Monday, November 29, 2010


Yahoo! We will have them in our arms exactly a week from now. Hard to believe it's finally here:)

I have a big and totally last minute request. Does anyone happen to have a spare laptop computer we could take with us? The main reason we need one is because the one I have right now won't support Skype. I know it's a big request, but it worked last time:)


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gotta Love It!

Christi and the kids are in Ferron with her parents. I am here alone. I miss my family. Why did I not go to Ferron with them? Because the Utah State Tax Commission thought it would be in their best interest to audit my taxes from 2007. This means I have to copy every receipt from both Elli's and Graci's adoptions. I don't even know how the auditor will treat receipts from China. Most are not very professional. I spent several hours on the project today, and just finished with Elli's receipts. Tomorrow I'll tackle Graci's. I am not very enamored with my state right now. Actually, I love the state, it's the government that makes me want to cry:( Of course this was perfect timing, seeing as I don't really have very much going on over the next couple of weeks!

Hope your Saturday is more fun than mine...


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It looks much more like Christmas outside than Halloween, but I need to catch up!

I was fortunate enough (ha, ha) this year to have several occasions to dress up the kiddos. Before Halloween Day ever hit, we had dressed up for a family Halloween party, the school's fall festival, Make-a-Wish trick-or-treat night, mutual night, Elli's kindergarten, and dance classes. We forgot about dressing up for pack meeting, darn it. (; I think over the course of the week, we wore 26 different costumes, if I'm remembering correctly. Yikes!

Halloween night was actually quite fun. It was rainy and a bit cold, but it cleared up enough to go trick-or-treating. Our big kids decided they were indeed big this year, and opted to go with friends. Ah, the cutting of the apron strings begins. As much as I missed them, I must say it was great to just have "the littles." No worrying about our slow pace, no trying to get to as many homes as possible-- just laid back trick-or-treating. Elli was especially fun. She got the hang of it very quickly. She might be a slow learner, but not when it involves candy! She walked up to every single door (with assistance) and said "trick-or-treat." Besides her constantly trying to eat candy with wrappers on, it was a success! Xander and Jesi were so much fun to watch. They are such little buddies and everything is so exciting and adventurous to them. I love it.

We have a very fun neighborhood to trick-or-treat in. One house on our street always grills hot dogs (for parents, too!) and they were even out there in the rain with a big tarp. Another house does a spook alley in their garage, and yet another (good friends of ours) serves hot chocolate and homemade cookies. I'd say that's above average trick-or-treating!

Somehow Elli escaped getting her picture taken that night. I think maybe she wasn't ready when we were taking everyone elses? I don't remember... ): She was a very cute Rainbow Brite.

Next year we'll have EIGHT to dress up--this year will seem like a cake walk!!!!

Tennessee Fan

The Invisible Man

Jer and I wore our pjs. Notice his one-piece with a flap in back. (:

Xander had been several superheroes throughout the week, so I assumed that's what he'd be on Halloween. About 10 minutes before we left to go trick-or-treating, he declared he was going to be a ghost. Luckily, it was a costume I happened to have handy...

Jesi had known for months she wanted to be a "queen cheetah." I don't know where she came up with that, but it turned out cute-- and she planned her costume all by herself. (:

The clan, minus a few. Graci left to go to her friend's house before we took individual pics of her.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Harvest

Can these pics count as my post tonight? I'm soooo tired.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rain, rain, go away.

I am sick. Sick, sick, sick. Have been for a few days, but it seems to be getting worse instead of better. Today I took some Mucinex (it’s an expectorant) and it really got me coughing. Like, for over an hour straight. My stomach was in spasms afterward.

Wouldn’t be that big of deal if we weren’t leaving for China NEXT WEEK. I have a thousand and one things to do to get ready and all I feel like is lying in bed and drinking OJ. My house is getting messier instead of cleaner. Argh.

Anyway… I said a post a day, so here I am. So much to write about—so many events to catch up on, but I’ll just pick one. Parker’s birthday post reminded me of it. We’ll call it “the party you wished you weren’t invited to.”

Let me explain…

In a family our size, we have lots of birthdays. That means lots of parties for me to plan. We've always had parties at home (going somewhere or renting things is so expensive) and so they take a lot of effort. I’ve begun to simplify in the last couple of years. Parker has taken friends to the dollar theater for two years in a row-- easiest party ever. And last August, we had a combined party for Taylor, Jessica, and Graci. Their birthdays are within a month, and we were getting ready to travel to China (for Xander) so we were especially busy. We were able to rent an enormous blow-up movie screen for half price and set it up in our backyard. I figured we could splurge since we were combining parties. We played fun games in groups of older kids and younger kids, divided into three groups to open presents, then combined together to have ice-cream sandwiches and popcorn while watching a movie outside on blankets and lawn chairs. It was perfect. Beautiful weather, tons of happy kids. Three birthdays in one night. Score.

We decided it was worthy of a repeat this year. Each of the three birthday kids invited around 15-20 kids. Yes, that’s a LOT of kids—but since the party was going to be in the backyard, it seemed fine.

Until the dark clouds started moving in.

Yes, after setting up the giant screen, it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Kids started showing up at the house. Jeremy and I were both in a bit of a panic mode, but there was nothing we could do. Sadly, I had not worried about getting my house all ready and clean, because I thought we’d be outside the whole time. I had to send all of the big kids (Graci’s and Taylor’s friends) downstairs to our messy family room (play room) to play games with Jeremy and I kept the littles upstairs. The problem was, not only were we severely crowded, all of the games we had planned were outdoor games. Requiring lots of space.

What could we do but laugh? Well, I’ll tell you. We could feel stressed and ornery. That’s kind of what happened. Except, I’m proud to say—I did keep a smile (albeit sometimes fake) on my face the whole time. That was in part due to the fact that Jessica had invited her favorite babysitters, who stayed upstairs with me and helped out. Downstairs was a little rougher. One of Graci’s friends got so overwhelmed by the amount of kids in a small space that she went to Graci’s room and burst into tears. It was that bad.

When it came time for the movie, we gathered everyone into the family room downstairs and projected it onto the wall. I could see the terror on Jer’s face when I passed out ice-cream sandwiches, popcorn, and m&ms to all the kiddos.

It was so crowded that several of the kids wandered upstairs and I ended up playing games with them in the kitchen. Which was actually quite fun, and at least I didn’t have to stay downstairs and breathe the smell of 50 children in a small space.

I hereby vow NEVER to combine three parties into one again, unless I am CERTAIN that the weather predicts blue skies.

Luckily, our kids thanked us for the party and seemed quite happy about the whole thing. After all, they had friends and presents—all that matters, right?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Gotcha Day, Ling Ling!

Our first glance of you!

Our Dear Graci Kate,

Three years ago today, you walked into a room and turned our lives upside down! We were mesmerized with your sparkling eyes, beautiful smile, confident walk and air of strength. What we didn’t know at the time was that you were hurting and scared and torn between two families who loved you. We didn’t know what you had gone through that day, saying goodbye to your “China family” who adored you and had taken care of you for four years. We didn’t know your fears, your desires, and what made you tick.

Here we are, three years later and so deeply in love with you! We know what makes you laugh, we know what makes you cry. We know when you hurt, we know when you are bursting with joy. We know your strengths and your weaknesses. We know your dozens of cute little quirks. (; We know how you look all made-up and how you look first thing in the morning— and you are perfectly gorgeous either way!

We are so grateful to KNOW you.

Happy “Gotcha Day,” our sweet little girl. You have enriched our lives in ways we can’t express. You are a beacon of courage, beauty, and grace. Your name fits you so well.

We love you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Parker!

I am soooo behind on posts! My goal is to write every day until we leave for China and try to catch up a bit-- we'll see how that goes!

Our amazing Parker turned 10 on November 15. We celebrated the Saturday before by taking him and 15 of his friends (including Graci, Taylor, Jesi, and X) to the dollar theater to see "Despicable Me." Great show. Tons of fun.

Parker is always aware of the needs of others around him. He is thoughtful, considerate, funny, smart, super athletic, cuddly, stylish, loyal, sweet, and good at everything he does. He is the kind of son that a parent dreams of having. Really, they don't come better than Parker. He leaves me feeling blessed every single day.

Yesterday I had to meet Jeremy for something, and I told the kids I would be back within an hour. After Jeremy and I were finished with what we had to do, he turned and said, "How about we don't go home? How about we go on a date instead?" We called the kids to ask how they felt about that. After getting the go-ahead, Parker said, "Mom, I'm glad you get to spend some time with Dad and have fun together." Those are the kind of comments that he makes all the time-- he's just a selfless little guy.

Happy 10th Birthday, my sweet son! You make me one happy mom!

Parker requested the following for his birthday breakfast in bed:
Fried egg sandwich
Quite the palate, my young son:)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

Once upon a time we could just show up...

Next week we were planning on staying here for Thanksgiving. A couple of weeks ago, when we still thought we were going to China before Thanksgiving, Christi cooked us a great "Pre-Thanksgiving" dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and the works. So on the real Thanksgiving, we were going to go to an all you can eat restaurant and forego all the cooking and cleaning. Over the 4-day weekend, we were going to spend time preparing for our trip to China. Sounded great and relaxing. On the other hand, when you have 6 kids in the house, relaxing is a lot of work:) Then we were invited to Grandma Larsen's for dinner on Thanksgiving and to a baby blessing on the following Sunday. (Both of these are in central Utah, about 2.5 hours away.) Ok, so that sounds great, too. Going to visit grandma's house is always relaxing. There will be a gaggle of cousins around to entertain the troops. When we're not here, we can't be working on stuff, so we're forced to just chill. Another good option.

The thing is, we sometimes have a hard time making decisions. Now, decisions like "Should we add a couple more special needs kids to our brood?" we do fine with. It's the mundane ones like "Should we stay or should we go" that give us fits. So this morning Christi says "We need to decide what we're doing next week." I respond, "Let's just play it by ear." Christi says, "So we're just going to show up at Grandma's on Thanksgiving-the EIGHT of us- and say what? Can you just throw another turkey in real quick???" I guess we officially fall into the "If you didn't tell us you were coming, DON'T COME!" category.

Our boys love sports. Taylor's favorite to play is basketball. He's a very good shooter and has spent a lot of time practicing his shot. Basketball practices started this week and I got him a new ball. Last night I found him sound asleep like this:

Pretty cute:)

The other day Elli was dressed for church. I found her sitting on the couch in the cutest pose. She is quite the little doll. If I know how to photoshop the diapers out, it would be perfect:

Finally, most of you will probably think I'm crazy for even noticing this, but if I remember correctly, at least Teri will understand my fascination with the following photo:

I'm out!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

On comments from the previous post...

Anonymous and Allen,

I really, really appreciate your wise advice. When we found out that we couldn't travel in November, I was just kind of numb. Or sick. Or both. When the options of December 1 or 8 were given to us, I of course immediately pounced on the 1st. I mean, come on-- get my girls here ASAP, right? When Jeremy lovingly suggested we look at the 15th, I thought he had gone crazy! To put off getting our girlies just to make it more convenient for the family seemed just nuts. But the more I listened to his reasoning, the more I began to see his very valid points. Leaving on the 15th, or the 22nd for that matter, would have lots of pros. We would get to have Christmas recitals (the girls have been practicing for weeks), Christmas programs, basketball games, etc. We would not have to pull the kids out of school for so many days because part of the travel time would be over Christmas break. We could celebrate Christmas early without all the stress of coming home exhausted and adjusting to our new family. Jeremy wouldn't have to take quite as many days of unpaid leave. It would be easier on my parents to watch the kids at that time, and they would get to hang out with cousins. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made-- and I was beginning to even feel excited about it.

So we emailed CCAI and asked if leaving later was a possibility. They were completely supportive, but mentioned that travel is more expensive around the holidays. We began to price some flights, and even called an awesome travel agency to do the same, and compare them to the dates we had been given. As it turns out, not traveling at the first of December would cost us MEGA bucks. As in, thousands.

January isn't an option, because we have to complete the adoption before Dec 31 for tax purposes.

I think that's why I was feeling so down about the dates we were given-- there isn't an alternative that works!

Anyway... Anonymous, I think you have it right. I wouldn't have thought it earlier today, but after going through hours of thinking and discussing-- I think you're just super wise and correct that we have to consider everyone's needs and that our girlies would be fine either way. Unfortunately, our wallets aren't allowing us to do that!

So... I've decided to perk up and get EXCITED! Being as how there's nothing I can do to change the dates, I'm going to believe that there is a reason we're leaving when we are! Teri, your comment invigorated me! You are right-- this IS something to squeal about! We're going to China! (insert squeal) (: Our kids are amazing and adaptable, and they will be fine. We'll do our best with what we've been given and know that Heavenly Father is watching out for us. Sophi and Lexi, here we come!!!


Travel Approval!!

My emotions are so mixed up right now! We received travel approval today for Alexis and Sophia! Woo-hoo! The news we've been working for ever since we saw their sweet little faces so long ago! However, we were hoping, hoping, hoping to leave next week, or at least by Thanksgiving. Instead, it looks like we'll be leaving on December 1st or 8th, depending on when we can secure a consulate appointment. Ugh. I know it's only a week or two difference, but there were many reasons (including work, school, finances, holidays, dance recitals, basketball, etc) why November would have been better.

Anyway... I know I need to just shake it off! I know this is ridiculous to feel even a little bummed. There is so much to be excited about!! We're finally going to get to hold our darling new little daughters. (:(:(: We have waited so long and it's almost here! And come January, Lexi and Sophi will be here with us regardless of when we traveled. So exciting, right??!!!

So why can't I feel that way...



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Michelin Man

Yesterday evening I wasn't feeling very well. I was lying in my bed when Jesi came in. She needed to read a book for her homework, and she wanted to read it to me. So she came up in bed and we cuddled while she read to me. After the book was done, we laid there and talked for several minutes. It was a very endearing experience. She reached her arm across my tummy and gave me a big hug. Then she said, "Daddy, you're like a big ...(pause-then with a tone of voice that sounded very loving)...marshmallow.

Guess I need to cut out a few desserts?:)


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jesi's prayer tonight

Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank Thee for this day and for all of our blessings. We thank Thee for our family. And Heavenly Father, I think that Xander is the best brother in the whole wide world. And he is so great. And he is so kind to share. He is such a good brother. And please help us remember that when we say good things about another person, that that person should do nice things back, like share their candy. And Heavenly Father, please help Xander to know that if he shares his candy with me that he will be teaching us such a nice lesson about sharing and that it will make you sooooo happy. (Eye peeking open at Xander and his Halloween candy.) And Heavenly Father, thank-you for giving me the nicest mom I ever had. And I don't just like her, but I love her. Like 1,000 infinite much! And that really is a lot. And if I love her that much then she should be nice to me too. And Heavenly Father, I really love everyone in the whole wide world sooooo much. (long pause) Except strangers. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Amen! (Or AHEM!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


This will seem random, but...

I am convinced I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world! And lately I have been just completely overcome with that beauty. Like on the verge of tears with it all of the time. It seems almost every day I am calling Jeremy or he is calling me, or the kids are running in the room saying, "Look out your window!" The clouds, the colors, the mountains, the trees, the sunsets-- they have all just been taking my breath away. I was taking Jessica to dance the other day and literally had to pull over and just STARE at the sun's rays bouncing off the mountains. I was in tears. I was a moment where I felt completely connected to my Heavenly Father and so aware of His majesty.

I was just talking to my friend, Heather. (Yes, the Heather as in "everyone needs a Heather.") (: She said something that I could totally relate to. She said that all she has to do is walk out her front door and take a deep breath of air, look around, and she is high for two hours! I am the same way-- I feel drugged by the beauty surrounding me! (In a good way!)

I googled "Utah images" to try to get some pictures of what I am talking about. I found some good ones. VERY good ones. But even they can't portray the majesty of it all.

One of my favorite hymns:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

If I were a writer, I would have written this song! (: It describes perfectly what my heart feels when I see this kind of beauty:

And I know that Utah doesn't hold a monopoly on beauty-- so everyone, go out and breathe some air and get high! (:
While you're at it, pray we'll be breathing China's air soon!! Still waiting for the darn TA...

Feeling so grateful tonight...


PS I couldn't find the names of all the photographers, but here are a few: Greg Busley, Danny Burk, Bruce Barker, David Schultz, and Willie Holdman. Credit to them!