Thursday, December 30, 2010
One year ago we had no idea what an emotional year this would be. It was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
I had no idea that January 20th would be the most amazing day of my life so far. Nothing could have prepared me for finding out about our son. And nothing could have prepared me for how hard the wait for him to come home would be. Then April 5th came and once again I almost had a heart attack and immediately started bawling as soon as I saw the caller ID on my phone. My baby was ready to come home. Almost a week later we were finally boarding a plane to sweet Seoul. Being in the same city as our son was incredible. And then the day came that we had been waiting for. We met Ben. There are no words to describe what it feels like to hold your child for the first time. Just two days later he was ours for good. After all we've been through to get to that day they just handed us the baby and we were parents! It was such a bittersweet day and to this day I can't talk about the day we received Ben without crying. My heart broke for his foster mom and for him. Taking my child from his beautiful country was so much harder than I ever could have imagined. Once home the transition period began, and luckily I have blocked most of it from memory. Let's just say it wasn't pretty, but slowly Ben got used to us and we got used to being parents. All of a sudden here we are at the end of the year and we are in a good place.
What a year it was and how I wish I could push "replay" and do it all over (with the exception of the first few months home, please).
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
I cried like a baby when I read the letter (no surprise really, since I cry all the time).
This is for all of you who don't have contact with your children's foster parents. These children are so loved.
Here are some excerpts:
"We gave him everything we could give him."
"When he heard that the new parents are coming, not sure if he understood it fully, he had some hard time eating and sleeping. I was also worried to death..."
"I never stopped thinking about him every day. Each time I miss him, I would look at the world clock and think "what is he doing by this time of day?"
I admire these families who take care of our babies not knowing how long they will be with them and love them with all of their hearts.
Friday, December 10, 2010
He enjoys other people's attention a lot and is starting to interact with other kids (mainly by taking away their toys or trying to share his toys). It is so fun to watch him with his little friend W. who came home at the same time as Ben. Just a couple of weeks ago Ben would have nothing to do with him, but just yesterday they were sharing a meal, wrestling, and Ben sat in W.'s lap (that was an accident, but it was adorable).
Sometimes we go to open play at a local kid's gym and he is starting to love the trampoline. At first he just wanted to sit on it as everyone else jumped, but now he wants to get up and jump himself. Not that he can really jump, but he'll wiggle his knees while holding on to the little bar. I love how proud he is of himself!
Current words now include "book", "baaaaaa" for bath, and "dada". For a while he was saying "baaayyyyybbeee" over and over, but that phase has passed.
He also likes to wave and say "hiiiiii" and sometimes "bye". DH says he sounds like Mr. Hanky from South Park.
Somehow he forgot where his body parts are though and will now always point to his ear!
He is getting into play-doh and is enjoying his little doodle pad he got from Korean airlines. He is also starting to like some of his stuffed animals, especially Big Brown Bear (so we're not good at giving creative names in our house).
And he just loves real animals. Not too long ago we went to a local farm and he was beside himself with excitement. His little hands were flying all over the place as he was trying to point to the sheep, goats, cows, and pigs simultaneously.
In other news I survived my first week of flying solo, and other than two pretty tough days I have to say it went pretty well.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Little man had a blast and I think he is in love with Grace.
And of course there also was a weird "adoption moment".
A sweet older couple was sitting behind us and Ben would go back to their table and stare at the ice cream they were eating. When they left, we were just getting up as well and Ben was holding onto Grace's hand. The couple commented on his cuteness and then the man said "And you're holding mommy's hand."
Grace immediately pointed to me and told Ben to go to mommy.
At the time I didn't think much of the comment, because who would assume that the Korean child goes with the Caucasian woman and not the Korean one? I probably wouldn't.
It hit me on my way home though. No one will ever be able to tell that we belong together by just looking at us.
Yes, of course it's something we know going into international adoption, but somehow this reality hit home that day. Does it matter to me that no one knows we belong together by looking at us? No. Will it matter to my son that he has to explain why his mom doesn't look like him? Probably.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
I was super excited to find out about a Shutterfly holiday card promotion through my friends Jackie and Grace's blogs.
Of course there are so many designs that I have a hard time deciding. It will be either this:
They are both very classic and simple, which I like. I plan on using a black and white picture of our beautiful baby boy on them, and I think either one will turn out great.
Both sets of grandparents will receive calendars for next year. I ordered one for my parents last year and they loved it. This year it will be better still because it will be all about our little man. I even thought about making one for his foster parents.I am not sure if his foster family celebrates Christmas, but may send them a new year's card.
Here is the link if you want to take part in this promotion yourself!
Monday, November 8, 2010
But for Ben and I, there was another reason why this day was so special.
Things started off on a little bit of a rough note for us. Ben and I arrived a little early, as always, and wandered through the building and while we were waiting for Grace to finish her shift and for everyone else to arrive, a very nice man gave Ben a balloon. Unfortunately in the process of doing so he looked at and - gasp - touched him, which was enough reason for a mini-meltdown.
At that point I was not looking forward to spending any amount of time at the festival with a clingy, crying child. I had injured my shoulder earlier this week (funny story, it happened during a nap) and was completely out of commission for two days, so the prospect of having to lug the toddler around in my arms was not appealing.
And then a miracle happened. I put Ben down and at first he walked around a little holding my hand, and then all of a sudden he took off running and laughing into the crowd! I know this sounds like typical toddler behavior, but Ben usually does not let go of mommy when there are others around. It was so special to see him so comfortable that he was going up to people, even other kids, staring at them (and their food) and laughing when they talked to him. It may have been slightly annoying to everyone else since it was pretty crowded, but I wasn't going to ruin his new found freedom. Later in the day he even let Grace pick him up and hold him and walk away from me. It sounds so silly, but it was such a relief to see that he is so much more comfortable now.
A picture like this would have been unthinkable just last week. Yes, this is Ben in close proximity of Matthew and he is not crying!!! (Thanks Grace for letting me use your pics).
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
It's been a good 6 weeks since we began sleep training, and I have to say that to my big surprise it has been mostly successful. We started a routine, even though having routines is really hard for me. For an hour before bedtime we play and read in Ben's room, and then he gets changed, the light is turned off, and we recite "The Going to Bed Book" while one of us holds him in the dark. Then he is put in his crib where he usually goes to sleep immediately (seriously, I still can't believe it). He usually wakes up once or twice a night, but has slept through the night a handfull of times, which - of course - is wonderful! Unfortunately for the husband I have proven useless in calming him down, so it's up to him to get up to pat Ben on the back in the middle of the night when he is up screaming. He is really good at it though and the screams usually subside quickly.
For a while Ben got up at 4 a.m. every morning, but lately he has been sleeping until 6 or 6:30. I am in heaven!
Naptime, however, is a completely different story. Maybe it's because I am on my own (or I try to be) and Ben knows I am a pushover. Any attempts to have him sleep in the crib have failed miserably. He used to nap in the crib okay, but somehow he seems to have forgotten all about that. Now what happens is that he will get cranky around 2 or 3 and will then eventually fall asleep in my arms. And I better not put him down! So I spend an hour sitting on the couch with the baby on me. Sometimes I cheat. The husband is currently working from home (which is the best thing EVER), and comes to help out. Of course when he is there, naptime works out much better.
Overall I am absolutely amazed at how well things are going in the sleep department, and I hope I didn't just jinx it.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Thanks to my friend Jane for the t-shirt! We love it!
Friday, October 15, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulder since I handed in my notice. I can't wait to be done. I am looking forward to not spending my afternoons and evenings checking my phone for emails or worrying about that upcoming deadline. I am looking forward to being there with Ben. Just him, no work on my mind. But still, this is harder on me than I thought it would be. This transition to being a stay-at-home-mom is scary! Why, you ask?
1. The M-word. Money. The reason why me staying home with Ben was not plan A to begin with. Me not working will mean we will have to find ways to lower our spending. Despite the fact that I really don't enjoy shopping, there's a surprising amount of stuff that finds its way into our home. I feel bad that DH will have to cut back just so I can be at home. It will mean, most likely, that Ben will be an only child. There is no way a sibling will happen without my bi-weekly paycheck.
2. The fact that for years, I wanted nothing more than have a decent job with decent pay. After we came to the US, I had the hardest time finding a job. We either lived in the middle of nowhere, were there were no jobs (other than picking cotton), or we moved every 6 months, which made it impossible to keep a job. I yearned to work again. It was a dream come true to move here and actually find work that I would enjoy (for the most part). I am afraid that I am throwing away a good thing. I know that my son is more important than any job, but still.
3. The social aspect. When we moved here, we didn't know many people at all. So most of my social interaction was at work. I've slowly built friendships here, but it was always nice to go to a place everyday where you were surrounded by friends.
4. I vividly remember how awful my maternity leave was. Things got better towards the end, but I remember not knowing what to do with the child all day long and feeling some kind of relief when I first returned to work. Of course now I am actually able to leave the house with Ben, so hopefully that will help!
5. I am afraid I will become one of those mothers. You know, the kind that is only interested in talking about kids, specifically her kids. The kind that answers the phone with an immediate update on what her child is doing at the moment. The one that defines herself as a mother, and only a mother.
Every mother I know that I consider to be an interesting person has something going on in addition to being a mom. Some work, some are actively involved in church, some are crafty, some volunteer. Just look at some of my bloggy friends! Kelly has an awesome Etsy store and has learned to take amazing pictures. Elizabeth runs a non-profit, teaches kickboxing, and bakes. Christine fits in graphic design with raising Spencer. I will stop there, even though this list could go on and on.
I know that things will somehow work out, but still, I have to admit that this is a tad harder on me than it should be.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
P.S.: This is addicting! I can't stop.
Friday, September 24, 2010
My new friend Christy who blogs at 3 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed gave me the Versatile Blogger award. Thank you!
Christy is waiting for her referral of a Korean cutie (and third little monkey) and is with the same agency we used. We're about to meet in person on Monday at our little blogger ladies night out with Grace.
Here are the rules for this award:
- Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
- Share 7 things about yourself
- Pass the award along to 7 other bloggers who you recently discovered and think are fabulous
- Contact the bloggers you chose and let them know about the award
So here we go:
1. I used to be an Army wife and hated it. Don't get me wrong, overall the Army was really good to us and I shouldn't complain (even though I will). We did get to spend two lovely years in rural South-West Georgia where I became familiar with pecan orchards, peanut fields, and people who have multiple grandchildren by the time they are 30. We also got to see Colorado during the winter twice. And I got to have my herniated disk misdiagnosed as a kidney infection by a Navy doctor, landing me in the emergency room right after a three day cross country drive to the new duty station.
2. Over the span of my life I have lived in approximately 21 different houses/apartments.
3. I want to want to be a working mom, but I just don't. When I first returned to work after my FMLA it was all about catching up with my work friends, going out to eat with adults, and wearning clothes without stains. I felt so refreshed when I came home from work, and so exhausted when I spent an entire day with Ben. Now I spend my entire day working, and then working some more at night. I feel completely exhausted and feel like I am missing out on some of the fun parts of being a mom (like play dates). I secretly wish US society would believe in women staying at home as much as they believe in women working outside of the home.
4. When I look at pictures on blogs, I try to see how other people decorate their houses. Yes, I do look at your kids, but I also look at what furniture you have in your dining room and what pictures you have on the wall.
5. We moved into our house a year ago, and the only pictures that are up are there because there were existing nail holes. We have lived in some places where we did not hang a single thing.
6. I wish I could have an Etsy store. Or rather, I wish I had the talent to make something awesome to sell on Etsy.7. I really should've been doing work instead of blogging. But this just was so much more fun.
And the award goes to....
1. Lisa at Our Adoption Journey to South Korea
2. Jackie at Journey to Korea and Beyond
3. Kari at Our little Seoul
4. Jenny at And we Lived Happily Ever After
5. Karen at 33 for a Moment
6. Kim at Seon Mi Kyung
7. Krista at When you Wish Upon a Star
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I loved our pre-bedtime ritual of playing and snuggling in the bed, especially when the husband was working long hours and this was our main family time. Things we didn't enjoy so much were the twisting and turning, headbutts and kicks we got throughout the night.
We had been talking about transferring Ben to his crib for weeks, and couldn't really decide on how to go about it. I ended up ordering a book on the internet - my first sleep book, believe it or not - after reading another adoptive parents recommendation.
I read the book and thought it would never work.
The method that is used is to basically put the child to bed and check on him in increasing intervals. The book said that the first night it would take about an hour, the second night a little longer, and the third night it would take 20 minutes for the child to fall asleep. Even though it went a little against my grain to use any method where my child will cry, we gave it a shot.
And it worked.
The first night was awful. Ben screamed and threw up. I wanted to cry. But after a little over an hour of going in and reassuring him, he was asleep. That night we got up about 3 times to pat his back as he woke up and each time he went right back to sleep.
The second night involved more puke (it was disgusting) and all of us ended up having to take a bath or shower. Yuck, yuck, yuck is all I am going to say. But we put him back in his crib and after an hour and a half he was asleep and pretty much stayed asleep all night.
The third night we were prepared with extra sheets and PJ's ready and a pre-filled bathtub, but didn't end up needing it. Ben was asleep in 15 minutes and didn't cry until he was ready to get up in the morning.
We are on the fourth night and just got done with the changing of the baby after the throw-up ritual. 10 minutes after being changed, he is asleep.
Now if I can get the cats to sleep in another room, I will be one rested lady!
Yesterday we actually watched some sitcoms. On TV. For 2 hours. Uninterupted. It was amazing. Weird, but amazing.
And we got to sleep. Also weird but amazing!
Friday, September 10, 2010
Ben has almost been home for - what? - 5 months? That can't be. Seriously, I can't get over how fast time is flying by! How is it September when it was JUST April?
Ben now walks on his own a lot more, he can do up to 10 steps by himself. But he still prefers to hold onto one of my fingers and walk and walk and walk around the house. He likes to pick up different items and take them on a walk with him.
He now points to - or rather in - his eye every other time you say "nose".
He loves my old legos that my parents lugged with them all the way from Germany.
He says "agoo" all.the.time while pointing out different things he wants.
When he doesn't get what he wants, he has a huge fit and will just sit there screaming his little head off.
Speaking of which, Safety First products stink. He thinks it's a fun game to pull out the outlet covers.
He LOVES to eat out, just like mommy. He is in the best mood and makes sure everyone notices him. Both Ben and I wish we could eat out for every meal.
Oh yeah, and I managed to jam something in the card reader on the computer, so at this moment I cannot upload pictures. I was hoping I could fix this before it is discovered, but I think I will have to come clean with the husband. Not that he'll be surprised.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
We added our sweet little kitty Casper to the family, who has gained 5 lbs since living with us and is in dire need of a diet. Before Casper joined us, we thought Freddy was a lot of work, but boy were we wrong. Casper loves life, is super playful and has also become very very loving ever since we brought Ben home. Even before we had Ben, most of my nights really ended around 5, since that is when Casper likes to get up and make lots and lots of noise, including meowing, scratching on the bed (argh) and knocking things around. It is amazing how much noise a deaf little cat can make!
Then, exactly one year ago today, our homestudy was FINALLY on its way to Korea. Due to some mishaps with USCIS it took us much longer than anticipated to get that much coveted I-600A approval and I was miserable waiting on it. Once that homestudy was sent to Korea, I felt like a weight had been lifted. For nine months we had been waiting to wait. Now we were officially waiting for our referral!!!!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Every year I look forward to the visit, but then am quickly reminded why my mom and I function so much better with an ocean between us. Of course this ocean is also the reason why we are stuck together in one place for several weeks at a time instead of a couple of hours several times a month.
I do miss my parents, and I wish they were able to see little Ben grow up on a weekly or monthly basis versus a yearly one. But spending time with them is hard. Not seeing them constantly makes me notice a lot of little (and not so little) quirks in them that I also notice in myself, and most of them are not good ones. I wonder if they were passed on to me via genes or the way I was raised. Like my mother's quick temper and her ability to always find something wrong with pretty much everything. Yup, I got that too and I am not happy about it. My dad's belief that doing things last minute will work out perfectly. Yup, that's me. My mom's panic when things don't work out. Also me. Her inability to properly close containers, doors, and anything else that needs to be closed. I got that too. And the list goes on. Every year the visit is a wake-up call, and sometimes it makes me realize how hard it must be for my husband to live with me at times. Because it is hard to be around my parents. Every year all of a sudden I have so many a-ha moments of why I am the way I am. Not that they are bad people or bad parents, but just like everyone else they are far from perfect.
And I wonder which of our quirks and not-so-pleasant attributes little Ben will display as he grows up. I hope some were hereditary so they can't be passed down to little man. I hope I can work on un-learning the ones that are learned. And I hope that the hubby and I can give Ben the best of both of our worlds. I want my little man to have my love of food and travel, but I want him to see the world as a happy place just like his dad does. I want him to have his dad's work ethic but with a little of my way of being flexible and ...umm... bending the rules. But most of all I hope that Ben will always know how much he is loved and that we are proud of him.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Things he is doing at a little over 13 months old:
- He walks while holding our hands. He is getting really good and quick! He loves to walk in circles in our living room/kitchen.
- He loves to turn lights on and off. And on and off again. And again. You get the gist. One day I showed him a light switch to distract him from a temper tantrum and now he points to light switches and wants to turn them on and off all.the.time
- He feeds himself with a spoon - sort of. I have to load the food on the spoon, hand it to little man, who then either stuffs it in his mouth or waves it around so the food lands on the wall, and then hands me back the empty spoon to be refilled.
- He gives sloppy open mouthed kisses without us prompting him to! It's the cutest thing.
- He still loves his highchair and will sit for hours and lecture us with a pointed finger and loud babbling.
- The other day he finally sat in the shopping cart for almost the entire trip through the grocery store. I usually put him in the Beco, but this time I wanted to run to the store right after daycare and didn't have the carrier with us. So, it was either carry him and have my arm fall off right after the bakery section, or have him sit in the cart. And to my surprise sit he did!
- Daycare taught him how to use a sippy cup and he loves it! It's his comfort item.
- He has discovered that his index finger fits perfectly in his nose.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Like that people now forgive me for much of my clumsiness. It has always taken me forever to get the car loaded after the trip to the grocery store, and even longer for me to get in the car and get situated. Now people think it's because of the baby and smile and laugh at me.
Trying to get a door opened to go into a store - always a challenge (push, pull - why is it so heavy anyway?). Now with a baby, people will actually help me.
I am surprised by the amount of compassion I get from other people, mostly older women, when I am out and about with an unruly child. They smile and say "don't worry, mine were like that too".
All of a sudden it is perfectly acceptable to come to work totally exhausted. Other moms will group around and share why they haven't slept in weeks.
Other side effects have to do with my outlook on life. All of I sudden I, Miss Quiet, am speaking up for myself. I asked my work for flexible hours, which they granted (on a trial basis). I never ever expected this! I have also applied to our county's adult education division to teach a class for prospective adoptive parents (kind of along the lines of "Things to consider before adopting"). I figured I might as well put my obsession with adoption to good use. Again, I was super surprised that they are even considering it and I got an interview for next week.
Being a mom has made me rethink my priorities in life once again, and while of course being the best mommy I can has become a priority, I have also realized that I do not only have an obligation to my child, but also to myself to go beyond my comfortzone, grow, and enjoy my life.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
For the past few months I have looked at people like they were completely insane when they asked me this.
I knew and read about other adoptive families who added to their family just shortly before we did and said that they can't wait to adopt again. Why on earth did anyone want to do this again, I wondered. How could anyone WANT to deal with more than one child?
And I really wasn't sure about those who already had more than one child at home. How could they possibly cope with the insanity?
At some point I started thinking about whether or not we might want a sibling for Ben. With Korea's rumored closing of its international adoption program in 2012 I felt pressured to think about what I would want years down the road, which, of course, is impossible to tell even for people less impulsive than me.
And all of a sudden, there it was, the feeling that I want to do this again!
It's been long enough where the nightmare of the first weeks and months has faded somewhat, but the memories of the adoption highs are still very vivid.
I am not sure if this longing for another is the actual want for another child. So many points can be made for only having one child. Like the ability to fully concentrate on Ben. The ability to show him the world. Don't even get me started on logistics - feeding, diapers, shopping - eek! And how could we ever possibly be this lucky again? I feel like we've won the jackpot with our little man, tantrums and all. How could I ever love another child as much as I love him? Isn't that impossible?
But how awesome would it be to experience all of this again? How wonderful would it be to give Ben, who is so slow to warm up to others, a built-in playmate.
At this point I am trying to figure out whether I have this new obsession because I am still in love with the process and miss my highs, or if I maybe feel like Ben is growing up so quickly and I am missing out on so much that I want another chance, or whether I will actually want another child to add to the craziness.
Saturday we saw some major teething and grumpiness, but the fever was gone completely. There was a huge Asian festival literally down the street from us, and we decided to take a look. Needless to say, someone small and grumpy was not very impressed by it. Unfortunately I did not see one thing that could qualify as Korean.
On Sunday we ventured to his friend Liam's Dol all the way to the neighboring state. It was the longest drive we've made with him (40 minutes) and luckily he slept on the way there. We will not be discussing the drive home. We had a great time there and met some other adoptive families, which is always a bonus.