Thursday, January 31, 2013

PG Day 2013

 January 27, 2013 was our 3rd year anniversary of Peter and Gaëlle coming to Canada and joining our family for good. It's so hard to believe all that has gone on in the past 3 years. Most celebrations revolve around food in this family so we asked the kids how they wanted to celebrate.

Peter wanted to eat ribs and Gaëlle wanted to eat pizza. Because the 27th landed on a Sunday we decided to go out to eat after church. So both kids could have their choice of food.

Peter had no problem demolishing the ribs. He wasn't as crazy about the veggies.

Gaëlle changed her mind once we were at the restaurant and chose a chicken rice dish. 

We actually shared a couple of desserts.

These happy moments in our lives also come with a bit of sadness. 3 years ago Peter and Gaëlle said goodbye to everything and everybody they had ever known. They said goodbye to their country of birth and their native language. I will never cease to be amazed by their courage and bravery. In the past 3 years they have tried more new things. They have embraced their new family and their new country. They have been enthusiastic participants in school and church. 

A lot of the experts say that 3 years is the magic period of time for kids to assimilate in their new families. I think we have felt like a solid family for at least a year now. Probably longer. The experts also say there are ebbs and flows to this adoption life. Peter and Gaëlle have not done a lot of questioning about their situation. But as they age, the questions and doubts will certainly hit them hard at times and we will probably feel the brunt of that. There are moments when my fears hit me hard. Sometimes I fear the future and the unknowns. 

But I will continue to turn to my word for 2013. GRATEFUL. I am so blessed and grateful to be the mother to 5 unique and amazing children. I am thankful to be sharing this journey with my amazing partner and husband. No matter what the future brings, I pray that I will focus on the blessings of my life. The blessings of this family. And I will never forget January 27, 2010.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Old Technology

This week the grade 2 classes did simple presentations on old technology. They had to bring in something from home and present it to the class. We had several old items Gaëlle could have brought but decided she would be happy to present something with buttons. 

So, a Sony Walkman it was. We bought this when we lived on Grand Manan island and we knew we would be traveling back and forth to the mainland. This was part of our entertainment bag that the kids could have when we were on long trips. It was a big deal at the time.

So, Josh helped her use it. She kept calling the tapes, CDs. She shared that this wasn't around when her mom was a little girl but it was common when her big brother and sisters were young. Now they don't even sell them anymore. Ah.... old technology. 

I took this from Kaylin's Facebook page. She got her nursing tag this week.

She got all dressed up just to see how it would all look. She starts her clinical this week and is very excited but also nervous. Please pray for her as she starts this new part of her journey. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good ol' board games

Several years ago my brother got us started on these amazing games. The first one he gave us was EuroRails. It's recommended for ages 10 and up.  From the Mayfair Games website:

Celebrate one of the world's most vital and enduring passions: railroads. Use your initial investment to build track. Then pick up commodities where they are grown, mined, or manufactured and deliver them to a lucrative place of demand. Complete a delivery and make the money you need to buy larger, faster trains, and expand your railroad empire. Win the game by building the most effective railroad empire!

It certainly was a hit with some of us. Others found it a bit too long to play. No matter, Tim then gifted us with Empire Builder and IndiaRails. Same idea but different countries and shorter time to play a game. These are really great strategy games that can be quite addictive.  This Christmas we started playing them again and Peter joined in the fun. He loves it and it's nice to play a game we can share.

A few years ago Tim gave us The Settlers of Catan. Another amazing game that we soon discovered was popular with lots of people. It doesn't take too long to play and is easy to learn. Also recommended for ages 10 and up. 

So far we haven't introduced Peter to the joys of Settlers. This weekend is the time. I think I'll haul this out today and get Peter going. I have also heard that there is an iPad app for this game. If Peter decides he likes this, which I'm sure he will, I think we'll invest in the app. 

What's so amazing about these board games is how it stretches Peter's world. His life in Haiti was quite small. Even kids his age in Canada and the USA don't have the knowledge of basic geography and history. When you find a quality game with the benefit of expanding our knowledge, it's just a win-win.  I guess that's the point of educational games. But I don't think Mayfair Games markets itself in this category. They just make quality games that are educational. 

Why did I include this photo? It was right next to another image on my computer this morning and it makes me smile. May 2010. Wow. So long ago. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quick visit

On Saturday Emily and I were able to stop in briefly to visit Kaylin. Sisters sharing a smile.

Kaylin had just picked up her stethoscope and so she tried it out on Emily. Good for a few laughs.

Kaylin had her books neatly piled in a stack. Ready to go for her next semester.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Our final weekend

Saturday was Thai night. Emily offered to cook the entire meal for us.

Robin picked up the ingredients that she didn't already have and she was off.

It was delicious.

Her 2 main dishes were Chicken Pad Thai and Massaman Curry. 

She also made sticky rice which Gaelle enjoyed rolling in a ball and dipping in her food.

We ended the evening with a family game my brother made. 

There seemed to be a lot of covering of the mouths as answers were written down. 

A few attempts to see the answers anyway that were being written down.

Emily won the game although we're fairly certain there was some cheating going on.

My mom gave Kaylin these capri pants shrunken into a tiny shape. She has been saving them for just the right time and decided to finally grow them. Gaelle was in heaven watching the pants expand.

But expand they did and after they were dried out, Kaylin couldn't believe she waited so long. She loves them.

Peter has been asking to be baptized for a while and this Sunday was the special day. The children's pastor along with the assistance of the senior pastor were the ones to lead him through this. It was a special moment and all of us were able to be there to witness the celebration. I have a video that I have to get ready to put up. I forgot to remind Kaylin to bring her good camera but at least we have a photo.

Final hurrah

This weekend was our last time together as a family for a while. I insisted we at least try to get some kind of family photo taken. We had to do it inside but it turned out ok. I have thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas holidays. We didn't do anything exciting, go on a far away vacation, or have some kind of big adventure. But it was just the kind of time I enjoy. Relaxing. At times loud. But together. I'm so grateful for the time we do have together. I'm so aware that it may not last much longer so I'll cherish it while it is here.

Silly kids.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Holiday isolation

A lot of children who have experienced trauma and have been adopted, which adds another layer of trauma, generally find holidays and other big days of celebration difficult. There are lots of reasons for the pain and the acting out, but I can really see one reason for pain during the holidays.

As a family we find ourselves reminiscing about past holidays and past experiences. Generally those experiences are pre-adoption. In our case, that's because we have 25 years together as a married couple and 23 years with one child, 21 years with 2 children, 18 years with 3 children, and only THREE years as a family of 7. So the memories are not generally shared between all 7 of us. It's good to remember and to share together as a family. That helps bind us together.

It's great fun to remember and to laugh together about the home made ornaments the kids have created through the years. We have consciously tried to help Peter and Gaelle be a part of that. They now have 3 Christmases of home made Christmas crafts to display. And we laugh and smile about their early attempts. They are so cute. 

I just have to say, hats off to the grade 2 teachers at Gaelle's school this year. The craft she brought home was amazing. We displayed it on the coffee table and I'm afraid we won't be chuckling about that  in the years to come.

My mom has a tradition that has included Peter and Gaelle for the past 3 years. She cross stitches ornaments for each child and then writes a note with a picture on the back. When Peter and Gaelle received theirs this year, we oohed and aahed and then told the kids to hand them on the tree. Gaelle went and proudly hung hers.

Do you know where Peter put his? In his room. He's the king of displaying his stuff. This was so important to him, that he wanted it on display in his room. He prominently hung it by his bed on his nightstand. At some point after Christmas he removed it and put it on the tree. It just goes to show how important these shared traditions are. 

We don't always know what is going on in the minds and hearts of our kids. We don't always know when they are feeling the pain of isolation. We see behaviour. But we don't always know why. This is one reminder to be more intentional at providing shared experiences and continuing to work at including all the kids in activities when it is possible. So that we can look back and laugh and joke about the different fun times and the different events that didn't quite go as planned.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The last of the fun and games

Sometime around the new year, generally on New Year's Eve, our family gathers up all the fixings for make your own sub sandwiches.

And make your own ice cream sundaes.

This is a tradition loved by young and old. 

The bowls are loaded with sweet goodness, but somehow, Peter had no problem finishing his.

Since Peter and Gaelle have joined our family, we have added the New Years Day tradition of making "Soup Joumou". I use the recipe found here. 

So far, I've used butternut squash instead of pumpkin. It just seems easier.

There are lots of hearty vegetables.

I guess I also deviate a bit from the recipe because mine isn't as runny as the recipe calls. I've had it that way and like it, but I guess it just seems like it should be thicker. So thick it is.

It really is a great way for the kids to find pride in their Haitian heritage as we celebrate the independence of Haiti from France. 

Let's just say the video game "Minecraft" continued to be the most requested activity by one boy.

Gaelle is always happy to craft and even happier to have a partner.

We played a few rounds of Tri Bond and the men proved to be surprisingly good at making the connections. 

Kaylin and Josh were partners once again. And Snickers was more than content to spend time with Kaylin.

Yes, it's ice cream time again.

Pile it on.

We ended our New Year's Day with some Wii Resort Speed Sword play. You had to be the first one to slice the fruit in the correct position. Not as easy as it would seem.

Fierce competition all the way around. 

There's no way Robin was going to take it easy on his 7 year old daughter. Bring it on.