Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009!

It's become a habit of mine to write down the best things that happened to me during the year. It's so easy to forget what we've accomplished or suffered through in a given year, but I like writing it down, for the sake of memory.

I can't believe I've been blogging since 2006. In retrospect, that's not very long. But I really didn't expect it to last more than a few months. I get bored easily... at the same time, I get busy and drop things (like crocheting, sewing, crafting, etc.) I've tried to keep a real journal, and I just don't fill it up. Or I get mad and spit venom in it, and then feel ashamed and rip out the pages... so, this online thang is working out so far. Plus, I don't have to tell the same stories over and over to my family because they can read my blog! Ha! Love you guys!

Anyway, I usually write down the best 10 things... I think this year, I'm going to write the top 10 significant things...

#10 Buying a scooter. This is not me and my scooter... but Thuy Dam (former owner of So You Boutique.) She sold her scooter to me, and it changed my life! I love scooting around town, wearing the scandalous helmet she gave me, and using so little gas! It's a gas riding it... though there were two things that went bad. 1) I hit and killed a bunny on it. 2) It was stolen out of my front yard... but it is getting fixed and should be better than new come spring!

#9 My friend Tracy got married, and I overcame a huge fear of mine-- public singing. Now, crazy karaoke singing does not count... which unfortunately, many people have witnessed from me (yes, Eternal Flame is really my song.) Anyway, Tracy asked me to sing Ave Maria. I was honored. Then I started getting freaked out. My friend Amanda has a fear of public speaking--in college, it was the point of crying-- so we were both SCREWED. Sadly, I asked Amanda's boyfriend to sneak us in those little whiskey bottles that cost you an arm-and-a-leg in the hotel room. I downed them right before I sang to get rid of the nerves. Didn't mean to be disrespectful, but I get weird lip quivers if I'm nervous and that throws me off pitch. I was really happy with my "performance", and I didn't ruin my dear friend's wedding, so I think it was the right (though slightly immoral?) decision in the end...

#8 New set at KSPR: What can I say... our news set went from embarrassing to awesome. To the eye of the viewer, it seemed like it was overnight. For us, it was two to three exhausting years. The old building had its perks-- we were autonomous and could do whatever we wanted. We were like on this little island, far away from our management company... I was certain we were a fire code nightmare (joke.) Now, we can only have two mini-fridges in our new newsroom, and we have to walk 5 minutes to get to the nearest microwave. Still, it's definitely worth it. I honestly like our set the best. We still have some kinks to work out, but I think it looks very professional and it certainly boosted morale.

#7 Professional recognition: Since we're talking about my workplace... I want to talk about my work. I was nominated for a regional Emmy for a story I wrote and edited about an online company accused of being a scam. The story received recognition from the Missouri Broadcasters Association, and it also won the Gold Award from the Kansas City Press Club. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a presenter at the Emmys this year because of my nomination, and it was a nice way to be recognized and get my favorite call letters (K-S-P-R) out there again...

#6 Job promotion, life changes: I actually almost forgot to mention this one... I began co-anchoring KSPR News at 10. In November, I also added KSPR News at 4 to my duties. I'm not trying to talk about my job that much... BUT HERE'S WHY I AM: My weekends are now free!!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 8 YEARS!! More if you count my college days (because I was always interning on the weekends!) My hubby and I can actually hang out on the weekends!! O.M.G! (*except, I work Sun-Thurs... so technically, we can hang out Friday and Saturday nights... but not Sunday nights...)

#5 I added another sister to the mix: If you're counting now, I have no legal siblings, but I have 3 biological sisters and two sister-in-laws... LOVE IT! Jim's brother Ryan asked his girlfriend Tiffany to marry him (she's on the right. Jim's sister Erika is on the left!) Technically, they got engaged on Christmas Eve 2008... but I feel like we should count that in 2009 since we've spent this year focusing on the wedding. And yes, I'm a bridesmaid. And yes, I have to lose weight. And yes, I will tan for it.
#4: Meeting my biological aunt (IMO!) and my Uncle Stacy! We had a lot of great adventures in San Francisco, including riding bikes from Haight Ashbury to the ocean, but the highlight of our trip was meeting more birth family. I had known about my imo for several years, but for some reason, I had never visited her. Shame on me. But I won't let that happen again! In fact, I'm going to SF in a few months to see her again. She and Stacy are really great people, and I hope I can get them to SGF sometime!

#3: Saying Goodbye to my Grandpa, Norman. We called him Normie when we were being silly. He was spitfire and a little hard to handle at times, but he was a huge influence in my life. He died the week of Thanksgiving, and it was hard to see him go. But, I did get to spend some time with him at the hospital, and he did recognize me. He said he was proud of me, and it made me cry. I didn't let anyone see me cry at the hospital--which is an odd thing for me to do. I rarely hide my emotions... but I just didn't want to cry in front of him or my grandma. I wanted to be strong for him. It's so weird how your best memories with your grandparents are usually from your childhood. I'm going to work on that with my grandmothers...

#2: We brought home Minnie Margaret. Yes, she is a rottweiler. No, she's not dangerous. Rottweilers are one of the smartest breeds in the world. NO JOKE! Originally bred for herding cattle, they are a great working dog. My neighbors were scared of her when we brought her home (look at that face!), but now they LOVE her. She greets them every time they're outside, and Minnie REALLY loves the little girls who live next door. We think it's sweet. That being said... please train your dog, big or small... unruly rottweilers give the rest of us bad names. By the way, Minnie has eaten more pairs of shoes than thought possible. She also ate my digital camera... she sleeps on her back and likes her belly rubbed. She also has been babied so much that she doesn't now how to jump. We say, "UP" and she'll put her two front paws in the car, but won't jump in... she also won't jump out. OH, I love her so much. It's sick. Check out her YouTube channel...

#1: We went to Korea!!! We went to Korea to support my 2nd oldest sister, Hyun Jeong, during her wedding to Glenn! Turns out, our Korean family wanted us to have a Korean wedding, too. It was beautiful... it was too much... I also got to meet Won Hoo, my youngest sister's baby. He was a freaking trip! I met my oldest sister's husband, Eun-Eop. We traveled the country, we even touched ground in North Korea, we learned more about my adoption, we learned about the beautiful culture in Korea, and we spent time with my Korean family. I love them so much, and I feel so blessed that I've had the chance to get to know them in my lifetime. The mystery has been unveiled... and we are the Park Family! But I'm also the Sherwood Family and the Van Dillen Family... just so we're good. It's amazing to have a good family, but words can't describe what it's like to pick up family along the way... or reunite with them... or whatever you want to call it. Hyun Jeong and Glenn's marriage truly changes my future with my birth family. They are such special people, and I can't wait for them to come to the United States! Oh, verklempt.

My parents, Charles and Sharon are healthy and happy. They are my favorite. I love them so much, and I want to make an effort to see them more in 2010! My sister, Yeon Jeong, just had another baby--this time a girl! Tae Hoo! I can't wait to see her. Jim started taking mixed martial arts- type classes... I re-learned then forgot how to sew... and crochet... um, my brain stopped working.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm an aunt- two times over!

My sister, Yeon Jeong, had a baby girl!

I am still waiting to hear the baby's name. She has a full head of hair... and her big brother, Won Hoo, seems very curious!

If you ever catch up with me on Facebook, you may have seen some video of our Korean family... They ask Won Hoo, "Imo-bu bo bo?"(Can you give your uncle a kiss?) AND "Imo, bo bo?" (Can you give your aunt a kiss?) He's so cute! I miss him so much that my heart hurts!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Christmas Tree (and Bah-Hum-Bug!)

I didn't have my camera with me, so I took this with my phone. I set up this sad, pathetic little tree last night because my parents visited us today.

I think this year I'm going to buy a new Christmas tree (on sale, after Christmas). In 2010, I think I might try to decorate the house like an adult... instead of like a college kid with a snoopy tree.

Also, I just wrapped all of those presents last night... and went shopping for the first time yesterday. The spirit of gift giving has left me. It's such a hassle... come on, we're all adults, and times are tough. What's the point of fighting the crowds to buy a $50 gift card to Bass Pro when you know you're just going to get a $50 gift certificate from Walmart in return? No one wants presents these days, but it's rude to give cash... so we get each other gift certificates. Wh-wh-why? And, if you do buy gifts, you struggle to find something that someone will like, so you get them something like bath salts, candles, or hand lotion... who really needs more hand lotion???

If you ask me, we should save Christmas gift-giving for children because holidays should be magical for them. For thirty-somethings and older, it's kind of an annoyance. Does this make me a Grinch? (I know the reason for the season, so let's not go there. I'm simply talking about the unneeded, unwanted stresses of gift-giving, people...)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Our friend Dave, the politico

David Catanese is leaving Ky3.

I just spent the last few minutes trying to write that sentence cleverly, but then I realized I was only burying the lead.

David Catanese is leaving Ky3. He's headed to Washington, D.C., to become the latest reporter at Politico. His last day on the air will be December 29th.

During his five year stint in the Ozarks, Dave accomplished something no other KY3 reporter had ever done. He elevated the station and filled a niche.

Many people will miss him for his witty writing, exclusive stories, and his political perspectives. Heck, a lot of folks will even miss that subtle smirk he gave at the end of an occasional live shot.

I will miss him for much more. We were pod mates at KY3 and later became good friends. Eventually, my husband would become even better friends with him. I have so many great memories with Dave from work, but the best flashbacks are from what happened off the clock. Dave and I had one epic New Year's Eve together (we just talked about this at dinner tonight!) And, he was one of the few close friends who joined us for our wedding in Honolulu, which he blogged about from the beach.

He's been in our Springfield family for the last few years, and one day we will look back and realize how lucky we were to have had this time together. (Mostly Jim, Dave and Taka, a.k.a, the Motley Crew.)

Though the news hasn't really sunk in, we are so excited for Dave! He has so much of the "it" factor... not as a political reporter but simply as a damn good person.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free Silver Dollar City Tix, Dinner, and Overnight Stay at Lake Condo!

So excited to put this little prize package together... Joe Daues got the ball rolling with Lisa Rau, of Silver Dollar City... and we all finalized the details this morning.

On KSPR News at 4, we're going to give away four Silver Dollar City tickets, dinner, and an overnight stay at The Village, a lakeside condominium. THAT'S AT LEAST A $400 VALUE! And what a great treat for the holidays. Have you ever been to SDC this time of year?

I think it would be a great treat for your family or a wonderful gift for the holidays! It's so easy to have a chance at winning...


To read more, click here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Parade 2009: Fun and Dreary at the Same Time

We did not color coordinate, though it looks like it.
From left to right: Me, Emily Rittman, Joanna Small, Christine Daues, and baby Jude Daues
We had a lot of fun at today's Christmas parade, but seriously, the weather was terrible! Not only was it cold... it was rainy. Let's blame the weather folks.

Meteorologists Craig Carnesi and Kevin Lighty

And my dang KSPR umbrella broke before we even got started! (Insert joke here.)

What the ??

We all had a good time passing out candy, though we all came to the conclusion that next year, we need less Tootsie Rolls and more Hershey's Kisses. Hey, it's been a tough year, but you know it's bad when a kid says, "No thank you" to your Tootsie Roll!

Towards the end of the parade... I had forgotten to take pictures during the midst of throwing out candy!

After that, a good portion of the gang went to the mall to ring bells for the Salvation Army. I saw dollar bills go in the red kettle on my shift! Awesome!

It was cold, wet, and absolutely dreadful outside, but overall, a good day! It was nice to see so many people with their cute kids and puppies... aw, the holidays are here!

Update: Kevin Lighty made a short video of the parade-- other than my dorky, "HEEEEYY" in the beginning, and my annoying gum-chomping, it's kinda cute...

Long Live Ugly Sweater Parties

You know the holidays are here when you bust out the ole Christmas sweaters...

Who says ugly sweater parties aren't fabulous?

Tonight we went to Cliff and Katie's housewarming/ugly Christmas sweater party. Their house was awesome, the food was great, and the company was fantastic.

I think our sweaters were also top notch.

Thank goodness for Vintage Vice!
Owners Shawn and Juli picked out our outfits... far better than what I had selected... Unfortunately, you don't really get to see the full effect because I had sparkly hairpins holding back my bangs, and they didn't make it in the pic. Nonetheless, I'm glad we got one pic together from the night!

More on FACEBOOK...

Friday, December 11, 2009

A little happiness for your weekend

This song was popular while we were in Hawaii for our wedding, and it somehow became our theme song... I think I may like this version better.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Who's sending me magazines?

Does this happen to you?

Last year I started getting Glamour in the mail. I have no idea why. I thought it was a fluke when I got one... but then another came, and another, and another... you get the picture.

Then, just recently, I started getting SHAPE. Why? I just got a second magazine in the mail today.
Am I unknowingly signed up for something? Has this happened to anyone else? Am I on some weird list? I don't mind the free magazines, but I'm wondering where they're coming from. It's happened twice in a year!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Who's Sarah Palin?

Just for the record, I am not trying to upset anyone or be political... and this is my opinion, alone.

However, this is as close as we got to Sarah Palin today... her BUS. Across the street.

I suppose it's her right to have a private function and not allow the media in. BUT WHY???

I think it's too bad that more people couldn't have closeup access to her. As she takes this big tour across our nation, people want to see her. There are people all over the Ozarks who want to see her and can't because they don't have the means to get over to Borders or down to Hollister. That's where people like me come in... and the best I could give viewers was a side shot of her bus.

Here's my 4 p.m. liveshot.

I had the same concern when we tried to talk to Rudy Giuliani when he came to Springfield in 2007.

My argument has nothing to do about politics. It's about access. I even talked with some of the PR people at College of the Ozarks, and they were also disappointed that she wasn't more accessible. I really do believe that our viewers want to see Mrs. Palin, and they were let down.

Love her or hate her, people want to see her. We have to cover an event like this. We can't just ignore it, even when we have limited video. Why not have a good relationship with working media? When public figures make decisions to avoid the media, it really only lets down their supporters. In my opinion.

By the way, if you want to watch a wrap of the day's events, click here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Out of Control Mizzou/KU Fans


Jim and I scheduled to go to the MU/KU game in KC about a month go. We really wanted to see a few of our friends, especially Leigh and Bryan. It's been since the wedding reception in 2008 since we saw them! (TOO LONG!)
Anyway, no one could've guessed we'd have such an awful week, but we decided to go up to KC for the night anyway. And I'm so glad we did.
However, I didn't even think how crazy Arrowhead Stadium would be. We parked on the Mizzou side because we were running a little late. The parking lot alone looked like World War III. Flags, tents, beer...everywhere. I am not sad that we missed tailgating, though I know we would've had fun either way.

We walked in, and we were hungry. So, instead of finding our seats, the plan was just to mosey along and hop into a section that had empty seats. There were plenty. Not a problem.

Anyway, Jim almost got into a fight while I was in the bathroom. He was in line for a beer. Some weirdo kid got right up in his face.

Guy: "Hey, are you a f*ing Mizzou fan?"
Jim: "Would it matter if I was?"
Guy: "Yeah, it f*ing would!"
Jim: "Hey, if you're gonna something, start it on the MU side."
Guy: "Well, your shoes have yellow on them, and your shirt is black"
Jim: "My shirt is navy, and I'm wearing red, you stupid &*^%."
Guy: "Hey, man, I'm sorry." Extends hand for handshake...
Jim: Hits hand away, "F*&$ you. Get outta here."

Jim was riled up for hours. And, unfortunately, it was a KU fan who did that to Jim! Not my peeps, for sure.

Then, we decided to walk down to the first floor to see our friend, Sara. (Who by the way, writes for the KC Star. So proud!) On the way down, we saw two bloodied up fans and sheriff's officers. Yikes.

On our way back up to our seats, we saw a middle-aged Mizzou fan screaming... She yelled, "Why am I the one getting kicked out when she's the f^%$#@! GAYHAWK fan!" She was screaming so intensely! It was THAT serious, to her. Leigh and I about peed ourselves, plus, Leigh had never heard anyone call the Jayhawks, gayhawks. That was even more funny...
(On a side note, I cannot stand it when people use the word gay politically incorrectly, but that's another story.)

Bottom line: People are crazy about their teams and this border war. I wish KU would've won, but I don't think it's ever that big of a deal. I tease people at work about their Alma mater, but it's not serious. And, if MU was the only big 12 school in a national tournament, I would root for them. I will never fully understand how people who didn't attend either school can have so much hatred for the other! I had people from my high school give me crap, and they barely went to community college! The only thing that I would argue is Lawrence is way cooler than Columbia. Fight, anyone?

Friday, November 27, 2009

RIP Norman Clark: May 18, 1928- November 27, 2009

My Grandpa went peacefully this morning, around 3 a.m. He was 81 years old.

He was supposed to be moved to a nursing home today, but truthfully, no one really wanted to do that.

My mom said that he had been coughing for about 8 hours up until his death. He told the nurses that he was in pain and didn't think he could take it much longer. They told him they were going to give him a breathing treatment. He said, "okay", then he shut his eyes and was gone.

It was a peaceful affair, considering he has spent the last week in the hospital.

Some good notes--my cousin Robert visited him earlier this week. Robert is very special to my grandpa because the two share the same birthday. Robert and Grandpa were also partners-in-crime, and even in the end, Robert snuck in a steak to Grandpa. He had two bites before the nurses caught him. Robert and I were always enablers. This is the kind of stuff Grandpa lived for.

On Thanksgiving, Mom got Grandpa a pecan pie. Apparently, on his last day on earth, he had his battery recharged and was speaking. A lot. Even being a little bit of a spitfire. He asked for pecan pie and ice cream. He ate a whole piece. At one point, he asked if he could watch Matlock, but my Grandma told him that show is on during the mornings...and it was in the evening. He then asked for music. My mom and Grandma said, "Do you want music so that you can't hear us talk anymore?" He said, "Yes."

It's that kind of stuff that we love from Grandpa, even during sad times.

On another weird note, Grandpa died the day after Thanksgiving. His daughter Carol, who is Robert's mother, also died the day after Thanksgiving nine years ago. The dates are obviously different since Thanksgiving falls on different days each year, but it is a renewed reminder of how much we miss Aunt Carol and Uncle Dennis. They both died in an accident, and we always think of them during this time of year. So, now my cousin has a shared birthday and a shared death with my grandfather.

I, on the other hand, had a weird experience last night. I couldn't sleep. I was wide awake until 6:30 this morning, and though I have odd sleep patterns at times, this was highly unusual. I wonder if it was a sign.

Like typical "Michelle Sherwood" style, the photos I nabbed from my mom's house this week -of my grandpa- have already vanished... I wonder if I actually took them from my parent's house or if they're floating around in my house. Thankfully, I had some pictures elsewhere, so I immediately rushed to Walgreen's to make a CD that I will store in our safe deposit box. And, like typical-me, I made a video.

So long, Normie. I miss you so much. I wish I could've shown you more love in recent years, but I know you know that you were always my favorite.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Terrible Thanksgiving Week

I would've written sooner, but this week has been awful.

I got a phone call from my mom on Sunday night. She told me that my grandpa was dying and nurses didn't expect him to make it through the night. So, on Monday, Jim and I drove to Harrisonville, Missouri, to see him.

He was tied up to tubes, but he opened his eyes for me. He even shook Jim's hand. He told me that he was "so proud that I came up to see him." He said it three times that day. It made my heart hurt.

My grandpa has always been a pistol. He was ornery, stubborn, loud, and carefree...sometimes, even, careless. He's survived at least three open heart surgeries. One time when I was four, he had a heart attack while we were fishing! That man has endured a lot of health issues and surpassed them all... and this week is no exception.

He not only survived Sunday night, he survived Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Doctors will move him into a nursing home soon, too. He's been in-and-out of it, but he's still surviving. It's positive news, but still, he's suffering. I hate it. It's like waiting for death. I hate even writing that, but in the end, that's what happens, right? We all get older and sometimes we're blessed with a quick ending, and sometimes we're holed up in a hospital for weeks. Even if he does recover, only 20-percent of his heart is functioning, he has bleeding ulcers, and he's so weak, he can barely speak or open his eyes. He's uncomfortable in his bed--he's been laying in the same position for days. Like I said, it makes my heart hurt.

My grandpa has been difficult throughout the years. He was always a great grandfather to me. Afterall, I was his fishing buddy. I still like to go crappie fishing, mostly because of him. When I was a little girl, we'd go fishing off a dock at Windmill Run in Oklahoma with a can of spam and minnows. That's one of my best childhood memories.

As long as I can remember, my grandpa has had a bad heart, but he has always tested his body. On our way back from fishing, we'd stop at the gas station where they sold Chester Fried chicken. My grandpa would get us a few chicken wings, and then I'd rush back home and tell on him to my grandma. This happened so much that it actually became a game. Grandpa would do something bad, and I'd tell on him. My grandma would scold him, but he would just laugh. I think he got a kick out of it.

This happens to everyone, but I'm just experiencing this "growing older" thing. It really messes with your head when someone strong and invincible becomes old and frail. Of course my aging grandfather's health didn't deteriorate overnight, but it's more prevalent when the end is near. I will see him this weekend, if possible, and that will be nice.

On another note--I had a misdiagnosed bacterial infection... at least, that's what the doctor said during my third trip this month to urgent care. My meds are making me sick because they're super strong. He said that because the infection wasn't taken care of earlier, it's worse. Hope the third time's the charm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Animoto: Giving you cool ways to look at pics!


I was trolling around on the internet and came across Animoto (Thanks, Aaron!) Anyway, how cool is this to play around with?

Here's a 30-second view of some sightseeing we did on our recent trip:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Korean Adoptee Meets Birth Mother After 52 Years


This is my favorite story of the week. I was in Korea at the same time this was happening! In fact, I was at the Holt Adoption Agency the same day Willie and his family were meeting his biological mother!

Long story short, Willie got a letter out-of-the-blue from his adoption agency. His birth mother was trying to find him. She is now 81-years-old and has spent most of her life searching for him.

Here's the story I put on YouTube... but you can read his full story here on!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Korean Adoptees Struggle with Identity

A Facebook Friend, Grace, sent this article to me, and I felt enlightened! It's posted from the NY Times:

Basically, it says there is a new study that shows that first generation Korean adoptees (like me) considered themselves WHITE (as kids)! 78%, in fact.

However, it also showed that 60% said their racial identity became important by the time they were in middle school. As adults, nearly 61% traveled to Korea to learn about their culture and to find their birth parents. (Wow!)

It also goes on to say that most adoptees were raised in predominantly white neighborhoods and saw few, if any, people who looked like them. The report also found that the children were teased and experienced racial discrimination, often from teachers. And only a minority of the respondents said they felt welcomed by members of their own ethnic group.

(Insert: HOLY BEJEEZUS! I was the only Korean-looking child in my school! Some kid threw a box of rice at me! I have tons of nasty teacher stories! Mom, remember?... and yes, Korean-American students told me I was "too white"in college!)

As a result, many of them have had trouble coming to terms with their racial and ethnic identities.

The report was issued by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a nonprofit adoption research and policy group based in New York.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My fave pic of wedding hair!

My oldest sister Hyun Mi took these pictures! I just saw them yesterday on Hyun Jeong's Facebook page.

I think Hyun Jeong is so beautiful. I like this picture of us! I miss Korea so much. My heart aches this time, and this is the fourth time I've been back. One day I will write a post on my reflections. I really haven't had the time because of the new changes at work. It pains me.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Check it out: New Blogger Kevin Lighty

Holy smokes! My co-worker and friend Kevin Lighty just entered the blogosphere. He actually has done a great job of getting KSPR weather online (with the weather chat and the vlogs), but now you can read more about his personal life.

You might ask, "Does he even have a personal life?" Indeed!! He probably has one of the most active personal lives out of anyone in our newsroom. He always has great stories to tell, so I'm really excited about reading his new blog.

Add him to your blogroll: In Kevin Lighty's World

Sunday, November 01, 2009

We went Full HD!

After three long years, KSPR is now in its new building. We are the first station in the Ozarks to be full HD. That means we shoot in HD and air in HD. We launched our new set, and I had the privilege of airing KSPR's first story. Here goes:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Korean wedding in a nutshell

We took pictures before the ceremony.

The guys walked in first and bowed to my Korean father.

The audience...mostly extended Korean family.
During the ceremony, we bow to each other.

Afterwards, we take more pictures. This is my extended Korean family.

Next, we bow to our elders and serve them something to drink.

They throw chestnuts at us to see how many children we'll have.

Jim and I caught eight.

Then the men carry us on their backs. And we kiss them.

This is my immediate Korean family. Good lookin' bunch.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Korean Emergency Room Scare!

I forgot to tell my mom this when I was on the phone with her a few minutes ago, but Jim had a hospital scare last night (Sunday night)!

On the night of our Korean wedding, Glenn, Hyun Jeong, Jim and I went to T.G.I.Fridays in Busan for a late night meal. Jim and Glenn ordered a chicken sandwich. Hyun Jeong ordered a quesadilla, I think, and I ordered fries and boneless wings.

Apparently, something was wrong with the chicken.

Glenn spent his night throwing up. Jim woke up fine Sunday, but shortly after, he started sweating and throwing up. Glenn apparently recovered a little better because he was functioning (though he said his stomach hurt, and he felt like he had a hangover.) Jim had a tougher time surviving the day and after hours of traveling, looking for over-the-counter medicine, and trying to sleep it off... we ended up going to the hospital.

Glenn explained that it's not a big deal to go to the hospital, at least for Koreans. He said they go often, even if they have a cold. However, to a foreigner, I can see how it would be a little traumatic. We walked into the ER in Miryang, and there were several small beds out in the open in one room. We weren't sure we'd be able to communicate what was wrong with Jim. And, we were worried about insurance, medicine, etc. I wish I had a picture, but Jim didn't feel well, and I couldn't bring myself to take one.

There was no need to worry. Our doctor was great. In fact, he spoke English very well, so that was a nice bonus. Turns out, Jim had some sort of bacteria from eating some uncooked food. His small intestine didn't like it and was having spasms, causing stomach pain and vomiting. Jim got an IV and after an hour, we went home. Today he was able to eat mild food and took some medicine.

Although it was an awful way to spend our last night in Miryang, it was kind of neat. Hyun Mi, Hyun Jeong, my birth mom, Glenn, and Yeoun Jeong's husband were all there to take us to the hospital. They were all acting as his advocate, and they were all there for us. Plus, Hyun Mi and I got a chance to talk for a while, so it was special. It felt like a family! And, oddly enough, it was a neat experience. I don't know how Jim will feel about being in a Korean hospital, but it's definitely unique.

*P.S. I've been to Korea four times and have never had a bad experience with food. I don't think people need to be weary of what they're eating here.

My sister Hyun Mi called TGIFridays and told them they ruined two couple's wedding night! Let's hear it for my big sis!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Traveling Like a Real Korean

I love where we're staying in Busan. The hotel is not one that necessarily caters to Westerners. Bonus! What a cool experience.

The greatest thing I like is that the hotels provide everything a traveler could need--hairspray, combs, brushes...even condoms! haha! Okay, that's a little weird because you start to wonder what the previous guest did before you!

The two hotels we've stayed at also provide DVDs that you check out. You can also play PS2 in ours.

Korean Wedding was a Success!

We got married for the second time... it's so nice to renew our vows so close to our anniversary and to have a traditional Korean wedding in Korea!

The day started out early. We had to be at the wedding company at 8 a.m. for hair and makeup. It's a really interesting process.

The brides here will pay a company to do everything. And brides don't buy wedding dresses... they rent them. So, a bride can do both a traditional and a Western wedding to celebrate their nuptials. Most brides these days do Western weddings (with the white dress, like Americans.) In fact, one of my second cousins, who's 19, says he's never seen a Korean traditional wedding until ours. The company also provides engagement pictures, and the couple gets to wear several different wedding dresses/suits. It's a little like playing dress up. I think it's a great business idea, by the way.

Though the day is long, it's not like Western weddings. We had our wedding at noon, and by the time we were finished bowing to our elders, most of our 150 or so guests had eaten their lunch. Afterwards, we changed into our jeans and had lunch with just some extended family. Then, we went back to the wedding company to take more pictures with the immediate family. There's no band, no open bar, no dancing, and definitely no drunken dancing. Although, there is likely some heavy drinking among the Korean men at the wedding meal.

We wore three outfits today. We wore a hanbok, which is a traditional dress that's often worn by Koreans at things like weddings or holidays. Today, we all matched and the four of us wore a hot pink and bright blue hanbok. Pink is a good color in Korea, and it's a good color for men. Of course, that is a little different in Western culture, right? That's why Glenn and Jim were a little embarrassed to wear the pink outfit, but they did look handsome. I promised Glenn I wouldn't post a picture of video of him in the suit. So, sorry!

We took a lot of pictures with the company, but I'll have to post them when we receive them. We were running behind so I didn't have time to take personal pictures at the ceremony.

The ceremony is also a little difficult. First of all, the attire is uncomfortable. For the ceremony, I wore a heavy dress and a very large wig that looked something reminiscent of Star Wars. Pad Mei, anyone? Hyun Jeong's wig weighed 15 pounds. I can't begin to tell you how much strain that puts on your neck. At first, I felt like I was going to get sick. It reminded me of that feeling you get when you're at an amusement park and have been on too many rides. Your neck gets heavy and you think you're going to throw up. At first, that's how I felt. As the bride, you also have to keep your hands and arms up underneath your face. After 20 minutes, it can get uncomfortable. There is also deep bowing involved. Anyway, not to sound like a wimp, I'm just saying, it's a little more physical than your average Western wedding.

After that, we changed again. I don't have any pictures, but we changed into another traditional dress to pay respect to our elders in a paebeck (pay-beck) ceremony. We bowed to our elders and gave them drinks. In return, they gave us good wishes and gifts. I was really touched by what our birth father said. He spoke in English and said that no matter where we are, we could depend on each other. I found out later that Glenn helped him write it. I was really moved. Also, there was a fertility ceremony, of sorts. Traditionally, the parents throw chestnuts at the couple, and the couple tries to catch them. How many you catch tells you how many children you will have. Uh, Jim and I caught 8! Glenn and Hyun Jeong weren't really ready, and I'm not sure they caught any! But, I think they pretended to catch two or three! ha!

In the end, it was a pretty amazing day. It was really great to see Glenn and Hyun Jeong get married. Even though we were a part of the ceremony and got married in front of my Korean family, we were mostly happy about seeing my sister marry Glenn. After all, it is their first wedding (they'll probably have another ceremony in the U.S. one day.) They definitely deserved to enjoy today, and we were just honored they wanted us to be involved with their special occasion!

I've got more videos from today on Facebook. Pictures will come as soon as my adaptor and I find each other again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My nephew and his experience with white guys, The greatest little school on earth, and little Korean kids who cuss in English

7:30 p.m. Korea time, Friday--

I can't post pictures right now, so I can't tell you in good detail what we've been up to. It's no good without pictures.

I broke my camera. Of course, it was the one I bought JUST for this trip. Yup, at the DMZ, right before we got to the "good" part. So, then Mr. Chae drove all around Gyeongju to find a camera shop. We bought a new camera... a Nikon Coolpix-- the cheapest in the store...and guess what? I lost it. Sort of. Actually, after several minutes of panicking and searching, my birth father found it in his car. Too bad we are in another town, so we won't be able to retrieve it for another day. Jim really, really loves it when I do stuff like this.

At least I've got some video I can share.

The cutest thing is Won Hoo, my nephew. He's my youngest sister's baby. He's also the first grandchild. He is a little more than one year old. When Jim and I first showed up at my birth family's house yesterday, Won Hoo took one look at us and started bawling. Big tears, too! My birth family said he also does this when he sees Glenn. Poor Jim and poor Glenn. Our little nephew is afraid of the white guys...that is, until recently. Watch the breakthrough... off camera, Jim even got three kisses from the little guy. Thank goodness for chocolate! Hershey's should get a payout from that!

Also, now that we're in Miryang, we had a chance to see Hyun Jeong and Glenn's school that they started a few months ago. Jim and I are really impressed with their accomplishments. They look so professional around town with their flyers, billboard-banners, and cards! They have a lot to be proud of. I hope they'll move back to the states and try to teach English to our international students. Do you think I can convince them? ha!

After that, the four of us went to a park and played frisbee. Actually, Jim and Glenn played frisbee...and they made a few small friends in the process. The funny thing is that these kids didn't know a lot of English. They knew "Hi!", "Hello!", "I'm sorry!"...and "S-H-I-*!" One kid kept yelling it over and over and over. Glenn and Jim both kept saying, "No! Don't say that!" But, I don't think the kid understood. Or cared. I was laughing on the inside and wondering... where did he learn Hi, I'm sorry, and SHI#?! I guess, in reality, those are about the only three English words one needs to know anyway.

More will be posted on Facebook a little later. Right now, we're in Busan... and headed out to find some Mexican food for Glenn. I think he's super excited that we found near our hotel!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 3 and 4...and 5 short version

We are now with our birth family! I wish I could send some pictures, but I have a limited amount of time. I will try to post some tonight!

Here's some quick details: Went to Gyeongju, visited a Buddhist temple, traveled to Miryang and am staying at my birth family's home.

We were so excited to meet Glenn. He's a great guy! And we love little Won Hoo. He gave Jim "boh-bohs"... (kisses)...but not at first.

Okay, Jim says he loves his family and I love you, too! Mom and Dad... will write soon--love you!
We have to kop-shee-da (let's go!)... I think Glenn is going to try to get us some pizza. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 2 in Korea: Going to North Korea (Kind of), Guns, and Traditional Dancing

(It's 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, Korea time)

Tuesday was another long day, and I think my jet lag really hit me hard. Jim has been better because he's actually been able to sleep.

We did two big things:

1. Go to the Joint Security Area (where North and South Korea meet), also known as the DMZ or Demilitarized Zone.

2. Go to Chongdong Theater for an evening performance of traditional dancing and singing.

Let's start out with the DMZ. We had to meet early in the day at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul. We went to the sixth floor to meet with our tour company. Mr. Chae set this up for us because he did not go on the all-day tour.

Our bus had a lot of Japanese tourists and some English speaking tourists. However, Jim and I were the only ones from the U.S. The tour was split up into two parts-- the one before lunch was a quick look at the Third Tunnel (where North Koreans dug a tunnel to infiltrate and attack South Korea), a Korean War museum, and the Dorasan Station. The Dorasan Station is the train station that connects North and South Korea. It hasn't taken a trip yet because the North has not sent a train. So, there's a brand new train station with no passengers. Kind of creepy when you think of it.

This is at the observatory- people are looking at North Korea. Security woudn't allow us to get closer.

Anyway, then we had lunch. That's when our tour split up. Some people chose not to attend the Joint Security Area. Others could not go because of security reasons. I don't think individual Koreans can go to the JSA because of security issues.

The JSA is incredibly armed... it is intense. There's a lot of passport checking, warnings, oh, and you have to sign a waiver that basically says, "This is a hostile area. We cannot guarantee your protection, and you could get hurt or killed." Sure, why not sign it?! What?

We walk into a room and get briefed on how the DMZ began, how North Korea attacked the South on different occasions, and what we can't do when we get to the border (demarcation line.) NO POINTING, NO SMILING AT NORTH KOREANS, NO GESTURES, etc.

We walk out into the open, and low and behold, there are several armed South Korean guards standing at attention, all facing the North. There is a North Korean soldier, staring back at us with his binoculars. We all walk into a room, where important, joint meetings are held. That is the only time we are allowed to cross over into North Korea, since the room is split it half!

It's called the Demilitarized Zone, but as our guide said, it is actually one of the most heavily armed areas in the world. When I asked Jim later what he thought about it, he said it was a lot more serious than he thought it would be. He didn't realize it was going to be so serious, but he really liked it.

It is rather creepy and scary to realize that you're staring at a North Korean soldier, and according to the U.S. and ROK (Republic of Korea) soldiers, they might just attack you if you do something stupid. We couldn't bring purses because the North Koreans might think we have guns or weapons inside. Military personnel evaluate our clothing to make sure it is appropriate since the North watch us. It's crazy!

North Koreans also built a propaganda village on the border to make it appear that they were a really rich country. No one lives there. When they dug tunnels into the South, they lied and said the Japanese dug them. They also said they were digging coal mines (and even painted the tunnels black.) The area doesn't have coal... just granite.

There's so much I want to write about the DMZ, but it's already jumbled in my head. Bottom line: It's not for the kids. It's scary, but it's incredibly cool to think you could be at the edge of one of the most isolated (and arguably, weird) countries in the world. And it's heartbreaking to think that the two countries were separated by war and bloodshed. Reunification is the ultimate goal.

Oh, and I dropped my camera at the Dorasan Station, so the JSA pictures are on a disposal cam. Great.

Next, we went to the Chongdong Theater to see the musical, MISO. This is a famous theater in Seoul, known for traditional dancing. I can't believe the seats Mr. Chae got us. They were front row, center! I've never had seats like that. Amazing.

I couldn't take any video of the show, but this is from the show and Jim's favorite part:

The dancers are incredible. The drummers are flawless. The show was endlessly entertaining. This is the kind of show that makes me wish I knew more about Korean culture. Or, I guess, a part of Korean culture somehow. It's so beautiful. The way the girls dance with their eyes... they way they intricately move their feet under their hanboks... it's such a beautiful and difficult way to dance, but the women look like they're floating! Jim said he was go glad we went, so that makes me happy. I was worried he wouldn't want to see a show, but he said he really enjoyed it.

After that, it was time to hit the hay. I've never been so tired and cranky in my life. But it was an awesome day. We really absorbed some culture Tuesday!

Wednesday we head off to Gyeongu, the Capital of the Ancient Shilla Dynasty. This is about 3 or 4 hours south of Seoul and is a beautiful city. More to come later.

*You can see more pictures and video on my Facebook page.