Thursday, December 30, 2010

What a year!

This was the craziest year of my life.

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).

O Holy Night

Right after my somewhat mopey posting about my lacking Christmas spirit, it arrived in the form of two packages. One from my parents in Germany and one from my bloggy friend Kimberly with a very special ornament I won in her giveaway.

The ornament reminded me of why this Christmas was so special. We were finally celebrating as a family.

The very next day I baked some Vanillekipferl that even turned out. Ben, of course, immediately memorized the look of every cookie tin we own and would point and screech for cookies. More often than not he got one. I am such a pushover!

On Christmas Eve we decorated the tree under close supervision. Surprisingly Ben did very good at not touching but only sniffing the tree. We watched my favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, and realized that it will probably be inappropriate for Ben very soon.

Then after sunset the Christkind arrived and put the presents under the tree. We took Ben downstairs to see the tree and gifts. He immediately made a beeline for the presents and started unwrapping! I (aehem, the Christkind) had went back and forth on whether to get him something big, something small, or even nothing at all. I was convinced he would most likely not touch anything we gave him. I was under the impression that each set of grandparents would get him maybe one or two gifts and I caved and bought a few small items. For Christmas Eve he received several books, a CD, a cute plate, and a Xylophone from my parents. My best friend in Germany gave him a set of Playmobil - which I LOVE. I have totally been obsessed with Playmobil ever since I was a kid and am super excited that I finally get to play with it again. We got Ben some animal magnets, crayons, and Sandra Boynton books. Ben immediately took to the Playmobil, the magnets, and the crayons. Success!

After all the excitement of unwrapping we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of fondue with various homemade sauces, herb butter, marinated antipasti and some yummy wine that my parents had sent to us. I can't say Ben loved it, but he did get to play with his crayons some while we were eating.

After a very restless night it was Christmas Day. Ben was awake and screaming around 5:30 so we had to get up. I was extremly tired, had a headache from too much wine, and Ben was cranky too. Ben wasn't really surprised to see more presents under the tree and once again started to open them. His big gift from Santa was a cleaning set with brooms and a mop. Luckily he loved it! There was tons of stuff from his American grandparents and he quickly lost interest in unwrapping after he discovered the ball he was given. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and playing.

Overall it was a great Christmas and I am thoroughly enjoying the time between Christmas and New Years.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ISO - Christmas Spirit

By the end of November I could hardly wait for Christmas season to get here. And then the excitement faded very quickly. I had big plans of baking German cookies, filling Ben's boot on St. Nicholas, decorating the house, doing all kinds of Christmassy things (like watching Love Actually over and over). And it's sad to say that none of these happened. Ben doesn't really get Christmas yet and is too young to enjoy crafts or baking. And I am not good at crafts or baking.
I get a little homesick each year because I miss the Christmas I grew up with. There are lots of great things about celebrating Christmas the American way, but somehow they don't mean much to me. After all, Christmas is all about traditions. We'll be doing our best at a blended approach that I am sure will evolve over the years. Ben will get presents from the Christkind (=baby Jesus) on Christmas Eve and Santa Claus on Christmas. Mommy will drink Gluehwein (mulled wine) and eat Lebkuchen (ginger bread). Daddy can get up early on Christmas morning while mommy sleeps in (hahaha).
We finally picked a tree last Sunday, and even though I hadn't originally planned on doing so, we will keep with the German tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve. Hopefully next year we'll manage that a little sooner.
If you have excess Christmas spirit, please send it my way!

Monday, December 13, 2010


We received a letter from Ben's foster mom, which is priceless. We have some email contact through the foster sister, but to hear from the foster mom herself is wonderful.

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

17 months old

At 17 months old, Ben is getting more and more confident. He is walking really well now and is able to carry things while he walks. He also like to walk backwards, sideways, and twirl. He can get up and down the stairs by himself, but has taken two tumbles already.

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

Ben's newest crush

The other day (okay, so it was last week and I am SO behind on my posts) I met my bloggy turned IRL friend Grace for lunch at the local Chick-Fil-A. When Ben and Grace first met several months ago, one of them was crying (and it wasn't Grace). Now Ben adores Grace, wanted to sit in her lap, play with her necklace and feed her soggy french fries that came straight from his mouth. Seriously, how cute is this?

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.