Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Parent Extends Her Hand

Yesterday I went up to my school to complete some paperwork for the summer program I run in August. In my box I found the sweetest note from a parent of one of my 09-10 students (Mrs. E.). She adopted her daughter from China and is involved in the local adoption community. In fact, she is a board member of the local chapter of Families with Children from China.

Apparently, the group is slowly reaching out to include families with children from several other countries which includes Korea. Mrs. E offered to be a resource for me and went to so far as to say she would "be honored" to do so. She included her phone number and I plan to take her up on her offer by next week at the latest.

We are so blessed by all of the support that we have received. Much of it has come from expected sources, our loving friends and family, but then there are these more out of the blue offers of help as well. One of my friends commented on her belief in fate and how these extensions of support are proof that this is what God had intended. Certainly food for thought as our circle broadens.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Man

Christian will be awake on his second birthday by now as it is already June 28th in Korea. I hope he has a wonderful day. I wish we were able to celebrate his birth with him in person. We gave him a pretty big gift of time this weekend by painting his room. Do you think he would appreciate it?


We can not wait to meet you. Your dad and I are hope that you have the happiest of birthdays with your foster family. We can not wait to get to celebrate the rest of your birthdays with you.

Will your foster mom make you your favorite food to eat? I sure hope she does! Will there be cake? How will your special day be celebrated?

You should get the picture book we sent very soon. I am sorry it didn't make it to Seoul for your birthday.

With all of my love,


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Things We Do For Love

It is a well known fact that parents regularly complete tasks, ranging from the mildly unpleasant to totally miserable, for the sake of their children. Adoptive parents start to realize this part of parenthood long before their child comes home - when they first begin the process. From the application, to the homestudy, to all of the government required paperwork the process is a lot of work and none of it what one would consider very fun. However, it isn't really very painful either.

This past month I have moved to a whole new level of what I have suffered for the sake of our son. I have been working since June as a "teacher" at a local High School. The program was advertised to the staff as a "fun" way to get the incoming freshman ready for the school's IBMYP (International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme). We were told to plan a four day interdisciplinary unit and I was initially very excited about our Area of Interaction of Environments and our theme of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It became clear early on, say during the week of planning, that things were not going to live up to my expectations. First, the only ones doing any planning were those of us that were to have students in the rooms with us. All of the multiple "leaders" well who knows what they were doing, but it certainly was not planning. The disorganization alone is enough to drive this type A personality insane.

Then there is the lack of integrity. There have been so many false promises I am quickly losing track. The "leaders" throw each other under the bus regularly and will never admit personal fault for any thing that goes wrong. Considering that one of the characteristics of an IBMYP students, characteristics we are supposed to model, is principled I find this particularly appalling.

The kids are tired! The days are too long, the number of days too many, and the accountability is too little. I am having enough trouble keeping up my own motivation to be here much less the motivation and engagement of the students. This week I had a group where no less than half the students were roamers (refusing to stay in their groups that I mistaking let them choose) and had the propensity to yell even when the person they were communicating with sat only a foot or two away.

My homeroom is sweet, but since the first week they have only been with me an hours a day. The rest of the time I feel like I am struggling for air. One of the other teachers says it is because my expectations are too high, my desire to have this be a truly meaningful experience to great, and I guess I am apt to agree. I am trying to take on a different attitude about the whole thing and perhaps it will help make the last week bearable.

So to get back to the things parents do for their children, in case you haven't already draw your own correct conclusions, the initial motivation for working this summer was to earn funds for all things Christian. Last week, when things were getting more difficult to handle, I placed two of his pictures in front of the computer as a reminder. The money I am earning well help us to put together his bedroom, buy his wardrobe, help pay for the last minute plane tickets we will have to purchase, etc.

On a much less winy note, the fundraiser we started last weekend is going very well. It is certainly a much more pleasant way to add to the monies needed for The Korea Travel Fund. Thank you to everyone that has contributed so far. The three of us really can not say enough times how appreciative we are for all of the support.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Father's Day

Frig celebrated his first Father's Day this weekend in several ways. First, on Saturday he received an extremely appropriate card from his Dad. "Here's a card made espescially for the Father that likes working with his hands." On the inside it contains an actual band-aid. You don't have to know Frig for very long to know how appropriate this card is.

Next, he and my Dad moved the majority of the furniture out of the nursery and into the guest room. The two of them work so well together. Mom and I stayed out of there way. Now we can start painting next weekend. We have to wait until next week to throw out the old mattress that was in the guestroom, but we have to do it this month or wait for August.

I gave him a set of absorbent sand stone coasters he had his eye on when we went shopping awhile back. It's something small, but something he very much wanted. Also, with saving for the trip he would have been upset had I gone extravagant.

Next we went for a long brunch at one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants. There was so much food we were able to eat leftovers for dinner. Frig loves being able to make one meal into two or three so this was just his speed.

Finally, we found out we made progress on the t-shirt fundraiser. This is super exciting to both of us. It was a great day and the next Fathers Day will be several times better since our son will be here with us and not in another country.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Plane Ride Diversions

My mom and I spent several hours shopping today. Mostly we purchased items for Christian to have fun with during the grueling plane ride from Seoul to Houston. Mom suggested a local store that focus on the first few years of a child's life, Right Start, as a good place for us to start. As usual she was right. We purchased two soft books. They are tons of fun and included lots of different textures. One story is about a dog and his bone. Each page has a different textured place where Christian will be able to hid the bone. The second book will get him familiar with adjectives when he gets to feel the woolly lamb, but until then I hope he enjoys getting to feel all of the different fabrics.

Many of you may also be familiar with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I know my siblings and I loved this book when we were younger. We purchased a "toddler version" of the book with very thick pages and the right size for little hands to hold. To go along with the book we bought the development caterpillar. One of the soft books and the caterpillar are both by KIDS Preferred.

We also bought a duck puppet that can be used for entertainment both in and out of the bath as it is made out of wash cloth material.

We still had not found my mom's dream toy; something she had seen a young girl playing with while in a waiting room a few days back. It is a magnetic person with clothes which can be changed. While the girl had been playing with a female "doll" but my mom envisioned the same item with a male magnet. We went to a teacher's supply store and found the very item. Apparently the item was new on their inventory. While at the teacher supply we also bought several sticker books and some arts and crafts items we can use to make pictures on the drop down trays.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Travel Buddy

My sister and I have gotten lost in many cities together. Most recently was last summer when she picked me up from the Cleveland airport and we got turned around, more than once, while adventuring around the city. I also had the pleasure of her company on two of the trips I have taken to Europe. Consequently we have been lost is London, Paris and Edinburgh. As we have gotten older it seems that we have come to grips with this being our destiny. The last episode was taken so much more in stride and definitely one of my best sister memories.

I look forward to getting lost in Seoul with my sister. Getting to experience the culture of Korea with someone so open minded and adventurous is a dream come true. She is going to be the GREATest Ah-chew-mo-nee (aunt) EVER.

Plus my "Gotcha Day" (the day we pick Christan up) pictures will be AMAZING with an artist being the one to take them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Culinary Genius

Frig and I have been on a culinary adventure the past few days. Now that we have all the "key" ingredients to be able to make the recipes in Korean Cooking Made Easy we are taking full advantage.

These "key" ingredients are certain items that show up in the recipes time and again which we would not have had in our pantry prior to two weeks ago. These items include hot pepper paste, soy bean paste, garlic paste, sesame oil, and sesame paste. Since our first foray into Korean cooking, bulgogi, we have also made a noodle dish and last night Frig made the red pepper grilled fish. All three dished have been a delight.

As we have been reading up on toddler adoption and attachment the change in smells has come up time and again. Children that are adopted will potentially grieve for many reasons and one of these is the change is the smell in the house. We thought we would try to counteract this by cooking Korean dishes several times a week. Making Korean dishes for ourselves as well as feeding Christian the foods he is used to eating during the important attachment period. While some of the foods he eats require heating; therefore, adding aroma to the house, this is the always the case.

Both of us really are in love with the culinary genius that is Korean cuisine. We consider our family lucky that both Frig and I have adventurous pallets. Kimchi is a side dish we look forward to with each of these meals. I have decided that if my German and Mexican ancestors were forced to come up with a dish together that something close to kimchi would be the ultimate result. It has the spice of many Mexican dishes with the fermented cabbage aspect that is German sauerkraut.

We will be eating bulgogi again one night this week, I picked up the required Asian pear from H Mart this weekend, but who knows where else our little cookbook will take us. If nothing else we have already picked out the two dished we plan to make for my parents this weekend when they come into town. The four of us will celebrate Father's Day by moving furniture out of the nursery.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


One of my friends and I went on Korean culinary adventured today. We started out at one of the restaurants that my student X. had suggested. If your in the Houston area I highly suggested trying it out. Nam Gang is located at 1411 Gessner just north of Long Point.

We enjoyed it very much. More so than the previous place we had searched out on our own several months ago. The waitress was very friendly and helpful. This had not been the case at the other place.

We had Korean style BBQ which you cook at your table on an in the table grill. For all of the BBQ you order the meat you prefer which could be beef in several styles, pork, seafood, or a combination. We went with beef today (last time we had a beef and seafood combo). In addition to the meat you are brought a whole bunch of different side dishes. Today the sides included egg cake (which I love), Kimchi, lotus root, pickled green beans, watercress, pickled Korean cucumber, and more. If you eat all of one side, and want more, then they will bring you more. We have just enough left over to tease Frig when he gets home from work.

After lunch we went to the H Mart. This time I came with a list of key ingredients I will need to start making dishes from the Korean Cooking Made Easy book I purchased some time ago. We were struggling a bit with finding some of the items. We just had no idea where to look for them. After awhile we enlisted the help of a kind stranger, but her English wasn't quite where it needed to be to help us with everything we were looking for.

The very kind stranger suggested that the dried mushrooms would be in produce. Despite my best judgment I went to take a look and boy was I glad that I did. I found one of my students from last year and his VERY helpful mom.

Mrs. H. showed where to find the last few items, but she did so much more than that. She showed me the dried fish she thinks Christian is eating and told me how prepare it. She showed me the regular seaweed he most likely eats and how to serve it as well. They were giving samples of seaweed and rice balls, SUPER easy to make, and she encouraged me to buy a bag. I was very pleased to be able to tell her that I already had a bag in my cart. She pointed out several more easy items she felt a two year old would be very happy with eating and that would be very easy for me to serve. Mrs. H. also instructed me on the fine art of purchasing Kimchi - best brand, how color corresponds to when it was made, and what to do with it if it is a "fresh batch" to make it "the way Koreans like it". She said several times that if I did what she suggested "he will feel just like he is in Korea".

We parted by her offering to help me whenever I need it - pointing out that her phone number is in the school directory. I plan to take full advantage of the offer!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Omma, Appa, and Halmonee

I have been working hard on my flashcards. Initially I was flipping through all 55 completed cards, I have another similar sized stack that only have the English side completed, and making no head way. I realized I need to learn a few at a time and add to that set each day.

I am up to 17 cards so far. All but three of these are single words associated with family. I know them well enough that they run through my head while driving, when taking a shower, trying to get some sleep, etc. Words like ...

Ah-chew-mo-nee = aunt
Ah-cho-she = uncle
Adur = son (sadly this is one of the words I had the most trouble with with student X. was helping me with the flash cards)
Hal-mo-nee = grandmother

These are all written phonetically. My student X. and I had a list to go by, but sometimes the phonetics on the list and my brain did not mix for correct pronunciation. In those cases she would help me until I got it and I would write my own "phonetics". She also recorded all of the words from the list for me. I asked her to do this at the advice of two of my aunts. Frig and I have been super impressed with how nicely the recording turned out. She took her time, slow careful pronunciations, and a few seconds dead space between words. I need to get her a little something when we start back to school.

Well as I said before there are three cards with phrases which I added to the "learn" stack yesterday morning. When Frig woke I went over all three with him. That evening when I was reviewing I said "Mul-won-ha-nee?" to which he replied "What do you want?" I was so impressed I though I would ask him the other two, but he was quick to tell me that was the only one that stuck. Why that one? Like I told student X., I don't know how good of an idea it will be to know that question since there is a very good chance I won't know what Christian is saying when he responds.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I purchased a carrier today. Carriers are BIG in Korea and it only seems natural to me that Frig and I would continue with what makes Christian feel comfortable as much as we possibly can. I considered purchasing a traditional Korean carrier, but after asking the advice of a mom that has BTDT four times I decided to purchase one in the good old USA.

For one thing Korean carriers run small. While that might work Okay for me to get a large there is no way it would fit Frig. Secondly, I can't imagine Frig wearing a Korean carrier, if I could find one large enough, because of how it would look.

I went with a carrier from BabyHawk. This is a picture of the carrier being used on the back, but it can also be used as a front carrier. The cloth on our carrier is a geometric pattern with concentric circles in blue and olive on a white background. The straps will also be olive.