Dinosaur Gosangol (고산골) Apsen Park, Daegu

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A few weeks ago, while we were heading to Suseong Lake (from the direction of Camp Walker) we passed by a sign for a dinosaur kids park at the edge of Apsen Park.  We decided to check it out and put “aspen park” into our Waze app so that it would get us to the general area.  The above photo is taken looking away from our parking area and towards the road/direction we came from.  I believe the far building on the left is a Spa place.
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Looking towards the park hedge trail from parking lot.
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The path is so relaxed and stroller friendly–there was even classic music playing on the lamp post speakers.
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Just below the trail was a little kids area near the parking lot.  This view is from looking to the left of the trail.  Take the trail left to get to the Dinosaur Park.  It was less than a mile away.
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 The sign was talking about fossilized dino tracks below in the creek bed.
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There were lots of elementary school group children out on field trip on this particular day.
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This was my favorite part!  The kids get to use old brushes to pretend to uncover dino bones.  Ava loved it.
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We walked out of the entrance, past several street restaurants and ended up eating at a fun cafe called Cafe San.  They did not speak any English but we pointed to a couple things on the menu (no pictures), and ended up with a surprise.  Haha, so it wasn’t what we thought it would be but we made the best of it.
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It’s best to take a picture of the menu and use your Google Translator app to decipher it.
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We ordered two “sets” which are combo meals, but in this case, instead of it coming with a drink (water is always free of course and you often help yourself to a water dispenser machine in Korean restaurants) it came with two Americano coffees.  We were unaware it came with the coffees and had already paid and left the building when a server came running out with the coffees on a tray.  It was a chilly day though so I didn’t mind the extra warmth from a hot drink.
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We thought we had ordered meat dishes but we got soup instead.  I didn’t take a picture of the clear broth soup with delicious dried seaweed on top, but I managed to get a shot of this solid bean soup with noodles.  My advice?  Maybe try to avoid the bean soup…noodles were good though! 😉

 

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Turning 28 in Korea

Well I am now two years away from turning 30. Ha-ha  I spent my 28th birthday at the Chinhae Naval Base and got to tour around a little bit of the town.  The drive down there from Daegu was so relaxed.  I loved seeing all the green mountains and feeling like I was getting deeper into the countryside of Korea.  The weather was perfect, a warm fall day, and I got to enjoy it with my little family and my brother and sister, who came to visit us for a couple weeks.
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My favorite part of the day was the birthday-breakfast my sister treated me to at Bob’s Delight (probably my favorite baker and coffee place, although a little pricey).  We had a fantastic ham and cheese bread, ice coffee, and some ooey-gooey delicious “honey bread.”  I’d probably call it more of a warm, cream cheese danish.
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Driving to Chinhae!
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Great view at the top of the Jinhae Museum of Changwon City.
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I also enjoyed some shopping at Etude House.  I had been wanting to go here since before we moved– I had heard other bloggers rave about their beauty products!
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A delicious ham and cheese panini with a shot of espresso from Caffe Pascucci for breakfast the next morning. ❤
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There was a beautiful Eco-park nearby that we toured later after breakfast.
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Below is the fabulous, dark forest cherry cake that my sister and brother surprised me with!
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It was sad to have to say goodbye, especially since we haven’t lived in the continental U.S. for over two years now, so visits from family are not as easy as they used to be for holidays and special events.  I am very thankful they were able to visit us in Korea and spend some time with their niece.  ❤
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Life Lately | My Ramblings

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(A view of Daegu)
I’m sitting here in my mostly empty home (save for a couch, bed, kitchen table…the basics from the military base’s loaner furniture dept.) trying to think of what to write about.  I did just move to a foreign country, and although I have been here for about a month I still wouldn’t say I have seen much of Korea yet, since most of our time here has been spent getting the essential things taken care of like attending Spouse Orientation for myself, finding the home we are now renting, completing my Korean driver’s testing and obtaining my license…etc.  I still do not feel fully settled of course, because we do not have our household goods yet.  They arrived in Busan a couple days ago but it can take a week to two weeks to clear inspection and be finally delivered.  I cannot wait.  Well, I have to wait, but you know…  Does it sound awful that I really miss our TV?  I miss the Disney Channel in particular, ha I’m not kidding!  I loved watching a couple Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes every morning after breakfast with Ava and just slowing waking up together.  It takes a lot of creativity to come up with a good schedule and ways to entertain a toddler when your home is empty!  I make sure to take her outside at least once (usually multiple) times a day to help her get some energy out, and give us both some fresh air.  I’ve met a couple of the military spouses and their children while out on some of our walks and have enjoyed chatting with them and getting more info. on things to do in the area.  Once I get more used to it, the transportation here is going to be a lot of fun to use–and very convenient!  There is a bus stop just outside our apartment complex and within a short walk, a subway as well.  I’m looking forward to hiking the mountains in the fall, experiencing Christmas here in the winter, trying more of the local foods…  The locals here in Daegu have all been very kind, and there is a particular security guard that just loves to wave at my 21 month old girl and offer us both Korean treats whenever we visit.  She makes his day.  Children have no idea how deeply they might touch the heart of someone, with a simple smile, wave, or hug.  It’s very special.  I love being her Mommy and being rewarded by those little gestures too–it always makes everything worth it.  She has really done the best she can to adjust to all the big changes we have had to put her through for this move, and she will simply have to adjust again when we move in another year or two.  That’s just the life of a military family!  It’s exhausting, stressful, chaotic, and yet exciting, adventurous and incredibly rewarding.
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Adventures in Korea | Playtime Kids Club + Lotte Dept. Store

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Last Sunday, we decided to take a bus to Camp Walker and check out the town just outside the base.  We ended up taking the train after we found one of their employees near the card machines to sell us the reload-able train cards.  We added about 10,000 won onto each of them and then hopped on the train.  After about three stops, we got out and walked into the multi-floor Lotte Department store.
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The department store was gorgeous!  One floor had beautiful bakeries and cafes, with treats in the shapes of roses, smiley faces, and all sorts of things, while the next floor had every brand of cosmetics you could ever want.  There were many floors with high-end designer clothing, but they also had Columbia, Crocs (the really cute kind 😉 and other more recognizable brands.  I did see a cute pair of shoes I liked but they didn’t have my size.  I had to use a translator app and my few Korean words that I knew to request my shoe size and inquire into some other products.  It was a little tough, but if you try to stay calm and patient, they will really appreciate your efforts and will do their best to help you.  In the end, I found a couple blouses on another floor and handed them to the Korean lady that was standing watch for when I needed help and she took them and folded them, placed them in a bag, and motioned for me to follow her to the counter to pay and did everything for me.  She motioned for my to use my credit card when the terminal was ready and I said “thank you” in Korean when the transaction was finished.  It was pretty painless. 😉  The two shirts were 53 won, total, but with the exchange rate, I saw that I had only paid $47 in USD once it hit my bank account.
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I was really excited when I saw a sign on the 6th (?) floor for a coffee shop that ended up being Angel-in-us.  I had been wanting to try it out ever since I’d seen in from the bus when driving through Daegu—the name of the cafe was too fun for me to pass up getting a cup of coffee from it. Haha  They make a delicious iced Caramel Machiatto by the way.
While I was waiting for my drink order, my husband noticed a sign for a kids corner upstairs, so we went to check it out with our twenty-month-old.  There was a sliding door that opened to an outside patio that had a mini roller coaster and train for kids–they were both free!  Ava loved it. 🙂
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After we rode both rides, we decided to enter the store from the opposite side of the patio and discovered a little room with a lego wall that kids and their parents were enjoying playing with–it was nice to have a break from the humidity outside.  You have to take your shoes off and leave them in front of the mat.
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I believe it was the 7th floor that had all the children’s clothes, but it is also where I discovered a children’s play-place in the far corner of this floor, called Playtime Kids Club.  They had a book they opened that had English in it.  There were different amounts you could pay, based on how long you would stay there to play (with an accompanied adult) and I think there might have even been a membership cost you could pay if you wanted to sign up.  We ended up paying 10,000 won for 2 hours of play (although we only stayed a little over an hour) but we were both able to go into the play area.  Of course, as is the custom, you again remove your shoes and then place them in the cubby locker.  There are drinks and sugary-treats for the kids that you can get from the front desk–I think you pay for them as you leave but I am not sure.
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This play-place was much bigger than it looked at first glance.  There was a block building pit, a wood-pebble pit with dump trucks, sand pit (you have to slip on the provided boots before you walk into the sand pit) a pretend grocery corner with grocery carts and plastic food, a climbing corner, ball pit, bubble zone…I just kept wishing I was still a kid!!  I was so much fun to watch Ava interact with the other children, who kept calling her “eva” or just “baby” and all wanting to hold her hand and play with her.  One of the little girls kept coming up to us, saying, “hi! nice to meet you!”, over and over.  I think she was practicing her English. 😉  It was very cute.
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 Ava fell asleep very quickly in her daddy’s arms after this exciting visit with her new friends came to an end. 😉
We took the train back near Walker, caught the bus, then finally made it back to our hotel, exhausted but happy and excited for out future adventures in Korea.

PCS Trip: South Korea

At 2:00am last week on a Wednesday, our little family of three, left the States for Seoul, South Korea.
We drove for 45 minutes to the airport, boarded a couple hours later, and flew on a 2.5 hour flight to Dallas, Texas.
Ava did pretty well and enjoyed being entertained by the stewardesses.  You can’t see them in the picture below but they were having fun watching her walk the back aisle and then collapse on the floor for a couple minutes before getting back up again and waving at everyone. 😉
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Once we arrived at the Dallas Airport, we had a few hours to kill before our last (16 or so hour-long) flight to Korea.  My husband took us to the USO, which was the best decision of our day. 🙂  We were warmly greeted and our 20-month old was given a little kitty beanie baby, which she was thrilled about.  They had all sorts of drinks and snacks, a playroom for Ava, a little theater room, small library selection, and a computer room, as well as free toiletry items in the bathrooms and free diapers and wipes!
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This was the setup for the last flight, which I boarded early to set up Ava’s carseat and get everything situated.  It was right next to the bathrooms which is a good and bad thing.  Good to be close for when you need it, but bad when you need to sleep and everyone else needs to use it.  It tends to be louder near the bathrooms (those things are loud when they flush! haha).
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Thankfully the seats had movie screens and a great selection of movies.  The flight was exhausting and sometimes felt like it would never end, but honestly, Ava did very well all things considered.  I used some Plant Therapy “Calming the Child” essential oil on her and it was a big help.  She slept twice on the plane for a few hours each time–praise the Lord!   The second time she woke up, she was so groggy, that she just quietly sat in her carseat, hugging her Hello Kitty blanket and watching 3 or 4 episodes of her favorite Disney show–Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 😉  Towards the last couple hours of the flight, I ended up injecting myself with all the coffee I could find. Haha!
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Once we landed and went through customs, we got to the far corner of the airport where our bus was to be and realized we had missed it by 5 or 10 minutes, which meant we had to wait for 2 more hours.  We boarded the bus finally and I honestly don’t remember how long the ride was because I dozed off and on for the whole trip.  It was at least an hour I think?  We made it to Dragon Hill Lodge and got set up for the night after my husband had to attend a couple meetings, but I remember feeling a huge sense of relief that night, laying in the most comfortable hotel bed in the world (or so it felt after a 20+ hour travel day!) and thanking God that we made it safely to the country that held the next big adventure for our family.  PCSing (with a toddler) is never easy, especially when moving to another country, but it’s worth it!  Can’t wait to share our adventures with you all in the near future!

Disney’s Aulani Character Breakfast

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My husband and I have wanted to visit Disney’s Aulani Resort since we have lived here and finally decided to check it out last weekend.  We didn’t book any rooms but discovered that you can have a “character breakfast” at the Makahiki restaurant, (hosted by Auntie and Minnie) for about $37 per person with children 2 and under free.  The breakfast is a buffet with a decent selection of fruit, cereals, hot foods and mini character-shaped waffles.
You do have to make reservations for this breakfast, and can easily do so online–breakfast hours are 7am through 11am.
Pro Tip #1: Go early!  Perhaps going very late (11am) could work as well, but we went to the 7:30 breakfast and by the time we left, the place was overflowing and had long lines.
Pro Tip #2: Keep your parking ticket with you after you park and validate it when you pay for your meal.  Parking will be FREE up to 4 hours after you validate it.  That’s pretty huge since it can cost around $12 per hour or $37 all day.  Free is always good. 😉
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Makahiki restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating.
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Before you are seated, you are handed a card with your name on it, for photo-taking purposes, and then you get in line for pictures with Mickey before going back to the front desk to be seated for breakfast.
Ava was getting pretty excited to see Mickey while we waited in line–again, I’d go early so that you don’t have to wait in too long of a line.
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A Mickey Mouse waffle with coconut syrup!
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Minnie, Goofy, and “Auntie” who is the hostess and plays songs on her ukulele, all walk around the dining area during the breakfast to chat with you and get pictures–Ava was especially fascinated by Goofy. 🙂
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We walked all through the back of the resort where the lazy river, splash pad, and slides were, and ended up letting Ava cool off a little in the ocean and play.
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One of the things I love about Disney–there is something special around every corner!  Ava loved watching the fish in this little aquarium.
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Look at this cute movie corner!  It was playing Ava’s favorite show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
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Isn’t this place beautiful??  We really loved our visit, touring the resort and enjoying the character breakfast with our little one–totally worth it!  Plus it made for an uber-long nap for Ava afterwards…win! 😉
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A Few of My Favorite Things About Living in Hawaii

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Aloha Fridays
Everyone’s living for the weekend in Hawaii!  Locals love to set up tents and camp by the beaches, often for the entire weekend.  Plus, there is even a song dedicated to this day…”It’s Aloha Friday, no work ’til Monday…”.  Look it up, it will get stuck in your head. 😉  Saying “happy Aloha Friday!” to someone is absolutely a thing, and I love it!
Hawaiian Food
Oh my goodness…Kalua pig, sticky rice, mac salad, haupia, lomi lomi salmon, poke, taro-flavored desserts, malasadas (it’s actually a Portuguese donut but you have to try them hot from Leonards Bakery…mmm).
God’s Creation
If you dont like the outdoors and beautiful mountains, sparkling ocean, sandy beaches, jungles to explore, waterfalls to swim in and spotting rainbows almost weekly
…Hawaii is not for you.
The Culture and Language
I love the beauty of the Hawaiian culture. I feel privileged when I get to watch the men and women perform the hula and sing in their musical language.  The simplicity of the native Hawaiian life is fascinating, especially in today’s fast-paced way of living.  “Ohana” is a word you won’t be able to forget when you leave the islands.  It means ‘family’, yet at the same time, so much more than that.  You dont truly understand it until you’ve lived here and then have to leave.  I will miss Hawaii so much.
So Much to Do!
Like to shop?  Oahu has you covered on that one.  World’s largest outdoor mall (the Ala Moana) or downtown Waikiki is a good place to start. 😉  And for flea market-type shopping, check out the Aloha Swap meet.  Like to lay out on the beach?  Well…you picked a good place to visit/live then.  Like to hike?  There is no end to trails and amazing views.  Sea turtles?  Whale watching?  Discovery?  Adventure?  Nothing about Hawaii is boring so long as you get outdoors and explore!
Keepin’ it Casual
It’s a more relaxed and casual lifestyle in Hawaii.  You can dress up for a night on the town in Waikiki but mostly people dress casually during the week, in athleisure, shorts and tee shirt or cool and comfy dresses.  And nobody goes anywhere without their ‘slippers’, aka flip-flops. 😉
The History
Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Battery Cooper at Kuoloa Ranch, the WW2 pill boxes all over the island… The island is rich in history and it’s fascinating to learn about!
Hawaii has been my first overseas (OCONUS) duty station and it has been a fantastic experience.  If Hawaii is your next duty station or in the possible future, congrats!  I hope you have as wonderful a couple years as I have.  Aloha and happy PCSing!