Our 5-Ring Circus

Our 5-Ring Circus

Scooter, Quab and Bugs

Scooter, Quab and Bugs
Serving the Princesses since 2004

Tiana and Goose

Tiana and Goose
They really need all of those big brothers...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Silent Night

This was always a favorite Christmas song of mine growing up. This arrangement moved me to tears and filled my heart with warmth. I pray that it blesses each of you with peace as well.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All I Really Want For Christmas

I'm sure a few of you have figured this out, but for those who haven't, here it is. I am passionate about a few things in this life. One is adoption, especially of older kids, difficult kids, kids with "special needs." So often, the biggest need any of these precious little (or big) ones have is the need of a Mom and Dad. Those thick medical files and big words are daunting, yes. "Nobody would CHOOSE to have child with special needs." You'll hear that, don't listen. People choose it every day. Finding yourself in love with a little brown face about whom you know nothing beyond a name is fearsome, and awesome. But you were made for each other. Nobody believes that love is ALL they need, these babies who grow into toddlers and kindergartners without a Mom. But please listen right now, LOVE makes the difference between an orphan and a daughter. A son who is LOVED can learn and do things that were thought impossible, in the space of a few weeks. Having a big brother to protect you can take away the fear left over from abuse and neglect. Having a little sister can make you feel important and strong. Having a Dad who tells you just how beautiful you are will help you believe it. You might sit down with your little girl someday and see her finally remember the people who gave her life before theirs were taken away. Don't be afraid of these people. They are part of her, and the beginning of her story. Babies are born every.single.day to young women and young men who want to give them everything this world has to offer, but cannot. So they make a plan and they pray and they trust. Someone like us is given the blessing of a child. It changes you forever. However you find your baby, your three year olds, your 4th grader, your teenager, please go FIND them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remember my little friend in China?

I learned a few days ago that he has been matched with a family!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Difference of a Year and a Barbie


Princess Tiana has been with us for a year, as of yesterday. We've never celebrated a "gotcha day" or a "family day" before, since Bugs came to us as a tiny newborn. We went to dinner and had fried rice and chicken, her favorites. We actually ended up at the same place we were eating the night Bugs was born! Goose thought it was an occasion worthy of a gift, and I happened to have an awesome Ghana Barbie on hand (thank you, ebay!). Let me tell you, Tiana's reaction to the surprise left me speechless. She promptly named the doll Efia, as it is "the prettiest Ghana name," and noticed how much the doll looks like her (she really does).  It is hard to find dolls that accurately depict African women. It doesn't help those of us who wish their daughters could see the beauty in their curly hair or dark skin. My beautiful little Ghanaian girl who, for 12 months has wished she looked like her very white sister, finally loves her own look. She sat the kids all down and told them that this Barbie is SPECIAL because she is from Ghana too. Tiana has not wanted to talk about Ghana since she came home. Her past is painful for her to remember and often she just pretends she can't. Last night she was teaching her sister a song in Fante. She told the boys all about the beautiful fabrics that women wear and how they tie their babies to their backs. It has been a long road to get here and we have plenty more traveling to do. But the changes in Tiana this year have been nothing short of miraculous.
 She is the piece of our family that I felt was missing for many years. She brought me so far out of my comfort zone that I had to get a new one!
I love you, my sassy little "chocolate Cinderella!"
Now, my plug for adoption. If you're ready, but just afraid to take the first step, JUST DO IT! As hard as the past year has been, I have no regrets. I would do it again. I'm still praying that someday I will get the chance, so please take yours.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The "Wait" Poem

by Russell Kelfer
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate...
and the Master so gently said,"Wait."

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!"
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word.

My future and all to which I relate
hangs in the balance and you tell me to Wait?"
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign.
Or even a 'no,' to which I'll resign.

You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply.

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
as my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting...for what?"

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine...
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me.
You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint.

You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
you'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence are all you can see.

You'd never experience the fullness of love
when the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
the faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
but oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still "WAIT".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In Response to "Spiritual Warfare"

A blogging friend of mine wrote last week about Spiritual Warfare, and how her family has seen the influence of Satan (the Adversary, Lucifer, whatever you call him) in their children's (and therefore their own) lives. She relates some experiences specific to an adopted daughter, and I am writing my response from the reference point of an adoptive parent. Believe or don't believe, that's your choice. You don't live my life and I do not live yours. I believe because we have been and are still engaged in a war. Our battles have been more subtle but just as persistent. It does wear you down after a while, even people like me who consider(ed) themselves very spiritually strong. This was my response to her post, for those who may not read that blog. I did not want to link directly, simply because I would hate for one of my thousands of six readers to go over there and leave negative comments for my friend. I will share the link privately if you email me. If you feel like leaving comments here for me, go right ahead. I have on my big-girl pants.

I will say that, in our personal and recent experience, spiritual warfare is very real. It takes different forms and affects us all in different ways, but it is REAL. It doesn't stop when the kids come home, either. If anything I believe Satan then works extra hard to make adoptive parents feel inadequate, unprepared, frustrated and incompetent. Some of us begin to wonder whether we have indeed done the right thing in bringing a child into our family. We ask ourselves daily WHY our child carries such burdens on her tiny shoulders. And he puts plenty of other people into our lives to reinforce these negative ideas, some within our own families. He makes adoption difficult, every step of the way, to give us opportunities to fear and doubt.
It must chap his fiery hide TO NO END to see an orphan find a forever family, where she will be cherished, fed and nurtured. It has to drive him berserk to see us work tirelessly to get our kids the services or therapies or medical treatment that will save their physical bodies AND their spirits. Because then we win, and he loses! I do not believe that Satan can force his will upon us, but we can certainly let him in! Little by little we can submit our will and lose our faith and Satan will always be there to welcome us into his fold. He would LOVE to see us fall.
For this very reason, we must surround ourselves with people who will lift us up, in prayer and in support and with their heartfelt encouragement. Anybody else just has no place in our life anymore. It takes every ounce of faith and energy to keep our family together, safe in the physical and spiritual sense. There is no room for the negative, the doubters, the discouragers. It is HARD enough, even with the best support network. Yes, indeed, it is a war and we're winning. So far.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

And So It Begins

Football season is once again upon us. With two playing this year (pause for a moment and digest that info, next year we''ll have THREE) football pretty much rules. Homework is accomplished at the field, dinner is sometimes accomplished on the way home from the field (and occasinally from a cereal box). Yes, I did just admit that. Fortunately, this was the last week of two practices every night, so we will soon be back to eating food that doesn't come from a paper bag. In spite of the nutritional impact, we're having a GREAT time. It probably helps that the bakery outlet is beside the football park. Of course, we only go there for their gigantic donuts freshly-squeezed organic juice. Ahem.
Now, some of you who know us would have assumed that Scooter is the other player. He's the obvious choice. Not so. We all know how Quab feels about sports, being outdoors, competition, and being hot and sweaty. But he is 100% into the game! He must have caught some of Bugs' enthusiasm, or perhaps the daily off-season discussion of football worked into his subconscious. However it happened, we're proud of him for going so far out of his comfort zone and trying something new. He wants to be good at football, so he is always looking for Bugs or Dad to practice something he struggles with as a rookie. He was pretty sure he would be killed by one of the lineman in his first game and I'm hapy to report that he's alive and well. Quab was beyond excited to get the same #12 that Bugs had last year. It makes us smile to see him all suited up like a (much) smaller version of his older brother.
Bugs moved up to an "A" Team this year, so the play is pretty intense and somehow he is NOT the biggest kid on the field this year. I think it scared him a little bit to walk into tryouts and see himself standing beside boys who were a foot taller. And Bugs is still a BIG kid! Nothing intimidates this boy, though. He knows what is expected and he will rise to that every time. Like everything else, he wants to do football well or not at all. Bugs has a unique gitft in that he is convinced that he is good at anything he does. He's not cocky at all, but he doesn't see himself as inferior no matter how unfamiliar or demanding the experience. He expects to win. It is awesome.
Anyway, if you have wondered where we all are, that's the story. We'll be back to reality in early November. Until then, join us at a Saturday game or a weeknight practice. It is fun to watch. Today's season openers were an exercise in losing gracefully for the boys. And they did us proud, like always. We came home and had an impromptu family football clinic on the front grass. I was awarded Bug's last-year jersey for my hard work, and in spite of my dismal performance. I can hear the cheering now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Featured Child

Click over to the Love Without Boundaries blog to learn a little bit more about my little friend in China. If there were a way, he would already be mine. He is featured today! You can also see a number of other children who are waiting for families, and read about the work that LWB does all over China. It is SO hard for me to encourage people to consider adopting him, when my heart is selfish, but will you please take a second and maybe your heart will be touched as mine has been. And I will forever be the Auntie who spoils him rotten, okay? It's a tough job but I have years of experience!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm not ready! (but she is)

Y'all, my baby, my tiniest little Princess is starting Kindergarten in two weeks. There is not one part of me that wants her to go. I don't long for the days with no kids at home. I am not excited to see her in her cute little uniform walking into the school. Seriously. I know I am supposed to be looking forward to this moment, in fact I probably should have been for a few years now. But I'm not. Actually, it is more like a building panic that is getting more intense every day we get closer to the 30th. Yes, it's only a few hours and I will have her back by lunchtime. It is only two more mornings than her Preschool last year. I am fully aware how silly this all sounds to the rest of you. I was hoping that this year a new rule would be instituted allowing those of us with really small kids to enroll them based on size and not age. That would buy me at least another year, maybe two. Goose is a peanut. She cannot possibly be ready for this. She is under the false impression that all you need for Kindergarten is a backpack, a lunchbox, and new shoes. Someone needs to hurry up and tell her that she might need her Mom too! For those who are in the thick of the (!exhausting!) infant and toddler years, pay attention to me. You do not want them to grow up. Don't wish it away and don't miss anything. Someday you will send your oldest to school and you will cry your eyes out. You might have a couple more in the middle who will also march up that sidewalk without a backward glance at you. Maybe one will run back for a quick hug, but not too many times before he doesn't need it to get through his day. Your oldest will suddenly decide that he can't hug you in front of his friends anymore. Then before you have time to prepare yourself, your baby will be on her way up that same sidewalk. It comes too soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

C-R-A-Z-Y, that's me!!

:stepping onto my soapbox:
There are a couple of people who have told me recently (in no uncertain terms) that I'm nuts after expressing my desire to keep building my family through adoption. These are very close friends and family members who ought to know me better, buuuuuut. Last week during our family reunion, people kept saying how great it was for all of our kids to be there together, and every time I wanted to say "not ALL of them are here!" There are some who are thinking that I've gone completely crazy right about now (or a long time ago), and you can go ahead and feel that way. I will never agree with you. My family is big, but awesome. Our house is filled with love. There is enough to go around a couple of times. You will never walk into my home and exclaim over its immaculate condition or stylish decor. It is much more likely for you to gasp and wonder when was the last time we vacuumed, or whose fingerprints are all over the front door. I leave them there on purpose. They will never be so small again. These things ought to bother me more, but they don't. Seeing kids who have pitiful food, torn clothes, nobody to tuck them in, that bothers me. My sink is full of dishes, which means we all had plenty to eat today. We even fed a friend or two. There is a pile of laundry as big as the couch that needs to be put away, so everyone here obviously has something to wear and more than one outfit. I spent an hour outside laughing at kids on the slip-and-slide today instead of mopping my kitchen. So.What. I kiss them all goodnight and hug them at school when they let me. (Preteen boys get a little bit iffy with the Mom PDAs). we make sure they do their homework and read every day, they all get good grades and excel in their chosen activities. I take no credit for their inborn talents, but I do take credit for supporting them in everything they try, even when I think they might be crazy. Ask one of my kids whether they did anything fun with their Mom today, and I guarantee that you will get a YES. Ask any adult who grew up in a spotless house whether they have more memories of playing with their Mom, or watching her bustle around snapping at everyone to keep the house clean. Loving a child doesn't make anyone crazy. Answering the call to help doesn't make anyone crazy. Doing things that don't make a lick of sense just because they feel RIGHT is not crazy either, even when it is HARD. It doesn't have to make sense. It's not supposed to be easy. The timing is almost always NOT perfect, at least in our eyes. Sometime in our lives, we will have to step out on faith and do something that looks CRAZY, simply because we've been led to it and the only way to go is forward, with the Lord leading the way. Say YES. Do what is RIGHT, even if it's HARD. You are NOT CRAZY. Neither am I. /end rant

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Quest for a Perfect Family Photo

I'd venture to guess that a significant number of you started laughing before you read past the subject line of this post. Most of you have children, several of them, and may have recently attempted this impossible feat. I'm still recovering from the experience. Let me add a disclaimer: This was late on a Sunday night, at the end of a week-long family reunion that went well into the nighttime hours EVERY night. My kids fall right in the middle in age relative to their cousins. There are 5 older, 5 same age or younger, and our 5 in the middle of the mayhem. We were all exhausted, it was hot and humid, and I forced them to wear coordinating outfits that included "church clothes." Oh yes, I did. I was the mean Mom, and their cousins were not persecuted similarly because their Moms are nicer. I did it for Noni, and they still love her. This is not a recipe for success, is it? But there IS a decent picture among the hundreds that were taken with 5 different cameras. I don't have the file yet but I promise to share when I get it. Exhausting work, this quest of mine. Someday I will have it, the Holy Grail of photography, where each member of my family smiles naturally at the camera, willingly sits near siblings without pinching them, and cooperatively dresses themselves in clean and reasonably pressed outfits, brushing hair and teeth without prompting. The shoes will match, be clean, and come with socks. There will be no food residue on hands, face or hair. For now, here is reality, and they're still mighty cute in all of their craziness:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tile, Tonsils and Tresses

It has been almost a month since I last posted! That ought to be a good indicator of how exciting life has been lately. But in the past couple of weeks we have had a little bit of excitement in Three Ts.

Tile: We had relatives staying with us while they were moving, and were blessed by their Mad Skillzz in the flooring category. In fact, some of those skillzz were taught to all members of our family. The younger boys specialized in the demolition side of things. Bugs thinks he could have a future in tile, and he really enjoyed helping his uncle. He's a capable and hard working kid with infinite patience. He, unlike his mom, isn't afraid of the tile saw. I learned that "mocha" grout is my archnemesis, but triumphed over the vile beast. Our kitchen is sporting a new and, may I say, fabulous look. It was adventurous to tackle the kitchen with 12 people living here, 8 of whom were kids, but everyone pitched in and we do good work! Of course, the professional did most of it but we learned a lot and gained new confidence. Bugs says we are doing the entryway next, before football starts. Yes, SIR!

Tonsils: Scooter is walking a little bit lighter lately. He parted with his tonsils and adenoids last Friday. For those who know him well, imagine my reaction to the doctor instructing us to "keep him quiet and resting for a couple of weeks." BAHAHAHA! Dude was up and running hours after surgery and has not stopped yet. He did try to give his mom a heart attack by waking up from surgery without the ability to breathe, but that wasn't a big deal to anyone but ME. I swear, they ought to offer the parents Versed in pre-op instead of the kids. Scooter refuses the pain medication unless I force it and he tries hard to convince us that he's 100% healed already. He is SUPER bored and annoyed with me for enforcing his quarantine. We're praying that his recovery continues to go well, and that he will be free from the illnesses and issues that have been plaguing him all year. For what it's worth, peach juice makes an awesome slushie, and apple juice is "lame," according to the patient.

Tresses: Tiana has loved her sassy summer hair, (so has everyone else) but the time has come to redo her yarn braids. This first set lasted about a month and a half and still looks decent, but some have slipped and others are looking "fuzzy," so it's time to say goodbye. I cut the yarn braids off just below the length of her natural hair, which left her with the cutest style! She wanted to leave it as-is but they are already coming undone and her hair is ready for some intense therapy. When we do Tiana's hair again just before school starts, we may try the braids without yarn, just to see what her own hair looks like. It has grown like crazy since Tiana came home, but has never been long enough to do much with. I think she is adorable with the short braids, so I hope she still wants to give it a try on a couple of months. But first we need some fancy Princess hair for our upcoming family reunion. She is meeting cousins for the first time and she wants her hair to be "pretty like Goose." If she only believed us when we tell her how beautiful she is EVERY day.

So, that's the excitement lately. It's staggering, isn't it? We really do live a wild life here in Mayberry.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Attention Crazies (AKA Runners)

I must admit that I have NEVER felt that mythical Runner's High that all of you talk about. Running just makes me tired and nauseous and reminds me exactly how old and abused my knees really are. I used to run, but I never did really enjoy it and now my body does not allow such foolishness. But I know a LOT of people who run, enjoy it, and do it regularly. Yeah, I do think you're all crazy but to each his own. I love you anyway. Especially if you want to run in the Sole 2 Soul Run  in Declo, Idaho on Labor Day weekend. This family was in the adoption process with us but they are one of the unfortunate families who lost a lot of money, time and tears and never were able to bring their children home. You already know that I feel strongly about adoption, and this is a wonderful way to show your support while you get some exercise. If you register, let me know! If enough of you sign up I might dust off my running shoes and join you. Well, maybe for the 50-yard dash. If you don't run, you can be a sponsor and I am sure they can use plenty of volunteers too!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Howdy, Y'all!

Our Little Cowpokes in Southern Utah

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To the Kind Gentleman at WalM@rt this afternoon

Dear Sir,
I never got a chance to thank you. While we waited in line for hours to meet Jerry Rice today, Bugs fully expected to get his chance. He brought his football jersey for an autograph. He patiently stood in line and even entertained younger kids waiting behind us (and with us). When it seemed that we might barely not make it through the line in time, Bugs offered to let the younger boy behind us go through first. As we approached the men managing the crowd, we were told that Mr. Rice would have to leave promptly at 6:00, but that we had a slim chance of getting to the table before he had to go. Most of the people in line behind us went home at that point. Bugs asked very quietly if we could stay. He still thought he was going to make it and he got more and more excited as we inched toward the front. When we were waiting behind just ONE other family, we were all told that Mr. Rice would not be meeting with any more fans and could not sign any more autographs. Some of the other people in line rushed forward to the table to try to get their footballs, jerseys, trading cards and helmets signed as Mr. Rice was leaving. Bugs ran with the little boy and helped him to the front of the barriers, but neither of them ever got their autographs. Bugs is a big kid and a tough kid, but his disappointment rolled down his cheeks in salty tears. In his young mind it was totally unfair that the "grown-ups" had pushed the kids out of the way. As I comforted him, you walked up to us and asked if you could help. Bugs explained that he had almost made it, but wasn't able to meet a "real football player,"  but that he was fine. Just that small compassionate gesture was more than enough. When you headed toward the men who were escorting Mr. Rice out of the store, we started to leave. Then you ran to us with an autographed picture of Jerry Rice, handed it to my boy and walked away with your own teen son as quickly as you had come. I know that getting an autograph from a retired NFL player is No Big Deal to most people, including myself. But to a newly-turned-11 year old who lives and breathes football, it was. You made his day, and in doing so made mine as well. I know you don't read my blog, but somebody who does might know you. There are angels everywhere, even our local discount store. You were kind to my son and an example to yours, and I pray that both of them will remember that moment and show that same kindness to another little boy someday. THANK YOU.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A House Divided

Here at the H Mansion, we find ourselves embroiled in conflict. With the start of the World Cup, our allegiance to each other has been shaken by our alliances to various international soccer teams (yes, I know it is football/futbol). With the diversity of our countries of origin, mission destinations, birthfamilies, current houseguests and cousins, twelve people are cheering for 6 different teams. You will hear us yell for America, Argentina, Brazil, England, Ghana and Uruguay. Since we also live in the city of the current MLS champion team (Go Real Salt Lake!), that adds a few more countries who lave loaned us their best. This could get UGLY. So, to keep our spirits up and unite our household in the time-honored ceremony of the shaking of the booties, we offer you the official World Cup anthem. I dare you to sit still.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hair Chronicles Part II

I do have other kids, and I do take pictures of them. But their hair pretty much looks the same every day, and I rarely "do" it for them. That includes Goose, because she has very strong opinions about how her hair should look and that is ALWAYS just down, straight, maybe with a little barrette. Very adventurous, that one.

Ayway, here is our first attempt at yarn braids. We started a week or so ago and I only braided the back. That took about 8 hours. We left the top/front in puffs at Tiana's request (and to preserve the remaining nerve endings in my hands). Yesterday we decided to finish the front. 6 more hours. There are 160+ braids! She has been waiting for school to be out so she could have pink hair. I doubt we could lose her in a crowd and I suspect that we could have her sit on the front steps at night and save some electricity by turning the porch light off. But this is the BEST hair she has EVER had!! At least she says so. We left some pieces shorter and longer on purpose and only put beads on the black braids. The colored braids are just tied at the ends. It has an a-line shape which is really cute. Next time I will probably go longer all over and use smaller parts in the back. I didn't really "get" the starting technique until the front braids, so we will probably have some repair work to do this week. But I LOVE this hair! And thank goodness it last a few weeks because both of us are worn out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Families Supporting Adoption National Conference

You can now register online for the 2010 FSA National conference. It will be in Layton, Utah again this year at the Davis Conference Center (also the same as last year). This year's theme is "Together By Divine Design." How many of us feel like this is the way our children came to our families?! This was an EXCELLENT conference, and I would love to go again. The transracial adoption classes and birthmother panel were especially awesome. It's great to meet families that look like yours and make friends who *totally* understand where you are and what you're dealing with. Let me know if you are coming!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Amateur Hairstylist Goes Public

It took three hours, half a bottle of conditioner, seventeen rubber bands, twelve cute little barettes, a bag of Cheetos and a Coke, but I did Tiana's hair ALL by myself! I have put a few twists in the front before and I have re-done little puffs that her sweet sisters in Ghana did, but this is the first time I have been brave/able to try a full style. We started with six sections, each in two twists. Then Noni and I took the twists out and put little heart clips at then ends of the pieces. There were 30! This is in the pictures. Then we left the same parts in and did puffs, which Tiana really likes. each variation lasted about a week before it needed to be redone. This was all about a month ago and we have since returned the care of this crazy hair to a professional (who we love), but it's nice to know that I *can*do Tiana's hair. This summer I plan to learn a lot more and try some new things. One of these days my hands will cooperate with my heart's desire to cornrow. Until then, we'll just keep paying Sara's car payment every month or two. If you live in our area, I'll give you one of her cards. She's a genius and great with kids!

Erik(?) the Red

Quab had to do a project for school a few weeks ago. He got to decorate a cereal box with facts about an explorer who he chose. One of the requirements for the project was a picture of the explorer, either drawn or printed from the internet or an Encyclopedia. Well, in case you didn't know, Quab is a total Ham. He had the idea, instead of copying a picture, to dress up like Erik the Red and make a Mean Face since Erik was known for his red beard and bad temper. He's very convincing, don't you think?

Bugs and his baby

This little nephew has been Bugs' baby since day 10 when we met him for the first time. He was promptly nicknamed "Snap" because he looked like a little turtle, according to the boys. Bugs goes looking for his Dude as soon as we arrive at the cousins' house every Sunday afternoon. The feeling is mutual, because Snap thinks Bugs is almost as awesome as Elmo. Last night Snap and his brother and sister had a sleepover at our house. He was having trouble falling asleep, so Bugs came to lie down with him (and watch Elmo, I told you he was smitten). Little Dude was out within 5 minutes. What could be cuter than a tiny 2 year old boy following his great big 10 year old cousin around with stars in his eyes? Well, maybe if the Big Cousin feels the same way about the little one.

Friday, May 7, 2010


My good friend Bceky is a finalist in the Mom Idol Competition . Please go read her bio and vote! You can vote every day, and Becky really is as awesome as her bio says. I have even more wonderful things to say about her as a person, advisor and friend. If you want to get to know Becky better, follow the "Full Plate Mom" link in my sidebar to her blog. She's the Real Deal!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Adoption is our "normal"

The other day I was talking with Bugs about what he wants to do when he grows up. He would love to be a farmer, or an artist, or an author. Or all three! He wants the type of farm that grows food, but not the meat kind of food. He does want animals, but they will be pets. His soft heart would never allow him to have it any other way. When I asked about the family he sees himself having, he knew he would want to have at least two children. One adopted and one biological. He did say he would adopt FIRST.  In his mind, and in mine adoption is not a last resort. It is not what you do only when you have no other choices left. Sometimes feeling that way opens your heart to adoption, of course. We found ourselves at that point shortly before we learned of Bugs' birthmother. Adoption is a way to start a family, to add to your family, or to complete a family. In our case, adoption has been an opportunity to live by pure faith, because sometimes it doesn't make any sense to do it, if you listen to the world. You wonder how, why, where the money will come from, how you will fit them all into your car, what your family will think, where to go and who to trust and how far you are willing to travel, and really? A boy?? And he's due in June??? Really? A Kindergartner?? In Africa???  But you go ahead because you know your feet have been planted on the path and you have no choice but to take His hand and walk. Adoption is just normal, to our family. And it is going to continue because Bugs tells everyone he meets that he is adopted, and how cool it is, and why. Bugs has always known that he was adopted, and we talk about his birthfamily often. He is proud of them and proud of the way that he came to our family. He is determined that he will marry someday, but only to a girl who believes in adoption. He is 10 years old, and he knows this already. Those of you on his waiting list for the dating years-take note, this will be the first question on the application!

If you want to know what Tiana thinks about adoption, she refuses to admit that she was not born and raised right here in our family. She does know, remember and love her birthfamily in Ghana but she tells everyone that she was born in Utah. Maybe we need to work on that a little bit! She and Bugs share a special bond. It has been there since we stepped off the airplane six months ago. If you ask, she will freely admit that he is her favorite brother. Maybe because the others dare to say "No" to her! You should have seen Bugs the day that Tiana came out of Kindergarten crying. He ran to her (his class was at recess) and held onto her as he walked her to the car. He was so concerned that he called me later that afternoon to check on his little sister. Tiana has already arranged a marriage for Bugs with one of her older friends from Ghana. It was all taken care of before she ever came home. We wholeheartedly approve. Bugs and Tiana are brother and sister. Normal.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Remember Seth??

I posted a couple of months ago about Seth, one of our daughter's buddies at Luckyhill. Well, here is an update: Stranger Than Fiction

What we love about Ghana

My friend, FPM, just asked us to share what we love about Ghana on her blog. Most of you probably read there too, but just in case, I wanted to share it here. These are some of the things we love about Ghana.

I just asked J, and he said "I loved that 17 kids we had never met before made us feel like we were having two weeks of Family Home Evening." There was one giggly little girl in particular who kept sneaking behind me to tickle me, then running away before I could catch her to return it. You (FPM) might know her. He also loved the laughter over his trying to do laundry Ghana-style and the girls who took it away from him, while making it very clear how silly he was to even try.

What do I love? I love so much about Ghana. First and best, the people. Going to church in Buduburam was an experience I'll never forget. It was like the spirit there was so pure, and the people sang out loud and without reservation (or music). I wished that I could bring a little bit of that feeling to my home ward. Everyone we met treated us like family. Even the people at the Big Gray Building tried to give their news as gently as possible, and to help us however they could. At the time I hated them, but my eyes had not been opened to what they already knew.

I love the food in Ghana. Yes, even Banku. Even trying to eat rice right-handed with no utensils (oh, the kids laughed so hard). I love the spices, the smell of the charcoal. I've been trying to duplicate the spaghetti from the XXX since we came home. And the glorious, cold Coke in the glass bottles.

I love the bright colors everywhere and the paintings on the walls of the schools and businesses. I love the fabric waving in the wind on the sides of the road. Oh, and who could not love the messages on the back of the tro-tros and cabs?

I love Kakum. It was a little bit of paradise in the middle of our very stressful trip. And it is beautiful. The birds woke us in the morning and we ate breakfast two feet away from the biggest crocodile I've ever seen.

I love the temple complex in Accra. There I felt like the Lord knew me and would help me bring my daughter home. I first saw the painting of Christ and the little girl inside the offices there. And Efia told us that it was her in the painting, which she was able to share with the artist here in Utah. He got tears in his eyes and told her it most certainly was.

Our daughter's birth family is still in Ghana. They gave her a strong foundation of love, and taught her that she was a treasure. She knows how to be loved and how to love us. We thank God for them daily. Whatever circumstances brought her to Luckyhill, they wanted her to have everything in life and knew that we would give it to her. They still love her and she still loves them. Whatever happened to her while she waited for us to bring her home, it was not enough to take away the love that she was given for her the first 6 years of her life. And for this reason we know that she is going to be okay.

There is so much more. I would go back to Ghana tomorrow, if I could. Not to Luckyhill, like FPM I will never willingly step inside those walls again. But I want to see the Ghana that I missed while my eyes were clouded with other things. And like FPM, I still have friends there who I would like to see again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Deals to Meals

We are probably all familiar with the grocery/coupon websites that tell us where the best sales are, what coupons to use, etc. It works well if you eat and use the products that have coupons. We usually don't and I really hate clipping coupons. I have friends who swear by this type of program and it works well for their families. I'm not badmouthing these systems at all, they just don't work for me. So, last week we had an Enrichment night (kind of like a Mom's Night Out, for my non-LDS readers) on how to buy and actually use a year's supply of food, for the least amount of money. In our church, we are constantly encouraged to store a year's supply of the basics, so that we will be prepared and self-sufficient in the event of a job loss, natural disaster, family emergency, etc. We are also encouraged to live debt-free and save whatever we can for the future. Good ideas for everyone, in my opinion. There is a FABULOUS website called Deals to Meals (look on my sidebar for the button) that will guide you every week to the best deals for food storage and pantry basics, without coupons (unless it is in the store's ad that week). If you clip coupons, you could get even better prices on the name-brand items. The idea is not just to build up a year's supply and let it sit in the basement, but to actually use and rotate everything throughout the year. And it is not just for Utah, either. ALL of the western states and Texas are represented! It costs about $1.25 per week to receive the lists and other features on the website. I have used the site once and saved at least 100 times that much in one trip to one store! I have such peace of mind knowing that I can do this for my family and save money at the same time. Let me tell you, a family of 7 has a HUGE grocery bill, especially when the oldest kids are boys who never.stop.eating!

Just in case you care, Deals to Meals is not compensating me in any way for this post. They probably have no idea who I am! But I'm totally a fan.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Truth

Yesterday, JCICS encouraged all bloggers to share the truth about adoption.

"We Are The Truth – an adoption blogger day: To ensure the world knows about every successful adoption, on Thursday, April 15, 2010 blog about your adoption or the adoption of someone you know. It doesn’t matter if your adoption is with Russia, domestic or otherwise international. Let the world know your truth!"

I typed it all out. It took two hours to compose, edit, proofread, and then came the emotional release that lasted into the early morning. It was an ugly cry. In the end, I couldn't bear to see most of what I wrote and I started over this morning. So here is the truth.

Our international adoption was the hardest thing I have ever done. We fought against Satan and his minions every.step.of.the.way. If something could go wrong, be delayed or cause trouble, it did. If it could break, need replacement and cost money that we didn't have, it did. Faith was replaced by doubt, patience by impatience, trust by disappointment, joy by sorrow and peace by anger. Nothing about this story turned out the way we expected, except that we did bring home our little girl. Really, that is the only thing that mattered in the end. Every week I learn a little bit more about her past that sends my thoughts to revenge and justice (in that order). I spend a lot of time angry, not at her but for her. When you read books about attachment, adoption, older children, orphanage behaviors, trauma and abuse you will be tempted to close the book and say "I'm sure it's not that bad." It broke my heart to think about anything in those books happening to my little girl. Most of it has. My friends, it is that bad. It is that bad and then some, and it is possible and even likely that any older child (meaning not a newborn) you adopt will come home with a host of emotional and physical issues to deal with for the rest of her life and yours. If you prepare yourself and face the reality of it head-on, you will be fine. Open your eyes and prepare your hearts. Find the resources you might need before she ever comes home. Read, learn, talk. Arm yourself, so to speak. You will have friends and acquaintances who support you even on the ugly days. Keep them close because you will call on them over and over. They, and a whole boatload of prayer, will get you through the times that you feel like you have nothing else to give. If you are committed to the child who will be placed with your family, NO MATTER WHAT, then by all means join us on the adventure of international adoption. It's not for wimps. It's not for people who can't stand to see filth, starvation, disease, poverty and corruption. It's not for families who get the child home and realize he is nothing like they thought and send him away on an airplane. Our daughter has been home for almost 6 months. Have there been days that we wondered "What the HELL have we done?" Yes, absolutely, and there has been more than one night that I tucked her into bed and breathed/sobbed a huge sigh of relief because we both made it through one.more.day. Truth, remember. She is here to stay. Every one of us loves this girl as much as we love any other member of our family. We will fight for her (and have fought) against any enemy who dares to take us on. We are her armor in this battle.

We went down this path of our own free will, even in the face of a lot of people telling us we must be crazy. We're no idiots, we didn't expect it to be anything like our first adoption (domestic healthy newborn, frst child, big agency, piece of cake). Independent or private adoption is full of stress even here in the US. Doing it in a third world country, well, it sucked for lack of a better word. I came out of the experience wondering who could be trusted, if anyone. I lost faith and gained more. I learned things that made me physically ill and continue to keep me from the peace I crave. Yet, I can't say with 100% certainty that we wouldn't do it all again if the Lord called us to. Maybe our friends were right-we are crazy. At least I am.

I have a beautiful African daughter who I loved the first time I saw her in a picture. Yes, you can love a child you've never met. Some days she loves me and some days she hates me. I never know which it will be when I wake her up in the morning. But she smiles here and there and it is like sunshine coming through the clouds. She adores her biggest brother and it is beautiful to see. The two children who share no common blood belonged to each other the instant they met. She is a tough little girl but she has many things, ugly things to work through before she will be whole again. And we, her parents and her brothers and sister, are here to do whatever it takes. WE ARE FAMILY. And that is the TRUTH.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Father, Cheer Our Souls Tonight

Often when we sing a hymn in church, it feels to me like a prayer. There are a few that I will belt out, knowing fuill well that I can't carry a tune in a bucket, because I love them that much. I was just looking for some way to express my feelings of the past weeks, and this song must have come straight from someone's heart in a time like this. A prayer, set to music.

Father, Cheer Our Souls Tonight

Father, cheer our souls tonight;
Lift our burdens, make them light.
Let thine all-pervading love
Shine upon us from above.

Calm the surges of the soul;
Bid the dark waves backward roll.
Let us all thy mercies feel
Thru the pow’r thou dost reveal.

Bless our loved ones far away;
Grant them health and peace, we pray.
In their hearts let holy light
Beam to guide their steps aright.

Let implicit faith and trust
Help us know thy ways are just.
May thine ever-tender love
Lead our hearts to thee above.

Text: Ellis Reynolds Shipp, 1847–1939
Music: Orlando Gibbons, 1583–1625, alt.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Request for Prayers

There is a group of people very dear to me who are hurting right now. I cannot say who or why, but this is a big hurt. And it is very very ugly. I feel helpless. The only thing I can think of to do is pray. I know I have some Warrior Friends who lift their hearts to God daily, and I beg you to start right now to seek peace for each of these who are being affected. He knows it all, and has the power to heal. Thank you.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Ooooooh Yeeeeeeah!!
But I was kind of rooting for the underdog this time. At least to the extent that I root for any basketball team.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Bionic Finger! AND a Science Fair Brag!

Some kids will do anything to get an early release from school! Someday when/if I recover from watching the procedure, I'll tell you all about the Bionic Finger. Bugs has a newfound respect for the big, heavy doors at his school, as of Monday. I have watched two of my other children getting stitched and stapled, and have repaired countless minor but bloody injuries at home. This one was the first to make me sick to my stomach. I can assure you that I'm not losing my touch. It was just.that.gross. Bugs now has a Bionic FInger hidden under a mountain of bandages and splints and tape. If you suck up enough, you may get a ticket to the unveiling in a few weeks.

Immediately after Bugs being tortured and bandaged, we headed to BYU for the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair. That's a mouthful! We set up his display and took a few special guests on the Grand Tour of the fair. Bugs won Third Place for his division at the CUSEF. Unfortunately, there is no farther to go in 5th grade. But Bugs is already planning his project for next year. He wants to be the kid from the small town who goes to the National fair and wins a scholarship. Like in October Sky but without the rockets, because his Mom won't let him play with explosives.

A new lesson for the Primary manual

I remember teaching a Primary (children's Sunday School) lesson called "We are Thankful for Fish" back in my Nursery days. Well, this week's lesson is going to be "We Are Thankful For Antibiotics." We're enjoying our very own Strep Throat Epidemic here at Green Enough HQ. Bugs and I are the only ones still standing, and I don't have time to get sick. He is already on antibiotics to avoid infection in his newly repaired Bionic Finger, so he's safe. All I'm saying is, it is NOT a good thing when the triage nurse in the ER knows your name, and it is no better when the ladies at the InstaCare can identify you on sight. And we had never been to either side of this hospital before Monday! As much as we are blessed to have this lovely new medical facility within 5 minutes of home, I was perfectly happy to admire it from afar. And we have at least one more trip next week for the Bionic Finger. Sheesh!

Yesterday as I made my fourth trip to the pharmacy in three days, I told the kids how lucky they are to live in a place where we can get specialized medical care and then drive 2 or 3 miles to purchase whatever medication we need.  I learned tonight that Tiana has never seen a pulse oximeter and that she is highly amused by it. Much less amused by the NASTY medicine she now has to drink to get better. But it's such a simple and inexpensive cure. People in other places (like Ghana) die from things like infections that could have been cured by $14 of antibiotics. God Bless America! Seriously.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Need a Laugh??

I live a glamorous life, let me tell you. This post on my friend Shelley's blog sums it up nicely. I have not laughed so hard in a VERY long time. I'm not sure if I was laughing because it was funny, or because I felt so pitiful admitting how many of these things I have done. Most of them today, actually. Anyway, if you have a sense of humor, go and read about the Mother of the Year Awards.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Help Me Help Haiti (please!)

I am working with a local group called Mothers For Haiti. We are having a big fundraiser/carnival on Saturday, April 10th for the Foyer De Sion orphanange in Haiti. We will have a craft boutique, BAKE SALE, concessions, yard sale, kids' area and a silent auction. I am Queen of the Bake Sale. Have you ever seen me bake anything? I didn't think so. But I know lots of you DO bake, and you do it well. If you would like to make a donation of baked goods (any type, but fancy/pretty/unique sells better) just let me know. You do not have to package anything yourself, unless you want to. Just drop your treats off at my house. We could use some whole cakes and pies, too! If you want to make something non-sweet, that is great. Landon is making some of his dog treats, for example. If you make something fabulous that freezes well, you can bring them by anytime before the fundraiser. If you want to make it fresh, please have everything to me by Friday morning (the 9th). If you want to make a contribution to any other area, that would be wonderful and I can pass it along to the right people. There is still a great need for formula, cloth diapers, rice, beans and other basics too. We will have a collection area at the park. Bring your families and have a bunch of fun for a good cause! There is going to be some AWESOME merchandise in the boutique, and we will have someone there with the "bling highlights" too! Call, email, find me on Facebook and let me know what you're bringing to me. THANKS!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Proud Mama!

A few weeks ago, Bugs did a very awesome Science Fair project for school. He makes his Science Geek mom proud! He was one of the school finalists who got to advance to the District Science fair. It was looooooooong, if you ask him, but he did get to make a SuperBall and watch a magic show and hang out with his Dad for the day. Bugs has been invited to continue to the next level, the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair. (applause here) The best part, in Bugs' mind, is that it will happen at BYU. Forget the medal he won, he came home from the district beaming about spending the day at his future alma mater. Sorry, some of you will have to get over it. You know Bugs is True Blue. Blame it on J. If any of you would like to come see our Mad Scientist in action, CUSEF is open to the public on March 22 from 6-8pm at the BYU Conference Center.
You can also vote in the comments on whether or not Bugs should wear "boring nerdy clothes" for judging. We disagree, with the loudest protest coming from the one who faces having to wear a tie. Again. Like every.other.stinking.day.at.school. If you roll your eyes and/or sigh while you read that, you will get the full effect.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eviction Notice (and somebody bring me a Coke)

Dear small brown mouse. You are welcome to visit my garage anytime that I am not aware of your presence, but standing there squeaking at me when I try to go to the fridge for a Coke is not kosher. That, my little furry friend, crosses the line. Even though my daughter thinks you are (aaaaw, SO) cute, you are still not welcome. Somehow, every winter, word gets out that I am the sucker who won't set traps and you party like a rock star until Spring. I miss the days when we had a cat who could put your in your place. I hear you have invited yourself into other homes on my street and tried to take advantage of the less tolerant/more brave residents. How did that work out for ya? You had a good thing going here, dude. Our arrangement has worked fine until today when you had to get an attitude and impede my caffeine consumption, which was sorely needed. It is no longer cold outside. There is nothing to eat in the garage. Consider yourself served. GET OUT!

P.S. You better hope I don't ever catch you, because I will give you to the aforementioned daughter and you will spend the rest of your life in a tutu and tiara. That is a promise. You are lucky that my broom handle broke this afternoon or you would already be starring in a 5 year old's version of the Nutcracker!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Four Chairs

Four Chairs Furniture is where the (very successful!) photography fundraiser took place last weekend. Let me say this first, I have *never* had so much fun having pictures taken! Jami is wonderful and sweet and lovely inside and out. And talented too! Thanks also to Jess for not being afraid of our traveling circus and making our "too cool for you" boys smile. And many thanks to Amy for setting it all up. We thought it was brilliant to use the beautiful light and background of Four Chairs when the gray winter of Utah keeps you indoors. The furniture was all gorgeous and I would happily move in if the store had a kitchen. Actually, never mind. I don't really need a kitchen. If you need furniture, accessories, artwork, or just a way to spend an hour or two surrounded by fabulous things and you live in the Salt Lake/Utah county area, you must stop by. Seriously. The whole store is beautiful and fun. I left feeling inspired to decorate our house.WHAT?? We've only lived here for 10 years and 10 months. We've hardly had enough time to do anything but unpack, right?
So there, Four Chairs, now all three of my blog readers will drop by! You are welcome!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Apparently I am not the only one feeling the way I did in my last post. By the way, I still feel that way and the same people are still walking around without a clue. I love this post because someone is *always* more eloquent than I am, more able to get the words out of their head and onto the page. Thank God!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How Do They Do It?

Tonight I am sitting here wondering this: How can people hear or see or read about orphans, babies who have not been matched with adoptive parents, older children who need homes and food and love, and feel NOTHING? How can it be so easy to just say "We already have two," or "The timing isn't right," "Life is too crazy," or "That's not what we planned?" I have heard all of these phrases within the past few months, from people who quite frankly, shocked me. How do you say any of these things like they are just logical facts, make such a final statement, without emotion, without that tear that inevitably escapes if  you actually take a second to think about the future of those children? How can a person's heart be so hardened that they don't feel a tug of compassion, just a glimmer of desire to make it work, even when it doesn't make sense? How can we, who "have it all" justify NOT making a little more space in our homes and in our hearts? Does everything have to be perfect before we can love someone?

Yet, every moment, our Heavenly Father loves them all. What a blessing that He doesn't worry about the cleanliness of his family room or the emptiness of his bank account or the chaos at His dinner table. He would never say "There is no more room." He loves us all, as broken and unworthy as we are and as stupid and hardheaded as we act. I watched one of the "Mormon Messages" today, hoping for some peace. The very last line (from Thomas S. Monson) was "Don't let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

I am no better than anyone else. My faults are many and glaring, but I can't think of many times that, upon hearing about a child who needed a family, I didn't have a quick thought of  "Could we do this?" Yet, I know people in every area of my life, some very close, who can dismiss them without a second thought. It would be so much easier if I knew how to turn it off and tune it out. I would sleep at night. I would not be tormented daily by the faces and the stories and the things I have seen with my own eyes. But I don't want to be that way. I'll take the chance and love that baby boy for just one day, even though I am told over and over that I should not. My dreams are full of brown faces and dark eyes and soft little curls. It has been this way for many years, and no matter how hard I pray for it, I suspect I will never find the peace I seek. Maybe instead of peace I need to seek more determination, more assertiveness, more ability to stand up for these little ones and shout "OPEN YOUR EYES!"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fotos For Food (you better read this post, people!)

Another family who is adopting a (very cute and incredibly sweet) little girl from Luckyhill is having a (brilliant, if you ask me) Photography Fundraiser with all proceeds going directly to Luckyhill's nutrition program. We would love to see every child at the school receiving lunch every day. Follow the link for the details, and think about the last time you had pictures done of your kids. It is embarrassing that ALL who enter our home can see that we haven't had a decent family picture since Bellarella was 2. Which was exactly 3 years BEFORE Tiana came home. So yeah, we're long overdue and it is a fantastic deal and a very worthy cause. We've already signed up, we're not just bossing you all around. Well, maybe just a little but I'm okay with that. Now, Go Forth and Schedule Thy Portrait Sessions!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Answer To "WHY?"

My friend, Lois just shared this on her blog. More than most people I know, she really lives the words in this song. For everyone who asks why we do what we do, why the things that used to be important no longer are, why we thought our already big family was not complete (and may never be) or why I went to Africa alone in October, here is your answer.

By the way, Sara Groves has an incredible voice and many more songs that I love. She also has a new 9 year old fan here. After watching the video the first time in complete silence, he has asked for it over and over. He's a tough guy, you know. So his tears were probably from the dust in the house, or maybe allergies.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dear Mister Punxsutawney Phil,

In the oft-heard words of my young sons, Aaaaaw, COME ON!!!
That is all. ~shiver~

Monday, February 1, 2010

All I can add is AMEN!

From another family who has adopted from Ghana, here is one of the BEST posts I've ever read. If you are thinking about, praying about or just wondering about adopting, especially older children or siblings, please read this post:
Inquiring About Adoption

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bullies with Money AKA UNICEF

I just came across this article Haiti By the Numbers. I was struck by the number of orphans who have been able to leave the country, compared to the number (20,000 documented orphans) that are still in Haiti. Yet there are organizations (yeah, UNICEF, I'm talking about you) who have historically been very vocal about their dislike of international adoption. And these same organizations are now working to stop documented orphans from leaving Haiti. WHY? WHY? WHY? Will there not be thousands of new orphans from this disaster? Is UNICEF planning to build new orphanages in Haiti to house them all, then feed clothe and educate each one? Or is UNICEF just a big, rich bully who pushes people around because they can? You know what, just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD. UNICEF, you suck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In Honor of Seth

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Saying Goodbye Before Hello

One of our Luckyhill families lost their precious little boy yesterday. Seth was ill and did not make it to the hospital before he "flew home to his Father in Heaven," as his mother wrote. He was so close to coming home to his family, who has fought and waited for Seth for a very long time. Their faith and attitude throughout the journey has been an inspiration to me. They are good people, kind people, people who give everything to those who need it and who, even while in the midst of their own battles, encouraged us and supported us. They are an eternal family and they will have Seth again when they all meet in Heaven. It is comforting to have that assurance, but the mortal heart still feels the pain of loss.

Everyone who has met Seth comments on his smile. You couldn't help but be drawn into its glow. I remember when I met him in October. I was trying to coax a smile and he was being very shy. He would talk to Tiana and laugh with her, but not me. Then, all of a sudden, he came up to me and tapped me on the leg. He stomped his foot to show me his new light-up shoes that his Dad had bought for him. Then he looked up and that beautiful smile just beamed out at me for a second or two. Seth was already basking in his family's love and he knew it. I will remember that precious smile forever, it was like pure sunshine.

Hug your kids a little tighter today. Just look at them and marvel that you have them, that you can hug them and that you can tell them that you love them. We will all miss Seth, but nobody more than Rob and Shannon and their children.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Nope!

In the past few days of helping Bugs with his homework, I have discovered that all of those Advanced and AP classes I took in high school a few (ahem) years ago did me no good at all. I now remember just barely enough to get him through his 5th/6th grade math, and he will leave me in the dust by junior high. Humbling? Humiliating? I don't know which word fits best. Either way it doesn't feel good at all. I was a smart kid, I breezed through Calculus and a bunch of other nerdy classes. No offense to nerds at all, I freely admit to being one. School was easy for me and I took my God-given gifts for granted. In retrospect, I see that someone should have kicked my butt a few times. I'm sure my parents wanted to. I'm sure they tried. I should have made it a priority to continue learning and using what I had already learned. I could use my many young children as an excuse. I could list ten other lame excuses but it comes down to this. I.have.been.lazy. I want my children to appreciate their gifts and especially their educational opportunities. I have some children who will breeze through every class and some who have to battle through every assignment. Fortunately, God has blessed my "fighters" with the determination and attitude to do well, and I hope I can convince the "breezers" to go the extra mile instead of coasting like their Mom did. I want them to see me struggle with things that were so easy not long ago, because I did not appreciate or use the talents that I was given by my Heavenly Father. I want to remember how it felt to know how, even if that means I must re-learn it all. So, I just enrolled in an online Algebra class at a certain local university (not the red one. As if!) and hopefully I will be better at learning than I am at teaching! I loved math (I already admitted to my nerdiness) and I hope I can rekindle those feelings. I have already started praying, and I'm serious when I say that. I cannot do this on my own. At least the last 20 years have taught me that much. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brighter Days and First Days

Tiana still hates being taught by her Mom. Let us just say that the feeling is somewhat mutual, and leave it at that. I love my girl to the ends of the Earth. After my rant the other day I am enbarrassed at how whiny I sounded. I'm leaving the post up, though, because it's reality with an older adopted child. We expected and prepared for much more and much worse and we'll find our "groove" soon enough. Today was a bright spot for sure!

Today was Tiana's first day of school. I was prepared to take her to school and stay for the whole time she was there. Scooter wanted to walk her into the classroom so he could introduce her to her teacher (who was his teacher last year). He was so proud to walk in with Tiana. We got her settled into her desk and introduced her to her neighbors. Then I went and stood out of sight to see what would happen. I'll be darned if she didn't sit right down, get her things ready and jump right into Kindergarten like she had been there all year! I left the room and waited in the office for a bit longer, just in case. I made sure my cellphone number was on record and I stayed close to the school while running errands. Not a peep from the new student. In fact, when I picked her up, she was so excited that she was speaking half English and half Fante and she didn't even know it. I LOVED that! The teacher raved about Tiana's behavior, her attitude and her willingness to work hard. Tiana loves her teachers, she loves her class, she made new friends, she thinks school is FUN, she wants to go EVERY day. She showed me her work and it is far and away better than anything she has done at home. What a turnaround and what a blessing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Busy Beezz

Does anyone else in Utah remember when all of the local sports teams ended in "zz." So annoying. Anyway...

Some of you might wonder whether we're still alive. Yes, we are and super busy. We have that little bedroom project in full swing, and the kids are back in school which means I am back in the car. All day. The errands we ignored during winter break are piled onto my to-do list and I'm slowly chipping away at that in addition to some new things that I have committted to doing for my family. I don't make resolutions, so let's call it priority shifting. Blogging moves waaaaaay lower on the list, unfortunately. I find myself unexpectedly homeschooling a Kindergartener so she will not have to repeat that grade a third time this fall. She had Kindergarten in Ghana last year and we are working on it at home this year. She should, by age and according to her previous school records, be in 1st grade right now. But she is nowhere near ready for that. Let me tell you, I knew a long time ago that I didn't want to homeschool for a number of reasons. The highest on the list was my lack of patience, especially when teaching. Second would probably  be my lack of agreement with the school that it is my problem to catch her up to a level they deem acceptable before they will enroll her. Of course we want her to succeed and we will do whatever it takes to get her to the point where she can keep up in a traditional school setting. I'm not looking for a debate on homeschooling vs. unschooling vs. public school vs. private school. We love our school (with the exception of the past few weeks that we've been fighting to get Tiana in) and it has been a wonderful educational experience for all of our boys. A third reason is that, on a good day, I don't have the time or energy to dedicate to teaching a child who is unwilling to cooperate with me, even if I did have the patience. I have plenty else to do, for people who want me to do it and thank me for it when I am finished. It is much more productive, in Tiana's mind, to sit at the table and cry while I attempt to torture her by making her trace the number 2 or write the letter "i" with pretty glitter pens. The horror of it all!! It is one of the expected but unpleasant effects of adopting a school-age child with a very different educational background than we have here. I suspect quite a bit of our daily drama is her trying to convince us that she knows nothing, so cannot possibly start school yet. She doesn't want to go. At all. Especially since it has meant monthly trips to the pediatrician for immunizations. Seven or eight at a time. Today she got a break. Only four. Poor baby, I wouldn't be too keen on that either! But we know she is bright and when she is willing, she picks things up quickly. From all reports, she didn't hold a high opinion of school (or Primary or helping around the home) in Ghana either. Crying got her a lot of attention from a lot of older kids who would do her jobs for her. We were told by several people who saw her in action that she could/would turn on the tears at will, and they weren't kidding! Her American siblings are less willing to play the game. They have already been desensitized by Bellerella, who has tried it all and failed to elicit the desired response. She eventually stopped (mostly) the behaviors because she simply got no response from any of us. Tiana, on the other hand, hasn't quite figured this out yet. You've got to give her some credit for persistence. Anyway, if you drive by and see or hear me screaming and running around in circles in the front yard, assume it is "school time" for Tiana. Don't endanger your life by stopping, just throw a Mountain D*w or some dark chocolate my way and drive on. On a positive note, Bellerella should be ready for first grade by the time she hits Kindergarten in August. She loves "school" and begs to do the lessons along with her sister every day. Their constant competition has to have an upside, right?  I hope the school knows what to do with them both! Do you believe that there was a time, many years ago, that I wanted very much to teach Kindergarten? God bless those brave souls who do it every day of their lives and come out smiling! Teaching just ONE Kindergartner is going to be the death of my sole remaining thread of sanity.