Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Christmas of Photobombs

Well, it has officially been almost a year since I went home for Christmas. In approximately 2 weeks it will have been a year, so I figure it's about time to write my blog about returning home for the first time in 9 months. By the time I go home, I will have been gone for 18 months without seeing anyone. 27 months total, with only 1 week at home, which is not enough.

Elice's infamous grape salad, my favorite holiday side dish. Someone (Cough **Adrienne Allison and Anna** cough cough kept showing the grape salad to me on skype over Thanksgiving and it was very upsetting.
Allison. My first picture with my new camera.
My week home was a great refresher. If I hadn't gone, at the moment I'm sure I'd be extremely weepy. Occasionally of course, I get super homesick, usually around big family events like Avery's birth or Todd and Jen's wedding or Abel's birth. Or skyping with the family on Thanksgiving and having Ethan ask me, "Why can't you come for dinner?"
Father cooking dinner.

I flew home on the day of my 9 month mark in Korea, knowing I'd be staying for another year.

I left Seoul at 6:30 PM on Christmas Eve after working earlier in the day. I spent my time on the plane reading, watching Love Actually and Midnight in Paris, and sleeping.

I time traveled to 11AM on Christmas Eve.

Thomas and Doug
Aka, my plane landed almost 7 hours earlier than I took off, so I basically had 2 full Christmas Eve days. That was weird.

I cried a little bit when I saw Mt. Rainier from the airplane, which surprised me. For some reason, that was the moment I cried. Not when I saw my family, but a mountain. I did cry a couple other times.

Mr. Feeny, who has since disappeared.
I mention the crying, but also would like to point out and that I am really enjoying myself in Korea and love my students and the life I've established here over the last 20 months. At the same time, it's very hard being away from family and friends. It's a lot easier with Skype, email and facebook, but still difficult when you can't interact as much with people you'd normally see on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

The Christmas Tree.
I arrived at the Seoul airport 3 hours early in my excitement to get home, which meant that my suitcase was one of the first ones on the plane. I did not consider the fact that also meant it was going to be the last one off the airplane. I waited approximately 3 years at luggage claim, was rushed through customs, and finally saw mom, dad, Grant and Adrienne at the exit of customs.

It was great seeing them. We drove back to the Harbor and I got mildly overheated because I was wearing 2 shirts and leggings under my jeans, which is the clothing required while in Seoul but not in Seattle.

My first meal back in the states was at the Thai restaurant in Gig Harbor. I realized I'd been living in a country surrounded by non-English speakers for a while when I felt surprised that the waitress spoke to us in English.

Also, I kept almost saying "Kam-sa-ham-ni-da" (thank you) and multiple times throughout the visit bowed at people while giving them gifts. Mom noticed me bow to Kris Jolliffe and said, "Lauren, what are you doing? You just bowed." It's a habit!

Hagrid, our Angel on the top of the Christmas tree.
I'm a little worried that I'm going to bow and forget things that are rude/normal in America after being here for so long. One thing, in Korea, it's extremely normal to just yell "OVER HERE!" when you need a waitress to help you. I still have a hard time with that, because it would not be taken well in America.

 I'm already extremely out of the loop in regards to popular culture. I had to ask Allison Cloud what "yolo" meant the other day, which made her kindly laugh hysterically at me. I'm also behind on any music that isn't Gangnam Style. I'm a huge Adele fan and just heard "Skyfall" for the first time 2 days ago.

There was a video mom put on facebook, a comedic video about a song I'd never heard of, but apparently is constantly played on the radio.

Allison, Anna, Adrienne and I went to the mall and they were playing "I'm sexy and I know it" on the radio and I'd never heard it before that point. Though I did return to Korea and heard it a lot.

Anyway, back to Christmas. I was shocked the waitress at the Thai Hut spoke English.

Then, Adrienne and I went to Target, where I got really overwhelmed because everything had moved around, people were speaking in English and I couldn't find anything. And, as weird as this is to say, I was surprised and found it strange to not be in the minority somewhere.

On a random note, I've noticed I can also spot foreigners a mile away, even if they are clearly of Asian descent and I can't heat them talking. It's like an immediate, "Oh he's a foreigner!" from 2 blocks away in the dark. It's weird.

Anyway, I'd actually grown accustomed to being stared at constantly while here, so I actually noticed when people weren't staring. I bought one of the things I needed and then said, "Adrienne, I need to leave. This is a bit overwhelming."

We then went to Starbucks, where I said hello to Marc and Amy, then went home.

We had Christmas Eve dinner, which is where all the pictures earlier in this blog are from.

I bought myself a new camera for Christmas, since my other camera's battery compartment was opening by itself, so I couldn't take pictures without constantly fighting with my camera.

That meant that I was constantly taking pictures all week and irritating everyone with my camera.

Or people would steal the camera and take their own pictures of their nostrils.

Father and Thomas
Allison, Anna and I
All the Cloud and Hillard children. I love this picture.
And this one, which is a bit more chaos than the other one.
The mittens and hand warmers that Allison bought all of us in Norway.

Adrienne and her mittens.

 Adrienne and Anna.
 Mr. Feeny was mildly obsessed with trying to eat this tree.

 The following sequence of pictures-Adrienne and Anna stole my camera.


 My present for mom. A crinkle cup. The side of the box says, and I quote, "Oh Lovely Cup of Distorted. You're just caught in hand. Drinking coffee with it more fragrant flavor."

 Playing around with my camera.

 Adrienne, Anna and Trista
 Tralynda and Elice
 Grant, Mary and Father.
 Grant and Mary.
 Trista and I
 Grant's tag on my present...Brodo Baggins.
The best present ever.

 Minerva being adorable

The next morning, we opened our presents at home, then headed to Chris and Allison's for Christmas dinner. They have a beautiful home.

Hannah and Jared. They've gotten so old.
 Ethan looking adorable.
 Grant and Adrienne. Typical.
 Father and Allison.
 Marsha and Allison
 A normal holiday photo.

 Chris taking pictures of his nostrils.

 Ethan and Marsha.
 Explanation: I was playing with Ethan, having lots of fun and playing peek-a-boo in his tent. Then, he would laugh hysterically and throw himself into my lap. I thought in my head, "Oh I've missed this!" and then suddenly and unexpectedly I was crying on the floor. Mother and Allison were helpful and said, "Oh what's wrong?" and sat with me on the floor. Chris took pictures of me with my own camera, using it as a weapon against me as usual.

I refuse to put up the more obviously weeping pictures, but this deserved a story.

 Me and Ethan.

 Our family photo.
 And here, while trying to take pictures with everyone, began the Christmas of photobombs.

Grant photobombing.
 Grant again.

 Marsha photobombing.
Grant photobombing while Marsha walks away from photobombing.

 Chris and Grant photobombing.
 Chris and Allison photobombing their own photos

 Father photobombing

We walked around the neighborhood looking at lights, enjoyed dinner and then headed home. It was a great Christmas.

I noticed the evening before that I couldn't really eat the food for dinner. I had some grape salad, a little bit of turkey and stuffing, but barely anything else. And I had a stomach ache.

I basically had a stomach ache for a week. I don't know what it is, but I think my stomach isn't used to American food. A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers had a dinner at his apartment and they had a lot of normal American dishes and I had a stomach ache that night as well. It wasn't overeating, I am pretty sure that it's the food. I am worried when I go home, there might be problems.

Minerva being cute.
 Minerva being creepy.
 Feeny being creepy.
 Minerva being creepy
 and cute again
Feeny being fat.
 and adorable.
I went to the Clouds, of course. They had a brand new puppy, one that they'd gotten the day I'd arrived. His name is Boomer and he was super adorable. And now he's huge.

 He was sooooo cute.

 I was really excited about him.

I spent the rest of the trip visiting everyone and avoiding jet lag and sleep. I refused to sleep for the week, because I didn't want to waste time sleeping. So I scheduled everything very precisely and managed to see almost everyone that I needed to.
Of course I took some pictures of the Harbor.

 As I was going through these pictures, even I was surprised at how small the buildings are. That's what happens when you don't see your hometown for a year.

Feeny being fat.
 Alyson arrived the night before I left. She flew back to Seattle to make sure she saw me, which was wonderful of her.

Marsha, Greg and Ethan also came over for my last night. I played with Ethan a bit, chatted with everyone, then wept a little bit more when they left.

 Kris Jolliffe came over as well. Here's Adrienne lying with her feet on Kris, as usual.
The Clouds came over and we spent the last night singing Glee and Disney karaoke. Literally, we sang for 3 hours. And talked and just had a ton of fun. It was the perfect ending to a great trip.

I can't believe it's been a year (and I managed to not write this blog for a year.) Time has flown by, which is a good sign, since it means I have been enjoying myself a lot. I am back home at the end of May for the summer! I will see everyone soon and I'm very excited about that!


    this blog made me laugh a lot and also made me sad because youre not HERE
    but grants pictures were absolutely hilarious. why can he not look civilized in one picture for gods sake
    <3 Alana

  2. Hahah - Alana, I agree. I LOVE these photos and this blog. Haha...I wish you had been there!! And you - Lauren - come home this instant! We can't stand the holiday without you!

  3. I know! I must get home immediately. And Alana you MUST come to Gig Harbor the instant that I am home!!