Sunday, December 31, 2006

Senseless Destruction

In 2002 I had the amazing opportunity to travel to the country of Tonga. Tonga is a tiny group of islands in the South Pacific, near Fiji, Samoa, etc. Brent's Mom & Dad were serving a mission there for our church and they asked my sister in law to come visit. She asked me to travel with her and I am so thankful that I did!

There are many, many reasons I am thankful for that trip. I was able to spend time with Brent's parents and my sister in law. Since Brent and I had only been married just over two years at that point, it was wonderful to get to know them all better. Plus, Brent's Dad passed away shortly after they returned home. The two weeks I spent in Tonga were such a blessing as I had a chance to really get to know Dad.

Something I didn't expect when I got to Tonga was how quickly I would fall in love with the people there. Tonga is a very poor country. Many people live in conditions that we as Americans would never accept. There are many churches in Tonga who work hard to ensure their young people get an education by sending them to church run schools. What the people lack in financial means they more than make up for in kindness, happiness and true spirit. I met so many wonderful people there. People I will never forget. I would love to travel back there some day.

The country seemed a little behind the times to me. Everywhere we went, we heard 80's music. There are few modern conveniences for many of the villages. The people and the country seemed far removed from the worries and concerns of the world. In fact, when I got home, I joked with Brent that if nuclear war ever breaks out, we should travel to Tonga as we'd likely be safe there.

A few weeks ago I was looking online for info and news on Tonga. Since they are kind of a small country, there usually isn't too much that makes it to the states. I was thrilled to find a website with Tongan news. I couldn't wait to read all about it and share the info with Brent's Mom. To my shock and horror, I quickly learned that my ideal little country wasn't as far away from the "real world" as I had thought. On November 16 the entire capital city of Nuku'Alofa was overtaken by gangs fighting for political reform. They rioted and burned and looted the many businesses there. It was a well planned attack. There are many Chinese families who live in Tonga and their businesses were targeted. More than 200 Chinese left the country afterwards. They had to call in troops from New Zealand and Australia to help guard the airport and the downtown. At least six youth died. So far there have been more than 700 arrests. Most of these kids probably didn't realize what they were fighting for. Brent's Mom has several friends still in Tonga. One friend wrote to her and told about the destruction and the sadness. My heart just breaks.

I am not only sad that this happened but sad that my vision of Tonga has been so drastically changed. Never again will I think of it as the quiet, safe, somewhat behind the times country. Never again will it be those things in real life. I have come to realize that political strife is un-biased and can occur anywhere.

As we embark on this new year, I hope and pray that peace will find all of us. I have learned that peace begins with me, in my home and in my family. No, I may not be able to change the world with my view points but I can certainly do my best to make sure that my kids live in a peaceful home even if the world around them is anything but.

I pray that peace and happiness will be yours this new year!

Another Year Done

Wow, how is it possible that another year has come and gone? Brent and I have come to categorize our memories not by which year something happened but which house we lived in when it did. The house we are in now is the seventh house in our seven years of marriage. Seems impossible. Although we know this isn't the last house we'll live in, I hope that we are a little more settled over the next seven years!

So much has happened in our lives over the past year. Tyler turned two this year and Emmalee turned one. Collin turned thirteen! Now that's just crazy. Brent and I celebrated our seventh anniversary. We finalized both adoptions. We moved from Phoenix to Rochester, no small feat. We've had our share of illnesses, some worse than others. The one Brent has now being on the worse end of the scale. We've watched our kids grow like wild and learn, learn, learn. Tyler has learned to crawl, pull himself up, get all over the house even if he can't walk yet. He has learned to say so many words both vocally and in sign. He has developed the sweetest, funniest personality and he is just a joy to be around. Emmalee learned to crawl, walk, run, climb, run, take her diaper off, take Tyler's diaper off, talk, throw fits and give the best kisses ever, when she'll let you have one. :) She is a ham and does whatever she can to make us laugh. These kids never cease to amaze us. They are so fun to be around and we love watching them and listening to their endless giggles. They have developed a great relationship with each other. Emmalee is very loving and giving to Tyler and Tyler is forever patient with Emmalee. What blessings they are!

2006 has been a good year for us. My hope is that we will all continue to have peace and happiness in the year to come.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Day After Christmas

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was great. It was a bit strange to be all the way in NY and so far away from our families. But, it was still great simply because Brent was home and feeling better. I am truly thankful we didn't have to celebrate at the hospital.

The kids had a great time. They really enjoyed opening the gifts and we had so much fun watching them.

Here's hoping your Christmas was wonderful.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Wow, we are truly blessed in so many ways. My sweet husband has been so sick these past couple of weeks. In seven years of marriage I have never seen him this sick. It has been terrible to watch him go downhill. But, even in the midst of all the sickness and added stress, I am reminded of my many blessings.

I am truly thankful for friends and for my church family. How truly lucky we are to have all of you! Last night I was able to make a quick phone call and we had someone here to watch the kids. Same goes for today. Brent's boss has been so amazing. They have had someone calling or emailing to make sure we are alright and that we have what we need. People I know from our adoption agency have checked in to make sure all is well. It is truly overwhelming, in a good way.

To all of you who have called, emailed, helped with the kids or said a prayer on behalf of our family, thank you! Words can't express how much you all mean and how much we appreciate your love and kindness. I only hope I will be able to do the same for you or someone else in need in the future.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


When I was growing up Christmas was always sort of a bittersweet time of year for me. That is, after my parents were divorced it turned into a difficult time. I can remember the painful task of trying to decide who I should spend the holidays with. If I went to my Dad's for Thanksgiving, I had to miss out on Thanksgiving with my Mom, Sister and Grandparents. If I chose to spend Christmas with my Mom, I had to miss out on Christmas with my Dad, his girlfriend, her daughter and other family, which I also considered to be part of my family. I always felt that I was never going to win, no matter what I decided. Regardless of who I decided to spend which holiday with, there was always someone being left out. No matter how hard I tried, there were always going to be hurt feelings. It was a very difficult and painful thing for a child to go through. I hated it and subsequently I came to despise the holiday season. I wasn't like most kids who looked forward to the time off from school, the time spent with family. I remember spending more than one Christmas surrounded by family and friends but feeling like I was all alone. It never mattered where I chose to be that year, I was always homesick for the "other family."

Fast forward to 1999. That is the year my whole life changed and, in many ways, I finally became an adult. I was 23, a week shy of my 24th birthday, when I married my sweetheart. Brent was, and still is, one of the greatest blessings I have ever received. He is truly a miracle in my life. Finally, for the first time, I was free. I was free of the decisions I was forced to make as a little girl. I was free of the pain and suffering I had to go through and all the sadness and disappointment I experienced. What an amazing feeling! Brent has changed my life in ways I could never begin to describe.

Now we have the typical married decisions when it comes to the holidays. Should we go to your Mom's or my sister's? Should we just stay home and start our own traditions? This is what we have done most years and I love it! I am no longer afraid of really celebrating the holidays. I don't dread the inevitable decision of whose feelings to hurt. I do miss spending the holidays with my family and I also miss being with Brent's family. But, we now have our little family and that's all that matters. What a blessing it is to have my amazing husband and our beautiful children. Now instead of focusing on the pain and sadness that the holidays used to bring, I can enjoy the excitement of the season. I hope and pray that I will always be able to keep that excitement alive for my kids and they will never have to face those difficult decisions that I did.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Our attempts at the perfect Christmas card photo!

I just have to laugh! Last night I dressed the kiddos in their matching little blanket sleepers and sat them on the couch in order to snap the one perfect photo to use on our Christmas cards. Wow, am I naive or what? What on earth made me think that these two little angels would ever sit still, at the same time, and flash me their most perfect smiles, also at the same time? I was so flustered by the time it was all said and done! I think I got one picture where they're both actually looking at me at the same time....forget the smiles! I was flustered until I realized that I could do a collage photo card and put in several of the "blooper" type photos along with a witty little caption that explains the moment perfectly. Now I actually treasure all the random shots we ended up with. Plus, as I look through them, I can't help but laugh at how Emmalee would only sit still if I said it was Tyler's turn or how Tyler kept leaning over to try and bite Emmalee on the head. I can not imagine loving these children any more than I do. They are the most amazing little people. I hope all our future Christmas card photos are as fun as this year!

Friday, December 15, 2006


I don't know why I let it bother me. Now that Tyler is 2 1/2 you'd think I would be used to it. But I'm not. Tonight I took both kids shopping. I rarely do this, just for my own sanity. However, I was feeling festive and figured they could use the time out of the house as much as I could. We loaded up and headed to Kohl's. I strapped them into the double stroller and we worked our way through the store. That's when it happened. People, young and old, stop to look at the kids. They usually assume they're twins and who can resist twins? Then they always talk to at her, wave at her, try and get her to smile. I love that. What I despise is that they ignore Tyler. It's as though he isn't even there in the stroller next to her. "How old is your little girl?" they'll ask. I answer but I follow it up with some comment about Tyler like, "...and he's 2 1/2." That usually makes them stop and take notice of my absolutely adorable son. Not always, though. I don't know if it is that they don't know what to say or if they are just that rude. I saw a t-shirt recently that said "We all have special needs. Mine are just more noticeable than yours." I want to find it in Tyler's size and put it on him whenever we're out in public. I want to pretend that this will not continue to happen for the rest of Tyler's life but I know better. I know there will always be the rude people in the store, the bratty kids at recess, the well-meaning elderly lady who asks what is wrong with my son. I guess all we can do is love him and treat him just as we would any other child. Too bad everyone else fails to see how completely perfect and amazing he is!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Gen is my hero!!!

Okay, I'll admit it. Most of the time I feel like I am pretty computer savvy. But, silly me, I created this blog so that I could share my life with all my friends. Problem was, I didn't know how to set the settings correctly so that my friends could actually read the darn thing. (Enter your own cliche here...."She's not the sharpest tool in the shed," etc.) Gen to the rescue!!! My sweet friend Gen emailed me and gave the the painfully simple instructions. Yay! Hopefully now you can all actually read this blog. Aren't you thrilled?