Thursday, March 30, 2006

eBay Purchase

This cute little number arrived in the mail today. It's hard to tell what it is but it's an Asian dress and purse for a Build-A-Bear.

I decided after being DTC a couple of weeks ago that when I receive my LID I will celebrate by going to Build-A-Bear and create a bear for Hannah.

I know most of the kiddies in there will be no taller than my knee, but hey, it's for my baby girl so I'm going to do it! If you haven't had the opportunity to visit a BaB store, the concept really is quite cute. The part I'm looking forward to most is kissing the heart and placing it inside the bear. My precious Hannah already has my heart...and so much more of me!

As I'm sure you've guessed, my trusty camera will follow this adventure and I'll be sure to post all the fun details here!

Speaking of Log In Dates (LID's), some people in the March DTC group received their LID's today! Some files were sent March 10th which is only 1 business day before mine! Will I get a March LID? That would be wonderful!!! You'll hear me shouting when I find my date.

Woohoo! Lucky #62!!!

Yes! Finally!!! After winning a coffee with cup #4 I have now added a donut to the mix with this winning roll up! It can be traded in for a muffin so I may treat myself to that tomorrow. Let's hope my winning streak is just beginning...or ending. This campaign should be over soon so I'll go back to just 1 or 2 Tim's a day and save myself a bundle.

I also have a confession to make. [insert blushing here] After taking a picture of this winning cup I actually threw it in the garbabe before I remembered to tear off the prize! Duh!!! Can you imagine??? I quickly recovered it though and it's ready to go. Guess it goes to prove that the fun is in the chase, not in the conquering.

Adoption Seminar - Part II

Back by popular demand…Adoption Seminar Part II

(I’ve had this post partially written for a while but finally tweaked it enough to post today. I hope you’re enjoying reading and learning. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned over the past year and am happy to share some of it with you. I'm sure many of things I’m mentioning you already know but hopefully you'll learn something new.)

Suggestions When Meeting Your Child – Part II:
The room we meet the babies in will probably be crowded and noisy. Ideally it would be nice if the handoff took place slowly but again history proves that the handoff is often very quick. If at all possible, try to separate from the others a bit and spend some time gently getting to know one another. This is probably common knowledge but speaking to her in hushed, calm tones in the beginning will also help her through the initial transition from her caretakers to her new parents.

It is common that the baby won’t want to make eye contact. This isn’t an issue to be forced, it will happen with time. My guess is that if she looks at me she’ll be thinking, who are you and what are you? Blonde hair? What’s up with that? Also, facial hair on men will probably be totally new to her and could be quite scary. (Dad, so glad you’re through your ‘Kenny Rogers’ phase and back to just a moustache. How attached are you to that moustache? Just kidding! I wouldn’t know you if you shaved it off!)

Another very common thing after handoff is that the babies fall into a deep sleep on the bus ride back to the hotel. Partially because they’re tired, partially because their little bodies are in shock and sleep is a way to cope with all that is happening in their lives. Even though they’re small, they will still go through a grieving process. This can include sleeping, anger, not eating, etc. Not only will my daughter have lost her birthmother and birthfather shortly after being born, she will now have lost the nannies/foster parents that were her entire world.

To help us understand what she will be going through we were asked to write down the names of the 5 most important people in our lives. (You can do this too…I’ll wait…..)

Next, cross off one of the names. Ouch! Then, cross off a second, third, forth and finally the last name on the list. Did your stomach just lurch a little? Mine did! Every person my daughter has ever known and loved will be removed from her life, the majority of them on one painful day! You and I know that she will be coming home and learning that we are a forever family – a family full of love and one that will never, ever leave her. But, she doesn’t know that. She only knows loss at this point. The trust will need to be earned and that will take time. A lot of time. (…More on that later.)

When you return to the hotel, it will be tempting to immediately change her clothes and put her in that ‘cute little outfit’ you bought especially for today and can’t wait to see her in. Please don’t do that. Please wait. Unless her clothes are so soiled that you don’t have a choice, please leave her in at least some of the (10) layers she came to you in! Once again, the feel and scent of these clothes are one of the only familiar things in an upside down world to her right now.

Something I’ve planned if possible is that when I do take off some of the layers I’ll put them in ziploc bags to help them retain their scent. On days when the transition is particularly hard on her, I’ll give her a piece of this clothing to hold. In particular, I’ll keep something for that first night when we’re home in Canada together and there is nothing familiar (other than me by this point) for her to grasp onto. Anything I can do to help her out with the initial transition time, I plan on doing.

We were also taught about bathing the girls. More than likely the only bath they will have had will have been a sponge bath so a bath in a tub, however small can be a scary thing the first couple of times round. Begin by having a sponge bath beside the sink/tub. Bring a couple of tub toys if possible as this will also help with the transition. Another rough spot will probably be hair washing but isn’t it that way for most babies/children? Another thing not to do with any child, adopted or bio, is to pull the plug while they’re in the tub. They think they’re going down with the water.

Babies = Toys but there’s no need to bring too many. In fact, too many can overwhelm and over stimulate her. I’ve heard from many that stacking cups are perfect! They’re easy to pack; colourful and fun for the babies. The children will have spent most of their time in cribs without a lot of stimulation. Another suggestion by someone in the class was to save 1 new toy for the plane ride home when things get a little hairy on a long flight!

Along similar lines, it’s recommended that the nursery not be decorated too brightly or with too many things. Over stimulation can happen with this too. In general, keeping things calm in the beginning will ease the transition. One family at my table laughed that they were going home to move toys back to the basement for a while.

Visiting the Orphanage:
This is probably the best lesson I learned all day as it changed my viewpoint 100%!

If you have the opportunity to visit the orphanage and/or meet the foster parents, do it with your child! I had always planned on visiting the orphanage if I could but had considered not taking her inside so as not to traumatize her. The total opposite is what is proven to be best for the children.

As was mentioned earlier, often the babies are removed from their orphanage/foster home while they are sleeping and travel to meet the adoptive parents with a caregiver. Visiting the orphanage allows the baby the opportunity to see that the orphanage is still there, the care givers are still there and that those people fully support them being with their new parents. It can really help with the healing of their little hearts if they get to visit. It will mean that those important people didn’t suddenly drop off then end of the earth. They are still there and they agree with the changes that have happened in the baby’s life.

Having learned this, I’ll do everything I can to visit Hannah’s orphanage if I’m able to and I’ll take her with me! This was a HUGE lesson for me to learn!

Also, while visiting the orphanage, take pictures of as much as possible/allowed. Many orphanages do not allow video taping so that probably won’t happen but I’ll take all the pictures I can. Even though she won’t remember them, I hope to take pictures of the people who cared for her so wonderfully before we met. This will be an important link to my baby’s first days and caregivers. They’re important to her so will in turn become very important to me.

[This paragraph was not discussed at the seminar but fits in well here.] If you have an opportunity to see you child’s ‘finding spot’ it’s an important place to take a picture of as well. Whether you choose to tell people what the picture is of or if it’s just another one of your ‘pictures of China’ is up to you. At this time, I believe I will not share with people the meaning behind this picture – it will just look like any other picture of our time in China. At a later date if Hannah chooses to tell people what this is a picture of that will be her choice. (Back to the seminar…)

Upon returning to Canada you may or may not want to have people meet you at the airport. For me, I would love to have people there!!! I will share with family and friends before I go to China that to help her with her sense of security I won’t be passing her around at the airport. I’m the first one at a baby shower to want to hold the new baby but this situation will be a little different. She can meet people but from the safety of Mommy’s arms. It’s recommended that it be this way for the majority of people for the first 4-6 weeks to help her with initial bonding and attachment. (Grandparents and special friends will be different by my own choice.) Attachment is a growing process and there are lots of steps along the way. These first weeks are very important for bonding and initial attachment. In the same line, it’s recommended that friends wait at least 4 weeks before planning a baby shower. At a shower Mom will be busy opening gifts so it could be difficult for the child to be surrounded by a lot of people yet have Mom’s attention needed in 2 places at once.

(I understand that some of the things I’m saying may sound ‘extreme’ and maybe to a degree they are. But, many people have gone before me and I’m trying to learn from their experiences. That being said, Hannah will still be my #1 teacher and I’ll take my cues from her. If she’s an outgoing child and wants to visit people I don’t want to hold her back. Yup…lots to learn. Some things I’ll do well, other times I’ll make mistakes and learn from those.)

Adjustment Considerations:
When you get home, if people want to help you, encourage them to help with things around the home (picking up a couple of groceries, making a meal, laundry, etc.) but the child care should be left to the parent(s). Hmmm…wonder if I can start getting help with the house cleaning now? LOL! I’ll have to work on that one!

One of the most difficult transitions now lays before you…sleep (or lack thereof!) Welcome to parenthood! You now have a baby who’s just learning who you are. A 24 hour period of traveling home and then returning to a time zone that is exactly opposite to her internal body clock. Uh oh, sounds like a recipe for sleepless nights if I’ve ever heard one!

I remember reading about this on my friend Karen’s blog shortly after she returned home with her daughter last fall. She remembers putting Gwen in her crib for a nap and then sitting down on the floor of the nursery to fold laundry. 2 hours later she woke to find her face planted in a pile of onesies! She’d been out for the count and Gwen was still fast asleep in her crib. That’s jet-lag for you.

For sleeping preparations, I’m going to set her crib up in my room. I’m choosing to do this for a few reasons. Firstly, my child will never have slept in a room by herself. She will probably have had a cribmate if she was in an orphanage or if she was in foster care she would have slept with the foster parents. Many have shared that if their baby sleeps within arms reach they feel them reach out with a hand or foot during the night ensuring themselves that someone is there and then go back to sleep. I want to be there for her. I want to help her learn that I will always be there for her and won’t leave her. I understand this is not for everyone; it’s just how I’m planning on doing things. Each of us needs to decide what is best for our child and ourselves.

This leads into the topic of comforting our children. If they cry, go to them. If they fall, pick them up. If they hurt themselves, don’t be afraid to spoil them by making a big fuss over a little bump. This may be contrary to the way things are done with a bio child but again this is part of the process of her learning that someone is there for her. Never in her little life has she known for sure that someone is there for her 100% of the time. Some adoptive parents tell of watching their newly adopted children tumble hard, possibly bump heads with another child etc. and it not even faze them. It’s not that they’re not hurt, it’s just that they may have learned in the past that nobody would come if this happened so why call out now. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach your child that things have changed and now someone is there to comfort them when they hurt. They no longer have to do this for themselves.

As time goes by and your child grows to know you and trust you more this type of ‘over comforting’ will decrease but in the beginning it’s a great teaching time.

Self-comforting/Self-stimulation is something our children will often have become efficient at when we get them and this can be a very scary thing for us as parents. When a child is seen rocking in a crib we often wonder if there is a problem. If she’s lying on her back and wiggling her fingers in front of her face we can stress that it’s the sign of something wrong. We can relax. Often, these are actions that the child has learned to entertain and comfort themselves while in the orphanage. Once a child is in a loving home with one-on-one care and stimulation, these habits will normally decrease over time. It may be tempting to stop her if she’s rocking in the crib but its best not to do so as it’s her coping mechanism. Before long, that habit will be replaced by something else and it will be a part of her past.

Food changes will also need to be taken into consideration. We did an ‘experiment’ where I was ‘the victim.’ (I should have known by that term that I was in trouble!) I sat with my eyes closed and allowed someone to feed me. The first thing she did was wave something with a really fishy smell under my nose. Expecting fish, my taste buds were shocked when she fed me a small piece of chocolate. Next she fed me a small piece of lemon. My taste buds were jumping…partially because of the variety of flavours, variety of textures and partially because they had no idea whatsoever to expect. The food that is ‘normal’ to my taste buds will not be normal to hers. Guess I’ll be learning how to make congee…whatever that is!

Another part of eating that may happen in China, in Canada, or both is that she may just not want to eat. Again it can have to do with her little body being in shock. Some children don’t eat…others don’t know when to stop. If a child has never felt the feeling of being ‘full’ they may not know when to stop because they don’t yet have the confidence that food will always be available to her. For older children, it is not uncommon that they store food in their cheeks just to make sure there's something for later.

I think I’ll leave this post at this time and create a Part III. As you can see, it was a great day with a ton of wonderful information!

I hope you’re enjoying reading this and learning as much as I did!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Initial Bonding - A Dad's Experience in China

The following is an entry from the blog, The Cady Chase. Scott and Karen are currently in China adopting their beautiful 16 month old daughter Cady! I enjoyed this post and learned so much from his entry that I asked Scott if I could copy it here for you to read and he graciously agreed. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did and are able to learn something that might be new to you. Enjoy!

"People have asked about the bonding process, and how to help keep it even so that one parent is not excluded from the process. It absolutely varies for each child, but I will generalize a few things that I have learned that might help. These things work with a toddler level child, who has a very clear understanding of what's going on.

When we get our babies, we try to be oh so gentle. They are so precious, and we reach out slowly, touch softly, caress, gently hug, and even try to play very carefully. This was my habit when we got her, and though I would not change this behavior for the first day, when we were just trying to understand each other, but day two is a good time. This is a very different situation than raising a child from the womb, but think about any child from anywhere at this age. We grab, poke, wiggle, spin, dance, and we play hard. Add to this the fact that these children have been raised very abruptly. Never harshly mind you. I can attest to that. I have seen the orphanage, and I unless they painted the walls just for our visit, and told everyone in this very big building to be extra gentle with the children in case we walked in, then I can tell you that the people working here want every child to get through this. My point is that these kids are handled as children, not as priceless vases. Being treated too softly is totally alien to them.

I emphasize this though. Start softly, and build up fast. When we got Cady, she behaved like a 3 month old. That first few hours of bathing, dressing, and talking, she was in a near comatose state. She had no idea what was happening, and she was frightened. All she did was sit on the bed with us and looked around. She didn't move her arms or legs or anything. Soft was good. Within a few hours she was more like a 7 month old. At this point we didn't even know if she could walk. She was becoming curious about things, and would lean over to try to see things out of her line of sight. She noticed the stacking cups. She started exploring her toys. By the next day, she was more alert and moving around. We learned that not only could she walk all by herself, she was very good at it, and really enjoyed it.

If I could do it all over again, I would have started with a little more play appropriate to her age. Still softer than normal, but beginning to ramp it up a little. We didn't do this. We still treated her softly. In the end, and at this point, we have overcome and surpassed what we may not have gained on day two, but it made the day tougher than it had to be.

Another good tip that we learned just last night and have been working on ever since is that I think the child will always pick one parent and begin that bond. Where they are from they know many people, but they come to rely on only one. Just that one person for feeding, changing, playing, and being put to bed. They may not understand what this pair of people is supposed to be about. I personally feel that no matter what you do or how you do it, the child will pick one.

Now here's where it gets important. When the child has picked their parent, two things need to happen.

(1) First, that other parent needs to never stop trying. Grab that child and steal kisses. You bet she or he will cry, but you take them anyhow. Remember, we're retraining them that there is more than one now. Let the child cry, this is why most agencies recommend you spend time alone in the room together. These children will cry, and it will hurt you to the core. Take those hugs, and take those kisses. You and the child deserve them. Always keep it a game. Make lots of funny sounds, make wiggly airplane fingers and poke them in the belly with splashing or crashing sounds. Make your kisses really really loud. Pucker those lips, lean in squeaking, pop that kiss on the cheek, and move back really fast. I think actions that linger like holding the lips in too long or hugging too long seem to intimidate the child. I know that it kinda scared Cady so it was no longer mentally stimulating. This caused her to back off and resist. They will resist no matter what, but when it becomes fun, and a game, well guess what. I think this defines bonding.

(2) The chosen parent needs to take the things that helped the bonding start needs to begin sharing those things. When Cady first started attaching to me, I would grab her foot and kiss it, then I would grab a hand and kiss it, then I would pop a kiss on her cheek. She never even laughed or giggled at this. She just stared at me. Eventually she would lift her foot up really high so that I could kiss it. She would let me give it a kiss, and she would then pull it away really fast, then put a hand to my face and the same. Once we caught on to how to do this, I started sharing games with Karen. I would grab her hand and kiss it, then pull her hand over to Mommy to kiss it. She didn't like that at all, but we would try it a few times, then move on to something else. Later on we would try that game again, and maybe a new game. Cady already liked grabbing my thumbs and making me clap my hands. Karen would push her hands inside of that, and I would help Cady clap my hands really fast so we could catch Mommy's hands inside. This became a game that we all liked.

Even then, it was a very tough day. We had to do all of these things. There were times in which I had to pretend that I was not interested at all. She would come to my leg while sitting in the chair, and she wanted me to pick her up or play. I just pretended not to notice. It was hell, but then again, nobody said this was going to be easy.

This afternoon Karen found her little girl. I want to encourage her to write about it herself, but it was very special to me. I was helping Macy's parents with getting some images uploaded to a separate page so that they could share with their own families, and Karen took advantage of the moment, by playing with Cady in her own way. They played some games that Mommy thought up, and they did the things that girls liked, like playing with ribbons and bows in a fun way. They did very well together. I'm proud of Cady's new Mommy. She had the tougher part, and she worked very hard and overcame it, and I think we are very close to the balance that we wanted.

Another thing that I have learned is that it was 2 steps forward, and 1 step back. Every time this little girl went to sleep, we lost some ground. We had to start some things over, but this time it didn't take an hour of work, it took 15 minutes. Once again right now as I am typing this, I am partially ignoring my daughter so that she can learn that Mommy is right over there shaking her box of animal crackers. This time though, I can look down at her, smile at her, even talk to her. I just can't pick her up yet. You know what? She walked over to Mommy for those crackers. She brought them back over to me, but I am still typing. Don't come to China thinking this is a vacation. You're coming here to work and learn.

This has gotten very lengthy to write, and I do remind you, read this advice with caution. Orphanage or not, these children are every bit as individual as those in the United States. Your mileage on this advice will vary."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Another (Not So Fun) Sign of Spring

Don't want to get too excited but I think Spring may finally be here. Yeah! Scattered throught my lawn are these brave little crocus who are the first to announce that spring is coming and that silent gray branches will soon burst forth in buds and leaves! (To see this or any picture in a larger version just click on it and it voila!)

I love Spring...Can you tell? After short days and long nights it's wonderful to see the sun rising earlier in the morning and staying up later in the evening. (Sidenote: Reminder that Daylight Savings begins this Sunday at 2am. Time to 'spring ahead.') Along with the beauty we see in nature I'm also very thankful to move my boots to the basement and retire the winter coat to the closet until next winter. Now, if I could just figure out what to do about all those summer clothes that have 'shrunk' in my closet over winter I'd be all set! (I digress...)

Unfortunately, this my friends is also another sign of spring. The sweet little birdies that love to wake me with their songs in the morning, also feel free to join me in the kitchen by building a nest in my stove exhaust vent. (That one little flap that's flipped up is an invitation to trouble.) It's nothing new and they try it every year so every year I need to do the infamous dance of the 'Broom and Duct Tape!' (Red Green would be so proud!)

Yes, this little number is my weapon of choice! 'What is it' you ask? Well I'm glad you did. It's a very scientific contraption invented for times such as these. Hey...maybe I should patent it and go on that new reality show for inventors? What do you think? (Ah man, digressing again!)

After very carefully getting the tape to handle ratio (crucial later in trying later to get the tape to transfer from the broom to the vent) I stand on my tip-toes and try to cover the vent while still leaving it slightly open should I need it. It's a delicate procedure but with a steady hand, slightly cramped toes and careful aim, it's mission accomplished!

Sorry birdies! You'll have to find another place to build your cute little nests. I have nothing against you, I'd just prefer to get my bird's nest soup at a Chinese food restaurant rather than in my kitchen!

PS - Please note that no birdies were harmed in the making of this post although I'm pretty sure I saw the neighbours peeking out at the crazy lady who was not only duct taping her vent closed but taking pictures using a tripod at the same time!! Yup...the only thing harmed in the making of this post was my reputation! :o)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Special 'Bloggie' Friends

I have a few extra special friends in bloggie world: Julie, Karen, Mary-Mia and Dawn. There are a number of other blogs that I read on a regular basis but these ladies have all touch my heart in a special way and I am so thankful for each of them!

Friday afternoon I popped home quickly on my way out of town to find a package in my mailbox. I'd ordered something from eBay earlier in the week so thought it was probably that arriving. What a treat it was to read the return address and realize it was from my friend Julie! I couldn't tear into the package fast enough although the little 'clinking' sound had me a little concerned.

Well, I need not have been concerned. The noise I was hearing was this cute little ladybug bracelet moving about the tin heart container it was in. I fell in love with it immediately and it has barely left my wrist since Friday afternoon! (For those who are just learning about adoptions from China, ladybugs are the symbol for adoptions from China. People say that when they see a ladybug that Referrals of new babies are coming! I've seen ladybugs on my wrist all weekend, does this mean more referrals this week? :o)

Also included was this adorable board book, 'I Love You Like Crazy Cakes.' This is a beautiful book written by a mother who adopted a baby girl from China. It's a staple in every Chinese adoption home and now I have a copy to read to Hannah...and probably for her to eat! Isn't that what board books are for?

The final item in the package was a beautiful handmade card about Motherhood and love. Wow!

I want to share another very important part of the friendship Julie and I share with you now. Back in January of 2005 I was on my favourite scrapbooking website, Two Peas In A Bucket. I was scanning the non-scrapbooking message board when I came across Julie's post that she had just received a singles spot and could begin her paperchase for baby Tess. It was great news to hear so I added a note about how happy I was for her. It was also there that I shared out loud for one of the first times that this had been something I'd thought about and prayed about too but never pursued. Well, that was January 5th 2005 and January 11, 2005 God layed it on my heart to begin my adoption journey!!! God used Julie in an amazing way to lead me in what He wanted me to do! Since then, Julie and I correspond all the time and have become very good friends. Someday we'd love for our daughters to meet (PEI maybe?) and it would be wonderful for us to meet in person too!

Come to think of it, my 4 special friends are scattered all across North America: Minnesota, North Carolina, California and British Columbia. I don't think mileage wise we could be much more spread out but our online friendships are only a click away and for that I am very, very thankful!

You guys are wonderful and I am so thankful to be getting to know each of you better as we travel this journey to mommyhood together! Karen, you're leading the way with precious Gwen already with you and we're so very happy to be learning from the best!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sharing My Decision to Adopt with Family and Friends

This morning while my friend Carol and I were out for a walk, we began discussing my adoption journey (no surprise here!) and all that had transpired over the past 14 months.

She brought up something really insightful that I've thought about but had talked about here yet.

What Carol and I talked about was people's reactions to my news that I was adopting. Some jumped on board right away while others took probably close to a year to fully come on board. I was surprised by both. Some people who I thought would immediately be as excited as I was, were more reserved in their reaction. Others who I thought would need time to grasp the idea were ready to start knitting pink sweaters Day 1.

What I want to share is that over this year+, I've realized that each person's reaction was exactly right for them. An honest, open reaction from their heart.

If they were reserved, was it because they disagreed with my decision? No. Was it because they didn't understand? No.

It was because they love me. The love me so much that they didn't want to see me hurt should the adoption not happen. They wanted to somehow protect me from hurt and for that I am very thankful to each of them. If I was honest I'd say that I was often hurt (in a different way) by the 'reserved' reactions but only because at the time I didn't understand. It's taken me a long time to fully grasp why (I think) people react in different ways.

Becoming a Mother was something people knew I wanted to do someday but the thoughts I'd had, researching done and prayers offered up about the possibility adopting from China, was something I had only shared with 1 person. And, that discussion had only happened one time and I hadn't mentioned it to her again to the best of my knowledge. Me, who spills everything to everyone, had kept this silent thought and prayer deep inside. Because of this, when I announced what my intentions were, people took time to adjust. Some took 5 mins. Some 5 months and others an entire year. And that's ok. I'd had years to prepare myself and yet I was asking them to grasp it immediately and fall in love with the idea in an instant. I didn't realize it at the time, but my expectations were way out of line. Just as I had taken years to make this decision, they needed time to adjust to it too.

As you can tell by this blog, I'm not one to hide my heart. (Truth be told, I probably offer it out too much.) For me, I want to share what's happening. Do I get hurt? Yes...but don't we all. I put my heart out and sometimes it gets trampled. When that happens I pick up the pieces and with God's help move forward, hopefully a better person for what I've learned.

What I have learned is that putting my heart out is how God has made me and I'm happy I'm this way. The good that happens far outweighs the bad. I'm willing to risk it.

I guess, all of this is to share with those who may be new to the adoption journey, that you will receive many different reactions to your news. Please don't judge people by their reactions. Sometimes it will shock you. Sometimes hurt and sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Whenever you decide to share your wonderful news with family and friends, prepare your heart for a variety of reactions. It's going to be ok. Will it hurt? Sometimes. Will it bring joy? Often. I've been told by many wonderful friends who have already completed their adoptions that the minute people lay eyes on your beautiful daughter they're all there for you! I am so very, very thankful that this has already happened in my life.

Adoption is an emotional roller coaster (or 'Stroller Coaster') and the bumps and turns begin Day 1. Hang on and let's enjoy the ride together!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Heart in Beijing

Now this is going to sound silly but I've decided to write it anyway.

Since my file has gone to China I feel like a little bit of my heart is there too. Literally! It feels like there is a little gap that I didn't feel while working on my paperchase. At that time everything was in the future. Suddenly, everything is in the present and it feels so different...and so right! As last night's post mentioned, my beautiful baby girl may already have been born. I guess because of this I suddenly feel so different.

I've heard friends who said that they knew almost instantly when they were pregnant...they just felt pregnant and suddenly their world was totally new, totally different and totally right. I think that's what I may be feeling.

I guess for the first time in my life (any possibly the only time in my life so I'm going to enjoy it) I feel pregnant!!

I have a baby girl coming, and I don't have to worry about stretch marks and swollen ankles! What I do share in common with pregnant friends is sleepless nights. I wake in the night with a love in my heart so deep it almost hurts and my arms aching to hold her already.

Dear Lord, Please bring a special someone into Hannah's life who will love and care for her unconditionally until the day you bring us together. May she know love, comfort and security while she waits for Mommy in China. Amen
I read a post today from a Dad who is currently in China and met his daughter just a few short days ago. His post and those of many others I've read talk of how well the babies are cared for in the orphanages. What a wonderful blessing that is to those of us who have no control over the timelines. I know that an orphanage is far from the ideal place for a baby, but I also feel that the orphanages and nannies in China are some of the best in the world and for that I am very, very thankful!
Time to wrap this up. I think I'm craving chocolate! (As if that's anything new! ;o)

First Flower of Spring!

What a treat it was to come home from work yesterday and see this brave little crocus popping it's head out of the grass! It's still pretty cold here and you can see the grass is a long way off from turning green, but this bit of sunshine was a wonderful reminder of beautiful things to come!

Welcome Spring!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Is She Born Yet?

So often lately, I find myself pondering this question. Numerous times a day if I was to be honest. I am probably within a couple of weeks of having my file logged with the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) and I've noticed that often the baby's birthdate seems to fall around LID's. It's so exciting yet somewhat sad at the same time.

Anyone who knows me knows that I've 'planned' on being a Mom my entire life. I had the awesome priveledge of being in the delivery room when my precious niece entered the world. If any TV show included a baby being born, I watched it. Hey, I even went to pre-natal classes and an ultrasound with a co-worker who's husband was out of town!

Now that it's getting closer to my own child being born I'm filled with a swirl of emotions.

Before myself, I place the precious woman who will have felt Hannah moving within her for the past 9 months. She will have to endure a delivery that will probably be 'natural.' (Trust me...not something I'd ever planned on doing! Can you say Epidural?) She will hear her first cries, feel her first breaths and touch her soft cheeks. She will have breasts that are full to feed a child that may already have been removed from her loving arms. How does one endure this and wake up the next day? How does she put one foot in front of the other and eventually go back to a sense of 'normalcy?' When does the heartache she will feel begin to ease, even a little?

I feel so helpless and sometimes even somewhat guilty. I know that this is the plan that God has for Hannah and I but, knowing how much I long to be a Mom, my heart aches for this precious woman who will always be my daughter's Birthmother. She will be a woman we speak fondly of and Hannah will always know how thankful I am for the most precious gift that this beautiful woman gave to me.

There is something else that crosses my mind. It saddens me that she will never know that her daughter will be growing up with a loving family, outside the orphanage walls. With so many children growing up in orphanages (somthing like 15,000,000 orphans in China at any given time) I would guess tha most children left must remain as orphans. It would be so wonderful for her to know that her little girl is ok and that she will be raised by a loving Mom and family in Canada. Part of China's process upon finding a child, is to place a 'Finding Ad' in the newspaper. Row upon row of beautiful little faces are displayed in the newspaper, providing information about their finding date and location and allowing parents the opportunity to reclaim their child. What must it be like to see the face of your child in the newspaper and know that there is nothing you can do to change things?

Dear Lord, As the time for Hannah's birth is drawing nearer, I pray you will comfort her Birthmother. Please wrap your loving arms around her and comfort her as I wish I could. Somehow, please let her know that her daughter will be loved and that you have a special plan for Hannah's life. Amen

For myself, will I feel something different that day? Will I somehow know the day that my beautiful daughter is born? Each time I think of her I wonder, 'Are you born yet my precious baby girl?' With referral times still lengthening it now appears it may be late spring or early summer of next year before we are brought together. Until that time Hannah, you're in Mommy's heart, prayers, thoughts and dreams! I love you baby girl!

Until Forever

This morning in China a mother cries,
She'll never forget her daughter's eyes.
Her heart is broken and filled with pain,
The tears run down like the falling rain.
She has no choice but to leave her there,
The cost of keeping is too much to bear.
She hopes her daughter will one day know,
True love can be found in letting her go.

This morning in China a baby cries,
Hungry and scared as tears fill her eyes.
Her mother has left her in this public place,
Another lost daughter of the Chinese race.
Someone passing by has heard her soft moan,
She's soon quickly taken to a foster home.
It's here she'll reside in the care of another,
Until she's adopted by a brand new mother.

That very same moment, in Canada,
A woman cries as she starts to pray.
Her heart is heavy but filled with much love,
She prays for a daughter she thinks the world of.
"Dear Jesus I ask that your arms would be,
Wrapped tightly around the one chosen for me.
Guard her in China `till I make my way,
And then in my arms forever she'll stay."
By: Tom Fisher

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Now It's Just Funny!!! guessed it. Today's stats are in and I'm officially 1/43! There's nothing to do but laugh about it! I've been cured of any temptation to gamble that's for sure.

Although that actually happened a few years ago (I'll make this quick) when I went with the girls from work to a local casino for b'fast. We were in the middle of a very long strike and so the gang decided a cheap b'fast at the casino was in order, something we did about twice a year. We headed out and had a fun time at breakfast then hit the slots. I was playing with the same $20 that I had for the past year-and-a-half. After each visit the small winnings I had (the $20 got smaller every time) was cashed in, placed in a ziploc bag and stayed in the glove compartment of my car. Well this day when I grabbed the ziploc out of the car I noticed it still had tokens in it. Figuring I'd forgotten to cash in my measly winnings last time I didn't think anything of it. We had b'fast and then I wandered around for a bit deciding which machine I would donate my money to. Once I'd decided I fed it 1 token. Nothing. It didn't register at all. What? Being as uneducated as I was when it came to slots I figured I must have to feed it more tokens so in they went. Still nothing. Now I'm stumped! Wondering what the problem could be I took a closer look at the tokens. Oh no! I was feeding the casino machine 'Chuckie Cheese' tokens! Duh!!! Knowing there are a gazillion cameras in casinos I knew I needed to fess up. I went to the cage and explained what had happened. (Somehow they didn't share the humour/embarassment I was seeing in the situaion.) Long story short, after about 5 people came and fixed the machine, my tokens were returned to me and my gambling days were over! I'll stick with Chuckie Cheese from now on!

So, now we go back to the ongoing saga of Tim's. I just laugh as each cup I roll up I see the infamous words, 'Please Play Again.' Now, I know there are winning cups out there. My 'friend'(?) gave this to me to show what a winning cup looks like. This was yesterday. Has it worked? Ummmm...NO!

Another friend at work, Pat was happy to show me some of the winning tabs that she hasn't cashed in. She and her husband have collected at least 8 last count.

Another funny story is my coworker Janice. She doesn't care for coffee or tea. She's not a fan of Tim's hot chocolate so she doesn't buy Tim's. None. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. Well, on the weekend she's cleaning away the winter garbage from her farm home and comes upon an unrolled Tim's cup that someone had tossed on her property. What does she do? She unrolls it and promptly wins a coffee! Can you believe it? She's 1/0! Too funny! (She did take pity on my poor losing streak and donated it to me. A good friend she is!)

Now, speaking of friends, my best friend at work, who wishes to remain anonymous (to protect the guilty!) had quite the roll-up day today! She too has been following my whining about not winning. Does she feel bad? No! Does it bother her even a little that in the morning's when she purchases a winning coffee for herself she purchases one for me with the infamous phrase, 'Please Play Again' on it? No!

Case in Point: This morning I picked up my coffee at her desk, we had a little chat and I went back to work. About 10 mins later she emails me...'Have a good day...and oh yah...I just won a coffee!' Being the immature person I am I email her back the following: 'Not sure how to spell this so......' and hit the 'send' button. About 10 seconds later (knowing she would have read my response) I called her and gave her a raspberry over the phone! We were both laughing at her record of about 6/25!

It get's better....Fast forward to 10:30am and we're out for break. We pick up our tea and head back to the office. Once again I get an email....'How's your day going? Oh yah...I just won another coffee!' Again? How can that be???

Not being one to give up easily, I head back to Tim's with her at 2:30 to grab another tea. For some unknown reason I ordered a large instead of a medium. I normally get a med. but for some reason said large. Oh well, maybe this was going to be a winner! N was behind me and ordered a med.....You guessed it! 20 mins later she emails me, 'How are you doing? Oh yah....I just won a donut!!!!' Can you believe it? She was 3/3 today! We laughed and laughed as my mistake gave her another winner. Too funny!!!

Wanting to be a good sport about the whole thing I've decided to post a picture of my dear friend who had amazing luck today! Unfotunately, due to all the gloating that took place, this was all that I got when I tried to take her picture! :o)

What will happen when Rrroll Up the Rim to Win is over? I'll be rich! I'm making myself poor just trying to win that second cup of coffee!

I think I'd better stick with Chuckie Cheese!

The Tim's Saga Continues....

So very, very sad! I'm 1/40...enough said!!!


Great news! My brother spent hours and hours working on my computer this past weekend and I'm happy to tell you that he recovered all of my emails! I also have the names from my address book but the actual email addresses could not be recovered. In the scope of things that's a small thing. I'm going through my old messages and am able to find many of your addresses that way. (Who knew my lack of cleaning out my In Box would come in handy some day?)

For those who resent your addresses to me thank you! Please keep them coming just incase I don't have yours. I'm learning it's better safe than sorry.

Also, my dear friend Joy went above and beyond. It warmed my heart yesterday when I got my computer back to find she had sent me all the important adoption emails we had shared over the past 14 months! Wow! What a wonderful gift that was! Thank you Joy! Love ya!

Tonight I'll keep plugging at refilling those from my undeleted emails that I can. I'm up to the D's so far so have my work cut out for me but that suits me just fine. Oh, and I'm also creating a master email list in Word that I will store on a CD and also send to myself at work. Lesson learned...check!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Email Struggles

I need your help. I had some trouble with my email system yesterday and basically have lost my entire address book. If you and I have emailed one another, can you please click on the 'Email Me' link in the right column of this page and drop me a quick note. Even saying 'hi' will allow me to collect your address and start the process of building up my book again.

I'm feeling ill as I've lost about a year and a half of saved email which in a nutshell is all my adoption stuff. My brother is doing his best to help me resotre what has been lost but it's not looking good at this point.

Your help with this project is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Lesson learned: Back up my email system onto CD's in the future. Not sure how this is done but you know I'll be finding out!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Current Tim's Stats...You Don't Want to Know!

Ok, ok. I know next to the excitement of my DTC post (YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) yesterday, the upper most question in your minds about me (besides how many trips have I made to Michaels [4] and Wal-Mart[2] this week) are the roll-ups going?

Basically...they're NOT! Taking a deep breath I'm here to tell you I'm currently 1/32! One lousy coffee out of 32????? And, that's not even counting the 4 dud cups I've picked up for a co-worker who broke his leg this weekend so can't carry a cup of Tim's while on crutches. I'd have rigged up something my now...couldn't go that long without my Tim's! For those who are concerned, I did share my losing record with him before offering to pick up coffee for him so that he might try and find someone else to get his but he was willing to risk it. Wonder if he's sorry about that decision yet?

Should I roll up a winner sometime before this crazy contest ends you'll be sure to hear me whooping it up! I won't make nearly as much noise as I did yesterday finding out about DTC but believe me...I'll be sharing it here!

Oh yah...last week I mentioned counting the number of people I saw walking around carrying Tim's. Tuesday;s count was 45 people walking around various places carrying a cup of Tim Horton's!

Tomorrow's stat will be the number of cars that go through the drive-thru at 6am in a 5 min. period since I'm skipping going to the gym in exchange for a cuppa losing coffee and a visit with a good friend who's been in Mexico for the past week. I told her I couldn't wait to see her but if she could leave her tan at home I would appreciate it. It's March and I look like I just crawled out from under a snowbank I'm so pale!

Until tomorrow...When Irish Eyes Will Be Smilin!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

DTC....I'm DTC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dossier to China (DTC)!!!

I'm thrilled to tell you my Dossier left Canadian soil on Friday, March 10th (Happy Birthday Dad!) and arrived safely in China on Monday, March 13th!!! (Happy Birthday Sharon!)

(The funny thing is when my Ministry approval came through both mentioned how exciting it would be if my file was sent around their Birthday's. How wonderful that I have special people to remind me of these very important dates!)

Hmmm...I'll have to go through my family and friends to see if there are any late March Birthdays. My brothers are April 2nd and April 17th. No offense guys but I'd love to have a March Log In Date (LID).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Adoption Seminar - Part I

Saturday. Where do I begin? I had the very best time, met the most wonderful people and learned more than I can ever begin to share here. My recommendation for adopting parents is that if you are given the opportunity to attend a seminar, DO it! As you can tell by my previous post, I was a little hesitant before going. Would I learn only negatives? Would I leave discouraged? Did I really want to go?

I am SO glad I went!!! I left pumped – my car fairly flying down the DVP and 401. (Even more than normal that is!) I phoned a friend to share my excitement before even pulling out of the parking lot!

Guess I’ll begin at the beginning (how original) and share things with you as they pop into my head.

I wasn’t too sure how many people would be there. The website where I'd read about it didn’t list dates of the seminar so I wasn’t sure how many people would have heard about it. I was guessing 15-20 might be in attendance. I walked into a large room to find it filled with 85 other people who were also adopting internationally! Wow! There were 41 couples and 3 singles there and the countries they’re adopting from are: China, Russia, Kenya, Singapore, Ukraine, Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Thailand and Bulgaria! We took time to introduce ourselves and it was fun to be one of the people furthest along in my adoption journey. For the longest time it seemed like everyone was ahead of me having completed their homestudy, been DTC, had a LID or even a referral in hand! This time, many were still working on their homestudy’s or waiting for Ministry approval. I know how that feels!

Many people were adopting their first child, some already had adopted or bio children, some had teenagers and one brave couple already had 2 grandchildren and were beginning the adoption process of their 6th child! Another couple were also working on the adoption of a 16year old girl. Wow! And to think I fear the teenage years. They’re brave enough to jump into an adoption at that point!

There were 2 couples, a single girl and her sister at my morning table. 1 couple was adopting from Singapore which is a new country for Canadian adoptions. They are embarking on unknown territory. Another fun couple, Allan and Laurie, were also adopting from China. There was also a great single girl Julia who is still deciding which country to pursue her adoption journey with. She and her sister (who was there for moral support and was a hoot!) ended up being cousins of a friend I went to school with in grade school! Theresa and I haven’t seen each other in 25 years but I sent a note to her. It would be fun to hear what’s happening in her life.

I guess you’d much rather hear about what we discussed and what I learned, right? I'll get on with it.

The Process Involved in Adopting Internationally:
I was surprised to hear how different the process is depending on what country a person chooses to adopt from. China seems to be mid-way when it comes to length of time to adopt. Some countries take as little as 2-3 weeks from when a file is sent to that country and others 2+ years! The current time-frame for China seems to be about 1 year from Log In Date (LID) to having the baby in my arms. The afternoon table had a couple at it who are adopting from Russia. They leave in less than 2 weeks to visit their 2yo daughter for the first time! (Last June they were supposed to go get another little girl and just 2 days before they left to get her Russia closed it's borders to international addoption! Due to some unfortunate situations with prior adoptions each and every agency needed to be reaccredited. Shortly after this happened, they were told ‘their’ little girl had been adopted by someone else.) Their agency has since been accredited again and they leave on March 25th to meet their new daughter. They will spend a week with her, return to Canada for 2-3 months and then go back to Russia to bring her home. During their time in Russia they must go before a judge and defend their homestudy. The final say is the judge’s and even though they’ve met and become part of this little girl’s life, he can still put a stop to it. I don’t think my heart could stand it! It reminds me too much of domestic adoptions where people have babies in their homes and then a birthmother changes her mind and they have to give the baby up. I can’t begin to imagine the heartache that must cause! This is part of the reason I choose to adopt from China. It is a well established, reliable program and I know that in the end there is a baby for me. Besides that, I chose China because that is where my daughter is!!!

Positive Adoption Language:
We were encouraged to talk about the parents having an adoption plan for their child rather than that the child was ‘left’ or ‘abandoned.’ At first this sounded a little far fetched to me but when I think about it I do believe that my little girl will be given up for adoption because her parents want her to have a better life than they can give her. It’s not that they wouldn’t give her a great life; it’s that most likely they won’t be allowed by the government to keep her with them. They’re not leaving her planning on being an orphan for her life; they’re leaving her hoping that she will be adopted.

Suggestions When Meeting Your Child:
Wow! This is so important as it is the first day of our entire lives together! The most important thing to remember is: It’s all about Hannah. Her needs. What is best for her? What will make the transition easiest for her? This is something I need to constantly keep in mind and also encourage family and friends of the same.

How I will choose to do things may not follow the ‘norm’ that a birth child would. I ask that family and friends trust my decisions knowing I’m learning from the experience of many others who have traveled this road before me. My precious little girl will need extra care and attention and she and her needs are my priority.

It was suggested to us that on the day we meet the children we don’t wear heavy perfume, try to eat food from China prior to meeting the girls and if possible, have worn the clothes we get the children in, to a restaurant the evening before. A baby’s sense of smell is so acute and these little things will all help in easing her transition.

The next recommendation will be tough for me if not downright impossible! Try not to cry when I meet Hannah! What? Oh man, that’s going to be tough! But, again as I try to see things from her point of view I can see how it would be beneficial to her. Her precious little world will be turned upside down. History proves that often these little lambs are removed from their cribs while they’re sleeping, put on a bus for hours with nannies they may or may not be familiar with and then hours later placed tired and hungry into the arms of parents who look different, smell different and talk differently. That in and of itself is traumatic for these little ones. Add to that the complete stranger crying and trying to hold her close and it’s extra scary for a life that has been through more hurt and loss than any child should ever have to endure. She will have no idea that my tears are tears of joy, not sadness.

When I think of dear Hannah I can’t help but think of what losses her little life will have to endure before I ever meet her. She will be born and will recognize the voice of her birthmother who lovingly carried her in her womb for 9 precious months. I imagine this wonderful woman gently talking to her baby, possibly singing to her and caressing her tummy as my daughter is growing inside. (This may not be how you choose to think about your child’s birthmother but it’s how I choose to think of my daughter’s.) During this entire time, God is forming and creating each little finger, each little toe and each hair on her precious little head. I ache at missing this experience yet know without a doubt that this wonderful opportunity of international adoption is how God is guiding me to my new position as ‘Mom.’ This is not a responsibility that I take lightly and I am so thankful He is allowing this to happen. I may not have the opportunity of feeling her kick in my womb but she is constantly in my heart and rather than feeling her kicks, she's pulling on my heart strings. Hold on Hannah...Mommy's coming!

Another suggestion given to us about when Hannah is handed to me is to hold her on my hip a little away from myself and allow her to look at me from a short distance rather than immediately pulling her in close.

Now, having said all this, I’m sure when the day comes I’ll be a blubbering mess and instinctually I’ll pull her close and envelope the daughter I've waited a lifetime for, into my arms! (Just call me a slow learner! :o) I will take my cues from her. If she pushes away, I'll allow her the comfort of looking at me from the distance of my arms. If she snuggles in, look out! I'll be done for! As she takes me in, I'll be breathing in the scent of this most precious gift of my daughter! We will be learning about each other for the very first time.

*** I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that his is quickly (?) becoming a long post! I think we’re only about 2 hours into the seminar at this point so I’m going to close it off for now and post Part II later.

OK...Fess up!

It's time to come clean folks! I want to know who is walking around with the winning Roll Up tabs because it sure isn't me!! I'm a dismal 1/25 as of this morning! Can you believe it?

They say confession is good for the soul. Who's winning streak is better than 1/25? Somebody has to have some of the winning tabs out there and if it's you: Congrats....I think!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Sharon!

Happy Birthday Sharon!

I am so thankful for the frienship we share! Have a wonderful birthday!

Love ya lots!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Attending an Adoption Seminar Today

Today I'm off to an adoption seminar hosted by an Adoption Practitioner, Sofie Stergianis. She wrote the book, 'What is Adoption? Helping non-adopted children understand Adoption.'

I'm really looking forward to today's seminar although I believe it will be emotionally challenging too. It's easy to think, 'Oooo...I'm adopting a baby!' Today I will learn many great things associated with international adoption yet I will also learn about many of the unique challenges my little girl and I may face. I want to be the very best Mom I can so am trying to learn as much as I can right now. I know the biggest teaching period will come when we meet and begin our lives together but for now, I'll go and soak up as much teaching as I can.

Today's topics are:

The process involved in adopting internationally -- pre and post placement

Preparing for adoption and travel -- emotional considerations, dealing with family and friends, positive adoption language, beginning a "Life Book"

Infertility -- does the pain ever totally go away? (This one I understand: no husband = no baby! :o)

Meeting your child, the flight back, and suggestions of what not to do when you return

Adjustment considerations: food, bath, language, sleeping, etc.

Medical issues & child development -- is my child "normal"?

Attachment & Bonding -- adjustment of older children

Preparing for being "different" -- issues related to mixed racial adoptions

Growing up adopted -- talking about adoption with your child

I'll post later and share my day with you.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Office Antics

My friend Julie sometimes posts about the antics at her office so I thought I'd let you know about the fun we have at our office too. We spend so much time there, we might as well have fun!

Last week, a coworker was out of the office for the week. That meant 5 whole days without her which was far too long! She’s a lot of fun and we missed her so much. It just wasn’t the same without her!

Ok, ok. That’s just a cover-up for us wanting to get into some mischief. (Me? Get into mischief? *Gasp!*)

P and M decided to set H’s office up as a crime scene, investigating the disappearance of H and thus, the loss of her fun and all the crazy antics she brings to the office. The crime scene was complete with yellow tape;

a ‘Missing Person’ poster;

and an outline of where she was last seen prior to her disappearance!

We had such fun and each person added their own little bit to the action!

My favourite part was when they dug up an old picture of us when we were dressed up at biker chicks for Halloween one year. We were labeled as ‘Current Suspects.’

It was fun when she returned to us safe and sound Monday morning. As you can tell from this picture, she was just a little camera shy. She says her former employees were fun but we’re just plain crazy here! Oh yah…that’s the way we like it!

Welcome back H! I’m thinking it will be a long time before you go on course again! Who knows what trouble we could get into next time?

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

It's almost 2am and I just got back from picking my parents up at the airport. Sadly the van/car swap I'd dreamed of didn't go quite as planned! ;o) Needless to say, my Cavalier and I will become close buddies once again in a few short hours as we journey to my office together.

Part way through my parent's vacation I realized that by the time they exited customs it would be Dad's birthday! Wanting to start his big day off in a fun way I picked up a helium balloon tonight and took it with me to the airport. It was fun to see their expressions as I don't think either of them had realized it was just past midnight and Dad's birthday was here!

They said he'd been serenaded onboard the ship but we'll just say it was a rather interesting rendition of Happy B'day. Why is that song comes across with each person singing it in their own key most times? Can be quite painful!

Anyway, Mom and Dad had a wonderful cruise and a great vacation with my aunt and uncle! Other than US Airways losing their luggage and a couple of late flights the entire vacation was a huge success! (Can you believe this? The airline lost all the luggage of 1 couple on the cruise and even after a 12 day cruise the luggage had not caught up with them! How awful!!!)

I'm looking forward to hearing more about their trip and seeing a more normal hour! For now it's off to bed for me.

PS - Are you getting a gander at the luggage? We are in sooo much trouble next year when we travel to China as I learned my packing skills from my parents. Guess I'd better take some lessons from those that have been-there-done-that and also pass the tips on to my parents!

Do You Think They'll Notice?

For the past 2 weeks I've been driving my parent's mini-van while they've been on vacation. (I live about 20 mins. closer to the airport than they do and since their flights required going to the airport at 3am and midnight figured I would save a lot of unnecessary early morning driving if I just kept the van.) The problem is - I don't want to give it back!

The 3 things I like most about driving their van are:

1. The sense of security I feel being higher off the ground and in a bigger vehicle, especially when driving through Toronto in the snow or rain. Some of those truck drivers are crazy people!

2. Automatic locks. Oh what a treat when I have manual locks.

3. Automatic sliding doors. As a scrapbooker this was a big treat! As I was dragging my stuff back and forth to friend's homes and the church for crops it was so nice to punch a couple of buttons and have the doors open. Ahhh..yup I like it! It was great for doing the same with groceries too.

With a baby coming next year life would just be that little bit easier with these luxury items.

This is what I'll trade them for: My 1997 Cavalier which is a great car and really hasn't given me an ounce of trouble. The mileage is 75,000km less. Do you think they'll go for it? I's for their granddaughter after all!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Rrroll Up The Rim To Win?

Hmmm. I'm not sure I believe that any more. I'm a true Timmy's fan and a normal work day includes anywhere between 1 and 3 trips across the street. But, 'Roll Up the Rim to Win?' It's that last word that gives me a little problem.

You see, I'm currently 1/19! (Yes I'm counting....quit laughing! I can heeaaar you!) This means the phrase I see in front of my eyes more often than I like is, 'Please Play Again.' Hey, I can even recognize it in French if I happen to roll up the French side of the lid first. I wonder what 'Please Play Again' looks like in Chinese? Trust me, if they had roll ups in Beijing I'd be sure to be seeing that phrase there too!

The fine print on the cup, and you know when I was about 0/6 I started looking, reads, 'Odds of winning a prize 1 in 9.' OK, that means I was all set at 9AM this morning when I tossed back cup number 18 to see what I'd won! What? Nothing??? OK - They must not have realized that it was cup #18 that I'd purchased! So, like a true Timmy's fan I headed back later in the day (needing it badly to stay awake after a yummy lunch at the Manadarin) and bought #19. Humph! Nothing but 'Please Play Again!'

It's not like I'm after the big prizes although a plasma TV or $1,000 would be nice. (Not sold out on the car as it's only a year's lease.) I'd be happy with a coffee or cookie. Yah, yah...I could probably force down a donut if I had to! ;o)

So, in doing my 'Canadian Duty' I will be heading back to Tim's bright and early tomorrow morning to see if the next cup is a winner! I'll keep you posted because I'm sure that next to Referrals this is about the most exciting thing you have to read right?

Now, in writing this, I've kinda wondered what it's like for my US friends. I understand most of you do not have a Tim's on every corner. And I mean EVERY corner! (Eg. My city has a population of approx. 150,000 people and I can think of 15 Tim's in our city limits!) I've heard Starbucks is all the rage for you. Are you as crazy as we are and put one at every stoplight? Also, being that I love to play with numbers, I'm going to count the number of people I see with a Tim's tomorrow. (That are not within 100' of the door of a Tim's.) I think even I'll be surprised at how many there are!

Rrroll Up The Rim To Win? Here's hoping it happens soon! I need a donut or cookie to go with that one lone coffee winner waiting in my desk drawer!

Oh man! Sure hope I don't forget to cash that puppy in before it expires!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Morning Quiet Time

'For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.'

Psalm 139: 13-16 (NIV)

Wow! What a wonderful way to start my day!

This year our pastor has been challenging us to, ‘Hang Out With God’ and it’s been a HUGE, wonderful improvement in my life. Each morning I settle in for quiet time with God. Spending time reading the Bible, reflecting on what I’ve read, reading some devotional material and in prayer. This week I began reading the book, The Purpose Driven Life.’ (A great book. Recommended for all to read!)

Today talked about God’s plan for each of our lives. Each of us is alive because God wanted to create us. I can’t help but think of Hannah and wonder about all that God has planned for her little life. God has a plan for her and for each of us too. He knew from the beginning that He would form her in her birthmother's womb in China and then later allow me to adopt her and bring her to Canada. God knew this before there were even countries of China and Canada!

A quote from TPDL: 'God prescribed every detail of your body. He deliberately chose your race, the color of your skin, your hair, and every other feature. He custom-made your body just the way he wanted it. He also determined the natural talents you would possess and the uniqueness of your personality.’

‘You [God] know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.’ Psalm 139)

God has a plan for my life. God has a plan for your life. And, God has a plan for Hannah’s life.

Can you understand why my quiet time this morning charged my batteries?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cute Decorative Pictures

I found these while browsing through an AVON catalogue the other day and thought they would be a great addition to the house. They're 6x6 square so will fit nicely...somewhere. I've yet to figure out where to put them so for now they're sitting on top of the bookshelf waiting for their new home.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Shopping Oddities

After the hair dye story last week, it got me to thinking about my shopping habits and the weird habits I have. (If I am being honest, it’s not that I’m trying to change these habits, just find friends who share these oddities.) Are you one of them?

Scenario #1
(Stated while raising my right hand) I am addicted to shopping at Wal-Mart. Not sure why although I do know exactly when it happened. Approx. 4 years ago the unthinkable happened: They opened a Wal-Mart 3km from my home and the uncontrollable shopping began. Since that fateful day, I have been brainwashed! Why is it that now when I need something…anything….I think, ‘I have to go to Wal-Mart.’ (Picture: stiff legged walk, arms straight out in front and glassy eyes staring into nowhere, muttering to myself, 'I must go to Wal-Mart, I must go to Wal-Mart.) Is it the closest store to me? No! Can I get the product cheaper at Wal-Mart then elsewhere? Sometimes yes but sometimes no. For some reason, it’s just my first store of ‘thought.’

- I need an AA battery – Better go to WM.
- I’m out of hair dye – Time to hit WM.
- I’m in the mood for a chocolate bar – Yup…a trip to WM!

You’re quickly seeing my dilemma!

Scenario #2
(Stated once again while raising my right hand) I am addicted to shopping at Wal-Mart. Upon entering the store, all reasonable shopping habits are put aside. Why is it that when I intend to purchase aforementioned battery – it can cost me $90.00? Come on…you know what I mean!

My list has 1 item on it: A $3.50 battery.

My receipt upon checking out contains the following:
- battery ($3.49…Woohoo – a Rollback! :o)
- 2 boxes hair dye (you know….so that I don’t run out!)
- box of microwave Popcorn. (‘Lite’ on a good day but most likely ‘Extra Butter Flavour!’)
- package of 20 hangers – I didn’t know when I entered the store that I needed hangers but upon seeing them I suddenly realized I had to have more.
- earrings – they’re so cute!
- 2 tubes of toothpaste (for some odd reason I buy toiletries and cleaning products in multiples. What’s with that?)
- 2 bottles of dish soap (see multiples comment above)
- the latest scrapbooking magazine
- chocolate bar…or 2…but rarely 3! (once again - I blame it on the multiples thing! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

    OK…you’re quickly getting the idea. I’d like to say I’m kidding but unfortunately it’s the truth!

    Scenario #3
    (I take a lot of teasing for this one but I’ll confess it anyway) When I shop at WM I always park in ‘Trampoline Ally.’ You know what I mean: The aisle opposite the big trampoline that is attached to the side of the building. On the rare occasion when I’m visiting a neighbouring WM that does not have a ‘Trampoline Ally’ I have been known to break into a slight sweat at the thought of misplacing my vehicle. Not a big thing but when I exit the store carrying my $90 worth of ‘needed stuff’ I’d prefer to find my car sooner than later.

    Now, on to other shopping oddities that are not related to Wal-Mart. Yes…the confession continues.

    Scenario #4
    I will travel out of my way to go to a grocery store where I get to check out my own groceries. I love doing that!

    Scenario #5
    After leaving the Superstore with my week’s supply of groceries, I have been known to stop at McDonald’s to pick up lunch/supper. It’s not like I don’t have any food, just maybe not in the mood to prepare it.

    Scenario #6
    I like to shop at Michael’s. I hate to pay the exorbitant amount for scrapbooking supplies that they normally charge. I’ve sweet talked my paperboy into giving me extra Michael’s coupons – one day even going outside to get my paper to find that he’d left 14 extra flyers! Woohoo!!

    Scenario #7
    In order to use the Michael’s coupons I have been known to purchase something, take it to the car, change my coat and then go in to purchase something else using a 2nd coupon. (Oh yah...tell me you haven't tried it!) Some of the girls checking out could care less how many coupons someone uses on a day. Others I think get some secret ‘high’ out of denying me the use of a 2nd coupon in a day. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow and I’ll probably be in the area since Michael’s is conveniently(?) located right beside Wal-Mart! (See numbers 1-3 above) (Karen, I will be a total wreck if they ever bring 'Target' to Canada!)

    *Update: After writing this yesterday I stopped at Michael's on my way home. Are you suprised? Guess what! After scanning my coupon she gave it back to me! Woohoo! A good thing at the best of times but even better when it's the Birthday week of a friend who has recently started making cards!*

    Scenario #8
    I will drive 4km out of my way to purchase a loaf of bread at ‘No Frills’ when I have an ‘A&P’ at the corner, just to save $0.30. Driving that 4km will cost more in gas than $0.30 but it does give me a sense of, ‘There… I showed them what I think of their expensive prices!’

    Scenario #9
    After driving 4km out of my way to save $0.30 on a loaf of bread I will get up the next morning and because I’m too lazy to make my lunch, choose to buy lunch. What will I buy? Well a sandwich of course!

    I guess I’ll stop for now for fear that someone reading this will turn me into ‘Shopaholics Anonymous.’ Either that or beat me to my parking space in ‘Trampoline Ally!’

    Could It Happen This Week?

    Throughout the past 14 months of my adoption journey I've come to realize many things about myself. One thing I've learned is that when I'm waiting for something to happen that's not expected to happen yet, I do ok. But, when the something I'm waiting for could happen today then I'm more unsettled. Does that make any sense?

    Today, it's waiting for my file to go to China. I've known for the past 2 weeks that it was with a lawyer being notarized and that when the group's files are ready, they'll be sent to China. I've waited. Patiently I waited and was quite content. Until today.

    Today I know it's been 2 weeks and when my agency originally said the files would go the the lawyer they said it would probably take 2-4 weeks to be notarized and ready to go. Somehow, hitting the magic 2 week mark makes me jump every time the phone rings and check my email endlessly waiting for that magic call/email telling me when it will happen. When I, after 14 long months, will be DTC.

    Until then...I wait...and pray...and pray........and wait.

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Small World...Too Cool!

    I had a really neat thing happen at work yesterday!

    A coworker mentioned that there was a new guy working on our
    floor who had a daughter adopted from China and that he and his wife
    might be adopting a 2nd.

    Just before leaving work I looked for this gentleman. We introduced
    ourselves and he mentioned that they had received Ministry approval just last week! I told him my approval had been the week before that. We quickly found out that we are using the same agency and may end up being in the same travel group together! Too cool!!!

    I got goosebumps when it happened and even retelling it here gives them to me again! What a small world we live in! I see it as a 'God moment!' He's preparing the way, step by step.

    Update: March 7th
    Open Arms confirmed today that we are in the same travel group! Yeah!

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    Happy Birthday Boo!

    Today is my niece's 7th Birthday! Woohoo! Happy Birthday Boo! This is picture R (on the right) and her friend V who also celebrated a birthday this past week.

    Happy Birthday B and V!!!

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Hair Dye Dilemma

    In the past few months I’ve decided to slowly change the colour of my ‘naturally blonde’ hair. I’m attempting to go lighter which requires a lot of browsing through the aisles of the drug store, comparing boxes, holding them up to my hair in the mirror hoping nobody walks down the aisle (can’t believe I just admitted to that!) and ultimately, courage to mix up another batch of stinky stuff and set to dying each and every one of those blasted grays away!

    For the past 3 years I’ve always used the same colour. During my homestudy one of the questions asked was, ‘What colour hair would you say you have?’ With confidence I was able to tell him, ‘106A!’ What? That’s not what he wanted? Trying again I thought about the label of the box and stated with great confidence, ‘Bamboo!’ Uh oh…wrong again, although by this time we were both enjoying a chuckle during an intensive homestudy visit. It was nice to lighten things up a bit. I digress…

    Getting back to my current dilemma…. Since I’d been using the same colour for 3 years I had a supply of 3 emergency boxes stashed in the closet for those mornings when I’d wake up an realize my hair had grown 2” overnight and every bit of it was gray!

    Now what was I to do? 3 boxes of the ‘old’ colour when I am in the process of becoming a new, blonder woman? Guess I had no choice but to take the old boxes back to the store. Realizing I didn’t have the receipts I decide to put on my best smile and face the ‘returns desk.’ You know what I mean…Sometimes they like you, sometimes they just don’t want to face another return and you’re just seen as an inconvenience. Oh yah…you can relate! Thankfully I got a nice young (ohhh…that means I’m getting old!) girl who was very happy to take my hair colour and allow me to exchange it. Exchange it? What? Do you know the new colour is $3.00 cheaper up the road at Wal-Mart? Can I just get a gift card and shop another time? Nope. Hmmm…what to do? Deciding to be a savvy shopper I wander the aisles and look for sales. I end up with some odds and sods of stuff, a new pair of earrings and Hannah’s first bottle! That bottle was the first thing I chose and I clutched it to me like I’d won an Oscar! What a treasure…I’m (finally!) buying BOTTLES!!!

    Now, it’s time to go….I need to hit Wal-Mart for more hair dye just in case tonight is the night those nasty gray hairs decide to rear their ugly heads! I’ll be ready for them….box of dye in one hand and a blow dryer in the other!

    Hey gray hair…be afraid….be very afraid!

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Just Added...'Currently in China!'

    While I wait and prepare for my journey to meet Hannah, I'm enjoying following others who are currently there. I've added a new area to the right banner called, 'Currently in China!' I will keep this updated with links to families who are currently there meeting their children for the very first time!

    Hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as I do!
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