Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CHRISTMAS!!!!!

This is Ressa, the eighteen year old daughter.  I have to know how to blog for a Technology Skills Assessment at BYU so I figured I could learn by doing a post for my mom.  She thought it was a great idea because she doesn't have to feel guilty for not updating! 
    People often ask us what Christmas is like at our house and today is your lucky day because you get to hear all about it.  Christmas weekend was crazy, but it was a blast!  Christmas Eve started off with getting ready for our new family picture.  This picture's the best we could get in the midst of a crazy day. Our family changes so often that doing occassional snapshots in our living room is much more reasonable than getting professionals done every year...or sometimes even twice a year.  After taking this picture, we ran last minute errands, ate a very yummy Christmas dinner, and opened new pajamas from Grandma and Grandpa.  We read Christmas stories and then everyone slept (or attempted to sleep) in our family room downstairs.  Christmas morning found a couple kids awake at 5 a.m. impatiently waiting for everyone to wake up so we could watch our new movie, "Mr. Popper's Penguins." Mom and Dad started the tradition of giving us a new movie every Christmas morning so they could get a couple more hours of sleep. After the movie, we gave stockings to our parents that some of us had put together and then everyone ran upstairs to see what our parents gave us.  Another reason our family can be a bit of a freak show is because we don't believe in Santa.  Our parents let the cat out of the bag when I was about ten and since then, have taught all their kids that Santa was just a fun Christmas tradition.  I like it much better this way because the idea of parents convicing children something is real just to have them find it was all a lie doesn't seem right to me.  Santa's a fun tradition, but not worth a child's faith in what his/her parents teach. It also helps bring the focus of Christmas back to the Savior and His birth.  Since Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we had to fit watching the movie, opening presents, and skyping with our missionary brother Britton all before church at eleven where Mom sang in a trio and sounded great!  After church, we spent two hours opening family gifts.  After everything was open and the living room was a disaster, we tried out our new Kinect games (Disneyland Adventures...YAY!), played with some fancy shmancy nerf guns, and just relaxed.  Well, there you have it, an extremely simplified version of Christmas at the Walker house. If you want more details, feel free to call my mom.  
     Now that I know how to load a picture and post words, I need to embed a video.  Oh dear, here we go!  This video had my oldest brother, Tyler and I laughing hysterically.  Hopefully it makes you at least crack a smile!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Funny Things Kids Say

Sitting in a restaurant after the finalization for Olivia, Clayson got Hot Chocolate.

 Clayson, "Mom, this is still too hot!"

Me, "Do you want some of my ice?"

Clayson, "Is it warm ice or cold ice?"


In the same restaurant, which happened to be all you can eat, so there were A LOT of gray haired people. Emma very loudly says.

"Grandma Dead!"

Her grandma died a year ago and still thinks about it.


OK, Casey has had a couple of good ones lately but these two are the best.

We were watching a special on some orphans in Uganda.  These kids were between 6 and 11 years old and cute as can be.  For those that don't know, Casey is black and so were these children. Close to the end of the program Casey says,

"It's hard to tell them apart, they all look the same."


I was getting ready to go pick up a friend about 30 minutes away.  I was looking forward to the drive down without children that could talk to me. Just my own thoughts, what a break.

Casey asked, "Can I come?"

Me, "No, I'm going to go by myself."

Casey, "Why?"

Me, "Because I need space."

Casey, "But I'm gonna be sitting in the back."


Here is a serious one.

Last week Bria looked at a picture.  She picked it up and pointed to a pictures of brownies and asked "What is that?"  She then pointed to the ice cream and said "Cold."

Bria is picking up on the language very quickly.  She is now trying to talk about more complex things that she doesn't have the words for yet. Both kids can understand most anything we need them to. It is so amazing how fast the children learn.

I was going to post this separately but decided that since I was on the computer I might as well do it now.

Bria has transformed in the last few weeks.  For quite a while she would have nothing to do with prayers if it was up to her.  We happen to say a lot of prayers around here.  One day she folded her arms and told me to fold mine and said "prayer." She then began to say a little prayer.  She had me tell her all the kids names so she could copy them.  The next week at the dinner table she folded her arms, bowed her head, and closed her eyes.  Doug had called on Clayson to say the prayer and before we knew it Bria was praying for the family.  She started the prayer "Heavenly Father" proceeded to bless the food and say all the names of every member of the family and said "Jesus Christ, Amen."  It was very sweet. 

Both Hyrum and Bria are very sensitive to things of the Spirit.  They both point out Jesus in pictures they have never seen and love saying prayers.  It is neat to see how theses children though abandoned by their earthly parents were never abandoned by their Father in Heaven and they know this.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From an Orphans Prespective

I just came across this video yesterday and it helped to clear up some thoughts that I have had.  There are times when I have wondered if it wouldn't have been better for one of my children to have stayed in the orphanage.  This child has suffered so much and if they had stayed there these things would not have happened. I know it would not have been the ideal but maybe better than what they have been through.  I have to trust God that what He puts into place is always the best thing for each individual. So that means that no matter how difficult the challenge this chain of events will serve them best throughout their life.

Watching this video has helped me to see that in the long run what all children need is love no matter the road to get there.

A little background on the video: The girl in the video clip was adopted days before she turned 14 this past April. To know what she is talking about you need to know that she has severe scoliosis.  Her mother was preparing some things on adoption for her church and this girl asked her what she was doing. When the mother told her she was trying to help others understand the need to adopt the girl wanted to help.  The mom brought over someone with a video camera and completely unrehearsed the girl began to talk.  These are her heart felt feelings about the orphans and adoption. Enjoy the video.

http://elliourgiftfromgod.blogspot.com/p/xiaoyun-speaks.html

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

OK, today was one of those days for me.  At 3:30 I very calmly said "everyone needs to clean the kitchen and family room."  Then I walked out.  On the way to my room to lay down to pull myself together Bria wanted to be held. I just needed some time alone but that doesn't ever happen right now. I put her on the bed and laid down.  Bria sat and stared at me while I closed my eyes.  I finally told her she could go play and she took the bait. I just laid there for a while longer before I got up.

I had a lot of things to do that didn't get done because of other circumstances today, including going shopping.  We have food but I had no idea how to put it together to make it tasty. I made pancakes and sat the kids down to eat while I finished cooking.  I usually try to finish cooking before feeding the kids but I just wanted it done.  While cooking Pierce got up and told me to go eat.  He is very in tune with my needs and thoughtful.  I was close to being done so I told him I would just finish it up.  Well, I wouldn't have let him finish anyway just because that is how I am.  Niya noticed what was happening and she got up and started to push me to the table.  She then said. "Go sit down, Pierce will do it."  It was endearing and funny at the same time.  Yes, Pierce would do it.  Pierce would not sit down until I did then we both ate.

That was a good way to soften a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

On a side note, I am falling madly in love with my little Bria.  She is really coming out of her shell.  She had to lay by me last night to go to sleep. Not only by me but under my covers sharing her blanket with me.  She even gave me a hug and kiss and said "I love you".  We are making fantastic progress.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hyrum's A Star - and other stuff

Hyrum was one of the lucky children in China to be supported by a fantastic group called Love Without Boundaries.  This organization does everything from medical intervention for orphans to supporting with food, clothes and supplying foster care.  Along with that support also comes advocating for the children that are available for adoption.  It is through their blog that I learned about Hyrum.  When we got back from China I requested any information or pictures they had of him as he grew.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was asked to write an update on Hyrum. I was happy to do whatever they asked of me.  I don't have a lot of time or brain power to write well but I figures someone would edit for me.  Thank heavens that a great lady Barbara is more talented than me because she cleaned up what I had sent her and published it on the LWB blog.

It occurred to me yesterday that my little boy was going to be a star.  How cool is that?!  Here is the link to the LWB post if you are interested. http://www.lwbcommunity.org/an-adoption-story-hyrum.  That is my little boy! :)

When Barbara sent me the proof she said that the picture of Hyrum on the counter surrounded by the family could keep her motivated.  I almost didn't send that picture.  I really don't like pictures of me, mostly because I don't like how I look and I don't feel like that is the me inside.  I haven't done very well lately of getting my makeup on either.  I really am back in baby mode.  I was hoping Barbara wouldn't use that picture but she did.  It is amazing to me how the Lord works.  I don't like a picture but send it anyway so they would have more to choose from. That picture not only gets used but makes a difference in someone Else's life.  The Lord is good.

A little update on Hyrum and Bria.  Bria is talking more and more.  She has opened up  a lot more and is giving hugs but refuses to let me give her a kiss if I ask. I get around that by just doing it.:))  Bria has been sleeping on a twin bed next to our bed while Hyrum has manipulated his way to our bed and sometimes in the middle of us. I lay with them while they fall asleep.  Hyrum cuddles in and I put my arm out to touch Bria.  Most of the time she moves as far away as possible.  In the last few days she has taken my hand and hugged it or cuddled up to Hyrum, who is next to me or other little things that show she is opening up.  Last night she scooted onto my bed and took my hand for a while.  That was huge for her!  She has also been running up to me and giving me big hugs.  We see much more happiness.  Not to often does she close down into herself or seem sad.  She is playing and wanting to be treated like a baby.

Hyrum is also doing very well.  He is such a happy little boy.  He is still learning that you can't hurt someone when you can't take the toy out of their hand or hit when you don't get your way. The funny thing with him is he is so sneaky about when he is mad or mean.  It's kind of funny some times.  Hyrum is going to be the drama king of the family.  We have used the word dramatic numerous times regarding Hyrum lately.  Look out drama department of Bingham High.  We have a new leading man in training.  Did I ever say he also loves to sing and dance.

I am going to add some pictures of the Christmas tree decorating.



Hyrum wearing an elf hat. He had to peek out from under it.




Bria with her new look.


Any guess who's taking pictures?


Santa in training.


Bria's peace sign. Too cute.


Malia got to put the star on the tree.


I know it's a fad to take pictures crooked
but Casey never got that memo.
How did he know?


We Have a Court Date!!!!!!!!!!

We finally got a court date for Olivia's finalization!  It has felt like such a long wait.  We were hoping to have it done the end of October but that is not how people work.  The more people in a process the slower it goes.  But we finally conquered.  We meet the judge Friday December 9th at 9:00am.  We are going to take Olivia out and buy her a new outfit then the day of finalization we will go out to eat.  We gave her the choice of what she wanted to do to celebrate and she chose to go to Chuck-A-Rama.  She is so excited. 

We get notes all the time about how much she loves us and how much she loves the family.  I am so grateful for this.  One day she will believe how wonderful she is and feel like she deserves happiness. The nightmares are coming very frequently now.  It is clear where her fears lie as she tells us her dreams. I hope that these will come to a stop fairly soon after all the legal work is done.  She deserves to feel safe and secure.

We decorated the Christmas Tree this week.  The year we got married we bought a Precious Moments ornament for our first Christmas.  This started a family tradition.  Each time a child was born or joined our family we bought them an ornament for the year the child was born. Of course, there are also ornaments that belong to individual children that they have collected over the years.  Olivia noticed this and began to get sad.  I knew this would happen so a few weeks ago I bought an ornament for Olivia and Hyrum (Bria's was too expensive, still looking).  I was planning on decorating the tree with Doug there and presenting the ornament to Olivia as her parents.  Things didn't work out the way I planned and Doug wasn't there for the tree trimming.  I had to tell Olivia that she had something when Dad got home. We saved a spot on the tree right in front for her.  As soon as Doug got home she had to remind me that we had something for her.  We gave her the ornament and she hung it in her special spot on the tree.







Olivia is doing so well.  She is a strong beautiful girl with a majesty within her. There will be a day that I will be standing with my beautiful daughter dressed in her white wedding dress. I will look at her golden skin and vibrant smile and my heart will be filled with gratitude that I have the opportunity to be her mother and guide her through the troubled waters of life. I will see how far she has come and realize even more deeply how strong and valiant she is.  We are truly blessed to have her.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Latest Going Ons

It seems that most of the time I sit down to write a blog post these days I don't know where to start.  Life, or children, have got me going so many mental and emotional directions that I can't stop to organize my thoughts.  So I guess I will just ramble a little about the goings on in our home the last few weeks.

We had our first post placement for Hyrum and Bria and the final post placement for our Olivia.  We sent all the paperwork in to China and got that off my plate.  I don't know who thought that there would be anything substantial to write in a post placement after being home for 30 days.  I can tell though that whoever it was had no idea what it is like to bring a new child into the family that doesn't know the culture, proper behaviors, language or have normal attachments.  If they did they would have asked for the first visit and paperwork to be done no earlier than 6 months.  I really thought that we were done with paperwork when we picked up our children.  All the post placement visits we have had, and we've had a lot, the social worker did all the work.  All I had to do was make sure the kids were dressed and the living room cleaned up.  Not with China.  I had to run around and print pictures, put them on card stock with captions, copy multiple papers and get more information to the social worker.  What a pain it was.  Now we only have to do this in 4 more months then again at 12 months home and 2, 3, and 5 years home.  I already promised not to beat my children what else do they want from me.

We are pushing the attorney to get a court date for Olivia's finalization as soon as possible. We are told the normal wait is 2 weeks but because of Thanksgiving it could be 3.  That puts us into the middle of December.  Olivia is getting more and more anxious about having this done.  She is afraid it won't happen and has nightmares most nights that she will always be an orphan.  But then she is afraid to have the finalization for other reasons.  What a tangle of emotions she has right now.  I can see this get harder on her every day.  She needs all the prayers you have to offer right now.  She is such a sweet girl.  She struggles with feelings no one should have to fight especially because of where they came from.  I have faith that one day she will be made whole, healed from the wounds inflicted on her but it will be a difficult journey.  I feel to some degree that I may be sharing things that are too private but I want people to understand the difficulties that arise for these poor children.  They need a lot of love and support. I know many of you are concerned for her and some have made a great effort to support her. Thank you Tammy for sending her the pillow pet. She loved it and keeps it on her bed to sleep with at night.  It is a sign to her that she is loved. Mom, thanks for the letter.  It is still held in a special place for her and she can't wait to see you again. It only takes something little to remind her she is special.  Hopefully one day that belief will be the dominate thought for her.

We have had two snow storms in the last 2 weeks.  All the kids had to go out as soon as they could to play.  Olivia was disappointed that we don't get more snow because where she lived before they had 6-8 feet in the yard.  She didn't have all the awesome brothers and sisters to share it with though. Bria enjoyed the snow but doesn't seem too impressed.  It is so cute to see her pull her jacket up over her head when we go out in the cold.  I realized that I need to use the coat with a hood from now on.  Hyrum LOVES the snow. We were headed into Costco and it was snowing a little. He didn't want to go in the store but didn't put up much of a fuss.  When we came out big flakes were floating down.  He ran right out into the street to enjoy the snow.  It's a good thing it was 20  minutes past closing so there weren't very many cars.  He danced around looking up into the sky in awe.  One flake landed right on the top of his nose and he jumped and screamed.  He immediately started laughing.  I wish I had a video camera.  He was just too cute.

We also spent a couple of day canning applesauce. Sereen came over and helped me do 160 quarts. There is no way I could have done it without her help. Having great older kids is more of a blessing than I could have ever imagined. All the kids got into the action. They washed, pulled off stickers, quartered, smashed and poured to their hearts content. I don't know where they got it but my kids like to can. We had a very sticky mess when we were done and by 2:00am I was exhausted and left it to be cleaned the next morning. Now can you believe that not one child wanted to help me clean that mess? Nope not one. That's OK, I didn't want to do it either.





Hannah's birthday cake! 


Of course, Sereen made it.  She just needed an excuse. 
She's waited for a couple of birthdays until someone wanted it.
Hannah was very happy to oblige.



 Our Hannah turned 11 this year. She is changing fast.



The boys love to set up the Hot Wheel tracks. 


Marshall taking a break from Hot Wheels to read to Hyrum.



Sereen gave Casey the photography bug while we were in China.
This was a shot in motion. He has some other cool pictures.



The first very wet snow of the year.
Love Emma's pose. I have no idea where she gets it.
I also don't know how she doesn't get cold when all she wears is a light sweater.
I made her at least put that on.



Bria, Casey, Hyrum and Hannah. 
 I bet that was Hyrum and Bria's first time to even see snow.


Pierce at the beginning of his huge snow ball.


Aren't they adorable.
Niya and Clayson worked hard together to make this big of a snow ball.

Malia pulling Bria in the sled.
They offered Hyrum to go on the sled but he hesitated just a split second to long.
Bria sat right down and settled in for the ride.
She loved it.


What a handsome boy Creed is.
 I just wish we had some good pictures of him.
He professes that he doesn't like to have his picture taken.


Niya has a smile that is contagious.


Casey diving into his snow ball.
He loves this picture.


Hyrum and Hannah


Olivia enjoying her time in the snow with her siblings.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Been a While

OK, I realized it has been a while but I didn't realize how long it's been since we posted.

Life around here has gotten extremely busy. We have had 7 doctor appointments in under two weeks with two more next week.  That will make 9 appointments or procedures in 15 days.  We already have one surgery scheduled for the beginning of January to separate Bria's little fingers and clean up one hand and foot.  Our next appointment we will get the results of both children's MRI's.  Hopefully we will get a full feel of what is going on and know where to start.  We found out that Hyrum has another special need.  Because of this the MRI was a great blessing in knowing where he stands physically.

We owe so much to Shriner's Hospital. They got Bria in to see the doctor within a week and while there for Bria's club foot I mentioned the new info we found out about Hyrum.  I asked a couple of questions knowing they would have better info than I could get off the Internet and could point me in the right direction for care.  As the doctor and I started talking the great man that has been there for us since last November said,

"We can take care of that."

Within minutes they had a registration packet for Hyrum and got him in for xrays.  We walked out of the initial appointment for Bria not just having a consultation but all the initial workup with xrays and 3 more appointments scheduled with specialists.  On top of that Hyrum also had his exam and xrays with 2 more appointments and both had MRI's scheduled for the next week.  We had to wait while the secretary called Primary Children's Hospital to schedule the MRI's so they could ask questions.  Near the end of the call the secretary got uncomfortable and had to answer "bill it to Shriner's".  She had to repeat this twice.  Now for the second time the tears came, knowing if it were not for the goodness of all those that donate these children may have been left in China or our family would be financially stuck for years to come.

We came home that night and told the children about our experience.  The whole family is now very anxious to give back to Shriner's.  We are brain storming for things we can donate. While there Bria came home with a fleece blanket and two beanie babies.  Hyrum got a car and beanie baby. We thought that we could make blankets and on black Friday buy a bunch of cars to donate.  Olivia is very excited to have a donation party.  She wants to have projects for people to do and then donate them.  She even wants to do this for her birthday.  She is a very unselfish girl.

All of the children are doing so well.  The adjustment for the family has been very smooth.  No one is showing signs of trouble, not even a little insecurity. Hyrum is getting better and better. He loves his family so much!!  He is now starting to work with his emotions and is settling down quite a bit.  He still makes messes but is not getting into so many things just to throw them around. He can now sleep with us in bed and even moves himself right next to me in the middle of the night.  He won't go to sleep without me holding him, which is good in this situation.  Hyrum is now discriminating between those he knows and those he does not.  He is getting shy and reserved around others.  For those that know attachment you know that is fantastic.  He looks in our eyes easily and offers kisses all the time.  At church Sunday there was a new baby, Hyrum had to look at the baby.  He took his little hand and very gently stroked the babies cheeks for a long time.  It is clear that he has helped with the babies at the orphanage.  When he gets angry we don't get the pinching and hitting like a week ago.  And when he does something wrong he fairly easily will give hugs and kisses and try to make things better.  Bria is also moving along well in her adjustment.  She is very attached to me and wants me all the time.  Like a baby she wants me to walk around the house seeing everything.  Because she is not the size of a baby that is not possible, besides I have other things to do.  She is now showing real emotion and will call everyone by name.  She is trying to learn English and has used some phrases properly.  The other day I was looking for my bag so we could go to the doctor.  I had her in my arms and was getting a little worried as I kept saying "where's by bag".  Bria pointed and said "there it is".  She is a smart little girl.  She is still reserved and scared at times but doing much better.  Her progression is much faster than I expected and you can see that she is feeling safer here.  We are loving the little personality that we are starting to see.

I had to go somewhere last Wednesday night.  Doug stayed home so the kids could still feel safe.  I had a window of 10 minutes that he could call and tell me to come back home.  No call so I thought things were going well.  I got home 2 hours later and Hyrum

All our posts seem to be on Hyrum and Bria lately.  It's not because we love them best they are just the center of every ones lives right now. We are going to have our post placement for Olivia, Hyrum and Bria tomorrow.  We are all excited about that. Olivia really needs this to be done!! Please pray for a speedy finalization.  She is doing well but I do see signs of emotional discomfort because of not having things done yet. The visit will go very well I am sure.  We have a great social worker and all the kids are doing amazingly well.

                                             
                                           The cool guy. Casey's favorite picture.


                                         A friend gave this blanket to Bria.
                              Right after the friend left Bria laid the blanket out
                                                           and laid down.


                      Playing hide and seek with Pierce one night at about 9:45pm.
                                 They now have to hide in the pantry when they play.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                              Hyrum discovered the cups and how to get water by himself.
                           I figured it better show him a safe way to play that didn't include
                                            pouring the water all over the house.


                                                            One of Bria's first kisses.


Now I have to post a few more times over the next couple of days to catch up on the rest of the family. More fun pictures to come.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adjustments

Wow, I had no idea how easy I had it before these new children came home.  I had a 5 year old as my youngest and didn't realize that I had some freedom.  I could choose to clean the house or do laundry.  I could make my bed in the morning.  I could even shower before 1:00pm.  I have been thrown back into the land of the young mother.  This brings back so many memories and a new understanding of what I have been through in the past. 

I remember the days that dragged into months of holding a child and another one needing me so I picked them up with one hand and held two children at once. The times of sitting in the rocking chair with two children on my lap and the neighbor showing up.  Of course my house was a disaster just like now.  The times when there were toys strewn all over the house and dishes on the table from breakfast long after lunch was served.  The days of dirty faces and sticky hands all over the place.  Mirrors slimmed with soap from children playing on the counter while I try to make myself look presentable.  The list goes on and on. 

I applaud all the mothers out there in this stage of life. It is not easy. The hardest part is letting everything else go for the sake of the children's long term needs. It creates chaos in my life and soul.  I then get impatient and work as hard as I can to control that.  That is the true work, controlling my expectations and emotions.  Not cleaning and cooking.  That comes easy.

We are still adjusting the sleep patterns of the children.  I have not figured out how to give them the needed naps and still get them to bed at a decent time.  The other day they both fell asleep about the time that I needed to pick up Creed from school.  I was gone no longer than 10 minutes.  I walked in the door and Hyrum was sobbing in Hannah's arms.  I ran to him and cuddled him.  In a few minutes he calmed down and sat with me.  For the next couple of days he would not go anywhere that he couldn't see me and most of the time since then I have had to hold him.  It is good but sad.  I know that he sees me as his mother and protector but sad that he has not had this all along and is just learning he is loved.

Whenever Doug and I take Hyrum and Bria out for some bonding time and date night Hyrum gets very pouty and sad.  The first time we left he about jumped out of his skin to get back to the house.  Friday when we got home from taking Tyler to dinner he couldn't get out of the car seat fast enough. He was giddy with excitement! He grabbed my hand and pulled me into the house.  We then had to check every bed to make sure all the children were still here.  This child loves his family and always wants us to stay together no matter where we go.  I have heard many times "I'm so glad we got him." 

Bria is still struggling.  I think it will be a hard road for her.  I'm sure within a year, hopefully sooner, I can post that Bria is herself and doing wonderfully. She is laughing and playing but there is a deep sadness inside of her.  She could really use every ones prayers.  I know they are heard and answered!

Pictures and Fun


While we were waiting for our last flight in LA from China, with some very tired children, Bria began to cry and couldn't be consoled.  Doug started walking around with her but it didn't help so we picked up our stuff and tried to find a new location that would distract her.  We went down the elevator and as I was getting our things situated Doug felt something warm on his stomach.  I looked around and saw something dripping from the bottom of the front pack. Yep, Bria wet his pants! 


Ressa came home for the weekend and we pulled out the ice cream.  It takes a special occasion to have ice cream at our house. She served up a very small portion for Hyrum and a good sized one for herself.  They sat down to eat and Ressa tried to give Hyrum a bite.  He didn't want it.  He wanted a bite out of her bowl.  It didn't take too long for him to make it clear that he wanted her bowl not his. Thinking it was the color of the bowl that was the problem I took Ressa's ice cream out of the bowl and traded.  He would have nothing to do with that, he wanted the bigger portion of ice cream.  Who cares about the color it's the amount that counts.


Ressa telling her sister how much she loves her.


Tyler's birthday. Every birthday has to include gum!


Malia trying to get her sister to have some fun. 


This next group of pictures were at a park close to our home.






There is a lake at this park that we like to swim at.  Olivia and Malia were picking up rocks for Hyrum and Bria to throw in the water.  I don't think they have ever had the opportunity to do that before.  They loved it.


The kids love to play together.  When the social worker interviewed the children for the adoption she asked each one of them what their favorite thing to do was.  Most of the kids said to play games with their brothers and sisters. After the third child said that she asked what kind of games and they said balls, hide and seek, and other games.  She was pretty surprised that all the children love to do these things together.

Another thing they like to do is play dolls.  Creed, Pierce and Casey have grown out of that but the rest still love it. Now they have added Hyrum and Bria.





The kids on their first four wheeler ride.  They laughed and giggled the whole time.  After about 40 minutes of going around in circles Dad came home and I was able to get them off.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tantrum Fun

Names have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent.   This story had to be saved and enjoyed. One day when they are 18 they will laugh and laugh at this and so will we.

Any mother of a child of significant age will know the joys of a tantrum.  Well, it's been quite a while since we have had one because of the ages of children we have, until recently.  Since being home from China we have been able to enjoy many a tantrum from the newest additions.  Today we had some backtracking by one of the older kids, no it was not Ressa.  We got the best tantrum, EVER!

One of the children was having a hard time with something another child was doing. They decided to take action and began hitting and being mean to the second child.  Second child came to me to let me know of the injustice.  Well, of course I want to know about this kind of behavior.

Child 2 "Mom they are hitting me and being mean because, (who knows, I didn't get that far)."

Me to child 1 "You need to sit in the naughty step."

Child 1 "NO"

"If you don't go to the naughty step you will be in more trouble"

I then count to three and child 1 still refuses to sit.  I take them by the arm to lead them to bed. We get to the bed and the tantrum continued. Usually the children only sit in the bed for a short time depending on the offense. I walk out of the room and I hear this.

"I hate you Mom!"

Me with a smile  "OK, you can sit in your bed until dinner."  It is now 5:00pm.

Child 1 "I hate you worse!"

"OK, you can sit in your bed until after dinner."

Child 1with all the passion they can muster "I hate you worser!"



P.S. Pictures on the next post.  Sorry for the lack.  Life has gotten very busy. :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Sad Story and Observations on Morality

I hadn't planned on posting today but after seeing a story on the Internet I just couldn't hold it in. Go to this link and read.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=235&sid=17754365&title=chinese-toddler-ignored-after-hit-and-run-dies

For those that don't have time to read this the story is about a toddler in Foshan City, China that wandered out into the street and got hit not just once but twice by cars.  Neither driver stopped and 18 people passed by a bleeding 2 year old either not noticing or not caring, one of the two.  This story was very disturbing because we were just there and it would have happened about the same time we left.  Our Hyrum was cared for in that city for the first 4 years of his life. 

While in China I was unsettled by some things.  It was bothersome that people in general didn't take turns, wait in lines, follow traffic lights or even smile at someone that smiles at them.  While in China, we as westerners were always the last one on the train, bus, elevator, etc, even if we got there first and had young children with us. (There were a few exceptions of both men and women giving up their seats on the subway - that was very kind and appreciated.) On the sabbath we were scheduled to do some activities, which is not unusual even here in a basically Christian nation, and had to decline.  We spent some time wandering around on Sundays to get out of the room. On the first Sunday I came to the realization that we were in a very Godless country. The feeling of the country in general is "all about Me" and money.  Over the rest of the next two weeks we saw the fruits of such a way of life. 

I talked with a hotel worker a few times and was given a very clear picture of what is happening in a society that at one point was steeped in traditions that included politeness and a basic sense of morality.  This young adult girl was very open about many things.  She wanted to know how we deal with moral issues with our children, however, she wasn't that tactful about how she put it.  She explained to me that her grandparents' generation believe that a person needs to wait until they are married to share themselves, but her parents are allowing it and in her generation it is just expected.  She asked me what I thought.  I clearly told her that the US is pretty much the same way but I believe that everyone needs to wait.  I was incredulous when she said proudly "this is not my first boy!" I was sad to see that she thought I was so wrong.

Back to the news story.  Most streets in the cities we visited in China are small, about two car widths, and yet 3 cars driving side by side is normal.  The markets are tiny with an open front.  Many people live above or behind their shop.  Children are there with the parents until they go to school at 5 years old. It was not unusual to see a small child hanging out in one of these shops.  To have a two year old wander out is reasonable, especially when mom and dad are both busy. I place no blame on the parents as that is how things are done there. It is a quickly changing world for the people in China and the way of doing some things hasn't caught up with others. As we read the story we were not surprised in the least by what happened.  When people say you take your life in your hands on the streets of China it is true. Drivers will not stop for a pedestrian even in a crosswalk with a green walk sign.  Pedestrians walk across roads with large barriers and fences and weave in and out of moving traffic because no one wants to wait. There is no order entering and exiting the Metro or subway.  Yes, it is clearly marked where to exit and enter but no one cares.  You have to literally push your way in and out.  The attitude of those that did not stop and help this little child was evident in a lot of people that we saw.

We had many experiences to show us the more tender side of some in China as well.  Those that gave up their seat on the Metro because we had little children. People that stopped us to give directions from overhearing we were lost. Others that would stop to tell us good job for adopting the children. And those that truly wanted to communicate with us for some reason but we couldn't because we knew no Chinese.  Some others humbly overcame their fear and nervousness to speak with us just to practice their English. 

I am not China bashing here, I think there are many good things about China as a country and it's people.  We enjoyed our time there and love our children. I am just so sad to see the decline in the world and the lack of charity throughout all societies.  It is a sad state that we have come to as a people in general.  We see these kinds of things all over the world and in our own backyards.  I often think about what can be done. The scripture about how Alma stepped down from the judgement seat to preach the gospel because of the wickedness of the people comes to mind.  The only way that we can change things is by teaching about Christ then living a virtuous life ourselves.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hero Mom

This is Sereen again. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how amazing my mom is and convince you why she's not only a hero to me but to many people around her. That's why I will just ask you to do me a favor.

Wednesday night my mom's cousin Alice nominated her to be Allstate's "Hero Mom." The winner will receive $2,500. To win my mom would have to receive the most votes. Which means we need as many people as possible to visit this link  and select "vote" next to the story posted by Alice of "I'm so funny (sometimes)" about DeAnne. You can vote once a day until November 4th. My mom is currently in second place but needs about 300 more votes to catch up with the first place. Your vote will count! you can also spread the word by inviting your friends to this facebook group.

Thanks for all of your support I know it means a lot to me and my mom.

Just to illustrate how big of a heart my mom has: Alice nominated her thinking my family could use the extra money for Christmas especially after having spent so much on the adoptions. My mom's first thought was to use the money to help someone else adopt. And that's why we all love her, always thinking of others!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Flu Again!

I have known of many people that get sick when they travel to pick up kids so I brought an arsenal of meds just in case. I didn't need any of them but as soon as we got home Bria started in with the flue. At first I wasn't sure that's what it was. She was cranky and sullen, wouldn't eat and started to have diarrhea. All signs of transition. One night she started to act like she was going to throw up. Soon after the fever came. We didn't get much sleep and she felt miserable. After 4 days of off and on symptoms she pulled out of it. Then I came down with it. Unlike children though moms can't just stop and lie around and cry when they want something. It would be nice though. Many others in the family have sore throats and are getting head colds. This too came from Bria. She has had a runny nose since we first got her. I thought it ran its course in China but we still are wiping her nose once or twice a day.

Bria is showing signs of some progress and will willingly come to mom but most of the time prefers Creed or Dad. I made Doug change sides of the bed so in the middle of the night he can take care of her without me suffering the rejection. Rejection isn't easy but when you are woken up in the middle of the night not having slept much in the past week then thoroughly rejected, it requires a lot of patience. Right now I would rather avoid the situation than have to be the better person. She has moments of being happy and smiley as well as crying. I anticipate the crying will begin to diminish and the smiles will be more prevalent.

Hyrum is doing very well but I do see him adjusting still. He is usually running around the house getting into things. He laughs a lot and loves to be tickled. He runs away as soon as we take his diaper off and wants us to chase him. He eats most everything around. But in the mornings when he wakes he is stunned and sad. I think he is still surprised when he sees he is not in familiar surroundings. I pick him up and lay with him as he cries. One of the children will walk in and that will distract him. If Hannah comes in he immediately smiles and wants to go to her. He has nightmares most nights but they are getting less intense. I can hold and rock him and he goes right back to sleep.

Something that we have seen with both children is the lack of ability to deal with disappointment. I never would have thought of this as being a challenge for them. If they don't get their way they go into a fit. Bria will cry and cry and it sounds like she is pushing it out. Hyrum will run to the other room, throw himself on the floor and fake cry. Once in a while he will have real tears. When these things happen I take them in my arms and try to show them how to be sad without throwing a tantrum. Hyrum responds very well. I think Bria was able to get her way previously through crying because she is good at it. She cries almost all day with small breaks. I have never seen more tears. I think having so much stimulation and options is very new to them.

I have had a couple of people tell me they are worried that the kids might feel like they are just in another orphanage with all the children we have. I let that thought bother me for a few minutes but the more I reason it through I realize they have love and stimulation and are learning to create bonds. This family will be intact forever and the people at the orphanage will only be temporary. This family offers them education and a knowledge of who they are and why they are on earth. They will learn about their Savior Jesus Christ and be taught how to serve and love others. Bria and Hyrum now have the opportunity to learn how to be a mother and father and function as successful people. Yes we have a large family but these children are never without love and people who fight over who gets to hold them. (Wow, that was good therapy for me. I am going to have to come back and read this from time to time when I ask myself "what do I think I am doing".)

We will post some pictures tomorrow. Sorry there haven't been any. Life gets crazy when you get home and try to add the new children and find a new normal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We're Home and Transitioning Well

We finally made it home after being awake for 39 hours.  Doug and I didn't sleep more than an hour and the kids were going on 4 hours of sleep.  Bria was very emotional and cried at everything but Hyrum was his happy self and made friends with all the stewardesses and other waiting passengers.

While in the LA airport waiting Bria fell asleep.  She woke up crying and Doug walked around trying to get her to calm down.  It didn't work so we decided to walk to the next terminal. All of a sudden Doug felt something warm on his belly.  Pretty soon he was wet all down the front of his pants and there was a puddle on the floor.  It was so funny.  He looked like he had wet his pants.  We had the suitcases at this point so he was able to change his pants.

This morning when the kids woke up everyone was waiting at the door.  The four of us slept utill about 10:00am after getting to sleep at 3:00am.  It took no time at all for Bria and Hyrum to warm up to all the other children.  They now want nothing to do with Mom and Dad.  We have had to set down some rules that only mom and dad can do anything for them.  If they want a drink, something to eat or be changed it will be our job.  Hopefully this is enough to create the attachment necessary.  Both children are in heaven exploring things and finding out about their new life.



Now that it is two days later, there is a little more to say.

We went to church today intending on staying just for Sacrament meeting.  The kids did so well that we decided to see how they would do for the next two hours.  They did good but by the time we got home I could tell that they were feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Bria surprisingly chose me as her support for the main part of the afternoon.  By dinner she was back in Creed's arms until bed time.  Doug took a small turn but that was it.  Hyrum is being very much a two year old.  We are getting a lot of tantrums. Nothing big but he is sure to let us know when he wants something.  I haven't been able to get him to let me hold him without a fight unless he is dead tired. I think he is loving the newness of it all but is highly emotional as well.  I give it a couple of days until his emotional crash and he needs mom or dad.  This is quite a change from the little boy that wouldn't leave my side for the last 2 weeks even to take a shower and use the bathroom.  He was right there at the door saying hi and sticking his fingers in until I came out.  I want that little boy back.  He needs to keep doing this.

I am calling the social worker tomorrow to get our post placement done for all 3 kids this week.  Tuesday marks our 6 months for Olivia.  We are all anxious to get this legal and official.  I am hoping that we can get a court date for the beginning of November but no later than the middle of  the month.  Doing all 3 post placements at once will save us some money which will be a good thing right about now.

I worried about how Olivia would do while we were gone. I didn't know if she would back track or even what to expect.  Since we have gotten home she openly and often tells us that she loves us and missed us.  She wants lots of hugs and is truly happy.  She has a sparkle in her eye and I can tell she is feeling more secure.  What a blessing for her and us.  I can say that I really did miss her and now I feel an even greater love and normalcy with her than before we left.  I do believe the counsel that some professionals give in that the newest adopted child will feel more intact in the family when a new child takes their place by birth or adoption.   A little disclaimer, I know it doesn't always work but we were blessed this time. Olivia's adoption has really been the dream experience.  I give full credit to our Father in Heaven and the sweet spirit of a special little girl.

Father in Heaven does watch over us and guide our path.  It has been hard for me to trust that at times but I can no longer deny He is there in all things.  I know I will get impatient still and lose faith here and there but I am grateful for this testimony that I have to rely on.  Life is ever changing even still and we could be filled with great confusion and concern over certain aspects of life but  we are not.  This is not because we are strong or good but because the Spirit whispered it is all in the Lord's hands and we need only take life one step at a time.  I have decided to give in to this and just have faith.  There will always be something that can cause challenges but I don't want to live in fear anymore.  We want to live as some friends of ours do, with the attitude that "everything is great" as they lose their house and all they posses.  I choose to try and be more like that.

I just need to close this post expressing my love for my Father in Heaven.  I feel more inadequate today than ever before.  I have more responsibility to our Father and many of his children and hope that I can live up to the opportunities given to me.  With this I also know that my Father loves me and will not let me fall too hard.  He loves my children more than me and will inspire my thoughts and support my righteous actions.  With all my heart I want to live worthy to see him again some day and have him say "Well done thou good and faithful servant"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We're Coming Home

As unreal as it seemed that we were leaving for China a few weeks ago, it now seems unreal that we are actually coming home.  This has been quite a journey - geographically and emotionally.  For our last meal in China we opted for Pizza Hut.  Before coming to China, we were very anxious to try authentic Chinese quisine.  Now that we have been here, we are quite content with the Americanized Chinese quisine.  Monday we went to a restaurant called "O, La La".  Kind of funny since Chinese people can't pronounce "L" very well.  We asked our guide to tell us the name of the restaurant and she pronounced it very well.  Nothing like the O, Ra Ra we could have expected.  The menu was full of weird stuff - pig lung, turtle, chicken platters with everything but the cluck, eel, pigs feet, cow tongue, turtle, etc.  We wanted to buy a menu from them just to bring home.  After looking at the menu, Deanne and I both thought we would be stopping by McDonalds on the way back to the hotel, but Ann did very well ordering for us and we had a great meal.  There were some very soft steamed rolls that we dipped in carmelized sweetened condensed milk - that was yummy.  Another family with us ordered the local micro brewed beer - Pearl River.  Yes, this is also where the Pearl River pianos are made. Anyway, we ran out of Sprite and Bria wanted more.  I reached for the beer bottle and said I will give her some of that, assuring everyone that it was OK since she wasn't Mormon yet.  That got a good laugh from the other Christian friends there.

We went to the circus last night.  That really was an amazing circus - nothing like we had ever seen before.  And most definitely nothing like Hyrum and Bria had ever seen before.  They were on overload about 15 minutes before it ended.  I had to take Bria out to watch the last act from the top of the arena.  It was guy getting shot out of a cannon and the noise from the cannon put Hyrum over the top and Deanne came up with him right after that.  We took a shuttle bus back to the subway station and made it back to the hotel around 10:30.  Everyone was wiped out - we let the kids sleep as long as they wanted and they finally stirred around 9:30.  We missed the buffet breakfast in the hotel so we settled for instant oatmeal in the room. 

The 3 families in our group took taxis to a book store this morning.  We met a guy named River (his self assigned English name) who wants to be a Christian and wants us to meet his Christian friends here from America.  He emailed us by the time we got back to our room so we emailed him the link to the Chinese version of LDS.org and told him he would learn more about the gospel on that site.  He seems very anxious to soak up whatever he can about Christianity, as a growing number of Chinese people are, so we'll keep in contact with him and see where it leads. 

We packed our suitcases this afternoon.  Ann dropped of the visas for the children around 5:00. We took a walk to a nearby park - we had seen part of it, but didn't have the camera last time we were there, so we wanted to go back with the camera before we left.   Walking around the park worked up the appetite for Pizza Hut.  

We are all ready to go with 4 suitcases, each weighing 49 lbs.; 3 carry-ons with vital adoption paperwork to verify in customs that we are not smuggling the kids from China, enough snacks, kids books, games and diapers for almost 30 hours of travel and layovers.


Bathtime has changed in the last couple of weeks.  It took me 5 minutes to get him used to the idea the first time.  Now you can see he has overcome his fear.

The splashing was pretty intense.  I am sure that will be a hard habit to break them of at home.  Oops.

Circus.  These two were about 50 feet in the air with no net or wires.

Elephant jump rope.

This guy was about 80 feet in the air running and jumping on the outside of these wheels with no net or wires as they were spinning .  A certified lunatic. 

In front of the circus, obviously, can't you read the writing?

Another lunatic going under and horse at full speed.

A walk in the park with the much appreciated front pack.

More lunatics riding motorcycles in the wire sphere.

More lunatics waiting for the shuttle to go to the circus.  If you saw how the shuttle bus drivers drive those buses, you would agree with me that these are lunatics.

Sea food restaurant.  Or should I say, "see" food restuarant.  You can find your own Nemo and have the cooks fry him up while you wait.  Doesn't get much fresher than that!

Mom and Hyrum outside the US Consulate after final visa approval.  He and Bria are officially approved to travel to the US, however, he didn't seem too thrilled about it at that moment.

Hyrum and Bria trying out their new "squeaky shoes".  They normally want us to carry them through the lobby of the hotel, but not when they can annoy everyone within earshot of these noise makers.  Do you know how loud these sound in a 3 story lobby with granite floors and walls? 
Like we needed one more reason to call attention to ouselves...