Lovely Gift

This is a catch up post… from December. Yes – December – 3.5 months behind people! Better late then never right?

In December, Matt’s Uncle Dean and Aunt Judy went on a trip to Australia and on the way back spent a night in Seoul. I had asked them if I could give them a few bucks to pick something up for Alex, but with the hype of Christmas I forgot in the end. But we were quite lucky that they still brought back a few gifts for our Korean boy!

A rubic’s cube type puzzle of all traditional Korean images and a Penji – a Korean spinning toy. ¬†That spinning top is quite the toy – it’s a bit tricky!

They also gave him a team Korea football jersey! It will fit him in a year or so, but perfect for our little “Fighter”!

Thank you Dean and Judy!

Our Trip Home

Sorry for the delay getting some news on our trip home up – but well, we have had our hands full! ūüėČ

Leaving SWS

We left the SWS at 3pm, with some sadness, but mostly excitement to be going back home.¬† Our social worker arranged a van to take us to where we had to pick up the airport bus, and when we got there, the bus was waiting, so we quickly hopped on.¬† About 45 minutes into our trip to the airport the coat catastrophe happened.¬† Matt realized he left the shell to his jacked in our room at the SWS.¬† While that wasn’t the best thing to have¬†happened, we thought oh well, can always get a new coat… but then he realized all of the extra cash we had brought was in the front pocket!! So what to do… take the shuttle back to the hotel, grab the coat, and shuttle it back to the airport (would take almost 3 hours), or see what Information could do at the airport.¬† The lady at Information was great!¬† She arranged for a motorcycle courier to bring it to us.¬† Luckily we had arrived at the airport with plenty of time!¬† So after about an hour, we heard Matt’s name being paged, and 70000 won later, we had the jacked!¬† During the wait we checked our luggage and got our boarding passes.¬† Unfortunately due to the large number of babies on the flight we were unable to get bulkhead seats which really sucked – but what can you do!¬† There had to be about 20+ children 1 and younger on our flight.¬†

The Incheon airport is quite something – it is essentially like a giant mall!¬† I went to the toy store when on a quest for water and found a toy Korean Air airplane which I could not resist – so it now sits on Alex’s bookshelf.¬† The flight was on time, and was very full.¬† Alex would not take his bottle on take off – instead he cried and screamed – and once the seatbelt sign went off – he started to laugh.¬† I ordered a large white wine.

Overall, Alex was very good on the flight.¬† The Ergo was a life saver!¬† When he did fuss, I simply walked the plane, and the little passage at the back.¬†¬†I’m glad we were not the only ones with a somewhat restless baby!¬† He slept quite a few hours, I unfortunately did not – and am paying for it now (very bad jet lag – I think I have slept maybe 10 hours since Thursday … Korean time – so Wednesday Ontario time).¬† Again, Alex did not want his bottle during the landing – but his ears did not seem to bug him thank goodness.¬†

When we deboarded, we had to go wait in line at Customs, and then in line at Immigration. Luckily we were spotted by some staff members in the very long immigration line, and we were moved to the front of the line – and in no time Alex was welcomed to Canada!¬† I got a little teary at that point.¬† After our luggage was found we went to the Arrivals area where our friends and family were anxiously waiting for us!¬† It was so good to see everyone!¬† My Mom, brother, friend Kelly, friend Melinda and her husband and children, my Aunt Diane and Uncle Steven, and Matt’s Dad and Matt’s godson Tyson all made the long trip to greet us.¬† Here are a couple pictures of our happy moment.¬† I will be adding a slideshow when I have more time…

Arrival

Welcome Home Sign

The way home wasn’t so happy – for Alex that is!¬† I don’t think he has ever been in a car seat before – and he let us know that he did not like it!¬† About 30 minutes of screaming started our 1.5 hour trip home.¬†¬†

When we got home, our house was all decorated Рanother great surprise.  Jason and Kelly had done the outside and Nathan and Heather decorated the inside.   Thank you everyone!

Front Door

Since then we have had very little sleep.  From jet lag, to Alex thinking night is day Рbut it is so worth it.  Once I get a few hours of sleep I will post some more on our first few days home and what being a parent has been like!  For everyone who has e-mailed or called, I will get back to you in the next few days.

Coming Home!

Today we leave to come home!¬† In about 6 more hours (3pm) the SWS van will be coming for us and will take us to the Renaissance Hotel.¬† From there we will be taking the KAL Airport Bus to the Incheon Airport.¬† We will be there pretty early, but this way we can be relaxed and get the customs and immigration paperwork done without a rush.¬†¬† I believe I have heard that there is a family zone there for babies / kids to play, so hopefully we can find that space.¬†¬† I just hope Alex goes #2 before we leave…¬† Prunes kick in please!¬†

The flight leaves at 8:45pm, and arrives in Toronto at 7:45pm… the same day – today will be our Groundhog Day.¬† My Mom, brother, friend Melinda, Matt’s Dad and Godson will all be at the airport to greet us.¬† If one of you are reading this, can you try to get a picture of the arrival board showing our flight has arrived?¬† I’d love to have one for his life book.

Seoul has been quite the experience, culturally and emotionally.¬† I can’t believe we left as a family of 2 and are coming home as a family of 3!!¬† Exactly 10 months from start of home study to bringing baby home!¬† What a whirlwind!

Gotta run – we have spit up ūüėČ

Forever Family Day

At 10:50am, we went over to the Social Welfare Society hospital to finally get Alex forever.¬† When we got there, the foster mom and Alex were in the sitting room, we joined them.¬† The foster mom gave us a number of bottles, cloths, clothes, and a few toys.¬† The SWS gave us a necklace with a Korean flag on it – engraved¬†on the back is Alex’s Korean name and birth date.¬†¬† They showed us how to prepare¬†one of his bottles, I tried to feed him, but wasn’t doing it right obviously because the FM came and took over…¬†I took notes ūüėȬ† One other beautiful keepsake was an album full of pictures since Alex was in her care (July).

It was really tough when we had to leave.  The goodbyes occured at the elevator.  Let me just say it was very emotional.

 Back at the guest room we played and got to know each other a bit.  We changed our first wet diaper, and now he is starting to get cranky.  He needs a nap and Matt is trying to get him to sleep. 

The Robinson Three!

What a beautiful and special day.

Beautiful Boy

Day 5

Today we decided to visit a couple markets.   Seoul is well known for its shopping and markets.  First we went to Namdaemum Market.  This market is very old and has thousands of vendors.  It was very busy Рcars, vans, motorcycles and lots of people in the very narrow aisles.  

Market

I¬†was able to try a hantok – a pancake¬†filled with cinnamon and brown¬†sugar… it was so good I had to have¬†a second ūüėČ

Hantoks!

We bought a new set of pjs for Alex and a blanket for him to play on the room here.    The floors are laminate and are not so child friendly.   And just like the guide book says, the vendors do jump over the counters to help you!  The lady we got the pjs from did that.  To be honest, the market was very interesting (pig heads, silk worm larve, seaweed, etc), but it was too confusing and more than a little crazy. 

We then ventured to Dongdaemun Market.¬† This one is a collection of over 10 malls, each with about 9 floors filled with vendors.¬† Again, this was too crazy for us.¬† We were also very hungry and couldn’t find a place with English menus, so we ended up eating some questionable food – beef or tendons… not sure.

So we got out of there.¬† Matt was tired of shopping so he went back to the guest house.¬† Pat and I went back to Insadong and finished buying souvenirs.¬† When there we bought kkul tarea – a traditional court cake.¬† It was served to kings and queens.¬† We saw a demonstration of how it is made – they take rock hard honey and they stretch it to turn it into 16,000 strands similar to hair!¬† There is a peanut filling that is added – pretty tasty!¬† We then went back to the subway to make our way home… it was busy, but luckily the butt pushers were not out yet!

Not sure what we will be doing for dinner – last night the restaurant we wanted was hosting a private party, so we ended up with Dominoes Pizza (it came wrapped in a red ribbon!).¬†¬† This will be the last meal before Alex arrives!¬† Tomorrow at 11am… Yeah!

Day 4

This morning we went to the DMZ!  Highlights included going to Freedom Bridge, going down into the 3rd tunnel and the Dana Observatory. 

Us at Freedom Bridge

The 3rd tunnel was discovered 52km from Seoul in 1978.   Turns out North Koreans were digging tunnels to invade the South again, and when the tunnels were discovered, they claimed they were coal tunnels and painted the walls black.   We walked way down in the tunnel and had to wear helmets.   I wish we had been able to take photos but they were strictly forbidden. 

Pushing Korea back together...

We also went to Dana and got to look over to propaganda village in North Korea.  We were so close to the border! 

Dana Observatory Platform

We got to go to the Amethyst factory at the end of the tour.  Amethyst is the jewel of Korea and of course, Pat and I could not resist!  She got a necklace and I got a necklace and set of earrings!

After we got let off in Itaewon where there is a large American military presence.¬† We ate, wandered around a bit, and then took a TAXI BACK!!¬† And they MADE ME GO IN THE FRONT SEAT!!¬† I was so brave.¬† We had a great taxi driver thank goodness!¬† Not sure what is in store for dinner – perhaps sweet and sour pork and some noodles… yum!

Day 3

On Saturday we went to “Downtown Seoul”.¬† We got our T Metro cards and ventured onto the subway.¬† The subway here is very easy to use, lots of English, and it is safe and clean.¬† We first went to Changdeokgun Place.¬† This was the palace used by many Joseon kings since 1104.¬† We needed to take a guided tour and it was worth it!¬† It was a beautiful place.

Entrance to Palace

 

Leave it to me to find a library!

Leave it to me to find a library!

After we left the palace, we went to Insadong Market!¬†¬†We loved it!¬† There were hundreds of little shops selling traditional souvenirs and lots of Korean pottery.¬† We bought a few goodies, and even got Alex’s name put on a stamp featuring the year of the rat¬†symbol.¬† When the lady who was making it discovered that we were adopting she kept thanking us and gave us a discount.¬†

We then ventured out of the market to get some lunch (traditional Subway… ) and to go to City Hall to catch a City Bus Tour.¬† What a mess that was.¬† We got really lost due to a major demonstration and police presence that was going on.¬† I’m talking at least a thousand¬†police officers and tonnes of police buses.¬† Turns out there is a number of areas that are marked for redevelopment and tenants are demanding better compensation.¬† Last week¬†during another protest 5 people died when the police intervened and there is a warrant out for the tenants leader.¬† So we got really turned around, but in the end we found the bus tour and toured around Seoul to get a grasp of what the city is made up of.¬† We got off and walked up to Seoul Tower and looked over the city at dusk¬†– what a beautiful (and huge) place – including the suburbs there are over 23 million people!¬† Second largest in the world!

Eventually we got back and went once again to Yeoksam Station and had some Vietnamese Soup – yummy!

Rest of Day 2

So yesterday before we went to meet Alex we went to the EMart Рsomething like a Walmart.  It was pretty cool Рlots of interesting foods Рa whole counter devoted to styles of kimchi, and lots of fish!  The really interesting thing was the walk there however. Here are a couple of neat pics.

After we got home from EMart, we got ready to go meet Alex! We went over to the SWS hospital and met our case worker.¬† She then packed us all in a van and we were driven about 30 minutes east of the city to the foster mom’s home.¬† It was on the 5th floor of a building – lots of stairs!

When she opened the door, we were ushered in and it took me a few seconds to realize that Alex was strapped to her back in a baby carrier!¬† We all sat on the floor, and Alex was put in front of us and he just looked at us with a “Robinson” look – he had just woken up, so he was kinda grouchy.¬† That didn’t last long.¬† Within a minute he was holding Matt’s finger and smiling.¬† He is so freaking cute!¬† Of course, earlier that day he had been trying to stand up and he fell, and banged his head, so he has a couple of bruises on his face.¬† Soon enough we were holding him – it was awesome.¬† He has very chunky feet and hands, and he is a very big boy.¬† I really don’t think the clothing we brought is going to fit him!¬† I packed 6-12 months (he turns 9 months this coming Monday), but he is already over¬†20lbs!!¬† Very sturdy little boy.¬† I am going to have massive muscles very shortly!

seoul-2009-0291

The foster mom served us a homemade rice juice (very good!) and some fruit and rice cakes (tasty – but chewy).¬† While we ate, I asked the questions about Alex and we found out he is quite the social baby.¬†¬† He likes to stay up until midnight and wake up at 6 – he wants to be where the people are.¬† We will be changing his sleeping habits as soon as we can ūüėČ

Alex was intrigued by me Рhe kept staring at me Рperhaps the blue eyes.  He also loved my necklace and it quickly found its way into his mouth.  I think the Who Loves Baby album we had sent over helped in some brief recognition of us.  We have much more video footage of him than pictures, so when we get home we will break it down into photos and post them and some video.

Krista & Alex

 

It was hard to leave, but knowing that in just a few days we will have him forever made it somewhat easier.

One more pic of Alex… sorry – dont’ have my cropping software here.

 

seoul-2009-0311

After we got back we celebrated with a bottle of wine and talked about meeting Alex and how amazing it was.¬† Around 6:30 we went out to dinner at Yeoksam subway station.¬† There are a lot of great places to eat down there!¬† We went to a Korean /¬† Chinese¬†restaurant and had rice bowls.¬† I made the bad move of ordering Kung Pow Chicken… VERY HOT!¬† Matt ended up eating most of it for us. The kimchi there was very tasty.¬† At the end of the meal, a bowl of grape frozen yogurt was served – AWESOME!¬† We keep trying to eat with the chopsticks, but usually within a few minutes, forks are being delivered.¬† We stick out so much!¬†

Anyhow, in bed by 9.

Today we will be going to Changdeokgun Place and Insadon Market to look for mementos to bring home.

Morning of Day 2

Matt and I got a solid 8 hours of sleep last night.. thank goodness!¬† I feel really refreshed.¬† Pat got a few hours, but still feels better than yesterday.¬† Matt and I woke up around 4:30am, and by 6:30am we were out looking for Starbucks.¬† Unfortunately it does not open until 7am!! So we found the next best thing – McDonalds!¬† Yep – hotcakes and Sausage McMuffins before 7am… comfort food.¬† We have had problems ordering coffee – so for those planning on travelling soon be sure you learn kopi¬† (koh-pee) … thanks Christine!¬†

We have just been hanging out in the room this morning, preparing the gifts for the foster family, and we might venture out to the Emart to get some more supplies.¬† We don’t want to venture too far… because at 1:30 we get to go meet Alex!¬† Pat, Matt’s mom will be videotaping it so we can have our hands free ūüôā¬† Lots of pictures to come soon….

I can’t believe this day is finally here.

Getting Here and Day 1

So we left Stratford at 2pm on Tuesday January 27 and hung out at the Pearson International Airport in Toronto until our flight at 7:50pm.  We were on a small Air Eagle plane Рand there was turbulence.  Not fun Рbut luckily the flight was only 1 hour.  We got to JFK just before 9, and had to go from terminal 8 to 1 which consisted of lots of walking to find the shuttle.  When we got to terminal 1, all of the restaurants, bars and stores were CLOSED!  And we had just had a snack in Toronto, so waiting until our flight to Seoul at 12:50am was tough Рespecially for Matt.   To further our problem we were told that our luggage might not make it Рbut it did!  Phew.

The Korean Air plane was¬†HUGE!¬†¬† Just under 400 passengers.¬† Unfortunately we did not get upgraded to first class…¬† Barb & Andy – you were very lucky!¬† The stewardesses are amazing!¬† They gave us headphones, toothbrushes, socks, blankets, facial wipes, hot wash cloths – and BABY FOOD!¬† Turns out somehow the airlines thought Alex was travelling with us both ways (even though we only have a ticket for him coming home) so they gave us the formula and baby food they had on the flight for him – they were wonderful.

The airline food…¬† Well the stewardesses were pretty shocked that we wanted the traditional Korean offerings.¬† The main meal was Bibimbab, seaweed soup, and pickles.¬†¬† We even received instructions on how to eat the bibimbab.

Dinner

For breakfast, Matt and Pat chose the American dish – I again went Korean – Green Tea Porridge… won’t do that again.¬† That wasn’t for me.

Breakfast

The flight was very long.¬† We flew over northern Canada,¬†Russia, China, and around North Korea (guess we couldn’t use their air space).¬† I didn’t sleep very much.¬† It was really cool being able to see the stars…

The Incheon airport was really easy to navigate and we hung out for a while waiting for the KAL bus.  Pat and I drank hot tea and coffee from cans and bottles Рvery cool!

Just before 8am, we found the SWS very easily thanks to Belinda & Steve’s directions (Thanks!).¬† Our room is nice – nothing too fancy.¬† We tried to sleep a bit, but couldn’t… so around noon we ventured out looking for lunch.¬† We discovered how much we depend on the English language!¬† Very few signs in English.¬† We ended up just getting pizza (I know – we chickened out!), but it was very good.¬† I went back to the SWS to rest while Matt and Pat went touring.¬† They met a very nice man who insisted that they went up to his apartment to visit.¬† Turns out he has a son in Toronto.¬† He was very kind.¬†

We hung out until about 6 and then the door man took us to Neul Bo Ree, a Korean Restaurant around the corner.  We had to sit on the ground which was a new experience.  We ordered Bulgogi Рtasty Рand there was lots of food!  We did not eat it all.

 Dinner in Korea

Gosh – that is a bad picture of me.

There is another family on our floor who got their baby boy today!  I hope we get to see him.

So now we are going to try to sleep.  Tomorrow at 1:30 we go to meet Alex!