Monday, January 31, 2011

This is it

This is it. Or rather, about half of it. My job this week is to proof this much of the final MS on paper. Maybe I’m handicapped from spending the first half of my life in the era before personal computers, when I wrote in long hand, then used a typewriter for the final copy. But I simply can’t do more than a macro level of copyediting on a computer. I still have to read on paper with a pen in hand.

Several weeks ago, I was delighted when someone I highly respect offered to write a Foreword for the book. I accepted on the spot, then on the drive home thought, “Yikes! I think I needed my publisher’s permission to add anything not specified in the contract!”  Fortunately, our editors agreed this Foreword is worth waiting for. So I’ve enjoyed a slightly slower pace on the manuscript these past few weeks while we wait. “The End” is in sight!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


In Seoul this morning, the staff at my favorite adoption agency is settling in for an extra-busy, extra-short week of work before the Lunar New Year holiday. I hope they know how much we appreciate them! A friend of mine expressed it so beautifully that I want to share the link to a post from the heart of a very grateful mom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dreaming of Spring

It isn't hard to dream of spring at the end of January with a foot and half of snow on the ground and below zero temps again in the forecast. But tonight a friend reminded of the pleasures of rumaging through old photo files. Look what I found. Could it be that Mercy and Hope were ever this small?!

These were taken nearly five years ago, in April 2006, just weeks before Faith and I made our first mommy-daughter trip to Korea. I hoped to get a few good photos to add to the girls' files at Eastern just in case anyone ever looked.

I hope that someone saw these beautiful faces and smiled through their tears like I am tonight.

On the other side of the world, other mothers dream of spring, too.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

They're Home!

UrbanServant  is home!  More photo evidence from this morning's moving party!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Puppy love

Now that we are beginning to move out of Daisy's crazy puppy days, I'm smitten with our pup.

Does she know that I'm the one who said we'd never have  a dog? Has she tried to win me over because I was the toughest nut to crack?

Or does she follow me around like she's attached to me by an invisble thread because day in and out, I am the only female in the house who doesn't dress her up in doll bonnets, speak to her in baby talk ("Oh! My Daisy Wasie Puppy Schnookums! Aren't you the cutest puppy-wuppy ever?!") and make her nap in my arms like a baby?

Or perhaps more simply it is that I am the gatekeeper of the GOOD food: Joy's leftover chicken and grilled cheese?

In any case, I'm just admitting that I was wrong. In the deepest recesses of my heart there was hidden some unexpected puppy love. For Daisy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


CareCalendar is a tool every adoptive family could use. Bringing home a new child is not unlike giving birth to one in terms of the demands on a family's time in the first weeks a child is home. Ideally, an adoptive family's support circle contains at least one other adoptive family who, having been-there-done-that, offers to coordinate meals and other practical offers of help.

The practical question is, How? None of us can anticipate how the transition will go, so it can be hard to guess what we'll need. Some also find it hard to ask for help, imagining that asking someone to coordinate will be an imposition.

Enter CareCalendar: a free on-line tool that helps you, or a friend acting on your behalf, easily coordinate offers to help. Once your calendar is set up with the needs you specify, CareCalendar provides a calendar number and a matching access code unique to your family. You or your coordinator email the codes to friends, who then follow the link to your page. There, volunteers will find a calendar listing your needs (like meals or childcare) in red. To fill a need, volunteers click on a need and fill out a very short form. Needs that have been met are shown in green. In the case of meals, the calendar also displays the promised main course to help avoid a whole week's worth of spaghetti.

The CareCalendar is linked to GoogleMaps for easy access to directions to your house and also contains a "news" page you can update like a blog with information specific to your needs. The system also helpfully prompts for things like food sensitivities, dislikes, if you have freezer space, and the time you usually eat dinner.

I have used two CareCalendars, one for a friend who had surgery, and the other for friends moving back to the state. From the stand point of a user and a coordinator, the system is set up beautifully. A user who volunteers to meet a need gets an email receipt a few minutes later, then a reminder email the day before. The coordinator gets an email every time someone volunteers so it is easy to stay on top of which needs remain. The coordinator also has a contact list so if, for example, a blizzard changes the appointed day and time for unloading the moving van, I can easily contact the volunteers to reschedule. The family being helped --you--can also easily check to see the help coming your way.

CareCalendar is very flexible --a must-have with the uncertainties of adoption travel and settling in. Too many meals? Delete some. Realize later that some regular play dates for your other kids would be a blessing? Add them. Need help longer than you expected? The calendar is easily extended.

CareCalendar is free, a ministry of the family who developed it and who runs the site. Donations are accepted and a sponsorship of $10 per month is suggested --and well worth it! They also have an option allowing organizations like a church to sponsor any number of CareCalendars for a year with a single suggested donation.

So, adopting friends with travel calls on the horizon: add one more fun thing to your to-dolist during these last days of your wait: click on over to CareCalendar and check it out!

P.S. Any one interested in viewing the UrbanServant CareCalendar for their move back home, please email me and I will send you the access information! zeman 1102 at usfamily dot net in usual form.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Therapy Twins

We are fortunate to live five minutes away from the most exclusive, most fun gym on the eastern side of the Twin Cities, owned by our friends at Family Achievment Center, better known as FAC. Joy is fortunate to get to play there five days a week; she has either pysical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), or a speech appointment every day. Hope just joined her for her own OT appointments two days per week. It is really convenient for me to have two kids in terapy simultaniously. (I love how FAC was willing to work this out.) And Joy and Hope enjoy "playing" together in the gym at the end of their sessions.

It may not look like hard work, but this activity is a work-out for both of them. Joy has to hold on (in the therapy world, this is "sustained grasp") and balance through the acceleration and decelleration of the swing.

While Hope is not just swinging. She is propelling the swing by rowing rythmically on handles attached to the ceiling, which gives her the joint and deep muscle stimulation she needs to feel calm and focus.

The girls don't know this is good for them. They just know that they are having fun and feel great when they're done!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fun Find & Great Deal! Uncle Goose blocks

Have you seen these beautiful wooden alphabet blocks? Uncle Goose makes these blocks in sixteen languages! If you want a set in Hangul, you can't beat this deal at Pacifier: Enter coupon code "koreablocks20" at checkout to get 20% off.  Besides running a really hip kids store, Pacifier's owners have a heart for adoption and were of significant help on a recent initiative to bless foster families in Korea. If you have the chance to patronize Pacifier and say, "Thanks," do!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seven Years of Mercy

자비는 이제 일곱살짜리 꼬마가있다

Seven years ago today, I was a first time waiter. We had accepted a referral the previous July and were stuck in the quota backlog, anticipating a February travel call. When the call finally came, we were devastated to learn that the little girl we were waiting for was not meant to be our daughter.

Seven years ago today, another baby girl, only a few days old, was admitted to the Eastern Babies' Hospital.

Seven years ago today God was already preparing a great mercy to salve a tragedy that was still six weeks in our future. When the crisis came, God met it with Mercy. Last week, our living, breathing reminder that God is good all the time turned seven.

The two watches? Mercy is our walking chronograph. She wears the striped watch during the day and the purple watch at night --just in case the power fails and she can't see her alarm clock :). She makes us smile every single day.

Thank you God, for your great mercy. And for Mercy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Smile of the Week...

...goes to Hope, who, snuggled next to me in the big green chair, sounded out her first reader this week! I am beaming, not because I am gifted at teaching kids to read (Faith couldn't blend until first grade; Mercy taught herself at three) but because Hope wanted to learn to read so much and bent every molecule of her will power to mentally attend so she didn't lose the first two sounds in a CVC (consanant-vowel-consanant) word before she got to the third. Then she sustained it for a whole little book!

The next day, she sustained it for the next book in the series, which conatins twice as many words. So we celebrated by going to the library to get her own library card and icecream cones.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Life goes on without me

Research is fun. Writing is even more fun. But editing the final manuscript of this book is about as fun as cleaning house after a party is over.

However, by the grace of God, we're going to make it. I'm tremendously cheered this week by news from a few fronts indicating that barring something unforeseen like influenza hitting our house, we'll be turning in the manuscript on time! Only twenty more days or so and it should be out of my hands. In the mean time, here are two glimpses I caught of my family's life as I passed through on my way to my desk.

Joy and her daddy having some fun with counting bears before he put her to bed.

Mercy and Hope had earlier made a batch of "bear soup" in the basket. Joy found the basket on the couch and had a blast first, moving each bear from one side of the basket to the other, then pitching them one by one onto the floor.

Hope's apology.

The night before, Mercy came in from playing outside. She was in tears with scratches on her arms from, she said, accidentally slipping on the big snow hill (six or seven feet tall) in our cul-de-sac. The slide down the icy slope had pushed her jacket sleeves up and she was scraped by the icy snow. A little later, Mercy came back to me and ammended her story: It wasn't really a slip. Hope pushed her. Ever-quick to defend her best friend, Mercy added that she didn't think Hope was trying to hurt her. Rather, she thought Hope was having fun.

Hope came in shortly thereafter, pained at the natural consequence: her best friend was done playing outside. Mercy and I showed her the scrapes, trying to be non-judgemental because that pushes Hope into a corner. Hope volunteered that she was sorry Mercy had gotten hurt; she hadn't pushed her; Mercy had fun sliding. I just sighed. Hope is impulsive and sometimes that means people unintentionally get hurt, like when she gave Mercy a tackle-hug at the edge of a fish pond in Korea. (A story for another day.) But Hope can't help it and it is really hard to gauge how much she understands about her behaviors having consequences. So Mercy and I let it go.

But the next day, Hope brought me this picture she had drawn, a visual confession of sorts. Her own face is expressionless, which I'm choosing to interpret as being conflicted. Yes, Mercy is smiling, not scared. But this is Hope's point of view and Hope would have had a blast sliding down the snow mountain. Mostly, it is remarkable because it shows Hope actually reflected on it and concluded that she was an actor in the drama. Moreover, she felt the need to confess as much to me and to Hope. For her, that is huge. And it is hopeful. I'm so grateful God let me in on it.