Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Gotcha Day Charlie

Hard to believe that six years ago on 10/6 we arrived home from Korea with Charlie. He's all over this Gotcha Day event. He started off by telling his classmates that it's a day where he gets presents ... huh! Who wouldn't want to have a gotcha day. He then ... with my coaching ... told his classmates that it was the day he met his mom and dad and left American. Huh! I'm sure the teachers really scratching her head by now. So this morning, I told him ... if they ask ... it's the day our family celebrates adoption. Can you hear it now .... What's Adoption? Well good news is his teachers going on +30 years ... she can deal with this.

Charlie does have a way of bending the stories. He told his class that after Christmas we were moving to some place colder ... huh! Translate, we are skiing in Steamboat for a week sometime after the Christmas Holiday.

Jet is totally into the Gotcha Day events too. I'm letting him skip soccer practice! He deserves it ... he played in 3 tournament games this last weekend, two practices last week and has two more games this weekend. I mean goodness ... do the professionals play this much!!!
So Jet being Jet and Charlie following suit tried to parlay this day into a day off of school. HA! Nice Try!
(Picture of Charlie at the soccer fields ... where else would we be on weekends)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Charlie's First Day at Spring Ave Kindergarten!

Charlie with neighbor Lillian Pendergast (brown curls) before walking into class

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are You Ready For Some School?

Not For School But We Are Definitely ready for some College Football. Our mission for this year ... letting the big 10 know that some Huskers are in the house. Yes we may not be officially part of the Big 10 until next year but let's do a little rabble raising and let them know that we are on our way. Thanks to Missouri (pronounced Missoure ... unless you are from the state ... then it's MissourA ... but actually there is an I on the end of Missouri which may stand for "idiot" or "I ... as in me ... as in I am most important ... so important I'm going to screw up a really good conference". So because of the "I" in Missouri ... Nebraska (ending with an "A" as in "all encompassing" ... is now a part of the big 10 .... participating next year in some awesome football in our own backyard. So you Huskers ... we encourage you to make the 7 hour voyage across the vast wasteland known as Iowa (soon to be one of the Husker downtrodden ... to Chicago-land where great Big 10 football is just a stones throw away: Northwestern, Purdue, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State ... if we want to travel farther than 3 hours ... there's Minnesota, Ohio State, Pennsylvania, Michigan and if we venture into the land of Catholics ... a mere 2 hours to Notre Dame. GO HUSKERS!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Picture worth a thousand words

At breakfast this morning,
Mom: Jet school starts tomorrow, are you excited?

Finally a break from the heat! We can sit outside at the sidewalk cafes!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Go Blue!

I admit it, I was a skeptic when Jet tried out for the traveling soccer team and made it. I was super skeptical when I learned about the cost and then became a really grouchy skeptic when I learned that this last weekend would be spent about an hour away from home at a soccer tournament. 4 games and not one of them within 3 hours of the next.

So in my crabby state we headed up to the first game. Then I saw the team and coaches in action. Not only is it about soccer skills, it's about discipline. Shirts are tucked & uniforms pristine, no goofing on the bench, benched players wear a netted jersey which gets passed off as they go in and out of the game, bags lined up orderly, players (not parents) are to keep up with their stuff. even the march to the trophy presentation was orderly.

This was the teams first outing together and they faired pretty well. Even with all the offsides calls, we ended up in second place (not bad for only 3 weeks of play).

On Jet's team are two other friends from his school. They really do have fun together. Even Charlie enjoyed the games. It was hot so he and the cutest 6 yr old girl (jet's teammates little sister) huddled under a tent and played gogo's, ate ice cream and drank soda. Kinda thinkin that Charlie may be the smartest of the group!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Who Needs Stinkin Disney!

Our boys do not ... thus our latest vacation theory proved out. Our vacation this summer was back to Omaha Nebraska to see Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. Aunt Anne (my sista) and her brew from Texas were visiting. Zoe, Matt and Gracie are close in age to Jet and Charlie. They get together once a year for a seriously good romp, usually at the expense of Grandpa's sanity and Grandma's basement. I knew it was a good time when Jet leaned over to me at the movie theatre and whispered in my ear, "Mom this is so much fun!". Well we'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

These pictures are from the Union Pacific History museum where the kids were danced around the bonfire and goofed around in a TeePee ... totally defiling any shred of dignity and pride that the Omaha Indian tribe was trying to establish with this exhibit!

Well touche' pussycat ... we (as in Anne and I) have pictures of Jet and Matt (leaders in the Omaha Indian Tribe defiling) with their pants hiked up 5" above their belly buttons (see the second picture). Let me tell you boys ... these will be trotted out at the first wedding rehearsal dinner. Chief Blackhawk will have his revenge!

One funny Fred (grandpa) moment:
Charlie (in the middle of everyone in earshot): Mom, what's that on Grandpa (pointing to his oxygen tank)
Mom: Charlie, that helps Grandpa breath.
Charlie: Why does Grandpa need help to breath?
Mom (thinking this is a great teaching moment): Well Charlie, Grandpa smoked cigarettes and that's what happens when you smoke.
Charlie (totally not comprehending what I just said replies): No (thinking about it)I just think he's old.

Mind you ... this whole conversation (including the pointing) is taking place in front of Grandpa who has total denial that he needs a hearing aid.
Grandpa: What ?? What is he saying???
Mom: That you look great dad!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn

That's what I couldn't get out of my mind on our latest adventure. How did we get here? It started with the ripping out of a very aggressive english ivy on our side yard. I kept finding worms ... big beautiful earthworms. Well next thing we know Charlie is digging up the worms for his 'pets' and putting them in a coffee tin. We talked him into not bringing his new 'pets' into the house by telling him that these were great to fish with. OK .... NOW you know how we got to the flooded fishing hole on a hot buggy Sunday. We first had to locate a spot to cast in. Since it was obvious that this river in a local forest preserve had also flooded last week(swampy banks, smelly odors and washed up trash were our first clues), it was tough to find a spot to cast in. We finally wound our way to the bridge. One side trash build up from the flood creating a dam and the other side (the side we opted to cast in on) brown muddy swirling water. No way a fish could see even 1/2" in front of him much less spot our worms from a distance.

Charlie had a "special" pole. It has a green plastic fish on the end that we were told is really good fish bait. Charlie can be a bit impulsive ... we didn't want any eyeballs poked out on this adventure!
So Jet cast in 4 times before his reel froze up. Charlie was fishing for fish and salmon. He was going to bring the fish home as pets. Somehow we don't think salmon is spawning in our local flooded creek.

We ended up packing up our bait and tackle, headed for the car and decided that we'd find a hole to cast in on our trip to Omaha where the floods hadn't effected the good fishing.

I guess for now Charlie's new 'pets' will be the big beautiful earthworms who reside in their very own home on our front stoop.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Culture Camp Week!

This is our favorite week of the whole summer! We went to our third
year of Korean Culture Camp in Itasca Il called Camp Pride. It's a fun filled week full of Korean food, Tae Kwon Do, Crafts, Korean Songs, Korean story telling and friends. The boys managed to get in Bakugans, Crazy Bone Go-Go's in addition to the Korean stuff. If that last sentence made absolutely no sense ... it's because you do not have boys in second grade ... the latest fade. The best part of camp is seeing old friends. Jet and Charlie got reacquainted with friends they made over the last two years. Jet's special friend Andrew was there again this year and Charlie developed a close friendship with a boy named Joey. I volunteered by working the lunchroom all 5 days. It's the best job! I get to watch the kids come in for Tae Kwon Do or on the playground. I get to visit the market each day to shop for Korean Antiques and items. I get to eat with my boys all the yummy Korean food. But best is seeing my friends - the other parent volunteers - with whom I've developed friendships with over the last three year.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Flood of 2010

Hey kid ... don't wade in that ... there's sewage in them there waters! No really ... you idiot ... oh well ... just watch out for turds!

Unfortunately this is the cross street closest to our house ... and the river/street still had to crest. A kayak (no joke) was seen ambling down the road about 1/2 hour later. We ended up with soggy spots in our basement carpet and 1/3" in our mechanical room but other than that ... we came out pretty good. On the street behind us .... you are looking towards it in this pic, the basements had much more water and damage. If you zoom in on this pic, you will see cars submerged up to the windows that unfortunately miss gauged the water's depth.
"Hey you idiot don't drive in through that ... No really it's deep ... Geez ... see what happens! Idiot! Just watch out for floating turds when you get out." Even in the hottest of summers or the coldest of winters ... La Grange is a front yard community ... meaning every one is always outdoors, usually in the front yard and depending on what time of day ... either with a hot cup of joe or a cold brew (adults of course). Well we were all out about 8:30am, cup of joe in hand, dazed .... confused, staring at the river that used to be Kensington Ave. As my neighbor Mike put it, "It looks like the morning after". We were pajama clad zombies, with our coffee wondering what to do next. Not much you can do but get another cup of coffee and take photo's of the damage.

We figured our sump pump bit the dust about 1/2 way through the storm. Over 8" was too much for it to handle ... it just quit. As I type, we have two industrial dehumidifiers and 8 industrial fans going in the basement. It sounds like we are living on the G concourse at Ohare. No joke, it's white noise at it's finest.

All told we were lucky ... a plumber showed up at 9am and replaced the sump and redirected the water. He also said our back up sump was malfunctioning ... "Really" I replied, "you sold it to us two years ago". "Well warranties are only a year on back up sumps" he retorted back. Great ... you idiot. The boys have had a new word added to their vocabulary today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Multitasking at it's best

Charlie sleeping and perfecting his Yoga Moves! A True Jedi Warrior!

July 4th and Juli's Visit

Our good friend Juli came to visit us over July 4th weekend. We spent July 4th watching fireworks and swimming at the pool we belong to. The kids had a great time swimming with their friends and staying up late to watch fireworks. They even tried their hand at the Hula Hoop. As you can see, we are not going to sign the boys up for any dance contests soon! Thanks for the fun visit Jules! We always love to see you! Hope to come to Minneapolis this fall with the boys. Maybe for a football game at the new U stadium. Next time I want to get video of you on the hoop!

Master Charlie and his Moonettes!

I'm in Love with you too Charlie!

Conversation between Charlie and his Dad this weekend:

Charlie: Dad, is mom you girlfriend?

Dad: Well, I guess you can say that ... yes Charlie.

Charlie: Well that too bad because I'm in Love with Mommy!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Boys of Summer or Lord of the Flies?

Sometimes it's a little of both! We live in a totally Americana village, right out of Norman Rockwell. I love it. On our block alone (20 houses) there are 26 kids ... mostly up to something outside. This winter we had three boys move into the house directly behind us (they lived 5 houses down before). So I tell folks that on somedays we have two boys and some days we have 5 boys. When they get together they are the loudest pack you'll ever meet. They come complete with an aresenal of weaponary that if it were real, they could take over a small country. They do have a grand time ... smoke bomb parties, ninja adventures, Star Wars adventures, pizza parties, movie nights and when they want to relax ... it's a rousing game of Mario on Wii. Nick and Jet were in the same class at school. Bobby and Charlie are the same age. Little Davey (the one with the weapon) holds his own, very well thank you. Fortunately we have very patient neighbors as this gang is wearing paths between yards.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Visit From The Smurfs

Actually it was a visit from the Murphy's but Jet kept calling them the smurfs ... which was funnier to us because we ACTUALLY did remember the funny, little blue people from the early 80's! It was great to see our good friends and in typical tradition ... too much good vino and too much good food!

I love it when the Murphy's come to visit. Our kids have known each other since arriving stateside and were in a small daycare together in Minneapolis. Just like the Ol' daycare days, all 5 kids crashed in one room and we were amazed that all were asleep by 10pm.

OK, I promised to blog more but my computer is being commadeered by the boys this summer. Geez enough of this wild GO GO Crazybones craze and website.

I do have one funny Charlie story to tell. We were all driving in the car last week when Charlie asked Chris this question:

Charlie: Dad, why do you have hair in your ears?

Dad (with mom chuckling): Because I'm old Charlie.

Charlie: You're not old daddy, you are just big!

Dad (mom chuckling louder): I'm old and big Charlie.

Charlie: Yah, you have a big belly.

WOW Charlie just sent three zingers over the front seat ... I slunk down so he wouldn't send any my way next!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're back!!!

We've been absent for a year but we are making a new founded effort to blog again. What happened in the last year? We took in a 16 year old exchange student from Korea. If you have teenagers you understand the logistics of sharing a computer with one ... you get what you need to get done then surrender the PC to them for homework, facebook, surfing and tweeting. I'm going to try and post an article that was printed in the last newsletter issue for Chicago Area Families for Adoption. It summarizes our year and gives you insight about life with a teenager. Not that this gets us completely up to date but it's a great place to launch back in.

Do you have your summer planned out yet? Our summer is shaping up to be a bit crazy. I’m feeling the need for an event planner to sort out our vacation trips, swim lessons, sports and camps. Never mind how I’m going to fit in my grocery trips, work-outs and other errands!

Our absolute top priority of the summer is Culture Camp. This will be our third year of attending and something that the entire family looks forward to. We love a week of ethnic food from our son’s country, Korean arts and crafts, Korean drum and dance classes, language lessons and most importantly, getting reacquainted with friends we’ve made over past years. It truly is one of our favorite weeks of the year. Check out the CAFFA website for a listing of camps, both locally and nationally. It is a special way to celebrate your child’s ethnicity!

This issue’s advice question (see page x) asks about your child’s feelings towards ethnicity. Since our children were adopted transracially, this is an issue I often ponder over. Sure, we try expose them to their culture as much as we can but are we doing enough? Are we doing too much?

This year we opened our home to a 16 year old Korean foreign exchange student. Ah Ram landed in Chicago from Pusan, South Korea on August 8, 2009. I remember this exhausted, quiet girl meeting us in baggage claim. What did she think seeing this loud, sign-waving, overly enthusiastic American family with whom she’d be a member of for the next 10 months? It must of been ...well ... a bit scary, honestly! She certainly was a trooper during the first weeks before school started. Our boys, then ages 6 & 7, couldn’t get enough of her and I’m sure that she did not appreciate the early morning wake-up calls compliments of her new younger brothers. Early in her stay, we dragged her all over Chicago to shops, museums, landmarks and restaurants. I can’t imagine how overwhelmed and exhausted she must have been. No matter how many language classes a person may have taken, it is not automatic assimilation when you arrive in the actual country where the language is spoken. It took Ah Ram a solid four months to really become at ease with translating English. She compensated during the first months by answering questions with “Yes No”. She always followed up a few seconds later with an actual answer of “Yes” or “No”. She just needed time to translate and it must of been very uncomfortable to have us, with our American attitude of ‘we need it now’, looking directly at her, waiting for an answer. In Korea a child does not look directly at a parent or an adult’s eyes. Unfortunately, it was one of those “yes no” answers that landed her in a sailboat on choppy Lake Michigan waters as she struggled to find the words to tell us about her motion sickness. We finally got it when she was leaning over the side of the boat.

About the same time Ah Ram’s english improved, she went from being a guest to being our daughter. She reached ‘rock star’ sister status when she moved the boys to World Seven in the latest Mario Wii game. I remember realizing that she had become my daughter while shopping for her high school homecoming dress. Every dress I held up for her, every dress that I thought she would look smashing in, was met with a very distinct thumbs-down “No”. I’ve heard of this happening with other mothers and now I was experiencing this first hand! My taste was totally uncool! I had earned “uncool mom taste” status in her eyes ... and I was so very pleased to have it. Really, it meant that we were family.

Ah Ram opened our world to local Korean grocery stores. I learned new Korean dishes and how to cook them. Our silverware drawer now contains many chopstick sets, our refrigerator now has jars of Kimchi, and our cupboards contain rice, noodles, teas and kimchi soups. We learned about Ah Ram’s school life in Pusan. She goes to school 6 days a week starting at 9 am and arriving home after 10 pm at night. Since she takes two meals at school, her only family time, on school days, is at breakfast. Our 7 hour school days are like a dream for a Korean student. Korean students only get 1 day off for Christmas. Imagine the revolt we’d have on our hands if we told our spoiled children that they only get Christmas Day off!

Education is first priority in Korean culture. Your GPA and college determine your success. Ah Ram came here to perfect her english and learn our culture. She needs to be fluent in speaking, reading, listening and writing english to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. Korean medical schools are taught in English. During Ah Ram’s first month at her new US high school, the US History teacher assigned Ah Ram to present a powerpoint presentation on Chinese Immigration in the U.S. to the class. This was Ah Ram’s first ever presentation which was, by the way, to be given in a foreign country, in a foreign language, about a foreign history and presented to a class of foreigners! Talk about pressure! She received a grade of an A. We are proud of the hard work that Ah Ram has put in at school and with improving her english.

Since we have young children, Ah Ram also opened our world to life with a teenager. Korean teenagers, like U.S. teenagers, love their facebook, computer games, mp3 players, cell phones and texting. Like most U.S. parents, we learned very quickly that you need to know how to use these devices to keep up with your children. There is so much out there now that our kids are exposed to. The more you educate and monitor these things, the safer your children will be. Yes, we had a few ‘parent to teenager’ discussions with Ah Ram and yes, those discussions are tough to have, but we made a commitment to her father that we would treat her as if she were our own daughter. This commitment we took very seriously and these discussions were done out of love and concern for her. For all you parents reading this who currently have teenagers, Korean children are taught to hold upmost respect for parents and adults so there was no talking back or challenging our words. I did love this cultural difference and if I somehow find a way to instill this attribute in my occasionally sassy-mouthed seven year old then I’ll make sure I share it in a future newsletter.

Well, by the time this issue hits your mailbox, Ah Ram will be going home to her family, friends and life in Korea. I’m getting teary-eyed as I write this. I joked with Ah Ram about how I cried when I put her on a bus for a week-long journey to Florida with 120 exchange students and how it’s not going to be pretty on that early June morning at the airport. Our objective in hosting an exchange student was to expand our families knowledge about our sons’ birth country and culture. We also hoped to make a connection that would last for our visit to Korea in 5-7 years. What we didn’t realize was the joy that we’d get from seeing Ah Ram grow to into a confident, beautiful young woman over the last year. Now that was priceless!

Ah Ram and the boys on our first day at the airport.