Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Pirate Christmas

Well, I'm not sure if the pirates have stolen Christmas or they're just in Christmas denial. My children were watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on Disney and the episode was all about Winter Treasure Day. Now in case you're unfamiliar with Winter Treasure Day as I was, let me share with you what I discovered. Winter Treasure Day is celebrated some time in winter when there is plenty of snow. Presents are given to friends and loved ones while they enjoy a decorated Winter Treasure Day tree. Hmmm..what a novel idea.

So, I asked my two daughters what Winter Treasure Day is, and they both said (with an added tone of "Duh! Mom!"), "It's Christmas!" I wondered what other pirate holiday knowledge these girls had. "Why don't they just call it Christmas then?" The profound answer they gave (again with the "Duh! Mom!" tone), "Because they're pirates!" Oh, right. I forgot that pirates can't celebrate Christmas even in a cartoon. It's just not PC enough for those scurvy pirates.

Friday, December 16, 2011

You Too!

Have you ever been at the concessions at the movie theater, and when the attendant tells you, "Enjoy the movie," you say, "You too!"? I've also done this at the airport. "Enjoy your flight." "You too." Then you realize two minutes later as you're already walking away that that didn't make any sense. It's that automatic response to "Take care", "Have a nice day", etc.

Today when my little two-year-old Forest was headed downstairs to play with his sisters, I told him, "Have a good time." And he yelled back, "You have a good time, too, Mama!". Adorable! And the best part is that he sincerely meant it. It wasn't an automatic "you too" but a sincere little child's thoughtfulness. I love that boy! I'm pretty sure I have the best kids on the planet.

Speaking of my amazing children, I can't believe how fast they're growing. Maija turns 7 in a month. Rebekah turns 5 in three weeks, and Forest turns 3 in three months. Kiira will be 18 months old on January 2nd and will start attending nursery at church. I'm a little nervous to take her to her well-child check-up because she isn't walking independently yet. I'm trying not to worry about it too much, but we'll see. She has taken a few steps on her own and cruises all over the place as long as she's holding on to something. Anyone ever had a late walker? Like 18 months old or older late?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Good But Not Too Good

"That’s way too much earnestness for the ironic. It’s way too much idealism for the cynical. And it’s way too much selflessness for the self-absorbed."

I was reading an opinion piece here about why Tim Tebow's religiosity bothers so many people. I'm not one for getting in people's faces in general, and I'm not sure I would be so out there with my religion. However, I find it fascinating that Tebow's expressions of faith are considered controversial and cause such a visceral reaction.

It makes me think of a couple of friends of mine. One is an extremely generous person who is always thinking of others and doing kind things, usually anonymously. The other friend is very fun to be around and extremely quick-witted, but generally gives only to her closest friends and family. I don't want to judge my second friend too harshly, because I'm not sure that I'm any better than her in this regard. However, it happened that one day the generous friend had something that she decided to share anonymously with a woman whom she didn't know well but thought she needed cheering up. Our funny friend found out about this and angrily confronted my generous friend, "How could you give that to her?!? You barely know her. You always do this! Did you stop to think that maybe your good friends wanted that? You are so selfish!"

My generous friend was floored. She couldn't understand why she was accused of being selfish for doing something kind. She confided in me that not only were her feelings hurt, but she lost a lot of respect for our funny friend. I realized that our friend's reaction most likely was not about the actual thing my generous friend shared, but more of a reaction to her kindness in general. I think it made her feel guilty. I think my funny friend felt all of her flaws were being pointed out every time our generous friend did something generous.

I share this because I think that is part of the problem many have with Tim Tebow's expressions of his religious faith. It's a slap in the face to see someone actually striving to live their faith. It's the same reason that heroes in today's movies and TV shows always have major character flaws; nobody can really be entirely good. Everybody has skeletons in their closet. Everyone does bad things. Nobody can really live a life of high moral values. It's not realistic, and it's just downright offensive if somebody does it. At least, that seems to be the current view in our society. You can be good, but not too good.

Within the Mormon culture, I've seen this same pattern. Yes, you should keep the commandments, but don't be so obvious about it. Don't make me feel bad if I choose to do a few things wrong. You're the one who has the problem because you're just too good, or you're just trying to appear to be that good. I've met many a member of the church who believes that the only reason anyone would strive to keep all the commandments is to impress everyone else. What's interesting is how much these reactions reveal about the person having them. Which leads me back to Tim Tebow. The only reason his religiosity bothers people so much is because it reveals to them so much about themselves, and they don't like that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Times and Seasons

When my first child Maija was born and I was home with her pretty much full time, I felt like with this blessing of a beautiful baby girl also came a new kind of challenge I'd never experienced before. I felt like I would never have any freedom ever again and that my whole existence revolved around feedings and diaper changes. It's that fog that a mother goes through with every new baby, but with the first it's the scariest because you don't know yet that at some point you will get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time.

It was during this newborn fog that I complained to my mother about my feelings of isolation and lack of freedom. My mother said a very wise thing to me. She told me that there are times and seasons for everything and the day would come when my children would be older, and I'd have the time and freedom that I missed so much. That thought has gotten me through many a difficult day of crying children, constant messes, and unending diaper changes.

One of the things that I gave up in order to focus on having, adopting and raising babies was my career as a teacher and future professor. I was a PhD student in Education when Maija was born and after a year of struggling to continue the program (and after being told by one of my professors that I had no business having babies while I was getting a PhD...story for another day), I finally decided to quit the program. Although there were a lot of things that led me to quit, the primary reason was my desire to have children and raise them myself. Several friends and family members tried to convince me to continue, but once I prayed about it, I knew it was the right decision for me. Although it was a painful experience, it ended up being a blessing for our whole family. I know now that if I had stayed in the program we would never have had Rebekah because of the pressures to not have children while in school.

Have I ever regretted my decision? No. Have I given up on being an educator and getting my PhD someday? No. Because I know that there are times and seasons for everything. Now is my time to raise my four little children and focus on being a mother. The day will come when I will have the time and freedom to continue school if I so choose. And, interestingly I have been slowly and almost imperceptibly moving into a new season with my children now that my baby is almost 18 months and we have no plans for any more babies (see my previous post here for more on that.). For the first time in six years I am teaching again as a substitute teacher, and I'm loving it. I'm able to pick and choose when and how much I work, and I can still be home most of the time with the kids. I feel blessed to be a mother and blessed to be a teacher again. I can see now that my mother was exactly right. Nothing ever stays the same, and we don't have to be or do all things at once. As women, we can have it all, but it doesn't have to be all right now!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Subliminal Baby


I had a truly frightening experience last night. I was visiting a friend who just gave birth to her third child a month ago. Her baby girl is absolutely beautiful. I was holding her (the baby, not the friend) and she looked in my eyes and smiled. That's when things got really scary. She started cooing at me, and I thought to myself, "I could do another baby."

What in the world? My baby is only 16 months old and is just barely walking and talking. I still have 2 kids in diapers and only one of my four children is in school all day. What kind of subliminal power did this baby have that caused such a crazy thought to enter my mind? Of course, I could never mention my scary experience to my husband; I'm pretty sure he would go catatonic. Please don't misunderstand me. I love my four babies, but I am so ready to get past the diapers, high chairs, bottles, urine, poop, and carseat phase. When we adopted Kiira, we both felt like our family was complete. And I think it is. Which is why my experience last night scared the crud out of me.

This reminds me of a study I read about years ago. Researchers found that when they showed women pictures of babies, their pupils dilated. However, they did not find the same reaction in men, although men's pupils did dilate when shown pictures of women. Go figure! I really do think that there is a biological reaction women have to babies. But, as sweet and beautiful as my friend's baby is, I was happy to have her smile and coo at me and then hand her back to her mommy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

8 Blissfull Years and Counting




Okay maybe not everything has been bliss in the last eight years. We've had our share of trials and challenges (hello, 4 kids in 5 years!) but at least the marriage part has been pretty close to blissfull. I'm so grateful to have married the best man I know. I'm not just saying that for the blog. Kent really is an amazing man, father and husband. I lucked out. Here's to many more years of traveling life's road together and beyond.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Colorado - Families Supporting Adoption


I am excited to be a guest blogger at the Colorado Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) blog. I'll be writing once a month. My first official post is about open adoption and the hesitation some people have about openness with their children's birth parents.

"To Be Open or Not To Be Open"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why We Adopted Black Babies

Any adoptive parent can tell you that adoption related questions are often the most intrusive, insensitive and outright rude. That's not to say that other parents haven't experienced the rude comment or two from an occasional stranger. But, with adoption for some reason people often think they have carte blanche to say or ask whatever the heck they want.

I've been asked more times than I can count if my two adopted children are my "real" children (I change their poopy diapers and rock them to sleep at night, so I REALLY am their mother), if they are siblings (they are now), how much did they cost (how much did your c-sections cost?), do my two biological children accept them (huh? as much as any siblings accept each other, whatever that means), but the most jarring question I've been asked repeatedly is why we adopted black children. To be clear, I've been asked that by both white and black people.

It is a loaded question. Sometimes it's loaded with accusations or mistrust. Sometimes it's loaded with curiosity or ignorance. Sometimes it's loaded with racism. The answer to that question is even trickier. We did not set out to adopt black children; we set out to adopt children. When the agency asked us what race of baby we wanted, we said, "It doesn't matter. We just want the child that is meant to be in our family." We filled out our homestudy paperwork, did our fingerprints and background checks, said lots of prayers and waited to be chosen by a birth mother. Why did our children's birth mothers pick a white family for their children to grow up in? As much as people may want a logical straightforward answer, the REAL answer is that God led us all to each other.

The first time our adoption agency talked to us about Forest, the strongest, warmest feeling flooded my heart and I knew he was meant to be our son. We had just said no to the agency the day before about a white baby boy, not because he was white, but because it didn't feel right. He wasn't our boy. Forest was our boy, and even though we both felt so strongly that he was meant to be with us, his birth mother didn't pick us. We were disappointed and confused. Three days later, she delivered Forest and chose us to be his parents. We both cried when we got the phone call and eleven hours after his birth we were holding him in the hospital.

Kiira's story was different but just as beautiful. Forest was only 9 months old when I began having very strong feelings that there was another baby meant to be in our family. I was terrified to tell Kent, and he pretty much thought I was insane at first. But, after several days, he came back to me and said he had prayed about it and that I should go ahead and contact the agency. Kiira was born nine months later and after 2 failed placements. Nine months later. That meant that when I had the impressions that there was another baby, she had just been conceived. Kiira's birth mother chose us 2 weeks before Kiira's birth and being with her and her/our baby in the hospital was a spiritual experience.

There is a plan that is greater than all of us. God works in all of our lives to bring us to where and with whom we need to be. We adopted black babies because Forest and Kiira were meant to be in our family and they are black. Their blackness has enriched our lives in ways we never could've anticipated, and more importantly the essence of who they are, their spirits, have completed our family. None of us would've been who we were meant to be without them, and they will become the people God plans for them to be because of our being together.

I think most people who ask why we adopted black children are looking for a race-based answer or at least a racial justification. The honest answer, however, is spiritual and more than just skin-deep.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Follow-up: Why Saudi Women Need Drivers

I just read THIS article that the Saudi Arabian woman who was set to receive 10 lashings (see previous post) as punishment for driving has been released and the punishment rescinded. Good news.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Saudi Women Need Drivers

It seems my interest in the Saudi Arabian justice system is becoming a repeated blog topic for me. As I mentioned in 2 previous posts here and here, I lived in Saudi Arabia two times so my interest is more than casual. My experiences living in the middle east and in other parts of the world give me perspective on many issues we deal with here in the United States, especially as they relate to our individual freedoms.

A couple of months ago I wrote about several brave Saudi women who were audacious enough to DRIVE!! The nerve! That's right. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, so they must either have male family members take them everywhere or hire personal drivers at several hundred dollars a month. No soccer moms there, maybe soccer drivers, but the point is that it is a really really bad idea to drive in the country if you're a woman unless you're willing to go to jail. That's exactly what happened to the women who decided to drive in protest.

Now one of the women, Shaima Jastaina, will receive 10 lashings by whip for driving without permission. One of the religious mufti who enforce religious law in the country said about the ban on women's driving, "It's for women's good.". Apparently it's to protect them from having too much freedom which would lead them to sin. I have to say if there's anything that has led me to sin, it hasn't been driving a car. Sometimes my car was my escape from a questionable situation. And now that I'm a mom, staying home in isolation with no means of escape would be much more likely to lead me to do something crazy than being able to get in my car and just drive. Although having a driver sounds swanky, I often find driving therapeutic, except for driving in Korea which is a story for another day.

The Saudi ban on female driving applies to foreign women, too. Yes, my mother had to use a driver who was shared with other foreign women at my dad's company. Imagine the scheduling nightmare, just saying. No impromptu trips to the store or last minute errands. My mother handled all of that pretty well considering she had 3 children and my dad was gone nearly half the time on business trips. Her attitude was that we were guests in the country and we had chosen to be there. True enough, but for Saudi women this is a way of life not a two- year stint in some exotic country.

If you'd like to read more about this wave of Saudi women taking to the streets, you can read this article from the Associated Press and this previous post on my blog Suffrage Saudi Style

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why I Still Feel Like I'm Faking It

It all came out in a torrent of words, tears and emotions. It had been a tough couple of weeks with the kids and trying to keep up with everything. When my husband made a comment about doing the dishes so they don't sit overnight, I lost it. He wasn't suggesting that I do the dishes; he was offering to do them. But, to me it sounded like a very loud, "Can't you even keep up with the dishes?"

In the outburst that followed, I said something that keeps coming back to me. I was going on and on about the hard week I was having and how I spend most of my time and energy just keeping our four young children fed and alive. And then I blurted out, "I don't know what I'm doing! I don't know how to do this right.". After four babies in five years, I don't know what I'm doing? I don't know how to do this mothering thing? Really? What did I mean by saying that? I realized that somewhere inside of me I still feel like the new mom with a two-day-old baby who looks down on her child and thinks, "Is this for real? Am I supposed to know what to do with this child?". I still feel like an imposter. Like one day someone's going to see me for the fraud that I am and call me out, "Hey, you! What do you think you're doing pretending to be a mom?"

The irony of it is that amidst my daily mistakes and piles of things undone, my children actually think I know everything. My oldest, Maija, even asked me recently, "Mommy, do you know everything?". Wow, I'm pretty good at this faking it thing, at least in the eyes of my six-year-old. Unfortunately, I don't know everything nor can I do everything. I'm just hoping that when all is said and done, my children will look back and remember a happy childhood and will be blissfully unaware that I had no idea what I was doing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When...

A good friend of mine once said to me, "The scales are always balanced." We were talking about the difficulties of raising small children. She had a child starting junior high and on the other end of the spectrum her youngest was a year and a half old. Her point was that parenting older children has its own set of difficulties and challenges. No matter what your situation in life or what stage you're at, life will never be without challenges. The scales are always balanced.

How many times have I caught myself thinking, "When he starts walking then at least I won't have to carry him around anymore" or "When she goes to school all day, then life will be easier because I'll have one less child at home" or "When I'm married, life will be easier because I'll have someone to go through life with" or "When I have children then I won't feel such emptiness and life will be easier"? By the way, the latter thought is the funniest to me now. When, when, when... Why do we suppose that one day life will be easier or better? As if life now were so terrible.

I can logically tell myself that life will always have its ups and downs, but for some reason I perpetually have that when in the back of my head. Today was a rough day and my whens went something like this - "When she starts preschool next week then I can focus more on him and he'll be happier so he wont' act out so much, and then I'll be happier. When he is one year older then he'll be able to communicate better and won't get so frustrated." Of course, the underlying "..and then life will be easier" is implied. If only I could remember that the scales will always be balanced. One day when my little ones are teenagers I'll probably look back and wish that my biggest problems were diaper changes, dribbling sippy cups and defiant toddlers. But for now thoughts of when often get me through the hardest days, and I'm not sure I'm ready to give that up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Own Personal Downgrade

As I have been telling my husband lately, I feel very overconnected. In fact if I were any more connected to the digital world, I'd have a neural implant in my brain that has 3G and wifi. Since I got my new iPad a month ago, it's almost ridiculous how much I use it. I'm not sure if it's been a blessing or more of a curse. Then there's my Blackberry which will buzz or ring in concert with my iPad when I get a new email or someone has posted something on my Facebook wall...or even if they've just posted something that remotely relates to me.

As if all this weren't enough, there's texting and now my parents and I have started Skyping now that they're in Finland. I can't deny how totally awesome it was to video chat with my parents and have my kids be able to see them. I even got to see part of their new apartment there. And being hyperconnected definitely came in handy on my recent trip to California driving between my aunt's house and my brother's house in different cities (see the only 2 pics I took below).

But there are some major drawbacks too. It's overwhelming to have so much information constantly at one's fingertips and the constant flow of communication... *ding* a new email, *ding* someone friended me on Facebook, *ding* there's an upgrade for one of my iPad apps, *ding* Kent texts me "Heading home" (my favorite ding of the day!). So... I have decided to downgrade my tech...a little. I'm going back to my old unsmartphone where I get those old fashioned things called phone calls and that's about it...ok, maybe some texting too. And I've been reluctantly turning off my iPad throughout the day so I can deal with the equally overwhelming input from the 4 little people in my life whose alerts are accompanied with cries instead of dings. Ah, the challenges of the 21st century life.

Photos: Drove to Capitola, CA in my brother's convertible Jaguar. Great vacation!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keep It To Yourself

Note: I need to make a few comments before posting this. I actually wrote this 6 months ago but never posted it because i thought maybe it was too harsh. But after hearing about other people's experiences recently, I thought it might be time to just put it out there. Although I'm writing about race issues, I think this applies to SO many other circumstances as well.

I have been avoiding blogging about racial discrimination and plain old ignorance that I've been experiencing lately vis-a-vis my children. But without being specific, because even I am not mean enough to out others who have been ignorant, I'm just going to give some advice to these unnamed people -- keep it to yourself!

If you think it's terrible that my husband and I adopted black children because we're robbing them of their culture, keep it to yourself. If you think that my children aren't my "real" children because they're not the same race as me and my husband, keep it to yourself. If you think that my children will suffer being in a white family, keep it to yourself. And please, please, please most of all, if you absolutely have to say something, say it to me and not to my children who are beginning to understand that the world is not always a friendly place.

I'm not asking for more civility. I'm asking for more silence. I'm asking for a little forethought before blurting out your opinion of my children and our family. I don't go around telling people that their children are cursed or robbed of their culture or not the right color or that they look like animals (yes, this was actually said to me!) In fact, I think we should all, myself included, try to only say nice things about each other's children and families. Because in the end, I know that my black children were meant to be mine just as much as my white children were. God planned it from the beginning, and He does not make mistakes. We humans do make lots of mistakes though, and I know that I'm not perfect by any measure. I think I'm just tired of defending what I know is a beautiful thing and meant to be.

Finally, if you're reading this because you're a friend of mine, and you're wondering if you've ever said anything to offend me, chances are that you haven't. In fact, almost every one of the comments listed above came from strangers or distant acquaintances. Most people have been loving and supportive and kind. Most of my loved ones and friends have given my children, all of my children, lots of hugs and kisses and acceptance. But unfortunately the negative comments often overshadow the good, so seriously people...just keep it to yourself!

Friday, July 8, 2011

For All You Austenites



Yes, I'm blogging at 6:30am which means I'm actually up before 8am. Contain your shock! My father would be proud; he's always harassed me about my night owlish ways. But I digress. I had to share that one of my favorite books Austenland by Shannon Hale is being made into a movie. If you happen to love Jane Austen as I do, you must read Hale's modern take on an Austen-ish tale. Then when the movie comes out, go and see it!

Shannon Hale announced the movie production on her blog Squeetus and you can also read a more official announcement at The Hollywood Reporter. The screenplay is co-written by Shannon Hale and Jerusha Hess (of Napolean Dynamite fame) with Jerusha Hess directing. And Stephenie Meyer will be producing the film. Talk about Mormon girl power!

On a completely different note, we had our first tornado warning, sirens and all, in our new home. It wasn't our first tornado warning experience; our first was at Maija's kindergarten "graduation" (yes, that has to be in parenthesis because seriously...in kindergarten?) back in May. Her school went on lockdown twice within an hour and a half and there we all were crouched on the floor in an elementary school hallway. Yesterday, we were cleaning the house for my parents' arrival, when the neighborhood sirens went off. We woke the napping babies, grabbed the dog and our two older children and headed for the basement. The poor babies were so disoriented and scared. The worst part though was having no idea what was happening and not being experienced or prepared enough to even know how to find out what was happening. We will be buying a weather alert radio soon.

In the end, my parents' flight from Raleigh, North Carolina was diverted to Albuquerque and redirected back to Denver. They arrived so late that they went straight to their hotel. All that cleaning and they didn't even see the perfectly clean house. You know that within the next hour when my kids wake up, this house will be anything but clean. Sigh. But, at least, they get to see their grandparents today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Suomi

Tomorrow (actually today since I tend to blog in the middle of the night) my parents arrive for a visit. I'm excited for them to see our new life in Denver. We've been here for almost 3 months now, and I can't wait to share the things I love about Colorado. I'm also glad that I'll get a chance to see them because they are on their way to Utah to prepare for a mission to Finland.

My mother is from Finland and this will be her first time living there again after 47 years. She has visited several times, but now she's returning to her homeland, to Suomi (Finland), to live and I am so happy to see her come full circle. My mother grew up in a small Finnish town the youngest of two children in very humble circumstances. She told stories of living in a two room apartment which consisted of a kitchen and a second room divided by curtains into quasi-bedrooms. There was no indoor plumbing so she had to use an outhouse to answer nature's calls even in the dead of a Finnish winter. You know those stories that parents and grandparents tell of walking uphill both ways in horrible weather? Well, in my mother's case her stories aren't exaggerations used to humble her children. It's just how things were. As a teenager my mother converted to the Mormon church which later prompted her to move to the United States to attend BYU in Utah.

Fast forward 47 years and my mother's life couldn't be more different in mostly positive ways. That's not to say she wouldn't have had just as wonderful of a life in Finland as she does now, but this was her path and now that path is leading her back to her homeland. This will be my parents' third mission but I think this mission will be the most meaningful to my mother. I'm so proud of her for the woman she is, my Finnish mama. She has taught me how to face life's challenges and how to be an unconditionally loving mother to my own children.

Rakastan sinua Mom.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July 2011

After a difficult night - all 4 kids awake half the night (ugh!) - we finally left the house in the late afternoon for a holiday picnic by the lake. Here are some pics -

Click picture to see slideshow

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Kiira

My baby girl just turned one yesterday. I can't believe how fast it went and I have bittersweet feelings knowing that my last baby is almost not a baby anymore. Happy Birthday sweet Kiira!

Friday, July 1, 2011

We Are What We Eat?

Occam's Razor as it's often referred to states that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. So what is more likely? That the increase in obesity in America is due to pollution or air conditioning ( Study Suggests 10 New Obesity Causes) or the fact that Americans are eating 570 calories a day more than they were 30 years ago (The American Diet Then and Now)? I'm no expert but seriously is it that hard to figure out?

After living overseas several times and losing weight each time (without dieting I might add), it is pretty obvious to me that we just eat more and are less active in the United States than other countries. We're all about conveniences (click here for a hilarious video). Of course my husband and his family are living exceptions to the you-are-what-you-eat principle. My husband eats pop tarts for breakfast, hot dogs and soda for lunch and pretty much whatever else he wants. He's right where he should be on the old weight chart. Hmph! Totally unfair!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Need for Words

Sometimes no words are needed to express how you feel. Check out Kiira in this video.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Look-alikes

I've had people tell me before that Bekah looks like Suri Cruise (as in Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's daughter) but I was taken aback today when I saw this picture of Suri and compared it to a picture of Bekah in a very similar dress. Crazy!

Suri Cruise


Bekah

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Suffrage Saudi Style

Having lived in Saudi Arabia as a young teenager and then again in my early twenties, I was immediately drawn to a news article "Defiant Saudi women get behind the wheel". I often forget what it's like there, even having lived in the country myself, until I read an article like this one.

When my family lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, many of the same laws and religious fatwas existed as they do today, but in general things were a bit more relaxed. As a western teenage girl, it was recommended that I wear the abaya (black robe covering my clothes) and veil, but I didn't always have to. We all knew that whether or not you wore an abaya depended entirely on where you were going and for how long. If you were going shopping in a street market, you'd better wear that abaya and head scarf if you didn't want to be harassed or even beaten; I was never threatened physically myself but I knew of women who had been. On the other hand, if you were going directly to a store with your parents for a quick trip, you could go without the head garb and possibly without the abaya. That is, if you didn't mind being glared at.

My family moved back to the United States in 1986, but they returned to Saudi Arabia in 1992 right after the Gulf War. When I moved there in early 1994, things had changed. There was a shift to the hard right which at the time I didn't understand. On September 11, 2001 of course I did. It was nothing short of a miracle that I was even able to get a visa to enter the country in 1994 as a 22 year old single woman. Although my father was working there, and his company arranged for my visa, a young single western woman was not usually granted entry especially for an extended time. I was thrilled to be able to return to Saudi. I had many happy memories of my time living there a decade before, and I longed to visit the places that meant so much to me: my old school, our house, the city of Riyadh. I missed Saudi Arabia.

As soon as I arrived, I asked my father if we could travel to Riyadh. My parents were then living in Dammam which is quite a distance from the capital city of Riyadh. My father was hesitant and explained to me how hard it would be for him to get permission for me to travel in the country as a single woman. He said he'd have to get special papers allowing me to travel between the two cities as well as documentation proving that I "wasn't a prostitute" as he put it. Even though I am his daughter, I wasn't allowed to share a hotel room with him, and I had to be completely covered the whole trip even during the 4 hour drive from Dammam to Riyadh in the middle of nowhere.

My father did arrange for me to travel with him on business to Riyadh, and I was able to visit my old haunts. I loved being back in that beautiful city. And, it truly is beautiful. I relived so many good memories in that short trip and was grateful for the chance to be there. But, there was also a sadness I had for the changes that had occurred politically. The sense of oppression was palpable to me although I couldn't understand at that time why things had changed so much in 10 years.

Today, however, reading about these brave women getting in their cars, albeit with their husbands as protection, and driving...driving!... something we take for granted every day of our lives...I felt hope that one day the Saudi people will enjoy greater freedom and peace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Boring Housewife

I've been thinking a lot lately about some of the myths that exist in our society. For instance, I'm a Mormon so I must be naive, white, suburban and have little knowledge of the world. I'm overweight so I must be depressed, self-deprecating and hate my body. I'm a stay-at-home mother so my life must be dull, colorless, monotonous and boring. Movies tell me this; television tells me this; magazines tell me this. If I cared at all what society thought of me, I'd be an unhappy person indeed. But, reality never is as simple or stereotypical as movies portray it to be.

My life and I are much more complex than that. I'm a Mormon who grew up moving from country to country where most of my friends were decidedly not suburban, white or even American. Although my weight isn't what it once was, I'm a generally happy person and I can still see the beauty in me when I look in the mirror. And, let me just say now for the record that being a stay-at-home mother is anything but boring. Boring never happens to me. Sometimes I wish it would. My days are filled with glorious chaos and messes and children who say things like, "I'm a superhero princess and I'm saving my kingdom." Not boring.

It got me to thinking about how these myths came to be. I can't even count how many movies I've seen where the boring naive subservient housewife realizes how bored, naive and subservient she is and only finds fulfillment by leaving behind her overbearing husband and nagging children. It seems like we are ever faced with story after story of women whose lives aren't really meaningful until they break out of the confines of motherhood. Who makes these movies anyway? Women who have been stay-at-home mothers and have now "seen the light" that it was all a waste of time? Who are their subject matter experts? Is there some stay-at-home mom they've hired as a consultant to tell them how it really is? No, because most SAMs (stay-at-home mothers) are busy teaching, feeding, listening to, and taking care of their children. In other words, they're not sitting around bored.

I have to add here that I'm not saying being a mother is easy...at all. It is hard work, but that's my point. It's work, and it's filled with never ending surprises and chaos. So, whatever it is, it 'aint boring. For some reason I think it makes people (and I mean people who believe these myths) feel better to think that someone like me must be so miserable and unfulfilled. Or maybe they just have no idea how much is involved in taking care of little children who can't take care of themselves yet. A good friend of mine told me recently that her husband asked her, "Why don't you get a job? It's not like you're doing anything sitting here all day." I won't say the word that popped in my head when she told me he'd said that. But, it shows that he obviously has never spent 24 hours taking care of a 3 year-old boy and a newborn baby (who's nursing by the way.) I doubt my friend is doing much sitting around at all, and I'm pretty sure if you asked her to describe her life, "boring" wouldn't be the adjective she chooses.

So to all you fulfilled, self-actualized, educated, intelligent, talented, interesting, fun and busy housewives out there, just remember that even if they don't make a movie about your life, or your name isn't in lights, you don't make the big bucks or get an annual bonus, your work goes unappreciated, and you're misunderstood -- at least your life isn't boring! And there are little people who are growing up secure and loved knowing you are always there for them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mormon Culture Rant



Time for a little Mormon culture moment. I was reading an article in LDS Living Magazine online about the "hanging out" that seems to be going on with young LDS singles. Instead of looking for marriage prospects by going on one-on-one dates, both single men and women are hanging out in groups. I could write quite a long post about the entire Mormon singles culture since I spent 14 years in that world myself. It is a quirky odd existence and yet fun and entertaining as well... to a point. I definitely saw a lot of the "hanging out" going on, but I also felt like I had my share of dates and serious relationships over the years. Of course, things have changed a lot in the last 8 years since I got married.

Back in the stone age (the early 90's) when I went to BYU for my undergrad there was one aspect of Mormon singlehood that seems to be universal - the non-committal predator looking for a one-night-stand. Now in LDS circles premarital sex is a definite no-no, so a Mormon one-night-stand is really more like a one-night-make-out session. At BYU we called it a NCMO (pronounced "nic-mo"). It was a non-committal-make-out, a NCMO. So I had to laugh when I read in this LDS Living article about a kind of hanging out they call "non-committal-hanging-out". So is that a "nic-ho" (NCHO)? As in "she's such a NCHO."

To quote Carrie Fisher's character in When Harry Met Sally - "Tell me I'll never have to be out there again."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Getting Settled

Whew! Well, we made it through the month long hotel stay. We made it through the move into our new house. Finally, I'm getting a chance to decompress. Of course, there are still plenty of pictures to hang and boxes to open, but we've at least got the furniture in and clothes put away. It's amazing how much is involved with moving especially out of state. It makes me not want to move again for a long, long time.

Our new neighborhood is really nice. Not only is it a nice looking neighborhood, but the people are very nice. We've already met a bunch of our neighbors and have been invited to people's homes for dinner. The kids are making friends with kids at church and also on our street. It helps that the weather here is beautiful right now so everyone is spending lots of time outside including us. Our house has a great front porch, and it's so nice to sit out there and let the kids ride bikes. It really is beautiful here.

Although the climate and people here are great, I have been missing my life in Arizona so much. Truthfully, it's been pretty lonely in the house every day with the kids and not having the friends to call or meet up with. And it's also hard to be away from family when we've been spoiled for so long being close to them. I've done my share of moping but I keep reminding myself of all of the good things about this move. I love our new house. I love the weather. I love the rolling hills and grass. I love that Kent's commute to work is half of what is used to be. There are a lot of things to be happy about.

The kids seem to have grown up so much during this time. Forest has become a real talker. Kiira is crawling like crazy and will turn one in a month! Bekah's temper tantrums have become few and far between (happy day!) And Maija is growing up to be a sweet girl. She's an amazing person. Kent is loving his new job which is much less stressful than his previous job and he's really liking Colorado. We are excited to have a bunch of family come visit us soon. My parents and sister and her husband are all planning a visit in early July, and a few of Kent's family have been talking about coming up too. Can't wait!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Big City

A couple of fun anecdotes from the Mile High City. We've been doing a lot of driving lately as I've been shuttling Maija to and from school in our new neighborhood. We don't actually live in the new neighborhood yet, hence all the road time, but we're hoping to be in our new house next week. I won't bore you with the details of how grueling it has been to drive across the city twice a day...I'm sure you can imagine how fun that is.

No matter how miserable the long drives might get, however, I always get a good laugh when Maija and Bekah see the city's skyline. They'll yell to each other, "Look! It's Big City!" Not the big city or a big city. Nope, it's "Big City" as if that were the city's name. Yeah, you know...Big City, Colorado. It makes me chuckle every time I hear it, and that's at least twice a day.

We are slowly getting accustomed to Big City. The first couple of weeks both Kent and I seemed to be having trouble with the elevation. I was especially surprised when Kent complained of dizzy spells the first few days, and then he said he was getting out of breath just climbing a flight of stairs. He's a pretty fit guy, so I knew something was up (no pun intended). I was also noticing how easily I got tired and out of breath. But, it seems that Big City hasn't gotten the best of us. We've both adjusted and now I'm pretty sure any exhaustion I experience is from living in a hotel with 4 children. That's exhausting regardless of the elevation.

Maija loves her new school (yay!). In fact, she told me she wants to go to this school until she's 13. Considering it only goes up to 5th grade, the only way to make that wish come true is for her to do really badly in school. I don't think I have to worry about that with her. She's my perfectionist child. One of the reasons she loves this school so much is that there are 3 Mayas in her class. They all spell their names differently but pronounce it the same "Maya" and are apparently referred to by their full names, first and last. It's pretty funny to hear kids yell "goodbye" to Maija as we leave the school.

Bekah is still wishing she were back at Mrs. J's preschool. I feel for her because she's had to watch Maija start in a new school, but next week is the last week of classes, so soon they'll both be together again all day long again...a l l d a y l o n g....all 5 of us. I think the altitude sickness is hitting me again.

So, that's the Big City scoop. And for you Arizonans...you'll enjoy hearing that today it was 40 degrees out (fahrenheit) and snowed a little bit.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In The Rockies

We've had a busy week, well a busy month really. On Monday evening we finally arrived in Denver. Although the drive was really long, I have to say that I was amazed at how well the kids (and dog) did. They were so good and either slept or entertained themselves almost the whole way up both on Sunday and Monday. There were only a couple of times when someone was crying which is pretty much a miracle considering all 4 kids are 6 years and under.

I think the biggest help was that we stopped about every 90 minutes or so because someone, including myself, undoubtedly had to go to the bathroom. By the second day I had a little "potty stop" routine down so that we could make the stops as quick as possible. Kent was driving the big U-Haul truck which was towing his little Honda. I think he ended up with the hardest part because he had the toughest driving...no cruise control and never getting over 60 mph. We thought that we would caravan up, but it ended up making more sense for me to speed ahead since I was stopping so much. In the end, he almost always caught up to us while we were stopped here or there.

So, now we're here and we've jumped feet first into getting settled. The morning after we arrived we were meeting with the mortgage guy to buy our new house up here, and then there was the home inspection, and getting Maija enrolled at school for her last few weeks of kindergarten. Then that evening Kent unloaded the U-Haul with a coworker, and I'd say all in all that day was exhausting!!! I was happy on Wednesday morning to not have anything to do. Our hotel room is a two-room suite so we have a family room area, a kitchen, and then 2 separate bedrooms. I wasn't sure how all 4 kids would do sharing a room, but it's worked out pretty well so far....for the most part :-) And we've also had our little dog, Remy, in the room with us. He's also done pretty well. As long as he gets his morning and evening walks every day, he's happy.

Thursday was Maija's first day at her new school where she'll also be attending 1st grade next year. it's located in the neighborhood where we're buying our house, so it's a good way to help her acclimate. I was really worried about how she would do. She loved, loved, loved her school in Arizona and her teacher! We miss you Mrs. Williams! But, so far this school has been great. They gave me and her a tour of the school and made her feel really comfortable. Then I was able to be with her as she met her new teacher and got settled in the classroom before the rest of the class showed up. It was so cute to see the kids come in, and they all surrounded Maija. I could hear exclamations, "The new kids is here!" "This is Maija, the new girl!" "Hi! My name is..." "Are you the new girl?" They all talked at once and Maija was enjoying the attention. When I picked her up at the end of the day, she told me that there are 2 other Mayas in her class and one of them has become her first friend. I'm so glad she's happy. It also helps knowing that she only has 3 weeks of school until summer break, so no matter how it goes, it'll be over soon.

So, have I bored you to death yet? There is so much to say. I was very grateful to my good friend, Sara Schumacher, who just moved up here from our neighborhood in Arizona a couple of months ago. She watched Bekah, Forest and Kiira while I took Maija to school her first day. I was even more impressed that she not only took my 3 kids when he has a 2 year-old and newborn of her own, but she took all FIVE of them to a Relief Society luncheon! That takes bravery; bravery that I don't think I would've had. But, it made my day so much easier, and just knowing that I have one friend here I can count on is so huge!

Tomorrow we will attend our new ward (church congregation). I'm sure there will be plenty of nice people and future friends, but I have to say that it'll be hard to beat our ward in Arizona. We still miss you all very much! I can't even begin to thank everyone who helped out leading up to the move - friends who watched our kids, brought us dinners, let me cry on the phone to them, helped pack up and clean our house, and friends who have already written or called to say they're thinking of us and are we ok? Leaving you and our families behind has been the hardest part of this move.

As for Colorado, I will say that it is gorgeous here and the people are very friendly and nice. Here are a few pictures of our new life here:

The Hotel Where We're Staying:



Our Hotel Room:



View from the Hotel:



The House We're Buying (should be moved in by end of May):



Another View of House:



Basement (Yay!):



Kitchen:




View of Entry (from Kitchen):

Monday, April 25, 2011

We are driving to Colorado with 4 kids and dog in tow. We are almost living in Colorado now...by tonight it'll be official. More details to follow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

103

Having a child with a 103 degree fever in the middle of a move is NOT my idea of fun! Bekah always seems to get high fevers when she's getting sick. Poor girl!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Deconstruction

We are about the business of deconstructing our home and everyday life here in Arizona. This involves things like cancelling the pest control service, cable TV and internet, going through the stacks of papers that have been sitting in a drawer for the last year, and slowly making the rounds to say goodbye to friends and loved ones. Not to mention packing boxes, boxes and more boxes of stuff. This is a painful process and even though 3 weeks sounds like a fast move, it feels very slow. It's like slowly taking off a band-aid; you wonder if it wouldn't be better to just quickly rip it off and be done with it.

This week will be our last in this house. OK, typing that makes me tear up a bit. This is the first house Kent and I owned since we got married. It's the house we lived in when both of our sweet adopted babies came to our family. It's where Maija and Bekah started preschool and now (for Maija) elementary school. It's also where we've had amazing friends, a supportive church community and family within an hour's driving time. That is the hardest part of all.

The good part of this move is Kent's new job. He was hired by a solar company in Colorado called PrimeStar Solar. The job is one that Kent was very excited about and that had potential growth for him in the future. Now it's looking even more promising. On Friday, Kent found out that General Electric just acquired PrimeStar so Kent will now be a G.E. employee. You can read the press release here. This is also significant because Kent will be the 3rd generation in my family to work for General Electric. My grandfather worked for G.E.; my father worked for G.E. his entire 30-year career; and now my husband will be a G.E. guy. Who knows if this will be an entire career or just a few years? But either way, it is a crazy coincidence.

So...one more week to pack up this house then Kent will fly to Colorado next Sunday to start his new job. My mother and I will hang out here with the kids until Easter weekend so we can be a part of the family festivities. And then we'll be loading everyone up in the minivan and heading to the Rockies.

On a final note, I wanted to mention the online auction the Grafton family is having to raise money for their adoption. Be aware that some of the items can only be delivered in Connecticut (where the Graftons live), but there are some nice items that can be shipped and they're also taking straight donations.

http://graftonadoptionfundraising.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 28, 2011

We're Moving

It's all official now! Kent has been in the interviewing and negotiating phase for several weeks, but it's all been worked out finally. We are moving to Denver, Colorado...just in time for the beautiful summer there and avoiding the hot summer here. But, it's also hard to leave the happy life we have here. We both have family here and great friends, and our kids love their schools. Plus all of the logistics of moving in general... it's overwhelming.

We'll be leaving Arizona in 3 1/2 weeks. There is a TON to do between now and then. If I think about it too much, my head feels like it's going to explode! So crazy! At least, staying in touch is easy with the internet. Love live blogging and Facebook!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Long Time No Blog

It's been several weeks since I last blogged. There has been a lot going on in our lives including a trip to North Carolina to visit my parents. We had a very relaxing vacation and the kids loved running around outside every day. The weather was perfect, and my mother had bought the kids little bikes and trikes, so there was lots of riding back and forth on the long driveway. We also got to visit with Kiira's birth mom while in Raleigh.

Here is the month of March in pictures including some from Forest's birthday party:

Forest's Birthday Party

Forest Eating His Cupcake

Our Friends the Fennells Made a Surprise Visit


The Kids Got Hold of my Camera - Maija & Cousin Kennedy

In North Carolina:
My Boy!

Bekah Playing a Huge Chess Game

Laid Back

At the Marbles Kids' Museum in Raleigh

Kiira and Her Birth Mother

Friday, March 4, 2011

Forest Turns 2



How can it be? Forest is already 2 years old and growing up more each day. Wednesday was his birthday and we did a little family celebration (see pics below). Tomorrow we're having his "big" birthday party. I'm so grateful that Forest is our little boy. We love you Forest Jackson!






Forest on his new trike.


"Oh my belly!"


Couple pictures of Bekah in her "Super Rebekah" t-shirt that Aunt Kimberly made for her:


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adorable!!!

I just have to say...I'm pretty sure Kiira is the cutest baby on the planet...seriously. I'm not biased at all.

video

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Am The Queen of Paperwork

Back when I first met Kent I thought I knew what it was to deal with paperwork and red tape. I was getting a PhD in education; I had to do a lot of writing and reading and I figured it would be the most paperwork intensive time of my life. Well, here are a few things I've done since then that involve way more paperwork:

1. Adoption:

I've posted previously about the adoption process, but there is almost no way to describe how much paperwork is involved. To start with there's the 40+ page homestudy document you're supposed to complete...just this can be overwhelming, and that's the beginning of the process. Then you have applications, letters of recommendation, forms, more forms, and even more forms and copies of other forms, but not just any copies, certified copies. Once you're ready for the placement of the baby, then you have paperwork for placement, then legal documents for finalizing the adoption, and on and on. After the adoption is finalized, then you have to get a social security number for the child, an amended birth certificate, etc. All in all, adoption is the #1 most paperwork-intensive thing I've ever done.

2. Welfare:

Anyone who has ever applied for state aid knows how much paperwork and documentation is involved. When Kent and I were both in school, we applied for various kinds of state assistance, and I remember joking with a friend that you had to have a PhD just to get through the application process. And once you have welfare, you have to reapply every 4-6 months. I'm grateful we had the help, but I'm just saying it was a LOT of red tape and paperwork.

3. Taxes:

Of course, we all get to deal with this one every year. Since I do a lot of the finances in our house, I get to do the taxes. The more money we've made, the more involved the taxes. Just finished this one for 2010, and I'm papered out.

4. Medical Bills & Insurance:

If you're like me and have had health problems, then you know how much red tape is involved in keeping track of medical bills, and possibly even more daunting, keeping track of insurance claims. I am a bit on the anal side on this and I track our medical claims every month or more often. I find AT LEAST one major processing error a month; consequently, I have saved our family hundreds of dollars by being on top of this. It also means lots of phone calls explaining that we should only be responsible for X amount of dollars because of X Y Z. I almost always prevail in having claims reprocessed because the insurance company is usually in the wrong. But, ugh! I get tired of this one.

5. My Kids' School:

OK, this isn't nearly as much paperwork as getting a PhD, but who knew that kindergarten involved so much red tape? It seems like almost every day there's another flyer or handout or worksheet that needs to filled out and returned. Most of it is fun stuff like volunteering to help with activities or field trip permission forms. But, it still surprises me sometimes how much paperwork my kindergartener brings home in a week. I guess it's all part of preparing them for the future...where there's plenty more paperwork awaiting them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cairo, Business Trips and Bad Dreams

Doesn't it seem like the world is in a frenzy this last month or so? All of the protests and political upheaval in northern Africa and the Middle East, massive floods and a hurricane in Australia, blizzard after blizzard in much of the United States. The world is in commotion. I remember in the fall of 1999 when I moved to Seoul, Korea there was a similar string of crazy weather and political incidents. I think it's God's way of reminding us how small we really are and who's really in charge. We love to feel like we have control of everything, but one big earthquake or storm reminds us that "having control" is actually an illusion.

I'll have to keep that in mind in the next 2 weeks since Kent is leaving today for a business trip. He'll be gone most of this week and then he's going on another work trip the following week. Anyone who thinks they have control in their lives only has to spend a short time taking care of four small children to be reminded how little control they actually have. There's no controlling the accidents, the arguing, the diapers, the screaming, the whining, the stuffy noses or the general chaos that exists when you're outnumbered 4 to 1. Thankfully, my mother is coming next week, so I really only have to do one week on my own.

I think that all of this commotion both generally and personally are making me very aware of how little control I have in my life. I woke up this morning from probably the worst dream I've ever had. I dreamt that my oldest, Maija, had been kidnapped. It was terrifying, heart breaking, and I ended up thoroughly freaking out my husband who had to calm me down and remind me that Maija was peacefully sleeping in her room. After finally making that transition from nightmare to "Oh good. It was just a dream." I tiptoed into Maija's room. Watching my beautiful girl sleep gave me a moment's peace, and I realized that as long as I have these 5 people in my life, my family, I'll be able to weather the storms and the chaos just fine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Fish Called ?




Yes, I really am blogging about my fish. I can't help it. I'm in awe of this fish. Last Christmas (2009) Kent's brother and sister-in-law gave us a fish tank and 2 bags full of goldfish. We weren't sure if we should be grateful or ticked off, but we set up the tank and dumped in all the fish after we thought we had acclimated them to the new water temperature. Let's just say that over the next couple of days, we were fishing out fish (pun intended) from the tank left and right. The kids were a little traumatized I think. After all was said and done, only ONE goldfish survived.

Fast forward one year and this sole surviving fish is going strong, and what's more the goldfish has gotten huge. I had no idea goldfish could get that big. When I was 10 years old I won a goldfish at a school fair. My mother kindly bought me a little fish bowl where I put Goldie Hawn, yes that was her name, and she lived to a ripe old age of 2 weeks. I thought that happened to all goldfish...which I suppose I was partly right about. I mean, we did lose 19 fish in a matter of days last year. But, my point is that this fish, who remains nameless, is one hardy goldfish and I've grown oddly fond of him/her. Kent even calls him (I think it's a boy. I don't know why.) "your fish", as if I were the one who went out and bought a fish tank and 20 goldfish one day.

So, does anyone have suggestions for a name?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MLK's Dream

Last night our family had a little celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and all he did for Americans of color, and consequently for all Americans. Because our children are so young, we decided to read them a children's book about King's life entitled "Martin's Big Words" by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier. It is beautifully illustrated and so perfect for small children mixing the story of his life with many of his own words.

As soon as I opened my mouth to start our lesson, I started crying, and I cried throughout; Kent had to read the book to the children because I was too emotional. How can I put into words how much the Civil Rights Movement has affected me personally and our family? How can I not shed tears thinking of my children being treated as unworthy and less-than? How do I explain to my little ones that the pure love they have for each other is so uncommon and unknown in much of the world? Maija said it best, "Mommy, thinking of this makes my heart sad. I don't think skin matters except to hold in the insides of our bodies." Couldn't have put it better myself.

Even Kent shed a few tears when he read the following while reading Martin Luther King's own words:

"I have a dream that one day ... little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers."

At least that part of his dream has been fulfilled in a very real way right here in the walls of our home. If only we could all see each other's insides (metaphorically speaking) and be able to love one another truly as brothers and sisters. If only we could see men's hearts as our savior, Jesus Christ, does and truly judge not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Favorites

Whew! We made it through another holiday season. It was a good one, and we were busy with family events and getting over colds, passing it on to my parents visiting from North Carolina. Sorry, Mom and Dad. The kids received way too many presents, but we were happy to see the older ones begin to understand the true meaning of Christmas by doing service for others.

I've posted some of my favorite pictures from Christmas and a few of my favorite quotes from my children.

Maija talking to Bekah in the car: I don't know how Jesus created so many people. I mean, there's like hundreds of galaxies out there.


Maija singing one of her made-up songs to herself: And his name was Jesus Christ. Cha cha cha!
(I don't think I've ever heard "cha, cha, cha" following the Savior's name before).


Bekah who would not go to bed and insisted on sleeping on our bedroom floor: Guys! I'm trying to go to sleep! Can you guys just go to bed!


Some important firsts:


  • Kiira sleeping through the night! Yahoo!
  • Forest saying his first prayer (with help)
  • Kiira starting to eat solids
  • Forest climbing out of his crib


And now the pictures: