October 31, 2011

A Milestone.....And Questions

I can now officially say that I've survived being SICK SICK SICK as the mother of two! I just had a 24-hour bug that was HORRID.

The worst part was that it hit on Saturday night, and I had planned on doing one hour of church with the kids on Sunday morning. I was so ready to just see people, be out and about, and most of all, worship corporately. I had been thinking about the church thing for awhile, and I knew I would just need to see how Liam was doing. The major help is that Liam will be in the Sunday School class my mom teaches, so he wouldn't have any major new faces. However, I knew that I didn't want to attempt the 9:00 hour just yet (when my mom teaches Sunday School). My mom offered to stay with Liam and just walk around church/explore/take it easy while I went to the 10:30 worship service with Kurt. Kurt teaches adult Sunday School at the 9:00 hour, so he needed to be there and I would be getting the kids ready by myself. I honestly wasn't concerned about that part, because as long as I can corral them in the same room, they're pretty easy to pin down and get dressed - ha!

Well, Saturday night the stomach bug hit me. I thought it might have been something I ate, and I prayed that I could sleep the rest of it off. Nope. I even got out of bed and thought "maybe if I walk around and get going it will pass." Nope. I ended up texting my mom (she had her phone more handy than Kurt), and she came home to take care of the kids. I wanted Kurt to be able to go to worship since he had missed just as much as I had. Sidenote: A lot of people were telling me that I was attempting too much, I shouldn't be so hard on myself (I get that a lot?), and that I can worship anywhere, which I totally understand. But here's the deal: I wasn't being too hard on myself. I wasn't trying to attend church to impress anyone or because I was holding myself to a super high standard. We had a gameplan that I knew wouldn't overwhelm Liam and I was SO READY to just be in my church again. So it wasn't about trying to get back in the game at a superhuman speed or anything.

I went back to bed and ended up having to take a Phenergen, which basically knocked me out most of the day. I took nap after nap and when I woke up at 6:30pm, it was the first time I could lift my head successfully. My family came over to my house after church and we watched some of the Cowboys game. I was able to help Kurt get the babies to bed, and then I stayed up til about 11:00 (only because I had slept most of the day). But when Kurt headed to bed around then, I was ready to go too! I slept soundly the whole night, which was awesome.

Oddly enough, I think this could've been a bug, but it also could've been pure exhaustion and my body's way of dealing with the end of jet lag. I can now say that I feel like myself again, body-clock-wise, which feels wonderful. I was able to sleep so much the past two days that I think I'm all caught up.

Another GREAT piece of news - for four nights in a row, Liam has slept through the night!!! Do you want to know the secret? A space heater. Yes, you read that right. My child WAS COLD. It makes perfect sense, because in Korea they tend to bundle up and crank the heat, so I guess he was really used to that. We aren't suffocating him with heat or anything, but it's a low, mild fan that just warms his room a little more than the rest of our rooms. Kurt tried it several nights ago, and lo and behold, he slept three hours longer than he had been! We thought for sure it was a fluke, but it has worked the last several nights! He has been fighting naps terribly, but I would rather have good night sleep than good naps any day. I'm sure the sleep thing will fluctuate, but right now we're in a good phase and I'm praying it sticks around. :)

This week we're taking Liam to our pediatrician for the first time, and I'm excited to get him all checked out. We have a few things we're asking him about, and, like the haircut thing, I know it will make me feel like Liam's mom even more.

I have several blog posts in the back of my head that I know I want to write, but if anyone has specific questions you'd like to ask, this will keep it all in one place. So feel free (within reason) to ask. :) We're doing really well, and we think Liam is a remarkable little boy who brings so much sunshine to our family!

October 27, 2011

God Redeems!

Thank you, THANK YOU for all of your support after my last post. I felt so good writing my thoughts out because I knew that yall would receive it with love and I hoped it would help others. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by friends, family, and other bloggers who are supportive and totally get where I am. What started out as my hardest day ended up being my best that I've had with the two babies. Tonight we were eating dinner together, and we had a musical on in the background, and we were just playing together. This video captures our new normal, and as I was filming I had this huge peace from God. I'm so thankful. :) Pause my playlist in the right column to hear the video.

Bringing Liam Home - Seoul Tower

The day after we got Liam, we started the day by Skyping with my sister Andrea, my mom, and Evy Kate! It was their first time to see Liam and it was so fun to watch them interact! Then we decided to go and see Seoul Tower! It was something I really wanted us to experience, and I'm SO glad we went! We had to do a really intense uphill hike to get to where the cable cars were, and then we took a cable car/gondola up to the Seoul Tower area.

A Korean tradition is to put a lock at Seoul Tower. It originated with couples doing it to signify eternal love, and now just about everyone leaves a lock. It's so, so cool to see thousands of locks and it was so worth the effort to get there to hang a lock! We bought one there, and it has two hearts - one for Evy and one for Liam.

It was a gorgeous day with perfect weather, and it was a highlight of the trip for me!

Some things are universal....

I used a BabyHawk Oh Snap! Carrier and it was great!

Before we started the major uphill climb, we stopped at Paris Baguette for lunch.

This is only a portion of the locks at Seoul Tower!


Helping Hands and a Haircut

Last night, Kurt and I went to choir practice at church. It was our first time to kind of officially be out of the house and it was our first time at church since returning from Korea. It was SO GOOD to sing and be around people!! I just enjoyed seeing scenery that wasn't my house. We went home and then proceeded to have a really rough night as far as sleep goes. Well, I take that back. Relatively speaking, Liam has been doing so, so well with sleep. He seems to know when nighttime is, and he proceeds to do a pretty good stretch, but last night he woke up at 4:00am, and we just can't start the day then. It was sporadic as far as sleeps goes from that point on, and I finally got up with him for the day a little before 8:00am. Somewhere in between all the wakings, etc., he had a really bad diaper situation that needed cleaning up right away. I got him all fresh and we went downstairs. I put on my Mormon Tabernacle Choir program because I just needed something soothing. Liam seemed to like it, and he clapped when the audience applauded. :) I gave him his bottle and then we went and got Evy when she woke up at 9:00.

I really struggled this morning, though. Emotionally I was in a really bad place and I found myself acting so out of character, it almost scared me. I found myself praying over and over for the enemy to get out of my head, because that's what was happening, I promise you. I have been on guard about post adoption depression (like post partum depression), and while there have definitely been times that I've had some symptoms, it's nothing I would consider full-fledged or in need of medication (and I'm very frank and honest about recognizing the need for a diagnosis or medication). I definitely think that, like post partum depression, you can experience episodes or symptoms without it becoming crippling or dangerous.

Thankfully, last night I had planned with my mom for us to take the kids out to a restaurant for lunch. The Lord knew I would need this, and I'm glad I plowed ahead and got my makeup on, got us dressed, and proceeded with our plans. My dad ended up coming too, and we went to one of my favorite lunch places. Liam did great while eating out! Evy was her usual sweet self, and it was so, SO incredibly therapeutic to talk through my feelings with my parents. My dad does a lot of counseling, and he said to me, "Keep repeating to yourself what you know is true. You know it's going to get better, and you know that you have help. You know that God will equip you minute by minute. Just keep telling yourself what you know is true." That helped me so much. I described the days since we've been home as having a fog around them. Even when I've gone out (only two times) in my car, I have felt like there was a veil over everything. Honestly, I really feel like most of it is just fatigue. Once we get the sleep thing straightened out, I know we will ALL be in a much better place.

We finished a great lunch and then my dad had to get back to the office. My mom and I got in the car and I just didn't want to go home. I had been wanting to get Liam a haircut, and I decided that now was the time. I had planned to document the whole thing and get pictures, but then I just decided to quit being so OCD and just get the haircut - ha! We walked into Master Cuts in the mall and a sweet lady named Rose cut Liam's hair. He looks so cute now! I promise I'll grab a picture soon! He sat in my lap and I had to hold him down, but overall he did well. We stopped in Hallmark so Mom could get a couple of cards, and that was a whole new experience for Liam. He was like a kid in a candy store; wanting to touch everything!

I really am writing all of these things so I remember, but also with the goal of helping others. I just want yall to know my personal experience. I want to be careful how I say this, because each child and each situation is different, but in the adoption world, a TON of emphasis is placed on the adoption experts, what they say you should do, what happens if you don't do things a certain way with an adopted child, etc. There are a lot of recommendations about attachment and bonding issues, and I'm NOT saying those shouldn't be heeded. However, in my experience, I wouldn't be surviving right now without the help of family members. Also, a lot of people recommend staying really close to the house and not overwhelming an adopted child early. I'm usually a homebody (through and through) but I would be going out of my ever-loving mind right now if I hadn't gotten out of the house last night and today. I'm telling you that it's okay to go with your gut instinct and do what you know will make your mind more healthy. I knew in my gut that going out to eat with Liam, and doing simple things like taking him for a haircut would make him feel more like my son and not just like I'm babysitting. That might sound ridiculous, but how I feel right now is proof that I was right. When we got home, I felt lighter and I felt like I had done a few "Mom" things with both kids in tow. It made a huge difference in my mental state.

I feel like my posts lately are nothing by pyschological mumbo jumbo - haha! I really am doing well and so are Kurt, Evy and Liam. But these are the real feelings and issues that you deal with. When you've gone through a major upheaval or life change, sometimes really simple things make a world of difference. For me today, it was going to lunch and taking Liam for a haircut. :)

October 26, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again!

I am so pleased to be writing a post for Shutterfly again! We've used Shutterfly every year for our Christmas cards since getting married in 2007, and we've been pleased every single time! I love that Shutterfly gives a high-end look and feel for a very reasonable price. I feel like all of their products are affordable. Snail-mail correspondance is rare these days, and I think it's really fun to send a memorable and unique Christmas card to your friends and family!

Here are a few designs I love:

I really like traditional, classic designs that are unique and still a little different. I also like the option of using one photo or several, depending on how well the family photo shoot goes - ha! Shutterfly is great because a lot of their cards offer different color options. For instance, in the card immediately above, you can choose a green border instead of red.

I've mentioned this before, but I also love to give photo calendars to our parents and grandparents. It's the perfect gift, because it lasts all year long and is so cheery to look at each day! Shutterfly is a great one-stop shop for other photo gifts, which in my opinion are a no-brainer when you have cute kids!

Yall know how I love my Christmas card and letter each year, and I love receiving them too. I am so happy to endorse Shutterfly and encourage you to use them for your Christmas cards, gifts, and more. I can't believe it's that time of year again, and I'm so excited!

Happy shopping!

Are you a blogger? Want a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season? Register here!

October 25, 2011

Still Adjusting.....

We're still here and still alive - ha! We're continuing in the same pattern of trying to get adjusted to not only having two kids, but simple body clock issues too. I think that's been the hardest thing - it's so hard to get into a "normal" routine when your body isn't cooperating.

For instance, here's how last night/today went. Liam went to bed around 8:10 or so in the evening. We just couldn't hold him off any longer. He went down great (as he has been) in his crib. I'll be honest - I've been living for the evening time after both babies are in bed so I can just sit and try to let my mind catch up with what's happening, keep the blog caught up (simply so I don't forget these days), and just relax with some TV. However, the downside is that my body wakes up around 6:00-7:00pm and is WIRED at night. I have to fight so hard to go to bed. I took some melatonin last night (because I know it won't completely knock me out cold) and went to sleep around 1:00am. Liam slept soundly until I woke up to him crying at 5:30am. However, I'm a sound sleeper so I'm not sure if he started right then or before. I am so, so happy it seems he had a long, sound stretch of sleep! However, I had only been sleeping 4.5 hours, so it was just brutal. I checked on him off and on, and we finally just got up for the day at 8:00am. I gave him his bottle and then Evy woke up at 9:15. My mom came over and at 10:15 I decided to try and give Liam a morning nap (which didn't work). My mom was so sweet and watched both babies - I crashed on my bed and accidentally fell asleep from 10:30-1:00pm!

The difference today was that I woke up at 1:00 feeling somewhat rested, whereas the last two days I've woken up feeling like it was still the middle of the night. Mom went home and I threw on shoes and sunglasses and put the babies in the car just so I could see the light of day. We drove to Chic Fil A and went through the drive-thru. It was weird to have both Evy and Liam in the backseat, and honestly I felt like I was driving through my city for the first time. It's exactly how I felt when we brought Evy home from the hospital - just twilight zone! But it was great to see sunlight and just drive, if only for a few minutes.

The babies went down easily for naps at 2:00 and I took a shower. I was thankful just to feel more awake than I have the last several days! Evy woke up from her nap at 4:30, and I was able to spend some great one-on-one time with her. We watched some of the Disney Christmas Parade (yes, it's still saved on my DVR) and another Disney show I taped that shows the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique that Evy loves. We sat together and cuddled, and then we went and woke Liam up a little after 5:00. He's been pretty grumpy after naps lately, and today was no exception. It was no fun. Thankfully Kurt was home and we kind of tag teamed it. Kristal and Chad brought over a delicious meal, which was awesome! Kurt took Liam and Evy outside so I could just eat in peace. I watched an old Duggar episode to calm myself (ha!) and ate, and then went outside and we all played a bit.

Something made Liam flip a switch and he was the happiest he's been in the evening tonight! It still had its touch and go moments but overall he was the happy baby we knew in Korea (when he wasn't dying of jet lag). He and Evy played together well and it was a little taste of what I know will be our reality. He was so happy that we were able to hold bedtime off until 8:40pm! Hopefully that means he'll sleep a little later tomorrow morning. Evy went down at 9:00 and now we'll do the whole thing over again.....haha!

I don't plan to chronicle every single day, simply because that's not my style, but maybe this will help those who are about to adopt, or thinking about it, etc. just see what those inital days are like. A lot of people have asked how we've bonded with Liam and what those feelings are like. Right now we can truly say that we care extremely deeply for our son, much like I would feel if I had a newborn. And just like a biological child, love grows and develops over time. You create memories and moments with a child and that deepens the love. I think we're in the early process of that now. I'm not going to hide anything - it's been very, very hard at certain moments. I hesitate to use the phrase "what have we done?", because that's not accurate. We've always been confident in the fact that God called us to do this and would equip us, which He has. But there HAVE been moments when we've looked each other and said "AAAGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" :) I promise you, I think we'd be having these feelings if I had just come home from the hospital with a new baby. It's very similar feelings, and yet different at the same time. If anyone wants to talk more about this, feel free to email me. I'll share as I feel led and comfortable.

Overall, we've been in the trenches the last few days and it's been very hard and very tiring. We're having to make decisions about how to deal with things and what to let go until a later time. For instance, Liam was used to kind of "grazing" around a Korean-style table at mealtimes, which is low to the ground and easy for him to access. We noticed that sitting in a high chair was just really frustrating for him and he wasn't eating well. So tonight Kurt fed him from a plate as they were kind of sitting together on the couch or Kurt would bend down and give him some bites on the go. It helped Liam's mood and it helped him eat more. On the other end of things, we knew co-sleeping was something we weren't comfortable with and we made that change immediately. Liam has responded great and sleeps soundly in his crib. His only issue is putting himself back to sleep if he wakes up too early. All that to say, if you're wanting my advice, really think about what is important to change right away and what you can deal with later. It helps prioritize things and it makes decision-making easier.

Whew! That's a long post, but I wanted to keep everyone up to date on what's been going on with us. We're hanging in there and we see small improvements each day. God is really sustaining us and I want to say publicly that I could never do this without Kurt, Kurt's mom, and my mom. The three of them have really held me up and I'm so appreciative. Also, thank yall so much for your comments about the pictures I've posted. They are treasures to us.

Thank you for the support!

October 24, 2011

Liam's Family Day, Photographed by Romin Lee Johnson

October 18th, 2011 was a day that changed our lives forever. Here are our pictures from Liam's Family Day, photographed with incredible love and talent by Romin Lee Johnson. Romin, we are grateful and bonded forever!

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