Thursday, June 28, 2018

the plan for Anna

Last week I received a text asking for a family picture for the Primary lesson on Sunday (Primary is like Sunday School for children 3-12 yrs old). The lesson was "Families are Part of Heavenly Father's Plan" and one of the main points was "Heavenly Father planned for me to come to a Family."

A few days earlier, I overheard a conversation between Anna and Ryan about DNA (yes, they are 6 and 7 yrs old). I may write more about this at a later time, but Anna was upset that she didn't share DNA with me and Tony.

Because of this DNA conversation, I was a little concerned about the Primary lesson. After a few texts, Kara asked if I would say a few words during the lesson. It ended up being a pretty tender moment for me and Anna. It is worth recording  and I hope Anna and Ryan will always remember this for the rest of their lives.

After Ryan was born, Tony and I knew we wanted another child. After deciding to adopt from China, we started the long and arduous adoption process. We began looking at pictures of available children and our agency began sending us files of possible matches. I must have looked at hundreds and hundreds of pictures. I think I fell in love with a different child every few days. I knew it was going to be difficult, but I didn't know it would be so heart wrenching. But I knew that some day we would KNOW when we found the right child for us.

After several weeks, our agency sent us a file for An Jing and among the pictures was this one:

That little face! Tony fell in love with this little girl in about two seconds. One look at this picture and we both felt this little girl was the one for us. We prayed and our hearts were full and at peace. Then we fasted and went to the temple. We prayed in the temple and that was where we absolutely KNEW she was the right one for us.

We still had a lot of work to do to complete the adoption process, but after a few months, we were approved. I tell Anna all the time that daddy and I flew to the other side of the world to get her. I am still amazed at the miracles that brought Anna to our family. 

So yes, Heavenly Father had a plan for Anna to come to a family.

And how grateful we are that His plan for Anna was us.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

how old are you?

This is just a quiet little post that I'm not going to share anywhere because, well, it's a bit embarrassing.  But it's something that I am serious enough about that I am going to go public.  Yes, it's not the first time I've made a similar declaration, but does repetition do any harm?

Several months ago, I had this conversation with my son Ryan.

Ryan:  Mom, how old are you?

Me:  50

Ryan:  Wow that's really old.  Is that why you're kinda fat?

I know right?  Painful.  Both the 50 and the fat part.  And while there really isn't anything I can do about the age thing, I can do something about the fat thing.  And so I am.

My sister and I declared about a week and a half ago that it is time.  Time to start exercising.  Time to start eating healthy.  Time to start losing weight. So a week and a half later, we have gone to the gym together a record-breaking FIVE times. We've also worked out a bit on our own.  We're trying to eat healthy each day (yes, we've slipped a bit, but we've gotten back up).

I've lost 2.5 pounds in a week and a half.  I'm hoping to keep that downward trend going until I hit my goal weight which is an additional 21 pounds away.

So there you have it people.  
I'm old and fat.
But not for long.
By the time Ryan is released from time out, 
I should hit my goal weight.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

meet our Korean Cousins #AirBnbFAIL

A few weeks ago, Tony and I flew to Hawaii for my brother Brian's wedding. We had booked a 2 bedroom AirBnb in Honolulu to share with my parents at a pretty reasonable price.  

It was our first AirBnb experience and I was a little worried, but several family and friends had had positive experiences so we were willing to give it a chance.  Plus, it saved us a few hundred dollars so I figured why not?  What could go wrong?

After a long travel day with delayed flights, we landed around 5pm.  Our instructions were to text the condo owner, Suzy upon landing so we did.  I was welcomed with a cheery "Aloha" followed by parking instructions and that the door would be unlocked.  It wasn't.

Not the end of the world.  We simply texted her and sat by the door for about 30 minutes for her to come to the apartment and unlock it for us.  After she let us in, we entered a condo that seemed quite different from the beautiful pictures shown on the website - it was quite a bit more run down than what was portrayed. But not a big deal.  We are not that picky. Sure, the towels looked like rags that we wash our dog with and smelled even worse, but if that was the worst thing on the vacation, we could handle it.

After a late dinner with my family, we were exhausted enough to just go home and go to bed.  I was so tired, I expected to sleep soundly through the night.

Just before midnight, I woke up to keys rattling in the front door.  The lock was difficult and someone was trying unsuccessfully to open the door.  I listened for a while thinking maybe it was the neighbor's door since it was less than 6 inches from our door.  But after listening for another minute, I was convinced we were about to be robbed or killed.

I woke up Tony and my big, strong husband went to save our lives.  Then I heard the door open and I anxiously waited for yelling, gunshots or some kind of ruckus, but I only heard talking.  So I got up and there in our entry way were a whole lot of Asian people with even more suitcases.  It was clear that they thought we were in their reserved condo. The discussion circled around and around in a confused way that you would expect.  He showed me his email confirmation.  I showed him ours.  The check in dates are the same.  He showed his text, received just a few hours ago, from Suzy with the condo unit number.  I showed him ours.

I should explain that the other group consisted of a very nice young man and 4 equally nice young women who just flew in from Korea.  One of the women spoke English.  She was also marrying the young man the following week.  All of us were trying to contact either AirBnb or Suzy.  All of us were unsuccessful. 

As I mentioned already, it was midnight and Suzy was probably sound asleep as we should have been.  No one could find a phone number for AirBnb so we did the only option we could find on their website.  We selected "Problem Checking In" from AirBnb's help menu.  I have to give AirBnb SOME credit though.  The auto-reply email to our "Problem Checking In" arrived in my inbox with lightning speed.  The email said that they were trying to contact the host and would give the host an hour to respond.  If they could not contact the host within an hour they would refund our money.

So we had no choice but to WAIT for an hour with total strangers trying to figure out what to do.  The guy went down stairs to the front desk in the lobby to see if they could help with anything.  Our best hope was Suzy had two units in this building and she mistakenly told both of us the same number and gave both of the us the keys.

After about 45 minutes of trying to talk to the Korean gals, I decide they were very nice people.  And although I had already found an available room at the nearest Marriott, I had no intention of packing up and moving out in the middle of the night.  And I didn't feel like we could kick them out so I said to Tony, "Why don't we just let them stay the night?"

So we did.  They moved their suitcases into the other room (luckily, my parent's hadn't moved into the other room yet) and started getting settled.  And just then, the young man came back and let us know he was able to contact Suzy.  She did indeed have two condos and did indeed make the mistake of giving us both the same unit number and same keys.  She laughed it off - comedy of errors - a simple mistake that anyone could make.

Really?  I think not.  Well, ok, maybe a major hotel chain could make that mistake, but we would at the very least have a live person to talk to and not auto reply emails telling us to wait an hour while they contacted the host and then another auto email telling us they couldn't contact the host and we could choose to have our money refunded and find another place to sleep (did I mention this started around midnight?)  

So our Korean friends started gathering their bags to head over to their new AirBnb home.  I had brought some chocolate to Hawaii with me so gave them a few hand fulls.  For some reason, I felt the need to offer a parting gift as if it was our fault they were being relocated.  In typical Asian fashion, they scrambled to return the favor, and gave me some Korean nori (dried seaweed that is typically used in sushi).  

And then we took a picture.  I think we all wanted evidence because no one would really believe the story otherwise.

As a follow up, Suzy did apologize profusely the next day and asked how she could make it up to us and that she hoped we would understand the error and not give her a horrible review.  I replied that a refund would go a long way.  I am happy to report that I only had to text Suzy 3 additional times to get that one night refunded.  She initially gave us a partial refund and I was going to accept it and let it go, but decided to keep pushing for the full night's refund on principle.  

AirBnb also emailed us the following day.  I made a point of letting them know how we could not find a phone number or talk to a live person and their reply was they had a help line available 24 hours a day for guests.  Too bad we couldn't find it.  AirBnb was also quick to remind us that this was the hosts responsibility and not theirs.  Which, in my humble opinion, is the very weakness of the whole AirBnb business plan. 

I also let AirBnb know that it is a very good thing that all parties were polite, nice and considerate. Had anyone been drunk or obnoxious or violent, it could have been a dangerous situation.  And what about those sweet Korean girls?  They were much more vulnerable - didn't speak English, in a foreign country, and well, they were young girls.

But as I mentioned, they really were very sweet.  So I introduce to you, our Korean cousins (if you look closely, you can see the Korean seaweed in my hands, my arms covering the fact that I wasn't wearing a bra as well as the nice young man's reflection in the mirror).

In the end, I was a little disappointed that they didn't spend the night.  THAT would have been a good story.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

happy birth day mom!

I've been thinking about writing again and I can't think of a better occasion than my birth day to begin again.  When I used to live in the Bay Area and close to my mom and dad, I used to give my mom a potted plant on my birthday - usually daffodils or tulips.  It's been a while since I've been to Pleasanton at this time of year, but I think those tulips and daffodils still bloom every January in my mom and dad's front yard.  

I'm not trying to brag about being a great daughter because I definitely don't win the best daughter award.  But I do think my mom deserves a beautiful yard full of flowers to let her know how much I love her.  And now that I've experienced child birth, I appreciate her all the more.

I love and appreciate my dad too, but let's face it, mom did all the work.  Many years ago I asked my dad what he remembered about my birth.  In typical dad fashion he said he remembered it was the most exhausting day of his life.  I didn't actually see my mom's face, but I imagine the biggest eye roll in the history of eye rolls.

So happy birthday mom.  Thanks for giving birth to me.  I think it goes without saying that I owe my life to you.

with all my love,

your favorite first born daughter

ps to everyone:  feel free to give your mom flowers on your birthday.  I think it would be a lovely tradition for everyone to enjoy.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ryan's Preschool Graduation

Last week my little boy graduated from preschool.  Ryan has an amazing teacher - Ms. Erin who has expanded his world.

It's times like these that I understand the oft-repeated phrase "enjoy them while they're flies by so fast."  My kids are growing up so fast and it's a joy to watch them learn new things each day.

Someone asked Ryan who his best friend was and he said "Colton and Carson, Brooklyn, Madison, Sophia, Saydi, Oliver and Madison" and here they are!

Thanks to Ms. Erin and Buttons n Bows for a fabulous year!

Friday, October 30, 2015


Yes, it's been a very long time since I've written on this blog.  I have grand plans of getting back on the blogging wagon, but we'll see.  The kids have grown quite a bit, as kids often do.  I will attempt to write some postings about our family vacation to Southern California, Anna's progress, pre-school and other antics at the Smart home.

But I wanted to get this cute conversation between Ryan and Anna documented before my weary brain forgets it.  Note: this picture has nothing to do with the story, but they are cute aren't they?

So a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty sick with a cold and was sleeping on the couch.  Ryan and Anna woke up very early - around 5:30am and apparently they both had to go potty.  Because I was on the couch, I could easily overhear their conversation.  A little background:  When Ryan goes to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he doesn't like the bright light in the bathroom turned on. He turns on the hall light so he's not peeing in total darkness. 

Anna:  Ryan, turn on the light. I can't see.

Ryan:  No Anna, just use the hall light.

Anna:  But I can't see.

Ryan:  When you turn 5 like me, you'll be able to see in the dark.

Anna:  But I am 5.

Ryan:  No you're not.

Anna:  Yes I am.

Ryan:  No you're not.  Come here, I'll show you.

They proceed to walk to the back door to the mud room where there is a growth chart.

Ryan:  Here, I'll measure you.

Anna presumably stands next to the growth chart and Ryan measures her height.

Ryan:  See?  You're only 3.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

mother's day

Mother's Day 2015 began with a defiant child (Anna) causing all kinds of havoc while we rushed around getting ready for church.  This havoc produced a bit of chaos as we jumped in our car at 11:01 and drove to our 11am church meetings.  Luckily, we live in Utah which means our church is 2 minutes away and we only arrived about 5 minutes late (that math does not work, but that is how I remember it).

Upon exiting our car, Anna ran across the parking lot while mommy and daddy frantically chased after her.  Luckily again, there were no cars driving nearby.  After a very stern talking to about the dangers of running in a parking lot, we rushed into the building.  When we were just outside the chapel doors, Anna again took off running into the chapel.  Tony ran into the chapel after her, grabbed her quite forcibly and I, holding Ryan's hand, hurried in after him.  My purpose was to try to calm things down while quickly finding a seat to quietly slip into.  Scanning the chapel, I quickly saw that there were no convenient places to sit so I whispered to Tony "keep going, keep going" and we continued walking and exited out the doors on the opposite side of the chapel while the congregation continued to sing the opening hymn "Love At Home."

Now I'm not one of those women who dislike Mother's Day with a passion, but I certainly understand that tendency.  I think it's a combination of my expectation management and refusal to feel guilty for the myriad of maternal shortcomings that saves me from passionate negative feelings on the one day a year that celebrates one of the most difficult (yet most important) callings (in my humble opinion) in life.

Not to downplay the love that I have for my two children, but this Mother's Day, I found myself thinking about my Peruvian family. I was able to speak to Wilfredo for a little while before we had technical difficulties with Skype and were cut off.  Wilfredo doesn't speak English and we communicate in my extremely broken Spanish which means we don't communicate much at all.  But we were able to connect for a few minutes and I was able to talk to my missionary.  He finishes his mission in Ecuador next month and it was good to see he is healthy and happy and finishing strong.  I couldn't be more proud of my missionary son.

Then I was able to talk for over an hour with Adril.  Adril has been home from his mission for several months and is doing fabulous!  He is living in Cusco, studying accounting and English and is, by the pictures he posts on Facebook, surrounded by friends and happiness.

These two boys, along with all of the children at the Sunflower Orphanage, have brought so much joy and fulfillment to my life. I cried as Adril and Wilfredo told me they loved me. Adril told me that the other children asked about me as well as Juan and Delia and Gladys (the house parents). We talked about several of the children - Nancy, Mayda, Yudy, Ninoska, Dayana, Ronald, Yosimar, Maria, Purfita... These are the kids who gave me purpose in life as I was nearing 40 years of age, single without hope of getting married or having children of my own. Serving these children made me realize that I would have a fulfilling and meaningful life no matter my marital status. 

Really, it was in Peru that I first became a mother.  And so on this Mother's Day, while I am so grateful for my little Ryan and Anna (and of course my amazing mom whom I love dearly), I am grateful for those Peruvian children that I so selfishly call my own.  I love them, I pray for them but most of all, I am honored to be a small part of their lives.