Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Don't Let Him See Your Fear!

Hubby & I went on a date last month -- which meant we needed a sitter for Noah.

Since we're neurotic parents, not just any sitter will do. We trust Kevin's mom to provide day care, and will permit close relatives to watch him while he's out of our immediate care.

But that's about it.

So that night, we asked a close relative to baby-sit. We prepared Noah by telling him that both Mommy & Daddy would be going out, but we would see him in the morning when he woke up. He seemed fine with that; he knows his aunty very well & she is one of his favourite people. He didn't even cry when we put our coats on and walked out the door.

Kevin joked with his little sister as she waved goodbye. "Don't let him see your fear, sis!" 

But she brushed us off and said "We'll be fine, won't we Noah?" to which our pint-sized toddler cackled in agreement. "We be naughty!"

(That should have tipped us off. He was already plotting his baby-sitter's demise.)

We left four pages of instructions to help aunty get through the night. I've included a few of our bedtime directions here:

~ place four ice cubes and water in his purple sippy cup at bedtime, and place the cup on the floor next to the bottom left bedpost.
~read his two favourite books "Love You Forever" and "Just One Goal" twice each in that order in a Swedish accent.
~for pajama time, put his undershirt on inside out so the tag doesn't scratch his neck. Place his left leg in the sleeper first to avoid a meltdown.
~Sing him "Teddy Bear's Picnic" but change it slightly to "Dinosaur's Picnic" and amend the following verse:

Picnic time for dinosaurs
They love to scream and roar
They never have any cares....

At 6 o'clock when mommy and daddy
Have finally had some sleep
Then you can wake up,
Please don't make a peep...


So those were the instructions. Not too much to ask, was it???

Aunty, I'm sorry.
I'm sorry we've catered to him and that bedtime is such a battle for you. (And us!)
We're not perfect parents.... but we had no idea.

We had our phones on vibrate in case she needed anything.
Despite checking our phones every ten minutes to see if there were messages, she held out.....possibly because she was hanging on for dear life!!!

Noah's normal bedtime used to be 9pm. (I know, I know, we're terrible!!!)
That snuck up to 10:00, which is still manageable for us.... but when you throw in the baby-sitter factor, that number climbs closer and closer to midnight.

So when our late movie got out at 11:15, and we rushed straight home with the hope of seeing our sleeping babe tucked into his toddler bed, guess what we found instead?

A frizzy haired sister-in-law looking exhausted, standing at the front door holding a sippy cup in one hand and the remains of a toilet paper roll in the other.

"Don't ask!" she commanded as we snuck in the door.

As if on cue, Noah poked his head up from behind his baby gate. "I awake, momma! Gonna get big time out!"

In other words, "Welcome Home, Mommy."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Special Christmas Eve Visit

Christmas Eve is packed with magic - the glitter of the holiday, the anticipation of the big man in red, and for those that celebrate, the anniversary of Christ's birth.

Our Christmas Eve was a little more magical than usual. We went 'home' to visit my side of the family, and spent a sunny day hiking with a few of my sibs, my mom, my husband and of course, Noah.

My sister in law commented that it didn't *feel* like Christmas Eve. The ice on the pond and the chill in the air proved it was winter, but there was something missing... something not quite Christmasy about the afternoon.  

All that changed on the way back when someone suggested stopping by the MCFD office. "Who knows, Noah's guardianship worker might be in today." 

I suppose I should clarify that suggestion with a general warning: most people (social workers included, but people in general) do not appreciate walk-in visitors. But it was Christmas Eve, and we were in the neighbourhood, and we thought, Why not? He's either working or he's at home with his family, and seeing ours won't affect his workload too much. (We hoped.) 

We were delightfully surprised.... not only was he in, he had a few minutes to come on out to see us!!! We were so excited. Noah's adoption was a bit serendipitous, and we remain grateful to this day for all the people who helped bring him home to us.

We feel especially grateful to Noah's guardianship worker, who was behind our application 100%. He was absolutely delighted to see how far Noah had come since that pivotal moment over a year and a half ago when we sat around the dining room table drafting Noah's adoption plan together.  

Noah was his charming self. Rosy-cheeked and close to exhausting from our hike, he still had enough energy to wish the office "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" as he munched on a little candy cane. 

On our way out the door, Noah's worker stopped us and pulled out the thank-you card and photograph we'd mailed him more than a year ago. He'd kept that little thank you all this time, and we were so touched to know that maybe in some way, Noah had made an impact on HIS life, too. 

We had a very Merry Christmas after that meeting. 

When we woke up on Christmas morning, and Noah scampered up the stairs, Kevin and I had to stop and look at each other in wonder.... every day with Noah is its own miracle, and we were glad to have that moment to remind us that his presence in our family is a gift to be celebrated every day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Noah vs. Santa

I'm not sure what possessed me to take my two year old to visit Santa today.

My husband had to work, and I'm currently sporting a wrist brace that leaves me fairly incapable of doing anything useful with my dominant hand.

But I decided today would be a good day to visit Santa. St. Nick found time in his busy schedule to visit our local mall, though I'm not sure why. This shopping area is typically a ghost town, but it does transform into shopping central on the last Saturday before Christmas.

We walked, which was wise - not as wise as the three magi, but well, smarter than driving. It meant I could strap young Noah into his stroller and have a chance at shopping while we waited for Santa to arrive.

You see, timing was my first mistake. Normally Noah goes down for his nap around 12:30pm, a nap he desperately needs considering his fall-asleep-for-the-night time has been around 11pm lately. So rather than check Santa's schedule, I just assumed he would be there waiting for us when we arrived at 12:15.

No way, Momma. Of COURSE Santa's only working limited hours. It's practically Christmas, after all.... so we shopped around locally for 45 minutes until the big man in red finally arrived at 1pm.

In the meantime we got a few last minute gifts, and Noah practiced his four-limbed attack on all things shiny and breakable. We were only banned from one store this time around, which is a 300% improvement from last year's holiday banishment score.

At 12:55 Noah spotted Santa taking his seat in his tinsel-covered throne. 

"SANTAAAAAAAAA!" Noah screamed across the mall. "DON'T HIT SANTA!"

Oh for the love of St. Nicholas.

I'm glad that we taught Noah the "don't hit" rule. It was perfectly effective in training him to keep his hands to himself in regards to other children, friends' babies, and small dogs with big teeth.

But it makes people stare when he uses it indiscriminantly (even though it's still a correct self-affirmation).

In the last two weeks alone, he's publicly declared:

Don't hit Jesus!
Don't hit baby Jesus!
Don't hit the doctor!
Don't hit old lady!
Don't hit Grandma!
Don't hit the candy!
Don't hit Mickey Mouse!
Don't hit Oprah!
Don't hit Nemo!

and finally..


Santa actually HEARD that decree, and looked up across the crowded mall to raise a white-gloved hand and share a hearty "ho ho ho!" with my hit-obsessed son.


Thank God the line was short. Noah leaped from my arms and waddled like a hurried penguin over to the big man. Santa scooped him up and placed him expertly on his knee.

It was like watching a horror movie. Noah's excitement drained from his face, his lower lip quivered for a moment, and he looked at me with puppy dog eyes.

"SANTA ALL DONE!" he announced in desperation.

Sigh. Another year, another photo with Santa.

Oh well. At least Noah didn't hit him!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Counting with Noah 101 ("I Have ONE, TWO, THREE Eyebrows, Mommy!")

Noah and I were counting this morning. I'm not convinced he understands the concept. On a good day, he can count as high as thirteen before he starts mixing up or repeating numbers. But today we weren't having much luck.

"I have ONE, TWO, THREE eyebrows, Mommy!" Noah announced with a giant grin.

"Oh really?" I laughed. "Noah, most people have two eyebrows." (I didn't mention that some unfortunate souls have ONE, and others have NONE.) We looked in the mirror together. "Noah, do you have THREE eyebrows?"

"Nope." Noah replied. "Seven!"

Okay... obviously counting needs work.

We tried counting the lights on the Christmas tree:
"One, two, three, Mommy!"

We tried counting the cars on the street:
"One, two, three, Mommy!"

We tried counting the wheels on his toy truck:
"One, two, three....fourfivesixseveneightnineteneleven."

"Eleven?" I cackled. "Eleven? That's a lot of wheels, Noah!"

He looked at me wide-eyed and replied emphatically:
"Nope. Not eleven wheels, Mommy. SEVEN."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sometimes Even Adoption Support Coordinators need Adoption Support!

Today was a really great day! We had our staff Christmas party, and I had the pleasure of driving one of our regional colleagues to the celebration.

This particular colleague is an old family friend (the friendship is old, NOT the friend) and we hadn't seen each other in yeaaaars. It was so fun to catch up and hear all about her family, her kids, grandkids, and adventures along the way. 

Along with some great conversations, it was really great to bounce some of my own motherhood experiences off her. It was nice to get some feedback from another adoptive parent who's seen and done it all before. I have the luxury of working on a daily basis with some phenomenal people who have strong adoption connections; but it was really affirming to talk to someone who's known me from childhood and also had a great amount of knowledge to share.  

So thanks for the chat today! It's nice to know that when adoption support coordinators need an ear, there's more than a handful of people within our organization who will be happy to listen!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Well, Since It's National News, I Might as Well Share His Name!

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from Today's Parent letting me know I'd won their "Reader with a Cause" award. I was super excited, and can't wait to see the article they're crafting.

They're providing AFABC with $2000 to help support family networking, and the story will appear in the March 2010 issue! They interviewed me on my adoption story, interviewed AFABC on our work to help support & educate adoptive families, and then they wanted my picture.

Back the train up a minute... they want to take my photo  Ohhhhhhhhhhh NO. Not a picture!!! Can't I just hire a toddler to draw one of me instead? 

Have you seen me lately? 
My eyebrows are caterpillars.
I'm breaking out like a teenager on pixie sticks.

I found a whole new crop of grey hairs, and I have wrinkles between my eyebrows (which, see above, resemble caterpillars).
I haven't been to the gym in weeks.
I haven't put the chocolate down in months. (Okay, years. Okay.. my whole lifetime!)
And they wanted to take my picture? 

I put in a call to my esthetician. (Did I even spell that right?) She remembered me, thankfully, and was kind enough to fit me in on one day's notice to tame the brows. But the rest couldn't be helped! They sent a really awesome photographer to our office and set up a very professional backdrop to my 'photo shoot'. 

Let me qualify my apprehension: I am no supermodel. I grew up under the loving watch of a mother who somehow succeeded in NEVER having her photo taken since her wedding day 40 years ago. The idea of joyfully posing for a national magazine gave me cold sweats. But I did it, and it was actually kind of fun!!

The article was a neat experience, too. I like to think of myself as a somewhat talented amateur, and it was really cool to talk to a professional writer and watch her craft our story. Kevin & I talked at length before the interview about how much and what details we would share with the world. This article won't just be reaching the intimate group of 1,000 AFABC members who receive our bi-monthly FOCUS magazine, and it won't be out on the internet like this blog, where anyone could find it but you have to be interested enough to look!

It's going out there to the world in a very respected, widely read national magazine, to be opened (and hopefully enjoyed!) by parents across Canada. So how much did we want to reveal? What details should we divulge, and what should be kept private? 

In the end we made it child-centered, and respectful of all parts of his family. When Little Man grows up and reads the article, he'll feel proud of his story and not upset because too much of it was shared. If any birth mother reads it (his in particular, but anyone who made an adoption plan for their child), they will feel that their choice is respected, and hopefully the love, respect, and gratitude we have for her will shine on the page. 

So we're looking forward to March to see the article in print! And since it's going in the magazine anyways, I suppose it's time to share Little Man's Name.

Although we won't be ready to share his face with the world until he can decide for himself, we are ready to see his name in print. Allow me to introduce our Little Man, Noah.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Whistler 2009 - Eeking out of the Olympic Rush

Our family took life by storm and headed for the hills this weekend. It was just overnight; all we could take away from our busy lives & families, but worth the drive. 

We decided to visit Whistler. It's been a favourite vacation place of ours for years, despite the fact that none of us ski or board. 

We were a bit disappointed during the drive up. The chronic rain of the Wet Coast was all around us, and that rain hadn't switched to snow when we hit the half-way point of Squamish. 

Somehow, ten minutes outside of Whistler, the rain puddles turned to snowbanks, and wouldn't you know it? We pulled into a winter wonderland! Little Man had fallen asleep in Vancouver, and somehow didn't stir until we were parked in Whistler Village.

I turned around to watch him rub his eyes in astonishment. "S....s....SNOW MOMMY!" He beamed from the backseat. "Yook at all da snow!!!" 

A snowplough passed by soon after. "Mommy! Yook at da zamboni!!!" (Yes, we know a zamboni is meant for clearing hockey rinks... but you can't correct something that cute!)

We saw a LOT of zambonis up in Whistler this weekend. 

Little Man is, well, little. So it didn't matter that the big piles of snow only existed thanks to the zambonis (oops, I mean snowploughs) that had smooshed them together. The mountains themselves got an awesome dumping the night we stayed over, but the walkways through Whistler village were more than manageable despite the white stuff that was coming down.

We typically visit Whistler during the summer months. We love the lakes nearby, enjoy the hiking trails and the shops. (Well, some of us enjoy the shops more than others!) This winter trip to Whistler was made with a few trepidations, first and foremost regarding just how much Olympic insanity had taken over the ski town.

Thankfully, it wasn't too overwhelming. Yes, the Olympics were plastered everywhere, but for those that aren't particularly fanatical about the games, it was nice to see that you could STILL enjoy the mountain without feeling like the mascots were trying to share the gondola with you. 

We stopped inside the Olympic store, because Little Man insisted on meeting the "BIG STUFFIES" that he'd witnessed. I personally fear the mascots and wonder who on earth designed them, but little man thinks they are cute. He also identifies them as "fluffy dog" "nice cat" "cute rat" and "blue bjdies" which I THINK is the little critter no one can really identify. 

And before we went home, we took a ride in the bobsled. Which, to our two year old, is ALMOST as cool as the zamboni. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

He's Two! He's Two!

Queue the tears: my baby is two. 

My husband thinks I'm crazy. I think he's right! Last month I decided to throw a proper birthday party for our little man. 

I invited my parents.
I invited my in-laws.
I invited my siblings.
I invited my siblings in-law.
I invited an aunt.
An uncle...
Some cousins.

And of course, Little Man's big brother.
Who came with his Mom.

I invited some of my friends.
And some of Kevin's friends.
And a very old family friend.

And then I stopped.
And counted.
And hyperventilated.

We live in a 900 square foot apartment with barely two bedrooms.
We have a couch, a love seat, and small kitchen table in our living area.

Thankfully, only 25 people RSVP's YES, and 20 turned up in the end. 

And guess what? 

It was the awesomest birthday party we'd ever thrown!!!

So the next time you decide to cram 20 people into a living room built for three.... think again, and invite 25! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Changing Hats (or Just Adding Another One)

After nine years with our organization, AFABC's beloved Cross Cultural Education Coordinator Yvonne Devitt is moving on. She's been an amazing mentor here at AFABC, an inspiring friend, and a great teacher. Her presence in the office will be greatly missed (as will her chocolate stash!). With her departure, I am humbled to have been chosen to fill her position as Cross Cultural Education Coordinator.

With this move comes the news that while I am transitioning into Yvonne's position, I will also be handing over my role as Vancouver/Coastal Adoption Support Coordinator. I will remain a part of the regional team, and continue my contract as your ASC until the springtime. 

I'm looking forward to carrying on and remaining connected with our Vancouver/Coastal families. I hope these relationships and commitments will grow in the months and years to come. I am also looking forward to supporting each of you, and many more families at the educational workshops we offer throughout the year. 

This blog will continue, and the crazy stories won't change. But I wanted to share my excitement as I begin this new role, and wish Yvonne the best in all her future endeavors.  

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's No Fun and Games When You're Stranded in a Parking Lot with Your Arms Caught in a Car Seat, Your T Shirt around your Navel, and a Bus Load of On-Lookers Staring you Down

My favourite car seats went on sale yesterday at Crocodile Baby in Vancouver. They're the top rated seats in Canada, and unfortunately, they have a top rated price tag attached. When we welcomed our son home, my parents were generous enough to buy us a Britax Marathon.

We wanted a second seat for Kevin's truck, and we couldn't pass up a Britax knowing they were on sale. Thankfully we were at a family wedding in Vancouver anyways, so it was no trouble to stop by the store and pick up a seat for my husband's new truck. We decided on the Frontier this time, which is meant for toddlers age 2 and up, and accommodates kids all the way to 100 pound strapping youngsters. It *should* be the last seat we have to purchase for him. They were $40 off (wahoo!) and of course, a final sale.

On Saturday I left our car at Kal Tire to have the front tires replaced, with the intention of picking it up today. Kevin had to work early this morning, but my parents were staying at a hotel nearby, and stopped by our place for breakfast. They had to run directly to the ferry after church, but they offered to drop me at Kal Tire on the way to the service so we could do a quick car seat swap from their minivan to our sedan.

Seemed like a good plan, right?

Wrong. Oh so wrong. So terribly, horribly wrong.

The Frontier fit in my parents' minivan without a hitch. No problem there whatsoever. But I quickly realized - after they drove away and the church parking lot emptied, that it would NOT  fit in my Kia Rio.

It's not that the seat itself was a problem. It was the darn latch system. The LATCHes were too long, so I had to try and use the seatbelt method instead. Oh no. No No No No No. I could not get the darn seat belt to thread through the back of the car seat. It was like trying to thread a needle with a twizzler. I just couldn't get the belt through.

I looked around the parking lot to see if any of the parishioners (many of whom are family friends) might still be there to lend a hand. All I saw was an empty lot. Even the priest had packed up and gone on with his day. It was me, my son, our car, and an incompatible car seat. 

I looked at my watch: 12:15. It was dangerously close to lunch time, precariously close to nap time, and frighteningly close to "I'm gonna have a spaz if you don't get moving" time for our Little Man. I tried again, willing myself not to curse in front of my son or in front of the church. (Both had to be morally offensive, no matter what your religious persuasion.) 

After several foiled attempts, I finally realized that the carseat manual was blocking the route for the seatbelt. No problem, I moved it, and was finally able to try again. It was no easy task to thread the seat belt through the back of the world's broadest car seat in my current condition.

I was so glad no one was there to witness it. I was straddling the seat, with a kicking toddler strapped into it. My left knee was holding the seat belt down so it wouldn't retract halfway through the process. My left arm was caught inside the back of the car seat, trying desperately (despite the fact that my left wrist is seriously injured) to feed the seat belt through to the other side, and my right arm was reaching desperately through the right side trying to grasp the other end of the belt.

At that point two things happened:

A bus pulled up.
And my son decided it would be funny to pull my shirt down. 

I wanted to die, but I didn't want to let go of the belt. There I was, in the parking lot, splayed across a car seat, seemingly wearing not much more than a pink bra and an exasperated look. And there they were. A bus load of Sunday transit users, gawking at the crazy mother at the end of her rope. 

I refused to let go of the belt.

Anyways, at that point I knew I was beat. As the bus pulled away I recovered my shirt and my dignity and called my husband in tears. He was nice enough to leave work and drop off the old car seat and take away the new one. I kind of hope he lights it on fire. 

I wondered what they bus people must be thinking. "Who is that deranged woman? And what on earth is she doing in that car? I wondered if they were jotting down my licence plate number, or who might have had a cell phone with a camera in it. I suppose I should log onto youtube and find out. 

Daddy's New Wheels

My husband's a trooper. But the thought of taking our son to daycare on the bus every morning through another rainy winter was too much. So, after much discussion, Kevin got carte blanche to purchase whatever four wheeled vehicle he wanted, as long as it was under our set budget.

I wasn't quite sure what I expected him to bring home. Maybe a trustworthy Honda Civic, or a four door VW of some sort. I thought *maybe* he'd go for an SUV, and possibly a small pickup truck. SMALL pickup truck. A-hem.  SMALL. 

What he ended up bringing home was a 2006 dodge 1500 quad cab 4X4 with tires taller than our son. It barely (and I do mean BARELY) fits into our parkade. On the roads, it takes up an entire lane, just like the transit buses. A friend joked that if he jumped off the deck (which he likes to threaten lightheartedly to do on occasion), he'll be just fine because the roof of the truck is only 3 centimetres below. 

It's my fault, too. I helped him in his search. I had no idea what I was looking for. I had simple instructions: 
Dodge Ram 1500 or Ford F150
Quad Cab or Crew Cab. 
No more than 7 years old.
No more than 100,000km 
4 x 4.  *must* be a 4x4.

Okay, I could find that, and I did. I think I gave him about thirty trucks to choose from. When we finally went to see the keeper, I didn't notice how genuinely gargantuan it was. 

But THAT wasn't my fault. It was dark out. The truck was parked in the driveway of a giant home out in Langley. Did I mention it was dark out?? Ugh. I had no idea how it would dwarf our little sedan, or make my child look like a hand puppet when he stood, grinning, in the shadow of its overgrown tires.

I tried to drive it. I really did. But I felt like I was driving a tank, and I absolutely failed at parking. "What's that, honey? You want me to reverse into our spot? And NOT hit the posts? And NOT run over your precious motorcycle? I think that's asking a little much." 

I asked Little Man if he liked daddy's truck. "So excited, momma!  Big yuck! Wanna drive it and honka da horn." Unfortunately he's grown to hate our little car now that he's ridden in style in daddy's new ride. And I have to admit, I'm a little jealous.

No, I'm not interested in getting a truck. No way, no how, no thank you. (Remember, I can't even park it.) But I wouldn't mind something a little bigger, and hey, the truck seats six! So that's one more potential kiddo we can welcome home.

Um, hello? Kevin? Are you there? 

Oh well, if he's jumping off the deck, at least now he'll have a safe place to land.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun with H1N1: "Yoooooooooo hooooooooo, Jesus! Where are you? It's time for your shot!"

I try not to jump on the panic bandwagon. I don't even bother following trends if I can help it. I don't have a pair of skinny jeans in my closet. In the 80's I refused to buy into the Hypercolour shirt craze. You might remember them - the shirts that changed colour in the hot spots (and therefore left most wearers with hypercoloured armpits).

So when news of the H1N1 pandemic broke out, I tried not to panic. At the time, I worked at Vancouver International Airport, welcoming visitors from around the world. My mother (Hi Mom) who thrives on panic and can't sleep unless she's worried for a minimum of 3.5 hours a day, called me almost daily.

"Quit your job!"
"Become a hermit!"
"Wash your hands after every passenger!" (are you serious?)
"Put purell on every 3 minutes!"
"Don't help anyone that looks sick!"
"Wear rubber gloves!"
"Call in sick, even if you're not!"

I didn't do any of those things (actually, I didn't have to, as the industry slumped and my job evaporated last June), and I escaped the first outbreak.

But I have the Little Man at home, and now that H1N1 is all over the place, I have to seriously start thinking about him and HIS health, even if I don't worry so much about my own.

So, Mom, you'll be happy to know I got the vaccine yesterday. I waited in line for over two hours, amid a score of pregnant women and a bunch of others who - like me - have a chronic medical condition.

Little Man was good for the first 1.5 hours.... playing with his noisiest toy fire truck (which made all the seniors' hearing aids buzz and confused the heck out of an assistance dog) and flirting with the pregnant ladies and poking at their bellies, saying "what dat?"

The highlight was when we he spotted the religious paintings on the wall.

The flu clinic was held inside a United Church. (Nice little heritage building, by the way). Little Man demanded to know  who was in the "scary picture" which was a bronzed effect version of Jesus' Last Supper. 

"Oh, that's Jesus and his friends, honey."
"Wat dey doing?"
"They're having dinner."
"Potato? Perogies? Pizza?"
"Uh.. I'm not sure. What do you think Jesus liked to eat?"

He thought about it for a moment.

A few minutes went by. The firetruck toy kept sounding. The hearing aids kept buzzing. The assistance dog kept looking worriedly back at us.

All of a sudden the noises stopped, and a tiny voice in the stroller below me called out:

"Yooooooooo hoooooooooooo, Jesus? Where are you? Time for your shot! Yoooooooooooo hoooooooooo, Jesus? Heyyyyyyoooooooo?"

Gotta love him. For the record, Jesus didn't make an appearance (at least not at our clinic). But even now, a few days later, Little Man keeps asking if Jesus is coming over for spaghetti. 

The Best $179.00 Investment We'll Ever Make

Our son is a barfer. He's been called
Little Pukey
Barfosaurus Rex
Up-Chuck Charlie
Cookie Tosser

We had him referred to a paediatrician when he was about year old. He barfed every day -- usually multiple times, and we were concerned for his health.

No esophageal damage, no underlying conditions (other than food sensitivities and allergies to half the human diet). When we kept a food log for a month and took out all possible physiological reasons for the barfathon, it came down to something sinisterly simple: Little Man's barfing was *BEHAVIOURAL*.

Excuse me? Behavioural? How can a one year old even formulate behavioural actions? And why would he choose extreme barfing as his behaviour?

It was simple: he really, REALLY, REALLY loved his bath.

It was a conditioned response. Have dinner (or breakfast, or lunch, or look at a fallen cheerio on the floor) and the barfing would ensue. We'd clean him up, clean IT up, and pop him in the tub. Every time.

No wonder he's obsessed with water and is currently un-toilet-trainable (he's too obsessed with getting IN the toilet rather than making a deposit!). After unconditioning him to the barfing response, he eventually stopped his upchuck antics.

But he's still a Little Puker at heart. The servers at White Spot duck and hide when we enter their restaurant. Although we patronize the place far more than we (or our pocketbooks) should, I think he's only sunk his pirate ship twice. But, it's a small town and a small staff, and quite honestly, we would duck and hide, too, if we knew of his hidden talent! 

Just last week he had a cough. Not a flu, nothing that bothered his stomach or anything. But given any excuse, Little Man will barf, so barf he did. Multiple times. 

Thank God for hardwood. Curses on the builder who put carpet in HIS bedroom, though. Honestly, it's a nursery sized bedroom.... what were they thinking!? 

Anyways, back to the best $179.00 investment we ever made: a powerful little carpet shampooer that does a bang up job of cleaning up after our Little Man.

If anyone else has a Barfer, I highly recommend it... looking back, we should have bought one a year ago! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Advantages of Being an Overly Imaginative Adoptive Mom

Mother, it's best you don't read this entry.
I warned you, Mom.
Are you still here?? Okay, fine. Read it. But don't get excited.
I want another child. I want another sibling for my son, one he can share a toybox with and see on a daily basis. One he can share bunkbeds with, and play tag with, and fight over toys with, and destroy our living room furniture with. I want another kid around to love and smooch over, and take for walks and take to the park.

I don't mind the barfy nights and the fevers and the runny noses. I'm great at doing diaper duty, but it doesn't have to be another wee one this time.

Being an adoptive mom has its advantages when you lie awake at night imaging your next child. Unlike pregnant parents, the options are limitless. We're not stuck with the boring standard options gestating parents face: will it be a boy or a girl? Will they have mom or dad's eye colour? How much will they weight?

Booooooooooooring. My imaginative previews of my next child are far more exciting.

Will it be a boy or a girl? One of each? How about a sibling group or three or four or more? (Weee heee hee! I'm giddy already!)

Will they have blonde hair, brown hair, black hair, no hair? Will they have green hair or purple hair or stand out to here hair?

Will they like pizza or pasta or ice cream or cake?
Will they like riding bikes or swimming or will they like to bake?

I could lie awake forever thinking about the little personality(ies) that are just waiting to join our family.

It just feels like someone is missing, and I'm not sure if now is the right time or not, but my adoptilogical clock is TICK TICK TICKING away.

Mom, stop jumping up and down. Calm down. I warned you....

First I have to convince my husband. And that is no small feat. Yes, he's an awesome dad. Phenomenal. But he also has all those silly concerns that just don't seem to phase me.

"What about a room for the new child?" he will ask. "Well, helloooooooooo, bunk beds?"

"We don't have extraneous income, you know. We don't even have a second car." he'll point out.

"Well we got on fine with one car so far, what's another kid to throw in the mix? Hey, if we adopt a school aged child, he can help you carry the diaper bag when you're on the bus together!"

"Not funny," the husband will say.

"It wasn't supposed to be." I'll counter.

And at that point in the conversation, my husband will as usual trot out his standard response to my "let's have another child!" outburst.

"I'll be on the deck, ready to jump."

Really, honey. That phrase is getting old!! And so are we.... so about that second child..."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How to Tear Up in Twenty Seconds or Less

Little Man is finally getting to the stage where he can carry on simple conversations. They don't follow any set pattern, and are usually interrupted half-way through with whatever urgent need he might have, but we're getting somewhere.

After his bath this morning, Little Man asked to call Grammy's house and "talk to Meggy", his foster sister (foster aunt, I guess, now that he's moved home?). I explained that Meg was moving home to her forever family soon, and he wouldn't be able to call Grammy's house to talk to her anymore. (Meg is an infant, and doesn't 'talk' anyways, but the two enjoy exchanging giggles and coos.) 

Little Man looked upset, and frowned for a minute. "Meg go home? No more Grammy?" I explained again "Meg is moving home to live with her mommy and daddy. But we can call to say good-bye today, and you can call Grammy any time you want to. Grammy will always be there. Just like momma and daddy."

"You me mommy." Little Man said firmly. "Love you for-ever." He commanded, quoting his favourite bed-time story.

"That's right," I said. I could feel the tears welling up already. "Would you like to hear your special story about how you came to join our family?"

Little Man loves stories. "Yay!" he clapped his hands "Special story, Momma!"

And so we talked -- for a record time, I think (about two minutes) about his birth mother, and the special plan she made, and how he went to live with his Grammy and Opa until Momma and Daddy could take him home to live forever.

By this time I had tears running down my face. I was a mess. Little Man, in all his angelic empathy, climbed in my lap and tried to wipe my tears away. (He succeeded only in poking me in the eye, but he meant well.) 

"Is okay, momma." he said. "Have ice cream? Feel bebber?" He got an extra long snuggle for that one. And, I'm sad to admit, we shared a bowl of ice cream at 9:30 in the morning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pirates in our Parkade Magically Make Tuesday into Monday.

Tuesday morning was one confused day of the week. We were attacked by the missing Monday that we THOUGHT we skipped over thanks to Thanksgiving. Nope. We were not spared. It was a Monday by all accounts:

I ran out of conditioner.
I nicked my knee with my razor.
I got a run in my stockings.
I burnt my tongue on my coffee... but not before I ran out of cream.

Despite the attack of the Mondays, we finally got organized, and our trio (hubby, toddler, and me) made our way down to the parkade.

That's when I noticed that pirates had struck. 

"Uh, honey, where's our license plate?"
"What do you mean?" hubby asked, peering over the piles of lunch kits, diaper bag and favourite blankee. "Oh #*@#!)" he muttered.

It was gone. Not fallen off, not hanging off. Not lying conveniently on the floor. Just.... gone. Upon closer inspection, it was clear it had been pirated. There were fresh scratches on our bumper, and bits of residue left where the dealer's frame had once protected our $18 licence plate. (Actually, I suppose that it was only worth $9, but when you steal one, the other becomes useless...)

My instinct was to check the car to make sure it was locked & that nothing was missing. My husband's instinct was to inspect his motorcycle (which I affectionately refer to as his first wife) to make sure she was unharmed. Luckily for us both, the pirate's booty was limited to our rear licence plate.

I was actually a little annoyed that only our car was targeted. Our neighbours' two vehicles, and the piles of furniture our new neighbour had stored temporarily in the communal parkade remained unmolested.


I called the police station, which advised me I had to fill out a report. 
I dropped my husband at work, and went to take my son to his daycare.
Grandma's mini-van was not in the driveway.
I checked my watch: we were half an hour later than normal. What day was it? Monday of course - oh, wait, it was Tuesday.... and on Tuesdays Grandma takes the kids out from 9 til whenever.
I know this. 
But the attack of the Mondays and the pirates in my parkade made it slip my mind.

Okay, off to the insurance place. Tap my foot, wait for the doors to open. We are greeted by the mother of my friend from grade 6. Thankfully, she doesn't recognize me, as I'm at once both bewildered and irritable. (A dangerous combination.) Little Man finds an inkpad in 3.7 seconds. Blue faced (his) and red faced, (mine) I explain why I need new license plates.

"No problem, ma'am. We'll just need the police report number for the paperwork."
Back to the car we go. Shuffling papers, I curse under my breath. Curse in French a little louder for good measure. Find the scrap of paper I'd scribbled the number upon. Return to insurance office. Thrust paperwork towards agent. She smiles "and is this little man the registered owner of the vehicle?"

"No, stupid," I felt like saying. Instead I smiled "My husband's at work. We share the car and today I'm taking it."

"Oh, that's too bad," she said in the least authentic voice I'd ever heard. "He needs to come and sign the papers."

Two hours later, after dragging my husband away from his work, swearing on a stack of Yellow Pages that he was who he said he was (he didn't have any ID on him that day), returning my toddler to Grandma's house (who was as bewildered as I felt as to why we were so late!), I finally got on the road to go to work.

Our receptionist greeted me with a smile when I finally crossed the threshold to our office "Good morning, Sarah" she beamed. "How are you today?" 

"Grumpy!!" I replied. "It's Monday!"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Water Fight At the Infant Development Program

We had a bit of a water fight at our playgroup this week.

On Mondays we attended the Infant Development Playgroup for children age three and under. We got to the group a little early this week. With the room to himself, as soon as I wrestled his coat off of him, Little Man was whipping around the room. He pulled toys off shelves, went head first down the slide, gorged himself on Play-doh ("Not in your mouth, right Momma?") and basically whirled around like the Road Runner on speed.

It didn't help that he was the only child (or maybe it did, as there was no poor babe to get stepped on or bowled over in his rampage). Eventually I was able to catch him and play quietly for a few minutes, but he was entirely overstimulated and overactive.

After a few minutes two other kids arrived, and he settled down a little bit and played nicely. Until the water table came out.

I saw the development worker bring the sink into the carpeted room and thought to myself "No way, it's got to be a sand table. Or it'll be filled with toys, but not water. That's just insane."

I actually said aloud: "Um, I don't think that's a very good idea." but she smiled and shushed me and proceeded to fill the sink with water and toys and invite the three toddlers over to get wet.

The little girls played nicely. My son did not. He loves water so much that we've postponed toilet training. Every time we put him on the potty he tries to get INTO the toilet for a "fun bath, momma!". There was no way a sink full of water and toys suspended next to a carpeted floor was going to end well.

It didn't. Little Man pushed one girl out of the way, and distracted the other by lobbing a ball at her head. He then proceeded to climb up the sink and into the basin. "Oh, no, we stand NEXT to the sink, dear. Out you get." Little Man just looked at her as if to say "Like h*@@! we do!" and proceeded to STAND in the sink.

"Down, down! Out you get!" said the frantic development worker. I warned her, and was taking no part in removing my splashing toddler from the sink. I was NOT going to get wet just because SHE ignored my warning.

So Little Man obeyed. He got down -- actually, he SAT down in the sink. So now we had two wet feet, one wet bum, and one drenched infant development worker.

The sink disappeared soon after. I think I'll dress him in his swim trunks and googles and prep him to ask for "more water table" at the next playgroup session.

On Our Way to M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

Just getting to Disneyland was definitely an experience. We packed the car at 4:30 and were on the road by 5am. Our son (who normally sleeps soundly til 7:30 or so) was utterly confused when we ripped him from his sleep, threw him into a clean change of clothes, and shoved a bottle into his mouth as we walked out the door.

When I buckled him into his carseat I noticed Little Man's hair was in full-out riot mode. Some curls were going south while others were headed north. Most were just standing on end demanding attention. But I was not about to invoke The Rage, so my husband and I, our son, and his beastly hair, headed off the airport.

We made one important stop to pick up my husband's younger brothers. They were standing in the dark at the end of the driveway. The fourteen year old was sleeping standing up, held up only by the gentle breeze and sheer teenage will. The twenty year old was grinning broadly enough to illuminate a city block, but, he, too, looked ready to pass out from exhaustion.

Somehow the five of us made our way to the airport, and had an uneventful trip through check-in and security. I was actually a little annoyed at the lack of trouble we experienced.

I'm no masochist, but I expected a question from somebody along the way. No one questioned why the quintet was travelling together, or who was the legal parent of the fourteen year old. Although I am only 13 years older than him and a mere SEVEN and a half years older than the twenty year old, I cannot count how many times people referred to the boys as "your sons". Even the customs officials, who held the passports with "Mom's" birth year as 1981 and "son's" birth year as 1989 didn't seem to notice.

Assumed old age aside, it was a great journey south. All our luggage arrived, and our little guy slept intermittantly throughout the trip.

That might explain why he poked me in the eye at 11pm and demanded "more fiyerworks, Momma", but that's another story....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Picnic, Chance Meetings, and a Sailing Wait.... It's All in a Day's Work

We had an awesome time at our last summer picnic this weekend. The weather was fantastic -- sunny and not too hot. It was a perfectly delightful opportunity for the kids to catch a few crabs on the beach while their parents got a chance to visit and connect.

This last picnic was hosted at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park just outside of Sechelt. Coming from the VERY south of the lower mainland, I scheduled the picnic for 11am in the hopes that I'd be there in time.

I had a tiny, wee commute from my home to Sechelt. (Please note the sarcasm). It was so wee, in fact, that at 7am I was standing outside the front door of Thrifty Foods, waiting for the doors to open so I could grab our cake and head for the ferry line-up.

At 7:05 I had cake in hand (okay, cake in trunk) and was on my way north to Horseshoe Bay. With a quick stop in Richmond to pick up my predecessor Tanya (who volunteered to join us on the day, hurray!) we were in plenty of time to catch the 9:20 boat to the Sunshine Coast.

I must take a moment to compliment the rabidly grumpy barista at the Horseshoe Bay coffee stand. Although she methodically dumped the tea bag -- string, label, and all -- into my travel mug and complained that there was "Nothing to hang the darn string on!" I forgave her because the cinammon bun she served me (along with my soggy stringed mug of tea) was absolutely out of this world.

It was so delicious, in fact, that people were lined up around the corner to purchase a cinnamon bun and get a complimentary dose of barista abuse in the process. I think I might have dreamed about the bun last night -- which is a good thing, because if you're going to dream about carbs, it had better be worth it. (It was.)

I digress. The ferry was late as usual, which I'm told is in keeping with the manana lifestyle of some of the Sunshine Coast's vibrant residents. We thought we'd be at the park in plenty of time, but I misjudged a turn and we ended up halfway to Halfmoon Bay before I was willing to admit we MIGHT just need directions.

We did make it to the park eventually, and got there in time to help set up our picnic area before any of the parents arrived (and before Heather and Claude -- there representing MCFD and the Sun Coast Foster Parents Support Agency could send out a search party for us).

The families trickled in, and when it was all said and done we had almost 30 people in attendance. Some were fostering, some new adoptive parents, and some had breathed adoption for years and years. One adoptive family was simply visiting the coast for the day and just happened to stumble upon our picnic!

They were so excited to meet us, and they sat right down to join us for cake and juice. It ended up being quite the nice chance meeting, as they had friends who were considering adoption. Now we'll be seeing lots of this new family as help their friends along on their adoption journey.

Tanya & I left in a bit of a rush to try and catch an early ferry home to the mainland. I guess a lot of other people had the same idea, because we ended up with a sailing wait on the way back. (Booooo).

As I'd spent the previous day and most of the evening in Children's Hospital's isolation ward, I was absolutely exhausted. I put the car in park and closed my eyes for a few 'seconds'. An hour later, I woke up drooling in the fetal position, with Tanya nowhere to be found. Poor Tanya. She must think I'm an absolute horror-host after that little display. She wisely decided to go for a bit of a walk and enjoy the fresh coastal air.

We caught the next ferry home, and were glad to be back on the mainland after a busy day on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Although I love the setting up there, I must admit that coming and going can be a bit of an incredible journey! Thank you Sechelt, for being such a great host to us on Sunday. :)