Sunday, May 30, 2010

사랑 해요!

We got some exciting news this weekend from Emily and SangKwun... they're officially ENGAGED!!!! SangKwun popped the question last Sunday in China.

He filled the room with balloons, rose petals, and made a heart out of tea lights. Then Emily watched a video of SangKwun telling her how he feels about her... then he entered the room with the ring. Afterwards, they went to a 5 star hotel where she got a massage and spa package. Sounds pretty nice, right?

They're saying there'll be 2 weddings -- a Korean one and a Chinese one -- but they want to get married while we're still here. So the weddings'll probably be in September. According to Emily, Birth Father wants to rent a house outside Seoul for the wedding. He wants everyone to spend the night following the wedding and to return to Seoul the next day.

Not really sure if we'll be able to attend the Chinese wedding. But either way this should definitely be an interesting experience! Can't wait!

Hair Accessories and Adoptees

We're back in Korea and have been spending time with my birth family since we stepped off the plane. SangKwun, Emily, and Birth Father met us at the airport and took us to dinner. Then, Birth Father left very early the next morning for China. Emily and SangKwun have been hanging around, and just left for China earlier today.

Our first day back in Korea, we went to Namdaemun wholesale market with Emily and SangKwun to look at baby clothes and hair accessories for Dino Bebe (their new children's clothing line). I had never been to Namdaemun and was SHOCKED at the number of children's and babies clothes there were. There were literally floors and floors of clothes. This is only one aisle, but I think it gives some perspective on how many places there were. And you'll probably notice that it was PACKED for a Thursday afternoon!


The shops were pretty much all set up like this:

a href="" title="IMG_0137 by markim916, on Flickr">IMG_0137


But in addition to the clothes hanging up, there are often clothes all over the front of the displays all over the place like this where people are just rifling around:


After the baby section, we went to the accessories area and looked at endless barrettes, headbands, and ponytail holders. Emily and SangKwun ordered quite a few things for their stores -- it was interesting because it looked like everything was handmade by the person running the shop.

Anyway, next is a photo of every woman's dream -- a wall of SCRUNCHI'S!!!! Obviously there's still a huge market here in Asia. :) And no, Emily and SangKwun didn't purchase any of those for their stores.


To be honest, I find the whole thing very exhausting and overwhelming. I don't know how anybody can find anything, let alone make a decision of what to buy in these place. But Emily is a pro and seems to be able to spot things quickly. I guess that's why she's making the big bucks. ;)

Later that night, we met Mica and her boyfriend for coffee and dinner. She is actually also a Korean adoptee who I met through my (and her) blog. It just worked out that she and her boyfriend were going to be in Seoul at the same time as us. It was especially cool to meet her since she reunited with her birth mother on this trip. I haven't really gotten too involved in the adoptee community, so being able to discuss meeting birth parents with someone who truly understood was a cool experience. She blogs about the search and the reunion here, and it's definitely well worth the read.

Here's the group...


Our first day back was definitely eventful and there are even more stories to tell from this past weekend. In the meantime, have a wonderful Memorial Day!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thoughts from Home

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home
and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Today will be our last day in the US for awhile, and for me, it's tougher to leave this time than last. My time here has been pretty much perfect... I held and hugged my friends' babies, celebrated a friend of over 20 years' wedding, reluctantly celebrated my 29th birthday, had many truly enjoyable meals with parents, and spent a ridiculous amount of time snuggling with our dog. I really couldn't have asked for more. And I can't believe the time went as quickly as it did.

I won't go so far as to say I'm regretting our decision to return to Korea, but I've found myself needing to remind myself quite a few times just why we're leaving again. I know once I get back into bustling Seoul and spend some time with my birth family, our decision will be instantly validated... it's just a little tough to remember those reasons right now.

But really, as much as I feel apprehensive about returning to Seoul and sad to leave St. Louis behind, I think my biggest issue is not knowing what lies ahead. I had kind of forgotten how comfortable I am with the city and the people most important to me. I've always had a hard time with change and I have a strong feeling that this stay in Seoul is going to be different from our first time around.

Aside from switching roles from teacher to student, I think the general focus of this trip will shift a little. The first time I was kind of experiencing the culture as a true foreigner... teaching at a hagwon, speaking tons of English, and hanging out in western bars and restaurants. This time I hope to meet and get to know more Koreans (most importantly my birth family). Of course, learning the language will be pivotal in this.

So here's to the next phase of our lives. Hopefully it is as (if not more) rewarding than our first Korean stay. I'd like to end with a little quote I read to myself when I start getting nervous about what the future holds and if I'm up for it.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Korean Level Test

Well... tonight we got a call from Sogang for our Korean proficiency test. Let's just say that when she asked me what I like to do on the weekends, she had a good laugh when I told her that I like to eat my parents... pretty sure we'll both definitely be in the Level 1 beginner class...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Korean Language progress

Found this video that some students at Sogang University made showing their progress from not speaking any Korean to the end of the summer. Pretty impressive, really. Here's hoping Sogang can work its magic on us too!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

What a strange Mother's Day to have not one, not two, but THREE Moms to think of! I feel so blessed to have all three of these women in my life.

My Mom... last year I gave her a magnet from Curly Girl and it says it so well:
"you know" she said, "Even if she weren't My mom, I would go out of my way to be friends with her."
My mom is so supportive, caring, generous, and a fabulous listener. And I'm amazed at how selfless she's been -- and even truly excited -- when she learned that my birth mother would be entering my life. Thank you for all you do, and mostly just for being YOU. I love you, Mom!


Secondly, my Mom by marriage. You always hear those stories about the crazy mother-in-laws from hell... Well, not to brag or anything (well, okay, I am), but I am willing to place money on the fact that I have the best Mom-In-Law of anyone I know. :) She has welcomed me into her family with open arms. We've had a blast shopping, drinking wine, and generally hanging out. I feel so blessed to have her in my life. I love you!


Last, is the Mom I just met. Long ago, she made probably one of the biggest sacrifices she's ever had to make when she sent me overseas to be adopted. I can't even imagine how difficult that had to be, and for that, I will be forever grateful. While I don't really feel that I know her very well and our communication is basically non-existent, I look forward to watching our relationship grow.


Happy Mother's Day to all my Moms!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Child of the Universe

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
--- Max Ehrmann; Desiderata ---

What a great quote... I love how the universe has unfolded so far... can't wait to see what's next!