Sunday, April 04, 2010

First family vacation

We just got back today from our spring break vacation in Kananaskis country. For those who aren't familiar with this little Alberta gem it's a mountain region west of Calgary, and I dare say the view is almost as good as Waterton, our favorite holiday spot. We stayed at a resort called William Watson Lodge, which is a facility built for people with special needs and their families. Since my brother Niels & his wife Janice are fostering a child with a disability we qualified to go (Janice's mom is blind, and actually the booking was done in her name). We left on Wednesday, which wasn't soon enough for Jess. She was so excited the night before, to the point that she got a little testy, but overall she did a good job of being patient. The four hour drive from Edmonton to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, where the lodge is, wasn't bad for Jess in spite of her restless nature. I mention these things because her new Mom & Dad are proud of the way she can handle herself, which isn't easy for Jess. It doesn't mean that there haven't been some rocky moments, but considering the challenges she faced in the past she has grown as a person.

Part of that growth has to do with making new memories with her new family. We got to spend time together, not only as a nuclear family but an extended one, with grandparents, cousins and an aunt & uncle. This was important for us as we want to give Jess a sense of community and belonging. We hope that the memories made will help cement that sense of family, and there certainly were a lot of them. Walks down to the frozen lake shore, down a snowy trail or to the playground were memories made outdoors. Meals together, playing games, watching movies via laptop and projector, an Easter egg hunt and celebrating a birthday were ones made indoors. One of my favorite memories made was our drive into Canmore to go swimming. We played a game where you "packed" a bag for a vacation, and you had to list off the contents in alphabetical order. Everyone takes turns listing off what was packed, and you had to remember what the others had listed for the items. By the end of it we had all packed an apple, a bathing suit, candy, diapers, earrings, a flashlight, a goat, a hat, an iPod, a jumper, a kangaroo, lotion, Mexican jumping beans, nail polish, Ovaltine, a porta-pottie, quick instant coffee, a rocketship, a snake, a twirly-top, a u-haul trailer, a violin, the woods, an x-ray machine, a Yeti and a zoo keeper (presumably to keep all the animals contained in our suitcase).

But now we're back home and settled in for every day life again. It's nice to get away but it's always good to be home. It's especially good because this week we begin the final stage of the adoption process. You see, before we left we got an e-mail from Sharon (our placement worker) who said she was delighted to see how well Jess was settling into our home. Jess' recent report card, which we forwarded to Sharon, showed improved grades and is considered as documented proof of progress. Therefore Sharon wants to make us Jess' legal guardians as soon as possible. So, we have a couple of meetings with Sharon in the near future, and the paperwork gets sent to a judge for finalization. This means Jess' old birth certificate will be destroyed and a new one will be issued. It will have Angel & me named as Jess' parents, and have Jess' new legal name: Jessica Ann Miracle Nicolajsen.

I really like the sound of it. So does Jess :)

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