Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chelsi Korea funnies

She was so funny, so I had to share just two of the things she did.  When we were on the way to Korea we had a lot of turbulence.  She kept asking me why the rocks were hitting the plane.  Then on the way home, we landed in Chicago and had a rough landing.  She laughed and laughed and laughed.  Most kids would have been a little scared, because it was pretty hard, but she thought that was so funny.  She's such a rough and tumble girl!


Coming Home Pics (Airport)

Thanks for taking photos Jane!  Jaemin got to meet daddy and his brothers.

Receiving Jaemin (Gotcha Day)

I'll have to post about that later....doing good to get this much done.  :)


Meeting Jaemin Pics

Chelsi's Foster Mother Visit

Kaelin's Foster Mother Visit

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Princesses Visit the Palace

We went to Deokunung Palace today.  It's a short walk from the hotel, we decided that was the one to see.  When we got there there were tons of people around.  They were there with signs and crying, mourning their former President who's funeral is tomorrow.  We do know it's at one of the palaces, but we're not sure if it's the one we visited or not.  We checked with the front desk about what time to leave for the airport due to the funeral and they said we'll make it there in plenty of time.

Right outside the palace a man who looked like he'd had a pretty hard life stopped us.  He gave the girls 1000 Won each.  He kept touching his mouth, so I assume it was for us to buy them some candy.  He just insisted they take it.  We visited the palace and it was truly beautiful.  The architecture in there is amazing and the artistry....  When we were on our way back to the hotel we stopped at a bakery to get some food.  They had Hello Kitty stickers by the register and Kaelin must have been eying them because the lady gave her one.  I tried to pay for one for Chelsi too, but she just gave me the stickers and gave me my money back.  The girls LOVE Hello Kitty.  At breakfast this morning a Korean couple stopped us to talk.  She is the director of the Korean Nursing Program at a university in PA.  She and her husband are apprently very active with the adoption groups in their area.  They were talking to us to make sure we were doing something similar in our area...the best we can.  They gave me their room number and insisted if we had any needs at all we should come see them.  They were both very nice!

We're leaving to get Jaemin in about 2 hours, so this is probably it until getting home.  See you all later and love you!


Presidential Mourners

This water clock is a Korean treasure.

Heungcheonsa Bell is also a Korean treasure.

Singijeon Launcher Carrier is a weapon used many years ago.

The girls in front of the throne hall.

View of the throne hall.

Inside the throne hall.

Neat looking tree on the palace grounds.

Steps leading to the throne hall.

Various pictures throughout the grounds.

King Gojong's modern palace.

Fountains at night

We just, last night, noticed there is a fountain under the overpass next to our hotel, that apparently only comes on at night.  But, it goes through several colors as it splashes up and is very pretty!  The streets were crazy late last night and today.  Tons of traffic and honking.  I think it's all due to the funeral of the former President tomorrow.

Back to the market

I wanted to get pictures of the South Gate, but had no idea they had it blocked off after it was damaged in the fire.  So they have it hidden and are doing something with it.  But, we took pictures of it anyways.  The rest of the pictures are of the area near there, downtown Seoul, and Namdaemun Market where we went back to shop.  We finished getting everything I still wanted to get and got some great deals!  When we were at the market a guy stopped to talk to Chelsi.  He practiced his English with us and kept squeezing her cheeks to say how beautiful she was and then picked her right up.  I had to grab a photo of that!

Later, in the afternoon, we took the subway and went to Eastern to see Kaelin's foster mother.  We got there early and had hoped to hold the babies, but they must not let people do that anymore, so all we got to do was glance in there through the glass.  They showed us where Kaelin sat for her picture as an infant, got her shots, etc.  It was pretty neat to see.  When Mrs. Kim walked into the room we immediately recognized her and she us.  She cried a lot.  She was SO happy to see Kaelin again and couldn't believe how big she'd gotten and how round her head turned out.  She said she was really worried about her flat head as a baby.....I remember that being said on a video.  :)  She told us how good of a baby Kaelin was and that she never cried.  She's now fostering TWO babies!  She said one is seven months old and the other is 20 days!  Wow!  She bought Kaelin a cute little dress, some pastels to draw with and some hair accessories....she knows our girl!  Kaelin is wearing the dress tomorrow to meet Jaemin.....she loved it!  Kaelin didn't say a word the whole time.  That was the longest I've ever not heard her utter something, but she did sing the Three Bears song for her and her foster mother LOVED it and cried again that she knew some Korean.  She wants her to come back when she's older.  She wanted to know everything about Kaelin aside from what I write in letters every year.  She said she was very happy that we wrote every year and sent pictures.  That makes me feel better that she likes them and gives me incentive to continue doing it.  She requested that next year Kaelin also write a letter and draw her a picture, which Kaelin promised to do.  I am also sending her some pictures from today because she had to leave her camera.

While we were waiting to meet Kaelin's foster mother they put us in the computer room.  There was another couple in there from CO that were picking up their son.  We talked to them for about an hour.  It was nice to chat with someone from the US and about the fears of going home etc.  I'm a little fearful of our flight.  We were told in Chicago to call Korean Air a couple of days before we left to have our seats switched so we can get bulkhead and basinett, but when I called they said I should have set it up when we left.  Frustrating!  I'm going to try to talk to them when we arrive because they have us sitting in two rows with strangers on the aisle while we're on the inside.  Pretty sure those people are not going to like having us get up with 3 kids often!  They'll regret that for sure.

It really was a great day.  We walked to a local florist and got some flowers to give to Jaemin's foster mother tomorrow when we take him.  They're very pretty and money here goes a lot further on flowers than they do in the US.  A lot better flowers for the money....they are beautiful!

Observations from the week so far; people park their cars on the sidewalk and if you're walking there you better move 'cause mostly they don't stop.  Bikes and mopeds will run you right over as they weave between streets and sidewalks often.  We've been knocked around by people too.  They don't slow down for anything.  The subways here are super easy to figure out, but today Lois realized we could turn our tickets in at our home stop for 500 won back.  That was a good discovery.  We've had a mixed bag of reactions from people on the subway.  That's where the majority of the reactions have happened.  Most older gentlemen just love Chelsi and talk away to her and smile.  One man, today though, was saying things to us and was definitely not happy with us...but we have no idea what we did.

Tomorrow, we'll try the palace, but due to the former President's death we're not sure it will be open.  It's just a quick walk though.  After that we're going to baby proof the room and go get my boy!  YAY!!!!

This is one of the potties at the agency (squatty potty for women) :)

Kaelin's dress from Mrs. Kim.  Her caseworker said they call this kind of dress the princess syndrome...dresses for spoiled little girls.  :)

Not sure when I'll post again since tomorrow is baby night!  I should have some time in between to post about the palace, but after that....who knows!  Pray for our safety on our trip home!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today's activities...

We were so busy today.  We left the hotel fairly early afraid we wouldn't figure out how to get from the hotel to Holt using the subway.  We figured it out a lot quicker than we thought and made it there 1 1/2 hours early...ooops!  So, we asked if we could go to the Reception Center to hold the babies there.  She gave us directions and let us go.  We found it pretty easily too.  They were so sweet!  There were five in each room.  There were the ones that were about 5 months and up and the ones under in another room.  One little girl in the big baby room smiled and smiled.  There was a little guy with downs syndrome that really liked to move...kinda dancing.  I held a little boy that was just huge!  We moved to the little babies room and held them too.  Though there was one little one still in an isolate that was just days old.  She was very sweet.  One baby slept the whole time.  I picked up the little girl closest to me, who was about 4 months old.  I was going to put her down to pick up the little guy Lois had because she swore he wanted me and she got really mad.  As soon as I picked her back up she was fine.  She just melted into you and sat there.  We said goodbye to all the babies and the sweet workers in the rooms after almost an hour and walked back for our meeting with Chelsi's foster mother. 

Chelsi's foster mother was so happy to see her.  She told us the things she remembered about Chelsi.  Apparently Chelsi cried a lot.  I can't even imagine that.  She really doesn't cry that often now.  She remembered how chubby she was...that's very true!  She said recently she was the only girl she'd ever had in 6 years and 12 babies.  Chelsi's only the 2nd to come back to see her so far.  We gave her the gifts we put together and she gave us some things.  I got a little Korean fan and the girls got hair stuff....which Kaelin grabbed very quickly.  We also got some ginseng tea, so Brian will try that out.  We took lots of pictures and talked for awhile then headed out to catch the subway to SWS.  The foster mother did say she would try to email again.  She'd tried off of the email I put in some old letters, but she said it didn't work. 

We figured out way to SWS from Holt pretty quickly too.  We got a lot of stares on that long ride.  Couldn't tell what they were thinking though.  We found SWS.  Walking from the station to SWS was a little harder to find than Holt, but we did find it.  We were a little early there too.  The subways are very fast!  We gave our gifts to the director and also delivered a gift from another SWS family to the director for the birthmother and fostermother of a child.  We then got a taxi with our case worker and went to the foster mother's house.  She came to find us and we went up to their place.  We went in and took our shoes off to sit and play.  We had an hour.  First, we got to just play with Jaemin alone because the case worker was asking the foster mother questions about his habits so she can type it up for us.  Then we all just kind of talked a bit and exchanged gifts.  We got his hanbok, a Korean/English baby's first bible kind of book (so cute) and a huge photo album of pictures.  The foster mother said Jaemin knows what particular clothes they wear to go outside and gets so excited because he loves to go out.  He also loves the water and having his feet played with.  We ate ice cream later.  Jaemin has the sweetest laugh.  He thought Lois, Kaelin and Chelsi playing ball was hilarious.  He smiled a lot!  He didn't look for his foster mother as much as I thought he would, while I held him.  I truly expected him to cry when I picked him up, but not one bit.  He kissed me a lot.  That sweet open mouth baby kiss!  He held onto my shoulder and if I sat him a bit in front of me he turned and reached back.  Melt my heart!  I pray Thursday and Friday go as well when he leaves his foster mother behind completely.  BTW, he's HUGE!  He's a big, solid boy!  And he can crawl fast!  She says he's pulling up too, so we're going to be very busy.  Lois doesn't think the clothes I have will fit.  :)  It was hard to say goodbye, but we'll be back soon and have him for the night.  I'll post pictures of all of this at a later date when I decide which pictures are safest to post and Brian sees his pictures first.

Now, for the funniest part of the day.  When we were on our way back from the Reception Center to Holt agency, we had to cross the street.  The arrows were going down so we were running out of time.  I was carrying Chelsi and Lois was running across with Kaelin.  She had these heelish shoes on and apparently looked back for Chelsi and I and all I saw was her sailing to the ground and she took Kaelin with her.  Just short of the curb, but still in front of a car.  We grabbed the stuff they dropped and went on and Kaelin barely had a scrape on her leg, but Lois cut herself.  We've been laughing about it all day because when Lois fell all I could see was Kaelin flying to the ground and when she landed her arms and legs were spread out as she laid there on the ground.  It really was pretty funny, so we've been giving Lois a hard time the rest of the day.

Anyways, going for the night and no pics tonight.  Tomorrow all we have is to go to Eastern to meet Kaelin's foster mother.  We'll sight see a little more Thursday morning and then go get Jaemin at 4:00 pm.  Friday we should get to leave.

Can't wait to return with him.  Keep us in your prayers.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Old and New

We went to exchange some more money today, so we had to wait for the bank to open to leave.  Our hotel has a free breakfast and it was REALLY good!  There's so much food to pick from that none of us had a problem finding enough to eat.  We hailed our first taxi and went to Seoul Station to see Lotte Mart....not what I thought it was.  It's more of a Walmart, but the girls found a couple of things anyways.  Then there's the Galleria.  Really nice stuff...but pretty much American.  We at lunch at Seoul Station too...yep, I let the girls eat ice cream at Baskin Robbins for lunch.  We then took a taxi to Namdaemun Market.  It's so big...overwhelmingly big.  There are people in open air selling things as well as some stores in buildings.  We were there for at least 2 hours and didn't even scratch the surface of that place.  I hope to go back because I never did get the picture of South Gate like I'd wanted, but I finally found it on the map this morning.  It's fairly difficult to tell drivers where you want to go, so for the most part I brought sticky notes and we've written each place down on a sticky note and the hotel wrote it in Korean for us.  But, yesterday I lost the one returning us to the hotel.  :)  Luckily, I found a couple of things in my backpack that helped the driver find our way back.  Lois had to tell him we were there though.  I think he was a little frazzled.

The roads in Seoul are crazy!  They drive extremely close to one another.  As in so close, sometimes they have to take turns moving or they'll take a side view mirror off.  They don't mind just whipping over into a parking spot on the street to let you out either.  Even if it means majorly cutting someone off.  I've also never seen so many buses in my life.  There is no lack of public transportation here.  Lois and I noticed that people REALLY dress nice for work here.  Beautiful silk suits on men and very few men have dress clothes on without it being a suit.  Women wear heals with everything...even jean shorts.  And you cannot get Korean food until 5 or later and walking in at 5 kind of seems to disturb them.  Door are open to places, but you can't come in and they definitely make sure you know it.  But, we ate Korean, regardless last night and it was very good!  The bulgogi was the same as at our local restaurant except we found out we had to cook it ourselves.  The side dishes were a WHOLE lot hotter than in the US at restaurants.  Kaelin thoroughly enjoyed everything though and I even got Chelsi to taste the bulgogi for a twizzler.  :)

At the market we did manage to find Chase the pair of socks he wanted...Cole now has some too.  The girls got their new hanboks and they're very gorgeous!  I did have to bargain for those.  They were way out of my price range since I was buying two.  I got her to come down 20,000 won though and was happy.  Kaelin got a fan she'd been looking for and a Korean rag for each girl.  They each got little purses too.  We got Jaemin a Reds rag and shirt.  The man put it on Chelsi right away though.  I don't think he understood when I kept telling him we were looking for one for a boy.  Let me tell you, looking for the Reds (soccer team) rag and shirt was difficult.  I finally found a shirt and showed them the girls' rags and finally found someone who understood what I was trying to say.  I was happy!  We got a set of Wedding Ducks for each of the kids too.

If I get to go South Gate I'll go back to the market and look around that side as well.  It's 10 acres (consisting of different levels).  I don't think you could ever see it all.  And the people?  Oh my gosh it's crowded and they do feel free to run you over.  :)

After the market we went to the Korean Folk Village.  There wasn't really anyone there, but it was still cook to check out.  No reenactments which would have been awesome!  It was neat to see the games from earlier in time as well as the old house and quarters where royalty stayed.

Here are pictures from yesterday and today we are taking the subway (wish us luck) for the first time and going to Holt to visit Chelsi's foster mother.  Then we go to SWS to get a ride to Jaemin's foster mother's home and see my baby for about an hour.  I'm still vigorously working out details to see Kaelin's foster mother at ESWS.  I pray that works out.  That would be the topping for Kaelin on this trip!


Folk Village

View of Seoul Tower from Folk Village

Heat for the ondol floors of the house.

Getting ready to find a taxi to go back for the day.

And, we're back from our trip.  Since Chelsi was sleeping on Lois while Kaelin and I bought the hanboks I had them try them on at the hotel.  Aren't they gorgeous!?