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,

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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Greatest Show On Earth

I have said many times that life is like a circus. By definition a circus is a traveling company of acrobats, trained animals, and clowns that give performances. So minus the traveling part, my life is definitely a circus. I no doubt have a 5 ring circus including acrobats (Liam), trained animals (all 5), and clowns (Beck). My husband and I often say that we're raising a bunch of animals so it all makes sense. I am the lion tamer and my brood are my cubs! For the most part my job and circus is entertaining and enjoyable but some days it's very disappointing. Most days I have my lions under control but other days I am one step closer to being mauled. This past week was one of those "Heaven Help Me" weeks. Nothing major, traumatic, or serious happened, just the little things that added up and made me ROAR! 

It's the little things like my acrobat constantly climbing, hitting, throwing, chasing everyone with objects in hand ready to chuck it at them. Or him taking off his diaper constantly and peeing all over!! (He's 3, I know he should be potty trained, and I know that him taking his diaper off is a sign he may be ready, but I'm not sure I'm ready. It's almost easier to keep him in a diaper so I can at least contain some of his mess.) Then he undresses several times a day when he hears the shower, bath or running water, then gets in the shower, bath, or running water. (Since he has a feeding tube, I still put a dressing/guaze sponge around his stoma so his skin doesn't get irritated. So every time he actually gets in the bath or shower after he's already been dressed, it means I have to redo his dressing too.) 

It's the older animals who complain when they have to do any sort of job. "But I did the dishwasher yesterday." "Did you use a bowl and spoon for breakfast, a plate and cup for lunch, and a fork for dinner? Then yes I know you just did it yesterday because we use dishes EVERY day." Or when they don't want to clean the play room after a mess they just made. (First of all we have way too many toys so this issue will be resolved when I secretly make a run to the DI with a bag full of toys. It's time for a toy clean out anyway because as Christmas approaches Santa won't bring new toys unless we donate old ones.) But if you make a mess, you clean it up. Or I love it when I am told, "That's not my job, I'm not doing it." "Well when you need a ride to soccer, hockey or dance, I'm not doing it either."

Or the ones who say "I didn't hear you." After I have only said or asked a dozen times.

Or it's the backpacks, jackets, and shoes that get left right in the middle of the floor the minute the kids come in from school when we have hooks right behind the door they just came through to hang their stuff and a shoe basket 50 feet away.

Then there is my clown who is constantly smacking my bum, or teasing the others with a look of "Huh! That wasn't me."

With Halloween just passing, I have picked up more candy wrappers than I can count. It drives me nuts when the kids eat outside the kitchen because they know the table is the only place for food. And I know that we've all been taught to not cry over spilled milk, but after several cups (even sippie cups) of spilled milk, I'm gonna cry!

So you see, a lot of these things are just typical, life with 5 kids stuff, but for some reason last week the accumulation of all these things made me want to quit my job! But the real truth is, I really should have been fired the way I handled these things. I know could have handled these situations a lot better than I did and knowing this made me feel like I was not cut out to be a lion tamer mom. That is the real, underlying reason I was so discouraged. It's not that I am not cut out to be a mom or don't want to be a mom, it's that I am not being the mom that I want to be. I don't want to be a shouty mom who roars back. I want to be calm yet firm, kind yet serious mom. I want to be a more patient mom and want my kids to know I am in charge. I want to have fun but teach hard work too! I just want them to have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T and at the same time give and teach them the respect that they deserve. A few days ago I posted a picture of me on Facebook looking perturbed and mentioned this very thing, that I sometimes feel I am not cut out to be a mom. I didn't post it to get reinforcement that I am a great mom. I wasn't looking for compliments. I just wanted to get a few "Amens" from other moms to know that I am not alone. I got several and I appreciate the support because truly it does make a difference to know that even the best moms can feel like the worst moms. One friend mentioned that as long as my kids feel loved then that's all that matters!

I am pretty sure my kids feel loved and I realize that they're only little and are just testing their boundaries and learning. So I hope that I can set those boundaries and do a better job at reinforcing positive behavior. I too am a work in progress and am still learning how to be the best lion tamer I can be. I have to understand that my days of cleaning up their cages aren't over and won't be for a while. And that when I chose to be a mom of 5 kids, it IS my job and I have to do my best. I have to stick to my word when I say "I am not giving you a ride to soccer." And actually follow through with consequences given. I have to give up the distractions (phone, internet, etc.) when my kids need me and schedule my day more productively so I am not adding more stress. Most importantly I just have to sit back and enjoy the show and have confidence in my little lions. Because even though they are animals, they really are trained. And you know, one day I'm going to miss the sticky handprints on the walls and tripping over shoes and toys. I'm going to miss the screams and cries when they are all grown up and wish that I can drive them to soccer, hockey, or dance one more time. So as annoying as these things are some days, these are the things that make a house a home.

We just had parent teacher conferences this past week and report cards sent home and they all did fantastic. Their teachers and peers commented on how kind and helpful they are so I think they are going to be just fine. Someone once told me that you know you're kids are great kids when they act better away from you than when they are with you. With that said, I know they will be just fine. "Perfection is a road, not a destination." "When you aim for perfection you discover it's a moving target. "I may not be perfect but when I look at my children I know that I got something in my life perfectly right." My life may be a crazy circus but it really is THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sooo Big!!!

Liam received his first of many diplomas today! I can't even remember off the top of my head when Liam started Early Intervention Services, but I know he was just a tiny tot. In the beginning Liam struggled with many health and developmental issues. He struggled with fine and gross motor skills, vision and communication skills and struggled/s with feeding issues. Over time, after many home visit appointments, and with the help of his therapists, he reached most of his milestones. Eventually he met all of the motor skill goals we had set for him and DDI Vantage (our local Early Intervention Service company) stopped coming. After we had brought Sara home and she started services, it was recommended that we have Liam re-evaluated to see if we would once again qualify for services. This time for speech therapy. Before his ear tubes which were placed in March, he was not talking. He did qualify again and had a speech therapist and an OT come out to our home weekly. Eventually he started using words and forming sentences and it was amazing to see him speak of all of the things that were in his mind. Poor little guy wanted to speak, he just couldn't hear so once his ears were clear, his speech was more and more clear too. We knew when DDI picked him up again that it wasn't going to be for very long because once a child turns 3, they no longer qualify for services and are left in the hands of their school district. We had a few meetings with the Early Childhood Center here in Murray to see if he would qualify for pre-school but after many tests they decided that Liam was developing appropriately and he did not qualify. Although I am sure he would have loved pre-school, I was happy to not have another one of my babies leave the nest for school, happy that I didn't have to drive him to school, and happier that he has come so far and is right where he needs to be developmentally. My little man has overcome so much and it makes my heart sing to know that he is right on track! With his 3rd birthday coming up this week, he had his final/exit appointment with his therapists today. It was bittersweet and goodbyes are always hard for me, but I am happy to have had them in our home, helping Liam reach his fullest potential. I am sure we will see them around since Sara will continue to receive services for another year and eventually speech therapy but for now, so long Julie and Sue! My fun-size, full of life, happy, mischievous, terror, but very smart little man graduated! The sky is the limit for this one and I am sure he will continue to soar!! Well done Liam, you are sooo big!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meant To Be

365 days ago we welcomed a baby girl into our home. Our 40 day and 40 night adventure came to an end and our family was complete! Our journey to Sara began on September 1, 2012 and we arrived home on October 10, 2012. Many, many thanks to all of those who supported, prayed for, donated to, and showed love to us during this time! Our mission was successful because of our "village". THANK YOU!

Our Ukrainian Princess is a dream come true. She truly is a gift from God and with the gift of a family she is able to shine! She is singing the songs that she was meant to sing and touching the lives she was meant to touch. Every detail of her life was orchestrated by His hands and I am humbled that we are part of the plan. We are the receivers of this beautiful gift and we are grateful and honored. Sara is perfectly, wonderfully, beautifully meant to be. "It's a meaningful life you've been given so live it well!" Happy anniversary Sara Lily!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gotcha Forever and Ever!

Happy Gotcha Day to our Sara Lily!

On October 8, 2012 Sara left the walls of the 
only place she knew since she was 7 days old. She resided in that place for the first 10 months of her life. 

She had a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and several nannies who tended to her and provided care,
 but no one or nothing she could call her own.

  That was all about to change. 
Her "orphan" clothes were going to be removed and replaced with her very own.

On October 8, 2012 she was taken from that place she had called "home" and into the arms of a mom and a dad who chose her to be a part of their family. 

She finally became the princess that she was destined to be!

She finally had something to smile about because she knew that she was on her way HOME.....

......where should would be loved and cherished forever and ever!!

Sara has blossomed right before our eyes and we are happy to say that she is right where she belongs!

Gotcha Sara! Forever and ever!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today

I am a mother of 5 beautiful children, wife of a charming prince, sister of 2 hilarious brothers, daughter of wonderful parents, friend to many great people, Princess of a Heavenly King. I believe in God, the Eternal Father and in His son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Mormon.

If you have ever wondered about the Mormon Church or want to learn more I invite you to listen to the 183rd Semiannual General Conference that is being held this weekend (Sat. and Sun). There are 5 sessions in total. They are held at 10 am and 2pm MST Sat. and Sun. and the Priesthood Session is held tonight (Sat.) at 6pm. Conference allows members of the church as well as non-members to listen and learn from the leaders of our church. You can visit this link to watch or listen. (If you don't have time to do it now, you can visit that link to read, listen or watch later.) I look forward to this time each year to receive instruction and inspiration from a living prophet and apostles and to hear the Tabernacle Choir sing. The spoken word and music fills my soul with joy and hope and inspires me to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

This time is even more special because my oldest son Cole has the opportunity to sing in the Priesthood Choir for the Priesthood Session tonight. This is a once in a lifetime experience where he will be able to  sit in the same seats that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir usually occupy and sing praises unto the Lord. He along with hundreds of other young men will have the chance to provide the music for this historical session. I say historical because for the first time ever this Priesthood Session will be broadcast around the world for all to see. In the past this session was only available for the men of the church to see, but today it will be shown all over the world. I am thrilled not only because I have the chance to hear and hopefully see Cole (fingers crossed he gets on camera) but our family in England will get a chance to do the same. I was so excited to tell Mark's mum about this opportunity for Cole and although she was thrilled she had really hoped that she could see it. Weeks later my friend posted a link on Facebook with the news that this session would be broadcast. I couldn't wait to share it with our family! Now Cole's grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins will have a chance to hear him.

I had the chance to attend the dress rehearsal on Wednesday and Mark will be able to attend the session tonight held at the Conference Center. Just being at the rehearsal was an awesome experience and my heart was filled with song, literally. I was overwhelmed with the spirit and felt very touched that my son is a part of this wonderful choir! I love music and feel the spirit so strongly when I hear or sing hymns. After one of Cole's choir practices I was talking to him about how I get the chills and feel an overwhelming sense of peace when I sing and he expressed to me with excitement, "Me too!" I am so happy he is able to recognize that feeling and that it comes from the Spirit of God. I live a blessed life and feel blessed that my family and I have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives! I am grateful for all of the opportunities that are given to me and my children because of our church membership. There is sunshine in my soul today!

Wednesday's Priesthood Choir rehearsal in the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
We're hoping to see Cole during the TV broadcast on Sat. night (6 pm). Look for him, he is sitting on the right side of the pulpit, right next to the organ, front row, 4 boys in.
Everyone's crazy about a sharp dressed man!
Cole and his awesome supporters. They enjoyed hearing the boys sing as much as I did.
Cole will be singing with many of his friends! What a great experience for them all. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Just Like You

Happy Fall ya'll and Happy October! I absolutely love this time of year!! I love October even more now because it is National Down syndrome month. In October 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution proclaiming the first "National Down Syndrome Month". This resolution is part of an ongoing national effort to raise awareness about the abilities of people with Down syndrome.

I invite you to take 14 minutes out of your day to watch this video "Just Like You". It does a great job raising awareness about Down syndrome. Sara and others who have Down syndrome are just like you. Watch and you will see! Down syndrome rocks!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Little Beck-A-Roo

Our little Beck-A-Roo is 7!! 

September 23, 2006. On the morning of Beck's birthday I was stepping into our bathtub to open the blinds when I slipped and hit my belly on the tub. It was a pretty big bump and at that moment I thought "I won't be surprised if I go into labor." Sure enough an hour or so later my water broke. I literally popped my belly and there was no other choice but to head to the hospital to have baby #2. I was so nervous!! Although this wasn't my first rodeo it had been 5 1/2 years since I had Cole. The thought of starting over was worrisome and the thought of another 36 hour labor was horrific. I had been told that with each baby labor is usually cut in half but even the thought of 18 hours was frightening. This baby was a surprise so although I was terrified, I was excited to find out, boy or girl?? Secretly I was hoping for another boy but of course it didn't matter. All I knew was that I was LARGE and so was this baby and it was time to rope this bronco. During my pregnancy my doctor even questioned if I was only having one because I was always measuring big. Cole had said at one point, before I was pregnant "Mommy, when you have a baby, you are going to have two." So there were times when I wondered if there were two and if their hearts were just beating as one (my doctor did give me that possibility). But it turned out there was only one, very husky, baby foal boy! I was able to have a natural birth and ONLY labored for 12 hours, not 18, PHEW! And luckily I didn't have to push very long because the force of Beck's big noggin prevailed. Apparently Beck was blue when he entered this world but I had no idea. My sweet husband didn't want me to worry so he kept his game face on, smiling, even though he was worried. Within minutes he was breathing and crying and soon enough all was well. Beck weighed a whopping 8 lbs. 15 oz. He was a brute!! A beautiful, wide eyed, Charlie Brown noggin, brute!

September 23, 2013. His birthday was just another manic Monday for sure. He woke up to his room being covered in toilet paper. He got breakfast in bed, opened gifts and finally got the WWE championship belt that he has always wanted. I also brought him McD's for lunch at school and he got sprayed with silly string as he got off the bus after school. We celebrated that night by going out to dinner at Cafe Rio then for ice cream at Leatherby's. He also had hockey practice in between the festivities. On Friday he had his party with his friends. He had a Movie Night Party where his friends came dressed in their PJ's and watched a movie. We even had a concession stand set up where the kids could buy treats and drinks (with poker chips ha ha, the dollar store was out of fake money). Remind me next year that wild crazy boys and open cans of pop don't mix but thank heaven for hardwood floors and tile. They had a little dance party before the movie which included a Conga line, a pillow-pet pillow fight, then watched Hotel Transylvania. Beck was in his element, having a ball and everyone else had a good time! (He even had a friend who lost a tooth, literally. I had him put it in his popcorn bag and at the end of the night during cleanup it accidentally got thrown away.) Because of it I have a new saying, it's no longer "finding a needle in a haystack" it's "finding a tooth in a popcorn bag." It took a while but we found it. Very exciting stuff!

The moment I saw Beck's face, 7 years ago, I could see that he was going to be my mischievous, cheeky little monkey! My little curious George! He has the biggest brown eyes and always has a look of "Huh?" "What?" "Who me?" Those big browns get him into a lot of mischief but also melts many hearts! Beck was named after my Grandma Joy (my dad's mother). Her maiden name was Beck and we felt that it was a perfect/unique name. He is definitely unique and one of a kind. He lights up any room he enters and lights up our lives! He is always the life of the party and was born ready to have fun! I knew from the size of my belly that this baby was going to be "big". There is nothing little about Beck and we love his "big" head personality! He's a rootin' tootin' barrel of laughs, our little Beck-A-Roo!

September 23, 2006
Would you look at the size of my belly?!?
Look at the size of him! It was like giving birth to a toddler.
Can you see the look of relief? 
Lutkin, party of 4!
"Look into my eyes! I will control you with my eyes!"

From day one Cole was taking his big brother responsibilities very serious. 

Cole's expressions are too cute for words. He was destined to be the best big bro ever! 

""Huh?, What? Who me?"

It's hard not to resist his Junior Mint eyes. They're just too delicious!

September 23, 2013
Breakfast in bed.
So exciting! What is it?
Woo hoo! WWE championship belt. Oh ya!

September 27, 2013
Movie Night Party

The "Lost" Tooth amigo.
Happy 7th Birthday Cheeky Chops!