Wednesday, April 25, 2012

love is a good thing (and it inspires such fashion)

We love how the Korean couples wear matching outfits for special trips or occasions.
When you go to an amusement park you see all the young couples matching.
Jacob told his girlfriend that he wanted to get matching outfits before he
moved and go to Everland together (think Disney/ magic mountain/zoo).
She died laughing because she is half Korean and has lived here her whole life.
You know how you think it is so normal until you see an outside perspective.

But the end all be all was when Dave and I went to Thailand last May.
We were on a midnight flight on a Sunday night, so you got there in the morning.
So, let's just say that every couple that got married that weekend was there.
I seriously have never seen anything like this.  
We walked on the plane and the entire plane was couples with matching outfits.
A big plane.  The ones with three rows across.
I always wait until last to board so I don't have to stand and wait in line forever,
and then sit on the plane longer (I'm a princess like that. ha).

So when we walked on the plane, it was full.  It was like a "Sadie Hawkins" dance
from my high school days all taking a trip to Thailand together.  
Do you know what that is?  A girl ask guy dance that is western themed.  
 The girl buys matching shirts for both of them to wear.  Is that just a So. Cal. thing?
But this went way beyond Sadie Hawkins. 

Everyone had different themes and styles.  I wish I could have taken pictures of each
couple.  (be the dance photographer. ha).
They were all so fun and clever.  Some were so amazingly elaborate.
Hats, shoes, socks, sweatshirts, whatever....all matching.
With everything from sport team themes to Ralph Lauren linen looks that
weren't perfectly matching, but color coordinated.  You could see
each girls personality in their ensembles.  Because you know it isn't the 
guy who planned this all out. ha.  Although, you never know with Korea.
The men are really into looks and dress here.  A little too feminine for my taste at times.

I wanted so bad to take a picture when we walked on the plane, but it was full like
I said and everyone was staring at us.
I had to content myself with the few I took of some of the last couples boarding.
I just pretended I was playing with the ISO on my camera. ha.
There was one other older Caucasian couple already seated 
on the plane as we got on. 
When we walked by them I said, "Oh, you didn't get the memo either?"
(in reference to the matching outfits).
They laughed and knew exactly what I meant.

so here are just a few.

Dave and I swore that next trip we would get some outlandish matching outfit.
We laughed for a long time thinking of different ideas.
Any ideas?????  We need them quick.  You know why?  Remember how I said that
I was going to work on getting back to Thailand? smile.
Well, I am a good worker. 

My sister flys in tomorrow night and then we all leave Friday night for Thailand.
We are going to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
We are super excited. We like to give reasons why we need to travel (smile)
  So our excuse for this trip is.......
 Jacob's last hurrah with our family!  His graduation party trip!
Good idea right?  
I would be sad if he were really leaving right away for school. But it
is like I qualified for bonus time on a video game-extended play time!
and I couldn't be happier.
I get my Jakie for one more year.  Both of my boys will be home.
Oh so cozy, and in Italy.  I just don't think it can get any better than that.
I say that a lot don't I?  What can I say? I truly love and value every day of my life.
My sister asked me today if I am excited for the trip.  I replied that I hadn't 
even thought of it yet because I just live for the excitement of the next day.
Every day there is so much to look forward to.
So much enjoyment to be had.
Don't waste a day.

This was especially driven home to me this past month.
Our friend, husband to wonderful woman, and dad to three of the greatest 
kids that are best friends with my kids, went in on a Monday April 2nd to the ER 
with stomach pains.
Dave had to read his CT scan where he found that there were masses
all over his body.  From the time he was in the ER he wasn't coherent.
He was immediately transferred to the hospital where things got worse.
Hemorrhaging in the brain before they even had a firm diagnosis.
We were helping out with the kids while his wife had to be at the 
hospital 24/7 to care for him.  You have to do that in Korean hospitals.
They miraculously were able to get him stable enough to medevac
him to the states to be closer to family.
I just found out that he passed away today, only three weeks later.
Never having even known he had cancer, or being able to say goodbye to his beautiful family.
My heart is aching for them.  He just turned 35 last week.

I didn't mean to write all that. I wasn't planning on it.
It just weighs so heavy on my heart.
So I repeat, enjoy every single day, every moment of this life with the ones you love.
Every day is so very precious.  Such a gift.

I know that this life isn't the end.  I know that. and that gives me great comfort and peace.
But it doesn't stop you from wondering why now, and grieving such a loss.
Only that can you receive from God and the Holy Ghost, and it takes time.
I've prayed a lot this month for just that for them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DMZ- stands for demilitarized zone

Here we are!  On a cold November day.  minus Ammon, who is too young for the tour.
This was pretty amazing to see. A must if you come to Korea.
You see, they have found four tunnels built by the North Koreans all leading to Seoul. Crazy.
Who knows how many more there are.  That's a scary thought.
Isn't it crazy how close Seoul the biggest South Korean city is to the DMZ? 
 It is hard to believe we live, work, play in such comfort while just a few miles away 
these poor people live such a different life of suffering and oppression.

You can walk down the tunnel, but our tour included the tram down.
I am not so sure that was a bonus.
If you are claustrophobic you will definitely want to skip this one.
I am a little, but I fought through it. ha.
These tunnels are so deep down it is amazing and small.
We had to bend over to not hit our heads most of the time.
Only the older ajimas could walk upright. ha.
Do you like the hats we had to wear?  You needed them.

Look at the entrance to the tunnel.  This was the widest opening.  You should have seen all
the big and tall Americans in there.  You are rubbing the side walls and having to duck it is so low in places.  Only in Asia.  I love how things don't have to be to American codes. ha.
(more on that later. smile)
Anyway, it was quite the trip down.  Then you walk down the tunnel to where they barricaded the walk to the North Korean side of the country.

This picture was in the information center.  There was a lot of cool information, history, and relics to see.  For more amazing pictures inside the tunnel and explanations about each one go here

close by is Dorasan station.  There is this brand new huge subway stop, that goes 
quite a few stops into North Korea.  It operated for a very short time. Steps
were made toward reunification, but North Korea is well........crazy.
I bought a train ticket.  You know, for when they are up and running again.

Freedom bridge at sunset.  It was amazing.
and emotional.
These pictures that were hanging on the wall by the bridge were some of the most 
heartbreaking that i have ever seen.
You really have to read those books I suggested.  They are so good!
(Taken from the bus window on our ride home.)  
They still man and patrol the entire boundary and all along the river. Not a fun job. 
 Especially in the cold.  BRRR.  Seoul has that wet go right through you kind of cold.

Seoul looked so melancholy on the way home, just like I was feeling.
While I am sad for North Korea's hunger and oppression.  They still do 
have families.  Which equals love.  They enjoy a much simpler life.  Life is a struggle, 
but it is simple.  Most of the North Koreans who have defected to South Korea say they 
would not leave N. Korea if they could go back in time. They struggle with the guilt of 
leaving family (and what probably happened to their family. death or concentration camps).
They are overwhelmed by the complexity of this modern world that is
so foreign to them.  They have an extremely difficult transition.
They go through a 6 month program provided by the government here to 
be able to function and to undo all the brain washing.
Plus their educations aren't to the modern standards, and they struggle for jobs.
They also are smaller due to malnutrition.
So many things. So hard. But if anyone can make a reunification work, 
it is the Koreans.


this is a satellite picture of Korea at night.  The south is all lit up with a large concentration
in Seoul.  Then look at the North.  Nothing.  It is almost completely dark
except for the capitol city.  No electricity.
I really hope the light of freedom comes to them soon.

 Until then, I think Jacob might just have to take his turn on border control. ha.

Ok, so it is 1:10am, and there have been loud planes, bugle calls, sirens, and artillery fire all night.
Yes, it is an exercise.  I don't think Ammon should ever join the army.  If he were 
ever in a real battle, he might just sleep through it.
It seems like we should feel unsafe here, but I have never felt safer in my life. 

Bedtime.  Tomorrow bright and early we are going to the Italian embassy
to get our visas!  I hope dave is driving. ha.

Buona notte cari amici!

Monday, April 23, 2012

my precious blondies

this picture puts a big smile on my face.
and makes me really happy.
Taken at the portland zoo circa 2002.
look at my babies, and their sweet sweet faces!!!
and all that white hair!
How did i ever get so mad with them? ha ha.
(i start having panic attacks when i read my journal from that time period. seriously. smile)
How did i handle so many littles all at once?
It looks easy when I see this picture, but I know it WAS NOT!
But joyful all the same.  Look at their bright spirits shining!
Makes me want to color coordinate all my girls outfits again.

PS-DMZ tomorrow, i promise (kinda).  It is too heavy to get into at 11:17pm.
until tomorrow.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

must reads about korea.

This is one of the most amazing true life stories I have ever read.
You will come to truly love and appreciate Korean culture, and
their amazing strength as a people.  They are a very special people.
You absolutely have to read this book.

This is the sequel to "Still Life with Rice"
not as good (well written), but you will want to know what happens to this family.

But read this one first, before the sequel.
This book had me so worked up.
You will not be able to believe that a place like North Korea exists
in this modern world of ours.
It is absolutely ridiculous!
If I could take down their leader by myself today, i would.  With no regrets.
It is so very wrong what is happening.
I feel like the time is getting close when this nonsense will end.
North Korea is doing more and more to instigate trouble, 
and at the same time, South Korean is getting stronger and stronger
economically to be able to take on the HUGE task it will
be to be united again.

After you read these books, (please do, you won't regret it. and then
you will be so sad that you didn't come and visit me in Korea. ha ha) 
you will absolutely love going on the DMZ tour here.

guess what my next post will be about? 

blonds have more korea

That is, if your definition of fun is having being spotted there is a stampede down the beach to see youand photograph you.  It's like the paparazzi are following you around.Again, this is so funny and I am so glad that i had my camera in hand at the time.
Our friend who speaks Korean said that as they walked up they could hear everyone talkingabout the foreigners out on the beach (my family).  Isn't that so weird?But really down in the south there aren't as many foreigners as in Seoul.America is just so diverse, it seems so odd to make such a fuss over a blond.Well, enjoy the pictures of the stampede in action. 
Then they saw Jacob......forget ammon!
Even teenage boys will come up to him to practice their english
and say, "you are handsome boy." We die laughing.
Jacob is going to have a hard time going back to the states where
he is nothing special.  Seriously, people stop and stare like you are a celebrity.
(don't you love the pose of the girl right behind jacob?  hand on the cheek! love it!)

But it is more than being blond, it is being an American and Caucasian.
It is very common for both men and women here to have surgery to look
more Caucasian.  Creating wider eyes, eyelids, and chiseling cheek bones  and jaw lines.
I mean really common.  A bunch of the high school girls who are half Korean did
it over spring break. and PS, plastic surgery is wayyyyyy cheaper over here.
tempting...........but no.  
Dave said he would never have me go under general anesthetic unnecessarily.
That made me feel really good when he said that.
(and scared to ever go under general anesthetic. yikes!)
Is it because he would feel guilty, or would really miss me? ha ha.

So two more reasons to miss Korea. 
1) Being adored wherever you go, and everyone so nice to you.
2) way cheaper services of every kind.  Braces, glasses, any kind of surgery etc.
and most are trained in the states.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

more korean ajima love

Every where we go Ajimas come up to ammon to love on him,
but this is our favorite "ajima moment" that I actually captured on film.

Last spring break we were down in Busan sitting on the beach.
Ammon was doing his own thing.

Up comes Ajima to Ammon and tucks in his shirt, pulls his pants up really high, 
and is just really fussing over him.

(i love facial expression of  the ajima to the right who is barely in the picture also. )

 (When jacob just saw this picture over my shoulder just now
he said, "I love chilsung cider."  which is the drink she is holding. ha ha)

Then she starts to brush the sand out of his hair.

Next, she notices that he has a runny nose.

So she searches around our belongings until she finds something to wipe his nose with.  
It happens to be Ammon's sock, so I rush to give her a wet wipe instead.
She proceeds to wipe his nose with it, pinning him down.
We are dying laughing.

Ammon on the other hand did not find it so funny, and she was saying ohhhhh, ooh,ohhh
imitating his howling in mock sympathy.

then she's laying on top of him trying to play with him and give him loves, and he wanted nothing to do with this crazy woman by then.  He was done.
What is even funnier, is that she wasn't the only person that came up to him and was
doing the same thing, and then they would photograph him and play with him.
Perfect!  I could just sit and enjoy the sun.  ha ha.

more korean love to come in my next post.
"You know, like Ron Bergundy, we are kinda a big deal around here."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

He's at it again!

Dave went to a medical conference in san francisco.
What did he bring back for us you ask?
(besides more knowledge about breast imaging. ha)
......Rye flour.
With that he made homemade rye bread, and then this fabulous dinner
of Reuben sandwiches. He had a homemade sauce as well.
They were seriously unbelieveable.

need a closer view?
Grilled to delicious perfection.

and if that wasn't enough, he made one of my favorite desserts to
order at restaurants, a chocolate lava cake. He is trying to perfect
it before Roger and Teresa Harding come to visit next month.

We went on a cruise with them for dave's 40th birthday, and we ate
so many of these every night at dinner that our waitress would just bring
out a whole pan of 12 of them as soon as she saw us coming.
She was a good waitress.

and if that isn't enough.
I am starting to think he was abducted by aliens.
I'm not complaining. ha.
I guess dave is like a good cheese, gets better with age.
Although a little stinky. ha ha. (I couldn't resist that one dave.)

PS- I love a man in a star wars shirt.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Look how gorgeous my mom is!

I think she looks like a movie star.
She is 34 here and pregnant with my sister kelly (her 5th baby).
My Mom passed away when I was 34, it was hard.
When I went to my Dad's family reunion this past summer everyone
kept saying how much I look like her. I really don't.
I just have her coloring (dark hair and light blue eyes), and probably
mannerisms. I think my eyes are the only things that are kind of like hers.
but mine are more round like my dads.
I really see my sisters kelly and nicole in her way more.
But hey, after seeing this picture. I'll take the compliment!

PS -and now I know why she tortured me starting at a young age to tweeze
my eyebrows. Hers are perfection and I have my dad's eyebrows. ha
(sorry dad, but it is true)

PPS- Leah has her dad's eyebrows and I admit it, I held her arms down on the floor with my
knees and forced eyebrow plucking upon her.
Yep, I'm my mother's daughter. ha ha.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I am sad to leave korea.

I cannot believe that we are moving in just a few months! Where has the time gone? I haven't shared nearly enough all of the things that I love here in Korea. Plus there are so many places we have gone that I haven't shown you! How could I have done that to you? You see, I love Korea, and I love the Korean people and I want you to love them too. So, I must focus, and in these last few months share with you all of the things that I will miss about korea. So...........

Number 1)

Ajimas in Korea. A married woman here is called Ajima. It is not a derrogatory name. It is a respectful name. but every grandma aged woman for sure is an Ajima. It is a term of endearment really. I love how the older women here are so respected and loved. Ajimas can say and do whatever they want. They love children and will come up and just start caring for your baby. I mean really caring for them. Like wiping their nose, tucking in their shirt etc.
when we were down in Busan last spring break Ammon could not get a moment to himself. Luckily he is a pretty social kid, but after awhile enough is enough. I'll post the pictures tomorrow. Because right now I want to focus on....

my favorite Ajima!

Here she is above doing a kimchi squat on the kids bathroom countertop cleaning the mirror.
I LOVE HER! She is so sweet, so kind, and I love her being in my home. Not to mention that she leaves it spotless. I feel guilty for how little I pay her, but it is what she asks for. $30 to clean my whole house. It is the best day of the week when she comes.

She talks to Ammon the whole time in Korean and is so cute with him. Ammon gets so excited when she comes. He runs to the door screaming AJIMA! AJIMA! He is always wanting her to come and play with him, but she doesn't know what he is saying. The other day it was raining and I took a taxi home from the store with ammon. On the radio in the taxi was an older Korean woman speaking. Ammon says so tenderly, "I love Ajima." I couldn't believe he just said that out of the blue and than i realized that it was the voice on the radio that reminded him of her. I asked him if Ajima was talking on the radio and he said, "yesh." so cute.
We will definitely miss Ajima, and all of the Korean ajimas.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why can't I blog?

(easter morning)

To answer my question, I think because my life is just so intense right now. Intense in a good way. It is brimming and full. Even my dreams are intense. Have you ever had a long night of vivid crazy dreams? (It runs in my family, and is not fun. ha) Well, I feel like blogging right now would be like trying to document a night of vivid dreams. I just wouldn't be able to do it justice. How could I get across all that amazing detail of color, emotion, and activity that makes it so.....well......INTENSE! It is too overwhelming to even think of it. I just wish you could be here and on my couch one night (my couch is really cozy). We could curl up with blankets and hot cocoa and talk about it in all it's intense detail.

I am always wondering why I am so tired all the time. Am I just old, or lazy or what? I thought to myself, I don't really do much. I lead a simple life. I just do my little routine and am a mom. Then I started really thinking about it. Starting looking at all of things I have been involved in and how emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining they all are. From organizing a large women's conference for church, to helping my friend deal with cancer, missionary lessons at my house, to every in and out of and drama of my kids lives, and on and on. It was a lot. It was not as simple at all. In fact, the word intense came to mind. No wonder I am intensely tired. ha.

Satan is just so sneaky. He can make me feel discouraged that I don't do much or make a difference. Or that I am not good enough, or do things poorly and someone else could do better (and should). Why does he do this? Because he is acutely aware of just how powerful one woman can be. Just how much good she can do. I talk about this a lot on my blog don't I?
I am just such a huge believer in the power of women and their goodness!

My favorite lately is something that my friend Mary Montes De Oca said at church recently.

"I want Satan to say when I wake up, "oh no, she's awake again!"

The world describes success in terms of wealth, power, formal education, and career success.
While all of those things are well and good and can serve great purposes. They are not my (or God's) definition of success.

Here is one of my favorite definitions that is displayed in my house
(i've shared it before)....

To laugh often, to win the affection of children, to earn the
appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal
of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the
best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a
healthy child, a garden know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!

I stayed up until 3am getting the house all ready for easter morning. I was so proud of all of my floral arrangements. I don't have vases and I realized that I have all of these cool pottery pieces that jacob made in ceramics. Seriously like 50 pieces that are so awesome that i can't part with any of them.
(that's the emerson quote in the right hand side of the picture. love it!)

Here is Sister Beck's definition.

“We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit.”

one last awesome quote.

Sister Margaret Nadauld:

“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.

“Oh, how we pray that every. . . woman will. . . be all the wonderful things she is meant to be. . . . May daughters of God honor the priesthood and sustain worthy priesthood holders. May they understand their own great capacity for strength in the timeless virtues that some would scoff at in a modern, liberated world for women.”

AMEN! Right?

Monday, April 2, 2012


Ammon insisted I take a picture of him. This is the only pose he would do.
I have no idea why. Cracks me up.