Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Samuel's First Christmas (in pictures)

First thing after waking up at Grandma's house Christmas morning...
I wasn't expecting Samuel to get that into it but he saw a present
sticking out of the top of his stocking and dove right in!




Almost thirty years ago my grandmother knit this stocking for me...
This year she lovingly knit one for her great-grandson - priceless!



Making stuffing with his Grandma

I read some time ago on someone else's blog (no recollection who!)
about how each of their children receive three gifts on Christmas:
one thing they want (i.e. something fun),
one thing they need (i.e. something practical),
and one thing to give away (i.e something that helps someone else).
I loved the idea so much that I decided to adopt it for my own family.

Here is Samuel with his "something fun"!

My little chef spent the rest of the day cooking, 
his absolute favourite thing to do!

Something practical - Samuel loved this hat so much I could hardly get it off him to go to bed!
Thank you to the incredibly talented Sarah and Rachel from Handiwork For Elijah
The hat is absolutely gorgeous, so thick and soft and the best part is, all the proceeds go to help 
bring orphans home to their forever families! Check it out :)

Samuel's "something for someone else" was an Angel Tree Ornament from Reece's Rainbow.
Little "Colby" is five years old and loves dancing to music just like Samuel.
We're praying that next year Colby can spend his first Christmas with his forever family, just like Samuel!
Might there be room around your table for this fun-loving little boy?

Ok, so I kind of cheated this year...
I'm calling this bonus present the "because I want you to know how much you're loved" present.

There's nothing Samuel loves more in this world than his family and he insists on keeping a
slideshow of family pictures playing over and over on my laptop all day long.
Now he has his own pictures to hang in his room that he can look at whenever he wants.
Samuel loved it and couldn't stop staring at it all afternoon!


Enjoying some cuddle time with Nana

Samuel loves his Poppy!

With his favourite aunt and uncle
(we're in that stage right now... you know, the one where you say, "Samuel, smile!" and you get this face...)

Because every little boy needs an uncle to help assemble new toys on Christmas!

From this...
... to this!

























God you're so good!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

This Christmas

Today is December 1st which for my family always marks the beginning of the Christmas season. This year it's especially exciting as Samuel will be spending his first Christmas surrounded by a family who loves him. He will decorate Christmas trees and bake Christmas cookies and open presents and participate in reaching out to those in need... Meanwhile, 163 million children around the world will spend yet another Christmas without a family.

As we prepare to celebrate this holiday season...

  • There are 30,000 children living in foster care in Canada who are waiting to be adopted (115,000 in the US). 
  • There are approximately 25 million children in Asia who have been abandoned and are longing for a place to belong.
  • There are over 50 million orphans in Africa who are in need of a family.  
  • There are approximately 1 million children living in institutions in Eastern Europe who are desperate for someone to give them hope and a future. 
Would you consider opening your heart and home to a child who wants nothing more than a family of their own? 
No, it won't be easy, but it will be the greatest gift you could give yourself / your family this Christmas.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Samuel!!!

Today was Samuel's first birthday... My son turned five years old today yet his birthday was truly celebrated for the first time in his life. I'm warning you now that this is going to be a long post - I want this weekend well document so that neither of us forget a single detail and I also want to share all the joy of these past three days with all of you who have helped us get here!

The festivities started on Saturday when Samuel and I went over to my mom's to help her decorate Samuel's birthday cake (my mom is a great cake decorator but recently had shoulder surgery and has one arm in a sling). Samuel enjoyed trying out his own decorating skills and especially liked sampling the icing!

Hmm, this is pretty fun!

Look what I did!

What, we can eat this stuff?!

Don't bother me... I'm in my happy place :)

I'm going to save the best part for last and skip ahead to today, Samuel's actual birthday. I decorated my apartment last night in hopes that it would help Samuel realize when he woke up this morning that today was a special day.


Unfortunately, when Samuel woke up he had to pee so bad he didn't make it to the toilet which resulted in him sitting on the bathroom floor in a puddle of pee and tears :( We cuddled for a bit and once he recovered he had a great day, the best day he's had for as far back as I can remember!

Birthday Boy at the breakfast table

We had plans with our amazing neighbour friends today but unfortunately their kids woke up sick so we ended up just hanging out at home. Given that I had to clean my bathroom, I decided to take the opportunity to clean the rest of my house as well as it was overdue and I let Samuel vacuum...

What can I say, this is my son's idea of a fun, birthday treat!

After about 20 minutes (he really does love to vacuum!) Samuel decided the vacuum was too loud so I let him eat grapes in bed while I finished up... 

Being silly...

Precious. Who could resist this face?!

Samuel and I played all morning and for lunch we had his favourite, scrambled eggs, along with some pigs in a blanket leftover from his party. Samuel ate the pastry all around and then gave me the hot dogs... Samuel wasn't interested in leftover birthday cake for dessert so I gave him a cake pop that his Nana had bought him. Samuel ate the candy coating and then gave the cake part to his mama :)



In the afternoon we had visits from Samuel's future babysitter (she doesn't babysit him yet but comes by to visit so that Samuel can get used to her... not much of a problem as Samuel adores her!) as well as his great-uncle. We ended the day by inviting grandma over for dinner... Shepherd's pie of course!!!

Can you tell that this boy loves his grandma???

Ok, rewinding to Sunday, the big day - Samuel's first ever birthday party!!! (for pictures see the video at the end of this post) I decided that it would be just family for this year but just family still worked out to twelve people plus Samuel. We had Samuel's grandma, his grandparents and great-grandparents, his aunt and uncle and his godparents and my aunt and uncle (Samuel's great aunt and uncle) even flew in from PEI to be here for Samuel's special day! At one point I was a little worried about how Samuel would do with so many people but I clearly had nothing to be worried about. Like I've said before, Samuel's absolute favourite thing is to be surrounded by his family and to have all the people he loves so much in one room... he was in his glory from the moment he walked in the door!

While we were at church my brother and sister-in-law decorated the house. When we arrived Samuel could see the decorations from outside and ran up the stairs into the house. After peering around the doorway, he threw off his shoes and coat, stood in the middle of the living room taking it all in and said, "WOW!" Priceless. It was like he somehow got it and he was instantly so excited. His excitement only grew as each new person arrived and Samuel spent the afternoon going from one beloved family member to another. Samuel enjoyed his spaghetti lunch however did not eat his usual heaping portion as he was distracted and had already filled up on chips (Baked Lays, the first and only kind of chips he has ever eaten... thanks Auntie Mel!). He didn't know what to make of the candles on his cake ("hot!") and although he did enjoy eating it, it was clear that he liked the icing much more than the cake itself (not surprising given that he doesn't like muffins, banana bread, etc.). After cake Samuel opened presents - his favourites were the tissue paper and the cash! It was fun to watch him in his imaginary little world playing with the tissue but the laugh out loud moment of the party was when Samuel opened a card from his grandparents, pulled out the money and immediately reached down to put it in his pocket! Where does he learn these things?!?! He played with his money for quite a while before I was eventually able to distract him long enough to sneak it away :)

I think I can safely say that Samuel had the time of his life - literally! As the day came to a close I looked around the room and the love was palpable. I was overwhelmed not just by everyone's immense love for my sweet son but by Samuel's great love for each of them. Samuel and I sing along to this song often in the car and as we sang it in church yesterday morning it could not have been more fitting... God is rewriting my son's story and turning it from a story of heartache and hopelessness into something breathtakingly beautiful.


"He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair..."
Isaiah 61:3

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Giving Back

October/November is one of my favourite times of year because it's... shoebox season!!! My family and I are big time fans of Operation Christmas Child, a project headed up by Samaritans Purse which delivers shoe boxes filled with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, etc. to children around the world. In fact, I am one of the only members of my family who has not had the privilege of going and delivering these boxes in person (one day... it's on my bucket list!). Every year my mom and I spend hours in every dollar store within a 20 mile radius picking out things we know kids will love and buying way too much stuff, causing us to have to fill even more shoe boxes! This year however was different. Although Samuel doesn't mind shopping, there was no way he was going to put up with multiple trips to multiple stores so we waited 'till the last minute and yesterday we did a one stop shopping trip to Dollarama to fill our shoebox. I let Samuel pick out which toothbrush or t-shirt, what colour Play-Doh or stuffed animal, etc. we should get and today I helped him pack it all up in the box. Obviously he didn't have a clue what we were doing and next year I'll be able to explain it to him better but its important to me that he starts getting into the habit of giving even now, before he understands what its all about.

Colouring the box earlier this week...
This lasted about a minute :)

Stickers...

...Play-Doh and a t-shirt...

...a stuffed animal...

...balloons!

Little man was pretty proud of his box...

...he even shared some of his halloween candy!

The fished product.

Haven't packed your shoebox yet? There's still time! This week is National Collection Week in both Canada and the US... Visit http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/operation-christmas-child.aspx / 

p.s. I read this post tonight which was so encouraging and says everything I haven't found the time or the words to say over the past weeks... The title says it all: There's No Such Thing As An Easy Adoption

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cookies!

I have so many real posts (i.e. not just pictures) bouncing around in my head but just can't seem to find the time or energy to type them out... In the meantime, my sweet boy and I made cookies for the first time today and he was so cute, I just had to share the pictures! He did such a great job and there are so many things about baking cookies that even just a few days ago would have had him screaming in a puddle of tears on the floor... 
Thank you God, after the past few weeks it looks like things are turning around!

Butter...

...sugar...

...eggs...

I like the mixer!

Now the flour...

Put it all together...

Now add some chocolate chips...

Yum!

Licking the spoon is the best part!

The end result - everyone knows that a taste test is required :)