Monday, December 6, 2010


Over Thanksgiving break my sister asked me to take some pictures of her family for Christmas cards. The next day my friend Katie asked me to photograph her for her landscape architecture portfolio. I decided to upload my favorites. As I was going through old pictures, I came across the photo shoot of Sydney from the beginning of this year. Enjoy!

My niece Sydney getting ready for Christmas.


My fav. of Sydney in March 2009.  She is a beauty, isn't she? 

These next two were taken with a medium-format Holga.


Sisters- Katie and Sydney


Brothers- Alex and Jake

I Believe...

I had to create an "I Believe" statement and write a paper for my English class. I wrote about one student I taught in China whose story I continually think about.

“I Believe… that Love Can Mend a Broken Heart”

Her name is Emily. The first day I saw her I knew she looked different from the others. Instead of having a head of black hair, she had light brown hair. Instead of almond-shaped black eyes, hers were larger and hazel. The first day of school the eight-year-olds walked into the classroom and silently stood against the colored cubbies. I greeted each child with a smile and told them to sit down at the table. Six children looked back at me and five timidly began to walk to the table. One stayed at the cubby and put her hands to her eyes as tears began to flow. What just happened? These kids did not speak a word of English, and I wasn’t even sure what language Emily spoke. I walked over to her and gently placed her tiny shoulders into the palms of my hands. I touched her hands and she vigorously shook her head. I then lead her over to the table and sat her down next to me.

“Hyelooo” said the class.
“My name is teacher Kim”
…Silence with confused faces.

Okay… where do I begin? I began to look at the name tags that all of the teachers had just given them. Tyler, Amy, Jenna, Jamie, Emily… I pointed to myself. “Kim”… then said each name as I pointed to the kids. Emily stopped crying and looked up at me with tears in her bloodshot eyes. My heart melted; If only I knew how to communicate with her.

Two weeks later and the children began to respond to me with short phrases. The competitiveness of these Chinese kids was impressive. They would shout vocabulary words louder than others and would grab at me for attention. They wanted praise. They demanded to be noticed.  All of them saw each other as a threat and would even push each other away so they could be my only focus. Well, all of them, except Emily. Emily would not compete, but would instead sit back and clench her fists in frustration.

A month later and the kids were progressing. They could speak sentences and would understand me if I spoke clearly and slowly enough. “Jenna, what day is today?” “Monday!” “Good girl.” “Tyler, what is your favorite animal?” “Tiger!” “Nice.” “Emily, what is your favorite color?” “No!” She pouted and shook her head. “Okay… Jamie, do you have a brother?” “Yes. Older.” But as I continued to ask questions around the table, my mind was set on Emily’s inability to speak and it was becoming clear that she did not like English class. Is it my fault? I smiled at her as she looked away and closed her eyes.

Another month passed and the kids continued to improve. Well everyone except Emily. Everything inside of me told me not to give up. But it was hard to make a fool of myself every time I asked her a question and she would scowl. I talked to the other teachers and asked what they did with Emily. They said they just let her sit there. They treat her like she isn’t there, because that is apparently what she wants. They said she probably isn’t even listening. Of course she is listening… she is, isn’t she?

A week passed and I decided to greet each with a hug. Emily always came in last and would drag her feet with apprehension.  I would give her an extra hug and send her to the table. At first, she was reluctant to hug me back. But with each passing day, she began to be receptive to me and would hold me tighter.

I did not give up on teaching Emily. She showed no progression, but I could not judge her, I did not know what was going on in her head. I didn’t know what was going on in her life.

“Emily, where are you from?” “Russia.” She responded! And she knows what I am saying! “Russia? Why are you in China?” She stared at the table. “Emily, why are you in China?” “I just come here” “With your mommy and daddy?” “No …I live with nana” she said. “Oh, are mommy and daddy in Russia?” “No. Mommy and daddy gone.” My heart stopped beating. It sunk to the bottom of my stomach and slid down to the floor. She could feel the pause in the conversation as something more; she looked up from the floor and looked into my eyes. Her eyes held fear and sadness.  “Oh Emily…” I immediately wrapped my arms around her. She sat stiff, but began to let go of herself and she fell into my arms and rested her head on my chest. “Teacher Kim, I… love… you.”

One month later Emily began to progress ahead of the class. She knew English very well and did not need to compete for my attention in class. She knew of my love for her because she could feel it. And because she could feel it, she did not need to try to impress me. I loved her no matter what. She even called me “mommy” once. The first time she did I just stared back at her.  I guess she knew all along that I believed in her and I treated her with the respect she deserved.

The last day in China was difficult to say goodbye to the children. Emily was the last student I saw. I ran up to her and took her into my arms. I hugged her and she gave me the lifeless hug that I had gotten when I had first met her. I looked at her and she would not look at me in the eyes. She walked away without saying anything. My heart dropped again like it did when I first found out about the story behind her. She had learned to trust me, and now I was walking out on her to go back home. Just another adult who had left her. I swept her in my arms and said, “Emily, I love you! I will always remember you. Don’t forget me.” She smiled and gave me a hug that I had needed and wanted all along. “Teacher Kim, I miss you. Goodbye.” My eyes began tearing as I walked away. I knew that love had given her the hope to move on. For such a young child, it was unfair for her to have to face so many changes and disappointments, but it taught her at a young age that life will be difficult and the only way to move on is with a heart full of love.

I believe that love can mend a broken heart. I believe that love has no boundaries. It speaks all languages. It can give you the courage to do what you are afraid to do alone. It is a support in troubled times. Love knows more than the human mind can comprehend. I believe that love exists when you open your eyes and shut out any doubts. Love helped me come to know Emily because I let it teach me what I couldn’t understand at first, but was anxious to know all along, that growth and progression can only take place when love and trust are first established. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beware of Trees

I bought a season pass at Grand Targhee for $250! What a great deal! My friends, Nate, Tyler, Jessica, Brandon and I decided to go snowboarding last Saturday. It had been snowing all night in Rexburg, which means the mountains were getting some serious powder as well. I get a text every morning tell me how much snow Grand Targhee gets. I woke up on Saturday to a text that they received 16'' of new snow! We anxiously drove up and awaited the great day ahead of us.

As we pulled into the resort, the entire parking lot was full. We had to create our own spot and hike up a little hill to get to the main lift. We walked into a winter wonderland, with multitudes of people busily walking towards the lifts and around the lodge. There were people coming from all over the state to participate in the magic. My friend even met a couple from the Netherlands who heard of the great conditions. The powder was incredible, up to mid-thigh! Although it is soft and light, powder riding is a lot harder because you have to move your whole body in order to move the board.

A couple runs down, and I see my roommate Jessica at the bottom of the hill. She asked if I had seen Brandon, because she had talked to him a little bit ago on the phone, and he said he would be right down. It had been awhile, and she was starting to get worried. I told her to let me know if anything happened. A run later, Tyler and I stood in line for the lift, and I saw on the white board, "Jess Hobbs, go to first aid." Since I was a kid, I have always wanted my name to be on that board. Now that I knew someone whose name is on the board, I was not so thrilled. Reading my roommate's name stopped the beat of my heart. We walked over to first aid, and I asked the ski patrol where Jessica and Brandon were. They told us how Brandon had hit a tree and got a concussion and was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital! I immediately called Jess and found out that he is okay, but had to run some x-rays and test, and that he had lost some of his memory. He didn't remember calling Jess... She asked me if at the end of the day, we could bring her board and his skis and bag down to the hospital. I said we could, and she said to take our time and enjoy the day because they were going to be doing work on Brandon for a while. With guilty pleasure, I enjoyed one of the most incredible powder days of my life! Powder gives me an extra boost of confidence because if I fall I will not get hurt. So I was exploring new parts of the mountains. While riding through the trees, I would think of Brandon and his sad circumstance and would feel the pang of guilt again. I would continually check-up on Jess and Brandon and she assured me that I should continue taking advantage of the snow.

Around three o'clock, Jess called me and told me that Brandon's car needed to be taken to the hospital somehow. Tyler and I were both exhausted so we decided to go to the hospital and get the keys, drive back to the resort parking lot, and drive his car down for him. On the way back from the hospital, on the way to Brandon's car, Tyler said he forgot his poles, and had to go back to our initial parking spot. I couldn't get ahold of Nate, and hadn't seen him in a couple hours. As I was calling Nate, Tyler took the wrong road, and we ended up on the cat track. Two feet deep in powder, and his Subaru Outback was stuck. Really stuck. I called a friend over, and after laughing for a good thirty seconds, he called his friend with a big truck and hitch to help us out. Nate finally found us, and started digging out the tires of the Outback. We left the rest of the work up to the truck. After three attempts, the massive truck pulled out the car. We were now on our way to Brandon's truck, which was parked way up in the upper parking lot. We turned corner after corner up this hill in the deep snow. We couldn't find his car. We check the last place it could be, and we see a pile of white. It is covered in snow! It barely turns on.. now we have to dig this car out,too! While Nate backs it out, Tyler and I push with every bit of strength we have. We finally get it out, and drive to the hospital.

We walk into the Hospital, and see Brandon and Jess. His face is swollen and his shoulder has an enormous knot. Poor kid! He was such a champ, and didn't complain about the pain one bit. The most memorable and one of the most fun snowboarding days of my life. I love adventures, and although Brandon was in a lot of pain and we had to dig cars out in the bitter cold, we all had positive attitudes and it made for an enjoyable journey! I learned a lot about the advantages and disadvantages of the cold, dry, deep powder and the sturdy, concussion causing trees!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just What We Needed!

This past weekend we went to Beijing! We are so lucky to be close enough to visit on a weekend trip! I decided to fly with Rachel for only $50 more than a train, and arrive fourteen hours sooner, without having to sleep on a nasty smelling cot haha. We were on a flight with all businessmen, and I read the paper and felt like I was on a business trip too. I forgot I was in China. It was a drastic change from how we usually travel! Where were the lugee-hawking 50-year-old woman and the smelly squatters? Ha! Rachel and I were picked up from the airport by her tour guide and went to the Marriot! It was so nice to sleep in a warm, clean, soft bed and shower in a normal shower with no stench in the water. Haha. We slept- in late, had a continental buffet, worked- out (I got to swim some laps in the pool next to some serious Chinese swimmers and trainers), and then met up with our other halves, (Lauren and Lauren) who rode the train. Then we went to the Silk Market, and dropped a lot of Yuan. After about 6 hours of shopping, and buying Coach, Uggs, vans, MAC, True Religion, pearls, jade, North Face, scarves…etc. you would think we would’ve spent a lot. We came out spending about $100. We saw the Forbidden City, an enormous portrait of Mao, T’enamen square, the Olympic sites, had delicious Peking duck, ate my first salad at Hard Rock, walked through a park with retired people playing poker and doing Tai chi, dancing and singing, and saw a 60-foot Buddha. It was phenomenal! Peking duck is prepared so that all the fat is removed, and what is left is perfectly crisped skin and dark meat. Then you dip it in sugar and some soy sauce, add some finely chopped cucumbers and radishes, and thin crepes to wrap it all up. OH! And the tour guide said there are ten Coldstones in Beijing. Of course we had to go! Rach found one for us, and it was heavenly! It tasted exactly like I remembered it! We loved seeing The Bird’s Nest and the Water cube. There was a montage of clips from the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics and it was so inspirational! The Chinese were so exact, it looked almost as if there were thousands of robots. I don’t know how it was possible for them to be so on cue. I remember watching that ceremony and not thinking that I would ever visit the place where it was performed! I felt like conquering the world after being there, seeing the incredible architecture, and watching clips of the athletes’ sweat and tears!
The trip boosted my growing appreciation and respect of China. Realizing I only have about 3.5 weeks left, I am starting to cherish more moments and take more pictures! I can’t believe I will be leaving a place that was once SO incredibly foreign, smelly, strange, and now is a place I can feel so much love for, and have had some of my most fondest memories. I love taking the Holts around and seeing their reactions to something that used to be so weird and is for Americans. Pooping babies on the street? That's not normal? Haha! It is great having them here! We are having a blast making memories in China!