August 10th, marks one year for our beautiful 4 year old angel setting foot on Canadian soil and becoming part of our family. Regan stepped off the plane and was welcomed by the entire family all 24 of them at Pearson International Airport. Needless to say that our little princess was exhausted from the 34 hour flight and stop overs and certainly nervous and scared. She stuck very close to her adopted mom clinging tightly to her jeans as she peered out from behind her mom to see what was going on and what all the commotion was about.
Of course the entire family came to the airport bearing gifts which made Regan’s day. It was also the first time Caleb got to meet his little sister, and he graduated to being a big brother. He was also thrilled and nervous. He did impress me when he walked up to Regan to give her a big hug. Of course he was conversing with her in English and she had no idea what he was saying as she responded in Hindi. It was quite hilarious as they had a full on conversation without the other having absolutely no idea what they were saying to each other.
Fast forward three hundred and sixty five days later and our little chickadee is a year older, speaks fluentl English, enjoys Peppa Pig, can navigate all the functions on an Ipad and has immersed herself in the Canadian culture. There were so many firsts that the family experienced together. Her first birthday party, first Christmas and the excitement of opening tons of presents, first day of school, first note from her teacher, first fight with her brother, first hugs for her mom and dad. Yes, I can go on forever to list the number of firsts that we experienced all over again with our second blessing to our family. As I reflect on the first year with Regan there are so many things I want to tell her as she grows up. I hope one day Regan has the opportunity to return back to this post and read the seven things that I believe she should always follow.
Your smile is your best accessory – a smile warms the heart. It is a universal sign of kindness. Also, a smile costs you nothing but in return gives back so much to the other person. It has no value to anyone until it is given away.
Learn to be happy on your own and don’t be scared of solitude – don’t give up your individuality to fit into the crowd. A lot of the greatest men and women understood that for them to successful they sometimes had to do things their own way.
Be a reader of books – leaders are readers. The world of books takes you to such magical places and helps you grow into an amazing and rounded person. Learning from the stories of people who have already done it is much easier that trying to do it alone.
Learn to say No – Often we feel bad when we say no. Your time and your focus cannot be consumed with things and people who are not making you better.
Be Yourself and Love what you Love. Do what you want to do, and don’t listen to anyone, follow your heart – people around you believe they are doing and coaching you based on their experiences. But that’s just it – it was their experience, not yours. There will be a time when mom and dad will think they are steering you in a direction they feel is best for you – if it does not fit with what you believe in your heart of hearts is not your dream then let us know. Your passion will lead you to happiness and riches.
Never chase after someone who doesn’t love you. You can’t force them to love you – never ever settle when it comes to love. Give your heart away, know that it will be broken – but that’s part of the process of falling in love.
Pursue your dreams – never let anyone whoever they are, tell you that it’s not worth it. – dream big and dream often!
Our little angel these are just few of life’s lessons that you will learn as you continue to grow and experience the ups and downs of life. We are so proud to have you as part of our family.
Wow…what an absolutely amazing vacation… here is a view from our suite in the beautiful hotel we stayed at. This was Regan’s first trip with our family and boy was she ever excited. Every night after she said her prayers she would jump in her bed and utter the words in not so perfect English…I’m going to Kaankuun… Caleb of course had been on numerous trips before and was the expert telling her about the sand castles he would help her build and the swimming pools and slides they would be going down. Regan would listen to Caleb intently every night and her eyes would light up as Caleb told her stories of what they would do in Cancun. As parents of 2 adopted children you hope and pray that your kids who have had such different childhood experiences are able to bond and form that strong relationship. Slowly over time – yes we had some major challenges when Regan first joined the family, it warms our hearts to see Caleb taking on the responsibility of being an older brother and coaching his sister.
On the day of our departure to the airport, we were splendidly surprised when we got a call from our parents who told us that they were sending a limo to pick us up and drop us to the airport. As the stretch limousine pulled into our street the kids could not contain their excitement. They were out the door with their suitcases in tow ready to hop into the limo. The limo driver, John was extremely professional and courteous and the limo itself was very luxurious. I want to give a special shout out to Ajax Prestige Limo Service for creating memories even before we got on the plane. Our flight was uneventful except for the 2 little chickadees fighting for the window seat. Mom of course being the perfect negotiator and influencer, convinced Caleb that he could get the window seat on the plane ride back to Toronto.
As we landed in Cancun and walked out of the airport, the heat and humidity hit us right away and we knew we were in paradise. Our check-in to the 5 star hotel was seamless and as soon as we got into the room the kids unpacked their bathing suits and were ready for the pool. It was definitely a struggle to get the kids to get out of the pool at the end of the day even though they were exhausted. Suffice to say they were both out in an instant as soon as their little heads hit the pillows. Beverley and myself could finally relax on our hotel balcony and take in some alone time before we did it all again the next day. As we reflected on the days events we were amazed at how the simplest of things excited our little ones. It was the first time that Regan had seen the huge waves and she could not understand what exactly they were. The first time we took her into the water, she ran out of the water as soon as the waves crested with the white foam.
So we know Cancun is not really considered a family destination. With the plethora of clubs like Coco Bongo and Senor Frog’s it is normally considered a destination for young party goers looking for that wild club scene. However, we were surprised with the number of other points of interest for family excursions. I would definitely recommend it for a family trip given the number of excursions we were able to enjoy with our kids. 2 of the excursions we went on were:
Xel-Há Park- from snorkelling, to the river tour and the exploration of the caves there were so many activities for the kids and adults alike. Definitely, recommend adding the transportation option into the excursion and offer yourself peace of mind.
Xcaret Park – again this park offers so many activities for the kids and also adds an added piece of helping the kids learn about the history of the Mayan archaeological culture.
Beyond the memories that were created on this amazing vacation one of the biggest memory for both myself and my wife was on the last day as we were packing to leave for the airport, Regan stopped for a second and turned to us and said “thank you mummy and daddy for taking me on a plane not back to India and for playing with me in the pool”. This statement brought tears to our eyes and melted our hearts to see our baby girl growing up. This trip to Cancun will certainly be etched in our memory for all the wonderful moments that were created.
So another school year has come to an end. I was blessed this school year to take an active role in both my little chickadee’s school activities and day trips as I was a stay at home dad for seven months on parental leave. The experience was absolutely phenomenal as it opened my world to what other possibilities exist when you have the time freedom with a guaranteed income.
Simple activities like walking the kids to school with the two of them holding my hands and chatting about Barbie and The Avengers, and waiting for them at the end of the school day as the school bell rings and watching their eyes light up as they see me in the school yard as they run towards me with open arms are forever embedded in my memories. These small nuggets of their daily lives mean so much to me as a dad.
Time surely flies and I am surprised that another school year has come to an end. My two little crafty chickadees are filled with new lessons both academically and basic life lessons. I stand in amazement as to how much their little brains absorb and retain new information. Our little Regan, who actually only started junior kindergarten in 2016 has completely transformed. Not speaking a word of English, and as protective parents we were hesitant to send her to school, thinking that she would not fit in and have a really hard time communicating with the other kids. To our amazement, she proved us wrong – within the 6 month span to the end of the school year she progressively got stronger in her communication skills. She now scolds me in full sentences and lectures me on how and what I should be doing. Her favourite phrase is “seriously daddy” – with her hands akimbo.
Kids are like sponges and have absolutely no fear of the unknown. As adults we try and teach them to be cautious. She again has taught me a life lesson of taking imperfect action as opposed to no action at all. Her appetite to explore and absorb as much as life throws her way makes me stand in amazement as to her character and resilience.
Learning to let go will always be a challenge, be it their first day at school, when they are off to university or on the day they get married. Every one of these milestones will help both our kids and we as parents grow.
With the end of the school year now the planning starts around the summer camps, day care schedules and leaning on our parents to look after our little chickadees during the next 8 weeks. We are also off on a much needed vacation in the next week and after a lot of planning we have decided to travel to Cancun and stay at the fabulous Westin Cancun. Will provide updates on the shenanigans of my two little ones when we return.
As parents we always cherish our little ones and are often amazed as we see our kids growing up. Birthday’s of course are a very special event as it marks a milestone in your child’s development. My wife always marks the event of both our little chickadees in an extremely lavish way as birthday’s are super important to her.
I believe part of the reason too is the fact that both our kids missed out on celebrating their first few birthdays growing up in an orphanage where the occasion was really not celebrated. The only time they were both dressed up in fancy garb was when they had to take pictures for the adoption proposal that was sent to us. Even in those cases the clothes were borrowed and recycled from child to child. That being said, my wife feels it imperative that their special day is marked in a big way to help them remember that they are special and loved immensely by the family. We recently celebrated Regan’s fourth birthday – her first being part of our family, with glitz and glam where we had approximately 100 people come join us to honour Regan. We had princess Sophia come to our place and the girls decked themselves out with makeup and nail polish and jewellery. The event was catered and we even had a DJ playing tunes as we rocked the night away. Regan had an absolute blast and what made our day and made my wife cry was when we were tucking her into bed and she gave us both a hug and said ” thank you mommy and daddy for my birthday party”. Kids really amaze you with their honesty and unfiltered comments.
As we continue to grow as a family we start to build new traditions to mark special events. One such tradition that was started by my sister-in-law was to mark the half-birthday’s of our two little ones. I remember the first time she came over with half a cake and a set of balloons to celebrate Caleb’s half-birthday. She threw me for a loop as I had never heard of half-birthday’s. Well Caleb of course took to it like a fish to water as it was another reason to celebrate. My wife definitely did not make a fuss at all and wanted to invite our family over to celebrate the occasion – I of course had to put a stop to that. Caleb did comment that he thought his half-birthday was deserving of a birthday gift too! Needless to say we did end up picking up something small for him to mark the occasion. Now, every year, Caleb makes sure to circle his half-birthday on the calendar and reminds us at the start of the month of his half-birthday of the upcoming event. With the addition of Regan to our family, Caleb is now coaching Regan about half-birthday’s and has also circled her half-birthday on the calendar.
So I would like to say thank you to my sister-in-law for ushering a new tradition to our family. Although, I have titled my post the curse of the half-birthday, it truly is a blessing to be able to have another reason to celebrate and homour our kids. I guess it will start being a curse if the event starts getting out of hand with a more extravagant ccelebration. My sister-in-law, who is an awesome baker and cake decorator actually delved into the art of cake making as a result of our first adoption. The very first cake that she created was for our shower to celebrate Caleb’s arrival. She found that she enjoyed it so much that she has gone on to create masterpieces for other friends and family. Check out her portfolio at www.cakemehome.ca
Time to now go and plan for Regan’s upcoming half-birthday that is just around the corner.
Growing up in a very traditional household with a drill sergeant of a father, the major focus was always around building our IQ. We would spend a fair amount of time on our studies with little importance given to building our other core competencies in the arts, athletics and music. Emotional qualities such as expressing sadness through crying were frowned upon as it was a sign of weakness.
The goal was very simple, study as hard as you can get good grades to enter a good university, specialize in a skill that is in demand so that you will end up in a good paying job and of course give your parents bragging rights amongst their friends. Well, I went that route and made my parents proud, however, I noticed that although I was “book smart”, I lacked certain basic skills related to my EQ or Emotional Intelligence. Over time and having married this special woman who has taught me so much, I am happy to say that I continue to build on my EQ skill set. So, how does all of this relate to my 2 little chickadees?
Well, over the weekend we as a family went out to the movies. The kids wanted to watch Finding Dory that was just released. We grabbed a bag of popcorn, some sugar drinks and candy and settled into watching the movie. Part way through the movie our little Regan started to get disturbed over the movie. She started to say she wanted to leave and she did not like the movie. It was at the part when Dori gets swept away into the pipes that she started to really get anxious and cry and at that point my wife decided to take her out of the movie theatre. Regan and my wife of course did not return and met us in the foyer at the end of the movie.
Normally, we wouldn’t think much of Regan’s reaction to the movie, however, my wife reminded me that Caleb had a similar reaction when he was 4 years old and first watched Finding Nemo. He refused to watch the movie until he turned 7. Having been adopted at such a young age, I believe we were naive as to the trauma and impact that children feel with a sense of abandonment and loss from their birth parents. Even at such a young age their memories are so strong that simple triggers as a movie depicting the breakup of a family can bring back memories of the traumatic event.
Having done more research it is my belief that although we as parents have a commitment to focusing on the IQ of our children, we must place a greater emphasis on building the EQ of our children. I believe EQ trumps IQ when it comes to determining my children’s success in life. A strong EQ will allow my children to be:
All these skills I believe will help them to be change agents and better leaders in whatever they choose to pursue.
With Father’s Day just around the corner thought I’d reflect on my blessings and challenges of being a father to date. See I thought I was ready to be a dad when my wife and I first broached the subject of having kids. This was 15 years ago when we started the all exciting journey of trying to have children. Well after 2 miscarriages, 3 failed attempts of in vitro fertilization, a depleted bank account and the emotional roller coaster ride we were ready to throw in the towel and enjoy a life of DINK.
However, something kept nagging both of us where we had an unfulfilled need to pay our love forward. So after a ton of research we embarked on our journey to adopt. I certainly was fearful of the process and the challenges that would come with it but my wife Beverley assured me that everything was going to be okay. After a ton of paperwork, background checks and adoption loans we brought our first angel home from India in 2009. Caleb was our pride and joy, at 2 years old and a crafty personality, he made us laugh and cry and more that anything he taught me so much about myself. I believed I was a man who had a fair amount of patience, boy was I sadly disappointed. There was certainly new behaviours that I had to learn as I navigated my way through parenthood. Reading as much as I could on parenting certainly helped but there is no magic bullet or manual when it comes to kids. Needless to say we have both grown as Caleb has gotten older. Now 7 years later he is turning into a little man and as I look back on his videos when he first walked into our lives I am amazed at how much he has transformed our lives.
Soon after Caleb came into our lives and we settled in, we embarked again on the adoption of our second child. A year after Caleb’s turned 3 we received news that a little girl in a tiny village in the outskirts of a town called Ranchi was up for adoption. We of course jumped at the opportunity to have this beautiful little girl join our growing family. The process however, took much longer in bringing Regan home and after 4 long years of waiting we headed back to India to pick up our little chickadee and in 2015. At 4 years old and only speaking Hindi, integrating Regan into our family was certainly interesting. We used a lot of hand motions and interpreters (our friends who spoke Hindi, certainly came in handy). What surprised us is what sponges children are. Regan has now been with us since August 2015 and can now communicate in English in full sentences. She definitely is “street smart” compared to her brother who is more “book smart”. Together they are always up to mischievous activities around the house.
Now that you know a bit about how we got here what has all of this taught me about fatherhood. Three lessons that I carry with me as I continue to grow in my role:
My children have been my greatest leadership influence in my life.
My children have taught me to love unconditionally.
My children have helped me grow emotionally and admit my mistakes – I am not always right and I am allowed to make mistakes.
Happy Father’s Day to all those dads out there. Feel free to contact me as I love to hear your experiences.
Hey there! I’m excited to to say hello and welcome to my brand new site. I’m looking to share my experiences about my 2 chickadees – okay they really aren’t birds but my 2 little angels who are 9 and 4. Check back in soon as I start to post some of my stories about my 2 crafty kids.