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.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Funday 4

I have decided to take Sunday off work and spend time with my family. Here's what I got up this time:

6:09 AM: Wake up in Buddy's bed. Oops - must have fallen asleep last night by accident. Get up and go back to my real bed for a few more hours sleep.

9:37 AM: Wake up to crashing and banging in the kitchen. Buddy's making breakfast. I love my boys, but they are not the quietest people on earth.

10:00 AM: Hubby comes home from the grocery store with a toasted graham latte for me. Buddy and I sit down to eat breakfast and catch up on some Good Mythical Morning we missed this past week.

10:37 AM: A relaxing morning of online shopping, nail painting and Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

12:05 PM: Buddy goes out to ride bikes with the neighborhood kids, Hubby heads off to his parents' house. He's the best man in his brother's wedding this afternoon.

12:34 PM: Time for me to start getting ready. I wish I'd asked Hubby his opinion on what to wear before he left. Too many choices!

2:01 PM: I end up turning to Twitter for outfit help. Green dress it is.

2:57 PM: Buddy and I make it to the venue for some pre-ceremony family pictures. Hubby looks very handsome in his tux and Buddy looks great in his new wedding outfit. Too bad it probably won't fit by the time the next special occasion comes around. The kid is growing like a weed!

4:00 PM: Time for the wedding! The weather is beautiful, the venue is charming and everything goes perfectly. The sun comes out from behind the clouds just as the bride starts down the isle and the light shower (rain on the wedding day is good luck!) during the vows is almost like a scene from a movie.

4:24 PM: My favorite weddings are short and sweet. Bring on the dinner and dancing! It's a Thanksgiving themed reception with apple cider, a turkey dinner and pumpkin pie in lieu of a traditional wedding cake. Yum! And to make it that much more fun, a 90s themed dance party follows!

10:03 PM: Buddy hits the wall so he and I head for home. Hubby stays behind to celebrate with his family and be the designated driver.

11:20 PM: After watching an episode of Lost (that leaves both Buddy and I a bit lost) and a snack, I tuck Buddy in and retire with a book (still A Walk Across the Sun,  it's slow going) to try and stay up until Hubby comes home. I'm so tired that I doubt I'll make it, though.

I hope you had a good weekend. Good night!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Funday 3

I have decided to take Sunday off work and spend time with my family (well... mostly). Here's what I got up this time:

7:45 AM: I wake up in my mother's basement to the sound of Swar crying for breakfast in the kitchen upstairs. We have an open house today, so we decided to stay with my Mom. The dogs have been here about a week so the house was always ready for private showings. I get up, feed the dogs and get dressed.

8:04 AM: I check my email on my phone and find out from our birth searcher that Buddy's step-grandfather in his home country has died suddenly in an accident. Hubby and I decide not to tell Buddy while at my Mom's but wait until we get home.

8:27 AM: After much searching, I find the toaster and make myself breakfast. Hubby is kind enough to make me a coffee on the mystery appliance that is my mother Keurig. More searching to locate sugar. It's gonna be a long day.

8:42 AM: Despite my vow to no longer work on Sunday, I need to make an exception today. My boss has a big meeting on Monday that she is calling in from her holiday in Italy for, it's the least I can do. Thank goodness for remote connectivity so I don't have to physically be at work.

11:39 AM: Done. Shower time. Or time to get distracted from taking a shower by social media and more coffee.

1:03 PM: Hubby, Buddy and I go out for family lunch at a dinner next to my Mom's place. All day breakfast is an amazing thing.

2:24 PM: My on-call phone rings - briefly back to work.

2:57 PM: I look out my Mom's window and see a bunch of deer hanging out across the street. Some things about the suburbs are pretty neat.

3:59 PM: That's enough work for the day. Being too tired to do anything else, I  have a bath and watch a bit of TV.

6:40 PM: Apparently I fell asleep, but wake up to takeout being delivered. Not too bad.

8:05 PM: The last private showing for our house ended at 8, so we say good bye to our dogs (just in case we have anyone who wants to look at the house before offers tomorrow) and my Mom and head home. According to our realtor we had over 30 people come through and look at our house. And only one weirdo, she said.

8:46 PM: After getting home and settling in after the open house, Hubby and I have the hard job of telling Buddy his Step-grandfather has died. Buddy is stoic and matter of fact about it, but he is obviously upset.

9:22 PM: Brush teeth, PJs and bedtime for everyone. I end the day in Buddy's bed with some sad cuddles. A very tiring day for all.

I hope you had a good weekend. Good night!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Funday 2

I have decided to take Sunday off work and spend time with my family. Here's what I got up this time:

8:16 AM: I wake up to both our bathrooms in use, and I've gotta pee! The struggle is real.

8:24 AM: That's better. Now, time for coffee.

8:49 AM: Buddy made me breakfast (a toaster strudel) and as I was finishing up a call came in on my on-call phone. So much for not working Sundays...

9:06 AM: The call was actually much easier than they generally are and everything I need to do can wait until tomorrow. Yay!

9:25 AM: Hubby comes home from the grocery store with a none-fat, no whip pumpkin spice latte with my name on it. Well, a poorly spelled version of my name. Oh Starbucks...

9:47 AM: Time to get the house packed up. Our realtor is coming by at 1 to see if we're ready to show the house. Fingers crossed!

12:55 PM: Why did we not clean our house for our own use? It looks amazing in here!

1:00 PM: Pictures, documents and decisions. Selling a house is no joke.

2:12 PM: After a quick snack, Hubby, Buddy and I pile into the car for a family outing.

3:50  PM: We get home from a drive in the country and Hubby heads of to a church meeting. Buddy and I go to the mall so I can pick up a few necessities and he can look at video games.

5:07 PM: After shopping, Buddy and I go to my Mom's house. We drop of some boxes from our house clean-up and visit with my Aunt and Uncle who are in town visiting. We order in food and after his meeting finishes, Hubby joins us.

9:04 PM: It's the night of a lunar eclipse, so we all go outside and watch the supermoon.

9:18 PM: We sat goodnight to our extended family and go home to get ready for bed. Buddy is exhausted and falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

9:57: Hubby has some work to do, but I'm cashed for the day. I'm going to settle in and start "A Walk Across the Sun" by Corban Addison.

I hope you had a good weekend. Good night!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Buddy's First Day of School

The first day of school was pretty nerve wracking for our family. This year, it was time for Buddy to move to a new school.

Each time at a new school has been really hard for Buddy.

When he started school after we came home, he wasn't secure enough with Hubby and I to express his emotions. Instead, he was overly exuberant to cover up his terror. But he was a wreck inside and after a few months we decided to transfer him to a school that could better meet his needs.

The start at his second school showed emotional progress. He was vocal about not wanting to go, but not able to talk to Hubby and I about his feelings. When we dropped him off the first day he burst into tears, no longer able to push his scared feelings down.

This year, we talked quite a bit about how Buddy felt nervous about starting at a new school. He didn't like the idea of a new place with new teachers and students. He was scared and uncertain.

He was able to connect with his emotions and express them. He opened up to Hubby and I and made himself vulnerable. And he trusted us to support him and give him comfort.

As I drove Buddy to school the first day, he was bubbly and exuberant, but also very honest about how nervous he was. We went over his homeroom number and teacher's name. We talked about what he could do at lunch. And we drove by some of his former classmates on their way to the new school, too.

I pulled into the parking lot and started to walk him into the school. Buddy looked at me and said, "It's OK, Mom, I can walk in by myself."

He grabbed his lunch, backpack, gym bag and 2 boxes of Kleenex (a requirement that doesn't make much sense to me) and off he went.

I watched him cross the parking lot and walk up into his new school with a combination of sadness and pride. 

He has come so far in such a short amount of time.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Funday

Life has been super busy lately. I decided to take Sunday off of work and spend time with my family. Here is what I got up to on my first "Sunday Fun-day".

8:08 AM: I wake up to Buddy standing over me. He crawls into bed and starts playing with Grem (who is also lying on my bed).

8:34 AM: I give up hope of a sleep-in and get up. Coffee, shower, breakfast and the day begins.

10:57 AM: Hubby and Buddy leave for church (late because of a lack of prioritizing on Buddy's part) giving me a bit of much needed personal time. I putter around and drink more coffee. Nothing particularly special, but it's nice.

12:17 PM: Buddy comes home from church, Hubby stays for a meeting. When I tell Buddy he can't play any more video games today because of this mornings timing issue, he has a mini melt-down.

12:47 PM: After a bit of time and space, a still unhappy Buddy and I go out for lunch. He picked sushi and by the time the gyoza came the mood was definitely much improved. On the way home, we stopped off at the bakery next door to pick up dessert for tonight.

2:36 PM: Buddy, Hubby and I headed off to the zoo for the first family activity in a long time.

5:13 PM: We get home from the zoo, Buddy goes off to play with the neighborhood kids, Hubby does some work and I take a nap.

6:30 PM: Hubby made dinner (sausages, pasta salad, Cesar salad) but Buddy isn't feeling well. We send him off for a bath and enjoy dinner just the two of us.

7:04: Hubby gets some work out of the way, I tidy up a bit and relax while watching YouTube.

7:48 PM: After a soak, Buddy feels better and has a snack. We watch an episode of Lost and he heads off to bed.

8:39 PM: I stay with Buddy for a few minutes to help him get settled, we finish reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Then it's time to get ready to head to bed myself. Face mask, PJs on, some YouTube and now it's time for me to read (The Bear by Claire Cameron) until I fall asleep. Oh, but not before I had some of the dessert we picked up this afternoon.

I hope you had a good weekend. Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Metcha Day Anniversary

In honor of today being the 2 year anniversary of the day we met Buddy, I'm re-posting this from Jan 2015. 

I almost can't believe that after over a year of preparation it only took 100 hours from the time we first saw Buddy's picture to the time we committed to adopt him.

This is a brief overview of the timeline:

  • Thursday, 9:00 AM: We have our appointment with the government adoption agency where we are shown Buddy's file, among others.
  • Thursday, 10:30 AM: We leave the appointment after deciding to meet Buddy.
  • Friday, 5:00 PM: We pick up the government document that officially allows us to visit Buddy in order to determine if we will pursue his adoption.
  • Sunday, 11:00 PM: We board an overnight bus to take us to Buddy's region.
  • Monday, 10:00 AM: We have appointment with Buddy's orphanage director to determine if she will allow us to meet with Buddy.
  • Monday, 10:30 AM: Buddy is called into the meeting from his school lessons.
  • Monday, 11:00 AM: We are permitted to take Buddy into the court yard to play and see how we get along.
  • Monday, 12:00 AM: We leave the orphanage.
  • Monday 1:00 PM: We decide to pursue adopting Buddy.

I was prepared to be confused and uncertain at our appointment at the adoption agency. Hubby and I had been told by our social worker, adoption agency and in-country facilitator that sometimes the decision of which child to visit was difficult and unclear.

For me, the opposite was true. Buddy's file was the first we were shown and Hubby and I were immediately drawn to it. We didn't want to make any rush decisions, though, so we looked at the other files that had been set aside for us that day. But we kept coming back to Buddy.

By chance (or by design, I don't really know) our facilitator had just returned from Buddy's orphanage where she had been helping another family adopt their daughter. She was well acquainted with the director and was able to call her and get a verbal OK for us to meet Buddy.

Although the director agreed to our coming, we still needed a government document to allow us to move forward. The document takes time to prepare, and since our appointment was on a Thursday, we had to wait until Monday to have our first meeting.

After an 8 hour overnight bus ride, we arrived in Buddy's home town. We took our suitcases to our rental apartment, ate breakfast, showered and dressed in the nicest clothes we had brought. We also tried to mentally prepare to meet Buddy's director and Buddy himself. To say we were nervous would be an understatement, but we were also super excited.

At the orphanage, we were shown into the director's office and our facilitator translated the director's questions for us. Why did we want to adopt, why internationally, why Buddy? What kind of people were we, what was our home life like, what kind of parents would we be? We tried to appear calm given her stern demeanor but probably failed miserably.

After she was satisfied, Buddy was brought into the room. He was still in his school uniform and was clearly as nervous as we were. After a bit of a visit, the director gave us permission to take Buddy into the courtyard where there was a large open play space.

We had brought a tennis ball and Buddy went off into a treed area and came back with a stick. Hubby tossed the ball and Buddy swung the stick like a baseball bat and cracked it over Hubby's head. Our first exposure to Buddy's stellar athleticism.

We played baseball for awhile then switched to tag. The mid-day sun was beating down and Hubby and I were getting sweaty running around in our dress clothes and shoes. Buddy's uniform pants and socks were covered in burrs from running into the scrub.

At noon, our facilitator told us Buddy needed to go inside for lunch. Before he left we tried to pull the burrs off his clothes, worried they would reflect badly on us as parents. Our facilitator told Buddy we would be back later in the afternoon and he ran off to the orphanage, turning back to wave at us and flashing a big smile as he went.

After Buddy left, we went back to our apartment. As she dropped us off, our facilitator told us the sooner we were able to make a decision the better it would be for everyone involved. We didn't feel pressured though, maybe because we had both independently come to the same conclusion.

After a conversation and some serious soul searching we decided that Buddy felt like a part of us. We officially said "yes" to him joining our family.

I don't know how it was possible to go from not knowing Buddy existed to loving him in 100 hours.

I just know those first 100 hours were the most life-changing hours of my life.

Monday, August 3, 2015

August Long Weekend - Back to Bloggin

This weekend, most people in my province have a long weekend.

My regular readers may have noticed that I took last week off of blogging, mostly because things have been really crazy for me at work lately. My company was awarded a pretty big federal contract and I was chosen to manage the project. I've hired a team of people, written many policies and spent hours meeting with various groups I will be working closely with.

Sometimes I don't know if I'm coming or going.

It's a very big honor, but also a lot of work. This kind of thing isn't what I went to school for. I'm learning as I go and sometimes I feel lucky just to make it through the day without crying. But I'm also really excited to be given the opportunity to prove myself. A lot of people never get a chance like this.

Today, a lot of people in North America take the day off. I'm taking advantage of this fact by putting my nose to the grindstone since no one will be calling and emailing.

In a week, I will start training all the new staff on the processes I've been working hard to develop. Honestly, I'm not ready. But it's going to happen regardless, so I'm doing my best and trying not to stress.

I'm going to try to make time to blog, because it's something I really enjoy doing. It helps me organize my thoughts and keep a healthy perspective on life. But if there are times when you don't hear from me, now you know why.

So, this long-weekend, I will be working. And hopefully also taking some time out to blog.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Unadoptable is Unacceptable

This month, Wendy’s Canada and The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption Canada reached an incredible milestone—200 children have been adopted through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. 

The program focuses on children who have traditionally waited the longest for adoption or were most likely to age out of care — older youth, sibling groups and children with physical or emotional challenges—using dedicated recruiters who exhaust every avenue to find a forever family.

By the time they are referred to a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, nearly 70 percent are older than age 8, 30 percent have had six or more placements, and 50 percent have been in foster care more than four years. Some have never had a plan of adoption and have simply been on a track to age out of foster care at age 18 or 21 without the security and love of a permanent family.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids has 206 recruiters working for children throughout the U.S. and Canada who work on caseloads of children the system has forgotten . They employ aggressive practices and proven tactics focused on finding the best home for a child through the starting points of familiar circles of family, friends and neighbors, and then reaching out to the communities in which they live.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is driven by a single goal: finding a loving family for every child waiting in foster care to be adopted. They are North America’s only national nonprofit charity dedicated solely to finding permanent homes for the more than 130,000 children in foster care.

The program’s success to date underscores the Foundation’s mantra: unadoptable is unacceptable. 

To learn more about how you help over 30,000 Canadian children waiting in foster care for their forever families, please visit www.davethomasfoundation.ca.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Thoughts on Buddy's Thoughts on Adoption

The Adoption Social has list of "interview with and adopted child" questions on their site. I read a few of their interviews awhile ago, but at the time there was no way Buddy was ready for such a frank talk about adoption.

Last weekend, Buddy was bored and looking for something to do. I figured I'd give it a shot and offer him the chance to answer the questions and be a guest blogger. He was eager to give it a go.

Since Buddy sometimes feels pressured when answering questions face-to-face, I wrote them out for him to take outside and answer privately. When he was finished, we read it over together and I asked a few follow up questions to fill some gaps. He was very open, engaged and willing to discuss his feelings.

I'm actually shocked at how insightful and honest Buddy's answers are. I'm also really impressed with his reading comprehension and writing skills. This kid has been using English for less than two years!

What do I think about Buddy's thoughts on adoption and being adopted?

I think that Buddy is allowed to feel how ever he does about adoption and being adopted! But I am glad that we have come to a place where he feels safe discussing it with me.

I got a lot out of the activity, and I hope Buddy did, too. The more we talk about his adoption, the more comfortable we get.

My favorite part of the questionnaire is this:
What would you tell someone who didn't know much about adoption or being adopted? That it's scary at first but later it gets better and better.

I love my Sweet Boy!

If you're interested in checking out Buddy's thoughts on adoption and being adopted, follow this link. I think it's a great read!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Buddy on Adoption and Being Adopted

What does adoption mean?
Adoption is when some other people become a family with a child who doesn't have a really good life with their birth family.

Why would a kid not have a good life with their birth family?
If the kid's parents die or if the parents run away and leave their child.

Why do kids have to be adopted?
Kids don't have to be adopted but I think its is better for the child to be adopted. They could go to an orphanage.

Do you think it's better for kids to live in a foster family or in an orphanage?
A foster family because in an orphanage teachers can't be nice to everyone, there are too many children. But in a foster family there are only a few children.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be adopted?
It is a bad thing if somebody is getting adopted even though they don't want to be. It is a good thing to be adopted if you want to be and if the people who are trying to adopt you are good. It really depends on the person.

Do you think it's good or bad that you were adopted?
I don't think it's a bad thing or a good thing, it just is. 

How does it feel to be adopted?
It feels different at first but after a while it feels like you're my birth parents.

Does adoption make you different than your friends?
Yes, because they don't know how it feels to be adopted.

Do your friends know you're adopted? 
Some of my friends know that I'm adopted and I'm perfectly fine with them knowing. I don't want to tell everybody because I don't feel comfortable telling everybody.

Should birth parents be given help so they could keep their children?
Yes, they should. But if they have to do something bad to keep their children, then no. Like kill someone or sell drugs or steal money.

Do you ever think about your birth Mom or Dad?
Yes, I do think of them sometimes, when somebody reminds me of them. If somebody says something about them, but probably nobody does. Or if I remind myself.

Do you think it's good that people want to adopt?
Yes, because people who are adopted probably don't have a good life before.

Should every family adopt?
No, because some families want only birth children and some families want only to adopt and some families want both.

Do you think kids should get to pick their adoptive parents?
Yes, they should. Because if they get adopted by the family that they don't really want to get adopted by they will probably have a worse life than before.

Did you get to pick?
Yes, I did because if I didn't the first family that was trying to adopt me would have adopted me. 

What would you tell someone who didn't know much about adoption or being adopted?
That it's scary at first but later it gets better and better.

What makes you who you are? 
I am blond that's what makes me who I am and how I act and stuff like that. I don't know. 

Does who you are come from your birth family or your adoptive family?
Both. The smartness is probably from you guys. The physical stuff is probably from them.

What makes a family?
If you love your birth family or adopted family that's what makes a good family.

I've already told Buddy my thoughts on his answers, but I know he would love to hear your feedback!

These questions come from The Adoption Social http://theadoptionsocial.com/uncategorized/interview-with-an-adopted-child-questions/

Friday, July 17, 2015

Week at Wisconsin Dells

A few weeks ago, we packed up the car and drove two days to Wisconsin Dells.

We were all very happy with our hotel, The Kalahari. We stayed in a lodge suite, which had two separate sleeping areas, a full kitchen and an outdoor seating area. The only thing we weren't a fan of was the very uncomfortable pull-out couch. We got to the hotel around 5 PM, ordered pizza and watched the July 4th fireworks from our patio area. By the time the display was done (Americans really know how to put on a show of patriotism!) we were all tired from our travels and ready to turn in.

The living room area - Buddy already enjoying cable TV

We were up bright and early the next morning to take advantage of the Kalahari water park passes included in our reservation. We spent 3 hours in the morning at the outdoor water park. When we starting to get hungry, we took our first ever family trip to Wal-Mart. After a quick (and cheap) shop, we had lunch at the hotel and Hubby and Buddy headed off for the indoor park. I was in need of some alone time! They spent a few hours sliding, then we had a home cooked meal. After dinner, Buddy and I returned to the water park for a couple of hours and we finished off the day by watching Cast Away on cable.

One of the many attractions at the outdoor waterpark

Day three started at the indoor water park. Hubby and Buddy convinced me to ride the slide they had dubbed "the toilet." You shoot down into a giant bowl that swills you round and round and finally dumps you (sometimes head first) into the pool below. Buddy and I also braved the 60 foot tall, trap-door release slide with an almost vertical 25 mile an hour plunge. Good thing I wore a firmly secured bathing suit! When we started to look like raisins, we headed over to an adjoining movie theater for Terminator Genisys in 3D. Not my pick, but not terrible. Afterwards, Buddy spent some time at the small pool near our hotel block while supper was cooking. We ended the day with ice cream from the hotel sweet hut and Jaws on cable.

"The Toilet" - see how it just dumps the rider out at the end!?!

By day four, we were ready for some time on dry land. We spent the day at Mt Olympus Theme Park. Hubby loves go-carts, I love roller-coasters and Buddy loves both. Add a Starbucks on-site and you have the recipe for one happy Mama. The only ride we didn't do was the Catapult, because it cost an extra $5. A few days later, there was an accident and subsequent removal of the ride. Thank goodness for our frugality! After a long day in the sun, we headed back to the hotel for another home cooked meal. Buddy still had energy and money to burn so he headed off to the indoor arcade while Hubby and I got some much appreciated alone time. By the time bed-time rolled around, we were all ready to turn in so we would be energized for the next day.

I got Buddy set up at the arcade - he's a pro at these games!

The fifth day was my favorite. We started off with Big Foot Zipline where our guides, Rasheed and Aidan, took us zipping down 7 different lines. We got to hanging backwards, upside-down and at times even racing each-other over land and water. The longest line was almost 1400 feet, and we got as high up as 100 feet. Buddy was in heaven, and even Hubby (who is afraid of heights) had a lot of fun. After 2 hours plus of zipping, we had a quick lunch at the hotel and headed off for a duck boat tour. As an added bonus, pick up was right outside our hotels's reception area and Buddy got a free ride since we were hotel guests. The hour long half-water, half-land tour was a really fun way to see the beautiful scenery of Wisconsin Dells.  After freshening up, we had a really nice "modern American" meal at the High Rock Cafe. The service wasn't great, but the food was delicious. We finished up just in time to use the free passes our hotel gave us to the Tommy Bartlett Water Show. Hubby loves to water-ski, Buddy thought Aqua the clown was hilarious and I appreciated the dry, self deprecating humor of Dieter Tasso. We all marveled at the water-jet propelled FlyBoard and the steel cage motorcycle riders. It was long past bedtime by the time we got home. We just had enough energy to brush our teeth and crawl into bed.

We broke down and bought this amazing shot - priceless!

Our last full day started at the Timbavati Wildlife Park. We are normally not into zoos, but since we had free passes from the hotel we decided not to let them go to waste. We wandered around for a few hours checking out the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), feeding the giraffes and goats and answering the burning question "what the heck is a coatimundi?" (it's basically a long-nosed raccoon). We had been planning to go back to the water park in the afternoon, but by the time we got back to the hotel and scavenged up lunch from our left over groceries, we were all exhausted. We decided to spend the last half of our last day vegging out watching Shark Week on Discovery. We had room service and then hit the hay.

Did you know giraffes have black tongues? We sure didn't!

We made the lofty decision to travel home all in one day. We were up bright and early the next morning, loaded the car and hit the road. After 13 hours or so, we were happy to be home.

Hubby, Buddy and I all had an amazing time in Wisconsin Dells. It was well worth the long journey and the uncomfortable hideabed (we ended up all taking turns - misery loves company!). While we all loved the water park, it is unanimous that the hands-down favorite of the trip was zip-lining. I think our next vacation will have to involve more death-defying feats!

Of course, the real best part of the trip was really spending time together as a family having fun and making memories.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Weirdest Letter I've Ever Written

Right now I shouldn't be blogging, I should be writing a letter. But I need to organize my thoughts, so here I am.

I am working on a letter for Buddy's birth Father. Or rather, I'm fumbling my way through it. Re-writing, re-wording, re-working. And lots of delete, delete, delete...

When we adopted Buddy, we had the chance to met and form a relationship with Buddy's maternal birth family. The opposite was true of his paternal side. We had no information on his birth Father. Not even a name.

About a month ago, Buddy told us he wanted to know who his birth Father is. I had heard from a fellow adoptive Mom about a woman who specializes in doing birth family searches in Buddy's former region. We hired her to find Buddy's birth father.

And she did.

So now we have a face, a name and an address.

But what do I write to the man who fathered my son but doesn't know him at all?

I know for sure we will write and send a letter. I know we will include some pictures of Buddy and our family.  I know we will send some of Buddy's artwork, because his birth Father is an artist. Other than than, I'm at a bit of a loss.

There are so many questions: How did he not know he was Buddy's Father? Does he want to be involved in his life now? Does Buddy have any brothers or sisters?

There are so many things I want to say: Buddy is smart, handsome and funny - he's amazing. We love him so much and are doing all we can to give him a great life.

But I also don't want to overwhelm him. I can't imagine what it is like to find out you have a child, he's already a young man, and he is adopted and lives half the world away. That is a lot to process, I'm sure.

Hence, here I am, blogging instead of writing.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Major Case of the Mondays

We had a wonderful week off, but today I have a major case of the Mondays. Glad I have good times to look back on!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Buddy's First Concert

The year was 1990. I loved NKOTB and especially Jordan Knight. My Mom surprised me with tickets to the New Kids on the Block Summer Magic Tour.

My first concert. I will never forget how happy and excited I was to see my favorite band live.

Fast forward 25 years...

A few weeks ago, the seminal punk-rock band Bad Religion came through our city on their most recent tour and we took Buddy to his first concert. We had an awesome time together.

In true punk rock fashion, it was loud and hot inside the all-ages show. In not so true punk rock fashion, we chose to sit instead of getting in the pit. Maybe next time.

We missed a lot of firsts with Buddy. Music means a lot to me, so I'm happy to have been able to share his first concert with him. 
Hubby explaining equipment set-up
Me explaining the concept of a mosh pit
Bad Religion - still amazing after 35 years

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Punishment vs Consequence - What's the Diff?

When Buddy gets really upset, he gets destructive. We discovered this shortly after getting home and, while he has gotten much better at controlling himself, it is still true today.

Buddy breaking things used to make me mad. Not upset, not frustrated, straight-up furious. It was one of those things that pushed me over the edge. Toy cars, pencils, books, clothes - I reacted like Buddy had spit in my face. And when he realized how upset his actions made me, it only gave them more power.

One of the things I am most proud of as an adoptive parent is I have learned to remain calm despite Buddy pushing my buttons. I finally realized that losing it when he displayed poor behavior only made the situation worse. It just isn't worth it.

The other week we had some kind of family argument. I don't even remember what about. Buddy went to play with the neighborhood kids afterwards. He was still upset but we thought it would be good for him to go out, have fun and blow off some steam.

He came home shortly after with a broken watch.

None of his friends were out so he decided to come home, but not before hitting his watch against a tree until it broke. This was the third time he had broken a watch, by the way.

Hubby and I didn't issue any punishment. No yelling, no lecture. Nothing.


The one stipulation we have about Buddy going off with his friends is he has to wear a watch so he can be home when we ask him to be. Normally he plays outside where there are no clocks and he doesn't have a phone or any other way of telling time.

The natural consequence to Buddy breaking his watch was that he wasn't able to go out with his friends after school and on the weekends until it was replaced. Neither Hubby nor I would lend him one of ours, due to his track record with his own. We also weren't going to buy him one, because the one he had was perfectly fine when he broke it.

We explained to Buddy that we can't control his actions. He is growing up and is able to make decisions for himself. But they have repercussions, and so when he makes a choice he has to live with the fallout.

After about a week, there came time when I was going to a store I knew had inexpensive watches. Buddy came along, took his time choosing a new watch and paid for it himself. The minute we got home he read his watch instructions, set it, and headed out for the first time for over a week to play with his friends.

Buddy didn't grow up in a traditional family and traditional punishments don't work with him. They re-inforce a tucked away "me-vs-them" mentality. Hubby and I have learned the best course is to have consequences that directly relate to the behavior in question.

In this case, we didn't once use the word "grounded" although that is basically what happened. Instead, we framed it as an aftereffect that related to the decision Buddy made to break his watch.

I doubt Buddy will break his watch again, but I can't say that he will never break anything in the future.

The point isn't to stop Buddy from breaking things. It's to teach him he is free to make choices, but he isn't free of the consequences of his choice.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Google Chromecast Media Player Review

In my very first post, I talked about how much I love TV but that we have cancelled most of our channels and I rarely have time for it anymore. Since then, I have discovered the beauty of Netflix. Well, actually my Mom has gotten herself a subscription and allowed me to piggy-back.

The wonderful thing about Netflix is that I can watch on my phone when I have a moment. The thing that isn't so great is that sometimes we want to watch as a family. While I have a relatively large phone and a great laptop, neither is conducive to Friday night family take-out and movie night.

For my birthday this year, Hubby bought me a Google Chromecast Media Player. By plugging it into the HDMI input in our TV and installing the Chromecast app on my phone and laptop, I can view my favorite online content on my TV.

Besides working for Netflix, YouTube and more, I love that I can use my phone as a controller. This means I can put something on for Buddy, walk away and know that he will not be tempted to click away and get himself into trouble.

Ours was about $40 on Amazon (US, Canadian and UK versions are available). For our family it's well worth the cost.

*This is not a sponsored post

Friday, July 3, 2015

Graduation Day

This was Buddy's last week of school. It was also the end of his time at this school. Next year he will move on to a new junior high school.

Last Friday, Hubby and I both took the afternoon off work to attend Buddy's elementary school graduation ceremony. They celebrated the kids' achievements and on top of his end-of-year certificate Buddy also earned a sports award. Afterwards there was cake and punch for the students and their families.

The graduating students were free to leave school early. Buddy loves his school so much he decided to stay until the end of the day. What kid wants to be in school when he doesn't have to be? We are so thankful to the school for making the last year-and-a-half so enjoyable for Buddy.

School had a rocky start. We made the hard choice to switch schools mid-year and it worked out well for all of us. 

Buddy was initially assessed between kindergarten to grade 3 when he started school in November of 2013. He finished his current school year working at grade level getting mostly 3s and 4s on a 4-point scale. He still struggles with problem solving and critical thinking, but the progress he has made is remarkable. 

While there are a lot of factors that contributed to Buddy's success, I have to hand it to his school. Especially his teacher, Mr. Black, who found the perfect balance between understanding Buddy's unique needs and helping him achieve his potential. He was also very willing to listen and learn from us, just like we were from him. Together, the four of us made a great academic team.

We are all nervous about Buddy moving schools next year. He doesn't like new places or new people and still isn't able to handle the stress associated with them in totally healthy ways. But we are in a better place for him to succeed now than we were about 2 years ago when he was first adopted. 

We will all miss Mr. Black, Buddy in particular. But an open invitation has been extended to Buddy to come back and visit any time. Especially if he ever needs someone to talk to about anything.

There really is no replacement for a good school and a great teacher.

We are so proud of our young man and excited to see what the next chapter will bring.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

July 1st is Canada Day, when Canadians celebrate our country's birthday. It's the anniversary of the enactment of the British North America Act of 1867 (now called the Constitutional Act) which united the three original British colonies into a single country called Canada.

Today, all across this great nation, we celebrate our colourful money, love of hockey and poutine. Our universal healthcare and excellent schools. Our  tolerance and politeness.

We celebrate our two national languages, French and English, and how they co-exist side-by-side. We also celebrate the unique way we turn a phrase (I got 20/20 - true Canadian, if you're wondering).

We also celebrate our diversity. We are lucky to live in a country where people not only embrace our son for his differences, but welcome him into a shared community. It's like a home away from home for those from places near and far.

So, to all you Canucks out there: Happy Canada Day / Bonne FĂȘte du Canada!

(If you don't know who Chris Hadfield is, you're missing out on one great Canadian!)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Easy Rhubarb Crisp

My Grandfathers were both master gardeners. Every summer they would each produce a bumper-crop of produce. We were never wanting for tomatoes, zucchini, beans, carrots, raspberries and on and on.
I have learned, in the last 9 years as a homeowner, a green thumb is not hereditary. I joke that I have, instead, a black thumb. I am excellent at killing plants, even ones that are supposed to be hardy.
One thing I have been successful at growing in the last couple of years is rhubarb. And boy, when I say successful I mean it. I have bags and bags of the stuff in my freezer, and more on the way.
One of my favorite recipes for rhubarb is this crisp. It's both easy to make and tasty. A winning combination, in my books.



    4 cups rhubarb, cut into 3/4 " pieces
    1 cup sugar
    1⁄4 cup flour
    1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup flour
    1 cup brown sugar
    1⁄2 cup rolled oats
    1⁄2 cup melted butter

Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour, cinnamon and vanilla and put into 8" x 8" x 2" glass baking dish.

Combine flour, brown sugar, rolled oats and melted butter and sprinkle streusel over rhubarb mixture.

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Shoes. Or Not...

I just bought Buddy a new pair of shoes. He's gone from size 2 to a 5 since September, so it's not his first new pair this year.

He has small feet for a tween. They're the cutest little round feet I have ever seen in my life. I would eat them up, if they didn't stink to high heaven half the time.

When we adopted him almost 2 years ago he was in size 1 shoes. While in country, bought him a pair of over-sized velcro runners because they were the only thing we could find that were close to fitting him.

Once we got home, it was only slightly easier to find footwear. Most size 1 shoes are made for little kids. They not only have velcro-closures but cartoon characters and light-up soles. They aren't the kind of thing a young man wants to wear.

Before Buddy started school, we took him to a huge athletic store to get a pair of gym shoes. They had three pairs of size 1 lace-up runners and none of them appealed to him. He pointed out several pairs he liked, and I explained that because he had small feet, they weren't available in his size.

Little did we know that Buddy had often been teased in the orphanage for having small feet. They also rarely had shoes donated that fit him and he often missed out on fun things like soccer cleats.

So, we experienced our first public melt-down. And, we also didn't get any new shoes that day.

Triggers are funny things. Sometimes they are obvious, but sometimes the most random thing can set Buddy off.

Ever since, either I go shopping for Buddy's shoes alone, we order them online or go to stores that divide the shoes into sections by size. Buddy isn't nearly as sensitive about his small feet anymore, but there is no point in tempting fate.

And we make sure that when Buddy outgrows his shoes that we save them to send to one specific boy back at the orphanage who is a few years younger than Buddy and has small feet himself.

L - New shoes (with end of year friend signatures)  R - Old shoes

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Day at the Fair

Every year the fair comes to town. My parents used to take my step-sisters, brother and I when we were little and we would ride all the rides, eat mini doughnuts and come home dirty and exhausted. 

It was awesome! 

Hubby is terrified of rides, so for a long time I had no reason to go. Until last year. 

Buddy loves rides. The only ride that Hubby likes is the bumper cars, which I can't stand. But guess who loves them too: Buddy! 

Going to the fair was one of my top 10 moments of 2014. 

This past weekend, we went again. We road all the rides, ate mini doughnuts and came home dirty and exhausted. 

It was awesome!

The view from the ferris wheel
The Mega Drop
The Ring of Fire
The Swing Tower
Hubby trying his luck at the midway games
Buddy walking on water in a WOW Bubble

Monday, June 22, 2015

Choosing to be Adopted

Buddy was given a say in the matter when we adopted him, as all older children in his country are. He first verbally agreed to being adopted and then wrote out a statement indicating the same. Some children are even asked to give a statement in adoption court, although Buddy wasn't asked to do so.

After we first got home, Buddy told Hubby and I that he liked us the moment he saw us and wanted to be adopted by us. I cried.

Once we had been home close to a year, Buddy started opening up about his true feelings about being adopted. I was pretty hard to hear him say, "I never wanted to be adopted."

We have talked about it many times since. Buddy has explained that when he was living in the orphanage he didn't think he needed to be adopted. That he was perfectly fine with his life as it was. He didn't want it to change, but didn't think he actually had a choice.


He has elaborated and said he no longer thinks everything was fine in the orphanage, but at the time he didn't know any better. He didn't know what it meant to be a part of a stable family where you get more than enough, as opposed to just enough to sustain.

I don't feel guilty for adopting Buddy in the slightest. It is clear from watching him grow and develop emotionally, intellectually and physically that he is in the right place. I watch him sleep soundly when he used to fight bedtime. I kiss his round cheeks that used to be hollow. And I wrap my arms around him and hear him exclaim, "Mama, you know what? I love you!"

I have no doubt Buddy is where he should be.

But still...

Adoption is hard. For Buddy, he lost what little control and consistency he had in his life. It was leaving the familiar for the unknown.

For him, it has worked out. The same isn't true for every kid, though.

What is the point of having a child choose to be adopted when they actually don't feel there is any other option?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Father's Day

Father's Day is Sunday. I'm not going to give you any details, just in case Hubby decides to check my blog before then.

For most of my life, Father's Day was a weird day for me.

I have a biological father and a step-father. My birth dad isn't really much of a part of my life, although he does flit in and out unpredictably. He's not a bad guy, but he is a bad dad. My step-father is my Dad, but he died in 2009 from pancreatic cancer.

Father's Day for the 4 years between my Dad's death and when we adopted Buddy were hard days. And the first Father's Day after adopting was difficult too. Our honeymoon period had ended and we were trying to navigate the difficult task of being a family when we didn't really understand what that meant.

This week, we are started a search for Buddy's biological father. Buddy told us he wants to know who his birth dad is, and so we've found someone in his home country who will hopefully be able to find that information for us.

I guess what I'm trying to say in all this is that sometimes in a non-traditional family, holidays and celebrations don't look like the perfect picture Hallmark intended them to. They can be hard and sad. And people who aren't living the same kind of life don't always understand.

So, I am going to say the same thing here as I will say to Hubby. The same thing I tell myself. And Buddy. Don't put pressure on yourself to feel how you THINK you should feel on these days. If it's hard, let it be hard. If you're sad, allow yourself to feel sad.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads* out there. I hope you have an awesome day. You deserve it!

Especially to the most important Dad in my life, my own amazing husband!

*Dad = biological, adoptive, step, foster, and Father-figures. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baseball, Commitment and Understanding Consequences

Buddy signed up for lunchtime intramural baseball this year and things had been going fine. Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. They had a tournament that was fun. It clearly isn't Buddy's favorite sport but he also doesn't hate it.

Last week, I was sitting outside enjoying a warm, sunny evening. Buddy came out of the house to sit with me and we were chatting about our days. I asked Buddy if there was still baseball or if it was done for the year.

"They're still playing, but not me. I missed a game and Mr. Black told me I couldn't come back."


We talked about it a bit, and the story according to Buddy was he forgot he had baseball and was playing with his friends over the lunch hour. He didn't notice the game going on until it was almost over. When he went to the field, he was told by his teacher he was off the team for missing.

This story sound like it doesn't add up to anyone else? Because it sure didn't sound like the whole truth to me.

At the same time, I was worried that Buddy was kicked off the team permanently. Regardless of what he had done, I questioned the appropriateness of the consequence for a kid with abandonment issues.

I asked Buddy how it made him feel to be told he couldn't play any more. He said it made him feel nothing, then got up and walked to the other side of our yard. I said that if it was me, I would probably have felt embarrassed. That I don't like to be wrong and when people point out when I am I don't like it, especially if other people are around. He nodded and we left it at that.

Hubby contacted the school and had a conversation with Mr. Black the next day. His story was a little different and more believable. Buddy didn't want to stay around the diamond at lunch time and chose not to play baseball that day.  Mr. Black said he generally doesn't punish kids for missing a game, but the difference was that Buddy "was right there and chose not to play."  He made a commitment to the team which he didn't honor and commitments are important, so Mr. Black gave Buddy a one-game suspension.  He was welcome to come back and play the next game after that.

Hubby told Mr. Black that Buddy didn't seem to understand the reason why couldn't play baseball, other than that he simply missed the game. Buddy didn't get the lesson Mr. Black was trying to teach. Hubby reminded Mr. Black that when bad things happen, Buddy withdraws and avoids focusing on the event and that we've found it's important to be really clear about what consequences are imposed and why.

Mr. Black wasn't defensive, he said he would follow up with Buddy. He thought Buddy understood but realized he clearly must not have.  We were all on the same page.

So, after his one-game suspension, Buddy returned for the final game. They may have lost in the playoffs, but I hope Buddy gained more than just a title from his time on the team.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Best Mom

Last week, I was reading to Buddy before bed. He wrapped his arms around my neck and put his head on my chest and said:

"You're my first Mom, right?"

"I'm not your first Mom, Mama Anne is. But I am your forever Mom."

"Well, you're my best Mom."

"It isn't a competition, having you in my life is all I need. You don't need to pick one Mom over the other."

This is the message I give Buddy consistently. After we first adopted, I struggled to understand how Mama Anne and I fit in to the big picture of Buddy's life.
But it isn't really up to me. It's for Buddy to decide how he feels about us. And whatever he decides is perfectly fine.

"How ever you feel about me and about Mama Anne is good. And that was a very nice thing to say, thank you very much. You are my best son. I love you so much."

"I love you, too. Can you read to the end of the chapter?"

And so I did.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Why You Should Know CPR

Yesterday I spent 8 hours in class - first-aid class, that is.

Ever since university I've been a certified first-aider. To maintain my certificate, I take a refresher class every three year. It requires a day spent watching videos, listening to lectures and doing practical work on both fellow students and dummies. And a multiple choice test at the end of it all.

I started doing first-aid training because it was required by my faculty, then because it looked good on a resume, and finally to maintain professional expanded-scope certification. But most recently, I've wanted to have it for an even more important reason.


I think every parent should be certified in first-aid.

In the course of the 8 hour class, we learned CPR, abdominal compressions (aka the Heimlich maneuver), how to clean and dress a wound, stop a severe bleeding, and treat burns, anaphylaxis and shock.

I'm not an expert in first aid by any means. But the course makes me feel more confident that I can deal with emergency situations. Now that I'm a Mom, it's that much more important to me.

The chance that I will ever need to use CPR is pretty slim. But the thing with CPR (and other first-aid skills) is that if I do need ever them, it may very well be because someone I love is in distress.

That's definitely worth 8 hours of my time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two Steps Forward...

A few weeks ago we had a significant breach of a clearly established internet safety rule. This was followed by a conversation about why we have rules (to keep us safe) and a consequence of no electronics for one week.

Buddy was unhappy and there was some quiet pouting, but generally it went over well. There was no dysregulation, self-harm or property destruction like in the past.

I was pleasantly surprised.

I should have known better.

Within about an hour Buddy went from quiet to sullen to withdrawn. He wouldn't verbally acknowledge me, although he would nod or shrug to a direct question. At the same time, he was doing little things that he knows push my buttons to get a reaction.

Buddy had soccer that same night, which I thought would be a good opportunity for us to get some space from each other. Besides, it was Hubby's turn to be "flag Dad" and I wasn't really looking forward to sitting by myself anyways.

Hubby packed Buddy up into the car to drive to the soccer pitch. Buddy was doing warm-up drills and then next thing Hubby knew he was gone. A few minutes later, Buddy came running up to Hubby, smiling, and cheerfully exclaimed, "I just puked!"


Hubby decided it wasn't a good night for soccer. Once they got home, Buddy seemed upbeat, but of course that can mean a lot more than it seems. At his request, I ran him a bath, and sat with him reading from Calvin and Hobbs, one of his favorites.

After the bath, Buddy put on his PJs and asked me to stay with him in his room. We laid side by side for 30 minutes quietly reading. By the time I was ready for bed myself, he was already asleep.

The next morning, I had an early meeting and didn't bother waking Buddy until I absolutely needed to. He was obviously still not feeling well, and was complaining of dizziness and generally feeling sick. I let him decide if he was up to going to school and after much deliberation and soliciting my advice, he decided to stay home.

After my meeting, I called home to check on him and offered to bring him something to eat. He said he was starting to get hungry, so I picked him up a breakfast sandwich and smoothie (and a coffee for me!) and headed home. After sleeping away the morning and having  a bite to eat, he wanted to go to school.

Buddy has come so far when it comes to processing emotions. But two steps forward, one step back. I am glad that Hubby and I are getting better at understanding the meaning behind the behavior and understanding Buddy's unique way for dealing with anger, unhappiness and stress.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Who the Heck is Garri Potter?

Buddy is a really witty, funny, sarcastic kid. He is my son, after all.

When we first met Buddy at the orphanage, he was pretty quiet and reserved. This was generally the case when we were around other people, especially adults. But as soon as we were alone, his exhuberant personality would shine through.

By the time our adoption was complete and we were ready to go home, we had known each other for nearly two month. While we still had a long way to go, we were pretty comfortable and bonded over joking around and teasing each other.

I remember walking down a congested sidewalk in the middle of the day on our way to pick up Buddy's travel visa a few days before we went home. It was so crowded we couldn't all walk together. Hubby was in front and Buddy and I were following behind him, hand in hand.

As we walked, we passed a poster for a Harry Potter movie. I pointed it out and asked Buddy if he had seen the movies. He looked at me like I was crazy and corrected me that it was not Harry. The famous wizard, in fact, went by the name Garri.

Who the heck is Garri Potter?

I corrected him. No his name isn't Garri. That may the translation, but he is British and named Harry.

I'll save you the back and forth of the next 10 minutes, but it basically went like this: "Garri!" "Not Garri, HARRY!" "NO Harry, GARRI!"...

Eventually Hubby turned around, rolled his eyes, laughed, and asked us to keep it down. I looked around the busy street and realized that we were basically yelling at each other and laughing like maniacs. And in a country known for it stoicism, we were sticking out like a couple of sore thumbs.

When we were in Universal at Harry Potter Land, I remembered this. And Buddy did, too, because he looked up at me as we were walking, holding hands, laughed and said "No Harry, GARRI!"

Spasiba, Garri Potter, for giving me my first inside joke with Buddy.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Everything is an Argument

But I'm only... Just one more... First can I... You never said... As soon as I...

In a minute...
Lately, Hubby and I have been dealing with something that seems to be pretty common in parenting: argumentativeness.

Of course, there is the extra layer with Buddy.

Honestly guys, it's really annoying.

I try hard to be a Connected Parent who says "yes" more than "no" and searches for the meaning behind the behavior. I understand the reason for boundary testing and the importance of providing a safe environment.

But sometimes I just want to shout "Just do as I say and stop arguing."

Not that I ever have...