Friday, September 30, 2011

The day my baby went to school....

Today was Miles' first day of school ever.  It was bitter sweet.  Sweet because he was so excited, and I know he'll have friends, and bitter because I just handed him off to a group of gorgeous young ladies who don't know a thing about him.
We started out the morning with a hearty breakfast....

Then had a small photo shoot....

And then he was off.  When I picked him up he had on his little uniform, which was just about the one thing that sent me over the edge.

We enrolled him in an Irish school.  I think it's safe to say that he will be one of very few Koreans that will be able to speak Gaelic in the near future.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

what exactly have you been doing for this whole week?

kn Well, I'll tell ya.
At first we were busy doing a big fat nothing.  For the first few days we were told just to relax and do nothing.  It was a little hard for me to do, but I put on my big-girl pants and did nothing (except clean out the closets in my flat, reorganize the furniture, and a list of other things that they wouldn't know about behind closed doors).

On top of doing nothing, we also spent some time exploring our new "yard", walking to the beach, and trekking into town.  Right away last Wednesday we went to Knocklayd - a house owned by Corrymeela to meet the long term volunteers that we will be working with for the first year.  That was pretty much the only thing that was expected of us for the first five days.  Hard work I tell ya.  Actually it WAS hard for me because we don't have internet or a working phone yet in our flat, and then top that with no drivers license (which we do have now), and you've got one antsy mama.

Finally on Monday - just two days ago we were able actually sit down and get to work.  Wait, scratch that.  Dustin played the role of stay-at-home dad while I participated in the Monday meetings that we will eventually be leading.  Mondays are the big organizational/housekeeping/keeping everyone in sync meetings.  He did take a break from super-dadding it to take me out for a spin in the car.
Who is that hotty behind the wheel of a station wagon?
Reasons I hate driving so far:
I have a hard time gauging the distance from me to the left side of the car.
Shifting with my left hand.
The car is big.
The roads are skinny.
Everyone else knows what they're doing.
I keep getting in the wrong door when it's my turn to drive.

On Tuesday we were able to write out a schedule for our induction these next three weeks, which made me feel better.  (on a side note - I'm trying really hard to just go-with-the-flow, and it may not seem like it through my posts, but I'm on the edge of turning into one cool chica.)  (on a side note of the side note - I've been told that this will make more people want to hang out with me.)

Wednesday is when the real work began.  We started by organizing our office.  We have a nice big room to work with, but will have to wait until some people get back from vacation before we'll be able to move certain things out and put in shelving for all of the resource supplies.
Dustin also spent a portion of the morning hauling long term volunteers to the doctor.  Then last night we had a going away party for three people that were here on summer staff and were ready to leave for home. I'm not sure how I'm ever going to get used to saying goodbye all the time like they do here. I'm terrible at goodbyes!

Today was slow again.  Dustin spent the morning hauling volunteers to the doctor, while I was in our office pretending to work, while really all I did was make two posters and then get on Pintrest for the rest of the time.

Now I'm back in the office working blogging while I'm waiting for Liam to wake up so we can go on an official tour of the centre. :)

And to the shock of your's is super warm here right now.  Yesterday and today were both warm enough that we thought briefly about taking a swim.  I even got out my sunglasses.  crazy.

What's on the agenda for the next few days?
- Miles' first day of Irish school
- Our first car trip to another town.
- Hopefully more adventures.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Parenting in a "Community"

Let’s be honest, fathers have it easy.  If they change more than one diaper a day and give a kid a few pushes on the swing they are deemed an irreplaceably wonderful dad.  Mothers, in my opinion, got the short end of the stick in that department.  My husband’s a great dad and usually changes more than one diaper a day, and people always talk about how great of a dad he is.  I also change a lot of diapers in a day….I’m still waiting for my mother-of-the-year trophy.

 Something that has surprised me is how easy it is to be a parent when you’re the only family around.  We’re surrounded by 20 and 30-somethings all day – not a single parent in sight.  At first I thought it would be more difficult because they would have less tolerance for my children and their sometimes annoying eccentric habits – like spitting out half chewed food, peeing their pants, running away, and always asking for other people’s food. 

But the opposite is actually true.  I’m hesitant to say that they culture here is more understanding of the child-like spirit, because I am sort of in a bubble called Corrymeela.  However, these people either really find my kids charming, or are just good actors.   And when my kids aren’t charming – they don’t seem to mind one bit.  
a morning walk on the beach.
 I guess I never thought about myself as worrying about what others think of me, but that would be the only explanation for how this is all panning out.  For the first time since I’ve had two I feel like I’ve totally got them under control.   I’ve got myself under control.  They are completely well-behaved.  And they will without a doubt someday become pillars of society.  I may be delusional, but nobody is here to tell me otherwise.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

5 days, 6 hours, 24 minutes, and 23 seconds.

 That is exactly how long it has been since I’ve stepped onto Irish soil.  When I write it down it doesn’t seem like a very long time, yet in my mind I keep having these expectations for myself that I’m disappointed I can’t meet just yet.

This week is all about transition….
into a house I’ve never been in.
having limited internet access.
into a new time zone (Miles hadn’t been asleep before 11 pm until last night.)
and from a family unit to living in a community.

Things have been really fantastic at times, but also really hard at times and really sad at times. 
Ways that I’ve made myself feel better….

  • It actually took me until yesterday to realize that they meant it when they said that we must do nothing but rest for the first week.  Once I finally let my guilt as a misunderstood multi-tasking busy freak be put to rest, I actually found ways to enjoy myself without a single commitment in the world besides getting to dinner on time.

  • Finding ways to get certain comforts. Dustin and I walked into town yesterday and bought an armful of ground coffee.  Trust me, if you were a coffee drinker and were given a tin of instant coffee the minute you got off the plane, you would walk 2.5 miles one way for the good stuff too.  Other things I bought: peanut butter, HobNobs (my favorite UK treat from way back when), and olive oil.
  • Television.  It seems silly because we didn’t watch tons of television back home (unless it was on Netflix or I was taking in endless Kardashian and Real Housewife episodes on my parents’ sweet cable), but I’ve found real comfort in the US shows I can find here, including, but not limited to How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and my personal favorite, The Real Housewives of New York.  I’ve also found their version of what I can only imagine is The Hills and although I’ve never really gotten into The Bachelor, there is a version here that I might watch, purely for research reasons of course.
  •  Changing my reading habits.  When I left Ohio I was reading a Science Fiction book called Sparrow, which I may have normally liked.  It is about these Jesuits that travel to another planet that is discovered to have life – feeling as though it is a calling from God.  As they get closer to arriving, the main guy becomes weery of whether this is the right thing to do.  Turns out he should have listened to his instinct because these people were then mamed, raped, and even killed.  Although I have no fear of any of these things, the parallels outside of that freaked me out.  I finally decided to give up the book and read something more “light” – like A Girl Named Zippy.
  • Finally getting into a groove.  These people eat lunch at 1. 1!  That is about two hours after we normally eat (which I acknowledge to be unusually early).  They boys were sleeping from 2-5 and then not falling asleep until 11.  Not cool.  We finally figured out how to get them fed by 11:30, down by 12, and tonight will be the ultimate test of falling asleep by 9 – at the latest.  (I’m hoping for 8, but we’ll see.) J

So there you have it….I wish I could share about all of the cool work we’re doing, or all of the cool things we’re trying, but the truth is that we aren’t really doing much of anything outside of visiting the beach daily and trying to shake off jetlag.  Perhaps my next post will be full of witty and clever adventures and photos of all the cool things we’re doing....but don’t hold your breath.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Although I have about a million emotions and thoughts running through my head right now, I thought I would keep it light and just post a few pictures of our flat.  When we got in yesterday it was decorated with all sorts of cut flowers and family pictures by our volunteers.  I am already getting really excited thinking of ways to decorate it and make it more like our home.  :)
Our kitchen

Our dining room

Overlooking our back patio

Our study/guest room

Our master bedroom

The boys' room
Our living room - you can see Miles has made himself at home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We made it!

Two plane rides, seven checked suitcases, and four very tired individuals later.....we made it.  So far so good, and I will post more very soon.  I feel good so far.  I did have a very private panic attack waiting in line at the border patrol - not sure if I am doing the right thing.  More on that later though.  This lady needs to rest and help her kids rest. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

oh yeah.....

....and because I can't tell you I have a new nephew, and not show you a picture of my little brother as a dad......

I promise we'll be working...

I have been trying to think of what to write about all day.  I have about a bazillion and one emotions running through me right now.  I could write about my new baby nephew that was born hundreds of miles away, that I won't get to meet for a little while.  I could write about how my baby brother got married and drove off into the sunset this morning with his new wife.  or I could write about how I am having some major mixed emotions about moving overseas in less than two days. 

Instead I'm going to hold off my freaking-out nature for a few more posts, and write about what we'll be doing at Corrymeela in Northern Ireland, and more about this big change in our lives in general. 

First of all - a bit about Corrymeela.  It is a Christian Center that focuses on promoting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  It's a cool place, and if you want to get more details you should swing by their website,

I worked at Corrymeela for half of a semester that I spent in Northern Ireland during my junior year of college.  I obviously loved it, but I can't seem to remember why.  It definitely wasn't because of this....

our future view from our backyard
or this...

Corrymeela from the road.

and this almost makes me NOT want to go...
Ballycastle - the closest town.

Basically we'll be providing leadership in 5 major areas at the center.

1.  Spiritual Life
2.  Pastoral Care
3.  Resource Areas
4.  Community Life
5.  Cover

A bit of defining for those of you that need it:
Spiritual Life means that we will be in charge of things such as leading a short worship regularly, forcing other people asking other people to also lead worship, and identifying resources to support worship.  Of all of the areas, this one terrifies me just a teeny tiny bit.  I think we'll be fine at it once we get in the swing of things....I mean we are no strangers to standing in front of a room full of people that only half believe what we're saying...we're teachers.

 Pastoral Care means that we'll meet with the long-term volunteers (ranging in ages from 20ish-olderish) to discuss their well-being, among other things that sort of all relate to that one task.  When they interviewed us for this position, they said that this was the one area most couples were least comfortable with.  We are excited about it though.  You can't be a high school art teacher and not spend your days talking with students about their well-being and mental health.  I, my friends, am well seasoned in this....and not intentionally.

Resource Areas refers to the resources the center will use for school and adult groups that come and learn through us.  We will be brainstorming with the volunteers to build up resource areas (such as crafts, audio/visual, and recreation) and make them even more awesome than they already are.

Community Life means that we will be working with staff and volunteers to improve the day-to-day efficiency of the Center and the quality of the community life.  Since we will all be living as a community this should be fun and challenging all at once.  One of the tasks under this description says that we will be in charge of coordinating on-site recycling and encouraging energy conservation, which got my environmentalist tree-hugging husband all excited.  We'll see how excited he is when he has to haul five giant over-stuffed garage bags of sticky soda cans down to the city center three days a week.

Cover basically refers to one person that is sort of the "go-to" person in the case of an emergency at the Center.  We will be in charge of not only "doing" cover, but also training the long-term volunteers to do it and then scheduling them for the cover schedule. 

So there you have it.  If you're still reading then you were way more interested in what we were doing than I gave you credit for..... or  you were just trying to figure out what kind of suckers would leave everything behind to go to a terrible place like this......

Friday, September 16, 2011

what a day

What. A. Day.
I could write a book about what we've gone through to get our visas... but instead I will just let you know that our prayers have been answered and they are safely in the hands of a close neighbor.  Talk about timing.  Since the beginning of this process I have stuck by the claim that we are leaving for Northern Ireland on Sunday September 18th - two days after my brother's wedding. 
When we took the job they wanted us there in June, but I told them there was no way I could be there before September 16th.  I mean, my baby brother was getting married.  That's not something I was going to miss if I could help it.  Not only that, but my other brother and his wife could possibly be having a baby this-very-second.  They were reluctant to accept this, but here we are: September 16th - the day my baby brother gets married, the day after my sister-in-law is due to have her baby, and the visas are just now hitting our hands. Our flights are scheduledd to leave Chicago on Monday evening.  Perhaps it's fate.  Perhaps God has a plan.  Perhaps it's not for me to figure out.  Perhaps I'll just put on my lapis dress, help my future sister-in-law get ready for her big day, and stand up for my baby brother while he takes this next amazing step in his life. 
I hope for him happiness.
I hope for them laughter.
And of course I hope for my children more cute little cousins that I can spoil. (but not for two more years - I can only handle missing one nephew's birth.) :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Saying goodbye to our fair city......

... with a family photo shoot in the downtown warehouse district with my dear friend, Katie Zeller.  Again, she agreed to trade me services, which is just about the best deal around for family photos. :)

 Thanks again Katie, for the awesome pictures and for capturing my little family at a time I want to remember always.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Things I miss:
1.  My house.  More specifically, my room, my family pictures, my kitchen, and my cozy chair in the living room that gave me great viewing access to all of our neighbors.
2.  My dog.  He would be a sight for sore eyes right now.
3.  My classroom.
4.  My Illinois friends and everything about them, including, but not limited to: our talks, funny stories, parental advice, professional advice, shared bottles of wine, and birthday dinners.
5.  My coworkers.  They were funny.  I worked with good people. I miss them.

Things I look forward to:
1.  Living in N. Ireland.  I hear it's nice there.
2.  The work we will be doing (stay tuned for another post with details).
3.  Having my own home again.
4.  The season premiere of Greys Anatomy - if N. Ireland doesn't get it, then I might have to fly home for it.
5.  Singing like Adele (because I've been practicing you guys).

Things that I am thankful for now:
1.  Living with my parents.
2.  Spending every day with my sons, with no real pressing distractions to interrupt our intense bike riding and car-driving.
3.  Being close to my friends from home for a change.
4.  Rice krispie treats.  (Don't be jealous.)
5.  This weather.  Brazilian Cookouts.  Small towns.  I love it.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I know how we must look to the average, fertile family.  At least I think I know how we look.  I often wonder what goes through their minds when they see us, and sometimes I don’t have to wonder long because they will reveal their thoughts through questions…. “Did you know you were pregnant before you adopted him?”, “So were you just thrilled when you found out you could have one?”, or in the case of the clerk of the Asian food market, “Are you babysitting?”. 

If I’m honest I’ll admit that I’ve been conscious of it since we brought Miles home.  When my belly was swelling, just months after he was home with us, I would catch people staring – assessing our situation.  Some would ask.  Everyone had a story of their neighbor’s sister’s friend who went through the same thing.  I would smile politely, hoping that they didn’t think I thought my life was whole now just because I was pregnant.  Worrying that they would question whether I could love my adopted son as much I loved the baby growing inside me. 

I know how we must look.  Every once in awhile someone says something that reminds me. 

But here’s the truth.  I knew about the baby in my belly when I got on the plane to get my older son from Korea.  I wanted them to know without a doubt that I went to Korea to get him AND have the other.  I worried about loving one son more than the other, but like most mothers, it was the son in front of me, the son I played with everyday that I was afraid of loving more than the son I had yet to meet.  I felt like a cliché.  I felt like a bit of an outsider in the adoption world, like an outcast amongst the women I had, just months ago, found common ground.  I felt silly – a big pregnant woman who people talked about and speculated on.  Always in a good way….always so happy for me.

And how did it end up?  I still worry about how our family make-up and planning (or difficulty doing so) will affect my older, adopted son.  I still think about how people must think of us, daring them to ask questions, hoping they don’t ask the wrong ones now that he's old enough to understand.  I worry about the impression we give to families that are in the adoption process.  I worry about the false hope our story may emit.  I worry what will happen when Miles begins to understand what people mean when they call Liam a "little Dustin".

And I worry as I plan for the future of our family.  I never wanted only two children.  And it seems like it should be easy enough.  But things aren't just black and white for us anymore.  I’m constantly thinking about how to add to our family – what ways would build up the children we already have and would benefit those to come.  How we can afford to grow.... But I guess if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that I’m not the one in charge. The best laid plans...right?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are you going to the Scaraborough Fair?

I doubt the Scarborough Fair was half as cool as the Fulton County Fair, which is where I dragged my dear husband and two kids after years of big talk and  little delivery.  I actually hadn't been since high school, which is weird, because I spent most of my adolescence LIVING for fair week.  In our county it runs over labor day weekend so all of the schools in the area not only get Monday off, but also get Tuesday (junior fair day) off to attend the fair.  To say it is a big deal would not do it justice.
So yesterday we packed it up and braved the chilly temps (a good precursor to the next two years) and beat the morning traffic so we could check out the animals, rides, and of course, fried food.

 Some things about the pictures....
  • The first is a picture of us with the town symbol I grew to love - Sterlena the cow.
  • I AM wearing gloves to drink a milkshake...a drop in temperature will not keep me from my favorite feature of the fair - the dairy stand.  
  • Liam was so into people watching that he had to sit backwards in his stroller.
  • That IS a fat-guy funnel cake on my lap, and I don't regret it one bit.
  • You might strike you that I'm actually in some pictures.  Dustin convinced me that he should have a newer-version Ipod so that he would have a camera to carry around and therefore I would actually be in some pictures instead of just this mythical creature that followed them around throughout their childhood.
  • Oh yeah, and that picture below.....that's a goat dressed up as a horse. Duh.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What do the Kardashians have in common with bicycles and historical villages?

It's been awhile since I've posted and a lot has to do with the fact that we have been pretty busy.  A lot also has to do with the Kardashians, the Fulton County Fair, saying goodbye to friends, and riding bikes.  So between Keeping up with the Kardashian marathons I did manage to take some pictures to show that we have been doing some cool stuff this last week.

First, Liam and I ventured out to Indianapolis so that he could see some of his aunties that he hasn't seen since he was only 6 weeks old.  These are my college roommates that I love dearly and just had to see before we ventured off to other lands.

Next, Dustin picked us up in Indy and we headed to our final home before we leave - with my parents in Ohio.  So far we've managed to learn a lot about Bruce Jenner's parenting styles, go on A LOT of bike rides, and have even done a little sight-seeing. :)  Here are photos from a trip we took to a historic village in our area.  I bet you'll never guess the boys' favorite part.  Seriously...I was shocked.  Okay, not really, it was totally the train ride - so predictable.

And then this last weekend we got to say goodbye to Dustin's family....but only until we see them all again when they come to visit us in the UK.

 Less than two weeks to go before we board the plane.  We're still waiting on Miles and Liam's visas and are REALLY hoping those come before the end of the week so we can at least buy our tickets.  The goodbyes are getting a little easier, because I think I'm realizing that two years really isn't a long stretch of time.  But that is for another post.  Until then I have a lot of Real Housewife marathons to catch up on and the third Lord of the Rings movie to watch with my desperate hubby.  :)