Happy Birthday, Little Brother

(A catch-up post)

November 2015 

Dearest Little Brother,

Well my sweets, you are three-years-old now. Or ‘bee’ as you say. Which of course, I adore.

I wish you could have had the lovely birthday party with your cousin and Grandma and Papa as we had planned, but no, you poor dear. You spent your birthday sick. 


Last year you had double pneumonia. You were so sick that I didn’t even bother to write you a letter. Instead we were frantically giving doses of medication, interspersed with doses of ibuprofen to the keep the fever down, and washing endless sheets. Because when you cough, you throw up.

Every. Single. Time.

Yes, I’m glad we all survived your two-year-old birthday illness. On to the three-year-old birthday plague which came in the form of the flu. Though we had dutifully taken you in for a flu shot just weeks before.

This birthday brought you temps of 104.4, a visit to urgent care, and more chest x-rays. But hooray for all of us! Just a little puking.

We have high hopes that for your 4th birthday we might actually be able to follow through on the party we plan!

You’ve had such a year! We have delighted in watching your personality bloom as you grew more comfortable with us and our new surroundings.

You are a really funny boy. Your antics keep us giggling and your little smile is irresistible. 

You are happy and easy going mostly, except when that dratted two-year-old ‘I want it now’ mode kicks in. Then, you are quick to throw whatever is in your hands. We've learned to get out of the way or quickly disarm you.

But fortunately you are easily distracted and move on. You are a loyal little brother, which is befitting someone whose Korean name means ‘merciful friend.’ You love to follow Little Man around (which infuriates him) and attempt to copy everything he does. You adore him, though never miss an opportunity to antagonize him. And even when you are fighting like foes you will do a random act of kindness which melts the bad feelings away.

Gracefulness is not one of your gifts. Somehow you end up bleeding one way or another from crashing into things, falling down the stairs or scratching yourself. But you are tough! Really, your pain threshold is amazing. Even when Daddy had to carry you bleeding from the playground to get your eyebrow glued together, you weren’t crying from pain---you were just angry that the play session was cut short.

With your stocky build, low center of gravity, and high pain tolerance, we joke that you would be a football coach’s dream. Hate to tell you though…Mama isn’t going to let them get you!

What you lack in grace and agility, you make up for in engineering skills. Your favorite thing is to construct, destruct, and reconstruct. Blocks, Legos, Magformers, Rokenbok, Hot Wheels, train sets….if it can be built you will build it. You will stay busy building for over an hour. Mommy really loves that!

Some favorites of yours:

  • Activity: Playing with the Hot Wheels track or building train tracks.
  • Song: "All about that base" by Megan Trainor (Don't judge us, haha.)
  • Color: Blue
  • Foods: Strawberries, seaweed, rice, oatmeal
  • Book: Anything with Thomas the Train

Well sweet boy, you bring such light and joy into our lives. I know big things are in store for you this year. Just don't lose your sweetness and love of snuggling!

Each day we thank your birth family. There aren’t enough words to tell them how we cherish you. We hope they are safe and at peace.

Love you bunches---



2015 Korean and adoption Christmas ornaments round-up

(Grrr Blogger....apologies for all the crazy font variety in this post. It wasn't intentional and I can't figure out how to fix it!!)

Another year flown by and I realize that I've been a totally lame blogger. I really miss writing. Miss sitting down and having time to think and reflect. It's good for me. Slows me down a bit.

So a quick update on our past year. We are JUST starting to feel settled after our big move to Portland last September. New jobs for both of us. Temporary housing in an apartment with all our belongings stored until we could find a house. Another move (moving twice in a year is NOT recommended). Another school change for the boys. Little Man turned 5 and started kindergarten this year. Little Brother turned 3. 

And me...I'm started to breathe again. Starting to think about how I can try and fit in a little more time for myself, but many days it seems that we are barely holding this ship together. People say life will get busier and crazier as the boys get older. Sheesh...I can't imagine.

Last year's holiday ornament post was popular, so I thought I'd try to do another. I think many of the links for last year's finds might be good still, so be sure to check them out.

As always, Etsy totally rules for finding Korean ornaments. I'm totally loving this satin/fabric ornament from OrnamentDesigns on Etsy. Made to order for $25. Seller says it's created with Hanbok fabric purchased on a trip to South Korea in 2014.

Craftmaker LifeStitchedTogether has these very cute (and inexpensive!) maps, though I'm not sure they would be done in time for the holidays. $13

And check out these simple but sweet outlines of South Korea from WDShoppe for $11.50.

One last find on Etsy worth thinking about---these cut wooden ornaments that feature South Korea from PalmettoEngraving. Laser cut from birch and can be custom engraved with names/dates. Super steal at $6.99!

Be sure to check out Amazon. A simple "korean ornament" search led to this porcelain ornament.

Also discovered on Amazon were these beautiful traditional norigae, typically worn to adorn hanboks, but I think they would look fantastic on the tree. These are not likely to be here in time for Christmas, but maybe next year? http://amzn.to/1XCWR48

Cafe Press and Zazzle both have quite a selection of custom printed ornaments. I have no idea of the quality but you can even create your own designs. Here's a selection from Cafe Press.

Mandy's Moon also has a great selection of ornaments and cards that reflect multicultural families, not just Korean adoption families. They have customizable options for skin tones on ornaments, cards, etc. 

At our house we really love creating our own decorations and keep them from year to year. This year we'll be doing a paper doll craft, based on this free pattern. http://www.education.com/worksheet/article/paper-dolls-world-asia-XII/

The dolls also might look cute tucked into a clear class Christmas ornament with strips of Korean Hanji paper and glitter. Or something like that.


Single motherhood in Korea, KUMFA holiday gift drive

Mission complete! We just filled Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association last requested donation for a single mother and her five-year-old daughter in Korea. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! This program advocates for the rights of unwed pregnant women and unwed mothers in Korea. It was started by single mothers themselves!

The majority of children placed for adoption from South Korea are from single mothers. Think back to the taboo of unwed childbirth back in the 1950s in the USA. There's that type of stigma (though I think it's much worse) that still exists in Korea today.

This is a complex topic to understand. It's so culturally ingrained in the society that it's really difficult for a woman to buck the system.

Eat Your Kimchi posted this great video about the topic. One stat they had that blew my mind. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2007, out of 100 pregnancies by a single woman, 96 of them will have an abortion (though it is illegal there), and only 4 will give birth.

Of those four, three children will be placed for adoption due to social discrimination and financial difficulties.

One in 100 single mothers actually are able to keep their children! So heartbreaking.

Single mothers are ostracized, keep their status secret or they can be fired from their jobs, are alienated from friends and family, and there is no source of public funding available to help them. Children of a single mother are also treated sub-standardly.

There are some uncomfortable stats and information in the video about adoption.  I can't deny these make me squirm a lot. I have to acknowledge that adoption agencies do have a part to play in the messed up culture of unwed motherhood in Korea. Of course don't condone a practice of coercion by adoption agencies in getting these women to place their children, but the alternatives (abortion, for one) is heartbreaking too. More on that in another deep, philosophical post.

Anyhow, be sure to watch the video for more insights on single motherhood in Korea. And also check out this excellent post about KUMFA and their programs to support single mothers.

And if you are interested in donating too, here's the links:

For more about single mothers, read our previous post "Forever family and single mom's day in Korea".