Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Play by Play...

Some of y'all have been asking my wife how the phone conversation went with FOI when we got our travel date. Looking for a bit of "play by play" action... I'll detail it as best as I can below.

Wife: yadda yadda yadda...
Me: uh-huh...
Wife: blah blah blah...
Me: Oh yea?
Wife: yak yak add the new addition to the house yak...
Me: Sounds geed... er hey wha *RING* *RING* *RING*

Phew! Saved by the telephone...

Me: Hello?
Voice on Phone: Ah, hello? Is dis Ahdrian Berzenski?

Oh great... some tele-marketer, thinks I. These people really drive me nuts sometimes. I don't mind what they do, I mean, its a job. So thats all fine and dandy. Oh but they get so pushy sometimes! I should just hang up...

Yea, this is Adrian.

... maybe its some poor university student just trying to make ends meet... no need to be rude. Just you know, let her down gently.

This is Yulin from FOI.

... or, maybe its the director from the adoption agency we are dealing with. So hard to tell them apart sometimes.

Oh! Great!
Yulin: Yes, um, I sent you an email today about your approval.

Oh no! She did! Said it would be after Oct the 8th! Its gonna be later. OH SNAP! She's calling because Oct the 8th was wrong! The paper work got lost AGAIN... ARRRGH!

We had expected that the approval would be processed after Oct the 8th.

Oh NO! Wait! Roberta went online and TOLD people we received Oct 8th as a date! Was she not supposed to DO THAT?! Was that BAD?!

Who is it?! Who is it?!
Me: Yulin! I think shes mad cuz you posted about Oct 8th!
Wife: WHAT?! How could she know that?!
Yulin: Well, we just got a phone call from the CCAA about your approval.

OH NO!!! Why would they call about our approval?! It didn't just get lost! If it was LOST we would have heard nothing. We've been DECLINED?! WHAT?! How could this happen?!?!

Oh right, yea, our approval. We did ask that you look into it to make sure everything was proceeding OK.
Yulin: They said they just put it in the mail yesterday.
Me: Yesterday? So, we've been approved?! What dose that mean?

Wife starts jumping up and down and crying and screaming!

Yulin: That means that you will get to travel in November!
Wife: Whats she saying?!?! Whats she SAYING?!
Me: That we will be able to travel in November!
Wife: TEEHEE HEHEHE! *sob* BWHAHAHAHAhahahahahaaaa! *cry*

Okay, stay calm... so we've been approved... the papers are in the mail. We get to travel in November. WE GET TO TRAVEL IN NOVEMBER!!!

Yulin: I know my hearing is not that great anymore, but I think I can hear your wife.
Me: Yea, she is happy! No wait, she's crying.
Wife: Its a happy cry!
Me: Oh, she says its a happy cry. So hard to tell them apart sometimes.
Wife: Ask if we get to go with the Nov 13th group!? I know people going on the Nov 13th group?!
Me: Are we going to be able to travel with the Nov 13th group?
Yulin: Ah, no.
Me: Sorry, she said no. Maybe later in the month.
Wife: Oh, that's too bad. Cuz I know people!
Me: Yes, I know you know people. People like you.

Okay! Great! So no paper work has been lost... we aren't in trouble... this is GREAT! Good stuff! Phew! I was scared there for a bit.

Yulin: Oh wait, the group leaves on Nov 11th - is that the group you mean? They have to be in Beijing by the 14th. Can you be in Beijing by the 14th?
Me: Oh yes! We can be in Beijing by the 14th!
Wife: tee-heeeee! *sob*
Yulin: Excellent, then the LSC should arrive from China in a week, you sign that, sign some more papers for Ontario. Also, our travel agent will contact you soon and sort the travel out.
Me: Awesome! Thank you SO much Yulin!!
Yulin: Okay - bye bye.

Hangs up... wow. WOW. Nov 11th!

Wife: Okay! We have to go book tickets NOW!
Me: Well thier travel agent will contact us and sort all the dates out. So we don't buy anything just yet.
Wife: I'm so calm! I'm totally calm! I'm always calm when things go crazy like that!
Me: Yea, you were pretty calm. Not screaming, crying or jumping around at all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travel Date!!! Nov 11th!!!

In a rather shocking turn of events, we have been told that the CCAA has put our approval in the mail two days ago!!!

That means we get to travel to pick up Ping well before we were expecting to!

Yulin says that we will be able to travel with the Nov group - we have to arrive in Beijing by the 14th of November!

We told the kids this morning - and they were all exciting and cheering!

Maybe once the shock wears off, and we stop screaming, crying, laughing, hugging, jumping, etc... I will think of something clever and witty to say.

Until then however, YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!! :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

LOA - Early Oct?!

Care package sent to Ping in China: 60$
New Master Bedroom Closet (for Ping, of course): 250$
Finding out our LOA may be Early Oct? Priceless.

Yes, we hear a rumor that our LOA may be processed Early Oct.
That means, if all goes well, travel could be Mid/Late Nov!


So excited! Ping may be home for Christmas with US! :-)

... sometimes Amazed.

I was thinking of calling this post "Oh great, my wife is crying... again", but I think sometimes amazed is so much more accurate.

It's getting hard to stay so darned manly, rough and rugged when people are being so darned supportive. Yup, if I were not so Chuck Norris-ish, I'm sure I would have shed a tear or two this last week.

The past week, we got together with a couple of families we met through the PRIDE course. We were under the assumption that it was just another dinner out at a friends place talking about the adoption and encouraging each other along our journeys.

But much to our surprise, they had prepared a Baby Shower for Ping! There were presents, and gifts, dolls, and teddy bears. Clothes and balloons and so many toys! This was truly amazing. The whole night was. I think my wife had already resigned herself to the fact that no one was going to throw her a Baby Shower. Maybe it sounds like a small thing, but ask any expectant mother, and it is no small thing to have people remember your baby (regardless if it is your 1st baby or not).

Even beyond the typical shower stuff, the whole night was amazing. From the food (oh the food!), gifts, conversations, to the older children playing so nicely with the younger ones... the whole night was amazing.

So Thank-You to our friends!

Sometimes I'm humbled, and other times I'm amazed by people. This was yet another one of those times.

Sometimes Humbled...

As some may know, we are in the process of adopting a child.

What some may not know, however, that this is a very expensive endeavor. We have had a very close friend of ours who have decided that all the money they make from their 2nd job will go to help with the costs of our adoption.

Our friend doesn't even get to see her pay check. We just got a letter in the mail from the employer with a hand written note saying that our friend directed them to send the check right to us.

How do you Thank someone who is willing to give "everything they make" to help you out?

Its not that this is a rich family which has money to burn... unless they really are rich and just haven't ever told me... (in which case, can I get a new car?). But a family much like most of us, at times, struggling to make ends meet... yet still willing to give. And give to a cause which isn't even theirs.

If I were on the outside looking in, this is one of those wonderful feel good stories - one that encourages you in humanity and our ability to give, care, and an example of what can really set good people apart from the selfish masses. A wonderful act of generosity and self sacrifice... but being in the middle of it, I am just amazed and humbled that there are people like that... people who God has put in our lives who are willing to come along side and walk with you through all of lives journeys.

And after many months of struggling with decisions, finances and comments from people around us (comments which I'm sure were meant in love, but really were just not encouraging) and feeling like the whole adoption was going to be an up hill fight by ourselves, it is so very encouraging to know that there are those walking with us - and walking with us in more than just shallow words, but getting their hands dirty and helping carry the burden.

So there you have it... I am amazed, and some times humbled by the actions of others.

This is one of those times.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hugs and Kisses Powered

Daughters are great.
Sons are great too. Don't get me wrong.
I love my boys.
However, I don't think they were much over 12 minutes old before they didn't want to get hugged anymore.
They still let their Mom give 'em hugs and kisses, but dear old Dad has been reduced to high 5s and maybe a shot in the arm.

You could see the natural progression of 'coolness' with the boys, I'm pretty sure this is what was running through their heads:
  1. Yes Dad can give me a hug and a kiss! I love my Mom and Dad!
  2. Fine, Dad, if you REALLY have to give me a hug and a kiss... fine. But I'm not gonna like it!
  3. What? Dad wants a hug before he goes to work... fine, I'll like, lean against him. I'm not hugging you back.
  4. Dads leaving for work?! Quick, HIDE! He's gonna want a hug!
I won't even talk about trying to get a hug from the wife. :-)

Okay, maybe its not THAT bad. But you get the point.

This lead to really the only one logical conclusion in fixing this situation:
  • I needed a daughter!

I needed SOMEONE who would make sure I could get a hug before leaving for work in the morning!

It is the cutest thing ever now as our Kid #3 (our daughter) will run to the door when I am leaving for work and remind me that "Daddies are Hugs and Kisses Powered!" - and then make sure that I get enough hugs and kisses to get me through the day.

There is the odd day where I get off to work before she has a chance to hug me, and when I come home, shes comes running to the door reminding me that I forgot my hugs and kisses, and asking if I had enough "power" for the day. Of course I tell her "no, I was very tired", and she proceeds to give me hugs to make sure I have enough power for whats left.

This is all very cute and adorable. But a while ago, I realized that there may be some "jealousy" issues when Ping arrives.

The boys and I have a great relationship - we do stuff together, hang out, talk, build robots, play games, etc. But with our daughter, it has been different, cuz she has been the only girl. So she hasn't really had to 'share' me before.

Kid #3 wouldn't care if I was building a Robot with Kids #1 + #2. But would she care if I was giving hugs and kisses to Ping when she arrives?

So I started talking to her at bed time about sharing rooms, and sharing toys, and sharing stuff. Kid #3 really is so excited for Ping to arrive! She talks about Pings. Is already collecting toys and dolls for Ping. But when I mentioned that she would have to share her Daddy... well... that didn't go over so well. She was trying to be funny laughing as she said "Nope! I don't have to share my Daddy!". I told her she defiantly DID have to share her Daddy, but that this was a good thing.

The conversation went from there and ended well. She is super excited to have Ping come as quickly as possible, I think she is really looking forward to having a "sister".

But that doesn't mean I'm gonna stop praying for Ping to have an easy transition into the family.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

eBay Distractions

Me: Adrian Berzenji, how may I...
Wife: Hey! Guess what?!
Me: What?
Wife: I found some Tupperware!
Me: Really? Tupperware eh. Good stuff. I didn't really know we were looking for Tupperware though.
Wife: Yea! And lots of it!
Me: Thats great. You called me at work to tell me you found Tupperwear?
Wife: Yea! Its all the Tupperware from when I was a kid!
Me: So, you actually found... 30 year old Tupperware.
Wife: Isn't that great!?
Me: Yea... great. Oh look, my Manager just walked in... gotta go.

... a little while later ...

Wife: Guess what?!
Me: More Tupperware?
Wife: YES! And its the camping stuff this time.
Me: Terrific... so, where are you finding this?
Wife: eBay!
Me: Oh... you kno...
Wife: Oh hold on! I gotta go! I gotta call Marg! *click*

... a little while later again ...

Me: Good afternoon, Adrian Berzenji spe...
Wife: Do you have an American Address?
Me: Uh, no. I do have a 2nd wife in Utah... I can ask if we can use her address.
Wife: *click*

... a little while later again ... again ...

Wife: Margs in!
Me: Margs in? What do you mean Margs in? How much Tupperware are you buying that people have to be "in"? Last time I said someone was "in" they were helping me hide a body.
Wife: Well, the eBay people wont ship to Canada...
Me: So you have to hide the eBay sellers body?
Wife: ... and we don't have an American Address.
Me: Right. Thats why we are having my 2nd wife in Utah help...
Wife: ... but Marg knows someone with an American Address!
Me: She's quite lovely. I think you would like her...
Wife: Do you know how much it would cost to ship 30 pounds of Tupperware to Canada?
Me: ... and we have 17 children.
Wife: *click*
Me: *siiiigh*

See, I think my wife is starting to loose it. Getting a little stir crazy.
Now, I could be wrong... but I think she has gone well past the 'nesting phase' and is entering into new and uncharted territories.
We've had 3 children already.
That's like, a combined total of 27 months of pregnancy.
But I do think this is harder on her.

She has already been nesting by having:
  1. redone the kitchen
  2. redone the windows
  3. repainted the interiour of the house
  4. moved the children's rooms
  5. repainted the children's rooms
  6. refurnished the children's rooms
  7. painted the exteriour of the house
  8. painted the doors
  9. ... and I'm sure the list goes on.

Now, now she is distracting herself with eBay.

This is not going to end well.

I need someone to post a lot of Tupperware for sale on eBay... and say you will ship to Canada.
Then... after she bids, just don't ship the Tupperware! See! Brilliant! Problem solved. :-)

Similarity, we were at a school fundraiser, and she was bidding on some Design Consultation services... it is not that I mind having a designer coming to the house to evaluate things... its the 5000$ Shoe Rack that I'm going to have to buy that is the issue.

So, maybe I'll start a fund to help pay for the eBay distractions...
... but I'll do that later.

Right now, I have to go cut the internet connection.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Me I Understand... Her? Not so much.

I get me.
I do.
It took me a few years.
But I think I finally get me.
Or at least I tell myself that I get me.
I mean, I should get me.
Goodness I've been me long enough.

I know I'm happy to be the one that people tend to over look... to forget about... or to under estimate. I know there is a little part of me that enjoys feeling like the odds are against me, the under dog, the Rocky Balboa in what ever I am fighting.
But I also know I am OK with that, because I have good self confidence (to be honest, if you looked as good as I did, then you too would have tonnes of self confidence!) :-)
I think once people get to know me, then they see there is far more than this rather unimpressive front I put on. Some people put on fronts to impress those around them, I tend to put on a front so people don't notice me... until they get to know me.
All that to say, I get me.

Because I get me, I also get Kid #1. Kid #1 is very much like me. Walks like me. Talks like me. Looks like me... okay, looks like the Mail Man, but he still talks and walks like me. The mail man has a limp, one leg is shorter than the other. But Kid #1 also has this tendency to think the world is against him at times, that he is maybe a little moodie at times, etc. And because of that, I get him.

Kid #2 however, well, he is alot like his mother. We caught him in a fist fight with a door when he was about 2 years old. He was playing in his toy room when the door slowly closed and bumped him on the back of the head. Well he jumped up, shoved the door back as hard as he could... and it bounced back and whacked him again! He screamed at the door in his little two year old gibberish (I think he said "stupid door", but it also could have been "flying purple monkey lockers". It was pre-speech therapy... remind me to blog about THAT sometime) and once again pushed it back as hard as he could. Well, the laws of Physics did not change that much in the 42 seconds that it took for this all to happen, soooooo... once again the door swung back and hit him. Mean while down stairs, me and the Wife were trying to figure out what this "whump-aaaaaahhhh-whack-bang-stupid door" ruckas was all about. When we peaked around the corner, I think we were both to busy laughing to actually try to stop him. Kid #2 stood his ground, eventually I had to separate child and door before things deteriorated any farther. And all that to say, I get him too.

Now, Kid #3, our 1st daughter I do get. But in a different way. She is like, the opposite of me in almost every regard. She is so capable for a 5 year old it is scary. If I were hanging off a cliff, and my oldest 3 (lovely) children were standing on the edge of the cliff looking down at me, I would ask her... the 5 year old to go for help. Don't get me wrong, the two boys would love to help! Kid #1 would run off with the best intentions of finding his mother to help me down from the cliff... but along the way, he would encounter a book, or a new Star Wars/Star Trek toy and be lost in his own little world while I dangle helplessly awaiting a rescue. Kid #2 would take off running with the best intentions and find a stick... or a rock... he loves rocks, along the way, and once again, I would be left to fend for myself. And if by some chance Kid #2 ever did actually get to his Mother, he would have probably forgotten why he was looking for her in the 1st place. Now, Kid #3, my 5 year old daughter... she would take off running and find her mother no matter what. She may have to portage a canoe across 1/2 the Canadian Shield, get on an airplane and fly to Brazil (learning Braziliniese on the way) and drag her Mother back to the cliff to help save me. But again, all that to say, I know my Kid #3.

My Wife... her... not so much. Actually, after being together for ... lets see, carry the one... add another one... about 16 years, I know her quite well. She excels in areas where I struggle. And after 16 years of paying attention, I get her as well.

Now Ping. Ping I'm lost.
It took me:
  • 5 years to figure out Kid #3
  • 9 years to figure out Kid #2
  • going on 11 years Kid #1
  • 16 years on Wife
  • and 33 years figuring out myself

Ping already has a 4 year head start on figuring herself out... which means, I'm 4 years behind knowing her.

But that's OK. I guess really, all that means is that I'm gonna have to work extra hard to figure her out...

... or, maybe not.

33 years knowing me, and I guess I'm still figuring me out.
16 years figuring out my wife... and who am I kidding... all I know, is bring Chocolate, make the bed in the morning, remember to take out the garbage.

I guess we never really stop learning about each other, or ourselves. I think that's one of the things which makes life fun. If I ever really did figure out my wife, yes there may be more harmony in the household, yes things may get done alot easier, yes there may be less strife, suffering, gnashing of teeth... but what would be the fun in that?

What all this means is that I'm going to have the fun of figuring out those 4 years once I meet her... and then keep figuring her out for the next 80+ years. And re-figuring her out time and time again as she enters each new stage of life. I'm pretty she she will have figured me out in the 1st week. Just give Dad lots of cookies, and he is happy (maybe, when she is ready, we can replace the cookies with hugs, because I know me (and as Kid #3 likes to point out every morning before I go to work "Daddy is Hugs and Kisses Powered") and I can't wait until I get to hug Ping).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If My Arms Could Reach To China

NOTE: I process things through music, its just my way. While I was playing guitar tonight, these simple words just came flooding out of the music. I'm not saying they are good words, nor good music, but the music helps me process "stuff". And since I have a blog, and you have decided to read it, I shall subject you to it. :-)

If my arms could reach to China,
I'd wrap you up tonight.
And if my heart could soar to the heavens,
I'd be with you tonight.

How much longer must I wait?
One day is just to long.

While you're sleeping in China,
You're my dream come true.
While I'm waking in this waiting,
I'm still dreaming of you.

How much longer must I wait?
To hold you in these arms?

Cuz when my arms reach to China,
All ours dreams are true.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thanks for the Chaos!

Well, its been a pretty busy couple of weeks at work. And I'm actually pretty thankful for that.
Mostly because it has provided a distraction from the constant 'calendar watching'.

Don't get me wrong, I still know we are 6 weeks into waiting for our LOA... but the 1st 4 weeks went a lot slower than these last 2 weeks... they just flew by in comparison.

So yea, Thanks for the chaos. It helps time go by.

I wonder though, how is the chaos for those families who went to China recently to meet their children for the 1st time?

Is time flying by for them? Do they even remember what day of the week it is?
Or is time crawling by as they soak in every possible moment just staring at their new child?
Is the chaos stressful? Scary? Enjoyable?

And what is the chaos for the little ones?
Are they excited and scared at the same time?
Are the days rushing by as they meet their new parents, say good bye to friends (Okay, maybe the 9 month old new born won't be saying good bye, but those who are adopting toddlers)?

Chaos! Glorious Chaos! The rusing around to and fro, government offices, embassies, paper work, the Great Wall, more paper work, not understanding a darned thing anyone says (even when they do speak English), finding out what it was that you just ate, more paper work, more travel, regretting that you even asked to find out what it was that you just ate...

Oh the chaos!

I can not imagine what it will be like to be in China finally meeting Ping.
I can not wait for it (although, I have to).
I am sure that it will be chaos, controlled chaos (hopefully), but I can't wait for it.

I guess some chaos we run from, longing for a sense of stability and rightness...

I can't speak for every adoptive parent out there, but I know for myself, this is one big ball of chaos that I can't wait to run into heart first!

PS: The picture of my wife grinning so innocently above, how is that related to chaos you may ask? Well, next to this whole adoption thingy, she is the biggest ball of chaos I've ever met. Huh, I guess I really do love chaos. :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Here we go again

Off to school!
The young ones are starting up with school again tomorrow.
A new day of new schools, new kids, new friends, new teachers, new... new...

I am constantly amazed at how adaptable our children are. In all honestly, if every year I had to go to a new office, with new people (some old, some new), with new tasks, having to learn and stretch myself so much farther than I did the year before... wow. No thank you. I live my comfort level... I feel safe here. (Actually that's not really true... comfort scares me, so to mediocrity)

I think that much 'newness' would really mess me up.

But here our children soldier out there... bravely climb on a new bus, with a new bus driver, sitting beside some other new nervous kid (who probably still has breakfast smeared across their face), and together, with total strangers, they start yet another new school year.


And as parents, we worry about our children. Are they going to get along with the other kids. Are they going to do well in school. Are they... are they... are they.

But at the end of the day, I know they will. Because I have this (misguided?) belief that I* raised them well, they know they are loved, they know they are amazing, and they should (hopefully) know that no matter what they do in life, they are always going to be able to come home to open loving arms waiting to wrap them up and help them grow.

But that isn't the whole story. I also believe that our children, have this amazing adaptability to overcome situations which would reduce us mere adults to ruin. This inner strength, this innocent belief that they will succeed in life, that they are to have a good life, and they will conquer and win... "Life" has not worn them down... (hopefully never).

What about Ping? I have the utmost confidence that we will be able to pour as much love (if not more) into her as we have with our previous children... but what of her innocent belief that she will succeed, have a good life, win and conquer all that she tries. Has "life" worn her down at the tender age of 3 1/2?!

Oh goodness I pray not.

And if so, I also pray we have the wisdom to restore what ever "life" may have eroded away.
Actually, I want to do more than just restore... I want to restore, and then add so much more back than what she ever may have lost.

And in a year from now, when I look back on this, maybe (no, I HOPE) it will be me who is the one that will have grown, from the example of a 3 1/2 year old who was able to move 1/2 way around the world, and build for herself a life filled with joy and happiness. If she can do that, then surely, I better not complain about the little hic-ups I have in life, and learn to be more resilient. :-)

Learn to be more like our children.

* = I'm sure my wife would argue that any good parenting was the result of "her"