Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Girl's Trip Post Script

…and thank you, my wonderful, amazing Jeremy, for holding down the fort with all of the other kids while I was gone!  I love you, too!

(I know she meant to put that in there somewhere ;)

-Jer

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Girls Trip #1


When we traveled to China for Conner's adoption back in May, we were able to meet the man who had taught Conner piano lessons for the past year.  He was very excited to invite us to a concert he was performing in near Philadelphia and explained in his broken English how honored he would be to have us come.  We told him we would do our best, but due to expenses we would likely not be able to make it.  Over time, Jeremy and I discussed it at length and decided that it was an opportunity for Conner that we just couldn't pass up.  We were able to get free lodging and had enough sky miles to get free airfare so it worked out great!   We made the decision for me to take him and to have Graci come as well so that Conner would have someone to talk to (his English was VERY limited at the time.)

Truthfully, I wasn't too excited about the whole trip until I had the magical thought to invite my SISTERS.  My little sis, Leslie, and my sis-in-law, Megan were both able to make the trip and it turned a "this is going to be a long, hard weekend" (remember, Conner could barely communicate at the time and wasn't really into doing anything that involved walking more than 10 feet) into a total girls trip with Graci and Conner tagging along.  (:  As we started planning things, we realized that Philadelphia was just a short bus ride from New York City, and Leslie had never been there.  So we kind of turned the whole thing into a NYC trip with a little side trip to Philadelphia.  We spent five days together and it was AWESOME!  I had the time of my life with two of my favorite ladies in the whole world!  Conner and Graci were fun "tag-alongs" (I know, I know-- the trip was supposed to be about Conner, but let's face it-- a Mom needs some girlfriend time whenever she can get it).  We were able to experience so many things and places including Valley Forge-- a place I've always wanted to go.  But out of all of the things we did, my favorite memory is just the hours spent talking and laughing with my sisters!!!

Conner's birthday happened to fall on one of the days we were there.  We tried to think of how we could make it meaningful for him and realized that we were close to the Juliard School, which is the most prestigious music/arts school in the world.  I called and asked about getting a tour and they said that there were no public tours that day.  After explaining how Conner was blind and had just been adopted and loved the piano so much and the fact that it was his birthday 
(all while Leslie and Megan were praying in the background) they consented to let us come over.  (: Conner was able to play the piano during the tour and it was something that I hope he will always appreciate.  Combine that with plenty of KFC and Chinese food and I think it's safe to say he had a happy birthday!  

Because it's late and I'm needing to get to bed, I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.  (Don't worry-- we did have lots of fun with Graci-- she just wasn't into letting us take many pics of her.)

Thank you, Les and Megan for making this trip one of my funnest memories ever!  I love you!






















Monday, October 27, 2014

This morning's quotes from Sophi

I've been gone this weekend  (more on that later) and got home very late last night.  This morning, Sophi was full of information about her week.  Here are a few of my favorites (I started jotting them down because she was just enamoring me!) :

"Mom…ok…so, Sunday was SO bad!  Daddy had to do girl hair and he is just SOOOOO bad at it!  Ugh!  But don't tell him, ok?"

………….


"I got to play with Eli.  It was AWESOME (every time she uses that word it is said very dramatically.)  We got two marshmallows.  Big marshmallows.  Which was AWESOME.  And he had a square trampoline instead of round like ours which was AWESOME.  And he had a dog that was a girl but I kept forgetting and calling her "him" and we played fetch and it was AWESOME!  And he has a iPad with netflilx.  Which is AWESOME!"  (This was all said with such fun exuberance!)

……………


Sophi: "Mom, I want to play with Claire.  Cuz it's been FOR.EV.ER since I've played with her.  Like more than a year."
Me:  "Sophi, you just played with Claire on Friday."
 Sophi:  (thoughtful pause) "Oh… yeah!"

…………….

Me:  "So was it fun to have Dad be your babysitter?"
Sophi:  "Yes!  Funner than when it's you.  (realizes what she just said and looks up in desperation) "I mean, not funner.  The same fun.  Cuz you're so fun too, so don't be sad about what I said."

…………….


Sophi:  "Soooo…. tell me about the trip.  How was the beach?"
Me:  "It was so much fun!  Except I put my sunglasses on my head and forgot about them and a big wave came and crashed on me and knocked my sunglasses off just like it happened to Jessica."
Sophi:  "Mom!  Don't worry!  Cuz when it's your birthday I will say to Dad (insert very demanding, harsh voice) 'Dad!  Take me to the store RIGHT NOW so I can buy sunglasses for Mom with my own money!!!"

……………..

Me:  "Jer, are we out of pull ups for Elli?"
Jer:  "Oh, yeah.  I forgot about that.  I'm so sorry."
Sophi:  "Ugh.  Dad, you are FIRED!"

Love that girl!

--Chrtistianne (:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meet The Mormons

Christi and I went on a date a couple of weeks ago to see the new movie, Meet the Mormons.  (In case it isn't obvious enough from our blog, our family belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon church.)  We LOVED the movie.  It isn't a proselytizing effort.  It's just an opportunity to see the variety of different types of people who belong to the Mormon church and to hear some of their very inspiring and uplifting stories.  Christi and I were both so glad we went. If you haven't seen it, take a look at the trailer:




-Jeremy

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bunny Rabbits

A couple of months ago we attended a community preparedness fair.  There were displays on things like making meals from food storage and utilizing solar ovens if electricity is out for an extended period of time.  It was also a pot luck dinner, and it was amazing how delicious a food storage dish could be:). One booth had some cute bunny rabbits in a pen that the kids could pet.  Sophi and Jessica fell in love!







The booth made the curious decision to have a large computer screen right next to the cute little bunnies which had a looping slide show with step-by-step images of how to prepare them for a meal.  Fortunately I realized what was showing soon enough to divert Sophi's attention, but it was quite traumatizing for our sweet Jess.  Ah, life!  They sure enjoyed the live bunnies, however!

-Jer

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