Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm a world traveler!

Today I am the proud owner of my very own passport! :) Is it weird that I'm 34 years old and this is the first time I've ever had a passport?! I've never left the country before so I never had a reason to get one.

But now that we're actually planning to leave the country it was time for me to go apply for one and it just came in the mail. AND I'm pretty sure that I could win a contest for the worst passport photo in America. Seriously. I was going to take my own photo but at the last minute I decided that the one I chose might not fit their requirements so I decided to just let them take one instead to be on the safe side. Yeah, I should have used my own.

But I don't care because I have a passport and that means we're one step closer to getting on that plane and going to Korea to meet our daughter! :) YAY!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Woohoo, I'm Korean!! :)

I chatted with my Korean friend tonight and she gave me a Korean name. From here on out I will officially be known as Soo-Yun. :) Lol! I love my Korean friend. She and her son had a ball coming up with Korean names for me and the boys. Josh and Matthew are now Hun-Soo and Hun-Woo. How cute is that? :)

I also learned how to yell at my kids to clean their rooms, brush their teeth and take a shower just like a real Korean mom. We giggled over that for a while!

Have I mentioned that I LOVE my Korean friend?!

Ok, so that was story #1. Here's story #2:

This is what I found hanging on my bedroom door today:


Apparently Matthew is working on a science presentation for us. :) I love that kid. Unfortunately we weren't able to do it tonight, so tomorrow night we will attend Matthew's special presentation in the basement at 8pm.

My very own Korean name and an invitation to the most exclusive event ever held in our basement?! I'd say it was a pretty sucessful day. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Woohoo!

I just got word from the agency that our legals have been sent and are due to arrive tomorrow!! YAY!!

That means that the I600 wait is about to begin! The I600 is what we were just fingerprinted for this morning. I think I've probably explained the I600 form before, but basically it's a form asking the government permission for us to adopt Clarissa. They have to give their OK before we can start her immigration paperwork.

So what they'll do is look over our homestudy, do a background check on us, look over Clarissa's paperwork and make sure that it looks like everything is being handled correctly and then they can put their big stamp of approval on it! (Ok, so I don't know if it involves an actual stamp. :))

The average wait for that to happen is generally about a month or so. I've seen it happen faster and I've seen it happen muuuuch slower. Every USCIS office does things their own way, so I'm hoping and praying that we'll get lucky and that ours is quick and cooperative. Most of the time it's fine but I've heard a few nightmare stories about I600 forms in other states and I REALLY don't want to be one of those stories! I've never met anyone who has filed an I600 form in Idaho, so I don't know how it generally goes here. We DID file the I600A form last year though and that was fairly quick and painless, so hopefully the I600 form will go just as smoothly.

Anyway, what this all means is that we're finally moving! Every time we get to another step in the paperwork process it means we're one step closer to Clarissa! :) YAY!

Another piece of the puzzle

Last week I contacted the agency and requested the name of the hospital that Clarissa was born in and they just got back to me with the name. That little piece of information certainly isn't life changing, but every little nugget of information I get about my daughter is so important to me. I now know exactly where my daughter was born. It's a real place with a name now, instead of just a generic hospital I imagined in my mind. The agency said that we're more than welcome to visit it, so I really think we're going to try to cram it in the trip. It's important to me.

In other news, this morning Shawn and I went over to the USCIS office to be refingerprinted for our I600. We had to be fingerprinted by the federal government when we first started the adoption process so that they could approve our I600A form. That was approved ages ago but now we're about to file the I600 form and it's been so long since we were fingerprinted for the I600A that our fingerprints have expired. Of course. Pretty much everything we did when we first applied to adopt has expired and at one point or another has had to be updated or redone.

One of the very first blog entries I ever made to this blog last year was about our trip to the USCIS office to submit our I600A form and be fingerprinted. It was a rather bizzarre experience, so I wrote a big long post about it, but then I decided that it was too sarcastic and didn't come across funny like I intended it to, so I amended it.

But basically our last trip to the USCIS office was not our favorite part of the process! It involved a scary security guard, te grumpiest government worker you've ever seen in your life and an odd lack of pens. He gave me a form to fill out and then yelled at me when I asked to borrow a pen to fill it out with. He made me wait until Shawn was done with his form and then use his pen. It's veeery serious business down at the USCIS office. We've been laughing about that experience for the past year.

So then when we realized that our fingerprints were expiring and we were going to have to go down there again, we weren't exactly looking foward to it! But our appointment was this morning, so we sucked it up and went.

To our surprise it was MUCH easier this time. We didn't have to go to the window and talk to Cranky Government Worker Who Won't Share His Pens. All we had to do was go into the fingerprint office and the very nice people there got us taken care of really quickly. It's all smiles in the fingerprint office. They couldn't have been nicer to us.

So now we have to wait for them to run a background check on us with our newly updated fingerprints and then we'll be ready for our agency to submit our I600 form as soon as our our legals arrive from Korea, which as far as I know still hasn't happened.

Last night I chatted with my Korean friend for a bit. Right now I'm working on Hangul, which is the Korean writing system. Learning to read Hangul is actually really fun, but a little tricky. It takes practice.

But we had a good time last night. We got out notebooks to write the letters on and then held them up to the webcam so that she could teach me and make sure that I was doing it correctly. I learned how to write the names of everyone in our family! It was fun! We also had a humerous time while she was teaching me the sounds of the Hangul characters. We were ooooh'ing and ahhh'ing at each other through the webcam. It must have looked really funny, lol. I'm so excited to meet her in person! We've become great friends.

So that's all I have to report today. There's nothing new in adoption news except that our fingerprints are done. The wait continues!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sorry: The Next Generation

I know that this makes two posts in a day, but I have a story to tell.

Growing up, one of my very favorite memories is of playing board games with my dad. My dad LOVED board games and we had a closet full of them. Every holiday and many Sunday afternoons the whole family would gather around the table, my mom would make yummy snacks and we'd play board games for hours.

Now that my dad has passed away, whenever I think of him I think of him sitting at the table playing board games. For a lot of years after he died, holidays were really hard for me because I so badly wanted to just go home, sit back down at the kitchen table and play board games with my dad. Holidays just didn't feel right without it.

A few years after my dad died, my mom got remarried, sold the house I grew up in and I felt like a lot of the reminders of my dad that were so special to me were gone. I couldn't sit in his favorite chair anymore, I couldn't sit in his spot at the kitchen table and play games on Sunday afternoon.

So one thing I rescued when my mom sold the house is our old Sorry board game. You know that game, I think everyone has played it. Our Sorry game is really old, I have no idea how long we've had it, but I remember it for most of my growing up years, so I'm guessing we bought it sometime in the 80's. I have fun memories of playing Sorry with my dad when I was young and I've hung on to that game for years.

The box is falling apart, the cards are yellowing a bit and one of the red pieces lost it's head many years ago, but that game is one of my most treasured possessions. It's a box full of home to me.

Once Josh started getting old enough we carried on the tradition of playing board games on holidays and when Josh was about six I pulled out the Sorry box and taught him to play. We've had a lot of fun times playing Sorry on holidays with him.

But for some reason it's been a while since we've played it. We've played games, just not that one.

So today the kids were running through the house, playing happily together and watching them have fun together reminded me of playing with my siblings growing up and that reminded me of Sorry. Matthew is five and the last time we played Sorry he wasn't really old enough to play, so I've never taught him.

So today I decided that it was a good day to get out the Sorry game and let Josh help me teach Matthew how to play. We got out the box, I gave the kids my five minute lecture on how special and important that game is to me and that if anyone loses the cards, breaks the pieces or tears the box, mommy is not going to happy, and we started playing.

Sorry is a pretty easy game to learn and Matthew picked it up quickly. We played it and giggled and had a good time.

At one point while we were playing I just had this moment where I looked at my kids, giggling and playing the game from my childhood and I felt my dad so strongly. I think somewhere my Dad is looking down on us and smiling. I'm sure he's happy to know that the great family tradition that he started is still going strong and making great memories for another generation of kids.

After a while I decided to leave the game to the kids and I came upstairs to get some things done, but the kids are still downstairs playing Sorry. Every few minutes I hear one of them laugh or yell "sorry!!" and it makes me smile. It sounds like home.

Guess who I'm going to talk about today?

My Korean friend! Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Korean friend? :)

We've been webcam chatting almost daily, she's teaching me all sorts of things, and lately she's been helping me plan our Korea trip. She wants to spend some time with us in Korea, which I think will be SO fun and she also invited us to her house for dinner! She's going to make us Bulgogi!! YAY! :) I think we're going to have such an amazing trip.

I talked to her about my idea of going to Clarissa's birth city and her husband was actually raised in that town, so she's very familiar with it. Then she found out for me that there is a branch office of our adoption agency in that city and that they'll send someone to help us if we want to visit the hospital. It would be a long trip, but I think it would really be worth it.

Getting to talk to her everyday is making the wait so much easier for me. Talking to her about all the fun things we can do when we get to Korea is making me SO excited for the trip! I love that we're going to have someone we know there if we need help getting around or if we have questions. I'm really looking forward to this trip!

So that's all the news I have around here today! There's not much else happening these days. We still don't have our legals, so nothing is moving on the adoption at the moment, and mostly we're just hanging out enjoying the last few weeks of the kids summer vacation before they start school around the middle of August. Time is flying by this summer!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thinking out loud

Here's what's on my mind today.

I'm thinking about whether it's possible to visit the town and the hospital that Clarissa was born in while we're in Korea. Clarissa was born on the complete opposite side of the country from Seoul. All babies in the whole country who are placed for internatial adoption come to Seoul while they wait for their families, but they can be born anywhere. Our daughter was born in a city on the coast of Korea.

Korea isn't a very big country. About the same size as a small US state I would guess. I sometimes forget that because I'm used to living in such a big country. When I realized that it was on the other side of the country I immediately thought that it was too far to travel. Then I had to remind myself that the other side of the country is maybe five or six hours by car and much quicker by train. I looked it up and I think it would be about a three hour train ride.

So in theory we could get on a train first thing in the morning, be there by lunch time, spend the afternoon exploring and then get back on the train and be back to Seoul that night.

How amazing would it be to take a train ride across Korea?! You know me, I'm completely obsessed with Korea and everything related to it, so the opportunity to travel across the whole country sounds pretty cool to me! I'm interested in seeing what it's like outside of Seoul.

There are some people from my Korean adoption message board who have been lucky enough to speak to the doctor or nurse that was there the night their baby was born and a lucky few who even managed to track down the hand and footprints taken at birth. Those would be extremely special treasures to us.

Even if we could do nothing but see the hospital and take a picture of it, it would be one more piece of the puzzle that we could solve for Clarissa later in her life when she wonders about Korea and where she came from. To walk where her birth mother walked and experience the place where Clarissa's life began is something that would be really special to me.

Clarissa's first foster parents are also in that city. She lived there for two months before she was transferred to Seoul. Wouldn't it be great to have a meeting with them? Or the social worker that facilitated it? She would know Clarissa's birth mother.

When you have a biological child you take for granted that you get things like an ultrasound photo, a hospital bracelet, fingerprints and footprints and all those special little momentos that we all keep. I kept everything from my kids first few days of life. But with Clarissa we get so little. We get a paragraph here, a document there....every little piece of info we get is such a treasure to us. I feel like piecing together her first few days or weeks of her life is something that I need to do for her if I can. Someday those photos or those stories might be really important to her.

I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of exactly how we'd actually go about that though. The city she was born in is large. We'd have to figure out how to find the hospital, how to get around, and all of that. I suppose we could just get the address and have a cab take us there, but then what?

I'm going to check with our agency and see if they can set something up for us. It's something I'm really going to push for if I can. It would be one exhausting day out of an already busy and exhausting trip, but honestly, I think I'd fly to the moon if I thought I could uncover one more nugget of information about our daughter there.

So that's what's on my mind today. My body is in Idaho and my brain is in a hospital on the coast of Korea. It's been on my mind pretty heavily today.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Strawberries everywhere!! :)

So you probably notice that things have changed around here! :)

Here's why.

In the five month photo of Clarissa that we got a few weeks ago she was wearing a little strawberry outfit. She's the cutest strawberry I've ever seen! I've been starting at that photo constantly since we got it and it always makes me smile.

Today I was online looking for something and I randomly came across something strawberry related and as soon as I saw it it reminded me of Clarissa and it made me smile.

So now I'm giving my life a strawberry theme, lol. It makes me think of Clarissa and that makes me happy.

In honor of my new strawberry theme I want SO badly to post a photo of Clarissa in her strawberry outfit! It's driving me crazy that I can't share her with everyone.

So I'm going to be a rebel and post the photo...with her face blacked out. :) I don't think I can get in trouble for that since you wouldn't be able to identify her by the photo. Even so I may only leave it up for a few days and then take it down. There's also a tiny photo of her in my blog header now, but I blurred her face.

Here she is, my sweet strawberry...


(the whited out area on the chair is where her name and identification number was written. I whited it out for obvious reasons.)

Friday

You know, I still get a little thrill every Friday when I think about the Friday update from the agency and I realize that I don't have to worry about it anymore. :) How many Fridays did I come here and obsess over the update? I should count them.

This Friday not a whole lot is going on. Still nothing new in adoption news, although we did get something in the mail from the agency today. It's kind of funny really, but apparently pretty much every single piece of paper that goes between our American agency and the Korean agency that concerns our daughter has to be shown to us, apparently even if it's nothing we really need to see.

A few weeks ago we asked the US agency to contact the Korean agency and ask them to do the medical test on Clarissa that we were concerned about. Today we got a piece of paper in the mail from the agency that was pretty much just a copy of the fax that the agency sent to Korea asking for the medical test and confirmation that Korea received it. It doesn't say anything about when they're going to do the test or any of that, it's basically just proof that they received it. We have to sign the copy of the fax and mail it back to the agency confirming that we've seen it. It's nice that they're so careful about keeping us informed on every single thing that is happening, but I always get super excited when mail shows up from the agency these days and sometimes its nothing to get excited about, lol. They're thorough though, and that's good. I appreciate how well they keep us updated.

So at this point we're still just waiting for legals. From what I've seen from other people's timelines it seems like it usually takes 3-4 weeks and we're at about 4 weeks now. Hopefully they'll come next week and then we can get moving on the next step in the process.

I'm doing pretty OK with the wait so far. I wish things would hurry up, but I'm doing better than I was before we got the referral, so I consider that pretty good! We got Clarissa's care package mailed off and I'm excited for her to get it. I know we're super cheesy, but we all kissed the package before we mailed it so that our kisses will go to Korea for Clarissa. Yeah, we're cheesy that way. :) It was really fun to be able to pick things out for her and I'm so excited at the thought of her receiving them and actually getting to wear the clothes I picked out, wear the hair clips I made, sleep with the special blanket I picked out for her and look at photos of us. We probably won't get back the clothes we sent her since they won't fit by the time we go pick her up, but I really hope that her foster mother takes photos of her wearing them.

There's not a whole lot going on around our house these days. Usually our summer is filled with a lot more adventure and excitement but with all the adoption preparation going on right now we're keeping things kind of low key these days. The past month has been so incredibly crazy around here that we decided that we didn't need any more craziness in our lives for a while, lol.

So I've kept busy working on some projects at home, working on my Korean, hanging out with the kids and trying not to melt in the heat! It's been 100 degrees here this week! When it was too hot to go outside a couple of days ago the kids and I decided to have a Harry Potter movie marathon in preparation to go see the new movie. Yesterday afternoon we finished our marathon and Shawn took the afternoon of work and we took the boys to The Half Blood Prince. We're big Harry Potter fans, so we really enjoyed it! I already can't wait for the next movie to come out!

So that's pretty much all the news I have to share today. I wish my blog were more exciting, but right now I'm OK with the lack of excitement. Our lives are going to change drastically in the coming months, so for now I'm kind of basking in the calm before the storm. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A kids life

So I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Josh is quite the little film maker. For the past year or two Josh has been obsessed with making movies. He says he wants to be a movie producer when he grows up. He makes all sorts of really funny little movies for us. Sometimes he and Matthew act in them, sometimes they're all computer animated and sometimes he uses Legos and other things around the house as props. He's amazingly creative, it's always fun to see what he comes up with, and he does a great job putting them together in Windows Movie Maker.

He made this one yesterday and it make me laugh so I thought I'd share it. It's super short, he calls it "A Kids Life". It might make more sense if you had him standing over your shoulder narrating it like he always does for me, but there's not a whole lot of story line, so I think you'll be fine, lol.


Enjoy. :)


video

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Family

I just got an e-mail from one of my cousins with photos of a family reunion that was held last week. Because of all the other stuff we have going on these days we weren't able to make the trip to go to it this year, so I really enjoyed getting to see the photos.

My mom has six brothers and sisters and I have over 40 cousins on that side of the family. Growing up almost all of my moms brothers and sisters lived within a few hours from each other, so we got together a lot for reunions, holidays and other fun events. Some of the very best memories I have of my life are of those family events. I absolutely adore my aunts and uncles and having 40 cousins running around to play with was a ball. I remember being young and eating ice cream cones on my grandparents front lawn with all the cousins. They had a tire swing in their big tree that we loved to play on. Those were the best days of my childhood.

So because I'm ridiculously over-emotional lately I was looking at the family reunion photos today and they made me a little (OK, a LOT) teary! First of all, because it made me sad that I missed the reunion and second of all because looking at those photos just reminded me how much I love all those people. Seeing photos of all my aunts and uncles and cousins brings me back to being a kid and how much I loved spending time with my extended family.

My grandparents are getting older now (my grandpa turned 91 this year!) and all the cousins have grown up, gotten married and moved away from home, so it's harder to get everyone together for family events these days. But when we do it's kind of fun to go and see all of our kids play together. A new generation of family. My grandparents have over 50 great grandkids now and our family continues to grow. At the last family party we counted and we realized that between my grandparents children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, there are now over 100 people our family! That's quite a big party if we all get together!

So anyway, I guess this post doesn't have much of a point except for me to say how much I love and appreciate all of my extended family. Seeing photos of them today made me smile and reminded me how much I love all 100 of those people. I'm grateful to have such fantastic grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Thinking about them makes me smile. I regret that we didn't go to the reunion this year and I'm making it a goal to go next year. I don't want to miss out on another chance to see all the people I love.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good Morning, Clarissa

It's about 9:30am in Seoul right now. Somewhere on the other side of the world our daughter is beginning her day.

I wonder what she's doing right now. Is she eating breakfast? Taking a bath? Playing with toys? Maybe she sleeps late and she's still asleep. Maybe she's been up for hours and and she's out running errands with her foster mom. What's she wearing today? I wonder if there is a cute bow in her hair.

I wonder if she's laughing. I wonder if someone is making her smile. I wonder if she's being snuggled and kissed and I wonder if someone is singing her songs.

It's a strange feeling having a daughter that you've never met. I've stared at her photos for hours. I've memorized her face. I wonder how much she'll change by the time we meet her.

I wonder if she'll happily let us hold her when we see her for the first time or if we'll just be scary strangers to her. It's hard to think that as much as we love her and as much as we're impatiently waiting for her, she's not feeling the same about us. She has no idea that her life is going to be turned upside down in a few short months. In all my excitement I feel a little sad about what we're about to put her through and the adjustments she's going to have to make.

Adoption is a huge roller coaster of emotions, but through it all I have a peace in my heart that for whatever reason, this is the path our lives were meant to take. I know that God has a plan for us, and I know that this is how it's supposed to be. I feel incredibly blessed that we've been able to take this journey. When I look at her photo I smile. Her sweet face makes my heart happy.

So good morning, Clarissa. I'm thinking about you today and I hope that this new day brings you joy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One month down, only a few more to go!

One month ago today we were sitting on the side of the road in Oregon, learning for the first time that we had a daughter. That was a really great day!

Now here we are a month later and what a busy month it has been!!! I feel like I've done more in the past month than I did in the last six months combined. The time has gone by really quickly, which is nice, but we're not a whole lot farther along in the process than we were a month ago. We still don't have Clarissa's legals, so we can't file the I600 yet. The I600 is a fairly big hurdle because it some cases it takes a really long time to get it approved. They say to expect 4-6 weeks. I've seen it happen earlier than that and I've seen it take as long as 10 weeks, which would really be sad!

The I600 form is the form asking the US government permission for us to adopt a foreign child. Until they approve that we can't do anything else. Early in the adoption process we filed the I600a form, which was basically a pre-approval based on the info they had at the time, and that was approved but we have to file the big I600 form now that we've identified who the child is and all of that. That's what we have to go get refingerprinted for next week. We have to be background checked by the federal government, which they use to help them decide if we're worthy, I guess!

Everyone sends their I600 forms to the USCIS office in their own state. Some state offices move faster than others, but when we got our I600a approval last year it came faster than we thought it would, so maybe that's a good sign. The USCIS office in Idaho probably isn't as busy as offices in other states with a lot more people, so maybe there's hope that our I600 will be approved quickly. You just really never know though. At this point it doesn't matter because our darn legals aren't here yet so we can't submit the I600 form anyway!

I'm doing OK with the wait though. Everyone told me that the wait would be worse once we got our referral but that hasn't been true for me. I have a lot more peace in my heart now. When the waiting gets hard I can look at my daughters photo and that's comforting to me. That's something I didn't have before. Now that I know who she is, where she is and who is taking care of her, I'm OK waiting for the next few months because I know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel now. It's still hard because I wish she were home right now, but the not knowing was definitely harder.

It also helps that summer is always busy around here and it always flies by quickly. In less than a month my kids will be back in school already! Thank goodness I'm not doing the post referral wait in the winter when every month seems like a hundred years.

So we've got another three and a half weeks or so of summer vacation for the boys, during which time I'll be running around getting school supplies, buying them school clothes and all of that, and then the first month of school is always busy as well, getting them settled and on a new routine.

But the time the dust has settled on that, we're going to be pretty close to traveling to Korea! I still can't believe we're actually going to Seoul. I'm so ridiculously excited about that trip! I'm scared out of my mind, but I'm really excited. I'm scared to fly, I'm scared about figuring out how to navigate such a gigantic city and I'm scared to come home with a baby who doesn't know who we are, but I'm looking at it as a big adventure in our lives that we will never ever forget. It's the same feeling I had when I was pregnant with my kids and I was absolutely terrified of giving birth, taking care of a newborn and all of that, but also SO excited at the same time. The first time they place your baby in your arms is probably one of the greatest experiences a person can have in their life. This time it will be taking place in an adoption agency in Seoul instead of a hospital room in Idaho, but it's all the same to me. I can't wait. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

I love my Korean friend :)

OK, seriously, another post about my Korean friend?! lol

We've been webcam chatting every day for the past week, sometimes twice a day. She is seriously the nicest person ever! Tonight she gave me an excellent Korean lesson. I think I learned more tonight than I learned in a month of Rosetta Stone. I was already super excited to go on our trip to Korea but now I'm even more excited because hopefully we're going to meet while we're there! Our kids have chatted with each other and tonight our husbands even chatted for a minute! So awesome.

So now I'm totally learning Korean and I'm absolutely loving it. My brain is totally full tonight from everything I learned and I have a LOT of practice to do, but I'm finally getting somewhere! Jin-Ha is an answer to a prayer. Her friendship is just what I needed in my life right now.

So now I'm signing off to go have date night with Shawn. We're eating take out Thai food and watching Spring Waltz. I finished it and now I'm watching it again with him! Best Korean drama EVER!

The mommy formally known as Wendy

Thanks to my Korean friend (I'm talking about her again!!), I know how to write my name in Korean now! It looks like this:


Yay! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home alone... no more!

The boys got back into town yesterday afternoon and it sounds like they had a fun time! The kids got spoiled rotten by Grandma, which is always fun! We live four hours away from all the rest of our family and our kids don't see their cousins a whole lot, so I'm always happy when they can go visit and spend some time with them for a few days.

Last night I talked to my Korean friend and then again this morning. I know I've talked way too much about her, but I'm super excited about it! She's great, we're learning a lot from each other. She teaches me Korean and I help her with her English. Today she wanted me to explain the usage of the word "though" to her. It's a word we all use often, but I've never had to explain it to anyone before and it was hard for me to explain, especially with the language barrier! It's been interesting for me to see our language from another perspective. I've really enjoyed helping her.

She has two sons who are absolutely adorable. One of them is about Josh's age and he's so funny. He kept standing behind her and waving at me through the webcam this morning. I talked to him for a few minutes and he told me that his American name was Hulk, lol. Apparently he came up with that on his own. Cutest kid ever.

Today I'm back to reality now that everyone is home. I've got projects to do and I need to get the house straightened up and get organized again. Now that our string of weekend vacations are over things are going to settle down around here and we can get into a routine that will get us through the rest of the summer.

One of the projects I'm working on is painting two nightstands that have been sitting in my garage for the past year! I bought two fantastic nightstands on Craigslist that I've been meaning to put in the basement guest bedroom but they needed to be painted first. I've been meaning to do it forever and I just haven't gotten around to it. Then a few weeks ago I found a Glidden paint promotion where they were giving away a free quart of paint and it came in the mail yesterday so I have no more excuses why I can't paint the nightstands. Hurray for free paint!

So that's the news from our house today. Time to get to work!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Home alone, day three

OK, so I've been obsessively watching Spring Waltz. Oh. My. Goodness. It is SOOO good!!! It may just rival Winter Sonata as my favorite Korean drama. It's absolutely fantastic. I still have about half of it left and I'm dying to see how it ends!

Today everyone comes home. Cousins camp ends at about noon, so Shawn will pick the boys up and then they'll make the four hour drive home. I expect them home sometime this afternoon.

It's been a little too quiet around here for the past few days, and I probably should have accomplished something more constructive with all the free time I had, but it's been a nice little vacation from life. Once the kids get home the vacation is over and it's time to get back to work!

So for now I'm going to go back to watching Spring Waltz and try to get as much as I can in before the kids get home!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home alone, day two

It's still pretty quiet around here! I talked to my Korean friend last night and then I rented The Secret Life of Bees, which I watched until midnight. It was SO GOOD! I'm a little lonely without Shawn and the boys, but it is kind of nice to be able to do things that no one else would want to do. Shawn didn't seem all that interested in seeing The Secret Life of Bees with me.

Today I'm watching a Korean drama. This one is called Spring Waltz. If anyone remembers back when I watched Winter Sonata and I raved about it for weeks, this is another one in the same series. They made four dramas that are referred to as the Endless Love series. We've seen Winter Sonata and Summer Scent and now I'm watching Spring Waltz. The only one I have left it Autumn Tale. They're all different stories, but kind of on the same theme. They have similar story lines. They're ridiculously romantic and sweet but also tragic and sad and I'm completely hooked on them. Koreans know how to tell a story and keep you on the edge of your seat!

Spring Waltz is SO good so far! It's another 20 hour series, so it's going to take me a while to watch the whole thing. So far it's amazingly good. I'm totally hooked! I just talked to Shawn and he's in Yellowstone Park with his dad, which is one of my very favorite places to go and I'm bummed that I'm not there. So while Shawn is getting spoiled in Yellowstone and the kids are getting spoiled by Grandma, I'm going to lay around all day and spoil myself by watching hours and hours of Spring Waltz. I guess we're all taking seperate vacations. That's weird, we've never done that before.

In adoption news, I just got off the phone with the agency. I'm a little bummed that things aren't moving super quickly. We still haven't gotten our legals and the lady at the agency said that it could be another week or two before they come. We've also been waiting for almost a month to get an appointment to get refingerprinted by USCIS because our background check expires this month and we have to have an recent background check in order for them to approve our I600 form. We finally got the form today telling us when our fingerprint appointment is and it's not until the 29th.

So things are moving slower than I would like them to. I asked the woman at the agency if traveling in October is realistic and she said that unless we get paperwork approved really quickly it's more likely going to be in November. She said that the way the paperwork is moving we're pretty much looking at an absolute minimum of three months from now. So if everything went absolutely perfectly and all the forms were approved at their quickest possible speed, we'd be traveling the middle of October. Any delay and that's going to push everything back. Knowing the way the government works, we're likely to have some sort of delay. Nothing works perfectly.

So October is still possible I guess, but I'm going to try not to get my hopes up. Our agency tends to be really conservative when they give estimates though. She would rather tell me November and then have it be earlier than tell me that October is likely and have it be later. They did the same with our referral, although in that case her conservative guess was right, so you never know.

Anyway, that's all the news I have. Basically nothing is happening but at least we got our fingerprint appointment. That's something, I guess! Oh, and she said that she also got a confirmation from the Korean agency that they're going to do the medical test on Clarissa that we requested but she has no idea when they'll do it or when we'll get the results. There's a possibility that she has an extremely minor medical condition, but it's nothing to worry about. If she has it it's easily fixable. I'm not concerned about it, but if she has it it needs to be diagnosed so they can fix it. I'll talk more about it when we get the results.

So now I'm going to go back to watching Spring Waltz! Yay!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home alone, day one

Early this morning Shawn left with the boys to take their little cousins camp vacation, so I'm officially home alone.

It occured to me while I was sitting here in silence today that in the entire 12 years of our marriage, I've only slept apart from Shawn maybe 4-5 times at the most. I've only been home overnight without the kids once, and that was just for one night. (that doesn't count the nights that I've been on vacation away from them, just the nights that I've been in the house and they haven't.)

What I'm trying to say is that I'm a little lonely today!! It's weird to be home alone. I slept late, which was nice. Then I practiced my Korean for awhile, went to the store, had Thai food for lunch, came home, worked on my Korean again...and now here I am. It's really quiet.

Thank goodness for Korean to keep my busy though. I've been practicing what I learned with my Korean friend yesterday and then I decided to give Rosetta Stone another try.

I tried Rosetta Stone last December in an attempt to teach myself Korean. It was working really well for a while, I was following along learning how to say several things, and then it just kept getting more complicated. Rosetta Stone is a complete immersion program. There's not a single word of it in English. It shows you photos and says the word in Korea and then you repeat it. Then it starts using those words in sentences and it just keeps building. The problem is that the sentences started getting longer and more complex, but they don't explain sentence structure or anything to you. They don't explain verb usage and word endings or any of that. So I was picking up vocabulary words, but I would never be able to use those words in a spontaneous conversation. I don't understand how to form proper sentences. Korean sentence structure is completely backward from English sentences. It's confusing.

So after a while I gave up. It was too confusing and frustrating and it just make me more frustrated that I didn't know anyone who spoke fluent Korean to help me. My friend Larry is Korean but he's lived in the US most of his life and his Korean is a little rusty. He was able to help me some, but I felt bad constantly bombarding him with questions. I finally decided that until I could find some sort of college class or something to take I was just going to have to give up on learning to speak Korean.

That is until I met my new Korean friend!!! (Have I talked way too much about my new Korean friend yet!?! lol) Now that I have someone to help explain things to me and I have someone to practice with, I'm all excited about learning again. So today I got Rosetta Stone going again and I'm going to give it another shot. With her help I think I might be able to get somewhere.

So that's what I'll be doing for the next three days while I'm home alone. I've got plenty of time to immerse myself in Korean, so I'm going to do it. I think I'll watch Korean movies and practice Rosetta Stone and talk to my friend. It's a Korean extravaganza! :)

Speaking of Korea, there's nothing new in adoption news yet. Still waiting on legals. It's 8:30 in the morning in Seoul right now. Clarissa is probably just starting her day. I hope her foster mother is kissing her sweet chubby cheeks and giving her all the love that I'm not there to give. I hope my sweet girl has a wonderful day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Look at me, I'm bilingual! :)

I talked to my friend in Korea again tonight! She's such a huge blessing to me. She taught me how to say a whole bunch of things tonight. I'm working on a little mini speech (like 3-4 sentences) that I want to say to Clarissa's foster mother when we go to Korea and she's helping me. I told her what I wanted to say and she translated it for me and she's helping me practice it. I've written it all down and I'm practicing it like crazy and it almost sounds like I know what I'm saying! :)

I can very confidently say "It was very nice to meet you" in Korean now. I've been walking around the house saying it all evening. When I get to Korea I need to meet a lot of people, just so I can "it was very nice to meet you" to them in Korean. :) I'm also learning to tell the foster mother thank you for taking such good care of Clarissa and that we hope to be able to visit Korea with her again someday. It's a good little speech. :)

I absolutely love the Korean language. I love to hear it spoken, it just sounds beautiful to me. It's hard for me to learn though. Because I've always loved to read and write and English was always my best subject in high school, I always figured that learning another language would be easy for me, but it's not. Well actually, some languages aren't bad. I took Spanish in high school and I found that language pretty easy to learn.

Korean is a lot trickier than Spanish though, especially because not only do you have to learn to speak it, you have to learn to read it. I can't just read a sentence in Korean the way I could read a sentence in Spanish. Everything in Korean is written in Hangul characters. If you look up how to say "hello" in Korean, you get this: 안녕하세요. You have to learn to read that before you can use it to help you learn to speak. So to learn to say something I have to rely on hearing it or have someone write the sounds out for me, which is what my Korean friend is doing. I wish I could just snap my fingers and be fluent, or at least good enough to have a basic conversation. Maybe if I keep talking to my Korean friend enough I'll start picking it up more. We're going to meet again tomorrow night!

So I'll keep practicing what I've learned and my Korean friend will help me learn more. Thank goodness for her, she's the answer to a prayer.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday

There's not much new going on here these days, but I thought I'd made a quick post anyway so that everyone knows I'm still alive! :)

The stress I've been feeling about life recently is getting much better. We got pretty much all the paperwork and other projects done that we needed to do and things are starting to calm down a bit. We were actually planning to go out of town this weekend but we had a little change of plans.

Every summer my mom does a cousins camp for all the grandkids, so we take the kids to her house and then spend a few days on our own, which is always fun! It's a four hour drive to my moms house and this year we were going to rent a hotel room for a few days and just have a relaxing getaway.

But everytime I went to make the reservations I just kept feeling guilty about spending money on another trip when we have our Korea trip to save for. Two nights in a hotel now could pay for two nights in a hotel in Korea. Saving for that trip is our #1 priority right now. We've been out of town a lot lately and that's been part of what has been stressing me out, so we amended our plan a bit.

I'm going to stay home by myself and Shawn is going to take the kids to my moms house and then he's going to go stay with his dad for a few days while the kids are at cousins camp. Shawn's dad lives about a half hour away from my mom and he hasn't had the chance to spend a lot of time with him for a while, so I think it will be nice for them to have a few days together to catch up. I've got things I can do around the house while they're gone, so I think this will work out best.

So they'll leave Monday morning and be back Wednesday night. While they're gone I think I might paint the guest room or make something for Clarissa's room or find another project to do. I could use a few days of peace and quiet. It will be good.

Today we had a fun little adventure with our Korean friend Larry! I've mentioned Larry several times, he's the Korean guy who used to work with Shawn before they closed the retail portion of Shawn's pharmacy. Once he lost his job at the pharmacy he got a good job in another town (my hometown, actually. The town Shawn is taking the kids to on Monday) so he doesn't live here anymore. He still has a girlfriend here though so he comes back here on the weekends frequently and he's practically become part of our family, so we get together whenever we can.

He was in town today so he called to see if we wanted to go on another field trip to an Asian market that we hadn't been to yet. I love going to Asian markets with him. We go through the aisles and he shows us all different kinds of food that we've never heard of before and then he buys the kids Korean cookies. It's always a fun time at the Asian market. :)

After that we went out for pizza with Larry and his girlfriend and then we went to the park to feed the ducks, which I absolutely love to do! It was a really fun afternoon and nice to see Larry again.

I talked to my new Korean friend in Seoul again last night and it was awesome! I'm so thrilled to have a friend to talk to in Korea. She's helping me learn some Korean words, although I'm a little intimidated because I'm not very good! Her English is much better than my Korean! One thing she's helping me with is learning to say something to Clarissa's foster mother when we go pick her up. I really want to tell her foster mother thank you for all that she has done for us, but I want to be able to say it in Korean. After all she's done for our family the least I can do is learn to thank her in her own language. So I wrote out a few sentences of what I wanted to say to her and my Korean friend is going to help me learn to say it. I've got a few months to practice so hopefully I can do it!

So that's all that is going on here lately. There's nothing much new with the adoption right now. We're still waiting for our legals to get here. That's the paperwork that the Korean agency sends to the American agency giving them guardianship of Clarissa so that they can start filing paperwork on her behalf. Until we get that nothing else can happen. It usually takes three weeks or so, so I'm expecting it soon.

For now I'm off to bed. I've made it through another day, which brings us one day closer to Clarissa! Yay!! :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

My new Korean friend!!!

I'm so excited that I'm jumping out of my skin! Ok, so yesterday I found a website where people from around the world can help each other learn new languages. There is a section where you can take language classes, you can chat with people from other countries and it's really fun!

So this morning I met a woman who lives in Seoul and we had a voice chat! She is SO nice and it was so much fun! She speaks pretty good English and she helped me learn a little Korean. We talked about Seoul and about Korean food and about the US. She helped me pronounce Clarissa's Korean name and told me a little about Korean culture and it was awesome!! We may meet up while we're in Korea! It was so neat to be able to talk to someone who is in the same city as Clarissa right now! What a nice woman!

We have plans to chat again later. I'm going to work on my Korean a bit and come up with questions to ask her next time. How fun!! I've been wanting to make a Korean friend and I'm so happy that I found such a nice one! She also has two boys and it sounds like we have a lot in common!

YAY! I'm grateful for the internet that makes it so easy to connect with people on the other side of the world. Amazing! :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Clarissa's CURRENT name :)

After my post about Clarissa's middle name I had questions about her Korean name and if we plan to incorporate that with her American name.

This is something that we've been discussing for a long time. A lot of adoptive families use their childs Korean name as a middle name and we decided that we'd wait to see what her Korean name was and then decide. Sometimes the birth mother gives the baby the name and other times a social worker does it. We decided a long time ago that if her birth mother named her, we would use that name as her middle name. We figured that if she named her it was probably something special to her and we wanted Clarissa to keep it.

When we got the referral we learned two things. First, Clarissa's name was given to her by her social worker and not her mother, and second, it's a little hard to pronounce without a little practice! We talked about giving her two middle names, her Korean name and an American name, but I think that's just too many names.

Part of Clarissa's Korean name means "grace", so we thought about going with Clarissa Grace, which I think is pretty. That was a definite possibility for a while.

We spent a while discussing the options and in the end we finally decided to take it to a family vote and Rose won. We had picked out Rose a long time ago as a possibility and we all agreed that Rose was the name we all loved the most.

Clarissa will always know her Korean name and I plan to have a Korean scroll made for her room with her Korean name on it. Her Korean name is beautiful and will always be special to us and hopefully to her. It's just not going to be part of her legal name.

Now for a little trivia about my family! Giving our daughter a middle name at all is breaking a long standing family tradition. No females in my family have a middle name. My grandma doesn't have one, my mom doesn't have one, I don't have one, my sister doesn't have one, my sisters daughters don't have one...I'm totally the rebel by giving my daughter a middle name, lol.

I don't really know why that's a tradition in our family, it just is. I've never minded not having a middle name, that's just normal in my family. But it's important to me to give middle names to my kids that that honor someone from our family history. We put a lot of thought into our boys middle names. Josh's middle name is my dad's name, who passed away before Josh was born, and Matthew's middle name is my husband's great grandfather's name, who has a neat life story. I didn't want to leave Clarissa out of that tradition. But you can see why the thought of giving her TWO middle names seems like too much to me. Even giving our daughter ONE is breaking tradition!

So there is the rest of the middle name story. It's been a hot topic around here for quite a while. Coming up with a name is a big responsibility as it is and I especially worried about it with Clarissa since we weren't quite sure what to do about her Korean name. We feel good about our decision though and hopefully when Clarissa is older she'll enjoy hearing the story of where her name came from.

Clarissa's middle name

A comment just reminded me that I was going to tell the story of Clarissa's middle name.

Her middle will be Rose, which is my great-grandmothers name. Actually, she's technically NOT my great-grandmother, she's not even a blood relative. But she had an important part in our family and even though she died when I was a baby I've grown up hearing stories of what a wonderful person she is.

When my grandpa was a baby around 1920, his mother died of the flu. His father wasn't able to care for my grandpa on his own so my grandpa's mothers best friend Rose stepped in and offered to raise him. She didn't have any kids of her own and she was a wonderful mother to my grandpa. I've grown up hearing stories of what a wonderful, happy, caring person my great grandmother Rose was.

The next part of the story might not make sense if you're not LDS, but I'll try to explain it the best I can. In our religion we believe that we have the opportunity to be with our family after we die, but in order to do that there is a ceremony that is performed in a temple that "seals" us together for eternity. That's something that is extremely important to us in our religion. My great grandmother Rose had raised my grandpa from the time he was a newborn and she was the only mother he knew. She could have legally adopted him and had him sealed to her in the temple so that they would be together for eternity. That's what we'll be doing with Clarissa. Once she's legally adopted and sealed to our family, she's considered a member of our eternal family and we believe that we all have the opportunity to be together again after death.

But Rose chose not to do that. As much as she loved my grandpa and treated him as her own child, she loved his mother so much that she wanted him to be with her again when he died. So she never officially adopted him and when he was old enough she went to the temple with him and stood in for my grandpa's mother as a proxy in the ceremony and had him sealed to her.

The significance of that might be hard to understand for someone not of our religion, but that was quite a sacrifice for her to make. What a wonderful example of friendship.

Rose lived to be quite old and dedicated her life to serving others. Though I have no memories of her (She died a few months after I was born), I've grown up hearing stories of her and what a wonderful, kind hearted person she was. I love reading her life history and learning more about her. I wish that I had gotten the opportunity to know her.

When it came time to give Clarissa a middle name, Rose was the very first person who came to my mind. She knew what it was like to raise a child who wasn't biologically hers and she loved my grandpa like her own. We have given all of our kids middle names in honor of people in our family history. We carefully pick the name of someone in our family who has passed who we hope that our children will want to learn more about and use as an example in their lives. I can't think of any better example for Clarissa than Rose. I hope that Clarissa grows to be a kind, loving person just like her great-great-grandmother Rose.

So Clarissa's name is pretty special to us. She's named after two strong women in our family history (If you haven't heard the story behind Clarissa's first name, click here: http://www.heartontheline.com/2008/05/whats-in-name.html and here:http://www.heartontheline.com/2008/08/she-lived-in-righteousness-and-died.html) and I hope that when she's older she'll want to learn about those women and use their example as a guide in her life.

Clarissa Rose. Two special names for a very special little girl. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday

My blog has been kind of quiet lately. I'm struggling a little these days to juggle everything I have going on right now. A few years ago I went through a period of really extreme anxiety and panic attacks and after I was treated for them I got much better and haven't had problems in quite a while. But unfortunately all the chaos around here right now is kicking up the anxiety again.

I hate to even complain about my life right now because in the big picture we're extremely blessed and I am SO excited to bring Clarissa home. I'm not really worried about the adoption necessarily, I'm just really overwhelmed with life right now. Everything changed really quickly and it takes me a little bit to adjust to change. We just made the final ginormous payment to the adoption agency and now we're scrambling to save for our trip to Korea in a few months. It's definitely not cheap to spend a week in Korea and we're stressed about finances a bit after writing the second biggest check of our marriage to the adoption agency last week. The only check we've written bigger than that was for the down payment on our house! I get a little panicky when I see that much money leave our savings account at once!

Between the stress of that and finishing up some projects I needed to do and having a lot of stuff going on right now for my church job and planning to be out of town this weekend and wondering how we can possibly justify the expense of taking another trip (it's a family event that we really have to be there for), I'm just really overwhelmed and overloaded. I'm trying to take everything one at a time but things just keep flying at me from different angles and I'm having a really hard time keeping up. All of those things trigger my anxiety and then I'm really not much fun.

I know that things are going to work out fine in the end. When I think about bringing Clarissa into our lives I feel a lot of peace. This has always been something that I strongly believe that we've been led to do and I know that this is the right thing for our family. I'm looking forward to the day I can finally hold Clarissa in my arms and put all this adoption craziness behind us. The next few months are just going to be kind of a struggle though. Getting through the end of this process is nervewracking and overwhelming. The WAIT is easier for me now than it was before we got our referral, but life is a lot crazier now than it was back then. I'm mentally exhausted these days. I'm not sleeping well and I keep waking up in the morning with butterflies in my stomach.

So these days I'm doing a lot of praying and using a lot of relaxation techniques that I learned the last time I went through my anxiety issues and I know that everything will work out. I think we all go through these bumps in the road sometimes.

I hate making blog posts like this because I don't think everyone really wants to listen to me complain. But in the interest of wanting this blog to be an honest look at what it's like to adopt a baby from Korea, I think it's important to include the hard times. Adoption is fun and exciting but it's also scary and stressful at times.

But I don't want this post to end on a bad note, so let me tell you the good things that are going on these days. Yesterday I got the kids organized with a summer chore chart and they're being awesome about it. Josh is downstairs emptying the dishwasher right now and I didn't hear a single complaint about it. Way to go Josh! Yesterday I informed the kids that for the summer I was putting a strict limit on their computer time and giving them an expanded chore chart to do and I expected all kinds of grumbling, but I got none. I have sweet kids who are happy to help and I appreciate them so much. It's hard to get too down around here when I have such sweet kids who always make me smile.

Another thing I'm loving is how awesome the weather has been this summer!! Boise gets super hot in the summer, usually into the 100's (I've seen it hit 112!), which makes it kind of miserable to go outside a lot of days. But for some reason it's been cooler this summer. Several days recently have been in the 80's or low 90's. It's been really enjoyable to go outside without feeling like you're going to melt into a puddle. That definitely makes me happy!

Also, no matter how much stresss I have in my life right now, I have photos of Clarissa to look at and that makes me happy. I feel so blessed that we've been able to go through this adoption process and I'm so happy that we've made it through the long wait for the referral. There were times that I really thought it was never going to happen and it finally did. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for the foster parents who are loving our sweet Clarissa until we can go get her and I'm grateful for whoever took the time to take photos of her so that I have something to hold on to while we wait.

Even with the stress, life is good and I'm grateful for it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Has anyone seen my brain?

I think all the craziness around here is seriously getting to me! I'm so preoccupied with the adoption right now that I've shut everything else out of my mind and I find myself doing a lot of silly things lately!

I'm the secretary for our church's womens organization and part of my job is keeping track of everyone's birthday and getting cards out to everyone each Sunday. Everyone in the presidency signs them and when they run low I make new ones and bring them to our weekly meeting and we all sign a bunch of them. Last week we were out so I made some more and then forgot to take them to the meeting. Crap. So I arranged for everyone to sign them individually and then the president was going to take them to church today to hand out. That worked out fine until I realized that I forgot to sign them! Duh. Handing out birthday cards really isn't difficult, you would think that it wouldn't trip me up quite so much.

I've been doing that about everything lately. My brain is just in another universe these days. I've been extremely busy for the past few weeks and I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the things I need to do. My to-do list keeps getting longer and I'm struggling to keep up. This week I have a few more adoption projects to finish up, some projects that I need to get done for my chuch job and then I've got to get us packed up to go back out of town next weekend.

I guess being busy is a good thing and a bad thing. The busier I am the faster time goes and the faster Clarissa is going to get here. My life is certainly moving a lot faster than it was when I was waiting for the referral, that's for sure! I tend to get overwhelmed easy when I have a million things to do though and at the moment I'm just wishing that I could hit the pause button for a minute.

The other thing we have going on here this weekend is that I think Matthew may have Scarlet Fever. Josh had it when he was almost exactly Matthew's age and Matthew has all the symptoms of the beginnings of it. He broke out in a really weird rash yesterday that he still had today and it looks just like the rash that Josh had. We're keeping an eye on it, but for now we're keeping him at home just in case.

So between Matthew being sick, all the church projects I need to do, all the adoption stuff I have going on and the fact that we're leaving town AGAIN next weekend, life is certainly not boring right now.

Thank goodness that I have a fantastic husband who talks me down when I get overwhelmed and I have sweet kids who keep offering to help me. Josh realizes that I'm a little stressed out and he's been following me around all day asking if he can help me with something. He's such a sweet kid. I let him help me do the attendance rolls for church and then he offered to clean up the family room. I apppreciate him so much today, I just couldn't ask for sweeter kids.

So now that I've blogged I'm going to go back to my projects. Each project completed is one project closer to Clarissa being here, right?!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Two weeks

It's now been two weeks since we saw Clarissa's sweet face for the first time. I'm happy to say that time is totally flying by!! These past few weeks have been insanely busy and I don't really see things slowing down too much for the next little bit. I keep thinking that after I finish each project or each step in the adoption that things will calm down for a bit, but so far I just keep coming up with new projects!

Shawn has today off work for the holiday so this morning we FINALLY went to the post office to apply for our passports. We've literally been planning to go do that for months and we just kept putting it off. For some reason in my mind I thought it was going to be a big pain to go do it, but in reality it was ridiculously simple. There was no one in line at the post office this morning at all and the woman who helped us was SO nice. We were in and out of there really quickly. If everything goes the way it's supposed to we should have our passports by the middle of August, which should give us plenty of time before we actually travel.

After that we went to the mall for a bit and I bought Clarissa some clothes to put in her care package since I decided that the clothes I bought her last week aren't going to fit. There is nothing more fun than buying little girl clothes. Seriously, I'm going to have to learn to restrain myself before I spend our life savings on clothes. Actually, we already spent our life savings on the adoption, so there's not much to left to spend on clothes...

At the moment Shawn is out picking up movies and a pizza and we're all going to snuggle up in a bit and have family movie night. We've enjoyed sharing movies from our childhood with our kids lately, so tonight we're watching The Princess Bride and The Karate Kid. Two classics from my youth that I think the kids will like.

Tomorrow we're going to do something fun, but we haven't decided exactly what yet. We'll probably go have a picnic somewhere for lunch, we might go out to the lake for a bit and tomorrow night we're going to grill hamburgers, roast marshmallows and set off some fireworks in the backyard. The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. It was a huge event when I was young and I have such great memories of it. My dad used to love holidays and he always made a big deal out of the 4th of July. He would get up super early in the morning to save us a good spot at the parade, there was always something fun in the afternoons and we always went to the fireworks in the evening, which were a big deal in my hometown. I always miss my dad and my hometown on the 4th of July, so planning lots of fun activities on the 4th is my cure for nostalgia.

Right now it's already the 4th of July in Korea, not that Korea is celebrating anything! It's about 8am right now. I bet Clarissa is just getting up and starting her day. Maybe right now her foster mom is getting her dressed and putting a cute bow in her hair. I hope she's being loved and snuggled and I hope that someone is kissing her chunky cheeks 20 times a day. I can't wait until that's my job! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We got a new picture of Clarissa!!

It's is absolutely killing me that I can't share photos here because getting a new photo of Clarissa is like Christmas around here and I want to share it with everyone!

The other day I mentioned that we got her five month well baby checkup report in the mail and I was a little disappointed that there was no photo with it. Then today I got an e-mail from our agency with a photo that I'm guessing was probably taken the day of the checkup.

There is something just so amazing about getting a photo of her. It's actually kind of a strange feeling. I feel so close to this amazing little person that I've never even met. I so badly want to just pick her up and kiss her sweet face.

So now my petty complaint about the photos from Korea is that it's hilarious to me how they take these photos. In their mind they're simply documentation photos to go in their file, not glamour shots or anything, so I think they pretty much just plop them in the chair, snap a quick photo and move on to the next baby. In the latest photo she has this total deer in the headlights look on her face, lol. She looks totally startled like she has no idea why they just put her in the strange little chair and stuck a camera in her face. I would love to see a photo of her smiling! I wonder what she looks like when laughs and when she's comfortable in her surroundings.

I will happily take what I can at this point though. I love her deer in the headlights look! :) Since I can't show the photo I will describe it. For anyone who saw the last photo (I shared it with family and some friends) this one is taken in the same place. She's sitting in a purple Bumbo seat with a big stuffed animal behind her. She's wearing the cutest little strawberry outfit! She has a ton of hair and it's pulled up with a clip. I love to think of her foster mother picking out cute outfits for her and fixing her hair. I can tell that she's being loved and well cared for.

One thing that I can really tell from this photo is that she has HUGE eyes!! I've learned interesting things about Korean eyes over the past year. If you're caucasian you know the crease in your upper eyelid that we pretty much all have? Only about 20 percent of Koreans have that crease in their eyelid. Most Koreans eyelids go straight down, which makes their eyes narrower. In Korea it's considered a sign of beauty to have a crease in your eyelid. It makes your eyes wider and rounder, which they like. The most common plastic surgery in Korea is eyelid crease surgery! People who don't have a natural crease pay lots of money to have one surgically created. I had no idea that such a thing existed until I started reading about Koreans and I kept noticing that eyelid creases were mentioned a lot when they described someone.

I tell that whole story because Clarissa is one of the 20 percent with the crease in her eyelids, something that she actually shares with her biological mother. (Eyelid creases are such a big deal that although we only have a small amount of info on Clarissa's biological mother, they did take the time to mention that she has an eyelid crease. I don't know much about her mothers life story but I do know everything I need to know about her eyelids, lol!) Anyway, Clarissa has extremely round eyes for a Korean. I could tell from the last photo, but they're even more noticeable in this photo (possibly because she has such a surprised expression on her face!)

The other thing I noticed in this photo is that strangely she almost looks SMALLER in this photo than she did a month ago, which is weird since she's gained a pound and a half since I last saw her. I think that maybe she has gotten taller so even though she gained weight she actually looks like she's thinned out just a little. Her cheeks are slightly less chunky than they were in the last photo. They're still pretty smoochable though!! :) I wish so badly that I could just pick her up and snuggle her.

I just can't stop looking at her! I've stopped typing this blog post several times just to go look at her sweet face again. I love her SO much! I love every single thing about her. I love her round face and her big eyes and all that hair and her chunky little legs. I love her sweet little hands and her sweet little toes and I love that she has a foster mother who takes the time to put cute bows in her hair. These photos are so special to me, especially because I never know how long it's going to be before I get another one, if I even get another one at all before we go get her. They're really hit and miss and I think that we've already gotten lucky to get so many!

So now I'm going to go back to staring at my sweet baby. :) I'm going to have every inch of that photo permanently burned into my mind by the end of the day. Clarissa is REAL and that makes me happy. :)