Archive for the 'Family' Category

Mia Yumin Grabic

The night was short, the birth great! Our daughter was born today at 14:24 (with 53cm and 3900gr). Both mother and daughter are in good health. I ‘m taking a timeout now, attending to the new family member.

The Eagle Has Landed

IMG_2750 They say every voyage is an adventure – well, sometimes it’s more than that, it’s a thriller, too. Everything at home was prepared, bags packed, the apartment cleaned and most of our belongings already in boxes, ready for the move in June. We’re visiting the family in South Korea before that, May 23rd, KLM flight 1860, from Düsseldorf via Amsterdam to Incheon, departure time 16:25. We arrived at the airport about two hours before departure, everything seemed to go smooth. Almost everything. At the check-in counter, the ground staff gave us back my passport because it was invalid, I’m terribly sorry, but you can’t fly with this passport. Imagine the shock. Turns out, we’ve left my current, red passport at home and took the green, temporary one that expired in 2004. Next followed a speed race back home with a cab. The driver was sympathetic and used hidden Tunesian driving skills to get me home in a mere 15 minutes. I needed much longer to find the passport though, because, as mentioned above, everything was already packed and prepared for the move. The passport was found at last after a dozen boxes were opened and we were able to check-in 30 minutes prior to departure.

The exitement wasn’t over completely: The bus that took us to the airplane drove a few rounds around the air field, somebody else was a higher priority. As we found out, the police escorted a black prisoner to the airplane. He tried to resist against his extradition, kicked and screamed, fought with the guards. One of the police men had a wound over his right eye and lost his uniform badge on the right shoulder after they succeeded in seating him in the back of the machine. I don’t know what the reason for the extradition was, but he seemed very determined to oppose it in every possible way. He stopped screaming when we entered the airplane – it took us a few minutes to fold the buggy and hand it over to the ground personnel which is why we were last to board the prop airliner. The prisoner was kept in the last seat, closely watched by two male and one female guard. I remembered the deportation of a Sudanese refugee in ’99, who died of suffocation due to the restraints and the position he was forced to keep – the job to keep another person quiet and calm for even just an hour who doesn’t want to in a small airplane is unbelievably hard, the police officers today did a good job without having to resort to a harsh approach. I guess a few years ago I wouldn’t have thought this way, today my primary concern was how to calm down my son if the rioting should restart. It didn’t, and I was thankful for it.

IMG_2762 Shiphol Amsterdam for us was running again, from one gate to the other, since our plane was late. We hadn’t time to buy one or two presents we planned to, so we skipped that part. One advantage when you travel with infants: Everybody is nice to you, the ground personnel asked us into the VIP line for boarding, skipping a queue of a couple of dozen passengers. When we boarded the KLM Boeing 747 to Incheon, we finally had a feeling of relief. The 8563 kilometers in 9 1/2h were over rather quickly. One detail mentioning: If you’re on international flights with KLM, beware of the food. Ours was good, but the stuff they try to sell as children food is far from acceptable. White bread with sugar (the slice of cheese helps a little), a chocolate bar and a sweet beverage – better bring your own breakfast if you don’t want a hyperactive kid jumping on and off your lap for the rest of the flight.

IMG_2777After arriving at Incheon airport the next day we ate at “our” Japanese restaurant and took the bus to Daejeon (??, ??). Beside hitchhiking, there’s no cheaper way to travel the country. Plus, you get your own track on the expressway. It was Buddha’s birthday, but the roads were rather empty. From my first visit I can remember that on that day there’s no coming through. Three hours later, our family fetched us from the long distance bus station and we arrived at home, happily and exhausted. The welcome dinner was fabulous!

Today’s lesson: Double-check passports, tickets, money and key. Triple-check passports. Check once more. And again. Rinse, wash, repeat.


Little children are like a combination of a blank canvas and a sponge: Whatever you show them, they try it out, play with it, learn everything about it. After a while, they even start to develop a certain sense of humor. Jun is now … well, in the beginning, I used to know exactly how many days, then weeks or months he’s old, now I have to fall back on such great online tools as altersrechner:

1 Jahr, 4 Monate, 3 Wochen, 3 Tage, 11 Stunden, 35 Minuten
16 Monate, 3 Wochen, 3 Tage, 11 Stunden, 35 Minuten
73 Wochen, 1 Tag, 11 Stunden, 35 Minuten
512 Tage, 11 Stunden, 35 Minuten
12299 Stunden, 35 Minuten
737975 Minuten

Since he started to walk several months ago, the number of unbelievably interesting novelties that moved within his range rose exponentially. Things like knives in drawers, cups full to the brim with milk, juice or, if we’re lucky, just water, wall sockets, computer keyboards and last but not least the stove. We have a Bosch stove with irresistible switches: If you want to turn on a stovetop, first you have to push one of the switches to have it snap out of the stove and then turn the switch to the program or temperature you need. If the switch is set to a certain temperature, you can’t push it back in, only when it’s set to zero. This way to can stand far away and still see in a split-second whether the device is turned on or off. The snapping in and out is the eye-catcher here. Pushing it out and back in over and over again is a real time filler when you’re 16 months old. So, the provident parents that we are try to avert Jun from the stove and forbid him to touch the switches. If he tries to snap them out, we tell him not to do it and take his hand away from it. Most of the time, it now works just by telling him not to touch it (he’s scared by hot food so it’s not that difficult), but sometimes curiosity prevails. Today though, he found a way to please us and gratify his appetite: Instead of using the hands, he started pushing the switches with his head, grinning all over the face.

1st Birthday

IMG_1335It’s Jun’s first birthday! Looking back, the last twelve months went over so quickly. He starts to walk and talk, little by little, and it’s great to see his growing ability to interact with the people and objects around him. We’re in Korea since Oct 2nd, introducing him to the Korean half of the family. He gets along with everybody very smoothly, playing with his three cousins and his grandparents, his uncle and aunts. I’ll be staying in South Korea until Nov 2nd, Heejoo and Jun until Nov 30th. It’ll be hard without him for a whole month, but I already introduced skype to my sister-in-law and got her a webcam, so I hope we will have a few video calls in November. I still can remember that when I was 5 or so and alone with my mother in Croatia, my Dad wasn’t around for several weeks, I was afraid of the unfamiliar guy coming through the door one day.

p.s.: In a conversation with a friend, I realized that Jun’s initials are JPG (Jun Philipp Grabi?).

p.p.s.: I tried out Windows Live Writer for this post… curiosity killed the cat.


Yet Another Test Post. I bought a Flickr Pro Account per Paypal, it took me two minutes and the setting up of my WordPress blog in Flickr was simple. Great.

p.s.: Uploading works, although there’s an error message in Flickr – but I think I know where the error comes from. I’d also have to choose a category from within the blog. Well, nothing’s perfect, but it suits my needs.

Happy Birthday to me…

…I turned twenty-nine today.

Continue reading ‘Happy Birthday to me…’

Vlogging Commences

This is an attempt to see how WordPress and Google Video work together. Looks o.k., doesn’t it? I think I’ll add a few more over the time. This video is the first one I took just a few hours after Jun’s birth.

100 Days


Since spontaneous crib death was rampant in earlier centuries, Koreans started to celebrate the life (and survival) of every Korean baby that made it through the rough first 100 days. Nowadays, with the wonders of modern medicine and overall improvement of life conditions, the custom lost its original reason, but the celebration remained. Today, Jun is 100 days old, so, according to Korean tradition we prepared a rich table with rice, miyokguk (???), and fruits for Samshinhalmoni (?????). She’s the Korean version of the western storck you want to propitiate so your offspring can live happy ever after (the first 100 days). Actually, there’s supposed to be baekseolgi (???), a variation of steamed rice on the table, but the store where we ordered it, Kims Asia Shop at Stresemannstrasse, happened to forgot our order and had only a cheap excuse why they didn’t make it. Speaking of cheap, they’re one of the cheapest stores for Asian food in Düsseldorf, but you really have to be careful what you buy since they tend to overwrite the expiration date on their products. Jun slept though most of his 100th day, and I was so fortunate to get to eat everything we prepared for Samshinhalmoni. Oh happy day…

For the record, I didn’t get him the kitschy outfit, but he’s almost outgrown it anyway. At his fourth regular examination (U4) – the day before – the doctor said that with his 65cm and 6,850g he’s ambitiously scratching at the upper limit for normal growth.

Defying Gravity


It’s a peculiar feeling – on the one hand, you think, I knew this would happen sooner or later, on the other hand, it’s a huge surprise. As you can see on the picture, Jun is coming into his own. This afternoon he was holding his head up for the first time – but I wasn’t there! I had to work from 2 p.m. until late into the night, and I can only hope this is the last progress I’ll miss. Of course, there’ll be numerous other occasions where he’ll master the next step and I won’t be present. Note to myself: over 60% of all 400 pictures and videos I took so far (I know, I know, 400…) are blurred and darker pictures have so much noise, I desperately need a new camera. Any recommendations?

Continue reading ‘Defying Gravity’

Korean Birthdays

My kid has been born 80 days ago – but he is actually “two years old”. Sounds paradox? In Korea, children are “one year old” when they’re born, so that’s the first (calender) “year”. The second one comes from New Years Eve, since we have a new year, he just turned two. He looks younger though. 😉 Wikipedia explains it better than I could.

Jun now tries to imitate us when we talk to him, although it all sounds like aguuh, but I could be wrong, perhaps there are nuances I don’t hear. Anyway, there’s another couple that brings up their kid trilingually (Japanese, Polish and German), and it works out well, so there’re no worries about that anymore. His grip is getting stronger every day and his milk intake is at stunning 150-180ml every three or four hours, which accumulates to one sixth of his body weight! If I drank as much, I’d have to drown myself in 10 liters.

Funny encounter today: We were shopping at the Königsallee, when suddenly an old man approached me and asked with a startled face where did you get this baby from?. –It belongs to me, was the only answer I could come up passing by… this was the only time where people reacted in an odd way, everybody else is smiling and polite when they see a father with his baby in a carrier.

Happy New Year: 2006

Happy New Year

Cought Red-handed

Every parent has to go through this, I’m sure. A time comes when you have to find out something about your child you didn’t know before and certainly didn’t expect to, or not that early. As it just happened this evening, I went to the bedroom to look after Jun. The lights in the bedroom were dimmed. The door was half open, I sneaked inside and found him lying halfway hidden under the blanket on the bed. There he was, focused on himself and totally immersed in the act. It seems he felt unobserved and avariciously used the windows of opportunity when he was alone for a short time… it’s the first time he didn’t use his whole hand, but managed to find his thumb and suck on it alone. Two months and five days old, I didn’t expect him to use his fingers and thumbs that well before christmas.

Two Months

Jun is now two months, twelve hours and twelve minutes old. He’s been fun to take care of so far. About the sleep deprivation that’s scaring off most young people when they start thinking about kids, I have to say I pretty much got used to it.
A few days ago I’ve met Alex, a good old friend from school times who came over from Ireland to visit friends and family. Her husband, David, asked what’d the biggest difference between being having a baby and having none be. Beside the aforementioned point, it’s something you usually don’t read about in books about parenting. Never in my life I had to put up with so much excrement. All a baby does is sleeping, eating (actually drinking) and filling diapers while growing so fast you can almost feel the difference from one day to the other. In the first weeks, you change diapers seven to eight times a day, now it’s about five to six times, tendency dropping. But then, like with the sleep deprivation, you get used to it fairly quickly. Back to the difference having or not having a baby. Before, we had comparatively lots of time, even more than was good for us since we’re both students. Looking back I wonder how ineffective I spend my days since now the center of our lives is this little baby, asking for 100% attention, love and breast-milk – but we still manage to get everything done. About social life being limited by parental duties, I’d have to say if you’re focusing on your family and your family alone, you can do that, but nobody pressures you to do so. If we were visiting friends before more often, now we invite them over, and it works just as well.

The little guy grows for about two and a half centimeters per month and gains between 150-200 grams a week. In Germany, you have regular check-ups for babies, six of them in the first year. We had three so far and now he’s at 58 centimeters and almost 6 kilograms. Some of the clothes he wore at the beginning are too small now – luckily we almost didn’t buy anything but got most of his stuff by friends and family (1001 thx to everybody!). In a recent discussion with an American living in Germany for quite a while now, I mentioned some of the benefits parents recieve for their first kid and how medical care is still free for children. He was surprised, a good social net is quite welcome when it’s needed and recieved by the right persons – but it also needs to be upheld by the whole society. Germany is going to change much more compared to the incremental reforms we witnessed in the last decade, I really hope the new social structure is not going to be a plain “everybody fights for himself”.

Back to Jun: He started to respond to sounds and answers when being addressed to. It’s not more than single vowels (and “aguu”), but we’re slowly getting there. I also was surprised when he joined in waving goodbye towards the white paper sea-gull above our bed. How does he percieve the sea-gull, does he understand why we wave? Self-perception is another point I’m dying to find out about. We’re sometimes holding him towards a huge mirror. Usually he’s only aware of mine or Heejoo’s presence, he’s started to look at himself as well. His reactions so far were: surprise, laughter, amazement and startled in no particular order. Can’t wait until he understands that who he sees there is really him and not some other surprised, laughing, amazed or startled baby.

We haven’t been much outside with him as the weather was bad as usual for this time of the year, but when we did, I prefer the baby sling over the baby car anytime. Carrying him is easier than cruise around with his car, it feels great to have him close and it’s even healthy for his development, the hip angle can be improved by carrying him in the sling, if neccessary. There’s another difference when walking around with him – people often look or smile and are friendlier and by far more helpful, whereas when we’re walking down the street alone, I noticed that there’s a tendency to not look and just walk by as if there were nobody. I’m used to look my counterpart into the eyes out of curiosity, a habit I had to regain after coming back from Japan. Returning to Germany, all those people who stared when talking to me were a vexing, but temporary experience…

Jun just woke up, more about him later.

One Month


Blogging resumes today, there’s a lot to write about. Our son is alive’n’kickin’, enjoying food and shelter and “being here” in general. In the beginning, he had troubles with jaundice which is why we ended up three times in hospital, but he’s o.k. now. All in all, I think we’ve been lucky so far, since he’s usually calm and his rhythm is fairly stable keeping us busy every three to four hours (for an hour and a half). We bought cloth diapers because disposables are prohibitedly expensive – we use them overnight though, Jun seems to be sleeping better that way and the combination is easy on our strained financial situation.

The birth and the first few days we didn’t really have the time to think about everything. Your life changes, a lot. Since we have many friends who are older than we are and have kids, we heard stories from them, what changes, sometimes we got a little glimps during visits and the such – but to be honest, nobody and nothing prepares you for such drastic changes in thinking, prioritization, life-style – even goals that were important before are moot now. To give one example, for years I’m looking forward to get a job in the foreign ministry or do a comparable job, at the United Nations, a political foundation and the like. Moving from one country every four years seemed like an advantage and even desirable, despite having had the chance to talk to officials in the foreign ministry in Croatia and South Korea, who warned me that their colleagues have difficulties to reconcile their job with family life. Now, I’m not so sure whether it is not better to have just a safe job – let’s say, working for the state, the city of Düsseldorf or maybe the feds in any position. Since every job holds more or less fascinating aspects, I’m sure that the position itself and location is secondary (as long as it is not ever changing) – I’m convinced I can have a great time with any job since all jobs and internships I did so far were in their way interesting. So, that leaves me with a new priority list, and it is still changing. I’m curious what’s going to happen tomorrow with that list…

We decided to raise Jun trilingually. I’m using my first mother tounge, Croatian, Heejoo will use Korean. One year before kindergarden, we’ll start with German. That’s how I learned it, too, and although I almost couldn’t speak when I first went to kindergarden, it wasn’t an issue three months later. Note to myself: I need a Croatian dictionary. 🙂

I know from my time in Zagreb two years ago that there are already Croatian-Korean couples with kids, so we’re definitely not the first to try this out, but since we talk in German with each other this is almost an experiment. I’d like to talk to a professional about children’s language development, perhaps one of my professors at the university can give me a hint where to start looking.

Question of the day: What makes babies laugh in their sleep?

Jun Philipp Grabi?

Dear family, friends, fellow students, colleagues, supporters and allies,
I can joyfully report that on October 14th 2005 our first son Jun Philipp was born in Marienhospital, Düsseldorf after approximately 12 hours of exhausting labor pains. I cut the umbilical cord at 12:00 a.m., heir and mother are in good health. The baby’s length is 53 cm and weighs 3,790 gr, but take a first look yourself. I’ll post more pictures in the days to come – and I have to apologize for light blogging and scarce social attendence in advance.