29 April 2008

Baby Beach Video

This is Isaiah snorkeling...later in the video is Melissa, who didn't know she was being filmed.

This is London and Isaiah snorkeling. Don't you love how they "swim"!

Here is Caleb and a fish. We took a lot of video of the fish, but you would get seasick watching it, and it is hard to see the fish, because the water isn't as clear as it could be.

This is Darwin handing the video camera to Melissa

Here is Brooklin. She had already been snorkeling, and Melissa was using her mask and snorkel, so she was just playing in the water...and watching Isaiah for us. Later on in the video, you can see London, Brooklin, and Melissa

28 April 2008

Weekend update

This weekend was so busy it was a blur. It started (for me) bright and early on Friday morning. I had to be out the door at 6 am...showered, dressed, and hair done, for an hour long drive to the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, to do a geoteaming event. For those that don't know what that is, it is a lot like geocaching, only with a different purpose. The short explaination is: it is a team building activity for corporations using GPS technology and aspects of geocaching. I am hired as a geotech for the events here on Maui, and I teach people how to use their GPS units, and assist them in locating caches hidden in a specific area. The course is designed specifically for the event, and when the event is over, we clean up the course of all the caches. If you want to know the long explanation visit: http://www.geoteaming.com/ I have done six geoteaming events since last April. They are really a lot of fun. So anyway, I spent the day out in the sun, trying to keep up with a group of 9 people on a mission to collect the most caches and win the prize at the end. The hotel property is on a hill, and we ran (actually they technically aren't allowed to run) so we were speed walking for two hours...on the beach, up hills, and all around the resort.

Friday night, we took my geoteaming friend, Tanya, from Austin, TX out to dinner. She is a course designer, and I have worked for her for four of the six events I have done. She is really fun. We took her to our favorite local restaurant...Da Kitchen. They have the best local food. Saturday we took Tanya and Andrew (the other employee here for the geoteaming event) out to our favorite snorkeling beach in Lahaina for most of the day. I even went snorkeling for a good 30 min with Caleb and London. I actually had a really good time, and didn't have such a hard time putting my face in the water. At about 2pm, we finally got out of the water and went to eat at a little outdoor beach grill, and then went to Cold Stone for dessert. We said good bye to my friends...I probably won't be doing any more events, because we are moving, and headed home. We had one hour to be showered and dressed in nicer clothes, because Darwin and I were asked to teach dance at a Stake Priest/Laurel (kids 16 - 18 yr. old from church, for the island of Maui) etiquette dinner and dance. We taught them an easy group dance and then a few swing moves, and then they turned on some music and had the dance.

Sunday, after church, Darwin and I were asked to speak at the Stake Adpotion fireside. We both spoke for about 20 minutes, and we had our children sing "I Am a Child of God" (and I played the piano for them.) Darwin did really good on his talk, and I bawled through most of mine. They also had another lady speak who had adopted two children at birth, who are now teenagers, and also her daughter spoke about growing up as an adopted child. Another lady sang a song, and then the LDS Family Services representative for Maui spoke to us. It was a really good fireside.

Anyway, today I am just trying to get the quilt done and relaxing. It only has the binding left to do, so it should be done in the next day or two. I guess I should put a little in here about everyone else too. Darwin had fun in Florida with his parents and his brother's family. He has been busy with work and is trying to get our move stuff ironed out...when to ship the car, when to have the movers come, and all the other little stuff we have to do before we take off. Brooklin is in a free sewing class after school on Tue. & Thurs. and she came home with a pillow case last week that she had made. Caleb made "Wildcat" of the month at school, and got a certificate for perfect attendance this quarter...and I think he has gotten it for the whole year as well. London also got perfect attendance, and she is getting ready to be baptized in June. Isaiah has another mohawk, and we just got his acceptance for an IEP for speech...he is very hard to understand, and they are going to pull him out of class at school for 40 min a week to help him with his speech. I think that is all for now, and I will put up a video or two of us out snorkeling at baby beach...in another post, since I really need to get on the ball and get some stuff done today.

24 April 2008

Results from a scholarship search

Tonight I was searching the internet to see if I could find anyone who was willing to help a 33 year old first time college student with her tuition. I found a website that was supposed to search for scholarships that were tailored to a set of questions I answered...stuff like gender, military status, state, race, and so on and so on. Anyhow, at the end of the questionairre, it came up with 98 scholarships for me to look through. I was like "Wow! This isn't as hard as I thought it would be!"....oh contraire!! The first scholarship on the list was for a plumber!! I'm pretty sure I answered the "What field of study are you going into" question as "Business/managemen/etc." Ok, so maybe they think I am going to manage a Mr. Rooter or something. The next page was even less help. "Caddie Scholarship" for the state of New Jersey. I know that I put Alaska down...and I don't even like golf! Thinking it had to get better, I clicked on the third page, and that is when I knew that they must have meant for me to check the boxes to exclude me from scholarships....not include. This is the funniest thing I've seen today... saying this is the funniest thing I've ever seen would be a little dramatic and untrue. Anyway, the name of this scholarship is "Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Scholarship" Basically you have to make you and your date a set of prom clothes out of duct tape, and then prove you wore them to prom, and send a picture of yourselves to their website, and they will give the winners a $3000 dollar scholarship! The rules specifically state that you must attend a prom this year with a student, and I know for sure that I stated that I was an adult student. Anyway, I clicked on the website and they had all the pictures from last year's contest, and it was pretty funny. There were over 175 pictures, and after about 50, I had to stop and get the littles ready for bed, but here are some of my favorites from the ones I saw. BTW, the link to the website is http://www.stuckatprom.com/contests/prom/archive.asp

21 April 2008

WOW! 3 in 4 days!

This hasn't ever happened! Today I got a phone call from a 23 yr. old girl in Seattle,WA. She is pregnant with her second child, and is overwhelmed. Her boyfriend is Hispanic, and she is Caucasian. I talked with her for a little bit on the cell phone, and she is due in Nov. She wanted the baby to live in Hawaii, because she said she had been here (lived here??) and it was sunny and nice, and that she hated Seattle because it was always rainy and grey. I told her we were moving to Alaska in a few months, and she seemed to be ok with that. She said she really didn't know how to go about planning for an adoption, so I gave her our workers information, and told her to call them for more information. We were just getting into a conversation about how we would feel if the child was bi-racial, when my stupid cell phone lost signal. I had given her Sally's #, but she didn't call me back. Oh well.

Sally did call me today and said she had a good conversation with the 31 yr. old woman from yesterday. She said the girl had asked if maybe we were just giving her a fast answer about being ok with an african-american child, but Sally told her she thought we were being sincere. Sally also read her some of the comments from our references, and said that she liked what people had said about our family...thanks those of you who wrote nice things about us!! She told us to keep the contacts coming, and she wished that she could do our placement before we move. That would be really nice, but we don't have a definate from anyone, so we are still waiting. It is so interesting how this all works!

20 April 2008

I got my computer back!

We ended up having to pay $200 to get the desktop working again. The insurance paid $65 dollars for the diagnostic to be done. The only problem is that they had to rebuild my operating system, so I don't really have any of the stuff back, but I do have a "brand new" computer. There is a folder on the desktop labeled "backup" and it has all the old stuff on it, I just don't know if I have the will or time to try and sort through it all and put it back where it goes. I was able to find the butterfly pictures, so I will add them here. I am happy that I have my computer back, just sad that it is so clean and empty....no favorites on the internet browser, no old emails, no saved passwords, etc.

These pictures are kind of neat, because you can see all the stages all in one shot. There are a few caterpillars hanging upside down, getting ready to make their chrysalis, some green chrysalises, some dark chrysalises(nearly ready to hatch), some newly hatched butterflies, and some empty husks. If you notice in the third and fourth pictures, there is a chrysalis on the bottom of the bug catcher. It made it's home on a leaf, and then the leaf fell off the tree. The kids found it and put it in the bug catcher, and it later hatched and was just fine.

Today's adption contact

Today, we had another birthmom contact us via Yahoo! Messenger after viewing our profile on parentprofiles.com. The conversation with her was longer than the last contact, so I will just summarize it here. This woman is 31 years old and is living in Texas. She is 4 1/2 months along and due on Sept. 20th. She has three children (12,6, & 2) and has previously given a child up for adoption. She is in school, working on her nursing degree. She is preparing to move to Florida to be closer to family in June. She knows who the baby's father is, but hasn't had any contact with him since telling him about baby. She said we "seemed like a really, really close traditional family...something missing in my own family". She wanted to know if we would be able to attend the birth if she chose us, and also wondered how we felt about an Africian American child. She and the father are both African American, and she said she really wanted to make sure we were ok with that...which we totally are. She was willing to give us her contact information and we passed that on to our adoption worker. Sally (our caseworker) said that she would try to call her in the morning. The lady also told us that she has/is talking with up to ten different couples, which I think is a really good idea, considering she is giving her child to another family to raise. She should interview as many people as she can, so she can be at peace with her decision.

Don't anyone get their hopes too high...I have had good conversations with 15 to 20 contacts, and now that I am posting them, it may seem like things are all set. I have to take each one of these, and just go with the flow, since most of the contacts I get, only last through the initial contact. We will just see how it goes, and pray for these birthmoms. They are hormonal, and in a scary position. Some are very stressed about what is going to happen, and some just pretend that it isn't happening and live in denial. I will pray for this girl, and I hope she can find a good family for the child she is carrying. If that family happens to be ours, then I will rejoice all the more. It is very exciting that we have had four contacts in the past three weeks. Before April 5th, it had been a a month without any contacts. Feast or famine...I think I am being prepared for the talk I am giving on adoption on Saturday.

17 April 2008

Gas is now....

$4.18 a gallon!

Our latest adoption contact

After my rambling last night, I decided that I would try and keep you all better aware of how things are going with our adoption process. This woman contacted me this afternoon via instant messenger, and this is the conversation. I have deleted her name and email, for confidentiality, but this is the second time we have been contacted with this type of scenario. I keep a paper journal of all of our adoption contacts, but I think I will try and put the new ones on here, so you can see where we are at. If they are lengthy, I will just give a synopsis of the conversation.

b: is this Melissa?
MeJ: yes
b: I was looking at your profile. You want to adopt?
MeJ: yes we do
b: would you be willing to take a 10 year old?
MeJ: possibly...
b: I adopted Destiny at age 3. I told her about being adopted a couple years ago
b: she wants a two parent family
b: Iare you there?
MeJ: how did she come to that decision, and what makes you want to go along with it?
birth mom: are
b: well, I'm a single parent and she been giving me some problems.
b: she a beautiful child, but she was a drug baby. she smart, and learns, I had her in private schools until this year
MeJ: what kind of problems is she giving you?
b: not wanting to mind
b: she doing it cause she wants a new home, or thats what she told my brother
MeJ: I have a ten year old son (and an 11 year old daughter) that don't want to mind and don't like me sometimes...
MeJ: how long have you been thinking about relinquishing her?
b: 2 years now
b: My sister and I were adopted, and my older sister hated my adopted mom
MeJ: Have you persued any other avenues besides relinquishment?
b: I have talked to her bio. family and they told me to put her in foster care
b: I dont want to do that
MeJ: no, that wouldn't be good for her...
MeJ: where are you located?
b: Florida
b: my lawyer, says all I have to do is find a family and give up my rights to her.
b: my cousin was going to take her, but she got four foster kids now, and not sure if or when they will go home
b: I can send you a picture of her
MeJ: that seems a little easier said than done, to be truthful. is she very emotionally attached to you?
b: no
b: she can go stay with anyone and she doesnt miss me at all
MeJ: does she have the ability to form family attachments?
b: most of the time she tells me she hates me
b: well, she loves my older daughter
b: and she loves my brother, he like a grandpa to her
b: he 19 years older than me
MeJ: how old is your older daughter?
MeJ: and was she also adopted?
b: 23
b: no
b: I have three other daughters and only adopted the youngest one
b: four total
MeJ: so she is much younger than all of the other three?
b: yes, and think thats some of the problems
b: that and she wants a dad
MeJ: is she seeing a counselor at school or anything, or just venting her feelings to you?
b: took her to a psychologist, for two years
b: he says she resents me, she feels in her heart I took her from her real dad
b: her dad gave her up to me
b: I had her in my daycare
MeJ: i've heard that a lot about adopted children
b: he did drugs and was dignosted almost retared last summer
MeJ: that is very sad. does she have any contact with her birthfather?
MeJ: or birthmother?
b: see I feel if she had a new family and with this being what she wants, than she would adjust better and be happier
b: no, her mom went to prison for drugs
b: but heard she out and lives in NC somewhere
b: are you still here?
MeJ: what a tramatic past...I am not sure we are equipped to meet her needs. It sounds like she needs to have undivided attention...possible as an only child, and needs to go through some extensive counseling for her issues
MeJ: she would have to share her attention with our four other children
b: oh , that might be a problem
b: she does need more one on one
b: maybe you can help me find someone that wants to adopt?
MeJ: are you working exclusively with a lawyer, or have you contacted any adoption type agencies?
b: there is one in my town, but they only work with babies
MeJ: our adoption agency is national...in every state...and although they work more frequently with babies, they are also qualified to place older children....what city are you in
MeJ: LDS Family Services
Florida Agency
10502 Satellite Blvd. Suite D
Orlando, Florida 32837-8426
PH: 407-850-9141
FAX: 407-850-9687
MeJ: here is there information for florida
MeJ: it would probably be a good idea to choose a family nearby, so she would have time to adjust gradulally, over time, to her new family, and could make the transition slowly
b: oh ok
b: thank you
b: I will contact them
MeJ: good luck!
b: thank you
b: keep my email address ************@*****.com
b: if you hear of anyone
MeJ: ok

16 April 2008

I haven't written about this yet...


I think about this more than I do most things. It is amazing how it is such a strong focus in my life right now, and how very little control I have over it. Some days, I am really gung-ho, and some days I feel like it is defeating me. I've let myself get excited over prospects, and I've become saddened when they don't work out. I've been contacted by nearly 15 birthparents, 3 or 4 adoption agencies, and several teenagers looking for new parents for themselves, money for college, and just someone to chat with them because they are bored and up all night. I am so ready for this to have an awesome ending, but I guess the time is not yet, and I still need to have more time and experiences. Darwin is much better at this waiting than I am....at least it seems that way to me. I feel like if I could just do that one more thing, then it will all work out, so I have done everything I can think of, and I don't even know if they are the things I am supposed to be doing. Everyone who has made it to the other side of this tells us that when it happens, it is amazing and you just know that even though you didn't physically give birth to your child, they were meant to be part of your family. I believe it...I just am having a hard time.

While Darwin and I were dating, and after we were married but before we had children, we discussed adoption. I can tell you that I have very different views about it now, than I did 14 years ago. We both knew we were open to it, and that we would be coming down this path eventually. After Isaiah was born and I went through those 18+ months of post partum psychoness, we knew I couldn't give birth again and we also knew for sure that our family wasn't complete. We prayed about our decision for two years...and we know that this is what we were to do next. I really needed some time to get my sanity back, and let my body heal. Our youngest will be six in a few weeks, and I have had an amazing year this year. I have been able to have a lot of time to myself, to do things to fill my cup back up. I know that I really needed to have this year to myself...all the kids are in school and I have been able to take care of me. I am so grateful that the Lord knows me better than I do, and has guided me to this point. I am really stubborn when it comes to graciously giving Him the controls and relaxing for the ride. I know He has the controls already, but sometimes I get a little prideful and think that I could make this happen all by myself.

Anyway, I haven't written about this on our blog yet, and it is something that is always just under the surface of everything I do. Darwin and I were asked to speak at an adoption fireside in two weeks, and so I have been pondering what I am going to speak about, and if I can do it without letting my emotions get the better of me. They asked us to speak, because we are not the typical adoptive family. We have four biological children, we didn't struggle with infertility, and we don't really fit peoples' perceptions of what an adoptive family is. We both grew up in large families, and even though some of that was crazy, we both love coming from large families.

This has been good for me to get some of this out. I am excited and scared, impatient and nervous, and very sure that this is how our family was meant to grow. I know that one of our children is still out there somewhere, and that we are all doing what we can to find each other. I also know that while I am having a boo-hoo pity party for myself, there is an amazing birthmother out there somewhere, with more courage in her little toe than I have in my whole body, that is going to do something truly amazing and selfless, something that I could not do myself...she is going to bring our child into this world and then place her child in our arms. I will be forever grateful for her. She is already one of my heros, and I haven't even met her yet. God knows her, and he is caring for her, and preparing her for what she will face. I need to have more faith in God's plan for me and my family.

It is now nearly an hour since I started this post, and I need to get to bed. The littles will be up bright and early for school and I need to be somewhat rested and alert. =) I'll end this post with my new accomplishment for today. I filled out an application this afternoon for the University of Alaska Southeast! The girl at the admissions office said I should hear back from them in two or three weeks. We'll see how this all works out! I haven't ever been to college, and I haven't been to school for 15 years, so it should be interesting!

15 April 2008

Blah, Vacation, and Baby Hats

This week I have been blah. Brooklin and I both got sick...noses, throats, sneezing, coughing, and gunk. I am feeling a little better, but it is just blah to be sick.

Darwin left last Thursday night to go visit his brother's family in Florida, and also to go diving there with his dad. (His parents planned a trip there, and Darwin wanted to go to, so we let him.) They spent a lot of time fixing a boat, and they were supposed to go on a fishing charter on Monday (I think) and the charter boat was also broken. Today, he and his dad went on a spear diving charter and had a lot of fun. He said he saw tons of new kine fish, and a nurse shark and a hammer head shark. They didn't end up spearing anything, but it they are going again tomorrow, so maybe this time they will get a fishy.

Tonight, I got to teach our relief society president (and one of her counselors) how to crochet! They asked me to come in and teach the relief society sisters how to make crocheted baby beanies. I have been a member of a group here on Maui called "Papale Pepe Na Kapuna" for five months. Papale means "hat", pepe is "baby", and Na is "by", and Kapuna is "grandparent". Basically, it is a bunch of grandma ladies (and me!) that knit and crochet hats for all the infants that are born here on Maui, and we meet once a month to donate the hats to the hospital. Last month, there were 160 babies born here, and they all went home with a handmade hat. We actually donate more than that in a single month (I think there are about 15 ladies at each meeting I've been to, but our member list shows 30 members), so the foundation at the hospital asked us if we could branch out. We are now knitting/crocheting hats, mittens, and slippers for the cancer patients, and hats and lap blankets for hospice and the elderly homes in the area. Anyhow, I always have my bag of yarn and patterns with me wherever I go, so when I have a few minutes, I have something to do. The ladies at church asked me about it, and they all wanted to learn, so I taught a class tonight. Our president had crocheted before, but only when she was little, so she learned again, and finished one hat. Her counselor had never crocheted before, and she was also able to finish a baby hat as well. It was really neat to see them get excited and learn something new. I chose a pattern that was basically the same stitch over and over again, so it could be done in the hour and a half that we had. It takes me 20 to 30 minutes to make this particular pattern, and I was able to make two hats while I was helping them. I really enjoy making and donating the items, but mostly it is so fun to talk story with all the kapuna at the donation meeting each month. They are a hoot! Last week I picked up Alma and Fema (since they can't drive) and when I took Fema home, she took me into her little apartment and showed me pictures of her children and grandchildren. She accidentally left her bag of yarn in my van, and I wasn't able to get it to her for two days. When I showed up with it on Monday, she was jumping up and down with excitment...literally. She had run out of yarn and that is all she does, so she was so excited to get it. It was very cute. Brooklin and Caleb have actually made hats as well, with those round knitting looms. It is very simple and hard to mess up, and it keeps them busy for quite awhile.

Well, I didn't realize this was going to be such a long post. I am still feeling pretty blah, and it is now 10:15pm, so I need to take some Nyquil and hit the rack. Oh yeah...I took my computer in today and the guy said it needed "Data Migration", "Operating System Rebuild", and "Windows System Update". I asked him, "Is there anything I did to it, or is it just the natural progression of Vista....slowly shutting down to broken"...he laughed and said "I like how you put that. It just happens and you didn't do anything." That's good. Now I just hope that the insurance will pay for it...they have paid for the last two computers we've had progress to broken.

11 April 2008

My computer is broken

My computer won't turn on. I am very sad. I was going to post the pictures of the butterflies that came out and some other stuff, but Darwin's laptop doesn't have a card reader built into it, and I don't think I have a cord or anything to get the pictures to this computer, so for now, until I can get someone to come and look at my desktop, I am gimping along on the laptop...which I am VERY grateful to have, because I have a slight addiction to email and blogging and facebook, so I am trying not to complain, but I am sad that my computer (that is only 14 months old) is already acting up. STUPID VISTA!!!!

09 April 2008

This was just really funny...

This is a contestant from Bulgaria's "American Idol" type show. The girl is singing "Ken Lee" by Mariah Carey.

08 April 2008

April Fool's Day meals

This year for April Fool's Day, I made the kids eat hamburgers and french fries for breakfast, and a chocolate and berry pie for dinner. Of course, they were kind of expecting it...since I like to play tricks on them on April first. I got all of my meal ideas on familyfun.com...I can be creative, but the internet is very helpful for this kind of stuff

These are the hamburgers we had for breakfast. They were made using vanilla wafers, red and yellow frosting, green tinted coconut, a york peppermint patty, and the sesame seeds are stuck on with a bit of carmel ice cream topping.

Isaiah with his breakfast. The french fries were made using plain pillsbury breadstick dough (the exploding can type), and then you cut each breadstick in half lengthwise, and then in half the other way, roll them in sugar and bake them. You should also grease the pan....I didn't and I had a really hard time trying to peel the "fries" off of the foil.

Brooklin making her very best disappointed face, over having to eat hamburgers for breakfast. It was completely fake though...she knew it was a trick.

London eating her little hamburger.

Caleb enjoying his hamburger.

This was called "Fauxberry pie". It was really a shepherds pie, with the potatoes being dyed with a small can of pureed beets.

Supposed to look like chocolate pie with berry cool whip topping. It was pretty good, but I had a good case of heartburn later in the evening.

Another posed face. I did not taste bad, and they all ate it without complaining.

07 April 2008

Our Banana Tree

We have a banana tree (actually five of them) in our backyard. They were planted about a year and a half ago by one of our previous gardeners....the owner pays for the gardener, not us. He planted two trees, one larger one and one smaller one. Since that time the larger one has sprouted one new banana tree out of it's base, and the smaller one has two growing out of it (the last picture is of the smaller one, and you can see one of it's babies to the right side of the picture and if you click on the picture to make it bigger you can see the other tinier one on the left side of the trunk.) Anyway, the gardener told us it took a couple of years to actually get bananas to grow, so we were never expecting any, but last Monday all the kids came screaming in from the backyard to tell us that the banana tree had grown a banana flower and you could see the tiny bananas starting to grow. After I realized that no one was bleeding or dead (they were really screaming, all of them, and it was hard to know what exactly was going on) I ran out with them to see the banana flower. It was awesome! Here are some pictures.

The first three pictures were taken on March 28th, and the second three were taken on April 4th. It is amazing to me that they are growing so rapidly! Monday we had to peek under the flower petal to see the bananas and five days later there are three sets of huge bananas and more coming!

05 April 2008

Am I slacking?

I haven't posted in a whole week...not that I don't have anything new to post...I just have been doing other things. I hope to have this back to current by sometime next week.