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!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hello from Korea!

We're here! :) Safe and sound, although we're all wide awake at 1:30 in the morning Korea time. Blasted jet lag. I know we should be sleeping, but it just doesn't seem possible right now. Hopefully we'll take a small nap later today and get back into a regular rhythm. Just in time to come home and be off (time-wise) again.

Our hotel is nice - downtown and fairly close to a number of sightseeing locations that we're interested in visiting. Not sure what we'll do later today, but we have a fair bit of time before anything opens. Tom is pretty much acting as our social planner on this trip.

We head over to Eastern Social Welfare Society on Monday morning, to meet with the head of the agency and then to meet our new son. Very exciting! I'm glad we have a weekend before we do that, because we'd be so far out of sync if it was today...

A few photos from the trip so far:
This was lunch - it was wonderful!
View from our hotel:
We're right near Seoul Tower - Tom keeps debating if we could hike it from here... I'm sure he and Andrew would do all right, but I'd probably have a tougher time. It's right up the side of a mountain - I'll get a photo later and upload it.

Anyway, the flight was long (about 14 hours), but not bad. I had a hard time sleeping, but Tom and Andrew managed some.

More to come later, probably...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And for something really fun...

We fly out tomorrow! :) There's just no way we'd have made it through the weekend, knowing that we could be in Seoul.

I can't get my mind to focus right now, but I may update later. :)

Travel Call!


We got the call - working on flight and hotel arrangements. More to come later today!

(SO beyond happy!)

Monday, March 24, 2008

And an update...

We have visa! :D Alex's visa issued today - best Monday news I've had in weeks.

So now we wait for the travel call. Could be tonight (very unlikely), could be next week. And there's not a darn thing we can check on, either. While the wait has been challenging, this is the really hard part, because we (I) jump every. single. time. the. phone. rings.

Last night we packed all the gifts we're taking to various folks - we filled one of our 3 suitcases, and it's heavy. We weighed it - less than the 50 pound limit, thank goodness, but I'm now nervous about the clothes we need to pack. We may need to buy another suitcase to separate things out. Mental note to check the airlines we're likely to travel to confirm that we're entitled to 2 suitcases apiece.

Well. Here we go!

Okay, not quite. But I figured I'd better do an update, given that I'm planning to refer folks here for an easy way to keep up-to-date on how the wait is going. :)

Let's see, last I posted, we were waiting for our pre-adoption class. Took that, and it was really very interesting and informative. Our homestudy went well, and we were all approved around Thanksgiving. We figured we were in for a lengthy wait - 6 to 8 months - before our referral came. Turns out, though, that things moved quickly... We got the referral for our second son on January 16. He sounds like a lovely little boy, and we cannot wait to meet him! Of course, this threw our planning off a little, and we've been pretty busy getting everything into order.

We're down to the last couple of steps - and they're all on the Korean side at this point. All our paperwork is at the Korean agency (as far as I know, and from what I've been told) and is ready to be returned to the American Embassy so that a visa interview can be scheduled. I don't believe it's a real "interview" - more of a scheduled time to have the paperwork completed and visa issued. After that - we just wait for our travel call! I'm really hoping to have more news this week, and perhaps travel next week. Ack!

Anyway, I thought the blog would be a nice place to write updates, and an easy way for folks to check in on our progress. Hope to post photos, even!