Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rice Krispy Perfection

You know that commercial where the beautiful, skinny mom with perfect hair and her well dressed kids with cute hair are making Rice Krispy treats together?  They are laughing and having fun and having a wonderful mother and children moment.  The Rice Krispys look so yummy and there are hugs and love all around.  It makes you smile.  It makes you want to do the same thing....



Now picture a mom in sweat pants, hair all crazy from not sleeping well the night before, her kids still in their jammies at 3:00 in the afternoon, no one's hair is done, just pulled back out of their face.  Mom decides to have one of those "magical mommy moments"  But as she is bringing out the Rice Krispy cereal the two oldest are fighting over who gets to do what, while the 2 year old is on the ground screaming because frazzled mom won't give her another marshmallow...
After a huge mess and a some burnt marshmallow Rice Krispy treats sitting in a pan, two kids are in time out and the 2 year old is still screaming, this mom wonders what she did wrong?

The answer to that is: nothing...she lives in the real world.

I find that I compare myself and my life to these unattainable perfect depictions of life.  I see almost every mother around me doing a better job than I do.  I see the perfect skinny mom, the well done hair mom, the stylish (with stylish kids) mom, the "got it all together" mom, the creative and crafty mom, the seemingly amazingly patient mom and last but not least the, super, duper fun mom....and I think to myself, I am not any of these.

Which is isn't true.

We all have our moments.  We all will feel defeated, fat, ugly, hopeless, helpless, unqualified and unfit to be moms.  I loved this article I read today: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2013/12/10/the-bully-too-close-to-home/ 

It really made me think.

I only expect perfection out of a few people in my life: me and my kids...and my husband, most days ;)

I allow everyone else around me to make mistakes and learn from them.  I forgive (usually easily) and move one.  But with myself and my kids...mistakes are not allowed.

I'm not sure why this is...but I know it needs to stop now.

I hope that over this next year, I will be able to allow my kids to grow, to fail, to play more, to be more silly, to spend more time with them and to not expect perfection in any of us.  I hope that this New Year will bring a new found contentment of what life holds.  No one is perfect and no one can be perfect, only our Savior was able to attain perfection.  I hope to be more like Him, in that He did not expect perfection out of anyone He loved, He just loved them.


Lots of love,
Niki

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brave Little Ruby


How do you thank a little girl like, Ruby Bridges?  Who is that, you might ask?  She is the heroic little black girl who took the unforgettable step into integrating white and black children into the same school.

On November 14, 1960 in New Orleans, Louisiana, this beautiful little girl stepped into a "white" world and instead of love, all she found was hate.

So many fought, threatened and actually threw things at this precious little girl.  Good people who attended church every Sunday.  Good people who loved their children and their country.  Good people who said they followed Jesus and believed in a supreme being, actually threw hard, hurtful objects at this little, innocent girl.

 "There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting...."

Said Ruby as she got out of the car.  In her innocent mind, she thought they were celebrating Mardi Gras.

She was met with intolerance and pure hate....

"As soon as Bridges entered the school, white parents pulled their own children out; all teachers refused to teach while a black child was enrolled. Only one person agreed to teach Ruby and that was Barbara Henry, from BostonMassachusetts, and for over a year Mrs. Henry taught her alone....

Every morning, as Bridges walked to school, one woman would threaten to poison her....

Another woman at the school put a black baby doll in a wooden coffin and protested with it outside the school, a sight that Bridges Hall has said "scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us." At her mother's suggestion, Bridges began to pray on the way to school, which she found provided protection from the comments yelled at her on the daily walks."




How can anyone be this way?

This was not that long ago.

And I will say that this bothered me before I had a little, precious black girl...but it bothers me even more now.  To imagine my Lia or any of my children having to endure the hate of adults, makes me sick inside.

It makes me embarrassed to be white.  To know that my own race could hurt a child simply because she wanted to be equal.  To hate simply because it was the "thing" to do.

We are all God's children.  He loves Ruby as he loves the woman who threatend to poison her.  But do WE really love God?  Do our actions show our love of God to all mankind?  Do we judge harshly against those who may look or believe differently than ourselves, even though they are still God's children?

I hope and pray for that day when hate will be taken from the earth and therefore our hearts...but until that day, what are we doing in our own little corner to eradicate it?

Thank you, Ruby and your family, for being willing to change your little part of the world for those who couldn't change it for themselves.  And thank you, Mrs. Henry, Ruby's teacher, for showing us what a true Christian is: loving someone despite popular beliefs.

Lots of love,
Niki

Quotes taken from this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The-problem-we-all-live-with-norman-rockwell.jpg

Friday, November 1, 2013

Now we know the whole story...

For the last few months we have been working with our little Jared on getting his neck and back muscles strong so his head would be able to turn properly.  This was all caused by, Torticollis.

But just that one symptom didn't seem to cover what was happening with my baby.  At nine months, he can't sit up or stand or even push himself up with his arms very well.  At first I thought this was all do to the Torticollis.  But I was wrong.

I decided to take many of your advice and call, Kids on the Move.  They have been fantastic.

And now we know, Jared also has, Low Muscle Tone throughout his entire body.

While this could be genetic, I found out today that it could be from the meth he received during his first trimester.  Once again, I'm heart broken.



I will admit, this is one of the hardest aspects of having to adopt my children.  Knowing that I could have given him a safe and healthy start is maddening.  That we wouldn't be here working with him for hours, days, weeks and months to bring him up to speed, is overwhelming for me right now.

But, I realize even then, there is no guarantee.  Even the most diligent mothers-to-be have children with disabilities and health problems.

That is why, in the end, I am grateful for my faith.

I do know that God has a plan for all of us.  And sometimes his plan is for us to have physical impairments right from the start.  Sometimes those impairments are for ourselves and sometimes its for those around us who grow in love and compassion. Jared's sweet loving attitude and amazingly happy spirit make my life so much brighter.  I just hope and plead that with all this work we are doing, and will be doing, with two physical therapists, he will get better and be stronger.  And that, one day, he will be able to live a normal, happy life.

I am grateful to all my friends who have helped me by sharing their own experiences with their little ones.  I know we are not alone in this journey.  Thank you, to all who have been there for us.  It has meant so much to me.

Lots of love,
Niki




Friday, October 18, 2013

Breakdowns, Torticollis and Helmets

I'm going to start with a back story here: our doctor of 10 years (who has been through everything with us: infertility, surgeries, pregnancies, deliveries, adoptions, shots, baby blues and the regular physicals, found out he had colon cancer two years ago.  He was young, 42 but an x-ray showed some spots and they caught it early.

We thought for sure he would beat it.  And so did he.

Fast forward to Jared's birth and adoption.  We took Jared in for his first physical.  Doctor L. looked a little more sick than normal.  He said he felt fine, but he didn't look it.  Jared was healthy.

We went in for our two month with Jared.  Doctor L. looked even worse.  At about a month I had noticed Jared's little neck wasn't working as it should.  His head hung to one side and he couldn't lift it up...at all.




I took this concern with me to Jared's two month appointment.  Doctor L. looked 20 years older.  He shuffled, his skin was thin and his hair was gone.  He looked awful.  Doctor L. told me it was nothing to worry about.  As he was more worried about Jared's head size and that he may have hydrocephalus.   I trusted his judgement and moved on to worrying with watching for the symptoms of hydrocephalus.

And boy did I worry.

By Jared's four month, Jared's little neck wasn't getting better.  So I started to do exercises with him.  His neck started to get a little stronger.  We tried to get him to do tummy time, but he learned to roll over on his back.  He wouldn't do tummy time longer than 2 minutes.  He loved to lay on his back and play with his sisters.  And then we started to notice his cute little head was becoming flat on one side.  I didn't realize it had anything to do with his neck.  It did.

Two more months passed and now I was more worried than ever, as Jared still wasn't holding his head up.  He wasn't sitting he wasn't standing.  At our next appointment with Doctor L.,  Dr. L. looks even worse than before.  But he still said Jared should be fine.  "He's just a big boy, he may be a little slow".

At this point, I started to feel that Dr. L wasn't right.  He was so sick.  Maybe we weren't getting the right diagnosis.  But I had NO idea what was wrong with Jared, so I didn't know where to turn.




That same week, my mom saw on the the news a report about a disorder called, Torticollis. (http://www.babycenter.com/0_torticollis_10912.bc)
I read it, and new without a doubt that is what Jared had!   I made an appointment with a physical therapist right away and sure enough, I was right.  I was crushed.  Most infants are treated much earlier than Jared is being treated now.

And now we are having a very difficult time correcting his neck and he will have to where a little helmet for the next few months because of his flat spot.  And because Jared is almost 9 months, the helmet may or may not work.

I am devastated.

I made an appointment with our Dr. L once again, but we got an email before we could go, letting us know that Doctor L. would be retiring from his practice.  We were heartbroken.  And last Saturday our sweet doctor of ten years died.

Our sweet doctor was sick.  And so we did not receive the very best care.  I do not want to disrespect him in any way...and I mostly blame myself for not being more adamant about it.

This has been a very difficult thing for me.  And today after we found out that our insurance won't pay for the helmet and that it may not even work, I broke down.  I broke down and cried for a long time.  I work with my little guy every day with exercises and stretches (he hates them) so we should be able to get him up to par...but it is amazing how such a little thing can cause such pain and worry.  I have friends with kids who have cancer.  I have friends who have lost their child to death.  This is such an insignificant little issue compared to those...but I feel overwhelmed all the same.

So when you see our little guy sporting his new helmet in a week or two,  just know that it was a long hard journey for us to get here...I pray that he will be able to make a full recovery and that his little body will be made strong.

I love my little guy.  I just wish I would have known what to do, sooner.

Lots of love,
Niki

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mean Girls Don't Like Colors

Yesterday I came across two posts that literally broke my heart.  While I know most of us, while growing up, will go through a bit of teasing.  I know I was made fun of for being so tall and having freckles....

....But no one should go through being bullied.  No one.

It is amazing to me how kids find those things that are part of our identity, things that we are born with and laugh at it like we had any choice.  "Ha ha, you're tall!"  "Ha ha, you have a big nose!"  "Ha ha, you're black!"  "Ha ha, you have red hair!"

It was interesting to read these two posts.  Both were being targeted for their skin.  One is white with cute freckles and the other has black skin.

What is it about color that makes people so mean?

The first post shared how this sweet little girl with black skin is called dirty, fat and mean because of her race.  The parents of her peers labeled her before she had a chance to be herself and show others who she really is.

Their cruelty upset me more than I imagined.

Being a parent of a child who happens to be African American, my mama bear instincts came out.
How can we live in a world where people hate people because of their color?  How can we, as a society, continue this charade of racism in our homes?

I had a teacher at BYU once talk about my upcoming marriage to my husband in one of my classes.  He was candid and honest and said that he would struggle if his daughter were to marry a black man.  We then opened it up for discussion....he admitted he had a little racism in his heart and he was ashamed by it, but it didn't change how he felt.  I wasn't offended.  But it made me think, how many more of him are there out there...with our discussion I found there were a few.

Will my sweet children, especially my Lia, have limited options in marriage because many are still hung up with their limited love for others not of their own race?

The answer to that is, yes.

Knowing that there are little girls/boys who call said children, the "N" word or dirty, fat and mean because of their color, my sweet daughters have a harder road ahead.  Because they will not only deal with the meanness of their peers, but with the racism of their peers' parents.






The second post was equally as horrible.  This sweet little girl, who I know to be beautiful inside and out, has a few girls as school telling her to her face, that she isn't beautiful.  What?!  She has beautiful red hair, a gorgeous face and her smile lights up a room.  And yet these ruthless, unloving girls are hell bent on making her see herself as otherwise.  Why do mean girls hate color?

Maybe because, they have none.

These mean, ruthless, colorless girls come from mean ruthless colorless homes.  While I am sure some mean children may have parents who care, most, in my opinion, don't.  They learn their "mean" lessons at home.  Their own parents are tearing them down or tearing down others in their sight.

I wish I had an answer when it comes to dealing with these kinds of parents...but I don't.  I guess we can hug our children a little more, try to tell them and teach them their true worth, but I think we just need to be there as a listening ear or get help when needed.

In the end, we will never be able to protect our children from the cruelty of this world.  And hopefully through these lessons our children will grow to be stronger and more empathetic to others' pain.

I believe the best defense we can give our children against a cruel world is a healthy love for themselves.

And the only way we can teach our children this lesson is for us to love ourselves....

No matter what colors you are made of, you are beautiful.


Lots of love,
Niki


Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Take on Mrs. Hall

So many of you have shared the, Mrs. Hall's, "If You are a Teenage Girl" post.  I found it interesting to read all of the comments, as so many of you had so MANY different reactions about something I think our society has had issues with for many many years: helping our daughters understand their true self-worth.

Too many of us girls go through teenage-dome with only one thought on our mind: boys, and how do I get one to like me.  I know I did.  I was obsessed with boys.  This one question went through my mind constantly: am I pretty enough?

I will admit, I didn't think I was.  So I thought (based on what I saw on TV and in magazines) the only way to get the attention of these boys was to dress so they would notice me.  I wore my shorts a little short, my shirt a little tight, I stood how I think they would want me to stand, I tried my best to get their attention in any way that I could.

Now I wasn't a girl who did drugs or smoked or drank alcohol.  I was an honor student, I played sports, I had lot of friends and overall LOVED high school.  The one thing I wish I could take back, however, was how I viewed myself.

Now, Mrs. Hall, I get what you are saying.  I don't want to see young girls flaunting themselves around like objects to be had.  I don't think it is fair for the boys in our lives to be overwhelmed with visual pleasure they didn't seek to find.  I get that the standards for her boys' girlfriends are high...but it goes both ways.  Do our boys seek for those girls who are modest and pure?  And instead of shunning those who are not up to par with our standards, maybe our sweet boys could help them see where their true beauty really lies.  We all want our daughters to be of high standards.  Our sons will help dictate that as well.

Now, I have three girls and one son.  No way do I want my son hanging around girls who think of themselves as sex objects.  I also don't want my daughters thinking of themselves that way.  But who's fault is it really?  The girls?  The boys?  The parents?  Our society?  Of course, its a little of everything.  Even the most perfect parent can't make their child do the right thing all of the time.  In fact, a young girls' friends (especially the boys) will have the most influence over said daughter and what she does and how she sees herself.

So, Mrs. Hall, I am going to turn the tables a little.  Maybe if we teach our boys to respect and compliment those girls who are modest, smart and kind, more girls would follow suit.  Maybe if the boys of Mrs. Hall's boy's generation could make a girl see her true self-worth without her having to take off her clothes, the dynamic would change.

As a parent of three girls, I pray daily that my daughters will grow up knowing that they are truly a daughter of God (no matter what you call Him) we are His creatures.  We are His to follow and to try to emulate.

For every girl out there who thinks that wearing tight clothes and short shorts is what these boys really want (at least the boys who are worth having) you couldn't be more wrong.  Yes, ALL boys will look. Yes, some may want to kiss you or date you once or twice, but they will not be looking for anything long term...I promise.  Any boy who is worth having is a boy who looks beyond the body and sexual appeal.  Any boy worth having is a boy who wants to keep you pure and modest.  Any boy worth having is a boy with his own set of good values who isn't swayed by anyone.  Even you.  Girls, love yourselves.  Be honest and true to yourselves.  Don't let any boy dictate what you are really worth.  If he truly loves you, you are worth waiting for.


Lets all work together to save our daughters and our sons.  Let's all help them see who they really are and what true beauty really means.  Our society is flawed, it always has been.  Let's be proactive parents, teachers, and friends.

Lots of love,
Niki


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer-time Blues

So I am a Facebooker.  I check it several times a day.  Somedays I post several pictures, ideas and comments, but most days I am just an observer.

Lately, I have observed from many a friend that their little ones are starting to get on their nerves this summer.



This is an age old problem.  I am sure your, "Leave it to Beaver" type families in the 50's and before had many days where their children were just too much to handle.  But these people happen to be the older generation of our day now and for some reason forgot completely how difficult raising little ones can be.

For instance:

While at the store one day, my very precocious two year old was having a little spout of, "Give me what I want or I will tear this store down bit by bit" tantrum.  My four year old was whining and my six year old was standing by watching it all come down around me.

A sweet grandma in her 70's or 80's told me to, "Enjoy this time.  It goes by too fast."  I looked at her with what I am sure was shocked a dismayed eyes, as I couldn't imagine, at that moment, for one second, that I would ever be able to enjoy this moment.  And I didn't want to.



However, as I have thought about that experience, I have come to realize that this wise and seasoned mother was probably trying to let me know that while these little ones have the power and stamina to drain you right down into a withering heap on the floor, the problems and stresses you deal with at the age of 2 or 4 are far easier than the stresses you deal with when your child is 14, 18 or 30, when life really counts.

It is Summer.  Our kids are all around us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They are bored, hot, bored, and ready to start school usually a month before it actually starts.

While I am not an expert when it comes to overcoming the Summer-time blues, I have come up with a few ways to make my day a little easier and for me to enjoy "these moments" a little more.  First, commit to mommy-time.  Most children do things just for our attention, whether it is good or bad.  I find that if I have, even five minutes of mommy time with my children, they feel less inclined to act out in a negative way.

So I put together a list of about 20 things and cut them into strips of things that I, and I emphasize "I", would like to do with my children, such as playing a matching game, reading books, going on a nature walk...and each day one child gets to chose out of a jar something for us to do together.  We do it every day at the same time and they don't let me forget.

Second, find time for yourself.  Hand the kiddos off to your hubby or your mom or a friend (if you don't have any of those, put on a movie) and just sit for as long as you can.  Read a book, take a walk...do something that clears your mind.  Doing something just for you helps you be a better mom.  My amazing, wonderful, beautiful little sister (my BFF is her older sister) is the Hungry Runner Girl and one of her posts rang true to me with this idea:
http://www.hungryrunnergirl.com/2013/05/why-working-out-helps-me-personally-to-be-a-better-mom.html

Third, breathe.  This is something I need to work on.  When my baby is crying, my two year old is screaming and one or both of my older children are wining about some drama in their lives, I try to just remove myself for a moment to breath.  I count to 10 or jump up and down until I feel better.  This usually distracts them from whatever they were crying about and they start jumping with me. :)

In the end I think that sweet old woman was right.  Enjoying the moment is something we should all try to do in life, no matter where we are.  But I know from my own experience it is much easier not to.  I hope we can try a little harder to combat the summer-time blues and give ourselves a break. Let's enjoy our babies while we can.  Our children will grow too fast, right before our eyes, and one day we will be the ones telling a frazzled, tired mom of little ones to enjoy this moment.

Because we will finally understand how much we miss it.



Lots of love,
Niki

Monday, June 10, 2013

Stress in Hiding

Have you ever done something in your life that was stressing you out and you didn't even realize it?  Have you taken on a project that seems to be a perfect fit, but find yourself feeling overwhelmed anyway?



This is what happened to me.

I would have to say that having my fourth baby has really been my breaking point.  I feel tired and overwhelmed with kids needing my attention.  I love each one of my precious little babes, and I felt myself being short tempered and feeling less than enthusiastic in playtime with them.

I decided to take a deep hard look at what could be a cause of this.

I will say this, I feel it is very important for each and every person to find a hobby, interesest, a talent...something that is just yours and work on it.  It could be running, art, music, reading, writing, photography, sewing, etc.  

As I looked at what I was doing with my time, I found more time than I thought was being taken up by my photography.  I was taking time away from my children with the planning, shooting and editing time of taking pictures.  I was blessed to have many clients and many opportunities to work with some amazing and fun people...but I was missing my children.

 I found myself stressing over the weather for the session, the time of the shoot, getting the session done in time for Hannah's recital or Lia's activity...I found myself not being around for many bedtime stories and prayers.  I found myself running out the door at dinner time or Saturday morning snuggle time.  And then my husband asked me one day, "Are you happy doing this?"

I thought about that.  And I came to the conclusion that while I do love photography, I found that I don't love the time it takes away from my children or my husband.  

I am grateful for the time I spent taking pictures of babies, families, brides and grooms, children and even pets; it pushed me to be a better photographer.

I will never give up photography.  But I will be learning and doing things on my own time.  

Lots of love,
Niki

Thursday, May 16, 2013

She made me a mother...

I think there is something special about your first child, of course this doesn't mean that you love this child more than your others, but your first child is the one who made you a mother.  This child is the one who breaks you into the craziness and joy that is being a mother.  They are your guinea-pig for everything you do as a mother.  You count on them, you are harder on them and you find yourself learning how much you really don't know as a mother because of them.

Hannah is my oldest.


I couldn't have asked for a better "oldest" child.

She is loving, kind, smart, helpful, funny, (mostly) obedient, spiritual, and beautiful inside and out.

My Hannah made me a mother.


I have said this before and I will say it again, I always wanted to be a mother and as soon as Flavio and I were married we felt that we should try to build our family.

Of course, after a year of trying, I still wasn't a mother.

So we turned to In Vitro and after the first round, I still was not a mother.

Then we did a second round, I still was not a mother.

But I wasn't going to give up.

After our third try at In Vitro I heard the most wonderful and joyful words from our doctor,

"You're pregnant!"

And this little bundle of sweetness came into our lives and made us parents.



We named her Hannah, which means, "gift from God".

She was a true miracle and gift to us.

And now my little miracle is seven.


And I still can't believe seven years have gone by.

This little spirit has brought me more joy and love than I could have ever asked for.

I love you, Hannah!

Happy Happy Birthday to the most amazing seven year old in my life!

Lots of love,
Mom







Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Unmade Bed

There is something about getting my bed made every day that makes me feel like I actually accomplished something.  I know it sounds crazy, but that is how I feel.

So today when I went into my room it was 3:40 and I noticed I hadn't made my bed.

I thought to myself, have I done anything today?



So I really thought about it... (and this is in no way to brag, I have a point, so bear with me)

First, I woke up at 3:00 am to feed my little guy.  He has made that a regular for the last week or so.  So once I got him fed and burped, it was about 3:30.  Then, I went back to bed.

 I woke up to my 2 year old crying for us at 6:30 am and we were up for the day.

I did Hannah's hair, got Eva and Lia breakfast and sent Hannah and Flavio off.

I then fed Jared again.

And I ate.

After that, I gave both Eva and Lia a bath, letting them play awhile.  Once we were done, I got Lia ready for school.  I decided to french braid her hair, which is not an easy task, but she loves it, so we did it and then finished with Eva's hair.

Then I loaded everyone in the van and we were off to Lia's school, after I took a few minutes to freshen up.

Straight from Lia's school I took Jared and Eva to the grocery store.  Eva didn't make it easy.  She loves to get in and out of the cart and gets angry when I don't do as she desires....

We then came home and I put all the groceries away.

Then I loaded everyone back in the car and we went to get Lia from school.

Once we got home, I made lunch for Eva and Lia and fed Jared again.  I got them all down for a nap and made my own lunch.  With a few minutes for myself, I decided to call my mom as I needed a little adult time.  That usually takes up about an hour ;)

After I talked to my mom I picked up a around the house did a little laundry and made an important phone call.

Then I woke both Lia and Eva up so we could go pick up Hannah from her school in American Fork.

Once we got back, I spent time with Hannah and her homework, did a few more chores and that is when I found my bed...unmade with the pillows on the floor.

But, once I went through all that I had done in my head, I realized the bed being unmade wasn't really that big of deal after all.  Of course I made it, it makes me feel better when I do.

I then loaded everyone back in the car and off to Hannah's dance class we went.

I guess I really did do something today.

My point here is, I'm too hard on myself as a mother and housewife sometimes.  It's hard to see what we have done somedays, as there is little concrete evidence of how we may have spent our time...but we do so much every day: spending time with our kids, doing things for them, ie changing diapers, doing hair, giving baths, getting them dressed, getting them snacks, breaking up fights and tantrums, making sure they are fed, clothed and educated.  Not to mention any play time we spend with them.  We do house work, cleaning bathrooms, cooking, doing dishes, getting kids to the doctor, school and other activities.  We help neighbors and family, we have play dates and chats with friends.

In the end, you have done more than you know.

I hope that I can learn from this and I hope you can too.  Just because your bed isn't made doesn't mean you haven't done anything productive that day...it just means you didn't get to making the bed.

Lots of love,
Niki

Friday, May 3, 2013

Adoption vs. Abortion

This has been in the news lately, and I wanted to share my thoughts....


Adoption vs abortion may seem like an easy choice for most of us.

It would be so easy to say, "Of course I will give this baby life and give him/her to total strangers...."
(lots of sarcasm here)

Now don't get me wrong, with my life's experiences, I am definitely PRO-LIFE.

However, just like most complex issues in this world, nothing is really black or white. 

Of course the moral of it is, black or white.

For example:

Abortion is murder.  Unless there are health issues or psychological issues.
while...
Adoption gives life and most of the time blesses all involved.

Thus one can conclude that Abortion is bad
and Adoption is good.

However...

Try being in that woman's shoes who has to choose.

(Just a side note, this post does not sympathize with those women/men who are pro-choice for no other reason than to think abortion isn't murder or that their lifestyle means more than any fetus's.  I will never agree with their ideals of what "life" is and that the baby doesn't have any say.  This post is only for all of us to look at how broken our society is when comes to this topic and how we can change the rhetoric)

First, I don't blame the government, abortion happens everywhere with every government...the government is just trying to control who they will end up feeding and supporting for the rest of our lives.

I blame us.

I blame our inability to talk about complex issues with those who need it most, our children.

We live in a society today where selfishness and responsibility are trying to go hand in hand.

The world says,

"Be responsible, don't do anything wrong!"

"But if you do, fix it so it doesn't bother the rest of us."

After going through 10 years of infertility I had to overcome my anger towards...every pregnant teenage girl I saw, or the pregnant women I saw smoking a cigarette or the ones I didn't see who did drugs or drank alcohol or the millions of babies born and left in orphanages without love or a family, and of course my anger towards any woman who felt abortion is an option...with that, I feel I have somewhat to say on this subject. 

From the beginning of time, children have disobeyed.
Why do we think just teaching our kids NOT to do something will work?

For instance, I taught for a few years about adoption and spoke briefly about abortion in one of our local high schools every May...

...Many parents had their child removed from the class for my presentation.

Every year, five or six kids would be dismissed and then I could start, and every year I was amazed.

How is NOT talking about it going to ever help these kids make a more informed decision?


So I hope we are not too quick to judge...

...Many of these girls and women are pressured by those they trust most.

Let's work harder at talking about the subject.  Let's get ourselves educated for our own children's sake.
We cannot control what our children will do, what mistakes they will make...and they will make mistakes....  But we can control what they learn in our home and whether or not they feel they can trust us...with anything.

Both my Lia and my Jared's birthmothers were told to abort by people they trusted.
Both were left alone, and both contemplated doing it.

We are eternally grateful neither one decided to listen.

But many do.


When the world told them to abort,
Our birthmothers chose to give us life.
And now the world is truly a better place,
because we are still in it.

While I will always be pro-life,  I now feel sorry for those who don't know better or who feel pressure to FIX it.

 I know God has a plan for each of us and he will care for all of the spirits who are taken too soon.

He loves all of us.  Whether we deserve it or not.
And whether you think someone does or not, is not your place.
Let's be a comforting hand, a hand that helps these scared girls to know there is another choice, and then help them through it.

Lots of love,
Niki





Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Choice To Stay Home

I grew up with a mom that worked, her mother worked and so did most of my aunts.  I grew up with friends who had mothers that worked and mothers that stayed home.  

In honesty, growing up, I never really thought about whether or not staying at home was the thing for me.  Everyone always asked me what do you want to be when you grow up?
 I never had heard anyone say, "a stay-at-home-mom" before, so it never really crossed my mind.

So I would say, "a teacher" or "a nurse", the ones most girls say.  (no offense to the guy teachers or nurses)

Later on, I wanted to be an architect, I even started going to college for that one.

But as I got older, I realized what I really wanted to do.  I realized in my heart what I really, truly wanted.

To be a stay-at-home-mom.



Now, don't get me wrong here with this post.  Most, if not all of you, who read my blog realize I do not sit very far right on the political side.  I tend to lean a little to the left...but I would say more in the middle. So this post is not about politics or even religion.  

It is about choice.

I am not coming out against women who want to work, or of course, have to work.  I know how this world works.  However, I read a very disturbing article today that demonized MY choice to be a stay-at-home-mom.  The article was about what Anne Summers will be sharing in her new book, (which I won't advertise).  It discribes "my kind" to be, "Yummy Mummies".  She looks at my day as sorting socks, making crafts and cleaning out my linen closets.

I will be honest.  This bothered me a lot.

I went to college.  I have a degree in International Communications.  I speak Japanese.  I have traveled.  I read a lot of books.  I stay up on my current events.  I feel I have not "regressed" the women's rights movement as she put it, but I have made a choice based on my right to do what I wanted most for myself and more importantly for my family.

Now, I know that staying at home with my children has not been all that I thought it would be.  In fact there are days where I wish I could run away screaming.  But I worked before I had kids, and there were plenty of days I wanted to run away from those jobs as well.

I guess what I really want to say is this, regardless of what we choose, we should not look down on anyone for their choice.  For all of you working mothers out there, I respect your decision as I hope you respect mine.  

I feel the most important part of the "women's suffrage" and the "women's rights" movements wasn't about us becoming equal to men, it was about allowing us to choose what we want for ourselves and hopefully what is best for our families.  It was about allowing us to be partners in raising a future generation.  It is not to do exactly what the men were already doing.  I am not a man.  I don't want to be one.  I love being a woman.  And I love being a mother.  

In closing, I hope that as a people we can really stop all this judging.  Stop judging people because of their religion, their color, their politics and their choices.

It isn't our place to judge others...unless it threatens our family's safety.


I am proud of my job.  I love my kids.  I love my family.  This was my choice my decision.  I am a strong woman with very strong opinions.  I am grateful for this trait although I consider it both my strength and my weakness.

And because of that strength, I will never be embarrassed to answer the question of, "what do you do?" with, "I am a stay-at-home mom."

Lots of love,
Niki

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The letter "i" is tantrum causing....

Every night, Flavio and I read to to our children both all together and then each child gets one book of their choice alone with mom or dad.  Tonight, Flavio was gone for his church calling so I was left on duty.  The night was going well until it was Lia's turn to read.  

Lia is going through a phase where she wants to learn to read.  This is exciting, I know, however teaching a gifted child anything can be...well, it can be very difficult.  Lia can memorize anything.  I will read one simple book to her and the next night she can say it all back, perfectly.  Unfortunately she thinks this is reading.

So we have been working on our letters.  She knows almost all of the sounds.  So we have been doing simple combinations.



Tonight, while working on this, she said she forgot the sound of "i".  Which of course is fine, but I let her work it out a little.  Then she said it right.  But forgot it again when she needed to combine it with "n" for "in".  I told her she had just said it and she needed to try again...and then she flipped.  So I left.  Well her little tantrum continued as I went to read with Hannah and what you are about to see is after about 3 minutes of this tantrum.

She hates it when I video tape her.  This usually makes her stop.  But not tonight.  This is just a small portion of the video which continued for 3 more minutes until she finally stopped and used her breathing tool to calm down.


This is very typical for my day.  She throws usually one or two of these a day (this one was extra long).  Having a gifted child, while exciting is, for the most part, very difficult.  

She cries more than my two year old and baby combined.  Hands down.

I love my Lia.  

But...

...She is the child that has me on my knees the most.
She is the child that tests my strength, daily.
She is the child I worry about constantly.
She is the child that makes motherhood harder than I could ever imagine.


I hope one day, she will know this.
And know, 
every prayer, 
class, 
book, 
scream,
hug, 
tear 
and punishment 
was done out of love.

lots of love,
A very worn out mother 


Monday, April 15, 2013

Imaging Yourself....

The idea of how we see ourselves is something we don't talk about a lot.  However, it is definitely something we all think about, or better said, worry about often.  As women, we tend to see our faults rather than our positives.  We want what we don't have, we hope to be what we can't.  As women we try to mimic "other" women's beauty by how we dress, do our hair, work out and even sometimes with surgery.   

I remember all too well not feeling pretty growing up.  Feeling left out when the "popular" girls didn't seem to notice me or include me.  When the "rich" girls made fun of my Kmart clothes or Payless shoes.  When I was made fun of because I have too many freckles or because I was too tall.  When I didn't get asked to a dance or turned down for a girl's choice dance (yes, that really happened).  Our self image is very fragile at that time.  And while I have matured and have come to realize what "they" may have said or not said is not true or does not truly reflect who I am, those memories are still with me.  

They helped to shape my self image.



But, not necessarily for the bad.

I am now not oblivious to the pain low self image can cause. I can help my own children have confidence in not only how they look, but how they treat others.

And I am sure I am not alone.

For those of you out there with low self image or if you want your daughter to understand that how the world (the grown up world) sees her is usually very different from how she sees herself,
please watch this amazing piece about how we should try to change our own self image.

It is so worth your time!


Lots and lots of love,
Niki



Sunday, April 14, 2013

A little too long...

Okay, I know it has been awhile since my last post.  Sorry.  We have been renovating our main and upper floors in our house and I have been a little out of my element....


While I am SO excited for the result...living through a large renovation is stressful.
People say it all the time,
and I am here to tell you,
it is true!

Renovation=stress.
Great renovation in the end=so exciting!

So, we have until Wednesday (hopefully) for it all to be done :)

I will show pics when it is done :)

Lots of love,
Niki

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A little Facebook guilt

Why is it in our nature to compare ourselves to everyone around us?  We get so down on ourselves because we don't seem to be as amazing as another.  They seem prettier, skinnier, happier, richer, more blessed, more exciting, they seem to have more friends, they seem to be a better parent or spouse, they have a better job or a bigger house...the list goes on and on.



I have noticed a few comments on Facebook lately that just fuel this idea.  I have known plenty of friends and family who have canceled their accounts because of the constant reminder of how awesome others' lives are.

This makes me sad.  Not that I care whether or not someone is on Facebook, in fact, there are plenty of times I want to cancel as well, but my reasons are different and I'll save that for another time....

What makes me sad is, that we as humans have such a hard time being thankful for what WE have, rather than always wanting what OTHERS have.  I, of course, am guilty of this blunder.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” 
― Epicurus


If we could only understand how special each and every one of us is.  If we could but look in the mirror every day and see what our (young) kids see, what (hopefully) our spouse or parents see, and most importantly, what God does see, we just may have a better outlook on our life in the present.

So you may not bake like your neighbor, or fit in her jeans.  You may not throw the most amazing party for your kids or give them all that you might want to.  You may not get out of your pj's until 2:00 in the afternoon or take a shower that day.  You may not have the cleanest house or yummiest dinner on the block....

But, guess what,  I know that you have plenty to offer.  You are the only you there will ever be.  You are the only one that will be able to do what only you can do.  So find out what makes you special and be happy for it.  Be grateful you are not like everyone else.

No one has a perfect life.  No one is always happy.  No one has everything.  So don't compare yourself to something that is impossible to obtain.  The only person you should compare yourself against, is YOU.

Be the best YOU, you can be.  Be the better today than you were yesterday.

“We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” 
― Neal A. Maxwell


Lots of love,
Niki

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Little Warm Water

Okay, so I will say that I am a little upset that I didn't know this with my first or second child.  I remember Hannah having tummy troubles when she was very small and I didn't know any tricks of the trade.

I would try to sooth her and help her all that I could, but she pretty much just had to work it out on her own.  

Then we had Lia, and I learned that there was something called Mylicon.  This is a wonder solution, you give your newborn a couple of drops and it works almost every time for their little gas pains and issues.

But there are those times that is doesn't work.

Then Eva came along and the Mylicon didn't work as well.  Luckily, I was able to talk with a very experienced mother when Eva was having a very hard time and she shared a piece of "gold" info with me.  

 And I feel that this piece of "gold" needs to be shared.  

The other night, Jared was having a very hard time and nothing was working.  So I decided to use this amazing piece of advice: "give him 2 ounces of very warm water".  The water needs to be REALLY warm, but...
PLEASE, PLEASE make sure it isn't too warm.


Yep, that is it.  Very warm water.

So, I got the bottle just right in temp, by testing it on my wrist and went right to work.

Jared was a little shocked with the temp, but drank it right down with a look of, "Thank you" on his face.  His tummy was soothed immediately, he was able to pass that all too uncomfortable gas that plagues so many little ones and went right to sleep.

Baby was calm and mommy was happy.

Both were then able to go back to sleep.

lots of love,
Niki  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Throwing Away Candy

So lately I have been off the wagon when it comes to staying healthy.  Adopting a new baby, getting little to no sleep and hurting my foot have all played a part in this annoying little spat.  However, I got to thinking today that I have a bigger problem.  Sure all of those things contribute to my overall lack of energy and actual ability to exercise and daily desire to eat for comfort.  But they are not the entire problem.

So what is the real issue here?

The answer I came up with was... 

...throw away the candy.



Now literally this is a great idea.  I have become a candy junky over the last few weeks and I am starting to pay for it.  So throwing away any candy I have in the house will help solve part of the issue, but it's just band aide to cover the real problem.

I thought about this and I realized that the candy also was a metaphor to the junk I have been storing in my subconscience.  And what I mean by that is, I have to come to accept the attitude of, I will do it later, who cares, I can't change who I am, or it's too hard.

Now, lately every time I look in the mirror I haven't liked what I see.  That is to say, I am not happy with my body.  Now, I have recently come to accept that I have certain physical conditions that will not let me do ALL that I would like to do to get in shape.  Running and the elliptical are out for me.  But there are plenty of great ways to exercise that don't include running.  So I am throwing out my "exercising excuse candy" TODAY!

I am also throwing out all of the negative thoughts about myself that I have let linger. My comparing myself to all the cute, skinny women out there who by the way have worked SUPER hard to attain said body.  I am clearing out the candy shelf that makes me feel fat, ugly and depressed and I am going to start adding fruits and vegetable thoughts, such as, I am kind, loving, a good mom and wife.

So let's throw out our candy.  Get rid of all those things that make us feel bad about ourselves.  And when those thoughts and candies creep back into our subconsciences, don't be afraid to clean it out again.


One of my heros is, Hellen Keller.  Her drive to overcome ALL that she faced is so inspiring.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from this amazing woman:


“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” 

So, lets be of good cheer.  No one can make us happy but ourself.  No one is in charge of what we do, but ourself.  Let's find out what kind of candy is keeping us from reaching our goals and throw it all in the trash today.

Lots of love,
Niki

 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The little things

I realize that the last few posts have been a little on the negative side. 

 So lets switch gears for a minute.

Bringing home a brand new baby is hard work, exhausting and some times just plain overwhelming...

 ...however, when you bring home a baby you also get moments like these:




I am one blessed mommy.

I love my children more than I can express.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” 



Lots of love,
Niki


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gifted Little Liar

With the addition of a new little one, you can imagine that my three girls have reacted in their own way to Jared's arrival.  While I know they all love him and think he is cute, some crazy developments have surfaced as well.  Hannah is old enough that she has been nothing but awesome, but Eva's terrible twos have seemed to come on full force with full-on tantrums and disobedience, and Lia has turned to lies.

When we bring home a new baby, we always buy the child just older than the baby a new doll.  This way that child can have a baby of their own to care for and to copy mom and dad with.  It has been a big success, mostly...

...but now we move to our Lia...who has lied since she was two...but is now a challenging daily habit.  I am not talking about making up stories of fairies and make-believe friends, we are talking lying about making her bed, cleaning her room, washing her hands, hitting Hannah, the list goes on and on....

Let's just say, I am at a loss.  I am tired and I am out of ideas.  If you have any helpful words they will be most welcome.

While occasional lying is normal for most children, gifted kids present a different challenge. Their ability to reason ahead of their ability to control impulses can often result in a situation ripe with the temptation to lie. The child sees what they want, they know they are not supposed to have it, and devise a plan to get it. Most of the time, they are caught. When they are not, they store that experience away for future reference.
Reprimands are also a challenge. Gifted kids have the ability to rationalize very readily. Take away the stuff in their room, and they will simply convince themselves they really didn’t want those things anyway. Pretty soon, they have nothing left in their room, and they’re still unfazed. Stealing represents an extension of this same behavior. I want it, so I take it. No one will miss it. The reasons for taking the items is rationalized in an instant. (http://www.leosoderman.com/2009/12/05/behavior-in-gifted-kids-%E2%80%93-lying-and-stealing/)

Help.
Lots of love,
Niki

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Adoption Blues



As I sit here typing, I am holding my son while he sleeps.  

It is amazing how one can sit and watch a sleeping baby for long periods of time and be completely mesmerized by their sweet face, his perfect small lips, his hair that sticks straight up, his cute little nose, and those amazing, tiny ears. 



When I had both, Hannah and Eva through IVF, and after the actual process of IVF, everything about my pregnancies was normal.  I was sick for the first few months, I started to show a baby bump and then I was able to feel my sweet babies move and grow inside me.  It was amazing and wonderful.  I was able to bond with both Hannah and Eva, before they kept me up all night.  I would talk and sing to them.  I would tell them about me and their dad.  I would imagine which parts of me and which parts of Flavio would they have. I could caress and stroke my belly, comforting them and loving them.

However, with adoption, you don't get those experiences.  And now that we have been blessed to adopt two precious souls, I can honestly say, missing out on those experiences, going through the tireless act of caring for and worrying about a new baby, has caused me to have PAD or Post Adoption Depression...again.  (http://www.babyzone.com/mom/postpartum-depression/post-adoption-depression_68621)

The first time round, when we adopted Lia, I wasn't aware that PAD was happening.  I was sad, overwhelmed and had a hard time bonding with her.  Not bonding only added to the guilt, which added to the sadness.  

Luckily, this time, understanding that PAD is a possibility, I have been able to cope some what better.  I have been able to bond easily with my little son.  And while the stresses of having a newborn and all the issues that are associated with adoption have still been overwhelming at times, I have tried to not dwell so much on the negative aspects that come with adoption and focus more on the simple amazing blessing, Jared is.  This hasn't made everything easy...but it has helped.

For many of you who are adopting or have adopted, I feel it is important to have this conversation.  It is a real part of the process for many and in the end can make the entire adoption process very difficult.  If we don't talk about it, many of us will suffer without help.  This is not healthy for you or your new bundle of joy.

The human heart is complex.  How you feel is neither wrong or right.  Get help if you need it.

Lots of love,
Niki






Thursday, February 7, 2013

No Easy Answer

Today was Jared's first time meeting with our family doctor.  We love our doctor.  He has been with us from the very moment we found out we would not be able to have kids on our own.  He delivered both, Hannah and Eva and has seen us through two adoptions :)

Jared is doing very well, he surpassed his birth weight and is now exactly 7 pounds and he grew a whole half an inch!  I was so happy to know that he is growing and he is overall very healthy.

The rest of this post is for me to let out some feelings that explain why he is not perfectly healthy.

The first few days with Jared were great, he was such a calm baby.  He slept a ton and was pretty much just observant to all the world around him when he was awake.  But after three days, his mood started to change a bit.  His sleeping habits changed and he became more and more fussy.  While this is common for many babies, it was different with him.

When I went to the doctor today, I explained my concerns for his change.  The doctor went through all the paper work we had brought back from the hospital.  He looked up at me with a serious face and told me, he is going through nicotine withdrawals.  Tears streamed down my cheeks at this answer.

My poor baby.

My doctor reassured me that it will pass and he will be just fine.  It broke my heart all the same.

There is no easy answer as to why I couldn't be the birth-mom of this precious little soul.  I would have never polluted my body the way his birth-mother did.  And while I know she loves him, it is still very hard to watch your baby suffer because of the choice of someone else.

I know God has a plan.  And His plan is perfect for my Jared.  I hope to one day understand what that plan is and learn from it.

Lots of love,
Niki



Sunday, February 3, 2013

One Week Old and Miracles do Happen.

This past week has been a crazy one...  

In fact, since January 17th, we were matched with a birth-mom, accepted the match, talked with her on the phone twice, two hours after our second call, our birth-mom's water broke, we had a late night frantic packing party and an even crazier time booking flights.
Flavio and I both ended up in Washington the following day, however we had to take different flights and were four hours apart.  We were able to spend a little over a day with Jared, his birth-mom, and his birth-grandma.  We were then given full custody of Jared the following day.  And now after spending almost an entire week with our son, I will be the first one to say, God does have a plan and miracles do happen.

I can't believe our little son will be one week old tomorrow.  

His existence has brought so many love, joy and courage.

We can't wait to bring him home.  

Thank you all for your love and your prayers. 




Lots of love,
Niki