Saturday, 15 December 2012

Logan turned 11 on the 11th!

Eleven years ago I was very pregnant for our second child, and firstborn son, Logan Zane.  We had been told he was due on the 28th of December.  Since we usually traditionally travelled up north to spend Christmas in the cold snow laden wonderland, we were a little disappointed we would not be heading up for the holidays.    I even started praying that if the baby’s health was not going to be adversely affected, that I would deliver early enough to go home for Christmas!

Sure enough in the wee hours of the 11th of December, two days after my own birthday, my water broke.  I woke up Steph, and the usually calm, cool, and collected man, sat up, looked freaked out and said, “What? What are we going to do?”

“We are heading to the hospital.  Since Rykauna came quickly, we need to go soon,” I replied.

Before we left, we knew we had to call our friend to come over and watch Rykauna.  Unfortunately, this was before the days of texting or wi-fi... this was the days of dial-up!  Our babysitter’s hubby was on the computer checking hockey stats so we could not get through on the phone to them.  Yup, it was 2am and their phone line was busy!  Finally after about half and hour, we decided to give up calling, and get our boarder to watch over Rykauna for the rest of the night.  We woke up our boarder (who was a good trusted friend of ours) and told him under no circumstances was he to leave for work without making sure another adult was in the home.  We explained our situation and said we would keep calling throughout the night and make sure our babysitter was sleeping on our couch before he left at six for work.  Sure enough, we were able to get through to our sitter shortly thereafter.  We both breathed a sigh of relief.

Logan arrived at 8:30am after the most relaxed, painless, and easy delivery.  I felt no pain, slept the night, and exerted no effort delivering him.  I can honestly and thankfully say, it was a total breeze.  He was a content baby that was truly a joy to have around.  He did cause us some major stress though.  He took febrile seizures twice, and had seriously scary choking episodes on at least two occasions.  He seemed to have an immature gag reflex, so he did not react when he was choking other than going beat red and tearing up.    He regularly had minor choking events.  I remember thinking to myself one day,” if this kid makes it to age two it will be a miracle.”

Thankfully our little miracle is eleven now.  Logan is a wonderful son whom we love very much. He is friendly, affectionate, hard-working, and active.  He loves almost all sports including hockey, soccer, football, badminton, Frisbee, volleyball, and swimming.  As his blessed parents, our prayer for Logan would be for God’s richest blessing and mercies to be poured out on his life. Happy Birthday Logan!
Playing his traditional street hockey game with friends and Hudson for his birthday.  Things were planned a little late this year, so a few buddies couldn't make it.  Logan didn't mind though, these three guys have been friends with him since he was a baby.  A great time was had by all.  

It was a relatively warm December day, making it possible to stay out for a full two hours of outdoor play!

 Opening up a gift from one of his friends.  I love the way Li Lin is hugging him tightly here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Happy 13th Rykauna!

Well, today, Sara and I officially feel old!  Sorry for all of you who have already passed this stage, but we are now the parents of a teenager!

Thirteen years ago today, I received a page from Sara (yes, a page... hasn't technology come a long, long way since then) at the end of the school day while still at work.  Time to head into the hospital!  I had been getting my stuff ready to face my first parent-teacher interviews as a full-time high school teacher.  Instead of talking to parents that evening, I became a parent (as opposed to only being called a Parent) late that night!

I will never forget that feeling when I first saw the beautiful little bundle of joy that was Rykauna.  The following day, while Sara was sleeping, I remember walking the halls of the hospital with Rykauna in my arms.  I gazed down at the tiny little face with the beady eyes and prayed for her.  I prayed that I would be a good daddy.  I prayed that she would be saved early in life.  I prayed that she would grow to become a good woman.  I prayed that she would stay healthy as she grew.

Today, looking back at the past 13 years, I can thankfully say that most of those prayers have been answered! (I'll leave the good daddy part alone for now!).  Rykauna has been and is a very determined and ambitious girl.  She is full of energy and is so positive about life.  She is excited to try new things and perseveres through difficulties.  She is a wonderful big sister and a loving daughter.  She has indeed grown into a wonderful young lady!

Rykauna is really creative.  She opened up an Etsy store to sell scarves (  Her most recent interest and hobby is photography.  Last year at school she joined the Paparazzi Club and developed her budding interest in photography.  She pleaded for an early birthday present, and so at the beginning of the summer, we bought her her 13th birthday present - a new camera!  She has put this camera to much use over the last several months.  You have been able to enjoy some of her pictures on this blog.  Here are a few more that she has taken over the last little while.
Li Lin gazing through a fence
Hudson during family fishing week.  We didn't catch anything but we had fun!
Logan showing off his catch - more weeds!
Hudson enjoying eating rice crackers
Rykauna enjoys taking close-ups using the 'macro' feature!
Hard to get a picture of Rykauna on here when show-casing her photography talents.  Here are her feet!
Mom and Li Lin running in the park.
Daddy 'the playground' Parent giving a another ride to Li Lin
Happy Birthday Sweetheart!
Love Mom and Dad

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Six months post adoption

Six months ago our family changed into an adoptive family, a biracial family, and a family of six.  That’s right, we met Li Lin in China six months ago.  Has she changed our lives?  You bet.

It is amazing what six months does in the life of a young child.  Li Lin came to us as a beautiful, angry, devastated, skinny, Mandarin speaking child.    Her skin had little scars all over from dry skin and bug bites.  Her locks were dry and felt like straw.  Six months later she is still beautiful, rarely angry, happy, no longer skinny, fluently bilingual girl.  Her skin is smooth most of the time, and her hair has the classic Asian glossy black sheen. (Love it!)  Her sense of humour, her love of life, and her mischievous personality have all really blossomed.  She used to hit the other kids frequently, take regular fits, and strongly resist being told, “No.”  Li Lin, along with our other three kiddos, is still far from perfect, but her behaviour has really changed for the better.  Her hitting has greatly reduced.  She still tries the odd fit now and again, but they are few and far between now.  As far as the word, “no” goes, Li Lin fully understands its meaning in English and Chinese and usually complies.

Other than a one week hiatus she took from discussing them, she still talks about her foster family nearly every day.  She is not asking to see them as much anymore as telling me about her life there.  Li Lin knows we would like to take her back to China for a visit when she is 10.  Her loneliness, though still present at times, seems to be abating.   She regularly tells Steph and I how much she loves us and how happy and excited she is about whatever we are doing.

 Here are a few pics I uploaded from my phone.  Not sure how I don't have any pics of Li Lin and Logan.  I will remedy that soon, hopefully.  Logan and Li Lin play together often but I guess they are often playing together while I am making supper...hence the lack of pics.

She insists on doing her "homework" after school when the other kids are doing theirs.
  Li Lin is an amazing and wonderful addition to our family.  We love her dearly, as we do all of our four children.  The kids all love her too, and she loves them in return.  We have been blessed by love multiplying in our home!  We know that we owe thanks to God for his mercies and grace to us.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Asian Fusion...East meets West

Well we have had Li Lin for about four and a half months now and overall she is doing quite well.  It is interesting how her food tastes are morphing.  Once in a while I make traditional Chinese food like dumplings.  Last week I made some and instead of the usual soy sauce on them she asked for...KETCHUP!  Talk about an Asian-North American fusion meal!  I gave her the red stuff as requested but thought, Yikes! What will my Chinese friends think when they see her eating this?

She truly lives with a foot in both of her cultures.  Today she told me in Mandarin, "I am grandma and grandpa's (foster grandparents) little girl and I am your little girl."  So cute.  Her English is improving daily and with that comes a better ability to express herself.

Just yesterday she said to me, after I asked her a question about the foster grandparents, "No talk mommy, stop it."  Interestingly enough, I was just following up on a comment she made about them a second earlier.  A couple hours later, she mentioned them again and I (not a quick learner:) followed up with a question/comment to which she again replied, "Stop it, mommy, no talk."  She does not want me talking about them anymore even though she still mentions them.  This is a big change for her, just another step in the processing of things, I guess.  Up until yesterday, she seemed to enjoy discussing them with me.  I would take the opportunity to learn as much as I could so that later, when she forgets details, I can fill her in with what information she taught me.  I am glad for whatever tidbits she has shared... but I'm guessing she will not be sharing much more about this precious time of her life.  As I write, this brings a little tear to my eye...I have truly enjoyed learning about the dear people that raised her for her first three years!  I don't know these fine people, but I can truly say, I love them... they gave us a beautiful gift... they loved, cared for, and nurtured our daughter.  Hopefully one day, we can meet the foster grandparents and tell them in my broken Mandarin how much we appreciate them.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Lonely for China...

Lately dear little Li Lin has been lonely for her Chinese foster grandparents.  She regularly asks me to take her on a plane to China.  I tell her that when she is ten we will plan to take her back on a visit.  She is usually pleased with this response.  The other day she said she wanted to go now. She said she wanted to go live with her grandparents AND us in China.  Oddly enough, this was great news for us... a month ago, she would have said she wanted to go to China .....bye-bye mom and dad.  Now she wants to see them, even live with them, WITH us at her side as well.

We have no idea how much her little heart must ache to see them again.  What we do see though, is how hard she is trying to grow up so that she can be 10.  She frequently stands on stools and shows me how big she is.  This past week she also asked me to see An-An.  An-An (Daniel) is a sweet little guy that was adopted from China at the same time as Li Lin was.  He, along with his wonderful parents, visited us this summer after having first met on our agency's adoption trip.  I think, to Li Lin, An-An represents a connection to China... they met there and she clearly remembers this.  In fact, I am startled at how much she remembers of those first few days.  A couple of days ago, I was changing her into her PJs and she said to me in a mixture of mandarin and english, "You gave me these in China."

Sure enough.  These were the PJs she wore in China.

She just loves China!   Last week while driving downtown, Li Lin she said excitedly, "Zhong guo" (China)  Looking around, we all agreed it did bear a similarity to China.  Downtown Toronto is a bit of a mix of condo construction, cranes, and heavy traffic.  I felt bad having to tell her she was still in Canada.  Next we drove to the CNE and took in a dance show by some Chinese dancers.  She just loved it and clearly realized they were from China.  She kept saying, "China! China!"

Yesterday I decided  to do the next best thing to taking her back to China.... visit the Chinese grocery store.  While getting out of the van, the smells of the store came wafting into the parking lot.  She just kept breathing deeply and saying, "Ahh. Ahh"

We purchased some imported Chinese snacks, ordered fresh authentic Chinese take-out and just immersed ourselves in "pretend China".  Li Lin was especially surpised/excited when she heard an overhead announcement in mandarin.  In her little world, this was pure joy!  I think I need to make a practice of going there more often.  Oh, and I must send off and email to An-An's mom... we need a play date soon!

Monday, 27 August 2012

More Nova Scotia pics...

Well Li Lin survived her week away from Daddy and jie jie and although she asked about them at times she seemed to do okay.  When I would re-explain where they were and when we would go get them she would smile and say, "hao" (meaning good/ okay).

On our (myself, the boys and Li Lin's) last day at my sister's place I did a little amateur photo shoot of their family.  It was lots of fun pretending I knew what I was doing...thankfully there are some good ones amongst the large lot of pictures I shot.  The most challenging part of the photo session was getting my littlest niece to smile on cue.  She is such a little personality! I love this pic of her here as she is deep in thought and about to say something profound.

Ni Hao Yall
If you are wondering what the snapshot deal is all about, just click on the link and read on.  It's a fun read!

I couldn't resist getting in a few shots of Li Lin as she had thrown on a pair of Callista's old boots.  Miss L put them on herself, on the wrong feet, but was very pleased with herself as you can see by the smug expression she is wearing.
I thought I'd throw in a pic of the fog I mentioned in the last blog posting.  It is hard to believe we swam in such thick fog.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Nova Scotia visit

Last Sunday night we drove to Nova Scotia for a visit with my sister, brother-in-law, and my four lovely nieces.  We enjoyed some good times swimming in the ocean amidst amazing fog, watching seals cavort in the sea, having a fun day at a local amusement park and shopping at the infamous Frenchy's.  Frenchy's is a chain of second hand stores that is cherished in the Maritimes for it's great little finds and cheap prices.  After all, where else can you buy a classy three piece men's dress suit for $14?!  Some of the locals love this place so much that they have chosen to get married inside a Frenchy's store next weekend!  Yup... you read correctly.. there is a couple getting married inside a second hand clothing store in Digby, NS.  There is an open invitation on the walls of all the area Frenchy's stores to attend the event.

Since Steph and Rykauna had to leave yesterday to attend a Bible Camp Steph is helping out with, we decided to celebrate Hudson's birthday while they were still here.  It is hard to believe my little boy is turning 7 on Tuesday.  We feel so blessed to have our sweet, happy, Hudson as part of our family. Here are a few pics I took this past week.
Ni Hao Yall

This is a photo I took of my little niece, Brooklyn.  She is thrilled to be added to the blog and to have her picture entered in Sunday Snapshot.

Hudson and his siblings and cousins... blowing out Aunt Pamela's homemade carrot cake with SKOR chips on the icing.  Unfortunately the pictures I took of his birthday were poor... don't mind the is the event that counts :)!

The picture below is an innukshuk that some of the kids made after our picnic at Seal Cove.

My dear sister, Pamela... wish we could be together more often!

The kids enjoyed the two cable ferries we took over to the seal watching island.

So far Li Lin seems to be doing well and not seeming too bothered that her big sister and her father are away for five days.  She spoke to Daddy on the phone tonight and seems to understand what is going on.  It is fun to watch her pick up more English words everyday.  I have been speaking less mandarin to her as my Chinese friends say she is saying some mandarin words with an English accent now... whoops!  As a result I try to speak mandarin to her only if she seems to not understand what I am saying in English.  We plan to continue her mandarin learning... by a first language mandarin speaker, not me.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday Snapshot~Rykauna

Ni Hao Yall

Hey, It's Rykauna here, just wanted to share my favorite picture of Li Lin from the past week.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Cleft Team half day assessment~ Sara

On Tuesday, Steph and I took Li Lin downtown to the children's hospital in our area for her 3yr check-up/first meeting with the cleft team.  She was scheduled for a  half day assessment which was four appointments spaced an hour apart with an hour's break for us to get lunch.  The night before the appointments I told Li Lin in mandarin that we were going to a kids' hospital so the doctor could look at her mouth, teeth, and ears.  She nodded and agreed to go after I gave her confirmation that no needles were going to be put into use.

On the way to the hospital, Li Lin told us she was scared.  We told her we would each hold her hands during the appointment and she smiled and said, "hao" (good).  Appointment #1, at 9am, was with the dentist.  She was pleased to say "no cavities", and although there is significant discolouration on the tooth closest to her fistula she felt it did not warrant any attention as it was causing Li Lin no discomfort.  As soon as she left her chair, the orthodontist gave her mouth a once-over.  He, as expected, had no immediate plans, but did tell us she will need lots of ortho work down the road.

Upon leaving the dental chair, with her chart in hand, we headed to the Speech Pathology department.  Li Lin was difficult to assess as her English is very poor still, and she was more interested in the toys than she was in the SLP (Speech Language Pathologist).  I have no doubts this SLP will remember our appointment for a long time.   Li Lin at one point, asked that we pray, and wouldn't proceed with the appointment until we did! LOL!  She was playing with imaginary food and wanted us to give thanks for it.  Thankfully, the SLP was a good sport and didn't mind.  She is impressed with how well Li Lin spoke given the size of her cleft fistula.  Fistulas (or holes which should not normally be there) usually cause more problems with speech if they are at the back of the mouth.  Li Lin's is at the front, but it is very big.  We will be referred to a local speech therapist in our area.

Our next appointment was with the audiologist.  Several hearing tests were performed in cool sound-proof rooms.  In the end we were told her hearing was normal.  We had already figured as much, but the confirmation was good.

We took our lunch break next, then headed to our 1pm appointment with the plastic surgeon.  We were anxious to find out when she would be having her surgery to repair her fistula.  We waited a mind-numbing ninety minutes before we were ushered into a room.  A couple minutes later the door opened and to our disappointment it was not the Dr.  It was the nurse coordinator coming to do MRSA swabs.  Since she came from another country this is protocol.  I won't go into details of MRSA swabbing, if you are a medical professional you can sympathize with me trying to explain this in broken Chinese to a three year old.  Another half hour later the plastics fellow showed up and chatted with us for 20 minutes or so.  At one point, the attending (her boss and mentor), showed up and needed her.  Another forty five minutes or more later, they came in again.  The news was not as expected.  They do not want to do any surgery until she is between the ages of seven to nine.  At that point they will do a bone graft with bone from her hip, to bring her gum lines together and make place for the teeth to come in.  They will fix the fistula then, while at the same time do a revision on her lip.
So my little girl will go to school with a large fistula in her mouth for at least four years...hmm.  Her nose job will not be done until she is 17 or 18 and is fully grown.  So there you have it.  We walked out of the appointment at 4:30pm with Li Lin asleep in my arms and very thankful we were only scheduled for the half day assessment.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Week in Pictures at the cottage~Sara

This past week we enjoyed a relaxing vacation at one of our friends' cottage.  We had initially planned on going camping, but when the offer of the use of the cottage came up, we gladly accepted.  Here are some of the pictures taken during the week.
Hudson in awe as he is on horseback for the very first time.

Steph getting in touch with his Western roots

Chillin' at the beach

Rykauna having a patriotic moment..

Logan plotting who he should douse with water next..

Rykauna had fun taking pictures and capturing the essence of summer fun!

Fun times after jumping out of the paddle boat

Li Lin loved pouring buckets of cold water on her head
I'm having a bad  hair day here, but the effect in this pic is kind of cool (as is the guy!;)

Grandpapa enjoying the sunsets

Ni Hao Yall

I'm sharing the pic of Hudson with Sunday Snapshot.  If you are interested in reading about this click on the above button.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Family Fishing Day ~ Sara

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall

Yesterday Logan noticed  an advertisement for Family Fishing Week.  Yup, no license needed for this week and our local provincial park was also offering free rod, bait, and tackle usage as well.  To top it off, kids were also entitled to a free hot dog and drink.  So we piled into the van and off we drove to the most urban provincial park I have ever been to.  It is laughably too close to civilization.  You can hear the hum of the nearby freeway as well as railway tracks that are about a stone's throw away. The beaches were littered with goose droppings and the washrooms sported a wildly nauseating aroma, but we didn't care, we were there to fish!  Unfortunately, these pictures were NOT a representation of what we saw. ( These shots were taken at Yu'Yuan gardens in Shanghai)  We saw nary a fish today; in fact except for a rumour I heard about one person catching a fish, I'm not sure if anyone lining the fishing zone caught anyting other than the occasional weed.  It was still lots of fun for the kids.  Well, some of the kids.  Rykauna had more fun taking pictures.  Here are some pics she took.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Rykauna is sashaying ~ Sara

Rykauna is a very determined twelve year old girl.  She sets goals then strives to achieve them.  A week ago she told me she has three main summertime goals:

1. Take her bronze medallion swim course:  she started that today
2.  Enter lots of Sunday Snapshot photo contests:  she hopes to get honourable mention at least once
3.  Open up an Etsy shop (with grandmaman's creative help):  started as of Saturday night

When she told me of her three goals all I could say was, "You go, girl!"  She even asked me to put up a post mentioning her business so she gets some hits on her site, LOL!!  Please do not feel any obligation to purchase, I think she would just be happy with a few hits on her webpage.  If you want to take a look, her shop is called, Rykauna's Ruffles.  She is selling handmade sashay scarves in a multitude of colours and sizes, including American girl sized scarves.  I guess this is the modern version of the lemonade stand? 

Here is the link if you are interested or just plain curious to see what she is doing.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Li Lin's First Canada Day~ Sara

Photo creds to Rykauna and her new camera!
Last night we all got dressed up in our patriotic wear and drove to a nearby park.  It just wasn't any old random park... it was a park that was putting on a city sponsored fireworks displays  The little ones and the not so little ones all had a great time.  Happy Canada Day!

Mamas are monster police~ Sara

A couple of weeks ago,  Rykauna had a good friend over for supper.  P.Z. is a Canadian of Chinese descent and speaks fluent Chinese.  P.Z. told me something really special.

The three girls, Rykauna, P.Z. and Li Lin were in the basement.  Apparently Li Lin was scared that there might be monsters in the closet.  Then she went on the offensive poised to attack if necessary and said, in mandarin, "I'm not scared, I've got my mom."

How cool is that?  She was convinced I would rescue her if necessary! It is great to see her deepening her trust in us each day.