Saturday, May 31, 2008

One Night in Bangkok

We’re in Bangkok!

While in Seoul we were able to IM with our Thai friend Fone to arrange when we can see each other. Unfortunately, she’s busy until after we have T, but at least we'll get to see her.

The flight from Seoul was in a slightly older and smaller aircraft, but was almost empty. The food wasn’t quite as spectacular as the first leg, but I wasn’t that hungry anyway and they made up for it with strawberry cheesecake ice cream for dessert. I managed to sleep for a few hours on the flight.

While somewhere over maybe Vietnam, we flew over a huge lightening storm that was amazingly beautiful to watch from above.

The Bangkok airport was not too bad. We made it through immigration fast, with almost no lines. Our cab driver spoke very little English and it was a slight challenge getting him to understand where our hotel was. Oh, and he also tried to kill us. The drivers here make Illinois drivers seem like babies on tricycles. (Sorry, Hannah and Sam!) Cabbie was zooming at speeds over 85 mph in and out of traffic moving often half our speed. Lanes seem to be optional. Kyle's lucky I bite my nails, or he would have had bloody claw marks on his arm.

When we pulled up to our hotel, there was a baby elephant on the street, along with a sea of people and shops. Kyle didn’t want to venture out last night though I was wide awake. We feel pretty good, but jet lag woke me up at 2am and Kyle at 4, so we’ll see how long into the day our energy lasts.

Here’s a view from our room on the 17th floor. You can see the Skytrain in the foreground. We’re heading down for breakfast and can’t wait to explore! First stop - Grand Palace.

-Robin

Seoul

We're more than half-way there! We have a 2 hours layover in Seoul, so we decided to jot down some notes from our adventure so far so we don't forget anything.


While we waited at O'Hare for our flight, we spent a lot of time looking at a really interesting exibit of pictures lining a full half of the hallways in the International Departures area. It was titled Material World, and showed photographs of families from all over the world. Each family was standing outside their home, and all of their personal belongings were outside with them. It was fascinating. And the kids who lived in the tiniest homes, whose parents had almost nothing, had smiles just as big as the family in Texas whose belgonings barely fit in their yard. Our favorite photo was the Thai family, obviously.The flight on Korean Air was really awesome (or at least as awesome as a coach flight can be). Take-off made me cry - I'm getting awfully emotional and excited. The stewardesses gave impecable service and when it was time for lunch, we were given the option of pasta or Bibimbap. The stewardess clearly wanted us to choose the pasta, and said, "The Bibimbap is a Korean dish. Very spicy." "Great. We'll take that." She looked concerned, and tentatively handed over our trays. Then she came back with an instruction sheet of how to mix all the ingredients together to eat it. It was DELICIOUS.

Kyle was sad there was no cartoon map of an airplane crawling excruciatingly slowly across the world (thankfully - they make me feel like we'll NEVER arrive). So when we looked out the window and saw mile after mile of beautiful mountains we weren't sure where we were. Our guess is Alaska or Russia. Either way, it was beautiful. Korea looks interesting from the air. I wish we had time to explore here. Maybe next time. =)

There was a little Korean boy around Thanu's age sitting a few rows ahead of us on the plane, and watching him giggle and smile made me tear up, too. He was so good for the entire flight. Boy, I hope we are that lucky! The stewardesses were very attentive to him and his family for the whole flight, so at least we think we'll get help if we need it.

That's all for now. Stay tuned.

-Robin

Friday, May 30, 2008

She knows...

Dogs are not stupid. Our dog, Punkin, comes across that way, but she's not. Since we got home from work yesterday, she's been extremely clingy. She's been watching us pack for well over a week in Thanu's room...and I think she has some hint of what's to come.

We're gonna miss her while we're gone.

Thanks for all the comments and positive thoughts. Next time you hear from us, we'll be in Bangkok.

-Kyle

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The deep breath before the parenthood plunge

I hope I'm not being too dramatic with the title for this entry, but I'm feeling oddly calm, considering what Robin and I are about to do. We're going on a wonderful adventure, but I'm thinking it will take the sight, smells, and heat of Bangkok for it to hit me.

In the meantime, here's what we've been up to. Robin's been the master preparer...this is mostly because she's awesome at it, but it's partly because I've been sick the last two days. I was completely useless yesterday. Thankfully, the illness subsided just in time for me to take care of the last minute home maintenance (lawn mowing, etc.)

Robin's done an expert job packing. She took me on a tour of some of the carry-ons tonight...all very well thought out. (Don't worry, I managed to pack my own luggage...I didn't leave ALL the work to her).

Robin also managed to book us some awesome activities for our time in Chiang Mai. We will be taking a cooking course one day...and on another, taking a tour of Doi Inthanon National Park. The tour setup is great...Robin e-mailed the tour group to book it, and they e-mailed back saying they couldn't pick us up from where we're staying, but for a couple extra hundred baht, they would just send a driver to us with a personal tour guide for a day (a fraction of the cost of actually booking a personal tour, mind you). SCORE! So, we're already feeling very good about the time we'll be spending in Chiang Mai.

So, now we're down to choosing the books we'll read on the plane and setting up the house so Robin's sister can hang out here (and graciously stock our shelves with fresh food right before we get home...thanks Mer!)

Our last evening at home, just us. I'd better take it in.

-Kyle

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bangkok Forecast, June 1

A mug with an expiration date

A co-worker of Kyle's gave us this mug after cleaning out her desk. It's been kind of fun and silly to use - and as I poured my decaf (I quit caffeine for the trip!) this morning, I realized I'll only get to use it 3 more mornings at home. We're really doing it! And it's starting to really feel like a little boy will live here, with piles of tiny folded laundry, his booster seat at the table, and us cursing every time we try to open the knife drawer without operating the safety latch.

Now I’m looking for a victim expectant mom to pass the traveling mug on to.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

5 days to go

This weekend has been a whirlwind of final preparations. We've run errands to get all kinds of last-minute things like baby gates and toilet lid locks, and we hit rummage sales and a friend's house to get T a few more clothes. We're basically packed and ready to go. The most important thing we did is organize a folder with all of our adoption documents. If we forget anything else, I'm sure we can get it in Thailand.

Saturday we took time to enjoy the farmer's market. Today we stopped at the local fire station to get our car safety seat installation inspected. (We passed!) We also went on a date to see Indiana Jones, and then ate at our very favorite Italian restaurant. Even though we don't eat out much, we've been going for so many years that the owner knows us (it's a tiny place). We told her tonight that next time we're there she'll have to break out the booster seat. Kyle showed her pictures of T, and she was so excited for us, she gave us one of her homemade cheesecakes on the house. Tonight's flavor was lemon-blueberry - delicious!

Now the only thing we really need to do before leaving is clean up the house a bit. Tomorrow will be spent decluttering and scrubbing. Free beer for anyone who wants to help...we start at 6am (the cleaning, not the drinking) !

And if I don't pull some of the weeds and last fall's dead plants out of the gardens tomorrow, there's going to be nothing left of our flowers.

And we haven't really planned out what we're going to spend time doing for the first week we're in Thailand. I've looked on the internet and in our guidebook and have some ideas. I just need to formalize a plan.

And my car just started making a horrid noise. I think it's saying, "Take me in for service before you drive me all the way to the airport, or you'll be sorry!"

And we haven't learned any Thai yet. Plenty of time for that, right? On the plane, maybe?

-Robin

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Paranoia

Kyle is my worrier, and the top of his worry list this week is our blog. So in the interest of keeping him sleeping full nights, and for all the reasons we can't think of, we've decided to switch over to a closed blog until the adoption is finalized.

This was a difficult decision for us - we cherish the connections and friends we've made through having an open blog, and the blogs of families that have gone before us have been an invaluable source of inspiration and advice. We also so appreciate all of the comments with well-wishes and advice that we've gotten from across the country and around the world in the last year. The support we've received has been amazing and we're very grateful. We hate the idea of making our blog private, but far more, we hate the thought of anything jeopardizing our adoption.

That said, we hope that all of you will continue to read our blog as we travel to bring our son home. If you're interested, send your email address to kyleandrobin at gmail dot com. We're more than happy to add you to our readership list. Once you get an invitation, Blogger requires you to sign in with a gmail account to read the blog. (You can get one for free if you don't already have one.)

We plan to switch over on Wednesday, May 28th. We hope to hear from you before then!

-Robin

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Awesome co-workers

My co-workers threw me a surprise party today to celebrate our adoption. I was lead to believe everyone was planning a party for someone else and I was suppose to be the confederate that got him in the room...turns out I was the one they were out to surprise.

When I entered the room, I found this bookshelf waiting for me...with TONS of books. It was the perfect gift. Not only are we very excited about having lots of books to read, but we were looking for a bookshelf...the one they got was just the right size. Also take note of the toys, and the blocks that spell his name.The party also included an awesome potluck lunch. The instigator, Cathy, also took a recorder around the room to get everyone to talk about their favorite children's book. The whole event was extremely thoughtful.
I keep realizing how lucky we are to have such support from friends and family. Over and over, the people in our lives show us support, and every time it happens it makes it harder for me to believe there are actually people out there who don't experience the same enthusiasm from the people close to them.

I guess I don't want to take that for granted. So, thank you...everyone.

-Kyle

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Party

This weekend Robin's family hosted a shower for us and a birthday party for T. It was perfect timing for T's birthday and our travel date.

There was a great turnout...over 30 people were able to make it...and there was a lot of enthusiasm for T.

There were LOTS of wonderful presents...Robin and I are busy going through them today...and trying hard to stay on task without playing with some of the new toys. As you can see from the picture, we were buried in presents.

Ewan, lead the charge in the kitchen cooking up an amazing Thai feast. Everyone pitched in, but Ewan took control of the kitchen and worked his magic. He makes stuff without looking at recipes...I like cooking, but I need very specific instructions (I don't even like to be told to add a "dash" of something"...if it's 1/8 teaspoon, say so!). The food got rave reviews.

The weather could have been a little better. We had hoped to let people sit outside and play games in the yard...no luck there.
So now, we're back home and trying to unwind from the busy weekend. We have a lot of stuff to unpack, and we're trying to find places for everything. One thing we realized early is that it would be a good idea to put some toys in storage and rotate the collection. A fresh batch of toys would seem to keep up the enthusiasm for play time.

The cake was great. It was a hazelnut cake with sliced strawberries and chocolate butter cream frosting. The little elephant holding the candle comes from a collection of animals Robin's mom has. We were sure to freeze some of the cake so T can enjoy making a mess out of it when he gets home.

Thanks to everyone who came. It's great that we have such a supportive group of friends and family behind us.

Update

As you can see, T is doing very well with his foster family. We were very grateful to get an update so close to our travel date. This new report is from the end of February.

We can't wait to meet him!


-Kyle

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy 1st Birthday!!

Happy Birthday, Sweetie. We wish we were there with you to celebrate, but we're thinking of you, your foster family, and your birth mom, who must think of you every day and today especially. We've watched you grow up in pictures, and now we can't wait to see you with our own eyes. In two weeks we'll be on our way to you, bringing lots of hugs and kisses. You already have our hearts.

-Mom and Dad

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Are we ready to travel?

I had always assumed that the last two weeks before we traveled would be hectic and crazy. So, I'm a little befuddled when I find that we're really not facing much pressure to be ready to go on time.

I find myself going through the "list" everyday and recalculating in my head, just to make absolutely sure I'm not forgetting something. Everyday the math works out...there's lots to do, but plenty of time to do it.

Of course, I might actually be forgetting something....it wouldn't be the first time.

-Kyle

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Coffee

I'm not a coffee addict...at least not in the sense that I need it to get out of bed and off to work in the morning. I LIKE coffee, and dropping it cold turkey typically results in some headaches.

Robin has convinced me that I should drop the habit, at least until we get back from Thailand. Access to coffee will be unreliable...we'll be very busy...and the jet lag will only compound the issue. It makes sense to quit.

But, the fact that I have to begin weaning myself soon is a sign of how close we are to traveling. Time is moving remarkably fast.

It's funny how you start counting down your "lasts"...for instance, later this week might be my "last" trip to the grocery store before we leave.

What's crazier is to know that nearly a month from now, we'll be home...and life will be unrecognizable from what it is now.

Something tells me I'll be back to drinking coffee by then.

-Kyle

Friday, May 9, 2008

Current project

One of the gifts we're bringing T's foster family is a book that tells a bit about us. We hope they'll be happy to know a little about what it's like where we live. We are including pictures of Thanu's future elementary school, the little neighborhood park we'll play at, and pictures of his grandparents and aunts and uncles.

We also included some basic information about Wisconsin with pictures of farms, forests, cities, and a little about the weather here. We added a picture of our yard after snowstorm. They might get a kick out of that.

It's been a pretty big task to put it all together, but last week I finally got it translated. I'm currently copying and pasting the Thai text into all the pages. We're using Blurb software to make the book - the software is free to download to your computer. You upload the finished product to their website and pay for a hard or soft-bound book, the size of your choice. It's easy to use and I've made one in the past that turned out looking great. We hope they like it. We wanted to think of something personal to give them, and with the hot weather, knitting them a blanket was out.

-Robin

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Relief

After some stressful days not knowing the status of our I-600 application, the documents we need to travel showed up today.

It's a great relief. I've spent so much time on this recently, I haven't gotten much else accomplished (as you might notice with our lack of blog activity).

Reviewing everything that remains to be done before we depart, I feel pretty darn good right now.

I'll have quite the smile on my face the rest of the week.

-Kyle

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Little Boys

When we first began our adoption process, I imagined having a daughter. I grew up with a little sister, so I assumed I'd be better at parenting a girl. When our agency told us we'd most likely be matched with a son, it took me about 1 nanosecond to be equally excited about that. Initially I was nervous because little boys are less familiar to me. As we've gotten more ready to bring T home, I'm discovering I can't wait for the adventure! I reread A.A. Milne's "The World of Christopher Robin" this week, which is full of absolutely wonderful poems about life with a little boy. Poor Kyle is stuck listening to me read the poems to him in T's absence. My favorite is below.
Forgiven, by A.A.Milne

I found a little beetle; so that Beetle was his name,
And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same.
I put him in a match-box, and I kept him all the day ...
And Nanny let my beetle out -
Yes, Nanny let my beetle out -
She went and let my beetle out -
And Beetle ran away.

She said she didn't mean it, and I never said she did,
She said she wanted matches and she just took off the lid,
She said that she was sorry, but it's difficult to catch
An excited sort of beetle you've mistaken for a match.

She said that she was sorry, and I really mustn't mind,
As there's lots and lots of beetles which she's certain we could find,
If we looked about the garden for the holes where beetles hid -
And we'd get another match-box and write BEETLE on the lid.

We went to all the places which a beetle might be near,
And we made the sort of noises which a beetle likes to hear,
And I saw a kind of something, and I gave a sort of shout:
"A beetle-house and Alexander Beetle coming out!"

It was Alexander Beetle I'm as certain as can be,
And he had a sort of look as if he thought it must be Me,
And he had a sort of look as if he thought he ought to say:
"I'm very very sorry that I tried to run away."

And Nanny's very sorry too for you-know-what-she-did,
And she's writing ALEXANDER very blackly on the lid,
So Nan and Me are friends, because it's difficult to catch
An excited Alexander you've mistaken for a match.

I'm really looking forward to beetle hunting.
-Robin

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sacrifice of Foster Parents

The Bangkok Post has an article about foster parents working for Sahathai Foundation, the foundation our agency is partnered with. I often think of Thanu's foster family, and hope that I will be able to somehow let them know how eternally grateful we are that they have given our son love for the first year of his life.

-Robin