Category Archives: Korea

Korean Conclusion-안녕히계세요.

This past week traveled quite quickly and I didn’t get to post all the funness that we enjoyed in regards to Korea.  One activity Tallinn did that was particularly exciting was try out a local Tae Kwon Do class. It would be an understatement to say that Tallinn liked it, he LOVED it.  We are still deciding whether or not we should sign him up for a session.  Addie, on the other hand just wanted to sit and watch and the instructor was so great just letting them come in and join at their own pace.  For the first 15 minutes Tallinn just got to punch and kick the big bags, just near the wall where the Korean and US flags were proudly displayed side-by-side.  They then gathered the kids and did some stretching exercises while counting in Korean. It was perfect for our week and Tallinn quickly picked up the high kicks and “Hi-ya’s”.  (I’ll try to have him demonstrate on video this week.) They finished with a fun game and I had one sweaty and revved up boy afterward who, although a bit intimidated by the other’s better moves and kicks, did an excellent job at his first Tae Kwon Do class! (Perhaps I’m a bit biased as I really no nothing about correct Tae Kwon Do forms.) 

Last night we celebrated our final night in Korea.  As a family we actually eat Korean food quite often, typically eating at some fabulous local Korean restaurants and sometimes cooking up bulgogi at home.  I really love Korean food, even kimchi, and the kids do, too, although kimchi is a bit too spicy for them.  Just a couple months ago when we were planning on doing our Korea week, we had an amazing Korean lunch for Cardiff’s 2nd birthday and dedication…japchae, bulgogi, Korean short ribs, etc. 

So, tonight we scaled back a bit and tried a couple of new items, including a tofu with a chili garlic sauce and even a field greens salad with a Korean-style dressing.  But, we didn’t scale back in our fun, inviting our neighbors to join us and using our special Korean placemats to adorn the table. 

Tonight’s Menu:
Warm Tofu with Chili-Garlic Sauce 

 

I have to say I was a bit surprised that there were only about two bites left of this after the meal was finished.  Our neighbors even enjoyed it and the kids did great with their small portions. Personally, I would eat it again as I loved the way the spices balanced out the somewhat bland flavor of tofu. Check out epicurious.com for the exact recipe. 

Bulgogi

 

Boy do we love bulgogi in our house!  Confession: I completely cheated and purchased the pre-marinated Korean bulgogi from Trader Joe’s. 

Sweet Potatoes with Scallion Butter

 

This was a recipe we did for Japan week and I had all the ingredients (almost) and thought it would be a nice accompaniment to our meal. 

Sticky White Rice 

 

Much to my sadness, I did not have time to make/find a fabulous Korean dessert recipe, but I assure you we have had many delicious pastries in Korea and perhaps the weekly mochi balls I put on my frozen yogurt count? 

Korea, we are forever blessed by your gifts to our family!  We promise to come visit again someday. 

Anyonghi kaseyo! 안녕히계세요. 

*This is the book, Kim of Korea, that we are reading. 

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Hanbok Fashion Show

In Korea, typically children that are waiting for their forever families are placed into a “foster home”.  Unlike foster homes in the US, these foster parents only have one baby at a time and usually babies stay in the same home the entire time they are waiting for their families.  Because there is the option of having an escort bring the children from Korea to the US, many don’t get the opportunity to meet these amazing foster parents who have cared so lovingly for their children.

I feel so thankful and privileged that both times I have been able to meet with my children’s foster mothers and learn from them as they describe my children’s day-to-day activities and special ways to take care of them.  These foster mothers truly have loved my children and it has been so evident in the pictures and albums they have provided along with the sweet Korean hanboks  they have purchased for each child in our family. (Each time they have made sure they had one for each child that was the right size!) I have cried with these loving mothers and painfully watched them say annyeonghi gaseyo to Addie and Cardiff as we brought them into our family forever.

We have many mementos left from our visits and meetings with these foster parents and several pictures of our kids in their traditional Korean costumes-the hanbok.  This past year, my wonderful friend Robin wanted to try out her photography skills with the kids and the pictures turned out beautifully.

By far the cutest little models I ever did see.

Kim of Korea

For Christmas, my thoughtful aunt Priscilla sent the kids one of her favorite childhood books-Kim of Korea.  This book, written shortly after the Korean war, tells the story of a Korean orphan boy, Kim, who is befriended by an American soldier who, not long after meeting him decides he wants to adopt him and bring him back to America.  As the wait  for his soldier “Len” proves longer than expected, Kim decides to go searching for “Ren”.

This sweet story has been the longest book I’ve read to the kids so far and we read it as much as possible, but, I have to confess that it captured my attention so much the first night I read it to them that I continued on by myself for another 100 pages until I was beckoned to come play games with the adults in my family.

My aunt said this story really touched her growing up and she wanted to share it with our kids as we have such a connection to Korea.  As it is quite an old book, she also could only find a library edition for us, but I actually love that!

Yut-Nori

Yut-Nori is a basic Korean board game involving throwing “sticks” to determine the number of spaces you travel.  We didn’t have any popsicle sticks, so we used some die-cut “band-aids”. (It was all we had.)

The kids and I really enjoyed playing this game and even used Korean money we had for our game pieces.  First, after I copied the Yut-Nori game board on poster board, we colored our “sticks” with stripes on one side and polka-dots on the other.

Throwing the sticks to determine how many places to move.

 In the end, Tallinn was our big winner and this is sure to be played again as I’m always up for a challenge and Addie needs to get a win in as well. 

(Today’s fun idea along with directions on how to play the game, came from http://belladia.typepad.com/crafty_crow/2010/03/crafts-around-the-world-korea.html.)

 This week’s verse:

Korea, Land of the Morning Calm

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the beautiful Korean blessings he has given me and more often than not, I am reminded of how thankful I am to their birth country.  These two wonderful “Eastern” children brought into our “Western” home from the other side of the world.  I am so humbled to be given the opportunity to be their mother and today, as we venture from the West (Italy) to  East, I am overcome with gratitude and a happy/heavy heart-happy for my special gifts, heavy for their loss and for Korea’s loss, in a sense.

Twice now I have traveled to this land, welcomed as a foreigner with graciousness and warmth.  The first time we took Tallinn to meet his new sister.  He was 2 1/2 and still pretty blonde and everywhere we went Korean women would touch his hair and offer him candy.  We knew a few words in Korean but hadn’t quite mastered “He has diabetes and can’t have candy”, so instead we just smiled and said “Kamsa Hamnida” and placed it in our pockets.  We couldn’t get over how kind the people were and we honestly loved our visit to Seoul.  (Our hard drive has since been changed and I need a little help getting some pictures back from that visit…hopefully I’ll post them by the end of the week.)

Little did we know that we would be traveling to Korea again just over two years later.  This time, however I traveled alone with a dear friend in the bitter cold of winter.

Korean Marketplace

 

My dear friend, Debbie

 

Tour guides from a local college

View of Seoul from Seoul Tower

 

Meeting Cardiff

 

Homeward Bound

In both visits I have realized why they call Korea the Land of the Morning Calm.  For such a huge city (10 million+) Seoul is actually quite slow in waking up.  Thousands gather on the trains sleepy-eyed, dozing on to each other’s shoulders on the way to work while others quietly walk the streets.  It’s amazing how quiet it can be even at 8 or 9am and also amazing how appropriately named it is as.  Having traveled to many lands before I’ve never seen one so calm as the sun arises.
 
So we here are in this quiet-waking land, happy to be here as it holds for us a piece of home