Monday, May 28, 2012

Overheard at the pool today

Random little girl:  Why don't you have arms?

Sophi:  Because I just don't!

little girl:  (making chopping motions toward shoulders) Did somebody chop them off?

Sophi:  Yes.

little girl:  Who?

Sophi:  My mommy!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lovin' Grandpa

We've spent this weekend at Christi's parents house in Ferron. It's been great to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa and to relax (at least as much as it's possible to relax with eight kids at someone else's house)! The kids all have a ball here, and I must admit I'm one of the lucky few who actually looks forward to spending time with his in-laws. Yesterday we went down to the gym and had so much fun as a family. I played basketball with Taylor and Parker (and put out a few sibling rivalry fires along the way:). All four adults took turns pulling Jesi, Elli, Lexi and Sophi on these little four-wheeled scooter things. Taylor and Parker pulled me on one for awhile. Jesi, Xander, Graci, Christi and I took turns playing jump rope games. Jesi made up a broom-hockey type game that she, Parker, Christi, Grandpa, Grandma and I played. Of course Jesi's team ended up scoring about twice as many goals as my team. in other words, it was a really fun afternoon that everyone in the family got to enjoy. Great memories.

The highlight of the weekend was probably Sophi's reaction to her great grandpa (we call him Grandpa Great). Sophi is usually pretty shy around people she doesn't know very well, so we were quite surprised at how quickly she warmed up to Grandpa Great. She just became his little shadow. She wanted to be in his lap. She took his hand und her chin and tugged at him until he got up with her and went on a walk. She kept saying "we love each other" and cuddling up to him. (Sophi is not usually the cuddly type.) Then when Grandpa had to leave, Sophi kind of freaked out. It was just such a cute display of adoration for her Grandpa Great.

Families are such a blessing!


Saturday, May 26, 2012


Sophi and Lexi were fighting over the computer this morning.  These two have quite the little rivalry going.  Whether it's mommy's lap or a baby doll or the ipad, they always seem to go for the same thing at the same time, often with some whines and whimpers.  Today it was the computer at Grandma's house.  While I have no doubt they will both be proficient computer users at some point in the future, neither one of them has much capability at this point.  So they were just jockeying for position.  Fighting for power.  As I sometimes do, I had partially tuned them out.  I absentmindedly said, "Lexi, you can't play with Grandma's computer, ok?"  Then I heard this conversation:

Sophi: "Lexi, you can just watch me play the computer, ok?"

Lexi: "Sophi, I can't see.  I watch with my hands!"

Pretty clever girl:)


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Daddy's Little Girl

Every night each of our children expects to be "tucked in."  This is a very specific routine in our family, and one that I find great joy in.  Sometimes before they get tucked in, the kids will ask for a "back ride" into bed.  This means I get on my hands and knees, let them climb on my back and crawl them into their bedroom.  Usually I ask them what animal they would like me to be, so I may be mooing or growling or barking as requested:)  Tonight, Lexi and Sophi asked for a back ride.  They were both right by me and they were both going to the same room, so a two-person ride seemed to make sense.  Until you think about the logistics....  Sophi did not want me to lift her on.  She wanted to climb on herself.  I had to get lower than usual and let her slither her way up.  She couldn't exactly hold on, so I just had her lay across my back with her chin kind of grasping my shoulder and her legs hanging over my ribs on the opposite side.  Then I had Lexi climb on but warned her not to sit on Sophi.  She got up the best she could, giggling the whole time.  Let's just say I had to crawl very slowly so as not to upset the delicate balance of the riders:)

Jesi went through a phase where she was a little less excited to show affection for her Daddy.  Fortunately, she seems to be a little less reticent about that at this point.  Tonight I had one of those magical moments with her that makes being a parent worth all of the challenges that can go with the job.  She wanted a back ride, but we were in the cramped hallway and very close to her room.  I suggested a princess carry instead.  The princess carry is when I cradle her in my arms and carry into her room.  Her face lit up and she nodded excitedly.  But instead of just having me pick her up right there and carry her the two steps into her bedroom, she got a mischievous grin on her face, turned around, and ran into the kitchen to the farthest spot she could find from her bedroom.  She wanted the longest princess carry she could get.  And of course, my princess got it!

Being a daddy is the best job in the whole wide world:)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pizza Lovers!

Yesterday was one of those crazy days.  Baseball practices and dance are pretty normal, but as an added prize we had a wedding reception to attend.  (Yes, on a Tuesday.)  It was for the daughter of one of my mom's very close friends, and Graci was asked to help serve.  Christi got Grace all gussied up to the point where I did a double take when I saw her.  Christi and Graci left for the reception while I was still running baseball practice for Taylor and Parker.  On my way home, Christi called and mentioned that things had been too rushed to get dinner ready and could I pick something up?  I rushed home, grabbed Xander and shuttled him to his baseball practice and then stopped at Little Ceasar's to get pizza and breadsticks.  Problem solved:)

After picking Xander up from practice and helping Parker get the littles to bed, I changed and hurried off to catch the tail end of the reception.  Both of my girls were working hard to help things run smoothly (and both were looking stunning!).  I enjoyed some good food and conversation.  At one point, Christi asked me what I had done for dinner.

"I picked up pizza!" I proudly proclaimed.

"Pizza?  Really?"

"Yes (a little less proud at this point).  Is there something wrong with that?"

"Well, I got them pizza last night, remember?"

At that point I did remember.  She had brought pizza to our baseball game last night and had eaten with the kids while watching the team play.  I never had any, so it kind of slipped my mind.  "What were you thinking I should get them?"

Christi answered, "I was thinking hamburgers or something.  Pizza for dinner two nights in a row.  Wow, we're great parents!"

At this point, Graci chimed in.  "Actually, yesterday was pizza day at school,  soooo...the kids had pizza for lunch AND dinner yesterday.  Then they got up and had leftover pizza for breakfast and for their after school snack today.  THEN they had pizza for dinner tonight."


As I was fixing lunches this morning, Xander came in to get his breakfast.  There was no meandering today.  No searching for oatmeal or cereal or toast.  He made a beeline for exactly what he wanted...yesterday's leftover pizza....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crazy Not To

How fantastic is the internet?  An endless supply of information at our fingertips 24 hours a day.  Communication possibilities that would have staggered the imagination just twenty years ago.  A virtual yard sale of unprecedented proportions.  The ability to donate money instantly to Haitian earthquake relief or cancer research or whatever cause might be near and dear to your heart.  My personal belief is that God watches over us and that some of those "serendipity" moments are less chance than a nudge in the right direction from a loving Father who wants the best for His children.  As with any other great invention or discovery, the potential for misuse abounds, and we must be cautious in our use of this now-indispensable tool.  But when we use it appropriately, what vast good can come of it.

I am, obviously, a bit biased, but I can't really see a more beautiful effect of the internet than the ability to look into the eyes of abandoned children throughout the world.  I am not a cat lover.  In fact, you might say I am a cat-despiser:)  Yet despite my allergies and dislike of felines, I could not turn away an unfortunate kitten that recently showed up on our doorstep.  When I came face-to-face with this little lost creature, I invited it into our home, gave it a chance to warm up and even gave it a drink.  Encounters on such a personal level move people to action.  So it has been with me and with thousands of others who have opened their hearts and homes to adoption.

In January, we were looking at some of the precious children on one of the many waiting children lists available on the internet.  At that time, we were certainly not looking to add to our already large family.  And yet, the feelings of love and endearment started to penetrate my heart again.  Here were more innocent, deserving children yearning for a father and a mother.  Our home was full to bursting, and we certainly couldn't take on the challenges and burdens that come with this major-life-altering decision.  Yet we truly hoped that others would find a place in their lives for the blessings that come with these darling children of God.  And of the great miracles of the internet once again worked in our lives.  We kept looking at those children.  We looked into their eyes.  We read of their hopes and dreams for a family.  We read of the prayers offered by many of them to be adopted.  And our hearts were softened.  We started thinking about how another one could fit.  We could adjust the sleeping arrangements just so.  It could work.  And then, as our hearts began to fill with love for two specific kids, it went further.  Our home isn't at all equipped for a wheelchair, but surely, having a mom and a dad and loving siblings is worth the adaptations Cali (and we) will have to make!  With 10 of us living here, it's already hard enough to keep the floors clear for our blind children.  With two more, including another one who can't see, won't that challenge skyrocket?  But surely, Conner will be happier tripping on toys from his younger brothers and sisters than shuffling over a clean tile floor from his huge group bedroom to the the community toilet in the orphanage!  (Guess you could argue the group bedroom and community toilet apply to us, too:)

And so, this miracle of the internet has launched us on the beautiful journey once again.  When people ask how many we plan on adopting, I honestly say we never plan on it.  When it's right, we do it.  It's that simple.  But without the internet, I don't know how we would have found the beauty that lies down this road. 

Taylor and Parker, my valiant, good, even majestic sons whom I hope to emulate someday, were similarly touched by the ability to look at these potential siblings half a word away.  When we called the two boys into our bedroom to let them know that we were considering adopting again, their first response was one of concern and fear.  Christi and I saw their faces drop as they thought of the logic and logistics of this decision.  Cramped quarters would become even more cramped.  Busy schedules even more busy.  And yet they didn't protest outright.  They listened as we described our experiences leading up to our consideration of these two new children.  After talking to them for awhile, we showed them the pictures and video we had of both Cali and Conner.  And that was basically it.  They melted.  They went to bed that night with a promise to think it over and pray.  Both boys came to us the next morning with huge smiles and an urgent plea to let the orphanages know that WE wanted to adopt Cali and Conner.  Don't waste any time, in case some other family calls first!  (By the way, it's easier to get the younger kids to buy into these things, and it took about zero effort to convince Graci that an 11-year-old, Chinese speaking girl would be a good addition to our family:)

A few weeks ago, I was talking with one of the boys.  We were discussing how some people might think (or even tell us!) that we're crazy.  I had a brief stroke of inspiration, and asked, "Thinking about the pictures, videos and write-ups of these two kids, would we be crazier to adopt them...or NOT to adopt them?"  His thoughtful response?  "Not to adopt them!"  And so we look forward with great anticipation to all of the happiness, craziness, disorganization, lack-of-sleep, culture shock, hugs, tears and everything else that we know is in store for us over the coming years.

Grateful always for the road we have chosen and for all those who continue to support us on it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Famous Soph!

There's a member of our congregation that writes a regular column for the Salt Lake Tribune.  It is a rather tongue-in-cheek commentary on just about any and every subject you can think of.  His most recent article is about an experience he had with our sweet Sophi.  You can find the column here.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

A snippet of my life


Try to have an important conversation on the phone.
Get interrupted 5 billion times.
Lock myself in the bathroom and turn the fan on.
Continue to talk and ignore the knocks and Sophi screaming outside the door.
Watch a piece of paper slide under the doorway.
Finish up my phone conversation.
Read the note:  "You have been invited to Rosella's Fashion Show.  Come right now to the living room."
Go to the living room.
Watch Jesi model four different outfits as Sophi accompanies her on air guitar.
Smile as Sophi rocks out.
Listen to Elli sing Mary Poppins songs at the top of her lungs from Xander's/Lexi's/Sophi's bedroom while jumping on the bed.  Smile and think how glad I am that she's not making trouble.
Wonder where Xander is.
Go downstairs to find him pulling all of the books off the bookshelf looking for his very overdue library book.
Get a phone call from the doctor, "Yes, we can call in a prescription for Jesi's strep."  (We knew that's what she had because the boys just got over it.)
Go upstairs and see that Sophi has been playing "Taboo."  By playing, I mean that she has dumped out all the cards and neatly folded a good portion of them in half.  Wonder if I should just throw the game away.
Walk by X's/L's/S's room to find Elli still singing, and totally naked.
Contemplate shooting myself for forgetting to pin her clothes together when she got off the bus.
Put a new pull-up on Elli and try to figure out what blankets/sheets need to be washed.
Look outside and wonder if the boys are getting rained out at their scrimmage.
Walk into the kitchen and realize the kids have been walking through the pile of red hair left on the floor after Parker's after-school haircut.  Take a deep breath, then turn around and ignore it.
Tell Jesi that yes, she can have cereal, as long as she gets some for Lexi, Xander, and Sophi and will let me have 15 minutes of peace in my bedroom.
Feel glad that she finally feels like eating.
Realize I shouldn't have let them all have cereal so close to dinnertime-- ugh.
Realize that cereal could just be their dinner-- score!
Go into my room to find Graci has confiscated the computer for homework.
Kick Graci off computer.
Write this little post.
Listen to Sophi calling me that she's done.
Know it's time to go and clean up that hair.
The end.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Sidekick

I am in love with our little Sophi.  As it turns out, I'm not the only one!  Everywhere we go, she steals people's hearts.  I feel like I have a little rock star with me!  Yesterday I got an email from a sweet blog reader.  Apparently, her daughter, Ellie, is smitten with Soph.  Ellie even drew her a picture, and I printed it out-- Sophi loved it!  Along with the picture were several questions about Sophi.  How does she wear a backpack?  How does she get her underwear on?  How does she eat?

All good questions, so I thought it was time for a Sophi post.

For new readers out there, Sophi was not only born without arms, but she was also born missing her right fibula.  This makes her right leg significantly shorter than her left, and weaker too.  We didn't know if she would ever be able to walk and we were thrilled to get her an electric wheelchair that had a joystick she could maneuver with her toes.  Just months later, we were even more thrilled when Sophi took her first steps.  Since then, there is no stopping her!  She can jump and walk up very shallow stairs and gets along great.  She usually doesn't wear shoes because it is like putting shoes on your hands, but when she does, she wears special shoes made just for her by Shriner's.  The right shoe has a lift that balances out her legs quite a bit.  She also wears a brace inside the shoe to give her more ankle support.

To answer Ellie's specific questions:

A backpack-- I usually carry it for her.  When she wants to carry it herself, she either does it with her chin, or I put one strap across her head and shoulder (like a banner.)

Getting on underwear-- Believe it or not, Sophi can pretty much put those on by herself!  She uses her feet to lay them out right, and then takes turns using each foot to pull them up high.  Once she gets them up high enough, she spreads out her legs and somehow wriggles her way into them.  They don't always go on perfectly, but it's still pretty impressive, if you ask me!

Eating-- Sophi is amazing with her little toes.  A wonderful guy named Kevin found a second-hand chair that was the exact height as our table.  He added a strap onto it so we wouldn't have to worry about her falling.  Being flush with the table makes it so much easier for her to feed herself.   She uses a fork and spoon just as well as any other three year old.  She has even used chopsticks by herself before!  The thing that is the most fun to watch is when she eats ice-cream cones-- with one foot!

Sophi can work an ipad like a pro, paint her own nails, brush her own teeth, and give the sweetest hugs in the world.   She can also throw an awesome tantrum, change moods at the drop of the hat, and talk incessantly, but we'll try to brush over that here...

I cannot believe that I am the one blessed to call her my daughter.  She is absolutely ADORED.

She loves to be like Mommy!

Eating Oreos

Thanks, Ellie!

Her special chair

This is what happens when you leave her alone with her yogurt!

She has Grandpa smitten too!

Playing peek-a-boo with her baby

Eating breakfast at the bar

You can kind of see her lifted shoe in this pic.

Waiting for the bus

Her favorite doll-- from Aunt Leslie

This is from a year ago-- it was the only one  I could find of her eating an ice-cream cone.  She can even do the regular cake cones with one foot! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I would say that...

...the day can only go uphill from here, but I know from experience that may not be the case.  So I'll say I'm praying it will go uphill from here!  (;

Jeremy was out of town last night.  It was a normal evening-- homework projects, messes, family home evening at the park, messes... and by the time all eight were tucked in, I was exhausted.  For the first time in a long time I actually made a good decision about bedtime and immediately went to bed.  It was just after 10.  I was so excited for a good night's rest--  almost giddy as I plopped down on my mattress.  A half hour later, the Sophi siren went off.  Not an unusual thing, but unwelcome nonetheless.  I took her to the bathroom, gave her a drink, lotioned her legs, and stumbled back into bed.  Twenty minutes later, I hear it again.  This continued throughout the entire night.  She has never, ever had a night this bad-- and it happened when I was so exhausted to begin with.  She literally woke up at least 15 times, and each time I had to try to help her because otherwise she would wake up Xander and Lexi (they share a room.)  I was so tempted to just put her in bed with me, but I didn't want to start something I would regret.  I did at one point set her on the couch in the living room and told her she had to stop whining before I would let her go back to her room.  Didn't work-- just made her all the more upset.  There is no reasoning with her when she is half asleep.   It seems unfair that I woke up bleary-eyed and wiped out while she woke up perky and happy as a clam!  She even said in her cute little voice, "I sorry I woke you up, Mommy!" like that would take care of everything!

After getting all the kids off to school while fighting the urge to be Grumpy Mrs., I spent $200 getting Elli's mattress cleaned.  Yes, our lovely Elli took off the sheets, sheet protector, pajamas and diaper and had a fun time in bed.   Argh.  Luckily this happened on Mother's Day morning, so this particular time, I wasn't the one to clean her all up!  When I called to get an estimate yesterday, he quoted $75.  But as they saw just how bad it was, the price went up.  She has the second best mattress in the house (it's a king, and was our guest bed until we ran out of room for a guest room) and it is now sanitary again.  This time we are putting two mattress protectors under the sheet and figuring out a way to make them stay!!!  We have also got to figure out a way to keep her in pajamas!  We have tried EVERYTHING I can think of, including putting one-piece pajamas on backwards and saftey-pinning them, but apparently Elli thinks she is Houdini.

I'm assuming you know me well enough not to have to say it, but just in case-- let me make it clear that I love Miss Houdini with all my heart and wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.  Even when she takes her diaper off and plays with it.  Even when she breaks all of my Willow Tree figurines.  Even when she finds a way to break closet doors, pull down dressers, make hundreds of dents in our walls, open jars of vaseline and cover herself in it... you get the picture.

Someday, when we find our way into a bigger home, I am determined to create the most wonderful, fun, ELLI-PROOF space for our little darling.  It will have carpeted walls and a keyboard bolted to the floor and fun things to climb on and one of those sensory bean bags that vibrates and musical toys galore.  And then I won't have to worry about finding her in places like this:

Yes, the stairwell is now Elli's favorite place to "hang out."  And yes, we have tried over and over and over again to keep her away from it.  The good thing is that this girl has balance, and believe it or not, gets hurt way less than any of the other kids.  By the way, that thing around her waist is her harness that she has to wear on the bus.  And her shirt is wet from her chewing on it all day.  And the mess at the bottom of the stairs is because we are messy.  Just in case you were wondering...

And now, I am off to enjoy my last 15 minutes sans kids before Sophi comes home from preschool!  What should I do-- clean?  put some make-up on?  sort through important papers?  Nah... I think I'll just shut my eyes and listen to the silence.  (:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day is one of those tricky holidays. While I have had many beautiful Mother's Day moments through the years, I have also had moments where I felt overwhelmed, inadequate, unappreciated, exhausted, bitter... you get the idea! In talking to my friends, I have found that I am not alone in this. Celebrating motherhood can often make us feel those kind of feelings for various reasons.

Maybe it's because I've struggled with those types of things that I'm even more grateful today to be sitting here feeling overwhelming gratitude and joy.  My life is not in any means perfect or perfectly put together.  I have struggles and trials and sadness and lots and lots of messes!  But I get to be a mother to the most amazing children!  Taylor, Parker, Jessica, Jacob, Emily, Elli, Graci, Xander, Lexi, Sophi, Cali, and Conner-- you will never know how much I love you! You are perfect for me. The joys and the trials you bring to my life are just exactly what I need to be perfectly happy.

I am forever grateful that our Heavenly Father chose me to mother these precious spirits, and I am so grateful that I chose to do it! Being a mom is such a sacred privilege. There was a time in my life where I would reply to the questions, "So what do you do?" with, "I'm just a mom." Now I answer, "I get to stay home with my kids and be a full time mommy!" I am so grateful for this blessing that many moms do not have.

Sometimes I struggle with comparing myself to other moms. It is very, very easy to see my own weaknesses in the strengths of my friends or sisters. But I am getting so much better at appreciating and applauding the talents and strengths of the mothers around me without bringing myself down. So to all of those mothers in my life-- neighbors, friends, and relatives-- thank you for your beautiful examples! I love being around you, because you make me want to be a better mom. Thank you for uplifting me and making me feel loved!  I value you so much!

There are also women in my life who desire to be moms but for various reasons are not. I know that these women will someday have the desire of their hearts, even if it is not in this life. I love this quote from Sheri Dew:

When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living”—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed pre-mortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.

To my own perfect mother-- Happy Mother's Day. To my wonderful mother-in-law-- Happy Mother's Day. To Grandma Larsen--Happy Mother's Day. To all of you amazing women in my life-- Happy Mother's Day!!!

To the birthmothers of my children-- Happy Mother's Day.  I love you more than words can say.

And to my dad-- thank you for loving my mother!  And to Jeremy-- thank you for loving me!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bad Words

Yesterday Xander asked if he could play with a certain friend.  I told him yes, then proceeded to ask him a bit about this friend.  "Is he a nice friend?  Does he ever do anything inappropriate?"

"Well..." Xander started, looking nervous.  "He does say the 'b' word sometimes."

A bit shocked that Xander even had knowledge of that word, I replied, "Oh?  And what would that word be?"

Xander whispered, "butt."

"I see.  Well that's a word that is ok in most families.  Anything else?"

"Sometimes he says the 'd' word."

Again feeling a bit panicked, I asked, "And what would that word be?"


"Hmmm.  Ok."

"Sometimes he says the 's' word, too."

"What 's' word, hon?"


"Well, ok.  I think you can still play with him."  (;

Xander, looking relieved, began to walk out the door, then turned around and hesitantly added, "And Mom-- sometimes he even says 'ugly'."


So just a few minutes ago, Jessica walked in with Xander and said, "Mom, I think Xander said a bad word, but I'm not sure.  Is 'tooter' a bad word?"

Suppressing a giggle I replied, "No honey, that's not a bad word."

Jesi's reply:  "Ohhhhh.  Good to know!"

So grateful for the innocence of these two sweet kids!

That Explains Some Things...

I was getting into our 12-passenger van when I felt a little hand come over the back of my seat.  I reached up and found a candy wrapper sitting on my shoulder.  Glancing around, I saw that it was Lexi.

"What was that for, Lex?"  I asked.

"I'm done with it."

"Well I don't want your garbage."

"Then just drop it on the ground!"

Perhaps this is contributing to the often challenging task of keeping our house in order.  As I thought more about it, I realized that a wrapper on the floor really wouldn't be that offensive to a blind person.  Now, a big pile of toys on the other hand...

Thursday, May 10, 2012


This morning when I went to get Elli out of bed, she was nowhere to be seen.  For just a second, my heart dropped.  It's amazing how much can flash before your eyes in one second... was she playing in the toilet?  Had she snuck into Daddy's office?  Was she climbing on food storage shelves?

Then I realized that there was breathing coming from somewhere nearby.  I soon found our Elli, sound asleep under the bed with blankets stuffed around her so that there was no way I could have seen her.  Elli, Elli, Elli...

Graci is dying for a pet.  This girl is asking me every single day, multiple times in a day.  I've already ruled out a dog (thanks in part to many of your comments) and a cat is definitely out of the question with Jer's allergies.  At this point, she has asked for a tarantula, hamsters, turtles, fish, bunnies, a parakeet, and a snake.  We haven't ruled it out yet, but I am trying to be very careful about this whole thing.  I told her she needed to research about all of the pets and narrow it down, then come up with a plan about where she is going to keep the pet, how she is going to pay for the food, how often she has to clean the cage, how she will take care of it, etc.  I am so afraid that she will be enamored with whatever pet she chooses for about 2.5 days, and then resent it for the rest of its life.  She is very responsible, but she doesn't enjoy cleaning "gross stuff." And really, we don't have room for a pet in this house.  But she is sooooo insistent that it is important to her, so I am torn.  Ugh.

We are SO proud of Xander!!!!  He is playing baseball this year, and it is machine pitch.  He really struggled for the first three games and didn't get a single hit.  Last week he said that he was the worst player on his team.  Jeremy asked, "Who told you that?" and he replied, "Nobody.  I just know."  Sigh.  Jeremy and the boys worked with him in the backyard and something finally clicked.  The last two games he has gotten on base four out of five times-- all off of solid hits.  I was jumping up and down the first time-- I am just so happy for him! Go, Xander!!!

On Monday, Jessica had to get four teeth pulled out at the dentist.  It was quite the ordeal.  When we told her that morning (yes, we waited until the last possible minute) she was absolutely distraught.  I mean just TERRIFIED.  I talked her through it, and what finally got her to calm down was talking about how much money the tooth fairy would probably leave her that night.  She actually ended up doing much better than I expected at the dentist.  That night, she was so excited to put four teeth under her pillow and was thrilled to get ten whole dollars!  Well, this week is teacher appreciation week at Jesi's school.  Jessica has been begging to go and buy something for her teacher.  Finally last night she said, "Mom, I have such a great idea.  You can take me on a Mommy Date to the store and we can buy some dry erase markers for Mrs. Critchfield."  She had on her puppy dog eyes, and Jer was kind enough to put the littles to bed while we went to the closest store-- Walgreens.  We found the dry erase markers and found that they were nearly $12 for an 8-pack.  I was planning on buying little gifts for all of the other teachers as well  and didn't want to spend that much, so I convinced her to buy clorox wipes instead.  We got enough for all the teachers, then went to the chocolate section and picked out some nice chocolates.   We wanted to include all of Lexi's and Elli's helpers, so we had to buy 17 of them.  (This didn't even include Taylor's and Graci's teachers.)  Again, Jessica asked if she could please buy the dry erase markers, insisting that her teacher absolutely needed them, but I explained how much everything was going to cost and that it would just be too much money.  When we got to the checkout, Jesi turned to me with bright eyes and exclaimed, "I know!!  I can use my tooth fairy money, and then you will only have to pay $2.00 for the markers!"  She was so excited, and of course I let her get the markers.  She smiled all the way home and picked out a pretty ribbon to tie it all together with.  I thought she had forgotten about the tooth fairy money (and honestly I wasn't really going to make her pay me)  but this morning she came in my room first thing and happily handed me her $10 bill.  I'm telling this story to convey how much she LOVES her teacher.  I mean, she just worships her.  Almost every day as I do her hair she says, "I think Ms. Critchfield is going to just love my hair today, don't you?!"  It is so sweet.

Sophi is back in preschool twice a week for two hours after being off track for a month.  I must say, it is good to have her back in school!  That little break can do wonders for my psyche!  It is why I'm able to blog this right now!  Soph is really growing up.  Some of the phrases that come out of her mouth just crack me up.  She keeps me on my toes, as she repeats everything I say!  (;

Lexi continues to worship "Erin C."  Whenever she is sad, she wants me to rock her and make up songs about Erin C.  We're so grateful she has a best friend!

Taylor and Parker are doing GREAT at baseball this year.  Jeremy is their coach, and I'm not sure who loves it more- the boys or him!  They are both in the top league and they play against some really tough competition.  They lost their first game 18-3 against a coach Jeremy hadn't ever beat.  It was a rough start, but they went on to win their next several games.  Their last game was against the same team that killed them the first game and who was undefeated.  It was pretty intense and ended with a win-- for US!  The team was so excited, and I knew I could milk it for all it was worth that day because it put Jeremy in such a good mood.  (;

On the adoption front...

Our homestudy is completed and at USCIS.  We had our fingerprints taken earlier this week and are now just waiting for our I171.  Once we receive that, we'll get all of our documents authenticated and translated and then they will be sent off to China.  We're still looking good for December travel!  Conner and Calais are in our thoughts and prayers every day and we can't get them here soon enough!  We're still praying for a miracle to get a bigger home before they come and we have faith that it can happen if it's His will for us.

Thank you so much for all of the supportive comments about our new adoption and particularly about our little announcement video!  For those who have asked where to find it, you can now view it from the sidebar by clicking under "Meet Conner and Cali." We have been so grateful for the support and kind words!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


At one point in my life I wanted to be President of the United States.  (Can you even imagine?!?)  When I got my first real sales job, my goal was to eventually be the CEO of that major corporation.  While I appreciate those who do fill such important positions, my vision for my life has changed dramatically as my family has grown.  Even before we left for China the first time, I could see that I enjoyed  my kids far too much to follow career paths that required such extensive time away from the family.  There was also a period where I wanted to run a marathon.  I have talked to several people who have done this (or even an Iron Man triathalon!) and their experiences have been tremendous.  But at this point, I don't think that a marathon is for me (although I did run my first 5K last summer and might attempt one of those again).  My knees are a bit banged up for such punishment.

But I do have a passion, one that I can share with my wife and (some of my) kids.  Hiking to the top of tall mountains!  I love it!  I can't explain the rush I get from it.  It is a magnificent, even spiritual experience for me.  I definitely enjoy a beautiful viewpoint that can be accessed by driving to it, but there is something amazing about the view that you have had to work for.  For years now, Taylor, Parker, Christi and I (and sometimes Christi's brother, Matthew) have back-packed in to the Lone Peak Wilderness and camped overnight.  We don't go to the top of Lone Peak, but we climb about 2500 feet in elevation and get to a spectacular viewpoint.  We treasure this experience, and it is a tradition that I hope continues for years to come.  (The boys always ask me how long I'll keep doing this hike and I tell them my goal is to be able to do it until I'm 70!)  I have set the goal to get to the top of 7 of the mountains along the Wasatch front (the mountains along the east side of the Salt Lake Valley and Utah Valley) by the time Parker graduates from high school.  Our goal this year is to peak Mt. Timpanogos

Last summer we got to the top of the first of those seven mountains:  Y mountain in Provo.  This is the mountain that has the "Y" on it above BYU campus.  We have hiked to the Y before, but never beyond it.  We set out on this amazing trip in the afternoon, knowing that we would reach the top before dark, but would need flashlights on the way back down. We climbed about 3500 feet in elevation and hiked about 10 miles.  As we were going up, there were times I wondered what I had gotten us into.  But once we reached the summit, there was no question whether or not it was worth it.  We were exhilarated!  What a treasured memory.  I am sure we will do it again.  Here are some pics from the trip:
Ready to get started!

The view looking up from the "Y"

On the "Y"

Utah Lake in the background

We went in October and the colors were gorgeous!

Mt. Timpanogos in the background

We made it!!!

My honey loves me:)

I mentioned that is was a 3500 foot, 10 mile hike.  That was for Christi and the boys.  I got a bonus adventure!  When we were back at the Y (about 2/3 of the way down) Taylor suddenly realized he had left his backpack with our $500 camera in it at our previous rest stop.  At this point, it was pitch black.  The camera was probably a mile and half and 1500 feet behind us.  What to do?  At first I just resigned myself to a lost camera.  Then I thought of the pictures and really wanted to get it.  Maybe I would come back on Monday and retrieve it.  But we were already at a point that was halfway to where the camera was.  So I went and got it that night.  By myself.  In the dark.  There's a reason the BYU mascot is the cougar.  Yes, I was a bit nervous.  Made plenty of noise so as to scare any large predators away.  I almost picked up two sticks and started hitting them together (think Parent Trap:).  In the end, all was successful, although I looked like I was about 95 years old as my creaking knees hobbled down the final mile of the trail.

All in all, it was an unmatched day.  I am so grateful for my three fantastic friends and travel companions.  Love you guys!