Tuesday, November 25, 2014


This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. Roots. It's who we are.  

Well, as an adoptive mom I believe that nurture plays a large role in who we become. How we are raised. Those daily lessons, interactions, and snuggles are quite important. 
BUT, as an adoptive mom I believe that nature plays a large role in who we become. How we are made. Those spindley things called DNA are quite important.

I don't see how we are whole without either of these...nature, nurture. Let's talk nature. If we ignore our roots, aren't we denying a large part of who we are? And isn't that important? It's something I've struggled with because we know so little about Callie's roots. We know Micah's roots. We see Micah's roots. But for Callie, for the time being, there's so much that is unknown....

The truth is, we can survive without knowing our biological background. It's not essential to life. Nurture is. For children who aren't spoken to, touched, or taken care of...the results are catastrophic. It's visible. For those children and adults who don't know their biological background, they are able to still function in society...so does it make it less important? Quite frankly, there's probably a strong argument that it's NOT has important, and I see those points. But my job as a mother is to nurture and love my child so much that they have no choice but to feel successful in life...true success...I'm not talking about high paying jobs, name and face plastered on billboards and magazine covers. I'm talking about they feel so much love that they are able to successfully accept others, give their hearts to others, and have a relationship with their Father in Heaven. That's success to me. And so as a mom, I find it my job to make sure my children know that I love ALL parts of them...including roots that may not have been formed by me. If I never talk about those, without knowing it, I could be sending a message that I don't accept or love those roots, those parts of my children, as much as those parts that identify with OUR family. 

We entered adoption with Callie as an open adoption. We lost contact with Callie's birthmother soon after. But that doesn't mean we can't still have an open adoption. How? We are open about who she is and where she came from. We are open with our hearts and our love for all who are a part of her life. We celebrate every part of her and hope to one day reconnect with her roots. And she knows it. Open adoption with Callie means we are supportive of her path and are hopeful that it leads back to her birth family one day.  

My article of our how can be supportive of that journey, and why we should be, can be found on Adoption.com here.

I can't believe this was a year ago! Callie will be seven waaaay too soon!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More To Do

These are the states I've visited. I didn't count the ones that I've only driven through. In my book, that shouldn't count. I needed to have actually done something in these states. Visited. Looks like I have a lot more to put on my to-do list!

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Monday, November 17, 2014

Back then...

We used to be young. 
We were.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Recharging Hope in the Adoption Process

About a month ago an opportunity itself. I was offered a writing position at Adoption.com, one of the largest (if not the largest) adoption websites out there. They are a highly respected website that offers advice and support to birth families, adoptive families, foster families, those who have been adopted...it's an incredible resource and community. And I was offered a position as a Storyteller. I'm beyond excited about the opportunity to write weekly about one of my passions, and today, my first piece was posted.

Frequently when others ask me about adoption, it seems to have a negative tone. Let me rephrase that...not adoption, rather, the adoption process. "Ugh, that must be so hard." I brush it off normally and share the positive parts of it. But you know what? It is hard. It's REALLY hard. So, today my post discusses what I do when Happy Jenny becomes Overwhelmed Jenny. You can click the link to read what we do to Recharge Our Hope. Though I write specifically about adoption, these are things I try to do whenever I start feeling discouraged and hopeless.

Read it. Share if you think it would help others. And enjoy this beautiful November day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


On Sunday after church, I took this picture. Sammy was walking around and I was trying to capture her cute face. It wasn't working. I figured that none of them would turn out but at least I had tried. When I stopped to look at the hundreds I took in about 20 seconds time, I found this one. At first I thought it was cute and moved on. But all day I kept going back to it. I couldn't stop looking at it. And I still can't. There's something about it that I adore.

Sammy as the focal point makes sense. In many ways our family revolves around this one little girl. Everything we do is done after consideration of Sammy's needs. She's special, and that's ok. It's good. We are learning patience and compassion. Callie and Micah have both taken an especially deeper tenderness towards her lately. I'm not sure what it is, but Callie is always trying to comfort her, calm her down, hug her, play with her hair. She's sweet with Sammy. Micah has been mimicking Callie's ways and it's been beautiful to see this little toddler love his older sister so gently.

I love her hands curled upward. Well, in many ways I despise it, but those hands are precious to me. They are held upward, toward her heart. They are curled into tight fists and curled inward at her wrists. These hands don't serve her as my hands serve me. What she wants done is not accomplished with these balled up hands. They struggle to put food in her mouth properly and cleanly. They do not hold onto objects very well, and once in her hand, they don't release what is being held. For that reason, she has to use the force of her arms to fling it out of her hands. She reminds me how much I take my hands for granted. As I sit and quickly type my thoughts, she struggles to open her hand. For the past week or so, I've been giving Sammy massages before going to bed. I rub out her legs and feet. I finish by rubbing her arms and hands. She becomes so relaxed allowing her hands to unfold and remain free from pulling tight tendons. This has become a special time of day for us both. She falls asleep almost instantly after her massage and I walk away feeling the love you only feel after giving service to those you love.

I love the light that is shining in through the curtain. It creates a soft glow around her and I'm reminded of the light that only the Savior can provide. I see this light in Samantha. I wish I could say that I see it constantly. I don't. My eyes are veiled at times from my own inability to look beyond the moment. Sometimes the teeth grinding or the squeals that are so loud they pierce my ears, or the daily tasks of life get in the way of seeing the light of Christ emanate from her eyes. But occasionally I stop and see it. I stop and absorb it. I have always felt like Sammy is surrounded by angels. I believe that to my core. It's not just a belief, really. I know there is no way she could be where she is today without angels protecting her. She has a reason to be here. She has a mission to accomplish, and I feel really blessed to be a part of that. I do believe that one day, I will see her robed in so much light that I may be blinded by it. That it won't be until I'm sufficiently purified that I will be able to see her fully as who she is. Oh, I truly believe she will be among those who will usher me to my Savior. I love her so much.

I love her little smile and long face. Quite frankly, she is one of the most beautiful children I know. Hey, I get it. People stare of her sometimes. They are surprised by her unusual looks. But she is stunning to me. I think it goes back to that light that shines from her pores. Her soft skin, her rosy lips, her honey streaked hair. She's so beautiful to me. I love all her imperfections because it's who she is.

I love Micah in the back. In his church clothes still, walking with his little Micah swagger, I love his blurred image behind her. It completes the picture for me. He's the visual reminder that in our family, we've all got each other's backs. We're there for one another. We will protect and love no matter what. We won't step out on each other. We will be there. There's a lot that could happen in this lifetime, but we'll be there for each other.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It Never Ends

Packing lunches.

It never ends. When children live in your home, this whole cleaning business never ends. You try to teach. Ohhhh you try to teach them to pick up after themselves, to make their beds, to put their dishes away. Miraculously some of these life lessons actually stick. But a vast majority of the time, Mom is cleaning up all. day. long.

Or not. And on those days/weeks, the house is a mess until Mom (me) lets out a huge exasperated sigh and decides enough is enough...and she gets to work to clean it up all.

Last week we were visited by angels. They appeared to be your average young teenaged girls. But lo, they were great with spirit and zest for life! They showed up at the door ready to work. As a part of a service challenge they were doing at church, they came to the door and were asked to be put to work! (Did I already mention they were angels?) They did the vacuuming, cleaned my windows and sliding glass door, dusted, organized the dvds and filled the empty cases with the correct video (Whaaaaat?), and picked up the toys off of Micah's floor. It was incredible. And I love them for it.

Kirsten and Eliza

Their fearless leader, Lisa
 When I went to put Micah to bed that night, what did I find? A family of stuffed animals reading together. Nice touch. It was pretty darn cute.

But remember what I said about the cleaning never ending? Well, the very next day, this is what happened.
"Me? Are you looking at me?" says the sweet little boy.
And Sammy thinks, "Don't you dare pin this on me kid!" 

Callie, the ever-willing helper, cleaned it up with me and vacuumed the room. Oh those angels were kind and thorough, but they are no match for my children!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Recently Micah's best friend, Grandpa, gave him a BYU hat. It was a nice gesture. He didn't think about it too much until, boom! One day. That hat became the most important thing in this boy's existence! We can't leave the house without his hat. He has to wear it around the house, while he plays, while he eats, while he plays hoops. The boy maaay be obsessed.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Primary Program 2014

What is my favorite Sunday of the year? It's the Primary Program. If you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you'd probably say the same thing. Every Sunday we are edified by speakers in our congregation and hear great messages. We feel the Spirit and it's great. But on this Sunday, the Primary Program Sunday, the children are in charge of the day. They share the messages. They give the talks. They provide the music. They often usually also provide the comic relief.

For the third year, I've been responsible for the "script" of the program. It has become increasingly important that this is their program, not a program that we create for them. And so, this  year I asked them questions, and they answered. I recorded what they said, and boom, the script was made. What resulted with a program full of sweetness, honesty, and testimony. I sat up at the podium with the children and enjoyed every moment of it. They were all so well-prepared and excited to do the program. I know Callie had invited many friends to attend. The songs were so beautiful. They sung like angels. At the end, I couldn't even sing the closing song, Families Can Be Together Forever, because I was choking on my own emotions, tears spilling over onto my cheeks.

What was the overall message this year? Families are Eternal. They are permanent. There is no end to our family bounds after death. We can be together forever. By following the plan of our Heavenly Father, we can return and live with Him again, be wrapped in the arms of our Savior, and be sealed to our families for time and all eternity. For me, I'm not sure there is a greater message that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches. These children get it. Their purity is beautiful and their message simple and true. 

I'm grateful for my eternal family. I will do all in my power to make sure that we will be together forever. No momentary pleasure is worth sacrificing my eternity with them, because without them, my eternity would be feel empty. 

After church we tried to get some pictures of our two sweethearts who participated in the program. Let's just say, pictures haven't been the easiest lately, but we'll never stop trying to get a good one! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jane and Austen by Stephanie Fowers

I thought this was a really cute romantic comedy. Each of the characters were a little over the top, but it felt intentional. Jane...ultra-romantic. Austen...ultra-practical. I see more eye to eye with Austen, so Jane seemed so ridiculous to me at times. But it never bothered me. She played her part well. Or rather, the author wrote Jane well. I liked it. I looked forward to going to bed each night so I could keep reading. There are obvious comparisons to all of Jane Austen's work, which adds another element to fans of her writing. But for those who don't know her work too well, or at all, it's still easy to follow along. It's hectic and crazy and really fun. I do wish there was more detail that explained feelings Jane and Austen had in the beginning. I'm so curious. I wanted more of a sit-down-and-hash-it-out session where it was all figured out. When did Austen "change" his mind? I want to hear it all!

Super fun, light read. Perfect timing for me.

I Know Why People Don't Vote...But They Still Should

Today, blessed day, we get to vote. I usually vote by mail. It's just more convenient. But this year, I waited too long. And I was so very very close to not voting at all.

Why? Well, for the same reasons my daughter doesn't get dropped at at school with a mother who has make-up on and is wearing sweats. (I do get my teeth brushed, and I consider that amazing, for your information.) It's the same reason why on most days I don't get a shower in until around 1pm! Don't judge...lest ye be judged my friends. Life with kidlets makes for busy mornings...and afternoons...and evenings until bedtime.

This morning was no exception. Why did I almost not vote?! It was already passed Micah's nap time. I usually vote by mail, so I didn't even know where I was supposed to go. And I cynically thought, "I know what the result will be anyway." Ew. I seriously thought that. How lame is that? It kind of made me sick, because that's not me.

That's when I went online and in all of 5 seconds I knew where my assigned voting location was. (Isn't that Internet thingy an incredible discovery?) Boom. Easy. I picked Micah up and strapped him into the car. Because you know what? We don't know what the results will be! And I didn't want to let my excuse-filled mind take over. Those weren't my voices friends...those were voices from so many other cynical people (I'm not schizophrenic) who slowly planted those seeds and phrases in my mind, so when my defenses were down...what sprouted out? Bologna! If what I vote for wins, I was a part of that! How awesome. If what I vote for loses, I tried. I supported the good fight (or at least in my political  view would be the good fight). Fantastic.

"Son, we're going to vote."
"Goin' to bote." Dang he's cute.

Because I was supposed to vote by mail, they had to take a few extra steps to get me my ballot, but they were kind and willing to help. Already I felt energized. That's right, all that extra work they were doing was worth my vote. What kind of made me sad, though, was that these three women wreaked of civic duty...and not enough people saw them. I hope what I saw at the polls is not representative of this day, because only I was there. It was quiet. Do people think if they aren't voting for the President that the voting process isn't as important? They are. They truly are. I hope that people haven't become so cynical as to think their vote doesn't matter...or to think that they are too busy to have a voice for their city, state, and country. Remember, this class president was almost a victim to this kind of thinking today. There was once a day when I urged people to vote, because it was about me! Meeee! Well, these issues are just as important and affect each of us individually just as much.

I felt so good when I left that middle school parking lot. Listen guys, California needs a lot of serious help. A LOT! But I really believe no one has the right to complain, or maybe even comment, unless they take the initiative to vote. I'm not a political junky, but there's a lot I care about that depends on the politics of where I live. And voting is one opportunity I have to let those "in charge" know how I feel and what I want for myself and my family.

So though I almost fell from grace in the eyes of avid voters...rest assured I didn't miss my voting streak today. I voted with pride...and with this handsome little devil by my side.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I Choose You

Lindsey is getting married. And I'm so excited! She came down to spend Halloween with us this year and spent the night. She and I stayed up too late talking, crying, and then getting a little slap happy and giggling too much at nothing before going to bed. It was really fun.

One reason she spent the night was because Peggy, Lindsey, and I went to Bloomster's to pick out the flowers for her bouquet Saturday morning. Again...fun. But it was also a little overwhelming for me. The last time I was in Bloomster's, looking at flowers, I was picking out MY flowers. The guy who helped Lindsey was the same man who helped me. He knows his stuff. He's good. But I'm not someone who planned the details of my wedding when I was young. I was a little clueless and out of my comfort zone. All of a sudden I was engaged and thought, "Let's plan a wedding!" I had NO idea what that meant. And as his fast paced energy swirled around me, I felt so overwhelmed. I didn't like my bouquet. When people told me I need to wear darker lipstick for the pictures, I just did it. Now I look at my pictures, I don't like what I see. I wanted to go simple and inexpensive...I think now I would have totally changed what my bridesmaids wore. If I had to do it all over again, I would have changed kind of a lot.

But, it doesn't matter at all. I never ever think about those things until I help someone else plan a wedding...and that doesn't happen all that often. I don't think about my wedding and reception all that much.

What I do remember are the feelings I had that day. I remember feeling so loved...by Marcus, family, and so many people who were strangers to me but friends with Marcus's family. I felt enveloped with love and acceptance. I hugged so many people before who I had never met! And they felt like family! I had so much fun that day. I loved every moment.

So when I look back and think about my bouquet, my not-me makeup, my shoes (I would have spent money to get some really hot shoes), I doesn't matter to me. Because really, I only kept a few things from that day.

My ring. My dress. My man. And really, only one of those matters to me.

I found this picture last week. Woa! That was so long ago. We look so young and ready to conquer the world. At times, if we had allowed it, the world could have easily conquered us. Though Samantha is among our greatest blessings, her life could have pushed us over the edge. But instead, we grew stronger together. Facing adoption is not an easy task. Not only is it a lot of work to put everything together, but we had three birthmothers choose us and then decide they had other plans. Again, we could have crumbled. Well, we did for a short time. We felt the pain of the experience. But we grew stronger together. And we have Callie and Micah. Through graduate school, moving, unemployment, job changes...we could have thrown the towel in.

But that's not what we decided to do before all this happened. Getting married was a decision to stick it out.

When Marcus proposed to me, he did so because he decided that I was worth being with forever. No matter what came about, I was the one he wanted to do it all with and there would be no giving up when it got hard. I said yes because I felt the same way. Not only do we love each other, but we share a common respect and commitment. But more than that, we put all our faith in God. He is a part of our relationship. And I honestly think if He wasn't our focus, our aim, then there would have been times when our crumbling could not have been repaired. Our pain, sadness, despair...it would have sucked us in causing anger and resentment. Instead, because we both have our focus on more eternal paths, we were able to heal together, knitting our hearts even more so.

I'm not trying to make a commentary on other marriages at all. (I will only say, though, that when someone decides to not play their part anymore, it makes it extremely difficult and can take a lifetime to heal from a pain such as that.) My one and only experience revolves around this one man. Together we do all we can to help each other through life. We still laugh. We comfort one another. We see each other at our worst and, luckily, at our best. He's the partner I chose and the partner I would choose again. I hope the same for my own daughters one day. I hope that my son(s) will work to become a husband and father like their own. Until then, I think Marcus is setting a great example of the type of man that will help lead their own families one day...a man who will humbly walk beside his wife, encourage her, love her, and tenderly guide his family back to God.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mr. Bare Bum

Lately Micah has been taking his pants off, and his diaper, all. the. time. I can't seem to keep clothes on him. The other day was, in particular, quite difficult. I was working on some things and the next thing I knew, Mr. Bare Bum was jumping on the trampoline! Callie thought it was hysterical. And I admit, I was laughing pretty hard along with her. He thought he was hilarious and it was kind of difficult to get him down. But we did. And he actually kept his clothes, and diaper, on the rest of the day. Ya know, I've always thought diapers would be uncomfortable. I guess we all have our way of letting loose and relaxing. Micah's just happens to be going nude...on the trampoline. It could be worse.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Final Stage -- Halloween 2014

Stage 3 of Halloween. All other events lead up to this one night. Halloween.

Trick or treating, excessive candy eating, being with family and friends. This Halloween did not disappoint and we had the added joy of having Chris in town and Lindsey and Cindy come down for the trick or treating. They both came over afterward. Cindy left a couple hours later and Lindsey spent the night. It was so. much. fun. I loved it!

Halloween 2014 Stage 2

Halloween isn't complete without the school parties and parades.  This year, just like last, Callie refused to smile for me. Later she told me that she didn't want others to see her smile...she just wanted  me to see. hmm  I eventually did get her to smile. 

Makeda, Tiara, Callie, Claire, Mattea, Maddy
 Callie didn't have school on Friday, Halloween, so all their festivities were held on Thursday. It was kid of a great way to start off the Halloween weekend for the kids. And honestly for me too. It allowed for a small extension of fun.

 This was the best one. The line had spread out a little in the parade and there weren't too many parents around, so she smiled. Callie is so funny. I'm not sure why she didn't want others to see she was happy. Is she already too cool? Oh brother. But I love her to pieces. She decided to not wear her wig to school, which I thought was actually smart. It's kind of heavy and can get it the way if she had to focus on school. She was still one the prettiest Elsa's of Halloween -- I'm not biased at all.

 Callie came home with some vampire teeth from class. She was a vampire Elsa, and loved it.

 Sammy's school had their party during the rain...on Halloween. Last minute the parade had to be brought indoors and it got a little complicated. It was hard to get a good of her.


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