Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love Is All You Need

There are many days when I question my parenting skills. Wondering if what I am teaching my children is sinking in. Then the Lord has His way of answering me and I am comforted by His tender mercies. A few of these tender mercies happened even this past week. They're small but big enough to remind me that I am doing something right. The first stories happened between Beck and Kate. I had asked Beck to do me a favor. I kindly asked, "Beck will you do me a favor and help me with something?" I gave no explanation as to what I needed him to do and I was hoping that he would just say yes, but he actually said no. So I asked Kate the same question and she willingly said yes. After she had picked up the bowls and lids that Sara had thrown on the floor because the child lock was not on the cabinet, I praised her and offered her a piece of gum. (Gum is a huge incentive in our home.) When Beck heard that she got rewarded for her willingness to help, he got upset and told me that had he known gum was involved he would have said yes. I told him that we should do things because we want to help, not because there is a reward. He stormed off crying stating that it wasn't fair. Kate was obviously pleased and couldn't wait until I gave her the gum. While I was handing it to her she said with a smile, "Can I actually have 2 pieces?" I was happy to give her 2 and soon after she walked into the room where Beck was sitting, still crying, and gave him her 2nd piece of gum. Then a couple of days later I looked out the window to check on the kids and I see Beck helping Kate tie the sash to her dress that had become untied.




The next story involved Cole and Beck. Back in February Cole got tickets for his birthday to see OneRepublic in concert. We had purchased 4 lawn seat tickets so told Cole that he could invite anyone he wanted to. He had a few friends in mind but hadn't made any decisions. The concert was fast approaching and I had asked Cole on several occasions if he had decided who he was going to take. Finally with only a few days left I asked him again and to my surprise he said "Beck". As you can imagine Beck was thrilled and on Saturday, Mark and I and Cole and Beck went to see OneRepublic in concert along with American Authors and The Script. It was a great concert, great night, great fun!! ( I kept asking Beck if he was enjoying his first concert and he kept reminding me that this wasn't his first, WWE Raw was. In fact he said he liked watching wrestling more than the concert.) 





The last stories involve Liam and Sara. Ever since we brought Sara home, Liam has had typical sibling rivalry issues with her. He didn't watch my belly grow or have time to prepare for a new baby. And he was too young to understand that we were adopting. All he knew was one day he was the baby one day he wasn't. Some little girl just showed up and rocked his world. I am constantly telling him "Just let her be!" "Just leave her alone!" He seriously cannot handle when anyone takes notice of Sara or holds her. If she is crying because of him, he is right there pretending to cry to and asking me to "Hold you." He gets jealous of her and is always stealing her thunder. Now with that said, I have witnessed moments of him loving her so I know he does, and this past week he showed me again. Sara was trying really hard to get on the trampoline using the stool below her, but kept falling because she had the stool too close. I waited to see if she would figure it out and move it further away. In the meantime Liam, who was already jumping, came to her aide and tried to pull her onto the tramp. He got off to help her with the stool but by then, she had already figured it out. But at least he made the effort. Then the other night Liam brought me an ice cream bar so I could unwrap it for him. Of course after seeing he had one Sara wanted one too. I had just cleaned her and her chair up from dinner and did not want another sticky chocolate mess to clean up so I told her no. Liam didn't like to see Sara upset so he went to the freezer and got one for her. He handed it to me and said "Sara want ice cream." How could I resist, so they both enjoyed their ice cream bars together. And then just tonight, they were both sitting on one of our recliners watching the iPad. Liam was actually letting her watch it which is rare, he usually turns it away, and then all of the sudden he puts his arm around her neck and gives her a kiss and she kisses him back. (Open mouth of course, but we wouldn't expect anything less from Sara.)






So you see these small but mighty mercies showed me that my kids do love each other and they do care. Kate was able to cheer her brother up by sharing a piece of gum that she had earned. Beck stopped rollerblading for a moment to help Kate with her dress. Cole chose his little brother to go with him to the concert instead of a friend. Liam saw Sara struggling and helped her on the trampoline, he was empathetic and wanted her to enjoy an ice cream bar too, then sealed his love with a kiss. 

We may not be perfect but we have perfect moments of love!! And just like the wind, these perfect moments carry me through this season of my life. These perfect moments give me glimmers of hope that my children are going to be alright and that what I am teaching them is sinking in. My children are loved and they do love one another and that is enough for me.  After all, all you need is love!! Love is all you need!

Friday, March 21, 2014

3/21, Three Twenty One, March 21st



Today is 3/21, World Down syndrome Day. 3/21 represents the triple copy of the 21st chromosome that occurs with Ds. We always knew there was something extra special about Sara when we first saw her picture. Now we know why!! She is extraordinary and is rockin' her extra chromosome. Our lives rock having her in it! We are members of an elite club that brings so much joy and love into our lives!

One of the campaigns that supports World Down syndrome Day is "Rock Your Socks!" To show your support you can wear crazy socks today, tomorrow or even the next day and when someone asks you about your socks you reply, "Someone I know or love has Down syndrome." All of my kids wore crazy socks to school today! My teenager even gave a shout out to his fiends last night via Instagram, asking them to wear crazy socks and I have already had one mom tell me that her son wore them! It makes me so happy to know that we have the support of our friends and neighbors! It was so cute because Kate, although she wanted to support the idea, she was nervous to wear crazy socks because she has a hard time saying "syndrome". She says "Down sisom". She practiced many times before she left this morning and was pretty confident that she could pronounce it correctly if people asked.

Pretty darn cute, 3 chromosomes made out socks! The socks represent that even though they are different, they serve the same purpose.


Kate and Beck sporting their crazy socks and Ds Buddy Walk shirts. Cole had already left for school but was sporting bright pink ones with sparkly snowflakes.

I love how my kids love Sara! Just yesterday Kate said, "I love Sara so much. She is my best sister!" She and Beck still say, "I forget Sara has Down syndrome sometimes." It's because they see her as a lovely little girl who is just part of their gang! She fits in and is no different than them. I love that Cole, anytime there is a reason to support Ds is posting things for his friends to see. Just the other day when it was "Spread the Word to End the Word" Cole posted the cutest pic of Sara, asking his friends to stop using the words "retard" or "retarded". He had several friends who made the pledge to stop. We are pretty blessed and lucky to have Sara in our lives! She is teaching us and others so much, especially how to love and accept. 

This afternoon my friend Kecia and I are going into Beck, Bree, and Mia's 1st grade class to give a small presentation on Ds. Bree is Kecia's biological daughter born with Ds. I refer to her as the gardener in Sara's garden. Throughout our adoption process I compared Sara to a flower who is ready to blossom and bloom. Mia is Kecia's daughter who was also adopted from Ukraine. And it was during their journey to get her that I knew it was something we could, should and would do. So Mia is the one who planted the seed. Sara is the blooming flower and Bree is the master gardener who cares for them all. Anyway, we're going to show a video, talk a little bit about Ds and explain to the children that Bree, Mia, and Sara are "Just Like You". And then leave them with a treat (Hi-Chew) so they will remember to "chews" to love and accept everyone for who they are. Please take a moment to watch this video too! It will be worth 14 minutes of your time, I promise!




This last picture is a collage of many of the beautiful traits and qualities that I LOVE about Sara. Many of these traits are unique to people with Ds. It's part of the Ds package and what a beautiful package it is!




The first is her little hands. People usually have 3 creases in their palm. Most people with Ds have a simian crease, which is a single line that runs across the palm of the hand. Although Sara does have two separate creases, they come together to make one crease and the third crease is non existent. (But did you know that people without Ds can also have a simian crease? In fact Mark does!) 

I LOVE Sara's piggies!! She has a big gap called a "sandal gap" between her big and second toe. It's just a big space between her toes and occurs in approximately 45% of those with Ds. We love and call them her monkey toes/feet and it is very fitting because she climbs and plays like a little monkey! 

I adore Sara's flat bridge between her nose, her low set, little ears with a tiny fold and her silly tongue that sometimes protrudes! All very common with Ds.

I love that Sara is always dancing as if no one is watching! She can wiggle and move, twerk and groove and can sometimes even do the worm! She hears music and can't help herself! It doesn't matter who is watching and she is never embarrassed to shake it! Little did the Pointer Sisters know that they wrote the song "I'm So Excited" just for Sara. "I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!" 

Sara is super flexible. She falls asleep leaning forward, bent in half. She can touch her toes from standing up without bending her knees. She can put her foot in her mouth and it's almost 98% guaranteed that she will eat with her foot resting on her tray. She is Miss Stretch for sure!

Sara loves without end! She loves to give cuddles! She'll back right into your lap and snuggle. And she gives the best kisses ever! We always get a little extra (wet, sloppy and open mouth). Must be the extra chromosome!

Hey eyes, oh her eyes, how they sparkle and shine! She has blushfield spots which are unique to those with Ds. They are white spots or speckles on the Iris of the eye. They make her baby blues have a marble/starry affect. Her eyes are also almond shape meaning that the outer corner of her eyes turn up instead of down. And she has an extra fold of skin on the inner corner of her eyes. All of these traits make her peepers simply stunning! 

When Sara is resting and taking a break she has a unique way to sit. She sits criss cross applesauce with her head titled up. I used to think that it was because she couldn't see but since her eye surgery, her vision is perfect! It's just a Saraism and I love it! 

The middle picture is my absolute favorite and if defines exactly who Sara is! Sara is happy and full of life! She doesn't care when she has crazy, bed head or a messy face! She doesn't care about what she's wearing or how she acts. She is true and genuine and has a zest for life.  (Yes she does cry too, it's not true that people with Ds are always happy.) But she lives each day knowing that she is a light that was once hidden and can now shine! Her smile brightens our days! Her giggle is contagious! Her spirit radiates love! Everything about her is near perfection! Her mission on this earth is to love and be loved and I'm pretty sure she is right on track! 

3/21, World Down syndrome Day is a day to raise awareness about Ds and gives us an opportunity to teach acceptance and love. Please understand that people with Ds are more alike than they are different. Sara is just like you with an extra pinch of sugar! And believe me, she is pretty sweet!! 




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To Thirteen and Beyond!!

How do I even begin to express in words how happy I was on this day 13 years ago? I think I would do a better job singing my sentiments but I'll save that performance for the shower. Something extraordinary happened that changed me/my life forever. This life changing event was planned, wanted, anticipated and hoped for. Every ounce of my heart and soul was filled with a desire to become a mother and on this day 13 years ago my little man Cole made it so. At 10:38 PM on February 26, 2001 my firstborn son made his debut. And although I may have given him life, he truly gave me my life's purpose. He fulfilled a desire that has always been in my heart since I was a young girl. My little man gave me my first gift of motherhood.


I often say that Heavenly Father knew I needed Cole and I am so grateful he is my oldest. I am able to do many things and enjoy my life because of him. As a family we are able to function with him in it. He is wise beyond his years and truly one of my best friends! I can't help but tear up when I think of Cole and all that he has become. He is a remarkable, responsible, smart, spiritual, funny, caring, kind, helpful, compassionate, tolerant, considerate, handsome, loving young man. I am not sure how or why I was chosen to be his mother but a day doesn't go by that I don't thank my Heavenly Father for trusting me to be his keeper. He is helping me become and I have enjoyed mostly every moment, every lesson he has taught me over the years.

Motherhood isn't easy and it's not meant to be. Like I tell all of my children, "Hard work is good! Anything that is valuable and of worth requires hard work." Are there some days when the oil in my lamp is low and my light is dim? YES! Are there times when I simply feel like I can't be the mother that I should be? ALWAYS! But each day I am given opportunities to increase my light and most of these opportunities come from my children. Each of my children hold a special and different place in my heart and they are all my favorites but there is something to be said about the bond I have with Cole being my first. Maybe it's because he unlocked the door to what this life is all about and taught me to love unconditionally. Or maybe it's because he fills my lamp when it's burned out and literally brightens my life with a smile or witty comment. All I know is that he is amazing and he is mine and if I could be guaranteed to have another like him I would get pregnant yesterday.

There really are no words to describe or songs to sing to tell Cole how much he means to me. No amount of tears can show him how much I love him and believe me, I have shed many, many tears this week alone in anticipation of him turning 13. I am grateful to be his mother. I am grateful that my first gift of motherhood was packaged and wrapped up so beautifully in Cole. His gift prepared me and my heart for the many other gifts I have been blessed with. I guess from the beginning becoming a mother was hard work after 36 hours of natural labor but he is most definitely valuable and of worth. And so is motherhood. It has it's challenges and requires daily labor but I have no choice other than to keep on truckin and do it because hard work is good and I can do hard things!

I wanted to make a video of photos for Cole since the days of printing pics and photo albums are gone. I wanted to give him something that he can watch, cherish, and share with his posterity. It was very hard to wrap up the last 13 years in one video but after 300 pictures (many that needed to be scanned because they were pre digital), 6 of his favorite songs, 50 plus hours of work, and a 19:51 minute masterpiece, I did it. One thing that stood out over and over as I looked through hundreds of pics was his genuine zest for life. I was also reminded over and over the love that he has for Spiderman his siblings. He is such a tender boy and wears his oldest shoes very well. Not only am I a lucky mama but his dad, brothers and sisters are lucky too!  If you have an extra 19 minutes to spare you can catch a glimpse of his life. I KNOW it's long and honestly I don't expect many to watch it except his grandparents and family in the UK. But if you endure the 19:51 minute video I promise it will make you smile and brighten your day. (Can you imagine how long the next one will be when he turns 18?) COLE, you're a TEENAGER! Eeeeeeek and Ugh!! I am a mother of a teenager!! Not sure I'm ready for this and never thought I'd see the day but I will embrace it and enjoy the ride! Happy Birthday bud!! Thanks for giving me my best job ever! And even though you're taller than me you will always be my little man! I love you lots and lots! To thirteen and beyond!


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Abandoned But Not Forgotten





Dear Sean,


It's New Year's Eve today! Many people will be ringing in the new year with celebrations. I wish that I could be celebrating that you have a family coming for you or that I reached the goal of raising $1000 for you but I can't. I am so sorry that another year has passed and you are still waiting and I am sorry that your Angel Tree account sits at $513. We're half way there and I am hoping that when others read this they will help and donate just a little bit to help me reach your goal. More importantly I want you to know that I will continue to share your picture, your story in hopes that your mommy and daddy will see it and will be led to you. You are a child of a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of you and loves you. Although it may seem that you have been forgotten you haven't. Your mommy and daddy's heart is just being prepared and soon they will look into your eyes and say "He's the one." 

This past month you would have celebrated your 5th birthday! Happy birthday little man! I hope that the orphanage did something really nice for you. I have a daughter who just turned 5 this year too. She just started Kindergarten and is loving it! I am hoping that your family finds you soon so that you can attend Kindergarten this coming fall as I am sure you will love it too! I cannot believe how big you are getting! When I fist saw your picture a couple of years ago it was a picture of when you were a baby. Now you are tall and skinny! Too skinny if you ask me but I am sure your nanny's are doing their best to help you grow. I promise that when your family finds you and you are home, you will grow even bigger and stronger. I know you probably wonder why? Why has no one come for me yet? Why do I get overlooked? Why have I waited so long? I too Sean have the same questions. And I don't know why. What I do know is that the Lord's timing is perfect and one day very soon, you will not have to ask that question again. Like I said, your mommy and daddy's hearts are just being prepared. It's amazing how it all works out but when they see your face, they will know! 

I can tell you this because of personal experience. I saw many, many faces on Reece's Rainbow and knew every one's name. You could say I was a Reece's Rainbow stalker! Every child listed was beautiful and worthy of a family. There were even a few who really touched my heart. But when I saw "Susan's" picture I just knew she was the one! There was something familiar and different about her. And now that she is home and part of our family, there is no doubt that she was meant to be. So I know that your family is out there and I promise I will do my part to help them see you!

"Susan" is now Sara and she has been home for over a year. It was an incredible experience and journey to bring her home. It was a 5 month process start to finish. We spent 40 days in her country and we are grateful that we were able to learn more about her culture. You live in a beautiful country and I am envious of your family who will get to experience it's beauty! It will be a long, emotional, costly journey for them, but it will be worth every day, tear, and dollar. I promise you Sean, although you were abandoned by the riverside you are not forgotten. Love is an amazing thing and it will carry you until your mommy and daddy can wrap their arms around you and whisper into your ear "You are loved, cherished and chosen!" I look forward to that day and can't wait to follow your journey home! Happy New Year Sean!!

With love,hugs and kisses,
Jodi
                                                                                                

Please donate to Sean today! Help me reach his goal of $1000. I just need 25 people to donate $20 today! I don't have any incentives or giveaways to motivate you. I don't have a free trip or iPad to offer but what I do have is a little boy who is deserving of this money. Please click on the link below and help ring in the new year knowing you made a difference! Thank you so much! I will never stop advocating for these children so I appreciate those who support my efforts! Every child deserves the blessing of a family! Every child!! 

Click here to donate.


Here is Sean's current picture on Reece's Rainbow.
Look at his precious face.
Are you his mommy or daddy?


Taken from his profile with Reece's Rainbow. 


From a missionary who visited with him in August of 2010. "Sean was found abandoned by the riverside at the age of 4 months. Sean is doing super and is well loved by his nannies!"

Update from 2012:
After his rehabilitation we feel his physical development is very good, he can clearly call father and mother, can sit alone, stand alone, can walk with holding something. He can not walk alone steadily, can feed himself snacks without help, good appetite, likes playing with other children sitting on the floor, occasionally he will challenge his favorite toys with other children. He is very favorable, and we hope him can find a family sooner to have parents to love him to live happier life.


More photos available, along with full social history and medical records.

Single moms permitted, only one parent has to travel.

Currently Sean has $4702.50 in his account.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas from our family to yours!

May you and yours enjoy everything this season brings especially the peace and love from our Savior! 

He is the reason for this celebration! 




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanks Birthday!!

I have so much to be thankful for on this day of gratitude. I have been blessed beyond measure and today one of my blessings turns 2! Sara Lily is 2!! It's hard to believe that Sara has been home for over a year now and that my baby is no longer a baby. When we first committed to adopt Sara our goal was to have her home before her first birthday. We did it! Although it wasn't quite the grandiose celebration I had envisioned in my mind we were at least able to be by her side to celebrate her first year of life! (She had croup last year and was not well enough to have the "grand" party I had hoped for.) Today I am grateful that we can celebrate her life once again, her journey and the pure joy she has brought to our family. And this time she will be surrounded by many who love her and she will get the "grand" party that she deserves. Complete with a "grand" meal and tasty treats! (Sure wish her birthday would fall on Thanksgiving every year. It sure makes it easy to plan!)

This past year Sara has learned so much and has really become. She no longer curls up in rolly polly mode when Liam approaches her. She no longer clasps her hands in fear and for comfort. She no longer stares at her hands out of habit because that was one of the few things she had to look at when she was lying in a crib in the orphanage. She makes eye contact. She babbles, signs, laughs, cries for attention. She's walking and has been for almost 2 months. She holds her own now when Liam attacks her. She and Liam laugh and play together. She drinks from a straw. She self feeds finger foods and just this week fed herself yogurt from a spoon. She's learning how to drink from a big cup. She has graduated from her crib and is in a big bed. She runs at the mention of food and bath. She can climb out of the bath. She can brush her hair and her teeth. She can climb up on furniture. She can climb our 12 stairs (still working on the coming down part.) She helps when she's getting dressed by putting her hands and arms through the sleeves. She can wear teeny tiny pig tails. (I have said before that she truly belongs in our family because of her slow hair growth.) She can see straight and no longer has googlie eyes. She blows kisses and waves hi and bye! She dances and LOVES it! She is simply amazing and has come a really long way from the first time we met her. Remember, she couldn't even roll over at the age of 10 months. She is one smart cookie! A stubborn, feisty cookie but very sweet 99% of the time.

Time is funny because unless I stop and really take note of all the happenings of a year it really doesn't seem like it has been a year at all. I guess it's because we're all growing up and old together that I don't see the changes until I look at pictures from a year ago then I realize how much has taken place. With Sara too, it just feels like she has always been a part of our lives so unless I stop and remind myself that we spent 4 months paper chasing and fundraising, traveled over 6000 miles to rescue her, spent 40 days in her country, and brought her home at the age of 11 months, I forget that we've ever been apart.

Today is a special day! It is a day of celebration for Sara but it is also a day of Thanksgiving! I am grateful for all of my beautiful children. I am grateful for my husband who loves me for me and is willing to open his heart and love all of his children, even the ones who aren't of his flesh and blood. I am grateful for the gift of adoption! I am grateful for 2 women who gave birth to 2 of my children and allowed me to be their mom. I am grateful that my heart allows me to love and that I am able to live the life that I could have only dreamed of!! I am grateful to my Lord and Savior who has made all of this possible. Happy Thanks Birthday!!



Sneak peek of our family pics taken October 2013 in Midway Utah.