Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, Soph!

Sophi's annual request for her birthday is Dad's Apple Betty.  This is a recipe that my Grandma Green and then my mom would make.  It is a wonderfully sweet Apple Crisp.  It's full of apples and brown sugar and oatmeal and cinnamon.  What's not to love?

As usual, she wanted an Apple Betty birthday cake this year.  As usual, Dad acquiesced.  As usual, she wanted pictures taken in lots of different poses:





-Jeremy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Xander Commander!

A month or so ago I took most of the kids to see Maleficent.  (Loved it, btw!)  Xander saw a movie poster and had to pose:


In keeping with his tough guy persona, our X-man shook off a double barreled soccer injury like it was nothing:


He took a ball right to the nose!

In more upbeat soccer news, X-man scored his first soccer goal a few weeks ago.  We were so proud of him.  When the average score for them team this season was between 0 and 1, a single goal is a huge deal.  Way to go Xander Commander:)

-Dad

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pinewood Derby!

Xander and I had the opportunity to build a pinewood derby car for his race in September.  We worked hard and got a lot of help from Taylor and Parker, who found some joy in reliving the experiences they had had as younger boys.  We started with a block of wood and created a pretty darn good looking car:).  He won "Best of Show" for how it looked.  It raced well enough to place second in several heats, but he didn't place overall.  We sure had a fun time working together!!!

Jeremy





Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Beautiful Mind

Jessica is wonderful!  She has a unique perspective on most things in the world.  She is bright and talented and brings so much joy into our lives.  As I was doing some math homework with her, I was very impressed.  It's been awhile since I've helped her with math, and I can see why.  She is very good at it!  Her mind clicks quickly and grasps concepts well.  For this assignment, she was working on simple fractions with variables.  It was new to her and she needed some guidance.

We went through most of the problems.  She continued to do very well.  Then we got to a problem that showed how creative and yet unique are the processes that go on in her head.

Problem:  Windy Bay is 48 miles away.  Make up your own fraction word problem with multiplication.  Be sure to include a non-unit fraction.  (Jess had to educate me on the definition of a non-unit fraction.  Once again, I was impressed.)

I helped her create a problem:  When you are 6/8 of the way there, how many _____ (I was going to finish this with "miles have you come?"  But I wanted her to determine the units for herself.  So I verbalized it:  "When you are 6/8 of the way there, how many…."  Blank stare.  I repeated:  "When you are 6/8 of the way there, how many…."  Again, I waited for her to come up with the correct unit.  Again a blank stare.  Me again:  "When you are 6/8 of the way there, how many…."  Pause. Pause.  "Cats?"

Me:  "Huh?"

Jessica:  "Cupcakes?"

Me:  "What?"

Jessica:  "Eyeballs?"

Me:  "Huh?"

Jessica:  "What?!?  I was thinking of Halloween!"

One of many notes that make my life a rich symphony on a daily basis.

-Jer

Friday, October 10, 2014

Conversations

A dear friend of mine texted yesterday wanting to make sure we were still alive, given that there had been no new blog posts for a couple of weeks.  Thanks for the encouragement, Mike!

Conversations with kids:
Sophi:  "I'm going to be a ninja for Halloween.  I LOVE ninjas!  [pause]  What's a ninja?"
Me:  "You love ninjas, but you don't know what they are?"
Sophi, after a moment of reflection:  "I know they have light sabers!"

I walked into Parker's closet a couple of days ago and noticed something on the wall about 6 inches above the floor.  I looked more closely and it was a pin he had received for making the honor roll at school.  A pin.  Stuck into the drywall.  Six inches above the floor.
Me:  "Whose pin is this?"
Parker:  "Mine."
Me:  "What made you think it was a good idea to stick it into the wall?"
Parker:  "I KNOW it was a good idea. I made the honor roll!"

Quick thinking, bud.

-Dad

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mr. Cool

Have YOU ever eaten a sucker with an actual scorpion inside of it?  If not, then you are officially not as cool as Xander.  (I fall decidedly into the "not-as-cool-as-Xander" camp!)



-Jer

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Simple Faith

Christi and I are talking in my office and Sophi, as usual, is Christi's sidekick.  Soph follows Christi pretty much everywhere.  Out of the blue Sophi asks, "How does Jesus build us?"  This opens up a sweet, if very general, conversation about our bodies and where they come from.  I love the faith in that simple question.  Sophi knows that God created the world and that He has a love for and interest in each of us.  She know that He is aware of her body and that He oversaw the creation of it.  She accepts the challenges that come along with her particular special needs and loves the Lord for the things He has given her, rather than be frustrated at the apparent obstacles that may not have been removed from her path.

I love that girl.  She brings so much joy to our home.

-Jeremy

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Elli!

Our angel Elli turned 10 years old today!  It kind of blows my mind.  In so many ways, it seems like just yesterday we were traveling to China for the first time to meet our darling little girl.  In other ways I can't remember life before her.  She has definitely had a bigger impact on our family than any other person or event.  I've been browsing through her old blog and her new blog (which is also old), and have been filled with an overwhelming love for this beautiful angel.  She has in many ways been our biggest trial and yet has blessed us in the most sacred and wonderful ways.  I have said before that Elli is like oxygen to me-- I just have to breathe her in every day.  Her beauty and spirit is intoxicating.  She can scream up a storm, make bigger messes than you could ever imagine, scratch and bite until you want to just give up-- and yet she is perfection.  I love her with my whole heart and soul.

Happy Birthday, Elli Belly!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Hello Blogging World!

I'm back!  And in full force, being as how I just made a commitment to my sisters to blog 5 x per week for the next two months.  We decided we needed to set some goals for ourselves and I knew that blogging needed to be one of mine, being as how my kids are constantly asking when I am going to blog again!  The bad thing about starting back up on something you've neglected so long is that there is SO much to write about and it's a bit overwhelming.  I'm so excited to share about our family reunions, trip to New York, and tons of other things.  But for today, I am going to focus on our sweet Conner.

Conner is really suffering right now.  I think the newness and excitement of being in America has worn off and he is homesick.  But his biggest struggle he is facing is learning English.  Having two sisters that are fluent in Mandarin has been wonderful and beneficial in so many ways.  I would choose it again and again and it his made him feel comfortable in our family.  At the same time, I think it has really hindered his ability to learn English.  He is very close to his sisters and spends lots of time with them and with his "Mandarin speaking" iPod.   Because Conner is blind, there are many activities that just don't appeal to him-- especially when he can't communicate well.  So it's easy to let him spend hours listening to Chinese books or his iPod, even when we know that he needs to be using English.

We thought that school would be a good way for him to have to buckle down and focus on English.  And it probably is.  Which is probably why he pretty much hates it.  He goes without a fight, but when asked how his day went, it is always "no good."  (Though he does light up when he tells us about sitting by girls at lunch!  LOL)  He says that he doesn't understand anything and everyone talks so fast and that he isn't learning anything.  He desperately misses his school in China, where he was popular, excelled in everything, and got to spend a lot of time on the computer.

His school recently hired a para (aide) for him and we are hoping it will be a tremendous help.  His para served a mission in Taiwan and speaks Chinese, though Conner claims he only speaks "a little" Chinese.  (;  Honestly, it is probably just as well that he isn't as fluent as Conner wants so it can force Conner to work harder at English.  But the bottom line is, Conner is pretty depressed right now.  He loves us (there is no shortage of hugs and "I love yous" and all kinds of warmth from him) and is so happy to have a family.  Those feelings are genuine and we know that in many senses he is more happy than he has ever been.  It is almost breathtaking how much he loves us and how well he shows it.  At the same time, he is really grieving the relative ease of his former life.  I keep thinking of sending Parker or Taylor to China at their ages and expecting them to adjust and go to school and love it-- it would be pretty impossible for a long, long time.  And I just read that many times for older adoptees, the hardest time is between months 5-9.  Bummer!

The good news is that we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We remember Graci and Cali going through these same things and see how absolutely well-adjusted and happy they are now.  We know that this is mostly a language issue.  But for some reason, for Conner it seems more pronounced.  Perhaps it's because his world is already dark that adding any burdens to it just feels awful.   Many things that the girls found joy in (watching movies, playing games, doing activities, etc) don't hold the same joy for him right now.  When you are blind, so much of your life revolves around talking to people.  Lexi LOVES people and loves to talk and talk and talk.  She loves to have things described to her and loves to converse about many topics.  When your world is dark, conversation is what lights it up.  Conner is like that too-- but is so hindered by language that he is lonely and frustrated.

So… we are really praying for him to learn English.  We know that many times, it is almost like a light turns on and something clicks almost overnight.  We are praying for that to happen with him and to happen soon.  He deserves it.  After all he has suffered, he deserves to be able to carry on deep, meaningful conversations in this new life of his.  We want him to feel as comfortable and included here as he did in China.  So if you feel so inclined to join us in petitioning the Lord for this blessing, it would mean the world for us.  I don't know if my heart can stand to watch him cry anymore…

One thing that Conner has been able to find joy in is learning about Jesus Christ.  We have been taking him up to Temple Square so that he can be taught by Mandarin speaking missionaries.  He has fallen in love with Sister Jin.  She is a very special person who just radiates the love of Christ.  Watching him learn about the gospel has been a beautiful experience.  When asked a couple of weeks ago if he wanted to be baptized, he said in Chinese "Yes.  As soon as possible, please."  So this Saturday morning he will be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He will also receive the priesthood and that afternoon, will be sealed to our family in the Salt Lake Temple.  We are so excited for Conner and for the blessings we know will come from his decision.  He is such a good, good young man who desires to follow Jesus Christ and be like Him.

Conner and Sister Jin
First day of school


Playing the piano









Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Xander Takes the Challenge Like a Man!

Aunt Jenny, you have officially been called out!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ZHESSS!

One of my very favorite things right now is how Sophi expresses excitement or satisfaction in something.  For example, this morning I reminded Lex and Soph about our activity tonight:

"Do you remember what tonight is?"

Sophi:  "What?"

Me:  "Xander's pinewood derby."

Sophi:  "ZHESSS!"

She's saying the word, "Yes!" but somehow she's come up with this completely darling pronunciation.  Sometimes she even does her version of a fist pump.  So cute:)




-Jer

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sophi's first day of kindergarten

Christi was invited to introduce Sophi to her new kindergarten class.  To help the kids learn a little about life with no arms, she put together this video.  Enjoy!:)


You Knew It Would Happen Eventually...

Jessica was challenged by her cousins and by her 5th grade teacher to do the ice bucket challenge.  Much to my surprise, she willingly accepted.  So at 6:15 am this morning, she braved the bucket!  (Unfortunately, Taylor wasn't quite as brave.  When a little of the water splashed on him he tried to avoid it and covered Jessica's face right during the money shot:(.  Oh well, it's still awesome.  Way to go, Jess!!!!!!!



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Sweet Sophi was making a card for me yesterday.  As she was contemplating what to draw, she asked Christi, "What does Daddy love?"

"Basketball."  Christi replied.

"I know he loves basketball.  But what does he love more than basketball?"

Christi though for a moment then replied, "Food!"  (Thank you, sweetheart:)

Sophi responded, "I know he loves food.  But what does he love more than that?"…ponder…ponder…ponder…"I know!!!  Going to China and adopting a kid!"

I couldn't help but smile when Christi told me.  The picture below is of Sophi making a birthday card for a friend of hers.  Christi told her what letters to write, but Sophi wrote them on her own.  What a big girl!



-An overweight sports junkie with a bunch of kids:)

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Protoge

The other day I walked into my room and heard a noise coming from the closet.  I peeked in and found Jessica:




She's wearing my t-shirt, my tie, my slacks and at least 10 of my baseball caps.  I particularly like my one hiking boot and her medical boot on the other foot.  Love that girl!!!

-Daddy

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thinking of Tiffany

I had a dream last night about my little sister, Tiffany.  Tiff passed away in a car accident 10 years ago at the age of 22.  In the dream she was about 13 years old for some reason.  I don't remember the details clearly, but I do remember how I felt when I woke up.  I felt an overwhelming obligation to live well and to do good things.  It was as if she was telling me, "Your mortal life is a gift.  It is precious and it is something that I no longer have.  Don't waste away your time with silly or petty things.  Honor my memory by filling each day with the best things you can.  Be grateful for each precious moment."

As I've pondered more on this today, I've thought about how true that is.  Not only do I need to be grateful for each day here on earth, I need to be grateful for where I live.  So many in the world live in poverty and under constant threat of violence.  What a blessing to live here in the United States with the overall prosperity, safety and security we are blessed with.  What a responsibility we have to share our time, energy and resources with our brothers and sisters throughout our communities and beyond.

Thanks for the reminder, Tiff.  I love you.

-Jer

Friday, August 22, 2014

Feeling Loved

As many of you know, we have been incredibly blessed with the most wonderful laundry fairies.  This fantastic couple does so much more than wash our clothes.  They make us feel so loved in so many ways and with so many acts of kindness.

In spite of the many times they have told us they are glad to help, we sometimes feel a bit sheepish as we drop four large baskets of laundry at their home twice a week.  They always greet us with huge smiles and actually thank us for the opportunity to serve, but it truly amazes us that for over two years they have been such a HUGE help and have sacrificed so much of their time for our family.  The last couple of weeks have been super crazy and we missed two consecutive laundry dates.  Yesterday morning I took over four very full baskets.  They weren't home at the time, so as usual I left them on the front porch.  I kind of wondered if after a week without doing our laundry, maybe they realized what a lot of work it was and maybe they'd be really happy if we just quit bringing it over.  Instead, we got this text from Candice later in the day:

"I was happy to see laundry when I pulled in.  I thought we broke up and nobody told me.  Russ and I are in need of blessings.  We love you guys.  Xoxox"

What an amazing example of Christlike love and putting that love in action through service.  We love you guys, too!  Thank you so much:)

-Jer and Christi

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ingenuity

The other day I asked Xander to go downstairs and bring up the hose for the central vacuum.  It is quite a long hose, and a bit heavy.  Being the bright and creative young man he is, this is how he brought it to me:


-Dad:)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Daddy Dates

The current favorite location for daddy dates among the younger kids is Scheels.  The $1.00 ferris wheel rides are very appealing to both the kids and me:)  Over the past few weeks, Jesi, Sophi and Xander have all had daddy dates (Sophi got to tag along with X-man).  If you're not familiar with it, Scheels is a massive sporting goods store.  It is like a combination of Bass Pro Shops or Cabella's and Sports Authority.  The store in our area has a glass ceiling and a full-size ferris wheel in the middle.  The kids love to ride it!

Here are a few pics:

Looks like Mr. Lincoln couldn't hold Jesi's attention:


Dad didn't fare much better at keeping her entertained:)

Selfies on the ferris wheel:


Sophi wanted pictures of herself with all of the wildlife:



At Wendy's for dinner!

With George Washington:






Learning from President Reagan:

And my personal favorite:

-Jer

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Chilk Recipe

Jessica loves to create things.  One thing she enjoys putting together is unique flavor combinations in a new recipe!  The other day she introduced us to Chilk, so named because the ingredients include CHeese, CHocolate, Crackers and mILK.  Since it was such a delicious success, she wrote down the recipe in case others would like to try it.  Here it is for your enjoyment:



Here it is typed out:

The Chilk recipe

Directions
-get a bowl
-Let's just say you have done the ingredients already.  Then you put in bowl of ingredients in micourwave for 35 seconds then stir.  After that comes the funiest part of all.  Eating it!  Yeah.  Enjoy your dessert/meal!

Ingredeints
-4/4 cup of cheese
-choclate syurp
-1 rizles (Ritz) cracker
-A tiny bit of milk
-1/4 cup of cinnomen
-a marmellow that has been bitten 2 times

My favorite parts are the 4/4 cup of cheese and the bitten marshmallow.  Of course it's 4/4.  She filled a 1/4 cup measuring cup four times!  And how did she determine that the perfect amount of marshmallow required removing two bites before adding to the Chilk?  Serendipity at it's greatest!

We are so lucky to get such delights served to us from time to time, no?

-Jeremy