Hello World

Hello World ~ Open Adoption Journey

 

I know it’s been months since I’ve had time to pop onto here. There’s been just a *few* big changes in our life since June. The biggest by far has been in the area of our adoption journey. We were matched with a birth mama at the end of July, were chosen by her in August and spent as much time as we could getting to know each other before little babe made his appearance.

World, say hello to our son Boaz Asher Dale. Born Oct. 20th.

 

Hello World ~ Open Adoption Journey
Little Bo is healthy & loved by so many. He’s already firmly planted in our hearts. His name means “strength within” and is entirely suited to him and his birth & adoption story.

We brought him home on Oct.21st and have had the honour of being his adoptive parents from day one (with that official title coming in another month or two hopefully).

Hoping to share a bit more about our experience as we learn to navigate conversations dealing with the open adoption process, while being respectful of all the privacy needed for both birth mama and Bo. I love the relationship we have with her & her whole family. We’ve truly adopted a family, not just a baby.

So if you’re wondering where I am, I’ll just be soaking in this little babe & getting all the cuddles I can.

Mourning Mamahood

I blinked and he was suddenly three.

 

Mourning Mamahood ~ thoughts on motherhood ~ blog post by Bubblegum Sass
Sam a few weeks old (2012)

This has been a big week. Between bathroom renovations, our washing machine officially dying and rearranging bedrooms to accommodate Sam’s new big boy bed {all in a five day period} I feel like our home was turned upside down and inside out. Or at least, that’s how these changes are making my tummy feel. A little queasy and uneasy. I’m not necessarily a fearless person when it comes to change. I hesitate, I deliberate, I ponder and I get a bit grumpy.

(more…)

And Then He Turned Three

Three years ago today, we welcomed this cute bundle of warm cries & bright eyes into our life.

Sam as Newborn ~ Bubblegum Sass

The days were long, but the weeks flew by as we kept our Sammy safe, happy, and loved.

Sam at One Year Old ~ Bubblegum Sass

We rediscovered the world around us through the eyes and mind of a toddler;
frustrating at times, but also fascinating.

Sam at Two Years Old ~ Bubblegum Sass

We’ve tried to keep up with this boy of ours, who is always changing and challenging us. This parenthood journey has been the greatest learning curve I have ever found myself on. His smiles still make it worth it though.

Sam at Three Years Old ~ Bubblegum Sass

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMMY!!

A roll of tape

Sam playing with painter's tape

Sam playing with painter's tape 2

It never ceases to amaze me, the things that capture our little Sam’s attention. Take his newest game, for example, pulling painter’s tape up from the floor. We recently had a bunch of the tape stuck down in the kitchen (design prep for our renos). He discovered the joy of tape one afternoon and began picking and pulling it all up. Next up, unwinding the roll of tape. Great fun and kept him preoccupied for about 20 minutes (long enough to cook supper). Can’t wait to see what other games he discovers when we start the actual renos. Good times ahead!

Fourteen whole months

Yep, he sure is. And we’ve been having a lot of fun these days. Crawling, exploring, wagon rides, walks in the backpack carrier, digging in dirt & snow, drumming on metal pails, working on puzzles, sorting & organizing, standing and shuffling along with the help of furniture.

Sam in the carrier

Sam in the carrier (detail)
(Loving those gorgeous eyes)

Sam digging in snow
Sam smirking
Sam in toque
Sam covered in peanut butter
(This boy loves peanut butter)

A time capsule for baby

Sam's Time CapsuleAs we started planning for Sam’s first birthday, I was trying to figure out how to make it special without going too crazy. After all, he’s too young to “do” a whole lot and not likely going to remember much of the day. Simple is always better in my mind.

That’s when I came across the idea of doing a time capsule. It seemed like the perfect way to get friends & family involved in celebrating his first birthday, while creating something that Sam can actually enjoy himself years down the road. He might not remember his first birthday, but one day, he’ll get to re-experience it. Not only that, but he’ll get a glimpse into a small chunk of time captured & represented by each item included.

To get the ball rolling, I emailed each person/couple that would be attending his birthday party and outlined the project. I made a list of specific items that we wanted to include in the time capsule and delegated it out to each attendee. They were also invited to contribute anything else that they thought appropriate. Here’s a sample of the email I sent:

Hello,

We are putting together a time capsule for Sam’s first birthday that he can open when he turns 18. We would love your help in collecting special items to put into it. If possible, could you bring the following item on Saturday to his birthday party?

– (insert item request here)

In addition, feel free to bring anything else that inspires you, makes you think of Sam, this past year, or even something that represents yourself. It would also be great if you wrote a little note (perhaps a memory of him, wishes or fun predictions for his future, or just an explanation of the item you’re including). Nothing complicated. Everything will go into a shoe-box sized container.

Thanks so much for helping us organize this for Sam! I think it will be pretty neat to sit down with him years from now and go through it.

Everyone was eager to participate! If you’re planning to do this project for your own little one, don’t hesitate to ask people for specific items. I think it sometimes helps get the ideas flowing and of course, we ended up with a lot more things than we could ever have thought of on our own!

Here’s a list of the specific items that we asked attendees to bring:

  • local newspaper printed on the day of this birthday
  • photos of Sam’s friends (our friends’ kids)
  • photos of family pets (who are like kids to all of us)
  • collection of coins from the most recent years
  • collection of the current dollar bills

Here’s a list of the some of items that we added:

  • birthday cards given or mailed to him
  • photos of hubby & I
  • photos of Sam when he at one month old
  • a diaper cover (so he can get an idea of how big he was)
  • a onesie (again, so he can see how big he was)
  • memory stick with his fav music (Taylor Swift & Backyardigans theme)
  • a list of his current fav things (eg. yogurt, pork chops, crawling, sorting)
  • letters from hubby & I
  • a William Gibson book that belonged to my brother (who has passed)

Here’s some of the items that others came up with:

  • personal letters
  • lightbulb
  • compass
  • poems
  • small bottle of rum (legal drinking age is 18 in Alberta)
  • handmade items (quilted bookmark & coffee cozy from his grandma)
  • collectible coins
  • photos from people’s trips
  • signed copies of special books
  • a DVD with a collection of videos from his first year

As you can tell, folks came up with some great ideas! Originally, I figured we would just fit everything into a shoebox sized plastic container, but with this amount of items, we had to find something bigger. Liquids will be triple bagged and put into their own plastic container within the big box to prevent any leaking. The whole time capsule itself will probably just be kept in a closet for the next 17 years. It will be quite an interesting thing to go through with Sam.

Celebrating baby’s 1st

We had a nice 1st birthday party for Sam with friends and family. Nothing too complicated or over-the-top. Food, drink, presents, cake, playtime for the kids, & chatting for the adults. We did organize a time capsule and asked attendees to participate in that, but that deserves its own post really.

Just thought I’d share some of the decorations I whipped up the week of his birthday, mostly done during his nap times. I based the colour “theme” on his fav blankie and focused on decorating the fireplace mantle (since it’s such a great place for displays).

Mantle decorated for birthday

I really got into making yarn pom poms, a first for me. Pinterest is full of DIY mini pom pom tutorials (not sure exactly which one I used, actually). Basically you just wind yarn around the tongs of a folks, wrap a tie around the bundle and snip all the loops open with small sharp scissors (FIY- a pair of small sharp scissors is key). I glue a bunch of pom poms onto a strand of yarn to make a garland:

Birthday pom pom garland

Next, I used a variety of scrapbook paper to make different sized party “hats” (for decoration, not for wear… although you could easily attach an elastic to make them wearable). I glued a pom pom onto the top of each (note the kitty cat printed paper for my baby boy who is obsessed with cats):

Paper birthday party hats

Also on the mantle, were Sam’s photo books. We have quite a collection now from various stages of his first year, mostly thanks to my dad who is amazing & diligent at putting those together & getting them printed. Thanks, dad!

Sam's photo books on display

Lastly, I put together a fabric mobile to hang from the lights in the kitchen over the island (where we served up the food). It’s not the most beautiful thing I’ve made, but it worked.

Birthday fabric mobile

Here’s what his cake looked like. Nothing fancy, but tasty. I loved the cakes my mom made for us as kids for our birthdays and I was determined to make Sam a cake. Ended up just using a box mix, but it was colourful & tasty. The cake topper was purchased from Nova Natural toys. They have a ton of adorable toys! I purchased the full birthday ring, so as the years go by, we can add more ornaments to the topper. We chose a mini stacking ring to represent year one.

Sam's birthday cake

Someone thoroughly enjoyed their birthday cake, which is what matters most in the end. Happy birthday my sweet baby boy!

Sam eating birthday cake

Twelve whole months (and a bit)

Sam eating icingIn other words, one whole YEAR! We did it! We managed to keep our little baby boy alive for an entire year (with the much needed help of family, friends and God himself along the way). Phew!

We finally got him officially measured at the doctor’s office last week. Sam weighs 25lbs and is about 33″ long! A tall fellow indeed! He recently shot up in height and has lost a bit of weight and baby rolls now that he’s crawling non-stop.

Yes, crawling! Everywhere. All the time. Keeping us extra busy, baby proofing and preventing big accidents (the little ones happen about five times a day & that’s ok). He’s also showing interest in trying stairs and pulling himself up into a standing position against furniture. Current fav thing is being chased around the living room, as long as you’re crawling too.

Sam and daddy eating icingHis eating frustrations have improved slightly. We try to give him lots of finger food options at each meal and snack time. He’s getting much better at feeding himself. We’re also starting to experiment with drinking from a cup. Not a sippy cup, just a little regular cup. We recently discovered that he loves yogurt fruit smoothies & happily drinks them from his cup. Oh and he’s just started using a straw.

Sam loves eating pork chops and some ground beef dishes (meat loaf, chili). Yogurt is still at the top of the food list though. He’s finally getting into eating cheese, which he likes shredded, and raisins. He pretty much wants to try anything that you put in your own mouth. Needless to say, it makes you think a lot about what you’re eating.

Current fav activity is sorting. Sam has been doing this for months actually, but it’s definitely a part of the daily routine Icing lipsnow. He sorts the videos, books, sketchbooks, his box of greeting cards, the laundry basket full of diapers, and his kleenex box full of fabric scraps. Give him a pile of “things” and he enjoys picking up each item and sorting them into new piles.

He finally has a book he’s in love with that isn’t cat themed! The current ultimate fav book is Moo, Moo Brown Cow! Have You Any Milk? by Phillis Gershator. He still enjoys his kitty books though. We recently discovered a series by Sam Llyod featuring a cat named Mr. Pusskins.

Sam’s enjoyment of Taylor Swift has continued to dominate his music selection these days. Marcus has even starting watching Taylor Swift music videos with Sam while I take my evening shower. So cute. Other entertainment has come in the form of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with Sam sucking on his blankiedaddy and Vampire Diaries with mommy. It’s become a bit of a late afternoon tradition. Quiet cuddles on the couch together while we veg a bit.

The need for an afternoon couch veg session came about last month, when Sam started only napping for 20-30min in the afternoon, followed by 15-30min of intense screaming. Nothing we did could calm him down or get him back to sleep. On a whim and out of complete frustration (I’d just totally given up one day), I sat down on the couch with screaming Sam in my arms and turned on the television. He settled down in about 30 seconds and sat quietly, snuggled in my arms. So now we sit together and watch a little something after nap time (he doesn’t do the scream fest much anymore, but still seems to enjoy the cuddle time).

Naps continue to be a bit chaotic right now. We’re pretty sure Sam eating in kitchenhe’s starting the transition to one nap a day. Unfortunately, his longest & best nap is in the morning, which makes for some long days. Here’s hoping that over time we can get his nap time to fall a bit more mid-day.

(With this one year milestone reached, I’m afraid I might disappoint some folks by saying that I won’t be continuing with the monthly Sam updates. Periodic updates are sure to follow, and photos from time to time. Thanks for reading along and watching Sam grow & develop over the past twelve months. It has been a pleasure to share it all with you here, my virtual baby book.)

A year like no other

Sarah and Sam with embroidery hoop
Photo courtesy of Scott Frank
Of course, no year is really like any other. How could it be? Life keeps changing and we keep changing with it. Even if we don’t want to, life has a way of changing us.

Let’s see… this year we had our first baby, cared for & protected that precious little life, and along the way, been constantly changed by every experience that being a parent brings. I feel like I would barely recognize the person I was and the way we lived life before Sam was born. I’m still in there, that crafty, creative, smart, common sense woman who likes to organize & sort, sew & crochet. The big difference is where I put my energy, love, dedication and every waking thought.

I’ve let some things go because compared to Sam, they don’t matter nearly as much. The house isn’t so clean & organized these days. Paper work & filing are stacking up. It will get done one day. I don’t make & list as much new product in my Etsy shop. Craft show applications were ignored entirely this year. I do less visiting with friends. Christmas cards & letters weren’t sent. Craft projects are small & quick and I readily acknowledge & abandon ones that will not realistically get done. Cooking is simple. Lots of things are frozen, to be thawed for even easier dinners a few weeks down the road. Time to shave my legs and paint my nails? Only on super rare and special occasions. A bath? Don’t even remember the last time that happened.

Expectations. That’s the second biggest thing I’ve had to let go of. I think every parent faces that. For us, trying to keep things simple has been the key in dealing with letting go of expectations. You can only do so much in one day, plain & simple. That bit of rest you get at night, isn’t worth sacrificing so that the kitchen will be clean or the laundry folded.

The biggest thing I’ve had to let go of is planning, scheduling, having things be somewhat predictable, and regular. As soon as you think that you & baby have established some sort of routine, he changes, then your life has to change with it. As soon as you think that you can rely on some behavior or schedule, everything falls apart. It’s not all bad and it’s not all good, certainly, but the greatest challenge in being a parent has been learning to be crazy flexible and patient with the whole process. I still have my moments, where I rage inside against the new change, big or small. Sam and I get frustrated with each other during these times and then somehow, you just have to keep on trucking forward. I’m not a perfect parent, far from it. I look at friends in great wonder sometimes at just how they have the patience, love, & positivity, that feels lacking in me. I’m pretty sure, though, that every parent has their moments.

Would I go back to the way things were before baby? Absolutely not. One look into that chubby, smiling face, with big eyes longing to discover the world, is the only reminder you need of why you will accept, perhaps even embrace, all the change & transformation.

This post was supposed to be a year in review. What we accomplished, how it compared to others, the ups & downs. It’s not the post I set out to write, but it certainly encompasses our entire year. What did I do this year? I became a mom.

Christmas past & present

Sam's First Christmas ornament

Just now beginning to catch up on things following all the Christmas craziness. I keep thinking back to what last December was like for us. I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, tired, uncomfortable, anxious to welcome our little babe into the world. My physical condition forced me to simplify & be patient. The sadness of celebrating our first Christmas last year without my brother Blake was an additional element that brought a lot of reflection & peace with my own life.

This year was packed with a lot more activity, expectations, long days & nights, less time to sit & enjoy the true meaning & purpose of the season. Although I do love visiting with family, and enjoyed seeing Sam spend time with everyone, I felt a bit “done” by the time Christmas Eve rolled around (and we still had multiple days of “Christmas” celebrating left). It didn’t help either, that by Boxing Day, baby boy had come down with a fever, wasn’t sleeping well, and clearly not feeling good at all.

I feel a bit bad that I’m lamenting a Christmas spent with family, tasty food, wonderful gifts & such, when so many people don’t experience even a bit of that. But I can’t help but feel that this year, I somehow missed out on the feeling of Christmas. I lost my way at some point during the month. I feel even worse, since this was Sam’s very first Christmas, a truly special moment that I wished I could have been more present in.

I’m tired. Confused. There’s just too many changes going on with baby boy right now (trouble sleeping & nursing, horrible crying spells). I really don’t know what to make of it all. It’s definitely not feeling like the happiest time of year. Actually it all feels a bit empty.

I think about it every year, simplifying Christmas. We’ve made some small steps towards this, but still somehow, get sucked back into it all. Shauna and I came across a great post from Red and Honey blog about five ways to simplify Christmas. Of course, we read this at the beginning of December (a bit too late to attempt this year). I want to keep it mind though, for next year. It seems like it will become even more important as Sam gets older.

Le sigh. Le very big sigh.

Feels like such a downer blog post. Especially about Christmas. Sorry. I hope that you had some truly joyful moments this season and were touched by the warmth of Christmas where ever you found yourself this year.