30 December 2006

Waiting friends

Faith's friends and part of her welcoming crew.

Grace's friends and part of her welcoming crew.

2x's everything!

Cousins Calvin, Christina, and Christian gave each of the girls their very own ocean aquarium. They will be lulled away to sleep with music, fish, and bubbles.

I had fun shopping for the gifts to take to Korea yesterday. All of the gifts are relatively small in size so it will be easy to pack in our suitcases. The crib mattresses also arrived in the mail yesterday so I was finally able to put the finishing touches on the girls' bedding. Today, we will not only keep ourselves busy by taking down our Christmas tree, we will also attempt to install the car seats to make sure that they are secure. We don't expect to hear any news this weekend but hopefully, sometime next week!

29 December 2006

Preparing for travel

OK, our travel packet came yesterday and it had lots of great information. I thought I'd share some of it so that you can feel like you're tagging along!

Accommodations:
Our agency in Seoul, Social Welfare Society (SWS) has 3 guest houses that range in price from $40-$70/night. We hope that one will be available when we travel so that we can be close to our agency. The travel packet also listed many of the hotels in Seoul. Although we can choose to stay anywhere, most people choose to stay in one of the guest houses. We have heard that they are quite comfortable. They only accept cash but the price is right :)

Sightseeing:
It also listed some great suggestions on what to do while in Korea. Shopping, museums, palaces, churches, etc. Apparently, we will have a few days to soak up the country and its culture. I may even get the chance to meet up with some relatives!

Transportation:
The subway is a clean, efficient, and easy way to travel. Most tickets are about 700 "won" (or 75 cents). There are two types of buses. Private buses arrive every 10-15 minutes. They are air-conditioned, crowded and drive very fast. City-owned buses arrive more frequently and cost about half the price of private buses. There are also two types of taxis. Black cabs are very clean, have a uniformed driver, and are spacious cars. These black cabs charge by the time in the cab so it can get expensive since Seoul can be a big traffic jam. The other type of cabs are generally pale blue, silver or white. These charge by the distance of the trip and are much less expensive. By and large, taxis are an expensive way to travel and most destinations can be reached by subway. We won't need a car while we are there and it is not recommended. We will be doing lots of walking so I won't miss working-out!

Food and restaurants:
There is a wide range of food to choose from. Seoul offers everything from traditional Korean food to American burgers and fries. They also have Italian, Subway, Tony Roma's, McDonald's, and Sizzler restaurants. You can also find a 7-11 and Starbucks on many of the corners. We received a handy-dandy map of all the nearby restaurants and markets.

Suggested Gifts:
Since the giving of gifts is a tradition in Korean culture, it is appropriate to bring a gift to the foster family when we first meet our children. Gifts are also recommended for the head of the agency, the director, and the social worker in Korea. The travel packet included some gift ideas. Some examples are: coffee, note cards, stationary, jewelry, make-up, scarves, anything American made, children's clothes and toys for future babies, hand lotion, etc. It also suggests that we wait to wrap the gifts in Korea since customs may want to inspect a wrapped gift.

Most importantly, the travel packet prepared us for what to expect. I thought our first meeting was going to be at the agency but early this morning, we learned that they will take us to the foster family's home to see our girls. We will only spend about an hour or so there but it will be nice to see their surroundings and ask some important questions regarding their habits. Depending on how the babies react, they may then ask us to come back in a day or two. Jill, our program director told us that they may actually give us the babies for the last few days in Korea! Boy, won't that be something! Talk about a crash course in parenting infants! Jill is requesting the bigger guest house for us just in case this happens. We will most likely be staying in Korea for a week. Although we'd like to stay longer, we also want to get back home with our new family. January is also Morgan's busy time of year for work so he can't be away for too long.

We are getting more and more excited about this trip of a lifetime! Well, I'm joyfully off to go shopping today! More soon!

28 December 2006

What travel packet??

Today, we will receive our travel packet in the mail from our agency. This will go over everything we need to do in order to prepare for our trip. The other morning, I asked our agency what we could do to prepare as well as suggestions on what to bring, gifts, etc. To our surprise, they told us to make sure we go over our travel packet. Travel packet?? What travel packet?!? We looked through all of our paperwork and did not see a travel packet!! We were supposed to have received this a couple of months ago with some other paperwork but somehow, we didn't. They said that their records indicate that it was sent to us. I'm sure they did and somehow it just got lost in the shuffle of paperwork. I'm just thankful that it's not a problem yet because we haven't received "THE CALL." No wonder I was feeling like I needed to do something! Atleast for now, it will keep us occupied while we wait.

Apparently, after going over this packet, we can be as good as packed and ready so that all we need to do when we get the call is book our flight! I found out that two families who got their referral on September 8th and October 5th have received their calls last week. Of course, they were both for one child and I don't know if that makes a difference. We got our girls on September 24th but it took us a couple of weeks longer to get our final paperwork in order because of the move and our trip. Morgan says he feels like we will get our call any day now or sometime next week. He's been right about the timing of things so far so let's hope it continues! We will email everyone on our contact list as soon as we get the call and let you know our travel dates, times, and all the details. Stay tuned!

27 December 2006

First-time Grandparents

My parents met during the latter part of their college years in Seoul. Although they went to different schools, they say they had both heard of each other and finally had the chance to meet. My mom was a very well-known and respected fan dancer and drummer. Fan dancing and drumming are a big part of traditional Korean culture. She was also quite smart and graduated at the top of her college class. My dad was well-known in his own right. He was a professional baseball player and everyone knew him back then for his athletic abilities. They fell in love and married in May of 1967. They had my older brother, Richard in 1969 and me, shortly after.

Some of our relatives from my mom's side had already made the move to the U.S. so my parents decided to bring our family here as well. Back then, pro ball players did not make the kind of money they make today. Although we lived in Seoul, the city was not as industrialized and modern as you see it today. My parents came here to the U.S. to give us more opportunities. Mom was 30 years old when she came here and dad was 32. I remember my parents worked very hard all of their lives to support us. My dad owned businesses like restaurants and printing shops. He also worked as a machinist for most of his career. My mom became a computer analyst and worked for British Petroleum (BP) for over 25 years before retiring in her mid-50's, due to cancer. She also spent much of her life teaching traditional Korean dance, and still does today, on occasion. Mom is also responsible for opening several Korean language schools here in Southern California. Kids of all ages would come on the weekends to learn the language, more about the culture, traditional Korean dance, and Tae Kwon Do (Korean martial arts). Mom was invited back to Seoul several years ago at the request of her college alma mater. The college was celebrating its 150th anniversary and honored her as the, "Woman of the Year."

Today, my dad still works and is planning to retire soon. Mom has had two bouts with cancer in the last 17 years but she is a strong survivor and leads a very active, retired life today. My parents have been married now for almost 40 years and they seem to really be enjoying this season of their lives together. They have been wonderful parents and I thank God for them.
I have so many special memories as a child with my family. It could not have been easy to come to a foreign country (without knowing the language) and work tirelessly to support our family. I appreciate them tremendously and can't wait for them to experience all the joys of being grandparents for the first time.

Mom (back in the day)

Beautiful then and now.

Fan-dancing.

Drumming.

These pictures were taken in Korea before my parents were married.

Mom was probably in her early 20's or so.

25 December 2006

Christmas Morning


After going on our run this morning, it was so beautiful outside that I just had to take a picture. This is our mountain view from our sky deck. Today, we will have a high of 77 with a low of 39. Not exactly common Christmas day weather but nonetheless, it is beautiful.
I checked the weather in Seoul this morning too. The high was 53 with a low of 33. This is also a warm day in Seoul. It will be much colder there the rest of the week with the highs in the 30's/40's and lows dipping down into the 20's and teens. Merry Christmas to our two little angels! We love you and can't wait to see you in person!

Christmas Pictures

Morgan's dad, my dad, Laura, and Roy (back).
Grandma, aunt, my mom, Morgan's mom, me, Morgan (center).
Emily & Rich (front).

Morgan's self-picture w/gift card from Lowe's.

Morgan's mom & dad opening their cash gifts.

My new double burner grill pan from Roy.

Emily got pearls.

Mom loved her gifts from Emily.

Rich, Emily, my aunt, me, Morgan (top) and Dad, Grandma and Mom (below).


Me & my 93 year-old Grandma.

Although all of Morgan's siblings and their kids couldn't be here this Christmas, it was wonderful to have our family visit. For the first time, we didn't have to travel anywhere. Thanks everyone for a great first Christmas in our new home!

23 December 2006

Merry Christmas

We hope that everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! We are looking forward to celebrating our Savior's birth with our family this weekend. All of my family will be here today to celebrate Christmas in our new home. My brother and Emily have not seen our house yet so it'll be fun to have them here for the first time. Morgan's parents and his younger brother Roy, along with his wife, Laura will also be here. Although we would have loved to have our girls home before Christmas, we know it will only be a short while longer before we get to meet them and our whole world will change. We've been busy with the house, the nursery, finalizing the pool and backyard design, and basically all we can do so that once our girls come home, we can concentrate on them.

Many people have asked us, "Isn't it so hard to wait at this point?" It is difficult to see their pictures and read about their development and know that they are growing so much everyday. At the same time, it's comforting to know that they are being loved and well-cared for. Whenever we get that travel call, we are confident that it will be just the Perfect time. We have trusted in God for all the details of this journey and I gave up on setting my own agenda awhile ago. I have to admit, sometimes I still have a hard time getting my head wrapped around the fact that we are being blessed with not only one, but two daughters! This has all happened much quicker than I had even expected ( I prepared myself for a long wait). At this point, you could say, "We're just happily rollin' with it."

We are simply enjoying this time we have together. We were out to dinner the other night and talked about how when the girls come home, we probably won't be out much and when we do go out, we will most likely be looking for restaurants where the noise factor is much higher than the ones we like to go to now :) We love our new community, our home, and all the people that we've met here are wonderful. We know that this is where we are meant to be and that's a great and comforting feeling. After knowing each other for almost 13 years now and being married for 5, we are very ready to share this life with our children. We look forward to a world outside of ourselves and the opportunity to learn and grow from them in a way that we couldn't do on our own.

Morgan and I thank you for keeping us in your prayers through this homestretch. We will let you know as soon as we get our travel call and all the details!
Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!

22 December 2006

Strollin'



My handsome handyman put together the twin techno stroller and it works like a charm! It not only looks cool, it fits through all regular-sized doorways, it collapses easily, and turns on a dime. All we need now are two little girls!

20 December 2006

Cousins

My cousin Connie and her husband Kevin have three little girls all under the age of two! Two of the girls are twins just like ours! Ella and Emily were born prematurely and spent many, many weeks in the hospital before coming home. They have been home now for almost two months and we are so happy that they're doing well. Here, you see them pictured with their big sister, Emma.

Twins do not run in our family but they do however, run in Kevin's. Morgan also has a cousin in Nebraska who recently had twins. It'll be so nice when all of the cousins can meet for the first time! Unfortunately, my cousin lives in Northern California so we don't get to see each other very often. Nonetheless, it's nice to have lots of cousins! I grew up with Connie and her two sisters. It always seemed so much fun to have a sister (sorry bro)! Our girls will all be the same age, within a year of each other, just like me and Connie.

The funny thing is... When I last saw my cousin Connie at Emma's 1 year birthday party (earlier this year), she was pregnant with the twins and rubbed on me. She said..."Here, now you're going to have twins!" This was many months before we knew we were getting our girls. Thanks, Con! You had the magic touch!

13 December 2006

Progress Report




To our surprise, we received a progress report with some new pictures of Faith and Grace this week! The pictures are not the best quality but still, we think they're as cute as can be!
Here's a brief summary of the report:
Both girls have many similarities. They enjoy body massages, going out, and taking a car ride. They are very curious babies and enjoy being with people. They can be shy of strangers at first but because they are so charming, they easily get close to people. They like to listen to music and laugh when the foster mother sings. When they laugh, their eyes form like half moons (very cute).
On the developmental side:
They can put their full weight on their legs when held up. They roll front to back, raise themselves on their arms, hold objects in their hands, can put food (and anything else) in their mouth, and they bounce actively. Grace has now caught up in height to Faith, although Faith remains a pound or two heavier. The report also told us that Grace is saying "um-ma" (mommy) and "ap-pa" (daddy) while Faith is saying "um-ma" (mommy). As you can tell, they are both eating very well. The report said they eat lots of formula, an orange, apple, cookies, and chestnuts.
We are so thankful for the foster couple who have taken such good care of them for some time now. I consider them more like their guardian grandparents because of their age. I can only imagine what it will be like for them when they have to say goodbye. I know our girls will miss them terribly, too.

11 December 2006

The Nursery







We are making great progress on the girls' room. A young artist named Nile just finished painting a beach mural and we love it! Nile is a sweet and talented young man. Here, you can see him adding a couple of seashells. The room has two palm trees, the sky, sand, bathing suits and a big wave! Morgan also hung a very cute ceiling fan that looks like pastel surfboards. We wanted to paint something that would grow with the girls over the years and of course, since their Korean name means "Big Wave Blessing" and "Big Wave Girl," we thought it would be fun to have a beach theme.

We received so many wonderful gifts from the shower and now, it's time to organize them and get the cribs ready for their arrival! It's looking more and more like a nursery for two everyday. Stay tuned for the completed pictures!

07 December 2006

Showered with love

Some dear friends of ours just threw us the most wonderful baby shower. The theme was "tea for two!" It was a very special day for us. One that we've been looking forward to for some time now and one that we'll always be grateful for and remember. Not only did we get to see so many of our friends from LA but we also got to celebrate with those who have loved, supported, and prayed for us through this whole process.

I know traditionally men are not a part of the baby shower but in this case, it only seemed fitting that Morgan was there. Not only did everyone want to see him, but he really wanted to thank those in person for their love and prayers. He is a proud papa and so excited about his girls! I'm also happy that he was there to take some pictures as well as help me open all the gifts! We received such generous and adorable gifts! Thank you to everyone who came to share this day with us! For those family members that traveled so far to be there, we appreciate you and want you to know that it meant the world to us that you came all that way.

Much like my wedding day, this day also went by much too fast; in the blink of an eye. My good friend, Ann gave a devotional and prayer that was both touching and full of love. Another milestone and chapter in our lives was unfolding right before our eyes. Our hearts are overflowing with joy and gratitude and we are sincerely humbled to call you all friends. A special thank you to Ann, Cathy, Diane and Susan for organizing and planning this celebration. You four women have been tremendous role models for me and I appreciate you and your friendship more than words can say.

Susan, we can't thank you and Denis enough for opening your gorgeous home and for all of your wonderful gifts. Most importantly, for your kind and generous hearts. You have always shared your many blessings with us and we are again, overwhelmed and blessed by God and by you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you all!

Here are some pictures from the day. Group shot, Cathy and Ann on either side of us, me and Cousin Christina, handmade blankets from cousins, Emily (my future sis) & mom, and Denis & Susan (the host and hostess) with us.


















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