Friday, October 28, 2011

Crafting and Sewing!

So between Halloween costumes and all the fun projects I have "pinned" (um yes, I am addicted to Pinterest) I have been sewing and trying out lots of fun projects. Here's a couple favorites!

Winter Scarves!
These scarves were so fun and easy to make! I found them on this cute blog. I made two cute pink fleece ones for Audrey and Ava.Our annual trip to The Pumpkin Patch.
Ava picked out her "baby pumpkin" and it pretty much never left her hands all night.

I also made two scarves for me out of lightweight knit -- one in deep red and one in deep purple.
Audrey was my model, thankfully.

Baby Bib-Aprons...Cute!!
So Ava is such a great baby. However, mealtime is a circus. She has a bunch of little baby bibs...that are just They're too small, the velcro is all matted, and she rips them off. Most of the time I just take off her shirt after a meal! So, I was thrilled to find this pattern!! I love her tutorial; she does a great job explaining this adorable pattern. Ava is in bed so I don't have a picture of her wearing hers, but she wore it for dinner and it was a success!! I made one for Ava's cousin; he's a lot bigger than her. We'll try to make him a Bronco fan while he's young! :)Here's the back. In her tutorial she uses flannel, but I didn't have any and there was no way I was going to go Joann's the week of Halloween!! I used some terry cloth fabric that I had and I actually think I like it better. It's soft and cute and super absorbent. What I love is that it fits like an apron...with little sleeves and Ava can't get it off!!!! There are brilliant people out there in blog-land!

Upcycling an Old Tshirt!!
I found Cash's old Chicago Cubs and Dallas Cowboys tank tops (yep, you read that right!!). They were in the Goodwill box (because if you're a grown man, thou shalt not have tank tops...ever), and then I found this blog post and I made this!! (to be fair, they were his tank tops in middle school :)
It was seriously so easy and Audrey loves it. It was just a little snipping and a couple stitches. I think there's a pile of camp shirt, coaching shirts, and triathlon/5k shirts calling my name!

I'll post Halloween pictures soon! It's going to be awesome...the theme is "Viva Las Vegas" this year! Cash's costume turned out awesome!

Happy sewing y'all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

So, when Cash saw that I was putting our blog site on our picture cards, in the nicest way possible, he suggested that if we were giving out our blog, perhaps we ought to update. As usual, he has a point. darn it.

It was a good push to update on all that's been happening. Here's some highlights:

1. Ava started nursery!!! This is definitely a #1 highlight for any of you who have had to endure through the 3 hour Sunday services from the comfort of the hallway with a 14-18 month old.

2. We enjoyed watching BSU football; granted there was that "little heartbreaker" in Reno, but we're surviving. In fact, Cash is surviving well enough that he's driving to Las Vegas for the bowl game at this very moment.

3. Spencer turned 11! I can't believe it; he started boy scouts, had Priesthood Preview, and got to watch "the video" at school. He loved two of the three.

4. The fifth annual Halloween Party was a blast -- the literature theme sparked lots of fun, and original costumes. (pictures posted later)
For the ward Halloween party we went as Carl, Russell, and Doug from Up.
(unfortunately you can't see the tennis balls on the bottom of Cash's walker)

5. We enjoyed Thanksgiving in Burley with my brother and sister's families. We are thankful for our many, many blessings.

I've got some pictures of our Christmas activities I will post soon.

Merry Christmas
May you draw closer to the Savior as you celebrate his birth.Scene of Peace, Rebrandt van Rijn

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A trip to remember

When I was little my one of my favorite movies was Annie. An orphan with an intriguing past goes from Miss Hannigan to Daddy a fairy tale, right? I wanted to be like Annie, well, sans hairdo. But she was pretty lucky, it seemed.

Anyway, I know it's a little cheesy, but after my trip to Jeonju, I realize that I'm way more blessed than Annie! Really, I wonder how I got so lucky and I'm grateful every day for the blessings that my Heavenly Father has poured upon me and my family. I apologize if this gets really long or a little sappy. I'm writing to share these experiences but also as a way for me to remember everything that happened.

One of my goals in going to Korea was to visit my orphanage and take some gifts. But, what started out as a visit to the orphanage turned into a visit to my village in the country side of South Korea! I didn't meet any family (and I had not really wanted to...I didn't, and don't, want to bring up any possible embarassment or shame three decades later). But I had a day filled with little miracles and full of adventure!

Bisabel Baby House
(now Jeonju Baby House)One of the rooms at the Baby Home. About five infants were with this one lady only !

Our friend, Bong Seok arranged a meeting for us one morning at Bisabel Baby House, where Holt International (my adoption agency) had said I lived for six months shortly before I came to the states. Due to a miscommunication, he didn't have my information to give them. So we showed up there and the Holt worker, Mrs. Song, didn't really have anything.
She explained that the current Baby House (now known as Jeonju Baby House) was built three years after I left. The Baby House I lived in ran out of funds shortly after I left (about 1980) and they weren't able to raise enough donations to keep it open. So, they closed the Home. Holt gave a large donation to build the current Baby Home and it's a nice facility with lots of adorable babies. Because of the transfer, Mrs. Song was doubtful that we would be able to find my records, but she brought up a little ledger book and said maybe my name would be in there with a "date in" and "date out" entry.
A picture of the ledger

That was the hope. In the meantime, once she got my Korean name (Shin Myung Shin) and my birthday, she sent an employee to look in the records. Well the employee brought back this page with all sorts of detailed information! Mrs. Song started speaking in Korean, and our friend, Bong Seok tried to keep up and translate for us. It turns out that I was left at City Hall in Jeonju, a fairly big town when I was about a year old. It has my original name and birthdate (which is actually July 16, not August 15). Turns out Holt had a physician that would evaluate the babies before they were sent for adoption and he would estimate an age based on development, etc. I know that I was underdeveloped and at over a year weighted about 16 pounds. So he could have easily been off by a month. The paper had the name of the girl who dropped me off at City Hall; her name is Park, Young Mi. And somehow she knew me and was able to leave information about me with the Baby House. We also learned that my mother was unmarried and that Park Young Mi was from a town called Jeong Up, about 40 minutes away.

With the very sweet lady from Bisabel Baby House, Mrs. Song
Dr. Shin
Bong Seok's advisor when he was at Chonbuk University was a man named Dr. Shin. He heard my story and wanted to help us by driving us to the Baby House. This is a very kind gesture in Korea because not a lot of people have cars and we would have had to ride the bus and we had a box of gifts and Ava. So, we were grateful for his offer. Dr. Shin took Bong Seok, myself, Cash, and our friend Joy Steiner, Professor Steiner's wife (he was in charge of the BSU trip but couldn't be there that week but hoped that Joy could come and take pictures to document). In a little miracle, just the night before Ava had warmed up to Joy and Joy was a lifesaver that day. She took Ava and played with her while we were talking with different people.Ava loved hanging out with Dr. Shin and Joy

Anyway, as we were learning everything on my record, Dr. Shin's memory started churning. He realized that I was born in 1976 and he says, "In 1976 I was working as a middle school teacher in a small village. I was only about 7 miles from your town." He tells us that if I'm from JeongeUp then my parents were most likely farmers. So, he happens to be working right near my village in the year that I was born! And he remembers 1976 because there was a huge famine in the entire country. He said that people were starving, especially in the villages. He said that the famine was unreasonably cruel; farmers committed suicide and the people were so hungry. He and Bong Seok both said, "I think you're very lucky." "I think you're very fortunate." Mrs. Song said that she started working at Bisabel Baby Home almost at the beginning of the new home. She remembers that shortly before she started working there, the old home had about 55 babies. She said that 10 of the babies died. In our prosperity and ease and convenience and medicine, it's almost impossible for me to fathom! It's so humbling. And I wonder, why me? Why was I so lucky? I'm so grateful I was, but my heart breaks for those families who suffered so much. This video is of Dr. Shin revealing some of the details that he remembered and pieces of the information we learned from the records. Having him around for this day was invaluable. Hearing the conditions and feeling so overwhelmed, mostly with gratitude, you'll see I get emotional. By the end of this, everyone is the room was crying... even Bong Seok.

The Nopung Incident
When Dr. Shin said there was a huge famine in 1976 we all assumed it was a drought. However, it turns out the tragedy was not a natural disaster. He explained that for many years Korea had suffered from a food shortage and the government was concerned about how to feed the people. One of the things they did was try to develop a stronger species of rice. One of these species was named after the inventor, Nopung. He had created a rice species in laboratory conditions that yielded much more crop and it was an exciting thing. So, in 1976 the government strongly encouraged farmers (using some strong incentives) to plant this new rice. Most all of them did. Unfortunately, in natural conditions, the rice did not grow. In 1976 almost all the rice crops died. Add this to the shortages from the previous years and this was a calamity.

From the records we assume that someone, maybe a mother or likely a grandmother, took care of me for a year because I didn't get to Jeonju until summer of 1977. The most likely scenario is that after a year, they realized they just could not continue to take care of a baby. Imagine.

The former Bisabel Baby Home
So, after we learn all this, Mrs. Song asks us if we want to go and see the former Bisabel Baby Home location, even though the original building isn't there anymore. We do, so we all head out and end up in an old, old part of Jeonju. The homes there are preserved so they cannot add to or remodel them. It's like they're stuck in time. But, right next to them are the apartment buildings that took the place of the old home. There's just a small portion of cement windows that remain from the original structure. It was a really cool old neighborhood.

Cash found some graves on the hillside -- the Koreans bury their dead in the mountains and hills and place beautiful monuments on top. They're not all buried in one spot but seem to be scattered throughout the country. It's actually really beautiful.

As we were leaving Bong Seok (our translator) told me that he would like to go to Jeong Up and try to find the lady who dropped me off at City Hall, Park Young Mi. He said if it was ok with us he would go to the town over the weekend. Well, the Holt lady said, "should we all go?" Well...we figured, why not? So, we got a passenger van from her office and thankfully a GPS system and headed off into the countryside.Just a man we talked to on the streets to see if he remembered the Baby Home

On the street where I lived!

some of the MANY pepper plants we saw all over

Jeonge Up City Hall
We drove for about 30 miles and came to the town of JeongeUp, which is not a very big town at all -- sort of a one-main-downtown-street kind of town. Maybe a little like Declo, Idaho (if anyone has been there!) but a few decades ago. We went to the City Hall-type office and Mrs. Song tried to find out if a Park Young Mi lived there. They told us she didn't live there anymore but that her family was from a little village called Su Song. They gave us directions out there and told Mrs. Song who to contact.

Su Song
So, we loaded in the van, passed miles and miles of nothing but rice fields and pepper plants, got lost a couple of times, and came to a teeny-tiny village of about 100-200 people: Su Song. It seemed to be straight out of a picture in the 1930's. There was a cement rice storage buildling that would have been there.
There was a "resting platform" for the famers (behind the side covers).

As we're walking up the lane we hear someone yelling after us. (you can hear him at the end of the video...I wish I had turned around! It was a funny sight).

This old, weathered farmer in a white tank top is yelling at us. He says he's been waiting for us. Turns out, as with many small towns, the City Hall in JeongeUp called him. And, evidently he's the mayor. He takes us into his home and we all sit down and Mrs. Song explains to him what's going on and why we're looking for Park, Young Mi.

He just grabs his cell phone, the 30 page phone book, and starts calling people! He finds out that Park, Young Mi doesn't live in the village anymore but her mother does.
We find out that right now Young Mi is 46, which means that she would have been about 12 or 13 when she dropped me off. And we also learn that her mother's family name (women keep their own last names) is Shin... So, there's a strong possibility that this girl is a sister or relative, which would be why she knew detailed information about me.

The mayor's wife is watching and listening to all of this. At some point she realizes that the baby girl on the paper (me) is the same person as the lady sitting on her living room floor. So then she just starts staring at me! Bong Seok explains that she's looking at me to see if she can see a family resemblance to someone in the village. A few minutes later she calls her neighbor. This little grandma who has been beside herself this whole time -trying to figure out what in the world is going on at the neighbor's house. Joy said she kept peeking her head over the wall into the alley; she was probably about four minutes away from coming over anyway. So this little old grandma just plops down on the ground and starts staring at me. (the lady below in black) It's a little disconcerting and I feel like a circus show because this is many minutes while the mayor is on the phone.

And that's the end of the journey. The mayor says they weren't able to reach Park, Young Mi and if there's any w
ord he'll call Mrs. Song.But, as we leave, Dr. Shin says to me, in halting English, "those two ladies...they know something." He says maybe they will call, maybe they won't, "that is the way. Maybe it takes some time." "You understand these things?" I absolutely understand. Just being able to go and see the little village where I was from, where I could have grown up, was powerful. As we left, the mayor's little grandson was riding around on his old pink bike with his yellow crocs and was just as happy as could be to have all these strange visitors. He doesn't know that he lives differently than I do; he knows he has a fancy bike, a home, a family that loves him. Even so, it made me cry with gratitude as I thought about how it could have been me, living is this tiny village. And I would have been fine. But, I am grateful for my home, for Cash and our kids, for the Gospel truths that I know, and for my parents who sacrificed to adopt six children and give them opportunities we would not have had. I suppose this journey only strengthened my relationship and appreciation for my parents and helped me understand the sacrifices on both sides of the world.

Wow, if you read this far, thanks for caring about this experience and sharing it with me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Full Circle

So, we are getting so excited for our trip to Korea! It's only a couple of days away. We're staying with the host university in a town called Jeonju. Neither one of us had ever heard of it.

A few weeks ago I called the adoption agency (Holt International) and asked if we could find some information about where I was from, my orphanage, and any other details. The lady told me that the process can take a long time and that many of the orphanages aren't even around any more. So, I told her I'd be happy with what ever she could find. A few days later (little miracle!) she emailed me and told me that the orphanage I lived in was Jeonju Baby House!! (formerly Bisabel Baby House -- the picture is a random picture of Jeonju, not the baby house) So, we will be staying two weeks in this same town! Our contact in Jeonju is setting up a meeting and everything. We've gathered children's books, clothes, and toys to take. I'm feeling so excited and grateful that I have the opportunity to go back. We'll post updates, probably through Facebook while we're gone.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Babies don't keep...

Ava is ONE!!

When I was growing up, my mom had a cross stitch that said:

Cooking and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow,
For babies grow up, I've learned with great sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Ava enjoyed her birthday cupcake at Grammy's house.

I can't believe how fast this year has gone; I keep thinking about that poem. My mom had it right -- there's always dishes to do, laundry to fold, emails to answer, but the quiet moments rocking a baby don't stay around very long. Ava's growing up so fast and it makes me a little sad. We all feel so lucky to have this sweet baby sent to our family.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We are going to KOREA!!!

Over 30 years ago, a scrawny, little baby arrived in Los Angeles from an orphanage in Seoul.

First meeting for mom, dad, and daughter

I am so grateful for two incredible parents who adopted a little girl, 18 months (give or take a few months!) from Korea. I couldn't walk, couldn't talk, didn't have any teeth, and as my dad likes to remind me, brought a few lice and scabies with me.

Anyhow, this summer we have an amazing opportunity to return to where it all began! I am excited, nervous, overwhelmed. After we first talked about going it was a little bit emotional for me! Plus, for those who don't know, Cash served a mission for our church in Korea, so he is really excited to get to go back. He's already brushing up on his Korean and I've found old adoption records. And no, I don't really want to find my parents. But, we do want to return to my orphanage (which Cash has been to!) and visit there, take gifts, and I don't know, probably cry out of gratitude.

We are going with a class that's being offered at BSU -- two weeks in Korea! We'll sign up for the class as students, but because we're faculty we'll be able to go and explore on our own. It's an amazing opportunity -- we only have to pay for our airfare over and the host university will house and feed us! Koreans are very gracious hosts. We'll take baby Ava with us, but the big kids will stay with Grammy and cousins. (Thank you!)

My naturalization record

We go at the end of June. I am so excited to be able to return to my "homeland." We'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Facebook killed the blog.

So, I realize in the past year that important moments, both big and small, have passed by without any record! Though it is fun to connect with people on Facebook, I am stepping away from FB a bit and returning to my blog. I love this little patch of my world where I can record the things that matter most to me and share them with the people who matter most to me. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with the Hill family.

Obviously the most important event of the past year was our sweet Ava Caroline.
(Ava with Grandpa Schroeder. Ava is named for my mom, Carolyn, who loved babies most of all.)

She's now 10 months and such a good baby! She's the first baby I have been able to just lay down in the crib -- AND SHE FALLS ASLEEP!! Cash says he really likes the 2009 model. Unfortunately, for Spencer the first baby (the 1999 model) is sort of like the first pancake -- a little trial and error. We love having her in our family.

This year, Cash's grandad, Rex Ford Smith, passed away. He was the patriarch of Cash's family for so many years. He was a kind, strong man who led by example. He is certainly missed, but we are sure that he is happy and rejoicing with those he loves.
Cash, Ava, and Grandad SmithAt Grandad's funeral in Weiser, Idaho. All the boys are wearing the "Ford Waterfall" in honor of how grandad used to wear his tie. He always looked so stylish. Cash has inherited Grandad's love of cuff links. For valentine's day he got some "propellor" cuff links that look just like a boat propellor. He was pleased.

So, spring is here again and that means so many great things: baseball, gardening, shorts, flip flops, rain, otter pops, the lake, and daffodils. Unfortunately we have to know the bitter to know the sweet. So we're weeding, laying black plastic, pulling out dead trees, spring cleaning, and getting back on the proverbial treadmill in my annual effort to get ready for swim suit season. Uggh. But, we are so blessed. Our family is healthy, we have good jobs, our kids are happy, we love our ward, we enjoy our callings, and the Cubs are having a great season (the Vallivue Babe Ruth Cubs, that is).

Once again Spring has breathed new life -- the Blog is back! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"that every man may improve upon his talents, that every man may gain other talents..." *

Cash has many talents...
  • He is an excellent waterskier.
  • He can make people laugh.
  • He will work hard for other people.
  • He is an excellent teacher -- of all ages.
  • He notices when people need help.
  • He reads and remembers books.
  • He plays jungle gym with the kids.
  • He thinks deeply and provocatively about things.
  • He is very loyal.
  • He can drink excessive amounts of Mountain Dew.
He has many talents. However, this outfit is not necessarily one of them:
:) On Sunday mornings, I have church meetings so Cash is in charge of getting the kids ready for church. I usually lay out Audrey's clothes -- knowing that sometimes the dress, slip, tights, shoes combos can be a little confusing. However, I showed up on Sunday morning and found Emmett dressed in a very cute plaid shirt and very cute plaid pants. Very cute alone...but together? I know, I know, it's not a critical talent. But, at least his fashion sense does make for a fun picture. Frankly, I think he'd be just fine if I went ahead and set out his clothes with the kids' every night.
*D&C 82:18

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As long as she never wants to go on Next Top Model...

This is Audrey Paige and her little friend across the street. My neighbor does a little photography on the side and she was asked to do a photo for a pattern cover for this adorable pattern company: Pink Fig Patterns. Anyway, the lady who designed the pattern sent up samples of her adorable clothes and Audrey and her friend got to model them! It was lots of fun and I think the clothes are just adorable. If you scroll down a little you can see the pattern, the Sophia. I only wish I could have kept the outfit!! But, I'm certainly going to get the pattern.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Book

I'm really excited! I just got this book in the mail today:

I pre-ordered from Amazon about a month ago and forgot all about it. It was like a little surprise today in the mail! :)

I was a little wary at first; what in the world could 1) be made in under 200 calories and 2) not taste like cardboard? I've checked out a lot of the recipes and they actually look good! There's lots of good substitution tips that I'm excited to try. I'm certain I don't have the willpower to only eat one serving, so my book should actually be titled 200 recipes under 400 calories, but "tomato/tomatuh."

I'll post some of my favorites. I am a Hungry Girl.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Audrey Paige

Proud mom moment: Audrey and her friend are playing Little People; they're setting up a wedding. They decide that the girl and boy should be a mommy and a daddy. Audrey says, "no remember, babies come after [the wedding]." Good girl! :)

Audrey was playing at her friend Karlee's house and Karlee's mom, Jenny, asked her these cute questions:

1.What is something mom always says to you?
A: When you get something out, clean it up before you get something else out.

2. What Makes Mom happy?

A: When I clean up my room

3. What makes mom sad?

A: When I don’t clean up my room

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

A: When she tickles me

5. What was your mom like as a child?

A: funny

6. How old is your mom?

A: like, 15 maybe

7. How tall is your mom?

A: I don’t know

8. What is her favorite thing to watch on TV?

A: Dancing With the Stars

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

A: Go to stores and watch TV

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

A: Being on TV

11. What is your mom really good at?

A: baking food

12. What is your mom not very good at?

A: going to stores when I am not at school

13. What does your mom do for her job?

A: Going to work really good

14. What is your mom's favorite food?

A: Onions with salad and chicken mixed together

15. What makes you proud of your mom?

A: Being a good mom

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

A: Jazmine, that is my favorite so I just picked that

17. What do you and your mom do together?

A: going to the stores and clean the silverware together

18. How are you and your mom the same?

A: Our hair is the same

19. How are you and your mom different?

A: Our talking

20. How do you know your mom loves you?

A; because she loves me

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?

A: going out to dinner

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?

A: Burger Kings, no, not Burger Kings. Wings, Pizza and Things that is our favorite

Hum...perhaps I should relax about the cleaning. And, not go to so many stores...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I love spring!!!
Between the really nice weather and "nesting," I am in full Spring Cleaning mode. Well, actually, I'm thinking a lot about my plan of attack for spring cleaning...

Most of you know that I can be a little freaky about some things: which toys go in which boxes, scheduling the days I can do laundry, alphabetizing random things, sneaking a peek at the end of the book before I start... Ok, so I like organization. It makes me happy, and peaceful, and content. And, when I'm organized I feel like I can start a project. I'm sure there's much insight I could get from Dr. Phil, but I can't seem to help it!

So, for what it's worth, I thought I'd share with you some of my organizational tips.
Here's the first one: DRAWERS!
(I can take no credit for this -- it's from my seestah, Jennifer!) I don't know if this sounds familiar: drawer full of shirts -- stuffed to the brim, but only the top five or six only get worn...the same five or six every week! Have you seen the t-shirt on the bottom of the stack since Daughtry lost American Idol? Uh-huh...See what I mean?!?! Or...have you ever gone into your 5 year old daughter's room and found every shirt in her drawer on the floor because she was looking for the "shirt with the pink flowers and the sparkly writing?" True story. I see the shirt...It's nothing fancy, as you can see from the pictures, if you fold your shirts in half lengthwise and then fold that top to bottom and then in half again you get this nice little size that fits perfectly in a child-size drawer. This way, you can look in the drawer and see exactly what you have and exactly what you need! You may remember shirts you didn't even know you had (or that you should have long ago thrown away) and you can see everything at a glance. I also do this with their pajamas and their jeans.

So there you go...organizational tip #1!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Emmett is a Big Boy!

Emmett is two! He's a great little boy and lots of fun. He makes us laugh and his favorite foods are "bips" (chips) and oranges. He's figured out that presents are always a good thing.

Looking for any excuse to avoid grading...

...I spent a few hours making this project!

Now that Emmett is two and he's going to have a little sister joining us pretty soon, we figured it was time for Emmett to sleep in a big boy bed. But, Audrey has been sleeping in the toddler bed and so when we would try to get Emmett to sleep in the toddler bed he would cry and say "YaYa bed!" I figured we needed to do something to make it "his" bed. So, I went to JoAnn's and grabbed three yards of SpongeBob fabric and found whatever extra fabric I could at home. So, rather than finish my grading, I made this:

Spongebob is not necessarily my role model of choice, but Emmett really loves him (long story) and they had no Elmo or Diego fabric! So, for having no pattern and no idea what I was doing, I'm pretty excited about it! I just can't let my mother-in-law look too closely at my "figure-it-out-as-you-go" sewing.

And, after three nights, it's working great! He's falling asleep in his own bed and staying there all night! Whoohoo! Maybe I will be able to survive four. People do it all the time, right?!?