Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Library cards

Oohhh... exciting topic tonight... library cards.

Robin has been taking the kids to one of the Halifax library branches that is in a neighborhood with a lot of recent immigrants to Canada. At this library, white faces are in the minority. Today Robin and the kids picked me up from work and we headed to this library. The kids were particularly excited to use the children's computers. Lo and behold, you can't sign on to the computer with an adult library card. You need a child's card. So we asked the librarian at the reference desk what to do and she told us we needed:

1- the child's ID - anything with the child's name and a #
2- the parent's ID

We didn't have anything for the children's ID so she told us we could have a temporary card and bring back the necessary documents later. So I headed to the check out desk where I faced a road block. Apparently they wouldn't give me a temporary card and there was a red flag when I said that I didn't carry any kind of ID for the kids and would have to come back.

The end result... no temporary card and the instructions to come back with proof that I was the legal guardian.

Robin was offended for us but I was more offended for the immigrant population. I really think this "proof" was only necessary because of the neighborhood, not because of our family situation.

So to see if I was correct, we went to the library in our local neighborhood. Same situation... no children's ID... guardians of these kids.

The end result...we came away with a temporary library card for both kids which we used immediately to access the children's computers, and instructions to come back with the ID cards for the kids for permanent cards. No questions asked.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday outing

The weather has been amazing this past week and we have just been spoiled. We all know it will cool off again and we'll probably get at least one more bout of snow, so it's been almost comical to see so many people outside enjoying the sun and warmth. Today Robin took the kids to Halifax to meet another family who brought their son home from Haiti over a year ago. These are just a few pictures of their fun afternoon.

It's great to see the bond growing between Robin and the kids. We don't know what kind of male role models they have had and we both felt it was important for Robin to be a strong presence in their lives and he certainly is proving to be their rock.

However, that same strong male presence has introduced them to just the last few sips of his coffee from Tim Horton's. Why do kids from Haiti love their coffee? Both Peter and Gaelle are thrilled with just a sip from Papa's coffee.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Language acquisition

It's been so much fun to see the kids learn English. We have been so fortunate because Peter already speaks and understands so much. He's been a huge help with Gaelle and it's helped to ease our transition. However, it is interesting to see the types of words and language structures that he struggles with that just don't seem to be getting any better. In the above video he is talking a bit stilted but hopefully this will give and idea of how they are coming along with their English.

He refers to everybody as "he". Sometimes I'll stop him and ask if that's a girl or boy. He'll tell me it's a girl and I'll ask him "He or she?" He answers, "She". I'm starting to think it's just a habit that he needs to break... not a language difficulty.

Peter has difficulty not only pronouncing suffixes but also reading them.

Most ESL learners have problems with singular and plural words and Peter's no exception.

And there's the dreaded digraph "th". Why do so many English words contain "th"?

Gaelle on the other hand is doing just as well, but in a completely different way. She understands most of what we say and if we ask her something in English, she will respond appropriately with her actions. She repeats us constantly and it sounds like she's mocking us. It's quite funny.

The thing that amazes me is her ability to correctly use simple sentences and phrases. In my ESL class we were taught this idea and I'm certainly seeing it in action. I jotted down a few sentences that she came out with this morning. All used in perfect context.

I'll get it.
Mommy, cut it please.
You like yellow?
Peterson did it.
I don't know.
Let's go.

Probably the most entertaining thing about Gaelle is her made up language. She frequently babbles complete nonsense and she's not trying to be funny. It's as though she wants to speak English but can't quite get the correct words out. But it doesn't stop her from trying.

Peter and Gaelle still speak to each other in Creole quite a bit. And Robin talks to Gaelle in French which has been a huge lifesaver. We're looking forward to the next little while to see how long it takes for Gaelle to catch up to Peter and maybe even surpass him beause she's learning from scratch in a completely natural environment. But maybe not. Peter had such an excellent beginning and constantly amazes me with his ability.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Peter's 9

It's a party. I know this is supposed to be about Peter's big day but first a Gaelle story. We had noise makers which Gaelle blew loud and long but then she started in with the "Be Quiet!!!" at the top of her lungs. Just out of nowhere. We don't think we've told her that phrase but clearly we have because she knew it. Made us chuckle.

Ok... on to the birthday boy. He had a great day. We kept it low key but still managed to make it special. Somehow he let us save his presents until just before supper. He was thrilled with everything.

We only invited a boy from our street who is in his class, Eric, and his older brother Travis. They walk the dog past our house most days and so we asked them. Robin took the boys swimming at the local pool where they had a blast. They played for 2 hours straight and Robin didn't even have to get in the pool. It's March break so the pool was crowded but it didn't stop the fun.

They came back here for pizza and cake. The menu was quite the source of conversation for the past week. Peter asked for fish and spaghetti. I was more than willing to accomodate him but Robin convinced him to go with his second choice... pizza. He wasn't sure what kind of cake to ask for so we went with chocolate. It was a hit altho neither of the kids wanted ice cream with their cake. Oh well... more for us.

The kids have been here for almost 2 months and we haven't introduced video games yet. So we got Peter a "Cars" video game. It's too funny to watch him play. The 3 boys had fun and Eric and Travis humored him by slowing down and crashing into walls because Peter just couldn't keep his car on the track. "Did I win?" "Um... no... not even close." But he sure looks like he's on track. And you can tell from Gaelle's face that she doesn't have a clue what's going on. But wait... it has buttons... unlimited button pushing. Too much fun.

I feel like I should be sentimental and wax philosophical about the importance of this day. His first birthday with us. But it's just not in me right now. Robin took care of most of the details for today and I'm so thankful for his attention. It all went great. So I'm just going to enjoy it for the nice day that it was and not delve deeper.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's all about Gaelle

Robin and Gaelle were hanging out one day last week and Robin somehome managed to fall asleep. When he woke up Gaelle had done her hair by herself. She managed to get the little rubber bands in at least 5 spots and she braided those as well as braiding loose hair. Robin didn't have the heart to take it out, so he just take pictures.

Another angle of the new hairdo.

Robin has been working on the basement and got brave one day. He put a paint shirt on Gaelle and let her go. She loved it and amused herself for a good chunk of time.

Another father daughter moment. Robin washed the car and allowed Gaelle to "help". She actually did great and somehow managed to listen to Robin and obey his instructions.

Gaelle really does have a strong work ethic. She loves to help and thinks it's fun to pitch in with the dirty jobs.

Gaelle has some very strong food preferences. We still aren't having much luck with veggies with her and so last week when we had a completely vegetarian dish, we knew there would be some resistance... and there was. But I gave her just a taste of the veggies along with some rice. She mixed it all up and ate it. After a few bites she kept saying, "Mama... umpty." After several guesses, we came up with the correct translation... "Mama... yummy."

The kids have quite a bit of fun praying. And we have lots of fun listening to them. This week Gaelle was praying her long list and she said, "Thank you Jesus for Mama travay... Kaylin travay... Papa travay...MEH... Papa pa travay." And she proceeded to laugh. As did we. Because she just knows Robin as Mr. Mom. So her prayer of "Thank you Jesus for Mama work... Kaylin work... Papa work... NO... Papa doesn't work." She hasn't seen Robin go off to work, so her little mistake just cracked her up.

Supervision order

The kids arrived home in Canada January 27. On March 11 my dad turned 75 and we went to court to obtain a supervision order; a big day. The province of NS has taken custody (not physically, just legally) of the kids because they are considered to be "children at risk". When they arrived in Canada the adoption wasn't complete and to be honest, nobody really knew what was going to happen. Even though the kids were handed over to us in Ottawa, we have no legal standing with the kids in the eyes of the province. They have legal jurisdiction over adoption.

We knew that this was one option and as far as we're concerned, it's probably our best option at this point. It's been a bit frustrating that it's taken this long, but there have been extenuating circumstances with the provincial adoption coordinator. We have been granted supervisory custody of these kids only and if nothing new happens with the government of Haiti, we will complete a domestic adoption here in NS. Then we still have to apply for citizenship for the kids. We have another court date for November but we're really hoping we can move forward before then.

It's just crazy!!! We never thought we would be dealing with this. All of the fees involved in an international adoption and now legal fees to deal with the province. But the kids are here and they are safe. So, we'll do what we have to do and hope we see the end... soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Motohs and pickies

We've had some great weather the past couple of days. So the kids were out on the deck and asked if they could clean off the dead leaves and brush. Well, yesssss. In the process, they discovered the bikes and so out they came.

Gaelle calls her bike a "motoh". They both have a blast being outside and it's been great to see Peter just pick up and ride a bike. He has a little trouble getting started and he has a bit of a problem steering. Today he ran into Gaelle and knocked her over. I gave a bit of a gasp but she calles out, "It's ok. It's ok Peterson!" And up she got.

Peter said, "Joyce would be so happy to see me ride a bike." He will be zipping around before we know it. And not knocking down innocent bystanders.

Yesterday we took the kids to Dr. Lewis to get some shots. The kids call them pickies. Needless to say this was not a highlight for Gaelle. We told the kids what we were going to the Dr for and they just love Dr. Lewis, but not enough to trust her with the pickies. Well, Peter was a brick. He told us he was going to cry but he took his 2 shots like it was nothing. The second he was finished Gaelle started her act. We had to hold her and just get it done. 2 pickies down, 3 to go. But we have a month's grace.

After the pickies we took the kids to a restaurant. The kids did great with the wait and praised the food. So I think we ended the day on a high.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Still getting to know the ocean

Peter is so funny because he is just adamant that he won't be swimming in the ocean. But it's all around us and it's always fun to visit. The weather was beautiful today so Robin took the kids and the dog into Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. This time they found sand and of course they rediscovered the joy of throwing rocks in the ocean.

Starting school

We've said that we'll take things day by day with Peter and Gaelle. It's so hard to make a plan because we've never been in this situation before. We really don't know what's just around the corner. So for right now, we've decided to send Peter to the local elementary school.He started on Thursday and will continue going mornings for this week. Next week is March break and then he'll probably transition to full days.

Peter getting ready to head out the door on his first day.

His new teacher.

He really is excited altho I'm not sure this photo shows that.

We all know it's really just all about the playground and Peter is pretty happy with this one.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New routines

Obviously with 2 little kids added to our family, things were going to change in a big way. We can't just leave the house whenever we want. An adult has to always be there for the kids and this is probably the biggest thing people mentioned to us. (But quite honestly.... not the biggest change for us... that would be the lack of sleep!)

"Why would you want to adopt now? You're somewhat independent! Your kids are almost grown up! What a change this is going to be!"

And it is. Just take running. I can't seem to get out of the house for a run more than 2 times a week. I just feel badly walking through the door after work and then heading back out. I'm trying for just 2 times through the week and once on the weekend. So far I haven't hit that but hopefully I will manage and balance things and it will work.

But for now, when it happens, I tell the kids that they can run with me when I get back. So the second I walk through the door after my run, the kids put on their sneakers and a vest (It HAS to be a vest.) and we head up the street hand in hand. They don't make it far but they have big smiles and are full of enthusiasm. And for now, it's just the way things are. And that's ok.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Catching up

This past weekend the kids had the chance to skype with Molly and Joyce back in Haiti. They were both thrilled and just lit up when they heard the familiar and beloved voices. They also were able to see the kids left behind who are going to France and some of the nannies. Technology is just amazing and such a blessing. Every day since then Gaelle has come to the computer and asked for Molly and Joyce. Still not quite sure why they just don't appear when she commands them to. I took a few video clips of them talking and they just light up all over again to hear the voices.

Sticking with the computer. We had a quiet weekend not leaving the house except for church. But Robin was determined to watch the final hockey game between the US and Canada. He sold Peter on the idea of a "Hockey Party". Orange pop and chips and Peter was right there cuddled up with Robin in the chair.

But what to do with Gaelle? She hasn't met a button she doesn't like to push so Robin went out and bought a Disney Princess computer game. I (Beth) was assigned the task of monitoring the button pushing. Fun, fun, fun. It was a little tiring to try and help her work a computer game but she was thrilled even if she couldn't do anything. She designed her black princess complete with accessories and then Princess Gaelle was off on her journey...pushing every key on the computer without being told, "Pa touche!!!"

That completely occupied our time until the end of the game. When Canada scored the final goal, Robin's shouts and cheers completely threw the kids for a loop. They just stared at him. Finally Peter joined in the "Go Canada" chant and Gaelle continued to just look bewildered. It was too funny.

Robin also introduced the kids to a few of the puppets we have in the house. I really wish we had gotten their reactions on film. Gaelle was terrified and Peter's burning question was "How is the puppet talking?" Robin was not even hiding the fact that he was the one talking. We found a couple of puppet videos that we have and let the kids watch the puppet shows. Again... Peter just couldn't comprehend how the puppets were singing and moving. It was so cute.

And again what's a post without some mention of the crazy influence from Kaylin. We took this picture while she was teaching the kids how to pose. Peter likes to call the girls "crazy" and we love to call him "silly".