Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Get The Point?

Every night before bed we have a pretty defined bedtime tradition. We sing "Let us gather in a circle," alerting everyone that it is time for family prayer. We kneel down together, say our prayer and then share a scripture. After scripture, each family member says, "I love you, Elli." Then together we all say, "We love you, Elli." Elli (most nights) then responds, "I love you, family!"

The choice of who would say prayer each night (and all the other prayers during the day) used to be just random. I would pick someone, trying to spread the opportunities around. I would get many vociferous requests from various family members each time we were going to pray. As our family grew and grew, it became judicious to have some sort of organized system to decide whose turn it was. Way back in 2009, when we only had seven family members, each person had one day of the week. On that day, that person got to say every prayer. Meals, family prayers, any others that came up. It worked well. Then we jumped to eight and then 10 people. Now, I get the 1, 11, and 21 of every month. Christi gets the 2, 12, and 22, Taylor gets the 3,13, and 23.... You get the idea:)

On your day, you not only get to say family prayer at night, you also get to choose the scripture for the day. Sometimes these will be memorized verses. Sometimes we may open the scriptures and read directly from them. Often (for kids 8 and under) we will act out a scripture story. By far the favorite one over the years has been Noah. As we talk about the animals getting on the ark, each family member gets to choose an animal. Then we all act and make noises like that animal. Pretty fun stuff! It takes a lot longer now than it did when Taylor and Parker were little!?! Maybe not the most dignified way to share the scriptures, but at least the kids enjoy it:) After the scripture story, whoever's day it is shares their testimony about what we can learn from that scripture. With Noah, a child might talk about how we need to listen to the Lord and His prophets and follow their counsel.

Tonight was Xander's night. He chose another popular story: David and Goliath. Whoever plays Goliath gets to be on Dad's shoulders. After David gets us with the slingshot, I act out a rather dramatic demise. The child playing Goliath gets to crash slowly to the ground as we wobble and sway until Goliath goes down. Xander, of course, chose to be Goliath. (Sophi was David tonight, and having her slay us with a slingshot creates its own logistical problems:) After the story was acted out, I asked Xander to stand up and share what we could learn.

Xander: "We shouldn't throw rocks at people."

At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but then I noticed how serious he was. Stifling my laughter, I replied, "Well, that's true. Anything else we can learn from David and Goliath?"

Xander: "We should be nice to our brothers and sisters?"

Me: "Very good Xander. What about we should pray to and have faith in Heavenly Father and he will help us overcome even the biggest challenges?"

Xander: "Yes."

Clearly, something is getting lost along the way here!:)


Friday, March 23, 2012

Counting Our Blessings

The other night at dinner I had a very simple yet very profound experience. We had finished eating and were playing 20 questions while still sitting together. This is a favorite game for the kids. My arms were resting on the table, and my elbow hung out over the edge by just a few inches. Sophi was down from her chair and wandering around. I almost didn't notice as she came up and started rubbing her eye against my elbow. I glanced down at her and was suddenly hit by the significance of what she was doing.

I paused our game for a moment, and without telling anyone why, I had us sing the first verse of "Count Your Many Blessings." After we sang, I asked if we all had challenges. Of course everyone said yes. I asked what some of them were. Someone mentioned Lexi being blind. Graci talked about her heart problems. (Parker threw in "being overly's rough.":) After listing a few more, I pointed out what Sophi had been doing. How often, I asked, do you reach up with your hand and rub your eye or face? Pretty frequently! Sophi cannot do that. If she is sitting, she can do it with her foot, but if she is standing, she cannot do it by herself. So she came up and rubbed her sweet little eyes on my elbow.

We were all grateful for our hands that evening. I am grateful for all of my children-eight wonderful blessings I get to count every single day.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Christi's Problem

My sweetheart is an exceptional cook! She often whips up familiar recipes but isn't afraid to try new things. She has an occasional miss, but this is very rare. But she does have a problem. She almost always serves her meals with some kind of derogatory comment with regard to what we are about to eat. "This doesn't look very good, does it?" or "I'm sure it will need some salt." or "If you don't like it you only have to have a little." I believe part of this stems from her unique method of making sure the food she cooks tastes good...she looks at it.

That's right. My snookums never tastes her cooking before she serves it! Not a bite. Not a smidgeon. Not a snitch. Nothin! She will NOT sample her cooking before she puts it on the table. Not even to salt or season it. She just "looks at it". If she is really unsure of how it will taste, she requires my services. Problem is, I am a food moron. I may be able to tell her if it's not quite right. But my only idea to fix anything consists of, "Well, uh, maybe it could use some salt?"

The other night, she decided to try a new dinner. Homemade enchiladas and Mexican rice from rice-a-roni. The enchiladas were fantastic. Loved by all. The rice-a-roni? Even I should be able to do rice-a-roni, right? Not so fast! She gets done cooking the meal, again using her "look at it" method to make sure it will taste good. She spoons up some of the triple batch of rice-a-roni ("serves 4" just doesn't do us much good anymore). She let's it glop from the spoon back down to the pan. She looks at me and offers up a typical pre-meal comment, "This looks horrible!" I tell you, the woman absolutely inspires confidence:) But in this case, I have to agree with her. It looks more like Mexican rice stew than Mexican rice. We all sit down to eat. With another pessimistic remark, she prepares the kids for the worst. I get a lot of skeptical looks as I dish everyone up a small spoonful. As we start to eat, nobody says much. Finally, I make a comment: "Well, it's pretty bland. But at least it's crunchy." Like I say, her misses are few and far between, but this was definitely one of them.

The next morning I was cleaning up the kitchen after making seven lunches. I noticed 3 unused oatmeal packets sitting on the counter. Not an unusual occurance after breakfast in our house. I picked them up, but noticed that they had no labeling on them and must not be oatmeal. I looked at them for a moment, confused. I took them in to Christi and asked, "Honey, do you know what these are?" She looked at them for a second, got a goofy grin on her face, and replied, "I guess now we know why the rice-a-roni was so bland..."


PS. Either Christi and I have a fantastic relationship or I am going to have my blogging privileges suspended for a long time. Perhaps I should ask her before I publish a post that knocks her culinary skills. Naw...I've "looked at it" and it seems fine to me:)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Christi's Christian Home for Stray Kids and Animals...

Remember Patti? The lost dog who infiltrated our home about 3 weeks ago? In 13 years of marriage, that was the first time we've ever had a stray show up on our doorstep. Yesterday morning about 7am I was making lunches in the kitchen. Lexi, sitting on the living room floor hollers out, "Where's that cat?" I listen closely for a minute and sure enough, I hear a cat meowing. I open the front door, and there's a young cat looking plaintively up at me from the bottom of our front stairs.

What's a guy to do? I've never been one to hide my feelings about cats. I've toned down my rhetoric a bit now that I have children (including one Princess Jesi whose favorite animals are cats), but I still don't hesitate to say that I strongly dislike the creatures. I'm very allergic to them. Their aloofness, even haughtiness, is in direct contrast to the goofy adoration a good dog will show his owner. But here is a cat on a chilly morning, clearly wanting some shelter. So I let her in. (No idea whether it was a he or she, but Jesi insisted it was a girl.) Christi tried a bowl of milk, which the cat ignored. Christi then tried a bowl of cold, leftover scrambled eggs and turkey, which the cat again ignored (can't say I blame the poor thing...what were you thinking on that one, sweetie?).

The cat then explored the house and headed to the basement. A couple minutes later Parker bolts up the stairs and said, "Did you know there's a cat in the house? And it's drinking out of the toilet!" Christi quickly put out a bowl of water, which was eagerly accepted.

We didn't keep this stray very long. After she had something to drink, the cat wanted to go outside again. It had warmed up considerably, so Christi let her out and she didn't come back. The kids think this is a sign that we are supposed to get a pet. I'm not so sure. But if a guinea pig shows up next week...


Thursday, March 15, 2012


Dear Sophi is such a trooper! She is independent and works hard to do everything by herself. She loves to help and will carry things in her mouth or between her chin and her shoulder. She gets up and down stairs by herself. She is so precious. She rarely ever shows sadness about her missing arms. In fact, she usually is quite content with "feet-hands" and "leg-arms" as she calls them. Her usually cheerful attitude made this exchange all the more poignant:

Sophi had a roll of Smarties candy. She tried and tried to open it with her toes, but just couldn't figure it out. Suddenly she just went to pieces. She sobbed and sobbed and was so distraught. I held her and rocked her in our easy chair. I opened the Smarties and she ate them with her "toe-fingers". Once she calmed down, I helped her out of my lap and held out the wrapper to her. "Here Sophi," I said. "Go throw this away." She looked at me with hauntingly sad little eyes and said, "I can't. I no have arms."

Oh, sweet Sophi. I am so sorry. You have some challenging days ahead of you. Fortunately, you have an indomitable spirit. You rebounded quickly from this experience and will do so with more tough experiences in the future. I am so grateful for a personal witness that Jesus Christ is our Lord. That through him, someday, you will be able to look into my eyes and say, "I can do it, Daddy. I have arms!" I love you, Soph.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

0 to 60...

We have been married for almost 14 years. For over 13 of those years we fought the silent battle of "who's getting up with the kids?!?" The one where we both lie there in bed, pretending to be asleep, waiting for the other person to respond to the crying (screaming?!) child. The one where Christi scolds me in the morning for being lazy and I insist I was asleep the whole time and she says, "I heard your breathing change!" That game.

Then, about 2 months ago, we got a clue. We switch nights! Every other night one of us is responsible to get up with the kids. That poor sap has to sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door. The other lucky person sleeps soundly on the other side where she kicks the guy whose turn it is to wake up. We've even got it down to where we switch off weekend mornings to sleep in. Now that our church has moved to a 1pm start time, we get two glorious weekend mornings. How sweet it is.

The whole point of this is to share with you Sophi's method of waking up. This applies in the middle of the night as well as in the morning. Most kids fuss a little, toss and turn as they start to make some noise. Sophi goes from 0 to 60 in 0 seconds. One moment, the house is bathed in glorious, sleeping silence. The next moment a 120 decibel siren goes off down the hall. There is no pretending to be asleep through Sophi waking up. And yet somehow, Christi still finds reason to kick me...;)


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The kind of things that make me smile...

(made from cheese, turkey, and duct tape)

Recent letters from Jessica

Dear Mom
I want to change the wall and make my room filled with princesses inside it. My three reasons are I want it that way because... I need a baby Cinderella doll so I can practice with her to baby sit a real baby when I grow up. And my second reason is because I want some princess makup because I would use it wicely. (wisely) My third reason is... I want a princess dress so I can use it for an immergncy like to go to the princess festival. Love: Jessica

Dear Mom,
I love you! You are a good great mom to me. You are very very helpful. You are a creatve mom. In fact you are the best mom in the hole wide world. You stay awsome and stay fashionble to.
Love: Jessica Anne Green

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's a Bird...

This morning Lexi developed a super hero alter-ego. She wanders around the living room saying "I Blind Girl! I in the sky! Dad, you can call me Blind Girl! Hey everyone, you can call me Blind Girl!" In theory, this is great. Lex has embraced her disability and turned it into a positive way to face the world and it's challenges. On the other hand, I can't wait until I'm overheard at the park saying "come on Jess, come on Xander, come on blind girl, it's time to go home..."


Friday, March 9, 2012

Elli's Antics

Elli, Elli, Elli...

What are we going to do with her?

Anyone who has a child with severe autism knows what a rollercoaster ride it can be. Elli can go from laughing to screaming to singing to screaming to quiet to screaming (are you getting the theme here?) for no apparent reason. For the past few months, the screaming and sadness seemed to be the overriding emotion and it was becoming extremely difficult for everyone. We decided to start her on some meds to try to stabilize her moods a bit.

Results were quick! We felt like we had our Elli back. She became more verbal and sweet and happy. Along with that came a whole new Elli.

We call her Miss Mischievous.

Elli's newfound energy and contentment (which, by the way, is by no means constant-- she still knows how to scream, but overall it is much less) has been channeled into wreaking havoc upon our home. In any given 5 minutes, she can destroy an entire room. Whereas before she would tend to stay in one area for long periods of time, playing with her music toys, she now roams the house constantly, exploring and making messes. One of her favorite new things to do is to go into the bathroom, climb in the tub fully clothed, and turn on the shower. This was funny perhaps the first couple of times it happened, but quickly got very old. After several stints in the shower, Jeremy purchased the "childproof" plastic doorknob covers to put on the bathrooms. It helped for approximately one and a half weeks. Yesterday we were out at parent teacher conferences all afternoon and left most of the kids home with Taylor and Parker.

Speaking of parent teacher conferences, we visited with over 20 teachers. Eight kids and two in junior high make for a lot of visits!

But back to Elli. We got a phone call from Taylor that went something like this, "Dad, Elli found out how to open the bathroom doors and went into the shower again."

"Oh, I'm sure someone just left it open."

"That's what we thought the first time, but it's happened twice now. She knows how to pull apart the plastic on the covers and can get in. She's showered twice."

Seriously, what are we going to do with her? The other day she went in Jeremy's office for a few minutes and managed to create a huge mess that had Jeremy pulling his hair out. When I went to get her the other morning, she had pulled off the closet door in her room and was sliding down it. She's broken the piano bench and ping pong table. She tears pictures off the wall, "clears" off the kitchen table, pulls all of the blankets and sheets off beds, and every other thing you can think of.

Whatever you're envisioning, it's worse. I'm actually very worried to find out what she's doing this very moment! But believe it or not, it's better than the constant screaming. She seems happier most of the time. So I'm not sure what to do! It's impossible to watch her every minute of the day. She's kind of acting like a one year old, but can do so much more damage because of her size and strength.

One thing that has come to mind is getting her more musical toys. She has a TON already, but she plays with them constantly, so the novelty can wear off. Every time we get her something new, it provides hours and hours of mess-free Elli. But it kills the budget. So... if any of you readers out there happen to live in my neighborhood and have musical toys that would just go to the DI, PLEASE ask if we have them, and if not, send them on over here! You could be saving an entire house from utter destruction! (:

I'm not even kidding.

We do love you, Elli! It's fun to see you come alive. (:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Science Fair

Thanks again to everyone that helped with our science fair projects! It was great to get so many responses-- I love blogging! The kids did a great job on their projects. Graci got the highest score in her class. For some reason, however, nobody in her class advanced on to the school competition. She did such a great job though. We are proud of you, Graci Kate!

Taylor and Parker both advanced to the school competition and advanced from there to the regional charter fair competition, held at UVU. I got to go with them and we had a great time. I was able to be a judge and it gave me some good insight into future years. The kids were each judged by three different judges. I believe there were a couple hundred students competing. The boys were super excited to be chosen to advance to state. It will be held at BYU in a few weeks. Good job, boys!

As I was up late helping one of the kids with their project and feeling a bit frazzled, Jeremy came into the room and said, "You know, hon, next year you will have three projects again, but the next year you will only have two. and the year after that you will only have two, but the next year you'll be back to three and the next year..." I gave him the look of death, and he concluded with, "You only have about 30 science fair projects left!"

Thank you, honey. (:

The hardest part about being a mom

are conversations like the one I just had with Lexi:

"Mom, why I blind?"

"Because that's the way you were born."

"But why my eyes can't see? Are they broken?"

"Yes, your eyes are broken."

"But it's not FAIR!"

"I know, honey. It's not fair."

"But I tired of being blind!" (sobs begin) "I want to see you!"

"Come here, sweetie." (I put her hands on my face) "You can see me with your hands."

"But I want to see you with my eyes! I don't want to be blind anymore!"

"Lexi, someday you won't be blind anymore. Because Jesus will heal you. And you will be able to see me with your eyes."

"I want to see you right now!" (tears continue to pour)

"I know."

"I don't like being blind. Because I trip a lot. And I want to see Erin C."

"You will see Erin C. in heaven. And you will run around and play with her. And she won't need to hold your hand while you walk, but you will hold hands anyway because you love each other."

"Can I see Denise (Erin's mom) too? Because I want to know what she looks like."

"Yes, you can see everyone in heaven!"

(little bit of a smile, but still sniffling)

"I want to go to heaven."

"I know, I know."

These are the kind of conversations I've had with many of my kids about their unique struggles. There aren't words to explain how hard it is.

Luckily, Sophi is still at the blissfully easy place where a conversation with her goes like this:

"Why I not have hands?"

"Because you have feet-hands" (her terminology)

"Oh... good!!!"


Thursday, March 1, 2012

That didn't quite come out right...

Phone message I heard Jesi leave today:

Hi, I am calling to see if Maddie can play because I can't think of any other friends I want to play with, so... call me back... um... Jessica Green 801-208...."