Saturday, November 13, 2010

World Kindness Day

Today is "World Kindness Day". Everyone is encouraged to do a random act of kindness. How fitting that yesterday I received an anonymous gift card in the mail. :)
It's been a tough financial year for our family and this gift is really appreciated.
So today, I decided to pay it forward. My business made a small donation to Operation Smile, an organization that performs free surgeries on children worldwide who have facial deformities. They are often performed on orphans. Consider making a donation to this wonderful organization, or do some other random act of kindess today!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Together Forever!


On August 28, 2010 we are able to take Lacey to the Salt Lake temple to be sealed to our family forever! It was the perfect day and I feel inadequate at trying to write the words that explain how I feel about that day. My heart took several pictures and I hope I can retain them forever.
Gerry and I were married in the Salt Lake temple and that means that all children I physically bear, are automatically sealed into our family. Because Lacey was adopted she had to be sealed into our family in order to enjoy the same blessings. The boys had the privilege of being able to watch and we let them choose the temple. I love the Salt Lake temple and the rich history that goes with it, so I was delighted that they chose it. When I was choosing a white dress to wear, i couldn't believe the temple had a Mandarin style dress, so of course I had to wear that one.
When the temple workers brought the children into the sealing rooms they looked like angels and we just cried as they looked so beautiful. We had waited for this day for such a long time. As Lacey was set on the alter, she focused her gaze on the officiator and never took her eyes off of him. Her spiritual side seemed to sense the importance of the ceremony. After the ceremony, I had hired a photographer (another adoptive parent) to try and capture the happiness of the day. I think he did a great job! I'm thankful for our friends and family that were able to attend the sealing with us.

As a side note, there was another family there that day that sealed their 8 year old Chinese daughter to them. Made it extra special to visit a bit with them. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What are We Teaching Our Children?

Yesterday I heard something so disturbing to me, that it has stirred the very fibers of my soul. I can't stop thinking about it.
I was at my son's soccer game and some boys (about age 9) and a few girls were playing behind me. One of the boys said, "Let's pretend that we love each other and that we aren't married, but we are living together."
What? Are you kidding me? Whatever happened to kids playing make believe mommy and daddy that are married? Has our society deteriorated to the point that kids have no examples of righteous loving families who make covenants to God to love each other within the bonds of marriage?
I know the majority of the world believes this is perfectly fine and that God's commandments are old fashioned and don't apply to them. But, I want to speak up today and be counted as a woman who still believes in old fashioned values. I want my children to make believe play that they are a mommy and daddy who love each other and have made vows to each other to protect the institution of marriage!
Whew, I feel much better with getting that off my chest! Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miracles Happen... Even Today!

Today I was asked to help out in Primary and give a brief testimony of how God is a God of miracles and how miracles are still brought about today when we have great faith. Wow!

So, it got me thinking about how many miracles have happened in our lives in the past year. How do you sum this up in 10 minutes - actually ended up only leaving me with 5 minutes. I've been pretty humbled just thinking about it.

Most of the miracles have involved Lacey's adoption and I know without a doubt that God planned for her to be our daughter. There's no other way to explain it. When I prayed with incredible faith, I saw doors open and things happen that could never have happened before. And because I am weak, I still had moments of doubt that the adoption might not work out.

I want to share a moment with you today. I've been a bit hesitant to share it because it was such a spiritual moment and I don't take these things lightly. But, today I feel like there are others out there waiting and wishing that they can have a bit of hope, that perhaps their adoption wishes might be fulfilled. I feel like today is the day to pass on the hope....

One day this winter, I believe it was in late February, I was so discouraged and worried that everything would fall through with the adoption. Gerry was working a seasonal job and if the court process didn't finish up soon, we may run the risk of not being able to adopt Lacey. Our paperwork had been in Taiwan since January and we hadn't heard anything. I was so fearful and stressed out.

I couldn't sleep at all. I tossed and turned. Finally I decided to get up and do something else. That something else turned to praying. I poured out my soul to my Father in Heaven. I pleaded and begged. Finally I picked up my scriptures. I opened it up and let the pages fall open. They fell open to Romans and a verse really stood out to me.

Romans 8:15

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

It was just what my soul needed. I had no idea there was a scripture about adoption. To me this scripture was telling me that God was saying "let go of your fear, I put the desire in your heart to adopt, and everything will all work out, have faith."

Everything did work out and we know have our sweet Lacey in our family. Today as I reminisced about all the miracles this last year, I am ever so thankful for a loving Father in Heaven who loves his children - including me and wants us to be happy. And... I'm so thankful to have Lacey. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our Staycation - Camp Hale

We love to visit Camp Hale - just over an hour's drive from our home. Camp Hale is an old WWII army base in the Colorado mountains on the way to Leadville. It was used for the 10th Mountain Division soldiers to train them in winter mountain conditions such as skiing and repelling. It was also a Japanese P.O.W. camp.

We just spend an extended weekend camping at Camp Hale with Gerry's parents. The great thing is that Gerry's mother lived there as a child. She actually lived in Pando - which was across the road from the army base. Her father was a government hired civilian worker that ran heavy equipment. The kids love to hear Grandma's stories of when she lived at Camp Hale. She was around 5 years old when she lived there. The prisoners were low risk and were able to somewhat roam around the camp. They used to make wooden toys for her. Once she walked into her home and a prisoner was asleep on the couch. He woke up and ran out the door. At one point Camp Hale had 14,000 army men there.
Camp Hale was demolished at the end of the war and to save money, they dug some holes and buried army vehicles. There are entire foundations of buildings all over the place and many of the roads still remain in place. The roads are still labeled. It's a virtual treasure hunt for the boys as they dig up pieces of metal and find nails, etc.

It's also a four-wheeler heaven! We love to ride there as there's miles of mountain trails. It rained most of the weekend, so our riding was limited. Luckily we camp here every year. We can also just park the Winnebago wherever we want = FREE! (Love that!) I forgot to take pictures of Camp Hale this time - bad, bad blogger!

Leadville


One day we drove up to Leadville - which has the highest elevation of an incorporated city in the United States. We toured the mining museum and spent a while driving through some of the old mining sites.

Donuts

We have a tradition of making homemade donuts from tube biscuit dough when we are camping. They are the easiest breakfast to make. We just roll out a piece into a ball and cut out the center with a pill bottle.

Next, we fry up the donuts or the donut holes in a dutch oven on our camp stove. Then we roll in cinnamon and sugar in a Ziplock. (Easy clean up.)

With our herd, the donuts are usally eaten in less than 5 minutes flat! Yummy!

Random

By the way, here's a cute pictue of Lacey. (obviously not wearing this dress camping) She was sleeping when we took the other pictures.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grand Junction Dance Festival 2010

Last weekend our son Christian was involved in a dance festival put on by our church. These are big events and our stake (geographic region) has never put on one before or at least I don't remember any.
Since January the youth ages 12-18 in our stake have been practicing and the women have been sewing costumes. Many people worked hard to put on this great show.
The dance festival was a show where 5 stakes each performed dances from different eras: The 20s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The stakes involved in Colorado were Grand Junction (2), Meeker, Montrose, and also the Moab, Utah stake. They danced 2 performances held at Mesa State. It was terrific!

(Christian is the first boy on the left.)

Below if the video of just our stake (Meeker) performing the 50s dance. Christian is in the back left and hard to see. Notice that our Stake President makes an appearance as Elvis!






Here's a picture we took of our Stake President after the show with his grandchildren.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lacey's Birthday Weekend

Can you believe our sweet baby is one year old? It is quite the milestone as it seems like we've only had her such a short amount of time, yet feel like we've known her forever.
We sort of celebrated Lacey's birthday off and on all weekend long as we had such a busy weekend with Christian's dance festival (another post on that later).

Lacey is opening the presents her birth family gave to us when we picked her up at the orphanage. They were meant for her first birthday and we kept our promise that we would give them to her.

Check out the lovely bracelet and necklace from the birth family!
We celebrated with a birthday dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant.
Later she enjoyed a yummy cupcake made by Christian and Jeremiah.
This is the first picture (referral picture) we saw of our baby girl.
It's amazing how much we loved her just from this picture! I remembering crying uncontrollably when I saw her. Tears of joy! She's growing up so fast.Parker loves to give Lacey kisses. She turned and kissed him too, but I was too slow with the camera.
Lacey has had some interesting hairdos this weekend. One morning she woke up with this crazy mohawk.

It was then that I decided perhaps her hair is now long enough to curl it a bit. I am so excited to be able to fix her hair. I have waited so many years for this moment.....

We sure are enjoying out "Elegant Blessing" (the meaning of Lacey's Taiwanese name)!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Motivational Moment

Amid the chaos of this Summer it is easy to get discouraged. I have had a trying week with trying to keep two houses clean and ready for house showings at any moment. I took a break and saw this message in an email. It's just the motivation I need today!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my Handsome Prince. Thanks for giving me the greatest adventures of my life. You're my best friend! Thanks for making me laugh every day and for being the greatest Father to our children! I love you!

video

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Love My 5 Kids

Tonight I ran across the first discrimination I have encountered since adopting Lacey. I wrote out a whole post about it and then decided it wasn't worth my time. I guess it was just therapy to write it down and then erase it. I think the discrimination was more geared toward us having 5 kids than it was about adopting her. Wow, is 5 kids really that many? I don't think so and if I was younger I'd have or adopt a bunch more! I feel so much better now! By the way, the above picture is kind of silly and was taken at a luau at our church. However, I believe it's our first family picture!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Precious Weekend

This weekend was one of the best weekends ever. It's the kind of weekend where I want tried to take mental pictures and lock them away forever in my heart! Our 3rd son - Ian was baptized. He's such a joy to have in our family and we are so thankful for him. He's a real spiritual giant and full of joy!
Also, Lacey was given her name and a blessing by her Daddy. This is a tradition in our church where babies have a special prayer that announces her official name (Lacey Enya) to the world. She is also given a blessing to help her throughout her life.

We had lots of family to be with us on this special weekend. Most came from Utah and my cousin came from Wisconsin. Also, we have lots of family that lives close by us.

We stayed up late laughing, visiting and having a wonderful time. We had 40 people to dinner. We still own 2 homes (mixed blessing) and so it was easy to accommodate everyone. I could not believe how easy both sides of the family got along so well this weekend.

Here is a picture of two Taiwanese cousins through American adoptions. Trevor was adopted from Taiwan 5 years ago by Gerry's cousin (also our best friends). He was adopted from the same orphanage as Lacey. This is the first time these two cuties have seen each other. A real tear jerker.
Our Parker on the right with cousin Logan. They were inseparable all weekend. By coincidence they came out dressed exactly the same!
We even saw this incredible rainbow from our deck.
It was as close to a perfect weekend as we could have had!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Adoption Miracle

Through this journey of adoption, I had so many miracles in order for everything to work out perfectly. It has been a journey of faith and of God's will being brought to pass.
Today I'd like to share someone else's journey. Along the way I met Tami. She's an incredible woman of faith. They adopted Noah from Taiwan and then decided Jeremiah needed a home too. Jeremiah is a special needs child with cerebral palsy. I saw Jeremiah in his crib when we were in Taiwan and I've been praying that they can get the money they need to adopt him.
Tami and her family have literally raised the money to adopt him $1 at a time. They have held bake sales, plate dinners, car washes, auctions, yard sales and every kind of fundraising event you can imagine. I've been amazed at their determination.
They leave for Taiwan soon - I think next week and after all that they have done, they needed a bit more money. Today they received an anyonomous donation via PayPal for $2000. They finally have the last bit of money needed to adopt Jeremiah! Praise God! You can view the video here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

One Month Home


We picked up Lacey just over a month ago. My how time has flown by. Lacey has really blossomed since we got her. She just turned 10 months old and we are helping her catch up developmentally. Here are some accomplishments:
  • She can now sit up for small periods of time before tipping over. She couldn't sit up at all when we got her.
  • She rolls around the room and has started doing the army crawl.
  • When we got her she couldn't eat from a spoon and now she eats all the baby foods like a trooper.
  • 2 teeth have broken through the bottom gums.
  • Her left hand was always clutched closed. We work her out daily and really concentrate on trying to get her more interactive with her hands. Now the majority of the time her hand stays open. We are working on getting her to hold her bottle and try to pick up small objects with a thumb and finger.
  • She sleeps through the night! Hooray!
  • Her words are hi, dada, and baba, (interesting that baba in chinese means daddy, so no luck for me). Plus lots of other jibberish words like en - for needing food.
  • She's tiny - around 16 pounds in the 5% for weight and 50% for height.

Overall, she has such an easy going, sweet personality. We love her to death. Her 4 brothers (a.k.a. the court jesters) keep "The Princess" entertained at all times and they adore her. We are all in love with Lacey and the long wait (3 years) was completely worth it.

We left for Taiwan 2 days after Gerry's work was scheduled to to have a 5 week seasonal break. It was perfect timing. He's been home this entire time - feels like a maternity leave - and it's been nice to have the extra hands while we are adjusting. He starts back to work in a few days. We will miss having him around all of the time.

Grandma M. made this adorable blanket. Lacey with cousin Cayden. He's 2 weeks older.

We went to visit Grandma Luci. She is so happy to finally have a granddaughter after 10 grandsons. I have a feeling she is going to spoil her rotten.

One more picture, just because she's so darn cute!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beautiful Video - My New Life

This video is beautiful, but grab a kleenex before watching!



You can visit Stephanie Nielson's blog here. She is an amazing blogger, woman, Mother and inspiration.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why We Love Skype

Skype was an incredible tool for us when we were in Taiwan. For those of you not understanding what it is, I'll try and explain. Skype is a free program that you download on your computer. You choose a user name. Then your friend or family member also downloads it to their computer and chooses a user name. Make sure you exchange user names with each other. If you have a web cam on your computer you can video talk to each other for free. We used it daily while in Taiwan to communicate with the boys. They really enjoyed being able to talk with us face to face and it was especially fun once we got the baby for the boys to see her.

Another very valuable tool through Skype is Skype phone calling. Before we left for Taiwan they offered a special rate of $2.95 per month. We could call any U.S. number through our computer (not video calling, but voice calling) for just the $2.95 a month fee. I can't tell you how valuable this was to be able to call some family members that don't have access to Skype videos. Also, in Taiwan we decided to change our flights and were able to call the airlines through the computer, thus saving lots of time and money on phone calls. Now that we are home, we have cancelled the monthly charge as we don't need it any longer.

Before I went to Taiwan, I called my cell phone service - Verizon to see what it would cost to make phone calls in Taiwan. They don't have any International plans for Taiwan so the price is $2 per minute whether you call or someone calls you. At that rate, I decided to forgo the cell phone and just use the Skype calling.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Got Milk?

This outfit is pretty special to us as it was given to us in Taiwan. We think Lacey looks adorable in it and had to share!

Overall we are adjusting wonderfully, other than a bit sleep deprived. The boys adore Lacey and we've had to put them on a rotating basis of who is next to hold her. She loves them! Today we even journeyed out to Target and must say that she is more even tempered than any of our kids. She didn't fuss at all. We are so incredibly happy and in love!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Trip Home

Lacey is on Taiwan time, which means she slept most of the flight home from Taiwan to LAX. We really enjoyed our flights in EVA airways. The service was excellent. We upgraded to Elite class, so we could have more leg room and were also able to get a bulkhead seat for the way home. In front of the seat, a bassinet was able to attach to the wall so that Lacey could sleep in it the majority of the flight.
Once to LAX, we had to process her through Immigration. We were given a mysterious set of papers that we had to give Immigration. These papers were sealed in an envelope and we were commanded to not open them at all. Once we gave them the papers, we were told to wait in the waiting area with around 50 other people from countries all around the world.
Judging from how slowly things were moving, I estimated it was going to be around a 3 hour wait for our turn. After 15 minutes, we were called forward. I think maybe they process adoptions first, but am not sure. They told me how to apply for a social security card and that some items (I think a green card) will be mailed to me. Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what they said, it's all a blur, so if anyone knows the next steps I need to take to get her name changed etc., please fill me in. Then they handed me her Taiwanese passport and congratulated us on having the newest American immigrant.
We walked through customs without any problems and up to the area where people were waiting for the arriving Immigrants. Several people had American flags and it really hit me that Lacey's life has just changed in a big way. I got a bit teary eyed to think she is the newest American. Several workers at the airport told us "she is one lucky girl." We feel that way, but also feel that we are the lucky ones.
We are overnighting in LA, as there were not any later connecting flights. We have the first flight home this morning. Lacey has been up since 2 am, and I've given up on getting her back to sleep. It could be tricky to get her days and nights switched around. Plus, she's a little social bug and is afraid she will miss something. The orphanage workers told us that she catnaps at night and likes to play during the night and sleep during the day.
The boys are so excited to see their sister. We have been using Skype the entire time while in Taiwan and it has helped them to feel connected. They will be getting out of school early today to meet us!
My plan is to updated a little more about the trip and some tips for other adoptive parents in a few days as time allows.

Monday, April 19, 2010

On Our Way Home

We had our appointment this morning with AIT (American Institute in Taiwan). This is where all adoption papers are checked and processed so we can get Miss Lacey's visa and passport. Everything went very smoothly. They are able to get it done today, so we have changed our flights and are coming home 2 days early.
We loved our time here in Taiwan, but are ready to head home to our boys. So we've been doing the whirlwind packing job and are heading out in less than an hour. All flights are changed and we're ready to go home.

Introducing Our Baby

We picked up our baby girl today and now we can finally show you her picture. We have decided to name her Lacey. We love her so much already.
Our time at St Lucy's orphanage was wonderful. We went over her schedule, had a nice visit and toured the facility. So far Lacey is so easy. She has been smiling at us and giving us kisses all day. She seems very even tempered and we hope it lasts. She's smaller than we pictured. We were also given a CD with over 300 pictures from the time she was a newborn until today including the pictures they took of us today. Those pictures are priceless! The nannies in the facility love her greatly and I'm thankful they took such good care of her.
After we picked her up at the orphanage we took the high speed train back to Taipei. We found diapers at one store, but they didn't sell baby food. So, we had to take a taxi to Carefour to get baby food and purchase a stroller.
She has just taken her bottle and is asleep, so it's time for us to sleep too!
We feel so blessed and honored to be her parents!
By the way Happy Birthday Jeremiah! Not everyone gets a baby sister for their birthday! We miss you boys and can't wait to get home to you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tainan Part 2

If you have not read the previous post - Indiana Jones - please read it first and then return to read this part of our day.
Gerry was able to rest most of the day and slowly began to feel better and regain his strength. He had been very pale and quite weak. Around 4 pm, we decided it was time to check out this city.

With the exchange rate, we can get around very cheaply in a taxi. We told our English speaking friends at the front desk to "hire a taxi for us. Tell them that we would like to see the main highlights of the city. We need the taxi driver to drive carefully and not crazy. "
We ended up with an older gentleman as our driver. He was so great. He drove extremely cautiously and did exactly as we desired. He'd pull up to the front gate of a building, let us out and wait for us while we walked around the sites. Some sites we spent 10 minutes looking at, others only a few minutes. It was perfect! We didn't read everything in great depth, but took pictures of the main points and it was nice to see the actual city!
Our impressions:
  • Tainan is much different than Taipei. The buildings aren't as high as Taipei, there are more kids, it's cloudier here, people seem to be more relaxed and very social with each other.
  • Tainan is less Americanized - less foreigners. However, we see many American businessmen - perhaps working contracts with the factories here.
  • The little kids and even adults love to look into my blue eyes.
  • The pace of the city, seems to move a tad bit slower here, and traffic is less congested.

Here are a few highlights of our taxi tour.

Just 10 hours until we meet our daughter!