Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Friday, 31 December 2010

On The Seventh Day of Christmas...

...there are no swans a'swimming, although there are some good puddles of melting snow for someone/thing to enjoy, after a warm day.

Today we have been cozily tucked indoors, with our lights and music, enjoying new reading material. While I always anticipate multiple long days of quiet leisure activity through the holidays, we always seem hard-pressed to find one or two.

Overall, the week has been fuller than we would like, and has involved illness for a couple of folks, but all in all it has been good.

We hosted extended family on Boxing Day, and enjoyed having my aunt, uncle, and cousins with us for a couple of nights. My parents will continue to stay through the coming weekend.

Geoff is currently playing with his new ukulele (an upgrade from the little beginner model we picked up last winter). I have a great deal more to learn about my new wide angle lens (see picture below), but have already quite enjoyed the lovely new tripod I received!


We do not relish the thought of being back to work and home maintenance routines in a few days, so will continue to ignore all that and do the best to make the most of our remaining holidays. Which means I should likely get back to my book (just about to begin the third in the Hunger Games trilogy, which was waiting for me under the tree)...


Hoping folks have had some pleasant and refreshing holiday time, and that the coming year nourishes your soul and draws you closer to the meaningful things in life.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

12 Years


On December 19 we celebrated our 12th anniversary! We were married on a rainy Saturday, which washed away the bit of pretty snow we had been enjoying.

It was the shortest day of my life. I remember most of it quite vividly, and am glad we at least had a nice, long ceremony (hey, it was our party and we were quite happy to make folks sit through an hour of hymns, readings, and musical performances - after all, we only planned to do it once).

The university church/chapel barely needed adornment, with its lovely stone floor and wooden pews, and the bit of cedar garland already there along with a few poinsettias worked perfectly. The reception site (also at the university) also required no additional decorating - lovely wood floors, walls, and tables, wood & leather studded chairs, "house" candelabras, and Christmas decor including a massive tree made for the perfect setting.

Dinner was delicious, and before we knew it, we were changing into our "going away" outfits and heading off into the night.



(On our anniversary this past Sunday, Geoff's parents had asked to meet us in the park after church to take some photos of them in this sleigh, for use with next year's Christmas card...so we had them snap a couple of us as well). It is a good thing we at least have the photos, since the rest of the day was a flurry of Church-related Christmas activity - we managed to open our gifts later in the evening, before heading off to bed for some rest before the beginning of the always-busy week before Christmas!

Speaking of which...I must get to bed tonight, so I have the stamina necessary for Christmas Eve and any remaining preparations. My parents have arrived within the past hour, and the holiday-ing has begun.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Uh Oh (and the Hounds of Christmas)

I just noticed that it has been over a month since I last posted. It seems the more I have spinning around in my head, the less I can organize myself to put it in writing (maybe I've said that before...I know I've thought it).

Anyway, in a bit of brain muddle right now, too. Just wanted to pop by and say hello to anyone who's still checking in. I have no intention of abandoning this blog, but would like to find some coherence first!

Before signing off for tonight (without having said anything worthwhile), the least I can do is leave you with a little Christmas cheer:


Monday, 8 November 2010

Am I Getting Old?

I have been reminded, since yesterday's time change, that "gaining" an hour as a result of the "fall back" time change is not as exciting in reality as it seems in theory.

Sure, staying up a bit late Saturday night because it's more like 11:00pm new time, rather than 12:00am old time, is enticing (or was, when I was 14 or so). But the dogs, and sometimes the body, still wake up on the "old" schedule the next day. And by early evening, the "old" body clock is even more evident, as one is ready to wind down by the new 9:30pm, thinking it's 10:30pm. Right now it's 9:15pm on the second day of the time change, and I feel jet-lagged. But I still have a Christmas tree to finish decorating (yes, that is correct. Tree #2 is standing).

"Spring Forward" (e.g., the dreaded going to bed an hour "early" scenario) always seemed like a rip-off...but I'm thinking that might be a nice treat to look forward to.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Theory, Reality, and Acceptable Risk, Part 2

Way back on June 14, I wrote about risk in adoption, particularly when the parent hopes to adopt a healthy child who is developmentally on target and does not present with significant "issues" overall:

"When signing up to adopt a healthy infant through international adoption, I wonder to what extent adoptive parents REALLY consciously consider the unknowns and say "yes" to those possibilities. You know, anything from attachment issues to genetic/organic developmental delays which might not be immediately apparent, to unknown biological family mental health histories which could surface in our children. I suppose anyone who has a child, no matter how that happens, is saying "yes" to some of those risks, and to others, and hopefully in a conscious way...

...In international adoption, things are complicated in part due to the possibility of very limited family and developmental history, and the inability to meet and interact with a child before adoption decisions are finalized..."

Having dipped a toe or two into the domestic public adoption world, things look different. Essentially every child profile contains at least an inkling of "issues" - whether due to trauma, pre-natal substance exposure, multiple caregivers, developmental and genetic conditions, or other factors. Unlike in international adoption, the "yes" parents say to various possibilities in public adoption is more direct, more intentional. Sure, in international adoption, parents specify openness to possible issues, but I am still thinking more here about the unknowns...the things that cannot be seen or predicted.

Perhaps it is empowering for parents to have this kind of background information about their child. It certainly forces a prospective parent to move beyond the hypothetical "yes", to making an active decision to consider various factors. And at the same time, I wonder if availability of choice also complicates things - causing us to over-think issues or let doubt creep in.

One of the big factors in many public adoption situations is the known, suspected, or unknown (meaning, it cannot be ruled out) use of substances, including alcohol, by the mother during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol-related disorders and symptoms certainly vary from child to child, but can be unpredictable. Long lists of possible difficulties are easily available. And, FASD cannot be ruled out in the early years, even if the child does not currently demonstrate any signs. I will admit that it all sounds a bit frightening.

And then...I consider how serious attachment difficulties, trauma-related behaviours, and other issues can also sound/be quite intense and overwhelming as well. But by signing up for international adoption, I have said "yes" to the possibility of any of these things.

Today, though, I am curious about FASD, mostly because it is something I haven't spent as much time contemplating and researching, having focused more on development, post-birth trauma, and attachment, among other topics. Is FASD more of a monster than developmental delay, trauma-related issues, attachment disorder, or other issues that might creep up unexpectedly? Is it something to say "no" to, even if the answer to the other possible issues is "yes"? And...if FASD seems to big or scary, then I suspect the "yes" to potential attachment and trauma issues should be re-evaluated, too. And I'm not saying it is too much, I'm just wanting to think it all through, and maybe hear some other thoughts.

I have always wanted to adopt. I believe that I realize many of the risks, but don't want those to stop me from experiencing the potential beauty as well. I don't believe we are meant to play it safe and protect ourselves from challenges in life...but I also know we need to be wise, recognizing our strengths, and also seeing where others may be better suited to the task at hand.

It's up for discussion, now, folks...

Friday, 15 October 2010

Thanks, Fall Fair, For Our Annual Self-Esteem Boost!


As always, the fall fair crept up on us - it's very sneaky.

Thankfully, we have a few things waiting around, finished or nearly finished.

Literally at the last moment, I realized I had way of entering some bags (none of the categories fit...until I realized that three appliqued bags could be a "hobby collection" using the same technique. Yay!).

We ended up submitting:

Joy - Bag collection
Joy - Necksessory (necklace) (see January 27, 2010 post, "In Stitches")
Geoff - Birdhouse
Geoff - Fox (see January 27, 2010 post, "In Stitches") (he also had enough items for a hobby collection, but we would have had to run to my sister's to steal a couple things he made for my niece, and there wasn't time)
Both of us - Photos of various descriptions



I think somebody must have been concerned we'd have it out if there was a prize imbalance between the two of us. We came home with two, first-place ribbons each!

Geoff won for both his fox and birdhouse, and I for my bag collection and marsh photo (See June 26, 2010 post, "Backpacking on the Bay").

When we were dropping off the entries, it appared Geoff had some stiff competition in the garden decor category, and we didn't see many other entries, so weren't sure what else was being judged until after it was done.



I have received a few second-place ribbons and a third or two in the past, for photos and hand-crafts (a cross-stitch sampler which was also a last-minute entry). Geoff has been cleaning up with firsts for his birdhouses the past couple of years.


I used to work with two folks who happen to be on the fair committee (a bit strange, as we border a decent-sized city, and I worked in the city, and this is a large country fair, but not the city fair - although there is one of those, too).

Anyway, I started out submitting photos, for fun, since I take so many of them. (Basically, it gave me lots of excuses to take even MORE pictures. Ok, if you insist)! Then I entered in handwork, and once Geoff started building birdhouses, I encouraged him to enter as well.

I am thinking the time will soon come when we will be competing in the same categories. It's pretty much inevitable. If anyone has great (subtle) sabotage ideas, just let me know.


So, a good time was had by all. I did notice that the best of show photo, and a number of handwork entries, were submitted by someone we know from church youth group, back in the day. And I was up against one of my former colleagues in the hobby collection category for the first time. Just how a country fair should be - just like the old days, neighbour against neighbour!

Now to start researching livestock options to bump it up a notch for next year...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Leaky

Geoff and I seem to be a bit lacking in observation skills (and what comes after making observations...like knowing when to investigate further and perhaps involve someone else).

Last Thursday we arrived home and noticed a shiny, wet spot in the road (a local highway) in front of our house. Odd. Must be some sort of oily substance which spilled from a passing vehicle or trailer.

Then Sunday there was a big wet area on the road. Odd. But it rained earlier, so must be some sort of low spot.

Then today, still a big wet spot. But no rain. Huh. Whatever, then. Off to see a client.

And apparently I work with water so little (and our water pressure is so poor to start with) that I failed to notice a drop in water pressure. And would likely not have had the wherewithal to link reduced water pressure with wet spot on road. But hopefully I would have. But maybe not.

Then this afternoon there was a water company vehicle in front of my house. And then a utility locator vehicle across the road, putting up little yellow and orange marker flags. Then the hydro truck in my driveway. Hmm...

So, I mustered up a miniscule bit of confidence, grabbed a watering can and headed to the front yard - to make it appear as though I was just out front to water the mums...oh, hello utility locator, had no idea you were here in my front yard...I'm just out watering the mums, as you can clearly see...but since I'm out here, and you're out here...I may as well inquire - looks like some kind of work about to be done?

Well yes, as a matter of fact, there seems to be a water line leak, which will require the road (and some of my front lawn, and the sidewalk) to be dug up. The utility locator man said he figured we must not have any water to the house. But we do (because I likely would have called somebody about that). And then I mentioned something about noticing the spot yesterday (Sunday)...and he said, "Oh, so it was there yesterday, too?" So I didn't mention that it had actually been there since at least Thursday (and that we had just been making up various explanations to satisfy ourselves about this mystery).

Later, the nice water company man came to the door with a notice that water will be shut off tomorrow for about 8 hours, off and on. Hoping I remember to fill the tub tonight for an emergency toilet-flushing and hand-washing supply. And that I remember to shower bright and early. At least I'm on the road a bit for work tomorrow, and will likely avoid most of the construction and lack of water....

Seems the water main across the road looks ok, and that our own personal water line coming off the main is to blame. The water man wondered if we had noticed reduced water pressure. But, as I said, my powers of observation are a bit weak. My brother, however, has noticed it, but has not said anything. The water man commented that this has likely been deteriorating for a long time. Over 10 years, maybe? - because that would be good...it has always been just a little unsatisfying to shower in our house, and we kept blaming things along the lines of old houses and inefficient/odd plumbing networks, etc., etc. I guess we will soon find out.

And this may be the most completely non-adoption-related post ever. But that is to your benefit, since water leaks are way more interesting and eventful than our adoption situation at the moment.

Monday, 27 September 2010

If I Do Say So Myself...


What you see pictured is our (meaning, Geoff's) first ever attempt at making Ethiopian food (with the help of The Recipe of Love: An Ethiopian Cookbook by Aster Ketsela Belayneh) - we tried split pea, cabbage/carrot/potatoe, and meat dishes (ran out of time to do up a kale recipe, but will try it another time). We cheated with the injera - using a recipe I found at rowanfamilytree.wordpress.com (January 13, 2008) - finding this recipe was my contribution to the process! The use of a cheater recipe is partly because the whole Ethiopian cooking adventure was kind of spontaneous, and we didn't have the ingredients or time available to make our very own fermented and more authentic version (for sure, that's a goal for another time).

So...we are pretty pleased with the outcome (I dare say I was pleasantly surprised that things turned out as well as they did). The look and texture were completely consistent with the real thing, and the flavours were all quite pleasing. The cheater injera had good texture, although the first few turned out a bit thick. Now that we are used to the sourness of the authentic stuff, we missed that, although this particular recipe is likely a good way to introduce Ethiopian food to those who may be a bit apprehensive or conservative in their tastes.

We plan to try freezing a few of the leftovers to see how that works, and if it does, will make larger batches in future since it's a bit time-intensive to make up a number of dishes all at once (Geoff worked on this over two evenings) - cooking up multiple dishes also uses quite a few pots and bowls!

I am very glad that my frequent cravings for Ethiopian can now be satisfied both at home and at our local Ethiopian restaurants - options, options. So lovely. Just wanted to share our experience - and encouraged you to give it a whirl if you haven't yet!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Who Do You Write Like?

So, I stumbled upon (using www.stumbleupon.com) the following site:

http://iwl.me/

Apparently the site does an analysis of some sample text you provide, and then spits out which known author's writing style is a match.

I entered two different blog posts, which I considered to be quite different in terms of tone and style, and both times I was matched with H.P. Lovecraft. And well, I am curious to read some of his work now. Which sounds very...unusual: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft

So folks, I am interested in hearing who you write like! (Partly in case the program simply spits out Lovecraft for everyone, and partly just out of general curiosity). Happy analyzing...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

No Idea


I could have written this post a year ago (minus a few added details and experiences/complications). Meaning that, after lots more thinking, learning, doing, waiting...we're pretty much (stuck) in the same spot/rut.

I believe I have stated previously that our adoption process started off with a (good) bang: found an agency following years of casually browsing the adoption options and putting off the whole having a family thing, started our homestudy (this burst of initiative came after realizing that there was no reason to do adoption "second", since adoption was for sure something we wanted to do...while there was always some uncertainty about taking the plunge when it came to bio kids), and then were excited to see our agency open a country program which seemed even more perfect for us than the one we had initially planned on joining.

The way things started to unfold, along with some other really neat events (like randomly starting an Africa Bag sewing blitz on a dull long weekend, then selling 60 bags to Facebook friends within one week after posting the bag photo album, plus a generous donation or two), very much affirmed the direction we (thought we) were heading. Even after some set-backs, certain things, like my opportunity to take severance from my full-time job and begin a very flexible EI-insured (yay, parental leave) part-time job (with time to adapt before becoming a parent), finally finishing my master's degree, some good-looking future changes to Geoff's job, etc., seemed remarkably consistent with our goals/plans/projected hypothetical time-frames/laughable assumptions.

But of course, along the way, the country program we chose closed.

So we signed up for another one through the same agency. Then that program started showing warning signs of closure (ok, more than that - it was all but finished).

Then the agency went bankrupt.

Then we felt pretty disconnected from any sense of what to do.

Then we signed a new retainer with Imagine for Ethiopia, because it seemed like the most viable option, and we had a pre-existing interest in the Ethiopia program from early in our adoption adventure, and for some other reasons which make the program and country appealing.

Then we realized (and Imagine confirmed) that sibling referrals were few and far between, and that our age range was way too restrictive (which is ok, since we were planning to change that anyway and had not started our homestudy update).

Then we decided to "check out" public adoption by attending a provincial event profiling children available...especially since we had become comfortable considering a much broader age range.

Then we had a match (which also had lots of possible "signs" this was potentially "meant to be" - and it was practically an international adoption from Africa right here in our own province)!

Then we spent the summer doing pre-placement visits (got as far as setting a placement date) and homestudy updates and private PRIDE training (apparently that is necessary for public adoption even though we started the homestudy in 2007, before it was required for international or private adoptions). (At the same time, Geoff was given his expected promotion...with an unexpected pay reduction - how does that fit with our stay-at-home, possible home-schooling dreams and values???).

Then we surprised ourselves and everyone else by deciding not to proceed with our matched child/ren...just after, of course, doing church and family events and introductions all 'round (long story there, but I will briefly say that we have experienced a bit of the all-too-familiar scenario where if certain questions we asked early on had been answered in full and...accurately...we could likely have saved everyone lots of time, $$, and other inconvenience/disappointment/frustration). Anyway...

So, now we have a homestudy update and are approved for the public adoption system in Ontario.

And we have a file with Imagine for Ethiopia (not updated, and would need another homestudy update for that).

And our Ethiopia travel account/additional agency fees fund is pretty much drained...on top of the $$ not recoverable from the bankruptcy (who knew public adoption could be so expensive, even though it's free?).

(And...I'll just whisper this, because it's not a super-huge thing...but still...our little adoption experience this summer makes me more aware, I suppose, of some potential realities. This whole thing is a bit scarier now. I still believe in it. But it's a bit scary.)

And we have no idea what we're doing. Our CAS worker would like to meet and chat about our thoughts and plans. I'm not sure we have many. I haven't ruled out Ethiopia at all (in fact, that would be fantastic even if we adopt publicly first). And some sibling referrals this summer (actually...see...siblings...that is one thing we are still pretty sure about) were encouraging.

There you have it. And I am pretty sure I could be stuck with no idea indefinitely. Things that can seem like arrows pointing one way, or affirming one thing, can turn out NOT to be anything at all (or at least, not what they seemed to be). I'm back to my usual not knowing whether waiting and doing nothing is the wise choice - just letting things "happen" (if/when they do), or whether acting in small doses, with careful consideration, is necessary and right. If I am pursuing/hacking away at a path of my own making, then I want to be re-directed. But I am not certain how to pick up on direction/re-direction, and don't want to miss out because I wasn't paying attention or doing something I needed to be doing.

Anyway, this is not really a sob story. Picture me more with a question mark (big one) over my head, and a quizzical look on my face. I know that to so, so many of you, this is a very familiar (and maybe only mildly difficult) trajectory. I continue to be thankful for the (mostly electronic) adoption connections with others living their own stories. I root for you all. And, like reading a gripping novel, I eagerly anticipate learning how things unfold...for all of us.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Vacation Re-Cap


So, two weeks ago we were anticipating the beginning of vacation. I think it actually happened...but wow, 10 days passes quickly.

We got off to a rough start. Some unexpected changes in plans within the two weeks leading up to vacation left us without a clear idea of what to do with ourselves. We didn't have a pet-sitter for the last weekend of August, so we happily drove up to the trailer, thinking we would stay for 5 nights or so. Well, ridiculous temperatures forced us home after 3 nights. It just doesn't seem right sitting inside a trailer (thankfully, it has air conditioning) to avoid the heat, on otherwise sunny days.

Once home, we were indecisive. We had been thinking of heading toToronto for at least a day or two, having wanted to get to Canada's Wonderland since last year (a plan foiled by last summer's vertebral fracture). But the temperature there was going to be HOTTER than what we were trying to escape. Our long weekend plans involved heading to Lion's Head with friends (thanks to her parents' generosity and lovely living location with views of Georgian Bay). For Geoff in particular, getting away for a few days promises a better chance of having a real break from the everyday. So...eventually we decided to head to the metropolis of Owen Sound. From there, we would be near our Labour Day weekend destination, and without doing much planning we figured there would be a bit of shopping, lots of nature, and some recreational biking opportunities.

It worked out well. During our 3-night stay, we managed a bike-based tour of historical landmarks in the city (I found information on the 'underground railroad' particularly interesting). We also biked out to Inglis Falls (a little bit of work in the heat which followed us - albeit much better than what we were experiencing closer to home - on a cruiser bike...although my back and behind were super-comfy). On Day 2 we decided to start out on the Tom Thompson trail - a cross-country gravel bike/walking path running from Owen Sound to Meaford. We figured that 45km one way was a bit much to contemplate (seeing as we are not in the habit of distance biking, and would have had to get back again the same day), but agreed to turn around at some point. So, we started out. And my quads were toast. We switched bikes (Geoff looked quite cute on my cruiser with his bright yellow mountain biking helmet), and I took advantage of the power positioning on his mountain bike to get a lot further. But it was lots of work for both of us, and we turned back after 10km. Only to realize that we had been on a nearly-invisible incline the whole way. We flew back to Owen Sound in the blink of an eye, wishing we had pushed ourselves further. But we managed to spend a few more hours out enjoying trails around the sound, and having a picnic-ish lunch just as rain began. So all in all, not too bad.

Day 3 involved browsing the downtown shops and meandering up to Tobermory, where we did more browsing and had supper before heading to Lion's Head. Lots of chill and rain over the long weekend, but our accommodations were cozy, time spent with friends was a pleasure, and there were enough breaks in the rain to get outside. And I finished off my October book club pick, so that was just fine by me!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sunset

August 21, 2010

The end of an interlude






Lingering on the moment

Before awaiting sunrise




Friday, 13 August 2010

Now This Looks Interesting...

Here's my book club pick for October, (and hey, if anyone wants to join in a cyber-club of sorts, perhaps I will start some discussion on it in October through this blog...just a thought).

Couldn't resist the whole Burma/Karen refugee theme, and the quirky descriptions of it. We shall soon see if it was a worthy choice:

Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan

http://www.amazon.ca/Saving-Fish-Drowning-Amy-Tan/dp/0399153012/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281723853&sr=8-2

(But first I should likely work on the September book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Who is the Lucky Secret Pal?

Better late than never, I hope!

Never fear, Secret Pal, this little messenger bag is on its way to you at last:




I am pretty sure the sewing machine has not seen the light of day since just before our Thailand trip in March. So, so sad. The house has been in upheaval, and I have not had a sewing spot for months. Now that the front porch winterization and set-up is nearly complete, I am anticipating the joy of having a dedicated crafting space!


I really enjoy sewing, and while getting out a bunch of "stuff" to whip this bag up seemed daunting at first, things came together quite smoothly in the end. And it was refreshing to work on the project, and get it all finished up - the same cannot surely be said about most of the other things I have on the go at the moment.

Ahh.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Oh Sure, I Have Better Things to Do, But...

...instead of doing something better, tonight I am posting about listening to oneself on video.

Because that is as deep as I can get right now. Ya know, just under an hour ago, I received an email about a meeting I was supposed to show up for tonight, which had already ended.

That pretty much sums up my brain function right about now.

So, listening to oneself on video. Always an interesting little exercise. While I have long been aware that my voice sounds unlike the voice I hear when I speak, tonight I was realizing that this woman, whoever she is, sounds pretty darned Canadian, or more like, Kin-ae-dien...eh...

And while this post would be worth a lot more (and perhaps even mildly interesting) if I actually posted the video clip, it seems I lack the skill necessary to do so. So you will just have to take my word for it.

You will also have to do without my intended words of farewell for the evening, because they involved certain forms of punctuation, and earlier my computer did the thing it does sometimes (which might be an accidental key hit on my part, but which I have never figured out), and is inserting letters with French accents instead of apostrophes and brackets and whatnot. Not about to re-start the laptop just to fix that little glitch at this time of night. So, good night.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Has Anyone Read This? Looks Interesting!

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers

http://www.amazon.ca/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/0676974724

From Publisher's Weekly:

Like countless other parents, Canadian doctors Neufeld and Maté woke up one day to find that their children had become secretive and unreachable. Pining for time with friends, they recoiled or grew hostile around adults. Why? The problem, Neufeld and co-writer Maté suggest, lies in a long-established, though questionable, belief that the earliest possible mastery of the rules of social acceptance leads to success. In a society that values its economy over culture, the book states, the building of strong adult/child attachments gets lost in the shuffle. Multiple play dates, day care, preschool and after school activities groom children to transfer their attachment needs from adults to their peers. They become what the authors call "peer oriented." The result is that they squelch their individuality, curiosity and intelligence to become part of a group whose members attend school less to learn than to socialize. And these same children are bullying, shunning and murdering each other, as well as committing suicide, at increasing rates. The authors' meticulous exploration of the problem can be profoundly troubling. However, their candidness and exposition lead to numerous solutions for reestablishing a caring adult hierarchy. Beautifully written, this terrific, poignant book is already a bestseller in Canada.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Backpacking on the Bay


Hard to believe I've already been home for a full week since the now-annual 3-day girls' backpacking on the Bruce Trail adventure. We had the absolute most perfect weather EVER this year - could literally not ask for anything better. Warm (but not hot) during the day, with a consistent breeze - wonder of wonders. And no rain. Makes such a difference - so much less sweat-dripping, head-pounding suffocation while struggling along with 35 pounds on the back during hot and humid conditions! I had my very own brand new tent this year, which worked out very well (bought the extra-long version of the REI Half Dome 2 - the 2 "Plus" - so that I can sleep with my feet on the sleeping pad rather than on my pack. No particular misadventures - other than a seagull yanking my pepperoni stick from my hand and then saucily devouring it right in front of me. I now have an arch-enemy with amazing super-powers. All I could do was try to stare him down so he didn't steal something else.



Gorgeous sunsets and great views from the rocky beaches where we camped along the way:


At some point during the hike I invariably wonder what on earth I was thinking, doing this thing I detest so completely. And then I usually recover a bit (well, except for year two. That was tough all the way along), re-group, and continue on. Felt so good the third day, I could have gone a little further. But getting the pack off and rinsing off in the lake which greeted us was nice, too!



Been a BUSY week since the hike. We are presenting on our Thailand trip at church tomorrow, and I spent many, many, many hours choosing and inputting over 200 photos into Powerpoint. We are desperate to organize things at home a bit. After breaking a vertebrae part-way through last summer, changing jobs a year ago, and then having septic "renovations" this year, the yard, gardens, and house are in some chaos. I thought working half time would mean lots of accomplishment at home...but so far I keep spending those days off preparing for trips and presentations, cleaning, "researching" and taking care of personal business, socializing, etc. It's also time for that home study update we've been postponing since choosing Ethiopia. Not going to get any further with this adoption business with an outdated dossier and homestudy. Still trying to come up with a final and concrete decision around our age and sibling request, but I think we're getting there. Will be nice to have things settled again for a while (as settled as it gets in adoption, anyway).

Monday, 14 June 2010

Theory, Reality, and Acceptable Risk

Having some deep thoughts here.

When signing up to adopt a healthy infant through international adoption, I wonder to what extent adoptive parents REALLY consciously consider the unknowns and say "yes" to those possibilities. You know, anything from attachment issues to genetic/organic developmental delays which might not be immediately apparent, to unknown biological family mental health histories which could surface in our children. I suppose anyone who has a child, no matter how that happens, is saying "yes" to some of those risks, and to others, and hopefully in a conscious way. Generally, is it that we hope for the best, and figure we will cope with the worst if it happens? I suspect that it is really difficult to dig deeply into ourselves in regard to these issues and questions when everything is so hypothetical - "if" and "when" we eventually adopt we will "hopefully" and "most likely" have a healthy child, with no major surprises. At some level we (meaning we adoptive parents) must know that we could eventually be living with some pretty serious stuff, or at least some stuff we had not ever pictured ourselves living.

In international adoption, things are complicated in part due to the possibility of very limited family and developmental history, and the inability to meet and interact with a child before adoption decisions are finalized. And, so far we have said "yes" to all that. All those unknowns. And maybe it is somehow comforting to know that "what will be will be" - We signed up, but after that, the matching - with the little person or people who end up becoming our children - is out of our hands. We can only trust that an appropriate match is made based on the information available.

But what about when something shows up in a referral (or domestically, as more information is gathered about a proposed child, or one identified through a photolisting) that is a little (or a lot) outside of our initial scope, based on what we felt comfortable with, or how we pictured our child?

How do parents decide their "actual" limit when faced with a scenario involving a specific child - one whose face and identity are known, and who has been identified as a possible match? What then?

I really do believe that to adopt, parents must recognize and be OK with unknowns, and with various issues that reflect where our children have come from so far. But that's relatively easy to do in theory. Reality, however, may be different. In theory, to say that your child "could" end up with a lifelong developmental disability, or conduct issues, or a mental illness - that is one thing. When something is flagged with a specific child, that gets complicated. What if the child has lots of qualities and characteristics you like, but also presents with an issue you really never would have actively sought? Does that automatically mean the opportunity should be passed over? I doubt it...but I am sure that deciding where your limits actually lie could be a pretty tricky thing.

On one hand, stretching original boundaries could be totally appropriate, if you spend time working through thoughts and feelings, and any tweaking of your concept of child and parent, family and future, and realize that you are comfortable moving forward. In life, I fully believe that we sometimes need a bit of a push outside our self-imposed limits to experience things we would never have chosen on our own.

On the other hand, you are still making a theoretical decision. You have no way of knowing how you will actually feel, or what life will actually be like, if you move forward with this child. You don't want to end up resenting that you stretched your original boundaries. You don't want to be caught up in a moment, perhaps not wanting to let this match go because there are things that seem good or appealing about the child, or because you don't want to say "no" and let others down, or because you feel selfish saying that you really don't want to take on this unexpected issue (it's not you, dear child, it's me, the self-centred adult that I am who wants a "perfect" son or daughter according to my pre-conceived definition), or because you have some idea that this is your "chance" to become a family, and don't want to let it go.

When the illusion of the ideal child fades in the light of reality - even if that reality is still just on paper - and you realize this is a real child with real issues, how do you discern which issues are OK, and which are legitimate reasons to close the door and move on? You don't have to say "yes" when theory becomes reality. But you don't want to say "no" flippantly, either. What if that controlling, instigating behaviour isn't at the core of a child otherwise described as kind and polite and thoughtful, and can be overcome? But what if it is...what if it is so rooted that there will be more and bigger issues...? What if the developmental delays are life-long, and will impact education and career planning...but what if they're not? What if you say "no" to a wonderful child who would do really well in your family, or "yes" to a child whose troubles overshadow them and your family in painful and difficult ways? What is acceptable risk, and how do parents make that call?

Over to you...

Friday, 4 June 2010

Pick Me!

One of the things I hadn't really thought about, having gone the route of international adoption, is the whole idea in domestic situations (including at least some public adoption scenarios), of the "Profile" - which it looks like we will need to be doing if we step further into this new territory.

I think it's much less stressful to let others write homestudies and reference letters, trusting they've done their best to paint a truthful, compelling picture of us, than to come up with something ourselves. So much pressure! Thinking that the photos and words we choose can directly impact someone's decision to consider us or not! Makes me feel a bit queasy. Even more queasy than the thought of social workers meeting my two, barking hounds at the door. "Really, they're friendly...look at all these pictures of them resting quietly and hanging out with people"

One thing I liked about sticking with the same international adoption program and process was that the uncomfortable stuff - meetings, visits, etc. - was all over. All except the outdated medical forms, which need to be re-done no matter what, which are on the agenda for next week. Guess 'tis the price to be paid for expanding opportunities.

Now, I'm off to sift through hundreds of photos for just the right ones (you know, enough variety to tell a story, but not an overwhelming amount), and come up with the right blend of sincere (but not sappy), enthusiastic (yet not alarmingly so), creative (but balanced...not misleading..."look at all those daily fun adventures!..."), engaging (but not pushy...just trying to be ourselves...but not boring either), comprehensive (but also concise...not my forte), inspired written content to go along with the pictures. But first, an energizing snack, and maybe a nap.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Retreat, Renew, Resume


Ah, the campground. Our summer retreat. Last year was our first experience having a seasonal site to visit whenever we wanted, and it was lovely. I had just made the transition to part-time work, which made weekends away a nice break, rather than a source of increased stress being away all the time. I had a couple of days off at home, then a couple at the campground. Geoff, while working full-time, loves this as a way of making the most of down time, and really relaxing. Home, sadly, is a hard place to relax. Ok, I can do it (although often with some guilt about all the tasks and projects I can see vying for my attention), but Geoff is a busy type, not one to while away the time at home when there is work to be done. So, we hit the campground, even if just for a quick Friday night through Saturday visit (during May-June and September-October we feel pretty committed to being at church every week - July-August we give ourselves permission for more full weekends away, and we can attend church at camp if we get ourselves up and ready, which is a cozy, rustic experience taking place in a large shed-like building). Anyway, bottom line is that we have been making good use of our trailer!

Retreat is important, isn't it? That mental and physical space, removed from everyday chores and "to do" lists. The time to read, talk, reflect, and focus. We have had some worthwhile adoption-related discussion and reading on these weekends in addition to leisure time and (mostly satisfying) outdoor projects on our camp-site. While I'm not sure I feel great about being so undecided about our adoption plans for the past many months, we do seem to be united in our indecision. Hmm. Trying to see the up-side!

Anyway, we have talked about lots of options and possibilities, and we are both of two minds at the moment. One is that we are still committed to our Africa adoption goal. The other is that, after living so much uncertainty with international adoption programs, we may not want to be quite so exclusive in our adoption process at this time. So, we have been tip-toeing into learning about things like public domestic adoption. We are currently in a more specific exploration/decision-making/waiting process in that regard. Lots to discover, ask, etc. Not wanting to make any unnecessary changes or rush any decisions along the way, but wanting timely responses and information to know whether, or whether not, to move along with anything new. Other options can still be long and complicated as well, so patience and fortitude are still necessary! And...along with progress, or potential progress, I see signs of distraction, nuisance obstacles - nothing big so far, but those little things that creep up to get in the way of clarity, peace, and even pleasure in the process. At least, I suppose, I am starting to recognize the pattern, and to expect it. Hopefully that makes it easier to more effectively respond to the distractions and set-backs as they come.

After 2.5 years+, three countries, and various updates along the way, we are doing more thinking than we did before starting out. Things seemed so simple - do a homestudy, sign up, and wait for a referral. Some of the reflecting I have done recently has lead me to realize that our early dive into adoption, while sincere and based on a true commitment to adoption, was perhaps also romanticized, limited in scope and possibility, and certainly somewhat naive. Through the waiting and change, we have been able to examine our adoption motives, interests, and decisions more critically. I really believe that whatever route we take from now on (even if little changes in fact and detail) will be more intentional, better-informed, and more reflective of who we are, and why we chose this journey toward family, deep down, in the first place. And that will ensure our adoption, when it happens, takes into account everything that is important to us and the reasons why we are doing this. Perhaps more on that in another post - but I am referring to issues like choosing an age range, choosing a country, identifying particular "special needs" we are and are not comfortable considering - so many things we didn't know about or consider when we started out, but which could lead us to a more exciting and fulfilling conclusion, again, if only because we are more certain and intentional about what we are doing.

So, currently, here are our hopes and prayers:

  • Patience and peace for the waiting, even savouring the moment, realizing that at some point things may change quickly - just letting each day come and go as it will.
  • Timely responses - yes, we want to be patient while waiting, but it would be lovely if there are a minimum of unnecessary delays in information-gathering, communicating, decision-making, etc., from this point forward
  • Logistics - we cannot possibly predict or strategize how pieces of our puzzle will come together. One factor impacts another, and we have to allow the unknown domino effects to happen as they will, also hoping and praying that details and situations come together in workable and lovely ways
  • For the "right" to prevail - for obstacles or distractions to be powerless to inhibit what "should" be, or to prevent enthusiasm, hope, and clarity of purpose
  • Wisdom and discernment, in asking good questions, and in considering what is the path to travel at this time - to understand that which we need to learn/sense/hear, and to invest our energy and time where it will be best used - what to read, what options to delve into further, what to discuss, who to consult with...
  • Acceptance of this process, and of the knowledge that we really can't predict where things are headed (as we have seen over the past 2.5+ years) - and then resting in that as contentedly as possible, with expectation

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are those who wait for Him.

Isaiah 30:18

Friday, 28 May 2010

Glimpses

Sorry, this won't be very informative...in fact, it may simply be confusing (which kinda reflects our thought process, so fair enough).

Not much to say, but there may be a little hint of movement in our epic decision-making journey...

Had an interesting chat today.

Seems that as soon as we started challenging ourselves about our adoption plans to date, we became open to so many decisions, possibilities, avenues...and it all got very confusing. When considering one idea, we have then been faced with all the other potential, hypothetical consequences (good, bad, and neutral). Trying to play out various scenarios, and weigh various desires and interests, almost always takes us in circles. Sometimes it seems pointless (and certainly, over-thinking things is not helpful), but letting the mind linger here and there can, I think, help sort out what is MOST important and desirable, deep down.

Tricky though, since what is deepest and truest in our desires and motives often seems most intangible, revealed in fleeting sensations, or broad perspectives that just maybe tell us something about ourselves.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Siblings

Right now, I am feeling thankful that we have not updated our homestudy to reflect our country switch to Ethiopia. If we had done so, we might soon be doing so again.

I suppose, in all the "not knowing what to do" of recent days, that the one thing we are perhaps doing, which needed/needs to be done, is sitting still and waiting. I have been feeling that doing the paperwork for the country switch was not yet necessary (despite also fearing that I would let a decade go by without doing anything...and watching my life pass by in blandness for lack of action). Today we received an email from our agency outlining the pattern of sibling referrals since restructuring, and providing a bit of history regarding sibling referrals pre-bankruptcy. The numbers are not encouraging.

This means we need to consider a few things - like whether we will continue to request siblings (which we really want to do), whether we want to increase our age request (which we have been considering very seriously - not just in response to a slow wait, which would be a poor motivation for making such a change), whether there are certain "special needs" with which we are comfortable (sometimes medical conditions which can be easily managed or corrected here), and so on.

The agency cannot predict or explain referral trends in regard to child referrals, but the pattern in their experience with the Ethiopia program has been very few available siblings, particularly babies and young toddlers.

If this had been a complete surprise, I would likely be more troubled right now. As it is, we have been watching nothing happen in regard to sibling referrals, and have been wondering what our adoption process will look like, so it is simply confirmation that there is a bit of an issue.

Good thing I'm already wearing my thinking cap.

Who Am I? On Naming, and Being Named

MIDDLE NAME GAME:


- What’s your middle name?

- “Joy”

- No, your middle name.

- “Joy”

- You’re Joy Joy? (I will refrain from commenting further on this..and yes, it actually happens)

- “No, Joy is my middle name” (stated clearly and patiently)

- Then, what’s your first name?

- “Catherine”

- Weird, I never knew your real name was Catherine! (Variation: Wow, so you’re really a Catherine! – or, worse yet - So, Joy isn’t your real name?)


And yes, I do let the conversation run like that, rather than helping people out right from the start even if I can see where things are headed. I like to know what type of person I am dealing with :)


Allow me to introduce myself: I am Catherine Joy.


Sorry, should I have told you to sit down first? Well, after dusting yourself off, and planting yourself somewhere safe, feel free to continue reading about the fascinating issue of “going by your middle name.”


After reading a bit of adoption board discussion around naming and re-naming children, I decided to do a little “research” to see what I could find about using middle names in everyday life (to clarify, the adoption discussion is not what I am responding to – that was simply interesting – I am moving away from that friendly & innocent chat, into my own off-shoot, in which I may have some stronger sentiments to express).


THE CULTURAL GAP:


I have always been amazed that some people truly don’t seem to have been exposed to others who “go by” their middle names. And I have generally been mildly amused by people’s responses when they learn my big secret. But I am beginning to realize there is a much deeper cultural system involved. That I am part of a sub-culture - a cultural minority – and that I actually cannot grasp the meaning of this phenomenon to people in the majority culture (e.g., those who go by their first names, particularly those who have little/no exposure to people who go by their middle names).


It makes me wonder: did I miss the mandatory pre-kindergarten class where everyone except me learned that first names are “real” names, and middle names are…fake…or that people who go by middle names are like some sort of fantasy creature come to life…something you can’t possibly be prepared for, so there will be no way to mask your confusion and surprise if and when you actually meet someone like this?


Maybe while everyone else took that class, I was in the “How Not to Act Shocked or Uninformed When You Are Exposed to Something Different Than Your Own Personal Experience” session.


I have actually enjoyed going by my middle name. I don’t mind being a bit “different’ (although am sometimes surprised by how “different” some seem to think I am as a result of this name business). During name discussions, I often begin to sense that I am interacting with someone whose cultural experience is very different than mine. Folks who seem totally comfortable with the fact that they are surprised, and even confused by my name situation – as if I am the strange one. I, on the other hand, feel a mixture of embarrassment toward the OTHER person for their apparent simplicity of mind (sorry, kind of), and mild annoyance at their seeming inability to grasp something so…clear.


THE TRUTH, AS I SEE IT:


Most of us have two given names (some more, some less). I simply grew up knowing that, and knowing that a person was generally called by one name or the other. I don’t recall being surprised even to learn that some people go by neither – perhaps some variation or traditional alternative to one of their given names, which is not always a direct short form – the John who is called “Jack” scenario, for instance). These truths are just part of my experience.


PERSPECTIVES ON USING THE MIDDLE NAME:


This so-called research was not exhaustive, but a few forums, including an extended discussion at babycenter.com seem to capture the primary perspectives and opinions I found online regarding the use of middle names in everyday life.


I Don’t Get It


“I know of a few girls my age whose first name by law is Mary, but they use their middle name as their first name. I was just wondering if anyone here knows the tradition behind this? I understand it could be a family namesake, and they use their middle name so as not to confuse family members. Or is it because they don’t really like their first name and choose to go by their middle name.”


Comment: I need to point out that both the first and middle names are lawful, if they are on the birth certificate (and they are both “real” – just as adoptive parents are “real” parents…just had to throw that one in there). One does not generally use a middle name by actually calling it a first name (unless filling out a form which does not require a full legal name, perhaps, and just putting the “called by” name in the first name space). The middle name is a middle name. One may go by either the first or middle name – going by the middle name does not have to be considered using it as a “first” name. And in regard to why people go by middle names…there’s not really any big mystery, and there is more than one explanation. I could ask, “Why do people usually go by their first names? Is there some rule about that in their culture or family? Do they hate their middle names? Was the name order given on purpose? Have they always used their first names?”


“Funny…in class…the professor was calling role and got to Megan, and she said she goes by Paige. I was like, how…do you get Paige from Megan? [Now I realize] Maybe it’s a middle name.”


Comment: Um, yes. Perhaps it is. You really didn’t consider that possibility until stumbling upon a middle name discussion?


“I was shocked to learn that one of my oldest and dearest friends from childhood (Sam) is actually James. I laughed so hard because I couldn’t believe that I knew someone for so long and had no idea that they had a different name!”

Comment: Keeping my mouth shut.

What a Pain


Blech, not my style at all. I mean, really? What’s the point in setting up your kid for a hassle their entire lives?”


Comment: I have never felt “set up” or “hassled” and…”blech”??? Is it yucky to use a middle name?


“Don’t do it!!!!!!!!! I go by my middle name and it’s a total pain, especially now that everything is computerized.”

Comment: I am sorry that something like this is so stressful.

“I hate when I go somewhere, like the doctor’s office, and my insurance card doesn’t match my file and I eventually have to go into this long story [about my grandmother and mother’s names, and the pattern of names in my family]…”

Comment: Then don’t go into a long story. I automatically provide both names when I introduce myself at appointments, simply explaining that my record may have one, the other, or both. And if I am called by my first name, I either go along with it (which is interesting, knowing this person thinks of you by a name you don’t normally go by), or quickly clarify that I use my middle name. On forms requiring both names, I circle my middle name as a cue. I actually have more trouble with my hyphenated last name than my first/middle name situation. Now that is another discussion altogether…my last name starts with the letter of the name before the hyphen…not so tricky. The name before the hyphen actually counts. Moving on…

No Big Deal


“My older brother goes by his middle name. He always has. As far as I know it just mildly shocks people when they find out. It hasn’t ever caused him any issues.”


Comment: True…and it is mildly amusing that people are so easily “mildly shocked.”


“I teach school and there are always at least two kids each year who go by their middle names…it’s not a big deal to me.”


“My youngest daughter does by her middle name, but it wasn’t something we planned at all. Her given name is Caroline Margaret, with Margaret being after my grandmother. My grandmother died shortly after my daughter was born and we just sort of started calling her Margaret and now she will tell us adamantly that her name is Margaret, not Caroline.”


“It hasn’t really been an issue…the first time we go to classes, preschool, or doctors, we have to tell them to make a note, which isn’t a huge deal.”


“My husband does by his middle name and always has. He signs documents “John T.” but goes by Tom. It hasn’t caused any real problems, and most people don’t even know he goes by his middle name.”


Comment: And I just sign using my first initial and full middle name along with my last name (pre-hyphen last name included…because it is a real name, too – just look at my ID).


“I have always gone by my middle name, and my daughter goes by her middle name. And if our next one is a boy, he will go by his middle name. Why? Well, my mother wanted to name me after my grandmother but not call me by that name, and the names just sounded better with “Susan” (the name I go by) in the middle. And if it were such a hassle would I have done it to my daughter? No, I would not. We named our daughter after out two grandmothers, one of whom is Ann. We thought that name was a little too common for our taste, so we call her by the other grandmother’s name, but Ann just sounds better first.”


“It is only mildly confusing when you’re, say, getting a prescription filled or on the first day of school. Other than that, the people who know you call you by the name you go by, and it’s very easy to tell when a telemarketer who’s just pretending to know you is on the phone!”


“My daughter goes by her middle name and I don’t think it is at all confusing or a hassle. She uses first and middle names on medical stuff but everyone should do that anyway. A few people call her by her first name and she knows what it is so she answers. At school, it has her first and middle names, but most teachers know her by her middle name before she gets to the class, but she can always tell them she goes by her middle name. I just don’t see where it would be confusing or a hassle. I’ve taught for over 10 years about 100 kids per year and about ¼ of them go by their middle name or a short version of their first name.”


“My husband and I are both prime examples of going by our middle names. We are both named after our parents and it has always been easier for us to go by our middle names instead of the first names our parents go by. I don’t find this strange or weird. And never have I had an issue of confusion.”


Comment: Thank you.


“They are BOTH her names and I imagine if she likes using her middle name as the name to address her as she gets older, she’ll want to stick with it. I don’t know why it would cause confusion since it’s part of her full name.”


Comment: Yes, yes, and yes!


SUMMARY & CONCLUSION:


Could I have been doing something more productive with my day than organizing this long blog post? Yes.


RECOMMENDATIONS:


Please teach your children that there are many ways of naming and using names. Even if they go by their first names, if properly informed, they will appear very smart when they meet people who use their middle names, and may make new friends from a different name culture! Better yet, call your children by their middle names – we’re pretty cool people :)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Never a Dull Monday...Especially When Septic Renos Are Involved

Monday could usually win worst day of the week award in my book. Dull would normally describe it to a "T"

I find them long, tedious, and emotionally draining. Every fibre of my being resists being back to work (yes, even in my "good" job - really have no reason to complain - either hit the road to visit clients, or sit at home in sweats while working on reports or the millions of miscellaneous 5-minute tasks which eventually manage to equal 7.5 hours...), "trapped" at my computer, fighting a day-long urge to do anything other than job-related activities. 7.5 hours typically takes more like 8 or 9, once I add up time spent taking mini-breaks, getting food, letting dogs in & out, etc. And getting an early start is not really something with which I am familiar. While it is usually a bit stressful late on a Monday afternoon, I am thankful that we have been heading out for dance lessons around 6:00pm, because I need that deadline. (And yes, it is just Monday - Tuesdays, and my typical half-day Wednesdays are not so bad, but Mondays have resulted in full-blown existential crises on more than one occasion). I don't even have to work Monday, really, but the thought of Thursday & Friday off at the end of the week keeps me motivated enough to slog through.

Anyway...today was not a typical Monday.

I ended up working a couple of extra hours last week, and have a full Tuesday & Wednesday ahead, so really only had to work a half day (less, actually, given the extra hours to my credit). Turns out this created an ideal scenario, since I had a call at 7:15am (yucky) from our contractor friend, saying he'd be here around 8:00am with the guy doing our septic bed re-build. Ok...so be it. Squeezed in another 45 minutes of sleep (yeah, I'm that bad in the mornings), and got up just before the dogs sounded the alarm that people were in the back yard. So, between getting some work done (ended up fitting in over 5 hours somehow), chatting with contractors, paying septic pump-out guy, accepting a work-related delivery, refereeing dog interactions (contractor friend brought his young basset along for the day - and all three dogs have been a little disgrunted being inside most of the time, and, my two didn't warm up to Sydney as quickly today, being out of sorts with all the commotion), cleaning up after guest dog (managed both bowel & bladder functions, plus vomit, all in the house...but she is cute), photographing the transformation of my back yard for the renovation visual history books, it has been quite a day.

The backhoe is still hard at work, and Geoff is out there with the team, so looks like we'll be skipping dance tonight. One interesting side-effect of this septic project (building a new weeping bed in a new location - from the side, near the tank, to the very back centre of the yard) is that we now have to re-build the entire back yard lawn. Ok, it has never really been the best lawn around - bumpy and weedy. Sadly, though, the parts dug up today were the sunniest, and therefore grassiest areas we had. Mixed feelings about that one. We're cheap when it comes to lawn maintenance - if it's relatively green, it can be bumpy and weedy - there are other projects I find much more exciting. But I can probably get into the idea of this (especially if we do a package landscaping reno and fix up the flower beds with rock and whatnot, like I've been wanting to do).

Which reminds me - if anyone has great ideas for super low-maintenance but striking gardens, feel free to share! I originally had romantic notions of cottage-style gardens, and have realized my taste is for something a little more crisp and clean in my own yard. This is after nearly a decade here, with over-zealous and fairly random planting of a little bit of everything without a particular plan (other than the actual outline of the gardens). Thinking river rock and ornamental grasses - kind of Zen, but suited to an older, Craftsman-style house. I think it will work...really. Especially if I admit that garden design may not be my greatest gift in life (sad, but true) and partner with a professional.

All right, off to finish up one or two little work tasks, and call it a (Mon)day.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

All Over the Map

That's me.

My body is going through the usual routines of daily life, but my mind is flitting about everywhere.

Since getting back from Thailand, my brain has very seriously taken up my more general idea of re-focusing on the adoption plan , and seems to be running on overdrive. Re-focusing on the adoption involves considering when to update our documents for Ethiopia (fingerprints and medicals have expired, and a few things need to be re-done for Ethiopia rather than Ghana, having a homestudy update to do the country switch to Ethiopia, deciding whether to make any significant changes to our child request (ages, etc.), working on toning down the hounds' enthusiasm when people come to the house (before the homestudy update visit, preferably), and so on.

This has, of course, led to more existential musing on my philosophy of adoption, why we have chosen international, why we decided on such a narrow age range, what our whole motivations are for doing this in the first place, and on, and on, and on. Having floundered in programs which never worked out, and then having waited for agency re-structuring (only to find ourselves deep, down in a long sibling list which is moving much more slowly than a snail), it is likely not a bad idea to re-visit our situation. All that time with nothing happening has resulted in a sense of unreality - and a lost sense of direction. Everything just came together so well in the beginning, from discovery of the agency to the opening of a program which seemed great for us - we felt very confident of the path we had chosen. Not so sure what we feel right now, and all the thinking, thinking, thinking doesn't really amount to much. Well, it does - I think it amounts to more confusion. But it also seems that if we don't think and talk and think and talk, that we will end up being in the same spot a decade from now - nothing any clearer, and nothing happening.

The decision-making process is tricky - What do we want? Is what we "maybe" want in line with what we "should" do? Is there such a thing as "should" do, or is the answer just "do something" as long as it is a good and right thing to do (but I want to feel that there is THE right thing for us...so much simpler that way...maybe, but maybe not)? If we do "a" then what happens with "b"? If we choose "c" will we regret not picking "a"? What about timing? When to sit back and wait, and when to act (both have their place, but how to know)?

There, that's basically a peek inside my head these days.

Wish I was the type to dive into tangible, productive projects (at least I would be getting some sewing or organizing or gardening done in that case) in the midst of this murky kind of situation, but no, actually attempting to DO things makes my brain protest with more meddlesome thoughts and distractions.

In other news (because my head is starting to spin typing about my thinking process), our campground opened on the weekend, and we squeezed in a very quick one-nighter (have ended up with lots of Saturday afternoon commitments in May/June, which makes camping kinda tricky). No mice, no water issues, overall things look good, and we are really looking forward to 5.5 months of get-aways. Just have to tell everyone to host their Saturday events at the campground...

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Isaiah 58

Here is the way I want you to fast:

Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.
Share your food with hungry people.
Provide homeless people with a place to stay.
Give naked people clothes to wear.
Provide for the needs of your own family.

Then the light of my blessing will shine on you like the rising sun.
I will heal you quickly.
I will march out ahead of you.
And my glory will follow behind you and guard you.
That is because I always do what is right.

You will call out to me for help.
And I will answer you.
You will cry out.
And I will say, 'Here I am.'

Get rid of the chains you use to hold others down.
Stop pointing your finger at others as if they had done something wrong.
Stop saying harmful things about them.
Work hard to feed hungry people.
Satisfy the needs of those who are crushed.

Then my blessing will light up your darkness.
And the night of your suffering will become as bright as the noonday sun.

I will always guide you.
I will satisfy your needs in a land that is baked by the sun.
I will make you stronger.
You will be like a garden that has plenty of water.
You will be like a spring whose water never runs dry.
Your people will rebuild the cities that were destroyed long ago.
And you will build again on the old foundations.
You will be called The One Who Repairs Broken Walls.
You will be called The One Who Makes City Streets Like New Again.