Christmas Care Package

 That’s a wrap folks. I’m pretty sure I mailed off my very last care package. The very next thing I’m sending to Korea will be myself! : ) Ugh, that feels so good to type. I slowly feel the burden of this weight (or rather wait) lifting. He is almost in my arms. The 21st of this  month will mark 10 months since we saw that face and we are almost there.

I didn’t take any pictures before I sent this package like I usually do. I was in a rush. Maddox typically goes in for a checkup the 2nd week of the month and I wanted to be sure it got there. I’m still not sure it will but let me just tell you I prayed over that box. If any of you saw a crazy lady in the post office parking lot laying hands on a box today…well it may or may not have been me! : ) The Lord has heard my request and I pray He somehow speeds our little box along and into the hands of our son. It is Christmas, right? He needs a gift from his mama and daddy!

In the package I included:

~ a precious outfit set that came with a navy shirt, blue/green plaid golfer style hat and some jeans with the cuffs folded up with the same plaid print. Ugh..I could squeeze the imaginary image of him in that outfit to death!

~2 board books. 1 was the story of Christmas and it tells about the birth of Jesus and the other was a 1st words type board book with lots of pictures of things and the English words.

~ Gerber Puffs as usual

~ A toy phone and a play set of keys

~ A mini sock monkey gifted to him from his Aunt Lulu, Uncle Jimmy and 3 sweet cousins (this was his very 1st gift).

~ A photo album of our London Lane family session.

~ Young’s pralines, South Carolina honey, A book on our state, and my very favorite Young’s “Fiddlesticks” (it’s like a homemade candy bar with chocolate, pecan, and caramel).

~ A Christmas card for the family in which I wrote out a message in Hangul wishing them a Merry Christmas and telling Maddox we love him. I hope it doesn’t translate into something crazy! I used reliable sources. (Please Lord!)

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I kept it small since our package in November was so large. I know it’s Christmas but we will have a few things wrapped here for him that he will open when he comes home.

The sweetest part about sending this package over was sharing our story with the clerk at the post office. She said she knew I had mailed several packages to Korea and asked did I have a loved one there? I told her my son lived there but we hoped this would be the last package we would need to send to him since he should be home very soon. Her reaction almost made me tear up. She asked lots of questions about how old he was, and were we thrilled and I was happy to answer. She was so excited and asked if I would please bring him by once he was home and settled so she could meet him. What a warm moment in my soul for this sweet (basically) stranger of a woman to be so genuinely excited for our family. I love interactions like that…and in the post office no less which gets such a bad rap for having employees with bad attitudes. Praise God for her.

The LAST one…that was my last care package. You are so good, Lord. You’ve seen us through every moment even when we couldn’t see you working you were and it’s been all good. We praise Your name for every snag, every tear dropped, every fork in the road.

We are almost there.

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Thanksgiving week!

             I’ve fallen a smidge behind on the blog. I really wanted to write about Reagan turning 6 but I know that will require some time and I (same as everyone I’m sure)  just haven’t had much of that. I hope I can get that done before next week when Christmas kicks into high gear. The kids are curled up on the couch with hot cocoa and the 1958 version of “Jack Frost” (thank you netflix), and David is zoned into something on his Ipad so I thought I’d take a second to just at least write about our Thanksgiving.

 
This year we did things a little differently than we typically do. Every year all the men in David’s family take a week long duck hunting/fishing/camping/not my kinda thing trip to their river house (and when I say that please don’t think plush cabin overlooking the water. It’s….well very…um….well they like it…). This tradition has been going for over 20 years with no end in sight and it’s something these men talk about ALL year long. So, they head out the door in most recent years right after Reagan’s birthday party and come home for Thanksgiving dinner and then back out until the following Saturday. I love that they have that tradition BUT it throws a little kink in my Black Friday plans now that we have little ones running around. 😉 So, this year we came up with an alternate plan that really worked well for all of us.
    Anyway, long story short my best friend (who happens to be David’s sister) and her family (whose youngest daughter is Reagan’s best friend) moved to Chicago 3 years ago. This year no family was going to be able to make the trip up and it’s her favorite holiday. This combined with the thought of another week all alone with the kids (on a holiday) started me thinking of ways to make a Thanksgiving trip up to see them. Win/Win situation for us both. We really prayed about Reagan and I making the trip up for the week and it seemed impossible. Crazily enough we ended up finding a killer deal on airline tickets but put us flying in early and staying until the saturday after. It worked though so we booked them.
This put Reagan and I in flying into O’hare the Monday of Thanksgiving, and David leaving for the river the Saturday before us, so Dawson headed out to my parents for a few nights sleepover with his grammy and grandaddy and then camping with the boys the 2nd half of the week. It was our very 1st holiday not being together but we all had a great time despite being apart.

  *Please forgive my terrible iPhone photos. I didn’t even bring my camera on this trip!*

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One of Reagan’s favorite things about flying is layovers. She loves exploring airports and the fact that on trips I let her drink Sprite. Oh the little things in life. : ) We made it to Chicago around dinner time Monday night and the girls were thrilled to see each other! The grownups stayed up late and caught up. It was worth the trip to just get some face time in with Tracey. Nothing is better than an in person conversation…not even Skype!

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Tuesday was another relaxing day. Their girls had school that morning and so Reagan dominated their playroom and Tracey and I chatted over coffee. The girls got all dolled up later in the afternoon and had a “tea party” complete with yummy banana and blueberry pancakes.

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David sent me this picture from previously mentioned camp house. I know this sounds horrible (and I almost didn’t say it here) but I was having terrible dreams about Dawson falling into the water at night and no one could find him. Terrifying, right? Yes, it was. I begged my parents not to take him anywhere near the water and I begged David to put a lock on the camp house door so he couldn’t get out at night. Paranoid? Maybe but what else was I supposed to do. I worried myself sick in the days prior to the trip. Anyway, I drove David crazy and I guess he wanted to make sure I knew he was protecting my..I mean our baby.
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On Wednesday, Reagan and I got to go to the girls school and help with the 1st grade and 2nd grade Thanksgiving breakfast. They were very excited to introduce us to their class mates and teachers. It was fun!

One of the neatest parts is that the 2nd grade teacher taught elementary school in Korea for several years and her husband was the principal at the school as well. As if that wasn’t enough the city that they taught in is the city Maddox was born in!! I kid you not! I had chills (and so did she) when she told me that! I have never heard of another baby that was born in that city in our adoption circle (Of course they exist I just haven’t heard of any) and I had never heard of anyone who had traveled there either. She gave me lots of great tips on how to get there from Seoul, and she even went as far as to say that she has several friends there that are fluent in English and if I let her know before we travel she will see if they can help us out when we take our trip into the city. AMAZING! This is one of the concerns we had about traveling out of Seoul without a translator. Answered prayer! She was so excited for us and kept coming over to share thoughts, ideas and tips. She even taught me how to make rice the “Korean Mama” way. It was incredible.

After we left the school we hurried home with the kids and then I headed to O’hare to meet my friend, Courtney. Her daughter, Emme, was to be escorted in that day and it just worked out perfectly that I was able to sneak over there and be there for the big moment. Courtney and I had the same referral date (Date you are matched with your baby) and she got her acceptance packet in the week before we did and received one of the last emigration permits of the year. We’ve been on this long road together and it was bittersweet to see her journey to her daughter end but I was SOO happy for her. I did not take any pictures but oh my word, Emme is so precious. She had on the sweetest Red shoes, and the cutest little haircut. I videoed the union for their family and was holding back tears as they saw her in person for the 1st time. It makes our upcoming trip seem so surreal but my heart flutters thinking of our moment like that.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and of course we indulged in all our favorite foods. We went around the table and each of us named 5 things we are thankful for. It was soo sweet to hear all the girls say theirs. I (of course) got a little choked up saying mine. We ate, and ate, and ate. Then Tracey and Bryan headed out to serve lunch at the men’s home where Bryan is the dean (he would die if he knew I wrote it that way!) and the girls and I took a nice, long, luscious nap! It was divine. True to her self, Reagan woke up first and she and I got to curl up on the couch and talk about why we were thankful for the things we listed. It was a sweet time for us. I’m so glad we got this week together. It was such a blessing to have some one on one time with her.

Friday was a big day. We took all the girls ice skating! It was SO much fun and the girls did GREAT! Hannah left asking for lessons!! : ) I was proud of them all. I on the other hand ripped my favorite jeans thinking I was Michelle Kwan or something.

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Afterwards, we went to Giordano’s to eat which I had been looking forward to the whole trip. This place serves up some AMAZING deep dish Chicago style pizza! YUM! The girls wanted to do something fun for Reagan’s birthday since they weren’t able to celebrate with her back home and so when we got home we had some yummy birthday cake!

 The kids went to bed and the mamas headed over to Wisconsin to an outlet mall that opened at 9 for Black Friday shopping. It took about an hour to get there and it was a fun drive! We hit some great sales and almost cried at the craziness in Kohls and then headed back home. I was so excited to get to do a little shopping on Black Friday since I typically can’t work that out in my favor! It was fun girl time!

Back home with the boys:
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Apparently this was Dawson’s first time eating deer sausage. Gag. David said he really liked it.

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Dawson figuring out his sleeping bag.

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And he’s out. I’m so glad this is a “guy thing” Nothing about this appeals to me! : )

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Dawson gets ready to go on a fishing trip with daddy!

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 Out on the river!

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The boys had LOTS of fun camping.

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Saturday saw us packing up and heading home. We made it to the airport and through security in record time! We finally found the play area at O’hare and had a few minutes for Reagan to play.

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Then we found Garrett’s popcorn (thankfully just one terminal over from ours). Reagan scored a ton of samples after the cashier scared her. He kind of growled at her or something just being funny and she almost started crying. He felt bad and started giving her popcorn. Very strange. We loaded up and headed home!

It was really a great week for everyone but by Saturday we were all ready to be back home under the same roof and together! We are so thankful for the way things fell into place and that we were able to share Thanksgiving with our families even if our “family” was spread all over the world. Next year, all 5 of us will be together at one table giving thanks! I can’t wait!

Too excited to come up with a clever title ~ NEW PICTURES!

So, in our last care package I included TWO hats. I knew that the foster moms have been putting the hats on all the babies from the sweet little pictures friends of mine were receiving. I tried to decide which hat Maddox would be wearing in his picture. Both were equally adorable and either would look smashing on our munchkin. So, I never could really decide which I preferred.

Well guess what? Today we received our November WBC along with 3 new photos

and

I got to see him in BOTH hats.

My sister, Jenny, got M this hat. Apparently, our 16 month old has a larger than 12-18 month size head. : ) And can we just comment on the denim hoodie and matching denim overalls. Such a fashion statement! ; ) You can barely see them but he has Robeez type shoes with a sweet little elephant on them. Yes, I did analyze every inch of the photo. Dawson had the almost exact same shoes when he was this age and they are actually in Maddox’s closet right now awaiting his sweet feet to arrive on American soil.

And here he is with the monkey hat and all of his Fall care package loot. : ) And you can take my word for it that his foster mother is absolutely beautiful! I can not wait to wrap my arms around her! I always love getting new photos of my sweet boy but I especially love seeing him with things we sent to him.

These could very well be the last photos we receive before we travel. That sends goosebumps down my spine. It’s just 45 days until January 2nd (1st business day of 2012) and our wait is flying by. We are praying for the powers that be to allow him to go ahead and have his Visa Physical in December so that once his EP is submitted and approved we will just a few small steps away from our coveted Travel Call!! We are coming sweet boy!

Disney on Ice!

 

This year instead of Reagan having a birthday party we decided to take her to Disney on Ice. Her daddy splurged on front row seats for his princess (I cringed a little because I’m a cheap skate but honestly it was still less expensive than a party would have cost.) She was SO excited and has been counting down the days for several weeks.

 She requested to wear her “Ariel”  costume that she wore for Halloween and upon that decree Dawson wanted to wear his “Buzz” costume which is now literally up to his ankles… Quite funny! I was feeling pretty under the weather and almost sent David with the kids without me but at the last minute just “sucked it up” and went. I’m SO glad I did.

Afterwards Reagan proclaimed, “This was the BEST birthday present EVER!” Always a good sign.

Daniel Family Highlights

 David –  The Genie (from Aladdin)

Tracey- Mulan was great..I love  Mulan! And then Mickey and Minnie! But my very FAVORITE was the “It’s a Small World”. Completely took me by surprise! And then of course every moment that I looked over and saw how magical the show was for my children!

~

`

Dawson- Any guesses? The Toy Story scene AND Lion King

Reagan- “The part where Ariel shook my hand and was so excited that I had on her outfit”

As I said, I wasn’t feeling well and I’m the lady behind the camera so we didn’t really take many pictures but here are a few others.

Notice David’s beard. It’s “No Shave November” …. I have previously stated that I don’t care for it but I must say it’s growing on me. He looked might handsome today in all his scruffiness. ; )

 Mama and the birthday girl…who would rather not be bothered with taking photos.

 Yes, this was the best shot of the two of them together. One day.

Are you done yet!?!

                                       ‘

                        It looks like somebody just might have found a new Prince Charming!

     Reagan was BESIDE herself to shake hands with her favorite princesses. Nothing like that kind of joy.

 We had a great time and I will admit it was worth the extra to have some face time with the characters. Sometimes a daddy knows what’s best for his little girl!

 

~*~16 Months~*~

 

 Somebody is 16 months old today! It REALLY seems like just last week that I typed his 15 month post. We have not received our November WBC yet so I’m not sure what’s new with our little guy but we still want to acknowledge this milestone. One day when he looks back on the days that he was not home with us I want him to know that we thought of him on these special times and longed to have him here with us.

  As I told you in my last post, Wednesday, I had the pleasure to see first hand the uniting of an adoptive family and it was truly a miracle. My eyes fill with tears thinking of what that moment will be like for our family. We are looking forward to meeting the family that is caring for him now and telling them how much we appreciate their caring for our baby boy.

But, Wednesday also reminded me that it won’t just be a Kodak moment filled with happiness. In order to for Maddox to be ours he has to no longer be apart of his foster family and as a toddler he is not going to understand that. On top of that, we don’t speak his language fluently and well frankly we look different. His heart is going to break and we are trying to prepare ourselves the best way we know how but please pray for our little guy’s heart. He will be losing everything he has ever known to gain a family that will be his forever and it won’t be easy. Pray for his foster family. They have fostered 6 children before our son but never have they had a child for such a long time. Time brings bonding and we know they love him so much.

Wednesday also taught me a valuable lesson at how terrible my Korean is. I think I was a little…too confident. I mean, just because I can say a few things to my friends here when they ask what I’ve learned does NOT mean in any shape, form, or fashion that I can actually have a conversation with someone in Korean. Trust me….lesson learned! I will definitely be hitting the books hard between now and travel! After all, we will be bringing home a toddler who will have heard only Korean his entire life. I NEED to know a LOT more than I know!!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with Maddox being 16 months old! : ) But, I don’t have an update or anything. I hope in the next week or two we will get his WBC and hopefully a new photo. His last care package ~ the one I wrote about here~ made it to the Holt office early last week so he should receive it when he goes in for his checkup.

On another side note, it is officially less than 50 days (49 to be exact) until the start of the new year. The EP quota then will be reset and our baby boy will be SO close to coming home. YAY! I was telling David last week that sometimes it doesn’t even seem real. We’ve waited so long (the 21st will be 9 months) that on some days it seems like it will really never happen. But soon all that will change!

Ok, what an all over the place blog post … Happy 16 months Jeong-hwan-ah. We love you and are ready for you to be home!

So Far to Find Her!

  On Wednesday night I had an incredible opportunity to witness the uniting of a family. I can’t even begin to put words what that experience was like.

Heidi and I connected through our  home study agency way back in March? It was early in the year but I can’t remember exactly when.  We were both excited to have just been matched with our sweet babies and thrilled that we were both in the same state. Korean adoptions in South Carolina are few and far between so that we were in process at the same time was exciting!

 I had just finished up my home study and she was working to get hers finished with 4…yes 4 precious boys underfoot! We have kept up with one another through the entire journey. Ok, let me rephrase that….we have kept each other sane through this entire journey! Daily emails about progress, and timelines, and 100’s of theories on how this or that would pan out. Our husbands thought we were certifiable but I would imagine that without each other they would have had to sit through our dissertations on all the “progress, timelines, and theories” so they should be thankful! : )

 On Wednesday evening Heidi’s journey to her daughter ended and she was finally in her arms forever. Once I found out that she would be flying into Charlotte I could not imagine not being there for the last leg of this journey with my sweet friend.

 So, after lots of  wrangling of our schedules I managed to find sleepovers for my sweet babies (Thank you mom and Katie!) and hit the road to Charlotte.

 The goal was to get a gate pass for each of us so we could be at the gate when she stepped off the plane with her escort. Heidi may or may not have told the ticketing counter that I was her translator… : )

All jokes aside…she was SO nervous. Who wouldn’t be? We grabbed dinner with another friend of hers that is also adopting from Korea. Her son is a little boy that we almost requested the file for days before we received Maddox’s file and we have prayed for him so it was so nice to meet her!

After dinner, her husband and boys joined us and we headed to the gate.

Anticipation

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And then the plane arrived.

 People started filing out of the door

 And in one quick second this mama held her daughter in her arms.

 

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 And 4 very excited brothers met their sister for the first time.

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And just like that they became a family.

 After all the pain, and loss, after a wait that went on for month after month. After paperwork and prayers.

 This precious girl has a family she can call her very own. She is so very loved already!

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 Welcome Home, Ye-Ram. WELCOME HOME!

 

Can you spot the turkey?

 Dawson had a class project due this week for Thanksgiving. He had to disguise a turkey so that he wouldn’t be caught for dinner! I asked what he wanted to do with the turkey and he proclaimed he should be Buzz Lightyear. Honestly, I breathed a sigh of relief that he didn’t say Optimus Prime….

I think he turned out well.  It looks a little like Buzz ATE the turkey but what can you do?

 

 He is SOO proud! The wings were all his idea. Buzz HAS to have wings!

Things that make you go Hmmm….

 

I love Jen Hatmaker. I usually post a link to her blog on my Facebook (always good for a laugh) but I decided to share this one here.

 It’s a mix between tears down the cheek hilarious, tears down the cheek that’s exactly how I feel!

 Love that kind of read.

 She originally wrote the post in response to a reader who asked how to help adoptive families once they are home and it just turned into all kind of goodness.

 http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/02/how-to-be-the-village

And just for fun and playing off her post I’ll share a few crazy things people have said to me. I honestly have not had that many off the wall comments. I love talking about adoption, and our process and we are surrounded by some amazingly supportive people who are our “village”. We seriously could not be more blessed. But, there are some folks who really just don’t know better and you just have to smile and either blow them off or try to let them know what they said was just not ok. So, here you go…

Things that make you go HMMM:

 ~ “What happened that you can’t have any more children “of your own”?” “Did something happen to you  during childbirth?”

~ “Are you going to allow your son to date only asian people or are you ok with “mixed” grandchildren?”

Honestly, I can’t really think of anymore. Which is a good thing I guess! We get asked a lot about China (we are adopting from Korea) and  the cost of adoption but that doesn’t really bother me at all. In fact, most questions people ask are just because they are genuinely curious.

So, adoptive mamas chime in. What are your “Things that make you go HMMM…” moments? And, for educational purposes how did you handle them?

London Lane Family Session

I’m terrible at doing family photos. They stress me out. I mean….I avoid them like the plague stress me out. I’ve regretted that I haven’t done them more often and so recently took a big step and booked a family session . We were SO blessed to have our precious friend Amanda (www.londonlanestudio.com) capture these moments for us. It’s such a sweet time for our family and I’m so happy to have them documented forever.   Here are a few of my favorites:

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Hope is Fading

Hope is Fading – Orphan Sunday from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.

There are 150 million little girls and boys just like this little girl (maybe even more) and their hope IS fading. They need to know how much Christ loves them. They need to know that they matter. They need a mom to tuck the covers in tight around them at night and whisper how much she loves them in their ear. They need a dad to swing them high in the air until they laugh so hard they are breathless.

You may ask how a God who loves them so much would leave them without a family. He doesn’t. It’s a tough concept but as Christians WE are His and feet so it’s our job. He has raised up a family for each of these children and it’s left to us to answer the call and find them. What if the little girl in this video represents a son or daughter that God has planned for you? If you knew that for sure wouldn’t you act? He is calling people. 150 million people. I beg you to listen closely. Pray and specifically ask him, “God is this what you are asking of me?” Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about the cost. Don’t worry that it will through a kink in your comfortable, settled in family. Trust me I questioned, asked, worried about ALL of those things. He provided and prepared beyond my wildest dreams ans He continues to do so. Think of this little girl and how she just might represent someone who is waiting for YOU. Step out in faith. He will provide everything you need.