Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lay-offs, Lay-ups and Leg Pains

WARNING: An excessively proud father wrote this entry. I figure it’s my blog, and you’re under no obligation to read it, so I can write what I want. But consider yourself warned! :)

Good morning! It’s 3:16 AM and I can’t sleep, so I figured I’d get up and do something useful. Sorry it’s been so long since I posted an entry. Life is definitely busy, but that’s really no excuse. Keeping up with this journal of our lives needs to be more of a priority. So why can’t I sleep? I figure it’s at least partially due to my 2:00 pm phone call this coming Friday. Some of you have undoubtedly read about my company, Pfizer, in the news this week. We have announced the acquisition of another large drug company, and the supposedly unrelated layoffs of several thousand of our people. That will translate to about 30% of the sales reps here in Utah. So I get to call in to my boss at 2:00 pm on Friday to find out if I’m still employed. A little scary! Due to the generous severance package, it won’t be an immediate emergency situation if I get laid-off, but we’re sure praying that I still have a job come next Monday. (Your prayers in this regard would be much appreciated. :)

So, like many of you out there, we are facing uncertain times. It sure is wonderful in times like these to have a firm foundation of faith and family. And what a great family we have! The other day, I was driving Jesi to school and we had the following conversation: (By the way, I wish each of you could have the chance to drive Jesi to school just once. The talks on the way there and her cute little “good-bye”s and “I love you”s are something everyone should experience in their life.) “Daddy,” she said. “Who’s the huffest tuffest family?” “Our family is the huffest tuffest family, Jess!” I replied. “Daddy,” who’s the greatest family in the world?” “Our family is, Jess.” “No, Daddy. Our family AND Grandma Nelson’s family is the greatest family in the world!” “You’re right, Jess. Our family and Grandma Nelson’s family is the greatest family in the world. But what about Grandma Rose’s family?” (Dad had to put a plug in for his side! :) “Oh yeah,” she replied. “Our family and Grandma Nelson’s family and Grandma Rose’s family is the greatest family in the world.” And that was that. (You can all vie for fourth place. :) By the way, in case you’ve wondered, Grandma Rose and Grandma Green are the same person. Her name is Rosemary Green, and a few years ago she decided she preferred being called Grandma Rose to Grandma Green. I think it makes her feel younger. It can be a slightly confusing nomenclature, however. Sometimes the kids will refer to “Grandma and Grandpa Rose, I mean Grandma and Grandpa Green, I mean Grandma Rose and Grandpa Green.”)

I was a klutz growing up. At least until high school. Prior to that, I played one year of little league baseball and one year of little league soccer. My parents were extremely supportive in hundreds of ways, but sports just wasn’t their thing. (My dad recently heard us talking about college football and had no idea what the BCS was. :) Anyway, all through grade school I was one of the last kids picked for every athletic game we played in PE or at recess. I was usually the slowest guy in a foot race and was generally a geek. (The “Tough Skins” brand of jeans I wore didn’t help my social status any!) My freshman year in high school, I did make the basketball team-they kept everyone at that level. I scored 3 points all season. To be fair to myself, I did go on to a fairly illustrious career in our reasonably competitive church basketball league, that being my favorite sport to play, and the only one I was any good at.

So it was pretty intimidating to marry into Christi’s family. Her dad was seriously the starting quarterback, pitcher, and star-basketball player in high school. I believe he was All-State in all three sports and All-American in basketball. (Although he played before the 3-point era, he held the high school single-game scoring record at Emery High School for years. It even stood through Shawn Bradley’s tenure there.) He played college ball, as did one of Christi’s brothers. Both of her brothers, her brother-in-law, her dad, (and even her grandpa!) were several inches taller than me. Her brother-in-law played on a high school team that won back-to-back state championships in basketball (it didn’t hurt that Shawn Bradley was the center on that team!) and then turned down a basketball scholarship at a D-I school to run track at BYU. I kind of felt like I had a neon sign on my forehead that read: “SPORTS LOSER! SPORTS LOSER!”

But, Christi’s athletic gene pool has paid off! My boys have been star athletes from the first game they played. (Well, there was some luck involved at first. Taylor hit a home run in his very first T-ball game. When he swung at the ball, it dribbled about 10 feet off the “T” and that was followed by about 17 fielding errors which allowed him to advance all the way home. But he was sure excited, as was Dad! :) Since then, each season in both basketball and baseball has produced stellar moments for both boys. The next few seasons, both boys played pitcher in T-ball. This is the premier fielding position, since at that age, most of the kids can’t hit the ball much farther than the pitcher’s mound. We have video of some innings where Taylor scored all three outs. Parker was just as good. Taylor was such a strong hitter that our coach would warn the other team’s coach to move his boys back so they didn’t get hurt fielding Taylor’s ball. Last year in baseball, Taylor was a gold-glove 1st baseman. He had several SportsCenter-worthy plays, including a couple where he pretty much had to do the splits to catch a throw from a teammate while keeping his foot on the bag. Parker was probably the MVP of his league. The other kids on his team argued over who was second-best. It was a given that Parker was the best. He hit several legitimate home runs and it seemed like he was everywhere on the field. During one game, our exasperated assistant coach yelled at our team while they were out in the field: “Guys, pay attention! Parker can’t do EVERYTHING!” That team took first place in the league. :)

Both boys are also great at basketball. Taylor really excels here. His combination of height and skill makes him tough to stop on offense and a great rebounder and defender. Parker has really improved his basketball game this year. He’s a great dribbler, which is unusual at his age. When he gets the ball at one end of the court, it almost looks like there are no defenders as he dribbles down to the other end and takes a shot. (He could use some work on MAKING a higher percentage of the shots, but he does hit quite a few and is also a good passer.) So unlike me at their age, they have experienced much success in athletics. I keep wondering when their string of stand-out moments will end, but so far so good.

This last Saturday was the best day yet. Grandma and Grandpa Nelson had come up to watch the boys in their basketball games. These are probably the only games they will see this season. Taylor’s was first. Wow! I’ve never been involved in a more exciting game as a player or as a coach. (I coach Taylor this year.) At halftime we were down by seven points, and going into the 4th quarter, we were still down by six. Six points is an almost insurmountable lead in this league, where final scores are often in the teens. So I was not too keen on our chances to pull this game out. Nevertheless, I sent the boys out on the floor telling them to do their best and give all their effort. About mid-way through the quarter it was still 16-10. Then Taylor scored to make it 16-12. With two minutes left, we could start to full-court press. I was getting rather into it at this point, directing the boys to go for steals and to make it tough for the other team to inbound the ball. With about a minute left, Colton Bailey scored, making it 16-14. There was a real possibility now. But over the final minute, we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket. With 1 second left on the clock, we were awarded the ball out of bounds on the side of the court by our basket. The score was still 16-14. (There is no overtime in our league, so at that point we were just playing for the tie.) We called a timeout, and Coach Matt (Christi’s brother) drew up a play. Taylor, our tallest player, was to flash towards Tanner, who was inbounding the ball. Tanner needed to pass it to Taylor, who had to immediately turn around and shoot. It was a good plan. Taylor has spent hours in the driveway practicing his shot, and often practicing quick shots. Well, Tanner made a perfect pass to Taylor, who was several feet from the basket. Taylor turned around…and shot it perfectly. Nothing but net! The crowd went as wild as a 3rd-grade league crowd can go. I was jumping up and down with my hands in the air. The whole team was so excited. And what a moment for Taylor. He’ll remember that for the rest of his life.

We immediately drove to another school for Parker’s game. They don’t keep score in his league, so Taylor always does in his head. Parker had another great game, scoring and stealing several times. As the game progressed, Taylor kept updating us on the score. The other team was a lot bigger than our team this week, and they were ahead most of the game. As it got close to the end, Taylor looked over at me and said it was 14-14. Nobody scored for a little while. It got down to about 5 seconds left and the other team had the ball on their end of the court. At that point, Parker stole the ball, drove the length of the court, and layed it in, with, you guessed it, about 1 second left. Since there was no official score being kept, the crowd reaction was minimal here, but wow! What a day for my boys. Both of them hit game-winning or game-tying shots with one second to go. And on the one day Grandma and Grandpa were there no less. I know it’s been hard to tell as you’ve been reading this, but I was a pretty proud papa. :) My father-in-law later commented that I was a good coach. I told him I knew boys better than I knew basketball, but I think that’s what matters most at this age. I absolutely love working with kids.

So this morning at 3:00 AM (about two hours ago now) Taylor came in almost in tears and woke me up with the not-uncommon complaint: “Dad, I have a leg ache.” As I gave him some ibuprofen, I commented: “Ah, the price you pay for being a basketball star. Part of the reason you have these leg pains at night is because you’re growing so fast and so tall.”

So here are we are full circle. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, and now you know what woke me up. Taylor went back to bed, and instead of crawling into my own bed, I went in and laid by him until he dozed off. He still likes that kind of stuff. He’ll give me hugs and kisses and hold my hand. It will be a difficult day for me when he outgrows that. I sure love those little guys.


Thursday, January 15, 2009


By the way, thanks for all your ideas on the header. All the ideas were helpful, but I am taking the easy route and letting Danyale do it for me! Thanks, Danyale!

Room at the Inn

This post has been weighing on my mind for some time. I have had many questions about our newest little guy—and have put off answering them until I could find the right time to sit down and really take awhile. Many of you have asked to hear his story—how we found him, if he had any special needs, etc. It’s one of those things that only a real writer could find the right words for—and something that would take really opening up one’s heart to whoever may be reading this. I’m not a writer, and it’s hard for me to just open up and be vulnerable, but I do feel the need to share the story of how this special child of God found his way into our hearts.

Even before we went to get Graci, Jeremy and I found ourselves feeling that there was another little spirit waiting to come to our home. At the time, we thought that maybe I was supposed to get pregnant. After a lot of discussion and prayer, I visited with a high-risk specialist, who basically told me a lot of things I didn’t want to hear. Besides having an extremely high chance of another stillbirth, my own life seemed to be at risk if I was to become pregnant. So we basically put things on hold until we could really feel comfortable with a decision. It was something that was always on our hearts, but we just weren’t sure how to proceed.

Well, in September I was sitting here at the computer and found myself typing in the website address to the adoption agency we used for Elli’s adoption. When I say “found myself,” I mean that, exactly. This was not something that I thought out in my head—I literally just typed in the address without thinking at all. Adoption had not been a topic of conversation with us for some time. I immediately went to the view the profiles of waiting children. As soon as their faces popped up, the Spirit settled over me in a very compelling way. I have looked at lists before, and of course my mother-heart always feels for the children—but this was different. I knew immediately that we were to adopt again. This made no sense at all, as we were barely keeping our heads above water with the five children we already had. But there was no way to deny what was put in my heart—my whole body felt on fire with what we were supposed to do. So I picked up the phone and called my very unsuspecting, overwhelmed, overworked husband and said, “Hi, honey—um… I think we’re supposed to adopt again. Now.” And he said what only a man of God—a true disciple of Christ and a doer of the word would be able to say – “Wow. OK— why don’t you go ahead and request information on the kids you are drawn to.”

I am crying as I write this, because looking back—it really was a miracle that he could respond this way. Jeremy at the time was overwhelmed with some very big trials in his life—and to put something like this on him was just crazy, to say the least.

We picked three little children that we wanted some more information on, and I proceeded to write CCAI requesting their files and telling them that yes, we knew we were out of our minds. I was so grateful for their wonderful, excited, supportive reply. To have someone place confidence in us helped me to realize that maybe this was something we could do after all. They told us that two of the children already had families looking at their files, but sent information on the third. She was a sweet little girl—and my heart felt for her in every way—but she wasn’t ours. I just knew—I don’t know how else to say it.

The next day I logged in to the same website to find that one little boy had been added to the list. His name was Dang Xu Chu, (pronounced dong shoe choo,) and he was darling. Could this be our boy? (:

We requested his file and reviewed all of his information. The peace in my heart was so amazing, and Jeremy felt it as well. We asked for time to have doctors review his profile—and we were given a week. Oh, and did I mention that this was the week of Graci’s open-heart surgery? Um, just a little overwhelming? Well, I guess the Lord thought so too—we got a call that the surgeon was sick—and surgery was postponed until the following week. (:

I brought little Chu Chu’s file to our pediatrician, Dr. Daynes. I have to insert here that I felt VERY STUPID even asking him to look at a file for us. I almost felt embarrassed, and even apologetic to bring up that we were considering adopting again. Dr. Daynes knows our family well. He knows about Graci’s heart, and Elli’s blindness and how loud she can scream! I was just sure that he would think us out of our minds. We were in the office for shots or something (we practically live at that office) and I casually mentioned that we were thinking about adopting again. He looked up from his computer, rolled his chair closer to mine and looked me right in the eyes. He told me that he thought it was wonderful, and that if anyone could do it—we could, and that the Lord would provide the way. I was stunned and emotional and happy and humbled. I had thought for sure that everyone would just balk at the idea—and his faith in the Lord made me realize that I needed to have more faith as well.

Chu Chu’s special need was listed as “fibroma of the leg and buttocks, missing and malformed toes.” Dr. Daynes looked at his pictures and reviewed his medicals. He told us that we should try to get some information from Shriner’s hospital. The problem was getting an appointment there. We had a timeline, and he said that Shriner’s was the one place that was almost impossible to communicate with. He suggested that Jeremy take his file up there in person and pray that someone would open their hearts enough to pass it on to a doctor.

The following day, Jeremy walked into Shriner’s. As he was explaining the situation to the front desk, a doctor just “happened” to walk by who just “happened” to let him in her office and just “happened” to spend 20 minutes reviewing his file then and there. She explained that Chu Chu could have one of two things, and we are leaning way towards the one called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome (KTWS). It is most often defined by the presence of three classic characteristics: vascular abnormalities, prominent varicose veins or darkened skin patches, and limb enlargement. Chu Chu is a textbook example, and we are pretty confident that this is what he has. Talking to the doctor made us realize that it was something a little more serious than we thought (doesn’t look like surgery will be an option), but it also helped us to feel informed enough to make a decision.

As I have researched KTWS, I have found that it is extremely rare. Most websites just say “very rare” but one said “1 in 80,000” and another article claimed there are less than a thousand cases in the world. Bottom line: this is not something most people have even heard of. So you can imagine how we felt when my little sister called to tell me that her baby boy had just been diagnosed with the same thing. I guess if we are going to go through a trial like this, the Lord is blessing us by letting us go through it together.

Back to the adoption decision… I should mention here that of course our kids were involved. Early on, we casually showed them pictures of this little guy and his condition—not saying that we were considering adopting him—more like, “come look at this little boy’s leg—it’s kind of different!” Parker looked at the pictures and immediately said, “Are you thinking about adopting him?” I asked why, and he said, “Well, cause I think I want to adopt him.” Taylor, however, was TOTALLY against the idea. He was very interested in the pictures of his fibromas, and he thought he was sweet, but he did NOT want to have more kids in our family. I think his exact quote was, “Our family is just too crazy already!” (: I told Taylor that there was no way we would adopt unless everyone felt it was right and kind of let it go. We talked about it a couple of times, just casually, and he wasn’t budging on how he felt.

The day before we had to give CCAI our answer, I had a little talk with the Lord. I told him that I knew we were supposed to go forward with it, and that we would. I then told Him that it would sure be a lot easier if a few things happened. ☺ See, I don’t consider that exactly “bargaining.” ☺ I told Him we would do it either way—but I did tell Him the desires of my heart! The first was that Taylor would find his answer BEFORE we had to tell CCAI. I had already promised Taylor that we wouldn’t do it unless we were all on board. I didn’t want to go back on that, and I felt it was so important for Taylor to find the answer on his own, and not feel talked into it. (For the record, I won’t tell you the rest of my "list", but if you find us moving into a bigger house in the next couple of years, well...)

That night we knelt in a circle for family prayer. I hadn’t discussed with Taylor that we had to give our answer the next day. I don’t remember who said the prayer, but I do remember that Dang Xu Chu was not prayed about. As soon as the amens were said, Taylor looked over at me with the sweetest, most serene smile on his face and said, “I’ve changed my mind.” My heart really started to race, and I said, “about what, honey?”

His reply—“I know we’re supposed to adopt that little boy--- and I feel so happy about it.” I gave him a hug and asked him when he knew, and he said, “I don’t know—just now, I guess. During the prayer.” He followed me around all night, just basking in the sweetness of the moment, and couldn’t stop smiling. He has been on board ever since and is probably the most excited about the whole thing. Yes, God answers prayers.

I, on the other hand, began to panic. On Friday morning, I wrote an e-mail saying that we wanted to proceed, but I could not press send. I started having second thoughts. I wondered how in the world we could manage, and how we would provide for all his needs, and most of all—how it would affect our kids. I went into a full-blown panic—and just felt terrified of the whole thing. I called my friend, Heather, who was going through her own adoption, and she said some words that I so needed to hear. She reminded me of the things I had said to reassure her when they were making their decision, and I started to feel better. Still, I couldn’t send that e-mail. Then Jeremy came home from work. I thought that if I told him I was scared, he would probably have second thoughts too, but he just kind of laughed at me and said, “Oh, just push send. You know it’s right.” I finally did, and the second I did was filled again with peace. Though I have at times been overwhelmed with the whole thing since (remember my post while in the hospital with Graci, about having a big family) that underlying peace has always stayed with me.

I know.

I know that He will provide a way.

I know that somehow, our kids will be blessed for the sacrifices they will make—and I know that there will be sacrifices.

I know that this sweet little boy is a child of a very loving, powerful Father in Heaven who wants him to have a home with as much love as we have.

I know that the Lord has this amazing way of stretching our hearts to fit one more—and in doing so gives us an increased capacity to love. That the love we have for others does not lessen when we bring another into our lives—but deepens and becomes more perfect.

I know that little Dang Xu Chu is ours. And I am SO grateful.

The first day that I saw his picture, I opened up my scriptures. I love to do this—to have something on my mind and open up the scriptures randomly and see what the Lord has to say to me. That day, I opened them up to this exact verse:

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” --Luke 4:18

That scripture spoke to me with such force. I will not post pictures here, but Chu Chu has a very large port wine stain on his hip, and what looks like bruising because of his vascular disorder. I felt like this scripture was reassuring me that Graci (broken-hearted), Elli (blind), and Chu Chu (bruised) were indeed all mine, and that the Lord would in time heal each of them.

To those of you who have offered words of excitement and encouragement, thank-you. It means so much to us to have the support of those we love. We can’t wait to introduce you to our new son and appreciate beyond words the love you will give him. We couldn’t do this without such amazing family and friends.


P.S. Yesterday I received an e-mail with lots of new pictures. ☺☺☺☺☺ I am including some of them here. We don’t want to post pictures of his bottom, but you can see his legs and feet. These pictures were taken when a group of doctors went to China on a mission trip. They fitted him with compression stockings to help with any pain he has. He is in a wheelchair because it’s a bit easier for him, but he does walk, can get up and down stairs, and even jumps on a trampoline. The hope is that the physical therapy he will get here will really increase his mobility.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I'm trying to put a family picture on our header, but I can't seem to move the words toward the bottom-- so as not to cover faces! Anyone know how to help me on this?

P.S. Yes, we consider Stitch a part of our family. (:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christmas part 1

There is no way for me to catch up on everything that's happened over the past month-- but I do want to at least post a bit about Christmas. It was perfect!!! On Christmas Eve we did our usual traditions-- acting out the nativity, listening to "A Christmas Carol," and opening "grand bags." The grand bag tradition started with Jer's dad, who every year would fill up a paper bag for each child with goodies and small gifts. When the kids were little and we shared Christmas day with the Jer's family, his dad would do a grab bag for us and each of our kids. Though in his family they are called "grab bags," our kids heard them as "grand bags" (because they were put together by grandpa) and the name has stuck. Now Jeremy puts together the grand bags and the kids LOVE LOVE LOVE them!

We also started what I hope becomes another Christmas Eve tradition-- we packed up the kids and drove to Thanksgiving Point to see their light display. I had been so busy all day that I didn't have time to put my Christmas Eve dinner together, so we stopped for Arby's. I think the kids were way more excited for Arby's than for my ham dinner, so I'm thinking that maybe we'll make that an annual thing-- so much less work for me! (: The lights were beautiful! You pay to go through, and you drive slowly through all kinds of fun displays with Christmas music playing. At one point, Graci asked, "Where's baby Jesus?" We had seen Christmas villages, Santa's workshop, animals, skiiers-- all kinds of stuff, but no nativity. Jeremy assured Graci that there would be a baby Jesus somewhere, but then we seemed to come to an end. There was a giant Santa waving goodbye and I can't even tell you how disappointed I felt! I was so sad that they had done such an elaborate Christmas display, yet missed the most important thing. BUT... I was wrong! We thought we were done, but then started driving through the most beautiful display ever. There were huge paintings-- ones I had never seen-- of each part of the nativity. Each picture was lit up and had a portion of the song "Were you there?" printed nearby. It was beautiful. I was choked up the whole way--- so grateful that Christ was remembered and that they had done such a beautiful job depicting his birth.

Christmas was a winter wonderland here-- we had a huge snowstorm here that made everything gloriously white and beautiful. It was so nice to be in our cozy home with our kids and lots of fun presents! The kids always sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve, and then they have to come in our room on Christmas morning so we can walk out to see the presents together. Before we look at presents, we all hold hands and sing "Silent Night" so we can try to focus our thoughts on what the presents are all about. Santa was good to us this year-- he brought a trampoline!!!! The kids were VERY excited-- and I'm very excited too! I think it will be so good for Elli, who LOVES to jump! It has a net, so it should be safe for her. I can't wait until Spring comes and we can get it set up!

There was one thing thing that made the presents particularly special this year. The kids have always bought gifts for each other-- usually at the dollar store so they can spend their own money. Well, last year we found that they really had particular presents in mind to buy each other-- and none of them were found at the dollar store! This year, we sat them down in October and made them a deal. We basically doubled the allowance they could earn up until Christmas, for the purpose of buying gifts for each other. They worked SO HARD in order to earn their extra money. Every day they cleaned their room, read their scriptures, did their homework, did a chore, practiced music, exercised and read for 20 minutes with hardly any reminding and NO complaining! I was amazed. During the month of December, I took each one out on a Mommy Date. We Christmas shopped for everyone in their family and they had SO MUCH FUN spending their hard earned money. I think each one spent about $80.00 buying for their siblings and parents-- and they put so much thought into each gift. I've never seen a Christmas so full of hugs as this one!!! I really think that they were more excited to give their presents than to receive. It was really neat. I know they didn't need to spend so much money to have it be so special-- but to them, the money represented time and love-- and it really seemed to bring them closer to each other.

The week following Christmas was spent at my parent's-- and it was wonderful! That will be part 2-- hopefully I'll get that done soon!


A few things from the slideshow:

There's a picture of a white nativity. I had set it out just so, until one day Jesi came running in to me and said, "Mommy! I fixed it! I fixed it so EVERYONE can see baby Jesus!" It was so sweet.

Elli's favorite two gifts were her "radio" from Grandma Rose and Grandpa Green and the yellow scarf given to her by her teachers-- she loved pulling it back and forth around her neck.

It was SO GOOD that Santa left a Stitch doll for Graci! Just two days before Christmas she decided that the most important thing Santa could bring for her was "Stitch stuff." She calls Stitch her boyfriend. Good thing Santa knew Graci well enough to know just what she would want. (:

More scotch tape fun...

I just logged on and saw Jer's entry about Parker taping the Ipod to his ears, and it reminded me of another fun picture. (: During the holidays, we tape our Christmas cards to our front door. One day, hoping to distract Jesi for a few minutes so I could get something done, I handed her a Christmas letter and asked if she would tape it up for me. I totally forgot about it until that night, when I found this--I had to laugh out loud!!

Rocking Out

Last summer when I took the kids on a road trip to Oregon, our main source of music for the ride was my iPod. The boys' favorite playlist was my collection of songs from the 80's. Ever since then the boys have gone around singing "We Built This City on Rock and Roll," and "Invisible Touch" and other favorites from my high school days. Today, Parker came up to me and asked if he could listen to my iPod. I said he could and gave it to him. He couldn't find the clunky old headphones we usually have him use, so he came back and asked if he could use my earphones. I let him. This being the first time he had tried earbuds, he couldn't get them to stay in. So he improvised...:) (That's scotch tape, in case you can't tell.)


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chocolate Girl

We were told a cute story tonight. A lady that we go to church with has two daughters. The oldest, Matty, is about 12, and the youngest, Hayden, just turned 3. Earlier this week, the girls were watching a children's program called "Brown Bear." This episode involved a visit to China. Matty asked Hayden: "Do you know anyone from China?" Hayden replied: "Graci." Matty asked: "What about Graci's little sister, Elli?" They talked a little about how Hayden had two friends named Elli and how one of them was blind. Hayden said something along the lines of: "The pink and white Elli isn't blind. The blind Elli is chocolate, like chocolate chips!"

So I guess we have two chocolate daughters. Christi and I quickly saw how apropos the comparison is for Elli. She's just like chocolate. Usually milk, occasionally semi-sweet, and once in awhile-bitter!:)