2017 Year in Review

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I feel like 2017 flew by. It was quite an eventful year for us with plenty of changes, adventures, and blessings.

In January, Tim was TDY in Hawaii for a week. The army paid for his plane ticket, hotel, and gave him per diem for food. Even though Hawaii was not on our original bucket list for while we live in Korea, we decided that Clarissa and I should join him anyway. The two of us had a wonderful vacation while he worked. I was able to catch up with two friends from home who were living there. Clarissa made new friends and either went to the pool or the beach each day of our trip.

After our trip, Clarissa decided that she finally wanted to wear panties and be potty trained. That changed my backpack contents significantly.

In February, Clarissa and I went home for the first time in two years. We got to catch up with family and friends in Virginia. I was also able to attend my favorite women’s conference while we were there. We also went to see Tim’s family in Pennsylvania where we both had our first sledding experience.

In April, we moved from Daegu to Pyeongtaek for Tim’s new job. Our lifestyle is very different in our new city. In Daegu, we never found a church home but Clarissa and I regularly attended PWOC and the library storytime. In Pyeongtaek, we have a church home but we don’t attend PWOC or storytime.

In June, we spent a week exploring Seoul. We decided that we should stick to spring and fall vacations as it was very hot during our vacation so we spent a lot of time indoors enjoying air conditioning.

Clarissa and I attended Vacation Bible School on post in July. It was so different just showing up and being a small group leader than being director of the whole thing. I enjoyed it so much more. Clarissa had fun as well and made a new friend. There was also a preschool program specifically for her that made it less overwhelming than being with all of the big kids.

We also experienced our first monsoon season this summer. It rained a lot most days, which was a blessing since Korea had been in a drought the past three years. Humidity was high as usual, but it didn’t seem horrible as long as the past two summers here.

By summertime, Clarissa and I had established a routine of going to the farmer’s market for produce. In Daegu, we mostly shopped at the commissary. But here, there is a farmer’s market within walking distance twice a week, so we go there often.

This fall, a friend started a playground playgroup at our apartment complex. So we spent a lot of time playing outside with friends. There are four playgrounds in our complex. Clarissa’s favorite has a trampoline. Her second favorite has plenty of sand.

We also started officially homeschooling this year. Clarissa and I are working through the God’s Little Explorers preschool curriculum together and really enjoying it.

In November, we went on vacation to Okinawa. The 85 degree days felt so hot after the 50 degree fall days in Korea. But we still enjoyed our week of exploration. Clarissa even got to play in the water at the beach three times. I got to mark dressing like a geisha girl and exploring a cave off my bucket list.

Holidays were also different for us this year. Clarissa and I completed Truth in the Tinsel as usual. But we had more traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meals with our church family. We took the train into Seoul for some exploring on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Swan boats on Suseong Lake 

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The first time we went to Suseong Lake,  I saw the swan boats and thought they looked pretty cool.  But we were heading to dinner with friends so it wasn’t really an option.  

Clarissa and I met up with some friends at the lake in June so I planned to try them then.  I got Clarissa all excited about the swan boats.  But they weren’t operating on a Friday morning. I figured it was just a weekend thing. 

So when Clarissa and I were invited to Suseong Lake with friends this Monday morning,  I wasn’t thinking about the swan boats.  

We arrived to the lake to see our friends and I saw that the swan boats were out.  I thought that maybe Clarissa and I would have to do them after our friends went home. I didn’t say anything to Clarissa,  but she quickly noticed that they were there and asked to ride them.  

One of our friends wanted to do swan boats as well.  All 5 of us (2 adults and 3 small children)  were able to fit in our swan boat without a problem.  We honestly could have fit another toddler /preschooler if we wanted.  It cost 18,000 won for 30 minutes,  which I think is a reasonable price. I think you pay per boat, regardless of the number of people. They do have life jackets for small children through adults. 

We had a great time around the lake.  The kids each had a turn steering the boat,  which meant we did a lot of circles and stayed on a small section of the lake.  But they had so much fun.  

I did most of the pedaling,  as our friend was too tall.  The four year old could kind of pedal.  Clarissa was a little short and the two year old didn’t try. 

I would definitely recommend the swan boats as a family activity.  We may do it again in the spring once Clarissa grows a few inches.  Next time,  we may hit up the little amusement park as well. 

Car Repair in Daegu

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We bought our car in January, and Tim had his first car accident in Korea about two weeks later. It was a very minor accident involving a taxi. They seem to come out of nowhere often!

Neither our car nor the taxi had major damage, mostly scratched paint. We waited until Tim was off for President’s Day to take it to be fixed.

Several people at work recommended Sanho Garage. If you are coming from Camp Henry, it is on the road right before the turn to Camp Walker gate 4.

We brought the car in about 10:30 that morning. We just parked the car in the back and walked up the stairs to the office. The manager went back downstairs with us and looked at our car. Mr. Chang spoke excellent English. He was very familiar with USAA insurance, but our cost was less than our deductible anyway.

He told us to leave the keys with him and come back for the car after work on Wednesday.

We were very happy with the price and the service. The car looks as good as new. You can’t tell it was in an accident.

They do take credit card.

Korean eye care

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In November,  Tim was on his last pair of contact lenses.  I was almost two years in to wearing my glasses and was starting to get headaches.  We decided that it was time to visit the eye doctor.  Tim asked around at work and most people just said to go to whatever eye place was closest to your house.

Tim wasn’t satisfied with that answer.  So he did some research and found Yaga.  It was definitely not close to our house.  It was on the first floor of one of the Trump Towers in Suseong Lake area (105 Dusan-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu).  You can take the yellow subway line to Hwanggeum.

It was very close to a massive Kyochon chicken restaurant that we wanted to check out.  So after Clarissa’s Saturday afternoon nap attempt (notice I didn’t just say nap),  we headed to Kyochon.  After dinner we walked to the SK Leaderview apartments, turned right and walked around Trump World until we found Yaga (the street side of the apartments, first floor).

We walked in and said that we needed contacts. The woman who worked there took us to a wall of contacts and asked us what we wanted. We explained that we needed an eye test.

She took my glasses and examined them in a machine to determine my current prescription. She then instructed me to sit behind the machine where she measured my eyes. Then she gave me an eye test where I read off letters in English.

She said that my prescription was the same. So I decided to just get contacts. She had several different styles of lenses to choose from and they were all at a relatively cheap prices. Tim explained that we had astigmatism and needed special lenses. He Googled what we wanted a she said that she would order them for us and they would be ready by Wednesday. Tim and I each ordered six months of contacts for 220,000 won (about $175). That is less than half of the cost that we paid stateside.

My glasses finally broke this week. Tim superglued the frame back together but I knew it was time to get new frames. I didn’t want to go all the way to Suseong so I thought I would check out the eye place down the street.

This morning I went to Eye Gentry in Dalseo. It is across the street from A Twosome Place, and a few stores down from LG, Nine Road Pizza, and Pizza Hut near Seobu bus terminal /Sangdongmot train station. The address on my receipt says 232 Guma Ro.

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I seriously should have timed it, but I am pretty sure that I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. I walked in and said that I needed new glasses. The older man walked me to the frames. I explained that I needed a test so he took me to his machine. He determined my current prescription and then proceeded to do the eye test. This one was numbers instead of letters.

He tried explaining some things in Korean, and I actually understood some of it. Then we went to the frames. There were at least 200 to choose from. He was very proud of the selection big round ones (very Korean) that don’t look good on my face. I ended up with a style similar to what I already had.

He then tried to explain that my prescription was very thick but I could get thinner lenses. I used my fingers to indicate that I wanted the thinnest ones. He wrote the price on the prescription paper. 115,000 won ($95) is way cheaper than I would have paid back home.

I went to the cashier to pay and he motioned me instead to sit near a table while they proceeded to make my glasses! A few minutes later, they were ready. I paid and walked home.

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I was really impressed with both eye places. The workers were nice. They speak about as much English as I do Korean, but we were able to communicate well enough. I was surprised that you don’t need a prescription for contacts. They will sell you whatever you need. I also surprised that they could do my glasses on the spot. In Virginia Beach, I always had to come back a week or two later to get my glasses or contact lenses.

I have heard great things about getting Lasik done here for less than $1,000 so we may have to look into that too…

 

Clarissa’s first haircut

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I guess that the title of this blog post is not entirely accurate. Memaw cut Clarissa’s bangs twice before we moved to Korea and I have cut them a few times. Her bangs were getting long again and the varying lengths of the rest of her hair was starting to get on my nerves. So at almost two and a half, I decided she should get her first professional haircut.

Around the time of her birthday, we had a play date at Debec department store. Across from the play area they have a place for kid’s haircuts where the kids get to sit in race cars. I made a mental note that we would come back for Clarissa’s first haircut.

We took the 156 bus to Seomun market and took the sky rail to Daebonggyo. Debec doesn’t open until 10:30 and the kid’s stuff doesn’t open until 11. We arrived about 12:15 and it was really busy. The lady I spoke to didn’t speak any English. But I wrote Clarissa’s name on the list in Hangul and decided to wait. A Korean mom explained that it would be 1:30 – 2 before it would be our turn so we would probably want to eat lunch and come back.

We headed down to the food court at B1 and ended up with Namaste Indian food for lunch. I don’t think we have eaten Indian since we arrived, so it was a fun change of pace. The owner spoke excellent English. Tim had spicy chicken vindaloo, I had a not spicy chicken, and Clarissa had some Nan. We were all very satisfied with our lunch.

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Then we headed back to the eighth floor to wait for Clarissa’s haircut. I had decided that if it wasn’t our turn yet, she would get to play in the play yard.

They were ready for her when we got there. Our stylist was beautiful but didn’t really speak English. So I pointed to Clarissa’s bangs and the back of her hair and we communicated that I just wanted a small amount cut off. I figured, Clarissa will look cute regardless and if it is too short, it will grow back.

She first offered Clarissa some candy.

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When Clarissa started to get antsy, the other stylist turned on cartoons. Clarissa did very well. She flinched every time her hair was sprayed with water. But she let the stylist cut her hair.

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When she got really wiggly, the stylist gave her a handful of candy and continued on. She even tried to curl her hair with a straightener and put some ponytails in it.

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I was very happy with the results. It cost 20,000 won (like $16.50).

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We rewarded Clarissa with some time at the play yard. It costs 4,000 won (about $3.30). I think you can drop off your child while you shop, but I never leave her. She enjoyed her playtime. It gave me an excuse to take more hair pictures, though some are blurry because she was playing.

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She started with four ponytails in her hair. An hour later, she is down to two. But she still looks cute!

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Random November Adventures

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The weather has turned cold in Daegu. But we are still enjoying our adventures.

Clarissa and I continue to go to Story Time at the library on Thursdays. There is usually a craft after the reading. But to celebrate Thanksgiving, we did cookie decorating instead. Clarissa did decide to participate. She tried frosting her cookie but immediately realized that it was “messy” and so tried to wipe the frosting off with her napkin. I took one for the team and ate it while she enjoyed a plain cookie. The other kids had a blast decorating their cookies though. I must confess I forgot to take pictures. I will try again next month when we do it again for Christmas!

This month Tim and I were able to have a date day instead of a date night. Parent’s Day Out was from 9-5 on a Saturday.

We started at the holiday bazaar at the PX parking lot. We were able to custom order Clarissa a Christmas stocking. I am excited to see how that turns out. Tim designed it and I think it will be pretty. There were food samples as well so we tried KyoChon chicken. It was amazing! Better than Chick-fil-a! So we bought a small chicken strips and snacked on our walk to the subway.

We took the train to Jungangno so that we could check the movie times along the way to Hyundai Department Store. We were interested in Hunger Games, Spectre, and Martian. The movie time that worked best with our time restraints was the 2:00 showing of Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2. The movie was playing in 4dx at that time.

A few weeks ago Tim really liked his Malaysian food at PanAsia Express, so we decided to try that for lunch. But when we got there, the menu was completely different. So after walking around B1 of Hyundai, we decided to see which restaurants were on the eighth floor. We used to really like a sushi place up there but it left. We did eat in the same location though, at a place called Gate 9. It was a really cute Thai place. We have been looking for good Thai since we arrived in Daegu. This is the closest we have found to Thai Arroy in Virginia Beach. Tim got a curry and I had my favorite pad see eew but with beef. Both dishes were great! The service was good too.

After lunch, we went to Lotte Young Plaza to see our movie. When we entered the CGV, we had to take a number. When our number was called, we talked to the ticket lady to choose our seats. We actually got decdent seats for opening weekend. We weren’t planning on seeing the movie in 4d, but it was either that or no movie so we decided to try it.

Short story. 4dx isn’t worth it. The seats move at random times and they don’t always make sense. Thankfully, I was wearing contacts because water kept squirting at my face and every time Katniss shot an arrow, a puff of air would go by my ear. It was actually kind of annoying. Also, we didn’t really enjoy the movie. I’m sure the 4d special effects didn’t help. It has probably been four years since I read the books, but I remember several differences. And it was just darker than I remembered also.

We barely missed the train so we got back to base later than we expected, which meant that I had to run in order to pick Clarissa up on time. I actually did very well for myself and got there with three minutes to spare.

We have never left Clarissa that long with someone not related to us, so we didn’t know how she would do. She had a great time. She didn’t nap for them of course, but she did eat lunch. We took her to the PX to get pizza for dinner where we ran in to our neighbor friends. They were actually in charge of the holiday bazaar that day and gave us a coupon for KyoChon.

After our visit to the dentist, we took the train to Hwanggeum so we could have lunch at KyoChon. They were closed apparently. So we found the bus and decided to go back to Banwaldong to get KyoChon at a different location. We knew the coupon wouldn’t work there, but we were in the mood for their chicken. We were not disappointed. The chicken strips and potato wedges were awesome. Clarissa actually ate both and she hasn’t eaten meat in months!

Saturday we took the 651 bus to Dongdaegu express bus terminal. When we go to Japan next month, we are flying out of Busan. There is a bus that will take you from Daegu directly to the airport and we wanted to buy our tickets ahead of time. It costs 10,200 won ($8.82) and only takes about an hour. It was a pretty quick and painless process. We took the 156 bus back to the apartment. It’s nice to have two options that are so close to our apartment.

Sunday we met our friends at imaming,  which is what my other American friends refer to as a jump jump place.  You pay 3,000 won per hour ($2.56) for your child to run around,  play with toys, or jump on the trampoline. Adults have a flat 2,000 won ($1.70) entrance fee. It is about a five minute walk from our apartment.  We have only been twice but Clarissa loves it.

I like watching her play,  talking to adults,  and people watching. Clarissa usually makes friends wherever we go,  so this was no exception.  There were two little girls there that were probably 9 or 10.  They followed Clarissa everywhere.  They carried her up the slide,  caught he at the bottom,  and even pushed her around in the car.  I love that kids don’t care about age,  race,  or language.  They just play!

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Daegu Arboretum

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The weather changed pretty quickly in November. For my birthday, it was sunny and 80. A week later it was in the 50s most of the time. There were snow flurries on Thanksgiving. But that hasn’t stopped us from having some new adventures.

We decided we either wanted to check out the ARC or the arboretum. Tim was more excited about the ARC, so he studied the bus map and realized that one of the 2 busses takes you right to the ARC. Great. But there are about 10 routes on the 2 bus, so you have to take the right one. So we got to the bus stop and he realized the next one would be at least an hour.

New plan. He had also glanced over the way to the Daegu Arboretum. There were a few options of busses and then we would walk two blocks. No problem. We took the rapid 6 bus to to bus 653. Then, we started walking. The leaves had started to change so it was pretty. Chilly. But we were okay with that because it was so beautiful.

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What we thought was the arboretum was actually a sports complex. But we could see road signs to the arboretum so we kept walking. Two miles later, we reached our destination. The walk actually turned exciting because we passed city hall. Why the big deal? Clarissa had been asking us to take her to city hall for about a month. The busses on Tayo had to go to city hall for something and she was determined to go there too. So we passed it and I made a big deal out of the fact that it was city hall. Granted it was a Sunday and I don’t know if we could have gone in anyway. But Clarissa wasn’t impressed.

On our way in to the arboretum, a woman at a food stand gave Clarissa a free cookie. The arboretum was popular as the parking lot was filling up very quickly. The first section had several sculptures using flowers. They had several different animals. But Clarissa’s favorites was a bus that reminded her of Tayo and a sculpture of Larva.

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There was a wooden walking path around the arboretum as well as dirt paths throughout each section. It was wet and a little muddy so we mostly stuck to the wooden path. The leaves were beautiful.

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There was a couple doing a photoshoot of some kind. Engagement pictures maybe? They thought Clarissa was adorable and pointed to her. I thought they were asking if they could take a picture of her so I said yes. They scooped her up and started taking pictures with her!

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I think it will be worth going back in the spring or summer when all of the leaves bloom again.