Monday, December 13, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture

Ah yes, the classic debate. Made far more interesting when raising children whose nature comes from a completely different source.
My husband often accuses me of being just like my mother, which is in many ways a good thing, but in some not so much. Take for example our need to hover in the kitchen. When I was growing up I wanted to learn how to cook and would spend time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmothers. Both grandmothers were fantastic bakers and I have strong memories of watching them at their art. Equally strong are the memories of my maternal grandmother hovering over me and loudly instructing on the proper way to dust sphinges. Really? Does it matter how one distributes powdered sugar onto a ball of deep fried dough? Heaven forbid anyone tried to whip meringue under her watch. No one could ever master her technique of using a fork to transform egg whites into the fluffiest, most amazing topping imaginable. I used to think she should have her own cooking show. Although she would probably end up telling the audience, "Never mind. I'll come over there and do it myself."
Whether it be nature or nurture, my mother behaves the very same way when it comes to baking. I will never forget when my now 15 year old nephew helped make traditional Italian cookies for the first time. My mother's endless taunts of "That's too big. Stop playing with the dough!" almost brought him to tears. And my sister and I threw in the towel one year after she mocked our ability to properly roll the sesame seed cookies.
Sadly, I find myself acting the same way with my son. Every Sunday morning we make chocolate chip pancakes together. And I'll admit, I am a bit particular when it comes to the distribution of the chips. They really should be spread out nicely and not all clumped in one part of the pancake. I tell myself every week that it really doesn't matter where Paul puts the chips, but every week I end up micro-managing the chip distribution. I'm sure it's a control thing. I have no idea if I come by it genetically or it is a learned behavior. Was I unconsciously planning these moments in my head each time an elder chastised the way I did something in the kitchen? The bigger question of course: will it end with Paul? Or will he, in 30 years, be standing in his kitchen telling his children how to do things "just right"?
In the meantime, here is a lovely photo of Paul making cutouts. And Grandma trying not to hover.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making contact

I just got off the phone with our social worker from John's adoption. She contacted me because they have been receiving several packages and letters from John's foster mother and wondered how we were feeling about the amount of contact. I have to admit that it is leaving me conflicted. It was obvious from the enormous bag that arrived with John in JFK that his foster mother was very attached and enjoyed showering him with gifts. During the time that he was in her care, she took five albums worth of pictures, something that I am sure he will treasure (and already has - he loves looking at himself as a baby!) throughout his life. Just this past week we received another huge package with toys for both boys and a letter that was written in August. Apparently the gift was hand delivered by an escort who was bringing a baby to the US from Korea, the last arrival for a while as the agency has reached their yearly quota. The letter was very sad and described how much John's foster mother missed him after he left. My heart breaks for this woman as I can only imagine caring for a child for over a year and then sending him on a plane to live halfway around the world. Especially when that child is John - who is just a barrel of sweetness and love. I explained to our social worker that I have no problem sending her letters and pictures to help ease the pain of her loss, and that from what I have read believe that her need for contact will taper off with time. The reason I am feeling conflicted right now is because of Paul. He too had a wonderful foster mother, who described him as her busiest child ever (he was her 25th foster child). But after the initial exchange of letters and photos, we lost contact. I feel almost guilty maintaining any long term contact with John's foster mother because it just doesn't seem fair. Thankfully she always sends a gift for Paul and mentions him in her letters. I wonder how much of this he understands. We talk about his adoption pretty regularly, but he has never asked me questions about his birth parents or about the time he spent in Korea before he came into our family. Sometimes I wonder if one day it will suddenly occur to him that he could have led a completely different life. In the meantime, I hope that he is not feeling hurt by the letters and gifts. I am thankful for anything that ties my children to their homeland and know that they will appreciate it all someday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social divide

One of the biggest difference between me and my oldest son is the fact that he is extremely extroverted and I am most definitely an introvert. He jumps into social settings with both feet and is rarely afraid to strike up conversations with strangers, while I remain on the sidelines riddled with anxiety whenever confronted with new people. The good part in all of this is that he is teaching me to come out of my shell a little, and I have been working on opening up to people. It is hard not to when he garners a reaction from strangers wherever we go and has been doing so since he was a baby. The bad part is that he wishes to spend his days surrounded by others while I prefer the comfort of solitude. I have made efforts to accommodate his needs while on the home front by involving him in several social activities, but it never seems to be enough. He regularly questions me as to why we don't have more play dates and why other children do not come home with us from school. How do I answer him honestly? That I have a hard time approaching parents about such things? That I have learned to make small talk in some situations, but taking it to the next level fills me with fear and anxiety? That is not an easy thing to explain to a four year old who has no qualms about walking up to a complete stranger, introducing himself and sharing his life story. He is extremely popular with the neighborhood kids and will most likely continue to enjoy popularity his entire life. I have no idea what that feels like and honestly have no desire. Social temperament is something we are born with and it does not change. I inherited mine from my father, who fully understands and appreciates the need to escape from overwhelming crowds. My husband shares a similar mindset, and we often spent our pre-children weekends relaxing at home. We quickly learned that that lifestyle would not fly with our son. I remember coming home from our first Christmas and watching him sit in the middle of the family room floor, surrounded by toys, crying. He had been swept up in the chaos of the holiday and did not want it to end. So where do we go from here? I hope that we are able to reach some middle ground and perhaps learn from each other about how the other side of the social spectrum thrives. As for my youngest, he seems to be in the middle. Not nearly the social butterfly but nevertheless eager to impress a crowd. His sensitive soul with surely make him a good listener, someone who the girls will probably turn to when they are eager to get a date with big brother.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Halloween - what's not to like?

Sadly, it does not seem that John has the same enthusiasm for Halloween as the rest of us vans. (Paul is already talking about next year's costume, and CJ regularly wants to discuss how we can have the scariest house on the block.) Perhaps it is because he does not yet understand the joy of candy. Perhaps he is too young to appreciate the thrill of donning an alternate persona. Perhaps it is because there is a scary zombie in our front hallway. Whatever the reason, he most certainly does not like to get dressed up. My friend Nicky handed down her son's dragon costume and it is as cute as ever. But when I tried to put John in it for his story hour costume party, he completely lost it. Granted he is a bit out of sorts, suffering from a head cold and the arrival of several teeth, but his reaction was quite over the top. Being the insensitive mom that I am, I snapped a few pics before taking off the costume. In the end, he was happy to be a frog for an hour and collect things in his treat bag. Someone passed out cookies and I rewarded John for his bravery by letting him eat his immediately. Hopefully he will agree to wear the dragon costume for trick-or-treating, or at least our church party Sunday afternoon. It really is cute when the child inside isn't bawling his eyes out. Mom, please don't make me wear this scary costume! I don't want to be a frog either!!
Oh. Light sabers make it all better.

(In case you thought the frog looked familiar, it was Paul's costume for his first Halloween. And cousin Sam's a few years before that.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The force... it must be a boy thing

Feeling inspired by costume god Shawn, I dusted off the sewing machine and began working on Paul's Yoda costume. I was pretty proud of what I had accomplished until my husband came home and asked, "Is he supposed to be Spanish? Did you even look at a picture of Yoda?" Well, yes. I tried. But my searches kept turning up head shots and endless photos of dogs in costume. I suppose I could have popped in one of the movies and searched for a scene with him in it, but then I would have had to watch Star Wars. Ick. It's bad enough that I have to endure endless conversations about it with my son.
"Mom, mom. You know that guy in Star Wars? The one with the blue light saver?"
"What's he called again?"
"I have no idea."
"Mom, can I tell you something? Did you know that General Grievius (I believe his name is actually Grievous, but that's how P pronounces it) has four light savers??"
"That's so cool. Right mom?"
You get the idea. But I digress. After the humiliating unveiling of my poncho cloak, I enlisted the help of my husband. We both have basic sewing skills (thanks to our 7th grade home economics teacher) and he set to work on improving the costume. I had happily found a Yoda t-shirt earlier in the day that showcased his entire "person" and we were able to use that as a guide. (And then
hide it until Christmas.) I purchased a brown shirt that also contained Star Wars images and P could hardly contain his excitement while putting it on. The final part of last night's dress rehearsal was the presenting of the GREEN LIGHT SABER. I was surprised Paul did not ask to take it to bed with him.
Here is the boy at his first party of the week. I decided to wait until the actual holiday before applying green makeup to all of his exposed skin. Oh, and I still need to figure out what to do with his feet. ????????
P.S. I did not appreciate Target's anti-homeade costume commercial. Paul said to me today after the party: "Mom, I love my Yoda costume." So there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Make the perfect Halloween costume I must

Not sure if I am motivated by the desire to be the mom who creates awesome Halloween costumes from scratch, or the refusal to shell out 39.99 for a flimsy polyester piece of junk. This year it may just be because it is impossible to find a costume that fits my child's desire and current stature. Too short to fit into the boy costumes, he has been pouring over the Halloween catalog in search of inspiration. We convinced him that he would make a great Yoda and now he happily tells everyone he sees. Last year he changed his mind daily, and when he finally decided on a ghost the day before Halloween, I did my best to create a cool costume. I forgot, as my husband likes to point out, that our son does not walk, he runs. What started out as a ghost ended up as a muddy sheet with a giant hole for his head. I vowed not to let that happen again this year. Upon investigation I learned that the only available Yoda costumes were for babies and dogs. I did find a mask and quickly went into sticker shock followed by an image of my son not being able to see while trick or treating. Again. Then I found directions online for making your own and this morning we set off on a quest for materials. We quickly located tan fleece at the local fabric store (on sale!) and purchased a yard. Advice was given on how I should construct the cloak and hopefully I will not screw it up (more on that next week). I found a $1 pair of green gloves while checking out and had already purchased brown sweatpants for $3. The last two things on the list were a brown turtleneck and a green hoodie. The directions say to cut the sleeves off the hoodie, attach them to triangular pieces of cardboard and sew them onto the hood. Easy enough. What is not easy is finding a green hoodie. We went to four different stores before finally finding the right color (it matches the gloves PERFECTLY). However, it is a really nice hoodie. And I cannot bring myself to cut the sleeves. I thought about trekking back to the fabric store to see if I could just find some matching fleece, but at that point in our day the boys were both completely fried and we were late for library hour. Thankfully I still have next week to find some fabric and get the whole thing sewn. Stay tuned, more insanity to follow.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In need of a lifebook?

Baby books are not exactly adoption friendly. One of the suggestions given by many adoption experts is to create a lifebook for your child instead of a baby book so that he/she can understand and appreciate the journey to becoming part of a forever family. A fellow adoptive mom gave me a adoption friendly baby book to use for Paul, but it is rather intense and requires that I actually keep track of minor details that slip past us with little fanfare. I know there are moms out there that write down the dates of every tooth appearance and the first 100 words their child uttered. I am lucky that my son's have easy birthdays to remember. So yeah, the lifebook. I figured that because I am not much of a scrapbooker and more of a writer, I would keep journals for the boys instead. I started Paul's during the adoption process; back when I used to have a whole lot more idle time on my hands. But even with all that time I started to procrastinate and did not keep a very good record of how I was feeling during the stages of the process. And I didn't bring it with me to the airport where I could have killed the many hours of waiting with writing. Instead I tried to go back after the fact and write down key events that happened within the months leading up to and immediately following his arrival. (Thankfully I kept the calendar for that year!) But it seemed contrived and not very honest, and I wondered what Paul would think when he read it. I vowed to do a better job with our second child's journal. Unfortunately the first few entries were all about how we wanted a girl, and when we got the referral for John I ripped them out. Nothing like setting your child up with a complex. When I went to fill in the details of our journey, I couldn't find the 2008 calendar and was stuck trying to remember the order of events. I did manage to bring the journal to the airport this time and wrote a nice entry on the day of his arrival. I wrote it part way into the journal hoping I would go back and fill in the missing pieces. I promised myself I would be better this time and mark down important events of his first few months at home. I did neither. Yesterday I was cleaning out the shelves in our den, mostly because John regularly opens the cupboards and dumps out the contents and I needed a more baby proof system of organization, and I found the journals. Waves of guilt crashed over me as I flipped through them and then stuffed them into a box along with Paul's baby book and the calendars for 2007 and 2009 (still looking for 2008). I convinced myself that it would all be okay because I maintain this blog pretty regularly and it's a pretty good record of what has happened to my boys since April 2008. Would it be cheating to print out entries and just paste them in the journals? How horrible am I for not maintaining an actual lifebook for my sons? Paul is very familiar with his adoption story (a little too familiar perhaps as at one point he was convinced that all babies arrive on a plane from South Korea), but I think he is also the type that would appreciate it all in book form. I recently picked up a kid-friendly baby book and we worked on it together, but I felt horrible when it asked for "firsts" and he had either experienced them before joining our family, or I had forgotten when they happened. I honestly thought this would help me stay motivated in writing more down for John. It hasn't.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

At the Crossroads

Establishing yourself as a teacher requires staying in one place. And my life was not destined to play out that way. I married a Navy man and spent the early years of my career traveling around the country. On the positive side I was able to earn a Master’s Degree for a lot less money and in a lot less time than many of my peers. I also learned the fine art of resilience and have some crazy stories to tell about the places I have seen and the people I have met. But in order to establish myself as a teacher, we needed to settle down. So when my husband was faced with the decision to re-up or get out, he got out. For my sake. We moved back to our home state so that I could finalize my certification and put something substantial on my resume. I found a great job a few hours from where I grew up and was able to work there for almost four years, earning tenure and gaining confidence. But the nomadic lifestyle that we had grown accustomed to in addition to the growth of our family pulled us here. I left the comfort of my teaching job in hopes that I would easily find another in our hometown. Who could have predicted the crash in the economy and the profound impact it has had on education. It is now nearly impossible to find a permanent teaching job despite my years of experience and multiple certifications. Luckily I have the distraction of two amazing sons to keep me busy, but the pull of the classroom remains deep in my soul. I am faced with the decision of staying at home to raise my boys and ignoring the empty hole left by what should be a great career, or starting over in something completely different and more suited to the current economy? The other day I saw a story about a lawyer who was forced to enter the home cleaning business in order to make ends meet. It breaks my heart to think about people who spent years educating themselves and building a career only to be sidelined by the unavailability of jobs. I have to ask myself, is this a sign for me to try something different? Or do I just stick it out, knowing that eventually the economy will recover and the hiring of teachers will begin again?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Another look back

Paul's first Halloween and first trip to the pumpkin farm. It was about 80 degrees out that day! I love his sweet little face in this picture. Trip #2. Quite a bit colder but still tons of fun! Trip #3: Trip #4 was today. The weather was perfectly crisp and the boys had a great time checking everything out. Paul added a ghost-like facial expression for added entertainment. And of course I had to start the whole process with John. He was hesitant at first to stick his head through the hole, but quickly began to ham it up!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sorry, these are just too funny to keep to myself

Paul thoroughly enjoys taking pictures with his FP camera. When I downloaded them onto the computer I found that among the hundreds of shots of inanimate objects (you think I am exaggerating here, but there were at least 20 pictures of our garbage can), there are some pretty funny candid pics of the family.
I start with my nephew. The oldest of seven grandsons, he is the designated entertainer and he fulfills his job very well. Let's just hope he doesn't read my blog.
On the rare occasion that he lets someone else man the lens, Paul enjoys being a goofball.
I included the last shot due to its naughtiness factor. He is standing on top of the bookcase pointing his drill gun right at his cousin. Photographic proof of the lovely things boys do when left to their own devices.
Now for the best part. Ridiculous shots of me and my darling husband making faces.
Angry ones: Sad ones: And just plain goofy ones: Needless to say the proverbial apple, while not genetically related to the tree, has not fallen far.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Schedule me this

In an attempt to regain some sense of control in my life as I navigate the sea of staying at home, I decided to create a daily schedule. I studied the schedules posted on the local mom's forum by other SAHMs, and despite feeling utterly jealous at the fact that their children sleep until (gulp) EIGHT A.M., there seemed to be a calmness in the predictability of it all. And we need some calmness around here. I hoped that I could create some sanity in my mind by staring at a seemingly full calendar, even if its fullness involved nothing more than "snack", "playtime" and "nap". The initial draft has been completed and my next step is to create a visual version for Paul so that he can see what is coming up in our week. Paul is a stickler about routine and will ask every night at bedtime what we are doing the next day. The irony of these conversations is that when I was working it was the same response: "Daycare" and the guilty feelings would rush up as I worried my son was missing spending time with me. Now when I say, "I don't know, hon, whatever we want" he has a look of terror on his face. Thankfully we are able to keep him in school two days a week and I found a morning program through the local community center for two of the other days, leaving only one day of free-flowing nothingness. John, on the other hand, is much more laid back about life. While I realize that he cannot yet ask me what we are doing in a given day, he doesn't seem to mind when the schedule is altered. Today for example he fell asleep in the car on the way home for lunch. And now he is sleeping way past his normal nap time. Nothing like living with Mr. Rigid Predictability and his sidekick, Mr. Go-with-the-flow.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The first day of school

Paul at one, ready to take on the world with mommy's lunchbox.Paul at two, giddy with excitement as he is finally able to go "back daycare" after a long stint with mom at home. Paul, three years old and looking very dapper in his new shirt.Paul, four years old and ready for preschool! I think he was a bit nervous this morning as he asked me a million times if he was going to be an Orange Butterfly (the name of the Pre-K class at his center). All fears passed when he ran onto the playground and was greeted enthusiastically by his friends. "PAUL!!! WE'RE ORANGE BUTTERFLIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Ace of Cups

The sippy cup. It is a blessing and a curse. It allows for the safe and generally mess-free consumption of liquids both in and around the house and on the go. However it appears to have prevented my child from having any desire to drink out of a normal cup. Sitting at the table. Without spilling the contents. Everywhere. Okay. So I trek off to the store and purchase a couple of the nifty little water bottles that have popped up all over in an attempt to get Americans to kick the bottled water habit. I just want my kid to drink his milk. Without spilling it. The first type I try has a spill-resistant mouthpiece that is activated by biting. Ah. Paul will love that. He bites just about everything else (including his sunglasses) and will be able to enjoy his milk while watching TV and snuggling with blue blanket (the ONLY way to drink, according to him). Yeah. Notice I said "spill-resistant". I have no idea how he managed to create the mess that he did in his new water bottle this morning, but it was bad. Milk somehow sucked itself up the straw and out of the bottle, onto my couch and all over the floor as he carried it into the kitchen yelling, "My milk is spilling! My milk is spilling!" Sigh.
Water bottle #2: Slightly cheaper, but functioning on a similar suck-the-liquid-up-the-straw method. I foolishly allowed him to try drinking some juice out of it yesterday. For whatever reason he felt the need to bring the bottle into the bathroom and somehow it sprayed all over the kitchen floor. It remains a mystery as to exactly how these spill-resistant bottles seem to be more spill-causing than, say, a regular water bottle of yore with a simple pull top. Oh, I bought one of those too. But it is too hard for him to release the top on his own and he has a tendency to leave it slightly open... glug glug glug. Not to mention he has already bitten it to smithereens. And John desperately wants to use it because it more closely resembles his beloved bottle. Which, by the way, he has completely kicked!! He is transitioning well to the sippy cup. Ah, the cycle continues...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Double the fun

Okay, so I will admit to my faithful readers that going from one to two has been a bit of a struggle. At first it was the simple matter of getting everyone out the door. I had grown accustomed to tossing a bag of crackers in my purse and heading out the door with my self-sufficient four year old. Suddenly I was back to the dreaded DIAPER BAG, which was much too small for the many things I now needed to have with me at all times: diapers, wipes, change of clothes, spit up cloths (worried that John would throw up and I would be unprepared as I had been at the airport), toys, formula, bottle, sippy cup, snacks... you get the idea. And while I was frantically trying to cram everything into our too small bag, my oldest would be ready to go and impatiently opening and closing the door to the garage a million times. Sigh. I learned quickly to have bags ready to go in our back closet. Swimming bag packed with towels, change of clothes, sunscreen and snacks. Diaper bag packed the night before, with drinks waiting in the fridge. I also began prepping the kitchen the night before with early morning cereal and milk. I can do this, I thought. Except for one small problem... my four year old.
Paul has always been a high-energy kid with tendencies toward impulsive behavior. So I really shouldn't be all that surprised that those behaviors have been magnified since John came into our lives. And having considerable experience with children who have similar dispositions, I should also not be surprised that he craves routine. And is slowly falling to pieces without it. We do try. For two weeks he went to swimming lessons everyday and loved it. Then my brother was in town and playing with cousins was an ideal distraction. He had Vacation Bible School for a week - another great activity. And now... we have nothing but that late days of summer to idle away before routine returns. The really sad part? Without a job in September and a firm rejection from our town's Universal Pre-K, there will be no routine in September. I am hoping to keep him in daycare for at least two days a week if we can swing it financially, so he has something to look forward to besides endless hours with mommy and little brother. Don't get me wrong - I try to plan outings and fun activities, but a gung-ho SAHM I am certainly not. The fleeting thoughts I once had about home schooling my children? Gone out the window when I brought home Mr. Social Butterfly.
As things began to tumble not so gently downhill in the van household, and I seriously contemplated calling Super Nanny, it became clear that we needed behavior modification. With the help of my good friend Amy and some input from the boy, we began on our quest to made things more peaceful. Yesterday was the first day using the new system. The morning went surprisingly smooth, but around midday it started to unravel. I have to remind myself that these things take time (P definitely "inherited" his impatient, why am I not seeing results NOW attitude from me), but hopefully we are on the road to recovery.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The trail of O's

To help ease the transition and smooth the trials and tribulations of toddler hood, I have tried to get John to take on a comfort object. When he was around 18 months old, Paul started being more exclusive with "blue blanket" and it helped ease him through our move and other stressful situations. He now loves to cuddle with blue blanket whenever relaxing, sweetly caressing her soft corners. During his first days home I showed John different blankets and stuffies, but nothing seemed to take. I noticed a pillow featured in many of his foster family photos and placed it into his bed along with a blanket/bear sent by his Aunt Karen. They seem to help with sleep, but neither object receives as much love as... THE PINK CUP. Let me rephrase that: the pink cup fully stocked with Cheerios. Based on how much he loves to eat, I really wasn't that surprised that he clung to the self-feeding cup like it was his BFF. Seriously. You cannot pry the thing out of his hand for anything. He even tries to drink his milk while holding onto the cup. Yesterday I bought an additional self-feeding cup, but I have a sick feeling it will not be as loved and he will cry for his pink one.
Here is some photographic proof of how much he loves to eat. He liked the peaches so much he tried to eat the container. Here's a shot shortly after he sucked down a serving of ketchup and then began to eat the paper cup. And then there's the ravioli. (The next time I served these I used a bib.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yin and Yang

The brothers van are a riot. They are completely different in many ways, with the exception of their profound love of screeching and turning everything into a drum. John has been adjusting remarkably well to his new family and we couldn't be more pleased. Aside from a few night wake ups wanting to eat (he is still taking formula from a bottle - we are waiting a few weeks before attempting to wean) he has been sleeping very well. The first few nights after Paul came home were an nightmare. He refused to sleep in his crib and would scream like crazy unless someone was holding him AND moving. I lost several pounds circling the basement for hours singing "Jesus Loves Me" and "This Little Light of Mine" and CJ spotted the infamous black bear in our backyard at 4am (one of the highlight's of Paul's adoption story!). Not John. We learned not to even try the crib and instead have him set up in a pack in play in our bedroom. After getting sufficiently drowsy from the bottle, I place him in his bed and stay in the room until he falls asleep. Which he does with little to no fussing. Even tonight, when he was struggling to wind down, he was able to put himself to sleep. It took months before Paul was able to do that and even to this day he often needs reminders to settle down and go to sleep.
The other big difference lies in what CJ refers to as motivation. Paul has always been a mover and a shaker; he is a very determined problem solver who was ready to take on the world as soon as he was fully mobile (at 9 months old). John is very passive about things and will get frustrated when faced with a problem. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out as they get older. For now, I am just trying to keep my head above water and thinking about investing in a good pair of earplugs.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The van family three becomes four!

We left bright and early Wednesday morning for the big trip. Unfortunately I misread the flight departure time and got us there with over two hours to spare. CJ watched a movie and I tried to fill in some of John's adoption journal. Let's just say it's a good thing I have been recording some of the past two year's events on this blog because the journal contained a whopping two entries. After a slight delay on the plane, we arrived in the sweltering heat of NYC. A street thermometer read 104 degrees. No lie. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel, grabbed a sandwich from a nearby deli and headed to Times Square to take in a show. The walk from subway to ticket booth to theater was unbearably hot and we were grateful to spend a few hours in the cool air watching Promises, Promises. We grabbed a bite to eat at a Argentinian restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to refresh and wait.
Around 10 pm it was time to make our way to JFK. I felt we were pushing it a little close to the edge time wise (John's plane was due to arrive early, around 11:39) but I am glad we did not get there any sooner as the waiting area was smaller than the place we met Paul and had no seating in the direct line of view. When we got there the terminal was empty except for the other two waiting families. CJ regaled them with some of our previous pickup horror stories (in a fashion similar to a veteran mom telling stories of labor to a pregnant lady about to deliver) and tried to offer some advice. The place quickly filled up with passengers arriving from various destinations as we stared warily at the arrival information board awaiting our son's flight. My mouth was incredibly dry and I regretted the several glasses of tea I drank at the hotel in a effort to stay awake. CJ was the picture of calmness while I paced nervously. Finally the plane from San Franciso was at the gates and passengers began unloading. I spotted a Korean woman with a baby sling and tried to see if it was our son. One of the other waiting families was closer to the front and assumed it was their child (a daughter) based on the red outfit and tufts of hair. Tufts of hair? Wait, let's back up. The day before we left I received pictures in the mail from our social worker and learned that John possessed very long, wispy hair. So when I saw the hair I knew it was him. But the other family began video taping and taking pictures anyway. It was weird. Our greeter looked at his tags (the children are required to wear bracelets identifying them to avoid potential mix ups) and then looked at us. Yep. Our son. The escort approached us and I caught my first glimpse. He was sleeping peacefully against her chest. Aside from the hair, I noticed that he was chubby. Really chubby. And so darn cute! The escort passed him to me in his carrier and he woke up with a start. And immediately started crying. I knew this was coming and wasn't too shocked or upset. We were total strangers at this point and I'm sure we smelled funny. The escort spoke very good English (Paul's did not, she said maybe 2-3 words to us and took off) and told us how John did on the plane. She said he started to get so upset near the end of the flight that he had vomited several times. He continued to cry in my arms and threw up twice; once on my foot and once down my arm. Now CJ & I both struggle with barf and thankfully Paul has a stomach of steel. So we were both totally unprepared for the vomit. No spit up cloth, no paper towels. Thankfully, the escort and one of the other waiting moms (she said she has a barfer at home) helped clean me up. Unfortunately the smell got to me (it was all over his carrier and shirt at this point) and I felt pretty awful for the rest of the night. I know some people meet their children for the first time and it is love at first sight. I wish I could say that it was like that with my boys, but it is definitely a love that grows slowly. Between being an overly caffeinated nervous wreck and waiting to throw up, I wasn't quite ready for the love yet. But he is definitely our son and we are going to love him forever.
Being parents for the second time helped the transition process tremendously. During the cab ride home CJ busted out the Baby Einstein video and had John instantly transfixed. Back at the hotel we offered him puffs (ridiculously over priced and completely addictive to babies) and he was happy as a clam. CJ and J fell asleep watching the discovery channel and I nervously tossed and turned, worrying about the baby falling off the bed, worrying that we would miss our flight home, worrying about how things would change once we did get home. But we got home without a hitch; J had a blast walking through the airport and did wonderfully on the plane. We are learning that J is an incredibly mellow baby. He is the yin to P's yang. But more on that later.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The boy is coming, the boy is coming!

I had about reached my wits end waiting for the phone call. Seriously! We went out to Kim's house for 4th of July weekend to celebrate Karen's biannual visit, and she said it would just figure that we'd get the call after they left. My husband continued his mantra of, "I won't hold my breath" and I figured nothing would happen until at least Tuesday. Of course the 4th of July in Korea is simply another day on the calendar and Monday was not a holiday for them. Sure enough, I got a phone call around 10 am with a 516 area code. Previous to this moment I had made sure our social worker had her own ringtone so that I could begin an early freak out at the sound of the phone. When it rang and I saw the area code I thought, "nah... it's a holiday!" and even when the woman announced herself I thought, "They are probably just harassing me for some missing paperwork that was suddenly discovered or asking the same question that I have already answered 12 times." Nope. There was a single solitary social worker in the office and she just thought I would like to know that the flight information came through for our son. He is coming home on Wednesday. THIS Wednesday??? July 7???? My extremities began to tingle and then my entire body went numb. We have been waiting for this call for seven and a half months. It was fitting that it came on a holiday (and my sister-in-law's birthday!) seeing as we got the referral over Thanksgiving. And if the plane is delayed he will have the same gotcha date (minus four months) as Paul.
So the crazy preparations have begun. In fact I need to get offline so I can make some more phone calls and get packing! In the meantime I am left with a photo of my son from four months ago. I hope we recognize him when he gets off the plane!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Those Crazy vans!!

We never let an opportunity to dress up pass us by. Especially when it involves amusing accessories. So when our niece announced that she would be having a luau themed graduation party we were psyched. The invitation clearly stated to get grass skirts and coconut bikinis ready... and we did. Before leaving the house we decided to snap a few pics. They turned out somewhat amusing. First I had to take a pic of our darling ham all decked out in the too small Hawaiian outfit we bought for him three years ago on our trip to the Big Island. CJ tried to take some pics of me and the boy but, well, my husband likes the candid shots. So we gave the camera to Paul, resulting in us looking a bit like giants. "Isn't there a self-timer on this thing?"
"Yeah, it's right here." Once we figured out how to use the timer we just needed to line up the shot and coordinate our pose. Ahhh... perfect!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Everyone but us...

My darling husband is threatening to take the computer away if I don't stop stalking blogs and adoption forums in some vain effort to make myself feel better. (Which is obviously not working - I am a miserable mess!) I watch as family after family hears news of EP approvals and travel calls while we hear.... nothing.... The silence is KILLING ME!! I swear I must check my phone 18 million times a day. It was vibrating today after lunch and my heart stopped... until I saw it was the dentist's office reminding me of my upcoming cleaning. Sigh. It doesn't help that we are in week two of exams at school and I have finished my checklists, cleaned out my desk and just sit sit sit sit sit all day long with nothing to think about but my son, halfway around the world, waiting to come home. It also doesn't help that every five minutes someone asks me about if we've heard anything. Believe me, the WORLD will know when we get that call.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Floor: Before and After

Recently CJ replaced the ugly yellow carpet in our living room/dining room with beautiful hardwood floors. It was a pretty big project and thankfully he had the help of my uncle's nail gun and a noisy new compressor to help. Paul did his share of supervising from a safe distance equipped with his safety goggles and ear protection. Sadly because my pics were destroyed in the virus, the only before picture I have is one I posted a while back on the blog. But it gives you the general idea. The carpet was in better shape than the stuff we had upstairs (which was immediately removed!) but it was still old, stained and smelly. So it had to go. CJ had wanted to replace it as one of the first house projects, but other things took priority. Needless to say he was overjoyed with the results.