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The holiday decorations are up at Macy’s, it’s snowing, and the Shutterfly holdiay card promotion is here.

When you have family overseas, it’s never too early to start getting prepared for Christmas. As a matter of fact, I am already running behind. In light of the insane shipping costs these days, I opt for compact and lightweight gifts, and as a mom who thinks that her kid is just the most adorable thing in the world, I think that everyone should have a gift with Ben’s picture on it. Or maybe just the grandparents… Shutterfly has tons of great gift ideas to choose from. I am also thinking of choosing something small to send to Ben’s foster family.

I send a couple of Shutterfly photo books to my parents each year, and last year they received a calendar that they loved.

Last year we also ordered our Christmas cards through Shutterfly and we got many compliments on them. My only problem is that they have so many to choose from (y’all know that I don’t like to make decisions). I think I have narrowed it down to just a few though (after spending hours looking at the designs and playing around with some pictures I may use). Have you noticed that some of their sample pictures include adoptive families? I simply love seeing families like ours on those cards.

My current favorite is this one:

I have a picture of my cutie pie that will match the color scheme perfectly. Oh what has become of me….

A picture

If I were a parent by birth, I probably would have had about 250 pictures of my baby by the time he was a week old. As an adoptive parent, I counted myself lucky to have a handful of pictures of my son when he was approximately 4-5 months old. I never thought it would be possible for me to see what my son looked like soon after he was born, and then I lucked into a photo from when he was only weeks old.

This picture was in my inbox this morning and I have been staring at it on and off all day. It is unmistakable, this is my son. I feel lucky beyond words to have this photo. But I also felt something that I haven’t felt since Ben came home. When I was waiting for Ben to finally be ready for travel, I was aware that I was missing out on his life. Ever since he’s been home, I have been a little too busy to dwell on all the little moments I missed.

It only took one little picture to turn me into an emotional mess. All I can think of when I look at my sweet son is that I wish I had been able to be there and take care of him. He is so tiny and so innocent and by the time this picture was taken, he has probably already been through several caregivers. It simply breaks my heart.

Fall Fun with the Fab Four

I have mentioned more than once on this blog that I count myself extremly lucky that adoption didn’t just bring me my son, but also some amazing friends.

A few weekends ago, a group of us decided to test how much we actually like each other by going on a weekend trip together. We headed up North (West?) to spend 3 days at a lake house. Yes, that would be 8 adults, 4 toddlers, and 2 dogs in one house. Next time we may add 4 cats to the mix (just kidding). The forecast called for rain, but we got incredibly lucky and instead it was only extremly windy. We found out that the magic trick to make the wind die down is to have Ivana take out her magical kite.

Ben was SO excited about spending time with his friends, and everyone behaved really, really well. Considering they are two year olds, of course. Aren’t they cute?

It was so fun to see them interact and see their personalities come out so much more than during a two hour playdate.

The grown-ups had fun too even though the men somehow neglected their chores and insisted that their shopping list only included beer rather than the milk they’d been tasked to get.

Ben even slept in until 6:15 each morning, which meant that we only had two hours to kill before everyone else got up. Try keeping a toddler quiet for two hours. Yikes. Why does everyone else sleep that long?

According to Ben the highlight wasn’t the delicious food, or the campfire and smores, or playing in the leaves with his friends, but Miley the dog. While Ben started shrieking every time sweet Piper got near him, he ran after Miley all.day.long and gave him kisses and wanted to walk him (Me walk Miley).

I think it’s safe to say that the weekend was a huge success as we are making plans for next year.

Just a perfect day

“Oh it’s such a perfect day,
I’m glad I spent it with you.
Oh such a perfect day,
You just keep me hanging on”

Fall started out hot and rainy and yucky, and then quickly turned cold and rainy and yucky. I was pretty disappointed since I have been looking forward to fall ever since last fall ended.

Our yard was/is covered in mushrooms and outdoor playing was hindered by mushy ground and mosquitos and puddles.

But last week we finally started having perfect fall weather and I can’t even begin to put into words how much I love it!

Finally the air feels crisp, but it has been warm enough to spend plenty of time outside.

I have been feeling especially blessed that I get to spend my days at home with my little man and we are enjoying fall to the fullest. To top it off,  Ben actually let me take pictures of him, something he usually detests.

Ben has picked up a few new favorite things to do, which mostly
involve jumping from odd places followed by a tumble. He currently still loves play-doh, and his guitar.

Even though he is still behind his peers when it comes to his ability to put sentences together, his sentences are becoming longer and longer. It is so cute! In the morning he usually says “mommy (or daddy) up
me” and he loves to share food with us and say “mommy share food me” or “ben share food mommy”. He also loves to wave, blow kisses, and say “see you soon” upon leaving. Or he’ll say “be right back” and disappear around the corner. He pretends to go shopping at Harris Teeter, where he buys balloons and toes. Yes, toes. Sometimes he goes to Trader Joe for toes though, because in addition to body parts they also have stickers. This kid is too cute for words. It is still so weird to me when kids his age come up to me and start speaking in complete sentences. Freaks me out.
Secretly I am a little glad that he’s taking things slow, I don’t think I am ready for big boy Ben.

HSTK – maybe

During our last adoption it was a huge monumental milestone when our home study was sent to Korea. I remember how relieved and excited I felt when we reached that point in our journey. I felt like we were moving on to the exciting part, waiting for a referral, and like the longest wait was behind us. Which it was. Only 4.5 months later we received our referral for sweet Ben. This time around we are looking at an estimated 20 month wait for referral. A time I can’t even wrap my head around. And this number is purely a guess, as Korea is revamping their international adoption program and no one really knows what the implications are. For all I know, this adoption may not even happen.

This time I have been a little more indifferent about the process (really, friends, even though it might not seem that way to you) but I thought it was great that we got our I-600a approval just in time so our home study could be sent to Korea on the 2 year anniversary of our first home study going over there. I know it’s totally ridiculous, but I was kind of excited about the possible parallel (didn’t happen though). It turns out that the obsessive adoptive mama in me came out and I was stalking our Korea coordinator about sending our papers to SWS. She finally promised she would send them last Thursday, and that she would confirm with me. Well, I never heard back and won’t for over another week. I know that you are thinking, what does it matter, and I know that in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter whether they went a week ago or in two weeks, but with a wait that long I am antsy to start the official wait. I must be the most impatient person in the world, and apparently adoption #1 didn’t teach me anything.

Let’s Pretend…

Remember how in August I promised that was going to be a good blogger? Well, here we are pretty much a month later and I have forgotten so many things that I wanted to get down on paper.

Ben is now into pretend play and it is so cute!

His favorite activity is to get on a phone and say “Hello. order pizza please. Ben. Big. Petter-oooooni (pepperoni). Spicy. Daddy too. Danke. See you soon”.

Apparently I don’t have to eat as he usually does not order one for me.

He also plays drive-through and holds out his hand and says “fries please” and “money please”. I can’t even remember if I’ve ever taken him through one and I most certainly have never taken him anywhere you can just ask for money.

He also loves playing with his play food and making dinner. He’ll pile it on a plate and then feed it to his baby and his stuffed animals. And himself. It’s accompanied by a constant “Ben make dinner”.

Another recent obsession is ice cream. He has a play ice cream he carries around non-stop and he constantly wants us to make him ice cream out of playdough. He also insists on having ice cream from the freezer, but that doesn’t happen as often as he’d like.

His memory is CRAZY. I wish my memory was half as good. The other week we went to Trader Joe’s and they didn’t have any stickers and he is still talking about it. He keeps on saying “Trader Joe. Ask sticker. I’m sorry.”

And weeks, if not months, ago, we were on a playdate with some friends and rode a train around the park and his buddy Andrew shared his bottle of water with him. To this day I keep on hearing about “Choo choo. Andrew. Share water.”

The kid loves play-doh. We have to play every single day and his favorite thing (next to play-doh ice cream) is for me to make people and for him to “squeeze” them. He also enjoys cutting them up. This morning he was asking me to create the Choi family (he asked for all three of them by name) and very excitedly cut off their heads. Sorry guys, please still play with us! He really does love you.

Let’s see, what else happend? Ben and his buddies went on their first big boy ride at a fair. I was planning a whole big post for that one, but just in case I don’t get around to it, here’s a picture.

Peer pressure is a beautiful thing. I was absolutely convinced that Ben would start screaming the minute I left his side, but he just sat there, somewhat stunned. If it had been up me, he wouldn’t have gone on his first ride until he was 4.

This fall we’re starting two different mommy and me classes in an effort to keep busy and thus limit the whining. We are doing one gymnastics class and one class that focuses on stories and crafts. We attended one class calles “Little Hand on the Farm” and Ben LOVED it. The one we went to focused on cows, and the kids learned all about where milk comes from, they got to pet and feed a baby cow, fill water in buckets, and milk a fake cow. They focus on a different animal each time and I think we will have to go back.

Yet another favorite is the local kid’s band (is it a band when there are two people?). Ben stands at the bongos the entire time we are there and will not take his hands off them. Which is fine by me, at least I no longer have to hold him.

*edited to add: darn you wordpress ate my post again, but naptime is over, so I will have to update later*

Wait – it’s August?

I’ve been a bad blogger and an even worse bloggy friend, but I really do need to keep this blog going as Ben’s only baby book/ my journal and I pinky swear that I am going to catch up on everyone’s blog and might even leave a comment or two. I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I blogged.

Things around here have been good, really good for the most part.

I’ve been very busy reading. I used to love books, but ever since Ben came home I have barely touched anything other than attachment books (which aren’t fun to read). I love the feel of a real book with paper pages, but hubby recently purchased a Nook, and what can I say, I love it. I have read 6 books in the past two weeks. Poor hubby doesn’t get much use out of his new toy.

Ben is growing like a weed and is starting to look more and more grown up. Sometimes I look at him and can’t even remember that he was ever a chunky, round baby. Other times I think to myself “what happened”?

The highlight of recent weeks is that Ben started to actually play with some of his toys! A few weeks ago he started sorting his plastic animals into some toy barns, and making “dinner” with his toy food. He’s now also playing with his Lego’s and building towers. Another favorite is putting on a show with his guitar. He’ll clap and dance and stomp, but we are expected to stay perfectly still or he will yell “NO, mommy”. At the end of the performance we are expected to clap and shout “yay”. Ben loves his baby and likes to take it on tricycle rides or push it around in the little stroller. I recently asked what one of my friends’ boys wanted for his birthday and she responded with something along the lines of cars and trucks – you know, things that little boys like. I had to chuckle because my little boy is so not into cars or anything else that most little boys seem to like. We do totally cater to his love of animals, so I wonder if we’re playing a role in that.

He also enjoys helping me cook, which he does by either cracking eggs open (he’ll say “hammer Ei” in true bilingual fashion and pound the egg on the counter) or mixing up flour and water and adding spices. It makes it easier for me to prepare a halfway decent meal, which is great! Of course the cleanup afterwards is less fun.

We’ll be working on moving that 5 a.m. wakeup time to hopefully about 6, which may mean that I’ll be losing some of that precious me-time every night. You see, I am usually not the one getting up that early, it’s my poor hubby. So while I would prefer Ben to sleep a little later, I don’t really care that much. I’d rather get some down time at night. Don’t tell hubby I said that.