My first Korean wedding

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We have lived in Korea for three years. A few times I have heard things about Korean weddings, but I was never invited to one until recently.

We attend church off post. There is an American pastor for the English congregation and his brother in law is the pastor for the Korean congregation. The daughter of the Korean pastor got married (my pastor’s niece) and the entire church was invited.

Most Korean weddings take place in a wedding hall. It is a very efficient process. The bride typically rents her dress. The package includes hair, makeup, and pictures as well. The groom’s family usually pays for most of the wedding.

We arrived to the wedding hall about 40 minutes before the wedding was to begin. They put out the full parking lot sign a few cars behind us so everyone else had to park far away and create their own parking space (totally normal thing to do in Korea).

We parked on b4. Every floor we went up, the elevator became more crowded. Korean elevators can hold a lot of people. There is no such thing as personal space.

We arrived on the 5th floor where our wedding was to be. The first stop is the money envelope. There is a line for the bride and a line for the groom. The person in charge of your line will give you a white envelope. You can write a note and then put your money inside. If you are not super close to the bride or groom, you can give 30,000 won (about $30 USD). The closer you are to the person getting married, the more you give. If you get married at a later date, they are supposed to give the same amount to you.

After you turn in your envelope, the person in charge will give you a ticket for the buffet. You can choose to go to the buffet before or after the ceremony. This is your wedding gift. There are no registries for what the bride and groom want in their kitchen.

Next, the guests visit the bride and take a picture with her.

The parents of both the bride and groom will be in the lobby. You are supposed to greet them. The mothers will be wearing traditional hanbok.

During the wedding ceremony, the mothers walk in together, light a candle, bow, and go to their seats.

Next, the groom walks in followed by the father of the bride and the bride (in a Christian wedding otherwise the bride and groom may walk in together).

There are no bridesmaids, groomsmen, or flower girls. The people who work in the wedding hall make sure that the ceremony runs smoothly. They hold the bouquet when needed or fix the bride’s dress.

The bride and groom recited vows by reading them.

 

Next, the father of the bride spoke to the couple. He encouraged them to love and take care of each other. The father of the groom welcomed everyone to the wedding. Then was special music. The bride and groom stood together for two songs sung by different people.

At this point in the ceremony, sometime the groom has to do something special to prove his love. I heard stories today about push ups and running down the aisle. Our groom today only had to say “horray!” three times.

To end the ceremony, the bride and groom bowed, first to her parents, then to his parents, and finally to their wedding guests.

They then walked down the aisle to the end where they kissed and flower petals fell on them.

Pictures were at the end of the ceremony. First were pictures of the immediate family, followed by pictures of extended family, and finally friends. The bouquet toss is usually staged so that you know who is catching the bouquet.

With the official ceremony over, we headed upstairs to the buffet. We had to give our ticket as admission. There were guests from several weddings in the same buffet. There was so much food! Most of it was labeled in Korean and English.

Sometimes you don’t see the bride and groom after the ceremony. We were at the buffet long enough that they came out in their traditional hanbok.

I had a wonderful afternoon with my friends. The wedding ceremony didn’t seem that different from an American wedding. The venue was interesting because there were so many weddings happening at the same time.

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Princess Cut Movie Review

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Watchman Pictures

I love a good romance movie, especially one that doesn’t have any inappropriate scenes or themes in it. Princess Cut by Watchman Pictures, is one of those movies. The movie would be appropriate for elementary school students to see, but I think they would be bored with a love story. They use the word “intimate” instead of “sex” in this movie. There aren’t any kisses either. Someone tried to kiss Grace and she stopped him and said, “Not until you put a ring on it.” This is a movie that I definitely plan to watch with Clarissa when she is in middle school because it provides so many discussion points about relationships but also family dynamics.

Princess Cut The Movie

The movie is about Grace and her hard working, Christian family who lives on a soybean farm in North Carolina. At the beginning of the movie, Grace is kind of your typical college girl who just happens to be a Christian. She is so focused on her relationships with boys that she isn’t really paying attention to the people around her. She has two relationships before she realizes that something needs to change.

By this time, her dad has been encouraged by his pastor to study about the father’s role in his daughter’s relationships. He learns that the giving the daughter away during the wedding ceremony actually comes from Jeremiah 29:6. Grace and her dad have a conversation about how things need to shift so that they can do this God’s way. Her dad encourages her that “it’s not as much about finding the perfect person as becoming who God made you to be.”

During the second half of the movie you really watch Grace grow into this beautiful woman of God. She really wants to honor God and her family in the things that she does, including any romantic relationships. She goes to the library for some books about the subject and actually picks up some that I really enjoyed during that season of life, When God Writes Your Love Story and Boundaries in Dating.

A young doctor named Clint does get to know their family and asks for Grace’s parents permission to get to know her better before he even talks to Grace about it. When he talks to her he says, “Your heart is too precious a treasure to play games with.” That is the kind of young man that I would like to pursue Clarissa. I don’t want to give away the whole story. I will say that I really enjoyed it, which means it did have a happy ending.

There are so many good things that I will discuss with Clarissa when we watch this movie.

  • It’s not about waiting for the perfect guy. It’s about trusting God.
  • I want you to be able to talk to your dad and I about anything. God. Boys. Life. No matter how bad you think it is.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
  • Know what your boundaries will be physically before you start dating.
  • Not everyone believes that same things that we do, so you need to be careful about who you are receiving counsel from.
  • What kind of a friend do you want to be? What kind of friends do you want to have?
  • How should you treat your parents? siblings? How should they treat you?
  • What blessings has God given us that we can share with others?
  • How can we serve other people as a family?

I have seen a few “Christian” movies. Often you can tell they are lower budget than something that comes out in the movie theater. The actors were pretty good in this one. There was one scene that Grace was supposed to be crying and it wasn’t super believable. There were a few times when the camera angles were odd. For the most part, the acting and the sets were great.

Princess Cut {Watchman Pictures Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Trying to make Easter Real

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I guess I need to work on how Clarissa discusses Christmas and Easter with other children. We celebrate both of these holidays with a curriculum. At Christmastime, we do Truth in the Tinsel and at Easter, we do Sense of the Resurrection. Both of them are written by Amanda White. I like them because they are hands-on ways for Clarissa to learn scripture and experience things with her senses.

Clarissa tells her friends all about what we are learning, which I think is great because she is trying to teach her friends what she believes about Jesus. The problem is Santa and the Easter Bunny. Especially Santa. When she sees a book with Santa or someone taking a picture with Santa she makes it a point to say something like, “Why is that man wearing a costume? Santa isn’t real.” Which is only a problem when one of her friends insists that Santa is real and Clarissa wants to argue instead of just letting it go.

Usually, Clarissa really enjoys doing activities with her lessons. I was surprised that this time, she mostly wanted to read the story and talk about it each day. We had some great discussions at Christmastime this way, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. She was excited to read her Bible stories each day. She would look at the picture for each activity and decide if she wanted to do it or not. We only colored one flag, so I guess we won’t need to print them next year.

We started by talking about how Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with her hair. Clarissa had a great time smelling my essential oils and choosing her favorites so that we could smell nice too.

The first time we did Sense of the Resurrection, we had a great time studying the Triumphal Entry, waving palm branches and dancing to worship music. This year was very different. She didn’t want to listen to music at all. She was excited about the donkey that Jesus rode on. So we talked about the time I got to ride a donkey on a mission trip in Mexico. We looked at my scrapbook and had a wonderful discussion about why we would want to help people or tell them about Jesus. I wonder what kind of mission trips our family will take together as Clarissa grows…

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She always asks when it will be “foot washing day.” I think she really likes to play in the water. But I like that she is learning that Jesus was such a servant. He was God, but He still washed his friends’ feet. She actually washed my feet this year as well.

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We talked about how there was an earthquake when Jesus was on the cross and made some noise makers to remember.

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I think her favorite activity was putting Jesus in the tomb. We were supposed to make a place in our house that we could walk by for a few days that was shut in because when Jesus went into the tomb no one could get in and no one could get out. They even posted soldiers there to be sure. Clarissa decided that a dance party inside was the best idea. But we did talk about how Jesus was actually dead in the tomb and not dancing.

As usual, we had some books that we read on a regular basis. Our favorites are : God Gave Us Easter, The Peek a Bible Easter Story, The Parable of the Lily, Lily’s Easter Party, and The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story. New this year to our collection is The Miracle of Easter.

We usually do an Easter basket with a book and a small toy or two. This year, the things I bought didn’t really fit in the basket. Clarissa was most excited about The Come Celebrate Easter sticker book and her two magazines. We also gave her a God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional, construction paper, and stickers.

We went to church on Resurrection Day. It was fun to hear the pastor say that one of his favorite things about Korea is that “they don’t celebrate Easter. The Christians do, however, celebrate Resurrection Day.” So when you’re walking about Korea you don’t see bunnies or candy everywhere. The only place that Easter is commercialized is at the PX on base.

Since Clarissa and I have spent the past few weeks doing Sense of the Resurrection, we talked about the Last Supper as the pastor was explaining communion. She seemed to understand what was happening and how Jesus said his body was his bread and his blood was the wine. She said that she believed that Jesus died on the cross for her sins so I let her take communion. She definitely didn’t appreciate the wine…

Clarissa has been asking about s’mores since we studied tents and camping with Abraham. We can’t find gluten free graham crackers here, so my mom sent some in her Easter box. After church we decided to introduce Clarissa to s’mores. We roasted marshmallows on the gas burner of the stove and then put a piece of chocolate on the graham cracker. She really enjoyed it but couldn’t be bothered to roast marshmallows a second time so her second s’more she used a normal marshmallow.

On Monday, our friends invited us over to dye Easter eggs. Clarissa has never done this before. We tried a method that where we put dye in whipped cream. Clarissa really enjoyed rolling the eggs (and licking the whipped cream off her fingers).

On Tuesday, we finished our Sense of the Resurrection study with a picnic at the sand playground to talk about Jesus’s picnic on the beach with his friends.

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Bee – bim-Bop!

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Clarissa has been very literal with her books lately. If it’s in a book, we have to do it. One such book is Bee – bim- Bop! by Linda Sue Park.

We got this book from the library before our Hong Kong trip to learn a little bit about Korean culture. My favorite Korean dish is probably bibimbap so I thought it would be fun to read about it. In the book a little girl and her mom go to the grocery store to buy ingredients and then come home and make bibimbap together for the family dinner that evening. At the end of the book, the author lists her family’s recipe for bibimbap, with specific instructions for children and adults.

Clarissa asked if we could make it for dinner. I assured her that we would after we returned from vacation. She would not let me forget! The day after our return she demanded to go to the commissary to buy the ingredients. She fought with Daddy one night about dinner because Tim wanted pizza and Clarissa wanted to make bibimbap.

When it was time to make the bibimbap, Clarissa was excited to help. She helped measure the rice and the water. She measured the ingredients for the marinade and mixed it up. She even helped with the eggs.

At which point, we had been working for at least 20 minutes and she was tired of helping. She went to the couch to read some books while I sautéed the meat and vegetables.

I think they should charge more for bibimbap in restaurants! It is always less than $10 and it takes a while to make. We all enjoyed our meal and plan to put it in our meal rotation. Clarissa even ate eggs and carrots with her rice. I am hopeful that she will continue to try new things and enjoy the other vegetables as well.

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Ingredients:

1 cup white rice
1 pound sirloin or other beef steak
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
4 eggs
PAM cooking spray

Marinade:
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5 tablespoons gluten free tamari sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:
1. Pour one cup of rice and two cups of water into a saucepot. Cook on high until the water boils. Then switch to low heat until the water is absorbed into the rice.
2. Mix all marinade ingredients into a large bowl.
3. Slice beef into thin slices. Place sliced beef into marinade and mix thoroughly.
4. Whisk eggs in a bowl. Spray small frying pan. Pour egg in sections into . Cook like a pancake. Slice eggs into strips. Put into small bowl for serving.
5. Spray frying pan. Saute carrots until tender. Put into small bowl for serving.
6. Spray frying pan. Saute spinach until tender. Put into small bowl for serving.
7. Spray frying pan. Saute mung bean sprouts until tender. Put into small bowl for serving.
8. Spray frying pan. Saute beef and marinade until beef is cooked through. Put into small bowl for serving. Pour marinade into small container for serving as well.
9. Serve with rice in bowls. Each person adds the ingredients that they want to their bowl and mix it all up.

Tuesday at Ocean Park

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Tuesday was a really chill day for us. The only thing on our agenda was Ocean Park so we didn’t set an alarm. We woke up, had a lazy morning, went to McDonald’s for breakfast on the way to the subway, and arrived to the park about 11.

They opened at 10 but there weren’t lines for anything. I really liked the set up of the park. It reminds me of Busch Gardens in that there were themed areas. Each area had food, animals, a gift shop, and rides. Because everything was so spread out, the animals all had huge areas, which was great to see.

We started with the aquarium. The thing that I most liked about it was that the viewing started at the floor so Clarissa could see everything. I didn’t have to lift her to see.

Our next stop was Asia to see golden monkeys, pandas, and red pandas.

There was an area for the history of the Goldfish. We also got to see some turtles and watch an otter eat this lunch.

We went to Whisker Harbor for some rides that were Clarissa size. We tried a carousel and a train. Both times we were the only ones on the ride. She also played in a bounce house and on a playground.

By this time it was almost 1 PM and we were getting hungry so we decided to take the cable car to the other side of the park for lunch. We literally had to go over the mountain to get there. But the view along the way was amazing.

After lunch we saw Spurgeon and sharks.

We also saw dolphins, seals, sea lions, walrus, and penguins.

Along the path we would randomly see amazing views.

We saw an arctic fox, cruised the Amazon rainforest, and finally ended with a visit to Australia.

We were at the park for about 6 hours and saw all of the animal exhibits. It was very windy and overcast most of the day so there weren’t many people there. Roller coasters and other thrill rides are available for older kids and adults.

Tim read about a Thai restaurant that someone claimed was the best in Asia so we headed there for dinner. The Spice House Restaurant, located in Wan Chai had decent food, but it definitely wasn’t better than anything we normally have. And the service was not great either.

We saw a cool street display on the way back to the train station.

We passed Wan Chai market as well so we stopped there on the way back to the subway. It was mostly flowers and food. But there were random stalls of clothes and toys.

When we arrived at our train station, we went to customer service to return our octopus cards and get a refund of our balance on the cards. They charged about $1 USD to do this, but it was definitely worth it because we got about $25 USD back.

Carole P Roman Children’s Books Review

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Clarissa has always loved books. She has several in her bedroom and we go to the library on a regular basis. She has her favorites but is always excited to get something new. I had never heard of Carole P Roman before this review, but I thought we would enjoy reading her children’s books and collections anyway.

We were able to choose three books from a very long list. We chose Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?, If you were me and lived in… South Korea: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures around the World, and One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day. Clarissa was so excited to receive them that she HAD to be in the picture with the books.

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Clarissa’s favorite book of the three is Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?. The book has two sisters and an adult but you only ever see the adults legs so we can’t figure out if it is the mom or the dad. Clarissa really wants a sister so that is one reason that she likes this book. The story itself has a great message. The girls like to dress up and play princess and so they want to know if they have to stop being a princess when they grow up. The adult assures them that they will “always be a princess to me.” I also really like that the adult tells the children that when they grow up they should choose a job that they really enjoy and that it is okay to change your mind or do more than one career. As a mom, I want Clarissa to grow up to use her gifts to serve others but also to do something that she loves to do. I also like the message that you can change your mind or choose something new in a different season.

The next book we chose was If you were me and lived in… South Korea: A Child’s Introduction to Cultures around the World. Obviously, we chose this one because we have lived in South Korea for the past three years. I wanted a book for the house that would remind Clarissa about this culture when she is older and we live in America again. This book did not disappoint. It is written is a very conversational manner so that there is information but it doesn’t seem like a reference book. Clarissa really enjoyed the pictures. I was happy to see that some of our experiences are included in the book. For example, my favorite tourist site that we have visited is the Korean Folk Village in Yongin (you can read about that trip here). When we got to the page on Korean barbecue, Clarissa said, “We’ve done that before!” Each page also listed a few Korean words and their meanings.

 

There are twenty books in this series and I am sure we will order more. There is one on China which we will definitely read if we head to China before we leave. I was disappointed to see that she doesn’t have one on Japan or Hong Kong which are places we have already visited. If we move to Europe, there are several choices though.

The final book, One to Ten: Squirrel’s Bad Day, wasn’t our favorite. Squirrel drops his acorns and thinks it’s the worst thing ever. His friend Rabbit wants to help him with perspective by assigning a number from one to ten to the problem. I appreciate trying to teach kids perspective but Clarissa really couldn’t get into the book. I don’t think she enjoyed the illustrations. She is probably a little young for the concept as well. I do feel like as Clarissa gets older we can have some conversations about keeping things in perspective though so elementary school kids might enjoy this book.

I enjoyed the books written by Carole P. Roman. You can find both the print books and kindle versions for sale on Amazon. Because she has written so many books, you may want to read posts from the other reviewers if there is a different story that you are interested in.

Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday in Central Hong Kong

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Clarissa slept in on Monday so we got a later start than we thought we would. We took the MTR to Central Station and followed the signs to the Peak Tram. It was probably a 20 minute walk, and most of it was uphill.

We bought tickets online at a discount and thought that we would be able to skip the long line forming. Nope. We waited in line for over an hour to take the tram up to Victoria Peak.

Our tickets included admission to the Sky Terrance 428 (428 meters above sea level). We took several flights of escalators to the top and were not disappointed. The views of the Harbor from Victoria Peak were amazing.

There was a big heart at the top. Clarissa had a fun photo shoot with that. She even took a picture herself. (I will give you a hint, it’s the one with the fingers in the picture…)

After seeing the view, we had lunch at Fujiyama Mama a few floors down. Our view was still beautiful and the food was delicious. Tim had a sampler of four kinds of sushi and I had California roll with edamame. Clarissa wouldn’t eat the sushi itself, but loved the fish eggs on the outside.

On our way to the exit, they had a 3D art area, which reminded me of the Trick Eye Museum that everyone goes to in Seoul. It was free so we decided to check it out. Tim was the photographer and Clarissa and I had a great time being silly.

Then, we headed toward Clarissa’s most anticipated activity of the day, the chocolate museum! The Art of Chocolate was located across the street from the Peak Tram terminal. We found a cool shop to buy souvenirs on our way there.

We bought tickets online for admission to the museum and unlimited chocolate tasting. The museum looks small on the outside, but we probably spent 20 minutes looking at these sculptures made of chocolate. I was surprised at how detailed they were. All of them had signs with history, ingredients, and ended by saying that you could order each edible creation. Clarissa kept saying, “It’s so beautiful!” I wonder if she would enjoy visiting an art museum?

At the end were some items made of chocolate that you could touch and play with. I even found the letters for all of our names.

There was a gift shop where you could make your own edible creation or buy one pre-made.

There were a few samples of milk chocolate and white chocolate at the end. We were going to be disappointed that we paid for unlimited chocolate tasting until the girl came over and told us to sit down.

She brought out two trays of chocolate. There were nine different flavors to try. She instructed us which order to try them (we were to end with the dark chocolate). She brought us a pitcher of water, three cups, three plates, and three spoons. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Clarissa’s favorite was the strawberry, I liked the salted carmel, and Tim liked the combination white and milk chocolate best.

The wait to go down the tram was not as long as the line to go up. We headed back down the hill to central Hong Kong. Tim navigated us to Landmark Mall. We saw a few toy stores and a book store. We even found a store called Oliver’s Delicatessen that reminded us of Whole Foods. We were excited to find a few things we can’t get in Korea. Tim picked out his birthday cake flavor and I bought a mix for gluten free gingerbread for Christmas.

Then, we headed to Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. We had to go uphill again and there were plenty of stairs. We tried three different streets before Tim decided to push the stroller in the street while Clarissa and I took the steps.

We splurged and got special drinks with our meals, which were all delicious. Clarissa loves to dance to the music.

We headed to Causeway Bay and Tim found something at Razer, a gaming store. It was 7:00 so we decided to make our way to the Symphony of Lights at 8:00. It was complicated to find our way there. We made it just in time. The light show is supposed to be in the Guinness Book of World Records. But we were honestly disappointed. There was music and a few lasers. But that was it.

It was cool to see the Victoria Harbour at night though. There were some boats lit up in different colors that went by.