Friday, December 31, 2010

grateful doesn't even begin to cover it.

when we were first going through our infertility woes, we felt so isolated and alone. just when we needed it, the Lord blessed us with some amazing friends who were on a similar journey. together we walked the road of IF and supported one another in ways that only those who really "get" it can. and, now, unbelievably, both our families are ringing in the new year with our new little boys. :)

when we started our adoption process, we found ourselves feeling isolated again. here we were embarking on a new journey without personally knowing anyone that had already taken this path or were also in the midst of it.

enter the blogging community.

i know i've said it over and over and over again, but this community is absolutely stinkin' fabulous. my friends, most of whom i have not met in person, have blessed us with amazing support and love and care. they have provided us with understanding and lots of "getting" it. they have shared a wealth of wisdom and knowledge, and have shared all that through the lens of genuine care and friendship.

i honestly couldn't have asked for more.

but, you know what?

i got more.

in the two weeks that we have been home, so many friends from this community sent us cards full of well wishes and excitement for us. those words have meant so much and carried us through our exhaustion in knowing that those friends had also been through this and made it out alive. ;)

but what really blew us away was when we got unexpected packages full of gifts for our new little one. and remember, these are from friends we have never shared a meal with and with whom we never even had a phone conversation! we were so touched that they just wanted to bless us and welcome choi boy home.

remember the packages that were waiting for us when we came home? one was from my very sweet aunt, and the other was from my very sweet friend, kelly. well, technically, the card said it was from max, but i'm pretty sure kelly helped him with the online transaction. just a little bit. :)

inside was the softest, cuddliest stuffed lamb. and the best part? it plays soothing sounds that are perfect for bedtime!

choi boy loves his sweet little lamb and we like falling asleep to the rain sound every night.
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a few days later, we got a package from sue. and in it was not only gifts for choi boy, but for my little girl as well!
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isn't that apron darling? and piper looks so lovely in her christmas-y bandana!

she also sent us this awesome bib...i LOVE the fabric! (p.s. if you like sue's creations, you can hit up her and kris' store!)
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and what was choi boy stuffing his face with while wearing his new bib?

yummies from this:
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sent to us by our friend, kelly! (a different kelly, equally as sweet!) i LOVE ed*ble arrangements! choi boy was pounding those strawberries :) -- but not the chocolate covered ones...those were reserved for momma. don't worry, i gave one to daddy, too. ;)

on christmas eve, we received one more package. it was from nancy and eric. we had the honor of bringing over a birthday care package for their twin girls who are still in korea waiting to come home. nancy sent over a christmas book for choi boy, and of course, as a teacher, seeing choi boy excited about the book made me so happy.

at first, he might have been excited about it for the wrong reasons...
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but he figured it out eventually. :) and i LOVE the bear books!
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i am beyond grateful for the generosity that has come from these amazing ladies. it's enough to make me ugly cry! i am constantly blessed by this community and so, so honored to be a part of it.

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now, i rarely use my blog as a platform, but after reading about something on a korean adoption forum today and seeing how it so nicely tied in with what i had already planned to blog about, i knew i had to include this next part. a part that allows me to give back just a teeny tiny bit of what's been given to me as a member of this community.

my friend, tracy, who has also been an incredibly supportive member of this community, is waiting to bring her daughter, emi faith, home from korea. emi is three years-old and beautiful. she has significant special needs and because of this, tracy and her husband were asked more than once if they were sure they wanted to go through with the adoption. tracy, amazing woman that she is, reiterated again and again that emi is her daughter and that she wants her home. she has been waiting a long time to bring her sweet girl home and we are all excited for tracy as she prepares to finally make this long-anticipated trip.

however.

because of emi's significant needs, tracy has been urged to travel to korea with a companion to help tracy. tracy's husband cannot travel with her because he needs to be home with their other children, one of whom also has special needs. tracy has a friend who can travel with her, but this friend cannot afford a plane ticket to korea, nor can tracy afford to pay for an additional ticket on top of the two she needs for her and emi.

i know we are just coming off the heels of the holiday season and that these last few years have been hard for just about everyone. but, if you could spare just a little to help out this exceptional family, i know that they would be so grateful and blessed. even just a little bit can add up to bring emi home.

if you would be willing to give to this fund, you can go to tracy's blog and click on the "donate" button and make a donation via paypal. if you donate, you can also go to cori's blog and enter this very cool giveaway she is sponsering to encourage your giving.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

so grateful for each of you and your care and support for us...love to you. and happy new year! what a year it's been...:)

Monday, December 27, 2010

reflections.

we have been home with choi boy for a week now and have been together for ten days total.

it's crazy how much our lives have changed in those ten days!

our days are now filled with toddler-chasing, laundering tiny clothes, picking up lots of toys (how can ONE child make SUCH a mess??), singing silly songs, climbing stairs again and again and again, and laughing and "awwwwwwww"ing a lot. :)

suddenly, moments like these are our new normal:
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my two babies, together at last. :)

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choi boy does this when piper licks his face. it's simultaneously cute and gross and disgusting. we're trying to get choi boy to stop doing this, but every time he does it, we're laughing so hard we can't tell him to stop!

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this one is blurry, but the story is so cute...after sharing his food with piper all week, choi boy expected something in return. he's standing in front of piper as she eats going, "ah! ah!" as if piper's going to pop some kibble into his mouth! (psst, look at piper's awesome bandana! more on this and the sweet, sweet friend that made it to come!)

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enjoying the box from grandma and grandpa choi more than the actual present. :)

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"stop taking pictures, momma!"

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kisses through the crib bars...so sweet.

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a semi-decent family shot -- choi boy just woke up. but how cute is his little peacoat? thanks, april! :)

i've been reflecting a lot on our journey up until this point. our time of waiting was so incredibly hard. the daily wake-ups picturing our boy's face and not knowing when we'd have him home. the walking past an empty nursery, which was an extra reminder of our empty arms. the ever-changing timeline. the aching and longing for a child we had yet to meet but still missed very much...

a lot of people said that i would forget the wait once choi boy was home. and while i don't think i'll ever *forget* how hard and painful it was, choi boy being home has certainly made the wait worth the while.

with our son home, i know now that i would do it ALL over again and then some to have our sweet boy in our arms. it was certainly difficult, but the joy of having this little one *home* is so much greater.

i can't believe i get to look at this little face ALL day and be blessed with such sweet smiles...
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

all is calm, all is bright.

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**wishing you and yours a blessed christmas!**


so thankful for the Son's birth and so grateful for our first christmas with *our* son.

“glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

~luke 2:14

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

what we've been up to {a videopalooza}.

i really should be sleeping now.

but, you know, i just can't resist showing off the cuteness that is my new son!

i just love him to pieces and could just watch him all day long. which is actually what we've been doing. ;) the hubs and i keep saying that EVERYTHING he does is so cute. the way he yawns, his little babbles, the way he waddles like a penguin...everything.

here are some videos so you can see the cuteness for yourself. honestly, i don't blame you if you don't watch all these videos. i promise i won't be offended. :) these are mostly for choi boy's eemo (my sister) who has proclaimed death by cuteness upon seeing any pics and videos of her nephew!

here is daddy's future basketball star. you can hear choi boy's adorable exclamations of "oh-wah!" as he plays -- he uses it whenever he sees something that interests him or when he's excited or does something that he's proud of. SO cute. and note, this video was taken at about 1:30am. jet lag is not our friend.


my friend, vic, was watching piper while we were gone and with the hubs being sick, she graciously offered to keep piper for two extra days. so, today was the fateful first meeting we've been waiting for! as you can see, things didn't start off on the right foot (plus choi boy had just woken up from a nap), but choi boy quickly warmed up to a very interested big sister:

and as you can tell from the wet hair, i actually managed a shower! huzzah!

choi boy even shared his snack with his big furry sis! check out the way he says "ahhh" for piper to open her mouth and his nods of thank you:


and finally, remember how i said choi boy LOVES to eat? watch him in action! he's obsessed with strawberries and stuffed an entire one in his mouth. we were jokingly cheering him on, and he loved it!

the nickname "chainsaw" is courtesy of our youth group boys. :)

thanks for indulging me! oh, and a confession for those of you that made to the end of this post...remember how worried i was about falling down the stairs with choi boy? well, um, after only two days at home with the little guy, it happened. don't worry, it was only from the second step and everyone's fine, save for a momma with a very sore bum. must invest in some socks with serious traction...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

homecoming.

we are home. as a family of three! wheeee! :)

thank you so much for your prayers and positive thoughts over the last few days. we could REALLY feel them! leaving seoul was a bit rough as we were delayed for 4 hours due to heavy fog. they didn't announce our rescheduled flight time until we began boarding, so it was hard trying to keep a toddler entertained at the airport without knowing when we would actually leave. but, we did lots of laps and checked out every little detail of the area near our gate.

oh, and choi boy proudly wore one of his many wisconsin shirts for the ride home to the good ol' US of A. :
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once we (finally) got on the plane, choi boy was a champ. i mean, things could not have gone any better. he was happy to play in the area in front of our seats (thank goodness for bulkhead seating!) and even charmed his way into getting some snacks from the surrounding passengers and flight attendants. we walked up and down the aisles a few times, but for the most part, choi boy was happy to sit and play and eat lots and lots of snacks. which would explain the nasty poopy diaper we encountered about halfway through the flight!

he had some snuggle time with mini piper:
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and even managed to squeeze into the bassinet for some sleep:
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the hubs wasn't doing as well and is still battling this yucky stomach virus. the poor guy was running a fever and battling some nastiness throughout the flight, but was a major trooper and helped out a lot with choi boy. he is such a good daddy and i love him so much more now that i'm seeing him in this role. :)

we finally landed and were greeted by the most amazing welcome crew. :) i'll have to post video another time, but let's just say i was a mess when i saw all the people that had come out to greet us and our little boy. you know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? well, friends, our proverbial village (present virtual company included) totally rocks. ;)

choi boy was curious about all the people that were excited to see him:
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and he was especially intrigued by the balloons!
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after all the hoopla, we got some shots with our friends and family (though not with everyone, unfortunately):
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with our friend, kaitlin.

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our buddies, sandra and ben. clearly, the boys are thrilled to be meeting each other. :)

by the time we actually landed, it was about 3:30 am, seoul time, so we were anxious to get back home and get some rest. choi boy did well for his first time in a car seat and fell asleep within a few minutes.

when we finally got home, we were surprised to see this:
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my sister, cousin, and a family friend had come to decorate our house! so sweet. and we were shocked to find gifts, too! (more on those to come in a later post!) i told you, my village rocks. ;)

after unloading the car, we tried to settle in as best as we could. our first day at home was a quiet one filled with lots of firsts and adjusting, but it was so sweet.

it is surreal to see this:
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can you believe it? it's choi boy actually *in* his room!!! i'm still pinching myself!

we are loving experiencing the little everyday stuff with our son...

like eating together
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and even brushing our teeth
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please pardon the greasy mess that is my hair. a shower is not a top priority for me right now. ;)

choi boy is just amazing and we are so grateful to call him our son.

thank you again for all your prayers and love and care and support. our hearts sing with joy in knowing that you are all celebrating and rejoicing with us. thanks, village peeps! :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

farewell to seoul.

this is my last post from the motherland.

it's been an amazing week and we are sad to leave, but anxious and excited to go home with our little boy in tow.

because choi boy came to us earlier than expected, we didn't get to do as much as we had hoped -- but, uh, who's complaining when we've had this little face to look at for the last three days?!
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we did meet up with some friends, which was so wonderful, but unfortunately, we missed out on seeing a dear friend with whom we were sharing much of this journey...and we missed each other twice! :( more on that to come in some recaps that i'll get to...eventually.

though there is so much more we would have loved to do and see, we know we'll be back. :)

for now, i'm going to selfishly ask for many, many prayers and positive thoughts. the flight home has been one of my major worries since day one. day one as in june 2009. ;) but in all seriousness, i'm really worried about how choi boy will be on the plane. as we've learned over the weekend, he is constantly on the move, and i can already tell he's not going to be too keen on being confined to our seats or even the aisles. we're bringing two carry-ons full of snacks and toys to bribe entertain him, so hopefully things won't be too bad.

many prayers are also needed for the hubs who has contracted a nasty stomach bug here and has been battling some serious yuckiness as well as a fever that spiked to 103 today. he has been cleared to travel tomorrow, so we are praying that he will recover and get some good rest before we leave.

we'll be leaving seoul at 10:15 tomorrow (monday) morning (seoul time -- 8:15 pm, sunday night, eastern time) and arriving stateside at 9:30 monday morning -- how trippy is that?! it's like we're going back time! we would be so very grateful for your prayers during that time!

can't wait to get home! see you there! ;)

Friday, December 17, 2010

musings after 24 hours of parenthood...

choi boy is napping and i'm not sure how much time i have before he wakes up, so i'm just going to jot down some thoughts in a list -- no meaty, meaningful, thoughtful paragraphs today, okay? you understand, right? i know you do, that's why we're all friends. ;)

okay, so.

*last night was a bit rough, but still not nearly as bad as we had anticipated. choi boy finally fell asleep after a good 30 minutes of crying and grieving. so heartbreaking to hear him cry out for his "umma"...he woke up 3 times in the middle of the night. he cried a lot, but the good thing was, for the most part, he let us comfort and soothe him.

*the boy sleeps like a maniac. we were kicked, slapped, shoved and rolled on in the middle night. we all slept on the floor together and i'm pretty sure that if you took an aerial shot of us, we would have looked like an H or an N. the lil' dude also snores like a chainsaw. but, as the hubs said, it was the best worst night of sleep ever. :)

*choi boy is a lot smaller than we expected. he is wearing 12-18 month clothing and those are still a bit baggy. we brought mostly 18-24 month clothing (and that's all we have at home!), and he's swimming in those. you know what that means, right? shopping!!! i kid, i kid.
maybe. :)

*choi boy is quite a little piggy. but, we're loving bonding over food and watching his sheer delight when he's eating! seriously, he smiles every time he takes a bite!

*our boy is also quite speedy. we knew he was walking (the FM told us he'd started at 10 months), but the boy is actually running/flying! he's quite steady on his feet, which are really very large compared to the rest of him.

*choi boy's got a few words under his belt, but my favorite by far is "oh-wa!" which is korean for "wow!". SO cute. seriously.

*our son (our SON!!!) is so sweet and has a very playful personality. he's been laughing up a storm with us and is so curious about everything. he's still loving the pups and has told the loud one to shush several times. love it!

*we are more in love with choi boy than we thought was possible. and we've only known him for a day! he is beautiful and amazing and more than we dreamed of...God is good indeed.

and, now, what you've all been waiting for...pictures! don't worry, i'm not insecure, i fully understand that from here on out, most of you will be stopping by only to see pictures of choi boy.

i am only happy to oblige. :)

this one's for my mom:
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apparently, choi boy loves to clean. so far, he's hijacked the swiffer from my aunt, taken a baby wipe and washed the floor, and has tried to figure out the vaccuum cleaner. perhaps he'll actually motivate me to clean when we're home. :)

snuggling with daddy for a nap:
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checking out the ergo with momma and cracking up over something:
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and, finally, guess who loves bath time??
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this is "mahn-seh!" which is kind of like, "hooray!"

is there anything cuter than a naked baby in the bath?

i think not.

we are three.

we have officially been parents for 3 hours now, and it feels great! choi boy was wonderful during the handoff and enjoyed the car ride back to my aunt's house. luckily, we had the apartment to ourselves for the first 2 hours, so it was nice easing into things with just the three of us.

so far, things have been going better than expected. we got lots of smiles and laughter and even some dancing out of choi boy. he is so curious and especially interested in my aunt and uncle's two dachshunds, which bodes well for choi boy's first meeting with the pipe! choi boy also loves the mini piper we sent over in his birthday package -- it's his lovey, and for some reason, that makes my heart burst with love and happiness. :)

choi boy is napping now -- this was when we saw tears and some grieving for his foster mom, but that was expected and almost good to see since we knew it was a healthy sign. we'll try and update more later, but for now, here are some videos -- my videography skills are totally subpar, but i figured you wouldn't mind ;)...

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the day we met our son.

here is the post we have ALL been waiting for.

after almost 10 months of waiting to meet choi boy, it is surreal to think that our first meeting with him has actually come and gone.

and what a meeting it was!

we walked into the agency and waited in the reception area while our social worker finished up a meeting. as we were waiting, in walked a familiar face. a face we had known since the end of february. a face we would recognize anywhere.

it was choi boy's foster mom. and on her back, choi boy himself!
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we chatted for a few minutes and then choi boy and his foster mom went upstairs while we met with our social worker. i was so jittery and nervous that i had to ask the social worker to repeat herself several times. it didn't help that she insisted on speaking to us only in korean, so i was quickly translating in my head as we went along and i *think* i got everything. i hope!

finally, we got to go upstairs to spend some time with our boy. the playroom was occupied so we went to a small meeting room instead. it was a little awkward being in a tiny room that had very little toys, but as it turns out, all we needed to engage choi boy was some food. he was *SO* meant to be our son! ;)

the FM handed me some yogurt to feed choi boy and he was so excited to get some:
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he checked in with his FM every once in a while, calling out, "umma!" just to make sure she was there, but for the most part, he hung out with us, checking us out and coming to us to ask for some yogurt. so cute -- he'd walk over, mouth open and leaning in and he'd smile every time he got some yogurt in his mouth!
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we brought out some sweet potato puffs for him to try, and true to form, he happily ate those, too.
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how do you think he felt about them?
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we also brought out a new pal for choi boy to meet and choi boy was so sweet, hugging the little monkey and passing him around.
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since there weren't very many toys in the room, choi boy decided that he wanted to climb on the table. there he showed us some of his many faces and was quite a little ham for the camera!
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where have i seen that look before??

oh, that's right! here:
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they're going to be BFFs, i know it. :)

apparently, this next one is choi boy's "winking" face:
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so cute!

we found some toy instruments and had an impromptu jam session, with some yogurt breaks in between, natch:
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our meeting lasted for only about 40 minutes or so, but, all in all, we thought it went wonderfully. choi boy even willingly came into our arms for some family pictures (although, he was more interested in looking at other things instead of the camera)! and the best part was, in the end, he reached out to me and snuggled for a bit. so sweet!
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our first thoughts? choi boy is SO cute! he seems really curious and playful with a bit of a independent/slightly stubborn streak -- the FM said he insists on doing everything by himself first! he also seems to have a generally cheery and happy personality, smiling a lot and laughing and engaging others in his play. oh, and he has weird hair. kind of a mullet. nice!

and you wanna know something surprising? there were no tears at this meeting! from anyone -- including ME! i know, crazy!

it was amazing and we are so grateful that this first meeting went so well.

the next time we see choi boy will be friday afternoon, and because of our flight time on monday morning, we will actually get to take him with us after the second meeting. we are so excited to have extended time with choi boy, but at the same time, the idea of spending 3 days in a foreign city with a toddler that doesn't really know us and vice versa is a rather daunting! we would so appreciate prayers and positive energy coming our way for the weekend! :)

i can't believe our time is here! what a wild ride it has been...and i'm sure it will be even wilder still. ready or not, here we come!

we wouldn't have gotten here without all your love and care for us -- thank you for rejoicing and celebrating with us! love to you!