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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Fabulous Month of May

The month of May brought many special days for our family.  May 1st was our first special day! It officially marked having Jack longer than any of his foster families did in Korea! Jack's last foster family had him for 11 months, so we knew it would be an awesome milestone to celebrate once he had been with us that long. Bryan had just sprained his ankle playing basketball, so we didn't have a lot of options in celebrating. We decided since we don't eat out much, going out to Moes seemed special enough for us! :)

Celebrating Having Jack the Longest!
May was very nostalgic for me. May 16th came, which was the anniversary of our travel call last year!  I don't know if it was the weather or what, but throughout the whole month, I would suddenly get those butterflies in my stomach that I had this time last year as we were preparing for our trip to Korea. When I would have these feelings, I would just smile. I would smile because I was relieved that all that planning, packing, traveling was over and in the past. But mostly I would also smile because I would be reminded of the fondness of being in Korea, experiencing the culture and meeting my son for the first time!
Mother's Day was very special for me this year. I had been dreaming about being a mom for six years. Seven Mother's Days went by with the stabbing pain of not being one, but FINALLY, this year I got to celebrate it!  In fact, Jack, unknowingly, made Mother's Day extra special to me. I'm sure everyone has seen the tear jerking Publix commercial for Mother's Day...

It was this commercial and many others that Publix made that used to make this day so hard for me for many years. Way to go Publix! ;)  This year when the commercial aired, I had Jack by my side. Jack watched intently as he always does when commercials were on. Then at the end, when the girl jumps down to the mama's belly and whispers "You are really going to love mom," Jack came over to me and put his head on my tummy and gave me a quick hug and then just walked away. This simple act of love made me burst into tears. Bryan was there and smiled at what he observed. Jack may not have understood everything in that commercial, but he knew I was his Mama and that's what meant so much to me! He then continued to do this every time the commercial would air, and every time, that was okay with me! :)
On the actual Mother's Day, our church was having a dedication day as well. They showed a few pics of Jack on the screen in front of the church, and then we read a bible verse that is important to our family. Our family verse was Ephesians 1:4-5...

"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will."

We chose our verse not because it mentions the word "adoption", but rather that it explains the heart of the gospel; that God adopted His children. I have read that the deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans.  We ultimately wish for Jack to understand this, and also want our family to be a reflection of that message of love! 

Both sets of Jack's grandparents came to celebrate this special day with us. Along with his Aunt Gretchen and Uncle Brock and his cousins, Jordan, Getty, Finn, and Amelia.  After church, we picked up some KFC and headed to the park. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were so excited to have them visit us for the day!

Dedicating Jack at our church.
Happy Dedication Day! May 13, 2012
First Mother's Day!
Cousins make every celebration more fun!

The Whole Gang
Mother's Day Kisses. :)

We also planned our vacation to be this May. It was the first vacation we had been on in three years and I CANNOT begin to tell you how excited I was about it! And what better way to celebrate our one year together as a family! The plan was to go to St. Simons Island, GA. My parents go there every year for a conference, so we decided to join them and extend the stay a little bit. Jack had been to the ocean at the end of the summer last year and loved it. I thought he would be such a dare devil in the pool and jump right in when he saw it. I guess over the the past few months, Jack had become a little more reserved when it came to swimming.  He was a little nervous at first, but we eventually got him to trust us and soon he loved it. He didn't swim much on his own, but he did like to jump into Dada's arms. He would say, "ready...set...GO!" and jump in! As soon as he hit the water, he would say, "Gout! Gout!" (which meant, "get out!") so he could jump in again.
At the beach, Jack enjoyed putting sand in the bucket and taking sand out of the bucket. Seriously, that's all he did the first day we went. ;) The second day, we made a little pool for him there so he spent most of his time in it. We ate out a lot and went to the parks, walked the shops, but mostly just enjoyed time together and making memories as a family. It was perfect!

Had to stop and say hi to Mater on the way!

He held on to that ball so tight. :)

Going out with Pop and our matching shirts!

Ah! And there's a smile! :)

Saying cheese while eating cheese. ;)

Fun with Dada!

He loved the sand!

He never knew all that sand was up there. :)

Looking cool!


Yummy seafood!

Loved having his Gigi and Pop there!

Once we got home from vacation, it was May 25th! Jack's Gotcha Day! One year previous, we held sweet Jack in our arms for the first time. It is a day I will never forget! To celebrate Jack's Gotcha Day, we decided to make Jack a special breakfast, “GOTCHA” chocolate chip pancakes and then spend the day together. Charleston has a Spoleto festival celebrating the arts every May, but usually we are out of town. This year, we got to go for Jack's Gotcha Day! It was pretty fun to hear all the music and see all the artwork everywhere. We even got lunch at a Korean restaurant called Mama Kims.

Gotcha Day Pancakes!

Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC

Ummm, who's that white guy mom?
Lunch at Mama Kims!

Yummy Korean Food!

While we were there eating, I got that nostalgic feeling come over me again. I looked at my son and my hubby and was so proud of how far we have come this last year and all the years leading up. It has been quite the journey of us becoming parents. We've been through trials and hardships that I never thought we could endure. It was so tough to walk through our journey in the moment; we were battered and bruised, but the Lord lifted us up and pushed us through. Even once we finally got Jack, we still battled attachment and healing issues before we could ultimately see the perfect package God laid before us...A forever family that has been strengthened through trial and mended by love! People would always say to me (and I struggled to believe), “It will be worth it...the wait...the heartache and countless tears...the financial worries and spiritual battles...” And now, I can testify, it was!!! There is not a moment I have gone through that I wouldn't do again and again for our son, Jack! He has brought us so much joy that my heart overflows! Now that we have him, I can hardly remember what life was like without our Jack. He is the perfect fit for our family. And God knew that all along. How could I have ever doubted! I can look back now and see God's mighty hand at work, and I have grown more confident in His plans for us. God may have many more battles in store for our family, in fact, I can probably guarantee it, but I now try to look at them differently. Even in a death situation, God can draw us close to Him and bring us peace that surpasses understanding. His plans may not always be easy, but I know, they are ALWAYS good! We are so blessed and I only hope that God will continue to grow us and others close to Him in our journey of life!

Six Months Later...

I cannot believe it has been almost 6 months since my last post!!! Once I fell behind, I thought I would do a three month update (like I did last time), but then my computer died! It took us a few months to find another computer and then get all my files transferred over, so that is why it's been so long.  I've had several emails asking how we were doing and what the latest was, so that has definitely encouraged me to write again. So, for that, I am grateful for your emails of encouragement and I apologize for not updating in so long.

First of all, let me start everything off with, we are doing GREAT!  The last few months, Jack continues to make major strides. He is slowly starting to communicate better. Although he isn't using sentences, he is starting to put several words together to form one. He'll say things like, "Dada...Car...Work."  He uses "ah na" as filler words. For example, when he sings Jesus Loves Me, he'll say, "Yes, ah na loves me." "Ah Bible ah na so." :) He can count pretty good, but gets a little mixed up after 14. He'll make up numbers like "oneteen." He knows his colors and starting to learn his shapes now. He still loves music and impresses us that he picks up on melodies really quickly. He identifies many musical instruments and can even recognize their sounds. Once he heard  a trumpet solo on the radio and immediately says, "Trumpet" and pretends to play it. He will get his guitar sometimes and strum it and sing, Oh My Soul. This Mama knows he's going to be a singer or involved with music somehow. That or a chef. ;) He has always loved his play food, but recently he has become more interested in pretending to cook food. We have a stool beside our bar where I cook, and every meal I prepare, he is up on that stool watching me. If I use a knife, he will go run and grab his play knife and pretend to do what I'm doing. He helps me add things to mixtures. He always wants me to add "garlit" (garlic) to everything.  If is sees a cooking show on tv, he will imitate what they are doing. One time I caught him zesting his orange over his bowl! ;) I love seeing his personality come through.
Jack is a commercial junkie! He doesn't watch much tv, but I leave the tv on most of the day and he loves to watch the commercials. He can tell you all kinds of slogans, like "Eat Fresh" and "Star, Star, Sink" (local commercial). He surprised his mommy and daddy one day when he finished his chicken sandwich and shouted "Ate da bones! Ate da bones!"  (the latest KFC commercial). He knows the names of shows like "Chew" "Taste" "Voice" "Stars" (Dancing with the Stars), "Street Street" (Sesame Street) and of course, "Jep...dy" (Jeopardy) and "Forchan" (Wheel of Fortune). Some of those we don't even watch, he just recognizes them from the commercials. ;)
He has recently developed a new laugh Bryan and I have enjoyed hearing. It is a low, hardy laugh that we like to imitate. We have worked really hard at trying to get Jack to stop screaming his high pitched squeal when he gets excited. This new laugh has replaced much of the screaming, but it is hard to break the habit completely. ;) 
Jack likes to imitate everything he sees us or others do. He wants to dance if he sees others dancing. He wants to put on his apron when Mama puts on hers to paint. If he sees golf on TV, he asks for his "glop cub." He is getting better with his sport recognition and skills, but he still seems to be more interested in his books, music, and cars.
The new year brought on some "fun" family sickness. We visited family one weekend, and out of the 16 of us there, 13 of us were infected with the dreaded stomach flu! :( Bry and I were both sick for days and we just waited for Jack to get it any day, but luckily he never did! It sure was a tough few days, but it could have been a lot worse if Jack had gotten it! 
Jack actually hasn't been sick since Christmas! He has been so good about eating everything we give him too. We may have to bribe him with fruit every once and a while, but he definitely has been getting a well balanced diet. So much so, this Mama has been letting him have some sugar every now and then. :)
But even though we have become successful in the food area, we had an epic fail in the potty training area! I knew it was early to start, especially for a boy, but Bry and I had thought since Jack as been so successful with other areas and had expressed an interest in the potty, we thought we would give it a shot. We got the videos and books at the library. I read tons of articles and blog posts, and we came up with a plan. Jack did amazingly well...at first. He sat on the potty all morning, and peed in the potty four or five times. He never had an accident and got a M&M each time he went potty. After his nap though, we put him on the potty again, but this time he started crying once he went pee pee. This continued to escalate the rest of the day until he started holding it. He would start to scream each time he felt he had to go pee. We continued to praise him and even encouraged him to go on the floor (in case he was worried about making a mess.), but nothing helped. By the end of the night, we were exhausted and couldn't figure out what had happened. Bryan and I prayed that night for guidance to see if we should continue our potty training weekend, and quickly felt led to wait. Jack's language skills were still not advanced enough for us to explain to him what was going on and that everything was okay. I decided to wait until he turned three and just pay for another year of diapers.
So after our potty training experience, poor Jack developed a sudden fear of the bathtub that has continued until this day. We think he had developed this fear from associating it with being naked during his potty training, because as soon as we take his diaper off to get in the bathtub, he screams. So bath time has officially become something we all dread! Hopefully this will be a memory soon.
Other than that small issue though, Jack is a very easy going, mostly obedient, happy and content little boy! Jack had a few play dates and family visits during the winter, but mostly we stayed indoors, to continue to encourage bonding and also to stay warm! ;) Jack quickly became my buddy helping me around the house with various paintings and projects. We had a great winter but we were definitely ready for spring once it came! :)
Although Easter is technically in the spring, it was still a little chilly. But we still managed to have fun because Gigi, Pop, Aunt Coco, and Adam came to visit us in Charleston! Jack was so handsome in his bow tie and loved his cinnabunnies for breakfast, new Easter book, and of course, the Easter candy! But by far, Jack enjoyed his Easter egg hunts (one at the church and one at home) the most. That was right up his ally. He talked about his eggs for weeks! He really enjoyed playing with and getting attention from his new cousins to be, Keldon and Clayton. He also talked about them for weeks after. :) It was a great first Easter with Jack!

Other things Jack does or says now...

-He asks, "dat?" (what's that?) all the time.
-He still lines all his cars or toys up. He will organize them by color, shape or size.
-He has recently become camera shy or should I say, he simply HATES the camera now and refuses to look at it! :P
-He will put a "t" at the end of words that end with the "n" sound. Example, "ont" (one) or  "phont" (phone).
-When we put him down for his nap/bedtime, he'll say, "night night, sus you (love you), keyful (careful)." Careful is what we usually say to daddy when he leaves for work, so he just thought it was another goodbye word. ;)
-He likes to pretend to leave and will say,  "Oh, c-ya. Bye. C-ya."
-He will make a wink face and say, "wink...wink...wink"
-He will bump his head and say, "ouch!" and then laugh. In fact, he just laughs at the word "ouch" period.
-Other words he will say, "isome" (awesome) "sheesh" "hold jew" (hold you) "nacks" (snacks) "opes" (oops) "ellow" (yellow) "greem" (green) "prepump" (purple) "Js" (PJs) "Quackquers" (Crackers) "heaby" (heavy).
-He has hid in the closet and said, "Gak, r u?" Then I will say, "Jack, where are you?" and then he just giggles loudly behind the door.
-He also says, "see it?" a lot. One time he tooted and said, "Toot. See it?"
-One cute thing he did recently was put his Mater truck and McQueen car inside his even larger police car and pushed them around (as if they need a car to get anywhere.) :)
-He will say "cheers" as we click our cups together. But he will also use it with his food too. We can usually get him to try a vegetable by using our "cheers" technique. 
-He is starting to call Mama and Dada's cars, "Honda" All of the sudden, he has an interest in car brands and likes to ask "dat?" when we go by a car.

Here are some of Jack's photos from this past winter....

Potty Training
Ready to paint like Mama.

My buddy!
Anything with wheels...line up!
Daddy's Old Outfit! NOT a fan apparently. :)
Happy little eater!
Lining up the crayons!
Dr. Seuss Birthday Party!
Flowertown Festival!

Jack spending time with cousin Man.
Meeting the Gourleys.
Practicing his chopsticks.
Like father, like son. :)
Getting some love!
Loves his cars!
Loves his books!
Getting some sun with Sam.

Gigi and Pop are here!
Loves Keldon and Clayton.
Aunt Coco and soon to be Uncle Adam!

CinnaBunnies for Easter!
Looking his Easter best!

Upset he has to wait to go get his Easter eggs. :)

On a mission...

Gigi and Pop kisses goodbye.

Our new family rules sign!