Friday, February 20, 2009

the last name may be cursed

I just talked to my brother on the phone for the first time since being in Korea! I've talked to him on Skype when he's at my Mom's house a number of times, but every time I call him I can't get him. When his ring back tone started playing it made me feel nice and close to home, I couldn't help but smile as I listened to "I'm a Country Boy." Any of you who know AC know he really is a country boy. The first time I called, I didn't get him, and then I tried my sister because I thought they would be together this weekend, but no answer from her either :( Finally, I sent a text to Alan via (This is awesome, it's where you can go online and send a text through Verizon's website.). I just told him I missed him and loved him and he best answer my call next time. He replied "call back." When I called him back he informed me that he and Amanda where in fact together and had both just ignored my phone calls because the number was blocked. I'm the middle child; they've always picked on me :) It was so nice to get to talk to both my brother and sister, but it really made me miss them.

Now on to the what we will call "The Luck of the Schamps." During our conversation, Alan informed me that after the huge ice storm his electricity was out for over a week. When it was finally fixed, the electric company made a mistake and sent a lot higher voltage through his outlets than what it was suppose to be. AC heard what he referred to as a "cannon goin off behind the house." Unfortunately, all of his TV's and his washing machine wouldn't work after this incident. The electric company told him he was actually lucky that his entire house didn't burn down...scary! This is just one example of the luck that my family seems to have. Amanda, on the other hand went out of town about a month ago, and her car caught on fire, which left her stranded for a number of days before she could get it fixed. When she finally did return home, a pipe in her freezer had burst and her entire house was flooded because she had been gone and it continually ran out into her house until she returned home. She had just put new hardwood floors down throughout her entire condo, which were ruined. I felt soooo bad for her. She really had a rough couple of weeks. My Daddy had a much more serious scare recently. He was working on finishing a house that he's building back when the ice storm hit. The electricity was out at this house, and for some reason he needed it to stay warm. So, he was trying to hook a generator up. Evidently, generators are dangerous because they release carbon monoxide fumes into the air. Well, Dad passed out in the room with the generator, and had to be drug out of the house by a worker that he had with him. Thankfully, there was someone with him because if not, he would have never gotten out. See....I'm not lying!!! These are are common occurrences if you're a Schamp.

I have no clue when this started, but my earliest recollection of the curse being evident in my life took place when the three of us were small children. You see, Mom and Dad were still married at the time, and it was a Sunday morning. We were all ready for church, and Dad took us kids down to the car while Mom was still in the house. I think the phone may have rang, and Mom yelled out for Dad to come back into the house. Dad had turned the car on to warm it up because it was snowing outside. Alan was really young, so he was strapped into his car seat and Amanda and myself were probably bouncing around the car. Dad took off back into the house, and I guess Mom was on her way down to the car. Amanda and I, probably about 4 years old and 8 at the time, decided that we needed to see out the windows (they were covered in snow). I, with all my 4 years of knowledge began looking for the windshield wipers. Well, let's just say that my driving has not changed alot since then, and I knocked the car into reverse instead. The driveway sat on a hill, so the car immediately started to roll backwards, picking up speed as it rolled. Amanda bailed out. She swore for the longest time that she fell out, but I distinctly remember her saying ,"I'm gettin outta here, you can't drive AMBER." Mom and Dad were both chasing the car by this point. So, they probably saw their precious little 8 year old Amanda plunge from the car and fall to the ground, as the car wheel ran over her leg. I'm sure they thought the worst!!! The car finally hit a tree or maybe it was Dad's old race car (can't remember), but it stopped and AC and I were still in the car, me at the wheel and he in his car seat. But poor Amanda was laying in the snow. Miraculously, no one was hurt! Amanda's leg must have sunk down in the snow as the car rolled over it, and she was left with only bruises and tire tracks on her legs. I don't really remember the details after all the commotion, but for some reason I think we still made it to church! Not sure if I was punished. Maybe Mom and Dad were so glad everyone was ok that they let it slide??? They should've know right then that this was only the first of many collisions that their children would have over the years.

God is obviously watching over my family and myself. As I look back over many similar freak accidents that have happened to each of my siblings and myself over the years. It's kinda scary to think about how on so many occasions a slight change of events could have hurt or even taken one of our lives. The truth is... I don't really believe in luck or curses, but I do believe that there is a God who watches over us everyday. Thankfully, He has protected me and my family despite our own stupidity, recklessness and the last name :)
Sorry, I was so long winded, just needed to talk about my family today. I've been missing them a lot lately!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going to the chapel and we're....NOT :)

Finally, we got to dress up! I haven't gotten dressed up in a dress and heels in over 6 months. For a girl, this is kind of a big deal (or for me at least it is). When you put on a dress and heels and wear makeup, it just makes you feel prettier! So, I was so excited when we got an invitation to a fellow teacher's wedding. Anna is the sweetest girl, and we had no clue she was even engaged until we got our invitation. Her wedding was the perfect event to follow up Valentines Day, and she looked absolutely beautiful. You know how weddings make you feel all nice and loving, well it's no different in Korea. The actual event was quite different than what we are use to, but the loving feelings were all the same.

For starters, weddings in Korea take place in a wedding hall. Wedding halls usually have a number of areas where different couples are getting married throughout the day. There are lots of people! The couple and their guests use the wedding hall, and then they move on, and it's another couple's turn. When the guests first arrive at the wedding, they go to the "waiting area". This is where the bride and all her beauty are on display. People come in, view and obviously make a huge fuss over the blushing bride. She sits there and smiles and talks to the different guests as they give their congrats. The guests also go and officially make their presence known by giving a monetary gift, and in return you receive a meal voucher for the reception. Then it's time for the ceremony. You see, no one makes a big deal about the number of guests you invite to a ceremony here. The people who get there first go in and take a seat, and after the seats are full people just stand. There are also a couple of flat screens on the wall right outside of the wedding hall where people stand out there and watch if there isn't enough room inside. It was really funny to me because right before the bride walked down the aisle there was this really loud music that reminded me of the music that you might hear if you were at Rupp about to watch the CATS play ball (which I'm really missing at this time of the year). I couldn't help myself, I looked at Chris and said, "Are you ready to rumble?" This was followed by brief neon light show, and then the music changed to a more formal arrangement and the bride started down the entertaining, but once again Korea wins the tacky award :) The reception is a huge event where everyone eats a buffet style dinner, but all of the different weddings guests are together. There was no wedding cake, which surprised me, and we only briefly saw the bride and groom after the ceremony. They don't go and eat at the reception, which I thought was kinda sad because they didn't get to enjoy the was awesome. Instead, they were getting ready for the next ceremony, the Korean traditional ceremony. All I know about this ceremony is they wear the traditional dress of Korea (as pictured to the right), but I have no clue what it's like because this is a much more private event for family.

It was so interesting to see a wedding in a culture so different from ours. Maybe I'll bring a little Korean tradition to my wedding when I do make it to the chapel! HAHA...just kidding, don't worry I'll just go watch the CATS play if I start craving a light show and the rumble song :) In conclusion, Anna looked beautiful, and I'm so happy for the newlyweds! Their wedding was such a pleasant ending to our Valentines Day weekend.

Korea, my love <3

OK...So maybe this title is exaggerated a little, but it was such a nice Valentines Day! I'm not gonna lie, I have mixed emotions about a single day in the year when love fills the world from east to west. It seems that love should fill the world each and every day of the year! However, realistically speaking, I'm aware that we need a day to be reminded of our affection for those loved ones who hold a special place in our hearts! This is exactly what Chris and I did on V Day. We had fun together and were reminded of why we enjoy each other's company so much!

Our Valentines Day was just a classic date night with dinner, a little shopping, some photo booth fun and a movie. I've been wanting to see "He's Just Not That Into You" since I read about it online a few weeks back. It's a chick flick, and it has a power cast. Not to mention, I enjoyed and had to force myself to live by the book after being introduced to it in college. Unfortunately, I too, have met a few guys through out the years that just weren't that into me :) Anyway, there have been no previews on TV for this movie to come to Korea. So, I thought I was just gonna have to wait and see it a couple of months down the road. Much to my surprise, when we went to the movies to see that Benjamin Button movie,the lovey dovey chick flick had made it our way!!! Chris said we could watch the other movie another time, and so I got to see it. We actually both enjoyed it (or he at least acted like he did). I was so happy, it really made the day!

In true Korean style, we made our way to a photo booth after the movie. We had seen this place a while back, but never ventured in to see exactly what all the hype was about. I should back up for a moment to explain a little something about Korean culture. You see...people are extremely obsessed with their appearance (even more than what would be considered normal in the US). Everywhere you go you see women (and men for that matter) snapping pictures of themselves: on buses, in supermarkets, in restaurants, in the doctors office and even in the restrooms!!! Ok...yes, I'll admit it, I will occasionally snap a picture of myself to make sure I don't look really creepy, but NOT while I'm sitting in Starbucks or in a public restroom...this is just too far. Also, these people are crazy about stickers with animated characters and anything shiny, it's sooo tacky! This being said, a Korean photo booth session takes all of these things and combines them. You go in and cheese it up, then you pick your favorite shots, then you use a computer to glam your photos up with glitter and virtual stickers. It's about 15 minutes and 5000 won worth of Asian heaven. It really was fun, or maybe it was just really funny. Either way, here's what we walked away with, stickers with our faces on them...oooo Korea :)

We didn't even make it to the end of the night before someone else had captured Chris's interest. We came upon this beautiful dog, but don't worry I wouldn't let him take it home! He often has to remind me that I shouldn't buy new clothes because of the fact that we have a plane ride and two suitcases standing between us and home. This time it was me reminding him of the difficutly in making extreme purchases while abroad. The fact that the dog practically knocked a Korean woman down by jumping on her and then licking her perfusely, only added to the affection that we instantly had for this dog. If there wasn't a big ocean standing in the way, we would definitely have a dog today!
Valentines Day did not end here, but this is all I have time for now...more to come later!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Birthday & Shisha Celebrations

What a fun weekend!!! It started out with a birthday party for a friend and co-worker Kat (who is from Iowa) on Friday night. The night was filled with lots of cake, ice cream and sparklers, which is very typical for birthdays in Korea. It is also tradition to come up with some kind of strange concoction for the birthday girl or boy to drink. It is usually something awful, similar to a fear factor drink and the person cannot refuse the drink or this means they will have a year of bad luck. I'm pretty sure Kat took the bad luck!!!

Last night we made our way to the Turkish restaurant that I'm pretty sure I've talked about before. We went with a group of teachers and some Koreans, and had a really great time. The Turkish restaurant is nice because not only can you have an amazing dinner and dessert, but you can also smoke a hookah or shisha. Now let me explain exactly what a shisha is for those of you who may worry. A shisha is a smoking device that originated in Egypt, and is very popular among the middle eastern countries. You can smoke a variety of herbal fruits, and they have a very nice taste. It's nothing like smoking a cigarette, and it's not illegal or harmful to your don't worry! I found a picture online of a shisha . I forgot to take one at the restaurant because I was too busy trying to capture all of our attempts at becoming dragons for the night :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Thankful for the adventure

As I woke up this morning, and took a look at the weather I couldn't help but feel a sense of thankfulness!!! It seems like the coldest weather has now passed in Korea, and we should be cruising into spring in no time. As much as I have tried not to complain (especially via blog), the winter has been a very though season for Chris and myself being abroad. It seems that we found ourselves in a funk. The weather made travel difficult, the holidays were a bit sad and lonely, and numerous times we really just wanted to pack up and head home. However, as the weather is slowly changing and we near our half way point, we've found ourselves much more optimistic. Other foreign teachers warned us about the "season" that we went through. Most of our friends that have been here longer than us also went through a similar season. It's said to come around your third or fourth month in Korea, and it usually lasts a couple of months. So, maybe it truly had nothing to do with winter, maybe it was more of a stage that we had to endure while living here. Either way, I'm so glad that the weather is beginning to change and our outlooks are changing with the weather. We're looking to the future and trying to decide what the next step will be when our contract ends in August. Will we come back home? Will we stay another year? Will we go somewhere else...back to school...back to work...back to the US??? So many questions. So many decisions. So many options!!! Please pray for us as we have a lot to think about over the next few months. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, today I'm just thankful for this grand adventure we call life!!