Location: Seongnam, Korea (South)
We held Danika's 1st birthday party here at the apartments this past weekend. It was an afternoon filled with good eats, great company, and lots of laughs. Danika enjoyed being in the spotlight and definitely didn't mind her 1st taste of SUGAR... pure sugar. Eventually, the cake became a little too much, but she definitely put a dent in it. Danika loves being around people and is very social. She just popped another tooth and now has a whopping total of 2 TEETH! Hey, she's great at chewing with her gums. And you can't beat that gummy smile. Danika pulls her self up on furniture and loves to walk around (with adult assistance). She enjoys getting into everything she's not supposed to and she thinks it's pretty funny when she says "boo!" and you jump. She's a firecracker and knows what she wants. Can't wait to see what this next year brings!
Location: Seongnam, Korea (South)
Well, Kayla just had her 7th birthday. Time sure flies. We've just finished her birthday party with her friends. In our school community, when the kids have a birthday party, it's a HUGE affair. The whole class AND their parents are invited. A hall is rented out. THe dinner is catered. And entertainment is hired. Jeff and I have come to the conclusion that we should start a kids' party planning business. Check out the photos and directions for how to run a birthday party.
Location: Hong Kong, Bangkok, Thailand, Thailand
Well, we're back safe and sound. We hope you all had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
I'll keep this as short as possible, because as they say, a picture is worth a million words.
We started our trip off with a 3 hour flight to Hong Kong, where we were met by Bob McDonald, the family with whom we spent Christmas. The McDonalds were such fantastic hosts and we really had a great time there. We did lots of visiting, relaxing, eating, and hanging out at the beach. I even got to go for a run on the beach. Bob and Dianne have a flat that looks out onto the ocean. On clear days, it's beautiful.
While in Hong Kong, we went shopping at Central and Stanley Market. We spent a half day in Disneyland. We went to the beach for a BBQ and played some beach volleyball on Christmas day, and just in case we did not stuff ourselves enough at the BBQ, we had a delicious Christmas feast.
Next, we were off to Bangkok. Upon entering the city, we noticed that most buildings were quite shabby looking and everything looked very dirty. Once we stepped out of the van and onto the sidewalk in front of our hotel, we realized... it WAS indeed, very dirty. The air pollution was overwhelming and for most of our stay in Bangkok we ended up trying to keep the girls indoors as much as possible. We did check out MBK (West Edmonton Mall is nothing compared to this indoor market). We had lots of fun haggling - this happens to be Jeff's favorite past time. We went on a day tour to the floating market, the elephant village, and a snake farm. It was pretty sketchy. That night, Danika became quite sick and had a high fever, so Jeff ended up bringing her to the hospital. Fortunately, the medical care in Bangkok is VERY good - depending on where you go of course. She was in the hospital 3 more times for tests and follow-up appointments. It turns out she had Roseola - nothing serious, but scary nonetheless. The doctor said Danika was too sick to fly, so we ended up having to change our flights, cancel 3 nights at our resort, and stay 3 extra nights in Bangkok.
Kayla and I went on a tour to Kanchanaburi, 3 hours north of Bangkok. We went to a war memorial cemetary and museum, to the River Kwai Bridge, on a country train, to lunch on a floating restaurant, and finally to a waterfall. We were originally supposed to stay in Kanchanaburi one night to take in more of the waterfalls, but that had to be canceled too. Kanchanaburi was pretty cool.
Jeff went out on New Year's Eve with Kenny and Andrea, two teachers from our staff who happened to arrive at our hotel the day we were supposed to leave originally. They had only intended to find a small restaurant to get supper at, but as luck would have it, they ended up being smuggled into an exclusive New Year's Eve Bash. Two Thai girls exited the party and proceeded to put their wristbands on Jeff, Kenny, and Andrea, pushing them through the gates. Once inside, they realized that a VERY popular band was playing (judging by the mob of fans rushing the musicians for autographs and all the security) and drinks and food were free. Turned out to be a nice night after all.
For Jeffrey's birthday, I bought him a very small piece of cake and put 28 candles on it (just to make him realize how old he really is). I then lit the candles and sang a very rushed happy birthday song... so that I could blow out the large black cloud that was forming, before it set off the fire sprinklers. That was the extent of his birthday celebration. Of course, flying into Krabi and staying at a resort isn't a bad way to spend your birthday.
Our resort was beautiful. We spent a lot of time lazing around and swimming. Yes Lexi, Jeff did actually pull a muscle once while picking up his beer... I kid you not. Krabi is beautiful, but the islands of Thailand are even more so.
We checked out Krabi town and did a little shopping. We went to AoNang Beach for day, where I got a Thai foot massage and Kayla got her hair braided (don't feel sorry for Jeff- he got a Thai massage AND a foot massage while in Bangkok). We went on a PhiPhi Island tour which was incredible.
All in all, our Christmas vacation was very relaxing and we are happy to have ventured to another country.
Location: Seongnam, Korea (South)
Well, it has been much too long since we last wrote an entry. Sorry about that. So much has happened, but I'll keep it short. We've started another school year at S.I.S. Kayla is in Grade 1 and is loving it. She has amazing teachers and fantastic friends. She has also started in a sports academy once a week. Danika started the year off at home with my mom (which we are soooooo thankful for) and is now at the school nursery. We had forgotten how quickly babies grow and develop. Danika is now sitting up and is so close to crawling. She's a real character and truly admires her big sister Kayla. Jeff has just finished the volleyball season and is still working on his masters. I'm even busier than last year and there just aren't enough hours in the day.
The most recent photos I've posted were taken in the last three months. While mom was here, we went to De-eejakdo (an island) with Kris and Mike and some of their friends. It was beautiful and so nice to get out of the city. We also went to Andong City for the annual mask festival. That was pretty cool and there were a ton of things for Kayla to do. Unfortunately, we did not go to the MAIN site, a 45 minute bus ride away. Maybe next year. Halloween this year was celebrated 4 times!!!! Kayla went trick or treating the week before Halloween, once at school, once around the S.I.S teachers' apartments, then once more at a Halloween party hosted by another International School. Needless to say, I was NOT disappointed when Jeff went to the S.I.S teachers' Halloween Party and I was designated babysitter.
This weekend is American Thanksgiving. Thank goodness for holidays. We are very much in need of some R and R.
Location: Incheon, Korea (South)
Saturday was an exhausting, fun-filled day for Kayla and I. Our school organized a trip to Everland - one of Korea's biggest theme parks. It was insanely busy by noon, as the Korean kids did not have school on this particular Saturday. As you might have guessed, it was a 50 minute wait for each ride, so the kids made it on about 5 or 6 rides the entire day. We did check out a bird show and a couple other attractions.
The most entertaining part of the day, for me, was at the end when we watched a group of 6 elderly men argue and bully their way into the "It's a Small World" boat ride. For 15 minutes, they argued that they should not have to wait in the 40 minute line up (behind the 100 or so children under the age of 8 with their parents). The employee had to track down her supervisor. The men were so pleased with themselves when they were finally let in line ahead of everyone else. They were pulling rank (the elderly are highly respected here) over all the little kids. The photo shows them all gleefully getting into their boat for the ride. Definitely an interesting way to end the day.
Location: Seoul, Korea (South)
Danika Soohyun Hritzuk was born on April 23rd at 5:00 pm in Seoul, South Korea. She weighed just over 8lbs and is 50 cm long. She is a healthy and beautiful little girl that is ALWAYS hungry! Tash and Danika are both doing great and they are already home from the hospital. Kayla absolutely loves her new sister and loves to sing to her and rub her cheeks. Thank you for all of the emails that you have sent, we truly appreciate every one that we receive. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Jeff, Tash, Kayla, and Danika
Location: Seoul, Korea (South)
Check out the pictures of the baby shower. All the SIS teachers, one great big family, got together for some great food and excellent company. Jeff and I are so appreciative of what was organized for us and are so pleased that so many others are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new little one.
Location: Hong Kong, Korea (South)
A little while ago on our Spring break in March, Kayla and I decided to go on a Daddy daughter trip to see Disneyland in Hong Kong. I can't explain how much fun we had at Disneyland, it truly is the greatest place on earth. After our day of fun at Disneyland Kayla said, and I quote "That was the best day of my life!" That statement summed up our first day in Hong Kong. We went on every ride at LEAST ONCE and saw every show and performance. Before I go any further, I would like to sincerely thank Bob and Diane McDonald for their hospitality and allowing Kayla and I to stay at their place for five days. Bob and Diane were very generous and gracious with their time and efforts to help Kayla and I figure out the public transportation, showing us some sights of Hong Kong, and treating us to a great holiday.
After our day at Disneyland, the next day brought us to Ocean park. Ocean park is a huge amusement park with a bottom amusement park and then another portion of the amusement park which you have to get to by riding a cable car high up along a cliff face! We had an awesome day at ocean park going on rides, checking out the aquariums, and eating junk food.
Our third day, Kayla and I went out to lantau island to see a HUGE Buddha. It was quite an amazing site and definitely worth the trip out there. Later that night, Bob took me to the night markets where I was able to purchase a few items for our home and a b'day present for Tash. I hope you enjoy the Hong Kong pictures. Again, I would like to thank Bob and Diane for everything they did for us.