Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The gift of Christmas

*** I know it has been a long time since we have updated the blog.  I have many excuses but in reality I had a bit of writers block and chose to put aside the blog for a couple of months.  I have a few posts that have been brewing over the last few months so those of you who enjoy reading this blog stay tuned   for the coming months!***

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! This Christmas we have been blessed with the reminder of the true meaning of the season! We are enjoying being surrounded by family and friends and spending time with our precious gift! We pray that wherever you are, you are warm, healthy, happy and safe.  May you be blessed with an overwhelming reminder of how loved you are!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Attachment success and challenges

 It has been a wonderful year of challenges and success.  Being a parent has brought so much joy, so much worry, more questions than answers, challenges around every corner and a lot of laughter( and a few tears)!

One of the major challenges/successes of our adoption journey has been attaching and bonding with Grace.  We spent a lot of time while we were waiting learning about attachment.  We read the horror stories, we read the success stories.  We read the textbooks about what to do and what not to do.  We discussed it during our home study and read through all the materials presented to us. 

Let me make it very clear, there are A LOT of resources and opinions about attachment and adoption. However there is no right way or one way to do it.   Every family does it differently, every adoption practitioner, psychologist, social worker, person with fancy letters after their name recommends different practices, things to look for, action plan for attachment.

We took a very conservative, hands on approach to attachment. We took all the information we had been given and made the plan that we were most comfortable with. ( let me tell you a lot of prayer went into this plan).  We made decisions like; we would be the only ones to hold Grace until we felt like she understood that we were her mom and dad and were not going to leave her, we would not let her cry it out- instead we would pick her up immediately to comfort her and let her know we were always there, Ryan and I would be the only one to provide for her needs- feeding, bathing, changing, sleeping until we felt like she was attaching well,  we would not leave her with someone else until we felt she fully understood that we were her mom and dad and if we left we would be coming back.  ( this is just a very small list... but I hope it give you an idea).

Our plan was not always understood, and at times I felt like our judgement and decisions were questioned.  And to be honest some days I did feel crazy.  Grace attached quite easily with us, but we also were very aware that attachment would take a lot of work and would be an ongoing process with new milestones reached over many years.  Because she seemed to attach easily it was hard to justify not letting people hold her, or getting up 30 times a night to comfort her, when so many people recommended letting her cry it out etc.

As crazy as I felt some days.. the crazy lady not letting anyone hold her sweet, cute, cuddly baby... I do feel like I tried to make the best decisions for my family.  We did compromise with some of our rules, and sometimes that was so frightening because what someone else saw as a small thing, feeding her, changing her, holding her I saw the consequences long term.  But we navigated the crazy world of parenting as best we could...

We have seen some great milestones with attachment.  Here are some highlights:
  • Grace pooped on day 2 ( babies/ children will often not poop due to the changes going on in their lives) Ryan is most proud of this!
  • looking for us when we left a room
  • making eye contact with us when we talk to her
  • not going to someone she did not know when they held out their arms for her ( this mom was so proud... but believe me I get a few looks when I don't make her go to someone when they ask to hold her)
  • Expressing her anger when we do something to upset her ( daddy left for a couple of days and she lets him know that is not ok!)
  • hiding behind mommy's legs when she is uncomfortable
We have seen so many successes, and I think we are doing well with attaching, but it will be a challenge we will always work on and be aware of. 

One of the best benefits of working so hard on attachment has been how much I have attached to Grace.  I always knew I loved her, I had a bond with her from the moment we held her, but I had no idea how much I would attach and how awesome that would feel.  it is a strange thing to explain but I am attached, I love to be with her, I love to explore with her, to go through the good and the bad of the day.  I love watching her interact with the world and the people in it.  I like that she looks for me when she discovers something exciting, or runs up to me to tell me stories because she knows I will be there.  I am super blessed to be this little girls mommy!

Before I end this long post.... let me express something... attachment works differently for everyone and every child.  For us as a family of three this is what worked, but next time we adopt it may work very different and we may choose a very different game plan.  Other parents take a much more laid back approach and that works great for them and their child.  Whatever works for that family is the best choice for them!

Attachment was not something we did by our strength. By the grace of God, through our imperfections, weakness and struggles God worked to knit us together as a family.   God has been our strength, our guide and because of Him we have seen great progress in this area of our life.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Happy Gotcha Day

Today we took the time to celebrate a special occasion in our lives.  We refer to it as "gotcha day".  The anniversary of the first time we met Grace, or the day we "got her".

July 10, 2012- Kaohsiung, Taiwan 
One year ago today we arrived in Taiwan.  I remember watching out the window as our plane descended on Taipei and falling instantly in love with the country that my daughter came from.  Our travels had taken us around the world and I will never forget the smell, and feel when we arrived in Kaohsiung.  We must have looked a sight, the two foreigners standing in the middle of the train station with people bustling about, not knowing where to go or what to do. We stood in the same spot afraid if we moved we would miss the people coming to pick us up.  I remember spotting Holly and Trena across the busy train station with itty bitty Grace in Holly's arms, My heart burst. There are no words to describe this moment in time. On July 10, 2012 we held Grace for the first time and it was the best feeling in the world.

Here we are a year later. A whole year has gone by and it has been such an amazing experience.  Wow,do we ever love our little girl.  She is full of joy, adventure and spitfire!  She knows how to keep us running there is never a dull moment around here!  Today we celebrated Grace, we celebrated the journey we are on, we celebrated God's plan, and provisions for our life.  Today we celebrated because our hearts are full!

July 10, 2013-  Canada
I am blown away by how blessed I am.  Happy "gotcha day" Grace.  You are so special and we are so thankful to have you as our daughter.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Tales of a Teething Toddler

Well it is about time I had a chance to tell you a story.  Mom started getting all sappy with Mother's day junk but you people don't want to read all this mushy stuff... you want the professional writer who will tell you the real dirt about our adoption journey, here you go....

so the other day I woke up... I wanted to stretch my voice a little... so I did.... well mom stumbled into my room with her hair all a mess and her eyes half open and in a quiet and soothing voice said " it's not morning yet, shhh my girl go back to sleep" as she tucked the blankets around me.  Well I was quick to correct her " Mom I checked, its morning... I promise... if you would buy me a rooster we could solve this debate right now...." then I thought I would get my point across best if I produced some tears and wailed a little.  I am sure she said ok ok... but I haven't seen the rooster yet.
so I called my Nana up and said " Yo Nana, Mom just said No to me... could you do something about this"

The snow finally melted around here ( did you know that winter lasts 3000 years in Canada?) but the glorious thing about the snow going away is it produces this wonderful substance called mud.  Mud is every kids dream... we don't want toys for christmas...we want mud... dirty, gooey, wet, brown mud. Mom and Dad bought me a fancy new pair of boots so I could play in the mud and stay clean.  They are a lot of fun, but the real fun is dipping into that big, wet mud puddle with my clean white shoes on.  I set a goal for myself 5 mud puddles in 5 days with the white shoes.  Mom and Dad have been teaching me to aim high and work hard to achieve my goals so I planned it all out.  Mom got me out of the car and put me down on the drive way to play with the rocks, like I always do, while she cleaned up the car.  When she turned away I ran and jumped in the puddle.  Day 1 was a success! However the next day the clean white shoes were still drying so I had to adapt the plan a little.  Mom bought me this really nice new outfit and put me in it, while she was getting us ready to go out the door I had a little conference with the dog.  I promised him all of my afternoon snack, if he would distract mom as we walked to the car to go to town for the day.  The plan went off without a hitch, as we walked to the car the dog made mom look away for a second and I found the closest mud puddle to jump in.  Yellow pants turned brown! Success! I didn't get to all 5 mud puddles in the week, but there is always another time!

the life of a teething toddler is hard.  I get up each day and work as hard as I can to make as big of a mess as possible, poop in the bathtub, go for a swim in the dogs water bowl, lick the floor, sing some songs, tell some stories, get mom to agree to buy me some things ( don't worry as soon as I figure out how to write I will show her the list of things she agreed to in the last few months) giggle really cute, and give mom a high five and a sweet little smile before bed ( you always need to end the day on a good note). Its a hard job, but someone has to do it!
Ah Ha! Bet you didn't expect to find me here!

i'll be back soon... The teething toddler ( just incase you didn't get it... its me... Grace)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

A Mother's Day letter part 3.....

Here is the final letter in my Mother's day weekend blog post marathon... I hope you enjoyed the posts!

A letter to my daughter,
    All week I have been looking forward to a day all about me, I dreamed of the special things that could happen, sleeping in, special breakfast, gifts, words of encouragement, special meals, afternoon naps... you name it and thats how I imagined my day.  But today I got an even better gift, I just got to be your mom.  See today wouldn't be possible without you.  Because of you I get to celebrate the most wonderful role I have.. mom.
    From the moment I knew you were born, I loved you.  I loved everything about you, from your tiny wrinkled feet to your perfect little nose.  I never knew that love until that day your picture showed up in my inbox.  I love your story and that I get to be apart of it.  I love that you call me "Mom" and that you hold my hand when we are relaxing together or when you are sleepy.  I love that you can climb the walls by just your sheer will and love to roll in mud and sand.  Your laugh is the best sound in the world and nothing makes me smile more than knowing you laugh every day.  You are not afraid to express your emotions wether that be anger, frustration, excitement or amazement. You my girl teach me new things every day.
   I know I mess this mom thing up, but little girl I love you more than I can tell you.  Today when I woke up at the crack of dawn to your voice I knew I had the best gift for this special occasion, I got to spend the whole day with you.  Thanks for making this Mother's day the best a mom could ask for!
Love you always,
Mother's Day 2013

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A Mother's day letter part 2

Check out yesterday's post for the first letter in this three part series for Mother's Day weekend ( thats right... I stretched out this special occasion )

To my Mom,
      This is the 26th Mother's Day that I have had the privilege of celebrating with you.  This Mother's Day is one of my favourites as I have a new appreciation for your love for me, as I have now entered the exciting world of motherhood.  
      I always knew you loved me, you showed me in so many different ways each day.  They way you made me a special Christmas dress each year, teaching me so many new things I don't have time to list them, encouraging me to work harder, letting me explore my creative side, and always being there to support me no matter how long of a drive or inconvenience to you.  You showed me love each day by making me feel safe, and happy, and pushing me to do more than I thought I could.  This last year as I became a mom I got a glimpse into your world and I started to understand just how deep your love for me was.  I get it now.  I get the decisions you made that frustrated me, I get your willingness to show up to my water polo games, and coach the swim team just to spend time with me, I get the rare trip you took away from us, it was never about you, it was about being a better mom to us after a little time away to refresh.  I get it now.  
   I am a better mom because of you.  I know I do things that you don't always understand, and have made choices for my family that is different than the way you would have done it, but I am thankful that your taught me to stand on my own two feet.  You have been an excellent example of all the qualities of a wonderful mom.  But to be honest that only thing that matters, and the thing that I am most thankful for is that you taught me about God, you encouraged me to get to know Him, and you lead by example.  
    You were not a perfect mom ( none of us are) but I never wanted a perfect mom, I always just wanted you.  Thank you for being an example of God's love in my life.  Thank you for being such an encouragement to me.  Thank you for being such an awesome Nana to my little girl.  Your love for her is such a gift to me,
Happy Mother's Day my sweet Mom! We Love you!

Friday, 10 May 2013

A Mothers day letter part 1....

I am blessed to be in the midst of Mothers Day weekend ( yes thats right, I have extended it from one day to a whole weekend) I have enjoyed reading other posts and watching videos about what a blessing moms are.  I have laughed and cried, I enjoyed special posts that talk specifically about being an adoptive parent, and felt the pain of those still waiting to be united with their child. The more I thought about what I wanted to say on a special mothers day blog post, the more the ideas morphed into a three part post.  So in the next three days I will share three letters that I hope will celebrate this very special weekend :)

A letter to my Mother-in-Law,
     There are no words to say how grateful I am for you.  I know I do not take the time to express it, but I think you are a wonderful Mom.  Each day I wake up and look into my Husband's eyes (your baby boy) and I see years of your love, tears, worry, joy, and wisdom poured into his life.  I am blessed to be able to spend my life with your son, and I am thankful for all the time you spent encouraging him to be the man he is today.  I know you led by example, and encouraged strongly for him to be a kind, responsible human being.  You taught him hard lessons, and encouraged him with a hug.  You spoiled him with the best chocolate chip cookies ( a recipe I wont attempt because I know I will never be able to replicate them).  
    This year I have the joy to celebrate Mothers Day with my little girl, and I thankful to know that you have helped shape me into the mom I am today.  Thank you for your love and support of my family.  But most importantly thank you for being my Husbands Mom.  Celebrating you each year is a joy and a privilege.  Thank you for all the love, encouragement and discipline you gave your son.  Thank you for letting me be apart of your family.  Thank you for loving my little girl so much, and spoiling her.
   Happy Mothers day! 
We love you!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Spring is in the air!

As the seasons finally begin to change here in snowy Saskatchewan, my heart is full!  After a bad case of cabin fever due to the cold, snowy, icy winter the weather is finally changing and I can see a patch of grass in my backyard.  With the sunny days and warmer temperatures, I feel excited about the coming days!

The last couple of weeks I have found my mind often wandering to last year around this time/ season.  I remember how hard it was, and how many emotions were going through my heart.   I can still remember checking my phone at least 10 times in the middle of the night, as Taiwan was 14hrs ahead and all pictures and correspondence came in the middle of the night.  Wow! what a difference a year makes. 

I have been thankful for this time of reflection, for the sweet memories of last year, the reminder of all the people who we love and have been apart of our lives. I am thankful for the reminder of all of the emotions: both good and bad.  I hope I never forget what it feels like to hurt so much, because I love someone more than words can begin to explain.   The journey we went through to bring Grace home was the hardest and most amazing thing.   I want to share a couple of things I have been remembering: 

  • as I dressed Grace today I chose a bright yellow shirt, because every time i see yellow it reminds me of Christel one of the amazing women who took special time to love Grace while she was in Taiwan
  • every time I cut Grace's fingernails I remember the nannies ( especially Mary Joy) who took the time to do even the littlest thing for my girl, who loved her so much. 
  • I see Grace's smile and it reminds me of Holly.  She always had a beautiful smile on her face and it somehow got even bigger when she saw a precious His Hands baby. She carried joy with her wherever she went.
  • I often take out my camera to capture special memories and wish I could just pick up the phone to share special moments and stories with all of  Grace's Aunties in Taiwan.  Grace started saying Auntie this weekend,  and I was so blessed to know that Grace is surrounded with love of so many "aunties", those that are related, and those who adopted her as part of their family from the day they met her.
  • I hear Grace's laugh and I think of Grace's birth mom and pray that she knows how much we love this precious child, how thankful we are for HER life and pray for her

Spring is in the air! A year ago I was playing in the mud puddles by myself, but this year I have a partner in crime.  

enjoying an ice cream cone!

New hip waders for puddle jumping

enjoying being outside in the sunshine
Enjoy your day!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

ChInese New Year party!

Our Chinese New Year party went off with less of a bang than we expected but we had a fantastic time.  Since you couldn't all be there with us, I thought I would share a couple of fun pictures and some stories from our great night.

pretty red dress made by Nana
Chinese New Year  is celebrated in many Asian countries including Taiwan.  Chinese New Year is determined by the lunar calendar. This year it started on February 10th.  Chinese New Year last 15 days.

We chose February 17th to celebrate.   Ryan and I had been looking forward to hosting this party since all year.  We had planned, and changed plans, we bought supplies, dreamed about how to make the day perfect and counted down!  

Two special friends who braved the storm to enjoy the day with us!

The day arrived: 
Grace had the perfect red party dress,
The house was clean,
the guests were invited,
menu planned,

and a Saskatchewan blizzard rolled in.

Everyone was a trooper and braved the snow and wind to come out.  Our home was filled with, laughter, love and thankfully heat :)

we introduced our guests to a couple of new food items: tea eggs, pineapple cake, and bubble tea. 

tea eggs- making them reminded us of the many 7-11's we were in during our time in Taiwan

We had a wonderful night, and even with the storm and cold we were able to light off a couple of fireworks.  I cant wait till next year to see what adventures we can have.

For those of you who could be with us, Thank you!  You made our day so special! 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Grace is growing!

I apologize for the lack of posts this year!  Has 1/12 of 2013 already disappeared?

it is time for a little update on our girl!


~is 15 months old
~ walking, running, climbing and dancing ( she takes after her mom and only has one dance move)

~she says mommy, daddy, Yes, owie, all done, hot, poppa, puppy, dance, hi, happy, busy busy, nana and can copy a few other words

~weight: 8kgs ( 17.6 lbs)
~height: 77 cm (30 inches)

~ favorite food: rice 

~favorite snack: whatever the other kid has 
~ favorite song: if you're happy and you know it clap your hands

~loves to be in the water, as long as it is warm
~ loves to watch Rio, I can put it on in any room and she will come as soon as she hears her favorite part

~she will kiss any stuffed animal but refuses kisses from Mom and Dad
~ she wakes up no later than 15 minutes before our alarm goes off in the morning
~ the only nap she has all week is 1/2 hour before we need to leave for church on Sunday morning