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).

Monday, October 24, 2011

seoul - take two.

August 25th - walking tour of Seoul
26th - Gyeongbokgung palace, Insadong and... met Evelyn!!!

After visiting Holt and hearing the awesome news about the visa interview we went back to our guest room. We were already tired and it was only lunch time! Oh jet lag, we tire of you (hahaha!). We decided to try and nap but we were way to excited to see Seoul and couldn't get our minds off of meeting Evelyn the next day!  We stopped by a traditional Korean restaurant where you grill the meat at your table. It's called Korean BBQ :)  Since we were the only one's in the restaurant we were nervous, we couldn't watch anyone else to see if we were eating our food the right way.  We also were searching and searching our Lonely Planet and couldn't find the answers we needed for etiquette - after the fact, we found them and yes we did eat our food wrong but at least we ate!
After lunch we started a walking tour that the Lonely Planet suggested. It took us about 2.5 hours to complete as we stopped and looked at the city along the way. It was a great thing to do as we saw many things but it wore us out!
The Cheonggyecheon stream. This stream starts in the city and flows into the Han River eventually. 
Along the way we stopped at Itaewon Market and got a scroll made for us. It's made of water color and says "Blomgren" in Hangul (the official Korean symbols) as well as all of our first names. It's beautiful.
We also walked through Namdaemun market - a street market where many of the city folk buy clothing, shoes and food.
Near our guest house & Holt
A food stand at the market - we decided to pass :)
The walking tour ended by bringing us to Seoul Tower. It was beautiful and unfortunately we didn't start up to the tower early enough to see the sunset but the view was still spectacular!  At the top (the highest point in Seoul) you can see most of the city - both directions.  To get to the top you can go up hundreds and hundreds of stairs, or take a cable car. We opted for the cable car because of the heat and being so tired!
We were SO tired in this picture but having a great time anyway!
On top of Seoul tower is thousands of locks. It's really neat to see these fences of locks and "tree's" of locks in all directions. Putting a lock up on the fence is meant to symbolize a promise for endless love.
There's our lock of love!
Can you see ours?  It's the Master lock that says "Love" on the side - it has our names and "forever family" on it as well.
We were back to our room at 10:15pm and crashed! Our goal was to stay up all day to try and get our bodies adjusted and to be able to sleep through the night - goal accomplished :)

On Friday we met up with a tour guide from our agency. She was a very sweet Korean student getting her MBA at a university in Seoul.  We took the subway to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The palace grounds are HUGE and we only saw a portion of it but what we saw was really beautiful.  And, it's really neat that the palace is right off of the downtown area. It was nice to have the tour guide to tell us more about the history of the buildings and what things symbolizes, how the old life style is or isn't incorporated into Korean culture now.  We ended that part of the day with a walkthrough of the folk museum--again, well put together with beautiful instruments and clothing on display.
One of the buildings that has been restored to show how beautiful and intricate the painting on the wood was.
The guards at the entrance.
In the "back yard" of the palace where they did some of the worshiping.
After the palace we walked through the Insadong market. It was a very nice "market" with a lot of shops - almost like an artsy strip mall but with upper class stores.  Very classy. The prices were high and we liked a lot of stuff we saw but didn't buy anything.  I think through the whole trip we struggled with what to buy. We were interested in what we were seeing and learning but also so very distracted by the reason we were there and had a hard time focusing on "touring" when our minds were with both our girls and the massive life change ahead of us. Back to the day... we ate another traditional Korean meal with our guide and talked about her life in graduate school.
Neat architecture in downtown.
After lunch we stopped by a massive underground bookstore called Kyobo. It was so fun to walk around and it just is so neat to thousands of books in another language - a lot of the books we recognized but couldn't read!  We bought a few books for the girls that were traditional Korean children stories (in english) but have CD's that teach how to say some of the Korean words in them. We also bough a DVD of Pororo but it hasn't worked in any player we've tried (something about the DVD being made for another type of player since it's from another country?). Oh well.
Mei (tour guide) & myself at the end of our tour.
We headed back on a bus to our guesthouse. We got ready... TO MEET OUR DAUGHTER!!!! :)  I cannot describe the pure nervous excitement we were feeling - aaaahhh, it was insane.

We were like little kids. We felt so dumb but we were asking the social worker, "okay, so will she just walk in or will she knock or will you have us walk in to the room, etc."  It was awesome because you could tell the social worker knew it was a big moment for us all and loved how excited and nervous we were - I'm sure this is what she looks forward to, uniting families! Back to the main event. We wanted to get the meeting on video but we were left in the room to wait and then all the sudden they walked in!

We quickly stood up and could tell Evelyn was asleep in the baby carrier on the foster mother. Mouth open, head back, drooling asleep - adorable.  The foster mother didn't speak any english so the social worker interpreted everything for us. The FM wanted to take Evelyn out of the carrier so we could hold her and we were quick to stop her! We thought she should sleep and we could start in with our long list of questions!  

Right away we just started asking all about Evelyn - what she ate, when she ate, how she slept and for how long, does she like it dark or light, cold or hot and what scares her or makes her happy or soothes her, etc. We were anxious to here about her from the woman who knows and loves Evelyn so well. We thankfully got everything on the video so we can reference it later. We also asked the FM if she would sing any special songs that she sings to Evelyn, but she was too shy and wouldn't do it.  It was such a special time to have with the FM and have it not be the same day we were going to take Evelyn from her -- there are so many emotions for us all.
Totally in love with her Daddy!
Evelyn woke up, finally, and the FM tried to hand her right to me and Evelyn just started to cry. I gave her right back - I didn't want to scare her.  After a few minutes they set her on the ground to play and she went right over to David and was very happy to have him pick her up! It was such a sweet daddy-daughter moment(s).  When I actually held her, she didn't cry but I sure did and so did the FM!

Evelyn had a long day as she had already seen the doctor (she threw up that day), went the embassy for her visa interview (takes a few hours) and back to Holt to meet us and see the doctor again to see if her temperature was okay. Poor girl was so tired.  We felt so blessed to spend that hour with her and the FM - truly, something I will never ever forget.
After all that excitement and bliss - we went back to the guesthouse and just talked about it all and tried to grasp the fact that we just met Evelyn! Such a fun fun day!!  So, the only downer of the time at Holt was when they told us the visa wouldn't be picked up until the middle-to-end of the following week.  We knew, from the embassy, that they visa would be processed within 24 hours but Holt has to pick it up. They are not in close proximity to the embassy and said they only pick the visas up in groups so they wait until the whole group's visas are processed. We were discouraged but praying things might change.

While we were processing in our room (after meeting Evelyn) our social worker called to say they would make an exception for Evelyn!  You see, the foster mother already had another foster baby in the home and was feeling very overwhelmed and since we were already there and ready, they were able to make an exception for us.  God was ironing it all out!   We are more than grateful to the amazing Holt workers who went the extra mile during this process to make sure we could bring Evelyn home as soon as possible. We never even got to thank the person who made this extra trip for us - if you're out there - thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
In Hongik area looking for some wifi and a place to eat.
After all this excitement we were tired but oh so hungry! We headed out to Hongik University, near Holt, and had some coffee and dinner. Hongik area is very fun at night and later in the week we revisited the area when we had more time and energy!

I'll keep working on the update. Thanks for hanging in here with us and supporting us. We have been struggling to keep up with life so please - know I'm trying my hardest to keep you in the know!  Bless you all :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

norah turned two (sept 20th).

Norah.Nors.The Great Norooney. Our Baby Girl.
You're two years old!

You started life by surprising us all, arriving a bit early and eager to meet your Mama :)  We hung in there the first 10 weeks without Dad but made it through with lots of help from friends and family who wanted to visit you in Colorado!  Once Daddy came home you really started to shine showing us your beautiful smile, rolling over and progressing as a healthy baby girl from then on.

This last year of your life has certainly been awesome! Your personality shines and I think EVERYONE loves you :) You've always been the "baby" that goes to anyone, even strangers, and I have to say - it warms my heart that you are so trusting and truly loving of others. Your time in Spokane, building your first of many friendships, was so beautiful to watch. We love that every time we got in the car you said "Clara! Amy!" (your best friend) wondering if we were about to see Clara & Amy :) 
This last year we watched you try your hand at some art projects, LOVE your music class, start to "talk" and whine, request reading books with us at any down time, ask for kisses (even in the middle of a meal or conversation), sing and dance. Your tender heart really has been a true blessing to this mama.  The many many times you've seen me cry through the last few months you stopped dead in your tracks, walked over to me and said "it's okay mommy?!" and offer a kiss and a hug and look in my eyes again and repeat "it's okay mommy?" Your love for others is so Christ-like and has been such an encouragement to me.  

This year you've also welcomed Evelyn into your life. Each time you wake up the first thing you say is "sister doin?" It's awesome. If we give you a snack or something to eat (before Evelyn) you promptly say "sister some?" or you walk over and give her what you have and then ask for more. You're very generous. And, even though evelyn cries a lot - you seem to always want to make sure we know (like we don't hear it?) she's sad - "sister's cryin.'"  Anyway, it's great to know you care so much about Evelyn and truly love having her around. She sure does thinks you're hilarious (even though you don't realize she's laughing at you).

Things our two year old does:
  • says please and thank you for almost everything.
  • says "sorry mommy/daddy/sister" when she didn't even do anything wrong!
  • if we're listening to music, in between songs she says "more please" - she loves her music
  • has started to talking in short sentences
  • LOVES to talk on the phone - she walks around like she owns the place with the phone to her ear and mostly repeating what the other person is saying - example: her grandma says "how's your sister today?" norah responds "sister doin'?"
  • struggles with meal time - acts like we need to feed her and baby her (probably due to Evelyn needing help with food)
  • for a while there we thought you wanted to potty train - always asking about going potty etc. but for the last month you've said nothing... until this week, you said "Clara goin' potty" as if Clara is the only one that uses the toilet. So, we're waiting until you're ready and things are more routine before we introduce that challenge.
  • absolutely loves shoes. she puts on all shoes and mostly big people shoes and walks around the house... rather well too!
  • sleeps in, most days, past 8 (or 9 if i let her)!
  • LOVES purses and putting things in them and gets very upset when she can't bring her purse to meal time
  • Explores. She is a very curious little girl and isn't afraid to make your home hers... you might find her in your tub or in pulling open your dresser drawers. What? She's just exploring! :)

Norah's favorites at the moment.
Music - party like a preschooler - a truly FUN CD that i love too :)
Toy - well, her purse and babies... she's always having her babies go to sleep and eat
Food  - pretzels
Drink - juice from mommy's juicer
Person - daddy! or clara, parker, griffin, hollyn or either amy :)
Video - any Word World show (we had dvd's)

2 weeks old.
First time you met Daddy! 10 weeks.
Always such a happy bundle of joy. 6 months.
12 months old and just moved to Spokane, WA
Trying out some new activities at co-op. 18 months old.
More fun at co-op. 18 months.
Monday play-dates with Rachelle, Soso, Amy, Clara, Iah & Mommy. 

Hanging with Clara after a bike ride. 20 months.
You loved the bows Amy made for your sister before she came home! 21 months.
Having fun with Daddy! 23 months.
Celebrating your LIFE with Kathy. 24 months - birthday!

Opening presents at your impromptu party a few days before leaving Spokane. 23 months.
Saying "yeah!" you loved yoru slippers Nana made! 24 months + a few days.
At your first German fall festival with mommy. 24 months + a few days.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

a good week.

this week has been successful.
this week, actually today, i got my international drivers license. i have to say, the test was hard!
david made me drive home. i was scared. everything is different here and our car seems so large and in charge.
these boxes

are finally gone. happy dance.
also, the temporary furniture that we were using before our household goods arrived also left. another dance :)

now we are left with a lot of organizing! not my favorite thing and not my gift. i miss my mom and sister immensely when i move and they can't be around to help me get situated. they're pro's at it. why am i the one that's moved so much and still bad at it? hmmm... i am not a quick learner.

i'm so thankful...
third day people, we are on the third day without any of this
praise the good Lord. *trust me, she still knows how to whine*
honestly, every single day we've known evelyn she's thrown fits and had some sad sad times. we knew a lot of it was due to the changes in her life and not feeling secure with us but... she seems truly secure and happy now. it's so wonderful, for all of us.
no mommy breakdowns either, first days in months - literally. hope feels good. but sadness is not gone. okay, update on this one - about an hour after posting i had a minor meltdown. oh well, gotta get it out right?

norah's been the one testing the waters. she's definitely wearing in her two-year-oldness.

she's also been missing friends back in spokane - that doesn't make it easy for me. she asks for them by name (and the mom's too) and i just have to say - maybe later baby.

the vines in our yard are very fruitful. there is much more where this came from. 

i've been cooking - a lot. it's been so wonderful. i have my own kitchen and i can finally venture out and try things i've been holding onto for a while.
some of my firsts in my german kitchen were awesome recipes from a new cookbook. 
this cookbook came from my home group ladies - they all put together recipes and had them printed professionally in a book! it's so awesome and i love them so much. cooking from their recipes gives me a strange comfort. i think i've cooked literally 10 things from the book. one of the most heart warming gifts i've ever received. 
love it.

i got myself a mobile - how cool is that? it's been active for a few days... no one's called YET.
norah loves to talk on the phone, and walk around wherever she pleases. here she's talking to her grandma and loving it.

ahhh, there's so much more to tell you and say but there's this huge gap missing on the blog - so much has happened that i want to fill you in on. i'm torn about whether to move forward or try to catch up.
i'm hoping to do both! yikes. 
my house is still a total disaster and i want to blog? my get away sometimes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

seoul - take one.

It feels wrong to rewind so far and go back to all the emotions and events from mid-august but, I don't want to forget it and i'm sure you want to know about it too - right?

After my post about our decision to move forward with traveling to Seoul, even though we didn't get the travel call, things got so nuts and honestly haven't stopped!  I find myself having random thoughts and details I want to share with you all while I'm laying in bed or getting ready for my day - it's so silly but I've been too overwhelmed to actually sit down and get started.  Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest :)

Here's how it went and what I'll cover in this post...

August 19th - David leaves Germany
21st - Diane arrives in Spokane
22nd - Kelly flies to Seattle
23rd - D&K fly to S.Korea
24th - we skip this day since Seoul is ahead of us, so weird.
25th - visit Holt (the rest of the day will be in another post)

David got on the standby flight from Germany to Seattle. This was not easy but God came through (AGAIN). David was told twice that he didn't make it on the flight and then they reconfigured some of the cargo and were all the sudden able to fit more bodies on. The people on the list in-front of him (he was 32nd on the list and there were only 5 seats available) left too soon - he got on!  It was a miracle.  While he was on his way to Seattle, my mom few from MN on two standby flights to Spokane - she arrived very late on Sunday night. I left on Monday before Norah's nap to meet up with David in Seattle!

Leaving Norah (and my mom) was so hard. I don't know why, it's not like I hadn't been waiting and eager to get this Seoul trip going but... I had never spent a night away from Norah (or 8) and I rarely see my mom. So, it was sad but - we knew the next reunion would be a joyful one!

I arrived in Seattle and reunited with my husband, after 6 and a half weeks apart it was sooooo wonderful to be able to cry and not be alone! I know, that sounds so sad but life has just been emotional for us. David was very jet lagged and we ate dinner and he went to sleep around 8pm!

The following day we got up around 4am and proceeded to another standby line!  This flight was looking promising but we just didn't know how it would all turn out. We found out about 30 min after waiting that we made it on the flight!  Praise the Lord. Our tickets to Korea cost us $16.50 a piece - not bad!
Waiting to see if we made on standby - way too early to be awake!
Since it was a military contracted flight we stopped in Japan and had a layover for a bit at Yokota AFB. 
We landed at Osan AFB, about an hour outside of Seoul it was around 5pm. We bought bus tickets and got to downtown Seoul (to an Yongsan Army post) around 7pm. We were so tired! We checked into the hotel on post, showered, ate and then went to sleep.
Our drive from Osan to Yongsan gave us a totally different view of S. Korea than when we were in the city. We saw hundreds of apartments and quite a bit of poverty along the drive.
We woke up around 2am, anxious and wondering if our agency had heard any news about Evelyn's progress to get her visa.  The news we got was the opposite of what we had hoped... they said that the visa medical report hadn't been turned back into our agency from the doctor. The appointment was over two weeks ago. That's when I had a minor breakdown. I cried and we talked about whether we chose the right thing - to come to Korea before things were solid. We landed on the answer that we were trusting in God to iron out the details, as he has through this whole process, and prayed - took tylenol PM and went back to sleep.

The following morning we grabbed a bit to eat, took our luggage and headed to Holt in a taxi. It was neat to see some of the city in the daylight. Our taxi driver had a hard time finding the Holt guesthouse but after asking about 5 pedestrians we found it!  The taxi's in Seoul are very reasonably priced, not what you think you'd spend in a large city - so that was a nice surprise.  Once we checked into our room at the guesthouse (more on that later) we walked a few blocks to the Holt offices.  We were so excited to see where all the action takes place and meet Evelyn's social worker!
We waited outside her office in the hallway and said a prayer for whatever news we might receive - we took a short video (hopefully we can load that later) and met the social worker.  She came out of the office and said hi and then went right into telling us that the medical report was turned in and Evelyn was scheduled for her visa interview the following morning!  What?! Shocked and so so excited - we hugged and I shed a tear and tried to act casual :)

She showed us around the offices - where she and the other social worker have their desks, where they coordinate all the foster families, where the doctor's offices are and assessment area and finally - the room where we would meet our daughter!! I liked that one the best!
This is part of the medical area where they can asses babies - behind me is where the doctor's offices are located. I wish I took more pictures already! It's hard to know what's appropriate at the time.
This is the famous spot where all the Holt children get their updated pictures taken. I had to grab a picture myself :)
This is the room!  I don't have one of it without anyone in the picture. I blurred out this person's face to keep her privacy.
There is a lot more to this first day but this is a good breaking point. Thanks for hanging in there with this long post! I am loving reliving these exciting days back in Seoul with you.


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