Thursday, May 26, 2011

Real Life In It's Simple Beauty


We have some quotes in a prominent place in our home. Two of them really apply to yesterday.











One says, "We don't remember the days, we remember the moments"




















The other says "Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

One of those moments happened yesterday.

late in the afternoon Olivia, Malia and Emma came walking in with arm loads of weeds. These are no ordinary weeds, but they really are some of the prettier weeds that grow around here. Every spring we are surrounded by volunteer flowers that grow 2-3' tall and profusely bloom in white. The girls wanted to know what to do with their treasures. I told them to go get vases. I walked into the kitchen a little while later and they had pulled out 3 very large vases and were diligently arranging flowers. These weeds were filling vases that I am sure were meant for beautiful roses but instead held weeds. The girls were so proud of what they had done. As I looked at their accomplishments I was in awe at how a common weed can be turned into something so beautiful. We placed these vases around the house and throughout the rest of the evening I took in their beauty and felt gratitude that something we work so hard to rid ourselves of can be transformed into a point of happiness in our lives.

I have often pondered why so many plants considered weeds can be so beautiful. I have passed by lawns dotted with dandelions and thought how beautiful it was. If only it was socially acceptable I would allow the dandelions to continue to dot my lawn for the summer. Or the Alfalfa that grows even after it has been plowed under and houses built. It reminds me of the saying

"When you receive lemons make lemonade."

If we don't have the beautiful flower garden we can turn to the imperfect yet beautiful weeds to brighten our lives. And of course, the precious beautiful children that accompany them.
























































And the finished product.




Friday, May 20, 2011

LID!!

For those of you that don't know what LID stands for I will fill you in. In the world of China adoption there are steps in the process that we mark as milestones. One of those steps is the day the dossier (paperwork) is logged in or put in the Que for review and approval. This is called the Log In Date.

We got ours on May 17. The hope from here is that we will get final approval in 4 weeks. We will have to send paperwork for the children to the US government for approval, get US visas for the children and China Visas for us. Send that to the US consulate in China, get papers from the consulate and send them to the Chinese government. We will then get Travel approval and be off to China a couple of weeks later. There is a little more to it than that but that is the overview.

It's a long process but some countries are worse. I just don't like that children are in an orphanage 9-12 months longer than needed so we can get through the red tape. I understand why the red tape is necessary. I wish people in this world would be honest and charitable so that the laws didn't have to be the way they are. There has got to be a way to speed the process up though.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Have Some Great Girls

In the past few days I have seen some behaviors that are not very Christ like. Some of the girls needed a little reminder on how to treat each other with kindness and what a family is for. I sat down with 4 of the girls in front of me. The girls listed things a family does and why families were created. They had fantastic answers including Olivia saying "they are there to love". They really demonstrated that they understood why we are a family. The conversation progressed into the option of giving ourselves time outs. I wanted the girls to recognize that sometimes we need to remove ourselves from situations and that it is perfectly OK. They all had to give me some ways that they could take a time out and do something that makes them happy. Sometimes we think that if we are grumpy we should suffer through then we cause others to become grumpy too. Well I don't like that method even though I tend to do it. I wanted to teach my girls better coping mechanisms that I am just learning to use myself. We went down the line and the girls gave me some great answers like, "read the Friend", "Go outside and smell the flowers", "Dance", "Sing and song". Malia couldn't think of one so Niya helped her. Niya whispered in her ear and Malia spoke up "Make cookies". I said to her "I can't make cookies every time you are sad". Hannah, who was not a part of the conversation piped in "If you did that for me you would be making cookies every day". This comes from the mouth of a hormonal girl.:)

Don't you just love these honest and innocent preteen girls. They are emotional yet they are also teachable. Teach them while it's early:)

Ressa made a comment the other day that made me feel really good. Ressa has great friends, girls that any mom would be proud to have as daughters for all the right reason. She said that her friends have conversations about the fights they get into with their moms. She can't relate because she hasn't had a fight with her mom. I've never thought about that before but it's true, we haven't had a fight, ever. There is a mutual respect between us. We may not always agree but we never fight. I love that about my kids! Ressa is a great person and I will miss her when she goes off to college in August!

Those of you that don't know my kids, I wish you could meet them. They are incredible.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How Do You Do It?

I get this question very often. I have two answers depending on how I am doing. When I am in the mode and handling things well the answer is "One day at a time". But in times like the last couple of months the answer has become "I don't know". When I say this what I am really saying is "I have no idea how to do everything and I feel all control slipping through my fingers". Wow do I feel that way today.

I have been exercising faith diligently lately. I don't mean just trying. This is the real meaning of EXERCISE, sweat, sore muscles, sheer exhaustion and all that goes with it. I have held on well and every night have been proud of myself for doing so well that day. I have also said sincere prayers of gratitude that the Lord has increased my patience, faith and abilities to do. There is no way this flawed human, with so much weakness, can do everything that is required of me. How grateful I have been. Then this morning hit.

I have some close family friends that have a daughter that is going through a rough bout of cancer. She wrote a very inspiring post yesterday about having a melt down but pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and moving forward in faith. This morning was my melt down. The straw that broke the camels back was an evaluation for one of the children to help with Neurological issues. This program will hopefully help with some deficiencies that are causing challenges and will in the long run make life very difficult. As I was there it became very clear that I have a few children that may need this therapy. I was aware of this but hearing it is different. I felt guilty as though I had caused the problems and started to cry in front of a stranger, the therapist. She tried to help remind me it is not my fault it is just the way it is. This program is a series of exercises that need to be done daily. They take a total of about an hour which I thought, "OK I can sacrifice another hour". Now that I know what this hour looks like it became much harder. All the exercises have to be split up in the day so it's not just set aside an hour it's plan your whole day around it. Not just for one child but 3 for now and at least one more needs it badly.

Well, I have finally decided that 16 is our number. Hopefully we will be complete when our children are home from China. I often wondered if I would ever feel done as a mother. I can say that even if I don't feel done I don't know that I could do anymore. I don't know how I'm going to do all this but I have faith that I will be given all the abilities that I need. Angels will continue to be there to assist us and we are held in the Lord's hands. Our Father in Heaven is our childrens father. He loves them more than I do and wants their success and happiness more than I can. He will not leave me. As said by Jeffrey Holland "He has, He remind us, "graven thee upon the palms of my hands"(1 Nephi 21:16) Considering the encomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion, Christ is not going to turn His back on us now." So Janet, I will pick myself up by the boot straps. And as Nephi states "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

And to remind myself.

I TOO "WILL GO AND DO"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

And the award for the best big brother goes to ....




Tuesday I needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store. I had to pick up Hannah from a friends house and ended up going to a store that I don't get to very often. I love the produce at this store because it is the cheapest around and tends to be fresher than other stores. I decided to see if Strawberries were on sale and found that sure enough they were $4.99 a flat. WOO HOO!! Strawberry Jam here we come.

I spent all day Wednesday making jam from 17, get that 17 flats of strawberries. The children home pitched in and helped. I had Olivia, Malia, Emma, and Creed as helpers. We washed, cut, blended and stirred our way to 101 quarts of low sugar freezer jam. It is so exciting to see all the jam.

Last year I missed the sales on strawberries so we only had a few jars left for an entire year. The family really likes this jam and won't eat any other jam I have made or bought. We dug through the freezer a couple weeks ago and found some jars that had gotten burried. I then had to make rolls to go with our treasure.

I was so excited to be able to start my canning for the year. We spent the entire day processing strawberries, outside of picking children up from school and being interupted with school needs. When we got done there was a huge sticky strawberry mess with large bowls spread all over the kitchen. As we sat at the table for a dinner of home made bread and jam (requested by the children) Doug said, "What a great site" I had to ask what he meant thinking possibly he was being sarcastic about the mess. (You'll notice just a little bit of the mess in the picture.)But no he meant how grateful he was for all the jam. That was worth every minute and all the stains.

So about the award.

And the award for the best big brother goes to CREED!!

Why Creed? Well, he ground all the berries while wearing my worn broken apron covered in strawberries. He kept asking if he would have pink hands for a week. He patiently listened to Malia's Barbie Diamond Castle CD and we 4 girls sang to our hearts content without hearing one complaint. It gets better, the music was playing from HIS IPod. How many teenage boys have a Barbie CD on their IPod's? I had asked him to download it so Malia could listen on a specific stereo. He is such a great brother and I sure love him! I'm just glad that he likes the music from Tangled because that is also a favorite. He even sings with us.





We still have 1/2 a shelf left in this freezer. We always manage to fit things on top of and around the jam. It is sooo worth it.








This portion of the post is dedicated to Melanie.

You Know You Have a Big Family When..... You need to make over 100 quarts of jam to get you through the year.

Quote

I was just sent this great quote. It really does apply here.

There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own. ~Robert Brault

Monday, May 2, 2011

Little Olivia


I'm sure many are wondering how things are going with Olivia and what she is like. She is doing very well and has opened up quickly to accepting love. She has said she feels safe here and that means a lot. When we are in a new situation or new people come over she looks to mom for security and comfort. She is more open with initiating hugs and even kisses. She has only called us by Mom and Dad to our faces a couple of times but never hesitates to call us that with the other children. She loves to be read to at night and tucked in. One kiss is never enough and needs many to feel satisfied for the night. She now likes to sleep on Mom and Dad's floor at night. We'll see what she does tonight after being woken up by Dad's snoring.:)

Olivia is a fun loving girl. She has a grace and dignity about her. She knows many of the principles of the gospel and understands to a large degree what they mean. We need to help her believe some things that she has been taught through words and shown opposite in action. She is teachable and wants to please. Olivia is loving playing dolls, Barbies, Polly's, doll house, and making up Irish dances with the other girls. She loves makeup and nail polish. She also enjoys running around and jumping on the tramp. She loves to tickle and tease. It is a great way to develop attachments. Many of the things she does are exactly what we would put into place for bonding but she intuitively is doing it herself. It is amazing to see her willingness to reach out.

We are witnessing miracles on a daily basis. Where she is coming from and where she has to go to be healed will be a long journey. She is traveling that road with trust and speed. Most children would have taken much longer to get to where she is in just two weeks. I have no doubt that she will do well and heal rather quickly. I am grateful we have the Holy Ghost to guide and inspire and the atonement to heal. I know that all things can be healed through the atonement of Jesus Christ and with the correct guidance she will learn to rely on her Savior and be free of all that she has endured. She is a strong girl and has a valiant spirit. There is a great work for her to do and that is made evident in all the miracles and people that have been doing things behind the scenes to get her to a safe place. I have no doubt that she has been watched out for and is very loved by her Father in Heaven. I hope and pray that I as a mother and our family will have all that is necessary to help Olivia be successful on her journey.




We wanted to take pictures of the girls with the spring flowers. It turned out to be partially sunny so off we went.




I really don't like having pictures of myself taken. Olivia insisted that we have one with Mom and the girls. The sacrifices that we make as mothers can be great!



Malia and Olivia were blowing bubbles in the wind the other day. The two girls play all day together! As soon as Niya and Hannah are home from school they are one tight group.

Pierce's update


Pierce went to State Debate tournament on Friday. I dropped him off and was going planning to go back to watch the last debate. He called and the other team didn't show up so they won by forfeit. Pierce said they had gotten a perfect score on the second debate so he felt like we would want to be there for the awards ceremony. We were already on our way.

We got there and waited almost an hour for the ceremony to start. In the mean time had a great talk with Pierce's partner's mother. Award time came and they called up the winners and Pierce and Jake didn't place. It was disappointing for him but he handled it well. We decided to make this our date night and took him out to dinner. He got ribs and didn't know you were supposed to eat them with your fingers. I guess our kids don't get out enough.

This has been a great experience for him. He has learned a lot. I think the biggest thing that came of this experience is realizing there are things out there that we may not think we will like but if we try we might be surprised to find we are good at it. Another thing he learned was the need to be confident. He was told that at this level 90% of the points earned are based on your confidence. He said that he stood taller, shoulders back and spoke with more conviction. It will be interesting to see if he does this again in the future. It may help for him to represent the conservative view so he truly believes what he is saying.

Catastrophe At Church

Church can be entertaining at times, especially for those that sit next to us. With children there is always something just around the corner. I was sitting in Sacrament meeting with Clayson next to me and Niya beside Clayson. About half way into the meeting Clayson starts to quietly cry and was very insistent on getting my attention. I look down at him and he has big tears rolling down his face. I'm thinking "what is there to cry about you're sitting in church with nothing to do". He loudly whispers "Mom Niya got boogers on me". "What?!" I immediately think "OK what would posses Niya to wipe boogers on Clayson?" Clayson was so distraught that I didn't think he had done anything to provoke it. Not always the case but this time seemed different. Niya looks at me ready to cry and I have to ask "Why did you get boogers on Clayson?" Clayson pipes in with "She sneezed on me!" Being the good mother that I am I turn away and start to laugh. Sure enough, there was a need to clean his suite. Poor Niya also needed to blow her nose so I sent her out to go get a paper towel to wipe it off the best we could. She was so upset that she began to cry and Doug had to take her to the bathroom so I could sit with the two children that desperately needed their mother at the moment. A few minutes later Niya was back and had cleaned up the mess and Clayson was very grateful for the kind service. We all had a good laugh and I don't think that story will die any time soon.

Here is small glimpse into the life of our real family. A word of advice to all of those that think our children are so well behaved at church, you may not want to sit in front of us during allergy or cold season anymore. :):)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Our New Addition


To most people, a new addition means a home remodeling project, and believe me, we've had plenty of those, but at this point in our lives, it could only mean one thing....an addition to the family.


We were given the opportunity to adopt another child. Olivia is 9 years old and was originally adopted about 6 years ago from India. Her first parents had some particular challenges, so they decided the best thing for their circumstances was to place Olivia for adoption. They signed the legal papers last Monday and Olivia has slipped into our family between Casey and Niya very naturally. The final adoption won't take place for months. Having her in our home has been a great blessing to her and us - the changes in just the first week have been very positive. She was starved for love and Deanne has been incredibly inspired with specific actions we need to be taking to overcome the lack of proper parenting and healthy family relaitonships in her life. Olivia has a very resilient spirit. unfortunately, she has needed strong survival skills in her young life, but now seems to be responding very well to being nurtured and is allowing herself to be loved and is becoming more comfortable with affection. She keeps track of how many kisses Deanne owes her throughout the day. One night, Deanne planted 150 kisses on Olivia's face and she accepted every one of them. Those who have adopted children at an older age know becuase of bonding issues, that is not the easiest thing to do. Our other children have accepted her whole-heartedly and are excited to have her in our family. We were made aware of this possibility almost 3 years ago, but it did not feel right at that time. If feels right now - the Lord must know what he is doing.