Monday, September 29, 2008

The Sweetness of Babies

While I was at Mrs. Lee's house, one of the ladies at the party brought her 4 week old baby, Ethan. I was so happy to have my camera anyway and took a break from the eating and talking to get some sweet newborn pictures! This is my second newborn shoot and I absolutely love them!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Korean Yumminess!

For those of you who don't know, I'm part Korean - in my head that is! I worked at a Tae Kwon Do school for 4 years as the only American. I was immersed by Korean culture, people, language, food, and even their traditional dancing! (Crazy...I know) To this day, I am still really good friends with all of them and still cherish my "opa" (Korean big brothers) who, while they used to throw me around, are the most protective and caring big brothers I could ask for! They have given me every kind of nickname possible! I have been "amba-chovey", "ambasing" (which is a brand of Korean toilet paper, by the way!), and have settled on, "ambuya." The "ya" sound on the end is what they add to a person's name when they are close to them. Kind of a diminutive.

Occasionally, Mrs. Lee has a big party for the girls where they graze on amazing Korean food and play around. Here are some pictures of some of the culinary delights I feasted on all night long!

This is Gim-Bahb. It is Korean-style sushi. Tonight, she coated it in egg and pan fried it. It was SO yummy!
Just so you know, my jeans now hate me.

Here is Mrs. Lee - the best Korean cook I have ever met! (Trust me, I have met a LOT of Korean cooks!) Out of all the Korean meals, my favorite is Kimchi Chigae. It is a ordinary dish about as common over there as peanut butter and jelly is here. They always laugh when I beg them to make it because it is just an every day dish for them. The dish is a soup made out of kimchi (a pickled cabbage with so much red pepper it is red). They usually put some kind of fish in it and generally leave the bones to get crushed up at the bottom of the pan.
This is my really good friend, Phuong. We became close friends when I was the program director for the Wake Forest Location and she was (and still is) the program director for the West Raleigh Location.

Pitter Patter Goes My Heart Spinach Artichoke Dip

I went to a get together with some friends and tried some spinach artichoke dip they had. After I started eating it by the spoonfulls and then scraping the bottom of the empty pan, I begged her for the recipe! It is fabulous with great ingredients!

1 Bag Fresh Spinach
1 Can Artichoke hearts
4 Cloves Garlic
1 1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese
3/4 c. All Natural Mayonnaise (or for those of you who are Nourishing Tradition freaks and have time, you can make your own!)
2 tbsp onion powder

Saute the finely chopped garlic in some olive oil until it becomes fragrant. Add the spinach and cook until it is completely wilted. Meanwhile, chop up the artichoke hearts and combine with the cooked spinach in a bowl. Add the mayo, parmesan, and onion powder. Mix and pour into a pan (coated in olive oil) to bake at 325 for 20 minutes.

Eat with a cracker as long as you can...and then pull out the spoon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I met a man this week who has been broken. He has experienced more horrors in the past few years than most experience in a lifetime. He knows the feeling of torture - both mental and physical. He knows the pain of being ripped away from his family and friends. He has experienced daily, relentless despair. He has been broken by a cruel, merciless world.

To be broken by the world is pain and death. It brings despair and agony.


To be broken by grace is life and joy! It brings healing and reconciliation.

God, heal his brokenness from the world by breaking him with Your grace.

Humility and Joy

This is a quote from Dr. Liederbach that he uses to keep him in perspective:

You are more sinful than you ever dared believe, but you are more loved than you ever dared to hope.

Don't we always think the opposite? I frequently think less of my sin or at least avoid understanding the true depths both consciously and unconsciously. However, while I so frequently manage to ignore the depths of my sin, I also fail to fathom the depths of the love of my Savior! At least in my own life, it is only through facing the horrors of my sin that I am able to relish in the love that saved me. This is yet another area I am a Pharisee and blasphemer who denies the power of God's grace in my life!

Which is better: making less of my sin but not relishing in the love of a savior or truly understanding it and being blown away by His grace?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oma Comes to Visit!

To celebrate baby Bella's birth, Kostya's mother is visiting for 2 weeks from Germany. The kids (and Megan and Kostya) are loving having her here! They sound so cute with their German words and phrases! I'm really proud of them!

I couldn't resist the opportunity to get some pictures of the kids with her! Poor Bella has already had 2 photoshoots in her 3 weeks of life!

Of course, I had to get another one of Camden. He is so easy to get wonderful pictures!! I think I am turning him into a ham too since he now smiles on command when I have my camera!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NC State Game: Bridesmaids Reunite!

Amanda's parents are big NC State fans possessing season tickets and two parking spaces. They were out of town this weekend so the tickets were handed down to Derek and Amanda. Derek had to work, so Amanda took advantage of a prime time for a bridesmaid reunion!

Small disclaimer: I am not an NC State fan. Knowing Amanda wanted to take us to a game, I asked her to be very sensitive with which team she asked me to pull against! She was kind and took us to the State vs. ECU game. It was AWESOME!!

Because ECU has done so well lately, many State fans expected to get spanked today. The score stayed pretty neck-and-neck through most of the game with ECU generally in the lead by one touchdown. In the last minute, State managed to tie with ECU forcing the game into overtime. ECU had the ball...and State intercepted it and won the game! It was amazing! Our seats were in the red zone so we saw the whole thing right in front of us!

Here are a few pics from Amanda. I am waiting on a few more from Ashley so I'll post those when they arrive!

To top off the experience, I got a funnel cake. (Which I haven't had in at least 10 years!) I enjoyed the first three bites...and then got sick!

Friday Night Fashion Show

My hair stylist, Tara, is very active in local art and fashion shows. She told me she was creating hair pieces for a show this weekend and I decided to check it out! My sister, Grace, and I made a date out of it and both had a great time!

It was hard to take pictures because it was outdoor and very dark - and very crowded! Here are a few snapshots:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do I look like my Grandma or what??

This is her...

This is me...(with a little help from

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Mid-Week Day Off

It's official! My last day of work is October 17th and I could not be more excited!! Since my departure date is so soon, I decided to utilize one of my remaining vacation take an exam.

The exam for my theology class was online for only a 24 hr. time frame and we were assured we would need all of the 2 hours allotted to us to take it. I had no idea when I would be able to finish studying and take it being in the office from 8-5 every day. So, my boss let me have the day off.

I allowed myself to sleep in 30 minutes longer than I usually do. (for the exam's sake!) I rolled out of bed, grabbed one of mom's homemade rolls, lathered it in butter, and retreated to the bonus room to cram for the exam. After creating an extensive study guide and selecting one of my siblings to call out the questions to me, I felt ready around lunch time. I took the exam and rather enjoyed the 9 essay questions. As I told my professor today, I don't know if that means I did really poorly or if I am an absolute nerd. He said, "Well, I already know you are an absolute nerd so hopefully that's all it is." One of the questions actually asked me to share the professor's view on a certain verse and also allowed for an alternate view. I was happy to share mine - which is very different from his! Those of you who have been around me lately probably know this professor and I don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the issue of General Revelation: a passionate topic for all History of Ideas students.

After the exam was finished, I had the daunting task of trying to decide if I wanted to work on school or play the rest of the day. My reason trumped my emotions and I sat down with one of my books and told myself I was going to be here until 3:30 when I had scheduled to meet a friend for coffee. I sat for about 5 minutes until my cooped up energy kept harassing me like an Egyptian fly in my face and my mind started wandering to thoughts of being outside enjoying the beautiful weather. "Okay," my rational-self said, "just go outside on the front porch and continue reading." About 3 minutes later my harnessed energy crept back up and every ounce of flab on my body felt heavier and heavier while my muscles felt limper and limper. "Go biking!" screamed every other voice within me. The moment these voices convinced my reason it would be "good for me" to utilize the exercise, I jumped up, threw on a tank top, stuffed my bike in the back of my Camry, and headed to Durant Nature Park.

The trail kicked my butt. It had been raining all week and I guess I underestimated how difficult it would be to bike up and down hills filled with sharp turns, roots, and rocks on damp, slick terrain. There were a few places I had to walk and quite a few times when I should have flown right into the mud before my "conquer the trail" mentality kicked in! By the time I got back, I looked like I got in a fight with the trail...and the trail won. I had mud all over me and every single muscle in my body (including my backside!) was already sore. I stuffed my muddy bike in the back of my poor car and headed back to find a shower before meeting my friend in less than 30 minutes!

I made it to the coffee shop...and I don't think anyone knew I had just used a half a box of "wet ones" to clean off the mud quickly so to retain my punctuality! Jen and I had an awesome time talking for almost 2 hours. (I'll try to add another post of my thoughts on our conversation.) When 5:30 came, I left for my next activity: haircut with Tara!

Tara, the most awesome stylist in the world, cut my hair in a pixie cut 2 months ago. I have never loved a haircut so much in my life!! It has been so easy, fun, freeing, and allows me to be creative with different styling options. The only part of the cut I didn't love was how she cut the hair in front of my ears asymmetrically so the right side was shorter and the left side came down to a point. I thought I might like this and it is definitely really popular now...but I didn't. I ended up just pulling both sides behind my ears. I always knew I had a thing for symmetry but I though I could handle something new. Not. When I sat down in the chair and she started attacking my head again, I asked her what she was thinking.
"Not telling," she said.
I could see it in her eyes: I'm going to make her WHOLE head asymmetrical!!
"Umm, the only think I didn't absolutely love about the last cut was the asymmetrical part. I just couldn't get used to it! I think I have a thing for symmetry."
"I'm so glad you told me," she said! "Some people do and that's fine!"
Whew.... glad I caught that one! I am normally really daring and like her to experiment - but symmetry makes me happy!

While she was shredding my hair, I told her I was not moving to Rome, but it looks like I am moving to Milan!! Her hands dropped, her mouth opened, and her eyes widened as she turned and looked at me in the mirror.
"Milan??? No way!!!!"
I laughed, "yes, I know. That is your Mecca!"
At that point, cutsie Tinker Bell (with bleached, bleached blond asymmetrical pixie hair now) squeeled! "Okay, I said I would come to visit you in Rome but just to be nice and to wishful think. I really WILL come visit you in Milan!!! I'm dead serious. I'll call the owner tomorrow and schedule it for one of my two weeks vacation!"
For the rest of my time, she told me all about the fashion districts and everything she has dreamed of participating in for years on end. She would go to lots of hair, make up and fashion runway shows, pick up fabric from the fabric district for her friend who is an up-and-coming clothing designer, get a way-cool Milan haircut for herself, and pray Beckham comes to play the Milan futbol team while she is there! I think she would be so much fun to explore Milan with - and hopefully she can help me fit in there a little more! Hearing her talk made me realize just what I am getting myself into fashion-wise. I am going to look like a total dork. I knew that ever since I heard the word "Italy" but I have a little more realistic comprehension now!!

I ended the day by meeting my brother at our favorite Korean restaurant and enjoying some kimchi and dolsot bibimbob. Yum!!

So, that is my account of my mid-week day off! It was wonderful! Since I have 3 more vacation days before I leave, I think I am going to take one day per week off just to keep me from going insain! Working 4 day weeks is just what the doctor ordered!

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Baby Bellina"

Baby Bella is finally home filling the Penner house with so much joy and excitement! I went over last Saturday for her first of many photo shoots. I could not believe how tiny and dainty she is! She really looks like a little peanut! She squeaks and purses her lips together...and my heart melts:)