Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3 Years Later!!

Okay, for the one person out there who has been holding on, wishing so badly that I would once again take on the Hoffman Family Blog, this one's for you!

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

Aargh, Matey!

Well, it's been a while since I've been able to post, but I have finally updated my blog (thanks to Tracy and the website SJH Blog design). I just spent 2 hours trying to learn how to change backgrounds and such, so I'm too pooped to type a huge long post. Speaking of poop......

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! :) bed is calling my name.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Children See, Children Do

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

Letter From Grandma Looney

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted on the blog. We are getting ready to put our house up for sale, so the clutter magnet (a.k.a. the desk) had to go into the basement and be replaced by a beautiful, yet oh-so-useless, dining room table (since we eat in the kitchen in the breakfast nook area). Anyway, everytime I come downstairs to get on the computer, my dearest Abraham finds some way to cause trouble. Whether that be pooping on weird things (more to come later) or opening grape flavored Crystal Light, or rubbing a black ink pad on everything....the list goes on and on. So, computer time is drastically reduced.

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.

Doris Looney
(Sammi’s Granny

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finally! The Christmas Report

So, just so you know, the reason that song is playing with the slide-show (see post below)is because while we were there, that song came on the radio, and the whole house exploded! All of the kids, mine inlcuded, starting singing their hearts out to that song, so it has a special meaning to me now. Just click the x to move it out of the way while watching the slide show.

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Silly Sam

(Samara dancing in crab costume at the Children's Museum)
So, I thought I'd share in Samara's randomness today. After yesterday's Santa comment, I started thinking about other things she's said recently, and as I was pondering that, I looked outside to check on the kids playing in the snow, and Sam is out there sticking her tongue to the basketball hoop pole. Bless this child!
She is so friendly and unapologetic about everything. She'll wear pink cowboy boots with just about anything, and a fluffy dress to gym class, if she so feels inclined. Below is a picture of her and her best bud of first grade, Darius. She towers over all the other first graders, and Darius is smaller than most of the preschoolers in the school. But they both have spunk coming out there ears!!! Sam and Kiah call him "mini-man from the hood". Don't even ask, since we live in a middle class suburb..... Anyway, it's comical to watch them play, and what's even better is that they don't notice, and don't care.

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

Dad's little secret

So, did you see the new total???? So awesome!!!! We had a garage sale fundraiser this morning at our church. Unfortunately, we got a huge snowstorm dumped on us, so we didn't have a ton of people come, but enough that we earned $114. Not bad! People are so cool.

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

I'm an Idiot!! (and cute boys)

So, I tried to get a cool new template from for my blog, and in the meantime, I not only couldn't get my links to switch over, in the process, I lost all of my links to the friends that I had on my old template. Poop! So, if you read my blog, please comment and leave your blog address in the comments, so I can get this updated again. The ones that I remember, that I need to get again, are Dana, Kelly, Lindsay, Kim, Suzanne, Kristy, Traci, Nicole, Cecily, and I'm sure there's more, but I'm tired and brain dead from staring at this lame computer.
I guess I'll make this a productive post by putting up Abe's lastes pics from his B-day, and a few with his big bro, Eli in them. Serious, I don't think boys come any cuter than these two. These may look gorgeous, and they are, but I put blood, sweat, and tears into them! Abe was not cooperating, and kept jumping down off of the table, and throwing the cowboy hat, and crying for his blanket. Yeah, just your average trip to the picture studio.... Enjoy!

Abe, studying the knot and the texture of the rope.

Hiding his face from the camera, seconds before chucking it at the photographer.
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.

Beautiful boy!!!
The pink, fuzzy, can't leave at home blanket. He wouldn't sit up, and when he grabbed his blanket, he started snuggling it. I practically yelled at the photographer to get this shot. Don't mess with mamma when there's scrapbooking to be done!
My boyz!
Classic pose for these two. :)
Abe was done, and Eli was giving him a hug, so we took advantage and posed them a bit for the picture. So sweet!

Friday, December 07, 2007

I'm Back!!!

Boy, it feels like forever since I've had a chance to post! I miss it. Did you see the Grandma Looney fund update??? We're doing good! I really hope to get up to $1000, but I'm ecstatic already. She'll be so surprised and pleased.

Well, I wanted to do a big thankful list for Thanksgiving, but haven't had the chance. I've been tagged by 4 different friends to do a random list about me, and haven't gotten to it, and now we've had events that I want to post pics of! How to keep up with all of the sharing. I love blogs, and I get mad if my favorite blogs aren't updated. :)

So, I'll go with the fun family traditions post today. James and I decided our first year of marriage that we would chop our own tree every year. So, for 10 years, we've done that. In Utah, we go to Heber at 6 in the morning to freeze our patooties off for 2 hours in the cold, waiting in line for a tree permit. We then get our permit, go home, and then drive back up there the weekend after Christmas with our friends and drag kids and dogs through deep snow on the hunt for the "perfect" tree. Now, perfect means semi-even branches on one side of the tree, since most of them are too close to other trees and grow skeewampy. It backs to the wall, anyway, right? Anyway, they usually end up looking not much better than the Charlie Brown original, but we love it, we chop it, we drag it and the kids back out of the trees, and then we celebrate with hot cocoa and Heidi's cinnamon rolls.

The year before we left for Indiana, Heidi and I got lazy and found a tree farm, justifying it because it was still in the mountains, and we still had to hike around for the best tree and we still got to chop it. We just didn't have to make 2 trips, and we didn't have to hike around as far. That worked great!! New tradition!! Then we left to Indiana, with no mountains. We thought our tradition was over. Oh, no. I typed in "Chop Christmas Tree Indiana" in google and found a pluthera of tree farms! Yeah! So, we found this incredible farm that is so picturesque. You drive about an hour outside of town, and you get a tractor ride out to the tree fields, tons of beautiful, full, incredible trees, and they provide the dolly for the tree you pick and the saw. Then they give you hay ride back to the barn where they shake the dead needles out of your tree, drill the hole, wrap your tree and help you get it on your car. All the while they give the kiddos free hot cocoa, and this year Santa was there with candy canes and some helpers making Christmas ornaments for the kids to make and take home. All for only $30 bucks!!! I'm going to miss Indiana Christmas trees!

The family portrait in front of an old barn. (It was a freeze-your-tail-off day, fo' sho'!)
Hauling the kids out to the best spot for trees. It made me glad (for the bizillionth time) that I was not called to be a pioneer mother.
The chosen tree has been conquered by the powerful forces!
Hauling out the booty!
Abe couldn't take anymore adventure. He fell asleep in the backpack and drooled and snored the whole way back. That's my boy!

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.
I just love the look on E's face! Priceless. It probably seems weird to little kids that we spend 364 days a year telling them to not talk to strangers, or sit on strangers lap, etc., but at Christmas we practically throw them on some man they don't know. Silly grownups! (Santa has a perplexed look on his face, too. Probably because Eli asked for "dollies") ;)

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!
Once we got home, it was time to set up and decorate the tree. We decided that the kids were old enough to string Cranberries and popcorn this year. What fun! Even Abe participated. And no lethal injuries. Woo Hoo!
You gotta peek up under the lights! And we can't help but peek at Sam's undies!
And our weary well-doers are finally done with the tree. Yeah!
What a wonderful tradition. We love it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Angel is the Devil!

(Disclaimer: I have tried putting in spaces and separating paragraphs and indenting the paragraphs, and everytime I hit "publish post" it goes back to one big long blob of a post. Harder to read, sorry!!)
Look at that face! Could he really be the devil, you may ask? Well, maybe not, but he sure likes to be naughty! My day today brought memories of a few months ago flooding back. The memorable day that has now become famous among friends and relatives alike, as well as strangers who've had my bad day emailed to them from my friends and relatives, for a good chuckle. I think I'll start with reminiscing about that day, which will make my day today seem much tamer in comparison: Poop smeared up and down the stairs to the basement, with poop smeared all over basement carpet and toys. Ashes from fire place all over him and the living room. Barbeque sauce all over him and the table and chairs (he snuck down at night and did this with the lights off). Syrup (Sam's club size) poured all over him, with a layer of hair sticking to that, and the kitchen and up and down the hallways and on the leather chair and ottoman.
I'm sure there was more, but I think I have blocked it, you know, PTSD?! This was all in one day! I was ready to go to the funny farm. After a few months of therapy and a lot of cleaning solution, he was doing so much better. I call this the Sunny period. He was fun and easy to take places, and listened pretty well.
Um....yeah, those days are gone. And, lately, he's been doing more sucking on his tongue and hiding his head under his blanket everywhere we go. He's been rubbing his face alot, and freaking completely out about germs. You can't kiss him, he has to kiss you on the cheek. He will melt down for an hour if you happen to take a drink out of his cup, or if he even suspects that you've touched something of his with saliva. Forget about the mom lick and swipe on his face!! So, I've been worried about him, as he seems to be regressing back into his sensory problems, and his speech is still significantly delayed, so that's another worry.
Anyway, because I've been worried about these things, I haven't been paying as much attention to sneaky behavior, until this week. Then I started taking note of how many poopy diapers have come off, how many things have been squeezed out (paint, toothpaste, medication, etc.), how many toilets have been clogged with various items, how much he's been sneaking out and hiding again. You get the picture. Well, today, I was on the phone for about a half hour. During that time, I was on the computer for this call, looking up maps, etc. I could hear him in the living room, so I wasn't worried about him sneaking out and wandering the neighborhood. Well, after I got off the phone, I walked into the kitchen and found every paper towel individually ripped off and strewn around the house in a distinct "choo choo" pattern. As I followed the "train tracks" I found that he had dumped a huge bag of rice all over the whole living room; in furniture, on the tv stand in every spot on the floor, all over the piles of laundry I just folded (and I mean in every crease). That was frustrating, but no big, since I can at least vacum that up, right? Then I saw the heater vent pulled up. Inside the heater were small books, a sandwhich, our whole jar of money that we pay the kids to do odd jobs was dumped in, dollars, and change alike. The jar itself and the lid were way back down in, as well as crayons, small McDonald's toys, etc. It was crammed full!!! This was after 4 diapers stripped off that I put back on him while I was on the phone in the other room.
Really, compared to other days, it's not too bad, but when there are 5 little naughty things going on in the span of 45 minutes, it makes me want to pull my hair out! His favorite new trick is to stick his fingers in his diaper and pull out a chocolate-like hand and chase me with it. Fun, no? You can't help but love the kid, even though strangling sounds pretty enticing at times, too. He's always really good, after some little devious trick of his, to tell me, "No, mommy, naughty!" Glad he knows that. That's the first step, right? (And knowing is half the battle...yo, Joe!)
Anyway, I love my boy! We saw our leaves falling off of our red maple, so we gave it a good shake and played in the fall "rain" of red leaves. So fun! They love to climb that tree (evidenced by al the broken branches at the bottom of it). This picture embodied his beautiful, fun-loving smile. He's a keeper.

Friday, November 16, 2007

In Memory of My Mommy

Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of my mom's passing. I had a 1st grade field trip, and homework, piano lessons, dinner, spelling test review, etc. and didn't even think about it until yesterday evening. How do you forget the day your mom died? I remembered last week, but not yesterday. I really miss my mom. Our relationship was not a typical mom/daughter relationship, but there was genuine love there. She didn't know how to show it, and was very critical, but she was also very proud of me. She was the type of person that would give you the shirt off her back, and then crack jokes about how bad she looked without her shirt on! She was always making jokes and trying to make people feel at ease. She also really loved her grandkids, and gave up a lot to take care of my nephews. She got kind of a redemption through them, by having a second chance to raise kids in a better environment than she did with my sister and I.

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.

This is my mom with Elijah when he was born.

This is in the hospital room with Kiah, right after her birth. Muriel (Kiah's birthmom) told us to bring our family in. She was so amazing!

Here she is with our little tiny Sammi girl. These 2 has such a strong bond. Samara was a sick, anxiety ridden baby from day one. She was very refluxy and cried all the time. She wouldn't let us leave her with anyone after 4 months old. 4 months and she knew!! But she loved my mom. My mom was the only one who Sammy would let hold her for very long. They were quite a pair. My mom was loud, and sometimes odorous, and not very touchy-feely. Sammi was loud, very stinky, and cried all the time. But together, they were happy. Samara's middle name is Jacqueline, after her grandma Marsh. We had no idea how fitting that would be.

Ah, yes! I had to include this picture because it embodies who my mom was. She loved people who were bold and marched to their own drum. She also loved bad boys! She was in New Orleans (pre-Katrina) during Mardi Gras. She saw this group of punks hanging out. Any normal person would see the spikes and piercings and walk quickly down the sidewalk. My mom goes up to all of them, admires their piercings, flashes her 5 tatoos, and asks to take a photo with them! She rocks!!!! She was so in her element here.

Anyone who doesn't know my mom would think that I was kind of tough on her in this post. But, if there's one thing my mom didn't put up with, it was insincerity and fake praise. She liked to keep it real, and so do I. She would read this and know how much I loved her, for who she was. I miss having her around, and I get lonely for a mom sometimes, but I'm grateful for the gospel, that reassures me that there is a way to see her again. We are not sealed as a family, but I've done my mom's temple work, and I'm pretty confident that there will be a way to hug my mom again. And I'm happy to know that she is experiencing true, unconditional love from someplace much better than here. Her journey here was always a rough one. I'm glad she can rest from that, now.

Thanks for listening to me ramble. I just needed to talk about her to someone and you all got stuck on the reading end.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Celebrate National Adoption Month

The Following is an article that a friend sent me and I thought it was worth posting. Adoption changes lives and is so much a part of who I am. I thought that this statement from the leaders of my church was cool (the First Presidency is our prophet and his counselors):

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

Goldilocks lost her locks!

Before (without straightening or anything)

The back view of before
After the CHOP!

The hair stand alone. (10 inches)

The final product! Woo Hoo!

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!