Friday, January 28, 2011

Moms & Tots

This morning the Deokpo Beach ladies and our babies ventured out for a get-together with a few other moms and young ones. I get together with Sojung and with another ABS wife Sa'a, from Nigeria, fairly often since they both live in our apartment building. But I think we all enjoyed getting out and visiting our new friend Aksana and meeting her daughter, as well as two other women and their sons. Among the moms we had two Koreans, one American, one Nigerian, one Brazilian, and one Uzbeki. (There are even more nationalities represented if you add the dads into the mix!) I love that Sophie is being exposed to so many languages. She won't hear enough to become bilingual, but the exposure to so many different sounds and inflections has got to be good for her future language-learning exploits! The kids ranged in age from four to fifteen months, with four girls and two boys. The adults enjoyed tea and cakes and fruit while the children enjoyed wreaking havoc on the poor hosting baby's toys.

It was interesting to see how much more interactive the older babies were. Anna-Lynn, who is four months old, looked at everyone else with interest and obviously enjoyed the crowd, but is still pretty immobile. Sophie and Amah, at about seven and nine months, were interested in touching other babies, although I'm not sure that Sophie realizes they are people and not toys. The thirteen-month-old and the two fifteen-month-olds recognized each other and the younger babies as competition for toys and attention. I can't wait to see Sophie's social and physical abilities blossom in just the next few months.

Speaking of blossoming, Sophie is becoming a real personality now. She smiles lots and lots and buries her face in my chest shyly. She reaches for me, especially in the bath when she knows that her nighttime nursing session is coming. She looks at me with mild concern if I make a grumpy comment about something. She babbles and squeals all the time.

She's developed a painful habit of pinching at my neck and chin while nursing, and she likes to explore my lips, teeth, and gums with her probing little fingers. She loves feeding herself bits of soft fruits and veggies, especially banana, broccoli, potato, and avocado.

She is clearly interested in crawling and continually swings her legs behind her when sitting, although she hasn't quite figured out what to do next or how to get onto her hands and knees.

I want to crawl!

She giggles uncontrollably when Daddy tickles her.

She had three nights this week where she slept for two good, long stretches overnight and only woke up once, and she will regularly relax enough to fall asleep in the car or stroller. Our little girl is growing up and becoming more of a delight every day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Oyster Oops

We had a wonderful dinner with our friends Matt and Sojung and their daughter Anna-Lynn on Thursday night. The six of us went down into Deokpo Beach to get oysters at a little seaside restaurant there. It was definitely a no-frills kind of place, but it is oyster season now, and the oysters were fresh and delicious. We had an order of raw oysters and one order of oysters steamed in their shells on a hot grill. We ate them with a little hot sauce, some garlic, and lettuce leaves or seaweed to wrap them up. Then we had a little warm, salty rice porridge, which Sophie got to try as well, much to her delight.

Matt, Sojung, and a hapless oyster

We were thrilled that we had gotten a chance to try one of the local restaurants, and we really enjoyed spending time with our neighbors, especially since they have a three-month-old and therefore know exactly what we are going through! The oops part didn't become apparent until Saturday, when Ellen awoke with a case of the infamous "gurgly guts" that plague us every so often here in Korea, usually in conjunction with raw seafood. Ugh. Thank goodness it was a Saturday, and Daddy was here to take Sophie for an epic three-hour long walk/nap in the freezing cold weather. We look forward to more dinners with our friends, but perhaps with less raw seafood.

Swimming with Sophie

Today Keegan and I dragged our sleep-deprived family (don't even ask about the sleep issues we've been having around here) to the Hotel Art to go to the swimming pool. I was a little nervous about getting Sophie and myself all changed and showered and ready for swimming, but I needn't have been. From the moment I entered the locker room, Sophie had a devoted fan club of young Korean girls, and as soon as she and I went into the shower room, a fellow bather snatched Sophie away from me and held her while I rinsed off and put my bathing suit on. Normally I am not a big fan of how grabby and touchy Korean women are with the baby, but I have to admit it was a huge help to have someone hold her while I showered.

The pool is actually quite nice - it's the one that I used to swim at very often before and during my pregnancy. I had never been in the kiddie pools before, but they are very large. There is a very shallow baby pool, about 20 inches deep, and a medium-depth pool for older kids that is probably about three feet. Sophie was a champ and enjoyed splashing around and laughing at me as I swam up to her and kissed her and then swam away. She even put her head under for a brief moment and seemed mostly unfazed, although she did sneeze, and we think she might have gotten a bit of water up her nose. She stayed in quite happily until we noticed that her lips were blue and decided to take her out! I can't believe she would have been that cold and not complained about it, but I think she just loves the water.

At the pool with Daddy - a little foggy so we didn't get many pictures.

Back in the shower room, no shortage of Korean ladies were there to help out with Sophie while I washed my hair and got undressed, and then even asked whether I needed help giving Sophie a bath. In the locker room, a woman entertained Sophie the whole time that I was getting her dressed, which was very kind since I think Sophie would have been a lot more fussy without her help. Then she showed Sophie little games on her iPhone while I dried my hair. I really was impressed with how much help we got. It was a good reminder of some of the nice things about being in Korea, especially since I spend so much time complaining about how pushy Korean women are with the baby.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy 2011

Another new year, another resolution to write in my blog more often. Here I am! Or I should say here we are since I am rarely without Sophie these days. She is sleeping at my breast as I type.

Since I love year-end top ten lists (a trait I apparently don't share with my dear husband), I thought I'd share a couple from Plaskon Family life at this change from 2010 to 2011:

Top Ten Changes in the Plaskon Family in 2010
  • 10. Chili and Pepper are 730 meals worth of kibble more fat and proportionally more lazy.
  • 9. Keegan managed to rope in another avid homebrew enthusiast - you have no idea how happy you've made him, Nathan!
  • 8. Ellen visited Central America for the first time. (This was fun for Keegan, too, if not such a milestone for that world traveler). Thanks for being such a good host in Costa Rica, Solson.
  • 7. Ellen gained and lost more weight than she ever has in one year.
  • 6. Ellen has become an expert on parenting and breastfeeding books (although, strangely, not an expert on parenting or breastfeeding. Hmmm.)
  • 5. Keegan delivered his first ship as project manager. Ok, that was Jan. 3, but most of the sweat happened in 2010!
  • 4. Keegan is now a senior surveyor with ABS.
  • 3. Ellen's father is retired and pretty darn happy about it.
  • 2. Ellen no longer has any single bridesmaids from her wedding party - congrats Jamie, Colin, Ginny, and Nick!
  • 1. We became more than a couple and started a family!! Welcome Sophia Joy.

Top Ten Things to Look Forward to in 2011
  • 10. The ugliness and vitriol bound to characterize the 2012 presidential election is still a year away.
  • 9. A trip home for the whole family in May!
  • 8. Track and Field World championships in Daegu, Korea in August!
  • 7. Buying a jogging stroller and getting back out there!
  • 6. Sophie learning to sleep through the night (please, merciful God!)
  • 5. Celebrating Sophie's first birthday in July.
  • 4. Watching Sophie's first steps and hearing her first words.
  • 3. The end of Keegan's hellacious and time-consuming project at work in October.
  • 2. Welcoming Jamie and Colin's little girl to the world in March.
  • 1. Watching our little girl grow and change and smile and laugh and explore every single day.