Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stronger

We had some friends over, and they took the blankets off Eve's bed and slid around the house on them pretending to be a train. They are tooo cute.
Eve and Nicholas scooted our laundry basket all over the house--they were pretending to go on a road trip and then they would rock it until it tipped over and they fell on top of each other. Then they'd go to the hospital. I hope this isn't foreshadowing our upcoming road trip!
Nicholas really wanted to wake Eve up the other morning. No, her sheets and blankets don't match. Yes, we're stylish.
The other day I was walking around without my glasses on (I'm SUPER blind) and saw something large-ish skitter from under my feet. I screamed and put on my glasses and found this cute guy! We chased him around the room, and then decided to let him stay in the house. Geckos eat bugs, and I hate bugs. (but the next day I found a GIANT cockroach in our [clean] living room, and I was like "WHERE is my gecko?!!" But I'm pretty sure the cockroach could've eaten it.)
I left paint unattended--Nicholas was clean compared to the floor in Eve's room! He was so proud of himself, and really it was too funny to be mad about (and luckily it was washable paint)!

I just realized that almost all the pictures are of the kids in PJs or half-naked. Yes, I do put real clothes on them. Sometimes.



Now an update on Nicholas and Natty:

We've asked their father to pick them up at the end of August. I sat outside our house in the car when I called. Then I walked into my empty house and sobbed and sobbed and screamed.

We're asking him to meet us in TX--I'm taking all the kids out to San Antonio at the end of the month for Jardan's graduation from basic training (yes, 3 kids in the car for 15 hours. I'm going to take 2 days AND rent a car because HEAVEN knows our trusty '96 tercel may not live to see TX). Hopefully he'll meet us out there so that we can all be together. I'm so worried for the kids that some nights I can't sleep. But, I know that the Lord is near them, and that He will watch over them:

Doctrine and Covenants 50:41, 44
Fear not, little children, for you are mine...Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd.

Every day I feel stronger, more at peace, and more calm. Constantly running through my head are the words to Lead, Kindly Light (I've always loved that song): "Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see the distance scene, one step enough for me."

Thanks for your love, faith, and support! It's such a comfort to know that we're not doing this alone.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Choosing to Breathe




We went hiking at Tonto Natural Bridge with some of our friends! So beautiful; go if you ever get the chance!

When Nicholas wakes up from his nap, Eve LOVES to climb into his crib so they can play together. Then they beg to play with Natty, too :)


A couple years ago I had out-patient surgery. I was getting my tubes tied because it was too dangerous to have more kids: after I had Eve I was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, a random and rare heart condition related to pregnancy. Anyway, when I was in the recovery area after surgery, I was waking up, but was so tired that I kept forgetting to breathe. It actually felt good to NOT breathe, it was like taking a break. This was all really hazy, but I remember I would stop breathing (it just felt SO GOOD), and so some monitor would start beeping and the nurses would yell over to me, "Aubrey! You've got to breathe!" I was so annoyed, but I complied and would breathe again for a minute, and then stop once more. I've since heard that this can be an after-effect of anesthesia.

I feel like that right now.

On the 12th of July (the day before my birthday, that's the only reason I remember the date), Nicholas and Natalia's mother called me. I'd sent her the consent to adopt papers for Natalia--she'd told me we could adopt Natalia but not Nicholas. We were devastated, but we figured if we had Natty, eventually we'd probably get Nicholas. She got the papers, and called to tell me that she'd changed her mind, and that we can't adopt either one. SOO much more happened, but really I don't have the time to write it all out. So, I sent her a letter last week asking her to reconsider. I asked her to think about the goals she has for the kids, and whether she could provide those things for them. I got a call today from her, but it really wasn't a discussion. She mostly just yelled. Lucky for me, the collect call minutes I'd prepaid for ran out, and I didn't accept any more of her calls (I don't need that treatment, I don't want to yell at her, and all the rational things I could say will never change her mind).

I don't know how to explain my situation very well. Some people question whether I'm their parent. If you wonder this, I can answer, I just don't have the desire to post it ALL here :) Let me know and I'll tell you. Regardless, I am their mother, albeit only ONE of their mothers. And I'm losing two of my children.

And I find it hard to breathe.

When I'm alone and I start thinking about losing them (usually I push it out of mind), I'm so tired and so sad that I sometimes take a break and stop breathing. I remember how good it felt before, and for minute it feels good again. Just to stop. Then, like the nurses, I yell to myself, "Aubrey! You have to breathe!" Then, I decide to breathe again.

I've learned that this is like my faith. I've always heard about "the trial of your faith." This is mine, I guess. To be led here, and then have the kids taken back. And like when I decide to breathe, I've learned that I have to DECIDE to have faith in God. It's not just going to BE there, I have to actually choose to have it. I know there is an alternative, and sometimes it is tempting to just throw my hands up and be done with it all. Resign myself to the idea that there is no God, or that He does not watch over me and my little family. I see this alternative, and I realize that it's my choice. I could choose either one, and I choose faith. I choose to believe that God watches over us, although people have the freedom to make their own choices. I choose to believe He loves me and my children, and that He will guide me. And that Jardan and I may lose Natalia and Nicholas, but that does NOT mean that He is not there. In my sadness, I have chosen to breathe, and I have chosen faith.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bragging

I just want to put it "out there" that I weedwacked today (this was a 2-day affair). I'm admittedly afraid of any type of power tools, and, yes, I count my weed wacker as a power tool. The kids wanted to swim in our inflatable giraffe kiddy pool, but I was afraid that the forest of weeds lining our cement patio (I NEVER let the kids step off of it, mind you) was harboring any number of creepy creatures. Living in Arizona, I visualized rattle-snakes, scorpions, and cockroaches emerging en masse to assault my darling children. This wasn't absurd, seeing as the weeds went up to...well, my knees in some places. We also have a bottomless pit by part of our patio, and THERE the weeds go up to mid-thigh. Scary? Yes.

So, yesterday I took the weed wacker to the back yard and then tried to find our extension cord. My DARLING husband was so sweet and stayed up late (well, early...) to pack up as much as possible before he left so that I wouldn't be overwhelmed when the kids and I move. He is AMAZING. However, I could NOT find the extension cord, and searched for about an hour (it ended up in one of the 20 tupperware storage bins in our garage). I pulled on some jeans and tennis shoes (seriously, this was a labor of love for my kids, it was like 115 degrees outside) and went outside to plug in the ominous-looking power tool. I held it as far away from me as I could, braced myself, and started it up. It roared to life, but all the weeds were unharmed because, apparently, there was no line in it. About 4 hours later (comprised of watching videos on youtube, attempting it myself, then calling my dad for help and packing up the kids so HE could re-string it, but the stubborn machine still wouldn't work with us), I had a fully-functioning weed wacker. And a dark backyard.

I woke up today with a killer sinus infection and a fever...so we lounged around and eventually the kids begged me to let them play in the pool. So I showered first (why?!), threw on my jeans and tennis shoes again, and ushered my children outside. I was REALLY scared to do it, but found that I actually liked wielding all the power! Ha! Thank heavens no snakes, cockroaches, or scorpions were found (I did have heavy-duty bug-killing spray on hand, though, in case it came down to me vs. scorpion)! I swept, blew-up our dusty pool (yum. Remnants of our recent dust-storm--it was super creepy), scrubbed it, patched it with duct-tape (I know! But it was the only thing I had on-hand), and filled it up. Eve and Nicholas HOWLED with delight, and raced to get their swimsuits.

The kids were so cute playing out there. I sat inside and watched from the couch as I fed Natty. They splashed, fought, shared, screached, and laughed...I loved it. After dinner I went out to get the extension cord, and sadly found that our pool was leaking! All that work, for about 40 minutes of play time! It was worth it, though. Maybe it's silly, but I felt so capable and strong, and I loved sweating and working so my kids could play. And now when I write my daily letter to Jardan, I can brag about using a power-tool.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

All Is Well





(A few pictures from our trip to Tonto Natural Bridge, one of my favorite places in AZ)

When I was in school, I kept saying to myself that everything will be easier once I'm out. That we'll be able to rest a bit, take a little breather. . . ha! At least I haven't fallen into the "so-lazy-I-can't-get-out-of-bed" trap. Although I have, unfortunately, fallen into the "so-busy-I-don't-have-time-to-shower" trap. Nice.

Sometimes it seems like every step we take toward adoption is suddenly cut off by a gigantic brick wall. We think we can move forward, but then BAM! Brick wall. For instance, we were able to add Nicholas and Natalia onto our military benefits, as long as we can turn in their social security cards. No problem, I think, because we have a notarized document saying we can get the cards from the government. Previously, we were told by military human resources that we'd have to have a court order saying that the 2 kids are our legal dependents, but then when we went back in around 2-3 weeks later, they said it wasn't necessary. I almost EXPLODED with happiness. So. . . I called the national number for social security info, and they said that the docs we have will work just fine. I gather all the kids' birth certificates (difficult to get) and vaccine info, and went in a few days later, only to be told (BAM! Insert brick wall) that we have to have a court order to get their cards, and that notarized documents are not accepted. Along with this, we're facing other significant obstacles to getting cards (they just keep popping up), so we really don't know how to remedy the situation.

At nearly every step something similar has happened. I am exhausted physically (2 crying kids in the social security office while trying to speak to a supervisor and argue my point?!) and emotionally. The amazing part? Every time I'm tempted to SCREAM and THROW SOMETHING across the room, a beautiful peace settles on me. Every time I think that I am just incapable of taking one more step, I'm given strength.

Two Sundays ago there was a beautiful lesson in church where we talked about the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon (http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/3?lang=eng). It was inspiring to see how he faced so many obstacles, but persisted. That his faith remained strong as he continued to ask the Lord to guide him. How, when he faced situations that, according to our understanding, should be impossible to overcome, the Lord made a way. I know that the Lord will light our way, as He did for the brother of Jared, and that He has mercifully lit our way at each step.

I spoke to Nicholas and Natalia's mother and father today for the first time. It went better than I had thought it would, but not as well as I had hoped. We're meeting with their mother this weekend. Surprisingly, I feel (yet again) peace and reassurance. I don't know that we'll keep the kids, but I know that this, right now, is what we should be doing. And I LOVE fighting for them. Even if that means taking 3 kids--2 screaming--to the social security office, or spending entire days (yes, I'm not exaggerating) on the phone trying to figure things out. This trial is one that's easy for me to find joy in, because, while the kids are screaming, I'm also at that moment LOVING having to wrangle them! I love everything about them, even their screams, and especially their laughter and crazy antics.

Here's something that keeps me going.
"Why should we mourn, or think our lot is hard? Tis not so, all is right. Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight? Gird up your loins, fresh courage take, our God will never us forsake."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Laughing Baby


I have so much to write, but I'm toooo tired so I'm posting this DARLING picture of Natty smiling. She has the funniest laugh--she's been laughing the last few weeks. It's all raspy and hoarse and she always looks like she can't decide whether to laugh or cry. It's hilarious and beautiful. We all spend most of our days trying to make her laugh. (Sorry I can't figure out why this is so tiny!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Love

Nicholas and Natty
My parents, me, and my Master's project at my defense! I think I'm in shock.
Nicholas and Eve decorating Nana's Mother's Day present
Eve hard at work setting up croquet
They love to roar together.
Me, my paper, and my AMAZING (and oh-so-patient) adviser!
Playing in the backyard

Eve and Natty fell asleep like this on our bed.
(Sorry the pictures were in such a strange order)


We realized two days ago, after talking to scores of attorneys, praying, and pondering, that if Nicholas and Natty's (birth)mother wants them back when she's released from prison, then back they'll go. It was a heartbreaking day. It's so very scary to have so much depend upon one person--especially whom we've never met. We're planning to visit her soon.

I'm having a difficult time deciding whether to bring Nicholas--I think it'll scare him. He gets nervous on long car rides (because he's been passed around so much), and seeing her might be scary/confusing.

It's been hard thinking about her. I constantly alternate between ugly vindictive feelings ("She's doesn't deserve them!") and trying to remember that she's their mother--although I am, too--and that she's also a daughter of God and my sister. My friend recently discussed the parable of the Prodigal Son on her blog, and it really stuck with me. Especially how we've all been lost at some point (Pres. Hinckley: "...for are we not all prodigal sons and daughters who need to repent and partake of the forgiving mercy of our Heavenly Father and then follow His example?"). Love, mercy, and respect are ESSENTIAL in our dealings with other people. Whether we keep these darling children, or return them to her, in both cases the only way to have peace and happiness is through loving and respecting her. So, this will be a great learning experience for me.


On a happier note, I defended my master's project and PASSED! It was wonderful. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life! I know that sounds weird (it's school, after all), but I LOVE my project, I LOVE the women I worked with, I LOVE what I found--and the implications of it, and I LOVE the things I learned. To share that was beautiful. Jardan, my dad, and my mom were all there with me, and knowing that they love me and that they love my work was amazing. It was beautiful. Now I just need to settle down, de-stress, and ENJOY. Even though I struggle some days being a mother of three and balancing it all (surprise! My house wasn't messy just because I was in school....it's me. I'm messy. Ha!), I feel like every single day is a miracle. It's miraculous to see my kids laughing with each other, building forts, giving each other hugs and, when one gets hurt, the other one quickly going to their side and asking if they're ok. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I am so in love with my life, and so in love with my family.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

From 1 to 3

It's our one week anniversary! How blessed we are!

I took all three kids out for the first time yesterday. The car seats are so squished together that we can't undo the seat belt for Eve's booster seat, so she has to slip under the already-buckled belt!

As we drove to the outdoor mall to play in the water fountain, I was trying to figure out how I'd get all three out of the car and to the fountain. I got a bit panicky when I pulled in the parking space (can I really do this?!). I got Eve out first, because she sticks with me. Then I strapped the baby carrier on and buckled Natty into it. Draped the diaper bag over my shoulder, handed the towels to Eve (who got bigger overnight--last Friday she looked like a baby to me, and by Saturday she was HUGE!), shut the door, went to the other side and got out Nickolas. (Or is it Nicholas? I can't tell because it's spelled different on different documents!). I have to hold his hand TIGHT because he's so excited ALL the time and loves to run. We were quite a sight. I loved being surrounded by kids, so many that I couldn't even hold all their hands and had to strap one to me! My cup overflows. It was beautiful.