"We are wishing Minjae a safe return to his home. Please tell him he is a *rock star* and we will miss him very much!" - The Monaghan's
"Please tell Minjae that we sure enjoyed getting to know him. We hope he has a great time on his trip to Florida, etc and a safe trip home. We will be praying for him and his family." - Craig and Kris Balvin (Brenton's parents)
"Anna will miss him! Sounds like he fit in perfectly with their class." - Parent of 7th grade student at St Dominic's
Thursday, June 9, 2016
"It is hard to believe it is actually over." was all I could think as I drove home from Minjae's goodbye party at the bowling alley with a lump in my throat and tears pooled underneath my bottom eyelids.
Where in the world did the nine months go since Minjae stepped off the airplane in September?
Last night it was obviously that everyone in the Balvin clan was in a little state of shock, unable to completely comprehend that the kid who had joined our family and brought us so many laughs wasn't around anymore.
We'll miss so many things about Minjae:
- Jacob will miss having a buddy around all the time. They loved to play NBA2K on the Xbox or go outside and play sports. We all learned what an amazing athlete Minjae is.
- Isabelle will miss bugging Minjae and trying to "get him going" with some meaningless argument.
- Andrew will miss having a wrestling buddy, someone who was always patient with his poking and slapping and physical contact. Even Minjae found his "Andrew breaking point" but his fuse was so much longer and burned so much slower than any of ours.
- Stephanie will miss the challenge and joy she got from proving Minjae wrong when he was so certain he was right. She'll also miss watching Minjae grow as a student and seeing him build friendships with his classmates.
- I'll miss so many things. Taking him to the YMCA to play hoops. The both of us flexing to compare our biceps. Eating spicy foods together. Shaking his bed and tickling him before he went to sleep.
We will all miss his kind and patient presence. The way he made us laugh. How he rolled with the crazy Balvin schedule. The things he taught us about Korea and about ourselves. The crazy things he'd say when he was playing games and getting competitive.
Minjae is a great kid and we couldn't have had a more perfect match of student to family. God was very gracious in bringing Minjae into our lives. It wasn't always easy, and I'm sure we could have done some things differently, but I wouldn't want it any other way, and our lives are so much better for the experience.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
St Dominic had a fundraising night a Carbones Pizza. This picture pretty much sums up the relationship between Jacob and Minjae. Pizza, sports, video games. These two guys love love to take each other on in NBA2K16. They trash talker each other and laugh and have some really close games. Plus, they share a love of food! A sausage pizza, a plate of nachos, or some buffalo wings don't last very long when these guys are around. I gotta fight for my right to get a bite. It's been neat to have a bigger brother around the house for Jacob to connect with. There was an adjustment period at first and it took Jacob a little while to connect with Minjae. I'm sure with them being so close in age Jacob was anxious about Minjae cutting into his network of relationships. Now, however, they get along really well and I'm sure Jacob will be sad to see Minjae leave in June.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
This is a picture of Minjae and his friend Luke. They went for a hike on Saturday with Luke's family. Minjae and Luke have become really good friends. They are in the same class at St Dominic School. When they are together they like to play basketball, watch sports or play video games. We are so grateful for Luke's family. From day one they have been excited and supportive of us having Minjae and they have done everything they can to make Minaje feel welcomed in Northfield.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Monday night was the St Dominic School Athletic Banquet. It was a short presentation with a speaker, some words from the team coaches and an awards presentation.
Minjae was one of the big award winners of the night. His teammates had a great time watching him win the awards (which all the players voted on at the end of the season). Minjae won both the Team Spirit Award and the MVP Award. The trophy he's holding in this picture has his name engraved on it and it sits in the St Dominic School trophy case all year long. Pretty cool for him.
Monday, April 4, 2016
A couple Saturdays ago we didn't have any plans so I let Stephanie sleep in and I took the kids down to Cabelas. There was no agenda so we spent about an hour wondering around looking at the stuffed animals, guns, fish and outdoor equipment. The kids look like they are having much more fun in these pictures than I think they really had. :)
As we were checking out (I bought Andrew a pocket knife) I noticed they were selling Moon Pies. Since Minjae's last name is Moon it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. There is a food in Korea that is similar to the Moon Pie. After eating the American version Minjae said that he liked it.
Friday, April 1, 2016
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Minjae enjoyed an afternoon of hiking and playing Frisbee gold with the Monaghan family. There son Daniel is a year older than Minjae. The two younger boys are in my daughter and son's class at St Dominic School. Mrs. Monaghan called and asked Stephanie and I if she could steal Minjae away for the afternoon and he had an absolute blast. It was beautiful weather for it as well. Couldn't ask for anything better.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Each year during Lent the 7/8th grade students at St Dominic School put on a meme show of the Stations of the Cross. The entire show is a very somber, serious remembrance of 12 scenes from Jesus last day on earth. The boy in white was Jesus and the girl in blue was Jesus' mother Mary. many Catholic people in the community come to the church to watch this presentation and to remember the sacrifice of Christ.
Minjae did a good job with his role. The students move slowly and deliberately around the stage, while a narrator explains what is happening in each station. Jacob and Izzy took turns off stage striking a drum to signify the changing of the scenes.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
The parent/child game happens at the end of every basketball season. I cannot describe how impressed I am at Minjae's basketball skill development. He has worked so hard to improve his dribbling and shooting. Often times he walks quietly out of our house and goes out to shoot hoops in the cul-de-sac. He'll shoot alone, in the cold, or even in the drizzle. He doesn't seem to mind. He just likes having the ball in his hands and his hard work shows.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Minjae is very good with little kids. This is a picture of him holding my nephew Isaiah. We were at The Cheesecake Factory celebrating my mom's birthday. Minjae ordered steak for dinner. Meat is one of his favorite foods and he said the Cheesecake Factory steak was really good.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
One sport Minjae has really taken a liking to is basketball. He loves to go to the YMCA and shoot hoops while I work out. Last night Stephanie took the boys to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves play the Boston Celtics. Stephanie won the tickets in a fundraising auction for our friend Shannon Kerr who is recovering from a bad car accident.
Minjae and the boys had a great time at the game. The Wolves won 124-22 and all the boys can home very excited! There are not too many places Minjae brings his camera but he snapped quite a few pictures at the game.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Last week Minjae twisted his ankle at basketball practice. He hobbled around the house for a day before Stephanie took him to the clinic. Minjae was convinced something was broken. Thankfully x-rays confirmed it was just a sprain. One major culture things here...Minjae was blown away by the cost of a doctor visit and x-rays. Medical care is way cheaper in Korea he said. So cheap, that people go to the doctor all the time, for the tiniest of things like a cough.
After visiting the clinic we told Minjae he needed to use the ice bucket to help his ankle heal. He really wants to get better so he can play in an upcoming basketball game. Minjae is shy but he has a quiet competitiveness to him. And he has really grown to love playing hoops. It was hilarious because Minjae didn't think the ice bucket would be a big deal.I filled up a bucket with ice and water and showed him how to soak his foot. The ordeal went a little like this...
Brenton: OK Minjae keep your foot in for 5 minutes.
Minjae: OK this is not a big deal.
Brenton: It is going to hurt but keep it in there.
Minjae: (slipping foot in) Oh, that is cold......(after a few seconds)....oh sure....(9 seconds later)....(pulling foot out of ice)...OH MY GOSH!!!!
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Took Minjae to watch the Northfield Raiders high school hockey game. Minjae really likes basketball but he doesn't like hockey so much. There are a lot of rules and it is cold and he's much rather be at the gym shooting hoops or back home playing his iPad. He's a good sport though, he goes along with it and sits quietly watching the game. He keeps asking me when they are going to fight and I have to explain that is only for the professional teams.
Friday, January 22, 2016
On Monday the kids had school off for Martin Luther King Day. Stephanie still had to be at school for some meetings so I took the day off from work and we went up to Burnsville for some fun.
We started out by checking out the 50% off sales at Unique Thrift store. Everyone found some really great stuff. Except for Minjae. He didn't seem too interested in sorting through other people's old clothes. I found a bunch of Iowa Hawkeye sweatshirts for some amazing prices. Andrew even found a train set he's been looking for!
After the Thrift Store we had a snack over at Costco. Minjae liked walking around the store and getting all the food samples.
Then we went to see the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We loved the Burnsville theater. They had reclining leather seats for each person! How do we ever sit in a regular movie theater chair again! All the kids enjoyed the movie. Izzy thought is was a little bit too long. Minjae said he'd seen the previous Star Wars movies but Izzy said he keep asking her questions during the movie and that a person next to them SHHH'ed them to be quiet. Ha!
I thought the movie was good. I really wanted the kids to see it in the theater instead of waiting to watch at home. Definitely the right choice. The movie was well done and fit with the character and tone of the original Star Wars movies.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Minjae is having a great time playing on the St. Dominic's basketball team. He has made so much progress in learning the game and in his skill development. He loves going to the YMCA at night to shoot baskets and play around with his friends there. Early this week he was wearing his glasses in warm-ups and a ball struck him in the face. His glasses broke and now he has cut on his face by his nose. First American battle wound!