part of the nativity set from the angel, to Mary and Joseph, the donkey, shepherds, star, and of course baby Jesus who was the best present of all.
  • God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
    We like Little Cub in this house. In this installment, Mama takes Little Cub to go find God and see how He gave us Christmas. Little Cub is very excited that she can go and see God in things like the light, a glacier, and a star. They talk about how Jesus is the real reason for Christmas and the best gift ever.
  • The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
    I think I need to write a blog post specifically for her books. The Pine Tree Parable is about a family who comes to a poor family who comes to a pine tree farm and the little girl wants the biggest tree there. The family who owns the pine tree farm ends up gifting the family the tree, even though she was planning to keep it for their family. A wonderful story about giving.
  • Of course the Berenstain Bears have some fun Christmas books as well
    Trim the Tree is a flap book that watches the Bear family put up their Christmas Tree.
    In The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, the cubs learn that it is better to give than to receive. They also are the camel in the Christmas Play where you can see the Nativity story.
    In The Very First Christmas, Papa Bear reads the cubs the Christmas story from the Bible. It has fun illustrations. Clarissa always thinks its funny that they are bears instead of people though.
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas in Virginia by Sue Corbett
    In this story, a brother and sister are supposed to visit their aunt in Virginia but the sister gets hurt so she can’t go. The brother writes his sister every day to tell about his adventures. We’re originally from Virginia so I like that Clarissa can learn a little bit about the state she’s from.
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
    I like this story better than the original Gingerbread Boy because this one isn’t obnoxious. He just wants some friends and goes on an adventure to find them.
  • The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop
    This is a new favorite for me this year. In the beginning of the story, the princess is quite spoiled. So the king and queen come up with a plan. By the end of the story, the princess has given away all of her gifts and become truly gracious and kind. Clarissa is a little unsure because she thinks I am going to make her give away all of her presents though.
  • The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
    Clarissa was more excited about this new book about giving. Emma and her dog are invited to the king’s palace for his birthday party. Along the way Emma gives away all of her presents for the king. The king explains to her the verse that talks about “whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.” The end of the book gives some suggestions on how your family can give a birthday present to Jesus. Clarissa immediately was like, “Let’s do that!”
  • Merry Christmas Mom and Dad by Mercer Mayer
    This book isn’t about Jesus at all. But. It has all of the usual Little Critter antics that we enjoy. He tries to get the ornaments out for mom, but the box was upside down. He wants to give her Christmas cookies but he got hungry. You get the idea…

 

As a side note, I noticed as I was linking these to Amazon, most of these books are on sale right now. They are also not new books, so some are available at your local library.

But the Fruit of the Spirit is… peace

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At church, Clarissa has been learning about the Fruit of the Spirit. I did the lesson on peace and thought I would share since it was already typed anyway…

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What do you expect to see when you pass an apple tree? Apples right. And what about a ginko tree? Ginko. So when you are following Jesus, there are certain things or “fruit” that other people should expect to see in your life. These things are called the Fruit of the Spirit. Things like love, joy, and peace. The Bible says,

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

After Jesus went back to Heaven, He told the disciples to hang out until He sent them the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit living inside of us, and is like our helper. No matter where we go, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Without the Holy Spirit inside of us, following Jesus would be impossible. God wants us to be filled with His power so that we can live for Him.

Choose a volunteer. Give volunteer balloon. Ask them to toss it into the air to see how long it stays up. Then have them inflate the balloon and hold the end tightly (but don’t tie it closed). Toss the balloon in the air and watch as it screams across the room.

Ask: Which balloon stayed up longer? Even when thrown as high as our volunteer could throw it, the balloon didn’t stay up very long without air in it. Without the Holy Spirit, we’re like the empty balloon–we don’t have God’s power inside of us. But when we receive the Holy Spirit, we’re able to do great things for God. The Holy Spirit helps us follow Jesus.

The Bible says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Pyeongtaek), and in Judea and Samaria (Korea), and to the ends of the earth (all over the world).” Acts 1:8

So once we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, our life should be different. Has everyone asked God for the Holy Spirit in your own life?

As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, we can live for God everywhere– when we’re at work, with friends, or at home. When we’re living for God, we can learn some characteristics that the Bible calls the Fruit of the Spirit. The kids have been learning about the individual Fruits of the Spirit and I wanted to talk about peace today.

What is peace?

  • Feeling at peace. We don’t have to be afraid of ANYTHING. Jesus is bigger and more powerful. Demons have to leave in Jesus name. You can be healed in Jesus name.
  • We can live in peace with people.

What are some things that you need more peace about in your life? Either in your heart or with other people? What are you afraid of? What are you mad about? You don’t have to tell me about any of it. Write it down.

We’re going to listen to some music and give it all to God. I am providing a link on youtube as well as the lyrics. You can play the music and give it all to God or just sing the words as worship. I have also included some Bible verses about peace if you want to look at those

—–

Tremble by Mosaic

Peace, bringing it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at Your name

Still, call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Breathe, then call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus
Jesus, Jesus
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high
Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

Oceans by Hillsong

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

[2x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again to my family
Your blood flows through my veins

[4x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance

We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
You drowned my fears in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

Yes, I am
I am a child of God
I am a child of God
Yes, I am
I am a child of God
Full of faith
Yes, I am a child of God
I am a child of God

[3x]
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

—–

“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice: Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-7

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock Eternal.”
Isaiah 26:3-4

“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
Isaiah 54:10

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:25-27

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…’If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good”
Romans 12:17-21

Teaching Science without textbooks

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One of Clarissa’s favorite things to do is to read. It is also one of her favorite ways to learn. If we read about it in a book (or watch a show on TV), she is more likely to remember it. She will bring up facts that we read about months ago that I have already forgotten about.

A big favorite right now is a series of chapter books about Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro. In these books, a young girl named Zoey and her cat Sassafras meet some magical creatures who ring a doorbell on her scientist mother’s barn office. Each creature has a problem that needs to be solved. Zoey (sometimes with help from her mom) use the scientific method to figure out what is causing the problem and how to solve the creature. There are some black and white pictures, so it is a good bridge for kids who are used to reading picture books. The story is so engaging that my five year old often makes me read the entire book (95 pages) in one sitting!

With six books in the series, each book has a different creature and a different problem. Since Clarissa is only in kindergarten, we mostly read these books for fun. But there is a website about the book series that also has printables for science and literature activities that go with each book. Those would be great for families or teachers who want to go deeper with the books.

We also really like Magic School Bus in this house as well as the Magic School Bus Rides Again. We have watched every show, but we also own many of the books. When Clarissa is excited about any science topic, I can usually find an episode or two on netflix and a few books as well. The original series has been around long enough that there are picture books, early readers, and chapter books to talk about many topics. So far I have only seen chapter books for the Magic School Bus Rides Again but they are well written and have a few pictures throughout the book.

Last year, her favorite topic was the human body. So we watched all of the body episodes on both series as well as read the books. Then we spent a lot of time drawing pictures of the different systems in our bodies.

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Another of Clarissa’s favorite topics is animals. We have watched so many episodes of Wild Kratts to learn about animals. They also have a great website with information, videos, and games for kids to explore more about any animal they choose. Our library also has a few early reader books based on the Wild Kratts series.

Our library has a great section of picture books that are both fiction and nonfiction. Whatever topic Clarissa is interested in, I can usually find both fiction and nonfiction stories to read. Recently, we borrowed My Leaf Book so that we could talk about fall. Clarissa wanted to learn more about leaves so we walked around our apartment complex one day to collect various leaves. Then we made our own book by drawing pictures of the leaves and looking them up, either in the leaf book on online, to label each leaf. She was so proud of herself.

A new favorite is our Steve Spangler Science Club. Once a month we receive a box of 4-5 experiments. We received our first box this month. The experiments are related but you can still spread them out over several days. This is something that Tim and Clarissa like to do together during daddy daughter time.

That time we were the only people at Anseong Farmland

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The last time we went to Anseong Farmland was for a birthday party. It was a Saturday at the beginning of September so it was pretty crowded. We had a great time and Clarissa has been asking to go back for two months. Today I decided the air was clean enough and it was still warm enough to go. I am so glad I did.

We went arrived on a Wednesday afternoon about 3pm. The website said that they were open every day from 10-6 so I figured we would be okay. There were only four cars in the parking lot so I was a little concerned that the place was closed. We walked up to the ticket counter and purchased a farm horse ticket (12,000 won for children and 17,000 for adults gets you general admission to Anseong Farmland plus a horse riding experience).

We walked over to where the horses were and realized that it was time for people to get horseback riding lessons. Either that or there was a school there on a field trip. We were willing to wait. A man came out and said, “Uh. We’re full right now.” I asked if we should come back later and he said, “Um. No. Come with me.” He proceeded to take Clarissa and I to a different barn where the ponies are kept. He took out a pony on a leash, showed Clarissa what to do, and let her walk around with the pony. Meanwhile there were at least 10 other kids with a Korean teacher having a class.

 

He then took us back to the barn and told us to wait while someone warmed up a different horse for Clarissa to ride. So we watched as a tall horse and a smaller horse warmed up and trotted around the arena. Then it was our turn. Clarissa went first. The trainer walked Clarissa around the circle five times. During her ride, Clarissa learned that her horse was actually also a five year old girl. She was thrilled. I had my five laps around the circle too but there aren’t great pictures from my ride.

During my ride the trainer asked where we traveled from. I am pretty sure that they assumed we were on a trip from America and not Americans who live in Pyeongtaek. I don’t know if everyone else will get the same experience. But we had a wonderful visit!

Our next objective was to feed some animals. Last time we were there on a Saturday so there were people selling animal feed everywhere we went. On a Wednesday afternoon we were the only ones walking around and that was not the case. We got to pet bunnies, but there was no one selling carrots today.

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Thankfully there was actually an attendant selling food with the farm animals. Usually, you pay 1,000 won for a small basket of food. He gave us a heaping bowl for the pigs and then when we asked for food for the sheep, he gave us 3 baskets for the price of one and said, “service” (that means free). Clarissa had a great time feeding sheep, goats, pigs, deer, and cows.

Then we went up the hill to see the donkeys. The man came out of his shack and gave us four carrots for free when he saw us looking at the donkeys. We walked around a bit and then saw the horses. So we went back to the man and I was prepared to pay for more carrots. Last time, we paid 1,000 won for two carrots. This time I gave him 1,000 won and he gave us 8 carrots!

On the way out, I noticed there were two houses for birds. In the first house, we went in and birds kept landing on me. At one point I had one on my head, one on either shoulder, and two on my arm. None would go near Clarissa. There was a machine to buy bird food, but you needed to have 500 won coins. So we only bought one container of food.

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Then we went to the other house. There was an attendant there cleaning. Clarissa wanted to look at the birds more closely. He said, “Do you want to feed them?” and proceeded to pour birdfeed in Clarissa’s hand. When the birds didn’t come, he put some in his hand, whistled, and brought her closer. They came to him and then he moved his hand next to hers and they started eating from her hand.

Clarissa and I had a wonderful afternoon. We were at Anseong Farmland about two hours. I highly recommend going on a weekday. There wasn’t a tractor ride though so if you want that you probably need to go on the weekend. But we so enjoyed having the place to ourselves. Clarissa loved our first trip but kept saying this was so much better.

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books

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If you’ve been around a while, you know that we love books in this house. I have special books that we only get out at certain times of year. Though Clarissa knows where they are so sometimes I have to go hunting for them. This year we found a new favorite at the library as well. There are so many books available to teach kids the history of Thanksgiving, but these are our current favorites.

  • An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving
    In this story by Louisa May Alcott, the mother and father get called away suddenly because her mother is sick. So the older daughters are left in charge for Thanksgiving. They make dinner but they don’t do it quite right. But the extended family comes home and has a wonderful evening together, complete with apple slump for dessert. The recipe was in the back of the book, so you know we had to make it. It was delicious!
  • God Gave Us Thankful Hearts
    I wrote about this book a few years ago when we first discovered Little Pup. It leads to great discussions about all the things we can be thankful for.
  • Berenstain Bears Give Thanks
    Papa makes a new table and chairs for Farmer Ben. His payment is a big turkey named Squanto. Sister Bear falls in love with Squanto and so they don’t end up eating him for Thanksgiving dinner. But Sister and the other cubs do put on a play about the first Thanksgiving.
  • The Littlest Pilgrim
    Mini is the smallest pilgrim in the village and gets frustrated because everyone says she is too small to help. This part frustrates Clarissa. But at the end she makes a friend so she likes it. I like that you get to see many of the chores during colonial times so Clarissa gets to see what life was actually like for a pilgrim girl like Mini.
  • Thank you, Sarah
    This is the story of how Thanksgiving became the national holiday that we celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. A woman named Sarah Hale actually wrote letters for thirty eight years before Abraham Lincoln said yes to her idea of having a set day for Thanksgiving so that everyone in the country could celebrate on the same day. We like it because the book refers to her as a super hero. So she is a girl and her super power is writing. Both things are of value in this house.
  • Being Thankful
    At the beginning of the book Little Critter complains about everything. Then, he goes to visit his grandparents on their farm and learns about being thankful complete with a new thankful rock. He comes home and teaches his sister what it means to be thankful. (Clarissa painted thankful rocks for everyone in our house after reading this book…)

Our favorite books for five year old girls

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Clarissa and I read A LOT. We read as part of our school day, at bedtime, if Clarissa’s mood is out of control, or just because she wants to read. If she gets sent to her room, she just looks at books until I tell her she can come out.

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When she was younger, we could read the same book several times in a row for days at a time. Now we may repeat a book later in the week. But we have shifted to reading books in the same series instead of just reading the same title.

Some of our favorite series right now:

  • Fancy Nancy
    Fancy Nancy is hilarious. She is your typical six year old girl. Super girly and proper but still quite silly. Her idea of fancy is using big words. Clarissa loves her crazy adventures. I like that Clarissa learns new vocabulary. Nancy also comes from a great family so you see family dynamics including a good relationship with her little sister and she has some other great adults in her life.
  • Anything by Mo Willems
    Mo Willems is a wonderful children’s author and illustrator. He writes several series of books. We have been reading Gerald and Piggie for a few years. The pigeon books are growing on Clarissa as well lately. But her new favorite is his Knuffle Bunny series (pronounced k-nuffle in Dutch). The books are mostly written in short dialog which makes them funny but also great for new readers.

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  • Magic School Bus/ Magic School Bus Rides Again
    The original series has been around long enough that there are picture books, early readers, and chapter books to talk about many topics. So far I have only seen chapter books for the Magic School Bus Rides Again but they are well written and have a few pictures throughout the book. Clarissa doesn’t ask for these everyday like she used to. But we still read Magic School Bus at least once per week. Especially if she is in the mood to learn something or if we talk about something during our lessons and she remembers she has a book about it.
  • Zoey and Sassafrass
    In these books, a young girl named Zoey and her cat Sassafras meet some magical creatures who ring a doorbell on her scientist mother’s barn office. Each creature has a problem that needs to be solved. Zoey (sometimes with help from her mom) use the scientific method to figure out what is causing the problem and how to help the creature. There are some black and white pictures, so it is a good bridge for kids who are used to reading picture books. The story is so engaging that Clarissa often makes me read the entire book (95 pages) in one sitting!
  • Berenstain Bears
    I used to read Berenstain Bears as a kid. In fact, we still have some of my books in Clarissa’s bookshelf. I like that the stories come from a pretty conservative worldview. Clarissa likes that they are a family of bears and that Sister Bear wears pink. I also like that they have several Christian books now so she can read about Jesus, Christmas, Easter, and prayer while reading her favorite characters.
  • Skippyjon Jones
    Skippyjon Jones is a cat who thinks he is a chihuahua. He goes on crazy adventures in his closet where he goes to places like Mexico and outer space. He’s pretty crazy and his books are funny. But they don’t really have any moral lessons included in them.

Books that aren’t in a series that we read often:

  • Amazing You
    Last year, Clarissa was very interested in the human body. We have all of the Usborne books about the inside of the human body. This summer we spent some time talking about appropriate touch and private parts. She still asks to read this one often.
  • There are No Moose on This Island
    My aunt sent Clarissa this book for her birthday last year. A boy and his dad go on a trip to Maine and take a ferry to an island. The dad is very interested in his guide book and insists that there are not any moose on the island. But the boy definitely sees one. The moose and the boy spend most of the day trying to convince the dad that the moose is real. He finally sees them as they are on the ferry going back to the mainland.

This year I was introduced to Sarah Mackenzie who has curated book lists for just about everything.

Our first apple picking experience

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I don’t think they have apple picking where I grew up. I know they do a few hours away but we never went. Obviously, if I haven’t been, Clarissa yet to go apple picking either. So we were excited when the homeschool group decided to go apple picking together.

We went to Yesan Apple Wine (in Waze), about an hour away from Camp Humphreys. Waze made it pretty easy most of the way. The last mile or so, you just follow the big red apple signs.

If you make reservations, you can do an apple making experience at 2:00pm. They had a really great system in place. Everyone signs in and pays for the number of personal pies you are making (7,000 won each). Then there is a classroom set up. The teacher comes in and demonstrates all of the steps. Find your name on a table and follow the steps. The teacher walks around during the process to remind you things like to put the egg wash on your pie.

While you wait for everyone in your group to finish, there are sliced apples to eat. They were delicious. Sweet and juicy. Then, we went downstairs to tour the winery (in English). The process to make the wine takes three years. The brandy takes longer. They make a few different apple wines, blueberry wine, and apple brandy. The adults got a taste test at the end.

Next, we went outside to pick apples (5 for 10,000 won). We were instructed to pick a basket. Then our tour guide showed us “a good apple.” The apple should be red with no yellow on it if it is fully ripe. Clarissa had a great time picking the apples off the trees. She picked a few for me too and wants to go back again.

By the time we finished picking apples, our pies were ready. So we sat down to eat them. They don’t offer utensils though so we ate one almost like a big cookie and then brought the other one home for Tim.

The whole process was about 90 minutes. Our entire group enjoyed it. I highly recommend it for families. In the parking area there are also chickens to see. There is a “gift shop” near the entrance as well if you want to buy additional apples, apple wine, or apple jam.

Bulgogi

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For October’s cooking class at church we learned how to make bulgogi.

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Ingredients:
2 pounds thinly sliced beef chuck or sirloin
1 carrot thinly sliced (julienne)
mushrooms thinly sliced

Marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all marinade ingredients into a large bowl.
2. Add meat to marinade. Toss gently to mix everything together.
3. Marinade meat for about an hour.
Tip: If you want to make the meat more tender, add about 1/4 of a kiwi fruit blended into the marinade the last ten minutes.
4. Cut carrots and mushrooms. Mix in to marinade.
5. Use sesame oil to coat skillet.
6. Fry on high heat until cooked through.

You can serve plain or with white rice.

Korean Folk Village take 2

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We did a family trip to the Korean Folk Village in Yongin when Clarissa was two. There was a homeschool field trip there last week and Clarissa and I decided to go since she didn’t remember the first trip. There were actually several things that we did this trip that we didn’t get to do the first time so I was happy about that.

We decided to pay for the full admission which includes the Folk Village and the Amusement Park as well. Full admission is 27,000 won (about $25) for adults and 20,000 won ($18) for children. If you plan to skip the rides, adults pay 18,000 won for admission to the folk village itself. Children pay only 13,000. There is parking available for 2,000 won per car or you can take public transportation available. I saw several buses that said they came from Suwon station or Incheon Airport.

We started our beautiful fall day at the amusement park. Clarissa really liked the boat ride and the train ride. She was too afraid to go on anything else but the teenagers we were with loved all of the rides available.

If you look at the boat ride, to your right is a World Folk Village Museum. Clarissa and I kind of stumbled upon it while we were looking for a bathroom. It was honestly one of the highlights of our trip. There were nine different buildings with 2-3 different countries inside. Each country showed clothes, weapons, jewelry, or housing for an indigenous people of that particular country. The signs were in Korean and English. There were longer descriptions in Korean as well but we learned plenty without being able to read the longer writings.

Clarissa and I had some great discussions about all of these countries. She recognized some of the names like United States, Japan, China, Peru, and Australia. Some were new to her: Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Iran. There were maps on the wall so we could see where each country was on the map. I think we have a lot of books to read now so we can continue learning about these places and cultures.

We met back up with our friends for some gelato and then headed to the Equestrian Feats show. It was great! The performers basically did gymnastics on horses. It was only about twenty minutes and our attention was focused the entire time.

After the show, Clarissa and I wondered a bit and saw some different types of houses you would find in Korea at different points in history. There were government buildings, mansions, and farm houses. There were several additional experiences that you could pay for like making a clay pot or woodworking, but they close earlier in the day so you need to do those first. Clarissa really enjoyed walking through the jail and seeing the governor’s house, sitting in the governor’s chair, and pretending to be a prisoner on trial.

I was surprised that five year old Clarissa was interested in all of the buildings and houses. She actually walked the whole day without complaining. She kept saying, “What’s that? Let’s go over there…”

The Folk Village is open 8 hours each day. You can easily spend the entire day there and not see everything. I recommend it for children and adults.

Books for teaching kids about their bodies and appropriate touch

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Teaching Clarissa about her body is one of my jobs as a mom. She’s known the correct names for a while and we’ve talked about who is allowed to touch her and where. I have found a few books on the subject of body parts and appropriate touch for young children that I thought I would share.

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Amazing You! by Dr Gail Saltz, geared toward preschoolers, is currently one of Clarissa’s favorite books. She loves learning about the human body so she was very excited to learn about private parts and what their functions are. This picture book is easy to read and has illustrations that are appropriate for little kids. It says, “When a man and woman love each other and decide that they want to have a baby, a man’s sperm joins with a woman’s egg. From the egg and sperm, a baby will grow.” But that’s as detailed as it gets about reproduction in this book.

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The Story of Me and Before I was Born are the first two books in a series called “God’s Design For Sex.”

The Story of Me by Stan and Brenna Jones says that it is geared towards age 3 to 5. I think that is pretty accurate. The book talks about giving babies to married people to raise. It talks about a baby growing inside a mommy. The story introduces terms like womb, uterus, and umbilical cord. It also discusses vaginal birth, c-section, and breastfeeding in a way that little kids understand. They even introduced the idea of good touch and bad touch.

Before I was Born by Carolyn Nystrom is written for children ages 5 to 8. This book focuses on the physical differences between boys and girls. It says that God made them different and He said it was good. The book introduced the idea of sex being a gift for married couples and how a baby is made. It also discusses how a baby develops inside his mother.

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Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr by Kristen Jenson introduces the idea of pornography and talks about what you should do if you see something that you should not see. This one reads a little awkwardly out loud but led to great discussions.

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My least favorite was I Said No! A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Zack and Kimberly King. I appreciate what the book was trying to do. It was about a boy who went to a sleepover and his friend wanted to show him his private parts. Reading the words as they were written was very awkward. I found myself paraphrasing to to appease my ears. But it did bring about some great discussions between Clarissa and I.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines Review

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This month, I worked through the Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course from Lisa Tanner Writing. As you can guess from the title, it is a course about work-life balance, specifically for the work at home mom. But I think it is beneficial for all moms because we have to balance marriage, kids, and a house whether we are working or not.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

There are eight units in the course that you can work through at your own pace. Each unit works through a different area of your life; making goals for your business and getting your family on board, laundry, chores, meal planning, growing your business with kids underfoot, and boosting productivity. Each unit is broken into a few lessons and each lesson has an action step. Early in the course, one of the action steps is to do an email check in with Lisa. She actually responded to my email within 24 hours with encouragement and specific, actionable ideas for me.

She has several ideas for both laundry and meal planning. If you don’t struggle with those areas, you can skip those sections of the course. But if you are feeling overwhelmed in those areas, she has some wonderful suggestions. She has 5 years of annual meal plans available in the course. I like her idea of planning lunch. I always think about breakfast and dinner and don’t plan lunch so we end up winging it. This means that our meals in the middle of the day are not as healthy because it’s whatever I find. I also like her idea of a set time for certain chores. Morning chores are done after breakfast. Table chores are done after each meal.

Lisa has a lot of great ideas. She is a mom of 8 so all of the ideas work really well for large families. She gives suggestions for if you have fewer kids, but I really think this course is better for larger families or moms who feel overwhelmed with housework. Since Clarissa is my only child right now, some of it doesn’t really apply for me.

More than half of the course was really about getting your household running well with chores, laundry, and meal plans. The other units were about building your business. She talks about self care. “Learn what relaxes you, and make it a point to do that on a regular basis…even if it’s just five to ten minutes per day.” She has a great list of things you can pay other people to do so that you can focus on your business like grocery pick up, housecleaning, etc.

Lisa did inspire me to write more consistently on my blog. We are getting into a groove where Clarissa will let me write for a small block of time each day. Time blocking a to do list did help me to accomplish more in a day or at least have a more realistic expectation of what could be accomplished on that particular day.

Throughout the course, she has great downloadable lists for things like: chores your kids can do, what your kids can do during quiet time, and what a family writing time can look like. Each list is broken down into specific age groups to make it easy to find something for your specific kids. You can email Lisa again for another check in at the end of the course.

This course really did help me to find a focus for my blog and my writing. It helped me to really sit down and make some goals and plans for 2019. Due to the time constraints of writing this review, I feel like I rushed myself going through this course. I think I will go through it again slowly when Clarissa is a little older or if I do actually do need to earn an income from home. Fifty five women reviewed this course, so if you click on the link below you can read about their experiences as well.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

A Dad’s Role in Homeschooling

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When I was an elementary school teacher, the school district set the curriculum and pacing guide. As a homeschool mom, the idea of planning my daughter’s curriculum was daunting at first. I thought about what I want Clarissa to learn before she graduates from our household. I asked my husband what he thought that she should learn before graduation and then we talked about what we thought was important for kindergarten. We also asked her what she wanted to learn this year. And then I prayed and made a one page outline of what I thought Clarissa could do each month for kindergarten.

Two months in, my husband thought I was spending way too much time picking out the “right activities” and planning lessons. He assured me that we had room in the budget for me to buy some curriculum to make life easier so I could actually enjoy homeschooling. I am so thankful for his perspective on this. It has really helped me to just relax and do the next thing. There is still time for reading books we are excited about and we can stop when she loses interest without worrying if I’m doing enough.

One of Tim’s biggest roles in our homeschooling has been cheerleader. He doesn’t just finance our adventures and field trips. He values the time that homeschooling gives us as a family. He likes that Clarissa’s biggest influencers are her parents and not someone else.  The three of us are in agreement that we enjoy the homeschooling lifestyle and we don’t want to stop it anytime soon. We have also found that as a homeschooling family, mom isn’t the only one who leads learning. Dad has a role too.

As a kid, Tim really enjoyed geography. He looked at maps and read books about other countries. We live in South Korea so our daughter gets to experience another culture regularly. The last time we went on vacation, we wanted to visit a really big English bookstore in Tokyo. One of our main goals was to find a great atlas. We found a few books that we were excited about with maps and also how kids live around the world. Now that we are home, Tim enjoys looking through these with Clarissa in the evening. Before we go on vacation to a different country, Clarissa learns about the culture and geography of that place. We have a lot of great discussions on vacation as well.

Another thing that Tim and Clarissa enjoy doing together is science experiments. This summer, they grew crystals from a kit, and also tried to grow trips and fairy shrimp. I like that Clarissa is getting some hands on learning and it is something that they enjoy doing together. Then we find books from the library to learn more about these topics.

They also enjoy building things together. We recently bought a stool from IKEA that we had to assemble so they built it together. Legos are a staple at our house. Clarissa also likes to watch Tim build Gundam models.

They recently subscribed to the Steve Spangler Science Club. It will be interesting to see which science experiments they receive in the mail each month. Clarissa enjoys receiving things in the mail and it will give them something to work on together consistently.

Reflections on turning 35

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When I was in middle school, I won an essay contest. The topic was 50 years in the future and looking back at what your life had looked like. I found my essay a year or two ago and showed it to Tim. His was response was, “Pretty sure of yourself huh?” I had definitely named myself the first female President of the United States and had been an Olympic gold medalist in addition to being a mother of six children (some of whom were adopted), an author, a teacher, and a lawyer.

I think that my middle school self would probably have been disappointed to see what my life looks like at 35 years old since I am not on track to doing most of those things. But my 35 year old self is learning to be quite content with exactly how my life is going. I have really reflected a lot about my life this fall.

I always thought that I wanted to be a teacher, from like three years old. But when I think back, I really enjoyed Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Christy, and Boy Meets World. Even now one of my favorite shows is When Calls the Heart. Most of those shows/books have a teacher in a one room school house. And even Mr. Feeny somehow managed to teach the same group of kids from sixth grade through college.

I really loved my students for most of the four years that I was a classroom teacher. I didn’t care for the politics or the emphasis on standardized testing. But, I enjoyed watching the students grow and change as the year went on and I liked to be able to keep in touch with them when they left my class. I also really liked teaching Sunday school or being a youth leader at church because I could be with the same group of kids for several years and really pour into their lives. So really, what I wanted was to be like the teachers in the one room school houses of long ago.

When school started again on post, I had a very emotional day. I questioned if we were doing the right thing keeping Clarissa home. I grieved that I wasn’t going to have pictures of her first day riding the school bus to kindergarten or meeting her kindergarten teacher. But she and Tim didn’t care about any of those things. Once I processed that, I realized that I love having Clarissa home with me during the day. We have so many fun adventures together, and half of them are on the couch reading books upon books! I appreciate that I am the one who will teach her to read. We get to learn about the Bible, history, science, and math together.

I have also really enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I remember writing poems as an elementary student for the school newspaper. I won every essay contest I entered in middle school. And I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I also really enjoy research.

So I think that a homeschool blogger mom is probably my sweet spot. If I would just own it and not compare myself to other moms or other bloggers. I watched a movie recently called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Watching the main character, I was like, “Oh. I like to research things because I like to write…” I had so many thoughts and feelings during this movie. Really, I walked away from it more inspired to write. And enjoy MY life instead of worrying about everyone else’s.

I can’t believe that I have been blogging for 4.5 years. Sometimes it seems like forever and sometimes it feels so new. In that time, I have published over 350 posts. Sometimes multiple posts in the same day and other times a month would go by without a single word. This year, writing for the Homeschool Review Crew, I have gotten into a more consistent habit of blogging once per week. I think my goal for this year will be twice per week. I really have so many thoughts swimming around in my head, I think I would enjoy actually organizing and writing them. I have a few book ideas too.

Sometimes I also forget that we have lived in South Korea for over 3.5 years. We have had so many experiences and seen so many places that others will not. I don’t really know what to expect when we leave here. I don’t have a date for our departure other than that our DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas- the end of Tim’s contract) is in April. But I have no idea where we are headed. And I’m learning (well, I’m trying to anyway) to be okay with that.

God knows exactly when we will leave Korea, where we will go, and how long we will stay there. He also knows what family life will look like when we return to America. I am so blessed that I have been able to stay home with Clarissa the entire time we’ve been in Korea. We would both love to continue that when we return to America. And we’ll see what plans God has for growing our family while we’re there.

 

When can we go back to Awesome Farmland?

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In September, Clarissa was invited to ride horses at a birthday party at Anseong Farmland. I had been planning to take Clarissa there anyway, so we were really excited to go.

General admission to Anseong Farmland costs 10,000 won (about $10 USD). If you want to ride horses, it is an additional 8,000 won ($8 USD). That price pays for one 3-5 minute ride around the ring. They have riding helmets available and a staff person leads the horse around the ring.

Clarissa was a little nervous at first since she is generally afraid of heights and things that go fast. But with each lap, she seemed to relax a bit more. She was disappointed when she only got one turn. I think if we go back, I will have to pay for more than one turn…

General admission gives you access to the petting zoo. You can pay additional money at each station if you want to feed animals so bring won. One thousand won (about $1 USD) will pay for two carrots to feed rabbits, horses, or donkeys. You can also buy hay for goats, sheep, cows, and alpacas. They had food for pigs as well but they were performing when we were feeding animals so I don’t know what they eat.

There were plenty of animals to see, even if you were not feeding them.

There are several different buildings at Anseong Farmland. Some are restaurants and others are experiences. You can make pizza in the dairy experience. I should note that is Korean pizza, so some of the topics may be different than what some Americans are used to. But you can just add what you like.

There is also a building to do art. One of the restaurant buildings also has a mini trick eye museum.

The kids all enjoyed climbing and taking pictures with some statues. There was a playground on the grounds as well. Clarissa also enjoyed the carnival area. Most rides cost 3,000 won ($3 USD). Sometimes there was a discount if you paid for multiple rides at once. Clarissa’s favorite ride was the bumper boats that we did together. She also enjoyed “diving the train.”

Certain times of year they also have tractor rides but it was still considered summer when we went so we didn’t get to try that. Clarissa keeps asking when we will go back to “Awesome Farmland.” She can’t say it correctly and doesn’t hear the difference between Anseong and Awesome. I think we will try again now that the weather is cooler.

What the Book of Daniel can teach kids about character

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I enjoyed so many things about my time in children’s ministry. I spent 2012 writing curriculum for the kids I was teaching. We started with the life of Jesus. Then we moved on to the Holy Spirit. We also learned about Daniel and the Armor of God.

The kids really seemed to enjoy Sunday school. The teachers did too. A few friends who worked with me encouraged me to publish my writing. I wasn’t sure at first. I wanted to bless others and not just make a name for myself. But if I didn’t publish, no one would be able to find the curriculum.

I published 14 Things Kids Should Know about Jesus and Armor isn’t Just for Grown Ups! before Clarissa was born. Then I focused on my blog for a bit. Earlier this year, I finally got around to posting Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the Book of Acts to teach kids about Spiritual Gifts.

Last week, I published What the Book of Daniel can teach kids about character. This is 6 lessons of stories from the Book of Daniel. The children will discuss the famous stories of Daniel in the Lions Den and the Fiery Furnace, among others. Each story presents the character of Daniel and his friends and how their character sets an example for us today.

Download Daniel curriculum

Sheet Music book review

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One of my dear friends and I had lunch together at our favorite Mexican restaurant the day before I got married. We talked about all things married life and she recommended the book Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage. A few other people recommended it as well so I bought it. It has survived the move to two different cities in Korea and I finally got around to reading it this fall, nine years later…

I’ve heard Dr Kevin Leman speak several times on the Focus on the Family Broadcast so I figured I would enjoy his book. It wasn’t quite a conversational tone. But much like Enjoy! The Gift of Sexual Pleasure for Women, it was very relatable and sometimes funny. He spent some time talking about the needs and desires of men verses the needs and desires of women in a marriage. I had to laugh so many times, just realizing that Tim and I are completely normal. Dr Leman seems to describe Tim very well when he talks about men and me when he talks about women. So that was a comforting thing and I do feel like our marriage is in a great place right now anyway. He does talk about different positions but most of this book is about the why and not the technical details of sex.

Some of my favorite thoughts and ideas from the book:

  • “Remember, you weren’t put together on overtime at a factory in New Jersey. You were designed, crafted, molded, and sculpted by no less a designer than God himself. And when he birthed you, he sat back, smiled, and said, ‘This is good'” (234).
  • “Try to begin listening to the man who loves you rather than all the men who want to sell you something (talking about the marketing on TV or in magazines)” (233).
  • “Great marital sex is about learning to love someone else the way he or she wants to be loved” (33).
  • “The beauty of married sexuality is that you have your whole lives to grow and explore and enjoy each other” (115).
  • “A sexually fulfilled man will normally be a better father and a better employee. A sexually fulfilled woman will have less stress and more joy in her life. Sex is vitally important to a healthy marriage” (45).

I think Hongdae is my favorite

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We have planned to go to Hongdae a few times on a Saturday, but rain has canceled our plans. I was excited to go today, even though it was a Tuesday so I would miss the art market.

I think Hongdae is my new favorite place in Seoul. It feels different than most other sections of the city. Actually it doesn’t feel like you are in a big city at all. It feels more suburban with a bunch of cafes and artsy things.

Very close to the Hongik University Station exit 6 is a store called Object. It was really cute. Four floors (three for shopping) with coffee, books, stationary, and jewelry. I found several things that I liked there.

The next stop was Gundam Base. We all had fun looking at the different models and figures. Tim and Clarissa found one to work on together.

We found a very small, but still fun Xiaomi store. It wasn’t on our list for the day but we randomly passed it. We loved it in Hong Kong so we definitely had to check it out.

Then we saw a very large ArtBox. This is the best one we have visited so far. Clarissa and I found several art kits to work on together.

The next planned stop was Crow Piercing. I had my ears pierced twice growing up. One of my ears always got infected so I let them close up. I have been talking about getting my ears pierced again for at least a year so I did my research to see the best place to go. Crow Piercing was highly recommended so I chose to go there. I was not disappointed. I got to choose my earrings and he pierced my ears very quickly since part of the holes were still there anyway. It only cost 8,000 won (like $8 USD). I found a few other earrings for after my ears heal as well. It was very clean. My guy spoke great English. They are open from 1240 – 11 PM everyday.

Our last stop in Hongdae was Clarissa’s favorite. We went to Bunny Cafe. We all enjoyed feeding and petting the bunnies. It was a very clean place and the owner and bunnies were friendly for the most part. One bunny did bite Tim though.

We headed to I Park Mall for lunch. They have finally finished all of the renovations there. It looks great, but some of our favorite stores are gone. We could have skipped it.

The highlight was definitely the Studio Ghibli Store. We went to one yesterday at Lotte World Mall but this one was way cooler because it had the house from Kiki’s Delivery Service and Totoro‘s tree.

The Gundam Base was fine too but we had already been to the one in Hongdae. They were comparable so you only really need to go to one.

Because we still have not seen everything in Seoul…

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We spent Columbus Day weekend in Seoul. Though we have spent a lot of time in Seoul since we moved to Korea, we wanted to try a few things we had not tried before.

Our first stop was disappointing. We wanted to check out the Seoul Animation Museum. Apparently it is closed. I took a picture of the outside so that other people could find it before we realized that it wasn’t a museum anymore. Oops.

Our next stop redeemed the day. I had never heard of the Figure Museum before a friend mentioned it this week. It was very close to the Apgujeong subway station and easy to find with the statue in front. There were six floors of exhibits with each floor having its own theme. All three of us really enjoyed the museum.

Next we headed to Lotte World Mall for some dinner and shopping. Clarissa chose a kangaroo to paint. The staff member used a hair dryer to dry it so that we could take it home.

Since Clarissa was in an artsy mood, we decided to check out the Lotte Museum of Art  in Avenue L which is connected to the mall. It was an exhibit of Kenny Scharf. He was an animator for Hanna Barbara so we recognized some of his work. Some of it was pretty weird. But it was all very colorful.

Before leaving we decided to try Lotte World Tower. The views from the 118 – 122 floors were amazing. It was a very clear day so we could see very far.

It was 5pm by then so we headed to Itaweon for dinner. I had read about a gluten-free Cafe so we headed to Sunny Bread. They are only open Wednesday through Sunday so this was our only opportunity to go. There were a few things left in the pastry case so we bought one of each to go so we could try it all. Very tasty.

Finally we arrived at Manimal for dinner. It was very close to the pedestrian bridge from Noksapyeong, across from Buddha’s Belly. I have never been to an American style smokehouse. I expected it to smell smokier than it did. Tim and I ordered a platter to share. We chose three meats and three sides. All of it was delicious but way too much food. We could not finish it so next time we will get the platter with two meats instead.

Last beach day of the summer

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We were invited to a beach day with some friends at the end of the summer. Korea’s official beach season is pretty short. It actually starts on Tim’s birthday (July 13) and ends on Clarissa’s birthday (August 20). Some beaches are open a little later, until the end of August, so we decided to go to Eurwangni Beach in Incheon.

Eurwangni Beach is about an hour and a half drive from Camp Humphreys. Tolls cost about 11,000 won each way ($11 USD). The beach itself is pretty small. The waves are very calm and it is shallow for a good part of the beach so it is a great beach to bring small children. The sand area is clean. There is a public bathroom, shower area, and free parking right next to the beach. There is also a small playground and a path to explore the rocks along one side of the beach. There are plenty of convenience stores and restaurants for when you get hungry.

We had a wonderful day playing in the water and exploring. The water was fairly warm. Clarissa started her own shell collection.

After dinner, we looked out to see the sunset over the water and noticed that the tide had gone WAY out. I have never seen the tide go out that dramatically before. It was really cool to be able to see all the little crabs and critters out in the wet sand. The sunset was beautiful to see.

Clarissa and I really enjoyed our day with friends. We both decided that we would like to live near the beach next. This is definitely our favorite beach in Korea!

 

The changing nature of Kindergarten

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Clarissa and I did a preschool curriculum together last school year. She really liked it in the beginning and then started to lose interest in April so we stopped. By May she was asking to do “real school” at home so I planned a June start to kindergarten.

I spent hours looking through all of my school supplies and the activities that I had downloaded. I tried a homeschool planning course to see if that would help me. But I think that stressed me out more because it encouraged me to plan for the entire year before I start the school year. I decided to plan unit studies since I don’t have a formal curriculum to just break down into sections. I did make an outline of what units I thought we would do this year, but I knew it could change because I wasn’t sure how much Clarissa would enjoy doing each day.

I wanted to start slow and get into a habit of doing lessons 20-30 minutes per day just four times per week. Our June Bible story was about Joseph (his coat, his brothers, and his life in Egypt). We read some of the Bible story each day and did a few crafts. We spent some time learning about our five senses, colors, shapes, and emotions. She also learned how to make a peanut butter sandwich and a peanut butter waffle. Some days Clarissa would enjoy school so much that she wanted to do more so we would do two or three days worth of lessons in one day and then she wouldn’t want to do school for a few days. The weather was so nice that we would often do school outside.

In July, we started doing more academics, adding letters and numbers to our days. We went to Japan in July so we spent some time watching videos and reading books about Japan. We also learned about the letter J; it’s sound and how to write it. I wanted to spend the month memorizing Jeremiah 29:11 instead of focusing on a Bible story, but Clarissa kept asking for Bible stories anyway so we did both. I knew that one of our next family adventures would be to the aquarium so we started studying sea animals when we returned from Japan. We learned about the letter C and Clarissa practiced writing her first name. She can already count past 10 but we focused on writing just those numbers and counting things or playing board games that require counting dice and spaces.

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By mid July, Tim thought that I was spending way too much time planning our activities. He suggested that I buy some curriculum instead of making my own in order to make the planning of school less stressful. I agreed that although I enjoy planning, I was spending too much time “trying to do it right.” I was also printing so much that we were spending plenty on ink. So I went online and ordered some kindergarten books.

In August, Clarissa learned how to make her bed. Since it was been so hot outside in Korea, her new favorite place to do school was actually on her bed. We spent two weeks reviewing a literature study on Paddington Bear that was excellent. We then went back to studying ocean animals, worked on counting and writing numbers to 20, and learned the sounds and letters P, B, F, and S. We focused on Bible stories about fish; Jonah, Jesus calms the storm, and feeding the 5,000. For her birthday we went to an aquarium in Seoul and she really enjoyed looking at all of the animals and feeding the fish. At the aquarium, Clarissa and Tim got really excited about the kits to grow triops and angel fairy shrimp, so we have a few new pets at our house. We learned about life cycles too.

September was less stressful. The weather was cooler so we read and explored outside again. I also have a reading curriculum, math workbooks, and some unit studies that we both enjoy so I don’t have to do as much prep. We also read a lot of books. When we studied Noah’s Ark we spent a couple of weeks reading about animals. After a walk last weekend, she is all about bugs. I am so thankful for the library these days! Clarissa is also enjoying attending AWANA, a Korean class, and gymnastics one hour each per week to round out our lessons.

What Clarissa has been teaching me about seeds

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I think it’s easy to get frustrated with the people around me. Especially when I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time pouring myself into something for someone else and I don’t see much progress. Whether it’s helping a friend or trying to convince my five year old to eat an actual fruit or vegetable instead of a fruit squeeze and seaweed.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were discussing Clarissa’s behavior. I said that I thought she would obey better when she was saved and actively following Jesus. Tim said, “I thought you said she was saved.” “Well, she says she believes in Jesus but I’m not really sure she understands sin and her need for a Savior.” Cue some interesting conversations with Clarissa that included, “So at gymnastics today one of my friends asked me what I was going to be for Halloween and I told her nothing. We love God.” I stand corrected.

Sometimes getting to church is such a battle on a Sunday morning and Clarissa says she doesn’t want to go. So then we finally get there, late as usual, and I get her all set up with her notebook to draw during worship time. Sometimes during the music time, she will tap me so I can look at her drawings. Sometimes they are polar bears hunting in Antarctica. But this week was different.

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The first time she tapped me wanted me to see the Earth with all of the islands and that Jesus was in the clouds. The second time, she had added hearts and said that all of the islands love Jesus. At the end, she said, “This is me. I love Jesus. Can you please write at the top of the page: I am happy that Jesus exists.” What?! Little Miss “I don’t want to go to church” is having a real moment with God.

So I just wanted to encourage my reader. You never know what God is going to do with the seeds that you plant. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel like what you are saying or doing isn’t going anywhere. But I was reminded this week that it’s not my job to make fruit happen.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

It’s my job to plant the seeds. It’s just my job to be obedient to do the things He tells me. God is going to do what God is going to do with those seeds. So keep plugging along with your kids, neighbors, and co-workers. We may not see the fruit of what we’re doing now. But God does have a plan for it.

The Read-Aloud Family

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I was determined to only read the books that I already own this year (or at least the ones I can get from the library). But when The Read-Aloud Family was on sale for $2.99 on Kindle, I couldn’t resist.

In my elementary school teacher days, my favorite part of the day was read aloud time (and guided reading). Before lunch and at the end of the day, whenever we had time really, I would read aloud to my class. We always started the year with Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Even my more reluctant readers would beg for “another Wayside.” One year my class wrote the next chapter in the Wayside series, wrote a letter to the author, and only read books by the author, Louis Sachar. I have actually been looking forward to introducing Clarissa to the Wayside series since before she was born.

Reading has been a part of our routine from the beginning. Clarissa has always loved books, even if she was mostly eating them at first. We read multiple times per day and she even “reads” to herself. She has recently been adamant about starting kindergarten so that she can “learn to read for real.”

I have heard about Sarah Mackenzie on one of my podcasts, Cultivating the Lovely. I knew that if she was writing a book about reading to your kids, it needed to be on my wishlist.

  • She talks about reading books being the same thing as eating comfort food. “When we’re in a new city we’ve done nothing but meet new people, eat new food, have new experiences. And yet at the end of the day, whether in a hotel room or a tent or even on a plane, we can open up If You Give A Moose a Muffin or Blueberries for Sal or some other book we’ve read a hundred times, and it’s comfort food. It reminds us this is who we are. “
  • She talks about how reading with our kids gives them the opportunity to live vicariously through the storybook characters, giving them a more well-rounded childhood than we could ever accomplish in real life.”
  • “By the time our children leave our homes, we don’t want them to wonder whether their lives matter. We want them to know they do. If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories. “
  • “It is said that a person who reads lives a thousand lives, but a person who never reads leads only one. What better opportunity can we give our children than to live a thousand lives before they leave home?”
  • It is impossible to teach your kids everything they will need for life before they leave your house. You can help them to learn to think and process information by reading to them, even when they can read themselves.
  • ” A good education, then, is not one that results in high test scores, elite college acceptances, or the ability to read Virgil in Latin or War and Peace without Cliffs Notes. A good education teaches us – – and our children – – to love fully and to love well.”
  • If you read aloud to your children, just ten minutes every other day, it will add up to over 30 hours per year!
  • You don’t have to discuss every book you read. “Trust that a book can speak directly to your child, even if you never intervene with a conversation or discussion.” You still want reading to be enjoyable.

Sarah shares ideas for reading journals, conversations, and even reading lists for each age group in this book. Sarah Mackenzie also has a podcast where she regularly talks to authors about kids and books.

Cooking class : Japchae

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When my church decided to start a once per month cooking class, I was so excited. Not only do I get to learn how to cook some traditional Korean dishes, but I get to hang out with my girlfriends in the process.

Our first class was Japchae.

4 oz beef steak cut into strips
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1 egg
seasonal vegetables (we used mushrooms, carrots, onions, bell pepper, and cucumbers for our class)
sweet potato noodles
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Directions:
1. Marinade beef in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and sugar. Store in refrigerator.
2. Scramble egg in a bowl. Fry egg in a pan. Once cooled, cut egg into strips.
3. Chop or julienne vegetables into small strips.


4. Put noodles in boiling water and cover for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick.

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5. Brown meat in skillet on medium.
6. Add vegetables that take longer to cook first (carrots) and stir. Continue adding vegetables until you have added them all.
7. Add the eggs and cooked noodles at the end.
8. Add any additional soy sauce or sesame oil to taste.
9. Sprinkle sesame seeds as a garnish at the end.

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Our next cooking class is September 15 at 10 AM. We will make cucumber kimchi and vegetable pancakes. The cost of the class is $5.

Our favorite Korean Water park

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One of our favorite malls in Korea is Starfield Hanam. It has a little bit of something for each of us. Tim likes that there is an Electromart. I really like Flying Tiger Copenhagen. Toy Kingdom is Clarissa’s favorite toy store. The pet store is amazing and there are several fun places to shop. Tim’s favorite restaurant is Pei Wei and I appreciate that they have an On the Border.

For Clarissa’s birthday last year, we went to Starfield Hanam. She got to pick out a new toy at the toy store. But this year, Tim wanted to take her to the water park in the mall, Aqua Field. It was pretty expensive (112,000 won for the three of us) but we all really enjoyed it. Our Korean friend was able to buy us tickets online at a discount.

I had a receipt on my phone to show the workers at the front desk. They gave us each a ticket with a number. The number corresponded to our shoe locker number. We took off our shoes and then went on to the main locker rooms, where we used the same locker number again. The locker rooms are gender separated. Over age 5, children must go to the correct locker room. There was an option to use the spa as well, but we just chose to use the water park this day.

Your ticket is good for six hours. That lets you use the water park. Your locker key is like your room number in a hotel. You can use your locker key to rent life jackets (5,000 won), lounge chairs (30,000 won), or to buy food. When you leave the water park, you give the worker your locker key and you pay your bill.

The three of us really enjoyed the water park. Many families brought their own life jackets and floaties. We didn’t so we had to rent one for Clarissa (it is required for children under 120 cm). It only cost 5,000 won anyway. There were small kickboards around that anyone could use.

Our favorite activity of the day was the indoor lazy river. We probably spent an hour and a half in there during our trip.

Aqua Field had several smaller pools inside as well as on the roof. None of us love sunscreen so we spent most of our time inside. But there was plenty to do. There were two large water slides for adults. The one I went on was pretty fast. There was also a kid section with small slides, small pools, a miniature lazy river, and a splash pad.

They had snack food for sale like ice cream and churros. But they also had a Johnny Rockets on the roof so you could get hamburgers and french fries if you wanted something more substantial.

The mall is about a 75 minute drive from Camp Humphreys but we still go there every month or two. I think we will try the water park again later in the fall since we enjoyed it so much. We went on a Friday so it wasn’t super crowded. It would probably be packed on the weekend. I would recommend going on a holiday where Americans are off but Koreans are not.

Reading Eggs Review

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Online Reading Eggs Suite

Most days when I am making dinner, I listen to a podcast. Each podcast episode will have a sponsor. I have been hearing about a website called Reading Eggs for months. I was really excited when I had the opportunity to review their website and new workbooks. The new workbooks are grade specific and focus on either reading or math. Specifically, Clarissa and I worked with the 240 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten workbook.

Online Reading Eggs Suite
Clarissa turned five while we were working on this review, so she isn’t very far in her reading skills yet. She can generally recognize the letter names (especially the capital letters), but isn’t super familiar with their sounds. The website has three levels of reading instruction: Reading Eggs Junior (ages 2-4), Reading Eggs (ages 3-9), and Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13). The first time she explored the website she thought that Reading Eggs Junior was way too easy and Reading Eggs was way too hard. It was hard to convince her to try again so we took a break from the Reading Eggs portion for about a week.

During that week, we focused on the workbook lessons. The workbook lessons actually match the website really well. In the workbook, the child completes four pages of one letter. You learn the sound of the letter, decide which words start with that letter sound, finding the letter in a list, and practice writing the letter. It took Clarissa a few days to gain confidence with discriminating the letter sounds. She did enjoy writing the letters. I also really liked that each day, she was able to circle which letter she wrote the best.

Clarissa actually really started to enjoy the workbook the more we did it. Now she is recognizing “at” and “am.” On the day we did “at” she was really excited because the directions said to “draw a cat.” So she wanted to sit on the couch near our cat Mittens so that she could draw her correctly.

As she started to gain confidence with the workbook, we went back to the website. Each website lesson covers the same skill as the workbook. She wasn’t as frustrated with the website this time. She was able to choose the correct words that started with each letter. She also liked the videos that went with each lesson and that the little ant friend would read the words for her to help her figure out the answer.

I really like the way the website is set up in that you have to complete the first lesson before you can go on to the next. This way, children are learning skills in a logical order. Also, there is a parent dashboard on the website so I can see which lessons Clarissa has completed and how well she mastered each lesson. At the end of a unit, the website emails me so I can see her progress.

Another thing to note is that the website also has a math section for children ages 3-9 called Mathseeds. Clarissa loves Mathseeds! Even on days she didn’t want to do Reading Eggs, she asked to do Mathseeds. It is set up in a similar way in that the child has to complete one lesson before moving on to the next one. The dashboard and parent email works the same. She really enjoys the lessons and games. There are also workbooks available for math that you can read about from other reviewers.

I think that both the workbook and the website are beneficial because it is more reinforcement of the same skills. The prices are reasonable too. Workbooks are normally $19.95, but you can use the coupon code WK10IYWAG6J for  10% off before October 15, 2018Also, if you register before October 7, 2018, you can do a four week free trial of the website. The website membership is normally $59 for the year.

Online Reading Eggs Suite {Reading Eggs Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts

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Back when I was the children’s ministry coordinator at my church, I wasn’t thrilled with the curriculum choices for Sunday school. There were some interesting things out there but they were either really expensive or didn’t fit the kids at my church. I’m kind of an all or nothing person so I couldn’t commit to spending the church’s money on something I wasn’t in love with. So I decided to write my own curriculum. As I was teaching each week, people were telling me that I should publish my curriculum. I finally got around to publishing Acts of the Holy Spirit: Using the book of Acts to talk about Spiritual Gifts in the spring and apparently forgot to write about it on my blog…

Before we studied the book of Acts, we spent 14 weeks learning about Jesus. Naturally, after Easter we talked about Pentecost and then moved into the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This curriculum is just a collection of the lessons that we did that summer. The really cool part about this series was that I found a spiritual gifts test for kids in the book Discover Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts. So at the beginning of the summer, the kids took the test. Then we learned about the different spiritual gifts. By the end of the summer, the elementary school kids in my church were using their gifts by teaching and serving in so many cool ways.

Usually, I publish a curriculum version and a family devotion version of each unit. But this one is different because many of the lessons were spent acting out the Bible stories. I felt like it would be harder to do that around a dinner table.

Download Holy Spirit curriculum

How can you be 5 years old already?

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It’s funny because when I was pregnant, nine months felt like forever. But once Clarissa was born, time seemed to speed up. Maybe that is slightly exaggerated. The first two months where she didn’t know the difference between night and day dragged a bit too. But once I was getting five hour stretches of sleep at night and started enjoying my daughter, I could enjoy the moment better. I cannot believe that Clarissa is five years old. It does not seem like it has actually been five YEARS since we met her.

Clarissa has been asking me to teach her to read on and off since she was three. I really wanted her to have fun and play so while we did do some preschool this year, we didn’t do a lot of academics each day. She started to want more in the spring so we officially started kindergarten in June. She still loves me to read to her and will “read” to herself for a while too. She is starting to enjoy tracing/writing letters more. Her favorite is probably math though. She enjoys counting and puzzles. She actually enjoys homeschooling so much that when people ask her about starting kindergarten in the fall she says something like, “I am homeschooled FOREVER. Mommy teaches me at home and I will NEVER go to real school.” She gets really upset if we ask her if she wants to go to school.

Clarissa enjoys going to Sunday school. She has learned a few Bible verses and reminds me to read a Bible story during school each day. She said she wants to try AWANA this year and is very much looking forward to gymnastics starting again in September. Today she told me that she has “been waiting a long time for that!”

I think Clarissa is an introvert. She enjoys being with a small group that she knows. If we go somewhere loud or with a large group of kids she asks to leave very quickly. She is sensitive to loud noise in general. She always hides in her room and closes the door when I vacuum and won’t see movies in the theater anymore because it is too loud.

As usual, Clarissa is very verbal and wants to tell you her opinion about EVERYTHING. She is not very gracious if you have a different opinion so we are working on that. She also has a very vivid imagination so she tells great stories. She has also started saving her screen time for when daddy is home in the evening so that she can watch him play video games or watch a show together.

Clarissa wants a baby sister so badly. Actually she wants two sisters but if one of them a brother, it’s okay. For her birthday, she requested a bunk bed so that she can “share a room with her sister.”

She seems to have really matured lately. She no longer requires the stroller to walk to post or for a day of exploring. Clarissa gave away her My Little Pony toys and wants to play with her baby doll. She is always the mom. She plays dress up often as well and wants to pretend to be her favorite characters on TV. Her current favorite is Eva from Wakfu so she can often be found wearing boots inside the house and carrying around her bow and arrow. She also enjoys playing outside and making crafts. I think she would live at the pool or beach if I let her.

Some of my favorite Clarissa sayings right now:

  • I prefer dogs (poor Mittens. Though they still have many tender moments)
  • It’s not my stuffed animal, it’s my pet
  • Our family is not alone in this car… I see a bug in here!
  • Constructions (instructions)
  • Frusterated (frustrated)
  • Figerate (I need to figure it out)
  • I trickstered you!
  • Interdasting (interesting)
  • Inzausting (exhausting)
  • Great Wall of Korea
  • Throft store (thrift store)
  • I am writing kid letters (when she just scribbles instead of writing English letters)

Summer School Days

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Clarissa has been asking me to teach her to read off and on since before she was potty trained. She constantly asked to start kindergarten this spring so I spent May planning what I wanted our year together to look like.

In June, we officially started kindergarten. I knew that I wanted to start slow so I planned for 20-30 minutes of lessons, four days per week. Some days were like binge days for her and she would do two or three days worth in one sitting because she didn’t want to stop. So my July plans had more to do each day.

Omi sent us a scavenger hunt from a magazine. We decided that we wanted to do it across the street at Nonseong Park. Clarissa and I thought it would be fun to do school outside as well so we packed our school books, some crayons, and a clipboard in my backpack. On the way out the door, Clarissa decided to ride her bike and also bring the kite.

Clarissa rode her bike across the street and then we climbed the hill to fly the kite. As I set my bookbag down, Clarissa already had her kite in the air. This was only her second time flying a kite, but she did extremely well.

When we needed a water break, we headed to the pavilion on the hill to do our Bible time.

Then we did our scavenger hunt. Clarissa had a great time finding the items on the list like a crooked stick, a bug that crawls, something that smells good, and something that feels rough. The only thing we didn’t find was an acorn. But we found a pinecone instead.

We reviewed our five senses to talk about what we did on our scavenger hunt and drew pictures.