Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My friends Christmas miracle

The adoption landscape and timeline is a lonely and trying one for even the strongest of families.  When you are doing it alone it becomes even more barren.  When time frames, and circumstances draw out to the unbearable, loneliness and heartbreak can't even begin to describe the feeling not only at the end of the day but also the beginning and middle too.  This has been the case for a friend of mine for as long as I've known her.  Our paths initially crossed after "meeting" on given that we were both single and at that time, going to be in Moscow to process travel visas for our sons at the same time.  We were looking forward to staying at the Marriott together and toasting the end of one journey and the beginning of the adventure in parenthood.  This was not to be.  My friend who had met her son in February had 2 "postponed" court dates which dragged out into waiting for the bilateral agreement to be signed amounting to 10 months between trips.  Last Monday she got the devastating news that the MOE pulled her referral and were asking for a new family to be matched with him... all solely because she is single in a region that was burned by a single adoptive mother with no scruples or shred of humanity.  Can you imagine?  Giving your heart and soul to a boy you've held and loved to have him ripped from you after being approved previously due to nothing you have done?  And it's Christmas... Bah humbug is the most polite way to say all the bad words that seem fitting.  But here's where the miracle comes in.  Her agency kicked into overdrive - they are the best in the business.  As my friend grieved heavily the loss of her long awaited for boy, they were working feverishly to make things right and find the boy who would fill the crib and eventually her broken heart.  Friday just 4 days after her heartbroke, she got that call.  I am honored to be the one she shared this happy but confusing and hard news with.  How do you open your heart to fall in love with another beautiful healthy little boy after not being ready to let the other boy go?  Wow... that's complicated.  Slowly, gears began shifting and hearts warmed to the knowledge that perhaps this little boy is just what Christmas is about.  Way back when, it all began with a boy, and so too is "PopPops" Christmas beginning with a boy.  He's a raven haired spitfire.  All I can say is - wow... this little guy couldn't look more like a bio if that were a special request.  PopPop deserves every happiness and has shown incredible strength, resolve, dedication and unwavering love already in her quest to become a mother.  Any child would be lucky to have someone so willing and ready - this little boy has no idea how much he will be loved and how hard his Mama has worked to love him into reality.  May your Christmas be merry my friend and may your tomorrows be filled with the love you so richly deserve.  I hope your travels will be FAST and smooth and we can't wait to meet your new man somewhere on the beaches perhaps next summer. 
And that my blog friends is an amazing Christmas story.  A child finds a family, a Mama finds her son, hearts are healed, lives are allowed to be amazing, and a family is born.  Merry Christmas PopPop - You are an inspiration to me and I'm glad our paths have crossed. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Awesome to be "average" + Sad news

Every day I pick Corbin up I think either a) I need to get some better upper body work outs in (perhaps shoveling snow?) b) I'm getting old c) Corbin is gaining weight by the spoonfull d) all of the above.  (P.S. if you aren't sure, always pick C)  I plunked Corbin on the scale again and he's sprung up to a whopping 35lbs which is 8 whole lbs gained in a year and 6 1/2 since he's been home.  This was also brought on by dressing him today in new size 3 jeans that were just a wee bit long last time and now they are just right.  The marks on the wall behind the bathroom door say he's grown 1.5 cm like 2 weeks.  This doesn't seem possible - I thought I must have made a mistake so I checked... and nope - no rocks in his pockets and he was in sock feet so... the measurements stand.  This puts him at 50% height and 65% weight.  Eating and growing... every AP's dream.  While I've never aspired to being average, this sort of average deserves a huge celebration. 

In the really awful "Grinch that stole Christmas" news department, we found out that Corbin's Grandpa Tony has Cancer... and it's not a gentle sort of Cancer that gives you a gut check and an opportunity to get better.  It's the kind that tells you that this will be your last Christmas and to love him as much as you can right now.  Corbin loves his "dyeah-dush-ka" and it is so very sad to know that he will miss out on growing up with this wonderful man in his life.  This summer Tony in the picture of health sat out back and blew bubbles with Corbin for an hour and brought him special dyeah-dushka tools so they could fix things side by side. Corbin tried to convince him that getting in his pool was a good idea and settled for being dried off after he got out and was freezing cold.  I hate that I'm going to have to figure out how to explain that someone he just started to love won't be here for long enough for me to think of the right words to say to explain why he's gone.  Tony is one of the great guys... strong, funny, silent more often than not, hard working, and has a huge love for his family... the world needs more Grandpas like that... life isn't fair... but it's good...
We will be spending Corbin's first Christmas at home and will see Tony and some of my in laws on Christmas eve day.  Bitter sweet celebration of life on two ends of the spectrum... my boys first real Christmas and what will very likely be Tony's last....
How do you end a post like that?  My Mother in Law needs all the strength and prayers she can gather - if anyone needs to catch a break in this life I'd vote her - Shirley you have carried an extra heavy load and if there were a way to lighten any of it I wish I knew how.  So I guess I'll end it by saying, I'll be saying a special Christmas prayer for Tony and Shirley... if you have a second... they could use yours too... now is a good moment - it will only take a second...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There's something about Starbucks

One year ago I was sad and certain that Christmas would be spent again dreaming of a faceless boy who would lay in in the empty bed in the prepared room across the hall.  I resigned to buying a small token of Christmas to recognize the significance of the season without resenting the hauling out and putting away of totes full of festive decorations.  I spent the evening quietly stringing popcorn alone to adorn the tiny branches of my tiny little potted evergreen.  I dreaded each call to my agency to get no update at all and always hung up the phone feeling empty... until today. 
One year ago I took the required deep breath and dialed my agency again looking for guidance and answers to the then pipe dream of "what if" a referral came at our Christmas.  Who would be in the office to pass this on to my provincial director who was authorized to advise me that I had a referral?  I was assured that my agency would pass the information along but told to phone the director at the government to find out their Vacation protocol.  It was about noon and begrudgingly I called her.  I began some scripted rant explaining that Russia runs on the Orthodox calendar and that it could happen... a referral on Dec 25th while we are all enjoying turkey with our families.  She patiently waited for me to take a breath and interjected, "I hope that isn't an issue for you since I'm looking at your referral on my desk".  I was speechless.  We all wait for "THE CALL" and it turns out I had accidentally made it.  It was Monday and they had received the file at end of day on Thursday but were waiting for more info and photos.  I remember where I was - main drag of our city with a population of 1million plus and a semi truck behind me on snowy Canadian roads.  I hung a sharp right with a brief lip service to my turn signal, cut said semi truck off and 2 wheeled it into the conveniently located Starbucks parking lot.  Wifi is free and I was alone and numb.  In the world of IA from Russia on the FRUA board "going to Starbucks" is synonymous with getting "the call".  How apropos that I found myself in their parking lot again?  This time there would be no call to friends or family... I needed to process this info on my own and after falling head over heels for my first referral, I was scared - no terrified of what if I have to say no again?  I cautiously connected and hit receive about a dozen times waiting for a short medical and this...
I didn't know how to feel.  I had my checklist in hand and growth chart beside me in a file.  Current stats great... 30% height & weight, HC fantastic 80+ percentile, Apgar 9 /10... Philtrum - check, lip - check, eyes not too far apart and not too small  - check, no cupped ears - check, no funny bushy "clown" eyebrows - check (all in the rambling research I'd done on FAS facial features - by no means scientific... just what I was ready to look for)... still numb. One black and white photo I'd reviewed before on the data base on my regular perusals.  One sad looking little boy with tears in his eyes (perhaps because his pants were pulled up to his armpits?) that I later learned had arrived at the orphanage for the first time earlier that day to have his mug shot taken and the look on his face is one of confusion, sadness, fear, hunger and grief.  I honestly couldn't even feel anything - not is he cute? Not what do I think? Not a single thing other than I need to wait for more information and I'd better call Dr. Bledsoe.  On the road 2 days later after getting comfortable with the fact that I'd travel mid January if I accepted ( it was Wednesday at about 10 am)  I received a call indicating that the additional photos had been sent and was asked if I could travel before the end of the year.  It was Dec. 16th... I'd need to be on a plane in a week with a processed travel visa.  My head spun as I again made arrangements to Wifi at Starbucks, this time with my Mom to review the additional info.  I opened these photos and in all honesty... still felt numb and scared. 
There was no elation, there was no relief... there was no OMG!!! this is it!!! I was so afraid of feeling hope and excitement... afraid of feeling anything.  But, for the very first time I allowed some Merry into my Christmas and allowed myself a glimmer of "what if?".  I remember that I had the Mariah Carey song "All I want for Christmas is You" on my blog at the time... and there you were, at Starbucks staring back at me.  A year ago today, our lives together began.  2 days later after a resounding "Go Get him" from Dr. Bledsoe, on the 16th I said my first big DA! and the wheels began turning to bring you home forever.  I will never forget the words that Dr. Bledsoe said over and over, "Stacey, there is something in his eyes... he's a RESILIENT LITTLE RASCAL..." over and over "RESILIENT LITTLE RASCAL" he will adapt, adjust and he will make it... some kids have it and some don't - I don't think I'm wrong about him... it's there for sure... Well, she couldn't be more right.  I am blessed every day with a child who never missed a beat in adapting to me or his new world.  I can't say that there are (or even were?) any "orphanage behaviors" or lingering adjustment at all - he just never looked back. 
A lot has happened in one year.  Today we will visit Santa for your very first picture on his lap, do some more skiing, and ceremoniously I'll wrap your very first Christmas gifts and lovingly place them under OUR tree... because forever, this day will be reserved as the day my tree was full up with forever... it became full up with the best gift I will ever receive... it is full up with the gift of you. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Wow... it's busy.  From son up to son down I'm on the go.  Gone are the silent moments (admittedly I get a few two days a week when he goes to preschool now) and my time is filled full up.  I'm not complaining... and yes, I did anticipate pretty much all of the busyness but ahhhhhhh crashing in bed at night never felt so good.  I take my Mama time to play soccer and hockey but find I'm having trouble just winding down even there because I'm so damned competitive - tonight, I made sure I actually was breathing on the bench at our game.  I do need to slow down a bit and remember to breathe but everything seems to be done at flat out speeds these days.  Speaking of flat out speeds, that's the perfect segue to our ski adventures.  Corbin literally jumps into things with both feet - there is no part of this boy that stays on the fence.  His ski boots were installed in the parking lot and he couldn't get locked and loaded fast enough.  He is enthralled with the groomers on the hill but his focus was clearly on how to get back to the magic carpet as fast as possible from the top.  Enter exhibit A and B - A was controlled and B... well... the Russian judge gives him a 10 for style points and I laughed all the way down the hill (so did the liftie!). Every time he got to the top of the magic carpet the liftie would shake his head and say, "he still has the biggest smile I've seen all day out here" and that lasted until we packed it up to go home.  He loves it and I'm so glad he does!  There was a mother of the year moment on the hill too which I will neglect to post the associated video to but suffice to say, there was some excessive speed, lack of "making of the pizza" (read: braking), a magic carpet gone wrong and reactionary crying but in the end, the smile stayed plastered on and a good time was had by all. It will be wonderful to watch him get stronger and manage his overconfidence.  Learning the basic snow plow could be a bit of a challenge! Today... who needed to snow plow???

OK I couldn't figure out how to put it here but it's the ski video that is somewhere else!

I have been fortunate to have captured some amazing photos since we've been home.  Here are some wonderful ones that a photographer who I came to know through the endless document requests from my bank offered to take for us since we didn't have many with Lyric our dog.  There are so many to choose from - but 2 is enough. 

 What else have we been up to??? Well it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and this year, there is truly no place like home for the holidays.  Corbin was enamored with the lights and the various decorations that he got to help put on.  I was so excited to get out the Russian ornaments I bought on trip one (since it was Christmas after all!) and then to pull out the BEAUTIFUL Father Frost carving that I bought in Moscow.  To me, this photo says contentment.  It's the first time in 3 years that this house has held a tree...

And finally, after another friend commented to me on how much bigger Corbin seems to be I popped him on the scale and measured him up.  He's now 34 lbs and 38 1/2 inches tall... I'm pretty sure he's in a growth spurt because tonight he ate more than I did and then had chocolate pudding for dessert. 
Well, it's war and peace again but like I said, it's busy and the wonderful moments keep coming!


First day skiing - thank goodness he loves it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

5 Months Home

Wow.  Corbin... you've been home now for as long as I waited between trips.  It felt like an eternity to wait and wonder and wish and now, 5 months has passed in the blink of an eye.  You are so excited for Christmas - every time the doorbell rings or you hear someone outside you light up and exclaim, "Is Santa here?!?"  You tell me, "I hear reindeer on roof - UP THERE!!!" out of the blue - and I love that you are so excited to sit on his knee.   I have a renewed excitement for Christmas this year as I watch the traditions through your excited little eyes.  It's been a lot of years since I've honestly and whole heartedly counted down the days until Christmas morning.  I can't wait. 
5 months done and gone - you are still growing like a little weed and tonight you felt like you weighed 100lbs as I carried you sleeping inside to tuck you into bed.  We're subbing in some size 3 clothes now and handing down the smaller 24 mos and even some of the size 2.  Yesterday you turned 3 1/2.  I looked back at our trip one pictures and you have changed so much in that time.  Tonight after your bath I noticed that you have more "meat on your bones" and that your rippling 6pack is now more of a toddler tummy - I don't ever think a 6 pack in a 3 year old is a good thing so I'm happy that yours is replaced by some meatballs and potatoes :) I'm not rolling up sweat pants or pulling up a baggy bum anymore - you are stretching right in front of my eyes.  I don't see it but friends do - thank you for eating!!!
All little boy but forever Mama's baby.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Arrival of winter and PPR #1

Winter raged into town with a vengeance bringing with it the usual heavy dump of the white stuff, traffic delays, driveways to be shoveled and new fun things to explore.  Corbin begs from the moment he gets up for his boots and mittens... at -17 Mama is reluctant to comply.  I also am having trouble with the concept of Christmas... what to buy now and what to wrap up under the tree later.  As I sit looking out at blue sky and mounds of beautiful white snow that begs to be sledded on, I am caught - toboggan now or under the tree? On the flip side though, Corbin is having NO trouble with he concept of Christmas.  As we walked through the mall I explained Santa, his reindeer's, good little girls and boys and Corbin is definitive that, "Santa bring me yellow pick up truck please" over, and over, and over... it was cute the first oh say 500x lol.  We've added a few items to his wish list and thankfully I already have a small stash of stocking items on the go so I'm ahead of the curve.  Corbin is ready for ski season too.  We picked up a set of wee little skis with the promise that when it snows outside we can ski in the mountains...  well now with all the snow outside the chorus of "yellow pick up truck" is joined by "we go to mountains and ski now Mama?" 
In other update sort of news, PPR #1 is now done and behind us.  Strange really since it is to be for 6 months and we will have only been home 5 months in a few days but it is complete.  It was simple really - she came, followed the prescribed set of questions and observed Corbin and Me in our natural habitat.  She was very happy with everything and said that she couldn't hope for a child to adjust more beautifully.  The next day we attended the Adoption Month celebration at our home study agency and had the privilege of standing at the front of the room to talk about the process.  It's a walk down memory lane to go back to my seat in the crowd and all the hopes that came with that seminar.  It was apropos that when I put my winter coat on that morning, I actually hadn't worn it since trip one last winter... it had tic tac's in one pocket (pasty mouth saver) and Russian coins in the other.  I gave each of the families one as my sentiment of good luck in their journey. I can't wait to hear of their journeys. 
And finally, we spent some great time again with my girlfriend and her family including Corbin's friend Mamush who joined his family just before Corbin arrived home.  What a whirl wind of toddler activity with the boys in the house.  They had quite the experience getting interviewed at the US embassy for Mamush to get a travel visa... Not sure what an interview of a 20 month old entails but... it was a circus and it is complete.  Fun week - next week we'll ski, skate and Mama will start to do some Christmas shopping.  The stockings are found, ornaments sorted, baking lists made, menus for Christmas being contemplated and the excitement of creating our own family traditions is so wonderful. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My own Remembrance day

One year ago today the day started out like pretty much all the other ones. The day started early and my phone nearly died so when I returned to my vehicle at 12:09 (funny how time stands still and you remember weird details?) I flipped open my phone to see that I had a missed call from the area code where referral calls come from.  My heart lept and nearly pounded out of my chest... this was it... the call... The details were fast and furious - boy, young, small... do you have an Internet connection right now?  No.  Frantic calls to my sister followed and she met me at Starbucks to hit a wireless connection so that I could see this little boy.  There were tears of joy, cheers with my coffee, and even a picture of the first time I saw his face.  Calls were placed to Dr. Bledsoe so that she could review his file the following night.  He was beautiful.  I can still see his dark eyes clearly in my head. For just more than 30 hours I hoped against hope that he was the one... that finally I had a face to my dreams.  It was not to be.  Our phone call to discuss his health was short.  Within the first minute she had tenderly told me about the challenges that she felt that this little guy would almost certainly have.  There was no question that I had to decline this referral and go back to waiting for my son.  My heart broke as I hung up the phone and the numbness set in.  I remember not knowing what to do or what to say... the silence hurt.  I went into auto pilot and headed to my soccer game arriving late to a dressing room full of team mates who have known and supported me for years.  I opened the door and the flood gates all at the same time.  I couldn't even say the words... I just cried... and played soccer.  No one pushed or prodded... they were just there and continue to be.  November 11th - Remembrance day, I notified my agency that I would be officially declining this little boy. 
Beautiful baby Roman... I am sorry that I couldn't be the Mama that you need and deserve.  I think about you often and have prayed that you are in the loving arms of your family as I type this.  I brought some clothes and a toy for you on my first trip - it eases my conscience to hope that you received them... and then as I re-read that statement how shallow it seems... that a toy and clothing could somehow make up for the fact that you live in an orphanage without a family of your own...  Later, it helped me to breathe a sigh of relief when my facilitator told me that you had been referred and accepted by an American family... but I sometimes still check the photo listing and you are still there.  You will forever be in my heart, thoughts and prayers... in a perfect world, children wouldn't have to want for a family.  They wouldn't have to be without a goodnight kiss and story.  This world isn't perfect but we do the best we can.  Roman, I hope you are loved today and always... and that you are adored by your own Mother who has a perfect love for you. 
I'll never forget.
Happy Happy edit... I just checked the photolisting and you are gone... and to me, that means I can smile knowing you are in the family that is meant to be yours.  I hope your Mama loves you a little extra tonight - I know I'll love my son knowing he's where he's supposed to be too.  And they all lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Seen and heard

In an effort to cut out the rhetoric that could turn this post into an entry akin to "war and peace" I'll short hand it: Seen and heard over my birthday, halloween and first day of preschool week. 
1. Corbin asked me about 10x on my birthday if I am happy... he loves to hear me say "Absolutely" and it's funny to hear him say it back.
2.  At the end of breakfast he said, "Mama... nice music, I want dance you Mama" and he picked a great song (one of my favorite things he gave me for my birthday)
3.  Auntie Karen took him shopping and he picked out my gift along with a beautiful card... my first one "from him" that says "To My Mom". 
4.  He made a grown man cry.  Watching a strong, confident, outgoing, hockey coaching, business owning grown up man cry as he thinks of his own little boy waiting in Russia made me even more reverent for the fact that Corbin is home, he's happy, he's healthy, he's mine.  Watching this mans love and pain roll down his cheeks reminds me that my own story before Corbin was home isn't that far from the surface - I can still feel it in the pit of my stomach for those in limbo.  To my friend J and his 6 degrees of separation wife R, you know how big the celebration will be with you here in Cowtown when your son is home right?
5.  Blowing candles out and singing happy birthday... 
6.  ABC's... this shocked me so of course I got out the camera :)  I've sung this to him in the car regularly and he's learning what the letters look like and say from "the letter factory" which is wonderful.  It's so cute to see him pointing out "MAMA!!! LETTERS!!!" on everything and having him tell me the letters on my shirts.  This is a new bedtime ritual.

7.  Halloween.  He was going to be a cowboy until a friend brought over LIGHTENING MCQUEEN!!!! and that was that.  Our little posse travelled together and Corbin had a blast... and I love coffee crisp :)
8.  At the haunted house on our block he ran up the walk yelling "I no scared!" and then told the man dressed up as Frankenstein at the door, "You a SCARY man!"
9.  First day at preschool.  Never looked back.  He didn't cry when I dropped him off... but did when it was time to go.  Not surprisingly I was told he was redirected for using his outside voice indoors... I grimaced a little in the knowledge that he is having trouble monitoring his volume button.  He LOVED his morning at school and told me he played with new friends.  I can't wait to volunteer next week and see just how he does in his new school.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Russia + Canada - you knew this was coming

In the last one he is protesting LOUDLY that, "I skating Mama. NO PICTURES!!! I WANT SKATING NOW!!!"  We were at the rink for 2 hours in total (including making new friends, resting by the fire, snack, and lots and lots of skating) and by the end he was ready to take a few steps on his own towards me just like learning to walk.  He proclaimed with excitement over and over, "It's Slipp-ew-eee Mama, dee ice is slipp-ew-eeee!!!" He didn't complain once about the helmet, falling down or his skates hurting his feet.  The only complaint came when I said we had to go.  He wanted to go swimming next... and when that failed, he headed back towards the arena.  Tomorrow he gets to come to my hockey game and be on the bench with the team... I think his head might explode with delight.  So much fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

4 Months already

Today marks 4 months almost exactly to the minute that he walked through the front door of our home, had his first bath, demolished a wonderful car cake, opened some presents and passed out from exhaustion in his bed for the first time.  Four months ago I worked hard to bridge the language gap with "Russian For Adoptive Parents" learned from a CD and augmented by 5 weeks with Anna in Russia and chose to lay beside him sleeplessly at night rethinking this whole "co-sleeping" business and if it was for us.  We muddled through our days and Corbin bravely ran headlong into his new life.  Gone is the Russian, gone is the quiet little boy who took everything in, gone are the pants that fell down, gone are 2 pairs of shoes, gone is the "liver yuck", gone are most of the eating battles, gone is the tricycle, and gone are any questions of how he would manage leaving the life he knew behind.  We've said hello to so many family, friends, experiences, so much laughter, so many cute sayings, so many skills (like riding his 2 wheeler like a mad man after just one kick at the cat - ok yes it has training wheels but it only took about 200 meters to figure out how pedaling back made the brakes go or that he had to watch, steer AND pedal all at the same time - now it's look out world.)  So many people have chuckled and commented that he is SO much like me in the way he tackles life - the jumping in and swimming, the bike riding, the running, the walking without a stroller for 3 1/2 hours at the zoo (and by walking I mean running amok where he can and being reigned in where he can't), the quick smile and sense of ha ha, the I'll try anything once - maybe twice after a hug and probably most strongly as of late... the way karma comes around to laugh HAHA HA!!! as this child of mine talks NON STOP!!!  My friend Kari said something that touched me today when she said, "If you and Scott were to have had a child, it would have been him..." (we had been talking about the stuff he "just does" and the fact that I needed a quiet, padded room from the incessant talk - and I do mean INCESSANT!!! The questions, the color commentary, the requests and ongoing noise from him is incredible).  So that's four... come and gone just like that.  So many memories, so much fun.  I'm exhausted. I'm happy.
This week my little guy will be filled with your first time on skates, watching your first hockey game (which will "star" Mama playing, singing Mama happy birthday, Halloween and more non stop commentary of it all.  Just like the last one, it's gonna be a great week :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Very Most Thankful Of All

It's not that I'm in Bermuda that I'm most thankful for - although spending a day on a boat in my swimsuit wakeboarding certainly makes the radar as it's just as likely that I find myself in snowboots at home in October.  It's not that I spent the day with friends old and new that prove that geography and circumstance know no bounds of the ties that bind that make me most thankful.  It's not enjoying an amazing meal, bottle of wine, warm breeze, outstanding Italian service and fresh pasta followed up by INCREDIBLE chocolate lava cake tonight that makes me most thankful.  It's not being reverent for the fact that I am in a place, space and time in life that 95% of the population on earth will never enjoy with health, ability, and opportunity that makes me most thankful.  It is quite plainly and obviously watching my son experience life with fresh, happy, thirsty for experience eyes that makes me the very most thankful of all.  I find myself speechless so often in the wonder that is him as he mundanely goes about his days astonishing me without batting so much as an eye.  Today, I saw my son happily swim away from me on his own... life jacket snapped on for safety, "pool noodle" stabilizing his way as he swam his way towards the beach where he and Michelle had scoped out a small swing set up for a boy just his size.  He must have swam back and forth 6 times grinning ear to ear announcing that he is fast like the boats.  Steph taught him to blow bubbles, he learned more new words like "wake boarding" and jumped from the back of the boat into my arms in the water like he's been on a boat from day one.  We all say it... and we all believe with our whole hearts that it's true... My son, it becomes more obvious to me every day that you are MEANT to be in my life... meant to be my son... meant to teach me lessons about adoration and love and celebration and love, meant to wow me with your laissez faire approach to OMG!!! I can't believe that you do the things you do and neither can the people who are meeting you.  I can't wait for forever and I'm beyond thankful on this Thanksgiving that you have blessed my life with your zest, enthusiasm, spirit, humor, love, and I can do anything attitude. And, you are right - you can do anything - please just wait until I have my camera ready.  So thankful... so amazing... so you. 
Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends and to the American ones we're cooking for tomorrow! 
Did I say it clearly enough... Wow... you amaze me... over and over.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the road - Part III

Well here we are in sunshiney Bermuda!  Finally some well deserved vitamin D after a summer that certainly didn't provide much of it at home.  I as the Mama can tell you this: Vacations will never be the same. Long gone are the laissez faire, by the seat of my pants vacation where I toured about on a scooter where it momentarily and very rarely slipped my mind that they drive on the "wrong side" of the road. Now, I'm weighed down with car seats and strollers (one of which Air Canada broke and the other of which they forgot to put on the plane but did arrive the following day thankfully!) and sunscreen and beach toys and life jackets but I wouldn't trade back for the world.  The weather has been amazing (SPF 60 worthy for sure) and as we boarded Wil & Michelle's boat I wondered if the rough waters and loud engine would scare Corbin.  We headed out and he proved my fears wrong as he beamed from ear to ear as we bounced over the ocean waves and his quest to drive the boat was answered.  It seems this kid was born for the water.  When we arrived I told him we would get to swim in the Ocean, play in the sand and ride on some boats.  Well, BOAT! was all he heard - and all I have heard since then lol.  He woke up the first night eyes heavy with jet lagged sleep and retorted loudly, "BOAT! BOAT! BOAT!" and then promptly went back to sleep.  The ranting list of what we've done reads like this: Ferry boats, Buses, Beaches, Swimming, Bermuda Shorts, Michelle's Birthday, Wil's Boat, Fish & Chips, Sand Castles, Sunscreen, Shade, Rum Swizzles for Mama, Corbin's first Coke, ice cream, new words like light house, ocean, scooter, "mo-to bike" (he has said that for a long time but it's funny because his accent comes out), palm tree, ferry boat, pung-baw(b) (which is of course sponge bob lol),  cruise ship, tree frog,  and one of my favorites "no hank-you" which means he's learning to be a polite little boy :) 
I think every adoptive parent wonders how "the first" anything will be.  Well, our first trip has gone without a hitch thus far.  The flight - he was a champ.  The red eye is no treat for anyone never mind a 3 year old but he managed it like a pro.  Napping, chatting with seat mates and being a generally good little traveler.  He is an airport pro even on no sleep and a great little cuddler while he naps :)  Surprisingly, eating - it is going great. No issues here.  He might be hitting a growing spurt or something given the amount he's eating and sleeping - I guess time will tell.  It's been a blast and will be for another week as Mama's friend Steph arrives on Saturday for a visit.  We have big plans... including the infamous Rum Swizzle and more beaches, sand and boats.  Don't worry Steph, I've got the sunscreen.  Monday is our first Thanks Giving as a family and while it won't be at home with our family, we'll be here with my family of friends.  There will be ham instead of Turkey (who wants to be inside for the day roasting a turkey when there are beaches to bathe on?) and there might not be some of the things you'll become accustomed to for holiday celebrations but there will be love... and no mater where we are, I'll be thankful for that. 
Oh yeah, one more funny thing from the road? We were grocery shopping with Michelle for birthday party BBQ supplies when we walked through the liquor section of the store.  Corbin announced while pointing to the wine, "MOMMY JUICE!!!" and I quietly laughed and said yes... it's Mama Juice... To which he retorted while pointing to the Corona, "MORE MAMA JUICE!!! Dis One Same (as home) with CAMELS!" To which I respond, "Yes Corbin, Mama has the same at home"... this goes on and on in an isle that suddenly felt like it was a football field long.  Oh well, everyone there got a good chuckle out of it and I'm sure they'd all be surprised at how infrequently I actually indulge in the Mama Juice.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A visit from Anna & a boy and his dog

Our Anna from Khabarovsk is here for a visit.  Our Anna who made our trip wonderful, meaningful and most importantly sane is here in Canada.  Having Anna here has been an opportunity for me to give back to someone who really was the high point in my time on trip two.  We've spent time visiting and sight seeing and while that's been fun for Mama, it's brought up some hiccups for my little man.  Thankfully it didn't take long for me to recognize subtle and eventually not so subtle changes in my boy for what they were.  It started out with what I would call "bratty" outbursts or not listening, or just repetitive things (requests, demands, "in my face" behavior) that I just brushed off as a bad day... then it was 2 days... It grated on me something fierce - not because it was awful, but because it was out of character for Corbin.  After a particularly trying series of demands which made me want to invoke the we both need a time out clause, I stopped... and simply asked him if he needed a hug... (because I did) and he burst into tears and said Yes... I need cuddles.  In a moment where I wanted to push him away... it turned out that was exactly NOT what he needed.  As the house of cards began to fall, I learned that my boy was likely overwhelmed, confused, scared and insecure about the arrival of our Anna. There had been much Russian spoken to and around him and compounding that is the fact that we had started to talk about our vacation where we would be flying on an airplane.  1 + 1 = a little boy who possibly wondered if the Russian speaking lady from when Mama came was here to put him on the plane.  Since I recognized this for what it most likely is there has been dedicated cuddle time, reinforcing conversations that I am his forever Mama (he has asked probably 75x "Corbin's Mama?") and random snuggles just to put him at ease.  He's even been more territorial with Lyric and is back to himself.  All in all I think that this is good for us - he has learned that I'm not going anywhere and that he can trust me when he is afraid.  Perhaps stresses like this help to solidify that this is permanent... you're stuck with me kid! So, tomorrow we're off to Banff with Anna - I can't wait to see her face when she sees the mountains close up.  And in other random "we've been busy" news, Corbin attended 2 birthdays in one day - one for a little friend at gymnastics (read: MAMA JUMPING!!!) and one for Uncle Jeremy and all in the same day, Corbin also got to meet some very special men in Mamas life - my old soccer coaches.  I love that they still love me and couldn't wait to meet my boy :) 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

He is amazing

Family pictures... For so long I stood back pretending to be busy while the rest of my friends and family captured moments to keep for a lifetime. I don't have to pretend it doesn't bother me anymore. I have a family. Here are our pictures.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Playdates, baking and follow up doctors appointments

The whrilwind never stops around here... wait... even before Corbin there was always some sort of tornado of activity so I guess I just like it that way :)  We visited the "kids hospital" as Corbin calls it earlier this week.  Great news, he's growing (one inch in 2 months), gaining weight (2.5+ lbs in 2 months) and talking at a level that the doctor said she would expect from a home grown kiddo.  He even managed to argue with her about the finer points of "POOH Bear" vs "POLAR Bear"... she said whatever we are doing at home it's all good and she can't wait to see what he comes up with after starting preschool in November.  No concerns, no follow up and no additional appointment until the new year. 
We've spent time with many other friends and Corbin talks about it for days afterwards.  It's one of the things I enjoy now - his reasoning and language skills have developed so that he talks about what he DID and what he WANTS to DO later.  Busy week with playdates for him and for me.  He is getting more restless and harder to entertain at Mommy lunches but loves to eat Sushi which I am thrilled about :)  He could have ridden forever with Uncle Jeremy in his "Small car" and I love to watch him give hugs and kisses when we leave.  Here are some pictures of our day with his special friends who will remain nameless since I didn't ask Mama and Papa if I could post.  Suffice to say, we love 'em and Corbin could have raced in the kitchen for hours and hours - could have been the sugar rush from the cookies but... whatever it was it was so cute to watch! 
The other fun stuff keeps rolling in: We spent this afternoon with Anna from Khabarovsk (my angel who I stayed with!) who is here for a visit for two weeks.  She couldn't believe how happy and settled in Corbin is - he really isn't interested in hearing any Russian anymore and raises his hand and says "NO" or waves it off which was heartbreaking for Anna I think.  We'll see more of her coming up and have some pictures to share I'm sure.  On Sunday my little man will have the chance to meet some very special people to Mama.  My old soccer coaches are coming into town for a visit.  I have respected and admired these men for the better part of my life and I'm thrilled that they still consider me a friend after so many years.  The tears will flow (and not from me... but grown men don't cry right?) as we reminisce about the times, the games, the wins and the lessons learned but mostly the fact that you never lose track of good people who make your world better.  Knuddie and Alvin - can't wait to see you... P.S. Corbin already has a mean shot ... I think he'll be a solid mid fielder too just like his Mama :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The babysitter is coming at 6

Those words felt sooooo good to say and so over due.  It's strange... for so long all I could do was obsess about how badly I wanted to get him here and into his bed and after only 2 1/2 months, the relief I felt at having at having a SILENT car ride followed by a nice dinner, a bottle of wine, some adult conversation and the most incredible dessert I've had in a long long time.  I got to do my hair, put some perfume on and I even wore beautiful shoes that by the time I crossed the parking lot and street, climbed the flight of stairs and arrived at our table had me cursing the practicality of 4" stilettos... I've missed the girl who fearlessly tackled a night of dancing in these beasts and who didn't feel like crashing at 11:10... but I also spent half the night talking about my boy, our adventures, the funny stories, and the things we've done.  My feet hurt in a good way that reminds me that I can have both... I can wear the shoes, do my hair and still proudly tote the spider man back pack full of gold fish crackers and dinky cars.  Yes people, it's official... you can have your cake and eat it too (thanks to the babysitter with amazing parents who offered their girls up from the day I knew I was adopting who live around the corner and will provide much needed sanity breaks and availability to cover soccer and hockey games... did I mention I love you???) 
Serenity now... serenity now... serenity now :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Random Musings from Russia

I find myself telling the stories of my time in Russia and remembering moments that didn't make the blog for one reason or another, but that I don't want to forget.  So, as they come up, I'll share some funny memories. 

"Mama Ka-kat!!!"
It's a beautiful morning for a walk in Khabarovsk and Corbin and I are strolling along the promenade peacefully enjoying the cooler temperatures and sparse Russian crowds in an area that soon becomes packed with festivities and action.  We would get up at about 7:30, eat and then head out for a walk until noon.  Dressed in his new finest threads imported from Canada sans pull up, I hadn't really contemplated where facilities are located along the walk (rookie move).  I had scouted for them in the afternoons and evenings and in the vendors, bathrooms were plentiful.  At this hour however (nothing gets going until after lunch) not a toilet was to be seen.  Bear in mind that communications between the little Russian and Big Mama were full of enthusiasm but lacking in content so when I heard "MAMA...KA-KAT!" loud and clear from my babes mouth I shuddered in horror as I frantically scanned for the nearest facsimile to a toilet... AH HA! porta potty... NYET! guarded by some grumpy looking Baba I needed some amount of money payable in Rubles to use the nasty stench of a potty... I only had some bigger bill and she had no change and quite frankly I wasn't ready to part with what could have turned out to be $20 to have him be afraid of the nasty hole in the lumber... time was seriously of the essence.  Fine then, I'll take that bush... I don't have the language, the charades skills nor the inclination to ask for directions to the nearest approvable location so... we dart dash and do do.  Thankfully Mama had a zip lock full of wipes.  While you are disgusted with my behavior, it's worse: that this was not the only time that a bear pooped in the woods... but what do you do??? Like a good "owner" however, I did bag and tag the next one for proper disposal.  I have however repented since I've been home and am happy to say that there has been no pooping in the woods since we've been back.  Oh yeah, and I'm a better charades player in English :)
Stay tuned... there are way more stories from the trenches.