Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Temple Sealing

The day finally came!!
On December 19, 2008,
Brad and I were able to take these 4 beautiful children to the Mesa Temple to be sealed as a family for eternity!

I can't even describe the feelings that came over me that afternoon. As we were walking through the grounds towards the temple, I had an overwhelming sense of peace come over me. I felt a strong assuring spirit that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing.
The spirit I felt came over me so strongly, I was brought to tears and found it difficult to breathe.
Once inside the Temple, trying to keep my composure while we finished all the paper work seemed nearly impossible. There have been several times in my life that I have felt the spirit of the Lord, but none of them even came close the the overwhelming and breathtaking, nearly tangible spirit I felt at that time.
Brad and I went our separate ways to change into our white clothing, while the kids went with some of the temple workers and my mom to change into theirs. The sealer escorted both me and Brad into the sealing room before the kids were brought in. He talked to us for a little while about the sealing ordinance. Then, the kids were brought in.
It was nothing short of a celestial experience for me. To me they seemed to be glowing, all dressed in white, white bows in their hair and so peaceful. I struggled to catch my breath as I took it all in.
The veil of my remembrance was opened for me in that room.

I remembered them as I knew them before we came to this Earth.

I remembered the promise we made to each other to find each other and to become a forever family.

I remembered how much I loved them before we came here to mortality.

I remembered that our spirits were the best of friends and longed to be back with each other.

I saw them as the children of God that they are,
I saw them as our Heavenly Father sees them,
I felt His love for them
and my spirit rejoiced.

As we all knelt around the altar, hand in hand, I gazed into each of their eyes.
Each of their little, angelic faces smiled back at me and I felt their spirits tell me that they remembered our promise too.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Jada in the Hospital

Last Tuesday, around 3:30 in the morning, my sweet Jada woke-up crying. After Brad got her out of bed, we felt her raging temperature and noticed she was having a lot of difficulty breathing. She has a history of asthma related symptoms that can get bad really fast, so instead of trying to wait it out, I took her to the ER.

My hopes of having a short stay were shot down. In the ER she received steroid injections and several breathing treatments, but her body didn't respond very well to them and her oxygen levels stayed dangerously low, so she was admitted.

My typically lively Jada was so somber and lethargic. She continued to have to work laboriously for breath and to no avail. The alarm on the monitor she wore to read her oxygen levels continued to go off night and day, making our hospital room one with a revolving door as nurses, respiratory specialists, and doctors came in to help her.

She was able to muster a little energy for her visitors during the day, but it quickly drained her.
Our second night there she was getting worse and her rising temperature wasn't responding to the Motrin she was given. So the doctors got more aggressive with their treatments. She had another chest ex-ray taken that showed she had pneumonia. I was relieved to finally find the reason for her being so ill. Now we had something to treat.

After about 2 full days, she started to feel better. So we ventured out of the room to see what the pediatric unit had to offer us. We found a play-room, she found a wagon and fell in love. She still didn't feel well enough to do anything, but she loved being pulled around in the wagon. So round and round the peds unit we went for a LONG time.

The nurses and NAs were so good to us. They gave Jada tons of things including a blanket and pillow, 7 beanie babies, dolls, coloring books, bubbles, play-dough...

On Friday, when she was released, she ended up with all this! Early Christmas to say the least.
We were both glad to be home. And it was just in time, we got home on Friday afternoon just hours before be were scheduled to be at the Temple for our SEALING!

I have to say though, that I LOVED being able to spend so much uninterrupted time with her. I think I held her probably 90% of the time we were in the hospital. Even at night, we cuddled up together in her bed and tried to sleep (sleep in the hospital is very relative, not much of it happens there, we were woken up at least every hour and a half). I am so grateful for the time we were given with each other. I feel an even stronger bond with her now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kiana's Baptism

Kiana turned 8 last January, but she had to wait for her adoption to be final before she could get baptized. It was a LONG wait for her. Between January and now, she told me at least once a week that she wanted to be baptized.

The day finally came and
she was able to be baptized by her daddy.

She had a lot of family and friends come to support her.
It was really a special day for her.

Her teacher from school even came!
Heather Laine has been such a great influence on Kiana this past year and a half that Kiana has been in her classroom. Heather has a great love for her students that her students can feel and flourish from. It's no wonder that Kiana has blossomed so much since being with her. Not only has she taught her academics (which she has, and she's worked miracles), she's taught her life skills, and most importantly communication skills. I attribute most of Kiana's sign language fluency to Heather.
(The other little girl in the picture is Cassidy, one of Kiana's best friends from her class at school.)
The missionary on the left of the above picture is one of the 3 Deaf/ASL (American Sign Language) missionaries currently serving in the the Valley. We were at the temple the week of her baptism and ran into them. Kiana was SOOO excited to see missionaries who sign and she talked with them for almost an hour. They were so cute with her, watching every story she told and responding enthusiastically. They willingingly went with her as she pulled them around the temple grounds to see the nativity and other displays they have. Kiana asked them to come to her baptism and they DID!! She was so excited to have them there.

I thought this picture of Rachel, Jada and Oaklie was so cute I HAD to include it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moving to Cold Country

We're doing it...
We're moving and doing it big time.
Brad and I have been feeling a need to move for a couple of reasons including -

A bigger house that will accommodate us better and allow everyone to have some personal space.

To give the kids a new start away from all the painful memories of their pasts.

They grew up in this area in various apartments, motels, foster homes, etc. and are constantly reminded of traumatic times even while driving through town. It has been heartbreaking for us to see the pain they are feeling each time they are reminded. Pain that is manifested, most the time, in erratic behavior. My guess is that it is the same behavior they developed while living in those situations to block out the pain, confusion and fear they felt.

Our hope is that by moving them to a new environment, they'll be able to work through the confusing emotions, without having to relive them over and over, and move on.

We've looked at and considered several different places but ultimately decided on South Dakota of all places. I know, it's seems like a random place to choose especially considering we're making the move just after Christmas in the dead middle of winter.

So, What was it that allured us there?

Three things specifically.
1 - my mommy
2 - my 13 year old brother Justin
3 - my 11 year old sister Lauren

They've lived there for about 4 years and have fallen in love with the area.

I've been up there several time to visit since they've moved and I'd have to agree it is beautiful!

Brad and I went up there in the beginning of November and found and bought a house that I'm quite excited about.

Not only it is over twice as big as the house we're in,
it has a BASEMENT!

I've dreamed of having a space for the kids to play, run and make their messes since we've gotten them. Messes that I won't have to look at if I don't want to.
Here it is!!

It has five bedrooms,
3 baths,
some of which desperately need to be renovated or at least painted!
(The previous owners had eccentric paint choices in the kids areas)
and 3 living areas including the basement,
and probably most important for our Arizona family, a fireplace.
Oh ya, it has a kitchen too...
and 2 unfinished rooms with potential to become whatever we want to make them

We're also about a 1/2 hour drive from here.
And best of all, we're only a 10 minute drive away from these great people.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Like Mother Hopefully Like Daughter...

I had a cool singing opportunity a while back. I love music and singing and sing in a few choirs. One of the choirs I'm in has so much talent among the members and the director. There are several accomplished musicians, choral directors for various schools, and song writers. I LOVE singing in a good choir, especially with other people who can sight-read well.

A lady who used to sing in the choir, Joan Sowards, has written a ton of music. She has especially written a lot for the Young Women organization of the church. She is very talented. I felt honored when she asked me if I'd record some of her songs.

I recorded a song that had 3 part harmony and got to sing all 3 parts. I've recorded before but haven't ever done this singing with myself thing before. It was a lot of fun and cool to hear one voice singing all the parts.

After listening to it, I was surprised at how much the alto part sounded like my mom's voice. Any of you who have had the privilege of hearing my mom sing know that she has a beautiful, low, alto voice that sends chills through your body and makes you want to lay back and listen forever. Even as a teenager, I'd ask her to come in my room and sing me to sleep. To me, hearing her sing, is what I imagine the angelic music in heaven sounding like and has the same effect on my spirit.

I've been asked to sing several times lately for various events including a few sacrament meetings, a funeral, enrichment nights, baptisms and for the 50th birthday celebration concert of an accomplished composer for the church.

I feel like my voice has matured a lot lately these past few years and have been so surprised and extremely flattered when after I sing, people compare my voice to my MOM'S! Earlier this week, after singing at a funeral of a sweet lady in my ward, several people came up to ask me my name. One couple, after finding out I was a Turley said to each other, "See? Doesn't she sound like Karol?" Then to me, "Are you related to her?"

Um... ya she's my mom.

I've heard similar comments from about 5 other people who attended that funeral.

WHAT? They think I sound like her? I couldn't think of any better compliment in the world!!

I don't know if it'll last, but even if it is a short-lived phase, I'm taking these flattering compliments with a grateful heart hoping to one day be able to obtain the celestial beauty of my mom's voice.

To hear yours truly x3 click HERE
(listen for the sound of my mom's voice in the alto part)

A lot of people have told me they only hear the piano on the recording.
It'll play the vocals if you use Mozilla Firefox for the internet browser to pull it up, but if you're using Internet Explorer it only plays the piano.
Not sure why.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

IT'S A ...


Brad and I went to see the doctor today and were ecstatic to see a

Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for her.
I am continually amazed at seeing the Lord's hand in everything.
We were blessed to be able to finalize the adoption of our 4 beautiful children 2 weeks ago and now


Isn't she cute?!

Monday, December 1, 2008

One of My Favorite People

I am so fortunate to have my wonderful, amazing, supportive, encouraging, loving, witty (I could go on forever) Grandma living with us!! She's been with us since her stroke in November 2005. I was SO glad that Brad and I not only had a house that could accommodate her, but also the time and ability. We had just moved into a home in south Gilbert (Seville) about 6 months earlier that could accommodate her wheel chair and had a fantastic bathroom and shower for her. She is what keeps me going sometimes when life proves hard for me. She is constantly doing things for us.

Such as...
Helps the kids with their homework,

Goes to the store at least twice a week to make sure she has cookies for them,
Reads to them,
Takes Jada and her baby (Abby) on walks up and down the street,
Volunteers to watch them as they play outside so I can get things done inside,

Has played baby-sitter more times than I can count,

Walks Kiana down the street to meet the bus (sometimes just far enough behind her to not let her know she's there 'cause Kiana is in a very independent stage),

Shares her TV with them, often watching a cartoon she has no interest in for their sake,

Orders pizza and chicken dinners for us,

Keeps an endless supply of paper, crayons, markers, scissors and pencils for the kids artistic endeavors,

Buys bones and food for our dog, Thor, and feeds him most the time,

Often does my laundry!!!,

Helps the kids with their jobs, when they get overwhelmed, by talking them through each step to do,

Comforts us,

Understands first hand Kiana's physical limitations (her and Kiana's conditions are very similar, one side paralysis, only G-G's is the left side, and Kiana's is the right.) She encourages her, helps her and shows her how to do things. She is the PERFECT role model and positive example for Kiana.

She is attentive to everyone,

Worries about them with me,

Brainstorms ideas to help them,

Laughs with us,

Cries with us,

Is WITH us!

She has been with us for 3 years now. She's been through miscarriages with us, a home renovation and move, the process of getting licensed to get the kids, getting the kids, the roller coaster of emotions we've felt since then and has been a pillar of strength the entire time.

I love this woman so much!!!
She is one of my very best friends!

The kids all adore her too. They call her G-G, short for Great-Grandma. Jada especially has a special place in her heart for G-G, and G-G for her.
Any time during the day that I can't find Jada, all I need to do is look in G-G's room.
Jada is most likely snuggled up on her lap or talking her into getting up to get her a 'cwacker'.
She spends hours each day with her. One of Jada's favorite pass times is going on daily 'walks' up and down our street with G-G.
When we finalized their adoption, we named Jada after G-G giving her the name of Jada Ruth. Grandma's name is Virginia Ruth Skouson.

She is such a wonderful person and has taught me so much about perseverance, being joyful no matter what you are called to endure, and having unconditional love for people. I am so grateful for her presence in my life. Especially these past 3 years.

Thank you Grandma for being YOU!!
You have blessed me and our family more than you will ever know!!
I love you with all my heart!

Christmas Time - My Favorite Time of Year

The Christmas season is hands down my most favorite time of the year. I love the focus of the season, celebrating the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I enjoy watching people as a whole reach out towards each other, think about others and give of themselves. I find so much joy in thinking about the people I love and deciding on what to give them.

As a kid, my family of 11 had a tradition of buying/making and giving gifts to each and every member of our family. My parents suggested, more than once, drawing names to lessen the amount of spending we would have as kids, but we would have nothing of it. My favorite part of the season was thinking about each person to pick out and give them a gift meant specifically for them. We all felt the same way about Christmas. It was such a magical time for my family.
I and my siblings would work for months, saving our money to ensure that we would be able to give each person what we wanted to. Christmas morning was SOOO magical for all of us. Dad sat next to the tree and passed out each gift, one at a time, reading who it was to and who it was from. We all sat in anticipation and to watch each gift be opened. Tears of joy and gratitude were often shed by both receiver and giver. The opening of each gift was ALWAYS followed by a hug between the giver and the receiver. This wasn't anything ever taught or prompted, but just done out of the sheer love we felt for each other. Love that was accentuated by the giving and receiving of these thoughtful gifts. Because of our desire to savor the magical moment of each gift, our time spent unwrapping presents often took several hours.

One of my most cherished Christmas memories is when I was probably around 9 years old. My then, 8 year old brother Brian had worked for several weeks for my Dad's business to earn my gift. He was so excited about it, he talked about wanting me to open my present for weeks leading up to Christmas. On Christmas morning, I was shocked to see a remote control car we had admired together. This was not just an ordinary remote control car, but one with a price tag of $120!! I still get tears in my eyes to this day at the thought of how much love, work and excitement went into this gift for me! All the memories I have of past Christmases are sprinkled with sweet, tender memories like this one.

Dad instilled in me a love for Christmas music. I think every time he was home in the month of December, Christmas music rang throughout the house. I remember us all singing to it as we got out the several boxes of decorations and helped to adorn our house inside and out. Mom stayed inside with most of us as we spread out the tree skirt, hung the ornaments, put of the nativity and the Christmas calendar and set out the statue of Santa kneeling, hat off, over the baby Jesus. Meanwhile, Dad and Brian went outside to hang the lights on the house.

I just hope that I can create the same kind of magical memories for my kids as my parents did for me.

My favorite way to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving is not out among the crowds at the malls, but at home with my family. My sweet hubby pulled out all of our Christmas decorations from the shed and we spent the morning putting them up. Brad and Kishawn then went outside to hang the lights on the house.

That night, we went to the temple to enjoy the lights there.

Saying that Kishawn loves his daddy would be a huge understatement.
He adores him.

I can understand why,
because I do too!!

Of course Jada brought along Abby.
We saw my Uncle Jerry while we were there and after he gave us all hugs,
Jada informed him that he forgot to give Abby a hug.
G-G even came with us!! We had so much fun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kishawn's Self-Hair-Cutting-Days Gone?

Kishawn has had an obsession with shaving his head for several months. About half the time he takes a shower, he goes into Brad's and my bathroom and takes the electric razor to his head. We are constantly finding bald stripes on him. Our repeated warnings to stop didn't slow him down at all.

Then the other night he walked proudly out of the bathroom after his shower looking like this

He's got the 'I'm-mad-glare' down pat!

Every other time he's done it, we've saved him from embarrassment by shaving the rest of it for him. How many times should I save him though? He hadn't obeyed our requests to stay away from the razor, so I thought maybe the natural consequences would work better?

The next day I let him go to school looking just like this...
All day, I wondered how his day was going and hoped he didn't get teased too much.
As I picked him and Jazz up, I could see that he looked forlorn. When he wouldn't answer me when I asked him what the matter was, Jazmine jumped in and said that she heard a boy tell him that his hair looked stupid.

I regretted my decision to let him go like that as he shed a few tears on the way home, but he seemed to quickly get over it after I shaved his whole head for him.

I asked him if he was going to shave his head again.
"Why not?" I asked
"'Cause I don't wanna look like a weirdo!"

Ha Ha. He's such a cute kid!!

I will miss that 'Bozo the Clown' look though...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Adoption Day Celebration!!

The adoption of Kiana, Jazmine, Kishawn and Jada will be final tomorrow!!!!
We will be celebrating after the adoption at the Fire Station Park on Lindsay and Adobe (Adobe is between University and Brown). The park is on Adobe just east of Lindsay.

We will be there from 3pm-5pm.

Everyone is invited to come celebrate with us!!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Family Pictures - I'm in LOVE!!

We got our family pictures done a little while ago by Maria Nissen. I saw the pictures she took of my sister-in-law's Homecoming group and was in love with her style!! So, I was super excited to have her take our family's pictures. She's still editing them, but has posted some of them on her blog. She's is incredible!!! My kids didn't make it easy on her, but she still worked miracles in the pictures. I am in LOVE!

To see them click

A little more personal...

My older sister, Laree, started a blog!! Her first entry got me thinking about the way I blog.

The truth is, I love my life! I feel I have been blessed with so much and am rich in so many ways. My road isn't one without trials and hardship though. There are times that I feel there isn't any way to stop my tears and end my heartache. There are times when I can't possibly see where the light at the end of this long tunnel is. There are times I feel hopelessness and unworthy or incapable of facing the task at hand.

I can look back on past trials and see that they were totally and completely for my benefit and growth in more ways than one. I have struggled with multiple miscarriages and the emotions that accompany them. Including a deep sense of loss and heartache, questioning my worthiness to be a mother, jealously at other mothers who were having babies they didn't even want, and more... But it was in those times of deep heartache that in turning to my Lord for comfort I have been given an amazing gift of His love and presence in my life. I know that there is never a time that I grow more and become closer to my Father in Heaven than during the midst of a trial.

I have had the wonderful privilege and tremendous challenge of taking in and nurturing 4 beautiful children. Children who have been through more trauma, neglect, abuse and heartache already in their short lives than I have ever experienced or probably ever will. I've cried myself to sleep more nights than I can count wondering how I can possibly help them through their deep and intense pain. I've become frustrated with some of their behaviors that to my-inexperienced-unlearned-self seem, at times, barbaric and out-of-control. I have felt my stomach turn with anger as I realize that there is no way a 4-year-old would know how to do what I just saw... unless.

I've seen them flinch and turn away in fear when I raise my hand to give them a high five. I've found food stashed away in closets, drawers, under beds and pillows.

I have walked up and down the streets of my neighborhood countless times praying to my and their Father in Heaven, pleading with Him to guide me, direct me, help me understand, give me that Christ-like love called Charity, and to help me become the kind of person I need to be for these 4 children of His that He has entrusted me with. I have wondered if and hoped that I am pleasing Him and living up to my responsibilities.

I have sobbed to Him while asking forgiveness for my lack of patience and wondered if my actions were scarring them worse. In the midst of my heartache, pain and regret I have felt overcome with an overwhelming sense of His love for me, and have been amazed at how quick and willing He is to take away my transgressions to let me start over and try again.

I've had tears of joy stream down my face as my sweet boy comes to me and asks me if I can hold him, "like a baby." I've felt gratitude and excitement from realizing that Heavenly Father can teach me how to help these kids, through the kids themselves.

I have felt that Christ-like love that I have prayed for so often as I have held crying children for hours trying to reassure them that I'm not going anywhere. That this time they are safe. This time, after living in more than 10 homes, no one is going to give up on them. That I'm here to stay, they are in our home to stay, through the good and the bad, and we can learn how to get through the pain together.

I have sat on my 6-year-old daughter's bed with her as she has fights within herself, wanting to let herself love but so afraid to be hurt again. I have tried to give her words for her feelings, but when words weren't enough we screamed at the top of our lungs together. Finally, she was feeling
something! I hugged her harder than I've hugged anyone as she wrapped herself around me and convulsed with painful sobbing that had been pent up for years. I was amazed at her courage when she asked to scream together again not once but 3 more times. Each time she let herself feel more and remember more. We both sobbed through the whole process. I was clinging to her as she clung to me telling her over and over how proud I am of her and how brave she is.

I am reminded at how raw their feelings still are and how much pain they feel when I hug my 8 year old. She hugs harder and harder not wanting to let go. It often becomes a healing time for her as she lets her emotions out and cries for several minutes. I get the sense that she's afraid to loosen up on her grip, fearing that I might disappear. Tears have often run down my face as she finally does let up for a few seconds as she uses sign language to tell me that she loves me so much, then embraces me again.

I've come back from short vacations with Brad and have had to stay up 'til the early morning hours holding my sweet Jada who gets afraid to leave my side.

I just hope that I am giving these children what they need. I know deep within my heart that they are meant for great things and am brought to tears at the realization that it is my responsibility to show them the way back home to our Father in Heaven. I hardly feel worthy of such a task.

I have often wondered, especially after we got the kids, why I was given so much. Why was I blessed with a wonderful family who love each other and are always there for each other? Why was I born into a home that taught me that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and that I have a Savior, a Brother who has died for me and made it possible for my sins to be forgiven? Why was I shown from the minute I was born the way to happiness when so many others live lives full of confusion and searching? Why are innocent children allowed to suffer at the hand of others who are making bad choices? Why was I allowed to have such a care-free, happy childhood when a little 4 year old girl with cerebral palsy is left to care for herself and her younger brother and sisters?

I think I am starting to understand though. I
have been given so much. When I ask myself why any of us are given anything, I am reminded that it is so we can help mankind. Perhaps I was given my family, my childhood, knowledge of our purpose here on Earth, knowledge of a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior, Jesus Christ so that I could share it with the world. So that I can give these children all the wonderful gifts that I've been given and they can give it to theirs. I realize that because I have been given so much, much is expected of me. Although I find myself lacking in many areas and constantly regretting things I've done and the way I handle things, I know I am also learning and growing. I know that I need my Savior as much as anyone. I can see miracles taking place in my life and find new blessings to be grateful for everyday.

I would never ask for a life without trials and heartache, because I know from experience that these can be the sweetest times of our lives. My perspective on life and people and trials is changing so much as I am tried. I realize that we are all here to love and serve each other so that we can all make it back home. I am forever grateful for these wonderful lessons I am being taught!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

October 31 - A Great Day!!

Number 1 Reason I loved this day...

We got to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of this adorable girl's birth!!
Jada is a book lover!!
Every time I asked her what she wanted, her reply was a book.
So a book she got...
This present was a little for me too.After picking her up from child-care at the gym and finding her with 6 baby dolls in her arms...
After seeing her carry around various household items
(couch pillows, dust pans, cups, dog bones...) caring for them like babies...
And after being handed a "crying" water bottle to soothe, taking the bottle in my hand and holding it by my side, only to be told by a disgruntled 2 year old,
"(gasp) Mom, hold the baby!!"
I figured it might be time to buy her a baby doll.
Complete with stroller...and baby carrier.She wakes up every morning and changes Abby's (named by Jada herself) diaper, then walks her up and down the street for as long as we'll let her. The other day she came in holding our camera, giggling, telling me that she took pictures of her baby. There were probably 15 pictures just like this one.

Number 2 Reason I loved this day...

I once again felt an overwhelming gratitude for this WONDERFUL man!
He is constantly finding ways to serve and does it all without complaint.
Just before he was doing the laundry, he cleaned up the barf left all over the couch by Jazz.
I couldn't ask for more from him and am filled with excitement at the thought of spending eternity with such an amazing person!

Number 3 Reason I loved this day...

I got to celebrate Halloween with these 4 awesome kids!
(Hannah Montana - although I think she might look more like a street-walker, Minnie Mouse, Captain Kishawn, and my little monkey - with Abby of course)
and my favorite dirt biker ever.What a GREAT day!!!