Monday, March 26, 2007

For Keeps

Yesterday Kyle felt the need to remind Abby she came here on a plane. I don't think she really realizes that it is different from how Kyle came here (we still need to have that talk). Her reply to this was, "that's all right, I like it here - it's a pretty nice place to be." Which made me wonder, what is she comparing "this place" to? I told her I was glad she liked it here. "Yes," she replied, "this is a good family." "Glad you like it, because I really love you." For this I got a smile and tilt of the head, dressed in her Sunday best, as if to say, "but of course you do." Oh yes, my girl is definitely for keeps!

I dressed Abigail in the hanbok that her foster mother had sent from Korea. It is defnitely the last year she will be able to fit into it. I love the bright colors and shimmer of the fabric. Although she primarily complained that it itched, she allowed me some photos.

Excerpts from an email sent to family and friends March 26, 2003 at 3 a.m. - the post decribed our day at O'Hare and I picked up on it here about 2/3 into it:

Traffic on the way home seemed good. Kyle was sitting on one side, me on the other. Kyle chatted constantly, telling his little sister jokes and telling her about things here in America. Her eyes mostly focused on her big brother and she seemed quite happy. Once in a while a smile came my way. But after a bit, it was obvious that Abigail did not care for the infant car seat. She began crying so hard we had to pull over an hour into the trip, if that. When we changed her diaper at O'Hare I discovered she was layered in two outfits, so I peeled one off of her as she was very warm. That seemed to help, but not enough. I sang to her the rest of the way to the Perkins restaurant in Janesville which helped, but I couldn't stop singing or her lower lip began to quiver again.

The restaurant was an experience. Dale, my sister's husband and her son Josh met us there. Jesse wasn't hungry, so he walked around with his fussy daughter. Unfortunately the restaurant had a cook call in sick, and the place was pretty packed for a Tuesday night. The staff was in a quandary and most of us felt bad for them. It took a bit more than an hour to receive our food. Abigail had fallen asleep in her daddy's arms while we had waited. The trip home continued to be fussy, but I kept singing, and she and Kyle both fell asleep for most of the way. We arrived home shortly after 8 p.m.

Abigail was quite happy in daddy's arms while I unpacked things and made her a bottle. She took only a few ounces, which bothered me because she hadn't eaten in so long and the care update said she ate every 3 hours. We all played on our king size bed for a bit and hung out before putting her down in the crib at 10 p.m. I opted for first shift, expecting a long night. The Fisher Price crib aquarium is priceless - it totally mesmerized Abigail. By 10:30 p.m. she was sound asleep, and remained so until shortly after 3 a.m. when I began typing this (while she was captivated by the aquarium).

(time lapse)

I have taken an hour break from the computer - Abigail took a few more ounces of warm formula, had a diaper change and generally loves to have her legs bare and loose so she can kick and laugh. Jesse is awake now so I can go back to bed (4:30 a.m.), but I wanted to send all of you this update. She's a bit fussy, and just needs to work out some burps. She enjoys playing with the rattles, and also seems to enjoy standing up on laps and peering about. Abigail also prefers to be held facing outward, which is surely how she was carried in Korea.

Right now Jesse and Abigail are catching a bit of television, and I am heading back to bed for a few winks. Hopefully Kyle will sleep another two hours before he wakes me. Personally, I feel very blessed that we had a 4.5 hour stretch of sleep on the first night. She seems pretty awake now though! Good morning, and good night.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Reflections From Four Years Ago

Celebrating Gotcha Day!!!!

Today I thought it might be cool to share some photos of what we were doing four years ago. Basically, spending the day at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago WAITING for a precious gift from God. Pictures indeed say a thousand words.

I've been reminiscing with the e-mail files I have saved from this time in our lives. I look forward to sharing "day one with our new daughter" tomorrow, March 26, but for today I found an e-mail sharing our good news with family and friends....

Letter dated March 23, 2003 - 8:03 p.m.

Hello Everyone,
We just wanted to share the exciting news that Abigail will be escorted from South Korea to O'Hare International tomorrow - Tuesday!! She turned 5 months old today. And for me, personally, I could not have a better birthday present!
She arrives on United Airlines International flight #882 at 2:20 p.m. Tuesday. Two other Lifelink Adoption Agency families are also receiving their children tomorrow. It should be quite a gathering at the international terminal tomorrow!
Thus far we have 3 vehicles going to O'Hare to greet our new daughter and welcome her home. Please pray for a safe flight for Abigail and her escort, Mrs. Cho, and for all of us traveling.
The camcorder is charging, the diaper bag is packed. A few things to do in her room yet this evening. I feel too excited to sleep, but I suppose Jesse and I should try to get to bed early since we are sure to have several sleepless nights trying to get Abigail adjusted to the 12 hr. time difference. Please also pray for her to settle in readily.
If you respond, please understand that we may not get back to you right away. I hope to have some pictures to e-mail within the next 24 hours from the digital camera. Also, I am taking 4 weeks off of work, so please don't send e-mails to my office. Thanks to everyone for the support you have given us since we began the process 15 months ago!!!!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Eve of Gotcha Day

I realize that tomorrow is March 25 - which means that 4 years ago this night I could barely sleep. We had gotten the call around 10 am that day with news that our daughter from Korea would be arriving at O'Hare International the next day.

At this time 4 yrs ago I probably had the bags packed, sent out the good news via email, and was making details with family and friends who were going as part of the welcome home entourage. Where does the time go?

Because Jesse and I have an event to go to tomorrow night we have no big plans to celebrate Gotcha Day. However, I did make a little lifebook for Abby with her story, and it rests in a matching box that contains the outfits that she arrived in along with a few items from Korea. In her closet is an American flag mylar balloon that has never lost its air. It is not tight any longer, but every year I have pulled it out of the closet for Gotcha Day to take a picture of her with it. Somehow I don't think she will cooperate this year - but no matter - I will take another photo. Jesse and I are interested to see how many years this balloon will last. I suspect tomorrow will be an emotional day as we remember and relive the moments when we held our daughter for the first time.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Just Like Me

"Lord, I want to be just like you - cause she wants to be just like me." These words, adapted from a song by Philips, Craig and Dean, really speak to me at this moment, after having just put my daughter, Abby, to bed. As I child I loved books and I loved to read. Indeed, my girl is more likely to cuddle with two books at night than she is a beloved, stuff animal. Her love of books reminds me of a little girl I used to know quite well.
As has become our routine, I read a story to Abby. Then she grabs the book-light, confiscated from her brother, shuts of the lights, crawls into bed, and reads me a book, or two. At four, she is not really reading, but giving a delightful account, often her own version, of the story by reading the pictures. Tonight as she is reading me to sleep while I rock in the chair, I hear the words, "blah, blah, blah". "What's that? It doesn't say blah, blah, blah!?" "I know mom, but I couldn't see that page so I said blah, blah, blah - just like you do," and we both laughed, and had a case of the giggles that brushed away all signs of sleepiness. Ah, yes, my daughter is truly becoming a reflection of me.
You see, the other night as I was reading the "Little Engine That Could" for the fourth night in a row, I inadvertently substituted "blah, blah, blah" for the repetitive part "...for all the good little girls and good little boys on the other side of the mountain so they will have good food to eat, and toys to play with." Or however, it goes. After many nights and page after page of the same sentence, I apparently could handle it no longer, and blurted out "blah, blah, blah" while reading the story. "Mom, it doesn't say that?" "What?" "Blah, blah, blah." "Did I say that?" "Yes, while you were reading...." OOPS!! I hadn't even realized it.
Although this story is humorous, it is a sobering reminder of how much our children look up to us. They watch every move we make, listen to every word - even when we don't realize what we are saying. They are growing up to be reflections of who we are as adults. When you look in the mirror what do you see? Would you like to see your son or daughter grow up to be that person you see in the mirror? Think about that for a moment. I know I am.
At this very moment I am keenly aware of how important my behavior is. How I treat others. What I say. How I drive (oh yes, Abby is very much the back seat driver and in tune with how I drive and not afraid to criticize), and wow - come to think of it - what I snack on! I guess I better eat more apples and keep those chocolates hidden until she's asleep, because afterall, I don't want her to grow up just like me! As a mom, I would like my daughter to grow up a better reflection of who I am. I guess it is never too late to change and become a better person. How is your reflection today?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Emotion of Memories

The second day of spring - calls are all done for the Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame contest, as well as honorable mentions. My phone was quiet - no surprise really. I even surpised myself at my lighthearted mood. I was in good spirits, so much so that friends gathered for Bible study on Monday night wondered why I was so happy. That was strange. Why was I exuding happiness, when in the past I was nervous, and on the verge of tears? I had prayed over my entry. I asked God for His will. He knows what is best for me in His great plan, and having "2007 Hall of Fame" tagged behind my name is not a part of His plan. I guess that is what made it okay. I think much of the happiness came from all the well wishes and private messges I had received in the last week before calls went out. I came to realize that there are people out there who really enjoy my work, and as one sweet soul said to me Sunday night, I have made her realize what really matters.

Even though I had my most solid entry ever, and I had raised the bar on my own photography - I knew that my entry lacked ONE consistent style. I had a simple, elegant layout allowing my photography to take center stage in my Joy layout - which fulfilled the assignment for exceptional photography.

Other layouts were inspirational, philosophical and metaphoric, and then there was a layout that made me and everyone laugh. It was different, it had lots of details - but it created the mood of the child in the photo that was dancing and laughing. Some recommended not to enter it as it did not match the rest of my entry, others said it was too precious and made them laugh, so I had to enter it. I loved that layout, and knowing that it would throw any consistency out the window I entered it anyhow. It was a true representation of who I am as a memory artist.

I don't scrapbook to be trendy, or try to gear my work towards the perception of "what's now" for the editors - I scrapbook my life - and that of my family. I have been musing over my style these past 48 hours... and I have decided that I am an artist of emotion.

My layouts are all about moods. Each its own creation, a reflection of the photogaphs - the moment, the event, the memory. Some are clean and graphic, others are fun with lighthearted doodles. There are pages that make me cry, pages that make me laugh. God has had a hand in every one of my layouts, for He created me to create. He gave me the gift of words, an eye for color, and a heart filled with passion for Him, my family and the world I live in. I am able to see things with my heart, take an empty 12x12 canvas, and fill it with emotion.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mud, Chocolate, and Hall of Fame

Wow - the past month has flown by - an entire month since my last post!! It has been so busy - making cards, and still not enough finished to make the basket appear full enough for the store. I have spent many hours on my nature photography and cropping prints just so, using some to create inspirational images for wall decor, placing print orders. Then on to display prep - shopping for frames, mats, cleaning glass, and framing photos. One thing for sure...I wish we had more blank walls in our home to decorate as I would love to have room for every framed photo! I love to bring nature indoors and capture its year round beauty.

Spring has arrived - warmer temperatures, melting snow. Melting snow equals run off down our road, and our son Kyle has been spending many hours in the past several weeks building a dam near the bus stop. This past week the kids had early release, and the weather was warm. All the kids in the neighborhood gathered to work on dam repair. I captured a number of great photos depicting March Mudness - and want to share one of our son and his friend engrossed in their project. This is such a great reminder of my own childhood and how much pleasure nature offers free of charge.

The Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame calls go out tomorrow, and I am trying, without success, to put this out of my mind. Friday I realized our house was void of dark chocolate, or any chocolate, or even ice cream for that matter. What a crisis!!! I NEED chocolate to get through a Monday of stress and hitting the ceiling every time the phone rings. (Family, friends - if you are reading this PLEASE make any necessary calls before noon on Monday!)

The praise music before worship this morning really spoke to me - and put me in the right frame of mind for this all important eve in the world of a HOF wanna-be. First, it reminded me that Hall of Famer or not - I am God's child and He loves me. I am important, because HE made me - flaws and gifts all rolled into one small town girl package. Secondly, I was reminded through lyrics that if/when I do well - not to seek the crown but to give God all the praise and glory. I pray that I never lose sight of the King who is Lord of lords and above all powers. Whether or not the phone rings here tomorrow afternoon, with that elusive Utah area code, is completely in His control. By midnight I will crawl into bed, thank God for my blessings and acknowlege that He knows my needs and what is best for me.

I head into my Monday with a glimmer of hope left...which has diminished more and more as the day draws near. My husband was a real sweetheart and brought home dark chocolate for me today. For the first time since last year at this time, I am leaving work promptly on time, picking up my daughter, and carrying the phone around the house with me wherever I go.

To all you HOF wanna-bes - I wish you the best - and don't ever forget what really matters. Today I received a message that made my day...a layout I had created (shown below) made a difference in the life of someone who was struggling with disappointment that comes when you have your hopes set on something of the secular world. When she read the words in my journaling, it reminded her of why she preserves memories, and refocus on God. No matter what happens tomorrow I will need to remind myself. Time to pull this layout out and set it near my phone. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!