Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wishing for Summer!

Photo: www.heraldextra.com
Payson, UT January 2013
As the snow keeps pouring down on us in Utah, I'm dreaming of the upcoming spring and summer. It can't get here fast enough!! I cannot remember this much snow in the 9 winters I've lived here. Is it just me? Or has there been more snow and more sickness this winter in years?

I'm enjoying lots of indoor activities with Kal (being all domestic and learning to bake and craft and everything!) and Zay and I get out of the house often for Date Night, but I sure do miss outdoor activities. Outdoor activities that don't leave me frozen to the bone! Last summer was so much fun - I had no work, no school, and a 1-year-old to explore the world with. It was amazing. Can't wait for the winter to be over.

This summer will be even better, I'm sure of it. It HAS to be! I will appreciate every second of it. I can't wait for a chance to lay out on the grass and look at the clouds... go to water parks... go swimming... hiking again. I need SUN! Ha ha. If I get anymore pale, I'll be translucent!

Here's some pictures I took on one of my many cloud-gazing days last summer. I remember thinking that they were the prettiest clouds I'd ever seen. I said to Zay, "Have I just not noticed how gorgeous the clouds are before? Because these things are blowing my mind right now!" Ha ha ha. I came to the conclusion that if you're too busy to enjoy how gorgeous clouds are, then you are TOO busy. I've been too busy up until last year, I guess.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Adoption: The Waiting Game

Photo: www.http://catholiccafeconleche.wordpress.com

A big chunk of the time you spend "adopting a child" consists of waiting, and waiting, and waiting. First paperwork, then waiting. This is true whether you want to adopt through an agency, whether domestic or international, or even adopting through Foster Care (where there is an immediate need for families to open their homes to children). It all takes time.

We've already had a lot of waiting with trying to fill out the paperwork and then waiting to be approved. Now we're waiting to be matched.

It takes time to match adoptive/foster families with the children who would be right for their home. And with older kids, it takes more time to find a home in which they will thrive and feel like they fit in and are loved. And in our case, we are adopting domestically through an agency, most likely getting a newborn... and the "waiting time" is because we are waiting to be matched with birth parents (usually before the baby is born or shortly thereafter).

In America, there's a big emphasis on letting birth parents choose the families that their child will go to. Agencies give them access to "parent profiles" (like our adoption profile on the LDS Family Services website) to choose a family from. They can meet with as many families as they'd like before they make a decision. They can pick a family at any point during the pregnancy or after they've already had the child.

One thing that is discussed in the matching phase is the level of "openness" you want in an adoption. Open adoptions are becoming more and more common, in which birth parents and adoptive parents exchange identifying information, letters, pictures, visits, and treat each other like family (which they are). That, to me, is what an open adoption is. But the actual definition of "open adoption" can vary from situation to situation and may only include meeting the adoptive couple once, knowing their first names, and/or communicating by letter through the agency.

From our side of things, we are waiting to be "chosen." You really never know how long it will take to find that right match. If you're too "picky" about what preferences you have for the child you want, you might wait longer. If you already have kids, you might wait longer. But there's not much you can do to make it go faster. You just have to wait and find peace with that. This is one reason infertility is such a devastating blow to anyone wanting to have kids. If you're super fertile, you can time when you want to have kids almost down to the month. If you're infertile, you have no control. None. It is out of your hands. There really is only so much you can do.

>>insert terrible feelings about infertility here<<

Once a perfect match is found (based on what the birth mom is looking for and what the adoptive couple is looking for), there's more waiting! Sometimes the baby isn't born yet, so there's still more pregnancy to go through first. If that's the case, the birth mom has all the way up until the baby is born to change her mind. She can change her mind about what couple she wants to place the baby with. She can change her mind about adoption completely. If this happens, you're back to waiting for another match. Only after the baby is born can the birth mom sign away (relinquish) her parental rights. Then the child is placed with the adoptive parents, sometimes at the hospital, sometimes at the agency's office, or wherever everyone has decided to meet and have "Placement Day."

Depending on the state's laws, there is a time period after the birth mom signs the relinquishment papers in which she can still change her mind, called the revocation period. So, more waiting! (This applies to birth fathers too, but sometimes they can relinquish well before the baby is born.) We live in Utah, but we adopted from Georgia. Georgia's revocation period was 10 days. We knew that beforehand, so we were prepared to have to wait 10 days there (just in case birth mom changed her mind).

If you end up adopting out-of-state, you can't leave the state you're in with that child until the two states have communicated about the adoption and you are given permission to leave. That's called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). You can't just willy-nilly pick up a baby and get on a plane with them, even if you're adopting them. Lucky for us, it only took 10 days to be cleared to leave the state... and that coincided with the revocation period, so we were expecting to stay for at least 10 days anyway. Depending on which states are having to do the communicating, ICPC can go fairly quickly or take a few weeks. Also lucky for us, we were adopting from a state where we had family. Many adoptive couples fly to another state to adopt a baby and don't know anyone, so the first few weeks of having a newborn are spent in a hotel.

Then, after you're home with your newborn... depending on the state, you can't finalize the adoption until after the child has been with you for a certain amount of time. For us in Utah, it was 6 months. It's a supervisory period. Our agency "checked in" on us to make sure the adoption was going smoothly. So, more waiting! (I'm not sure what could happen in those 6 months. The adoptive parents would have to be doing something severely wrong or they would have to decide they didn't want to adopt the child anymore or something. I doubt this happens very often.) After that period, you can finally go to court and have a judge issue an adoption decree stating the adoptive parents are the legal parents with all the rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.

This is what we have to look forward to. Don't be surprised if you ask how things are going and I say, "Still waiting." Ha ha. Please ask, though. I love when people take an interest in our journey. I promise you won't hurt our feelings. :)

With all this said, we are keeping busy and not really thinking about the wait. Not anxiously thinking about it anyway. The longer we wait, the longer we'll have to prepare, right? I'm cool with that. We're just going about our lives as if we're not going to adopt anytime soon, but getting prepared as if we are... if that makes any sense. Ha ha.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blog Hop: My Favorite Quote

This is a post for Open Adoption Bloggers' Blog Hop! Head over to see what everyone else had to say. :)

The question this month is: What is your favorite quotation? 

Well, there are lots of quotes I absolutely love. I don't even know how to pick just one favorite. Just look over there on my sidebar --> where I keep track of awesome quotes I hear that mean something to me (or Zay) throughout our adoption and parenting journey. I add to it all the time.

If I had to highlight just one, I would go with the one that has driven me lately:

"Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home." -- Julie B. Beck, BYU Women's Conference (talk is found HERE)

"Modern-day Mother in Zion"
Photo: www.twhtsricketyeasel.blogspot.com

It surprises me how much the world will try to tear at your family. When I was young and naive, I thought you get married and you live happily ever after in a state of safety and bliss. Ha ha. Not so.

People don't always value your marriage/family as much as you do.

People don't always value the time you spend with your family like you do.

There are many "intruders" that can try to seep into your home and family and break it down or distract you:
  • Outside responsibilities that intrude upon your time with family, including important things like work and school
  • Addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, *technology,* etc.) that eat away at your ability to be present in your family
  • "Friends" who do not uplift you or encourage you to be your best self or take up too much of your time
  • Over-scheduling and participating in too many "good" things, including Church
  • Toxic emotions, including insecurity, jealousy, or discouragement from comparing your family to others
  • Listening to marriage cynics who don't understand the importance of and the happiness that can be found in marriage
  • Falling victim to "Mommy Wars" - women attacking other women for their choices in child bearing and rearing
  • Uncontrolled mental health issues (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Infidelity - not keeping a close watch on your mind and heart, allowing yourself to be in sketchy situations
  • Ex's, or unresolved/lingering past relationships
  • Extended family who are an unnecessary burden on you
  • Selfishness, laziness, impatience, uncontrolled temper, etc. etc. etc.
  • Anything that contributes to loss of faith and not relying on the Lord
The list can go on and on. Satan has a way of sneaking into even the happiest marriages and the strongest families if we let our guard down. As women, I believe it is our job to defend the home - the place where we nurture our children. Like a lioness. Be fierce about it. Actively seek out threats and eliminate them.

"Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home."

What threats against marriage and the family have you seen lately?

"Our Songs": Early in our Marriage

Valentine's Day has got me listening to lots of good music. :) I already wrote about the 2 songs that remind us of early in our dating relationship HERE (wow, that was 3 years ago when I wrote that!), but I've realized as time goes on that we tie different songs to different points in our relationship. We're always evolving, and music flows right along with our lives. Certain songs can immediately bring back memories from a certain time in our lives with each other.

We were so young when we got married. I wanted to go off to college. Zay was willing to go along for the ride. He sold his Ford LTD (he was so sad about that). We bought a $600 Chevy van from an old lady in town, packed it up with what little possessions we had at the time, and started to drive across the country. We had packed a cooler of sandwiches, as if that was all we would eat for the 3 days' drive. Lol. I remember being disgusted with the sandwiches after a day and we stopped to get pizza. I had a big book of state maps to help us follow the Interstate and get us safely across the 2,000 miles (we had never been west of Georgia before... and Georgia's ON the East Coast, lol).

That van was barely getting 13 miles to the gallon, sometimes not even that. Every time we hit a new state, I would flip quickly to that state's page. We didn't get lost at all. Once we hit the Rocky Mountains, that van was toast. We pulled into the parking lot (finally) of the apartment complex we were going to live in, and I jumped out to check on the tires because Zay said they "felt funny." There was a HUGE bulging bubble on one of our tires, like the whole tire was about to explode. Holy crap! Thank goodness we made it! With no GPS and a crappy cell phone that rarely worked (I remember doubting that cell phones would ever actually be useful, lol)!

We spent the next couple years at that apartment complex, trying to adjust to the culture shock of moving from Georgia to Utah, learning to be married and have our own apartment and pay our own bills, finding jobs, growing up, supporting my college education, being good Church-going people, and trying to keep that van alive. I missed my cats. Zay was sweet and adopted one for me - my Felix. We got kicked out of our first apartment because someone told on us for having a pet. Ha ha.

This was at our first apartment. :)

Felix Bojangles, went missing after we brought the baby home... *SAD*

Looking back, I don't know how we managed to survive so many changes at once and at such a young age. But we hung in there. There were a few songs that stand out in our minds from that time. Songs that we would sing in the van at the top of our lungs. Songs that meant something to us for one reason or another (not necessary "deep" songs with meaningful lyrics, lol). Songs from the happy moments that can always bring us back to a place where we are satisfied and reminded that we can overcome anything together and that our struggles have made us stronger.

First, Daniel Bedingfield's "If You're Not the One." This one always makes me cry, cuz it's so mushy. Zay and I memorized these lyrics so quickly, without even trying. And it's a very wordy song. Lots of lyrics. We didn't really even know the other person liked the song until we both found ourselves singing it at the same time... and trying to hit that ridiculous high note! We still sing it at the top of our lungs today.

Video of Daniel Bedingfield's "If You're Not the One":

Then there's Usher & Lil Jon with "Yeah!" Zay had hooked up the most ridiculously loud speakers in that van... and all the empty space in the back made the music sound CrAzY the way it would vibrate through the whole thing. When I think of that van, I think of this song. And I remember all the good times that van brought us... before we ultimately abandoned it in a parking lot somewhere with the keys in it. Ha ha ha. Hope it brought some homeless person lots of joy too!

Video of Usher & Lil Jon's "Yeah!":

And then there's Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life." We practiced this song for weeks to sing it in a talent show and then we chickened out at the last minute. But we still find ourselves singing as loud as we can (sometimes Zay does the girl part and I do the guy part, ha ha) when it comes on the radio. Very, very good memories. :)

Video of Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life":

So, what are YOUR songs?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentine's Week 2013

Zay had school on Valentine's Day, so we celebrated a little bit here and a little bit there all that week, thinking we wouldn't have much time that day. I didn't think much about Valentine's this year and Zay's been so busy with school, work, and hair clients that I didn't think he'd have time to do anything special.

But it actually turned out to be a pretty dang good week. :)

I went to my friend Kim's baby shower the Saturday before - triplets, yay! (her blog is HERE)

Somehow I've gotta teach Kal that not all parties/gifts are for him.

Soooooo good.

The cutest girl expecting triplets on the block! Lol.

Kal, devouring everything in sight.

So happy for her!

Then we got some new stuff. :) Zay won a copy of "Skyfall" on Blu-ray at work for outselling everybody. We still haven't watched it, but just the fact that he got it for free made me happy and it's been sitting next to the TV in the bedroom ever since then just waiting to be watched.

He also bought me some new exercise/jogging shoes for my gift. (I actually bought him dirt for Valentine's... ha ha. New soil for his bonsai tree.)

Kal modeling my shoes. :)

I like 'em. :)

We bought a washer and dryer. Super happy about this! It was one of the things on my list of "things to do before Baby #2."

We finally got our tax refund with the adoption tax credit from 2011 (yay, money!)... Most likely government cuts are not going to allow the adoption tax credit to be refundable in the near future, so I'm grateful we finalized Kal's adoption the year before they cut it from the budget. Our next adoption will be completely out-of-pocket, so this refund will be paying for it!

And Zay surprised me and somehow managed to take me out for lunch AND dinner on Valentine's Day, even when he was super busy. :)

Dinner at Iggy's!

The little munchkin came with us.

It was too purty not to take a picture first.

I think I was starting to fall asleep here... I look loopy... that's what good food does to me.

Of course Kal hollered and pointed and was mesmerized by the basketball game that was on.

The fam!

How was your Valentine's Day this year?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Latest Obsession: ZombiU

For someone who is pretty much anti-gun, I have no problem blowing zombies to bits or bashing them repeatedly in the head with a cricket bat. There's probably something wrong with that, but I don't care to dig into it. It's my guilty pleasure.

Photo: www.justpushstart.com

I purposely scare myself by turning off all the lights and blocking out any sunlight to play this game (ZombiU on the WiiU). They made it so that you really feel alone in the game. It's so quiet. And you brush up against something and you freak out because it sounded vaguely like the sound of a zombie groaning. They made the game like that on purpose so that you get sucked into the game and really get scared. You never know when a zombie is about to jump out from a vent or around a corner or out of a closet. I've screamed a few times, all by myself. Lol. I love it. :)

Photo: www.forbes.com

I've mastered it now. I can kill a hoard of zombies without skipping a beat... Okay, I'm lying... I run and hide in a corner and pause the game to get my hands to stop shaking before I can make a game plan to open my backpack, get out my shotgun, reload it, and take them all out without getting bitten and infected. This game makes me SO. SHAKY. I would just lay down and die if a real zombie apocalypse was happening around me. Lol.

This is how I spend Kal's naptimes when I don't feel like being productive. And it. Is. Awesome. :) :)

Photo: www.vagary.tv
Any stay-at-home moms out there with their own "guilty pleasures"?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Major Appliance Owners

Oh, yeah! We're officially adults once we buy a washer and dryer, right? I feel so grown up. So does Zay... he's been talking excitedly about this for weeks. Lol.

I'm excited because this might actually give me a chance to try cloth diapers for Baby #2. It was too impractical with Kal, although I researched it like crazy before he came along. Without my own washer and dryer, it was just too difficult for me. Now it might actually be a possibility. Whoo hoo!

I was afraid they weren't going to fit through the door without taking the door off its hinges, but they squeezed through. Those stairs were a beast when we were moving here. Ugh.

The delivery men were awesome. Polite and funny and speedy. I was sneaking around trying to be discreet when I took this picture, ha ha!

Kal got excited and started running around and dancing outside in his socks while they were unloading the truck, swinging his golf club and throwing his ball.

Laundry room "before":

Laundry room "after":

Yaaaay! This room has a purpose other than housing the kitty litter! Ha ha.

Good thing we babyproofed, right? Lol. I couldn't believe it the first time I saw him crawling through the pet door! I'm hoping he'll soon be too big to squeeze through there.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"I Love to See the Temple"

For those who aren't familiar with the LDS Church, we have temples in addition to normal church buildings. They are a sacred place for weddings (not really a celebratory occasion, but a small spiritual ceremony - the party happens at the reception elsewhere) and other spiritual ordinances.

Right now there are 140 LDS temples throughout the world that are operating, 14 under construction, and 14 others have been announced to be built. I think that is amazing. Many, many more need to be built to accommodate all the members, though. Some Latter-day Saints have to save for years and travel to other countries to be able to reach a temple. On the other hand, there are 16 temples just here in Utah. It takes me 5 minutes to drive to the nearest one.

I feel lucky, but I haven't always taken advantage of having so many temples so close. I want to do better.

There are many reasons to attend the temple, but for me the biggest blessing is the peace I feel when I'm there. I feel closest to God there. I hear answers to prayers more clearly. The outside world is left at the door and I get an eternal perspective inside the temple that is hard to see sometimes in my daily life. The temple is quiet and safe and the world is drowned out for an hour or two. That is SO NEEDED sometimes. But I forget and I stop going regularly. Then my life gets chaotic and something reminds me to just go.

At the temple I pray, worship, study, and serve. Temple attendance always puts my life back on the right track with the right focus. It is such a blessing in my life. So uplifting.

My best friend and I have been going every week for almost 4 months now. Having a temple-going buddy makes it easier to go regularly. It has made SO much difference in my life... I don't know how I've made it this far in life without it. She encouraged me and I love her for it. :)

The temple we attend the most is the Provo Utah Temple. I took this picture near Christmas when they had a Nativity Scene set up out front:

Nativity at Provo Utah Temple 2012

People like to call the Provo Temple the "birthday cake temple," because of its shape. Here's a better picture (when it's not so gloomy outside):

Provo Utah Temple
Photo: www.ldschurchtemples.com

They're actually building a second Provo temple. This is the first I've heard about one city having more than one temple. They're normally more spread out than that, but there is such a high concentration of Latter-day Saints in Provo (including many BYU students) that it is needed to accommodate everyone. [Edit: There are also two temples in South Jordan, Utah!]

I love that we're a temple-going people. I love how religious BYU is. I love that lots of dating couples at BYU go on "dates" to the temple sometimes. Makes my heart happy. :) What better way to get to know someone than to see their spiritual side on a date??

The second Provo Temple is being built at the city's center where the old Provo Tabernacle burned down not too long ago. It was a church building that was used for pretty much everything, very multi-purpose. (A side note: my friend was actually there the night it burned! she remembered smelling smoke and mentioning it to someone before she left - crazy, huh?). It will look something like this when it's done:

Provo City Center Temple
Photo: www.ldschurchtemples.com

There is lots and lots of construction around this area. There has been so much construction in general in Utah that I've just gotten used to it. They even made commercials to announce when the Interstate was done being worked on. We were at a movie once and they played the commercial and it said, "All lanes are now open," and everyone in the theater cheered like crazy! Ha ha. Anyways, it'll be exciting to have a temple even closer to where I live.

One of the most recent temples to be built is in Honduras:

Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple
Photo: www.ldschurchtemples.com

How gorgeous is that?

I've only actually been inside 4 temples. Only 4! I think I need to do a little temple-hopping. I've been to the Atlanta Georgia, Provo Utah, Mount Timpanogas Utah, and Salt Lake Utah temples.

Zay and I got married in the Atlanta Georgia Temple in 2004:

Atlanta Georgia Temple
Photo: www.ldschurchtemples.com

The other temple that my friend and I frequent is the Mount Timpanogas Utah Temple. This is also the temple where Zay and I had a "sealing" ceremony after we finalized Kal's adoption. I think each time we adopt we'll get sealed at a different temple so that each of our kids can have their "own" temple in a way that's special to them. This is Kal's temple!

Mount Timpanogas Utah Temple
Photo: www.ldschurchtemples.com

And I've been to the Salt Lake City Temple a couple times. This temple is the most famous one and lots of people recognize it even if they aren't LDS. Lots of little girls dream about being married in this temple one day. Seriously, it's like a castle. So beautiful! Salt Lake City is built around this temple at its center.

Salt Lake City Temple

The only other temple that I've seen (but didn't go inside) was the Las Vegas Nevada Temple. I went to Vegas for my 24th birthday to see Criss Angel's show. It was a crazy weekend, lots of over-stimulation with the lights and the people and how wild and loud everyone is on the Strip. Since it was my birthday and I could do whatever I wanted, I went to the Las Vegas Temple one night and laid down on a bench and just let the peace of the temple grounds soak in and remind me that the whole world isn't like the Vegas Strip, lol. It was very needed. One day I'll go back and actually go inside. I love how the temples look when they're lit up at night:

Las Vegas Nevada Temple
Photo: www.ldschurchtemples.com

So, what's your favorite LDS temple?

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