My New England Seoul has moved!

Please visit us at mynewenglandseoul.com

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Our First House

View from our back deck

View from our back deck

We purchased our first home back in 2009 when we were just 24 years old.  We had been looking half-heartedly for a few months, debating on whether it was the right time to buy, or not.  We had been in the area since 2007, were both gainfully employed and the real estate market had been growing more and more enticing for first time home buyers.  We figured it couldn’t hurt to look around a bit.

We knew which areas and communities we were interested in and thoroughly enjoyed the house-hunting process.  We put an offer on one other house (not far from where we live now) that ended up falling through…I’m pretty sure it was due to incompetence on our agent’s part but it all worked out in the end.  Everything happens for a reason.

After that disappointment we switched to a different agent, this time one referred to us by a friend, and continued our search.  Our house happened to have come on the market right after we switched, we were actually the first people to look at it.  It was everything we wanted, a large, brick colonial at the end of a cul-de-sac in a quiet neighborhood with highly rated schools nearby (not that we have kids but for the future.)

Overall, the place was in good shape.  Everything was functional and they had had it professionally cleaned before listing it so, technically, it was “move-in-ready.”  We loved the lay-out, especially.  It was very traditional with a two car garage, formal living space, three bedrooms and a master en suite; all must-haves.

We made an offer and two months later closed on the house.  With keys in hand, we got right down to business.  Their idea of “move-in-ready” was not exactly the same as ours.  The place was covered in wallpaper and the carpeting had definitely seen better days.

Things we did before moving in:

  1. Removed all wallpaper on both floors (except bathrooms)
  2. Removed all old carpeting
  3. Added new carpeting (neutral color) in family room on 1st floor
  4. Added new carpeting (same neutral color) throughout 2nd floor
  5. Added hardwood flooring to formal living room/dining room
  6. Painted all living areas and bedrooms (though most have changed colors since then)

We took a few weeks off of work, had our family and friends over to help out, hired professionals to install the flooring and did as much as we could for the rest.

Removing the wallpaper was probably the least pleasant task and it was EVERYWHERE, including the two story foyer, kitchen, master bedroom among other rooms in the house and even on the ceiling in some rooms!!

Things we wish we would have done differently (in hindsight):

  1. Taken the time to swatch the paint colors chosen for each room and actually paint small sections to see the color on the wall.
  2. Requested more concession from the sellers for repair/updates that were identified at time of sale (e.g., walkway, fireplace lining, etc.)
  3. Counter-offered to their offer…We paid just under asking price.  We offered, they countered, and we accepted. Sold!  Looking back we probably could have gotten a better deal since the house was pretty dated but we were too gun shy to haggle (since the last one had fallen through) and we REALLY wanted this house.

All in all, we couldn’t be more pleased with our decision.  We are thankful that we bought when we did and were able to take advantage of the first time homeowner credit ($8,000), and we feel fortunate to have been able to invest in our dream first home.  It’s more than a starter home; it’s one that we can grow into when we decide to expand our crew, and grow old in, if that’s what we choose 😉

My Running Story

Let me start by saying I was always in pretty good shape.  I figure skated competitively for about 10 years which involved pretty rigorous training, both on and off the ice.  My endurance and stamina were top notch back then, not to mention my metabolism was awesome…I think it’s working only part-time these days 😉

In addition to skating, way back when, over a decade ago now (wow!), I ran cross country and track in high school.  Fast forward about seven years and before I knew it the man of my dreams was down on one knee.

As soon as I got engaged I knew I wanted to get in the best shape possible because who doesn’t want their wedding and honeymoon photos to be amazing?  I started running several times a week for 3 to 5 miles at a time.  That, in combination with some strength training, yoga and pilates, I was in pretty darn good shape for my wedding day back in September of 2010.

Fast forward a few more years to 2013.  At this point we had been married for a few years and thinking about starting family.  We each made a list of things we wanted to do/accomplish before we took that next step and running a marathon was one of the things on my list.

I ran my first one in November 2013.  I thought it would be a line item that I would cross off my list and move on; however, it was such an amazing experience that I am motivated to do more and improve my time.  Everybody says that road races become almost addictive in nature and I think they’re right.

I found the marathon distance to be a worthy challenge yet an easily attainable goal for me.  If I can do one, so can you!

Week 1 Marathon Training

Back story:  I have not done a training run since December 10th; however, I did run a half marathon on January 19th and another half marathon on February 23rd.  I did not train AT ALL for either one.  And even though they both went fine it’s not something I’d recommend as I was quite sore for several days after each race day.

Present day:  I have signed up for my 2nd full marathon to take place at the end of May.  I’ll be updating my “week in workouts” leading up to the race.  This is kind of like a “couch-to-marathon” journey if you will.

Week of March 9-15:

Sunday:   Run 5k (easy effort)–post run: chocolate milk

Monday:   Rest

Tuesday:   Run 5 miles (easy effort)– post run:  chocolate milk

Wednesday:  Rest

Thursday:  Run 5 miles (intervals/speed work)–post run:  chocolate milk

Friday:   Rest

Sunday*:   Run 12 miles (long run)–post run:  protein shake

Getting back into the groove of running, especially the long-run distances, was a bit tough but manageable.  It felt good to get my body moving again.  I noticed a huge difference in recovery after my long run; practically no soreness.  I guess even a week’s worth of training would have made a big difference for those half marathons.

This was only week 1.  As I get further into the process, I’ll likely add in some cross training, strength training, yoga and/or pilates most weeks.  After each run I have either a glass of chocolate milk or a protein shake depending on the distance.  In addition, I try to roll out my muscles with a roller post-runs.

*I usually do my long runs on saturdays not sunday; this was an atypical week

My Birth Family Search

For any of you out there who are adopted you, especially, can relate to the depth and complexity of this topic.  A lot of people have atypical upbringings.  For instance those who grew up in the foster system, were raised by a relative or grandparent or even those who know only one of their  birth parents; they may be in similar situations where they wish to seek information on their birth family; however, those scenarios often yield more readily available information than that of an international adoptee.

It has taken me 29 years to address this part of my past.  All my life I’ve known I was adopted, you can read more on my adoption story here.  Honestly, it has been a frequent focus, not by choice but was often a topic of interest for people first meeting me.  I guess it was mostly due to ignorance as I’ve learned that many people have no clue what adoption is all about.  I remember a woman once asked me “how’s that working out for you?” when she first heard I was adopted…WTH?

So even though it came up a lot, and at certain periods in my life I had to work hard at dealing with its associated issues, I was always focused on adoption in my present life.  I never thought about my life pre-adoption.

Okay, I shouldn’t say “never.”  Like a lot of teenagers, who were coming-of-age, I had issues.  I went through a period when I was 15 years old where I was convinced I wanted to find my birth family.  My parents took my request in stride.  They dug out my adoption folder that held every piece of information about the first nine months of my life.  We went through it, tears were shed, and we talked about the real problem at hand (which being an emo 15 year old at the time I couldn’t even tell you what that was).  I quickly realized that the answers to my teenage identity crisis was not in that folder..

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It’s been almost 15 years since I last looked at that folder.  I am no longer a lost, emo, hormonal teenager looking for a scapegoat.  I am at a point in my life where I need to face this, for better or worse, and just do it.  If I don’t, then it opens up the chance of regret…and I’d like to limit that in my life whenever possible.

My mom brought me my file on February 20th when she arrived for a visit.  The very next day, *February 21st, I ripped off the bandaid and submitted a request form to Holt Family Services in Seoul, South Korea…

I’ll be sharing more on my search here on My New England Seoul, so stay tuned!

*interesting coincidence– Feb 21st was also the date I departed Korea back in 1985.  I actually discovered this coincidence after I had submitted the form.

If you look closely, you can see the stamp for Feb 21, 1985
If you look closely, you can see the stamp for Feb 21, 1985

My Sweet Pipes Life

The Sweet Pipes Life (TSPL) is all about living a life of gratitude, not letting the little things get you down, and living each day to the fullest.  I get my daily dose of reality check from my pups.  I see how they live their lives, each day, full of joy and exuberance.  They are never spiteful, manipulative or mean.  They love us unconditionally without judgment or malice, and they love each other through and through.  They are truly BFFs!

So without further ado, meet Sweet Pea (Sweetie for short)…

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and her best friend, sister, and partner in crime, Piper…

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Together, they enjoy playing with their toys, napping, eating treats, evening walks, exploring the yard and wrestling with each other, or as we refer to it, “they’re practicing their jiu jitsu moves” 🙂

They certainly have their routine down pat and if you stray from it they are quick to get you back on track.  They love breakfast time (the coveted wet dog food) and treat time the best and don’t expect them to  run to their kennel without a tasty morsel, as promised, awaiting their arrival.

Now, I know that life is not as simple as a dog’s life, especially two spoiled ones to boot; however, the pleasure one can receive from the little things in life can be just that…simple.

So to sum up, The Sweet Pipes Life (TSPL) is my outlet to share simple pleasures I may come across in my daily grind.  It could be anything as little as an inspirational quote, a good book, or a news clip to bigger things like life-altering realizations or even bigger revelations I may stumble upon…the sky’s the limit.

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.” 
              -Maya Angelou

Growing up white…kinda…

Let’s start at the beginning.  I was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1984 and came to the United States when I was only 9-months-old.  My family consisted of my mom and dad as well as two older brothers, age 6 and 4, also adopted from South Korea.  Approximately two years later, we met our sister at Logan airport who was 18-months-old when she arrived, also from South Korea, making a grand total of four children in our family unit.

Our mother’s family is French-Canadian and our father’s family is Italian.  We grew up in a small, very rural, New England town.  In a lot of ways my childhood was above average compared to my peers.  My siblings and I always had the latest and greatest toys and gadgets, we vacationed often, lived in a big house outside of town with lots of land and we even had a swimming pool on our property which if you remember being a kid, was one of the coolest things ever! So, all in all, pretty sweet.

The population in our area was pretty much all white.  My siblings and I were the only “non-white” kids in our school with the exception of the occasional foreign exchange student…that was always awkward, especially if they happened to be Asian of any kind…Or, I suppose there were also “fresh-air kids,” city kids, usually black, who got to experience living in the country for a summer with host families in the area.  Both of those scenarios were awkward for us, as people would always assume “minorities” go together, regardless if they were the same race, culture, etc.  I guess what people were really implying was all those who looked different (aka non-white) should be grouped together.  This mentality was especially difficult for us as adoptees because culturally we were exactly the same as our peers.  Unlike children of 1st or even 2nd generation immigrants who may speak a different language at home, eat different foods that are part of their culture or have different traditions, we were, for all intents and purposes, white.

Even though I grew up with three siblings who were in the exact same boat as me, I can’t remember ever talking about being Korean, or looking different from our friends, or even different from our parents and relatives.  This realization, now reflecting back, might seem like we had an unhealthy family dynamic or weak sense of self; however, I don’t think those were the reasons at all.  It’s not like we didn’t know we were adopted (we knew very early on for obvious reasons) and it’s not like we didn’t know we were different…we experienced racism and discrimination all the time.  I suppose we didn’t feel the need to acknowledge those who tried to tell us we were different or put us down because we knew we were just as American as the next kid and if people couldn’t see that then that was their problem.  We were “bananas” or “twinkies,” yellow on the outside and white on the inside 🙂

Now, with all that said, it doesn’t mean that my siblings and I weren’t sensitive to the fact that we “looked” Asian.  I can’t speak for them but I know that I was always very insecure about my appearance.  I attended university in NYC at the age of 18 where for the first time ever I was not the only minority in the classroom.

In my adult life, I feel I have made great strides in the identity department.  I am still the only “non-white” person in most rooms but am not nearly as self-conscious about my appearance.  Maybe this is a result of living in a more diversified area of the country or me just caring less about how others perceive me.  Either way, I’m proud of my New England roots as well as my Korean roots, and through the power of the internet I have enjoyed reading other Korean adoptees’ journeys so much so that I was inspired to start My New England Seoul.