Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The kids and I headed to California unexpectedly in August for my Grandpa Pringle's funeral. He was 90 when he passed away and had even gone golfing that week! What an amazing man. It was sad to have him go but we were all happy for him to be reunited with his wives.

The trip was also a great chance to see my family again and be with a few cousins. Our last night there we went to Downtown Disney and walked around. Here are some fun shots of the kids.

Here we are on the airplane. After flying to Yellowstone and then 4 weeks later flying to CA, the kids were flying experts. However, on the way home from CA the excitement for flying had worn off which made for a tougher flight. But I did it -- alone with 3 kids and we all survived (but not without a few tears -- none of mine though which was pretty amazing I think).

Beckett's first time sitting at the bar. I thought this was sooooo cute. Beckett normally sits in a high chair but he felt ready to sit with the older girls at the bar -- he's a bit small but he LOVED it. He loves trying to keep up with his big sisters and I just think it's so cute.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Help send James and Pedro to College

Chances for Children is committed to rebuilding Haiti. We are collaborating with Institute Univers, one of the top-10 schools in Haiti. Our current goal is to raise enough money to be able to send James and Pedro (two of I.U.'s brightest) to college in the United States so that they may be able to return to their country and help make it better. Chances for Children will match the donations raised for this campaign in an effort to secure a second year's education for the students. Please spread the word!

James and Pedro recently completed college entrance exams and are ready to begin the application process for small colleges in the U.S. Chances for Children has been researching tuition, admission requirements, host families, on campus living and international programs at colleges and universities across the country. We are now ready to help these young men by providing funding for their tuition and living arrangements. This is where we need your help. We would like to ask each of you to make a minimum donation of $20.00. If every one of our fans, supporters, followers and friends made a small donation of $20, we could pay for their college tuition. Just think, if you could skip going to a movie this month, and allocate that money to help James and Pedro, you would be changing the lives of 2 deserving and ambitious young men. Now isn't that worth missing a movie for?

You can donate by sending a check to:

Chances for Children - Tuition fund
20343 North Hayden Rd Suite 105-114
Scottsdale, AZ 85255

To learn more visit: http://www.chances4children.org/c4c/

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

July Update

In July we had a Brown Family vacation -- we all met at the cabin for a week and had a great time. It was so nice to be back at the cabin and waterski and go river rafting and especially to be with family. It's been a great summer for our kids to get to know their cousins.

This month was also Valencia's 6th birthday (and really her first birthday ever!). I was very excited to make it a special day for her. I made a princess doll cake where the cake is the dress. When she woke up and saw it that morning she just stared at it with her mouth open.

Then we did presents (everyone in our family -- including the parents, are so excited about their birthday so we always end up opening presents first thing in the morning).

Valencia was so excited about all of her presents. She let out a gasp with everyone she opened. It was really cute to watch. After presents the girls got ready for their last day of sports camp.

Of the 3 kids, Beckett was the most excited about sports camp (I had to stay for awhile every morning just to let him run around the gym chasing balls). The girls were pretty nervous to go and have mom leave them, and Tallie was especially nervous about playing a game where kids throw balls at each other (dodgeball) - she hid behind a teacher during that game while Valencia ran around and did cartwheels. But the got to go swimming every day which they loved and every afternoon when I came to pick them up they were having a great time and didn't want to leave.

After sports camp we headed to Chuck-E-Cheese and had a great time. Tallie's requesting the same cake and a day at Chuck-E-Cheese for her birthday :) Then in the evening we had friends over for cake and icecream. I think she had a great first birthday. Doesn't Tallie look ready for sports camp in her pink dress??

The following week we did gymnastics camp and that was more their thing. They weren't nervous at all to go and LOVED it. Our local gym has an amazing gymnastics facility that is a lot of fun. Beckett was pretty bummed that he couldn't go in and play too.

The girls got big wheels this summer. They are both nervous about riding a bike - so we thought this would be a good to get them started. They look pretty cute riding around on these, in fact, everywhere we go we are stared at. And just the other night Jared and I wanted to play tennis so we took the bigwheels and a little bike for Beckett and let the kids ride around the courts while we played. It was pure chaos. At one point Jared was holding Beckett trying to run and hit the ball, while the girls were on my side with rackets swinging wild-ly at every ball that came their way and I was just laughing so hard I couldn't even play. I'm sure everyone else there playing (without their kids!) thought we were crazy.
And finally, the primary had a pioneer activity at the church. Last year around that time I needed a sewing project so I made Tallie a little pioneer outfit for the activity. Well... this year I wasn't in need of a sewing project, but I have 2 very competitive girls, so I was frantically sewing Saturday morning 30 minutes before the activity to be a good mom and send Valencia off with a pioneer bonnet. This was without a pattern - so for those of you that saw it in person that should explain things. But she was happy with it and that's all that matters :)

In this video you'll see Tallie doing somersaults, but look at the line in the back and you'll see what I mean when I say Valencia always has the wiggles :)

And finally, here's a cute shot of my kids at the zoo and in their fancy church clothes.

Other than his sore red nose he looks adorable. I love seeing him in this little outfit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

June Update

It's time for me to update the blog. We've had such a busy summer and I'm constantly thinking to myself "I should put that on the blog" or "that was funny -- I need to write about it on the blog", but it just doesn't happen. So I'm now going to do my best to catch up with our summer activities.

I had a monumental adoption moment a couple weeks ago. For the first time I felt like Valencia's mom and not just her caregiver. I read a lot of articles about adoption before Valencia came home to prepare us for the experience and all of them dealt with the child and how to talk to them about adoption or how to respond to others that say things to you in public in front of your child or behavioral things to expect from your child, etc. But I never read anything about how we would feel as parents towards an older adopted child and how you don't or may not automatically bond with them. I think that surprised both me and Jared and has been challenging for us. We're working with a lot of emotional and behavioral issues and I think generally I'm on edge wondering what she's going to do next. She's definitely come a long way and made HUGE improvements emotionally since she came home - she really has and when I think back to our first two weeks it's amazing to see how different things are now. And when she began to be able to communicate with us it helped bond with her because we got to see more of her personality and just hear her talk about the cute and funny things that kids talk about. But I still just felt like a caregiver. But 2 weeks ago I had two days in a row where I felt like her mom and it was SUCH a great feeling. I don't even know what was different but it was great to feel that way and I know that things will continue in that direction. And just last Thursday I felt that way again. This time there was something different. The girls started swimming lessons and swimming is something that Valencia LOVES. She is a natural and has no fear and at her lesson she did such a great job listening to the teacher and following the instructions (which is something she still struggles with). She was honestly the best one in the class and I sat watching feeling like a proud mom. It was sooooo nice to be in public and see her behave so well and get to enjoy her. I usually feel a little uptight when I'm in public with her because she's typically loud or dancing all over the place bumping into people or knocking things over or mad about something and refusing to walk with me, etc. So I can't tell you how nice it was to find something that she loves doing and wants to do well and behave good and follow instructions and I can be there with her and enjoy her. Here are some pics

June -- Trip to Outer Banks, North Carolina

We had a Layton family trip this summer in June and had a great time. We stayed in a beach house in North Carolina and had so much fun going to the beach every day and playing with the cousins.

We didn't start the trip off great -- about 2 miles from arriving to the beach house we got in an accident. No one was hurt and since we were so close we were able to have our car towed to the beach house where we unloaded it. And luckily, we didn't really need a car that week because the beach was so close. We just had to rent one to get home.

I LOVE how close my girls are!!

We're on the left -- I'm holding Tallie and Jared is holding Beckett and Valencia is between us in the yellow shirt.See the crab in his hand -- they were all over the beach!