Thursday, March 31, 2011

Indirect Good News

We got some indirect good news this week.  The referrals that were awaiting processing at the Korean ministry were completed this past week.  In other words, several children were granted exit visas, issued passports, and their parents are only a few days away from traveling to get them.  To be clear, Jae's paperwork was not part of that batch.  But we think he might be part of the next batch.  They process paperwork in large groups and the batch that was just approved were referrals through mid June of last year.  We received Jae's referral mid September last year.  Assuming they send 3 months of referrals at once, Jae could be part of the next batch.  It will be close.  If he is part of the next batch (and we know soon) that means we are only 4 to 8 weeks away from traveling.  But if he is not part of this batch and he has to wait to be part of the following one, we are 8 to 12 weeks away. 

Jae's Mom

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Jae!

Today wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.  Paul and I went for a 7 mile run, got coffee at Caribou and headed to the Mall of America.  We spent the next 4 hours doing exactly what we did on our very first date...riding rides at Nickelodeon Universe (only it was Camp Snoopy back then).  It was fun. And when our stomachs needed a break from all the twists and turns we went to see "Hall Pass."

For dinner we stopped at our favorite steak house, Porterhouse. Although I made the comment that we won't be stopping there a year from now or two years from now, or 4, or 5 or 6.  Our odds are much better for a Chucky Cheese on future March 29ths than an upscale steak house.  Greasy disusting pizza sounds great, as long as Jae is there with us.

Thanks for all the well wishes yesterday and today  Jae received some very thoughtful presents.  And I can't explain how much the texts, voice mails, emails, facebook posts, et cetera mean to us.  Jae will be home soon.  And then we will throw one heck of a Gotcha Day party.

And we decided on a tiger cake for Jae's 1st as the national animal of South Korea seemed like an appropriate choice.  And don't laugh, it was our first try at any sort of cake like this.  Let's just say we learned a lot about what we will do differently next time.  Paul named the tiger, Ed.  Don't ask me why.  He also named our dog, Larry.  Actuaries.  There is no understanding them.

Jae's Tiger Cake

Happy 1st Birthday, Jae!  We love you very much!

Jae's Mom

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday Cake

Paul and I were hoping to get away for a mini vacation yesterday through Tuesday, but work had other plans.  We will take Tuesday off to celebrate our son's first birthday, but unfortunately, Paul has and will work the other 3 days.

Yesterday I went to purchase a cake mix for Jae's birthday cake.  I cried.  I know no 1 year old knows what kind of cake they like, but it really bothered me that I had no idea.  I settled on rainbow chip as all kids like colored speckles in cake.  I even picked out a card for a 1 year old boy.  I think we will purchase a few more "1 year old" cards and then give them to him when he is older along with the journal we are keeping for him. 

Back to this cake...and how wonderful my husband is...I came home in tears and he quickly cheered me up by grabbing an old children's cake decorating book (one my mother gave me a few months ago, it is the one she used to make my sisters and mines cakes for how many years).  We haven't settled on any one cake.  The teddy bear cake was always a huge hit growing up.  But we also like the tiger cake as the tiger is national animal for South Korea.  And then of course, Paul likes all the boy ones...the boats, the race car, the space shuttle (which will always remind me of my cousin, Dan, and his birthday at the Grandma and Grandpa's house).  But that is when Paul really got into it.  I also have a cake decorating book from my sister.  He dog eared a few cakes in that book as well.  And I read that the traditional Korean first birthday cake is a type of rice cake with pink, green, brown and white layers.  Let's just say we have Jae's next 5 or 6 birthday's covered. 

Jae's Mom

Friday, March 25, 2011

PA and the MSP baggage claim

I spent all this week in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  My typical work field trip week visiting clients, working with Marketing Reps, and putting on a happy face.  But it was a tough week.  Whenever I meet new clients they always ask where I am from, how long I have worked for Federated...and about my family.  Whenever clients ask if I have kids, I just don't know what to say.  Yes, I have a son, but when they start asking details, the entire store comes spilling out whether I want it to or not.  I love talking about Jae, but it is getting harder and harder to do.  Being out in the field, away from Paul, living in a hotel wears on me, but even more so with Jae's 1st birthday right around the corner.

But it was the end of my field trip that had me in uncontrollable tears.  While waiting for my luggage at MSP, I looked over to the international arrival area.  It was very quick that I noticed a group of people all holding signs like "Grandma,"  "Aunt Mary,"  "Welcome Home Mom!"  I asked the new "Grandma" if they were waiting to meet their newest Grandchild, of course her answer was "yes."  Her daughter was arriving home from Ethiopia with her daughter.  I told her that I am also in the process of adopting and asked if I could watch from afar.  It was one of the best yet hardest things I have ever witnessed.  I am not going to lie, I lost it.  Bless the new "Grandma's" heart she came over and actually introduced me to her new granddaughter.  It was very emotional for me.  Hope our day comes sooner than later.

Wanting to leave my blog on a more positive note, I came home to a very cool package.  I am sure Jae will enjoy listening to all those children's CDs during road trips.  :)  Thanks H.V.  Very cool of you and the boys. 

Jae's Mom

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Yippee for US Mail!

We were sweating it this week.  Today (literally today) was the deadline for Paul and I to submit our Request for Evidence for our I-600.  Just yesterday we debated calling Officer "L" to check the status but decided it wouldn't do any good since only last week I called and left a detailed message for her stating our deadline was nearing and to please call me back if she needed anything from us.  I think I even left my name and phone number twice in the same message.  Since we haven't heard back, we decided not to call and instead hold our breath, pray, and cross our fingers all at the same time.

This morning we headed to our agency for a class about attachment.  In fact, during one of our discussions with the other waiting families, it came up that our first I-600 submission was delayed.  There was one other family that also received a Request for Evidence and we laughed that pink papers from USCIS doesn't mean "girl approval" or fact it means about the exact opposite. 

So how nice was it to come home and get the mail!  I believe it went something like this: me running up the driveway screaming, "Paul we have mail from the US Department of Homeland Security!  And it isn't pink!  And it isn't pink!  And it isn't pink!"  Thank God.  We know it isn't Jae's final clearance into the US as he will still need a visa, but it is pretty darn close to it. 

Now we wait for Korea to get their paperwork in order.  Even though the I-600 approval is HUGE, it isn't the end of our wait.  Hopefully within the next couple of weeks a large batch of legals will be sent to the Korean Ministry and that batch will include Jae's.  But for tonight, we will celebrate our I-600 victory with Paul's homemade lamb burgers!  I know, I know, those Herzogs are CRAZY!  Lamb burgers!?!?!  :)  We might really go crazy and have a beer as well. 

Jae's Mom

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The longest two months

This might be the two longest months of my life, and here is why:  Each day that passes without Jae's paperwork being sent to the Korean Ministry means we are still 2 months away from traveling.  According to our social worker, and confirmed by the International Holt Discussion Form, the time from when the proper paperwork is sent to the ministry to the time of travel notification is about 8 weeks (4 if you are really lucky).  Last week the families that received their adoption referrals in June had their paperwork submitted to the Ministry of Magic (I just now decided to call the Korean Ministry the Ministry of Magic due to my love for the Harry Potter series and because we could use a little magic right now).  We received Jae's referral in September.  Mid June referrals just received their 2 month notification.  You do the math. 

In other news, Jae's 1st birthday care package is one step closer to him.  Paul popped the care package in the mail yesterday and our social worker received it today.  Since the recordable story book was just slightly bigger than the one gallon ziplock bag, we used a heck of a lot of tape to shut the sucker.  :)  Our social worker was impressed with our creativity in getting the bag closed...

It is official.  We have purchased everything possible for Jae from our local Target.  The Bert and Ernie toothbrush makes it official. 

Jae's Mom

Friday, March 4, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

"When the dog bites, when the bees sting, when I am feeling sad...I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad..." In no particular order...

Glitter Hearts from Jacee Frank

My cat, Jessie
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My dog, Larry

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Baking for my husband
I think the fact that baking is one of my favorite things is one of Paul's favorite things

My husband
Owatonna - this is tree in our front yard
My family - Yes, this is the world's largest frying pan.  And yes, it is as cool as it looks.  :)

My Stirling family - Rach, this picture is as old as mold, we need to get together soon!

Korean food

And all of my wonderful friends.  You guys have been great this week...thanks for all the well wishes and prayers.  They have helped. 

Jae's Mom

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 to 5 months

The title says it all.  We are at least 2 months away from traveling to get Jae and quite possibly 5 months.  It absolutely and completely breaks my heart.  Jae Miles is having his first birthday at the end of this month and there is basically no chance he will be home for it.  That is a very tough pill to swallow.  We struggled with this news yesterday, but like all the other times we have received bad news, Paul and I lean on each other.  There is no good or sudden reason for this news; in fact, we probably should have seen this coming.  But we are optimists and I guess we just both hoped EWS (our Korean agency) would somehow get their act together and push travel notifications through.  We take comfort in the fact that our US agency is doing everything they can to help.  Our Korean specialist (who is employed by our US agency) has tried to suggest things to our EWS to help speed up the process, but she is walking on thin ice.  If she starts stepping on toes over there...the referrals to our US agency will stop.  The last thing we want is for EWS, or any other Korean agency, to discontinue adoption relations with the US. 

So what else does the mean?  It means we put together (another) care package for Jae's first birthday.  We are still limited by the one gallon zip lock bag...which already won't zip shut and we only have 4 items in there.  A tiny fuzzy little Easter Bunny, a stuffed elephant/blanket combo, a photo book filled with pictures of Paul and I, and my favorite entry (and the reason the bag won't zip shut) a recordable story book.  A few months ago I purchased the recordable story book from a Hallmark Store hoping I would never have the opportunity to send it.  Paul and  I took turns reading the pages so Jae can get familiar with our voices while looking at the book.  On the last page we recorded a quick birthday message to Jae.  We wished him a happy 1st birthday and said we are hoping to come get him soon.  It breaks my heart. 

However, I am going to pick myself up and focus all my energy on marathon training.  Last summer we both signed up to run Grandma's marathon on June 18th.  When Jae's referral came back in September, we assumed that only one of us would run while the other would be on baby duty.  I guess the good news is that both of us get to run 26.2 miles?!?!? 

Jae's Mom