Posts Tagged ‘family’

Monterey Aquarium and Disneyland!

Posted by Greg on August 10th, 2010 with tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m already 11 days late for a 14 month update, so I’m not even going to try…instead here’s an update on two of our recent adventures: a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and a weekend trip to Disneyland.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Two weekends ago we made a trip to the aquarium in Monterey – we weren’t sure whether Hazel would love it, not pay attention at all, or hate it. Almost immediately she started copying us and others around pointing at the fish and saying ‘whoaaaaaaa, whoaaaaa’ in a reminiscent of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. She had a great time…here are some photos:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium


This past weekend we made a trip with Yenari’s aunt and uncle to LA first (where we ate a bunch of Korean food) and then to our primary destination, Disneyland. This was another one where we weren’t sure whether she’d like it or not…she ended up kind of ambivalent about it, having fun sometimes but being bored others – but she didn’t meltdown and we had fun at least :). Here we are, just arriving at the park:

Arrived at Disneyland

Luckily there are enough tame rides at Disneyland that Hazel was able to join in on the fun. While waiting on the line for the Dumbo ride Hazel pulled out the oooooing and awwwwwing that she learned at the Aquarium as all the Dumbos flew by. One we got on she seemed fairly entertained, continuing her oooooing and awwwing soundtrack. Here she is:

Dumbo the flying elephant

Dumbo the flying elephant

One of her favorite rides was It’s a Small World where you ride on a meandering boat while little dolls from around the world sing “It’s a small world afterall” over and over and over. Hazel was dancing away to the music and having fun – she’s a big dancer these days, she starts bopping up and down, side to side, whenever music comes on – from children’s music to Nirvana or Alice in Chains. She was so comfortable on the ride that she transitioned quickly from dancing having a great time to being totally passed out.

It's a small world

It's a small world

It's a small world

It's a small, sleepy world

We also went Mickey’s House so that we could get a photo of Hazel with Mickey Mouse. On the way there Hazel and Yenari were thrown in jail, but luckily Hazel pulled the bars apart and they were able to escape:

Breaking out of jail

Once in Mickey’s house we ended up on a massive line waiting for the photo…quite deceiving since his house looked tiny. After waiting for at least a half hour or maybe even an hour we made it to Mickey…Hazel was in a good mood, but that changed the second she was standing next to Mickey…when the waterworks began. Apparently stranger anxiety is just as applicable to stranger mice as it is to stranger people. Here she is with Mickey:

Crying with scary Mickey Mouse

Crying with scary Mickey Mouse

After a long weekend driving, in LA, and at Disneyland we headed home. Hazel wasn’t nearly as cooperative as she had been on the way down to LA so we had to use our magic weapon in silencing her cries and wiping away here tears: showing her Pororo videos on YouTube on our phones…repeatedly until we got home. It was a fun trip – thanks to Yenari’s aunt and uncle for sharing the fun with us!

Emo halmoni

Emo harabaji

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Andrew and Andrea’s Wedding

Posted by Greg on June 29th, 2010 with tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Catching up on some things that happened over the past month…starting off with my brother’s wedding! We flew across the country bright and early one Thursday morning to Virginia – early enough that Hazel (who still sleeps on a teenagers schedule) slept almost the whole way…aside from waking up at four something in the morning, this was traveling with a baby at its best.

The whole extended weekend was spent hanging out with my family, meeting Andrea’s family, and spending time with both of their friends. A couple photos of the company we were keeping:




They had their rehearsal dinner at a beautiful organic restaurant where the waiter (in a fake British accent) overwhelmed us with all the details about where the butter was made, how awesome it was, and how it was accompanied by the homemade bread…yup, the butter was accompanied by the bread, not the opposite. The dinner was incredibly tasty, the scenery beautiful, and the company excellent:



It was at this rehearsal dinner where Hazel met Coralie, her best friend of the trip:


On the day of the wedding, the weather did not look like it was going to cooperate…the sky was filled with clouds and it was raining on our way to Weather Lea Farm, the beautiful wedding spot. Somehow, magically, the sky cleared just in time to decide to do the ceremony outdoors instead of the backup indoors spot. We got Hazel all geared up in her princess dress:


Hazel had so much fun seeing everyone that she totally passed out right before the ceremony. We walked down the aisle with other family members to kickoff the ceremony, Hazel passed out on my should for the whole walk. She stayed sleeping as I held her over to Yenari so that I could hand over a ring, kept up the sleeping as Yenari held her back, and continued sleeping as we marched out after the ceremony…totally passed out. Some photos of the ceremony I caught from the front row:



and sleepy Hazel…


After a cocktail hour we head into the barn for the reception, and almost on cue the rain resumed, having cooperated for the whole ceremony and cocktail hour. Hazel bounced around from table to table, stolen away by friends and family…giving us a chance to actually eat our food without rushing and without having to keep an eye on her. Hazel awake and ready to party:


We all joined the crowd on the dance floor and Hazel had an awesome time moving to the music, spinning around, and seeing everyone else having so much fun. After a couple hours of dancing Hazel was worn out again and totally passed out…on the dance floor…Lady Gaga blasting away. We had to tone down the dancing a bit while she was asleep, but we stayed on the dance floor and kept on moving! Here’s the crowd:



The wedding was great – a beautiful ceremony, such great people on all sides, a great Thai dinner, and so much time to spend with family. Hazel was wasn’t always the center of attention – the bride and groom took that honor – but I’d say she ranked quite high on the list. Not only did Hazel have a blast entertaining and being entertained, but she got herself a new Aunt! Welcome to the family Aunt Andrea!

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Korea Trip Part V: Fake Traditional Birthday Party

Posted by Greg on May 3rd, 2010 with tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t worry, this is part five of five…last of the Korea trip posts, and only three weeks after our return!

In Korean culture, a baby’s first birthday is a major event.  Not only do people host parties with their friends to celebrate, but they also mark the occasion with a ceremony called a ‘Dol’, where the baby dresses in traditional Korean clothes and is placed in front of a table full of food, decorations, and series of items for the baby to choose from.  The item that the baby picks up first is supposed to indicate the profession or future of the baby later in life.  When Yenari was a baby she chose a pen and a book – foreshadowing the fact that she would spend a lot of time studying…a fortune that came true!

Even though our area of California has a very high population of Koreans, there aren’t really many places where you can buy Korean traditional clothes, and especially not many where you can buy traditional baby clothes.  So, one of our goals on our trip was to find clothes for Hazel for her upcoming birthday (just one month away!).  Yenari’s grandmother said that she wanted to buy the clothes for Hazel and knew just the place for it – an open market in the middle of Seoul – a wild place filled with thousands of tiny shops, food sellers, and lots of commotion.

We made our way through the market, slowly following Yenari’s grandmother who was weaving in through the tight corridors as only someone could who had walked the market thousands of times.  We eventually made it a set of shops dedicated to baby hanboks.  Here’s a small slice of the wall:

Shopping for Hazel's hanbok for her Dol

We spent a while there with Yenari, her mother, and her grandmother talking to the women behind the counter and seeing what they had to offer. After serious debate on exactly how hot the hot pink of the dress should be, and after holding up many different hanboks to see how they’d look on Hazel we made our choice and followed Yenari’s grandmother out of the maze.

Shopping for Hazel's hanbok for her Dol

On way back home, Yenari’s grandmother and mother were both feeling a bit sad that they wouldn’t actually get to see Hazel wear her fancy new clothes at her Dol, so we suggested that we have an early birthday party for Hazel (2 months early) so that all the family in Korea and Yenari’s friends could be a part of it. Everyone was excited about the idea and we planned the party for the weekend before we were to leave. Yenari’s grandmother started all of the cooking and decorating preparations just about as soon as she got home.

Fast forward a couple days to Saturday and the preparations. Yenari’s father was the boss of the preparations, making a trip to the Korean equivalent of Toys R Us to pick out some stuff for her to choose from at the table. The table itself was his other main job, decorating it with fresh fruit, handmade rice cake, handmade carved dried squid, and about twenty stuffed animals. Here’s a shot of Yenari’s father preparing the table, and following that the squid and rice cakes that Yenari’s grandmother worked so hard on:

being coached by grandfather before her Dol

Dol table

Handmade rice cakes made by Hazel's great grandmother for her Dol

Carved dried squid made by Hazel's great grandmother for her Dol

Up next, the arrival of the guests and the dressing of Hazel in her hanbok:

getting dressed up for her Dol in a Korean traditional hanbok

Once dressed, Hazel had fun with the family before the event got going:

gnawing on stuff with her grandfather

with her great grandmother

playing with grandma, partially dressed up at her Dol

and then it was time to start the festivities – Hazel was put down in front of the table, quickly grew tired of her hat, and then started checking out all the things in front of her:

all ready to go at her Dol

what to pick...

second pick - princess wand

her first pick was a stethoscope – a total setup by Yenari, placed well in front of all of the other items. The stethoscope was followed by a princess wand, which was followed by a gold ring. Yenari’s father tried to have to her pick up money, a sign of wealth, but she immediately threw it on the ground…uh oh. We all had a great time watching it and then took some group photos:

fam photo at her Dol

with Yenari's friends at her Dol

and a not so happy photo of Hazel with her grandparents!

not so happy with grandma and grandpa at her Dol

quickly turning back to happiness seconds later:

with grandma at the Dol

Playing in her fancy dress at the Dol

We were all so happy that we decided to have this fake birthday party and celebrate Hazel’s Dol. While this was the fake one it’ll definitely be much more authentic than the one we’ll do here in a few weeks. A huge thanks to Yenari’s grandmother for both buying the hanbok and for preparing all of the rice cakes and decorations, thanks to Yenari’s parents for for hosting the party and preparing the table, and thanks to everyone who make the trip out to celebrate with us and who got Hazel such nice presents.

We had another three days in Korea, but I’ll spare you all and not go into extreme detail on each and every minute. We visited Yenari’s grandfather’s grave in the countryside, we met Yenari’s father’s extended family (who Yenari hadn’t seen in about 10 years), had some last visits with Yenari’s buddies DoYoung and Eulji, and spent more time with Yenari’s family. It was a great trip and it was so nice to see Hazel get to know Yenari’s family and to have her spoiled with all of the attention. She changed a lot in this trip and started to look a lot more like a kid and a lot less like a baby (looks can be deceiving sometimes though!).

So it was back to reality…a long flight home with an almost immediate hop back on to a plane for all of us to go to Boston (for my work) and Connecticut (to see my family)…but I’ll leave that for another post…


Korea Trip Part II: Catching up with friends

Posted by Greg on April 6th, 2010 with tags: , , , , , ,

Our first week in Korea was mostly spent meeting up with Yenari’s friends from middle school and high school, spending time with family, and eating!

We started off the week on Monday picking up Yenari’s grandfather who was set to leave for Thailand the next day – he lives part-time in Korea, part-time in Thailand, so it was great to see him again (after the wedding the previous day).  We all headed to Yenari’s father’s office and met up with him to go to a nearby sushi restaurant for lunch. He are a couple of us eating the feast:

Sushi lunch with the fam

and Yenari’s father keeping Hazel occupied – but Hazel did the reverse – she kept him so occupied he didn’t really get a chance to eat anything:

Sushi lunch with the fam

Next we headed up to Yenari’s father’s office at the Korean Creative Content Agency, a government agency that promotes Korean culture overseas, with a focus of Korean music, movies, tv, animation, and video games – they do both promotion overseas and give grants to Korean content producers to allow them to finance their efforts. Up in his office, Hazel spent her time pretending that she was the boss:

In Yenari's father's office

His office was great for kids and much more fun that the average office since it was filled with stuffed animals, action figures, and posters from various things he’s worked on. The bottom floor even had a full Pucca Exhibition – here a couple shots from our visit:

At the Pucca exhibition in Yenari's father's office

At the Pucca exhibition in Yenari's father's office

At the Pucca exhibition in Yenari's father's office

It was a great little excursion of spending time with Yenari’s family, eating great food, and seeing a cool exhibit. On the way back to Yenari’s parents apartment we stopped so that both of u could get new glasses, and while waiting Hazel read the paper with her grandmother:

Reading the paper with grandma

The next day was a busy day – we first went to lunch with Jooyoung, one of Yenari’s high school buddies, at an American themed restaurant (though it wasn’t actually so American!). Yenari had a great time catching up with her, but Hazel was a bit cranky so I was busy walking her around the restaurant and getting her to sleep – in all the excitement was forgot to get a picture with Jooyoung. After spending a couple hours with her at the restaurant Jooyoung gave us a ride to Doyoung’s house so we could spend more time with her.

It was a nice day so we went out on a walk with Doyoung and her almost two year old boy Daehyun. As we were walking Doyoung spotted one of her son’s favorite places – a mini amusement park / restaurant aimed at 2-4 year olds called Chiro & Friends (who are cartoon characters in Korea). Hazel was a bit too young to fully enjoy all that they had to offer, but that didn’t stop her from having an awesome time – here are some photos:






The kids weren’t the only ones playing – here are Yenari and Doyoung showing off their architectural work:


We ate some good food there and then paid the extra fees for spending more than the two hours that came with the price of admission. The three hours we spent there were a blast!

The next night we met up with another of Yenari’s high school friends, Sanghee. Sanghee went to school in San Francisco a couple years ago, so I know her too. Here are the girls, catching up at an Italian restaurant in the middle of downtown Ilsan:

Catching up with Sanghee

And…last, on the list for this week was Daehyun’s 2nd birthday on Thursday. We met up with Doyoung and Daehyun for some lunch and then headed back to their place to help prepare the decorations for the party. Hazel had fun with all of the people giving her attention, and Yenari had fun spending more time with Doyoung and seeing Jiyoung, another high school buddy. Somewhere in the midst of decorating Hazel caught on to crawling – not a traditional crawl yet, but she can make her way across a room to where she wants to get, so she’s dangerous now! Here are some photos from the party:

Yenari with highschool buddies Doyoung and Jiyoung

At Daehyun's birthday party

Daehyun's 2nd birthday!

All in all, a great first week in Korea!

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Korea Trip Part I

Posted by Greg on March 29th, 2010 with tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This past Thursday we embarked on an almost three week trip to Korea to visit with Yenari’s family.  We were worrying about the flight since its a long one – around 12 hours plus a few more in airport waiting, customs, waiting for bags, and driving both ways – but Hazel did great on the flight.  She didn’t sleep much, but she was in mostly good spirits.  We lucked out with a seat in the first row of our section so Hazel had her own little bassinet to hang out in:

Overjoyed with the airplane's bassinet

We had to keep a close watch on her since her idea of fun was to attempt leaping out of the bassinet to play with us. Most of the time she spent on our laps while we tried to entertain her while watching movies. Yenari plopped Hazel in front of the TV and put the headset on her to see how she would react and she was transfixed – we’d never seen her act that way in front of the TV. It was a Korean cartoon and Hazel shrieked out in excitement whenever the shark came on the screen.

Transfixed by Pororo (Korean cartoon)

Once we made our way to Seoul and then through immigration, baggage claim, and customs we were greeted by Yenari’s very excited parents. Yenari’s mom was with us in California for the first four weeks of Hazel’s life, but hadn’t seen her since…and Yenari’s father had met her yet. Yenari’s father was a little worried because Hazel is very fearful of strangers (and particularly men), but she only gave him a healthy level of caution and didn’t freak out too much. Here’s their first meeting in the airport:

First meeting of grandpa, reunion with grandma

Since it was about dinner time, we went straight to a restaurant and met up for dinner with Yenari’s brother who was also meeting Hazel for the first time. Yenari’s dad continued his courtship of Hazel – trying to feed her and carry her around the restaurant…this courtship was successful at times and cry-inducing at others, but it was a start. Yenari’s father is a very energetic guy and this energy scared Hazel off for the first day or so, but Yenari gave him some advice to start slow and build up to his full energy level over time as she begins to trust him. Now, after a couple days, Hazel seems to be quite comfortable with him and sits happily on his lap and lets him carry her around. Here’s her father feeding Hazel at that first dinner:

Grandpa feeding

After dinner we headed back to Yenari’s parents house and Yenari’s brother picked up Yenari’s grandmother to meet Hazel. Here she was kind of assaulted by love and affection…something that was a bit overwhelming for Hazel and resulting in a bit of a meltdown. We went to bed soon after and slept well, though Hazel woke up at an early 5am and turned the scenario around for Yenari’s parents by showing them what it feels like to try to play when you’re tired!

A little later in the morning we went with Yenari’s mom to bring Yenari to the salon – Yenari likes getting her hair cut a lot more in Korea than the US because they understand Korean hair better here. Yenari had recently trimmed Hazel’s bangs very unsuccessfully and Yenari’s hair dresser saw it and couldn’t resist giving Hazel a bit more of a trim to straighten things out. Here she is with Yenari’s friend Eulji who joined us at the salon:

with Eulji

While this was happening Yenari was busy being attacked by a ceiling-dwelling-robotic-octopus…or at least that’s what it appeared to be:

Attack of the alien octopus robot

Attack of the alien octopus robot

Later that afternoon we went over to Yenari’s Doyoung house – Doyoung is Yenari’s friend from middle school and high school and she and her husband have an almost 2 year old boy who we were meeting for the first time:

Meeting Doyoung and Daehyun

By this time I was somewhat zonked from the jet lag, but everyone happily chatted while I passed out on the couch. I’m pretty much caught up now, but the first two days were a bit rough.

Yenari’s mom and brother picked us up from Doyoung’s house and we went to pick up her father who had been on a day trip for business to Sunchun. While in Sunchun, Yenari’s father called to a restaurant called to a restaurant to get the famous Gwanyang Bulgogi – he didn’t have enough time to go to the restaurant, so he asked the owner to bring a cooler full of bulgogi (an order for 15 people!) to the bus station. Yenari’s dad didn’t want to cook it at home, so he called a BBQ restaurant where you cook at the table and asked if we could bring our own beef to cook – kind of bizarre, but they were okay with it. The bulgogi was incredible, nothing like the bulgogi we get in Santa Clara, LA, or anywhere else in the US. We also order some beef sashimi – raw beef marinated in pear, garlic, onions, sesame oil, and green onions. Here’s the family:

Bulgogi BBQ

and here’s Hazel passed out – I wasn’t alone is suffering from jet lag:

Passed out at dinner

Eventually we made it through almost all of the food…so the 5 of us ate about 13 servings of the bulgogi plus 2 orders of the beef sashimi. This was definitely some serious eating…the rest of the evening is a blur due to the beef intoxication!

The big event for Sunday was Yenari’s cousin Youngjoon’s wedding. We lucked out in having a family wedding while we were here – it gave us a chance to see lots of extended family without having to drive all of Seoul and the surrounding area to meet people. The wedding was also a new experience for most of us because it was a Korean traditional wedding – something that is very rare – both Yenari and her mother had never been to one in person. Yenari’s grandmother came over before the wedding and played with Hazel – she was in a much better mood this time and had a blast with her great grandmother:

with her great grandmother and a Louis Vuitton bag

The wedding was at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul and was held outdoors. Here are some photos of the ceremony:

Yenari's cousin Youngjoon's traditional wedding

Yenari's cousin Youngjoon's traditional wedding

Yenari's cousin Youngjoon's traditional wedding

Yenari's cousin Youngjoon's traditional wedding

Yenari's cousin Youngjoon's traditional wedding

Yenari's cousin Youngjoon's traditional wedding

Hazel was well behaved during the ceremony and didn’t scream out or anything like that. After the wedding she was mobbed by extended family members who wanted to meet her, hold her, and snap pictures of her. We saw Yenari’s grandfather (who we had seen recently in California) and I met Yenari’s aunt Jihae and her uncle Sungtae – both of whom I hadn’t met – now I’ve met all of Yenari’s mother’s siblings. The reception was very different from that of an American wedding – it was a no nonsense eat your food and get out of there situation – no dancing, music, or anything like that. We enjoyed our meal and then headed home.

We finished off the eating for the day by treating Yenari’s parents, brother, and grandmother to a dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I lost count after a while, but Yenari just counted out at least 7 courses. So, this was definitely a continuation of the massive food quantities we seen at just about every meal. I bet I’ll gain around 10 pounds if this eating style continues. Aside from the food, my favorite thing about this restaurant was that the brick wall was painted with a series of greater that life size paintings of Bruce Lee! No Bruce Lee photo here, but one of Yenari and her mom kissing Hazel instead:

Kisses from mom and grandmother

When we got home to Yenari’s parents house they brought out Hazel’s early first birthday present, a beautiful wooden block house from Soopsori, a Korean company that makes toys entirely out of wood…and entirely out of wood it is – even the screws and screw driver used to assemble the house are made of wood. Everyone was busy playing with the the little animals, appliances, and the house:

Wooden toy house - early b-day present

A great present that we can’t wait to get home with us!

We’ve had a great time so far in Korea and are really looking forward to the rest of our time here. This post is way too long already so I’ll hold off on covering today’s events, but will do my best to keep this up to date….

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