Bringing home Eve

Flying to Korea is never fun. Our flight there was even less fun. The flight to Seattle was fine, we sat in the exit row, so we had lots of leg room. The landing a little rough, but the airport was nice enough. Our flight to Seoul was long, but fine up until the last bit, when we were delayed from landing due to weather, which caused “airport congestion” which delayed our flight even more. Our plane flew around in circles for an hour waiting to be cleared for landing.
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Thankfully, the driver for ESWS was waiting for us, and helped us get through the airport and tucked nicely into our room. The room this time had a twin bed and a double, space for three! Monday morning we woke up early, because JET LAG! We went down to Seoul Station for breakfast and spent some time walking around, enjoying morning in Korea.

We were due to take custody at 11:30AM, so we eventually headed back and changed into nicer clothes for our meeting. We signed papers and got some gifts from ESWS, a “name chop” with her name in Korean and a cast of her feet from when she was about 5 months old. We signed more paperwork! Woo! Then we returned to the lobby to wait. A very long eight minutes later, Eve’s foster mom came in with Eve asleep on her back! Bobby took her off and held her immediately. He played with Evie and kept her happy while Foster Mom and I talked a bit. She showed us a bunch of pictures and gave us a large book filled with them, so we have baby pictures of our girl! She told us that Eve never made her angry, that she was very sweet.

She gave us back almost everything we had sent for Eve, toy wise, which was a lot of stuff, along with food, snacks, formula, (Eve takes a bottle at bedtime), motrin, her Hanbok, the outfit she came home from ESWS to Foster Mom’s house in, and so much stuff. We got a list of words Eve can say and what they mean, we talked about her schedule and everything. She gave us a toy keyboard and told us about how Eve loves to play it while Foster Mom sings. Foster Mom was very sad to see her go and cried. We hugged her and promised to take good care of KaYeong. She very obviously loved this little girl very much, and we will be forever in her debt for the care and the love she gave our daughter. Her foster mom is an amazing woman. KaYeong was the 36th child she had fostered from babyhood until the child went to the USA.

I feel I should note, Eve’s adoptive name will be “Eve KaYeong” and we have been calling her Eve, Evie, and KaYeong, and plan to call her both names, much like we did our boys with their nicknames, (Landon was both Landon and Panda until 1st grade, Oliver is called both Ollie and Oliver) until she is old enough to tell us what she wants to be called. I’m mostly typing Eve for because it’s shorter, but keep in mind we are calling her KaYeong more than we are calling her Eve. Her foster mom only called her KaYeong, and it is what she responds to currently.

Another family, the B family, who we had gone to court with, was also getting their little boy at the same time, and their transition was not as smooth. The little boy was crying loudly, so our social worker recommended we take Eve back to our room.
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We spent about 20 minutes playing in our room before we went back downstairs and loaded up into the van to head to the US Embassy to apply for Eve’s visa. We loaded up in the van with the B family, whose little boy was still having a hard time. Also, carseats? Not a thing in Korea, so my poor american heart was horrified at putting Eve in the seat between us and buckling her with a lap belt! Between little B and the van ride being a New! Scary! thing, (I don’t think Eve had spent much time in a car before) Eve succumbed to tears as well, so both children were crying for “Omma” by the time we got to the Embassy. They got us in the door and up three flights of stairs fairly quickly, to an empty waiting room. The children sobbed as we waited for processing. I hugged her and sung to her and rocked her. Someone gave her a sucker, and she calmed down while she ate it, but started up again after. This continued for a good 20 minutes, at some point we were called up and asked some questions.

Finally we managed to get her calm and coloring, so that was good. Also, they had some kids books, and she loves books, so she pulled some of those. We made a game of getting a tiny cup of water from the cooler and taking it back to the kids desk. Little B sobbed until he ran out steam, than would start up again. Thankfully, they rushed us through, and we got out of the office after about an hour. The same van took us home, and Eve fell asleep on the way back. We took her up to our room and she took a nap.
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We were sort of wiped out after that, but once she was up we went out and got some fried chicken for dinner. I fed Eve the meal her foster mom had prepared for her. It was highly entertaining. I set out in front of her a cup of water, a cube of veggies, a cube of rice, and a juice box. I was feeding her, even though her file says she can self feed. It’s good for bonding and it helped me ensure we were getting food into her. So, I’d give her a bite, wait for her to chew, and then ask her which one she wanted, and I’d point to them and name them. She’d then give me a funny look, and point to them and name them in Korean. She seemed to take personal offense at the fact that I was calling the grape juice something other than Podo. She’d patiently tell me the names of the food in Korean. Also, she liked the veggies best.

That night, we put Eve and I in the double bed and Bobby slept on the twin. Eve had been cosleeping with her foster mom for almost her entire life, and we worried she’d roll off the small bed by herself. She slept through the night without issue, sleeping long past when Bobby and I were both awake.
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Breakfast the following morning was doughnuts for Bobby and I, but Eve got to sit and eat an omelette thing that her foster mom had made her. She told us the egg was Eve’s favorite food, and Eve ate the whole thing. There were a couple of other families in the kitchen at ESWS, so our first breakfast was shared by others who understood, and it was such a blessing.

Eventually we got moving and took the subway to Seoul Zoo. We had her in her baby carrier (the cinchworm that we used to carry Ollie) and she seemed to enjoy it. Once we got to the zoo, we put her down and rented a stroller, in part because it was so hot! The zoo has a lot of land space between animals, and it’s very pretty, but a lot of outdoor walking. When we first put her down, she suddenly got very excited and dragged us over to see a big blue bus! It was apparently painted to look like Tayo. She also loved looking at the animals and kept trying to climb in the cages with them!
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We only had one pair of shoes for her, and she didn’t seem to like them much. She kept taking them off. Bare feet seems to be frowned upon. We saw some animals and got some pictures, and Bobby posted a video of us at the zoo.
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Once we were done we headed back to the subway, and stopped in Seoul Station to buy Eve some new shoes, since she wouldn’t leave the old ones on.

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We went back to our room, and Bobby fetched us a pizza. Eve had no interest in the pizza, so we fed her the last of the food foster mom had packed. She slept again without issue, in bed next to me.

When we woke we headed into our favorite nexus, Seoul Station. There was some sort of railroad worker strike going on, which was interesting. The signage and everything was in Korean, so I’m not sure the details.
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We split up, Bobby hitting the food court for some sort of Ox soup, while I had some french pastries. Eve stole mine, which was adorable.
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We went back to iPark Mall after that, Bobby and I had been there on the first day we were in Seoul on the first trip. We did some shopping, getting Eve her third pair of shoes, some Pororo toys, and stickers. Just a few things to entertain her on the flight.
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We ate at the same place we had lunch the first time we were at the mall, and it was super tasty again. Eve seemed to enjoy the food as well. Finally we headed back to pack up and fly home.
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At the airport, we discovered we were not sitting together. We tried to change seats, but with a language barrier, we weren’t able too. So Bobby sat six rows away from Eve and I. On the bright side, we had an aisle and window seat for Eve and I, so no one was sitting near us. She watched some Pororo and fell asleep. She slept for most of the flight, waking up on occasion. Bobby would come up from the back a couple of times and sat by her so I could get up and stretch and hit the bathroom.
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We were late getting into Seattle because they had held our plane in Seoul due to waiting on some first class passengers with a late connecting flight, so arrived into some sort of rush hour madness. The line to get into the country was rather long, especially for new immigrants. We went into the line for people with US passports and then got escorted over to another waiting area so that Eve’s paperwork could be completed. It wasn’t terrible, just a lot of people. Getting our luggage was terrible though, so many people fighting their way through, and then we got to go through security a second time as well. There was this water bottle graveyard in front of security, just hundreds of abandoned water bottles, like some sort of monument to the stupidity of our security.
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We spent about 3 hours just hanging out in Seattle. We had mac and cheese for dinner and let Eve spend a good hour in the play place. She had fun and made some friends. One girl (she was about 7-8) was getting frustrated with Eve’s babble, so I explained that Eve didn’t speak English yet. The girl then asked me to tell her something really complex, and I explained I didn’t speak enough Korean to do that. So the girl lead Eve across to the other side of the play area, and asked an asian woman to “Please tell her what her daughter was saying.” *facepalm*

Anyway, the flight home was only a few minutes late taking off, and we were at the very back of the plane. Thankfully, we’d worn Eve out in Seattle, so she slept most of the way home. I dozed for about a half hour, and then watched some TV. My Kindle Fire has been most handy for plane flights.
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Grandma and Aunt Heather picked us up at Terminal 2, and we grabbed our luggage and went out to the car. There, we strapped Eve into her carseat for the first time. She was confused by this, and when I closed the door to go around to my side, she FREAKED OUT. Just started sobbing for Omma. Poor baby. We got her calm, and made it home around midnight. It had been a very long day. Traveling back in time is hard.

She poked around some before we got her into bed. We’re co sleeping for a few weeks. Eve has been doing pretty well overall. She’s had a few times where she asked for her foster mom, and I have been comforting her and telling her “Mama’s here” and that I’ve got her. While in Korea she was very upset if one of us left the room, asking about where we were. Now that we are home, it seems to mostly be me that she looks for.

She had an episode the last few nights where she wakes up calling for foster mom, and it takes about a half hour to get her calmed back down. Lots of rocking and comforting her. She doesn’t speak any english yet, has only parroted a little bit back. She speaks a lot of Korean and will talk to you or tell you what she wants. We’ve got a little bit of it down. Our most useful phrase has been Kaja, which means “let’s go.”

Overall it was a very tiring whirlwind of a trip, but we are so thankful to have our little girl home!

Seoul, our first visit to South Korea

Our adventure technically began Weds night, because Weds was all about packing. We packed our bags, we got ready for the trip, and we packed up the boys’ things too. We had a good day, both of us worked from home so we were able to multi task and get everything done. Once I got off work, we spent time playing with the boys and swimming with them. Finally 7pm rolled around and we packed them up and took them to Laura’s, where they would spend the next 8-9 nights. I couldn’t sleep that night, so I tossed and turned until around midnight, when sleep finally claimed me.

My alarm went off, all I felt was the confusion of the very tired, but when i looked at my alarm, i had a jolt of adrenaline when i realized WHY I was getting up at 430AM. Mickey got us to the airport with plenty of time, and our flight to San Francisco was okay. A little annoyed that even though we boarded on time, we had to sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes, making us 30 minutes late to SanFran. We still had plenty of time though, despite needing to switch terminals. We randomly walked by a bunch of food trucks and ended up eating at a weird Indian food truck.
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The flight to Korea was SO LONG. I mean, it was a good flight, overall, even though we had to sit on the tarmac for ANOTHER 30 minutes. They had no wifi, but i’m not sure we would have paid for it even if we did have it. They did have a bunch of movies we could watch for free, including Captain America 2 and Ender’s game, so I watched that along with some random episodes of a couple of half hour comedy sitcoms. The service on Singapore Air was great. It was just a really long time to be on a plane. Especially since neither Bobby or I was able to sleep on the flight.
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When we arrived, it was 7:30pm local time, the next day. For us it was like 2:30AM though, so we were both zombies. We got through customs and got our luggage and met our driver! Yes, at the last minute, the driver for ESWS was able to pick us up after all! Then we swung by and got a WiFi Egg. This thing is awesome. It’s about $9 a day, and it’s unlimited data plan, wifi for our phones, computers, tablets, LOVE IT. Anyway, we loaded up in the van and drove to ESWS. It was so weird, the sun was just this big red ball, it looked exactly like it does on the Japanese flag.
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We’re staying at the ESWS guest house, and the driver got a key and showed us to our room. He was a life saver, I know Bobby and I would have figured it out on the subway, but we would have yelled and been frightened and dead on our feet if we’d have ended up doing it. The room is a cute little no frills room, but we like it. We basically took showers and crawled into bed.
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This means that I was (of course) up at 4AM, wide awake and ready to go. By a little after 5 I’d woken Bobby up too. We were out on the street ready to explore by 6AM. Of course nothing was open. We took forever to figure out the subway.
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We took it one stop and then walked around randomly for hours.
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You think I’m joking but I’m really not. Bobby was in charge and that was what he wanted to do. We ran into a protest,
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found a cute park with exercise equipment in it,
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walked along the waterfront,
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and eventually found ourselves at an epically sized mall, just as it opened for the day.
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I’Park mall was so huge, 9 floors up and two sub basements, we just wandered around and looked at things. They had this awesome kids area with a giant bouncy bear.
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We ate lunch in the mall,
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and then finally set out to the subway to find a tourist type thing to do.
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Bobby got us down to City Hall,
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where we were able to check out Deoksugung Palace
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and the Seoul History Museum.
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One funny moment, we were walking around underground between substations, and I decided to stop and hit the bathroom. I walked in, saw the squatting toilets, and said “Nope! Nope! Nope!” and then turned around and walked out. All other bathrooms have mostly been western style. I did find a Starbucks with explicit instructions not to flush any toilet paper or anything else down, and a bathroom that had both western and squatting toilets.

At this point our feet were killing us and we’d been exploring for about 9 hours, so we decided to head back to the ESWS area, and took the subway to Hongdae area.
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There we found dinner and retired to bed at about 730pm, totally wiped out.

The next day was Sunday, and we were up at 5AM. We took our time, using the subway to wind our way to the stop closest to Seoul Tower. We got up to street level, laid eyes on the tower, and started hiking that way.
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Which was not the best plan, we were wandering upwards and hit a dead-end, in the middle of some odd neighborhood, and the tower looming just on the other side of the mountain.
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Then we saw the cable car going to the top, and managed to stumble onto part of Namsan park. From there, we found a map with a “You are Here” and navigated to the cable car.
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We took that up to Seoul Tower, which was really pretty.

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The Love Locks are fascinating to me.
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There was a cool display of “trick photos” that we had some fun with.
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We did pay to go to the top, and the view was stunning, but a little hazy.
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After that, we made some new friends! A friend of mine is friends with someone who lives here, and who has a 2 year old little girl. The family is moving to Tempe soon, and wanted to meet other people in the area with kids. So we had lunch with them and their little girl.
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They ordered the food and it was so nice to have a native speaker along with us for lunch! We had a great time together, and promised to get together again once we’re all back in AZ.

After lunch, we went wandering again. We found these fantastic outdoor markets,
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a beautiful fountain,
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the gate to city,
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and a neat stream in the middle of the urban area.
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The stream was so nice and peaceful, but there were some scary signs about how the “flood gates” open when it rains and to evacuate the area if it started to rain.
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We had Korean BBQ for dinner and located the “Hongdae district” which is the college town area about a mile from where we are staying.
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That area has a lot of young people who all speak english, and is a lot like a popular mall area mixed with Mill Ave. We had ice cream and waffles and heard more English there.
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All and all, a good day!

Monday I slept till just past 5, instead of waking up at 4 and hanging out till 5. We’re stuck close to our room, because today was finally the day we got to meet Eve KaYeong. We’d picked up some doughnuts for breakfast the day before, because nothing is open till 8AM, and we are up so freaking early every day here, thanks to jet lag.

Eve walked in with her foster mom wearing the most adorable pink dress ever. She was hesitant around us at first, not really sure what to make of us. We followed our social worker up to the play room. Eve was very curious, she kept pointing at things and saying “Mooyah?” which basically meant, “What is that?”

I pulled out some Minnie Mouse Bubbles and she got excited, saying “AH-ME!” Which is apparently her word for Minnie Mouse. Her foster mom said that her favorite picture we sent is the one of me holding the Minnie doll we sent her. Eve speaks no english at all. She knows the letter “B” and can identify it, but that was pretty much it.

I had this panic about seven minutes in, when it all sort of hit me, just the enormity of it. I worry for her and leaving behind all that she has ever known, and it’s pretty scary. Thankfully she started to warm up to us. To Bobby first, honestly. He’s so amazing, he just dove right in while I was processing. He was blowing bubbles and making silly faces.

KaYeong kept wandering back to foster mom for hugs, she’s obviously attached well and was seeking reassurance. She loves story time and books, including sticker books. Her foster mom said she doesn’t like the playground or going down the slide, but Bobby managed to get her up and down the slide.

We gave her a book with animal pictures and she demonstrated her ability to imitate the appropriate animal sound. Adorable.

They had a little toy police car that she drove around. Her foster mom said she still likes cars. KaYeong had some dental issues (We were aware) so her dentist told them to not give her anything too sugary, so she mostly eats fruits and veggies, no cookies or candies. She likes sweet potato and cucumber and boiled veggies .

The second slide she bumped her foot, and it upset her a bit, but we distracted her with bubbles. She then found her bravery and climbed back up on the slide. Foster mom decided to take of KaYeong’s socks, and our little girl asked her “Why?” when she did it. Then KaYeong sat at the top of the slide for a while flexing her adorable little toes. Finally she worked up the courage and slide down again, then climbed right back up. That’s when she noticed Bobby’s little GoPro camera, silently filming. She pointed at it and said “Camera?”

Bobby handed her the camera and let her play with it, but foster mom came over pretty quickly with a digital camera and handed that to KaYeong, taking away the GoPro. KaYeong turned on the camera and took some very artistic shots of her toes. It was awesome. I grabbed my camera and took a few shots, and I use the viewfinder on mine, not the screen. Eve saw me do that and started putting her camera to her face too!

Eventually I convinced her to hold my hand and go down the slide. She loved this slightly slower sliding very much, and we did a bunch of that. Eventually her foster mother wanted to give us some gifts, so we exchanged presents. She had gotten the boys Hanboks, jewelry boxes for me and for grandma, and business card holders for Grandpa and Bobby. So pretty. She seemed to really like the necklace and other things we had gotten her.

Before we were ready, time was up. Eve gave Bobby a hug, and she sat down in my lap for a minute as we said goodbye. We also got our schedule for the rest of the week.

We then went to fill out the visa application, only to discover that the (US) gov’t office had given us the wrong numbers. I immediately emailed the office everything to get the right set of numbers, but given that it was Sunday evening in the US, we ended up waiting until 9pm to get the right numbers, missing our window that day to do the paperwork.

We had lunch with Dr. Kim, her father opened ESWS (the agency we are working with in Seoul, and where we are staying) many years ago, and she took over running it from him. She was very nice, and our lunch was good. They had forks out, which is a total bonus for me. Chopsticks and I are not friends. We met two other families in process as well as some adult adoptees on a homeland tour, and we all ate lunch together.

After that we went back up to our room to change, and then went out and found the Costco! Yes, we went all the way to Korea and went shopping at Costco. Actually, it worked out well, we got some cool Pororo things for Eve. After that, we did more walking around and shopping.
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I’d just sort of hit my limit on food I couldn’t identify and chopsticks, so we found a pizza place for dinner, and had more waffles and ice cream for dessert.

Despite not falling asleep until after 9pm (the latest we’d managed to stay up this whole trip. We’d crashed by 7:30-8pm every day so far) I was up at 5AM again the next morning. I let Bobby sleep until 6:30 while I checked on things at home and played on my computer.

We headed out to the subway, feeling more confident about using it, finally. We took the train to Seoul Station, which seems to open up before anywhere else around here. There we had breakfast at KFC, which was totally different flavor from the KFC in AZ.

From there, we took the subway to Meyong-dong, which is a big shopping area. Of course it didn’t open till 10:30AM, so we killed some time in a Starbucks and did some people watching.
The Malls here are so TALL. We spent some time exploring the area, having lunch, and we bought ourselves each an item. I got this neat blanket, and Bobby got a BlackYak shirt.
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Then we took the subway back to ESWS, except we knew we had to be there at a certain time and it made us very nervous that we were going to do it wrong. Despite our worries, we got back to the hotel without any issues. We were soaked in sweat though, it’s very humid here, and even though its significantly cooler (in the low 80s) here, the humidity makes it seem much warmer. I do not like it.

We got changed and headed downstairs to fill out our US visa forms for Eve, now that we had the right numbers. We were down there filling out the forms, both of us looking at the computer when KaYeoung arrived. She ran right up to Bobby and called him “Appa” (Korean for Daddy).
Her foster mom said that she was asking for Bobby yesterday after they left. KaYeong is totally in love with Bobby, it is so sweet.

It took a minute to finish the paperwork, and then we went up to the playroom again. KaYeong kept wanting to play with Bobby, and Bobby was more than happy to interact with her. I talked to foster mom (FM) a bit more. Eve’s first words were the korean terms for Mama and Milk. Eve is not potty trained, FM did try a couple of weeks ago, but Eve refused to go potty and would hold it for hours to avoid using the potty (especially for poo.) She has a blanket that she sleeps with, which she loves to put over her head at night. She goes looking for it and won’t sleep without it. She also likes to carry around the Minnie doll we sent a while back, along with some books we sent. We were told she loves her stuffed animals.

She listens well, and when told not to do something, she will stop. When she needs comfort she loves to be hugged. She has one bottle of milk before bed, and FM recommended we keep that up for a month or so after we get her home. (I need to buy a bottle!) “Auggie” is baby in Korean, and when KaYeong wants to do something herself, she will tell FM “AUGGIE” which is her way of saying “No, I will do it myself.” Our Social Worker (SW) here in Korea said at one point that Eve was so sweet she wanted to adopt her! (She was not serious)

I asked FM how KaYeong is used to traveling, and the answer is walking. KaYeong walks everywhere herself, FM does not have a stroller, and Eve is too big to ride on her back. I suspect that KaYeong doesn’t often go places and is mostly a homebody. It may take her some time to get used to our on the go household!

Eve loved the magnets this time, and enjoyed sticking them on one fridge, then moving them to the other. Also, there was a toy stethoscope and she loves to play with it. Bobby would fake a heart attack, and she’d come running with the stethoscope to heal him. It was adorable. She would hug Bobby when asked, but not me. We had a discussion (FM, SW, and me) about how she understood that she was getting a Daddy, that she hadn’t had one before and was very excited about it. However, she has a mom already, Foster Mom. So the idea of a second Mom is confusing to her. I’m not too worried, KaYeong and I will have plenty of time to bond once we get her home, and her bonding to Bobby is great. So good that she feels comfortable with us. Bobby did try to get her to play with him on his phone, even downloaded a Pororo ap, but she was much more interested in other things!

About a half hour into our playtime, the SW quietly left the room. About 10 minutes after that, FM snuck out too. KaYeong noticed, but was okay staying and playing with us. We got about 30 minutes just the three of us in the playroom before our time was up.

FM is so sweet and amazing. Eve is the 36th child she has fostered. She thanked us (thanked us?? We kept thanking her) for loving Eve and taking her into our family. I cannot thank this woman enough, she is so wonderful and kind. She has done an excellent job with KaYeong, and Eve will miss her so much.

We were very sad to see Eve leave, but next time we see her, she will be ours! Bobby was on cloud nine after our second meeting, telling everyone about how he got hugs! It was adorable!

Bobby and I went out shopping and picked up some Pororo stuff for Eve, since its hard to find that in the states and we wanted to have some for her room and in her toybox at home.
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We’ve got the space to take some stuff back with us this time, and next time I suspect we will be loaded down with Eve’s stuff. We had dinner and dessert and it was back to ESWS to try and get some sleep! (Side note, the bugs here love me. I’m up to six itchy bug bites)

At 4:30AM Weds, the fire alarm went off in ESWS, so I was up bright and early, nervous about court later that day. We lazed around for a couple of hours before hopping the subway back down to Seoul Station for some more exploring. We went up to Namsan Park and got some pictures, found both breakfast at lunch, and then got back to our room with plenty of time to prepare for court.
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Driving in Korea, it’s sort of like Offensive Driving All The Time. First of all, as far as we can tell, Motorcycles and the like do not have to follow any rules at all. They can go wherever, whenever, on the roads, on the sidewalks, in cross walks, the wrong way down the street, anything goes. Secondly, when crossing the road, Bobby and I are relying on the penguin method. Basically we wait in a crowd, and try to go in the center of the crowd. People seem to have right of way, but we’re not sure. Thirdly, the cars seem to follow the rules of, I CAN FIT THERE! and force their way in wherever they want to go without leaving any type of space between one another. It’s pretty freaking scary. Thankfully, we don’t have to drive, our agency provided a van and driver. There were even seatbelts! Well, lap belts, and you sort of had to dig around for them, but we did find them!

The court building was on the other side of town, and while the drive there was harrowing, we made good time. We had a good talk with our translator, a nice woman from the US who also works as a social worker. Once we arrived we found the two other families from our lunch with Dr. Kim who are also in process. We waited for about an hour, had our passports looked at, and then waited again for a bit. Finally the judge called back the first family. Bobby and I were last.

The judge seemed nice, but it was hard to tell. He asked us:
From your file, your second son had some issues, how was that, and how is he now?
Who is watching our boys while we are in Korea?
Did we meet KaYeong, how did that go?
How do we plan to raise KaYeong?
Mom- What is the best thing about Dad’s parenting
Dad- What’s the best thing about Mom’s parenting
And then he made us promise to love her and always try to see things from her point of view.

And we left. Now we have to wait and see if all the paperwork is in place, if it is, it should be about a month. If they need more information, it might take 2 to 3 months.

The drive back was just as harrowing, but we arrived safely and went back to our room. We peeled off our court clothes and changed into our everyday wear, and then headed back out down a new path. We found the Hyundai Department Store, I kid you not. 10 floors of mall, including an excellent bakery and a restaurant with a view. We had another dinner full of things I could not identify, and then went back down to the bottom floor. We found some Macaroons, which we got for dessert before trooping back to our room again.
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We watched a little Korean TV (I’d say Korean commercials are weird, but so are US ones, so I think that’s universal.) and relaxed. I managed to sleep in till 6AM the next day. I think a few more days and I’d have been on Korean time. Instead, we started the process of packing up to head home, finally. Because let me tell you, I missed my boys.

We had “breakfast” at Cafe Comma, which had this amazing Chocolate Mint Tea and this to die for brownie. There were floor to ceiling books and just a great atmosphere, we really loved this place.
Korea trip 1 (183 of 221)
Korea trip 1 (162 of 221)
Bobby then led us out to the subway again, where we took the train to Digital Media City. This seemed to be a newer area, with a lot of business offices and such.
Korea trip 1 (169 of 221)
They had some very tall buildings and some very odd sculpture, but also more green space than we’d seen. We found this park, Sangam Neighborhood park, and it was like stepping into a rainforest. There were dense trees lots of birds. Also, it was drizzling all morning, which only added to the atmosphere. It was so pretty!
Korea trip 1 (184 of 221)
Korea trip 1 (173 of 221)
Korea trip 1 (180 of 221)

Eventually we worked our way out of the park and found lunch before heading back to our room. We finished getting packed and got driven to the airport, thankfully traffic was light! The flight home was very long, we left at 5:50pm Korea time (which is 1:50AM AZ time), and arrived in the USA at 5:30pm. Since we’d been up since 6AM Korean time, that meant we’d been awake for about 27 hours, as neither of us could sleep on the flight. Mickey picked us up and got us home, for which I am so thankful, as neither of us was up for driving. We made ourselves stay up until 8pm before crashing, and I slept through straight till 7:30AM.

Laura brought us our boys around 9:30AM, and it was so great to finally have them back! We missed them so much!!!
Korea trip 1 (205 of 221)

Thank you for reading, if you held on this long, you should know that you can see more pictures of our trip here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jadesymb/sets/72157645518354252/

We can’t wait to go back and get Eve KaYeong in about 4 to 8 weeks!

Korea trip 1 (146 of 221)

Thank You. You. Yes You. Thank you for reading. (30 days to be Thankful, day 30)

Today I’m thankful for you.
Yes you. The person reading this right now.
Because if you are reading this, YOU are important to me. You’ve friended me on livejournal or on Facebook or subscribed to my WordPress blog.
I’m important enough to you that you are taking time out of your life to read the words I’ve put down here.
You’re using social media to maintain a connection to me and mine.
And I’m so thankful you decided to do that. I appreciate you.

Thank you for reading.

All month, every time I’ve turned around, there have been more people to thank, more people I am thankful for, more people I want to mention. I thought I’d be struggling here at the end, but now I feel like if I had more time I could write a letter to each and every one of you.

So Thank You. Thank you for being in my life, in the lives of my children.

So much love to you!
jen

PS, I ordered Holiday Cards! If you’d like one mailed to you, send me your address!

Thank You friends (30 days to be Thankful, day 29)

Thank you to so many of my friends-

I’ve only got two letters left, and there are so many people left to thank.
JT- For always being my big brother.
Ali- For all your amazing sense of style
Stephen- For your awesome insight on the world
AAron- For the workouts, and the motivation.
Rosa- For your smile, and your geek love
Zak & Jennie- For making my high school freshman year awesome, and for opening my eyes.
Andrew- For opening my eyes, and for your drive to find your happiness
Star & Renee- For being there when I really needed a friend.
Kate T- For the great memories and being one of my best friends.
Tiffany S- For leading the charge at TPing houses!
Jeremy & Elizabeth- For still being good friends, despite all the distance.
Elizabeth C- For hanging out with me and my family
Tara- Making business school great!
Shawni, John Mike, Mert, and family-Monica, Stacy, Mercy, Adam and family- For being friends with our family, for the babysiting and being the adopted Uncles and Aunts! I’ve got some great memories of you all.
Sue, Matt, Jill, and family- For climbing the dang wall, playing the weirdest games, and making great time together.

I’m grateful for you all!
Thank you!!
jen

Thank You to the Hench (30 days to be Thankful, day 28)

Dear Hench and Henchlings-

Thank you for being the most awesome group of friends a person could ever ask for. There are, including the Henchlings, about 50 us in total, which is a rather large group of friends! I love how the Hench is always willing to pull together in a crisis. How if someone ends up in the hospital or stranded on the roadside, or needs advice, or anything, a simple email will elicit help and support.

I love the fact that those of us who are around will turn up for dinner once a week, and that when those far away visit, a party is sure to ensue. The Hench provides all of us a network beyond family, a network of people who care and love and are willing to work together despite our differences. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life.

I love the conversations, the discussions, even the ones that turn loud when a difference of opinion comes up. I’m grateful for the intelligence and the willingness to research, the time spent gathering and learning. I love the geekiness of the whole group as well.

Laura- You are the heart of the Hench. Thank you for hosting.
Dirk- Your stories and sense of adventure enrich all our lives, thank you.
Mel- Your kindness and willingness to help others is something I am forever grateful for.
Liz- Your inner geek and outer fan girl never fail to make me happy. I’m grateful for the way your mind works and always impressed by your ability to understand the world around us.
Amy- Always with a kind word, you brighten every room you enter. You are willing to help us out and provide advice and expertise when asked. Your movie knowledge is legendary, and watching you get excited about something is a joy to behold. Thank you also for holding my hand and keeping me entertained while I got my tattoo. I don’t know that I would have been able to sit through it without you. You rock.
Leo- You’re new, but I love the way you make Amy smile, and I have to thank you for reaching out and making friends with my husband, I know he always enjoys his time talking to you.
Christine- Your determination and willingness to help others is something I’m forever grateful for.
Jay- You have such heart, and an open mind. Also, you seem to make Christine pretty happy! Thank you.
Courtney- You are so smart! Thank you for all the times you’ve watched the kids for us.
Alyx- You’ve really grown into this amazing adult, and it’s been a pleasure to watch. Thank you for your open mindedness and your willingness to ask and to learn.
Jessie- You’ve got such a bright personality, and it’s always a joy to spend time with you.
Becky- We miss you so! You’re intelligence and unique point of view are a valuable asset, and you’re always so much fun. I am so thankful every time we get to hang out.
Sam- You entertain a room and inspire a loyalty that I think would surprise even you. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with you, but I always enjoy our talks. You fascinate me.
Gyan- Your geekiness makes my week. Thank you also for all the time you and Bobby spend chatting. We love hanging out!
Jamie- Your conversations are fun, and gaming with you is a blast. Thank you!
Crystal- Thank you for all the conversations we’ve had about Ollie and about food allergies. Thank you for the referrals, because it’s always great to work with you. I enjoy our chats!
Eric- I’m so thankful for your expertise and willingness to share it. Also, I always enjoy skating more when you’re on the rink!
Kevin- We don’t see much of you, but when we do, you’re always smiles and hugs and caring! Thank you!
Iria- Thank you for all your advice on Ollie man. I always appreciate your expertise. Also, you rock, and I love it when we get to hang out with you.
Rich- Your hugs always brighten my day. I love how dirty your mind is, and how caring you are. The way you step in and help is something I am always grateful for, and I really enjoy our conversations. Thank you!
Matt- I love watching you play with the henchlings. You’ve got a willingness to put yourself out there and a kindness in your heart.
Jasmine- You are so witty and so much fun. I wish we had more time to spend together, because I always have blast talking to you.
Julia- Your cakes are so awesome! I love hearing about your stories and watching you with the babies. You’re awesome.
Eric- I love how you make Julia happy, and how good you’ve been for her. I don’t know you very well, but I am thankful for you.
Alena- I love your tumblr and your geekiness. Time spent talking with you is always time well spent.
Oz- I greatly appreciate that you and Bobby get along so well and have so much to talk about. You bring a different point of view to many conversations and I value your opinion.
Rachel- I always enjoy our time together. You have a way of looking at the world that I really enjoy. You are an amazing person and I’m glad to know you.
Sean- I love that your way of looking at things is so diverse compared to others, and that you are willing to share that with us. We miss you and always welcome you!
Michael- What amazing adventures you are on! I’m super thankful for all your posts on facebook where you share them with us. You have a bright smile and a happiness that you share wherever you go. We miss you!
Spencer- You are always up for some great conversation, and I love getting to game with you or spend time with you. You are insightful and do your best to be helpful when you can be. I value the way you interact with all the kids, and your geekiness knows no limits. I love it when we get to chat and spend time together.
Husband mine- You rock, and I love you, and am grateful for you for so many reasons. As it relates to the hench, I love the way you’re willing to help on projects and handiwork, and the way you liven conversations.

Henchlings- It’s an honor to watch you grow and to be part of the “Village” that you are growing in. I love you all and greatly appreciate the chance to be “Auntie” to so many of you.

Hench- You all rock. I’m so very grateful for all of you. I love the time we spend together and the High Hench Holidays. THANK YOU!!!!!!

jen

 

ps.  There is a lot of us, If I missed anyone, I am so sorry, but no less thankful for you!

 

Hench

Thank You to the OR crew (30 days to be Thankful, day 27)

To the OR crew-

Moving to Portland was a pretty big change for Bobby and I, having grown up here in AZ. (where we eventually returned!) We didn’t really know anyone, and had to meet people and build a network from scratch. We met some really great people who deserve some thanks!

Fyr and Nick- We were pretty lonely when you guys moved, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out at the start. But we grew closer and had some amazing adventures. You guys helped make our lives in Portland awesome. Thank you so much for everything, the dinners, the games, the trips, the adventures. We love and miss you guys.

Mike, dude. Seriously. DUDE. I am so thankful that I met you. I always felt like you understood me in ways others never have. You were always supportive and so sweet. I miss you. I’m gonna thank your wife now too, even though we’ve never actually met. I’m thankful for Amy because she’s a totally rocking woman, and she makes you happy. I’m thankful for things that make you happy, and you really do seem to have found your groove now, for which I am also thankful.

Niki and Matt- Thank you for having us in your home and playing board games. It was so nice to have a place to go and a chance to meet new people. I really appreciate how welcoming and geeky you guys are. Also, you send the coolest Christmas cards! We miss you guys, and are always up for another round of Betrayal at the House on the Hill. I think of happy things and you guys every time we play. Also thank you to Travis for coming to the games and being such a great dude.

To the LARPers- You made life fun and interesting! Thank you for the awesome nights and the chance to escape reality.

To Kit and his friends whose names escape me- Thank you for inviting into your games. I felt so much better about the move knowing we had a place to start.

Aswad- Thank you for listening. Thank you for all your insights and amazing thoughts. Thank for your willingness to be yourself, and to not let others limit you. Your drive to be you inspires me. So much love to you.

I know I’m missing people. Love to all our friends from OR. We miss you guys. I’m thankful to have been able to spend time with you and to have gotten to know you.

thanks,
jen

Thank You to all of Ollie’s people (30 days to be Thankful, day 26)

To all the people who have helped Ollie-

I need to thank you. I need to start with the nurse at the hospital who realized he was seizing, I don’t know who you are. I lost track of you in everything that happened. I suspect, if not for you, my Ollie wouldn’t be here, and I don’t know how to thank you enough. There will never be anything I can do to thank you for what I have because of your diligence.

Thank you to all the nurses and doctors who were there back in 2009 who took care of Ollie. One of the nurses, her daughter made a sign for Ollie’s hospital room in ICU, with his name on it. It still hangs on the door to his bedroom today. You saved him. It was horrifying and scary and I’ll never be able to express my gratitude enough. Thank You.

Thank you to Dr. L for listening and always having advice. Thank you for taking the extra 15 minutes with us to answer questions.

To all the people at the DDD and to the therapists who’ve come to our home to work with Ollie, thank you. Your hard work has helped him to keep moving forward, to keep making gains, and to continue to give me hope that we can get past this, catch him up to his peers. Special thanks to Vickie, his speech therapist, who has stuck with Ollie for years now, and who has been a stable influence on him.

Thank you to Ms. Tish at PCA, who took extra time with Ollie and helped him make great gains. She potty trained him, she held his hand and sat with him and made his life a better place. Thank you to Ms. Cindy at SP, who has taken special care of Ollie and who helps make him comfortable. Thank you for finding him a Teddy Bear to hold when there was a rainstorm, for all the hugs, and for helping make drop off easy.

Thank you to Ms. E and her team at the “special” Preschool Ollie goes to. They all love him so much and spend so much time with him. He’s come a long way in the year he’s been going there, and I know a lot of that has to do with the care and attention you give him. You have made a comfortable place for him to learn, and spend the time to help him learn. Thank you.

Thank you to my close friends and family who work with Ollie and give him the extra time he needs to process. Thank you to Mel for listening and to Laura for all the amazing work she does with him. Thank you to Grandma for continuing to find ways to reach him and being willing to watch him.

Thank you to everyone who sees Ollie and doesn’t question, who gives him time to respond and doesn’t press when he actively looks away. Thank you to everyone who give him a hug or listens to him talk.

I love my Ollie man so much, but he truly takes a village. Thank you everyone who is part of his village. I know I’ve missed many important people in Ollie’s life, this is just the start of everyone who deserves thanks.

Forever thank you,
jen

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