Today was Seollal, otherwise known as Lunar New Year. Doug and I celebrated Seollal last year, but this year was even better since we were able to celebrate with Spencer! This is the first of two celebrations for us this year. We'll be heading up to Quincy, MA for a Lunar New Year celebration at the end of the month. (Anyone else going?! It's open to all and not specifically Korean, just LUNAR.) I made Spencer a shirt for all of these Lunar New Year celebrations. One of the Korean beliefs is that you should ring in the new year with new clothes... and while this isn't exactly what they meant, I think it works! And, come on, he needs an appropriate outfit, no?! So, Spencer donned his new shirt, and off we went!
[He's signing "eat" here... I think he was hungry!]
[Admiring his new shirt. The text reads "hoe-rang-ee" which is Korean for "tiger."]
["Let's GO already!"]
And a couple mama and son shots... since I'm always told their aren't enough!
Celebration #1 started with dinner out last night at our local Korean restaurant.
But first, a sidebar: The restaurant is located across the street from a great Asian market that we frequent a couple of times a month. (I can't remember if I've blogged about them before?) It's owned by Koreans, and I can't say enough wonderful things about the two women that work there/own it. They've really taken our family under their wings... they've helped us figure out recipes, find ingredients, make substitutions... but more importantly, they nourish our passion about all things Korean. We never feel silly or stupid or unaccepted in there, which is wonderful. They make it a point to speak Korean with me when I am in there (at my request). In fact, they're the reason I can have a full [basic] conversation in Korean. They go out of their way to speak slowly and clearly. They teach me words and [gently] correct my fumbles. (Which are many... their patience is amazing.) And more importantly, they teach us the culture. They helped us prepare for the Tol, Chuseok, and now Seollal. They taught us little things that you can't pick up reading about a culture in books or online. See, I said I can't say enough wonderful things about these women! And... they completely dote on Spencer. When we first came home I mentioned that he was "missing" some of the foster mother's games. They stood there with us for twenty minutes trying out all sorts of games/rhymes/songs that are traditional in Korea. Oh, and they spent lots of time cooing over him and "clucking" at him of course! Spencer loved it. They still dote on him... he's always getting goodies from them. Usually it's a box of his favorite snacks (another post on that coming later this week) but this time it was a package of yugwa, complete with some history on why you have it on New Year's Day. (We'll be bringing them some photos of Spencer enjoying it later this week.) It was a really touching moment for us. I don't know if this makes any sense, but we always feel safe, and in a way cared for, when we are in there. I could go on and on about these women and that store... but I'll spare you all. [wink]
After stocking up on some necessities, we headed over to the restaurant. [A random note: we arrived at the same time as another adoptive family. Their son was 5.5 and had his prized truck with him. It was a little like looking into our future. And, of course, the parents all exchanged those knowing smiles but left the conversation at the "niceties" level since I think we were all aware that our kids were right there. But it was comforting. That's the first time we've ever been there with another family "just like us."] Doug and I had made a deal that we would try to "break out of our rut" since we always order our favorite dishes there. Part of that was dictated by "having" to eat the traditional New Year's Soup. It's well known that tteokguk (rice cake soup) is the soup to have on New Year's, but manduguk (dumpling soup) is also very popular. I believe it comes down to where you originate from in Korea, but don't quote me on that! Tteokguk represents health and prosperity while manduguk represents luck. Well, our restaurant had a tteok-mandu-guk soup on the menu, so we got the best of both worlds! And it was delicious. We're talking "I-had-to-restrain-myself-from-licking-the-bowl" good. That's definitely next up on the list of "Korean recipes I must master." (If you're interested in reading more on this, here's a great link.) Then we followed it up Fried Rice with Kimchi & Beef for Doug, Don Gaetsu (lightly fried pork filets) for me, and Jap Chae (sweet potato noodles) for Spencer. [I'll be posting my Jap Chae recipe soon - promise!] Everything was delicious, and I'm pretty sure that once again Spencer ate his weight in food. Love that! I forgot to take good pictures, but I did grab this one of our soup, after we had devoured half of it:
The celebrations continued today. Much more low-key since Spencer is still not himself. But we did take some time to reflect on the Year of the Tiger, and we enjoyed some of the yugwa Spencer received the night before. Can we say YUM?! We were going to try to get another shot of Spencer in his hanbok, but Crabby McCrankypants wasn't having it! Oh well, there's always tomorrow! (I also plan to put him back in his shirt and take some photos of him eating the yugwa for the ladies at the store... today he just cried every time he saw the camera.) So here's another funny outtake from our last hanbok shoot:
So that is pretty much our Seollal. Busy, but oh-so-worth-it! I can't wait til the celebration at the end of the month! But first we have a bunch of other big dates coming up...