Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My New Boyfriend

Parker and Taylor have lately found great amusement and hilarity in leaving phone messages on our cell phones. Yesterday I got the following one from Parker:

"You're one HOT MAMA! Have I ever told you how much I LOVE you and how CUTE you are? And one more thing, will you go to the prom with me? (giggle giggle)"

Oh, the humor of an 8-year-old. (:

By the way, click on over to Elli's blog to see how well she is coming along!

More "Jesi-isms"

While reading a book about animal mothers and babies, I pointed to the pictures and said,


And then thinking that Jessica surely knew the answer to the next one, said, "Dog..."

She looked up at me with big eyes and a triumphant grin and answered, "doglet!"


After telling Jesi that yes, I would help her fix her hair, she replied,

"You will?! Oh, Mommy, you make Heavenly Father so happy! And you are such a kind, nice, beautiful person."


"Mom, I know how to shake my hips really good, huh? Do you just love it when I shake my hips?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just for fun:)

I forgot to put the following video with yesterday's post. I told you I was able to get a job pretty quickly. Well, this is how:

I also came across a rather hilarious ad starring 4 future hall of fame basketball coaches. Enjoy:)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beyond Blessed

So I've been waiting quite awhile to write this entry. With the pending adoption of Chu Chu, I was a little hesitant to follow up on my post of January 27. Since you probably don't remember, I was awake in the wee hours of the morning that day, nervous about the upcoming phone call that would let me know if I was to be one of the Pfizer employees who would be laid off. Well, I got the call, and I was laid off. It was an extremely humbling experience for me. First of all, I realized how very expendable I was. Secondly, I realized how quickly my employer could pull the proverbial rug out from under my family and me. We were going along with a comfortable income and lifestyle when all of the sudden they took that away from us. (To be fair, it was anything but all of the sudden. We knew layoffs were coming for at least a couple of months. Then, when I did get laid off, the severance package was ridiculously amazing. But in this economy, who knew when I would be able to get another job!) On top of the stress of wondering what I would do to support my family was added the uncertainty of how this might impact our adoption process with our new little guy.

A few months ago, Christi was reading in the scriptures and was pondering on the concept of "where much is given, much is required." It occurred to her at that time that the concept was also valid in reverse: "where much is required, much is given." Through the blessings that we call Taylor, Parker, Jesi, Elizabeth, Graci, and now Chu Chu, we have been given so much. But there are also certain unique things that are required of us. This is not to say that we have any more requirements or challenges than any other family. Yet the financial needs that come with adoption and a family of six children are not light. While we always felt that the Lord would take care of us, it was a bit scary not having a long-term source of income. Where much is required, much is given. Less than two months after I received my pink slip, I started another job. I am now employed by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals. I am doing virtually the same job. I didn't miss a single day of payroll, and I am receiving a substantial severance from Pfizer. Truly, we were blessed at this point. But here is where it gets ridiculous.

When I was first laid off, Christi and I were looking at our financial picture. Pfizer's severance would ensure that we would be OK for several months. However, the severance would be effectively decreased by $10,000. This is because Pfizer has an adoption assistance program which reimburses adoptive parents $10,000 once the adoption is final. Since our adoption of Chu Chu will not be final until long after my last day with Pfizer, they will no longer reimburse me for those expenses. We had obviously been planning on that $10,000 as a way to offset our adoptions costs, but it would no longer be available to us. Of course I was disappointed in this development, but had resigned myself to losing this reimbursement. Christi on the other hand, thought about things and said "Why don't you write an email to the CEO of Pfizer and ask if he will help with the adoption anyway. After all, we made all of our plans for financing this addition to our family while counting on this financial help and while you were still employed." OK. Sure. I'll just whip off an email to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (#47 in 2008) and ask him for $10,000. I'm sure he'll have the time to read it. And once he picks himself up off the floor from the fit of incredulous laughter, I'm sure he'll make the effort to respond to me. And then I'm sure he'll say, "yeah, the check's in the mail...and Elvis is delivering it!" But...I was once taught by a church leader to listen to my wife, since she's usually more in tune with the spirit than I am. (TRUE! TRUE! TRUE!) So I humbly followed Christi's counsel and wrote a letter to the CEO of Pfizer, Inc.

About two weeks later, I received the following reply:

Thank you for your note—and no need to call me Mr. Kindler, please call me Jeff.

It is very heartening to learn about your wonderful family. I have asked that we extend to you the $10,000 that is the maximum benefit under the policy so that your family can complete the adoption of Dang Xu Chu. You will be hearing from someone in HR soon.

Please accept my sincere thanks for your nine years of service to our company. I wish you and your family the very best.


So it was me who had to pick myself up off the floor. I was absolutely shocked. We of course sent a reply with our deep gratitude. Shortly after my last day at Pfizer, I received the money (unfortunately, no Elvis). Mr. Kindler had not only extended this incredible gift to our family, he actually grossed the check up-he paid our taxes on it! This was worth over $1000 more! How can I begin to express how grateful we are for these tremendous blessings? Indeed, we are truly Beyond Blessed.

We are also so blessed through the wonderful family and friends that we have. So many prayers have been and continue to be offered up on our behalf. We have felt the blessings from those prayers! Thank you, thank you, thank you. A couple of days ago, a very dear friend called me out of the blue. This is a guy I knew when I was a missionary in Thailand. We don't talk often enough. But it's the kind of friendship that doesn't require frequent communication. Whenever we do get in touch, we just pick up right where we left off. Anyway, his main purpose in calling was see if we needed any help with the adoption costs! I was so humbled that he would think of that, of us. He and his wife are not currently in a situation to adopt right now. But after reading our blog over the past several months and knowing I had been laid off, he called to see if they could help us. Again, what great friends and family we have!

One reason I have been hesitant to share this story is because I am a bit worried that the following message might be communicated: If our family is blessed because we received this financial help, then those who do not receive financial help are not blessed. THIS IS NOT TRUE! There are so many ways in which our Father in Heaven can bless His children. There are so many ways each of us are challenged and given opportunities to grow. What I do believe, even know, is that the challenges each of us receive are tailored to us. Each persons specific challenges will help them grow in the areas the Lord knows they need to grow. Although it is not easy to overcome our adversities, we will not be given more than we can handle. And as we work through whatever comes our way, we will become the individuals He wants us to become.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, sweet Chu Chu!

Today our little guy turned FOUR YEARS OLD! How we wish we could be with him, spoiling him rotten and eating lots of cake and ice-cream. It does make me feel better to know that our package likely arrived sometime this week-- possibly even today! I'm pretty sure that finding out you were getting a family would be a fun birthday surprise! (:(:(:(:

We do have some good news, too! Today our dossier was finally sent to CHINA! For those of you unfamiliar with the adoption process, this is a BIG STEP. We will be finding our LID (login date) soon, and then we can start the countdown to LOA (letter of acceptance) and TA (travel approval). Right now, the average wait time from LID to TA is 4-5 months. This is TOO LONG for our liking, so we are praying for it to go faster! Once you receive your TA, you usually travel within 2 weeks. We are REALLY wanting to travel this summer, so my parents can watch Elli and the boys (Graci and Jesi are going with us). My parents are both teachers, and it would be easier for them, and for my kids, if we could get back before school started in late August. Of course, more importantly than the convenience of summer travel is that our little guy is waiting for us and we are DYING to bring him home! It has been six months since we first saw his sweet little face on the waiting child list, and we don't want to wait another six!! So we're praying that the 4-5 months will be more like 2-3 months, and we know it can happen if it is His will.

So, our darling son,

Next year on this day you will wake up with your favorite breakfast brought to you in bed. The birthday song will be sung by your five adoring siblings, and your two very grateful parents. You will have gifts and cake and balloons. You will have a house full of friends at whatever kind of party you choose. You will smile and giggle and be hugged ferociously. You will be spoiled by grandparents, and high-fived by neighbors. But know, dear Chu Chu, you will not be loved any more then than you are right now by me. You may not be in our home yet, but you are in our hearts. Tonight I trust that our Heavenly Father will hold you, and stroke your cheek for me. That He will speak peace to your heart, and put a smile on your face. I pray He will give you dreams of this new family that will soon be yours. We miss you, we pray for you, and we love you.

Happy 4th Birthday-- your last one alone!

Your mommy

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fashion Show

Graci and Jesi are both in dance and will be in a recital in a couple of months. They just got their costumes for the performance. They both had photo sessions with their dance groups in the last two days. They got dolled up in make-up and curls. Wow are they beautiful! The photographers could not believe how gorgeous Graci is. Unfortunately, we forgot to take any of our own pics of Graci in her outfit, but we did get a few of Jess. What a doll!:) (And of course, when we started taking pictures of Jesi, Graci had to get in on the action, at least a little bit!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Care packages and Funky Hair

First of all, going back to my post 2 days ago, I was told that I sounded a little bitter. This is one of the problems of blogging-- sometimes the tone of the message does not come across as it is meant. If you could see my body language and hear my voice, you would know that it wasn't written with any bitterness. They were just honestly things that are a concern to me because my children hear them so often, and I want them to feel very secure in their position in our family. My friend, Kim, added a couple of points on her blog (click here). One thing that I want to reiterate is how much I love the birthparents of Elli, Graci, and Chu Chu. It hurt so much when I first realized that Graci hadn't been taught how much they must have loved her to give her a chance to be adopted. You can be assured that we speak VERY highly of them. Birthparents are amazing people who show the purest love there is by making a plan for their children to be adopted. She loves to have me tell her over and over about how in heaven, she will get to see ALL of her parents whenever she wants (birthparents, foster parents, and us)!

On another note, it's been awhile since I've written about our little Chu Chu. I suppose that this is because I have become very frustrated with the SLOWNESS of the adoption process, and sometimes even thinking about it just gets my blood boiling. I am trying very hard to turn it over to the Lord and not let it get to me, but I'm not succeeding at that very well. Because of the Hague Convention, the adoption process has changed this time around. We had to get different paperwork done (including a police clearance from THAILAND because Jeremy spent time there as a missionary before we were even married)! The kinks in the new process have not all been worked out, and we are finding ourselves a little overwhelmed at how everything seems to take a lot longer than is needed. Just last week we found out about another problem with our dossier, and another added step for all the families who are adopting under the new rules. When we first decided to adopt again, it looked like we would be traveling in June. Now I think we would find ourselves very lucky to go in August. It's so difficult when you have these precious pictures of a child you already love and there is nothing you can do to speed the process. AGH.

Still, I am trying to dwell on the good-- and we did have something fun happen last week! We sent Chu Chu his first package!! We had permission to do this last fall, but we decided to wait until it was closer to the time we would get him. He is so young, and we know it will already seem like forever between the time he learns of us until the time we travel to get him. But we couldn't put it off much longer and had so much fun putting together this little care package:

The package will be his way of finding out that he is to be adopted. Can you imagine hearing that? We've asked Graci what it was like for her, and it is precious to hear her talk about. We sent him an album with lots of fun family pictures, and also letters from each of us. We also sent a shirt, camera, toy car, treats just for him, and treats to share with his friends. I am so excited for him to get it!!!!!! As for his name, we are still undecided. Someone made a comment on a previous post that we should consider keeping his Chinese name. We have found through research and lots of adoption classes that children adopted from other countries usually prefer to get a new name. It can give them a sense of a fresh start, and also make them feel more a part of their new family and culture. With Graci, we gave her the option of going by her Chinese name, Chun Ling, or the name we chose for her, Graci Kate. At first, she preferred Chun Ling, but gradually decided on Graci. I think that had something to do with her being frustrated at the way Jessica pronounced it "ching-a-ling!" We will of course give Chu Chu the same option. By the way, his name is Dang Xu Chu, but we understand he probably goes by Chu Chu, just as Graci went by Ling Ling (at least with her foster family) and Elli went by Hui Hui (pronounced Hway Hway). Anyway... if you have any other great ideas for names for this little darling of ours, feel free to share, as we still can't quite seem to find the perfect one.

Changing subjects, the older kids had crazy hair day at their school last week. The boys were set on having "Y"s in their hair, and because Jeremy couldn't find any blue hair dye (kids from the school had raided all the nearby stores) he put blue food coloring in white gel. I was a little worried about it coming out, but it wasn't a problem.

The best part was when Jeremy painted a "Y" on his own hair and went and surprised them for lunch. I don't think that dads come better than that. He's not doing too bad as a husband either-- last night we began "Pride and Predjudice" with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and he is actually excited to watch more of it with me tonight! What a great guy! (:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We love Ferron!

We spent the weekend in Ferron with my parents and had such a good time! It is always so good to go home. I think myself very lucky to have a husband who would suggest going to his in-laws for the weekend!! He loves it there as much as I do. The kids had fun going on "adventures" (exploring around Grandpa's farm). We packed a picnic and drove to see some Indian writings, and the kids had a great time hiking the red cliffs. They also loved playing ping pong, putting together an erector set, playing board games, cooking with Grandma, getting ice-cream from Gilly's, and of course, watching March Madness. (:

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for making it so much fun to bring our family there-- we love you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Real Parents

Several days ago I was at a meeting and we were discussing the background of a girl who had been adopted. At one point, the comment was made, "...and then her real mom..." She was of course referring to the biological mother of this girl. The woman who made this comment is the sweetest in the world-- and I knew that she didn't understand how that comment could be hurtful-- so I didn't say anything. But that comment kept going over and over in my mind... "And then her REAL mom..."

Which leads me to writing this post. I know that there are many of you out there that may not be sure what terminology is or isn't appropriate when talking about adoption. And if you have said the wrong thing in the past, be sure to know that most people are very understanding and know your intent. I have had many comments from AMAZING, WONDERFUL people who just didn't know the right thing to say, as I'm sure I have done many times in my life.

So, here are some suggestions:

#1. Never use the term "real" when discussing a birthparent. As Jeremy said it to me well, "If you are not Elli's real mom, then who in the world is?" When referring to a child's birthparents, they should be called just that-- "birthparents." They can also be referred to as biological parents or even first parents. An adoptive parent can be called "adoptive parent," "forever parent," or just "parent!" The term "real" takes away from the very realness of an adoptive family. Now, I can assure you that we hold the birthparents of our adopted children in the absolute highest regard. They are sacred to me, and I will one day fall at their feet for allowing me the joy of raising the children that they weren't able to. I cannot even begin to express my love for them. Yes, they are very "real," but so are the parents who feed and change and love and adore and take care of and cuddle and do everything for these children. Calling one parent "real" makes the other parent "unreal," if that makes sense.

#2. Suggestion #1 also applies when referring to adopted children. It is very uncomfortable when people ask, "Are they your real children?" Well, of course they are! I'm never quite sure how to answer this question without making the asker look or feel stupid. An adoptive child is absolutely just as real as a biological child. To differentiate makes the child seem "less."

#3. Suggestion #1 also applies to siblings. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked, "Are they real sisters?" This is, of course, in reference to Graci and Elli. I am very aware that what the asker is really wanting to know is if they are biological siblings. So I usually answer, "They are not biological sisters, no." I am always tempted to follow up with, "But they are very real sisters, yes!" I have never done this, however, as I hate uncomfortable situations and I wouldn't want to make someone feel bad. Still, a person should realize that asking if siblings are "REAL" especially in the presence of the children, is not the appropriate thing to do. Graci is Elli's real sibling in every sense of the word-- she loves her and takes care of her and teaches her and adores her and will be her sister forever.

#4. Avoid the question, "Do you have any children of your own?" Well, yes! THESE (adopted) children are my own! A better way to ask this is, "Do you have any biological children?" Again, I know that people have no ill intention when saying something like this, but you have to think of how an adopted child would feel when hearing this question.

#5. If you want to know how much adoption costs, by all means ask-- especially if it's because you are interested in adoption. However, try to avoid posing it this way: "How much did she cost?" HELLO! This makes a child feel as if a price tag could be put on them. The first time I was asked this I was completely speechless. I finally came up with the answer, "Well, adopting from China generally costs around $20,000, but she is priceless!"

#6. When asking more in-depth questions about adoption, try not to do it when the children are listening. For example, Graci seems to feel uncomfortable when the question is asked, "Why didn't you adopt from America?" A better way to ask this would be, "What led you to adopt from China?" But even better, ask it when it is an adult conversation. Most of the time, adopted children just want to feel the same as everyone else and not have the conversation focused around their adoption.

#7. Unless you have a good reason to ask, don't question the background of a child before they were adopted. If you do have reason to ask, do it without the child around. I can't count the times that people have said things like, "How could her parents just abandon her?" and "Does she remember her "real" parents?" right in front of Graci! These are very personal issues, and can make a child question things that they shouldn't have to question. We have been very open with Graci about her life prior to adoption, and she has slowly let us in on her memories and her past. However, she has opened up with a great deal of trust in us. We don't share her early history lightly-- in fact, I have only talked about it with VERY close family. Asking questions like, "Where was she living before you adopted her?" is fine. We would tell you that she was abandoned when she was five, put in an orphanage for a brief time, then placed with very wonderful foster parents, who we lovingly refer to as "China Mommy and Daddy." Unless you are a very good friend or close family member or have really sincere questions about adoption, I would not probe further. If you do probe, don't do it with the child around.

Of course, this is a very humble opinion from just ONE adoptive mother. I assure you that I do know that virtually every comment that could be construed negatively was meant with the best of intention. A person does not usually mean to put their foot in their mouth! (: I would much rather have someone ask a question with the wrong words than not dare ask a question at all, and I am very grateful for those who enjoy talking to me about adoption. (:(:

A very real mother to some very real kids of my own!

Oh, and since I'm on a roll, it is more politically correct to refer to Chinese children as "Chinese" or "Asian," not "Oriental." (Though this actually isn't something that bothers me, just thought I'd put it out there).

PS. This is now Jeremy. My favorite way to differentiate the kids is to say I have three homemade and two from China:)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Without question, Jessica's favorite food is Cinnamon Toast Crunch. If that's not available, good old-fashioned cinnamon toast is a close second. Yesterday, she was watching a show on TV. A commercial came on and she called Christi in and said, "Mommy, this is so funny!" You can see the commercial here:

As Jesi watched it, she giggled and giggled. It's cute to see your kids grow up enough to figure out humor. And if you ever want to make Jesi's day, get her a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch:)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Because I said so!

I looked down the hallway and saw Jessica pushing with all her might against the boys' bedroom door, which was shut tight and evidently being obstructed by one of the boys on the inside. "Jesi," I said. "We don't push on doors." "But I want to go in!" "Why do you want to go in?" I asked. "Because I want to give them a love and a kiss." (This is a somewhat standard answer when Jesi is trying to avoid getting in trouble.) "Jesi," I replied, "if someone wants you to stay out of their room, you have to stay out of their room." "NO!" she said. "No is not an option," I replied. "Yes it is a option!" she countered. Knowing that she had no idea the meaning of the word, I asked: "Jesi, what's an option?" Her answer? "No is a option!" Simple logic, no?

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to get your kids out the door on time...

Last night as Parker was going to bed, he asked if he could jump on the trampoline before school. We said that if he could get all ready first, it would be fine. Usually we are rushed getting off to school at 8:10, but this morning Jeremy awoke at 7 a.m. to the sight of Parker jumping on the trampoline. It was just getting light, but there he was-- hair combed, backpack on and everything! We definitely started the day with smiles on our faces-- we love you, Parker!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brave Woman

Today as we were getting ready for church, Christi called to me from in front of our bathroom mirror. As I walked in she asked, "Are you impressed?" I looked at what she was doing. Amazingly, she was curling Elli's hair! Like with a CURLING IRON! Yes, this is the same Elli that so many of you have met. The Elli who doesn't let you do anything to her or for her unless she is in the perfect mood. The Elli who, pound for pound, is stronger than anyone I know. But there she was, patiently letting Christi curl her ebony tresses. That was a miracle unto itself. And can I just tell you how DARLING my precious daughter was when mama got through with her? (Sadly, we didn't think to take any pictures.)

Elli is truly having miracles occur in her life. She is such a joy to our family. Tonight it was her turn to say family prayer. When she prays, she will either repeat a phrase Christi has whispered in her ear or complete a phrase that Christi begins. Tonight, she not only completed several phrases very clearly, but she also started some new phrases on her own. She is coming along so well. Our friend, Teri, responded to a previous post in a way that puts it perfectly: "Elli has learned that language is useful and that is the BEST indicator for her continued learning of vocabulary (simple naming) and pragmatics (the use of language).Doing the happy dance here in FLA for your darling ELLI!!! She has had her "water" moment (ever seen "The Miracle Worker?" If not, rent it!). :~)" Elli really has learned that language is useful, that's words represent something that she wants to communicate. It is an interesting thing to see this concept unfold in slow motion for a person. Most kids pick up this concept so quickly and utilize it so rapidly that you never notice the process that was required as they were learning how to communicate. With Elli, it's all in slow motion, and we are really appreciating the miracle of communication as we see her progress.

As previously mentioned in this space, our Taylor is the most grateful kid in the world. This morning I spent a couple of hours reviewing his Bear Cub Scout requirements with him. We planned out what he needs to do to receive this award and several arrows prior to his 10th birthday. When we were done, he turned to me and gave me the strongest hug and said: "Thank you Dad, for doing all this stuff with me!" No better reward in the world:)


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Trampoline Fun

Santa brought us a trampoline this year and today seemed the perfect day to put it up. It was beautiful outside, so Jeremy had all the kids come out and help him while I did some cleaning inside. It was a big job-- I think it took four hours or so. The kids were all so eager to help and had so much fun. Taylor kept saying, "I'm so proud of us!" At one point, Parker got a little frustrated about something and Jeremy said, "Hey, I got you this trampoline..." to which Parker immediately replied, "No you didn't-- Santa did!" Oops! The trampoline is 14 feet in diameter and has a net-- perfect for our Elli. She LOVED it! All the kids did! It was wonderful to see them so excited about it--they didn't stop smiling all day. (: I am so glad to have something that Elli can play safely on outside without constant supervision. We often call her "Tigger" because she loves to jump and bounce! It will be great for days we're working in the yard or garden and has made me so excited for Spring/Summer!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alta! (:

I have a FABULOUS excuse for not blogging yesterday! My wonderful husband surprised me with an overnight date last night!! He arranged for my sister-in-law, Megan, (THANK-YOU, Megan) to watch the kids, and then took me to a nice dinner, hotel, and today-- SKIING!! We haven't been for probably 6-7 years, and it was SO MUCH FUN! We looked EXACTLY like the guy in this picture...

Well, ok-- maybe not that cool. But Jeremy did have me skiing pretty fast (at least for me) by the end of the day. We stayed on blue diamonds (intermediate skiing) and just had the most absolutely perfect time together. There wasn't a cloud in the sky-- it was breathtaking. I am in awe of the beauty of our Utah mountains. The picture above was taken at Alta, where we were skiing. We are so blessed to live in such a magnificent place.

I will admit that my legs are currently the consistency of jello. I doubt I'll be able to get out of bed tomorrow, but hey-- it was worth it. Thank-you, Jer! Thank-you, Megan and Matthew!!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

He's given us Disneyland...

I’m finally getting around to journaling about our fabulous DISNEYLAND trip! Several weeks ago, Jeremy won a contest at work that gave him a $1,500 travel card!! He had some time off work, so we decided to surprise the kids with a drive down to Disney. I should mention that when Graci was still in China, we sent her some pictures of our family at Disneyworld. Apparently, she thought that was a common event in our family, and the day we met her she promptly told the guide, “Tell them I want to go to Disneyland and McDonalds.” (: We explained that Disneyland was very expensive and that it would be awhile (not to mention that she needed her heart fixed first). She hasn’t been too happy with us regarding the matter, so you can imagine her joy when we packed up the van, checked them out of school early, and announced that we were on our way to Disneyland! Such precious memories. We had three full days at Disney and Disney’s California Adventure. The weather was perfect! We had been worried about how Elli would do with all of the driving and disruption of schedule, but she was WONDERFUL! She was so happy and loved all the rides. And, thanks to her, we were able to bypass many of the long lines. Because she is blind (and essentially autistic) they let us use the fastpass lane for every ride and count her stroller as a wheelchair. Thank-you, Elli! Because of this we were able to do in three days what we might have done in five. She LOVED most of the rides—especially the big rollercoasters. Our family’s favorite ride was “Soarin’.” We went on it several times and it was so fun to see Elli get so excited and giggle each time. She even braved “The Tower of Terror” and was totally laughing on it. Fun, fun times. I think one of the cutest moments came when Jesi asked to go on "Little Word" again. (: The highlight of the trip for Graci was on Friday, where Dad had lined up a special surprise just for her. He surprised her by taking her on a “Daddy date” to eat breakfast with—you guessed it—Stitch! She’s still talking about it!

My favorite part of the entire trip was how grateful our Taylor was. Probably at least five or six times a day he would come up to me and give me a hug or hold my hand and say, “Thanks, Mom. You are the best EVER!” He was so sweet and so patient and wonderful, even when we were doing things for the younger kids. The other kids were very good too, but Taylor was just particularly grateful. Later on, I was telling my sister, Becky, about how one of our other darling children had a few complaining moments and I was just like, “Come on!!!! You are at DISNEYLAND!! Do you even get how blessed you are?” As I told her this, she responded with a very wise thought. She said, “I wonder if that’s how Heavenly Father feels about us sometimes. He gives us so much and we focus on the negative.” I have thought so much about that since then. Truly, our Father in Heaven has given us Disneyland! I mean, really—our life is Disneyland! We have the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have a beautiful home, we have enough money to pay the bills and some left over for fun family things, we have absolutely incredible children, we have freedom—we have so very much! He has given us the time of our lives, and it’s so easy to complain about not going on the ride we wanted, or that our feet hurt, or that we want another churro and it costs too much. I’m not sure if I’m explaining well what I mean, but I guess what it comes down to is that I have been reminded what a blessed life I lead. And that my Father would probably like to know that I appreciate it. That He won’t tire of hearing it many times a day. Thank-you, our darling first-born, for your sweet example and reminder of how we should be.

On another note, that same sweet boy sure caused us some grief on the drive home! (: It was very late, maybe one in the morning, and we still had over an hour to go. Jessica had just made a big mess that we had to pull over and take care of. As soon as we got back on the road, Taylor woke up crying and saying that his head was hurting. We gave him some Ibuprofen, but he was still upset. Then we heard the most horrible sound… You guessed it—he had thrown up, EVERYWHERE. I mean, he was covered in it, the van was covered, the leapsters and toys and games on the floor were covered. It was indescribable. Should I mention that Taylor had just had a Subway sandwich with extra pickles? I looked over at Jeremy and could tell he was “that close” to losing it. There would be no help from him. So we pulled over and I got out of the van to see what I could do. It was freezing cold outside and we didn’t have our coats, we’re on the side of the freeway entrance, and I’m thinking, “Where do I even start?” I finally had him take off his clothes and just put a blanket over the whole mess so I could deal with it later. He handed me an empty box of Cap’n Crunch that had throw-up on it. I asked Jeremy just what I was supposed to do with it, and we decided we would have to drive and find a garbage. I was trying to be good by not just leaving it on the side of the road. My reward for not littering? As I held it in my lap, I soon realized that there was throw-up INSIDE the box, and it was leaking all over my pants. I wanted to scream—in fact, I probably did. It was all such a nightmare—we were so tired and the van smelled so awful and it felt like we would never make it home! In fact, I think by the time I cleaned everything up that night and crawled into my bed, it was past four a.m. Fun, fun. Still, I smile thinking of it and it was a small price to pay for such an amazing trip. (And it didn’t hold a candle to what we had to deal with from Elli later that week, but that’s a different story…) (: (: (:


Monday, March 9, 2009

As a kid I couldn't read enough. I LOVED books (still do). It is a very satisfying thing to see my two boys become avid readers at their young ages. Taylor is an absolutely voracious reader. A year ago, I bought him a set of about 8 books by Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). He read all of them in two days! He's since reread most of them a couple of times. He's read Trumpet of the Swan probably four times. He just loves to read. Parker doesn't love books on the level Taylor does, but he is still way more into reading than most kids his age. One of my favorite things is when either of them delve into and enjoy a book that was a favorite of mine when I was a kid.

A couple days ago, I introduced Taylor to a series of books by an author named Gordon Korman. They are light, humorous books about a couple of boys attending a boarding school in Canada. As a kid, I thought they were the funniest books ever. Taylor apparently agrees. In two days he has read a couple hundred pages. Usually in the morning, he is the last kid up. He enjoys his beauty rest. But this morning, he got up early enough to get all ready for school and set the table by 7:30AM so he could read more of these books. I love it:)

Another set of books I enjoyed as a kid was a huge collection called "Best in Children's Stories." Each book has several stories in it, ranging from historical accounts of the pilgrims on the Mayflower to poetry to Puss in Boots. I had these in a box downstairs until this weekend. Parker has started reading them and is loving it. The shorter stories are more in line with what he likes as a reader. But it really is fun to see both boys following in dad's footsteps in a good way like this.

Saturday, we started putting up some shelves in the boys' room. The first thing we did was move the bunk bed so we could have access to the wall behind it. (The shelves were going to be up high to display trophies, etc. Well, to make a long story short, we didn't get any of the shelves up on Saturday, but we did buy and assemble a new bunk bed! (We knew we would need one that was "twin over full" when Chu Chu arrives, and we had already taken the old one somewhat apart to move it away from the wall, and why go to the trouble of re-assembling it when we would have to change it out within three months, etc.) So now the boys have a new, cool bunk bed that they love. Maybe we'll do the shelves this weekend...


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dummy daddy

So I must admit it is totally my fault that yesterday's post did not occur. I was working on the computer at about 9:30 when Christi came in and said she was exhausted and had to blog right then. I was in the middle of a tax project and wanted to stay focused, so I promised her that I would post an entry before I went to bed. Well, as you all know, that didn't exactly happen. I totally spaced it. Nice job, Jer. But we are both going to post today, so we'll still average one post a day:)

What to write about? I don't know. Life is just so crazy these days. Today we got our dossier off. It is now up to our agency to translate it into Chinese and send it to China. That will be followed by 2-3 months of waiting for China to give us permission to to get him. We're very excited.

The other night Christi and I watched the 1950 version of Father of the Bride. I must admit that as a dad with three daughters, it made me a little nervous. Hopefully the economy has a substantial recovery in the next 10-15 years!!! It's really fun to the relationship between Graci and the other kids continue to blossom and grow. They are becoming very close. It's fun to hear them all giggling as they play some game downstairs or run around and chase each other.

This evening I went to Jesi's dance class and watched the last 20 minutes. Talk about precious. She is so darling. She's a couple of steps behind everyone else, but seems oblivious to the fact. When she noticed I was there, she kept turning around and waving at me with a huge grin on her face. And that, my friends, was worth whatever trousseau I may have to provide some day!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Out of the mouth of Jesi

(By the way, I've been posting more on Elli's site: miraclesforelli.blogspot.com)

After reminding Jesi for the third or fourth time to do her chores:

"Mom, we had a police officer come to our school."

"Oh, yeah?"

"Yes, and he told us that we should always have a buddy."

"Mmmm Hmmm."

"So I need a buddy to clean my dress-ups with me!"


"Mommies and Daddies are different."

"Yes, they are different. What's different about them?"

"Well, like Daddies go to work and work on their computer."

"Mmmm Hmmm. And what do Mommies do?"

long pause

"Mommies wear bras and put make-up on."


After having been nicely asked to be quiet SEVERAL times by Jeremy (we were trying to have the kids sleep on a road trip), he finally sternly said, "JESSICA! STOP TALKING!"

A few minutes of silence and then in a beautiful, sweet SINGING voice:

"It's my choice! I can make my own choices!"