Friday, January 02, 2009

Been a while...

Sigh. I'm terrible at keeping up with the blog. Absolutely terrible. Maybe I should try a resolution to post every day, excluding yesterday. ;)

Let's see, the big news is that Alex is all ours! We finalized his adoption on December 11th, and we're pretty thrilled with our early "present". I still can't believe how fast the whole process went for us - right around 16 months from first application to finalizing. Heck, a year ago, we didn't even know who Alex was, and now he's a legal member of our family. Can't believe the difference a year can make.

Andrew continues to impress us with everything he's learning in Kindergarten. He's been reading for a while, but he's really made great strides in learning phonics. He mostly relied on sight words up until this year. He's having a great year, and we're really pleased with the program we decided on. Truly a good fit for him.

Alex keeps us on our toes, most definitely. He's in perpetual motion, and shows a level of determination that surprises us all the time. I don't know if we just forgot what it was like to have a toddler in the house, or if this child is just into more stuff than Andrew was at this age. Who knows, but he really does have a sweet and outgoing personality.

Here's a photo of the little guys, one who isn't quite so little anymore. *sniff*

Thanks for peeking! :)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Home. Friday 4/4

Totally missed a day there - not surprising given that we're exhausted. We're all facing jet lag, but at least we're doing it together. We were all up around 4:00 this morning. I imagine tonight will be a long night, because Alex is sleeping hard right now, and has been for a couple of hours now. This is similar to what we saw when Andrew came home - naps the first day or so, then a really long "overnight" sleep. Except that it wasn't overnight. I think I remember things settling down a bit after that though, so we'll make it through. We all napped this afternoon, anyway.

No photos yet, because I haven't managed to unpack the connector cable. There's a bag of cords and cables in one of the suitcases, but there's also a lot of other stuff in the suitcases...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wednesday 4/2

Well, we'd planned for a quieter day today... We decided to make a repeat visit to Insa-Dong - a really cool area with lots of artisans. Pottery, embroidery, calligraphy, lacquer, stationery - all sorts of things. We picked up some gift there. ;) Here's a photo of the main street, from the bottom.
And from the top of the main street, near the map. Please notice the eyes of the small boy in the picture. It shows what was coming from him for the rest of the day...

After Insa-Dong, we walked down to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The main gate is under construction, so we missed that (and the appropriate entrance, but I don't suppose it matters). I believe this is the biggest of the palaces, and the structures and grounds were beautiful. It was raining today, so we didn't stay as long as we might have liked, or take as many photos. Still, it was neat. Here's the front entrance (but inside the gate that's being renovated):
We're not exactly sure, but there seemed to be a reenactment going on while we were there. So we got our photos taken in front of the traditional guards. I don't know if you get the full impact, but their costumes and hats (and weapons) are very detailed and quite beautiful.

After the palace, we headed over to the agency to meet up with Alex and his foster mother again. This time they left us alone with him, I presume to make sure he'd be okay if his foster mother wasn't right there. He did fine, but Andrew is having a little trouble. I suppose the reality of having to share us is finally hitting him. Tomorrow ought to be interesting.

This will be the last update from Korea - we leave tomorrow morning on the 10:50 flight out of Incheon Airport. We should be home by late afternoon - as a family of four. :)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesday, 4/1

Busy day today - I don't think any of us realized just how hard we went, or how far we walked until we got back to the hotel around 4. And couldn't move... I think it took Andrew all of 3 minutes to fall sound asleep, which is a sure sign that he's exhausted.

Fingers crossed, I think we're finally over the worst of the jet lag. Everyone slept until about 5:30 this morning, which isn't bad considering we fell asleep before 9 the night before.

Can you find the human here:

A little view from the back of our hotel - this is the way we sometimes walk to the subway station. It's also the way we usually come back. Down to the subway, up to the hotel. This is about half the hill - it's a bit too steep to get it all in one photo. It shouldn't be a surprise that our feet hurt, and our legs are getting quite the workout. :)
We made a visit to Deoksugung Palace today - it's the last palace that an emporer of Korea lived (and died) in. Our guidebook said that there was a changing of the guard ceremony every day, but we didn't see it. Ah well, it was lovely to visit anyway. There weren't many people around when we got there, so Andrew could run wild. (And he did.)

The throne room:

One of the fun stone fountains on the grounds:
The three of us, not in front of anything in particular:
After the palace, we walked down to the Kyobo bookstore. It's huge - and in the basement of an office building. It's really amazing how they fit things in here - there's all kinds of things like the bookstore in the basement, or little side streets. Heck, we find something new every time we walk to and from the subway, and it's only about a quarter mile away! Anyway, we shopped there for a bit, and had a nice lunch.

After lunch, we went to InsaDong - a cool artsy type market. Lots of pottery, embroidery, and lacquer work. Beautiful items. We picked up a number of souvenirs here. ;)

We meet Alex again tomorrow, and need to do a bit more shopping. We might fit in another palace as well (one that was closed today) - we'll see how we feel in the morning. Lots of packing to do too, as we leave fairly early on Thursday. Well, our flight leaves around 10:15, but we'll need to leave the agency by 7:30 to get to the airport (about an hour away). Not sure how long we'll need to be at the agency, so tomorrow we'll figure out what time we need to leave the hotel. Early-ish, though.

Thanks so much to everyone sharing our journey! :)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday, 3/31

Ah, Monday. :) We've been waiting for this - so it figures that we were all awake at 4:30 today. (Yes, we're very tired now, and it's only 7:30 in the evening.) So what would any good parent do? Why yes, ply their child with Korean Frosted flakes.
Because there's nothing better than a child who's tired because he woke up too early, and has had plenty of sugar! Really, Andrew was fine. Wonderful kid today, in situations that must have been tiring. Here we are, ready to go!

We expected to meet with Dr. Kim (the younger) at 11:00, and then meet our new son at 1:30. Turns out that we had a far longer day at the agency. We were early, due to misjudging the traffic between our hotel and the agency. Our taxi driver was also a bit of a maniac... Anyway, we got there and hung out for a while, then met with the folks that did Alex's passport/emigration paperwork. Hung out for a bit more, and then went upstairs for our meeting with Dr. Kim. That was interesting - bit of a crash course in Korean social culture. Most we knew from reading, some was new to us. At that meeting, we found out that we were invited to lunch at the agency. That was a nice surprise, considering that we didn't think that would happen. Lunch was right after our meeting, and was delicious. I'd be hard pressed to name everything, but the white kimchee was outstanding. Andrew liked that it wasn't spicy - we're working him up to the more potent stuff. ;) At lunch, we found out that we had a 1:00 meeting with Dr. Kim (the elder). This would be the 93 year old founder of the agency. An amazing man. It wasn't a long meeting, but he presented us with one of his books, and signed it. He also gave Andrew a fan, after writing the hangul word for happiness on it. (Everyone seemed so pleased to see Andrew - they truly adore the children they place for adoption, and appreciate getting the opportunity to see them grow.) Not long after that meeting, it was time to meet Alex!

Here's the little guy:
Yup. He's crawling. And pulling up. And he climbs. (That's different - Andrew wasn't a climber...) He's pretty zippy, actually. He's quite taken with Andrew, and followed him around (as Andrew played with every single toy in the room). We need to work with Andrew a bit, reminding him not to snatch toys away just before Alex picks them up, but it went well this afternoon. Alex is a tiny little thing - so don't be surprised if you see him in person. I think he's in 6 month sizes - but I'm guessing he's just barely in them. It doesn't seem to be stopping him though - it seems we'll have another little boy on the go. Heaven help us when they go different directions at the same time...

I'll leave you with our first picture as a family of four:

As we were getting ready to leave the agency, I was delivering a gift to the supervisor of child care, and we got a very happy surprise - Andrew's foster mother was coming in to meet us! It's a good thing we don't make it anywhere fast anymore, because we'd have missed her. It was wonderful to meet her, and she was delighted to see Andrew. I gather we had a miscommunication somewhere, because she wasn't expecting to see Andrew - just us. So it was nice surprises all around. She brought a ton of stuff to give Andrew, so I think we wound up leaving with more than we brought, even after we'd delivered all the gifts we'd brought for the Eastern staff. Ah well.

We'll get more time with Alex on Wednesday, and then go to the agency early on Thursday to pick him up before we head home. :) I'll probably update again on Wednesday morning (Korea) - or Tuesday evening for the folks following along at home.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday 3/30

Yep, I know it's Monday, just no real time to blog yesterday. We had a nice day, but kept busy. We're still facing jet lag, but it's getting better. I figure we'll be sleeping normally by Thursday when we have to leave.

We went to the Korean National Museum today - it's huge! Lots of space, and some really neat things to see. Tom took video, and Andrew wasn't in the best of moods, so there's not a whole lot to share in terms of photos. They had a neat Children's Museum too, that we all enjoyed. From the main museum - here's a (sideways) photo of the 10 story stone pagoda. I wish I could have captured the detail - it's beautiful.

Part of the children's museum - interactive style.

As a warrior:

The grounds around the museum were just lovely as well. I can imagine how beautiful it is with everything in bloom. It's still early, so the trees were just budding. (Probably easier on our allergies, though.)

Andrew had a great time running around, and there weren't all that many people outside. We took our time and let him run wild. (He crashed hard around 7 last night. I don't think he's used to us going so much.)

Can you find the boys?

Here's a view of the underside of that structure (I think it's a pagoda). I couldn't believe how bright and colorful it was. Oh, there's a bell in the middle. Tom has video of this as well, but I haven't seen it yet. And wonder of wonders, I forgot to bring the transfer cable for the camcorder.

That's all for now, I'll update again later after we visit the agency. We might visit a palace today as well, as the weather is supposed to be gorgeous. I'm guessing Andrew will need to burn off some energy after the formality of the stuff at the agency today... Us too, maybe. :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday 3/29

We didn't realize it when we made reservations, but our hotel is not far from where the Namdaemun Gate used to be. It was destroyed by an arsonist not long ago, unfortunately, and Korea really misses one of it's national treasures. We're disappointed that we weren't able to see it. Here's a photo of what it looked like - the building structure behind the photo is where the gate stood.

We made a visit to the aquarium today as well - one of the highlights was the unique objects that were used as fish tanks. See below...
Another tidbit of fun from that visit - the rays are really used to people. I'm guessing they're fed by hand, and usually from above. Just after I took the photo below, I reached out over the water to point one out to Andrew. Got a bit of a shock when the sucker jumped a little bit out of the water right at my hand! It was probably coincidence, but Andrew is likely to tell anyone who listens about the "stingray that tried to bite us". :)
About halfway through the aquarium walking tour, there's a little snack bar and play area for the kids. Ingenious idea, that one. We figured out the vending machines, and as you can see - it was a well needed break. It's lightly carbonated grape juice that Andrew has - although with his look, you can imagine something much different!

We're having a lovely time so far, although we took today pretty easy. We were back at the hotel fairly early and had a small nap before going to dinner. Hopefully we'll all sleep all the way through tonight, rather than having a little party around 2 am again. We plan to go to the Korean National Museum tomorrow - should be fun!