It is done! And…snow…hmmm

Okay, I am so excited that I simply have to share this.  I finally finished the dress for Katrine’s solo.  I had to redo the white parts about three times and then discovered that the sequins looked bad sewn on so picked them off and glued each on individually but I am SOOO proud of it. Now, anyone know where is the best place to get a sparkly red scrunchy?

Blinged out Annie-style















Now onto the snow.  Today we got enough snow for it to be called a snow day and Elspeth’s first real experience with snow in all of her life (aside from the few minor flurries that we have had).  As you can see in the photos, our playsession got off to a slow start.  Basically fear and a strong need to be held up and away from this wierd cold, white stuff.  By the end of our time outside, she had graduated to walking through the snow to see what Katrine was up to and picking up a kiddie snow shovel.  Not a bad start but we definetely have some work to do.

"Mom, you're kidding me right? Fun? Don't believe you."














Christmas: Round 3 (& 4)

Merry Christmas to those celebrating.

Round 3:

Katrine excitedly introduced Elspeth in to the world of stockings this morning.  I think that they were as eager to see what each other received as what they themselves got.  Then breakfast (had to introduce Elspeth to the Tomlinson tradition of Stoc**ng Stuffer lottery tickets and peameal bacon…mmmm…nothing says merry Christmas like fried pig in the morning).  Next our own gifts.  Favourites?  Glenn got me a cute stuffed cow as I was born in the year of the cow yet oddly enough did not count a cow among my stuffy collection and my new Dance connection game (I promise to act silly even more and try to get in better shape, anyone want to join in?).  Glenn got two puzzles which the girls had created/coloured.  Katrine is now the proud owner of an ipod shuffle which Santa had loaded, quite miraculously, with most of her favourite tunes…how did he know?. She also loves her new dress up doll named Lily who is currently tucked into bed with her.  Elspeth’s favourite gift today had to be her water table.  Took her a while to figure out what it was and accept that it was okay to get water on the floor but once we crossed those hurdles she was off and running.

After gifts, the girls put on their Christmas dresses which matched at Katrine’s insistance and headed off to church.  The rest of the day was spent playing with our gifts. Decorating Baby Jesus’ birthday cake (have to try and keep the meaning to the day somehow and which kid doesn’t enjoy a good birthday party). And enjoying turkey with Grammy.

Round 4 will be an afternoon party with Glenn’s extended family.  Then we have a few days to rest up…aside from skating of course; before heading to my parents for Hogmany and our final Christmas.  I think that we all need this little break between festivities.

Hope that all of you had a wonderful day.

Christmas: Rounds 1 & 2

Happy Santa Day!  Have you been good?  The girls (aka Katrine worrying for both of them) are keeping their fingers crossed that they made it onto the nice list.  We also spent the last two days baking cookies to make sure that we had enough sweet stuff to tempt the big guy.  On the plus side, Katrine went to sleep super quickly tonight, or at least pretended to.

The picture of concentration
I think those sprinkles were suppose to go on the cookies.










Round 1:

Last night was Elspeth’s first real taste of the Christmas tradition of celebrating family.  Glenn’s side of the family got together at his sister’s house for a nice dinner, awesome cookies provided by the other Heather, gifts and family.  The dinner and drinks were a hit with the grown ups, while Katrine loved her aunt’s white chocolate peppermint bark. Elspeth spent a good portion of the beginning of the evening fretting about their small shitzu.  Now Casey is a sweetie who loves to play.  The worst thing she could possibly do is lick you to death.  Just the same Elspeth could not be far enough away from her.  All through dinner she was checking under the table to make sure that she wasn’t lurking there or climbing into my lap for comfort at the hint of a bark (great for bonding though).  Katrine is not a big fan of dogs as you all know.  When she was younger she was quite scared of them, especially big ones but upon meeting Casey her fear has become managable.  She can now tolerate most dogs and refuses to let them get in the way of her fun.  Elspeth’s reaction to dogs makes young Katrine look like a dog lover.  She loves the concept of dogs when they are wayyyyy down the block or squishy stuffed animals just not when they are alive and within a two house width radius of her.  Then terror hits.  Her eyes get huge, she tenses, scans the area, clings (yeah), uses us as physical barriers (yeah).  We have a lot of family and friends with dogs so this presents a real problem.  It is also quite remarkable given that there were free roaming small dogs at the orphanage.  We have wondered if her little scar on her leg was the result of a burn but perhaps it was a dog bite.  The later would explain her intense fear.  Now the question becomes how to help her reach the place where Katrine is with regards to dogs.  Suggestions?

"I know that dog is here somewhere. Maybe she is after my christmas cracker."













Elspeth relaxed once the presents began to be handed out.  Maybe because of the presents and maybe because she didn’t know that Casey was downstairs as she was so quiet.  Both girls had a lot of fun tearing into the paper.  Katrine was also thrilled to be able to hand out some gifts that she had purchased with her own allowance.  This is the first year that she had money to spend on presents and was quite proud of herself.

We also got a cool Scottish drummer nutcracker to add to our Christmas decoration stash.
Elspeth LOVED these shoes sooo much that she wore them right after opening them and again all day to day. Glenn better keep a watch on his credit card, we may have a shoe girl on our hands.



























Round 2: After a day of last minute jobs, we headed to church for family service.  Katrine was an adorable star in the children’s play.  She walked in, skipped around and then sat prettily until the end of the play.  She told me that she was glad to be a star because she got to wear a yellow headband and do a little dance.  The joys of being 7.

After service

Three days left

I am going to take a step out of our crazy life and post a pre-Christmas update.

Glenn:  Glenn has one final day of work and then he is off until the first Monday in January.  He has also been busy getting a gift ready for Elspeth.  He has built her a really cool, suitably short water table which she will love.  He is geering up to brine and cook our traditional turkey.

Me:  I finished picking all of the sequins and tape that I had originally sewn onto Katrine’s solo dress and am almost ready to start over.  You see, I made a HUGE mistake…I forgot to have her try it on before doing all of the sewing so when everything was on it looked great but would no longer fit.  Sigh.  On the upside, finished embroidering the stocking that my mom made for Elspeth.  I am also in the process of confirming or dismissing my previous diagnosis of asthma as well as my multiple food allergies.  Wouldn’t that be a great gift.  Katrine had her last gymnastics class yesterday and I am eagerly looking forward to the one night a week that will now be free. (Oh the joys of not having to be somewhere at a specific time)

Katrine:  Katrine has a break from skating nights until the second of January.  However, she volunteered to be part of the show that her morning skating school is putting on the first week of January so our “break from skating” will be spent….skating.  (Bet you can’t say that you are surprised)  It is nice to see how she lights up when she steps on the ice.  She really does enjoy it.  Tonight she did her first skating exam – the Dutch Waltz and, much to her relief, she passed.   She is also going to be something in the church’s Christmas Eve pagent but she won’t know what until Friday’s rehersal.

This week saw the dreaded family tree assignment arrive home.  The amount of work was appropriate for a Grade 2 student but it made Katrine upset that there were not enough spaces for all of her family.  Off we went to google translate to locate the French terms for birthparents, birthfamily and forever family. (Not sure we got them right but I should get points for navigating that with one child while keeping the two year old occupied)  Then she began fretting again about where to write the information and we worked that out; only to have her begin to worry that her teacher would be upset that we altered the assignment.  After working through that I thought to check the messages on the phone.  Well, wasn’t there a message on the phone from Katrine’s Social Studies teacher explaining that the wrong sheet was sent home and she could make all of the changes that we had just made.  Played the message for Katrine and all was right again.  Guess that will teach me to check the phone for messages before beginning homework.  Sigh.

Elspeth: Elspeth is fascinated with puzzles right now.  She will do the same four puzzles multiple times in one afternoon and always get frustrated at the same parts.  I have been wanting to bang my head against the wall by the fifth time doing the same four puzzles in a row so I took her and bought her two new puzzles.  Sounds great right?  Now she will do all four puzzles and then tidy them up, stop, take all of the pieces out of the two new puzzles before beginning again at the beginning leaving me to put the two new puzzles back together.  Oh well, at least it is a new pattern.

She has dug her heels in with the potty training.  Her stuffed animals frequently visit the toy potty but she tends to go when Katrine goes or she feels the need to hear “Upp-a-da” which is more commonly known as “Up on the Rooftop”.  She will however, bardge into the bathroom whenever someone it is in use and cheer for you.  You want to say, “Get out” but can’t because you are laughing at how darn cute she is.

She is also copying Katrine.  When Katrine is up walking through her solo to the music, Miss Elspeth must be up to trying to mimic all of her moves.  Our personal favourite is Elspeth’s version of the spiral.  Please notice that she looks like a little puppy going to the bathroom when she does it independently.  Her form is much more standard when someone helps.  I am beginning to worry that we will have a second figure skater on our hands; in which case, we should just buy ourselves an arena.

"I've gotta go."
"Stretch a little bit more Baba. I want to be just like Katrine."

And even more holiday fun

I hurt my back a few days ago doing …who knows what.  It is slowly getting better but the fact that Elspeth is in a “carry me, hold me, hug me” phase is slowing the process.  That aside, you all know how much I love Christmas so hurting or not it was outside for some holiday fun this weekend.

Saturday afternoon saw us heading out to the Community Safety Village for their holiday celebration.  Everything was going good until Elspeth saw the horses wearing Santa hats.  I don’t know if it was the live horses or that they had the hats and she couldn’t reconcile horses with Santa, but she literally climbed up everytime they turned a corner near us.  We are calling it good for bonding but bad for the back.  Aside from that, the girls had a lot of fun decorating cookies, doing crafts and listening to choirs.  We ended it by visiting with Santa.  This visit was a landmark.  It was the first time that Elspeth (who talks about Santa all day) did not freak out when she saw him.  It is the first photo we have gotten where she is not in tears.  If we can get our scanner working I will post it but until then you will have to take my word for it.  We ended the day driving home into the sunset.

Greeting us on our arrival.
An angel....maybe
Before seeing the horses.
The fierce, scary Santa ponies.



























Today it was off to church.  Katrine was thrilled because it was the Sunday school PJ party where they watched Little Drummer boy while eating cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallow (just one big one).  Elspeth did not spend that much time with me in the baby room because we were in the bathroom.  I had forgotten how much fun potty training can be for young ones but who am I to argue with a girl who is determined to be like her big sister and get into underwear (one less diaper is fine with me).  Then while Elspeth was napping, Katrine went to decorate a gingerbread house with her Grammy at Longos.  I think that they did a great job.  Much more patience than I would’ve had.  Katrine actually wants to save it, uneaten, until after Christmas day which is fine by me because we have mounds of candy canes to go through first.








I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend.  Two weeks today is Christmas Day.  Can’t wait. Oh, I almost forgot.  We had Elspeth out on single blades this week.  She can stand! Then she tries to run and falls.  I think that we may need to put the cage back on her helmet.


Elspeth update

Well, it is official.  Our Elspeth is both making remarkable gains and borderline delayed.  Sigh.  I always applauded the dedication of parents who worked to help their children address any delays.  It is one of the first things that I thanked them for in Kindergarten interviews.  Katrine’s Kindergarten years in school and organized daycare showed me first hand how aggravating it can be to advocate for a child that an instructor just doesn’t get because they are not within the mold.  I also got to see first hand how it feels to know that your child is not being programmed for appropriately for a number of potential reasons such as lack of resources, time or just not getting that she is playing you.  Katrine was never delayed.  Elspeth is giving me alot of different insights which I hope will help when I return to work to make me a more compassionate teacher when dealing with parents.  We knew going in to her adoption that she would have delays just not what they were.  Once again we were blessed, she will be fine with time.   That said, this journey is giving me a whole new appreciation for those of you coping with language delayed children.

The way that we play with her is completely different than Katrine at this age.   Most every activity is structured so that she is working on skill X or Y.  For instance, giving her one piece for Mr Potatoe Head and naming it, then having her repeat the name before inserting the piece.  Or, doing a puzzle together where she has to ask for every single piece, or repeat the name of the photo, before getting to do the fun part of actually putting it together.  Have you tried talking in two and three word sentences for a whole day and also doing it almost non-stop?  “Yes.  Plane go.  Plane go sky. Bye plane.  Yes, puppy.  Puppy brown.  Puppy small.  Puppy walk.”  On and on.  Now do that seven days a week.  Thank goodness there is Katrine to break up the insanity of it with her arrival home.  Then I get to talk in a combination of simple sentences and French.  Sigh.  Don’t get me wrong.  Knew what we were getting into.  Just didn’t realise how draining it is to try and think in such simplified speech for such an extended period of time.  To those of you who do this every day, well done.  I finally get it.  The next time I teach one of your children and get frustrated by the fact that they are still working on basic grammar structures, I will pause and remember all of the work that you have done to get them to this point and look for a fresh approach.

Isn’t it amazing what we can learn from our kids?



Some Christmas fun

We played hooky from church today and went out with my parents to have breakfast with Santa.  The highlight for Elspeth was ringing Santa’s bell (while hiding from Santa) and for Katrine it was getting her photo taken with Santa by a SNAP reporter.  It is suppose to be in the paper in January and she is pretty excited about that.  Both girls also got lovely gift bags with homemade cookies which were quickly devoured.

Likes the big guy in theory but only his bell in reality.














The last week has been full of Christmas prep.  Katrine baked some cookies with her Grandma T as her sister looked on.  They have both been crafting up a storm making both decorations and gifts (my apologies if you end up with one of their gifts; they are not useful and they do not necessarily reflect an understanding of your personal tastes but at least they have been crafted with love).  I have been redoing Santa shopping because Katrine changed her mind.  At first she wanted a Fijit and I found a pink one so picked it up.  Then she decided that they were boring and she would rather have an mp3.  Well, on Friday I was out shopping and found a really great deal on an ipod so I guess that Santa will be able to handle the last minute change in plans.  Shopping for Elspeth was almost as stressful because she just had a birthday and really needs nothing.  That said, we found a cool catch-the-bug magnet fishing game for her.  She won’t acutally be able to play according to the rules but it should be fun watching her try to catch the bugs with the fishing rod.

Gluten-dairy free chocolate maccaroons....Mommy's tummy thanks you ladies but my waist line moans.
"Whatcha making?"


















Glenn and I have also been introducing our girls to the joys of non-chocolate containing advent calendars.  You know the ones from our childhood which had little cardboard doors with pictures behind them.  Well we found some on sale for only $2.oo and both girls are super excited to see what is behind the door each day.  This is a pleasure that I remember from when I was little.  My brother and I had a advent calendar in the shape of a Santa.  Now he was super cool because it you pulled on his string his arms and legs moved and he stuck out his tongue.  Anyways, every morning in December we would go to the front hall and open that day’s door.  Him  one day, me the next and so on.  We had the same calendar for years but it never got old.  I think that my brother has it hanging in his house now but it is one of those memories I treasure (pouring over the Sears Wish Book is another because Scott and I would lay side by side with it for hours).  It is neat to share something so low tech with the kids that does not involve even more sugar…goodness knows that they will get more than enough sweets and candy canes.

Christmas aside today is a pretty big day for Elspeth.  It is her first night in a big girl bed!  She has been hooking her leg up on the top of the crib bars and has managed to hoist her little bum almost up to the top so we felt that a move might be a prudent choice.  Converted the crib this afternoon and she was dancing with joy.  You could see the wheels turning as she ran from Katrine’s bed to her new one laughing.  When we added the Dora sheets and comforter she practically squeeled with excitement.  Tonight she lay down, snuggled with her stuffies and went to sleep.  I am sure that once she realises that she can actually get out of bed the real fun will begin.  Hopefully it will be a few more days before that realisation hits.

The face says it all. Not sure how she could sleep on such bright sheets but they were the only ones that had map and he's her favourite.

Potty time…and Baby Jesus has an outing

Before any of you get your hopes up, Elspeth has not yet joined the ranks of toilet user.  I thought for a while there that we were making headway by putting Dora underwear under her diaper ( You know, Dora wants to stay dry.) and giving an M&M upon success.  Nope!  We are still at the sit, do nothing, get up and dressed, pee, ask for candy stage.  That said, she has begun to show an interest in mothering her stuffed animals.  As you can see from the photo, it appears that stuffies use the potty in a much different manner than people.














Now about Baby Jesus.  We have a plastic nativity set so that it can be touched, played with and enjoyed.  If we are lucky, it will also translate into some acqusition of the Christmas story but then again maybe not.  As you can see there was some trouble in Bethlehem this afternoon.  A force of nature, hereafter refered to as Hurricane E, joyfully explored all of the wonders that the town offered.  E was unaware of the way that it was changing the natural landscape or disturbing the lives of the people and animals on the nearby land.  Once building escaped damage.  A lowly manger.  Its two inhabitants, a man and woman, were unharmed…as if they were being watched over by an angel.  They were a bit worried though.  It seems that E had scooped up their new baby and taken him off into the wide world.  A gruelling search turned up the child nestled in E watching cartoons on the other side of the basement.

Perhaps nestled was not the most appropriate choice of words.















Now please do not worry.  The Baby Jesus was returned safely to his parents and continues to be guarded by both star and angel.  The wise men have resumed their journey and the shepards have sought heavenly protection as they venture back up into the hills with their flocks.  All of the animals are now sleeping having agreed that it was quite a day.