Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Korean Dol {Part 2}

We decided to have this party on Tuesday, just 3 days prior! And suprisingly, most people were able to make it. We had 18 people running around, which is a small number compared to the hundred or so that typically come to a real dol, but for us that was plenty. We started the evening with a Korean meal. Adam fixed some amazing bulgogi in the crock pot. Bulgogi is a tender marinated beef. We served this with rice, steamed vegetables, and watermelon. The food was a big hit and there was barely any left over. We will definitely have to continue cooking this meal.

After dinner, we got the boys dressed in their hanboks and let them play the doljabi game to find out their future. Neylan did a great job. He was placed at one end of the table and slowly made his way to the other end, checking out each item along the way.  

And, to everyone's surprise, grabbed the pencil first. He's going to be a scholar!!

And then, he grabbed the microphone. A scholar who performs on the side!! Even better!
Unfortunately, everyone had their doubts about Neylan being a scholar and no one voted for that. So, we went to the second item, the microphone, which only had one vote. They just don't know you well enough, Neylan, do they? David had the winning ticket and won a bottle of plum concentrate to make his own plum soda, a popular drink in Korea.

And then Grayson had his turn. And he chose the bowl of rice first. Not a shocker to anyone at all!!! This meant he will never go hungry. Which, I find a bit humerous, since there are days when the kid will try to convince you he's starving to death and all the food in the world won't fill him up. I guess he's just hoping that he will never have to go hungry again. 

Within a matter of seconds every item was being played with and the candy and fruit were being eyeballed and manipulated.

We changed the boys out of their fancy clothes and into different matching outfits (outfit #3- only you, Kasey would appreciate this!) for cupcakes!

Obviously, these were a hit! Neylan had no problem this time with his cupcake eating skills. Devoured the whole thing- well most of it- at least the part he didn't finger paint with!

And then, it was time for presents! Grayson got a few too, but can't sit still long enough to enjoy them or get a picture made with them.

After all of this indoor fun, it was time to head outside. So, into outfit #4- the swimming trunks
(Actually in these pics they are still in outfit #1, getting soaked without Mommy knowing it! But they did change and go back out to play after presents)

 Some of the guys enjoyed some yard games

We are so glad that Neylan is finally home and doing so well. He did great at the party, with no stranger anxiety. He is going up to other people and letting them hold him. I'm glad I took this challenge on to recreate- to the best of my ability- a traditional dol. With a bit extra time, I could have done better and invited more people, but this will be a party we will not forget. I hope Neylan and Grayson enjoy looking back at these pictures and hearing the stories.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Korean Dol {Part 1}

Since both boys celebrated birthdays recently and at the time we were either traveling or still too jet-lagged to even think about a birthday party, we finally got around to planning a small get-together to celebrate our two fun boys. Since we just returned from S. Korea less than a week before Neylan's birthday, we decided to have a traditional Korean first birthday. The first birthday in Korea is a very big deal. Becuase of the high mortality rate of infants prior to a year, if an infant lived to their first birthday, a very large celebration was held. Today many babies are meeting this milestone, but the tradition and celebrations continue. The party is called a dol and always contains certain elements and traditions. Since Neylan would have likely had some sort of birthday party if he were still there, we wanted to carry out the traditional Korean birthday and let both boys experience it this year. After the first birthday, Koreans don't celebrate in this big fashion until the 60th birthday.

One of the elements that is very popular is a banner that says Happy Birthday. I decided to make this one and was pleased with the outcome.

Another traditional element is the fruit and candy towers. Stacking the foods high signifies a life of prosperity for the baby.

I did not do a great job of planning the cake or dessert. Traditionally a rice cake with rainbow layers is prepared. Instead, we had cupcakes, traditional Korean candy, which we purchased there, and cookies and brownies.

Another feature of the party is the photo board. Photos of the baby from birth to age one are displayed for the guests to see. We were so fortunate to have received a stack of pictures of Neylan that his foster mom took for us. None have dates or ages on them, but they seem to be in chronological order. We also had some professional pictures taken this week that we were able to display as well.

I don't believe this is part of a traditional dol, but had seen this idea so wanted to incorporate it into our party. It is tradition for the grandparents to say a prayer or give a blessing to the child at the dol. I wanted everyone to have the chance to write something for each of the boys, so we made cards with their name stamp on them and allowed everyone to write a prayer, blessing, or birthday wish on them. These will be saved for them in their scrapbooks.

The highlight of the dol is the future telling ritual. We gathered several objects, signifying various occupations or fortunes for the kids and made containers to represent each one. As the guests mingled we encouraged everyone to guess which one Neylan would choose during the game. A ticket was placed in the container for every vote. We used money to represent wealth, a bowl of rice to represent that the child will never go hungry, some thread to mean the child will have long life, a computer mouse to represent a technology career, a microphone to represent a performer, a pencil to represent a scholar, and a stethoscope to represent a doctor. What do you think he chose?

The last element of the celebration is the outfit that the child wears. He/she wears a hanbok, the traditional Korean dress outfit. We bought each of the boys one and were given one by Neylan's foster mom. After dinner we got the boys dressed for the game and a few pictures.

In an effort to keep this post a bit shorter, I will continue it with the actual celebration pics in the next post.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Someone had a birthday today!

When we received our referral for Neylan, my one hope and prayer was that we would have him home by his first birthday. And we made it- with just a few days to spare!

Grayson helped make red, white, and blue funfetti cupcakes to celebrate Neylan's birthday and welcome him to America.

We've had some concerns about his feeding skills, but braved it for this fun treat. He did well with just a bit of choking. And then continued to put little bites in his mouth.

Happy Birthday Neylan Minseok. We love you and are so glad to have you home. You have already brought us so much joy with your smiles and giggles. We pray you continue to transition and adjust to your new life as easily as you have already.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How's it going at the new Foster home?

Sorry for the slowness in posting since we've been home. I know you all have been sitting on the edge of your seats at your computers waiting for pictures and stories. Yep, I've heard!! So, here you go.

We have now been home for three days. Overall, I would say things are going really well. Neylan is doing great under the circumstances. He is not feeling well. We knew he was teething, but my stars!! He is the biggest drooling, snotty, congested mess I have ever seen. When the doctor at the agency told us he had bronchitis, I really didn't believe him. I was really thinking all of these symptoms were teething symptoms. The exact same symptoms Grayson had when teething. They gave us 3 meds to give him and so we had been- until today. The medicine has not done a thing- because it's not bronchitis. So, I changed the medication plan today. He woke up with a temp of 101 and as hot as I've ever felt anybody. So, he's now getting tylenol or ibuprofen and a nasal spray to dry up some of the drainage- hopefully. He is extrememly tired, which makes him fussy. We are all still working on getting over jet lag, which is not easy when you traveled over 14 time zones. We also feel has is sleep deprived. His foster mom told us how much he was sleeping and compared to Grayson it is a few hours less- and he's a year younger. Every time he gets in the car he falls asleep. Unfortunately, we haven't ventured far from home, so those little naps are short and then he gets woken up again. Like most kids from Korea, we are having sleep issues. Neylan was used to co-sleeping with his family on the floor. He screams when we put him in his crib, so we've made a palate on the floor right below his crib. He has done ok on that for a few naps and one night, with me in there with him. He would prefer to co-sleep in our bed, but then neither Adam or I are getting any sleep and I would prefer the transition to his own room and bed to be as quick as possible. So, the palate it is for now. Once he feels better, we will try the crib again. I'm sure he's also grieving some too as he tosses and turns and whines all night long. So, all in all, we have seen lots of smiles and giggles, but are all still pretty exhausted. Neylan is a little laid back trooper and has gone with the flow really well. I just hope and pray he gets to feeling better soon. I'm sure we will begin to see a new little personality emerge then.

Neylan's paperwork said he loved baths and water. And boy does he. He stood at the water table for a long time just splashing and playing.

Ahhh!! Air conditioning. This is hard to come by in Seoul

Bonding over a common love- water!! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From foster home to Foster home

We are in transit from one foster home to the other. It was an extremely long day, but we made it. The agency wanted to make sure we were at the airport three hours before our flight. Ughh! For our family, who has traveled a lot, that's a bit crazy and really annoying, especially when you know what is headed your way. But we did it and had lots of time to play once we were all checked in and through security. Yay for airports who think about the kids. This was by far the best kids area I have seen in an airport.

Passing the time in San Fransisco was NOT fun. 7 1/2 hrs is a long time to entertain 2 toddlers when both adults haven't slept a wink in nearly 24 hrs.

Finally home! And all of our luggage arrived. Ready to get home and settled.

We pulled in the driveway at 1:30 am this morning after 26 hrs of traveling. Everyone was able to get to bed by 2:30 and had to be woken up at 11:30.

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One Quick Stop

One of my biggest concerns about only having Neylan with us for less than 24 hrs before leaving Seoul was missing the opportunity to see some of the city with him and get some good pictures of both boys together in this wonderful city. In the end we took it easy, because we needed to for Neylan's sake and because we had a lot of stuff to get packed. We did make it to one place. It was probably a good thing I forgot the lock and key when we went to Seoul tower a few days ago. It gave us an excuse to go back and get some really cute pictures.

Neylan ended up in our bed last night and then woke up at 6:20. We had breakfast, got ready, did a little bit of packing, and headed out to the tower. Just a few minutes into our walk to the bus stop, both boys had fallen asleep. That made me a little nervous. The whole point of this trip was pictures! Of the boys-AWAKE!

This place is all about love. They even have benches that slant towards the middle so you can be closer when you sit together!

How cute are they?!

It was a fun little outing and they are just adorable. We have loved seoul and know we will be back as a family for more pictures together one day.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Gotcha Day!!!

Our last meal as a family of three! And one person didn't even participate

On our way back to the hotel to get ready for our meeting, we picked up some flowers for Minseok's foster mom

Ready to go. We have so much to take we have gotten a cab instead of trying to do the subway with all of this

Neylan Minseok and his mom were already there when we go there

His last check up. He has a little cold/bronchitis (I really think it's just teething) so they gave us some medicine.

Our social worker and "match maker" DJ. she and Grayson were dressed alike today

Our family grows. Both of us did well until the very end when the foster mom handed him over and she started crying. I was holding him and she came up to him and was telling him that i am his omma now. She said it over and over so that he would understand. Break my heart!! I just hugged her and cried. She is so sweet and took such good care of him. He was her 20th child to care for. She gave us some very nice gifts. A nice hanbok for his birthday, a stack of pictures, some pajamas, a few professional pictures, and some shoes.

Grayson is embracing his new big brother role!

YouTube Video

We're home! Temporarily.

Spent a few minutes on the playground

Monkey see, monkey do

This bowl and spoon kept him entertained for quite some time

Both boys are asleep now. It took a little bit longer tonight. Minseok reportedly sleeps through the night until about 6 am. We'll see! We put him in his pea pod. Will see if he stays.

This is the last post before we leave Seoul. We have had an amazing trip that will never be forgotten. Neylan Minseok is doing really well. No crying today, until Grayson jumped on him. Ate well and fell asleep without much trouble. Please be praying for our trip home. For his health and for all of us to be able to rest some.

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