Mom and Dad drove in on the 26th, and then we met up with Heather and Bob en route on our annual Christmas trip out to Harrisonburg, VA to see Grandma, who was doing well. We stayed with my cousins, and had fun playing Rook, Scum, and BS with the whole family...
With a few more babies in the midst, the large family gathering was more crowded than ever - which, of course, made the time seem shorter than ever as it was difficult to catch up with even a fraction of my relatives.
The intermission activities between lunch and the snacking/catchup sessions included caroling door-to-door (we were in a retirement home) and playing a round of human checkers. This was the low point for poor Joo, who was forced to jump over my innocent 5-year-old cousin John and knock him out of the game (he ran away crying about the lady that had killed him).
Despite the above story and the below picture, Joo really was a favorite of the kids.
Back at home (and probably a week before Christmas), Drew and Laura came over and brought their new addition to the family, Mack (a mix between a black lab and a boxer - pictured way below somewhere - he's the one with fur). Unfortunately, Roxie and Mack had a few ugly run-ins that evening which convinced Joo that we should not get a dog when we have children (although Drew repeatedly claimed it had been a one-time occurrence).
One of the ladies at church (Meelim's mom) gave Joo a lovely cake because 한국문화에서
임신여자들은 예쁜음식을 먹어야대요.
Mom, Dad, Heather, and Bob all gave us gifts centering on health... (Mom's rationale for the duct tape, in case you were wondering, is that fixing stuff quickly alleviates stress that might otherwise occur from things being broken - works for me!)
Immediately on the heels of our family trip, three of the old youth group guys (and their special someones) came down for our annual reunion.
Although we did engage in some lively conversations and play some riveting sporcle, the central focus was our fourth series of frisbee-volleyball. We created the game a few years ago on a whim and it has grown to obsession status. The field is divided into two triangularish plots of grass separated by sidewalk. One team serves the frisbee and then the other team catches it, passes it around, and returns it. The only caveat is that to keep the frisbee in play, you must be in the air (both when you catch, and when you release).
It sounds leisurely, but it is probably one of the most intense games I have ever played, mostly because we've built up so much hype around it, and because you never quite perform as well as you think you should.
Joo has blossomed into a wonderful host and was delighted to introduce everyone to homestyle vegetarian sushi-rolling.
With the female components at this reunion (for the first time), there weren't quite as many crazy contests and punishments (a trademark of past reunions), but we still made room for some occasional showdowns like this race backwards up a steep hill.
And that brings us to the end of another year, or the beginning of a new one rather. I have about 13 hours left of Winter break and should probably spend at least half of that sleeping. This upcoming quarter promises to be perhaps the most demanding quarters of my graduate career, in part because of the heavy courseload, but more because of all the other projects/tasks I have going on. Yesterday, when we arrived home from church, Joo was abnormally quiet. Eventually, I pulled it out of her that one of the men at church (that we are close with) had some heart problems this past week, presumably linked to stress from his research work and the hours that he has been keeping. Joo was worried about him, but even moreso that I am travelling down that same path towards career obsession. It's a realistic fear- and the one that I shared with the youth group as part of an accountability sharing session for things we want to work on in this upcoming year- so I will strive to keep a balance as the next few months unravel. We'll see what happens. Happy New Year :)