Christmas Traditions?

Conor’s first Christmas is quickly approaching and the idea of creating everlasting Christmas traditions has been on mind. I don’t really remember us having a ton of Christmas traditions growing up. There were some activities that were always a constant..

  • When we decorated the tree we had to lay tinsel one strand at a time.  
  •  As we decorated we put on a Nat King Cole Christmas album that my Mom had as a girl, and listened to “I’m the Happiest Christmas tree”  
  • We did not open any presents until Christmas morning
  • When we came downstairs Christmas morning (as a group, there was no pre-entry into the living room allowed), after gushing over what Santa left, we then did stockings while Dad got into position with his supply of garbage bags.
  • Then the remainder of the morning my Dad handed out one present to everyone, and then we all opened together. Putting our wrapping in the bag, and moved on to the next.

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    Conor’s First Christmas

As I write these, I see that they aren’t so much “tradition” as they were protocol. I loved it though, and I have so many happy memories. I seemed to have carried on these “traditions” with R. Minus the tinsel… because, nobody does tinsel anymore.

This year we have made sure to have some photos taken to document the occasion. They turned out beautifully.

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Our sleepy little elf

I think we will make this an annual tradition of having photos taken around this time of year.

I have also been working on a stocking for Conor, so that he will have a special stocking that he an use year after year. R was of the opinion that I should buy a really nice one. I prefer to torture myself, so have been making him one. If it doesn’t turn out I’ll be buying one at a perfect time for discounts.

I thought an annual picture with Santa is a great tradition, and as parents I think we are contractually obligated. So, yesterday we decided to head out to the mall to get the first annual picture with Santa.  We thought we were smart arriving before the stores opened, as I noticed Santa was going to be taking pictures during that time too. Apparently not so smart, as half of the city evidently had the same idea.  We spent the next hour and a half in line, watching parents corral their kids, do their children’s hair and hearing screaming children as they made their way to visit the big man.

Conor promptly fell asleep in line. R kept giving me “the look”, and suggested that maybe we come back another time. I explained to him any other time would be just as busy, and we need to get this done or we are essentially bad parents. After meandering through Santa’s forest for over an hour an a half, with the sounds of Goldfish Crackers crunching below my feet.. I was starting to wish we had opted to come back.  Crossing the wooden foot bridge to the throne area (does Santa sit on a throne?), I caught a glimpse of the man of the hour. My heart sank a bit. From the side I could see his real beard beneath his fake beard, and he just wasn’t the Santa I was hoping to have. I turned to R and said “Seriously?”. R laughed and said, “I’m sure it looks different on camera and from a front angle”.

Luckily he was right. We tried and tried to wake Conor up, but when he is out, he is out. No matter how hard the elf lady jingled her bells or yelled out his name.. nothing. We did get a big yawn, a one eyed glance and then back to sleep. I was also pressured into buying the various packages that they offer. I now own about 50 wallet sizes, a number of 5×7 and 8 x10,  and R and I each have a key chain of this magical moment.

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The magical moment. We were all exhausted. 

So far, we know Santa photo will be an annual tradition. I’ll have to have them done in early November when the lines aren’t horrible. I may scale back on the package!

I know that we’ll hang our stockings and do the cookies for Santa thing, read the night before Christmas etc.

What other traditions are there? I’d love to hear what traditions you share with your families.

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of An Accidental Co-Sleeper

Some how it has happened. We went from being anti co-sleepers to occasional co-sleepers to it becoming more regular occurrence. How did this happen?  We (me) did all of the research prior to Conor’s arrival, and our plan was to make sure we establish a firm routine of him sleeping in the bassinet.  We started off great, but then as his voracious appetite grew and his love of cuddles increased… the little man has found his way into our bed more regularly.

In an effort to share the “overnight” duties, we have Conor’s bassinet set up in the spare room rather than in the nursery or our primary bedroom.  It allows him to sleep in the same room as us in his bassinet, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and just about every other source out there. Our routine has been to alternate who is sleeping in the spare room so that they other can enjoy an evening of undisturbed sleep. I have returned to work, so Sunday to Thursday R takes the night shift and I take over Friday and Saturday night. It has been working very well.. except for the fact that the bassinet is getting less use than we intended.

Here is a list that Whattoexpect.com wrote regarding the pros and cons of co-sleeping

We notice that Conor has a longer, less interrupted sleep when he is with one of us and it is much easier to feed him and get him back to sleep when we co-sleep.  There is also a bit of selfishness on my part.. I love the baby cuddles.  We take all of the precautions, he doesn’t sleep under covers, he is on a flat surface away from pillows and every other “no no” that is on the list now for baby sleeping. R is already worried about how we will get him to transition to a crib if we are already starting this routine. That being said, Conor co-slept with R last night. So obviously necessity outweighs practicality sometimes. We aren’t able to co-sleep with him in our communal bed.. we co-sleep with 4 dogs. Maybe this was a foreshadow of what was to come. lol

So our goal this week.. become more diligent in putting Conor to sleep in his own bed. Let’s see how long that lasts.

Thoughts on co-sleeping? Would love to hear them..

 

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First Halloween

Even though Conor is only a month old, I felt like I would be a bad Daddy if I didn’t celebrate his first Halloween.  R took Conor out for the day Sunday to run errands and visit his cousins Aaliyah and Maxim and Auntie Erika. This time allowed me to dip into the fabric stash and make the little man a Halloween costume.  This year he was a Garden Gnome!! I chose this because well its cute.. and also Garden Gnomes are rather stationary, kind of like Conor.

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He was pretty cuddly and irresistible 

It wasn’t so difficult.  First I used the red felt to make both his hat and his boots.  The key is to measure the circumference of his head, create a tall cone and then sew the straight edge and turn it right side out.  The tutorial I followed is here. It is very good to give you a base to work from and can be used for any size.

Now everything else I basically made up.  I sewed his blue jacket, and didn’t have yellow buttons so I painted buttons to look a bit more magical. I used a soft fleece for his jacket and sewed it in a size that was about twice what he needed. This allowed me enough room to belt the jacket and create the Gnomey over sized coat.

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The finished product. 

Rather than sewing pants, I opted to use a pair of pants that currently fit Conor.  I could have made him pants.. but the reality.. they are just pants, use what you have.

I made a basic black belt  by sewing black fabric into a rectangle, and made it about 4 inches longer than what Conor’s waist is, and added Velcro for the closure. This was so that I could adjust according to his waist etc as needed. I then embellished the belt with yellow felt to create the buckle. I cut a square the same height as the width of the belt, then folded it in half and cut out the middle. (like making a paper snow flake). Rather than sewing it on I hot glued it.  That is what is great about using felt, it glues really well. Technically the hat could have been glued too rather than sewed.

I wasn’t going to buy boots and paint them, and well.. he is only a month old, he doesn’t walk.  So I used the same red felt that I made the hat with, and created his red booties.

I had white faux fur that the fabric store called “rabbit fur”. I used that to make the beard and eyebrows.  The great thing about the beard is that once I hand stitched each end to the red hat, the beard actually becomes the chin strap to hold the hat on.  I opted to hot glue rectangles of the fur on to the hat to act as Gnome eyebrows.

That was it!  Easy peasy. It probably took me an hour and a half…

We only went trick or treating to a couple of houses, just to say we did. He went to Auntie Jenn’s house and our other neighbours.  Can’t wait until next year, he’ll be a year old and we can hit a few more houses!!

Happy Halloween!!

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Back to Work Tomorrow…

Tomorrow I return to work, after the most amazing 3 weeks of my life.  Three weeks of baby snuggles, a full heart and feeling as though everything you have dreamed of has finally all come true.

It is hard to believe that just a few weeks ago I was anxious knowing that I would be out of the workplace for 3 weeks.  Now, I’m most anxious knowing that I’m leaving Conor and that I might miss something.  He and I have developed a routine, a rhythm and a connection that I can’t explain.  I know his every squeak, noise and when he’s upset he immediatly settles when placed in my arms.  I was worried that it might be a difficult transition of him, that it was going to be difficult for R to adjust to being a stay at home Dad.  Then tonight after fighting sleep, I went into Conor’s room and saw him sound asleep on R’s chest and knew immediately everything was going to be ok.

img_2437This is going to be a great opportunity of R.  He is going to get to experience the joy and fun that I have.

Our little monkey is amazing, he is already wise beyond his age (all three weeks of it). When snuggled up with one of his Dad’s I just see his future, the chance to give him every opportunity, and when he stumbles he has two loving Dad’s to pick him up and cheer him on to keep going.

I knew we always wanted to be parents, but now I completely understand the unconditional love, the feeling that you want everything for your child and the shift from your needs being first to suddenly your needs are those of your child.  Parenthood is amazing, and we are rocking this.

Yes I return to work tomorrow, but everything is going to be ok. I’m letting go of my need to handle everything and realize that this is a great opportunity for Conor and R to really bond.  All is good. Back to work tomorrow.. thank goodness for FaceTime, texts and telephone calls!

 

 

 

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It’s A Boy!!! We Are Now Dads!!

Yes! We are officially Dad’s to an amazing little boy, born September 29, 2016 and placed in our arms October 1, 2016.  We are Fathers to Conor Robert William, born at 7 lbs 8oz.

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Conor Robert William Born September 29, 2016

Many of you have likely noticed I stopped blogging back in July.. the reason is that we found out that we were selected by a birth Mom.  I wasn’t entirely confident that I could continue to blog about our adoption experience without hinting that we were successful.  So I opted to stay away on line.  On July 4, 2016 while Rob and I were at the lake, he got a call on his cell phone.  I was doing dishes at the time, and heard Rob answer his phone and suddenly become very official.  He then extended his hand to me and asking me to put his cell on speaker phone.  I recognized the number immediately.. it was Adoption Options.  It was THE call.

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Such an angel

On the other end was one of the Adoption Counsellors letting us know that a birth mother had reviewed our profile and wanted to meet us.  She began to give us the details about the birth mother and she sounded perfect. After a half an hour on the line, we ended the call with all of the details about our birth mom and the due date of our potential future child.. September 16, 2016.  After the call we both looked at each other and said, “This is it.. we are going to be Dads”.  It seemed surreal, it was hard to wrap my head around.  We had waited 9 months, and we were actually getting the call!!

Writing this almost 4 months after “the call”, it is still hard to believe.

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Baby snoozes

I remember that immediately after the call I went to my bag and pulled out my adoption binder.  I was going into planning mode.  We were going to meet our birth mother on July 11th.  The anxiety began to kick in. This meeting was an opportunity for her to meet us, and decide if she wanted to move forward after meeting us in person. That week I felt like I was walking on clouds, wanting to tell anyone that would listen and at the same time cognicent that we had to meet the person that could change our lives forever and hopefully not “mess it up”.

Fast forward to July 11th. In typical fashion, R and I arrived a half an hour early for our meeting.  We were both nervous beyond believe.  The thing that run through your mind prior to such a meeting are things such as “Don’t mess it up”, “What if we don’t live up to our profile?”, “This is the most important meeting of our lives”. When I’m nervous my bladder works over time.  I wore a path from the meeting room to the bathroom.  We were half an hour early and our birth mom was a half an hour late, due to construction. Then we heard the bell of the front door and my stomach dropped.  I grabbed R’s hand and said, “This is it”.  Our objective was to just be us, to just be who we are and to not try too hard. Our meeting was amazing. We spent a few hours talking and laughing.  Our birth mother is incredible.  She is intelligent, beautiful, funny and someone we really enjoy spending time with.conor-20-of-30

In this meeting we also found out that we were having a boy. We could actually plan!  Over the next few months, we continued to develop a relationship with our baby’s birth mother.  We texted regularly, went out for dinner, hung out at the Corn and Apple Festival.  It is unusual to have so much lead time, but for us it worked out very well.  It allowed us to develop a relationship. We selected his name Conor and his middle name William (after my Dad), our birth Mom chose Robert after her step father (but it worked so well for us too!).

Our 3 month build up to Conor’s birth turned into almost 4 months.. as he decided to come 12 days past his due date. image1Then on September 29th at 2:28 AM our little boy was born, just 364 days after our adoption file was officially approved. He was then placed in our arms on October 1st, and our lives were changed forever.

He has been a dream!  And we are loving every moment.  Just so glad that we can now reveal our secret to the world.

I can now blog again, and the blog will no longer be about a waiting couple.. it will be about two parents to an amazing little boy. A little boy that loves to eat…. he has already gained 2lbs in the last 3 weeks. Yikes!

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Nana and Papa meeting Conor for the first time (3 days old)

 

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One Year File Review

We are rapidly coming up on our one year file review this September.  It is hard to believe that nearly one year ago we were officially approved and placed in “the box”.  One year of waiting hasn’t been so bad actually.  Yes, there were times where we (me) become impatient, but generally I feel as though I have handled it well.

As our official file review is on September 30th, we have to complete the following items again:  Criminal Record Checks with finger prints for both R and myself and R’s Dad because he lives with us, medical reports (for each of us) and then an update to our home study.   Fun!  I have called and made appointments for each of our medical exams, and we are making the trip to the police department on the 25th to get fingerprinted.

Then we have to review our photos and such and determine if we are making any changes.  We won’t be making any changes to our profile package, it is strong and isn’t necessary for us to change anything at this time.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it is all worth it.  What we don’t want to happen is for us to get a match and baby is set to be placed in September, and our checks etc are not up to date.  That could delay the process.  With the adoption process, you need to have these up to date up past the 21 day period past placement.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of work for R because I schedule his appointments and he just shows up.  I think I need an assistant too!

I re-read my blog post On The Edge of the Box .  It was great to reflect back on that period last year, and remember all of the nervousness and excitement associated with awaiting approval.  The excitement still exists, but for very different reasons.  Now, we are excited because you just never know when you will get the call that you have been matched and selected.

What will be even more challenging is that when that happens, I won’t be sharing until after we have had our child for 3 weeks.  I think my plan will be to write a series of unpublished blogs during that time to document that phase… then when we can share, I will publish to the world!

 

 

 

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Where have I been???

It has been a month since I last blogged. Life has just been busy in terms of work and well.. summer is here so there are so many more activities.

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Beautiful lake view on a run

I took some time last week to get away to the lake. It was a bit of an experiment really. I generally don’t enjoy spending a lot of time by myself. I usually last a day or so and then begin to get very bored. It actually worked out very well, and I totally enjoyed my time.

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On yet another walk with the dogs

It was an opportunity to recharge my batteries, spend time reading, running and a ton of walks.  I brought two of the dogs with me so it was nice because I had no choice but to walk them, which felt like nearly every hour during the day.

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Beautiful lake view on a run

After a very busy few weeks at work, it was a fantastic choice on my part to get away.  R came up to the lake on Canada Day morning and spent the weekend. My ladies Jodi and Jenn also came up and stayed at another campsite at the lake, so it made for a very fun weekend and Canada Day.

There isn’t any news that we can report on the adoption front. We continue to wait and keep our fingers crossed. On September 30th is our 1 year file update and review. That will be our time to decide if/how we would like to update our photos, maybe change our Dear birth parent letter, and then we also have to get updated criminal record checks and a home study update. In terms of the length of wait we have had we are still early in the waiting process for a match. There are many people that have been waiting much longer.  The universe will deliver for us though.

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Start of the Manitoba Marathon

I recently completed the Manitoba Half Marathon at the end of June of Father’s Day. It was a very humid and hot run, but despite that I still managed to get a person best time. I’ll chock that up as an accomplishment. I have 4 or 5 more races scheduled this summer and will be running another half marathon in the Fire and Paramedics Half Marathon in October! It’ll be a good way to end the season, and even better that there will be no shortage of paramedics around in case I collapse. My goal is to once again get a personal best. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to be posting amazing times, I just want to see that I am improving with every race.

Now that things have calmed down a bit, I am also hoping to get more regular with my blogging. I missed it!

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Apologies Aren’t Necessary..

An interesting phenomenon is starting to happen. I’ve noticed that as people are either making their pregnancy announcements or introducing their new baby… I am getting a look.

The look is almost apologetic in nature, or as if to say.. “this must be hard for you, given you are waiting and all”.  Others seem to be waiting for a dramatic flood of tears as I flop myself down and wail “When’s it my turn? Where is my baby?”. It won’t happen. I’m not Susan Lucci.

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It is absolutely hard to hear when others are adding to their family.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some version of the “When is it my turn?” thought. It doesn’t take away, however, from the joy I get seeing others so happy.

In an ideal world someone would step forward and say, “hey I’ll carry your baby for you”.  Just think how much easier that would be than constantly worrying that I’ll miss a call, or checking my phone because I swear I felt it vibrate.

Pregnancy announcements and new babies are amazing.  I can handle it. I can feel happy for you.  I have not hit the tantrum phase yet, and I will not grab your baby and run. lol.

You just have to surrender to the universe, put out the good thoughts and know that the baby you are meant to love is possibly being created at this very moment.  It could be anytime, it could be in six years.

I also have to realize it may also not happen.  Whatever the scenario, R and I have a happy life.  Being parents would just add to that happiness. Our relationship is not dependent on whether or not we have a child.  We have built a strong foundation of nearly 13 years together.  That foundation gives us the strength to wait.

For others, the frustration of trying to conceive or work through the adoption process can add a lot of stress to the relationship.. not everyone has the foundation we do to weather the storm.

We are good.  You can tell me if you are expecting… I can handle it.

 

 

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Summer Time and the Living is Easy…

I appeared to have taken a month-long hiatus from blogging. Where does the time go? Before you ask.. no there hasn’t been any movement on the adoption front.  Still waiting for a match…

Meanwhile, we are in full summer mode already! We’ve set up our seasonal spot at the lake and have already spent two weekends away.  It is wonderful! Getting a new camper has changed the entire summer experience.

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Part of the main living space in the camper.

Even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, I can still enjoy a relaxing weekend away without being cold, miserable and bored. The space is also much better to blog in, so expect more frequent entries this summer.

This year there are so many more kids on our bay at the lake too. The road is covered in chalk drawings, kids racing around on bikes and a few of the couples we met last summer are showing up with new additions to their family.

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Seating for two.. and eventually 3.

It is great to see and we know we’ll join that club someday soon. R and I don’t necessarily talk about it while we are there, we just have to share a glance or a smile to know that the other is thinking the same thing, “I can’t wait to share this with our baby”.

This summer I am once again focusing on running.  I’m already completed a 15 km race and a couple 5 km.  I have two half-marathons and 4 other races before fall.  My first half marathon this year is on Father’s Day… so it will be a nice

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My running partner in crime Jodi and I after finishing our 15 km race.

distraction to focus on crossing a finish line alive, rather than sulking about the passing of another Father’s Day without being a father.

This summer will  be chocked full of fun, relaxation and adventures! Let the fun begin.

It will also help me to stop checking my phone to see if it still works because we haven’t received a call from the adoption agency yet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inclusion Feels Good

What does one do while they continue to wait for the call?  Well window shop of course.

Walking around the stores and even on line, you see the adorable clothes available.  Many of them have slogans like “I love my Dad” or “I love my Mom”.  Like most prospective parents, your heart kind of melts as you imagine your child wearing the onesie declaring their love for you (yes they don’t have a choice in the matter, but that is a different story).

In our particular situation, we don’t really have many options.  I look at some of these items and think, “well maybe I love my Dad would work, or I could add an S at the end with a marker”.

ilovemy-dads-mockup-rabbit-skins-rs2004-4x4_2_2048x2048Then something cool popped up in my social feed last night.  A new clothing line for LGBT parents.  Recently launched by the brother-in-law of Colton Haynes, Gayby is a site where LGBT parents can find cute clothes with slogans that are geared towards same-sex parent families.

For those that are not a part of a minority group, it can be difficult to understand what it is like to see a product or commercial for the first time that reflects you. It was like the first time I saw a real wedding card for a same-sex couple in a store.  I just stared at it, and the feeling of being represented felt so good.  You no longer had to modify an existing card using white out and markers!

The first clothing item I saw immediately spoke to me, given that we are pursuing open adoption and it is important for us that our child has a relationship and healthy awareness of their birth mother.

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For those of us going through open adoption, this shirt is going to be a must have.

Gayby is definitely a site that I will be making some purchases from.

Inclusion feels so good! Can’t wait to see more companies bring products and services to the main stream that are inclusive of all of our diversity.

Posted in Activities, All things Baby, Life, Our Journey, Products I Love | 5 Comments