“True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion”
-President Hinckley

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

January 1st. So it begins

 To start the year, I am trying out catch lights, which is when you see the light in a person's eyes. It makes a gorgeous picture and everyone looks better. In my opinion. So here is my attempt at this new technique. One day down. 364 to go!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

365 or 52

For Christmas this year Dan got me this amazing new camera. I mentioned to him a couple months ago that I needed a hobby, and then I casually mentioned that I thought photography might be a good one and I could get into that, and then I forgot about the whole thing. Dan most certainly did not forget about it and spent a pretty penny buying me this great camera, so my goal is to get really good at using my camera and photography in general. And so, I am giving myself a challenge this year. It's either going to be 365 days of pictures, or 52 weeks of pictures. I haven't decided. I'll either have to take one great picture a day or one great picture a week, either way, I'll be learning new things and stretching my abilities. That's my goal! Hopefully I don't give up halfway through. I'll document my progress on here in the hope that I can get some support not to give up!

Okay, here are some pictures I've taken over the last few days. Please don't judge cause I'm very much a beginner. These are all from me messing around with aperture and depth of field. I hope to get better with time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fun date

Dan and I went on a date tonight, and our plan was to just go downtown and find somewhere that has English on the menu and eat there. So after probably 15 minutes of wandering around, we found this little park type place in the middle of a crowded street and decided to stop. We heard music and saw all this pretty scenery and wanted to investigate further. 

At first we thought we stumbled into a little concert and patted ourselves on the backs for being so lucky. There were a bunch of singers singing lots of popular songs, like the sound of music and rent, in Korean, which was super fun to listen to. This one lady sang I will always love you by Whitney Houston, in English I might add, and did a fantastic job. Whoever was running this shindig gave both Dan and I these blinking light lanterns and little flags to wave around, so bonus right? And then the concert stopped and they started talking instead. 

We have no idea what they were saying, obviously, but all the sudden people were waving flags and chanting things, so we decided it was time to bolt. The only problem was that we are American. Which means everyone around us noticed us. No blending in there. And to add insult to injury, the 4-5 tv cameras that were there filming this event kept flashing over to us for our reactions. Um.... Yay? 

Eventually the crowd started to break up and we thought, "this is our chance", so we turn to leave, only to find out that the group has turned into a march/parade and now we are in the front. We are pretty confused about we stumbled on at this point and would just like to be gone, but there's no clear exit strategy. Especially when you have a lit up, blinking lantern with you. We did eventually find another exit from that park down a little alley and we bolted. After a couple blocks, we dropped our lanterns and flags contraband and took off at a run. Never know if they're following you. Did we just join a cult? Not sure. We gotta stop doing that on dates (jk obviously). 

After a lot more walking, we stopped at dos tacos to eat. Who would've thought there was a little Mexican joint in downtown daegu, South Korea? And it was actually pretty darn good, except it had super small portions. So after we ate our wee Mexican dinner, we walked around even more trying to find a subway entrance. And that's when we found heaven. On one of the streets there was a little crepes shop where they make these seriously enormous crepes and fill them with whip cream, chocolate syrup, fruit, and ice cream. They even had some that they put a whole piece of cheesecake inside of. What!? Then they fold it and roll it so it looks like your eating a ice cream cone. But you're not! It's a crepe filled with ice cream and fruit. Let me tell you, it was delicious! I'm going to have dreams about that crepe. Then we took the subway home and bought some fish shaped, deep fried, donut like, cream and bean paste filled goodies that we ate on the walk back to base. All in all, it was a seriously fun night. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Emmett: 6 months

Emmett, are you really 6 months old already? I'm late writing this, so you're actually almost 7 months old now. You are such a happy, smiley, beautiful baby and we can never get enough of you.You eat a TON, so that takes up most of my day. You now love oatmeal, but you're less of a fan of baby food, so I have to mix the two together so you'll eat it. You can sit up by yourself, but I have to stay close by because you will inevitably lunge for something and fall over. Emmett, you are oh so close to crawling now and it makes me so sad! I can't bear that you're growing up. I wish you would just stop!

You are such a happy and content little baby. You came into this world with a "let's just roll with it" attitude and I love it. It's been such a blessing because 2 months after you were born, we carted you around the United States and then moved you to Korea. I was so worried about all that flying with two little ones, but you were a champ.

 I really thought having two kids was going to be impossible, and sometimes it still feels that way, but even on those no good, terrible, bad days, you are my ray of sunshine. One little smile from you makes my whole world brighter and I don't know how I lived without it for so long.

You have dark black hair, though it's barely there, and beautiful dark blue eyes. Boy, I hope you keep those cause they're gorgeous.

You have CHEEKS! Cheeks, cheeks, and more cheeks! It's seriously impossible for everyone and anyone not to kiss you because you have a perfectly round face and cheeks that never end.

And, hate to tell you, but you have a huge head. Just like your sister did. 99 percentile, baby!

 You love, love your sister and think that she is the most entertaining thing on the planet. Your whole face lights up whenever she comes into the room and it's a lot of fun to see. Every single time.

You're also kind of a huge fan of people in general. Let me tell you, the Koreans love you little man. They start talking to you and you flash them the biggest, cheesiest grin, and they are hooked for life. Emmett, you are a social butterfly. You don't mind being held by other people and are totally content as long as SOMEONE is paying attention to you.

You are also a huge flirt. Man, you love the ladies.

Your first tooth came in the other day on the bottom, and the one next to it will soon follow.

 I can't imagine life without you, little boy, now that I've met you. You are sweet and cuddly. Sometimes boisterous and loud. Always happy and curious. And I love you more than words could ever express.

 Emmett Merrill Christensen. 6 (almost 7) months old and you're already one of the two best things that has ever happened to me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

some thoughts


I know this amazing woman who is going through some really trying times right now, and I've been thinking a lot about her and how strong she has always been. She's always so open about her trials, hoping that maybe her experiences can help someone else, which is so different from me. I am an extremely private person and have a really hard time opening up to people and really saying how I feel. I'm an expert at putting on a brave face and just pretending like I'm okay, when in reality, I am anything but okay. So, this amazing woman that I know, has inspired me. I think it will do me a lot of good to write some things down, and if I'm lucky, maybe I can help someone else out in the process.

Marriage is hard. And it takes a lot of work. I knew that going in, and everyone tells you that before you get married, but I don't know that I actually KNEW that until recently. Dan and I have always been a dream team, no bragging, just the truth. We don't fight, we don't really disagree on much, and most of the time we just have a lot of fun because our sense of humor and temperaments are so similar. But, since we've been here, I feel like our relationship has been put through the ringer. From the minute we got off the plane in Osan, Dan has been pulled in a million different directions and has been busy, busy, busy. Which means that our little family has been coming in second. They didn't give him a week to in process like they were supposed to, but instead immediately threw him into work and told him to just get it done. How was he supposed to get those things done if he's not in the system, has never done any of this Army administrative stuff before, and there's no one around to tell him how to do it?

It's been rough. For the first 2 months or so, Dan would come home and just be silent and cranky all evening until we went to bed because he was so stressed from work. I tried hard to be understanding and supportive, but there's only so much a person can take before they snap. So, one day I finally snapped. I was mean and belligerent, and he was cranky and stressed, so our house was not a happy one.

We would still try and go on dates every weekend, but you could tell that we weren't really enjoying ourselves. Sometimes Dan would say some flippant comment about something that would seriously hurt my feelings, because I was being overly sensitive, and then I wouldn't talk to him the rest of the evening. Super mature, I know.

We never sat down and talked about anything, but instead we were passive aggressive and mostly just ignored one another. I don't know why I let this go on for so long, but I guess I was being prideful and wanted him to admit that it was his fault that we were so unhappy. There was even some talk of me taking the kids and going to live with my mom for a little while, until things slowed down a bit for him.

But one day while I was cleaning the house and the kids were napping, my best friend called me and I started to just vent and cry and rage at her until I was empty inside. And through all the ranting, she was super supportive and listened to what I had to say, and even backed me up on a lot of things, but at the end of the conversation she gave me some sound advice. She told me to just start doing nice things for him all the time. If he's so bothered by the dishes not being done, even though I felt like he should do them since I cook and take care of HIS children, she told me to just do them. Maybe I was right in feeling the way I did, but wouldn't it be better if I just did the dishes so he would be happy?

At the time, I was thinking there was no way I was going to do that because I was right. I was right, dangit, so he should have to be the one to do nice things for me, but after giving it a lot of thought, and praying a lot about us, I decided she was right. I started doing the dishes, and making him breakfast, and driving up to his work to bring him lunch. I would buy him kit kats at the store or make chocolate chip cookies for no reason, and the difference in everyone's attitude was palpable.

Dan and I started talking, really talking, to each other again. We started to actually enjoy our dates again instead of just going to dinner and coming home. After a while, Dan started doing nice things for me in return. Like, letting me go to lunch with a girlfriend for most of Saturday afternoon.

One night, we finally sat down and discussed what's going on. He told me how stressed he's been, and I told him how lonely I felt, and I cried a lot, and then we went to bed.

Things certainly aren't perfect or anything, and sometimes I still get very frustrated with him because I feel like he should be doing more to help me, but I am trying to be more selfless and more service oriented. Doing service for someone really does increase your love for that person, and in turn, it makes you a better person. People were always telling me that, and preaching this exact thing, but when you experience it first-hand, it makes it very real.

I heard this song on the radio the other day and decided this is exactly how I feel about Dan now. So, I sent him the lyrics via email.

It's not a walk in the park
To love each other.
But when our fingers interlock,
Can't deny, can't deny you're worth it
Cause after all this time.
I'm still into you

Monday, September 16, 2013

This post is all about food

 So, Korean food is delicious. Did you know? Yes, some of the older generation still eats dog. And, yes, sometimes they do eat chicken anus (yuck), but most of the food here is absolutely to die for. We've been out to eat several times at many different places, and each time we've been pleasantly surprised. Surprised because we can't read Korean and most menus don't have pictures, so we play menu roulette. Mmmmm.

On one of our dates, we stumbled upon this place and decided to go in because they had some English on their sign and the menu had pictures. This place served chicken galbi, which is the rib meat from a chicken.

In the middle of the table is this giant burner, and they turn in on for you and then put a big round thing around it, so you can't burn yourself.

Then, they put all the stuff in the pot for you

And cut up all the meat and cook it right in from of you

After they're done, they walk away and you have this giant thing in the middle of the table full of yummy goodness. They give you leaves and things on the side, so you take your chopsticks, grab some grub, put it in the leaf and eat it

 Another place we went, really was a surprise because the menu looked like this:

 Luckily, I ended up with bibimbop and Dan ended up with something similar. Yum yum yum.

Some of my favorite things, so far, would be bibimbop, kimbop, dumplings, kimchi (believe it or not), and this pork cutlet thing. We've also had a cold noodle soup that was yummy, and anything at Paris baguette is delicious. The one time we finally got to get some Korean bbq, it too was extremely tasty.

bibimbop--- Rice and veggies mixed together with a spicy red paste and an egg
kimpop--- kind of like sushi. Rice and assorted things wrapped in seaweed
kimchi--- the Korean staple food. It's like fermented cabbage and things in a spicy red paste

You should come visit us. The food alone is worth the trip. For real.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The week without my phone

 A couple of weeks ago, my phone dropped out of the stroller at the playground and then someone took it. It was literally only 5 minutes between the time I dropped it and when I went out to look for it, but someone had already snagged it. Stupid teenagers. So, I had to have my friend Aimee drive me around all over the place getting the paperwork I needed to be able to file the insurance paperwork to get a new phone. Talk about a huge headache. If we were in the states, this really wouldn't be a big deal, but everything here is harder because they do things differently and because everything is in Korean. In case you were wondering, I don't speak Korean, so the whole thing was just a big mess.
To be able to file an insurance claim here, you have to go to a local police department and file a report that your phone is stolen, then they'll give you a paper which you take back to the phone store, and then they fax the paperwork. All of this doesn't sound so bad until you remember that I don't have a car, I don't speak Korean, and police stations don't look like police stations here. Not to mention, there's obviously no sign out front that says police station, since we are in Korea. But, Aimee was super patient and drove me and my kids around, and we did eventually find a police station. 
After my phone came in, they shipped it to a store downtown instead of the px, so I had to get directions in Korean from the lady at the px to give to my taxi driver. Luckily he knew exactly what her writing meant and took me straight to the store. Yay! Really fast, I have to explain something. Shopping and stores here are a lot different than in the states. There aren't really malls or strip malls. Every street is lined with shops. Every single one. And all the shops are small and covered in pictures and writing on the outside. My service provider here is kt olleh, and there's a kt store about every 4 stores, especially downtown. So, the fact that he found the right one right away is pretty amazing. 
The guy in the store spoke English and was super helpful, so I got my phone no problem. Getting home was kind of an adventure though. I couldn't call a taxi because when I tried they didn't understand me, so I couldn't explain where I was. Dang. So, I found a taxi that was just sitting on the street and got a ride in that one. I told him camp George and he took me straight to camp walker. And since I don't speak Korean, I couldn't tell him it was a different place, so I just got out. I was hoping to just get a different taxi once I got on base, but the wait was like 40 min, and the bus wouldn't come again for another 45 min, so I just walked. It's probably like 2 miles or so. Not bad at all. I was wearing flip flops, so that was kind of a hindrance, but overall it was fine. So, that's the story of how I got my phone. 

Going without a phone while living overseas was kind of terrifying actually. I was afraid to go anywhere outside my house because I didn't want to get lost and not be able to call someone. Not to mention, I was completely out of touch with my family and friends back home. It was a really rough week, but I got my new phone and I watch it like a hawk, so hopefully this won't happen again. Here are some pictures.

she does this all the time now. Cracks me up

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What we've been up to

Hello friends,

Since my last update we've been doing some fun things, so ill share with you. 

I was able to go to a small market last week with Abbi and her kids, and it was so much fun. It was basically just an alley and all up and down the alley there were vendors selling stuff. There were lots of produce stands, but there were also a lot of other things like whole pigs, soup, fried fish and veggies, desserts, and gimpob. I didn't try any of the desserts, but I hope to eventually. Abbi told me they're made of some kind of rice flour or something and a lot of them are filled with a bean paste. Sounds weird, I know. Apparently they don't really do sweet things here, so even the desserts aren't all that sweet. However, if Koreans try to mimic American food, it usually turns out sweet. Like pizza, for example. They put different things on their pizzas here than we do, like sweet potatoes. Abbi says the sweet potato pizza is really good, but it's sweet, so that'll be interesting to try. Also, she said if you order a corn dog they'll ask you if you want sugar on it. What? I've also seen pizza crust made with green tea. Actually, pretty much everything is made with green tea cause I've seen ice cream and coffee as well. 

All of the food at the market smelled and looked delicious, so I had to be careful not to spend too much. I did get myself some gimpop, and it was delicious. Gimpop is basically the Korean version if sushi. It's veggies wrapped in rice and then wrapped in seaweed. Don't knock it till you've tried it cause its super yummy. 

It was really fun to buy fresh produce from the vendors because its cheaper and it lasts longer than the stuff at the commissary. Plus, what a cool experience!

Live octopus for sale
That lady is chopping up a pig

Fresh produce. You buy the whole basket.

Some other fun things I was able to do recently was go eat at neat places. I went with some girls from the relief society to a Japanese restaurant downtown to celebrate one of their birthdays. It was a lot of fun, and it was fun to be invited! We had only been here a few days and they were already including me in things. 

Downtown daegu 

Relief society girls at dinner
Eenja taught me how to use chopsticks correctly. I'm still not great at it
This is Eenja. It was her birthday

I ordered this pork dish that came in a pot with a kind of soup or something. It was yummy.
Walking back to eenja's apartment

So, last Sunday was my birthday, and it was kind if sad to celebrate all the way over here without my family and friends around, but Dan tried his hardest to make it special. On Saturday, Dan made me breakfast in bed and then got both the kids ready so I could just relax. Then we hit the streets of daegu hoping to find a Korean BBQ place to eat at for lunch, but we had absolutely no luck. We walked around for at least an hour and never found one, so we called it a day and just ate at this place right outside the gate of camp George called BBQ chicken. Super Korean, right? It was just wings in different sauces, but we were starving by then and it was pretty good. That night Dan made dinner and gave me some of my presents, which was a lot of different kinds of chocolate and the movie, oz. So, after the kids were in bed, we relaxed and watched a movie with an accompaniment of Godiva chocolate. Not too shabby. 

On Sunday, we had taught senior primary because everyone was sick or out of town. That was an interesting experience because the entire primary was like 8 kids, so our senior primary class was 3 kids total. After church evie took a nap and we relaxed for a while and then Dan made dinner again. Steak and potatoes. I think he thinks that's my favorite meal? Or that's all he knows how to make, because that's what I get every holiday that he cooks. Cute boy. Don't get me wrong, I do love steak. After dinner we had "cake" and blew out the "candles", which evie was excited about. 

The cake was actually an ice cream pie from the frozen isle, and the candles were actually strawberry sticks that Dan found. Not candles at all actually. Do not light them on fire. That would be gross.

After "blowing out the candles". She was so proud of herself.
Mr Emmett. This was just a cute picture. No back story at all

After my birthday was the 4th of July, and this is one of my very favorite holidays because we always made it a big deal growing up. So, I tried to make it as fun and patriotic as possible, but it didn't really turn out all that great. Oh well. Maybe next year. 

After Evie's nap, we went to camp walker to check out the festivities they had there, but there wasn't a whole lot for a little girl like evie to do. It mostly catered to older kids and adults. However, there was a bubbles show, and we thought evie would love that for sure, but she actually wasn't a huge fan. I think the guy doing the show freaked her out. Oh well. I thought it was neat. 
Red, white, and blue the best we could. Waiting to get on the bus to take us over to camp walker.
Evie liked standing in the back and waiting for the bubbles to come to her, rather than stand in the front and actually watch the show.

On Friday this week, some of the girls and the missionaries from the branch took me out to lunch for my birthday. Our lunch adventure is actually a pretty funny story. We met at eenja's house because she lives downtown, and then we would walk to the restaurant from there. It was a good plan, except that it was pointing rain outside. All day long. We walked out of her apartment to a torrential downpour, but instead of turning around and just ordering in, we decided to trudge on. About 2 minutes into our walk, I was soaked up to my ankles. By the time we finally made it to the restaurant I was soaked head to toe. I had an umbrella, but it was raining so much that even the umbrella was soaked and couldn't hold off water anymore. The entire street was a huge puddle, so i seriously looked like I had gone swimming in my clothes. But the good news is, once we got to the Korean BBQ place, it was closed, so we had to wander around some more until we found a restaurant that was open. The restaurant was a traditional Korean food restaurant, and that was totally okay by me. Luckily, the sister missionaries and Eenja all speak Korean, so they ordered for us and told us what to do. The food was delicious, but pretty spicy. 

This is what they call a "hot pot", which is just a pot that stays hot. Well named. Like, piping hot. The whole time. But, I was freezing and drenched, so something hot and spicy was perfect. It was rice, veggies, and beef, with a bunch of other stuff, all mixed together. Yum.

I went to the bathroom before we ordered to try and dry off a little, and this is the sign that was on the door for the men's bathroom. Hilarious.

Random picture of me waiting for the bus today. I high tailed it over to the bus stop and wanted to show Dan how close I was to missing it. Pretty darn close.

Today we, yet again, wanted to try and get some Korean BBQ, but failed, again. All of the places were closed until 6 because it was a Saturday. Bummer. So, we walked around until we found a place that was open, and I remembered my friend Abby saying that this place had really good gimpop, so we went there. I think the place was called Kim pasa. The ladies there didn't speak any English, and we don't speak any Korean, and the menus didn't have pictures, so we just put up 2 fingers and said gimpop. Luckily, this is what we got. It was different than the stuff I got at the market, but still just as yummy. I'm addicted. 

Dan trying to use chopsticks. We both forgot how as soon as we got here. I think it's the intimidation of it all.

Evie actually kind of liked it. She was a bigger fan of the soup though. She didn't eat very much, so when we got home I made her Mac n cheese. Go USA.

Those are all of our adventures so far. I'll try to remember to keep updating this. Love you all. 
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