Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The picture book is done!!

Weeks before we got our referral I came up with an idea to make a board book for Clarissa that I could send to her in Korea once we got the referral. I think I posted about it once before when I got started on it and today I FINALLY finished it!!

This project was a muuuuch bigger headache than I anticipated. There are a million different types of photobooks that would have been easier, and probably cheaper, but I'm pretty stubborn when I get an idea in my head. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but I'm not in a hurry to make another one. :)

Here are some photos of the finished product. The back cover has a photo of Clarissa on it and since I still can't share her photo online I had to black out her face. Darn.

And again, I don't know why my photos always look so crappy when I post them here. They look fine in Photoshop and then when I post them they always look grainy, dark and the color is off. I'm picky about that sort of thing and it drives me crazy! Oh well, you'll get the idea anyway.

Now all I have to do is write a letter to the foster mother and I'll have my package ready to send off to Clarissa! A lot of times they take a photo of the baby with their care package, so I'm really hoping that one of these days I get to see a picture of her with the things I sent. Frankly, I'm really hoping I get a picture of her doing ANYTHING one of these days soon. I'll take what I can get! :)

Monday, June 29, 2009


Shawn just came home for lunch and brough in the mail and we got a letter from our agency with Clarissa's five month well baby checkup report. Sometimes when they send the well baby reports they send an updated photo, so I got really excited hoping that we were going to see an updated photo, but there wasn't one. :(

It was basically just two pages of info of regular well baby checkup stuff. Seriously, we have the biggest baby in the world! She weighed 7 pounds at birth, 18 pounds at 4 months and according to todays info she now weights 19.5 pounds!! The clothes I bought her the other day to put in her care package aren't going to fit. Darn.

Everything else looked good. It almost made me a little sad to hear that she's laughing and cooing and smiling. Happy for HER of course, because she sounds happy, but sad for me because I'm missing it.

I didn't realize that it was going to be so hard to get updated info on her! I'm happy that I have something new to hold on to, something that further proves to me that she's real, but it's hard to hear about her and not be able to touch her and kiss her sweet chubby cheeks! I'm also dissapointed that there wasn't an updated photo. I need to learn not to get my hopes up about things like that. Sometimes they send a photo and sometimes they don't.

Anyway, that's the update from our house today. Now I'm going back to working on the picture book!

Another week another project

You know what's REALLY fun?? That I didn't start my Monday post saying "Is this going to be the week we get our referral?". I can't even begin to tell you how great it is to wake up every morning and look at a photo of Clarissa instead of looking at the phone, waiting for it to ring. As hard as it is to wait for Clarissa to finally be in our arms, it's a million times easier than not knowing who she is and wondering if we're ever going to find out.

Our whole family is pretty giddy. As soon as we got back from Portland last week I printed and laminated a photo of Clarissa for each member of our family to keep with them. I keep mine in my pocket at all times, the boys took theirs to school to show their teachers and then kept them in their backpacks and Shawn keeps his on his desk at work all day so he can look at her while she works. Yesterday Shawn and I both took ours to church to show our friends. We've waited for this for so long and we're both just jumping out of our skin with excitement and telling anyone who will listen!

We got back yesterday from a really fun weekend with friends. It was nice to get away and we had a ball, but in the back of my mind I was kind of anxious to get home. I planned all these crazy vacations before I knew that we were going to get our referral and it's been kind of a challenge to juggle everything. I honestly can't remember the last time I've been so busy! It's just been one big project after another and then I have to keep packing and leaving town in the middle of them.

Thankfully this coming weekend is the 4th of July, so Shawn has Friday off and we're planning to spend a fairly low key weekend at home. Normally we would pack our stuff and head to the lake for the day and catch the fireworks at night but I'm not so sure that we're up to it this year. We've been out of town the last two weekends in a row and we're actually heading back out of town the weekend after the 4th, so it's going to be nice to spend one weekend just recovering from the past few weeks! In the chaos that has ensued over the past week of so we've let the house and the laundry go and we've got some major work around here to whip it back into shape. I've got today and tomorrow jam packed with projects and after that I think I'm done for the time being and things will get back to normal a little.

Today my biggest project is finishing the picture book that I'm making for Clarissa, writing her foster mother a letter and getting the care package mailed. That's pretty much going to be an all day event. The picture book that I'm working on is turning out really cute, but it's so much more time consuming than I thought it would be. As much as I love it I'm starting to wonder what I was thinking when I started this project, lol.

Tomorrow I have a whole bunch of church projects that I have to do, a church meeting in the morning and then I'm going to pick Shawn up and we're going over to the Post Office to apply for our passports.

After that we will have officially completed all the paperwork, all the care package stuff and except for getting our house ready for Clarissa, all the adoption related projects will be complete. Over the next few months we need to babyproof the house and buy some baby related things. It's been so long since I've had a little baby that I feel like a first time mom again! I'm trying to pick out bottles and sippy cups and clothes and toys and everything looks foreign to me. It's all changed since Matthew was a baby!

It's going to be fun though, I look forward to having a baby in the house again. The last time I had a baby I also had a toddler who needed a lot of attention. Now that both of my boys are older and in school most of the day I think it's going to be a lot easier to adjust and a lot more fun for all of us. The boys are really excited to have a sister and I think they're going to be awesome big brothers.

So now that my blogging is complete I'm off to finish the picture book. Hopefully by the end of the day I'll have that done and my package will be ready to mail. Yay!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The perfect day

Yesterday was an absolutely crazy day!! I woke up yesterday morning with a huge list of things to do and I was realy panicking about getting everything done. It was my goal to have all the paperwork done and in the mail on its way to the agency by 5:00 last night.

So Shawn took the afternoon of work, we sent the kids to a friends house after they got home from their shortened day at school (yesterday was the last day of school), and we got to work. We sat at the dining room table and filled out paperwork for two solid hours. We managed to make it through the triplicate I864 forms, thank goodness!!

By 4:00 we were running to the bank to have a whole pile of things notorized and by 4:30 we were at Fedex putting it all in a big envelope and overnighting it our agency in Washington. YAY!! We were really proud of ourselves because for a while we didn't think it was going to be possible to get it all done.

As soon as we got back from Fedex we picked up the boys, ran home and threw some clothes in a bag and got back out the door to make the hour long drive into the mountains to spend the weekend in a friends cabin.

So that brings me to todays story. I have two good friends that go to my church and live around the corner from me. We've been friends for about four years. We all have young kids who are about the same age and our husbands all get along really well. Our families really enjoy spending time together.

One of the families has a cabin up in the mountains in the same little town where we've rented cabins in the past. A few weeks ago, before we knew how busy we were going to be this week, they invited us and the other family to spend the weekend at the cabin with them. I've been looking forward to it, but I think it would have been easier had we not been running around like chickens with our heads cut off with the paperwork yesterday!

Anyway, I'm writing to you from the cabin. Once I calmed down from the crazy day and we got the the cabin I was in a much more relaxed mood and ready to enjoy the weekend. We're having a really great time! It's a beautiful three story cabin in the middle of the woods, so there's plenty of room for all of us. The kids are all having a ball playing together, the men rode their ATV this morning and the girls have had a good time sitting and giggling. :) Last night once we had the kids in bed the adults stayed up until midnight eating junk food and playing games. We played a Scrabble type game and Shawn and I are the reigning champions. Wooho!

I was looking around at everyone today as we were all having hot dogs for lunch and I just had this moment of gratitude for such wonderful friends. Everyone was laughing and talking and it was a pefect moment. For a while this week I wasn't sure if I really wanted to come up here this weekend because I was so incredibly overwhelmed with everything that is going on right now, but I'm so glad that I did. This afternoon we're going to take all the kids down to the river to skip rocks, we're going to go to the little store in town to have ice cream and tonight we're going to roast marshmallows. It's really been a perfect weekend.

Tomorrow we're going home and I've got another long list of things that need to be done when I get there, but for now I'm enjoying the forest and the friends and the fresh air. This is really just a perfect day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Afternoon at Target

Ok, I know I already posted today, but I have so much to say these days! :)

One thing on my list today was to go to the store and buy some thing to put in Clarissa's care package. I bought her some clothes and things before we got our referral but this is the first time I got to go buy something specifically for our actual Clarissa and not just a theoretical baby.

One thing they suggest buying is a baby blanket. They say to sleep with it for a few nights so that it has your scent on it. I have a hard time believing that it's really going to smell like me when it gets to Korea, but I'll try anything at this point.

Both of my boys have special blankets and when I got to Target today it occured to me that I might be picking out her special blanket that will stay with her for years! That's a lot of pressure! :) I looked at every single baby blanket, weighed the pro's and con's of each one and picked on that I'm compltely in love with. It's so soft on one side and satin on the other. It's pink and it's sweet and it belongs to my sweet Clarissa.

While I was standing there picking out blankets it really started to hit me that I was picking out something for MY baby and I just got so excited that I honestly had to stop myself from grabbing all the moms in the baby isle and yelling "I'M BUYING A BLANKET FOR MY BABY!!!" I didn't do it, I refrained. But just barely. :)

I also bought her the sweetest little Piglet stuffed animal and a few outfits that I REALLY hope are going to fit her! It's so hard to know what size to buy.

It was honestly the most fun shopping I've had in a really long time! I was trying to remain calm on the outside but I was totally giddy on the inside.

Along with those things I also have the picture book that I'm making her, a stuffed bear with a little digital photo frame in its stomach that scrolls through photos of us and I'm really excited that I found the book "Guess How Much I Love You" at Amazon in Korean!! It's got Korean and English words in it. That's one of my absolute favorite childrens books and I'm so excited that I get to send it to her!

So there's Clarissa's care package. I'm hoping to get it mailed on Monday but it may take a while to get to her. They tend to sometimes sit in the Korean agency's office for a bit before the foster moms open them.

The other good news is that the agency was able to e-mail the forms I need and a great friend offered to take our kids this afternoon, so as soon as I publish this post Shawn and I are off to finish up the paperwork! YAY! :)

A new day

OK, I'm much calmer today than I was last night!!

I'm waiting for the agency to call me back and let me know if the forms can be e-mailed. In the meantime Shawn called from work a litte bit ago and said that he found someone to fill in for him this afternoon and he's going to come home in a little bit. We have a million things to do to do and I'm stressing out that we're going to be out of town this weekend when I have so many things I need to do, so he's going to come home in a bit and help me start crossing things off the list. Thank goodness for Shawn.

I sat down and made another to-do list last night and I basically have 20 projects that need to be done by Tuesday. We still have to get the paperwork filled out, we have to get it notorized, we have to apply for passports, I need to finish the picture book I'm making for Clarissa, I need to write a letter to her foster mother, I need to put a care package together and get it mailed, there is a last day of school picnic at the kids school today, I have a bunch of church projects that need to be done in the next few days....the list goes on. That would be fine except that we're leaving this evening to go out of town for a few days, so I'm trying to cram as much into this afternoon as I can. I can't go out of town and relax when I know I have so much stuff left to do at home.

The good news is that once all this adoption paperwork is done we will have pretty much finished everything we need to do. The agency sent us all the government forms and everything that needs to go out to various places at various times and then we'll send it back to them and they'll get it where it needs to go when it needs to get there. So once this packet of paperwork is done things are going to calm back down considerably.

This morning I also had the chance to talk to the doctors office about Clarissa's medical paperwork. I took all the info I have one her over to them earlier this week so that doctor could look at everything and let me know if anything looked like a concern to him. We knew from the day we got the referral that Clarissa has one very tiny possible issue that is probably no big deal but I wanted him to look at everything and get his opinion.

His opinion was the same as mine already was. We're going to request a test be done on Clarissa in Korea to see if she has the possible problem. If she has it, it's easy to correct, possibly before she even comes home. It's not a big deal, I'm not even going to mention what it is unless she has it because she probably doesn't. (Plus I'm not sure how much specific info I can give out without getting in trouble with the agency.) The test is simple and if she has it the treatment is most likely simple. Other than that the doctor confirmed that everything looks good as far as he can tell.

I'm such a worrier. I've read every single word of information we have on her a million times, obsessing over each phrase. It's hard not knowing a lot about your own child. I'll feel so much better when I can get my hands on her and see her with my own eyes and not have to rely on medical reports and photos.

So that's what is going on here today. I'm much calmer, and I will be even better when Shawn gets home in a little bit. Shawn and I make a great team. I can be a little high strung and full of anxiety at times and he's the calmest person on the planet. I always feel better when he's around.

So now that I can cross blogging off my list, I'm going to go get Matthew ready for school and hope that the agency calls in a few minutes with info about the paperwork so that we can hopefully get it finished in the next couple of hours before the school picnic.

We're one day closer to Clarissa! YAY! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


This is the part where Wendy has her first of many meltdowns in the process to bring Clarissa home. Arm protective gear now.


Ok, so we got the paperwork in the mail today. If you've ever bought a house you know what it's like to sit down at closing when they bring in a ridiculously large stack of paperwork and then proceed to spend the next hour going through every page while you "sign here" and "initial there". That's sort of what came in the mail today, except that it wasn't accompanied by a nice lady who turns the pages for you and explains what each form means.

We decided to spread everything out on the dining room table and just start at page one. That worked well for a while, the first part wasn't too hard. Just lots of forms we have to sign saying that we've read her medical reports, a page about how much we still owe the agency (gulp), blah blah blah.

Then we got to government form I864a and I864. They're immigration forms, petitions for Clarissa's Visa. Form I864 and I864a, I officially hate your guts.

First of all, you have to fill them out in triplicate and each form is like 10 pages long. Second, it's totally like doing your taxes. "If you marked yes on section 2, line three, please skip to section 4 and fill out a, b, and c. If the combined weight of your mother and sister is over 300, please stand up and do the hokie pokie, unless you're wearing blue shoes, in which case skip to form C and complete lines 6 through 10." Only it's asking questions that we don't understand and we have no idea how to fill out the forms.

The instructions we got from the agency said that there were sample forms inclosed so that we could see how to fill it all out, but the sample forms unfortunately are missing from our packet and it's too late to call the agency.

Argh. All I can do is call her tomorrow and hope and pray that the instructions can be e-mailed to us and we don't have to wait to have them mailed. I was bound and determined to beat the world record in adoption paperwork completion, lol. My plan was to fill everything out tonight, get everything notorized first thing tomorrow morning and have everything in the mail on the way back to the agency by the afternoon.

But thanks to crappy form I864a and I864, we're going to have to wait, which means I may not get everything in the mail until next week. That doesn't seem like that big of a deal except that in my mind every single day we wait is one day longer that Clarissa will be in Korea. I know that things might be delayed due to the government taking their own sweet time to approve things, but I was determined to help make up for that by doing the paperwork at lightning speed. I'm freaking out at the thought of uncompleted paperwork sitting on my dining room table while my daughter is sitting in Korea waiting for us.

*sigh* Wasn't my giddy mood this morning nice while it lasted? lol

I'll be fine. The paperwork is going to get finished, Clarissa will make it home and life will go on. This is certainly not the end of the world. Sometimes I just overwhelm easily and this is one of those times.

So tonight I'm going to forget about it, I'm going to put my jammies on and maybe find a movie to watch with Shawn. In the words of Scarlett O'Hara, I'll think about it tomorrow.


This has been an insanely busy, but really great week. Tomorrow is Friday and I'm not wondering about what the Friday update will say! YAY! :)

This week I've just been working through my long to-do list trying to get things done as fast as I can. At the moment I'm waiting for UPS to show up at my house with all the paperwork we have to fill out, have notorized and sent back. It should be here any minute now and then I'm going to be spending the day going through it.

Things are crazy around here right now, but I'm loving it. I'm absolutely loving that there are stacks of paperwork I have to complete today. I'm finally actually DOING something instead of just waiting helplessly for the phone to ring. People kept telling me that the wait gets harder once you get your referral, but I'm not feeling that at the moment. The wait is a million times easier for me now that I know who my daughter is and I know who is taking care of her. It was the not knowing that was so hard for me. I'm sure the wait is going to start getting hard again once the blissful state I'm currently in starts to wear off a little, but I'm enjoying this feeling while it lasts. Shawn and I keep joking that after waiting 19 months for the referral we could do the next 3-4 months standing on our heads. I'm OK with the 3-4 month wait. It's nothing compared to what we just did! At least I have Clarissa's photo to get me through this part of it. I printed out a copy and laminated it and I keep it in my pocket at all times. I like knowing that she's always with me.

Shawn and I were looking at the calendar at what we have coming up for the next few weeks and we're going to be BUSY for a while. Tomorrow we're leaving town again to spend the weekend with friends at a cabin. There are two families that live around the corner from us that we're really good friends with. I'm good friends with the women, my husband has guys night with the men sometimes and we all have kids the same age who get along great. One of the families owns a really nice cabin up in the mountains near here, in the same little town where we love to rent cabins. I LOVE going up there. They invited us and the other family to come stay with them this weekend and I think it's going to be really fun! Tomorrow night I'm making Korean food for everyone, which I'm excited about! We'll be there until Sunday.

The next weekend is the 4th of July and we're going to plan some sort of fun activity that weekend, but we haven't decided exactly what yet.

The weekend after that we're going out of town AGAIN! My mom hosts a cousins camp for all the grandkids at her house for a few days every summer, so we're taking the kids to that and then Shawn and I are on our own for a few days, which will be fun!

In the middle of all that we're going to have a lot of paperwork and other things to do in the coming months. I'm still not clear on everything that has to be done, but I'll figure it out as I go. We can only do one step at a time and this morning I'm getting ready to start step one. Once that's completed and approved I can move on to the next thing.

So it looks like we're gearing up for a whirlwind of a summer. I have a feeling that they next month or two is just going to fly by with all that we have going on. That's a good thing. Every day we're one day closer to being with our sweet Clarissa!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The day Clarissa was born

I know I've already posted today but a comment I just got reminded me of the great story I meant to tell!! Thanks for reminding me!

I looked back on my blog a couple of days ago to see if I could remember what I was doing the day Clarissa was born (February 4th).

According to my blog I went to a baby shower for a friend the night of February 3rd. I remember what a hard time I was having that night. There were a whole bunch of people there with their new babies and it was a big baby celebration for my friend (who I love to pieces and who had her baby boy two weeks after Clarissa was born!) and it was just really hard seeing all the fun baby stuff going on that night. I was really happy for my friend but I was feeling kind of down that evening and my thoughts were on Clarissa the whole night.

Clarissa was born on the afternoon of February 4th Korean time, but she was actually born on February 3rd around 11pm our time. She was born a few hours after I got back from that baby shower.

The next morning, on February 4th, I woke up and I specifically remember that morning because it felt like the fog my brain had been in for the past month or two had finally lifted. Anyone who was reading my blog in January can probably remember what a hard time I had that month. It was cold and dark outside and I was kind of feeling cold and dark inside. That month seemed to go on forever.

But the morning of February 4th I woke up with a smile on my face. I remember that it was a sunny day and that the sunshine made me happy after the long winter. I made a blog post that morning about how I finally felt happy again after such a long winter. For some reason I just woke up that morning with a peace in my heart that I hadn't felt in a while and it felt good.

At the time it didn't seem like a big thing, just a reaction to a sunny day in the winter, but now that I look back on that day and remember how I felt that morning I feel like maybe there was another reason I was so happy that day. I didn't know it then but my beautiful daughter had just entered the world.

I figured all that out while we were in Portland and the memory of that made me happy all the way home. When I got home and logged into my e-mail for the first time yesterday afternoon, the background graphic of my e-mail had changed from the flowers I set it to a few weeks ago to a big sun. Maybe AOL changed everyone's e-mail background to a sun yesterday for some reason, I don't know. But when I saw it it made me smile and reminded me of the sunny day in February that made my heart so happy.

The story of the morning Clarissa was born is a story that I can't wait to tell her someday. :)


We made it home from Portland! I left the house Friday kind of bummed that we still hadn't gotten the referal and I came home on Monday with a huge smile on my face! :)

But now all the craziness begins! Gone are my long afternoons waiting for the phone to ring. They've been replaced by long to-do lists, stacks of paperwork that has to be filled out and notorized and breaks to stare at Clarissa's photo fifty times a day. :)

And speaking of Clarissa's photo...I spoke to the agency yesterday to verify that it would be OK to post her photo on my blog and on my adoption message board and to my surprise I was told no. I understood from people at other agencies that it was OK to post photos once we formally accepted the referral so I expected to be told the same thing. That's true of some agencies, but apparently ours is a little more strict. We're not allowed to share photos until the adoption is finalized!! Crap. I totally understand why and I'm not going to try to get around it, but I am a little dissapointed because I was really excited to share photos here.

So for the time being there won't be photos of Clarissa posted on my blog. You're just going to have to take my word for it that she's sweet and beautiful. :)

I'm completely overwhelmed with emotion these days. All weekend I just kept tearing up everytime I thought about her. Saturday we went to the Portland Zoo. For the past month I have been telling Shawn that one way or another I was going to take Clarissa's photo to the zoo with us, and when Friday morning came along with no referral I was really having a hard time. So Saturday morning when we got to the zoo I stopped and made Clarissa's photo my cellphone wallpaper and Shawn said "see, you got to take her to the zoo after all!". It took us both a few minutes to get our emotions under control before we could continue on our zoo adventure. I know it's just a photo at this point, but to me at that moment it felt like our family was finally complete.

Then I go from tearing up with emotion to serious butterflies in my stomach! Every now and then I will just have this moment where I start thinking about how much our lives are going to change and I think about the fact that I'm actually going to be flying halfway around the world in a few months to bring home a baby who doesn't know who we are and I think about her being in Seoul without me for the next few months and I worry about her being safe and loved and cared for and I wonder what it's going to be like when she gets here...and then the nerves start up in full force!

I'm prone to anxiety anyway and my mind is always working overtime. It doesn't take much to work me into a panic attack and this is one of those life changing things that tends to cause them. This is a fantastic life change, not a bad one at all, but change of any sort scares me a little. The unknown scares me. I know in my heart that this is the right thing for our family, that Clarissa was meant to join us and I already love her so much. But it's still kind of scary!

Life is going to change a lot in the next several months. It's a lot to prepare for. I'm worried that we're going to have problems with the paperwork, I'm scared to fly to Korea, I'm worried about North Korea being a big bully and what will happen if a war breaks out while my daughter is in Seoul and I can't protect her. I worry about all sorts of things that really don't need to be worried about right now. That's just how I function, unfortunately!

So these days I'm kind of all over the place in the emotions department. The best thing for me to do is just make a list and focus on one thing at a time. I made a huge list last night of all the things that need to get done this week and I'm just going to work on them one at a time. I've got to get her medical reports reviewed by a doctor, I've got to write a letter to the foster mother and have it translated, I've got to finish up her care package, I've got to make sure we get an appointment to be refingerprinted by USCIS, I'm keeping an eye out for the big packet of forms that is on its way to me that has to be filled out, notorized and sent back, this is the boys last week of school so there are programs to attend, field day to get them ready for and I also remembered yesterday that this weekend we're going to a cabin with some friends and I agreed to make Korean food for 13 people!

WHEW! Remember when I was bored, lol?!

Life is good and I feel very blessed right now. In between the happy tears and the nervous stomach, I feel peace. When I have quiet moments and my mind isn't trying to comprehend this sudden change of events, I have a quiet peace that tells me that this is what our family is meant to do. I may never know why, but I will always believe that Clarissa was meant to join our family this way. She may not have my DNA but she's my daughter and I feel blessed to be able to be her mom.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What a weekend!

Whew, this feels like it's been the craziest weekend of my life! Today is Fathers Day, our 12 year wedding anniversary, we're winding up a little family vacation and I still can't quite believe that we got our referral and Clarissa is really out there waiting for us! I just keep looking at her sweet face and smiling. I have her photo on my cellphone and I've been taking it out and staring at it so many times a day that I keep running my cellphone battery out! She's real!

In a way I just want to get home ASAP so that I can start figuring out what's next and in a way I think this is the calm before the storm. Once we get home there is going to be so much to do. I've got a million questions for our agency, I've got paperwork to fill out, a care package to mail, I need to finish decorating Clarissa's bedroom and I need to just run up and down the street and announce our good news to anyone who will listen, lol. We have a daughter!!!

Tomorrow morning we're going to pack up and go home. It's a long drive home and I'm hoping it passes quickly. I love going on vacation but I never enjoy the long ride home!

We've had a great time in Portland. Oregon is my favorite place to visit. It's really green and beautful here and there are a lot of fun things to do and see. We went to the zoo, which of course I love! Portland has the most beautiful zoo I've ever been to. You forget that you're in a big city because it feels like you're out in the woods. It's green and peaceful and beautiful. We also went to OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) which is an amazing place! It's an absolutely humongous place where they have a planatarium, an IMAX theater, and lots of rooms full of fun science related things for kids to do. We launched pop bottle rockets, we built a water tower out of Legos and watched it withstand a simulated earthquake, we learned about fossils and fish, we operated a robot, we learned about the planets...we pretty much wore ourselves out!

Now the day is winding down. The kids are asleep and we're getting ready to snuggle up and watch a movie and enjoy the rest of our anniversary. We actually came to Oregon on honeymoon, so it's always fun to come back on our anniversary. It's amazing how far we've come in the past 12 years! Twelve years ago we we came here to start out our lives together and now here we are again, celebrating the fact that our family is finally complete. It's been an amazing journey and I've been happy to be along for the ride. I can't wait for the adventures still ahead. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The whole story

Yesterday we left the house at about 1:00 or so to make the six and a half hour drive to Portland for a quick little family vacation. I had my Blackberry in sight so that I could keep checking my e-mail for the update e-mail. I absolutely didn't think we were going to get a referral, I was just hoping to at least read in the Friday update that SOMEONE had gotten a referral.

About an hour and a half in to the drive my Blackberry rang. That's odd because I rarely get incoming calls on my cellphone. There are only a few people that even have the number and the only person that really calls it is Shawn and he was in the car with me! So I knew the second it rang that it was the agency. I just knew it. I grabbed the phone to answer it and the darn thing chose that moment to lock up and I couldn't answer it! It quit ringing and I started freaking out. I checked the missed call message and it was the agency. I started yelling at Shawn to pull over while I called them back.

Our social worker answered the phone and as soon as she heard it was me she said "I have good news!". That's all I needed to hear and I started sobbing before she could even give me any info. I could barely stop crying enough to listen to what she was saying! There we were on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in Oregon hearing for the first time that we had a daughter. I'll never forget it.

I can't share a lot of info yet because we have to send back paperwork officially accepting the referral first. I have photos of her, her medical reports, I know when her birthday is, what her Korean name is and the circumstances of her adoption.

What I can tell you is that she was born in February and that she is a chunky monkey!! She's not the tiny little thing that for some reason I imagined she would be! She has smooshy cheeks that I can't wait to kiss.

A few minutes after I got off the phone with the agency I got an e-mail with her photo and info. It was a really neat moment when we all gathered around my Blackberry on the side of the road and watched her photo come up for the first time. I'm happy that we all got to see her together. It was a neat family moment that I'll never forget.

She was born the first part of February so she's actually not quite five months old yet. Korean babies normally aren't referred for an international adoption until they're five months old but every now and then they release them a week or two early for some reason. I'm not positive but I THINK we have to wait for another week or so until she's officially five months old before we can start all the paperwork to bring her home. I have a million questions to ask the agency when we get back into town and that's one of them, so I don't know all the details of what happens next. I'll know more in a few days when we get home.

I'm really excited, but honestly a little overwhelmed! I kind of wish that we weren't on vacation right now. I need to really sit down and go through all the paperwork and process everything, but I've got two kids who need to be entertained for the next few days. It's hard to keep my mind on the vacation right now. I didn't sleep well in the hotel bed at all last night and we spent the day at the zoo today, so I'm really tired and overwhelmed by all the information coming at me. We're having a fun time but I'm honestly looking forward to going home so that I can process everything and figure out what happens next.

So there's everything I can tell you right now. I'll be sharing photos and more info sometime next week.

Thank you all for the sweet comments you posted yesterday. My cellphone buzzed with new e-mail constantly the whole trip to Portland! I enjoyed reading them in the car, it's so fun to have everyone share this with me!

Oh, one important thing: before all of this happened I decided to register the web address heartontheline.com and move my blog there. It was supposed to continue to redirect from the blogspot address for a while, but of course the day I announced the big news it stopped redirecting. If you can't get into my blog from the regular address, try www.heartontheline.com, and change your bookmark so that you'll continue to be able to get in.

More info soon!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fifteen minutes ago

Fifteen minutes ago I got a call that will change my life forever. Fifteen minutes ago we heard our daughters name for the first time. She's real and she's beautiful and she's ours.

Ten minutes ago our whole family gathered around to see our baby's face for the first time. It's a moment I'll never forget as long as I live.

I have so much to say, but I can't say it now. I'm typing this in the car in the rain on the freeway and I've cried so many happy tears that I can barely see.

It's a beautiful, wonderful story and I can't wait to tell it all. But for now I'm going to enjoy the ride to Portland with a gigantic smile on my face. Today is a beautiful day.

hitting the road

We're leaving for Portland in a little while, so I thought I'd get a quick post done before we go. I may or may not be posting while we're gone.

Nothing new from the agency yet. It's Friday update day today so I should be getting the e-mail this afternoon. I'm interested to see if there were any referrals this week because so far there hasn't been one all month. Even if they aren't girl referrals it would be comforting to know that SOMETHING is happening.

I'll definitely update if there's anything exciting to report, or if by some miracle we get our referral while we're out of town. Remember when earlier this year when there was a huge slow time for the agency and there were no referrals for a few months? The day we went to Memphis there were three referrals. Maybe going on vacation is the key!

I'm looking forward to getting away for a few days, the referral wait is starting to get harder and harder. I've really been struggling this week. When we first planned this trip about a month ago I remember telling Shawn that I was planning on taking a photo of our baby with us on our trip. I thought for sure we would have heard something by now.

So I guess if I have to keep waiting, I'd rather be waiting on a fun vacation than at home wallowing in my pity party. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and come home with a referral!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Another week is almost over. No news yet.

Last night we got to go see the third grade program that Josh has been working so hard on. My kids go to an arts based magnet school, which means that they focus heavily on music and art and theater. So when they put on a class program it's not just kids standing on risers singing a few songs, it's a serious production!

They had it in the evening at the high school auditorium. The kids have been learning about different countries and different cultures this year so the program had an "around the world" theme and they performed songs from all different countries and the kids were dressed in cute costumes from the country they were representing. Not only did they sing songs from different countries, each song had some kind of performance to go along with it and they were amazing! Most of the performances were done by the third graders, but they also brought in a professional mariachi band, a Scottish dance group and then at the end they did a whole section on the United States and they brought in a nationally known group of gospel singers who sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic, God Bless the USA and God Bless America while the third graders played instruments and sang backup. I wsn't familiar with the group but they came in a tour bus with their name on the side and someone said they were selling CD's. The songs about the US ended the program and they ended it with confetti fireworks! Cutest thing ever!

It was quite a night. The Superintentent of Schools even came and sang a song! That school knows how to put on a production.

I'm such a mom, but school programs always make me teary! When it started all those third graders were up there with huge smiles on their face, so proud of all the hard work they had put into it and so excited to perform. I'm so darn proud of them that always have to take deep breaths to keep myself from bawling through the whole thing. Not to mention end of the school year programs always make me a little sad because it means that my kids are growing up and that ALWAYS makes me cry! Throw in a few well done patriotic songs, Josh standing up there looking so grown up and the fact that there was an absolutely adorable little Asian girl in the front row who kept making me think about Clarissa and it's amazing that I didn't sob through the whole show. I did manage not to though. I did good. :)

Afterwards we told Josh that he did so good that he could pick a place to go for dinner. He said that he just wanted ice cream. We're not in the habit of giving our kids ice cream for dinner, but what the heck, it was a special occasion. So we went to Dairy Queen and giggled on the way home that we were eating ice cream for dinner. The kids really thought they were getting away with something. I'll make something extra healthy today to make up for it. :)

Today I'm just going to be running around like a crazy person trying to get ready for our trip this weekend. I've got laundry to do, suitcases to pack, car trip entertainment supplies to track down and all sorts of odds and ends to tie up before we go. I love being on vacation but packing and unpacking is really no fun.

I'm taking my netbook with me so I can blog while we're gone, but I'm not sure if I will or not unless something newsworthy happens. If by some miracle we get our referral while we're gone I will blog immediately, but I'm not really counting on that happening. If you don't hear from me it just means that we're having fun and haven't gotten any exciting phone calls from the agency.

I still have God Bless the USA in my head. I really love that song.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 574 and counting

*SIGH* Are we there yet? Another day has passed with no referral.

Yesterday was a busy day around here. My mom and stepdad came to stay with us overnight so I spent the morning getting the house ready for guests and I spent the afternoon making Korean food for dinner! I made bulgogi, tak toritang and sticky rice. My mom and stepdad had never had Korean food before so I wanted to make sure it was extra good. And it WAS, if I do say so myself! :) We ate until we were stuffed. It's always fun to have my mom and stepdad come visit, but they don't usually stay very long. They're constantly on the go, they don't tend to stay in one place very long! This time we were a stop off on their way to Washington to pick up their new boat and then they're off to spend a few weeks on the river. Those two are always full of adventures. They got here in time for dinner last night and left after breakfast this morning. We had a good time.

Today there's not a whole lot going on except that we get to go to Josh's school program this evening! They've been practicing hard for it and Josh is really excited for us to see it. My kids are growing up too fast! I can't believe that another school year is just about over!

So that's pretty much all the news from my house today. Will the referral come today? Probably not. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Did I fix it?

I know that some people have been having problems viewing my blog. The format was messed up on some browsers apparently. I've tried to fix it in the past with no luck, but I messed around with it again today (I reloaded the entire original template and started over) and I HOPE that fixed it! If my blog looked weird to you before, is it fixed now? I hope so! :)

Monday, June 15, 2009


I had another dream last night that we got our referral. Every now and then I dream that we get our referral and they're always weird dreams where the baby they refer to us isn't what we expected. I dreamt once that they sent us a teenager, then they sent us two Hispanic siblings, and I've had a few other weird dreams.

Last night I dreamed that I picked up the phone and it was someone calling from Korea to tell me that they had our referral, but the woman had a really heavy Korean accent and I couldn't understand what she was saying. (In real life the call isn't going to come from Korea, it's coming from our agency in Seattle, and the woman who will call is not Korean!)

I kept asking her to repeat herself because I couldn't understand her and I finally understood that we were being refered an 18 month old. I kept saying "but none of the clothes I bought her will fit!" lol! That was my biggest concern apparently! Then suddenly all these Korean people from the agency were in the room with me and they were showing me her paperwork. She had some complicated story where she had been in an orphanage and then her parents took her back and then she was with a foster family or something. It was a complicated story that I didn't fully understand. I think she'd been in a war at one point?! There were all these people telling me things in heavy Korean accents and the whole thing was very overwhelming and confusing.

Oh! Plus the family requested that we give her a specific name. They gave us two choices. One of the names I can't remember but it was odd. The other name was Emily, which is what we had planned to name our baby before we decided on Clarissa. I kept telling them that they were both fine names, but we wanted to name her Clarissa!

Then I woke up. I immediately felt relieved that that wasn't our real referral because it was really complicated and weird and then I just felt sad that we didn't really get our referral yet. I hate weird dreams like that. I have a hard time shaking them off.

So here I am, back in real life with no referral yet and the wait continues. I'm struggling with it this week. Every week gets a little harder. It helps that I'm super busy this week but it's still in my head no matter what I do.

Today my mom and stepdad are coming to stay with us overnight which should be fun. I'm trying to decide if we should go out to dinner with them tonight or if I should make Korean food for them. Bulgogi and Tak Toritang sound really good to me today...

I'm also getting us ready for the little trip we're going to take this weekend, I'm getting a Koala costume ready for Josh to wear in a school program tomorrow night, I've got a bunch of stuff that has to be done for my church job before we leave town and I've pretty much got this week booked up. That's a good thing because I need to keep busy right now. The faster the time passes the better at the moment. Keeping busy keeps me from staring at the phone.

I've stoppped trying to even guess when the referral might be here. Things seem really slow at the agency right for some reason and there's no telling how long that might last. I'm hoping and praying that it's just temporary and things will pick up soon, but you never know how things are going to go.

On the Korean message board I visit it seems like all the agencies are slow right now for some reason. I'm trying not to get discouraged, but it's really hard. On Sunday we will reach the 19 month mark. That's going to be really hard for me. So I'm going to stay busy, enjoy our vacation and try to not to obsess over it too much. Clarissa is out there and I pray that she's able to join our family soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rainy Saturday

I didn't update yesterday when I got the Friday update, but there wasn't really anything to update. No referrals, nothing new. Bleh.

Today it's super rainy outside, which I love, so we're enjoying a nice day at home. I played a game with the boys for a while, Shawn cleaned out a storage room in the basement and then Shawn and I snuggled on the bed and watched a movie while the kids played.

We watched Juno, which I've seen before but Shawn hadn't. I really love that movie, but I don't know what I was thinking watching it today! Anything related to adoption makes me bawl my eyes out these days. That movie is really cute and sweet and kind of sad at the same time. It makes me think about what Clarissa's birth mother must be going through right now. Choosing to place a child for adoption must be a heartbreaking decision to make.

We had a nice afternoon though. I enjoy Saturdays like this.

The next few weeks are going to be full of craziness around here, which is probably a good thing. The boys only have a couple of weeks of school left and they have a whole bunch of projects they're working on and they both have end of the year school programs that we'll get to go to. So I have to come up with a panda costume for Josh, I have to help him make a gas station out of a shoe box for a class project and Matthew is practicing songs for his program that we've all been singing for days. I think I may never get those songs out of my head! We're also going to Portland next weekend for our anniversary/Fathers Day and the next weekend we're going to a cabin for the weekend with some friends.

I'm actually looking forward to all the craziness and I'm really looking forward to getting out of town for a few days. I have a feeling that the referral wait is going to continue for a little while longer and I just can't sit here and wait for it anymore. It's driving me crazy. I'll be taking my netbook out of town with me though, so if by some miracle we get the referral call while we're out of town, I'll post about it right away.

For now I'm going to go back to snuggling with my husband for a while. The kids are watching a movie and camping out in the basement tonight, so I think we'll have our own little date night upstairs. Sounds good to me!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo Friday

It's Friday again. I've developed a love/hate relationship with Friday these days. I'm always a little bummed when Friday comes along and I realize that another week has gone by with no referral. But on the other hand, that means we're one week closer, right?

Oh, and I wanted to clear up a misconception that I think some people have. Friday isn't the only day we can get a referral, it's just the day that the agency sends us an e-mail to let us know what has happened that week. We can get a referral any day of the week, it's just Fridays that they send out their mass e-mail to keep us up to date on what's new. It occured to me recently that I think some people were under the impression that referrals only happen on Friday, and I can see why that would be since Fridays have always been the day when I wait to hear if any referrals have come. I think I probably made it sound like all the referrals come on Friday. They don't, that's just when I hear about them. So a referral COULD come today, but it's no more likely than any other day of the week. I'll definitely update later today if there's anything exciting to report, but if there's nothing new I may not report on the Friday update right away.

Ok, so I didn't go back the the pet store to buy the kitten yesterday. I wanted to SO bad and I thought about it all day, but I managed to talk myself out of it. As much as I want another cat, this isn't the time for us to get another pet. The funny thing was that when I told Shawn I was thinking about getting another kitten I thought he would put his foot down and say absolutely not, but after I told him about it I think I totally could have talked him into it! He keeps saying that he doesn't want another pet because he doesn't like cleaning up after them (He's the litter box cleaner in this house), but we're all a bunch of softies around here when it comes to animals. I'm pretty sure that sooner or later another pet is going to make its way into our lives!

Someone commented yesterday that I should post photos of our two cats, so here are a few. I don't have any recent photos on my computer and I'm having camera issues at the moment, so I dug up a few old ones.

Here's Max as a kitten. If you look in my header at the top of this page, Max is actually in the picture with us. That's a newer picture of him, but it's one I cut out of a picture with other stuff in it, so it wasn't a good one to post.

Max is a sweet cat. For some reason he's decided that I'm his favorite person in the family and he follows me everywhere I go.

Max likes to go off into quiet corners to sleep during the day sometimes, like most cats do, and a few weeks ago I was looking for him one afternoon and couldn't find him anywhere. I looked in all his usual sleeping places and he was nowhere to be found.

Then I happened to walk past Matthews bedroom and peeked in and there was Max, sound asleep on Matthews bed. Which wouldn't be weird except that Matthew has a loft bed, which is basically the top half of a bunk bed and it's super high up! Way too high for Max to jump up there. I couldn't figure how in the world he got up there. When the kids got home from school I asked them if they had put him up there and they hadn't, so we decided to figure it out. Max wasn't on the bed anymore so the boys and I all climbed up onto Matthews bed and started calling for Max, who likes to be in the middle of whatever is going on. We were hoping that he would come up to sit by us and then we could see how he got there. Sure enough, a few minutes later Max came in to Matthews room, saw us on Matthews bed and climbed right up the ladder to get to us! He climbed the loft bed ladder like it was no big deal. I've never seen a cat do that before! That's been his preferred sleeping place ever since.

This is Daisy. Daisy was a stray barn kitten who go dropped off at a pet store and had never really gotten used to people. It took her a little bit to adapt to me and Shawn when we got her and twelve years later Shawn and I are the only two people she tolerates. She's sweet as pie to us. She snuggles with us and purrs loves to be petted, but she's not a fan of anyone else. She doesn't let other people pet her and when people come over she prefers to hide until they're gone. If people do get too close to her she's been known to hiss and growl. Cranky is probably a kind word for her temperment. :)

She tolerates the kids when she has to, she doesn't hiss or growl at them, but she's happy to be left alone. She spends most of her day sleeping in a corner somewhere.

She was so spunky when she was a kitten and she even used to play fetch with me and Shawn, but as she's gotten older she's lost that spunk. She has arthritis in her hips now, so running is a thing of the past and sleeping has become her favorite pasttime. She's getting old and I know that one of these days we're going to have to say goodbye to her, which will be hard. She's been a member of our family almost as long as we've BEEN a family.

And speaking of family, I have a couple of photos that I've been meaning to post for the past week or so. We had a photo shoot with my photography teacher a few weeks ago and here are a couple of the results. It occured to me as he was taking them that it's been a LOOONG time since we had anyone besides me take a family picture of us! I have a remote for my camera, so normally I just set us all up and do the photos myself, but that's a huge pain in the neck. It was so nice to let someone else do all the work! I'm happy with the results, but I can't wait to have more pictures taken later this year when our family is complete!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What happens next?

I got a question in my comments about what happens after we get our referral phone call and I was typing an answer in the comments and it got too long, so I thought I'd just make a post about it.

It's a good question that I don't know the exact answer to! When we get the referral phone call I'm guessing that she will just e-mail us the photo and info and then send us the hard copies later, but I'm not positive about that. Hopefully they give us the photo the same day! Or maybe they FedEx it next day or something? I don't know exactly.

What I do know is that she'll call us and tell us that we've been matched with a baby and then we have to look over the info and formally accept it before it's officially our baby. There is some paperwork that has to be signed and sent back before we can officially say that she's ours, which means that it might be a day or two after we get the referral call before I can show photos of her if I have them. I've been told by other people that they were asked to wait to share photos or info until they had send back their acceptance paperwork. I will definitely be posting as soon as I get the call, but I may not be able to share details for a few days.

Once we formally accept the referral we start a paper chase that will last about 3-4 months before we can bring her home. There is a bunch of legal paperwork that has to be done before we can go get her. She has to have a passport and a visa and all of that, and the US government has to give us the official OK to adopt a foreign child. It's a really complicated process that I don't fully understand yet.

It's hard to say how long the paperwork will take because it just depends on how fast the government wants to look at it and approve it. There are a bunch of steps we have to go through and at each step we have to wait for approval before we can move on to the next one. Some people fly through it all in a few months and some people get held up for one reason or another. I'm going to be hoping and praying harder than I ever have in my life that things will move along smoothly!!!

Once all the paperwork is done they'll call and tell us that we're free to go get her and then we'll make travel plans and hop on a plane ASAP! So if we get our referral in the next few weeks and it takes 3-4 months more before we can go get her, we should hopefully be traveling in September or October. That's actually a nice time of the year to visit Seoul.

I'll know more once we get the referral. I have a very basic understanding of how the paperwork works, but not enough to explain it. I'm just waiting for the agency to walk us through it all when the time comes!

OK, so now that I've explained that, here's what's going on here today. I had to go to the pet store this morning to buy cat food. Normally Shawn does the cat food buying because me going into a pet store is a dangerous thing. I tend to come out with pet. :) Harvey the hamster joined our family the last time I went to the pet store to buy cat food.

Before I start my story, I'll just say that NO, I didn't buy a pet today. But I almost did!! I went into Petsmart and right at the front of the store they had a whole bunch of kittens. I seriously can't look at a kitten without wanting to take it home with me. I'm such a sucker for baby animals, especially kittens!

When I was growing up we always had cats. I can't remember a time in my life where I didn't have a cat. Fortunately Shawn was the same way growing up, so when we got married one of the first things we did was buy a cat. Our very first Christmas together we were super broke and couldn't afford presents so we decided that our present to each other would be a kitten. We bought a little grey kitten for $5 a few days before Christmas and named her Daisy. That cat was like our baby for the first few years of our marriage. Twelve years later she's still around. Now she's old and fat and fairly cranky, lol.

Not long after we started the adoption process in 2007 I was having a hard time with how long the wait was going to be and I came across an ad for a cat rescue center in our town and they were looking for people to adopt stay cats. I think the word "adopt" must have caught my eye and the next thing we knew we were in the car on the way to adopt a kitten. As soon as we walked into the room full of cats a little orange kitten ran right up to us like he had been waiting for us. I picked him up and he started purring and an hour later Max was on his way home with us.

Two cats is really enough for us. I don't realistically want a house full of cats. But still, every time I see a cat in need of a home I can't help myself, I want to take it home!!

So today I held the little silver and black kitten at Petsmart who purred and snuggled with me and I tried to remember why it was that I don't want a house full of cats. Surely one more wouldn't hurt, right??

I did eventually come to my senses and remind myself that the last thing we need right now is another pet and I put it down, but it wasn't easy! It's taking all the willpower I have no to run back over there and buy it.

I don't need another cat, I don't need another cat...
Darn, I still want another cat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Laughing Cows and Plutonium

OK, so I'm apparently not psychic because June 9th has come and gone with no referral. :( I was pretty mopey about it yesterday. Some day are just harder than others.

So today I decided to pull myself together and get out of the house for a few hours. Matthew and I wandered through Kohls for a while (where they're having a BOGO sale today in case you're interested!) and then we went to the grocery store.

I was in the mood for something different for lunch today and nothing really sounded good until I walked past the Laughing Cow cheese. I had never tried those little Laughing Cow swiss wedges before, but I love cheese and it sounded good so I bought some.

I brought it home, ate a little wedge with some Wheat Thins and now I'm totally hooked! YUM! Why have I never tried this stuff before??!

So then I decided to blog about how much I love Laughing Cow cheese (because sadly that's the most exciting thing going on in my life today), and while I was searching for a photo of it to add to my story, I came across a recipe for chicken cordon bleu with laughing cow cheese that sounds really good! This sounds SO good that I might be making it for dinner tonight. YUM.

Here's the recipe:


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded thin to 1/4 inch
1/8 cup seasoned bread crumbs
seasoning salt
cooking spray
4 pieces Laughing Cow cheese
4 pieces lean ham (or prosciutto)


1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Spray 13x9 with cooking spray.
3. Place one piece of cheese and one piece of ham in each chicken breast and roll jellyroll style.
4. Secure with toothpicks and coat with bread crumbs.
5. Place seam side down in pan.
6. Sprinkle with seasoning salt.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until done.

That sounds really yummy to me!

So in half an hour Matthew will be getting on the school bus and then my long afternoon begins. I haven't decided what I'm going to do today.

Let's see, I could put on the shirt I bought at Kohls this morning and have a fashion show in the bathroom. I could see how much Laughing Cow cheese I can eat in one afternoon. I could try to get bitten by a radioactive animal that will give me a super power that will allow me to force the phone to ring with a call from the agency. I could attempt to built a time machine out of an old Delorean and some stolen plutonium (or a lighting bolt from a clock tower, you choose) and drive myself a month or so into the future and see if there is a referral yet.

Or I could do what I normally do in the afternoons and do a little reading, have a little computer time (I'm embarassingly addicted to Plants vs. Zombies. If you haven't played that game, you should), think about what we're having for dinner and wait for the phone to ring.

Hmmm...I'm seriously considering that Delorean and plutonium idea.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Today is June 9th, the day I randomly picked in my blog contest as the day I think that the referral will be here. Will today be the day? Who knows. Lately it feels like the wait is just going to keep going forever and I'm kind of struggling with it lately. I'm trying my hardest to stay busy and stay positive, but every day it gets a little bit harder.

This week I don't have any big projects that I'm working on. I'm trying to come up with one so that my project doesn't become pacing in front of the phone, but so far I haven't had any brilliant ideas. I've made a million hair bows, I've read a stack of books, I've done some projects for Clarissas care package and now I'm kind of tired of my quest to stay busy. I've still got a few more weeks of long afternoons to fill until the kids are out of school for the summer. I'm looking forward to them being out, a little chaos in my day sounds awesome right now!

So I continue to wait. I read through my blog the other day and realized that it's incredibly boring lately. I want this blog to be an honest look about what it's like to adopt a baby from Korea, and right now I guess the honest truth is that it's really boring! It's just day after day of waiting for the phone to ring and trying to stay busy so it doesn't drive me crazy. It's like those last few days of being pregnant when all you can do is sit there and wait for the contractions to start, only I've been waiting for the contractions to start for a few months now and no one has given me a due date.

So maybe today is the day. Maybe I've suddenly become psychic and I picked June 9th in the blog contest for a reason. Probably not, but I guess you never know! You'll have to stay tuned to find out!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Nothing new

I never got around to posting the Friday update, but there really wasn't much to report. No referrals and nothing new.

So the wait continues. Maybe this will be our week.

There hasn't been a whole lot going on around here this weekend, except that I'm working on the picture book for Clarissa that I talked about earlier. When I first got the idea for the project I had absolutely no idea how I was actually going to accomplish it. I knew that I wanted it to be a board book so that the pages will be sturdy and he foster mother wouldn't have to worry about her ripping the pages or anything, but I couldn't find a company that prints custom board books.

So then I decided to try to make one myself, but I couldn't figure out the best way to do it. I bought a blank board book at the scapbook store, and they had SUPER cute examples of how to make a little scapbook, but they were totally impractical to give to a baby. I don't want bows or embellishments on it or anything that could come off, and if she chewed on a book covered in scrapbook paper it would ruin it.

It had to be sturdy and it had to be drool/chew resistant. That was a challenge.

So to make a very long story short, after trying a billion different ideas I finally came up with one that is working perfectly. I bought full sheet clear printer labels and printed the photos on that and then laminated the front of each sheet. Then I cut it to the right size, peeled the back off and stuck it on each page like one big sticker.

It really looks great! With each page being laminated it's not going to hurt anything if she drools or chews on it. It almost looks like I bought the book at a store.

I'm not done with the whole thing yet, but I'll take photos as soon as I finish. It's really been a fun project that I've enjoyed working on, but it took me the entire day yesterday! I started working on it before noon and it wasn't until about 6:00 last night that I finally figured out the laminated printer label idea and actually got a few pictures in the book. Oh, and it didn't help that I have a Photoshop crisis in the middle of it and I had to reinstall it. That took up a fair amount of time.

I'll work on it some more today and hopefully get it done by this evening. I'm going to be happy when it's all done!

So stay tuned for photos of the book and for the continuing saga of the referral wait. Maybe this will be our week!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I sucessfully made it through Wednesday, now lets see if I can make it through Thursday!

Yesterday I finished reading This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood. It was a really eye opening book. I can't say that I enjoyed reading it, because it was a book about how much the North Korean people are suffering, but I'm glad I read it because I think it's something that people need to be aware of. It was very interesting and very well written. But it was also very graphic in some parts, which was hard for me to read.

The things that the North Korean people are enduring, thanks to their leader who has an ego larger than the entire Asian continent, are heartbreaking. What it left me with is a hope that somehow Korea can be reunified and the border can be opened so that the North Koreans can become free.

The most heartbreaking part of the book for me was when the boy in the book finally reached South Korea and realized that everything he had been taught growing up was a big fat lie. North Koreans are told that Kim Il-Sung (the first North Korean leader) fought the Japanese army and cleared them out of Korea and that's how North Korea became its own country. He's hailed as a big hero for fighting off the Japanese and reclaiming Korea. In reality Japan was forced to hand over Korea at the end of WWII after the bombing of Hiroshima. It had nothing to do with Kim Il-sung. They're also told that South Korea started the Korean war and that the North Koreans were victorious because they were able to fight them off. In reality, we all know that Kim Il-sung himself was the one who started the war and tried to take over South Korea and was unsuccessful.

They were also told that South Korea was a horrible place where the government had collapsed and people were living in poverty with no food and no jobs. When the family in the book escaped from North Korea into China they initally didn't want to go to South Korea because as far as they believed it was a horrible place to live and they believed that everyone there was starving to death (which in the mid 90's, when this book takes place, was what was happening in North Korea and was what they were trying to escape). They couldn't stay in China though, or they risked being caught and sent back to North Korea to be "repatriated" (which sounds lovely, except that it means that they were probably just going to be executed). When they eventually did make it to South Korea what they found was a very prosperous country where people are educated, well fed and happy. They had no idea that in other countries people actually had plenty of food to eat and that people were quite happy running their own lives without the government telling them every move to make.

I can't imagine how betrayed they must have felt. North Koreans are essentially made to worship Kim Il-sung and his son, who is the current leader, and they are the very people who have been making their lives miserable all these years. That's heartbreaking to me. I watched a short documentary last night about North Korean refugees that was really interesting. More and more people are trying to escape from North Korea (to the frustration of China, who doesn't want them). I think more people are starting to realize that being completely controlled by the government is no way to live. I hope that at some point in the future there will be one free Korea where people aren't forced to live under the rulers thumb.

When we're in Korea we'll have the opportunity to visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) which is a strip of land that is kind of a buffer zone between North and South Korea. You can't really escape North Korea into South Korea very easily because of the DMZ. It's patrolled by the South Korean army and by the US army. It sounds like an interesting place to visit though and something I'm especially interested in touring while we're in Korea. There are observation points where you can stop and look into North Korea with binaculars from the South Korean side. That's something you don't get to see everyday.

Today I'm starting book two of my three book quest to learn more about North Korea. I'm trying to read all three of them by the end of the week and today is Thurday, so I'd better hurry up!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Library

I managed to get through Tuesday with no referral, so today I'm working on getting through Wednesday.

Yesterday I said that I was going to start a few books on life in North Korea. I started one and as I started reading it I kept having more questions about the origins of North and South Korea and how that all worked, and I wanted more information about what went on when Korea belonged to Japan. So I kept putting the book down and getting back on my laptop to look up information and I didn't end up getting very far in my book. But I did learn a lot and I realized that Asian History is a really interesting topic, specifically the history of Japan, Korea and China. They're really fascinating places to read about and I've enjoyed learning more.

So in my research yesterday I decided that there was another book about North Korea that I wanted to read before the two I had already picked out. It's called This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood by Hyok Kang. It's the story of a boy who was born in North Korea and lived there until he was a teenager and his family was finally able to escape to China and eventually to South Korea. It's heartbreaking and graphic in parts, but it's a really interesting look at North Korea.

The problem is that I couldn't get the book on Amazon Kindle, where I get most of my books these days, so it was time for a trip to the library. Yay!

When I was little the library was my absolute favorite place in the world. On Saturdays my mom would drive us all there and I would come home with a huge stack of books which I would plow through as fast as I could so that we could go back to the library the next weekend and repeat the process. For someone who loves to read as much as I do, a whole building full of books is pretty much the most exciting place ever. At one point my punishment for misbehaving was not getting to go to the library. Pure torture.

I don't live in my hometown anymore, so I almost never get to go to that library anymore, but every now and then when we're back in town visiting I find a reason to go and it's a funny feeling walking into that library again. It instantly makes me feel like I'm 10 years old again. It still smells the same and that smell has such strong memories attached to it for me. I love it there.

We have plenty of libraries in our town now that I enjoy but for some reason in the past few years we haven't gone very much. When my kids were really little we used to go every week for story time, sometimes twice a week, and we would sit and read books and have a great time. But as they've gotten older and started school, they go to the school library once a week and pick out books there, so every time we go to the public library they get books that never get read because they're already reading books from school.

Plus this house is already FULL of books! It's obscene how many books we own. I've been collecting books since I was a kid. One of the reasons I initially fell in love with this house is because it has huge built in bookshelves on the main floor and upstairs. You can't own too many books or too many bookshelves! I've usually got a stack of books to read that I've picked up at a book sale, or these days it's so easy for me to read them with my ipod Kindle application that I just haven't been the to library as much as I should.

So yesterday I decided that it was time for a trip to the library. It's been too long since we'd been there. It's a funny thing about me and the library. I have this instant reaction to being inside one. I just want to grab every book in sight and read them all at once. The second I walked in the door last night and looked at all the books I wondered why in the world I hadn't been coming there more often! I forgot how much I absolutely adore the library. So I spent a long time last night wandering around, looking at all the books and reminding myself why the library is my favorite place to go. I can't believe we haven't been going more often.

Anway, I got the book I was looking for and I started reading it last night. If you are interested in reading a book about what life is like in North Korea, This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood is the one to read. I'm not quite halfway through it yet, but I should get it finished today. Matthew has a friend over this morning and they're happily playing, which is good news for me because it gives me more time to read!

So that should keep me busy enough to keep my mind off the impending referral today. One way or another I'm going to make it through these last few weeks. Today is one more day closer!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


These days I kind of feel like I'm getting through life one day at a time. I survived Monday with no referral, lets see if I can make it through Tuesday!

Yesterday was actually a pretty decent day. I was busy all morning and in the afternoon I had a meeting and came home to a message on my answering machine letting me know that Josh won the no cavity club prize at the dentist. Every time they go in for their checkups they get to be in the no cavity club that month if they don't have any cavities. At the end of each month they draw a name and the winner gets a prize. So yesterday afternoon I took Josh over to the dentist's office to pick out his prize. He got a little Lego set. Way to go Josh!

Then when we got home we decided that we wanted to go out to dinner somewhere for a family night, so we decided to try a new restaurant we heard about. Oh. My. Goodness. We went to a place called Tucanos. It's a Brazillian barbecue restaurant. They have a HUGE salad bar and then they have people who walk around the restaurant with gigantic rotisserie skewers of all different kinds of meat and they come to your table and carve off whatever you want. They had filet mignon and prime rib and bacon wrapped turkey and ham and chicken wings and grilled pineapple and a ton of other stuff. We all went home with very happy (and very full) tummies.

Today it's dark and rainy outside. I absolutely love rainy days, so I was happy to peek out the window this morning and see a storm brewing. There's just something I love about rain and thunderstorms. It makes me want to curl up and read a book.

Which brings me to my next topic! I'm reading another book today and this time it's something that might actually expand my brain a little more than Tori Spelling and Maureen McCormick did last week.

Last week I learned about what it's like to be a child star in Hollywood, and this week I've decided to research what it's like to live in North Korea. With North Korea being in the news so much lately, and knowing that we're going to be so close to it later this year, I'm starting to get curious about what exactly goes on there. I want to understand what it's like to live in a country like that, where every move you make is controlled by the government. The little I know about the country fascinates me and I want to know more.

So today I'm starting one of two books. The first one is The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea and the second one is The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag. I still haven't decided which one I'm reading first, but as soon as I finish one I'll start the other one. They're both memoirs of people who spent many years in North Korea and managed to escape.

It's actually weird for me to think of how CLOSE we're actually going to be to the capitol of North Korea, where they're sitting there with their bombs. North and South Korea are tiny countries and their capitols really aren't very far apart. I'm a little nervous at the thought of being in South Korea, the object of their hatred, while they're threatening to blow things up. More than that, I'm a little worried about Clarissa being there. I just want to get her here where I'm much more confident that no one is going to attempt to blow us up.

So today I'll learn a little bit about life in North Korea. I'm guessing those books will take me a few days to read, so that should kill a few more afternoons. I'm determined to keep myself busy and keep my mind occupied until the referral gets here. The more time I spend with my nose in a book learning about something, the less time I have to obsess over the referral and the less time I have to throw myself a pity party. Every day is one day closer to Clarissa.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Well here we are again, another Monday. Will this be the week? Something tells me probably not. After the conversation I had with the agency on Friday I've had to lower my expectations a bit. There's still someone in front of us, so the next girl referral most likely won't be ours, plus there hasn't been a girl referral at all for several weeks. The woman at our agency said that she called the Korean agency and asked them what was up with all the boys and they said that they just aren't seeing as many girl referrals lately.

Historically, Koreans don't have a positive view of adoption at all. It's shameful in their country to adopt a child or to be adopted. That's why so many Korean children are adopted overseas. Koreans just don't adopt. But in recent years the government has tried really hard to change that, and they've been working to change peoples view on adoption. As a result, in the past couple of years adoption has become a lot more accepted in Korea and more Koreans are adopting-but they're only adopting girls. It's a bloodline issue, it's sort of complicated.

So there are less babies available for international adoptions and the ones that are being send overseas are mostly boys. Some agencies won't let you choose gender at all. Our agency will let you choose a girl only if you currently have sons and no daughter. So not everyone gets to choose. Most people just get what they get, and the few people who are allowed to choose girl referrals sometimes get stuck at the top of the list.

That's where we're at now. Stuck at the top of the list. Along with one other family who has been stuck a few months longer than we have. Our agency continues to get referrals regularly, but they're all for boys, so we just sit at the top of the list and get skipped. It's entirely possible that tomorrow there are going to be two girl referrals and we'll both get our calls. It could happen. Will it? Probably not, but at this point it's impossible to say.

Remember earlier this year when they went three months with no referrals at all and then suddenly they got three in one week? You just never know what's going to happen. They could go two months with no girl referrals and then suddenly get two or three at once. Or they could trickle in slowly, one at a time and make us all crazy waiting. At the moment that seems to be the case.

So we wait. I could happen tomorrow or it could happen in a month. I have no idea. When I consider the possibility of it not happening until July I get a little sick to my stomach, so I try not to think about it too much. At this point I'm being cautiously optimistic. I'm not sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring like I was, but I'm not losing hope that it's going to happen soon. It's still possible.

Today I have things to keep me busy, which is good. I have a whole bunch of stuff to do this morning for my church job and this afternoon I have a meeting that will take a few hours. By the time I'm all done with that the kids will be coming home and it will be time to start thinking about dinner. The trick is to just keep busy.

So I'll stay busy and I'll keep waiting. Clarissa is out there somewhere and when the time is right we're going to finally get to see her. In the meantime I'm going to do my best not to let the waiting drive me crazy!