Thursday, July 14, 2011

Learning Hangul

Patrick and I are still patiently waiting (not that we've really been waiting for long yet).  I taught summer school this June, partially for the distraction, partially for the pay.  From what I've heard from the principal, many of my students did well on the end of course test (I haven't gotten all of the results yet).  We have both decided to start learning Korean, which has been a very interesting pursuit indeed.  We've pretty much mastered the sounds of the alphabet and writing in syllable blocks, but increasing our vocabulary is definitely a challenge!  Rosetta Stone helps, but can be really confusing sometimes, especially with numbers.  It's also really funny that the first 3 times Patrick and I tried to translate his name into Hangul, we came up with 4 different spellings - we had to enlist the help of a friend (a native Korean speaker) for that!  I wish I could get my computer to allow me to type in Hangul for practice, but I don't have the correct word processor for it.  We've been ordering books in Hangul, too - for reading practice, of course. Some of the books we've found in Korean have really funny translations for the titles.  One of the employees at a Korean bookstore we visited was shocked to learn that we knew enough Hangul to pronounce and translate the titles of the books we'd purchased.  We have a long, long, long way to go with it though.  I still have to sit down with a dictionary even to read very simple children's books.  The meetup lessons on Buford Hwy have been really helpful, for the most part, even though they tend to concentrate only on pronunciation, and less on learning new words.  We filed our I-600A in June, and were fingerprinted in July, and are awaiting our approval on that front.  Still prayerfully hoping to be matched with our baby soon. We still say prayers every night for the safety and peace of our baby, and his/her first family.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Update

The pollen is out in force, and the days of tissues, red noses, coughing and sneezing are here for most people.  Patrick and I are normally spared this icky-ness, as we are not allegeric to pollen.  Somehow, though, this year is different.  We are both under the weather, and have a new-found appreciation for those that deal with the runny nose and clogged sinuses every spring. I was home from work yesterday, not feeling well at all, and I saw a commercial for Korean language software.  Patrick and I had discussed purchasing this multiple times, and wanted to, except for the expense.  His parents recently purchased Japanese software so that they could learn enough to communicate with Lee's wife. Anyway, I called the 800 number for the company and, since they were running a very nice special price (much, MUCH lower than I'd seen in stores), I was able to purchase the software - hopefully we will know at least some of the language by the time we travel over to South Korea!  We are already exeperimenting with types of Korean cuisine...Patrick really loves the sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds that accompany many of the dishes.  I love the white kim chi (the red doesn't agree with my stomach).  We made bulgogi beef and bibimbap not long ago, and it was delicious!  I really wish I had the traditional stone bowls to serve the bibimbap in, though. I may check for them next time I go to the Asian market up in Buford. 

On the bright side of everything, too, is that Easter is almsot here!  It seems a bit late this year; it is traditionally one of my favorite times (though Thanksgiving is my all-time fav).  We are going to Gannie's house for lunch with the family; I hope they hide eggs for the little kids to find.  We used to have so much fun with that when my cousins and I were little.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weary Wednesday

Wow.  We are soooo tired from the last week.  It is a standardized testing week for both of our schools, and those involve a lot of preparation and constant observation of the children, though I have only a small group this year.  Smokey the pony had a second minor surgery on her infected sinus.  We've been helping her fight this infection for 8 months now.  The veterinary surgeon placed a catheter in her sinus cavity that has to be flushed twice a day.  Smokey's not such a big fan of having this done....and it's very difficult to tell a horse to stand still and behave when they don't want to!  Still, we are doing very well with the treatment, and are hoping that this proves to be the ticket to heal her.  Her neurological symptoms seem to be improving, but the runny nose is as bad as ever.  She's such a good pet, and we will keep working with her as long as we can.  Luckily, none of the other horses have any sign of illness; we were told that this type of infection in a horse is very rare.  The waking at 5 AM to drive to the barn is wearing me down a little, but Patrick has been an amazing help.  Luckily, Allie the foster kitten is now 4 weeks old and has been weaned to kitten food.  She will go back to the animal shelter for adoption in 2 more weeks or so.  It's hard to believe that we've cared for her for 3 weeks already! I know my students miss seeing her at school, but they are always looking forward to seeing other foster kittens.

Adoption news: we received a letter today saying that our homestudy packet was sent to South Korea this morning!  The letter had several suggestions on how to pass the wait time; some of them look like a lot of fun (such as starting a life book for the baby).  I have to hurry up and finish this master's degree first, though!  Each time I get communication from the adoption agency, telling us we are one step closer to our baby, my heart jumps for joy!  Patrick and I are hoping to purchase language software so that we can learn Korean.  It will have to wait for summer, though - we are really busy finishing out the school year.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earth Quake; Home Study News

We woke this morning to the news of the earthquake in Japan.  We were really concerned about Lee, my husband's brother, who lives there, and neither Patrick nor his parents were able to get a hold of him on the phone.  I was a little frightened looking at the pictures of the devastation, until my father in law reminded me that on the map, Toyama is quite a ways away from the epicenter.  We heard from Lee at around 12 PM today, and, thankfully, he is fine.  He did say that they definitely felt quite a bit of shaking from the earthquake, and that there was minor damage in various places; we are also very thankful that he is not near any of the nuclear plants that were having trouble.

Yesterday, we received a draft of our homestudy from the adoption agency.  Whoo Hoo!  They will be forwarding to South Korea at the end of the month (March), so it should get there by the first of April.  After hitting all of the speed bumps and delays, I finally feel like we are on track again.  Patrick and I are going to a local Korean restaurant tonight to celebrate.  I am also going to use some free time tomorrow to upload some items for sale on eBay; I've been meaning to for almost a month now!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Random Ramblings During the Rainstorm

It has been a calm few days, except for the minor food fights that we've had at school.  We don't really have any new adoption news at this point; we are just quietly waiting, going to work, and I'm working on the master's degree.  Pretty boring right now, though our horses definitely have a sense of humor with all of this rain our town has had recently...they've been running as fast as they can and sliding to a stop in the mud, slinging water and mud everywhere.  They are really muddy and gross afterward, but it is fun to watch them play.  We've had our hands full with muddy doggie paws, too, but at least we have a baby gate now to keep the dogs on the linoleum on their way to the garage.  Right now, Z (the fat kitty) is attempting to stuff his 14 pound behind into a tiny cardboard box (8 x 12 x 2 inches), and Tai (the nutty siamese) is chasing marshmellows.  Yes, marshmellows.  If you've never tried it - cats LOVE chasing them, and the candy not only bounces at fun angles, it is easy for them to pick up with their claws.  It's really cheap entertainment (have you SEEN the price of cat toys??), and harmless to the cats, floor and furniture - my cats love them almost as much as the paper grocery bags that I bring home from the market. I will have to hold off on them when the baby gets home until he/she is old enough not to put something like that in his/her mouth. I wish I could find dog toys this easily and cheaply!  Toby the wonder dog is especially rough on his (and he's more playful than the other two, as he's considerably younger), and they don't last long (except for the Kong toys, but they are expensive).  It is almost warm enough to shave Toby and Bear, which will definitely help cut down on the mud and dirt they are do fond of...thankfully Rocky's not only short-haired, he's fastidiously clean.  Smokey the horse is still sick, and we are waiting for her test results to come back from the university so that the vet can treat her appropriately.  We're still crossing our fingers that the infection is a tooth root, and not something more serious.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Waiting Game

I love the fact that we've finally made it to one of the waiting periods.  I know that sounds funny..but it is a relief to not have to worry about getting stacks of paperwork sent off!  This part (the quiet part) won't last long...we will begin filing our I-600A (petition to adopt an orphan) as soon as we receive the final copies of our homestudy...this means we get to be fingerprinted - again (fourth time).  The good news is that I have really begun to develop a sense of patience and a strong sense of inner peace that has eluded me for some time.  I am definitely trying to take what time I have to finish my master's degree and really take better care of both Patrick and I - poor guy has the virus that I had last week.  Our homestudy, which was supposed to be sent to South Korea on the first of March will actually be sent on the first of April.  Let the praying continue that Patrick and I receive the baby that God has intended for us and that the baby's first family be granted health and peace in their time of loss.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Book

The day I received the book, A Love Like No Other in the mail, I sat down to browse some of the stories, and really got caught up in them.  The format of the book is that individual writers each contributed one chapter.  They are all from adoptive families, and many are nontraditional in make-up.  The families themselves are very diverse in every conceiveable way.  I loved the forthrightness of all of the authors, telling the good and the bad.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is either interested in adopting or who is open minded and curious about learning about the types of families that do adopt.  I am learning that on this journey, while Patrick and I will get a family and children that we will love, we will be facing many challenges that biological parents don't face, from the more miniscule school 'family tree' assignments, to the weighty issues of racism and anti-immigration feelings that seem to be on the rise right now.  Sometimes, I am feeling ready to take any of these head-on, sometimes, like today, I feel intimidated, even though I know we will make it through.

I am also VERY concerned about our adoption progress.  We thought that our homestudy would be sent to S. Korea on the first of the month, but it won't be.  Arg!  I need to figure out how to relax!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Adoptive Families

Our social worker recommended a magazine called "Adoptive Families".  We received our first issue today, and it was like getting treasure in the mailbox!  It has a little bit of everything, but I especially appreciated the frank discussion of the challenges that multicultural and interracial families sometimes face.  I only recently became aware of how some of my own Asian students felt about being stereotyped...even when the stereotype is positive.  There are some more books that were recommended for reading that I may try to find.  The articles on easing tranisitions back to work were also helpful, and helped some of the anxiety that I have felt about going to work after the adoption.  I really don't want to have to leave my baby in someone else's care (even though it is still excellent care), but I also don't want to give up my role as a teacher...it's too important to me.  Yet, at the same time, I want to do what's best for my baby's well being and I want to make the transition and bonding processes go as smoothly as possible both short and long term.  Hearing/reading good, sound advice from adoptive parents who have experienced the same emotions is really soothing and helpful - especially from someone like me, who worries!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Paperwork Progress & Spaghetti Squash

Patrick and I are very happy to say that we once again met the challenges of the adoption process and have turned in the mountain of paperwork that the agency requested on Friday.  With the help of our family, friends, and God we tracked down and put together a packet that exceeded forty documents, though this package weighed only 3 pounds when we were done (as opposed to the 6 pound package that we turned in a few weeks ago).  We did spend the extra little bit to overnight the paperwork, in an effort to keep us on track for sending our info to Korea in March, though it doesn't look like we are going to get out until April now.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.  One of our ponies, Smokey, is having problems and will likely have minor surgery Friday to correct some issues.  We are hoping that the vet to whom we were referred (the third that we've seen for her since October) will have some new insight and treatment ideas.  She's been on quite a litany of medications since she became ill, poor girl.

I am now reading A Love Like No Other, a collection of adoption stories, and I will be blogging about it soon.

On a completely unrelated and very random side-note, we have re-discovered spaghetti squash.  Holy Moly!  After the initial sticker shock (I didn't realize that I had a 6 lb squash @ $1.99/lb), I became unusually excited about preparing this humble veggie.  I roasted it yesterday, though we practically needed a chainsaw to cut through the rind, and it came out perfectly!  Pleasant little spaghetti-like strings of squashy goodness!  Yes, I know that last detail is a sentence fragement, but, back to the point, I made some of my marinara with chicken sausage and my little secret...firm tofu (he he!)...to go with it tonight.  Eating it made my mouth and stomach sing for joy.  Before I'd finished more than a few bites, I turned to Patrick to remark on how delightful I deemed the dish...only to see him hork down his last bite and threaten to lick the plate clean!  What a hit!  We have leftovers for lunch, and I am going to use another good bit of the squash in a stir-fry tomorrow...hopefully it will, once again, be so delightful that I cannot help but blog about such silliness!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paper work Fatigue

I think there really does come a time when we get so tired of paper work, we just can't stand it!  I have written 3 papers in 4 days for my master's program, on top of trying to get this last (unexpected) packet ready to be overnighted to the adoption agency tomorrow.  Whew!  Not bad work for 3 days' time!  I am seriously considering taking a half day off soon for personal time, but I really don't want to do that when I know I will need the days off with our baby.  I think maybe some long naps and evenings to relax may be just what the doctor ordered!  Hopefully, this week will be restful and quiet, even at work, so that I can get myself geared up to keep up the good work!  I feel fairly superhuman when I look at the sheer quantity of tasks Patrick and I've completed in the last few days - all with the help of our WONDERFUL family!!

I am also really worried about Smokey, one of our horses.  She's been sick for a while, and we've been to 3 vets and tried multiple treatments over the last 6 months to no avail.  She's not worse - thankfully - but she's not better, either.  She will see a fourth vet (a surgeon) this Friday to see if he can help ease her pain and cure her illness.  Otherwise, she'll have to either go to the hospital in Jersey (GA) or to the UGA veterinary hospital.  Hopefully, she'll be better soon.  She's been through so very much in her short lifetime! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Speed Bumps

Well, we've hit some turbulence on our little adoption venture, here.  I received an email on Friday from the adoption agency that bascially said - hey, wait a minute - we're missing a WHOLE BUNCH of information from you.  The information, mostly repetitive, was a list of approximately 40 documents, including things like a bajillion letters of reference, letters of employment, rabies certificates for our pets, copies of our driver's licenses, etc, etc.

Oops.
Our information was supposed to be sent to South Korea on March 1.

We are definitely not going to make that day.
Anyway, we've been paper chasing for a little more than 24 hours now, and are VERY grateful to our employers, friends and family for their help writing letters and helping us out.  This will get done, and very quickly, too. We should have everything done on our end by Tuesday so that we can overnight it to the agency.  We hope that this won't slow us down too much!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kind Gestures

Wow. A very wonderful teacher friend of mine, who is retiring soon, has volunteered to substitute teach my classes for me when our wait for our baby is over...what an amazing gesture.  I was really happy, and it was a load off of my mind that my students, who are gifted, will have an even better teacher than I am while I am gone.  I was really worried about who would be working with them when I was gone...many substitute teachers are not qualified to teach high school level math, and those that can are in high demand.

THEN, one of my professors at WGU was a huge help to me with a project/task that I have been struggling to edit.  Yay!  This is one more class finished, so I'm still heading in the right direction for my master's degree.  I am hoping to finish before the end of 2011, preferably before little baby makes three in our household.

I can't believe I went all  crazy yesterday wondering and worrying about that last package of information getting to the social worker, when I realized in the middle of the night last night - I had gotten an email from the adoption agency asking a very specific question about the paperwork they had just received from me.  DUH!  I don't know why I didn't realize that they must have had the info...I have GOT to learn to relax and stop being so silly!  Part of it, I'll admit, is a twinge of jealousy.  Three of my friends have recently delievered baby boys (two of the babies came this week!) - I am so proud of them, though.  They deserve every happiness in the world, and I am so glad that they have been blessed with beautiful, healthy babies.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No News

At the risk of sounding like a pirate, ARG!  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am impatient!  We are waiting to hear that our last set of documents have has arrived safely at the adoption agency, but no news.  Perhaps I AM worried for absolutely nothing, but everything should have arrived yesterday...

I know I should calm down and relax, but I don't think I'll stop worrying about 'the paperwork' until we are matched with our baby, he/she comes home, and this adoption is finalized.  I just want everything to go to Korea on time, so that we will get our little one sooner.
I think it's time to go do some meditating.  At least I finished yet another paper for my master's degree...that's one more down...about a million more to go...but a great distraction nonetheless.  I have also ordered a new book on adoption journeys, and can't wait for it to get here!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Book/ New Projects

I just finished reading a book called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.  I really enjoyed reading about his experiences with adoption, as well as his Christian viewpoints on various aspects of adoption.  He and his wife adopted 2 sons from Russia simultaneously, and, later, had 2 biological sons. For me, his book was a breath of fresh air and a reminder that, ultimately, God is in control.  While I don't think adoption is for everyone, I appreciate his comments about the impact that infertility can have, and thoroughly respect his ideas about IVF, though we know many wonderful families have been created this way.  We turned down IVF for the same reasons that he and his wife rejected the procedure - we knew that it simply wasn't what God wanted for our family.

On another note, I have begun some more projects for the baby; a latch hook wall-hanging of Winnie the Pooh (I have a serious crush on that silly bear!) and a new afghan blanket.  Patrick is also teasing me about my new yellow duckie obsession :), (I really might decorate our hall bathroom with ducks!), especially in light of the fact that I am petrified of birds.

We sent off the remainder of the paperwork that was required, and everything should be set to go to Korea on March 1st. 

Now I'm just trying to work on my Master's degree so that it will be done when I become a mommy.  This is easier said than done, even though taking Calculus 3 online is a great distraction!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shopping

I couldn't help myself.  I was in the bookstore near my home yesterday, and they had quite a display of VeggieTales videos.  I gave in to temptation and bought Pistachio and preordered The Night Before Easter.  I know I should wait until the baby gets here before shopping, but sometimes, it just can't be helped!  I know the wait will be over before I know it, but I get so excited that it's difficult to be my normal methodical and common sense self!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bricks

I read again recently a quote by Randy Pausch, the author of the book The Last Lecture: "The brick walls are not there to keep us out.  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough."

Wow.

This really rings true for me.  When it comes to the adoption process, and all of the hoops to jump through and the paperwork involved, sometimes it feels like we are trying to walk through a brick wall.  Really, though, every piece we do helps us remove bricks one at a time, until they are gone, and we receive the baby we've set out to love and parent.  What a hopeful insight to instill some brightness into the waiting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Home Study Paperwork

Now that we have finished our home study, I finally feel like an expectant mom.  It was such a HUGE step to get that part of the work behind us - although I just found out that we will have to be fingerprinted for a 4th time when filing immigration paperwork for the baby.  I am still in disbelief that the GBI lost our fingerprints (we had to have them redone).  The good news is that when we decide that our first baby is ready for a sibling, we will be able to update our homestudy, instead of starting over.  We are currently working on some more mundane paperwork, and, of course, deciding on pictures :) !  The current set of paperwork will probably be sent back to the agency in a day or two, at which point we have been advised to start working on our I-600A (immigration paperwork).  I am working (well, trying to finish) my master's degree during the wait for the baby's referral; so at least I have more distractions.  I keep thinking about and wondering about our future baby.  It's possible that the baby has already been born, even.  I was joking around earlier about how at least pregnant women know about how long they will have to wait to become a mom!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words

How many times have we all heard this saying?  I love it, but right now,  it's making for a difficult task.  We have been asked to compile 6-8 photographs that represent our lives.  These will be pictures that may be shown to birthparents, foster parents, and may even be the first images that our baby will see of us, our home, and our family!  It's silly, really, I guess, to worry so much about them, especially when we have completed the 'heap big pile' of papers called a home study.  We have come so far: from the grouchy fingerprinter at the county police department that made me cry, to the frantic dusting and vacuuming that I couldn't be talked out of before the home visit, to the late nights trying to figure out exactly what in the world to name the baby that won't remind us (or my in-laws) of a mischievous student!  What pictures do I send?  I canNOT send the ones of Patrick still in full mustache...though they are hilarious; and I abhor 99% of the pictures of myself.  I was able to get some really cute ones of the front of the house and of the baby's nursery, at least.  I definitely want to get one of Patrick, his parents, and I at church.  I'd love to get one of my mother and I, but she dislikes pictures as much as I do!  Our school portraits are really nice this year, and I have considered sending them.  We'll see.  I can't wait to send off this final packet.  Everything is supposed to be sent to South Korea on the first of March.  Hopefully, we will get a referral quickly after that!