Last Post Here

…but lucky for us it’s not the last post EVER!

After months of radio silence, I am finally ready to get back on the blogging horse. Have decided to start fresh with a new site for a new time. Needless to say Seoul Searching doesn’t quite fit with all the latest happenings in our oh-so-average-American life in the Pacific Northwest.

Sadly, I can’t promise you the excitement that was our day to day life in Korea. However, I can promise you that we have exciting things coming our way. If you enjoyed keeping up with us in Asia, I will do my best to try to make keeping up with us in America worth your while. The bottom line is, I need you back in my life and I’m willing to do what it takes. I have missed you all so very much…

Click here to start following our newest adventures.

Just in case the URL is http://thechoqs.com/.

Hope to see you on the other side! XXOO.

Note: I didn’t mean to make it a private blog! I think I fixed it, but if you have trouble accessing it, let me know!

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Seoulmates

Note: A special thanks to Facebook for the pictures. Another one to my friends for not minding that I stole your Facebook images. I love you all.

I cannot bid a final farewell to our Seoul Searching adventures without first sharing my deep appreciation for the people who filled our lives so very full while we were far away from home.

Without a doubt these folks have now become our friends for life. Somehow having them there with us made being in Asia seem normal – or if not normal they could at least confirm just how abnormal it all was.  The best part about the relationships we made is that they were sticky and they were fast. The circumstances that brought us all together bonded us so quickly it was as if we had been friends for years after just a few simple engagements. I didn’t realize how incredible it was when it was happening, but now that it’s over we couldn’t miss them more.

Without further ado, I give you our dearest Seoulmates…

Jon and Amber were the first to welcome us to Korea. We had met them in Chicago before we made the big move and they moved to Seoul 6 months before we arrived. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without them those first few weeks. They literally put us up while we waited for our furniture to arrive and made sure to share every last tip of just how to adjust to this crazy new city.

Just down the street they were such a big part of our time overseas. One of the best parts was getting to watch their family grow. Amber had 2 beautiful babies in the 2 years we spent as neighbors – Lincoln and Anora we love you.

The next couple we met was Lauren and Andrew. Lauren and I instantly connected. With same-named boyfriends how could we not?  So while the Andrews went to work (and developed their own special bromance) we explored the city and took one unforgettable roadtrip to the country. Always up for anything, I literally cannot count how many nights-that-eventually-became-early-mornings we spent together out and about in Seoul.

Alyssa was the next to share her Seoul with us. From the Midwest, she seriously made entertaining in Asia seem like it was no big thing (which trust me – it is not even close to easy). Single, sassy, and smart; she has a huge heart and had a beautiful apartment hosting several of the best parties – always with a spread that seemed like it should be impossible given our location on the map.

Just like Alyssa’s parties – and one of my favorites – our good friend Kelly was a one of a kind. Being a single American girl in Asia isn’t exactly like being a single American girl – in say – Italy or France. Kelly’s sense of humor and wit could keep you laughing for days and I admired her for making waves wherever she went. She brought the lovey-dovey drunk out of me almost every time.

Speaking of drunk – I’m pretty sure Sameer is in this picture (far right) hahaha – oh the fun we all had together at GSG events. Sameer was another addition that arrived in Seoul at the same time as we did and you could always count on him to have a smile on his face and something funny to say. Easy breezy Sameer-shi.

And then there is Carlos and sweet sweet Marina. From Europe, they brought sophistication and good manners to the group. Marina and I took unforgettable belly dancing classes (which really deserved its on post but I never got pictures!) together while Carlos and Andrew played a lot of screen golf. They really are one of the loveliest couples I have ever met. Really.

We also cannot forget Nana and Steve – Andrew’s work partners who 100% spent more time with him than me.  These guys made Choq’s insane schedule and workload a little easier to bare – not to mention they never blew my cover when I showed up for a top-secret visit. Friends for life.

Charu (Nana’s wife) cooked delicious Indian food on many occasions when we were all in town and she was my special friend who understood like no one else just how much my husband was away. We did hot-yoga-in-Korean-with- Koreans and stuck out like sore thumbs; the only girls in the room who couldn’t tie themselves in knots.

Speaking of co-workers we must not forget my very favorite friend Sue. Sue (who got her own post at least once) made a world of difference in my days at Samsung and the friendship we share is unlike any I’ve ever had. Very much alike from very different places, she taught me so much about what makes a friend a friend and was absolutely the best keepsake from Korea. XO.

Then there was Tom (he is on the stage in the picture – cannot believe this is the best I can do) who was my most prized colleague at Samsung. He was from France and together we made up the only foreigners on our team. He helped me make sense of the Korean work culture AND he made me laugh every single day.

Kathy and Eric and Ed and Jen.

These couples came to Seoul months and months after we arrived so we didn’t get to spend as much time with them but not for lack of wanting. It is rare as a couple to meet another couple and have everyone seem to click immediately as a team. We could have made it to the Olympics with these folks if we had more time, instead we settled for some really REALLY great nights together.

Ayelet and Gary were in the same crew and deserve the same love + a little extra. Ayelet was the last to arrive in Seoul and we barely had 9 months together, but she stole my heart on day one. We had a lot of free time together and some of my favorite 4 hour lunches ever. From our obsession with love of Oprah to our hard-to-control curls, we were simply meant to be. And Gary gets an extra shout out because being from Portland, he is now not only a good friend but one who has introduced us to some really great new friends in the Pacific NW. Amaze.

Last but not least, we have the Kadish Family. I’m not sure if it’s the way I came to know the Kadishes or the fact that Sarah was more like a guardian angel than a friend on several occasions, but I think it’s safe to say that Mike and Sarah define the word Seoulmates.  Connecting with me through reading my blog (steal my heart) for the months leading up to their big move to Korea, Sarah and I were somewhat like pen pals before we met. When we finally did, it took about an hour and a bottle of wine to know that we were a good fit. Sarah was the one who was with me when I was diagnosed with the brain tumor and she has been with me through so much of my fertility struggles. I honestly do not know what I would do without her – not then and not now. Words can’t quite cover it…

Big I-miss-you-all sigh.

Making friends is one of life’s greatest gifts and we were definitely spoiled in Korea. I just want to say to my dearest Seoulmates –  of all the places and all the faces, nothing will ever look quite like the time we shared in Asia together. Thanks for being such incredibly special human beings and for making our Seoul experience so rich. Know that each and every one of you has a place with the Choquettes whether you are near or far. Please visit. Stay in touch. And never forget all the fun we had.

Portlanding

Note: April!?! Clearly I cannot seem to stay on task as of late – and it’s not just with the blog. I won’t make any excuses this time nor any promises moving forward. All I can say is fertility treatments are no joke and they take a lot out of you both physically and emotionally. Amen. 

So besides the I’ll-do-anything-anyone-tells-me-to-get-pregnant-even-if-its-borderline-bizarre-or-plain-old-crazy just what is it that has been keeping us so busy? I’m finally ready for a little recap. Here’s a look into our Portlanding and the last few months.

On the checked off list:

  • Find a temporary apartment while we figure out something more permanent
  • Move into said apartment
  • Put almost everything into storage because temporary apartment is small and temporary
  • Have wedding gifts (WHOO-HOO-HALLELUJAH) shipped from MI and add them to storage
  • Complete 12 credits of pre-requisites needed for graduate program at Portland Community College
  • Graduate school interviews and eventual acceptances at 2 schools! Made final decision. Yes to University of Portland. No to Pacific University. Was a tough call but I’m thrilled with the program at UPortland which will begin in late June
  • Buy 2 cars (yes 2 – ouch) and spend several hours at the DMV on several occasions
  • Begin aggressive fertility treatments because it’s our next step in getting to baby
  • Make new friends
  • Enjoy being back in America and all the wonders that comes with it – including but not limited to – drinkable tap water, half and half, Hoda and Kathy Lee, an US Weekly subscription, Target, Whole Foods, Bar Method, a new juicer, a few great weekends with some family and old friends and a bowling league with new ones

It took no time for us to fall in love with this city. It’s the perfect size – not too big and not too small. It seems a bit hidden and a little sleepy but also full of great energy. The people are friendly and everything is green.  Not to mention, the food is out of this world. I’ll say that bit again because it’s not an exaggeration – the food is out of this world. There are organic/green/healthier options of almost everything – from dinner to decompressing  – making my pregnancy pursuit and our transition to life back in the States all the more delightful. It seems to be the perfect place for us to have landed.

Unfortunately, I haven’t documented as much as I would have liked, but did manage to scrounge up a few photos to share of last few months.

Our place:

It’s literally one floor above the temporary apartment Nike provided our first 2 months. It’s small but located right in the heart of the Pearl (one of Portland’s favorite neighborhoods downtown-ish) and the location makes up for the limitations of the space.

When our shipment arrived from Korea, it was hardly the moving crew that saw us off. Instead a few tough guys that smelled like stale cigarettes and took ten times longer than Team Korea shuffled our things in – welcome back to America.

The hardest part was the reality that awaited in the boxes they left behind.

Remember how much I gloated about our last day in Seoul? Well, there are absolute downsides to not packing yourself (or preparing a thing before someone else packs you). In the 95 boxes that arrived, at least 25% could have stayed in Asia including empty shampoo bottles AND one bag of actual kitchen trash (ew). Not to mention, NOTHING was labeled making the whole process like one big puzzle. Open, un-pack, sort, re-pack, repeat.

It seemed to take an eternity but we eventually made it work. With not even close to enough closet space or character for my liking, the apartment is getting the job done for now. We are looking to move (yes AGAIN) in June. I can almost feel our unwrapped wedding gifts in my fingers and see the pictures on our wall. Someday very soon.

Until then, we are making the best of it and keeping things as simple as possible.

Sometimes I feel like I have been waiting to settle in my entire life. We’re like the couple who gets to keep being newlywed FOREVER.

Speaking of, we celebrated our second anniversary a few months back with gold bangles (one for each year + one for the wedding day – a new tradition for us).

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have Andrew in my life. He continues to get better as my better half and has been incredible through the last few months…almost as good as my bowling score last week.

See that M?

We have joined a bowling league and every Wednesday The Bowling Stones give it their all at Hollywood Bowl. There are 3 other couples (all relatively new to Portland too) and it’s been so much fun. Just in case you can’t read it – I scored a 184 last week. I think maybe the hormones are doing more than stimulating my ovaries. Speaking of hormones…

…some people buy a bottle of champagne or perhaps some new lingerie when it’s time to get pregnant. We buy drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

Drugs and a juicer.

This has probably been the best discovery of my infertility journey.

For the past 6 weeks –  in addition to acupuncture, diet changes, meditation, yoga, and a lot of please God please –  we have been juicing and I’m in love.

Until the wine returns, I’m happy to settle for a little green in my glass.

So there it is. Our Portlanding. AND proof that I’m not just holed up back in America on our ugly Korean couch watching reality TV (although there has been plenty of that) and feeling sorry for myself that we couldn’t make a baby the easy way while no longer living an international life jetting from place to place. In all honesty, there are certainly things I wish could be different, but nothing in this very moment I feel like I can change. In other words, I’m allowing myself to be on this journey and trusting that where it leads us will be exactly where we needed to end up.

Lots of love and miss. XO.

Special Agent Choquette

I am a lot of things, but a special agent you ask? Well almost…

As I sit down to share this post, I’m having a hard time believing that this really was my life 6 months ago. Maybe it’s the dark hair (I’m getting blonder by the minute) or the fact that things have changed so drastically since, but uploading these photos was a bit surreal. From globe-trotter to community college-r, it’s been nothing short of a wild transition.

Like My Shanghai Secret, my incredible visit to Moscow had to be kept under wraps.  MOSCOW! Taking spouses along on a business trip was frowned upon at Samsung, but quite frankly having your husband away more than he is home wasn’t exactly making me all smiles SO we compromised.  Unlike my visit to Shanghai, the hotel Andrew stayed at in Moscow was swarming with Korean men in suits. Because of this and being a child of the 1980s when Russia was SCARY, I spent the week feeling a bit like a top-secret-spy-special-agent.

Ok – so maybe I don’t look much like a spy, but I certainly felt like one.

Moscow was beautiful. The golden onion domes seemed to fill the sky every which way you looked.

My first full day there was a Saturday so Andrew and I explored the city together visiting the Kremlin and Red Square.

It was mid-July so it was absolutely gorgeous and SO sunny.

And everywhere we went there seemed to be a bride.

What a perfect day to get married.

Weddings make you feel good no matter where you are in the world.

They seem to fill you up with hope.

And they have a way of being just a little bit tacky no matter what.

Best part – they make you love the one your with just a little extra.

Brides aside, I loved all the people in Moscow. I just found myself engrossed in everyone we came across.

These soldiers seemed so young. It was hard not to think about the World Wars and imagine just what that looked like all those years ago.

I always envisioned Russian military to be so harsh and evil, but these guys don’t look so bad. Right?

The grounds of the Kremlin were gorgeous and in full bloom.

The Red Square was people watching heaven.

We met some top-secret allies for lunch.

And goofed around in the Square after a few pints.

You should see how many attempts it took to get these right.

This one was easier.

The world is such a fascinating place. I feel so lucky to have seen so much it. Since we were in Russia and it was mid-summer it stayed this light until nearly midnight. Can you imagine??

Day #2 we decided to visit Lenin’s tomb then venture to a flea market to find some Russian nesting dolls – the colorful ones that stack inside one another – amongst other things.

Lenin’s tomb was weird. We were forbidden to take photos and had to wait in line for more than an hour (you can see it in the pic above) to walk through in complete silence in under a minute. He looked just like this photo I am stealing from Google images. As if time has stood still since his death in 1924. It is someone’s job to keep him preserved – they have to wipe him down with chemicals like regularly. Ew.

Anyway. It was worth the experience, but I had way more fun going to the market.

Being the world travelers that we are we decided to take the subway there. Taxi cabs (and everything else) in Moscow are REALLY expensive or they are really shady (like you just hail any old car driving down the street for a ride – those are called gypsy cabs).

There was zero English in the station so we had to take our English map and put it next to a Russian map and then try to match the words on the signs all the while trying not to look like tourists as Moscow tends to be a little rough and tumbly. I’m pretty sure after I snapped the shot above Andrew told me to put it away and stop looking so obvious. What seemed like a few high-stress hours later we arrived.

And it was well worth all the trouble.

We shopped for a few hours.

And bought some nesting dolls and several amazing antique prints.

I later had these framed and they turned out great.

And how cute are the dolls?

All shopped out, we settled into a lovely lunch of delicious street food.

The food in Russia is so yummy.

And not exactly light 😉 They put sour cream on everything. My kind of place.

We took our time making it last.

Another successful day.

Then an amazing evening of ballet at the Bolshoi! We didn’t bring our camera so I only had my phone but the theater and the ballerinas were breathtaking. I seriously have never seen more beautiful women in my life. Between the dancers and the attendees, it was like a Victoria Secret runway.

My date was pretty handsome too ♥ He said he barely noticed the other girls…

We went to dinner late after the ballet and ate in a famous aristocratic (pre-communist) restaurant where we feasted like czars in an ornate library. Unforgettable and unfortunately un-captured on film.

Hmm…

..why is it that I don’t get the good stuff, but I have pictures of my dirty feet?

I’m pretty sure I took that because I wanted to show Choq. Proof that while he was at work I was out walking.

And walk I did. (Note: look at how large that gate is!)

Because the train was scary enough with Andrew, I opted to do all my solo sightseeing on foot.

And the weather was beautiful so I just took my time taking it all in.

It’s funny because I look like I could be Russian more than I look like I could be Asian, so I was more nervous here than in most places to be on my own. I felt like I had to stay very alert.

I remember seeing those cops and being afraid. Not sure of what.

Then I would see something like this and forget all about being by myself in a very foreign place. Wow.

And while my Russian friends from Seoul warned me that Moscow-ites are some of the rudest people on the planet (maybe that is why I felt scared?), I never had any problems.

I even managed to have some fun 😉

Posting 6 months later is a bit tough because I lose bits and pieces that I probably thought I just had to write about so I would never ever forget.

Posting 6 months later is also an amazing distraction from where I sit today and a good way to feel grateful for all the things I have experienced in my life, including a top secret undercover trip to Russia.

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend. XO.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

That has been the question.

When we arrived here 3 months ago, I had a plan in place to finish up this Seoul Searching adventure by the new year-ish so I could send my archives off to be printed in a book  (how cool is that?) or two for us to keep. Then I thought I’d start a new blog with a pregnancy (duh) and it would become something our little family could continue for years to come.  Plan: failed.

Sigh.

As we have embarked on this infertility journey there are so many of those bloggable moments when I find myself in an unfamiliar place doing something that feels really ridiculous. It’s surprisingly close to life in Asia ;). However, I’m still not 100% convinced people want (or need) to be updated on all of it. And even more, I have a hard time posting about anything else because THAT is what is going on in my life.

Does that make sense?

Here’s the thing about infertility – it’s a game changer. It’s super intense, often a little funny and almost always challenging both physically and emotionally AND it feels like it has to be a secret. It’s also something that I could very well be dealing with for a mere season or a FEW MORE YEARS and our babies (yes I still want several) could be a long way from coming home. You add that recipe to my life and I’m at a loss. I want to be able to stay connected with my blogging community and I feel cheated by isolating myself from it – it’s  just one more way this whole ordeal has impacted my life and it doesn’t feel fair. At the same time, how can I post if I can’t say what’s really on my mind? Isn’t that the beauty of blogging?

Because we are in such a transition from there to here, I can’t just throw myself into blog worthy and socially acceptable things like decorating a new home (we are still in a temporary apartment) or getting involved in the community. For now, and until grad school starts in late June (hooray!), my life is all consumed with F-E-R-T-I-L-I-T-Y.

Anyway. Where am I going with all this?

I have to finish what I started here. I have to. We had an incredible two years overseas and I want to wrap it up as the gift it was in our life and marriage. I’m like 5-10 posts from it so it would be absolutely silly not to get’er done. However, in doing so (fair warning) I also may have to sprinkle some of the reality that is my life now because the last thing I want to do is sugarcoat my last few months. Life is not a fairytale. Sure there is a lot of good and even a bit of evil, but there is not always a happily ever after perfect moment to say “The End” which was really what I was hoping for here.

If it KILLS me, March will be the month that I accomplish the grande finale of my beloved blog. Whether or not I have another one in my future is yet to be seen, but I deserve to have this experience end on a high note. Hopefully I haven’t lost too many of you these last few months. I promise to give you some fun final posts in the coming days. Keep coming back. XO.

My Shanghai Secret

Without a doubt I consider myself a trustworthy person who can keep things in confidence when it is important. However, I am the first to admit that it is SO hard for me to keep the fun stuff a secret. By nature I am a oversharer of all things and if given the opportunity to spill some beans, I take it and run.

Because of this, it is with great pride that I give you my Shanghai Secret.

EIGHT-mouth-shut-months later I am in the clear to share my surprise trip to visit Andrew in China for his 33rd. Because the birthday boy was in Shanghai for work, I snuck a quick visit to make sure we celebrated it the right way – together.

This was my inaugural visit to China and while Andrew worked, I roamed the sweltering streets of Shanghai taking it all in. The city was different from Seoul.

It had the incredibly modern skyline that Asia fosters so well…but it also had a French colonial skyline across the river making it the most european and romantic version of Asia I had ever seen.

It was seriously hard to figure out just where in the world I was…except for the smog which was a dead give away.

And the matching lovebirds.

Oh how I miss the days of matching lovebirds…

Speaking of lovebirds, we had a great weekend filled with all things Shanghai. We took the double-decker bus (I have no shame of my love for the double-decker tour guides) so we could cover a lot of ground,

and let the English audio guide us through the city.

We hopped on and off.

Shopped.

And took in all things China;

along with a few things American in China fashion.

It was a great day,

in a great city,

with the best guy.

After a full day and some hot-pot, we finished off with midnight birthday massages.

You have to love China for their 24/7 spas with cheap services AND the fact that they never have the right size for Andrew no matter what. He is such a good sport,

and this post was worth every bit of the wait – Happy Shanghai Secret!

High Five

This week has been crazy. Life back in America is crazy.

Speaking of crazy…

I think it’s only appropriate to dedicate a quick post to the one I’m crazy for. Five years ago this week I met Andrew. It was a bitter cold night in Chicago and most likely the only time in my life I will ever be grateful for subzero Lake Michigan winds.

Thanks to those frigid temps and not being able to make it all the way to where he was going without stopping to warm up, Andrew walked into my life that night. We only spoke for a few minutes but I distinctly remember waking up the next morning thinking that this cutest boy ever in the cubs hat man was going to change my life. And he did. 5 days later, we had our first date and never looked back.

Life is full of surprises and meeting someone like Andrew was not something I ever expected to happen to me. Well, I take that back. Meeting someone like Andrew is not all that crazy. BUT having someone like Andrew fall in love with me despite just how crazy I can be is where the how-in-the-world-could-I-ever-be-so-lucky part comes in. Even more, the fact that he now, five years later, gets my crazy makes it all the more amazing.

With every challenging moment we have faced I have never doubted if we were in this together. Whether it’s “um is this balloon going to crash into an Egyptian cornfield?” or “how in the world will we ever make our family grow?”, I never have to even consider figuring it out on my own. Our partnership is such an amazing and powerful gift in my life. And it only keeps giving.

Oh my dear sweet Choq. Hive Five to you. Thanks for being the one. Not a day has passed in the last five years that I do not feel a deep appreciation for the things you bring to my life. You are the softest of places in this prickly world.