Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Light

We are starting to see the light around here.  Paul is finally better and Violet slept pretty good last night.  She would wake up and make sure Paul was in the room, but then put herself back down and went to sleep.  And the last two days she has woken up happy, which is a great sign.

Backing up a few days...the plane ride home was long.  It gave Violet too much time to think and she started to morn for foster family.  She was so sad and just wanted to be in my lap.  It was heartbreaking.  And apparently she wasn't feeling great because she threw up once we landed in Detroit.  She managed to throw up on all three of us so we headed to a family restroom and did our best to get cleaned up.  Because it wasn't enough dirtiness after being on a plane for 12 hours...Violet wanted to really make sure we felt absolutely disgusting.

We had a nice group to greet us at the airport, thanks everyone.  But sleepy Violet only perked up when she saw Jae.  She was pretty excited to see big brother.  And I think Jae was just as excited to see her.

Violet was also very excited to meet Larry (our golden doodle).  At one point she laid down on her tummy, and just watched Larry and giggled. And her love of Larry hasn't diminished over the last 4 days.  She just giggles every time she him.

Days have been pretty good.  Enough new toys and a big brother to keep her distracted.  It is nights where we are struggling.  Especially me since Paul was way too sick to sleep in her room the first 3 nights.  Last night was my first night in my own bed in a week and a half and man it was so nice.  And lucky for Paul, Violet had her best night yet last night.  Waking just a few time to make sure someone was in the room and then cry a bit before going back to sleep.  Not ideal, but much better.  The night before she woke and cried and screamed for 30 minutes before going back down.

But, it might be a little early to declare, but the Big Brother of the year award goes to Jae in my book.  Helping with bath, sharing his toys, understanding that Violet doesn't understand to share back, and just being a very good boy overall.  Speaking of big bro, guess who is 5 years old today!  Dad and him are assembling a new Lego set while Violet naps.  So proud of him the last few days.  He seriously is doing great.

Otherwise just trying to get into a routine.

Happy Birthday Jae Miles Herzog!

Jae and Violet's Mom

Saturday, March 28, 2015


We are home.  Things are a bit tough right now as Paul came down with flu symptoms 3 hours after getting home.  Will update more once we are all back to good health and sleeping.

Jae and Violet's Mom

Monday, March 23, 2015

Family of 4!

Good morning!  Things went pretty darn well last night.  Violet woke once clearly confused on where she was but her tears were very brief and seemed to be comforted to see Paul and me.

Back to yesterday...

We have a VERY active little gal.  She made me climb all 6 flights of stairs at the agency and also convinced Paul to basically do the same.  But it was comforting to have her grab our hands and say "let's go" even with foster mom and dad sitting there.  After some playing and her feeding snacks to everyone (she put food in my mouth, Paul's, social workers, foster mom and foster dad) we had a prayer with Dr Kim.  The prayer is in in Korean, but I know they pray for us as well as their country.  It is a very serious and emotional prayer....that our child basically decided to tap dance to.  Her little feet couldn't sit still.  :) Everyone was smiling at her, we just couldn't help it.

After saying goodbye (foster dad had a very hard time, I think those two were buddies) we were driven to the embassy.  Where again our active child and one other chose to run around the lobby nonstop.  Chasing each other for over an hour.  They were sweating by the time Violet's name was called.  But no concerns at the visa appointment.  The previous concern was over our fingerprints and whether new ones were needed, but nope.  Our agent said it was just a misunderstanding.  Whew!  Our Eastern representative took a deep breath and smiled after we were told Violet's visa would be issued that day. Crisis averted.

Back at the hotel, Violet's activity level stayed up until bedtime.  Running around, bubbles, playing with balls and even spending well over an hour in the hotel playroom.  She must have went up and down those slides 50 times.  Even asking "Umma" and "Appa" to join her on the slide a good number of times.  So incredibly active!

Spaghetti dinner (after she had already put down a banana, strawberries, chips, etc) and a quick bath and she was asleep by 6:30. And by the way, she LOVES  baths. She tried to take her shirt off as soon as she saw the tub.  I didn't even have water in and she was trying to climb in.  :)  Violet was just humming (something she does a lot...just hums and sings little songs) and pretending to scrub her hands and legs clean.  So cute.

A few other fun games include Paul and I pretending to be asleep (chaa...or something like that) and then Violet wakes us up by saying Umma or Appa.  She also really enjoys sneaking up on Paul.  She jumps out with her arms and fingers outstretched and Paul acts surprised every time.

And the big surprise...potty trained!  Foster mom said they were working on it, but twice took my hand and led me to the toilet when she needed to go.  Paul tried to help once, but she pushed him away and reached for me.  Girls only, daddy.

So now we are waiting for her to wake up.  No nap yesterday, so sleeping for 12 hours is expected.  We will nap her today as we are meeting Jae's foster family for a late dinner tonight.  Other plans are packing (which will be tough since foster mom gave us just about everything we sent Violet in care packages back to us) and hopefully getting Violet's hair cut.  It is so long! I don't think it has ever been cut and I think it gets in her way.  Especially at night.  I slept with Vi starting around 10 pm and I think she ends up laying on her hair and then it pulls when she moves.  Paul thinks he found a salon nearby that speaks English so we might give it a try.  Nothing fancy, but a good 6 or 7 inches off...yep it is that long!!

Jae and Violet's Mom


Just a very quick note to let everyone know things are going great! No tears!  The Embassy was smooth sailing and nothing to worry about.  Violet even held up her right hand just like Paul and I when we were sworn to tell the truth.

She didn't take a nap so is already asleep in the other room.  We gave her a bath and within 5 minutes of sitting down to watch cartoons, her eyes started to shut.  Paul carried her into her bed and she was out within 2 minutes.  Hopefully she will sleep through the night, but if not we are prepared to cosleep.  Complete opposite situation when compared to Jae's Gotcha day, but everything could change in an instant.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Olympic Park

Yesterday we took the subway south of the river to the Olympic Park and Olympic stadium area.  We stumbled right upon the two local Seoul teams baseball game...the Bears and get this, the LG Twins!  Logo and colors for the Twins look the same as the Minnesota Twins. Crazy.  As we were wondering around the stadium we found a shop that will add your name on the back of a jersey so we bought Jae a LG Twins jersey that now has Herzog on the back.  You can also pick any number for the jersey so we asked who was the star of the team and to put that player's number, which apparently is 33.  Perfect present since Jae's birthday is the Saturday we get home and he wants to play T ball this spring.

Otherwise we just wondered around the stadium and park.  Olympic park is full of statues from the countries represented that year.  There are over 200 of them scattered every where but the one we were hoping to find was the one from North Korea that represents world peace.  Oh the irony. But no luck.  What we did find is the wait to the concert of the century here in Seoul...We.  Some Korean boy band and the teenage girls waiting to get in were out in full force.  We were cracking up.  As we were headed to the subway to leave we found a impromptu dance circle were every girl was singing the songs. I guess I can't laugh too much having attended a New Kids On the Block concert a little over a year ago.  :)

The heartwarming story of the day is when we met the sweetest older lady on the subway going home from Olympic park.  She had to be in her 70s  or maybe early 80s and spoke great English.  Maybe the best of anyone we have met.  She asked me how long I was staying in Korea, gave me some travel trips but then bluntly asked who "he was?" while looking at Paul. When I told her he was my husband, her face just lit up.  Asked how long we have been married and a when I replied 9 years (which for the record is wrong, it will be 8 years in May) she just smiled at us.  She couldn't believe how long we had been married (I guess we look young).  She asked if he was a gentleman to which I replied "yes, he takes good care of me" and then she touched my arm and smiled.  She was so sweet.  After a brief pause she went right back into tour director mode telling us which palaces are not worth paying for.  "They all start to look the same, go to the free ones, don't pay for them."  :)

Today is Violet's Gotcha day.  In 8 hours we will be a family of 4.  We are mostly nervous about the visa interview at the embassy and hoping our little snag is not as big of deal as it sounds.  But we are prepared to be there for a while if needed.  Tons of snacks and toys are packed and we will just do our best to keep her happy.

Jae and Violet's Mom

Saturday, March 21, 2015

17 Miles

Paul and I are runners, but in this city we are walkers.  Paul's phone said we walked over 17 miles in 24 hours yesterday. But easy to do when you climb the mountain up to Seoul Tower, venture into Lotte Mart (imagine Walmart on steroids) and get lost trying to find markets in this town.  By the end of the day yesterday our calves were screaming at us, mostly from the hike, but just tired regardless.

We also had a bit of an adoption scare yesterday.  The head of the Korea program actually called us yesterday all the way from the US.  Violet is just fine, but the US Embassy is trying to enforce a nonexistent or very infrequently used rule on us.  So we will have a representative from the Korea agency come with us for the appointment.  Everything should work out and we have a plan B in place if needed, but I will go into detail after it is resolved.   I want to be smart and acknowledge this blog is out there on the internet and don't want to cause any unnecessary waves.  But let me tell you how fast our hearts were beating in between getting an email saying basically "we need to talk" and having the phone ring here in our hotel.  Yikes!

Much more positive news, or experience...we are staying right next to my favorite market here in Seoul, Insadong.  It is a touristy/arty market were you can find a lot of unique shops and goods.  One common type of shop is where they make name chops.  Basically a stamp of your name carved into stone.  But I need to back up, before we came here I painted a small canvas to match the wall color in Violet's room.  We brought it with hoping someone could paint/write Violet's Korean name on it for decor in her room.  We did the same for Jae.  So while we were having Violet's name chop made, I noticed another man in the shop practicing calligraphy.  So I grabbed our canvas and asked him to write on it.  Words can not describe how seriously he took this mission.  It was unbelievable.  He looked at the canvas over and over, practiced on another sheet of paper numerous times and even switched ink colors to find one that better matched the color of the canvas.  I cried.  He asked right away if it was for our new Korean baby and just made sure it was perfect as a result.  He wouldn't even take a cent for it.  This will give away the shop for those that are familiar with Insadong, but the shop has a donation box for the adoption of Korean babies (hence why all of adoptive parents go there). He would only accept a donation to be made, which of course we did.  And to put it in perspective of how famous this shop is...the Queen of England, Prince of Norway and many others like them have visited this shop for their own name chops. They have plenty of business and really had no need to waste 15 minutes helping us out.  Touched.  Really touched by their effort and kindness.  The result is below and it may not look like much to you, but the effort and thought that went into it...

One more full day before we take Violet in our arms (and have potentially have very long afternoon at the embassy).

Jae and Violet's Mom 

Seoul Tower and Shopping

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pictures of Our Day

Spent the day wondering the city, buying groceries and having lunch with friends that are headed home tomorrow.  The theme of the day was "just keep moving" because as soon as we would sit down the sleepiness would set in.

View from our hotel room

Buckhorn Hanok Village

Homes of Bukchon

Dongdaemun Gate

Thursday, March 19, 2015

3:30 am

It is 3:30 am here and I should be sleeping but I just can't any longer.  My brain is on overdrive and keeping me awake.  At one point last night I woke up thinking I heard Jae say "mama" which is crazy since he is back in Owatonna with my parents.  Even crazier is the fact that I thought I heard our cat, Jessie, meowing.  Clearly my brain knows something big is supposed to happen and doesn't know how to process it.

But everything went very smooth yesterday.  On time flights.  Caught the train and then the taxi to our hotel with ease.  And even got quite the room upgrade here at the hotel.  We now have a 2 bedroom 2 bath suite with a huge deck/observation area.  I can't wait for the sun to come up so I can fully take in the view as I think we overlook the palace.  And maybe, just maybe Violet will be comfortable enough to sleep in the separate room by herself come Monday.  That is probably not likely but we can hope.  If nothing else Paul and I can take turns getting sleep in one room while the other co-sleeps with her.  But she will have more than enough room to play, that is for sure.

Today we plan to head over to Eastern to meet some friends that are staying there during their second trip.  They have their little boy and fly home tomorrow so wanted to say hi while we have the chance.  Otherwise just site seeing for the next 3 days.  Hoping to go up Seoul tower and get some shopping down prior to Custody on Monday.

Jae and Violet's Mom

13 hours later

We made it.  And in case you were wondering, 13 hour plane rides suck.  Although I think this was the first time we were both able to sleep a bit.  Not much, maybe 2 hours total, but any sleep is good.

We are currently on the train headed into Seoul.  Once we get checked in to our hotel it will be lights out.

More tomorrow.

Jae and Violet's Mom

Sunday, March 15, 2015

3 days

This morning Jae came into our room holding one of the paper chains and saying "Mom, only 3 more days till you leave!"  Yes, kiddo 3 more days.  This is so surreal.  After waiting 2 years, I still can't believe this is finally happening.  And just like the few days before we left to get Jae, my stomach hates me.  Nervous butterflies in there that just won't go away.

Yes, we are super excited, but also super nervous.  We are about to tear a 2.5 year old away from everything she knows.  Sure she was a very happy kiddo when we met her, but foster mom stayed in the room the entire time.  And if Violet is anything like her brother, she will be inconsolable when foster mom leaves.  Heartbreaking. The best and worst day of our lives.  But don't worry, right after custody we only have to make our to the US Embassy and have her sit still for a few hours while they issue her Visa.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy as Jae would say...or not.  Our agency specialist assured us ours would not be the first child to scream her head off at the US Embassy.  So that's comforting, kind-of.

Last minute prep at the house today.  No packing just chores around the house.

Lastly, I need to say thank you to Big Brother Big Sisters for last night. Top 10 moment in my life.

Jae and Violet's Mom

Monday, March 9, 2015

2 Weeks to Custody

Now that our Korean agency has our travel schedule, they were able to schedule custody (aka- Gotcha Day) and our visa appointment.  Although we will arrive in Seoul late Thursday, we have requested custody and visa for that following Monday (March 23). Paul and I want a few days to touristy stuff (not that the police museum wasn't fun) and a little shopping.  Plus it is kind of a delicate balance with custody and the number of days you stay in Korea.  Custody is not all roses and as soon as you have that sweet kiddo in your arms, you want to care for them on your own turf.  Not a hotel room, but home.  We love Korea, but like any new just want to go home.

So two weeks! Even though we will have an ocean between us (Jae is staying back with my parents this trip) we will be a family of four!  We are so excited, nervous, anxious, overwhelmed and every other emotional.  Crazy times.

Jae and Violet's Mom

Friday, March 6, 2015

Final Approval!

We received Final Approval this morning! It came 4 or 5 days before it was expected but perfectly timed given that we threw caution to the wind yesterday and booked plane tickets. Plane tickets have been slowly creeping up and we thought we better book tickets now before they went up much more.  Our Judge is pretty consistent with Final approval so although a gamble to book tickets, it was a small one.  Which obviously worked out! We will fly out on the 18th and take custody of Violet on the 23rd!  We will also have our visa appointment on the 23rd so here's hoping she is comfortable enough with us to sit through a visa appointment at the embassy.

Unlike our past two trips to Korea, we are staying at a hotel this time.  Our agency thinks it is better for the kids to not be in the agency after custody and....well, Paul and I are ready to stay in another area of Seoul. Just have a different view and experience some new restaurants.  We will stay at Fraser Suites Insadong  which is next to the palace as well as our favorite market (Insadong).  It is also close to the US Embassy which is nice.

Yippee! Can't believe it is done! Violet was first referred our way on March 12, 2013...2 years and 11 days later we will take her in our arms forever!  

We leave in 12 days but the new chain continues until we come home with Jae's little sister!

Jae's and Violet's Mom