Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sweet Cali

Life takes such convoluted paths. When I think of some of the challenges our adopted children have faced, I sometimes weep. Five of the seven were abandoned at birth. Graci was abandoned at age 5. Cali's biological father passed away in a mining accident and she was abandoned by her biological mother, but she was still able to live for a time with her paternal grandmother. Due to the rural, inaccessible area where her grandma lived, once Cali was in a wheelchair, it was no longer feasible for her to live there. At this point, she moved to an orphanage that was about a 2-hour drive away. She continued to have some contact with her grandma and her aunt. We met both of these wonderful women when we went to adopt Cali and also when we went back to adopt Conner. Cali had the chance to travel again to China on her own last summer and see them again. It is such a blessing to live in a time of free and instant communication. She still loves her family in China and keeps in touch with them. A few days ago I came across these pictures that were given to us when we first adopted Cali. So precious!!! We love you Cali:)

Love,

Dad
Cali with her grandma.

Cali with her biological parents.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Road Trip

Sophi is the world's best traveler. No matter what the scenery looks like, she loves it! We recently had a daddy date road trip to Cedar City, about 3 hours south. We had so much fun talking, taking turns choosing songs to listen to, and observing our surroundings. We had dinner, watched Spies in Disguise at the theater and swam in the hotel pool. We saw 3 hawks on the way down. We thought we saw a fourth sitting on a fencepost right by the highway, but as we got closer we could see it was actually a golden eagle. So cool! On the way back, we stopped to visit Grandma Larsen in Richfield. We also saw the largest herd of deer I've ever seen. They were grazing near the freeway. We pulled over to have a better look and I counted at least 112. Such a fun trip with a fun kid and with lots of great wildlife. Love you Soph!!!

-Dad

Loving the ride! (At least for awhile;)

We stopped to view some pioneer era charcoal pits. They stacked wood in here wall to wall and  burned it  until it turned into charcoal.
Sound asleep!

Our golden eagle. First on the post, then flying away!
Tuckered out after a long day! Cutest sleep position ever:)
Nutella waffles are just to good to eat with only one fork!!!

Monday, February 10, 2020

No Quarantine Necessary!

Sophi went to school last week and a boy in her 5th grade class asked: "Are you Chinese?"

Sophi: "Yes."

The boy, after taking a step backwards: "Do you have that virus???"

😂😂😂

One super-cute, virus-free, Chinese angel!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Hearts of the Children

Dear Joseph or Victoria or Claire or Braxton or Xander, Jr., (I'm sure there will be quite a few of you!):

This is your grandpa! I had a really beautiful epiphany this morning and I want to share it with you. It started last night. I took several of your parents (Sophi, Lexi, Calais, Graci and Conner) to a Chinese New Year dinner. It is a wonderful tradition that began last year. A non-profit called the Utah Chinese Civic Center wanted to provide a venue for local children who had been adopted from China to connect with their culture. They had heard specifically about our family and called your grandma to ask if we would be interested in coming to a Chinese New Year feast and if we knew other families who would also be interested. Grandma Christi reached out to several friends directly and also posted on Facebook and the inaugural dinner had 13 families attend. This year, that number increased to 21 families who, like ours, have been blessed to bring wonderful children from China into their homes. After the dinner last night, there were several moms that came up to me and commented on how much our family meant to them. They had seen us in Find Me, or had read our blog, or had just noticed something that one or more of their children had in common with ours. One particular mom mentioned how much her girls love reading about our kids on the blog. As has happened on previous occasions, I felt a bit guilty for not posting more regularly. Grandma Christi and I have seen so many people blessed by observing our kids (your parents!). In fact, one of the great unforeseen blessings that adoption has brought to me is this: our kids bless other peoples' lives pretty much every time they go anywhere. It is a wonderful thing to observe and be a part of.

So last night I determined to write more frequently on our blog. I wanted to share our amazing kids with anyone who might benefit from reading about them. This morning I woke up way too early for a Saturday. (The older you become, the harder it is to get good sleep-enjoy it while you're young!!!) The good part about getting up early is that you have the house to yourself for awhile. I wandered into the living room and opened the shades. I enjoyed the sunrise over the beautiful mountains to the east. Then I took some time to pray and read the scriptures. As I was pondering, I was hit with the most beautiful thought: YOU are my most important readers! And I don't even know you yet!!! The thought filled my heart with joy. A few years ago, Parker and I were working on his genealogy merit badge. The 1940 census information had recently been made public and we found the page with information about my maternal grandparents, Roy and Elita Lind. I was amazed at the emotions that filled my heart as I found the line for Grandpa Lind. Living at 4335 NE 68th in Portland, OR, they owned their $1,700 home. He worked full-time as a local truck driver making less than $1.00/hour. In 1940 they had two children: Joyce, my aunt who passed away when she was 16, and Stephen, my uncle who I have had many fun interactions with. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of my Grandpa as a 25-year-old trying to make ends meet for his growing family.

And so, sweet grandchildren (and children and great-grandchildren), I am thinking of you this morning. I am looking forward to meeting all of you someday. Hopefully in this life, but meeting in the next life will also be amazing! I hope that as you read this blog you will find wonderful glimpses into your parents' lives. Funny stories. Inspirational moments. A greater understanding of some of the difficult trials they went through. And hopefully, your understanding of your grandpa's life when he was 35 and 45 and 55 will be more expansive than a few lines on a census.  I love you all!

Grandpa Jeremy

What I love about this picture is how perfectly it captures my favorite side of Graci: her ability to fill everyone around her with exuberant joy!
Lots of wonderful friends at this event!


Conard and Ilah Green family begin on line 70. 7118 SE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR

Roy and Elita Lind family begin on line 28. 4335 NE 68th, Portland, OR



Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Feeling Manly!

This morning my company car had a completely flat tire. Since I'm still recovering from shoulder surgery and the car has emergency roadside coverage, I called and set it up so they would come and put the spare on for me. Why not let some guy take care of it? I don't want to mess up my shoulder. When the technician arrived, it was a woman. I sheepishly thanked her for changing the tire, walked back into the house, and was greeted by my sweet wife asking, "Did you give her your man card?" 😳😆😛

-Jer

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

An Arm and a Leg

Changing the sheets on a bunk bed is an arduous process. Generally the kids will ask me for assistance when it comes time to put the fitted sheet back on. Tonight, Calais came to me and asked if I would put the sheet on for her. "You bet!" So I went in to take care of it. She was waiting in her wheelchair a couple of feet behind me. For those of you who don't know, I had shoulder surgery on October 15. While I am definitely recovering, it is a very slow process and my range of motion is still quite limited. So I'm sprawled across her bed, trying to pull up the corner of the mattress with my strong arm and stretch out the corner of the sheet with my recovering arm. I just can't do it. The arm won't reach. In frustration I say, "This is really hard 'cuz my arm doesn't work!" Pause. Pause. Cali, in her sweet little voice with her slightly broken English, "Well, my legs doesn't work." Doh! She definitely recognized the humor in her remark, but she was also reminding me to suck it up!

-Jeremy

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Reflections


I love this beautiful performance. Most of the time our kids with special needs are so strong and independent and capable and able to take on everything life throws at them. But once in awhile tears come as they pour out their hearts to us with the struggles and the pain. Oh how I love them. I am grateful for my strong belief in the resurrection and all that means to our family.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Cool Asians

As a parent of a diverse group of kids, I find great joy in watching them find role models that they can relate to. Lexi and Conner loved meeting Blessing Offer at one of their USDB camps. Sophi has had the opportunity to meet Tisha Unarmed, Jessica Cox and others with limb discrepancies. Parker saw Ed Sheeran in concert 😂. Lately, Sophi has really honed in on her identity as an Asian. Last night we were watching America's got talent as a family. I absolutely love this show. I love the diversity of talents and the diversity of the performers. When one particular act came on stage, Sophi said, "Hey look-they're Asian!"  Then the performance began and they were A.Maz.Zing! At one point during their act, I was blown away and said out loud, "I don't even know what I just saw!" Sassy little Sophi said, "Um, you saw a bunch of Asians doing cool things!!!" Parker quickly responded with, "No biggie. Dad sees that every day."

I love my family!!!

Here's the AGT act:


Friday, January 4, 2019

New Year's Resolutions

Sophi has a way of filling up my heart every single day. She's pure magic. Every day I find evidences of her cuteness scattered around the house. A few days ago I found this little gem. #1 melted me. I wish I could freeze her at this age and with this spelling. (;

Christi




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Lily Challenge

Here is Christi's Facebook post introducing our new commitment for this year.  We're so excited for the memories we're going to make. We already completed experience number one! Check out the website: www.lilychallenge.com.
Happy New Year's Eve! I have something fun to share! Our kids have been asking (begging) for years to have a vlog. I keep coming up with all the reasons we shouldn't, but they have persisted. And if you know Sophi, you know she is particularly insistent. (; In the meantime, our family sat down months ago and decided that we needed to use our time more wisely (ie, stop being glued to our screens so much). After lots of discussion, we came up with a fun idea that helped with both problems. We brainstormed 100 experiences we wanted to have during 2019 (starts tomorrow!) and decided to make a vlog of sorts (youtube channel/website/whatever you want to call it) to help us stay motivated and share the fun. We're calling it the "Lily Challenge" and the kids would love if you want to follow along, or have your kids follow along. Even better, you can create your own Lily Challenge-- a list of experiences you want to have this next year. If you do, tag us or let us know so we can follow your journey too!!
You can read more about it and see our intro video on our new website (still needs some tweaks) at www.lilychallenge.com. #lilychallenge#liveintentionally #2019goals #happynewyear

Monday, December 31, 2018

Count your many blessings

Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a minister in the United States around the turn of the 20th century, gave this prescient description of our time on this earth:  

"Life is like an old time rail journey…delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

As I come to the end of one year and the beginning of another, this description feels rather apt.  This has been a year of magnificent highs and difficult lows. Today I faced one of the most devastating challenges of my professional career. After taking some time to try and catch my breath I looked for ways to recover and overcome. The words of a hymn came to my mind:

When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one, 
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

So here I am in front of the computer, listening to uplifting Christian music and blogging about my blessings. I truly feel much better already! I could write extensively about so many blessings, but since nobody wants a 47-page blog post, I'm going to write about 18 blessings as 2018 comes to an end.  I'll keep the descriptions short and filled with things that are particularly impactful to me.

1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of His grace, I can be forgiven, return to live with my Father in Heaven, see Jacob and Emily and my sister Tiffany again and have an eternal family. Unbelievable blessings!

2. My wife Christianne. I tried to find the right adjective to describe her, but it's impossible. She has made my life so much better in so many ways that there is no way to put into words what a tremendous blessing she has been. A partner who loves me in spite of me, who loves our children as much as I do, who loves to travel and work and play and parent with me. 

3. Taylor. Our firstborn. Made me a dad. Endured so many mistakes from an inexperienced father. Still likes to camp and hike and spend time with me. Great student. Great brother. Great son. Movie buff extraordinaire.

4. Parker. Unstoppable. Full of dreams and goals and a vision for his future. Thoughtful. He always looks out for his siblings and his parents. He loves his mom so much! Musician and athlete. Joy to be with. Still says "I love you" at the end of every phone call.

5. Jessica. Still loves to be tucked in each night by dad. Diligent student. Loves to play games. Great friend. Wonderful travel companion. Talented fashion hair designer. Willing to help around the house. Involved in church and strives to stay close to the spirit.

6. Elli. Precious, perfect angel. More challenging than all the other kids combined, but completely innocent in her trials. Full of joyous, happy belly laughs. Lover of music. Lover of food. Lover of her family.

7. Graci. Example of endurance and perseverance. Hard worker. Showers attention on her siblings. Pure testimony of Jesus Christ from the moment she learned of Him. Strives to let only the best entertainment influences into her mind. Christlike example.

8. Xander. Happy, joyful, sometimes silly. Always looking for opportunities to serve. Fantastic chef. Loyal friend. Obedient. Long-suffering and patient through multiple health issues. Great singer of Kumbaya. Sensitive. Fun!

9. Lexi. A glowing light to all who know her. Outgoing and always looking for new friends among strangers. Gorgeous and versatile singing voice. Patient friend and sister to Sophi. Partner to Conner. Vulnerable yet able to rise above the challenges of her blindness.

10. Sophi. Power packed bundle of energy. A little rock star. To know her is to love her. Ebullient. Effervescent. Exuberant. Persistent seeker of pets. Writer of stories and lists and letters. Best hugger in the world.

11. Cali. Sweet and sassy. Quiet everywhere but home, loves to share her opinions with her family. So beautiful inside and out. Talented artist. Great friend. Hard-working student. Always does her chores. Rises above her challenges. Stands out while she sits down.

12. Conner. Patient and caring. Loves his family and cherishes being part of it. Always concerned for Elli and her needs. Wants a girlfriend before he dies:) Piano player extraordinaire. Handsome, humorous, humble. Fearless in so many ways.

13. Our home. I am still so grateful to so many who sacrificed so much to help us be in this amazing house. It is a place that fits our family and allows our kids to have their friends come over. Adaptations for our special needs help us so much. We love to travel, but we always feel so grateful to come back to our special home.

14. My parents. I am grateful for parents who taught me about Jesus Christ. Parents who loved me. Parents who set expectations for education that have helped me throughout my life. Parents who have been willing to admit their mistakes and do their best to move on.

15. My siblings. I'm grateful for our text group. So glad that the five of us who are still alive are also still friends. I'm grateful for the love and support I feel from each of them in their own ways. I'm grateful for Tiffany and for faith that life continues after we are gone from this earth.

16. My in-laws.  I have the greatest in-laws in the world and couldn't ask for more acceptance or love from them. Their support of our family is unbelievable.

17. The mountains that surround us here in Utah. I love the connection to nature and to God that I feel when I am hiking. I love the beauty I can see from our deck. Sunrises and sunsets over the Wasatch and Oquirrh ranges. 

18. The scriptures. As I am counting my blessings and working through the challenges that life has thrown at me, I am comforted by two of my favorite verses. Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." and Romans 8:28 "...all things work together for good to them that love God..."

So often throughout my life I have seen the grace of God take something that at first seemed like a trial and turn it into a tremendous blessing for me. I have faith that He knows all and that He loves us because we are His children. I truly can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Jeremy

PS. Try counting your blessings.  It's very therapeutic!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

So Many Surgeries

Poor Xander.  He had major reconstructive surgery on both feet last November. For over a year he has been dealing with the aftermath as the healing process has not gone as planned. On Thursday he went in for his fourth follow-up surgery!  He has been such a trooper through all of it. In addition to the surgeries themselves, it has been painful for him to walk off and on for the past year. He really stepped up his fashion game at the hospital and wanted to show off for the camera:


Christi and I are so grateful to have Xander in our lives. He is the sweetest, most thoughtful guy. He is always looking for ways to help around the house and has a heart of gold. We are so lucky!

Jer

Friday, December 21, 2018

Parenting skills

Wednesday was the last day of school for our Providence Hall kids. Today is Elli's last day.  Since most of the kids don't have to get up, Christi and I get to sleep in a little bit, but Christi still gets Elli ready and on the school bus.  Yesterday when her alarm rang, she said, "I'm so tempted to just keep sleeping and then drive Elli to school later in the morning."  Sensing an opportunity to gain some always-needed husband points,  I told her I'd get up and take care of Elli. (Poor Elli.  I've given up on trying to make her hair look even remotely good.  I just make sure it's in ponytails and out of her face.)

By the time Elli was on the bus, Sophi and Lexi were awake.  I was needing to get started on some projects, so when those two asked me to make them breakfast, I told them they could do it on their own.  Now I know they face some obvious challenges in this course of action, but they really are quite capable and often feed themselves, usually working as a team to take care of everything they need.

About ten minutes later I hear scrambling in the kitchen and start to smell smoke.  I rush in and, even in the midst if disaster, they've taken care of things.  The burning item has been taken outside and they got it out there before the smoke alarm could go off!  Apparently they had found some leftover french toast in the fridge.  Lexi thought it would be better with some chocolate syrup on it, so they unwrapped a couple of mini Hershey's bars (leftover from Halloween) and put them in a bowl in the microwave.  Sophi asked Lexi, "How long should we cook it?" Lexi replied, "I don't know. Try two minutes." Hence the smoke.


Undeterred, they kept going.  They melted another round of chocolate and heated up the french toast. When they finished their creation, they were so proud they invited me in to see the final product.  Three layer french toast with chocolate and whipped cream between the layers and topped with strawberry yogurt.  Gourmet!




Thursday, December 20, 2018

Oldest and Youngest

A couple of funny conversations:

At family council on Sunday I mentioned that one of my cousins' kids was having a wedding reception in a couple of weeks.  I knew my little wedding buddies (Sophi and Lexi) would want to come with me.  I asked if anyone else would like to attend.  Graci quickly asked, "Are they having dinner or light snacks?" Christi and I cracked up.  I guess if you ever see Graci at your wedding reception, you can thank the caterer!



I was dropping Sophi off at school earlier this week.  There are two lanes that parents can pull into: lane one is right next to the sidewalk, lane two goes through the parking lot and requires the kids to cross at a crosswalk.  Usually I pull into lane one, but the flow of traffic that morning required me to get into lane two.  A deep, annoyed sigh came from Sophi in the back seat.  "I hate lane 2!  It's so humiliating!!!"
Me, in surprise: "you're embarrassed when you go through lane 2?"
Sophi: "I'm not embarrassed! It's just humiliating!!!"
Me: "Humiliating means really embarrassing."
Sophi, now a little embarrassed: "Oh.  I thought it just meant terrible."

Sophi is SO amazing.  I love her independence.  The other day she needed something out of the fridge:


I love kids! They keep me laughing:)

Jer

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Wheeler Peak

I summited my first 13,000 foot peak the other day.  Wheeler Peak is in Great Basin National Park in Nevada.  Earlier this summer, Taylor, Parker, Xander, my dad and I camped in Great Basin for a few nights.  We saw some beautiful scenery and went on some great hikes, but ascending Wheeler Peak was not on the itinerary. I knew I would eventually go back and hike to the summit.  It's a 4.5-mile hike with 2900 feet of elevation gain.  It was kind of like two totally different hikes.  The first two miles (and the last two on the way back) are through a beautiful evergreen forest with quaking aspens that were turning brilliant fall colors.  The temperature was great with little wind and the slope was not very steep.  A nice fall hike for pretty much anyone.  The second half was brutal.  Super steep, exposed terrain.  No trees and almost no vegetation.  The trail is well-developed, but it is just over talus.  Plus, I was essentially on a ridgeline, so the wind was unbelievable. I would guess it was 40 miles an hour up there.  It was so crazy that I couldn't keep my hat on and ended up with a sunburn.  I'm grateful to live so close to so many places that offer me nature therapy. I love the mountains!

Wheeler Peak is the high point just to the right of center in the photo.  You can see
the ridge line where it got so windy headed up from the right side of the picture to the peak.  Steep!!!


Magnificent 360-degree views from the summit.  This is the second highest
point in Nevada and higher than any point in Utah.



Saw this line of tanks on the way home.  Cool!

Monday, September 17, 2018

All kinds of drivers!

Sophi isn't quite ready for her driver's license yet, but she sure is having fun on the lawnmower!  No hands? No problem!!!  (The blades are off as she's driving.)






She really loved this, and a couple days later on the way to school she said:
"Driving the lawnmower is awesome! It's the funnest thing I've ever done!!!"...pause..."well, maybe not the funnest.  I've been to Napa and London and Disney World and a cruise..."

Spoiled much?

-Jer

Friday, September 7, 2018

Here comes trouble!

Watch out world, Cali can drive! We finally got hand controls for her to use.  These are portable ones that can be moved from car to car.  They are convenient and inexpensive, but they are also more tiring to use.  We'll have permanent ones installed in the minivan soon.  In the meantime, Cali is so excited to start this next step towards independence.  You go girl!



Thursday, September 6, 2018

Happy Birthday Sophi!

Christi is a master of making kids feel important.  Perhaps the best example of this is how she treats them on their birthday.  If it were up to me, we would sing Happy Birthday and put some candles on a cake and that would be about it.  But Christi likes to add a bit more fun to the mix.  Sophi's birthday on September 4th was a good example.  The day starts out with the whole family marching into the bedroom to sing Happy Birthday and give them breakfast in bed.


If you can't tell, she's holding up all 10 toes!

We will sing Happy Birthday multiple times throughout the day, lest the favored child forget how special they are.  Mom will often take the birthday girl out to a restaurant.  She checked Sophi out of school and took her to Ihop for lunch.  Later that night Sophi had her requested birthday cake: Key Lime Pie.  As you can see from the video, Sophi took full advantage of her opportunities:





The day also included a trip to Target to pick out her own birthday present.  If you know Sophi, you won't be surprised she picked something that had to do with animals. A play set from the animated series, "Spirit" about a group of girls that solve myriad problems in the old west with the help of their trusty horses:).  

We are so lucky to have Sophi as part of our families.  She's our spicy, sassy, funny, self-confident little whirlwind.  We love you, Soph!!!

Love, Dad

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Love my girls!

Last Friday night I had the awesome opportunity to go on a daddy-daughter campout.  As the girls get older and I get older I guess Dad gets less exciting to hang out with.  When given the choice of coming with me, only two of the girls decided that was what they wanted to do with their Friday night.  (And let me be perfectly clear: the option was to stay at home.  No big plans for anyone.  Basically a campout with Dad just didn't seem particularly awesome.  I guess I had some foresight when I blogged our campout in 2011.)

But Graci, Sophi and I had a great time!  We returned to Clover Springs for the first time in seven years.  The campground is pretty remote and the stars were absolutely fantastic.  Hot dogs, s'mores, and egg mcmuffins for breakfast made for a great menu.  The first year we went on a daddy-daughter campout we started a funny tradition.  On a pre-camp shopping trip I saw Funky Flames in the camping section at Walmart.  We tried them out, the girls loved the colors, and now they want them every time we go.

Having Taylor leave for school has really driven home the reality that our time with these angels in our household is limited and short.  I am so grateful for opportunities like these that provide the chance to create memories that will help sustain me when more of them are gone.

Jeremy

Sophi loves to pose 😂 

We took a little hike...
...to the springs that give the campground it's name.


Apparently Sophi decided to take some pics before I woke up 😂
Cool pic, Soph!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bittersweet Moments

I now have new motivation to blog regularly!  We have a son who has left the house.  All his life we've wanted to Taylor to someday attend college and become independent.  But when that day came (last Wednesday) it was so bittersweet.  We are so proud of him.  He is a freshman at BYU.  He earned enough scholarship money to pay for his first year's tuition.  He's a great person with great goals.  He's fun to be around.  He makes good choices.  And all of those things make it so hard to see him go.  Fortunately he's only a 45-minute drive away (he already came home for Labor Day!).  But we also know it will never be the same.  I miss my two-year old Taylor and my seven-year old Taylor and my 15-year-old Taylor and everything in between.  I hear that eventually grandkids make everything worth it, but I still have awhile before that happens.  In the meantime, we will eagerly await phone calls, texts and emails from our firstborn.  Hopefully he will enjoy blog posts about all of us at home.  We love you, Taylor!  And as uncle Tyler said, "What would Jeremy do during his first year of college?  Don't do that!"

Jeremy

Finally on campus!

So hard to say goodbye :(

Taylor is somewhere in that Y made up of the freshman class of 2018