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Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday's Letters #15 and #16

Yes, yes- I've been a bit busy these last couple of weeks, and honestly I didn't have a lot of energy for blogging. But I wanted to make that up by putting up my Friday's Letters today. 

Dear Seoul Lantern Festival, You were truly amazing. I can't believe all the lanterns that we saw and how complex most of them were. I was definitely not expecting that. I can't wait to share all the pictures on here soon. 

Dear 3rd Anniversary, You were pretty good. I can't believe Matt and I have been married for three years. Again, I owe y'all  a recap, but it was great. Matt and I had a good day. We spent a lot of the day together, and it was pretty perfect. Three years has gone so fast. It doesn't seem like we've been together for so long. ... Does this mean we're not newlyweds anymore? 

Dear November, You really flew by! It is unbelievable that December starts on Sunday. The days here are going so fast. November, you've been a pretty great month. I'm sad to see you go, but I'm excited to see December here. I'm excited to start our advent calendar and to see Norman Baggins Ho, our house Elf. 

Dear Thanksgiving, Well, it wasn't really all that exciting here. Matt and I had to work yesterday, so we didn't get to have Thanksgiving dinner. But we are making dinner this Saturday and Matt's cousin is coming over for dinner. It's been a bit stressful getting all the stuff together for the holiday dinner, but I'm excited to finally eat a Thanksgiving meal! 

{This was my Thanksgiving treat. I bought this for my coworkers.} 

Now in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share some thankful thoughts 
1. I am thankful for my mom sending a care package of food that we can make for our Thanksgiving meal. 
2. I'm thankful for the new winter clothes that were sent to me. 
3. I'm thankful for our adventure here in Korea. 
4. I'm thankful to all our family who supports us on this adventure. 

Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Anniversary Questionnaire: Year 3

Last year, Matt and I completed an Anniversary Questionnaire and I wanted to continue this tradition on our 3rd anniversary. 

I can't believe it's already been three years! Time goes so fast when you're having fun. Later this week, I'll do a recap of our anniversary, but for today I'll share this year's Anniversary Questionnaire. 

{My answers are in black. Matt's are in purple.} 
1. What is something you learned about your spouse this year? 
Alex is a really good teacher. 
Matt is really good at navigating around Korea. He has the subway and bus systems pretty much down pat.

2. Something you love about your spouse. 
Her sense of humor. 
His patience. 

3. A habit that is driving you crazy. 
When Alex wants me to rub or scratch her back, she will shake her body at me instead of asking. 
Matt has a habit of leaving cabinet doors open.. and it drives me a bit crazy. :) 

4. Something thoughtful they did this year. 
There are a lot of things, but the best was she sent me a birthday package when we were apart this summer. It included a list of 26 things she missed about me and a photo-booth picture of her. 
Matt put together the most amazing birthday celebration for me. He made sure my birthday was completely taken care of even though he was miles away. 

5. A tradition that you have and love. 
We started the Elf on the Shelf tradition this year. I love our Elf Norman and had a fun time with him last year. We also always watch A Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. 
Norman- I love our little Elf. I can't wait to see him again this year. I'm also excited for our Advent Calendar

6. A major accomplishment your spouse had this year. 
Alex finished her first year of teaching at Mililani Middle School 
Graduating with a Bachelors in Social Work

7. What brought you closer together. 
Moving to Korea. 
Surprisingly, it was the 10 week separation. Being apart for that long really made me see how lucky I was to have Matt in my life. 

8. Use 5 words or less to describe you as a couple. 
Funny, Wanderers, Smart 
Expats, Two Peas in a Pod (oops I used 6)

9. What is your favorite memory of this past year? 
Picking Alex up at the Incheon airport this August after being apart for 10 weeks. 
Getting all the paperwork together for our E2 Visas- it was stressful, but it was proof that we were moving to Korea. {The move to Korea was pretty great as well.} 

10. What has surprised you the most about being married? 
Just how, if you love a person, that you really can spend all your time with them and not be bored. 
I'm honestly surprised that I can literally spend all this time with Matt and not get tired of him. I love being together. I guess I just thought after all this time I would want a little more space. But I don't. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Advent Calendar

This year Matt and I wanted to try our hands at making an Advent Calendar. Since December 1st is this Sunday, I thought I would share how ours turned out. 

{All of this cost less than $10} 

Matt and I came up with a list of ideas to do throughout the month. We did a mixture of fun activities, service, and spiritual related themes for our calendar. We wanted to have a good mixture so we would stay interested in our calendar. 

Then we wrote the ideas on a piece of index paper. We kept the supplies really simple because we didn't want to spend a ton of money on something that would be gone in a month. 

We put the slips of paper inside the red envelopes, and then numbered each envelope. Because we love sweets, we also put two small pieces of chocolate in each envelope. 

We put the envelopes in our tree for the display. You could do so many things to display your calendar. We were thinking of getting string or twine and hanging them from the wall with clothes pins, but the tree thing was cheap and easy. 

 I am really happy with the way our Advent Calendar came together. This was so simple and only took about an hour to put together. 

Here is a list of our daily Advent Activities: 
1. Write Christmas letters to our family
2. Read "The Gift of the Magi"
3. Family Game Night
4. Watch "A Gift to the World
5. Read Luke Ch. 10:25-37 
6. Watch The Santa Clause 
7. Go see Christmas lights in Seoul
8. Watch First Presidency broadcast
9. Read an Ensign Talk 
10. Hot Chocolate and Watch "The Coat
11. Make Peppermint Bark
12. Gift packages for the Ward missionaries
13. Watch Elf 
14. Visit Lotte World
15. Make Ritz cookie treats
16. Read "Rediscovering the Christmas Spirit" 
17. Read 3 Nephi 17:5-24
18. Make an Ornament
19. Write a 'Time Capsule' letter
20. Play in the snow (backup- breakfast in bed)
21. Go ice skating
22. Make sugar cookies
23. Read "The Best Christmas Ever" 
24. Watch A Christmas Story
25. Read Luke Ch. 2 

The Thankful Project Day 25: Something You Know

Welcome to the last week of The Thankful Project! If you've missed any of my other Thankful Project posts just click here. 

Day 25: Something You Know

On the eve of my 3rd anniversary, I want to say that I know without a doubt that Matt loves me. I have never doubted that Matt loves me. Everyday it is clear that he loves me. When he sweeps the floor or cooks dinner, I know he loves me. When he watches The Mindy Project with me, I know he loves me. This is such a great knowledge to have. I have no doubts when it comes to Matt and the decision I made three years ago. 

{This was right before Matt and I really started dating.} 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 24: A Physical Trait I Have

Day 24: A Physical Trait I Have 

My eyes would be the physical trait that I am thankful for. I kinda feel weird saying that, but I like the color. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 23: Something I've Seen

Day 23: Something I've Seen 

I am thankful that I have been able to see so many musical plays in famous theaters. I love musicals so much (yes- I'm a bit of a nerd). I'm so happy that I've been able to go to New York and see Rent, Wicked, Lion King, and Mama Mia. I'm thankful that while in London I saw Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, We Will Rock You, and Chicago

I've seen Rent in Jacksonville and Atlanta. I've seen Wicked in New York, London, Atlanta, and Hawaii. {Wicked is actually here in Korea right now and we are thinking about going.} 

And I am thankful for these experiences. I know for some people this is not a big deal, but for me it's magic. To see live performances like these is just amazing. 

{Playbill from Honolulu}

{After seeing Rent in Jacksonville} 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 22: An Expectation

Day 22: An Expectation 

When I was young, I used to think about what my future husband would be like. Would he be tall, dark, and handsome? Would he be a doctor? A teacher? Would he love to read? I had a lot of questions, but one that never crossed my mind was: Would he treat me nice? 

To me that was just a given. My expectation was that my husband would treat me with respect and kindness. I'm truly thankful for this mindset that I grew up with. This expectation allowed me to really look at the guys I dated and hold them to this standard. When Matt and I started dating, I knew he would treat me exactly how I should be treated, and sometimes even better than I probably should be. :) 

To me, Matt is the perfect husband because of this expectation. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 21: Something That's Easy to Take for Granted

Day 21: Something That's Easy to Take for Granted 

Last Friday, I witnessed a fatal car/ motorcycle accident. At first there was a lot of commotion as my students and I watched what was going on from the window in my class. We knew there had been an accident, but didn't know the outcome. By my next class, I learned that one person on the motorcycle had died. 

I think something that is easy to take for granted is our lives. It is so easy to go through day by day and never really think of all the blessings we have. Being alive is a blessing that we should take advantage of. I've never really thought of being thankful for being alive, but after seeing that accident it put everything in perspective. I am thankful for my good health and the health of the loved ones around me. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 20: Something About Matt

Day 20: Something About Matt

There are so many things to be thankful for when it comes to Matt, so I'll just make a list. 

I'm thankful for Matt's: 

1.Work Ethic
2. Sense of Humor
3. Love of Travel 
4. Love of Family 
5. Willingness to Help out Around the House
6. Sense of Community and Service 
7. Patience 
8. Ability to Cook 
9. The Back Rubs He Gives Me
10. Support 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 19: A Book

Day 19: A Book 

It's so hard to pick just one book I am thankful for. I love books, so I don't think I can just pick one. 

Here are a few of my favorite: 

1. The 5 Love Languages // Gary Chapman- For making my marriage stronger. 
2. The Harry Potter series // J.K. Rowling- For reminding me to believe. 
3. The Count of Monte Cristo // Alexander Dumas- For giving me a love for the classics. 
4. Pride and Prejudice // Jane Austin- For introducing me to Mr. Darcy 
5. The Hobbit // J.R.R. Tolkien- For opening my eyes to middle Earth, and bringing me closer to Matt 

I love love love books. My list could go on and on. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 18: A Choice

Day 18: A Choice 

I've said it before, but the choice I am thankful for is choosing to study abroad during college. It would have been easy for me to put off this experience in order to graduate on time, but I'm glad I stuck it out and went. Living in England, even for the brief time I was there, changed me. It made me look at life differently. It turned me from a tourist to a traveler. My study abroad opened my mind and the way I looked at life. It encouraged my wanderlust. I am so thankful my parents supported my dream of going to London. I am thankful that I had this opportunity. I loved my study abroad. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 17: A Room

Day 17: A Room 

I'll be honest and say that I've never really thought of rooms that I am thankful for. That being said, I know the perfect room for this post. 

The room I am thankful for is my room back home in my parent's house. I am thankful I have a room to call my own when I visit home. I know my mom likes to call it the guest room now that I have moved out, but I know it will always be my room. I like knowing I have a place to go to and a place to store some of my things while I am traveling around. :) 

Regardless, of where I call home right now, I know I've always got something back in Georgia. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 16: Something I Own

Happy Saturday and welcome to Day 16 of The Thankful Project. If you missed days 1-15, just click here

Day 16: Something I Own 

You just are going to call me crazy, but the thing I own that I am most thankful for, and that I cherish the most, would have to be my blanket Babushka. 

Yup, my childhood blanket. When I was 8, my mom and I went to the Bahamans for a vacation, and as we were leaving I got this beach sarong as a souvenir from the trip. On our drive from Florida back to Georgia, the beach sarong quickly turned into a pillow for me to nap on. From that point on, the sarong was a blanket for me. Since that day, I can count on one hand the number of nights I've slept without it. I call her Babushka. I don't know why. But that's how it goes. 

I take her everywhere. She is the first thing I pack and is always in my carry on when I fly. If I am at my house watching t.v. or reading, I'll wrap the blanket under my neck and cuddle a bit. I have a hard time sleeping without this blanket. My sleep is completely dependent on this blanket. 

I seriously can't live without this blanket. I'll be honest with you, Babushka is in rough condition right now. I mean, who could blame her after 17 years of hard service. I am currently looking for a Babushka II, so I can retire her, but I haven't found anything yet. 

Although it might sound silly to y'all, I am thankful to have something like this in my life. And I'm thankful it's been with me for 17 years. I love the feeling of comfort the blanket gives me, and if that's crazy- I don't care. Yes, I am married and 25, and I still have my childhood blanket. But Matt doesn't care and that's all that matters. 

 [Me and Babushka- this is how I usually watch movies in my house} 

{Me and Babushka on a road trip in California} 

{Babushka was even with me on the night of my engagement to Matt} 

{This is how we sleep. If you see, my cousin and I sleep the same exact way, even down to the blanket over our face.} 

So... do you think I'm crazy? What item are you thankful for? 

Happy Saturday! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 15: An Annoyance

Day 15: An Annoyance 

Sometimes I just love these prompts. When have you ever thought of annoyance and been thankful for it? A lot of things annoy me, but I can't say I'm thankful for many of them.

And then I thought of the perfect annoyance- my siblings. :) Now, before you have a fit and think "That's rude" let me explain. If any of you have siblings you will understand when I say siblings are a bit annoying. You love, but they can drive you a bit crazy.

My siblings are forever driving me a bit insane, but I would not change that for anything. Yeah, my siblings can be annoying, and I know I annoy them, but they are completely awesome. I'm so thankful that I have such amazing siblings.

Friday's Letters #14

Once again, the week has flown by and it's time for my weekly letters. 

Dear Fall, I know I've said it before, but I'm glad you're here. It's starting to get a bit too cold for me, so if you could just hold out for a little longer that would be great. The leaves have finally started changing color, and Korea is getting more beautiful by the hour. Matt and I have had the best time exploring in the nice cool weather, and can't wait to venture out again tomorrow. 

Dear Pepero Day, I don't quite understand what you are, but thanks for existing. I really enjoyed the treats given to me by my students and coworker. PS. Don't you just love the note my student Helen wrote me: "Hello Teacher, Are you tired? Eat this, cheer up." Love it! 

Dear Thankful Project, I can't believe it's day 15 of this project already! The month is flying by. I've been having a good time writing every day about things I am thankful for. I love love love this project. 

Dear Japan, I am so excited we are coming for a visit this January! This trip is going to be so amazing. We have already booked our plane tickets and hotel, so the big expenses are out of the way. Now we can relax and plan an amazing trip. 

Dear Norman Baggins Ho, Oh my gosh! It was so exciting to be able to Skype with you this past week. How nice of you to take time from your busy season at the North Pole. Matt and I are so excited to see you in 16 days or so! We sure have missed you, and look forward to seeing what type of shenanigans you'll get into this year. {If you missed Norman's actions last year, just click here.} 

Happy Friday! 

Love, Alex 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 14: A Blessing

Day 14: A Blessing 

Guys this is going to be short and sweet- The biggest blessing in my life that I am thankful for is my family. They might drive me crazy at times, but I love them. I'm so lucky and blessed to have such an amazing family. 

One thing I have learned from teaching is that supportive families don't always happen. I saw my fair share of students with parents that seemed to not really care what was going on in their child's life. I'm so thankful that I always had such a supportive group of people around me. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Thankful Project Day 13: An Ability

Day 13: An Ability 

One ability I am thankful for is the ability to read, and the ability to LOVE reading. I love it. I really do. I think this ability is what helped me do so well in school. Reading increased my vocabulary. Reading taught me how to write better. Reading opened my imagination. Reading got me through a lot of boring and intense theoretically undergrad essays. 

As a teacher, there is nothing more annoying than students that don't like to read. And there is nothing more heart breaking than a student that struggles with reading and doesn't know how to improve. While I was a Social Studies teacher, I would always provide time in my class for personal reading. This was something that was set up to support the Language Arts teachers. Often my kids would fuss and complain about the silent reading time, but there were always a few students in each class that would quickly grab their book and immediately get pulled back into their stories. This is what I loved seeing. 

Reading is a skill you really can't escape. Being a good reader is pretty much essential in today's world. I would always try to emphasize that with my students. I am thankful my mom set such a good example with reading. I am a reader because my mom is a reader. I am thankful I have this ability and that I love it so much. Reading is one of life's greatest pleasures, at least in my opinion. 


If you missed Days 1-12 of The Thankful Project- just click here

Gratitude 101: Part 11 &12

I know I missed last week, so I thought I would double up on Gratitude 101 today. As always, I am linking up with Erika over at Chimerikal.

 Part 11 

Prompt- What's the biggest gesture you've ever done to say Thank You to someone

I love thank you gifts. I love letting people know I appreciate what they have done for me. Whether that's picking up a small thank you candy bar, or a larger gesture, it's so important to say thank you. While I don't know what my biggest gesture I've ever done, I do have a couple of my favorite that I want to share.

After Matt and I were married, we wanted a way to say thank you to our parents for all their help with the wedding. We didn't have a lot of money at the time, but that didn't stop us. We decided to offer babysitting for my parents. For a long weekend, we took care of my younger siblings while my parents went on a weekend getaway. We had such a great time with Jud and Olivia for those few days. I love spending time with them, and this was a perfect solution. While I would have loved being able to actually treat my parents to a nice vacation, that was not possible at the time. But we could help with babysitting. I'm glad we got this time with my siblings before we left for Hawaii, and I'm grateful there was a way we could say thanks.

My second favorite gesture was a photo book I put together for my Abuela. For her birthday a couple of years ago, I wanted to give her a present that showed how much I loved her and appreciated her. I had a bunch of old photos from her childhood, and a ton of photos of the family throughout the years, so I put them in a shutterfly book. I then had everyone in the family share a favored memory or a reason they loved her to be put in the book. I was so happy with the way the book turned out, and I think it was such a perfect way to say thanks.

Part 12

Prompt: Write three notes of thanks to people you know and reflect on how that action felt.

It is no secret that I love thank you notes. I love getting them. I love writing them. There is nothing better than thank you notes, except for maybe thank you notes and chocolate. :) This week I wrote three thank you postcards to a few different people back home. Like always, I felt great when I was writing them. I'm so happy that even though I am far away from my family I can still say thanks. I can't wait for my loved ones to get their postcard in the mail.

I encourage all of you to grab something to write with and send out some of your thank yous this week.

Happy Wednesday!

{If you've missed any of the last Gratitude 101s just click here

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

St. Paul's Cathedral: Travel Tuesday

For Travel Tuesday, I will take y'all to St. Paul's cathedral. This was one of my favorite places to visit when I was in England. This is one of the most beautiful places ever to have been built. 

You aren't allowed to take pictures inside, so you will have to just see how great it is outside. If you get the chance to visit you should check it out. 

I would recommend climbing up to the Whispering Gallery and to the rooftop. The Whispering Gallery  is a beautiful place to explore, and the rooftop has great views of the city. 

In this picture you can see the Globe theater and the Millennium Bridge {aka the Harry Potter bridge} 

Have you ever been to St. Paul's? If you can't wait to go you should check out all the pictures on Google. 

If you missed any of my other Travel Tuesdays just click here

Linking up with Bonnie

The Thankful Project Day 12: An Opportunity

Day 12: An Opportunity 

I would have to say teaching in Korea is an opportunity I am grateful for. I am so happy that Matt and I have this opportunity. We've had such a great time these last couple of months. I don't know what will happen after our year contracts are up, but I am happy we are here. 

We've had the best time exploring our area of Korea, and are looking forward to continue our explorations. We've learned so much about being an expat and living outside of our comfort zones. I'm so grateful to our friends back in Hawaii who made this experience possible. I'm thankful for going to an international school where chances like this popped up. Korea is not perfect, but I am loving this experience. 

{I mean how cute are these kids} 

Catch up with Days 1-11 by clicking here, and like always I am linking up with Chasing Happy