Monday, November 25, 2013


We did a really hard thing on Sunday evening. Tears were shed. Mostly mine. I didn't realize how hard it would be. This idea I'd come up with, after weeks of mulling it over, considering our situation, praying, and hoping, is a good idea. I feel it. But when it came down to presenting it to our kids, I felt the weight of taking away something dear, and perhaps breaking hearts. Kid hearts. I hoped otherwise. Still, I cried.

Last night when we gathered as a family. I asked Braeden to tell me what he was thankful for.
He listed Brodie (our cockapoo), his mission call, that his mom makes good food.

Jacob's answer: The most beautiful mom in the whole world. And our new house, Dad's job, and that we live in a great place.

Maren: That her room is finally unpacked and pretty, and that she will get to share it with Sara.

I explained that some things are tremendous blessings. The new house, Braeden's coming mission, Jacob's driving school, the adoption. Christmas. All wonderful things. All things that come with a trade. Good, amazing things we trade for money. And money was tight.

I told them Dad and I had talked about an idea. We decided we weren't going to send out Christmas cards or a family picture this year. We would take the money we usually spend on that and put it into a stocking for Sara. Instead I would write a Christmas greeting and post it on the blog with a picture, and send a link to our family and friends. Also, Dad and I aren't going to get each other Christmas presents, and the money we would have spent on each other will go into "Sara's Stocking." We were also asking extended family members to donate to the adoption fund instead of giving us gifts, because we would rather have Sara than things. We have so many things.

The kids were listening pretty intently now.

I said, "I'm going to ask you to consider something now. I'm going to ask you to do something very hard."
And that's when I saw it click in their eyes, and that's when I began to cry. And I couldn't ask it of them for a couple minutes. Jacob reached over and rubbed my arm. Braeden said, "You can ask us." Maren blinked at me with her huge eyes rimmed with tears.

Brandon nodded at me and I thought, Oh, sure, YOU do this. But it was my idea, and so it was me.

I took a deep breath. "Dad and I are asking you to consider giving up your Christmas presents we would have bought you, and donating that money to Sara's Stocking. I want you to consider using your own money to buy each other gifts or adding that to the stocking, too." I paused. They were still listening. "We would open Sara's Stocking on Christmas morning and see how we did. Then we would celebrate with a delicious Christmas breakfast and do the things we love with things we already have. We can play Rock Band and games and do puzzles and hang out all day."

Tears slipped down Maren's cheeks.
Braeden leaned back. He said, "Okay. I didn't really want anything anyway." Easy for a guy who will soon leave all worldly possessions behind except the clothes on his back. Clothes he already considered a gift.
Jacob nodded and shrugged. "The thing I was going to ask for was way out of range anyway. Let's do it."

I looked at Maren. I could see the tug-of-war happening in her heart. I asked her if she needed some time to think about it. She nodded and wiped a tear. Then she asked the question I knew would come.

"What about Santa?"

Maren is 11 years old. Maren is a believer.

I had practiced my answer, and still a new wave of emotion hit me. I didn't answer "Of course Santa will still bring you the items on your wishlist." Instead, I said, "We'll have to write to Santa and explain things."
And she understood. I held out my arms and she fell into them, crying softly.
"There's still magic," I promised.
"Will he still come if we put out cookies?"
I nodded.
"Will we still get candy in our stocking?"
"Yes," Brandon said. "Maybe he'll bring something for Sara's Stocking."

Maren pulled away and wiped her face. "Can you write a letter on the computer?"
I shook my head. "I think you should write it, honey, by hand."
She nodded and her eyes brightened. "I have been practicing my cursive."

And I knew. I knew it would be okay. I knew I had some of the best kids in the world.

She came down from getting her jammies on wearing this hat.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Halloween Party 2013

You would think that with moving into a new home we would be posting pictures of our new home. I'll have to do that soon. After I take some pictures. And unpack. And decorate.

In the meantime, we were able to attend the annual Family Halloween Party for the first time since 2005! We have really missed this party, mostly because my family LOVES Halloween and goes all out. Everyone has been super busy this year (3 of us siblings moved or are in the process of moving into new homes in the last 2 months) so we simplified a bit, but it was a fun, happy evening for all!

Hey, Neighbor.

Lots of cousins!

I was a moving box. This is how I looked when I was eating my food.

Brandon, eating his food. :)

Cody Family Photos

After our last Sunday in Cody we went out back and took pictures. We didn't know when all of us would be together again, but figured it would be a few months. Chelsea's baby is due November 7th, so probably then. Those will be different kinds of pictures! So here a re a few gems in front of my favorite tree in the yard.

Hooray for being all together! Can't wait until it happens again. With a new little member of the family!

Saying Goodbye

Before we left Cody, our home of 7 years, our friends threw us a get-together to say goodbye. It was fun to see everyone and consider what they've meant to me and to our family. It was also where I was reunited with Brandon after 2 months apart. I wondered how he would react but he gave me a huge hug and kiss in front of everyone so that was pretty amazing. :) Sadly, I remembered the camera after most people had left, but here are a few pics of our dear Cody family. You were our home away from home, our warmth in the long, cold winters, and our smiles when things got tough. I miss you very much and will always be grateful to have lived among my friends in such a wonderful place!

The boys being boys.

Todd, Jamie, and Todd

Claire, Julie, Norma, Jeff

Matt and Chelsea, who came up and surprised us!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


My cousin, Cassi, who is adopting from South Africa, sent me this link to a moving speech given at the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit 9. This is Carissa Woodwyk, an adoptee, and an eloquent woman. I was very touched by her words, by their spirit, and by their naked truth.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


We sold the house. We. Sold. The. House. WE SOLD THE HOUSE.

The house has sold.

Hooray! Lots of packing. I'm getting lots of help from friends who find an hour or two in their day to come over and chat while we box up our lives. I have such good friends here in Cody. I will miss them the most.

Maren, Braeden and I were able to drive down and visit our oldest daughter, Chelsea, and her husband, Matt a couple weekends ago. This summer has been all about selling the house and coordinating the move, and with Brandon and Jacob already in Washington, our summer break has been a bit of a bummer. It was so fun to go down to Provo and spend a few days with this bunch and relax, laugh, and play. And Chelsea gave me a special birthday present. A super-cute scarf and a donation to the adoption fund. Love. These. Two.

Also, we received this in the mail:

This is anonymous. We have no idea who sent it. We are so grateful and touched and amazed. What wonderful examples of selfless generosity and goodwill. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Last Friday my son, Braeden, received his mission call for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When the kids apply, they have no idea where they'll be assigned. There is a place on the form for them to list any considerations to take into account. Braeden listed that his dad had taught Spanish for 11 years and so that language is a part of our home, and that we are adopting a sister from China. He and I joked about how he should put down that he does a  great Russian accent and he's dabbled in teaching himself Russian, but he didn't put it down. :) Still, I knew that would be his top choice: to go where he could learn and teach in Russian.

So when he read the call, we flipped out. In a good way. He has been called to serve two years in the Baltic Mission (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus), and the Latvia Mission region, Russian-speaking.

He is thrilled, and we are thrilled for him. He leaves January 15. He'll be able to see his new baby niece (due in November), we will be all moved and settled, and hopefully, everything will be squared away with the adoption and we'll just be waiting for travel plans. We have lots to do to get Braeden ready to go, but that seems par for the course these days! We are so thankful and happy. And I will cry later.

We are behind on the adoption paperwork simply because we have to be settled in Washington to continue. But I'm doing my best to see that once we get there and into our new house we can hit the ground running. The more I study and read about adopting, and the more I consider Sara, the more eager I am to go get her. We are being led and I can't help but follow.

Meanwhile, Brandon has been handling the purchase of our new home in Yakima. I love our new house! We hope to coordinate the closings here and there very soon, and get our family all under the same roof again.

Oh! And Chelsea started her own cute blog! Go take a look and see the countdown for my little Carly!

Grin and Bare It

Counting our blessings.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Searching for Realities

I've been studying and learning as much as I can about adopting an older child. I've mentioned before that I'm a little scared about the adoption. This doesn't mean I'm afraid of pressing forward. I feel gently pulled forward to bring this child home to us. Not even when the job change came up or the move, or the coming grandchild was joyfully announced, did we hesitate in our decision. We are excited, eager, hopeful, impatient. And a little scared.

I've also said that I'm not naive enough to think that this adoption will be a wonderful transition, that Sara will love to come home with us because she understands what it means to leave her foster family of seven years, what it means to get in a car with very American-looking strangers she can't understand and go sleep in a hotel room with them and tour around her city with them, and then say good bye to that city, that language, that culture, get on an airplane for the first time, watch her home disappear beneath clouds, and be greeted at the airport by more strange-looking American people who want to touch and hug and shake hands. And then to start a new life. At the age of eleven. I remember eleven. I felt pretty grown-up. Like I had a pretty good handle on things. Nobody had to come take me out of my world and set me down somewhere where everything felt wrong-side out. I was born into a family and had love and trust and bonding and from the very beginning, I knew my place. I don't know how much of this Sara has felt.

So when I say my biggest concern is that I can know how to be a good parent for her, I mean I know my parenting skills with my four biological children will give me a foundation for who I need to be for Sara. Each of my biological children are very different, were different as infants, toddlers, kids, teens. Each of them needed different things from me as much as they needed me to be constant, consistent. And with Sara, I'll need to be different, and the same. And going in knowing what to expect, knowing the possible challenges and joys, is why I've been reading and searching for all outcomes.

In my search I found this haunting and beautiful analogy of what it can mean to be an orphan: "Imagine" on The Bergey Bunch blog.

I've come across many adoption blogs about infant/toddler adoptions, generally fun, and many on older "aging out" teen adoptions, generally unnerving but encouraging, but not very many on 10-11 year old adoptions. It is such a time of limbo, between childhood and the teenage years. The "Tweens." Our youngest daughter is 11 and depending on the day (and looking at clothes has a lot to do with this, I've noticed) she either doesn't "want to grow up ever" and "hates growing up" or wishes she were "older" and "cant wait to" do stuff. I laugh. She mostly laughs. Sometimes she cries. I remember. It's tough. But it's also very sweet and fleeting.

So as I read the posts about older teen adoption (13-14) and younger, I try to place a 10 year old girl with a possible 3rd grade, maybe 2nd grade education, who doesn't speak English, and has not been taught the same way I have taught or have been taught, try to place her in my heart, in my sympathies, in my resolution, in my toughness and my tenderness. I try to expect whatever she comes with, which may be very unexpected. Just as my other kids came with whatever they came with, and we took them and loved them and dealt with it and rejoiced in it. And just like Chelsea, Braeden, Jacob, and Maren, Sara will be different, and need differently. And need the same.

I pray a lot.

Ni shi bao bei.
You are so precious.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Little Miracles, Big Cookies

The Yard Sale/Adoption Fundraiser was a ton of work, but worth it. The bake sale alone brought in $80. Those giant cookies sold all day. I wish I had a picture of the smiles on Maren and her friend Alyssa's faces as they handed customers their cookies or their change, or when the customers said, "Keep the change for your China girl." 

All the big things sold. Tons of the little things sold. It was a hub of bargain-hunting activity. At the end of the day we had made, what I believed, was enough to cover our next adoption fee installment.

But I was wrong.

Because I had thought the next installment was $700. So when I was going through our Dossier papers, due today, making sure we had all the documents, checking them against the mailer list, I had a nagging feeling I'd missed something. That $ number seemed too low.

I did check. And then I sent an email to our Dossier Specialist. And she affirmed my nagging feeling. The installment due was $700+$1500. Two payments for different things, due at the same time.

My heart sank and I broke down in tears. Had the house sold already as we hoped, this wouldn't be an issue. But it hasn't yet. We are between jobs. We are keeping our credit lidded because we need to qualify for a loan to buy our next house. We knew it was a risk. We were willing to take it. So we are using cash for everything. Including the adoption.

I know this is a bit personal, but I needed to share.

Because when I counted everything up, I was floored. The yard sale brought in just under $1500! This was incredible, and I was so grateful. I had not expected to bring in that much!

But it was not enough. And I didn't know where we would get the rest. I fell asleep crying, and praying.

When I woke up the next morning I remembered that we had a payment coming from selling our old truck. Our friends had bought the truck but didn't need it right away, so were letting us use it until the move. I made a call, and the payment was delivered without issue.

Which gave us enough to pay the adoption fee in full and on time.

So thank you. Thank you.

Xie xie.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yard Sale & Adoption Fundraiser

This Saturday is our big ol' yard sale/fundraiser. Seven years of accumulation spread out in front of our house for the whole world to see. Not the whole world. A portion of it. A teeny, tiny, little--okay you know what I mean. I have a lot to do, of course.

So I'm blogging.

Included in our Yard Sale of the Decade (really because I don't want to do this again soon) is a Bake Sale, run by my 11 year old who makes the best cookies around. We will have Mrs. Field's recipe cookies, my famous lemon bars, peanut butter bars, and some mini loaves, if I didn't already pack my mini loaf pan . . . hmmm. But a nice assortment of baked goods will be for sale.

We will also have an array of hand-sewn items made by me. Featured are the jewelry rolls everyone seems to LOVE. They are pretty great. These are a smaller version I made up. Four vinyl pockets in stead of six, and narrower. But still the same length to hold your necklaces in the large pocket after you've clasped them around the ribbon band at the top. See all the pretty colors I'm working on? Fabulous gift item, folks. I will also have a few pretty skirts and aprons to sell as well. 100% of the profits from these items will go toward the adoption. My sister, Shelli, even donated most of the gorgeous fabrics I'm using.
large 22.00 (includes S&H)
small 17.00 (includes S&H)

ALSO, I will have a book signing table with copies of OF GRACE AND CHOCOLATE (Whitney Award Finalist 2012) and THE ORCHARD (just out this year) for sale. I will even sign them for you if you'd like. You can click here for more information on these books. A large portion of my sales earnings will be going to the adoption, so you really are supporting two dreams when you buy a copy or two of my books at the sale or at bookstores or online. And thank you!

Well, I've got to get back to work. After all the hub-bub dies down I will be posting more about Kickyloo hand-sewn items for Christmas ordering, so keep that in mind for your holiday shopping!

Xie xie ni.

Thank you.