Get widget

Saturday 30 July 2011

Living in the land of "Toddler-dom"

One of the things I admire about my dog Miley is the way she lives in the moment each and everyday.  I realize her perspective is limited.  She spends no time worrying (about anything) but rather takes each day and moment as it comes and reacts accordingly.  Well, the same can be said of toddlers.  I think if Tricia possessed the vocabulary she would have many comments.  I imagine she would say things like "Mother, what is this 'one more minute' you keep mentioning, I would prefer to go on the swing NOW!"  Likewise, a Popsicle or a pickle (both of which she pronounces "popky") she feels strongly should be "A legitimate food choice for breakfast, snack, bedtime or anytime."  She is not concerned with appropriate or typical behaviours but rather marches to the beat of her own drum in everything from appropriate behaviour in public to how to decide which outfits require a diaper and which do not.  Social norms do not apply in Toddler-dom.

I would like to entertain all of you lovely readers with a little list of occurrences I have witnessed in the last 2 weeks which give a clear and rather amazing glimpse into the realities of living in the land of Toddler-dom with all its joys and sorrows.  Warning: This list is in no way intended to discredit my daughters thoughts and feelings, or my own for that matter, but rather is a statement of facts and enjoyable memories....

Scene 1: Mornings
  • Changed outfits 8 times, settled on skirt, no top no diaper.  Peed in skirt, had to change again.
  • Morning is a great time to experiment with food choices.  Recent examples include pee water direct from the toilet bowl, hand soap, hand sanitizer, body lotion, toothpaste, chili oil, baby powder and lip balm
  • Yogurt obsession.  Would eat 5 yogurts if given the option.  Being allowed only one is a let down every single day.
  • Cereal is fine for breakfast though often milk and cereal are preferred separately.  Other days together is fine, you just never know.
  • Getting dressed is fun.  Getting dressed in mommies clothes is uh-mazing! Mom's fav look of Tricia's was a tank top with bra over top.  Tricia's favourite looks include anything with straps or beads or shiny fabric. see pics
Scene 2: Lunchtime
  • Eat what you can, don't stuff yourself, there will be snacks later.  Remember: Anything you don't want to eat can be put into the toilet bowl (container and all), mom takes care of it from there...
  •  Pickle Obsession - anytime please.  Sliced, whole, doesn't matter.  Please ensure they are sweet though, none of this dill business, "blah, yucky".
  • If you're starting to get tired during lunch, trying to climb onto  the table for a rest can work.  Just wait till mom gets up to go refill your ketchup supply (drinking it or spooning it direct to your mouth moves this along nicely) and then climb up!
Scene 3: Nap time
  • Always brush your teeth before a nap, that way you get to eat fruity toothpaste and play with water.
  • If having trouble falling asleep try climbing into the window behind the black out blind so you can see what is happening in the world beyond, just don't fall or get caught.  If you hear mommy and daddy coming, quickly dive back into bed and behave as if you would never dream of behaving poorly.
  • If still having trouble falling to sleep, quietly get out of bed, get some books, get back into bed and tear those books to shreds.
  • If still having trouble getting to sleep, bang your leg against the wall until your mother gives up on nap time.
  • Mother's Note:  most days options 1-3 will suffice and she out so hard she has to be woken up or she would sleep forever.
Scene 4: Afternoon playtime + Dinner
  • This is the time of day when mommy is making dinner so you can get into almost anything you want without being stopped since she is happy you are having some "independent playtime". Hah!
  • Find a purse and dissemble it.  Anyone's purse, anywhere, anytime.  Watch your bags ladies.
  • Pull all the clothes from the drawers you can reach.
  • Try skating with mittens on your feet.  Falling down is fun and so are fits of laughter.
  • Ask for some water or "wadey" and find a way to play in it, the tupperware cupboard is a good starting point.
  • Wander in the backyard and check to see if any gates have been left open, escaping is a blast, but make sure you sprint away cause mommy is fast and can see you from the kitchen window.
  • The gardens are full of dirt, try some, it's lovely for many things and can be put almost anywhere, including your mouth.
  • Miley is fun, but she is always sleeping in her crate, boring!  Lure her out with your snack then climb inside.  Just be careful you don't go in too far or you will need mommy to get you out.  Head first is the most fun FYI.
  • This is also the time of day when daddy gets home which is VERY exciting and he plays better than mommy by now so ask him for anything you have been wanting before mommy gives him the "update".
Scene 5: Bath time and Bed
  • After dinner walks are great.  Though sometimes mommy and daddy try things like road safety training at this time and that is not ideal.  You can trick them though by standing on the curb, announcing that the road is "No TOUCH!, STOP!, noooo." and then they relax long enough for a jaunt down the road.  Daddy's face gets red when he catches you and he is very stern, but that passes.
  • Bath time is the best time.  We sing "wash wash wash, scrub scrub scrub".  Soapy is fun.  Toys are fun.  Splashing daddy is fun and "powdy" (baby powder) at the end is the best part, though it doesn't taste good.  Who knew?
  • Truly a Franks, at bedtime excitement levels sky rocket and everything becomes hilarious.  Toppling over is funny, running into a door is funny, being upside down is funny, sprinting down the hall naked is funny and mommy and daddy trying to calm things down is the most funny of ALL! 
  • To avoid going to bed, try asking for a snack, or milk or another book or another book or escape from your room and run around the house as fast as possible.

In the land of Toddler-dom time is of no consequence.  The focus is on the activity of the moment.  Identify your feelings, identify your thoughts.  Be aware of your bodily functions and hunger.  Attempt to exchange water for anything else (even mommy's coffee liquor used for baking only).  When frustrated turn beet red and let folks around you know you are displeased, it's likely their fault anyway.

Can I just say I LOVE BEING A MOM?!!  Not even the worst tantrum can take the joy out of parenting such a vibrant and delightful tiny human being.  Thank you Lord for your good and perfect gifts.  Also Heavenly Father, just please help Tricia learn road safety before her father has a heart attack!  Amen.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Why did we adopt??

The burning question for sure... You know how we are all very careful (that is most of us...) to avoid asking women with protruding bellies if they are pregnant?  Well most folks seem to have a similar sense when it comes to the reason behind adoption.  I think they are afraid of the answer they might get, or afraid that they will seem nosy.  These are valid fears, and honestly, depending on the way the question is asked it can seem nosy.  I'll give you an example:

We received a beautiful package in the mail this week from Franks family Central for our little Patricia.  It was a box full of every exciting thing all tied up with notes and bows and signs and most importantly topped with a pink fairy dress and tiara, UHmazing!!  All of that to say that the lady who delivered the box got wind of the gift being for our new little one, who was napping and proceeded to politely inquire.  Sure, no problem, I'll humour you.  "My husband and I adopted her.  She's two years old.  No nothing is wrong with her, she is a healthy happy 2 year old.  Yes she was in foster care.  No it wasn't horrible, in fact it was the exact opposite.  Yes, they can be sad places.  Yes it is sad for her birth parents.  They weren't able to care for her.  They had their own issues".  OK!!  Leave NOW.... thanks.  What started out as a polite inquiry ended with more than a little discomfort and I am frustrated with how little room people give you to re-assure them that things are good; not hard, horrible, difficult or sad.  Oh yeah, and we are not adoptive parents because we are desperate or sad, or infertile, or trying to save the world and all the sad children.  In fact, it is none of those things that brought us to adoption and we require no pity, sad looks or remorse.  Our story is one of a family that had enough love to share and how God made that family grow.  PS - I can't figure out why this one video has no sound.  The others do.

As mentioned in my last post Ryan and I have been married almost a decade and all I can say is that we have had sooo much fun!  I always thought we would have started our family sooner, but as with so many things, my plans are not always the best.  It wasn't until I had finished chef school about 4 1/2 years ago that we actually started getting serious about babies.  So we tried all the usual things and had no success.  Wait.  Were we infertile?  So off we went to the specialist to get checked out.  Nothing wrong with either of us, huh.  But!  We were eligible for a whole slew of fertility treatments costing anywhere from $400 / month to $7500 a go for invetro fertilization.  It was on the car ride home from our appointment that the word adoption first came up, and came up again, and came up with our families, and friends.  We prayed about it, thought about it, talked to our friends who had adopted.  Our conclusions were drawn and we came to a realistic understanding of what adoption was, how comfortable we felt with it, and felt excited about the future.

All said and done, it was 3 years from application to Tricia's arrival.  We never had a 'what are we doing moment', not ever.  We weren't even scared by all the potentially challenging scenarios.  The truth is, we expect parenting to be difficult.  We both come from large families (5 kids in mine and 7 in Ryan's) and we have seen everything from language delays, ADHD, hearing problems, dyslexia etc.  At the end of the day, we wanted our family to grow, and biologically or not we were going to gamble on God's plans and not our own typical version of what a family should look like.

Sometimes people wonder if it would be impossible to love an adopted child the same as your own.  This is a consideration.  Now, I have no biological children of my own, so I can't spare too much time for this comparison.  But if falling madly, deeply and ultimately in love with Tricia came as naturally as breathing, then my guess is that yes, it is possible and then some.  The best part about falling madly in love with our first child is that Ryan and I got to fall hard together.  Falling in love with each other was amazing, but falling in love with Tricia together, well that was Awesome!!  On our ride home from the first visit, we both just about died of excitement, we were straight giddy.  That little face, little hand and feet, those blue eyes, that delightful smile.  To think that she is going to come home with us, ahhh!  Today even, when she was swinging dangerously high on the swing and demanding more I found myself stunned by her beauty.  She's even beautiful when she cries!  How is that possible?  In this she differs from her mother.  I look scary when I cry.  Let me tell you though, she is like us already in a million ways.  My dad recently made a great point that it will take a little time to get used to her not being a biological child.  "When I tell Williem he looks like his dad, or Reub that he is like his mom, what do I tell Tricia?"  My dad's tender heart never ceases to amaze.  "Thank you for asking, that is a great question!"  My answer?  "We tell her she is just like us.  We tell her she does things that are just like her mom and just like her dad and the things that are just her.  We laugh at all the things that are similar.   We celebrate both because we are all unique" (OK, I was not that eloquent in my answer).  Also, there is no way to spend everyday together and not be alike.  I find this with friends and co-workers, we end up adjusting our mannerisms and idiosyncrasies by accident even.  Not to mention Tricia's compulsive copying.  I can't believe the hilariously exact match of my voice and intonation she already manages.  She is a funny girl.  So is her dad, they go into her room for "bedtime" and I honestly believe a herd of hysterical elephants goes with them by the amount of banging and laughing that ensues.  Oh ya, and I copy her now too.  I'm getting really good at asking for "mo nax" (more snacks) and declaring anything gross to be "stinky yucky!"

I really love conclusions so here is today's.  When Tricia was born in Feb '09 it was during the same week that Ryan and I finished our mandatory adoption classes.  When I told God last year that I just wanted to be a mom by the time I was 30 I knew I needed to take a deep breath and let my plan go.  Of course the week of my 30th birthday, just 3 days after my deadline, Tricia showed up on our computer screen and we knew.  My plans are not His plans.  About this God is very specific, Jeremiah 29:11 "for I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord.  "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future."  He has a plan for me, for Ryan and for our family.  We just have to get busy with what He gives us and trust that the next plan will be equally amazing!

Thursday 14 July 2011

Daily Operations

So parenting a toddler is a lot like managing a restaurant.  Allow me to make a few practical comparisons.  To begin with, every day is different and you never know what you're going to get until you get hit with it.  Whether its an attitude, an event, an accident, or mess, you know it will happen just not when or where.  Having worked in a restaurant (particularly the kitchen) for the last 11 years it is easy for me to look to the past for support in the future.  Today, when blueberry smoothie went flying all over the door, walls, stairs and me, I thought, "this is just like cleaning up soup in the walk in, it's best to start with a dust pan".  When a particular snack is desired but we have run out, a toddler freaks out, not dissimilar to a customer's, "what do you mean you're out of avocado??"  "But I am here, and that is what I wanted".  Rather then just saying it is not available, it is important to re-direct the attention of the toddler or guest by suggesting another item that might also meet their needs, "Perhaps you would like some cheese instead?"

Of course I can think of millions of examples but among my favourites at present we have the staff to toddler comparison.  Both need constant encouragement, re-direction, reminders, repetition, demonstration, more encouragement, and a little discipline now and then.  When told that a diaper must be worn under one's bathing suit when going out in public the reaction is similar to when a staff person is reminded that they need to clean the whole fridge and not just the parts that "look dirty".  When the toddler tires of a book right in the middle and closes the pages in one fell swoop, it reminds me of a staff person's cutting all but the last block of cheese because they were "tired of slicing" or "forgot".  It's all logical of course, it's just that there is occasionally a lack of perspective.  Most importantly I have comet to terms with the reality that both the staff person and toddler folk need routine.  Plan each day to run the same and they will likely cope with small variations.  Leave them guessing and you will often see more than one freak out, "but I always have a snack before night night", or "but I'm supposed to be on break right now, you want me to go after we finish this catering?"  I find myself reminded that we all have expectations and communicating those is often the problem.

My final super deep thought today is just this.  In a restaurant we open our doors, make a huge mess, clean it up and go home.  Then we repeat the whole cycle again the next day, phew!  Exhausting right?  Well the same seems to be true of parenting.  Wake up, destroy the house, eat everything, get the little people to bed (or close) and then clean up so you are ready to repeat in the morning.  Talk about routine, hah!  I love it, and thinking about it this way helps me be less preventative in our daily life experience and indulge in the moment a little more readily. 
Thank goodness for dust pans!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

A new beginning....

There are several things to know about me:

One of the things I'm told I do well is get things off the ground.   I have this ability to get things moving, started, begun.  Now, keeping up on the day to day, that sometimes feels like torture for me.  I will do my best with this blog, but please accept my advance apologies for any inconsistency....

The second thing to know is that the purpose of this blogging attempt is access.  When you have loved ones far away and lots of them, it can be challenging to keep them all up to date without making emails and phone calls sound like repetitive recitations.  I LOVE all of my people abroad way too much to be impersonal, and I really believe it is the little day to day details that make us truly feel connected to one another in the way we need.  We need our communities and some of mine is far away, so I hope to give access to those details through this forum.  Uh oh, did I just commit??

Lastly, I not only have had the immense privilege of being married to my best friend for just shy of a decade (August 18th) but this past Wednesday our family grew by 1 very remarkable, special, beautiful, intelligent, amazing little girl named Patricia Lynn Kendal Franks.  She is 2 and 4 months old, was born February 16th 2009 and was tailor made by our amazing God to be a part of this family.  When I say tailor made, I mean it.  It sounds sort of creepy to use phrases like "she was born in our hearts" but that is how this journey has felt.  More about that in a minute.  First I want to see if I can show you the slideshows we have made to date.  They aren't too long, but they offer a glimpse.

Photos from the "pre-placement journey" June/July 2011

Our first Visit!

So that is a little bit about Tricia.  She is the most beautiful little girl and the pictures literally don't do her justice.  At present, it is the middle of the night, so I will update you all with a little more about our adoption story asap but in the meantime, just know that my life is so richly blessed and it is not because of anything I have done, but rather because my heavenly Father has seen to my needs each day.  This girl in my life is His blessing, His choice for us and that is why it is so right.  I never would have thought the transition to parenthood could be so smooth, but it has been and I LOVE it!  Even in the middle of a Crocodile tear tantrum I look at this girl and can't help smiling.  She is ours, chosen and protected and God will grow us all together from now on.  Now.... if I can just convince her to keep her outfit changes to a daily limit of 6 or so, we will really be off to the races.  Does anyone out there have to hide their child's clothes??  Maybe we need one of those spinney knobs on the closet door.....  Food for thought, K