Giving Thanks

{a quick family snapshot - just before we headed back home to Idaho}
a few things we're thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend: thankful that we got to celebrate with our families. thankful that we got to see some aunts/uncles/cousins that we haven't seen in over 2 years. thankful that Austin's food allergy reactions weren't more severe. and speaking of... thankful for benedryl. thankful that we saw the ROCKETTES. thankful for Isaac's rendition of the show (funny boy. love him). thankful that my parents had Harry Potter 5 on demand. thankful for THREE grandmas. thankful for the motorcycle and the motorcycle trailor. thankful I didn't get up at 4 am to shop black friday sales - the stores I did go to (at a normal time of day) would NOT have been worth getting up for. thankful that we made it home...and we're still alive. (i still have knots in my stomach from our drive home yesterday - you know when it takes 8 hours to make a 3.5 hour trip it's BAD driving conditions). Just ThAnKFuL


My Sister... an example

I {LOVE} my sister
And I {LOVE} what she did for her baby
the BRAVEST decision a mother could make: to give her baby more than she could offer... to give her baby a family
Aiden Alexander Snarr
born Nov. 15, 2010
9 lbs 4.2 oz 21 in long

Sasha let Aiden's adoptive mom and dad hold him first. I admire Sasha's courage so much.

This boy came into the world belonging to two families. We all fell in love with him on the spot. He is adorable and peaceful and sweet and wonderful. He has the best long spikey blond mohawk of hair. His birth story is one that includes SO many MIRACLES and Tender Mercies. He is loved by so so many people.

Because my sister did something so noble and wonderful, her little boy, Aiden Alexander (Sasha is a nickname for Alexandra - Jared and Alicia gave their baby Sasha's name - a way for him to remember his birth mom gave him a wonderful gift), has a mom, a dad, and a big brother. He is such a lucky baby to have two families that love him so much.

The Snarr's are such good people. I'm impressed with their poise and sensitivity. Sasha couldn't have chosen better parents for Aiden. I'm so so happy that Aiden is theirs. There is no doubt he was meant for them.

After Aiden's birth and adoption as I drove back to Idaho, with my 2 babies sleeping in the backseat, I couldn't help but reflect on all I have witnessed through this. Sasha has had the odds stacked against her SO much during her life. (My parents adopted her {and my other sister, Alina} from the Ukraine 6 years ago. Sasha has seen, heard, and been through unimaginable pain.)

To watch her realize that she needed to give her baby more than she had, before my parents adopted her, and to make sure her baby had a stable home with a mom and a dad was a learning experience for me.

I've learned that as we go through trials in our lives, it is the choices we make during them that determine who we are. I don't believe everything happens for a reason: somethings happen as consequences to ours or others choices, and somethings just happen because of nature or chance, yet sometimes God does put us in situations; regardless of the reason WHY, it is up to us to decide how to handle what happens to us.

We have the oppurtunity to grow closer to God through our suffering. We can choose not to let our trials define who we are.

I have a testimony that God loves each and every one of us the same way, but much more perfect, that we love our own children. He IS our Father. I believe there is a plan for each us. The reason we are here on earth is to become like Him and be reunited with Him after we die. We won't be spared pain as we go through life. We will, however, be able to call on Him, through Jesus Christ and the atonement, and be uplifted and carried through our trials.

As we call upon God in mighty prayer or quiet murmerings from our hearts we will be able to feel Him lifting us, guiding us, showing us the way through. We only need to ask with faith and be open to the ever so quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost. I know this because I have experienced it.

I know that the Holy Ghost is a gift from God, given to us as a way to communicate with Him, personally. I believe in inspiration and personal revelation. I felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost accutely during the two days I spent with Sasha in the hospital.

I am thankful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I draw strength from it's teachings. I know that our prophet is a true prophet of God, as real as Moses and Noah were. I am grateful for the teachings we recieve from the prophet and apostles, that hold the keys of revelation.

I am grateful for my faith. My beliefs make me who I am. I am continually trying to become more Christ-like. I am continually trying to be better at showing my Faith in God through my actions.

I believe that we are not here on this earth by chance. We are put here, in families, for a reason. I believe that God answers our prayers using other people. I have had my prayers answered by people who were inspired to do some small thing that held much meaning for me. Sasha has been an answer to, I'm sure, many many prayers from the Snarrs. Aiden is their answer.

The Lord does work in mysterious ways. Prayers are not always answered in the way we think they should be, or in the time we think they should be answered in. But the Lord is mindful of us, and He knows us. He knows our desires and our needs. He does watch over us.

I pray that the Lord will continue to give Sasha strength and courage. That this will be a new a beginning for her. I pray that we will all become closer to God, knowing that our prayers will be answered just as surely as the Snarr's have been answered.

I love my family. I am thankful for parents who had inspiration of their own, to adopt Sasha and Alina. All of the elements of this story have made my testimony grow. That God lives. He loves us. He will guide us. He will show us the way through our tribulations. It will not always be easy, that is for sure. It will not always be happy (at least at the moment). But we can always have the peace that comes from knowing we are doing what the Lord wants us to do, even if it is hard. And we will always be blessed with the guidance of what to do next. And genuine happines will always come, as we realize we are doing what is right and allowing the Lord take care of us in his own way, regardless of our circumstances.


Last Weekend and OTHER Random Moments

Cam and I got to go on a little weekend get-away last weekend. I'm now a new believer in weekend get-away's - NOT to GET AWAY from the kids but to be REJUVINATED and RECONNECTED to eachother. A night away is the perfect time for us to be away: long enough to get that just dating feeling back {again} but short enough that it's not too hard on the wallet or the kid-sitters. {Cameron's Parents; thank you, again. the kids had fun... and, we stopped over at my parents house for a night too - our kids never knew we were getting-away, they just had fun with their grandparents.}
We stayed at Little America in Salt Lake. I love downtown SLC. It's not overwhelming like Chicago but still PLENTY to do and see, easy to navigate and, since we're Utes and both lived downtown before {and after} we were married, it feels like home.
We ate at our favorite places: Market Street Broiler and Caputos - if you're a Salt Laker stop by. Seriously. Market Street has the BEST clam chowder {you'd never know it was clam chowder, by the way, just DANG good soup} and Caputos is a little Italian Deli with THE BEST sandwiches on the planet. Really.
We went to a 9:20 movie at the Gateway. I slept through the WHOLE thing - WITH my MOUTH OPEN. Cameron's been teasing me ever since. I was TIRED!!
We tried to go to a session here at the temple but I realized my recomend was expired just before we got to the door. So we went into the remodeled visitors center. WOW. So much to learn about not just Temple Square, but the LDS church, and it's teachings, in general. Very neat. *if you want to know what we do in the temple, the above picture of a plaque from the Visitors Center pretty much sums it up. (want to know more? click here)
This little girl is growing, growing. I took this picture of her and a few days later put an outfit my Mom gave her on. She looked so cute I took some more pictures. I can't help it. I just wanna capture her cuteness!
FYI at 9 months Ella is 21 pounds, loves meat, she's rolling around to get where she wants to go and can get into a sitting position from laying down, almost crawling, smiling ALL.the.TIME. she's turned into a blanket snob - she will only sleep if she has one of her aden and anais blankets, still has only 2 bottom teeth, doesn't want to be snuggled when she's tired - just put her in her bed, loves to sing songs and play peek-a-boo, dances to music

We finally made it to a pumpkin patch - on NOVEMBER 1. We didn't get any pumpkins but we had fun in the mazes and corn "sand" box and this HUGE climbing pile of hey.

We found a little place in Glenn's Ferry with a "micro" hiking trail. Hiking is not the same here as it was in Colorado. We miss it. But this flat trail was at least {mostly} pretty and had other vegetation besides sage brush.

Landon has QUADRUPLED his AR reading goal twice. His teacher can't move him up anymore levels because the subject matter in higher level books isn't appropriate for 3rd graders. He's reading Harry Potter right now. He read the first four books in September and October. (Book 4 is over 700 pages and he got 100% on his reading test - the kid has a brain like a sponge, I tell ya, like his almost photographic memory dad. crazy) I made him take a little "Harry" break and read some other books - He likes Geronimo Stillton but he can read a whole book in a half hour. SO we're on the lookout for age-appropriate high level reading material (any ideas?). He just started HP #5 today.

While Cameron was on TDY, the last week of October, Landon sang in his Chior concert. He was nervous. He asked me to print off the words to Star Spangled Banner and sang it for 2 days straight to practice, so he wouldn't mess up.

Isaac is such a little wanna-be Big Boy lately. He trys so hard to do everything the older boys do. Earlier this week I took Austin to Target to spend his accumulated allowance money. Isaac wanted something SO much too, of course. So he "bought" these gloves with his "allowance" money. Made him so happy. He's been wearing them every day since.

Austin was the Special Person in his class last week. He got to present this poster and be the line leader all week. He picked out the pictures he wanted to put on his poster. He also drew a couple pictures for his class (the triangle picture is a drawing he drew of the mountains we stayed in when we went to Big Sky and Yellowstone - he even remembered to draw a ski trail)
lots of fun going on around here lately


Happy Halloween {part deux}

we kicked off the halloween fun with "haunted houses". i let Landon and Austin invite friends over to make them with us. Isaac did a great job building his little house too (his is the one with only ghosts). Landon invited his friend Andrew - a great kid who has a LOT in common with Landon.

Our only Trick or Treating this year went down at the church "Trunk or Treat". (We opted to invite a few friends over on Sunday and celebrate a little more Sunday-like rather than Trick or Treat) So on Friday I got the kids ready and we headed out. I was glad so many of my Young Women love to hold Ella cuz getting through a food line holding 4 plates of hotdogs and chili would've been a lot harder with her in my arms too.

I really really tried to get Isaac on board with the idea of being a frog so he and Ella could be the Princess and the Frog but he wanted nothing to do with the frog. So I gave up and let all the kids pick from the aisles of WALMART! Awesome.
Isaac chose this little Lightning Mcqueen number. He thinks it's a baseball player costume. And he LOVES it. He's already completely worn it out. (it is from Walmart - but really it is coming apart at the seams - I had to sew it back together before Friday.)
And Austin chose to join the Transformer world. (not sure why his picture is so huge)

Landon's costume is one my Mom gave us from her Halloween shop days. I'm not a fan of blood and guts kind of Halloween-ing, but you should have seen how excited Landon was to use fake blood (even though I would only let him use it on his hand.) boys!

Cameron was gone this year for our pumpkin carving. We missed him but we had fun anyway. I let the big kids do thier own pumpkins: scooping, drawing, and carving. Isaac helped me draw his and then punched out his carving (after I carved) with a spoon. We also made Ella a little one. {by the way - Isaac had a big pumpkin to carve too, but he really just wanted to carve the little one}

they turned out so awesome! They each named their pumpkins too. {and I was glad my little prayer that they wouldn't cut off a finger was answered!}

Sunday morning I made "spider web" oatmeal and the kids used a ghost cookie cuter to make their toast scarey. That night we had some friends over for spooky food and games. The kids helped with the decorations (see the shrunken heads - they're made from apples). We had chili and orange cornbread (that Austin made almost completely by himself) and sugar cookies leftover from the ones I had to make for Austin's class party. I attempted to make bone-shaped breadsticks but they ended up being just plain-shaped. We opened the door for a grand total of FIVE trick-or-treaters, the kids watched Babe, and we played Ticket to Ride. It was a fun night.