Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Didn't EAT Your Skittles!

Doesn't that look like a face that would believe her father?! Hmmm... maybe not.

Nov 2007...
Kid #1: Dad, did you eat our Skittles?
Me: What? Me? Would I eat your Skittles?!
Kid #2: Yes.
Me: Hmmmm... although I could see why you would think that. I did not eat your Skittles.
Kid #1: Dad totally ate our Skittles!
Kid #3: Why Daddy?! Why would you eat our Skittles?!
Me: I didn't EAT your Skittles!
Kid #1: Right.
Me: I didn't! Wife, tell them what happened to their Skittles...
Wife: You ate them.
Me: Barabbas!
Wife: You're such a moron. I think you meant to call me Brutus.

... a couple months later... in a grocery store...
Kid #2: Oooooh! Look - Skittles! Can I buy them?
Me: No.
Kid #2: Why not?
Kid #1: Because Dad would just eat them anyway.
Me: I didn't EAT your Skittles!

... a few months later...
Kid #1: Hey Dad, can I have 2$?
Me: What? No. Why.
Kid #1: Because you ATE my Skittles!

... present day...
Kid #2: Dad...
Me: I DIDN'T EAT YOUR SKITTLES! But I'll tell you what, I think I'm gonna go to the store RIGHT now and buy a bag... then I'm gonna sit your little Skittle Deprived Bums down on the couch and watch me as I EAT them ALL! So help me if you are going to keep bugging me about EATing your Skittles, I'm going to actually EAT your Skittles so at least I deserve the harassment!
Kid #2: *sob* ... I just wanted to give you this picture I drew of you...
Me: *ashamed* Oh. Look. I'm so sorry... I didn't mean that... I shou...
Kid #2: ... a picture of you EATING MY SKITTLES!

She's had it with my excuses...

See, what really happened was that we got a Wii back in Nov of 2007. Normally that would have nothing to do with Skittles... but in this story, it is totally relevant. With the Wii comes Wii-addiictiion... especiialy to that darned soul sucking Wii Teniis game. For about the next two weeks after getting that iinfernal machiine, I was unable to do up my seat belt because my swinging arm was too sore to pull the belt across my chest.

... normally my complete and utter lack of any physical prowess is somewhat un-related to any story related to Skittles, but its all working into the greater picture here, so stay with me.

While I was busy giving myself Wii-itis... my wife and our two friends who were over were busy eating the children's Skittles. I know I didn't have them... cuz I was busy with the Wii... for two weeks... non-stop (for those who had to work with me for those 2 weeks, sorry about the smell). Obviously, no time for Skittles!

Et tu Brutus?

Somewhere over the past almost 2 years, my Wife has admitted to being the one who ate the Skittles ... but the children refuse to believe her. They think I put her up to admitting it.

There are alot of things to unpack in that story:
1) My children think I'm the type of father who would steal thier candy.
2) My children think I'm cunning enough to force thier own mother to lie to them.
3) I may have a mild Wii-addiction which I will have to deal with at some time in my life before it ruins our family and forces us to live in a van down by the river because I lost our house in an online game of Mario Cart.
4) No matter what I say, my children refuse to believe me.

Still not convinced...

I can deal with #'s 1,2 + 3... really I can. Because I may just be the type of father to eat thier candy... and maybe I would ask my wife to cover up ala Skittle-gate... and we could get a very nice van.

But #4 is what is troubling me.

If I can not convince my children of the past 11, 9 or 5 (and a 1/2) years that I didn't eat their Skittles...

... what hope do I have to convince a 4 year old Chinese girl that she is loved and truly part of this family?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh, Hello Mr. Doom... it's been a while.

Just when you think you've got it all together... man.
For the last couple of weeks, I've felt INVINCIBLE!
Yes sir. Everything was going my way.
Work... great. Exciting and fun.
Family... great. Kids are enjoying school and all that good stuff.
Wife... well, she hasn't tried changing the locks yet, so I consider that a win.
Adoption... everything is progressing so nicely...

... Huh? Whats that you say? Hold on... this little nagging/annoying feeling of Impending Doom is trying to tell me something.

A few Weeks Ago...
Doom: Dude!
Me: Hey Doom. How'ya doing. Haven't seen you in a while. You doing well?
Doom: Yea... That's okay tho, I know you've been busy. Running around... thinking life is all great and stuff.
Me: Yeeeea. Its a nice feeling from time to time.
Doom: Oh good. Glad you are enjoying it.
Me: Yup.
Doom: Hey, do you remember the time where I lost your Adoption Paper work for 3 months? And NO ONE knew where it was?
Me: HaHA! Oh yea... that was AWESOME. Good times... yup... good times.
Doom: Hey, how is your China VISA doing? I mean, your Passport photo got rejected twice... your Kid #1 had his photo rejected like 5 times.
Me: Yea, the photos were fun. I especially liked the way we had to get my sons photo re-taken the 5 times, and I had to miss like 2 days of work to get it all sorted out. But Mike from the agency emailed, said that he got the Visa packages from us. So everything is good.
Doom: Reeeeeally? Did he SAY everything was good?
Me: Well... umm.... no. He just said that he GOT the info from us.
Doom: So there COULD be something wrong still.
Me: You know what Doom. Its over between us. You really have to let it go man. You can't work your way back into my life. Everything is going great!
Doom: ... that hurts man. Didn't what we have MEAN anything to you?
Me: Well, it meant something at the time. Just because I don't want Doom and Chaos in my life right now, dosn't mean that I didn't enjoy it back then.
Doom: Why are you bringing my cousin into this?
Me: I'm not. Let it go.
Doom: Fine. But you cut me deep Berzenji... you cut me deep.

... a couple weeks later...
Doom: Dude!
Me: Oh, hey.
Doom: Here, I've got something for you.
Me: Really? Oh Doom, you shouldn't have. I can't accept your gift.
Doom: No no, its no problem. Its just something to remember me by.
Me: Oh, all right... for old times sake.
*I foolishly take the package*
Me: Damn.

It almost doesn't seem to matter what I try to do in life. Man, if I could just catch a freaking break sometime, I would be thrilled!

Well. I'm gonna to toss this package in the garbage, I don't want it, don't need it.

And once the panic subsides... and my stomach settles down... I'm going to start going over my paper work, and numbers, *again* and try to see how I missed just an obvious error, and find a way to once again make sure everything is still lined up for our trip to China.

The roller coaster ride doesn't slow down close to the end... I think it definitely gets faster.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why I'm Nervous to Fly

I think I'm a pretty good looking guy. Distinguished, regal... maybe a little rough and rugged. Maybe a little TOO Rough and Rugged?

If someone were to ask me why I would be nervous to travel to China, it would not be the foreign country, the armed guards, the language barrier, the "food/water" issues, the jet lag, the lost luggage... nay, it would not be ANY of those things...

A Few Flights ago...
Me: Yup, that's right. Going to Vancouver for work.
Airport Security Slacker (ASS): Uh-huh. Walk though slowly please.
Me: Sure.
Damned Machine Hates Me (DMHM): BEEP BEEP BEEP!
ASS: Sir, back up and try to walk though again.
Me: Sure.
ASS: Sir, do you have anything metal in your pockets?
Me: No.
ASS: Are you wearing a belt?
Me: Ah, yes.
ASS: Take off your belt please and walk through again.
Me: Sure.
ASS: Get Bubba! We've got a Pat Down! WHOOOOOO!!!!
Me: Damn. Not again.

Many Weeks Later...
Me: Yup, going to Winnipeg.
ASS: Uh-huh. Walk though slowly please.
Me: Sure.
ASS: Sir, back up and come though again.
Me: Sure.
ASS: Sir, are do you have anything metal in your pockets?
Me: No.
ASS: Are you wearing a belt?
Me: Nope! I put it through the machine.
ASS: Step over here sir, undo your pants... and take off your shoes...
Me: Damn.

A few Weeks Later...
Me: Yup, going to Toronto!
ASS: Uh-huh. Walk though slowly please.
Me: Just so you know, the machine is going to BEEP BEEP BEEP on me.
ASS: Uh-huh.
Me: Yea, um, I think it dosn't like me.
ASS: Uh-huh. Did you empty your pockets?
Me: Yes.
ASS: Remove your belt?
Me: Yes.
ASS: Remove your shoes?
Me: Yes.
ASS: Well, you should be fine then.
Me: Sure.
Me: Oh you have GOT to be KIDDING ME!
Me: Damn.

Another Few Weeks Later...
Me: Yup, going to Vancouver again. Work. Yes, I will walk though slowly. But before I do, look, I've emptied my pockets, here is my belt, and my shoes... and you know what, here are my glasses as well.
ASS: Uh-huh. Walk though slowly please.
DMHM: ... silence ... absolute beautiful silence!
Me: YES!!!
ASS: Sir, is this your bag.
Me: Uh, yes.
ASS: What is this in your bag? *points to a rather dangerous looking blade on the X-RAY screen*
Me: Uh... I dont... know.
ASS: Did you ever leave your bag alone?
Me: No, we've grown pretty close over the years. I think my bag has an attachment disorder. Dosn't like to be left alone.
ASS: Uh-huh. BUBBA!!!
Me: Damn.
... some time later ...
Me: Can I have my bag back yet?
ASS: Nope. We're cutting it open.
Me: WHAT?!
ASS: You've hidden a blade in the inside lining of your bag. We're cutting it out.
Me: No I haven't! Look! *I take out a folder from my back* Run the bag through the scanner again.
ASS: *runs it through the scanner* Hmmmmm... the blade is gone.
Me: Right. See, my file folder here, it has a metal clip on the inside! Thats what you were seeing on the screen.
ASS: Well, there could still be a blade in there.
Me: Oh c'mon! I'm holding the blade in my hand!
ASS #2: He has a blade?!?! BUBBAAAAA!!!!
Me: Damn.

A few Weeks Later...
Me: Yup, returning to Canada. Yea, I was here for work.
British ASS: Uh-huh. Walk though slowly please.
Me: Sure.
British DMHM: ... silence ...
B-ASS: Thank you sir... have a nice day.
Me: What? Thats it? You don't wanna call Bubba?
B-ASS: Bubba... sir?
Me: I didn't set off any bells... alarms... nothing went BEEP BEEP BEEP?
B-ASS: No sir.
Me: So I can go?
B-ASS: Yes, sir. I would prefer it if you did indeed ... go.
Me: Wow. Thats GREAT! You British ASSes are so much nicer than the Canadian ASSes I have to deal with all the time.
* starts walking down the tunnel towards the aircraft *
Wow... I got through security... and no problems! Yay!
That was nice.
This is what it must feel like to be a cute white woman... they never get stopped... what ho?
Is someone yelling?
Yes... someone IS yelling.
Oh look!
2 B-ASSes charging towards the airplane... and they look quite MAD.
I wonder who the poor ciminal is wh... oh whats, this... they seem to be heading my way!
Oh I should move out of the way...
Why are they yelling at me to "stop moving"?!?!
Me: Damn.
* sometime later*
Me: Look, I've really enjoyed my stay here in England. And I really do appreciate you dumping all of my bags out here in the middle of the airport floor... but my plane is leaving now, and I'm missing my boarding call.
B-ASS: Uh-huh. You can go.
Me: Great. Um... do you want to help pick up all my stuff you've dumped and strewn around the floor?
B-ASS: Good Day sir.
Me: Damn.

Now, I've complained about this to my family and friends time and time again... and they laugh and think its funny and that I exaggerate the whole situation... sadly, I don't. The last time me, the wife and 3 kids traveled to Winnipeg by air, it happened again... The Wife just took the Kids and ran off ahead so they didn't have to wonder what the heck is Bubba doing to Dad?! But they still were asking "Whats happening to Daddy? Where is Dad?"

On the next trip, when leaving Winnipeg, my Dad dropped me off at the airport, and watched while I went through the ASSes Lair... and once again, I got the Royal Pat Down. My Dad called me once I landed in Ottawa just to see what that was all about, cuz he hadn't seen people pulled out of a line like that before ("Oh nothing Dad, thats just normal for me").

Sadly, its just the way I travel. I donno what it is.

Maybe I look like a criminal? I donno. But I think it has to do with my last name - apparently, it is a popular Northern Iraqi name. Not that we racially profile people here in Canada tho... Oh no. Ah well.

So, am I worried about Traveling to China? Sure. But not for the reasons expected. :-)

But hey, if I DO end up in a Chinese Prison somewhere in outer Mongolia... make sure you guys write me.

How do you say "I'm not Bubba's type!" in Mandarin anyway? :-)

Gifts for the Orphanage

I know my wife has dug up a bunch of interesting ideas for Orphanage gifts, from Cleft Pallet Bottles to Canadian Whiskey. I was talking to a buddy the other day about our upcoming trip to China, and mentioned that we were in the process of tracking down some gifts for the Orphanage...

Buddy: So where are you with the whole process? Are you getting your bags packed yet?
Me: Well, no. Kind of. The wife is starting to organize stuff... like getting gifts lined up for the Orphanage and stuff.
Buddy: Oh, so is that part of the agreement? To bring gifts?
Me: Not really. I mean, most people do seem to bring gifts. But I think its just a natural instinct.
Buddy: *munching on some chicken wings* Ghuwhy?
Me: I think its the realization that any one of those children could have been my child. You really, or at least I really wound up feeling like all the kids at the orphanage are some how connected with our story now.
Buddy: Muha, das coul.
Me: Also, these children are not just nameless children waiting to be adopted. These children have been my daughters friends and family for the last 4 years.
Buddy: *chowing down on some nachos now* Ay, we mhen err wol ufe!
Me: Yea, her whole life! Not just 4 years, all her life. So you just WANT to take care of them.
Buddy: mmmmm...
Me: Are you agreeing with me, or are the nachos just that good? Anyway, some things there can be hard to find, or expensive for the orphanage to get...
Buddy: ah ze.
Me: But whats really cool is that the wife contacted the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and asked if we could purchase some Cleft Lip Bottles to help feed the babies with cleft lip, and CHEO was like, "Yea, for sure! We will get you 2 boxes of bottles! But you don't need to buy them, we would love to just donate them to the Orphanage!".
Buddy: *finally stops eating* Cool! Thats awesome! So what else are you bringing for gifts then?
Me: Some Canadian Whiskey.
Buddy: *munch munch munch* Hiskey?!
Me: Hey, I'm not gonna judge. I've never been stuck with 500+ children to watch all at once! Darn it, if they want Whiskey, they are gonna get Whiskey! Man, with 3 kids sometimes I'm thinking I need a Whiskey.

So yea, we're gathering up stuff to bring to the Orphanage, and am super proud of our CHEO who are so graciously donating 2 boxes of bottles!

Makes me proud to be Canadian. :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Training For Fustration

This is going to be another one of those posts which seem to have really nothing to do with adoption - heck, I sure didn't think anything I'm about to ramble on about had anything to do with adoption. However, its amazing how a little head tilt to the left can change a perspective on things.

We live in the country... just outside of Ottawa. Well, actually, we live IN Ottawa... technically. We are either the 1st house or the last house in/out of Ottawa, depending on if you are coming or going. Yes sir, the "Welcome to Ottawa" sign sits on the edge of my lawn.

We like the country life... in the city. We have an acre of land. The kids run and play in the yard... my wife mows the grass... for hours. Its a happy life. Roasting marsh mellows and bar-b-q'ing all year long. Aaaaah, the good life.

Yes sir, when Ottawa consumed our little village, things were going to improve! And rightfully so, they did. Yup, taxes went up... (for our new services dont'cha know). Yup, now sewer bills, and water bills, and OC Transpo bills... all services which stop about 500 meters from my house.

See, the roads out there are all 1 mile long... or roughly 600 meters. Our yard is 280 feet wide - roughly 100 meters. So on the one side of my house, I have 500 meters of road to the Intersection where the City of Ottawa thinks it ends. And I would think it ended there to. Because to get to this intersection from Ottawa, you drive through 20 minutes of farm land and cows... and an emu farm... 2 llama farms... and about 3 or 4 rock quarries. In the winter, all snow plows stop at this intersection, leaving the last 500 meters covered in snow and ice for me and my fellow villagers to dig our way out (good thing I grew up in Northern Manitoba Wrestling Bears Wrapped in Bacon!). Except, there is still the Welcome to Ottawa sign on my yard! Oh, and the taxes to prove I'm part of Ottawa.

Unfortunately, Rogers thinks Ottawa ends at this intersection as well. For there is Rogers Cable and High Speed internet right up to that intersection... then none.

Ah, now, now we are getting to the heart of this mans current ramblings.

The High Speed Internet. 500 meters to the North of my house, there is Rogers. 100 meters to the South, there is Bell. But right where I am... well... there is neither.

Luckily for us, we live in a day of technological wonder! There are wireless internet connections everywhere - heck Starbucks gives it away for free! YAY!
But where we live? Nope. No signal. But then as luck would have it, a new company sprouted up and offered Wireless Internet in our area! And it was good, as we were within their coverage area!

So I signed us up! With a 3 year contract, and at a cost of 3x what people pay in the city for a much faster connection... we were finally off country dial up, and ROCKING a 2Mb/s service with a 5GB cap! Yes sir, we had charged head long into the late 90s!

What comes after that however, is 2 1/2 years of Frustration Training(tm). Yes, internet up, down, up, down... raise the tower, add another section, cut down a tree or two! Nothing worked... except the Internet Providers Billing system - which never missed a charge!

After over two years of un-reliable internet, of me sending them email after email diagnosing my own internet connection woes, and telling them time and time again that it is not a problem on "my end", that it was not a "line of sight" issue, I was at the end of my rope! (they did later admit it WAS/IS a problem on their end... its still not fixed tho)

So I tried MORE wireless options... I tried to get a Rogers WiMAX (portable internet, the one you plug into the wall - info here). Below, is just a snippet of the the sad torrid affair.

Me: Hey, I'd like to order your Portable Internet.
Rogers Girl: Okay! I'd love to help you! So you need to buy the USB stick.
Me: Um, no. I want the Portable Internet, not the Mobile Internet.
RG: Yes sir! The Mobile Internet IS portable! It uses cell based technology!
Me: Yes, I know. Thats why I DON'T want it. I want the Portable Internet, the one that you plug the modem into the wall.
RG: Oh sir, we don't have anything like that.
Me: Right. Ummmm... I really don't know what to say right now.
RG: Oh hold on sir, I'll ask my Supervisor about it!
Me: Sure. I'll just keep reading up about it on your website until you get back.
*a little later*
RG: Okay sir, what you wanted was the PORTABLE Internet.
Me: Right. Thats, uh... thats why I said the Portable Internet.
RG: Oh no, you were looking for the MOBILE Internet, with the USB key.
Me: No, I said I did NOT want th... oh you know what, fine... whatever, tell me about the Portable Internet then.
RG: Oh sir, I don't think you want that.
Me: Oh but I do.
RG: No sir, it is much slower than the USB Stick. The USB Stick can get speeds up to 7Mb/s!
Me: Right. I know. But the WiMAX connection is 3Mb/s, and thats still faster than what I've got now. And its much cheaper than the USB Stick. So I'll go with that.
RG: But sir, the Portable Internet starts at 30$ a month, and the Mobile Internet is only 25$ a month!
Me: Right. Okay. 25$ a month, and its cell based right?
RG: Yup!
Me: So, is there the standard 6.95$/month Cell fee from the CRTC?
RG: Yup!
Me: Okay.
*awkward silence ... a little later*
Me: Sooooooo... uh... lets add 25 + 7... how much is that?
RG: 32.
Me: Right. So is 32 less or more than 30?
RG: Oh. But it is still faster and it is about the same price!
Me: Okay. I've got time. The night is young, and I'm looking for a good time. That 25$ a month, how much data dose that give me?
RG: Well sir, that's for 500MB of data!
Me: Wow! 500 eh. That must be a lot.
RG: Yes sir it is.
Me: And, uh, how much data do I get with the Portable Internet?
RG: Oh sir, only 30GBs. And is 500 less, or MORE than 30?
Me: Really? You REALLY want to take that tone with me? *siiiigh* Okay, although I will gladly admit that 500 is indeed MORE than 30, what one person in this conversation is failing to realize is that there is a fundamental difference between the units of measure being applied to said quantities, that being one of Mega Bytes (MB) versus GIGA Bytes (GB). Now, there are 1024 MEGA bytes in 1 GIGA byte. So when we are comparing 500 MBs to 30 GBs, the 500 Mbs really is 0.5Gbs. So, with the Mobile Internet, I get 1/2 a Gigabyte... and with the PORTABLE Internet, I get 30 Gigabyte. So, is 1/2 less, or MORE than 30?
RG: Oh! But there is the new FLEX plan on the data! So if you use MORE than 500MBs, it will just charge you more!
Me: Great! So, how much would 30 GBs cost me on the Mobile Internet?
RG: Ummmm... I don't know sir.
Me: Why not?
RG: Because they only price up to 5GB of data.
Me: Alright, how much is 5GB of data?
RG: 85$.
Me: Riiiight, so... is 85$ for the Mobile Internet less, or MORE than the 30$ for Portable Internet? And I still get 6 times the data limit on the cheaper one.
RG: So, can I sign you up for the Mobile Internet then?
Me: No, I would like to sign up for the Portable Internet though.
RG: Alright. Can I get your address sir?
Me: Sure. Its 123 Middle-Of-No-Where Street.
*a little later*
RG: Ummmm... do you live IN Ottawa?
Me: I sure do! I've got the "Welcome to Ottawa" sign on my yard, and the taxes to prove it!
RG: Hold on please.
*a little later*
RG: Sir, you do not live in Ottawa.
Me: And yet, I DO.
RG: See, my computer system dosn't have your address in it. So I can't sell you the service.
Me: Right. Okay. Um, lets start at the beginning here... how do addresses get INTO your computer?
RG: By purchasing a service from us.
Me: Which is what I'm trying to do.
RG: But your address isn't in here.
Me: Because I don't have a service, right. Okay. How ELSE can an address get into your computer.
RG: Oh! Wait! I know this! Every house which can get our Cable Service is added too!
Me: GREAT! Um, stay with me here miss... if I could GET your Cable Service, I would be in your computer. However, if I could GET your Cable Service I could get your Cable High Speed Internet service. And if I could GET your CABLE High Speed Internet Service, I would not NEED the Portable Internet Service. Right?
RG: Right.
Me: So your computer system is set up so that the ONLY PEOPLE WHO NEED Portable Internet, are the ONLY PEOPLE who can NOT ORDER Portable Internet.
RG: That appears to be the case.
Me: Do we see a problem here? I'm guessing you don't sell many of these Portable Internets do you?
RG: No sir. We do not.
Me: I can't imagine why.
RG: Me nei...
Me: It was a rhetorical sarcastic comment which required no response. Now, I'm still trying to see why a Portable Internet service which can be used in over 170+ cities across North America HAS to be tied to a specific address anyway. It will be billed straight to my credit card right? And if I can use it anywhere where there is an "electrical outlet", then just use a dummy fake address, activate the service, and we will figure out the address bit later.
RG: Oh sir! Thats brilliant! That would work.

... anyway, it didn't.

At the time, I just thought it was all about a slew of incompetent Internet Service Providers. I won't go into the details with Bell, or any of the other options I tried. Lets just say that I've run out of options.

So what I saw was:
1) lack of options - I could not find a solution
2) lack of control - even if I DID have a solution, I could not impliment
3) what I wanted VS what I could attain - have to come to terms that I can not get high speed
4) that I could not fix it - even though I may have known more than the people trying to fix it
5) etc...

See, but the lessons I was learning were really not related to the Internet at all. These was just prep work to get me ready to deal with:
1) all the rules of adoption
2) I'm not in control of the adoption process
3) the lengthy adoption process
4) that even though I don't agree with a decision, I can't always change it
5) some things I can not fix
6) etc...

So I've stopped being mad at RipNET, Rogers and Bell, and all the other ISPs who have thus far been unable to provide a quasi-reliable internet service to me... and instead, I want to thank them.

So here is to YOU, Mr. Crappy ISP who can not keep a connection for more than 3 minutes without dropping me!

Here is to you, helping me come to terms with adoption, and things which I can not change!

Yes sir. In our Book of Adoption, I shall add your ISPs picture right beside our Adoption Practicioner, our Adoption Agency, Bob + Yulin, our Lawyer, and all the others who helped the Adoption Process along. And years from now, when our daughter looks back on this all, and flips though her Book of Adoption, she will ask who Mr. Crappy ISP was, and how he helped in her Adoption story. And with a misty eye, and a heart full of joy and love, I shall recall to her all the trials and tribulations which Mr. Crappy ISP walked through with me to help bring her to her Forever Family.

Without you Mr. Crappy ISP, I don't know HOW I could have made it through the Adoption Process.

In fact, we may name our child after you - Ping RipNET Rogers Telus Bell Berzenji.

Sign Language, Flash Cards, Simple Words, oh My!

Alright, I've gotta come up with a list of simple things that we should be able to communicate to a 4 year old. I'm thinking stuff like "tired", "hungry", "sad", "sick", "bathroom", etc.

We're gonna try to make up some flash cards for Ping, so that hopefully she can use them to communicate with us, and us to her.

But I can not think of what it is that we should be able to say.

Maybe its "adoption brain" - and the realization that there is about 2 ba-zillion things we need to get done, and no where near enough time... or maybe its something else... so here, feedback away and post what it is we should be able to say to our daughter.

Oh, and to my Cantonese speaking friends, you know I'm gonna be asking for phonetic spellings of these words in Cantonese to put on the back of the cards.

Also, what has anyone else found useful? Did sign language work for anyone? Is the Chinese Pee-Pee dance the same as the Canadian Pee-Pee dance?

Anyway - help me out here, post some useful phrases I should get on flash cards! :-)


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are they TRYING to scare me?! :-)

So my co-workers who are Chinese have been "encouraging" me about our trip to China.

Yeeees, they have been giving me wonderful tips like:
  • Make sure you get your HEP A+B Shots
  • Bring Lots of Kleenex
  • Bring your own Toilet Paper
  • Use your Kleenex to stuff in your nose, it may smell bad
  • Don't eat at the normal restaurants
  • Make sure you use the washroom before you leave the hotel
  • Toilet Paper is hard to find
  • You're going to Zhongshan? Oh. Oh no, I'm sure that's safe.
  • You will have a guide right?
  • There's no way you should leave the hotel without a guide
  • If you need a Taxi, as a Policeman
  • Whatever the waiter brings to the table, send it back - they charge for everything, including the napkins and chopsticks
  • No, they do that to everyone, even the Chinese
  • Don't ask why you should use the Policeman, just trust me.
  • When you are at the Great Wall of China, look for poisionous spiders before touching anything
  • Yes, they can kill you.
  • No, I'm not sure if they taste good.
  • Don't eat the spider.
  • I'm serious.
  • Stop asking if you can eat the spider!
  • Why am I still talking to you?!
You may get the idea how the conversation went from there.

I think they were getting all excited that I would be scared to travel to China - but really, its just making me more excited! :-)

Giddy up! Spiders or no, I'm all excited to go get Ping!

... and building a Tower, with a Moat.

"So what happens if he makes it past the gun...or your daughter gives you the guilt trip "Daddy, your over reacting, we are JUST friends....I trust him Daddy and I know if you love me you will trust him too"............ ;O)"

Then I build a tower.
And a moat.
And I fill that moat with crocodiles.
Butnot just ANY crocodiles.
No sir... Big man eat'n crocodiles.
Maybe with some Piranhas as well.
Oh, and totally gonna get some sharks as well... with laser beams on their heads.

I guess the instinct to protect is natural, and the instinct to rebel is pretty darned natural as well.

So maybe what I should do, is employ some "reverse psychology". For example, if I go out and buy myself a big ol' Harley Motorcycle, wear some black leather jacket and chaps, get some tattoos of scantily clad wom... er... operating systems on my arm (a big ol' OS/2 WARP logo with a Penguin on the back), then maybe my daughters natural rebellion path will be to date some Accountant or Lawyer with good hygiene and manners. I know I'm not going to be able to protect my children from all that will confront them on a daily basis. During our bedtime routine I'm reading a book called "Rosa" to Kid #2, and in the book, this Spanish girl starts attending a school in Washington State. There, she faces some racism and she wonders "Will they laugh at the way I speak? Or will they laugh at the colour of my skin?" How sad is that, that in today's society there are still racial issues. And as a parent, what can we do about it?

Create a home full of love and acceptance? That's great and all... but still, she is going to have to leave the house. She is the one who will have to deal with those questions. We've talked to our other children, and already been working on the questions like "what do you say if someone asks you if Ping is your real sister?"

But what is it going to be like the 1st time we have to come face to face with it?

I guess maybe better than building an Ivory Tower and trying to hide them from Life, I should get down and dirty with them in the muck and myre of Life... and just be there when they need me. Carry them when I can, help them walk when I can't, and love on them every day... ... but I'm STILL getting me a Shot Gun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Reason I'm Getting a Shot Gun

I think there comes a moment in every fathers life where they realize that all of their hopes and dreams for their children are actually NOT under their control. This seems to be especially true for daughters... well... maybe not, maybe its just on a different level with our daughters.

Me: So I'm thinking about buying a shot-gun.
Friend: Really? I thought you opposed violence.
Me: Right, well, I do. Despise violence actually.
Friend: Soooo, why are you buying a shot gun.
Me: For the same reason you will be buying a shot gun in a few years.
Friend: I'm buying a shot gun?
Me: Yup.
Friend: Okay. Why are we buying shot guns? Is it the Zombies?
Me: Yes, er, No. Not this time.
Friend: Right.
Me: Because of a chemical reaction caused in the metamorphosis process in the pituitary glands of some land bearing mammals which will inevitability lead to a chain reaction of odd behaviors of different society members in which the damage is irreversible and catastrophic, and reason and common sense will no longer reign, there will be madness and chaos!
Friend: ... right, is this about the Zombies again?!
Me: NO! I'm talking the TEEN Years! I'm taking Puberty! I'm talking about some punk ____ boy driving up in his 1976 rusty Camero and taking our daughters out!
Friend: Aaaah! Right.
Me: My daughter got invited over for a sleep over at a friends...
Friend: Sounds like fun.
Me: No!!! She was invited by a BOY!
Friend: Dude, shes, like 4.
Me: Well thats where it starts isn't it?!!?! I mean, thats only like 8 years away from training bras (oh please let it be no less than that!!!) and boys in bikes! Then boys in cars...
Friend: ...then crazy old man on a porch with a shot gun?
Me: YES!!! Oh! I need to build a porch too!
Friend: You do?
Me: Oh course! Whats the use of having a shot gun if I don't have a porch to sit on and wait for some lame punk _____ boy to bring my daughter home by 8pm?!
Friend: You'll need a rocking chair too.
Me: YES! You better get working on your porch and rocking chair as well...
Friend: But you know, my daughter is like 2 years younger than yours. Can't we 'time share' the shot gun?
Me: Brilliant! I'll pass the shot gun off to you once I don't need it anymore.
Friend: Sounds like a good plan.
Me: Good?! Its brilliant!
Friend: ... aren't you going to have 2 daughters soon?
Me: Yes... OH MY! I'm gonna need TWO shot guns!

Its crazy what goes on in the head of a parent. At the very least, I find being a parent terribly enjoyable... if not a completely crazy endeavor. At the best, well, there really is no way to describe it. :-)

But the important thing, is that we enjoy this journey, every stage. The baby stage, toddler stage, pre-teen stage, shot-gun stage, grand children stage... so many different stages and things to do and learn. That's why I'm thinking about writing a parenting book. I'm a virtual fountain-of-wisdom when it comes to parenting! :-)

And although in some stages, we can carry our children, other stages, they have to walk it on their own. Hopefully, with careful/deliberate parenting, a whole lotta prayer, and maybe a little shot-gun, they will make it through those stages OK. :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Tree

When my wife was growing up, her and/or her sisters planted a small tree in their back yard. I say my "wife and/or her sisters" only because depending on who you talk to, the original planter of said tree seems to change. Never-the-less, I believe my wife when she says "she" planted the tree.

This is the story, of that tree...

This tree started its life out great.
It had hopes and dreams.
It had a family who would surround her and watch out after her.
It had a great root system and lots of fresh rain and sun to help it grow.
It also had something it did not expect.

That was a rusty old Craftsman Lawn Mower.

This poor tree, kept getting run over time and time again by this rusty, decrepit lawn mower.

Thus began the epic life struggle of this little tree, to grow (and recover) from all of it's harsh dealings.

Each week the tree sprouted up a little more, thinking "today, today is going to be different!"
And yet, each same week, came the sound of a clanking motor, the smell of mixed gas, and the blades of furry. The loving hands of my wife (or one of her sisters, depending on who you talk to) were no where around to help protect the tree, or mend it's wounds.

Once again, this brave little tree shakes off the week that was. Looks steadfast into the future, and soldiers on once again. Once more reaching up for the warm of the sun and the refreshing rain!

And once more the mower came.
Each time determined to thwart the little tree.
To dash the trees hopes and dreams!

And each time, the tree refuses to die! It refuses to give up, to cower or to hide from life.

Week after week, month after month and year after year, this epic struggle continues - a midst the protests of my wife (or one of her sisters, depending on who you talk to) to make the lawn mower stop, and to spare the little tree. The whole time, the tree not knowing that she was in fact deeply loved, but simply loved by those who were unable to help or care for her.

But life has a funny way of turning out for those who don't give up. Eventually, the tree grew stronger, so strong that the lawn mower which was once its tormentor, could no longer hurt it. In fact, one week when the lawn mower came menacingly close the tree decided it had had enough - and lashed out, breaking the lawn mowers chopping blade!

The tree had grown too tall and strong to be hurt by something which was once so deadly and menacing.

The tree had not grown to be at "peace" with the lawn mower. Nor did the tree try to forget what had happened to it. Instead, the tree had moved on, wounds and all... for this is all the tree knew to do.

But now, there were children playing with the tree! A rope swing tied to one large branch! Mothers and daughters laying in the cool of its shade reading a story together. Yes, the tree had moved on and been made complete in her fullness, bounding in love and surrounded by people who would (and able to) care for her.

And although from time to time, one of these new loved ones would carve their initials into the tree surrounded by a heart and some other initials (which didn't match mine, by the way), it didn't seem to hurt.

And all that remained of the trees past, was a twisted trunk and some crooked branches.

Sure from time to time, the tree would look upon itself and feel shame for the twisted trunk and crooked branches... but to those who grew up with the tree, playing in those same crooked branches, sitting in the shade of her twisted trunk, they think she is beautiful. There is no thought or reminder of the trees past... only reminders of love and a life shared together.

They would not trade her twisted trunk for the most beautiful Cedars in Lebanon, nor would they trade her crooked branches for the boughs of the Weeping Willow.

For they love their tree, exactly the way she is.

... I'm sure that there is a story of adoption in there somewhere. Can't quite put my finger on it. But if I were to take a guess at the deeper meaning of this story, it's that if you want to have a well maintained lawn, hire a professional with a nice lawn mower - otherwise you are gonna have stuff sprouting up everywhere!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Ping!!!

Today (Oct 13th) is Pings 4th Birthday! Well, I guess because of the time shift, it was really our yesterday, which was her today or our tomorrow... or something.

Once again, we sent some gifts via Anne at the Red Thread, and my Mother In Law sent some gifts as well!

Judging by the pictures, it appears Ping had a good time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why didn't you Read to Me Last Night Daddy?

As I climbed into bed last night (at an hour which was far to late) I was surprised to find out our cute adorable little Kid #3 had curled up in my place.

She however, was not surprised to see me.

"Daddy, why didn't you read to me tonight?", she asked.

What a sweet sweet question. But one of the types of questions that break your heart. It really didn't matter WHY I hand not read to her, it simply mattered that I HAD NOT. She had gotten a couple new books from the library, and I read one last-last night, and the other was to be read last night because Daddy said he would read it. She remembered this.

Even at 3:30am, waking up from a dead sleep, she remember this.

She was actually still in my spot on our bed waiting for me.

Wow. How the little ones remember what we say and what we do. I will be reading her a few bedtime stories tonight. :-)

But it also makes me wonder, what kind of things were said to our daughter Ping which were never followed through on? Is she still waiting for a Daddy to come read her a bed time story... or has she given up on waiting? And maybe more importantly, which things were NOT said to our daughter Ping. Has there been people to tell he that she is loved, that she is beautiful and perfect? What about the unspoken belief that she may hold, that a parent should never abandon their child? Is that still on her mind...

If my Kid #3 lays in wait until 3:30am for a story, what is Ping waiting for?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sagely Advice

This last week, me and the boys headed down to FOI for a bit to join in some Moon Festival fun.

We chatted about this and that in relation to the adoption, and the fact that our eldest son (Kid #1) was going to come with us to China.

Bob: Here boys, come here, we don't let kids have beer or wine at our place, but do you want some juice!
Kid #2: Sure!
Bob: Alright, what do you want? We have 'Beetle Juice', 'Snail Slime', 'Crocodile Tears', 'Witches Brew' and many others!
Kid #2: Ummmmm... I'll just have water.
Bob: No! You've gotta try this! Its really great!
Kid #2: Okay, I'll try the Crocodile Tears.... whats it made out of?
Bob: Read the label.
Kid #2: Crocodile Tears, made from the fresh tears of Australian Crocodiles. DAAAAAAAAAD!!!

On the way out, Bob took Kid #1 by the shoulder and had some sagely advice for him.

It was a beautiful moment as years of experience and knowledge was being shared from the "lao shi" to the student.

Many thoughts are present at a moment such as this. Thoughts of 'boy, we picked a good agency! How many would actually spend time to impart wisdom to our children!', or the like.

Bob: So, you are going to China to get your sister right?
Kid #1: Yup.
Bob: You know, its very important what you are doing.
Kid #1: Uh-huh.
Bob: Because you are going to be with your sister for like 2 weeks before anyone else. And she wont know the language. And she may be scared. So what I'm going to tell you is something very important.
Kid #1: Okay.
Bob: You have to teach her... ... her 1st word, it has to be "Bob"!
Kid #1: Bob?
Bob: Yea! Bob. And then her 1st sentence, it has to be "I like Bob"!

... aaaand THATS why we picked FOI. :-)

Seriously though, it was amazing to see all these little children run in, and to watch some of the older children run to Bob, and just climb up on his lap, and tickle him then run away, or what have you.
Men, read here:
  • It was like a scene out of some sappy movie that your wife would make you watch while all you really wanna do is put in some Arnold action flick and watch hordes of bad guys get gunned down in new and exciting ways.
Women, read here:
  • It was like one of those beautiful movies that your husband takes you to on those special occasions, where the people are imperfect, yet struggling within themselves to become better, and hope is restored in the faithfulness and beauty in all of mankind.

It really helps point out the difference between a 'business' doing Adoption Services, and people who really have a heart for Adoption and the people it is blessing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gandpa would have Slammed on the Brakes!

As mentioned previously in some of my blogs I have made reference to the Grand Parents watching our two younger children while our eldest comes to China with us.

However, something has happened on the weekend which gives me cause for concern this weekend. :-)

No, its not the fact that we will be 1/2 way around the world away from them... literally... 1/2 way.
No, its not the 3 or 4 weeks of school they will miss...
No, its not the fact that they have to travel by airplane almost 4000 kms away to be with the grandparents.
No, its none of those things...

Its the fact that Kid #2 pointed out a simple truth of all Grandparents while we were driving down Elgin St this weekend.

We passed by a candy store called 'Sugar Mountain'. Now, I'm not sure if there are 'Sugar Mountains' out where any of y'all live... but lets just say that the name is very fitting.
Its a HUGE candy store! Candies from all over the world!
  • Big candies!
  • Little candies!
  • New candies!
  • Old candies!
  • Even those little plastic garbage cans with the candies inside shaped like 1/2 rotted fish and stuff!
  • The tubes of gelatinousness goo brightly coloured and sugar filled as if pulled right out of a rainbow wall made from pure raw un-refined sugar!
Yesssir, this was the Candy store of ALL candy stores!

  • The Hummer to the SUV crowd.
  • The Big Mac to the fast food crowd.
  • The Micheal Bay movie to any 14 year old boy!
  • The Megan Fox to any 18 year old boy!
  • The Pampered Chef knife set to any wife (or husband who enjoys cooking, NTTATWWT)!
  • The Megan Fox to any 36 year old boy!
  • The iPhone to the Berkenstock wearing tree hugging Mac loving hippes!
... you get my drift.

And while a sweet cacophony of noise erupted from the back of the van, all united in one voice in the perpetual plea of any sugar deprived child "WE WANT CANDY!", all I could do, was drive on by, saying "sorry, too late! We just passed it".

And after the sobbing died down.
After the tears had dried.
After all hope was lost.
The still small voice of Kid #2 rose up gently though the air, and could be heard barely above the deafening sound of heartbreak and loss... "Grandpa would have slammed on the brakes".

Current Plan... its a good plan...

Alright, so it looks like we fly out of Ottawa on Nov 11th, and arrive in Beijing on the 13th!
From there, we travel to Zhongshan - the city where Pings orphanage is.
We can not see her at the orphanage, but we plan (hope) to travel around Zhongshan and take pictures of the city - where she was found, her orphanage, etc...

From there, we travel to Guangzhou (the provincial capital of Guandong (her province)) to wait for her. On the 15th she arrives in Guangzhou and we can start the adoption paperwork in China. On the 16th, she becomes our legally adopted daughter!!! :-)

Then, hopefully travel BACK to Zhongshan and tour the orphanage... (provided it dosn't cause too much confusion for Ping).

However, we still have to do all the Canadian Citizenship ship stuff there and blah blah blah... a loose outline is provided below.

Summary of Administrative Activities

First week
  • Mon Family receives child into their care
  • Tue Provincial government conducts formal adoption
  • Fri Provincial government provides Child’s Chinese documents: Adoption Order, Birth Certificate, Chinese Passport, etc.
Second week
  • Mon Citizenship Part 1 or Permanent Resident Status application (accompanied by the child’s Chinese passport) delivered to CIC staff at the Canadian embassy in Beijing
  • Wed Embassy provides the child’s Chinese passport with an infixed Canada Entry Visa as well as a document attesting that the child is a Canadian citizen or a Permanent Resident of Canada
In between the days, we get to do some site seeing tours... however, I'm not sure how much we will actually do. I think in adopting a new born baby it would still be somewhat easy to pick them up, carry them around and tour China... the baby can't really enforce their own will or anything yet. :-) However, with a 4 year old... it might make more sense to follow her lead in some situations and not 'push it'.

Anyway, its all good.

Now, I just have to help get Kids 2+3 off to the grandparents, aunts and uncles who will be looking after them while we're gone... of, and 3 weeks worth of home work for them... oh, and a French Tutor for Kid 2 while we are away... and... and...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Too Busy To Post...

Ungh! Crazy! Its been a wild two or three days... maybe its been more... I can't tell.
So lots of news to post... will get around to it when I'm not dead tired.
So that should be in another 16 or so years... :-)