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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.

Baby outgrew his crib fast. He prefers to sleep between us. His mobility was a problem and the solution was to turn our bed into a big crib. The headboard became a foot board and the whole bed got shoved into a corner. The crib is now a play zone to practice standing. There is only one point of access which is blocked by a big pillow.

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After a fall, our bed turned into a big crib.

Accessing our safe deposit box is totally automated. I walk up to a digital touch screen and key my way in. Not like the old school Bank of America branch in Westwood where I have to wait for a teller to sign me in and sort through a large ring of keys to help me open my safe deposit box. While I miss the chit-chat with a person, I appreciate the efficiency here…not to mention that my Korean conversation still needs improvement.

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My safe deposit box lights up for me upon entry into the room.

Since I managed to misplace my pacifier canisters it was time to replace them. They had the strangest names for chocolate: Nude Balls and TP (short for toilet paper in English). FYI: avoid the TP because they are fruit flavored peanut M&Ms~an icky combination. At least the canisters serve a purpose for baby and the stickers are easily removed.

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There are red onions at the market nowadays. They are sold but once a year. Just like the peapods that have shown up lately.

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Red onions make for a great salad with cucumbers and tomato (all in season right now) ~ use olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for seasoning.

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This weekend I worked on my in-law’s pear patch just outside of Seoul. Retired from diplomacy and academics, they now grow Asian pears for fun and fitness. The pear patch is on the side of a hill, requiring lots of climbing.

By the end of April the flowers have turned into tiny fruit. I joined them in cutting back the excess and selecting the best to mature. The female fruit is preferred and can be differentiated by looking at the bottom, where the flower had been, for smoothness. The male fruit has a protruding bottom and should be snipped. Only one female fruit should remain per cluster for optimal growth and flavor.

While I might make my own kimchee 김치, I’d be hard pressed to make all manner of side dishes 반찬. There are an endless number of variations, each with specific ingredients and special preparations. The gyopo solution is to go to the local marketplace 시장 and buy just enough for the week.

Three trays for 5,000W (aprrox. $5 USD) ~ a bargain in terms of time and taste.

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