Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Three and thriving

She is 3!!!
Our bundle of energy,  full of joy, spitfire little girl is 3! 

It has been big year for her.  She has grown "big and strong".  Two was a fun age but also filled with a lot of goodbyes.  We said goodbye to the crib, soother, bottles and afternoon naps. Grace grew up a lot in height and also with her development. She is a talking machine. She tells wonderful stories and it is fun to hear her verbalize what is going on in her head. There is no height too high for Grace and her climbing and balance is wonderful.  Grace has developed her creative side and the fridge is filled with lovely creations.  

Grace blesses us in incredible ways each day. She challenges us to be more patient,  kind, creative and joyful. She never settles for ordinary she works until everything is extraordinary.  This year promises to hold many more adventures for us and I am excited to see what is in store for our little princess. 

Happy Birthday miss Grace. We are so thankful for you... Our precious gift.  We are excited to see you thrive as a 3 year old as you test new limits and accomplish new things. Never forget how much we love you! 

Thank you to all of you who have joined us in the adoption journey, and as you celebrate today with us. 


Monday, 2 June 2014


What day is it?"

It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh.” 

Grumpy face

silly girl

Today is my favourite day because I got to make you breakfast and then chase you around the house trying to wrestle you into your pants.  Today is my favourite day because you mastered a new height, new skill, new word.  Today was my favourite day because you challenge me to give everything I have and then more, all of my patience, all of my love, all of my knowledge, all of my joy.  Today is my favourite because you hug me as tight as you can and say "good job Mommy", because you never forget to smell the flowers or pet the dog.

too much hard work
We have been walking through a season with Grace that has forced us to take each day at a time.  Grace has been struggling with some attachment issues and has required us to focus on the present.  When I say attachment people tend to disagree that Grace has any attachment issues.  I believe that Grace 100% knows that we are her Mom and Dad, I have full confidence that she knows we are here for her forever.  But we have seen her go through a season of insecurity and fear and needing constant reassurance in little things in her day.  Reassurance that we hear her, that what she is feeling is important to us, that we will be there for her no matter if she screams, cries or lays down kicking and screaming. It has been a physically and mentally exhausting season but we have season the fruit of our labour.

so sweet
Walking through this season has forced us to focus on today, and because we have been focusing on today we see the beauty in the little moments.  It has meant cancelling plans last minute because what Grace really needed was time at home.  It has meant nights laying in uncomfortable positions for hours to cuddle Grace just the way she wanted.  It has meant long conversations, singing the same song over and over.  It has meant running, jumping, playing and cuddling!

so yes… today is my favourite day!


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

show me the money….

Many many many people ask " how much did she cost"

         My response usually varies but usually ends up sounding something like this " She is our special gift, we are grateful to be her parents" ( yes I know, I did not answer the question)
sweet girl loves plants… plants don't always love her ;)

Yes there are costs involved with adoption.  We have chosen international adoption and with this commitment we have taken on the responsibility of paying the costs that come.  These expenses are different for every family and in every situation.   New expenses can quickly pop up, or in the best case scenario expenses can be less than expected!  But to help those better understand the adoption process we have written up a list of possible expenses that adoptive families can experience.

Agency fees- no the family is not paying for their child… but for the agency to run they need employees, buildings, and have day to day expenses.  The agencies role is to work with the family to make the adoption successful.  They help families organize the paperwork, follow the proper process, guide and answer questions and help meet requirements.
$2 000- $5 000 +
In country costs- this may cover the cost of the child's living expenses, ( housing, food, clothing etc) staff taking care of child, staff dealing with paperwork and courts, translation of documents, finding biological parents to sign paperwork etc
$10 000-  $20 000
Home study- for international adoption home study is the expense of the family.  This would include the fees to meet with the home study practitioner to have the home study written up, along with travel costs
$2 000-$3 000
Authentication fees- all paperwork needs to authenticated by certain people ( lieutenant governor, embassy, lawyers, etc) before it can be presented in court. These fees vary greatly!
$500- $2 000+

Citizenship/Immigration- to come to Canada the child either needs to go through the citizenship or immigrations process.  Both process include lots of paperwork, sending authenticated documents and fees for processing
$300- $2 000+

Travel expenses- expenses will vary greatly depending on how long the family needs to be in the country, and what season they travel, and what they choose to do while they are in the country.
$10 000 +

This is not a complete list, it is just to give you a basic idea of what expenses families who adopt internationally face. I know for certain I forgot possible expenses, and all numbers are just an estimate.  It may be easy to respond by saying " just adopt in Canada, it is cheaper" but please remember people who are adopting are not doing it to save money, they are doing it to expand their family, and to provide a safe loving home to a child in need.  

Thanks for joining us on our journey! 
this girl loves to soak up the sun!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

the cost of adoption

I often get asked how much did it cost to adopt?

and my very true and honest answer is everything….

Adoption has cost us everything.

It cost us every shred of privacy we ever thought we had….

it cost us sleep… while we waited… and once we were home…

it cost us personal time….

it cost us friendships…..

it cost us giving up total control….

it cost us our hearts….

oh yeah… it cost us a little money as well.

The cost of adoption is very real… when you agree to adopt you agree to give everything you have to bringing your child home.  This is a child you have never met, never held, never kissed, never touched. This is your child.  And bringing them home cost you a lot more than a plane ticket.  

This winter we have been preparing to fundraise for our adoption, and while the monetary cost has seemed overwhelming I have been reminded that the cost of adoption is so much more.  Physically we need to raise/save the money to cover the expenses that come with international adoption… and we will slowly but surely ( check back soon for blog posts about our current fundraisers) and the rest we have already payed, we have given our hearts to a child that does not share our DNA but has our hearts completely.  

I am blessed!  I am so blessed!!!!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Chinese New Year 2014… year of the horse!

I am finally finding a few minutes of time to write one of my favourite posts!  Its time to share our Chinese New Year adventure for 2014.

This year Chinese New Years landed on January 31st.  2014 is the year of the Horse.

red envelope with our chocolate money
Chinese New Year is celebrated in Chinese cultures each year.   Unlike our North American new year which is celebrated January 1st of each year, Chinese New Year follows the Lunar calendar and its date changes.  Each year is categorized by one of the 12  Chinese zodiac symbols.  Chinese New Year lasts 15 days and ends with the lantern festival.  The holiday is filled with specific traditions and lots of symbolization.  We have enjoyed learning LOTS about this fun holiday, and every year we seem to learn a little more!

fireworks in the front yard
This year was again such a great time. On January 31st Grace and I made fortune cookies and milk tea (mmm my favourite) to share with the ladies at work.  It was a great success and fun to include them in our celebrations. On Saturday we were blessed to celebrate with family and friends ( the most important part).  We had a great visit and got to try out some new food.  We love to have a good mix of "North American" and Asian food and this year our friends blessed us by bringing some delicious food to add to our wide variety of selection.  It was so fun to have the kids running around and celebrating.  Once we finished up with the food we bundled up to head outside to enjoy fireworks and flying lanterns.  This year was much more successful without the blizzard raging, but it was very cold and everyone was very brave to stay outside for so long.  To end off a wonderful evening we sent everyone home with traditional red envelopes with chocolate "money" inside!

lanterns ready to fly!
Some people question why we have started celebrating Chinese New Year, as Grace would not know any different.  First, it is so much fun and a great reason to spend time with the people we love. Second, it never hurts to stretch and grow and educate ourselves on the different holidays and cultures around the world… in fact it is a lot of fun! and lastly, while Grace will some day be a Canadian, part of her story will always be in Taiwan.  We do not want to hide that, we want to celebrate that!  One of the ways we choose to do so is to take time to have some fun and celebrate a major chinese holiday.  We have also chosen other ways to bring her culture and history, language etc to our life because she is important to us!

our musical entertainment for the evening
Thank you to everyone who made Chinese New Year so much fun this year!  We are blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people!


Sunday, 19 January 2014


This has been a hard week… really hard.  

I felt my self going into survival mode by Monday at noon… and then was reminded of a lesson I learned while going through the adoption process with Grace. A lesson on joy

Joy is defined in the dictionary two different ways, one as a noun: meaning a feeling of great pleasure and happiness OR as a verb: rejoice

I always understood joy as happiness, excitement, the good feelings… that is easy.  It is easy to be filled with joy when life is going well.  When life is filled with sunshine and roses.  When the road that life is taking you is flat, and paved… not bumpy and windy.  However as we the wait to bring Grace home grew each day I was shown daily that I had forgot to live out joy as defined by the verb- REJOICE.

incase you missed it, the definition did not say REJOICE because life is easy, or REJOICE because everything is good… it just simply said REJOICE.

There are lots of bible verses about joy: seriously go look…

there are 2 verses that I found comfort in while I was struggling with joy…

Philippians 4:4-7 " Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all,  The lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

James 1:2-4 " Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when ever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its works so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything"

I want to live with joy, no matter the circumstances in my life.  I am learning that living with joy means choosing to rejoice… REJOICE because I am loved, I am saved, I have been redeemed. And because of that I always have reason to rejoice.

I remember it was really hard to learn to live with joy when Grace was so far away, but I understand now that the time we were separated was an opportunity for me to learn a lot of lessons that I really needed to understand.

I still struggle to live with joy, but I am working on it.  This week was another reminded to REJOICE! Rejoice despite the fact that people I love are really hurting. Rejoice… even though this week was a struggle! Rejoice because even though the world is filled with hurting people, war, famine, sickness and evil their is hope!


Sunday, 12 January 2014

oh change… how quickly you sneak up on me!

We started this week with big changes in our life…. it was time for me to head back to work, and for our family of three to start a new adventure.

When we flew to Taiwan in July of 2012, I was able to take a leave of absence from my job.  My employer allows up to 18 months leave of absence for paternity/adoption leave.  In Canada we were eligible for 35 week partially paid paternal leave.  At the end of the 35 weeks, we tightened up our budget and made some changes so that I could stay off work for the full 18 months.  It was a huge blessing to have so much special time with Grace and have 18 months to focus on our family!

I am so thankful for the amazing opportunity to take parental leave.  The first 6 months were a bit of a haze, as we adapted to less sleep, new schedules and routine.  I would love to say our 18 months were all rainbows and giggles, but life was sometimes hard.  Teething is hard… no sleep is hard…. exploring boundaries and seeking independence is a hard stage. But there were so many amazing moments, making new friends, watching Grace learn and grow, jumping in mud puddles, spending extra time with the people we love and so many other adventures. I will forever be thankful that I was able to devote my full attention to Grace for those 18 months.  They are precious, wonderful memories that I will cherish forever.

Many people have very strong opinions on the career vs stay at home mom debate.  I was given a lot of advise from anyone who knew our situation. There are great articles out there telling me I am ruining my child by having a career instead of staying at home.  There are great articles out there that tell me I am running my kid by keeping them in a cocoon of the safety of home instead of expanding their horizons at daycare while I go back to work.  There are great articles saying that women can do it all.  There are great articles saying we can't.  At the end of the day the choice to head back to work was ours as a family, and as a family we had to make the decision that was best for us.

This past Monday Grace and I put on our big girl pants and embraced a new day… full of new adventures and change…

We had a great start to our new adventure.   Getting back to work was a lot of fun.  I have great co workers, who were incredibly patient with me as I tried to remember where I left off 18 months ago.  Grace had a great week with her Nana.  It was fun to hear her babble her stories and bounce around the house in excitement each night.

I am so thankful for my Mom who offered to watch Grace.   I know this will be a special time for both of them.  I am thankful to my co workers who have been so patient and understanding.  I am thankful for Ryan who always puts us first and has made so many sacrifices for us.

Change is inevitable… but wether it sneaks up on your or you see it coming a mile away… we are doing our best to make the most of it…. we are going to seize the day!

excellent hair day at the Wock's

Thursday, 2 January 2014

good bye 2013… hello 2014

Good Bye 2013… you have provided us with many fond memories!  What a year it has been! I look back and remember the struggles, the exhaustion, the joy and celebration.  I can say with certainty that in 2013 we grew as individuals and as a family.  We struggled, we thrived.  we lived…

making a snow man.. or eating his nose...
I have been off work since July of 2012, which left Grace and I lots of time to play and enjoy life.  We participated in group classes at the family centre, had lots of play dates with friends, and enjoyed visits with family.

In February we hosted Chinese New Year celebrations at our house, the first one with Grace at home.  We had such a great time, despite the blizzard raging outside.
Happy Chinese New Year!

Our adventurous Grace loved the melting snow, and we spent the early parts of spring jumping in mud puddles and washing clothes!  We purchased a pair of chest waders for Grace, money well spent. I would recommend Oakiwear to anyone, they have been a big lifesaver around here!

When the snow was all gone, we made a temporary sandbox on the deck, and enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperatures.  One of the big projects for Ryan was finishing the swing set/sand box that Ryan's mom and dad had given us.  He did a great job with help from my Dad and Grace.  We spent many mornings and afternoons enjoying the warm sand and climbing up into the play house!  Grace loves to climb, and was a master at getting up there all by herself.  She also discovered she loved to be buried in the sand, and jump on the trampoline.  There was never a dull moment around here!
sand box 

We spent many hours in the garden, which had a wonderful harvest.  I can not thank my Mom and Dad enough for all of the hours they spent weeding, harvesting and planting. Grace again found a love for the garden; helping us plant ( you could tell where her seeds were planted, they never quite lined up in the rows) harvest ( oh she loves PEAS!) the delight of learning that something was hiding under the earth.  We did battle the horse flies and misquotes this year.  Grace had a bad reaction to the bites and we ended up having to stay inside more at times due to the pesky bugs!

bug jacket

In May we enjoyed our annual camping trip with the Friedrick's and Koshman's.  This was another first for Grace, one we had so been looking forward to!  Grace loved Cayden's bike trailer and the kids would sit in it as everyone took turns riding the bike with them. We blew bubbles… for days… played trains with cayden, enjoyed some time on the beach and lots of conversation around the camp fire.  We were missing a couple of people last year, and praying that God will provide so that we can all be together for 2014!
camping 2013

In June our plans to head out west for a family vacation were derailed by incredible flooding so we changed our directions and headed to Clear Lake for a couple of days.  It was a wonderful get away time for me!  Ryan was able to rest and Grace and I were able to explore!  We spent a lot of time walking, eating gelato, and swimming in the pool!

One of the highlights of our year was getting to see Muir's when they returned home to Canada for a vacation.  Grace instantly bonded with them, and my heart was so full watching the kids love Grace.  I am overwhelmed with emotion when I think of how adoption grows your family, not just with your child but with all the people who were apart of their life before our story started with them.  Our family has grown by leaps and bounds with all of the "aunties", friends and nannies who are apart of Grace's life.  Having a visit with this extended part of our family was a great reminder how beautiful Grace's story is!

In September we took a little girls trip with Grandma and Grace to Yorkton to spend time with family.  It was a wonderful time, playing outside and visiting but with three kiddos it was busy! We did have time to get into a little mischief, a tree may have been broken… sorry Ben :)

This fall we were able to participate in a fundraiser for Taiwan Xi En ( the organization we adopted Grace from).  I am so thankful for the opportunity we had to serve!  We were stretched during these months but had such an incredible time.  We were able to make new friendships and develop strong relationships.  We met incredible people with a heart for orphans.  We were able to share our story and hopefully along the way encourage others.

In November it worked out for Grace and I to take a girls trip to Alberta. We spent our week meeting new friends and catching up with good friends we hadn't seen in a while.  Ryan joined us at the end of the week and we had the best visit with Aaron and Audrey.  Grace loved playing with her Auntie and Uncle, our time was too short but we had a great holiday!

dancing in the rain
December has seemed like a long month, with cold weather, health issues, and preparing for the changes to come in 2014.   We were excited to wrap up our home study for our second adoption right before Christmas.  We are looking forward to what 2014 will bring.
snuggles with Daddy

Our year has been full, but so much fun. We want to thank each of you for being apart of our lives! We truly are blessed.  2014 is full of unknown for us, but I rest peacefully knowing I am not in control, I am just along for the ride.  I look forward to what this year will bring.

Thank you for catching up with us! Lets talk soon!