Saturday, May 24, 2008

Playing at the park on field day

Field Day

Victoria had field day yesterday at school and did really well. We usually don't go to these kind of events because she seems to participate better when we're not there. But she really wanted us to come so we showed up for the afternoon and I'm glad we did. It was a lot of fun and turned out to be pretty good weather. We were able to watch her do ball throw and standing long jump.

Here she is doing ball throw:

And here she is doing standing long jump. She jumped far enough to get a second place ribbon!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Please Pray

NASHVILLE, TN...5/21/08... At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Wednesday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family’s six children and one of their three adopted daughters.

More than five years ago, Chapman and his wife MaryBeth founded The Shaohannah’s Hope Ministry after bringing their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah, home from China. The ministry’s goal is to help families reduce the financial barrier of adoption, and has provided grants to over 1700 families wishing to adopt orphans from around the world. Chapman is a five-time GRAMMY ® winner and 54-time Dove Award winning artist who has sold over 10 million albums and garnered 44 No. 1 singles.
taken from this link)

We do not know the Chapman family personally but we've enjoyed the music of Steven Curtis over the years and the Chapman family has been a huge inspiration for us as we've travelled these adoption journies. They've done so much in the world of adoption. We can't even imagine the pain they're going through right now. We will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. May the God of Comfort grant them what they stand in need of during this difficult time.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Secret Pal strikes again

A nice brown box arrived in the mail yesterday - addressed to me with no return address. I knew it was something from my secret pal. May's theme is "Something for Mom". When I opened the package, I was so surprised. Earlier this week I was on someone's blog and saw this book "Sweetness in the Belly" by Camilla Gibb. I really wanted to read it and was planning to ask for it for my birthday next month. But lo and behold, I no longer need to. I'm so excited to read it . . . if I can only find the time. Perhaps when I'm soaking in the tub with my lavender bath essense that was included in the gift set as part of the treat.

Thank you very much Secret Pal!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

I got bombarded in bed by all three kids on Sunday morning. Victoria and Austin had made cards for me at school. I love homemade cards from the kids. So much love goes into them.

This is Austin’s card. You have no idea how much it meant to me when I read that he loves me more than computer games. That’s HUGE! He could play on the computer all day long if we would let him – that’s how much he loves computer games. And guess what? He loves me even more! Yay!

Victoria’s card was so pretty. Here’s what she wrote inside: “Happy mother’s day! You are my best mom in the whole world. I love you very very much! You are the best! Love Victoria.”

All of the exclamation marks had hearts at the bottom instead of periods. She’s becoming such a good writer, and it means so much that she thinks of it and writes it all by herself.

Notice both kids picked orange for their cards . . . mommy’s favourite colour!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Waiting Mommies Dinner

On Saturday night I had the priviledge of attending another Waiting Mommies Dinner in Toronto.

Tammy (my driving partner and navigator) and I headed out and this time we had company in the van. Victoria and Samara were also invited to join us at the dinner this time. Victoria was so excited that she got to come because every time I leave for one of these dinners, she begs me to take her along. Her and Samara were both very good and had a lot of fun.
Victoria sat beside "Mrs. Tammy" and I heard a lot of giggling going on across the table! Samara also had a lot of fun being silly and goofy and even surprised "Miss Catherine" at the end of the night with a huge squeeze and a kiss.
Notice the pretty hairbands in their hair. Liz and Ava brought little surprises for the kids - hairbands, stickers and chocolate princess lollipops.
Thank you Liz and Ava for being so thoughtful!

The group is getting larger all the time and it's so neat to connect with others on the same journey.

(These pictures are all courtesy of Catherine since I can never remember to bring my camera - she is really a serious blogger and doesn't leave home without the camera.)

The theme for the optional gift exchange this time was a book theme. I got the book "M is for Maple". It's a Canadian alphabet book. I love this book and have wanted a copy of it for a long time. In fact, I almost bought it the other night when I was buying my gift for the exchange. But I'm glad I resisted the urge cause I got it! It's even the board book version. (Thank you so much Leslie!)

Oh and I should mention that while the girls were enjoying a girls night out, the boys were also having fun at home. Tammy's husband Mike came over to hang out with Mike and Austin and apparently the three of them had a lot of fun. I know Austin did as he couldn't stop talking about it the next day. He had a lot of fun playing the "punch game" (boxing) and bowling on the Wii. Thanks for coming over and sharing your toy with my guys Mike!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The courier came to the agency today, picked up our file and it is officially on it's way to Ethiopia! Hooray!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Finally . . .

After nine long weeks (+ two days) we finally received our official Ministry approval letter. For those of you who aren't familiar with the adoption process, this is a letter from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services that gives us permission to adopt another child. We are breathing a huge sigh of relief and Mother's Day will be that much better now.

Many of you know that over nine weeks ago, we brought our homestudy and other parts of our dossier to our agency in Cambridge. We were told at that time that it would only take 2 - 4 weeks for us to get our ministry approval since our homestudy was only an update (it's an update because it's our second time adopting). So that was really good news and we thought it was great that we wouldn't have to wait the 6 - 8 weeks it was taking at that time for original homestudies to get approval. After four weeks went by, I emailed our agency to see if they had heard anything and they said they hadn't. They also said that things were taking a little longer at the ministry for a variety of reasons so not to worry. At six weeks I emailed again and they still hadn't heard anything. I was starting to get a little more anxious but I was still holding it together and remaining somewhat calm.

At eight weeks and one day, I was on the verge of losing it. I was worried we weren’t going to get approved for some reason, I wasn’t sure if our file was lost or if it even got to the ministry. I emailed our caseworker again (by the way, her name is Julie and she’s the best caseworker ever!) to voice my concerns and see if there was anyway we could check the status of our file or contact the ministry by phone to see if our file even made it there. Julie got on the phone right away and found out that yes, they had our file and it was “being processed”. They told her that it would be done by the end of the week and we should hear something the following week (that would be this week). Ok, that sounded really good to me. And the other really good thing was that, because we had all our paperwork together and at the agency office and because Julie is the best caseworker ever, she worked ahead on our file so that the next step would be shorter for us. She told us that instead of the next step taking 2 – 4 weeks, it would only take one week for us. Yay Julie! (See? Isn’t she the best caseworker ever???)

Soooooo, that brings us to this week . . . the week we should be hearing from the ministry. Monday – I didn’t assume we’d hear anything yet. Tuesday – I thought maybe we would hear something but was somewhat ok that we didn’t. Wednesday – I thought was a very strong possibility that we’d hear something – I mean how long does it take to send an envelope via courier or even snail mail within Ontario? I emailed Julie on Wednesday just to make sure she hadn’t received it and forgot to tell us (Ya right! After all, she is the best caseworker ever!) By the time Thursday came around, I was falling apart. What was going on??? Are we approved or not approved? Why is it taking more than nine weeks when it should have been 2 – 4 weeks??? There is only one day left for us to hear something this week - I can’t go through another weekend not knowing for sure if we’re approved or not. And yes, I emailed Julie last night (Thursday night) to voice my concerns once again.

Ok, I need to interrupt to tell you more about how great Julie is. This whole time as I’m emailing her, she has been the most patient, understanding, kind person. We’re still just at the beginning of this process and already she’s done so much for us. She even went so far as to tell me I could email her everyday to check in and not to apologize for that (I was apologizing in every email because I felt like I was bugging her). See how great she is? We are truly blessed to have her as our caseworker.

This morning (Friday) at 8:33 am, I received an email from Julie saying that she had contacted the ministry last night before she left work. She was told that we were officially approved on May 2 (last Friday) and that our letter was on its way. That made me feel better but I still wanted that final confirmation . . . the official approval letter. Julie also told me that we received our declaration back from Ottawa (part of the next step that’s supposed to take 2 – 4 weeks) so as soon as they receive our approval letter, our file is on it’s way to Ethiopia.

This afternoon at 2:20 pm, we received the following email from Julie:

Hi Mike and Karen,

I just wanted to let you know that I received your letter of approval today! Congratulations – you have been approved to adopt “a healthy male child, as young as possible, up to the age of 12 months, from Ethiopia”.

As I mentioned before, I have your file all ready to go. I will be sending your file to Ethiopia either Monday or Tuesday (depending on when I can get DHL here, but it will be going soon!). I will certainly let you know what day it gets picked up and you can certainly celebrate that milestone!

Have a great weekend and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

HOORAY! We are so excited to have this part of the process behind us. We know that it will still be many more months before we see a picture of the precious child that God already has picked out for our family, but we are so happy that we are finally officially expecting again. Let the real waiting begin!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


These are a few books that have been added to our home library over the past months. The pictures and book descriptions are all from the Amazon website.

China (DK Eyewitness Books)

Eye-popping...It's a text, but also a trip educators, students and parents can enjoy taking together.

D is for Dragon Dance

In this alphabetical celebration of the Chinese New Year, a boy and a girl prepare for the festivities with their family. Each page or full spread, representing one letter, includes such headings as A is for Acrobats, I is for Incense, and P is for Peking Duck. One- to two-sentence subtitles under some of these headings explain the traditions. The Z is for Zodiac page includes a circular chart to allow children to find their own Chinese sign. The back matter includes an authors note on the traditions surrounding the New Year, an artists note on the calligraphy appearing in the background, and a recipe for dumplings. While Compestines text is well researched, many of her subtitles are written in an uneven tone, vacillating between a second- and third-person voice. The art makes up for the patchy text and depicts the vibrancy and color of the celebrations as they occur in modern China. Done in watercolor, acrylic, and latex, it features stylized, richly colored figures layered on subtle, full-page calligraphic designs. Young readers will enjoy observing the antics of a playful cat on each spread. Overall, this vivid introduction is sure to fascinate youngsters new to the traditions of this holiday.

My First Chinese New Year

In this colorful picture book, a young girl prepares for and celebrates the Chinese New Year with her extended family, describing how she makes an altar to honor her ancestors, gets a haircut, feasts with her relatives, and attends a Chinatown parade. The tale radiates warmth and quietly builds up to the dramatic dragon dance and the traditional greeting of "Gung Hay Fat Choy!” The collage illustrations, cut from paper with colorful Asian designs, also include paint and other media to capture the joyful celebrants. This is a clear introduction to the holiday that young children will enjoy in one-on-one or group read-alouds.

Tar Beach

Tar Beach is a work of modern art translated into a children's picture book, and the adaptation is so natural that it seems inevitable. From her 1988 story quilt, reproduced on the cover and within the last pages of the book, Ringgold has taken both the setting and the text. The painted scene in the center of the quilt shows a Harlem rooftop on a starry night with four adults playing cards and with Cassie Louise Lightfoot and her brother, Be Be, lying on a blanket gazing at the sky. Cassie sees herself flying over the city lights; dreams of wearing the George Washington Bridge as a necklace; imagines giving her father the union building he is not allowed to join because of his half-black, half-Indian heritage; flies over the ice cream factory; and takes her little brother with her to the sky. Cassie's story, written along the borders of the quilt in tiny script, becomes the text of the book. The illustrations painted for the book version are done in the same colorful, naive style as the quilt. This type of art translates beautifully into the storybook format, and a border of bright fabric designs on the bottom of each page duplicates the material used in the quilt. In capturing the euphoria of a child's dreams, and in its gentle reminder of the social injustices of the adult world, the book is both universal and contemporary.

Yo! Yes?

An effective, unusual 34-word story of the beginnings of a friendship, accompanied by wild and wonderful illustrations. Against pastel backgrounds, in vibrant, colorful images, an African-American boy and a white boy meet on the street. "What's up?” "Not much.” "Why?” "No fun.” "Oh?” "No friends.” These one- and two-word exchanges on each spread lead to a tentative offer of friendship, sealed as both boys jump high in the air and yell "Yow!” The succinct, rhythmic text and the strong cartoon like watercolor-and-charcoal illustrations are perfect complements. The feelings of each child run the gamut from loneliness, curiosity, fear of rejection, and hopefulness to, finally, joy; the illustrations do a particularly fine job of limning each boy's emotions in very simple images on the oversized pages. With a beautifully balanced, economical style, the book illumines the peaks and pitfalls of getting acquainted, and puts in a good word for brotherhood as well. Amusing for story times, or for use in discussions of feelings, it is fun to read and look at, and appealing to the eye, ear, and heart.

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book

It's Chinese New Year and there are so many fun things to do! Shopping at the outdoor market for fresh flowers, eating New Year's dinner with the whole family, receiving red envelopes from Grandma and Grandpa, and best of all-watching the spectacular Chinese New Year's parade! Introduce the customs of Chinese New Year to even the youngest readers with this festive new lift-the-flap book.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

An African villager named Mufaro had two daughters whom everyone agreed were beautiful. However, their dispositions were not alike: Manyara had a bad temper and was selfish (although not in front of Mufaro); Nyasha was always kind and considerate both to people and to animals. When Mufaro receives word that the Great King is inviting all of the most worthy and beautiful women to appear before him so that he might choose a wife, Mufaro decides that both of his daughters should go. Manyara, believing herself more worthy and beautiful than her sister, sets out alone so that she can be presented to the king before her sister. What happens to each girl along the way depends on her response to the strange people whom she encounters. This folktale shows the traditional qualities, characterizations, and predictability. It is distinguished, however, by its colorful ink and watercolor illustrations of the costumes, artifacts, flora, and fauna of the Zimbabwe region. The expressive drawings of people and events enhance the story and serve to strengthen readers' familiarity with traditional African culture. A magnificently illustrated book, filled with rich textures and vibrant color, and a story that will satisfy young romantics as well as those with a strong sense of justice.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

World AIDS Orphans Day - May 7

Over 15 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to AIDS – equivalent to the number of people living in New York, Paris, and Bangkok combined.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, over 12 million children have been orphaned by the pandemic.

Experts believe that millions more orphans remain unaccounted for in India, China and Russia.

By 2010, the number of AIDS orphans worldwide is expected to reach at least 20 million.

For more info check out this website.