Sunday, October 30, 2011

My baby turns 7!!

He is my scrunchy munchy... my pudding n' pie.

Oh how I love this child and never pass up the chance to just squeeze him. He has never grown out of the edible stage for me ... you know when you just want to bite into your child? Yes... that weird kind of love...

I love to slather him in kisses and tickle him all over. (One reason why he will likely be relieved for me to get a new baby to pester, I'm sure! Lol.)

This morning Mister said to me (as I was waking him up with kisses and tickles)... "Can I just have one minute of peace!?"

He is quiet, reserved and observant. Loving... and very caring. He has got to be the funniest 7 year old I know... so quick and witty!

Happy Birthday Mister Man!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Benefit #1 of adopting within the Kenya program

Is not having to watch your child age in the arms of an orphanage!

In most programs, you must wait for court (to be given legal custody of your child) and then you have to wait for their visa to be issued before you can bring them home. This typically takes 6 months. However, many programs have an extra step or 2 which can increase the wait. If there are any court closures, political changes etc or other bureaucratic hold up... this can severely increase wait times to up to 10 -12 months or more! This is all precious, extra time that your child has to spend in an orphanage... and really how can you quantify the importance of this missed time with your child?

In the Kenya program, we do all that waiting in country, with our child.

Hugs to all those parents who are experiencing long bureaucratic delays and only have monthly update photos to hang on to! I cannot imagine how difficult that must be for you all... It is unfair for you and your child! My heart truly goes out to all of you.

If you know one of these parents, please try to imagine what it would be like to have your child worlds away... wondering if they went to bed hungry or if they were being loved. Give them a hug today - they deserve your support!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Have you ever had trouble sitting on the toilet?

Pick me!

For 4 days to be exact. This was the start of my hate/hate relationship I have with Crossfit. I don't know if you have ever heard of it, or ever done it... but I'm here to warn you about it.

What is Crossfit?

CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

Sound scary enough? If not, a video says a thousand words...

Let me first tell you that I am NOT in great shape. I am no fitness guru. I do need to lose weight. I would love to lose 30 lbs. Although, I have not been that weight in like 10 years - but it's something I can certainly dream about!

Enter Crossfit into my life... A new gym opened in town and was offering free introductory classes. So a girlfriend of mine, and I decided to check it out. Well, I think we were caught off guard - to say the least. In fact... we can laugh now, but my GF didn't bring a water bottle or even running shoes (she had on converse street sheets) and she was sporting a tube top. Yep... no straps.

Well, I think just about died this day. We did 20 minutes of some hard enough stuff... leg lifts, jumping jacks etc... I was starting to get a good sweat on when she announced it was time for the warm up.

The what?

Warm up?

Are you freaking kidding me? What the heck did we just do?

'The pre-warm up'.....  Oh. my. goodness.

The warm up just about kicked my a$$ flat on the ground with planks, push ups, lunges etc...

Now we were ready for the work out! (Well, I was ready for my grave really...)

5 circuits of 15 squats followed by 400 KM's of running. We live in a mountain town... which means half is up hill. K. Seriously. I thought my legs or knees were going to just give out on me. I realized that I was no where near as strong as I thought I was, and squats are very difficult for me! My whole body was shaking trying to get into a squat by the end... My legs turned to rubber and I could hardly even recognize them as my own. It was like I was walking on noodles!

For 4 days following, I was seriously quite impaired physically. My poor quads burned and literally seized up. Living on top of the mountain, means that I not only have 2 flights of stairs in my house, but stairs outside that lead to my driveway which is a steep hill. I had to take every single step on a sideways angle, holding on to railing for any support I could get - and my steps down hill where also taken with a side shuffle accompanied by noises of pain. BUT... that was not the worst of it. The worst was sitting on the toilet and getting back up. I fully qualified for the raised toilet, grab bars and the whole nine yards - but no. All I had was my vanity and a low toilet. One hand on the counter top, the other on the side of the toilet as I would try to pull myself off of that throne. I tortured my bladder by making it hold copious amounts of urine... just to eliminate a trip down to the toilet.

Yes, I was a sad, sad sight.

Fast forward a few weeks... I still die. Every single class. But the soreness usually only lasts 2 days now. I have become familiar with strange poses, positions and weight lifting. I have a new work out vocabulary. Burpees, Wall Climbs, Kettlebell Swings, Sumo Squats... etc. And I still hate it. I wake up in the morning and think...Crap! Today is crossfit.... damn it!

Why do I hate it so much? Cause it is extremely hard! I hate it the entire time I do it... and I hate being sore afterwards. The only thing I enjoy is that moment when s/he says "End of class."

Well why would she keep going you ask? Because I'm damn stubborn and I hate the fact that it beats me. Every class... it wins, not me. I want to do it until I can do it, and do it well... and kick it's a$$ for a change!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The most AMAZING chore chart!

I am telling you, homeschool Moms have got to be the most creative, inventive people I know! Thanks to a fellow Kenya adoption chasing Mama (Jess), I stumbled upon a great idea on her homeschool blog.

This right here is the ONLY chore chart that actually works! (That I've ever used that is...) My kids are ALL over it... and are actually doing chores!

Who would have thought!?

I did change it a bit from both versions, and made it suitable for our needs.

First of all, I didn't a have Pocket Chart, nor was I about to buy one for $50 including shipping. So, I made one. A large piece of Bristol, some business card binder pages and some flexible glue (Rubber cement, plastic glue etc.). Do not even attempt to use regular white glue - it will not work. (Trust me... I learned the hard way!)

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the 'making' process, so I'll try to be very descriptive. Have a look at my photos below... cut the business card pages, so you have a row of half pockets (obviously so you can insert the cards into). I also cut the front of the pocket a bit shorter than the back, to make it easier to insert the cards.

The whole project, including the card stock for the cards/tickets cost $10.

Then I hit up Walmart and picked up a bunch of collectible erasers, Zhu Zhu pets (on sale for $3!), balloons, flashlights etc...

This stash was under $40 and will last a very long time.

I found many of the printable cards to be out of date, or out of culture - and certainly didn't apply to us. (Bringing in the milk?) So I did many of my own cards, targeted towards areas that we really need to work on. PJ's under pillow, dirty laundry in the basket, put away shoes and back pack... etc. In addition to these 3, they also get 2 chores a day. So 5 cards in total. When they complete a chore, they (or I - after room checks etc..) turn the card over. At the end of the day, I will exchange these for tickets. We found that not many tickets fit in the pockets, so we use the reward card boxes to check off - equaling 5 tickets. As you might be able to see, I have written numbers on the prizes - indicating how many tickets that prize cost. If they do not want to purchase prizes with their tickets, they can exchange them for 25 cents a ticket. 

The Best Bee-havior cards are given out for something extraordinary that the kids do. ie) Listening very well all day, sleeping in their own bed for 5 nights in a row (Mister!), or doing a good deed etc... These tickets will be redeemed for a trip to the movies, bowling etc...

It is working so well, that I am really considering creating one for the hubby!  (It's just the reward program I would need to come up with that worries me! ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let's get real - and - what I really want to say.

It's Tuesday, so let's be truthful.

When I first started this blog I wasn't quite sure what direction it would take. It was initially started as an adoption journey journal. Many people keep several blogs. One for adoption, one for homeschooling, one for recipes etc. I don't homeschool (yet), but I do have other interests and passions. Certainly not deserving or interesting enough to require their own blog however. So, I have decided that this blog will simply just resemble me! With a main focus on adoption, and other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure! I am a researcher at heart, granola wannabe, and I think I'm a decent cook - so from time to time, I will throw out some product recommendations, green ideas, and some recipes. Because...the truth is, I would do the same thing if you were sitting here in my kitchen having tea. (or wine ;)

Another thing which I have teetered back and forth on... is about how real I should present myself. And here are my thoughts.

You know those blogs... the ones where the person behind the keyboard eats glitter for breakfast and lunch?

Where nothing bad ever happens?

They live in a fluffy world where the glass is always full?

The ones that make you want to vomit in your mouth?

Yeah.. those ones.

Well, here's the thing... I don't think they help anyone really. It certainly can't help the writer to be in denial about reality - not ever able to unleash some dissatisfaction. (Every therapist will tell you, journaling is good... get your feelings out!) AND - I know, as a reader it really actually only makes me feel bad about myself or my situation.

No... the fluff doesn't rub off, it just aggravates.

What does make me feel better is to read that others share in my own miseries. To hear of their shitty experiences and how they overcame them! And let's be truthful - if you are not being honest and truthful about your adoption (etc.), your experience - then really, you are misleading others, and you are not helping. In fact, you could be causing damage. Most people blog to journal or to help and inspire others... Fluff does not have category. Sorry.

So, here I am in all my glory. (No bells, whistles or firecrackers... lol) What you see is what you get. In my everyday life I live authentically. I think everyone should own and accept who they are. I don't have a secret me, or a different personality behind closed doors or with different people. If I'm angry with the hubby for example, you will know it. If I am excited, I can't contain it. If I have a problem, I will voice it. The thing is - it is what it is, and nothing else. I'm not perfect and I'm not afraid to admit it. I have nothing to hide. I realize this may rub people the wrong way, and I'm okay with that too... cause I can only be what I am. I won't put on a facade because that's what I think you want to see. It's more important to me that I am content with who I am, and knowing that I live my life as genuinely as possible.

By my own admission, I suffer from an uncanny ability to be negative... so bare with me. I am a work in progress and have been making strides in being able to see things in a more positive light. Adoption, surprisingly is a good exercise... you have to be able to find the positivity and the hope, because without it, you have nothing.

Wow... now that I've rambled on way too long about myself, I would like to put out there exactly what I would like to say to people when they ask stupid questions.


The other day, I had a woman come to my door to pick up some stuff I was selling. We got on the topic of adoption. She asked where we were adopting from, and I no sooner got out, "Well, we were going to adopt from the US...." and she interjected with "Why aren't you adopting from the Ministry?".

Standing there with her lovely 2 yr old on her hip (after informing they that they are trying for another)... she announced she was a social worker and really started to make me feel as though she was grilling me for making the wrong decision. In her eyes, I should be adopting from the ministry and everything I had to say about it - she answered with, "That is not always the case...".

So, although my typical response is to be polite and defend myself, I need to strategize here. I want some real humdinger responses. I want to answer a question with a question. Not to be rude, or to hurt. But to make them think, "Did my mouth just say that?". Educate... not hate. I don't have these answers yet... I'm still working on it. BUT - I do know what that little voice inside my head says and what I feel like saying...

Said by social worker lady...
Why don't you adopt from the Ministry? Why don't you?

Said by my lawyer's legal secretary...
Why would you want to do that (adopt from Kenya)?

I don't know... 147 million orphans in the world. 50 million of them Africa. 1 in 5 will die before their 5th birthday. The lucky ones? They will suffer from famine and disease. They will be raped and abused. They will survive only by salvaging what they can from landfills and by selling their own bodies.

I guess you and your children are just darn lucky to have been born in the Western world so you didn't have to suffer the same fate - because if you were, you would really have to hope that there were people in the world who weren't as ignorant as you and actually gave a shit.

Said by family member...
Why don't you adopt from China? 

Do you know how racist that sounds?

Do you have a problem with Africa or Africans?

Why the HELL not Africa?

Said by someone I know...
Why do you want to travel and adopt from Africa? Africa is full of AIDS, there is a good chance your kid could have aids too.

What?! Are we living in the 80's here?! Your right, there are a lot of people with AIDS/HIV in Africa. Most orphans are AIDS victims. Although all the children are tested for HIV, there is a chance that they could have HIV. HIV is manageable with medication and many HIV positive people are able to live long, healthy, normal lives. It is almost a non issue nowadays. The only issue, unfortunately, is the stigma attached to it, created by people such as yourself. (Which unfortunately, is the only thing that gives me pause in considering adopting a positive child!) HIV positive children are just as deserving as any other orphan.

Now, as far as your worry about travelling in a country 'full of AIDS', you must be concerned that I will catch it. You will be happy to know that I do not intend on having sex with anyone there (other than hubby that is), nor will I be sharing needles with anyone. You will also be happy to know that outside of these 2 activities - my chances of catching HIV is MUCH lower than getting struck by lightning. That's right... you should be more concerned about the local weather patterns.

Said by family member...
There are many children in our own country that need help too, why aren't you adopting one of them?
Seriously? What do you really know about the children in need in Canada? Have you researched this? This is a typical, safe response. But actually shows your ignorance about adoption in the real world.

And, the last time I looked - this was our 'own' planet, and there are many children on our 'own' planet that are in need. There are several reasons why... but I am tired of explaining myself, so let me ask you this...

Why don't you adopt one of these children?

Why do you care where the heck I adopt from?

Wouldn't you agree that adopting a child from Africa is better than not adopting a child from anywhere?

And last, but not least... (words of wisdom from a dear friend of mine - 'xome')

Would you be so concerned about the way I build my family if this child came from my own VAGINA? No...? I didn't think so.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Terrorist attacks in Nairobi...

Now 2, yes 2 attacks. And as this city is experiencing these terrorist attacks... my lil brown baby and stork over there => on the right - are about to run off the cliff. The clock is ticking...

My concern for Nairobi is that there will be conflict between the Kenyan Somalis and the Kenyans... and more blood shed, and more innocent lives lost.

Living a year holed up in a tiny apartment because I am too afraid to go near bus stops or malls etc, is not my idea of a good time! At this rate, I am going to consider a cow dung hut in the middle of nowhere. Yep, me and the Maasai! Don't laugh... it may just happen! I am growing very fond of the mystical Maasai...

Isn't it funny how these road blocks (aka giant mud slides) keep coming at us?? Not shocking. Nope. I think I would be shocked if they didn't happen! This is like the adoption test... are you worthy? How much shite can you put up with? How strong are you?... let's test you and see what you are made of...

Bring it on, I say... bring it on.

One way or another, I will find the path that will bring my child home. I will endure and I will conquer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Citizenship Part 1 returned and Biometrics!

Good news! A couple of weeks ago, Dan's fingerprinting came back. We found out that the delay was likely cause by his name. Millions of Dan Thompson's in the world... and a probably a few criminals too!

And... surprise, our Citizenship Part 1 came in the mail Thursday! Wow... over 4 months!! Glad we got that in when we did! I'm taking a breath of relief that we filled it out correctly and that 2 were actually returned. (Allowing us to file for 2 children if necessary.)

Onward and upward!

Friday, October 21, 2011

'Waiting' - not just a 8 letter word.

First off - I apologize, as this post is all over the map! (The inside of my brain is a scary place!)

As most all PAP's (potential adoptive parents) know, waiting in the adoption journey is very agonizing. I think of it as the hard labour... just waiting for the cervix to dilate enough so you can finally push. It's hard to wait. The only thing that can cure the 'wait blues' is to be active, to feel like you are actually doing something to assist the process. ie - the walking, the rocking and finally the 'pushing'.

You will go through highs and lows... periods where it is just extremely difficult to other days where you may go an entire day without even thinking about it.

When we started this process, I was extremely impatient out of the gate... I fought and fought until I realized that fighting wasn't going to get me anywhere. I needed to take a number and join the line. Unfortunately, we ended up wasting 18 months in this line. When we got closer to the front, it was like the cashier put up the "Closed - Next Cashier" sign just as we were about to unload our cart. Yes, we were cheated out of 18 months and had to start all over again! But then we soon found out that these games, trials and tribulations were like boyscout badges. The more you have, the more serious you will be taken. Everybody has a badge or 2 or 3... It's hard to feel bad, because when you look up in front of you, someone will always have a couple more badges than you. However, on the other hand... it's hard not to have the hair stand up on the back of your neck when you feel as though someone just walked in to that grocery store and jumped the line. That makes the waiting even worse. Like being a week over due... 18 hours into labour and seeing the bubbly blonde who just came in the hospital hours before, walk out (in skinny jeans) with her baby. This can make you pretty darn tired and ready to go I tell ya!... and I think I may have just experienced a bit of that. Sometimes reading blogs is not very conducive to your health! lol.

Oh yes, I have been the pillar of strength in waiting since July... It has been the easiest part of the process. Why? Because I have only been waiting on myself to get the dossier done. Granted, we had to wait for a few things... but I still sat at the control tower. Typically, I would have had this done and dusted in a month or less. But now I have a million things to think about and prepare for. Suddenly this adoption journey has morphed into moving across the globe and homeschooling our children for a year. My distractions are many... where will we live, who will live here, who will buy our business, who will look after our pets, where will we volunteer, how do I stay away from Malaria for a year? etc... So, as you can see - it was easy to feel like we needed to tread slowly, we had to take time to scope out the landscape. Now we are sitting on pins and needles with current events in Kenya. We were also initially hoping to be out of Kenya by the election in August, and now there is no way that is going to happen, so we really have to put a great deal of thought into that. And now, I'm ready. Ready! Let's get this party started! We moved agencies to change programs to expedite our adoption, and now I feel like this could put us behind, not ahead.

So now we sit. I'm going to cross our last t's, dot our last i's and send off our dossier. My director is gone for 2 weeks, so I won't be able to get any advice from her until then. Only we can ultimately decide on where our comfort zone lies, but I would feel so much better if I knew that the dossier could be put on hold while in Kenya - if the country does become unstable. I am hoping this is the case, but will not know until she is back in office in November.

***Edit - and just to prove how crazy adoption can make you - Waiting has 7 letters, not 8. Doh! lol...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How gifting has changed in my house.

Stuff... we have too much of it, and I am sick of being a "consumer". (Still love to shop mind you... which pretty much makes me an oxymoron!)

Junk gifts... I want to make it more meaningful or useful than just the toy that ends up being tossed in the garbage a few months down the road.

So... I am trying to gift with not only the earth in mind, but also with those that are less fortunate.

Mister has a birthday coming up... and this is what we are giving him.
This is not the exact one, mind you - but it is similar. We bought him a 10 in 1 games table (table tennis, Foosball, air hockey and a bunch of others) that I found listed in a local facebook for sale group. Cost $50. I believe the original cost would have been around $300. Deal! And... we recycled.

For Christmas, I have a couple things in mind.

I LOVE these Go Green Lunch Boxes! A couple kids in Mister's class have these... and they are just wonderful!!

A. you don't have to use any plastic packaging that ends up in the landfills.
B. the kids can't lose the Tupperware containers (like they currently do) - saving me money!

However, at a cost of $43 - it is an item that I would not normally buy, which makes it a great gift for Christmas!

The kids, in addition to all of nieces and nephews - will also be recipients of KIVA cards! Another thing I LOVE!

Kiva credit or gift cards are used for micro financing. The kids can browse on the KIVA website and choose a borrower to which they will lend their money. It may be a farmer in Kenya who would like to purchase a dairy cow, or a Mother in Bolivia seeking to make repairs to her leaky roof. Once the children make their loan, they will then get update reports. Once the loan is paid back, the child can then choose to make another loan, donate it to Kiva, or withdraw the money.

This gift will obviously help those in need, but it is also an invaluable gift for our children as well.
Here are some of the benefits...
  • Serves as a springboard to learning about everyday life for real people across the world
  • Exposes students to the complex histories and cultures of countries often vastly different to their own
  • Provides practical use of computer skills, in both navigating the Kiva website and using the internet as a research tool
  • Teaches about basic business practices and economic principles
  • Engages children in the practice of microfinance as microlenders
  • Introduces children to the possibilities of social entrepreneurship
  • Empowers children to know they can make a difference in the wider world today.
Perhaps you have some other suggestions for the upcoming gifting season? Please share them with me... I am looking for more ideas!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Good Reads - My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah

A nice break from adoption and transracial parenting reading!! For those that have yet to read this - it's well worth the time!!

Very well written, this engaging story recounts Robin's unsettled and unfulfilled life in Suburban US and follows her to remote Kenya, where she lives life as a Maasai. Through Robin's experience, I was able to peak into the everyday life of a Maasai, from the daily water collection, to their circumcisions rituals. Her keen attention to detail in the small formalities, rituals and customs was very interesting to me. I certainly learned a lot about the Maasai culture!

Robin, is a true inspiration and now works for Free the Children in Kenya. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just a wee bit scary...

We have been following the current events in Kenya/Somalia closely. This weekend, Kenyan troops crossed the border into Somalia with helicopters and jet fighters in response to a few recent abductions that are thought to be the work of an Islamic terrorist group, Al Shabaab.

This is from a BBC news report issued today. 

"Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told the BBC Somali service that his fighters would attack Nairobi.
Kenya launched an air and ground assault on the weekend, in response to several recent cross-border abductions it blames on al-Shabab.
The hard-line group, which controls much of southern Somalia, denies carrying out the kidnappings.
Mr Rage said: "We will defend ourselves. Kenya doesn't know war. We know war. The tall buildings in Nairobi will be destroyed.
"We have fought against governments older and stronger than Kenya and we have defeated them."
Submitting our dossier at this time is difficult. Once our document is submitted, there is no turning back... we are committed. Once our referral is issued we have 90 days to  move there. If we do not follow policy, we lose the referral and in all likelihood, we would not be considered for another match.
Once again, another control issue that I am battling with... hand over the papers, hand over control. I think we are likely just going to have to decide to take this leap of faith and trust that it will work out. We do want to feel  that it is a measured risk though and that we are not jumping into a full out war zone!!
The one comfort is that al-Shabab has made threats to Kenya in the past but has never followed through...
Just released - news report from National Post.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Complaint to the 'Tooth' division of Fairyland.

October 14th, 2011

Division 'Tooth'

To Whom it may Concern,

I would like to submit a formal complaint about our Toothfairy. She is such a scatterbrain and gets waaaayy too much vacation time!

I lost a tooth on Friday and she didn't even show up until Monday! Mom said that she must've gotten the Thanksgiving holiday off.

One time, she didn't show up for my sister's tooth 3 nights in a row! On the fourth night, my sister got a note that read:

"Sorry 'Muffin', I was on holidays in Bermuda. Your tooth looks great! Keep brushing!
xoxo Toothfairy"

Seriously! Holidays in Bermuda!? Obviously she is overpaid.

But that's not all... we have several other complaints to make. Our toothfairy has had 2 non shows because the cat scared her off. How can a 'magical' Toothfairy be scared of a cat?! Clearly, this should have been a job description requirement?

She has also forgotten to actually take our teeth before as well! Not that we cared much, but surely this is causing lost revenue on your end?

One time, she got lost. Can you imagine... a Toothfairy getting lost? Mom said she thought she went to the wrong house... She must have no sense of direction, because in today's worlds of GPS's and cell phones etc... it's all most impossible to get lost!

I think I have more than demonstrated our Toothfairy's inability to effectively do this job. I think it's time that she is demoted. We need a new tooth fairy.

Mommy says that Daddy would look good in wings and could always use the extra money. What do you think?



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Transracial Adoption

I have stumbled across some great resources in the last few days that I thought I would share. The first one basically sums up what we as transracially adopted parents will have to strive to achieve for our children.

A Transracially-Adopted Child's Bill of Rights
Adapted by Liza Steinberg Triggs from "A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks," by Marilyn Dramé

  • Every child is entitled to love and full membership in her family.
  • Every child is entitled to have his culture embraced and valued.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that this is a race conscious society.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that she will experience life differently than they do.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who are not looking to "save" him or to improve the world.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that being in a family doesn't depend on "matching."
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that transracial adoption changes the family forever.
  • Every child is entitled to be accepted by extended family members.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that, if they are white, they benefit from racism.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that they can't transmit the child's birth culture if it is not their own.
  • Every child is entitled to have items at home that are made for and by people of his race.
  • Every child is entitled to opportunities to make friends with people of her race or ethnicity.
  • Every child is entitled to daily opportunities of positive experiences with his birth culture.
  • Every child is entitled to build racial pride within her own home, school, and neighborhood.
  • Every child is entitled to have many opportunities to connect with adults of the child's race.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who accept, understand and empathize with her culture.
  • Every child is entitled to learn survival, problem-solving, and coping skills in a context of racial pride.
  • Every child is entitled to take pride in the development of a dual identity and a multicultural/multiracial perspective on life.
  • Every child is entitled to find his multiculturalism to be an asset and to conclude, "I've got the best of both worlds."
The second is some tips on how to achieve this...

Parenting Tips for White Parents with Adopted Children of Color

by Sun Yung Shin

1. Live in or move to, if you have to, a multicultural, racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood. Make sure your child regularly interacts with people of color in a variety of ways.
2. Study and learn about whiteness and white privilege. Don't waste time and energy in feeling guilty. Guilt is a luxury of those with privilege. Embrace the opportunity to work for social justice. Study and learn how to be an active anti-racist, and then do it.
3. Understand that even if your child is, for example, ethnically Chinese, she or he will be perceived as "Asian American" or simply "Asian" (or worse, Oriental). Understand the complex and interrelated history of various groups of color in America. Don't overemphasize traditions from the culture of origin at the expense of dealing with race in America.
4. Be prepared to teach your child how to directly respond to racist comments, questions and incidents. (You'll have to learn this from adults of color). Never make excuses for others. Never brush off these incidents as insignificant or isolated.
5. Be prepared for friends and family to be confused or even offended by your anti-racist work. Be patient with them and let them know about your new priorities. Continue to make friends of all races who are interested in making America a truly equitable nation.
6. Avoid saying or thinking that, "I'm ___________ too now that I have a child from __________." That's simply offensive and insulting to all the people who are really __________ and don't get to "choose."  Understand the difference between nationality, race, ethnicity and culture -- and how they overlap (or don't overlap) for your child and your family.
7. Study and learn about your child's culture(s) of origin, not from North American and/or white writers but from writers and historians from within that (those) culture(s).
8. Understand how gender and sexuality operate in your child's culture(s) of origin.
9. Understand that even if your child is disinterested in her or his culture of origin, she or he will be impacted by how the American mainstream perceives that culture.
10. Support the artistic expression and adoption-related professional work of adult adoptees -- if only because your child will eventually be an adult adoptee.
11. Study the history of inequalities in terms of reproductive rights (who gets to have a safe abortion, who gets to keep their children, who is considered a socially accepted mother) in this country before criticizing the sexism or patriarchy in other cultures (or communities). Consider how you can invest in your child's home community so that women and families . . . people who look like your child . . . will not "have to" send their children away.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are you ready for this chocolate lovers?...

Rage against the Minivan has done it again. A fabulous thought provoking, informational post.

The bitter truth is that chocolate bar you are eating, was very likely created from cocoa beans cultivated by child slave labour! Yes, Cadbury US, Nestle, Hershey and Mars are all guilty. Read here, "let me ruin your Halloween for you..."

Yes, Kristen... we are breaking up with Chocolate too. Thank you for raising our awareness!

This Halloween, please consider an alternative to unethical chocolate. If you have a Costco nearby - I was able to find a pack of 80 mini Play-Doh for under $10.

Below is a 5 part documentary  (a must watch! - even if you can just get in the first one)... They are very well done and show in depth, the effects of unethical cocoa (same as coffee too!!) farming.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Giving thanks...

As children, my Mom would have all 6 of us kids around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and recount what we were thankful for. Since we missed Thanksgiving there again this year, I thought I'd give thanks via my blog.

- I am thankful for my children, Muffin with her passion for life and undying 'happy' energy. Mister for his edible cuteness and all the funny things he says.

- I am thankful for my husband, who is devoted and loyal - always putting us first and working hard to make sure we are well looked after.

- I am thankful for our health, home and happiness.

- I am thankful that we have embraced the the opportunity to do something amazing, and have the ability to do so.

- I am thankful for whoever is holding our African daughter and hope she is feeling loved and cherished.

- I am thankful for friends and family who support and defend us. Sometimes - it is all too easy to feel alone or criticized.

- I am thankful for being born in such a great country, affording me so many opportunities. For this, I am very lucky.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Need some advice...

I'm at a loss for words about what happened to me today, and I am hoping that some of you veteran adoptive parents can offer some advice.

I received a text today from a family member who is related by marriage. Someone married to one of my siblings. I have received less than 5 texts from this person in my entire life. The last I spoke with them, was months ago. The text was a picture of some young African children with the words "It's Friday 'N-word'!" To say that I was shocked was an understatement. A million things ran through my mind. Surely this was not intended to be sent to me... Is this a mistake, a virus... what the hell is this? My heart rate elevated, I instantly dialed my sibling... who at the same time just received the same text. My sibling apologized on their spouses behalf and they said they would talk to them.

My response text to my in-law was simply "Offensive and Racist".

After speaking with their spouse, my sibling texted me saying this person was just trying to get under my skin, and once again apologized. I texted my sibling back explaining that there is no humour in racism and this was extremely offensive and I was appalled. (Plus about 300 more words).

My in-law later returned my text with "Haha, I knew that would boil your blood for at least a little while".

My thoughts: I believe this person did not intend to hurt and offend me the way it did. (I was seriously almost in tears at one point!) However, there had to have been some knowledge that this would offend me and somehow that was viewed to be humorous. This person is educated and intelligent. This person uses humour to justify their actions or statements. This person benefits from white privilege and lives in rural Alberta where racism seems to be more accepted than anywhere else I have lived. I think that any person who uses racial terms in humour, is just lacking the knowledge of history and how these words can carry so much baggage and are associated with so much blood shed. There also seems to be a disconnect between this racist behaviour and the fact that I will one day have a daughter whom just happens to be black, and of African descent.

We all know as white adoptive parents (or soon to be) of black children... that this is a sensitive issue, and we have all had to address this somewhere along the line. I feel super defensive about this and haven't quite sorted out exactly how or where I will draw the lines when the time comes. I have already forewarned my family and friends that any racial jokes, humour etc. will not be tolerated what so ever. Does this mean that we do not attend family events when an offender is present? etc... these are details that I am hoping I do not have to deal with. I believe that everyone in my family is genuinely caring... a couple just lacking knowledge or understanding. So how do I make this person understand the impact of their message and why this is so unacceptable? Is there a book, website or video that I can share with this person and others? What would you have done? What should I do in the future?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Coffee - wake up and smell the truth!

I know... I'm like Debbie Downer lately. Here's the thing, I have been made aware of a serious problem. Well... the truth is, I have always been aware. Everyone knows about child labour...(at least I hope!!) The question is, do we really take the time to understand the impact of child labour and what we can do to change it?
Ignorance is bliss and honestly all this knowledge about famine, sweatshops, damage to earth, animal cruelty, etc... etc... is very overwhelming. We can't be expected to know it all, or to do the right thing all the time. But, we can work at it one thing at a time. We can educate ourselves and share with others to increase awareness around the globe.
Coffee growing is a very labor intensive product to harvest and many coffee plantations use child labour. This happens in many countries in the world... but let's focus on Kenya. In Kenya, approximately 4 million children ages ranging from 6-14 were reported working in the commercial agricultural department. In the plantations about 50-60 percent of the workers during coffee pickings peak season were children. The children working in this kind of environment are exposed to various diseases. Such as malaria, influenza, and pneumonia. These children are not only exposed to the many diseases but also to the filthy drinking water.
These children are paid under the minimum wage, and often no wage at all. They are also victims of child trafficking, taken from their families and their villages. These children are not able to attend school and are often subject to brutality.
In Kenya, coffee workers (adults) earn about US$12 per month, while the legal minimum wage is 3 - 4 times that amount. Almost half of the workers are illiterate.  This creates a very vicious cycle. Labourers in Coffee farms, were typically raised in coffee communities - where their parents worked the fields. The parents are not paid enough to send their children to school and can hardly afford to feed the family, so they bring their children to work too. The children grow up in the fields, have children of their own, and the cycle continues. With no education, they are unable to break the cycle.

By supporting Fair Trade Coffee, you are acknowledging the inhumane treatment of these labourers. You are standing up and saying, "Yes, I will pay 20 cents more to ensure the fair treatment of all coffee labourers, so their children will be ensured an education and so no child will be stolen from his family."
So, I have a confession to make. A month ago, I was in Safeway looking to buy coffee. I got a small pang of excitement as I suddenly thought of looking for Kenya coffee... we have never tasted it before! Well my eyes quickly scrolled the little bags of goodness... fair trade Colombian, fair trade Rainforest blend, fair trade Arabica... etc, until I spotted Kenyan coffee. But!... not fair trade? Every coffee flavour of this brand was fair trade except Kenya. How can this be? I scoured the shelves for a fair trade Kenya roast - but without luck. This was the only Kenyan coffee. So you know what I did? I bought it. My selfishness and excitement to taste it, overcame my senses. It totally wasn't worth it though. After watching a documentary on child slave labour (which I will show next week) - every cup I have, I think of the child's sweat that went in to make that coffee.

Here is a great list of affordable free trade coffee. Thanks to Crossing Borders.

Coffee Shops and Bagged Coffee

1) DUNKIN' DONUTS--The leading retailer of coffee and baked goods in the world, They were the first National brand to sell espresso beverages made exclusively with Fair Trade Certified beans.

2) STARBUCK'S--Ask for their Estima Blend. In 2009 they doubled their purchases of fair trade coffee to 40 million pounds, making the company the largest purchaser of Fair Trade Certified coffee in the world.

3) PEET'S COFFEE AND TEA--Peet's Fair Trade Blend. Peet’s pays apremium to all of this blend's suppliers for producing coffees of superior flavor, as well as ten cents from every pound to thenon-profit group TransFair USA for promoting Fair Trade.

4) BRUEGGER'S--Bruegger's and Green Mountain Coffee share a commitment to quality--and to people both locally and globally that make their partnership in fair trade work. Green Mountain is an industry leader in fair trade coffee.

5) COSTCO--Costco's own brand, Kirkland, makes Kirkland Signature Fair Trade Coffee, roasted by Starbucks.

6) SAFEWAY--Seattle's Best signed an agreement with Safeway Inc. to sell their entire coffee line of organic, fari trade coffee. The agreement will result in the largest distribution of Fair Trade Certified, organically grown coffee products in North American grocery stores to date.

7) SAM'S CLUB--Fair Trade is in the Can: Sam's Club Converts Private Label Member's Mark Premium Ground Coffee to Fair Trade Certified.

8) TARGET--The company's Archer Farm's brand now has Fair TradeCertified Organic Tierra Del Sol Coffee.

9) TRADER JOE'S--By choosing Fair Trade Coffees from Trader Joe’s, you are supporting economic independence for coffee farming families. One of Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Coffees was selected from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Sumatra. It is sold as their Organic Five Country Espresso Blend.

10) WEGMAN'S--Buy their Green Mountain Fair Trade organic coffee, ground, Vanilla Cream, Flavored/Light Roast.

PS - "Tim Hortons does not sell organic coffee, does not sell Fair Trade coffee, and does not disclose the source of its green beans." They do claim to be involved in a partnership where they support coffee communities. Hmmm... but yet, they still won't let the cat out of the bag of where they get their coffee from. Wonder why that is? This partnership sounds like a smoke and mirror initiative to me. I am not convinced.

(Stay tuned for Chocolate's dirty little secret, and a fantastic documentary - next week!!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's been awhile...

since I posted a youtube video. This a great video put to a great song! (Mad World, performed by Michael Andrews)


If the World Were a Village

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall fruit and a Plum Crisp recipe!

October = free fruit. Although we don't have any fruit trees, we have many friends and neighbours who do. As I was picking plums the other day, I couldn't help but feel so terrible about the waste. The ground was literally littered with fruit left for the bugs and bears. I always try to salvage any good fruit that has fallen on the ground... but it's almost futile, as it doesn't change the amount that goes to waste. This is normal in BC... there is so much fruit, that much of it doesn't get picked or eaten. Whenever I pick fruit, I can't help but wonder how many people one fruit tree could sustain for a week. SO, in an effort to be 'fruitful' we try our best to put what we can to use. We make berry jams in the summer, in addition to freezing and in the fall we snack a lot on fruit and try to do as much fruit baking as possible. (Even though I don't bake!) One day I'll find the time to start canning!

I'm not a fruit fan, but love plums... and love them even more when they are fresh picked! Plums are an excellent source of vitamin C, B complex vitamins and rich in minerals like potassium and iron.

Last night we tried a Plum Crisp for the first time, and it was a hit! Recipe as follows:




  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2
    In a medium bowl toss plums, flour, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon together.
  3. 3
    Pour into ungreased 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
  4. 4
    In a small bowl combine all topping ingredients.
  5. 5
    Mix with a fork until crumbly.
  6. 6
    Distribute topping mixture evenly over plums (I use my hands for this).
  7. 7
    Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until topping is crispy and golden brown.

Serve warm with frozen yogurt - Yummilicious!