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.