Tuesday, July 27, 2010

6 months - part 2

To mark their 6 months home, I decided to ask the kids some questions and write down exactly what they say. I didn't probe or make suggestions. I just asked the questions and I asked them separately so they didn't hear the other response first.

What's your favoritie food?
G: pancake
P: pizza

What activity do you like the best?
G: help you work
P: crafts

What's your favorite color?
G: yellow
P: blue

What's the best place you have visited?
G: in camp
P: restaurants

Who's the person you miss the most from Kay B?
G: my nannies, Jocelyne
P: Joyce & Molly

What's the best thing about Canada?
G: help you clean up
P: do everything I want to - No - not everything - rollarblade and play hockey

What's the best thing about our family?
G: you & Emily & Kaylin & daddy & Peter & me - oh Josh
P: staying together

What's the best thing about Haiti?
G: I like to read a book - Oh, I don't have books in Haiti. Sing songs. A,B,C,D - no I don't know ABC in Haiti.
P: watch movies every Friday night

What will you do in school this year?
G: Go to school myself. I need to listen to my teacher and be quiet.
P: Listen to teacher. Try to come on time every day. Do a good friend.

Monday, July 26, 2010

6 months - Part 1

Peter has asked us if we remember the day he came to Canada. Um, yeah... it's a day I'll never forget.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010.

15 days after the earthquake.

When I heard there had been an earthquake in Haiti I immediately went online and the information was already posted that the kids at GLA were all safe. That was such a relief and because I had been comforted, that first night I had no idea the earthquake would be so devastating. When it became clear that the country was in shambles and the aftershocks were a real and continued danger, we became consumed with safety for the kids.

Our adoption process had already been 3 1/2 years; and over 2 years since we received our referral. Because of so many twists and turns in our journey, I was not at all hopeful that Haiti would do anything for the sake of adoptive kids. And I knew there would be huge resistance from international organizations who are supposed to be child advocates but who would not want to allow kids to leave Haiti before the adoption process was complete.

But Robin was determined. And he put himself out there talking to an immigration lawyer, our MP, and numerous media outlets. And in the midst of incredible destruction and tragedy, a miracle happened for our kids. The government of Haiti officially allowed all children who were in the process of being adopted to leave the country. And finally, the government of Canada allowed all children in the process of being adopted to enter Canada without a passport and VISA.

And on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 a plane landed in Ottawa carrying our 2 children along with 50 other adoptive children and some Canadian families leaving Haiti.

When I look at photos now of the kids on that day, I just see fear and blank looks. I can't even imagine what they were thinking and feeling. I know the 6 adults from GLA who were on the plane with them did everything they could to make the trip fun and to help the kids feel safe. It sounds like the airline staff and CIC staff who were flying with them did a great job and completely catered to the kids. But still... what a journey.

Molly sent us photos of the trip from GLA to the Canadian embassy where the kids spent the night on the floor, to the airport. I'm saving the photos and some of the words that Dixie, Molly and Joyce wrote about that time for the kids when they are a bit older. But just last week Peter told us what he remembered of that trip and how Madame John helped them sing and put stuff on the windows so they wouldn't look out. When I look at the media images of the kids, especially Gaelle, they certainly look happy and excited. But when they stepped off the plane, they look cold and uncertain. The fun and games were over.

The kids were all processed and given temporary Canadian VISA's, looked at by medical personnel, and then we headed over to the main terminal of the airport to catch our flight back to Halifax. Everbody in the airport was so kind to us and again the kids were so brave. They just accepted everything we did to them.

Change my clothes? Ok. Eat the food? Ok. Step on moving stairs? Ok. Stand in line? Ok.

It's a bit hard to remember exactly what we were thinking and feeling on that day. I was super excited and completely focused on getting the kids to Halifax so we wouldn't have to spend another night in Ottawa. It was such a relief to see Kaylin and to know that we were finally starting the next part of this adoption journey. The Forever Family part. But there was also a sense of, "What have we gotten ourselves into? We're adding little kids to our family of teenagers. Are we up for this?"

Now it's been 6 months. We have learned so much and grown so much, but we probably have more questions than ever.

Fun in the sand

The Atlantic Ocean is really cold up in our neck of the woods. But Peter is the first one in the water and he stays for a long time. Our Haitian boy is made of strong stuff.

Gaelle was giving me some evil looks as she and Peter covered each other in sand. But they were both loving it. AllI could think was, "Not the hair! Keep the sand out of the hair!!!"

Peter specifically asked me to take a picture of his castle. I didn't get the elaborate road that he made all along the beach connecting his castle to, well I'm not quite sure what, but it was quite the road system.

Gaelle loves placing her towel next to her big sister and chatting her up. In this picture Robin got in on the girl talk too. Not quite sure what they were discussing, but I'm sure it was full of laughs.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The latest do

I will never get over how patient Gaelle is with her hair. Now mind you, she is a 4 year old girl and she does get fidgety, but still... she will sit for 2 hours while I do hair. Today I tried a veil style for the first time. It's easy and not very complicated but it looks kind of cool.

I've been keeping her hair fairly simple and just continually learning about her hair and how to keep it healthy and help it grow. Gaelle would love love love to have long hair. There are styles we can try to give the effect of long hair, which I will do some day, but not yet.

I've been practicing my cornrows on doll hair but I'm afraid it will take me too long so I'll keep practicing. Quite honestly, the longest part of all of this is just getting the parts and sections in. I seem to be visually challenged and my parts are usually crooked and a bit off. But I'm getting better.

Now on to some Gaelle goodness.

Today as I was rinsing out her hair I splashed her unintentionally and said, "Oh stink." Gaelle said, "Stink. Garbage stinks. Did you take the garbage out?" She didn't quite get the meaning behind my figure of speech.

The other day Robin was talking to me. Robin said, "We need to teach Peter how to say 'eh' like a Canadian." Gaelle, never one to be left out of a conversation said, "I know 'a'." And she started singing the alphabet song.

Tonight she was going to put on her ballet clothes and show me and Josh how she could dance. We were the only 3 people in the house. She handed me 2 little bells she was playing with and said, "Don't let anybody have these!" As she raced upstairs to get changed Josh, of course, had to ask for the bells. I mean, how tempting are they?

I really need to carry around paper so I can write some of the funny things down. She is constantly cracking us all up.

More Maritime goodness

Yesterday was another hot day... for the Maritimes... so we decided to take the kids to Peggys Cove. We packed up the kids and a picnic lunch and headed out. It was gorgeous.

We ate on top of a rock and there was a bit of a breeze. But it always just makes the food taste better.

Even the seagulls liked our chips.

Peter loved climbing all over the rocks but then again, who doesn't?

Ok... well maybe Gaelle didn't love climbing the rocks. She did a fair bit of bum scooting. But she caught onto to the rock jumping and climbing eventually.

We ended the day at Chocolate Lake which was super crowded but the water was nice. All in all a perfect summer day.

The dynamic duo

We haven't been in our yellow kayaks since we moved 2 years ago. So we borrowed the dock of friends and dusted off the cobwebs and hit the water.

They're sit upon kayaks so water can't get in them. We've always had a lot of fun playing around in them and this day was no different. Splashing, crashing, and just all around craziness. Peter tried to get the best of Josh, but the 21 year old was not going to let the 9 year old get away with anything.

There was also just plain swimming. The water was amazing.

Gaelle wasn't as brave in the lake as she has been in the pool. But a life jacket and her dad's shoulders worked out ok.

Josh and Gaelle discovered they had a similar style and really bonded out on the dock. It was them against the world. Scary. But also super cute. Anybody up on the dock had to get wet. If you didn't want to get wet, well... they would take care of that. Now Gaelle doesn't want to go back to the lake without Josh... her partner in crime.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

More Beulah photos

The Beulah wharf is crumbling in a major way. I guess this is one way to mark the passing of time. Compare all of our pictures next to the pillar.

The kids are loving the swing behind the cottage. It's just fun to swing.

We're also loving the horses that show up behind the cottage. Peter was going to feed them carrots, but he was a bit intimidated by the size of the horses.

The kids were introduced to frog catching at the pond by old pros. We went to feed the ducks but some boys that were with us promptly set out to catch frogs. They found a little one.

I brought s'more stuff and we wanted to roast marshmallows last night at Catons Island but it didn't work out so we brought everything back and made them in the oven. Oh so good and so messy. We still need to introduce the kids to roasted marshmallows. Maybe later on today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Family Vacation

Kaylin has been working on Catons Island for the summer and we have all really missed her. Gaelle especially has missed Kaylin. She prays all the time, "Thank you Jesus for .... (all the people in her life) and Kaylin. Kaylin not here."

So we are taking a few days to visit Kaylin. She has told everybody that she's going to see her big sister. We took a boat over which thrilled the kids and gracious Ian who let the kids touch the steering wheel. Thanks.

Gaelle told us she was on boats in Haiti all the time. Our social worker has told us not to worry about the truth and getting the truth out of the kids. So we just let Gaelle talk and we use the word, "Interesting" a lot. Anyway, they enjoyed the boat ride to the island.

We surprised Kaylin with our visit. The girls were both thrilled to see each other again. Kaylin is counselling this week so she won't have any free time until Friday night but it was just good for Gaelle to actually see Kaylin. She has been a constant in her life since January and we're all happy to see the connection all 3 sisters have with each other.

We're borrowing the Doans' cottage for our mini vacation which has been great. They have a covered porch which is perfect for late night games. We were given a gift certificate to an educational store and we bought this game called Qwirkle. We never would have paid so much for a game we knew nothing about but we highly recommend this game. It's about patterns so even Gaelle can play a modified version of it.

They don't play in their bedrooms

Peter has just started rollar blading. I just love his enthusiasm to try new things. Anyway, he is doing great. The other boys in the neighborhood often rollar blade when they're playing street hockey and Peter just runs. Maybe soon he'll be able to keep up. He's been spending hours outside practicing.

One of the first things the older kids noticed when they came home this summer is that the younger kids don't play in their rooms. The older kids spent countless hours in their room with Legos and creating imaginary toy towns, etc. But the younger ones will go up and get books, games, or toys from their room and promptly bring them to the living room. We all just live in the living room and kitchen. We have a LOT of togetherness. Hopefully it's just one more building block in cementing our family together.

By the way, thanks for the puzzle Aunt Floris. It was a huge hit. It was 500 pieces and Peter kept saying, "I've never done a puzzle so big before." We kept telling him about Aunt Dot and her love of puzzles.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer fun

This past week it really felt like summer. We had warm weather and the kids went to VBS at a local church. It was a good program and the kids did well. VBS was exciting and fun, yet still stressful for the kids, so we kept the afternoons quiet.

The above photos I snagged from Wanda's Facebook. Robin took the kids to a local lake and some families from our church were there. That was a nice treat.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Building Trust

Yesterday's behavior from Gaelle showed us once more that our children still have deep places of fear and insecurity and we have a long way to go to build trust with them. Her spinning behavior was an indicator of her insecurity. 2 people she loves left her briefly. They came back but it still took something out of her.

I remember the first time I read The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis. It was early in our adoption journey and I was reading everything I could on attachment and adoption. I remember thinking how different this was from parenting our biological children. There are some practical suggestions in this book that we find so helpful and yet foreign at the same time.

The goal of most parents is to lead their children to independence. However we are working towards attachment and trust. Our adopted kids are usually very independent and able to perform tasks well beyond their years. A powerful nurturing tip is to allow our children to regress in behavior and age. In other words... allow them to act like a baby... feed them... rock them like a baby... etc. Not always easy to do because we think it's harmful to treat them like a baby. However this helps build trust and allows them to experience things they didn't when they were infants and toddlers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our old stomping grounds

This past weekend the family split in 2. Robin took his mom and Peter to our church family camp. This is the place Robin and I met back when we were 13 years old. This is the place we both loved to go every summer for 10 days of fun and fellowship. Peter loved it. Robin's mom was thrilled and did well both physically and emotionally.

We knew it would be too much for Gaelle. Too many people. Too much activity. Just too much. But we had a great time home with Emily and Josh doing special things.

But I don't know how people do it. Gaelle was so excited to have daddy and Peter home and we shared all of our fun and how much we missed each other last night. Lots of hugs and togetherness before bed. Now this morning Gaelle is totally spinning. She's just OUT OF CONTROL. We want to do so many fun things this summer because Robin isn't working and we have such flexibility but 2 days away from Robin and Peter has totally thrown her.

So we will have a quiet day at home. Just being.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

1st Canada Day

The day started with our local parade. It was just the way we like it. Short with lots of candy for the kids. And plenty of flags to wave. The day was full of explanations for Peter and Gaelle... always trying to explain what everything is and means. Why do firetrucks turn on their sirens during a parade? Ummm... people think it's fun.

We then picked up Josh and Emily and headed into Halifax for some more Canada Day fun. Gaelle entertained the entire crowd with her enthusiastic dancing. Peter was also showing off his moves and just generally having a great time.

We also walked up to the Citadel for a look around. This has been a sacrifice of sorts for Josh to be here at home this summer but every time I see him with the kids I'm just so thankful. This may be their one chance to really know him as a big brother. Josh has one year left at college and then who knows where he'll be.

It's always fun with Emily around. Gaelle loves to play and Emily will indulge her... usually.

Of course there were more questions. Do we know their names? Why are we getting our picture with them?

And we have to get all the kids on the cannon. Reminds us of our days in St. Andrews when we had other little kids. Such fun.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Start of summer

Summer is always so short in Atlantic Canada so we really try to enjoy the wonderful days that we do have. Now with 2 younger kids who are still finding their way in our family and in their new world, we will still enjoy the beautiful weather but we will try to keep things low key.

We signed the kids up for the library summer reading program and we started with the kick off party. It was just right for little kids complete with simple games and even face painting.

Altho I've got to admit, this is probably the worst face painting I've ever seen. Good thing the kids don't care. And good thing they both wanted to wash their faces as soon as they got home. With no prompting from us.

Guess who Peter is supposed to be? If you guessed Ironman, you're smarter than me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bye to a dream

We've probably had more issues with Peter's hair and scalp then Gaelle's hair. Gaelle takes longer to style but Peter's scalp took a while to conquer. His scalp was so dry and we couldn't get it under control no matter what we put on it. And we had lots of suggestions... we tried it all. Finally Robin shaved his head bald and we started from scratch. Since March we've been doing fine with the scalp and Peter has decided he would like long hair. His dream hair style is a nice afro... longer than an inch.

He's been working at combing out his tight curls and his hair has grown a bit since March. But it was time for a trim... at least on top. Robin was willing to trim but we decided to go to a black barber and get it done right. Did I mention he has tight curls? Really tight!

He didn't want to go and get it cut. He wants it long. But we convinced him this was necessary and so we all headed out. The barber asked him what style he would like and he pointed out the perfectly smooth 4 inch afro. Not enough hair. So he went for a neat trim. The barber took off more than we expected but it looks sharp. He is an artist and was so meticulous. Totally worth the $11. Peter is pleased and for now has given up the dream of the 4 inch long hair.