Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31, 2010

Dear 6:30 a.m.,

You came too soon. It was such a good dream…

A girl who loves her bed

Dear 8:00 a.m.,

Lunches packed—check.
Folders signed—check.
Backpacks ready-check.
Hair braided—check.
Kids looking spiffy—check.
Breakfast fed—check.
Prayers said-check.
Myself looking presentable for carpool—

Looks like you came too early as well.

One scary looking mom

Dear mothers of kindergarteners,

When you sign up to make playdough for the class, be sure to have your husband around. You’ll need the extra help stirring the big pot of dough as it starts to thicken and your arm starts to fall off. Also, add the food coloring BEFORE the dough thickens. That way it won’t be all streaky and weird-looking and you won’t feel embarrassed when you drop it off to the teacher.

A fellow mother

Dear kindergarten class,

Thank-you for letting me visit today. You were so quiet and good as I read the story about things that make us unique and special. I love that you smiled and oohed and ahhed when I brought Xander up to show his “muscles” off. I love that when he showed his “peace toes,” several of you said, “COOL!” I loved how you nodded your heads solemnly when I asked if you would stick up for Xander if anyone ever teased him about his legs or his special stockings. I am so glad for sweet kids like you!

A grateful mommy

Dear Dr. Daynes,

You are my favorite pediatrician. You always make me feel like you really do care about my family. Because of your son’s autism, you can relate to us in ways that other doctors cannot. I am grateful for that! Thank you for being so patient with Elli during her kindergarten check-up. Thanks for being so kind when I had to run home and get Elli’s Chinese immunization card and took forever finding it. Thanks for knowing that it would take three nurses to hold Elli down for her shots—and for being so kind and understanding about her screams. You do not have my permission to move. Ever.

A happy patient

Dear CCAI,

We were so thrilled to receive our LOA for Dang Qing Yin today!!! Woo-hoo!!!! You have been tremendous throughout this whole process. Thank you for always making us feel like you are cheering for us!!

A family very excited to go back to China!

Dear Elli,

Next time you tell me you want a frosty, and I drive all the way to Wendy's to get you one, maybe you should eat it instead of throwing it. And maybe tomorrow we could work on eating lunch in less than an hour. Just a thought.


Dear Garden,

You are providing us with lots of yummy food!!! I especially loved the potatoes, carrots and onions we ate yesterday—mmmmm!! You’ve been patient with our lack of weeding. I had planned to fix that today but was only able to spend approximately 3.5 minutes with you before getting an urgent call that I needed to overnight a check for our adoption. Luckily, my kids took over—and you are looking spiffy.

A veggie-lover

Dear US Department of Homeland Security,

Are you kidding me? An extra $670 because we are adopting two at once? Hello?!!! We’re already approved for two—and I know that there isn’t all kinds of extra work involved for you. I mean, really, how much can one more sheet of paper cost?

Apparently, $670.

Sincerely (not love),
Fed-up with our government’s role in making adoption cost so much and take so long

Dear UPS Store,

When you advertise that the pick-up time for overnight delivery is 5:30, you should abide by it. That way, when a customer shows up at 5:23 and you tell them that the truck left 10 minutes ago, they won’t feel like screaming. Or crying. And telling them that there is another store just 25 minutes away that has pick-up at 6:00 probably won’t make them feel better, because HOW ARE THEY TO TRUST THAT THAT PICK-UP WASN’T EARLY TOO?

I’m thinking that maybe you ought to pay for the dinner I ended up buying my family after getting stuck in rush hour traffic while driving to a fed-ex location across the valley. And the clothes I ended up buying at Seagull Book while I waited for my dinner order to be ready. After all, if you had really had a pick-up at 5:30 like you said, we would be almost $100 richer!

Ok, I’m just kidding. Kind-of.

Someone who just wants to bring her kiddos home

Dear Jeremy,

This is the first time you’re hearing about the clothes from Seagull Book. Try to love me anyway.

A girl who loves a cute skirt!

P.S. Before you get after me, you should know that in my bag of clothes is a Utah Toffee Truffle just for you! (:
P.P.S. Thank-you for taking all three older kids to the orthodontist today. You are such a good man!

Dear Taylor,

You were a champ for taking care of Elli’s diaper today. I had no idea that when Parker said she had leaked that it meant what it meant. I’m not sure how you stood the smell. I thought I was going to pass out when I came in the house. You scored extra points with me!


Dear Massaman Curry,

I think you may be my favorite food EVER! I think you were worth the whole mailing-hassle. Especially when you add in the cute skirt.

A fan

Dear Graci, Taylor, Parker, Jesi, Xander, and Elli,

I am so proud of you! I couldn’t ask for better children. I love that you belong to ME!


Dear Dang Ling You and Dang Qing Yin,

We are itching to get you in our arms!! We feel so much closer now that we have that second LOA. It’s looking like we might be spending Thanksgiving with you in China! Oh, and guess what-- we have finally decided on your American names!! We hope that you will love them. They are:

Alexis Li and Sophia Breanne

Beautiful names for beautiful girls. We can’t wait to meet you!

Your new family

Dear self,

Next time when you fold a big load of laundry in the hallway, try not to become distracted before it is put away. That way, you will avoid folding it twice.

The voice of reason

Dear commenters,

Thank you for your sweet thoughts about my post on Elli's blog. It's always hard to open up and share personal things and you make me glad that I do.

The author

Dear kitchen floor,

What is making you sooo sticky?! And why do I hate to mop so much??!!

I just want a maid!

And finally,
Dear 10:30 p.m.

You will be here in fourteen minutes! That means I will soon be cuddled up with my sweetie watching a rerun of Dick Van Dyke and settling into a peaceful night’s sleep.

Well, until one of the kids wakes up.

I love you!

A girl who loves her bed

Oh, and I'm adding just one more!

Dear Readers,

Please consider going to this site: http://beadingtochina.blogspot.com/
and bidding on some items to help my amazing friend, Holly, adopt her little girl.

Someone who knows how expensive adoption is

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Elli and Graci update

I finally put a new post up on Elli's website: www.miraclesforelli.blogspot.com

Also, I promised to write about Graci's cardiology appointment. Her ECHO showed some improvement in one area, but mostly looked about the same. Her cardiologist consulted with other doctors on her "team" and they decided to start her on a new blood pressure medication. They were worried about some side effects and were struggling a bit as to whether the benefits outweighed the risks, but she began it today and seemed to tolerate it well. So that's good! She will go back in six weeks for another ECHO and EKG and he will decide whether or not to "allow" her to go to China. That's where we stand...


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I smell good!

Parker and Taylor are now old enough to wear deodorant. They have for some time now. Parker is particularly fascinated with this concept. He often pulls out his shirt neckline so he can smell himself...for better or for worse. Today he came in and said, "I love musk! And sports talc! (Which, by the way, Taylor pronounces "Sports Talk":) Do you like Musk? Here, smell me." And of course he pulled out his neckline so I could bask in his glorious scent. Then he asked, "Do you like fresh?" "I don't know, I guess I'm ok with most deodorants." So he ran into his room and came back with the "Fresh" scented deodorant and shoved it in my face for me to judge for myself.

I guess these smells are better than the ones that Elli sometimes shares with us...:)


Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote of the day

After Xander complained to me that Jesi wasn't being nice, I called her in to ask what was going on. She replied, "Mom, it's nothing to worry about. It was just a little mistake. You see, I just forgot to use my brain for a second."

Don't we all...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rewards of Fatherhood

Today was crazy. It ended with a 7:00pm block party with the neighborhood. We visited with the adults and the kids played with each other. It was quite fun. We all got back to our home at different times. About 10:30pm I decided it was time to help Jesi get to bed. She was downstairs watching TV and usually I would just call down for her to come up. But I felt prompted to go down and talk to her in person instead. What a rewarding experience!

She was just finishing up an episode of Dragon Tails. I scooped her up in my arms and sat down with her to watch the end of the episode. When it was finished, we turned off the TV and I held her close and talked to her. I told her how wonderful she was and how much I loved her. I told her how important she was to our family. I was pretty much done, but she looked up into my eyes and said, "Is there anything else you want to talk about?" If you know our family very well, you know that Jessica has me pretty well wrapped around her little finger. So of course we continued our talk for quite some time. I told her how important she was to me and how I would be lost without her. I again told her how important she was to our family, and she asked for specifics. I enumerated many of the ways she blesses our lives. The whole time she was just soaking it all up.

We talked about the new school year (she starts 1st grade on Monday). We talked about how much fun it will be. She wanted to know why she couldn't sit with her siblings at lunch, and I explained it was just the rules at Providence Hall. She looked at me and said, "And if you don't follow the rules, you have to go to (the rest was whispered very quietly) Mr. Johnson's office." Mr. Johnson is the principle, and she has obviously learned that it is not a good thing to be sent to his office! I asked her if she knew anyone who had been sent to Mr. Johnson's office. She said, "Joe (name changed:) got sent to (whispering again) Mr. Johnson's office." Regular voice: "Don't worry, I NEVER get sent to (whispers) Mr. Johnson's office!" Good for you, Jesi:) By the way, Mr. Johnson happens to be the nicest, sweetest principal ever, making her comments even more funny.

At one point in our conversation she told me: "Dad, you have no idea how much I love you. My heart would break if I didn't have my Daddy." AWWWWW. Come on, it doesn't get much sweeter than that.

Every night before bed we have family prayer and scriptures. Each child has one day a week during which they say all of the prayers and are in charge of family scriptures. Saturday is Xander's day. Tonight for scriptures he chose the story of Noah and the ark. The little kids love this scripture story because of how we tell it. When we talk about having two of each animal on the ark, each family member gets to choose one animal that Noah would have taken, and then all of us act like that animal. Graci always chooses Tiger (born in the year of the Tiger). Taylor usually chooses cougar (BYU mascot). Other favorites are cow, monkey, frog, cat, dog, etc. At the end of the scripture story, the person who's day it is gets to share their testimony of the Gospel. Tonight, Xander's testimony was one of the sweetest things I've ever heard. He had a hard time starting out, so I helped him with his first sentence. Then, on his own, he said, in his sweet little voice, "I know Jesus loves us. I know Jesus will come down to earth. I know our family can be together." As he said these three beautiful truths, his little eyes started to fill with tears. I picked him up and him gave me the longest, most heartfelt embrace. With tears streaming down his face, he did the same to Christi. He is such a sensitive little guy. It is a great thing to witness your children feeling the spirit and responding to it.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Caribbean continued... otherwise entitled "The Longest Post Ever"

Dear Jeremy,

You asked me to take over writing about the rest of our trip. I hope it’s ok that I’m doing it in letters. I’m just kind of in the mood.

Your honey

P.S. You need to get that Harley out of your sweet little head.

Dear Teresa,

When we came into your store to get the alterations done for Graci’s dress, Grace couldn’t keep her eyes off the sparkling tiaras. You must have noticed because you brought Graci one that had been slightly broken and told her that we could take it to a jeweler to get fixed and she could have it! I thought it was so sweet of you, but didn’t realize until later that it was a $250 tiara! WOW. That was so extremely generous of you. You should know that when we took it to get fixed and they heard Graci’s story that they did it for free. People are so good. I also want you to know that Graci LOVED wearing it, and it set off her dress perfectly. The night that she wore it to dinner, I heard more than one little girl exclaim, “Look, it’s another princess!”

A grateful mom

Dear Snow White,

We are convinced you are the real thing! Your voice, your charm, your mannerisms—you were perfect! And we found it very “princessy” that you would take time to visit the kid’s club and teach the children to do-si-do. Jessica especially loved that. And you are now Xander’s #1 top favorite princess—pretty cool!

A family who adores you

Dear Tiana,

You are my Graci’s new favorite princess. Thank you for taking so much time to talk to her. Thank-you for remembering her each time she came back to see you. You will be happy to know that she now has a porcelin replica of you sitting on her dresser (from her sweet Daddy). (:

Someone who needs to go out and see your movie

Dear Cinderella,

I am so sorry that Xander experienced stage fright and couldn’t make himself get down on one knee. It would have been a perfect photo-op, but I still think the one we got was pretty darn cute.

The mother of a prince

Dear Belle,

You are beautiful! We loved hearing you sing in the musical. I want your dress.

A princess wannabe

Dear Nassau,

I would love to spend a week getting to know you a bit better. As it is, I fell in love with your charm and beauty. Loved your people. Loved your beaches. Didn’t love your heat and humidity. (Just look what happened when we pulled the camera out of the bag!) I definitely want to visit you again, but next time I’ll try to come when it’s a bit cooler.

A fan

Dear Atlantis Aquarium,

Thank-you for giving us a discount upon finding out we were a Make-a-Wish family! We LOVED visiting you! We were fascinated with the variety of fish and sea creatures on display. We will definitely send friends and family your way!

A happy family

Dear Sawtooth shark,

I can’t decide if I think you are beautiful or one of the ugliest creatures ever. You fascinated me and my children. Are you for real?

Can’t decide if I’m a fan

Dear readers,

You are about to see approximately 5,000 pictures of us parasailing. Just so you know, it was every bit as cool as it looks. You should definitely include it on your list of things to do someday. It only cost (gulp) $420 for the seven of us to go. Thank-you, Make-a-Wish, for giving us an allowance that allowed us to do it! This will go down as one of our favorite family memories ever. We absolutely loved every second of it.

The newest parasailing fans!

Dear Toy Story, The Musical,

WOW, WOW, WOW! We were in AWE the entire show! The costumes, the special effects, the music—it was every bit on par with Broadway. Jeremy and I kept exchanging looks of amazement throughout the production and our kids were riveted. I am uber-impressed!

A girl in love

Dear Alex,

I think you are my favorite person from the trip. I don’t know that I have ever met a sweeter and more humble man. Your smile and gracious ways just made our day. Thank you for cleaning up all of our messes each day, preparing our beds each night, leaving us fun “animals” and chocolates. and for being attentive to our every need. We both so wish we had taken a picture with you.

Jeremy and Christianne

Dear Disney,

WE LOVE YOU! We love everything Disney! You plan out everything to the very last detail and somehow manage to make every minute magical. You are the best ever!

A Disney family

Dear Castaway Cay,

You are paradise! What other place on earth can you snorkel, ride bikes, eat all the food you want, go on waterslides into the ocean, have a dance party with Stitch, and leave the little ones to play in their own private “club” making sandcastles and going on treasure hunts while you enjoy relaxing on a beautiful beach?

A girl who could go there every day

(Again, what the humidity does to the camera!)

Dear Colin,

Thank you for everything you did to make Graci feel special throughout the cruise. From the plates of treats left on her pillow to the special notes on her door each day to arranging a special “party” just for Make-a-Wish families to meet with Captain Mickey, to giving us snorkel and tube equipment for FREE, you went above and beyond in making our wish girl feel special.

Two grateful parents

Dear cast and crew of “Dreams,”

This was one of the most amazing productions ever. We loved every single second. You had both of us in tears thinking of our Graci’s dream coming true and also of all the children out there who aren’t as fortunate. The show was fantastic on every level. I just wish that every child in the world was able to be there.

Parents of kids who love to dream

Dear Violeta and Andy,

You were the best. Thank-you for paying attention to every detail and making each of us feel special and important. We loved your magic tricks and your accents and the way you didn’t even blink when Taylor would order THREE entrees at once. You were super cool.

Table 28

Dear Pirate Deck Party,

I’m not sure why you kept zoning in on OUR children and OUR family and putting our images up on the big screen, but it sure made the kids happy!! They loved watching themselves dance and smile and they loved seeing all of the characters in their pirate gear. We also thought it pretty sweet that you served another ENTIRE dinner just three hours after eating our FIRST dinner. Awesome. Jeremy was especially thrilled to find turkey legs (his favorite part about Disneyland) and I loved the warm crepes with ice-cream and topping—yummy! You put on a great party!

The fam

Dear Jesi and Xander,

You were SO MUCH FUN to have on this trip! I loved watching the wonder in your eyes as you saw and experienced things for the first time. I loved that you dared to go parasailing, I loved watching you in the ocean, I loved seeing your faces as you met your favorite characters, I loved the looks on your faces when we said “yes” to almost anything you wanted to do or see or eat! I loved that you were confident enough to walk into the kids club and not look back, and I loved spying on you and watching you enjoy the amazing activities they had planned for you. I love that you are such dear friends. I love YOU!


Dear Parker and Taylor,

I LOVED watching you enjoy your independence throughout the cruise. From watching movies on the main deck while enjoying the swimming pool to having fun at the arcades to playing in the oceaneer lab to ordering room service after midnight—you two really played it up! I am glad that we are able to trust you and that you had so much fun making your own decisions about what to do and where to hang out. I hope you thoroughly enjoyed not having a curfew for a few days, because it will be awhile before that happens again! I’m so glad you are such good friends and made so many great memories together.


Dear Deck 4,

Because of you, we discovered a new family favorite-- shuffleboard! I am now convinced that if we ever are able to build a new home, it must have a long enough deck to accommodate this game! We loved the views as we played and we loved staring off at the beautiful sunsets. We're so glad not many families discovered your charm!

the Greens

Dear self,

In the future, try not to get in any pictures right after you have gone swimming. Unless you remember to wear waterproof mascara. Also, just because all of the food was free didn't mean you needed to eat all of it.

The voice of reason

Dear cruise packages everywhere,

Don’t you feel just a bit like you’re cheating when you call it a “five day cruise” but require that everyone be off the ship by 9:00 a.m. on the fifth “day?” I’m just sayin’…

A girl who didn’t want to leave

Dear Gatorland,

When we found ourselves at the airport with several hours to spare before our flight home, we decided to pay you a visit. We were thrilled upon arriving to find that Make-a-Wish families get in free. Thank-you!! Just thinking about you now makes me smile. You were a cross between a small-town county fair (minus the rides) and a zoo (minus almost all of the animals). We loved watching the alligators “jump” for food. We loved seeing the white alligators and found them quite beautiful. We loved people watching. We loved the rootbeer floats. We loved leaving. (Did I just say that?)

Gator fans

P.S. To be fair, I think we would have loved leaving less if it hadn’t felt like 110 degrees outside and if we wouldn’t have been exhausted from the few hours of sleep we had gotten on the last night of the cruise. And I think everyone should have the chance to visit Gatorland. Once.

Dear Gator wrestler,


Someone who tries to stay away from large teeth

Dear Mom and Dad,

Words can never express our gratitude for your willingness to watch Elli. Though we missed her, we were soooooooo glad that we didn’t bring her along. She would not have enjoyed the cruise, and we would have enjoyed it 1,000 x less if she had been there. You are amazing and we love you!

All of us

Dear Kent and Terri,

How sweet of you to be there with a sign to welcome us home at the airport! We had no idea that you would be there, but should have—knowing how thoughtful you have been through this whole process. Once again, thank-you for EVERYTHING. It truly was magic. We are so so grateful.

Our family

Dear Graci,

Oh how I love you! I hope that the Disney Cruise was everything you ever dreamed of. I loved watching you throughout the trip. I loved watching you with the princesses, and I hope you know that you are the prettiest one of all! I loved seeing your face each time something special happened just for you. I loved that you were so enamoured with the characters and that you would spend so much of your time taking pictures with them. I loved giving you the freedom to do almost anything you wanted over the course of the cruise. I loved shopping with you. I loved seeing your fuzzy pants and sandals under your “poofy dress” as you walked down the stairs. I love you so much, my sweet Graci. I am so grateful for the memories you have made and for the magic you experienced. I hope you will always remember that it is because YOU ARE LOVED by so many people.


And finally, Dear Elli,

It was SO GOOD to see you again!!