Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adventures with Melissa, Day two!

We are having so much fun today! Poor Melissa must have been completely exhausted because she slept until noon before I finally went in there and woke her up! All morning I kept debating whether or not I should wake her up but finally at noon I decided that if she didn't get up her sleep schedule would be all messed up.

So we got her up, had lunch and then I took the kids and did a little shopping. I asked her yesterday what her favorite Korean food is and she said Kimchee, so I thought I'd take her to the Korean market today and buy some bottled Kimchee in case she gets homesick and wants a taste of home while she's here or in case she gets tired of unfamiliar American food. She was so cute though, when we got there she said she didn't want it because she said she only wants to eat American food here. I was proud of her, she's really embracing her American experience. When we went to Korea I only lasted two days before we found a Burger King and wolfed down french fries like it was the last food left on Earth, lol. The food is so different in Korea that my biggest worry about this experience was that she wouldn't like American food and I wouldn't know what to feed her, but she's eating just fine.

After the Korean market we went to Shopko and bought the game Battleship and the movie Monsters Vs. Aliens. Josh plays Battleship at school and loves it, so I thought it would be a fun and easy game for him to teach Melissa to play. We came home and they had a great time playing that for a while and then we made popcorn and watched Mosters Vs. Aliens. It's all cold and snowy outside, so today was the perfect day to play games and watch a movie.

The more Melissa warms up to us the more we enjoy her. Her English is fairly good, but I can tell that she sometimes has to think for a minute before speaking to find the right words. I think she's doing great though and I think after a month of speaking English exclusively she's going to be even better. I seriously envy people who are bilingual. One of these days I'm going to find Korean classes in Boise and give Korean another try. I know a ton of random Korean words, but I can't put a sentence together. I'm fascinated by people who can switch between two languages.

One of the best things about this experience so far is that in the past 24 hours I've met several Koreans who live in Boise and that's something I've been searching for. There really aren't that many Korean people in the area and I've been dying to make some Korean friends. There are a few who work with the exchange program and I enjoyed getting to know them at the airport yesterday. I'll be seeing more of them throughout the month as they check up on Melissa. Then today at the Korean market a Korean woman stopped to talk to Melissa and we found out that she's opening a taekwondo studio practically right around the corner from our house, which I'm thrilled about because I've been looking for one nearby. I think Josh and Matthew might enjoy that. I also talked to the market owner (who gave us free crackers because he liked Clarissa and Melissa, lol) and I asked him about Korean restaurants in the area (there are none unfortunately) or if he knows of anyone who caters Korean food because I'm looking for some Korean dishes for the birthday party we're having for Clarissa in February. He took my info down and he's going to call me.

We're still trying to decide what we're going to do for the New Years celebration tonight. I think we'll order pizza for the kids and let them have a little party with movies and games in the basement and Shawn and I will find something yummy to eat and watch some movies when the kids go to bed. Every year I think I want to plan something really fun for New Years Eve and every year it usually ends up with us asleep on the couch at 11. We're not exactly party animals, lol.

Tomorrow Shawn doesn't have to work so we're going to find some fun activity to do with the kids. We might go sledding or go see a movie or maybe we'll take the kids swimming at the YMCA. We'll cram as much fun in as we can before school starts back up on Monday!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another update!

Seriously, Melissa could not be sweeter or cuter, we're having a ball with her! She has really warmed up to us this evening and we've enjoyed her a lot! We took her out to dinner tonight and she ate her first taco! :)

It's really fun to look at America through the eyes of a foreigner. And because we just went through a similar experience a few months ago when we visited Korea I feel like I understand a little of what she's going through. I remember just feeling bombarded with new experiences during our whole trip to Korea. The food was different, the language was different and nothing feels familiar. It's really fun and exciting but kind of exhausting and overwhelming at the same time, so we're taking it slow and letting her tell us what she wants to do. She's doing great with the boys and she's so curious about Clarissa coming from Korea. She doesn't quite understand how all of that worked, I think. She's asking a lot of questions, which is really cute.

One fun thing is that she brought us all gifts from Korea! She brought me and Shawn a beautiful piece of artwork, she brought cute pens, pencils and erasers for the boys and she brought Clarissa a bib (which actually matches a shirt that Jin-Ha gave to Clarissa in Korea!), some cute socks and a burp cloth. She also brought me bulgogi marinade (YAY!!) and gochujung, which is the Korean red pepper paste that is in so many Korean foods. So fun!

One fun thing that we found out today at the airport is that the exchange program provides our whole family with free access to the YMCA for the month and also free ski passes for our family so we can take Melissa skiing. We were also paid a stipend that we'll use to pay for more fun activities. So I think we're going to pack everything we can into this month. I'm really looking forward to it!

Melissa is really sweet and polite and I don't know if it's the accent or what, but everything that comes out of her mouth is adorable, lol. She keeps calling me teacher, which is a common thing to call people in athority in Korea, and it makes me smile. I helped her call her mom tonight and I enjoyed hearing her speak Korean. I don't know what it is, but I just love hearing Korean spoken. I love the way it sounds.

Now we're watching the movie Up with her and then we're going to get the kids to bed. It's been a busy day and I'm sure that Melissa has to be exhausted, but I keep asking her if she's tired and she keeps telling me no. I don't know how she's doing it, when we went to Korea I wanted to curl up on the floor and sleep for a week when we finally arrived. Traveling that far is exhausting!

I'm off to watch the movie with the kid but stay tuned because I'm sure that I'll have many stories of our adventures with Melissa this month. Exciting days are ahead around here!

Quick update

We're home with Melissa and she is SO adorable! I felt bad for her at the airport, she looked scared to death. But we got her home, showed her around and talked her into teaching us how to play a Korean board game we bought in Seoul and that really opened her up.

The game ended up being kind of a Korean version of the game Sorry, so when we finished that game the kids got out Sorry and they're teaching her how to play. She's smiling and laughing, so I think she's doing ok.

She's nine years old but for some reason she seems older than nine to me. She seems very mature and intelligent. And I really love her accent!

She seems to especially love Clarissa but she's scared of our cat. We're keeping the cat out of the way for now!

Tonight we're taking her out to dinner to celebrate her first night here. So far so good!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

New photos!

We're leaving in half an hour to go pick Melissa up from the airport! Yay!

I also took a few cute pictures of Clarissa this morning that I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

www.dropshots.com/wenders11

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday

I can't believe Christmas is over already! It went by really fast!

So first of all, we DID have a Christmas miracle and our Christmas Eve picture of the kids rocked! I seriously worried about that picture for days beforehand. I really wanted it to be perfect but I almost never get Clarissa to sit still for a photo. Just like her brothers she runs when the camera comes out, lol.

But for some miraculous reason when we sat her on the floor with the boys in front of the tree she totally turned on the charm! I think the photo I ended up using was the third photo I shot. It was a piece of cake and I'm ridiculously in love with how it turned out. I love looking at photos of all three kids together. I have THREE kids! It's still sinking in, lol.

Christmas was really fun this year. The kids got spoiled rotten and we ate way too much Christmas candy. That's how I like my Christmases!

I got the best Christmas gift this year! My sweet husband went shopping with the boys a couple of weeks ago and the three of them picked out a beautiful silver bracelet with a heart shaped charm on it. They had "Forever Family" engraved on one side and the kids names engraved on the other side. They were so excited to give it to me, I could not ask for a sweeter husband or sweeter kids.

We're getting excited for our Korean exchange student to get here on Wednesday! This afternoon I got an e-mail from the program coordinator with photos of Melissa. She is absolutely ADORABLE! I probably won't be posting photos of her for privacy reasons, but I wish I could because she's super cute. We have some fun things planned while she's here and I think it's going to be a really great experience for our family.

The next few days are going to be really busy getting ready for her arrival and cleaning up after all the Christmas fun. It's so much fun to put up the Christmas tree and get ready for Christmas and it's always a pain to take it down and put it all away. Once Christmas is over I get tired of the Christmas tree pretty quickly.

So things are pretty busy around here right now and starting Wednesday I think it's going to get a lot busier! It's a fun kind of busy though, so I really can't wait! :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Whites

http://www.dropshots.com/Wenders11#date/2009-12-24/19:56:08

Piggies for Christmas!

This morning when we got Clarissa out of the bathtub and I was drying her hair I decided that it was time to experiment. :) Since Clarissa has been home I've just been pulling her hair to the side with a clip, which is the extent of my little girl hair styling skills, but this morning I was noticing how long her hair is getting and I decided that it was time to try pig tails.

I've never put pig tails in a babies hair before and I had no idea what I was doing, which is probably evident from the photos, lol. Fortunately Clarissa seems to like having her hair played with. She has always liked having it brushed and she sat still and let me put the pig tails in with no problem. She may not KEEP them in (she's always pulling her hair clips out), but she did seem to enjoy it when I was putting them in. As her hair gets longer and I get more practice I'm sure I'll find lots of fun things to do with her hair!

As usual, the photos are on the dropshots page. (www.dropshots.com/wenders11)

And speaking of photos, I'm getting all excited about our annual photo tonight! Every year since Matthew was born I've been giving the boys matching pajamas on Christmas Eve and taking their photo in front of the Christmas tree. It's usually the last thing they do on Christmas Eve before they go to bed. I have the cutest photos of them throughout the years in their matching pj's and it's always fun to take the new photo and compare it to last years photo to see how much they've grown.

This year is going to be even MORE fun because Clarissa will finally get to join them! I searched high and low for matching pajamas that they could all wear and I found some cute ones. Clarissa's are just like the boys except they're pink. Because this is such a big tradition in our family I always really stress over getting the perfect photo. It's not something I can really redo later if I don't like how they turned out. I'm not sure how it's going to go trying to get all three kids to sit still and smile, but I'm going to give it a try! Clarissa really doesn't enjoy having her picture taken at all and I can never get her to sit still while I take them, so it's going to take a miracle to pull it off. Cross your fingers for a Christmas miracle, I'll be back later with the results!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A little more info

I'm posting from my iPod so this will have to be short, but I wanted to update about the exchange student.

They came over and did a home visit yesterday and gave us more information. All the kids that come over choose an American name to go by because it's easier for people to pronounce and our student has chosen to go by the name Melissa. Super cute!

She'll be here the afternoon of the 30th which is a week from today! We're super excited about it! She'll be staying until February 7th which means she'll be here for Clarissa's birthday! I'm really happy about that because we're doing a traditional Korean first birthday ceremony and I think she'll be able to help me a bit!

While she's here they request that we do a few specific activites with her so that she has an opportunity to visit the mountains and play in the snow. One of the places they've asked us to take her is up in the mountains near here where we love to go so we've decided to rent a cabin for the weekend in the middle of January and we'll go up there and go sledding and do some fun activities for the weekend. I'm really looking forward to that!

I think this will be a really fun experience for our family. January is usually cold and dark and long around here and I think this will definitely shake things up a bit!

Life is going pretty good around here these days. Clarissa is starting to stand and say a few words and she's quickly turning from a baby to a toddler! I can't believe that she's going to be one in just a little over a month! Time is really flying by.

We've been pretty busy getting ready for Christmas, I'll make another post about that with photos soon!

Fun times at our house!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Monday, December 21, 2009

YAY!!!

I just got the call that we've been accepted as a host family for the Korea exchange program!!!! We have a third grade girl coming to stay with us for the month of January!

I know everyone in my comments were shocked that people were sending their third graders to a foreign country, but knowing a little about Korean culture it didn't surprise me a whole lot. From what I have observed it seems like Korean parents encourage their kids to be more independent than American parents do. Children in Korea are also strongly encouraged to learn English and most parents really want their kids to spend some time in the US. It does seem really young to send a child out into the world alone, but they're well supervised and they're background checking us and doing a home visit and everything, so they're careful about who they're letting the kids stay with. It's like a mini adoption homestudy again, lol. We're pros at this by now!

I'm so ridiculously excited about this!! It will be an awesome cultural experience for our family. Plus I think we're probably a good home for a Korean child to visit since we're all pretty obsessed with Korea around here! :)

I don't know any specifics yet, but I'll be learning more in the next few days!

YAY!! :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

So excited!

Josh just came home from school with a note to the parents saying that they're looking for families to host Korean elementary school children for the month of January!!!! I think I know of a family who would absolutely LOVE that! :)

I immediately called the number on the note and practically begged them to pick us, lol. The problem is that ideally they're looking for a family with a third grader because that's the grade the kids are in, and we have a first and a fourth grader. I want to do it REEALLY bad. I was blabbering on like a moron to the guy about how we just adopted from Korea and how I'm familiar with Korean culture and blah blah blah and I'm sure the guy thought I was insane, lol.

Anyway, we're not their ideal candidate because we don't have a third grader, but they need to get people lined up in the next day or two and they may not find families with third graders so he took my info down and said that he'd call me in the next few days and let me know.

It's ridiculous how much I want to do it, I can't stop talking about it to Shawn. He just left to go Christmas shopping so and I'm not done talking about it so I'm blogging about it instead. :)

I really REALLY want to have a third grader from Korea in my house for a month! It would be such a great cultural experience for my kids and so much fun to have someone from Korea here! We're a good house to come to, I can make bulgogi and bibimbop when they get homesick and make them laugh with my poor Korean language skills! :)

So cross your fingers that they choose us! I should know in a couple of days!

YAY! :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

YAY! :) I love this time of the year. Yesterday we had our first real snowfall of the year and then last night we decorated the Christmas tree.

We tried to decorate the tree on Sunday night, but after getting out the Christmas tree and finding that half of the lights aren't working (it's a pre-lit tree), we decided that we needed a new tree. Every year we get that tree out and fight to get the lights working and this time Shawn fought with it for a while and lost so we decided that it was time to retire it and find a new tree.

So Monday I looked around and found a great replacement and we had a much more sucessful tree decorating experience last night!

Last year when we were packing up the Christmas decorations I commented that the next time we opened the Christmas decoration box Clarissa would be here, so getting that box out of the basement and opening it up last night with Clarissa was really fun for me. Clarissa was on my mind a lot last Christmas, so having her here with us is just making the holidays that much sweeter.

We have a Christmas tradition in our family of buying an ornament each year that signifies something significant that happened that year. Sometimes we buy an ornament from a fun family vacation, we have one that signifies moving into our new house, one from when I was pregnant with Matthew, etc. I always make sure that they have the year on them so that we always remember all the fun events in our family. Shawn and I actually went to a company Christmas party together when we were dating and they gave everyone a dated Christmas tree ornament at that party and that's what started the whole thing. So we have ornaments going back to 1996, the year before we got married.

One of my favorite ornaments is a really cheap, ugly looking metal Christmas tree with 1998 engraved on it. In 1998 we were super poor college students and I managed to scrounge up a few dollars to buy an ornament. I couldn't find a dated ornament cheap enough and then I finally ran across a display at a store that offered engraved ornaments for about $4 or something. I decided that was going to have to work so I picked out a Christmas tree ornament and took it to the employee to have the date engraved on it and he handed me the engraving tool and said that he couldn't engrave them, we needed to do it ourselves! It's truly an ugly ornament, lol.

Over the years our financial situation has changed and I can afford to buy nicer ornaments now, but that ugly Christmas tree ornament from 1998 is still one of my favorites. It reminds me of how far we've come and it brings back really fun memories of the early years of our marriage.

So anyway, it's always a really fun tradition in our family to put the ornaments on the Christmas tree and tell the stories of the ornaments as we put them on. The tree is a reflection of our family's history and as the years go buy it's fun to add to the story.

This year I'm looking for a nice ornament that has Korea on it because I didn't think to look for a Korean Christmas tree ornament while we were there, although I doubt one would have been easy to find. I'm also having one made that signifies Clarissa coming home. Telling the story of those ormanents will always be really fun. This is a Christmas that I don't think we'll ever forget.

After we got the tree up we picked up hamburgers from our favorite burger place and we came back and watched the Phinius and Ferb Christmas special. That show cracks us up. I think that Christmas episode is going to become a yearly classic in our family.

It was a pretty great night at our house. At one point I was sitting on the couch with Clarissa watching Shawn and the boys adjust some of the last ornaments on the tree and I just had a moment where I looked around and just felt an overwhelming feeling of love and appreciation for my family, for Clarissa being home, for Shawn and for my life. It was just one of those truly perfect moments that I never want to forget.

Here are a few photos from last night:






In Clarissa news, she's started pulling up on furniture constantly in the past couple of days. I had seen her do it a few times in the past, but she had to really work hard to do it. Suddenly she's popping up with no problem! The problem is that once she stands up she's afraid to get back down, lol. So she'll pull up on the couch and stand there for a few minutes, all proud of herself for standing up, and then she'll decided that she's done standing and she'll start crying for someone to come sit her back down. Funny kid!

Now that she can stand she's able to reach things that she couldn't reach before and that's been something to adjust to! I left the room for a couple of minutes yesterday to answer the door and when I came back she was shredding a magazine that I had left on the couch.

Her other new thing is talking on the phone. She loves to pretend that she's talking on the phone! She thinks everything is a telephone, especially TV remotes. She'll put it to her ear and start babbling and sometimes she'll hand it to me so that I can talk. It's super cute! The funny thing is that when I actually put the real phone to her ear and there is someone on the other end, she wants nothing to do with it. Shawn calls sometimes during the day and tries to talk to her and she won't put the phone to her ear. She just stares at it and tries to figure out how daddy got into that tiny phone. I love that kid. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So much to do, so little time!

Wow, my blog is a ghost town lately, isn't it?! I've been so ridiculously busy lately that I feel like I'm constantly playing catch up. I have a big to-do list of things that aren't getting done and updating my blog keeps making that list!

But I can't complain because life is going pretty well around here these days. We left Thursday morning and drove four hours to my hometown to spend Thanksgiving at my moms house. Clarissa did amazingly well on the trip! I was nervous about our first out of town trip with all three kids, but it went well. Clarissa is a good car traveller, thank goodness! It helps that there were two goofy brothers back there with her who love to make her laugh. :)

We had a really fun time catching up with friends and family for a few days and on Sunday morning we made the trip back home. I have a few stories from the trip that I intended to blog about, but time keeps getting away from me and I never had the chance. I'll try to get to them, but I still have four days worth of Korea trip that I still haven't gotten around to blogging about, so I'll have to put it in my mental file of things to discuss later. :)

While we were at my moms house I took a few silly pictures of Clarissa that I put up on my dropshots page. (www.dropshots.com/wenders11) She found a squishy ball in my moms toys that she really liked and she kept crawling around with it in her mouth like it was a big pacifier or something, lol. She's such a funny kid, she makes me laugh all the time. I also posted a photo that I took this morning when I was fooling around with my camera.

When we got home on Sunday it was time to get back to work! The boys were out of school for the whole month of October for their schools track break and Monday they went back. As much as I loved having them home it was kind of nice on Monday morning to be able to get back on a schedule around here. Clarissa sure misses the boys during the day though. She gets SO excited when they come home from school!

Monday evening we had our first post placement interview with our social worker. Before we can go to court and legally adopt Clarissa we have to have post placement interviews with our social worker at two months and four months and then we have to submit a report ourselves at six months. Once all of that is done they'll give us the go ahead to legally adopt her, probably around the end of April.

I was a little nervous about the social worker visit, although I have no idea why. Things are going really well with Clarissa so it's not like she'd have anything negative to report, but I think in the back of my mind I just keep worrying that someone is going to tell us that they've changed their mind we have to give Clarissa back or something. I tend to do that in my life whenever things are going really well. I find myself just waiting for someone to pull the rug out from under me. The chance of that happening in this case is pretty much zero (the birth parents rights were irrevocably severed when our plane left Korea and the agency wouldn't remove Clarissa unless there was abuse or something), but I'll feel much better when April rolls around and the judge declares her ours forever.

Our social worker is really nice and we always enjoy having her here. The visit was really quick and painless. She just asked us several questions about how things are going and then took a quick look at Clarissa's bedroom and that was it!

Oh, the sweetest thing happened while she was here! I had explained to Josh and Matthew about why the social worker was coming and that she was just making sure that everyone was happy so that we can work towards having Clarissa legally adopted. I thought I explained it well, but aparently what Matthew got out of the explaination was that the social worker was coming over to decide if we could keep Clarissa or not. I didn't realize that and he didn't say anything about it, but when the social worker got up to leave he got a really worried look on his face and said "do we get to keep Clarissa?". Bless his sweet little heart, he had been worried the whole time that the social worker was going to take Clarissa with her when she left. The social worker assured him that we got to keep Clarissa and he was very relieved. :) I take it as a good sign of Matthews adjustment that he didn't offer to pack Clarissa's suitcase and help her with her coat, lol.

The rest of this week has just been full of meetings, apppointments and other things not interesting enough to blog about. I've been super busy every day this week and today is the first day that I haven't had anything scheduled. So me and Clarissa have been hanging out around the house enjoying the fact that we don't have anywhere to be today.

And speaking of Clarissa (aren't I always?), tomorrow she'll officially be 10 months old. Time is flying by so fast! She has changed a lot since she came home a month and a half ago. She's army crawling around the house like crazy, she pulls up on things, she has learned to wave and clap and as of today if I ask her where my nose is, she points to it. Super cute! I sometimes forget that she's had to learn to process a whole other language because she's done amazingly well with it. I can tell that she understands lots of things that I say to her. It's amazing to me how quickly babies learn and adapt. Watching her learn and grow has been a joy. I sometimes still can't believe that she's finally here.

Last night I was giving Clarissa a bath and Matthew was in the bathroom with us and I said something about Korea and Matthew said "Sometimes I forget she came from Korea! I think that she came out of your tummy!" It feels that way to me too sometimes. The other day I was watching The Office and when the theme song came on Clarissa perked up like she recognized it (she probably does, I'm a little bit of an Office addict!). and for a split second I though "I wonder if she heard that song when I was pregnant with her...". I had to stop and remind myself that I didn't give birth to her, lol.

So yeah, I'd have to say that things are pretty good here these days. I'm incredibly busy, but happy. It is driving me crazy that I haven't blogged the rest of my Korea trip yet! I am going to get around to it, I promise! I need to get it all written down while it's all still fresh in my mind. I'm in the process of putting together an adoption book for Clarissa to read later and I want all of that in there.

OK, so I guess that's my update for now! I vow to try harder to blog more often! :)