Happy New Year 2011-12!

Happy New Year everyone!  Johnnie and I hit the town with friends last night and rang in the new year in style.  We suited up this year!

It was such a fun night and we actually do remember most of it ;)  This is the 5th time we've celebrated New Year's together and it's been in a different place every year!  Here's a look back at our New Year's past...

In 2007, we were dating and celebrated in Savannah, GA.

In 2008, we had recently gotten married and celebrated with friends in Valdosta, GA.

In 2009, we were on our honeymoon and celebrated in Sydney, Australia.

In 2010, we were in the midst of moving from Georgia to South Korea and celebrated
with family in Seattle, WA.  We ran a 5K race with Dulce on New Year's day!

This year, 2011, we celebrated with friends in South Korea!

2011 has been an amazing year!  It wasn't always easy but it was always interesting.  Johnnie moved to Korea last January and I joined him in February.  This was only a one-year assignment for us and it's quickly approaching the end.  We'll be moving at the end of January to an incredible new location for a three-year assignment.  I'll do a blog post recapping our year in Korea before we move.

Here's to the changes, opportunities, and adventures that 2012 is sure to bring!  Cheers!

"We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are 
going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called 
Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Gyeongbokgung Palace

My mother, my aunt, and I traveled to Seoul for a day with grandiose plans of touring three palaces but only managed to see one.  The palace we toured was Gyeongbokgung Palace which is the largest palace in Seoul.  This palace is in the northern part of Seoul near the Blue House where the president lives.  It was built in 1395, destroyed during the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598, and lay in ruins for centuries before being rebuilt in the late 1800's.  A full restoration effort has been ongoing since 1990.

We took a guided tour through the palace which is free after paying the admission price.  Our English-speaking tour guide was very informative, telling us facts and pointing out details that we would have otherwise missed.  Gyeongbokgung Palace is huge, beautiful, and definitely worth visiting when in Seoul.

Me, my mom, and my aunt :)

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"No road is long with good company."
~Turkish Proverb


Last month, my mom and my aunt came to Korea for a visit!  They stayed for two action-packed weeks that were filled with shopping, sight-seeing, tours, more shopping, eating, and even a four-day trip to Beijing, China!  We ended up with over 1,400 photos from those two weeks which took a while to sort through so that I could start blogging about it!

I went to the airport to greet them and had a while to sit around and people-watch.  I realized, watching Koreans around me greet their arriving friends and loved ones, that Koreans are not hugging people.  They got so excited, waving and running up to their loved ones, but the physical contact was limited to a hand on the shoulder at most.  Even a girl who was obviously returning from college in the States only got a pat on her arm from her parents even though they seemed genuinely happy to have her home.  

My mom and aunt were still smiling after their long flight across the ocean.  We drew a lot of attention from the conservative people around us with all the hugs and kisses we exchanged :)

We covered almost all forms of transportation while they were here.  Besides the plane and some taxis, we also rode the bus, ...

we rode the subway, ...

... and we rode the train.

We bravely used a Korean "squatty potty" and yes, there is a technique to doing this properly ;)

We had fun taking pictures everywhere we went :)

We went out to eat a lot since there are so many different kinds of restaurants here to try.  We had Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, German, and Turkish food.

We stopped at coffee shops for lattes and teas every now and then:

We walked to the hilltop park by our apartment complex and used the random exercise equipment:

We had a good laugh trying some Korean facial masks:

 And we relaxed with pedicures at my favorite local spa, 4NE1:

The rest of our adventures will be covered in subsequent posts since it's not possible to fit all of the fun in just one!

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"When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all
your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money."
~Susan Heller

Santa Dulce

Dulce has been known to wear clothes for special occasions so I couldn't pass up this Santa outfit I found a few weeks ago!

"Christmas is not just a date. It is a state of mind."
~Mary Ellen Chase

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!
We hope your holiday is filled with happiness and love.

"Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions,
a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends."
~Margaret Thatcher

A White Christmas

Last night we went Christmas caroling!  This was the best type of caroling I've ever done.  At each home we went to, we sang a song or two and then got invited in for snacks and drinks.  We stayed for a while and then traveled to our next stop.  Our caroling group grew with each move, joined by the family we had just visited.  This worked out well here since many families in our squadron live in the apartment towers on base.  It was so much fun!

The theme was "ugly Christmas sweaters" which we didn't have, so we bought some Christmas sweater hats that are plentiful in the stores off base.

While at our last caroling stop for the night, it began to snow!  Everyone went onto the balcony to see.

By the time we left to go home, it had already snowed a few inches.  We saw a few cars stuck on the unplowed roads.  Thank goodness we had a four-wheel-drive vehicle!

When we got home, we brought Dulce outside and walked around to look at the snow and the colorful Christmas lights.

This morning, the sun was shining and everything was white.  It was a beautiful wintery scene.  It doesn't snow like this often here so when it does, it can be appreciated even by snow-hating people like me :)

Dulce had a great time running through the snow!

She almost disappears in the snowy landscape ;)

It looks like we're going to have a white Christmas this year!

"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, 
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland."
~Richard B. Smith