Sunday, June 29, 2014

High tops

We just bought a part of high tops for Nathan.  He was so excited.

He wanted us to get a pair for Sophia as well, but I told him a 4 yr old didn't need a pair of high tops.

When we returned home, he took matters into his own hands.  This is him drawing and cutting out a pair of high tops for Sophia.  I thought it was cute so I took this picture and went about my night.
Some time later, he came up to me and said, "Look, Mama.  I made Sophia a shoe box."  He'd found a lightbulb box and drawn numbers on the side so it looked like his new shoe box.


"Open it." he said.  

He'd found a pair of his own dirty socks from some dusty corner of the basement and literally glued his cut out high tops onto them so that Sophia could pull her new "high tops" onto her feet.

Seriously, how sweet is that?


Unfortunately, there's no picture of Sophia wearing said "high tops".  She didn't get or appreciate it.  

I think it's awesome.  He's a very kind, loving brother.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's a quail... not a Gogurt

We have quail.  A lot of them..  they go with the hawk in a sort of "circle of life" sort of thing.

A year ago, when the first batch of babies were hatching (Brent orders eggs online and then hatches them here), Nathan was having great fun holding the wee little chicks.

One day Nathan came running down the hall and said, "Mama!  This chick is sick.  You have to help it!"
He held out his hand and there was a very limp baby chick in his hand.  I looked at his hand and thought, "That chick is dead."

I could see from his eyes that he was panicked.

"I said, "Oh, baby, I'm so sorry."

He started crying.

"I said, "Did you squeeze him too hard? You have to hold them so carefully and be so gentle with them."

And he said, "I was just trying to squeeze all the poop out of them before I held him.  I didn't want him to poop in my hand."

"Oh, honey... it's a quail, not a Gogurt!"

Some catch up...

Drumroll, please...

Twenty-three years after I started, I finally have my Bachelor's Degree in Business with a minor in Information Technology Management.

Feels amazing to have that one off my Nagging List of Things I Never Finished.

So here's some stories from my kids to catch you up.

March 2014

"Sophia just told me she's not a turtle.  She says she's too big to fit in a shell and that this is her home."

___
was out running errands with the kids.  Nathan grabbed a pair of sunglasses, put them on and said, 'Now my name is Johnny Fabulous."

April 2014
"Nathan just said, 'I know she's out there, Mom."
"Who, Nathan?
"The girl I'll love..."

June 2014

Me: "Sophia, stop screaming"
Sophia:  "I not screaming.  I louding."
____
I was watching How to Train Your Dragon with Nathan.  There's that scene where Hiccup is trying to get the wild dragon to warm up to him and he finally gets to the point where he puts his hand out.  The dragon pauses for a minute, and then reaches out and touches Hiccup's hand and then flies off.

Nathan turned to me and said," Did you see that?  It was like the dragon said, "Well, that was a pleasant little moment.  I'm going to go now."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Presentation from BYU Women's Conference Last Year

Topic: Define Ourselves by Divine Qualities: Measuring Our Worth the Lord's Way:  Worldly influences shape our idea of beauty and womanhood causing us to compare ourselves, set unrealistic goals, and spend our energy on counterfeit sources of self-worth.  How can we recognize these false standards?  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "I want you to be proud you are a woman.  I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you really are."  Where does genuine self-worth come from?  How can understanding our divine worth strengthen our self-worth?

On the day that I received the invitation to speak here, I was also notified that we had been selected to adopt a daughter.  Sophia is three and was born in China.  She was born without a left hand, meaning her arm stops below her elbow.  This was caused by amniotic fibers getting wrapped around her developing arm while she was in utero.  Those fibers and her growing form fought for space and control and eventually the fibers won.  Her forearm and hand weren't able to develop.  She will forever bear the signs of that battle before she was born. 

Things aren't easy for girls born in China.  Things are even worse for disabled girls born in China.   On the day she was born, she was abandoned - written off as not worth it by a society that places emphasis on healthy, male children.

But Sophia is tenacious.  To survive orphanage life, you have to be.  She's a fighter and that's what kept her alive and it carries her through her daily life.   She is happy and cheerful.  She sings and dances and bounces with joy most of the time. Watching her struggle to pick things up or pull herself up, it's obvious that she's completely unaware that she's missing a hand.  She doesn't know she's different and she doesn't know what life would be like with two hands, so she's really not fazed by missing one.

As she grows, Sophia will be notified of her differences - in glances, in whispers and blatant comments from others.  As her mother, I worry that she'll lose that innate cheerfulness and that she will become preoccupied with why she's different; why she was adopted; why she was abandoned; and why God didn't see fit to give her another hand.  In the meantime, we're just rejoicing in having her dynamic personality in our home.  My son is thrilled to be a big brother and I don't think my husband will be more pleased this year than he was when he taught her that the correct response to the question "who are you" is the answer "Daddy's girl". 

Sometimes it’s easier for us to look at someone like Sophia and think that “Oh, I’ll bet God gave her that body so her eternal spirit could learn something special” than it is for us to remember that the same statement is true for each of us.  My body is a custom-built teaching environment for my soul.  God sent me to this earth in a body that allows me to experience the world differently than anyone else around me.  My height, my scoliosis, my infertility, my mental health, my FMS, my relationships, and my experiences all combine together to create the incubator that Heavenly Father knew was best for my spirit if I let Him use them for my good.

The funny thing about Earth Life is that we're here to try to remember, to try to figure out what Heavenly Father already knows about us.  The God of the entire universe, He who knows the beginning from the end, did not send us down here to fail.  He sent us here with perfect knowledge that we could do this, that this test was not only achievable but that it is in our eternal best interests.  He knows that we are absolutely capable of succeeding.  He's so confident at our chances for success that He authorized eight year old children to make eternal covenants with Him.  They can’t even blow their own noses and He lets them make covenants.  He knows we can do this.  We, personally, need to find that out for ourselves. 

Long ago, before we were born, you and I were also involved in a battle.  Our bodies are the sign of that battle – they’re a token of what we endured, what we fought for and what we won.  We don't remember the details but 1/3 of our spiritual siblings were cast out.  CAST. OUT.  That's not "kindly shown the door and asked to take their bad attitude elsewhere."  CAST. OUT.  I don't think it's possible for us to fully grasp what it meant for them to choose to follow the other plan.  But the part you should keep in mind is that you are here.  You have a body.  You won.  Your body says that you, too, are a fighter; you're a warrior and you can do this.

I don't know the details of that battle in heaven, but I do know that Satan is forever trying to bring us down to his level make us “miserable like unto himself”.  Our bodies are one of the tools he tries to utilize.  The very symbol of our triumph incenses him and he attempts to thwart our forward progression.  In the universal spirit of balance, Christ is the Rock of Our Salvation and Satan is the Wet Cement of our Doom.  Somehow, even though he has never had a body himself, he seems to be able to target our thoughts about ourselves and our bodies to try to break our will and have us surrender, stop, or quit.  He makes it an easy mental leap from “there are things about my body or life that I’d like to change” to “I have no worth.”

Perhaps he's still smarting over not "measuring up" the first time, but Satan would like us to focus on perceived measures and feel that we're “not good enough”.  The world we live in, like Satan, is preoccupied with measures - the size of your paycheck, the size of your waist, the size of your house are all used to indicate success and worth in Satan's world.  The messages of what the world thinks we should be doing or who it thinks we should be are loud, frequent and pummel our very souls. 

You and I have been warned about these things.  We sat through the YW lessons and we got that message.  We learned that the world would have us be prideful and that this keeps us from the Lord. 
We, as good Mormon women, know that it's wrong to judge others or to treat others as if they are inferior.  All that "putting yourself up on a pedestal" and thinking you're better than everyone else - we won't do that.  That's clearly wrong.  We know that's pride and self-centeredness.   We've all read The Book.  We know how well that turned out for the Lamanites. 

Yet here’s where Satan's sneaky subtle means catch us.  He would have us veer so far from being prideful that we actually start to focus on what we don't do well - you know, just to keep ourselves humble.  We tell ourselves that we need to remember our flaws to prevent ourselves from getting prideful.  In fact we honestly think we're doing the RIGHT thing by starting this list of our flaws and weak spots.  Funny how easy it is to add to that list of what we don't do well.  Maybe we aren't the shape we want to be or we don't read our scriptures as studiously as we know we could.  Maybe we can't get over our hang-ups with Visiting Teaching.  Gradually you start to notice when other people receive praise for something.  Maybe you keep a little mental tally of whether or not you are also praiseworthy in that area.  Maybe you find yourself listening a little closer to the testimony meeting, to see if the sobbing sister going through a tough time will mention that YOU, YOU helped her and when she doesn't you wonder why your service didn't find merit. 

Next Satan has us notice what others have that we lack.  Maybe it's a better job.  Maybe it's a husband. Maybe it’s a child.  Maybe it's a healthy body.  Maybe it is seemingly instantly answered prayers.  "I'm obedient.  Why don't I get what I want?”  We tell ourselves that if God loved us he'd give us what our hearts desire and bless us like he blesses Sister So-and-so.  We continue to use that sense of "measuring up" to count our blessings, or our perceived lack thereof, and try to use that to explain to ourselves how God must work- not realizing that we’re measuring Him with Satan’s measuring stick of “having equals worth”.  We look at what we want and compare it to what we don't have and find it's easy to tell ourselves that He hasn't answered our prayers because if He loved us He’d do it our way.

Then Satan has us recite that mental list to ourselves a few times. And it's funny how when you're looking for an excuse, any one will do. 

Next, we're recognizing how significant people in our lives always take advantage of us and how we're always the one left cleaning up after everyone else and how no one really understands or appreciates us anyway.  Slowly, the list of perceived wrongs seeps into our thoughts, and then our vocabulary.  It taints, poisons, and sours the way we think about ourselves, and others, and soon the way we think about God himself.  It no longer seems like a large leap of logic to hear yourself say, "God does answer prayers - just not mine.  God does reward righteousness - just not mine.  God does love his children, but he's disappointed in me.  After all, I'm disappointed in me, why wouldn't he be disappointed in me".  

So how did we make the leap from lessons in humility to spiritual chains?  How are being humble and lacking confidence different?  Elder Glen L. Pace taught that when we focus on our weaknesses – when we "wallow in weakness", if you will, we do not “allow weak things to become strong".  "Our condition is frequently misdiagnosed as humility when, in reality it is a lack of confidence". Humility is recognizing our utter dependence on the Lord.  We are aware that we do things well, that we have talents, but we don't become prideful about it because we know that everything we have is a gift from Him.  Similarly, we recognize that we have weaknesses but we realize that the Lord can help us turn those weaknesses into actual blessings; therefore we don't overly focus on them either.   As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less often.”  And to quote Thomas Harris, the humble realize that "the feeling of being okay does not imply that a person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems.  It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them."  They realize that if it seems they’re being short-changed then there really must be more coming beyond the horizon of their current perspective.   The humble realize that there is a greater plan and that it will be OK because the Lord Never Cheats Anyone.  He literally cannot and the humble have faith in that. 

Lacking confidence, on the other hand, is to have low feelings of self-worth.  It's focusing on what we can't do, don't have, or haven't mastered.  We forget that we are "daughters of a Heavenly Father" - we're Heavenly Father's girls - and He loves us.  I don't mean that in a distant, noble, "He loves me because He created me and therefore He has to love me.  Otherwise it wouldn't be very godly of Him" sort of way.  I mean it like a "Daddy's girl", sort of way.  I mean it in a "rejoices in every small triumph, weeps with you when you weep, hopes you remember to call home daily" sort of way.  And just as no mother would withhold love from their newborn because they're can't seem to pass the AP Physics test, our Heavenly Father does not "start" loving you when you achieve a certain level or when you check off a certain number of "obedience points".  He loves you now, where you are, for who you are now, who you've always been, and who He knows you have the power to become.

Cunningly Satan hides that fact that pride and lack of self-worth are both rooted in self-centeredness and in an essential disrespect for God's Eternal Plan. Both deny the power of God and his ability to work good in our lives. Those who lack self-confidence become the victim of their own self-talk. They think that putting everyone else besides themselves up on a pedestal, while finding all the ways they personally don't measure up is not anywhere near the sin of pride when, in reality, both views are both embedded in self-focus:  one for what we do well, and the other side for what we think we do poorly.  And those minutes spent feeling sorry for ourselves are minutes that we will never get back for progression or forward motion or peace. 

In the spirit of measuring and distracting us from God’s Eternal Plan, Satan has us think the “lack” in this tiny part of our eternal existence is the most important thing.  He would have us focus no further than what we are “not”.  In reality, God turns all things for our good, inasmuch as we’ll let Him.  We mere mortals have a very different definition of affliction and “lack” than Heavenly Father does.  Even if we live to be 100 years old and even if we are in physical pain and even if we live alone each of those 36 thousand days, the physical pain and the loneliness isn’t the important part.  What we need to be delivered from is whether or not our reactions to, and our thoughts about, those days create a spiritual struggle that keep us from our Heavenly Father.  It’s the heavy heart, the tendency to complain, the “poor ol’ me” syndrome that’s more important.  In the Eternal Picture, it’s not as important that my life is comfortable as it is that I learn from what my life gives me.  The actual eternal damage from afflictions isn’t physical; it’s spiritual.   

While Heavenly Father and our Savior love us no matter what, the Holy Ghost cannot accept invitations to personal pity parties.  He cannot.  He cannot abide such falsehoods.  He must be where there is light and truth and honor and a serious case of the "poor old me's" is none of those.  We may find that the home we have built for our thoughts in our hearts is in such a location that we can no longer see the truth of who we are from the doorway. 

But the purpose of this life is to learn how to make choices, including how we feel about ourselves and our circumstances.  We are here to learn, and that includes how to control our thoughts.  It is never, ever too late to choose a new path or choose a new line of thinking. 

In John 9 - the Savior walks by a man who was blind from his birth.  His disciples ask him who sinned, the man or his parents, that caused the man to be born blind.  Now, mind you, it's like the disciples think he's deaf!  The man is sitting RIGHT THERE and, since he can't see anything, he's listening to everything.  And the Savior says, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be manifest in him" (See what He teaches there… things aren't perfect because God needs us to allow Him to use those things to help us become stronger.  Why is it easy to see that fact when it involves someone else - like my Sophia's lack of a hand or this man's blindness - then we can see that those trials are "a blessing from God" but when it's our own life and our own "lack" we feel picked on and slighted by the God of the entire universe?) 

Anyway… "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground." 

What a lovely word… "spat".  It's like onomatopoeia in that it sounds like what it is. "SPAT!"   Now remember, this is Christ.  He could heal this man anyway He wanted to.  But this man is blind, and as you study the rest of the chapter, you see that this man will need to testify about what was happening.  So Christ did this healing in a way that allowed the blind man participate in the healing.

 "… He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle…"

Now I don't often go around making clay out of spittle, but I'm going to guess that was a lot of spit.  Spat!  Spat!  Spat!  How close in proximity to the blind man do you think Christ was when He did that?  Do you think the blind man had been spat upon before?  Maybe the man started feeling his face to try to wipe off what he usually finds when he hears that sound… spat.  Was there a smell to the newly wet dirt used to make a clay?  That had to have an odor of some sort, right?  Now maybe the man smells something.  “What is going on?”

"…made clay of the spittle and he anointed the eyes of the blind man”… so this man, sitting, hearing these men say this not so nice things about him…hearing the fantastic response from the Savior...hearing the spit again and again, maybe…smelling the wet dirt…feeling the wet clay on his eyes…  How do you think that touch felt?  Did the Savior press it in there or just set it on his eyes? Do you think the blind man reached up and touched the Savior's arms to try to find out what was going on?  How did they feel?  What did the wet clay feel like?  How much was there?

 “…and then said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”… and the man is healed.    

The Savior could have chosen any way at all to heal that man.  There are no inherent healing proprieties the combination of spit in dirt.  Certainly clay does not restore sight.  Christ could have said, as he did on other occasions, "go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole".  But this man needed a testimony of the Savior, as you see in the rest of the chapter, and so, to prepare that one man for what was to come for him, the Savior chose a very intimate method for his healing and a very unique way for the man to participate in his healing. 

Thus it is for each of us.  There is spiritual spittle, if you will, to shed light on our every blindness.  There is tenderly placed clay for each affliction, if we chose to let the Spirit show us is it there. 

So what do we do if we can’t feel the clay on our own spiritual afflictions?  If that is the case, there is hope. 

In Helaman 5, the story is told of Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, who were cast into prison.  A group of Lamanites came to slay them and, to their surprise, Nephi and Lehi were surrounded by fire.  And the scriptures tell us that the Lamanites (Hel 5:28) "they were overshadowed by a cloud of darkness and an awful solemn fear came upon them."  Does that sound like what we've been talking about at all?  Does Satan's plan to let us talk ourselves down to an immobility of spirit sound at all like a “cloud of darkness” and maybe even “an awful solemn fear”?  The scriptures go on to say in vs. 34 that they “could not flee” because of the cloud of darkness, and also they were “immovable because of the fear which did come upon them.”  Does it ever feel like you can't move forward?  That you can't change the way you've been feeling about yourself?  That you can't break the weight of those thoughts and emotions?

The scriptures continue and explain that there was a man in the group who had been a member of the Church but fell away.  And in vs. 36, "And it came to pass that he turned him about and behold he saw through the cloud of darkness."  Isn't it interesting that they included the phrase that “he turned himself around” before he could see through the darkness.  He had to repent, to change, to turn, in this case literally, "before he could see through the darkness” brought on directly by his choices to attempt to slay Nephi and Lehi. And it says in vs. 37 that the man “did cry unto the multitude that they might turn and look” and then watch what happens, "And behold, there was power given unto them that they did turn and look"

Who gave them that power?  Did the man do it?  Did Nephi and Lehi do it?  No, it came from the Lord. And in vs. 40, like so many people in the scriptures who experience a change of heart say, these Lamanites said, "What shall we do that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?"  And what answer are they given?  "You must repent… until you have faith in Christ, and when you shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you."  

Repent??  Does that mean I'm bad?  Isn't that a bad thing?  NO. In fact, it's a commandment to repent, so if you don't repent, then you'd have to repent of not repenting and that just gets cyclical and no one really wants to go there, right?  This is why He provided a Savior - a Savior who wants to annoint your eyes that you may see yourself the way He does.  The Lord can give you the power to turn - to turn your heart, to turn your thinking, to turn the way you feel about yourself - into a way that allows you to not be paralyzed by being human.   

We seem to forget that we're mortal and that the dirt and the rocks and the trees were designed to always exactly fill the measure of their creation, but for us, He expects more.  He needs us to fail so we can rise up again.   We need to make choices so that we can see that we can choose rightly and we can hold to a course that we do deserve what He offers us (which is “everything He has”, for those of you playing along at home).

Years ago as a missionary, my companion and I were put into an area where two senior single sister missionaries had been proselyting.  They were both going home and we were moving into their area.  Our mission president had them stay an extra week to acquaint us with the area.  So my companion and I slept on the floor of the front room for that week.  We younger sister missionaries had to be up before the senior sisters.  Every morning I would try so hard to not wake Sister Anderson as I would head to the bathroom.  And every morning I would hear her soft voice say, "You can turn the light on, if you want to."  It became a game of sorts for me, to see if I could get through my morning routine without waking Sister Anderson but every morning I'd hear her soft statement, "You can turn the light on, if you want to."  I've come to know that this a great truth.  My "want to" decides if the light is on in my heart and my life, or if it is not.  The Lord does not force obedience… that was someone else's plan.  I can turn the light on, even in how I feel about my own self, if I want to.  He is the switch for that light.  “Ask and ye shall receive”.  And don’t hesitate to include a medical professional in that asking and seeking.  Medicine is a blessing of the age in which we live.

A final story.  Right after I returned from my mission, I had the opportunity to serve at the Open House for the Mount Timpanogos Temple.  When I showed up for my volunteer shift, the worker that was coordinating which volunteers would be in which locations asked me if I was married.  I must have been a little too obvious with my, "No!  No!  I just got home from my mission!" because he kind of smiled at me and said, "I know just where we're going to put you."  He led me to the Bride's Room in the temple… and turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “I think you'll find this room to be quite comfortable for you."

He explained to me some features about the room, the beautiful stained glass window and the chandelier, just in case someone asked questions.   Then he said, "Before I leave you to your post, I want to tell you something.  Come with me."

That temple’s Bride's Room has "eternity mirrors" on the walls, reflecting their image back and forth seemingly forever.  He stood in front of the mirror and gestured for me to stand beside him.  

I have to admit, I probably rolled my eyes a bit internally. I was sure I knew where this was going, but I took my spot next to him and looked at our image in the mirror.

"What do you see?" he asked.

"I can see forever..." I said, while thinking, "Yeah, I've heard all the Young Women's Lessons.  I know what you're going to say."

He said, “Can you really?  Can you see me forever?"

I looked at our image again and said, "Yes, I can see you forever."

"Can you see YOU forever?" he asked.

I looked at the mirror again and was surprised with my own answer.  "No." I said.  "I can't see me forever."

He smiled knowingly.  "Oh, really?  Why can't you see yourself forever?" he asked.

I looked at the mirror again and studied our reflection.  "I'm standing in my own way." I said.

"Exactly", he said.  "YOU are standing in your own way."

He continued, "THIS is what I want you to remember about the temple, about mirrors, and about eternity. We create eternal marriages because we all need someone who can help when our own vision is blocked.  We need an eternal companion because we forget who we are.  We forget that we're our Heavenly Father's sons and daughters.  We lose sight of our own potential and our path.  Just as you can see me reflected forever, we all need someone that can see who we can become and our capabilities; someone who can remember who we really are when we, ourselves, forget.  

“However, if you don't get where you want to be - if you don't reach your full potential, it will be because YOU stood in your own way.  You are responsible for your choices and what you do with your life.  You have no one to blame but yourself if you don't become your best self.  Others are there to help you along the path, but the travel is up to you."

We may not all marry in this small portion of our eternal existence but the Lord never cheats anyone.  We ALL have One who knows us perfectly, who knows exactly what we are, what we were, what we always have been and what we'll be.  Before you dare think “that doesn’t count” remember that’s the God of the Universe to whom you are referring.  When we forget who we are, when we lose sight of our own potential and path, there is One there who is waiting for us to want to turn on the light, who will anoint our eyes, and who will help us turn our hearts until we, too, can see ourselves as Heavenly Father's girls. 

Remember that he could have chosen any name or title for Himself.  He could have forbidden us to mention His name at all.  Instead He chose for you to call Him Father.  He hopes and wants you to speak to Him, invites you to discuss concerns, and potential solutions with Him – multiple times per day.  You, as His daughter, have those membership privileges.

In the words of Neal A Maxwell, "It’s extremely important for you to believe in yourselves, not only for what you are now, but for what you have the power to become. Trust in the Lord as He leads you along. He has things for you to do that you won’t know about now, but that will be revealed later. If you stay close to Him, you will have some great adventures… the Lord will unfold your future bit by bit."


I know this earth life is painful.  I know it's hard, but you’re Heavenly Father’s girl and you can do this.  At the end of the day, I know the Lord Never Cheats Anyone.  Ask and ye shall receive.  He will help you turn the light on in your own life.  I testify that this is true.

So many little things I haven't blogged about

Miss Sophia turned 4 in January.  We just had the grandparents and our neighbors over.  She was so thrilled with every present.

My parents gave her a doll cradle and when she unwrapped the bundle and saw what it was, she nearly squealed as she said, "It's a baby laydown!" and ran to her room to get a baby doll to put in it.  So cute!

_______

The other night, Nathan came up to me and said, "I know she's out there, Mom."  I said, "Who?" and he said, "The girl I love."

He's so very sweet with his sister and they play together really well.  He's also just a funny kid.

The other day I was doing some school work on a Saturday morning.  I was aware that Nathan was spreading out this blanket of his on the floor and that he seemed to be redoing it a lot, but I wasn't really paying attention.

I was then vaguely aware that he put his hoodie jacket and a pair of shoes and a couple of toys in the blanket and then he spent about 10 minutes folding and unfolding and refolding them into the blanket.

Then, I was a bit more aware when he said, "Well, see ya!' and headed out the door.

I sat there, stunned for a moment, as I realized that he wasn't folding... he was PACKING.

So I went to the door and out to the street.  He was headed down the road, was already a couple houses down, with his carefully wrapped bundle under his arm.

I called him back home.

"What are you doing, Nate?"

With excitement in his eyes, he said, "I'm going off to have an adventure!"

I explained again about how Mamas always need to know where you are and that you really do have to ask before you choose your own adventure like that, but that I was proud of him for thinking through what he'd need for his little journey.
________


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Calm Down

As I'm sitting here, catching up posts, I'm reminded that one day several months ago, I was sitting in the living room and I heard Nathan say, "Calm down, Nathan.  Just calm down."

I looked up and he was standing on the countertop, facing the couch in the living room (it's a great room sort of thing - there's only a walkway width between them).  He was trying to convince himself that he could jump from the counter to the couch successfully.

He did end up doing it, but it was really cute to hear him talk himself through it.

And here's a more recent picture.  The night after school pictures, Brent gave him a mohawk of sorts.  He was so excited.  We went over to my parents' house to show them and he has one of my dad's chameleon's on his head.
 And, here's a picture of his school picture.  He's a handsome boy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Robot Hand

Took the kids to the store.

When we got out of the car, Nathan was  wearing one winter snow glove.

"Nathan, what are you doing?"

"Mama, shh... I want people to see me and think, 'Oh!  That boy has a robot hand."

Who can argue with that opportunity?

Sure enough, a few times as we went through the store, he's whisper, "Mama, that guy's looking at me.  I'll bet he's thinking I have a robot hand."

Yeah, something like that...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Baby Doll

Miss S has a baby doll that's her favorite.  I need to get her to hold still long enough to take a picture, but that's not the point of this story.

The point of the story is that she named her baby doll "Disney Jr." which means that she rocks it in her arms, while singing, "Dis-Nee- JR".

We might watch too much TV 'round here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Broken

.... Three weeks ago, N and Miss S were jumping on the trampoline in the backyard.  They do this daily and they really do take joy in playing together.  They've invented a game where our two dogs are bad guys and they laugh their heads off jumping on the trampoline while squeeking a dog toy to make the dogs bark and run around and around the trampoline.

This time was different.

Nathan soon came rushing in, yelling that Miss S was hurt.

When I reached the backyard, she was SCREAMING.

I'll note here that while I was carefully lifting her off the trampoline (she didn't fall off - we have a surround... she landed on the trampoline strangely), Nathan went in the house, got a Ziploc bag and filled it with ice.  He's a good helper.

Long story getting shorter, she broke her ONE ARM quite severely.


We ended up having emergency surgery at Primary Children's Medical Center later that night and they put three pins in to put the head of her humorous back into place.


She looks so tiny in that big bed....

This was after her surgery as I was getting her settled into her room.  The sweet nurses gave her a little kitty with his arm bandaged, too.  

She had a very rough night.  Didn't fall asleep until like 4 AM.  But, after a few hours of sleep, she was back to being herself.

In the mirror the next morning, "That's me!", she said as she sang and danced with her reflection - just like nothing had happened.


A few days later, she had her hard cast put on.  It's PINK and she loves that.




She's been a trooper.  Can't feed herself or do anything really.

"Tan you feed me?  I tan't do yit".

(As a side note, Nate just saw the above picture (with him in the background) and said, "Look.  I'm making her sling into my pretend satchel".  I'd already forgotten that.  Sometimes the words he uses... )

If she's healed well when she sees the surgeon this week, her cast will come off (a concept that she was very worried about because she remembers that the cast made it feel better).





Monday, October 7, 2013

Pop

Miss S has had a rough time of sorts.

Mind you, she's still happy, busy and did I mention, happy.  She sings.  She dances.  She loves gymnastics class (Nathan goes to gymnastics, too and is getting some mad kick-over skills).

Sometime mid-summer, I picked her up by her ONE ARM.  It's one of those things that you know you're not supposed to do, but you have something in your hand and you think it will be fine.  You know what I mean.

There was a cry in pain.  Lots of crying in pain.  It was awful.

Took her to the Instacare and they checked her over and determined that I'd probably popped her elbow out and said all was well now.

She was still terribly uncomfortable.  I gave her a bath later that evening, and was gingerly patting off her arm.  I very careful wrapped the towel around her arm and, in the process of drying her off, I rotated her wrist and it POPPED.

She jumped in surprise and then said, "OH!  Thank you, Mama!".

It hadn't been her elbow that was popped out - it was her wrist and now it felt much better.

I felt terrible about it.

She seemed to know I felt terrible about it.  She kept bringing it up.  At dinner, she's say, "Guess what!  Mama pick me up and, 'POP" my wrist hurt."

The clincher was when she walked into the room one day, holding her baby doll by one arm.  She lifted her up and said, 'Look, Mama, I'm hurting her wrist."

Delightful.  I get it.  I was stupid,  I"m ten thousand times sorry that I was stupid.

But that was only a small thing compared to what was to come....

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Birthday - N turns 6

Nathan turned 6 this past summer.  He was so excited to be growing up and could hardly wait for his birthday to come.

A couple of things I want to remember about this birthday for him:

The night before his birthday he said, 'Tomorrow, I'm six.  Does that mean my hands are going to get bigger?"

Somehow over night, this concept solidified with him.

When he woke up in the morning, he stumbled to the bathroom and I heard him exclaim, "I can see more of me in the mirror!" (because he was obviously taller overnight.  Then he came down the hall and stumbled again and I heard him say, "My balance isn't good yet because now I'm taller."

For his birthday, he received several Legos and he was thrilled.

Mama took the day off and Nathan and I rode the train to Salt Lake together.  Daddy and Sophia met us at the Children's Museum and we spent the afternoon there.
Then we came home to dinner with Grandmas, Grandpas, TiTi and Colly, and our neighbors.

And one point during the day, Nathan looked at me and said, "This is the best birthday ever!"




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Symbiosis

N: "Mom, what does symbiosis mean?"

Me:  "Symbiosis?  Where'd you hear that?"

N (incredulous): "Where'd I hear it?  I just said it!  Listen and I'll hear it again: symbiosis"

Friday, August 16, 2013

Leg Bone's Connected to the WHAT?

Nathan's favorite food is "chicken with the bones in it", as he calls fried chicken.

We had some KFC the other night and he had a drumstick with something sort of tendon-y on it.

"Mama, is this the chicken's crotch because it tastes disgusting!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

Silly Kids



 (he was actually mad here, by the way)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Special

A few years back I wrote about my dad telling me that Stevie Wonder had written his classic "Isn't She Lovely" about me.  I still recall the feeling of sitting in the backseat of our family Pinto, hearing that song come on and having my dad say, "Here's Lori's song!"

A few weeks ago I was snuggled up with Nathan, and I was showing him this post from our very first trip to Haiti where I had documented all the things I loved about our Little Man and all the things I have loved about him since the very first time I met him.

At the end of that post, is this paragraph:  "Our last night in Haiti, as he was putting Nathan to bed, Daddy broke down and said, "Daddy's going to miss you something terrible, Little Man.  You are definitely someone special."

As I read that, Nathan's eyes got wide and he said, "Will you tell me that again?"

I read it to him again.

He said, "Mama, is that true?"

I told him it was.

He said, "Are you sure?"

I said, "Yes, it is.  Do you want to go ask Dad if it's true?"

He said, 'Yes, but you have to come with me!"

We went down the hall to where Brent was.  Nathan was half-bent over behind me, and I could see his face frozen into that look he gets when he's trying to prevent his smile from bursting out.

Brent said, 'What's going on?" (because Nathan's posture was so weird) and I said, "Nathan would like to know if something's true."

Nathan said, "You say it, Mama."

Brent looked more puzzled.

"I was just reading on the blog about our first trip to Haiti and how that first night in Haiti, as you were putting him to bed, you started to cry and you said...", I said, mentally willing him to remember.

Realization dawned in Brent's eyes and he said, '... I'm going to miss you something terrible, Little Man.  You're definitely someone special."

Nathan leaped from behind me clear into Brent's arms and squeezed his neck so tight.

And as tears welled up in our eyes, I recognized the look on Nathan's face and a flood of emotion washed over me as I remembered what it felt like to be a little person in a big person's world and to know, for a brief moment, that the adults in your life thought you were special.

If only I could bottle that feeling for him.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Isn't He Handsome?

He picked it out.  He loves to dress nicely.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Do You?

Sophia's English is improving every day.

Last month, Nathan was in the citychildren's parade.  It was over 100 degrees and miserable, but we made it.

Afterward we went for an ice cream cone.  I think it was the first time that Sophia had a cone - I had to show her that she could eat it.
"Mmm", she said, "Dat Dood! I dad dood.  Do you dat dood?"  ("That's good!  I think that's good.  Do you think that's good?") 

Since then she asks "Do you..." quite often.  It's kind of adorable.

Oh, and Nate thought "dat dood", too.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This Is My View

This is often my view.

Miss S likes to sit on my lap and play with my hair.  
Isn't that a sweet face?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Because Every Creature Needs Love

The other night when I arrived home from work, Nathan met me at the door saying he had a "surprise" for me.  He carefully led me down the stairs and into the basement.  

Tada!  A snake!

Nathan and Brent caught a garter snake in the yard.  Nathan was so excited!  

That first night, Nate and Mama went on a grasshopper hunt, trying to find what we thought the snake would eat.

 We caught a few of the right size and put them in the box with the snake and sat back to watched what happened.

When one of the grasshoppers started crawling on the snake, Nathan said, "And now he's saying, 'Ooh, baby!  Grasshoppers!'"

The snake didn't budge.  We watched for a few minutes and when it became apparent that the snake didn't care about the grasshoppers, Nathan exclaimed, "Mama!  The snake is not going to keep the GRASSHOPPERS as pets, is he??"

The next day, he was so excited to show me that he'd put a branch in with the snake.
When I looked in the box, I said, "Nate, what's with the shoelace?"

"Ssh!" he exclaimed.  "I want him to think it's a girl snake!"

We discovered that garter snakes aren't insectivores - they eat worms and other meat.  Nate and Brent did some digging and once Nathan was reminded that worms are kind of.... moist... that was it.  Deal-breaker for him.  He didn't want to have to dig up worms to feed the snake, so he let it go.

Surprisingly, the snake didn't take the shoelace with it on its next adventure...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Other milestones

Just reading back through notes to friends and remembered that Sophia was home 4 weeks before she dared get out of bed in the morning.

I'm not sure how things worked at the orphanage, but the flatness of the back of her head tells me she was tied down on her back in her crib - we've read many accounts of this happening in Chinese orphanages in rural areas due to lack of help on the overnight shift.  The way she is very flexible at her waist, but her back moves as one unit reiterates that.  I think she could reach her toes, but not lift her head the way she was restrained.

Now when she's in Gymnastics, they tell us she has great core strength for someone her age  I think it's because she's used those muscles to pull her feet up to her face so often to keep herself entertained when tied on her back.  However when she tries to do a somersault, it's more like a front flip because her back doesn't "roll" the way you'd expect.  She smoothly bends and puts her head on the ground and then her whole spine flops over together, without rolling or curling

Anyway, on the morning that she'd been home 4 weeks, she got out of bed by herself and came in and stood in the doorway and said, "Hi!" and it was a big deal for her because she'd been afraid to get out of bed on her own prior to that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

It Was a Science Experiment....

 Nathan wanted to hear the rain on his umbrella again.  I didn't have rain, but I did have a shower.

 So they danced and played in the water and experimented with the different pitch of the sound as they moved the umbrella closer to the water and further and further away.  I love the little look on his face as he listens to the water in this one.


So much fun playing with sound and water!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Handsome Children

This is Sophia's Cheongsam that the other family brought home for her from China.  She's grown so much that she can wear it now, so put her in it for Sunday.

 Nathan also dressed "to the nines".  He likes to dress like "a Hogwarts student" (from the Lego Wii video game) and wear a shirt, tie and vest.  So both were looking handsome for Church.  (in this picture he's singing and dancing for me on the porch).

Several people kept stoppping Sophia and saying, "You look so pretty!' and Nathan would say, "Hey!  What about me??  Did you look at what I'm wearing??"


Sweet, beautiful kids.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"My Nae-nin"

Sophia loves Nathan.

She calls him "my Nae-nin".  "Where my Nae-nin go?" is a common question, as she tries to follow after him.

I took today Friday and went to watch them at the gymnastics classes.  Sophia loves her teacher and her class, but she still wanders off to go talk to her Nae-nin and has to be rounded back up.

I can't tell you how many times I've found them playing together outside, with the hose turned on high and Nathan spraying her down and Sophia laughing her head off.  Whatever Nathan wants to do, she's all in.

In that last video I posted (Sophia spinning in front of the fireplace), she says her name as "Zeh-fee-AH".  Her Chinese name is "Zifei" (which she says as "Zeh-fee") and so the first family that adopted her named her "Sophie" because it was close to the original Chinese name.  An old family friend looked over the Chinese paperwork we have and he says her name, Zifei, means "to flutter", and that's very fitting for our happy little bug. Who doesn't feel better while watching a butterfly? And I guess there really isn't a word for "lights up room with her joy", but that's what she does.  She lights up.

So, the night before that video was taken, I was rocking her to sleep and talking to her.  We named her Sophia, but she still calls herself "Zifei", so I asked her if she wanted to be "Sophia" or "Zefei".  Without hesitation, she said she was "Zeh-fee-AH".  So for awhile there, she was adding that "-AH" to everyone's names.   "Daddy" became "Daddy-AH", and "Mama-AH" and "Nae-nin-AH".  It was as if she was trying to explain that she knows we belong together as a family.

In our early days together in our nighttime routine, we've talked a lot about her family and I use her fingers to explain that we have 4 people in our family and I'd pick out "This one is Daddy, and this one is Nathan, etc." She loved that image, and she's "carry" her family around with her on her little hand.  She often stops what she's doing and says, "This one's Nan-nin, and this one's Daddy..." and I've noticed that she always picks the little pinky finger as "Sophia".  She likes being the baby sister.




Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reflections

Have I told you that I love our fireplace?

We never use it.

I'm so glad we have it.

My children love to watch their reflections in the fireplace and we've captured some awesome moments that way.

Here's Nathan, last Christmas.    Nathan wants to do anything Brent does.  For Christmas, he wanted to be "a Seattle Seahawk" (which is Daddy's favorite NFL team).  So his big gift this last year was his very own NFL uniform.

He unwrapped it and immediately wanted to put it on.  

Then he stood, admiring his reflection in front of the fireplace. 

Seriously, how cute is that.... You can see we weren't even done with presents, but he was so excited to be a Seattle Seahawk.

Miss Sophia, who is a happy, cheerful child, loves to wear pretty dresses and LOVES to watch herself spinning in the fireplace reflection.

Here she is on Easter, loving her new dress.


Every time she gets dressed in the morning, the first thing she does is run down to the fireplace to spin in front of it and giggle at her reflection.

Love my fireplace and the glimpses it gives me into my children's hearts.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Camping with Cousins

We just went camping with Brent's siblings.  First time camping for either child.  They both did great and had so much fun with their cousins.

The first morning, when Sophia woke up, she looked around the tent and said loudly, "Why not my house??" She'd forgotten where she was and Mama and Daddy were happy that she knew where home was.

They had a great time on the boat and just playing around with each other and in the dirt in general.  They were so filthy but that's how you know you had a good camping trip, right?

We even went on a little hike.  Sophia is so determined.  She fell a lot because her balance isn't the best, but she kept going.  She wants to do everything that her brother does - no questions.

They both take gymnastics right now and Sophia is right in the bunch and learning with the rest of them. Nathan is having so much fun.  The night of his first gymnastics class, after he had learned how to do a backbend and had demo'd it to everyone he could find, he was asleep in bed next to me and I woke up because he was moving strangely.  I rolled over to find Nathan trying to do a backbend in bed IN HIS SLEEP.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Dinosaur Museum for another cousin's birthday.  Nathan decided he's fascinated with the Woolly Mammoth.  He later told me, "Mama, I used to like trains but that was before I knew they had woolly mammoths."  He wanted to learn more about them so I looked up some things on the internet for him. After a few minutes he said, 'Mama, this is boring.  Can we look at movies of live mammoths instead of pictures of dead ones?"   (and then we went over the definition of "extinct" again...)

Monday, June 10, 2013

"National" Competition

Driving in the car.  From the back seat, Nathan says, "Mama, Haiti is bigger than China, right?"

"Umm... no, sweetness.  No.  China is much bigger than Haiti. Remember how we talked about Haiti being an 'island'?  China is much bigger than the island that Haiti is on."

[Pause}

"But Haiti has more people than China, right?"

"No...  China definitely has more people than Haiti"

[Pause]

"But Haiti is further away than China, right?"

"I have an idea!  Let's play another game, OK, Sweetness?"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Preschool Graduation

Nathan graduated from Preschool a couple of weeks ago.  He's such a shy kid.  The little program was in the teacher's family room.  The kids all sat facing the parental audience and sang songs and she introduced each kid and what she loved about them.

She had little paper graduation hats for them.  All the other children wore those.  Nathan wouldn't do it.  It just held his.

I asked him later why he wouldn't wear his hat and he said, "I didn't want to look STUPID, Mom!"

He also wouldn't really sing and do the actions.  I asked him why and he said that he didn't want to be doing the singing; he wanted to be sitting with him Mama watching the other kids do the singing.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sophia's language skills are growing rapidly and it's very sweet to see her explain things.

Last night, she was telling me about something Brent did for her.

I said, "Did Daddy do that because he loves you?"

and she said, "Yeah... Daddy 'I love you' me"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Let Me Translate That For You

It is so fun to watch Sophia learn to speak. She picks up new words every day,  One of the issues the other family had was that she wasn't learning to speak  - really she just needs time to figure out things. Every once in awhile she says something and Mama's not sure what it is. Nathan will translate for me and say, "I just spend more time with her, Mom" in that all-knowing tone that only a child can do.

At night at bedtime, Mama rocks her and sings.  She "orders" the songs she wants to hear:  "Sing 'Twinkle Twinkle'"  Her favorite right now is "Give, Said the Little Stream".

I love watching her talk to my parents on the phone. My dad came to the airport to meet her the day they flew home.  It was the night of a massive snowstorm and the flight was pretty late.  Nathan and I nearly spun out on the freeway driving up - so because of the conditions only Grandpa made it up with us to meet their flight.  She has had a special place for "Bampa" ever since.  When we call them at night she likes to tell  them what she did that day, followed by acting it out so they can "see" over the phone.  "Bampa, I jump." [on the trampoline] (she starts jumping up and down).  "Bampa, I slide." [on the slide] (she drops to the floor and starts scooting across the ground in her bottom).

It's a 3D phone experience on our end of the phone.  Pretty cute.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Girl

We went to a wedding reception and she's playing with the bubbles in the backseat.

And this is how she sings the "I love Mama, she loves me, I love Daddy, Yes-sir-ree" song.  It's just a lot of "yes-sir-rees"



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sweet Moves!

For reasons that are too long to explain, my son thinks he can dance like Michael Jackson.  

My favorite is the little "clap" thing he does randomly.




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And THAT'S Where He Draws the Line

From Feb of this year:


So "Finding Nemo" was on last night.  Nate was watching it and had no problem with the talking fish, etc, etc.   
Then it got to the point where the whale swallows Marlin and Dory and then blows them out his blowhole into the Sydney harbor.

Nate said, "Mama, could that really happen?  Could they really blow out a whale like that?"

I told him I wasn't sure how that worked for whales. 

He said," Ahh... just in the movies, then" and turned back to watching.

A few minutes later, the pelican picks up Marlin and Dory in his bill and it shows the two fish positioned in the pelican's craw with their "heads" above the water in the pelican's bill.  Both fish are screaming and holding on for dear life.

Nathan threw his hands in the air and said, "Fish don't breathe air! That couldn't happen! This is unbelievable!" and stomped out of the room.

Somehow he was OK with the fish talking, as long as they were doing it underwater... we all have our limits within which we can suspend disbelief, I guess.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Riding in Cars with Boys??

This was taken 2 weeks after Sophia came home. ,

Nathan adores his little sister.  He loves to play with her.  This was a box that he commandeered and named "Sled" and used it for days to push her around and around the living area of our home.

This was the first night he tried it and he'd been pushing for a good long while.  He came to me and said, "I think Sophia would be more comfortable with some juice." So they both got juice boxes. 

Sophia was hanging on with her one hand and squealing with delight as Nate pushed her.  Then I heard him say, "Sophia, you can let go with your other hand.... you know, like you're waving at a boy or something..."

No idea where he gets this stuff.

Nathan loves Lego Harry Potter and Lego Star Wars games on the Wii.  He and Brent got into a little water fight in the front yard last night and, obviously, Nathan didn't win.  He came in the house dripping wet and crying.  I said, "What happened?" and he said, "Mama, Daddy belongs in Slytherin!" (which is the worst thing he can think of right now).

Miss S has entered the "Why" phase.  I hope we all make it out alive from the "why" phase.  

I haven't posted a lot because there's a whole other aspect of Sophia's life that we've never had before.  Out there, in the world covered by the internet, is another family that brought her home from China and then relinquished her.  They felt she had Reactive Attachment Disorder and rage issues.  

I know how easy it is to find this blog and they do know our names (obviously).  There's a whole family (grandmas, grandpas, cousins, aunts, uncles) that lost a family member with this disruption and I'm a bit worried about them finding this and seeing that the rage issues aren't with the child.  Sophia is doing great.  She's a joy.  She's happy and bouncy and perfectly, wonderfully three.

Thus while I want to shout it from the rooftops that we're so in love with this little girl, I want it to be a quiet roar while another family heals from their loss and ordeal this last year.