Monday, May 30, 2011

Kenya - filtering the info.

Well I guess it would be apropo that information is not that easy to come by. Try and google for "Kenya Adoption Blog" - nada. The information I can find is from Expat's living in Nairobi, but not from adopters.

What I do know is this - The Kenyan Central Authority requires you to foster the child for 3 months in Nairobi before you can go to court. The paper work wrangling is something like this. (Please don't quote me, I am just basing this off the info I have managed to compile so far.) Compiling the dossier will take about a month, then it is sent to Kenya where it will take a month to be assessed. It will take another month for them to get back to you with a verdict if you qualify or not. 3 months so far. Then, you wait for a referral. I am told the average wait is 4 months. 7 months in now. Once you receive the referral, you will have 3 months to move to Nairobi... which could technically put us there in Feb. Three months of fostering, and then court is said to take a few months, and then the wait for the visa. (8-9 months in Nairobi). Estimated completion would be Oct- Nov 2012.

Two things scare me so far. 1. Elections in Kenya are in Aug 2012. The 2007 post elections were violent.
2. Nairobi is not the "Africa" you think it is. It is a city of 3 million people!! Said to be safe for a city it's size - but seriously people, can you honestly imagine little small town girl me living in a huge city? I wouldn't live in Calgary, and it has a population of 1 million. I prefer to not lock my doors at night... I am not a public transport person - and I am paranoid to allow my children play in a city park. (Imagine me out scanning for needles!) So - this would be a HUGE adjustment for me and my personal sense of safety. Can I not go live in a grass hut and tend to the chickens? The answer is no. Apparently, we need to live close to the lawyers, courts etc... I don't think you can find a fax machine in a grass hut. I told Dan we will need to have a weekend house in the country so I can exhale at least once a week. Ha!

Dan is really pumped about this. I am not getting my hopes yet until I get every last piece of info gathered and I can realistically comprehend if this is possible. Until then - I will leave with some photos of the many different sides of Kenya.

**EDIT - update on the process here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The calling...

What do you get when you cross Oprah with Vilele...?  You get an unsettling of my heart. Dagnabit!
I can't say that I have ever felt this way about something... and I thought I could snuff it out or settle it with an adoption from the US. And it worked - for a while.

It started at the beginning of this week, when Muffin sprang the news on me that she needed to bring a shoebox of gifts for a child in Slave Lake. Well, thank goodness I prepare my African shoebox's throughout the year as I come across sales. So out of the closet I pull a shoebox that has been lovingly filled with a little boys T-shirt, a box of crayons, a lego automatic car, a race car, a ball and a stuffed bear. On my way to school with the kids, they were asking why the children in Slave Lake need these items. I explained to them about the fires and how they had lost everything. However, I just couldn't help but feeling that they were okay and they would be well looked after. They still had hope and are so very fortunate to be in such a great country. One where friends, family and the government will rally around you and pick you back up. Are those children doing without? Certainly not. I started to feel as though I took from a child that was in greater need of these items - and it still doesn't well with me. The children of Africa to which these gifts were destined to - may have never held a dinky car in their hand before. These are children that have a very bleak future and a there is a good chance they will not survive past the age of 5. They will likely never have the opportunity to sit in a desk, let alone draw a picture with crayons. They are children who don't know how to be children, when at the age of 2 they are already an integral part of the family chore schedule. THESE are the children who are really in need. Then insert the correlation between that shoebox and our adoption! I tried hard not to acknowledge those feelings...

A couple days later - Oprah airs her last show. If you saw it, you will understand how it made me feel unsettled. Am I listening? Do I hear?... and am I answering my calling? Am I doing what I was put on this earth to do? And then little Vilele stole my heart... and I knew that even if we do adopt from the US, my heart will not be still. Adoption from the US will be a little detour from the path, the path of which I will eventually have to decide to take or not. I have this incredible desire and need to help in Africa. No, I have never been there. I am scared to death of how it will impact me, how I will no longer be the same person. I know I will forever be changed, and I'm scared of the unknowns that encompass that. I am afraid that I will no longer be able to enjoy a nice glass of wine on the patio without the thought of have many children could have been saved from malaria with that money - plaguing my mind! But yet... I'm being pulled there and realize that I have been my entire life. It feels like a natural instinct... perhaps like how a goose would feel before he flies south for the winter? Only trouble is I have no one to lead the way! I don't want to make a wrong decision, and I need to think about our children.

So, in a last ditch attempt to give Africa another chance - I emailed Choices and Sunrise and asked them if there was an update on Africa. I was given a no... but we could accept you right away for Kenya from Sunrise, and Choices said Sunrise has a Kenya program. I am really trying to be receptive now - so to me, this sounded like an avenue I should look into. Here are the details - for adoption in Kenya, you have to foster a child for 3 months before you go to court, once you pass court you must wait for the visa to be issued. The entire process takes about 8 months - FAST - But, you have to be living in Kenya for these 8 months!!
I nonchalantly said to my husband, as I read from my iphone - "Oh, there you go - do you want to go live in Kenya for 8 months and adopt a child from there?"
Totally not expecting a positive response, he said "Now your talking - that is how I foresee the path of our adoption!"

Well, as you can imagine, there were a million questions passed back and forth in the minutes that followed that question. Work, house, pets, his ailing Mother etc... etc... We concluded that as long as it was safe for the children, we would figure the rest out. We would have to sell some reality etc. to make it work - but it is possible.

I now await further details from the director of Sunrise... upon which I will post on my blog for anyone else who may be interested in a crazy adventure of a lifetime!
Kenya Map

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I just wanna scoop him up and run!

A little Wednesday pick me up - too cute not to share! Enjoy!!

"When Vilele and his brothers lost both their mother and father to AIDS, they became what is commonly described as a "child headed household". There are an estimated twelve million orphaned children like them living in Sub Saharan Africa.

Since our first encounter 2007, the SING Campaign has followed their story. And with help from SING and the Treatment Action Campaign, their lives have been been supported and changed for the better.

Watch the full story here:

One thing that stood out about little Vilele was his extraordinary talent for dancing.

At the time this film clip was made, he was only four years old."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring Backyard City Chicks...

We have 4 new additions to our menagerie! I know... our household just keeps getting crazier and crazier by the minute!!

Yes, we do live in town. But... we have a secret. A quarter of our back yard is CPR property. There used to be railway tracks right behind our house. Can you imagine? They have since turned this track into a walking/biking/skiing trail. However, this means that beyond our lot line... we don't have to follow town rules. So we can have an open fire pit... and chickens! We won't be keeping our neighbours awake with any roosters mind you! Hens only. We aren't the first to do this - many of the properties that border the town have chickens. In fact, I'm almost shocked that we aren't allowed to have a few backyard chickens in town here! This city is very crunchy and green.

So without further ado... I would like to introduce you to my personal favorite: Cotton.
Cotton is a pure bred Ameraucana chicken. She will lay green eggs! Cotton is very curious and adventurous. She is the least afraid of all the chicks. I love her for her fuzzy, fuzzy cheeks!

Next up is Missy. Missy is an Ameraucana mix. She has a gentle go with the flow personality and gets the pretty award. She always looks nicely groomed.

Then we have the funniest of the bunch. Ossy... which is short for Ostrich. This bird does not look like a chicken! It has a small head and a long neck. It's a noisy little thing too - I suspect it may be a rooster. Ossy is a Cuckoo Maran (we think) and should lay dark chocolate brown eggs if she is a she.

Last but not least, is the youngest of the bunch. May. May was born on Muffin's bday. She is a pure bred Ameraucana Bantie. She will be half the size of a standard chicken and should lay blue eggs. She is small and sweet.

May not only pooped during her photo shoot - but she got very vocal. Because she is the youngest and the smallest, she gets cold very easily. She was not happy, so we quickly had to put her back into the sauna cage.
They grow so fast... so we are enjoying the fuzzballs as much as possible. As you can imagine, the kids absolutely adore them!! I will post update photos as they grow... ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The birthday girl...

On Saturday my little Muffin (aka, Muffin Puffin, Muffioli, and at least 10 others) turned 8. 8 is huge for me. I don't know why, but 8 seems to be the turning point of "little girl" to all "grown up". She is now in her new room in the basement and she loves it. She loves her independence and privacy and more than anything, she likes to feel grown up. She has always been like this! Maybe it's a girl thing...

A bit about our dear Muffin... ( who actually does have a real name - but for the blogging world, we use her nickname)

From the time she was born, she has had no fear and a sense of adventure. She has also always been a monkey - good thing she has always had the balance to back it up! When she was 14 months old she insisted on riding her wooden rocking horse standing up. We had a slate tile floor - she used to scare the crap out of me! But... the more worked up I got, the funnier she thought it was... and kept doing it not only more, but faster as well. So I finally gave up and thought she will quit when she falls... but, she never fell!

Muffin was early at everything, while it seemed normal to me at the time, I can now revel in the amazement of it. She was saying 2 words sentences at 9 months! Yes... at nine months! She would say "Hi Baby" (that's what she called me, cause that's what I called Bye bye, Hi Puppy etc.. I think signing at an early age helped her talk early.
At 14 months she could work the VCR by herself. When I would have a shower, I could instruct her to put a baby Einstein video in and she would.
At 18 months, she new all of her shapes including octagons, trapezoids and parallelograms.
By the age of 2 she was ready for kindergarten! She knew all of her ABC's, 123's etc...
She was reading chapter books at kindergarten and is now testing at a grade level 4 instead of 2.

Muffin is not only gifted academically, but her coordination, balance and strength has always been advanced as well. She is that kid in school that you envy - you know the one that seems to be able to do everything perfectly, even when they have never done it before? She excels at gymnastic which is her main sport... but whenever I put her in anything else - the teachers are shocked by her ability. They all want her full time, and it really makes it difficult. Her TaeKwonDo teacher is amazed at her.. and in fact she just won a squatting competition there a couple weeks ago... out of over 100 kids up to age 15! She just started soccer this spring and her footwork is incredible.. she plays with third yr players, and she is easily one of the best players after only 2 practices! She just had a horse riding lesson... the instructor was again amazed, she says she has 9 and 10 yr olds who have been riding for a long time that still can't apply enough leg/foot pressure to make the horse turn. She also was shocked at how natural horse riding came to her - so she allowed her to trot on her first lesson, which she says she never does! I could go on... but I really don't want this to be a brag blog - which I really am not intending to do - it's just who she is. It's sickening really! lol.

Muffin as a person - she is very nurturing and mothering. This comes natural to her. She also has a keen sense of empathy... and is compelled to help the underdog. She always strives to make sure everyone is included and happy. Equally though.. she can be a bit of a softy, and her feelings do get hurt. She has a great sense of humour and loves to live on the wild side. She is not afraid to try anything... whether it be food, or a new activity. She loves to dance, sing and act crazy... she's got a fair bit of energy to go around!

She is a happy little girl that loves life to the fullest!

Happy Birthday my darling angel!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Schedule me outta here!

Those with school aged children know that the first 2 weeks in May is a scheduling nightmare! All of their winter activities are just ending and the spring/summer activities are just starting. Why they merge these together is beyond me! Last Friday we had Mass to attend because Mister's class was hosting... then we had a skating show rehearsal (which I volunteered for)... then we had to rush off to movie night at the school (which I also volunteered for). Saturday am. we had a Mother's day brunch at the senior's home with Dan's parents, 2 soccer games and then the skating show (which I was volunteering for again). It was a whirlwind.

Mister is in Green - this is boys figure skating - hockey style.
This week has shapen up to be even worse... We were slow on the draw to plan Muffin's bday party, so we decided on a friends and family BBQ on her bday (14th). Thurs. Mister has soccer, Muffin has gymnastics. Then Sat... not only is it Muffin's bday, but she has Soccer pictures and 2 games. Mister has pictures and one game. They all happen at different times of course. Then Muffin has booked a horse riding lesson in the middle of it all... and then we found out that her friend across the street who's bday is on the 13th - is celebrating on Saturday with a kids party followed by an adult BBQ. Geesh.. Muffin of course doesn't want to miss her bday, but also wants her to attend her birthday party. Moving her bday to the Sunday is not something she is interested in. Just chaos with no right answer. So, we decided to make her situation a bit brighter by booking at a pedicure for her and Mommy (Mother's day gift) at 4pm... and I have decided to check out and leave the sorting out for Dan to do. Just kidding! While I am leaving town for a couple days to do some across the border shopping... I have simplified the schedule a little. I moved the horseback riding to Sunday so they can attend all of their soccer commitments. They may or may not have time to attend her friend's party after this time - which is okay either way, as Mister has said he's not interested in attending a girl's party. Muffin still wants to go and is feeling a bit down about not having the day to herself with all of these other commitments, but such is life! So, I am in the midst of adding some more highlights to her day... there will not be a homemade cake, or a big dinner - but I am arranging a trip to a farm Sat. eve to pick up a couple chicks which she will be able to raise. I think that will be much more exciting and memorable for her than a bday party. Well.. it will be a bday party.. just Thompson family style!

Have a wonderful weekend... I'm off till Sat! (Hoping to locate my sanity - ha!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

KODA is the CUTEST dog!

To my complete surprise... Koda won the KBS Cutest Pet Contest!

Thank you to all that voted! We will pick up our prize on Thurs, but rumour has it that there is a $500 gift certificate for dog sitting, a free bag of food, a vet certificate etc... Which couldn't come in any more handy, as we have run right out of dog food yesterday... and have just bought can food till payday roles around... and I have been delaying a vet visit for Mikha as well. So it is all needed and appreciated! Thank you!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all those Mom's with children home, or children in their hearts. I was hoping to share with you my gift, but sadly it did not arrive in the mail on Friday. :( -

What I would like to share with you though is a poem given to me by little Mister.

My Mom is Special!

My Mom likes to run with our dog, Koda.
My Mom is smart! She even knows how to make blankets!
My Mom looks prettiest in the morning. (Bless his heart - he obviously is not looking too closely!)
My Mom can do many things! I think she's best at working in the office.
If I could give my Mom something special, it would be a diamond ring.
Happy Mother's Day - Love (Mister) 6 yrs old

Thank you Mister - your Mommy's favorite lil Man! If I could bottle your sweetness... the world would be a much happier place! xoxo

I may have overheard some special plans being made for me tomorrow... some shopping has been done, and from what I understand... breakfast may be something pretty spectacular - planned by the children. I also believe I spied some crocuses that the Muffin had hidden in her back pack from school. I love that my children get so excited about Mother's Day... and I love that Dan entertains all their whims!

Have a great day Mamas! You deserve it!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Healthy (easy) snack - Cinnamon Chickpeas

This is a great healthy snack to make for your toddlers...  (And the older kids too!)

Cinnamon Chickpeas

Combine 2tsp sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp salt
Add 1 can of rinsed and drained chickpeas (or equivalent of prepared dried chickpeas).

Mix the first 3 ingredients, and add to the chickpeas. Toss until evenly coated.

Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes or until crunchy.

I personally like them on the crunchy side, but you can take them out sooner so they are softer for toddlers. These aren't as lipsmacking as roasted peanuts etc... but they are addictive! They are also packed full of protein and have all the healthy benefits of the cinnamon. Read here for 10 healthy benefits of cinnamon.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guess what I'm getting for Mother's Day....?

It's going to BE major!! The BEST gift ever... I can't wait!
Here is a hint... ;-D

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Green Series - Fluoride free natural toothpaste...

Remember my post on fluoridated toothpaste? Here.
Well I have a remedy for you! We have been testing a few natural toothpaste recipes and found Crunchy Betty to have the best one. If you are a Greeny - you may want to check out her blog - it's full of many great tips!

The ingredients required are the following:

- Coconut Oil 3 TBSP
- Baking Soda 3 TBSP
- Peppermint Essential Oil 30 drops
- Stevia 1 packet
- Vegetable Glycerin (optional) 2 tsp

For those who are not familiar with some of these ingredients... Coconut oil can now be found everywhere! I have even heard that Walmart in the US sells it! It is a fantastic oil to cook with, is great for your skin etc... (It really deserves a post of it's own!) Essential Oils should be found in the "natural" or organic section of your grocery store. If not, you can find them in natural health food stores. Stevia is natural sweeter - it is a herb, so it's healthy and safe. It can be found anywhere - check the baking isle. Vegetable Glycerin can also be found in your natural health food store.

Basically, you are going to mash the oil and the soda together like this.

Then add the remaining ingredients and mash until well blended. Initially, we first used spearmint - big mistake. It was not very good! Then we managed to locate some peppermint and made the next batch with it. So much better! In fact, I always catch my son in the jar... actually eating it! Gross - but I must say, his breath is always minty fresh! Ha!

You can put this in a baby jar like I did and then just dip your brush in... or, if you have a clean soap dispenser etc... you can use that as well. Just squirt it on your brush.

We now double this recipe, and as a family of four it lasts us about one month. It does a fantastic job at not only cleaning our teeth, but keeping our smiles white and minty fresh!

Go ahead - give it a try!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Adoption Warriors

We've all heard it, and from those who haven't "voiced" it, we have felt it from them.

"Why don't you just have one of your own?"
"Why would you want to take this on and risk disrupting your perfect family?"
"Why would you want a child that is not biologically your own?"

I have concluded that most ( if not all!) people around me have thought this way at some point or another. Because of this, I have been giving a great deal of thought to who adopts. If everyone felt this way, who would be there to scoop these orphans up and give them a loving family? Then it dawned on me - if many people did not struggle with infertility, most adopted children would never have been adopted. I read a report that said 94% of adoptive parents have struggled with infertility!

I have been surrounded by many articles, stories and discussions of infertility lately... and I do give it a lot of thought. What a terrible thing to have to experience... the pain, the frustration and the grief. I don't know what you all have gone through. I can try to imagine - but the truth is I won't even come close to knowing.  However, I feel for you deeply and I salute you. For if it weren't for you, many of the orphaned children in the world would have never known the warmth of a loving home! You were born with a purpose... and adoption ended up being the best choice for you! Not second - but best! I fully believe that more people would adopt if they had the knowledge of knowing what a wonderful gift adoption is. But you were forced into researching alternatives - you were forced to uncover that secret. You were blessed with your infertility... because without it, you would not have been blessed with your children, nor would they have been blessed with you! Thank you for struggling through these issues and coming out of it as adoption warriors!

(Who else adopts? Really, there does not seem to be a great deal of information on this. However, based on my experience, and from what I have viewed via blogs etc... I think the next largest group of adopters would be practising Christians whom have been touched by adoption through their church followed by single parents or same sex partners, then people like me who just feel it is the right thing to do. Yes, I am the minority here. Sometimes it makes it difficult to find a sense of belonging... but we just quietly lurk at the back of the room. ;)