Saturday, September 06, 2014

Telling the kids.

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A couple of weeks ago, we decided to tell the kids about the adoption (obviously from the video posted the other day), mainly because our home study is quickly approaching and we didn't think it would look very good if we had the social worker come over and tell them for us.  For the Hague accredited home study, the social worker must interview everyone living in the house, so we couldn't put off the conversation for long.

Zak and I sat them down after church and had a family home evening type lesson.  We talked about how Jesus was adopted by Joseph and how I was adopted and what the sealing power does.  Then we explained that Zak and I have been praying about our family and that Heavenly Father wants us to add another family member through adoption.   We mentioned China, but our children really have no idea where that is, so it didn't really sink in at first.  Later we got out a globe and showed them how far away China is, but Storey asked today if the Chinese (in China) are Americans too.  We'll keep working on that.
 
Since the adoption process is going to take quite a while, a friend of mine, who has adopted several times, suggested that we give them a time table that they can understand, like grade level.  So we told that them we wouldn't be going to pick up the child until Storey is in 2nd grade and Jakson is in the fourth grade.  I am in hopes that it might be next summer, but with everything that needs to happen, I think that's a bit of a pipe dream.

Their initial reaction was super excitement, but then Storey just burst into tears.  She said she was nervous about the change and that our family is just the four of us and it's going to be so different.  I totally understand because I have those same worries.   It is going to be a big change and is a huge step into the unknown.  After hearing a bit more of the details and a reminder that we have a long time to get used to the idea, she calmed down.  But still wants a twin, which will be difficult.
 
After giving them the news, we had them Skype all of our siblings and let them know.  We felt that gave them some ownership to what was happening and allowed them to be a big part of the excitement.

Several comments from the kids:
  • Jakson: Dad, who is adopted in your family?  Is it Aunt Katy?  And then later when we explaining that the child is going to look Chinese, Jakson said, "Just like Aunt Katy!"  A few weeks ago he thought Aunt Katy was a black person.  He's quite confused about Aunt Katy.
  • Jakson's first question after we told them: Can I get a baby name book from the library?
  • Jakson, also right after we told them: I'm crying happy tears.
  • Storey: Can we get a twin for me?  (she obviously doesn't understand the concept of twins).
  • We explained that China has a rule about only having one child.  Jakson was very worried that when we all go to China, we would have to give one of the kids to them because we have too many.  
  • After we are matched and the Chinese government approves the match, we can start sending gifts to the child at the orphanage.  We told the kids about that.  Storey ran to her room and got the most recent Friend magazine so she could show us an article all about care packages.  She is already planning the first care package we should send using the list in the Friend.
  • Jakson:  We have such a good family.    I thought that was very sweet of him to say.
  • Jakson: What do orphans do all day?  Clean?  (obviously his only orphan reference is "Annie")
  • After we asked Storey how she was feeling, she told us she is "nervexcited"  A new word she coined from nervous and excited.  It's a great way to describe how all of us feel :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

ONLINE Photo Class!

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I am hosting an ONLINE beginner photo class!  It's a six week, self paced, interactive class.  Basically what I've been teaching in person for the last three years, but you don't have to change out of your pj's.  Nothing better than that!!

If you are interested in signing up, enrollment will be open until this upcoming Sunday night.  Class starts on Monday morning.  It's a great way to learn all about your camera (I know you've been meaning to do that for a few years!).  All of the class fees go towards the cost of our adoption of a special needs child from China.  Learn something new and feel good at the same time!

Sign up here:  Online Photo Crash Course

Monday, September 01, 2014

Kids' side of the story.

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Kids from Beth on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Answers

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For the last three years, Zak and I have been trying to figure out what to do about our family size. We've prayed, fasted, taken our question to the Lord over and over and....nothing.

We researched foster care, talked to friends embarking on the foster journey and experienced foster parents, discussed the challenges and blessings fostering would give our children, but just never felt that God called us to foster.

So, we researched domestic adoption, talked to friends embarking on the adoption journey, and watched as some friends dealt with several failed adoptions.  Heartbreaking.   And not something we think the kids (especially Jakson) would be able to handle.  But if the Lord wanted us to adopt, we were willing.   Still, nothing.

After awhile, we decided that maybe "nothing" was our answer.  And we were good with that.  We are a great team of four.  Four fits well in a double bed hotel room.  Rides at Disney are often 2 or 4 across (you know THAT is important to us).   Four ride comfortably in our smaller car.   Our two kids are dearest friends and we love spending time together as family of four.

My mind just kept questioning:  Was doing "nothing" right?

After our move a couple of months ago, family size was not on our minds at all.  Occupying our thoughts instead were house goals: adding walls, knocking down walls, painting furniture, building furniture, unpacking the garage, putting up a pergola, removing chair rail, buying couches.  The biggest goal we had was a major kitchen renovation and I was ready for it.

But then the question snuck in again.  Zak and I talked about it and decided that we were going to take "nothing" for an answer once and for all.  A decision needed to be made and maybe the Lord was letting us make it, so we did.

The next week was testimony meeting (members of the congregation bear testimony of their beliefs).  Our good friend Joel bore his testimony about a difficult, life changing decision he needed to make.  It was going to effect his career and his family.  He said that he wrestled with the choice for awhile and didn't seem to receive an answer.   He was living righteously, praying, reading his scriptures, and understood that sometimes the Lord stretches us by allowing us to make a decision first and then confirming that to us.  In this case, Joel felt that he deserved an answer for this big, life changing decision and after exercising his faith, he received it.

That was the beginning of my answer. 

I told Zak that we deserved an answer too.  The Lord would not desert us with such a weighty decision.  He would be faithful.  And "nothing" wasn't our answer (I have to admit though, I really really hoped "pregnancy" wasn't the answer).

The answer came.  Line upon line.  Here a little and there a little.

My parents were getting ready for their year stint teaching in China.  My mom made the offhand comment that she was going to pick up a baby for us in China on her way home.

Then we had our friend Alison and her family over for dinner.  They adopted a little boy from China eighteen months ago.  Alison and I talk a lot, but for some reason never in depth about Mason's adoption.  Until dinner at our house.  We spent a couple of hours discussing all of the ins and outs of adoption from China.  I think she thought Zak and I were just interested as friends, but we ended the night by telling her that we were genuinely interested for ourselves.  Something that shocked even us.

The following Sunday at church, talks were given that seemed to be just.for.us.  Like the Lord was trying to tell us something....

This time we prayed with what we thought might be our answer.   And rather than "nothing", we were given a big something.  A something unexpected.  A something kind of scary.  But a something that is right.

The Vermillions are adding one more.  This time all the way from China.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Third Grade

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I'm kind of in love with Jakson's tooth sticking out over his lip.

Getting baptized, mowing the lawn, now THIRD GRADE!  Where did the time go???  He will continue therapy at his clinic rather than attend public school again this year.   The progress that he has made in the past two years is phenomenal.  We are so blessed!  After consulting with his therapists, this will be the last nine months at Spectrum and he'll be mainstreamed again next fall.  I'm not a huge fan of the idea, though I can see that it will (hopefully) be beneficial for him in the long run.  But still, let's not talk about it.   Maybe it will be much like our soccer team experience: a lot of anxiety (on my part) for nothing!

Favorite movie: The Lego Movie
Favorite TV show: Phineas and Ferb
Favorite song: Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)
Favorite book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid   (When he first started reading these, he called it "Whompy Kid." Of course, that's how Zak and I refer to these books now. )
Favorite book character: Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Favorite friend: Robert
Favorite school subject: Math and Science
Favorite thing to do: Play video games
Favorite food: Indian food
Favorite place to go:  Disneyland (He first said, "home")
Favorite animal: A jaguar
What do you want to be when you grow up: Paleontologist ("Mom, why do you always ask that?")
What do you hope happens when you are in third grade? Earn iPad time.
Third grade goal: To listen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Giddy-Up!

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Storey spends two years planning her birthday parties (in fact, she has already informed me that her next party, in two years, will be spa themed.  Because "it's just so girly.  Spas are all about girls, Mom" Can you tell she just attended an amazing spa party for a friend yesterday?).  She changes her mind several times, understandably since it's a long time, but once she discovered the boot pinata last spring at Hobby Lobby, she was committed to a cowgirl party.    With lots of pink.  And her favorite boots. 

Texas is really rubbing off on her (though she doesn't say "y'all" or listen to country music....yet).

Thankfully a cowgirl party turned out to be an easy one to put together.  I found lots of great game ideas online, made a couple of purchases from Oriental Trading company, and, of course, got the coveted boot pinata that started it all.  The party was a big hit with the eight little girls.  Across the board, the favorite activity was the General Store---they love to shop already.

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As the girls came in, they were each given a pink felt cowgirl hat and were directed to a table spread with all kinds of glittery and jeweled stickers (aka: bling) to decorate their hats.   In retrospect, I would have checked to make sure the jewels were going to stick well and maybe opted for foam hats instead.  They stayed on fine for the party, but Storey's have since started falling off.  The whining.  Oh, the whining.

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They also each got a "wallet" that I made of cardstock.  Throughout the party, the girls earned play money (Party City( from the activities that they added to their wallets.   By the end of the party, each girl had about 12 bills she could use for shopping at the General Store.

The first game we played was Bingo.  It was anticlimactic.  I accidentally printed off eight of the exact same Bingo board.  Oops.   I printed it from here (there are several different boards to print so your game is more interesting).

Storey requested "Pin the tail on the donkey."  Originally I was going to make a fancy horse poster, but I have more important things on my plate so bought a poster at Party City for two bucks.  I'd like to pat myself on the back for that one.

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Storey is obsessed with balloons, so every year on her birthday she wakes up to pink balloons all over her room.  But then the balloons just hang out for weeks and travel to all of the other rooms in the house and there are tears when they pop and so on.  I figured the best way to fix all that was a rousing game of Pop the Pig.  I turned on some princess music (cowgirls like princess music) and they went to town popping the balloons.  Some girls jumped on them, some sat and bounced, some squeezed them with their arms until they popped.....but ALL of them covered their ears the whole time.  It was very entertaining to watch.  

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After the games, the girls strung together cowgirl bead necklaces (kits from Oriental Trading Co).  Six year old girls are so silly.  They told a lot of ridiculous jokes and giggled.   At one point "Let it Go" started playing and they all started singing at the top of their lungs. 

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Next was the highlight of the party: shopping at the General Store using the money they earned from all of the games.  Some of the items for "sale" were gumballs, suckers, wands, silly straws, pencils, and plastic rings.  The favorite purchase was definitely little diner notepads (like they use at restaurants to write down orders), found at Party City for 25 cents each.  The girls were so excited to play pretend with them. 

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Zak and I built the General Store (which is now a sandwich shop in the playroom and can become a lemonade stand, grocery store, or puppet theater) based loosely on this tutorial.  We used a piece of the flooring left over from our Phoenix house and some chalkboard paint to make the sign at the top.  The poles are made of scrap wood we already had in the garage.  Arena's suggestion to use zip ties to connect all of the crates together was GENIUS!

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After the girls spent all of their money, we headed downstairs for some singing and cake.  It was SO hot outside that we sang the birthday song, blew out the candles, and then went inside to eat cake sitting on the kitchen floor.

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Sidenote: I almost threw this cake out the kitchen window.  I do not enjoy decorating cakes and am not very good at it.  Simply frosting a cake almost sets me over the edge.  All those crumbs that get stuck in the frosting and then I have to try and figure out how to cover up the ugly....  It's a mess.   Thankfully I had some red and pink sprinkles, so I was able to mask some of my mistakes with those.  Then I stuck a dollar store horse in the top along with a little banner.  Bam.  Decorated.   Not Pinterest worthy, but Storey liked it and that's all that really matters.

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After eating, we headed back out to the heat to bust open the boot pinata. Somehow this has become a Vermillion birthday party tradition. It didn't stay intact as long as some of the other pinatas we've partied with, but that was okay because that meant less time outside sweating.

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Storey loved her party and had so much fun with her little friends. We are so grateful she has them. As for me, I'm excited not to host a birthday party for two more years!

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Six year olds being silly
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Highlight of my week

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After turning eight, Jakson was given the new chore of mowing the lawn. 

Well, mowing a small fraction of the lawn.  

Unfortunately, the lawn mower is both bigger and heavier than Jak and tends to lurch forward, sort of dragging him behind.  Also, he is easily distracted.  This past week he spent half of the time trying to mow quickly away from a dragonfly he thought was going to bite him.  Talk about erratic driving.  And a swervey lawn.

Watching him mow his little portion is one of the most entertaining thirty minutes of my week.
 

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I can't believe he's big enough to mow the lawn.  He was a tiny baby just a few minutes ago.

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