Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Adoption Month

PLEASE watch this video.  It's only a minute long. 

I can't let "National Adoption Month" wrap up without a comment or two.  We have had a great adoption month at our house.  Some highlights:  I presented a class and helped organize our annual adoption conference at the beginning of the month.

I had a fun lunch visit with Sambo's birthmom and family earlier this month as well.  We had a great talk over lunch about how we have all achieved the "best possible outcome" (her husband's words) through this adoption experience.  I couldn't have said it better and felt so proud and so thankful that they feel that way too.  We just love our little baby boy (our 5-year old baby) so much and what an honor to know they love us too.  We're planning another visit/birthday party for Sambo in the next few days.  Every time we see her my heart nearly bursts.  Sambo came from a wonderful soul.  He is just like her all the way from their big sparkly brown eyes to their joy from simple things.


Last week we were in Utah for Thanksgiving and had the great privilege of hanging out with Buddy's birthmom twice.  We happened to be there on his and her birthdays, so we had a party for each of them.  Several months ago when Buddy learned we'd be in Utah on his birthday, he suggested we go to the dinosaur museum with his birthmom for his birthday.  I offered to text her to line it up, but he suggested he call her right then to ask her about it.  He had never called her before, so imagine her surprise to get a call from him asking her to hang out with him on his birthday.  I love that he is now old enough to call the shots in his open adoption.


So that's what we did.  We went to the museum then had lunch.  Her sister and nephews came too.  Buddy and his birth-cousins are so much alike, it's just mind blowing.  I have a strong feeling they will be lifelong friends and probably roommates at BYU one day.  I seriously have never seen him so blissfully happy as he was talking to his little friend about dinosaurs and animals and all things science-related.


A few days later was her birthday, so her wonderful husband organized a birthday party for the two of them at their new house.  All of her siblings, their children, her parents, and a friend, all came to see us.  Plus this time G's parents and two sisters came too to meet everyone.  We've had parties like this with them several other times, but they keep getting better.  Buddy is his very best self.  He's confident and funny and walks around like he owns the place.  His birth family worships the ground he walks on.  And he feels the same way about them.  He is gracious, and shows off, and asks for what he wants without shame, and says what he feels.  They treat him like gold.  Truly, it's the way all children should be treated.

Notice the cake!

Apparently while at their house, Buddy asked his birthmom why her daughter didn't have a picture of HIM in her room.  I was not aware of this until i got a text about it today.  A picture text of a picture of him now in her room.  The point is, Buddy feels so confident in his role in their life that he can ask anything.  Just as his birthmom doesn't want to be forgotten in our home, he doesn't want to be forgotten in theirs.  Yet most adoptees do not have that reassurance that they were/are wanted, thought about and prayed for.  I am so glad both my boys know.  And when in doubt, they feel comfortable asking. 

I had a friend say it this way:  there is my side of the family, my husband's side of the family, and each child's side of the family.  That's exactly what this is and it's really great.  Just more people to love and be loved by.

I just typed 5 different sentences trying to articulate how awesome this is, and there really are no words.  None of us could have predicted this.  When we met Buddy's birthmom more than 9 years ago, we weren't allowed to tell her which suburb we lived in or what our last names were.  My how things have changed.  These open adoptions are the greatest blessing of my life.  G and I keep saying, "Can you believe this is our life?  All this love for our children.  We didn't know love like this existed."  Buddy's birthgrandma commented on a facebook picture of our visit and articulated it the best, "Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles."  That's what our relationship is. 

I am so thankful and happy to have two wonderful birthmoms in my life.  My two brave partners in motherhood. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Give Thanks

 Click to Enlarge

I'm not much for visiting teaching.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I don't really like going, and I always hope I have visiting teachers that won't come visit me.  But I've been having a few experiences lately that are slowly but surely converting me to how wonderful it can be.

Today my visiting teachers came.  I'm not the type that really needs anything and I'd never ask for help, even if I did.  But in recent years I've had various visiting teachers that think outside the box to help make my life easier or better.  My previous visiting teachers took a serious interest in my kids.  They both were extremely influential in helping Noah get ready for baptism and feel comfortable in Primary.

Right now one is a talented graphic designer.  The other is a talented baker.  They both use their skills professionally.  The baker brings me treats all the time.  And today the graphic designer showed up with the supplies to make a "Give Thanks" banner for my mantle.  She suggested we sit around the table and assemble it together.  So that's what we did.  And before she left she hung it up for me and we all stood there and admired it.  The whole experience felt good. 

Yesterday when I was running I was thinking about how much I have to be grateful for.  I think I'm a naturally grateful (and blessed) person, so I don't wait around until this time of year to reflect.  But still, as I was running along the sidewalk by Buddy's school, enjoying the beautiful weather... leaves on the ground, colorful trees all around, flowers and shrubs still in bloom, it made me really pause.  I live in a beautiful world, I have a healthy body, I have a loving and hilarious family, I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I have everything.

I'm not going to lie, it helps that my kids have been easy lately.  G has a great job and he works hard to provide for our family.  We all have good health.  I have friends that are supportive and like me even when I'm lame.  We live in a particularly beautiful part of the world.  Our house is warm and safe.  I have had experiences all through my life, but especially lately that have revealed God's hand in my life.  We have a temple nearby.  We have birthmothers that continue to give love and support over and over again.  We have plenty of food.  We have health insurance.  We have the Internet.  We have access to excellent education.  I have a comfy bed.  Our cars run well.

These things all make life easy and require me to sacrifice very little.  It's easy to give thanks when I have abundance in all areas of my life.  But I've been learning that even if I didn't have some of those thins, or any of those things, I can still be happy.  Happiness -- and gratitude -- can't be dependent on things that can easily come and go.  I control my happiness!  It's such a new way of looking at my life.  Especially because I can tell you that I'm a lot happier now than when we were so poor we couldn't afford food or heat.  Or when I broke my foot and couldn't exercise for months.  Or when we didn't have kids.  Or when I didn't have close friends.

It's so much easier to be happy when you have it all.  But I want to be the kind of person that is happy no matter what I have.  The kind of person who receives all I need from the atonement of Jesus Christ.  It seems so cliche, really, but it works.  And I also think it's fitting that we celebrate Christmas a few weeks after Thanksgiving.  So we can give thanks for all we have, and rest in Him for everything we don't have.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween-8 Days Late

I can't let the Halloween season get too far gone without posting some pictures.  My kids LOVE Halloween.  I'm not such a fan myself (besides the candy), but since they love it, I make an effort and go with the flow.  Buddy loves it more than Christmas, so that's saying something.

This year the kids carved their own pumpkins.  We figured Buddy was old enough to do his own, since neither G or I really enjoy it.  But then Sambo wants to do whatever his brother does, so he did his own too.  We used patterns we found online.  We were really impressed Buddy could manage. But we were REALLY amazed at Sambo's fine motor skills.  His hands were made to create, I'll tell you what.  We helped him ever so slightly, but mostly he did it himself.

Then since me and G were just sitting around and we had extra pumpkins on hand, we decided to carve some too.  Talk about ironic. 

From left:  Buddy (age 8)-Skeleton, Sambo (age 4)-Bat, M-Grim "Creeper" (this name annoyed the crap out of Buddy), G-Spider

This year Buddy was a grim reaper at school.  And for trick-or-treating he was a zombie.  He made his costume and did his makeup himself.

Sambo had the idea of being a bad guy from Tron Legacy.  We researched costumes online but they weren't very cool.  So after some discussions and a brilliant suggestion by Sambo, we decided glow sticks attached to black clothes would be awesome.  We bought a ton of glow sticks and before going to Buddy's school Halloween party, we hot-glued them to his outfit.  G had warned me hot glue was NOT going to work, but I refused to listen.  Before we even got out of the car at school the glow sticks had all fallen off.  It was really sad and Sambo was extremely disappointed. But it was  good learning experience to trust my husband, and that we would need better adhesive for trick-or-treating.

So we headed back to the store and bought a million more glow sticks and used packing tape instead to attach them.  He looked SO awesome.  We got several compliments out trick-or-treating that it was the coolest costume of the night.

And the best part:  no rain.  It poured all day, but cleared up for the big night out.  This is the 8th year in a row (that I've been keeping track) we've had dry weather on Halloween. And it was warm too. 

 Are these kids awesome, or what?!