Monday, September 22, 2014

A {LONG} Walk Down the Streets of Seoul

I am starting a mini series on my Seoul {Big-Girl-Camera} photos that I've finally gotten around to processing.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy taking in this beautiful place part of our hearts will always call home.

At the Mecenatpolis mall, right next to Holt (Hapjeong Station, Exit 10 comes up in the mall), there is a children's theatre where they feature Big Nut Brown Hare and Little Nut Brown Hare from Guess How Much I Love You.  This is such a special book/tv series for me and P.  I would love to take the boys when we go back, but not sure Jack Cruz can sit through this.  

This man was AH-MAY-ZING.  He was handicapped in that he was missing his right hand.  And yet, he used what he had to create the MOST AMAZING wooden art pieces, most of which featured Bible scripture.  This guy and his work could easily bring you to tears.  Especially when you realize how few 'special needs people' you see in South Korea due to them not being accepted into society as readily as we would expect.  He was a testimony to every person who faces a challenge.  Different is truly beautiful.  (I hope this little paragraph would be honoring to him and his country.  I mean this very respectfully.)
 (He was located in front of City Hall along the wall of Deoksugung Palace.)

Working for Alabama Power, the electrical lines fascinated Justin.  We have several photos of transformers and their many wirings.  Our photographer and friend, Dylan, shared with us that sometimes when you see an electrical crew, they will literally be up in a bucket truck flipping through a manual to try to figure out which line goes where...I would guess OSHA might not approve!

We took photos and got sentimental every time we saw a construction crew.  I can't wait for Mr. P to see all the excitement and big machines this city has to offer.  

This shop.  Smelled of divine coffee (though I don't like to drink it) and played Christmas music ALL DAY LONG.  In short, it was like walking by paradise.  Michael Buble was playing as we walked by this day. 

If you are looking at the main palace, Gyeongbokgung, this is down the right side like you are walking toward Hannok village).   

The air conditioners were fascinating.  They gave the power lines a run for their money.  There were so many buildings that resembled this.  

Gusto Taco.  Made famous and kept in business by American adoptive families.  
(Sangsu Line 6, exit 1, on a road that starts with W)

Butterfinger Pancakes.  Even more delicious than Gusto Taco.  If that's possible.
Serves breakfast...and EVERYTHING else.  Seriously, if you are in Seoul, GO THERE.
(Gangnum province... we walked and taxied so not exactly sure where this is, but FIND IT.  There's also a batting cage across the street.)

These ice cream cones are located in street vendor shops.  They are surprisingly delicious, if you don't get a stale 'cone'. 

A beautiful side street... we were lost! ;)

As Dylan declared, "The Land of Connectivity."

This gorgeous shop added to my theory that Seoul is the most densely populated wizarding city in the world.  These wands were advertised to us Muggles as paintbrushes for traditional rice paper paintings. ;)  You purchase your flying broomsticks in the market places.  

At the end (not the paintbrush side-ironically enough) of Insadong, on the left.  

There is a McDonald's at the M mall near Holt.

The famous Miso play being advertised on a side street that we were lost on.  

Gorgeous night life.

THE most delicious American junk food is located right under this guy.  I don't remember the little pub's name, but it is exit 12 on line 3, I believe (let me check with Justin to make sure I'm right on that.)  It is an amazing place to go if its raining (it was POURING the night we ate here) because the basement of the building where its located is attached to the subway system.  There was also a Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant there.   

Despite the enormous-city-ness that is Seoul, it has so much charm on every corner.

There was a heritage festival going on in the main square by our apartment one afternoon.  Shrek was in attendance, dressed as a Korean Ogre.  

Cute charming signs.

Korean fruit.

Flower shops EVERYWHERE.  I told Justin that if we ever move to Seoul I expect fresh flowers once a week.  

This sweet street vendor was set up here every day.  Can you believe that little lady is able to wheel that cart around?

She is at the corner of Deoksugung Palace near City Hall.

Heritage festival with girls playing a traditional game.

Gorgeous umbrellas at the M mall near Holt.

The Sewol Ferry Tragedy is still so fresh on everyone's hearts.  There are yellow ribbons and protestors throughout the city.  Its really heartbreaking.

A beautiful, peaceful protest at the main Gwanhwamun square.  

{thankful for}
fresh fruit
people using their God-given talents
culture and rich history
rainbow umbrellas

Friday, September 12, 2014

Halfway to Final Approval!!

Today marks the 7th day in our mandatory '14 business day wait' since the holidays of Chuseok didn't count towards those dates.

And we are SO excited and literally dreaming of holding our boy in our arms once again.

...It's hard to wake up from those dreams.

{thankful for}
waking up to my blondie
knowing little bit's shoe size
that he knows who we are
the arms he's snuggling in right now
knowing how loved he is by so many all over the world

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Say Cheeseburger!

My Pman had yet another dental appointment yesterday {Jack Cruz PLEASE have good teeth!}

Where he ended up on antibiotics...

and another potential procedure scheduled for two weeks out...

The dentist's only saving grace is the fact that they have built in TVs on the ceiling and are almost always playing Despicable Me.

But seriously, if you're a momma dealing with bad teeth and surgery and procedure after procedure after procedure for your baby's teeth, just give me a call and we'll chat.  Or cry.  Or just go out for Mexican. 

{thankful for}
the opportunity to take my child to the dentist- no matter how agonizing te trip is for all involved
Dr Gru
grow animals
a cheerful giver 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Jack Cruz! {Wednesday}

We woke up with great anticipation for the day AND a mission: Find somewhere to print some photos.  By this point we'd tried five other options and I was entertaining the idea of having to leave Jack Cruz without him having 'together' photos.  But when all else failed, we went to the kinkos at the bottom of our apartment building and just asked that they print a few out on cardstock, but low and behold they had photo paper too!  Wahoo!!!! 

We headed to our agency early, but whose surprised to know that Jack Cruz was already in the lobby waiting for us?  Such a sweet boy.  After a hug from our boy, we also had the privilege of meeting Appa, Noona, and her beautiful little daughter.  

Then off to lunch we went.  Jack Cruz walked hand in hand with J and I...I think mostly because he knew we'd let him JUMP the whole way!

We arrived at a traditional BBQ restaraunt where we sat on the floor with our shoes at the front door.  As soon as Jack Cruz saw the birthday cake we'd brought, it was a done deal.  I got a quick terrible shot of the cake about .2 seconds after JC's hand went in it!! :D Gotta be quick with this one.  A quick Happy Birthday was sung and the cake was fair game.

He absolutely loved feeding us bites, which really were gargantuan pieces.  

And can I just say this anti chocolate cake Momma ate her body weight of that stuff?! I told Justin he didn't dare let this kid get ahold of Octopus bc everything in his hands went into my mouth! 

It tickles me that he trusts us enough to let us feed him and that he enjoys feeding us.  

After lunch, our foster family took us to one of Jack Cruz's favorite parks, Olympic Park.  (The second we parked it started raining.) It was next door to the Olympic Soccer stadium and was really beautiful.  Across from it was a beautiful mountain with a trail and park called Sky Park.  I cannot even believe she was able to hike so high with my baby on her back!  Omma was able to show me some photos I had received previously and tell me where they were taken.  

As soon as we got there, Jack Cruz went nuts!! He totally knew where he was and ran straight for the water.  He loved to splash and giggle and 'reach' for the ducks.  He also loved picking the flowers (sorry Korean flower pot arrangers...) and throwing them in the water.  He was sweet enough to give me one!  

He's also quite the photographer and got several great selfies with our iPhones.  We certainly love all his close ups. 

That's of course when he isn't 90 to nothing.  Nurse Lee made sure to tell me numerous times that she nicknamed him Power Man!  Too cute.  And boy does her nickname hold true for our little fella. He is FAST and STRONG...and of course, AWESOME. 

He was soaking wet from all his playing in the rain and had to change clothes before we got back in the car.  I loved that not only did Omma dress him in his special birthday outfit, but she changed him into clothing from us as well.  She's so sweet and considerate!

It melts my heart to see what an Appa's boy he is.  Our boy is SO LOVED. 

Goodbye was hard...very hard...but it was quick which made it a lot easier.  Kinda like ripping a bandaid off.  And it was also in the middle of the busy road in the pouring rain, which thankfully gave some laugh factor to it and J and I were able to squish across the street and giggle a little too.  And there was talk of me deserving new shoes since my favorites are pretty much now ruined.  

Just for my memory...I want to remember the embrace from Omma and how she had JC 'telling me' Omma, Kwin cha na, Omma, Kwin cha nah (Mommy, it's ok.  Mommy, it's ok.) and those precious kisses, until next time, in the rain.  We not only love and were sad to leave Jack Cruz, but this amazing extended family we now have as well.  

We thought this was our last time going through the subway but then later decided to conclude our trip at J's favorite Korean restaraunt, Gusto Taco.  (My fave was The Butterfinger Pancake, but we didn't want to go all the way to Gangnam.) 

I tried to pay for extra cheese but the sweet girl wouldn't let me.  I thought that meant no extras, but then she told me she'd put lots of extra on ours!  And for the record, the menu says these nachos serve four, but I can assure you, J and I had no problem taking these down. 

And the cool storefront.  

Happy Birthday Jack Cruz.  It was an amazing day, and the privilege to love you is unspeakable.  We can't wait until Forever. 

{thankful for}
our children
a precious woman choosing birth
a precious woman choosing to 'mom the gap'
God's amazing timing, allowing us to spend this sacred day with the other family who loves him as much as we do
fun in the rain
grape juice
belly laughs
popos and ah nas
chocolate cake 

A Taste of the Country {Tuesday}

We woke up SUPER early to go a few hours out of the city to visit Jack Cruz's birth city.  

We had to go {up} these two flights of stairs.  Never more have I felt more like a samon swimming upstream. 

We took the Korail a looooong way out.  

On the outskirts of Jack Cruz's beautiful city is Nami Island.  We hopped on a ferry with another handful of people and rode about 5 minutes over to the island. 

It was absolutely gorgeous and amazing and I cannot wait to get big girl camera photos loaded once we're home.  Since we arrived super early, there was hardly anyone else on the island and it was super breezy and cool.  So peaceful.  At about 11:00 when we were heading our people started coming in in DROVES.  So if you're gonna go- go super early!

Obligatory kissy pic.  (And yes we both look like silly fish bc we were trying not to laughs!). If you're a KDrama fan, this is where the two main characters share their first kiss in Winter Sonata.  


I loved all the sweet little walkways.  I bet this one is beautiful at night!  (This was taken as we were leaving.  I'm so glad to have several shots on my camera with no other people in them.) 

These Lily pads and blooms were ENORMOUS.  They were each between 2-3 feet high and about 8 inches in diameter.  

And then after all the serenity amongst the island there's...this.  

And if you guessed that it is a representation of two Chinese rivers and how they 'feed' the land around them, then you would be correct!  Go you!! 

And this is where it gets really interesting.  I wish I had more cell pics but I took so many on my real camera that I didn't really have time to snap with this too. 

We took the train further out into the heart of Chuncheon City and then hopped into a cab and asked him to take us to the best Dakgalbi place he knew.  And this is where we ended up.  And when I say we landed in the middle of 'no English', I'm exaggerating none.  

But, a few laughs later, and we'd managed to order the famous Chuncheon City Dakgalbi- a spicy grilled chicken dish. 

They dressed us in aprons and we were ready to dig in.

Justin devoured 3/4 of it, while kitty and I shared the rest. ;)

This cat was so sweet and cute.  I named it Galbi.  If it wasn't for knowing it'd be a pain in the rear to get it through immigration, he would have come home with us. 

And for those that say we aren't adventurous eaters, I give you the origin of my cabbage and kindly dispute your claim.  

J became a chopstick master and enjoyed rubbing his new talent in my face.  Whatevs.  I'm the one that managed to use my mad Hanguel skills well enough to produce us some cokes.  Bam. 

I reallllllly loved where we ate.  It was such a hole-in-the-wall family restaraunt. There was a huge garden that I feel certain was where the produce we ate was grown.  One of the servers also went down to the flower bed while we were eating to weed some.  It just felt like home.  Gorgeous mountains, a quiet little river running at the bottom of the garden, and a screened in porch for lunch.  The family pet and some good BBQ.  A cool breeze blowing and good conversation with your hunny bunny. What more could you ask for? 

After lunch, J was very ready to get us back to some civilization.  He loves adventure, but also wants someone to be able to find our bodies should things go really south.  

From here on out, I only shot with my camera, but I want to remember some details too.

We took a bus back to the station, and on the way I was able to quickly capture some other major landmarks and attractions.  I really think Chuncheon City is similar to where we live.  You have the beautiful country side that within 20-30 minutes commute feeds into the city.  

J and I both couldn't help but wonder if the people we passed on the street could have any relation to our sweet boy.  It was very emotional for me to look out over the country and city and imagine my baby's life if he were staying in Korea.  Obviously there is so much of me that's ecstatic for the life he'll live at home with us, but it's also sad for me to think that he won't grow up where he was 'supposed to.'  Adoption is beautiful, but it's a beautiful heartbreaking mess at first.  So thankful for the redemption that God promises and how gracefully he weaves beauty from ashes. 

There are mountains everywhere in Chuncheon City and it's surrounded by big, beautiful lakes.  It's an outdoorsman's paradise.  There were hikers and bikers all over.  They say because of the location among all the lakes that it's often very foggy.  It also has four distinct seasons, like Alabama....or atleast in theory. 

I also noticed that there were numerous gardens and little flower beds.  Even in what appeared to be the poorer parts of the countryside and city, the flower beds made things happy and homey.  It was a beautiful land that will forever hold a very special place in our hearts. 

And what's a day in Korea without a little subway card #murphreekdrama ??? ;)

We did a little grocery store 'window shopping' where we viewed the local delacacies...

And Justin found his FAVORITE drink ever-banana milk. 

The mall was decked out in beautiful 'Christmas lights' so naturally Justin had to act out a few scenes from Elf.

Seriously, there's no one I'd rather spend two weeks in the other side of the world with than this guy.  He's great.  Especially when he starts belting out,"I'M SINGING.  A SONG.  FOR MY DAD!...."

{thankful for}
a mother's choice
the beauty of his homeland
His good and perfect plan made from our brokenness 
lily pads
first and millionth kisses
extra subway cards
a Korean market back home to buy my babies some banana milk

Our Adoption Timeline

  • June 19, 2011- We are officially "Paper Pregnant!" We have submitted our Waiting Child Application to Holt!
  • July 5, 2011- Submitted our formal Home Study Application to Villa Hope
  • September 6, 2011- Submitted all of our paperwork for our Home Study
  • October 8, 2011- Completed our First Home Visit
  • October 17, 2011- Completed our Second Home Visit
  • November 14, 2011- Home Study Approved
  • December 1, 2011- Filed our I600a
  • February 1, 2012- I600a Approval Letter
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