Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Official Adoption Video

Because it feels like Samuel's adoption is not complete without it... :)

Dear Samuel,
There are so many things I want to tell you, so many things I want you to know but if I could say just one thing to you today it would be this - You, my precious son, are WANTED. Oh, you are so very wanted...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Trip Home

Finally I'm having a chance to write about our trip home... I don't even know if you guys still care to read about it at this point but I want to make sure I have it documented so that I can share all the details with Samuel when he gets older...

On the day we left Hanoi Samuel definitely knew something big was about to happen and was up before our alarm which we had set for 5 a.m.! We finished up our last minute packing, had some breakfast and then off to the airport we went...

All ready to go, dressed in the first outfit ever bought
special just for him - thanks Auntie Lynn!

We thankfully had no problems at the check-in counter and therefore it wasn't long before we had to say goodbye to our amazing facilitator in order to go through security... I cannot say enough about this wonderful woman; when everyone else said that Samuel's needs were too severe, rendering him "unadoptable", she looked past the labels and saw his potential and fought hard to find him a family! I would not have my son with me today if it were not for her.

The first, two hour flight to Hong Kong went so well. Samuel hopped right into his seat, bucked himself in and was ready to go! He amused himself throughout the flight by playing with his armrest, eating his meal, etc. and before we knew it we were landing. He proudly put on his backpack to get off the plane with a smile on his face and all I could think was, "Dear, sweet boy... you have no idea what still lies ahead".

My first plane ride ever - this is exciting!

Flight # 1 - I'm not sure who looks more nervous,
Samuel or his mama...

Samuel loved his cozy new sweatshirt... especially the zipper! 

That wasn't so bad... What was all the fuss about?!

When we arrived in Hong Kong we waited for the stroller which we had checked in at the gate in Hanoi. They told us to take the bus to the terminal and they would bring it to us there but right away I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that we were in trouble... Long story short, the people unloading the plane were "too busy" to get us our stroller and simply sent it through with all the checked baggage. This meant that my mother had to go through immigration, pick up the stroller at the baggage claim and then come back through security with it. I could have tried going with her but I had no desire to go through Hong Kong immigration with my newly adopted son's temporary passport and Samuel was already starting to go crazy and there was no way he would survive that long line of people without his stroller. So, what does one do when stuck in an airport waiting area with two backpacks and a 50 pound little boy who refuses to walk??? Well, you start by singing all of the Fisher Price Learning Puppy songs that you have involuntarily memorized over the past twelve days! The people sitting around us certainly thought I was crazy but it worked. Samuel was highly amused by his mama's imitation of his beloved puppy (who was packed in the checked luggage) and sat with me quite contently waiting for grandma to come back. I was so proud of him. After an hour an a half I saw my mom waving us down from behind the barrier. She had the stroller with her but was told that, as I had been afraid of, after going through security she would not be able to make it back to where we were. She asked if she could just pass the stroller over to me but of course, the stroller had to go through security too. So, this meant that I had to carry my backpack, Samuel's backpack and Samuel from one end of the airport to the other, shuttle bus included! And just in case you were wondering if anyone was considerate enough to give us one of the seats on the shuttle bus, the answer is no. Don't ask me how we made it but we did and let me tell you, I have never been so happy to see a stroller before in my life!

Next was the dreaded 15 hour flight from Hong Kong to Toronto... I am happy to report however that it was really nothing worth dreading! After dinner I replicated as much as Samuel's bedtime routine as possible and my son laid down, went to sleep and slept a full 11 hours as usual! Samuel slept with his head on my lap and his feet on grandma's lap... Well, remember that my son easily slept on every inch of a king-sized bed in the course of a given night. Now, imagine all that flopping while contained to three air plane seats (two of which were occupied by his mom and grandma!)... Needless to say, neither my mom or I got any sleep but compared to dealing with an over-tired yet awake child for 11 hours, neither one of us was complaining. Once he woke up Samuel wanted to stay on his mama's lap and the only meltdown came when it was time for him to sit back in his seat for landing. I'm pretty sure all the other passengers thought we were killing him but as soon as the seat belt sign was off I picked him back up and he was fine.

Flight # 2 - Not so sure how I feel about being on another plane... 

...but everything's ok when you've got a Mama to hold your hand.

We went through customs in Toronto and it could not have gone smoother. Looking at my landing card the customs officer asked, "Did your son leave Canada the same day you did?". I explained that I had just adopted him and was bringing him home from Vietnam and she said, "That explains the N/A" and sent us on through.

Horrible picture of Samuel... best one of his shirt.

We boarded the final, 1.5 hour flight to Montreal and although we knew it was the last flight and that it was a short one, we were well aware that Samuel did not understand this and probably thought he was going to spend the rest of his life going from one plane to another! Thunder and lightening kept us stuck on the tarmac for an hour before we finally took off but we were just so thankful the flight wasn't cancelled.

Another plane... Really?!?!

How do you entertain a child when you have been travelling for 24 hours
and are now stuck on the tarmac just when you were almost there???

And all of a sudden it was over. Five years of waiting to know who/where he was, nine months of waiting to hold him in my arms, twelve days stuck in a hotel room, twenty seven hours of travel and finally, we were home.

Hey, I know you people from my family book...

...Uncle Brian...

...Auntie Jen

"He has made everything beautiful in its one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...

Sorry for the silence... I had intended on blogging last night but I was so exhausted by the time the day was over I ended up falling asleep with Samuel. Yesterday was a great day... up until the end. I'm refusing to dwell on the negative though so let me start with the positive.

The Good: Despite another trip to the doctor and pharmacy yesterday (that's twice since we got home - see below), Samuel was a real trooper and I was so proud of him. The last time I took Samuel to the doctor and pharmacy he refused to let his feet touch the ground and I had to try to pay, rummage through my purse for the insurance card, etc. all with a 50 pound 5-year-old on my hip. Yesterday however, he walked just about everywhere and stood holding my hand while I was checking in, paying, etc. The girl at the pharmacy remembered us and when I made a comment about how good Samuel was doing standing on the ground she said, "Oh yeah, he's the big hugger"... "Big hugger" - hey, it could be worse!

Samuel was in great spirits yesterday afternoon and we had so much fun playing together. We were playing with his wooden blocks when Samuel took a small rectangular block and a wooden stick and started blowing and stirring like he sees me doing with his soup. My son has a great sense of humour and an incredible imagination given that he has never been given the opportunity to play before. I copied him with the stirring and blowing and then took a bite, making a big deal out of how it was too hot. Samuel thought this was hilarious and was literally rolling on the ground laughing! Thus began our little impromptu tea party which lasted nearly an hour... Without any prompting, Samuel said and signed the words "hot", "more" and "water". After he was finished with his soup he found a tall, skinny block and used it as a glass. When I tried to ask if mama could have some, he kept saying and signing "water". At first I thought he was telling me what it was but then I realized he was making me say water before he would give me any (like I've been trying to do with him). Oh my goodness, this kid is too smart and he is apparently taking in a lot more than I realized! It was so great to see him playing with me, and in English no less!!! My son is amazing and watching him learn and literally blossom before my very eyes is one of the greatest privileges God has ever given me.

After we finished out tea party I took out the easel and Samuel painted his very first painting. Samuel's attention span for anything crafty is only about 5 minutes but he was still super cute.


The Bad: Unfortunately, this is where things went down hill... At 4:50 Samuel wanted to go outside. It was kind of late but I decided we could go for a quick walk. We made it about 12 feet into the parking lot but then Samuel refused to walk any further and wanted to get into the stroller. I tried to get him to go just a few more steps by placing the stroller about 5 paces in front of him like I did the other day but he dropped to the ground and began throwing a fit. I somehow managed to get him and the stroller back into the apartment (no small feat!) where he continued to scream and cry. This time it was a full blown tantrum because he didn't get what he wanted which elicits a lot less sympathy from me than when he is having a fit because he is emotionally distraught. I was going to just let him scream it out as I clearly wasn't giving in to his screaming and then it happened... A neighbour knocked on the door. "What's going on with that child? He is always crying..." I felt like saying, "Actually, up until just now he has only had one fit in the past 72 hours". I felt like saying, "Actually, he laughs a whole lot more than he cries but unfortunately his laughter doesn't carry as far"... My child was still screaming in the background however and I was too tired to string together a comprehensive sentence in French so all I said was, "He just arrived from Vietnam..." and apologized as she headed back into her apartment. Samuel's tantrum continued... Unlike his other fits, he did not want me to hold him and just kept pulling me towards the door. I tried to give him another chance and put my shoes back on but he wouldn't even walk out the door and only wanted to be carried so I said no. The tantrum continued. I tried ignoring him, I tried distracting him with anything and everything. The screaming continued. After an hour and a half when his screaming had not died down in the slightest and he was still pulling me towards the door I just didn't know what to do. I was worried about the neighbours and it felt like he was going to go on forever. Out of sheer desperation I called my mom and she came over and distracted him within about 30 seconds... It's not a long term solution but it allowed us to get on with our evening and Samuel ate dinner, had a bath and went to bed happy. 

I have never been a confident person and have always been indecisive but I have never second guessed myself as much as I have since I became a mother. I guess it makes sense given that it's the most important job I have ever had... Maybe I shouldn't have pushed the walking thing? Maybe I should have kept ignoring him? Maybe I should have kept holding him? Maybe I shouldn't have had my mother come over?... I don't know. I'm open to suggestions as to how I can deal with something like this in the future (I know he's more prone to meltdowns towards the end of the day when he's tired but I don't want to let him get away with too much just because he's tired...). All I know is at the end of the day, after his bath, when Samuel points to the mattress and I drag it into the living room... When he climbs into my lap on the rocking chair and drinks his bottle while I sing to him... When he lays down on the mattress, pats the spot beside him for his mama to lie down with him and then has me pull the blanket up over both of us... When he leans in close for a kiss and then giggles until he feels asleep... In those moments I know that I am doing at least one thing right because my son falls asleep at night feeling happy, safe and loved.

We got Samuel a body pillow (thank you Cecilia - you're brilliant!)
which takes my spot in the bed after he falls asleep and until
I go to bed myself... It seems to be working well and I'm
hopeful that eventually it will help him feel safer once
he is sleeping by himself. At this point however,
it looks like that will be a long time from now
and I am totally ok with that.

The Ugly: You may remember that Samuel had quite a bad sore on his bum when we got home from Vietnam. I took him to the doctor the day after we got home and she prescribed some antibiotic cream which worked beautifully. Unfortunately, he has since developed two more (hence the return visit to the doctor yesterday). He is now on oral antibiotics as well. Poor little guy, they are nasty and so painful! The good news, he is finally expressing pain for the first time since I got him but it just breaks my heart to see him hurting. Please pray that they heal quickly. Between the sores and being sick, Samuel has been experiencing physical discomfort since I brought him home and it is so hard to tell how much that is contributing to the emotions/behaviours I have been seeing. He has been doing so well, in spite of all the physical stuff, but I just can't wait until he is feeling 100% so we can focus on his emotional healing.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Good Day

Given my son's love of predictability, it seems only fitting that we have been consistently having one bad day, followed by one good day, followed by one bad day, etc. Yesterday was rough but today was a good day. The day started at 8 a.m. with Samuel pulling on my hand (we hold hands while we sleep, it gives him the security he needs to know I'm not going anywhere) to wake me up. He was laughing and in good spirits and ready to get up out of bed after 12 hours sleep. This was a great sign already as lately Samuel has been sleeping 15 hours a night and I have to literally drag him out of bed at 10:00.

We had breakfast, got dressed and then did some laundry. Samuel loves to help with anything and everything and already has many chores which he does with great pride - putting our clothes in the hamper, putting the clothes and soap in the washer and transferring the wet clothes to the dryer or carrying them to the drying rack, setting the table, pushing the chairs in after we eat, rinsing the dishes and putting them in the drying rack after I wash them, putting whatever I ask him to into the garbage can, carrying the full garbage bag to the garbage chute and throwing it in... the list goes on and on. Yep, I'm pretty much the luckiest mother in the world and don't worry, I know it!

What little boy doesn't love the washing machine?!

We headed to the park before the rain came and Samuel actually played and laughed a bit which was huge. (Samuel hasn't really gotten into the whole park thing yet and yesterday he refused to even get out of his stroller!) Samuel ate half an apple and half a bagel for lunch and then Nana and Poppy came for a visit during which time he led me to the kitchen for a snack which is the first time he has ever asked me for food! Samuel fell asleep in my arms shortly after they left and woke up when I tried to lie down with him but instead of resulting in a fit this resulted in a really sweet cuddling time which ended with Samuel giggling like crazy and giving Mommy a self-initiated kiss for the very first time.

We played with blocks together for over an hour and my son built the coolest city ever made out of wooden blocks! It was a team effort only in the sense that I was the one handing him the blocks, he came up with design and placed the blocks all by himself... Am I just biased or is my son quite possibly a genius?!?!

The day ended with my son eating his first real meal in a week - spaghetti of course! When I saw how he was going at it I wasn't sure I had made enough so I decided to wait before eating all of mine. My son however decided to take over grandma's role given that she wasn't around and made sure that mama had a bite of hers each time that he had a bite of his... (thanks mom!). I even got Samuel to say "more" when asking for a piece of bread, which is the first time he has used any verbal communication since coming home.

Guess what mom?! I'm feeling better!!!
Seriously though, can you knock it off with the camera already???
I'm trying to enjoy my pasta here!

We had several "battle of the wills" today when Samuel wouldn't sit at the table to drink his juice, refused to walk to the end of the parking lot (this is our deal before I put him in his stroller), didn't want to put his toys away, etc. yet each time we were able to find a compromise without me giving in and he did not have a single tantrum/fit all day. Samuel was just soaking up all my affection and praise today and I feel like he is starting to understand just a little bit of how much I love him. I'm certainly not naive enough to think that it'll be all smooth sailing from here or even that the worst is over but I am thanking God for this good day which is sure to help both of us keep going, regardless of what tomorrow brings.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Little Encouragement

I haven't had much time to read my Bible these past few weeks but God still knows how to speak the exact words I need to hear, right when I need to hear them:

"But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded."  
(2 Chronicles 15:7)

Just what I needed to be reminded of on a day like today...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Emotional or Physical?

Ok blog-world friends, after your invaluable wisdom the other day, I have another question for you...

Yesterday was a rough day for Samuel. Like I said, he slept 12 hours on the couch, waking up at 5:30. We hung out on the couch watching Thomas the Train, he had a piece of bread for breakfast, we both had a shower/bath, he ate half a yogurt and a few sips of a Yop and we played for a few minutes but then he climbed up onto my lap and fell asleep at 10:00. He slept until 11:40 then lay on the couch until 12:00. I offered him some food which resulted in a fit which lasted a little over an hour, ending with both of us sleeping on the couch with him on my chest. I woke him up at 2:00, fed him an apple while he lay on the couch and at 2:30 I took him on the balcony for some fresh air. Usually he likes to run around out there but he only wanted to be held and fell asleep in my arms. At 3:00 my mom came and he drank a watermelon smoothie. We went for a walk which he stayed awake for and he played for a bit with me by his side when we came back. He started to cry when I started to reheat rice and chicken for dinner so he had a granola bar and goldfish crackers. We played for a bit and at 6:15 he let me know he was ready for bed by independently cleaning up his toys and heading for the bath tub. He did well in the bath and throughout his bedtime routine. He downed his bottle in about 5 seconds and we rocked for a bit then he put himself to bed by leading me by the hand over to the couch and handing me his blanket to lay over him (he loves his blanket). I sat beside him for a while but then he wanted me to lay beside him, which I did. (Cute side story: When I went to lie beside him he moved his blanket and I thought it was because he didn't want me to lay on it. Once I was settled however, he put his blanket over me. Sweet baby boy wanted to share his beloved blanket with his mama. Seriously, his sweetness gets me every time!) We both fell asleep and I eventually got up, went on my computer for a bit then moved to the mattress on the floor. He started fussing a couple hours later so I moved him onto the mattress with me and he slept soundly the rest of the night. He woke up at 7:30 and we had our usual morning cuddle but after 20 minutes he would not get up when I asked him if he wanted to pee, eat or go play. He fell back asleep in my arms and is sleeping beside me now.

So, the question is, emotional or physical? I'm leaning towards emotional but every once in a while I worry that it's something physical and that I'm ignoring all the symptoms. He's not eating a lot but he is eating (interestingly, everything he ate yesterday were things we were feeding him in Hanoi...). Up until today he was drinking fine but this morning he is refusing water... hopefully that'll change once he wakes up. It's the constant sleeping that worries me the most but this is consistent with him being depressed. Those of you have been there, is this normal? He has a paediatrician appointment scheduled for October 1 at which time she will refer him for all the standard post adoption tests. Should I be taking him in to see his doctor on an 'emergency' basis before then? Would love to hear your thoughts on all of this...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What a difference a day makes...

First of all, I have to say... you guys are amazing!!! Sometimes it feels like all I need to do is type out a prayer request and hit publish and the prayer is already being answered. Yesterday was a much better day and I credit it to a good night's sleep, the kindness of a stranger and above all, all the prayers that were lifted up on our behalf. The night before last I brought the spare mattress that I had been intending to sleep on in Samuel's room out to the living room and after falling asleep in my arms in the rocking chair I was able to put him down on the mattress and he didn't even cling to me. I slept with him on the mattress and, other than his fit at 2 a.m., got 10 hours of sleep and felt like a new woman! Samuel ate half a piece of bread, half an apple, 2 granola bars, some goldfish crackers and half a McDonald's smoothie (thank you Nana!) which was a lot more than the day before so that also helped ease my worries. Although still quiet, Samuel's laughter did resurface yesterday afternoon which was music to my ears. He only had one fit yesterday which resulted in him falling asleep on my back at 5:30 p.m. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise however as I was able to gradually ease him off of me, one limb at a time, onto the couch and I got some time to myself to read emails, register for my parental leave, clean up a bit, organize pictures, etc. I also had the best bowl of cereal ever! (I have been eating cold scrambled eggs for breakfast every day as Samuel wants me to make them but them refuses to eat anything and I keep making them because it is what he is most likely to eat.) Samuel slept 12 hours on the couch all by himself without stirring and I slept all alone on the mattress beside him. I was up at 3 a.m. thanks to jet-lag but I'm not complaining. Samuel is definitely still worn out from being sick and all the trauma and climbed into my arms this morning around 10:00 and promptly fell asleep. He is sleeping soundly on the couch as I type this.

The best news of the day however is that I live in the most soundproof apartment ever! I heard my next door neighbour out in the hallway yesterday and decided to go and introduce myself and find out what the damage was... She told me that she heard Samuel crying (her polite way of saying screeching) from the hallway but couldn't hear him any more once she stepped into her apartment. I cannot tell you what a huge weight that was off my shoulders... Even better, I discovered that this neighbour, a stay at home mom of two preschool aged children, is an absolute gift from God. She was so kind, encouraging, understanding and supportive and invited us over any time even if Samuel could only handle 10 minutes at a time at first. She even went as far as offering to come help me with dishes, etc. if needed. Her kids are adorable and her son even loves trucks! Samuel was quite overwhelmed by our hallway encounter so I headed back in but two minutes later there was a knock on my door and she handed me a sheet of paper with her phone number and a note saying "call me if you need anything"... I closed the door and had a bit of a meltdown of my own... God, You are so good to me.

I want to thank you all for your comments, e-mails and texts of advice and encouragement. The outpouring of support I received yesterday was incredible and filled my empty cup for sure. I know that everything we're experiencing is normal but it helps to have that confirmed by those of you who have been there (and to know that all our neighbours are not experiencing it with us!). I so appreciate your continued prayers. If Samuel continues to sleep without me beside him, I will reward you soon with pictures from our trip home - he was hands down the cutest traveller ever :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I'm sending out this cry for help as I simply don't know what else to do right now...

1) Sleep - I'm not getting any. I mentioned in my last post that Samuel will not sleep without his body wrapped around mine. That is still true but since then Samuel is refusing to get in his bed at all, even when I'm in bed with him. Shortly after I hit publish on my last post Samuel woke up crying because I wasn't there and now I think he's scared that if he falls asleep in his bed with me that I'm going to leave him there alone. I rock him in the living room and wait until he's fast asleep before trying to move him but the second we enter his room he knows it and his whole body tenses up and he starts to scream and cry. Try sleeping on a recliner with a 50 pound weight on your chest... It just doesn't work. The night before last the two of us ended up spending the night on the couch, which is half the size of his single bed! This is just not sustainable. At this point I would be prepared to let him cry it out with me in bed beside him but I live in an appartment and his fits are loud (think torture chamber screaming) and long (1 hour +) and I can't have him waking up the whole building in the middle of the night...

2) His fits - He's having more and more of these every day which consist of ear piercing screams which last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. Sometimes they seem to be triggered by not getting what he wants (like when he wanted to eat raw eggs or put dish soap on his spaghetti) one started yesterday afternoon when I sat on his bed and invited him to come look at a book with me and then he had one at 2:00 this morning when he woke up crying for no obvious reason. His fits start with crying but turn into the kind of screaming that you would expect if he were in serious pain along with kicking, thrashing about, etc. He wants to be held and will cuddle with me for a minute but then pull back and start thrashing again. I've wondered if he is in fact in pain but he doesn't seem to be grabbing at anywhere on his body and is fine the rest of the time. It seems to me that these fits are fear based which absolutely breaks my heart. Everything I try to do to distract/comfort him only makes things worse so I just sit with him on my lap, pray and wait it out. As hard as this is, I know this is part of his grieving process and am not shocked by this. What I did not anticipate however was how difficult this would be in an apartment. I'm sure half the building can hear him and I'm just waiting for someone to complain to the landlord or call child protection services...

3) Eating - My son has pretty much stopped eating. Samuel has been sick since Saturday with a runny nose, fever and vomiting so the eating may be related to that but he hasn't vomited since Saturday night and his fever broke yesterday morning so I'm starting to get worried. He's saying no when I ask him if he wants pretty much everything we have in the house and when he finally does say yes, once I've prepared it he changes his mind and refuses to eat it. I feel that this too may be emotional. Yesterday all he ate was a handful of goldfish crackers and a couple bites of spaghetti... At what point should I be worried about this???

Well, there you have it. I knew this was going to be hard but I guess I had a false sense of optimism after how well Samuel did in Hanoi. If any of you have any suggestions based on your experiences with your own adopted children, I would certainly be open. More than anything though, I could really use your prayers. What we really need right now is some divine intervention. Please pray that Samuel would experience God's peace and His comfort and that God would give me the wisdom, strength, grace and patience to help my son through this difficult time.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Just a quick post to let you all know that we made it home safe and sound. We arrived in the middle of the night on Wednesday but I haven't managed to find time to even unpack my computer since then! Samuel did great on the long trip and has done really well since then. Nights are hard for him however and my sweet boy will not sleep without his body tightly wrapped around his mommy. This provides little opportunity for Mommy to get anything done (or get any sleep for that matter!) but I am cherishing these sweet moments with my precious son as I know they will be over before I know it.

I am hoping to be able to blog about our return trip and Samuel's first days home but right now there is a pillow taking my place in Samuel's bed and knowing my son, he won't be fooled by that for long... In the meantime, I have updated the last two posts with pictures from our final days in Hanoi.

Thank you so much for praying us home and please continue to pray for Samuel and I as we both adjust to our new normal.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day Twelve

What a roller coaster ride... Allow me to recap for you. On Friday we were told that Samuel's passports were guaranteed for Tuesday but there were no flights available. On Monday morning we got confirmed tickets for Wednesday's flight however on Monday afternoon we were told that Samuel's Canadian passport might not be ready on time. By Monday night we had lost our flights as we were not able to issue the tickets on time. This morning, we got Samuel's Canadian passport no problem but they lost his Vietnamese passport and it took them an hour and a half to find it. Now it's 11:30 at night and we just received our e-tickets by email with less than 12 hours until the flight leaves. Wow. Only you God...

In other their news, my boy did such a good job waiting this morning but after an hour he was done and we were starting to get dirty looks from the man behind the counter (sorry - that's what happens when you make a child wait for over an hour and a half!). This afternoon we went for another electric bus ride and then out for what will hopefully be our last meal in Hanoi...

Samuel was really engaged during the ride this time and
lasted a whole 20 minutes before falling asleep :)

Hmm... is something a little backwards here???

One last spaghetti dinner - he finished an entire plate!
Does anyone have a good recipe for spaghetti pomodoro?!?!

Samuel said three new English words today - Monkey (thank you Barrel of Monkeys!), Hot (thank you instant noodles... don't judge, we're living in a hotel room!) and Baby (poor boy, I call him "baby" just about as often as I call him Samuel... Samuel, baby, monkey, silly billy, funny bunny - poor kid probably can't figure out how many names he has!).

I have yet another prayer request... Samuel had a huge meltdown on our way home from dinner tonight. I thought it was because I took his hat away after he repeatedly threw it on the ground and that may have been what started it but it was definitely more than that. He screamed and sobbed all the way back to the hotel and continued to be inconsolable for another 20 minutes after that. Samuel has some sort of sore on his thigh/bum that he's had since I got him that I have been treating but it hasn't really improved. Up until now it didn't seem to be bothering him much but he was definitely grabbing it it tonight and I think that was part of what had him so upset. I think I'm going to have to have it looked at once we get home but in the meantime please pray that it would not cause any pain or complications during our long trip tomorrow. Still, there was more to his meltdown than just that and it's times like these that I wish my sweet boy could tell me what he's feeling... Please pray for his little heart tomorrow as he faces yet a whole new set of changes and please continue to pray that God would help me to know how to respond to my son's needs both during our trip and once we arrive home.

Thanks for standing with us this far - we're almost there!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Day Eleven

To preserve everyone's sanity, back to the mega mall we went today... Grandma decided to come in this time to get some pictures and to see Samuel's delight for herself. Unfortunately the camera battery died so we didn't get many pictures but here are a few good ones.

My little daredevil loved this ride which was s0 fast even adults enjoyed it...
He's not afraid of anything and was just laughing and laughing!

Getting more comfortable in the ball pit... 

My sweet boy was having a mama day and wanted me right beside
him every minute, even on this little car video game ride.

Once again I have good news and bad news... The good news is we now have three confirmed tickets on Wednesday morning's flight. The bad news is I got word from my facilitator today that the Canadian Embassy is now saying that they're not sure if Samuel's passport will be ready for tomorrow. I'm sure you can imagine our frustration. We were sooo excited to know for sure that we would be able to leave on Wednesday, now this. I don't know what God is doing but I do know that He's still got this and that whatever happens, it will be for His glory. Our appointment at the Embassy is at 9:30 tomorrow morning (10:30 Monday night Montreal time)... Please pray.

One sweet story in the midst of all this... We took a field trip to the airline office this morning and while sitting waiting Samuel noticed a little cafe/restaurant across the hall. There were no customers but Samuel saw the small tables and big wooden chairs, just like all the other cafes we've been to for our afternoon smoothies. All of a sudden Samuel turned to me, pointed at the cafe and said "go eat". Oh dear, I'm turning my child into one ritzy little boy... Oh well, at least he's a brilliant ritzy little boy who knows how to ask for what he wants!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day Ten

The rain held off long enough today for us to go to the circus where they have a special children's performance on Sunday morning - Samuel loved it! It was much better suited for Samuel than the water puppet theatre as the audience was full of children and Samuel did not have to sit still or stay quiet. There were dogs, snakes, bears, monkeys and elephants. Samuel especially enjoyed the acrobatics but his favourite was definitely the clowns who had him laughing out loud several times which is quite a feat when we are out in public. Mama also enjoyed the clowns and acrobatics but my favourite part was watching the smiles that lit up my sweet boy's face.

By special request... A picture of Grandma and Samuel :)

We brought a helium balloon home from the circus which provided an afternoon of fun (thank goodness as it started storming shortly after we got back to the hotel!). This is what 10 days stuck in a hotel room looks like...

We have two seats confirmed for the Wednesday flight and are just waiting for one more... please keep praying. Hopefully next time you hear from me we will officially only have one day left!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Day Nine

The rain let up this afternoon. Not in time for a real outing but we were ale to take a walk around the lake and I'm hoping this means that it might not be raining tomorrow.

Not much to share today except for a prayer request... We still haven't heard about whether we'll be able to get a flight out early or not. The reality is that the thought of being here for another full week is quite unbearable. My sweet boy is restless and bored stuck in the hotel room and is pushing every boundary which has resulted in me spending half the day saying no which is no fun for either of us. While better weather would be nice, Samuel is becoming more and more overwhelmed each day by the chaos that is Hanoi and I now have to carry him everywhere we go as he refuses to walk. I could not be more thankful that my precious son feels safe in my arms but I'm not sure my body can survive another week of this. Add to all of that well meaning hotel staff who love Samuel yet are beginning to unintentionally undermine my attachment with him, resulting in Samuel having a melt down this afternoon for the first time since the day I got him... All that to say, I am so ready to go home and I think Samuel is too. I know God has got this all under control so please pray that if it is His plan for us to stay here another week that we would be able to submit willfully to that and that He would give us all we need to make it through. Otherwise, please pray that He would open up the way for us to leave early. Thank you so much for standing with us in this. Three days may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but from where we're standing right now, it might as well be three weeks.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Day Eight

The Great News: My son pooped this morning!!! His mama just about threw a party... :) Your continued prayers in this area would be greatly appreciated.

The Good News: We got word today that we will be receiving Samuel's Vietnamese and Canadian passports on Tuesday morning, at which time we are free to leave the country.

The Bad News: At this point, it looks like there are no available seats on any of the earlier flights out and it looks like we may have to stay here until Saturday anyway.

The Mundane News: It rained again today. We spent most of the day playing at the hotel with a brief outing to the Water Puppet Theatre which is a big tourist attraction within a ten minute walk from our hotel. Little boys are clearly not made to be constrained in theatre seats and Samuel had a hard time sitting still but seemed to enjoy it. Mama mostly saw the back of Samuel's head but the music was good and it was nice to take in some of the culture as opposed to our Mega Mall experience.

Well, that's about it for today. It's been one week since I became a mother... I thought I'd have some more profound revelation to share but the reality it is it all just feels so natural, normal and right. He's my son and I'm his mom and although I grieve the years that we lost, at the same time it feels like he has always been mine. I fall more in love with him every day and just can't wait to get him home so we can begin our new life together.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day Seven

It was pouring outside today (anyone else noticing a common theme here???) so back to the Mega Mall we went, this time to check out the water park. My sweet, brave, sensory-seeking, thrill-loving boy loved it! It was two hours of pure laughter until his lips were purple and his teeth were chattering and I had to pull him out against his will. Today, Grandma decided to pay the extra $8 to come in and watch and I think the front row seat to her grandson's sheer delight was worth every penny.

On a totally separate note, I could use some advice from all you parents and especially adoptive parents out there (those of you who don't like bathroom talk may want to skip this part)... Samuel has only pooped twice since I got him a week ago tomorrow. Once right after he arrived and again Monday morning; nothing since. He has been drinking lots of water and eating lots of fruit, little dairy and no junk food but still nothing. On Monday I was able to get him to go by having him sit on his potty bowl for a while but now he is refusing to sit on the potty bowl or toilet for any length of time. I tried giving him baby prunes today but he wouldn't eat them. I'm starting to get concerned as I really don't want this to turn into a serious problem. Any advice or suggestions anyone has for things I can try (bearing in mind that I am in Vietnam) would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day Six

I am happy to report that my boy was back to his sweet self today. It rained all day today but we didn't let that keep us from having a great day. Today we ventured out to find Vincom Mega Mall which is essentially Vietnam's version of West Edmonton Mall. With an indoor skating rink and water park, bowling, a children's play area, etc. I figured if nothing else there'd be plenty for Samuel to look at from the safety of his stroller.

Posing with our friends from Madagascar... LOL

Of course every outing has to include a yummy drink!
As it turns out, Samuel loved the children's pay area which consisted of an arcade, play structure, rides and more. It was a quiet day with very few people which made it perfect for my boy to explore without becoming overwhlemed by too many people. We were in there for over two hours making it a $13 very well spent. Grandma stayed outside and mommy struggled with being the supervisor, playmate and photographer all at the same time but I did manage to get some good shots so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking...

He tollerated the ball pit but just barely

Climbing up...

Sliding down...

Riding the car down a little track/ramp

He knew exactly what to do and proved to be a very good climber.

Of course my son loved the car :)

Samuel's first sand experience...
we spent nearly 25 minutes in here.
His first arcade game...
he wan't too sure at first but got into it after a couple of minutes.

My son, who normally shows no interest in balls, loved all these games
where you had to throw balls into various types of holes.

On the merry-go-round

Riding the bumper cars...
(I rode with him, this picture was taken after the ride was over)

Don't let the lack of smile fool you, Samuel loved this ride
and rode it over and over again. Each time it was finished I
would go over and ask him, "All done?" to which he would
shake his head no. When I asked if he wanted more,
he would give me an emphatic head nod for yes. 

This fishing game, similar to what you might find at a carnival, was one of  Samuel's favourite
parts of the whole day and every time he caught one and threw it back he was litterally
laughing out loud - something we very rarely hear outside of our hotel room!

Samuel did show interest in the water park, which you could see from inside the play area, and nodded yes when I asked him if he wanted to go so we may have to go back and give it a try later this week. While I'm still praying for better weather, it's good to know we don't have to be stuck in the hotel if it rains.