Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Makenzie's 1st Birthday

I can't believe that 1 year ago today, I had this beautiful girl.

She is such a joy!!

And she loved her cake.

She didn't want to get her hands dirty but after we gave her a spoon, she dug in.

Did I mention I LOVE this girl SOOO much?

She has brought so much to my life.
She has helped me realize what is most important.
She has taught me how to love more deeply and completely.
She brings a smile to my face at least a million times a day.
She has taught me to slow down and enjoy the little moments that could easily slip away.

I didn't know that someone's EVERY SINGLE move, sound, facial expression, even breath could be so adorable.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A few things that bring me happiness...

Seeing Makenzie adore time with her daddy,

Getting ready to plant our first EVER garden,
Enjoying every minute spent with this cutie,
This sexy man who I LOVE,

Seeing the curiosity of kids and watching them learn,

Learning new things with the family,

Seeing this guy be an amazing Dad to his kids,

LOVING how stinkin' adorable this little girl is,

Watching my baby eat 10 strawberries!

Being with this clan makes me happier than I have ever been in my life!

One more thing that makes me happy...
thinking of bringing more kids into our clan.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Keep the blessings coming!

I feel that the Lord is hard at work on me right now.  He has blessed me and my family tremendously.  He has placed people in our lives who have helped us so much.  He has led me to find answers.  He has shown me how to be a better mom for my kids.  He has put into my heart and mind ideas about different ways to run the house and raise the children so that they can thrive.  I have been tested to extremes.  It's amazing how some of our deeply hidden flaws can rear their ugly heads in the mists of extreme trials.  It is also amazing how exposing those flaws and weaknesses allows us to work on them, to improve ourselves.  It's amazing that those flaws that I initially didn't know existed, then felt so inadequate for having them, have become strengths.  His promise is real!  When we bring to Him our weaknesses, He WILL turn them into strengths.

I have always felt that I had a gentle heart, that I had an ability to love everyone regardless of what they were doing, regardless of how they made me feel, regardless of any cruelty they committed.  I now feel that that gift I feel I was blessed with has been enlarged and magnified 100 fold.  I feel as if  my understanding of the world and of mankind is so much more clear.  Now, when I see someone who is acting out in various ways, my heart grieves for them.  I wonder what kind of pain they have experienced.  I wonder how their heart was broken.  Watching the cruel things my kids are capable of doing and saying and OFTEN being the recipient and the target for those cruel acts has taught me what nothing else could have.  I KNOW that at times our Heavenly Father weeps as He watches His children suffer here on Earth.  Even though He knows the plan, He knows that things may get better, His heart aches with ours.  These are CHILDREN.  They are children of our Heavenly Father who hearts and spirits have been wounded by the mistakes of man.  Deep inside of them, their true spirits yearn to emerge.

My heart grieves for all that my kids have had to endure.  There have been several nights I've laid in bed crying for all of their pain and for all that they've been through.  I wonder how Heavenly Father can watch His children down here suffering so much.  How His heart must ache.  I wish so badly that I could have had them from the beginning.  I wish I could have spared them their deep heartache.  I wish that I could have held them close when they needed comfort, rocked them to sleep, carried them around with me all day everyday, nursed them, taught them that the world is a great place to be that people are loving and will take care of them.  I wish they would have never had to cry themselves to sleep.  However, I know that He doesn't leave any of us to suffer alone.  He sends His angels both from Heaven and here on Earth to help.

I wonder how many more Kianas, Jazmines, Kishawns and Jadas are out there suffering.  Amazing, gentle, loving spirits that have been hurt and covered up by inexpressible pain and suffering.  I have also cried myself to sleep thinking about all those other children around the world who are lonely, suffering, yearning for love.  Aching for the acceptance of a loving family.

Watching my kids heal has been more rewarding than anything I have ever experienced.  Seeing who they really are, their real spirits, emerge out of their painful pasts is beyond description.  Watching the Savior's atonement at work is what this life is all about.  I can't think of anything more fulfilling than what I am doing right now.

It hasn't been an easy road.  In fact it's been the most difficult thing I've ever done, more difficult than I could have even imagined, but the reward at the end is SO beyond worth it!  I can only imagine the extreme joy that is in store for me as I get to watch them grow and become who they were meant to be and to play an instrumental part in my kids' lives.

I love building the Kingdom of God here on Earth.  I love being a Mom.  I think there is no nobler a calling than that of a mother.  I love knowing that with my children I am storing up treasures in Heaven.  I once heard someone say that by having and adopting children they were not focused on populating Earth but on populating Heaven.

I don't want to limit the number of treasures I store up for myself in Heaven.
I would love to have a big family to spend eternity with.
I can finally say that I want to have more.

I want to adopt again.  
AND I want to be pregnant again.

Now I guess I'll get to see what God has in mind.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prayer Request

My sweet Kishawn has been having a really hard time lately.  I'll spare you the details, but if you could please offer up a prayer in his behalf I would greatly appreciate it.  He could use some extra help from Heaven right now.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One of My Greatest Blessings

As time goes on, I realize more and more that Kiana was not sent to me so I could help her.  She was sent to me to teach me things no one else could.

This is a girl who has SO many things stacked against her.

Born into poverty,
Unstable home and care,
Not enough to eat at times,
Drug and alcohol exposure,
Severe illness as an infant resulting in seizures,
partial paralysis,
brain damage and,
an inability to speak,
multiple moves in foster care,
and more.

The brain damage she suffered as an infant has left her with an IQ of 62.  She struggles to understand basic academics and logic.  BUT her spirit is more mature than almost everyone I know.  Her ability to love, despite everything she has been through, is miraculous and inspiring.  She forgives quickly and completely.  She can easily see when someone is unhappy and offers her help and comfort.  Often, when she can see that I'm having a hard time she sits on the ground next to my feet and rubs them,  scratches my back, rubs my shoulders or cleans something up for me without me asking her to and without the need for recognition or praise.  She does it purely out of the love in her heart.

She is so full of charity for others.  That Christlike love that I pray for daily comes so easily and naturally to her.  She is so in-tune to the needs of others and prays for people by name.  Her prayers always include her siblings and what they have been struggling with that particular day.  They include her Grandpa Porter and his health, her Grandma Mia and her happiness, relatives and friends who are sick and/or struggling, and ME for my heart to grow and to love more completely.  Her prayers also include anyone we have talked about that day who would need a prayer offered up in their behalf.  I am so grateful for her.

I am ashamed and embarrassed to say that I haven't always appreciated or even recognized her for who she really is.  Sadly I was distracted by drool, noises and grunts, and physical and mental limitations.  I was more focused on the results of her trauma - screaming, crying for hours on end, excessively laughing at inappropriate times, peeing and pooping in wrong places, than I was on seeing the amazing gift I've been blessed with. 

She is one of Heavenly Father's most choice, strongest spirits and He has chosen to bless ME with her.  I received a Priesthood Blessing shortly after getting her that told me that her a I were best friends in Heaven before we came to Earth.  I have often thought that I probably had made her a promise to find her and give her what she didn't have.  I NOW realize that I am not the one who needed to save her.  She came to me to help me learn what I needed to know so that I can be saved.  She signed up for this life and Heavenly Father KNEW that her spirit could survive and thrive.  She came here not to be saved but to save others through her example.  I feel that she already has a place reserved for her in Heaven.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Life may not be easy but it IS all worth it -

It's been kinda rough around here.  We've been having a LOT of RAD behaviors lately.  The kid that was doing really well for a long time has been raging on and off (mostly ON) since Easter.  Two others have been putting their poop and pee in all the wrong places several times a day.  Pretty much every activity we do quickly becomes a fight and a stubborn controlling game that eventually turns into a rage.  Even when they are doing something they asked to do they ruin it somehow.

I find myself getting discouraged at times.  I want to be able to plan and DO projects and activities with the kids.

So, I buy books to get some ideas, I Google, I get the supplies ready.  I get excited about doing something fun together.  THEN, it all blows up in my face.

Because they are siblings and have experienced most of their traumas together, it makes it much more difficult for me to keep them regulated.  This article explains it beautifully.  Things can be going fine and one of them shoots a look to another and all is lost, they are gone and the activity is over.  They know each others' triggers and use them often, especially when they don't like the kind of attention someone is getting.  I absolutely realize NOW that they should not have been kept together.  Their healing would be much more likely had they been split up to heal.  They have turned the abuse done to them by adults onto each other.  So in a sense they are living with constant reminders of their abuse AND they are also living with some of their abusers.  I've heard multiple times that people who have been abused, specifically molested or raped can get over it but always have a hard time with the thoughts of facing their abuser.  My kids live with some of them!

Sometimes I find myself longing for normal, happy family interactions.  I wish my kids had not been traumatized and wouldn't have all of the resulting behaviors.

Then I realize that all of this must be so much harder for the kids than it is for me.  They not only have to deal with their behaviors and their actions but they are also dealing with the intense emotions that come with it.  I feel privileged to be their mom, to be the one entrusted to help them through all of this.  All is not doom and gloom though.  Progress has been made and when I compare it to when we first got them nearly 3 years ago, they have come a LONG way.  Although I realize that they still have a lot of work to do, I am so grateful for how far we have all come.  They're happier than they were.  They are regulated more often than they used to be.  I'm happier than I was, and I feel like I have a way better understanding of things and how to deal with them!  It's progress...

I like to focus on the things that make me happy so I don't get swallowed up in the moment that can sometimes seem impossible to get through so here are some of the things that help me to be able to call my life WONDERFUL!   

Jada's adorable faces and the cute things she says.

Speaking of cute things Jada says...
We were sitting at the table eating breakfast and Jada says, 
"Mom, you shu take a pishur of Makenz holdeen a baby like dis (mimics hugging a baby) an sen it ta Wae Wae."
I say, "Oh yeah?"
"Yeah, an Wachel."
Translation: "Mom, you should take a picture of Makenzie holding the baby like this - and send it to Rae Rae."  "Yeah, and Rachel." 
(Rae Rae and Rachel are the same person by the way.  She is my wonderful lil' sister and lives in Arizona)

Kishawn and Jazmine have a very unhealthy relationship but sometimes there are glimpses of something that could become great!

I was cleaning the basement and Makenzie was letting me know that she needed to be held.
I let Jazmine play with her since I could see them and they both fell asleep.
So adorable.
I LOVE this girl.  She brings so much joy to my life!!!
She is so curious and 'helps' me with EVERYTHING.

She is such a nurturer.  She got this doll from a Secret Santa and it makes sounds.  One of the sounds it makes is crying.  When the baby 'cries', Kenz gives it a big hug.  SO dang cute!

I love how much my brother Justin LOVES my kids.
They love him just as much!
(They are in the hammock swing in our basement)

I love living near my mommy!

Jazmine, Makenzie and I resting at the top of 'M hill'.
We went on a 4 hour hike that went amazing for my family!
I love sweet quiet moments like these.

At the top of the mountain, I ask Kiana how it's going.
She says, "I feel good.  I walked a long way, I feel strong!"
Having Cerebral Palsy, she has a tendency to say (or sign - she doesn't talk) and think that she can't do many things.
I love times like these that give her a different view of herself!

I love how involved Brad is with our family!
He definitely puts us first.
The kids (and I) get so excited when he has days off of work and can stay home with us.

Kishawn loves to feel powerful and strong.
I love it when he feels powerful after doing GOOD things.

I love this picture!!
She played herself to exhaustion!

Jazmine's baptism

Jazmine turned 8 and was able to be baptized by her Dad.

Grandma and Grandpa Porter flew in from Arizona for the baptism.

She was beaming throughout the entire event.  
I've never seen her look so genuinely happy and at peace.  
She had a sweet smile on her face almost the whole time.
It seemed as though the she was reflecting the light of Christ.

I'm so proud of her for making the decision to be baptized. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

The Easter Bunny came to our house today!


~ I captured her on camera ~

She's just as cute from the front

After capturing her, I gave her a pedicure.

We had a pretty good day today considering it was a holiday.
About an hour or two after we got up and the kids found their Easter baskets, 
things were going really well!  

The kids were saying things like,
"This is so awesome!"
"We're so lucky."
"Do you want some of my candy?" (said to a sibling no less!)
"What color crayon do you want?  Here you go."

No one was destroying any of their new possessions.
No one was trying to attack someone else.
They were all playing peacefully TOGETHER!

I was in heaven.
And I was planning on writing a post bragging about having a really good holiday with 4 traumatized kids!

We did get some of our normalcy back however.

One of them suddenly got this intense need to destroy something.
After trying to stop the destruction a few times, Brad finally gave him something to destroy.
We sent him on his way (to his designated spot in the house) and told him to let us know when he was finished.

We had several incidents of misplaced poop.

When they were well on their way to WAY overstimulating each other, we had some quiet time to give them a chance to calm down.

Which worked for a while.

In the afternoon, there were a few body slams but nothing too major.
We did close out the night with 2 of the kids losing it in their rooms at bedtime.
They switched between manic hysterical laughter and raging screaming for nearly 2 hours.


All things considered...
It was a GREAT day with good memories made!
We had family over for dinner
(Jazmine, Kishawn, and Lauren - my sis)

My dad came in from Arizona!
What a wonderful treat for us to have Papa! 
 (A lot of people ask me where Makenzie got her gorgeous blue eyes from.
Well, here you have it.  I've always wanted his eyes and my baby got them!) 

 It is SO important to ENJOY the journey.
Moments like these make it easier.

I am so richly blessed!!