Monday, May 20, 2013

Lots of Changes

I have not posted on our blog for over 2 years, but so much is happening, I really need to record it.  In looking back on years past, some of our sweetest memories and difficult trials were recorded here.  I need to get back at it.

Sara and Emma will graduate from Preschool next week.  Next year they will be kindergartners! They started at our local school in a special needs preschool just after they turned three.  So much has happened since then.  When they first started they could only speak a few words, they couldn't go up stairs without help and they had so many things that they couldn't do like "normal" kids. They have had the most amazing teachers who love them so much. I will forever be grateful for how they helped me help our little girls. Being a mom to two special needs little girls has been humbling and magical at the same time. I love how sweet and innocent they are about things. I pray every day, usually several times a day, for God to show me what I am supposed to do to help them. I know that with His help I, we, can do this.  I just marvel at how far they have come in the last two and a half years and know that He has been helping all along.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Family Home Evening: Cultural Awareness

(Early on this year, Nathan and I decided to do FHE's that would expose our children to different cultures. Hopefully it will blossom into visiting festivals and other diverse experiences but for the time being we are having a cultural family night the first Monday of every month.)
We start the evenings by singing a neat song Holding Hands Around the World. You can listen to the song or see the sheet music here. Then we open the gathering with a prayer
Then we learn about the country. What its flag looks like, how to say "hello" in their language, what it is like to be a child there, and other exciting details.
Eventually we will learn a dance or some other custom from that country but for now with 2 three year olds we will do these basics and then try the country's foods.
We sing a closing song and then we close with a word of prayer.

This month we are learning about Greece.
population: 10.6 million
Money: Euro
Language: Greek
Hello: Kalimera
Pronunciation: kah-lee-MEH-rah
Then I am loosely tying it to a story about the Greek philosopher Socrates called the Triple Filter.

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance that ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students called Plato?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the "Triple Filter Test".

"Triple filter?"

"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say. The first Filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and..."

"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the Filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student is something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you're not certain it's true?" The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued. "You may still pass the test though,
because there is a third filter - the Filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really..."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True, nor Good, nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Welcome to Holland

(this is a picture from Sara & Emma's first day of school)

I haven't posted now for a few months, missed the 3rd birthday and everything. I will probably had some pictures of the bday and also Christmas later but this week brought us some changes in our family.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND

by
Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

I have known for a while that the girls were "behind" and different. They didn't walk until they were 18 months. They didn't say at least 50 words at 2 years. I took comfort when someone would tell me, oh that is normal for twins, or preemies, or anything. But it started to be apparent I could just hope they would out grow their delay or I could seek out resources to help them. That is what I have been up to, taking them to an Early Intervention program called Kids on the Move. They would get speech classes and home visits from there. When they turned 3 they aged out of that program and we had to go through all of the testing with the Special Education department of the local school district. These tests are long and hard and almost impossible to do by myself so I have had Nathan take those mornings off from work. I have filled out countless forms, spoke on the phone with 5 specialists for each girl, we have gone to what is called an IEP meeting--the special services/special ed planning meeting, and we have prayed. So this week the girls were classified as developmentally delayed, they are in a Special Education preschool two days a week at the local school, the same one that Hannah attends. They are in different classes, the teachers and specialists that work with them are amazing.

For someone who loves children, spent most of her adult life teaching them, and wants more-regardless of how they come, this whole process has been humbling, so humbling. I have had to turn back to God again and say "I can't do this alone. I need your help, how am I supposed to raise and help the children that you have trusted me to raise."

Welcome to Holland, and it is beautiful!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Family Home Evening: Revelation

Revelation: Knowing for yourself if something is true.
The ability to pray and ask if it is true.

Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the Church as a whole. When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet. Prophets are the only people who can receive revelation for the Church, but they are not the only people who can receive revelation. According to our faithfulness, we can receive revelation to help us with our specific personal needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help us strengthen our testimony.
Articles of Faith 5-7
5 We believe that a man must be acalled of God, by bprophecy, and by the laying on of chands by those who are in dauthority, to epreach the Gospel and administer in the fordinances thereof.
6 We believe in the same aorganization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, bprophets, cpastors, dteachers, eevangelists, and so forth.
7 We believe in the agift of btongues, cprophecy, drevelation, evisions, fhealing, ginterpretation of tongues, and so forth.

Hannah closed the lesson by playing her flute for the family.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bigger family

Nathan and I have always wanted to have a big family, even before we got married we talked about how having a lot of kids. He came from a family with seven kids and in the end I came from a family of four kids. We both love our siblings to pieces and cannot imagine a holiday or summer vacation without all the fun that siblings means. When we got pregnant with Hannah shortly after getting married we thought we were off to a great start! Fast forward eight years and no siblings for Hannah we decided that we were stable enough to start the adoption process, two weeks later, we were pregnant with twins. Funny how things work. Now the twins are about to turn three and we want more and I don't want to wait another eight years. We just became licensed foster parents. Why?
  1. We want a bigger family.
  2. We want a child that is closer to Hannah's age-or as Nathan says "fill in the gaps."
  3. We want to help kids.
  4. We can't sit and say that the most ideal place for children to be raised is within a two parent family that consists of a mom and a dad, and not be willing to help kids that don't have that opportunity.
  5. We want to adopt and we can't afford the $20k per child for private adoption.
So I know the questions that people have about this topic, so I will just answer few:
Is foster care and adoption safe?
Yes, we get to decide what we can handle as a family. We have decided that we cannot handle children that have safety issues such as cruelty to animals and others, sexual re-activeness, and violence. Plus we are teaching our children, all of them about modesty, the sacredness of our bodies, and safe boundaries.
Can you handle more kids?
Yes, we both know that more kids means more work, more trips to the doctor, visitation with birth parents, but sleepless nights. We also know that it means more hugs, more laughs, more tears, more band-aids, more groceries, and more love.
What is the thing you are most afraid of?
We are not afraid of what the kids bring to the table as far as behavior and disabilities, we have already had plenty of challenges with our birth children. Our greatest fear is getting attached to a child that becomes a part of the family and then having to let them go back to their birth family because everything is safe there. (Foster care lasts anywhere from 8-12 months in the state of Utah and then the child either returns to birth family, if it is safe, or becomes adoptable) But letting go is also a lesson, even our own birth children are not really ours, we are really raising them for a Father in heaven. They will always be a part of us and our families can be together forever, but we may not have them for long here in this life. Anyone who has had a miscarriage or a stillborn baby or has lost a child learns this lesson. But if a child gets to go back to their birth family that means that a family is doing better and overcome a huge challenge. That is also a victory.
Aren't you afraid of how this will impact your other kids?
No, because all changes in life, including siblings, affect us. We believe that having more siblings is good for our kids. Yes there will be bumps but there will also be awesome times too.

One of the foster care billboards in Utah says "Become a branch in someone else' family tree." This is what we want as couple and as a family. We haven't come to this decision lightly, it has been many years and countless hours of training and preparation. We are grateful for this opportunity.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Amelia Earhart is Found!


Thursday night Hannah's school will be presenting the 5th grade Wax Museum of American Heroes. Hannah chose Amelia Earhart and has done a wonderful job preparing. I wish I could post outtakes, but a picture will have to do. She is super cute, (and yes I know how creepy it is that she is my clone.) It brings back memories for me too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Family Home Evening: Heroes



(One thing that we regularly do each week is have one night set aside to spend time together as a family at home. We may play a game together, rake leaves, go to the zoo, but we always have a short lesson about a timely topic. We have had lessons on honesty, tithing, honoring your father and mother, etc. I am going to start putting my lessons on the blog so I can remember what we have taught about and go back and re-use a lesson if I need too.)

This week's lesson: Heroes


Hannah has been working on a big school project all about American Heroes. She picked Amelia Earhart to present to the school for the 5th grade live Wax Museum. With Halloween just behind us I thought that it would be a good idea to look at what it means to be a hero, and what does being a hero have to do with being faithful and as the scriptures say 'stand as a witness of God at all times. (Mosiah 18:9)?

hero

1. a person distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, fortitude, etc.

2. a person who is idealized for possessing superior qualities in any field

Standing as a witness of God involves both who we are and what we do. In order to be a witness of the Savior, we must strive to be like Him. This means setting a Christlike example for others through the clothes we wear, the words we speak, the music we listen to, the service we give, and the friends we make.

Take advantage of every opportunity to share your testimony of the gospel with others. Your beliefs may sometimes be questioned or challenged, but you can stand as a witness when you defend your testimony. You can also stand as a witness when you withstand temptation. You can ask Heavenly Father to help you have the courage to stand up for what you believe.

Standing as a witness of God will give you confidence and power because it means you are living as the Savior would have you live. If you are striving to be a witness of God, stand tall and remember that the Lord has promised eternal life to those who faithfully witness of Him (see Mosiah 18:9).
So I guess I am blogging again... I have lots to put up here, like that we moved to a new bigger house, that we are licensed foster parents now, and we are planning on adopting. I know it is like a big wildfire all the things I need to update people on. I will get to it all eventually. Honestly I thought no one was even reading this blog anymore and then today I see that there were comments, and people had visited. So I will try to be a little more entertaining and also add pictures.

Things I am working on this week:
  • FHE (family home evening) lesson: What is a HERO and what does it mean to 'stand as a witness of God at all times' (Mosiah 18:9)?
  • Hannah's Amelia Earhart costume for the 5th grade Wax Museum.
  • Handmade and Heartfelt Christmas gifts for all of my nieces and nephews. (We have 12 ranging in age from 2-14, so it is a challenge, but I have a killer idea!) Also gifts for our parents, also a pretty cool set of ideas.
  • Planning the Thanksgiving menu: We have 16 confirmed(including us) and a possible 5 more coming for dinner and I am so excited!
  • Put out Thanksgiving and fall decorations.
  • Start 25 days of gratitude journal.

Good Riddins' Halloween!



As much as I loved Trick-or-treating as a kid or love getting our 3 girls dressed up in cute little costumes, I really don't like what Halloween has become. The other day we were looking for a costume ideas for Nathan(for work) and we stopped at the Halloween City in a neighboring city. It is one of those Halloween places that is only open for like a month and a half, that takes over an abandoned Kmart or Circuit City building. We were really blown away by the costumes that were there. We had checked out the local Walmart and were a little disappointed in racey nature of everything, since when are Little Bo Peep or Alice in Wonderland sexy characters? What we saw at Walmart paled in comparison to the trash at this Halloween City, we left feeling gross, like we had just been tricked into walking through an Adult Bookstore-GROSS! If someone wants to dress up like a nurse/stripper, whatever that is their choice, but there was a costume that was basically an orange prison jumpsuit with a fly and a realistic looking plastic phallic. There was also a human breathalyzer with a blow here reference. It wasn't in a back room or in a clearly marked adult section, it was right there by the Where's Waldo costumes. People had their kids with them trying to find the latest princess or Star Wars dark lord. Kids don't need to see that trash and for that matter neither do adults. What happened to ghosts and cute goblins? I remember dressing up with my "step-twin" sister when we kids as cute little witches and our mom had made us little capes. Sometimes I really long for a simpler time when little girls costumes didn't include little garter belts. I am just grateful for the Thanksgiving season to finally be here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Perspective

I haven't blogged in over a year, partly because I have been busy, very busy raising three beautiful girls, partly because I remember being taught "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." There have been times this year where I haven't really had much of of anything good to say, not because there was no good going on, but because I was too busy murmuring and whining about the crumby things that I couldn't see the good. Looking back, there was plenty to be grateful for then and is now.
Today while trying to get the twins to settle down and take a nap, I heard a really strange sound coming from their bedroom. I go upstairs to see them swinging in the handmade wooden cradle that we keep in their room. It holds their baby dolls and little stuffed animals. It was constructed by my dad just before Hannah was born. The cradle is custom, so my mom, Deb, had to sew a special sized mattress and a special cover for it. Before I could get too mad about their shenanigans I was reminded of how they both used to be able to lay down feet-to-feet and sleep in the cradle in the first few weeks home from the NICU so they could be close to our bed at night. It is hard to believe that in less than 2 months they will turn three. While days when they won't take a nap get to be very tough because they turn into little beasts by 4pm, I do have a lot to be grateful for...Sweet babies, loving grandparents, lots of loving family, and good memories.
Another perspective that I have gained in the last few days happened while helping Hannah with homework. It was obvious that she hadn't put much effort into the book report that is due on Wednesday and before I could stop myself I said words that I heard my Dad say to me when he helped me with homework--"if you would just apply yourself..."
So things have gone full circle, the cradle that once held Hannah as a baby and Sara Emma so tiny and new, is now a swing for avoiding nap time and I have become my dad. (Which isn't such a bad thing--the dad part, not the swing!) Things have changed and things have stayed the same, it is funny what little perspective will give you.