Monday, November 24, 2008

It's the buttons, Mom!

Since Ian had his meniscus repair last Thursday, he's been sitting around...a lot. He The boys have enjoyed having jobs to do, especially taking things to Ian. Sam takes great pride in delivering a water bottle or tissue to Ian, giving himself a big round of applause afterward. Yesterday morning, Ian was snuggling with the boys and one of the blankets. Jack decided they needed to go camping.

As all three of them hid under the blanket a conversation started about seeing bears while camping. They were camping in bear country and Jack decided he needed to wear bear clothes.

"Bear clothes, Jack? What are they for?" I couldn't wait to hear his reply, his imagination is red-hot right now!

"They're for protection, Mom."

"What about the clothes protects you from the bears?"

"The buttons protect us. It's the buttons, Mom!"

Of course, the buttons, what was I thinking?!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 2, 2008

After some slight harrassing from a friend, I finally got my act together and finished a slideshow for Sam's finalization. We've had a rough couple weeks, but are Surviving...

On October 2nd, we finalized Sam Yoosung's adoption. It was a fun day! Jack had school in the morning and Sam helped me in the kitchen getting ready for company after the courthouse. Many of our friends-who-are-fmaily joined us at the courthouse and then later for a Korean dinner at our home.

The judge was so kind and everyong got a Snoopy stamp on their hand, picked out by Samy! As with Jack's finalization, I didn't think it could feel any more "official" but it did. It was very exciting this time to be able to go in front of a judge and make it official. After Ian, myself, and the judge signed the documents she said, "And now we clap because it's official!" Needless to say there were few dry eyes in the jury box (where our guests sat)!

Enjoy!



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Footprints by Dorthy Ferguson


How very softly
You tiptoed into my world.
Almost silently,
Only a moment you stayed.
But what an imprint
Your footsteps have left
Upon my heart.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Milestones: First Day of Pre-School

As I look back over the last year, my sweet little Jack has grown quite a bit! In the last year, Jack has gone from diapers to big boy undies, crib to big boy bed, and now pre-school. Where has my baby gone? He's growing up! And while it's sad to loose my baby, it sure is fun to watch him grow! As I drove him to school this morning, I peeked at him in the kid-view mirror. His reflection was at the corner and distorted a bit, but it made him have that perfectly round face and cubby, chubby cheeks he had as a baby. I just about burst into tears! I miss that little face and the cuddly baby...but Jack has turned into a sweet, sensitive, cuddly boy!

No first day of school would be complete without front porch pictures!


And here is my pre-schooler by the wishing well made by my Dad

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The day has come

I knew the day would come. The day comes without warning during a mundane activity. The day that all the adoption parenting books talk about. The day your social worker helps you prepare for. The day the adoption parenting classes help you practice. The day that is discussed frequently on adoption forums. The day when your child asks you questions about adoption. Not just questions about the day we got his picture and I ran down the hall and got to the front office before the UPS man was out of his truck, but deeper ones...ones that show he's really processing it. It was time to put my practice to the test...would I pass, would I help him understand? Would I give him too much information? Did I prepare enough for this?

"Mommy, were you adopted?" Jack asked as we washed his hands after using the potty.

I took a deep breath to gather my thoughts. This is it, I think, Jack is really understanding adoption. Please, God, let me do this right!

"No, Sweetheart, I wasn't adopted like you and Sam. I have only one mommy and you have three! Your Omma is your birthmother and Gramma is my birthmother. Your Omma is your first mommy, then Mrs. Park who took care of you in Korea is your second mommy, and I am your third mommy. Your mommy forever and ever." (Thank you, Third Mom!!)

"Mrs. Park bought us ice cream when we met her! And Sam has three mommies too, right?" For being only 3 and 1/2, Jack seems to put things together pretty quickly!

"She did buy us ice cream. And yes, Sam does have three mommies. He has his Omma, his foster mother, and me. I am yours and Sam's forever mommy."

"But, I have only one daddy?" That's when it hit me, I hadn't talked about the daddies...he does have 3 daddies, and we have talked about his Appa but not as much as his Omma. Uhg, I failed, I thought.

"Well, you have three daddies too..." and I explained his Appa, foster father, and Ian being his forever daddy.

"Okay, Mommy. Can I have a snack now?"

I guess I did okay for the first time. Next time I will be sure to not forget the daddies...but next time I think it will be an even more challenging question. And I do have to remember that Jack brought it up so that means he is comfortable asking me questions about adoption...and that is what I have been striving for.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Busy, busy month!

Oh my goodness we have been busy! Having 2 boys certainly makes interesting and FUN days! Once I am asleep at night, I am sleeping pretty soundly! We have had a few visitors since Sam's arrival...my parents surprised us at the airport when we arrived home in addition to Alethea (Ian's older sister); Ian's parents came a couple weeks later; and our friend Migum and her son Blas came this week. We haven't seen Migum and Blas for 3 years so it was nice to catch up. Blas and Jack are just 4 months apart and they got along great! We can't wait to see them again. And Migum taught us a hand game that Korean mommies play with their babies...Sam Yoosung was sure glad we learned that! His eyes lit up when Migum started doing it! These last 6 weeks have been a blur of fun, crying, frustration, playing, Sea World, playgroup, cleaning, and more fun! Settling into being a family of 4 has been an adjustment for all of us but we are figuring it out.

Sam's attachment and adjustment are going so well. He is so comfortable and is understanding most of what we say now. He has been picking up the signing very fast and is using the signs a lot. He is a very smiley child and is quite curious. Jack is easing into his big brother role very well. He enjoys helping me get a bottle for Sam and always makes sure that Sam has plenty to eat. Jack can also open the fridge by himself and can turn the lights on with the light switch! He is getting big!

Enjoy the slide show!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Forever Family!

Forever Family

What a very emotional day for us! I have more pictures, but did not include them to protect the foster mother's privacy. It was very obvious that Yoosung is well loved by all at SWS. Many case workers stopped by to say something to Sam and our case worker made us promise that we'd email when got home. She wants to make sure Yoosung is home safe and sound.

Sam wasn't sure about us at first, but warmed up pretty quickly to Jack. Sam knew something was going on, but not really sure what. We played for about 45 minutes, then met some of the people who helped us bring Sam home. When it was time for us to leave, I could barely hold it together. I couldn't believe that it was really happening, we were adding another boy to our family but I was feeling so sad for Yoosung, his foster mother, and all the people who have gotten to know and love him. Our night went better than I expected. As soon as we got back, Jack and Sam played then we joined another family for dinner. Sam didn't want to eat, so I walked around outside with him. We gave the boys baths tried together at first but Sam didn't know what to do in the tub. Jack tried his best to show him, but Sam wanted the sink (where he was bathed by his foster mother). I carried Sam around on my back to get him to sleep and both boys slept great all night! Each woke once, Jack to potty and Sam had a bit of a meltdown. But all in all our first night as a family was fairly smooth.

Welcome home, Sam Yoosung! We are so glad we are all together!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And 3 become 4...

June 16, 2008, 7:58 AM
This is the verse of the day on my iGoogle homepage:


Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a
reward from him.

Psalm 127:3


I cannot think of a more fitting verse as we add another sweet son to our family! In just a few hours our family will grow and none of us can wait! 3 pm and Sam will be part of his forever family.

Day 4 - Father's Day, Itaewon again, with Forum Friends

What Father's Day is complete without a lunch at Outback? And in Korea? We learned that the Outback here is superior to the Outbacks back home. First of all, Jack got actual silverware made for kids! Each time we got to Outback at home, Jack ends with with a huge spoon he can barely fit in his mouth. The menu also had lots of things the menu doesn't have back home. And it was open for lunch and not because it was Mother's of Father's Day! We like the Outback in Itaewon!


And Jack did the Sprinkler for Father's Day! Hope it was a good day, Daddy!
Today we met Christa and Steve again and also met another couple from the adoption forum, Melissa and Scott. We all went into Itaewon together and Ian and I were the tour guides. We each did a bit of shopping and a lot of chatting! Christa and Melissa are meeting their kids tomorrow and were oozing with the excitement of that. With us picking up Sam tomorrow, there was plenty of excitement from us too! Christa, Melissa, and I were gabbing like a bunch of middle school girls and the guys chatted quitely behind us. Each of us are glad that the stress of the waiting is just about to an end and are looking forward to the next stages of our families.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Edited to add a brag on my oldest son.

This trip has been hard, emotionally and physically. We have done a lot, seen a lot, walked a lot. And Jack has kept up the best he can. He's had only 1 major meltdown (at the palace yesterday) and has had a smile on his face just about the entire time! We have learned that Jack is a very good traveler and can be pushed beyond his limits. I am so proud of Jack with how well he has done thus far with all the change, travel, different foods, and excitement. Way to go, Son!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 3 - Day with Mrs. G and Forum Friends

Today we spent most of the day with the mother of a friend of ours. We know Migum from Charlotte and were thrilled that she had encouraged us to contact her mom once in Seoul. Mrs. G took us to a palace, out to eat, and showed us about Seoul. We learned more about Korea today than we ever had! There is definitely something to be said for spending some time with a local!

First we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was beautiful! The paintings and scultpures/statues were fantastic. The National Folk Museum is also located here and we visited there too. Mrs. G helped us obtain an English guide to show us around so he could explain everything to us. It was really interesting to learn about Korean history, everyday life, and art. We got to see how the King and Queen lived in the palace although it was cut short by the temper tantrum of a certain 3 year old (This is the first he's had since leaving San Diego so we certainly cannot complain! Jack is a trooper!). Maybe we'll be able to go back and look around some more another day. Once in the car, he started calming down. I think the heat and just being outside so much was getting to him. Mrs. G took us to a wonderful authentic Korean restaurant. We ate octopus, small fish, anchovies, bulgogi, jap-chae, and other tasty dishes I can't name. I tried everything I could, but some of the food smelled so spicy I knew I couldn't tolerate it. Some of the food didn't seem spicy, but the spice built and within minutes I felt my mouth on fire! We learned that you eat rice with a spoon and mixing bulgogi, kimchi, and rice is wonderful (well, I didn't do that for the spicy kimchi!). It was really neat to eat in an old Korean house at a low table and have an authentic Korean meal.

Afterwards, she took us to Namdaemun market and we got to experience that. It was quite crowed with shoppers and the vendors with their goods. I am amazed at how many people are in Seoul, and this market was just a small portion! The market is divided up into sections and each section sells certain goods. All of the kids stuff is in one area, household goods in another, and so on. It was better than any department store in the US!

We also met today, two families I met on an online adoption forum. They both received their travel calls this week and are staying at the same hotel. One family already had plans, but we met the other couple (Christa and Steve) for dinner and we walked around Insadong. It was really fun to meet them in person and we all shared in one another's excitement of the children that would soon be joining our families. Christa and I talked and talked this evening and we are going to go to Itaewon tomorrow together. It is really neat to have another family here that is going through the same thing as us. We didn't get to experience that before so I am glad we are this time around!

Various pictures around the palace. It's amazing to me that something this beautiful and serene is located in the middle of a very busy city!







Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 2 - Itaewon and Meeting with Jack's Foster Mom

This morning we went to Itaewon, a shopping district near the US Army base. We went there when we traveled for Jack and wanted to visit a few of the shops we had before. One of them was no longer there and the other shop was unattended (a street booth). We will be going back to visit the booth to get a name scroll made for Sam and name chops made for both boys. We had fun walking around and taking everything in. Went into Hamilton shopping center and bought a few souvenirs. Then we headed over to Holt, Korea offices to meet with Jack's foster mother.

After we received the travel call for Sam, I contacted WACAP to see if they would be able to set up a meeting for us with Jack's foster mother. We found out the day before we left that we would be able to see her. What a treasure meeting with Mrs. Park was! Somewhere in the communication, it was lost that Jack was going to be with us. When we arrived at the Holt, Korea office she happened to be by the door and she shouted, "Seung Joon-ee!" It brought tears to my eyes! It was obvious that she was very excited to see him and after we sat down with a Holt staff person, Mr. Kim, it was explained why she was so surprised.

We had a lovely visit talking about Jack and how he has been. Mrs. Park said that she really remembers him because he was such a smart baby, and that has continued to be true about our Seung Joon. I had several pictures printed out and burned a CD full of them for her and also had a few little gifts for her. She bought a cute outfit for Jack that he'll grow into (she commented that he is small, something we get a lot!). There are really no words to explain how wonderful it was to see her and talk with her. Jack had to use the restroom and while Mr. Kim showed Ian where to take him, Mrs. Park and I sat holding hands and smiling at one another. Nothing needed to be said, we both knew what the other was thinking, Thank you for this opportunity.

As we were leaving, Mrs. Park and the 3 of us walked out together. She took us into a little convenience store about bought us all ice cream and Jack a juice. I tried to say no, but she insisted. I felt quite honored that she wanted to do something for us, when it was her that did so much for our son. And as she handed Jack the ice cream, he said his first Korean word kamsahamnida, thank you. I don't think Mrs. Park realized it was the first time he said it, but she smiled very big at Jack when he said it, and in my heart I know he was saving it for her.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 1 - Meeting Sam

We arrived safely in Seoul after a long flight and all slept good...until a little after 4 am. We laid in bed as long as we could keep Jack there, then got up to start the day. After Ian blew up my hairdryer (with the adapter) we headed down to breakfast. The buffet was wonderful and Jack was a hit with the staff and guests. It's nice to see that his charm extends 'round the world!

And then it was time to meet Sam Yoosung! We took a taxi, which Jack loved; it was really neat to see so much of Seoul. When we were here 3 years ago, we rode the subway so much that we didn't get to just ride around and take it in, so the taxi was a treat for all 3 of us! We arrived at SWS, met Sam's case worker then headed to his foster family's home. It was so neat to see where he has been living for the last year and an honor to be invited in his foster family's home. As hard as the travel is to get here, being able to see where he has been living, meet his foster mother, and talk with her is worth more!

Yoosung is a very happy boy who definitely has an opinion. Sam isn't shy, but wasn't too sure about me when I tried to touch his hand. He warmed up a little more after 15 minutes or so and then wanted me to stroke his hair when he did something good (Jack and Sam were stacking blocks and Sam did a good job). Jack and Sam got along great and were so cute playing together...my two sons were playing together! Jack was so sweet, kept wanting to hold Sam's hand and always let him have a turn first.

Say kimchi! Sam is a very smiley boy!

My sons, Sam Yoosung and John Seung Joon, the first of many cute pictures together!

Sam is very curious and wanted to check out my camera and Ian with the video camera.

Sam was opening and shutting the side door. We learned how to tell him no today, an do.

After meeting with Sam and his foster mother, we headed back to the agency and got to visit the baby's home. It's where babies spend the first couple months of their lives and where Sam lived until he joined his foster family. Sam was very much loved by the staff there and when they heard he had a family, they were all overjoyed. There are no words to describe how grateful I am to all these women who have cared for Yoosung and helped him turn into the happy, curious boy he is.

We cannot wait to see Sam again, especially Jack. He was crying this evening because he wanted Sam! We'll have to wait four more days to see him again; Monday, June 16, Sam Yoosung will become ours forever!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Last Days as Three

Ian and I have been trying to make this weekend very special for Jack. His world is about ready to be rocked so we want to stock him up on as much love as we can! As excited as he is about this trip, I know it will be a bit difficult for him. In addition to losing center stage, I am certain there will be feelings about adoption brought forth. I can't even imagine what is going through his head, but I hope he knows that no matter what it is, we love him always and forever.

We went to Sea World on Saturday and took in as many shows as we could including Cirque de La Mer, which Jack thought was fantastic! We were fascinated by the strength of the performers to hold their bodies and balance on the poles, and each other. Truly amazing. We also visited the Tide pool there and Jack was brave enough to pick up a sea star. He normally doesn't want to touch the animals or fish, so I was very proud of him for trying something new. It happened with little prompting from us, so our little man is getting brave!

Tonight we took Jack to see Kung Fu Panda, and it was great! It was his first time at a movie theater so he was really taking it all in. Jack sat on our laps and just laid back like the King he is, munching on the popcorn. It was so nice to snuggle with him tonight, it's rare these days that I get snuggles for that long. He really enjoyed the jumping around of the characters and thought they were silly. He really got giggling when the panda and the Kung Fu Master were both trying to get a dumpling and were fighting with their chopsticks.

My favorite part of the movie is that the panda, Po, and his father work in their noodle restaurant. The restaurant has been owned by generations of his family, who are all ducks. That's right, adoption was slipped in! It was so refreshing to see that and not have it be a big deal. Father is a duck, son is a panda, that's the family, no questions asked. I don't think Jack caught on, but maybe that will be something brought up on the plane ride. He has a tendency to bring up topics at a later time when it comes to his mind or maybe after he's thought about it for a while...for being only 3 years old, he is certainly very thoughtful.

As we close out our last days as a family of three, I am becoming quite sentimental. I want to remember everything about Jack right now...his tiny hand holding mine, his big hugs, his messy kisses, his bubbly giggles, his sweet voice. Because I know that after I have two little boys running around our home, time will pass quicker than I wish. I am looking forward to what Sam will be adding to our family, but I don't want to ever forget Baby Jack.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'll show you cannon ball!

We went to the pool this morning and Jack had a BLAST! He has always loved the water, but today he was in heaven...jumping and shouting,
"I'll show you cannon ball!"
(he got that from Curious George on PBS)
Enjoy my little cannon baller!





Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day, Jack!

3 years ago today we became a family of three! It was a day filled with mixed emotions...joy for us that we were gaining a son, sadness for Jack's foster family, joy for Jack that he was gaining a forever family, sadness for Jack's birthmother, sadness for Jack that he was leaving the only home he'd ever known. It was a hard evening for all 3 of us, the day he joined our family; Ian and I were brand new parents and Jack was confused about what was going on. There was lots of tears, both happy and sad, but soon he learned to trust us and we learned to decode his 5 month old cries.

And today as we celebrate being a family, I realize that Jack is starting to understand what adoption means. I am not so certain that he grasps the loss he experienced, but I do know he is grasping the concept of growing in his Omma's tummy and us being his forever family. I know that Sam's adoption process has helped with his understanding and I hope that Jack will be able to share his knowledge with Sam. I hope too, that I am able to help them along this confusing path and allow them experience whatever emotion they need.

As I remember the day Jack was placed in my arms, I can't help but to smile. As the social worker explained to me what was in our blue bag, Jack laid his head on my shoulder. The world disappeared and it was just me and my child. I was finally a mother, and my child was cozying up to me, his forever mommy.

Happy Gotcha Day, John Seung Joon! I am so glad that we got you and you got us.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

HERE WE COME, SAM!!!

Instead of my usual alarm clock (Jack), it was the phone that woke me at 6:20 am on May 29th. And what a wake-up it was! Nothing like starting my day finding out Sam is ready to come home!! Even better than hearing that was Jack's reaction. I went in to get him up, knowing full well I woke him with my excited shouts!

I whispered in his ear, "Jack, guess who's paperwork is done?"

He popped right up in bed, "My baby brother?! He's ready to come home! (starts to climb out of bed) Let's go get him!"

It was so sweet and he is so excited to go to Korea to meet him! Then Friday as we drove to Wal-mart he says:

Mommy, we are going to be Sam's forever family.

Ahhhh, sweet boy! He is really starting to understand adoption and even more important his own adoption process.

We are flying out on June 10th and will returned on June 18th. I cannot wait to walk through my front door as a family of FOUR!!

Hold tight, Sam! We're on our way!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Update! Update!




What a difference 10 months makes! Sam is now 16 months old, 31", and a bit over 24 lbs. And he's leaving the baby behind! I love that he is growing so much and doing so fabulous, but it makes me even more anxious to meet him!

We got a fabulous update about him and Sam is growing and thriving (as you can see!). I am a bit afraid he is going to eat us poor...he takes five 8 ounces bottles in addition to 3 meals a day at the table! He also loves cookies and will point to where they are kept in the kitchen and ask his foster mother for them.

Sam also enjoys being outside. When he is ready to go out, he will stand by the door with his socks and shoes and call "Umma! Appa!" while he tries to put on his socks and shoes. After he gets his diaper changed, he runs away...a trick his big brother did about that age! He appears to be meeting all the developmental milestones for his age. I wasn't concerned about that, but it is nice to know he isn't behind!

After reading the report, I felt so good...not only that we got more information about our son, but I know that his foster family loves him so much! There is no doubt in my mind that Sam is being cared for by a loving and incredible family. Sam seems to be a happy child which I attribute to the love and care of his foster family. I am looking forward to meeting them as well.

Jack is more than excited to meet Sam now. After seeing the pictures yesterday he wanted to know when Sam's paperwork would be done, "I can't wait to meet him, Mom!" Jack has come up with several more things to teach Sam, including how to do thumbs up. I never could had predicted this reaction out of Jack! There is a chance Jack may be more excited than me and Ian about bringing Sam home!

At this point in the process, all the stateside of the paperwork is done. We are waiting for Korea to finish up their documents and then Sam's immigration Visa can be applied for and issued.

Hurry, hurry! We are ready for our toddler!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tick tock, tick tock...

Something today has gotten me especially anxious about getting Sam home. Don't know what it is, but I am ready to have him home yesterday!

Maybe it's Jack coming up with new things every day that he wants to teach Sam.

Or that I pulled out Jack's old clothes and stuffed them into the dresser...it's to the brim with 12-18 and 18-24 mo clothes and Jack's...because we still don't know what size he's wearing .

Or that today Jack was tickling a picture of Sam and said he can't wait to tickle him .

Or maybe I'm just tired of waiting.

Yeah, that's probably it.


I am ready any time. Do not keep me waiting.

~John Mason Brown


Sam we are ready for you...as soon as Korea let's us, we'll be on our way!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I was Tagged!

Beckie tagged me. If you are tagged, link your post to the blog that tagged you then tag five new blogs. Have fun!

7 weird/unknown things about me, Cynthia: (courtesy of Mindy)
1. My feet are always cold. It can be 115 degrees and my feet will still be ice cubes. No amount of socks or blankets can keep them warm.
2. I can fit an entire Hostess Ho-Ho into my mouth. I used to be able to eat it then too, but would probably choke now.
3. I was a State Champion hurdler in high school: 2 wins in 100m hurdles and 2 wins in 55m hurdles (indoor track) at the State level.
4. I met Ian at Winthrop when he was talking with a friend of mine and I inserted myself into the conversation so I could meet him. We didn't start dating until a year later, but when we did, I knew I would marry him.
5. I like to organize stuff. My house doesn't always reflect that, but give me a label maker, some file folders, a couple boxes, and I'm in heaven!
6. Grilling is my favorite method of cooking. I want to bake a cake on the grill one day.
7. I will not eat bananas that have brown spots on the skin. The yellower the better, and a hint of green is okay with me!

The 5 bravest things I've ever done (in not particular order): (courtesy of Beckie)
1. Told Ian to call the recruiter after 9/11. After I realized what had happened, I knew that Ian needed to re-enlist in the Marine Corps. We didn't really talk about it because we both knew that he is called to be a Marine.
2. Went to Washington, DC to advocate for funding for cancer research and related legislation. I really enjoy doing it, but it is hard to talk to the people who are running our country and get your point across in less than 3 minutes without their eyes glazing over. A simple gesture to my scar while I share my story does wonders for that though.
3. Became a mother. Sure it looks all fun and game and snuggles, but there are times when it feels like you are being pecked to death by chickens. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding. I wouldn't trade it for the world!
4. Decided to share my story whenever I can. When I was diagnosed with cancer I knew no young adults that had battled it. Now, I try to make sure that nearly everyone I meet knows my story so that I may help another young adult with their battle as well. Having some one that has been there, done that always makes it easier to keep your dukes up.
5. Fought cancer (and kicked it's ass). I personally don't think it's so brave because honestly, did I have a choice? It wasn't something I chose to do, but I did choose how I would react to it. And having a good outlook made the battle a bit more interesting.

I am tagging:
Genderist
Becky
Emherbert
Erin
Teacher Mom

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We Remember

We remember that horrible tradgey that occured one year ago today. The world still mourns your loss. May the Hokie Spirit prevail.

May you never be forgotten...

Ross A. Alameddine
Christopher James Bishop
Brian Roy Bluhm
Ryan Christopher Clark
Austin Michelle Cloyd
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak
Kevin P. Granata
Matthew Gregory Gwaltney
Caitlin Millar Hammaren
Jeremy Michael Herbstritt
Rachael Elizabeth Hill
Emily Jane Hilscher
Jarrett Lee Lane
Matthew Joseph La Porte
Henry J. Lee
Liviu Librescu
G.V. Loganathan
Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan
Lauren Ashley McCain
Daniel Patrick O'Neil
Juan Ramon Ortiz-Ortiz
Minal Hiralal Panchal
Daniel Alejandro Perez
Erin Nicole Peterson
Michael Steven Pohle, Jr.
Julia Kathleen Pryde
Mary Karen Read
Reema Joseph Samaha
Waleed Mohamed Shaalan
Leslie Geraldine Sherman
Maxine Shelly Turner
Nicole Regina White

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

5 Years

Today is a bittersweet day for me. Five years ago today I heard those awful words for the first time, "You have cancer." There are few things in life more traumatizing to hear. And add on top that Ian had been in Iraq for 3 months, during the invasion.

Needless to say, I approach this day with a bit of sorrow.

But it's been five years! And I'm here! There was never a doubt that I wouldn't be, as papillary thyroid carcinoma is rarely fatal; but that slight chance was always pecking at the back of my head. And I didn't think that Ian and I would be parents at my 5 year mark of Survivorship.

And here we are with a sweet 3 year old son and an adorable 15 month old waiting for us in Korea. Both boys are nothing short of a miracle.

And now I am approaching a new phase in my Survivorship. One that includes fewer doctor appointments. I had appointments with each of my new doctors here recently. I have met with them a few times (I had a scan last Fall, it was clean), but I knew I was approaching the point where we could lengthen the amount of time between appointments. It gets a bit tiresome to go in just for them to feel my neck, check my labs, and tell me to come back in 3 months. It's been going on for 5 years. I expected that point to be to be at the end of this year after my scan, so when my endocrinologist told me to call him in October to schedule my scan I just about fell off the chair.

"October?! That's like 8 months away!"

What am I going to do with all my free time?

Hmm...I think I'll be spending time with my boys and enjoying being doctor free, even if it's just for 8 months.

Happy doctor-free Cancerversary to me!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Heeeeeeere's Sam!

Here Jack is once again sporting his hyong t-shirt, but this time with a little somethin' extra! Could he be any more proud to be a big brother? I think not!
And what happened to baby Jack...he does not appear to be anything but a big boy now!

Sam at 5 months (he is now 15 months), this is the picture we fell in love with!
Those serious eyes and chunky cheeks...
These next 2 are Sam at 6 months at almost 21 pounds...I have a feeling my boys will be sharing clothes (Jack is about 29 pounds and 3 years old).
And check out this mischievous smile. I think I am going to have my hands full with both of my boys! (Oh how I love saying that...)

We are hoping to receive some more recent pictures (and height/weight info) of Sam before we travel. But until then I just drool over the ones we have!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jack is a big brother!

We have had a VERY exciting few weeks in our household! Ian and I have been reviewing the information of a sweet little guy in Korea and are now knee-deep in adoption paperwork! We started the process last fall and planned to share our second adoption plans once we were waiting for a referral. Instead, we spotted a little guy on a waiting child list and fell in love. We requested his file in mid-January and had a couple doctors look over his file. Ian and I knew that this little guy was our second son and waiting for 3 long weeks to find out if Korea felt the same way.

On March 4th, I awoke thinking of Jack and this little guy. Would today be the day we find out? It was the 3rd anniversary of when we'd learned Jack would be our son and that was on my mind...how wonderful that evening was! I checked my email and saw I had an email from my contact at the agency (Children's Home Society and Children's Services):
We have the answer. He's yours! Yahoo!

I could barely talk I was so excited. And Ian was smiling ear to ear (which is a feat in itself). Jack is all about being a big brother and has been talking about all the things he can teach his little brother, Sam. We can't post pictures yet, but I can tell you he is a chunky and handsome 14 month old!

I have been waiting to post this exciting news until our families knew. We called my family later that week and made Jack's t-shirt (pictured) to tell Ian's family. The all arrived last Saturday and Carla was the first to notice Jack's hyong shirt (hyong means older brother of a boy in Korean). When Jack turned around, they all saw "I'm a big brother!" on the back. When the evening flight arrived, Jack was already in his pjs and ran out with Sam's picture to share. Everyone was shocked and thrilled at our news!

We hope to be traveling to Korea to bring Sam home in 9 - 13 weeks (late May to mid-June). We will keep you posted on the latest!

Friday, March 14, 2008

DHL


We received a VERY important package yesterday...
...details to follow

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Best of the Best of the Best

The last day that Jack and I were in Hawaii, Jen and I took the kids (2 three year olds and a 1 year old) out to lunch. If you ever done that you know it is quite an adventure! We ate at a fabulous little place on the ocean on Hickam AFB. We saw lots of airplanes and a big Navy ship, lots of fun for the kids!

I ordered food for me and the kids then Jen went up and ordered her food. While she was gone, the food I ordered was ready. I was going to wait until she was back so there wouldn't be 3 unattended children on the patio. Well, apparently I wasn't fast enough because a cook came out and called my number in a very stern voice. I told her I'd be in as soon as my friend returned, I had 3 kids with me.

Since the restaurant was on base, there were lots of military personnel there. Mostly Air Force and Army, with only one Marine. The Marine, who is all of about 20 years old, and likely has no children said, "I'll keep an eye on your kids, Ma'am."

I was floored by this. I was surrounded by older military personnel, a group of women, and a group of grandparent-y type people and it was the lone, young Leatherneck out of all of them that offered to help.

I don't think I have ever been more proud of the Marine Corps than I was at that moment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Aloha!

That's right, we're in Hawaii! And it sure is great to be visiting friends here on Oahu. Jack did incredible on the plane ride and has adjusted pretty well to the time change. It's only 2 hours so it's not too bad. I am enjoying having adult conversation after Jack goes to bed and Jack is enjoying playing with his Sophie! These pictures are from our visit to Dole Pineapple Plantation:
Our 3 year olds!
As Jack says, "This is me with the pineapple on a plant in the dirt. I have my map."
Jack and Sophie loved riding the Pineapple Express to see the pineapple fields

Jen told me the name of this mountain when I took the picture, but I promptly forgot. I will edit if I find out.

Pineapple plants; we were told that a great planter could plant about 10,000 pineapple plants a day! They use the top part of the pineapple.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Thank you, Ann Marie

When you are diagnosed with cancer, you feel so alone. You feel like there is no one out there that understands. You don't really know where to turn. I turned to the internet after my diagnosis and found a whole world of support that I didn't know existed before. My ThyCa group proved to be very useful for explain treatments, surgeries, lab results, what to expect, etc. But there was still all the emotions to deal with, and the listserv wasn't enough. Then I found help at the very school I was working in. I found Ann Marie.

Ann Marie was an angel on earth. We didn't talk until several months after my diagnosis (many people at school didn't even know that the new PE teacher had cancer), but she helped me through some of the most difficult emotions of cancer since she had been there already. Having cancer is tough enough, but having cancer in your early 20s brings a whole new set of problems. Ann Marie taught me it was okay to ask as many questions as you needed, and to question your doctors if you didn't agree with that they were doing. "You know your body better than anyone else, even better than your doctors."

She prayed for me and with me. Ann Marie knew what I was going through as a 20-something with cancer. I can remember us having long talks in the equipment room at JCMS, and always feeling empowered and ready to kick some cancer ass afterwards. She was so encouraging, uplifting, and supportive. I guess you could have called her my cancer Survivor Mentor. And in turn, I have taken what I have learned from her and passed it on to others.

Ann Marie passed away on February 1st. She had been battling colon cancer for a while. I cannot imagine the pain that her husband and small son are feeling. My heart breaks to know that cancer has taken another person from this earth. That she won't be able to encourage another young woman fighting cancer with her words, her smile, her jokes. She will be missed, she is already missed. But she will never be forgotten. I will continue to share the knowledge and strength she gave me with other Survivors. I will continue to remember the encouragement she gave me each time I had a check-up. I will pass along that same encouragement and wisdom she gave me.

Thank you, Ann Marie.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Random thoughts

Some random thoughts for this rainy weekend we had:
  • Vacuuming is waaaay fun to a 3 year old. Jack thought it was hysterical when I vacuumed his pants today, "More, Mommy, more!"
  • Planting flower bulbs is much more fun (and a little difficult) with a 3 year old boy! We planted Gladiolus, Calla Lilies, and Freesia along the sunny side of our house and in a large pot. Jack thought it was great to dig and bury the bulbs. Hopefully he won't dig them up now!
  • Who ever designed our housing is an idiot. Laundry room of Unit B next to only wall a bed can go on in master bedroom of Unit A (ours) = BAD IDEA.
  • Skype should be available to all deployed service members and their families. Jack has loved listening and seeing Ian read books to him every evening.
  • There are few things better than your son crawling on your lap, wrapping his arms around your neck, and whispering into your ear, "I love you, Mommy. Very much."