Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

tis the season.

Two weekends ago we went to our second Christmas market. It was in a village about 25 minutes from ours in Sankt Wendel. There are Christmas markets all over in Germany and it's kinda the talk of the people these days. When we were in Garmisch we ran into a small one there and it was nice but nothing big.  Let me tell you, we were not disappointed with Sankt Wendel's!

Although it was very busy and turned pretty cold for the girls we stayed as long as we could. We ventured there on Saturday evening and saw a live juggling fire show - we likened it to mini cirque du soleil.  They were all decked out in extravagant costumes, lots of music and fire and my favorite was the animal guy on stilts who even did a back flip!  We tried to get a picture (taking about 20) but none turned out very well... here's the best I have...
The show started with them pulling in this beautiful carriage while making a lot of creepy bird noises!
Also at the market was loads of hand made items, a traditional wooden pyramid (see picture) but larger than life size, dozens of handmade nativities in cases for viewing and a whole section of elf cases where they were like dolls but moving - everything was done in such detail.  They also had a live nativity (which was walking around when we were there and we couldn't find the darn camels!), reindeer and donkey's!
We are planning to get to at least one more Christmas market before the end of the season and if I get a good picture I'll share.

During that same weekend we had three Christmas parties and later in the week David ventured to two more without the ladies.  The girls even met (and did great with) Santa.
Evelyn meeting Saint Nick and something was really funny to me!
Since it's been raining for three weeks I've been trying to get creative with indoor activities - I got this one from my childhood, thanks mom!
And, finally the last two days... oh they've been exhausting!  I've been trying to potty train Norah and today, we quit!  She's in total control of her bladder and decided to not once go on the toilet but instead go in-between those times (I had the timer set for 5 min in-between visits)! I was literally by her side ALL day and the second day she had about half as many accidents but still, didn't go on the pot and didn't poo in over 36 hours, ouch!  So, since she's decided against it for now we're going to try again in a month.  I'm sad too cause we had a bunch of totally cute signs and stickers and m&m's but... those things can wait.  I wanted to document how adorable she was in her undies so here's a CUTE pic of that :)
Norah picked out the shoes and put them on sister - love it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

seoul - take three.

August 27th - Myeongdong, Nanta, Dr. Fish
28th - DMZ tour
29th - Pick up Evelyn!
Like I mentioned in the last few Seoul posts, I just didn't feel well during the trip. David and I both think it's a horrible combination of nerves and excitement. It's not like we were on a romantic trip - we were changing our family forever and changing Evelyn's life as she knew it.  It's was so exciting--but again, so scary and we just didn't know what the future weeks held... more separation for an unknown period, etc. So, I enjoyed things we did but I felt very sick much of the time, too.

We headed to the Myeongdong area where there was really neat window shopping (trendy) and lots of locals where we could people watch!  While we wandered around a bit, there was one of those flash mobs, and David took about 10 pictures and the whole time I was thinking... it's not that good!  Cynical much? :)  Anyway, it was nice entertainment for a few minutes to some Michael Jackson songs.
After eating lunch we went to a Korean show somewhat similar to Blue Man Group.  It was called Nanta!  It's a show about about the beat... and cooking.  It was a comical rendition of four Korean chefs making traditional Korean food for a wedding.  Lots of beats while chopping cabbage for kimchi etc.  I couldn't help but laugh and think, my dad would love this cheesy humor (love you dad)!  It was good entertainment.
Once the show was over, we met up with our friend Kayleigh.  Kayleigh and I grew up going to the same church but didn't know each other well until this day.  It was awesome to get to know her and learn a lot more about the Korean culture from her experience. She was starting her third year of teaching in Korea so she has a really great perspective on life and culture from a day-to-day experience.  She showed us around Myeongdon and Hongik later that night.  The first thing we did (after catch up at Smoothie King) was to hit up a dog cafe. A what?  Duh, it's a coffee shop where there are a lot of dogs that you can play with and hold because in the city who wants to own a dog you have to take care of?  It was kinda gross but we just wanted a peek at it (they also have cat cafes).
Across the street we stopped in to get a pedicure of sorts.  We ordered up a "Dr. Fish"--one where the fish literally eat your dead skin.  I was like a 5 year old.  I could not stop laughing. It tickled so bad and it was such a weird experience.  One of the odd things, too, was that we were sitting in the middle of this nice salon where you would get a massage and were expected to be quiet!  I couldn't stop giggling, did I mention that?  Hi.lar.ious!  David and Kayleigh were, I'm sure, quite irritated with me... actually yeah, David kept shaking his head at me :)  Too funny!
Once our dead skin was gone, we took the subway to Hongik University again.  We strolled awhile and took in all the crazy young college students and even came across the university band doing some traditional music in the park. It was really neat.  Kayleigh took us down a back alley to a unique restaurant that she's frequented. It was a nice, quiet break from the city.  After dinner, we had to say goodbye. Kayleigh, you were amazing to be with and thank you so much for taking time away from your life to show us around!

The following day we got up early to pack up and move back to the Dragon Hill Lodge on Yongsan Army base in downtown.  Since they had rooms and it was nice, we decided to go back there before picking up Evelyn.  After dropping off our bags we caught a ride to our DMZ tour.  The whole day was very interesting and we were so glad we took the chance to learn more about N.Korea, the demilitarized zone, and the relationship between the north and south.
The tour started at a lookout across part of the DMZ and the freedom bridge.  The bridge hosts a formerly used railroad that crosses the Imjingak River into the northern territory.  It was used to get POW's back to safety, among other things, before the DMZ was in place.  From there, we took the bus to tunnel 3 (of 4 but, there are believed to be up to 10 more).  This is one of the tunnels the south side has found that the north side dug in assumed attacks on Seoul.  The tunnels were all being dug after the truce was made and an agreement to stay on each side of the demilitarized zone.  We were able to walk down part way into the tunnel and see how the tunnel was made (blown out with small bombs).  The tunnel is 240 feet deep and just over 1 mile long.  We weren't allowed to take pictures of the turnaround area, which is where the DMZ starts.  The North Koreans tried to cover up the fact that they were building the tunnel to attack the South and even said they were looking for coal -- they went as far as painting the walls of the tunnel black (which we saw).
After the long, hot walk down and up we headed to a lookout where we could see North Korea.  We were only allowed pictures from beyond a line about 20 feet from the lookout.  Unfortunately we were not able to visit or view the joint security area (JSA).  The JSA, the only point where the North and South Korean military soldiers are near each other.  There are a few conference rooms where they can meet and discuss rules and truces, etc.  Our last stop on the tour was a train station and airport the South Koreans have built in hopes of unity someday soon. They want this train station/airport to unite the north and south and be a bustling hub for the Koreans.  It's a beautiful and large hub.

After the tour we were dropped at Itaewon market and had some Thai food with two fellow travelers we met on the tour.  They were both very interesting and had traveled a lot throughout the world.  Both of the guys were from Toronto, Canada but had never met before.  The rest of the night we washed laundry and had dinner at the hotel because we were beat!

29th - The BIG day!
We got up in the morning and tried to relax. It was weird.  I was actually calm and ready for Evelyn to finally be with us - forever!  David hit up the gym and hot tub and I started to get ready.  I happen to catch my mom and Norah on skype and it was awesome!  So fun to talk with them and John & Kathy (whose basement we were currently living in) before our big afternoon.  Norah hadn't really been talking much at this time and she had been saying a new word (zipper) and zipping her pajamas up herself... way to make a mama cry :)  We grabbed Subway and were off to Holt!
We walked a few blocks to the subway (and with the humidity we were sweating up a storm) and tried to stay calm.  I made David take this picture of me waiting for our stop on the subway -- so funny!
Right when we walked into the front door of Holt we saw Evelyn and her foster mom at the elevator. You could tell the FM was like, "Oh no! Not yet!"  We said hi and then kept walking to the second level and waited for our meeting.

After a few minutes Evelyn came in!  She played around and hung on us as the FM answered some follow up questions for us.  As we talked (with the social worker) she snuggled Evelyn a few times - it was very emotional and I can't think of that hour without getting all teared up.  We all took Evelyn down to her doctor (on the first level of Holt) and she was signed off to fly.  She was NOT fond of the doctor and we got a glimpse of her throwing a mini tantrum (at that time I definitely thought she had a bad experience with that doctor, which she may have, but it got me all worked up and I cried, too).
After that we gave the foster mom (and family) a few gifts and a letter where we tried to express how extremely grateful we are for their love for Evelyn and giving so much for us and her.  The FM even brought us a gift for the girls.  Some clothes for BOTH girls, a disk of about 100 pictures of Evelyn (from 3 months-14 months old, the time she lived with them) and a hanbok for Evelyn to remember her first birthday.  Quickly after the gift exchange the FM hugged us, we (her and I) cried and she kissed Evelyn and snuck out.  Thankfully the social worker was holding Evelyn at this point because I needed David to hold me as I bawled.  This exchange of Evelyn and the passing on of the stage for Evelyn into our family was such a deeply meaningful and tearful time. Wow, still so emotional about it!
After the FM left we had a few other items to attend to... like getting the visa!  The visa was still on it's way from the Embassy (a little scary) and we weren't sure how soon it would arrive.  We went over the paperwork for the airport and immigration and then the visa arrived!  We cannot thank Holt enough for helping us and getting Evelyn's visa a little extra early because of our situation.  They obviously take care of each family as best they can and want to also take care of those foster families.  Evelyn's foster family already had another baby staying at their home the previous two months and the FM was visibly overwhelmed with two little ones and her own two kids to take care of.

Once we had the visa, the social worker walked us out and hailed us a cab... and we left, just like that... with our baby girl!  It was so surreal.
When we got back to the hotel Evelyn was asleep in the ergo and we gently put her on the bed.  She stayed asleep for about 30 min and then woke up very afraid.  She was crying (of course) and would look at one of us and cry even harder and swing her head back around trying to figure out where the heck she was.  I felt so bad for her.
After about 3 hours in the room she was calm and content (she only cried for about 30 min) and decided to go ahead with our plan to go out.  We had connected via email and phone with another family waiting for their travel call at the same time as us.  They got their call while we were in Seoul and we had one evening in Seoul at the same time.  It was such an encouragement (to all of us, I think) to meet out for coffee and talk about all our emotions at this point and to give them a glimpse at what our previous week had looked like.  They were going to meet their son the following day! Exciting times!
Back in our hotel room we all headed to bed.  Evelyn really slept very well and didn't move around too much - she was probably emotionally drained and needed to escape the changes.  It gave us hope that co-sleeping might not be that bad with her (haha, it was awful in the days and weeks after this though).

One more Seoul/homecoming post to come!

Need to catch up on Seoul take one or two... have fun.

Monday, November 28, 2011

thankful in bavaria.

Bavarian Alps anyone? Yes, please--I'll take a long weekend in the alps.

We had a marvelous weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen at an Army lodge called Edelweiss!  It was honestly so wonderful - the whole thing.  We drove down (about 5 hours) on Thursday morning and walked straight into the lodge for our Thanksgiving feast!  We had all the delicious Thanksgiving food without any work.  We were very much missing family that day and may have mentioned it a few times - love you Moselles & Blomgrens!
Evelyn & David enjoying some turkey.
We were mostly nervous about the hotel stay at night with the littles in the same room as us.  We weren't sure what people do - leave them there (we brought a monitor), go to bed (no way!), or do what we did and try to watch a movie while they went to bed!  It fortunately worked pretty darn good.  We just had the tv on and turned all the lights out and then once they were quiet we popped our movie in and enjoyed a little down time.  In the mornings we drank coffee, ate pastries and played around the room...
At night, we took it easy...
On Friday we decided to start exploring! We drove down this beautiful quaint road (below) and right in front of us was the ski jump from the Olympics held in Garmisch in 1936 - what a scary looking jump!
Once we parked we took about 3.5 hours exploring the Partnach Gorge.  The girls both took naps in the Ergos while we walked and we were in awe of the beautiful waterfalls, aqua water and lots of icicles.  It was very loud and windy and we had to walk through these super creepy long tunnels where there were no lights - quite the adventure!  We're sorry we didn't get a great picture but you get the idea...
Once we were through the gorge we took these stairs about 25 minutes up to a high mountain village where we ate a little German white sausage (Norah loved it), a pretzel, and German beer. It was a stunning view.

That evening we took it easy and ate at the lodge again and then watched a friend's kids for a bit so they could get out and talk!  It was so easy having 7 kids (they had a movie on so really, it was easy!)!

The following day we drove to another nearby village to check out a beautiful catholic monastery. It's still being used daily and has monks living in the quarters connected to the worship center.  This is one of the interior of the worship center.  One more interesting thing - the monastery has a brewery.  This makes me laugh. They make beer and liqueur and sell it.
This is Norah's "smile". Whenever we ask her to smile for the camera, this is what we get - it's kinda fugly (funny and ugly all at once).  I keep telling David - at least she looks and posses instead of running away or turning her head!
Eating in bed and cartoons - gasp! - what parents allow that?!
On the final day, on the way home, we stopped at Neuschwanstein Castle. This is the castle that Disney modeled their Sleeping Beauty castle after. We took a bus up to this lookout area and got some good pictures and continued the walk to the castle for a tour.  The castle is unfinished because Ludwig II died before it was finished being painted etc (although the 1/3 of it that is complete took 17 years!).  Ludwig had another castle within walking distance (see below) but this castle was much more magnificent.  We were not allowed to take pictures of the interior but it was stunning and detailed and very well preserved with wood carving, painting, mosaics and chandeliers.
The front door to the castle and view from the opposite side.

You can see one of his other castles there on the hill.
We took a carriage ride down pulled by horses and Norah was elated. She just kept talking about horsies this and that (we couldn't understand what she was saying), it was so fun to see her that excited.

Evelyn, getting more expressive as the weeks pass!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011


One of our walks in the woods.
David. He's mostly good.  As the leader of our family I know he's feeling the weight of all the changes we're experiencing and feeling somewhat responsible for some of the hard stuff. Of course, he's not responsible--he's the strong one sorta holding this gang of girls together!  Work is going well. He's figuring out the rhythm of things in his office and the new medical lingo. He had his first speaking engagement almost two weeks ago and did a great job. He'll speak to medical providers at bases around Europe, filling them in on new medical legal things to be aware of as health care professionals.  He's also been hard at work on our crazy yard. We have a lot of bamboo and each year we will have to chop it all down, shred it and ditch it somewhere!  There are a lot of other yard things to tend to and David's made a great effort to keep up with the German standards. Oh, one more thing... David's also been the driving force behind getting settled. I think it has something to do with the fact that he's been here for over four months!  He's encouraged us to put our clothes in the dressers (haha, you think this is simple?!), to paint our living room (exciting photos to come), to hang pictures (that hasn't actually happened yet) and still take advantage of the outdoors while it's still warm enough to explore!  I'm more than thankful for David and his amazing role in our family. He's an amazing partner and Daddy to my girls.
Another walk in the woods!
Kelly. Me. I'm, well... struggling/stuck/sad/fine. It's such a weird blur of life we've had. Literally months of transition and, I know, I have a ton of stuff to catch y'all up on. I'm not sure how but we'll get there. Anyway, I guess through all the months pre-Germany I knew I wasn't processing what was happening, but instead was coping and had emotions about it all but not exactly able to deal with things while holding things together during the move/adoption/single-parenting thing. Now that life as we knew it has totally ceased, it's all catching up with me and it's hard stuff.  I feel all over the place emotionally - not like crying one second and laughing the next...ummm, okay that has happened a few times (thank God for kids!)! Anyway, suffice to say I'm not even sure where to start with me. I think I've done an okay job with staying verbally positive and moving forward by physically putting myself out there (MOPS, Bible study, coffee with the neighbors) but emotionally I feel stunted. I do have a sense that I'm in this new place in the last few days even... sort of accepting this change and wanting, no needing, more from my new life and (non) community.  Does that catch you up on me?  Again, David has held me crying or sat across the room or on the other end of the phone many times as I process and grieve (him too) what's been changing in our lives.  The move has been hard - the adoption has been hard and both combined REALLY hard to handle all at once. I keep thinking... Lord, do you know what's you're doing here?!  Okay, I hope I'm not too much of a debbie downer just trying to keep it real here. Thanks for hanging in there with us and please keep praying if you think of us!
Norah. Even though I think these changes have been hard I look at Norah and feel refreshed or sometimes I look at her and feel worried.  She's really been enduring some hard times, too.  We aren't sure if her changes are due to her age, bringing Evelyn home, or the loss of life as she knew it in Spokane (all three?). I know kids are very versatile and she'll bounce back but she has been grieving some too.  She's never been too picky of an eater but the last few weeks she's been not eating much. We've tried to bribe her (is that wrong?!), make it fun or silly, sing, threaten, anything we can think of to get her to eat more but it just hasn't worked. Evelyn eats at least twice as much as Norah and she's not quite as big as Norah so it does concern us some.  Also, Norah's been a fairly good sleeper in the last year but since the move she's been "sleeping" 14 hours a night and about a 3-4 hour nap!  Now, I say "sleeping" because during the night she wakes up screaming and crying and we can't tell if she's having nightmares or afraid of where she is - it's all such a guessing game as parents.  We've been trying to keep things as routine as possible but things haven't gotten a lot better.  On a positive note, when she's awake (sans meal-time) she's very happy and herself. She's talking a lot, loves calling family on the phone, bossing Wrigley (and sister) around, plays very well with her sister and continues to read books all the time.  One more funny thing - she keeps taking her diaper off!  I am almost "afraid" to put her down for her nap without a onsie on because I've found her booty in the open more than once. She'll go to the bathroom and then promptly remove the diaper - I know this is a sign of her getting ready to potty train but I'm almost positive she's not actually ready (but I did buy a toilet seat cover for her!). Exciting times as a two year old!
Our little princess for the halloween office party!
Evelyn. The littlest, by only a little!  Our "baby" is seriously coming into her own skin. It's beautiful to see her really coming out of her shell and feeling at home with us. It's not that we haven't seen her happy before now but it's been a slow thing for Evelyn.  Like I mentioned earlier, she eats a lot and still takes a bottle before bed (mostly for bonding). I do remember Norah at this age seeming to eat snacks and meals through the whole day, Evelyn is no different.  One thing though, Evelyn is stubborn. She likes to be in control and likes to feed herself. She's can't quite do a spoon yet so when it's a spoon meal she's pretty resistant to letting us be in control of the intake.  She loves playing around with (or without) Norah and seems fascinated by simple things. She too looks at books a lot and continues to find Wrigley and Norah hilarious.  She is 16 months today and definitely not interested in walking at all but we keep trying to encourage her a bit (although we don't mind that they aren't both running away from us yet!). She's definitely talking a bit - not sure what she's saying but a lot of things sound like phrases Norah says like "hi sister!" She'll use the same inflection but not actually pronounce it. It's cute but scary if she starts to talk :)

 In other news...
...we are uncle, aunt and cousins for the second time!!!! We are so excited to help announce Kristin & Keith's little guy.  Micah was born Sunday November 13th weighing 8lbs 10oz. What a joy!  We cannot wait to meet him next summer.  Stay a baby Micah!!
...we were supposed to go to Paris this past weekend but we decided to get sick - really really sick.  First David got it and we ended up in the ER to get him some fluids (that was Monday) and then Thursday night we were packed and ready to hit the road Friday morning (Wrigley was already at the sitters) and I got it. So, we went back to the ER on Friday instead of Paris. It's took the whole weekend, plus some, to get back to functioning motherhood.  I'm thankful we didn't get this virus while we were away and more thankful that the girls haven't gotten it.  I would be heartbroken!

Friday, October 28, 2011

falling into place.

The past two weeks have brought on many new things for us!  Here's a bit of what we've been doing...
  • Letting Norah be creative and pick out her clothes - some of the time :) 

  • Having coffee & tea with our american neighbors!
  • Visiting churches in the area. There aren't many english speaking options so I'm sure we'll know which one will be our home church soon!
  • Taking as many walks as we can before it's way too cold
Nanzdietschweiler behind us, our house is right above my head. I love that we can sometimes hear the cows mooing from our living room!
  • Started attending a women's study of the book Fearless by Max Lucado
  • Went to an adoption support group. It was nice to just be with other people who get some of the hard parts of adoption - this part, post placement, has by far been the hardest part for us and I've been craving a friend to relate with on it all. I met a new friend at the meeting - hi friend, if you're reading! - and we even met at the park yesterday! Feeling blessed by that connection.
  • Went to MOPS here on base. I am currently on the wait list as they don't have enough room for everyone that is interested so... when ladies are out of town etc those on the wait list get an invite and I did this time around. I'm still hoping some room opens up for us to go but if not, at least I've met a few ladies through the group already.
  • We took the girls to the pool on base and they both seemed to love swimming with Dad & Mom!
  • Taking our neighbors cookies in hopes of connecting with some of them. We found out there is another JAG on our block - a family that has already lived here 2 years so that should be great!
  • Evelyn had a pediatric appointment and she's doing great. It was nice to meet the girls doctor even though we don't know if he'll move soon and the girls will get another doc.
She was tired, can you tell? Such a great picture of them though :)
  • We went to Ikea (about 45 min away) and got a load of stuff for the house. Mostly storage type things since the Germans don't have closets (WHAT?!). We're still figuring out where to put everything and how to keep it organized!
  • I've been cooking a ton still. Finding a load of fun recipes from pinterest and really having a great time doing it!  The only downside to me cooking most nights is LOTS of leftovers for lunches. Oh well, at least most of the recipes have been good.
Quinao burgers - really good!
  • Took the girls to a German musik class (kind of like Kindermusik which was created here). The class was held in this lady's home and was all in German but it was so fun, even if we were a little lost with the language barrier!
  • Evelyn has been doing really well. She's usually content these days - bits of laughter (usually at Norah or Wrigley) and independent play.  She's been signing "more" and "all done" which makes mealtime a bit easier (mealtime with two toddlers is not really my favorite thing).


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