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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Birthday Pictures #4

I'm leaving this one at the top, because if I pre-date it to put it under the first three, some of you might miss it.

Horyon doesn't really like the picture on the left here, but I think she looks pretty.
Horyon made this dress, too.
This is our favorite family pic so far.
I'm looking forward to seeing the photos in their book. There will also be a large photo of Maxine, so people coming to her party know which room to go to.

My friend Jep asked how we managed to get Maxine to cooperate with all the outfit changes, and posing and such, so I thought I'd answer that here:

These photographers are pros. Most of the clothes Maxine is wearing in these pictures belong to them. The only clothes of ours are the ones that Horyon made and the Hanbok. The sets are also theirs, including the furniture, and that funny little baby-column she's leaning on.

We spent a few hours in the studio. There were a few diaper changes involved, as well as some snacks for Maxine. I think that one or two of the pictures I've posted here have had cookies digitally removed from her mouth and/or hands. I've looked closely and can't tell for sure, but I remember the photographer taking pictures of Maxine while she was eating.

The photographer's assistant worked hard, too. I'm sure that her hand has been edited out of some pictures. She displayed a lot of energy, constantly "coo-coo"ing, waving toys in front of Maxine, posing her, holding her, talking to her. And it seemed to work, even though I admit that there were times when I wanted to tell her to put a sock in it.

And keep in mind that the photos you see here were selected from literally hundreds of photos. For one outfit in one location they took something like 40 or 50 pictures. The pictures here have been digitally cleaned up, with crumbs and tear-stains removed. (For some of these pictures Maxine was crying moments before the picture was taken, would you have guessed?) There is a serious amount of work going on here, and as expensive as the whole thing was, I can't even begin to imagine how much it would have cost if we had done it in the States.

Don't ask. Horyon has told me that I am not allowed to divulge how much we spent on these pictures.

So the party is this Saturday. I'm sure I'll be back with party pics sometime after that, and I still have some really great shots that I just have to get out there. Like this one:
Just makes me laugh looking at it. It was easy to get this shot. All I had to do was make the same face at her, and she would make it at me. And that, my friends, is what father/daughter communication is all about.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Birthday Pictures

In Korea, it is very common to have professional pictures taken for a baby's first birthday, along the same lines as what they do for weddings.

Our wedding albums are a sight to behold. The pictures from the wedding itself are so-so, but the day we spent at the photo studio and various locations around town a month and a half before the wedding was not wasted. We look so good that sometimes I'm not sure that it's actually us.

These baby pictures are from the same studio. They have only recently started doing baby pictures, but I think they are doing a fine job. I don't really have any comments on any of the individual pictures, except to say that the first one is my favorite. I live that little pout she has on the far left.

Horyon made this last outfit herself! She finished it on the day we had the pictures taken. Oh yes, this woman was meant for me.

Birthday Pictures part 2

So these pictures will be in a photo book, with the layout you see here. I'm not sure what order the pages are in, because the file names were all originally in Korean with no numbers. On my computer it all came out gibberish.

You might be wondering what "Boutonia" means. "Boutonia" is the name of the photo studio, and "Baby Boutonia" is the new part of their studio. There's no new space, just new baby stuff, including clothes and toys to make your baby look cute. I think that "boutonia" is related to boutonniere, like the flowers that boys wear to prom, but I'm not sure. I might have something to do with derriere. Anyway, I find it only mildly annoying that they put their studio name on every page. I'm hoping that they don't do that in the printed book. It's only mildly annoying because I've seen a few baby photo books here, and most of them have incredibly bizarre English expressions and snippets of songs. I'm guessing that there is some relationship to the cheesey English they put in wedding photo books.

So the book may end up a little cheesey, but it will still be a fine keepsake. A little bulky, though. If we were to do this for every birthday, and if we had one or two more children (or five, like my brother) we would need to buy a small truck just for moving all of our picture books around. And I don't even want to think about how much it would cost.

Anyway, enjoy the photos, and don't feel like you have to make one of them your desktop just to make me happy. Instead, you should make one your desktop because it's cuter than that picture of a kitten struggling to climb a tree that is your desktop now.

Birthday Pictures 3

We just got a few more pictures, and we're expecting a few more. Still, I'm posting these "before" the previous posts (?) so they look like they come in order.

Wow. How confusing was that?

Oh yeah, Horyon made this outfit, too (the blue dress). We bought the hat, but she changed the ribbon, so it's almost like she made it. She didn't make the shoes.

And this cute little Hanbok is one of Horyon's proudest bargains. Horyon's parents paid only $150 for it, can you believe it? It is a very traditional style, very well made, and when you wear it you can actually fly and shoot lazzer beams out your eyes! Too bad she will outgrow it soon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Maxine Observations pt. 2

As I said, Maxine's first birthday is quickly approaching, October 5th.

"Oh no! Not another birthday! I'm getting old!"

Just last night Horyon and I were talking about how much she has changed during this year. She has become more independent, taller, more capable of getting into mischief, and somehow more beautiful. I didn't think it was possible, but somehow she has. Maybe it's the teeth. Anyway, here are some more observations on her recent behavior, together with pictures.

-She has been sleeping clear through the night for a couple of weeks now, since we put her back in her room. I've had to get up about once every two or three nights when she wakes up crying, but putting her back to sleep has mostly been a matter of plugging the pacifier back into her mouth and laying her down if she is sitting up. (I just did this a few minutes ago, inspiring me to tempt fate by writing about how she sleeps through the night. Wish me luck.)

-She is becoming accustomed to being with me again. I know it doesn't look like it in this picture, but it's true! She really likes me! She just looks grumpy because she just woke up here! Anyway, during summer vacation I didn't get much time alone with Maxine. She was either with Horyon's parents, at home with Horyon, or at home with both of us. She didn't stop liking me or anything, but it became hard for me to comfort her, and I was often the last choice of whom she wanted to be with. Now we spend mornings together, and we are becoming buds again.

-She is eating more food than milk. Horyon works hard to make special food for Maxine. She shops for organically grown vegetables and rice, she spends a couple of evenings each week cooking, bagging and freezing meals for her.
Bring on the broccoli, sucka!

Each time she cooks the rice just a little bit less, and the last batch was made with regularly cooked rice, so Maxine has something to chew on. She still tends to eat like a cat, chomp-chomp-gulp, but there is more chewing going on all the time.

-She is very amused when I hold something in my mouth, like one of her toys. Sometimes I play dog, and wrestle things away from her. Hilarious, if you are Maxine.

-She waves when I say "Hello Baby!" or "Bye-bye Baby!" It's the cutest wave, with a funny little flick of the wrist sometimes. And if she is holding something, it becomes part of the wave.
Of course, it's not quite as cute when she gets that Schwarzenegger gleam in her eye and says, "I'll be back."

-She doesn't mind being in the living room by herself, as long as she knows that one of us is nearby. She will sometimes ignore me while she is playing, but never Horyon. Once again, the person with the boobs gets the attention.

-Maxine loves her Granpa Kang. No matter how bad her mood, when he shows up she is all smiles. She has him wrapped around her little finger, and they both seem happy with the arrangement.

-She enjoys getting into the kitchen cabinet under the pull-out counter. We keep some stuff in there that she can play with. A few bowls, some boxes of tea bags, my few treasured boxes of Jello, and some plastic containers. At any given time, most of the items listed above aren't actually in the cabinet, but spread around the floor in the kitchen and living room.

On a final note, I sort of captioned a couple of these baby pictures, and I apologize for that. Captioning baby photos is like keeping a vagrant chained up in your basement: once or twice is OK, but more than that and you are getting into a seriously bad habit.

I'm afraid to post this, so close on the heels of two previous posts. Usually after doing that I slack off. But if I don't post it now, I might forget about it and post after Maxine's birthday, when I will have lots to write about, I'm sure. So it goes up.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Maxine Observations pt. 1

This started as a sort of post-script to the previous entry, but got long enough to deserve it's own spot, and then long enough to deserve two spots, each with pictures. And so, allow me to throw in a few random facts about Maxine as we approach her first birthday:

-She often naps while in the car. Especially after dusk. She typically falls asleep just as we reach the large intersection in front of our home. This can be frustrating if she has been crying up until that point, but it is still a welcome relief.

-She knows that reaching her arms up is asking me to pick her up.

-She laughs lots, giving us an opportunity to verify the tooth count.

-She is taking steps unaided. She still gets very excited about it, especially when one of us tells her that she is doing well. She looks up, smiles, claps for herself, and falls on her butt.


-She is shaping up to be a fine warrior.
Excellent form, Maxine! You will soon be ready to receive your own Bat'leth! [Just for the record, I am the slightest bit embarrassed by spelling the Klingon sword name correctly the first time, with the excuse of currently reading a Star Trek novel only adding to the feeling. All compounded by not spelling "embarrassed" correctly the first time.]

-She has an interesting habit with her pacifier: she reaches up and gives it a little twist, rotating it 180 degrees, so it's upside down. Then back again. Sometimes she will do this for minutes at a time.

-She likes tearing up paper, especially toilet paper. Very entertaining to watch, but you have to be sure that she doesn't eat any of it, because she likes that, too.

-She doesn't like watching t.v., but she loves pushing the buttons. And the buttons on the VCR, the DVD player, the receiver, the remote control, the piece-of-crap dishwasher, cell phones, computer keyboards, anything with buttons. I'm sure that she would enjoy the controls to a nuclear reactor if she could get to them. The dishwasher is a favorite because when she hits the power button, it beeps and lights come on over the other buttons. Then if she presses those buttons, it beeps more, and sometimes makes other noises. Then Mommy and Daddy come along and spoil the fun. I'm searching for where the darn thing is plugged in. It's the most worthless thing in the kitchen, now that Horyon is cooking for Maxine.

-She is very amused when I hold something in my mouth, like one of her toys. Sometimes I play dog, and wrestle things away from her. Hilarious, if you are Maxine.

-She babbles. Not like Horyon, where I know all the words but they don't make sense. Maxine doesn't use any words I recognize (except for an occasional mumble that sounds like "Hamburger" to me).

-She outgrew her first car seat. It was getting pretty uncomfortable for riding around in the car because of the safety belts, but you don't need safety belts to watch some t.v. Thanks again to Nelson and Melanie for giving it to us, and rest assured that it will be passed on to someone who would probably not use a car seat if they didn't get one from us.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


After church last Sunday we were at the local McDonald's when a familiar looking woman came up to me and asked if I remembered her. I am ashamed to admit that I wasn't sure who she was, but I was sure that I knew her. I introduced her to my wife as one of my students from the adult classes at Kyungsung University, and she quickly corrected me. (Sorry!)
She was Happy Girl, from back in my ELS days! I'm sure that a few of my readers will remember Happy Girl, and I know three people who will be pleased to see this picture. She was a perennial ELS student, who had worked her way up from the very basic level, with a Korean teacher, up to level 5 or 6 by the time I left, the level Horyon was at when I met her.

She was not exactly my friend, but she must have been my student half a dozen times during our mutual tenure at ELS. And she is the subject of one of my favorite stories about how we learn language:

We were in class one day talking about something when one student said or did something very rude. I can't remember what he did, but I remember Happy Girl's reaction. She shot him a killer look and said, "What the hell?"

Needless to say, "What the hell" is not found in any of the standard ELS curriculum, at least not while I was there. And I don't teach my students about swearing unless they ask about it. So I asked her where she had learned, "What the hell?"

Those of you who have either been teachers or raised children will not be surprised at the answer: "I learned it from you."

"But I never taught that!"

"But you use it all the time. Did I use it wrong?"

"No. Actually that was perfect. Well done."

The moral of the story is that students may or may not learn what you set out to teach, but they will learn something from you.

Anyway, I was happy to see Happy Girl, and Horyon took our picture with her youngest daughter, who is just under two years old. She wanted to wipe off the ice cream first, but I insisted that it would make a better picture. I was right.

And the three people who will be pleased to see this picture are Mike and Alaryce, who also taught Happy Girl. I believe that she and Alaryce were pretty friendly. The other happy person will be Earl, who now has photographic evidence that I wore his gift to church that Sunday. He was in Canada this summer, saw the t-shirt, and had to get it for me. I owe him big time.

As long as I'm making readers happy, here's one for Jay Gysler, who may have also known Happy Girl:
When he and his wife came to visit us last, Horyon was still pregnant. They gave us our first baby gift: a yoga block. He said that it was the ultimate gift, being safe, versatile, aesthetically pleasing, and enviornmentally friendly. Horyon used it after Maxine was born to rest her foot on while she breastfed. It was the perfect height for that, and we figured that maybe Jay wasn't a complete nutcase.

OK, time for honesty. We still figured he was a nutcase, just not in relation to purchasing this particular gift for Maxine.

Since then I have found that it makes a pretty decent headrest while I am laying on the floor taking care of Maxine. Not as comfy as a real pillow, but quite a bit comfier than those traditional ceramic pillows I've seen in the Korean history museums.

Now allow me to make someone else happy:
The people who make Huggies diapers!

As you can see, Maxine is in pretty urgent need, and can't get the box open fast enough. We order diapers on the internet, and they are delivered to our apartment, usually within a couple of days. No one in this house is obsessive enough (about diapers) to keep track of exactly how many she goes through, but Horyon figures it's probably 12-15 per day. I have no doubt that this number could be decreased. Very often we change Maxine's diapers not because she seems uncomfortable, but because we can't imagine being comfortable with slightly wet underwear.

But here's the thing: these diapers are some kind of technological wonder. I've taken diapers off of Maxine that were heavy enough to have had a cup or two of baby juice in them, and they don't drip at all! At that point the inside feels damp to the touch, but not wet like a washcloth or a sponge. They puff way up, giving her a serious bubble-butt, but she has been known to sleep with her diaper like this. It's almost enough to make me consider...

Never mind.

How about if I leave you with a choice. Our little model was feeling flirty in August, and she really worked the camera during one session. These are two of her best shots:

#1 Facing right

#2 Facing left

Which one do you prefer? #1 or #2?

I know. Shameless fishing for compliment on my baby. I can't help it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Potato Salad Sandwich

Hi there. Just in case you had any misconceptions about our relative sizes, the above picture clearly illustrates that Maxine is, in fact, a fair bit smaller than I. It also illustrates how, in a literal sense, she looks up to me. Horyon will no doubt be upset that it also simultaneously illustrates how our home looks as though a tornado has blown through and how I have no common sense in choosing which pictures to post to Roblog.

So how about if I move on to some better pictures of Maxine? Here she is with the accessories for her hanbok. The hanbok (rhymes with "on broke") is a traditional Korean outfit worn for special occasions nowadays. Later (not in this post, I'm afraid) you will see the whole outfit.
For today, you get just the teaser.

In other Maxine news, she has taken an interest in my CD collection. We have had to move everything back so that she cannot pull it all out onto the floor. Taking things down from shelves and throwing them on the floor is actually one of her favorite pastimes.
In non-Maxine news, I made potato salad this summer. Came out pretty good. It was a mayo/mustard mix sauce, with plenty of hard-boiled eggs in there. Good stuff, right Mark? And so that day when Horyon's father came to drop off Maxine, I gave him a small container of it, enough for two people. I told him to eat it tomorrow, as it still needed time to settle.

The next day Horyon told me that they really liked it. OK, I'm paraphrasing a bit here. What she told me was that they said they had really delicious sandwiches for breakfast that day. Potato Salad Sandwiches for Breakfast. That's right. I do not have some sort of bizarre hearing impairment that causes my brain to imagine unusual combinations of food for breakfast. That day Horyon proved it to me: Yes sir. She did indeed prepare and consume a Potato Salad Sandwich for herself.

It reminded me of the early, early days of our marriage. After returning from our honeymoon, we stayed at her parents home for a few days. Traditionally, I believe that this is done so that...

Hmm. How can I put this without embarrassing my mother?

The newlyweds stay at the wife's parents home overnight so that the parents can be sure that the husband can... fulfill certain marital obligations. It's five and a half years now, so I can't remember how we did in that respect. We slept on the floor, though. That couldn't have helped.

Rushing back to the connection I was trying to make, the first morning we woke up at my in-laws' home, they served me a sandwich for breakfast, because Horyon had told them that I didn't care much for rice in the morning. I can't remember exactly what was in the sandwich, but it was along the same lines as potato salad.

And that was the first thing I thought of when Horyon made a potato salad sandwich.

The second was my Uncle Kurtis. He doesn't eat potato salad sandwiches (to the best of my knowledge), but his favorite post-Thanksgiving food is a dressing sandwich. That would be two pieces of bread between which you place little pieces of spiced, recooked bread. Definitely belongs in the same post as a p.s.s.

So I Google "Potato Salad Sandwich" (in quotes), and get a surprising " about 30,300" hits. Granted, quite a few of them are actually "potato salad" and "sandwich" separated by a comma, and one at the top of the list was reminiscing about growing up in Tokyo, but there are actually non-Asian people out there who do the p.s.s. thing. Go figure.

And go make yourself a nice potato salad sandwich. You can put a slice of your favorite luncheon meat on it if it makes you feel better.



A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.