Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bathtime Fingerpainting

I found these fingerpaints that start off as a play-doh, turn into a fingerpaint that doubles as a soap, and rinses away clean in the bath. Owen went to a going away party so Cooper and I had all evening to play - it was a perfect time to have fun with our new paint!

Here's Cooper drawing on the wall with his pallet of fingerpaints. (It makes him giggle when I draw kitties on his chalkboard so he, of course, had to have a couple here too). He also gets a lot of chalkboard drawing practice and has just started drawing circles so he did some practicing.  

Then we moved from the wall to drawing on Cooper's arms, legs, belly... and Mommy's face.

Cooper was in the fingerpainting zone but stopped to pose for one more shot with his faltering faux-hawk. 

The showerhead took care of the rainbow-colored soapy residue super quick (thank goodness... I might have been a little worried). Then Cooper was finally ready to get out so I wrapped him up in his alligator towel and he checked himself out in the mirror while we cleaned ears, combed hair, trimmed nails and brushed teeth. 

Bathtime success! Which can always be measured in wrinkly toes...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yeoso World Expo 2012 - The Logistics

We took off this week for a 4-day weekend to head to the World Expo in Yeosu (pronounced yo - sue) from Osan Air Base. We've already had several ask us all about the trip so this post is also a bit of a guide - feel free to ask us any additional questions in the comments below. I'll be posting the fun post with pics and such soon!

Travel: Yeosu is on the southern coast South Korea so we took the train and utilized taxi's while in-town. There was the option of the KTX fast train but we would have had to take a train to the fast train and it only saves 40 minutes so we just took the regular train out of the Pyeongtaek station. Tickets were purchased online at Korail. The train ride was about 4 hours and drops you off right at the entrance to the Expo. 

Lodging: We would have liked to stay at the MLV hotel on the Expo campus, and even considered it but with a price tag of about $260/night before taxes it was just too expensive for 3 nights. The next best options were all about a 15-20 minute cab away but well worth it for 4 and 5 star hotels - in Korea you don't really want to stay in anything less. 

We stayed at The Ocean Hotel & Resort but also strongly considered HiddenBay but we were a tad late on the booking. Reservations can be made online via the Expo site. Our hotel was new, clean and Westernized which were important factors for us. The ocean view is worth the extra $25 - we were on the 14th floor and the view was absolutely stunning. The amenities were something to be left desired but we were in Yeosu for the Expo so that really wasn't an issue. The cost with taxes for 3 nights was $560 USD.

We only had a couple of semi-complaints that might be considered: 
1) They didn't have a playyard/crib for Cooper and they said it was "impossible" to give us one extra blanket for a pallet on the floor - so we had to get creative on his sleeping situation. 

2) Also, the restaurant breakfast buffet is 22,000 each and is mostly comprised of Korean breakfast - kimchi, salad, bulgogi, etc. but they did have a live egg/omelet station, bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit, cereal, and toast so it was just fine and really the best bet for anything close to a Westernized breakfast. And the dinner menu only included about 8 choices as well. 

  • The Ocean Resort talks up their waterpark but it was closed while we were there.  
  • When you arrive The Ocean Hotel is on the left and the resort is on the right - unless you paid and exorbitant amount for the resort's condominiums you'll be on your left at the hotel. 
  • Make sure to have your hotel's address ready to show your taxi cab. The fare is about 13,000 each way. 
Check out my upcoming Yeosu World Expo 2012 post for specifics on places to go and things not to miss. 

  • You can purchase your tickets right at one of the 3 gates. 
  • We found that the most convenient gate/entrance was Gate 3 by the train station.
  • Any of the information desks will provide you an English map and for the most part those working the desks can speak English. 
  • Bathrooms are abundant and for the most part clean which is a bonus!
  • We were able to do almost everything in a 2-day period - note: our days were 12 and 13 hour days - but in 3, during the week, you could do it at a much more leisurely pace.  
  • If you bring your children just note that the attention they will draw can get daunting by the end of your trip. For example at one point Cooper was playing in the water spouts and there were at least 10 people taking his video or picture and another 25 watching him while ooing and awwing at every move... They won't ask permission to touch them (even while sleeping), give them food, eat their food, or take their pic/video so just be prepared. Our best defense the further along in the trip we got was to not make eye contact with those "tracking" us. 
Food/Drink Notes:
  • There are snack, icecream and drink stands throughout the park on almost every corner. The most Westernized snack item you'll find is hotdogs and for Western fast food there is a Lotteria (food similar to McDonalds), a Baskin Robbins, Starbucks, and Dunkin' Donuts. Also, many of the international pavillions have themed restaurants - we had Vietnamese Pho and Italian that were both excellent. There was also German, Chinese, and Uruguay as well as a sleu of Korean choices. 
  • Water is only 1,000 so don't worry with dragging bottles into the park. We did make sure to carry plenty of snacks with us - especially for Cooper. 
Clothing Notes:
  • All of the pavillions and attractions are inside buildings so there is little time spent outside. The most you'll spend in the sun is walking from attraction to attraction. Even the waiting lines (which can sometimes be quite long) are covered and some are misted. Still sunblock, sunglasses/hats, and layers are recommended. 
  • If you stay for the 9 or 10pm Big O finale show (recommended) then you might consider bringing light rain ponchos or an umbrella - it is a water show and depending on the wind you can get quite wet with sea water. 
Exhibit Notes:
  • Aquarium: It's worth an hour wait, maybe, but typically the wait time was 3 hours. If you have a stroller though make sure one of the worker's find you - we were automatically taken to the very front of the line without even waiting a minute. The aquarium was absolutely packed with people touching us on almost all sides, in every exhibit. Take a deep breath before going in! 
  • Robot Pavillion: I don't think there is anyway around a 3 hour wait for this one. We just couldn't do it with a toddler (but we really, really wanted to). If you can't make it there are some great YouTube videos. 
  • International Pavillion: Some of the most popular international pavillions are Germany, China, and Japan - if you can catch these during the week or first thing in the morning you'll minimize your wait time. If there is a wait at the USA pavillion and you are military you can show your ID to move to the front of the line. 
  • Big O show: There is a Big O that creates a fireworks, water and laser finale show at night. On Friday there was only one show but on Saturday there were 2 shows - your best bet is to check with information in the morning for exact show times. Also, people started getting there seats 2 hours ahead of time - 1 hour ahead on Saturday wasn't enough for us so plan accordingly. We had to wait for a taxi after the show for about an hour - so either rush back or take your sweet time. 
  • Lotte: This exhibit typically had a 1-2 hour wait. It was worth an hour wait, especially if you have kids, as it was the only exhibit that actually takes you on a ride. You stand on a moving platform and it simulates a hot air balloon ride through different environments and situations.  
Have fun! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breakfast Picnic and Outdoor Fun

Me and Cooper often have breakfast on the patio but this morning I thought it'd be fun to take our breakfast with us and have a picnic. We headed just around the corner to this little secluded picnic area where I snapped a few iPhone shots. 

We set-up camp with a blanket and a breakfast spread. First, Cooper devoured this banana - his current favorite food.

And then munched on a few other goodies.

Normally by this time it's already starting to get a little warm but today it was gorgeous. So, I let Cooper do whatever he wanted to do. He wanted to play in the leaves (and pinecones, seeds and such). 

Here he is smiling at the birds snacking on our leftover Kix. 

And waving to the pool maintenance man. 

He had so much fun - he kept squealing and flashing this cheeseball smile. 

By this time it was after 10:30 but it was still beautiful out so we found a big open field and played some ball. 

And found more flowers, grass and pinecones to explore...

And it was STILL beautiful so we headed to the playground where he played for another hour before we headed home and he napped for 4 solid hours. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We're Expecting Baby #2!

Our New Year's Eve should be especially special this year - we're expecting baby #2!

We had fun creating our baby #2 announcement using our chalkboard wall - take a look at a few more of the pics including a few silly outtakes below!

And for the knitty-gritty, first trimester details read on here including a peek at the ultrasound and heartbeat video.

Bubbles, a laughing daddy and an upside down baby make for a fun shot! 

We set-up the tripod and put the camera on a timer to get the shot.
The blinking light did a great job of keeping Cooper's attention.
Our blog URL includes a plural 'Peas' and now finally the plural makes sense!
We were really happy with our chalkboard art -
but I have to admit that most of the credit goes to Owen!
Yup! That's a pic of our ultrasound and the day we heard the heartbeat.
You can read up on our Korean ultrasound here
One entire wall in our kitchen is painted in chalkboard paint so we took advantage
of almost all of the real estate to create our baby announcement. 

Playing Catchup With The First Trimester

Now that the cat's out of the bag on baby #2 this post plays catch-up on the first trimester. 

Cravings: Water and fruit. Specifically oranges and orange juice - which I normally don't have an affinity for. 

Aversions: Korean food and smells. Just the thought of it makes me feel sick. And if you live or have ever lived in Korea you know that the smell follows you so it's near impossible to get away from.  

Symptoms: Extreme fatigue from 2 weeks to 8 weeks. At 9 weeks I started having vision issues - I've heard of this but didn't experience any issues with Cooper. I'm blessed to not have morning sickness per say but during this pregnancy I do usually wakeup feeling a little sick to my stomach. The only thing that ever comes of it is periodic, violent dry heaving when I brush my teeth. 

How I feel: In general I feel great - happy to be (literally) growing our family. But there are some differences: in particular having a baby in Korea is extremely different (details below) and knowing that I won't have my mom and sister here (in particular) is very hard. Here, I don't get to choose by OB/GYN and actually I'm not authorized to even see an OB/GYN until I actually deliver, I hate this but we keep reminding ourselves that we made the decision to have a baby in Korea.

Week by Week:

Week 4
On April 20 I suspected I was pregnant but didn’t have a HPT so I used a good excuse to go to the store first thing on Saturday morning. I took the test and there it was: PREGNANT! Now the last time I found out I was pregnant I told Owen right away but always wished I’d waited until a special moment. So, this time I did. We went to Lotte World and I had to hold in the news for hours. I originally wanted to do it in the hot air balloon rides but the wait was too long so instead I waited until we got to the Cinderalla-like castle. I asked Owen and Cooper to pose and then told them right before I snapped the series of 5 shots that capture his emotions perfectly – disbelief, skepticism, wonder, acknowlegdement, excitement.

Week 5
I hate keeping secrets  - I’m crummy at it and being a SAHM right now makes it worse! And, I’m tired, so unbelievably tired.

Week 6
Was scheduled to meet with Mrs. Chon today but my babysitter had to cancel at the last minute. When I was pregnant with Cooper our first appointment was at 4 weeks to confirm the pregnancy, then we had one at 6 weeks to hear the heartbeat and I have no idea when I’ll get my first appointment here so I’ve been fighting back tears all day.

Wed: Mrs. Chon was gracious enough to reschedule the briefing just for me today in her office. I’m very excited to start the process and learn how having a baby here in Korea will go as there are about 5 different stories I’ve heard so far.

So, this is the deal-io. Because I’m NOT a high-risk pregnancy I have to see just the regular flight doctor here until 39 weeks. Then I have to stay in a specific ‘hotel’ called Stork’s Nest at the Army base in Seoul for the last week to alleviate the chance of having the baby at our emergency room. And ultrasounds – yeah, I only get 1 – the entire pregnancy. At this point I had to remind myself to breathe and that we made the choice to have a baby in Korea. 

Week 7
This weekend I went with my good friend Aimee for a girl’s weekend in Seoul. First time to be away from Cooper but we were going to be so busy that I would hardly get a chance to be sad about it. And busy we were – the first day was a 13 hour shopping day. But before the shopping (or even the driving to Seoul) began I had to tell Aimee the big news – such a relief to tell a friend!

That evening I severely aggravated my knee injury – the pain that night was almost unbearable, up there in the top 3 of my life and I actually was worried if the reaction to the pain in my body would be harmful to the baby. I also refused to take pain meds but finally after icepacking I fell asleep at 3am and woke up sore, but fine. So, naturally we did more shopping! Growing a baby and power shopping is exhausting - I could have came home and slept for 3 days straight.

Week 8
By this time the last pregnancy we had gotten 3 ultrasounds and heard the heartbeat so we were ancy. So, I figured out how we could buy an ultrasound off-base. It did take some help of our squadron’s awesome Korean secretary – Jinny to figure out the details of how to get there, what the procedure was, etc. So we decided to go the very next morning to the walk-in Bom OB Clinic only a couple miles outside of the gate. We found out on this trip that Koreans take lunch from 1-2 (note to self) so at 2 we were third in line and didn’t wait longer than 20 minutes.

So, they called us back and we first talked to the Korean doctor in his office for a few minutes about how far along we were, what we were getting done, etc. He spoke a little English and spelled a lot of things that we weren’t understanding which was helpful.

Right next door was a small, dimly lit room (much more comfortable then our stark white, fluorescent rooms) where they had me lay down to do the tummy ultrasound. At this point Cooper starting flipping out – so much so that Owen had to leave the room because he was screaming for me. At this point the ultrasound is on-screen and the doc is saying something but between a screaming baby, an anxious mommy, and very broken English I didn’t know what. What I did understand was the doc circling the area where a baby should be and saying clearly “no baby, no baby, no baby.” So for 15 seconds I wasn’t in a happy place.

Finally he pointed to the other ultrasound mechanism and I understood what he needed to do to see the baby. Phew! After some discreet preparations by the lady nurse we finally got to the see the baby and hear the heartbeat. And the doctor explained what we were seeing mostly by spelling “Here. g-e-s-t-a-t-i-o-n-a-l / s-a-c.” or “Here. “f-e-t-u-s.” Here. Fetus. Is a good thing, much better than “no baby.” 

Here’s a clip of just what we saw and heard.

Next we talked to the doctor a little longer about when to come back and when we could know the gender. Via a traditional ultrasound we’ll be able to know the gender around 16 weeks or July 15. I just did that calculation… perhaps we’ll wait until my birthday on July 23 to find out!

Week 9
This week was a breeze. The exhaustion got a bit better and what I thought was “morning” sickeness all weekend turned out to be what I think was a bad stomach bug. 

Week 10
This is the week we decided to tell everyone our big news! First Owen announced it to his squadron at his promotion party and then we posted to Facebook on Sunday evening. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

a Major Accomplishment

After waiting for 18 months as Major Select today was the day that Owen pinned on Major! We had a promotion ceremony and party at his squadron so for all of our friends and family that couldn't be here this post is for you! 

At 4pm Owen, Cooper and I walked into the room and sat to the left of the presentation podium. The 621 ACS Squadron Commander, Col. Thomas gave a wonderful overview of Owen's career, our family and the Hein's long line of military service. 

Even though Owen and I have been together even before his commissioning hearing all of his accomplishments in such short order was impressive to say the least - he's been a Distinguished Grad, CGO of the year, CGO of the quarter, was a Flight Commander of one of the largest squadron's in the AF, has flown 1200 hours over Afghanistan and so much more. 

A proud moment made even prouder. 

After the oath...

It was time to make it official with the pin on ceremony. I removed the Captain bars from the left shoulder and pinned on the new Major rank. 

Then Cooper pinned on the right shoulder (with a little help from mommy). 

Now it was Major Owen Hein's turn to take the podium and say a few words. Owen said some thank you's all around and then said some beautiful words about our journey together for the last ten years and presented me with a gorgeous vase of flowers. As is customary he also gave a gift to Cooper - a baseball signed my Major Dad - nothing could be better for our little guy. 

Now to everyone's favorite part - food! 

A few of the squadron members made barbecue for the event. And these are serious barbeque-ers - meaning they started the marinade the night before and started smoking the brisket and pork at 5am. We also served all of the fixins': potato salad, baked beans, fruit salad, watermelon, rolls, chips and more. 

And for dessert was a cake I had commissioned from our friend and fellow spouse. The idea was to create a cake that looked like the bust of Owen's service dress - rack and all. It turned out just about perfect and was a huge hit at the party! 

To make the party complete I had a Congrats banner made and displayed several gifts and cards from the family on the table. Owen's gifts from me and Cooper included a new Major Owen R. Hein wood nameplate, new framed photos of the family for his bare desk, and an engraved wooden box for his military 'paraphenelia' (that currently resides in a shoe box). 

More pictures to be posted to the Flickr account soon - in the meantime we wanted to get this posted for everyone that wished they could be with us today.