Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don't you worry about: Is it the Right Thing?

We have four beautiful children.  Our first three were biological, our fourth, was adopted.  Ever think about that term "biological"?  As if our adopted children aren't biological.  Its like, I have 3 biological children, and 1 cyborg!  Ah well, never mind, thats not the point of this post.

When we started the adoption process, we got the regular list of questions... those of you looking to adopt, I'm sure you've been asked them as well.   You get asked many questions, all with good intentions, but all which are pretty useless.  Not the question, I mean, the question is not useless... more often than not, it is the answers which are useless.  The questions are good, because you should not do things blindly, but the answers are pretty much useless because they are more often than not answered out of our own fear, limitations, thoughts, plans, or whatever...

It's as if sometimes God is sitting in Heaven, watching us with our "plans" in life.  I mean, we makes plans to have 1 child, or to wait 5 years to have children, or that we are going to work at company X, or company Y, we are going to go to this school and take that course... me me me me me... I I I I I...

God:  Hey, how ya doing?
Me:  Oh good.  Yea, I'm doing great.  I've got everything under control!
God:  Cool.  Cool.  Sooo, uh, what you doing about having kids?
Me:  Oh well, you know... we figured we would wait 5 years, and then have 'em.
God:  Reeeeeally?
Me:  Yea, you know, we just bought the 1 bed room condo, and 2 door car.  I'm still in school...
God:  Didn't you just quit school?
Me:  Uh, yea.  But you know, I'll get back to it... one day.
God:  How about this, how about, you go back to school now...
Me:  Huh, I could... but I've got my plans.
God:  So do I son... so do I.
Wife:  Hey babe, guess what?
Me:  What?
Wife:  I'm pregnant!
Me:  ...
Wife:  You might want to go back to school and finish your education before this little one comes along.
Me:  God?  I told you I've got my plans!
God:  Yes, but I told you, I've got my own plans.  And they are all good and true.  Just stick close to me, I've got it all under control!
Me:  Well, I've got it under control as well!
God:  Really... you've got it under control.  Do you remember grades 8 through 12?
Me:  Ummmm... yea... about that...
God:  Never mind, it's already forgotten.  Just stick with me, I've got it under control.
Me:  Easy for you to say, you are not the one with a child coming!
God:  Would you just trust me?
Me:  I would find it A LOT easier to trust me if you did things MY way!  Oh, and you know what, it's not like you have a GREAT parenting track record!  You've only had 1 kid, and he ended up getting into some pretty bad trouble and getting himself killed!
God:  You are right, you would probably find it easier if I did it "your" way.  But if I did it "your" way, I would not have sent my son... and then where would you be?
Me:  Well I wouldn't be here with a kid on the way I'll tell you that much!
God:  Nope, you would be in a far worse place.  You may not believe me, but this will be good for you.
Me:  Alright.  I trust you.  Its been a great 21 years so far.  How bad can things get.

I love being 12 years removed from that day and that conversation with God.  I love being able to look back over the 12 years and go... you know what... that really WAS the best thing for me.

Sometimes, what God asks of us is not easy.
But it is always the right thing.

So how do we know that adopting is the right thing for us?
Well, because it is where God is leading us.
Will it be easy?  No.
Will it be exciting?  Yes.
Are we crazy for going for child #5?  Probably.

But I would rather be crazy with God following his plans, than thinking I'm safe following my own plans.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I Love this Puzzle!

Forget the broken math in there... I mean, area = height * width.  Yea, the area is different depending on how you arrange the pieces.

What really struck me about this puzzle is that I think it is a great metaphor for our lives.

I think God has planted inside each of us, everything we need to succeed in life.  Not just succeed, but thrive.  However, if those pieces in our lives are all messed up - then we can be left with "holes".

When I look at Ping, I can see that she has everything in her to make her life brilliant.  Hopefully we are part of that puzzle, and our piece is in the right place.  All my job is, to try to help her shuffle those pieces into the right place so that her life is full and complete.

There is nothing I can add.
Nothing that I need to take away.
She is all there.

Maybe her puzzle pieces are a little "messed up" leaving some holes - but then again... aren't we all?  :-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Seal Blubber Cookies (a Rainbow Story)

For the past 10+ years or so, I've often put our children to bed with stories of Rainbow the Hippopotamus and her friends Speedy the Giant Sea Turtle and ButterCup the Man Eating Polar Bear (Note: She only eats grown men, not children - so oddly enough, the kids are OK with that).  Over the years, these stories have covered everything from Hockey, Flying Airplanes powered by farts (hey, we have 2 boys... don't you judge me!), Flying Kites and everything in between.  Since we have adopted, I've had the opportunity to expand the subjects covered.  Hopefully the stories always carry a theme of openness and acceptance, hopefully you enjoy this one about Cookies.

Rainbow the Hippopotamus and her good friends Speedy the Giant Sea Turtle and ButterCup the Man Eating Polar bear did EVERYTHING together.

They played Lego together.  They played Barbie together.  They even brushed their teeth together!

But one day... Rainbow said "I'm bored!  Bored bored bored bored BORED!  Lets do something fun today.  Lets go and help my Mom clean the house!"

Well Speedy looked at ButterCup, and ButterCup looked at Speedy, and they both said "Rainbow that is the CRAZIEST idea EVER!"

Then ButterCup said "Why don't we make COOKIES!"

And Rainbow looked at Speedy, and Speedy looked at Rainbow, and they both said "ButterCup, that is the BEST idea EVER!"

And the three friends jumped up, ran around the house three times, and then went to the kitchen to make the cookies.

Rainbow said "Ok, to make cookies, we need loooooooooots of GRASS!"

"GRASS?!" gasped Speedy and Buttercup!

"Rainbow, everyone knows if you want to make good cookies, you need lots and lots of SEA WEED!" exclaimed Speedy the Giant Sea Turtle.

"Eeeeewwwwwwww!" said ButterCup, "Sea Weed?!  Nuh-huh.  My family always makes cookies with Seal Blubber!  And boy are THEY yummy!"

"SEAL BLUBBER?!" asked Speedy and Rainbow, "ButterCup, THAT is the CRAZIEST idea we have EVER heard!"

Rainbow's Mother walked into the kitchen, "Not everyone likes the same type of cookies.  Some people like Grass cookies, some like Sea Weed cookies... and yes, some even like Seal Blubber cookies.  Everyone is different, everyone comes from different backgrounds, and so everyone likes different cookies - but they are all yummy.  But whether you like Grass cookies, Sea Weed cookies, or Seal Blubber cookies, there is one thing EVERY one loves ... and that is Double Chocolate Chip Caramel Stuffed Cookies!"

Rainbow looked at Speedy, and Speedy looked at ButterCup, and they ALL looked at Rainbows Mom and said "Rainbows Mom, that is the BEST idea we have EVER heard!"

And the three friends ate ALL the cookies!  And they all agreed that they were the best cookies ever.

After all, the best cookies are the cookies you share with those you love... even if you are different.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Girl In the Red Dress

This Saturday was Daddy's turn to "help" in the Class room at Chinese school.  Now, I know there are many thoughts on whether or not Chinese School is good or bad for our children from China - and these are just my thoughts... take 'em for what they are worth.

Don't worry.  
It is only your 1st day at Chinese School.
You don't need to be scared.
The other kids will like you.
Just... breath!
Don't panic if you can't understand what the teacher is saying.
It will come. 

And with that, I turned away from the mirror and called to Ping to come get her shoes on so I could take her to Chinese School.  Yes, I was nervous.  Her?  Not so much.  This was her 3rd week.

At Saturday morning Chinese School

We got to the class, and everything started off great!  The teacher was working her way though the simple introductions for family members, and Ping was shouting out the answers with as much gusto as any other child in the class!

Every once in a while she would turn her head around and make sure that I was watching her from the back of the class room.

Then, IT happened.  About 30 minutes into the class, while the teacher was walking up and down the rows of students to listen to them reciting their "Ge ge hao"s, she stopped at Ping...
... and listened.
With abated breath, I watched, listened, strained to hear the teacher over the din of the children chatting "Ge ge hao".
"Hen hao!" come the teachers ENTHUSIASTIC reply - which means "Very good!".
I was so happy!
Ping, wasn't.  Ping thought she was in trouble because the teacher was "loud".
Ping quickly retreated and within 5 minutes, was sobbing in her seat, which grew into a full cry in my lap.

I took her out into the hall of the school, crouched down to her, held her beautiful cheeks in my hands and looked her straight in the eyes and said all the things I thought she needed to hear.
Daddy loves you.
Daddy is so proud that you are learning Chinese!
You don't have to be scared.
No one here is going to take you away.
It is OK to learn Chinese.
You do not have to go back to China.
Daddy is learning Chinese too!  Daddy goes to Chinese School on Mondays.

See, we've had many conversations lately which makes me think that she is worried about going back to China... I mean, she said "I no like China.  I no want to go back." (again, maybe I'm not the quickest at clue-ing in on the subtle hints of the women in my life).  After about 5 minutes in the hall, and hugging my little Ping, she came back into the class, and sat in the desk beside me.

When we DID come back to class, and I sat her beside me, I started repeating along with the teacher the exercises.  Ma ma hao.  Ba ba hao.  Di di hao.  etc.
Ping would look at me.  Kinda scrunch up her face and turn away.
After about 10 minutes of her "suffering though" her Daddy trying to speak Chinese... she started to speak it again.
She started repeating with the Teacher and me.
And by the end of the class she was chasing the teach down to show her the pictures she coloured!
Ping was actually enjoying herself in Class.
+1 for the Daddy!  Yay!

Now... what about  that girl in the red dress?  

She is my school nemesis!
Oh sure this little girl might look all cute and innocent sitting three rows over and one desk forward...
But every time the teacher was asking questions, she was answering first!
Show off!
I'm sitting there trying to run the teachers instructions though my limited Mandarin vocabulary and convert it to English... but the time I figure out what the teacher asked, little "Red Dress" over there is blurting out the answer all proud of her self!
It quickly became a competition between me and Red Dress to see who could answer the teacher quicker!
Yea, I know.  Its a JUNIOR Kindergarten class... but still!
That little 4 year old show off had to be put in her place!
I'm pretty sure at one time, when I'm trying to figure out Di di in the Chinese characters on the White Board, she blurted out the answer and then turned to me and gave me this little smirk like "Yea, thats right, I know it... and you don't.  You're a LOOOOOSER!  I'm SMARTER than you!"
I hated school 30 years ago... and I still hate it!  :-)
Silly little girl in the Red Dress.
You just wait till next class.
I'm practicing this week Red Dress!
Come next Saturday, I'm TOTALLY gonna lay the vocabulary smack down!

... I'm not really proud of myself right now...  I know I have issues.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I prefer "Emotionally Challenged"

Wife:  So, what are you looking forward to most when we get our new baby?
Me:  Uh...  I donno.
Wife:  Okay, um, what colour do you think we should paint in their room?
Me:  Uh... I donno.
Wife:  Okay... what do you think about the new chainsaw?
Me:  OH!  The new Huskvarana 21" with dual clutching system?  With the bigger motor which has automatic chain lubrication and an improved steal and... why are you looking at me like that?
Me:  Are you mad?
Wife:  ...
Me:  I can tell you're mad.
Wife:  ...
Me:  Did I do something wrong?
Wife:  ...
Me:  I did something wrong.
Wife:  ...
Me:  I'm sorry.  I'm an idiot.
Wife:  Okay.  Do you want to talk about Adoption or not?
Me:  Uhhhhhh... No?
Wife:  GREAT!  What do you think about the new adoption policy that Zimbabwe is passing in relation to the International Adoption Agreement signed in Geneva in the Summer of 1997 by the 14 major countries of international adoption and ratified in August of 2003 by adding Section 3.1.3.(b) Article 14 Annex 27?  Just talk to me!  Tell me your thoughts about adoption!  Just give me SOMETHING!
Me:  .... uh... mmmm... I think Angelina Jolie looks great after adopting 4 kids!
Wife: ...
Me:  What?!  Oh wait... are you mad again?
Wife:  ...
Me:  But you wanted to talk about Adoption!

Aaaand, and that's how it goes sometimes.  Look, its not that we men are INTENTIONALLY idiots when it comes to "things" like this.  Emotional things.  Adoptive things.  Its not our fault... men and women are different.  And those differences can cause problems between us.  :-)

Apparently, we (men) are from Mars, then they (women) are from Venus I'm a waffle, and she is Spaghetti.  Apparently there are 5 Love Languages, women speak 5, and we Men don't listen.

Men are wired (I think) to fill the role of a Protector and Provider.  However, the adoption process really strips away any ability we have to fill that role.

As an adoptive father, we can not "protect" anyone...
  • We can not protect our family from the emotional up and downs during the adoption process.
  • We can not protect our not yet adopted child from any pain or hurt of not being part of our family yet.
 We can not "provide" anything for anyone either...

  • We can not provide a quicker adoption process.
  • We can not provide "guaranteed" success for our child, or our family.

We are left, stranded as men, torn between what we want to do (ie: protect + provide) and what we can do.
And we are left in a state of... well, "idiot" - if idiot were a state of mind.

So to all the Moms out there, who have had to deal with Dads who seem more interested in their power tools than they should be... We're sorry.

We're not idiots... we just "Emotionally Challenged".

Which, by the way, is not the same as "Emotionally Negligent".  Recently, we started our 2nd adoption process.  We had been made aware of a wonderful 8 year old girl in a wheel chair who was looking for a good home, and right from the get-go, my wife and I both felt differently about this wonderful 8 year old girl.

My wife, bless her soul, was abounding in love!  Reckless in desire and lacking desperately any sense of practicality or fore thought.  

I was, bless my soul, the perfect example of cold calculation, and being "Emotionally Negligent".  How could we care for a girl in a wheel chair?  We have a 3 floors in our home!  We have 4 other children!  Our car isn't big enough!  We don't have a "lift" to help her up or down the stairs!  We can't afford it!  We just can't do it!

See?  Not wheel chair accessible (as if that matters)...
Aaaah, what a selfish thought.  And I even convinced myself that I was UNselfish.  That I was looking out for the good of the whole family, and/but I was putting the needs of our existing children before the needs of any future child whom we may welcome into our home.

Room for 1 more
I hate to admit it (trust me I do)... by I think my wife was right.  We can get a lift... eventually... I mean, I can work more overtime right?  We can love a child in a wheel chair.  We can make adjustments to our transportation.  

But there was no "logical" ah-ha moment which made me realize that my wife was right and I was just throwing out excuses.  It was the moment when our Adoption Practitioner said we could not adopt an 8 year old out of birth order.

It was the moment when all my excuses were stripped away... and not because we found solutions to all my worries.  

No, my excuses were stripped away because we were not allowed to adopt her.  And for the first time I was able to look at this wonderful 8 year old girl and realize... that she was amazing, and wonderful, and deserves to be loved beyond all reason - and in a perfect world, in a world where I'm not "Emotionally Challenged", I could be that... I CAN be that.  We all can be that.  

We just have to get past our own emotional challenges, if that is fear, or lies of what we can and can not handle, telling ourselves that there is someone else out there for them, that our life style isn't suited for such and such a child... all valid statements... but useless to that child waiting to belong to a family. 

It is sad that we had to loose her, for me to truly see her without all the emotional baggage I was carrying.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Family: (re)DEFINED

1:  a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head: HOUSEHOLD
2:  a)  a group of persons of common ancestry: CLAN
2:  b)  a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock: RACE
3:  a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation: FELLOWSHIP
Grandpa P with D - going fishing...

Grandpa P with K - teaching him how to make wine...

Cooking the fish they bought...

Corking the Wine...
Lets define family for a second.  Or, lets try to define family.  What is it?  A collection of people who share the same DNA?  People who came from a common mother?

Well, obviously as an adoptive parent, I'm not going to buy that as the whole basis for "family".
As a Christian, I'm not going to buy that either - in Gods family, we are family by redemption and grace.
As a husband I am family by legal contract.
As a smart husband, I am family by sheer blessing and luck as someone as wonderful as my wife has chosen to spend her whole life filling my days with joy and wonder and amazing love.

Above is a small collection of Grandpa P chilling with the kids.  What I love about Grandpa P, is that he doesn't HAVE to love our kids.  He is not their "biological" Grandfather.  However, he IS a wonderful Grandfather!

See, the children's "real" grandfather is someone whom we have seen once in 14 years - who has only met the children that one time.  Someone whom we choose not to have close relation with.  Will that change someday?  Sure.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

But standing where I stand, as a father and husband, looking at the two Grandfathers, one "real" (yet bad) and one "step-grandpa" (yet amazing) - I'll take the "amazing" Grandfather any day!  And by us welcoming him into our lives, and him welcoming us and our children... he IS the real Grandfather.

Isn't it wonderful how our children do have TWO wonderful sets of Grandparents.  Thats a true blessing because there was a time when there was only ONE wonderful set of Grandparents.

So I go back to my question... What is Family?

A step-dad who loves his step-children more than their biological dad ever did.  A Step Dad who loved them so much that the step children had their names (and their Children's) legally chanced to that of their step Dads after they were well into their 30s, so that their Step Fathers name will be passed down through the generations as a legacy which he would not have had otherwise.

What about an Aunt or Uncle who are raising a relatives child because of an unfortunate loss in the family?

There are so many ways which "family" happens... why do so many fixate on HOW they came to happen?

Going back up to the definitions above... there is NOTHING in the "HOW" as to limit what a family can be.  In fact, the closest definition of what I think most people think of is #1 "a group of individuals living under one roof ..." is very refreshing in that there is nothing related to "birth" or "DNA".  Now, clans, and race are biologically bases... and fine... Ping and I will never be the same RACE... but that doesn't mean we aren't family.

Biological, Marriage, Adoption, Loss, if there is LOVE, then to me, you have Family.

I no LIKE China!

Since Ping has gotten home, she has flip flopped between liking China, and not liking China.
When we 1st got home to Canada - Ping was very quickly rejecting Mandarin as quickly as she could!  She would not speak Mandarin (except to yell at me), and when our friends DID speak to her in Mandarin, she quickly retreated.  It is very apparent that she is still struggling with her Chinese background... and only recently that she has started asking about her China life and talking about it...

Then (July '09)
(Arriving at Chinese School Saturday Morning)
Ping:  I no like Chinese school.
Me:  Really?  Why not?
Ping:  I no like China.
Me:  Oh.  Well, thats OK, you don't have to like China.  I like China.
Ping:  What?!  Why you like China!
Me:  I think China is very beautiful!  I think China is GREAT!
Ping:  Mmmmm... No.  China normal.
Me:  *I smile at her*  You know Daddy goes to Chinese school.
Ping:  WHAT?!  No.  Daddy not Chinese.  Ping Chinese.
Me:  Yes, Ping is Chinese.  And Ping goes to Chinese school on Saturday - but DADDY goes to Chinese School on Monday.
Ping:  WHAT?!  Why!  Why you go Chinese school?
Me:  Well, because I want to know more about China.  Because I love China.  Because I love you.
Ping:  Why?  Why you love China?!
Me:  I think that Chinese is beautiful!
Ping:  How China beautiful?
Me:  My Ping is beautiful, and my Ping is Chinese!
Ping:  Okay.  I go Chinese school.  But Daddy stay.

... it is interesting and heartbreaking to watch her have to walk though this.  And knowing that there is just nothing we can really DO about it.  We can support her and stuff, but really, this is something she has to walk out herself, hopefully walking in out with the knowledge that she is truly and deeply loved.  I don't think that "Daddy going to Chinese school" really solves anything for her, but it really did seem to stop her argument, and make her think (by the way, it is very cute to watch a 5 year old try to process "big thoughts".  As I watch her face contort into different shapes, the eye brows raise, the lips curl, it is as IF you can actually SEE the "connection" being made in her mind... I can't help but think "This is probably what it feels like whenever my wife asks me to take out the garbage/do the dishes/clean the sink/scrub the toilet/etc...").

Now (Nov '10)
On her Birthday, she was SO proud to sing Happy Birthday to me in Mandarin - and that was the 1st time she has EVER tried to speak to me in Mandarin... well, again, except for the yelling.

Will she figure this out?  Absolutely.
Will it be easy?  Absolutely not.
Will we be there to love her though it?  Absolutely!!!
Will she ever stop yelling at me?  I hope not.  :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maybe it SHOULD be Me

I know my wife and I have had a few different discussions about WHO should goto China if only 1 of us can go to adopt our 2nd child... I came across something this weekend that helps put "Mothering" into perspective.  I was with the kids at the Nature Museum, when I came across the Frog display, and this article posted by the Milk Frog.
During the breeding season, the loud call of a male milk from lures a female to his water-filled tree hollow.  The female lays her eggs in the pool and leaves the male to fertilize them and care for the young.  After the tadpoles hatch, the male lures another female to lay eggs in the same water hold.  He doesn't fertilize the second batch of eggs, but uses them to feed his hungry tadpoles.  By "faking" a love interest, he tricks the second female into delivering food for babies that are not hers.
I would just like to ask, what kind of a MOTHER would lay her eggs, and the run off leaving them to be RAISED by some STRANGE man whom she HARDLY knows!  Pfffftph.  Horrible mothering.

So my faith in Moms has taken a bit of a hit this weekend.  :-)   Looks like I should start getting my Passport ready!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maybe it SHOULD be Her

I know my wife and I have had a few different discussions about WHO should goto China if only 1 of us can go to adopt our 2nd child... I came across something this weekend that helps put "Fathering" into perspective.  I was with the kids at the Nature Museum, when I came across the Frog display, and this article posted by the Milk Frog.
During the breeding season, the loud call of a male milk from lures a female to his water-filled tree hollow.  The female lays her eggs in the pool and leaves the male to fertilize them and care for the young.  After the tadpoles hatch, the male lures another female to lay eggs in the same water hold.  He doesn't fertilize the second batch of eggs, but uses them to feed his hungry tadpoles.  By "faking" a love interest, he tricks the second female into delivering food for babies that are not hers.
Now, I'm not saying that I would have tried to trick some other woman into feeding our children... but that might be only because I didn't think of it!  At 1st I'm like "Wow, what a great Frog Dad!  Raising all the kids! Oh, and then he what?!  Oh!  Right.  Well, so much for the loving father role."

So my faith in Dads has taken a bit of a hit this weekend.  :-)   Ah well.  What can I say.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thanks Giving Weekend

We celebrated our Thanksgiving weekend last weekend.  We had a great time as a family hanging out, and eating way to much food!

G:  Daddy, can you rake the leaves?
Me:  Sorry baby, I'm busy burning the old deck.
G:  Hmmm... can I rake the leaves.
Me:  Uh, sure.  Why?
G:  Because I want to make a big pile of leaves, and then jump in them!
Me:  Aaah, I see.  Sounds like fun.  Let me get you the rake.


Our little G is about the cutest little blond thing you could ever meet!  She is tiny, and petite, and sweet and lovely.  But she can also be determined when she wants to be!  And today, she wanted to jump in some leaves!  I wish I took pictures of this little 3 foot blond girl attacking a full 1 acer of leaves with a 5 foot rake... so precious!  But she did it.  She gathered up enough leaves to jump all over.

The best part, was seeing her with her sister Ping, and teaching her how to "properly" jump into a pile of leaves... because there is a "right way to do it, dont'cha know".  :-)

We had a nice fire and roasted marshmellows, bar-b-q'ed and ate outside on our NEW deck (Pictures to come), and went for a great hike though the Gatineau Park.  Yes, the leaves were turning red.  The birds were singing.  It was a beautiful sunny day!  Aaaah, life is good.

Just a great relaxing weekend of family time!

Look!  Marshmellows!  I have no idea what they are, but I'm EXCITED!!!
Helping make the Pumpkin Pie!

Okay, maybe "relaxing" is a touch strong of a word.  I burned over 600 pounds of wood, I mowed the 1 acre yard (on a slightly un-happy lawn tractor (just not the same since TractorGate)), roasted marshmellows, bar-b-q'ed, built two benches out of some re-claimed deck wood, burnt the wood from about 4 or 5 trees, went for a 3Km hike with the kids, did a tonne of running around, and the list goes on!  :-)  But, still, according to my wife... it was a wonderful "relaxing" weekend.  :-)

It really was a great weekend to build memories with our family!  And Ping gets to add another "memory" to her family life...  

Ping:  This no park!
Me:  Yes baby, this is the park.
Ping:  NO.  You LIE to me!
Me:  No, Daddy isn't lieing.  This is the park.
Ping:  But dere no swing!  No slide!
Me:  Thats right, this is a different KIND of park.  But it is still a Park.
Ping:  You no nice.  You say we go park.  En den, NO park.  Daddy no nice.  I no like Daddy.
... insert tantrum #1...
Me:  *siiiigh*  C'mere Ping, lets go talk in the car.

...a little while later...

Wife:  Alright everyone, lets go potty before walking on the trail!  It will be a looooong walk.
Ping:  What?!  You say what?  I no go potty.  The potty stinky!  (pointing to the outhouse)
Wife:  Ping, you have to go potty before we go for our walk.
Ping:  I no go potty!!!
... insert tantrum #2, 3, + 4...  (in her defense, the outhouse WAS stinky!)
Wife:  Okay, you go on with the other kids... I'll keep Ping, and meet you on the trail later.
Me:  Okay.  K, D + G, lets go.
Ping:  I go to!
Wife:  After you go potty!
Ping:  WHAaaaat?!  I say NO potty!
... insert tantrum #5...

Getting ready to hit the trail

G beavering a tree down

Mommy and Ping sitting on the side of trailing waiting for us

Later in the hike, we did all meet on the trails, and Ping was in a great mood.  But there are still times where she is figuring everything out... as are we.

See, I'm happy NOW!

What, did you THINK you could stay mad at me?  :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

1 Birth, 1 Loss

Yesterday was Pings 5th Birthday, and it started off with a bang!
Ping doing Daddy's Nails while talking with our Adoption Practitioner 

Our for the Birthday Dinner

Opening some presents

Getting a hug for some presents

Opening some gifts from Grandma/Grandpa

Got a DS!

I'm 5!!!

Me:  Unh, yes... yes it is.  It is also 4:30 in the morning!
Me:  Now?  Of course baby.  What do you want me to see?
Ping:  Downstairs!  Come see!
...I stagger downstairs with our brand new 5 year old daughter...
Ping:  See Daddy!
Me:  Yes, it says "Happy Birthday!"  (we have a big Happy Birthday sign hanging above the table with some balloons and decorations)
Ping:  And look what I can do!  *mumble* *mumble* *mumble* quai ler!  *mumble* *mumble* *mumble* quai ler!
Me:  Are you singing, "Happy Bithday" in Chinese?
Ping:  YES!

This was the 1st time she has EVER tried to speak in Chinese with us.  I'm sure it is significant in some way.  She was very proud of herself.  So we sang it a few times in Mandarin and then had breakfast.

Now, Pings birthday would have been busy enough, but we also had our meeting with Adele our Adoption Practitioner (AP) this morning.

The meeting went really well with our AP, but there was a bit of bad news...

Adoption Practitioner (AP):  Well, that's all the information, so you can adopt a child up to 3 years old.
Wife:  What about a child, say, born in 2002?
AP:  The policy is not to disrupt the birth order of the children.
Wife:  I know, but it is possible, right?
AP:  Yes, but all the studies have shown that it is very disruptive to the rest of the family and generally not a good idea.
Wife:  But if we wanted to do it, you could write to the government and  recommend it.
AP:  No I couldn't.  Well, I could, if I did believe that it was recommendable.  However, I do not recommend it for your family, so I can not write to the government and say that I do recommend it.
Wife:  So you won't recommend us for adopting an 8 year old?
AP:  No.

And just like that, as we were celebrating the birth of one child, but we were also silently morning the loss of another.

And I'm not looking for suggestions of "change AP", or "fight the government", or anything like that.  That is not the point or purpose of this posting.

What this is about, is loss.

Now, we were not far into the process of this adoption yet... but it is amazing how quickly you can start to attach to a child and feel loss when things do not go the way you plan.

While we were in China with out adoption, one of the families travelling was told they could not adopt their child because something went wrong and he was in serious condition in the hospital.  By the time they traveled home, they were able to adopt a different child.  Everyone would think that they should be thrilled... but that everyone would be wrong.

This family has had the picture of this particular little boy on their fridge for over 7 months.  And before that, they had waited years.  Every night they went to bed, probably dreaming of this little boy.  They built a nursery.  They picked out toys, and clothes and get everything set up.  They had a baby shower.  They were awaiting for their little boy to arrive!

And then, during "delivery", their baby disappeared.  After months of waiting, of praying, of thinking about, planning for, and awaiting their child, he was gone.  How could you NOT feel loss?!

Earlier in our marriage, we had a miss-carriage - we were only a few weeks into the pregnancy - but the loss was real.  The loss was real, because you KNEW you had a baby.  Maybe you didn't see them yet.  Hold them.  Carry them.  Feed them.  Change their diaper, but you HAD a baby.  The little tyke just hadn't arrived yet.

And then, gone.

So here we are... once again, feeling like there has been a miss-carriage, or in some way, a loss of a child.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birth Day Ping!

Pings 1st Birthday with us!
Well this week ("Othtober thirteeth") is Pings 5th Birthday!
And my gosh - is SHE excited!
I think she is making up for all her missed birthdays!
It is a birthday extravaganza!
Well, in her mind anyway.
She has had a chance to go to one or two birthday parties since she has come home with us, and she is ALL about the Birthday!
Well, shes all about the presents...
And the "I'm 5!"
She is very excited to be 5.
She is going to be big, like "her big sister!  Cuz den I be 6, like mah sista!"
She is excited about having her friends come over to her house.
Although she is NOT excited about boys coming... because "boys are stinky" according to Ping (something I hope her big sister might learn).

So yes, it will be a fun filled week of lavishing gifts upon our daughter for her 5th Birthday!

We are very excited for her.

Yet, some how... the "mother" finds a way to feel guilty.  She thinks she should be even MORE excited!
The house is already decorated... balloons are up on the wall... the big "Happy Bithday" banner is hanging above the table...  The invitations are all sent out...  now, we just have to survive the birthday...

I hope to post many many cute pictures of the party later.  :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

... another Brick in the Wall

Ping at School
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher leave them kids alone

*ring* *ring* *ring*
Co-Worker (CW):  Hello?
Voice:  *wa-wa-waaa, wan-aw-waaaa*  (Charlie Brown Teacher Voice, you know it...)
CW:  Oh?
Voice: (angerly) *wa-wa, wa-waaana*
CW:  Oh.  I'm sorry.  No, I'll come.  *click*
Me:  What's up?
CW:  Oh, my daughter got in trouble at school.

... some days later ...

*ring* *ring* *ring*
CW:  Hel... oh.  Yes, right.  No, I understand.  Thanks.  I'll come right now.  *click*
Me:  Duaghter?
CW:  Yup.  I don't know what I'm going to do!  She won't do her school work, the teacher asks her something, and she says "I don't want to do it", so she ends up in the principals office again.
Me:  Well, not all kids can be as wonderfully well behaved as mine.
CW:  *something in Mandarin*
Me:  Huh, I'm not sure I know what that means.

... a few days later again...

*ring* *ring* *ring*
CW:  I'll come get her.
Me:  Daughter, again?
CW:  Yes!  She's driving me nuts!  What can I do?!  You are such a wonderful amazing parent*, how can I get my daughter to behave!
Me:  Weeeeeell, let me tell you!

And thus begins a 1/2 hour long session of "Parenting for Dummies - by the Yeti", full of wonderful insight, brilliant thoughts, love, discernment, consistency, etc...

Now... fast forward to modern day...

CW:  So, new school year, and new school for my daughter!
Me:  Hey, thats great!  The new teachers won't know what a distraction she can be - she might have a chance to do good this year!
CW:  Yes!  And how is Ping starting?
Me:  Oh great!  Because I'm such an awesome parent...
*ring* *ring* *ring*
Me:  Hold on, thats probably my wife telling me how wonderful OUR daughter was at school.  Hello.
Wife:  Hey, I got an email from Pings new teacher.
Me:  Really.  Did she decide to email to tell us how wonderful Ping is!
Wife:  No.
Me:  Oh, uh... why did she email then?
Wife:  Because Ping spat at another child.
Me:  Oh, well, uh, she gets that from you.
Wife:  And apparently, there were some other problems as well...  *click*
CW:  How is Ping doing?
Me:  Oh, shes... uh... doing great!

... a couple days later...

*ring* *ring* *ring*
Me:  Hello.
Wife:  We're have to switch Pings class.
Me:  What?  Why?
Wife:  Because she is fighting with the teacher too much.  *click*
CW:  So, how is Ping doing?
Me:  Remember how I used to laugh at you and your daughter issues... well... Bob was right, little Chinese girls ARE cute... but boy, are they stubborn!  I will never judge your parenting again!
CW:  Maybe it is just a little Chinese girl thing.  Maybe we're both great parents...
Me:  Yea, thats it!  We're both great parents!  We just have stubborn little Chinese daughters...  *siiigh*

Yes, we had to pull Ping from her Senior Kindergarten class, and put her back in the Junior Kindergarten class.  I'm not sure what went wrong really.  Ping was great with the other kids... she just kept challenging the teacher.

I'm not sure if this is a Ping thing, or an Orphanage thing, or a typical 4 year old thing, but with Ping, I do know, you have to establish dominance!

I'm talking pin her to the ground and bite her neck type of dominance!
You have to let her know who the Alpha Dog is - and right quick!

Once she knows that, everything is OK.

I know we've done that.  Ping even tell me "Daddy, you're da boss... when Mommy no here", she knows whose boss!  :-)

Her Senior Kindergarten teacher was fresh out of teachers college - her new teacher is a seasoned vet.  Which is why we choose her class for Pings new class.
We wanted someone who would not be intimidated by Ping.
And I think its working... because Ping dose NOT like her new teacher.  :-)  She will tho.  Once the whole dominance thing is figured out.  :-)

What is somewhat interesting, is that Ping seems so strong that we never really 'coddled' her when we switched classes.  We figured, well considering everything shes been though, it's not like THIS is going to bother her.  Just switching classes...
... but come the Monday for her to start her new class - she was in TEARS!  Just sobbing and crying and saying that she didn't want to go!  That she was SCARED.

If this was one of our other children, and we had to switch classes, we would have KNOWN that they would be scared and stuff... Ping has just always been so brave.

So we hugged her and tried to help her feel better, and she trundled off to school.

The next day, someone from her new class already called and set up a play date... so maybe this is going to work out OK after all.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Here is to 14 Years of Doing it Wrong!

Happy  Anniversary to My Beautiful Wife, and Best Friend!

14(ish) Years Ago...
Here is to all the things we've done wrong over the past 14 years...  Here is to:
  • for dating someone so very different
  • getting married too young
  • not being done school before getting married
  • having kids while we were too young
  • going back to school to get an education to support the family
  • working 2 (or 3) part time jobs to pay for school
  • for my wife quitting her job to be a "Stay at Home Mom"
  • for starting a new job and leaving an established one
  • for moving over 3000KMs away from home
  • for leaving all our friends and family
  • for adopting

And here is to some of the things we've done right...  
  • for building a family full of love
  • for being brave and doing things which others said could not be done
  • for standing by each other though good times, bad and yes, even crazy
  • for loving every day we get to spend together
  • for always "trying" in our relationship
  • for being able to look back over the years and go "how the heck did we manage THAT?!" and laugh
  • for teaching our children 
    • love
    • patience
    • peace
    • goodness
    • kindness
    • faith
  • for helping each other and each member of the family to be what God has called them to be
  • for adopting

Considering that we seem to have done so many things wrong, I think it has turned out pretty darned great!

Love you Babe!

PS:  Travis, you owe me 20$ still, we lasted longer than 3 months... :-)