another forever…


Growth. Family. Grace. Forever.
Isn’t this the best picture ever? We had a blast at our ‘after party.’ Thanks to everyone who made the effort to attend the sealing. The children felt very special and safe and loved. And that makes me smile! We sure love our family and friends. We are so blessed to have such amazingness all around us. :)




two adoptions and seven kids later… :)


Our three foster children: Joseph, Brian, and Adriana were officially adopted into the McCracken clan on Thursday, August 11, 2011. We adopted them from Clark County Foster Care here in Las Vegas. We are so happy to have an official day to celebrate and commemorate their inclusion into our family. The three Littles have been with us for almost a year now, and we have considered them “ours” from the moment we got them. But there is something about the adoption decree that allows us, the parents, to exhale that last bit of breath. You know, the “what if” breath that we don’t even know we are holding until the judge says, “YES.”

At the courthouse…we had so many friends and family members in attendance. In addition, there were many dear workers from Clark County, whom we consider friends, who have been involved in this wonderful placement. Joseph kept wrapping my arm tighter and tighter around his tummy. Brian wouldn’t let go of Adam. And Annie, well, she’s just smiley bubbly Annie…happy to be along for the ride. :)


We’re guessing most people are not excited to see their name listed on a docket at Family Court. We got quite a few stares as we were taking pictures of it.


And look at all the amazing people who came in support of this awesomeness:


It was obviously a beautiful day. Thank you, to everyone who attended, and who continue to support our growing McFamily!

Welcome (officially), Jo Jo, Brian, and Annie:



growing up juan p.


“Mommy, can you print me off a Halloween project to work on?” “Mommy, can I have more work today?” Mommy, can I work at the table instead of watching the movie?”

Seriously? When did he start growing into his age. Juan’s growth has been so gradual that we do not always notice the great amounts of headway he is making. But today was one of those days when I stopped and noticed that his behavior was much more age appropriate. Juan is our most emotionally driven nino. He is our most affectionate. He is our most sensitive. All of these wonderful qualities have made raising him up out of make-believe dreamland into reality a most challenging project.

Hard work does not just mean physically demanding labor. Raising Juan is a true labor of love and compassion and consistency. The work is tedious and constant. The fruits of this particular labor, however, are ever so slightly starting to bud. And that is such a sweet reward.

homeschooling? yes, we are!

In 2008, the children started in public school as soon as we brought them home from Colombia. I pulled them from school shortly after Spring Break 2009 for reasons mostly having to do with bonding and attachment rather than academics. School was a real struggle that first year for all of us for SO many reasons. So I brought them home and spent some time getting to know them better. We did basic skills work…number and letter recognition, etc., but mostly just having fun. It was valuable time that I spent establishing myself as mom–and all that means–and teaching the children what their roles are in a family. I had missed so much of their little lives that I simply was not ready to give them up!

After the Holidays of 2009, we re-enrolled the children at their new school across town:

  1. I felt like we had sufficiently bonded. The children had matured a lot in that time, and their language skills were much improved. They were better able to respond to change.
  2. The house we moved into was simply too small for me to effectively school. Call me a wimp, but at least I know my limits! :) Since we were in that house for longer than anticipated we decided to send them back to public school.

Now, two years later, we have brought them home again. This time around it looks more like “school.” We have a schedule that we adhere to. I follow a specific curriculum in each subject area, and I have everything laid out in my lesson plan book. But we also have enough flexibility in the schedule to deal with life as it comes. I am schooling four days a week, with Friday being a catch-up, organize, field trip, errand day. Actually, our intention is to school year round with small breaks here and there. I am hoping that a year-round consistent schedule will help the children to continue “catching up.”

We have been schooling for a month now, and I can honestly say that I have not been overwhelmed with the task at hand. It is fun and rewarding and actually super exciting. (that probably has to do with the fact that I LOVE teaching. Perhaps having experience in lesson planning, pacing, learning styles, etc helps. I know a common complaint of homeschooling moms is that they can never seem to get to all their material. So I took that into account when I was planning out our year. That has helped a ton.

Now that the kids’ language is improved, everything else is easier. I am better able to assess where the true holes and gaps are in their learning. I am able to understand better how each child processes a new concept. And the kids are just plain ol’ excited about learning–always have been. Of course, there are other reasons we think homeschooling is for us, at least right now. Yes, I have complaints about the current condition of our school district. Yes, I am one of those weirdos that prefers having my children near me instead of away from me. Yes, we put religion and God at the forefront of our learning and our day. Yes, I believe that my children will be better prepared for life if I am the one socializing them–not 25 seven year olds. But those are all points of discussion for another post.

I am hoping to be better at taking pictures and doing updates weekly. I know the kids will have a blast looking back on these posts in 20 years with their own children. That makes me smile.

When my children leave my charge as an adult I want them to:

*be caring citizens of their community, country, and planet.

*have a deep love of God, Country, and self.

*be able to debate intelligently, to listen carefully, to speak kindly.

*know who they are, and know what they believe, even when those beliefs are not popular.

*and of course, be super smart! :)

flyin’ by

Ezzy’s eighth year is going so fast. She started attending Activity Days. One of her first activities was a Daddy Daughter Dinner. How cool is it that she has a daddy to take her?


October always bring Fall Conference to our home. It is one of only two times a year that we intentionally stay home for church–glorious internet. The kids did awesome. They sat through all four sessions of conference while coloring ties and pictures of the speakers, and writing down the main themes of each talk. What a difference a year makes when it comes to communication, right?


I started exercising again today. Yeah, it was only a mile walk. But I also went out and walked with the kids later in the day too. Maybe my motivation is slowly returning. It would be really good for it to hit around the holidays. Perhaps it will stave off extreme amounts of weight gain due to even more extreme amounts of consumed peanut brittle and sugar cookies. :)

blogging wars

Does anyone else have this problem? Adam and I can’t seem to come to an agreement on what the ‘real’ purpose of our blog is. There is so much I want to say about fertility and adoption and parenting adopted kids. I am not sure that it belongs on our fun-family-for-the-grandmas blog. That’s what Adam envisions our family blog being.

And to be fair, he does not mind that I write heavier posts, and he certainly does not dictate what I write (we all know how far that would get him). And yet, I feel myself holding back, censoring, and sometimes not writing because I feel uncomfortable.

And all this to say that I am considering reopening our adoption blog. In fact, writing this has made up my mind! :)

for better or worse


I am not really sure what to write. Unfamiliar territory. I always envisioned ONE temple sealing–my marriage to Adam. Although we talked about adoption very early on, even as we dated, I never considered the possibility of participating in another sealing.

Adam and I decided to go to the temple a little early so that we could have some quiet time to reflect before the event. Our assigned helpers were floored that we managed to arrive early with four children in tow. “Usually families are late, never early…” Okay, so we had a little incentive to arrive early. 1. our house was crawling with loved ones and 2. we knew we could drop the kids in the nursery and head to the cafeteria. Adam munched on a cinnamon roll while I blubbered on about our kids.

What did I feel? Joy. Humility. Wonder. Overwhelmed by the sea of loved ones who graced the sealing room. Grateful for the deepened sense of solidarity I felt between Adam and I.

What is the temple sealing all about? It is about binding families together forever. We do not believe in “until death do you part,” but instead in “time and all eternity.” It is about exactness, honor, and glory. Temple worship is also about conducting our lives in a way complementary to the Savior’s–trying our best to emulate his teachings, his example, and his goodness.


This picture is almost everyone that was able to attend. There are also many more loved ones and friends that were unable to enter the temple, but who were just as supportive and attentive to our family. We thank you all for your kindness and your support of our children. The ninos’ journey has only just begun, and I already see small miracles coming to pass.

I know that many adoptive families (not all) struggle with Doubting Thomases in their midst. I know that they struggle with the varying levels of support and concern from different family members and friends inside their circles of influence. I am not saying that our own people didn’t think we were crazy. Some did. Heck, we were among them at times! But we knew this adoption was meant to be from the moment we finally decided to go forward in October 2007–and we have felt nothing but joy and unconditional love since.

Go here for more sealing pictures.

and the gathering begins…

Our weekend of celebration with family and friends started Friday night with Daniel’s baptism. Due to scheduling issues, we held the baptism in our friends’pool. Well, actually in the hottub. (Thank you for heating it, Jeremy) Our guests were very very patient as we waited for my family’s plane to arrive. They were delayed in Seattle for 1.5 hours, which delayed the baptism until 8:30. Thank you, thank you, for being patient and flexible. We fed our guests some yumminess while we waited, which helped. :) Who says you can’t have dessert first?


The talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost were given in Spanish–thanks Uncles Robert and Seth. Adam baptized Danny (in Spanish), Grandpa McCracken and Uncle Mike were the baptismal witnesses, and Uncle Brian confirmed him. The grandmas said the opening and closing prayers. A special thanks to Mark Stewart for not only conducting the baptism, but also presiding over the children’s blessings on Sunday. My sweet girlfriends, Jaime Lynne, Jena, and Valerie, took care of the music, the program, and the delicious mini cheesecakes and other desserts that night. They outdid themselves as usual!

Danny was ecstatic about the evening!!!


Daniel, we are so proud of you. You are clever and warm-hearted. You are amiable and sensitive. You try your best at everything you do, and your sweet smile melts my heart. Right now, your favorite things are climbing, baseball, and scouts. Oh, and how can we forget the Wii. Thank you for giving us the chance to be your parents, and to teach you about the Savior.

easter tidings

It is the beautiful Easter season, and I feel compelled to share this beautiful video. It reminds me of our Savior’s sacrifice, and helps me remember that Jesus has been by my side through every fertility struggle, every lonely moment, and every difficult decision. I am grateful for his sacrifice in death. And I am even more grateful for the hope and glory his resurrection provides.

If there are any among you who are confused as to what we believe, or who doubt our devotion to the Lord Jesus, please take this as a small testimony of our faith, of our belief in his divinity, and of his power to heal our hearts.


In the next two posts we will be sharing our son’s (Danny) baptism, and our family trip to the temple. I am excited to share it with our family and friends who live far away. I also can’t wait to share our special weekend with those of you who we have never met, yet think of as friends, regardless of our different religious backgrounds.

a strengthening of faith

So my best friend is pregnant. And we’re not talking a little pregnant. We are talking bursting boobies, peeing constantly, going to have the little guy any day pregnant. I haven’t blogged much about my personal experience with her pregnancy because 1. this is a sacred experience for her and her husband, which I have done my best to honor, and 2. I haven’t wanted to jinx the good luck she has had with this pregnancy.

It seems like just yesterday that she called me in Bogota terrified and sobbing. I will never forget that moment. Jena and Brian were trying their best to wrangle the wild beasts (that really is what they were at the time) into bed so I could step out on the balcony and take the phone call. It was rainy and dark and cold, and I could hear the franticness in her voice. I knew those emotions and thoughts all too well, and I felt her desperation through the phone. It killed me to know that my house was just down the street, but I was thousands of miles away.

The realization of another pregnancy left us both fairly faithless that it would develop into something miraculous. I am not ashamed to admit that. When you have experienced miscarriage after miscarriage, your first thought isn’t “Woohoo, I am pregnant again.” It is, instead, “Oh crap, here we go again. Are you kidding me?” We end up checking ourselves every hour for the inevitable spots of blood. We remember the physical pain, and emotional anguish, of all the grief we have felt before.

And yet, we still try. Why do we try? Because we are believers. And because faith and hope are tightly and inseparably intertwined. So when we feel like our faith is almost depleted, those little glimmers of hope–however shiny and tiny–pick us up and push us on. Hope that something miraculous could eventually happen. Hope that tomorrow is always better than today. Hope that God knows us individually and is keenly aware of our most righteous desires. Now, eight months from that phone call, we are hanging baby clothes, having baby showers, and sprinting happily toward the baby finish line. A true miracle. A true strengthening of faith.

For me, there have been moments of jealousy, of course. There has been some sadness for our own fertility hopes unfulfilled. But those moments have been surprisingly few, actually. Part of it is due to being so busy with our little adopted sunshines. Part of it is me consciously deciding to be happy, no matter what. Part of it is the ability I have to talk to my friend…there is no pretense between us that everything is always okay!

But also, I am just different now than two years ago. I am so grateful that I purposely allowed my recent trials to refine me and to strengthen me. I can’t wait to hold Baby Lea for the first time, truly. I can’t wait to cuddle him, smother him, and spoil him. And I know that the allowance of these feelings are only due to the compassion and strength I have gained from miscarriage and adoption. Look at what I would be missing out on, if I had allowed infertility to consume me. I am so grateful that my faith continues to be strengthened by wonderful experiences such as Jaime’s pregnancy.

And it is not a moment too soon, since all of my friends have decided to be pregnant at the same time!!!!!!!!! (We are still rooting for you, sis.)