Adoption is helping my children understand they are loved and valued. It is also about questions and grieving. Easy questions like, "If you die am I entitled to an equal inheritance as my biological siblings? Did you make a distinction in your will between your biological children and your adopted children?" Sometimes the questions are harder to answer, "Why doesn't my birth mom want to have contact with me?" "Why didn't my birth father want me?" "Why does my birth mother only write while my brother's birth mother calls and sends gifts?"
Adoption is about times when there is anger and frustration involved. The questions are impossible for me to answer, and all I can say is, "You are right, I don't know what it's like to be adopted. I don't know why she made the choice she made. I don't know why I couldn't make the same choice. I love you no matter what. I will love you even if decide to walk away and never come back." I try to hold back the tears. I try not to show my heart being ripped from my chest, but the tears fall anyway despite my brain trying to turn them off.
Adoption is about hard days when I try to explain that I will never win the comparison, of their wonderful birth mothers and me. I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be a perfect parent, in fact motherhood is not easy for me. It is something I have to work really hard at, and even then I fail most days. I have to say, "You are seeing me at my worst. You know all my faults. You see my mistakes. You only know the goodness of your biological mother. I will never win or come close if my many faults are pitted against her many amazing virtues." They understand this, and I know they love me, but trying to figure things out can be tough when the answers don't come easily. Adding puberty to the discussion is adding a whole new set elements to the questions.
Adoption is beautiful. Even as tears stream down my face, and my heart is a little broken I would not change a single minute or decision of our lives. As I contemplated why I have not written more about the joys of adoption (most of my adoption posts seem to be about the trials), I realized I have those joys. For me there is not a separation of children. I don't look at my biological children differently from my adopted children (I do look at my boys differently than my girls, but that is a whole different story). They are my children. They each have all the love my heart can give. When I write about their lives and my feelings for them, adoption is part of all that. That is who they are, that is who we are.
Adoption is about those sweet tender moments when you look around the dinner table at everyone talking and laughing and you can't image the world more beautiful than at this exact moment. You understand that the difficult moments are bumps in the road that make precious views all the more sweeter.
Their new favorite game. They tell me it's like homework with all the math they are doing hoping they can get out of their chores.
Five of my nine children in the temple on the same day. I cried. It was Rock's first time to participate in some of the sacred ordinances. Grandpa helped him prepare the family names. I wish you would have seen his face. He beamed, he couldn't help but smile. It was such a beautiful day. So thankful for the opportunity for my children to learn and serve.
An overcrowded end table has so many stories to tell today: Whitney's new wallet, a stack of books waiting to be read, so much of our lives in one little spot.
A hug makes everything better. Even if you are forced into it.
Ellie looks so good on the furniture. Who needs throw pillows when you have a fluffy dog?
The Jello master. He loves jello and has learned to make it on his own because he has a neglectful mother. Jello and I have had years of failed attempts. It's baffling to me because it's such a simple process. When I asked Rock if he just read the directions he said, no he got all this tips and knowledge from Better Homes and Gardens. Love this son of mine.
Saying goodbye to a friend visiting from Italy. It's been wonderful to hear Italian spoken in our home. Final departing gift from came from Grandma. Our guest loved it. Each of the children drew their hand print on the back... "I love you this much" is a childhood favorite. Thanks mom.
I know this is very random, but I was in the church library making copies of the missionary newsletter and suddenly a flood of memories of my grandmother came into my mind. For many years her calling or assignment in the church was to be the librarian. I can't tell you how many hours she spend in this very same room. It was an unexpected moment of love and gratitude for a wonderful woman.
I few pictures before I cleaned off the children't bulletin board. I love the rotation of their art work.
While waiting for his eyes to be checked I learned all about zombie type bugs.... ugh! Rock loves science magazines. A funny note: the glasses I wanted him to choose were quickly dismissed because they made him look like "a stud muffin". I laughed and coaxed, but he would not be swayed.
Tank tried on the first two pairs offered him, chose one and was done. He was not interested in looking at any others. It's so fun to see their different personalities.
A few "tuck tucks" for Ellie. Loaf is such a little mother.
My brothers are always sending funny videos or jokes and this particular morning the girls were laughing. I know they probably won't appreciate the post workout appearance, but I love hearing them laugh.
Our Sabbath day observance is not at all by the book from a puritanically-minded perspective, but I wouldn't have it any other way. This morning the two little guys got dressed for church and then played "house hockey" until they got tired of that, and then they slid on their socks on the hardwood floor. I love hearing their joyous laughter and seeing the looks of pleasure in the eyes of their sisters and mother as they hear that laughter. I have a lot of empathy for and solidarity with little boys, in large part because I "remember" being one. I remember, for instance, my mother giving me some tan pants once to wear for church and telling me not to get grass stains on them. I remember wondering how that was even possible, and the memory of that consideration in my mind is so fresh and clear that I know it was completely genuine--how was it possible? I also remember the feeling of guilt the next Sunday as I ran to the car several minutes after church had ended with two big grass stains on my knees.
The word for Sabbath in Hebrew is a beautiful and profound word. One way of looking at it is as the combination of two shorter words: "return" and "home" both of which are among the more meaningful words in the Hebrew language. The word for "return" has tremendous ancient temple significance as it expresses the journey away from sin through the sacrifice provided upon the altar towards the holy of holies--or the "home" of the temple. The word for "home" is equally as important and is found in so many other words such as Bethlehem, in which it is the first syllable in this word that means "house of bread". The word Sabbath, the Sabbath day, and all the other symbolic manifestations of the Sabbath such as the completion of the creation, and the Sabbatical and Jubilee years highlight the ancient temple message, which is that the ultimate purpose of life is to turn towards God, leave the world, and return home to Him. The Sabbath is a weekly opportunity to do that to the extent we are able spiritually and further to prepare ourselves eventually to return into God's presence.
In this way the home is central to our purpose in life, and should be a place of refuge, refreshment, reconciliation, support, and love. And again, I feel no contradiction between this purpose and the craziness that often exists in our home. In the midst of that craziness we pray, we read scriptures, we talk, and we love each other, all in a way together with the fun that will hopefully provide a foundation that the children will rely upon when the world is difficult, will want to return to, and that they will want to create for themselves.
"Let us remember, too, that greatness is not always a matter of the scale of one's life, but of the quality of one's life. True greatness is not always tied to the scope of our tasks, but to the quality of how we carry out our tasks whatever they are. In that attitude, let us give our time, ourselves, and our talents to the things that really matter now, things which will still matter a thousand years from now."
(President Spencer W. Kimball, "A Gift of Gratitude", Liahona, Dec 1977)
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Our annual gratitude poster is being filled in and I find new surprises each day. I love to see the things the children include as they walk by the poster.
This is our 5th year and it is so fun to look back and see how something so simple has becoming so meaningful.
2012 (only one little photo in the middle of the post, although looking at the Monday Menagerie was fun.)
I wish I had a photo of each of the children writing something, but I have only caught a few and I don't want to force anyone to sit for a picture.
I adore the sassy comments on the post!
I that Ellie is a common thing for most of the children to be grateful for. Fred's friends that came over the other night even included their dogs on our poster.
When we started these posters I knew just where I wanted them in the piano room. I envisioned the walls covered with this wonderful memories, but the reality is there isn't enough wall space for all our posters. So this year I decided that I would create a huge family gratitude book.
I created a simple cover and then laminated all the pages together. You might also notice the part where Ellie chewed up the top. I just had to shrug and laugh thinking about how perfect this imperfection is as a representation of our family.
It was fun to look back and see the different things we were grateful for. The blessings that appear every year and the small personal things that affected us that year.
I nearly burned through one of the posters as I made a crucial error with the laminating machine, but even that burned line adds to the joy of what this book will become. In years to come this will be something my grandchild will add to and what a treasure our first pages will be. I can see them giggling at their parents handwriting, asking about the silly things they wrote. So thankful for an opportunity to express gratitude.
One a side note..... new gratitude lists coming tomorrow.
I have been in a lot of hotel rooms lately travelling for business, and one of the things I have noticed in the past couple of years is that often I feel the need to take down the artwork in my room. I never faced this situation in the past because I never found pornographic artwork on the walls in hotel rooms. These days there are even painted nude women on the streets of New York City. The world is changing quickly. I have begun taking a number of TSA approved tools in my overnight bag to deal with the artwork because sometimes the brackets are unwieldy without tools. A couple of weeks ago it was not just the typical issue, but in addition a painting of a woman looking through the crook of her elbow, giving me the evil eye--it was a truly creepy painting.
Last week I had a room on the other extreme. Due to all the handrails in the bathroom and the padded bench in the shower I imagine this hotel was converted from an elderly care facility or a hospice center. I liked it a lot.
Then, this last Friday I went high up into the mountains with Tank and Rock--well not too high; it was reminiscent of "Nacho Libre": "Nacho, we saw you from the village." We followed the scout leader and turned off the paved road a few blocks above our house onto a dirt road, and 30 seconds later we parked. We could see our house clearly from our campsite. Despite not being too far from civilization it was beautiful, and it is wonderful to smell clean air and listen to the crickets. I took a few pictures of the sunset, which was so much better than anything I have seen in a hotel room lately.
LOOK at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
Gerard Manley Hopkins
“Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief. We have seen our beaches, our parks, our forests littered with ugly refuse by those who evidently have no appreciation for their beauty.I have driven through thousands of acres of blackened land scourged by a fire evidently set by a careless smoker whose only concern had been the selfish pleasure gained from a cigarette. Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil. Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride.”
The pumpkins that never became jack-o-lanterns. The Halloween season got away from us this year, but they did become some delicious treats.
You know Ellie misses the kids when she resorts to snuggling with their shoes. Clearly I am not that much fun.
Oldest two and youngest two. Melts my heart. There is always snuggling in my bed and I often complain about having to make my bed several times a day, but it's impossible to complain when this is why.
Loaf loves to get herself ready for school and she comes up with some interesting outfits. At least each item has some pink in it.
Two of my lunch dates. I love this new time in my life when I can run into town and eat lunch with my girls or friends.
So close. In just one year he has grown at least 5 inches.... Tank is growing faster and faster each year.
Fred helped run errand with her spurs on. She forgot to take them off and I loved hearing them clink as we walked. It was driving her crazy that I kept calling them stirrups. Silly mom.
I guess one pumpkin did get carved. Gus needed to take a jack-o-lantern to our community pumpkin walk. She volunteers with the city and helps out with these types of events.
The boys were so insulted that I glittered our Halloween decorations. "Everything is girlie" they complained. I just ignored them. I have never been a fan of glitter, but I have certainly enjoyed the Halloween decor more this year.
I spray painted and glittered all our plastic jack-o-lanterns late in the month. I am so thrilled to be able to use them throughout the house next year as they will match the decor of the rooms and add a festive touch for the season.
The children did love to go into the office at night with the jack-o-lanterns glowing and sit and look at them. A couple of times I would catch them telling each other scary stories.
Dash and Brick love to participate in family scripture study. I love listening to them as they sound out the words in the scriptures.
Loaf refused to go to bed. She said she was not tired and 30 seconds later she was sound asleep.
How did by tiny 5 pound baby grow up so fast? Huge changes happening right now in his life and I teared up as John talked about taking him to priesthood on Sunday. They went fishing and found a fun little cave. We live in such a wonderful place.