Monday, May 31, 2010

Peacocks and Big Rocks

Yay for today!! :) After several failed attempts to go out and do a fun family activity, we finally succeeded today!

When the boys were younger we used to love to look at a map, find the most obscure out of the way place we could find and drive there. We could fill entire Saturdays driving to the middle of nowhere and it was always really fun.

Then life got busy and I think we felt like we'd seen every single out of the way place in this part of the state and we kind of quit doing it. We've missed it and we've been saying that we needed to do it again.

So Shawn went online and did some Google searching and found a new out of the way place for us to visit and this morning we were off on an adventure.

First of all, it was raining this morning. We all needed out of the house REALLY bad, so we decided that we were going, rain or not. Shawn kept saying that the weather channel said that it was only supposed to rain until noon, so we kept joking all morning that it had better stop raining at exactly noon. Every time I would say that I was worried about it raining on us all day Shawn would say "Nope, it's going to stop raining at noon, remember?" It was a joke all morning.

Two minutes before noon it was still raining and I was teasing him that the weather channel had it wrong, and he said "just wait!" and I said "wouldn't it be funny if it stopped raining at exactly noon?"

I'm not kidding, at 12:00 it stopped raining. True story. :)

We live in Boise, and Boise is basically a medium sized city surrounded by absolutely nothing. You have to drive at least five hours in any direction to get to another big city. Portland is six hours in one direction and Salt Lake is five hours in the other direction. In between all of that there is nothing but tiny towns, mountains and farm land. It's beautiful, it's just pretty deserted and it makes day trips hard because there's not really anything super exciting that you can drive to in a day.

So that's why we do these little car trips. We like to seek out quirky little places that no one knows about and just see what's there. Today's trip was super quirky and seriously fun!

We drove about an hour to a little middle of nowhere place called Walters Ferry. You can't really even call it a town, it's more like a convience store and a boat ramp. It's right on the Snake River and a long time ago they used to have a ferry there to get people from one side of the Snake River to the other before there were bridges in the area.

We've actually driven past it before on our way to another road trip but we didn't know that there was a hidden quirky gem there until today!

Behind the convience store down a little road is the Swayne Museum. Honestly, I never really even got the story of what this place is, but it's weird and quirky and SO COOL!

From what I could gather, it used to be the home of a couple who started putting out statues and lawn ornaments on their property and eventually walking paths, and over the years it has grown and the Swaynes are both dead now but it has been kept up as an outdoor museum of sorts.

You pull into the gravel parking lot and immediately see peacocks walking all over the place. I love birds and these peacocks are obviously used to being around people. We enjoyed chasing them around. You start on a walking path that is lined with all sorts of weird, quirky items. Bird houses, religious statues, lawn ornaments, cute signs with sayings on's all random and a little strange, but fun to look at. The walking path goes on a really long way and it's a beautiful walk. It's super quiet and peaceful and there are trees and a stream and wildlife all around. We saw a wild rabbit hop off into the brush! It ends up being a nice little hike if you walk through the whole thing.

Quite a bit of the first part of the walk is religiously themed. There are statues of Christ and bible quotes, and a little tiny "church" where you can go in and's interesting. Off to one side is a little meditation garden area that I LOVED. There is a little bubbling pond surrounded by trees and there are more statues to look at and little benches that you can sit on and enjoy the peace and quiet. I could have sat there all day, it was beautiful.

The path eventually makes a loop and you start back towards the entrance and there are all kinds of other neat statues and things to look at. You also walk along the Snake River on that side and it's beautiful. The whole place is very serene. We looked at the statues, enjoyed the river, did some bird watching (we saw a falcon land on a pole!!), and really had a great time.

You eventually get back to the entrance area and you're back to where the peacocks are. They also have some roosters and chickens in pens. The peacocks are walking all over the place. They even had pure white peacocks, which I had never seen before! They were really beautiful. They also had some old little buildings there that I don't think you can go in and I'm not sure what they were but they were intersting to look at.

We spent quite a while there, enjoying the wildlife, looking at the statues, and enjoying the walk. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun.

I grew up in a fairly rural area and I grew up camping and fishing and hiking. I pretty much spent my entire childhood outside and I loved it. I was such a tomboy when I was a kid. We live smack in the middle of the suburbs now and I miss being in a rural setting. I love being outside in the forest, surrounded by trees and birds and water. On a daily basis my mind is always full of a million different things and when I get a chance to do something like we did today and just be outside in nature it's like my brain is finally quiet. It feels like home to me. It's comforting and peaceful.

I also took my camera and shot some art photography for the first time in ages. Lately it seems like the only time I get my camera out is to try to get pictures of the kids. I've been too busy to just go outside and take pictures of random things for fun, which is something I always used to do to relieve stress. I started doing photography when I was going through a rough period of my life and I found that it's super calming to me. I had forgotten how much I love it! I took a ton of pictures today.

So what I'm trying to say is that between the nature, the photography and spending time with my family, I pretty much had the best day ever. :) I hated to leave that strange little museum. I think we all did. Here are some photos I took at the museum:

We eventually did leave the museum and we started part two of our adventure. We were off to find Map Rock! Map Rock is an obscure little piece of Idaho history. It's basically a big boulder that has a bunch of carvings in it that were apparently done by Indians hundreds or thousands of years ago. We thought that would be cool to see and it's not far from the museum so we went off in search of Map Rock.

It wasn't hard to find the road where Map Rock was located but we had a heck of a time finding the rock! The road winds along the Snake River and it's beautiful. It's also lined with lots of rocks and boulders. We figured that Map Rock would have obvious signage pointing it out. Yeah...not so much. There was a sign for Map Rock campground, but we drove through there and didn't see any fancy rocks. We continued down the road farther and still didn't see anything.

Finally, when we were just about to give up we saw a big rock on the side of the road that had the remnants of a wooden sign next to it, but the sign didn't have anything on it. We thought maybe that was it, and it was. Seriously, you would think that such a neat part of Indian history would have more fanfare, but it was literally just a boulder on the side of the road that looked pretty much like the rest of the boulders we passed.

When you get close to it you can see the lines and pictures scratched into it though and it's actually pretty cool. Unfortunately when we were there the rock was wet from the rain earlier and I think the scratches were harder to see than they would have been if it had been dry. I looked at photos of the rock on the internet and it looked way cooler than what we saw. When it's dry you can see what looks to be a map carved into it (thus the name) and also some drawings of animals and other things. What we saw were some lines and squiggles. Still cool.

We stood on the side of the road and admired the rock for a few minutes and the walked back to the car. On the way back to the car we saw a big dead snake on the side of the road. The boys stopped to kick gravel on it. Boys.

Here are a couple of photos of the rock:

After that little stop we were back on the road. We ended up driving to another tiny town and having lunch at a cute little restaurant and we stopped to admire another hidden Idaho gem-Lizard butte. It's a mountain that looks like a lizard is laying on it. Its really does! :)

After that we were all pretty tired from the day and we headed home. It was quite a drive through rural Idaho but we all had a really great time.

We came home and relaxed this evening and I've had a good time going through the pictures I took. I didn't realize how badly I needed a day out like this until I got home and realized how much less stressed I am. I really needed to get away for the day and spend time with the kids and get some fresh air. Now that it's getting warm outside I think this is going to be the first of many more exciting adventures to come! :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Change of plans

We didn't end up going on our road trip adventure today because Matthew has been throwing up all afternoon. Poor kid, he's pretty much just been laying on the couch watching Star Wars all day. Hopefully it's just a one day stomach flu thing and he'll feel better tomorrow. And hopefully none of the rest of us get it!!

We're going to give it another try on Monday. I also have plans to do a little hike with the family some time this next week if we get the chance. There's a really great park across town with hiking trails and now that it's finally starting to warm up a little I'm excited for us to get outside and do some fun outdoor activities.

Tonight we're just hanging out around house. Josh is learning to play the recorder at school so he gave me a little mini concert this evening. Then we looked up recorder music on Youtube and found a guy playing the recorder with his nose, and well...things just got silly after that. :)

Now I'm sitting here getting another blog post in and listening to my iPod. The mellow playlist again, although I'm totally not mopey today, so I don't know why I don't switch playlists. Current song: "Fifteen" by Taylor Swift. I love that song, it conjures up high school memories that make me smile. Next up: Hey Jude. That song oddly reminds me of our trip to Korea. Koreans apparently love the Beatles because I heard Beatles music everywhere we went all week. I kept hearing Hey Jude everywhere I went. I don't think I'll ever hear the Beatles again without thinking of Korea.

Ok, it looks like it's about time to get the boys in bed, so blog time is over. I blogged every day this week! Yay me! :)


I'm sitting in the taekwondo studio with my iPad, so I decided this was a good time to make a post!

I'm feeling much better today. I'm enjoying a sunny Saturday with family. We actually decided to go on a little day trip in the car this morning, but Matthew says his stomach is hurting. So I brought Josh to taekwondo and we'll see how Matthew is doing when we get back. If we don't go today maybe we'll go Monday since Shawn and the kids will be home for the holiday.

Take little day trip adventures with the kids was something that we used to do all the time and then life got busy and we quit doing it. It's time to start doing it again. We like to look on the map and find the most obscure out of the way place and then drive there. We've been to some pretty out of the way places!

Today I'm just enjoying the sunshine, I'm enjoying watching Josh practice taekwondo and I'm enjoy the three day weekend we have ahead of us. It's full of possibilities!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Finally Friday

I'm on a blogging kick this week for some reason. I've had a lot on my mind this week and blogging is a good outlet, even if I don't share everything that is going on in my head.

I've been kind of restless all week and it's driving me a little crazy. Partly it's because I spent last weekend in my hometown and for some reason that always leaves me a little blah for a few days when I come back. I'm an incredibly nostalgic person and I really kind of hate that about myself. I mentally hold on to things that I should let go of, and most of the time I keep those memories packed up pretty tight in my brain, but going back to my hometown always opens that box back up. I've spent the week trying to wrangle those memories back up and put them back in the box. I'll shake it off in a few days and go back to normal.

Aside from my weird mood, things are actually going pretty well around here lately. Josh and Matthew are loving the yellow belt taekwondo class and Josh passed off his form last night and earned his first stripe, which he was really excited about. Oh! And there's a really sweet Korean girl who works there and last night she told Shawn that she talked to her mom about us. Her mom is apparently the head of some local Korean oganization and she was really excited to hear about Clarissa! They do Korean cultural events throughout the year and she got our e-mail address so that they could let us know when something is coming up. That makes me really happy! I'm so excited at the thought of meeting more local Korean people and getting involved in more cultural activities. There really isn't a huge Korean population in our town, so I've had a hard time finding things like this on my own. I'm really excited to get involved with their group and really happy that the Korean people we've met in town have been so welcoming.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow because it's finally a Saturday when we don't have a lot of things planned, Shawn doesn't have to work and we're not going out of town. I want to find a fun family event to do. I think a low key family bonding day sounds really nice.

Clarissa just woke up from her nap so I'm off to read her some stories and doing some serious snuggling. That sounds like a great way to spend the afternoon!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I spent Clarissa's nap time redesigning my blog. I decided that I was ready for something completely different and I think this is pretty different! A new design for the new chapter in our lives. I like it. :)


After some How I Met Your Mother and a good nights sleep, I'm happy to report that I'm much less mopey today. :)

Although I have to admit that I'm sitting here making a blog post with Itunes playing in the background and it's still on the mopey playlist. Current Song: "Where you Lie" by Lee DeWyze, the American Idol guy. I don't really watch American Idol but the other day I happened to stumble across his performance of Halleluja and I fell in love with it immediately, which led me to searching out his other music. He fits in nicely in my mopey playlist. :)

This morning I read Go Dogs Go to Clarissa about 10 times and then I went in the basement and dug up every board book in the house and sat her in the middle of the pile. We have spent the morning reading every book in the house but Go Dog Go. If I have to climb that ladder to a dog party one more time today I think my brain is going to melt. I have a few of those My First Word board books with the pictures of the little kids and Clarissa loves those. She kisses the babies on the pages. So cute.

Clarissa has another funny obsession lately that I'm getting a kick out of. We've been working on learning the name of facial features lately and she loves it. We have a little magnadoodle board that she carries around a lot and the other day she handed it to me to draw something and I drew a circle on it and then drew eyes, nose and a mouth, while pointing out each thing to her as I drew. She was mesmorized by it. So now she brings me the magnadoodle several times a day so I'll draw a face on it for her. She lets me draw the face and then she takes it back and scribbles on it and then hands it back to me to draw a new face. I love the look on her face when I do it, like I just did some amazing magic trick or something. She has learned how to say the word "eyes", so now when I draw the picture she repeats the word as I draw the eyes. I love to watch her learn. When she learns a new word I think I probably look at her like she just performed an amazing magic trick. :) I love that kid.

We're supposed to have thunderstorms all day today, which I'm happy about. I absolutely love thunderstorms. So far the sky is just really cloudy but I'm hoping that a good storm starts soon. Rainy days make me feel like eating soup. Maybe I'll make some homemade chicken noodle soup later. Yum.

I haven't heard from Jinha in a little while and it's worrying me. Jinha, if you're reading this, I'm worried about you. E-mail me. I hope you're just busy doing something fun.

Current mopey song: "I Would Have Loved You Anyway" by Trisha Yearwood. Next up: "Stupid Boy" by Keith Urban. It occurs to me that most of my mopey songs are country songs. I suppose that's not surprising since most country songs are mopey. I do have playlists that aren't mopey and not country, I swear. :)

OK, Clarissa is telling me that my blogging break is over. Time to go back to the board books and the magnadoodle. Maybe I'll give in and go for another round of Go Dog Go. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I'm in a weird mood tonight. I'm kind of mopey and meloncholy. No reason, I'm just in a mood. Maybe it's the weather. I generally try not to make blog posts when I'm in a crabby mood, but in an effort to reinvent my blog I'm blogging about every random thing that comes into my head until it finds a new path. So today you get meloncholy Wendy. She's kind of a drag, lol.

I have a playlist on my ipod called "mellow". I really ought to just label it "mopey" because I tend to play it whenever I get like this. Current song: "Wait" by Alex Murdoch. Next up, "White Horse" by Taylor Swift. There are 46 songs in my mopey playlist. That's a lot of mopey.

I don't really have anything specific to blog about tonight. Today was a fairly uneventful day. I had a church meeting this morning, I played with Clarissa, watched half a Japanese movie, had a conversation with an old friend, ate dinner, played superhero with Matthew and listened to mopey music. (Next song: "You Were Mine" by the Dixie Chicks) Shawn and Josh have scouts on Wedneday until after 6, so it was kind of quiet around here this afternoon.

Clarissa has decided that she loves books lately, which makes me happy because we're a book loving family. I love it when she brings me a book and climbs into my lap so I can read it to her. She especially loves Go Dogs Go. I think I've read that book at least 20 times today. As soon as we get to the last page she grabs it, flips it over and hands it back to me so we can start over. We climbed that ladder to a dog party all morning. :) I do love to read to her, but after the 10th Go Dog Go I'm ready for a different story!

And speaking of books, I'm getting ready to read "Somewhere Inside" by Laura and Lisa Ling, which I've really looking forward to reading. It's the story of Laura Lings imprisonment in North Korea after briefly crossing the border while researching a news story. I followed that story really closely while it was in the news and I hoped that she'd write a book when she was released. I'm going to start it tomorrow if I get some free time. I'll review it when I'm done.

I find books on North Korea fascinating, but I'm a little sick to my stomach over the news coming from Korea these days. I worry so much about my South Korean friends every time I hear about the fighting going on between the two Koreas. I pray for their safety, I hope that the Koreas can work out their problems without restarting the war. It's making me really nervous.

Ok, so there is everything that is going on in my head tonight. One big jumble of unrelated thoughts. My current mopey song is "I Learned that From You" by Sara Evans. Previous song: "I Still Believe in You" by Vince Gill. Next up: "One More Chance" by Ready in 10.

The boys are getting ready for bed now and it's time for me to snuggle with Shawn and find something funny to watch on TV. We still haven't watched the season finale of How I Met Your Mother. I think that just might be the thing to shake off the mopeys.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I feel like my blog is going through an identity crisis these days! I started it as an adoption blog, and I absolutely loved updating it with all the adoption news. But now that the adoption has been completed I don't really have any more adoption news to report. Adoption will always be a part of our lives, but it's not something I think about daily anymore. Clarissa is just one of the gang now, so dedicating a blog just to her seems kind of weird.

I've actually considered just ending the blog. I started it to tell our story of adoption and that story has been told. I sometimes have a hard time coming up with things to blog about these days because our day to day life is pretty mundane lately. No big stories and updates like I had before.

I think I'd miss the blog if I abandonded it completely though. It's nice to have a place to write down my thoughts and I reallly enjoy reading past entries and reliving fun moments in our lives. So I think I'm going to keep it going, but I may not update it as often and it's not going to be all about Clarissa and the adoption. I feel like our family has entered a new phase and as much as the adoption was a wonderful experience for us, I'm ready to put it behind us and start the next chapter of our lives. I will always love talking about adoption and it's always going to be a big part of our family's story, but I'm ready to forge ahead into new adventures.

So I'll come up with new things to talk about and slowly I'll solve my blogs identity crisis. I'm in the process of redesigning the layout because I'm ready for a change but I can't come up with an idea that I like more than the current one, so I'm still playing around with it.

So in family news, there's not much going on around here this week. Last week was crazy busy with the adoption finalization and the trip to my hometown over the weekend, but this week is pretty wide open. I don't have a lot of big plans. The kids still have another month of school left (they're on a year round schedule), so things are still pretty quiet around here for now.

I'm actually kind of in a funk today. I had a weird dream last night that I can't shake for some reason. Every now and then I'll have a really vivid dream that seems so real that when I wake up it takes me a few minutes to remember where I am and realize that it was just a dream. Then it sticks with me all day and it takes a while to get it out of my head. Usually it's a dream about the past, as this one was. I've got some things on my mind today that I wish weren't. Some things are better left in the past.

So I'm kind of restless and unsettled today. I need to find a project to work on this afternoon. I have some photo projects that I need to work on. I'm going to take all the photos we have of Clarissa from birth on and make an adoption book for her. Something that we can keep in a special place and get out and look at when she wants to. I have so much adoption memorabilia around here that needs to be gone through. All the photos we got from her foster mother, all the things that we bought for her in Korea, all the keepsakes that I've collected for her...there's a lot of it. As we've gone through the adoption process I've kept everything because I feel like maybe it's all going to be important to her later. Maybe it won't be and someday she'll laugh at all the crazy things I've saved, but I'm saving it all, just in case.

For now I'm going to get in a few more minutes of peace and quiet while Clarissa is taking her nap. My quiet moments are few and far between these days, so I cherish them when I can get them! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Forever Family

It's been a really busy, but super amazing week at our house! Wednesday we had the court hearing and then Saturday we went to my hometown for more excitement and another special event!

In our religion we believe that families can be together even after we die. This is something very important to us. Saturday we had a special religious ceremony to bind Clarissa to our eternal family and it was a really special experience for our family. We chose to do it at the same place we got married, and to go back there with our whole family was really wonderful. It brought back a lot of memories of our wedding day, so walking around there with our three kids was just really neat for us.

Because it was a special day for us I hired a photographer to follow us around for the day! I chose a photographer friend of mine who I met on a photography website a few years whose work I really admire. He lives three hours away in Utah but agreed to drive down for the day, which I really appreciated. He did a great job and I'm so happy to have really great photos of the day.

The reason these photos are so great is because you can't tell what a difficult time we had getting them, lol! First of all, it was absolutely FREEZING outside. We almost had to check the calendar to make sure that it really was the end of May because it felt like January. We got hailed on and right as we finished the pictures it started to snow like crazy!! For an hour the wind blew and it snowed sideways. It was crazy.

Also, we had to contend with Clarissa, who HATES having her picture taken. She pretty much hates sitting still for anything, so when the camera comes out she runs. I haven't seen the outtakes from the photo session but I imagine that there are a few hundred of them where Clarissa is having a fit, lol. Fortunately my two AMAZING friends made the four hour drive to my hometown to support me and they spent the day standing behind the photographer willing to do anything to get Clarissa to smile for the camera. Armed with graham crackers and an asernal of toddler songs, they got the job done! :) We didn't get big smiles from Clarissa in most of the pictures, but the fact that she wasn't trying to get off our laps and run away in every picture makes it a success. :) In regular life Clarissa is super smiley and happy. In photos she looks like she's trying to make a hasty exit!

Anyway, here are some of the photos that I especially liked. I'm working on redesigning my blog with all the new photos, so stay tuned for that! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


We just got back from court and Clarissa is now officially ours forever. Happy day!!
It's been a whirlwind of a day, I think we're all pretty worn out! First of all, Clarissa has been sick for the past couple of days so she really wasn't in the mood to put on a pretty dress and go to court. She's had a fever and a cough for a couple of days and I've been so worried about how she was going to do in court.

We got some medicine in her though and we made it through. We all got dressed up in our red, white and blue outfits and headed to the court house. When we got there we found out that there was a delay in the case before ours so we had to wait for a while. Clarissa really wasn't in a very good mood and the wait didn't help.

But finally it was our turn and we got to go into the courtroom. Let me just say that I've always been kind of fascinated by law and courthouses and courtooms and lawyers and judges and the whole thing, so going to court is kind of fun for me. There's something about being in a courtroom. It's so...official, lol.

We sat down at a table and our lawyer introduced us to the judge and then we started the proceedings. Our adoption agency is located in another state and there's supposed to be a representitive from the agency at the hearing so they did it by phone. They got someone from the agency on speaker phone and they asked her a bunch of questions, like where Clarissa came from and how we came to be involved and some questions about guardianship and all off that. The woman on the phone answered the questions and then her part was over.

Then they moved on to me and the lawyer asked me a bunch of questions, like my name, my birthdate, etc, and then asked questions like if I agreed to be financially responsible for Clarissa, if I loved her, what I wanted her American name to be, etc., and then she asked the same questions to Shawn.

After that there was some legal talk between the lawyer and the judge for a couple of minutes and then the judge said that she was granting the adoption and it was over! The whole thing took about 15-2o minutes.

At the end I asked if we could take a photo with the judge. I had big plans of getting lots of great photos of our special day, but when it came down to it Clarissa just wasn't in the mood. We tried a few before the hearing started but Clarissa was cranky and trying to get her to sit still and smile was kind of a lost cause. We did get a nice one of us with the judge though, and I'm happy about that. That will be a photo that we'll be looking at a lot in the years to come.

Oh! And speaking of photos, I can finally post photos on my blog!! WOOHOO! When we got our referral last year we had to sign an agreement that we wouldn't post photos of her publically until the adoption was finalized and it's been driving me crazy! Over the next week or so I'm going to be posting lots of pictures, just because I can! :)

It's a really great feeling today, knowing that Clarissa is finally legally ours. No one can ever take her away or change their mind. It's quite a load off my shoulders!

But it's made me think a lot today about her birth mother and her foster mother and the circumstances that led us here. This adoption has always been a mix of emotions for me. I feel like with everything we gain, Clarissa loses something. Today she officially lost her Korean name and she loses her Korean citizenship. Part of me feels guilty every time we celebrate an adoption milestone like this one because our happiness comes out of so much loss. What we're taking away we're replacing with love and a happy family and I know that, but still...I thought about it a lot this morning.

So before court I put the necklace on Clarissa that her foster mother gave her and I had Shawn and the boys each put a shell in their pocket that we picked up on the beach the day we visited Clarissa's hometown in Korea. I wanted to go to court with a piece of the foster mother who loves her so much and a piece of her hometown. Today marks a new start for Clarissa and I'm so excited to see what the future holds for her, but I never want to forget where she came from. I have so much love and respect for the beautiful country she came from and for all the loving people there who were part of her story.

Clarissa is lucky to have so much love in her life and we're so lucky to have her in our family. Today marks the end of our adoption journey but the exciting beginning of life as a complete family. There is peace in my heart today and I'm excited to see what tomorow holds.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

I woke up this morning to flowers and chocolates and breakfast in bed. It's too bad everyday isn't Mothers Day! :) I'm having a great Mothers Day so far and it's even sweeter because this year I finally have all of my kids here with me. YAY! :)

We had an awesome day yesterday at the taekwondo event! The boys tested for their yellow belt in the morning and I was SO proud of them!! For some reason when I imagined belt testing I thought that Master Lee would take each kid into a room and test them privately, so we were really surprised when we walked in and realized that they were each going to be tested in front of the whole group and a a panel of judges, who were taekwondo masters from other schools!

There were probably 30-40 people there for belt testing and they each had to go up and stand in front of the panel of judges and demonstrate the kicks and punches they've learned, do a verbal test of Korean terms and then the judges asked them questions about their commitment to taekwondo. I was so nervous for them and so amazingly proud of them when they went up there with confidence and did what they were asked to do like it was no big deal. They're braver than I am! When they were demonstrating the kicks Master Lee gave them all their directions in Korean and the kids totally understood exactly what to do. I have been watching them practice and I knew that they had learned a lot but seeing them up there doing such a great job made me realize just how far they've come since we started in February! They did great! It was one of those proud mom moments. :)

Anyway, they both passed the test and earned their yellow belts and after testing everyone celebrated with a really fun afternoon in the parking lot. There were bounce houses and hot dogs and face painting and all sorts of fun things to do. There were black belt demonstations by Master Lee and the visiting masters that were incredible! One of Master Lee's black belt students did a really cool demonstration where they lined up five kids and had them bend over and then he ran and jumped over all five of them and broke a board on the other side with a roundhouse kick. So cool! We had a great time watching the demonstations.

After that they did taekwondo olympics where the kids got to compete for medals. They did a competition to see how many times the kids could kick a kicking target in 30 seconds. Josh kicked the target 66 times in 30 seconds and won first place!

At the end of the day they had a raffle and I won a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant. We went home sunburned and tired but happy that we had such a fun day!

I know that I keep rambling on about taekwondo but I still can't get over what a great experience this has been for our kids. If I had realized how much they would enjoy it and how much it would benefit them I would have signed them up ages ago. I'm really happy that we've discovered it, it's been fun for our whole family.

In other news, we're getting really excited to have Clarissa's adoption finalized in a little over a week!! I'm so excited about that, it's going to be a really fun day. A few days after the court date we're also doing a special religious ceremony that we had to wait until the adoption was finalized to do and that's something that is going to be really special for our family. We've got lots of exciting things coming up that we're really looking forward to!

Clarissa is doing really well and growing so fast! We've reached that age where she's pretty much wearing me out with how busy she is, but I'm enjoying her so much. She's super curious and wants to get in to EVERYTHING! I'm in crisis control mode most of the day, lol. We call her hurricane Clarissa. She moves really quickly and destroys everything in her path. :) She takes batteries out of the remotes, unrolls the toilet paper rolls, empties the kitchen cupboards, takes all the magnets and papers off the fridge...I just chase her around and try to keep up. It would get frustrating if she wasn't so darn cute. Just when I think I've had enough she'll climb into my lap and snuggle and then I forgive all the messes she makes. :) She might be a hurricane but she's so sweet and loving.

So that's the news from our house. The kids earned their yellow belts, I got breakfast in bed, Clarissa is a snuggly hurricane and we have lots of fun family events coming up. That pretty much covers it! :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to Josh!

Today is Josh's 10th birthday! I can't believe I've been a parent for 10 years! It went by so fast. Josh was super excited about his birthday. He was born at 1:25 in the morning so he set his alarm clock to go off at 1:20 this morning so that he could watch himself turn 10, lol. He came in to our room at 1:25 to give us a hug and let us know that he was officially 10. I love that kid.

This morning he opened presents and tonight we're going to go out to his favorite restaurant and then have cake and ice cream. Tomorrow we're taking him to the big arcade here that he loves. They have laser tag and go carts and all kinds of fun things. We were going to go tonight but it's rainy and stormy here today and the go carts are outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be better weather. Plus spreading the birthday fun out over two days is twice the fun! :)

Josh is an amazing kid and I'm so proud that he's my son. He's smart and funny and caring and sweet and so much more. Right now we're reading the Percy Jackson series together and we're really enjoying it. I love that he's getting old enough to do things like that. I really love spending time with Josh. I know the day he becomes a teenager and I'm not longer cool is getting closer and closer so I'm cherishing every minute while I can.

More excitement happened yesterday-Matthew finally lost his third tooth! I love his gap toothed smile! He was really excited to have a visit from the tooth fairy last night. :)

Saturday the boys are testing for their yellow belt in taekwondo. They've been working really hard and they're super excited to move up to the next level. The taekwondo school is actually having a big event on Saturday. They're clearing out the parking lot and putting up a bounce house, they're giving away hot dogs, they're doing face painting, there will be black belt demonstrations, contests for the kids and all sorts of other fun things.

I've volunteered to help for the day, so I'll be over there all afternoon if you live in Boise and want to stop by! If you have kids who are interested in taekwondo and you want to try out the school, they're offering four free classes and a free uniform if you stop by on Saturday. The uniform is free and you get to keep it, even if you don't end up signing up for classes. We absolutely love Mr. Lee and the taekwondo school. It's been great for the kids and it's a little piece of Korea when I go there. :)

Holy cow, as I've been writing this the sky has gotten darker and it's started to thunder and now it's hailing! I think we're in for a good storm! I love thunderstorms. I'm going to go watch it before it goes away!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Court date!!!

I've been going crazy for a few weeks trying to get our lawyer to pin down a court date. It was coming "any day now" for quite a while. Finally I got her on the phone this morning and got her to call the court house and this afternoon I got a call back with a date!!

On Tuesday, May 18, Clarissa will officially, legally be ours forever. I am SO excited I can hardly stand it!! I've been waiting for this day for a really long time. No more checkups from the agency, no more post placement reports, we can finally change her name on our insurance and other things to Clarissa instead of her Korean name...she's finally going to be OURS! :)

On that day we will be signing paperwork to become her parents, we'll legally change her name to Clarissa Rose and she'll become an American citizen. Big day!! It's kind of a tradition among the families on the adoption message board I post on to wear red, white and blue to the courthouse to celebrate her American citizenship so I'm already planning our wardrobe. :) I bought Clarissa the cutest blue and white sailor dress. There will be many pictures that day, I'm sure!

Oh! And speaking of pictures, after May 18th I can finally start posting photos of her on my blog! Yay!

So today is a good day. I've had a grin on my face all afternoon. I can finally see the end of the adoption process and it feels GOOD.

I was just going through our gigantic binder of adoption paperwork, looking back to get a date of when we started this process. The earliest date I could find on paperwork from our agency was August 17, 2007. That was after we received the info packet from them though, which was at least a few weeks earlier. For some reason I can't find the welcome letter that came with our info packet.

But anyway, it looks like we officially started the adoption process around the first part of August, 2007. We were still in the thinking, praying and researching stage for at least a month before that though. I'm guessing that adoption came into our lives around June-July 2007. That was almost three years ago! Since then it has been a daily topic of conversation in our house, constantly on my mind, the subject of my blog, the cause of many tears and has pretty much consumed much of my life. I honestly have a hard time remembering what it was like before this whole thing started!

So to think about it coming to and end is really kind of weird. I'm still amazed that we're actually here. When we started the process the end seemed so far away.

But here we are and the day actually HAS come. When we started the process I hoped and prayed that it would be a positive experience in our lives and it has been-times a hundred! Our family is happy and complete and Clarissa is everything we could possibly have hoped for and more. I still get teary eyed every now and then when I see her playing with her brothers or when she gives me a hug or a slobbery kiss or when I hear her sweet giggle. She's real and she's ours. Amazing.