Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How are we doing? ( Home 5 weeks)

Butterfly House at State Fair
Gracie's First Time to Somerset
Gracie with her big brother the "pro".

The three peas in a pod.
Short Answer: FANTASTIC!!!!!

Detailed Answer: Everyone here is doing exceptionally well.
Will, is phenomenal. He is the "professional big brother". I do not think he could adore Gracie more. He loves her so much and is so sweet and patient. He plays with her, helps her, entertains her, makes her laugh, wants to carry her around, feed her. He insists that she is the smartest and cutest baby he has ever met. He regularly tells me he loves her so much. I am so impressed with him. Now, if your talking about how he treats Leo, not quite the same. With Leo, Will is either fantastic or terrible. However, I must say that fortunately, I often see them really enjoying and loving each other a lot. Yet, they annoy each other quite often as well.

Leo, is a "tweener". I have come to the realization that 3 yrs old is a "tweener" stage and having a new sister really makes that more obvious. When your 3, your not the baby anymore and not really a toddler anymore either but it still feels good to be "babied" sometimes. Yet he's not really a full-fledge preschooler yet. He's a young preschooler. Three year olds seem to be a lot like two year olds just bigger, louder and more verbal. We have had some serious tantrums, which we describe as "chimp wars" because when he's screaming it sounds like chimps fighting and sadly it's not really an exaggeration.

Leo still wants to be carried sometimes. He wants to be in my lap when I'm holding Gracie sometimes. He has probably had daily crying spells of "I want my mommy" when I am taking care of Gracie and he has to have Papa help him instead of me. He says to Papa, "I don't want you/ don't like you." Yet on the other side he is proud to be a big brother, to be getting bigger, going to preschool, having his backpack for school, starting to be able to sort of write his name. All of this, I certainly attribute more to his age than having a new sister.

He does really love Gracie, he likes to give her hugs and kisses--which she does not exactly appreciate because they are not always very "loving" or gentle. He is still trying to figure out how to interact with a baby and what it means to be a big brother. He sticks his face about 2 inches from hers and just smiles at her and says nothing. She of course responds with the, get out of my face reaction. He has figured out some games that make her laugh and really is proud when he does make her laugh. There is already some "sibling rivalry" like knocking her over and taking toys, not wanting her to touch him or be in the room with him when he is watching TV--- all of which he has learned by the fabulous example set for him by Will (and I think it's also "instinctual" to some degree).

Gracie is doing so well I feel like I need to pinch myself sometimes. She is the sweetest, easiest baby. She has adjusted very well, quickly and easily. She is well attached to me and has been enjoying everyone else in the family. She loves Papa but will not let him give her a bottle. She lets him rock her to sleep and doesn't protest when he tries to give her the bottle, she just doesn't drink it. Yet when I come in and rock her, she sucks the bottle down. Her signals are very easy to read. She really only cries when she's hungry, tired, wants a bottle or is mad because I am changing her diaper, washing her face or getting her dressed. She says "mahmah" which means food/bottle in Korean so she isn't really calling me mama yet. She has picked up the signs for "more" and "all done" very quickly. She is a very smiley, happy baby. She is very curious and likes exploring and checking out things around the house. She is definitely shy of new people and needs to be close to me (or John) when new people are around. Once she gets used to them she becomes can become very engaging, social and even teases. She sleeps great, naps great and goes to bed early (7-7:30). I can put her down awake and wave "bye" to her and she waves back and if she does "protest" it is done within about 3-5 minutes. She is an amazing and precious little girl. I have moments daily when I am so grateful and honored to be her mother. I an humbled to have the privilege of sharing this life with her.

So all in all, we couldn't be doing better.

I will put up a post for the great Tol party we had for Gracie's 1st birthday next.
Take care.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some photos of life at home.

Having lots of fun playing at 1:00am.

Puppy dogs are fascinating!! ( and a little bit scary depending on my mood)

Will loves his sister.

Probaby Gracie's first time in a highchair. The trick is, put food on the tray first, then she gets the idea of what your trying to do. Otherwise, not so happy about the highchair.

Gracie not quite ready to let others hold her. Just mama.

Gracie on "Seoul time" still sleeping soundly at 10:00 am on Sat morning. (midnight in Seoul)

Friday, August 7, 2009

We made it home!!!

A very bittersweet time. Saying thank you and goodbye. Finally, we get to go home with our baby girl.

Gracie's first night sleeping with us.

Zonked out on our flight to Narita, Japan.

Hanging out during our layover in Narita, Japan during on our way home.

Some of our welcome home decorations.

Both families together.

Well, I am sitting here at 12:30am on Friday evening, with everyone in my family sleeping far. I think I may still be on "Korea time" because I feel pretty wide awake.

On Thursday, the day we were to get Gracie, John and I made it back to the Guest House at 3:50 from our morning/afternoon at the "Korean Folk Village"..... to meet with the foster family and get Gracie at 4pm. Needless to say we were a bit stressed out on our subway ride home about making it on time. We were riding back in disbelief at ourselves that the most important meeting of our trip we were going to walk in, hopefully, just on time. I would definitely attribute that kind of behavior to being third time parents. We really wanted to get one last sightseeing adventure in before we had Gracie for the whole evening Thursday. We did make it just on time, thank goodness. As we walked up the steps of the building our social worker was walking out of her office to go upstairs and meet with us, Gracie and the foster family for the last time. We quickly dropped off our things and went to the meeting room.

In the meeting room, Gracie's whole "first family" was there Omma, Appa, and their three biological children (ages 8,14, and 15). We took a final picture of Ye Jin with her first family and then a picture of both families together. We said our last thank yous and goodbyes. Gracie was actually quite calm and unaware of all that was going on around her. Of course, everyone else was crying. I started getting teary when I was given the "care package" the foster mother put together for Gracie for the trip home. She gave us her three favorite toys, a beautiful necklace from the family, some clothes, her barretts, pajamas and all kinds of food for her to eat; mandarin oranges, sticky rice, korean soft bread, "corn puffs", and baby cheese. She put everything together with such love and thoughtfulness. I was so touched by how much she loves my little girl. John and I both really lost it when we saw Gracie's "siblings" crying. The three of them were sitting on the couch like three little sad ducks in a row, red faced and heartbroken. To see their love for Gracie and how heartbroken they were letting her go, was too much for me. I was heartbroken, to see their hearts breaking. I think it is something that will forever bring me to tears when I think about it. It is wonderful to know how deeply our Gracie was cherished. Omma and Appa were heartbroken as well, but they held their composure much better then the children. We gave our last hugs and then they left the room. Both John and I sat there with this beautiful little girl, who had no idea how her life had just drastically changed. Of course, we know it is a good thing and all for the best in the end but it didn't make it any less difficult. We both tried to smile through our tears, so we wouldn't freak out Gracie. We played with her for a while and she remained pretty content and calm. She amazingly, did not cry at all. After playing with us for about 15 minutes, she crawled down off the platform and over to the door. The door was ajar, so she swung it open and crawled out into the hallway to look for her first family, and they were gone. She crawled down the hall a little ways toward where she would come in for her monthly checkups. I went over and picked her up and walked with her down the hall to show her that they were not there. She was looking for them. When she realized they were not there, she still did not cry at all.

At that point we decided to bring her up to our room and play with her there, get some dinner and pack to leave for our flight in the morning. She was amazingly doing "fine". We took her down the block and ate some fried chicken for dinner (we had our fill of Korean food by that point, which is pretty much all we ate the whole time we were in Korea, no fast food chains for us). Gracie slept in the baby carrier while we ate our dinner. We then took her to Dunkin Donuts and got smoothies to cool us down and she ate some out of the straw and thought it was fabulous. Who can't win a baby over with sweets? We then walked back to our room and played with her.

She was so cute, smiley and engaging. We just sat half dazed in amazement that she was really with us, for good. We played your typically one-year old games...."pick up and throw things" and "put things up and knock them down". She started exploring, crawling around the room and pulling herself up to standing, but she would not get more than a few feet from me with out getting stressed. For as entertaining as John was during the meetings, and as funny as she thought he was, she did not want him to hold her. If John tried to hold her she would fuss immediately and she actually became this way more so during our travel home. As we were playing with her, we started to realize she was playing a game. It is a common "game" played with babies in Korea. It involves saying "jahk jahk goong" (which means clap your hands), then you say "dori, dori, dori" (which means shake your head), and then "jam, jam, jam" (which means open and close your hands). When we started playing the game with her she "lit up" with pleasure that we knew "her game" and that we were praising her "brilliance". I think she decided we were ok after that. We hung out and tried to pack for a while longer and then Gracie started to get tired. She goes to sleep so far. When she is tired she just lays on the floor and starts to bury her face in her special blanket and sticks her little behind in the air (so cute). I put her in her pajamas and rocked her with a bottle. She drank it and fell asleep immediately. I laid her down in the bed with me and she slept throughout the night. She did fuss a bit, like she was having a bad dream but never woke up. I could tell when she wanted a bottle because would start to suck loudly in her sleep and grunt a little bit. She didn't even cry for the bottle, which I believe is a testament to the foster mother meeting her needs so readily.

Oops... gotta go, I hear her fussing. She's waking up...I spoke too soon.

Ok, I'm back, two nights later....

She is really a good sleeper she has just been waking up a few times in the evening for a bottle and also to play. Yes, I said play. Her body is still on Seoul time, especially her digestive system. Last night I took some video of her very actively playing at 12:30 am.
Anyway, back to our trip home:

We woke up the next morning and she was fine when she saw me in the morning instead of her Omma. She was actually quite happy, smiley and playful... as long as I didn't leave her sight.

We got ready and brought the bags down to the van. That morning, the President of the agency, Mrs. Dr. Kim was there to meet us and say a goodbye prayer for Gracie and another little boy that was leaving with his family that morning as well. We tearily, watched that foster mother separate from her little boy and drove off in the van to the airport. Both babies fell asleep in the van on the way. It was a very quiet ride to the airport, no crying. We were amazed.

We checked our bags and got on our flight. Gracie did very, very well on the flights home. No crying or screaming. She was actually quite a happy, content and active baby. She slept in my arms a good 6-7 hours of the trip. She had a pretty active couple of hours during dinner service where she was wanting to climb all over and grab things, so I took her to the back of the plane so John could eat without her grabbing and pulling the food in his lap. When he was done he came to get me and we switched so I could eat. At that point, Gracie did start crying because she was not with me. These were the first tears we had seen from her. From then on, Gracie did get upset and cry if John would hold her, like when I went to the bathroom on the airplane. So unless I had to go to the bathroom, I was holding her the whole trip, which was fine. I actually slept when she slept so I did get some "decent" sleep...if that's possible on a plane. Overall, the flight home went amazingly smooth, it was dragging all our luggage that stunk.

Grandma Kathleen picked us up from the airport. Gracie did not enjoy the car ride home from the airport at first because it was her first time in a car seat and she was not happy being restrained. I sat next to her and held her hand. She wanted outta that thing. but she did end up falling asleep on the way home.

Once we arrived home, we were greeted by two elated boys (with Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Bill) waiting outside with balloons and a huge welcome home sign that they made. They were soooo excited for us to be home and to meet their sister. They looked at her sleeping, then we took her out of the carseat and woke her up. We brought her inside the house to a kitchen decorated with streamers, stars and butterflies, decorated by Will and Leo, welcoming their sister. The welcome home celebration was all sweet Will's idea. He commissioned his two grandmas to help. They went to the dollar store, Michael's and Cub Foods to get flowers and all the other supplies they needed to decorate the house. Grandma Kathleen had a fabulous time bringing them to get everything and both grandma's helped them decorate the kitchen.

We showed Gracie around the house. Leo wanted to show her his big boy bunk beds. We sat in Gracie's room and Leo started reading Gracie Mae stories right away, making up the story as he turned the pages.
It was a wonderful homecoming.

So this is where our magnificent and mundane story of a family of five begins.......

I want to say thank you soo much to everyone who sent us well wishes, warm thoughts, your prayers and holding us in your hearts. Your warm and generous support and excitement worked magic. Our homecoming, was as perfect as I could've ever hoped for. I tried to prepare for and accept the possibility of a difficult homecoming, and am deeply grateful that it didn't happen.
Your positive energy made a difference.

It has been wonderful sharing our story with so many of you.

I will continue to add more posts about how our transition is going and how everyone is adjusting.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our Second Meeting with Gracie Mae

Gracie didn't like the horsey very much.
John's whiskers are very amusing.

What baby doesn't love bubbles. These definitely helped break the ice.

Well, we had are second meeting and it also went very, very well. Gracie was more unsure of us for a longer period of time during this meeting. She is definately curious about John, she was staring him down. At first just looking at me she'd start to get anxious and fuss. John was again very entertaining and she really liked him and his whiskers, they made her smile and laugh a little bit. He helped her relax a little. After a while we took out the bubbles and they were a hit! What baby doesn't love bubbles? She was very curious about them. By the end of the meeting, she did sit in my lap and let me hold her without crying. Every once and a while she'd "whip" her head up and look at me, like who is this lady holding me. I'd worry she was going to "lose it" because I wasn't Omma, but she just eventually turned back and looked at what John was doing to entertain her, then a minute or two later she'd do the same thing and check me out. She did this about four or five times, each time it was like she was checking to make sure that weird lady was still there. She didn't end up crying and let me hold her.
We are going to be able to get Gracie the night before we leave, Thurs at 4pm (2am at home). So Thursday evening should be a very interesting night. Apparently, tonight is my last night of good sleep for a while.....but of course, I do not care. I am so excited to be able to spend some time with her and hopefully she will have some time to adjust before we get on the plane.
That's all for now.
See you all soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Best Day Ever!!!

Gracie fell asleep in my arms!!

opps! don't know how to fix it.

Gracie's "sister" (foster mother's daughter) and foster mother opening gifts

We got a few smiles!!!

Well we are here and we finally made it!!! Sorry it took so long to post, getting access to the computer was not as easy as I thought. We had our first meeting with Gracie on Friday and for as much as I was trying to prepare myself for the worst, I didn't need too. The meeting was about as perfect as I could've imagined it!!

When we first came in the room Gracie fussed a bit but didn't even cry. We just hung back at first and then gradually started interacting with her. John was awesome and started playing with her and she was very interested in him. Eventually, she reached out and touched his wiskers and it made her smile. She thought it was funny how they were prickly. We played some more and it ended up that the foster mother left the room and the three of us were in there alone together and she didn't cry. Gracie was a bit tired because our meeting time is usually her nap time. By the end of our first meeting, unbelievably Grace feel asleep in my arms holding her blanket, the one we sent her in March!!!

The whole meeting was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The foster mother is a loving, sweet and kind person. We can tell that the foster mother's children really love Gracie too. We gave them our gifts and when the foster mother opened our gift and read the note we included, she burst into tears... then of course, I did too. We hugged. Gracie's foster mother gave us a photo album filled with pictures of Gracie as a little baby and over the past year. There are so many wonderful pictures that show what a wonderful first year of life Gracie has had with her foster family, she has been dearly loved and she will be terribly missed. It makes me sad to know that, yet at the same time, I am thrilled to be coming home with our daughter.

We have been having a WONDERFUL time in Seoul, it is an amazing country. The food has been awesome. We will be seeing Gracie again on Wednesday at 4:00 pm (2 am your time) and then coming home on Friday. I could of course say lots more but my time on the computer has come to an end.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gracie's Room

Here's some pictures of Gracie Mae's room. We finished it about a month ago.

Getting Ready to Go

It's 3:15 in the morning, both John and I are still up packing and getting ready. We're pulling the true all nighter. However, right now in Seoul it is dinnertime, 5:15pm. We're being proactive and trying to get on Korean time....actually, we're just trying to finish packing and I'm writing a small novella of information for Grandma and Grandpa, to try and cover every detail I can think of regarding the next 9 days. We will be getting on the plance in less than 6 hours. Yay!