Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Aftermath

Wow! What a mess. We hauled out 4 garbage bags of boxes and ripped up wrapping paper. I think we...no...I know we had excess of gifts this year. From all the clothes to all the toys, it's really astonishing. I'm making a new New Year's Resolution right now...next year...I'm asking in advance that everyone give only half of what they gave this year to the kids next year on Christmas. Whatever you gave this year, thank you. Now divide that by 2 and that will be more than enough for them next year. Acutally, on second thought, buy the same amount, give some to the kids and donate the rest to a shelter or a family who is finacially having a difficult time. That way, our kids will have a lovely christmas, enjoy opening presents, know they are loved by all of you, and other children will also get those same feelings...all because you chose to donate presents to them. God is so good to us and has given us more than we need, now it's time to start sharing it with those who really need it. By the way, this includes me!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Morning

Ella in the aftermath.

Ben enjoying his new truck.

The kids on Christmas Morning in their matching jammies

I just love this pic!

We got up a little later than usual this morning as we didn't get the kids in bed at their usual time last night. Ben slept in until the glorious time of 7:30am! Wow. Ella was right behind him with waking up and telling me it was time to get up at 7:45am. Oh, the days of sleeping in...it's crazy when "everything is relative". We got up this morning, made breakfast, and started opening our presents. It was such a nice start to the day to just spend time together. I love spending time with relatives, but oh...when you get your kids all to yourself, that's even more lovely. Ella got so many presents yesterday that I think she was a little sick of opening boxes neatly wrapped with paper, only to find more things to play with. I think it was making her decision on what to do even harder. I can see why some say that you should only give a little as they become too over-stimulated. I witnessed that very thing.

We got the kids the new Elmo Xtreme. Elmo laughs and laughs until he falls over and starts moving across the floor. Now you need a little background...Ella loves Elmo. She loves pictures of Elmo, Elmo on sesamestreet.com, Elmo on the tv, Elmo on clothes, Elmo on window shades, even Elmo undies. We thought that this was going to be the present of all presents. We saved this package for last. We got the camera ready and the video camera out. Jason and I waited anxiously to see her face light up with glee...but instead, we turned Elmo on and she freaked out. She was practically crawling up onto Jason's head to try and get away from the thing. We shut it off and explained that Elmo isn't scary, he's just laughing...she wasn't convinced. She decided that he wasn't too threatening if he was shut off and just sat there quietly. Once Ben woke up from his nap, we thought we would try again. We reassured her it was only Elmo and he wouldn't be coming to get her. She insisted on sitting in my lap for safety. We turned him on. Unbelievable...Ben started crying and Ella was yelling "shut it off, shut it off!" Hmmmm, I guess we could have saved ourselves some money on that toy!

We have had a wonderful day, although it has gone by entirely too quickly. To top it off, we are only half done with Christmas as we will be traveling up to TRF to see my family this weekend. I think I may need a vacation from this holiday.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Here is our Christmas picture. I hope you are all having a very Merry Christmas and are spending time with the ones you love. Here's to a happy and wonderful new year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Just a few pics

Ella, Ben and I suited up for the Holidazzle

Sweet Ben in the sunshine

How cute is this kid??

Ella waiting to go outside and play in the snow

Friday, December 22, 2006


Ben and Ella watching the Holidazzle Parade. Jason took this, I love the effect and how soft they are with the lights of the big buildings in the background.

We took a trip into the big city on Wednesday to see the Holidazzle Parade. I bundled up the kids as warm as I could and met Jason in downtown Minneapolis. They shut the lights off on Nicollet and we took our seats on the curb. It was a beautiful night...the temperature was nice and warm and there was hardly any breeze. All sorts of floats paraded down the street and all lit up with christmas lights complete with lots of holiday music. Ella just loved it. She was so excited all day long waiting for this parade and I think it lived up to her expectations. Each time a float would pass she would shout out "more!" Ella wasn't too happy when it was over...let's just say that. Ben thought all the lights were interesting and I'm sure that he will enjoy it even more next year like Ella did this time around. It was a lovely evening spent with the ones I love.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mary Poppins

We went to see the Macy's Christmas display in downtown Minneapolis yesterday. This year's theme is Mary Poppins. Jason took half the day off of work and we took the kids. Ben thought the lights were cool and Ella was really interested in her stroller belt buckles, while Jason told me that he really wasn't a Mary Poppins fan....hmmm, why did I want to do this again? We went to eat lunch with Daddy. I thought this might save the morning, but I forgot that it's not always that easy to eat out with 2 little children. It took twice as long to find a place to sit that would accomodate all of us including the stroller than it took to even get the food. I unhooked Ben from the front carrier, picked Ella out of the stroller, got the food in front of the appropriate person and sat down to my warm sandwich. I suddenly heard a little voice beside me say "potty, Mommy". Hmmmm...isn't that just the way it goes?!? Once we were "all done" (as Ella says), Daddy walked us to the van so we could leave the big city and return to suburbia life. Wow, what a relaxing time with the family! Worth a half a day of vacation, don't you think?!

Guess who can sit?!?

We are excited to tell you that little Ben can now sit. Well, mostly sit anyway. He topples occasionally still, but over all he's doing really well. If he gets excited or tries to reach for a toy, then it's over he goes...or if that cat walks by...that's a guaranteed tumble. He's been doing this for a while now, but I didn't want to actually count it until he became a little more consistent at it. He's wanting to be mobile these days so I don't think it will be too long before he tries to scoot around. I can't imagine how busy life will be when both kids are on the go.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Goose Egg

We went and had Christmas pictures taken over the weekend. A good friend of ours, Nick Johnson, was our photographer. He did an awesome job and really captured the kids well. I like portrait type pics...but I really enjoy the candid shots even more. Nick shot a few of the kids playing together and they are just priceless. Thanks, Nick for doing such a great job.

Back to the story. We have been trying to arrange a time to get these pics taken for most of the fall and now into winter. Between regular life, holidays, a photographer who has 2 kids, and having two children of your own...well, it's tough to find a date that works. We had been looking forward to this "photo shoot" for a while. We got home from church that morning and Jason, Ella, and Ben were playing in the living room while I was cleaning the kitchen from the night before (wow, it can be really hard to get a simple task like cleaning the kitchen up after supper that day, but that's an entirely different post). I heard a very loud "klunk" followed by a blood-curdling scream. I dropped everything and ran for the living room. Ella was being picked up off the floor by Daddy and her mouth was wide open. It was suddenly quiet so I knew that she was gearing up for a really loud scream in about 2 seconds. I grabbed her and brought her into the kidtchen. I didn't know what had happened, I didn't know where it hurt, but I knew something was defintely wrong. I pulled Ella back from me so I could look at her and ask her where it hurt, but before I even had time to get the words out, I saw the big "goose egg" rearing it's ugly head at me. I swear that thing had teeth. I started to ask Jason for a cool cloth and then changed my mind and asked for the "big dogs"...I needed an ice pack. She wasn't too keen on having a cold pack on her head, but she agreed once I told her that it would make it feel better. She did continue to cry for a good 20 minutes. I'm so glad that I was able to ice it, as the swelling really went down after that. After things had calmed down a bit, Jason looks at me and says "good timing with pictures in a few hours". Ugh. Luckily, Nick is good at what he does, so you can barely see it in the pics. Besides, if Photoshop can erase my freckles, then it can certainly take out any knot on a forehead.

What are the odds that these two events would happen on the same day? Well, if you are me...or have any of my DNA...then it's most likely pretty high.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pics of the Day

I just looked at my latest post and realized that the last 3 pics are only of Ben. Where's Ella? I best give her equal time! Here are some of her too. I know I am biased, but I think I have 2 of the cutest kids ever!

"He Seems Healthy To Me"

We went to the International Adoption Clinic last Friday for advice and help on our "bottle striking" baby. Much to my disappointment, they didn't seem to really have any information for us. I came out of the appointment feeling like an over-paranoid mother. I tried so hard to convey to the nurse practitioner what the problem was, but she didn't seem to want to listen. She commented many times on how healthy he looks and that he's in the 70% for weight. Yes, these are good things, and no, Ben doesn't look like he is wasting away...but as I kept reminding her, it's because I am constantly and persistently trying to get him to take his bottle. She didn't seem to understand that it's a daily battle that lasts until bedtime...or at least wouldn't acknowledge what I was saying. Luckily, it's not up to Ben to decide how much HE thinks he should be eating. As evidence from yesterday, he only had a whopping 17 ounces of food all day long...as I wanted to see what he would take on his own. I guess I will keep plugging away at this and hope that it's a phase that will be ending soon. My own pediatrician had some advice for me which I am in the middle of trying. She said to simply feed him every 4 hours, let him take what he wants and don't force anything else. Sooner or later, he will decide he's hungry and if he wants to eat, then he better do it when that bottle is being offered. I'm hoping he'll catch on soon. I am so glad that insurance pays for this visit to the Int'l Adop. Clinic...if I had to pay for that worthless appointment out of my own pocket, I would have been steamed to say the least.

Some things that we already knew, but was nice to hear was that Ben is developmentally right on target. He is doing well with learning the new skills that babies his age are working on. Within the normal range, there are babies who do things faster and some who do things slower. His large motor skills are in that normal range, but are on the slower track. They said that is very typical of babies from Korea because they are held so much by the foster mothers in the podaegies.

They also noted that he is bonding well with us. He was happy to smile at the people in the room, but he was excited when I picked him up. He cuddled in and grabbed my face with his hands. I have been working a lot with him in regards to attachment over the last month, and I feel like we have made a lot of improvement. It warms my heart to see him responding to me like that. It's really amazing how much babies respond when love is offered on a consistant basis.

I have been helping Ben learn how to drink from a cup these days. He thinks he is something else. You can just see him stick his little chest out and hold his head high like he has accomplished something really cool. We are still in the "learning phase" as a lot of liquid pours out of his mouth, but that doesn't really matter to him! He gets so excited and smiles huge smiles at me while I ooh and aahh over how well he is doing. His favorite is when I say "WOW" like I am really amazed at him. He gets a kick out of that...but "WOW" does he get mad when Mommy decides that we are all done and it's time to go play. Sometimes it can take a good 5 minutes to call him back down again. :)

Thanks to everyone who had ideas and advice regarding the strike. I'm sure we will be back to normal eating soon. Must keep a positive attitude, right?!?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The bottle strike certainly hasn't affected the size of the cheeks any!

Bottle Strike!

Ugh...have you ever heard of a "bottle strike"? I've heard of a "nursing strike"...but not wanting a bottle?!? Now that one is new to me. It has been a long month and a half as Ben has been giving us a run for our money in the eating department. Every day is a struggle. He will take a few swallows, or if I'm lucky, a few ounces and then cry, arch his back, and refuse to eat any more. A couple of weeks ago he cut his first tooth and the second came through just 5 days later. I was thinking that maybe he was rejecting the bottle because his gums hurt...but now it's been 2 weeks since he cut those teeth and he is still doesn't want to drink. I was hoping once the teeth came through, it would be the end of this issue. No luck.

I brought it up to my pediatrican at his 6 month appt and she seemed a little stumped. She checked his ears, throat, etc and medically he's fine. I brought him in again yesterday and she again checked his ears, throat, etc. and medically everything checked out. He is certainly healthy and is not lacking in the weight area. In fact, he's a champ when it comes to his weight. He has now broken the 20 pound marker which is validation for why my back aches after carrying him in his car seat for more than 2 minutes. How can this be if he's not eating, you ask? It's because I don't give up when he won't drink. An ounce here, and few swallows there...you do this all day long and he gets his needed fluid intake, but I'm stressed and frustrated by the end of the day. Usually I have to wait until he naps and then just when he's falling asleep, I slip the bottle in his mouth and he drinks a little until he wakes up enough to know what's going on. Then it's back to the screaming and back-arching. The pediatrician supported my idea of taking Ben into the International Adoption Clinic and the U of M. They are known throughout the US for setting such a high standard for adoptive children. And as luck should have it (and we all know it's not luck at all, but God working) our insurance covers it 100%.

The Adoption Clinic usually has a couple month wait time...they are literally booked that far out. I called yesterday and low and behold, an appointment time had just opened up for this Friday at 8am. Can you say "miracle"!! God is opening the door once again for us and providing for Ben. I'm so thankful that I can see God working in my life...that He allows me to see His hand at work and know that it's not just a concidence. So...we are off to the clinic on Friday. Pray that we can find some sort of solution to this issue. My overall sanity may just depend on it. We'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Own Child

I saw this on a friend's blog...I thought it was soooo good that I wanted to adapt it to my family and share it with all of you. Thank you Jen, for writing this so well!

We’ve become sensitive, it seems. Certain phrases uttered by the news media in light of recent celebrity adoptions, or even phrases mentioned by our family, friends, and even complete strangers can make us cringe so easily. I bring you this post not to make you feel badly if you are one of the friends or family who’ve said these things to us or other adoptive families, but so that maybe you’ll understand the weight of what you might say to future adoptive families you encounter.

Please don’t ask us for details about Ben's birth family. We are the guardians of his story. Ben will be told his adoption story a little at a time, and when he is old enough, he will have all the details to share as he chooses. It’s not that we are hiding some juicy secret, it is just simply his story to tell, not ours.

Please don’t tell us that it doesn’t matter what race our son is, that love is color blind, and that our area is “getting better” in regards to diversity. Race does and will matter for our son. He will notice that he doesn't look like anyone else in his family. It will matter to him when his family and friends who love him minimize his experience of racism. Racism continues to exist and it’s a cold hard fact that Ben will face it.

Don’t tell our son how lucky he is that we adopted him. Our son shouldn’t have to grow up feeling indebted to us for adopting him...just the same as Ella shouldn't feel indebted to us for going through labor and birthing her. Simply put, all children should have the right, not luck, to a have a loving family. We are the blessed ones for having the opportunity to parent Ben as well as parent Ella. There is no difference. God has blessed us with finding each other and bringing us together to complete our family. I can't imagine not having Ben a part of our family. He's a natural part of it just as Ella is.

Don’t introduce our son as “Ben, who was adopted from South Korea” or “their daughter, Ella and their adopted son, Ben.” Yes, we did adopt. Obviously. But adoption is not the only part of our son's identity, just as being a biological child is not the only identity Ella has. How we came to be family is only part of who we are. I’m amazed that perfect strangers think it’s OK to ask what happend to our son's "real" parents or if we weren't able to have any other children “of our own.” Imagine how a preschool aged child feels when he repeatedly overhears Mom and Dad being asked about his “real” parents, or overhearing comments that assume he is not a child "of our own". We are a real family. Ben and Ella are both our REAL children and we are their REAL parents. When Ben wakes five times in the night and looks to us for comfort, he is our own. When Ella throws a tantrum in the grocery store and we are left to deal with it, she is our own. When we walk through the door and they have smiles for us, they are our own. When they laugh together like all siblings do, they are our own.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Baby James

I hope that you are being thankful for all that God has given you this year. It's so easy to take things for granted, isn't it? Like our health...the health of our children, the health of our spouse, the health of our dearly-loved family members.

After starting the adoption process, I have spent time talking to other adoptive families through a few on-line forums. There is a woman named Jen whom I got to know while we waited for news on our adoption. There was also another woman, Ryan, and the three of us were cheering each other on. We waited together for our referrals, and then for our travel calls. Jen and her husband got their travel call one week before us. I was so priveledged to have met her in Korea. While we were still adjusting to the time difference, Ella, Jason, and I were up at 4am for a midnight snack. While in the kitchen, I met Jen in person. It was such a great moment...after talking with her online, I finally met her face to face. They were staying in the room right next to us on our floor at Eastern. I was blessed to be able to meet their new baby, James, as well as her husband as they were waiting to leave for the airport.

After they got their sweet baby boy home, they noticed that he was often fussy. Jen took him to the doctor. Only five weeks after James came home, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It's a disease called Wilms Tumor, and both his kidneys are infected. James has been through chemo, only to discover that the tumors have grown during the treatments instead of shrunk. This week he had surgery which resulted in taking out half of one kidney and all of the second one. Out of us three woman waiting together, none of us imagined that one of us would be touched with something so horrific.

Please keep Baby James and his family in your thoughts and prayers. God has brought James to this family for a reason. They love him fiercely and are fighting hard for him. Here is the link to BABY JAMES.

Remember what you are truly thankful for today! Praise God for the blessings in your life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A few pics for enjoyment...

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that you all have fun plans for the holiday weekend. We are headed up north to see my family in TRF. We will be staying up there for 4 days which means that Jack should be hoarse by the time we come back home. For being a cat, he sure can seem like a human a lot of times.

I am busy today washing clothes so we actually have clean things to pack into our suitcases. It's amazing to me 1) how fast kids clothes can pile up. I swear I just washed a load for Ben and Ella when last night Jason asked me for a clean pair of undies for Ella after her bath. Amazingly, I had to dig out a pair from her dresser that's big enough for both her and her brother to fit into at the same time. Poor kid, she's only 2 and already wearing "grandma undies"...and 2) that so many of them can fit in the washer all at the same time. It takes me an hour to fold one load of little kid clothes. I'm sure that half of Target fits into that washer if the size is 2T and under.

Ella is really busy these days chattering up a storm. She's my reserved one in front of people and it usually takes her a little while to "warm up" when strangers are around. She can carry on quite the conversation. Just the other day she said a 7 word sentence..."Hold on mommy's legs, don't fall in" as she was done going potty. What's a proud momma to say??!!

Ben is busy learning how to sit. I'm hoping that one day soon he'll master this skill. He's such a lump to hold onto right now. I put him in his jumper today and he started jumping like a mad-man. He was as proud as a peacock. He would stop to smile and laugh at me while I clapped like a lunatic. Hmmm, maybe it was me he was laughing at.

Yesterday we went to Wild Rumpus. What an experience. For those of you not familiar with this children's bookstore, it's the place to be! They not only have books, but they have a resident cat, 2 chickens, a chinchilla, and various birds. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more...Ella or Ben. Ella was so busy chasing down the chickens, she didn't even notice the books (which she LOVES books) and Ben was so busy jumping up and down and squealing, that I got an arm workout to last me the rest of the year. It's nice to know my exercise goals are complete now until 2007. It's going to be our new hangout when it gets cold and we are feeling cooped up.

Well, that's all the time I have to write...both kids have somehow woken up at the same time again. I swear they do this on purpose. :) It's baby code or something.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Love to all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ella and Ben

Me and my new little brother. Mommy took this the first week after we brought Ben home.


Welcome to our blog! We are excited you have come to check it out. I don't have a ton of time to write on it daily, but I'm committed to making a post more than once a month! How's that for dedication! I feel like there are updates that I want to send out to so many of you, but I never have the time to customize 30-40 different emails. Either a sweet, little 2 year old is tugging on my leg telling (notice I did not say "asking") me "come play, mommy" or a cute, chubby-cheeked little boy is blowing spit bubbles to get my attention. How's a mom supposed to get anything done with that kind of wonderful distraction?

Well, keep checking back as I will update as much as time permits. I plan to post pics as well so you can see how the kiddos are growing and changing.