Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our Digital Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas! 5 Days ago...

We did not manage to send out Christmas cards this year, nor did I manage to get this Christmas letter/ blog post out before Christmas. But Christmas was less than a week ago, so I am still just a tiny bit proud of myself for writing this at 6:30am, before the year is up!

We had a ridiculously memorable year! It started off with some hard, crappy, sad, and difficult things, but as seasons change, so did the trajectory of our year, and we experienced many wonderful, amazing, unexpectedly incredible things.

In the winter, we were still a family of six. We still had little J with us (who came to us in July 2014), and she turned 2 in January, and I kid you not- that's when things started to go downhill for us. Terrible twos is real people. As real as paper, princesses (Kate Middleton.), PMS, and psoriasis. I happened to be struggling with the worst outbreak of psoriasis of my life, that had started in November, and didn't disappear until about April. If you missed out on that ugly chapter of my life, you can read more about it here . We had friends going through very difficult times too, and it was as if this dark cloud was just looming over us. Chris had become a sergeant in October, but was working nights and weekends and it was a really difficult transition for me. The moral of the story is: everything was very difficult for me in this particular season of life.

But the not-so-difficult things were that Lily turned 8 and Topher turned 7 just as we were transitioning to the spring. Lily is really starting to blossom with her piano playing, and Topher amazes us with his origami skills! Lily and Topher are still great buds (having them a year apart was totally worth it!) and they love playing video games together on the weekends and playing crazy games that they make up with their cousins. Spring was definitely better than winter, especially because J was in childcare during the week, which helped me to catch my breath and regain some of my sanity. I felt guilty about sending her to school, especially cause I am a stay-at-home mom and Mia was still home with me, but what I learned in this season of life was that I needed help, and I needed to accept it without guilt or shame.

Summer turned out to be all kinds of wonderful. Though this is usually my least favorite season of the year, living in the desert and all, but it ended up being so very enjoyable! We went camping with Barb and Jerry and , and though it was surprisingly very wet and cold, we enjoyed being with our family. Then we went to Toronto! We got to meet Jordan, my newest nephew, eat tons of food, hang out with our family and friends, and Chris and I managed to get away for three days to pre-celebrate our 10 year anniversary. It was SO GLORIOUS. I didn't ever think it would be possible for Chris and I to get away without our 4 kids, but we did it with the help of all the Hams in Toronto and Robert and Lindsay back in Arizona, who watched J for 10 days!! Then we came back home to the sweltering heat, but Chris got a schedule change so we were seeing more of his beautiful face at home. We managed to see my parents again for a weekend in Las Vegas while J stayed with Wes and Kim. Shortly after that, J went back home to be with her family (you can read about that here) and we decided to take a month break from foster care to regroup and rejuvenate. Even though I ended up in the ER after I threw out my back a week after she left, I was feeling so great! Having three kids can be hard, but having four kids, can be really hard- especially when one of them is a toddler and toddlers are not your jam. So after J went home, having only 3 kids felt like a dream.

Then fall continued on this dreamy high- I won an all-expense paid trip to New York through Wendy's Lookbook, Marissa Webb, and Banana Republic. IT WAS THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!! If for some reason you missed out on that fabulous chapter of my life, you can read about it here, here, here, or just click on the labels that say 'jihae does NYFW15'. This was also made possible with the village of people who helped out with the three kids. My friends and family are seriously SO INCREDIBLE!!! The day after I got back from New York, we went back on the list to get a foster baby (ONLY a foster baby! no more toddlers!) and we got one. A sweet little guy that was 2 weeks old. And then he left the next day. That was fast and crazy, and another unexpected blessing. (You can read about it here.) Our newest little guy, who is our third foster child, is still with us. He goes by W here on the blog, and he is a magical little being. We looooooooooooooove having a baby in the house again! And we adore him specifically. Then Chris went on a mission trip to Israel, which was an incredible, and beautiful experience. One of the biggest blessings of that trip was seeing God provide for the funding of that trip. Chris had to raise $3,800 and was very worried before the trip about how he would raise that. But as I mentioned before, our community is an incredible and generous one, and so Chris ended up raising more than $5,000, which helped some of his teammates out quite a bit too. Thanks to all who were part of this miracle and gave so very very generously! The day after Chris got back from Israel, he started at his new position as a sergeant at the police academy. This means he works normal hours during the week! We get to hang out EVERY WEEKEND! Together! As a family! It's the best!!!!!

 And now winter is back, but so very different from the winter we started off with. We are a family of six again, but a sane, and stable family of six. Mia turned 4 in November and is just so much fun to be around! Unless she's being crazy and having a tantrum. But otherwise she is so delightful and enjoys playing with Playdoh, Barbies, and Peppa Pig. Lily often plays with her and it brings my heart so much joy to see these sweet sisters playing together even though there is a 4.5 year gap between them. Speaking of sisters- I finally saw mine again! Jeehon and her family had been stationed in Singapore since August of 2014, so I didn't see them for over a year! So just this last week we all went to Las Vegas to celebrate Christmas (such an appropriate place to celebrate the birth of Christ our Saviour!) with The Malloys and my parents and my brother's family. It was so great for all 7 Ham cousins to be together, and everyone got to meet W and love on him too. I met my nephew Sunjae (yes that's Topher's Korean name too, but they are spelled differently in Korean, and therefore mean different things.) for the first time, and my heart feels complete and full having spent a whole week with my family.

Chris and I have been married for 10 years now and we are so thankful for this last decade together. It's had some downs, and lots of ups. I was looking through our wedding pictures recently and came across our wedding invitation which had our verse on it:

"A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." (Ecc 4:12)

 No matter the season, we are so thankful for God's provision, mercy, love, and grace. He has protected us from much, and saved us from more. As we wrap up another year, we are always amazed at the people who are standing around us, supporting us in all that we do. Thanks for walking through 2015 with us.

thanks Barb for taking these great pictures in your beautiful backyard!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Stuggle is Over!


Oh my sweet, precious, last born. She is so crazy I don't even know where to begin with her!

I am going to be completely honest with you for a second here. I started this struggle series a few weeks ago, because something happened that I was VERY embarrassed about. And I didn't want to talk about it with others, because it was so embarrassing. But then I remembered that people have honestly actually come up to me and told me that my life looks perfect, and I realized I needed to be much more open about my struggles. I don't lie about stuff here on this blog, nor do I intentionally try to dupe anyone into thinking that my life is too good to be true. Did you read my posts about my first foster placement? I was a pretty serious disaster back then. And, oh wait. I still am today. I don't know how people could ever get the perception of perfection from looking at me, but I am here to proclaim that I am very mediocre and I am ok with that!

So, back to Mia. And my embarrassment. Mia just turned 4 last week. Two weeks ago? And even though she honestly potty trained herself at about 20 months of age (bless those older siblings of hers that I have been whining about!) she has not been able to sleep without a Pull-Up. She's FOUR. The diaper industry has been robbing me blind for almost 8 consecutive years!

I am realizing more and more that children's bladders are like snowflakes- not a single one of them is the same. Lily was successfully potty trained by her third birthday. But we had two VERY unsuccessful, and one VERY TRAUMATIC attempts before that glorious day that she no longer needed a diaper. She night trained herself within two or three days and the poop training took a bit longer, with the help of lots of Miralax and lots of prayers. Topher was potty trained before he was two, but he wasn't night trained until he was about three. His bladder was pretty small so he had a lot of accidents compared to Lily who had hardly any. Then Mia was on the same track as her brother, but then eclipsed the time that she required to become night trained.

I tried so many things with her: making sure she didn't drink anything after 6:30pm (she goes to bed at about 8), waking her up in the middle of the night to pee, making her do bikram yoga before bed so that she had no moisture left in her body... Just kidding. We really did try to bribe her with clothes, toys, and candy. But nothing worked. Do you know why? Cause her bladder is a snowflake. It wasn't and isn't like anyone elses. I was SO PROUD of her early potty training accomplishment, even though I know I truly had nothing to do with it. But then I was so embarrassed about her inability to stop peeing at night, even though I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!

Parents who are trying to potty train your babes: Relax. Don't compare your kid to any other kid.
There's no point. Your kid is a snowflake.

I started writing this post over two weeks ago. And miraculously enough- MIA NO LONGER WEARS A PULL UP TO BED! She had a week of waking up dry then wet every other night for about a week. And then her bladder decided to pull up it's big girl panties one day and the flood gates were closed! It has been so wonderful! And I am so happy for Mia and myself. So the struggle is OVER! I WON THE POTTY TRAINING WAR!!!!! Even though I had nothing to do with it.