My eldest son is now a first grade student at the local Korean elementary school.

wp-1467650097368.jpgThe school day starts at 9am and ends at 12:40pm most days (Tuesdays and Thursdays end at 1:40pm). Preschool was better because there was a shuttle bus to and from, longer school days (home at 3pm or 5pm), and no homework.

The school year begins in March. Everything about the Korean education system is new to me. I was entirely educated from kindergarten to post-graduate studies in America. I am confused by school bulletins, academic calendar, school supplies, homework assignments, school song, class chant, extra-curricular activities.

Nothing makes sense to me. There are drinking fountains but he is told not to drink the water. Seoul has some of the cleanest metropolitan tap water in the world. We have tried four different water bottles in four short months of school. Too small, too big, leaky, insulated.

I may need a tutor…or a summer vacation.

Seoul is mighty cold in the winter. Nearly everyone here has a smart phone. But not everyone knows the cheapest, easiest way to keep your gloves on while using the phone…










I have an expensive stylus I would rather not drop/lose on the street. Ta-da: the sausage-cheese-fishcake works like a “finger”. Somehow it has the right electrostatic to function well, though not perfectly, on my phone for spare change (less than 500W or $0.50USD). I have these yellow sausages stashed in all my coat pockets, handbags and stroller. If one gets lost, or eaten by a hungry toddler, no worries. Try it yourself, it works! (Kitchen tip: use one to navigate while cooking using a recipe app, no more food smudges.)

Apologies for the lengthy absence of posting.

I can’t say that my posts will return with any frequency, but when I do blog, it will be noteworthy.

Korea has a very low birth rate and the government is eager to encourage population growth. As result, there are various monetary incentives to promote larger families. For example, since the birth of our second child we have been receiving 100,000W (approx. $100 USD) per month (child must be a Korean national~our son has dual citizenship).

There is daycare dough for multicultural families (one parent is a Korean national, other parent is a foreigner who resided overseas for over 15 years) for each preschool age child at 300,000W (approx. $300 USD) per month. The reimbursements (money is directly deposited into parental bank account) began in 2011 and registration must be completed at your local Resident Center (주민센터), ask about 다문화가족유아이 (da moon hwa ga jok yoo ai/multicultural family baby). Once you are registered, the monthly 100 is replaced by 300, but it’s basically free daycare versus grocery money.


Now we get daycare dough for the first-born and the baby starts this spring!

My toddler begs to go out everyday. It’s been difficult lately because we had to change nannies again. We finally made it outside this afternoon and discovered ice at the bottom of his favorite slide. Needless to say, the playground was a ghost town. Still, he refused to wear his hat or gloves and spent all his time playing with ice cold sand.

Tomorrow is November 11th which means Peppero Day in Korea. I’ll be buying a giant box because they are only available this time of year.

It’s also the start of the G20 meetings in Seoul.

FYI: plan on not going to or near COEX because the security is extreme.

There is a clock on the refrigerator that tells baby time. First-time guests think it’s a toy teach-me-clock but it actually serves many purposes. With a newborn set the clock to the time of the last feeding ~ better to gauge the next feeding or why she is crying. With a toddler set the clock to the time of yesterday’s nap ~ know when to start winding down for naptime. Magnets mark when there was poop ~ helps plan outings. It’s easier to read than a note that will get lost in the daily shuffle.

Baby clock indicates that our toddler napped at 11:30am with poops after breakfast and lunch yesterday.

Try using magnets of different colors or shapes for each child. Maybe even one to indicate when they got medicine…it is cold season.

Now it’s not like I have a lot of time on my hands, but making yogurt at home is not as hard as it sounds. All you need is a food thermometer, milk, a single serving of yogurt and someplace to keep milk warm and clean for 6 – 12 hours. The dusty old rice cooker is perfect for the job, especially since crock pots/large ovens/bread machines are not commonplace in Korea. I like controlling the sugar content since it’s impossible to find unsweetened yogurt at the market.

Homemade Yogurt

1000 mL milk

100 g plain yogurt

optional: sugar, jam, vanilla, honey, and so on.

Take the milk to 118*F in the rice cooker (unplug) and then thoroughly stir in yogurt. Check the temperature every few hours (do not stir!), the ideal temperature for yogurt is 100*F (plug it in for a few minutes if needed). Anywhere from 6 – 12 hours later the milk will transform into yogurt, even if completely unattended. The longer it sits at 100*F the thicker and tangier it will taste. Transfer into container for the fridge, add your optional flavoring. Let cool the yogurt cool overnight before eating. It will keep for about a week.

On Sundays I’ve been hearing horse hooves and neighing outside my window. Strange but true, there was a horse drawn carriage trotting through my neighborhood.

It turns out that the local church provides rides for its members.

It’s difficult to find a savory snack on the supermarket shelf. Most crackers and chips are sugary sweet.

When scanning the shelf for a snack with my toddler, we found “고래밥/gorae bap/Whale Food.” While still slightly sweet, it’s actually a salty snack.

Hooray for a savory snack option!