Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday {Optimus Prime}

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Slide (aka The Heart Attack}

My dad has been talking about adding a slide to the pool for quite some time and now that all eight grandkids will be back in Texas this summer, he took the plunge and bought one! And as usual, whenever he has work done on the pool, he goes out of town leaving me in charge and I never have any clue about what's going on. :0)

I'll be honest, I'm a little worried about it. My dad said he bought the six foot, but the invoice that I paid today (well, it was his check I wrote out :)) said eight and it's high. High. It's not completely finished being installed, but the 'pool guy' aka Walker, Texas Ranger (his real name is just Walker) said it would be fine to let the kids go down. Braedan loves it, but it gives me a mini heart attack every time he climbs up that ladder and then comes down the very fast, very tall, slide.

We've realized now that Zoey will probably not be able to handle it on her own quite yet, the few times we walked her up then let her slide down on her own with someone catching her at the bottom, she hit her head on the side. It's pretty steep too, and she's awfully tiny, and I'm deathly afraid of heights, so combine all that and it's gonna give me a heart attack! But she's fearless, so she gave it a try and prefers to go down on Daddy's lap rather than by herself. Thank goodness for that.

I'm not gonna lie though, I tried it and it. was. awesome. Super fast and fun! I'm just trying to figure out how I can pad all the concrete around it with foam...:0)

Here's my big boy enjoying the new slide while his little sister takes a little float.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Stud Muffin and the Super Model.

You decide which one's which. :0)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Facts Friday {Ae Ran Won}

Ae Ran Won is a not-for-profit organization in Seoul, South Korea, that supports Korean women who are unmarried and pregnant and in need of help. Ae Ran Won has grown from a single maternity home and now also helps, in separate facilities, women who are raising their children alone, women who may have placed their babies for adoption but need further support, and women who live nearby but need a safe and nurturing place to help adjust to their new lives.

Ae Ran Won has two logos. In the following logo, a mother and her baby complete their preparation for self-support and good parenting. Together they are ready to journey towards a better tomorrow.

And in this second logo, for Ae Ran Seumter, the two birds represent mothers who have sent their babies away, and now work to overcome their immense pain. In time, they develop the life skills needed to help them fly toward the futures of their own choosing.

Ae Ran Won was established as House of Grace, on April 1, 1960. It began as a home for runaway girls and prostitutes. Its founder, Eleanor E. Vanlierop, was an American Presbyterian missionary who saw a need to help these young women. It was run independently by Mrs. Vanlierop, and the program was supported entirely by fundraising. Mrs. Vanlierop drew upon the love of Christ as she served unmarried pregnant women who were in need of a loving and nurturing environment during pregnancy and beyond.

In 1977, when Mrs. Vanlierop had retired and gone back to the United States, she turned the program over to the Social Welfare Foundation of the Presbyterian Church of Korea. In her honor, House of Grace was renamed Ae Ran Won. Ae Ran, which means “planting love,” was Mrs. Vanlierop’s Korean name.

In 1983, Ae Ran Won was recognized for its work by the Korean government and began to receive some official financial support.

Many changes and much progress have occurred over the years. In 2000, the Ae Ran Mother and Baby’s Home opened, designed to support unwed mothers who wanted to keep their babies. Ae Ran Seumter opened in 2001. This group home serves adolescent mothers who have placed their babies for adoption but cannot return to their homes because of family abuse.

More recent developments demonstrate that the mission of Ae Ran Won has expanded beyond its own facilities. Begun in 2006, the Happy Mom Project, a support center for unwed single mothers who are not in one of the maternity homes, helps these mother and their babies grow in self-reliance. In November of 2008 the Happy Mom Project led to the opening of the Me.You.Us. Support Center for unwed mothers and their children who live in the local community.

Ae Ran Self-Supporting Home opened in July, 2008. Even though mothers get a job after finishing a job training course, they cannot return to mainstream society because renting a room is too expensive, and it’s beyond their means in Seoul. So Ae Ran Won provides them free housing to complete their settlement in this society.

Our philosophy is to provide services that address:
• physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs
• decision-making about whether to parent or to place a baby for adoption; the decision to give up their babies must not be based on financial problems
• achieving self-reliance for their stable lives by first graduating from high school (or getting the equivalent degree), and then getting an employment license after finishing a job training course.

Announcement coming soon about how I personally hope to help in some way at Ae Ran Won.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A little behind.

So I've been a little behind on my blogging this week...I've been meaning to post the recipe to a Korean Fried Rice I made on Father's Day, as well as my second attempt at making kimchi which was FABULOUS!! Makes my mouth water right now just thinkin' about it! I even missed Wordless Wednesday yesterday! But it's because I've been a little busy working on some new projects for my Etsy store and haven't had the time to be be bloggerific. :0) You like that new word I just made up?!

And let's face it. That rattle snake gave us all quite a rattle and we're still recovering! Every single time I walk outside or let the dogs out, I stare long and hard at that corner of the yard for several seconds before moving! Still gives me shudders just thinking about it!!

So, let's play a little game in the meantime...I'm debuting a brand new item in the store for boys. Yay! I'll give you some of the "nick-names" I've come up with for this particular product to be listed as. I'll give you a couple of those names and you leave a comment trying to guess what the new product might be. Whoever can guess it, (or at least come close, or the one I find most hilarious!), will win one of these fabulous new items! Wanna play?!?!? Okay, here goes:

Holy Guacamole!
Surf's Up!
Seoul Man
Do the Polka
Real Men Wear Pink

This is either going to be really easy, really funny, or a big fat disaster! Can't wait to hear what you think!

So leave a comment and make your guess at the new item! :0) (And if you don't have a boy or a boy in your life you could gift this item too, guess anyway! I just may have a little something for your girl too!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Don't mess with Texas.

And here's why.

We were coming in from swimming this evening and my dad's dog Oliver was finding something particularly interesting in the corner of my yard by the kid's playscape. We have a bit of a gap in our fence at the ground in that area, but so far, we've had a family of wild rabbits, and then a litter of kittens. My mom kept warning me to put a rattle snake barrier up (basically just metal landscape edging at the bottom of the fence), but I figured with rabbits and kittens being the worst of it, it wasn't a huge deal. Needless to say, it will be going up this weekend! My kids are outside all the time and we have a bit of a rattle snake problem in our neighborhood. Our house backs up to a green belt of sorts but again, with kittens and rabbits as the usual visitors, not rattle snakes!

Here's what's left of the head once my dad got out the shovel! It literally opened and closed it mouth for minutes after his head was detached!! Oy! This is actually the second one my dad has killed since living here...there was a smaller one on his porch one morning, and unfortunately, that was no where near the kids or dogs.

This sucker was pretty darn big. About three feet. I'm so grateful it was not one of my kids that came upon it and I'm certainly glad that Oliver didn't get bit!

We actually live next to a high school that was built a few years back. Our city is developing and there is still alot of farm land. When the high school was being built, they brought in bull dozers and all kinds of machinery to push through the thick brush. Apparently, they came upon a huge den of rattle snakes. I'm talking hundreds. Hundreds. They had to shut down constuction for several weeks to clear the land of the snakes and make sure there were no more dens. Had I known this before we built this house, I might have reconsidered this neighborhood! Since we moved in, there have been a few dogs killed and one lady was bit by a baby rattle snake while gardening. She was okay after a two week stay in the ICU. Yah. This is my neighborhood.

This is the only way I like to see snakes. Rattle snakes at least. Dead. I'm gonna go take a valium.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Boy, aren't they a photogenic bunch! Braedan kept complaining that it was too bright outside, Danny was sweating from holding Zoey in this humidity (he's the one that chose to wear a long sleeved shirt!), and I was lucky Zoey was even looking at the camera in this shot, because she's not in any other one! But boy do I love them, and so thankful that my kids have such an awesome father! He is really hands on, always ready to play, and such a good example to them both. They (and I) are super lucky to have him!

And Happy Father's Day as well to my father-in-law even though I know he doesn't read this blog because I'm not sure he even knows how to log onto the internet, but I'm sure someone will pass the message along to him! :)

And to my dad, well, I'm definitely a daddy's girl. I could not say enough nice things about my dad. So I just won't say any of them. :) The quote that comes to mind when I think about my dad is

"A father is someone who carries pictures in his wallet where his money used to be."

We joked about this quote earlier as it's so true! But it actually means more to me than just giving his money...he's very proud and happy to be the head of our family and does a great job at it. His screen savers at school are photos of his grandchildren and he is the first to brag about each and every one of them. I love nothing more than to make him proud, so I hope I have. Happy Father's Dad!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Facts Friday {Some Korean Phrases}

While in Korea, it was Seon-Mi, Seon-Mi, Seon-Mi. I didn't start calling Zoey,well, Zoey, till several weeks after coming home. To be exact, it was Seon-mi-'ah' (pronounced Sun Mee Ahh), which I'm told is the way children are referred to in Korea as a sign of affection, by adding the 'ah' at the end. Because that was already her name, I just felt funny calling her Zoey while there! In fact, once home, my husband and son referred to her as Zoey and I wasn't convinced that was her name! So now, it has become habit. I probably call her Seon-Mi more than I call her Zoey. She still, of course, responds to it because I never really stopped calling her that. My dad still does it often too. We're lucky if the rest of the family can even pronounce it correctly! It is now legally her middle name, but we switch between both often!

I was picking up something the other day at our favorite Korean restaurant and as Zoey started to climb the rock wall around the fish pond, I looked over and said very sternly, "Seon-Mi ah!" The hostess asked in her broken English, "Oh, her name is Seon-Mi? Beautiful!" Then pointed to Braedan and asked, "And what his is name?" To which I replied, "Um....Braedan." "Oh." she said and politely bowed and walked away. I guess it was a little confusing to her as why one of my kids would have a very Korean name and the other not so much!

At our first meeting, Zoey's foster mother was sure to tell me that she likes being called "yeh-peu-dah" meaning beautiful or pretty. We used that phrase quite a bit in the beginning to assure her once home and she really responded well to it, as her foster mother called her that quite often. And let's face, she is pretty darn pretty. :)

My most memorable moment with that word comes from one of the many sleepless nights we had in the beginning after her homecoming when she grieved heavily at night. Amidst her screams, I would whisper in her ear, "Seon-Mi ah yehpeudah" over and over again till it finally calmed her down. Sometimes she would look at my face when I said it as she recognized the phrase, but not me. Over time, it became something she associated with me and would smile when I said it. We haven't used that one in a while, but it is definitely one that we'll remember.

There is no shortage of the word 'no' in our house. But the usual phrase here is "Seon-Mi ah, annio" or 'no'! Pronounced 'ahh-nee-yo'. I didn't realize I said this a lot until one day I was listening to the kids playing and watched as Zoey took a lego from Braedan to which he demanded, "Seon-Mi ah! Annio!" in his nearly perfect Korean! I did allow myself to giggle a bit before straightening out the situation. :)

As we enter and leave the Korean market, the workers who recognize us (we're there A LOT!) remember we don't speak Korean and will usually keep it simple. "Ahn-young-ha-seh-yo!" they will shout, or 'hello' (the formal way of saying it) as we walk in and we're sure to always thank them by saying "kamsamnida", or 'na-da' as Zoey will say on our way out.

I purchased a couple of CD's of Korean children's songs while there and from the beginning, we listened to them quite often. Mostly in the car to try and calm down the screaming rear facing baby who did. not. like. the. car. at. all. for. months! It became a habit and to this day, when she gets fussy in the car, you just blare that CD and she is silent as a mouse. It doesn't work anywhere else. Trust me, I've tried. :)

I would love nothing more than to wake up one morning and start speaking fluent Korean! But since that's not going to happen, in the meantime, we'll just keep on keepin' on with our few little phrases around here!

Here are some other fun words and phrases to learn and use:
Goodbye = annyeonghi gaseyo
Cooked Rice (or meal) = pap
Water = mool
I love you (informal) = saranghaeyo
Mom = um-ma
Dad = ah-pah
Older Sister/Close Older Female (for a girl) = Unni
Older Sister/Close Older Female (for a boy) = Noona
Older Brother/Close Older Male (for a girl) = Oppa
Older Brother/Close Older Male (for a boy) = Hyung
Grandma/old lady - hal-muh-nee
Grandpa/old man - ha-da-buh-jee / ha-ra-buh-jee
Aunt/Close, Much Older Female (mom's side) - ee-mo
Uncle/Close, Much Older Male (both sides) - sam-chon
Aunt (dad's side) - gho-mo
Uncle (dad's side) - gho-mo-boo
Yes = yeh/neh
Puppy = gang-ah-jee
Tiger = ho-rang-ee
Cow = soh
Cat = goh-yang-ee
Rabbit = toh-gi
Elephant = ko-gee-ree
Monkey = won-soong-ee
Dog = gae

And yes, there will be a quiz later. :)

Edit!!! 6/19 I cannot believe I forgot THE most used Korean phrase in our home! "Hajima!", which means 'don't do it, or don't do that'! We use that one all. the. time! Zoey knows exactly what it means and hears it very often!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Wish for You a Beautiful Life. {Book Review and Thoughts}

I recently read this book and couldn't put it down. I also couldn't stop the tears from flowing and feeling a sense of closeness to each and every one of these birth mother's stories. I got completely lost in their words as if they were speaking directly to me. And to be perfectly honest, I flipped to the next letter with such excitement to try and recognize any details of my own adoption in case one of these anonymous letters were written to me. They were not, but still so important to read and still have quite an impact.

The letters were written by women temporarily residing at Ae Ran Won, a home for unwed mothers in Seoul, Korea, to their child. Mrs. Han Sang-soon, Director of Ae Ran Won, made these letters available for publication so that people outside of Korea might better understand the difficult situations of birth mothers.

What I found most interesting about this book was that each and every letter portrayed the guilt and anguish these birth mother's felt, referring to giving up their child for adoption as "sin". Thinking that they weren't deserving of forgiveness by their child.

That breaks my heart.

There was a brief time in high school that I struggled with the thought of my birth mother abandoning me. I was left at the gate of an all boy's orphanage very late at night. But I'm not sure that I ever thought she had committed a sin. The more I understand and learn about the Korean culture though, and how they view unwed mothers, I can see why birth mothers would feel this way. And I can also understand a little more about why I was abandoned, assuming, of course, that my birth mother was not married.

Feeling like they and only they had done something so unforgivable, they weren't deserving of the love of their child. Yet most express a wish to one day meet their child again and have a relationship. It's unfortunate that most of the fathers decide to walk away, especially when the birth mother's refused to terminate the pregnancy. Many of them considered this, as they believed it was their only way out and pressure from outside sources was weighing down heavily on them. But none of the women in this book made that choice, and all express that they couldn't go through with it once they heard the heartbeat of the life they had inside of them.

The greatest message that I took from this book though was the fact that these mothers will never forget, even though most of them were able to move forward in their lives after giving a child up for adoption. I believe we could fill the ocean with the tears these women have shed and it gives me great comfort to know that there are two women in my life, though I do not directly know them, that will never forget two little girls who were given up. While they wish for us a beautiful life, I wish for them the same. I wish for peace and happiness in their lives amidst the pain they had to endure.

As I read letter after letter, I longed more and more to have a letter of my own.

On that cold February night in 1982 when I was left at that gate, there was a short note at my side. My parents were given a rough translation upon my adoption, but never had the note translated directly onto paper for my reading. I have always known the note existed, but never thought it contained more than just my birth date and family name. In fact, I had never even looked at it until I was preparing to adopt. While in Korea, the social worker at Eastern had also roughly translated it but not in great detail and in very rough and un-orderly English. Half way through this book, I was inspired to have it translated. I was shocked to see what had been written. Though short in length, it read like a thousand words. I have not yet decided on whether to share it's contents publicly, but I can assure you that it brought great comfort to me yet great heartache for my birth mother, who I assume was the author. While very personal, I believe that in sharing it, it gives a voice to my own birth mother, who as of yet is unspoken for.

This book is not for the faint of heart, but in my opinion, a must read for all adoptive parents of children from Korea and Korean adoptees. Not recommended for children by it's author, I myself believe that I was not prepared to read this book until now, at 28 years old and having become an adoptive parent.

I am now reading the follow up book to this one, called Dreaming a World, recently published this year. I am half way through this second book, which focuses on why the birth mothers made their decision and the circumstances that surround it. I am stunned to read some of these women's stories.

Reading these books has inspired me to do more. The Korean government gives very little money, very reluctantly to help sustain this unwed mothers home, Ae Ran Won, one among I believe 40 homes throughout Korea. There is a great need for financial support at these homes that allow mothers to make the best decision for themselves and their unborn children, including scholarships and education to help them find good jobs to keep their babies if they so choose. Click here to read more about their efforts and browse their website. A project is already in the works for me, details to follow soon!

And might I just add that this post comes from me, as one adoptee. I do not intend to represent the entire population of Korean adoptees and am more than aware that not all of us feel the same way. My only intention of this post and book review is to give a little insight from my point of view and what adoption has brought to my life. I would love to hear your thoughts as an adoptive parent or another adoptee on this book that has changed my life and way of thinking.

This quote from the book seems to say it all...

I wish for you a beautiful life, with a beautiful face and a beautiful heart. Think of your life as precious, because you are a beautiful flower born out of pain. I cannot give you any help, but I will always pray for you...You will remain in my heart forever...I wish you a life with God always.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday {Swim Time!}

And now, it's time to pack it up and go inside...:)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shameless Plug.

I've been crocheting lately. A lot. Loving it. Feel like an 80 year old woman. But coming out with some cute stuff. Happen to have a model for all the cute stuff. Listing all the cute stuff in my Etsy store. Go buy some. :)

Click here to visit Lil' Birdz! (Mention you saw this post and I'll give ya free shipping!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

And the winner is...

Colleen!! Chosen by! Colleen, you won our 200th post giveaway and will receive a copy of Bee-Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park! Email me at to claim your prize! That was so fun, we'll have to do another giveaway soon!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Facts Friday {Korea's Unwed Mothers}

A little heavier and definitely longer than my normal posts, but a very important topic...

In 2007, 7,774 babies were born out of wedlock in South Korea, 1.6 percent of all births. (In the United States, nearly 40 percent of babies born in 2007 had unmarried mothers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.) Nearly 96 percent of unwed pregnant women in South Korea choose abortion, according to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.

Of unmarried women who give birth, about 70 percent are believed to give up their babies for adoption, according to a government-financed survey. In the United States, the figure is 1 percent, the Health and Human Services Department reports.

The government pays a monthly allowance of $85 per child to those who adopt children. It offers half that for single mothers of dependent children.

The government is trying to increase payments to help unwed mothers and to add more facilities to provide care for unmarried pregnant women. But the social stigma discourages women from coming forward.

Families whose unmarried daughters become pregnant sometimes move to conceal the pregnancy. Unwed mothers often lie about their marital status for fear they will be evicted by landlords and their children ostracized at school. Only about a quarter of South Koreans are willing to have a close relationship with an unwed mother as a coworker or neighbor, according to a recent survey by the government-financed Korean Women’s Development Institute.

I'm currently reading "I Wish for You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children" (book review to come in a later post!) and this theme of the social stigma of unwed mothers in Korea is very apparent in the words of these birth mothers. As I read these letters, there is a sense of desperation, unsure of what other choice they have. Many opt for their children to be adopted outside of Korea, for fear that if they are adopted domestically, and it is ever found out, the child may face severe scrutiny.

It's hard to imagine, living in a country where single motherhood is so common, that this social stigma is enough to force some of these woman into adoption. Many say that because they are disowned by their family, abandoned by their significant other, and have no other financial means of supporting themselves, because, most employers won't hire a single mother and many babysitters won't care for children of single parents, and there is little support from the government, they have no other choice but to give up their child.

It is clear that I wholeheartedly believe that adoption is the right choice in many cases. Even if the government did more and the culture was more accepting, it is not to say that some of these babies would still have been given up. But if these unwed mothers did not suffer from the ill effects of single parenthood within the Korean culture, how many children would be able to remain with their birth mothers?

It is clear that something needs to change. It is clear that even without the social stigma, clearly, some of these women could have made better choices that would not have ended with pregnancy. That's not to say that some of these women, however, could not control the circumstances in which they became pregnant.

I cannot possibly cover all of the issues here within this post. But what I can say is that it saddens me that more is not being done within the Korean culture to help support (not just financially, but emotionally too) mothers who find themselves facing single parenthood. Let me be clear that I greatly respect the Korean culture, as I myself am a part of it, and proud to be a Korean-American. I just wish that in this particular situation, there were better options.

As an a adoptee who lived with my birth family for the first month of life before being abandoned at an orphanage, I often wonder what circumstances they were under to make such a decision. I believe it was the right one in my case, as I believe I am where I am supposed to be, but after learning of this stigma that exists, I can't help but question the reasons behind it. Was she too poor to care for me? Did my father abandon her after he found out she pregnant? Was he married to someone else? Did she hide the pregnancy for fear her family would abandon her? Or did she know that keeping me and raising me on her own would cause great hardship in both our lives, so therefore, made the best decision for the both of us?

I will probably never know the answer to any of these questions. But I hope that one day, single mothers in Korea will have more of a voice, get more of the help and support they need, get to keep their family name, marry or re-marry if they wish, but more importantly, feel like they have the option to raise their baby by themselves if they so choose.

As talk still lingers that South Korea will soon shut their doors to international adoption, I can only hope and pray that something is done soon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Boys!

**Don't forget to enter my giveaway for my 200th post! Click here to read all about it and enter now!**

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WordFUL Wednesday!

Several days ago, Zoey decided she outgrew her baby float in the pool and wanted to venture out on her own. There's a step in our shallow end that she can stand up on, so we thought she'd be fine. Oh no! She had a plan of her own! She was literally jumping off the step into three foot high water and not looking back! We obviously had to watch her like a hawk as she would go under quick, but she would get right back up and push our hands away to do it all over again! So I did some shopping and lucky for me, she obliged by wearing her "big girl" floats! She. Was. Thrilled. She could do it all by herself and keep her head above water! I have NEVER seen a 23 month old child swim like she's swimming in this video! And don't be fooled! Those floats only do so much! She had to tread water and learn to adjust her body to keep herself upright! You can tell how excited I am by my "shrill" voice in the background. I've had better voice days. :) I would have cut out the sound, but her voice in it is just too cute! Watch out Amanda Beard!

**And after you watch the video, don't forget to enter my giveaway for my 200th post! Click here to read all about it and enter now!**

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

200th Post, Roll Call and a Giveaway! **ENDED**

Wow! I started this blog a little over a year ago to document my travel to Korea. And here we are at my 200th post! This blog has been such a great way to keep up with family and friends, share our families' story and spread the word about the blessing of adoption. So in honor of my 200th post, let's do a bit of a roll call and a giveaway!

Here's how you can be selected to receive a copy of Linda Sue Park’s book, Bee-Bim Bop!

Two easy steps:

*Scroll down and click on the FOLLOW link on the right hand side bar and follow along! (If you're already a follower, great, you're half way done!)

*Then, leave a comment on this post with your first name or initials and how you found our blog! And if you'd like to share your families' connection to ours (i.e. adoptive parents, adoptee, etc.) then do so as well in your post!

That's it! Even if this is your first time stopping by or your 200th, you can enter to win! One lucky winner will be randomly selected in the next few days, so be sure to stop back by to see who it is!

Winner announced here!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Day at the Park

Yesterday, we braved the heat and went out to our new favorite park in town. I thought I'd take advantage of them being outdoors and get a few new pictures of them together. They actually look they like each other in these pictures! In between, they were pushing and yelling at each other! They are fighting a lot lately! They're getting an early start! They really do love each other, but boy they drive each other crazy sometimes! I also took some pictures for my Etsy store, which is why Zoey's hair clip changes from picture to picture! I'm really not that fashionable that I would change her clip 10 times while at the park! :) Can you believe her hair is long enough to pull back in a ponytail like that?!?!?