Culture Smart

koreaI recently finished a great book called Korea – A Quick Guide to Customs & Etiquette by James Hoare.  This book discusses the ins and outs of life in Korea – both North and South – for the tourist or long term visitor.  Hoare talks about beliefs, customs, and taboos, Koreans at home, travelling, food and drink, business, communicating, and much more. 

It is a very quick read – but a great resource. 

I highly recommend checking to see if your library has it – or if you want your own copy – it is on sale on Amazon right now.

Now if I could only learn to speak some Korean… any ideas?

How Alex is Growing

According to, in the 4th week of the 7th month:
“Your baby’s emotions are becoming more obvious. Over the next few months, she may learn to assess and imitate moods and might show the first stirrings of empathy. For instance, if she hears someone crying, she may start crying too. And even though your baby’s just beginning to learn about her emotions, she’s picking things up from you. Over the many months (and years) to come, your child will likely copy the way she sees you treat people.”

He should also be able to:

  • Sit without support
  • Drag objects toward himself
  •  Lunge forward or start crawling
  • Jabber or combine syllables
  • Starts to experience stranger anxiety
  • Wave goodbye
  • Stand while holding onto something
  • Bang objects together
  • Begin to understand object permanence  

Can you say global warming?

What a morning.

Around 7am, Matt and I woke up to hear some intense wind – which was getting stronger and stronger.  The windows were shaking, and it almost sounded like a train outside.  So, like any tornado junkie would do, I looked out the window – to find a good portion of our fence – MISSING!  7 sections were down, 1 aside our deck, and 6 on the outside of the property.  This sucks.  I had to call the insurance agent this morning and they will be sending an adjuster out tomorrow to assess the damage.  All day the wind is supposed to be close to 90-100km winds – this is not normal.  




You might also notice that there is no snow – it all melted from the torrential rain we’ve been having.  Christmas Eve there was a THUNDER STORM!  Snow, Rain, Wind?  What a change from my post on the 22nd.  I cannot believe anyone would question global warming.

And it is still supposed to snow today.

And the neighbours just called – a large dopey skunk is wandering the back fence line…

Merry Christmas! or Sung Tan Chuk Ha!

Last night we were wondering if Christmas was celebrated in South Korea.  Since there are s a large number of Koreans who are believers of Christian faiths, we figured Christmas probably was, but then we started to wonder about Santa Claus and if Santa would be coming to Alex.  So, according to Wikipedia:

South Korea recognizes Christmas as a national holiday. Christian and non-Christian Koreans engage in some holiday customs such as gift-giving, sending Christmas cards, and setting up decorated trees in their homes; children, especially, appear to have embraced Santa Claus, whom they call Santa Haraboji (Grandfather Santa) in Korean, Local radio stations play holiday music on Christmas Day and a few days before, while television stations are known to air Christmas films and cartoon specials popular in the Western countries. In addition, increasing numbers of stores and buildings are displaying Christmas decorations.

As in the West, Christian churches in Korea hold Christmas pageants and conduct special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Young people especially enjoy the fellowship these observances provide; after the Christmas Eve services, for example, they go caroling to the homes of older church members, where they are usually treated to hot drinks and snacks.


Where is Santa do you ask?  Where on his long long trek is he?  Well for those who do not know, you can find out at Norad Tracks Santa!  It is a really cool website that tracks Santa’s journey across the world.   Be sure to view the videos too.  Great for little ones – and those who just enjoy the fun of the holidays.

Right now he is passing over Daegu, South Korea – Merry Christmas little Alex!  You better be in bed, sleeping like an angel for your foster mother!  We love you and will be coming to get you soon!

Other fun Winter sites can be found on the page I put together for the library – enjoy!

And a final Merry Christmas from Mason!


I can not believe it is the 23rd of December already!  The time is flying by!  I took this week off so that I could hopefully enjoy the holidays.  Today however I was a total Grinch – why do you ask?  Because I ventured to the mall – I know I’m crazy right?  Well, last night we got home rather late from Buffalo – and the drive wasn’t very nice (it has not stopped snowing since Sunday morning and we are still supposed to have 15 more cm by tomorrow – then it is going to warm right up to 7 Celsius – and rain!)  So anyhow, Matt got up early to put out our garbage and recycling, only to find we were out of garbage tags – and he had to go get some.  When he got home, he realized that we once again did not have any heat!  Turns out the furnace vents to the outside were blocked (so much snow!), and the pilot had gone out.   So, I felt sorry for Matt and decided to finish his Christmas shopping.  Shouldn’t have been hard, only 2 gifts to get – but all of the things that I had envisioned were sold out.  Who would have thought it would be so hard to find a game of Operation!  I ended up with Chutes and Ladders ala Dora and Diego.  11 stores and 4 hours later, I finally got home (the mall is only 10 minutes away).  I was kinda grouchy. 

But I want to turn my mood around!  So here is a little Christmas joy from around our house.  I’m a big Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer fan, and our tree is covered with the characters from the movie.  So here are a few, as well as my favourite sparkly decoration – the big lipped fish, and some of my nutcrackers.  You will also see a little Mr & Mrs Claus kissing – that is a set I made in ceramics – about 18 years ago (I am so getting old!).  There is also a pic of Alex that we just love – the tongue sticking out is priceless, and a picture of me from the first day of school.  Sorry – I haven’t figured out how to take a good picture of the tree yet and the ornaments have a lot of glare from the flash (but it is blurry with no flash – I can’t win!).

 2 more sleeps!

P.S. The hockey game was pretty good – 4-3 for the Penguins.  Matt’s dad’s tickets are 7 rows up behind the home net – great seats – and we got to see the winning goal up close, tipped in Crosby!  Just what we went to see… the Sabres fans weren’t too happy though.


Ok – I was wrong – Friday was not Snowmageddon – yesterday and last night was!  It snowed, and snowed, and the snow blew and blew.  We had Matt’s family Christmas just outside of Stratford – about 2km, and by the time we left at 10pm, you could not see any lanes on the road, nor could you see more than 2 car lengths ahead of you!  I was driving, and stayed in the middle of the road for most of the way home – that was the only way I could ensure that I was still on the road.  The roads west of Stratford were closed due to the poor visibility and they still are today.  There are snow squalls off of Lake Huron hitting us right now.   I just hope it is clear enough for us to get out this afternoon.  We are going to Buffalo!  Tonight we are going to the Sabres / Penguins game.  Please note – we are big Habs fans, but tonight we are going to cheer on fellow Canadian, Sydney Crosby.

Here are a few pics of the amount of snow we got last night (well over 15inches)

Out my Laundry Room Door this morning.

Out my Laundry Room Door this morning.

Our Front Door

Our Front Door

Our Back Yard - note remaining height of fence...

Our Back Yard - note remaining height of fence...

99 Things

Nabbed from here.

Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: 
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to – leave in plain font
1. started your own blog
2. slept under the stars 
3. played in a band
4. visited hawaii
5. watched a meteor shower
6. given more than you can afford to charity
7. been to disneyland/world

8. climbed a mountain
held a praying mantis
10. sang a solo

11. bungee jumped
12. visited paris
13. watched a lightning storm at sea
14. taught yourself an art from scratch
15. adopted a child – WELL, ALMOST !
16. had food poisoning
17. walked to the top of the statue of liberty
18. grown your own vegetables
19. seen the mona lisa in france
20. slept on an overnight train
21. had a pillow fight
22. hitch hiked
23. taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. built a snow fort
25. held a lamb
26. gone skinny dipping
27. run a marathon
28. ridden a gondola in venice
29. seen a total eclipse
30. watched a sunrise or sunset
31. hit a home run
32. been on a cruise
33. seen niagara falls in person
34. visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. seen an amish community
36. taught yourself a new language
37. had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. seen the leaning tower of pisa in person
39. gone rock climbing 
40. seen michelangelo’s david in person
41. sung karaoke
42. seen old faithful geyser erupt
43. bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. visited africa
45. walked on a beach by moonlight
46. been transported in an ambulance
47. had your portrait painted
48. gone deep sea fishing
49. seen the sistene chapel in person
50. been to the top of the eiffel tower in paris
51.gone scuba diving or snorkelling
52. kissed in the rain
53. played in the mud
54. gone to a drive-in theatre 
55. been in a movie
56. visited the great wall of china
57. started a business
58. taken a martial arts class
59. visited russia
60. served at a soup kitchen
61. sold girl scout cookies.
62. gone whale watching
63. gotten flowers for no reason
64. donated blood
65. gone sky diving
66. visited a nazi concentration camp
67. bounced a cheque
68. flown in a helicopter
69. saved a favorite childhood toy
70. visited the lincoln memorial
71. eaten caviar
72. pieced a quilt
73. stood in times square
74. toured the everglades
75. been fired from a job
76. seen the changing of the guard in london
77. broken a bone
78. been on a speeding motorcycle
79. seen the grand canyon in person
80. published a book
81. visited the vatican
82. bought a brand new car
83. walked in jerusalem
84. had your picture in the newspaper
85. read the entire bible
86. visited the white house
87. killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. had chickenpox
89. saved someone’s life
90. sat on a jury
91. met someone famous
92. joined a book club
93. lost a loved one
94. had a baby
95. seen the alamo in person.
96. swum in the great salt lake.
97. been involved in a law suit
98. owned a cell phone
99. been stung by a bee


I just signed us up for an amazing Christmas gift… we are now on Children’s Bridge’s Call Back List for a second adoption from South Korea!  Last night Matt and I made the decision to just go for it – we want Alex to have a sibling, and it would be very nice if he or she were Korean as well.  The 2009 and 2010 lists are full – so looks like 2011! 

Crazy isn’t it – the first adoption isn’t even completed yet – and we are planning a second!  Luckily we won’t have to complete PRIDE again…