Sunday, July 31, 2005

Brunch @ Bel Air Hotel

We had brunch today at the Bel Air Hotel in Beverly Hills.

To get there we drove up in the woody hills of this posh community. The streets were beautifully lined on both sides with big trees that created a canopy against the sun. Not only was it beautiful, but it was 10 degrees cooler there as well.

Telepathically Uwe and I were both sending each other the same thought... "this would be the perfect place to raise a family." If we win the lottery it will definitely be on the top of our list.

It's interesting how your view of "the neighborhood" changes once you become a parent. Pre-kid it's all about how "cool" the neighborhood is and you want to be with other "young," hip people. When you see kids living there you think "oh no...noise." Post-kid you start thinking in terms of your kid riding her bicycle down the street (flat, not too much traffic, safe) and wanting to be near other couples with young children. When you see kids living there you think, "oh how sweet...children in the neighborhood." I'm beginning to understand the urge to move to suburbia. But don't get me wrong, I have no desire to morph into a Stepford wife and throw tupperware parties at my house or anything. But I do see the lure.

As to the restaurant...

You approach the restaurant by walking across an arching stone bridge, over a stream and pond filled with white swans, along a pink brick path lined with sycamore trees, bougainvilla, and flowering gardens.

Ambiance - thumbs up. Food - thumbs down.

The food was very disappointing. What tasted okay was underwhelming, and my pancakes were awful. From a 5 star hotel you don't expect better pancakes at Denny's. I think we both had high expectations but cie la vie. The dessert Uwe chose was comically outlined in the menu. It's called a snowball, made with vanilla ice cream rolled in coconut with a chocolate sauce. The funny part is that it was noted it was a Ronald Reagan favorite. That made us look around to see how many Republicans were surrounding us.

As you can see the refreshments included: mimosa, champagne, iced tea, and formula.

Astrid got to wear her pretty white dress with the pink bows (a gift from our friends Mary and Jeff). She definitely looks like Uwe's daughter.

Astrid did well at the restaurant. After she was fed she was okay sitting on either mommy or daddy's lap, and then she fell asleep in her new stroller.

Driving away from the restaurant we got to drive underneath that beautiful tree canopy again while daydreaming about Astrid riding her bike down the street.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Tough Love










Here is a photo I took this evening of Uwe playing with Astrid. It's so sweet to see them interacting with each other.

Tonight it made me think of my relationship with my own father. I remember waiting on the couch for my dad to get home and the moment he came through the front door I ran to him with my arms up wanting to be lifted up and hugged by him. I was the apple of his eye and I knew he loved me but he also believed in tough love and was very strict.

Astrid is too young to have any discipline issues but right now it's all about setting a routine and sticking to it. One routine we're trying to establish with Astrid is her sleeping in her crib. She's been sleeping in her bassinet and Uwe and I trade off each night on who is going to be caring for her during the night (and will sleep in the family room) while the other can get a good night's sleep. Astrid is beginning to outgrow her bassinet. I have been trying to get Astrid to take naps in her crib during the afternoon but have not had much success. Uwe decided that on Friday Astrid was going to sleep through the night in her crib and we would have one night where we could both sleep in the bedroom.

Friday night came and Uwe was firm on Astrid sleeping in her crib. Uwe and I laid in bed watching "Iron Chef". I fell asleep while watching the show and little did I know that Uwe couldn't sleep all night. He kept thinking, "What if Astrid cries and we can't hear her?" even though our bedroom is right next to her room. So sweet Uwe got up at 1 AM and put Astrid in her bassinet and slept next to her in the family room so that he could hear her if she woke up and/or started crying. So much for tough love huh? But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Astrid's New Stroller

We finally purchased a stroller today. After all the research, we went to a store in Pasadena so that we could see the strollers and try them out first hand. We purchased a Inglesina Zippy Umbrella Stroller for Astrid.

Uwe had his heart set on the Bugaboo and I can see why. It's luxurious and very stylish, however it comes with a whopping $700 price tag and it was very complicated (there's a DVD instead of a manual you have to view to figure out how to use all the features) and bulky. Uwe thought it would save us money in the end to get it because we could also use it as a jogging stroller. But after the sales lady showed me how to collapse it, even with 2 free hands I wasn't able to do it. It has a number of levers and buttons and it's all not intuitive. The sales lady even says it takes some time to learn how to use it. I would definitely get it if I lived in Manhattan and would never need to collapse it and would use it for walking all over town. However, in LA where it's necessary to drive everywhere, I need to be able to collapse it and put it into the trunk of a car, as well as take it out of the car and open it up.

The first time I tried the Inglesina Zippy Umbrella Stroller I was able to open and collapse it on my own with out even having to ask the sales lady to show me how to do it. It's not as pretty as the Bugaboo but it's still a high end stroller and more importantly it's very user friendly, light weight, and Astrid can use it for a long time. I also liked that the hood can be pulled down in varying degrees and when pulled down all the way, it will shade Astrid entirely from the sun.

We went to lunch to think about it and while we were walking down the street, coincidentally we saw a lady and her kid in a Inglesina Zippy Umbrella Stroller. I asked the lady how she liked her stroller and she told me she loves it because she can open and close it while holding her baby at the same time and it just makes her life a whole lot easier. I think that was the deal clincher.

The company claims it's the only stroller with a "one hand open/collapse feature." It goes for $300 but the store was sold out and they offered us the floor model for $230. Our model is dark gray with orange accents. I also bought a mesh bag attachment for holding drinks, keys, bib, etc.

Uwe said we passed on the Mercedes and brought home a Chevy. That's probably a fair comparison, but unlike a car we're only going to use the stroller for a few years. In the meantime each time I take our stroller in and out of the trunk and open and collapse it, I will smile to myself that I chose the simple, practical Chevy.

Hello Moto!

I got my new Motorola RAZR V3 cell phone yesterday and just transferred my existing number today.

When Uwe first got this phone it was over $500, but I was able to get one for free with a special promotional deal. If you take a 2 year Cingular service plan the phone is free.

RAZR Phone Offer

I had an older Motorola model which still worked but somehow the display got crushed in my purse so I couldn't see who was calling. I had been just kinda looking but not committed to buying any particular phone when Uwe found this offer on a message board. Uwe has used Cingular for awhile now and the service is fine, plus now that transferring your existing phone number is possible, there was no reason not to do it.

Now what ringtone should I choose? For some reason I think the "Hello Moto" one is cute.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Good Morning




After her morning feeding and diaper change Astrid is all smiles.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

100 Days Dinner

We decided to try a new Korean BBQ restaurant called ChoSun Galbee (in Korea Town on Olympic) for Astrid's 100 days birthday. (Uwe took this photo of Astrid with the restaurant's chopstick wrapper. Ingenious!)

It seems to be a very popular restaurant. Although the restaurant has it's own parking lot with a valet service, it was jam packed full with cars and double parking was necessary. For some reason Thursday night is thee weekday night to go out in LA. That plus the fact that the restaurant was really busy, we thought we would have to wait forever for a table, but we were pleasantly surprised when they seated us right away.

They sat us at a communal long table with 2 bbq grills with booth seating on each side. We were happy to be seated so fast but there was little wiggle room and it just barely fit Astrid's car seat.

I have to say though that the service was quick and efficient. At most Korean restaurants you have to flag down a lone waitress to get more water and/or it takes a long time to get your food. This restaurant had plenty of competent waiters and waitresses and our food was served right away. (Although it seems to be a universal etiquette in a Korean restaurant to serve the man first. This irks Uwe to no end because he feels the woman should always be served first. Yes, I married a gentleman.)

Uwe ordered the Korean bbq chicken which we shared and grilled on our table. (Very yummy.) I ordered the black cod and seafood hot pot. (The dish was tasty but there wasn't enough fish and the only other seafood I could find was a single clam.)

I know you're saying why didn't we get any Kalbee (Korean BBQ'd beef) that is the signature dish. 3 words - Mad Cow Disease. Uwe was tempted to order it but I think my art of persuasion (okay maybe the pained look on my face and pleading) worked. (The large photo above with the Kalbee is from the restaurant's website.)

This was Astrid's first time at a Korean restaurant (out of the womb that is). Uwe and I both thought it was a bit too noisy inside for Astrid which made her overstimulated and cry. After a bottle and some hugs and kisses, she was okay to sit on my lap for awhile. I'm getting pretty good at eating with one hand while balancing and bouncing Astrid on my knee with the other. Thank goodness our meal didn't require the use of a knife.

Next time (yes, we will go back) we will sit outside on the patio area where it isn't so noisy and Astrid (and Uwe & I) can enjoy it more.











Here's Uwe with the little one on his lap and a glass of cold OB beer. (Uwe always mentions that the Koreans learned how to make beer from the Germans and that's how they got it right and why it tastes so good.)

The pic on the right shows Uwe pretending to feed Astrid. No she isn't eating solids yet. Her favorite and only cuisine is still Horizon formula (an organic baby formula).

We both realized that it's been way too long since we've been to a Korean BBQ restaurant (3 months!). We went when I was 9 months pregnant but this was the first time since Astrid was born. The food hit the spot. Astrid is showing the back side of the chopstick wrapper. Thank you. Come Again. We will. As you can see from the pic, Astrid is ready to cry, which is our cue to leave.

Even though the dinner was a bit rushed as Astrid was uncomfortable and we were trading off and trying to keep her happy while gulping down our dinner, it was still nice for the 3 of us to have dinner together and celebrate Astrid's 100 days birthday.

Happy 100 Days Birthday Astrid!


Today's the day! Astrid is officially 100 days old. Can you tell I'm excited?

I forgot to mention in my last post that the Korean culture includes the months the baby spent in the womb when calculating age. 100 days after the birth is approximately 1 year from conception. So in a sense, this is the baby's first birthday. The Korean word for it is "Paek il" and it's defined as "the celebration of baby's first 100 days in which money and other gifts are given to parents for the baby. " Thank goodness for the internet as I found more information and a cute photo. (See below.)
No, this isn't a photo of Astrid. But the younger of the two girls in the photo is also celebrating her 100 days birthday, and she and her sister are both wearing Korean hamboks.

There are special kinds of hambok for the babies to wear. For example, a hambok with rainbow colored sleeves. Girls wear an overgarment which resembles the ceremonial robes of the ancient court ladies. In addition to that, a boy will also be dressed in a vest and a hood.

This I find particularly funny because I had a hood and a vest which means my mom dressed me like a boy. She finally got her wish to have a boy when my brother came along and he got to wear my outfit on his 100 days birthday too.

After the baby is properly dressed, they are seated in front of a large table. And on the table you will find different types of food and fruits. You will also find threads, books, calligraphy brushes, ink, money, arrows or daggers, rice, needles, and scissors. After the baby is seated with the objects in front of him/her, everyone attending the ceremony waits patiently to see which object the baby will grab. It is believed that the object which is picked up first will foretell the baby's future. For example, if the baby picks up a calligraphy brush or a book, then it is believed that he/she will be a scholar. If he picks up an arrow or a dagger, he/she will be a soldier. Finally if the baby picks up the money or rice, it is believed that he/she well be blessed with wealth. If the thread is chosen, it is believed that the baby will have a long life. Guests usually bring gift of money, clothes or gold rings. After the ceremony, the departing guests are given rice cakes.
Here are some quirky facts about the Korean tradition:

1) In the old days, there was significantly high infant mortality rates and a baby surviving the first 100 days had a significantly higher change for survival into childhood and beyond.

No wonder there aren't any newborn photos of me. I guess it was bad luck to take photographs of your baby before it was 100 days old.

2) Traditionally, for the first 100 days, only very close family are to come in contact with the baby and the baby does not go outside at all.

Well we nixed that one when Astrid was just 5 days old. We took her to San Francisco with us where Uwe was attending a conference. Lots of contact with strangers, including the valet, maid, room service attendant, and all the people in the restaurant where we had dinner in the hotel lobby. She loved it. During the day she had the whole bed with high thread count linens to herself with a view out the big bay window overlooking San Francisco. Who can beat that? She's a really good traveler already and we hope that our trip instilled some Wanderlust in her. The world is full of exciting things to see and interesting people and life's too short to spend it hiding inside and being afraid of the world outside. That's my take anyway. I'm sure Astrid will grow up hearing this story a thousand times, "When you were just 5 days old..."


3) When a baby girl is born, the birth is announced by hanging a white cloth (or a string of peppers for a baby boy) at the front door of the house. It tells visitors that there is a new baby in the house and it is respectful to refrain from visiting in fear of the baby's health.

I guess if we would have put up a flag or something announcing "Baby Girl Arrived" it would have kept the neighbors from questioning me, "Whatcha got there? A baby? Did you adopt? Oh it's yours. We didn't even know you were pregnant." It's not like I hid the fact that I was pregnant. I started to really show when I was 6 months pregnant. And I didn't hide away in the house either. I worked right up until I had Astrid. So go figure!


4) Baby wears only white clothing during the first 100 days, because white cotton clothes are the easiest to sterilize by boiling. On the 100th day the baby wears colorful clothes for the first time and other adults can hold her.

In Astrid's case, she wore clothes that were white, yellow, green, blue and pink. She even has one black outfit (the Smokey and the Bandit one). Only white? Reminds me of a coworker's comment. We were debating the color of something in the office and some thought it was violet, and others fuchsia. One coworker threw in his opinion that it was just red, to which another coworker commented, "Oh you poor man. You must have only had the 12 Crayola crayon pack when you were a kid."


5) On the morning of the 100th day of the baby's birth, either the mother or the grandmother (of the baby's parents) prepares rice, seaweed soup, and other white items and prays to the ancestors to bless the child with long life and good fortunes. Then the rice and the soup is fed to the birthmother.


I can cook rice with my handy dandy Korean rice cooker, but I have no clue how to make seaweed soup. I used to ask my mom to show me how but it was always "a little of this, a little of that" and I'd go away with no idea how to make it. I love seaweed soup though. Maybe I'll have some tonight when we go to dinner at a Korean restaurant to celebrate.

It's such an important celebration in the Korean culture and I'm sad that I can't share this day with my mom. *flashback to wedding planning* Having a Korean mother I thought she would want me to include some Korean traditions in my wedding but she surprised me by saying "Why do you want to do that? It's too much trouble. Just do it the American way." So in this respect, I'm doing it the "American way" again by going to a Korean restaurant.


6) Typically, the baby's hair is cut and tied in a lock and kept in safety until the baby comes of age (age of majority). The hair is returned to the grown child to remind her of the eternal love of her parents. The child would keep the hair as a reminder of the thanks to the parents bringing her into life.

There isn't enough hair to cut and make a lock out of. But did you see the photo of the Korean kid above? Underneath that hat she had a full head of really thick black hair. I guess this one doesn't apply if you have a kid that's not 100% Korean. Don't feel bad Astrid, mommy didn't have that much hair either (me not being 100% Korean either) and look at my hair now..every time I go to the hair salon the stylist comments, "Wow, you've got SO much hair."


7) Prepared white and other rice cakes are shared with as many people as possible to spread the blessing. People who share the rice cakes present gifts to wish happiness and long life.

Ah catering and a party. Will have to wait until Astrid's 1st American birthday. *flashback to engagement party* Me being American (Korean/German ancestry), and Uwe being German, we thought we might do a Korean/German shindig...as in Korean food and German beer, but in the end we served Mexican food at our engagement party. The margaritas were flowing and we did the German traditional Polterabend (friends and family bring ceramic dishes, cups, etc. to break by throwing them up against a wall, and together the bride and groom-to-be use a broom and sweep up the mess together. It represents doing away with evil spirits/bad luck/the past and ushering in good times, and working together to make a happy future for each other. Very nice tradition. I was whole heartedly for it.) So in the end the food really didn't really matter. Plus everyone loves Mexican food. And it was more about celebrating with friends and family and having everyone's blessing and well wishes. Same goes for the birth of a child and birthdays. It's really all about celebrating that child's life regardless if there's Korean BBQ or turkey burgers and hot dogs being served.


8) Although the baby already has been given a name for the records, adults may see the baby for the first time and give her a baby name as a sign of adoration. Typically this baby name is used only inside the house.

Uwe already has a few nicknames for Astrid but none that we can continue to call her when she's older and understands what they mean. Is that the same thing? Okay maybe we need to find an appropriate nickname for Astrid that is a true sign of adoration.

Happy Birthday sweetheart!

Back in the saddle again

Yes! The power adapter for my laptop finally came today. (My old one melted.) The first company I had ordered it from notified me that it was no longer in stock (3 days after I ordered it), so I ordered it from another company and had to wait a little longer for it. Thank goodness the problem was the adapter like I thought, and not the battery.

I can finally upload photos of Astrid from my camera onto my speedy little laptop. Oh the joy. Welcome back my friend!

Next blog entry pending...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Round round get around...I get around

Gone are the days I can put Astrid down without any worries. Case in point: 1) I put Astrid down at one end of her play mat. Note that she is lying on the elephant's ear.
2) Minutes later she's rolling over onto her side and squirming to where she wants to go.

3) In addition to her rolling over capabilities, she also holds another move in her back pocket...pushing off with both her legs. Note that she's no longer lying on the elephant's ear. 4) In a total of 10 minutes she's on the opposite end of the mat with her head touching the rug. Note that her foot is now on top of the elephant's ear.

Astrid can't run or walk or even crawl yet, but that doesn't stop her from getting around.

I'm happy to see her developing but it's scary because she'll keep pushing with her feet until she bumps up against something and then she just keeps pushing. Now I understand why it's necessary to have a bumper around the inside of the crib. It's not just for decoration...it's to protect your baby's still forming head!

This afternoon I put Astrid down in her crib, trying to get her to take a nap. Five minutes later I hear her crying and I run into her room and see her head is stuck in the corner of her crib buried underneath the stuffed animal sheep that we have attached to her crib that makes calming noises to help a baby sleep. She was fine but she kept on pushing as if she was gonna push through, and in this case it was lights out "Hey! What's going on? It got dark all of a sudden. Help!".
Oh and the added friction is not doing her bald spot any favors. But at least she's getting a work out. =)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Groovy Girls

When I saw this doll in the toy store I thought to myself "That looks like a grown up Astrid" (i.e., an Asian and Caucasian mix) so I got it for her.







She'll still too young to play with it. At first Astrid thought it was funny, and then she started putting it in her mouth. The doll is from a collection called "Groovy Girls". I had no idea they were so popular and come with changeable clothes, accessories and even furniture. There are also "Groovy Boys" in case you were wondering.

Meet Groovy Girl Natalya

"The hippest playmates and most fashionable friends, the Groovy Girl collection is spectacular. Designed with an eye for style, the groovy playmates sport funky, removable outfits with cool details like hook-and -loop closures and awesome accessories. Beauty comes in all colors, styles and sizes. As no two styles are alike, these special Groovy Girls teach children to celebrate diversity."

What a refreshing concept! When I was growing up, my dolls were Caucasian with blond hair and blue eyes. There was no diversity in my doll collection. It wasn't until I was 10 and my parents brought back a Hawaiian doll for me from their vacation, that I actually owned an "ethnic" doll.

I like the name "Groovy Girls" too...reminiscent of the 60's.

Santa Barbara

We'd like to get away for some R&R in Santa Barbara. Anyone know 0f any good places to stay, visit, see?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Astrid on her Throne


The Countdown Begins











Astrid is 97 days old today. There's an old Korean tradition that when a baby turns 100 days old there's a big celebration, lots of Korean food and moon cakes, and each guest brings a gold ring for the baby. The baby should have at least one ring on each finger so that he/she will live a prosperous life.

Back in history many children didn't live past 100 days old so it was a true reason to celebrate. Even now I think it's a sweet tradition that gives parents an excuse to dress up in traditional Korean outfits and eat lots of Korean food and have friends and family over to oooooh and ahhhh over the baby.

I remember seeing photos of my brother's 100 days party. It shows me at 2 1/2 years old and my mom all decked out in our Hamboks (traditional Korean dresses), my baby brother in his Korean garb, my dad wearing a tie, and my dad's side of the family very casual in jeans. My two cousins were wearing t-shirts with 70's logos (one could have been KISS). Classic clash of two cultures.

Uwe and I are going to celebrate in our own way by going to a Korean restaurant with Astrid and buying her a silver ring with her name engraved on the inside.

Only 3 more days to go...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cutest Chipmunk Ever

Escape from LA


Uwe says that I always get the great photos with Astrid smiling really big. But I have to point out that the photo with me was taken after Astrid was fed (boy that hit the spot) and the photo with Uwe (see below) was taken before she was fed (how much longer?).

Once we were up on Sunday morning Uwe asked me what I wanted to do and I had 2 things in mind: 1) check out the Urth Caffe' (the double 'f' is not a typo) which everyone has been raving about and 2) check out a toy store called Acorn Store which boasts it doesn't offer a single thing that requires batteries or is made of plastic. Hasta La Vista Toys R Us.

The Urth Caffe' is unique in that it sells organic coffee, tea, and gourmet foods. It has 3 locations: 1) West Hollywood, 2) Beverly Hills, and 3) Santa Monica. We decided to go to the one in SM because the toy store is also located there, and to escape from LA's heat.


Unfortunately it was packed so seating was limited and they have this strange policy that you have to place your order at the register, pay, and then they seat you. They also had lousy service. But the thing that saved them was their good food, cute designs they make with the foam on top of the coffee, and their friendly valet. Otherwise it would have been our first and last time, but I think I will go back or at least try another location.

Uwe and I both had quiches. Uwe ordered the quiche with apple smoked bacon and leeks and I had the quiche with tomatoes and basil. We sampled from both of course and Uwe and I both preferred our own entrees. My quiche was absolutely delicious. The best quiche I've ever had!


If you look in the upper right hand corner you'll see a woman in a white floppy hat drinking coffee. She was staring at us (me, Uwe and Astrid) for a long time and then all of a sudden she broke down in tears and was sobbing silently in the corner. Uwe and I both immediately started playing the MADD ad libs in our head..the lady is crying because "____(fill in the blank)____."

We must have looked picturesque the 3 of us enjoying a Sunday brunch and spending time together. Made us feel sad that looking at us brought up sad or lonely feelings from this woman that we were sharing a courtyard with on a Sunday morning.

(And no, that's not our stroller. It belongs to the kid behind us. We still have the hospital issued one that Uwe despises. We're still researching and debating what stroller we should buy. I prefer a light, practical one with drink holders...like the one we have...and Uwe wants to get a heavier, studier, cooler model. Any recommendations?)

Uwe took this photo of the back of Astrid's head, as she was sitting on my lap. She has a demarcation line where there's hair, no hair, and then hair again. It's perfectly normal for babies to have bald spots on their back of their heads because that's the part of their head that presses up against the floor or mattress and gets the most constant friction and pressure. It will eventually fill in. For now it just makes us smile looking at it. Another first for us...watching baby's hair grow.

After brunch we went to the toy store but it was closed. (Not open on Sundays.) Wow...how European. But it had a large picture window we could look into and saw lots of wooden and handmade toys. We will definitely go back to check it out.

We did a little shopping on 3rd Street Promenade and enjoyed the street performers, ocean breeze, and each other's company before heading back home. It's kinda nice to venture out of LA once in awhile together as a family.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Astrid's Signature Sleeping Position


This is a photo of Astrid asleep in her bassinet tonight.








This is a photo of Astrid the day she was born.








This is a photo of Astrid the day we brought her home from the hospital on the 4th day of her life.

It's become a charades posture now.
Uwe: Who's this? (holding up his arms next to his head)
Rose: Astrid (laughing)