Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sam - one year later

August 24 was our first anniversary of Sam's arrival day. Pictures then and now...

It's been kind of a whirlwind month. We spent a busy week at Donner Lake, and between being gone 2 weeks in July and a week in August I'm still feeling behind at work. I also decided to make some slideshows for Alex and Sam, for her 3rd birthday and his 1st arrival day, and this was fun but pretty time-consuming. I tried to post one of them on YouTube but it never did work despite multiple tries - I'm guessing the 35 MB file size was too much, though the YouTube site says my limit is 100 MB. Oh well.

So this Saturday was Alex's 2nd 3rd birthday party, with family and friends at the park. It was really fun, the weather was perfect, and we had a great turnout - I think everyone we invited showed up (33 people counting ourselves and kids)- but between getting up early to work out, working on slideshows, planning and cleaning up after this party I'm feeling exhausted! But I couldn't be happier. Feeling so grateful for my life. :-)

We had the party at Wheeler Farm, a pretty park with large lawns and little streams that are instant kid-magnets. At one point my friend Nancy rescued Sam just as he was leaning over the stream and looked like he might fall in, and later in the evening Bryan looked for Sam and saw him standing in another little stream! Yikes!. I should have been keeping a better eye on him, but I was also trying to rescue Alex from bees, serve dinner to 2 kids, carry stuff from car to table, make party punch, and have some semblance of conversation with friends I hadn't seen in awhile. The older kids at the party were a lifesaver as they helped entertain little kids and keep them from wandering too far. Thanks to Nancy, Alex finally got her beloved bunny cake, with blue M&Ms for eyes, red string licorice whiskers and mouth, and chocolate chip nose. At the end we lit up the remaining sparklers from 4th of July which attracted not only the kids at our party but also random kids from the park who wanted to get in on the action.

After all the excitement I thought the kids would crash. Sam did, but Alex was up until MIDNIGHT playing in her room - since we put the big girl bed in, she is loving the freedom. I think we may have to curtail or end her afternoon naps if we want her to sleep at night.

Signing off - pictures to come soon, I hope.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Birthday Girl

Alex was 3 on August 19. A quick review of her first 3 years...

At birth...

6 months...

1 year...

18 months...

2 years...

2 and 1/2...

and now, "I'm THREE!"

I'm working on a video/slideshow, compiling the best of the past 3 years. Fun but it's taking longer than I wanted. She's really growing up. I asked her if she wanted to go to the beach and she said, "That would be fun, actually." She cracks me up.

Love you girl! XOXOXO

Thursday, August 2, 2007

an unexpected gift

Yesterday we received a surprise in the mail: a letter and small gift from "Mrs. Kim," Alex's foster mom in Korea!

Until it actually happened, I wouldn't have believed how much this would mean to me. The letter was addressed "My beloved Da Eun" and "Dearest lovely Da Eun" (English translation, of course.) Mrs. Kim thanked Alex for growing up so well and said how much she appreciated all the pictures we sent. She said she is still caring for little babies and "they are all so precious in their own way." She also sent a little package of hair accessories for Alex to wear. Incredibly sweet!

I got out the photograph of Alex with her foster mom, which had been put away for a while. I showed it to Alex and explained to her about her foster mom who took care of her when she was a baby. A couple months ago I started explaining to her how she was born in Korea, but I'm not sure how much she gets it. In a way, this letter and gift were the perfect catalyst for me to reinforce the story I've been trying to tell her - the story of her beginnings. For a while I wasn't putting too much effort into it, because she's so young, but I'm convinced it's never too early. I expect we'll be talking about it with Alex and Sam through all their developmental stages, and bit by bit, as they grow, the story will become part of their identity.

I read in an adoption magazine that it's a good idea to practice telling your children their adoption stories, even when they're babies, because then by the time they can understand it you'll be used to talking about it and hopefully it won't feel strained or awkward. At the time, I thought it was a little silly, but the first couple times I talked to Alex about it, it was harder than I thought to find the right words. It's getting easier.

I have a friend with an adopted daughter who doesn't seem to want to acknowledge her daughter's birth parents at all. She's afraid it would be traumatic and she (the mom) really believes that her birth mom had (and has) no significant place in her daughter's life anyway. I can understand that viewpoint, but I wonder what that does to her daughter's image of her own biological mother and her own identity. Like all adoptive moms, I suppose, we will have to figure out what is the best approach for our families. I hope Alex and Sam will never fear talking with me about their birth moms.

Alex's birthday party is approaching and I'm thinking about having a green candle burning during the party in honor of her Korean mom, like we did last year. In addition, I'm considering adding other candles to represent her foster mom and dad, and myself and Bryan. I'm hoping this will encourage people to see, acknowledge, and be thankful for all the people who have loved and cared for her.