Monday, April 30, 2007

An Unfortunate Incident with a Jar of Pickles

Um… I’m sensing a food theme developing in my blog… but I am eating for two, right? ;)

So, I feel pretty good this morning about actually making my lunch and bringing it to work with me. I made a submarine sandwhich, took a can of organic root beer out of the fridge, and an apple. Hmm… maybe this lunch is a little bland, I was thinking, so I grabbed the jar of “hot and zesty” dill pickles and threw it in, too. Perfect. Put the plastic lunch bag (ok, its just a grocery store bag) on the passenger’s seat in the truck and off I go. I even had time to stop for coffee (just the drive-thru) an, as I’m in the line-up, I’m thinking to myself, “I better make sure that pickle jar lid is screwed on tight.” So, I check it and all seems fine. I throw my blueberry bran muffin in the lunch bag and finish my short commute to work. Park in the lot, get out and go around to the passenger’s side to remove my purse, my laptop, a bunch of posters that I have tucked inside a garbage bag to keep dry, and my lunch. Then I notice that the garbage bag with the posters is wet, with what I first assume is rain. I check the window, to see if it was rolled down by accident, but, nope, that’s fine. Then I smell something a little acidic… something a bit like vinegar… but hotter, and zestier… and I realize that the jar of pickles has leaked all over everything.

I was saved by the fact that the kids always have extra plastic bags filled with something or the other in the backseat, so cleaning it up wasn’t a big problem. But I cannot figure out why that jar leaked! After all, I checked the lid! Did I accidentally loosen instead of tighten it?

I’m really beginning to doubt my powers of concentration these days. I am just so distracted sometimes. Like later in the morning when I decided to walk to the post office and bookstore in search of 1) thumb tacks (for the posters that I brought with me, of course), and 2) a box in which to mail Daniel’s "care package". Halfway to the bookstore, I realize I have no money, and they will probably not like me trying to use my debit card for a 79 cent item, so I change direction and head to the bank machine. Finally, money in hand, I find the thumbtacks and then get distracted by the display of “BEGREEN” Pilot pens (really cool, made from recycled plastic). OK, 2 pens and a box of thumbtacks later, I think that I might as well get some noodles from the Food Court, since I’ve come this far anyways (oh yes- did you recall that I MADE my lunch this morning!?!?). So, I get the noodles, and I am walking back to my office when I realize I forgot about the box and the post office!! YIKES!!! I am grateful there is no early-set Alzheimer’s in my family, because I would be running to the nearest neuropsychologist for testing!

Maybe I’m just obsessing about adoption too much. But, for a while, I kind of had it together- I was compartmentalizing things really well, focusing on one thing at a time. Now, I’m a mental wreck. Maybe its because I know we’re getting so much closer to actually getting to China and to our little guy. I hope this happens sooner than later, because I don’t think I can cope with walking around in this fog for much longer.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Just One Chopstick

What do you do when you have just one chopstick? This is my situation. Just a few minutes ago, while I was eating lunch, I dropped one of my chopsticks on the floor.

So, here I am, left with just one chopstick. Sort of useless, for the purpose of eating anyways. I could stick it in my bent-too-far-over rubber plant, as a support, I suppose. But that doesn’t help me finish my sushi. It struck me that losing my chopstick is rather metaphorical (today, at least). A metaphor for the kind of imposed helplessness that anyone who is trying to adopt a child feels from time to time.

When you decide to adopt a child, you do everything in your power to make it happen. And that involves a LOT of work, as most of you reading this know. You spend hours baring your soul to strangers who assess whether you are fit to raise a child. You run around to governmental, doctor’s, and human resource offices to get birth/marriage certificates, letters of conduct, clean bills of health, letters of employment, income tax assessments. You ask friends to write character references. You compile all of this (and more), hand it over to your agency, and then you wait. And wait. And wait some more.

You have one chopstick. The other one is at the CCAA (or the Ministry in Russia, or Kazakhstan, or wherever).

I suppose I should take some comfort in the fact that we’re one of the luckier families who are waiting. We *know* our child’s beautiful face (its all over our house!), he has a name. We feel a connection with this little boy who is probably asleep in his crib in China as I write this but who will be in our home and our arms before long. But that’s ALL we know. Neither we, nor our agency, has any idea at what stage our file is in at the CCAA. We have no real concept of when we might expect to travel. The agency will try to find out for us when they are in China in mid-May, for sure. But, today, the “no news” news has left me feeling a little lost, and a little sad.

Sushi, anyone?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

In Memory of a Woman

June Callwood (1924-2007)
mother, grandmother, rabble-rouser, thinker, journalist, writer, role-model

In her last interview with CBC television she said, "If we just gave babies a good start. So you can dedicate your life to that. Let me know how things go."

It is 7:30 am on Saturday morning. I'm usually not fully awake this early on a weekend, but my husband had an early flight to Toronto, and I got up to give him a kiss at the door. I didn't go back to bed, since the sun was just beginning to shine, and its the first time we've seen it here after a week of rain, drizzle, and fog. So I put on the kettle to boil for a cup of tea, flicked on the TV, and started watching a re-broadcast of CBC's "The Hour".

It was an unexpected gift. I was able to watch June Callwood's last interview for television.

Who is June Callwood? I won't even try to list her many accomplishments, attempts, and motivations. I know that someone will, though, because hers is surely a life worth recounting.

In a nutshell, June was a woman with a fundamental sense of social justice and the belief that we are ALL personally responsible to make sure justice happens. You. Me. Our sister's and brother's keepers. And she didn't just talk the talk. She lived her life, balancing career, family and social activism, continuously discovering how she could make a difference. And what a difference she did make for real people, both through her words and actions! Google her name. You'll see what I mean.

I never had the privilege of meeting this woman, but I truly grieve her passing. I am grateful that this world had her presence for 82 years. I also have the sense, though, that she might "tsk tsk" this kind of adulation. She would probably suggest that instead of wasting our time thinking about what she's done, we should all get busy and figure out what it is that each of us can do, today, to try to make life a little better for someone else.

Her legacy is one of kindness and action. She is a role-model for me and, I'm certain, many others.

Share the gift of June Callwood's life. Watch George Stroumboulopoulos's wonderful, sensitive, and funny interview with her, a few weeks before her death. And be inspired.

Also, check out The National for Friday, April 20, 2007 (around 22:40; I'm sure they'll pull out the clip later on to stand on its own):

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My First Meme...

OK- I've never done a meme before on my blog. But it sounds like a bit of fun. I saw this one over on "The Jade Road" (I can't figure out how to make that a hot link in Safari!), so here goes:

1. FIRST NAME? Carolyn... "Car" to my friends... "Aunt Car Car" to my neices
3. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Whenever I last saw a touching cat food commercial
4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I used to. I've gotten sloppy.
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH : Anything with Guacamole
6. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes!! And am very grateful...
8. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? No, I'm pretty much a straight-forward kinda gal.
10. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? NEVER- makes my palms sweat just thinking about it.
11. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Shredded wheat. Oh, and Weetabix.
13. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically or mentally?
14. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Anything with chocolate. I actually like frozen yogurt better.
16. RED OR PINK? Most days, red.
18. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My child I haven't even met yet in China.
20. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES YOU ARE WEARING? Khaki. With brown hiking boots.
21. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A "Chocolate Eruption" (got taken out to lunch earlier!)
22. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? My neighbour rattling paper in her office (and its after quitting time!)
24. FAVORITE SMELLS? babies, Leach's storm-petrels, moss
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Yes- I'd love to meet her!
27. FAVORITE DRINK? Bet you expect me to say milk, right? Nope, I drink Coke.
29. HAIR COLOR? brown (Brazilian, thanks to L'Oreal) EYE COLOR? brown
31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No, glasses.
32. FAVORITE FOOD? I think I said Guacamole and chocolate- but not together.
33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? never scary movies- I'm creeped out for days.
34. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Rob Stewart's "Sharkwater"
37. HUGS OR KISSES? yes, thank-you
38. FAVORITE DESSERT? anything
40. LEAST LIKELY TO PARTICIPATE? what these questions mean!
44. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Don't use one.
45. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? The NHL Play-offs, of course!
46. FAVORITE SOUND? My kids' voices. Except when its that whiny one...
47. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Hmm... depends on my mood. Both are icons. Can I say Il Divo???
48 . WHAT IS THE FURTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Maybe 8000 miles or so?
49. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I'm not telling...
50. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Quebec, mes amis.

Monday, April 16, 2007

BLING BLING!! for a Wonderful Cause

This is Hoang Son Pham. He is a 10 year old boy living in a Vietnamese orphanage who has a life-threatening benign tumour, called a hemangioma, on his face.

Children's Bridge Foundation, the charitable foundation of Children's Bridge adoption agency, is raising funds to bring this brave little guy to Canada for surgery.

To help raise the money needed, the Children's Bridge Foundation is having a jewelry auction on ebay- all the pieces were recently chosen by agency workers on a recent trip to China for the auction and are GORGEOUS!

SO, ladies (and gentleman!).... here's a great chance to purchase some beautiful Chinese BLING for your daughters, future daughters, or maybe even future daughters-in-law (lol!)...

Check out this link to the auction (which is LIVE now!)...
(for a hot link to the website, click on the title of this post, just above).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Response from Minister of Alberta Children's Services

In reply to my letters concerning Alberta's new policies for dealing with the referrals of (internationally adopted) children who have medical needs, the Minister has written (dated April 5, 2007):

Thank you for sharing your feedback about Alberta's International Adoption Program.

We recognize the important role adoptive families play and the committment to enrich their lives, along with their communities, through international adoptions.

International adoptions are changing on an ongoing basis. Increasingly, countries are introducing international adoption prorams that encourage parents from other parts of the world to adopt children with very complex medical conditios. These types of adoption requests are relatively new to Alberta.

To ensure these types of requests are handled in a transparent and consistent manner, Children's Services will work with the key stakeholders and other Alberta government ministries to develop a policy that will guide the process of accepting international referrals. While this policy is under development, international applications will be accepted and processed, and referrals of children with very complex medical conditions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Children's Services will consult with Alberta medical experts prior to making decisions related to these adoption requests. International adoption families are encouraged to work with Children's Services' staff during this time.

For families wishing to adopt a child from another country who does not have complex medical needs, it is business as usual, and these families wil see no change.

The Alberta Government invites Albertans to proviced their input on this very importan issue by emailing

Signed by Minister Janis Tarchuk

Thank-you, Minister, for your clear reply. Since I'm not Albertan, I guess I'll be quiet now... (hahaha)...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Crushing the Fantasy...

Parenting is hard. And you probably can't understand how hard until you experience it first-hand.

I remember when our first child was a few weeks old thinking that, up to that point, I really had NO idea what a life change we were in for. And somehow I felt a bit cheated. After all, I had read all the parenting books and magazines... I "knew" all the information out there about breastfeeding, attachment, caring for your baby, caring for yourself, how your relationship & sex life would change... but I really didn't hoist in the fact that your whole LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT changes with a new child! And that adjusting to that change is hard. Caring for a baby is hard. Like 24/7 hard. Not sleeping well is hard. Arranging your trips to the supermarket around this little person's schedule is hard.

Nothing is easy once you go from being a non-parent to a parent.

Except falling in love with your child. That's pretty easy. It may take time, but it will happen, usually very easily. Being awed by tiny toes and tiny fingers and silky smooth skin is easy. Loving the smell of your baby's hair is easy. Melting when your baby smiles at you and reaches for you is easy. Becoming someone who would go to the moon and back again for this child is easy because you don't work on this- it just happens.

Do first-time parents have fantasies about what their lives and their child will be like? I'd bet that most do. We sure did. Reality has a way of correcting that fantasy... VERY quickly!

But you know what? The harsh reality of parenting is the true wonder. The fact that we willingly change our lives to respond to the needs of a little person and that we will LOVE doing this, so much so that maybe we'll do it again and again, is pretty amazing.

Hard work pays off. When it comes to parenting, it pays off in ways we sometimes can't imagine before we have a child in our lives. For new parents who might be feeling that this is not what they expected, hang in there. It gets better- maybe not easier, but definitely better!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A little bit of Spring...

One of the chief complaints of people living in this place is the weather. Too much of the bad kind, too little of the good kind, and no real Spring season to speak of. Our "spring-blooming" bulbs often don't raise their heads much before mid June, lest they be welcomed by a good dose of frost or, sadly, even snow!

Spring-like weather is not even a possibility here until April or May. Our wedding day- many years ago in early May- was beautifully sunny some of the time, interspersed with snow flurries, and, naturally, there were remnants of winter's snow on the ground!

But yesterday was gorgeous. Not warm, but also not windy. The perfect day for Topsail Beach. So, off we went, me & the kids, to one of our favorite spots. It is desperately in need of a beach clean-up, but even empty plastic bottles and Tim Horton's cups can't diminish the sense of relief that we felt because we were able to just be out there, on the beach, in the sun, at the ocean, on a lovely day with a little bit of Spring in it.