Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Korea

Ready for the holidays.  Simple.  Cause I've got nothing else.
Another make-shift Christmas tree.  This one is actually alive though, as oppsed to last Christmas (view here).
I had to use stakes to hold up the three ornaments in the tree.
Aaron and I played the special role of Mary and Joseph for our branch nativity.
Fooled ya - there is no baby Jesus, or any baby at all, in that blanket I'm holding.
But it was a very special evening.  And I was so happy to share it with my love.
Baking mini loaf for the soldiers.  Banana Bread and Double Chocolate flavor.
Aaron was so excited to package the loafs with a spritz cookie.  His grandma's recipe.

His Christmas tradition - Monopoly.
And he schooled me.  Old Mr. Potter takes the whole town.
Christmas morning.  Boots sub as stockings.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Korean Hooptie

Many Americans drive around beater cars while stationed in Korea for one-three years.  This is ours. 

It is a 1998(!!!) Hyundai Avante.  He is a manual.  He has a broken radio, a nearly dead battery, a missing visor (luckily I switched the passenger visor with the missing driver visor so we can be decently safe), and a broken piece of plastic in the steering wheel that rattles every time you turn.

I call him Dover.  When I drive up a hill and the car needs more power, I pat the dashboard and say with a British accent, "Come on Dover, come on Dover.  Come on Dover!  Move your blummin' ass!"  (Eliza Doolittle, My Fair Lady)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Change of Command

Aaron got a new company commander today.  There has been a lot of hours put in to get ready to change commanders but it finally happened.  Phew, is there a break in sight?

Call me old fashioned but I love watching the soldiers stand at attention and pass the guidon (flag used to signify their unit) around.

Company standing at attention.  Isn't that a sweet background - the blackhawk they fly for medivac missions.
The soul purpose of this company.

Sargent Moore (holding the guidon), new commander Major Spangler (back toward us),
old commander Major Duryea, and battalion commander Colonel Cole  (facing guidon)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Autumn and Thanksgiving 2014

Admiral Yi, one of Korea's most beloved heroes, is buried near our town.
They have made his shrine into a nature preserve.  It is beautiful this time of year.
Pictured is Aaron with the shrine up above (you can barely see the front of the building through the arch).
Seriously.  So pretty.  I've never seen maples turn to these colors!

Not many people can say they deep fry their turkey out on the flight line next to helicopters.
This was our company thanksgiving feast.  A couple Korean soldiers were invited as well.  They made sure Korean Ramyon was part of the feast as well (notice it pictured in the back).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

LDS Seminary

I have one of the best church assignments in the world - teaching seminary.

But, oh, how I feel inadequate.  So inadequate.

Five students come to my home each morning before school and I teach them a lesson for 50 minutes on church history.  We pray and sing.  We memorize scriptures.  We play games.  And we learn our important roles and responsibilities in God's kingdom.

My seminary room.  These are posters from previous lessons we've had.
The other side.
Students had to list commandments, counsel and blessings for missionaries.
One student read the scriptures out loud while the others listed items off.
The Armor of God modern-day style.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kenneth F. Stuart

My dear grandpa Kenny passed away.  After nearly five years of failing health we was finally taken from this life.  There was a was a wonderful funeral - and I was so happy that I could attend!  All they way from Korea.

I took a Space-A flight, costing me $30, to Seattle.  And another flight, a lot more than $30, to Salt Lake City.  And while I'm back in the states, I might as well skip over to New England.

Grandpa and grandma from long ago.  Grandma has changed but grandpa always looks the same.

The eight grandsons were the pallbearers.
And the twelve granddaughters were the honorary pallbearers.
Special tribute from three of grandpa's sons; Major Stuart, Colonel Stuart, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart.
This was my favorite part of the funeral to see them give military honors to their father.
Jeff, the highest ranking of the three, presented the flag to grandma and said something like this.. "On behalf of a grateful nation, we present this flag to you..."  Jeff was speaking softly in order to fight back tears but grandma kept pulling his head in closer so she could hear.  Ha!  It made me chuckle.  And cry.  And burst with pride.
I am very pleased and honored to be part of a military family.

The view across from our house.  Nothing beats home.  Especially in the autumn.

Head light house, Kittery, ME
Grandma and Sadie

Puppy Avannie for Halloween.
She would wear her costume for the neighbors but refused to wear it to her school party.  Why?  I'm not sure.

Penguin Sadie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Family in Korea

That's right.  I have a cousin that lives in Korea!

Aaron and I took a trip down to Gwangju to pay them a visit.  Cousin Trevor and his beautiful wife, Ju Young, let us stay for a weekend.  It is very nice to have a Korean cousin-in-law that can interpret, take us to new places, and teach us the ways of the people.

Koreans are VERY generous.  We didn't buy one meal or any street food.  We didn't pay for transportation or any of our entertainment.  They are so generous.

Ju Young taught us some cool facts about Korea...

- When a Korean writes their name, they write it like this:  Jung Ju Young
(family name/last name) (generation name/middle name) (given name/first name)
The generation name, in this case, Ju, is given to all the children born of the parents.  For example Judy, June, and Ju Young.

-  Korean family roles are still very traditional.  The women do the housework: cleaning, cooking, and tending children.  Aaron tried to help clear the table after dinner one time but Ju Young insisted he stay seated, not sure if it was because Aaron was a guest and she wanted to make him feel comfortable, but the reason she gave was, "it is women's work."

- When a baby is born in Korea, the baby is 1yr old because they count all the time in the womb.  Then January 1st comes around the baby turns 2yrs old, despite how many months it has actually been born.  Everyone in Korea turns a year older on January 1st.   Ju Young is going to be having a baby next month.  When the baby is born in November, the baby will be 1yr old.  Then two months later, on January 1st, the baby will turn 2yrs old (even though the baby is technically only two MONTHS old).  Crazy counting!
- We were taught how to write our name!  Aaron: 아론  Amy: 에이미

We had a marvelous time family.  Until we meet again in the spring - this time to meet their new baby!

It was conference weekend.  We made the most of our train ride to Gwangju.
I can't get over the rice patties.  So pretty!
It was a festival weekend, not sure what they were celebrating,
but the street was full of vendors, music and delicious food!

Trevor and Ju Young live in an apartment above the roof tops.
I felt like I was from Mary Poppins - the Asian version.
On the rooftops of Gwangju, ooh, what a sight.

We met up with Ju Youngs family and they served us a wonderful, traditional Korean meal.  Very yummy - especially the Korean beef, which Korean pride themselves on.  All on the floor of course.
This is all the furniture in the living room.  A tv, a small table that folds away, a floor mat that heats up, and a shelf.

Pictured (from L to R) family friend, Ju Young's dad, family friend,
nephew, Trevor, Aaron, me, niece, Judy (sister), June's (sister) boyfriend 
Aaron giving it a whirl.   Unfortunately he didn't catch a fish... but I did!
To the ocean!  This is the ocean on the West side of the peninsula.  Very dirty water.  The East side is clear.
Our generous hosts - Ju Young and Trevor.
Eating another wonderful meal at Ju Young's aunt's restaurant.

We ate temple food, the food the Korean monks eat.  No meat, garlic, onion, chives, leeks, green onion, or strong spices.
"Very healthy. Good for hangover" says Ju Young (not that we were drinking).
Pictured behind us is the temple.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Seoul Temple Trip - Good for my Soul

I finally took a trip up to the temple in Seoul.
A temple is only TWO hours away this time, via public transportation.  So awesome.  (My Utah peeps are thinking, "man, she is crazy to think that two hours is awesome."  But it is.)

Do you see it?
According to my map, the temple was supposed to be right here.  But I couldn't find it.
The first thing I spotted was the nicely manicured bushes, very unusal on a shabby street like this, then I saw the angel.

The temple is actually MUCH smaller than what the picture makes you believe.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Conveniences of Korea, Part II

Not sure if this is a convenience -or- an inconvenience but I like this Korean custom.  I want to continue it in my own home.

It is customary to remove shoes when entering a home or restaurant (maybe because they sit on the floor?) but if you desire to still wear shoes then you can put on fancy slippers.  They are found at almost every store, including grocery stores, cost just a little, and help to keep the dirt from your home.  They are a comfy foam and very stylish, hehe.

Don't you think it goes well with camouflage?

Thursday night is PIZZA NIGHT!

This was my birthday present from Aaron.  And he got himself a matching pair.
You can't see it from the image, but the white strip says "I love Korea".  Yes.  Yes, we do.

Whenever Aaron gets new gear he gives me the pleasure of trying it all on.
This bullet-proof vest weighs about 40lbs.

NEO Exercise

N - noncombatant
E - evacuation
O - operation

Every year, families stationed in Korea practice an evacuation drill in case of an emergency.  You practice fire alarms - we practice flee-country-as-fast-as-you-can drills.

The drill is actually a lot more simple than imagined and very well organized.  And fun!

Families are to bring 72-hour kits, special documents, and gas masks.  We meet at the post to get everything checked and cleared then we load up on Chinook helicopters and fly away.   I'm sure there are a number of important points I'm missing but you get the idea.

Waiting for our ride to land. 

The last seat = the best seat
You can see beautiful S. Korea from the back of the Chinook.
This solider pictured is a crew chief.  His job is to watch the tail end of the helicopter and to lift and lower the hoist.
Kind of awesome.
New profile pic.  Yes, please.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

See Ya, Butter-Bar

Aaron got promoted to a First Lieutenant from a Second Lieutenant.

Doesn't army rankings seem backward?  There's got to be a reason but I haven't found it yet.
Second Lieutenant (gold bar), aka Butter Bar
    > First Lieutenant (silver bar)
        > Captain (two silver bars)
            > Major (gold leaf)
                > Lieutenant Colonel (silver leaf)
                    > Colonel (silver bird), aka Full Bird...

I am getting ready to pin on Aaron's new ranking.
We did this in the middle of the battalion meeting.  And I don't know what I'm doing. Awkward.

Salute from his commander, Major Duryea.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Neighborhood

We are a one-car family.  And to be honest, I kinda like it.  Aaron and I get to talk a lot more and organize where we are going to be, what needs to get done, and how we are going to go about doing it.  It is a lot harder to take spontaneous trips to the store or the gym if you don't have access to a car.  So we get to walk and use public transportation and view all the cool things around us.

Thankfully there is a Korean market up the road a half mile that I can grab a grocery item if I need it (unless it is an American product, then I am outta luck).

Farmland everywhere.  Isn't it pretty?
There are even farms right up to the intersections of the streets.
Here is a farm in the middle of the city next to the bus stop.
Here are some adorable girls from church in Korean traditional clothing, Hanbok.
Aren't they cute?!  Especially for little white girls.
This technially isn't our neighborhood but it is the nearest big city, about 20 minutes away.  Pyeongtaek.  Always bustling and busy.  
This picture was taken from the top floor of the train station.