Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December update

This month the caregivers at GLA all shared words they would use to describe the kids. I've included the list for both kids. I think it really gives insight into their personalities.

Peterson is...SMART, genuine, trustworthy, sensitive, people-pleaser, easy-going, ambitious, encouraging, willing, follower, protector, affectionate.

Gaëlle is... joyful, responsible, affectionate, energetic, carefree, girly, efficient.

I know I sound like a broken record but I did not think we would be here in Nova Scotia for Christmas and Peterson & Gaëlle would be in Haiti. It just never even crossed my mind last Christmas. Robin and I constantly were planning Christmas 2009.

Peterson & Gaëlle would be in the church play. Wouldn't that be cute? And wouldn't you know it, the children's church play was probably one of the best ones I've ever seen.

I would have to make their stockings? The material would be different but the style would be the same.

Gaëlle especially seems to have a sweet tooth. I wonder what she'll think of all of our Christmas goodies.

How will they handle the cold? We'll have to invest in good quality snow suits.

And on and on....

But throughout this entire process, I've determined to not do anything, not buy anything until the kids have our last name. That hasn't happened yet and so I've done nothing. Bought nothing. And Christmas 2009 will come and go and we're still separated.

I'm oh so thankful that GLA will make this time special for them. They've shared pictures of some of the December happenings and it looks like the kids are having a blast.

And Robin and I are not discussing Christmas 2010. No plans at all. We'll just wait and see what happens.

The kids are home

When we said goodbye to Emily back in September we didn't think we would see her again until May. So I feel so blessed to have her home for Christmas. I know the day will arrive when my children celebrate the holidays without us. But I'm glad it isn't here yet.

Waiting for our little girl to arrive.

Her flight from Thailand went without a hitch, except her luggage arrived 18 hours after her. But it did arrive.

She has struggled a bit with jet lag but I think she's finally turned the corner and is getting a decent night of sleep. She's having fun catching up with friends and also trying to figure out her plans for next year.

I think she's most happy to be with Kaylin again. Even though there is a 3 year difference in age, I'm so pleased that my girls just delight in being together. So much fun to see.

Josh has also come home, but we haven't seen much of him. He immediately went into band practice mode. And now he has gone on a trip to visit friends. So he's gone and he's taken the car. But we'll see lots of him in January before he goes back to school. So I'm just happy to see him out and about.

Gingerbread house... 5 years later

About 7 years ago we bought a gingerbread house mold. It has been well used. We have made gingerbread house kits for friends and Kaylin has held decorating parties. After taking a break last year, she resurrected the tradition and hosted the party once again. I dug out the photos from 5 years ago to compare to this year. What a difference!!! Where has the time gone?

Here we are in our 15 and 16 year old wonderfulness.

A cute 11 year old smile.

A 10 year old full of enthusiasm.

Lots of artistic thoughtfulness... which hasn't changed... just matured. So beautiful to see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A yogic diet

Kaylin is loving her yoga and because of her gymnastics background, she is so flexible and strong, which means she can do all the advanced moves. So this week she has decided to add to her yoga experience and try the yogic diet. As she understands it, the idea is to eat fresh and unprocessed foods. She will also eat dairy products and seafood products, altho that will not be a pure yogic experience.

I initially thought this would be super easy for our family but it's actually not. I didn't think I used all that many processed foods, but I do. I use canned tomatoes in so many recipes. And we eat a lot of pasta. I could buy fresh tomatoes and stew them myself. But I won't. And I could make home made pasta. But I won't. I frequently make my own bread, as does Kaylin, so that won't be so hard, except I'll still use my enriched white flour.

Tonight's meal which Kaylin can't have. I think I'll set aside a little of everything except the canned tomatoes & beans and she can just add fresh tomatoes & maybe lentils to her taste.:

Curried Vegetable Stew - serves 4
1 large sweet potato chopped - 12 oz
1 medium onion chopped
1 medium zucchini chopped - 8 oz
small green pepper diced
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
15-19 oz garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
14.5 oz diced tomatoes
3/4 c. veggie broth
1/2 tsp. salt

Sautee veggies in oil until soft- 10 minutes. Add seasonings - 2 minutes. Add additional ingredients and simmer covered until tender, but not soggy - about 10 minutes.

I serve over brown rice.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

November update

Ah... another cute photo update.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Since Josh has been going to school in the US, I've gone to my parents every year for Thanksgiving for a family get together. It's been wonderful and this year was no exception. It was a quick trip but it was well worth it.

The kids wanted to go into NY for the Macy's Day Parade so we went in for the experience, knowing that we weren't going to get very close.

And no... we didn't get very close, but it was still a blast seeing those huge floats. Everybody was in good spirits, even the young kids who were in the crowds, and the weather was perfect. A nice doorman let us stand on some private steps so we had a decent view and we had a couple of hilarious New Yorkers next to us.

We went for the huge NY pretzels. Love those!!!

And call me silly, but ever since I heard the news that Tim Hortons (Canadian coffee power house) was in NYC, I just had to see it for myself. All of these fancy NY coffee places and simple, just coffee & doughnuts, Tim Hortons competing with them. Well, we found one and Robin ordered a medium double double. But lo and behold, a medium coffe in NYC would be a super large in Canada.

The men out for some Black Friday deals.

My mom always has something fun up her sleeve. Usually involving presents. This trip was no different. She had a bag full of necklaces for us to go through. Kaylin wore one of the necklaces to school today. Fun, fun, fun.

Just in case you think Emily went blond... no... she's still in Thailand. But another Canadian who is going to school in the US came to my parent's house for the week of Thanksgiving. Sarah and Kalin were pretty much the only ones who wanted to hit Canal Street and try to find some bargains in NYC. So they went in and braved the crowds on Saturday.

They managed to find some bargains including $20 worth of t-shirts for my mom to give away as gifts. Anybody who has been to Canal Street will recognize those black bags.

Thanks mom and dad for a great week. Who knows where we'll be next year for American Thanksgiving. But can I just say that I hope we'll have 2 more little kids with us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lives intersecting

My family, biological and adopted, are currently living in various places around the world. And so it always amazes me when one of us has an experience which connects to an experience of another.

Case in point....

My mom is an avid reader and she passes on her books to others. So when she finished reading The Road of Lost Innoncence by Somaly Mam, she promptly passed it on to me. Somaly Mam grew up in Cambodia being passed around from person to person. She was an outcast in her community and eventually sold as a child sex slave. Her story is not unusual in that part of the world. Her haunting book chronicles in horrific detail the life that so many young children live and the detachment the rest of society feels for these children. She writes about corruption and the kidnapping of her child in retaliation for the role she plays in rescuing these young children. Even though she has received international acclaim for her work, her organization still struggles to pay the bills. She won't turn away a single girl but she has had to shut down some of her facilities because of lack of funds.

My daughter is currently living in Thailand, a place most consider the center of the sex tourism trade. She is working with mentally and physically disabled children who are living in government run orphanages. As depressing as their future may be, it is certainly a much better alternative than being sold into sex slavery, which is quite common for children in their situation.

My son has a passion for playing music. He and his band recently played at a coffee house doing a fund raiser for Freedom 4/24. It is a ministry that tries to rescue women caught in the sex slave trade in Thailand. This organization buys the women for $24 which gives them 24 hours of freedom. In this time, they tell the girls about an alternative life style and what they can do to help them leave this life. They give them a place to hang out and just be girls for a night.

My youngest daughter had to do a media project for English. She chose childhood slavery and in particular, sex slavery. I wish I could show her final result. Her pictures and quotes are tragic and haunting.

I don't how this awareness of the sex industry around the world will affect our family long term. I do know that as a mother, I am eternally grateful that I don't have to make that choice between survival and selling my body or my daughters' bodies. I am thankful for the privilage of plenty. During this season of plenty and gluttony leading up to Christmas, I pray that we are able to enjoy our lives and yet still live responsibly.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Learning the basics

Last year when we moved to the Halifax area, I started volunteering with a literacy program for new immigrants to Canada. I had taught my own kids for 10 years and so even though I was nevous about working with adults who could barely speak English, I was excited and thought I would enjoy the experience.

It turns out, I do love it. And I've learned so much and it's fun to see the skills build each week. It's also very inspiring. These men and women come to Canada with skill sets that have served them well their entire lives and now they are completely useless. When was the last time you used scissors? We don't even think about it but most of these adult learners have never cut anything with scissors.

And when was the last time you wrote your child's name? Most of the new comers to Canada in this program don't have literacy in their first language and so don't have the basic skills to transfer over and learn English. I've been working one on one with a lady this fall and last week she was so proud of herself because she can now spell all of her children's names. When I look ahead and see how far she has to go to have a working literacy, it's dauanting. But if I just look at each week, I can see huge improvement and I see her determination and it's truly exciting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

October update

I know it's half way through November. Our e-mail provider has been having issues lately and apparently mail isn't always getting through. So, we just received our photos this weekend. Always fun to see what Melanie and the GLA staff come up with for their photo shoots. They're so cute.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We will remember

I've lived in small town Atlantic Canada for the past 22 years. Canadians are not generally known to be demonstrative in their patriotism, however, here in Atlantic Canada the poppies are on full display for weeks before Remembrance Day. And all of the small towns we've lived in have fully supported Remembrance Day Ceremonies. The crowds are large with young and old alike. Today I went with my husband to the Grand Parade in Halifax to show our support for the men and women who have served and who continue to serve Canada. The parade itself was not as large as I expected, however, there were men and women all throughout the crowd in uniform.

So on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, I'm proud to be living in Atlantic Canada where people still take time to remember.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

2 months and counting...

It's hard to believe that Emily has already been gone for 2 months. This picture shows the last time I hugged my little girl. It sounds like she loves Thailand and is having some amazing experiences. We can't get enough of her adventures and feel so blessed by the miracle of Skype and email. However, I know that she really appreciates getting mail. There's just something special about receiving a letter or card from someone back home. So if anybody would like to write to her, I'll put the address here and on the sidebar.

Christian Care Foundation for Children
with Disabilities in Thailand
PO Box 47, Pakkred
Nonthaburi 11120

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another birthday

I know... birthdays happen every year. But Gaëlle had her 4th birthday September 11. I know I sound like a broken record, but I can't believe she's had 3 birthdays at GLA. Hopefully this will be her last.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

September 2009 update

I know that Melanie has a lot on her plate. In addition to documenting life at GLA and putting together monthly updates and organizing the school sponsorship program for local kids, Melanie has been helping to coordinate all of the visits from families who need to sign before the judge. There has been an influx of us and I'm sure she has been extra busy.

But can I just say that she outdid herself this month with the updates. It's always a treat to receive the photos but the pictures this month are truly outstanding. I don't know how she and all the other staff at GLA manage the stress and the pressures but thanks again for all you do.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cuddling a baby

GLA has wonderful volunteer oportunities. Because it is so important for each child to receive love and physical contact, they have a cuddling program. Volunteers come for a minimum of 2 weeks and are assigned 8 babies. The volunteer spends one hour with each baby just loving, holding, playing, singing, and nurturing. With any free time, the volunteer can go back and spend more time with the babies.

We didn't get a chance to spend much time at the baby house but we did have some time one afternoon. Patricia from France was with us and she had some presents from some other parents in France to give out. I didn't take any pictures of that, but it was sooooo much fun to see. Melanie and the short term volunteers get the babies all dressed up and then they help them play with their new toys and turn the pages in their photo albums. And Melanie takes the pictures. It really is fun to watch the entire process.

Because Robin and I were there unexpectedly, we didn't know who we were allowed to cuddle. So Nurse Susan pointed us in the right direction. So we took our 2 babies and headed up to the balcony with all the toys, rocking chairs, and mats. It was a beautiful time... totally addictive! I highly recommend baby cuddling at GLA to anyone who wants to make a difference in a child's life.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Will they come home sooner?

After our trip to Haiti to sign in front of the Justice of the Peace, we have had several people ask if this will speed up the process for us?

Unfortunatley... NO.

This is a new unexpected requirement that I'm afraid will just slow down the process even further. Just to give an example of time. When we started our adoption the expected time for the following steps took about 2- 4 weeks.

Courts = The dossier is in the Haitian Courts having the actual adoption declared and legalized.

Attest or Attestation=
After court papers are finished, the Act of Adoption must be sent to the National Archives and they declare that the signature on the Act of Adoption is legal.

Legal or Legalization =
All court papers must be sent to the Ministry of Justice to be legalized. They declare that the signature on all of the paperwork actually is the signature of the Judge who signed it.

= Ministry of Foreign Affairs must legalize the signature of the person in the Ministry of Justice who signed your paperwork in the step above.

Just as a reminder, we entered Courts September 3. So, when things were "good" with adoptions, we could expect to be finished with the Court side of things by October 3. Things are unpredictable and that could still happen, but we aren't expecting it.

But who knows?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


It was such a delight to finally meet Gaëlle. We have heard all about her "diva" spirit and have heard stories how she just snaps her fingers and her big brother jumps; catering to her every whim. Well, we did see that side of her. But we also saw a beautiful little girl who desperately needs some love. All that we saw has to be tempered with the fact that she's only 4. She is just starting to put the pieces of her world together, just like all 4 year olds. Just starting to connect the dots.

One thing she knows, is that she loves treats. In this photo she is ignoring the toys around her and getting at her package of gum. She ate piece after piece and shared her gum with others.

Gaëlle rarely sat still for any length of time and yet in between bursts of activity, she would frequently hold out her arms to us and we would sweep her up into our arms. Of course, she also held her arms out to us when she wanted us to carry her somewhere. We always obliged! It was incredible to finally hold our little girl.

Kaylin made sure we packed some of our special fun foods. Food we don't have all of the time, but all the kids love that she wanted Peterson & Gaëlle to taste. One of those snacks is Lucky Charms. I can say without hesitation, that Gaëlle is a HUGE fan of Lucky Charms. It didn't take her long to pick out the charms first, but she always managed to finish the cereal and if her bowl got empty (we always ate it dry-no milk) she would just dump the rest of Peterson's into her bowl. Such a loveable sneak.

Gaëlle discovered hand sanitizer while we were there. I don't know if she has been exposed to it before. It seemed new to her and she loved it. On our last day, Robin gave her a tiny bottle of it and she spent all morning trying it out. She poured out a little and rubbed her hands together then she would smell her hands. Then it would be our turn. When the sanitizer ran out, I put some water in the bottle for her to play with. Which she did. It was so cute to watch her.

Here she is sharing her hand sanitizer with the nannies and the little kids on the playset. She showed them how to rub their hands together and then she would get them to smell their hands. They all obliged her but I wonder what was going through their minds.

We quickly realized that we'll have to do more child proofing of our house than we expected. Gaëlle loves to pull out things and scatter toys, just like any child. However, she often took the time to pick up and place things back in their container. It was really cute to see her "organize" stuff. She really didn't play with toys, but she would take toys out and then put them back in her own way. Here she is picking up cards that she didn't play with. It will be interesting to see if she's just one of those kids who is just more inclined to physical activities or if once she comes home, she will learn to play.

I know we can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


There was a bit of a cold going around, so please forgive some of the runny noses. I just couldn't resist posting some of those sweet expressions. The kids who needed it were all getting their dose of medicine.