Monday, December 21, 2009

Home for the Holidays!

Christmas time is a time to reflect.

For the last 10 years or so, Martin and I have not been at home (Ottawa) for the holidays. We have always divided the occasion into 2 cities. Some years we go to Brampton (my family) and then we go to Quebec (Martin's family). It was always something we did. Tradition I guess you can call it. We both have big families and we didn't have any children at the time so it was easier for us to travel. However, in the last few years (as we are getting older in age ...hehehe), we have been telling ourselves "When we have kids, that's it...we are staying in Ottawa and family will have to come and visit us." Now that we know Olivia is in our lives...I'm thinking...will our Christmas holiday plans really change?

First of all, I want to say that CHRISTMAS is my most favourite holiday. I love the music, I love the decorations and lights, I love the happy greetings, everything. Okay..yes..the mall is a bit cuckcoo and driving around during the holidays can make you mental, and yes..the shopping has become too much. But even with that and it's whole commericalism part...I love Christmas. You wouldn't know it by looking at our house this year though. hahaha Since finding out about Olivia, there has been no time to go to the basement and dig up all my holiday decorations. The only thing we managed to do was put up our 12ft Christmas tree with white Christmas lights. There is a lonely silver snowflake up at the top of the tree from last year. sigh. As well, I did manage to find our stockings and put it over the mantle. It might not get filled, but at least it's up. (Next year, one more stocking in the middle) There has just been more important things to do with our free time this December. I think making up Olivia's room was more important. :0)

But in this blog I want to write to Olivia and tell her about how my Christmas' were with my family. Things I remember:

First of all, to put things in perspective...My family immigrated to Canada in the early 70's. Celebrating Christmas in a new country full of snow was enough to make new traditions. Can't roast the pig (lechon) in the fire pit outside! hahahah I have to say though, there has always been a balance of traditional filipino food and desserts (lechon, pancit, pancit molo etc., and my favourite conchinta) and canadian-style dishes (turkey, mashed potatoes, ham etc.). I loved it all! On my plate - turkey, ham, rice, mashed potatoes, and some pancit - but of course you start with soup). Growing up Christmas in our family was HUGE! Christmas in the Philippines meant big gatherings of family and friends. This was the same in Canada. In the beginning we didn't have a lot of family, just a small group in Brampton, but my Tita Letty would invite all the filipinos in Brampton if she could. It didn't matter. By the end, I called all of them aunts and uncles (tita and tito) and cousins. Every filipino we knew was some family relation. hahahha

I was the first Canadian-born in our family. All my cousins then were teenagers and I was the only baby. Not that I remember, but apparently it was a big deal, and I was spoiled. hehehe.
Then my older cousins started to have their own children, and soon by Christmas time, there were many children to spoil. Oh it was so much fun! We would start of by going to mass around 7:00 as a family, then head off to my Clarence (my aunt's home - we call it Clarence because it was on the Clarence street). Then slowly other families would arrive and we would start dinner. Kids running around, adults playing mahjong in the kitchen. It was pretty busy. Then around 11:45, my dad would start handing out these HUGE black garbage bags. They were HUGE. So imagine about 10 kids all sitting in this living room with huge garbage bags waiting for 12:00 to roll around so we could open and pass the gifts. Then..finally midnight! That meant we could open the gifts!!!!! It was insane! Paper flying all around, screams of joy, and hugs and thank you's! But we had to remember, no opening of the box until you said thank you. They had to be put bag in the plastic bag until everything was opened or else it would have gotten mixed up with someone else's toy. We had the system down pat. By 1:00 everything died down, we were anxious to get home so we could play with our toys. Also, there would be more presents under our own tree at home.

We would get home and open more presents. It's amazing how parents were so intuned with the toys that we really wanted. hahahha. I have to say my mom did well to provide us with all the latest toys. She must have talked to Santa! Santa and my parents were in touch with each other often, because I remember having this awesome playroom with toys galore. Now, I don't know how parents do it now with all those toys to choose from and then where to put them! ??I remember looking at my gifts in the morning...SANTA! Oh my gosh..he came! Then as I grew older, I would look at the's printing looks like mom's printing. (was I destined to be a teacher or what..hahhaha). Then mom's printing turned into cursive. I don't remember exactly the moment when I knew Santa just told my mom what to get and put his name on it. ;0) He must have been really busy.

I was looking at some toy chests for Olivia, but people have said all her toys will be all over the place. sigh. OH well...I have clothes everywhere. hahahah

So finally, we would wake up really early in the morning to play with the them. It's funny, back then we would groan when we would get pajamas or slippers for Christmas. They were great, but it was as bad as getting clothes. Now, I squeal with glee when I get comfy pjs that I could lounge around in. hahhaha And socks...I love getting socks now. I would wear mine out for the year...get holes in them but too lazy (or cheap) to buy new ones. ;0) We didn't really do stockings until we were a bit older. We never had a fireplace to hang them until we moved to Gatesgill. By then though, me and Melissa would fill each other's stockings with goodies. LOL. Ferrero for me and shell chocolate for her. Traditions. I love Christmas.

On the 25th, we went to mass again in the morning. Then off to another relatives house for lunch. Then back home for a family dinner with other relatives coming. The 26th (Boxing day - when things were actually still closed), we would go to another relatives house to have lunch. It was all so yummy. Always the balance of canadian and filipino food. I remember a couple of days before Christmas, I would help my grandmother making these special candies (yemas) that used condensed milk and brown sugar. Then we would roll them and wrap it in these coloured cellophane papers. She was so patient in making them. I think I would like to try to make them with Olivia when she gets older. It took a long time to make and you needed to be patient, but my grandmother had it down pat.

I remember my parents would have work Christmas parties for kids. They would invite all the employee's kids to a Christmas party. There would be games, sing a longs, and toys for each child. You got to sit on Santa's lap and get more treats. There was always a raffle too. I don't know why, but there were a couple of years in a row that I would win! I won these HUGE stuff animals. I got a huge COOKIE MONSTER and dinosaur. It was crazy! But I loved going to these parties. Now, I haven't' heard of children's Christmas parties at work. Economy? Political correctness? It's too bad because these are very fond memories from my childhood.

So here I am in the kitchen, getting ready to make my trek down to Brampton for Christmas. I'm thinking about what traditions I would like to start or continue with Olivia. I know Martin and I have complained about always driving around on the holidays, but in the end it's all worth it. If I can give Olivia a bit of what I experienced as a child, I would gladly drive every year to see family. It's not about US (Martin and I) anymore, it's about giving Olivia wonderful experiences and lasting memories with family and friends. Especially now that there are so many cousins. The bottom line is, in Ottawa yes we have some family and friends and it will be important to establish some traditions here. I love living in Ottawa, and I can't think of a better place to raise our children. But, family is where home is - if it's in Brampton or St. Sauveur.

I think Christmas has become even more important to me as I get older because, it's the only time that I'm not rushing to see everyone. I can sit and share a moment with my parents and sister. I get to spend some time with family and friends that I so miss and love. I think I can say this for Martin as well, family is so important to us. Family is such an important value that we share. That is what I want to share with Olivia - the gift of precious time with family.

So to answer my question in the beginning - Will things change when Olivia is here? Sure, we might have to have to celebrate our Christmas' a different way. There will be more planning involved and coordinating times. But...will we stop travelling? NOPE. Time with family, that's all that matters. I can't wait till next Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nursery almost done!

Today we had some visitors. Grandpapa and grandmaman Savard came for a visit. We haven't seen them since they left for Orlando. They got the news on Clearwater beach...hmmm..another sign?

They came down to hear the news again about Olivia, we showed pictures, we cried (well the women did), and then we planned for our upcoming trip. I'm leaving for Toronto in the next couple of days...will go through the retelling our story about Olivia. I'm pretty sure more tears as well with Lolo and Lola Ortiz. hhahaha Anyways, we went to our favourite restaurant and had a awesome bottle of wine. Then, came home and put them to work! :0)

I wanted something special for Olivia's room and so I got a quote made for her to put above her crib. It comes from my favourite book "I'll Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch. I've given this book to everyone and anyone whose had a baby. It's such a touching story about a mother's bond to her child.'ll make you cry. I remember reading this story for Mother's Day to my grade 1 students. Won't do that again. I got all choked up and started tearing. They just sat there staring at me. Ya...not a good read aloud lesson. I think it was also during a time when I was going through fertility issues. You could imagine. hahaha Ah well...

So today we put up the quote on the wall. If you can't see it from the pictures it goes like this:
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living, My baby you'll be."

Merci grandpapa et grandmama pour votre aide!

(This blog is dedicated to Vivi :0) )

Friday, December 18, 2009

What a week...another step closer

Busy week.. It was the last week of school before the school holidays. With the Christmas excitement and the freezing temperatures, it was hard for the kids (and the teachers to focus). One teacher in particular of course. We got our Letter of No Objection (LONO) from the government on Monday. Woohoo! Why would they object? :0) That meant final file sent to Korea and now we wait for a travel call. Can this really be happening?

Then we mailed our Christmas package to Olivia. Have been tracking it since we mailed and it looks like the SWS received it this morning. YAY! Oh my a few just hit me...she's going to look at those pictures and they are going to tell her that's "mommy and daddy". She's going to study what we look like, she's going to hear our voices for the first time from the teddy bear. She's going to touch the blanket that I cuddled for so long before putting it in the box. She's going to smell the small blankie that was kept in our bed so she could smell our scent. We had ask that the foster family to start calling her Olivia so the transition would be smooth. She'll be hearing her "canadian" name for the first time. Thinking about it now...we are connecting with her in so many ways. It's no wonder by the end of this week, our hearts are achy because we miss her so much. The sense of touch. Soon.

This week instead of getting gifts for Christmas from friends, I was getting small gifts for Olivia. It was so very exciting. My friends are coming up to me and asking me about a baby shower. It's all surreal. A baby shower for me?

With every gift, with every purchase we do for Olivia, it's starting to feel more real than just a dream. We are getting closer to getting Olivia in our arms, but she is already in our hearts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Package sent to Olivia!

It's been 2 weeks since we found about our little Olivia. Last week we finally finished all the paper work we needed to do and the next step was to focus on what to get our daughter for Christmas. Her first Christmas. The minute we got the okay from Maria to send something to Foster Mother...I was on it. Actually I have been collecting for awhile, not knowing who I would be sending it to or when.

So what to send???? Ugh...I would have sent the moon if I could pack it! hahahhaa
Everything changed when Martin told me he was going to FedEx it. That meant weight and cost limitations. :0( I kind of packed a little bit too much. I wanted to make sure she had everything and spoil her a bit. For goodness sake, we were not going to be there for Christmas!
So on the weekend, me and Martin made a list of things that were "essential" to be put in the package. sigh. My 8 board books were out! At least Olivia got 1.

In the package we sent:
  • A Build-A-Bear - argued about which animal to choose. He wanted penguin...I wanted pony. We settled on a bear, which we named KONA (sigh). In his paws we recorded our voices telling her how much we loved her. ("Hello Olivia, It's mommy, I love you!", "Allo Olivia, c'est Papa, Je t'aime!")
  • Board Book - "ABC Canada" - There were so many others to choose from, but it was cute and colourful and "educational". hehehe I'll bring the other 8 on the plane.
  • some onesies (size 9 months and 12 months - just is case). There were others that I bought but decided on the 2. Costco is great!
  • a beautiful blankie - I kind of splurged on this one. But's my little girl and it's Christmas!
  • Baby Photo Album book - soft book with our pictures. We read the story..doesn't make sense..hahah..but who cares she's just going to look at the pictures. :0) We were going to do another photo album of her big stuff lamb placed in different rooms of the house. This was to help her with the transition when she came home. The idea was that by looking at the pictures of the rooms with her lamb, she would feel more comfortable and at ease when she came home because it was familiar. I might take this on the plane too. :0)
  • DVD - Baby Einstein - What can I say...I'm a teacher! It weighs nothing.
  • A rattle - given from a friend at work. There was supposed to be another stuff rabbit (oh so soft and pink!), but didn't have room in the box. Sorry Trish, but I will take in on the plane with me.
  • A "Sophie" the giraffe small blankie - everyone needs a "Sophie"
  • 2 disposable cameras. I know only 2! I hope they don't take her pictures in a day. ahhah
  • Finally, a gift for foster brother and sister. ROOTS products of course.

We decided to wait for a gift for foster mom and foster dad when we arrive. As well as getting as gift for the social worker. That might take some time to find. We did include a letter to them expressing our sincere gratitude for making sure Olivia is being taken care of. Just the thought of it now, I could have written pages thanking them over and over. We can't wait to meet them.

So in the end our package was finally ready to be mailed. We wanted to send it to her before Christmas, hence the "need" for FedEx. Unfortunately, it cost us about $200 to send it to her. All worth it, but might not send a second package then. After all, we might be there in a few weeks. :0)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Marty 2nd attempt to blog!!

Well, here we are, December 10, 2 weeks before Christmas, which came early for us this year.
After years of struggle trying to build our family, and hoping to fill our house with laughter, cries and joy….. 2009 became one memorable year with Olivia’s referral.
It took us a long time to get there, but the cliché is right! All good things are difficult to get.
After all these year, I couldn’t believe that one of the simple things I apply to my career would resonate in my personal life; Failure=opportunity

As for most adoptive parent, adoption originally came to us has an alternative way to build a family.
Looking back, I understand that there was a process that we both needed to go through.
Men and women deal differently with challenges/failure, and quite frankly in my case I could have not get through this without my soul mate.
All those failure, I now see them as the original building blocks for our family.
This process allowed us to be at peace with ourselves and ready as we move forward with our life and await the arrival of Olivia. I new path has been define, and we are blessed to be part of it.
If you didn't know, when your start the adoption process, it is not recommended to get pregnant, since this will abruptly stop the process and application will be refused.
This is why during this process we decided to stop “trying”, since we strongly felt that if we where to get pregnant, we would then lose our first child by not being able to adopt.

For people who know me, you know I am more a spiritual person then a religious one, but with everything that has happens and the timing of it..someone, somewhere is clearly pushing favors!
As we look forward to the next few moths, waiting to finally meet our baby girl, I can’t stop thinking on how she has already changed us.
I know, once we see her for the first time,the joy and the love we have for her, will not be shared ...(and probably a few days after that too…..) but as she grow older, we will always make sure she remember how much she touched us the first time we saw her picture and the first time we hugged her.

Most people, when they learn that we are adopting, are immediately praising us, telling us how brave we are and how much of a good thing we are doing for that child, but little do you know that the brave person in all this is Olivia.
In fact, she is the one saving us, by allowing us to share her world, to let us love her, care for her and be part of her life journey….that as already started, 6 month before we came about!
Can’t wait to see you baby girl.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Forms for dummies!

Well..remember all those stupid complicated forms that I had to fill out.
Ya...welll...they're not all complicated.
You I said before, I get anxious filling out GOVERNMENT forms. Yes, the agency gives you a template to FOLLOW. I did follow the template. But there were extra forms in the package I got.
So....I filled those out too. They were the hardest forms ever, and I didn't have to fill out. 2 extra hours. sigh.

Here is our program director's response:

"Ok. Got your package. Took out all the immigration papers you didn't need to fill in."

Sigh. Next time I'll know what to do. :0)

Post referral documents went well. Pretty straightforward.

Olivia's First Gifts

The day we found out about Olivia we ran out of work and didn't look back. What I didn't know, while we were running around getting papers looked at and signed, friends came together and made a surprise that I will never forget.

You know who you were there every step of the way of our journey and for that I thank you and will always be grateful that you were part of our special day. I can't wait for you to meet Olivia and she can thank you personally. Maybe with a slobbery kiss. ahahah :0)

Sens jersey was given to Martin as a birthday gift. Daddy will have some convincing to do with Olivia. She might be a Sens Fan!
On the right, were gifts given to me on my first day back from finding out. Friends managed to put all of these things on my desk. :0) It took me awhile to get to my classroom because I was talking to people in the hallway. It wasn't until Steph told me to turn around and look at my desk. What a surprise! I had to put in the another room before the kids came in. I didn't feel like explaining it to them yet. hahahah "What do you mean you're having a baby?"
Finally these onesies are the first purchase I ever made for "the baby". I bought these back in August when Martin came back from Ironman Canada. I couldn't resist. That's all daddy needs, his little girl waiting for him at the finish line.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dear Mich

Today is my best friend Mich's birthday (December 6th). Yes, the big old 36 (sorry Mich!). I have know Mich since grade 9 and we instantly connected especially since she found my long lost bike chain. :0)

Even our parents became friends and soon we were on family vacations together and now we're just like family. Now at 36, she is the mother of 2 beautiful babies - Bella and Jake. In October, Mich urged me to go with her to the Toronto Baby Show. I had just been in TO the week before and really didn't feel like going back the following weekend. I was bushed. However, my wonderful husband reminded me that this was the time to go and check out stuff for the baby. I hate to say it, but the one in Ottawa was pretty lame. So, my parents got me a plane ticket with their points and I flew to TO instead of driving. That was awesome.

Anyways, my blog today is a letter I composed on the plane on my return back to Ottawa. It's sort of an "Ode to Mich". I was going to put it in a letter and send it to her, but instead I wanted everyone to know what a special friend she is and how much she means to me.

"Dear Mich,

I'm sitting on the plane, just thinking about the stuff I bought this weekend and I'm getting pretty excited. HOLY CRAP I GOT A STROLLER! There is a chance that I might have to wait another 6 months to use it, but I don't care. I just wanted to say thank you so much for your continued support in our journey. What a journey we've both been on from adolescent to adulthood to parenthood. I remember almost a year ago that we were at the spa "doing our thing" in between spa treatments! How insane is that.

You've been my biggest fan, supporter, and confidant. You're excitement about this adoption got me through some tough times. There were times where I didn't want to think about the process because I was afraid to be disappointed. But you were there, "'s going to happen. You're going to be a mom! You better start shopping!" hahahhahah

Our daily "chats" just knowing that you are there for me, I feel so ever blessed. Just being with you and the babies on Saturday got me excited about the possibility of becoming a parent very soon (plus all the freebies ..heheheh). Something we both prayed and prayed for to happen. Faith and hope brought us here and together we face another journey as parents. How exciting!

Thank you for being my "soul" sister,
Mel "


So, to anyone who has gone through the adoption process or is going through the process, filling out forms should be a piece of cake because we've done so much. Except for me.
I get sooo stressed out filling out these forms, making sure it's grammatically correct, it makes sense, etc. Then...there are the government forms!!! I hate those ones the most. Why? Because they say...if they are not filled out properly or in detail it will be returned back to you and it "might" delay the process. UGH! Being in this process, you know timing is everything. So making sure it's correctly filled out and writing in the proper boxes is stressful. If I make a mistake, can I use white out? Why don't they have a 24 hour help hotline? I'm praying that we filled out the "finalizing" documents properly. I guess "it is what it is". One closer step to getting Olivia home.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pic of the day and Marty attempt to blog

Hi Everyone, thanks for following, everyday we are still pinching ourselves [and for the record, my tears are from the pinching ;-).....] and realizing that it's time to really get stuff ready, travel, baby stuff and all.......mostly we are excited about finalizing part 1 of the paperwork on Monday (letter of Acceptance, notorise documents and stuff), so the final CIC paper can get done fast..then it's wait time until travel notice.(Mel will get into more details in a later post)

Here she is again...based on her look, she is probably "hunting" for that's my baby

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy 6th month birthday Olivia!

I have a cousin who celebrated their son's "birthday" every month. They would get a cake and sing happy birthday. My poor cousin and parents got stuck eating a huge birthday cake every month. I thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. Why would they do that? What a waste of good cake? hahahha

So here we are and it's Olivia's 6 month birthday. She was born June 3rd. And you know what? I want to get a cake and sing happy birthday to her (hubby strongly disagrees with me). The only thing that stops me from breaking out the candles is knowing she will be here for her first birthday and she will blowing out the candle with us. As a parent now (hehehe) who feels so blessed, I understand why celebrating each moment with your child is important. Savouring each day, each month, and each year that they are in our lives. Sooo..even though you are miles away baby girl:

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Olivia, happy birthday day to you"


For those who have been waiting patiently for Olivia's picture, it just took a long time to upload because of the "size" of the file. ;0)

Introducing our beautiful baby girl Olivia. All 20 lbs of her. We have quite a few pictures of her, so to keep you coming back, we'll post a few pictures everyday. Enjoy! She'll put a smile on your faces.

Olivia's Room - Sans furniture

Here's the final pictures without the furniture, window dressings, and wall decor.
Below is also a HUMONGOUS sheep that Martin bought for me (us). I was eyeing it at the store and I came home one day and there he was. Olivia is going to love it! We plan to use it in a picture book. For that we need a name. Any suggestions? Martin wants to go with "KONA". Hmmmmmmm I wonder why?
Above you can see the light fixture we bought from Home Depot. The 2 hour installation made us late for the Korean Adoptee Christmas Party. We not so good with electrical "affordable" products (and IKEA products). it is. Next update, hopefully will be with furniture. If only they stop recalling the ones we want. :0)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's in a name? Part 2

Hello friends and family!

I was going to wait for the pictures, but got some grief from family and friends because I was withholding information about our baby girl.

So what is her name?

OLIVIA Caroline Eunsoo (smile bead) Savard

It is of Latin origin, and its meaning is "olive tree". Coined by Shakespeare as the name of a much-wooed aristocrat in his play "Twelfth Night" (1599). He may have derived the name from the olive plant, or as a feminine form of Oliver. Biblical: the olive tree is a symbol of fruitfulness, beauty, and dignity. Today, "extending an olive branch" traditionally signifies an offer of peace.

We think it's perfect for her. Hopefully after parent interviews I can manage to scan those precious pictures to post. Sorry for the delay :0)

Nursery Vision

 know when you have a vision and you're not sure how to go ahead with that plan? Well, I told Martin my vision and he made it happen. Not by himself of course, and we did question his "ways". But he did good.

In the beginning, it was a girlie girl room. It was so pretty with it's fancy white picket fence and beautiful flower stencils. In the corner of the room there was a phrase "Sophie's a gardenin". Totally cute. Great window dressing that matched the colour of the room. We kept it for a long time because it was so beautifully done. Most people know that it was my room. My "store" of Bath and Body products and my teacher collection of books. It was perfect girl's room. Sorry no "before" picture.
Why change?

Yes, Martin did entertain the thought about keeping the room. He tried to convince me about how hard it would recreate such a room. He tried to convince me that we could name our baby "Sophie" and it would be perfect. Well..what if we didn't get a girl. Then what.

Bottom line was...I wanted a new room. A room that we put our love and hard work in. A room that we envisioned our little one sleeping in (hopefully) and playing in. A room that said "This room belongs to ____". And we got that room. It has all the things that we wanted for a nursery. Thanks Hans! hahahhaha

Poor Martin he executed the plan perfectly. He just became however, a bystander in the construction of the room. Power saws and nail guns a little scary if you don't know what you are doing. Here's a preview of what went down. :0)
Final product coming. :0)