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.

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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

happy birthday to our little Anna

Today our little Anna is three years old.  She is growing up so quickly which reminds me how fast time goes by when your kids are little.  Was it really just a year and a half ago that we brought Anna home from China to join our family? I also realize that she has now spent half of her life with us. There are so many thoughts that have passed through my mind today. And as Tony and I were talking at the end of the day, we discovered that we both have had repeated thoughts about Anna's birth mother.

Every mother I know thinks about her child on their birthday.  And for a birth mom, she often recalls that miraculous experience of giving birth. All day, I thought of Anna's mom thinking about Anna's birth. I've thought so many things ranging from her hope that her daughter made it to a loving family who could take good care of her to her possible anguish of not knowing what happened to her little girl.

While I know we are not supposed to create a story around Anna's birth story, I can't help but feel that her mother loves her dearly and thinks of her often.

I have a fantasy of someday finding Anna's mother and introducing her to her beautiful daughter. I hope someday that she will read this blog and learn about her daughter's life and be able to watch her grow up through these pages.  

And so, with this in mind, I wish you, our little Anna's sweet birth mother, a most wonderful birth day. Thank you for the gift of this little girl. 

We truly cannot imagine our lives without her.

Friday, March 13, 2015

chocolate bribes

I'm one of those stingy parents who rarely gives my kids candy or treats. I'm loosening up quite a bit, but we still have a small bag of skittles from Halloween that we're working on. More and more I view candy as bribes than as treats though.

Ryan, who is four and a half years old now, is still taking naps (proof there are still answers to prayers). However, the number of days when he "doesn't have the tired" and doesn't want to nap is on the rise. Enter skittles.

Me:  Ryan, if you take a long nap, I will give you TWO skittles!

Ryan bless his heart, doesn't know how stingy TWO skittles is and excitedly accepts the offer.

So the other day, we were driving home from Auntie Patty's (Auntie Patty watches Anna and Ryan while we work) and Anna was unusually sad for some unknown reason. Which translated to fighting with Ryan. Which was driving me crazy. And so I offered her and Ryan a piece of chocolate to see if that would both perk her up and end the fighting.

I knew perfectly well that there would likely be melted chocolate to contend with when we got home, but the bribe was well worth it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

surprises from Ryan and Anna

Today is my birthday. I'm not really a big birthday person - I don't like attention (yes, I see the contradiction in that statement and announcing it's my birthday but a blog is a different kind of attention that for some reason, I don't mind) and I don't like a big fuss made over another year. But I digress...back to my birthday.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this one...49...which means next year is the big one. Yikes.

Actually, I don't think turning 50 is that big of a deal except when you have two children who haven't even started kindergarten yet. And that probably isn't as big of a deal except when I think about how old I will be when they graduate from high school or college or get married. Yikes again.

I took today off work, mostly to just relax and get some things done. Exciting things like going to the Social Security building to have Anna's name changed from An Jing to Anna Jing Smart. I also went to the gym for the first time in months. And I'm getting a massage in a few hours. See? Exciting birthday stuff (I'm obviously a bit rusty writing a blog posting again...apologies).

But I did have some very bright moments this past weekend. Tony and I had a night out on Saturday and went to the movies. Auntie Liza babysat the kids and decorated a birthday cake with the kids while we were out. It was supposed to be a surprise.

Sunday morning, the kids got up early and Ryan ran in my room and yelled "mommy we made a surprise birthday cake for you!" I pretended not to hear while Tony tried to shush him and hurry him out of our room.

On Sunday night, Tony made his famous enchiladas and guacamole for my birthday dinner and after dinner, I was able to shoot this gem of a video:


So tell me, with two adorable children like Ryan and Anna and an amazing husband like Tony, how can I have anything but an amazing birthday?

Thank you all for your Facebook birthday wishes. How wonderful to see so many notes, texts, voice mails and message.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Here's the deal...

I never expected potty training to be a four part process that spanned...a year.  Yes, you read that correctly...a year.

In July of 2013, we began potty training Ryan (he is no doubt going to hate me when he's a teenager if he ever reads this) because I wanted to get him good and trained before Tony and I left for China and came back with his little Chinese sister.  That potty party part one was great fun (sarcasm) and so we repeated it (part two) a few months after Ryan's relapse after our return from China.

One of my favorite videos is from potty party part one which can be seen here.

A few months ago, we re-potty trained for the third time and it looks like this one is sticking.  Within a couple of days, Ryan was peeing in the potty like nobody's business and a couple of days after that, he went to bed at night sans diaper.


Except I can't get this boy to poop in the potty.  Every day he says, "mommy, I want to go poo poo in a diaper" and so I put a diaper on him, he poops and then we revert back to his big boy underpants.  For some reason, my brave little boy is deathly afraid of pooping in the potty (and yes, I understand this is fairly common).

So the other day, I decided to bribe, wheel & deal, whatever it took to get him to poop in the potty. 

Me:  Ryan, here's the deal...if you go poo poo in the potty you can have ice cream, cookies, chocolate, whatever you want.  OK?

Ryan:  OK's the deal...(holding up 1 finger) elephant and one giraffe.

Needless to say, he's still pooping in his diaper.