Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just take a train....


This is my latest handcraft. It's made from an embroidery kit that I bought about this time last year. One of our local home building supply stores was getting rid of their crafts section, and the kits were marked down to $7 from their regular $30!! So, I bought 3 of them. We didn't have DX's referral at that point. And we sure didn't know he'd enjoy trains as much as he does! Anyways, the embroidery has been on my nightstand for months, and I've been picking away at it in small doses. It's nice to see it finally framed! Now, I'll have to see if I can pick up the pace with the ones I bought for the girls.


Here's DX with his two new "Thomas the Tank Engine" trains that he got in the mail on Christmas Eve from the lovely Channing!! Channing and her Mom were part of our travel group of 12 families. One of the Moms organized a not-so-secret Santa gift exchange (thanks Tracey!). It's so great to be able to keep in touch with these families. I hope we can keep it up as the years go by. The kids are all doing so great!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Nice Video

A link to this video was on the LWB blog today- and I just had to post it here in case anyone reading has missed it.

It's the short story of a family in the US who adopted two children from China. The second child is a boy, who the Thorntons found on a Waiting Child list. What is so wonderful about the video is that they talk so candidly about being fearful about how other people will react to their child's visible need, and then talk about how, after being home for a year, their son is really THEIR SON!

Their experience echoes so much with us- both the fears and the joys. This is our first Christmas with DX, and watching him yesterday opening his presents, I suddenly realized that he is in every way imaginable truly our child. The next time someone asks me if the girls are "your own?", I think I'll say... "Yes, and our son is our own in every way you can imagine." The fact that we don't share genes just does not matter. Not one bit. But most of you who are reading this already know all about that. Watch the video anyways!

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1111406010/bclid932553089/bctid1355448067

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our Christmas Lovelies

Our girls don't like posing for pictures very much, so this photo is a real coupe!

DX is having day surgery on January 4th.

We saw the second ENT on Wednesday of this week, and he wants to move quickly. He says that the most common condition like this in 3 year olds is a cholesteotoma (the benign cyst thingy), but he's not sure that this is what we're dealing with, as there is some vascularization of the growth apparent on the CT scan.

So, he needs to have a "look-see" and, hopefully, can remove whatever it is. Cross your fingers for us that this turns out to be nothing unexpected.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm so out of touch...


I feel as if I've been out of touch with what's going on in my regular internet circles for ages. I guess it's mostly only been 3 weeks or so.

I've been trying to catch up tonight on some blog visiting and yahoo groups reading, but I just can't finish it all. And I feel sort of... guilty. That can't be too healthy. Blogging is supposed to be an outlet, not a compulsion, right!?!

Anyways, DX's palate repair got the thumbs-up from his surgeon yesterday. Healed lovely, and now he can eat french fries again! However, there is something odd going on in one of his ears. After being unable to insert a tube in one ear, his ENT ordered a CT scan. It turns out that there is a small growth in that ear... probably something called a "cholesteotoma" (a benign cyst)... but we see a more specialized ENT surgeon tomorrow who will give us the details.

I'm still quilting... I decided to piece together a strip scrap quilt for a fabulous friend whose birthday is in January. I have the top done, and I just need to pin the three layers together and quilt it. I also have to finish quilting DX's OHGWQ and put a border on my daughter's quilt top. But I guess we need to get the Christmas tree up first!! Oh my... what's the date? There are still some Christmas cards to go out!

Oh, here's DX's first interaction with Santa Claus... it can only get better from there!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Love Without Boundaries- The Story of a Boy

This true story, written last year by Amy Eldridge, director of the charity Love Without Boundaries, has recently been re-posted on a couple of the Yahoo groups I read. It is so moving, and so worth reading, that I have to put it here:

*******************************************************************
From: "Amy Eldridge" >
Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 00:21:26 -0600
Subject: [chinatrip] The Story of a Boy

Sometimes children have such a strong will to beat the odds that their stories deserve to be told. Sometimes children give me so much inspiration that I keep their photos by my desk in order to feel their strength when my own is faltering. Sometimes there are children that I know are destined to impact the world in some wonderful way. This is the story of one such boy.

This little boy was born with a severe cleft lip and palate, and when he came into the world, he was already too tiny to survive. But he did. When the police brought him to the orphanage, he weighed just 4 pounds. You couldn't really call him a beautiful baby, but immediately the orphanage knew he was a determined baby. Even as a newborn, he would lie awake in
his crib looking around. His orphanage was a poor one, down a long rural road, and even though the women who were caring for him were extremely kind, they were also extremely busy trying to make sure all of the babies in their care got at least a few bottles a day. This little boy couldn't eat well. When you are born with a cleft lip and palate, often the simplest act of
drinking from a bottle is next to impossible. You WANT to eat, (boy do you want to eat), but when the milk comes out fast from a regular bottle, you choke and gasp and sometimes even give up trying. This little boy wanted to eat, he really did, but it just wasn't working for him. And so as the months went by, he didn't seem to grow any bigger.

The aunties and orphanage director were really worried about him, but there was no one in their town that knew about cleft lips, and so they honestly didn't know what to do. They kept trying their best, but the baby still didn't gain weight.

In September, we took a cleft surgery team to China in order to perform surgery on as many orphans as possible. We had heard about this little boy from an adoptive parent who had visited the orphanage, and so we called the director to see if he could possibly come to Luoyang. Now that I have been in much of this province, I realize what a long journey it can be to get city to city. We were on one side of the province, and they were on the other. Yet when we called them to say "we would be happy to help this baby", the orphanage was so filled with hope for this child that they were in the car with him 30 minutes after our phone call. Six hours later they arrived, and I will never forget them hurrying into the room to bring him to me. They had him all bundled up, and immediately I could see that he was far too tiny for his age. And yet there was something so amazing about his eyes. They stared out at you as if to say "please don't give up on me".

Our whole team fell in love with this tiny little boy. Our volunteers gave him a warm bath, and we put him in clean clothes and wrapped him up in a new blanket, and then we got out the cleft bottle. These bottles cannot be bought in China. None of us have been able to figure out why yet, but we sure are asking a lot of companies to look into it for us. Cleft bottles
are often ESSENTIAL bottles to the tiny babies with cleft who are unable to feed well. They are soft bodied, so a caregiver can squeeze the formula into a baby's mouth. We filled up one of these bottles with warm formula, and "Hercules" (as he came to be known on that mission) had the first full bottle of his life. I don't think any of us had a dry eye when he finished.

All through the night, our volunteers rocked him and held him and most of all fed him. One mom curled up on a cot and placed baby Hercules right next to her to sleep. He was all bundled up and warm, and I am sure he had some of his sweetest dreams ever that night.

By the next day, he was already looking so much better, but he was nowhere near heavy enough to have a cleft operation. We required our babies to be at least 10 pounds for their safety during surgery, and he was only up to 7.
He had a ways to go. When we broke the news to the orphanage staff, they were so disappointed. They had been so hopeful that he could be healed. We sent the aunties home with a bag full of cleft bottles and several huge cans of the best formula we could find. We assured them that as soon as this little boy hit 10 pounds, we would make sure he had surgery.

All of us hated to see him go. We had all enjoyed holding him, and I think since he was the size of a newborn, all of us moms enjoyed sitting on a cot rocking him and cooing at him. Boy did he have a tight grip! He constantly reached out for your hand and would grab onto one finger and refuse to let go. When he left, I have to admit that I started to cry, wondering if he could keep that fighting spirit inside of him. Every day after I got back home, I would pray for baby Hercules.

In December, a few months after returning from China, I got a feeling in my heart so strong that I had to go to his orphanage. I knew that was crazy..as we are in the process of adopting and I would be going back again in the spring. But I heard it so clearly.."go to Henan".

When I told my husband, he was understandably skeptical. Who wouldn't be? He knew I would be going in the spring to bring our son home, and of course..we were saving for our adoption and an "extra" trip to China wasn't exactly in our budget. Everyone with our foundation pays their own way to China each time we go, and this trip definitely wasn't in the "game plan".
But over and over I kept hearing, "you need to go to Henan."

I think I told everyone the funny story about it being our 20th wedding anniversary in December. My dear husband was trying to figure out the best gift to give me, and when he googled "20th anniversary wedding gift", he just stared at the results that came back, for the traditional gift that a man gives his wife on year 20 is CHINA. Now of course the old giftmakers meant china as in plates, but thankfully my husband looked at that and just started laughing. God was giving him a very clear sign that his gift for me was to head overseas. And so I did.

As I walked into the orphanage baby room in January, there was only one baby on my mind, and he was in the second crib over. There was little Hercules, sucking on his two fingers the same way he had on the cleft mission, and looking just as wise as ever. Oh he was still so tiny, and as I held him, I knew in my heart that he was getting more and more tired of fighting.

I just can't say enough good things about the workers in this orphanage. They told us over and over how much they wanted him to gain weight but that he just couldn't eat well since there were so many babies and not enough
hands. "He needs one on one care", they told me. And even as they said it, I knew exactly where he needed to be. This little boy needed to go to Beijing, to the Hope Foster Home, where he could have his own aunty who was trained to work with little fighters like him.

I knew that the Hills often have a long waiting list of babies with special needs who require extra care. We have asked them many times to help with children we meet who medically would be called "critical". With a deep breath, I borrowed my friend's cell phone and rang Joyce Hill. "There is this baby...." (I began as always).. "How fast can you get him here?" (she answered right back).

As I hung up the phone, I knew that this little boy was going to make it. I knew that HE was the little boy that we were in China for. Would you fly all the way across the world for just one little child? I know we all would. There is a very good reason we chose "Every Child Counts" as our motto, and little Hercules had proven once again that each child we can touch is a blessing beyond belief. His life and ours had crossed months before on the cleft mission, and now they were going to continue together until he was well.

The next day, we started our treacherous journey through the snow and ice to the airport, with two very near misses of what could have been fatal accidents. We sat in the airport for almost two days, with no heat and a blizzard going on outside, and all flights out of Henan cancelled. People around us were angry...people all around us were frustrated and upset. But my friend and I could not stop smiling. We both had a peace inside our hearts that I cannot even describe. It didn't matter that we were snowed in, it didn't matter that we couldn't feel our toes anymore. All that mattered is that we had come to China to see one tiny little boy, who would soon be on his way to healing. We were laughing and smiling, and we must have been so out of place amongst all of the anger and frustration because more than one group of people came up to us to say "you are having too much fun so let us in on your secret." To which we replied, laughing once more to each other, "oh we are just SO HAPPY!"

Since there was a major snowstorm in the region, getting the baby to Beijing was going to be difficult, but the orphanage said that as soon as they could move him they would. All of the trains were sold out for the Chinese spring festival, but they finally were able to find space on a train leaving New Year's Day. This is a day typically spent with one's family,
and no one who can avoid it works on that day, but as I said...these aunties want to help their babies so much that they said, "we'll take those tickets" without a second thought. And so on New Year's Day, two aunties and baby Hercules boarded a train to his new life. We have already received photos and updates, and he is downing a full cleft bottle every 3 hours and charming everyone with his wise little eyes. Until his adoption, he is now "home". And I know he is going to thrive because I have seen the strength inside him.

I told you that I have photos all around me of children that have beaten the odds. Their faces stare out at me from my office walls, and sometimes when I am up late at night, I will take a moment to look at each one of them and say a prayer of thanksgiving that they are in this world. One of my dear friends told me that it is impossible to fully measure the worth of one person's life, because that person will go on to touch others, who will touch others...in a never ending cycle of humanity.
Now Hercules' photo stares out at me, and I pray for him each day and know he will "do great things" on this earth. Maybe he will be a doctor, maybe he will be the one to invent a cure for cancer, maybe he will be a loving and gentle daddy someday. I cannot wait to watch him grow. I hope someday I will see him adopted, and that his family can tell him how many people loved him and prayed for him when he was just a tiny baby boy. How his aunties drove so far in September with tender hope in their hearts that our doctors could heal him....how two moms from America flew all the way to China to make sure he was doing okay...how his caregivers agreed to leave their own families on New Year's Day to travel by train to Beijing, clinging once more to the hopethat he could find help. And he did.

That's a pretty good story already for a little boy just nine months old, don't you think? And as I
stare at his photo tonight..I know with such certainty that it is just the beginning of a TRUE story of great things to come.

With a very grateful heart,

Amy
************************************************

If you're still reading this through a blur of tears, you might want to help. In the US, an organization called "Fujian Kids" ( http://www.fujiankids.org/assist/cleft.shtml )is trying to make sure that cleft nursers get to children like Hercules in China.

If you are in Canada, you can donate to support their efforts. You can also donate directly to Love Without Boundaries (see link on the right). Or, if you are travelling to China, you might want to consider purchasing some cleft nursers and bringing them with you for an orphanage donation. With over 27,000 cleft-affected children born each year in China (most of them ending up in the orphanage system), all orphanages can make good use of these cleft nursers. The bottles can be ordered on-line, or contact the Cleft/Craniofacial Team at your local children's hospital and see if they can be purchased through them. In our case, our Cleft Team donated a case of nursers- we broke down the box and the individual cases of 6 nursers fit perfectly in a large suitcase we took along. They weighed almost nothing, and we had a great empty suitcase in which to bring home souveniers!

I hope this "Story of A Boy" inspires you as much as it does me. Every child *does* count.

Monday, December 3, 2007

One down, a few more to go...


Ta-da! Our Advent Calendar is finally finished! OK, so its a few days late, but the kids won't care.

I'm quite pleased with the project. It has loads of mistakes (LOL!). But if you don't make mistakes along the way, you don't learn, right? Now, I'm a little less anxious about quilting DX's OHGW quilt and my daughter's quilt. Thinking about the bindings for the quilts still gives me willies, though. My whipstitching on the back of the Advent calendar binding is terrible. If there are any seasoned quilters with advice about that, I'd be pleased to hear it.

DX is doing better and better each day. Today, one week post-surgery, I'd say that he's almost totally back to himself. No Tempra needed at all since yesterday, in fact. It's amazing how quickly kids' bodies heal.
And here's something I realized today- he is *singing* all the time the past few days. He didn't do much of that before his surgery, at least not that I can recall. He sings the theme to The Backyardigans and to Thomas & Friends, and he sings songs that we learned at the weekly playgroup we've been going to since September (he's never sang while we're there). Of course, the words are not clear yet, but he's got the tunes down pat and he "gives 'er at the top of his lungs", as we'd say.

Maybe he's realized that his voice sounds different? Maybe singing is easier now with his palate closed? Whatever the reason, he's letting loose. And, yes, it is a joyous sound!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Home Again!

DX came home from the hospital yesterday and all is going really well, so far.
He was a real trooper in the hospital. Less than 24 hours after his palate surgery, he was drinking and eating. When his sisters came for a visit, he played and laughed. He tolerates his arm restraints- although he knows how to get them off by himself already. I guess you just can't keep a good kid down!
Here we are hanging out in his room (we both had seen better days!):

Here he is with the teddy that his Nan brought him, and playing with Mom's hair clip (thank goodness for those things!):


And, here he is, at home, showing the dogs his fancy new arm 'bracelets':

So, overall, things are good. The palate surgery did not seem awfully hard on him- although he had some pain off and on, as expected. All we are using now is Tempra, when he seems to need it (not often).

The whole experience was not as big a deal as I had prepared myself for. Of course, the surgeon and his nurses were fabulous, so that helped. And I will admit that he has a "take whatever comes" type of personality, so that helps A LOT! But if anyone is considering adopting a child with a cleft issue and is worried about the surgeries that will be needed, I have to say that, for us, at least, it really wasn't that bad.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Work in progress


Here's a snap of the not-pressed, full of stray cat hair, top of the advent calendar I'm working on for the kids. The imperfect border is pieced together from scraps- some Christmas-y fabrics and some not so much. The applique snowperson is made from an old t-shirt. I did buy some felt for his/her hat and the background for the star.





Is this picture out of focus? Or is it my aging eyes? Probably a little of both.

I debated quite a lot what to "write" on it. Merry Christmas? Let It Snow? Dear Santa-? (I had a pattern for all of these phrases in a book). I decided on "Comfort & Joy" because that's really my wish for the kids- and for everyone- during the Christmas season and beyond.

Of course, my 8 year old looks at it and the first thing she says is "Mom, why'd you write 'comfort & joy'? What the heck does that mean?" I say... "you know the song... (clearing throat)... oh-h, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy...oh-h...etc., etc." She just gave me a puzzled look and walked away. I guess that one didn't ring a bell for her!

I've now got to stitch the numbers 1- 24 on the little felt pockets for the count-down. I figure that I can take my embroidery thread and needle to the hospital with me next week and that will give me something to do if/when DX sleeps.

BTW, the basis idea for the advent calendar came from "Australian Country Threads" the Special Christmas in July edition from 2006. It's a great quilting magazine- I tend to like it a lot better than some of the others. More projects and less advertising. Check it out sometime.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Been a bit busy...

The blog has been suffering from a bit of neglect, I'm afraid. I've been a tad busy- like we all get from time to time.

I'm still in the middle of DX's quilt- the top is done, the back is done, now I need to sandwhich it all together and quilt it. Should be fun. I've also started a second quilt for Daughter #2- the top of this one is totally from scraps of fabric that I had for quilt square swaps- so the fabric is mostly "brights" and some Laurel Burch fabric that I dearly love. It's going to be really cute! (BTW, I just found out that Laurel Burch passed away recently- I'm so sad about that- I just think her fabrics are so wonderful!)

I'm also making a quilted Advent Calendar for the kids... it involves some embroidery, and its sort of a spare project that I can work on a bit while DX & I are waiting for the girls at their school. It's being done on the fly all the time, so it's definitely not perfect- but I'll post a picture of it when I'm done.

We're also preparing for DX's upcoming palate surgery- it will be this Monday. So, after the weekend, I'll definitely be out of touch for a few days, as we get through the hospital bit. But I will post to let everyone know how he's doing.

Hope everyone has a good Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quilt Cat


Cats love quilting... especially the part when you're laying out your quilt top to size everything up.

Yes, as soon as my nearly-finished quilt top was on the dining room table this morning, the cat appears from nowhere, plants herself in the middle of it all, licks her paw, and gives me an adoring look that says "Thank-you, dahr-ling, I was looking for a new spot to lie down!". She was less impressed when I unceremoniously dumped her on the chair.

Interestingly enough, all of the quilters in my quilting class are owned by cats! Isn't that funny? There must be some kind of synergy in appreciating cats and enjoying the creative process of quilting.
So, the quilt is coming along. I think I could seriously get into this.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Rights of a Child?

I fear we are entering a time in which international adoption will become less and less possible.

Why?

Well, its certainly not because there are going to be fewer children needing loving families. If that were the case, we'd all be only too delighted to see IA decrease. In fact, it is likely that the numbers of orphans will increase in coming years in some countries- particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, as the devestation of AIDS leaves families destroyed in its wake.

Rather, the reasons for the increasing endangerment of IA are political and have nothing to do with providing families for children.

On the international stage, big players like UNICEF are using their clout to discourage IA. Their concerns for the "rights of the child" focus on the child's right to his or her heritage, to his right to remain in his country of origin instead of being relocated to another culture.

This is certainly something to consider. Children do have a birthright to their heritage and their culture... few people would argue with that. But, here's the thing: a child raised in his culture in an institution (or on the streets), without a sense of permanency, is impacted for life. And I mean that quite literally. We are learning that a lack of early nurturing results in physiological changes in a child's developing brain. Without the stability of becoming part of a permanent family, these changes can become a proverbial "cross to carry" for rest of the child's life.

Cultural knowledge or a sense of heritage do not, and cannot, make up for the neurophysiological impacts of being raised without the individualized attention that children get from parents. It does not matter how much of a "model" the institution is, or how good the social services and support programs designed to help these kids are. Children need the consistent care and love of at least one adult in their lives. Children need parents. Children need to be part of a family. There are no substitutes for family- whether the family is formed through birth or adoption.


This doesn't mean that IA is the answer for all kids in all situations where they cannot be raised by their birth parents. But it is the answer for some. Maybe, for many.

I would wager, though, that the total number of IAs in North America will begin to decrease, as there are already (temporary?) closures of programs like Guatemala (which has accounted for a significant number of US adoptions), as the referrals of children from large adoption programs like China slow down, and as there is an increasing tension domestically for prospective parents to adopt children born in their own country.

In several provinces in Canada, we are seeing the Ministries responsible for approving adoptions discouraging families from adopting outside their home province. This is completely ironic, since there are huge waiting lists of families trying to adopt children in most of the provinces, and the average wait for a healthy infant is somewhere around a decade! Some officials have actually spoken publicly to encourage families to adopt domestically instead of internationally (e.g., a recent interview in BC), while, in other provinces, the pressure is a lot more subtle. But there is little doubt that adoptive parents are facing more than their fair share of obstacles on the way to forming their families through IA in many provinces. My own included.

I hope that I'm just being pessimistic, and in the way that most things in life wax and wane, attitudes about IA will become more positive again. But as IA parents, I think we need to be on our guard, and be ready to stand up to the giants like UNICEF as well as the decision makers in our own provinces and states.

The rights of many children to grow up with the love of a family are at stake.

For an excellent article about the closure of Guatemala's IA program, read this Washington Post article by Elizabeth Bartholet, called Slamming the Door on Adoption.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Love Without Boundaries Videos

One of my favorite groups, Love Without Boundaries, helps many, many children in China. They recently posted a new video about their work on YouTube. You can find it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgOlmEU4VX4

I am most moved by their video about cleft-affected children, though, for obvious reasons. There are so many cleft kids in orphanages in China, mostly because average Chinese families just cannot afford the necessary surgery for a child born with a cleft lip/palate. These families are left with little choice but to leave their child for an orphanage- probably with the hope that the child will get the care and treatment he or she will need. Here, in North America, cleft lip/palate is a medical need that is so easy to correct. It is almost unimaginable that it so often takes children away from their families in China. Eventually, we all hope that this won't need to happen. But, for now, the reality is that it does happen and there is a big need for the work of groups like LWB.

Take a look at LWB's work with cleft babies:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween feast yesterday.
My kids had a blast... although my 10- and-a-half year old was NOT impressed that DX and I picked them up from school in full costume! They embarass easily at that age, I guess!!
Here are my little trick-or-treaters....

Monday, October 29, 2007

The last 2 months...

DX's first concert:


Flying a kite bought in Tiananmen Square:


Snapping pics with his big sisters:






Nice hat...
...and chocolate milk moustache!



Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quilting Fun



News flash: DX's 100 Good Wishes Quilt is officially a work-in-progress! And I have the pictures to prove it! OK, OK, I'm just at the very beginning, but I expect that within 5 weeks, I'll have something much more substantial. Maybe even a finished quilt. This is my first quilt, ever... despite the fact that I've been hoarding quilting books since I was in my 20s.

I decided that if I was really ever going to make the quilt, instead of just taking out all my squares every few weeks and admiring them, I'd better set aside some designated quilting time each week. With 3 kids around, that time either had to be late at night, when I'm not firing on all pistons, or somewhere outside the house. A couple of months ago, my mother and I went to a new quilt shop to check it out. I was speaking to the owner, telling her about the project, and she suggested signing up for their "Scrap Quilt" class. Three hours a week of nothing but quilting! (Did I really say that?? Pinch me, I must be dreaming!)

We had the first class yesterday, and I began making these 6 blocks. Each week, we'll add on more pieces until we have the blocks completed, and then add the borders and backing. I'm actually using the "alternate cutting" instructions for my quilt, so I can get in more of the squares that people have sent me. But, with a pieced scrappy border, as well as the blocks, I'm sure that I can work all the squares in.

I just love working with textiles and fibres. It's so satisfying to see a piece of fabric transformed, or to watch a ball of wool become something you can snuggle up under or wear.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recommended Read



I have to tell you all about this cookbook, written by 2 dieticians at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It's called "Better Food For Kids". The recipes are not fancy- just easy and wholesome. There are sections on "Snacks" and "Desserts" that you can feed your kids and feel good about. And guess what? The kids will even eat them!!! Who can resist chewy chocolate chip cookies?

I've had the book for about 2 weeks now, and have used it a lot for everything from breakfast to dinner. For younger children, there is a book called "Better Food for Babies", written by the same authors.

If you find yourself needing some new cooking ideas for the whole family, check these books out.

Gotta go put on my Family Pot Roast!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Catch Up

Has it really been a week since I last posted? Wow. Time sure flies when you're having fun.

I'm not as perturbed by Winnie the Pooh or Thomas the Tank this week. I do think it is rotten that the icons of today's childhood are so overly-commercialized. Someone has to be getting very rich at the fantastic job that marketers and advertisers are doing selling "stuff" to our kids. I mean, is there really any need for "Lightening McQueen" cookies? Sigh.

Did I mention that DX and I just returned from Toys-R-Us? Not my favorite store.

But we went there to get a new carseat for our...... wait for it....... MINIVAN! Yep, after almost 2 months of looking, comparing things like safety ratings and price, we finally did it. Traded the Civic in for a Honda Odyssey. We almost bought a GM van. But I balked at the last minute. We're just too loyal to Honda & Toyota, I guess. But after having various makes and models of cars over the years, they've never let us down. For example, we finally waved good-bye to my husband's old Camry a few years ago when the odometer hit somewhere around 215, 000 km! And even then it didn't go to the scrap heap. A young guy who made it his hobby to tinker with old cars bought it for a few bucks.

Anyways, great story behind this van- it is "pre-owned" (I'd love a brand new one, but I can't take the monthly payments). It was the "Flower Van" of a funeral home in a nearby community. SO, it was the van that takes the floral arrangements from the funeral to the cemetary- stuff like that. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Not quite as exciting as driving a used hearse, but there it is. (Any other fans of "Six Feet Under" out there!?!).

Well, it took me two days to write this pathetic post, and right now DX & I have to get ready for our local library Familytime group. Can't be late.

I hope I get to write on the weekend. I'll have to let you know how my first Quilting class goes on Saturday. Yes, I'm finally going to start DX's "100 Good Wishes" Quilt! And I figured having 3 hours a weekend devoted to nothing but quilting would be necessary if it's ever going to get done.

Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Heffalumps & Woozles


Does anyone know the song?

"Heffalumps and Woozles are very confusils..."

No? Anybody?

It's from "Sing-A-Song With Pooh Bear" (or something like that)- a VHS tape that has had top-billing in my family room for 2 weeks now. DX (the short-hand version of my son's name) is Pooh Bear-obsessed. It was cute, at first. Now, I am dreaming of Tigger in my sleep.

It all started innocently enough. A Winnie the Pooh theme in his room. Only a few Pooh Bear toys and books that we bought to China. A few more that we got when we came home. He doesn't even own a stuffed Winnie. (Yet.) Well, it is now just past the 2 month mark, and he positively flips when he sees one of those Pooh Bear & Piglet helium balloons that hover over every WalMart check-out we've been at. Not a tantrum-type flip out. Just a pure excitement flip out. I'm not sure what the cashiers think!

So, I've never before had strong feelings for or against Winnie. Mickey Mouse, on the other hand, I've always despised. Even as a child, while I loved to watch the Mickey Mouse Club show, I could not stand to watch a cartoon of Mickey or Minnie. It's not a mouse thing. Maybe it's just that semi-unintelligible high-pitched squeaky voice. Ugh- I'm shuddering just thinking of it!

But, I have to tell you- I'm getting more than a little tired of Winnie and his posse now, too. Dora & Diego are cute, but the theme music is starting to make me cringe. Even Thomas the Tank is leaving me cold on the tracks. It's a good thing that DX watches a maximum of 2 hours of TV per day. Anymore than that and I'd be cracked up in the corner somewhere.

My television viewing discontent probably has something to do with the fact that last night was the first time I watched the News in weeks. Overall, I still feel pretty out of touch with what's going on around me. I mean, I think our daily lives are under control now- we all have our routines down pat, and things are running really smoothly (touch wood!). BUT, adult conversation that doesn't involve talking about kids? Pretty rare for me these days. Even with my husband. Even here in Bloggyland- or in my Yahoo groups world- we're all about kids and family-building and other wonderful things. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I'd like to talk about things that are completely independent of adoption or child-rearing.

Know what I mean?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Check It! ebay Auction

Click on the title above and you'll get sent to a great auction starting TONIGHT, at 8 pm EST.

Proceeds from this auction will go to the Children's Bridge Foundation to support programs in 2 orphanages: Hai Duong Social Service Centre in Vietnam and Kebebtsehay in Ethiopia.

Looks like there are some neat items from many of the countries in which Children's Bridge has adoption programs- China, Nepal, Vietnam, India. So, why not start some early Christmas shopping and support a good cause at the same time?

In case the hot link above is lukewarm, you can find more information at: http://www.cbfoundation.com/ebay2007.html

Happy bidding!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

BLOGGERS: Be Careful Out There!

I have always been a bit paranoid about how much information I divulge on my blog about my family. I try to reign in what I say, and, as regular visitors know, I don't post many pictures. This is hard for me, because in real life, *I* am an open book. There's not a topic that I won't discuss. I don't embarass easily. Pretty much everything is fair game.

But I don't believe that I can expect the rest of my family to be so open- and, in fact, my husband is almost a complete opposite- he's a very private person. So, when I blog, I am always grappling with the fundamental tension of wanting to talk about things in my family that are important to me and trying to respect the rest of my family's right to privacy. It's a bit frustrating- especially since I know that what other bloggers want are the details about how things are going- and pictures of gorgeous children! After all, those are the blogs that I like to read.

I waffle sometimes and let my guard down a bit (like those "eating icing" pictures- they were too cute not to share!). And, then, I read something like the following article that makes me stop in my tracks. It appeared in a recent Newsletter from the adoption agency Children's Bridge, and was written by Executive Director Martha Maslen. I'm betting she won't mind me sharing it with you all. It sure is food for thought. See what you think:
**********************************************************************
Take Care
by Martha Maslen

The last two generations of parents have been labeled “helicopter” parents, in that they “hover” over their children. Mine seems the last to give their children far more latitude in terms of playing on their own and/or interacting with other kids out of parental purview. Growing fears of children being snatched, or otherwise harmed by strangers, more dangerous traffic, and overall a greater need to oversee and program children’s every activity, perhaps can be attributed to this change in parenting style.

Given the propensity to be so protective, I am astounded how free those same parents feel about sharing their children on the other highway, the electronic one. I had occasion in the past few months to chat with several different law enforcement agents who are extremely knowledgeable about on-line crime. They shared my concern about how open parents are in posting their children’s photos, and divulging information that would make it easy to find the child in the real world. They encouraged me to encourage you to be as cautious as you are in the physical world, in the electronic one, in regard to your child’s privacy and safety. While we would not discourage families from sharing the joy of their children, they advised parents be extremely circumspect in what and where they post. While other parents may well be interested, so too are those fearful folks from whom you seek to protect your child in real life.
***********************************************************

While I honestly believe that the vast, vast majority of adoption blog readers are wonderful people who are truly interested in a family's journey to and with their children, there are probably some blog surfers out there who have other motives. As much as I pray that they never darken any of our virtual doorsteps, can we ever be too sure?

Where do you draw the line?

Wishing us all safety in Blogsville.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reply from PEI


Here's the letter that I just received from the Premier of Prince Edward Island:

********************************
Dear X:

Thank you for your correspondance expressing support for the adoptive families of Prince Edward Island. I recently had the opportunity to meet with and benefit from the views of representatives from the group at which time they outlined their concerns, both verbally and in writing.

Following our meeting, I discussed the matter with staff of the Department of Social Services and Seniors to develop a possible course of action to address the issue. In my written response to the group, I provided assurances that we are actively evaluating Prince Edward Island's adoption program and the current processes associated with it. I also asked the Director of Child Welfare to review and respond to the group's concerns directly.

I appreciate receiving your views and suggestions with regard to provincial adoption policy.

Sincerely,

Robert Ghiz
Premier of Prince Edward Island

***********************************

Nice letter. I know that the PEI Adoption Coaltion is fairly pleased with how their meetings with the Province went overall. However, there still seems to be a lot of contention concerning agency matches of children and families in the WCP. Apparently, some of their legal types have deemed that such matches are not legal in the province according to the Hague Convention. Funny that- since other provinces- namely Alberta and Ontario- have reportedly examined this exact issue and found such agency matches to be perfectly legal. I may be oversimplifying things here, but it seems that abiding by the Hague Convention cannot really be that much a matter of interpretation, can it?

I know absolutely nothing about the Law. But if anyone out there knows someone who *is* interested in examining such issues- like a lawyer specializing in international law, or a law student looking for an interesting group project (well, you never know!), then please let me know and I'll put you in touch with the right people.

The picture on the top of this post has nothing to do with PEI or the Hague Convention. My 10 year old made it, and I just found it in my saved images. I love it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Bit of This, A Bit of That...

I have a few things rattling around in my brain these days concerning adoption issues. I doubt I'll ever get a chance to write coherently about each of them, so I'll take a shot at thinking out loud over this one: sleep disturbances in internationally-adopted children.

Well, we somehow have escaped that one- but I guess it depends on what you call a sleep disturbance! Pretty much since we've been home (about 6 weeks), Daniel gets up out of his bed sometime between 2-5 am and comes into our room. I pop him in the bed between us, and he goes back to sleep until about 6:30- when he wakes his Mama up with his version of a good morning kiss (something of a cross between a head butt and the happy greeting of a St. Bernard Dog!).

For us, this is not really a problem- we have always been inclined towards the concept of co-sleeping with our kids when they were babies/toddlers- and, indeed, our 8 year old still occassionally visits us in the middle of the night when she needs to. Now, in other families, maybe his behaviour would be considered a sleep problem, but its OK here. My general philosophy is that a child who wishes to co-sleep probably has a genuine emotional need to be met- and sending him or her back to bed alone won't help with that. And, besides, it has only been in recent times that children have had separate rooms to sleep in. In terms of our evolutionary history as humans, co-sleeping has been the norm for a long, long time. It still is in many parts of the world.

Anyways, I started to really think about sleep disturbances in adopted kids recently because I have just heard from a couple of parents, on two different Yahoo groups that I read, who are recently home with their children and who are experiencing a lot of aggravation over sleep (or lack thereof) behaviours in their kids. Then, I remembered something that psychologist and therapist Dee Paddock said about sleep disorders in adopted kids... she seems to believe that these kids' issues are related to their experience of abandonment- which, more than likely, occurred while they were sleeping. Here's the set-up: baby is with birth family one minute, falls asleep, wakes up in a train station among strangers and gets whisked to an orphanage. Life has changed forever. No wonder these kids are anxious about falling to sleep.

Umm... OK. There definitely may be something to the hypothesis that sleep disturbances are due, in part, to adopted kids' deep-rooted anxieties about abandonment. But doesn't it make more sense to also look at some of the possibilities that are buried less deeply in the psyche? (Can you guess that I'm not a big fan of psychoanalysis?)

Like how about the fact that most of our children have slept in a big room, dorm-style, with umpteen other kids? Most of them have probably shared a crib with another small, warm little body. Then, they get adopted and sooo much changes for them... not the least of which is their sleeping arrangements. Once they arrive home, they get gently placed in their cribs in their beautiful nurseries (so lovingly decorated) -and then are expected to go to sleep.

WHAT!?!

Where is everyone else in the house? Probably not in the nursery. Mom and Dad are likely anxiously tip-toeing around the hall. Where's the sound and, yes, the smell, of 20 other children falling asleep and an "ayi" padding about the room? Where's the little friend you shared your sleep space with? All of it... gone.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic, but ALL of the falling-to-sleep cues that our children have ever known get changed for them once they get home. Along with everything else in their little lives. So, how could they NOT end up with a sleep disturbance?

I'm sure age, temperament, and the developmental stage that a child is in also has a lot to do with whether the adopted child has trouble with sleep. In our case, our son is 3 years old. He had his own bed in the SWI- but he did share a room. We have those pictures. He still shares a room- with his older sibling. We could have put him in his own room, but we chose not to- at least not yet. He also falls to sleep in a house that is not particularly quiet until at least 10 or 10:30 pm, and, more often than not, there's a dog or a cat (sometimes both!) on the foot of his bed for long stretches of the night. I'm not sure that these things have much to do with the fact that he's been sleeping rather well for a kid whose been home for less than 2 months, but I don't think they're hurting.

Sometimes, I think we just need to look at "problems" from a different angle. Maybe we need to change our ideas about how to get kids to go to sleep and to stay asleep longer. I also know that children need to learn, at some point, to "self-soothe" and cope with sleep on their own. I guess I just feel that that time is later rather than sooner.

Well, speaking of sleep- it's getting late here. Good night! I'm sleepy after writing all this- I can only imagine how tired you all are if you've read to the bottom of this post! That's my rambling for this week.Promise!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


Yes, in Canada, this is Thanksgiving weekend. Tomorrow, I'm cooking the turkey and the harvest vegetables for my family. Today, my mother-in-law is cooking her turkey, so we get to have 2 Thanksgiving Dinners this year. How's that for something to be thankful for!?!

We have a lot more than food to be thankful for this year. Our full-of-life son, the fact that he take naps ;), 2 beautiful daughters, a home surrounded by family and friends who are a part of our daily lives, meaningful employment, our health... Life is very, very good! And we are grateful.

Wishing everyone a bountiful harvest of life in the coming year. Blessings to you and yours!

Monday, October 1, 2007

PEI In the News


If you click on the header above, you'll be ferried to the local CBC news coverage on international adoption in PEI. (On the map above, PEI is the little island near Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to the east.) I'm not sure how long the link will be active, so the gist of the story is this: families living in Prince Edward Island who are trying to adopt their children from another country are as mad as hell about the way their Government has been treating them, and they've called them to task on the issues.

Yay! I love Democracy! But it extracts its pound of flesh, for sure. Kudos to the families who have spoken up in the media, to those who have been meeting with officials, and to those who are raising awareness wherever they can. It is not easy. But it is oh so necessary, unfortunately.

I'll be waiting (with fingers crossed) to hear how the next meeting with the families and the Province goes. I'm hoping the Province will agree to permit any families who have already applied to the Waiting Child Program to proceed with their application as they would have a few months ago. I also hope that the Province seeks a new legal opinion on the status of adoption agency matches in the WCP. Likely, their current argument hinges on a technicality... something that could be "fixed" or solved if the will to do so is there.

Heck, what I really hope is that all the staff dealing with international adoption get replaced with people who are forward-thinking, open-minded and compassionate. OK, that's a long shot, I know. But that's my dream for EVERY province. No family who wishes to adopt internationally should have to face antagonism and suspicion from their own Province. And, far too often, this is just what they get. Sad, really. It's not like this in every province, I know. But it is in at least 3 of them... and even one is too many.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Emerging from Toddler Shock!


Well, I think it's finally happening. I'm starting to recover from toddler shock. BOY toddler shock.

It's been quite a month. Our little guy is a gem- I'm so happy with how well he's doing... but it wasn't until recently that I figured out he was doing a lot better than me!

You'd think that I would have had a clue that toddlers are a lot of work. But a friend recently pointed out that with my daughters by birth, I had some time to work up to a 3-year-olds activity level. Hmm... good point. Not to mention that when my other kids were 3, I wasn't home with them full-time. I had it easy- I went to work!

I think recovering from a half-way-around-the-world trip with 3 kids didn't help. Helping our 8-year-old adjust to now being the middle child hasn't exactly been a picnic either. Then there's all the paperwork (Health Card, Social Insurance Number, Citizenship work) and the medical appointments we've been to. And back to school for the older kids. And a husband who has had to travel 7 days out of the last 9. Boo hoo.

Oh yes, the post-adoption experience has been a whirlwind up to this point, to say the least. But I think I'm finally getting into the groove. At least... today things seemed pretty groovy. Tomorrow? We'll see.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Letter to Share

Please think about joining the cause! This is from the PEI Adoption Coalition- but we should ALL be concerned! Please take the time to dash off a letter or even an e-mail. THANKS!!

***********
Hello all - the following letter can be copied into emails, shared
through yahoo groups and forwarded to the people identified. We've
put names and addresses at the bottom of the letter, along with a note
on who should be copied - this part should obviously be removed prior
to sending. We should encourage people to personalize the letter if
possible.

---------------------------------------------------------

Premier Robert Ghiz
95 Rochford Street
P.O. Box 2000,
Charlottetown , PE
C1A 7N8
rwjghiz@gov.pe.ca

Dear Premier Ghiz:

I am writing to express support for the adoptive parents of Prince
Edward Island – the very province known for the story of a famous
orphan – who have raised concerns with the provincial government
regarding the international adoption programs in the province.

Island families have requested a reversal of the policy decision
regarding the Waiting Child program – a decision that has eliminated
any waiting child referrals where matching is done by the agencies.
These processes are currently accepted by every other province in the
country and the waiting child program is virtual inaccessible outside
of this system. I encourage you to follow the processes set out by
China, whereby the agencies are delegated the authority to do the
matching (respecting of course the Province's final role in approving
every match). Families with open waiting child applications are being
affected by this decision at this very moment.

Island families have also requested concrete regulations and policies
with regards to all aspects of international adoption, ranging from
country programs available to Island families, to age of child, to
sibling groups, to single adoption, to family eligibility guidelines,
to concurrent adoptions, and to transparency & appeals.

Families in your community have also raised concerns regarding
accountability from the provincial government. By allowing each and
every family to review their referrals when they arrive in PEI,
families would be able to supply additional information or make
requests for homestudy amendments should there be discrepancies
between the referral details and the child request. It would be
regrettable to have families lose their only chance at adoption simply
because the Province has decided not to share information until and
only if the referral sent in their name is approved.

I urge you to commit to an active support of the international
programs and to clearly embrace and formalize options for Island
families. I encourage you to investigate the underlying reasons for
the Province's decision to effectively stop the international adoption
of children with medical needs, and, also, to respond to the PEI
Adoption Coalition's requests for an overall review of PEI's
international adoption procedures to ensure accountability and
transparency.

I suggest to you that there needs to be a very quick and serious
reconsideration of this action, or the face that PEI presents to the
country and, indeed, the world, will look not only ill-informed, but
also intolerant. I believe you will discover that the agencies are
well-equipped to undertake the matching as assigned by China, that
international adoption will yield benefits for the children, the
families, and PEI as a whole, and that these children are deserving of
the loving families who wish to adopt them, no matter what province
the families live in.

Sincerely yours,

CC: Hon. Doug W. Currie – Minister of Social Services and Seniors,
PEI dwcurrie@gov.pe.ca
PEI Adoption Coalition – peiadoptioncoalition@...
Nancy Russell (CBC) -- nancy_russell@cbc.ca (nancy "underscore"
Russell)

In PEI, please write your letters to Premier Ghiz and CC them to
Minister Currie, MPs Shawn Murphy, Wayne Easter, Lawrence MacAulay,
Joe McGuire, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader
Stephane Dion, the PEI adoption coalition group, and Nancy Russell of
the CBC.

Outside of PEI, please write your letters to the Premier of PEI,
Robert Ghiz, and CC it to the Premier of your province, Prime Minister
Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader Stephane Dion, and the PEI
adoption coalition group.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900
Harper.S@parl.gc.ca
pm@...

Shawn Murphy
75 Fitzroy Street, Suite 201
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
C1A 1R6
murphs1c@parl.gc.ca
Murphy.S@parl.gc.ca

Wayne Easter
P.O. Box 70
Hunter River, Prince Edward Island
C0A 1N0
Telephone: (902) 964-2428
Fax: (902) 964-3242
E-Mail: eastew1@parl.gc.ca
E-Mail: Easter.W@parl.gc.ca

Lawrence MacAulay
P.O. Box 1150, 551 Main Street, Suite 202
Montague, Prince Edward Island
C0A 1R0
Telephone: (902) 838-4139
Fax: (902) 838-3790
E-Mail: macaul1@parl.gc.ca

Joe McGuire
94 Central Street
Summerside, Prince Edward Island
C1N 3L3
Telephone: (902) 436-7333
Fax: (902) 436-0175
E-Mail: McGuire.J@parl.gc.ca

Stephane Dion
750 Marcel Laurin Boulevard, Suite 440
Saint-Laurent, Quebec
H4M 2M4
Telephone: (514) 335-6655
Fax: (514) 335-2712
E-Mail: dions1@parl.gc.ca
E-Mail: Dion.S@parl.gc.ca

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Something's Wrong in PEI...


Remember this famous orphan who lived in PEI?

Well, it turns out that if Anne found herself under the auspices of today's Children and Family Services, her story might not be so charming.

International adoption appears to be under some kind of attack in our country's smallest province. A province which, ironically, is seeking to recruit new immigrants to the province to increase their dwindling population.

Families have horror stories to tell concerning their dealings with the bureaucrats responsible for adoption- stories which I hope some of them will be willing to speak about in a very public way. Stories about referrals for children being refused by the Province without the family ever being notified, stories about a perplexing attitude concerning the adoption of children from other countries, stories about a bureaucracy too suspicious of adoption agencies to permit the agencies to match children with medical needs to their families in PEI.

Yes, something is definitely askew in that beautiful province. I'll post more as I get more information.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

E-mail Outage

I just wanted you all to know that I am having serious e-mail difficulties at my regular e-mail address. SO, I'm not ignoring you, if you've tried to mail me. I finally got on today and there are too many e-mails to even think about reading in their entirety. Naptime only lasts so long, you know! And, for the past few days, I've been a single parent since DH is out of town. BTW, my hat is off to those of you who do that as a regular gig.

I'm hoping I'll have some time on Friday to catch up on things. It will be my "work day" (since DH gets one day off per week as he works 2 evenings & I really do need to pay attention to work-related things even while I'm off). Between meetings with students, I should be able to return all sorts of e-mails! Well, not really, but I live in hope.

Time to wake up my boy so we can go pick his sisters up at school. Ciao.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Quote for the Day (Week, Month..?)


When facing the right direction, all one has to do is continue walking.

- based on a Buddhist teaching

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What to say?


I'm finding that I am mentally filing away things to blog about... but the time to write anything seems to not be there- or, if it is, my mind is not.

Truth be told, I'm really happy but I'm physically exhausted. Early mornings, lots of lifting and carrying my precious 31-pounder, play groups, and, then, after 3 pm, channelling some energy to my elementary-school-aged daughters & their activities (and homework hasn't even really begun yet!)... it all adds up to one tired mom by 9 pm. But tonight as I came in to turn off the computer, I thought I'd try to record a few thoughts.

Hmmm.... I had 2 interesting experiences this week. One was an older lady at the supermarket who unabashedly asked about Daniel and whether he was my son. It turns out that the daughter of her close friend is trying to adopt from China. She was not nosy- very kind and truly interested. When I said "Oh, yes, he was adopted in China", she said "Yes, he's chosen." Then every time she caught a glimpse of us walking through an aisle, she waved like a madwoman! Interesting.

The other experience happened today. We went to Don Cherry's for lunch and the hostess asked if we'd mind telling her where he had his lip surgery done. It turns out that she has a son born with a cleft. So, we had a short but pleasant (and supportive) conversation.

So, up to this point, all our interactions with people who are wondering what a white family is doing with a little Chinese boy have been pretty positive. Early days yet, though, I know. I wonder how I'll feel in 6 months time?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Our Busy Day


Yesterday, we spent most of the day at our local children's hospital, seeing some of the members of the Cleft Team- social worker, speech pathologist, pediatrician, pediatric dentist, and plastic surgeon. We go back in 2 weeks time to see the ENT specialist, audiologist, and psychologist. Two weeks after that, we'll see the surgeon again and get a date for surgery. It was a busy day but, without exception, everyone we saw was fantastic- and our little guy was very patient and cooperative. He only cried once- at the end of the day when he had to get his blood drawn.

Apart from our surgeon, who has done cleft missions in China, most of the team had not seen a 3 year old with an unrepaired palate. Here, they complete the palate surgery before the child is 18 months old. I think they were surprised by his robustness and his functioning in both communication and eating. And everyone thought his lip repair, done in China, was excellent!

After we left the hospital, there was enough time to check out a couple of minivans. A friend of mine once warned "The 3rd kid comes with a van.". Seems he was right. All I'll need now is a "Soccer Mom" bumper sticker!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We're Here!!


First of all, my sincere apologies to anyone who requested my travel blog password and didn't get it- I could not log-in to Blogger from either Nanjing or Beijing, and although I could read it using "anonymouse", I also could not access the Comments section of the blog. I'll e-mail you all the link later today from my DH's account (still having probs at home with my e-mail), so you can get the "retrospective" view of our trip if you're still interested.

Things here are going swimmingly!! We've been back since early Friday morning and the jet lag is pretty much over. Actually, the whole trip was fantastic for us, and our little guy is a dream child so far! Once we met him, he was quiet for the first 2 days, and then he started to come to life. And come to life he did! He's a real character- all-boy, terrific sense of humour, loves to sing and dance, happy most the time, loves to eat, and has been sleeping well. I'm pretty sure his smooth adjustment has nothing to do with anything we're doing right- I think he just has an easy-going, fun-loving temperament, and I also believe that he was probably well-prepared by his SWI for the adoption.

I also believe that because of his cleft issue, he probably received a lot of individual attention and care, especially during feedings when he was an infant. This early attention is so important to healthy emotional development in children. So, although his medical need was most likely the reason his birth family could not raise him, it may also be part of the reason why he's adjusting so well to his new life with us.

I'm not really into posting a lot of pictures here, but I have to share one of my favorite "at home" photos. Is he cute or what?

Friday, August 10, 2007

1 Day to go!!

I can't believe it- this time tomorrow, we'll be on a flight to Toronto to connect to one going to Beijing! It is really, really happening. I'm still in a whirlwind of luggage and last minute preparations for the petsitter... but the good news is that we'll definitely be UNDER our 44 lb/person in-China baggage allowance (although several recent travellers told me that their luggage was not even weighed!). We'll also have a huge suitcase that is now filled with a case of cleft nursers for the SWI, and which will be empty after Tuesday. And you all know what that means - SHOPPING!!
It's early evening now in China as I write this. Daniel is probably getting ready for bed. I wonder if he has any idea of the life change that is in store for him in less than 4 days from now? I hope his nanny has been preparing him. I hope we're really prepared to deal with his grief.
Well, I've got a couple more things to pick up once I drop the kids off at their day camp. Better get a move-on.
I'm not sure how often I'll update this blog while we're away. I'll try from time-to-time. I've decided to do a password-protected site for our trip. If you want to follow that, feel free to leave a comment with your e-mail address and I'll try to send you the address and password from China.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Proceed with Caution: Major Nesting Occuring


I'm still around- just doing some major nesting this past weekend. No time to blog, or even read e-mail. But the results were so good- after a long overdue purging of our toy/computer room, as well as the kid's closets & drawers, about 7 garbage bags of "gently used" (read: played with 3 times and then forgotten)things went to Good Will and maybe as many bags of not-so-good things went to the dump. It had to be done. It should have been done maybe 2 years ago. But now we are a lot less cluttered, and I vow to try to keep it that way (no snickering).

I also started some packing last night. I think we'll be traveling with about 50 lbs of luggage each. That's the limit for the in-China flights, although for the international flights we could take almost twice that amount (and I expect we'll take advantage of that fact on our way home!). When you think about it, that's also 200 lbs of stuff for 2 adults and 3 kids. Given we'll be taking *very* light clothing, we should have more than enough with us. And what we don't have, we can get in China! It's not like we're mounting an expedition to the middle of Labrador to some seabird island, after all ;)

So, I've got a few things to do before we leave, but they'll get done. No worries here (insert nervous laughter).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Found a Book Club!

Well, I didn't find it, exactly- but I was told about it by several people. No need to reinvent the wheel! This one sounds fabulous (click the link above or copy & paste http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/China_Adoption_Library).

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Book Club ?


I was reading New Girl's blog this morning, and it occurred to me that it would be neat to either find or form an on-line book club that reads and then discusses adoption-related books.
Does anyone know of one that exists and is still open to new members? Or, is there any interest in creating one?
Let me know... I may have a few co-conspirators out there thinking about this, too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yellow does not cover green very well...


I can't believe it- only 2 weeks from today and we'll be with our son!! I picked up an XpressPost envelope this morning from the agency- it had our luggage and name tags, itineraries, airplane tickets- so, it's all VERY real to me now. And I'm vacillatiing from excitement & joy to sheer panic at least twice an hour. I'm trying to take on the attitude of a fellow travel mate, who left for China yesterday to do some touring; she said "I stopped stressing when I realized all I needed was our Notice of Coming, some US cash, and a credit card." Nice. I'm just trying to convince myself to believe it!

So, we bought paint on Friday evening, and started painting our son's room on Saturday. It's actually also our 8 year old's room. We decided to move Daniel in with her for the first year or so, given that he's so used to being in a room with other kids. Plus, she's happy to have the company, since her big sister moved into her own room a few months ago. But, of course, being 8 years old, she has definite opinions on how the room should be decorated. We decided that "Winnie the Pooh" would be appropriate for a room that is being shared by a sister and a little brother; and she already has a Pooh Bear comforter and has been a fan of Winnie and Tigger forever. All we needed was a Pooh Bear bedspread for Daniel's bed, and some accessories for the walls. Simple, right?

I should have been suspicious when I bought the Pooh wallpaper border for $5/roll (regular price $17.99). It was, and still is, a great deal- but the reason it was on sale is that, as it turns out, most Winnie the Pooh wallpaper AND bedding for children is now history. Out of stock. Not being manufactured any longer. Except maybe in the UK and Australia. No local store carried any Winnie the Pooh comfortors or bedspreads or duvet covers. LOTs of other Disney things- Cars, TinkerBell, Pirates, etc... but no Pooh Bear. So, I figured I'd be able to order it on-line. Not so easy, either. Finally, I found something new on eBay and we ordered it yesterday. We may get it before we go to China- or not.

And, yes, the weekend we decided to paint was one of the hottest ones on record for our cold little province. Did you know that in high humidity, paint doesn't dry very well? Especially the yellow paint that we bought to cover up a sage green. We're going on coat #4.... I know, I know... we should have primed it first... I've learned my lesson.

I have also learned that you should never paint shelves on your deck in the evening and leave them out overnight to dry. We tried that last night and I don't even want to tell you how sad it makes me to think about how much those little flies must have struggled to break free.

On a brighter note, the clouds that I painted on the sky blue walls are smashing! I'm trying to convince my husband that we need clouds in OUR bedroom, or the dining room, or maybe the bathroom ;) Have glaze, will travel.

Painting misadventures aside, I think we have time to get most things done. Whether Daniel has a Pooh bedspread or not won't really matter. Having a partly-sane mother and parents who are still speaking to each other are probably more important.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We Can Go!!


Our Notice of Coming came! I don't have it in my hands yet, but it is here in the Province. This means WE CAN GO TO CHINA IN AUGUST!!

I thought I would be ecstatic when I heard the news. But my predominant feeling is relief. Worrying about whether the TA would arrive on time for us to travel with our group has been exhausting. But, it is here now. No more worrying. Over that bit, anyways.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Twins


Do you remember Jo from the Pomegrante blog? She's moved on to newer things, but I came across a BBC news article last week about her family. Click on the title above for a hot link to the article (or cut and paste this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6897567.stm ).

It turns out that her daughter is one of a twin, separated in China. There are not many details about their particular story, but it appears that this is not all that uncommon. Either the SWI cannot confirm that the children are twins, perhaps because they were left in different places at different times, or they wish so much to have the children placed, that they will split them. I mean, there really cannot be all that many families who are requesting to adopt twins, though there are definitely some who do.

The separating of twins, if it is intentional, raises huge ethical questions for me. Is it better to "quickly" place the children in different homes, sometimes in different countries, than to have them wait for an adopting family who wishes to raise two children at once? And what if these children have a medical need? I would hazard to guess that very few families who wish to adopt through the WCP actually think they *could* adopt twins, much alone actually ask for them. What if one child has a medical need and the other does not?

Our children already lose so much when they are adopted transculturally- the thought that some of them lose a sibling with whom they have shared the intimacy of their birth mother's body absolutely breaks my heart. There has to be a better way.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Toilet Talk


One of my kids was not easy to toilet-train. But, then again, I didn't press the issue. I never wanted toileting to become about me forcing her to control her body before she was ready... and a very wise mother once told me not to sweat it, since there was almost no chance that she'd be going to Kindergarten in diapers!! And she was right, in fact.

But now I have a new angst over toileting issues. Apart from the fact that one of my girls will probably pass out if she has to use a squat toilet in China (the other one is HOPING to find one- LOL!- they truly are "chalk and cheese"), I am trying to prepare myself for the toileting issues that an almost-3-year-old who has been wearing split pants most of his life might have.

A friend of mine who adopted a toddler told me that he was deathly afraid of a Western toilet. Someone suggested that she let him "squat" on top of it, and this is how he went to the potty for weeks before he was happy with the situation. It makes perfect sense, really. To someone who has never used a Western toilet, they must be quite strange and a little scary (in the same way that a "bidet" is to me!!). Think of it... a big white porcelain bowl that sucks things away... you can almost hear the kid thinking "...and you want me to SIT AND DO WHAT on that!?!"

Advice from any and all experts in this area would be very welcomed!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Inner European...

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.


Kind of cute, since I'm actually 1/8th Sicilian! Now, if I could only get to Tuscany...

He FINISHED!!



I might not have mentioned this, but my husband is The Netherlands because he was participating in the "4 Days Marches" or "Vierdaagse", as it is known in Dutch. This is the world's largest walking event, with over 40,000 people from all over the globe marching throughout the towns and countryside surrounding Nijmegan.

Today was the last marching day- and he FINISHED it!! He walked 40 km per day, for 4 days in a row. I am amazingly proud of him! (And also relieved, to be honest.)

The 20-somethings from his team are partying tonight, while he and most of the other 40-somethings have gone to bed! It's a well-deserved rest, for sure. Sweet dreams, love.