Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Whites

I'm excited to share the annual Christmas Eve photo!

And here is the collage of Christamases Past:

Merry Christmas!


I'm not supposed to open these until tomorrow!

It's almost Christmas!!

I admit it, I love Christmas to a ridiculous degree. I love it like a five year old loves it. Christmas was a huge event in my house growing up and it was the source of many of my fondest childhood memories. Going to bed on Christmas Eve with our new pajamas that were a Christmas Eve tradition, waking up at the crack of dawn with butterflies in my stomach and then crawling into bed with my brother and sister while we watched the clock and waited for it to be the magical hour that our parents said we could wake them up to open presents, running out to see what Santa brought and then spending Christmas day playing games and eating way too much candy...I loved every second of it.

I'm all grown up now but I still feel like a kid every year at Christmas. I still go to bed with new pajamas on Christmas Eve. I make sure that everyone in the family has new pajamas for Christmas each year. My husband is always amused that I still wake up super early on Christmas morning and watch the clock with butterflies in my stomach, waiting for it to be the magical hour that I can wake my kids up and tell them to go downstairs and open presents. :) I still eat way too much candy and spend the day playing games and enjoying family time. Holiday traditions are really important to me. Every Christmas is exactly the same here and we all really look forward to it.

So here it is, 8am on the day before Christmas and the butterflies in my stomach have already started! The day before Christmas always seems like the longest day of the year. We have some fun things planned today that should take up some time. We're actually watching season 15 of Amazing Race as a family (we missed that season when it aired) and we have three episodes to finish up today. We have a game tournament planned for this afternoon and whoever wins gets to wear the Santa hat tomorrow morning and pass out the presents from under the tree. Tonight we will open our new pajamas, get hot chocolate and blankets and drive around and look at Christmas lights, which is Shawn's favorite tradition. Then we'll come home, have the annual photo shoot of the kids in front of the Christmas tree and then we'll sprinkle reindeer food in the front yard and put the Santa Key out so that Santa can get into our house (he doesn't go down the chimney because we have a gas fireplace with a glass front! :)). Then I'll tuck all the kids into bed, wait for them to fall asleep and Santa can finally do his job! If Christmas is my favorite day of the year, Christmas eve might just be my second favorite.

Shawn always takes several days off at Christmas so that we can spread our family fun out over several days. He took off yesterday and he doesn't have to go back until Tuesday. Yesterday we had a lot of fun watching Amazing Race and doing some other fun family things. Then last night we got on Skype and had a webcam visit with Clarissa's foster parents and my friend Jinha, which was really nice. It's nice to be able to show Clarissa to her foster parents. I send them pictures regularly, but they hadn't seen her live in a while, so that was really fun. There is a language barrier so all we can really do is say hi and wave, but we both manage to get our point across. They sang Clarissa her favorite Korean childrens song and we showed them how she can dance and do taekwondo kicks and it was a good time. They're really special to us, I'm glad that we've been able to maintain that relationship. They cry everytime they see Clarissa. I know how much it means to them to be able watch her grow and I'm glad that we've been able to do that for them.

Well, it looks like I killed about 20 minutes writing a blog post, so that means that we're 20 minutes closer to Christmas! I think now I'll go downstairs, make breakfast and get the party started. We have games to play, Amazing Race to finish and Christmas treats to eat. It should be a fun day!:)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Letter to me

I'm trying to grab a few minutes of peace and quiet while the kids are playing happily and I was sitting here listening to Pandora and "Letter To Me" by Brad Paisley came on. I like that song, it always makes me think and when I think I blog, so here I am. :)

So the song is about how he wishes he could write a letter to his teenage self and give him some advice now that he's grown up. Don't you wish you could do that? I would love to go back and have a talk with my teenage self, as a newlywed, a first time mom, during the adoption process, etc.

I would have a lot to tell my teenage self. Listen to your parents because they aren't as dumb as you think they are. Cherish the friendships you have and don't take them from granted. Take fewer fluff classes in high school and take AP English and a foreign language instead. "Forever" means approximately a year and a half to a teenage boy. Time heals a broken heart. Don't wish that high school would hurry up and be over, instead take the time to enjoy the last few years of true freedom you'll have for a while. Spend time with your dad while you still can.

As I newlywed I would tell myself to realize what a sweet time of life that was. Stop wishing for a big house and be glad that your little apartment only takes you a half hour to clean. Don't wish those poor college student days away, you'll miss them someday. Enjoy sleeping in on Saturday mornings. Those days will end soon. Take it easy on the student loans, it takes forever to pay them back.

As a first time mom I would tell myself to relax and stop worrying so much. Buy a better camera and take more pictures. Don't worry if the house is a mess, just snuggle that sweet baby. The sleepless nights won't last forever, you WILL sleep again.

During the adoption process I would tell myself to be patient, the wait will totally be worth it. Stop obsessing that something is going to wrong, it all turns out fine. Don't give up on learning Korean so quickly. You'll wish you knew more Korean when you get to Korea. Take more video in Korea. Sleep while you can, you won't be doing much of that for a while.

So it makes me wonder what my future self would tell my 35 year old self. What am I doing now that my future self would warn me about or tell me to change? I'd probably tell myself to blog more! Enjoy your kids while you can, they grow up too fast. Slow down and enjoy the moments instead of trying to constantly get to the next thing. For petes sake, eat more vegetables. :) (I've been telling myself that one for years.)

It puts things into perspective. We sometimes get so busy with life that we forget to slow down and have fun. I sometimes get so caught up in worrying about the future that I forget to enjoy the present.

So my goal is to enjoy the present. Last night Mattthew invited us in to the living room to hear a song that he made up and at first I was a little hesitant because I was in the middle of something. But I went to hear his song and it turned into Clarissa singing a song and then Josh singing a song and then the whole family singing songs until we laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. That was a sweet memory that I don't want to forget. I'm glad I took the time in my day to stop to sing a song with my kids. I hope I can live my life in such a way that my future self doesn't wish she could go back and point out a hundred things I should have done differently.

And that's what I would say if I could write a letter to me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm still alive!

I feel like such a slacker when it comes to this blog lately. I keep meaning to come update it but when I sit down to make a post I realize that I don't really have a lot to say except the same stuff I say every time. Life is good, the kids are busy with school, taekwondo and scouts and Clarissa is as cute and sweet as ever! That about sums it up!

Really, life has been pretty routine lately. I don't have a lot of exciting stories to share. I actually kind of feel like I've been in a bit of a rut lately. I've been feeling kind of antsy, like I need to shake things up around here or I need an adventure of some sort but we're so busy with regular life that I don't have time for adventures. These days I chase a very active toddler around all day and then collapse into bed at night.

The past couple of weeks I've been busy trying to get ready for Christmas. Thank goodness for online shopping or I'd never get it all done! is my best friend in December. I hear that Santa might be bringing Clarissa a big play kitchen and I'm dying for her to see it. A friend of ours has one and she always runs straight for it when we go over there so I think she's going to love it. Rumor has it that he's bringing the boys some fun things too, but big kids who can read my blog are just going to have to wait until Christmas to find out what they are! :)

This weekend my mom and stepdad are coming to visit, which will be fun. The kids are excited to spend some time with their grandparents. Hopefully we can find some fun activities to do with them while they're here. I need to spend some time tomorrow getting the house all Christmasy for their arrival.

Matthew is being tested for the gifted program at school over the next couple of days and I'm anxious to hear the results. We had a great meeting with his teacher and the principal the other day. I'm really proud of my boys. They love school.

Clarissa is starting to talk more and more. A couple of days ago I got my first spontanious "I love you", which seriously melted my heart. I was laying down with her trying to get her to take a nap and right before she fell asleep she looked at me and said it. She's repeated it when we've said it before, but she's never said it on her own. I love that kid. She completely wears me out most days but I absolutely adore her and every cute word that comes out of her mouth.

I've said it a million times, but life is good here. Insanely busy, but good. I'm hoping to take some Christmasy pictures this weekend. If it works I will be back to share them. Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

It's not Thanksgiving yet but I have a feeling that I won't have time to post tomorrow so I wanted to get a Thanksgiving post in now. I have a lot to be thankful for this year and it's something I've been thinking a lot about today.

In light of recent events, I'm especially grateful for my grandparents and the wonderful examples they've been to me in my life. I have so many happy memories of spending time with them when I was growing up and those memories are especially precious to me now.

I'm grateful for good friends. We just got back from a little pre-Thanksgiving party with the two families that we're so close to. I really do feel like those people are family. We won't be with our extended family for Thanksgiving and I'm sad about that, but tonight for a little while I got to feel like I was spending the holiday with family. I'm so grateful for those two women and the bond that we have. They might not be blood relatives but to me they're my sisters.

I'm thankful for my husband. I'm not always the easiest person to live with and he has an endless supply of patience. No matter what happens in life I have my best friend by my side and that's a wonderful bessing.

I'm thankful for my kids. I have the three most amazing children on the planet. I love to watch them learn and grow and I'm proud to be their mom.

I'm thankful for my religion and the peace it brings to my life. I would be a much different person without religion in my life.

I'm thankful for a million other blessings in my life. Life is not always perfect, but I have what I need and people around me I love and I'm grateful for all of it.

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sad day

My grandpa passed away this morning. We knew it was coming, but it still hit me pretty hard. My grandparents are pretty much my favorite people in the world. My grandpa was funny and kind and he adored my grandma.

My favorite thing about my grandpa was that he would make friends everywhere he went. We used to go camping with them occasionally when I was a kid and he would walk around to each campsite and make friends with anyone he could find. He was gentle and loving and everything you could want in a grandpa.

My heart hurts for my grandma. She's a strong woman but I know she's going to miss him a lot. My grandparents were just two peas in a pod. You never saw one without the other. Together they raised seven children, had over 40 grandchildren served two missions for our church and spent their retirement years serving others and being the glue that keeps our big family together.

I love my grandpa and I'm going to miss him a lot. But I know that he has more important work to do in the next life and I'm grateful for peace that knowledge brings. I'm also grateful that I got to see him a few months ago and hug him one last time.

I don't know what the funeral plans are yet but we may be leaving town in a few days. The weather in my hometown is really awful right now, so a lot of our travel plans will depend on that.

For now I'm going to go give my kids some extra love and be extra grateful for my family. Hug the people you love extra tight and tell them how much you love them. Life goes by too fast.

Friday, November 19, 2010


This week has gone by ridiculously slowly for some reason. I'm really happy that it's finally Friday! Life is pretty boring around here right now. The kids are still on track break, so I'm mostly just trying to keep them entertained. I'm really looking forward to next week because Shawn only has to work for two days and then he's off for the rest of the week for Thanksgiving. It's always more fun around here when he's home! We'll hopefully be doing some fun family activities together next week.

Tomorrow afternoon Shawn and I are going to see Harry Potter, which I'm super excited about! We've seen every Harry Potter in the theater on opening weekend and I've been worried that we were going to have to miss this one because we still don't really leave Clarissa much, but my good friend offered to swap babysitting so that we could go. Clarissa loves to play at her house and my friend is amazing with her so I feel comfortable leaving her for a few hours. This will actually be the first movie that we've seen in the theater since Clarissa came home last year, and it will actually be our first time leaving her for longer than an hour. Shawn and I haven't been out on a real date in over a year. It's definitely time.

The other thing we've been working on this week is getting all the paperwork together to apply for Clarissa's certificate of citizenship. When Clarissa was legally adopted by us she automatically became an American citizen but we still have to file this big annoying packet of paperwork with USCIS to have her status officially changed. It's not something that necessarily needed to be done right away and it's expensive and complicated so we've really been dragging our feet about it.

We'd still be dragging our feet about it except that we got a notice letting us know that the cost to file the paperwork is going up almost $200 next week. That was enough to kick us into gear, so this week we've been getting all that information together. We had to fill out pages of information and submit copies of documents such as her green card, Korean birth certificate, decree of adoption, etc. and then we had to march on down to the Department of Homeland Security for the third time since we started the adoption process and turn it in and pay them a ridiculous amount of money. It was kind of a hassle and I'm really glad that we've offically made our last trip to the DOHS. Every time we go there it costs us hundreds of dollars. I really don't understand why it costs so much to file government paperwork.

So Clarissa has been home over a year and we really still aren't done with the paperwork. Now that her COC has been filed we still have to get her a social security number and a passport and then once we get her COC in the mail we have to send a copy of it to the adoption agency so that we can get back a finalization deposit we paid them. THEN we will officially be done with adoption paperwork. I swear I think I've filled out more paperwork in the past two years than most people do in their entire lives. TOTALLY worth it, but still a pain.

In other Clarissa news, she's talking up a storm. We can't always understand her, but she sure likes to tell us long stories in toddler talk! She sits on my lap and with a very serious expression on her face she goes on and on about something that appears to be very important. I don't know what it is, but I really enjoy having conversations with her. :) She is loving having the boys home. Josh and Matthew are such fantastic brothers. They're so cute with her and I really enjoy watching them interact with her.

Life is pretty good these days. I feel like my blog is boring because there's not anything especially exciting happening around here, but after the last few crazy years getting through this adoption process no excitement is a good thing!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rainy Sunday

I'm sitting here listening to pouring rain outside my window and I'm loving it! We don't get a lot of rain here and even when it does rain it's usually fairly light, so I love it when we get really heavy rainstorms. It's been a nice quiet afternoon here. I just curled up with Clarissa and we read a bunch of books, which she loves! It's so cute to watch her jump off my lap and go find more books and then come back and snuggle with me for more stories. It totally made up for the fact that she was a total bear in church today! :)

The boys just started their track break from school so they'll be home for the entrire month of November. Life is more hectic with all three kids home all day but I'm actually looking forward to it. I like having the boys around during the day. I'm starting to get the holiday bug and looking forward to maybe doing a few holiday related projects. I've gotten past my annual holiday pity party and now I'm actually looking forward to staying home for Thanksgiving this year. The boys are getting old enough now that our own family traditions are really fun and I'm looking forward to spending some fun family time together. Shawn will be taking some time off at Thanksgiving so we'll have several days to just relax and have fun.

I really can't believe that it's already time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas! I've got to get myself in gear and start doing some Christmas shopping. I used to be really on the ball with Christmas shopping. I used to shop all year and hide things away and I would have easily have been finished with my Christmas shopping by now, but these days I'm not as on the ball as I once was. Having a toddler in the house again has shifted my priorities a bit! With the boys home to help entertain her this month I'm hoping to get moving on some of those things. Thank goodness for internet shopping!

So there's the update on our family. We're having an awesome rainstorm, the kids are home, fun holidays are up ahead and life is good. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We made a difference to this one

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a little girl picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the little girl, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The girl replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

The man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the little girl bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, she said…

”I made a difference for that one.”

I ran across that story the other day and it really touched me. November is National Adoption Month, and I've been thinking a lot about our adoption journey today. The picture on the left is a photo I took of Clarissa shortly before we left Korea. This picture brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it. I remember her waking up next to us so confused and scared that morning and how serious that little face was as I took her picture. I can see the fear and confusion so clearly in this photo and it breaks my heart. I have to admit that I had a moment that morning where I asked myself if we were doing the right thing. So many emotions went through my head as we prepared to take that scared little girl from the only life she had known. Watching her grieve was the hardest thing I've ever done. Clarissa wasn't the only one scared that morning.

A year later I can confidently tell you that we absolutely did the right thing. Today I was snuggling with a confident, loving, giggly toddler and kissing her sweet face and I thought back to that morning that we left Korea. I am so grateful that God allowed us to be her parents. It's still amazing to me that we went halfway around the world and came home with this precious little person who fits into our family like she's always been here. Adoption has been a huge blessing in our lives.

It's been over three years since the idea of adoption first popped into my head one morning. When I first started researching it it seemed impossible. So much money, so much seemed so complicated. But one step at a time we climbed that mountain and I'll be forever grateful that we did.

There are so many children out there who need loving homes and I wish that I could bring them all to my house and give them kisses and a warm bed. I can't save all the starfish in the ocean, but I'm really grateful that we were able to make a difference for one of them.

So in honor of National adoption month I just want to say what an amazing blessing adoption has been in our lives If you've ever considered adoption or want more info, here are a few links to get you started: (our wonderful agency)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We're having a fun Halloween weekend at our house! Friday afternoon the kids put their costumes on and we went trick or treating at Shawn's pharmacy, which is kind of a tradition. His coworkers spoil the kids on Halloween, it's always really fun for everyone. Then that night we went to a really fun Halloween party at the kids taekwondo school. It was for all the taekwondo students and their families and there were a ton of people there! We ate lots of food, the kids played games, there was a costume contest (our boys were finalists in their hanboks, but didn't win) and we all had a great time. It was a really great night, Master Lee and his wife put a lot of work into that fun event.

Saturday morning we attempted to go to Boo At The Zoo, which is a fun event at the zoo, but when we got over there I think every single person in the entire city was packed into the zoo, there was no place to park and it really didn't look like it was going to be that fun with so many people so we changed our minds and headed home to do other fun family things instead.

We were actually going to go to a Halloween party at our church in the evening, but I've got some sort of stomach virus and Clarissa wasn't really in the mood to go out so we voted to stay home instead and have a fun family movie night. We ordered pizza, let the kids eat way too much candy and we watched scary movies (well, kid friendly scary movies!). It was really fun, I'm kind of glad that we decided to do that instead.

Today we've continued the party and we've had a fun watching more movies and spending time together. We let the kids watch Ghostbusters today, which was fun. I absolutely love to watch movies from my childhood with them. We've had a good time.

It's been fun spreading the holiday out for a few days. I'll be kind of bummed tomorrow when the kids go back to school and life goes back to normal. It's been a nice weekend.

With Halloween being on a Sunday there isn't going to be a lot of door to door trick or treating going on this year, so we didn't get very elaborate with the kids costumes. The boys decided to wear their hanboks to the party they had the other night and I dressed Clarissa in the cute ladybug costume she wore last year. It was a little too big for her last year but it looked super cute on her this year! She didn't cooperate for many pictures but here are a few. She was pretty proud of her costume, she didn't want to take it off! :)

Monday, October 25, 2010


I decided to get in a quick blog post while Clarissa is taking a nap. I'm kind of in a funk today and in the mood to write, although I guess I don't have anything specific to write about.

I'm in my annual holiday funk. It's the time of the year when we start figuring out our plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I have my annual meltdown about family issues. My family situation is a little complicated and while I've learned to deal with it most of the year, the beginning of the holiday season always gets me down a bit. I get incredibly homesick for a home and a past that isn't there anymore and it's hard. I miss my dad a lot around the holidays and trying to figure out what we're going to do for Thanksgiving is always a reminder that my family is much different than it used to be. So I mope around about it for a week, have a good cry and then put myself back together and move on until next year when I repeat the same thing all over again, even though I swear to myself that I'm not going to.

So that's where I am today. It's cold and dark outside and I'm feeling a little cold and dark inside. I've been mopey today. I tried to work on a few projects earlier but my heart isn't really in it today. Fortunately I have Clarissa around during the day to snuggle with and make me smile, which always helps. She's been my little buddy today.

The other good thing about today is that a friend brought me a pie as a thank you for letting her borrow my camera and I haven't been able to stay out of it all day. Chocolate pie will make anything feel better. :)

Tomorrow is Josh's school program where he is singing a solo and I'm really looking forward to that. He's really excited about it.

On Thursday I have a new friend coming over who is an adult Korean adoptee! We were introduced by the head of a local Korean organization and we were amused to find out that we've met before. She used to be a dental hygenist at my dentists office! Anyway, we've been e-mailing back and forth about our love of all things Korean and I'm looking forward to getting together with her and her cute kids.

So good things are coming up this week that will pull me out of my funk. I'll have my little pity party and then I'll shake it off, stop looking back and keep moving forward. Better days are ahead. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Well, obviously I didn't make another Korea blog post like I was going to last week. Clarissa's one year mark came and went on Friday and I was determined to get a blog post in and it never happened. My days keep flying by faster than I can keep up with them these days.

Anyway, almost a week late I'm here to say that Clarissa has now offically been home for a year! Yay! :) I'm having a hard time comprehending that it's been a year. It really did go by ridiculously quickly. But it's nice to look back and see how far we've come. Clarissa is doing really amazing. She's healthy and happy and she has us all completely wrapped around her little finger. She's still a terrible sleeper, but we're working on that. She's such a busy kid that she really hates it when she has to take a break to sleep! This week I'm researching melatonin for kids. If you have any experience with it, I'd love to hear it.

This morning as the kids were walking out the door to go to school she said "bye brothers!". She isn't putting very many sentences together yet and that's the first time I've heard her say that! It was really cute, I love it when she surprises us with new words. She is so in love with her brothers and the feeling is mutual. I love to watch them together.

Last Thursday the boys had parent teacher conferences. I'm taking one mom bragging paragraph to say that I was really proud to sit down with their teachers and hear how great they're doing this year. Matthew's teacher is requesting that he get tested for the gifted program, something we went through with Josh a few years ago. Plus Josh tried out for a music program a couple of weeks ago that the fifth grade is putting on and they gave him a solo! He's singing the first verse of "Lean On Me"" at the program in a few weeks. I'm really proud of my boys, they're such great kids.

This weekend we're hoping to get in a trip to the pumpkin patch and I'm really looking forward to that! Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the leaves, the pumpkins, the halloween decorations, the weather...I love all of it. Our subdivision has a fall related name and when the houses were built everyone was required to put trees in their front yard that would produce pretty leaves in the fall. So I love driving down our street in the fall and seeing all the pretty colors on the trees. I'm always kind of bummed when fall is over and all the pretty leaves are gone!

For now it's time to think about dinner and getting our evening routine going. The kids are at a church activity and will be home soon. Time to get off the computer and go be the mom!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Korea revisited

I didn't get around to posting yesterday, but here I am today with another Korea flashback post!

I've actually been sitting here for the past hour reading my blog posts from last October. It brings back fantastic memories, I'm so glad I wrote so much down. It was really fun to go back and read about our first couple of weeks at home with Clarissa and see how far we've come. Life has changed a lot over the past year!

A year ago today we went to church in Korea with Jin-Ha, we visited the border of North and South Korea (called the DMZ) and we visited a dairy farm in the cutest little rural town in Korea. I think that was probably my very favorite day in Korea.

One of my favorite experiences was visiting the DMZ. I never in my life thought that I would be standing at the border of South Korea, staring into North Korea. You hear so much about North Korea in the news and I never thought that I'd actually be looking at it! It might be a boring thing to visit for some people but I'm fascinated by the history of North and South Korea, so to me it was super interesting. You can't see much of it from the border, the area around the border is hilly and wooded, but it was still interesting.

One thing we were extremely lucky to do in Korea was to spend so much time with Clarissa and her foster mother. Most people only meet the foster mother at the adoption agency and only see their baby once at the agency before they go pick them up for good and take them home. We were extremely lucky that Jin-Ha (my friend in Korea, for those of you who weren't here last year) met the foster mother before we went to Korea (in a secret meeting that I wasn't really allowed to talk about at the time!!!) and they became friends, so we got to spend most of our week in Korea with Clarissa, her foster mother and Jin-Ha. We got to visit the foster mothers home and get to know her, and I'm really grateful for that. We've actually kept in touch since we've come home. I e-mail her photos about once a month and we've even Skyped with webcams a couple of times so that she could see Clarissa. I'm grateful for that relationship. It has worked out wonderfully for everyone.

So today I thought I'd share some photos that I never got around to posting last year. I took a bunch of great photos of Korea and then I got so busy with Clarissa when we got home that I never had time to post them and I eventually kind of forgot about it. I will try to get back tomorrow and post some more if I get a chance.

Enjoy! (by the way, that's North Korea behind Clarissa in the first picture.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Our first meeting

A year ago today I met Clarissa for the first time. I will never forget how amazing it was to hold her for the first time! She wasn't super excited about us, but we were instantly in love with her! Meeting her foster parents and seeing how much she was loved was awesome. I am so glad that we decided to travel to Korea instead of having her escorted to the US like I originally thought we'd do. Actually getting to see where she had been living and thank the wonderful people who had loved her so much was wonderful. Even if the trip had been a disaster otherwise, it would have been worth it to go just for that. I'm so grateful to her wonderful foster mother for all that she did for Clarissa.

Here are a few photos of our first meeting. It makes me smile to look at these! The first picture is of me right before they brought her in. There were some SERIOUS butterflies in my stomach!!!

What a wonderful day. I can't wait to show those photos to Clarissa when she's old enough to understand.
I'll be back with more photos tomorrow. For now we're off to taekwondo to watch the boys test for their green belts!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A year ago today

A year ago today we got on an airplane and flew halfway across the world to meet our beautiful Clarissa. A year ago today was the beginning of a wonderful journey and I'll be thinking about it a lot this week and remembering all the amazing experiences we had.

I realize that I never finished telling all the stories of our amazing trip, but I'm planning on revisiting it over the next few days. I have pictures I never shared and new stories to share, so check back.

One memory that stands out to me from the beginning of our adventure is how freakin' SCARED I was when we left the house to go to the airport. I was scared to fly, scared to go to a foreign country, scared to leave my boys, scared to come back with a baby who had no idea who we were...I don't think I've ever been as overwhelmed with emotion in my life. A friend drove us to the airport and I cried all the way there. I remember telling Shawn in the car that I decided I'd changed my mind about this whole adoption thing, lol.

I wish I could go back and talk to myself, knowing what I know now. That trip was probably the moat amazing week of my entire life. If I could rewind time and do it again I would do it in a heartbeat. All the things I thought were going to be so scary ended up not being scary at all.

I'll be back hopefully tomorrow with more memories and stories of our trip. I'm enjoying reading old blog posts and looking at pictures and remembering that amazing week. Stay tuned! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tutu Cute!

Today I made Clarissa a tutu and it looked so cute on her that we had to do a photo shoot. :) I'm completely giddy about this for two reasons. First of all, I actually MADE something! And it WORKED! I'm not crafty. I have no patience for sewing or anything that resembles sewing. Fortunately I found the instructions for a no-sew tutu so I didn't even have to get out my sewing machine and say naughty words to it for an afternoon before giving up and sending it back to collect dust in the basement where it belongs. :)
Second, for the past year I have been trying like crazy to get cute pictures of Clarissa and I'm almost never sucessful. I've never seen a kid who hates having their picture taken as much as Clarissa! I've gotten some cute ones here and there but most of the time I end up with the back of her head as she runs from the camera.

But today for some reason all the planets aligned, I managed to make something cute, Clarissa was in the mood to have her picture taken and it was cloudy outside, which is the best picture taking weather.

Shawn was home today so we took her to an old train station that has super cute landscaping around it. It's a really popular spot to take pictures in Boise. We let her walk up and down the train tracks and we took a nice walk around the station grounds while I took a million pictures. It was a really fun afternoon and I couldn't wait to get home and start going through the pictures!

I really couldn't be happier with the results. I'm still going through them and playing around with them, but here are a few highlights!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday night

I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging so I wanted to make a blog post before I went to bed tonight but honestly I don't have a whole lot to blog about. Life is pretty uneventful around here lately. I feel like I say that a lot!

The boys are loving school this year. Josh just tried out for a little school play they're doing. He didn't get the part but I was so proud of him for trying. I love his enthusiasm for life. He loves trying new things.

Matthew is doing great in school and making lots of friends. Taekwondo green belt testing is next weekend so this coming week we're going to be spending a lot of time with both boys doing extra practice to make sure they're ready. They have to break a board again, which is always the part they get most nervous about.

Clarissa is growing and getting cuter every day! She's saying more words and generally entertaining us. In two weeks she will officially have been home for a year. I don't know about you, but I think that had to have been the fastest year in history. I have plans to do some more posts about our trip to Korea in the next couple of weeks and revisit some stories and share more photos. I never really got around to sharing all my stories and pictures after Clarissa got home. My life has gotten drastically busier since our sweet Clarissa joined the family!

There's not a whole lot new going on with me these days. I'm actually sitting here tonight feeling kind of melancholy. I don't know why, I feel like I just have a lot on my mind tonight. Thinking about the past, wondering about the future, evaluating my life...I get this way sometimes. It passes. I'm sitting here listening to my melancholy iPod playlist, which is now full of songs from the Glee soundtrack because who doesn't like a little REO Speedwagon and some Broadway ballads when they're feeling melancholy? Ah, Glee. What did I ever do without you?

I really need to go to bed and get some sleep because I think I'm going to try a photoshoot with the kids tomorrow. I'm making some canvas collages for the living room wall and I need one more good updated photo of each kid before I can finish it. Getting Clarissa to sit and pose for a photo is like trying to wrangle a pack of wild monkeys, so we'll see how successful I am! I'll post the results if I'm successful!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Feeling a little knotty :)

Last weekend when we went to the Korean cultural event I learned a little about Korean knotting. I made a knotted bracelet and I was completely fascinated by it.

The art of Korean knotting is called maedeup. It's an ancient art that you can still find all over the place in Korea. I have a bunch of Korean souvineers that have really cool knots on them, including the kids hanboks. I've been fascinated by the beautiful knots ever since I first saw them but they look really complicated. The picture on the left is a good example of something decorated with Korean knots. (It's not mine, by the way. I found it on the internet as an example.) I've seen them on clothing, jewelry, keychains, hair clips, zipper pulls, etc. I love them! There are all different kinds of amazing knots you can do and lots of really pretty things you can do with them.

Anyway, at the Korean event they taught us how to do the very most basic knot and even that one was tricky at first, but it was so fun that now I'm totally hooked! So yesterday I went and bought a book with instructions on how to do several really cool knots and today I've been driving around town trying to find the right supplies. The cord they suggested is ridiculously difficult to find around here, unfortunately. I've examined every type of string in town in the past 24 hours. I've been to bead stores, craft stores, jewelry luck. I finally found some stuff that will work for practice and then I found a website where I can order exactly what I need to make jewelry, but I'm going to have to wait for those supplies to arrive.

So today I'm up to my elbows in string and I'm teaching myself the art of Korean maedeup. It's super tricky and I don't follow written directions very well (Shawn laughed that I'm even attempting to read directions, because I don't read the directions for anything) but I'm slowly figuring it out. The book I got has instructions for several gorgeous knots, including a very complicated series of knots that turns into a dragonfly, which I'm truely fascinated by. We'll see if I can actually produce anything that even slightly resembles a dragonfly. :)

If I should happen to sucessfully create anything I'll be sure to take a picture and post it on my blog. If all I end up with is a pile of tangled string and a few tears, we shall never speak of this again. :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweet Clarissa

I bought Clarissa this t-shirt at the Korean event yesterday and it looks so cute on her that I had to take a picture. :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The best day EVER!! :)

Oh my gosh, we seriously had so much fun today! I've been dying to get home and blog about it!

Last week the grandma of one of the kids at our taekwondo studio gave us a flyer for a Korean cultural event that was happening today. There is an organization called the Idaho Korean Association (IKA) that does events every now and then. That is great news to me because I have been searching high and low for Korean cultural activities in Boise and they've been extremely hard to find. The Korean population here isn't huge and because there's not an adoption agency in Idaho that handles Korean adoptions there are very few Korean adoptees here either. Taekwondo has been almost the only Korean cultural activity I've managed to find.

So getting that flier was like finding treasure and I was REALLY excited about it. The flier said that there would be some cultural activities open to the public from noon to three and then an invitation only dinner at five. This was the first I heard about the IKA and I was super interested in being a part it so that I could be informed of future events so I e-mailed the address on the flier and explained who we are. I got an e-mail back letting me know that the dinner was full and it was too late to sign up but that we were welcome to come to the activities durning the day. That was fine and I've been looking forward to it for days.

Then first thing this morning I got a phone call from the head of the IKA and he said that he had managed to find us a spot at the dinner!! Yay! It was really nice of him to do that, I appreciated it a lot.

So today at noon we went to the hotel that the whole event was being held at. We walked in and there were a bunch of Korean women in hanboks there to greet us and show us where to go. We went into the first room and there were several stations set up. At the first one they gave us Korean post cards and a gorgeous book about Korea that I'm really happy to have. Then we went to the second station and they had hanboks in all different sizes for us to try on. Josh and I both tried one on and we looked fabulous. :) The third station was a craft table where the kids made a Korean coaster that turned out really cute.

Then we went into the next room and they had all sorts of fun things in there! I learned how to make Korean jewelry and hair clips (yay!) while the boys learned paper folding (which we call origami, although that's not the Korean word. I can't remember what they call it in Korean.) and then we all learned how to write our names in Korean and we got to paint it on rice paper. So fun!!

Then we went outside in the courtyard and they had Korean food demonstrations and everyone got to make their own kimbap, which is basically sushi with no fish. It's vegetables and rice wrapped in seaweed. It's pretty good! We also had a few other Korean dishes that were really yummy. We had fun eating noodles with chopsticks!

Then rest of the courtyard was filled with different stations where they were teaching Korean games and music. The kids played a game where they had to throw sticks in a pot and they learned how to play a song on some big drums. We had SO much fun! Every second of it was just awesome.

While we were there we were amused to find that a few people knew who we were. We ran into a woman there who is the mother of one of Master Lee's teenage assistants. We had never met her but her daughter (Master Lee's assistant) apparently talks about us and her mom knew who we were right away when she saw us. She was so nice to us, she was working at the food booth and she snuck us to the front of the line, lol. We felt like VIP's. :) The Korean community here is pretty small and we stand out as being the only cacausian family with a young Korean adopted child, so when people hear that there's an adoptive family, it's obvious that it's us when they see us. Word gets around, I guess. Everyone was SO incredibly nice to us.

So after all those fun festivities we came home briefly, changed into nicer clothes and went back to the hotel for the banquet. It was held in a big banquet hall at the hotel and it was awesome. The events during the day were open to the public but the dinner was just for members of the IKA, so it was mostly Koreans. I feel surprisingly at home in a room full of Koreans, lol. We stick out like a sore thumb a bit, but they all were so friendly and welcoming. I really enjoyed myself and we made some new friends.

Once everyone was settled they had us all stand and they sang the Korean national anthem and then the Star Spangled Banner. I'm a big dork and things like that make me tear up a bit. To see all those Koreans proudly sing their national anthem and then honor the US by singing our anthem was kind of cool. It felt like the olympics. :)

The dinner was delicious and there was a lot of entertainment to go along with it. Before the dinner started they did a really neat presentation. A few years ago the IKA paid for two American Korean war veterans to go back to Korea and they were both at the dinner. They presented them with a video presentation about the Korean war that was really neat. It was kind of a thank you to the American soldiers for how much they helped Korea during the war. It was a really touching video. It talked about how Korea has gone from a country that needed aid to being a prosperous country that provides aid. I thought that was neat. After the video they had the vets stand up and they presented them with plaques that were signed by the president of Korea! Super cool!

Then they had a few guest speakers, including the mayor. There were several community leaders there, which I thought was nice. They served a great dinner and while we ate there were several musical groups that performed traditional Korean songs and dance and then the highlight for the kids-Master Lee and his two assistants came and did a taekwondo demonstration. The kids were super excited and I always love to watch the black belts perform.

We really had an amazing time. I know I keep saying that but the whole thing was just awesome. I feel like we have friends in the Korean community and that makes me happy. When the dinner was over we went out in the courtyard and sat with Master Lee and his assistants and their families and it was nice to feel like part of their group. Half the conversation was in Korean, but they still made us feel like we belonged there! :)

It was a really really really great day. The whole family kept talking in the car on the way home about how much fun we had. Fun is an understatement-it was a truly awesome day. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Goodbye summer, hello fall!

I seriously can't believe that it's September already. This year has gone by scary fast. In about six weeks Clarissa will have been home a year! Crazy.

Life is moving along pretty smoothly here. Friday was Shawn's birthday and we had a really fun day! He took the day off work and we went shopping together for his birthday presents. He wanted new running shoes and running clothes and it was easier for him to pick them out himself, so we had a fun time shopping.

Then in the evening one of my wonderful friends offered to watch the kids so we could go out to dinner. That was huge because it was the first time we officially left Clarissa with someone for any extended amount of time. She has been home for almost a year and we haven't had a single babysitter or anything. We haven't been in a date in so long that I can't even remember the last time. I suppose the last time we went out alone was in Korea before we picked Clarissa up! For attachment purposes I just haven't wanted to leave her. But at this point it's been long enough. Clarissa has a healthy attachment to us and we decided that it's finally OK to start leaving her every now and then. I'm grateful for good friends who I trust so much with my kids. As hard as it was to leave her the first time I know that she was in really good hands at my friends house.

We left her and the boys and we went out to dinner. It was glorious to have some alone time again! We were pretty excited about it! :) Clarissa did really great while we were gone! She played happily, which is great because in the past she's been really clingy to us and wouldn't even let anyone else hold her. She's more secure with us now and becoming more independent, which is great.

After dinner we invited our friends to come back to our house for cake and ice cream. We had a lot of fun, it made us realize that we don't have people over enough. We need to change that.

The rest of the weekend has been really low key and relaxing. Shawn and I recently discovered the show Glee and we're totally hooked on it. I can't believe we haven't watched it all this time! We've been catching up on all the episodes whenever we get we get a chance and we managed to sneak a few in on Saturday afternoon and last night when the kids weren in bed. We have six more before we're caught up. The Glee soundtrack is playing right now while I type. It's my new favorite iPod playlist.

Oh! Here's what happened to me last week! The other day I was laying down with Clarissa trying to get her to take a nap and she was being super squirmy and trying to get off the bed. I slid her back towards me and she suddenly whipped her head back and slammed her head right into my nose. I've been whacked in the face by my kids by accident before but never this hard. I heard something crack and blood was everywhere and it wasn't pretty. I got cleaned up and my nose REALLY hurt. It throbbed for hours. I don't think it's totally broken or anything, it's not crooked or super swollen or anything major like that, but five days later it's still really sore.

Then last night we were watching Glee on my iPad on our bed. We had the iPad set up on a stand between us and one of our cats was also curled up asleep between us. One of us must have shifted and the iPad got knocked off the stand. Unfortunately it was our super jittery cat that was sleeping between us, the iPad being knocked over scared her, she jumped up and tried to run away and in her panic she accidentally scratched my face really bad! I have a huge long gash above my upper lip that looks so ridiculous. Fantastic. Thank goodness I don't have anywhere to go today. It looks worse today than it looked last night. There's not enough makeup in the world to cover it up.

So now my nose hurts and my face is scratched. It would be funny if it didn't hurt and I wasn't embarrassed to leave the house looking like this! I'm writing it in my blog so that I can go back and laugh at it later when it doesn't hurt anymore, lol. In the meantime I'm not leaving the house or answering the door until I don't look like I was in a fight!

So that's the news from our house. Shawn had a birthday, Glee is the best show ever and Clarissa and the cat apparently have some sort of diabolical plan to destroy my face. Fun times at our house! :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


As you can tell by the lack of blog posts lately, life has been busy around here lately! The first few weeks of the school year are always hectic while we get back into a routine again. The kids are really enjoying school this year and we enjoyed meeting their teachers at back to school night last week.

My green smoothie plan has surprisingly been a hit around here and the whole family is still drinking them every morning. I managed to kick my Diet Pepsi habit and replace it with smoothies and I have to admit I feel better. Our new plan is doing the couch to 5K program, which is a training program for people who have never been runners before. It starts off really slow and gets progressively harder over nine weeks and at the end you're supposed to be able to run a 5K. I'm definitely NOT a runner and I'm struggling with it, but Shawn is doing really great. I don't doubt that he's going to complete the whole nine weeks, but we'll see if I manage to get past week one. :)

I'm still working on some photo projects around here and one of the big ones was to get all the photos I have of Clarissa in Korea scanned. We were lucky to get over 200 photos of Clarissa's first 8 months of life that her wonderful foster mother took, but they were all prints and I really wanted digital copies so that I can make a photo book and so that I have a backup in case the originals are ever lost or damaged. I tried to scan them myself but it was taking forever and the quality wasn't very good, so I finally sent them off to be professionally scanned and put on a disk. It took almost a month to get them back and I've been REALLY nervous  about them being gone. After I sent them off I realized that if they somehow got lost in transit I would lose every photo of Clarissa's time in Korea, aside from the referral photos and the ones we took while we were there.

Fortunately they came back safely yesterday and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I'm happy to have all the photos on a disk and I had a really good time going through them yesterday. It's kind of weird to see photos of Clarissa before we knew her. It almost feels like I'm looking at photos of someone elses baby, it's hard to explain. It's hard to look at those photos and see everything we missed, but on the other hand I love that she's smiling in so many of them. She was so loved in Korea and I'm grateful for the photos because someday they're going to be precious to Clarissa. It fills in a lot of information that we wouldn't be able to provide otherwise about her first 8 months of life.

I thought I'd share some of the photos since it's fun to actually get to look at what was happening in her life while I was sitting here blogging, wondering where she was and what she was doing. I'm also going to share two photos I took of her yesterday because it's so much fun to see how much she's changed! (These are not in the right order. I tried to re-order them and Blogger didn't want to cooperate!)