About Me

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I'm a 30-something wife and mom. My boys are my pride and joy. Together, we are navigating being a forever family post international adoption.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Old Dogs & New Tricks

We rescued our pug, Swar, from a shelter at 5. He has been feisty right from day one. Now, at nearly 16, he has slowed down some but is still as smart as ever.

He's taught himself a new trick in the last few weeks. How to knock over the garbage in our en-suite to get to the Kleenex inside. It has become part of his daily routine.

Who... Me?

Buddy caught him red handed (red pawed?) the other day, on video.

I told you he was a feisty little guy!

While Swar is a very smart dog, he is still just a dog. We figured out a way to thwart his bad habit.

Poor guy... Maybe next time

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Me at the Moment

What do you wish you had known before you adopted your children?
That I didn't know as much as I think I did. As much as I "prepared", there really wasn't a way to be truly prepared to bring a hurt child into our home. I was so naive.

What is your biggest challenge as an adoptive parent?
Distinguishing trauma behavior vs bad behavior. The older Buddy gets, and hormones start to kick in, the more and more hard this is to do.

What do you think is your biggest source of support?
My husband. I also get a lot of help from the online community. I have gained so much knowledge from bloggers, Twitter and Facebook.

What is the best or most memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
Don't worry about what other people think, worry about what's best for your family.

My perfect adoption support would include… 
I don't believe in perfect. And the support I need changes every day, or even multiple times a day! But I have learned that it is important to ask for help. Whether through leaning on family and friends, therapy, or just giving myself a break, in order to take care of others, I have to take care of myself first.

Reward charts yes/no?
I know they are a big no-no for adopted kids, but we have used an allowance board for Buddy in the past and it worked for us. He is a visual learner and the board helped him keep track of his daily "jobs". Now that he's gotten the hang of things, we don't rely on it any more.

What I hope I can give to my children:
A safe space where he can continue to learn to be honest with the people who love him. The consistency to internalize that no matter what happens I love him and will be here for him always.

When I look into the eyes of my child I see...
His first Mom. They have the same eyes that change color from blue to grey to green. I'm glad he got something so beautiful from her.

If you could take your children anywhere in the world to see something, where would you go?
There are so many places I want to go with my family: Africa, Australia, South America. But if I could only pick one place, I would take him back to his birth country to see his first family. Hopefully we will get a chance to do that in the near future.

Why did you start blogging about adoption?
I was having a hard time processing my feelings, and it was an outlet for me.

Where do you get your blogging inspiration from?
I don't feel as much inspired to blog as compelled. Seeing my feelings written down really helps me work through them. Blogging has made me a better Mom and a better person.

Who is your favorite adoption blogger?
I have so many! I'm going to turn to my Bloglovin' account and list the first 5 blogs that have been recently updated.
Snapshots from Our Journey
The Cork Board
No Bohn's About It
Rage Against the Minivan
The Adoption Social (who I've lifted this blog post idea from - thanks ladies!)

Who is your favorite non-adoption blogger?
Tattoologist. I find the pictures beautiful and fascinating - I love looking at other people's tattoos!

Ot the weekend I can mostly be found...
In my pajamas, un-showered, avoiding work. As much as possible, anyways.

What makes me/my family laugh?
We have voices and personifications for our dogs, Swar and Grem. I have written and deleted further explanation a handful of times, so suffice it to say that those of you that get it, will. Those of you that don't, wouldn't want to know the depth of our weirdness.

Tea or Gin?
During the day I generally drink to water or coffee, I drink tea more often than gin, but I don't have either often. If presented a cup of Earl Grey and a G&T, I would probably pick the latter, though.

The best thing we did this week was...
Went for a walk as a family. The weather is getting warmer (finally! Why do I live in Canada...) and it is nice to be able to get outside without risk of frost bite. Even if that means needing to carry 15 year old Swar after 2/3 of a block because his arthritis is acting up.

In my life at the moment….
- Book – Nick Hornby: Funny Girl. He's been a favorite author of mine for a long time, and I hope this book about a beauty pageant winner turned actress set in the 60s lives up to his previous works.
- Music – Death Cab for Cutie: Kintsugi. We are going as a family to the Death Cab for Cutie / Metric concert this week, and I am trying to catch up on Death Cab's most recent album. I Will Follow You Into the Dark from Plans was our wedding song


- TV program – Buddy and I are watching Lost on Netflix. We're 3 seasons in and just found out the series is being removed April 15th. We're too far in to throw in the towel, but too far out to have a hope of finishing in the next few weeks. The struggle is real.
*This is going up after April 15th. We didn't make it through, but a colleague has lent me his DVDs so we are in the clear
- Food – Thai. Especially Tom Yum soup. Although when it comes to food I'm really not picky. Take, as proof, this picture of the pizza I made for dinner last week. Although, Buddy was the one that ate it, so maybe I'm more selective than I think...

- Pastime – I just started doing yoga every morning, right when I get up. I have been feeling more stiff lately, so I thought it might help. I'm only 2 weeks in, but it seems to make a difference in how I feel throughout the day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rights vs Privileges (and Video Games as Currency)

Buddy has been on a video game ban for the last month.I have talked in the past about consequences fitting actions. I do still believe in that.

However...

Junior High has been a big adjustment for Buddy, and we are seeing some major attitude issues at home. Judging from his last report card, the school is experiencing the same thing.

I don't put this all on Buddy. His school is focusing on teaching kids to be more responsible and take ownership for themselves and their own work. They are pretty much teaching kids this:


Buddy is not there yet.

I'm not saying the school is bad or wrong. They just don't get it. They don't understand that Buddy is developmentally not in a place yet to accept the responsibility of being the leader of his academic team.

His report card was disappointing. His grades were fine. Good in most cases and even great in some. But the comments on his attitude were concerning. So we have pulled out the big guns. A video game ban that will continue for an indeterminate time until attitude at home AND at school improves.

Everything I have read about parenting children from hard places tells me this is the wrong thing to do. The consequence does not fit the action, The punishment isn't clearly defined. We are extending school life into the home.

But, at the same time, video games are Buddy's personal currency. So we have started using it as a form of payment for good behavior. And lately, there hasn't been that much to pay him back for.

Hubby and I talk about Buddy's sense of entitlement as "POB", which refer to an article about Post Orphanage Behavior we found pretty helpful. It's "POB" when Buddy expects video games to be a right, not a privilege.

So, for now, no video games. And his behavior has actually improved in the last month. It makes me wonder: is he better behaved when he doesn't play video games, or is he working hard to show that he deserves to have them back?

Only one way to find out. But I'm not quite ready to test it, so we will be video game free for a bit longer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The World Around Us - I Stand With Ukraine


I have never claimed to be a political person. However, the situation in Ukraine has gotten to a point where I feel the need to throw my voice into the fray.

My Grandparents immigrated from Ukraine (not "the" Ukraine, BTW) around the time of WWII. Prior to that, they had endured many hardships, including Holodomor. From 1932-1933, former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin orchestrated a genocide also known as the Terror-Famine. It claimed millions of Ukrainian lives and was blamed by the USSR government on natural factors and poor economy. Some continue to deny Holodomor.

Some people also deny the atrocities currently happening in Ukraine. If you are interested, and I hope you are, please think critically about what you read. There are many opposing reports out there. It's hard to distinguish facts from propaganda.

A family member of mine just returned home from his time at the front lines. If you think the situation in Ukraine has improved, or that there is peace, you are wrong.



The situation in Ukraine  is complicated. Much too complicated for someone like me to be able to provide any real insight. All I can do is speak up and say that Ukraine does not belong to anyone but herself.

I am proud of my Ukrainian heritage, just as my Grandfather taught me to be.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

First Wedding

Over the summer, we took Buddy to his first wedding.

Hubby's cousin was getting married 700 km from our home, so we decided to fly out to save the 8 hour car ride.

We spent the morning before the wedding at a nearby beach...
Buddy playing in the sand

The weather and venue were beautiful...
Buddy and I checking out the fountain at the venue

 We all looked fabulous in our wedding attire...
We clean up real good

Buddy found some creepy-crawlies to chase between the wedding and reception...
A tiny frog

The bride and groom were so happy and obviously in love...


It was a great weekend, and a pretty perfect first wedding for Buddy to attend.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life Books and Memories

I've always loved keeping photo albums. Ever since I was in high-school I've been diligent about printing out pictures and organizing them into albums.

We have 4 different albums related to our adoption.

The first is on a hard-drive and contains every picture we took during out time in-country. There are pictures of things that are private to our family, so this is the one album I haven't printed out.

Hubby in-country the day before we met Buddy for the first time


Next, we have an album we printed in a book that tells the story of our adoption. This is the book we share with family and friends who want to know what the trip was like.

One of the last pictures in our adoption story book - Buddy on the flight home


The third album is one for Buddy. It has pictures he picked out himself of our time, as well as some additional pictures we received from people who knew Buddy before we did.

Two of Buddy's favorite dogs that lived in his orphanage courtyard


Our last album is Buddy's Life Book. We took the information and pictures of Buddy's past that we had, put it in appropriate words, and wrote the story of Buddy's life. This was the hardest but also the most important album we made.

One of Buddy's baby pictures (his love of animals goes way back)


The thing I have found about Buddy's life book, is that the best time to start/add to it is now. It is amazing how quickly things are forgotten. This is especially true for little things Buddy shares that aren't documented anywhere else.

Writing it down saves it forever.

If you are interested in creating a life book, here are some resources:
IFAPA Lifebook Pages (free online)
Adoption LifeBooks: Dos and Don'ts (free online)
Life Book Ideas (Pinterest board)
Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child (this is the book we used)
Life Story Books for Adopted Children: A Family Friendly Approach (Kindle version)

What is your favorite life book resource?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Whirlwind Work Trip

As I mentioned in some of my last posts, I've had some pretty significant changes at work over the last few months.

I've been in the same profession for over a decade and have always done pretty much the same thing. In the spring of 2015, my company successfully bid on a contract and I was chosen to manage it. The whole experience has been really rewarding but also very challenging. Some days I stop and wonder how this is now my professional life!

As part of my new role, I am able to do some traveling on our company plane. Before you get too jealous, it isn't as glamorous as you may think. There is no champagne and caviar. There actually isn't even a bathroom on board! But it beats flying commercial, because it allows me to go multiple places in one day.

This month, I've flown to 11 different communities in 6 days. And boy are my arms tired! (ba dam CHI). We traveled not only by 5-seater airplane, but also by helicopter and over winter roads. I almost had to go by snowmobile, too, but luckily that was an hour ride in -30C weather I managed to avoid!

It was a great experience. I grew up in the north and this trip made me miss where I come from. Except the cold. Oh MAN, was it ever cold!

While pictures don't do it justice, I thought I'd share a few.

Beautiful (and Cold!)
Northern Airport: No security clearance here
Our Plane
View from the airplane
Our Helicopter (the pilot graciously carrying my bag)
View from the chopper
Driving on the Winter Road
Winter Road from the Air
Home!
And if you've never ridden in a helicopter over frozen muskeg to visit a remote island village:

video