The Bump

There was no hesitation at all when Stef asked me to take maternity pictures of her and her baby bump (oh, and with Joe too— I guess^^)… Most of you know that I started taking my hobby of snapping pictures more seriously once I invested in a DSLR. It took me a long time, but I finally started calling myself a photographer. And the more you practice and work at something, the better you get. I am pretty proud of these pictures…

Plus, spending a day taking shots of two of my best friends since college was an absolute blast. Here is a sneak peek of our photo shoot, these are some of my favorite shots…


Stef’s favorite:

My friends’ are goofballs (I may have suggested this pose^^):

Joe had to get a few shots in of his own, this is just one of those:


and my personal favorite:


On being LOVED.

I already dedicated a ridiculously long post to my 27th birthday. It doesn’t really need any more attention. What I will draw attention to, is the fact that I have all-star friends. I am talking, over the fence, out of the park (and beyond) type of all-star friends. And when you live on the opposite side of the world as your family (and the friends whom you call family), having a community that loves you, flaws and all, is vital.

God didn’t create us to be alone.

As soon as this video played on Saturday at my birthday dinner, I burst into tears (I had friends who I met when I first came to Korea three years ago that had never seen me cry, so… it’s kind of a big deal), I have no words to express how beautiful my friends are— inside and out!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed, especially Jee Young and Dyanne, I can’t believe you all made me cry!

Slice of Life is hosted every Tuesday by Two Writing Teachers, join us!

memoirs of my 27th birthday.

May 18th, 2012

I honestly, and wholeheartedly, wanted to write a post yesterday. Being that yesterday marked the start of my 27th year on earth (or I mean, the end of my 27th year? I just really confused myself… you turn one after you have been alive a whole year— so now I have been alive 27 years, so it’s the end, right?), anyway… I am now 27.

An account of my day, to remember years down the road, as this is the closest thing I have to a journal:

I walked to work decked out in mascara (a rarity) and iron curled hair (that deflated within the hour-why doesn’t hair spray work?), sporting a lovely flowered dress. You have to look good on your birthday, you know? As I went to open my classroom door a balloon almost hit me in the face, I looked up and eight colorful balloons had been taped to my door (surrounding my “welcome to second grade” poster). Smiling I walked across my room, and saw a post-it note stuck on my computer screen that read, “Play as often as possible”, opened in my internet browser was New Kids on the Block’s version of “Happy Birthday” (which I had never heard before— so, so great!). Then (I am actually noticing everything one step at a time, since I am not the most observant person in the world) I see the gift bag. Nailholic Magazine (yes-such a thing exists!), bedazzlement nail kit, and the BIGGEST heart-shaped reeses peanut butter cup I have ever seen! I turn around-stunned- and see that I have completely missed the happy birthday banner taped underneath my whiteboard/smartboard, decorated with balloons on either side. I head over to the person responsible— the third grade teacher and great friend Joëlle. She had to have rolled into school EARLY to surprise me— knowing I arrive at work anywhere from 7-7:30! (She normally gets to work at 7:45ish).

Just when I start to recover one of my students walks in with a life-size balloon PERSON. My obvious teacher replacement for the day, as no one should work on their birthday— right? Pictures posted below 🙂 Another student’s mom walks in with a home-made strawberry tart. I think I gained at least ten pounds yesterday. A student from last year (as if she remembered my birthday!) shows up with a box wrapped in PURPLE (best color) and gave me a collection of lip gloss, the extra sparkly one is my favorite. Today another one of my student’s from last year made sure to give me a gift (of CHOCOLATE) when he realized my birthday was the day before… being a teacher on your birthday is THE BEST JOB. In the past I have worked on several of my birthdays— you just don’t get the same love in the restaurant business, haha.

Jee Young and Dyanne make sure to stop by with warm hugs to start my already insane day. Elaine hands me “present number one”; a giant cookie, chocolate mini-muffins, and a beautifully written card telling me how great I am. As the day gets started Adrienne shows up and hands me breakfast (what?!), chocolate chip pancakes— start drooling, they were delish.

It’s not even nine o-clock yet. I walk back into my classroom to grab my water (my kids were over in Elaine’s room rehearsing for our upcoming musical) and there is the most interesting looking “cake” sitting on my desk. Kit Kats forming a circle, held up by a peanut butter concoction, and the center is filled with m & m’s (like I said, ten pounds). Two cards are on my desk from my “birthday buddy”— at work among the teachers, we have secret birthday buddies, only I had a feeling I was going to guess who mine was! Not only was there this ridiculously good tasting “cake”, there was also a beautiful bracelet.

I start receiving anonymous e-mails from a birthday buddy email account. How creative is that? Definitely the give-away though, since my friend (and co-worker) Steph and I are obsessed with watching movie trailers in our free time— she kept me supplied with emails throughout the day linked to trailers of movies I haven’t seen yet, as well as old classics that never die. Steph went above and beyond the call of birthday buddy!

One of my student’s driver shows up (yes, a lot of them have their own “drivers”) in the middle of the day to bring me flowers. Then, Jee Young stops by as the school day is winding down to hand me her “gift number one” (receiving gifts in installments is seriously great!), she discovered an Etsy site where you can custom order stationary (and she talks about it here— check it out!).

Holding my half-eaten strawberry tart in one hand, and my nearly demolished kit kat cake in the other, I start to head for home… then have to turn back because I forgot to print stuff out for small group. I end up ditching, er finishing the dishes and leaving half an hour later with my bouquet of flowers instead.

Leading small group on my birthday was another huge blessing. Yoonjung hosted it at her amazing apartment in Itaewon. She cooked us dinner and we ate it on her terrace, overlooking the city and watching the night steal across the sky— gifting us with the glow of every building and car. It was so calm, and quiet— we all felt like we had escaped Seoul and were in San Francisco! Ashley snapped pics for me all night as I DIDN’T BRING MY CAMERA (who am I? I always have my camera). Kristin showed up with cake, PURPLE cake. We laughed, we ate, we read our Bible, we ate some more, we prayed, we grew. Three and a half hours later I panicked because it felt like only thirty minutes had gone by and I needed to catch the subway home.

My birthday ended with my nose buried in a book one of my student’s recommended me to read (The Lightning Thief) during library time today, he can’t even read it yet, he just told me his brother loved it.

What’s on the agenda for tomorrow? Oh, yeah. My birthday PARTY. Hahahaha, I am incredibly blessed. I might start crying (but I am on my period so that would totally be acceptable— and the is not TMI, since this is my journal, hehe).


I accidentally started eating the kit kat cake before I took a picture!

definitely, maybe.

and there goes five weeks. oh man, did that go by fast… as it always does! in between traveling through 19 states (and stopping by our good neighbor Canada-huggsies! the niagara falls is totally better on your side), I attended a wedding, went to a baby shower, celebrated birthdays, wrote a thesis (haha… just kidding, but I started my grad school project document!) and just ‘hung out’ with some pretty amazing people.

but watch out, summer isn’t over yet! tomorrow (today? Tuesday.) I head back to Korea (with bags full of teaching supplies and chick peas… I am totally addicted to hummus) where I will be for about two full days before I leave again. NEPAL. I am so excited for this mission trip.

I am pretty sure I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around leaving my family yet though. tonight my mom cooked up an amazing last meal for me (steak and mashed potatoes with corn and homemade bread- all my favorites! not to mention homemade ice cream with brownies and strawberries for dessert, SO YUM) and we ended the night with watching Definitely, Maybe. I freaking LOVE chick flicks ^^. It felt so normal. Just to be here. Hang out by the pool, drive to a bonfire, worship with my family at The Point (my church in MI), and then tomorrow I fly halfway around the world again.

I have such a blessed life, to be able to have such amazing people who love me all over the world. Already missing my family and friends on this side!

driving miss daisy

I lost seven thousand won today…

I have officially turned one year older since my last post. I am no longer a quarter of a century old. Though, to be quite honest, I often forget how old I am due to Koreans having a different system of keeping track of their age. They are one-years-old when they are born, and then everyone turns a year older in the new year. Which means if I were to go by the Korean system I would be 27, and on January 1st I would turn 28? Yeah, I still don’t get it… there are times in this country when someone asks me how old I am  (trust me, it happens a lot) and I have to think about it really hard, because sometimes I can’t remember.

I don’t think I will be forgetting my 26th birthday anytime soon though. Not only did fb give my secret away to my students (I may or may not sometimes have fb up during my break times at school… I am a hard worker, leave me alone!) when an invite to an event popped up and said, “Melody’s 26th Birthday!” … “Umm… Ms. Welton, I think I know how old you are.” I turned to see one of my girls smiling at me as she got out her notebook to start her morning work. MAN, I was able to keep it a secret ALL YEAR. Back to “not only did” (top of the paragraph), but I also had an amazing two full days celebrating my birthday (times zones, parties, love it), which is so cool, who wants just one day? It should be your birthday week!

There was this one summer back in college when I had to go home and live with the parents again (oh, the dorms…). I found a way to cope with my loss of independence (okay, my parents were very trusting, I really didn’t lose that much) through bike riding. I met my friend, Chris Howarth (you are so cool), every morning to go bike riding down a trail that ran through the heart of our small town.

I met him on a borrowed bike from the fam, since my purple ten-speed bike from my younger years always had something wrong with it. The day after I bought it I am not sure if a sibling was jealous or a hummingbird was really mad, but it had what could be described as sharp nail marks all down its brand new painted surface. It made me so sad to look at. It also had a flat tire for about five years and I didn’t know how to change it.

After that summer of bike riding love I took a bike my dad found in one of his empty apartments (that he rents out) back with me back to Kalamazoo with the hopes of riding more, then I realized how dangerous the area I lived in was (a gang fight may or may not have broken out over my car, men leaping, me screaming, fun times). That dream died.

Then I came to Korea. Last summer I discovered that you can rent bikes near the Han River by the hour. I made different people go riding with me every Saturday (for some reason the same people didn’t want to spend EVERY saturday waking up early to beat the crowd…weird!), it is my ultimate favorite thing to do in Seoul.

jee young and me biking along the han river last fall.

I kept telling myself that I needed to buy a bike. I wanted to buy a bike. I found the PERFECT bike. I named her driving miss daisy (I like uncapitalized names, don’t hate). I took a picture of her on my iPhone (which has successfully been returned to me! did you hear??? LOVE KOREA) and showed anyone who would look at me. This is her! And yet… I didn’t go buy her. I thought about the college loans I still had to pay off, and my next credit card bill. And so, I didn’t buy her.

THEN I GOT HER! Along with many other amazing gifts from family and friends (my awesome plaid scarf from a best friend back home who had no idea I was doing a plaid themed birthday, a colorful apron from mama k -by the way, what are you trying to say? I need to learn how to cook?!- beautiful jewelry my momma bought for me to support women who made them in Uganda, an inspirational artistic book from my sista, cards, flowers, pencil cases, magnets, nail kits… SHOOT what more could a girl ask for?).

I am ridiculously blessed!

before she was mine! I saw her hidden, not on display or anything. now she has a home.

the seven thousand won fell out of my back pocket when I took driving miss daisy out for her first spin today (it finally stopped raining!). I was looking forward to buying some pizza school pizza with that, but totally worth it ^^.

J & S rockin’ Seoul

For the first time I have people who I know from back home invading my world in Seoul. What an experience. I am remembering things that I forgot were strange are, in fact, still strange! I am realizing that there are certain things I accept about the culture I live in now that used to blow my mind.

Justin and Shawnna arrived on Valentine’s Day (a great gift amongst all the chocolate my students showered me with as well)  and have been amazing house guests ever since. So great, in fact that I left them alone in the apartment all weekend to go to grad class. Yeah, okay that wasn’t planned.

I am now taking Justin and Shawnna to experience the wonderment that is New Philadelphia Church in Itaewon. I am THRILLED to be able to bring some friends from my church back home to my home church in Korea!


Fact: Kids get bored easily.

Fact: Kids can be entertained by the same thing over and over and over again, not tiring (or getting bored of it) easily.


I recently read about this blog that is dedicated to what makes people smile. Those deep, warm, melts you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, kind of smiles. It got me to thinking about how often I smile, and what I smile about.

I smile at my students, who are constantly saying ridiculous and funny things (I wish I had a mental tape recorder to plug into my computer- aka a better memory- if I don’t write them down right away I forget).

I smile over a fantastic cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. There is a coffee shop right by my apartment that I frequently go to because they warm their hot chocolate to JUST the right temperature. I am impatient (when it comes to eating and drinking hot things, when it comes to my students…well, I am working on it) and want to drink my delicious cup of chocolately goodness RIGHT AWAY and the good folks at Sugar Rings know how to hand out the cup of hot chocolate at just the right temperature for me to start drinking it and it STAYS warm until the very end. Yeah, I smile deeply over my cup of cocoa.

I smile when I worship, nothing compares to my intimate time with the big G-O-D.

I smile at the thought of my family and friends, because I love them.

I smile, really smile, when I see a father in public interacting with his son or daughter… there is something about it that tugs at my heart-strings every single time.

What makes you smile?

this boy make me smile. i took my students outside to get pictures of them looking up at the clouds. there were no clouds (the one time I want them, come on Korea...)