Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Really, I just figured it was about time. I don't keep a journal and so much has happened that I thought maybe getting it down in some form might help me in later years when I start to develp dimentia, maybe bring back a memory or two. They say you've got to plan for the future, right?
Anywho...I don't have much time today, but don't you worry! :) I'll be back with all the juicy details of our crazy life.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Yes, my Abraham has a poop story. Most of my friends have heard it, but a rare few have actually seen pictures. My little joy, Abe, had a "pooping in strange places and smearing it" problem. The incident I have in mind happened right before James and I were rushing to get out the door and catch a plane to Utah to finalize plans for our house in Farmington. We could smell something bad, but I looked high and low and couldn't find anything. My friend, Amity, was preparing to watch our kids while we were gone, and literally as we were getting to the door, Sydney, her daughter came up and said she found a poopy pirate. Huh? So, we went to the playroom, and sure enough, there was a small fisher price pirate covered in the stuff. The problem was...where was the rest of it?? No smears, no trace of evidence. Finally we spotted a large lump on the ....wait for it....poop deck of the ship. No kidding. My skinny-bottomed boy shimmied somehow in between the masts and pooped on the deck of his pirate ship. Seriously, if you can aim that good, why in the world wouldn't you be able to aim in to a toilet?????
I do have a happy ending to this story. Other than Abe and all of us singing the song "Abey is a little pip, he pooped on the pirate ship" for days on end, he learned a lesson. As of last Sunday, he is diaper free except for bed. YIPPEEEEEE!! I feel like we both should get an award. I really thought we wouldn't see this day, ever. He has all of a sudden become a big boy. My baby. I guess it's time for a new one, huh? He keeps begging for a baby, along with the other 3 partners in crime. I guess by Hoffman standards we're behind! :) Anyway....my bed is calling my name.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
This video is pretty powerful. It really made me take a hard look at myself. It is worth watching, just to remember the importance of our example to our children.
Thanks to Stef Sarver, I think this will actually play here and you won't have to cut and paste the link. Now, if I could only change this hideous yellow, red and green layout without losing all of my links and stuff (tried a few times and lost things). Oh, mighty Goddesses of the internet with cute blogs, help me!!!
Saturday, February 09, 2008
But, I received a letter in the mail today from Doris (Grandma Looney) and I wanted to share it with you all. She also send pics that I'll try and get on later. Love you all!!!
To the friends and family of James and Shanti-
It is very hard to put into words what I really want to say. I don’t know you personally but this is one thing I do know. You are all truly wonderful and kind people, and truly a blessing from heaven above. Thank you all for your kindness and for your gift. My grandchildren had a wonderful Christmas. They were so happy to see their little sister and for her to see them and spend Christmas Day in Alabama. James and Shanti are wonderful people. We continue to tell all of our family and friends about them. I have adopted them into our family and now I have four more grandchildren. And we love them so much. We can’t wait to see them again. Once again, I want to say thank you and God bless each and every one of you for helping to make a dream come true. God put special people here on earth for a special reason. All of you are so very special. Thanks again from me, my son Ryan, and all of our kids. We love you all. God bless.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Okay........I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to update the blog. Where do I start? I have put off writing this report of our trip to Alabama because I have so many intense feelings that I struggle to put it into words, and even moreso down on paper. We had such an incredible experience, really, that I don’t want to cheapen it by my inability to express my thoughts. Having prefaced with that, I think I’ll write this in the form of a journal.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
We leave Indianapolis around 10:30am and 9 hours of driving (really great kids, overall) gets us to Pell City, Alabama. We arrived with only 2 kids with pee accidents, and no blood and a minimal amount of screaming. Not bad. We stayed in a small Ramada Limited hotel, which was great. Free hot breakfast, etc. Anyway, we arrived and called Grandma Looney and let her know we were there. The whole family (15 people) arrived soon after and poured into the small waiting room of the hotel. We were a little nervous and not sure what to expect. They all just came in and started hugging us and talking to us, with no weird pretense or anything. Within 10 minutes, we were family. The kids were running and chasing each other down the hall to the room and back, everyone was taking turns posing for pics with Samara, we were comparing Sam’s nose and smile and dimples and bum crack to everyone elses. (Anyone who knows Samara knows that try as she might, she is unable to hide her bumcrack. When she was a baby we’d show her unusually long bumcrack to people for a good laugh.) It was hilarious. So many variations of my daughter were just standing there in one room. Let me quickly explain who is in the family and how and where they fit in. Doris is the Grandmother. The majority of the family lives with her. Her son, Ryan, is Samara’s birthfather. He lives down the street from Delores with his new wife Janet, and Janet’s 2 boys from a different relationship. They are Javares and Katrell, 3 & 4 years old. Janet and Ryan together have a baby girl, Makaya, who is a year and a half. She is everyone’s baby sister, and boy does she know it. That little girl can work a crowd. She is close to 40 lbs. Solid as a rock. Also living with Ryan now are the 3 oldest teenagers: Keisha (17), Shonda (16), Brandy (14). But they spend the majority of their time at Grandma Looney’s, as well. Everyone else lives at Doris’ house. That includes Ryan, Jr. (15), JJ (13), Taz (11), Karston (9), Anjija (8), Bo (Doris’ youngest son), and Shawn (Doris’ nephew who is recovering from a kidney transplant), and Doris. So, that is 8 at the apartment, and 8 in the trailer. Close quarters.
So, back to our adventure... After visiting for a little while, we all took a drive to see some Christmas lights, we visited some more, and then they went home. Now, Doris takes a good amount of pride in taking care of her family, and I wanted to give her the money that everyone contributed ($1650) sooner rather than later, so she could use it for Christmas. I had to tread lightly and try and relay the respect with which it was given, and not offend by giving the impression that we thought of her as a charity project, or less than us in any way. With all my heart I prayed that she’d accept it with the true intent that we were giving it. So, I quietly slipped it to her, letting her know that there are many people that love Samara and that respect Doris for keeping these kids together and taking on such responsibility. She didn’t really say anything, and I worried. James later expressed privately his similar sentiments of gratitude to her. We had to just hope we didn’t offend her.
The next morning we took our little family to church (the nearest LDS church was about a 1/2 hour away). What a nightmare. Abraham was in prime bratty form, and joining him was Elijah on the floor, Samara who wouldn’t stop crying, and Kiah who was embarrassed to be new, so she walked in with her coat over her head and kept it there most of the meeting. Being that we were in the south, and we were a transracial family, I don’t doubt we would have made a spectacle without all the bells and whistles added in by my darling children. I’m sure that congregation is still talking about that weird family that came to town on Christmas. Anyway, we then went up to see the Looney home.
We have a GPS system that got us most of the way, but they live so far back in the boonies that we had to call them for directions. They live at the end of a dirt road at the end of a town street that loops around full of long lost cousins and other various relatives from way back. This town was dilapidated and barely surviving. Really backwoods Alabama at it’s best, mostly trailers and broken down houses. Now, I want to describe their home, but I want to preface it with the fact that Doris Looney keeps immaculate care of her grandkids and of the home she’s been given. I wish so much that I could give her a new trailer. They live in an OLD double-wide trailer on a hill up a dirt road. The cement blocks meant to stabilize and balance the trailer are all tilting at precarious angles downward and it’s a wonder we didn’t all go tumbling down the hill! When you walk into the trailer, the first thing you notice is that half of it is collapsing down said slope. The couch is at an angle, and if you were to drop something in the kitchen, it would roll right out the door. The whole thing is falling apart, and there are holes and missing pieces throughout the house. There are beds stuffed wall to wall in each of the rooms to accomadate the family members. The bathroom floor is half missing. There are frequently bugs crawling in the holes, and climbing up the walls. There is a heating unit in the hallway that is basically an open gas flame. I stressed every second I couldn’t see Abe about him lighting himself or all of us on fire. They also turn on the oven and open it to heat the place. It is sad, because she deserves so much more. As rickety and scary as this little trailer was, it was clean, beds made, dishes done, floors swept. She is my hero.
Because they live out in the middle of nowhere, there is a lot of room to run. That first day we were there we had beautiful weather and the kids had free reign of the hillside. They followed the doggies, and played football, and rolled down the hill to their hearts desire. The little girls (Karston, Kiah, Anija, Samara, and a cousin from down the street) all formed a group and hung out together giggling. The boys explored an old creek bed, jumped on an old trampoline across the way, and chased the puppies. The teenagers hung around laughing and talking to us, watching the younger ones. Then, when it got dark, all 22 of us piled in the trailer and ate chicken and listened to music. The teenage boy, Ryan Jr., was wonderful and humored Kiah and played with her (she loves older boys), and James got to visit quite a bit with Ryan, her birthfather, as well. I visited with Janet and got to know her, as well as the other older ones, and snuggled and played with the baby Kayia; known as “princess Kyia” and for good reason. She kind of joins the two families together and belongs to everyone.
I’m trying to paint the picture here for you. It literally was instant family. These children are all well-behaved, happy children with big open hearts that welcomed us in. Grandma Looney was gone for a few hours buying shoes and stuff for kids, but once she got back she was constantly in the background doing for someone or cleaning, and visiting with us. Life is hard for them, and they have so little, but they are happy. You’d never know how much they really are in need of monetarily, and I doubt the kids realize it, either. They struggled a lot with their mother, but she has lost custody, and now Doris is their legal guardian. She is truly an incredible lady. She opens her home to one and all. Her other adult son lives with them, and she took in her grown nephew and cared for him before, during and after his kidney surgery. The 3 days we were there, a number of people we didn’t know came and went and all were welcomed with food and a good laugh.
So, the next day we wanted to do something fun with the group, but anything fun (not much close to where they lived) was closed. So we found a hotel about a 1/2 hour away (in the town where the church was) with an indoor pool. We thought that would be a fun thing we could all do together. So we packed all up (not easy to do with a family of six, and packed food because we’re cheap) and checked out of our $50 a night hotel and went to a $90 a night hotel specifically for the pool. We get there and the lady at the front desk says only 6 people at a time are aloud in the pool, and we are absolutely forbidden to make any noise. Now, with a group our size, can you imagine no noise??? There is so much laughter and talking and teasing, that we put up quiet a racket. Anyway, I don’t know why this lady was such a stick in the mud, but it foiled our plans. So, we grudgingly checked in, and then drove all the way back to Grandma Looneys and just hung out there again that night. We bought pizza and had a pizza party. I was amazed at how willing they were to spend their whole Christmas holiday with us. Even the teenagers participated and played and line danced with us. We stayed there until late Christmas Eve night, and then went back to the hotel and watched Disney Channel (a rare treat for our kids, since we got rid of cable). The next morning we did our own Christmas lesson (we had already opened our presents the Friday before, except for the one present Santa would leave at our house at Christmas waiting for the kids to get home). Then we took advantage of the $60 extra dollars we were paying to stay in that hotel for 2 nights and swam for a few hours. We then drove back to the Looney’s to see what the kids got and enjoy them for one last day.
It was so fun to see the teenagers all dressed in their new boots with new MP3 players, or cell phones. By the time we got there, everyone was washed and hair done perfectly and playing with their new stuff. I don’t know how she did it. I was just able to put braid spray in my kids hair and call it good. She’s so amazing! Anywhooo…everyone was all smiles, and Doris had bought each of my kids a gift, so the kids went straight there to play with the others. It was one big, loud, ruckus of fun! James (my hubby) and Taz were chasing each other down with the nerf guns, the older girls were teaching the baby how to do the Soulja boy dance, we played Battleship team style, with 4 of the girls on my side, and 4 on the other. So much food, music, laughter all stuffed into one tiny, dilapidated double-wide on cement blocks. I will never forget the intense feelings of love and humility I felt that day. These people had become my family and I was sad to leave them. I learned so many things about them, too. Did you know that none of them had ever been more than 30 minutes away from their house? I brought Samara’s scrapbook with me so they could see what she looked like as a baby, and they saw pictures of a zoo and Disneyland, and Bryce Canyon and couldn’t even imagine seeing a real animal that close, or riding a roller coaster. There are so many things that I take for granted. On the same token, I realized that I put too much emphasis on things that are not all that important. This family had love overflowing in that little home of theirs.
There was only one awkward moment during the whole trip and that was when her birthmom changed her mind and decided to come over to see Samara. We didn’t know she was coming, and then she just showed up. Initially we were so excited about that. Samara had dad run to get the present we bought for her in hopes of seeing her. She was so antsy to see her, but Muriel walked in and wouldn’t look at Samara. Remember she has lost custody of all of her children, so it was an emotionally charged event, anyway, made all the more intense because she had never seen Samara before. Everyone was looking around at each other and crying, and she still wasn’t acknowledging Sam. I squeezed Sam’s hand and gave her a smile and told her to be patient, because Muriel was nervous, too. But after a few moments, Samara was looking insecure and Momma Bear had to take over. I marched Sam right up to her, so she couldn’t ignore her and Sam said, “Hi, I’m Sammy. I brought this for you.” She handed the necklace to Muriel, and Muriel hugged her, while crying. Of course, I was a total wreck. I stood back and let them have their space. Muriel didn’t really talk to her, and then she turned away, so I stepped back in and told Sam to go play with the other girls. Luckily, she is a pretty happy go lucky kid, so she turned and went to play. Muriel went out the door to leave. This woman gave birth to my daughter and placed her in my home, and I couldn’t just let her walk away without expressing my gratitude, so I ran outside in the rain, so it was just her and I, and I told her how much I loved her and Samara, and how I appreciated her having the courage to come up and meet Samara and that it would mean a lot to her as she got older and understood things more. She didn’t look at me, but I could tell she was listening. I gave her a quick hug and ran back in the house. I assumed she left, but a few minutes later, she came back in, more calm, and started talking to Samara for a few minutes and visiting with her kids. It was a really big deal for her to do that. By that time the tension was over and all the kids were playing and adults visiting again, so her visit ended on a positive note. As difficult and tense as that meeting was, I’m grateful for it. I hope it helps her heal, as well.
The time finally came to say good-bye, and there were tears all around. We finally made it out the door, with such a feeling of contentment and satisfaction that our time and money was so well spent. It was really hard to just leave. I felt like I was leaving my sisters and brothers, not knowing if/when I’d see them again. I know and they know that Samara was meant to be with us, and that we were all meant to be a family. I thank God for the opportunity to go and visit them and have them as part of our family’s life. Samara loved all the attention and very easily separated her birthfamily from her forever family, and didn’t seem to be confused at all. We’ve always talked to our kids about adoption and their special history, so it wasn’t a shock. We have a good relationship with Abraham’s birthfamily, as well, so it’s not new territory. I think she just accepted it as fact, and loves having a big family.
The day we got home I was on the computer pricing Double-wide trailers and tour bus rentals. Wishing I could buy them a new trailer, or drive them all to Disneyworld on a bus. I know that it’s not possible now, and that they’ll get along fine without these things, but I would sure love to do something like that someday. Anyway, all dreaming aside, I am so grateful to everyone who opened up their hearts and wallets to help this family have a happy Christmas. Ever since November when we were impressed to do this, people's generosity has touched our hearts and given us the merriest Christmas ever. We had 2 months of praying for this family, and talking about them, and thinking about this trip. Our kids got into it, and subsequently didn’t ask us what would happen to their Christmas. There were no long lists of requested presents, or begging for toys. In fact, it was a bit difficult for James and I to decide what to buy our kids, since nothing really stood out as perfect gifts. It was absolutely wonderful. We spent our best Christmas staying in a hotel in Nowhere, Alabama, and couldn’t be happier about it. Thank you, again, to all of you for your kind hearts.
Shanti & family
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I was remembering back to our trip to Nauvoo, Ill. this summer. On the last day of our trip, we drove to Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith was murdered. It's a solemn place, and the Spirit is very strong. Missionaries are there to give tours around the facility, and they show a movie about Joseph Smith. Well, our family went in and watched the movie, then when we came out of the show, there were missionaries, and other "churchy" looking people surrounding our little family. The sister missionary asked my kids what they liked about the movie. Kiah mentioned that she loved the part when Joseph gave a black member of the church his horse to sell, so he could get his sons freedom papers. Then the sister missionary asked Samara if she liked that part too. My lovely 6 year old says, "I was like, DAMN IT!, when I saw that part". The sister and I (and all who were in ear shot) were open-mouthed in shock. I quickly said, "Sammi, that's a swear word. What do you mean?" I was thinking she meant that it was really cool, or she didn't know what damn it meant, etc. So, she clarifies for us, "I was mad because I wanted him to give me his horse, instead. I like horses." Yeah, she used the word in context. Of course, the reflection on me, as a parent, is pitiful at that point. She must hear that often to talk that kind of trash was most likely the consensus opinion in that room. I was mortified. Skip to the actual tour of the building where he was martyred...... The missionaries were talking about prayer, and asked if we pray. Sam pipes in, "We sometimes pray, when mom's not too tired or we aren't in a hurry." Thanks, turkey! Now, I pray, numerous times daily with my children, and every once in a while, at bedtime, when there's major fits going on, I opt out. But it's rare. But to this sister, I've now become in-active member number one. Ugh! Gotta love that girl!
Anyway, I could fill up pages and pages of random Samara stories, but my fingers are getting tired. So, I'm going to go cuddle up with my kids (we're snowed in today), and watch the polar express, while my honey takes a nap upstairs. It doesn't get any better than this.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Some random funniness....Samara woke up this morning, and came into my bathroom with this dead serious face, and asked me, "Is dad's beard different?" I said no, then she asked, "Did the bottom part turn white?". Once again, the answer was no. (James is only 32) The she turns around and walks out, and I hear her tell herself, "Phew, I thought he was turning into Santa." She must have had one too many doses of Tim Allen this season. The fact that she was so serious about it cracked me up. I wish I could still question reality like that!
Anyway, just wanted to update the new total. You all ROCK!!!!!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Abe, studying the knot and the texture of the rope.
And a cute one of his face, without hat, but with his Grandma Shauna's boots.
Then we did the Colts pics. Our whole family has become obsessed with the Colts (as has the whole city of Indianapolis), and we had to have this.
Friday, December 07, 2007
So, once we got back to the barn, we had to go see Santa. Abe kept saying "Ho, ho, ho". But once he got in, we couldn't get him close to Santa. Finally Santa bribed him with a candy cane, that he took hesitantly, a full arms length away.
Cutie-patootie Sam got shy. She couldn't think of what to ask Santa for. I'm sure she's thought of many things since then!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
I've attached some pics of my mom with all of my babies except Abraham. She had her stroke and got very sick when Abe was born. Abe's birthmom thinks she might have a picture of them together, and I really hope she does. I'm so sad to think Abe might not have even one momento of him and my mother. She was always quick to come as soon as we got our babies. She'd park it in a chair and hold them for hours (while barking out orders to the rest of us, so she didn't have to get up out of said chair). Ha, Ha! Good memories.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
November is National Adoption Month, and members of the First Presidency have thrust their support behind the government’s efforts to raise awareness of the need for more parents to adopt.
“We endorse this proclamation [of November as National Adoption Month] and express our support of unwed parents who place their children for adoption in stable homes with a mother and a father,” the First Presidency stated. “We also express our support of the married mothers and fathers who adopt these children.”
The First Presidency’s statement follows years and years of the tradition of celebrating adoption, both inside and outside the Church.
National Adoption Month, which began in 1976, was originally only celebrated for a week. It was initiated on a state level by the governor of Massachusetts. But, when President Gerald Ford caught wind of the idea, he implemented it as a national celebration that same year. In 1990, it was changed from a week to a month-long celebration.
The goal of this month is to celebrate the family, raise awareness of the thousands of children waiting for adoption, and express gratitude to the many parents who have taken foster children into their homes.
“Families who adopt show the generous spirit of our Nation,” President George W. Bush stated in a proclamation announcing adoption month. “Every child desires a permanent home, and when parents adopt a child to love as their own, lives are changed forever.”
Within National Adoption Month, there is a specific, momentous day, National Adoption Day, which will be held this Saturday. On this day, special efforts are made by the courts, judges, attorneys, adoption professionals, and child welfare agencies in all 50 states to finalize adoptions for thousands of children.
The Church’s support derives from its stance on the sanctity of life, and it has done everything in its power to provide adoption services to solidify that belief. In 1919, the Church started LDS Family Services to do just that.
LDS Family Services offers help for both birth parents and adopting parents. It provides information about services, experiences of other birth parents, and agency commercials to offer courage and hope to those making the difficult decision of whether to place their child for adoption.
Regardless of who is promoting adoption, the Church is there to offer their support for the sanctity of life and the importance of the family.
“Children are entitled to the blessing of being reared in a stable family environment where father and mother honor marital vows,” the First Presidency stated. “Having a secure, nurturing, and consistent relationship with both a father and a mother is essential to a child’s well-being. When choosing adoption, unwed parents grant their children this most important blessing. Adoption is an unselfish, loving decision that blesses the child, birth parents, and adoptive parents in this life and throughout the eternities. We commend all those who strengthen children and families by promoting adoption.”
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Before (without straightening or anything)
I did it! I chopped off my hair that I've been growing out for 3 years. Wow! It feels great. We have a neighbor that we love who is going through the turmoil of breast cancer treatments right now, and she got me thinking of how I could help besides bringing flowers or offering to cook. I thought this might be a nice way to honor her and show my support to breast cancer patients. Oprah Winfrey did a big show about hair, and the group that she worked with that makes wigs for cancer patients is called Pantene Beautiful Lengths. So, that's who I'm sending my hair to. I admit I was a little nervous about cutting, but having a good cause behind it made the cut easier. I have documented my adventure for you to see.
*Note to all: I had not done my make-up, and my hair was just air-dried from the shower, since it had to be au-natual to donate, which meant no products or styling. I don't normally look like a hippy!