Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adoption Seminar Recap

Okay, so I meant to post about this a while back but it was so big and overwhelming so I didn't. I'm not sure how much to say but if you are interested in what an adoption seminar is, let me tell you a bit! By the way, some random pictures throughout to keep you entertained.

In order to adopt in BC, the government requires a certain number of hours of education about adoption. We would have done it had it been required of us or not but that is why they have these specific seminars.
(Kai and I going to Toy Story 3, his first movie! He loved it and asked if we could go back in 2 days. He was bored with all the previews and said he found the chair he was sitting in `confusing'. Yes, that is his excited face.)

It was three long days, 8am-4:30pm, of non stop listening. It was exhausting. There were all kinds of speakers. Social workers, counselors, adoptees of all ages and experiences, birth mothers, adoptive parents, international social workers etc. It was informative, emotional and affirming.
Gary and I are going to be putting together a little letter to give to our families and friends in order that they might know best how to support us, our new child, and our current children in this journey. For example, a couple of things we will touch on are appropriate terminology (ex. birth mom/ birth grandparents etc), our desire for openness and what that looks like, and how we will not be handing our child around to everyone at first. We will hopefully have a lot of time of just Gary and I holding our baby and forming a bond and healthy attachment. In my mind, I am looking so forward to just holding the little one (likely in the bjorn as the boys will need me!) for hours and hours. Or, if the baby is older, in the Ergo:)
I think that a few things that stick out are the following:
1. How selfless and brave birth mommas are
2. How awesome open adoption is. They had given examples of starting a book after the first chapter or coming into a movie 10 minutes late...not knowing what happened in the beginning affected the whole experience. It might seem hard for all the parents involved but it's not for us, it's for the child.
3. What an open adoption might look like. They are all so different. For example, birth mom could be like an aunt that you see 4 times/year or they could be someone you write to once a year or they could be someone that comes and visits every month or more. It's all decided by all parents involved.
4. I really, really feel for those that are dealing with infertility. For us, adoption was a first choice for our third child (although really `encouraged' by me having Graves' Disease). I am so thankful that I was able to experience pregnancy, labour, pushing, C-section, breastfeeding and all that jazz.
There are going to be a few things that are going to drive me nuts already, I know it! However, I know I approach things by educating so hopefully I do so nicely:)

The sort of things that have bothered me a little so far are:
1. People assuming we are adopting to have a girl!!!! If you said this, don't feel bad. People I know and love say this all the time! I just can't believe how many times I've heard it (three times yesterday). Maybe I've even said it to someone before?! We want a baby/child. The gender does not matter. I don't know why this bothers me so much. Maybe because I was in a family of 5 girls and there were always comments about how my dad must've kept trying for a boy. Made. Us. Mad. I know some people do choose what gender they would like through adoption, but for me, it really doesn't matter. I feel like if I said I wanted a girl, it would be saying to my boys that they weren't good enough or something. Does that make sense?
2. When I say that we are adopting, some people's first response is `Why?' (with a look of confusion not interest). It's okay to ask why, but the first question?

Things that I know will come up and bother me:
1. People asking about the `real parents'. The child will have two sets of real parents. We are one of them.
2. People asking if Kai and Koen are his/her real brothers. Yes, they will be his/her real brothers. And they will be awesome brothers too.

If you have any questions, please ask. I won't get mad, I promise:)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reading Together

Just a few pictures of the boys! Let's see what's new with each of them:
Koen: Started eating using a fork. Loves pointing to my eyes, nose, mouth, and belly while he says the words and giggles. Nose sounds like `No' and it's cute. The adorable little curl on his head is now gone. I'm still growing his hair out though..until someone asks how old my little girl is:)
The boys love each other so much. They only want to go somewhere if the other one is going. They giggle and dance together in the van. It's not always giggles though. Koen will go up to Kai and take Kai's favourite toy and run away as fast as he can. Kind of funny. He's had 3 time outs so far. Each time I say `No Tv' or whatever he has been playing with. Koen replies with `No' and shakes his head (I think he gets it) and then we hug. It's very cute. I think he's learned that part (what to do in time out) well from his brother.
(He's got 4 more teeth on the way, one more molar has poked through!)

(Do you see how he sucks in his cheeks? He makes sucking motions constantly. It's what he does instead of sucking his thumb...kind of interesting)
(`Cheese' face)
(Can you see that they are reading side by side?)
Kai: We went bike riding together and it was awesome. Did I also tell you that I ran and he biked the other day? He loves his independence on the bike (with training wheels) and is a little more brave than I would like him to be. He is getting over a cold and therefore is a little bit, um, cranky. I can't believe that in one month he will be 4! I'm getting excited to plan his party. I think he wants to have a hockey party but he also wants another car themed one so we will see...we'll either be playing hockey or racing cars:) His hair has changed from coarse porcupine hair to soft flat hair. So strange!

(Arms around eachother without fighting!! It only took 17 months!)

Gary and I may have gone to a couple of open houses this weekend. It was not a good idea because the houses were worth about $150,000 MORE than ours. Made ours look so little. Oh well, we'll soon be going on holidays and when we come back our house will look nice and comfy again:) I just feel a little claustrophobic with all the billions of homes in our area. It was not like this 4 years ago when we moved in. Also, it doesn't help that everyone in our life seems to be moving! I'm sure we'll stay here and just finish the basement suite. Sometime.
Three photo sessions and 4 weddings and then it's HOLIDAY time!! Woohoo, I'm so excited. Did I mention that we are photographing a wedding in Victoria? My sister Jackie and her husband Tyler are babysitting so we are spending the night. AWESOME.
AND just because it was a goal of mine...I RAN 5KM TODAY. GO ME. TAKE THAT, THYROID!

Love, Louise

Friday, June 25, 2010


There is another post below but I just need to share this prayer request.
This is the family that I offered to take pictures of a few weeks ago. The kids attend the school that we teach at. Sheila, this beautiful, young mom, was diagnosed with terminal cancer almost two months ago. She is a private person so I won't post any more of the pictures that I took but sometimes it helps to have a picture to go with a prayer request. She has `too many tumours to count' according to her doctors and has been doing so well up until the past few days. She is now in a huge amount of pain. I do know in some sense what this family is going through as I had to watch my mom go through this. So, if you're about to say some prayers tonight, please pray for Sheila and her beautiful family.
Love, Louise

Two Things To Check Out

1. My dad is taking his seadoo around the Queen Charlotte Islands. He went up to Alaska three years ago but couldn't do the Charlotte's at that time due to the weather. He has 3 weeks set aside to do it so that he can take his time depending on the weather. I would say that this isn't the safest trip but my dad is an adventurer at heart. I think this is one of the last thing on `his list'...besides getting his pilot's license. I will never fly with him. That's another story:) You can follow his journey, if you want, at `Jack's Adventure' on the side bar. He better be careful because I can't really have anything happen to him. Kai bear needs his Opi!!

2. We recently hired a friend/graphic designer/photographer to create a new logo and look for GC Photography. For Gary and I, it was important to get a fresh perspective, full of creativity, to do this. We had dabbled in it ourselves and needed a professional :) Check out Frances' blog entry about how the process went. It was really fun for us! Here I am dorkily (pretend it's a word) showing off our new DVD covers at midnight last night. Gary's almost on holidays so I have someone to hang out with til midnight each night!

PS My shirt is not purposely matching the covers.
I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!
Love, Louise
PS I just need to tell you one more time how I am so excited that George is doing so well, he was walking a few days ago!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Too nice. So beautiful.

Look at the beautiful roses I was given. Twenty long stemmed roses from Ecuador (I think that's what he said). I had done some photos as a gift and they gave me these amazing flowers. Too nice. So beautiful.
And Kai's Preschool Sports Day. They got a ribbon after each `race'. It wasn't even race-like, they had maybe 3 kids go at a time. All of us dorky parents sat at the finish line with our cameras and video cameras. Anyone watching would think we're so ridiculous...
I found out that Kai's teacher next year is the mother of two girls that I have taught in the past. Very cool.

I've realized over the past couple of weeks that I'm working too much right now. We are not accepting any more photo shoots for 2010. Yes, the year. We still have at least 2 shoots every week until the end of September and then that's it! It's hard because I don't know when the baby will be joining our home so I don't want to book too much for the fall (when we are considered `active' on the adoption wait list). If I've done your photos or are doing them soon, don't feel guilty about it, I just love it so much! However, I also love my kids and the idea of summer holidays. I've been doing about 4 shoots per week which is just too much! I think I won't feel so overwhelmed once Gary is actually home and I can work during the daytime, more than just the one to two hour nap period. Maybe then I won't have to work until 11pm each night. Gary says take a break but if I do, it will just pile up. I am not a `let it pile up' kind of girl. I'm a `I can't sleep until everything on my list is done!' kind of girl.

I booked our cabins today and I'm really excited about it. Woohoo for Kananaskis and Drumheller! Hoping and praying that our van behaves, that the weather is decent and that no one gets sick (really, just Koen..he gets it the worst). Oh, and I wrote most of my `Dear Birth parent' letter today. Have to add pictures and make it flow better but I think it's very `me'.
Have a lovely evening.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cuteness and Confusion

Check out the birthday video that my friend Tessa got from her husband. She is back at work and look what Simon put together for her:)

Kai has an invisible friend named `Nobody'. It is very confusing.
Nobody did it. Nobody is my friend. Nobody is upstairs. Nobody is biking with me. I don't know what that's called but it's really strange having a nothing be a something.

Cute pictures of Kai at his sports day will be up tomorrow. Seriously, a potato sack race? Also, my son may be `that' kid. You know, `that' kid that took up a lot of attention while I was teaching. Yup, my son. By the way, don't mean `that' kid in a bad way just in a `Oh boy, he will tire out his teachers!' kind of way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hungry Hippos

I feel like there is so much to blog about and I like everything nice and organized, but, I'm thinking this is going to have to be a modge podge of stuff.
1. Father's Day Celebrations: Gary got himself a snazzy new pair of hiking boots. Of course he had to get the top of the line ones, even after I pointed out a pair that was on sale:) We went to Aldergrove Lake with my family and then off to Gary's parents for a pizza dinner. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, father (who is heading out on a wild adventure on Friday) and father in law.
(How could I not buy Hungry, Hungry Hippos from the garage sale?)
2. The kids are doing really well. Koen has a cold (boooooo) but is handling it okay so far. He is repeating all words and is so fun. He'll play with my belly and say `Belwy! Belwy!' He likes pointing out body parts. The other day I said, `Koen, don't touch the blinds or you'll have to go to time out!' (kind of jokingly). Koen ran off to time out and sat there fake crying. It was pretty hilarious. He sounded just like Kai. Kai is a biking machine and a puzzle lover. He is becoming more and more helpful all the time with his little brother and it's beautiful to see.
(Opi and Nana Jo with the kiddos)
3. We had our first (of 6) social worker visits today. We have to go out to Abbotsford, without the kids, to go to these meetings. She will come to our house for one of those meetings to make sure that our house is a safe and loving home. She is nice and organized and easy to talk to. I didn't feel nervous but I did feel a bit awkward going over the `checklist' of what we were open to. We will have about one meeting per week (although she has a week of holidays and so do we) so we should finish mid August. The big and daunting task it to make our `Dear Birth Parent' letter. It is what the birth mother sees to pick their top choices of adoptive parents. It needs to include all we want to share about our family (who's in it, what we do together, our marriage etc) and parenting philosophy etc. Included are photos throughout and a photo portfolio, scrapbook style. Gary might even make a slideshow. I want to be honest but also show what kind of family we are, quite the task! There are a ton of waiting adoptive parents right now so I feel two different feelings about this. There is a lot of `competition' out there which could mean our wait will be sooooo long. Please don't take that term the wrong way, I don't know how else to say it. Secondly, I feel a bit of guilt about `taking' an opportunity away from another family to be parents for the first time. Lots of stuff. I also will be struggling with how much information to share with others. Whether we get picked, a child placed with us etc. There is a 30 day period in which the mother could choose to parent the child herself. That means we could have the baby in our home for a month and then the child would be returned to her birth momma. So, I will cross that bridge when we get to it but I'm not sure how much I will be sharing during that time!
(Jani, Doug and Sami)

I hope you have a wonderful day. It's nice to have Gary home a lot more now while the school is in the exam period!!
Love, Louise

Sunday, June 20, 2010

George Out of ICU

***UPDATE: George is eating soft food and is out of ICU. He is doing so incredibly well!!***

George (best friend's `little' brother) came off of the ventilator yesterday. He is doing really well considering what he has gone through. Rejection could still set in the next few days and then the drugs will need to be tweaked etc. Could be out of ICU in a couple of days. Way to go, George!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I just need to get out a few thoughts but will have more on our Father's Day festivities and adoption seminar later.
I am so emotional these past few days. Just feeling a lot.
1. George got his transplant. Obviously not out of the woods yet but he finally was able to receive the lungs he has prayed for for so long. I just feel for their family in this roller coaster and for the donor's family.
2. I took pictures for a young mom who has terminal cancer (who is so beautiful and is doing amazingly well and surprising all the doctors. She has a wonderful family.). While editing the pictures, it just brought back a ton of emotions in regards to my mom and how I would've loved to have had pictures with her like that. Mom didn't like getting her picture taken:) Just brought back the feelings of what I felt like when we were told that mom didn't have long to live. Just tough stuff.
3. Adoption. Wow. This is huge in my heart right now. I just feel for all birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees. I feel a mass mix of emotions for all of them/us. I seriously feel like I want to adopt more than once. However, I know that I need to be realistic and you never know until you go through with it. Right? Like someone who says they want four kids and then realize what one is like. There was one family that spoke to us at the seminar and they had three biological kids and then adopted a sibling set of 4 AND she was my age! Wow. I'm starting to feel a bit impatient and we still have a few months left to go before we are even `active'. I really have a desire to have another baby/child in our home soon. I do completely trust God's timing though so I'll leave it in his hands. We start our home study on Monday and are def. moving faster than anyone else that was with us at the first seminar:) Tonight we watched `Blindside' which just made me cry some more:)
Have a wonderful night.
Love, Emotional Louise

Friday, June 18, 2010

George-Update Below

My best friend Lynette has a younger brother, George, and he has been on the double lung transplant waiting list for 18 months. He got the call this morning at 5am that there was a match for him. This evening they discovered that the lungs were not good enough and they were dealing with extreme disappointment. However, the doctors and nurses were able to get the donor lungs into good enough condition and he is off to the OR. Please pray for George, he will be in surgery for about 8-10 hours and could have perfectly awesome lungs tomorrow (after a tough recovery). I'm so scared/nervous/excited for their family.
George has new lungs in him!!! Unbelievable that it's finally happened! Now, he needs to work on breathing on his own (getting off of the ventilator) and we need to pray that the lungs are not rejected. Go, George, Go!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adoption Seminar-Updated

**Day two=super, duper emotionally exhausted. Tears for things beautiful and sad.**
*Did the first day and it went well. Missed my kiddos..only saw them for 2 hours today! Talking about adoption makes me want to adopt 5 babies right now!! Emotional. A little impatient. A lot excited. I'd say giddy:)*

It starts tomorrow! I'm actually really looking forward to it. The one hard part will be getting the kids sent off to family so early in the morning and having them be gone all day for 3 days in a row. I'm kind of nervous about the fact that we will be done everything in about 7 more weeks. Suddenly that seems so soon. I know it could be a whole long time after that but the idea that we could have a baby in a few months is exciting/scary!

Monday, June 14, 2010


First off...just wanted to clarify that we are not potty training Koen. He goes to the bathroom door and says `Pee! Pee!' several times a day. So, we put him on just because he likes it and sometimes he actually pees. We waited until Kai was 2.5 years old and that worked very well! I think this age, 17 months, is where they stop being a baby and start being little boys. He just seems so grown up and is such a joy. Except for camping, but I'll get to that:)
Koen has been having a word explosion lately. It's adorable and he even says `cheese!' when he sees a camera. When we were camping, he said two words together, `No daddy' (when we told him to lay down). He's 26lbs and nice and chunky. People ask if I'm going to cut off the curl on top of his head...I'm not. I want to grow his hair longer in hopes that it will be curly:)
Koen loves kissing daddy because of the facial hair...he likes the tickles.
On Friday night, we tried camping. By camping I mean we set up our tent in my in laws back yard. Koen is the lightest sleeper in the world, if I open his door at night to check on him, he wakes up. So, I thought we would all go to bed at 8pm and Gary and I would just read. Didn't work. Kai was up until 10pm (latest he has ever been up) and Koen held on until 11:15pm. He just kept throwing his blankie out of the playpen and then crying for it. If we told him to lay down, he just said `No!'. I ended up singing`Take me out the the ballgame' over and over and just holding him until he fell asleep. One hour later, he woke up screaming. He was confused and freezing. Gary and Koen went into the house.
At 3am Kai woke up coughing and cold and said he wanted to go into the house. So, not a very good sleep! We have decided that instead of camping this summer, we will stay in cabins. That way, I can put Koen and Kai to bed and walk out of the door and let Koen cry a bit. Happy medium. Must book them. We don't really have time to `practice' camping again:)
Benefit of `camping' at the in laws is that they have a hot tub! I'm not sure how safe it is for Koen so we tried to keep his torso out of the water even though he kept trying to dive in...he LOVED it. It's not kept at a super hot temperature so I wasn't too worried.
The next day, Saturday, we had our final football game. We played against the first place team and it was close until the second half. Oh well, I felt like we all played well so that's a good way to end! Love my flag football team. I would say that we are very encouraging and supportive of each other and play at a perfectly competitive level. We're also the only team with a cooler full of baking rather than beer, although I would've loved a beer after the game!

Sunday was church, photo shoot at Williams Park, and then bbq at Dad and Joanne's. Good times.

Question of the day: I did not grow up with toy guns. I actually don't like them at all. Kai will grab a stick and say, `Ha, I killed you! You're dead!'. I don't think pretending to kill someone is a fun game to play and death is so serious. We don't joke about other serious matters with kids. Do four year old girls let their barbies have affairs or even have sex? Probably not. No matter how many times I talk to him, kids are doing it everywhere. Do I need to relax? Is there a better way to approach it?

Have a good day!
Love, Louise

Friday, June 11, 2010

Brotherly Love

Yes, blogging on a Friday. Only half as many people read blogs on the weekend but oh well! Should be a good weekend ahead as I've got the second round of football playoffs, a couple photo shots and then family bbq. We might also attempt camping in there too...just a one night trial to see how Koen does.
Caught this super cute moment of the boys reading together!! Kai read him his favourite book twice, what a good big brother!
Koen is starting to say so many new words per day and it's adorable! He loves saying `no' which is actually so helpful because then I know what he does or doesn't want. His new word on Tuesday may have been `boo-tee' while he shook it:)
How cute...just getting along!!!
I put Koen on the toilet before his bedtime diaper and so far he's peed on the toilet almost every time. He loves feeling like a big boy:) Would be awesome to have him out of diapers when we have our third. I never know how to say that part...`get our third' `adopt our next child' `when our baby comes'? We have our three day adoption seminar next week! Also, I've started thinking about baby names (if we have a newborn). Would love a name with K in the middle to keep the flow with the other boys. You know, like Micah or Luka or McKinley or something. If you think of something, let me know! The middle name would likely be in relation to the birth mom or she could choose it.
This was the slinky incident. Snapped in half and cut up Koen's face.
Great berry cupcakes. I made them with blueberries instead of blackberries because that is what I had in the freezer. Yummy but maybe a bit too sweet!
A terrible picture of pesto but I really think that if you like pesto you should make it. Follow any recipe, it is so super duper easy and versatile! I make mine with less oil than Gary would like and sometimes I use walnuts instead of pine nuts but really, you can do whatever you want. Basil and sun dried tomatoes....lovely combo!!
And now to show what the boys are really like together...

Have a great weekend everyone! By the way, GC Photography now has a new domain to make it a bit simpler: The old one will take you there but hopefully this shorter one will be easier to remember and look a little more professional. New logo and a bit fresher look coming soon, I'm excited!
Be safe.
Love, Louise

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Blessing of a Great Parent

Last night we attended the memorial of our friend's dad. It was a great service for remembering him, if you can call those kind of things `great'. One thing that stuck out to me was how similar our childhoods were. My friend and I both had parents that took us all over North America (driving and camping), boating, and just loving the outdoors. Both of us are now science teachers who love the outdoors and family time. Another thing that was mentioned was how supportive her dad was. Just being there. My mom was busy, with 5 kids and working part time, but she was there for us. There were times that I wished that she had attended some of my cross country meets or soccer games but she was working and I understood it. Also, when she asked if she should come, I would say, `Oh, it's okay, don't worry about it'. I think in my heart I was saying, `Please come!'. I think if my boys say that it doesn't matter, I'll go. I hope I do!! Our home was very loving and supportive but we didn't say `I love you' often enough. I knew I was loved but emotions weren't shared regularly (boy, my teenage years must have thrown them for a loop!! Super emotional!!!). Well, when my mom got sick, then we shared our thoughts and emotions a whole lot more. And here...some pictures of my mom. A truly great mother and wife.

You know how pictures just take you back? My mom was often found hemming or sewing some of our clothes but she always had time to involve us (that's Jan) in it.
My nap time with mom.
Playing outside at our old house. I did not inherit my mom's skinny genes. My sister Jackie fell out of the kitchen window. Five kids later and she was still 125lbs.
Camping and exploring. Lovely clothes, I know. Did people even care about clothes back then?
Welcoming baby girl #5!!! Like my mullet?
Mom always let me do her hair, even while breastfeeding a baby. As a kid I always wanted to be a teacher or a hairdresser. Just a note that she cloth diapered and breastfed us all. Thanks mom!
She didn't play with us but she read stories, biked, walked etc with us and was just present with us.
Who takes 5 kids camping?! Thumbs up to my mullet!
Celebrating 15 years of marriage in her Michelle Duggar type dress:)
Reading to my sister Jan...just good memories in that old house!! My dad made those beds and my nieces have them now:)
This picture above was on her memorial bulletin. It just captures that she loved life.
Getting ready for Christmas dinner. Mom busy in the kitchen, dad complaining that he has to cut up the turkey:)
Mom and dad...last fall together.

I feel so blessed to be a parent. I know what a huge job it is and I'm so thankful for the opportunity. I hope and pray that I will always be close to my boys. I hope that they are able to look back on their lives and say that they had a wonderful childhood (I realize I can't control and protect them from everything) and that they had pretty great parents too:)