Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Catching Up and Big News

I have gotten some subtle and some not so subtle messages from friends and strangers that I need to get writing again. Actually, I do need to get to writing because I miss it when I don't, and I start to feel like all my words are building up inside and need an "out". So I plan on getting back to blogging more often.

First a recap, then some news.

Lillian had major surgery in the middle of May. She had a bone spur removed from her spine, her spinal cord detethered, and her split spinal cord joined into one. We were at the hospital at 6am on a Monday morning and got home on Thursday night. It was a rough time, especially the first 48 hours after surgery because she had to stay completely flat, but everything went as well as it could and she has recovered beautifully! Her appointments are mostly down to twice a year now with the spina bifida clinic and she is just thriving in every way.  Tomorrow will be six months that she has been HOME and I am just in awe of how far she has come and how much she has changed. This little girl is all heart.

We got home from the hospital and it was all the craziness that is "end of the school year". That means Regionals and State for track and soccer around here, and at least one million other events. I should probably tally up the number of concerts, programs, plays, performances, ceremonies, assemblies, promotions, graduations, etc. that we had those couple of weeks, but trust me... it was at least a million. :)  It was all fun and I couldn't be prouder of all my kids and all they accomplish, but boy was it busy! I won't post pics from everything but here are two fun ones -

Marcus in a school play

Shane's orchestra concert
 Ben got to travel with the varsity soccer team to Regionals and State and the team played well for being such a young team.  Shane ended up with a State Championship title for the Boys' team (first time in over 30 years), a State Champ title in the 4x800, and second place wins in the 800 and 1600. These two both finished their sophomore years with perfect 4.0 GPA's too. They are awesome. 

Ben and his team
Shane running fast
Josh had a great spring season of track too. He got to coach the throwers again (after having to miss last year) and he had a ton of success and a record number of kids qualify for Regionals and place at State. Yay Coach!

On May 31, Destinee and Ryan graduated high school!! My "twins". I can't even believe it. We couldn't be prouder of the two of them. They both earned scholarship money, are the nicest people you could know, and have big plans for their futures. Ryan will be serving a mission for our church in Brazil for two years and Destinee is headed to college and hopes to go into culinary. I enjoy them SO much and am going to miss them more than I can say. Yes... the two of them started talking about leaving and me cry in Maverick (local convenience store/gas station) the other night. "MOM! Are you crying? In Maverick?" Guilty.

My most wonderful parents came from NY for five days to be here for graduation! Pamma finally got to meet Lillian and Lillian got to reconnect with Papa (who came to China with us). She definitely remembered him! We had so much fun together but of course the time went way too quickly.

My graduates!! That makes four...

Lillian and Papa
me and my Daddy
Lillian and Pamma
The grads with Josh's parents who came to celebrate on graduation day!

So now it is SUMMER and things have settled down quite a bit which is nice. There is still plenty going on, but fun stuff. And a little being lazy. :)

I have been running lots still and am starting to feel really fit again. We are running Ragnar Wasatch Back as an ultra team this weekend (yay! my seventh Ragnar!!) and I am training for the Pocatello Marathon the first weekend in September (and my Jennifer and her family are coming for that weekend!!!!) and a few shorter races over the summer. Running keeps me sane and keeps me balanced and is an important part of me. I still have big goals am excited to see where this journey of hard work and determination takes me. I was just offered a spot in the Brooks Pro Program and  I could not be more excited to be running for Brooks again!!

Josh and I will be celebrating our 20th (TWENTIETH people) anniversary in just a few weeks. 20 years! It went by in the blink of an eye and yet I can't really remember what it felt like not to be with him. I have been with Josh since I was 19! I am not in this pic, but I love this photo of Josh, my Dad and Noah. My heart.

And...last but certainly not least....

I know that to most people this will seem "crazy", but in the past 20 years, it has been the "crazy" decisions Josh and I have made through prayer, love, and faith that have yielded the greatest joys and blessings.

So we introduce to you our precious Katie Mei Lin. She is 20 months old and in Xuchang, China. She has some limb differences caused by a rare genetic syndrome but she has not let that slow her down.   Her nannies describe her as smiley, especially smart,and social. We think she is perfect and "fearfully and wonderfully made" like all of us. She desperately needed a family (as do so many other children), and when Josh and I saw her, something whispered to both of our hearts "she is your daughter". 

Katie Mei Lin is almost two years younger than Lillian, and with Lillian being the youngest in our family by so much we think she is going to love having a sister close in age to grow up with.

Since the moment we said "yes" (May 27!) things have moved very quickly and many pieces have just fallen into place. We get to reuse some paperwork, approvals, etc. so the process is a bit easier this time around. We should have her home some time this late fall and will have a better idea of when in the next month or two.

For those that ask "don't you have enough kids?" (because so many do ask) I can honestly answer that I have more than enough. I have been blessed more than I deserve to be, and entrusted with more than I ever could have dreamed. But the truth is, sometimes it’s not about what we have or what we need. Yes, we have “enough”, but there are so many, many children who don’t have enough. They don’t have enough love, or parents, or family, or siblings, or medical care, or security, or permanence, or home, or opportunities, or belonging. They don’t have enough of any of the things that matter most in this world.

So do we have enough kids? Sure we do. But we also have enough of lots of other things. We have enough food. We have enough room in our home. We have enough money. We have enough love. We have enough laughter and fun. We have enough desire to parent another child. We have enough faith that it is the right thing for us and for our family.

I used to worry so much about what people thought about our family, and I have finally gotten to the point where the only ones I am trying to impress are Josh, my kids, and God. I love my family so much and each and every one of them belong here. They are my joy and my heart and I know that being mom to this amazing crew is the reason I was put on this earth.

Yes, it's a big leap of faith. But this baby girl is worth the leap.

Here she is in action... she walked for the first time ever on my birthday!!

I dare say that catches up on the most important things. I will be writing more often again... some family, some running... a little bit of everything. Thanks for following along.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Of sleep and love

Her terrified cries in the middle of the night brought me running to her bed a couple of hours earlier. I lay with my body curled around hers, both of us sleeping peacefully now amidst piles of pink princess blankets. Even deep in my own sleep I can sense when she starts to struggle. She moves a little, she whimpers, she breathes faster, and I am alert and waiting. Did she have a bad dream? Is she scared? Is she worried she is alone? Is she remembering one of too many nights spent in a hospital or orphanage? Is she hurting? I am still and wait to see if she will wake all the way or settle back to sleep.

Her tiny little arm shoots up and reaches out into the almost darkness, softly lit by the glow of a nightlight. Her eyes stay closed but she whimpers, and her hand searches until it comes to rest gently on my face. As her hand settles onto my cheek, I feel her whole body relax underneath it. Within seconds she is still, she is quiet, and her breathing settles back into that deep and peaceful rhythm of baby sleep. Whatever had scared her or worried her or bothered her had been chased away by the touch of my face. My presence...just knowing I was there beside her in the princess bed, was enough… was all she needed to feel safe and secure and loved… and to settle back into sleep.

At once my heart swells with the bond and love that we share, so powerful and strong, so undeniably mother and daughter, and at the same time my heart shatters to think of all the nights that her cries went unanswered and her little hand reached out and found nothing but darkness.
I am here sweet princess. I am here. Mama loves you. I will always be here. I whisper this into her ear every time I lay her down. Some day she will know it without question. She will have the luxury and security to take her mother's love and presence for granted, as all kids should be able to do. But for now I come running when she cries in her sleep. I make sure my face is there when she needs it and that she always finds me when her hand reaches out in the night.

Monday, April 25, 2016

7 years and running

Seven years ago today I went for my first run.

I was overly optimistic when I headed out that day, and thoroughly humbled when I got back home, two grueling miles later. It would have been quite easy to hang up my running shoes then and there and decide that I was just not cut out to be a runner. I never imagined I would come to love running and I definitely never imagined I would be any good at it. But deep down I was hooked, and I have not stopped running since. I have constantly pushed and worked to go further, faster, stronger, better.

A 5k, a 10k, a half marathon (what? that sounded CRAZY when I decided to try it), a FULL marathon (that sounded even crazier), a marathon in under four hours, a Boston Qualifying Marathon, a sub 3:30 marathon, a sub 3:20 marathon, a sub 3:15 marathon, winning a half marathon, becoming a certified running coach… I never could have imagined any of it.

The road has NOT been smooth and there have been plenty of disappointments and struggles along the way too. Injuries, over-training (fell into that trap multiple times), burn out, DNFs, disappointing race times, frustration… been there, done that.

But I know that my success days are not over and that I have more to celebrate and be proud of ahead. Lessons have been learned and that fire that was lit seven years ago is still burning strong. I have more to do, and I love doing it. And I am grateful every day that seven years ago I had the courage to take those first steps out the door and went on that first run, even though it was hard and uncomfortable and humbling.

Find something that excites you. And motivates you. And challenges you. And scares you. And humbles you. And inspires you. And makes you feel like a better version of yourself. Then dream big and work hard.

Here is a pic from after my first 5k (that's me in blue)

A race pic from 2015

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Group Shots!

Here are my favorite of the group shots from our family photo shoot. We had so much fun with these! It was an afternoon I will always remember and treasure.

The guys!!!

Yes, Nathan licked Shane's face 

The girls!!!!

My 2 Seniors!!

This might be my favorite ever….

Our many faces

We made it through another overnight trip to Salt Lake for hospital appointments for Lillian, St. Patricks Day (my favorite), my birthday, Destinee's senior prom, and Easter. And I have been getting in 70-80 mile weeks consistently and most of it has been really good. I had an 18 miler on Sunday that was the kind of run that makes you question your goals, ability, drive, and sanity, but I know that those are part of training and that the next big workout will be better! We also got a terminal diagnosis on our poor minivan, and that has been a challenge. One working vehicle is not cutting it around here.

Springs sports have started and that adds a lot of busy but fun to the schedule too. I love watching my kids chase their passions and work hard at doing what they love.

As promised, here are some of our awesome family pics that we had done in January!  Here are some of my favorite of the individual shots.














Me :)

*******To see our awesome  family Group shots - click here! :)*********