December 31, 2012

Merry and Bright

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Ben put together a little clip of our Christmas eve and morning with my family in tow. When I saw it I was taken by how magical it all seemed. In the original clips you can hear all the nuances of adult conversation in the background and it was a little chaotic. Once he put it to music it really struck me that the children are the ones making it magical. They have such a sweetness about them that, despite our sometimes frivolous adult worries, shines brightly in their eyes and excited little voices. At the beginning of the clip is a sound bite of Isla singing her version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" amid all the hustle and bustle. It makes my heart happy to hear her, walking around, oblivious, singing to her hearts content about Santa Claus. As we head into this new year, I hope your days are also merry and bright and filled with some small moments of magic and wonder. 

video




November 17, 2012

November 1, 2012

Dreaming

When I was a teenager a young, newlywed couple moved into our neighborhood. They were handsome and cute together and lived in a darling little starter home. That was when I first met Danielle Vaughn. She was so incredibly gifted in every way. She was musical and had short, platinum blonde hair to boot. I always was drawn to people with good hair. I began piano lessons soon after we met and even though I was still in high school I felt like she was a close friend and confidante. All these years later she is still my mentor and when I grow up I want to be just like her.  
A few months ago she invited me to come to Seattle to style a photo shoot for her newly released album, Dreams We Dream. People, you NEED this album in your collection. This album is a cup of hot tea on a cold November day. And while you're there you should also pick up a copy of Noel for Christmas, a warm blanket to go with that cup of tea. 
I had a seriously good time doing this shoot and I am so honored I got to be a part of the creative process. 

Here are a few behind the scenes pics:



Photo shoots are harder than they look! It was a long day, but I think the album cover turned out perfectly.
If you'd like to see Danielle perform locally, she will be here December 6th with her Jazz Trio at Slackwater Pub in Ogden. Get a  sitter because there will be no shortage of romance. (Wink wink) 

Thanks Danielle!


June 4, 2012

To Bee or Not To Bee...

The month of May. Let's just say that it ended so much better than it began. Here it is in pictures:

Memorial Day at the air show. It was so cold! It took us half an hour to run back to the car in the downpour, but it was a riot. Isla's Aunt April and I were giggling our heads off by the time we made it, drenched. Isla was safe and sound in her buggy. 







Fishing!! Isla and Olive went to the trout farm and caught their dinners. Isla insisted they hold hands on the way in. Sweet little loves.  














The first catch was so exciting! It is great to watch these experiences through your child's eyes. Isla was so brave and even "touched" the fish once it was swimming around in the bucket. And by "touched" I mean harassed the crap out of it while it swam in circles. 



Daddy caught the next one!




Okay. I know this is weird, but I love honey bees! I always have, even as a little girl I wasn't afraid of them. I remember there was one particular bush that was always full of bees along our route to school and I used to make Kit stop with me every morning so I could "pet" the bees. See, I told you. Weird. Anyway, one of our neighbors is an expert bee keeper and he agreed to show me the ropes, you know, just in case I want to take my love of honey bees to the next level. Luckily, Ben is just as big of a freak as I am and willing to humor me.   








See this lovely? She is the Queen Bee. You can tell by the size of her ba-donka-donk. You go girl.


Isla stayed busy during the bee keeping lesson by befriending our  neighbor's cute lop eared bunny rabbit. She was feeding him by hand! Good thing he was a gentle soul. 






May 22, 2012

Turning 2

Look at my baby girl! Isn't she beautiful? She's not so much a baby anymore. Sigh. Growing up is hard on mom and dad. 



Here is Isla's 2nd Birthday party in pictures. It turned out to be a magical night. We had grilled footlong hotdogs with mustard and sauerkraut or chili and cheese. Or both. And for the truly adventurous (or Columbian) BBQ sauce, jalepeno, and pineapple, oh my! There were buckets of bubble wands, water guns, sidewalk chalk, treats, and sparklers. And then there was the cake, made by yours truly and strawberry lemonade flavored. It was a labor of love and soooo delicious if I do say so myself.  
















Happy Birthday Isla!

May 12, 2012

Cassie

Today is Birthmother's Day! I felt like today needed a special post. We want people to know that our most recent experiences do not reflect upon Birthmothers as a whole. In fact, the woman that hurt us never really earned that title. I tried to write a post that explained how I felt, but I just couldn't get it quite right. I realized that the only way for you to truly see how amazing Birthmoms are, is for you to hear from one directly. Cassie was gracious (and nervous!) to abide and I think her words are beautiful and perfect for today. I've had people ask me some strange and assuming questions about our relationship and I think after reading this you'll see why we choose open adoption. We love her.   








Being a Birthmom

Hi, I'm Cassie. I am Isla's birthmom. Kindle asked me to write a little blog post on what being a birthmom means to me. At first, I told her no way. Then I started thinking about what it feels like to be Isla's birthmom. First of all, I love LOVE being Isla's birthmom. She is the sweetest, most amazing little angel. I also love Isla's birth story and knowing that I had a part in delivering her to Ben and Kindle. What a miracle! We still laugh about the seemingly random sequence of events that brought us together. My favorite part about that is knowing none of it was random at all. Becoming Isla's birthmom has been my greatest blessing. It's also something I'm really proud of. For me, being a birthmom has changed my life in every way possible. Isla is most definitely on my mind every day. There are times when I literally find myself lost in thoughts of her. Some days are hard, most are great. Becoming a birthmom wasn't something I planned.  Would I take it back? Not for anything in the world. I love Ben and Kindle with all of my heart. I loved them before I met them. They have also helped me through the hardest time of my life. While I knew I was going to place Isla, I still dealt with grief. And oh man, was it ugly. Ben and Kindle saw the ugly times and still supported and loved me. Even in my grief and hard days, I knew Isla was where she is supposed to be. As a birthmom, I have met a lot of other birthmoms. Women of all ages, from all backgrounds that have also been a part of something amazing. Birthmoms are incredible. Hands down. I love being a part of this community and making it public that birthmoms are normal women. The stigma associated with birthmom isn't flattering. Nor is it the norm. We are typically over 20, educated, and drug free. We have jobs and supportive families. We place for the benefit of our babies. Not because we are unable to raise a child. In a perfect world, everyone would know that. Until then, I am going to advocate adoption (for Kindle!!!!) and I am going to support every birthmom. 
I love Isla with every bone in my body. I would do anything in the world for her. I love her face. I love her laugh and I looooove that she calls me Cass. I am so happy to be a part of her life. To watch her grow and learn and celebrate her life. She is a part of my life that I cherish. As is every memory of her. Love you Isla G. Forever and ever. Ben and Kindle, I love you both. Thank you for the prayers and constant blessings. 

A tribute to Kindle for Mother's Day. 
Dear Kindle, 
Thank you for your support. Thank you for being the most amazing mommy to Isla and teaching her everything she knows (shes a super kid!). Thank you for your random wolf emails, yummy dinners, perfect haircuts, text messages at the absolute right time, funny stories, and being my friend. Thank you for marrying Ben. He is the greatest daddy to little Isla G. I am sorry for your losses. I wish I could do anything to fix it. Again, thank you. You have been more generous and open than I ever would have imagined. (Or wanted? ha!) You have included me in so much. My gratitude can never be expressed in words. Kindle, I think you are the greatest. I am so excited for the blessings headed your way. Stay strong sister! Happy Mother's Day!! 

Thank you Cassie! 

May 8, 2012

A Study in Loss and Hope

Where to begin? I'm not sure. It all started with an email last November. Actually, it all started 7 years ago with the first of 6 miscarriages and subsequent discovery of complicated infertility. But that's a different story for another time. So I'll start with the most recent of defeats. Back to that email from last November. We had been published on the LDS Family Services website for almost 7 months when the email suddenly popped up in my inbox with the appealing name, Amelia, highlighted next to the subject line that unassumingly said, "Hello". She asked if we were still interested in adopting. She had browsed our profile and she knew with all her heart we were the family for her baby boy due in December, two days before Christmas. Of course, we were elated. I just KNEW we were having a boy and this confirmed I'd been right all along. Time passed, we talked often, and we loved Amelia from the start. But then, suddenly, the wind changed and those warm hopes of a new baby turned chilly. Overnight she became distant and easily upset and we felt the looming birth of her/our son begin to take its emotional toll. She stopped emailing us. We ached for contact from her, anything, just something to let us know if we had any hope of bringing this baby home. We prayed and I cried. A lot. A week before Christmas she emailed and told us she was still considering placing with us. Two days before Christmas she told us that she had actually had the baby back in November. It was just easier to let us keep on believing than to be honest. Right after Thanksgiving, and in a panic, she had quickly found another family that day and placed with them. Their moment of happiness at the sudden gain of a son twisted into our moment of despair and it knocked the breath out of me. I felt like they had kidnapped him from my dreams and they probably don't even know we exist. And then I began to wonder if Amelia even existed. She came in and out of our lives so quickly with lovely promises of a new baby and an almost instant friendship. And yet, we had no concrete evidence of her pregnancy other than the cute picture of a girl in college with curly dark hair and a big, bright smile that made us feel we could trust her. And we did trust her. That is what made it all so particularly crushing. Despite the overwhelming disappointment and all the what ifs, there was only one answer. We had to move on. Although a little bruised and fearing to ever trust again, we forgave her with our whole, horribly broken hearts and started over. 


Back to the waiting game. Nervous, longing, apprehensive freaking waiting game. I had this nagging feeling that our baby was coming to us with the help of an agency that solely matches birthmoms with adoptive parents. We couldn't afford them, but the feeling persisted. I figured if it was meant to be the money would be nothing in comparison and we had to go forward in faith. Sure enough, with a little help from our friends, we began to see some serious miracles and in 3 months time we had raised enough money to submit our names with the agency and get matched with a birthmom. One week later we sat on our bed nervously talking with a girl in Charlotte, North Carolina named Samantha. She was cheerful and had a charming little lilt in the way she spoke that reminded me of the first time I'd had grits and drank lemonade with whipped cream from a gallon jar. We took an instant liking to each other even though our lives were worlds apart. We talked often and she chose us to be the parents of her baby girl due May 23rd. Almost exactly 2 years to the day that Isla was born. Ben said it would be awfully convenient given we had all the girl clothes we would need and in the same season too. I agreed. The weeks passed and I developed a ball of nervous butterflies in the pit of my stomach. There was so much to do. I had to get the house cleaned and organized and make freezer meals and generally prepare for the chaos and exhaustion that comes with a 2 year old and a new born baby at home. Then there was the trip that had to be planned at a moments notice whenever Samantha went into labor. Oh. My. Gosh. The trip. That ball of nervous butterflies began to spread and there were some days I thought I might have a heart attack. The sooner that due date crept up the more my breathing became a conscious effort. Any day that call would come and we would jet out the door and be on our way to picking up our baby girl. A call came. It was from our lawyer in North Carolina. The details are still a little bit hard for me to see clearly and really, in retrospect, they don't matter anyway. The shock of it all and the heavy dose of denial that followed felt like I'd been hit in the chest with a base ball bat. There were so many different stories told to different people that it's impossible for me to even speculate as to what the truth is. The only real truth is that she lied. She never intended to place her baby for adoption, she just needed rent money. It's simple really. And let's be brutally honest, we are pretty easy targets. Vulnerable, trusting, hopelessly longing for a baby, easy targets. She swiftly tore through our lives, ripped the roof clean off our house, and left us shivering in the corner. Devastated.  


The good thing about not having a roof is that you can see straight up. So, now what? Sit in bed and feel really bad for myself. Been there. Cry dramatically every time I get in the shower. Done that. Eat an exorbitant amount of chocolate. Yep. This is basically part of my daily ritual. But somewhere in the deepest part of me, I have to believe that this is not acceptable. This is not the end. This is not it. I refuse to let this be the end of the story. I know God loves me, I know it in my soul. So...now what? And then I read this. And it changed my life. And a tiny little flicker of hope lit up my heart when I read this apostolic bit of encouragement:



Don’t give up.  Don’t you quit.  You keep walking.  You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead... You keep your chin up.  It will be all right in the end.  Trust God and believe in good things to come.
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland




I know God lives and loves me. I know this is not the end of the story, not even close. I know His heart is broken for me too. I testify of hope. Of healing. And this long winded explanation is hopefully the precursor to a happier story in which our family grows once more. Every single bit of it will be by His hand. Keep watching. You are about to see a miracle.