Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Exciting Year of 2013

2013 has been an exciting year. A lot of changes have come our way, and we are excited to see what 2014 has to offer. 

Here is what our 2013 looked like for those that missed it: 

January 

We started the New Year off to a great start. We rang in 2013 with our families back in Georgia. 



After returning to Hawaii, Matt started his internship and final semester at BYU-H and I started my second semester of full time teaching. We were truly blessed to find Matt such an amazing internship that was also on the way to my work. We loved being car pool buddies that semester. 

We also welcomed the newest member to our Ho/Bowen family with the birth of Malia and Caleb's little boy Eli. 

February 

We celebrated Chinese New Year's in downtown Honolulu with Obachan and the Ho/ Graham Family. It was a really neat experience and I'm really glad I braved the crowds and went and experienced this. 


March

Matt and I celebrated another Easter in Hawaii. This year we hosted both Easter brunch and dinner with our close friends and family in the area. We had a blast dying Easter eggs and visiting with our loved ones. We spread some Easter cheer by 'Egging' some of our neighbors. 



We also experienced our first Eat the Street and bought our first piece of art from Heather Brown. 

April 

Matt graduated with his Bachelors in Social Work! Matt's family flew in for the special occasion and we had a great visit with his parents, sister, Caleb, and of course little Eli. The Thursday before graduation, I threw Matt a Mustache Bash. While the set up was a little stressful- the party was a blast. I loved how well all the decor turned out, and the food was delicious (even if we had to 'steal' a barbecue to cook the hot dogs) 

 {Obachan- Matt's Grandma- how cool was she to throw on this mustache and party with us} 


{Caleb, Malia, Eli, Matt, Me, Janice, and Kevin} 

Matt graduating was my highlight of the year. I am so completely proud of him. 



My dad also came for a visit in April and we had a great visit with him treating us to even better food. It was so great to see both of our families this month. April was also the month we got our teaching contracts for Korea! It was official- we would be spending the next year teaching English in Korea! 

We also had to move out of our TVA apartment and we moved into a little studio apartment on Laie Point. 

May 

This was a pretty slow month for us. Matt continued working for the company he interned at. He had his first experience with kidney stones! {Not fun!}

 At the end of the month, Matt left Hawaii and moved to Korea. This was the start of our 10 week separation. During the last few weeks of Matt living in Hawaii we tried to live it up. 



June 

I spent a lot of time with my friends and family in Hawaii while Matt was in Korea. I am still so so grateful for my friends that supported me and let me be a third wheel during my last  month in Hawaii. {I will never forget the kindness and love that Arianna & Josh, Jane & Tyler, and Sarah showed me this month.} I had such a blast with these guys and wish Matt and I had been a bit more social while living in Hawaii. 

I celebrated my 25th birthday, and learned that Matt can be pretty sneaky and equally romantic when he puts his mind to it. {Again, thanks to my friends back in Hawaii.} 


At the end of the month, I ended my first year of teaching at Mililani Middle. It was sad that I would not be returning the next school year, but I was excited to be starting this new adventure. And who knows? We might return to Hawaii in the near future... :) 

July 

Matt celebrated his 26th birthday. 

My cousins Jessie and Jake visited me in Hawaii and we had a wonderful vacation. We went all over Oahu and even traveled to Maui. I also sold our car, the rest of our belongings, and shipped everything home. It was the best way to end my 4 and a half years in Hawaii. 

I went scuba diving for the first time with my cousins and my friends Jane and Tyler. It was amazing. 




On July 10th I said goodbye to Hawaii and made a quick visit home to Georgia. Leaving Hawaii was a lot harder than I thought it would be. During my visit, I went to Missouri for the Asian Baby reunion,  saw some really cool Barn Quilts, traveled to New York to see my friend Jenny, met my newest niece Ansley, flew to California to visit my dad, and had all around had a great visit with my family. Matt and I also Skyped every day. 

August 

I moved to Korea. After 10 long weeks apart, I was finally back with my husband! After a 13 hour flight- I had finally made it! And boy is Korea hot in August! 

We explored the area of Suwon by seeing the fortress and the Korean Folk Village. I fell in love with Korean BBQ and loved being reunited with my husband. 


September 

We moved into our new apartment and I started teaching English. It's been an adjustment from teaching history in an American public school, but we are enjoying it. 

During Chuseok, we traveled to the DMZ and took a tour. It was pretty exciting taking a step into North Korea. 



October 

We kept exploring our area of Korea. October was filled with work, work, and more work. Our highlight was visiting the Bongeunsa Temple in Seoul. 



We were able to carve a pumpkin here and celebrate Halloween a bit. We also visited the Olympic Park here in Seoul. 

November 

Matt and I celebrated 3 years of marriage. We hosted Thanksgiving at our place and met our cousin Alohi for the first time. 

We also went to Seoul's Lantern Festival. It was pretty amazing. 



December 

Matt and I started an Advent Calendar to make sure we got out an did stuff during the season. We saw a bunch of Christmas lights in Seoul. We made a visit to Lotte World. Norman our Elf returned for his second year. And we celebrated our first Christmas in Korea. Our December was a pretty great way to end 2013. 



In 2014, we plan on exploring Korea even more. We have a couple of trips in the near future in the works, including our trip to Japan at the end of January! 

We hope you had a wonderful 2013 and that your 2014 is even better! 

 


Love, The Hos 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Recap: 2013

Even though it was just the two of us this Christmas, Matt and I had a pretty good celebration this year. It's amazing how different Christmas is when it's just being celebrated with two people. 

{Decorations from the ward party- I am a sucker for anything that says 'Ho, Ho, Ho' } 

In the morning, we were a little down I guess because it finally sunk in that we were alone. Like alone alone! I noticed this day could have quickly turned into an all day sob fest of how the expat life sucks, but I really didn't want that to be our Christmas celebration. So we just thought positive and made the best of our two person Christmas. 

Here is a little recap of what we did over our Christmas 'Holiday': 
*Note this post is very long* 

Saturday, December 21 

Matt and I were going to head into Seoul to ice skate, but we realized we still had shopping for the two of us to complete. So we stayed around town and finished up our Christmas shopping. 

That night we went to our ward Christmas party. One of the activities on our Advent calendar was to put together gift packages for the ward missionaries. We decided to give each of our missionaries a stocking filled with stuff that they might enjoy. 

{Each stocking had: a Vitamin C drink, 2 hot pads, a notebook, a pen, post it tabs, hot chocolate, marshmallows, Peppero candy, M&Ms, a clementine, popcorn, and a snack bar} 

{Elder, Elder, Elder Giles, Elder Lee, Sister Kim, Sister Giles} 

The funny part was that the missionaries had transfers* earlier that week, so all the missionaries that we actually knew had moved and we were giving stockings to complete strangers. But you know, it felt just as good. We didn't make the stockings for specific missionaries, just our ward missionaries. It was so nice to give something to the young men and women that are taking the time to serve a mission for our church. I know as an expat it's hard enough to spend holidays without your family. I can't even imagine how hard it must be for the missionaries. 

Four of the missionaries were from the states so they understood the stocking gift, but two are from Korea. The Korean missionaries were really excited and thankful for the stocking gift. They kept repeating over and over 'This is my first one of these. This is my first one. This is my first big sock.' 

I am really happy we did this. I think this is going to be a new tradition that Matt and I continue. 

*Transfers: Every 6 weeks the missionaries change areas of where they are serving.* 

Tuesday, December 24 

On Christmas Eve we had to work. It was actually a pretty big shock because I have never worked all the way up till Christmas. It really made me want to make sure I stay in the U.S. education system just so I can have a nice holiday break. :) 

In the morning, Matt and I just puttered around and then went to work. That evening we wanted to try this new Italian place that opened by our house, but it closed around 9:30 and we don't get home till around that time. We decided to eat at one of our favorite chicken places in the area. 

Then we went home and started our usual Christmas Eve traditions. We exchanged our PJs and watched A Christmas Story. Later that night, I was able to Skype with my mom and my little siblings.


Luckily enough, a package came for us from my mom and Abuela & Papa filled with our Christmas presents. We decided to break out the blankets Abuela made for us. My Abuela always makes fleece tie blankets for people in the family. Earlier this year, my cousin Jessie, told me my Betty Boop tie blanket was a little raggy, so Abuela made me this new one. I just love the owl pattern and the bright green fleece! And I love my Coke pjs. 


This year I got Matt some fleece Star Wars PJs. He just loves them! And his blanket from Abuela & Papa is Avengers themed- it turned out so well! Seriously, how cute is this guy? A little nerdy... but very cute. 


Does anyone else just love this movie? Each year, Matt and I laugh and laugh while watching it. 

Wednesday, December 25 

Happy Christmas! Like I said, the morning was a bit rough for us, but once we got in the Christmas mood we were all good to go! Matt and I started the day by opening our stockings. 


{Don't you just love the handmade stockings we have! My MIL made them for us for our 2nd Christmas together.} 


Santa really pulled through this year! I guess all those good reports Norman sent each night really paid off. Our stockings were packed. 

After stockings, we had a nice breakfast of American style bacon (yes, there's a difference), eggs, and potatoes. It was just perfect. Later in the day, we opened our presents. 








I have to say many thanks to our family for sending us so many great gifts. We know shipping is an arm an leg, but we really appreciate it. 

After presents, we put together our Christmas dinner. This year, we decided to go for an at home Korean BBQ thing. We bought pork, steak, and chicken and made all the sauces we like when we go out to eat. We did that along with our traditional sides of: mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls, and deviled eggs. It was a lot of food and we were stuffed! For dessert, we did the same chocolate trifle we had at Thanksgiving. 




This is our second year of doing Christmas Crackers! I am so thankful for my father in law making these for us each year. It was so fun to crack them open and see all the goodies inside! We love wearing our Christmas crowns! 


After dinner, we watched the movie ParaNorman {one of our favorites, and where our elf Norman got his name}. We also attempted to make a gingerbread house of just cookies, but that was such a failure we didn't even take pictures. 

For it just being a Christmas for two, it was a pretty great Christmas. And here in Korea, Christmas is a couple's holiday (almost like Valentine's Day), so I guess we fit right in. 

At the end of the day, we were able to Skype with our families back home. We talked with Mom, Joe, Mandi, Olivia, Jud, Barry, Abuela, Papa, Aspen, Coda, Beau, Ava, Janice, and Kevin. It was a perfect way to end our Christmas! 

I hope your Christmas was a good one! 

Happy Christmas from the Hos. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Norman Says Bye Bye: 2013

Well it happened, Christmas is over and so is our time with Norman Baggins Ho. On Christmas night, Norman went back to the North Pole to start planning for next year's Christmas. 

We had such a blast seeing Norman this year, and can't wait till next year. 

Here is what Norman was up to his last few days here: 

Monday, December 23

We call this one 'Cliff Hanger'. I guess Norman and monkey just got a little carried away one night. We found them hanging from our laundry drying rack and just using a little piece of floss. 



Tuesday, December 24

Norman is always really good at reminding us to read the story of Jesus' birth. We found Norman reading Luke Chapter 2 on my Kindle. 



Wednesday, December 25 

Norman always likes to stay with us for Christmas day and then head back to the North Pole at night. Christmas morning he surprised us with American bacon and eggs for our breakfast. 

The rest of the day Norman was just hanging in the tree watching our Christmas activities. 




We really had a blast with Norman this year, and we hope you had some laughs looking at all of his adventures. 

Remember if you missed any, you can just click here

See you next year Norman! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Letters #18

Happy Friday Y'all! I hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas.

Dear Work, It was hard going to work on Christmas Eve, but I am had that we had Christmas off. It was a nice little break in our work week. The Christmas tree you put up in the office was a really nice touch. Dear Students, I put together a Christmas packet filled with fun activities for you to do during class on Tuesday. You all had a fun time working on the packets, so I don't know why you look so depressed in this picture... 


Dear Baskin Robbins, On Christmas Eve I ventured into your very packed store to buy my husband an ice-cream cake. I am proud to say I managed to buy a cake without any of the workers speaking English. {I hardly ever order by myself here in Korea because I get a bit overwhelmed, so this was a big deal.}  The cake was pretty delicious and it's name was "Happy Tree" cake. 



Dear Christmas, You were pretty great this year. It was just Matt and myself, but we had a nice relaxing day. I'll share more about our Christmas later. :) 




Dear B, Happy 27th Birthday! I wish I could have been there for the celebrations, but maybe next year that will be in the cards. Have a great day B! 


I know these letters weren't very long, but I'm quite sleepy. :) 

Love, Alex