Two Worlds, One Family: An Adoptive Mothers Insecurities

Jane: “He isn’t one of them! They aren’t even his real family!”

Professor Archimedes Q. Porter: “Have you ever known a family not to be real?”

Last night we took a road trip to St. George, UT to see Tarzan at Tuacahn. Tarzan has always been one of my favorites. The music, the colors, the costumes! The story of a little boy raised by Apes that discovers he is really human. I have fond memories of when the Disney version came to theaters and I went with my Aunt Tel to the drive in movie to see it. However, as the opening song started and the actors took their places, I realized I was watching a very different story unfold before me than the story I had grown up with.

The songs were the same, the characters were the same, but I am not the same.

When Tyce was first placed in my arms, I remember looking at his tiny form and knowing that my life was forever changed for the better. My love for him was and is real. But with adoption comes insecurities.

There are insecurities in every level of the adoption triad. If you get on any adoption related group on Facebook, you’ll be bombarded with all those insecurities. But, that is what happens when you mold two families into one.

I’ve been really good about pushing past ignoring my own insecurities involving adoption. I joined a million adoption groups when we started the adoption process. I talked with birth mothers, adoptees, other adoptive families; A common theme seemed to be insecurities. I have learned so much and am learning so much more about perspective. My mind and heart were constantly on those birth families and adoptees that expressed the loss they felt.

I felt selfish in my happiness.

But for the first time in Tyce’s 10 months of life, while sitting there watching this musical performance, my insecurities hit me in full force.

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PC: Emma Matheson Photography

After Kala finds Tarzan she sings to him one of the most memorable songs in Disney history. An ode from a mother to her son.

You’ll Be In My Heart

“Come stop your crying it will be all right.
Just take my hand old it tight.
I will protect you from all around you
I will be here
Don’t you cry
For one so small, you seem so strong
My arms will hold you
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry
‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

I’ve been singing “You’ll Be In My Heart”to Tyce since he was born. It is just the first song that comes to my head when a baby is crying. I never paid attention the words, I just knew it said, “stop your crying.” So it’s bound to work, right?

But, as I am watching the story unfold I realized I was no longer in the Tuacahn ampitheater, but instead in the NICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Instead of Kala holding baby Tarzan, it was me holding baby Tyce. So yes, I am comparing myself a gorilla.

Through the song, Kala was making promises to her new son that looked nothing like her, but was indeed her child. Just like I did with Tyce. I promised Tyce I would always be there for him, that I would love him unconditionally, that I would protect him and support him. I also told him that everything was going to be okay.

Little did Phil Collins know, that when he was writing this song, he was writing it from the words and feelings in my heart. (Do you think that is enough for me to get a cut of his earnings?)

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PC: Emma Matheson Photography

 I love the scene where Kala is holding her hand up to Tarzan’s hand and then pointing out how they both have brown eyes. Showing him that they really aren’t that different.

I don’t know how Tyce is going to think or what feelings he is going to feel, but I want him to know that I love him with my whole heart. I can’t tell you how many times I have had scenarios run through my head of when Tyce is older and asking me questions about adoption. We are so blessed to have an open adoption. I know that will ease some of the questions, but I know that it can also create more questions. I can only guess what insecurities he will have as he grows. The only thing I can do is make sure that I am prepared for whatever he may need.

I sat in my seat, feeling all the feels, loving the adoption connection I made to the play…and then the story continues… and Tarzan grows up.

Everything That I Am

Tarzan: “Ooh I want to know where I belong
I want to know where I came from
I want to know the reason why I’m here
The way I am
Feeling the things I feel
Is this my family?”

 

Tarzan is given the choice of whether he should go back to England with Jane and the other humans, or stay in the Jungle with his family. He decides that he wants answers to his questions and makes the decision to go back with Jane.

This is the moment that my insecurities hit me in full force. They hit so hard they started rolling down my face.

Kala is sitting there watching Tarzan make this decision, and the look on her face is filled with so much pain. But despite all of her hurt, she demonstrates her love for her son by letting him go.

My mind starts racing as I envision myself and an older Tyce on the stage. I wonder, “am I not enough?” “Do you blame me?” “Could I have done something different?” Then I wonder, “am I strong enough to do the same?”

About this time is when Tarzan looks at Kala and says,

“No matter where I am, YOU will always be my mother.”

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PC: Emma Matheson Photography

Adoption is not the easy way, but it is the way I chose and I have no regrets. Adoption doesn’t mean that Tyce is mine and that’s it. No, I get to be Tyce’s mother and because of that I accepted the responsibility to always be what Tyce needs me to be.

Adoption is bigger than an adoptive parents desire to be a parent.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I was given the honor of being Tyce’s mother, I didn’t just get a son, I got a whole new extension of my family. Tyce is still Marshallese, he still shares genetics with another set of parents. That doesn’t go away when we sign the adoption papers.

BUT despite my insecurities, they are nothing compared to my love for Tyce. Now, I give him another promise. “I promise that I will never let my insecurities hold you back in anyway. I promise that I will always stand by you in your journey. I promise that I will always make you a priority, even if that means that I need to sit back and promise to always be here when you need me. You will ALWAYS be in my heart.”

You’ll Be In My Heart (Reprise)

No one could understand the way we feel
How would they know, how can we explain?
Althought we’re different, deep inside us
We’re not that different at all
‘Cause you’ll in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
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Mischief Managed

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With “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” making its way to shelves, I felt like now was the perfect time to share my own journey to becoming a witch. I’ll be honest, I’m a full out geek when it comes to HP. I did shed a few tears, as Matt can confirm, but I am not ashamed. I am so excited to bring the world of Harry Potter to my own children’s life.

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In honor of Harry Potters birthday, we planned a July visit to the magical world of Hogwarts. Yes, the tickets are a little pricey and the rides aren’t the greatest, but the atmosphere was simply spell binding. We plan to take another trip as a family just for that, given this time we will wait until they are older. BUT, i’ll be honest, the kids actually loved it despite their age.

You get to the main entrance of Hogsmead and it’s like walking into your best dream. Everything looks just like how I imagined it. It’s beautiful. We immediately headed towards Hogwarts castle. The castle itself is the line for a ride, but just waiting in line is amazing. The pictures even talked to you. The ride itself… it made me want to throw up all my chocolate frogs, but it was still creative.

In the past, we have tried to make homemade Butterbeer, but it is nothing compared to real life, Three Broomsticks, Butterbeer. We got the frozen kind, which was more like a slushy and the kids LOVED it. While the barista was pouring it, she totally ripped out the nozzle and the slush was gushing out everywhere. I was so tempted to run and put my mouth under it, but I stayed composed and held myself back. Well, Matt held me back. What a waste…

We went back to sit down and the kids guzzled the drinks. They couldn’t drink it fast enough. And when Matt and I would try and get our own drink they would move around to all the other family members in an effort to get the most creamy goodness that they could.  My sister also got a pumpkin juice and says it is her new favorite drink, so if you plan to visit anytime soon, know that both drinks are good options.

It was extremely important to me that I visit IMG_8655Ollivanders while we were there. It would have been a travesty if we didn’t. I was really hoping that I could have been the one that had a wand choosen for them, however, when you are holding a baby, the workers seem to look right past you… But don’t fret, I will survive. That didn’t stop me from letting a wand choose me, though. I spent a good 40 minutes wandering around the shop waiting for a wand to speak to me. In the end, I picked Sirius Blacks wand. I feel like I could relate a lot to him in the books and I really admire the qualities he possesses. He is fiercely loyal and protective. He is head strong and physically and mentally tough, sometimes to tough. He is not afraid to stand up for himself or others. And, he is an amazing friend. Plus, we are both Gryffindors. I am also happy to report that Taelynn was just as excited as I was! I still have to work on Tyce a little bit…

We did eventually venture out to the rest of Universal Studios. I was so amazed at how well the kids did, especially in the blazing heat. They were intrigued with the shows, especially the animals in the movies. They loved getting to pet them all at the end! Even Taelynn, who is normally terrified of animals.

Just look at their faces! They were staring at the stage the entire show.

My grandma and grandpa were with us, which was a blast! And let me just say, they are troopers! My grandma was so against using a wheelchair despite her bad knees, but eventually gave in half way through the day. That is when she discovered that having a wheelchair at a theme park has it’s benefits. We got to go straight to the front of the line from there on out. (It was a packed day to!)

There was a lot of walking and sites to see, PLUS donuts the size of our faces to eat! One of the highlights was going on the studio tour. We were able to see inside the studio filming Superstore. Plus, we got to experience a flash flood inside a subway station. It’s amazing how our imaginations really are the limit. (Fun Fact: Growing up I always wanted to be a movie director or videographer).

Overall, the day was a success and I am so happy we got to share some of the magic with our kids!

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Next stop…DISNEYLAND!!! Haha I wish…. eventually though!

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The Reign of Tae

 

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My baby girl is ONE!!! It’s such a cliche to say I don’t know where the time went…BUT IT’S TRUE!!! I am a bubbly mess as I look back on her first year because I am just so proud and excited to see the little girl she is becoming. I am not worthy to be her mom!

Of course we had to celebrate her journey to a whole number! And so I created an invite fit for my fairy princess, sent the announcement throughout the land (aka to family) and began preparing for her highnesses royal banquet. After all, we do live under the Reign of Tae.

It was really fun preparing for this! I basically lived on pintrest and made Matt a little crazy, but I wanted it to be perfect for her. Yes, I know she won’t remember, but I will.

First step, PICTURES!!! I found her crown on Love Crush Boutique , her dress is from Gap and her romper is from Screaming Owl.  The balloon we got from Zurchers. And let me just say, helium is NOT CHEAP! I had this grand idea of a huge balloon in Tae’s pictures, and I was so excited I never stopped to see how much it wIMG_7597ould cost until it was already blown up and I was standing at the cash register. Any other decorations I made from supplies I got at DI, Walmart or Target.

Taking pictures of a one year old is not an easy task. I kind of forced my mom and sister to come help me “reign in” the kids. So even though they had a million other things to do, they sacrificed their afternoon to help me get a few good shots. Tae was not at all interested in getting her picture taken. This shot basically sums up how she responded to me trying to get her to pose for the camera.

She was taking her reign quite seriously throughout the photo session. She managed to dump a water bottle all over herself, stomp on and break her crown, chase a snake and give her momma a run for her money. My parents would say it was owed to me from my own childhood. But, for my lack of training, I am in love with how the pictures turned out! They show off her personality to a “T.” Here is a sampling. Okay, more than a sampling.

I also have to share this hilarious meme one of my friends made from Tae’s picture. I mean, how awesome is that?! HAHAHAHAHA

The fun thing about making Taelynn’s birthday theme, “The Reign of Tae,” is the many possibilities. When I was in Kindergarten, each child had a day that they were spotlighted. We got to make a big poster about ourselves and present it to the class. I still have my poster somewhere, but on the top my mom put in big letters, “Aubree the Queen!” So it is really fun for me to do a similar theme for my oldest daughter. However, I didn’t want to make it the cliche pink and purple frilly event. I really liked the idea of being very whimsical and foresty. In my head, I see Tae as this grand leader whose presence helps flowers and animals thrive and grow. People flock to her because they love to be around her. (Is that cheesy enough for you?) So with that in mind, you can see where my thought process went as I created her celebration.

Matts parents flew in the night before and the four of us got to work making sure all the strawberries and pretzels were dipped, the decorations were finished, the banners made. Seriously, my in-laws are amazing. We didn’t get to bed until 2 in the morning. Then we all woke up early and started the baking. I will add, me and my MIL invented some pretty amazing frostings (peanut butter, strawberry and coconut).

We had the party at my Mimi and Papa’s house. My goal was to set up croquet outside and a castle bounce house for the kids…BUT then it rained… so my vision didn’t quite go as planned, but it was still really pretty.

The Menu

  • BBQ Pork sliders
  • Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad with Candied Nuts
  • Red Jello
  • Chips
  • Watermelon
  • And of course Miss Piggies Pink Punch

For Dessert

  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels
  • A Brownie with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting and a Blonde Oreo
  • A Yellow Cake Cupcake with a Strawberry Compote Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries
  • A Confetti Cake Cupcake with Coconut Chunk Buttercream

Everything tasted so delicious! I made way too much, but I am not a very good judge of quantities. Tae and Ty were obsessed with the jello!

The cake smash was probably the highlight of the event! Tae LOVES cake. I made a two layer confetti cake with buttercream frosting. She went as far as hugging the whole entire thing. Good thing I made cupcakes for everyone else. She ate nearly 1/3 of the cake before we finally forced it away. Tyce even got in on the action. He loved it up until Tae smeared his face with her frosting covered hand.

 

I was used to my nephews, who barely poked at their cakes on theirIMG_7945 birthday, so I wasn’t expecting quite the mess. So we had to plop her right into the sink to try and clean her off a little. You have to admit, she is pretty, stinking cute!!

She was completely spoiled and had such a fun time playing with cousins after she opened gifts. Tyce was a little jealous, and as now taken possession of several of the presents she got.

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For party favors we saved up a bunch of baby food jars and spray painted the lids with gold and glitter spray pain. Matt and my FIL spent hours trying to get the sticky stuff off of the glass. I am pretty sure they used up a whole jar of peanut butter in the process. After the jars were all clean, we filled them up with homemade caramel that my mom made (this caramel is seriously so good, several people were drinking it! I won’t name names…but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t one of them…) We then gave everyone a jar of caramel and an apple to dip into it.

It may not have been exactly how I was imagining it. BUT It was so much fun and turned out perfectly. Taelynn loved the attention and the sugar. I guess I better start planning Tyce’s party so I don’t have to stay up until two in the morning the night before…

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAELYNN!!!!

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The Great Outdoors

I LOVE Memorial day weekend. Yes, it means a free day for the family, but it also means that thousands have died so that we could be together as a family. Memorial Day is a day to remember and ponder the true meaning of freedom and the cost that came with that word.

“Home of the FREE…because of the BRAVE!”

My Papa is a Veteran of the Navy and he instilled in me a love for this country and the freedoms that I have been blessed with. Because of that Memorial Day weekend is a celebration for us. This year we chose to celebrate by truly appreciating the freedoms that we have been blessed with; a beautiful country and a forever family.

I have always wanted to be a more outdoorsy person, but because of severe hay fever and basically an allergy to air, I always ended up avoiding a lot of it. Well, I finally decided enough is enough.

Matt and I took our birthday money and decided to buy hiking carrier back packs. Given, we decided this on friday morning and so we didn’t have anytime to order them before monday (Memorial Day). BUT everything was on sale for the holiday. So… I basically called every sports store within 50 miles to see what ones they carried. We finally found some at Back Country and just like that, we found our new obsession! They are seriously the comfiest back packs ever! We got the Deuter Kid Comfort II.  It puts all the weight on your hips and my back won’t hurt at all after the hike is finished. It is seriously a game changer for us. ( I promise I’m not being paid for this)

We went on a “practice” hike, down the Bonneville Shoreline, when Matt got home from work that night. From that, we set the goal to go on a hike every week for the rest of the summer. So far, we are doing pretty good!

 

When Monday arrived we were all ready for our Memorial Day hike. We planned to meet my family at Brighton so we could go on a small hike around Silver Lake.

When we got there we were beyond surprised to run into our best friends the Marsdens! What are the chances that we would both go to the same place at the exact same time. Of course we all decided to join up and hike together.

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So far, we have only been on three hikes with our back packs, but every time we pull them out Tae and Ty start jumping up and down and smiling as wide as can be. They LOVE being outside. It was chillier than we were anticipating, but it didn’t phase them one bit.

The hike was BEAUTIFUL, but we didn’t get to go up the mountain very high because there was so much snow. So maybe it can’t be called a hike, but more of a nice excursion around the lake on a paved path.

IMG_4916 Tyce was trying so hard to stay awake. He would be smiling so big one minute and then completely collapse into a deep sleep the next. BUT as soon as he would realize he fell asleep, he would pop back up to enjoy the party again.

It was so much fun to spend the morning with friends and family and enjoy the simple pleasures of living in this beautiful state!

Of course you can’t truly celebrate this National Holiday without a good family BBQ. So after the hike we raced back to my grandmas house for some good old fashioned Hamburgers and hot dogs (only gourmet because my grandparents always go above and beyond).

The poor kids didn’t get a moment to relax, but they had a blast with cousins. Between a bounce house and a game of croquet, I would say the day was a hit.

Plus, Tae was able to enjoy a few licks of whipped cream which is always a reason to celebrate in her mind.

I would just like to say thank you to all the men and woman that have served and are serving our country. I feel truly honored that you would sacrifice so much for me and my family. cropped-twopeas-largefont2.jpg

The Age of Curiosity

This year is a big one for me. It’s my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY! Which means I turned 24 on the 24th. But not only that, it was my first birthday with kids. And let me just say, the kids made it that much better!!! Sure, I didn’t get to spend it in a Russian bath house with a bunch of 90 year old woman in their birthday suits, but I would definitely add this to my list of favorites.

Matt planned out an awesome day for us at The Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point. It was so much fun to see the kids get a bigger perspective of the world.

The water table was the biggest hit! Well…for Taelynn. Let’s just say Tyce had a nervous breakdown when I tried to set him in the little chair. I should have guessed, he also hates the bath tub. Although, it didn’t help that the kid next to him was like the hulk of the sea and figured out how to get that water to splash from one end of the table to the other.

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Tae, on the other hand, didn’t want to get out. She was splashing and laughing and having a grand ol’ time. I mean, just look at that smile! She looked like she had participated in a wet t-shirt contest by the time it was over.

Luckily, we had grabbed a second outfit, on a whim, before leaving the house. Otherwise, we would be in trouble. However, we did forget to take her shoes off, and so I spent a good amount of time holding them under the bathroom dryer so she could still walk around.

Ty was my little velcro child for the majority of the time, but we finally found an activity that got him excited… a mirror. 😀 This kept him occupied for quite awhile… until Tae came and knocked him over.

We ventured to the rope bridges, giving Matt and I quite the leg work out. And eventually made it outside so the kids could eat tire shreds. I will admit, I turned full momma bear when an older child started throwing tires at Taelynn and trying to get her to eat them. So I guess it was fitting that I was wearing my Momma Bear shirt.

It was such a rewarding experience to watch my kids discover new textures and possibilities. I could see their minds moving a mile a minute. As soon as we put them back in their carseats they were asleep in a flash.

It was a good birthday celebration!

One of the highlights of the day was when I met a mother that was there with her two kids.  She asked me how old my kids were and I told her, preparing myself for the slew of questions that usually follow, and instead she told me, “Your kids are beautiful!” It seriously made my whole day. She didn’t compare them, or ask how it is possible to have two kids so close together. She just let me be a mom and focus on my kids. So thank you!

Side note: I don’t mind answering questions, but sometimes it is nice to focus on my kids and my family and whatever activity we may be doing.

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The Importance of a Name

Choosing a name for our kids has been very important to Matt and I. We put a lot of thought into it, and make sure that there is a story behind it.

The day after we were sealed to Tyce, Matt was able to give him a fathers blessing in which he gave Tyce his official name that would be kept in the records of the church. Taelynn received her blessing in August, just a couple months after she was born. (I didn’t have a blog then, so you get to hear about both of our little miracles.)

The name we chose for Tyce is Tyce Mitchell Kabua Bosen. 

A lot of people have asked me where we came up with the name, so here is your answer. Since I was in elementary school Ty has always been my favorite boys name. I knew that my first boy was going to carry that name. When I think of the name, I think of power and culture. I also feel that it is a gentle, yet manly name. I could see a baby with that name and I could see an adult with that name. I didn’t want it to be Tyler or Tyson or any of the other names that could be shortened to Ty because that just wasn’t fitting. I just wanted Ty.

When I was living in Russia, one of the girls that I was living with was telling me about her friend Tyce. I had never heard that before and I really liked it! I still had the ability to say Ty, but it added some more… character. So I locked it into my name bank.

When Matt and I got married, I had three girls names and 3 boys names. I gave him full veto power if he didn’t like one, but to my surprise he only vetoed one of the names. It worked out though, because I wasn’t fully invested in the name he did veto. But, we did know that our first girl would be Taelynn and our first boy would be Tyce. I’ll explain her name in a little bit. So now that we knew their first names it came time to middle names.

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Originally, we had a different middle name picked out for Tyce. I won’t reveal it here, because I still want to use it in the future, and I want that person to be surprised when they find out our child is named after them. 🙂 BUT, when I was on the plane to Arkansas, I was sitting next to my dad, and he had a way about him that was making me feel so at peace. Here I was, in the most stress filled situation, and my dad was completely calm and supportive; knowing exactly what to say. He never questioned Matt or I, but instead, trusted our instinct and the spiritual promptings we had received. After we landed, my dad went to gather our luggage and I was standing back with Taelynn. I called up Matt and asked him what he thought about making Tyce’s middle name Mitchell (My dad’s name is Glade Mitchell). He said he loved it and that was that. The name Mitchell to us stands for hard work, integrity, love, trust, devotion and spiritual strength. Those are all things we hope for Tyce.

As we got closer and closer to the finalization day, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from Tyce’s name. It didn’t feel complete. I was talking to his birth mom one day and learned more about her last name Kabua. The name Kabua comes from Kabua the Great, renowned paramount chief. To date, the two RMI presidents (Republic of the Marshall Islands), are grandsons of Kabua the Great. Well, being part of a culture that loves genealogy, I thought this was really neat. So we gave Tyce the second middle name, Kabua, in honor of his birth mom. The name for us stands for love, sacrifice, family, culture and heritage.  And just like that, his name felt complete.

We can’t forget my little Taelynn Fedelina. When I was younger, I used to baby sit a little girl named Taelyn. It was such a fun time. She was the most ADORABLE baby, and I loved the responsibility of taking care of a baby. Her family was incredible and I only have happy memories when I think of the time we lived next to them. That name has always stayed with me because it was a time that I learned responsibility and I guess you could say, my motherly instinct came out.

BUT, what made it even more special is that it carried the name Lynn as part of it. My mother’s middle name is Lynn and she then gave me the middle name Lynn. So I guess you could say it is tradition. On top of that, my grandma’s name is Carolyn. Both my grandma and my mom are two of the most influential people in my life. From them I learned service, love, gratitude, friendship…you name a good quality and those two woman possess it.

But, while we are going off the importance of the name Lynn, we have to add Matt’s grandpa into the mix (because not everyone can be named after my family! hahaha!) Matt’s paternal grandpa is also named Lynn. Talk about packing meaning into a name.

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Fedelina, this name came to me shortly before I gave birth. I knew that Taelynn was already named after my mom and my paternal grandma, but it didn’t feel right leaving out the third most influential person in my life, my Grandma Esther, my maternal grandmother. She grew up catholic and as such, has several names. I tried to memorize them once, but I don’t fully remember all of them (she didn’t remember all of them right away either, so I feel a little better). One of her middle names is Frieda. However, my grandma is Spanish, so if you were to say Freida in spanish it would be Fedelina. How beautiful is that?! So of course, it had to be. So, Tae may hate us when she has to fill in the little bubbles to write her name on tests in the future, but I feel like it will all be worth it. Those names stand for courage, love, charity, honesty, virtue, devotion, love, hard work, perseverance, a little bit of stubbornness but most of all family. (I kind of sound like I am checking off the Young Woman’s theme…)

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I don’t think there is anything more powerful than watching all these strong influential men in your life, standing around your child in a wall of protection, giving a blessing to my most precious gifts. Both times I have been able to experience this with my children my heart has burst, as I feel at peace that my kids will always be protected and watched over. I don’t know if all of you men know the gentle power you have. I sincerely thank you, for honoring your priesthood and using it to bless and protect my children.

Matt gives the most beautiful blessings, and I am so glad that I have friends and family members that were smart enough to record them. I can’t wait to let Taelynn and Tyce listen to them in the future. As a mom, there is something so heart warming about listening to your husband, the father of your children, talk to God and ask our Heavenly Father to grant these blessings on our babies. What is more attractive than a father that loves his children beyond comprehension?!

I felt like I was in the movie, The Lion King, after the blessing was finished. Matt lifts our children in the air, presenting them to the ward, and you can hear a rumble of happiness and “awe’s.” You can bet that puts a proud smile on my face.

Of course a celebration isn’t the same without food, so afterwards we went to our house and served up our take on Cafe Rio salads. (Anyone that knows me, is that even a surprise?)

Blessing days are my happy days! Family, Food and Perfect Babies! Thank you all for helping us celebrate our wonderful children!

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Families can be Together Forever

“Families can be together FOREVER, through Heavenly Fathers Plan. I always want to be with my own family, and the LORD has shown me how I can.”

The day that made all other days have very little meaning. When Matt and I got married and sealed in the temple it was exciting and beautiful! But, we agreed, the day we got sealed to Tyce put that day to shame. There is something so magical and spiritual about being sealed to a child. It is completely different from birthing children. NOW,  that isn’t to down play the importance and magic of biological children. The day we had Taelynn, I thought my heart would burst. But, I didn’t have the panic and urgent feeling with Taelynn, because I already had the peace that she was sealed to us for eternity. Well…technically I didn’t even know I felt the peace until I felt the urgent longing that I experienced with Tyce. (Any of you other adoptive parents out there, feel free to help me figure out a better way of describing that feeling! I can’t find the right words to emphasize the importance.)

I know not everyone readying this is LDS, but just so you know, we believe that you can be sealed to your family after death. Death isn’t the end. When we get married in the LDS temple our biological children are automatically born in the covenant or sealed to us, but when we adopt, we get to go back and seal that child to our family so that our spirits are sealed for eternity.

***Get ready for picture overload***

 

April 16, 2016 – This day felt like an eternity away. In Utah, there is a law that you have to wait 6 months to finalize an adoption. That means that we couldn’t get sealed to Tyce in the temple or even have his baby blessing until he was “legally” ours.

The 6 month wait felt like an eternity. But, let’s be real here, it was closer to 7 months because of court dates. We knew it was going to be hard and that the adversary would be fighting against us, but goodness, even with that foresight, it was a painful fight. Satan knew exactly what would cause us the most stress and anxiety and he hit it right in the bullseye. But, despite all of that, WE MADE IT!

The night before, we had the beautiful experience of going through the temple with my cousin, Kaela, for her first time. It was such a perfect way to bring the peace for the rest of the weekend. Plus, it was perfect because that meant she could be apart of Tyce’s sealing the next day.

Matt and I woke up early on Saturday and started getting everything packed up. There was a feeling of peace circulating the house. Just thinking of it now, feels my heart with this eternal happiness. The babies woke up and were so happy. We got them dressed in their whites and they looked like little angels.

We got Tyce a tea leaf Lei in honor of his birth family. I love them with all my heart and it didn’t feel right unless we made sure they were a part of this day. He made the best faces when the leaves would touch his face. Tae was a little jealous and kept trying to put it around her neck or in her mouth…

My mom met us at the Provo City Center Temple, so she could help us take care of the kids while Matt and I got everything in order. We walked into the temple together and temple workers greeted us with such excitement! They all knew us by name and eagerly welcomed us inside.

We wanted the ceremony to be very intimate and so we just had our close family come, and it worked out perfectly. I don’t want to go into much more detail than this, because it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. Nothing I write will give justice to the feelings of joy and peace that we felt. I will say, that when my mom and the temple sisters brought Tyce and Taelynn up to me and Matt, nothing could hold back the happy tears that fell from my face, as I began to understand the true meaning of Christ’s love. I looked at the faces of each of the people that sacrificed so much to be there with us, and I knew that this was my heaven.

We walked out of the temple doors a forever family. What excitement we felt,  to see our loving family waiting for us. It truly is like walking through the gates of heaven. It was a true blessing that our family could make this experience as big of a deal physically, as it was to us in every other aspect. We will forever appreciate that.

***FUNNY SIDE NOTE- My mom was with the kids the whole time we were in the temple. They have a nursery area for families that are being sealed. Well, the temple sealer called down to have her bring up the kids, so she was racing to change their diapers. As she was changing Tyce’s diaper he decided it was the perfect time to see how far he could pee, and low and  behold, he made it all the way to his face, getting it in his eyes, mouth and every other crack and cranny. Let it be known, he hasn’t peed on any of us since he was a month old.  My mom decided not to tell any of us until after the ceremony, which means Matt and I got our fair share of pee kisses.

At this point, the kids were beyond exhausted. They had already skipped two naps, yet somehow were as happy as could be. BUT, as you look through all the pictures and see Ty’s head down, just know, he is fast asleep. Nothing we did could keep that kid awake. He didn’t even get jostled when we would move him around and put him in different positions for pictures. There were a few moments he would randomly wake up and give us a few perfect, happy smiles, and then two seconds later his eyes would roll back and he would fall asleep again. It was impossible not to die laughing.

 

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There is a reason I have always tag Tyce’s pictures with the hashtag #thejourneyofty (The Journey of Ty). He is on quite the journey, touching lives along the way. So many people have had a hand in bringing him home to us. My eyes are pouring, right now, as I think back on the last 7 months. I think of my parents who dropped everything when I called them that beautiful Sunday in September, without any warning, to tell them that our baby boy was being born right then. Right away, my dad jumped online to look at plane tickets for us and canceled all of his plans for the week so that he could fly to Arkansas with me so that I wasn’t alone. My Aunt Dana, who was so excited, she picked us up from the airport in Kansas City, and took me shopping for baby clothes, and then drove us the 6 hours to Little Rock and back. Matt’s mom, who came and spent a week and a half with me and the kids in the NICU, after my dad and Matt had to go home, and then helping me fly home. And then of course to so many of you who donated help to us after we encountered some unexpected costs. Some of you I barely knew, but I think and pray for you all daily. Thank you for being so in-tune with the spirit and answering our prayers so that we could get home. You all have a special place in my heart. And this is just a few of the people that are apart of Tyce’s Journey. Really, that doesn’t even brush the surface. Tyce’s Journey has been a remarkable one. I can’t express the appreciation I have to you all for believing in him and in us.

After the temple, my parents took everyone to Los Hermanos in celebration. Because let’s be honest, nothing says celebration like one of their fresh (virgin) Pina Coladas. It was so much fun to sit and visit with everyone. What a blessing it is to call these people my family. The legacy that they have paved makes me want to be a better person. Their example, love and compassion brings me to my knees. Family to me, isn’t just bodies to take up space, but spirits that come together to mold us as individuals. I am so lucky to be a part of a group of people that holds family above all.

Thank you everyone that helped make this day unforgettable. I can’t say enough how truly blessed we feel. What a reaffirming testimony that, “families can be together forever.” I’m sure glad I get to spend forever with this bunch.

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***I need to express my love and gratitude to both Emma Matheson Photography and Kurns Photography. Emma had taken our family pictures the week before we adopted Tyce. When she found out we had another addition, she immediately volunteered to take new family pictures for us with our handsome little guy. AND THEN, the wonderful Courtney Kurns volunteered to help take pictures for us at the temple, right after getting arm surgery, so we would have pictures to commemorate this day. I love you both and am in love with my forever keep sakes you gave me! Thank you! 

Picture Credits:

Emma Matheson Photography

Kurns Photography

 

Oldest Child Syndrome

This is a monumental time for us, because it marks Taelynn being out of my tummy longer than she was in it. Where did that time go?!

As any oldest child knows, including myself, with age comes GREAT responsibility! And Tae takes this responsibility VERY seriously. That’s right, she is only 9 months old, but makes sure that Tyce knows that she is in charge.

For example, let me give you a little play by play of their daily interactions:

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Don’t let their wrestling match fool you, they are BEST friends.

When people found out we were adopting, we had many people ask us how that was going to affect Taelynn. I can firmly say, Taelynn is better for having Tyce and visa versa. These two were meant to be siblings. I don’t feel it is any different than gaining a biological sibling a year or more down the road.

Taelynn has an old soul. She is a child I don’t “deserve” and here is why: I think getting a sibling is trying on any child, and I know it was tough on her little self at first. I became an older sister when I was 3 years old. I still remember the feelings of jealousy that I felt toward my sister. It was rough! I loved her, sure, but I also felt like I had been replaced. Here, Taelynn was only three months old when we jumped on that plane to Arkansas, and she was a little trooper! All of a sudden, she didn’t have 100% of my attention and there was another little human laying around. I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through her little mind.

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This was the first time that Tae looked at Ty. Until this point, she would do everything she could to pretend he wasn’t there.

She went through a lot of changes the first month with Ty. The biggest change was, she used to hate nursing, but as soon as she saw me try and feed another baby, that is all she wanted! She also never pooped without help, and then suddenly she was a pooping machine. She also got jealous very quickly, when seeing me hold a baby that wasn’t her or Tyce. I think it was her way of saying that one little brother was enough for now.

BUT, she got over it quickly.

Tae is already a better older sister than I ever was. She is always checking up on Tyce when he cries. She saves her biggest smiles for him. If he is hungry, she will literally stop eating and let me feed him first.

BUT, she is human AND an older sister. So don’t let that smile fool you. I can’t help but laugh as I watch her try and be sneaky, coming up behind Tyce, and trying to grab his toy or bottle or whatever he is holding. The best part, she will hurry and throw a different toy at him and crawl away as fast as she can thinking I won’t notice. Oh boy, the future is going to be fun.

I love watching Taelynn and Tyce learn and grow from each other. I know that they have their own way of communicating with each other. I love watching them race to give each other kisses in the morning and hold hands as I carry them around the house.

Taelynn is definitely more of my adventurer. I think that is perfect because she is the older sister and uses that to push Tyce along. She loves exploring and playing and being thrown in the air! Tyce is my happy observer. He loves to watch Tae and see what she is getting into. I honestly feel like Taelynn has helped Tyce hit his growing goals, because he looks up to her so much.

Yes, Taelynn was changed for gaining a brother, but she was changed for the better. Because who better to learn and grow with than a sibling.

 

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

– Desmond Tutu

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Water Babies

IMG_3726You’ll quickly learn through my ramblings, if you didn’t already know this, that I don’t like being told that I can’t do something. When faced with a dilemma of being told something is impossible or that there is no way it can be done, I often think,

“Says Who?”

And then I go on to see if it is in fact out of my reach. I remember, when I was pregnant with Taelynn, someone told me that I was throwing my life away by having kids so young. I thought that was a little silly and my “never upset” husband actually became angry at the comment. However, it got me thinking about things that I could still make possible even with kids.

Two kids later and I still am determined to have a great experience through this journey, not just for my kids, but for me! Matt and I do what we can to make any adventure possible. Road trip to Las Vegas, no problem! What about a road trip to California, BRING IT! Romantic evenings aren’t dead. Goodness, I am even working to get my Real Estate License. My point is kids have never “gotten in our way.” They actually make life a lot more fun for us.

(Pictures from the first time Taelynn went swimming. It just happens to also be at the Provo Rec Center.)

Swimming was one of those things I was questioning the possibility of. Before Tyce was born, Taelynn and I would go all the time. BUT, adding another baby to the mix makes staying a float a little more challenging.

My awesome SIL is here visiting with her perfect little boys, Ben and Andy. Of course, like any 3 year old, Ben wants to get out and have adventures! So after thinking about it, I decided why not join them at the Provo Rec Center. I was slightly terrified. I packed the swim bag, made sure we had enough diapers, got the kids ready to go and a short hour later we were finally out the door.

We got to the Rec Center and I was approached with my typical questions of,

“Are you babysitting?”

“Are they both yours?”

“Are they twins?”

But I guess in a way every mom is a permanent babysitter.

Then we finally made it to the pool.

2 adults against 4 children (Jessica’s SIL on her other side also came and observed)

My children are scared of tubs of water… They are shower babies. So sitting in water up to their waist in the kiddy pool was a little traumatic. They literally were gripping each others hands and hugging each other around the waist. It was adorable to see! If I wasn’t in water I would have had a million more pictures as proof.

As they started warming up to their new surroundings, I could see their eyes light up as they started to have some fun. I braved the water, and took advantage of their clinginess, and we made it over to the lazy river. Lazy might not be the best way to describe it, as I was trying to juggle two children that decided they liked floating around.

One woman failed to realize that the section of pool she was in was designed for kids, as she kept giving my kids dirty looks and shoving past me…but not everyone can have fun swimming I guess…

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Taelynn really got excited by the end and was giving everyone that passed her a full body wave. Seriously, there is not a more animated wave in the world. I made a little barrier with my legs because Tae kept trying to swim off to play with her cousins because she is obsessed with them (the water was only about 4 inches at the deepest where we were). Tyce enjoyed looking at the water from the safety of my arms. He had a death grip on my swim suit that you wouldn’t believe, and Taelynn kept checking to make sure he was ok.

After they kids decided they were worn out (because holding onto mom is hard work) we packed ourselves up, slowly but surely, and made our way to the car. Tyce was asleep before we got to the parking lot and both were asleep by the time we got home. Let’s just say the moral of the story is, if I have stuff to do, take the kids swimming because they will sleep for hours!!

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I would say the day was a SUCCESS!

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