Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Taylor!

Can't believe our firstborn is 15 years old!  He is anxious to get his driver's permit.  He'll be in high school this year.  He continues to amaze his parents with the joy he brings to our family.  We love you, Taylor.  Happy Birthday!  (OK, so this would have been better if I'd posted it on July 4th, but it can get kind of crazy around here:)


Jer

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Timing

We seem to have a knack for lousy timing.  Christi developed vertigo while I was still in Beijing on the way home from our trip to get Cali.  Thinking it might be a stroke, she rode in an ambulance to the emergency room. Graci got the flu, had a precipitous drop in blood pressure and had to be life flighted while I was in Colorado for a sales meeting.  Two weeks ago, Jesi broke her foot while Taylor, Parker and I were in the Lone Peak Wilderness with a minimum two-hour backpack trek out.  

Tonight is the last night of Christi's trip to New York.  She is on a plane home as I type.  The kids and I had just had a family council and planned the rest of the evening.  It would consist of trying to put the house back together before mom got home, me making a yummy dinner (egg mcmuffins!) and some relaxation with a Cosby show to end the evening. We closed with a prayer, went to our respective assignments and promptly heard a scream of pain from Xander.  It seems a chair jumped out and mugged him.  So here we are in the emergency room.  We haven't seen the doctor yet, but I'm guessing 3-5 stitches will be in order.

What is it with us and emergency room trips when only one parent is present?

Jer

Finally!

Guys generally lie about their height.  Measured with no shoes on, I'm 6' 1.25".  I can't tell you how many times some guy has told me he's 6' 2" while I'm looking down at least three inches to make eye contact.  I guess there's some leeway when you consider how much difference shoes can make.  I generally say I'm 6' 2" as well, which I am on a basketball court.  Regardless of how you measure, Taylor recently hit a milestone he has been pining after for a long time.  He is now taller than me:)  I must admit it's strange having to look up when I'm talking to him.  Way to go T!  I look forward to tracking your blocked shots next season!!!

-Dad



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Oh, Elli...

Conner's piano teacher in China is also a world-class performer.  This evening he is performing at a piano festival in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  With such a rare opportunity to visit with someone from his home town, we decided Conner should attend the concert.  Taking Graci along as an interpreter, Christi took flew out with Conner on Tuesday.  Christi's sister, Leslie, and sister-in-law, Megan, are also with them.  They figured if they were going anyway, they might as well go a few days early and stay in New York:)  So they are there, and I am here, parenting eight kids on my own.  They left Tuesday afternoon and will get back tomorrow night.  Fun trip!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Elli has definitely kept things interesting!  I was actually at scout camp with Parker on Monday and Tuesday, and didn't get back until 1:00 AM Wednesday morning.  Christi was already gone and her parents were staying overnight to watch the other kids until I returned home.  About 8:10 on Wednesday morning, Sophi woke me up.  I looked at the clock and suddenly realized that Elli's school bus would be arriving at 8:15.  Absolutely zero chance of getting her ready in time.  So I took the walk of shame down the driveway and told the driver that as a result of mom being out of town, the next five days would be absolute chaos and would she please forgive me for not having Elli ready.  She did.

I got Elli ready for school, which has a significantly different result from when Christi gets Elli ready for school.  The primary difference is in the hairdo.  I got here there an hour late for a three-hour summer school session, but it really is good for her to get the interaction with other people.  Thursday morning, you can bet I had her ready on time!

Elli loves to play the piano.  When we first moved in, we purchased a used electric keyboard and put it in her room.  It took her less than a week to completely destroy it.  She pulled it over, we set it back up. She knocked it sideways, we put it back.  She used it to create deep new designs in the drywall and we finally removed it.  It's completely hashed.  We then let her play the piano we had in the exercise room. (I know…exercise room?  We're still settling in, OK?)  I put a lock on the door, and we now had two rooms that would work to keep her in: her bedroom and the piano/exercise room.  Only problem?  The exercise room is right next to Taylor's and Parker's room and it started to drive them crazy having Elli pound away at the piano.  So we decided we would move the piano to the play room.  But there's no door on the play room, and letting Elli play on the piano there would be a recipe for disaster.  What to do?

Aha!  Let's put an actual piano in Elli's room.  A keyboard is no match for her destructive powers, but a solid piano would resist her wiles.  We found an old studio piano for only $300!  It actually played well, but it was pretty beat up and needed a couple of hours of work before it would be ready for Elli.  One of the key things it needed was a mechanism to lock it at night so Elli can't start playing when everyone's asleep.  I had the piano delivered on Thursday afternoon.  I didn't have time to do all of the work on it before she went to bed, so I put on a simple latch to keep it shut.  It was one of those spring-loaded eye and hook systems.  I put one on both side of the key cover and thought it would foil Elli's attempts to get it open.  Boy was I wrong!  I made the mistake of letting her play it for a few minutes, thus alerting her to the fact that there was a piano in her room.  She enjoyed it, and even posed for a picture:



When I locked it and tried to tuck her in for the night, she went absolutely bonkers.  She was SO mad that she couldn't get into the piano keys.  She cried and raged and cried and raged.  Finally she settled down and went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I walked out of my room and into the kitchen.  Parker asked, "Did you hear Elli playing the piano this morning?"  Uh-oh!  I hurried down to her room and found this:


Like I said, it needed some work before Elli had unrestricted access to it.  In addition to pulling the keys out of place, she had also pulled off the little felt circles that go underneath each key and chewed on each, dusty, nasty one.  One of many reasons for the title of this post!

Parker jumped in and volunteered to fix it for me.  It really didn't take too long:


Once the keys were back in place, I put Elli in the exercise room with some toys so I could finish the work on the piano.  In conjunction with the piano in her room, we moved the other piano out of the exercise room.  Once again, Elli was raging mad to go into the room where she was used to a piano and not find one there. Poor girl.  I spent a couple of hours fixing it up the new one and putting on a better locking system.  when I went back to check on Elle, she had torn apart much of the SofTiles floor:


With the piano fixed, Elli was VERY excited to get back in her room and play.  She loves having it in there.  I let her go in her room and she made a beeline for the old ivories.  I left her in there for awhile, forgetting a very important rule:  Never leave Elli alone if she's dressed in clothes she can remove!  Sure enough, when I returned, she had removed all of her clothing including her diaper.  Let's just say I had a nice mess to clean up.  I carried her upstairs to the girls' bathroom for a bath.  Elli usually loves bathing, and this was no exception.  Early on in our tenure in this home, Elli took apart the drain plug in that bathtub.  At first she would unscrew one particular part of it and put it in her mouth during every bath.  (This would also drain the tub on her, but she never seemed to figure out the correlation.)  Finally, she lost the part, and the plug no longer worked correctly.  If you set it gently in the right place, it would do a reasonable job of keeping the water in, but with Elli in the tub, it would not stay there very long.

So I put her in the bath and started it.  While it was filling I unloaded a bunch of groceries I had just purchased.  I went back in to check, and the water was above her belly button.  She generally enjoys soaking in the tub for awhile, so I turned off the water and went down to clean up her room.  A few minutes later I hear Sophi start yelling for me.  "Dad?"  "DAD?"  DAAAAAAAAD!!!???!!!???!!!"  This is not an uncommon experience, as once she realizes she doesn't know exactly where a parent is, Sophi tends to freak out.  I called back, "I'm in Elli's room."  I heard her make her way down the stairs and through the hallway.  She walked in:  "Elli's taking a bath with no water!"

So I interrupted my delightful cleaning project in Elli's room and took on the delightful task of bathing her.  In the end everything got cleaned up, Elli was wearing a onesie that discourages disrobing and I got dinner on the table.  Is it bad that it was almost 8pm before I fed my kids?

Anyway, with Elli around, there is always something to do.  Boredom is not a problem for the parents of kids with special needs!

-Jer

A few bonus pics of Elli:

-At church, trying to drink like Soph?

-Chillin' in the pool:

Dressed up for her school play:
 

An alternative to bathing?

Monday, July 7, 2014

High Adventure

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go with Taylor on a high adventure trip with the Boy Scouts.  We attended the Teton High Adventure Base just outside of Jackson, Wyoming.  What a blast!    (It's no wonder they didn't have a problem getting adults to volunteer for this one.  We had 7 scouts and 6 adults!)  It was a three night trip from June 18-June 21.  The weather in Wyoming is rather unpredictable in June, and on the way up we thought we were really in for it.  We drove through a massive snow storm as we traveled there.  We were all a bit nervous as we thought of the upcoming whitewater rafting trip:)  As it turned out, the weather warmed up quickly and we had a ball.

The first day we participated in a COPE course.  It was a challenging and fun adventure.  The first step was to climb the "giant's ladder."  This was a a series of six 'rungs', each about 5 feet above the one below.  The rungs were not held steady to the ground, but instead hung by ropes from a support above. This made them swing wildly as you climbed.  Of course we were harnessed in and supported by belay from below, but is was still a major challenge.  Taylor got up pretty quickly.  I huffed and puffed my way through, but finally reached the top.  At the top we were 35 feet above the ground.  We then went through multiple obstacles at this high elevation.  The final reward was a trip down a zip line.  Lots of fun.  I'm proud to say that though I barely made it, I made it!  Here's a picture and video of Taylor:






That afternoon we did downhill mountain biking.  This was the highlight of the trip.  We rented REALLY awesome and REALLY, REALLY expensive mountain bikes.  We took the ski lift up and then rode down.  We had so much fun!  We spent most of the time on a run with a lot of jumps.  These were tabletop jumps with a long flat surface in between the up ramp and the down ramp.  After the first few runs, both of us started catching air on most of the jumps.  I haven't had so much fun on a bike since I was a teenager.  Taylor was pretty aggressive.  He took one big fall which resulted in several scrapes, but he got right back on and went to town.  He started getting a lot of air.  Great memories!
Here we are in our gear:




The next day we took a beautiful hike around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.  It was eight miles round trip and we kept up a pretty good pace.  In the end we were rewarded with a magnificent waterfall and a view over the lake at Inspiration Point:


That afternoon we went whitewater rafting.  Fun trip, but a bit too cold to fully enjoy it.  The weather was ok, but the water in the Snake River was brutal.  The last morning we went on a more enjoyable float down a different section of the Snake.  Again we went through Grand Teton and had beautiful views of the Teton Range.  What a rugged and picturesque section of the rockies.



We had a great trip.  I'm grateful that my son is still willing to let me come along!  We were all pretty exhausted on the way home:)





-Jer

Friday, July 4, 2014

Mummies

I was having one of those "uh-huh" conversations with Sophi.  You know the ones.  Your young child is prattling on about this, that and the other and you keep nodding your head and saying "uh-huh" while diligently trying to focus on whatever task you were attempting to complete when she came in and destroyed any chance of success.  I kept nodding and saying "uh-huh" until this came out of her mouth:  "…and I know what mummies are.  Mummies come back alive!" Suddenly my attention was focused.

"What did you say?"

"I know what mummies are.  Mummies come back alive!"

"Mummies come back alive?"

"Uh-huh."  (I suppose I had that one coming:)

"Who taught you about mummies?"

"Scooby Doo!"

Guess we need to get the girl a better tutor!!!

-Jer

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Flaming Gorge

A couple of weeks ago I went on an overnight work trip to call on customers in Vernal, Utah.  Since the kids were out of school I took Taylor, Parker, Xander and Jesi with me.  We did the usual fun things the first day: dinner at a restaurant, swimming in the hotel pool, a movie on Netflix.  (The boys and I watched "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a classic western with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.  Jesi didn't want to watch a black and white show, so she watched something more Disneyish.)  The next day after I had made my calls, we decided to take a longer route home and visit Flaming Gorge dam.  Just as we were starting our tour, a flash of lightning in the distance required that the tour be postponed an hour. We watched a movie about the building of the dam while we waited.  It was a fun trip with the kids, and well worth the extra time.

Since they were dealing with spring runoff, the water was being let through at full capacity, over 8000 cubic feet per second.  Normally it comes through at 800 cubic feet per second.  The water flow was powerful and magnificent.  It almost felt like a bomb was going off as it hit the river below the dam.  Extraordinary experience.  We all enjoyed it!  (I'm not sure if Jesi is overwhelmed with the power of the water or just disgusted with her brothers, but it sure makes for a couple of funny pictures!)

-Jer




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A few pictures

Xander borrowed Cali's dress the other day.  Quite the cutie!


His sultry look:


I took most of the kids to see Maleficent recently (we all loved it!).  At the theater we met a superhero:


Xander jumped in as soon as he saw the cardboard cutout.  Graci took quite a bit of convincing;)


Taylor, Parker, Xander and I built a fire pit in our backyard on Saturday.  We had a campfire and s'mores that night.  So much fun!!!



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

No Harm, No Foul?

Christi, Parker, Taylor and I are in my office planning out the next few days.  Jesi walks in, comes around my desk, and leans on the arm of my office chair.  (As I mentioned a few posts ago, my kids love to share my personal space with me.  Aren't I lucky?:)  She looks across me and directly at Christi.  We were all in a matter-of-fact kind of organizational mode, and my sweet wife maintained that demeanor as she addressed Jess:  "Go wash your glasses.  They're so dirty I can't stand to look at you."  Realizing how harsh that might have sounded, she quickly tacked on a very sincere addendum:  "I mean, it makes me so sad to think of you having to look through them that way!"

Jesi started to walk out of the office and in her hilariously serious 10-year-old way remarked, "Well.  That was a little offensive."

We all busted up laughing, and Jesi enjoyed having been the cause of our smiles.

-Jer

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Learning about Jesus

Each Sunday we go to church as a family.  We learn about Jesus and His atonement.  We learn about His commandments and how following them can bring us peace.  We go to a total of three hours of meetings.  For about two thirds of the time we are broken up by age group, so kids are in classes that are designed to help keep them engaged.  Each time we bring home a new child, there is an adjustment period as they discover that Christ's gospel and attending church are a big part of our lives.  Poor Conner has had a tough time sitting through three hours of church during which he not only endures instruction in a language he can't understand, but also sits there patiently in complete darkness, not even able to see his surroundings.  We've actually been bringing him home early most Sundays because of how difficult it is for him.

In order to help him understand more about what we're doing and why we're doing it, we've enlisted the help of the local missionaries.  Yes, those boys in white shirts and name tags have a presence even here in Utah, the home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But the missionaries in our town don't speak Chinese, so we've been able to take Conner to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to meet with a sweet, Mandarin speaking missionary there.  For those of you who don't know, Temple Square is a popular tourist destination, with visitors from all over the world.  To help accommodate those visitors, missionaries are called from many countries to serve for 18 months at Temple Square.  Together, these missionaries (all female) speak just about any language you can think of.  

Last Sunday we took Conner to Salt Lake and met with Sister Jin, a missionary from China who would be teaching him about Jesus.  There are not many members of the Latter-day Saint church in mainland China, so most of the Mandarin-speaking sisters on temple square are from Taiwan or Singapore.  What a pleasant surprise for all of us when we found out that Sister Jin is from mainland China.  What an even greater shock when we found the she is from Conner's hometown of Wuhan and that they were able to speak the same local dialect and talk about some familiar places in that city.  We felt it was truly a tender mercy from our Father in Heaven as Conner was able to speak with someone to whom he could relate so well.

We stayed at Temple Square for about 90 minutes.  Conner learned many things about the Savior and about Father in Heaven and His plan for us.  He learned more about why we pray and how to pray and has been saying his own prayers regularly for the last week.  He is such a sweet boy.  As we've talked to him over the past couple of months, we have repeatedly told him that Jesus Christ let us know it was right for him to come to our family and be adopted.  Conner loves Jesus!  We look forward to more meetings with the missionaries and hope that Conner will decide to be baptized.

Located in one of the visitor's centers at Temple Square is a beautiful statue of Christ that we all took a picture in front of.  Unfortunately, the nice young kid we asked to snap the photo turned out to be a less-than-stellar photographer.  But it's better than nothing:)

-Jer


Friday, June 27, 2014

Mercenary

I'm sitting at my desk doing some paperwork.  It's a lazy summer morning for the rest of the family…with two exceptions.  Lexi and Sophi always seem to wake up early.  We always get an early morning visit from Soph, but she is often willing to go play with Lexi while the rest of us try to snooze a little longer.  I got up and snuck into my office.  I had to sneak because as soon as the little ones know I'm in here, they attack.  Sophi, Lexi and Conner love to enter my "personal space" zone.  They want to cuddle up to me or give me a hug or hold my hand.  Aren't I lucky to have such loving kids?  As they approach, they always seem to find a way to disrupt this pile of papers or that computer cord or…you get the idea.

Anyway, I was safely sequestered in a satisfying solitude when in marched Soph!  I'm not sure how she knew I was in here.  It must be some kind of sick sense or something.  (Oops!  Sixth sense:)  She opened the door with her chin and began a non-stop conversation.  Very disconcerting to one who is trying to focus on the task at hand.  (You can ask Christi how successful I am at multi-tasking!)  I enjoyed our banter for awhile, endured it for a bit, felt my face begin to twitch like I was hearing nails on a chalkboard for a stretch, and finally asked Sophi if she could leave my office and go play with Lexi again.  As usual, she completely ignored my request.  I asked again.  She continued talking to me. "Sophi, can you please go out of my office?"  She glanced over my desk and noticed my money clip, which had a $20 bill wrapped around the outside.  She got a reflective look on her face and said, "If you give me money I will go out!"  She is learning early.

Fortunately, she is still at an age where a simple, "I'll count to three and you need to be out of my office" works wonders ;)

-Jer

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cutest Thing EVER!

Sophi has been wanting a bike for years. It is so hard because she has to steer with her chin-- which is even more difficult than it sounds and only allows her to go very slow. It's also hard on her back and tummy and she falls easily. A few days ago, the sweetest lady (mother of one of Parker's friends) surprised Sophi with this gift. We could not believe how quickly she learned how to ride it! This video was taken only a few seconds after we assembled it. I don't think you can even imagine how excited and happy we are for her! Seriously such a happy day! :-)  She is on this pretty much non-stop.  It's so cute!!!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Superwoman!

Christi is my hero.  In so many ways.  I could go on and on about her patience with me, her intense love for her children, her ability to to provide meals for a small army on a daily basis, her organizational abilities in putting together paperwork for our adoptions, her innate desire to look for the good in everyone, her knack for making all of her kids feel important, her ability to help kids with homework in every subject under the sun, her artistic talents which are often on display as she helps with said homework (thank heavens the kids don't have to depend on dear old dad for their posters/book reports/art projects/etc.!), her pure love for Elli in spite of all of the challenges that go along with severe autism, her charge-in-and-take-care-of-the-mess attitude when it comes to a particularly difficult diaper disaster, her tenderness, her toughness, her fantastic kissing skills, her ability to play pretty much any song on the piano the first time she tries it, her efforts to provide an incredibly safe and loving environment in our home, her prowess at mini basketball shooting games and so many, many more areas in which she excels.

But today Christi is my hero because she managed to get our kids through the last week of school with me gone for six straight days.  I had to fly to New Jersey on Sunday and spend all week at our corporate office for training.  Somehow she got everybody ready and off to school each day.  She got Lexi ready for her bus by 7:15, herded four junior high kids out the door by 7:25 for their carpool, drove Jesi and Xander to elementary school by 7:45 and got Elli all ready for her bus by 8:15.  Every morning this week!  What did YOU do every morning this week?  I'm guessing it wasn't quite as draining:)  My efforts at work were certainly not even in the same ballpark as what she had to manage at home!  Once she got everyone off to school, she then had to keep Conner and Sophi occupied for the next seven hours. And after school there were practices, music recitals, youth activities, homework, and who knows what else in addition to the everyday demands such as dinner, dishes and bedtime.  I am, indeed, married to superwoman.  To top it all off, I am quite certain that when I arrive home this evening, the house will be spotlessly clean and full of an extra dozen kids or so.  Somehow she always manages to get the home looking amazing when I get back from a trip.  And today was the last day of school, so she let the kids invite friends over for a late night.  What a woman:)  I love you, sweetie!

-Jer

PS.  Today is the ten-year anniversary of Tiffany's death.  I miss my sweet little sis, but I'm confident in the knowledge that she is in a much better place.  I truly believe she can look down and see our little family and that what she sees makes her happy.  I think she occasionally throws some assistance our way as well.  Thanks, Tiff.  I look forward to catching up some time in the future.  Love you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

School Carnival

On a recent weekend we had the following:

-Two touch football games
-three basketball games
-a soccer game
-a school carnival

All before 1:00pm.

Christi and I used the divide and conquer method, her attending some events, me, other events.  I was really hoping the kids would forget about the school carnival, because I wanted to watch Taylor and Parker play basketball.  But of course, that would be too easy.  At the football games we ran into a friend of Jessica's who promptly asked if Jesi would be going to the carnival.  So I had the opportunity to take Jesi, Soph, Lexi, Conner and Xander to the festivities.

It actually turned out to be quite fun.  They're such sweet kids.  They went on bounce houses and inflatable slides.  We had a pulled pork lunch and snow cones for dessert.  All of the kids got face painting done.  The highlight was probably the pony rides.  All five kids enjoyed it.  I'm a lucky guy to have so many people who want to do fun things with me:)

-Jer






Sophi found two "diamond shaped rocks" that totally made her day.  She insisted I take a picture:


Monday, June 2, 2014

Heirarchy

A few days ago, Sophi and I were talking about Christi.  "Mom's the best!" I said.  "Yup!" Sophi replied.  "And preschool!!!"  (When she started to say 'and…', I thought maybe she was going to include Dad in her list of things that are 'the best',  but no such luck:)

-Jer

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Visitors

We had a few new people come over to our house last week:

Rock Star!

Hip Hop artist
Cowgirl:)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weekend with Elli

Last Friday, Christi's mom retired from her job as an elementary school teacher.  Her kids helped throw a surprise party for her in Christi's hometown of Ferron, UT which is about a two hour and forty-five minute drive from our house.  Of course Christi wanted to be there, and with the long weekend it sounded fun to take the kids down and stay for a few days.  As we discussed logistics, it became apparent that it would be best if Elli stayed home with me.  She can get very agitated around large groups of people,and all of Christi's siblings and most of their children would be there as well.  So Ellli and I got to spend the weekend together.

It was a good experience overall.  I thought about taking her to Lagoon, a good-sized amusement park about 45 minutes from Herriman.  The first couple of years we had Elli we took her to Disneyworld and to Lagoon.  At that young age she really enjoyed the rides she could go on, including a couple of small roller coasters.  She would laugh and smile during and after each ride.  As the years have gone on, however, she has enjoyed these opportunities much less.  I thought maybe if it was just the two of us and I could focus all of my attention on her, she might enjoy it again.  Before I spent the time and money on a day at Lagoon, however, I decided to try an evening at a very small park called Trafalga.  It has only three or four rides in addition to an arcade, laser tag, etc.  I figured if she enjoyed the rides there I would give Lagoon a shot.

Elli had been great all day Friday.  We drove to Trafalga and she was great.  But as we entered the doors, we were hit with the cacophony of noises that 200 people in an enclosed area can generate.  The rides were back outside, but we had to get our hands stamped first.  Elli quickly started to shut down.  I hoped that if we could get our stamps quickly and get back outside, she might be ok, but, alas, the line was very slow and we stood there for at least seven minutes.  Elli got more and more distraught the longer we waited.  She started to twist around and lie down and get back up.  Soon she started to scream.  Finally we got our stamps and headed back outside, but by then it was too late.  I tried for about 15 minutes to help her get calm, but it clearly wasn't happening.  We ended up going home without participating in any of the activities there.  Poor kid!

Other than that, Elli was a little angel.  We went to the cemetery together and left flowers on Jacob's and Emily's grave.  We went to a park, we ate at McDonald's twice and I sat outside with her while she played on the trampoline and climbed on her climbing toy.  Once cute thing she did: while climbing on her jungle gym she spontaneously began to sing to the tune of the ABC's:  "Grandpa Green, Grandpa Green, Grandpa Green, Grandpa Green."  Not sure what brought him to mind, but it was very cute.  (In the video below I can't get her to sing it again, but she sure seems to enjoy it when I'm singing it to her!)

My favorite thing about the weekend was the chance I had to get to know Elli better.  Christi provides the majority of Elli's care on a typical day.  Most of the time I'm with Elle, the entire family is around.  During these noisier times, Elli is more likely to get frustrated, riled up and unruly.  It was a real blessing for me to be able to spend so much time with her when it was quiet and serene.  She really is a little angel.  I'm so grateful to be her dad.

-Jer












Monday, May 26, 2014

First Hike

The other day Conner was sleeping on the couch.  Cali and Graci weren't here, so there was nobody except me to speak Chinese wit.  My limited capabilities didn't excite him very much, so he took a nap.  I'm trying to get in shape for a big hike with Taylor and Parker this summer, so I thought I'd take
Conner on a smaller hike.

I woke him up from his slumber.  Once he was coherent I tried to tell him in Chinese where we were going.  I didn't know the word for hike, so I told him we were going for a walk.  We got ready and set out, driving about five minutes from our home to the base of a precipice I've been wanting to climb.  We set off into the wilderness.  There was no trail, thick grass, lots of large rocks, and a highly sloped surface for much of it.  I was very impressed with Conner.  He held on to my backpack and kept up very well.  He only stumbled a couple of times, no more than someone with sight might have.

It was a great bonding experience.  We talked quite a bit.  He kept saying how tall this hill was and how many big rocks there were.  At one point he asked me if I had ever been here before.  When I said, "no," he was clearly shocked.  He said something that I'm sure translated roughly into, "What kind of crazy family have I been adopted into?!?"

We kept at it and made it to the top.  This is a picture of our destination taken from the front porch of our home.  Together we climbed up to the saddle on the left.  Conner waited there while I climbed up to the peak between the two saddles.


Overall I think he enjoyed it.  I told him how beautiful the views were.  We stopped often to listen to different sounds, to feel the wind and smell the smells and to enjoy the silence.  I asked him several times if he liked it and he said yes.  On the other hand, I asked him several times if he wanted to do it again and he said, "No, no, no, no, no!!!"  He's such a sweet kid.


View from the top


I took this from the top of the peak, looking down into the saddle where Conner waited.  Just to the right of the center you can see a small black dot.  That's him:)


A little shout out to Tiff:)
We made it!!!

Later that day when Grace and Cali came home, Conner told them all about it.  Graci started cracking up and I asked her way.  Barely able to contain her guffaws, she got this out.  "You asked him…(giggle)…if he wanted…(more giggles)…to go on a short little walk…(uncontrollable giggles)…then you took him…(doubles over in laughter)…way up this huge hill!  (Can't stop cracking up.)

It was about 3 miles round trip with a 1000 foot elevation gain.  I guess they had a point:)

-Jer