Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Visit from Catherine

What a fun day we had today. We were treated with a visit from our friend “Miss Catherine” who drove out to visit us. After a quick lunch, we headed out to Sarah’s place. Last year sometime, Catherine introduced Sarah and I to each other. We both live in the same area, have daughters adopted from China and have adopted or are adopting from Ethiopia. So it was neat to get together with all three of us today. We arrived at around 1:30 and all of a sudden it was 4:30 – we had been talking for three hours straight and didn’t even notice the time pass by! Thank you so much for your hospitality Sarah – always a pleasure to spend time with you.

Then it was time to head back home again. I’m not the only one that enjoys Catherine’s visits. The kids kept Miss Catherine quite busy during dinner and after. Even Samara warmed up and took hold of Miss Catherine’s hand a few times to lead her around and show her things – very precious and a huge change from our last visit together!

I had made lasagna, garlic bread and Caesar salad for dinner. Austin made us all laugh by putting a clip on his nose – I guess all that garlic was a bit too much for his sensitive nose!

Dinner was a busy time for Catherine, between snuggling with Victoria and picking the onions out of Austin’s lasagna and feeding him spoonful by spoonful so that he would finish and be able to get dessert!

After dinner there were more snuggles with the pajama clad kids – the best kind if you ask me!
All in all it was another great day spent with a great friend. I love you Catherine and am so glad that our paths crossed. Can’t wait to see you again soon.

After Catherine left and the door closed behind her, Victoria said to me, “Mom, I don’t want Miss Catherine to go home!” I guess I’m not the only one that will miss you my friend!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bird Kingdom

On Saturday we took the kids to this fun attraction in Niagara Falls. I've wanted to go here for a quite a while but haven't for a few reasons. I wasn't sure if it would be kind of "freaky" for the kids (and me) if there would be birds flying all around our heads. Some of my kids have issues at the butterfly place and that's why I was a tad worried. I also find it quite expensive - especially for a family of five! So when we were trying to figure out something fun to do this weekend, I just thought I'd check out the website and see if there were any coupons. Sure enough, because it's family day weekend, they had a great sale on. It only cost us $30.00 for all five of us. We saved almost $45.00! I'd rather risk the kids not liking it for that price as opposed to the regular price.

As it turns out, we all loved it! It was so beautiful and there were so many different things to see . . . not just birds. Only a few times did a bird swoop by really fast but I don't think it happened to the kids at all. There was one "freaky" fenced in part where you could go and have about a million birds land on your head and all over your body. People were getting pecked and pooped on and one guy came out with blood on his neck. Needless to say, we didn't go in that part!

I'm posting a lot of pictures because it was hard to choose only a few.

Austin was one of the first volunteers to have a bird sit on his arm. He picked the smaller of the two birds but unfortunately the bird was being a brat and kept trying to peck at his arm instead of sitting on it. He never did end up sitting on Austin's arm.

Here's a close up of the bird . . . pretty but stubborn!

Samara was the next volunteer but changed her mind at the last minute so the bird sat on Mommy's arm instead . . . while Samara got as far away from that big bird as possible!

Here's the creepy part of the place that gave me heebie geebies. Bats, snakes and other icky stuff.

Some of my favourite pictures.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spoiled Already

We’ve already gotten a few gifts for Denver and I just wanted to post some of them.

This is a crafty picture hanger made out of a clipboard. It looks really cute with Denver’s picture on it. I will continue to change the picture as we get new updated ones every month. A very unique gift – thanks Anna!

This set of onesies and pairs of socks are from Catherine. What a special treat to get a package in the mail with Denver’s name on it. Even though he’s the second boy, it’s great to have new socks and onesies instead of all hand me downs. Thanks Catherine!

This baby gift set is from Sarah and her family. Sarah and her husband have a daughter adopted from China and came home last summer with twins from Ethiopia. They are such a beautiful family and it’s been great getting to know Sarah and the kids. Thanks for the special keepsake for Denver, Sarah!

This is such an adorable little book from Ray, Mag and Madeline about all the things boys love . . . especially the big cardboard box. The words are fun and the pictures are great. Ray and Mag were part of our China travel group and have already welcomed Denver into our #244 family. Thank you so much guys!

This next gift is from two other families from our China travel group. Jason & Alex and Paul & Angela – thank you so much for this cute little board book and the gift certificate from Shoppers. That will definitely come in handy when we go to buy half the pharmacy to take along to Ethiopia. You guys know all about it! Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.

It’s so awesome to know how many people are already loving little Denver and anticipating his arrival. Thank you everyone for your continued love, prayers and support. It means a lot to us!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fellow Adoptive Moms

One of the ways our adoption journey #2 (to Denver) is different from journey #1 (to Samara) is that we don’t have a travel group. The first time around we were put together with a bunch of other families and we became very close with these people, before, during and after our trip to China.

Over the last several months, I have gotten to know some other Christian adoptive moms that all live in the area. For some of us, this is our first time adopting. Some of us are on our second adoption journey and one mom is already home from her second adoption journey. (We're all adopting, or have adopted, from Ethiopia). I love this group of women and cherish these new friendships. It’s great how we all encourage each other and share in the ups and downs of international adoption.

There are seven of us now in this group and it’s not always easy to pick a time to get together that works for all of us. We’ve done gatherings with the kids and we’ve had ladies night out. This past Monday, everyone (including some of the kids) was able to make it to my place for lunch to celebrate our referral of Denver. It was so fun to show off our new son and just to hang out and catch up with everyone again.

Thank you so much Anna, Liesl, Tracy, Liz, Sarah and Mary Catherine for sharing in our joy. I’m so glad that God has brought us all together and I look forward to celebrating more referrals hopefully in the near future. (Tracy . . . I think you’re next!!!)

Here’s the dessert we had after lunch. (Thanks Mary Catherine!)

Gotcha Day Party 2009

Last weekend we had our annual Gotcha Day Anniversary Party with our China travel group. We rented the gym at our elementary school in Dundas again so the kids had tons of room to run and play. The bouncy castle was a huge hit and so were the parachute games (thanks Jason and Alex). Eight out of the twelve families were there and once again we had a great time. The kids have grown so much over the past year and especially since Gotcha Day in 2007. It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sibling Reactions

I always think it's fun to go back and remember what Victoria and Austin's reactions were when we got Samara's referral so I want to remember how the kids reacted when we got Denver's referral too.

After the phone call was done and we had checked out his pictures, Victoria went back outside to play. She was so excited that we FINALLY got to see her new brother's face. She kept knocking on the window and mouthing the words "he's so yummy!" to me. The next day she was so excited to take his picture to school to show him off.

Austin, despite not feeling well, was also very excited to know a little more about his new brother. He was pumped that the gender was 100% confirmed and that he really would have a brother. (We had kind of warned the kids that there was a small chance we would be referred a girl. It wouldn't be the first time that someone got the opposite gender of what they requested). At one point the following day when Austin was still kinda sick, I walked past his room and peered in to see him lying on his bed just looking at Denver's picture. How cute is that?

Samara wasn't as impressed with the whole thing. I'm not sure she knew exactly what was going on. We had been talking about "the baby from Ethiopia" for a while but she's pretty young to understand the whole thing. So now that there's a picture and more talk about this baby that's going to come live with us, she's not sure what to make of it all . . . especially at first. Everytime we would talk about Denver or anything having to do with him, she would say "no!". Finally a few days later when we were praying at dinnertime, Mike said something about Denver coming home and Samara looked at me with a big grin on her face and said, "Den Den - home!". It was so precious and it felt like she finally approved of the whole thing. I guess she just needed a little time to process the whole thing. Now we often hear her talking about "Den Den".

Another funny thing was when we first talked about Denver, Samara kept saying "Opi". We laughed so hard because we assumed she was calling him that name. So it was a joke for a few days that our baby from Ethiopia was going to be called "Opi". That didn't really last very long but all of a sudden today, I clued in. This afternoon Samara and I were talking about Denver and I asked her where Denver lives. She said "Austin's room" (because that's where he'll live when he gets home). I then asked her where he is right now and she said, "Opi - ahhhh". So that's her way of saying Ethiopia!!! So now I figure that's what she was saying all along when we thought she was naming him Opi.

Two weeks later, the excitement hasn't worn off at all. The kids still keep saying how cute he is and "I wonder what Denver's doing right now". We all stare at his picture a hundred times a day and can't stop thinking and talking about him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Birthday

When we received our referral for Denver, one of the first pieces of information we received is his birthdate - December 20.

As we were going about making our phone calls to family and friends, my friend Anna asked me if I knew what we were doing on December 20, 2008 - the day Denver was born. I really had to think about that one and as I was on the phone with her, I started looking for my calendar from last year. To be honest I couldn't even remember at that point what year it was and my mind was going crazy. A few days later, after the initial referral excitement had cooled a tad bit, I thought back and remembered exactly what we did on December 20, 2008. The kids were finished school on the 19th and so we told them we would spend the following morning, a Saturday, hanging out and opening Christmas presents with just our family. (We like to try and spread the Christmas celebrations out a little so it's not so overwhelming). So that's what we did. And then in the afternoon, we went out and bought a new van. So as exciting as that day was for us, little did we know that another huge event, that would change our lives, was happening on the other side of the world . . . one we wouldn't even know about until several weeks later.

There's also another thing about Denver's birthday being on December 20 that made us really laugh. Some people have caught on to this but I'll enlighten those of you who don't know us as well. Denver is our third child with a birthday in December. That's right . . . three kids with birthdays in December. We thought it was busy with just two! And here's how they land:

Austin - December 16
Victoria - December 18
Denver - December 20

Isn't that funny? We couldn't have planned that if we tried! We used to joke about getting referred a baby with a birthday in December but never actually thought it would happen. We had no idea Denver was going to be so young when we received our referral and so we really didn't think it was even possible. But it happened and despite the craziness at our house in the month of December . . . we are thrilled! I'm thinking Samara may feel a little left out in December but will be feeling pretty special when it's all about her in March.

Oh and one more thing, Denver has the same birthday as my brother . . . so now he'll get to share his birthday with Uncle David every year.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Denver's Quilt

Since I have nothing to do these days (LOL!!!), I'm calling out for fabric for Denver's quilt. I would love to get going on this project but so far I have very few squares. (Thank you very much to everyone who has already sent one in). I would love this to be as successful as Samara's was so please, please, please contribute to it. If you need our mailing address, just email me and I'll send it to you. Below is the original letter we sent out with all the details. Thank you in advance for being part of this special keepsake for our son.

Dear Family and Friends,

While we were on our first adoption journey – our journey to Samara – we did a lot of reading and studying about China and Chinese culture and we came across an interesting tradition from the northern part of China. When welcoming and celebrating a new life, family and friends are called to put together a “Bai Jia Bei” or 100 Good Wishes Quilt. The quilt maker invites 100 people to contribute a single square or patch of fabric to be included in the quilt. Often times the squares would come from the fabric of their worn clothing and it is said that the luck, energy, and good wishes of the people who wore these clothes now surrounds the child when he/she is wrapped in the quilt. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation. We thought this was a great tradition and, as many of you know, we made a Bai Jia Bei for Samara; however, for us it represents the love, support and prayers of our family and friends. It was such a neat project and really amazing to see how many people anticipated Samara’s arrival and loved her even before she was here.

Even though it’s a Chinese tradition, we would really like to do another 100 Good Wishes Quilt for our little one from Ethiopia and so we’re asking for your help to make this possible by contributing a piece of fabric for the quilt.

The squares do not need to be from old clothing but can be scraps or newly purchased material – something that either has special meaning to you or just something you like. We would love to have as many of you as possible contribute a square to our quilt. You do not have to be a “crafty” person to participate. If your children would like to contribute their own squares and blessings/wishes, that’s great too. We know it will be a beautiful treasure and keepsake for our little one.

If you are interested, here’s what we need:

1. One 7” x 7” square of 100% cotton material (washed and ironed before cutting the square to allow for shrinkage). If you are more comfortable sending a larger piece of fabric and leaving it for me to cut to exact size, that’s fine too.

2. Along with your quilt square please include a “wish” which could be a prayer, poem, thoughtful quote, Bible verse, original thought, or whatever you choose on a piece of paper along with your name.

3. Along with this piece of paper with the wish and your name, include a small square of the fabric (can be about 1” x 1”) that you’re sending for the quilt. This small swatch will help us to identify your fabric within the quilt. The piece of paper can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like to make it and will be kept in a scrapbook for our little one to read. We know that he will love to read the blessings from each of you and find the fabric you’ve contributed within the quilt. If the fabric has special meaning to you, please include that information on the paper as well.

You can either give the fabric and paper to us personally or put it in the mail. If you need our mailing address, let me know via email (link on the side bar) and I'll send it to you.

Your help will make this a wonderful keepsake. Thank you so much.

Love Mike, Karen, Victoria, Austin and Samara Carmody

P.S. If you've never seen a 100 Good Wishes Quilt, click here to see a picture of Samara’s quilt so you have an idea what the finished project will look like.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Happy Gotcha Day!

Two years ago today, February 1, 2007, our precious Samara was placed in our arms! It's so hard to believe that's it been two years already. She has added so much love and joy to our lives and we are so thankful to God for blessing our family with her.

We also want to say Happy Gotcha Day to all the other little ones in our travel group: Olivia, Sarah, Hailey, Zoe, Justin, Renee, Maya, Madeline, Emma, Joshua and Sophie. You are all such blessings and have brightened the lives of so many people. Hopefully we'll see most of you next Saturday . . . can't wait to celebrate with you all again!