1:15 PM

Year in review - 2012 the year of Elora

I have been answering these same questions about the new year for 16 years now. Ya, some of the questions sound like something a teen would ask... I considered looking for a new list, but my love of tradition and consistency won out and voila, this year's year in review:

1.What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

I adopted a daughter. Back in 2011 I thought I knew what parenting was all about. I had a kick ass little guy, I had been doing the gig for 2 and a half years. Then came Elora, and I really understood love for the first time, I really understood heart break for the first time. Joy came at a whole new level and I was amazed at how fast a child can grow, emotionally, physically, developmentally. I was just blessed to be along for the journey that she is, to be schooled by her.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t think I resolved to live more in the moment, more just wished I could have. I know last year I failed at that, but it was what it was and no waiting mother can expect any peace of mind or heart. I have however lived, soaked in every second of 2012, I have not wished a single day away, well maybe a few in January and February. It feels amazing, but it not because I achieved an inner zen, I just got all my dreams to come true.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes they did and I got a nephew too. In addition two other special babies came home from China and I was able to greet them at the airport!!!

*** News flash: I am now offering a volunteer paparazzi service for any new families arriving home with their little ones via Toronto Pearson Airport. I have photographed 3 families so far and it is an amazing experience for me! So rewarding!! So if you are coming through YYZ even just as a connecting flight send me an email and I will see you at the gates!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Scarlett’s baby brother and Maelyn’s older sister did. I never got to meet either of these two babies, that part is the worst, like a dream for so many just left unrealized. Death was close to home this year, in the worst way possible. What is it about the death of such a young child that makes it so much worse, not that you can measure grief… it just scared the heck out of me. Reality is that Elora survived to be in my arms by the narrowest of chances, too many life and death chances in her short life. Even though I have her now, that thought coupled with the harsh realities of these losses so close to home were just too much at times. I see the world differently now. You are going to hear that a lot from me in this yearly review, I am not who I once was.  I want you to know I remeber them, love them.

5. What countries did you visit?

China and KV, New York!

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Last year I wished for peace. Peace in my heart, patience and an end to the soul sucking waiting.  That is a direct quote. Yep, “soul sucking waiting”, truer words have never been written. Good news is that I got peace and my soul back!! I really can’t imagine having a better year next year. I am pretty sure this is as good as it gets. I would like to travel to a new place in 2013.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 5, 2012, 9 am, I walked up dark stairs, one flight, once I saw that the door in front of us was “the door” I grabbed for Jeremy’s hand, one last squeeze before that door opened. A squeeze for luck, for comfort, for excitement? It felt like a squeeze you would give your BFF before you run together off that really high cliff, a run and jump together into the cool lake below. Eyes wide, heart pumping, mouth in a perma-grin. There she was sitting and crawling on a board room table, 3 adults sitting in large office chairs at one end of the table. Of all the situations I imagined to be on the other side of that door that was not one of them, a baby on a table. It only struck me odd for a moment though because in the next instant I was trying to catch her eye, to see everything there was to see. Wearing a fashionable outfit I would have chosen myself, she was bigger than we had imagined, although most of that was just clothing, layers and layers of clothing. She looked at us suspiciously and then went back to fingering a cookie in its package. I asked to hold her. Picked her up from the table, noticed the heft of her, the solid realness of her. They told her we were Mama and Baba. I turned to Jeremy, saw in his face what must have been in mine. That was the beginning.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think my biggest achievements this year came in parenting.

9. What was your biggest failure?

On the flip side my biggest failures were also in parenting. I have learned a lot this year, and I am a work in progress, but I do want to give myself some credit in the fact that I have learned from these failures and for that I will say that I had some real major achievements too.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

We did have that hell of a cold/flu thing in China, but that was only so bad because of the 2 days of no sleep that accompanied it. Over all we have been a lot healthier this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My new camera. I am so happy I got it, it has really helped me to document/photograph Elora. I have got to say for any other albinism parents out there, if photos of your kids are important to you this is a must have. A point and shoot just can’t capture our kids’ beauty, you need the heft of a SLR and the low light/no flash abilities that it can bring you. I got a new lens for Christmas this year and I am really seeing what a difference that can make as well, photos of her are only going to get better. Wish I had had it earlier, I really wish I had rented one for our trip as I had considered doing but then wrote off as frivolous.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This year I would like to celebrate the work of many nonprofits that are near and dear to me for the work they do in China to promote orphan care, human rights, gender equality and family preservation.

All Girls Allowed

Love without Boundaries

Half the Sky

The makers and girls in the documentary Somewhere Between.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Russia’s recent decision to end international adoption to the US is pretty low. Especially for the 24 families who have already held their children but now will never be able to bring them home along with the countless others who have invested in a Russian adoption who will also have to live with an ended dream. Having a failed adoption is one of the least understood or recognized forms of grieving. I hope this story is not over and some accommodation can be made for the families in process.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Adoption, although I would like to say that we were dept free by the end of the summer. If you think adoption is not for you because of costs, I would like to respectfully disagree. It is possible, with some sacrifices, planning and lifestyle adjustments, if you want this, it is within your reach. Email me if you want ideas/details on how we achieved it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

You know what, this is going to sound like an exaggeration, but literally every day this year there has been something to celebrate. Watching my family grow and bloom has been really, really exciting. The first kiss from Elora, and her first “luv you” are biggies as is last night when I was chatting away on the phone and absentmindedly rubbing Emery’s tummy when all of a sudden he said “You are the best mommy in the world”. Seriously these kids are my world, so amazing.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. Wasn’t this the 2012 waiting mama’s anthem?!? Can I get an amen sisters?!? I wonder if Christina Perri knows that her twilight love song for teeny bobbers moved a mountain of mothers in waiting.

I played it on repeat sitting in her empty nursery, I played it on repeat with my earphones on in China as baby girl grieved for hours on end, it plays every night now on her lullaby play list as she lies safe in her bed.

Watching you stand alone, all my doubt goes away somehow, one step closer, I have died every day waiting for you, darling don’t be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more. Time stands still, beauty in all she is, I will be brave, I will not let anything take away what is standing in front of me, every breath, every hour has come to this, one step closer. All along I believed I would find you, and time has brought your heart to me.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier

ii. thinner or fatter? Maybe slightly slimmer?

iii. richer or poorer? Same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Nothing really it was a pretty jam packed year, I guess I would have liked to be more active, work out, dance and such. Next year, that was just not realistic this year.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Potty training, I mean seriously how long does this take?? And I still have one more kid to start!?! I have never really hated a parenting duty, even the late night feedings, the teething all those doozies that people complain about did not faze me much, but this potty training thing has whooped my a$$, I HATE it. I did not foresee all the annoying parts of it, the grossness of it, ick. Hoping that by next year’s review it will be done for one and all.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

We milked the Christmas season, took in every sight, festival, tradition and joy possible. It was amazing, from start to finish. The kids are at such an amazing age, every little thing is magical to them. I have not had such an amazing holiday since I was a child, or maybe even ever.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

I fell in love with my Elora.

23. How many one-night stands?

Zero, that was so 2001. See what I mean about the irrelevant questions :)

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Downton Abby. Really fun show, so witty and period clothing to boot!!

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I hate that douche bag politician who coined the phrase “legitimate rape”. Really?? I did the world a favor and forgot who said it. I hope the rest of the world forgets him too and all he is ever remembered for is his complete and total ignorance and douche baggery.

26. What was the best book you read?

Not much time for reading this year but I did get about 2 books read and one of them was the new John Irving, he never disappoints and In One Person is a goodie. A really good story and interesting insight into gender and transgender characters.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I am rediscovering some of the music I liked in my teens, stuck on cassette tapes they did not follow me into the digital age, so have not been heard in a long while. Recently I downloaded some of the “oldies” and I am enjoying the memory lane trip that appears in shuffle every now and again.

28. What did you want and get?

Camera hobby and the photos of our life/precious memories this hobby brings me. A piece of jewelry that has all my family represented in birthstones.

29. What did you want and not get?

Just some work related stuff…

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN!!!! What you have not seen it yet? It is coming out on DVD this year, maybe even this month I think, see it!

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

33 years old. Gee I am old, I kinda think I am still just 30, I had to think about that number. I have heard of people who don’t count past a certain age, and I never meant to be one of them. I am vain but not that vain, now oops I sort of did stop counting. Well let’s just call that early dementia and not vanity? Any who… this birthday we went bike riding from one winery to another partaking is tastings at each one. Heavenly, simply heavenly. I must say there is no better way to drink, outside in all that natural beauty, a little bit of exercise that feels so floaty and easy because of the wine, and then MORE wine!!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably satisfying?

This year was immeasurably satisfying. Full stop.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Dressed, mostly showered and on special occasions in matching out fits to the kids. Yes I am very Sound of Music that way. A highlight was the day Elora and I wore our matching gold skinny jeans, and then had a photo shoot to document the occasion of gold jeans.

34. What kept you sane?

Stacy!! Shout out girl!!! You are my hero, countless times this year. From the coffee rendezvous to the text book page scans emailed to me in China, resources, phone numbers, sob fests, play dates, cupcakes. Thank you girl!

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I am fancying Khaleesi from Game of Thrones, not to be confused with the actress who plays Khaleesi, just Khaleesi as is.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

US Election, by the way, thank you America.

37. Who did you miss?

Not so much who but more like a feeling… This year has been all about mothering, I am looking forward to returning to me the mother/pole dancer/fundraiser/advocate/wife/friend me. I miss her, she is fun. She was retired this year, but she is coming back soon.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

New bloggy friends, hi new readers! And FOI friends, Hi Alicia, Hi Tara!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:

Anything is possible. The power of the possible is the most inspiring thing I have ever learned.

Happy New Year!!!

3:29 PM

How far we have come

It has been a long while since I did an update post.  I guess things just got good and I started to look towards other adoption issues that interest me and have not really updated on Elora's progress.  I know quite a few readers are looking to see a snapshot of toddler adoption, so here is little report card, nine months out.

I feel that her attachment is very strong to every one in her family at this point.  She remembers all the aunts, uncles and grandparents as well as close family friends who we see often and they get different level of lovin' then a stranger but less than Mommy and Daddy.  Some strangers can still get a smile or giggle from her but she is having a much more normal interaction.  I don't see the mommy shopping happening at all any more.

Sibling Rivalry 
This one is our main issue right now although I think it would happen with any two toddlers in one house but I think Elora has an extra need for attention from us because of her anxiety from my return to work and just over all her love quota is just that much higher then an average child her age.

Motor Skills
Her gross and fine motor skills are now at or above age level.  This does mean that her daredevil attitude has lead her to climb and tumble off of things my other child never would have dreamed of doing.  I am counting my self lucky that she has yet to escape her crib and we have not had a trip to the ER yet.  She is feeding her self and eating properly now, drinking from a cup and can even use threading toys.  We continue vision therapy bi-weekly for good measure though.

Her language continues to amaze me.  She has gone from no words to a huge vocabulary and now is stringing together 3 and 4 word sentences.  She needs some coaching still to calm down and use her words and improve her pronunciation but over all she is making leaps and bounds, every day she gets about 2-3 new words.  She is at age level now in speech too.

I think at about 6 months home we had most issues well on their way to being resolved.  Mommy's life made a big turn once they had just one nap a day and both at the same time!!  Headbanging has gone all together.  We used sucking as a replacement comforter, first with a bottle of milk, then water and now finally a soother.  Yes, I could not be more excited that I have taught my two year old to use a soother.  At the age when most parents are trying to get rid of them we were working towards her accepting them.  It has made a world of difference for her and she can ask for her susu time and self sooth.  She only needs it for a few minutes and then tosses it aside, so I am thinking this will not be with us for too long either.
I have returned to work part time.  We tried our best to help Elora get accustomed to day care, it was really hard on her and she got very clingy for weeks after our attempt.  I am sure she could have got though it if we had persevered but luckily my mom offered to be the nanny and come to our house to watch them.  It has been a much more seamless transition for her.  We can work on being left with other people outside the family again in a few more months.

So there you are, this is our experience.  I always sum it up by saying she was fast and furious when she joined our family.  She really grieved and it was really hard, BUT because she was so determined to let us know just how mad she was, we got to address her feelings and move forward very quickly.  I am not saying she is over it by any means but she now has a really great set of tools and skills that allow her to communicate feelings in a positive way, ask for help, and learn to trust.  I am so surprised that we are here now.  I always knew that here would come some day, but here is now!  Fast and furious, and definitely unstoppable, that's my amazing girl!

9:21 AM

We have been enjoying the holiday season.  Nearly every day I sit back and revel at how happy I am.  Even in the day to day trenches of potty training, meal time frustrations, bath time regression, sibling rivalries, the WHY? stage, a stressful return to work, a job that I may no have for very much longer.... Somehow I leave every day just thinking about how lucky and happy I am.
I know this is because I am measuring this Christmas to last year.  Last year we were waiting, and I was just going through the motions of the holiday.  I can see it on my face in every holiday photo last year.  That smile up there was not around.  This year is the happiest holiday I have ever had.  Elora is just amazing me with her joy as she takes it all in.  Loves Santa, the tree, the parade, our tradition of driving around town to look at the lights (she saw them!! and loved them!).  This year I began to teach my oldest about the joy of giving and watched as he carefully thought out gifts for his family.  When Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas he proudly listed off the gifts he choose for his sister and Daddy. They proceeded to have a conversation about how fun it is to give.  The kids sing carols together, the sweetest duet I ever could have dreamed of.  We made cookies together, we snuggled and watched the nutcracker then the kids did an amazing interpretive dance version of their very own.  I pinch my self in these moments, did I fall into a Normal Rockwell painting?
The power of love.

2:26 PM

Match Day Anniversary