Monday, August 24, 2009

Vroom! Vroom!

Lily likes her little car.

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Sorry that it's been a little while since I last posted. ..I had some camera issues. But beyone that, things have been pretty busy around here. Adjusting to three kids is a lot of work! Lily is doing quite well. Every day gets better and better and she is starting to trust us more and more. She's such a little love and we are enjoying getting to know her. Ella and Ben just love her and she really enjoys watching and playing with them. Ella will hold her arms out and Lily will go right to her.

We have found that she loves bananas as well as applesauce. We have been experimenting with sweet potatoes and those seem to be going over ok. I gave her some peas the other day as well as some carrots and she cried. Not a fan of those.

Well, off to bed so I can get up at the crack of dawn with this little one. Today she was up at 6:15. Whew...that's early for me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Heart Just Melted...


Tonight at bedtime while I was tucking Ella in, she said to me...

"I'm so glad that God picked you to be my Mommy."

Being a stay-at-home mom is a lot of work. I don't have a 9-5 job, 5 days a week. I don't get end of the year reviews, bonuses, any sort of evaluations, or any pats on the back.

What I get is so much better. I get a sweet and sincere little girl looking me in the eyes and giving me one of life's greatest compliments. This will keep me going when I'm having one of "those days" or when I am just plain tired out. It will remind me about what's really important. It's these type of comments from my little ones that make me sure I've chosen the correct career path...not just for me, but for my family.

When I am 80 years old and looking back on my life, I know that I will be so thankful that I chose to make an impact on my children, that I chose to spend each day with them, that I chose to invest in them.

Thank you, Ella, you make Mommy's heart smile. I love you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Daddy is Soooo Funny!

Jeeah thinks her dad is the funniest thing...

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who's That?

Here is a conversation that took place in our living room tonight:

Ben: Who's that?

Mom: That is a picture of President Obama

Ben: What does he do?

Mom: He runs the country, helps make the rules...

Ben: Just like my dad?

Mom: Yes, just like your dad.

Baseball, Anyone?

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All boy...

Ella Hits a Double

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It has been so hot and humid here lately. Yesterday is was in the 90's yet again. We spent most of the day inside the house enjoying the air conditioning, but once the sun started to go down, we ventured outside. It was such a lovely, summer evening. The breeze was just enough to keep you cool. The kids played in the pool and Jason, Ella, and Ben played some ball. It was a great way to spend time together.

Water Baby

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Lily loves the water! She had so much fun crawling around in the pool. She's so fast that you can't take your eye off of her for a second. She was one happy baby enjoying the warm, summer evening.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm in Love...

Beautiful Girl...
I am still in awe that Jeeah is my daughter. I can't believe how much God has blessed our family and allowed us to have this little girl be a part of our life.

*Sigh* I'm truly in love...


Our first nap together (SWS in Korea)



Mama and Jeeah, SWS


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Morning, Jeeah!

She woke up so happy this morning. She was smiling like crazy and even giving kisses. My heart just melts every time I look at her. I'm so blessed that she is my daughter.

Sorry we aren't the best video takers...good thing she is sooo cute!


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Ben and Big Boy Bike

Oh, how big he is getting! He certainly isn't my "baby" anymore.


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Jeeah and Ella in the wagon

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Getting Adjusted

Jeeah in the wagon



Ben on his bike




Lily after her bath



Zonked out next to Mommy





Our internet was broken for most all of today so I'm sorry that I haven't posted until now. Speaking of now...it's currently 3:44am in Minnesota. I guess I'm having a harder time switching to this time zone than I thought I would have. I laid down for about 5 hours and couldn't manage to fall asleep at all. I decided it was time to get up, have some banana bread, and get on the computer. I'm guessing that tomorrow might be a bit tough for me since Ella, Ben, and Lily are all sleeping right now. No rest for the weary!
Yesterday went fairly well. We arrived home all in one piece. Jeeah was pretty tired. She didn't sleep well on the plane at all. In fact, for a 12 hour flight, she only slept a total of maybe an hour. We could see all the signs...the tugging of the ears, the pulling of the hair, the rubbing of the eyes. She was exhausted but things were too different to allow much rest. The flight was long, there's no doubt about it. Jeeah had some good times and she had some bad times. It's definitely challenging to try and soothe and walk a baby in a plane full of people some 37,000 feet up in the air. Not to mention that we are new to her and she doesn't really understand what is going on. It was obvious that she missed her family. I'm just glad that the flight is over and we can now help her adjust to her new house and family.
I layed down with her about an hour after we arrived home. She was just so tired! She fell asleep right away and slept from 6:30pm-2am. She woke up for about an hour, took another bottle and fell back asleep from 3am-12:00pm noon. Poor thing was just too tired, but all that sleep made her wake up smiling and happy. Jeeah took a nap today from 2:30-5:00pm and went to bed tonight at 9pm and she's still alseep. I think all this sleep is good, she needs to make up for all that she lost on that plane ride.
She has taken to Ella and Ben well and seems so interested in them. Ella just loves, loves, loves her and Ben is so gentle and sweet with her. They were both waiting with bated breath for her to wake up today so they could be with her.

We did bath time tonight and put all three kids in the big bath tub. They sat in there and played for forever. Jeeah's fostermom said she likes baths and she was right. She was busy babbling and playing...splashing Ella in the face with water. It was so fun to watch them interact and play together. Afterward we took the kids outside for some fresh air. Ben rode his bike while the girls sat in the wagon. We are a family of 5...and it is such a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Made It

Just a real quick update to let you all know that we made it safely home. We arrived in Minneapolis at 2:45pm. I'll update the blog tomorrow and post some pictures as well...I just need a little sleep as we are all exhausted. Jeeah and Jason are both sleeping soundly as I type. Off to put Ella and Ben to sleep and then I'm next.

Check back tomorrow!

A Big Huge HELLO to Mrs. Nam and Family!!! We were so excited to see you checked on Jeeah!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Babbling Baby

Lily is so talkative...


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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lily Jeeah


*Sigh* I feel complete...and I am in love!

Time is Clicking Along...

...only 3 and a half hours until we go to pick up Lily! The anticipation is brutal.

A Day of Rest

View outside our room




Supper in Insa-dong


An afternoon treat

My birthday treat from Richmont Bakery



Close up of that fabulous waffle





Dried fish at the E-Mart




Spam! Yes, we did buy some!




Korean baby food...expensive stuff...each jar was around 4,000 won





Scott...another for you...."Crunky Nude"





Big Man by a little van




This post probably won't be too long or too interesting. After a full week of adventures and being gone for roughly 12 hours a day from the room, we decided that a day of rest is in order. We have only 1 day until we pick up Lily and I need to be prepared for some sleep deprivation and hard times...so rest it is. A lazy day in Korea.

A part of me feels horribly guilty for hanging around the room when there is more to see, more to do. We have barely scratched the surface of Seoul...and yet, my eyes feel like sand, my body feels like a truck has run over it a few times, and my feet...well....they are just heavy weights that my poor legs are trying to pull around. Yes, a day of rest if a must...whether I like it or not.

Jason and I ran out to the E-Mart this morning. We were out of eggs and bread. It was fun to wander the grocery store, looking at all the brands and different things they sell. We even looked over the baby food aisle. I remember at Ella's babyshower that we had to play the baby food game. We had to eat some unidentified baby food and try to figure out what it was. Some was... well...nasty tasting...and I vowed to never give my child any of it. While in the E-Mart, I ran across a jar of "porriage with young sardines." Mmmmm, doesn't that just make your mouth water? Okay, mine either. I'm sure they think our mac-n-cheese is gross.

We met another family here today who is from the DC area. They just flew in yesterday and are here without a guide book or even a city/subway map. How on earth anyone could find anything that way is beyond me. My map has become tattered just within a week of being here as it is a lifeline of security for us while out and about. The Seoul City GuideBook has many dog-eared pages that are ready to fall off. Luckily, I have a few extra maps so we paid it forward and gave them some necessities for their stay here.

Around 11:30am, my eyes felt so heavy, so I decided to lay down and relax a bit. I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew it was 2:30 in the afternoon. I'm sure I could have slept more, but I figured half the day had just passed me by so it was time to get up.

We met up with that family tonight for supper. We took them into the subway station and over to Insa-dong to our favorite mandu restaurant there. We were quite the spectacle..all 8 of us. Our table was amazing...there wasn't a bare spot on it...food everywhere. Little bowls of this and small plates of that. Jason and I shared a giant steaming bowl of spicy soup that consisited of mandu, noodles, mushrooms, bulgogi beef, and various other things. When we ordered she motioned with her fingers and said "little spice?" I nodded my head, pinched my fingers together, and said "yes....little, little spice." I have to say, my idea of "little" spice and their idea of "little" spice is completely different. If the amount of spice we had was "little"...I would seriously hate to see what "a lot" would be. I am pretty sure it would equate to fire shooting from your mouth and singeing everything within 5 feet of you. Needless to say, even though my mouth, throat, and stomach were all on fire, I loved what I had.

I am going to miss it here...no doubt about it.

Only 12 hours...

We are on the final 12 hour countdown until we get to receive Lily. I hope sleep won't be to elusive tonight....I'll try and post tomorrow.

Eastern Social Welfare Society

ESWS


The kitchen on the 6th floor where many a breakfast was made



Guest House entrance



Being so close to ESWS while visiting Hongik University made it impossible not to take the small walk over to go and see it. I am so glad that we were there...that we stopped by to take it all in. It was an experience that transported me to a different time.

I wasn't ready for the amount of emotions that would surface. I can't even explain the feeling I got as this particular building came into view. Jason and I walked up to it, stopped in front, and took a deep breath. Here, in front of us, was a structure that holds so many memories. My heart was pounding, my stomach jumping, and my emotions whirling. How could a building, a bunch of concrete mean so much? It's because of what it symbolizes, what occured in that building. What it brought to us.

Almost 3 years ago to the day, we landed in Korea to pick up our son. It was at this building that we arrived, spent 10 days, and met our baby boy.

We went around to the side door, the Guest House entrance. It was very surreal to walk in, see the elevator that we rode up and down on so many times, see the phone on which we called home to talk to family, saw the doorman's desk. I punched the elevator button and rode to the 6th floor...room 606. I stood there and stared at it, letting the memories flood in. It was in this room that we waited with anticipation for our first meeting with Ben and again in this room where we waited for the final meeting where he was officially ours. It was in this room that we spent our first 24 hours together as a family of 4. It was in this room where I fell in love with a little boy only four months old.

We walked down the steps, stopping on each floor, looking at all the pictures on the wall, recalling things we did, and the people we talked with. When we reached the 2nd floor, I had to fight back the tears. The amount of emotion that came rushing into my heart is unexplainable. This is the floor where we waiting with bated breath for Ben and his fostermother. It was where we spent our first hour getting to know our baby, holding him, feeding him, falling in love with him. I can remember it like it was yesterday...the colors on the wall, what I was wearing, the smell of the building. It's a memory that is burned into my heart and soul...and I will always remember it fondly. I remember the spot where Ben's fostermother handed him to me, where we cried and said our good-byes, where a new family was created.

I will forever hold Eastern in my heart. This building is indeed just a building...but, oh, the memories that were created inside it's walls. I am grateful to Dr. Kim and Korea for allowing us to come here for the sole purpose of adopting Ben...and now again for adopting Lily. Many people have said to me that it's so good for us to do this adoption thing...but the truth is this: It is Korea that is good for allowing us to parent these children...to have them in our lives everyday...to have them be a part of our family. We, Jason and I, are the blessed ones. We are the ones who reap all the rewards. What a priveldge it is to have the family we have.

Ben, you make me a better person. You make me a better mother. It is because of you, dear son, that I am who I am. You have taught me so much and challenged me in many ways. Ways that have caused me to grow and ways that have pushed me to succeed. You have taught me how to stay the course, how to work hard, how to keep pushing on even when it seems so much easier to quit. You have shown me how hard work can reap giant rewards. But most importantly, you have shown me a miracle. You have shown me how God can take a mommy and a daddy from the other side of the world and bring them together with an amazing little boy and make a family. Oh, I know a family isn't just "made"...it's not that simple. But it is through you, with God's amazing grace, that I have seen the miracle of love grow. It started off as a simple falling in love with you while in Korea and has grown to so much more. I love you more with each passing day. I love you more than I could have ever thought possible. You are my boy. You are my son. I have a love for you that is undeniably fierce and that will never change. We are forever a family and I will love you always!

Ben, you have given so much to me. I have had the priviledge of watching you grown. You are no longer my "baby", but instead you are turning into such a handsome boy. I can't get enough of those cheeks and I love the way your hair smells after a bath. I love holding you on my lap and taking it all in. But more handsome on the outside is how amazing you are on the inside. You can be so gentle, so caring, and so incredibly sweet. I will never tire of all times you say "I love you, Mommy", how you want to sit on my lap and snuggle, or how you love to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches only the way and mommy and a son can. You are my life, little boy. I am so blessed that God gave you to me, that I am allowed to be your mommy. It is me that is the "lucky" one...although we both know that luck had nothing to do with it. We have a heavenly Father who brought us together...that knew we would be perfect for each other.

I love you Ben...more that you will ever know. You'll always be my little JaeMinAh.

Love
Mommy

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Beyonce's "Put a Ring on It

Kristina...Erin may have some competition...heeeheee


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Hongik University and Dongdaemun

Dolsot Bibimbap in Stone Bowl

Mandu


9:00pm and just finally sitting down for supper


One of Dongdaemun's Malls



Snack at the underground "indian" restaurant




Wow, the amount of walking here is amazing. You walk everywhere. It's starting to take it's toll as Jason and I were pretty slow moving this morning. It felt great to be a bit lazy and just lay around the room. It sure is different without someone calling "mommy, mommy...where are you? What are you doing? I want you to play with me" every two seconds. Although I miss it, I'm grateful for the time I get to rest and recup. We spent most of the morning relaxing as we have been on excusions and adventures for around 12 hours each day. As soon as the hunger pangs started, we knew it was indeed time to get up and go out.

We had a quick bite to eat and then hopped on the subway for Hongik University. This area of Seoul is on the north side of the river and is very close to where we stayed when we were here 3 years ago. I was so excited to get there and take a look around. Once we got off the train, things started becoming familiar once again. It was such a wonderful feeling looking around. I suddenly felt a little more at home here.

We met a couple from Germany on the subway and got to talking with them. They are actually living here in Seoul for a year so they knew the lay of the land a little. We went to the Free Market. Hongik Univ. is a large art college and every Saturday a bunch of the students sell their wares. There was a little bit of everything. Jewelry, shirts, hats, paintings, etc. It was so fun to wander around and look at all of the talent there. It rained early this morning so once the sun came out, the humidity was just on the verge of unbearable to me. You didnt' even have to move a muscle in order to start sweating. The couple we met invited us to a cellar restaurant for something cool to drink. We walked down a flight of stairs to a little Indian restaurant hidden underground. It was such a crazy feeling, it was like we had been in Seoul one minute and India the next. We ordered some strawberry lassis (a yogurt drink) and a chai tea (don't know why Jason wanted hot tea...a mystery to me) as well as some lentel crackers and samosas. It was even complete with a Bollywood movie playing. Once we were done, we walked upstairs and once again we were back in Seoul. Jason and I both agree that is was such an experience. Apparently there are all sorts of hidden, underground restaurants that transport you to all sorts of places in the world. Who knew...hidden gems right there under our noses and we didn't have a clue.

We took a walk to the Richmont Bakery, stopped in for a birthday treat, and decided to trek on down to more of our old stomping grounds...time to visit Eastern. It was so wonderful seeing that building again.

After absorbing as much college culture as we could, we headed to Dongdaemun. Once we came out of the subway station, we realized that we were on the wrong side of the street. Some of the streets in Seoul are so wide across and impossible to walk across. Literally. You have to go back down the subway entrance and come up the other side. (Not a big deal until you see how many stairs you have to climb back up...in hot, humid weather, with thousands of other people crowded within inches of you.) Ugh...back down this side and back up the other. I was getting pretty slow by the time we reached the top...and then we noticed that we had come up the wrong side again! We were so deliriously hot and tired that we just started laughing our heads off. I could hardly catch my breath it struck me so funny. I'm sure to the average korean person, we looked like we should be in a mental hospital. Oh nuts! Back down again....as luck would have it, third time is a charm and we were finally where we needed to be...all be it hot and exhausted.
Dongdaemun is a huge market complete with giant malls. It amazes me how there is never a shortage of things to buy in this city. Malls with multiple floors all around. Each had their own outdoor stage and as night started to come, people started to perform. We guessed it must have been an open stage and that anyone could go up if they wanted. There were guys doing breakdancing, some popping and locking, some just singing. There were girl groups who had 3 or 4 songs in a row all cheoregraphed to a "t". There was even a group who did the whole music video to Beyonce's "Put a Ring on It". It was a lot of fun to watch. While we were there I saw a stand that had some deep fried onion petals. Um..I love those things so I decided we should grab some before we left. Much to my dismay, upon closer investigation, we realized that it was peanut butter fried squid. Somehow...that just wasn't the same. I just can't get over those suction cups.

As the night brought cooler weather, Jason and I decided to head back to one of our favorite spots...Insa-dong. We ate there as well as meandered through more shops. It is a more relaxed atmophere here and it was a wonderful way to spend the evening.

We finally arrived home to our room at 11:00pm. Full day as usual.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Korean Folk Village...Farmer's

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Korean Folk Village ... Video

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Korean Folk Village

Gourds


Walking bridge











Fan workshop



Farmer's Music and Dance




Kitchen





Kimchi pots




Mill



Believed to guard against disease and disaster



Jason's seafood pancake...mostly squid






View outside Suwon Station




Stepping Stone Bridge




Mini kimichi pots...I just had to have a few


Oh, the look of a tourist...

Jason and I on the bus to the KFVillage


Today we woke up to rain. Just when I thought it couldn't get more humid in this country, it rained. I'm just not sure if I can explain just how humid it was outside today...but I'll give it a shot. Pretend that you are in a swimming pool, dunk your head under water, try to breathe while below the surface...yep...that's pretty much the feeling. Okay, maybe a little exaggeration, but not too far off the mark in my opinion.

Jason and I hopped on the subway, and I must admit, we are starting to become pros at finding our way around down there. We took it to an area that we hadn't been yet...Suwon. I am just amazed that no matter where you go in this city, there are apartments that stretch out to forever. They are everywhere. In the states, you see neighborhoods with houses...not the same here. The subway ride lasted almost an hour and then we found the shuttle bus that drove us another 30 minutes to the Korean Folk Village.

This place was amazing...talk about culture. Culture from thousands of years ago. It has been an experience to soak up Seoul, although Seoul is very, very westernized and modern. It was truly an experience to soak up and learn about this amazing culture and people...what they did and how they survived so long ago. My favorite thing I saw was how the ladies used to make silk for clothes. They had this hot, bubbling pot of silkworms still in their cocoons. One woman used her chopsticks to stir them and when she did this some of the silky cocoon exterior would stick to her chopsticks. She would scrap it off onto thin rollers and another woman pulled out the string that was formed and wrapped it around a square swift type of thing. Once the silk cooled it was incredibly strong. It was a very cool process although I'm sure those silkworms would disagree.

The Korean people seemed to live in some pretty modest means. They had various different roofing as well as home styles depending on where in the country you lived...the north versus the south. They even had all the employees dressed in hanbooks, the traditional clothing of the koreans. That alone made you feel like you had just stepped back in time. It was all beautiful and very interesting.

After taking around 90 minutes to get back to SWS, we rested for a bit and then headed out for some supper. We decided that although we love korean food, we needed to havea little comfort food. The restaurant of choice: Mad for Garlic. It's funny that you can find an italian restaurant with english menus right in the heart of Seoul. Jason ordered pizza of course and I ordered a giant bowl of pasta. It was delicious and very satisfying. There was even one point at the table where I really felt like I was at home in the states. All of a sudden I remembered just where we were on the globe and it kind of caught me off guard. How weird is that?!?
I found a cooking show on tv...you know me, I love watching cooking shows. Jason was sitting next to me as I started to turn the volume up. Here's the conversation that took place:
Jason: What are you doing?
Me: Watching a cooking show.
Jason: No...what are you DOING?
Me: I can't hear her, I want to find out what she's making.
Jason: (A look of "really, Honey?!?"
Me: What?!? I can't hear it!
Jason: (Another look of "really, Honey?!?")
Me: WHAT?!? I can't hear her explaining things!
Jason: She is speaking in korean...you can't understand a word she says no matter what!
Me: Oh....hmmm...oh yeah, I guess turning the volume up won't really help me then, will it.

I'll blame it all on jetlag and still being tired.

A Heartfelt...

Thank you!! I wish I could give a hug to each one of you who have written to me over the past few days or prayed for not only Lily, but for Jason and I. I am in awe of the amazing outpouring of love, support, and prayers from each of you. Your emails have encouraged and soothed by soul. It's been like balm...healing to say the least. God has given me such amazing people in my life, provided me with endless support and love, and has shown me how much He loves me through your words. I'm so glad that you have come on this journey with me and are willing to support me in the ways that you have. I couldn't do it without you.

From the bottom of my heart...thank you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Missing My Babies


Christmas, 2008. 12. 25




A blast from the past...how cute are they? (And little!)


Hi Ella and Ben...
Mommy is missing you so much right now! Although I am having a nice time in Korea, I really miss spending time with you both. I miss reading books to you, having you sit on my lap and cuddle, and me getting to tell you I love you. You are my pride and joy and you each make me a better person.

I'm so excited for you to meet your new little sister. I just know that you three will grow to love each other in no time. Ben, you will make a great big brother, you will have to show Lily how to run and tumble, how to jump and be crazy, and everything you know about Lightning McQueen. Ella, you will make a wonderful big sister. You are already so good at it now and you will be able to show Lily how to play house and babies, the love of all things books, and what it means to be compassionate and caring.

I love and miss you dearly...I can't wait to see you. Expect some big hugs and lots of kisses at the airport!

Love,
Mommy