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...

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.