It's been a few days since we got home from our annual beach vacation/adoption reunion and I'm still not ready to face reality. As always it was a great trip - the beach, swimming, sandcastles, kites, watching my little ones play on the same playground equipment I played on as a kid, the water park, the farm and the wildlife recovery centre, watching the sunset as the kids played and played and played. No campfires this year as there is a total fire ban because of our incredibly dry weather, but we still managed to make s'mores happen. We had a bigger group this year which only made it more fun for Adeline, although she does still have a very special bond with her "first friend" who she shared a crib with in Vietnam. I love watching that relationship develop as the girls get older and it's so special for Adeline to keep that bond that she had from when she was first born. We were able to make a couple of Vivian's fondest dreams come true - she got to pet and hug and take care of a bunny at the farm and she got to see owls up close at the wildlife recovery centre. No hugging of the owls though, which is what she really wanted. At the farm Adeline's tender wee heart just about burst with love for the chicks and it took all we had to convince her to leave their pen. We went a month later than we usually do and the weather was hot, but it was lovely and cool by the beach and the shallow water coming in over the warm sandy beach was incredibly warm. Vivian was absolutely delighted by the beach and she especially loved being in the water.
I don't want to be home with dirty dishes and that weird smell in the basement and eight hundred things on my to-do list. I want to be back at the beach. This time of year I always start fantasizing about moving there, but I know there are dishes, smells and lists when you live there and you can't be on holidays forever.
How many more days until our next trip?
Just a family celebration for Vivian this year. We started out the day with a waffle brunch. With strawberries and whipped cream, of course.
Here Vivian is working hard to show everybody that she's two. She kept saying "I'm a big girl! I'm TWO!".
Halfway through the day, Vivian got her first big girl haircut. She was extremely patient and she even interacted with our fabulous stylist a bit. The new 'do is taking some getting used to for me, and I still don't know if I should have just kept toughing it out and not gone for the bangs. Vivi does look adorable though, and with her super fine and wispy hair that is still filling in at the temples, I do think bangs were probably the right choice, right? She looks like a kid all of a sudden. Where's my baby gone?
After a nap, Vivian was ready for CAKE! She was an expert at blowing out candles. We had to do a few retakes because Vivi blew them out before they were even fully lit, and I wanted a classic "blowing out the candles" photo. No one minded - Vivian and Adeline took turns blowing them out again and again and then it was time to eat!
My tiny bit of crafting for this birthday was the hat. Vivi has a book about birthdays and she was really into the classic cone hats, so I thought I'd make her a special one for her big day. Nothing fancy, just card stock, fake flowers, glue and a bit of elastic. I expected her to wear it for approximately four seconds, but she kept it on for a lot of the day.
We had other birthday fun planned but the pool was out as Vivian is working through her second back-to-back ear infection and the forest fires are making the air quality terrible and the weather extremely hot and humid, so we just stayed in and Vivi and Adeline had a lot of silly sister fun together. Those two can sure make each other laugh!
Happy Birthday to my littlest big girl!
And the last moments before I break down and get Vivian a big girl haircut.
I just love this girl so much! She's so joyful most of the time, even though she's suffering with an ongoing ear infection.
All kids love to do this when they're taking off their dress, right? It's not just my kids who find it fascinating and hilarious, I hope.
Woohoo! Now I am fully aware that in roughly two weeks I'm likely going to be wishing for school to start again, but right now I'm super excited for the summer break and all the good things that are going to happen. Okay, I'm excited about our beach holiday, staying up late, fireworks, jumping on the trampoline, picnics, parks, bike riding, running in the sprinkler, eating raspberries from our garden, family movie nights, swimming, popsicles and all those things, but right now I'm most excited about not having to pack a lunch every evening!!!
Adeline LOVED kindergarten and she loved her teacher. She told me recently that Monday was her favourite day of the week. She told me "I like hanging out with you guys, but on Mondays I get to go back to school, so it's my favourite". I hope she always feels that way!
Saying goodbye to her current school was strange for me. I HAD to find something else for her as I knew it wasn't good for her spirit, her heart or her brain and I was thrilled when she got into the private school of our choice, but now I'm feeling quite nostalgic about her kindergarten. It certainly wasn't all bad, her teacher was wonderful and Adeline learned many things. Her teacher, as well as lots of other staff members from her school, are moving on this year, so I think I'm not the only one who realized that things just weren't right there. It's a bad combination of a government who has stripped education to the bare bones and a demographic of children and families who could use a higher than average level of support all adding up to a very stressful environment where most children are not able to meet their potential whether they're a bright kid like Adeline who is held back or a child with extra needs who struggles and gets no help. But still...I was a touch misty saying goodbye to kindergarten. I guess it's the known versus the unknown and just another milestone in my girl's growing up.
Adeline was just plain sad on the last day of school, but she is excited to be in Grade One and she's excited about her move to her new school. Hopefully we can distract her with summer fun and she won't miss school too much!
A few weeks ago Adeline performed in the spring violin concert. Yes, it was long enough ago that it was called the "spring concert" even though we're well into summer here already. Adeline played with the group for almost an hour as she went far back into her repertoire to play her very easiest songs like "Hot Cross Buns" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" to give back up to the beginners and she played the harder songs like a series of Bach Minuets and some fiddle tunes with her class. She also played the songs she learned for the music festival as solos. Since the concert Adeline has graduated to Book Two and this was a very big deal to her. She is eager to practice every day and she also plays on her own just for fun or to work through some challenging passages and we have been busking downtown a few times because Adeline loves to have an audience and she likes to go get ice cream with the money she makes. She is whipping through Book Two, learning a new song every week or two and I know that she will have a big jump forward this summer as she always plays a lot more in the summer because we have lots of unstructured time, she's much less tired than she is during the school year and her violin is always out so she can pick it up and play. Even on school days she usually picks up her violin and plays through her current piece a few times first thing in the morning - it's a lovely way for all of us to wake up and then if we're home she'll go back to it throughout the day. Adeline even uses her violin to help regulate her feelings. She was watching "Magic School Bus" and I heard her start to play her violin. She told me there was a "scary skeleton part" so she played Musette, which she says is the prettiest song she knows so that the scary feelings would go away, and it worked. Adeline may not end up a professional musician, but she is getting so much from learning the violin. I'm glad she talked us into it!
There is a video of some of the highlights of the performance. It's rather long as I just couldn't decide which of her new pieces to leave out!
Wowza...Time is FLYING. Seriously. This year has gone by in a WHOOSH. I can't believe that Vivian is standing on the doorstep of two and has been home for more than a year. She is so delightful lately. Mostly extremely happy and singing and laughing through her day. Here's a snapshot of where our sweet littlest is right now...
Toddlers are so fun! Crazy and exhausting and totally illogical and mess-making-machines, but the fun makes all those other things seem so less important. When we're having a less than magical day and the house is a total disaster and we're having scrambled eggs and toast for dinner yet again, I remind myself that in the not too distant future we will have teenagers and a tidy house. I hope we'll still laugh every day and love each other fiercely, but I know I'll miss my little girls.
We went to a Fun Fair at Adeline's new school. There was a photo booth with tons of costumes. Adeline dug through all the fairy wings, princess dresses and cute animal costumes to find something that really spoke to her soul...
No, Adeline has never seen "Star Wars" and probably won't for a long time to come as she's very sensitive about "meanness" in movies. But there's just something about Darth Vader...
Adeline made a new friend at Butterfly Gardens and now she's OBSESSED with going back. Little E is an eclectus parrot that is free to roam in the garden, but who often chooses to interact with people and he's especially fond of women - before his rescue and retirement to Butterfly Gardens he likely didn't know any men, as he doesn't like to get as close to them. We found Little E near a quiet out-of-the-way bench and Adeline sat a few feet away from him. He got closer and closer as they chatted and flirted with each other for about 30 minutes, until we finally were able to drag Adeline away. She immediately came home and drew a portrait of Little E and started making plans for when they can be together again. I totally get it. She feels like she had a real MOMENT with an animal who was as interested in her as she was in him, and that's powerful. We'll take Adeline back soon - hopefully Little E will be just as happy to see her as she is to see him!
We celebrate Mother's Day as a day for me, but at the same time we celebrate Mothers Day (the apostrophe makes all the difference) as the day we honour the three Mothers in our family - me and the birth mothers of my daughters. Some Mothers-by-adoption get very territorial about this special day and don't want to be reminded that they share that title with another woman. For me though, it's one of the days when my girls' first Mothers are very much on my mind and close to my heart, and I'm sure as they grow it will be same for Vivian and Adeline. I know that the human heart is big enough to know "Mom" in more than one way and that any feeling, either good or bad, that my daughter has about her birth Mother takes absolutely nothing away from the feelings she has for me. Adeline has not wanted to talk about "adoption stuff" or birth parents for quite awhile now. She refuses to read any of our adoption-themed books and she'll look at her life book but always skips the pages about her birth and gets right to the part about us coming to Vietnam to bring her home. She will listen when I talk about adoption, but she always declines to join the conversation and she often tries to change the subject. I wondered if she would be resistant to being reminded of her Vietnam Mother on this day, but it seems like she is reaching a new place. When I put three candles on the cake, Adeline asked me why, and I told her that it was because we were celebrating three Moms today: me - the every-day-forever-Mama - and her and Vivian's birth Mothers. I told Adeline again that they were an important part of our family even if we couldn't know them, and that I was very thankful to them for taking such good care of their babies when they were pregnant and for taking the babies to a safe place where they could find a forever family after they made the decision that they couldn't be the every-day Mom. Adeline said she wanted to make a wish and that I would blow out one candle for me, and then Vivian would blow out one for her birth mother and then Adeline would blow out the last one for her birth Mother. I was hoping that's how it would happen, but I didn't know and wanted to leave it open for Adeline's input. I made my wish that both their birth Mothers would be safe and that they could somehow know in their heart that their girls were happy and loved and that they were growing up with a good family and would always be taken care of. I told Adeline she could make her wish in her heart or say it out loud and after making her wish she blew out her candle and she seemed very happy with the moment. After Mothers Day, Adeline seems a little more open about talking about her birth family. I've always kept the door open and kept the conversation going, even if it was one-sided, in hopes that someday again she would want to talk. I know just because she wasn't talking about it didn't mean she wasn't thinking about it. Adeline is a deep thinker and a worrier and this is big stuff and all we can't take away any of the hard stuff, just be there for them as they work through it.
I wish those two Mothers in Vietnam could see their girls laughing together while they jump on the bed or watch them snuggled close while the kindergartener reads to the toddler. I wish they could see them running in fields and blowing dandelions and dancing. I wish they could know that their girls are safe and loved and happy. I can't imagine just not knowing and I wish I could give them peace.
Mother's Day 2014 is right up there with the worst days of my life and it was certainly one of the worst days of both Vivian's and Adeline's short lives, but this year? Mother's Day 2015 was full of sweetness. Last year we were still in Vietnam and Mother's Day was our hardest day of the whole trip. Vivi had been with us a few days, but she was still crying almost all of the time and would only settle a little if I would just walk her back and forth in the room. If I stopped walking or tried to sit down with her she would begin to get hysterical. What made Mother's Day in particular so hard was that Adeline was sick with a fever, and all she wanted was Mama to cuddle her and to wear her bathrobe (which was hanging on the back of the bathroom door at home) and to be in her own house, and I couldn't give her any of those things, so she cried and cried. David tried to take Vivian from me, which didn't work and he tried to comfort Adeline, but she only wanted me, so it was a solid day of heartbreaking crying from both my girls, often at the same time. Once they were both in bed, I cried as well, just from absolute emotional exhaustion. I think David poured some Kahlua on ice cream and we watched some "American Idol" on television and I know he told me how strong I was and what a good Mom I was. I think we got to sit together for a little bit on the couch before Vivian woke up and realized I wasn't laying next to her and needed me back, but it's all pretty hazy.
I told myself then that "It will be different next year. This is NOT our new normal. It will get better and by next Mother's Day it will all be good". I don't know if I totally believed it at the time, but it turns out I was right.
This year WAS totally different. Adeline had worked hard on so many surprises for me. There were sunflower seedlings and cards and a handmade necklace and roses and cake and so many hugs and kisses and declarations of "I Love You" from both my little ones. Adeline kept declaring "We're spoiling you!" and she was right! My choice for a family activity for Mother's Day was the beach, which I know both the girls love. It wasn't as sunny a day as it has been, but that didn't stop them from getting soaked and sandy and having a wonderful time!
I love my family so much and I'm so lucky to be Mama to such wonderful, happy, loving, girls.
This has been the fastest year of my life. One year ago today, we met our baby girl for the first time and then we were quickly whisked away for the ceremony that would make us a family forever.
Look how excited I was on the morning of May 5th to be meeting our baby girl! Even though you think you're prepared for the worst, you have NO IDEA how it's going to feel when things get hard...
It all happened so fast that day. Too fast. Too fast for pictures and too fast to even really remember how it all happened. Our poor girl was terrified and so very sick with a high fever and she fought and shrieked and shook her head "NO!" over and over again. When put in stressful situations I get very very calm, and in all the photos I've got a cheerful smile on my face and I look like the happiest new Mama in the world, and while I know in my heart I was happy, I had packed all my feelings away and had gone into survival mode immediately. I knew we were in for a rough time and that I now had two little ones counting on me to get us through. I worried about Vivi and I worried about Adeline, but mostly I just didn't think at all right then. It was noisy and chaotic and scary and my coping strategy was to just be calm, do the next thing I needed to do, and to keep smiling so that Adeline would think that everything was okay and so that Vivian could hopefully see me as non-threatening. I was right - things only got harder as we settled into our first days together. Vivian got much sicker with a respiratory infection and then had a big allergic reaction to the medication we gave her. She went from being absolutely shut down to crying non-stop for days and then to settling somewhat if I would just walk and walk and walk with her. Poor Adeline loved her sister immediately but she was understandably sad and angry for what she felt was the total loss of her Mama in those days when Vivi needed all of me. Once home, we had many months of Vivi grieving and worrying and needing to be touching me twenty-four hours a day to make sure I wouldn't disappear. We all did everything we could in those early months to help Vivian feel secure and loved and to teach her that family means forever. We had issues with getting Vivian to eat solid foods and we had worries over some very significant delays. BUT...a year later...and it's so good. SO SO GOOD. Not that it was ever bad, it was just hard sometimes. Very very hard. But even when it was hard it was good too, you know?
May 5th, 2014...
Leaving the orphanage for the last time...
The nounous gave Vivian some medication as we left the orphanage which brought her fever down and she snuggled in with her special person to have a little sleep as we drove to the office where our Giving and Receiving Ceremony was, so once there we had a few moments of brightness where Vivian wasn't crying and she made eye contact with David and I and was very curious about Adeline. The calm before the storm...
And then the storm...
Vivian had to be pulled off her nounou when it was time to go, and she fought hard as she was put in the van with us. This is all a completely typical and healthy reaction to being taken from everything you know, but it was hard for us to feel like we were causing so much pain. Adeline was starting to get upset as this wasn't normal "crying baby" crying and it was impossible not to feel the depths of Vivian's fear. As we drove away from the Civil Affairs office, David quickly made a bottle and while big tears never stopped rolling down Vivi's face, she did drink the bottle. By the time we had made the 45 minute drive back to the hotel, the tears had stopped and Vivian was coping by shutting down, which was just as heartbreaking to see as the crying.
Look at that face. I look so calm and happy. Inside I'm saying to myself over and over "It will be okay. It will be okay. It will be okay. We'll do whatever she needs. It's okay. We can do this. It will be okay".
And it's SO much more than okay.
Vivian is happy, loving, funny, stubborn, healthy, smart, gorgeous, chatty, securely attached, playful and a fabulous little person in every way. She loves dresses and sugar and dancing and cuddling and birds and big trucks and being outside. More than anything she loves her family. I am a lucky lucky person to be on this journey with this amazing soul. I don't know the circumstances that led Vivi's birth family to be unable to parent her, but I am so thankful that when Vivi needed a Mama the universe picked me for the job.
Look at that girl now...One year of family later...
She just glows with happiness, doesn't she?
Adoption is hard, and it begins for the child with so many profound losses and traumatizing events. But family? Family is sweet. Family doesn't make the hard stuff go away, but hopefully it gives a soft place of kindness and comfort and understanding where the hard stuff can become a little less hard.
Adeline was a star at the Honours Concert. I think that it was her confidence as much as her playing that made the committee want Adeline as a part of this important event. She had to be a good audience member for almost 2 hours before it was her turn, which I was more worried about than how she would perform on the stage, but she did great. When her turn finally arrived, Adeline BEAMED as she walked up onto the stage and you could tell the audience of nearly 200 people was really enjoying how tiny and pretty and happy to be there she was. She gave a loud and proud introduction of herself and her piece and then she played well with a lot of energy and style. The audience really exploded with applause when she was done and then Adeline bowed and smiled and skipped off the stage. Sadly, there were no recording devices allowed in the theatre, so I'll just have to remember what a wonderful moment it was for Adeline.
When the concert was over, Adeline wanted to go across the street to a lovely woodland garden we had told her about and after skipping across the stones in the pond a few times, she thought that David should go get her violin so that she could play a few tunes. None of these are the pieces she played in the festival, but they are songs Adeline said reminded her of "spring" and "water".
Adeline has had a great couple of weeks! After hearing that there would be no possibility of Adeline moving schools, things changed and in the fall she will be attending an amazing, peaceful, child-centred private school which has lots of opportunities in music and the arts, a very culturally diverse student body and staff and a wonderful feeling of community. We are all so relieved and happy (and are busy cutting our budget to the bone to afford it). I recently volunteered in Adeline's classroom and it was worse than I had suspected - just so much physical and verbal aggression and a dreadful atmosphere of waiting for the next kid to blow and hoping it wouldn't be you that was the target. When I asked Adeline if it was always like that or if it was just on field trip days, she told me it was "Pretty much always like that - I just go invisible when they're being mean. There are lots of mean kids in my school". Poor thing. No wonder she's stressed out and tired and on edge after coming home from school many days. If it wasn't almost summer I would have pulled her that very day and started homeschooling, although I know Adeline (our social butterfly) would NOT have been keen on it and I know that she witnesses a lot of aggression but is very rarely the victim. After talking with the teacher, we did have Adeline given some more appropriate work to do at least for part of the day, which helps me feel a little better about her being there. For example they were all reading from the "A" and "B" level books, which Adeline could have read when she started kindergarten, and she was starting to dread her homework and her reading time at school. After talking with the teacher, she started giving Adeline "E" and "F" level books which are at just the right level of challenge for her and now she's eager to do her home reading. She's still spending a LOT of the day doing colouring sheets, but I suppose a month and a half more of that won't hurt her, and once summer comes we have lots of plans to follow her interests and do some exploring and learning this summer. Adeline is always very busy at home - you just can't stop her! She loves to write in her notebook and she's currently copying in information about each planet and doing a drawing to go along with the facts, she's decided to learn the colours in French so I made her a chart, she's working on teaching herself cursive and she is fascinated with the world map we put up at her eye level and she spends a lot of time looking at it and asking interesting questions.
Last week, Adeline played her violin in a non-competitive, but professionally adjudicated music festival and she did a wonderful job. She played two pieces, "All Through the Night" a traditional lullaby and then "Snooker Table" a very upbeat, fun and FAST song. She worked really really hard to be ready, she learned vibrato and double-stops and some tricky string crossings for her pieces and the adjudicator had so many positive things to say about her performance. The festival is serious business so there was no photography or video allowed, but I do have pictures of Adeline ready to go early in the morning and her enjoying a celebratory waffle and ice cream afterwards. David took Tuesday off work and we made it a day all about Adeline. I think she enjoyed having her Mom and Dad all to herself while Vivian stayed with Nana as much as she enjoyed performing!
We thought our festival experience was done until next year, but yesterday Adeline was asked to play at the Honours Concert on Sunday. This is a very big deal and we weren't expecting it, as they generally never have any of the little kids perform at this concert. The concert is in a real theatre with a huge stage. I'm nervous for Adeline, but she's just READY. I love her confidence!
So happy that so many good things are happening for Adeline right now. She deserves nothing but good things. She's an amazing kid and I'm so lucky to be her Mama!
More proof today that the world is a better place with my big girl in it... Today is Adeline's Special Helper day at Kindergarten. One of the things the Special Helper gets to do is to choose two friends to walk the attendance sheet down to the office. This morning, without prompting from anyone, she told me that she is going to pick the two children in her class who never get chosen. These are boys that have had a lot of trouble making friends and she had noticed, without anyone pointing it out, that they put up their hand to be picked every day and no one ever chose them. So Adeline picked them, because she knew it was the right thing to do. She picked those two boys because it was fair and right and she could feel what it would feel like to put your hand up and never be chosen, even though she is often picked for this special job. She chose them even though she knew it might go against what the other girls think is right and she might have to deal with her friends being mad at her. Adeline had thought it all out and made her plan. The world needs more compassionate, kind and thoughtful people who are willing to stand up for what's right.
Gorgeous weather, happy girls and chocolate...who could ask for more?
Dying eggs -
Community Easter party -
Hunting for eggs Easter morning -
Enjoying the surprises in their Easter baskets - Adeline was thrilled to get a package of 24 limited edition 80's Glam sharpies. The colours are amazing and Adeline is loving drawing with them! Vivi liked the chocolate best, but is also spending a lot of time snuggling her soft and sweet new bunny.
Playing outside in the sunshine -
Truly a great weekend!
Vivian found this way-too-big hat yesterday and insisted on wearing it all afternoon...
But she didn't wear it like that. She wore it like this...
Vivi couldn't see a thing, she kept bumping into furniture and walls and she fell down A LOT, but it totally cracked her up. When it fell off her head (as it did again and again and again) she would cry until she succeeded in getting it back on her noggin, and then she would be full of giggles again.
Almost-two is a truly great age! She makes us laugh each and every day, which is good, as we've needed some laughs lately. It seems like it's one thing after another, culminating with David being in a car accident yesterday. It could have been much, much worse as it was on a higher speed stretch of road and the other driver didn't see David at all. Luckily David saw her coming into his lane and slowed down as much as he could to lesson the impact. No one was hurt and the car is driveable but banged up. Hopefully that's the last thing that will go wrong for us for awhile!
We had a lot of adventures over the two weeks of spring break. There was some rain, but luckily not too much and we were able to get out almost every day as a family to do something fun. Always on our list is a trip to the gardens to explore and ride the carousel. Adeline is getting braver every time on the carousel but still needs someone to stand next to her and Vivian likes to ride snuggled beside Mama or Daddy on the peacock bench so we couldn't get any pictures on the carousel. The gardens were so quiet that Adeline had her pick of animals and chose the orca, because she thinks it goes the highest. Outside Adeline is getting way TOO bold on Annabelle!
THIS is how much Vivi likes to be outside...
Oh, and there were flowers there too...
No matter where I am or what we're doing, it's hard to look at anything but my two amazing daughters!
I didn't do much crafting for our second wee one, as I just didn't ever think there really would be a second, and I didn't know if we were waiting for a little sister or a little brother. Then once we found out about our girl, it was all so very "maybe" until the last minute when it was "now now NOW". But I did knit a couple of little sweaters, and I'm so happy that Vivian is still squeezing into this one. The weather has been GORGEOUS here lately, and the sweater isn't really needed, but she looks so adorable in it and she's happy to wear it since it has short sleeves - Vivian isn't a fan of long sleeves these days.
Seeing this really makes me itchy to get knitting again and make Vivi something that will fit her in the fall. I'm picturing the same sweater but in a gently variegated freshly-fallen-leaves palette. This is the "In Threes" baby cardigan pattern I found on Ravelry. I never buy patterns, but I was in such a frazzled state when I was looking for a project that I wanted something that I didn't have to think about and that was guaranteed to turn out right without any brain power from me. This pattern is perfect - easy, seamless, sleeveless (knitting sleeves is my least favourite part of any sweater project) and so very sweet. My front edges roll, which bugs me unendingly, but I don't think that's a flaw in the pattern. I think it's because I used some leftover acrylic-blend yarn from Adeline's rainbow blanket so I couldn't block it properly and it's also stretched pretty tight over Vivi's adorable toddler belly, which both contribute to the rolling, I'm sure. At the time I was getting started, I just wanted to get knitting and used the first yarn I came to that I had enough of, as I needed something to busy my hands and mind while we waited to finally bring home our one and complete our family.
Here's Vivian wearing the sweater last summer right after we got home from Vietnam...
Oh my has she grown! Well, not so much in the hair department, but everywhere else...I don't know why she's looking so serious in the pictures I took this afternoon and so gleeful in this picture from last June. Last June Vivi was crying pretty well every minute she wasn't touching her Mama when we were out in the garden and now being outside is Vivian's ultimate happy place and she loves to just explore and play as I putter around.
March 5th was a day for celebrating. Vivian turned 20 months old, she has been with her family for 10 months and most monumental of all, we have finally reached the point where Vivian has been with her family for longer than she was without us. Vivian spent 303 days at the orphanage and today she has spent a greater amount of days with her family than she did there. It FEELS big, even though I know it's just another day. I know it really doesn't change anything and it certainly doesn't negate the life she led before we were united or downplay the part that biology and her first family plays in who she is or erase any of the hard things she has experienced. Vivi is an amazing little person - loving, funny, stubborn, happy, curious, joyful, smart, gorgeous - oh you know I could go on and on... Those 303 days helped make Vivian who she is today, and they will always be with her as a part of her history. With the combined influence of her biological gifts, her early months being cared for at the orphanage and her time at home with us, Vivi has grown into a wonderful girl and I'm so happy that for all the rest of our days I will be her Mama and she will never be without family again.
It's a big one - 10 years! We had plans to be back on the beautiful beach in Mexico where we got married to celebrate our tenth anniversary, but instead we'll be leaving both the girls with their Nana for our first child-free lunch and afternoon in ten months. We're giddy-with-excitement at the idea of hot food and adult conversation! I am so very lucky to be sharing my life with my one true love, my best friend, my team-mate, my biggest fan and the man who continues to make me swoon fifteen years after we first met and ten years after we finally got around to saying "I do". Sometimes life is hard and sometimes it's amazing, and I wouldn't want anyone by my side to for all the worry and sadness and sweetness and joy that life brings but my amazing husband!
My sweet baby girl is all toddler now! She makes us laugh every day - just so cute and funny. Here's a brief list of where my girl is today, as she celebrates making this planet a better place for 19 months!
She IS a Cutie-Cakes! And smart and funny and curious and beautiful and absolutely amazing!
Love my little-big-girl so much!
Okay, January, you can't bring me down today. Yes, all my worries are still there, but you know what? My life has so much sweetness and light in it, so I'd better take some time to appreciate it. Even if they're small things, here are a random list of 10 random things that are making me happy this Monday...
January has always been my least favourite month. Everything is just DARKER and HARDER after Christmas. This January...whew. Lots of stuff threatening to drag us down.
We've all had three really bad colds in a row, the first one starting way back at the beginning of December. We just had a two week break from snot and I thought maybe it was over, but Vivi was the first to succumb to the latest virus on Sunday and now Adeline and I are sick again and David is valiantly fighting it off (but probably losing).
We had a tough re-entry into the world after holidays and Adeline has been very out-of-sorts, tired and crying just about every evening and she has a bunch of new fears/old fears re-emerging. We are working through it and things seem to be getting better and Adeline seems to be calmer, more rested and more at ease this week, but it's hard seeing your child so fearful and not really knowing how to help. The fears she verbalizes are mostly about monsters and a fear of the dark and being alone, but I think it's deeper than that. Just getting her to talk and really listening to her has helped, I think, and we've given her some tools such as a loud cowbell by her bed so that she can sound an alarm if she needs to, permission to come camp out on the crib mattress at the foot of our bed any night and we're getting her a video monitor for her room so that she knows that we can see her at all times. Of course we tell her again and again that she is safe, that there is no such thing as monsters, that we will always protect her and that nothing will ever hurt her in her bed, but her fear is real and no amount of logic or love is going to make it go away right now.
We're also in the process of making some decisions about school as we are increasingly unhappy with Adeline's school. Actually, I don't want to say it's her school that is bad as the teachers, staff and policies are all great...it's the demographics in Adeline's class and the broken-ness of our public education system that has left Adeline's excellent kindergarten teacher alone with a group of 20 children, 15 of which are boys and the vast majority of which have come totally unprepared for kindergarten and are starting at the very basics academically (as an example, Adeline was the only child in her class who could rhyme or knew her letters). In Adeline's class there are two children with autism, one of whom is aggressive and physically violent on a daily basis (Adeline has been pushed, tripped a few times and punched in the neck twice and has also endured verbal attacks and lots of "mean looks" from this child). There is also at least one other child who has daily anger issues/impulse control issues, but luckily for Adeline he sees himself as her protector right now. Then there's a new English speaker who could use some extra attention...how can Adeline's teacher do any teaching with all this on her shoulders? Adeline is very sensitive and this constant miasma of fear and aggression in her class takes a toll on her emotionally and the noise and chaos of her class is too much for her senses to process and her teacher says that Adeline often wears the noise-cancelling headphones. Adeline's teacher describes her as a model student, but that's not enough for us. She's bright and respectful and a rule follower and came to kindergarten with some good academic and social skills, but she is getting NOTHING at school. While her classmates hold scissors for the first time and learn what sound "B" makes, Adeline is spending her days doing colouring sheets and other busy work, living in fear of being punched in the neck and having to conform to silly girl culture or face being ostracized. We're seeing the start of girl-drama and bullying ("You can't wear red. If you wear any other colour than pink or purple then you're a boy and can't play with us", "You can only wear TWO braids. Only I can wear one braid, because there's only one Elsa at school and that's ME", "Dinosaurs are for boys. You shouldn't like dinosaurs", "Your glasses are weird", "You're a baby. Why are you so small?" etc etc etc). Unfortunately with only 5 girls in Adeline's class I can't just say "Go find better friends, who like you for who you are" as if you're not "in" with those narrow-minded and sometimes mean girls then you have no friends. Our neighbourhood is a hippie/yuppie/gentrified kind of place with lots of stay-at-home, well educated parents, but the other demographic at Adeline's school is literally from the other side of the tracks. Other grades have a mix of both neighbourhoods or are mostly families from our neighbourhood, but there is no one from our 'hood in Adeline's class. One of the reasons we chose to send her to this school was so she could have friends in the neighbourhood, but that's not how it's gone. Many of the parents of Adeline's classmates show a real lack of respect for education by allowing huge numbers of absences and not making their children complete their assignments or sending them unprepared when we've been asked to do something at home. I don't want Adeline to think this is normal and the right attitude to have towards school and her classmates will never catch up, never mind thrive, without support from home. Adeline loves to go to school, but I do think that it's where her current fears and insecurities are coming from and I just don't see that she's learning anything at all except how to sit still and be quiet and I actually think her natural exuberance and desire to explore, experiment and learn is being dulled. So we're looking at options and have our fingers crossed that our first choice (a private school) comes through, because other than that I think I'm looking at home schooling and while I know I could do it and would enjoy it, Adeline is SO VERY SOCIAL that I don't think it's the best choice for her either. We just love Adeline so much and want her to have a fabulous life. She's an exceptional kid and she deserves a great education in a place where her needs are met, she isn't scared or overwhelmed, where she can learn among other children who are being taught that education is important and where she can hopefully make some good friends. I also hate that there is no music or art at Adeline's school - 30 minutes of singing a week isn't music and following instructions to make a craft exactly like the example isn't art. It's her spirit we're most concerned for though, and we think we've found a school where that spirit will be tended, and now we wait to see if we can get in and then start making plans to come up with the money...
So yeah. Lots going on in January.
But good things too...
Vivi is 18 months old now and is a HOOT. So cute and funny all day long. Talking in little sentences and learning new words all the time, playing, singing, dancing, laughing, hugging and kissing all day long, loving books and music and cookies... Just love that girl so much!
Adeline is back to violin lessons and is making good progress and continues to love it and be very proud of herself. She is excited to be preparing for her first music festival and she has made some lovely friends in her group class, which helps a little to mitigate the bad friends she has at school. Adeline has also made some great leaps forward in her swimming and is loving the water more and more. She and Vivian have also been doing some really nice playing and sweet interacting lately, which always warms my heart.
And February is coming... Hopefully in February we will find out that the private school has a spot for Adeline for the fall and maybe we'll have some of those glorious crisp and sunny days we often have in February that always improve my mood and trick me into thinking that spring is here.
Then spring...ahhh spring...I really feel like I NEED you this year.
Time to finally tell a secret.
On January 4th last year, we were getting ready to go to the pool for a family swim to end off our Christmas holiday. I was half in my bathing suit (which also made me half naked) when the phone rang. Usually if we don't recognize the number we let the machine get it, but something made me say to David "You should get that".
And it was our adoption agency calling. With a secret for us to keep and a wish to hold in our heart.
We were told not to tell anyone as it would just be too hard if it all fell through. Not to lose our hearts. To be hopeful but not to make any plans. That things were changing every single day in Vietnam and while they hoped that they would be asked to find a family for this sweet baby, it wasn't guaranteed. Even if they received her file, it was possible the match wouldn't be approved for our family. We were told that it could be up to a year before she could come home if the match was made. Maybe less. Maybe more. It could be that another agency in another country would get her file. It could be that her file would never be completed and she would remain at the orphanage.
We were asked...do you want to move forward to bring this baby home if everything goes as our agency hoped?
We didn't hesitate. Yes, yes, yes.
Then we went swimming. And every minute that Adeline was under water, David and I talked...and dreamed...and wished...and hoped...and made plans...and smiled...and worried. Luckily Adeline is almost always under water at the pool, as we had so many dreams and wishes and hopes and plans and smiles and worries that day. We vowed not to tell Adeline, as we knew that our hearts could survive if that beautiful baby never became our daughter, but we didn't know if Adeline's tender heart could withstand it, and we knew how hard the waiting would be for us, and how it would be impossible for Adeline.
Then we began to wait. And hope.
We were told that we would probably find out if baby Khanh had been assigned to our agency in a couple of weeks and then up to six months after that we would find out that we had been matched, then up to six months after that we would finally be able to travel. We hoped for the shortest timeline possible, which was traveling to Vietnam late in the summer, but we braced ourselves for having to wait for the winter or even possibly for 2015. And of course there was the constant thought of "Or maybe she won't come home at all". As the "couple of weeks" turned into months and there was nothing but silence from Vietnam, we worried constantly that something was wrong and the longer the silence went on the more we swung between steadfast hope and deep despair. A child waiting a year for a family that is waiting for them is terrible, and to see that timeline stretching out further and further and knowing that the little baby we saw in those photos was spending day after day in the care of an orphanage rather than a family was heartbreaking. We worried if she was getting enough to eat. If she was being held and talked to. If anyone looked into her eyes with love and delighted in making her smile. If she was sick and if she could get medical help if she needed it. A million worries for a little baby on the other side of the world, but nothing that we could actually do for her.
Sometimes I had to put the photos away. Not knowing was just too hard. Wondering and worrying and wishing was just too hard.
They said not to lose our hearts. But we did.
Every night I wished on the first star I saw, and my wish was always for baby Khanh. I wished that she would be safe and healthy and loved and that she would soon find her family, even if that family wasn't us.
We waited two months and twelve days hoping to hear just that Khanh's file had been given to our agency and we knew that once we had that piece of information that our next wait could be six months to hear that we were matched and then another wait of perhaps six months to hear that we could travel. Two months and twelve days of checking my email hundreds of times. Two months and twelve days of jumping and running every time the phone rang. Two months and twelve days of part of my heart being on the other side of the world.
But then two months and thirteen days came, and there was an email from our agency finally. On March 17th we got the news that all at once Khanh's file had been assigned to our agency, our match had been officially approved and that once we sent back our acceptance we were just waiting for the provincial authority to set a date for our official adoption ceremony, which would likely happen in just four to six weeks. No one was expecting this news, including our agency, and we didn't stop smiling for days. Baby Khanh was now our Baby Khanh - our daughter, Adeline's sister, Nana's granddaughter and we could finally just be happy and make our plans and shout it from the rooftops that our family was growing. Of course we still worried, especially after our first hard adoption experience, but we were assured by our agency and we tried to assure ourselves over and over again that everything would go right and Khanh would have her family.
And the rest of that story has already been told, starting here.
Well, not really the rest of the story. The rest of the story is what we're living every day, with our wonderful littlest girl.
Sometimes people say how lucky Vivian is that she was adopted by us, but truly, we are the luckiest people alive to have been given the honour of raising our two amazing children. I don't believe that we were "meant to be" as I hope no higher power would cause enormous pain to a first family or to a child just to bring us our family together, but I do believe that when Vivian was in need of a family that there were bigger forces than Vietnamese bureaucrats that brought us all together. I can't think of a better match for Vivi than us or of a better match for our family than our sweet Vivi.
Another one come and gone...
It was a good Christmas, of course. How could it not be, surrounded by my lovely family? It could have been lovelier though if that lovely family wasn't suffering from another round of wicked colds.
Kindergarten has brought so many new things into our lives, including a slew of novel viruses for our bodies to fight off. Adeline is always the least afflicted and seems to shake things off easily, but poor Vivian is always hit hard and David doesn't often succumb, but when he does it's always a doozy. Vivian doesn't sleep when she's sick and she was also getting a couple of molars, which probably impacted our Christmas the most, as she was tired and needing to hug Mama a lot of the day and night, from the 23rd through the 27th.
So yeah. Sick sick sick.
But that didn't stop us from having a wonderful day. Adeline woke us all up at about ten to seven and then GALLOPED down the stairs before my eyes were even open. She was thrilled with all her presents and excited to give her family the presents that she had made and bought for them. None of us were even much in a treat-eating mood, although Adeline did follow through on her plan to have Cheezies and gummy candy for her Christmas breakfast.
Adeline's Frozen obsession has waned somewhat, but she declared the present I got her better than any of the presents she had asked Santa for. I took a chance and ordered some super cheap Elsa and Anna costumes from ebay to be shipped straight from China. I thought either they wouldn't arrive at all, they would arrive too late for Christmas or they would arrive and be totally lame, but both of the costumes together were only twenty dollars, so I thought it was worth a chance. I was very surprised that not only were they here in time for Christmas, they're both really nice and Adeline couldn't be happier. It was one of her least expensive presents, but they really excited her and she's worn them a lot since Christmas.
The Elsa dress is nice and of course Elsa is Adeline's favourite, but I think Adeline makes a super cute Anna! Anna is the fun and spunky and brave one and is totally the hero of the movie...I don't get why all the girls want to be Elsa...
The big gift Adeline asked Santa for was a real camera. She was very impressed that before it went in Santa's sack, Santa took some pictures in the reindeer stables.
I don't think Vivian opened even one present, but she was content to sit and stand on all the boxes and play with the new toys as they got unwrapped. All the excitement of the big day helped her forget that she was sick and teething and she had a really fun first Christmas!
Even parents of only one child know how difficult it can be to get one decent, sharp, well-lit picture of your child looking pleasantly in the direction of the camera. I can't even imagine how you big families do it! When we combined a wiggly-giggly toddler and a five year old who doesn't want to look at the camera EVER and is mad because...well, I can't remember, really (5 year olds seem to be mad a lot, right?), we had a real challenge on our hands.
Sometimes you get gems like this though...
Can't you just feel the Christmas spirit?
The whole time wasn't like this, and there were actually a lot of laughs in the about-four-minutes we tried to get this photo done before we realized that we had set ourselves up for disappointment and gave up trying to get the girls to sit down, look happy and look at the camera at the same time. It just wasn't going to happen EVER, so we quit before everyone was crying.
But then with a little Christmas magic (photoshop) we ended up with this...
By combining the best picture of Adeline's genuine, happy, shining-eyes smile and the one and only picture where Vivi was sitting still and looking at the camera, we have a picture for our card!
Whew. Thank goodness for Christmas magic.
Saturday after Adeline's morning violin dress rehearsal we went to get our tree. Poor Vivi was in desperate need of a nap, but she just had to wait a little bit while we picked out the perfect one. At first she was quite sceptical of the whole thing, but once Adeline started racing around searching for the best tree in the place, Vivian got right into it!
On Sunday after the violin concert it was finally time to decorate. Adeline was very patient with me as I put the lights on the tree on Saturday and was only a little disappointed when I told her it had gotten too late to start decorating. She was ready to do it the minute she got home from her concert though!
Adeline changed out of her "peacock dress" so she could eat some Christmas cookies, but Vivian insisted on staying fancy.
Adeline did almost the whole tree trimming job this year while Vivian emptied out the boxes and admired each ornament.
This is one of those moments I dreamed about when I thought about having two children, and it was a really lovely time. I think decorating the tree is my favourite part of Christmas. Nana stayed to help and it was nice to unwrap all our special ornaments and talk about where each one had come from. Our tree isn't colour coordinated or themed and it certainly won't be featured in any magazines, but it's filled with special memories. Isn't that what Christmas is really all about? Making memories?
As I cleaned up the boxes and tissue paper Adeline got out her violin to play some Christmas music for our tree. She was very inspired and instead of stopping at "Jingle Bells" she ended up serenading our tree with almost her entire repertoire.
This is where the picture of the actual Christmas tree should go, but I sort of forgot to take a picture of the tree. When you've got daughters as lovely as mine, who has eyes for anything else?
Adeline has been waiting since last Christmas for another chance to play in a concert. We missed the spring recital because we were in Vietnam and Adeline loves an opportunity to play for an audience so she eagerly counted down the days until she could be on the stage again.
Adeline LOVES the stage. Not a bit of stage fright from this girl. She spent as much time as she could on the stage before the show started - just feeling the excitement and looking out into the audience.
Couldn't be prouder of Adeline. She is passionate and committed to her violin and it shows in what a great violinst she's becoming. She really identifies herself as a violinist, not just a kid who plays the violin, so she's willing to put in the work to grow and get better each day. I never need to remind her to practice and she is excited to be given new music and then to master it. She is a little ways past the work that this group is doing, but won't have a chance for a solo until the spring when she'll be participating in a music festival. Adeline is super duper excited and not a bit nervous thinking about being up there all by herself!
Vivian was as good an audience member as could be expected from a busy and wiggly toddler. She mostly sat with her Nana, who took her for a couple of short walks at the back of the theatre until Adeline's group came on. Once Adeline was on the stage Vivi was very interested and she was the most enthusiastic clapper I've ever seen.
Vivian was completely thrilled to get a chance to goof around with Adeline's friends on the stage after the performance. Both my girls needed to be practically dragged off the stage as they were turning out the lights.
And to top it all off, the two sisters had a run in the sunshine! We've had a few days of GLORIOUS weather and it was wonderful to see proud and happy Adeline running up and down the ramps at the University calling for her little sister to chase her, which Vivi was happy to do.
Yep, another month, and my girl is marching (and running and jumping and climbing) away from her babyhood at breakneck speed. Lots of big stuff for our girl this month.
Vivian got her first haircut. It was time...most days she looked like a baby chick that had just had a tumble in the dryer, and I was always fussing with her hair, trying to get it out of her eyes. I do miss her crazy baby hair, but she's totally rocking the pixie cut and now it will grow out nice and thick and even - that's the plan, anyway. David is a little more bothered than I am when people compliment him on his handsome son, so we make sure Vivi has a headband or some pink when she's out with her Dad.
Vivian had some other firsts this month, including her first snow. It was only a tiny bit, but it made a big impression on her and she still talks about it a lot.
Vivi is a big talker. She got too many new words to count this month - I'd say her vocabulary has to be around a hundred words now - and she is starting to put them together. Dada shoe from last month has become "Daddy's shoes" as she refines her pronunciation and learns how to add the s's. She uses her words and those eyes to get most of the things she wants. Who can resist "Up peese, Mama" or "Lap peese, Daddy" or "Peese sing Moon, I See" (I See the Moon) or "Peese Daddy, bite of cookie, peese Daddy. Bibi (Vivi) bite peese!". She has also learned a really nasty-toned "NO!" from Adeline and she uses it A LOT.
Vivi stopped using signs this month, except for the sign for "music" which she uses every time she hears it.
She has started to call herself by name - Bibi. It sounds a lot like "baby" so most people think that's what she's calling herself, but it's definitely Vivi.
She also calls our cat by his name. "Zephyr" comes out "Dephyr" most of the time and it's super cute. He is SUCH a patient dude and they are building a lovely relationship, mostly around air kisses and napping together.
Vivian tried to turn "Mama" into "Mommy" and "Nana" into "Nanny". I guess she went from Dada to Daddy and then thought the rest of us needed the "ee" sound as well. Nope. I'm a Mama until I become just Mom.
Vivi still loves to kiss and hug - her family and anything else that she particularily likes, including pictures in books.
Vivian has started to have some definite ideas about fashion, which is totally new to me as Adeline still has next to no interest in what she wears unless she's picking a fancy dress for a fancy occasion. Lately one of Vivian's favourite looks is Adeline's swimsuit top worn over her clothes along with the doctor badge from the medical kit. She is VERY insistent that we put the bikini top on for her and then she makes us look with her until she finds the badge and then she happily wears this outfit all day. She also has a clear preference for a dress and leggings over any sort of pants.
Viv loves books. Some of her favourites this month include "Cookie's Week", "Hush Little Polar Bear" and "The Nice Book".
Vivian can really sing. She often doesn't have all or even most of the words but the melody is there and she's in tune and even strangers can tell what song she's singing. She even "sings" songs like "Frere Jacques" that we have never actually sung, but that Adeline plays on the violin. Her favourite songs to sing are "Happy Birthday", "Jingle Bells", "The Snowflake Song", "Let it go" (yes, Adeline is still pretty Frozen obsessed), "I See the Moon" and "Little Bird Fly Through my Window".
We listen to music in the mornings after we get home from dropping Adeline at school. My choice would be the classical music station on the radio, but most days Vivian chants "DRUM! DRUM! DRUM!" until I give in and put the traditional Vietnamese music cd on. She like to get her drum and play along.
Vivi finally started eating things that aren't beige! Woohoo! She is now a regular eater of many fruits including banana, apple, pear, watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes (her favourite) and she will eat some veggies as well like peas, carrot and sweet potatoes.
Lemon yogurt is still her favourite food.
Vivian can count to two and really knows what "two" means. She loves to hold two stuffed cats and walk around saying "Two cats! Two cats! Two Cats!" She also knows a few shapes - circle, star and heart.
Vivi is way less scared of things than she was last month when she was continually worried about things that might bite.
Vivi was looking down the storm drain and then fell flat on her face and got a nosebleed. Adeline came to the rescue with the ice pack and napkins from her lunch kit and it was soon taken care of.
Vivian has started to play more on her own. She is usually just a few feet away from me, but now she's playing and exploring instead of hanging on my pants and crying as I do some dishes or tidy up a bit. I can even occasionally go to the bathroom without her following me in there asking to be picked up. It's been a long time coming and I really appreciate it!
Vivian loves to play "Ring around the Rosey" and do finger plays like "Here is a Bunny With Ears so Funny", "A Ram Sam Sam" and "Open Them, Shut Them".
Vivian is the peek-a-boo master. She gets very creative with her peek-a-boo.
We had a lot of DRAMA when Vivian tried to flush Adeline's Elephant down the toilet. Elephant is Adeline's very special lovey and she was so extremely upset that David had to take Vivi out for the afternoon so that Adeline and I could work through it together and count down the minutes until Elephant emerged from the dryer. Adeline is not a kid who is comfortable expressing hard emotions, so it was actually good for me to see her being so very sad and mad and dealing with it in a really appropriate way. Once Vivian came home Adeline told her "I love you and you're always my sister and you're a cute baby, but you CAN'T TOUCH ELEPHANT ANYMORE". Fair enough.
Vivian is definitely thinking about some big issues these days. As she's falling asleep she asks over and over again "Mama back?". She wants me to reassure her many many times that Mama always comes back, Adeline always comes back, Daddy and Nana always comes back and that her bottle always comes back.
Vivian had a lot of wakeful sleeps this month. A combination of wondering if Mama really does come back and lots of teething. Vivi got some new molars this month and is up to 11 teeth now.
Words I would use to describe my baby girl (yes, she'll always be my baby girl) are happy, curious, stubborn, quiet, funny, calm, loving, chatty, beautiful, smart and affectionate.
The time is going too fast. I just love the age Vivian is at now...but then what age don't I love?
Wowza...that went by fast, didn't it?
So so so many good posts I didn't make in November...
The fourteenth anniversary of the day I met my sweet husband (we celebrated with cough medicine shots - the good stuff the pharmacist keeps behind the counter). I tried to find a picture of us looking young and in love from that time period, but we seem to be smooching in all of them...
The fifth anniversary of the day Adeline was first placed in my arms (we celebrated with a round of tylenol for every single person in our family). I love my sweet and sassy big girl and the day we met is one of the truly memorable days in my life.
Adeline's first "gig" playing at a downtown restaurant (we celebrated with waffles and a trip to the clinic for two out of the four of us).
Vivian's first snow experience. (we celebrated with hot chocolate and opening up new boxes of tissue for every room in the house). As you can see, it wasn't much snow, but Vivi and Adeline were both out there before breakfast with their pajamas under their snowsuits trying to make the best of it.
So yeah...busy...and snotty. David is STILL sick more than a month later and my cough is still hanging around. My hope is that we've gotten our winter sickness out of the way now and we can all be feeling good for the Christmas holidays!
16 months already. It's hard to deny that my baby girl is turning into a toddler. Vivi is so sweet and funny and wonderful these days, so here's a very random list of where Vivi is right now.
Vivian is SO HUGGY. All day long I hear "Hug Mama" and she grabs whatever part of me she can reach, gives it a squeeze and says "mmmmmmm" or sometimes "mmmmmmmm, NICE". Super, super sweet. I also hear a lot of "Hug peese" and I have to stop what I'm doing and give her a hug.
Vivi needs a hug and a kiss for even the smallest of bumps and owies.
Vivian is working hard to learn to jump like Adeline and she can get a good bounce going and is often getting one foot off the ground.
Vivian loves to chase Adeline and Adeline loves to be chased!
We go to a weird park where people dump their old riding toys in the tennis court and Vivian can finally scoot around on the little cars.
She loves to jump on the bed with Adeline, but she does it on her knees, thankfully. Adeline's bed is only about 18 inches off the ground, so while I worry about them falling out, I can't say no the gleeful giggling that this sister activity brings on.
Vivian loves to go to bed. When she's getting tired she starts saying "Ni-night, please" and she tries to take your hand and lead you to the stairs. When you do finally say "It's time for ni-night", she crows with delight, smiles wide and RUNS to bed. She falls alseep easily most of the time and she naps around an hour and half during the day and then sleeps from 7:30 to 6:30. There are usally a few wake-ups in the night, mostly in the first few hours, but she tends to settle back to sleep with my help after not too long and she's rarely crying, just awake.
Vivi is still co-sleeping. It's not my first choice and it is hard for me sometimes, but it's really what she needs right now and I think it's really good for our attachment.
Vivian really likes to be "bootay" (pretty) and she loves to check herself out in the mirror.
Vivi wants a tiny pony-tail or a clip every day and she mostly leaves them in. Adeline is really into hair accessories right now, and Vivi wants to do EVERYTHING just like Adeline.
VIvi loves to check herself out in the full length mirror and she will often exclaim "Oh!" as she catches sight of herself.
Vivian likes to sing along to "Let it Go" when Adeline is singing. It's pretty darned cute to watch her throw her arms in the air and exclaim "Le i go! Le i go!".
Vivian really loves to sing and all day long I hear either the words or just the tunes of songs coming out as she plays. "Happy Birthday" is probably her favourite song to sing and she's getting pretty good at it. I even hear Adeline's violin pieces being sung/hummed by Vivian sometimes. I think we might have two musical girls in our family.
Vivian really likes to go outside and she is thrilled to go to the park with her Daddy and Adeline.
Right now Vivi is ALL ABOUT transportation - especially busses. As soon as she's strapped in the car seat or stroller she starts chanting "BUS BUS BUS" and when we see one she is THRILLED and yells BUS! BUS! THE BUS! THE BUS!" and grins and giggles and wiggles. She is also a fan of trucks, vans, ambulances, fire trucks and planes. Luckily for Vivi we walk a pretty major bus route to get Adeline to and from school and we live under the float plane path so on every walk she is guaranteed to see a few big trucks, at least one bus and often a plane.
Vivi is also really into watching for birds and she knows the difference between "Crow bird" and "E-gull (seagull) bird" and just plain birds (the various chickadees, sparrows, finches and juncos we have in our yard this time of year).
Vivian knows LOTS of words. I can't even count them all, although lots of them you have to speak Viv-ese to understand. Here are just a few of her most used ones. Tiss (kiss). Hug. Mama. Dada. Adelie. Nana. Cat. Dogga (dog). Bird. Monkey. Owl. Bun (Bunny). Book. Bus. Cool Bus (school bus). Pane (plane). Tuck (truck). Car. Back. Home. Work. Cool (school). Bed. Shirt. Shoe. Ocks (socks). Pants. Peese (please). Up. Hurt. Ni-night. Birt (blanket). Nice. Uh-oh. Yesh (yes). No. Ba-ba (bottle). Milk. Apple. Meat. Cacker (cracker). Rice. Yogur (yogurt). Milk. Hot tea. Wet. On. Off. Open. Again. Eye. More. Help. Nose. Mouf (Mouth). Ears. Neck. Cheek. Mineminemine (I'd like that) A bite (I want some of what you're having). Bite? (I feel worried about that) and Bite!!! (I feel scared).
Vivi is worried about or scared of lots of things right now.
Vivian is using lots of word combinations as well. She likes to tell you who stuff belongs to, like "Dada's shirt" and "Adelie's milk" and throughout the day she often runs through her list of where everyone is - "Dada work, Adelie cool, Mama home". If I go out for awhile she gleefully exclaims "Mama back! Mama back!" when I get home and when she wakes up and I'm not there she calls "Mama back, peese. Mama hug, peese". One of her favourites is "Ocks off, peese" (socks off, please). I was really hoping she wouldn't be another naked kid, but she already wants her clothes off every chance she gets and she really doesn't like socks or slippers.
As Vivi is falling asleep she likes to list off everyone in her family in her sweet little sleepy voice. Mama. Dada. Adelie. Nana. Cat. Mama. Dada. Adeline. Nana. Cat...
With some encouragement, Cat has taken Lemur's place as Vivi's bedtime lovey. We have three cats so that there is no chance of being without. Vivi loves Cat and she falls asleep rubbing his tail on her cheek or twiddling his ears. Cat isn't the softest or cuddliest of stuffies, but Viv seem to prefer a small firm friend that she can tuck under her chin.
Vivian has really started to play this month. Her favourite toys are baby dolls, little people and animal figures, busses, trucks and cars, balls and musical instruments - especially drums.
Vivi has no interest in television, although if Adeline is watching something that has a catchy theme song, she'll race to the living room to dance to it. Vivian watched television all day long in Vietnam, so I worried that she'd be hooked on it, but it seems now that there are better things to do she's not interested.
Vivian would very much like to spend the whole day sitting with me or her Daddy reading books, singing and doing fingerplays. We, however, need to do other things in the day, which sometimes leads to some whining and crying and pant leg tugging.
I do think Vivi would prefer to spend almost every minute of the day and night touching me. Even though we're always in the same room, it's not enough for her most of the time and she wants to be touching me, even if that means hanging on my leg as I do dishes.
Vivi loves books. Her favourites right now are "Night Cars", "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see?", "Wheels on the Bus", "Five Little Monkeys" and "Everywhere Babies". "Everywhere Babies" has continued to be one of Adeline's favourites and it has never left our book shelf even when all the other board books got boxed up. If you have a gift to buy for a new little one we highly recommend this book - it celebrates every kind of family, it's bright and engaging and my girls both love it.
How do I put this? Vivi isn't much of an eater. She is growing and healthy and full of energy and I don't know how she does it as she seems to survive on a diet of mostly lemon yogurt and crackers and not even very much of those. She's also very inconsistent and some days will act like corn (or eggs or banana or whatever) is the BEST FOOD EVER and will eat a big serving of it and then she will refuse it every single time after that. I think she gets enough dairy through milk and yogurt and protein is okay as she will often eat some meat as long as it's easy to chew and she gets enough carbs although I wish she'd eat healthier ones than crackers (even the best I can find are still pretty nutritionally void) but fruits and vegetables are just not something she wants to eat and I just never feel like she eats enough of anything. We keep offering healthy choices meal after meal to see them go in the compost, and all of us eat lots of tasty and healthy foods in front of her, but that's all we can do. I do make a vegetable soup that she sometimes likes and it's one of our go-to foods, but lately she's refusing that as well. It could drive me crazy if I let it! I supposedly only ate crackers and gravy for about a year of my life, and I turned out okay, so I know Vivi will as well.
Part of her not eating may be that she is rejecting the high chair, but at 16 months I'm not quite ready to have her sliding off a regular chair at the table. I do look forward to getting rid of the the high chair though!
Speaking of growing...Vivian is in the 90th percentile on the North American charts. People often think she must be over two, because of her size and her words.
Even though summer is long over, Vivian is still getting browner and browner. She was so pale in Vietnam but now she's a lovely shade of caramel brown.
Vivian grew a freckle on her knee this month. I tried to wash it off.
Vivian is not a fan of baths over 5 minutes long or showers.
She does love her toothbrush though. Giving her the brush with some water on it will almost guarantee you ten free minutes to get something done.
She also likes having her hair brushed and having moisturizer put on. She's a dry, dry girl and needs cream many times a day on her itchy spots - mostly her cheeks and the back of her neck.
Vivi loves to laugh. And giggle. And guffaw. You just have to laugh along with her.
Words I would use to describe Vivi right now are loving, cautious, curious, smart, gorgeous, calm, easy-going, sometimes serious, sometimes silly, affectionate, quiet, stubborn (in a good way) and happy.
I just love my sweet girl! Growing and changing right before my eyes.
Can you believe it? Our sweet little Vivi has been with us for six whole months already. Some days it feels like we were just in Vietnam yesterday going through one of the hardest times of all of our lives and other times it feels like we've been home forever.
We didn't take many pictures of our first moments, first days or even first weeks together. Vivian was so scared and so sad that it just seemed disrespectful to be taking her photograph. I don't even know if I should share those photos now, as they are just so hard to look at. Even when she isn't crying, the pain and fear is there in her eyes. But I do want people to know the truth about our adoption, so I guess I'll share this picture from what some would celebrate as our "Gotcha Day".
Not much to celebrate in this picture is there? It sure feels like "Gotcha" in the worst sense of the word. Poor Vivian was terrified and shrieking and shaking her head no-no-no-no over and over again. Adoption is a beautiful thing that brings families together, but it always starts with profound pain and loss. The pain of losing your birth family, the pain of living in institutional care and the pain of losing everything and everyone you know in an instant. Yes, children are resilient and love can move mountains, but these aren't the kind of experiences that can be loved away in just a few months. Vivian was so well attached to her nou-nou and she grieved hugely for a long time, but she knew how to love and she was able to open her heart to me enough that I could give her comfort and security right away and then our attachment could grow into the deep and loving thing it is now. It's still a work in progress as Vivian still has fears and clings to me tightly so that she won't lose me, but over the last six months we've seen her blossom and relax day by day as we prove to her in every moment that family is forever.
So here she is today, after six months in the loving arms of her family - Vivian!
Happy. So happy.
Growing (six pounds and four inches in six months)
Filled with love and laughter and hugs for her Mama all day long.
Always with a song in her heart and a dance in her step.
Curious and learning every moment.
Beautiful inside and out.
And me? I couldn't be happier. What an amazing thing it is to be given the privilege of being Mama to such a sweet and tender soul and to be the one there walking beside her on this journey.
I'm back with my spiffy new computer. I'm having some trouble getting up to speed with the new photoshop and our mouse is acting up and I can't remember most of my passwords and for some reason all my mail is being forwarded to David, but I'm not complaining at all. Our old computer was seven years old and was creaking to a slow and painful death, so the new one is awesome, I'm just having some growing pains.
So, Halloween. I feel like I've already moved on to Christmas, so casting my mind back four days is proving hard for me...
I did get the Kwazii costume finished and Adeline was completely thrilled with it. She jumped up and down and said "I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! The BEST Kwazii costume EVER!!!". It took me some time as I had to dye a white shirt and leggings orange, paint on a belly, sew on a collar, make some ears and a tail out of felt and spray paint Adeline's almost-too-small rain boots, but none of it was hard and I had a lot of fun making my girl's dream come true. There were a hundred little Elsas on the streets Halloween night, but only one daredevil cryptozoologist cat with a mysterious pirate past.
First, here's Kwazii, on the right, for those of you unfamiliar with the Octonauts...
And here is Adeline. She was totally in character the moment she put the costume on.
And of course we had one poofy princess, who in her own words was "bootay" (pretty). You can just tell that Vivi feels FABULOUS as soon as she puts on the gown and crown.
We were invited to a party and I wondered how it would go as Vivian was having so much stranger anxiety a few weeks ago, but she did great. She started to cry as soon as I put her down to take off my coat, but once we were sitting together eating pizza and watching the kids she was fine and in about 20 minutes she wanted down to stand near me and soon after that she was having a great time dancing with all the kids. After pizza and dancing and some crafts and games it was time to trick-or-treat. Adeline enjoyed going out with a group and Vivian just enjoyed running outside in the dark and she did trick-or-treat at three houses. Vivi had no idea what was going on, but she just went with it. Once it was Vivian's bedtime we headed home so I could get her to bed and Adeline and her Dad could trick-or-treat in our neighbourhood a bit. Amazingly it poured rain all day, stopped for trick-or-treating time and then rained again all night - couldn't have asked for better! Adeline was so happy - she just loves Halloween, and Vivi was in such a silly, funny mood that I just couldn't take her to bed, so we all ended up staying up late.
And now on to Christmas!
At Adeline's school the children were encouraged to dress in orange and black on Halloween day. Adeline felt it was important for Vivi to get into the spirit as well, so we found her some Halloweeny clothes to wear on that day. Luckily it wasn't hard to come up with this outfit as Adeline has loved orange since she was three and I've always liked babies in black. This skirt was last worn by Adeline just before her fourth birthday and it fits my littlest girl now.
Adeline had an orange and black outfit as well and a truly epic hairdo with many accessories, but she was far too bouncy to have her picture taken after school on Halloween day.
We're going to be without a computer for the week so I'm wishing you all a Happy Halloween right now and I'll be back with pictures of us celebrating later! Adeline is going to be Kwazii from the Octonauts for Halloween (if I get the costume finished...), but she was invited to a party this weekend and had to come up with a costume from our dress-up box. Here she is as a rough-and-tough-and-ready-for-action pirate fairy!
That girl loves any costume that involves a sword, eye shadow and yelling. Vivi is going to be a princess. Is the princess born right in, perhaps? I've always wondered. Adeline never got very into princesses (although she is a new convert to the cult of Frozen) and while she enjoys dressing up and looking pretty and she's really into fancy hair lately, when it's time to play she'd always rather be fighting off dragons or rescuing animals than swooning in a tower. Vivian said a great big NO to every costume I suggested to her and was downright terrified of a few of them. But then I put the big poofy pink princess dress and a crown on her and she scooted right over to the mirror to admire herself. She patted herself and said "dress pretty" over and over again and she kept that dress on all afternoon, despite it getting in the way of her doing just about everything. She does make a very beautiful princess - I'll be sure to share some pictures soon.
Without a computer for a week...yikes...but then back with a brand new one, which I'm really looking forward to!
And not just because I get to bring my scarves back out... I love the crisp sunny days, the leaves crackling underfoot, that fall smell which has nothing to do with anything "pumpkin spice", and the knowledge that any day the rain will come to stay so we'd best play while we can.
Vivi loves to be outside in any weather and our unraked (and likely to stay unraked) garden is a great place to explore this time of year!
Vivian isn't just walking now, she's running and it makes her super happy. She especially loves to chase Adeline! The two of them just laugh and laugh as they run!
I just realized that if you know us in real life, there's very little chance you've seen Vivian smile or heard her say a single word, even though she grins and giggles all day long and she has a huge vocabulary and is super chatty and she talks and sings continually. Even with people we see daily like the Kindergarten Moms or neighbours or friends we see quite often, Vivi is very quiet and still and gives off a very serious "back off" vibe to go along with the scowl she wears if anyone but her family is making eye contact with her. If someone gets too close or talks to her for too long, the siren goes off and she yells and cries REALLY REALLY loudly and it takes quite a bit to calm her down. I do hope Vivi can get to a place soon where she knows in her heart that family is forever so she can be more comfortable with people outside her circle, but for now I'm happy that she knows who her special people are and that she's willing to fight not to lose us. Vivi obviously loves and adores her family, now she just needs to know that no one is ever going to take her from us or us from her. I do think she'll remain a cautious and probably shy child, but who knows? Right now I do feel a little bad for all the nice folks who try to smile and chat with Vivi and get back howling in return!
Perfect hot and sunny weather (Vivian kept trying to get someone to help her take her shirt off), happy sisters laughing together and running through the pumpkins, no mud for once...wonderful.
Adeline is VERY into hair accessories lately - she added the clips and the big bow to the ponies I'd given her. It's actually a very restrained look as lately there are days when you can barely see her hair for all the bows, headbands and clips. Vivi, who of course wants to do everything like her sister, now insists on a "bootay" (a pretty) for her hair as soon as she wakes up. She may not have much hair yet, but she already wants it to be fancy, so we're trying out all sorts of tiny antennae pony tails and little clips and headbands. Amazingly Vivi keeps them in and she insists that everyone compliment her on her "bootay" many times a day.
I have so much to be thankful for this holiday weekend. My life is good, and I should appreciate it more. Here is an alphabet of things I am thankful for today and every day.
A is for adoption. I am so thankful that when my girls needed a family that adoption was possible for them and that we were chosen to be brought together as a family.
B is for books. We love books at our house and are thankful to own so many and to have access to thousands more at the library.
C is for cats. Oh those cats. Despite all their throwing up (Zephyr) and hissing (Musette) and their general shedding and furniture destroying and the fact we just found out David is highly allergic to them, I really love our furry family members. Maybe I'm appreciating them even more now because they will be our last cats, because of David's allergies.
D is for daughters, of course!
E is for elephant! Adeline's lovey elephant has seen her through so much and gives her so much comfort. Elephant really feels like a part of the family. I'm also thankful that Vivian seems to be developing just as close a bond with her cat stuffie.
F is for family! And friends - both in life and online.
G is for good food. I am thankful that without having to think about where we're going to get the money or the food that I am able to make healthy and tasty meals for my family every day.
H is for home. I am so thankful to have a safe and comfortable home. Knock on wood, I am especially thankful that this fall it doesn't leak.
I is for ice cream. Especially the mocha cheesecake, dulce de leche and key lime pie from the artisan ice cream place we discovered this summer. They're almost closed for the season and I'll be counting down until they open again in spring!
J is for jokes. Our family loves to laugh and laugh and laugh and I love all our family jokes.
K is for kindergarten. If I was Queen of Kindergarten I would do things differently, but I'm not, and I will admit that Adeline is loving it. Every day she tells me her day was "Terrific!" or "The best day ever!". I am especially thankful for kindergarten teachers who obviously love their jobs and are delighted to spend their days with five year olds.
L is for laundry. I am often shocked by how much laundry four people can generate and I seem to spend a lot of evenings folding it, but I am thankful to have a washer and dryer and an unlimited supply of clean water right in my house to make keeping my families clothes clean such a simple task.
M is for Mom. I am so thankful to still have my Mom and to have her living so close by is wonderful.
N is for noise! Our house used to be very quiet, but now it's filled all day long with the sounds of running feet, little girl giggles and dance parties! Yes, there's some whining and crying too, but today I'll even appreciate those noises!
O is for orange! Pink isn't every five year old girls favourite colour and I'm glad of it!
P is for Pinterest. There is nothing more soothing after a busy, stressful day than just scrolling past endless pretty pictures. Want to check out the sorts of things I look at? Here's me on Pinterest.
Q is for quiet. Yes, I love all the noise that little ones bring to my life, but I am always thankful for those small moments of quiet that come as well.
R is for my rockin' awesome husband! I love that man so much!
S is for sleep. I am thankful to have a comfortable and warm bed and I am thankful that Adeline is such a deep and easy sleeper. I am thankful that I remember that Adeline didn't sleep at all for two years (or at least it felt like that) so I know that someday Vivi will sleep too.
T is for tea. I get so much comfort from my daily cups of hot tea.
U is for "uh oh". I'm thankful that Vivian has passed that stage where she likes to pitch everything off the side of the high chair and gleefully exclaim "Uh OH!".
V is for violin. I am thankful that Adeline discovered the violin and insisted that she start playing it. She seems to have a talent for it and I am impressed by the hard work and dedication she shows. I think she's learning lots of good life lessons far beyond how to play an instrument.
W is for work. Both for David's job that he works very hard at and is rewarded well for and for the fact that because of choices and sacrifices we've made I don't have to go to work while my girls are little.
X is for no x-rays. Last year at this time I was so sick for so long and so scared because I didn't know what was wrong with me. There were two trips to the hospital where I did every test they had, including x-rays. Turns out it was no big deal and I eventually got better with no intervention, but it really made me appreciate my health and the health of everyone I love and how easy it is for us to access medical care.
Y is for yes! I always appreciate how my circumstances in life have given me so many choices and I can say yes or no or maybe and mold my life as I choose. I know for so many people in the world there are no choices, only survival.
Z is for our old ginger cat, Zephyr. Yes, he's a puker, but he is so sweet and patient with Adeline and Vivian that all is forgiven.
If you've been celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend then I hope yours was wonderful, and if you're not celebrating I hope you're still thankful today for the sweetness in your life.
Well, we never did get to connect with Adeline's teacher, her classroom was locked by the time we arrived, they were out of hot dogs and the cupcake walk had devolved into "eat as many cupcakes as you can, sorry there's no food"- all an hour and a half before the event was supposed to end, but Adeline did discover a passion for floor hockey...
Even in her fancy dress she picked up a stick and got right in there and she LOVED IT. No one who knows David and I will be surprised that this was her first hockey experience. Adeline hadn't played hockey or even watched it before now (I hope no one will try and revoke our Canadian citizenship), but luckily one of the Dads who was supervising the game showed her how to hold the stick and told her to keep it on the ground and she was off! She was HOPELESS at first, but after playing about 20 minutes she was really starting to get the hang of it and was managing to take the ball from other players (every one of which was male, head and shoulders taller and 20 pounds heavier than Adeline and VERY SERIOUS about hockey even though they were all kindergarteners and Grade Ones) and she even scored a legitimate goal. She played about 40 minutes straight and was panting and sweating and grinning for all of it. David and I were both gym class dreaders and avoiders, but Adeline is talking a lot about all the sports she's going to do in school and how excited she is about it...
We did get to see the bulletin boards outside Adeline's class and check out some of her projects, which was nice, and parent/teacher conferences are coming up in two weeks so we'll see her room and talk to her teacher then.
I made my first cupcakes of my life as "Mom to a school-kid". I wonder how many I will make between now and...(pause for math)...2030. Seriously? Vivi will be the class of 2030? That is a totally futuristic flying-cars and robot-maids kind of date. Wowza. I am seriously kind of in shock by that date.
I think I need to eat a cupcake and lie down while I contemplate the next 17 years...
When I start getting those emails that say "Is everything okay? You've been quiet..." I know it's time for me to make a post. Sure - everything's okay. Except...and I hate to even say this out loud...I hate kindergarten. I hate EVERYTHING about kindergarten. Adeline is fine with it, although as the week goes on she is increasingly difficult to get moving in the morning and she says almost every day that she wishes it was a preschool day, but really, she's doing great and some days she even says that her day was "TERRIFIC". It's me that's having the most issues with the change. Now I'm not saying that we're going to DO anything about kindergarten as I know it's where Adeline needs to be and I know this is about me and not her, and it's only the second week and I'm not saying Adeline's kindergarten is bad as I would bet that it's better than many and her teacher is (from every parent I've talked to)"the best kindy teacher ever" and she responded quickly and professionally to a concern I had and she was friendly and made me feel welcome to talk to her anytime, so that's all good. BUT... Here's a list of all the things about kindergarten I hate...No, wait. It's just a partial list. There are way too many of them for a complete list.
There's more but I'll stop there.
I just needed to have a whine.
I'll be better soon.
And because I just can't leave a post without a picture, here's Adeline in her classroom on her first day of school. I was happy to see a basket of stuffies in the book area. Adeline still needs stuffies in her life.