Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thoughts on Adoption: First Time Around

Over eight years ago Lyndzee and I decided that God had a different means for us to find our children. We began the arduous process of filling out the mounds of paperwork to become certified to adopt. Within a few short months we were officially certified and began the process of finding our child. It was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, we felt in large measure like the nerdy kid trying to ask the prom queen on a date (been there, done that), we were considered by some but ultimately passed over. Through a series of miraculous events we were connected with a birth-mom that was interested in us. I can remember driving around downtown San Diego and receiving a call from the birth-mother indicating that she wanted to meet. In that moment I knew that we had found our child. Within a few short months we found ourselves in the hospital awaiting the arrival of our little boy. We were fortunate to be in the labor room when he was born. I can remember seeing him carefully placed on the warmer, dried and then measured. My heart immediately melted, all the struggles Lyndzee and I had experienced with infertility, with deciding how to proceed, with endless procedures, with everyone around us having child after child after child, quickly evaporated into the great expanse and my heart swelled to overflowing. We were now officially parents!

In the ensuing seven years since his birth, Jackson has shown us how little prepared we were for parenthood, but we have also discovered the unconditional love that comes for another person. My dream to become a physician has taken the three of us on an unexpected international journey, including northern England, the West Indie island of Grenada, the very foreign country of Brooklyn, NY, and finally Cheyenne, Wyoming. Though far from our original stomping ground in Arizona, we have discovered that location matters little as long as we are together, that is where our home is. I can distinctly remember running home from the Metro in South Gosforth, England, so anxious to see my little boy after a long day of studying, or spending hours on our "adventures" exploring the mysteries of  Turtleback Drive in Lance-Aux-Epines, Grenada, or walking to visit members of our church with Jackson on my shoulders in the bleak winter months in Brooklyn, and now the chance to play catch with him in Cheyenne.  These memories represent every reason I wanted to be a Dad in the first place.  I find myself  continually fulfilled in this sacred responsibility of raising Jackson.

Despite the incredible joy I feel with Jackson, I can not escape the desire to have more children. Lyndzee and I are finally in a place where we can pursue adoption again. We are now officially certified and anxious for more adventures with our children that are yet to be found.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy 10th Anniversary!

Married and sealed in the Mesa, AZ temple.
It is day 6 of Dustin being out of town and we have far surpassed the longest we have ever gone without speaking, which was 48 hours at the most.  He is two thousand miles away in Honduras, doing work that makes me so proud of him, and I am in chilly Cheyenne taking care of Jackson, throwing shin digs, and missing him terribly.  And today is our 10th anniversary.

Honestly I think we are handling the anniversary in the best way possible.  We were able to go away on an amazing vacation at the beginning of the month to Hawaii where we did nothing but giggle together, lay on the beach, and eat delicious food.  It couldn't have felt more like a honeymoon.  Then, after coming back to the harsh realities of real life, Dustin took off for ten days, allowing me to miss him more then ever and to be so grateful of the amazing man I married and how much I need him in my everyday life.

So today, in his very noticed absence, I wanted to share the things I love most about him, and that no doubt the others in his life love about him as well.

1. He always says sorry.  I joke that it was probably 7 years into our marriage when I was able to genuinely turn to him and say sorry in the middle of the fight, that not being one of my strong points.  But Dustin will say sorry immediately, even when he is right.  He always seeks to make things better and hates when he makes me or anyone else feel bad. And if you don't accept the first apology, then you have to suffer through endless apologies until he is satisfied that the problem is resolved, a lesson that I am still slow to learn :)

2. His laughter is infectious.  If you haven't watched a comedy with him, come on over and do it immediately!  He can make the most mundane of shows become hilarious.  I still remember being so embarrassed when he bounced out of his seat in the theater and laughed out loud at a scene in Napoleon Dynomite, and once when we were watching a movie at my parent's house and more and more people came into the family room to see what we were watching because Dustin was laughing so hard, eventually all joining in themselves.  I have learned to no longer be embarrassed and instead I join right in with my thigh slapping husband.  I can no longer evaluate for myself if something is funny because I loose all objectivity when he is around.

3. He thinks I am hilarious…and I most definitely am not.  I love that there is a lot of laughter in our home and most of it comes from Dustin laughing with me as I dance around the house, talk in our dog Penny's voice (this can make Dustin laugh in the middle of an argument), or just joke around.  His laughter makes me feel wonderful and like a comic genius.

4.  He is an amazing father.  It hasn't always been easy for Dust to be a dad as he has gone through medical school, studied, left home for rotations and interviews, and participated in his church assignments, but Jackson is a top priority to him and he makes every moment with him count.  Last year when he was Young Men's President they held young men's on Friday nights.  Since Dustin wasn't home a lot, he took Jackson with him to those meetings.  Jackson still thinks he is a fellow scout and loved that time with his Dad.  Now they love playing basketball and soccer together and Jackson knows he can always talk his dad into a making a fort.  I know Dustin is his hero and that, because of the love and effort Dustin puts into his relationship with Jackson, it will last forever.

5.  His faith.  This is perhaps the reason I first fell in love with him, that and that he did an awesome rendition of Who Let the Dogs Out during karaoke.  I met Dustin the day he came home from his mission at a ward Christmas party.  He was tall, dark, and handsome, but what attracted me the most was the great theological discussions we would have at night with his family.  Today he uplifts me constantly and always reminds me of what is most important.  I am so grateful I was able to be sealed to him in the temple and that we can return to the temple to remember the covenants we made.  When I struggle with any issue of faith, he doesn't judge but shows me such love that allows for our home to be a place where we can always grow together.

6.  He is a dreamer.  Along with his regular pronouncements that he should have been a rockstar, mechanic, in construction, a basketball player, and many other things, he has big ideas with what he wants to do with his career in family medicine.  We are still in our infancy in our knowledge of this career path, but that doesn't stop Dustin dreaming about all the changes he wants to see take place and the things he wants to implement.  He always comes home with inspiration about how he can help a certain demographic, change the way something is done administratively, or change the world in general.  His optimism is exciting and I can't wait to see where he takes us as a family and how he grows as a doctor.

7.  He cannot tell a lie. Now this can be infuriating when you need him to tell someone that you are busy and not in the shower, but overwhelmingly it allows for myself and others to trust him completely.  I wish sometimes he would lie a little when I ask him how something looks on me, but I also love that we can have an honest discussion about anything.  His integrity is very important to him and he won't let anything compromise it.  I know this is something he really wants to instill in Jackson who, when caught in a lie will just say, "kidding, I'm kidding".

8.  He loves animals.  When we first got our dog Penny six years ago, a first child while we waiting to adopt, he would take her everywhere. He would study with her on his lap, hold her in his arms while playing soccer, and fall asleep with her on the couch. While he was separated from his little girl for a few years while we lived abroad, he is just as in love with her today as when she was a puppy, hence the fact that I can make him crack up if I talk in her "voice" and talk about what she is thinking.  And the love of animals is not limited to Penny.  In Brooklyn he would stop dog owners on the sidewalk and ask to pet their dogs, and a commercial with a dog can get an "awwwe" out of him anytime.  Such a softie.  Jackson has learned this same love and they both coo at animals and love, something I can't stand, movies that have talking animals.

9.  He loves to talk.  Honestly I couldn't have married someone who didn't like to talk.  I would have driven anyone else up the walls in a minute, but Dust can talk right back.  When we were dating, if there was a movie on we would talk right through it.  I remember a special night where we talked all night and watched the sun rise together, a night that let me know he was worth all the effort and was the type of many I wanted to marry.  We still love to talk about religion, books, history, politics, and in my case, any random idea that pops in my head.

10.  He is the best friend I could ask for.  He calms me when anxious, comforts me when sad, makes me laugh when frustrated, and makes a good day even better.  There is nothing that I want to do or experience without him.  This journey we took through medical school was a doozy, but I wouldn't have changed anything, especially how close we grew as a result of being in new surroundings and away from family.  Dustin and Jackson are the most important people in my life and I would go anywhere with them…provided it had a Costco and Target :)

I am so grateful to Dust for the last 10 years and for the many, many more to come.  I look forward to raising many more kiddos with him, to living in more places, having more adventures, and falling more in love everyday.  Happy anniversary Dustin!!

First Christmas Tree chopped down in Durango, CO 2005
Birthday dinner 2005

Halloween 2006
Halloween 2008

Dustin and Jackson, 2009
Sunset Cruise, Grenada 2009
White coat ceremony in Newcastle, England 2010.
New Year's Eve 2010
New Years's Eve 2010
Thanksgiving in England 2010
Alnwick Castle, England 2010

Grenada 2012

Mt. Carmel Falls, Grenada.
Central Park 2013
Valentine's Day, Ice Skating in Bryant Park, 2013
Governor's Island, New York 2013
Halloween in Brooklyn 2013
Fall, Prospect Park, 2013
Bed Dad Ever! Fall 2013

Sledding in Brooklyn 2014
Valentine's Day 2014

Brooklyn, NY 2014

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Can't a girl get a break?

I recently read a blog about a mom who is feeling fed up with the holiday hoopla.  And I get it, it's overwhelming.  Often it doesn't feel as if you can even skip one, even if you have a 2 month old who can care less and a spouse you won't see that day.  I felt that way a lot while living overseas in countries that didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, a toddler who didn't eat solids, and a husband who had to study all day. And yet I had friends in my same situation who made a full turkey dinner and decorated their apartments beautifully on a shoestring budget.
  That being said, this year, for the most inconsequential of holidays, I put extra effort into making St. Patty's Day fun.  Now, I didn't do anything I didn't steal from pinterest, I served store bought Lucky Charms, green milk, and went to the extra measure of leprechaun footprints on the toilet seat. But, as simple as that all sounds, I was so proud of myself for going the extra mile.  This is the same mom who once tried to throw away the clippings from Jackson's first hair cut. ( Tried and failed because my mother-in-law's sentimentality couldn't let it happen.) The same mom who put a sheet with a hole in it over his head for Halloween and called him a ghost.  I feed him processed hot dogs, let him play in pin worm infested sand, ride the subway and forget to wash his hands...the list is endless.  But don't make me feel bad for doing something extra on St. Patty's Day.  I had a victory.  I created a memory for a sweet 4 year old boy who thinks there is nothing funnier than a leprechaun on a toilet. And I didn't do it because I was pressured, pinterest made me, or because I am trying to keep up with the Joneses ( or the amazing Greers in my case :) I did it because I want to be a fun, life loving, celebrate every day I can kinda mom.  That is tough because many days I feel apathetic, tired, overwhelmed, and cranky.  So while I understand we don't all do things the same way, I will take my victories one slimy, green, footprint at a time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Moment

I need to take a moment to share a bit of the many things I love about Jackson.  He is 3 and a half now, and he grows in leaps and bounds everyday.  My favorite thing about him right now is how he speaks.  Whenever he gets hurt or frustrated, he whispers, "Oh, shoot".  He says things like, " I am so exciting" when he is excited about something.  He can't stop talking about the fact that he is big enough to go on all the rides at Disney Land, even waking up in the night to ask us if he is still big enough.  He tells everyone he meets that he has a dog named Valley Girl (Valentine) and a Grandma.  He eats, breathes, and sleeps cars.  After watching a preview for Ice Age, he repeats the saying, "Holy Crab" all the time, incredibly loudly.  He likes to tell us that he is hilarious.  He also tells us that he is the best at everything he does, like flipping off couches, jumping over cracks, swimming across the pool, doing karate poses, and being a good listener (which is debatable).

This summer Jackson has become an excellent swimmer.  He would love to be in the pool all day long. He is very opinionated, and this now extends to his clothing.  He won't currently wear his brown Toms because they are boring.  He will refuse to go to church, but then run into his Sunbeam teacher's arms for a big hug.  He loves his friend Luke, so much that he often cries when he leaves, even though they pick on each other when they hang out.  He loves his dad.  A lot.  And he screams and runs to him whenever dad comes home.  This summer they have had the chance to go on morning runs or swims or bike rides together before Dustin goes to study, and I know theses times are dear to both of their hearts.

Jackson is a huge sweetheart.  If I am home sick, he runs to my bedroom to see if I am feeling better.  He will say he is so sorry as soon as he can see I am upset about something.  He loves hugs and kisses. He negotiates the number of books we have to read him at night, and then the snuggle time.  He will share any bite, or his favorite gum, or a sip of his juice.  If he asks you to build something with him, go swimming with him, or toss the ball around, and you say yes, he will tell you that you have made him so happy.

I love this little 3 year old.  He makes me happy.  I know he makes his daddy happy.  We love you Jackson.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sports Day

One thing I love about the GAP, the school that Jackson goes to 3 mornings a week, are the fun recitals and sports days they put on.  It gets me so excited to become a soccer/basketball/football/swimming/anything mom.  This sports day was great because Jackson is old enough to enjoy the run and all of the cheering going on around him.  What a wonderful feeling it is to have him run straight to my arms, jump up and hug me, smiling with all of the pride he feels at doing so well.  They also let the parents compete and I did the potato sack race.  Not my finest moment.  Anyway.  Enjoy the photos from the day that brought me so much joy.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When someone says it will be dangerous...LISTEN!

On the other hand, if we had listened, we would not have had one of my most memorable adventures ever. all began with three girls and a decision to surprise their husbands for their upcoming birthdays.  We planned a trip to the island of Carriacou with an excursion to the Tobago Cays.

First was the lovely trip on the ferry to Carriacou, where everyone threw-up except for me and Dustin...we just made jokes at their expense while watching their misery.  We are really good friends.

Peter trying to keep Amber standing after slipping all over the deck.

                                   Michelle getting drenched for the 20th time.
Me being graceful as usual.

 When we arrived on the small island the first thing we did was check into our hotel rooms at only $35 US a night.  The hotel is called Kim's Plaza and I really liked it.  It is simple but clean and had A/C and a fridge to keep our snacks cold.  For the price it was more than worth the money.  The hotel is also only a 5 min walk from where the ferry docks which helped us save money on taxis.

After checking in we needed food and, for those with recently emptied stomachs, we needed food fast.  So we asked the owner of the hotel where to go and he directed us to Sea View, once again being only a walk away.  I really enjoyed the food there as it was delicious chicken or fish surrounded by 4 or 5 local sides.  Then, stomachs filled and settled, we set out to have our first adventure.

While walking back to our hotel we ran into a Verdon, a taxi driver who aspires to be a one stop shop in Carriacou.  He told us he could set up our trips to Sandy Beach and the Cays and the prices he quoted were what we expected so we jumped into his truck and headed off.  Little did we realize that he took a cut of any trip he booked.  This didn't really change our price at all, but we would plan trips on our own in the future to avoid cutting the cost to the actual boat driver.  Anyway, Verdon took us to Off The Hook where we found Curtis to take us to Sandy Island.   Curtis is a quiet man but he is also currently my hero. But you will have to read on to find out why.

Sandy Island is a tiny strip of sand just a 5 minute boat ride from shore and I loved it.  It was simple but beautiful and we felt like we were all alone on our own private island.  The girls ended us chatting on the beach and the boys got in some good snorkeling, especially Dustin who you have to pull out of the water.  He prefers to go without fins because he enjoys swimming.

Stone sculptures made by past visitors from the beautiful rocks around the island.

After our sun soaked afternoon on Sandy Island we needed some more grub and luckily Verdon remembered a new restaurant that had opened that was perfect.  It is called La Playa and was only a 5 min walk from our hotel and located right on the beach.  We had burgers, cokes in glass bottles, and listened to a small steel drum band.  We even all split a few ice creams to celebrate Peter's birthday.  After diner we went back to our rooms, put on our PJs and then sat together in the  Hinckley's room to sing Happy Birthday to Peter and eat the delicious cake that Amber brought with her.  It was a great end to a great day.

Me and my fisherman.

The next morning we all went to the dock to meet up with Curtis once again to take a boat to the Tobago Cays.  This is where things started going bad.  The day before Curtis had told us that the weather wasn't very nice for a 45 boat trip to the Cays.  When told this information we just rallied and said we didn't care how uncomfortable, we were determined to make it to the Cays.  We didn't change our minds when he drove his small, wooden fishing boat along side the dock.  We didn't say anything when we spent 10 minutes crossing very choppy water that was only a prelude to the open ocean.  It was only when we saw Union Island ahead, the half way point, that we all started second guessing our decision.  We had started off our journey with yelps of joy and laughter at ever bump and jostle and slowly the boat had grown quieter and the excitement turned more to fear, me even asking Curtis if he had ever flipped a boat before.  The answer wasn't comforting.  Rob and Dustin were sitting up front and they clung to the front of the boat with blistering hands as their rear ends pounded away at the wooden planks they were sitting on.  Michelle and I were in the middle our arms and hands going numb from trying to hold on to our seats and the sides of the boat, Michelle getting soaked with stinging salt water with each bump.  Amber and Peter sat in the back, Amber still positive that Peter almost flew out of the boat.  And it was Amber that asked in the middle of our journey, in the middle of the white topped ocean, if we could turn around.  She braved a few more minutes for us to get to Union Island and then declared that she was done.  And it wasn't long before we all followed...with the exception of my adrenaline junkie friend Michelle who looked longingly towards the distant Cays as we all refused to go on.

The day wasn't a bust though as Curtis took us to the nearby Palm Island.  Palm Island is exclusively for guests of its beautiful resort, but we snuck on and enjoyed the luxurious beaches, snorkeling, and especially the safety away from the fishing boat.   However, it wasn't long before we would have to get back on the boat to go home.

The boat ride home to me was just as bad.  However, Dustin and Rob sat up front discussing pathology, the waves were much easier on us going back, and Amber rangled up a life jacket.  But for me, it was awful.  You see, I am a head case.  The previous trip I had been filled with enough excitement and optimism to get me through.  But on this trip all that was replaced with fear and my head got the best of me.  It also didn't help that right after loading ourselves onto the boat the waves got the best of us and I felt far too close to tipping over.  At one point in the trip home I told our driver, "I am really scared Curtis", saying his name in the way you might tell it to a kidnapper to humanize the situation.  I wanted him to want to get me home safely...yes, I was that looney.  But, of course, we made it safely back, where I told Curtis I loved him.  He was an excellent captain.  While a man of few words, I would definitely recommend him during better weather :)

Dustin found this star fish and 3 sand dollars right before catching the ferry home.


This is very similar to the boat that we took.

Needless to say, we made it back home, safe and sound, with an amazing adventure story to tell.   Scary or not, it was all a blast and I couldn't have shared it with better people.  I want to let the Greers and Hinckleys know that I absolutely adore them and loved spending time with all of them.